When the elevator stopped at their desired floor, Loki led the way to the common area, hand in hand with Emily. The previous day's decorations were still up, but instead of many tables, there was just one long table, set up to seat everyone. The table already had some snack foods to hold everyone over until dinner was ready. "That's better." Loki muttered, seeing the more traditional feast style set up of the food.
Emily smiled and squeezed Loki's hand. "Don't say anything about the engagement," she whispered. "Let's see who notices first."
Loki nodded and walked over to the table before he pulled out the chair next to his mother for Emily and waited for her to sit before he sat beside her.
"Everything looks great," Emily praised.
"Thank you." Tony said smugly, walking into the room. He groaned softly as several notifications came through on his phone. "Take his phone before I do." He told Emily, meaning Loki, who was discreetly on his phone again.
Emily laughed. "I can't help that you gave him your number Tony."
"In my very valid defense, I had no idea he would be obsessively sending me messages about fish." Tony said dryly.
"He loves them," Emily said happily. "There's nothing wrong with it. I'm sure he'll slow down when it isn't so new to him."
"I somehow doubt that. He's not going to stop until he gets some massive aquarium here in the tower." Tony muttered, which made Loki snicker.
Emily shrugged and leaned one elbow on the table. "An aquarium wall with the Avengers logo in a wall would be pretty somewhere in here, I'll admit."
Tony gave Emily a look of disbelief. "I can't believe you're giving him ideas." He said, though his tone was more amused.
"What? It would be pretty," Emily countered.
"I can make the plans for it." Loki offered.
"Fine, make a proposal and I will look over it." Tony agreed. Maybe that will shut him up about fish for a while.
"That's a good idea," Steve agreed. "I honestly like the idea myself."
"Of course you do. Let's turn it into Stark Aquariums." Tony sighed. "Don't even think about it!" He added, noticing the way his words caught Loki's attention.
Emily brought her hand up to cover her mouth while she laughed, hearing the rest of the avengers laugh along with her. "I like it too Tony."
"I think Stark Aquariums has a nice ring to it." Loki chuckled, amused by the way Tony rolled his eyes.
"I doubt Tony will be making a rescue center for fish anytime soon," Steve commented. "But I like the idea of an aquarium in the tower. It would be relaxing to watch."
"We can build it here in the common room. That's where it would be seen the most." Loki said, not paying attention to the waiters who brought out the main course of the meal.
Emily nodded as she sat back in her seat so the server could put her plate on the table in front of her. "We can start looking into it in a few days. Tony normally goes on vacation through the new year, so naturally, the rest of us get off too unless it's an emergency."
"Will that be when we go on the trip we've talked about?" Loki asked curiously. He let the server set his plate down, then he picked up his fork to try a bite of the prime rib.
"I'm not sure, I would have to ask Tony," Emily answered, then took a bite of her own food and licked her lips.
"Ask Tony what?" Tony asked curiously. "Tony is right here, you know." He joked.
"Loki wants to know if your New Year vacation is also when you want the avengers to go on vacation," Emily told him.
Tony took a bite of asparagus, using the time to think for a moment. "I'm honestly not sure about that. I don't like the idea of knowing we are all gone from the tower at the same time."
"I can understand that," Emily agreed. "A beach vacation sounds wonderful though."
"I don't mind staying behind. I'm not the type to relax on a beach." Nat said, wanting them to go and have a nice time.
"You shouldn't be by yourself though, Nat," Emily countered.
"I truly don't mind it. Banner will also likely want to stay behind, so I wouldn't be alone." Nat pointed out.
Emily arched an eyebrow at her friend. "I guess it wouldn't hurt to have the Hulk around."
"I would be fine with the vacation if Nat wants to stay. I won't insist on that though." Tony said, speaking up.
"I really don't mind." Nat assured them.
"When would we leave then?" Emily asked as she wiped her mouth with a napkin. "It's kind of short notice."
"Where exactly do you want to go?" Tony asked Emily. "I know the beach, but that hardly narrows it down."
"Emily mentioned you own a private island somewhere," Steve commented. "Would that work?"
"If I let everyone use it, it wouldn't exactly be private anymore." Tony pointed out. "It would work though. I can have it prepared for a group stay."
"But wouldn't we need time to prepare?" Emily asked.
"How much time do you need?" Tony asked Emily curiously.
"A day at the most," Emily replied. "I don't know about anyone else."
"I can't have the island ready for a few days anyway, so that's fine." Tony shrugged.
Emily nodded as she took a drink of the wine that was provided. "How long will we stay?"
"How long do you want to stay?" Tony asked Emily.
"I'm... not really sure," she answered honestly.
"For a first time trip like this, I would suggest a week. Provided nothing happens that calls us all back." Tony suggested.
"That sounds perfect," Emily praised.
Steve grinned. "Seven days in the tropics. That'll be a first for me. I haven't had one of those in a while."
"I've never actually been on a vacation." Mary shyly admitted.
"Well, that's more of a reason to go," Steve said happily.
"I'm excited about it. It will be a fun experience." Mary agreed.
"I cannot wait to lay out on the sand by the ocean," Emily said happily.
"Maybe I can finally get a tan. I've never liked my pale skin." Mary chuckled.
Emily chuckled and leaned back in her seat. "You and me both."
"Did this just turn into a ladies only vacation?" Tony asked, clearly letting his thoughts wander.
"No," Emily told him. "Our respective guys will be coming along."
"I think a ladies only trip would be good bonding for all of you." Tony said, trying to sound innocent.
"Of course it would be, so you can watch us on your cameras, right?" Nat teased, earning a laugh from several members around the table when Tony didn't deny it.
Emily rolled her eyes and pointed her fork at Tony. "Watch it, Stark," she teased.
"Trust me, I would be watching every moment of it." Tony said smugly, giving Emily a little wink. He grabbed his wine glass and took a sip, not seeing the way Loki had tensed at his words.
I can't wait to see your face. Emily grabbed her wine glass with her left hand on purpose and toasted to Tony. "Not anymore Stark."
Tony lifted his glass and returned the toast. "Never say never." He smirked, then took a sip. "Oh, since you will be going on vacation, I will need a few last minute work things done. Would you mind staying behind for a few minutes to go over them?" He asked her. I'm not doing this in front of everyone.
Emily nodded. "Yeah, sure. Did you need some things signed?" She asked.
"Not yet. I just want to give you the assignments. Like I said, it's just a couple small things. I just don't want to leave them until after vacation." Tony explained.
"I can take care of it, it can go even faster with Loki helping me," Emily answered.
Tony nodded. "I'm fine with that." He said, then sipped his wine again.
Dinner concluded with many stories and laughs. Everyone ended up lounging around the large fireplace, relaxing and conversing. "I need to find a bathing suit," Emily commented.
"I still think you should take that phone, or have him send pictures to someone else for a change." Tony told Emily.
"That's a good idea. I need to show everyone the baby fish!" Loki said excitedly, causing everyone to chuckle.
"Can we step aside and talk for a moment?" Tony asked Emily, once everyone else was distracted.
Emily furrowed her brow at Tony but nodded and walked away from the group. "What is it Tony?"
Tony led Emily a decent distance, to be sure they wouldn't be overheard. "Have you lost your mind completely?" He asked, turning quickly to face her.
"What are you talking about Tony?" Emily grumbled as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about. Wanting to hook up with that alien is one thing. Getting engaged is just madness." Tony said quietly but firmly.
Emily's annoyed look turned to one of anger. "He's a person, Tony. I love him."
"Fine, he's a person. A person from another world. His lifespan is longer than ours, so what happens when you get old and he grows bored of you? Is this really what you want to waste your life on?" Tony challenged.
Angry tears welled in Emily's eyes as she shook her head and willed Tony not to see them. "Tony... I have thought about it. I know he will outlive me... but I cannot live without him."
"You are better than this Emily." Tony said, using a softer, caring tone. He put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "If you are in any kind of trouble, I will help you."
Emily stepped away from Tony with a frown. "I'm not in any trouble and he hasn't forced me to do anything. I know you're trying to help, but I don't need it."
"Emily, I think you do. You may believe he hasn't done anything to you, but you should let me scan your brain just to make sure." Tony pressed.
"Why would I need that done? He hasn't done anything to me but treat me right," she countered sternly.
"What if he is using you? How long have you even known him? Now you are promising yourself to him? Please think clearly about this." Tony pleaded.
"I've known him plenty long enough, and I know he isn't using me," Emily assured. "He's not the evil person you believe him to be."
"I never said he was evil. It's just in his nature to use people. He can't help it." Tony said, trying to get through to Emily.
"How would you know? Have you ever gotten to know him?" Emily countered. "Because I know him quite well."
"He has said it before." Tony pointed out. "His brother has even said it. I'm just trying to look out for you."
"People are capable of changing Tony," Emily said softly. She turned and looked back at Loki, who was laughing and having a good time with everyone else. "He's not the same person he was when he got here."
"None of us are the same people we used to be. You should find someone that can spend a normal life with you. Someone who can provide for you and take care of you." Tony said softly.
Emily narrowed her eyes and looked back at him once more as she figured out what Tony was getting at. "Who? You? All you ever wanted was sex and you think of yourself before anyone else."
"Everyone thinks of themselves first." Tony scoffed. "You'll see. He will break your heart someday and you will come running back to me."
"Pshh, I highly doubt that," Emily grumbled in response.
"I've said my peace. Please just think about it." Tony said, then walked off to rejoin the group.
Emily watched as Tony took his place with the group once more, but felt herself hesitate to join them. Well, my mood has drastically changed now. She looked over at the large Christmas tree and stared at the lights, hoping they would give her some sort of comfort as she slowly ran her thumb back and forth across her engagement ring.
Loki looked over his shoulder at Emily and waited to catch her attention before he waved her over. He gave her a little grin and had that mischievous twinkle in his eye that made it clear he was up to something. He could see she looked annoyed, but he patted the space beside him and smiled when she decided to join them once more and sit beside him.
"What's so funny?" Emily asked, seeing that Nat was red with laughter.
"You will see in just a moment. I learned this new trick with my magic." Loki grinned. He conjured a small golden orb that moved to float in the middle of the group. After a moment of silence, a perfect recording of Emily and Tony's conversation could be heard by everyone.
Emily's eyes widened. "Umm... Loki, I don't know if you'll like what was said," she murmured.
"Darling, I already heard what was said. I want everyone to hear it now, so they will all understand what happened when I tear Stark limb from limb." Loki said, calmly.
"Loki... honey, that's not a wise thing to do," Emily said softly as a bright blush filled her face, feeling embarrassed.
"I think it's the right thing to do. Look at how he is acting towards you. Trying to break us up just because he is jealous. He needs his ass kicked." Loki chuckled, remaining perfectly calm.
Emily looked around at everyone as they became apprehensive, although Tony had a look that could kill. "Loki don't do anything that would jeopardize what we have. Please."
Loki gave Emily a confused look. "I'm not trying to jeopardize what we have."
"On our realm, in a situation such as this, the men would engage in a fair fight to settle the matter." Frigga explained, so Emily would understand where Loki's head was.
"That might make sense on Asgard, but on Midgard, that's not what is done. Not normally," Emily stated. She looked over at Tony, who had the pleasure of looking embarrassed. "I should let him hit you," she added angrily.
"I was not arguing that. I simply wanted you to understand." Frigga told Emily. "There does need to be some resolution because it's only going to get worse if Stark continues to interfere in your relationship."
Emily looked back over at Frigga. "I know Frigga, and I thank you for explaining things to me."
Frigga nodded and went quiet again. "I think a fight is a good idea." Loki chuckled.
"I don't want either of you hurt," Emily countered.
"Be rational here," Steve added, then pointed at Tony. "Do you always have to put your two cents into things?"
"Of course I do. Emily was mine long before Loki decided to steal her away." Tony said calmly. He grinned when he saw the way Loki tensed.
"I don't belong to you, asshat," Emily growled.
Steve held out his hand towards Emily to calm her down, then looked towards Tony again. "You're just trying to get a rise out of them. There's no need to be a dick."
"I might be trying to egg Loki on a bit. Emily won't let him do anything, so there's no harm." Tony chuckled. "You can't all be in agreement with this relationship... he's not even human!"
"Watch your tongue Stark," Thor warned as static filled the room.
"Loki, Thor, and Frigga are just as human as I am," Steve countered evenly.
"They literally aren't. They are Asgardian." Tony pointed out.
"Just like I'm from Queens, and Clint is from Georgia," Steve replied.
Tony could only sit there, dumbfounded for a moment. "That's not the same thing at all."
"We're born, we live, and we die. We just have longer lifelines and gifts," Thor stated. "We can get hurt, we bleed, just like you do."
"You are still at a significantly higher level than humans." Tony argued.
"That may be, but so is Steve. He's still human. I imagine there are more people out there with abilities too," Emily said.
"I can see that you are all clearly fine with this madness." Tony muttered, crossing his arms in defiance.
"They love each other," Frigga stated. "Once you find a true love of your own, you will understand."
"Fine, but when this turns out to be a disaster, no one is blaming me." Tony insisted.
Emily felt her shoulders relax at Tony's blessing. She looked around at the group, suddenly feeling drained. She turned and watched the fire that crackled on the fireplace while her mind buzzed with everything that had happened.
Loki made his magical orb vanish, then he wrapped an arm around Emily. "I'm sorry all of this has happened." He said truthfully.
"I am too. I knew he would react badly," Emily said softly. "I should have known."
"It's alright darling. Now everyone knows how he truly feels about me. His lies are useless now." Loki said, trying to find some good in the situation.
Emily nodded and leaned her head on his shoulder. I can't help but think he was right about the whole lifespan thing though.
"Darling, would you like to turn in for the evening?" Loki asked, sensing Emily's stress.
"We can," she answered quietly.
Frigga looked over at Loki and Emily with a look of concern. I hope he speaks to her soon. What Tony talked about seems to have made her a bit worried.
Loki stood and helped Emily up. "With the exception of Stark, thank you all for a wonderful first Christmas." He said sincerely. Interlacing his fingers with Emily's, he gave her hand a reassuring squeeze as they began to walk.
"Good night you guys," Steve said softly as he wrapped one arm around Mary's shoulders.
"I will be up there in a bit, but if you need anything, don't hesitate to call me." Mary told Emily as she curled up closer to Steve.
"It's no hurry Mary, enjoy yourself and have fun," Emily said sweetly, then they turned and left the common area and got in the elevator.
Steve looked back at Tony with an angry look. "I can't believe you... no wait, I can."
Tony relaxed once Loki was gone, and he gave Steve a look of disbelief. "I know you want to show support and all, but he isn't like us at all."
"He's more like us than you could imagine if you would actually spend some time with him," Steve replied.
"I have spent time with him. Time observing him and time directly with him. His brain is better than our best supercomputers and as such, he grows bored quickly." Tony explained to Steve.
"I know he's smart. But you haven't seen how he looks at Emily. She can just walk into the room and his face softens. I know what a man in love looks like," Steve countered, making Frigga smile at him.
"You're a sweet man Mr. Rogers," Frigga praised.
"What about Santa and those damn fish? His brain might be a supercomputer, but his level of experience with this realm makes his personality almost childlike." Nat added. "He has emotions like the rest of us."
"Yes he does. And when his temper erupts, it comes with destructive magic." Tony tried to argue, knowing he was quickly losing the battle.
"Magic he can control," Frigga said. "My son has a lot to learn about his magic still, but he's capable of amazing things. He has done bad things in the past, but I have never seen him like this."
"Here is what I can add. His magic can be destructive, I won't argue that. Your weapons were also used for destruction. You decided to change that. The mind behind the knowledge never changed, only the application. So why can't his magic be used to create, instead of destroy?" Barton asked Tony.
Tony finally sighed and raised his hands in defeat. "I guess only time will tell."
Thor nodded as he took a drink of wine. "Indeed."