“Can I help you, Mr. Stark?” one of the SHIELD guards asked when Tony stormed into the room, holding a clipboard.
“I have a few questions for the prisoner,” Tony replied, as he glared at Loki through the thick glass wall of his cell.
“I’ll have to contact Director Fury before I-”
“I helped capture him so you better let me in before I go get my suit, come back here and blow a hole in the damn door,” Tony growled.
“Yes, sir,” the guard said, as he fumbled for his swipe card, then ran it through the machine. The door opened, and Tony went inside.
“You have got some explaining to do,” Tony said as he marched into the sparse holding cell where Loki sat on a thin bench.
Loki looked up at him, and raised one of his shackled hands to tap the metal that covered his mouth.
Tony moved forward, reached round, unfastening the snaps that held the muzzle tight against Loki’s face, and pulled it away. “Tell me how the hell you did it?”
“Did what?” Loki asked, as he rubbed his hand against his jaw. “Killed your friend? Invaded your planet? Unleashed the beast? Which of my actions are you referring to specifically?”
“I want to know why a delivery truck just dumped 64 packages in the lobby of my tower, and every one of them is addressed to you.”
Loki smirked. “I see your delivery system is still efficient, despite the devastation I inflicted upon your city.”
“How did you get on eBay when you've been locked up for the past two days?” Tony snapped. “You better start talking or I’ll get Bruce down here and let him smash you into the floor again.”
Loki scowled at the mention Bruce’s name. “Your frequencies, they travel in the air and carry messages.”
“Frequencies?” Tony asked, and then he looked around the room and saw the white box in the corner of the room near the ceiling. “You’re talking about the wireless network? You can access it without a computer?”
“Yes, I can.”
“That’s impossible. The frequencies they operate at are in the electromagnetic spectrum. You couldn't possibly use those.”
“For a mortal it would be impossible, yes, but I am no mortal. The low wavelength parts of the spectrum pose no problem for for me," Loki stated.
“Magic?” Tony asked. “You used magic?”
“My magic is bound by the chains,” he said, lifting his hands, causing the heavy metal links to knock against each other noisily.
“So you’re saying you can somehow telepathically browse the internet?”
Loki rolled his eyes. “I speak the all tongue, Stark. I have no need of telepathy.”
“All tongue?” Tony asked, his brow furrowing.
“Has Thor never explained this to you?” Loki asked. “Don’t you think it’s a little strange that beings from another realm can speak and understand your language?”
“I just assumed you all spoke English.”
“How very self important you are to think that your language would be the language of the gods,” Loki snapped.
“So you aren't speaking English right now?”
“No, I am not,” Loki said. “Any being from any realm would be able to understand what I am saying to them, regardless of what language they actually speak. Some devices too.”
“You can actually speak to a computer?”
“What part of all tongue did you not understand?”
“But… you were wearing a muzzle the whole time.”
“Your wireless system operates on simple frequencies, and the muzzle does not prevent me from emitting those.”
"Wait..." Tony said, slightly confused. "Can Thor do that as well?"
"His hearing is much less sensitive than mine," Loki said dismissively. "Why do you think he shouts all the time?"
Tony thought for a moment, and then turned on his heels.
“Let me out,” Tony shouted as he banged on the door.
The guard let Tony out of the cell, and he quickly pulled his phone out of his pocket, then dialled a number.
“Nick, we have a major situation here, I need you to shut down all the wireless access in the whole building right now.”
“What are we going to do with all these packages?” Natasha asked as a delivery driver wheeled another load into the lobby of Stark tower.
“They all came from eBay,” Clint said. “They can’t be anything too dangerous, can they?”
“I dunno, I doubt they would let anyone sell a bomb on there," Natasha replied. "There could still be weapons, I guess.”
“We should open them.”
“Plus I'm dying to know what a Norse god buys off the net.”
After they opened the first 5 parcels and no one understood what the items were or why anyone would actually buy them, they decided that Loki needed to be interrogated about every thing he had bought, to check whether it had secret magical uses. The parcels were transported down to the secure facility where SHIELD were holding Loki and the Avengers started opening them.
“This feels like the most warped Christmas ever,” Tony said as he pulled a mummified cat out of a carefully wrapped parcel, and held it up with his fingertips. “Explanation?”
“Cats are highly mystical creatures,” Loki said. “Also I thought it looked quite decorative.”
“Is that one of my arrows?” Clint shrieked, as Steve finished unwrapping a long package. “Where the hell did someone get one of my arrows?”
“The seller found it among the debris,” Loki replied calmly.
“And you wanted it to try and cast some kind of spell on me, right?”
“Actually I wanted a souvenir of my day of triumph.”
“Er, have you looked around yourself?” Tony asked. “Doesn't look very triumphant to me.”
“You think my plan ends here?” Loki asked, and then laughed lowly. “You underestimate me, Stark. This is just the beginning, and I am always two steps ah-”
“What’s this?” Clint interrupted as he held up a piece of bread in a clear zip-lock bag.
“The print out says ‘Congratulations on your purchase of a 100 year old grilled cheese sandwich featuring the face of the Virgin Mary,’” Natasha said.
“Why did you buy this?” Clint asked. “Does it have mystical properties too?”
“I was hungry,” Loki replied, with a shrug of the shoulders.
“I found his eBay account, and I think we have a problem,” Bruce said as he looked up from his laptop. “It seems Loki bought the virginity of an 18 year old girl who needs the money to pay for college.”
“Brother!” Thor cried. “You bring shame upon our family by paying to consort with maidens.”
“I wasn't going to take her virginity,” Loki said, rolling his eyes. “I was going to take her blood.”
“What?” Bruce exclaimed.
“Virgins blood is a highly prized commodity among sorcerers,” Thor answered.
“Yes, imagine the destruction I could wrought with eight pints of it,” Loki said excitedly.
“I’ll try to find her email address so I can reply to her,” Bruce said.
“Yeah, and ask for a refund,” Tony added.
“What?” Bruce asked.
“Well, he paid for service, and if she isn't going to supply it he should get his money back, right?”
“Your money,” Loki said quietly.
“My money?” Tony asked.
“Well, it was your credit card details that I used to pay for all these items.”
“You hacked my credit card details?” Tony squawked.
“Yes, it was quite easy to gain access to the devices in your tower from here and intercept the numbers when you used them to pay for that live video chat with the young lady on the cam-”
“OK, that’s enough,” Tony interrupted.
“Wow, you guys, look at this,” Natasha said, as she held out a red and black jar with white runes painted on the side and read from the printed sheet. “It says ‘Please find enclosed your item, one ghost in a jar.’”
“Ghost in a jar?” Clint asked.
“That’s what it says,” Natasha said as she handed Clint the paper.
“You must be an eBay sellers wet dream,” Tony said, as he turned to Loki. “Open it then, let’s see this so called ghost.”
“It would be unwise to release the spirit,” Loki said, looking slightly nervous. “The listing clearly stated that the seller would not be held responsible in the event of it being opened.”
“What a pile of crap,” Tony said, “Give me it, I’ll open it.”
“I am not sure you should open it, Stark,” Thor said.
“It’s an empty jar, there’s nothing to be scared of,” Tony said as he grabbed the jar from Natasha, and wrapped his hand around the lid.
Thor moved across the room, and placed his hand over Tony’s. “Trust me my friend. There are forces and spirits in these realms that you could not imagine, even in your worst nightmares. If this vessel contains one of them, bound in a mystical prison, then unleashing it could cause untold damage to Midgard.”
“I think you should listen to him,” Steve said quietly.
Tony frowned. “Don’t let his old wives tale get to you. Some guy probably knocked this up in his garage and then waited for a sucker to come along with more money than sense.”
“I have a really bad feeling about this,” Bruce added.
“Me too,” Clint said, and Natasha nodded in agreement.
“Well, who would have thought that, Earth’s mightiest heroes turn out to be too chicken shit to open a jar?”
“A wise decision,” Loki said quietly.
“Shut up,” Tony snapped as he whirled round to face him. “You’re worse than the rest of them for falling for it and buying all this useless shit on MY CREDIT CARD.”
“What else have we got?” Clint asked.
“He just got feedback again…” Bruce said. “Apparently he bought the right to name a newborn baby.”
“Find their email address and tell them I want to name it Sleipnir,” Loki said.
“It’s a girl,” Bruce said. “ Isn't Sleipnir a stallion?”
“I care not,” Loki replied.
“I have a lock of my own hair,” Thor said, “but I do not think it is my hair.”
“If it’s not yours you can throw it away,” Loki replied. “My spell will only work with your actual hair.”
“Brother, if you want my hair you only need ask," Thor said. "You do not need to buy it from a stranger.”
“Thor, he wants it so he can cast a spell on you,” Bruce pointed out.
“You do?” Thor asked, and then his face fell when Loki started to laugh. “What spell did you intend to cast upon me?”
“I was going to turn you into a frog.”
“Again?” Thor cried, and Loki let out a cackle.
“Tony, you might want this,” Steve said, as he held out a battered Iron Man faceplate.
“Oh my god, I wondered where the hell that went!” Tony shouted as he grabbed the faceplate and hugged it to his chest as he was cradling a small child.
“Someone just left him good feedback. It was for… the purchase of a small town in California,” Bruce said.
“A town? I own a whole town?” Tony asked.
“I own a town,” Loki corrected. “I bought it.”
“My money, my town, asshole,” Tony said. “Looks like I get to play at being king, and not you.”
Loki scowled at Tony, and then a phone began to ring.
Tony pulled his phone out and answered it. “Hello? Yes, he isn't here right now,” Tony ignored Loki’s frantic waving and turned away. “Hey, are you Russian? You mind if I let someone else talk to you?”
“I speak Russian,” Loki said.
“I am Russian,” Natasha said as she took the phone. She spoke for a while, her voice questioning, and then loud in shock.
“What is it?” Tony whispered, and Natasha waved a hand at him, indicating for him to shut up.
“Well,” she said, as the call came to an end. “They were ringing to confirm a delivery address.”
“Delivery for what?”
“Apparently he bid $30,000 on a Russian space shuttle and won.”
“You bought a space shuttle?”
“Yes,” Loki replied.
“You spent $30000 dollars of my money on a Russian space shuttle?”
“YES,” Loki said more forcefully.
“Actually... that’s... pretty cool,” Tony said, and then he turned to Natasha. “Call them back and arrange to have them deliver it to my Malibu mansion.”
“This one is empty,” Steve said as he tore open a box. “You can’t buy poison gas on eBay can you?”
“Well, hello there,” Loki said loudly, as he held out his hand. “It’s lovely to finally meet you.”
“Thor?” Tony asked, as he watched Loki. “Does your little brother usually talk to himself?”
“I trust you had a safe journey?” Loki asked, and then he laughed. “Yes, I imagine it was extremely boring with no windows to look out of.”
“No, Stark,” Thor replied, as Loki continued to hold a conversation with thin air. “I have never seen him do this before.”
“I think we should get a psychiatrist down here,” Bruce said. “I think he’s having some kind of psychotic episode.”
“Wait, wait,” Steve said, as he read from a sheet of paper. “The invoice was stuck to the front of the package.”
“So what did he buy?” Natasha asked.
“An imaginary friend,” Steve replied, as he watched Loki laugh at nothing.
“That’s absolutely absurd,” Tony said.
“I know," Bruce said. "Who would sell their imaginary friend?”
“What?” Tony asked as he turned. “You believe in this shit?”
“I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid,” Bruce replied.
“Was he large and green and liked to smash things?”
“Stop being an ass, Tony,” Natasha snapped.
“Don’t worry about them,” Loki said, as he cast an eye over the Avengers. “They are of no consequence.”
“What’s his name?” Bruce asked.
“His name is Jon,” Loki replied quietly, and then he glared at Thor. “His previous best friend did not require him any longer, he had new responsibilities, and he did not love him any more, so now he is going to be my friend.”
“I think Bruce is right, we really need a shrink down here, stat,” Tony said.
Loki smiled. “Jon is extremely astute, and he has the measure of you already, Stark. He just called you an idiotic buffoon.”
“Where did that package come from?” Tony asked, as he picked up the print out. “New Jersey. Yeah, because buffoon is an everyday word in New Jersey. Come on guys, let’s leave Loki and his new delusion to get acquainted.”
“Good morning, sunshine,” Tony said brightly as he entered Loki’s cell and was met with an evil glare. “Aw, still sulking?”
“What do you want?”
“I brought you some breakfast, and you better eat it fast because your muzzle is going back as soon as you've finished, and then everyone is heading over here so Thor can take you back to Asgard to get your ass kicked.”
“What is this?” Loki asked, wrinkling his nose as Tony placed a tray in front of him. “It smells like Thor after he has been for a run.”
“Omelette, and I brought a nice apple for Jon,” Tony said. “So where is he this morning?”
“I do not wish to speak of that wretched creature,” Loki said, as he snatched the apple out of Tony’s hand.
“Had a falling out with a non existent person did we?”
“I very kindly asked if he would go to your tower to keep watch over you all, but it did not go well,” Loki said, as he turned the apple over in his hand. “I need you to access the Internet on my behalf and start a ‘Significantly not as described’ case on Paypal.”
“I'm sorry, did the box of fresh air you bought not live up to your expectations?”
“He was sold as a friend, a friend for me, but he spent some time around Thor last night and has decided he prefers him. I demand my money back!”
“So a figment of your own imagination prefers your brother to you?” Tony asked, and Loki nodded slowly. “Wow, Bruce was right about calling a doctor in, you really do have issues.”
“He’s Thor’s imaginary friend now,” Loki said dejectedly.
"Does Thor even know he has an imaginary friend now?"
"I don't believe Thor can see him, no."
"So you get to watch your imaginary friend hanging out with your brother who can't even see him?" Tony asked, and Loki nodded. “How much did you pay for him again?”
“$1550," Loki answered, dejectedly. "Are you going to get the money back?”
“Nah, I think I’ll let them keep it.”
“What?” Loki asked.
“Yeah, it was worth every cent just to see that pissed off look on your face.”
"I will have my revenge on you, Stark," Loki shouted.
"Yeah, good luck with that one," Tony replied, as he walked out of the cell.
As the Avengers escorted him through Central Park Loki listened intently, scowling as he tried to hear the frequencies, but found no trace of them. The wireless signals were missing, even though he had clearly felt them in the air when he had flown through the streets of the city. He assumed he had Stark to thank for that.
As Loki stood before Barton he tilted his head and listened, hearing the distant rumble of traffic, the sounds of glass falling from a shattered window, and underneath it all a faint hum.
He had found what he was looking for.
The 3G network was slower than the high speed connection he was used to navigating, but as his brother handed him the end of the tesseract device he completed his final purchase from the internet.
How he wished he could be there to see the delivery of his gift to his captors, but as he was carried back to Asgard he imagined the look on their faces when six tons of horse manure were dumped outside Stark Tower, and as his feet touched down on the Bifrost he threw back his head and laughed.