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“Thor, why on earth would you bring Loki here?”

Stark was angry, and Thor had to admit for good reason. The last time the Avengers had seen his brother he was in chains after attacking New York and was trying to kill them. But a lot had happened since then and Loki was no longer the homicidal maniac, as some may have put it; he was getting better, which Thor tried to explain to his friends.

“I understand your hesitation, but believe me when I tell you that he has changed.”

“He threw me off a building!”

“I am aware, but…”

“Do you remember how many people he killed?”, Natasha continued.

“I do.” Thor knew it would be hard to convince them of Loki’s changed nature. They hadn’t seen him back on Asgard and Sakaar, how they worked together, side by side. “I also do remember how many people he saved on Asgard.”

“And we’re just supposed to believe that?”

“Tony, I know it’s hard to believe, but I actually saw it with my own eyes”, Bruce explained, “we did fight together.”Thank Frigga for Bruce. Maybe Tony would trust his word.

“I’m sorry Bruce, but I don’t trust Hulk’s judgement on fighting.”

“You know, I don’t either. But we have travelled together all across the galaxy together, and, as much as it is weird to admit it, but we’re actually friends.”

Thor looked around the room, at his fellow Avengers, as reassuringly as he could.

“Guys, I’m sorry, but it is a lot to take in. You disappear for two years which you spent as gladiator-style slaves on an alien planet before blowing up your homeplanet to defeat your evil older sister you never knew and oh, by the way, Loki is good now”, Clint summarized. “Excuse us for taking a moment to process all this.”

“I understand”, Thor answered, “though if you put it like that, my brother being good is the most believable of all this.” He grinned a little and heard a chuckle from Bruce.

“It’s really not funny, guys”, Nat grumbled.

“It’s a little funny.”

“Maybe you had to be there…” Bruce gently patted his arm, sort of pulled him back. Maybe humour was the wrong way to smooth things over.

“Friends, we are not asking you to trust Loki. We are asking you to trust us!”, he pleaded.

Tony locked eyes with Bruce. “You really trust him?”

“I trust that he is willing to better himself and I trust that we can help him with that”, he nodded.

The Avengers exchanged a few glances, before Tony took two steps towards Thor, who was getting a little nervous. What if they were to tell them to leave?

“You vouch for your brother, Point Break?”

“I take full responsibility”, Thor nodded.

“I’m going to regret this, aren’t I?”, he grumbled and shook his head, before looking back up. “Fine. We will give him a chance. But the slightest slip-up…”

“Thank you, Stark, a chance is all I’m asking for.” Gratefully, he smiled at the man, before he turned to Bruce. “What do you say, we go and give him the good news?”

“That will not be necessary.”

Thor didn’t need to turn around to recognize his little brother’s voice. Of course, he had listened in on the entire discussion. And his friends looked mad about that.

“Loki, what about waiting outside?”, Bruce hissed at him.

“But it is so much more fun here!” With a smug grin, Loki greeted the Avengers. “Hello. Long time, no see. How have you been?”

Silence. Thor and Bruce exchanged a quick, worried glance, before Bruce broke it. “How about I take Loki back to the ship and get all our belongings?”

“That is a good idea, Bruce.” He nodded at his friend and shot his brother a warning glance. Loki did a theatrical curtsy and followed Bruce out of the room.

As soon as the door closed, it felt like all the tension vanished out of the room. Everybody sank on a chair, leaned against the furniture and Thor wasn’t sure what to do or say.

.

The events on Asgard, the destruction of Hela and his home were weeks ago. They had travelled through the galaxy, looking for a place to settle. The first idea, to bring everybody to earth, was squandered rather quickly, due to the impracticability of settling an entire people on an already overpopulated planet. And they got lucky, only a few jumps from earth they found a small planet, similar to Asgard, not formerly inhabited. It was a truly nice place and Thor was happy that they had found it.

When he, Bruce and Loki travelled on to earth after a few weeks, New Asgard was already a small town, consisting of only rudimentary huts, but it was something. Thor had made sure not to leave until everybody had a roof over their head and that there was enough to eat.

For the duration of his stay on earth, he left Valkyrie in charge and had not a doubt in his mind that she would be exemplary at this task. Nonetheless, he wanted to get back to his people as soon as he could; as important as getting Bruce home and taking care of Loki was, he still felt like he abandoned the Asgardians and hoped that everything on earth was handled quickly.

The flight back to earth was rather rough though; the all-round anxiety in their ship rose to an uncomfortable amount. Thor was worried about Loki and Asgard, Bruce was worried about Loki and seeing Natasha again and Loki didn’t show it, but he was just as anxious about the Avenger’s reception of him.

“Thor, are you sure we can convince them to let Loki stay?”, Bruce whispered over. “The others remember him as the guy who almost killed them. That’s not easy to get over.”

“I know this”, Thor hissed back, “but you and I can testify to the newer leaf he has turned over.”

“If you say so…”

“I do”, he assured Bruce. “I also know that things between you and Romanoff will be fine.”

“And this conversation is over.” Bruce turned his head and stared out the window, looking down as earth approached in view, clearly not ready to discuss Natasha. Which was understandable: Bruce told him that the last thing he remembered before hulking out was kissing her in Sokovia, next thing he woke up on Sakaar two years later.

“Look, I think that’s New York, isn’t it? Almost there!”, he changed the subject. And soon thereafter, they landed on the giantlawn in front of the compound.

“Damn”, Bruce wondered astonished, “Tony really stepped things up a bit.”

“It’s a pity, how will I be able to throw anyone off this building now?” Dramatically, Loki raised his hands, with a pained expression on his face.

“You see, that’s exactly why they won’t be happy to have you back.”

“Brother, you need to behave yourself better. And maybe wait in here until we have explained the situation to the Avengers. Please”, he urged Loki.

“Fine”, he groaned and fell back on a seat.

“Thank you. We will fetch you as soon as possible.”

When their ship’s door opened, they were already greeted by some very confused and astonished Avengers.

“Friends! It has been so long! Look who I found in space!” Bruce was so shaky with anxiety, Thor had to pull him along behind him.

“Bruce? We thought you were dead!” They were barely down the platform, when Tony embraced him, the rest of the group standing right behind.

“Surprise, still kicking.”

“What the fuck happened to you? All of a sudden you’re gone!”

“Honestly, not quite sure. And it’s a long story…”

“Alright, come on in and tell us everything.”

At the back of the little cluster of Avengers, Thor saw Natasha. Well, sometimes one just had to rip off the bandage.... He nudged Bruce’s arm and nodded in her direction.

“Wow, how discreet, Point Break”, Tony snorted.

Before Thor could justify his action, Bruce shook his head at him and locked eyes with Natasha. “Hi Nat.”

“Hey Bruce.”

Now, Thor’s sense of awkwardness was not very profound, but even he felt weird watching them meet again. Under normal circumstances he would give them all the time they needed right now, but – unbeknownst to his friends – only a handful of meters behind them sat his little brother, hoping for their mercy.

“Now, how about we get to that story of yours?” As usual, Stark was ahead of him.

“Good idea”, he agreed with him, “shall we convene inside?”

And that was that. About an hour later, the Avengers were more or less caught up on what happened: his father’s death, being imprisoned on Sakaar as a gladiator, fighting Hulk, starting the revolution and fleeing, fighting Hela, destroying Asgard – and reuniting with Loki.

.

“I can’t… I…” A speechless Clint was truly a remarkable and unusual sight.

“I understand that this must be hard for you.”

“Do you? Do you really?”, Tony yelled. “And now you just drop him off here, while you’re off being king, leaving us to babysit your little brother?”

“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t believe in him. Which I do. And I am not leaving until everything here is settled.”

“Well, if there’s one thing the Avengers are good at, it’s at giving second chances.” Captain America’s voice was calm and steady, and as Thor felt, very soothing. Steve looked at his new friend that Thor hadn’t met yet, and looked back at Tony. “You let the two of us back after all…”

“Wait, what?” Shocked, Thor looked between the two men. “You kicked him out? What happened?”

“Good question”, Tony answered tiredly, “we’ll catch you up another time. But I guess you’re right, I don’t see anyone in here who didn’t get a second chance, deserved a second chance.” He looked up at Thor and held his hand out. “We’ll figure it out. Together.”

“Thank you, dear friend.”

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

“So, two years of gladiator lifestyle… Hulk must have loved that.” Natasha sat down opposite Bruce.

“So much so, that he hasn’t let me out since Sokovia”, he explained.

“Really?” Nat was silent for a moment. “What is the last thing you remember?”, she asked carefully.

He glanced up at her, a little awkwardly. “You and me… you know…”

“Kissing?”, she finished his sentence.

Silently, he nodded.

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Trust me, if the last thing you know is kissing, well, you, and next thing you see is Thor’s face very close to your own, you get a little confused.”

Natasha started laughing. “That I can believe.”

After the excitement of their return had died down a little, Bruce and Nat finally got to talk, just the two of them. And Bruce was one the one hand really glad about that, on the other hand quite anxious and nervous, though.

“What are your plans then? For the foreseeable future…”

“I think, there’s a lot I have to figure out”, Bruce answered after taking a deep breath. “Starting with what I know best, my science. Tony already told me, there’s a lab where I can set up my stuff and I think that’s what I need to do right now, so I can… I don’t know…”

“Get a sense of a normal life?”, Nat helped.

“To figure out what a normalcy means now. You know with Loki being here, my probably outdated research, with me and the Big Guy and…” He looked up at her. “And with us.”

She smiled softly back. “Whatever you need, I’m here.”

“Thanks.”

“It’s the least I can do”, she grinned, “after you came back from the dead and all!”

.-.-.--.--.-.--.--.--.--.--.--.-.--.--.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

“Peter! Dinner is ready!”

“I’m almost done with homework, two more minutes!”

“Hurry up, I’m starving!”

He giggled to himself and finished up his equations as fast as he could. Once Peter put his pen down, he grabbed his phone and headed for the kitchen. Huh. Again, no message from Mr. Stark.

“Hey, Petey, honey, what’s wrong?” May sat at the laid table, looking concerned. Hm, his disappointment must have shown.

“Nothing, I’m alright.”

“Peter. You have been a little off for a while and I thought it best to give you space to figure it out. I have a feeling that it’s not getting better though, so please, let me help you!”

He took a deep breath. “Fine.” He was really not in the mood to think of some excuses, why he wasn’t perfectly happy, so might as well tell her the truth. “I think Mr. Stark is done with me.” He has had that thought for a while now, but saying it out loud felt like a slap in the face.

“What? No, I don’t think that for a moment!”

“It’s the only explanation…”

“For what?”

“For keeping me away from the compound, away from the Avengers and…”

“Peter, look at me.” May took his hands and squeezed them reassuringly. Damnit, and now he started to cry. “What I hear from Pepper is that he loves being your mentor. So maybe there is just some stuff going on at the compound.”

“But why not tell me? Why is he cancelling workshop hours without reason?”

“You should probably ask him that.”

“I did!”, Peter yelled, jumping up. “I asked him what’s wrong, I asked him if I should come over some other time, I asked him if there’s anything I can help with and nothing!” Angry tears were streaming down his face. “He straight up ignored my last three texts, and when I try to call, I get voicemail or a very short talk, like ‘now is not a good time’.”

He fell back down on the chair and wiped the tears from his cheek. “It’s been weeks. Well, guess he doesn’t want me anymore…”

Immediately his aunt was by his side, wrapping her arms around him. Peter leaned in, sobbing against her shoulder.

“Shhh, it’s alright, love. Everything will be alright. You are the most amazing person, you’re smart, you’re talented, you’re freaking Spider-Man!”

May kept on whispering reassuringly in his ear. And although he couldn’t receive most of what she said, her soothing voice calmed him down. Eventually he unwrapped himself from her embrace, wiping his eyes and smiled, as well as he could.

“Dinner?”

“Dinner!”, she softly agreed.

-.-.-..-.--.-..-..-.-..--.--.-..-.--.--.

“ANTHONY EDWARD STARK!”

Oh oh. That didn’t sound good. Slowly, he put the wrench down and turned around to see a very angry May Parker and Pepper Potts in front of him. Shit. He was in trouble. And in danger.

“Hello ladies, what brings you to my workshop?”

He could barely finish his sentence. May stormed towards him and grabbed him by the collar. “You made my kid cry, so if you don’t have a good explanation right now…”

She left the rest unsaid. Fuck. Even though he didn’t like to admit it, he was terrified. And confused.

“I made Peter cry? Why? What did I do?”

“And I was so happy that he had you! What kind of irresponsible, selfish bastard takes a kid under his wing, mentors him, becomes a treasured and important part of his family, my family, just to drop him when you’re bored with him?” May didn’t speak as much as she spat the words in his face, with her eyes getting wet. “I trusted you with my kid!”

“May, I’m not bored with Peter, he’s one of the most amazing people I know!”

“Then why are you ghosting him?” With each syllable, May boxed against his chest before she took a few steps back, into Pepper’s arms.

Shit. He fucked up. He fucked up big time. “Oh god. I am ghosting Peter.” Tony felt the colour drain from his face and he leaned against the wall, breathing hard. “I’m so sorry, I… May, I didn’t want to…”
No, no, no, he didn’t want that, he just wanted to keep Peter safe, not hurt him! Oh, what did he do? He felt his lungs constricting, everything around him started to blur.

“Tony? Hey, Tony, look at me.” Pepper stood in front of him, grabbing his shoulders. “Take a deep breath, in… and out… yes, just like that. Good.”

“I’m alright”, he reassured her after a few moments and with a deep breath he turned to May. “Is that what Peter thinks? That I’m tired of him?”

“His exact words were: ‘guess he doesn’t want me anymore’.”

“Oh god. I gotta fix this.” He pushed past the two women, his suit already piecing together. He heard a cry of “Tony, wait…”, but he was already out the door, flying straight towards Queens.

“FRIDAY, can you pull up Peter’s tracker?”

“He’s at Kissena Park.”

“Thanks.”

Only minutes later, he flew over Queens, towards that red suit, sitting on a rooftop, overlooking the park.

“What do you want?”

Ouch. Peter didn’t even look up at him, his voice cold as ice.

“I want to apologize.”

“For…?”

“For being a horrible person and an absolute asshole.” He sat down next to Peter. “You are one of the most amazing people I have ever known and the best kid anyone could ever hope to have. And in my craze trying to protect you, I went a little overboard.”

“You think it’s protecting me to basically cut off all contact?”, Peter yelled as he jumped up and stared at Tony, his big eyes filled with tears.

“I did think that. Until your aunt and Pepper made it very clear to me what I was actually doing to you. And I am so sorry…”

“Nah, it’s alright.” The look in Peter’s eyes changed from rage to what looked like sadness, almost like defeat. “I guess that’s just the way it is, people around me leave…”

It felt like a punch in the face, fist to the stomach and kick in the nuts at the same time. “You don’t believe that, do you?”

Peter just shrugged. “Was just a matter of time, right?” With that, he motioned to web off.

“Loki’s back!” Tony blurted out.

“Wait, what?” He stopped dead in his movement.

Tony took a deep breath. “A few weeks ago, Thor sort of dropped him off at the compound, says he’s good now. He hasn’t killed anyone yet, so I guess that’s something… But things are tense. And kinda complicated there right now.”
After a moment of silence, Peter sat back down next to Tony. “Loki. Is that why you made me keep my distance?”

“Yes”, he nodded. “It’s just… I don’t know when the other shoe’s gonna drop. I mean, sure, people can change, but…” He left the rest unsaid.

“Why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because that’s the best way I knew to keep you absolutely safe.”

“That’s ridiculous.” Peter turned towards Tony, his arms crossed, a pissed off expression on his face. “Like I would have just rushed over to get Loki to teach me how to throw knives, or whatever…”

“No, Peter, that’s not…”

“Oh, it’s exactly what you meant!”, he interrupted, “so, to summarize, instead of letting me know that – thanks to a former alien villain – things were complicated at the compound, you just ignore me?”

“I really am a horrible person, aren’t I? I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you what was going on. And I am so sorry for ever letting you believe that you are not enough, that I wouldn’t want to spend time with you, or wouldn’t want you anymore!”

“Really?”

“Really. I am so, so immeasurably sorry that I lied, ignored and ghosted you.” To proof it, Tony put his arm around the boy’s shoulder. “You are the best kid anyone could ever ask for. I am an absolute idiot for not telling you that before.”

“Thanks, Mr. Stark.” Peter leaned in closer. “You’re not too bad yourself.”

“Gee, thanks, kid”, Tony laughed. Man, it felt like a weight lifted of his chest and for a little while they sat together in silence, looking over the park. Tony could feel that Peter was still wary, and it would take time to get their relationship back where it was, to rebuild the trust the kid had in him.

Eventually, Tony broke the silence: “Let me make it up to you.”

“Do I get to fly one of your suits?” Peter grinned up at him, his eyes glinting with a few last tears.

“Not gonna happen”, he grunted. “No, I thought that maybe you would like to meet the god of thunder?”

“REALLY? OhyespleaseIwouldlovetothatwouldbesofreakingamazing!”

“Breathe, Peter, calm down.” The boy was almost vibrating with excitement, a wide grin from ear to ear.

“Sorry. I’m gonna be cool, I promise!”

“I bet you will. So, what do you say, shall we go?”

“Like right now?”

Tony got up, pulled Peter to his feet. “I might even give you a lift.”

Cue Peter’s chin dropping to the floor. “You are really sorry… I mean you never…”

“Don’t get used to it. One time offer only.” He held his hand out. “And yes, I don’t remember the last time I’ve been that sorry for anything I’ve done. To proof it, I might even fly a loop, ONE only.”

“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

“You take sugar with your coffee, right?”

“You remembered”, Bruce smiled at Nat.

“Not that difficult. So”, she handed him his cup, “how is setting up the lab going?”

“Quite good, actually. I’m really glad that Tony kept all my stuff when you guys moved everything here, and it’s pretty much all set up. Now I only need to find a subject to study.”

“I would ask you what you did before… you know… but I probably wouldn’t understand it, so, why don’t you just keep working on that?”

“Yeah, that was two years ago, got a lot to catch up on. Science didn’t sleep…” Getting his life back on track was a lot of work. Just missing two years – and that in science – was like a small eternity.

“I’m sure that someone with seven PhDs can figure it out.” Nat grinned over her mug before taking another sip.

“Thank you for that very helpful advice”, he answered with a deadpan expression.

“You’re absolutely welcome.”

“Man”, Bruce sighed, “how… how do I even begin to start again? Two years, just gone. Two years I just lost. Sorry, I know, we talked so much about everything already, but… All that happened those last years was so insane… When did life become so goddamn weird?”

“Well”, Nat chuckled, “I was born and raised to be a spy and assassin and you’re some colourful version of Jekyll and Hyde. I don’t think a normal life was ever in the cards for any of us…”

“Bruce, Nat, hey, have you seen Thor?” The door opened and Stark walked in, interrupting their talk, and following him was a teen, brown eyes and locks, with an excited grin on his face that dropped as soon as he saw Bruce.

“Oh my god. You… you…” The boy pointed at him.

Great, another fan of the big guy. “Yes, I am the…”

“YOU’RE BRUCE BANNER!” With huge eyes, the boy pushed Tony out of his path and all but stumbled towards Bruce. “You… you are the most renowned scientist of your generation. I mean, you are brilliant!”

“Wait, what?”

“You’re in my textbooks, and…”

Wow. The kid babbled on and on, about his scientific prowess! Bruce’s chin was probably on the floor. Behind him he heard Nat snickering and Tony had a wide grin on his face.

“Woah, ok, ok”, he interrupted the child, “take a breath. Hi.”

“Hi.” He bounced up and down in front of him, eyes lighting up in exhilaration. “Sorry, I’m just so excited to meet you… I am Peter, by the way, Peter Parker. It’s an absolute honour to meet you, Mr. Dr. Banner, sir.”

Bruce couldn’t help but smile. “Hi Peter, it’s nice to meet you, too. But please, call me Bruce.” He put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“Ahahaha!”, he squealed, and Bruce had to bite down hard, to keep from laughing out loud.

“Alright, buddy.” Tony walked up, put his arm around Peter’s shoulder. “Calm down. He’s also the Hulk, you know.”

“Yeah, yeah, but your research on gamma radiation was absolutely ground-breaking! I read your papers, honestly I don’t understand a lot of it, but it doesn’t matter, I still like to read them, and my best friend, Ned, he does too, oh my god, I need to tell him that and…”

Peter babbled on, apparently kids these days do not need to breath.

“Yo, Spidey, it’s alright. Calm down.” Nat interrupted his animated rambling. “He’s Bruce Banner, he’s smart, we got it.”

“Come on, Nat, let Brucie have his five minutes of fame”, Tony chuckled.

“Spidey?”

With big eyes, Peter turned to Tony. “Can I show him?”

“They’re your powers, go off.”

“Powers? Wait, are you a superhero, too?”

With an excited grin, Peter jumped up on the ceiling, where he stuck and shot an actual web from his wrist, almost missing Bruce, before he dropped back down.

“What the fuck?”

“I am Spider-Man!” He proudly grinned from ear to ear.

“Spi… Spider-Man?” Bruce had seen some weird shit, but somehow the universe managed to top it once more.

“Spider-Man. That sounds like the name of a true warrior.” Thor’s booming voice filled the kitchen.

“YOU’RE THOR!” It came out as an almost inaudible screech, as Peter’s chin once more hit the floor. Wait, was he starting to hyperventilate?

“Peter, remember to breath.”

“Mr. Thor, it is such an honour, I am Spider-Parker, I mean Peter, Peter Parker, but also Spider-Man and I am a huge fan of you and your lightning, and I think that you are really awesome and hi.”

Now that it wasn’t directed at him, Bruce really enjoyed Peter’s little fanboy breakdowns. And Thor, well, he was very confused but absolutely taken in with the boy.

Just as Peter finally took a breath, Thor stepped forward, put his hands on the boys shoulders and, with an earnest expression on his face, told him: “Peter, it is truly an honour to meet such a strong and talented warrior as you, and that at such a young age!”

Peter looked ready to faint from excitement and only managed to squeal a string of sounds at Thor, who patted him encouragingly on the shoulders.

“You know, Point Break, I’m sure that Peter would like a picture with you.”

“What a wonderful idea!” Thor laughed deeply.

“Mr. Dr. Banner, Sir, would you join us?”

“Even better! Bruce, come over here!”

“Uhm… Alright…” Awkwardly, he shuffled to where Thor had already wrapped his arm around Peter’s shoulder, who was grinning from ear to ear, with big excited eyes.

“Say ‘cheese’!”

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

“Now, isn’t that adorable.” Loki leaned against the door, arms crossed in front of his chest, looking at the adorable scene in the kitchen: his brother and Bruce with wide smiles on their faces, a child in their middle, who looked like he felt like Loki did, that time he got to rule Asgard, even if it was for only a little while.

“Brother, meet Pet…” Before Thor could continue his sentence, Tony stepped in front of the trio, glaring at Loki. “Do you ever knock?”

“Right, because everybody else who lives here knocks.”

He tried to be nonchalant about it, but the way Stark pushed the child behind himself was almost comical. Now, the question was, what was that kid to Tony Stark? The level of protectiveness might suggest a family-connection and they did look somewhat alike… Whoever he was, not a chance, Tony would let Loki near that kid.

“It’s alright, Mr. Stark.” Well, if he called him ‘Mr. Stark’, he was probably not his father… The boy pushed passed Tony and took a few careful steps towards Loki and stopped about an arm’s length in front of him. The boy looked him up and down and, his curiosity rising, Loki returned the favour.

“So, you are Loki.”

“That is me.”

“I am Peter.”

“Nice to meet you, Peter.”

“And you were a bad guy but you’re not one anymore?”

The earnest way, Peter interrogated him made him chuckle. “Something like that.”

“So, on a scale from one to ten – one is stealing someone’s candy, ten is killing puppies – where are you at right now?”

Loki looked around the room, took in – and in honesty enjoyed – the anxious looks on the other’s faces, before locking eyes with Peter again. “Taking one of Stark’s expensive cars on a joyride.”

“Wha…”, Tony motioned to protest, but Peter kept his cool, quite impressively actually.

“So, a two then?”

“Sounds about right.”

“Cool. Let me know, when it gets above a five, alright?” The boy held his hand out.

This probably wasn’t a trap, maybe a test? But Peter looked like he meant what he said. And the way the guys at the back looked at each other, they did not expect the boy to do something like that. Could get interesting…

He took the boy’s hand and shook it, a big grin on his face. “It’s a deal.”

“Agreed.”

He let go of his hand and nodded at Loki before he walked back to the group of Avengers.

“Peter?” Loki grinned at the boy. “I like you.” With a wink, Loki turned around and headed back to his room.

And that was that. Or so Loki thought. But living with the Avengers… That was tough! Especially when his brother went back to New Asgard… The Avengers were just so righteous, and it was exhausting.

And then there was that one day, when things got especially bad. He got ranted at by Captain America for not doing his dishes, got into a heated discussion, more like a fight, with Nat about swords and got yelled at by Tony for being in the lab and apparently doing something wrong there.

Somehow it boiled over, he was done with those goody two-shoes. Eventually he ended up on the roof, screaming at the top of his lungs until he dropped on his knees. Well, there was one option popping into his mind…

.

Loki: Hey Pete, you busy?

Peter: just homework :/ Why, what’s up?

Loki: 7

Peter: Where you at?

Loki: Compound, on the roof.

Peter: On my way

.

“Loki, hi, what’s up?” A red blur flew at him, stopping just before crashing into him.

“Hey, Peter, thank you for meeting up with me.”

“Sure, I promised, didn’t I?” With a grin, Peter dropped down next to him. “Have you ever had a cronut? It’s a croissant donut and they are delicious, so I got some on my way here. The line at that bakery is always so long, but I saved the owner once from a robber, so I get special treatment. Here.”

Peter held one of the cronuts out to Loki, who took it a little reluctantly. “Thanks, I guess…”

“Try it, it’s delicious!”, Peter munched, half a cronut already gone.

“If you say so.” He had to agree though; those things were delicious. “Gotta say, not bad.”

“Told you”, Peter grinned.

“So, you’re in high school but also a crime-fighting Spider-person?”

“Yup”, he nodded proudly. “The friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man!”

“Wow, that sounds… very… nice.”

“Come on”, Peter snorted, “it’s not that bad!”

“What, I said it’s nice!”

“Everybody knows that ‘nice’ is the little sister off ‘shitty’.”

“Oh really?” Loki had to laugh. He did not think that the innocent kid was that sassy…

“Yeah, really.” Peter boxed Loki’s shoulder.

“Seriously, physical violence? I thought that I was the villain.”

“You’re a reforming villain. And good-person-rule number one: be honest. At least with me.” The boy looked up at him with big, brown, soulful eyes, puppy eyes as the humans called it. And Loki did not understand how, or what happened, but all of a sudden, he could not say no to him.

“Ok.”

“Pinky promise?”

“What’s that?”

“You don’t know what a pinky swear is?” Peter sounded appalled, almost enraged. “Just hold your pinky out like that.” He spread his little finger out, pointed it towards Loki.

“Like that?”

“Exactly.” He leaned a little closer and hooked his finger around Loki’s “A Pinky Promise is the most sacred treaty between two people. Breaking it has the most dire consequences you could ever imagine.”

“Young Spider, I promise with my pinky finger that I shall never lie to you. And if I ever do, may my brother’s lightning smite me on the spot.”

And that promise Loki kept. Every time, he felt like everything was too much, he messaged the boy, who would tell him stories about school, would take him on trips around New York City or just sit up on the roof listening about tales of life on Asgard.

“Why don’t you want to be in New Asgard?”

The blunt question caught Loki by surprise. He almost dropped the hotdog, Peter had brought along, after all “you can’t be a New Yorker until you’ve had hotdogs!”

“Sorry, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

“No, it’s alright.” Loki stayed quiet a little longer, thinking back to the conversation he had with Thor as they travelled back from the ruins of Old Asgard, looking for a new place to settle.

.

“I believe that you and I shall be a great pair of kings for our people, don’t you agree, brother?”

“Thor, I was thinking, and as great a king as you are… You were right, what you said to me on Sakaar, maybe our paths just don’t lead in the same direction anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“I believe that New Asgard, ruling by your side… it is not for me.”

“Do you want to leave? You know that I will not let you go off world by yourself. Sure, you are turning over a new leaf, but I am not stupid. As soon as I let you out of my sight, you will get back on your mischief.”

“So what, I shall be tethered to you, like a dog on a leash? The bird in the gilded cage?”

“No, brother, that is not what… well, I mean we owe it to the universe to keep you supervised. Fighting together once does not erase all the bad you have done.”

.

“Loki?”

“Yeah, sorry, Peter, I got caught in my thoughts.”

“It’s alright, I get that a lot as well. Again, no need to tell me if you don’t want to.”

“No”, he answered, “strangely enough I do.” That was indeed a new sensation for Loki. “Well, it felt wrong for me to join my people. After all, I was the one who started Ragnarok, it was my fault that Asgard was destroyed. I am the constant reminder to my people, to myself, of what we have lost.”

After a deep breath, he continued: “I am also not my brother, so I need to find my own path. Which I naturally cannot do, while he is babysitting me. Coming here, to stay with you Avengers was the compromise we agreed on.”

“I get that”, Peter nodded. “If I can help you achieve that in any way, let me know, alright?”

“You already are. Peter, you are the only person here who actually makes an effort to… I don’t know, get to know me.”

“The others will come around.” Reassuringly, Peter smiled up at Loki. “I know they will.”

With a smile, Loki put his arm around Peter’s shoulder. “You really are the best friend any god of mischief could ever ask for!”

.--.-..-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.

“Pete, connect the blue and the red wire. FUCK!” Tony fell back, his hand tingly from the shock he just got. “The red one, not the black one.”

“Sorry, Mr. Stark!” Pete jumped over the deconstructed suit, concern and guilt written all over his face. “Are you alright?”

“Survived worse”, Tony grumbled and let the teen help him back up on his feet. “So, where is your mind today? Not the biggest fan of electroshock therapy and do not want to go through a third one today.”

“Sorry.” Contrite the kid stared on the floor. “I was just talking to Loki, and…”

“Oh.” Tony turned his attention back to the suit. In all honesty, he was not comfortable with Peter and Loki’s friendship. He had to admit that Peter was a good influence on Loki, but he was just as worried about the influence the god of mischief had on the kid.

“That’s exactly what irks me. Someone brings up Loki, or he walks into a room and everyone just clams up, things get all awkward and no one wants to deal with it. It’s been months since he came here. And yeah, I get it’s difficult or hard or whatever, but it’s not going to be any easier if you keep treating him like some ticking timebomb!”

Oh damn. “Kid, I’m sorry, it’s just…”

“What? Once a bad guy, always a bad guy? What about Bucky? You let him back in.”

“That’s different.”

“How? Because you say so?”

Tony stayed silent. The kid had a point, but it was still so weird, having this homicidal maniac living under the same roof! “I don’t know what to tell you, buddy.”

“Just try? Have a conversation with him and you’ll see that he’s not that bad.”

“Ok. I will try.” Man, Peter’s heart really knew no bounds. “What do you say, ice cream break?”

“Sure.”

.

“I have to say, it’s pretty cool to have an ice-cream named after me”, Bruce laughed, as they sat around the kitchen table. “I’m hella confused, but just as honoured…”

“Don’t get to big a head”, Clint mumbled.

“Don’t listen to him Mr. Dr. Bruce, he’s just jealous that he doesn’t have one”, Peter grinned, as he was enjoying his ‘Strawberry-Slinging Spider-Man’.

“You little fucker.”

“CLINT! Language!”

“You know that Steve doesn’t like and tolerate that kind of language…”, Bruce grinned.

“Man, I thought we were over that!” Steve dropped his head on the table.

“What do you mean?”, asked Bucky, “Steve swears better than any sailor!”

“Mr. Goody-two-shoes over here?”

“Goody-Two-Shoes? Please! I had to pull that punk out of so many fights, and I would like to remind everyone that he enlisted illegally… But no, Captain America doesn’t swear!”, he added theatrically.

“Mr. America, I have to say I am disappointed”, Peter stated. “After all you did do a PSA on profanity, which is even worse than the detention one, I might add…”

“Ok, but in my defence…” Before Steve could defend himself, the door flew open.

“Hey, Loki, you want some Strawberry-Slinging…”

“9.”

“Shit.” Peter’s smile dropped. “Everybody out. Now.”

Uhm, definitively not. Tony would not let Peter alone with Loki while in a homicidal mood! So, he stayed right where he was, as Peter ushered the others out the door and pushed Loki into one of the chairs.

“Mr. Stark, get out!”, he hissed, as he scooted close to a scary quiet Loki and got his phone out.

“Kid, I’m not leaving you alone with him!”

“9,5.”

“Don’t make it worse! Just leave us be!”, Peter urged him.

The look, Loki shot his way was pure poison. Being here would in no way help calm down a pissed off god of mischief. That didn’t mean though, that Tony was comfortable leaving the kid to deal with someone who destroyed half the city. But, slowly, Tony got up and backed away. Peter nodded one more time at him, before turning his focus on Loki.

As soon as the door closed behind him, Tony called for his AI: “FRIDAY, security footage of the kitchen, pronto!” He barely finished his sentence when the video feed started playing on his phone. He dropped on the closest chair, never leaving the pair on his screen out of his sight.

“I was planning to come look for you, I need to show you the best thing ever!” Peter’s voice was excited and giddy as it always was, no sign of fear or worry about the god’s mood. “My friend, Ned, he sent me this video of his cousin’s kitty riding his dog!” With a giggle, Peter held his phone up into Loki’s face, who eventually even cracked a grin.

If you didn’t know what was actually going on in there, you could easily mistake it for just two friends, hanging out, watching one adorable animal video after the other.

“I always wanted a pet, but May says we can’t have one in our apartment. As soon as I have my own place, I’ll get at least a dog!”

“I had a pet when I was a child.” This was the first time in the 30 minutes they had been sitting in the kitchen that Loki spoke. “It was a… I guess, here on earth you’d call it a griffin. Like a kitty—griffin.”

“Awesome.” Tony didn’t need a close-up of the feed to see the boy’s eyes widen with excitement.

“What was its name?”

“She was called Lillefrigga, meaning little Frigga, after my mother. Thor had one, too, he named his Valkyrie, after the warriors. He always wanted to become one of them and was absolutely heartbroken when he found out that it is a women-only force.”

“And your friend is actually one?”

“Brunnhilde, yes. She is rather badass.”

“Wow. I would really like to meet her.”

“I’m sure she will come visit earth eventually. She might even bring her Pegasus.”

“SHE HAS A PEGASUS?” With an excitedly shrill cry, Peter jumped up, his face lighting up. “That is so cool! Asgardians really have the most amazing animals…”

“Maybe you should come and visit New Asgard with me”, Loki suggested.

“Really?”

Uh, no. Tony will not let the Spiderchild into outer space! He had half a mind to storm in there and ground both of them for even considering a trip there!

“I don’t think, Aunt May would let me go to space though…”

Smart aunt. Tony knew, why he liked her so much.

“Neither would Stark”, Loki remarked.

Yeah, you’re right about that!

“He can be a little over-protective of me…”, Peter admitted.

Over-protective? Excuse him, Tony was worrying the exact right amount, thank you very much.

“A little? He wouldn’t even let me talk to you in the beginning! Hell, didn’t he actually cut you off for like a month out of fear I might corrupt you?”

Ouch. As much as he hated it, Tony had to agree with Loki. It was definitively reasonable to look out for the kid, to make sure he wouldn’t get hurt, that’s just plain and simple in the mentor’s job description. But in his mission to keep Peter safe, he did tend to lose sight of the bigger picture and it had taken a few weeks to get their relationship back on track, to earn Peter’s trust again.

“Stark just doesn’t trust me. Does it really surprise you?”

“Honestly, yes, it does!”

“Huh? Peter, I threw him off a building, tried to kill all the guys out there multiple times and – oh yeah – destroyed half the city. How is it surprising that they don’t care for me?”

“Have you ever had the urge to punch me?” With his arms crossed, Peter stood in front of the god. What was he playing at?

“What? Of course not! I would never!” Loki sounded enraged and hurt that Peter would even think that. “Peter, you… you are what I consider a true friend and I have and shall always stay true to our promise.” He held a finger out to Peter, who linked their pinkies with a wide smile. “I swore never to lie to you. Furthermore, let me swear that I shall never hurt you or let anybody else harm you either. This I promise, and, if I should ever break it, let my brother’s lightning smite me on the spot!”

“And I swear to always have your back, to always be there for you when you need me. I promise to be your friend, no matter what, and, if I ever break my promise, may somebody pull all the legs of this spider.”

They shook their entangled hands and before the god could react, Peter wrapped himself around Loki in a tight hug.

Wow. Tony was absolutely flabbergasted. Peter and Loki were actual, honest to god, friends. And even though he was the god of mischief, Tony believed every word Loki just said.

Silently, he shut the feed down and walked away to the living room, where his fellow Avengers anxiously jumped up as he entered.

“It’s all right, Peter has it all under control. Nothing to worry about.”

“Doesn’t mean you automatically stop worrying…” Cap looked over, his expression still concerned.

“Thank you, Dr. Phil”, Tony shot back, before he fell on the couch.

“Who is Dr. Phil?”, he heard Steve whispered to Bruce.

“Nevermind”, Tony rolled his eyes at the geyser.

“Tony, what happened in there?”, Clint got back to the topic.

“Peter happened. Apparently, he and Loki somehow became the closes of buddies, with some very intense pinky promises.” He looked around the room. “I can’t explain it, that kid is incredible.”

“No arguments here.” With wide grins on their faces, Peter and Loki stood in the doorway.

“It’s not that difficult, Mr. Stark, it’s called, being a good person”

“Right.” Tony got up and ruffled Peters hair before he turned to Loki. “Well, I am not like him, I am not that good a person. So it’s going to take me a little longer to trust you.”

“I understand. And I can live with that, it is a lot better than I deserve. As long as you trust that I would never hurt Peter in any way.” Loki held his hand out, an earnest look on his face.

“Alright”, After a deep breath, Tony shook Loki’s hand.

“I assume, well, I hope that the rest of you feel like the tinman does.”

Solemn nods went through the round.

“Except for you Brucie”, he grinned at Banner, who grinned back.

“You do realize that I was your boyfriend’s gladiator-style slave, right?”

“The grandmaster is not my boyfriend!”, Loki groaned.

“Right”, Bruce nodded, “you were just his boytoy.“

“Oh yeah?” Loki raised his eyebrow. “Weren’t you the one who flew the orgy ship through the anus?”

“LOKI!”

“What the actual fuck?” All around the mouths gaped open.

“What actually happened to you guys in space that you never told us about?”

“Nothing of interest…” But if Loki’s suggestively smug grin was anything to go by there was indeed a lot more to the story than the Avengers knew. And maybe, just maybe, one day, they’d get to hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.