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#Sam Wilson
bladesrunner · 2 days ago
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I had really hard time finding a reason for being over there, you know? — But you're happy now, back in the world? — Hey, the number of people giving me orders is down to about zero. So, hell yeah.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER 2014 | dir. Anthony & Joe Russo
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mysiepereira · 15 hours ago
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Day 3/25 of drawing MCU Christmas prompts 🎄✨
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mintyisdrawing · 12 hours ago
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Clint: Please don't go see this thing
Sam: I will see it and force Bucky to come with me
After the show
Bucky: Look how they massacred my boy 😔
IG: mintysarts
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lesbian-deadpool · a day ago
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Steve: What are you thankful for this year?
Sam, staring directly at Bucky: Having both of my arms.
Rocket, at the other end of the table: *Waves Bucky’s metal arm at him*
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atlas-of-the-universe · 2 days ago
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Causing a Scene
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Word Count: 20k, so it’ll take around an hour to read in full. 
Warnings: MA-rating. Mentions of sex (nothing major until the end), minor creepy dude pinching a butt but you show him, so don’t worry LOL 
Pure unadulterated romantic Loki falling for a mortal. Some protective Loki, lots of teasing.
Authors Note: I genuinely need to make an apology for how long it’s been taking me to chug out some things. I’ve promised you guys over and over again that I would get things out on a certain time, but life and circumstance has made it so that’s becoming quite difficult. I’ll discuss that in an upcoming post. I really hope you guys don’t mind how long it took. It’s a chunk of words. But I worked kinda hard on this one and made sure it was perfect before releasing, unlike my last fic LOL. I also need to mention @writingfics-passingtime​ and @just-another-blog-of-fluff​ for not only encouraging me through this, but giving me ideas and pointers as of how to go about it. They are genuinely not only some of the best authors here, but amazing people in general. Please go check out their work, they have MASTERPIECES. But without further ado, a fic that took me literally 4 months to write. 
<3
   The mirror in front of you seemed to mimick your movements instead of portraying them, as its job entailed. Truthfully told, it didn't look like you. Although you had worn dresses before in your life, this felt wildly different than those times. The past consisted of holiday treats and cheap decorations, a newer, plastic-ey feeling dress purchased from the dusty corners of the discount section. That, or an at-home birthday party that required you to buy an economical cocktail dress that felt way too tight on your shoulders. But this...this was a new feeling. 
It had been almost a year since you joined the Avengers, and your physical tone revealed the difference of an entire year's worth of training. Your arms had become thinner and more muscular, and the same could be said about your legs, you noticed as you turned your hips to look at yourself in the mirror. The dress you wore swayed along with your movements, the red sparkles of the fabric already coating your room in a light dusting of shimmers. The chiffon draped to the floor elegantly, the wine color a stark difference against the light-colored carpet of your room. The material separated into two pieces on the skirt's right half, the slit of fabric combining again mid-thigh. Hugging perfectly to your waist, the dress's bodice was dotted in tiny rhinestones of the same merlot hue. Today, you were taller than you usually were as well, your height being exaggerated about four inches by the heels you wore that were just a shade lighter than your skin. It was the first time you had seen yourself in something so elegant in a long time. Long enough that it was difficult to recognize yourself in the mirror. 
Tony was bright enough to not have the fundraiser at the Avengers compound. Having unknown faces in unfamiliar places was too precarious. Everyone who knew about the compound needed to be known and kept track of; otherwise, the team's lives would be put in jeopardy. He decided to hold it at a shockingly large banquet hall in New York City that had a stringent dress code. You could only imagine the cost. Luckily the price didn't bother him enough to hesitate on purchasing the team their formal attire for the evening. The fact that he had personally picked this dress out for you skeeved you out just a tad, but you had to admit, he had done an exceptional job. A billionaire knows what billionaires would like, you supposed. What better way of getting other billionaires to donate to charity than having America's heroes look their sharpest? 
"Well, well, well," Natasha crooned from the doorway, practically appearing out of thin air with a playful smile on her face. She had a bandage dress close to the color of yours but brighter, hugging her figure down to just below her knees. Tight sleeves extended from the deep v-neck, coating her arms in rich velvet. Her hair was expertly curled into thick and wide waves, auburn hair complimenting the color of her outfit. She looked stunning. "Who are you, and what have you done with (Y/N)?"
You rolled your eyes and scoffed, albeit the fact that you agreed with her. You fiddled with your dress's sleeve that ended just at the edge of your wrist. Although you knew how beautiful you looked, some part of you didn't feel like yourself in the dress. The way you were just allowed to be a part of such a prestigious group of individuals felt the slightest bit fraudulent. You were the newest. "I know," you said, glancing up at her. "I don't even look like myself."
Natasha knew you better than you thought she did. She stepped into the room, the sound of her own heels being muffled by the carpet. She put her hands on your shoulders gently, and you followed instinctually to face her. She took your wrist, folding back the thin sleeve a little, and repeated her actions on the other hand as well. "It's a part of the job," Natasha stated, steeling her face into the cold agent she was just for a second before softening her features again. "You're still saving lives. The funds from tonight are going to help the Sokovian victims for a long time." She smoothed her hands along the outside of your arms, checking you over before stepping back again. 
"But a dance?" you complained. "I'm an Avenger. I can't dance."
"It comes easier than you think. There's always some guy with an ego big enough to dance with a pretty girl."
"Oh? Does Bruce even have an ego?"
"Watch it," Natasha warned, a knowing smirk playing at her lips. "He's a scientist. They all do." She took a step back to admire how well you cleaned up, nodded, and walked back to the door frame. Her heels clicked against the metal of the bunker floors, and she turned around to face you. "The limo leaves in fifteen. You should finish up whatever you're doing." 
"Wait," you called as she turned her head to face you. "I guess Wanda's not coming tonight, then?"
"No," Natasha said solemnly. "This would have been too much for her." 
As the sight of Natasha grew dim down the corridor, you found yourself alone with your imagination once again. You had been formally invited to several different fundraisers before, but nothing entirely of this caliber. Thinking about it, it seemed you were the only one who had not attended a fancy party among the team. Natasha's words rang out in your head; it's a part of the job. Even the non-earthlings would be attending, and they've had their fair share of fancy parties, considering they were from royalty. Speaking of the brothers, you made a mental note to tell Natasha about Thor's plan to ask her to dance so she wasn't caught off guard. Even though she was the most confident one on the team (aside from Tony), she still was just as human as the rest of us. The image of it made you chuckle. Thor dancing with Natasha, what a sight that would be. But who would you dance with? The barren truth was that you had little idea what you were doing. 
You peaked in the mirror one last time, fixing your hair and wobbling on your heels to the door. The hard surface was easier to walk on, but still, it took you a second to catch your footing. It was nearing midday, so the sun was high, the compound windows fluttering with the speckled light of the leaves falling to the Earth. Fall in New York seemed to last longer than any other season, especially upstate. As you walked, you laced in a trial of a confident strut, swinging your hips with a little more intent than usual. It felt unnatural, so you stopped and continued down the halls to where the limousine was waiting for you. 
The clicking of your heels called to your attention as you stepped into the compound lobby through large double doors. The team was grouped in the center of the room, a stark (pun intended) difference from the maintenance crew and office outfits scattered amongst the room. The team was standing in a messy circle. However, most of them were carried off in their own conversations, their eyes occasionally darting up to scan their surroundings as a habit from years of training. Natasha was amongst them, catching your eye as you stepped through the doors. Her arms were crossed, the color of her dress complimenting the fiery shade of lipstick she had applied in the short time from when you had seen her.  You cleared your throat and smoothed out the front of your own, walking up to the cluster of agents. The closer you got, the harder your heart pounded. Although you weren't nervous around the team, you found yourself feeling a little out of place. The anxiety of how people would perceive you rushed around in your head, and suddenly, the dress felt all too tight. 
As Natasha's gaze caught your own, Bruce turned his head to follow her stare. His features softened upon seeing you, and he smiled. "(Y/N)," he said as you approached. "You look great."
You breathed a hollow laugh and dipped your head, your gait slowing a bit. "Thanks," you said with a small smile. Even though you had integrated yourself into the group, the feeling of isolation settled back into your bones as Bruce and Natasha resumed their conversation. You weren't offended, of course, but you knew that these types of things came effortlessly to them, and if they didn't, they didn't show it. The air of confidence radiating around every one of them was impressive, if not intimidating. Thor, Tony, Steve, and Natasha all had their natural certainty about them but were joined by the rest of the team in their outfit-encouraged assurance. You had to admit, you could understand why. The crew cleaned up remarkably well, and their actions mimicked the fancy quality of their clothes. Even Peter looked more confident than he usually did. Pepper, who was dressed in a brilliant blue sheath dress, adjusted the knot of his tie closer to his neck as Tony patted him on the back a little too hard and said something to him, but the insistent chatter in the broad space made it difficult to hear.  There was a chittering of laughter off to the side; Thor emphasized a particularly boisterous point with his arms as he told Clint, Steve, and Bucky a joke. But still, there was one person that, amidst the crowd, you still couldn't find.
"Do you guys know where Loki is?" You blurted out, accidentally interrupting Bruce in his relatively soft-spoken conversation. 
"Oh, um," Bruce turned his attention to you and lifted his head to scout the room. "He definitely came in before. He was one of the first people here." 
"Watch your six," Natasha said, nodding her head behind you. When you turned to look behind you, you saw Loki standing off to the left side of the room, leaning against the metal walls with his feet crossed and his hands in his pockets. His eyes were trained onto you, sending a chill down your spine. Well, maybe for reasons more than that. 
You hadn't ever seen Loki in anything other than his Asgardian armor and the business-casual clothing he wore. Loki had always stridden with an atmosphere of cockiness, his head held high and the same, characteristically impish grin set upon his lips. He hadn't strayed from it today, but the suit he wore put a little flutter in your chest. The suit and suede dress shoes together highlighted his lean frame and accentuated his height. Supposing you didn't know who he was, you could have incorrectly labeled him as one of the unusually handsome CEOs wandering the compound, waiting patiently for their meeting to start. The hair above his ears had been tied back into a flat-looking ponytail, the rest falling in thick whisps to his shoulders. With a signature flash of green embezzling his tie, he stood up straighter as you turned to approach him. 
The banquets and elegant celebrations that Loki and his brother had attended were practically no comparison to any of the parties Stark hosted. He, not unlike yourself, had never participated in the gaudier end of the billionaire's events. Even back in Asgard, Loki was never really one for parties unless they were his own, and even those festivities felt somewhat burdensome. Since his destruction of New York, it had been challenging to find the time and place for Loki to join, not that he even wanted to. There was always the risk of being recognized by the general public. Still, Stark had assured him that this was a ball for a select number of individuals and that the danger of being exposed was significantly reduced. Did it actually assure him? Of course not. Was there a reason he was going? Only one. 
Conjuring up an outfit after completely ignoring the one that Stark had paid for, Loki decided he would get to the lobby earlier than the others. It was a way to get away from the hustling business of the compound halls, the lobby significantly less busy during this time of day. It would only be a matter of time before the crowd and the rest of the Avengers had shown, but it was nice to have some peace and quiet. As a janitor eyed him, wheeling his ridiculously squeaky cart from hall to hall, Loki found a bench to sit down on and crossed his legs, his mind falling into a semi-aware space. You had mentioned the other day that you hadn't attended any events such as this one. While that was not shocking, he found himself curious about what you have done. Had you ever danced with someone before? Were you the type of person to jump at the call of the buffet, or would you wait until the line had died down? The thought of you dancing seemed to cloud his mind entirely. More specifically, the thought of you dancing with him. The idea that you would dance with someone else burned in his stomach, and his upper lip curled a bit as he swallowed his irritation. He found himself disgruntled at the fact that his chest would tighten as the image of you looking up at him during a dance swelled his mind. 
As the Avengers began shuffling into the room in pairs, Loki nodded to some of them and stood to have a brief conversation with his brother before he stepped away to speak with Steve. The sight of Earth's warriors dressed in outfits far above their complexity of work was a bit impressive, but as Agent Romanoff stepped into the room, he felt a little disheartened, having fully expected you to come in after her. A few tense moments of bitter disappointment followed, but as the double doors to the main room opened again, his dejection washed away as quickly as it had grown. 
With your head held high, your hair falling delicately to your shoulders, he realized for a moment that he had never seen you with your hair down. Nor had he ever seen you dressed up. The sophisticated dress gave you a dangerous look as if you played the part of a spy even in your downtime. The dress fluttered as it caught the draft of your pace, highlighting just how well the bodice conformed to you. You walked with intent, clutching a little handbag close to your abdomen as you kept your eyes to the ground on your way to greet Natasha. You weren't always this timorous. In fact, in the time he had known you, he grew to understand how outspoken you were, a trait that Loki was appreciative of. Even though he was especially good at reading disturbances, it was always better when people were outright with it. Less time wasted, he would say to himself. 
Loki had decided that he would play a subconscious game with you, his eyes following your movements. He watched you tuck your hair behind your ear and determined that he wouldn't be the one to move. He would let you find him, let you make the first move. This was a simple game, of course. A game you didn't know you were playing. A game that subtly lets Loki read you a bit better. Loki ultimately won as Natasha locked eyes with him, her lips curling into a sly smile. She nodded in his direction, and you subsequently turned around, replacing his attention back with yours. For a second, you continued your ongoing tête-à-tête, but he found himself pleased that your eyes never left his. He made no move as he leaned against the wall and no inclination that he intended to do so. You took the bait and said a final word to Natasha, walking the twenty feet that separated you.  
The closer you got to Loki, the more he seemed to sparkle. Whether or whether not it was an illusion put on by clever tricks of magic slipped across your mind but did not stop your breath from catching in your throat. You swallowed a bit and slowed your pace. 
"I'm surprised to see you here," you said.
"Trust me, darling, not more surprised than I am," Loki stood up straight and let his gaze cast over the group of Avengers. "I've never been one for these things." 
"Neither have I," your voice lowered and followed his eyes. "Are you worried about people or just...party stuff?" 
He scoffed, "If I were perturbed about the opinion of others, I wouldn't be standing in front of you."
"Fair."
The slam of car doors outside caught both of your attention, and Tony began to talk a bit louder, shuffling his way to the front of the group to start to lead them outside. You looked at each other before slowly turning around, following the scuffle from a distance. Loki's finger's laced together in front of him, and you clutched your handbag close to you. 
"And what of you?" Loki asked. 
"Huh?" 
"The party. Are you nervous about the people or...something else?"
You smiled a bit, dipping your chin down to your chest. "It's a fundraising ball. I haven't even been to one of the smaller fundraisers that Tony's had."
Loki pursed his lips, catching sight of Tony as he stepped into a long limousine. The wide-open door of the car lit faintly with the dull luster of LED lights inside the cabin. Sam stepped inside and walked with a hunched back to the right, disappearing out of view. Loki opened his mouth but hesitated, debating if relating to you was the right thing to do. "If it consoles you at all," he justified, more to himself than you. "Neither have I."
You looked up at him, catching the way his jaw tightened. He could feel your eyes on him, but his ego kept him from down. The crowd slowly shrank smaller and smaller as you stepped outside, eventually being ushered into the limousine as well. The
raw air nipped at your ankles for a fraction of a second before you stepped into the car. The inside of the limo was decorated in sharp-looking, matte black upholstery. The dim red light of the LED strips overhead cast a faint glow over the group's heads, illuminating both your and Natasha's dresses. In front of the seats that bordered half of the car, an expensive-looking bar twinkled with freshly clean glassware and several bottles of champagne coated in gold foil, a white 'Louis Roederer' spelled out on the label.  Loki followed close behind you as you squatted to sit closest to Thor, Loki grunting uncomfortably as he squat-walked to your right. The leather cushions were softer than you would have expected, and you sank into the seats, both of the brother's arms positioned above yours in a feeble attempt to be comfortable. Loki chuckled at your squished look and reached over to wiggle a finger into your side. You jumped, blushed, and swatted at Loki, all in that order. 
"Sorry, love," he chuckled. "You make it too easy."
"Shut up." 
Tony spoke to the driver about something, muffled by the chatter of the others. When he was done, the window to the driver slid shut, and the car shuddered to a start. The shift in the car's momentum pulling off put Thor's weight against you and your weight onto Loki. For a second, you caught a whiff of a warm, woodsy scent as your shoulder pressed into his side. Was Loki wearing cologne?
"Jesus, Stark, you couldn't have made these seats any bigger?" Bucky groaned from in between Steve and Sam. Sam frowned and shoved his arm above Bucky's, letting out an exasperated sigh. 
"I feel like a sardine," Sam said, frustratedly nodding.
"Well, you smell like one too," Bucky quipped. 
"Really, man? Is that what we're doing? Why can't--" 
"You shouldn't have brought up that--" 
"Alright, boys," Natasha scolded. "Enough." 
Their argument died down, replaced by dejected scowls and tiny shoves. It reminded you of brothers, and part of you wondered what they would look like as brothers. It wasn't difficult to imagine Bucky as an older brother figure, especially with his and Steve's past. However, Bucky had the identical 'protective older sibling' energy that Sam seemed to harbor, the more you got to know them both. Those energies pitted against each other produced snarky attitudes and semi-aggressive taunting, a clear example being what you had just witnessed. 
"Ah, it's not so bad!" Thor exclaimed, his shoulder squishing both you and Peter into the seat. Now that you looked at it, it only looked like Tony, Pepper, Natasha, and Bruce were sitting comfortably, each having the correct amount of space to breathe. 
"Easy for you to say," you jested, your voice straining as you struggled to hitch yourself above Thor's arm. "You're the biggest one in here." 
"Is that (Y/N)?" Peter's voice called from the other side of your human obstacle. As Thor chuckled, Peter did his best to lean his head forward, looking for you. "I didn't even know you were in here!" 
"No, well," you grunted. "I guess you wouldn't."
You could hear the light tinkling of the glassware being toyed with. Out of your sight, Tony poured champagne in Pepper's glass then passed the bottle to Natasha. Tony bared his teeth and frowned in a guilty expression, doing his best to ignore the complaints from around the vehicle. 
You laughed humorlessly and pushed against Thor's arm. "This is ridiculous." 
Although Loki was not particularly bothered by your complaining, he found himself becoming a bit restless, cramped in a small space with a group of his former enemies. "If you're going to fuss so much, perhaps my brother would assist me in boosting your mood," he played. Loki watched with a grin as your face morphed from annoyed to sheepish in a fraction of a second. As if you couldn't be forced more into the seat, you sank a little. 
"What, do you have any road-trip games we can play, Mr. Loki?" Peter asked before Thor could speak. 
"Yes, dear boy, it's called the quiet game. I believe you can guess the rules," Loki quipped, resulting in Peter letting out an awkward, breathy laugh. 
Peter cast a look that could only be described as 'what the hell is his problem' at Tony for a quick second before getting distracted by a town sign that the car passed on the road. He was particularly intrigued by the little town called 'Hope,' saying it sounded like something from a comic book. Unfaithful to your predicament, the Town of Hope only seemed to mock your circumstance. 
Loki looked down at you, lodged between his bicep and his brother's side. The tiny amount of space made it near impossible for both your and Thor's bodies to fit adequately. Hence, Thor's arm hung over half of your body, effectively smothering you. Loki watched how you occasionally renewed your spouts of energy, pushing against his brother's arm, trying to position yourself in the seat that left you the slightest amount of breathing room. The hand closest to Loki's body was relatively free of constraint, although his frame was still packed tightly against you. His brother's lack of spatial awareness was significantly less refined than others and infuriating to his victims, whether it was at Loki's expense or not. You were quickly very conscious of the limited amount of room you had to yourself and even more so of the fact that there was a metaphysical timer ticking down until you reached your destination. Your stomach dropped a bit as you realized you were driving into New York City. That had to at least be a four-hour drive, more if you hit traffic. 
"Tony," you said in a strangled voice. "How long is the drive, anyway?" 
Tony frowned and looked up, counting numbers in his head. "Give or take three and a half hours. Don't be the first person that has to pee on a trip. No one likes that person." 
"What? Since when?" Bruce asked Tony, a hint of offense lacing his voice. 
"Since I said so. Now! Just a heads up: the hotel is right across the street from the venue, so whenever the fun turns into an old lady's tea party, you can skedaddle if you want. Just don't leave until eight. I promised a few donors that we'd be there until eight." The finality in Tony's voice left no room for discussion. Truthfully, a party that lasted from four in the afternoon to eight wasn't the worst thing you've ever heard, although a bit long when you thought about the grand scope of four hours. How much can happen in four hours? 
Your thoughts were cut off guard by Loki's fingers squeezing the muscle on your knee. You jumped and stomped the foot of your assaulted leg, making Loki chuckle. 
"I was getting at something before I was interrupted," He said. "No matter. I was simply going to ask my brother if he would like to assist me in making this car ride a little more bearable." Loki's eyes left yours for a brief moment to catch a side-eyed glance from his brother. It was challenging to see Thor's face from where you sat, but you saw a glimmer of a smile tug at the corner of his lip before he turned his head away. 
"Loki, back off," you said, but before you had a chance to readjust your position for the thirteenth time, the weight of Thor's arm against your chest doubled. You debated biting Thor's arm for a moment to teach him a lesson about personal space but decided it wouldn't be the best course of action. "Thor, buddy, come on," you smacked his forearm a few times, elbowing Loki a bit in the process. You wondered if the other Avengers were watching your predicament, and simply the thought of the other's eyes on you made you blush. 
Though the weight had yet to decrease, Thor's head turned away from you, and you heard his voice catch a conversation separate from your situation. Ignoring the sensation of panic rooting itself in your chest, you pushed against Thor's elbow and hoped for some consequence. Instead, you felt his muscles tighten as he pressed against your hands. Something clicked. He was doing this on purpose. 
Loki had been all but silently watched you the entire time during your struggle. Your hair flipped a bit to the side, some whisps clinging to the color on your lips. Your posture had stayed as exceptionally straight, and poise as you usually held it, something impressive for his brother being practically on top of you. Even so, both of your arms were pinned above Thor's bicep, leaving you precariously exposed. Loki bit the corner of his lip, his stomach tightening at the thought of Thor being so close to you. Too close to you. He caught himself in his thinking and hastily glanced around the room to see if anyone could see his shameful envy but trained his vision right back to you. He had not seen Natasha's eyes watching the interaction, a sly smile vanishing from her face as she returned to her own escapades. Loki had not been honest with himself about the nature of his feelings. Exacerbated by the immensely seductive and threatening air of confidence the dress appeared to give you, Loki found himself needing to swallow a lump in his throat whenever his eyes caught your body. You were truly radiant. Your gaze matched his for a fraction of a second, and your eyes widened, a timid smile adorning your face. His heart fluttered, but he morphed his expression to display a cocky grin. He leaned down to you, not a very far distance, but still enough to be uneasily close to your ear.
"Forgive me, but it looks like you're in somewhat of a bind. You might want to be careful, or someone might make use of it," the god of mischief said, pinching your side a bit between his thumb and two fingers. You jumped and coughed to cover up a surprised laugh.
Looking up at Loki's killer smile sent shivers down your spine, and you rapidly became aware of just how much leverage the brothers had over you. Knowing that the brothers had done something like this to you before meant that they wouldn't hesitate to do it again, and that thought put you on a very steep edge. 
Loki noticed the way your eyes scanned the room as your crisis deepened. Although he kept the smirk on his face, he faltered. It wasn't difficult to tell that if your so-called weakness were to be exposed, your anxiety would lay in the judgment of others. Any other day, he wouldn't have cared much about it and would have tickled you to pieces then and there. Now, although his ego was too great to admit it, he was nervous to touch you. You seemed delicate. Deadly but fragile. You were a toxin sitting atop a high shelf, contained within the bounds of thin glass walls. 
And he was intoxicated. 
Loki cleared his throat and retracted his hands. Thor eyed him skeptically and released some of the pressure on his arm but still held firm, even though you protested and pinched him. Loki's gaze flitted from you to the surrounding vehicle and fell back to Thor. The brothers gave an almost imperceptible nod, a mutual understanding that only could be understood by blood. 
Thor shifted and took a deep breath, continuing a conversation that you had failed to listen to. "Well, we all know that childhood was not the easiest for all of us," he said with a sad smile. 
"I don't know, I had a pretty easy-going life as a kid," Bucky shrugged. "It wasn't until Uncle Sam over here decided to join the ranks that shit hit the fan." 
"Come on, Buck," Steve said, rolling his eyes with a cynical smile. "It's a damn good thing I decided to join or--"
"Yeah, you wouldn't have been able to keep those bullies off your back, huh?" 
"Ah, shut up." Steve shook his head, and Bucky chuckled. 
"You sound like a fine pair," Thor smiled warmly and gestured to them. "Loki and I growing up were usually at odds, but there were plenty of fond memories as well. Can you think of anything, brother?" Thor's specific emphasis on his brother's name caught your attention, and as it dawned on you that they had hatched some sort of plan, your stomach rippled with nerves. 
Loki smiled and dipped his chin in a blatant imitation of humility to you and Thor, but it was a "genuine" reflection of the past to anyone else. Loki softly chuckled and leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees and hands animating his story by his face. 
"Asgard is unique in its ability to cultivate some of the Nine Realms' most potent healing fruits and medicinal herbs," He began. "Fields filled with trees bearing fruits of every color, all gleaming brilliantly as if they were made of gold. Thor and I would play with the other children in these fields. One day, we came across this grove of apple trees that we hadn't seen before, and naturally, we got curious. I dared Thor to eat one, and he did--"
"Loki, tell the story right," Thor scolded. "You held a knife to my throat and threatened me to eat it."
Loki rolled his eyes. "Yes, well, either way, he ate the apple. Once Thor had proven that the apples were safe, we all began climbing the trees and eating them. Little did we know, those apples were enchanted with a compliance spell. Asgard laces these fruit into particularly stubborn prisoners' diets to calm them down and make the truth more pliable. We must have eaten two trees' worth of fruit. The rest of the day, we told stories under the shade of these mystical apple trees. Our dreams were filled with fantasies beyond your wildest imaginations. In all sincerity, I found the dreams to be the most enjoyable. Days and nights passed us by, but we paid little attention. We were so engrossed in our stories that we began crafting our own when we finally ran out of them. The elders came looking for us after three days."
"Oh, were they ever mad," Thor commented.
"Quite. Not only were we missing for a substantial amount of time, but we had successfully devoured Asgard's entire supply of some of its most potent weapons. We were none the wiser." 
"Aye, and it lasted longer than just that day as well. Brother, I'm sure you remember what happened to your magic." Thor waggled his eyebrows and earned an eye roll in response. 
"It was an embarrassment," Loki sneered. 
"Loki was caught in Odin's chambers by none other than Odin himself. What were you doing, again? Trying to steal some, er...chest plate or...?"
"For your information, it was the same armor that Odin bore in the Æsir–Vanir War. It would have sold for a glorious sum." Loki paused and glanced down at you for a fraction of a moment before looking back to the group. "And the only reason he caught me was because those damned apples prevented me from using my magic or being dishonest. I told him right then and there what I was doing. From that day, I vowed to never lie again. You can tell how well that exactly planned out."
There were a few scattered laughs and sardonic scoffs resounding through the cabin. At this moment, Loki sat up straight and, without taking his eyes off the group, reached over to your knee (which were well concealed by Thor's legs) and began to squeeze the muscle above your knee-cap. Though his hands were over the fabric of your dress, the material was thin and did little to protect you. You jumped and held your breath, kicking out at the little shocks traveling up your leg. Giggles immediately began bubbling in your stomach, and you broke from sheer surprise, laughing and pushing harder against Thor. Loki withdrew his unseen assault and sat back, feigning surprise at your outburst. 
"My, agent, I knew I was funny, but I didn't expect such a boisterous reaction," he said, falling back into his seat with a frustratingly smug smile. 
That bastard. He had waited for the perfect time to enact his little scheme and still managed to embarrass you without giving away your secret. Part of you wondered if you should be grateful that he did it out of the other's sight, but the other more defensive part of you was busied attempting to form an excuse for your eruption. As you glanced up at his devious gaze, you caught a certain softness in his eyes and decided against bantering at this moment. Not only did he have a significant advantage over you, but the dress did little to aid your full scope of movements. 
"Oh, you know me, Loki," you said, half sarcastic, half strained. "Always a great sense of humor." 
From that moment on, the car ride became a little easier to bear. Loki's story had sparked another conversation amidst the group and Peter, who emphatically told stories about his childhood before the spider bite. Clint mumbled a joke that you could barely hear, and everyone besides you and Loki laughed. Thor had since removed the weight from his arm, and you figured whatever tricks they had in mind had ended with the last effort. However, as the indistinct jokes made their way through the car, an empty, hollow feeling filled your stomach. 
While Loki couldn't exactly make out what was being said either, he wasn't paying enough attention to care. His eyes watched as your eyes fell to your hands in your lap, twisting a steel ring around your right ring finger. You fiddled with it absentmindedly, your smile twitching every few moments upwards as you listened halfheartedly to different conversations.  All of the Avengers had a band similar to this one - almost like a mark of loyalty, Tony had handed them out at one meeting, flaunting the tracking devices and other expensive gadgets embedded into the metal. Loki had also received a ring but decided to keep it in his pocket-dimension and out of sight. It felt more like a symbol of status rather than a generous gift, and while he was grateful to be acknowledged as part of the team, he was still too stubborn to display it. 
There was a distant look in your eye, and the pauses of silence rippling through conversations exposed your gloomy frown. Seeing you so downtrodden stirred something in Loki, almost to the point of anger, but softer. Before he had a chance to stop himself, he reached his hand over to your lap and draped his fingers gently over yours. 
Loki's hand felt cold against yours, and it pulled you from your thoughts. 
If the world had stopped spinning or the crew had stopped their chatter, you wouldn't have noticed.
Some hours later, you had barely noticed as the car drove into New York City. What gave it away was Peter's excitement about finally being home. The traffic gradually increased, and the roads narrowed, moving under bridges and through tunnels you had once been able to recognize. It had been so long since returning to the city that you surprised yourself when you knew the name of the street you were driving on. Everywhere your eyes touched, billboards illuminated your vision and advertised some show, product, or insurance that you couldn't have cared less about. These things all seemed so minuscule in the grand scheme of...well, everything. 
From the time you entered the city, it took about forty-five minutes until the limousine pulled over, and it halted to its final stop. Tony wrapped on the shaded window behind him, and it slid open. Holding a dollar bill through his pointer and middle fingers, he slipped it through the gap, and the glass subsequently slid shut. 
Tony clapped. "Quick few rules. If you're going to drink, fine, but I don't want my sponsors knowing how slobbered some superhumans can actually get. Just don't puke on anyone. Be nice to them, please, okay? They already did the speeches, so all we have to do is mingle. And lastly, don't accept any drinks from strangers. Alright, kiddies, let's get out there."
The outside of the venue was nothing to sneeze at. Through a vast, almost chapel-looking stained glass window, you could see the silhouette of what looked like to be a crystal chandelier, giving a mysterious and intimidatingly elegant look to the brick structure. The buildings in New York City always looked cramped together, but all the facilities held some variant of the same story within their walls. A writer desperate the find their meaning in a studio apartment; a fancy restaurant or hotel to attract particularly well-endowed travelers (though the owner himself is almost always an outsider); the coffee shop or corner store that only a few people visit in a given day; the audio and radio shops desirous of drawing in any customer in a given radius for cheap supplies. They were all the same. Yet somehow, even amongst everyone who held the duplicate titles of "trying-to-survive-the-world-on-their-own," you felt isolated. Your job put you on a pedestal made up of dead humans and aliens alike, and simply being invited to a party of this magnitude felt selfish. 
Loki was the first to step out of the car, as he was closest to the door. He didn't wait for the driver to open the door for him and opted to let himself out of the vehicle. You followed suit and hunched your body as Thor lifted his arm. The brisk evening air of the city clutched your ankles, and you quivered, letting your heels support your weight on the concrete sidewalk. Stepping on the grates of the sidewalks would guarantee your heels to catch them and would result in a stumble, so you decided to linger closer to the building as the others stepped out of the car as well. While the temperature outside wasn't completely unbearable, with the thin clothing covering only the necessary parts of you, it did nothing to conceal your shivers. 
Loki stepped over to you as the other began their hustle out of the automobile, his hands in his jacket pocket, his chin dipped a bit down. He took his place parallel to you and watched as Bruce shut the door of the limousine behind him. He caught the eye of a few inquisitive bystanders who roamed the sidewalks but found himself paying them little mind. In all the time Loki had gotten to know your traits and personality, this was the timidest he had seen you. Your arms were tightly crossed, and your gaze locked on your teammates, occasionally glancing at the decorated individuals making their way up the steps to the ballroom. Goosebumps were coating the exposed part of your shoulders. You were trembling. 
"It might have been wise to bring a coat," he commented with a teasing smile. 
You humorlessly chuckled. "We'll only be outside for a few more minutes. I've handled worse."
Knowing he would get nowhere with you, he sighed and analyzed your face, which gave no hints as to breaking your stubbornness. He sighed and pulled his hand from his pocket, waving it in the air for a brief moment. The air seemed to respond to his movements, and before you had any chance to protest, your shoulder was shrouded in a green light that traveled up your arms, leaving a cream-colored fabric that fell just above your hips. The cloak's collar was made of an invaluable feeling fur that hid your neck from the elements of the autumn air, the wool of the coat protecting your painted fingers from the breeze.
At first, you had gasped, startled at the sudden weighted warmth that enveloped your shoulders, but looking at Loki with his smug smile only dissuaded you from scolding him. In reality, it was dangerous for him to use his magic in the middle of so many people, but you knew that he understood that risk. You turned your head towards the steps of the building (mainly to hide the blush that found itself on the apples of your cheeks) but found yourself drawn to the front doors of the venue. Endless people flowed in and out of the building, and you wondered how many people would be attending the part for its entire duration. 
"You know," you said, turning your gaze back to Loki. "It's not safe to use your magic so publicly."
He chuckled. "Perhaps. Maybe this world is more used to magic than you know." 
"Maybe."
"Magic presents itself in different ways on Midgard. You Midgardians are quite easily fooled."
You hummed. "I wouldn't say that. I think we just...enjoy the mysterious." 
"As do I. I don't mean foolish as in idiotic. I mean that Midgardians tend to be oblivious to the magic that surrounds them daily. An answered prayer possibly, or a strange coincidence...love." 
You turned to him to catch his gaze, but his eyes fell somewhere else. "Are you calling me 'love,' or are you saying that love is magic?" 
"Love itself is not magic, darling. Love is more of an infatuation riddled with good intentions and heavy sentiments. But...love does have elements of magic if you care to look. When two people catch each other's eyes from across the room, would you call that an odd coincidence?" 
"Probably." 
"Remember what I just told you about coincidences?" 
Before you allowed yourself to say anything, a particularly disheveled-looking man on a boisterous business call came barrelling down the sidewalk. You wouldn't have noticed him at all if it weren't for the fact that he had plowed into Loki. Loki's stance held firm as the man side-checked him, and for a second, your heart caught in your throat. You were more scared for the man's consequences, but Loki's hands never left his pockets, and his stern gaze never left the man's face. Uttering a typical but slightly intimidated New York "watch it" over his shoulder as he stomped away, the stranger made no effort to continue his encounter. 
"Would you call that a coincidence?" You laughed. 
Loki shook his head and rolled his eyes, watching the man as he shuffled down the sidewalk. "Perception doesn't seem to be one of Midgard's strong suits either." His eyes bounced from different billboards plastered on buildings, each of them shifting their advertisements within a few seconds of each other. You smiled as one of the billboards faded to a bright red rotating 'A,' the Avengers logo spinning behind snippets of your teammates mid-action. At one point, you saw a flash of Loki and you fighting side by side together on a mission that you were assigned in Bolivia a few months in the past. You nudged Loki and nodded to the advertisement just as his face faded from the camera and into a bright yellow Broadway display.
"It makes me wonder how they got that clip of us," you pondered and watched as Sam's jacket fluttered from the air as he walked through the door to the ball. The corner of your lip found its way in between your teeth, and you took a deep breath. "I guess we should start thinking about going inside, huh?"
Loki shrugged and tilted his head. "I'm quite content being outside, actually." 
"I know. Honestly, me too." 
Loki glanced down at you, catching the flash of anxiety that crept over your eyes. Hesitantly, he put his hand on your shoulder and met your gaze as you looked up at him. "If it's any solace to you, may I accompany you tonight?" 
'Accompany me' were the first words to leave your lips, your head desperately trying to wrap itself around the idea of you being Loki's date for the night. Was it even a date? Or was this just a company outing? A rather big company outing, of course, but as you saw the sincerity in his eyes, a soft smile replaced your shocked expression. Your heart swelled at the thought of having someone by your side for the duration of the dance, though something about it made you a bit apprehensive. Having a friend at parties such as these was a welcome gift, even though said 'friend' was actually a literal God. "I'd appreciate that," you said. 
Loki's appearance lifted into a bright smile, and he dipped his chin down, the same grin on his lips. Without a word, he put his hand on the small of your back, gently leading you to the bottom of the steps. Even with the magically made cloak protecting you, you could feel the soft pressure of his hand pressing into your skin. It was a welcome touch, albeit a disarming one. 
The life you had led thus far would never have prepared you for such a moment. The constant training, the heat of battle, sweat, blood, and tears donated haphazardly to your life's work held no moment that taught you how to fight your nerves. There had been missions where you would have to imitate a flirty waitress or even the woman on the date, but they were all moments lost in time. You swallowed as the bouncer opened the door for you, Loki following behind. 
The double doors opened into a large banquet hall, more extensive than you had expected from the cramped brick appearance. A piano player was swaying back and forth in his seat in the far right corner of the room, dressed in a full tuxedo and a corsage that looked somehow more expensive than what you imagined his services could have cost. You wondered if he wore the same outfit every night but were caught off guard by a woman in a black vest offering to take your cloak. You politely declined and thanked her as she moved on to repeat her offer to the pair who entered behind you. A quartet of stringed instruments crescendoed in the same corner of the room as the grand piano, triggering a few dancing couples to dip their torsos towards the ground robotically and synchronously. If this place was anything, it was elegant. Everything sparkled, from the frosted look of the dance floor, which took up around half of the room, to a rich man's hairless head buying himself a glass of wine; there was nary a thing that wasn't shrouded in gleams. You tugged the cloak closer to your chest, your red-fingered gloves peeking out slightly over the cover's fur. 
The white marble of the ball clicked against your heels, the sound barely making a dent in the noise amidst the tinkling of glass and chatter of braggarts. The crystal chandelier hung high above your heads, much grander than you had been able to see through the window. The wall adjacent to the window was coated in a mirage of colors, gasoline and water appearing to collide against the cream-colored wall; the chandelier reflected the city's light onto everything you couldn't touch. There was red tapestry with golden trims hanging from every ceiling corner, the drapes on the upstairs windows matching the same hue. Several large round tables with chairs encompassing them took up the other half of the room, each of the mahogany pieces of furniture coupled with red upholstery. The tables were covered with egg-shell linens, with varying-sized candles and fancy mints as the centerpieces. Behind the mass of tables, an extensive buffet accompanied by a bar with several hard-working attendants bustles with life. 
Surrounding the room's perimeter, pedestals displaying different art pieces, each with their own strange haecceity, sat behind a red velvet rope. It could have been a joke if some of these entrepreneurs were smart enough to understand it. Priceless pieces of work, hand-sculpted or painted through painstaking hours, in a room where no one will buy them because they already have too much but are the only ones financially capable of doing so. The rope does little to stop anyone, mainly because no one needs to be stopped. You wondered how many of these Tony owned. Several people waltzed towards you, and Loki guided you out of the way before your staring had caused an accident. 
You glanced up and hooked your fingers around the crook of Loki's arm. The gesture was customary for those attending a party, you told yourself, although your heart began to race. A work party, with work friends, for work-related business. He was warm. You couldn't know if you imagined it, but as you brought your other hand to hold Loki's arm, you could have sworn you felt his elbow stiffen. As you watched his fingers ball into a fist, wonted for a nobleman's hold, you smirked. 
"If I didn't know better, I would have mistaken you for a gentleman," you teased, squeezing his elbow. 
Loki fought the smile that tugged at the corners of his lips. He leaned close to you. "I'll remind to you watch your tone, darling. You wouldn't want me to make a show of you in public, now would you?"
"Loki," you swatted at him, and he laughed. "God, you know, one day I'm going to get you back for everything."
"Hah! Do you surely believe I would let that happen? That will be the day where I will personally bring you well within inches of your life. You're better off wiping that thought from your consciousness." 
Though your stomach flipped at his threat, you bumped your eyebrows. "Why? Can't handle it?" 
"My, you must have a death wish tonight." 
"Or, you're covering up the fact that you're ticklish." 
Truthfully, it was the first time the thought had come to mind and the first thing you blurted out, but as you saw how Loki's features fell and landed on you with a cold stare, you knew you had discovered something you shouldn't have. Deciding to dig your grave further, you rubbed at his side lightly with your wrist, but he made no move to indicate it bothered him.  
Loki scoffed and shrugged. "You assumed incorrectly, love." 
"Oh, please. I'm not even trying," you said. "I'll have my chance eventually." 
"Don't be so certain." 
Loki led you around crowded tables and dancers to the table designated to the team, some with plates of food and a few others scattering themselves around the room to make small talk. Bruce nodded at Natasha and pushed out his seat, standing up and walking towards the bar, although an iced whiskey idled in front of his chair. Loki pulled out a chair for you, and you thanked him before he sat himself down as well. The party felt smaller in this quiet corner of the room, and you couldn't make out if the feeling in your gut was a good or bad one. On the one hand, the swarm of people dancing obstructed your view of the musicians, something that wouldn't have commonly troubled others; as a spy, the best advantage was being aware of your surroundings. Crowds were easy to get lost in, chaotic enough to cover damage, loud enough to
"Hey," Natasha's cold fingers on the top of yours yanked you from your thoughts. As you looked at her, you caught a flash of concern contorting her face before she let her features soften. "Would you mind going to get me a glass of wine? I sent Bruce over there a few minutes ago, but he's nerding out with one of the sponsors," Natasha nodded to her left. As though on queue, the elderly sponsor conversing about what sounded like microbiology cackled with glee. 
You took a breath and nodded, patting her hand with a smile as you stood. You didn't notice, but as Loki stepped up to follow you, Natasha put her hand up. Tentatively, he lowered himself back into his seat, watching as you regretfully were pulled into the boisterous conversation alone. What you knew about microbiology, Loki had no clue, but your confident air could have fooled the most observant of personalities. Not him, of course. 
The scowl that replaced Natasha's gentle smile meant business; it was not difficult to know that. What could she have possibly wanted with him, Loki wondered. He sat back in his seat and crossed his arms. Their body language was not too far off from synchronized, though Loki's was easily more curious rather than the agent's criticality. 
Natasha pulled the whiskey from Bruce's placemat, her nails clinking against the glass as she took a sip. Her icy stare left Loki as she looked away for a brief moment to align the cup's base precisely into the water-logged imprint it had left on the table. 
"What are your intentions with her?" The agent asked bluntly. 
"I beg your pardon?" Loki's face scrunched into an offended glare. The audacity this woman must have had to inquire about his relationships. His private life. Although he found himself putting on a defensive exterior, the energy it had taken to suppress his affections for you had grown exponentially in the past few months; he knew that as a fact.   
"Save it. I've seen the way you look at each other. You'd have to be blind not to pick up on it." Natasha smirked. 
"I suppose you'd be the expert in such things?" Loki challenged, targeting a sore spot in the agent's psyche.
"Cool it," she warned, leaning her elbows onto the table. "I'm not threatening you. Though if you hurt her, I may just have to."
"I believe that is a threat, agent."
"I just want to know what your intentions are." 
"I have no intentions," He paused, glimpsing at your considerate smile amid your conversation. "You sent her away on purpose," Loki concluded, tilting his chin towards his chest. "You didn't want her to be a part of this conversation." 
"No," Natasha confirmed. "I don't care if you admit your feelings or not. It's not my business. But you should know that she's not going to admit to hers." 
Loki debated on disguising his feelings once more but realized its futility. His front had long been exposed. His eyebrows furrowed. "How could you possibly know that?"
"She has a long history. It's not my story to tell, but," She pushed herself away from the table and stood up. "If you honestly have no intentions, then you're already playing with her feelings."
"I am by no means-" 
"I'm just going to cut to the chase," Natasha said with finality in her tone. "If you hurt her, I won't hesitate to kill you where you stand." Without another word nor sound, Natasha slipped away into the crowd of people who danced not ten feet from where the table was set, her near-empty glass of whiskey being the only reminder that she had been there at all. 
The accusation had left a bitter taste in Loki's mouth. The fact that Natasha had been able to read him so quickly... the fact that he let himself be that easy to read, it stirred itself into a large knot in Loki's head. Exponentially, he began to realize just how effortless it was to be softened by one's time on Midgard. Earth had made him weak, and the god scowled at the thought. His brother had gone through the same sort of conundrum when he was first outcasted from Asgard, and Loki had mocked him for it. Ironic, considering there had been a time where Loki protected the one his brother loved. 
Could he even call this love - this rogue infatuation with you? What was love but the fascination with someone who makes you feel at home? Or was it that he had just never been able to experience what love actually stirred inside of its victims? Loki had known several individuals in his life that he had been romantically attracted to, most of them immortal, and yet something was disastrously captivating about you. His head was on a pully system. Loki had been raised a prince; he had danced with many maidens, and all of those maidens he had consequently rejected. Now, here comes this mortal who fights for his enemies, and he loses his speech at your mere presence.  Prior, Loki supposed. What had happened? The second his thoughts would wander, the string wrapped around his emotions would stretch taut, and he would be brought back to the same distracting ideas of your delineation. 
The music crescendoed again, a few brass instruments holding the melody as the crowd responded in time. Some of them even jumped, a select few of them being caught and lowered back to the floor by their partner's hands around their waists. It certainly wasn't the first time he had thoughts like these, his hands holding your body close to his. While these fantasies held true to their name, there were always brief moments in history where fantasies teetered on the edge of being truthful. This was one of those moments, where flashes of magic slip through cracks and crevices, stealing its way into naive hearts. Before, he had described to you that your world had been filled with magic, and part of him wondered if you believed him. A significantly smaller portion of him deliberated if you believed in fairytales.
A bartender ornamented in an obscene amount of brightly colored pins slid a glass of deep red wine to you from across the bar, and you nodded at her with a friendly smile, returning to your conversation with Bruce and the elderly sponsor. Now that he looked at it, the man who conversed with you was not elderly by any means. His hair was thinning and gray, his hands adorned with at least six gleaming golden rings per hand. The man's fingers hung loosely by his side, your dress just blocking Loki's view of the man's jewelry. Loki scoffed and picked up the glass of whiskey, downing it in one gulp. A child could have guessed that Earth's finest liquors weren't enough to even touch an Asgardian's alcohol tolerance, but he felt the need to have something in his stomach other than his nerves. 
The man reached around behind his chair, stealing peaks at your face as the conversation continued. Something about his body language disturbed Loki, mainly because he had seen the same impish behavior in himself once upon a time. The man lifted his fingers and reached to the rear of your dress, gathering his hand and pinching your behind. 
Loki didn't have the wits about him to see you backhand the man yourself, effectively taking care of the problem without anyone's assistance. However, as the man reached up to grab his face where your hand had left a blazing red mark, Loki gripped the man's wrist and tore him from his seat, flinging him onto the ground. In less than a second, Loki had thrown the man onto the carpeted floor with a slamming thud and stepped his left heel onto the offending wrist, holding the man's other arm as he stood. The conniption had captivated the attention of a small crowd, some dancers slowing their movements and hushing their voices to eavesdrop on the disarray. The sponsor cried out and grunted against Loki's weight as he heavied himself. 
"I'll make you an offer," Loki snarled as he pressed his weight down into the man's wrist, making the sponsor splutter and curse beneath him. This felt familiar. "If you leave, you get to keep your fingers. If you give anyone," Loki hardened his grip. "...any difficulties upon your exit, I will not hesitate to take off your arm." 
Okay, maybe it wasn't the kindest thing to do, you argued with yourself as Loki threw down the offender's arm. Your torso was slouched across the bar, a wineglass rim and a smirk pressed to your lips as you watched the scuffle from afar. I mean, he did assault you. Then again, you also attacked him back. Maybe it's just karma. The man pushed himself about five feet away from Loki, his hair disheveled and his shirt untucked. After unsuccessfully pushing himself up a few times, he finally was able to stand himself upright, flustered and offended. For a second, you thought that he was going to try to attack Loki, the way he squared his shoulders and his face beating red. He wouldn't have stood a chance against a God, but part of you wondered if the sponsor even knew of Loki's status. Getting in a fight with an agent of the Avengers was one thing. One very mighty thing, of course. However, getting into an altercation with an Avenger who additionally was quasi-immortal didn't make for a brilliant choice. 
The man eyed you hesitantly. You raised your glass to him, bumping your eyebrows as he mumbled and turned away to walk to the door. Loki stood rigidly in place as the crowd of dancers parted way for the instigator to pass through. Some of them had shrugged and immediately returned to dancing; most had returned to their tables, seeking sustenance after having witnessed something that intense. The bar became instantly busier as a myriad of wealthy individuals thronged to get inebriated. You slipped away between expensive coats back to the table, placing your wine glass in front of your seat. What a party. You haven't even been here for an hour, and you've already caused a bar fight.
"Loki," you called, his attention snapping to you. 
The group of morbidly curious onlookers had since dissipated, leaving him standing between the wooden dance floor and the carpeted dinner area alone. He shook his head and trotted to the table, placing his palms on the back of his chair. "If this was an Asgardian gathering, he would have had his fingers cut off for such an offense. Are you alright?" 
You shrugged, offering a sympathetic smile. "It's not abnormal to get a creepy guy at a party." 
Yes, it was, Loki told himself. The culture shock of these realms was a personal hell, sometimes. "Yes, well, I'm sorry it was you who had to deal with that." 
You barked a sardonic laugh. "All I did was slap the guy. You're the one who knocked a few teeth loose." You paused, running your thumb across the top rail, pulling out the chair a bit. You unhooked the cloak and hung it over the chair, shuddering at the lost warmth. "I guess I owe you a 'thanks.'"
Loki peered at you. "You're not upset?" 
"No, but I'm kind of curious what he would have done after I slapped him," you chuckled and shrugged, looking down into your wine. "Tony may be another issue. He did tell us to be nice to his sponsors."
"I'm sure Stark will understand the circumstances." 
"You better hope so. He's probably going to receive a strongly worded email by next week." 
"I'd bet sooner than that." 
You both shared a short laugh. The party had started to calm down a bit, most of the patrons choosing a meal over their fanciful footwork, but a few couples still swayed together, the womens' rounded dresses ruffling outwards as they spun. You made a move to pull out your chair to sit down, and Loki faltered, a conflicted look set into his brow. The music came to a gradual silence, only the sharp ringing of a violin's highest string echoing throughout the room. As much as he hated to admit it, Natasha was right. It had to be now or never, and if he waited much longer, he ran the risk of hurting you. Though he was not frightened of Natasha's threat, Loki did not appreciate the anger boiling in his gut when imagining himself being the source of your pain.
Meanwhile, the music exploded into a dazzling symphony of strings. It hushed soon after, the tempo of the song slowing.  "Before you sit," he ventured. "While threatening the lives of your foes is fiercely entertaining, we do have another two hours before we're to be dismissed. If you're willing, would you care to join me for a dance?" 
"Oh, Loki, you don't have to. It's really okay," You yammered, your hands coming up in front of you. There was no possible way he was asking you to dance. Sure, he had asked you to accompany him to the ball, but you thought that it had been in passing or a kind gesture to help you feel better. Even so, as you caught the subtle stress that immersed into his brow, it hit you. This was genuine. He was being honest. Your heart thumped in your chest, and you prayed that the flushing in your ears was not apparent. 
"You misunderstand," Loki said and offered his hand out, secretly confirming your suspicions. "I'm sure of my actions." 
A half-formed thought lodged itself in your throat, and your mouth became dry. You reached up and tentatively rested your fingers in Loki's outstretched hand. His fingers folded delicately onto yours, the temperature of his fingers drastically different than your own. The world was slow despite your wine having been practically untouched, but your heartbeat intense. He held your hand with a thin smile, leading you through dancing sponsors to an abandoned spot in the corner of the room. 
As you passed, skirts of varying colors and designed dresses brushed against your ankles. It was remarkable how little attention these so-called sponsors paid to any of the Avengers. Getting through thick crowds should not have been this easy, especially with people of your and Loki's repute...or any of your team for that matter. Despite the fact, you were able to spot a conversation between Sam and Bucky, Bruce and Natasha swaying in the other corner of the room, and Tony introducing Peter to a stranger with large glasses. You even noticed a dejected-looking Thor who sat with Steve at the table you had just been taken from. 
The floor of the designated dancing area bloomed in color as if a craftsman had spent hours painting a watercolored landscape onto the glossed wood. The ground was the only thing you could focus on as he led you in and out of sponsors, weaving through endless people. When you finally reached the unoccupied spot in the corner, Loki turned around with an expectant smirk, your hand still in his. 
"Have you danced before?" 
No. "Absolutely." 
"Then you know the steps?" He approached you, placing a steady hand on your waist, and you instinctually reached your empty hand to rest on his arm. His cologne or perhaps his natural scent permeated the air, and you desperately attempted to feign a composed expression. He slowly lifted your hand in the air, stepping a bit forward. He stopped for a moment and chuckled to himself, cocking his eyebrow at you. "You expect me to believe you've done this before? Or am I making you nervous?" 
"Wh-what? I'm not nervous, Loki." you reddened. Everything was happening rapidly and not fast enough at the same time. Part of you yearned to be closer to him, to press his chest to yours, to feel his frigid fingers tangled with yours. Still, you couldn't move. Was it rude to examine a God's face? Maybe, but his eyes were just as alluring as they were bright, and his skin practically glowed under the room's multicolored spotlights. 
"But, I'm correct in assuming you've never danced," Loki predicted. 
"Yes," you sighed. "I'd be lying if I said I knew what I was doing. I haven't danced with anyone since Carter Gurts in the seventh grade." 
Loki chuckled and dipped his chin to his chest, gently beginning to lead you in his waltz-like steps. "Carter Gurts?" 
"Don't even get me started," you groaned, doing your best to ignore his proximity to you. "It was my middle school formal. He got nervous and threw up," you cringed. 
"That's repulsive." 
"Tell me about it." 
Loki bit the inside of his cheek, studying your features. "I can promise you that we won't repeat that little memory," he laughed. Your face lit up into a bright and cheerful giggle, and you thanked him for his sensitivities. 
He pushed you outwards and wrapped his arm over your head and around your back, keeping his hand in yours. You followed his direction and were taken into a spin, your dress fluttering outwards. When you turned to face your partner again, you tripped on a rogue plank of wood that peaked out just an inch higher than the others. You fell forward, wrapping your arms around Loki's neck to steady yourself. Loki caught your bodice, and you two fell into an embrace. 
"You know, if you hadn't fallen over yourself, we may have been able to pass that off as deliberate," Loki grinned. You scoffed and rolled your eyes. 
Norns, you were beautiful. 
Your eyes glistened as the light of a yellow spotlight coruscated over your forehead, fading into the sea of colors behind you. Loki wanted to stay like this forever. Why did he feel like he had lived this moment before? How warm you were compared to him and how soft your hands were compared to his calloused skin. It was ironic, considering how much dirty work you had to do as a spy. He wondered if you noticed, but you didn't, nor did he feel how your body trembled. Your smile had turned his words into sticky sweet syrup, but he refused to rid the taste of you. It was as though all those stories he told as a child had come to reality, fables of finding love and princesses in different worlds. Those apple trees had borne more than just their fruit, uncovering glimpses of his future love. Archaic swatches of color mingled around each other in passing visions that he couldn't make out. All he understood at the time was that those perceptions had somehow comforted him. Now, he understood that he had seen you. 
There were certain things that Loki had taken pride in - one of those things being that he never made the first move. But here and now, as he fell deeper and deeper, he found himself desperate to explore you. He took his hand from yours and reached to your jaw, gently tracing along the bottom of your cheek. He outlined your chin and hesitated over your lips with his thumb. You were so tempting. He faltered, placing his palm at the base of your neck. 
The piano and orchestra had long fallen into the background noise of the party, though sometimes the music would increase in volume and disturb your thoughts. Now was not one of those times. Loki's lips brushed against yours, and as the music crescendoed for the final time in the song, you closed the short space between you, sealing the kiss. You debated pulling away for a moment, but feeling the passion and drive behind his kiss, you allowed yourself to sink further into the heat of the moment. Butterflies spurred to life in your stomach. Loki's lips were softer than you would have imagined, and you felt the heated gust of his breath against your skin. He was the first to pull back, but he remained close to you, cupping your jaw in his hands as the music stirred into what felt like a celebratory chorus. He rubbed the edge of your cheek with his thumb and gazed into your eyes.
"You're as red as your dress, darling," Loki quipped, his brow turning inwards. 
"Can you blame me?" You reached up and put a hand on his. "Is this really how you feel?" It was a question that may have been interpreted as insecure, but you couldn't care at this moment. You had spent countless amounts of time pondering over these types of possibilities. Falling in love, dancing, even sheltering a (substantial) crush on Loki. Never in a million years did you think it would actually happen. The trickster's eyes had always given away his secrets; you had been able to learn his mannerisms and some of his 'tells' from the sheer amount of time you two spent in each other's company.  Standing in front of him with his eyes more avid than you had ever seen them, you finally let down your guard. 
"I think a better question is if you feel the same way," He removed his palms from your jaw and placed them both at your waist, staring eagerly into your eyes. 
"I would have left if I wasn't feeling it, Loki," you laughed. 
"So then you did?" 
"Did what?" 
"Feel it." 
In all reality, there wasn't a need to put your feelings into words - that could be saved for a better time. You nodded at Loki, the elated grin you wore answering every question he needed to know. He quickly took his hands and placed them on the sides of your head, bringing you in for a chaste kiss. 
Who were you two but oil and water; both inherently deadly from two different worlds with individually unique lifespans.  How the universe could have arranged something like this to happen was something foreign to you. Every moment in time had aligned for this to be a reality, a thought too implausible to even discuss. 
He replaced his fingers on your waist and squeezed, lifting you up and twirling you around him. In an entirely involuntary response, you squeaked and tucked your elbows, giggling as his thumbs dug into your sides. The sudden motion set Loki off balance, and he struggled to put you down softly instead of dropping you. Shit. This was not the place. The severity of the situation dawned on you only milliseconds earlier than Loki, and a conniving grin replaced his solicitous look.
"Uh oh," Loki tantalized, refreshing his grip on your torso. With his thumbs perched at the sides of your belly, he dug in the slightest bit, and you jumped at the same time your elbows fell inwards. "Are you alright, love? Something bothering you?" 
"Loki, not right now," You scolded him, failing to conceal your silly expression. "We can't--" 
"Draw attention?" Loki interrupted. Leaning close, he brought his forearm around your back, pulling you as tight as possible. The light and dainty music, obviously made for a romantic type of dance, was the perfect excuse to have you as close as you were to him. "My dear, this party was held with the intention of showing you off. You truly think I care about a bit of an audience?"  His whispers were hot in your ear, and goosebumps dispersed over your arms like the cape he had conjured for you.
"Okay, you may not, but I do," You giggled, putting your hands on his chest to push away. You did your best to dispel any lewd thoughts that came up, but his chest was substantially firm behind your touch, and you abruptly realized that you didn't want to move.
"How foolish to think you have much choice in the matter," He taunted, his fingers now skittering to life and scratching at your lower ribs. Attempting to cover your giggles with a cough didn't do as much as you had hoped. His proximity to your body prevented you from moving either forwards or backward, as his forearm had tightened behind your back, forcing you to press into him. 
"Wahait, Lokhihihi!" You halfheartedly pleaded, twisting your torso a bit to see the other patrons. Luckily, no one had paid any attention to your laughter, too busy with their own to focus on someone else's disorder. 
To your chagrin, as you turned, Loki took the opportunity to walk his fingers up to the base of your armpit, scribbling in the hollow space with a wicked grin. You were instantly thrown into hysterics, your arms coming down to your sides in defense. As much as you did your best to hold in your noises, every few seconds, you'd chortle louder than you had intended. Some people would occasionally throw snide looks your way but return their attention in moments.   
"You do realize that this is payback," Loki noted. 
"Whahat?! Fohor- fahahaha - Shit, Loki!" 
"That little stunt," He emphasized his point by pulling you tighter against his body, shaking two fingers against the edge of your upper ribs. You squeaked and dissolved into helpless giggling. "...you drew in the hallway before. Trying to tickle me - the god of mischief, of all people. And in public, might I add. It's a shame, really," Loki baited, trailing his hand down and pinching at the meat above your hip. "You are so intelligent, and yet you do such stupid things."
You bucked against him, the fabric of your dress limiting any protection against his fingers. There was nowhere to go that he would allow, and the reality of the power he held sank in. As your laughter grew in volume, so did the heat that ran over your cheeks. "N-nahahaha...NNG! NOHOHO-" As to hide the violent eruption that echoed over the orchestra, you buried your face into Loki's shoulder, still fumbling for a desperate grip on his skittering hands. It was the only thing you could think of to muffle the racket as he turned his attack to the sliver of skin where your side met your back. Your laughter was nearing desperate, and your urge to scream only heightened along with it. 
"Careful, darling," He whispered, stilling his fingers. His words were betrayed by the smile lacing his diction. "Don't want to cause a scene, now do we?"
"It's your fauhault that I am!" You mumbled into his chest. 
A dark growl of a chuckle escaped his sigh, and he coiled his assaulting arm around you, holding you close. Embracing Loki felt like two worlds colliding, something strange and beautiful but deep-seated and dangerous. His touch was powerful and hungry. He bore years of solitude and loneliness under his nails, all crashing down into one hug that was sure to be among others. You knew that he had missed years of feeling the closeness of intimacy, and truth be told, your situation was not much different. Those years, poisoned by fragments of shattered memories, had hardened you beyond reason. There would be one day when you were able to explain what had happened, but not even you were ready to face those recollections just yet. For now, your mind was occupied by his presence. 
Loki intertwined his fingers between yours, pushing your right shoulder out, and your arms stretched tautly but never severed the connection. The song that played was recognizable, some alteration of Pachabel's Canon in D that the piano took melody on. Your body floated through the notes, spiraling back into his hold once again, his arm enclosing you. His breath on the back of your neck pierced your skin, but before the chills had fully erupted, Loki lifted his arm that was still wrapped around you, forcing you into a frail spin.
When your chest collided with his, you bit the corner of your mouth, desperate to lean forward. The tension between you two was visible, and faster than you had intended, your lips pressed into his again. Heaven was either tellurian or somewhere tucked away in Asgard, and his hands on your hips confirmed that paradise could never be found at home. Not allowing yourself to dive too deep just yet, you pulled away, his head hesitating to follow your lips as he gazed at you. The longing in his eyes burrowed far into you, and you smiled, reaching up to take his jaw in your hands. How kind and loving he looked at you as if one glance could hold a thousand words, or though your fairytale had woven itself into the pages of real life.
"Can we just leave?" You said fervently. "I don't want to be here much longer."
He caught the pangs of longing in your stare and smirked in response. "Desire me all to yourself, hm?" 
"Don't be ridiculous," You groaned and sucked your teeth, trying to hide the blush from creeping onto your face. Even though you had feigned defensive, Loki had called you out, putting your thoughts that you hadn't even pieced together on a bold display. It wasn't that he was right...but he certainly wasn't incorrect either. The thought of having Loki alone was enticing, and he was the only one who could get you to admit it. 
Though you both had undoubtedly had enough of the gathering, Loki had mentioned Stark's makeshift "party guide" that kept you confined to the grounds until eight. Time had been swept by the rather eventful evening, but you were still an hour away from being dismissed. That meant more time striking conversations with sponsors...or worse, you thought, having to deal with the crew now that both of your feelings had been publicized. The floor had been mostly abandoned, save you and a few stray couples who mingled rather than danced. The sun had cast an amber hue over the furniture and faces, some portions of the room painted in a discolored brown as the stained glass windows mixed with the sun's natural vibrancy.
The hour had not taken as long as it felt, and you were grateful that Loki had taken control over most of the conversations. It must have been a miracle or at least inside-knowledge that he would be attending, as most patrons didn't bat an eye when giving his two cents on specific subjects. All the while, Loki would keep a protective hand around your waist, never breaking his concentration from his discourse. Several speeches were given in the final hour, mostly droning orations congratulating Tony on the proceeds raised. While the number had been shocking to hear at first, you pondered how much money could actually be spared from these people. The thought nauseated you, and you turned your head away from the lengthy addresses. Not ten minutes away from eight, Tony placed his cup down on the bar counter with a thud, leaning over and falling into a drunken giggle. Pepper was barely a foot away, attempting to pull him out of his seat with pursed lips. 
You nodded at him as his glass fell to the floor with a crash. "Wasn't he the one who told us not to get shitfaced? And I thought he told us they already did the speeches?"
"He did," Steve said, taking a swig of his beer from his spot at the table. "Everyone who's been at that podium has had a few. They're mainly Tony's buddies." 
"That explains it," You mumbled and took a sip of your wine. "Are we really the sober ones here? I know you can't get drunk, and no alcohol here that Thor and Loki have is gonna do a thing." 
Bruce scoffed. "You'd think the Avengers would be the real partiers, considering the whole 'saving the world' thing."
"One of us is, that's for sure," Natasha chuckled, glancing over her shoulder at a messy-looking Tony who was being led out the front exit, clinging to Pepper. "I guess we're gonna have to find our hotel rooms ourselves." 
"I think I can actually help with this," Peter muttered, focusing onto Tony and Pepper, who stumbled over themselves as they slipped through the hall's archway. Before you could figure out what was happening, Peter pressed a button tucked close to his wrist, and webbing shot out in a thin, almost transparent line from the opposite side of the table, weaving through the crowd. The spurt of webbing connected with a small manilla envelope in the back of Tony's pocket and stuck, snapping it backward and straight into Peter's hands. He smiled cheerfully as the table watched him, both shocked and impressed. 
"What...did you just do?" Sam questioned, his brow pressed in confusion. 
"Oh, right," Peter quickly went to work, opening the envelope he had stolen off of Tony and spilling its contents out onto the table. Eight pale blue cards slipped out of their yellow casing, each with its own number labeled on a gray stripe. "They're the keys. I think there's enough for each of us, but I'm not sure." 
"What about Tony and Pepper?" Steve questioned.
"Oh! Mr. Stark actually had his key around his neck, so I think these are all ours."
Steve nodded and bumped his eyebrows. "Nice work, kid," he said, trying to hide his surprise.
"That was really cool. Never do it again," Clint laughed and patted Peter on the shoulder. 
"If I may," Loki spoke, casting his glance down to the cards. He looked at everyone at the table, his look holding for a moment longer on you than the others. "There are eight keys and nine of us. Unless Stark had the intention of having two of us share a room, that leaves one odd man out." 
He was right. For the nine people who sat at the table, one of you would have to room together. The most reasonable option would have had the brothers stay together, but as the suggestion exited Thor's mouth and he was given a discouraging glare on Loki's part, the proposal fell short. 
Truthfully, the thought was inappropriate, and the idea of the team's possible reactions coursed through your mind. But even if...it wasn't the worst thing ever. "What if," you began. "Loki and I room?"  Though a few at the table shot wary looks your way, you weren't met with the strong discouragement as you expected. Loki was the only person to truly grasp the arrangement, whose eyes went wide. 
Steve was not one known to be protective in the nuances of life such as these. More often than not, you found Steve taking on a  'DYI'-dad role, using encouraging phrases to help guide others instead of demands. Appreciated most of the time, his suggestions were typically on track with their respective solutions, but as he eyed you from his spot at the table, something boiled in your gut. You knew the team's wary opinions of the god, and when Loki caught sight of the super-soldier's leer, he fought off a snarl. Though the man's following words were easy to predict, it did not stop them from bruising his ego. 
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Steve said more as a statement than a question, avoiding eye contact with Loki. The tense silence spoke volumes. 
You pursed your lips, wanting to snap back at him. I think it's really rude that you would insinuate any wrongdoings, you wanted to say; that it was his job as the team leader to accept and work with everyone on the team, even if that meant it included something in their past. Loki had been on the team well before you had, so the notion that you would be unsafe was wildly offensive. Although, you could see where he came from. Steve was the one to see Loki in action all those years ago. While you were not afraid of his past and sins, you had no right to comment on how someone else felt about them, especially those who fought personally against his tyranny. There was no clear answer. 
You cleared your throat, interrupting a breath that Loki took to speak. "Respectfully," you said. "Loki and I have been on precisely thirty-two missions before, thirty-two of those missions being successful with minimal casualties," It would have been enough if you had left it there. Your point was proven, which was evident by Loki's triumphant and slightly presumptuous grin at Steve. Even so, there was an urge to express the accuracies of that statement and emphasize it, so it would show just how confident you were to Steve. "I would trust him with my life," you concluded, earning a surprised expression from most at the table.
Your face flushed under their stares, but most of them quickly returned to their own doings aside from Steve, Loki, and Natasha who sucked on her teeth to prevent a smile. Steve looked at you, appearing more ashamed than annoyed, catching you off guard. Despite Loki's cocky grin that he hastily threw, Steve nodded at him and then returned to you with a shameful expression. "You're right," he said. "You both are a crucial part of the team." 
"Just take off the 'big-brother' pants, okay? I know what I'm doing," You lowered your voice as to not embarrass him. Steve nodded and offered an apologetic smile which you returned sincerely.  
Even though Loki was humbled by your desire to assist him and make amends, it didn't take a genius to figure out that he had caused irreversible damages in his past. While he didn't mind being feared overall (and got a kick out of it often), he had come this far, and the concept of mistrust still being present created animosity. He imagined those years ago, standing atop the buildings in the same city he was in. Midgard's people had looked like ants from up there, at least until Tony Stark had smashed his skull through a building window. He chuckled. Good times. But things were different now that he had changed. He had protected a world he had once promised to conquer, protected people vowed to slaughter, and now he found himself only wanting to surmount one lone matter in this world. One lone person. It irritated him, the fact that his thoughts always returned to you. 
Loki sucked in a breath and pushed out his seat, using two fingers to slide over a key card from the pile. He eyed the card, then stood up, adjusting his tie. "On that note, I'll be making my exit," he announced. The rest of the table bid farewell to him and wished him a good night, which he nodded in return. When he was confident that most had gone back to either eating or idle chatter, he walked the perimeter of the table, stopping behind you and leaning down to whisper. 
"Would you like to accompany me to our suite?" he breathed. "Or do you have better plans?"  His hot breath shot chills down your collar. 
Biting your lip to fight off a grin, you followed Loki's example and stood from your chair, throwing the cloak over your shoulders. "I think I'm gonna head out too. Does anyone know what time the limo is leaving?" you asked in a small attempt to change the potential course of conversation.
"O-eight-hundred. Bright and early," Bucky said with a mouth full of sushi, pointing an accusatory chopstick at you. "And you two behave."
You laughed and rolled your eyes, hooking your fingers onto Loki's elbow crook. "Relax, Barnes," you huffed. "It'll be fine. Goodnight everyone," Once you had earned your responsive chorus of adieus, Loki turned and led you through the sea of tables and dancers and out into the brisk northeastern air. 
The hotel was further than you had first presumed, being a block down from the venue. The tinges of orange had long left the sky, replaced by black skies and illuminations of electronic billboards that changed images every few seconds. There were a few billboards like the one you had seen when you initially arrived, most of the pictures being of Steve or Tony, which made you chuckle. The action-hero stances or dramatic portraits always made them look more grave than they both were. Maybe not Steve; Steve perpetually looked as if someone poured water in his cereal. You pointed them out as Loki led you down the sidewalk in drastically gaudier clothes than each character who passed you by. 
The hotel was complicated to find, as every building in New York seemed to resemble the next. Decorated by colossal flags signs displaying the hotel's name you didn't attempt to pronounce, the entrance was less conspicuous than imagined. The only things that gave away the hotel's lucre were the bellhops, attendants, and guests who exited and entered nonchalantly. Each wore business suits, tuxes, or luxurious pelts. It was apparent why Tony chose a place like this. Part of you wondered if this would draw attention to the Avengers, and another part of you tried to forget that you'd be at risk wherever you went. You knew what you had gotten yourself into when you had joined, so the constant life-being-in-danger thing was essentially a norm. 
The hotel lobby was designed with an affluent-business aesthetic, adding on a couple of million dollars. Your heels clicked against the polished marble as you entered, a golden yellow cross-hatching with blue stripes in the center embellishing the design. Despite the amber-colored ceilings being a bit low, a crystal chandelier hung from its freshly wiped canopy. Several potted planted were tucked away in alcoves carved into the off-white walls, two ivory armchairs placed below them with a small coffee table in between. The ambiance was cozy, and a fireplace surrounded by several leather loveseats crackled on the far left wall of the room. 
As you checked in, a clerk with a black, coily coiffure spoke something into a walkie-talkie and returned to you with a smile. "Just making sure your respective bags get to your room. The elevator to your right will take you to the fourth floor. I understand that you have a party of...eleven?"
"I believe that's correct," Loki confirmed. 
"All the rooms are side by side and connected by the living rooms. You'll just have to open the door from both sides. Please don't hesitate to call if something's wonky. Enjoy your stay," the clerk said, sliding you a laminated list of numbers to call in every scenario possible. 
Loki took the list and tucked it into his jacket, looking down at you and giving a reassuring smile. "Are you alright?" He asked as he led you onto the elevator. He pressed a button, and the doors slid shut.
"Yeah," you took a deep breath. "Even on my missions, I don't think I've ever had to pretend to be someone this rich." 
Loki hummed. "You would have completed the mission regardless. I've visited lavatories classier than this."
"You're a prince from a different planet," you laughed.
He chuckled, "I'm well aware."
"It has to count for something," There was no point in not being honest with him. The hotel and the party were both grand gestures, but everything was becoming a bit much. "I guess I'm a bit overwhelmed," you confessed. "A lot happened tonight."
Loki tilted his head to look at you. His brow furrowed, then changed into something sympathetic. "Yes, it's been an eventful day."
The hotel room was easier to find than the hotel. A pop machine whirred to life as it dispensed a can for a mother and her daughter, and the girl giggled with glee. You and Loki moved past them and onto a secondary hallway. You found your door, allowing Loki to open the room with a swipe of his key card. He pushed the door in, and you followed close behind. As expected, your luggage had been tucked neatly into a coat closet adjacent to the front door, hangers wobbling haphazardly as you opened its door. Some of you wondered how or who got your clothing together and packed away, but when you thought about it too hard, you became grossed out and decided to find something else to focus on.  
About three feet away from the door, a table made of dark wood sat at waist level, a rectangular basket of fancy liquors, and a mirror hanging behind it. You watched in the mirror as Loki closed the door behind you, and you shrugged off your cloak to drape it from a hanger. The floor was carpeted a sandy shade, expanding into what you assumed to be a bedroom to your left. On the opposite side of the room, the carpet halted at a living room with tan leather sofas, a desk, and a boxy television. 
Loki chuckled as you stared at yourself in the mirror, stripping himself of his jacket and hanging it beside your cloak. He breathed in deeply and stepped up behind you, sliding his hands over your waist and interlocking his fingers on your stomach. The feeling made you jump slightly, but you relaxed into his hold. He rested his face in the crook of your neck as you leaned your head back onto his shoulder, inhaling the freshened air of the hotel room. 
"It's quiet," you muttered, picking up a tiny bottle of whiskey with the silhouette of a red lion on an orange label.
Loki inhaled and lifted his chin, placing it gently on your shoulder. "I never pegged you as a whiskey person." 
"I'm not," you validated. Turning the bottle over in your fingers, you hummed and set it down. "I've never actually had the chance to try it. Or wanted to. One or the other." 
"I personally don't care for it much. Asgardian mead remains the nine realms most exquisite of spirits," Loki countered. He remained, standing with his skin pressed into yours. The mirror held the actualities of your own single universe, albeit small ones. Seeing the reflection of your body pushed against his own was something out of a story, and for a moment, he prayed to Odin that his visions hadn't been incorrect. The softness of your skin was unparalleled, he noted, taking a hand to drag against your outer upper arm. You shivered, making him smile into your neck. You smelled as though rich wine and amber and pear had clashed into one collaborative fragrance, a warm scent that reminded him of the gardens on Asgard. It was charming, to say the least.  "Would you like to take a moment to freshen up, darling?" He asked mainly out of courtesy.  
You hummed in thought, bumping your eyebrows with an appreciative smile. "Maybe in a few. I think I just want to get into comfy clothes." 
"That can be arranged," Loki said, taking the hand that had been dragging along your arm and flicking his fingers upwards. A fizzy green light bubbled at your feet, shrouding the two pairs of legs in chartreuse clouds that formed and rolled up your body. You fell a little flat as the heels you wore faded away, replaced with soft grey slippers that covered everything but your Achilles heel. You noticed that Loki's sophisticated dress shoes had also been transformed into black socks as the mist climbed higher. The magic passed over your torso and chest, momentarily blocking your view from the mirror. 
When the magic subsided, the tight feeling of your dress melted away into soft cotton that hugged your hips and shoulders. Loki had replaced your outfit with a black t-shirt that fell loose and a pair of plaid green and blue pajama pants that cuffed at your ankle. His outfit had changed as well; his suit morphed into a grey sweatshirt and black track pants. It was a peculiar look, seeing you both in such casual outfits, but it warmed something in your heart. You smiled, taking your hand and holding the side of his cheek, watching his expressions in the mirror. He smiled.
"You always did look better in green," he teased, pushing himself off of you to turn you around to face him. "I do wonder how you would look in Asgardian leather." 
You blushed at the mention of it and pushed at his chest. Despite the quip, you released a breathy laugh, "I think it would probably suit you better than me."
"Eheh," he laughed, placing a flat palm on your upper back to pull you closer. "Don't undersell yourself, dear. If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that you would look ravishing, no matter the clothing you choose to wear," he said, rubbing a thumb along your cheek. "Or don't," he added with a smirk. 
You threw your head back and groaned, allowing his arms to support your weight. "I don't want you to keep thinking you can get away with that kind of stuff," you grumbled. The position you found yourself in was oddly reminiscent of the ballroom dance you shared. That same dance he had tickled you to pieces and embarrassed you in front of everyone, of course, but it had-
Wait. 
"Are you going to do anything to stop MEHE-" Loki immediately unhooked his arms from around your body as you skittered your fingers up his stomach. He stepped backward, expecting you to let go, but you followed his movements, and he stumbled against the wall. He sucked in his giggles and clasped your wrists in his hands, looking aghast. "I must warn you, love - you are not making a wise series of choices."
"I think you lied to me, Loki," you laughed in astonishment. You knew your hunch about Loki faking had been correct, or he at least was doing an impressive job at holding in his reactions at the party.
After readjusting his posture, he gripped your wrists tighter and jerked you close to him. You yelped, falling against his chest. With your fists and elbows tucked between his and your bodies, he growled a low chuckle into your ear, earning a snicker from you. As much as you wanted to push your head down, Loki simply didn't allow it. "I think you are walking on thin ice, pet," he whispered. "Do what you will. But I swear everything you do will be returned tenfold." 
You paused, taking a second to lean back and study his features. This was Loki we were talking about, and you had not only tickled him once today (or attempted), but now twice, and were expecting to get off the hook. Something as flirty and as torturous as tickling was indeed not below the trickster god. He stared deep into your eyes, deadly serious. When you didn't respond in time, Loki's threatening look softened. "No? Then let's begin," he said, smirking. 
Before you could ask what he was talking about, you felt something soft coil around your ankle, wrapping around and up your leg to mid-calf.  Your instincts forced out a scream and kick before you even had seen what it was, but when you looked down and saw a rolled-up bed sheet tied around your foot, you became confused. The corded sheet trailed in from the bedroom, disappearing behind the wall where you assumed the bed was. The only thing visible in the bedroom was a flat-screen television against the same wall as the door.  The confusion only lasted so long, as any thought was whisked from your head when the sheet tightened and yanked, throwing your weight to the floor. You screamed and fell with a thud as the long line of linen dragged you into the bedroom. 
Having been in a similar situation like this (Bali was probably the roughest mission thus far), you were able to get your bearings quickly. You used the momentum of the turn to flip onto your back, crunching up and reaching out to unhook the wrap. Before you could do much work, the direction of the pull changed, and you were hoisted suddenly into the air, your free leg bent at an awkward angle. With a heavy breath, you craned your neck to look at what held you. 
The sheet that rippled with green magic had been rolled tight, but you were able to see the unmade bed it originated from. There was a sofa black leather sofa that you had been dangled above, a coffee table and armchair a few feet away. If you fell, you were in for a soft landing, and seeing Loki's magic calmed your nerves a bit. It wouldn't have necessarily been a surprise if a rogue villain decided to literally crash the party or invade your hotel room; it wasn't the first to happen either way. Even so, the sneer that Loki held as he strolled into the room with his fingers laced behind his back did little to slow your pulse. 
"Stuck, are we?" He said, bumping his brow and looking down, the smirk never leaving his face. He stepped closer, and you thanked fate that the dragging had caused your shirt to catch under the elastic in your pants, keeping your midsection clothed. 
"Loki, put me down right now!" you scolded, but a few giggles slipped through your scowl. 
Loki tutted and strolled over to you, scanning your upsidedown body. You knew that Loki would never and has never done anything to hurt you, but despite that fact, you felt exposed. Gravity worked against you, making every movement intentional, forced, and tiresome. Dangling three feet off the floor by one leg would be easy for someone to get out of if they held a strong core, but getting out of it with your captor standing less than a foot away presented another obstacle. If he had made you fall, falling on a couch was undoubtedly better than landing on a hard floor.  However, Loki stayed still, watching your struggling form attempt to crunch to unwind the cloth from your leg. Gripping your pant leg, you opted to ignore him for the time being. You walked your hands up your leg, using it to sturdy yourself as you reached up and climbed the length of your body. 
Just as your fingertips grazed the hem of the sheet, the cloth rippled against your ankle, alive with bright green sparks. It slackened, and you felt a startling induction of gravity, but you were caught and snapped back down to your starting posture. You gasped and yelped as the sheet hoisted you higher. 
"Unfortunately for you," he stepped up to you, his shoulders slightly lower than parallel to your hips. Tantalizingly slow, he dragged two relaxed fingers against an exposed sliver of skin on your lower stomach. You shuddered a gasp and reached up to grab at him, but he had pulled away too quick. "I don't have any plans on releasing you any time soon."
"What are you talking ABOHOUT?!" If there was reason for trying to hold back your laughter, it was startled off by the boisterous laughter that erupted through the room as Loki set to work scratching at your stomach. His fingers danced around your navel, flitting down (or up, by your perspective) to flutter around your sternum. Giggles now pouring freely, your biceps already began to ache with the effort of swatting away his hands. Your mirth became frantic as the realization of just how much power he had over you sank into your spine. In a desperate reach to control what you could, you grabbed at his shirt and clutched at it. Loki mistook your grappling as an attack of your own, and he coughed out several short chuckles but caught your flailing wrists and held them in one fist. 
"Ohoho, poor choice after poor choice tonight," he looked incredulously at you.
The minute amount of protection your arms provided had been stolen from you in a blink of an eye. You choked out some giggles and felt your elevated pulse beneath his fingers, and you wondered if he could feel it too. Yet your laughing hadn't stopped. Although it was an exploitive and intense feeling, you didn't mind being tickled. You could feel the power beneath his palms, but his touch revealed something more genuine - more affectionate than spiteful. His hands grazed over your skin, and you wanted to drink in the feeling of his skin against you, but the tickling made that incredibly difficult. When his fingers tripped to a different spot and your energy spiked, his tongue would peak out between his teeth as he tried not to laugh along with you. One of those spots was an area of your upper ribs, right below the hollows of your armpit. Your giggles hitched, and you jerked away from him. He tapped the tip of his pointer nail against the sensitive skin gingerly, taking enjoyment in your desperation. 
"This ihisn't even fahahair!" you whined. "What I did wasn't nearly as bad as what you're doing!" 
"I did say that I would return your actions tenfold, did I not?" 
"Yeah, but-" 
"Then you understand that while I may not commonly be a man of my word, when it comes to making things fair, I care very deeply," he hummed, gripping your wrists tighter as he traced to the soft spot of your underarm. Your mind was fuzzy from the ticklish shocks slamming through your nerves, but his teasing did nothing for your aid. You pulled and yanked, but your strength against his was a game you were destined to lose. "If that means I must teach you a lesson about the natural consequences of your actions, so be it. Would you like me to list out the reasons for your discipline?" 
"NahahaHAHAHAHA NOHOHOHO!" you bellowed when he switched to vibrating his fingers under your exposed arms. He nudged the hem of your sleeve to the side, allowing his top digits to slip beneath the cover of your shirt and onto bare skin. 
"Does it not bother you that your enemies could unravel you by something as simple as this?" He pinched his hand up to your hips, and you cackled, struggling against your restraints. Though Loki wasn't one for mercy, his heart fluttered when he saw a happy tear escape from the apple of your cheek.
He also noted how red your face turned and recalled that humans didn't have the blood circulation strength required to be held at different gravities for extended periods. Without releasing your wrists, Loki commanded the sheet to set your back down against the couch, your head and shoulders touching down first, followed by the rest of your torso. The couches cooled leather startled you at first but swiftly came as a relief as your headrush began to fade away. You sucked in some greedy breaths and gradually opened your eyes before realizing that your one leg was still held in the air. Using his one free hand, he scratched delicately along the back of your knee. 
"KAHAHAHA, SHIHIHIT! Leheave mehehehe aloHONE!" Your free-hanging foot landed against the arm of the couch, pushing your hips up in pure instinct or to gain an ounce of leverage. It did nothing. 
"You are quite resilient, I must say. Then again, it could also just be that...you're enjoying this," Loki remarked, and you felt his thumb twitch against the bone of your wrist. 
Distracted by Loki's tickling fingers, the soft cotton that slid against the bottom of your sole was almost too faint to feel. That is... until it became more intentional. The first few flicks of the magic-bound sheets were nearly as mistakable as an accident, but when your eyes caught the glowing green light shifting around your toes and arch, your heart rate hitched, and your laugh took on a wheeze. The hemming of the sheet was significantly stiffer than the rest of the fabric, and feeling it scratch against your foot was practically unbearable. You kicked out and attempted to sit up, but your antics had sapped most of the energy from your body. 
"PLEHEHEASE! I AHAHAM NAHAHAHAT!" 
Loki scoffed with a heavy eye roll. There were things that Loki was, but a fool was not among those qualities. You were not one to hide your affection for those around you, a characteristic that made you all the more endearing. He had seen you push, play, and intentionally annoy the other Avengers into rough-housing, and they had always played along, happy to make a sturdy source of their joy content as well. Loki had not been kept a victim of your antics, and you were not below purposefully seeking him out to pester. "I'm just supposed to believe that?" 
"Yehehehes! This is torturhure," You chortled, which was a half-truth. 
"Fascinating," Loki leaned forward on the couch, looming over your frame. The angle of your trapped leg caused your hips to elevate off the sofa, your foot planted on the arm for support. To avoid hurting you, Loki made sure to press his weight into the upper part of your torso instead of the lower part to prevent any uncomfortable pull. Who would have thought he'd take care in the comfort of his own captive? Would Asgard crumble at the mere sight of its trickster haven fallen at the hands of something so ordinary? Could all evil not be subdued by the touch of one it loves? Perhaps it was possible. "And yet you've not once requested me to stop," Loki purred, bringing your hands up above your head though you thrashed and struggled and spewed with nervous tittering.
Your stomach dropped and swarmed with abashment. Saying that it was torture wouldn't have counted, nor the halfassed pleas you offered amongst your frenzy. Although Loki had made that a point, both his hands and cursed cloth slowed.
The sweat shinner across your brow, the way your chest heaved and retracted against the bunched-up fabric of the clothes he had conjured onto your beautiful skin; there was nothing to you Loki didn't adore. You were trust, warmth, acceptance, something that was all too rare. He smiled down at your goofy and exhausted grin, finally ending his reign over the bedsheets and lowering your body fully onto the sofa. The sheet draped loosely around your ankle as if it had been the remnants of morning or perhaps a mid-afternoon nap. The wild state of your clothing and hair suggested as much, if not something more suggestive. Love and affection were strange. Not foreign, but peculiar. Loki had not realized that falling in love could physically be felt in the chest, like magnetism that would prayerfully result in his arms embracing you. 
In a crowded room, his eyes fell heavy onto you. The way when you spoke, your words almost fell too quickly out of your mouth. Your skill as an agent, your sharp wit, your humor - Loki's thoughts fell onto his mother's face, and how desperately he wished he could bring you home to Asgard to show her what - who - he had won. And yet, you were more than just a prize. You were more than just the exterior shell of the hardened agent you had to become. You were you. That was enough. 
There were many parts that of you that Loki had yet to explore. Natasha's words and advice rang in the back of his head, but he knew that they came from a place of protectiveness for you. There were so many possibilities to who you were, what had happened, where you even came from. Midgard was large, Asgard immense, the cosmos enormous. With each individual came a story, and the stories he had heard throughout his years put lead in his stomach. The Avengers were not known for cheery origins, that was evident enough. While he craved to know what fueled your drives, he was unwilling to push past what you were acquiescent to share.  
"I don't hate it," You mumbled, snatching Loki from his thoughts. A deep blush dusted your cheeks, and you turned your head to the side, tugging on your wrists (which Loki yielded) and covering your face. "If anyone is doing it, I'd rather it be you."
Once again, the familiar tug of Loki's heart blossomed in his chest. He felt his jaw square but did nothing to stop it, allowing his face to bear emotions he had concealed for what felt to be ages. You reached up to him, taking his jaw in your hands. His chin was stiff beneath your sliding thumb, his skin smooth and unblemished, save for smile lines that had etched themselves to the sides of his nose. 
"What are you thinking about?" You asked. 
Loki's hand mimicked your gentle hold on his face, caressing the apples of your cheek. "I...have done things. Some unspeakable," he admitted, searching for something in your face. 
"Things I already know about."
"Yes," his voice faded. Years of suffering, loneliness, and pain strong enough to shake ground shadowed his face. "Is this right? You don't feel...coerced." 
"No," you shook your head just enough so he could see beneath the dark of the room. "Don't focus on the past anymore. We're here. We're now. We've all done things we hate. All of us," you paused, the faded glow of a taxi's headlights passing over his features. "I...just want to be with you."
"I'm here," Loki rustled, leaning down to your lips. 
In the story that Loki had told in his fruit-drunk stupor, he had spoken of a world painted with crimson and gold. The air tasted like bourbon, and the crowds pulsed with energy as musicians cheered in their corners. Among the throng of people had been a girl, dancing by herself in the middle of a busy floor, her dress bright and how its ruby pigment stole eyes from onlookers. She twirled and laughed, holding the skirt down with her hands. Loki had not told his companions about his visions afterward and instead let them begin their own fables, but Loki had seen more than just that girl. He had seen her take his hand and lead him into a dance. He had seen the sparkle of solar systems in her eyes and stars glittering in her pupils. He had tasted the tang of wine at your tongue, and now as he sat with you in intense reality and made quick work of his hands, the memory of his fantasy had reached its end. 
His tongue now tasted the perspiration he had caused personally, kissing and nipping at your neck, your collar, your stomach, your hips, your thighs...
With a look supplicating permission, a shy nod, and a smirk that made your knees shake, you once again found yourself trembling beneath the hands of the trickster god. 
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romanovsmqrvels · 2 days ago
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y/n : oh no, i wonder why there’s mistletoe hanging above us ! i guess we have to kiss now
sam : *holding the mistletoe on a stick above you and natasha*
natasha : if you just want a kiss you can say-
y/n : *sweating* i don’t know what you’re talking about JUST KISS ME
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SAMBUCKIES HOW ARE WE FEELING???
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siancore · 2 days ago
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Our Captain America centre stage where he belongs.
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MCU duos:
Shang-Chi: So no one told you life was gonna be this way...
Katy Chen: *claps four times*
/
Kate Bishop: So no one told you life was gonna be this way...
Clint Barton: (sips his coffee because he didn't hear Kate's singing due to his hearing aid being turned off)
/
Sam Wilson: So no one told you life was gonna be this way...
Bucky Barnes: I hated "Friends" so shut up.
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Sylvie Laufeydottir: So no one told you life was gonna be this way...
Loki Laufeyson: *breaks four glasses to make the sound effects*
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Wanda Maximoff: So no one told you life was gonna be this way...
Vision: Oh...um...which sitcom was this one again? Was that the one where the father was recounting his story about how he met his spouse to his children?
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rainybatpersondragon · 2 days ago
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Bucky waiting to impress sam with his super strength in delacroix :
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incorrectquotesmcu · 2 days ago
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Sam: And Bucky, when I die, I don’t care who else is at my funeral, as long as you’re there.
Bucky: Of course I’ll be there. The murderer always shows up to throw off the cops.
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samwontshare · 2 days ago
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My brain completely goes into full queer lockdown when I think about the boat engine scene. The level of intimacy in this scene is so intense I can’t believe they included it. And also? The moment Sam calls on his community to repair the boat, I was gone. Chef kiss, utter perfection. Sam Wilson finally asked for help.
I love how this shows we need people in our corner in different ways. Even if the system gets us down, that’s alright - where there’s a will, there’s a way. Sam is the product of his family’s legacy, one others would protect, one he would protect. None of us can do everything alone. But Sam would surely try to help everyone else before receiving. Sam needed his family, his community. Sam embracing those elements is what allowed him to fully step into himself. It signaled the end of disconnection. But he also needed to feel seen specifically by Bucky.
The series quickly brings us to Sam alone on the boat. And there’s so much to be said here about legacy and Sam feeling he has to singlehandedly carry on a legacy. And it isn’t working. The engine, the heart of the boat, is broken. We got ourselves a god damn metaphor for this man’s heart.
So cut to episode 5. Sam has realized he needs his family and community to fix the boat (his heart and soul). A community member brings the replacement part… but it’s Bucky who does the heavy lifting for Sam. And Sam looks SHOCKED.
Even when we’ve moved on to Sam asking for help, bringing his community together, he still sneaks out early to work on the engine, the heart, alone.
Except this time, Bucky follows him and interrupts. And unlike in ep one when Bucky jumped out a damn plane to follow Sam, Sam silently invites him in. They share a long, meaningful look with nothing said. Then Sam literally gives Bucky instructions to his heart, y’all.
It’s later followed by Bucky’s additional repair work, which helps Sam decide to take the mantle (per Anthony Mackie). It’s no coincidence that Bucky is the only outsider allowed to see every part of Sam, and it’s only when Bucky starts respecting and appreciating Sam in his totality that Sam is able to move forward. Bucky’s showing up, even when Bucky was being a shit and they were arguing, meant something to Sam. That Bucky finally showed up in the right way? It’s exactly what Sam needed.
This is in no way meant to downplay the pivotal roles of Isaiah, Sarah, the boys and his community or say Sam wouldn’t get there without Bucky. But it does speak volumes to how important their relationship is in the series. Bucky having Sam’s back, rolling up with those acts of service, making those amends… it was a balm to a troubled heart.
And the show did that intentionally. Even if you don’t ship Sambucky, you are meant to understand these two now have an unshakable bond to the point Bucky freaking moves to NOLA. Wild y’all.
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lesbian-deadpool · a day ago
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Clint: Ca-Caw! Ca-Caw!!
Sam: What are you squawking about?
Clint: It’s our secret bird code!
Sam: What secret bird code?
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