Thor got called down to Midgard a few months after the incident with the aether, and apparently had managed to talk Odin into allowing Loki to go down. To help build relations, he'd said, to start making up for what he had done. Loki had...maybe minor intentions of doing such, but he was mostly looking forward to seeing Ronan again, to getting a new book from him- he'd easily completed the last few books in the Harry Potter series and maybe wanted to shake Ronan for getting him so invested in the life of a fictional boy.
They'd landed on the balcony of Stark Tower, the Avengers standing ready to greet them. Or at least Thor- they looked like they hadn't expected Loki to join his brother. At least they weren't attempting to kill him. Loki fully suspected that was Ronan's doing.
As though the thought had summoned him, Ronan's head peered out onto the balcony and lit up like a sun at the sight of Loki. In a matter of seconds, he was pushing his way through the Avengers to fling his arms around Loki's neck to pull him into a much appreciated kiss.
He could feel the Avengers staring. It made him smile when Ronan pulled back, eyes smiling.
"Kept me waiting long enough."
"Only a few months." Loki countered, one hand moving to card through Ronan's hair, fingers tangling in the messy curls. "It could have been two years, but it wasn't. I keep my promises." Ronan snorted at that.
"I suppose." He linked their hands together, pulling him inside, oblivious to the looks of disbelief the Avengers were giving him. "Have you finished the books? Because I need to complain about the films to you."
Out of all the Avengers at the tower, Loki knew Ronan's favourite was Tony Stark. Ask him directly and Ronan would deny that he had a favourite, but he did, and Stark was closely followed by Banner.
It probably had something to do with how Stark treated Ronan like he was family, with friendly hair ruffles and banter traded back and forth with an ease that Loki envied. He'd never had that ease, his jibes always taken to heart and any at him obviously malicious in intent.
Ronan had been babbling on about something called The Adventure Zone and had darted off to retrieve his phone from where he'd left it in the kitchen, when Loki was first approached by Stark.
The engineer placed himself in a chair, sprawling out in it in his effortlessly elegant way. He had a grin on his face that Loki was familiar with - he usually found it on himself.
"So." Stark started, his eyes serious despite his casual posture. "You and the kid?"
"I assure you, he's not a 'kid'." Loki responded coolly. "And if you speak of our relationship...it is of a romantic nature."
Was it a relationship? An official thing? Loki wasn't sure - they hadn't truly spoken about what this was, if it was just a temporary thing or...more. if he was being honest with himself, Loki was hoping for more.
"Yes, about that." Stark leaned forward in his seat, his entire being losing its relaxed pose. "Let's get one thing clear- I don't trust you. I don't care about you being under duress during the attack on New York, this isn't about that. It isn't about the issue in London either." Stark raised an eyebrow. "This is because you are known as the god of Lies, and if this thing is some sort of ploy to get close to us and tear us down, well…"
"I assure you it's not." Loki resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Stark nodded once, made to lean back, but paused half way.
"Don't hurt him." He said, and his voice had gone deadly quiet. "If he comes to me, telling me you've hurt him, I know people who can male your time here really difficult."
"I don't doubt you do." Loki said in reply, although he sincerely doubted it. Was this...posturing and threatening common with Midgardian courtship? Stark merely nodded once more, before settling back in his seat, looking as though the exchange had never happened when Ronan returned phone in his hand.
"Ok, so it's a podcast - oh, hi Tony!" Ronan grinned when he spotted him sitting in the chair. Loki watched as the billionaire's gaze softened.
"Hey kid - what you talking to Reindeer Games about?"
"Can you believe he's never heard of the McElroys? I mean, honestly -"
Marie Sanchez was sleeping with Natasha Romanoff.
It was common knowledge at this point, even to Loki who was new to the tower, and it was common to find Marie in the kitchen on a morning, wearing clothes from the night before and looking slightly low. It was sad to see her like that, because Loki remembered the boisterous woman who had seen him off after the New York incident, and it was a sharp contrast.
Also, Ronan liked her.
This wasn't one of those mornings - this time, Marie had brought a small group of friends around to the tower and placed a board game on the table. Ronan groaned loudly.
"Yes." Marie said. "Monopoly. The game that destroys families. Tyler's banker."
Tyler was the only one of Marie's friends Loki didn't recognise - the boy and the girl had both been at the battle of New York and Loki had ingrained the image of the tiny blonde yelling down Director Fury into his mind. Tyler looked soft, like Kirsten did, but with features similar to Hogun's, his dark hair cut messily and a pair of thick, black rimmed glasses framed his eyes.
They started setting up the board, Ronan seeming resigned to his fate.
"Lo, can you get me some coffee?" He asked, with pleading eyes, oblivious to how Eli mouthed 'Lo?' To Marie, who shrugged in response. "I'm going to need it, playing with these cheaters."
Kirsten, who had been in the process of hiding a community chest card up her sleeve, returned it to the deck with a sigh. Loki decided it was best not to ask, and headed into the kitchen to get Ronan his requested coffee.
He was greeted with the sight of Romanoff making herself a cup of tea. She, along with Banner and Loki himself, we're the only people in the tower who would drink tea in preference to coffee. He merely nodded in greeting before starting to work the coffee machine. He had picked it up pretty quickly, unlike Thor who had scowled at it when it refused to produce the beverage.
"So. You and Spire." Loki didn't even start when Romanoff spoke, merely glanced at her with a raised eyebrow.
"What about it?"
"I'm an assassin. You know this." Romanoff sipped her tea. Loki noted the mug had a spider printed on it - Stark seemed set on everyone having a personalised mug. Loki's had his horns as the handle of a dark green one, while Ronan's had Felix Felicis written on the side in sparkling gold. He took that mug from the cupboard and willed the machine to speed up. "I know over a hundred ways to kill you with the objects in this room. I can hide a body where no one will find it. I can make your death look like a tragic accident. It will happen if you make Ronan even slightly upset."
Loki felt a sudden surge of anger well up in him. Also, deja vu, but the anger was more prominent.
"I see. So if Marie comes downstairs, looking like someone has just died, I'm allowed to make the same such threats?" He watched as Romanoff's face pinked.
"That is not the same. We are not together."
"A pity." Loki filled up Ronan's mug. "Maybe I should introduce her to Sif? They would make a stunning couple." He walked back into the living room, pricing himself on how he managed to not smirk when he saw Romanoff flinch.
It was common knowledge amongst SHIELD and the Avengers that Loki had taken control of Clint Barton’s mind. Of course it was - they had fought against the archer until Romanoff had nearly given him a concussion and had broken what control Loki had on him.
What was less common knowledge was that Loki had never had complete control over Barton’s actions - he hadn’t killed Fury, just like Selvig had added a failsafe to the device he’d created. A lot of what Barton had done had been due to the influence of the mind stone, yes, but he had been fighting against it all the while, just as Loki had been slowly and surely fighting back against Thanos.
Barton had been studiously avoiding Loki, disappearing into vents whenever he entered a room - Loki knew this, could hear his near silent movements when he focused enough. He hadn’t expected to ever be confronted by the archer, but this was disproven a week or so into his time at the tower.
Ronan had introduced Loki to a TV series called Star Trek, and had gotten great enjoyment out of Loki’s bafflement at what they thought space was like. Some points, he had to admit, were accurate, which only made Ronan laugh harder. There were also movies made recently, and Ronan had shown Loki pictures of the cast. They were significantly more attractive than the older, though that may purely be because of the fact that it was younger actors portraying them - he was sure that the man who played Bones in the modern adaptation looked like an Asgardian footsoldier, though, and that put him right off watching them. Besides, according to Ronan, the TV show was much better.
Loki was enraptured by things called Tribbles, Ronan having left to make sure Stark had eaten something as JARVIS had requested, when Barton dropped down from a vent and stole a handful of Doritos from the bowl Loki had set on the bedside table.
“I was eating those.” Loki said, and Barton merely shoved a handful in his mouth, chewing on them obnoxiously. Loki resisted the urge to wrinkle his nose. “Lovely. What do you want?”
“Apart from doritos? A chat.” Barton took a seat on Ronan’s bed, lips quirking up when he noticed the bedspread was a map of Middle Earth - yet another human creation Loki had found himself falling in love with.
“I...see.” Loki felt himself growing tired of this. “You’re going to threaten me if I hurt Ronan, yes? Is this a common human thing?”
“It’s called a shovel talk. And yes, it is.” Barton’s gaze flickered to the tv. “You might want to pause that.” Loki sighed, but with a flicker of his fingers the image on the screen froze. He noted Barton’s flinched, and made the decision to not use as much magic around him - even if the man had tried to shoot him that one time, Loki admitted he sort of maybe a little bit deserved it, and he was one of the most tolerable Avengers. That wasn’t saying much, though, considering that one had threatened him with death.
“Go on then - might as well get this over with.”
“Ronan - he’s a good kid.” Barton started, eyes serious. “You don’t find many like him - frankly, I think you don’t deserve him. For some fucked up reason he likes you. Don’t hurt him, don’t even think about it, because if he comes crying, next time you won’t be able to catch the arrow I shoot at your head.”
“I’d let it hit.” Loki replied, and Barton’s eyebrows raised in surprise, before he let out a quiet snort of amusement.
“You’re not bad - you know, for someone who tried to take over the world and brainwashed me.”
“In my defence, I was under duress both times.” Loki reminded him and Barton rolled his eyes.
“Whatever, Reindeer Games.” It seemed he’d picked up Stark’s nickname, and Loki may have to punch the inventor for that, but Barton was already moving back to the vent. Loki watch as he clambered back into it and disappeared just as Ronan returned to the room, carrying two plates of pasta.
“Who were you talking to?”
“A friend of yours.” Loki replied, taking one of the plates Ronan offered him. “Don’t worry about it.”
Loki raised an eyebrow when Thor sat across from him in the living room. Loki himself was sat on the sofa, feet tucked under him and Ronan asleep, leaning against his shoulder. He had started reading The Great Gatsby, and Ronan had fallen asleep while listening to his voice.
“Hurt him, and I won't hesitate to hurt you in return.”
“Aren't you supposed to be having this chat with Ronan, considering the fact I'm your brother?” Loki had to asked. Thor gave him an incredulous look.
“Have you tried threatening Ronan?” He asked, and Loki knew it was rhetorical because he had and it had failed. Miserably.
He sort of got a partner out of it, though, so Loki couldn't complain.
“...Alright, you've made your point. Let me mark my page before you really get into it, though.”
Steve Rogers - Loki did not know what to make of the living legend. Even after Ronan had given him the comic books, after he had talked with awe about him, Loki did not know what to make of Rogers. Other than the fact that sometimes he wanted to hit him when Ronan got that awed look in his eyes when he spoke about him, but Loki had a feeling that was jealousy.
Though he had nothing to feel jealous about, not when he was the one who made Ronan go dizzy with kisses.
He wanted to have Ronan under him and mewling, but he could wait. Forever, if he must.
The point was, Rogers seemed too...well, good, to do what all the other Avengers had done, which was threaten Loki with bodily harm and irreparable damage to his reputation if he dare hurt Ronan in any way, shape or form. Which made it a surprise when Rogers cornered him one morning when Loki was headed to the kitchen.
The Captain had a set to his face that was stern and determined and Loki sighed internally. Seemed like he wasn’t going to get his breakfast just yet. A shame, too - he’d wanted to have it in solitude before his brother and Clint got into a fight over poptarts. And maybe take in Ronan’s sleep mussed face when he’d had caffeine enough to appreciate it properly.
“Rogers.” Loki eyed the side of the Captain and realised there was no way he could slip past him. Might as well get this over and done with. “If you’re going to threaten me, can you just...do it?”
He watched as Rogers looked confused, before realisation hit him.
“Have already done the routine, yes.” Loki drawled. “Can you get on with it so I can make a cup of tea and go back to bed? I have a book I’d like to read.” And a boy I want to wake up, he didn’t add. He allowed Rogers a few seconds to gather himself.
“I’m not a super spy. I’m not a god or a billionaire. I can’t do anything that they can.” Rogers managed. “But I give a damn about Ronan. He’s good and kind and deserves a lot more than the hand he’s been dealt in his life. You might be something to him, but mark my words, you hurt him and I will hurt you back. We clear?”
“Crystal.” Loki said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “Can I get my tea now?” Rogers moved to the side and Loki sauntered past him.
Ronan was awake when Loki finally returned, and he sighed at an opportunity missed. He still got a kiss, so he supposed it wasn’t all bad.
Loki hated shopping duty. He had been assigned this duty with Bruce - apparently the group didn’t trust that he and Ronan would get the shopping done. It was a fair assumption - last time Loki had backed Ronan into a changing room and they’d spent their time kissing instead of buying food.
Loki was accompanying Banner around the supermarket, absently throwing things into the shopping trolley that they needed - Barton had requested some horrible sounding crisps and Stark wanted expensive coffee beans. Banner had added the tea he wanted, a fruity flavoured thing that Loki may or may not steal in the near future, and he was currently making considering noises over the boxes of poptarts that Thor had requested.
“What flavour?” Banner asked, staring intently at a box of blueberry flavoured pop tarts. “I’m open to suggestions.”
“One of each. Thor and Barton go through them quickly enough.” Loki stated and watched in amusement as Banner did as suggested, tossing one of each flavour into the trolley before continuing down the aisle. “I think it’s your turn.”
“For what, exactly?” Banner asked, giving Loki a critical look. “If you mean paying, I swiped Tony’s card because he won’t miss the money used to fill his tower up with groceries.”
“For the shovel talk.” Loki replied. “Every other Avenger has given me one - I suppose you’re going to threaten me with your be - the Hulk.” Loki corrected himself. Ronan had implored him to do so, stating that Hulk was not a mindless beast, but was just as intelligent as others, even without his complex speech patterns.
“Ah. Actually, I wasn’t going to give you one.” Banner adjusted his glasses slightly. “Contrary to popular belief, I think Ronan knows what he’s doing. He does reckless things, like when he spoke to the Hulk, but...he knows what he’s doing. If he’s with you, he knows the risks and I trust him to make the right decisions. He knows he’s going to get hurt.”
“I would never -”
“Don’t sound so offended.” Banner shot Loki a look at his righteous anger. Loki would never hurt Ronan, not after the disaster that was the knife incident, not after Ronan had cried over him. The mere thought of it hurt him too much to bear thinking about. “You will hurt him, eventually - not intentionally, no, but...he’s been through a lot. I think he lost his way, lost...something when he was young, and his luck was the only thing that left him hanging on.”
Loki had the sudden vision of him dangling from the bifrost, letting go and falling into the nothing, hoping…
His blood went cold at the thought that Ronan may have felt like that once upon a time.
“He...he tried to…”
“I didn’t say that.” Banner said, but he sounded sheepish. He hadn’t meant to spill that much, Loki guessed, and he was beating himself up over it. “Just...be careful with what you say, what you do. Don’t let the others put you off - I haven’t seen Ronan smile as much as when you returned, or make a reference to something he showed you. You make him happy, and as much as the others act, that’s all they want Ronan to be.”
“...Thank you, Banner.”
“It’s Bruce.” Banner - no, Bruce - said with a smile. “Anything else to add?”
“...There are these cheesy chips -”
“Doritos. Yeah, we’ll grab those before we do the actual shopping.”
“It’s not that funny.” Loki protested as Ronan began giggling hysterically, burying his face against Loki’s shoulder. “I thought you’d be on my side.”
“Sorry, sorry, I just -” Ronan pulled his face away from Loki’s shoulder, eyes bright with laughter and smile wide and amused. “They actually gave you the shovel talk?”
“Apparently.” Loki stated, rolling his eyes when Ronan snickered. “I don’t see what’s so funny about it.”
“It’s what parents do. Older siblings.” He said. “Family.”
And oh. It wasn’t that it was funny - it was joyful laughter, because Loki hadn’t met Ronan’s biological family, but the idiots who inhabited the tower...they were his family. Ronan just hadn’t realised it until they’d all decided to gang up on Loki, apparently.
“Should I be expecting more of these familial threats?”
“I’ll tell them to back off.” Ronan promised. “If you break my heart I’m pretty sure I can beat you up myself. Or I’ll cry and you’ll start panicking.”
“Please don’t cry.” Loki asked. “I don’t know how to deal with crying.”
“Hugs work.” Ronan offered. “Also kisses. Though that might depend on how much I’m crying - if it’s hysterical don’t kiss me. I’d need to breathe.”
“You’re ridiculous.” Loki said, rolling his eyes, and Ronan gave him a lopsided smile.
“That’s part of the reason you love me, though.” He pointed out, and it was true. Loki gave a put upon sigh before cupping Ronan’s face in his hands and meeting his lips in a kiss. When Ronan sighed into it, Loki slipped his tongue into his mouth, running it along the top of Ronan’s mouth. He felt Ronan let out a slight whimper, then heard him whine when Loki pulled back, bumping their noses together.
“No more shovel talks?”
“If you kiss me again, I’ll make sure of it.”
And with that, Loki pulled Ronan down onto the bed and proceeded to kiss him senseless.
After all, he shouldn’t have to deal with more threats.