It is a dark time for the Avengers. Although they remain at liberty, evil alien troops have driven them from their usual stronghold and pursued them across the city. Evading the dreaded alien trackers, the Avengers, led by Captain America, have established a new secret base in the Meatpacking district...
“But what I don’t get,” Tony says, pointing across the table, “is what he’s doing here.”
Loki, God of Mischief and Lies, frequent adversary and always annoying pain in the ass, raises an eyebrow. “In times of great desperation even the master at arms will join the battle.”
The assembled Avengers stare at him.
“You did not tell them?” Loki asks his brother in an undertone.
The God of Thunder sighs. “I did try, brother,” he says wearily. “They thought I was in denial.”
“Master at arms?” Steve says cautiously. “Does that mean something different to Asgardians?”
“Are you trying to say,” Bruce says, voice a little hysterical, “That all this time you’ve been...”
“Sparring,” Loki says helpfully. “Training you. Casting myself in an antagonistic light to force you to... what is the Midgardian term? ‘Step up your game’.”
“The Norse God of Mischief just used air quotes,” Tony says to Clint. He turns back to Loki. “How do you know air quotes? Thor can’t even operate a toaster.”
“That’s because I’m intelligent,” Loki sniffs.
“He may be a good guy now, but he’s still pretty catty,” Clint says to Tony.
“Do they know I can hear them, brother?” Loki asks in a deliberately carrying tone. Thor delicately rests his head in his hands.
“But wait,” Natasha says. “I’ve seen you and Thor fight, you really go at it. You mean to tell me that was all an act?”
“Oh, no,” Thor says, brightening. “That was very good practice. My brother and I have been sparring for centuries now - we can trade mighty blows and still be sure of the other’s survival. I set Mjolnir on training mode and my brother uses only nonlethal spells, but everything else is genuine.”
“Training mode?” Steve says, offended.
“Nonlethal spells?” Bruce says, outraged. “Last week you trashed Rockefeller Plaza!”
“Yes,” Loki says lazily. “If you had been a better combatant you could have protected it.”
“And the week before that you destroyed my armor!” Tony says, getting to the important point. Everybody tries to destroy Rockefeller Plaza sooner or later, it isn’t even an original idea. His lovely armor, on the other hand, is a national treasure. “And then you kept pieces and turned them into a hat! Why would you do that?”
“It was very funny,” Loki says fondly. “The look on your face! And you have corrected the weak point in your armor now, have you not?”
Tony sulks. He had, in fact, built a more secure suit and it had, in fact, saved his life a few days later when they went up against Doom. Dammit.
“It was a very becoming hat, brother,” Thor says, the traitor. Loki preens.
“And what about the time you turned yourself into a woman and tried to seduce Clint?” Bruce asks. “What did that prove?”
Clint shudders. Tony doesn’t have the full details - Jarvis refuses to share - but he‘s pretty sure the evening abruptly came to an end when Loki changed shape at an extremely indelicate point. Into what, Tony still isn’t certain.
“Succeeded in seducing,” Loki corrects smugly. “He’s a hero, he needs to learn how to keep it in his pants. And constant vigilance, and all that.”
“The Norse God of Mischief just quoted Harry Potter,” Tony informs the table. “And not that I mind,” he adds cautiously, when it’s apparent that no one else is going to step on this particular landmine, “But really, if you’re going to go after one of us for being a bit of a slut...”
“Well, you are exceptionally good in bed,” Loki says, shooting him an absolutely filthy look. “I would not ruin that experience with cheap tricks.”
“Did you use protection?” Thor asks sternly, glaring at Tony.
Tony’s brain encounters an error it can’t recover from. When he’s blinked the blue haze and the ghostly ‘abort retry fail’ from his eyes, the conversation has mercifully moved on, although Thor is still giving him a completely unwarranted suspicious look.
“ - isn’t fun,” Natasha is saying, “But shouldn’t we concentrate on the evil alien attack squad?”
“Yes, thank you, Natasha,” Steve says gratefully. “Now, the real problem is their shielding. If we can get past that - "
“If I may?” Loki interjects. “I can negate the shielding spells. After that I suggest the tactic you used at FAO Schwartz - "
“ - And the one from Central Park,” Steve says, nodding thoughtfully. “Excellent, we have our strategy.”
“What?” Tony asks Clint quietly.
“Blonde in leather, brunette twins,” Clint mutters back.
“Oh, that! Okay.”
The Avengers assemble, a little more circumspectly than usual in deference to the fact they are technically still in hiding and most of them are trying very hard not to be the one left standing next to Loki.
“They might be more willing to include you if you hadn’t secretly slept with a third of them, brother,” Thor says reproachfully.
Loki smiles enigmatically. Natasha and Steve both blush.
“What?” Tony and Clint say at the same time.
“Threesomes are hot,” Natasha says, shrugging unapologetically. “And at least we actually knew who he was.”
“Avengers assemble,” Steve repeats, red-faced, in a blatant attempt at distraction.
“I am so proud of my team right now,” Tony says mistily. Thor facepalms again.