Two Steps Back
Peter had thought it was going better than expected. Sure, not all of the avengers were happy that Loki was back, but most seemed actually fine with it. It helped that you could practically feel the relief and elation from Thor. Seeing the God of Thunder so happy was almost contagious and it was hard to disapprove of anything that made their friend so happy.
It helped that Clint wasn’t around much anymore, he was sticking to his retirement this time and they rarely saw him. In fact the majority of the “original” Avengers had retired. There weren’t much left that actually fought the old Loki. Steve usually showed up once every few months to visit with Sam and Bucky. Natasha and Bruce were still technically acting Avengers, but they lived together in a house and not at the facility. They came around for meetings and occasionally to train and work, but it was different than living under the same roof.
Plus, Loki looked completely different. He was younger, he still looked up to Thor as if he hung the moon and stars. This Loki just felt like a different person entirely.
So it had been going okay. Peter and Loki formed a tight bond that many didn’t seem to mind. Tony was probably the most concerned, but this was a mix of paternal instincts with a special caution where Peter’s well being was concerned. Dr. Strange kept him calm, reminding him that this Loki was a fraction of how powerful the old Loki was, and it was becoming clear to them that perhaps the old Loki should be granted a bit of forgiveness anyway. They were learning more and more that he hadn’t been acting on his own accord.
So really it had been going well.
Loki was still prone to periods of isolation, only content with Peter’s company. He mostly loved having Thor around, but sometimes it would be too much and Loki would send him away for a few days. He also seemed to enjoy Shuri on her visits and Wanda on hers. He avoided Sam and Bucky, but Peter couldn’t really tell why. You’d think Bucky would be the one to most understand waking up in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people. He also avoided Natasha and the Hulk, but that made more sense to Peter.
When Peter came home from school that day, there was no indication that anything was out of the ordinary. He threw his stuff down in the room he had been staying in, surprised to see it empty. Lately, Loki had taken to working or reading in Peter’s room instead of his own, almost always in the bed when Peter returned from school.
Peter’s next stop, on his way to Loki’s room, was the kitchen, where he made two sandwiches and grabbed two coke’s before moving on. When Loki’s room was empty too, he felt his first sense of unease. But still, it was possible Thor had taken him somewhere as Loki was still technically only allowed to leave the compound if his older brother was supervising. Usually, though, Loki would send a text if he was going out with Thor. Putting the sandwiches down on the desk, Peter pulled his phone from his pocket and checked it. No missing messages.
“Friday, where’s Loki?”
“He’s in the gym, sir.” Friday responded. Peter arched his eyebrow. “But he hates getting sweaty.” Peter replied, more to himself than to Friday. Loki seemed to be blessed with the ability to eat what he wanted and never gain a pound. Although he’d often practice his magic, sometimes with Peter, sometimes without. He never went to the gym to do it. He preferred the courtyard, one of the few outdoor spaces he was allowed to venture unsupervised.
“He’s with Captain Rogers. Captain Rogers was visiting with Mr. Wilson and Mr. Barnes, and they asked Mr. Odinson to join them in some sparring.”
Peter dropped the two cans of cokes, which fortunately were not open, and sprinted off toward the gym. He couldn’t fathom why Loki was joining those three, but he knew that Loki was deeply uncomfortable around Steve Rogers and avoided him at all costs when he came to visit. Sam and Bucky were never outwardly rude to Loki, but they didn’t mesh well together either. If Loki was alone with the three, Peter… well… Peter wanted to be there to make sure Loki knew he wasn’t alone.
He burst open the gym door took a split second to take in the scene. None of the occupants seemed to have heard his entry.
Steve was in black combat style pants and a black t-shirt. He didn’t wear Captain America regalia anymore since he was technically retired, and had passed along the shield to Sam. Even though he wasn’t still actively serving as Captain America, he was still a force to be reckoned with. They hadn’t needed him to help, since his retirement, but Peter was sure if the Avengers were desperate, he would come in and still be able to kick some villain ass. He was posed as if getting ready to strike again.
Loki was backed against a wall clearly having recently taken a hit and fallen to the ground. He was wearing his green jacket that he was partial too, with the grey lining. He was wearing his usual black skinny jeans and green converse high tops that Peter had bought him. The only thing that made him look remotely like he was dressed to fight, was his helm atop his head. What jarred Peter the most is that one of the horns was cracked in half.
He looked small and defeated as he rose his right hand and wiped blood away. But this was Loki, so rather than yield, he grinned at Steve.
“I can do this all day.” He smirked, using his left hand to push him back into standing position.
Steven growled in response and charged at the teen.
Before he delivered another hit to Loki, Peter had shot a web at Loki’s arm and pulled. Loki jerked to the right, and right into Peter’s arms.
Everyone seemed to freeze.
Now that Loki was closer, Peter could see what a state he was in. He wasn’t dressed to fight, the necklace he was wearing (a creation of Stephan Strange) hampered him from using any magic against the Avengers. One on one and limited to fists he was hopelessly out matched by Steve Rogers. His noise was smeared with blood, and there was blood in his mouth. Once Peter pulled him away, Loki’s left arm wrapped around his middle, suggesting he was in pain. The broken helm just added to the trial that Loki had clearly just gone through. The missing piece was thrown aside and lay unmoving on the floor.
Bucky and Sam were nowhere to be seen.
Peter immediately began assessing Loki’s body for injuries. Peter took off Loki’s jacket, cursing under his breath as the bruises became clearer. He looked up at Steve, who seemed frozen in place.
“Shit, Loki, I’m sorry.” Steve said, shaking his head, as if he was trying to shake out whatever vision he had thought he was fighting. “I got carried away there.”
“YOU THINK?” Peter shouted.
Loki for his part, stayed mostly quiet, letting Peter fuss and looking sheepishly towards the ground.
Steve walked over and retrieved the broken piece of the helm. “Can this be fixed? I bet Tony can…” Steve started to say.
“Can you just go?” Peter said, harsher than he’s probably ever spoken to Steve Rogers in his life. “Please.” He added, trying to soft the blow.
Steve looked sad and opened his mouth as if to say something but seemed to think better of it.
Once the two were left alone, Peter put his hands on Loki’s upper arms.
“Jesus, Loki. Are you okay?” He asked, voice soft, not wanting to upset Loki.
Loki sighed before meeting Peter’s eyes.
“I’ll be fine. I heal quickly. You know that.” He said with a soft smile.
“What on earth happened?” Peter asked. The two started turning towards the door, but Loki faltered. Now that the adrenalin had left him, he was having trouble walking on his own steam. Peter put his right arm around Loki’s waist and moved Loki’s left arm so it was over Peter’s shoulders.
“Training. Got a little out of hand.” Loki said sadly, wincing as the two made their way toward Peter’s room on habit.
“Why were you training with him in the first place? What happened to Bucky and Sam? Why was he even here?”
“He asked, they were there earlier but got called out on some small mission, I don’t know.” Loki said, used to Peter’s rapid questions and giving equally rapid replies.
“He asked, wanted to kill some time before Bucky and Sam got back for dinner. I didn’t think he would go that hard. I was trying to be friendly. Prove I’m not…” Loki hesitated before continuing. “Well you know.”
Peter sighed as the two reached his room. He helped Loki onto the bed before moving to the bathroom to find some wash clothes to wipe the blood off Loki with.
“How badly are you hurt?” Peter asked.
“I’ll be fine.” Loki growled.
“Bruised ribs, bruising around the face and extremities. Possible head injury from when his helm was broken. He should be woken up ever 2-3 hours in case of a concussion.” Friday said.
“A HEAD INJURY?” Peter yelped, looking at the door as if Steve was going to walk in and Peter could take it out on him.
“I have a record of their fight if you would like to watch, Mr. Parker” Friday replied.
Peter sighed “No thanks.” He didn’t want to watch Loki get clobbered because Steve couldn’t tell the difference between a teen and the prior Loki he had fought in the past.
“Can you delete that footage?” Loki asked, hopefully.
“Sorry Sir, you are not authorized to make changes to my records.” Friday said, and it might have been Peter’s imagination, but FRIDAY really did seem sorry.
“Am I?” Peter asked and Loki smiled gratefully.
“No, sorry Mr. Parker. Only Mr. Stark is able to make those kinds of changes.” Loki sighed and lay his head back on Peter’s pillow.
“What do you need Loki?” Peter asked, taking Loki’s hand in his, admiring the black nails, so perfectly manicured.
“Just rest. Really Pete, I’ll be fine.” Loki said with a sigh. “And maybe a sandwich.”
Peter smiled. “That I can do.” He started towards the door before turning back to Loki, who had shut his eyes and draped one arm over his face.
“You aren’t him Loki.” Peter said, voice quite. “You don’t deserve to be punished for what he did.”
Loki looked up and met his eyes.
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