Mostly a friendship story between Loki and Bucky, but other installments of the same 'verse will probably include Thorki and Stucky (with sides of ScienceBros and ClinTasha).
Comments, likes, and everything else are greatly appreciated! So are suggestions concerning later scenes in the series~
It's long past midnight, and late winter, during his seventh month with the Avengers that Loki first meets the Winter Soldier. He'd only heard about the man through what the Avengers had said of him, and even that is always brief. He only has the slightest impressions of what this man may be like, and is completely unprepared to nearly run into him on the balcony overlooking the city.
They stand a few feet apart, staring each other down, but neither attempting to move away or say anything. Loki studies the man standing in front of him. He'd only seen a picture of the Winter Soldier before, but this was certainly him: long dark hair, bright eyes, metal arm. He realizes after a moment that the man is studying him in the same curious way, and Loki is the first to speak.
"I don't often find others awake at this time of night."
The Soldier narrows his eyes, watching Loki for a moment longer before replying. "I could say the same."
Only bits and pieces about the Soldier's past had been presented to him. Everybody in the tower had been briefed about him, as he would be staying in the tower with them, but Loki guessed he never left Steve's floor much, even though it had only been a few weeks since he had moved in. Loki didn't so much as know his real name, just that he was a formidable assassin, and one of Steve's older friends that was being-well, they had used the word 'rehabilitated'. Perhaps he should be more weary of the man, but Loki is predominantly curious, as this is likely the only other ah...villain to stay with the Avengers on his own accord.
"Couldn't sleep," Loki says simply. The man gives a noise that sounds like something of agreement but doesn't say anything else. "There's quite a view up here however, and it's rather different than just looking out of the windows."
"Easier to catch a breath," the man responds, taking a step back off to the side.
Loki nods, walking over to the edge and placing his hands on the railing. He begins to say something else, but hears the slightest of noises behind him, probably inaudible for Midgardians, and glances over his shoulder to see the man walking inside and into the elevator. A slight scoff rises from him before he turns his gaze back to the shining city lights below him.
The second occurrence of Loki meeting the Winter Soldier is far more eventful. Stark had called the team up to the penthouse conference room, told them to be ready for a fight. Loki and Thor are some of the last two to be there, followed only by Steve and the Soldier moments later. Stark, Bruce, Barton, and Natasha all stand around a table topped with a digital screen in the center of the room.
"Alright, everybody's here," Stark says, eyes faltering only briefly on the Soldier before continuing around the room. "So I, with all of my incredible assets and intelligence, have been tracking a threat that is about to make landfall here in New York in," he glances at a silver watch on his wrist, "little under half an hour from now."
"And you're telling us about it only now?" Steve asks, glaring at Stark.
Stark huffs. "Okay, maybe I haven't been tracking it for that long, but I caught it, didn't I? Anyway, I thought we would set up something of a plan instead of trying to shout directions at each other over comms." He tosses ear pieces out on the table, and they each take one. "So, this is our guy." He taps a few things on the table and pictures as well as a few videos pop up.
Loki glances at each of them. The man's name is Victor Von Doom. He raises a brow. "You Midgardians are incredibly creative with naming things, aren't you?"
"Says a guy with the name 'Loki'," Clint retorts.
He rolls his eyes just as Stark starts again. "Yeah, yeah, Victor Von Doom. He's not as bad as some we've faced before," a few gazes flicker momentarily to Loki, and he can't help but smirk, "but he's still a pretty strong guy. He's coming in with a number of drones, robots. Not enough that we should be overwhelmed but enough for it to be fun.
"So, onto this battle plan. Clint, Natasha, I think you two may be best staying hidden and aiming for the joints in the drones, should take 'em down easy enough. If anything, shoot for the neck, and try and take down any stragglers. As far as I can see, he's aiming for the tower, and I honestly don't want to deal with any damage costs right now if I don't have to. Bruce...well, I don't really have to tell you what to do. Steve, maybe you could stay close to the tower. Thor, you too, but enough electricity should fry their circuits and everything so I'll let you handle that. I'll be up in the air taking them out too."
Everyone nods, save Loki and the Soldier, and Loki is beginning to wonder if either of them even have parts in this before Stark speaks again. "Barnes," Loki's eyes move to the Soldier, who straightens upon being called on. "I think you'd do best watching our backs from up high, huh? Pick wherever you want, and I'll make sure you get there. That goes for you two too," Stark looks at Barton and Natasha and sighs, his dark gaze finally moving to Loki. "Now, you. I can't believe this, but you've got the most important part."
"Is it attaining shawarma afterwards? Because I'm afraid that's not as important as you make it out to be," Loki states.
Stark scoffs. "Not quite, but if you want to do that too, feel free. But Doom can apparently manipulate magic. Yeah, I knew that would interest you," he says whenever Loki raises a brow. Stark pulls up a video that plays along the table showing some demonstration of the man's powers. It's far stronger than he would expect from a Midgardian, but not incredibly powerful in comparison to his own. "I want you to take him down, 'cause honestly, the rest of us don't know anything about magic, and I don't want anybody getting hit with something they can't heal from. You can handle it however you want, just, preferably, don't kill him. Capture him, or even knocking him unconscious would be grand. Actually, now that I think about it, Barnes, could you cover Loki? I don't need him taken down by a bot while trying to subdue Doom. No offense Clint, but I think you'd be a bit more willing to shoot Loki sometimes than a bot."
All eyes turn to Barnes, who tenses under the attention, but glances to Steve for a moment before looking at Loki. "Yeah, I got 'im," Barnes says.
If Loki cared more, he'd probably have been a bit offended. His first time on a mission with the team, he'd had one of the least important parts, and had had nothing to do for a large majority of the time. That is, up until he inserted himself into the middle of enemy lines and expended far more magic than was healthy in a single blast and decimated them. Needless to say, he'd had a far more important role in the next mission.
Soon enough, they all stand on the bottom floor of Stark tower, all in their various pieces of armor. Loki has forgone the usual cape and metal, dressed in his usual leather attire, though Thor is followed by a cascade of red. Barnes stands off to Loki's left, Steve on the other side of him, and both of them dressed and ready. Stark is giving last minute directions, but Loki isn't paying any attention, instead watching the green tendrils of magic that snake around his fingers.
Loki's gaze flickers up, and he realizes everybody is watching him, more than one gaze trained solely on his magic. He raises a brow, letting the magic fade away. "What?"
"Were you listening to anything?" Stark asks.
"Not entirely, no. Anything important?"
Stark sighed. "God, I guess not. Come on, head out."
There are various exchanges of 'good luck' or challenges. Thor catches Loki just as he is about to leave. "Be safe, brother," he says, as though this is the last time he will ever see him. As of recent, that is how Thor has been, because, as much as Loki hates it, he's the only thing that the Thunderer has left, save his friends.
"And you as well," Loki says, meeting Thor's gaze just before the Thunderer walks outside and swings Mjolnir.
Only Steve and Barnes remain in the building. "Be careful," Steve says, a hand on Barnes' right shoulder.
Barnes gives a slight nod. "Yeah, you too."
Steve starts to walk out the door, but glances back at Loki, a look in his eyes that Loki finds incredibly familiar. Loki had often seen it in Thor's eyes when he was younger. It makes Loki wonder if Barnes is covering him, or if he's covering Barnes.
"Hey, Loki, Barnes, you two hang out in the tower until I locate Doom," Stark's voice comes on over the ear piece.
"You know I don't do well with orders, Stark," Loki replies.
"Maybe not, but if you wanna be part of the team, you sure as hell will."
Loki rolls his eyes and turns to Barnes. He has a large gun propped back against his shoulder, and he's tense. Loki wonders how long it has been since he's fought in any kind of battle. He's about to ask about it when Stark's voice sounds in his ear piece again. "Hey, Loki, you know where that bank is on the corner a few blocks away from the tower? We stopped by it last week?"
"Yes, I know the one," Loki responds.
"Alright, well, that's roundabout where Doom is right now. Can you teleport there?"
"Sure can. I'll be there momentarily." Loki turns to Barnes. "Looks like we're teleporting. Think you can handle it?"
"Why not?" Barnes replies.
Loki lays a hand on Barnes' shoulder and wraps his magic around them. A moment later, they're standing on the sidewalk outside of a large bank. The street in front of them is filled with a number of robots, and Loki sees the Hulk a few blocks down.
"Do you need-" Loki starts but turns to see Barnes already locating a fire escape and rising to the top of a building. "Nevermind."
"Okay, now I see you. Okay, Loki, look over to your right. Doom's right in the middle of those bots," Stark says.
Loki's gaze darts up first, and he sees Stark, a glint of light off of metal. "Barnes, are you ready?" Loki asks. The robot closest to him suddenly shudders as a crack of metal on metal sounds. It quickly shorts out, falling to the ground in a heap of metal. A few seem to train their gazes on him, staring to make their way over.
Loki nods, peering over the robots to see a distinctly different form in the center of them. There's a few foot radius between Doom and the robots surrounding him. "Bit of a close call, isn't it, Stark?"
"Yeah, well, there's some sort of shield around him that keeps the robots back, so I figured, if you're as good as you say you are, you can get in and still keep the robots out."
Furrowing a brow, Loki releases a small wave of magic, and it slides over the shield surrounding Doom, a dome of a few feet in diameter. "I see." The nearest robot falters and falls as well, followed by two more in quick succession. He pushes out his magic in his own tight shield around him and teleports over to Doom, feeling only a bit of resistance from Doom's defences. A moment later, he stands in front of Doom, and the Midgardian stalls to a stop, gazing at him.
"An Asgardian," Doom says.
Loki raises a brow, looking over the man dressed in odd armor, metal, and a green cape. Doom shoots a blast a magic at Loki, and he rolls his eyes, flicking his wrist and watching the magic fade. "Midgardian," Loki snarls. "You've no idea what you're getting into."
"Oh but I do," Doom says and energy crackles around him. Loki is a bit more unprepared for the physical onslaught that follows, but works to block every blow Doom delivers. It takes him a moment too long for Loki to realize that Doom is trying to touch his skin with his armor, and his body locks up in pain as electricity shoots through him.
"This would kill any mortal," Doom states, too much delight in his voice. He lets go of Loki, and Loki stumbles back, gasping for breath. "I'm surprised you aren't so much as unconscious."
"Try having the god of thunder for a brother," Loki laughs half-heartedly, hearing multiple concerned voices over the ear piece. "Everyone, I'm-" He cuts himself off and deflects another burst of magic. Another robot falls near him, and Loki hears two sharp pings and sees the magic shield pulse. Barnes must be trying to break the shield. Doom takes notice and sends out a pulse of magic that makes Loki's hair stand on end, and soon, Doom's gaze focuses on Barnes. Loki glances back to see him on top of a building, and a wave of robots already scaling the building.
"Barnes?" Loki questions, focusing back on Doom, who sends out another wave of magic.
"I'm fine. Take him down," Barnes nearly shouts, pulling out a knife and a shorter gun.
Loki nearly groans. He knows a spell that could easily render Doom unconscious, but it requires direct contact, yet he needs to assist Barnes and finish Doom before he decides to disappear. Of course, from what he read about Doom, the metal should be so closely connected to him that it would conduct the spell regardless. He sends a blast of magic in response to Doom's and darts in close, wrapping his hands around one of Doom's metal-covered forearms. The shock that streaks through him brings black spots to his vision, and there is a long moment before another streaks through his body. He forces the magic into Doom, nearly sighing in relief when Doom sways, his eyes flickering before he falls to the ground.
Loki gasps, stumbling away yet managing to stay upright.
"Loki! You alright? What's going on?" Stark's voice pierces into his mind, far too loud.
He groans slightly. "I'm...fine. Doom is down. Helping Barnes." Gathering his magic once more, he teleports to the top of the building where Barnes is taking down bot after bot, but three more rise for every one he falls. Loki quickly sets to blasting them with magic, dodging whenever Barnes swings at one of the bots, and kicking back one aiming for Barnes' back. Eventually, the number slows, and the piles around them build up.
"Is that all of them?" Steve asks a while later.
There are a number of agreements from the team. Loki glances at Barnes, who stands a bit off, taking a breath. "I believe so."
"Alright. I'm helping load up Doom now. How long will this last, Loki?" Stark asks.
Loki's gaze fixes on Stark, who is in fact helping some SHIELD agents load up the unconscious Doom. Stark is heading up the organization now, with help from some old trustworthy agents. "Four to five days."
"Oh wow, awesome. Anyway, everybody alright?" Stark asks.
Everybody gives various affirmations, including Loki. "Yeah, I'm fine. Barnes?"
"I'm fine, but Loki probably needs some attention," Barnes says, his bright gaze fixing on Loki's hands.
Of course, the adrenaline is starting to wear off and there are searing pains shooting up his arms. "Thanks for the warning concerning his suit, Stark," Loki snaps, looking at the burns on his hands.
"What about his suit?" Stark sounds genuinely confused, and Loki realizes it's possible he didn't know.
"It emits electrical currents into anything that touches it."
"Aw hell," Stark says, and Loki hears him talking to others. "Alright. Can you two make it back to the tower? I think Bruce is already there. Everybody, report to the penthouse, I'll be there in a bit."
"Up for teleporting?" Barnes asks, watching Loki like he might fall over.
Regardless, Loki nods, pressing his arm against Barnes' and teleporting them back to the penthouse. He glances around, seeing that everybody else, save Stark and Steve, are already standing around, awaiting their returns. Thor claps a hand on Loki's back, giving his brother a smile before turning the same smile to Barnes. "Thank you."
Barnes gives a slight nod, standing a bit off from the rest of the group, though he seems to relax a tad when the elevator dings and Steve walks in.
"Thank you as well, Barnes," Loki says.
"Call me Bucky," he responds, meeting Loki's gaze briefly before darting away.
Steve's steps falter, and Loki looks over to him questioningly, but the captain says nothing, just moves to stand beside Bucky.
"Loki, Stark said you were injured?" Bruce asks, holding a huge first aid kit.
Loki scoffs slightly, looking at the thing. "He may as well just have a medical floor."
"Oh, there is one, I just doubted you would want to sit on a hospital bed and hang out down there," Bruce responds. "So, sit on the couch."
Sighing, Loki plops back on the couch, offering his hands out to Bruce who sits close beside him. The skin is blistered and pretty swollen, and he jumps whenever Bruce starts dabbing at them, muttering a small curse that only Thor understands.
"At least you don't have to worry about it scarring," Bruce says.
"It probably will. Aesir and Jotun heal differently, and these will probably scar, at least a bit. Burns and deeper wounds do," Loki states, staring at his hands.
"Here, catch, Loki," Barton says. Loki glances up just in time to see a bottle of scotch flying towards him. He catches it, hissing in pain but opening it anyway and taking a gulp of it.
"I don't know whether to thank you or damn you," Loki says. Of course, he doesn't know if they're aware that Midgardian-grade alcohol doesn't have the same effect on him.
"We are not having a drinking party," Steve states.
Suddenly, Stark lands on the balcony in his suit, and JARVIS immediately begins taking it apart until Stark walks in in only a t-shirt and jeans. "That was too easy. We are so having a drinking party," he says, flashing them a grin as he stands in the middle of the group. Steve raises a brow and opens his mouth to say something but Stark continues. "Come on, mother. We're all kinda tired, and you're the one always talking about team-building exercises, so let's have one right now, called 'sitting-around-and-drinking-and-telling-stories', kay?"
30 minutes later...
"You two did not fight Nazi dinosaurs," Clint laughs.
"Yeah we did. The Velociraptors looked a hell of a lot like Loki too," Steve says.
Loki scoffs. "You should know; you're likely old enough to have actually seen one."
"Oh yeah, says the Norse god," Bruce adds.
Loki smiles and takes another swallow of the scotch he's still holding, given, his hands are still bandaged, but not as heavily as Bruce tried to make them.
"Wait, wait, wait," Stark says, sitting forward in the chair. "Okay, let's play a game."
"Are you serious?" Natasha asks, though there is still a tinge of amusement in her voice.
"Yeah, I'm completely serious. It's called "Never Have I Ever". Heard of it?" Stark asks, glancing around.
Loki raises a brow. "Why do I feel as though I'm going to regret asking what it is?"
Stark chuckles. "Okay. I'll tell you. Somebody says something like 'never have I ever watched Sherlock', and if you have watched it, you take a shot. If you haven't, then you don't take a shot. Then maybe the next person says 'never have I ever had had a pet', so if you have had a pet, you drink. If you haven't, then you don't. Get it?"
"What is the purpose of it?" Thor questions.
"Well, though it's fun to see people get drunk, it's also fun to learn stuff about your teammates. I mean, if it's something you're just too uncomfortable to answer, then you don't have to," Stark says, running a hand back through his hair and ruffling it. "It's not really fair that this stuff doesn't work for you four...Actually, Loki, can you like make Asgardian alcohol or something?"
"Unfortunately," Loki chuckled.
"Awesome! Come on, who all doesn't want to play?" Stark asks, and when nobody objects, he stands up and walks over to his bar. "I've got a really nice one for this." He pulls down a tall bottle and a number of shot glasses and fills them up, passing them to everyone and setting the bottle on the table in the center. Bucky, Steve, Thor, and Loki all have empty glasses and Stark makes a sweeping gesture towards Loki. "Let's see that magic."
The raven-haired god rolls his eyes and flicks his fingers and the empty glasses fill with liquid. "Thor is a very fun drunk," he states.
The thunder god laughs and smiles once more. "Perhaps."
"I say Tony starts, because he was so eager to play," Bruce says.
"Okay, fine. Lets start with an easy one. Never have I ever had sex," Stark says.
Loki scoffs, not the only one to do so, and tips back his glass. Everybody does except Steve.
"Little Virgin Stevey," Stark mocks.
"Well there wasn't exactly a whole lot of time with the war and being frozen for seventy years," Steve states.
"Yeah, I guess I could give you that much. You really oughta get out more," Stark replies.
Steve rolls his eyes. "Maybe you guys need to get out less."
"Wait, I've got one to go with that," Natasha says.
"Alright, fire." Stark points to her, refilling everyone's glasses.
"Never have I ever had sex with a guy."
Loki smirks, tipping back his newly refilled glass again, seeing Natasha, Bucky, and Stark all do the same.
"You guys really oughta get out more," Stark repeats.
"Really?" Steve is looking at Bucky, his voice only questioning, not sarcastic in the slightest.
"Yep. I remember the girls easy, but there were fellas too."
"I didn't know," Steve says, and he seems a bit hurt that he didn't know.
Loki refills his and Bucky's glasses and feels the weight of somebody's gaze on him, and he realizes Thor is watching him. "What?" He asks, meeting the blue gaze.
Thor shrugs, staring down at his glass. "I just didn't know," he says.
"We should make you guys go to family therapy," Bruce mumbles before raising his voice. "I've got one. Never have I ever fantasized about somebody in this room."
Loki is the first to swallow the shot, but when everybody follows suit, he starts laughing so hard he coughs on his drink. "I can't believe this. Stark, can we start matchmaking?"
"Yes! Let's figure this out. Okay," Stark goes to refill everybody's drinks but Loki does it instead. "Never have I ever fantasized about-"
"Wait, no, we're not going to call people out like that," Steve says.
"Yeah, I agree," Bruce states. "Moving on."
Loki swirls his glass around a bit, looking around at the people sitting around the room. Never before would he have thought he'd be sitting in a room with these people, or with Thor at his side, laughing and joking with the lot of them.
Needless to say, the next morning is hell.
Days later, Loki is bored. Nothing he does satisfies him, and he's taking to pacing around his and Thor's floor. Thor is sitting on the couch, watching Loki with a slight smile on his face. Loki turns on his heel once more and catches Thor's smile. "Oh please. You shouldn't find amusement in my pain," Loki states, clasping his hands together behind his back. They're still a bit tender, but he's been using his magic in short bursts to speed along their healing.
"I don't. I find amusement in your boredom."
Rolling his eyes, Loki sets back to pacing.
"Why don't you go down to the training floor? I'm sure you could find something or someone to entertain you," Thor says, his blue gaze still following Loki.
Loki thinks on that for a moment. He hasn't been down to the training floor in a while. For a long while, he had often sparred with Thor, but since Malekith's attack, Thor has taken to treating him like his bones would shatter with the slightest hit. Loki got tired of seeing bruises on Thor when the thunder god would barely return the favor. After, he had taken to sparring with Barton. That had been better for a time, until one day when Barton was already irritated and he "accidentally" stabbed Loki. As a result, Loki was a bit weary to spar with him again, or Natasha for that matter, because the two were so close. Stark could fight, but his talents were with his suit, and he didn't prefer to spar much. Bruce didn't spar at all, or train in much of anything for that matter. Steve had been busy with Bucky, and Loki hasn't yet seen Bucky on the training floor. Of course, he overheard Steve talking to Natasha concerning the matter. Not even Steve sparred with Bucky, partly because Bucky didn't want to spar with Steve, but Steve was reluctant as well. He had said something about it being easy to get out of hand.
It is for that reason that Loki is surprised to find Bucky on the training floor. He's the only other person down there, which Loki is glad for.
Bucky stands in front of a few targets, implanting blades deep into the boards. "You've a good aim," Loki says, moving to stand beside the man.
"Got years of practice," Bucky responds, drawing back his arm before sending another knife at the board. "What are you here for?"
"I was growing bored, and Thor suggested I try and find something to entertain me down here. I was hoping there would be someone to spar with," Loki suggests, glancing at Bucky at out of the corner of his eye.
"Well people aren't exactly lining up to spar with me."
"And why is that?" Loki asks, turning to Bucky.
Bucky shrugs. "Think I'll get caught in a memory or something, I think. They have good reason."
Loki shrugs in response. "Do you want to spar?"
Bucky's bright gaze flicks to him, and he studies Loki for a long moment before responding. "Yeah, I do."
Smiling, Loki makes his way over to the mats that line a large section of the floor. "Any restrictions?" Loki asks.
"No nose breaking. That's hell. No mortal wounds-"
"And how about no magic this first time?"
Loki gives a nod, and Bucky smiles and moves to stand just a few feet back from him. Honestly, Loki is thrilled with their first sparring session. Bucky is fair and doesn't take advantage of cheap shots, and it's not easy for Loki to finally pin Bucky to the mat. Yet, everything he has heard about Bucky sounds in his mind, and he doesn't prolong it, quickly stepping back and letting Bucky stand.
Bucky pushes himself up and breathes for a minute before raising a brow. "Ready for another round?"
Loki smirks. "Yes."
It ends a while later with Bucky's forearm pressed against Loki's throat before he releases the god. They spar for a long while, taking their turns with winning and slowly tiring themselves out. Eventually, they end up side by side and sitting on the floor with their backs pressed against the wall. Loki calls two bottles of water to him with his magic and hands one to Bucky, who accepts it with a noise of thanks.
"I can thoroughly say I am no longer bored," Loki says.
Bucky huffs a slight laugh. "Glad I could be of assistance. I haven't had any good opponents in something nonfatal in a while."
"Why's that again?"
Bucky shrugs and takes a swallow of water. "Everybody here seems pretty weary of it, and before I wasn't allowed, or it wasn't even really sparring. Then, back during the war, we were always busy with everything, and Steve...He wasn't really used to himself yet, and he was scared he would hurt me, and before the serum, I was afraid I would hurt him." Bucky pauses and looks over to Loki. "What about you?"
Laughing slightly, Loki responds, "I did spar with Thor constantly, but after out battle with Malekith, he is reluctant to. Unnecessary, but I got tired of seeing the bruises on him while he wouldn't so much as deflect the blows at times. I tried with Clint afterwards but he ah...stabbed me, on accident, supposedly, but I haven't wanted to retry that anytime recently."
"Hell, I wouldn't want to either."
The elevator dings just then, and the pair falls silent, watching to see who walks in. Loki raises a brow upon seeing Steve exit the elevator.
"Are you two best friends now?" Steve asks.
"Oh, don't tell me you're getting jealous, Captain," Loki says, a slightly sarcastic edge in his voice.
"A little. What were you doing?"
Loki shrugs. "Sparring. I think I've found a new favorite partner."
"I've found one that'll have me, so that counts," Bucky says.
Steve nods, his eyes meeting Loki's. "I wanted to talk to Loki for a minute, if that's alright, Buck."
Bucky nods and pushes himself up. "I was about to shower anyway." His gaze turns to Loki. "Maybe another time."
Loki nods and pushes himself up, apprehensive of what the captain could want, but knowing it likely had to do with Bucky.
Steve waits for the elevator doors to close before crossing his arms over his chest and turning back to Loki. "What are you getting at, Loki?"
Raising a brow, he says, "What?"
"Hell, I'm surprised he told you that you could call him Bucky, much less sparring with you. I just need to know that you don't have some ulterior motive in this."
Loki shakes his head. "I don't have one; I assure you. I was just bored and he was the only one here, so I asked if he wished to spar and he did."
"But overall? I wasn't sparring with him because I didn't want to raise any unneeded memories, and I didn't want him pushing himself before he was ready."
"I'm sorry to be the one to tell you, but those are his decisions, regardless of what you may have with him, and regardless of the past."
Steve raises a brow, and Loki feels like he's getting into more than he had guessed. "You don't even know the past, Loki! You might be doing more harm than good. I don't have anything against him talking and associating with others or whatever he wants to do, but I don't fully trust you, and if Bucky is going to put any kind of faith in you, then you need to know that I will kill you if you hurt him. The first other friends he makes need to be people that aren't going to betray him. He doesn't need that right now."
"What is it that occured that you're so protective of him?" Loki asks, narrowing his gaze on the captain.
The captain falters at that. "I thought everybody had been told."
Loki shakes his head. "I don't know anything except the basics."
Steve sighs, running a hand through his hair. "You really don't know anything about it?"
Sitting back on a nearby bench, Steve places his elbows on his knees and leans forward, his gaze on the ground. Loki steps back, leaning against the wall once more. "Bucky and I...We've been best friends for as long as I can remember. He was there for me through everything, through all of my sicknesses and ailments before. Even after the serum, he still tried to protect me, and I thought he died still doing that, protecting me. I mean, it was seventy years later when I realized he was still alive, and even then, it was whenever he was trying to kill me. He didn't so much as remember his own name. They had tortured him so much, and wiped his memories." Steve's fists clench at his sides.
"That's why we stayed away for so long. I had to make sure he was even capable of remembering. Thank god he is. He remembers some things, enough to know who he is, to know who I am, and he remembers more each day, but he remembers things from being Bucky and things from being the Winter Soldier. The latter scares the hell out of us both, and there are nights when I don't sleep because I'm watching him. I don't spar with him, because sometimes I think it'll trigger memories that he would rather keep buried."
Loki stares at Steve for a long moment, taking all of his words in and thinking them through then responding. "It's not as though you can choose which memories he keeps and which he forgets. All of those memories are his, and part of his being able to accept them is you being able to accept them, all of them."
Steve's eyes finally meet his again, and he gives a humorless laugh. "You talk like you have experience with this."
Loki stands once more, a long sigh escaping him. "That is where all of you underestimate me. I do have experience with this."
"What do you mean?"
He makes his way over to the elevator, pressing the button for his and Thor's floor. "It is, unfortunately, something I have a lot of experience in," he says, stepping into the elevator and watching the doors slide closed.
The next day Loki decides to have breakfast with the Avengers. Thor has been trying to make him do so since the moment he arrived, and before now he has never had the slightest inclination, but when he runs the idea through his mind, he doesn't feel the distaste he once did. So, he makes himself presentable and slips into the elevator only moments after Thor left. Regardless, nervous anticipation creeps through him as he walks toward the dining room. He can hear them all talking and laughing, and the memories that come to mind are those of Thor with the Warriors Three and Sif, and Loki's reasons for never being comfortable around them.
When he walks into the room, everyone falls silent, and he feels to urge to leave again, but Stark speaks up.
"Two newbies at the table in one day? That's a record."
Stark and Bruce sit at the two ends of the table with Bucky and Steve on one side, and Thor, Clint, and Natasha on the other. Thor smiles up at him, and Bucky pushes back the open chair to his right, near Stark. There's already a plate and glass there, and they had moved all the food to sit in the center of the table.
"First off," Stark says. "Loki, have you ever had coffee?"
"I don't believe so," Loki says, taking his seat beside Bucky. "What does it taste like?"
"Well you can make it really sweet if you want. Here, hand me that mug." Loki passes a black mug over the Stark and watches him pour a few things into it. "Okay, usually it's hot, but this is really nice and warm," he adds, giving the mug back to Loki, who experimentally sips at it.
"Oh, it is good." That seems to launch everybody else into getting him to try something, thankfully taking some sort of turns so he's not overwhelmed.
"What about French toast?" Bruce asks.
"No," Loki says, and a plate is passed over with two dark pieces of toast on it and set in front of Loki.
"Eggs?" Steve asks, leaning forward to look past Bucky.
"Not in a long while."
"Try 'em scrambled," Bucky says and when Loki nods, scoops some onto Loki's plate.
"He never was much of a breakfast person," Thor says, and the thunder god hands Loki a bowl filled with different fruits. Loki smiles, glad to see something he knows that he likes, and thanks Thor.
"Please tell me you know about bacon," Clint states.
"Yes," Loki replies. Soon, his plate is full with different foods he's not familiar with, and he doubts he could eat all of it. He sets to trying everything anyway. French toast is alright, but smothered in syrup with a side of milk is best. The eggs are good though, and he's had bacon before. Sausage is odd, and he doesn't eat much more of it than the first testing bite. Everything else is alright, but not much leaves a last inclination in his mind to finish it. The fruit, of course, is best, and he's glad Thor thought about it.
The next session of teambuilding is far more eventful but far less comfortable. Loki had been attempting to alter JARVIS in order to irritate Stark. Unfortunately, JARVIS had ended up malfunctioning and because of Stark's previously implemented security precautions, had shut down for twelve hours. Not even Stark could reboot him. And everyone was on the penthouse floor until approximately nine o'clock tomorrow morning.
After the first round of annoyed yelling at Loki, everyone had settled into fighting over sleeping situations. Thor had claimed the larger recliner and now refused to move from the spot as he believed if he moved that somebody else would take it. Stark had made him a bit paranoid over it, saying he would take it if Thor moved, so the thunder god had thoroughly planted himself in the chair. Stark could have just slept in the room on the floor, but JARVIS had control of all of the doors (save the bathroom, Clint had added with relief). Most everyone else have taken places on the various couches. Clint and Natasha are sitting on a smaller couch, and Stark has claimed a seat on the couch that folds back into a recliner, with Bruce on the side opposite him. Bucky stands over by the balcony doors, and Steve is sitting on another short couch.
Loki is currently perched on the arm of Thor's chair, contemplating what they're going to do stuck in a room for hours with one another. "The balcony doors, are they monitored as well?" Another question in the long string of inquiries.
"Yeah, Loki, everything is monitored! After your attack I made sure the balcony doors were monitored," Stark says, irritation and a tinge of anger in his voice.
Loki rolls his eyes, sitting back against the chair. "Well, it's not my fault you're overly precautious."
Stark's dark gazes fixes on him for a long moment, narrowing into a glare. "Yes, it is your fault."
"Mm, I suppose," Loki mumbles. "If I decided to break them?"
"Why would you break the doors if you could just teleport out?" Clint asks, running a hand over his face.
"Shattering glass always has a fun effect."
"For that matter, why don't you just teleport us all to our floors?" Stark questions.
"I've never been on any of your floors, so I don't know where exactly I'm teleporting to. It takes a large amount of energy otherwise."
"Is there anything you can do?"
Smirking, Loki replies, "Of course, whenever I get tired of you all, I'll just teleport out to the balcony."
"It's going to be twenty degrees out there tonight," Bruce says.
Loki shrugs. "Cold temperatures don't have the same effect on me as they do on all of you."
"Speaking of which, are the thermostats and everything run by Jarvis too?" Steve asks.
"Everything is run by Jarvis," Stark replies.
"So it's going to be freezing up here tonight," Natasha says.
"Wonderful," Bucky mumbles.
"Can you do anything about that?" Stark asks sarcastically, watching Loki.
"I could start a fire."
"No," Thor says.
Loki flashes a grin. "I can make one that doesn't burn anything save energy." A green flame jumps to life in his hands. "It's better than nothing I suppose, as there aren't even any blankets." He casts the flame onto the floor in the relative middle of the couches and makes it larger. A few of them slip down closer to the fire, and Bucky slowly comes to take a place beside Steve on the couch.
It's relatively quiet for a long moment, until Stark groans. "What are we going to do? Let's play a game."
"No," more than a few of them reply.
"Well fine, let's hear some other suggestions."
"You two have got to have some interesting stories to share," Bruce finally says, looking over at Thor and Loki.
Loki's green gaze flickers to Thor, who shrugs.
"Oh, Loki, lets hear the story about Sleipnir," Clint says.
Narrowing his eyes, Loki says, "There's nothing to tell."
"Who's Sleipnir?" Steve questions.
"Loki's son," Thor answers.
"He's a horse," Loki adds.
"So...is he your son, or is he a horse?" Bucky speaks this time.
Loki sighs. "Sleipnir is my son, but he is also a horse. Regardless, the myth you know is not what occurred; it's simply lies Thor's friends decided to share about me."
"And the wolf and snake?"
"They've no blood relation to me, but I'm often dubbed as their father for the fact that I did raise them," Loki states, thinking of Fenrir and Jormungandr.
"Well what about them?"
Loki shrugs, glancing at Clint. "I found Fenrir near a stream in the forest, lying by the dead body of his mother. She was absolutely huge, and I believe she had been trampled by a herd of bilgesnipe. Regardless, he was small, a few weeks old maybe, and had a broken leg. So I took him back to the palace and nursed him back to health. I intended to release him once he was old enough, but he got too attached and I kept him."
"He grew to stand as tall as me, fur as dark as Loki's hair. And just as soft," Thor adds with a teasing grin. Loki rolls his eyes. "But he was incredibly strong, and incredibly protective of both Loki and I."
"Where is he now?" Bucky asks.
"Fenrir finally took to the woods when he was older, and though I see him from time to time when I'm on Asgard, he stays far from the Aesir."
"And the snake?"
"Jormungandr had a rather similar story, but he instead took the Asgard's waters. There are rumors that he's found pathways to Midgard underwater, and it's likely that many of your sea serpent myths are due to him, but I've only ever seen him on Asgard."
"And Hel?" Natasha questions, speaking up after a long time of silence.
"I won her the throne of Helheim, and that's where she now resides. So, when I die, I've got a few favors to pull," Loki says, flashing a lopsided grin.
"I'm not surprised," Stark adds.
They somehow waste another couple of hours telling stories before some of the Avengers start to fall asleep. Bruce is first, and Steve manages to deter Stark from messing with him, but then Steve falls asleep next, and Stark has his fun irritating him instead. When Thor falls asleep, it's with an arm wrapped around Loki, who is settled back against the chair. The spies fall asleep around the same time, leaving Stark, Loki, and Bucky all awake.
Loki smirks, seeing Stark fighting to stay awake. The long nights in the lab must finally be getting to him. "Scared I'll return the favor of you irritating everyone, Stark?"
"Don't trust you enough to not to," Stark says, though he kicks out the recliner.
"Don't worry, I have better things to do than irritate you."
Stark mumbles something unintelligible, and when Loki turns to look at him again a while later, Stark has fallen asleep. His green gaze flickers to Bucky, who also seems to be asleep. Loki sighs and looks around at the team sleeping all around him. He gently pries Thor's grip off of him and slips off the chair, teleporting out to the balcony. It's close to midnight, and the city is still alive far beneath him. He sits down on the steps, staring through the glass barriers at the city lights. It is cold out here, but it's a comfortable temperature to him, and he leans comfortably against the stair railings.
It's still an odd thought to him that he's so easily comfortable staying here with all of the Avengers. After the attack on New York, and Malekith's following, most of Midgard seemed to be on edge, and then SHIELD fell, and Loki returned not long after. The throne of Asgard was far too conspicuous place for him, so he left the realm, in good hands of course. And now he fights on the side of people he once tried to kill, regardless of whether it all was intended or not. Daresay, he might enjoy some of their companies at times.
A knock on the windows behind him startles him out of his thoughts, and he glances over his shoulder to see Bucky standing there. Loki wraps his magic around the soldier and teleports him out to the balcony.
Bucky sways a bit, resting a hand on the railing. "Never gonna get used to that."
"It's not exactly made for Midgardians," Loki says.
Bucky nods, walks over to the steps and takes a seat near Loki. "Jesus, you're not cold?"
A green flame snaps to life near Bucky, though Loki can easily feel the warmth from where he sits. "Not necessarily."
Bucky is silent for a long moment, and Loki wonders why he even came out here, before Bucky starts to talk. "Look, I don't know what Steve said to you the other day, but he can be-"
"I can't help but be reminded of Thor and I whenever I see you two," Loki says, gaze fixed on the nearly obscured moon above them.
"We've been best friends since we were kids. Been through hell and back together. I used to protect him, and now seventy years later, he's trying to do that."
"And you don't like it?"
"It's not right. I'm just..." Bucky glances back over at his shoulder into the penthouse, clasps his hands in front of him. "They made him into a war machine, forced him into the things I was trying to protect him from when I couldn't so much as protect myself."
"Perhaps, but without all of that, where would you both be today?"
"Dead, and probably long before our times."
"Precisely. As I told him, you can't choose the parts of him you want, and the parts you don't."
Bucky gives an undignified snort. "I guess so." He pauses for a moment, furrows a brow slightly in confusion and looks back at Loki. "When did you say that?"
"The other day on the training floor," Loki responds, not feeling the need to lie to Bucky.
"He spoke of how some days you would remember things of your time before, and on others you were reminded of your time as the Winter Soldier. I told him he needed to be accepting of all of it regardless of which he preferred."
Silence hung over them for a long while before Bucky spoke again. "I didn't expect you to be like this."
"Like how exactly?"
"Just not...like this. When I heard I wouldn't be the only ex-villain staying here, I gotta say, I was a bit glad. All of the scorn wouldn't be trained just on me, and then I get here, and the worst anybody's been to me is when Tony switched out the sugar and salt when I was making coffee."
Loki laughs again. "That was actually intended for me anyway, you just got to it first."
"Hell, then I've got nothing. I'm guessing that's not how they were for you when you first arrived?"
"They didn't have the slightest reason to be nice to me. Even Thor seemed almost ready to kill me when I first showed myself. At first, most of them were openly hostile, but it's mostly calmed down since."
"Except for Clint stabbing you."
"Yes, except for Clint stabbing me," Loki repeats, humor tinging his voice. "But he had more reason than most. The mind-The scepter's power isn't exactly warm and welcoming."
"And how would you know?"
The raven-haired god shrugs and doesn't answer.
"That guy that attacked New York just doesn't seem the same as the one I'm talking to."
"You don't seem the same as the Winter Soldier that people have described to me," Loki replies.
"The Winter Soldier was under Hydra's influence, and from what Thor has said-"
"Thor is an overly sentimental fool," Loki snaps.
"And if Thor had started denying that you were his brother after everything you did, where would you be? Dead?"
"Worse," Loki mumbles.
"And what's that?" Bucky asks.
But Loki doesn't answer, doesn't want to, though if Bucky is smart enough, it wouldn't be hard to think of an answer.
"Could you teleport me inside?" Bucky asks a few minutes later. "It's warmer."
Loki nods and does as he is asked, teleporting the soldier inside. He extinguishes the flame that has been burning near him though he doesn't intend to go inside, and doesn't so much as cast a glance back over his shoulder at the penthouse.
Bucky however is glad to be inside. The cold was starting to gnaw at him, and it's far warmer thanks to everybody being in there and Loki's fire. He makes his way back towards the couch that Steve is pressed into the corner of when he looks up and meets Thor's gaze. He's never had much to do with the thunder god, only ever really talked to him during team meetings and such.
"Does he not plan to come inside?" Thor asks, his eyes turning to Loki.
"I don't know. He didn't say anything about it."
"And what did he say?" And Bucky almost wants to cringe when the intensity of Thor's gaze is turned on him. He knows how protective Thor is of Loki, sees the things that Loki doesn't whenever he's not paying attention, and Bucky understands just what Loki meant when he said he was reminded of him and Thor when he saw Bucky and Steve.
Bucky shrugs. "Just some things him and Steve talked about, and his staying here."
Thor didn't say anything for a moment, just looking at Bucky as though he was dissecting him. It's a bit unnerving, but it finally breaks when Thor speaks once again. "He seems to have taken a liking to you. He doesn't do that very often."
"Neither do I." Thor nods and seems to settle back into the recliner as Bucky takes his place adjacent to Steve, but before Bucky can manage to even try and sleep, another question plaques his mind. "Thor?"
"What happened in between Loki leaving Asgard and his attack on New York?"
Thor says, "He doesn't speak of it and refuses to answer any questions concerning that span of time, but...I've my ideas."
"And they include?"
Bucky can hear Thor shift in his seat and knows that it's got to be an uncomfortable topic, but he wants to know if anybody else shares his ideas.
"First and foremost is that he did not do it willingly, which could be seen by anybody that truly knew him before. That was all I had to go on for a while, but now that he lives on my floor and I've constant access to him, I've noticed slight changes in his habits. How he can be startled with something as small as a touch or a loud noise. How he's taken to always having something at his back, whether it's a wall or a couch. How he doesn't eat much, and when he does, it's tentatively so. Those are all small things that he could easily wave off, or lie his way out of, but it's his unconscious mind that gives him away. When Loki finally allows himself to sleep, he's plagued with nightmares," Thor pauses and sighs. "He won't so much as give me a name, but I don't even know that he knows I've noticed. I don't believe so, but I wish that he trusted me enough to tell me."
Bucky is slow to respond, and his voice is a bit quiet, but he speaks nonetheless. "It might not be that he doesn't trust you, Thor. He might think he's protecting you or somethin'. I used to do that with Steve back before." Thor's words confirmed his thoughts though, and he thinks that, perhaps, he could wedge the truth out of Loki. Bucky opens his mouth to speak again, but Loki teleports back inside at that moment and saunters over to Thor's chair, perching in his previous place on the arm.
"I feel like you two were talking about me simply because it's so hard to get your minds off of me," Loki says, leaning back against the chair.
"Only sweet things, brother dearest," Thor remarks playfully.
Loki rolls his eyes. "Goodnight, Thor. Goodnight, Bucky."
Bucky chuckles and curls up into the side of the couch, glad for the warmth given off by the fire as it quickly lulls him to sleep.
When Loki wakes in the morning, he is entirely comfortable, but entirely unhappy to find that he had slipped off of his perch and had more or less slept in Thor's lap. But it's the longest he's slept in a while, and he's relatively sure that he's the first to wake anyway. So he quickly stands and walks over to the balcony windows looking out over the city.
"Jarvis?" He questions, but the AI doesn't respond meaning that it's not yet nine o'clock. Loki hears a few noises behind him and glances back over his shoulder to see multiple Avengers stirring. A wicked grin cracks over his face and he extinguishes the green flames, standing in its place in the center of the Avengers. "Wakey wakey, big mistakey, Jarvis still is not awakey!"
"I'm gonna kill you," Stark growls, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and glaring at Loki.
"Get in line," Loki purrs, flashing the billionaire a charming grin.
"Stark, I'm kicking your ass out of line," Clint says, stretching.
Loki smirks. "Anybody have the time?"
Steve glances at a watch on the table beside him. "8:48."
"Alright, and the exact time you screwed up Jarvis was 9:03, so we've only got fifteen minutes," Stark supplies.
"I don't know if I can deal for fifteen minutes," Bruce mumbles.
"Loki, put some coffee on. It's the least you can do," Stark adds.
Loki raises a brow. "You have something that isn't run by Jarvis? Something that actually requires physical effort? Oh, I sincerely doubt it."
"Thor," Stark starts.
"Loki," Thor admonishes, but Loki flashes a grin that causes one to rise on Thor's lips as well.
"Fine. I suppose coffee could prove well enough."
"Just not with salt," Bucky says.
"Just not with salt," Loki repeats with a nod, causing for more than a few confused looks before he walks into the kitchen and starts up the coffee maker.
When Loki returns, it's to Stark saying "I think we should have one more session of teambuilding for right now, and then skip it for a while."
"And what magnificent idea do you have now, Stark?" Loki asks, leaning against Thor's chair.
"Well I'm sure more than just I got tired of some of you last night. So I think a team session on the training floor would do us all some good. Blow off some steam, and we won't have to deal with each other for a while."
There's a moment of silence, mostly of various members sharing glances until Steve says "That's actually not a bad idea."
"They don't call me a 'genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist' for nothing."
Loki doesn't miss the look that Steve and Bucky share at that, but his gaze turns back to the kitchen when the coffee maker signals it's end. Loki teleports into the kitchen, as he's not willing to wait for a second brew, and he manages to finish just before Stark and Bruce wander in.
"So, do we eat before or after the family trip to the training floor?" Clint asks as he walks into the kitchen.
"After is probably best," Bruce answers, handing Stark a mug.
Loki hums in agreement and walks back into the livingroom, covering his mug in a slight frost as he cools it down.
"More magic?" Steve asks curiously.
"Natural ability. Or, alternatively, I'm so hot that I'm cold."
"No you're not, Loki," Stark says, exiting the kitchen behind Loki.
"Such a pleasure to hear your voice again, Stark, but I'm sure that according to that game of yours, I'm the one you were fantasizing about," Loki replies.
"Uh-huh," Stark mumbles, glancing over his shoulder just as Bruce walks out of the kitchen.
Loki smirks, taking one of the empty seats.
"Natural ability, huh?" Bucky asks. "And what's that?"
"Ice," Loki responds and holds out a hand and ice seems to lurch into existence over it, covering his hand and forearm in a thick layer of ice.
"Aren't you the god of fire too, though?" Natasha asks.
"More like the god of paradoxes," Thor cuts in.
"Adding to your vocabulary, are you? I'm impressed," Loki says. Thor rolls his eyes in response, another smile quirking his lips. Loki's gaze turns back to Bucky, who's tense and watching uncomfortably, so Loki lets the ice recede and shakes his hand as though he's shaking the warmth back into it, and the color out of it, as the blue tinge fades from his skin.
Stark and Bruce are settling on the couch near Loki when an odd noise sounds from the ceiling, followed by a succession of them before it falls silent, leaving everyone staring in expectation.
"Jarvis, is that you?" Stark asks.
"Yes sir," Jarvis responded.
"Glad to have you back, Jarv. Missed ya' baby."
"I missed you as well."
"I'm sure you did. Anything happen that we need to know about?"
There's a moment's pause before Jarvis replies "No, nothing that requires the actions of the Avengers."
"Alright, that's good," Steve adds.
"Yep. Well, we can all meet on the training floor in, what? half an hour?" Stark says.
There are multiple noises of agreement, and Clint and Natasha are getting in the elevator. Everyone eventually follows, going down to their respective floors. When they all meet up again on the training floor, it's in whatever clothes they deemed best for it. Loki is in a simple black shirt and black pants, which is similar to everybody else as he takes to leaning against the wall near the group.
"How exactly is this team session supposed to work?" Clint asks.
"I figured we could critique each other or have target competitions or something. We'll figure it out, but let's start with the easiest stuff, target practice maybe, and then sparring or something."
Loki participates in whatever the Avengers decide to toss him in. He beats both Thor and Stark in target practice, which may be because they're both used to larger targets, and larger weapons. The only long range weapon Thor has any need in wielding is Mjolnir, otherwise, he's fine enough with swords and knifes. And Stark says that Jarvis does most of the targeting for him, so Loki has an easy enough time surpassing them in it. In between him participating, Loki likes to sit back and just watch and critique, because he's found that he's good at critiquing, even if he can be a bit harsh at times.
Eventually, Stark decides it's time for sparring. "Who wants to go first?"
"I will," Steve says, walking out onto the mats and pulling his shirt off over his head.
Loki smirks, glances him over and nudges Bucky, who stands close to him. Bucky meets his gaze and grins before yelling, "God bless America!" in Steve's direction. It's met with laughter from the team and Steve too, though the Captain's cheeks are just a bit redder and there's now a grin on his face.
"And who's gonna go against the Captain of America? The Man with a Plan? Our very own Super Soldier?" Stark says in something far too much like an announcer's voice.
"I will if it makes you shut up," Clint says, even though he was obviously amused. He pulls off his shirt and joins Steve out on the mats.
"No face hits I guess, and nothing that will leave too much damage," Bruce adds. "I'm not that kind of doctor but you guys just love making me learn."
"Just as much as you love learning it," Stark says, throwing an arm over Bruce's shoulder.
Steve and Clint unanimously start, and though Steve is larger, faster, and stronger than Clint, the sparring goes on for far longer than Loki would have thought. There are multiple close calls in which Loki isn't sure who is going to win, and a few hits that sound like they hurt before Steve eventually pins Clint back against the wall.
"In sparring: Cap, one, Clint, zero," Stark says once more in his announcer's voice. They both roll their eyes and move away, shrugging their shirts back on. "Who's next?"
"I am," Thor states, a grin on his face as he turns to Loki. "Spar with me, Loki?"
Knowing that he would get pulled in sooner or later, Loki shrugs and follows Thor out onto the mats as the thunder god pulls off his shirt. However, Loki is less inclined to do so which Stark, of course, picks up on.
"Come on, Loki, it's an unspoken agreement."
"Loki, you don't-" Thor starts to say, but Loki rolls his eyes in response to both Thor and Stark and pulls his shirt off over his head.
Stark whistles. "Loki be packing more than he be showing."
Loki turns his back on them, facing Thor, and smirks when a sudden quiet settles over the rest of the team as they take to noticing the lacework of scars over his back. Loki looks up to Thor, but his blue gaze is fixed on something behind him, and Loki glances back to see Bucky offer just a slight nod. Narrowing his eyes, he swings his head around but Thor is just grinning once more, and they move towards each other.
Thor swings first and Loki ducks, slipping in close and sending a fist into Thor's abdomen. The thunder god grabs him around the waist before he can move away, slamming him back onto the mat. He feels the air rush out of him at the force of it but quickly rolls out of the way of another punch, pushing himself to his feet.
A fist collides with his shoulder with more force than he is used to, and Loki realizes Thor may have decided not to hold back, which, though he is glad for it, he wishes he'd have been informed beforehand. He avoids another hit, trying for one of his own, but Thor grabs his arm and spins him around, holding Loki tight against his chest with an arm across his throat. Loki snaps an elbow back into Thor and slips out of the loosened grip, kicking one of Thor's legs out from under him. The thunder god falls on his back, and Loki moves in to finish it, but a leg collides with his, and he's on his back with Thor's arm across his throat in the next moment.
Loki huffs, finally relaxing back against the mat with a slight glare fixed on Thor, even if the smile on the thunder god's face brings a small one quirking at his own lips after a moment.
"Thor, one, Loki, zero."
"Shut up, Stark," Loki laughs, pushing himself up when Thor moves back. The thunder god claps a heavy hand on his shoulder and lays his arm over Loki's shoulders as they move off of the mats for the next team. Loki catches a water bottle that Steve tosses to him and pulls his shirt back on, turning just in time to see both Thor and Bucky look away.
"You can ask though I don't guarantee anything. You already have your ideas, and I may as well indulge in them," Loki says, training his gaze on Stark and Natasha as they take their turn. It's really the first time that he's ever opened himself to any questions about it, but only Thor and Bucky stood near enough to hear, as the other teams members are talking about some other subject a few feet away. If nothing else, only answering a few questions taunts them more, and he knows he can't tell them everything but something is better than nothing.
"What are they from? lashes?" Bucky asks.
"From who?" The raven-haired god glances up at the demanding tone of Thor's voice. Meeting Thor's gaze, Loki knows immediately that this is something that has long plagued the Thunderer, and it's not something he will let go of easily. It also makes him realize that he doesn't give Thor enough credit. He'd thought that Thor would never notice the things that would point towards something else having happened to Loki after his fall. Rather, it was quite impossible not to notice.
Loki wants to tell him the truth, wants Thor to be able to protect him like he always head when they were younger, but that is an impossibility. "An enemy," Loki states and he's glad to say that's it's the truth.
A deep noise of irritation, possibly anger, rises from Thor before he asks "Did they do anything worse than those lashes?"
Loki doesn't answer, which is an answer, in and of itself.
Thor makes another noise, which is certainly anger, though Loki doesn't know if it's directed at him or not.
"Natasha, one, Tony, none. Who's up now?" Bruce asks before any of them can speak again.
Bucky nods and waves a hand, signaling that he's going. "Loki, you up for another round?"
Loki shrugs. "Why not." They walk out, indulge in Stark's apparent 'no-shirt' rule-which Stark, intelligently, did not enforce on Natasha-and put a few feet distance between them. They slowly move in closer, and Bucky throws the first punch. Loki dances out of the way, but Bucky fakes one hit with his left hand and instead hits Loki with his right. Loki returns it, and it's a number of successive hits going back and forth before Bucky shoves Loki back the few feet to the wall.
He falters but kicks at one of Bucky's legs, and the soldier goes down on one knee, just long enough for Loki to, more or less, tackle him back onto the floor. He pins Bucky's arms down at his sides, and Bucky stills for a short moment, and the look in his eyes changes before he wedges a leg up between them and flips Loki back onto the mats.
However, Bucky is up faster and Loki isn't yet standing when pain explodes in his jaw and cheek and he nearly takes to the floor again. He gingerly touches his cheek and glances up at Bucky just in time to fall back on his hands to miss another punch aimed for his head. Loki opens his mouth to say something, but Bucky draws back for another strike. So he lunges forward, slamming into Bucky's legs and feeling the weight of the man on top of him a second later.
Loki slips out from under him and looks over at the team. They all stand still and silent, until Steve sees Loki's face and finally must realize what is going on. A strange noise, like some kind of strangled shout comes from Bucky, and Loki is pinned again beneath him. This time, Bucky is relentless and strikes him again and again, wherever he can reach, and Loki hits back when he can, but they're fewer and farther between. Loki can hear the whirring of the metal gears in Bucky's arm, the gasps of breath that they both fight for.
And then the weight is gone, and a strong grip is pulling Loki up to his feet. He fights against the hold but relaxes immediately upon seeing that Steve is holding a struggling Bucky. The latter is staring at Loki as though he's trying to kill him with nothing more than the look.
"Bucky, Bucky! It's alright! Hey, calm down, calm down." Steve is repeating the phrases over and over, fighting to keep his grip on the soldier.
Slowly Bucky stills and confusion dominates his gaze as he looks at Loki before glancing back at Steve. "Steve?"
"Yeah, yeah, it's me, Buck."
Bucky's head swings back around, and his eyes widen as he looks at Loki. "Loki?"
Loki frees an arm from Thor's loosened grasp and wipes away some of the blood coming out of his mouth. "Yeah."
"Jesus, Loki. I'm sorry, I didn't-I don't-"
"It's fine," Loki says, though it's only for the fact that he has experience with this that he could even begin to forgive Bucky for it. "Thor, could you?" Thor immediately releases him, though he stands close beside Loki. "That arm sure allows for a Hel of a hit."
Steve finally releases Bucky and he steps forward. Thor wraps an arm around Loki in response, and Loki doesn't miss the glare that he sends at the soldier. He then glances around at the rest of the team that stand within a few foot range. Quite a few of them cringe.
"Looks like you've got a new lesson today, Bruce," Stark says.
Bruce sighs. "Come on, you two. Medical floor."
Loki reaches forward as though to touch Bucky, but he draws back.
"Well your wounds at least, I can heal."
Bucky shakes his head and takes a step away, falling silent once more. Loki decides not to push the matter, and the four of them follow Bruce into the elevator. The ride down is silent, and both Thor and Steve stand in between Loki and Bucky.
Bruce goes to Loki first, but Loki waves him off, and Bucky tries to make Bruce go back to Loki. Both Steve and Bruce persuade Bucky into going first though while the doctor has Loki slow the blood flow from his nose.
Eventually, they're both cleaned up, though Loki denies Bruces attempts for stitches, which always end up rather redundant. Unfortunately, there's not much that he can do for the pain. His head is still pounding, and his face throbbing, so surely there are some terrible bruises.
"I'm afraid this has got to bring down my hotness rate for a few days, hmm?"
Thor offers a slight grin from where he sits beside Loki, having heard that morning's conversation. Bucky still says nothing, his gaze firmly trained on the ground.
"Bucky-" Loki starts.
"I'll be on our floor, Steve," Bucky states and stands, leaving the floor without so much as a second glance.
Loki gives an annoyed huff and rests his head on Thor's shoulder.
Thor wraps an arm around him and urges him to his feet. "Come on. You can bury your face in a book so that nobody will have to see your decreased hotness."
Loki nearly snorts, finding the words far less dignified than anything that should be heard from Thor. "If it keeps me from having to look at you."
"Why ever would you want to do that?"
He scoffs and rolls his eyes, though he allows a small pained smile.