“Tell me, Agent Barton,” Loki wants to know, sitting cross-legged on a table, watching his pet check his arrows. “Do you believe in happy endings?”
The man snorts, turning blue-fogged eyes on his god. Loki almost dislikes the way the spell distorts those eyes. They looked magnificent in the bunker at SHIELD, filled with fury and laser sharp focus.
“No,” he answers, calmly going back to his work, fingers moving over points and edges, caressing deadly weapons like a lover’s body. Oh yes, Loki chose well. He would have taken the Director, if he had been given the chance, but he is glad he wasn’t. Fury is quite the blunt instrument. Barton on the other hand...
Loki has always liked shadows, and there are many of those in his favourite new servant.
Barton cocks his head to one side for a moment and Loki watches, sceptre in his lap, hands folded over his knees. Then, abruptly, the archer grabs his bow and an arrow, notches it, aims straight at Loki’s head.
Automatically, a blue force field springs to life around the god, even as rage rises in him, along with a moment of surprise. Is the spell broken? But no, the eyes are still hidden behind a sheen of frost. So what...?
“This is what endings look like, sir,” Barton announces, arrow calmly aimed at Loki’s head. At his left eye, if he’s not mistaken. Not a hard shot from three feet away, but the instinct to go for absolutely certain death on the first move...
Loki sighs, pleased, and drops the shield. “Is that so?”
The look he gets, even through the spell, is scathing. “Yes.”
“What then, if death were a... relief? Would that be a happy ending?”
Barton shrugs, puts down his weapon, starts sorting his arrows into his quiver. “Dead is dead,” he answers, flatly.
“And yet you aim for the head every single time.”
Barton blinks but doesn’t answer. There is nothing to say to his master’s truth.
Loki smiles a sharp, cold smile, reaches out a hand to run it through his pet’s hair. Barton bows into the gesture, leans into the hand and the god wants, wants, to have this man at his feet willingly, eyes clear. Wants...
But he has long since learned to take what he can get.
(A year later, SHIELD’s irksome insects have somehow managed to catch Loki yet again and as he sits in his cell, biding his time, Barton slips in, soundlessly, wordlessly. He stands on the other side of the glass, hands behind his back.
A perfect soldier’s parade rest. But not Loki’s perfect soldier.
“Is this your happy ending then?” he asks grandly, waving a hand in a circle, indicating Headquarters, the Avengers, SHIELD.
Barton’s expression twitches, something like a smile smoothing the corners of his mouth, bland amusement at a shared moment, a conversation. A confession, on both sides.
His eyes – bluer than the spell ever was – are soft, for just a second, before hardening to steel again.
And for that one second, Loki regrets, more fiercely than he has in a long time.)