Something Wicked This Way Comes (Loki/Reader Lullabies #211)
Pairing: Loki/Female Reader
Category: Fluff. Fluff without plot.
Summary: When a Halloween prank war goes just a little too far, how will Loki make it up to you?
Warnings/Notes: There’s a little bit of mildly-described pretend-gore in the very last scene of this fic. No one is hurt! But for a moment, you think that Loki has been hurt very badly. He hasn’t! All is well! (Also: the gif is not even slightly related. I've just always loved that scene in Amelie and it's a little spooky, so...here we are!)
New but Retroactive Reminder for this and all of my fics: I do not, have not, and will not give anyone permission to copy/paste, translate, or otherwise take or modify this story to post it anywhere else. You can find my stories here on Tumblr or under kaeorin on AO3, but nowhere else. This does not apply only to fics which hold this disclaimer--NONE of my works are to be stolen or modified. Additionally, please remember that Liking a post on Tumblr does not increase the author's exposure. I don't run your life, but readers should be reblogging the works they like.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
You really should have known better. Getting into a prank war with Loki, of all people? In retrospect, it was absolutely ridiculous of you. You didn’t even really like pranks—not coming up with them, not planning them out, not actually doing them.
The only thing you really liked about them was the way Loki reacted when he realized what you’d done. Almost every time, shock would flash across his face, followed almost immediately by a sly sort of pleasure that made your whole body tingle. It was like he never really expected that someone like you would ever be able to pull anything over on someone like him. Sometimes he’d roll his eyes at the childish way you’d managed to get him, or sometimes he’d reach out to pull you in close to him, but always, always, he’d press his lips tenderly against your forehead before vowing revenge.
So, yeah, you should have known better, but Halloween was approaching. It was hard to resist. As the days grew shorter, and the nights grew longer, and the air got just a little bit crisper with every passing day, that same familiar excitement began to grow inside you. This was, perhaps, your favorite time of year. The pumpkins, the ghosts, the general spookiness—it was all just so...good. You’d always had a Thing for watching scary movies year-round, but it got just a little bit better when the rest of the world around you started feeling a little spookier.
Anyway, Loki was the one who started it. One night, you were alone with him in one of the sitting rooms in the Tower, utterly wrapped up both in one another and in the slasher movie playing on the television. Just because you enjoyed scary movies didn’t necessarily mean that you were brave, so you were more or less attached to his side, alternating between watching the movie and hiding your face against him. Just as the music in the background went all low and quiet and tense, a hand tightened around your shoulder and made you shriek and cling to him a little more tightly.
His quiet laughter clued you in, and made your cheeks burn. Gently, you pushed him away and groaned under your breath. “You jerk. What did I ever do to you?” Even you could hear the insincerity in your voice as you tried not to laugh.
He only laughed harder, and, though you went on protesting, you didn’t do much to fight him off as he went to put his arm back around you. He kissed your temple over and over until you finally went still again beside him. You loved his laugh. You especially loved his laugh when he laughed in between sweet kisses like this. “Forgive me, I couldn’t resist. You were so focused on the film. I hadto. And you know that it is so dear to me when you look to me to protect you. Can you blame me?”
And when he put it like that, what choice did you have but to forgive him? Still, you didn’t have to make it easy. You blew out a long, slow breath and grumbled quietly even as you fitted yourself snugly against his side. “I’ll get you back,” you warned in a low voice, and his tolerant chuckle only strengthened your resolve.
Your first attempt was a disaster. It seemed easy enough when you found it online—stick a bullion cube in your shower head and wait for your unsuspecting prankee to take a shower. Setup was a breeze as well: you were usually the first one awake, so you were able to go through your own morning routine while Loki went on sleeping innocently, completely unaware of what you were doing in the washroom. When he woke up and greeted you with a sleepy kiss there in the doorway, you did yourself proud: you didn’t let even the tiniest little smile break through. He closed the door behind him and turned on the shower, and you bit your lip to keep from laughing out loud while you waited for his disgruntled shouts.
But they didn’t come.
Disappointment filled you as you listened to the sounds of water splashing off of his skin. Had it not worked the way it was supposed to? Did Loki not notice?
He smelled vaguely like salty broth all day. It was disgusting. You saw the way the others exchanged looks when he joined you at breakfast, and you had to fight down a gag when he leaned in for another quick kiss. He just smirked at you. Natasha met your eyes with a questioning gaze before addressing the issue as delicately as she could: “Why the hell do you smell like that?”
But Loki just went on sipping his tea. “I think it’s my love’s new soap,” he replied, perfectly placid there even as his eyes sparkled at you from above the rim of his mug. “I thought it was a bit unorthodox, but...if you like it, darling, I like it.”
The jig was up. He knew exactly what you’d been going for, and now he was making you deal with the fallout. You lasted through most of the day, until he started to climb into bed beside you, at which point you had to come clean and beg him to take another shower, lest he get that smell all over your clean sheets.
If you didn’t know him as well as you did, you might have expected things to end there. You’d tried to prank him, sure, but he’d turned it around on you and made you confess, and then beg him to fix what you’d messed up. But you’d been with him more than long enough to know that he surely had more in store for you. At first, you felt a little like you were walking on eggshells around him. He remained the very picture of a devoted partner, holding you so sweetly and kissing you as often as ever, and barely even seeming to notice when you went just a little too twitchy around him.
But at one of Thor’s movie nights, the metaphorical other shoe dropped. He’d disappeared into the kitchen to refill the various popcorn bowls that had been scattered around the room. You didn’t really pay any attention to him when he came back and redistributed all the goodies, nor when he handed you a tall glass of ice water. Instead, you murmured your quiet thanks to him with your eyes glued to the screen, entirely too wrapped up in the movie.
Things went on as normal for a while after that. You went on munching on popcorn and—even better—brushing your fingers against Loki’s when you both reached for a new handful at the same time. But, after a while, you lifted your glass of water to take another sip, and something finally caught your attention. A spider—big and brown and hairy, and floating merrily at the very top of your water. You all but flung your glass across the room with a guttural groan, attracting the attention of everyone else in the room.
Loki was laughing, not even bothering to hide his glee behind his hands. Tony reached over to turn on one of the lamps near his seat and gave you an appropriately-bewildered look.
“It’s—uh… A spider. In my water. It startled me.” Face burning, you slipped off of the sofa to run and get a rag to clean up your water. When you returned to the mess, Thor was in the middle of scolding Loki, who appeared not even the least bit chastised.
There was a big rubber spider in the middle of the water and the broken glass. After making entirely sure that it was really only rubber, you picked it up and chucked it at the god of mischief. He caught it easily, and placed it on his shoulder as you finished cleaning up.
The days went on. The two of you fell into a veritable prank war, except...things were a little uneven. He was known to early humans as the god of mischief, after all, and you weren’t typically the kind of person who came up with or executed pranks successfully. Sometimes you did manage to catch him off guard and startle him, especially once you started enlisting Wanda’s help with the planning portion of your pranks, but, in all, he was typically far more successful. The only thing that helped you keep it together even as he grinned and crowed at you was the way he sounded when he was laughing. It was never a cruel sort of laugh, not once in all the times that he tricked you. Instead, he always sounded genuinely happy, genuinely pleased, and that sound was enough to keep you coming back to him. He was enjoying himself, and the others looked on indulgently as you allowed yourself to melt into his arms every single time.
Halloween crept closer and closer. Loki wasn’t really one for costumes—he’d made that clear in the years past—but when you mentioned going shopping with Wanda to find a costume for yourself, he insisted on coming along with the two of you. She teased him about couples’ costumes and you did your best not to get your hopes up. After quite some time, and visiting entirely too many shops in search of something that wasn’t too terribly skimpy, you did find something you liked, and hopped into the line to pay for your purchase. Loki joined you, holding something behind his back.
“Whatcha got there?” you asked, trying to peer around him to see what he’d chosen, but he kept it out of your sight easily and then distracted you with a kiss.
“That is for me to know, my darling, and for you to discover later. I believe it’s your turn to check out. Don’t hold up the line.”
You paid for your costume and then tried to lurk nearby to see what Loki was buying, but Wanda was quick to usher you out of the store before you got the chance. Though the question gnawed at you for some time, you knew better than to try to force Loki to share anything with you before he was ready. Your very relationship was built on patience and trust, and so you simply had to accept that this was a secret he wanted to keep from you for a little while longer.
One evening, you made caramel apples. Or...you appeared to, anyway. In truth, you’d peeled a nice little batch of onions and dipped them into the caramel instead. Loki’s sweet tooth was legendary, and you knew there was no way on Earth that he’d be able to resist a treat like this. You dipped some of the onions in nuts, some in chocolate chips, and left some relatively plain, covered only in that sweet, glossy caramel sauce. Loki was sure to come down for supper soon, and perhaps you could warn him not to take an apple early and spoil his appetite, thereby all but guaranteeing that he’d fall right into your trap.
But it was not Loki who came in through the kitchen door. It was Wanda. She exclaimed about how wonderful it smelled down here—warm caramel and chocolate and nuts were, indeed, a heady aroma and did a lot to cover the faint smell of onions.She greeted you with a sly smile and reached for an apple before you could warn her not to do it. In an instant, she’d sunk her teeth deep into one of the biggest and juiciest onions. Another instant later, she was spitting into the sink and glaring at you.
Loki came down not too long after that, and it didn’t take more than a few seconds for him to take in the sight before him and realize what you’d been trying to do. The smirk he gave you made you roll your eyes.
By the time Tony’s Halloween partyrolled around, you had largely forgotten about Loki’s secret purchase. You spent the evening getting into your costume and making your hair and makeup look perfect—or as close to it as you could manage, with your own, rather limited, skills—and by the time Wanda knocked on your bedroom door to escort you down to the party, you were simply ready to have a good time with your friends. You wanted to stop by Loki’s room on your way down, because he typically spent these sorts of party-nights locked away with a book and some snacks, but Wanda insisted that the two of you were running late enough as it was. A little begrudgingly, you allowed her to lead you down to the ballroom.
It was wonderful. The lights were dim, and the light from the faux torches on the walls flickered wildly and cast strange shadows throughout the room. The decorations he’d gone with were rather more high-brow than the ones you were used to—there were no plastic spiders or crepe-paper streamers to be found anywhere—but it was nice all the same. Elegant. Classy. You checked the drink that Wanda got you to make sure there were no spiders inside it and then took a long drink of the cool, refreshing beverage.
You danced. You danced quite a lot, actually: by yourself and with your teammates all throughout the night. Everyone looked amazing, and they all made an appropriate amount of fuss over your costume, as well. It was a good night, even though you couldn’t really shake the mental image of Loki being, once again, all alone in his own room.
Once, as you made your way off of the dance floor to get a drink from the bar, you passed someone in a costume that made you smile. It was overly-large and rather silly: a scarecrow stuffed with straw, with a large mask like a burlap sack on their face, painted with a big, cartoonish smile. That had to be itchy, right? Straw stuck out around the person’s sleeves and ankles, and just the thought of that made you rub your wrists as you stood there waiting for your drink.
Someone crept up behind you and rested their hands on your hips. You flinched away immediately, and something in the back of your mind recognized the feeling of straw through your dress. You turned around and pushed, hard, against the scarecrow’s chest, fixing him with as fierce a glare as you could manage. “Excuse me,” you said in a level voice that nonetheless burned with anger. You were not here to be manhandled or groped. Whoever that person was, you’d fight them, if you had to.
But then there was a familiar laugh. Loki’s laugh. Of course you couldn’t see his face beneath the mask, but the smile in the sound was unmistakable. You pushed him a little harder. “Don’t you recognize me, darling?”
“What were you thinking? I was ready to knock you out!” He went on laughing as he reached over your shoulder to gesture at the bartender for another drink, and then he caressed your cheek with his gloved hand. The straw made you itch a little, but you didn’t pull away.
“My little hellcat,” he said appreciatively. And he’d better appreciate that, you thought to yourself. He’d spent so much time training you in the gym that he damn well should have expected to get absolutely clobbered, putting his hands on you like that. “But I thought for sure you’d recognized me.”
“It’s dark in here. And I can’t see your face.” If you sounded a little too defensive, well...wasn’t that hisfault?
He nodded gracefully and stooped down a little, gesturing towards his mask. “You’re right. My apologies. Here, would you take this off for me? I’d do it, but...” He held up his hands, helplessly. Maybe between the gloves and the straw, it was hard for him to do things. Unsuspecting, you reached up to tug the burlap off of his face. It came off easily, revealing a nightmare beneath the mask.
It was Loki alright, but his face was gruesome: puffy and bloodied, with gaping wounds at his temples and blood dripping from the corner of his mouth. A scream rose into your throat, and your attempts to muffle it really only made it sound all the more primaland horrified. You tried to take a step away from him, but you were pinned against the bar, completely unable to move. Had there been a mission you’d forgotten about? Had he gotten into a fight with one of the Avengers? Your stomach churned as you took in the sight of him. You wanted nothing more than to look away, but you couldn’t.
“What happened?” It was hard to speak for the lump in your throat. For that matter, it was hard to breathe. Why was he hereinstead of being looked after in the Med Bay? Could you convince him to leave this place right now and go get looked at? He wasn’t answering you, which only made your heart beat more fiercely in your chest. You started to reach to touch his wounds, but then jerked your hand away, in case you only made them worse. “Loki. What happened to you?”
He was laughing. Again. This lunatic was laughing. At you? At himself? At his injuries? Your mind was racing, but all you could do was press your hands against his chest in hopes of re-establishing some kind of distance between you. He laughed like he was suffocating, like he couldn’t get any oxygen between gasps and groans, and it made you sick.
And then he reached up to stick his fingers in one of his wounds and—pull it off of his face?
Everything clicked into place for you, then. It was prosthetic putty and fake blood arranged into entirely-too-convincing wounds on your partner’s skin there. When you tried to push past him to get back onto the dance floor—or anywhere, really, just as far away from him as you could get—he gripped your wrist and pulled you close even as he continued to pull the gore off of his face.
“I’m—so sorry—” he choked out, but he didn’t sound overly apologetic. He piled the putty onto the bar behind you, surely earning himself some dirty looks from the other party-goers. “I mean it, darling. It was Wanda’s idea. She pointed all this out to me at the shop a few weeks ago. She’s the one who did all this for me. I didn’t mean to frighten you so badly.”
“Who was frightened?” You did your best to lift your nose into the air as though nonplussed, even though you knew he could probably still hear your frantic heartbeat. “I don’t care. Maybe you looked better like that. I don’t care.”
He gave another soft laugh and pulled you into his embrace, burying his mercifully-unbloodied face against your throat. “You’d be more convincing if your voice wasn’t still trembling, dearest heart. Truly, forgive me. Shall we call a truce? No more of this nonsense?”
You were tired of the pranks—and not justbecause you always failed so miserably at them. It was exhausting, feeling like you always had to be on guard for your love’snext attempt to scare you. A large part of you missed being able to just enjoy your time with him, to enjoy the warmth of his embrace. Although it chafed your pride, you felt yourself nodding even as you tightened your arms around him.
“Fine. Truce,” you whispered, and breathed in the scent of his hair. He hummed appreciatively against your throat and held you even more tightly. You swallowed hard. “And to think I spent all that money on that other costume for you...”
He lifted his head at that, and gave you a skeptical look. “You bought me a costume?” Oh, he was falling right into your trap.
Holding back a grin, you shook your head. “Not for you to wear, no. I was going to wear it to your room after this party was over and I came to check in on you. I had no idea you were already here enjoying yourself—I thought you were all miserable and alone up there by yourself, so I wanted to do something to cheer you up. I think I might be able to return it, though. It’s kind of...racy, but I really only tried it on. I bet they’ll take it back.”
“A racy costume?” he echoed, tilting his head at you as though trying to figure out whether you were telling the truth. “You bought a racy costume to wear to cheer me up?”
You nodded. “Yeah, but it’s okay. I’m glad you’re having fun down here. Do you want to dance?”
“Sod the dancing,” he said in a low voice, rich with hunger. “I want to see you in that costume. Let’s go.”
His grip on your wrist tightened a bit, but only just. You could still easily break out of his grasp if you truly wanted to. But you didn’t want to. You let him lead you out of the ballroom and into the elevators.
And then you let him make it up to you for making you miss the rest of the party.
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