Shop More Submit  Join Login
About Varied / Hobbyist Premium Member Raven Ehtar28/Other/United States Recent Activity
Deviant for 5 Years
13 Month Premium Membership
Statistics 307 Deviations 3,428 Comments 14,330 Pageviews

Newest Deviations

Favourites

So, I don't favorite that often, but sometimes I go off on a fav'ing spree.

Webcam

Groups

:iconthedesertgodsefl: :iconlegend-fanclub: :iconbeyond-birthday-fans: :iconyugioh-yaoi-yuri: :iconyu-gi-ohultimate: :iconjareths-labyrinth: :icondeathnotefan: :icontendershipping-fans: :iconthe-labyrinth-club: :iconpsychoryoulovers: :iconpeople-of-death-note: :iconyami-and-hikari-club: :icondn-ygo-galaxy: :iconsarekandamanda: :iconyu-gay-oh-club:

Visitors

Activity


Captain Steve Rogers, decorated war veteran and member of two separate ‘superhero’ teams, was at something of a loss with the situation he now found himself faced with. He had gone to comfort fellows and comrades at arms who were struck down before – and usually in a much more literal sense of the phrase than when someone had a cold. At the moment, though, none of his past experience was helping in the least. And he and Thor hadn’t even gotten through the door yet.

“Well,” he said, careful to keep his tone as steady and nonthreatening as possible. “Have you ever had to deal with anything like this, Thor?”

He shook his head. Steve felt a little bad for him. If anything, he looked even more confused than Steve felt, and a little hurt. “I have not, Captain. While I have heard of this sort of behavior from my nephew, he has never before bared fang to me.”

For some reason that surprised Steve, but he couldn’t think why. In the three years since Loki and the triplets had become regular features among the Avengers he had never seen more than the usual spats of childish temper out of Fenrir. Well, normal and translated through the very un-normal circumstances of sometimes being a wolf cub.

A wolf cub that was, yes, baring a set of very white, very sharp teeth at them, lips wrinkled back, ears flat against his skull, eyes glaring menace. He had planted himself in front of the closed door to Tony and Loki’s bedroom suite, evidencing no intention to either move or allow the two visitors to pass through. Fenrir was only a cub, it was true, and possessed all the strung out lankiness of a partly grown puppy, but he was still a fair sight larger than a full grown German Shepard. Cub or not, Steve had no desire to wrestle with anything so large that looked so ready to use those fangs.

Besides which, this was Fenrir, and he was fond of the boy and his siblings, even if they never had completely taken to him.

Steve shifted slightly and the low, constant growl coming from Fenrir immediately increased in volume, yellow eyes fixing on him, legs going stiff. Steve went utterly still, the warning clear even if the reason for it was not. He didn’t think he had ever really noticed how wicked the cub’s black nails looked before, a compliment to the white fangs.

Deliberately keeping his tone light and bantering, he risked another question. “Did any of those folks happen to mention, maybe, how to deal with this kind of behavior when it sprung up?”

Thor snorted. “Nothing I would care to repeat,” he said blandly.

He wouldn’t risk breaking the stare down he had going with Fenrir to glance in Thor’s direction, but he didn’t really need to. He knew what kind of expression the Asgardian wore. It would be the same one he wore whenever a certain period of his niece and nephews’ past was referred to – closed, faintly ironic. It was best to avoid those lines of conversation, so Steve let it drop. Instead he turned his attention to getting past a bristling ball of fur without encountering any teeth along the way.

Slowly, Steve squatted down in front of Fenrir until he was eye to eye. They boy-cub’s growls never ceased, but Steve was somewhat reassured that they had quieted some, were not resurging in response to his change in position. What was less reassuring was the knowledge that Fenrir would recognize that Steve was actually less of a threat and less able to defend himself from that position.

“Hey there, Fen,” he said softly. “How’s about letting us in to see Tony, eh?”

The lips wrinkled back even further, until pink gums were revealed.

“We know Tony’s not feeling well,” he persisted. “That’s why we’re here. We wanted to check on him.”

The glaring eyes did not become one bit less belligerent in face of Steve’s reassurances. Nor did they change at all when the rest of the cub did, his body seeming to jump, flicker and remain still all at once as he shifted back to a human shape. The golden glare was just the same on the rumpled boy as it had been on the irate wolf.

“Iron-daddy is sick,” Fenrir informed them, sounding just as ready for a fight when not snarling. “And dad is already inside taking care of him.”

“How ill is friend Tony, nephew?” Steve noticed that Thor was also keeping his words purposefully gentle.

The kid’s glower softened a touch, and he shrugged. “He slept a long time, and he doesn’t want to get up anymore. Dad is checking if his fever is worse.”

Thor cast Steve a worried glance. The worry of both he and Fenrir was understandable, Steve supposed. Tony was important to them both for different reasons, and in the last three years he couldn’t recall anyone within close contact of the aliens getting anything worse than a bout of allergies. They must have seen some of the diseases humans were prone to; television, the internet and sporadic contact with the general population would provide that opportunity, but nothing close at hand had ever arisen.

The lack of experience wasn’t too surprising, now Steve came to think about it. The super soldier serum kept him more or less immune to anything not specifically engineered to attack his system, gamma radiation seemed to do much the same for Dr. Banner, and he was beginning to suspect Natasha had something a little extra in her system as well, because he’d never seen her so much as sneeze. The most vulnerable members of their group were Clint – who did have his own apartment building he went back to from time to time – and Tony.

It was delayed, but the time to witness human frailty up close and personal had finally come for the little family.

He nodded his understanding and stood again, making Fen crane his neck to look up in his face. “Alright, well, that’s what we’re here for, Fen. We’ll go in and see if there’s anything we can do, anything we can get for them.”

Fenrir straightened up, glare snapping back into place. When Steve went to take a step towards the door the boy got in his way, barring the door. “No, you won’t,” he said.

Steve came up short. Thor tilted his head at his nephew. “Why not, Fenrir? You know we would not cause Tony any sort of harm. Why do you bar our way?”

“Because father told me to,” the boy said, raising his chin.

“He told you to keep us from coming in to see him?” Steve was incredulous.

“Not just you. He said to keep out anyone who did not have business coming in. They would just be bothersome and get in the way. You want to know how he is, I told you. You want to help, father is already doing that. If there wasn’t anything else you wanted or can do, you can’t come in.”

Steve stared, but Thor laughed. “And they could hardly want for a better guardian! Very well, then, young warrior, what errand would grant us access to the sickroom?”

“An official visit,” was the prompt reply.

“An ‘official’ visit?” Steve demanded, patience growing thin. “We’re here to visit already, what could possibly make it ‘official’?”

Again, the reply was prompt. “A gift.”

“What?”

Fenrir was calm in the face of Steve’s scandalized tone. “We’ve been studying,” he said. “And one of the things Hela found was a human custom of bringing a present to the one who is sick when paying a visit. It’s supposed to be something to make them feel better and to apologize for disturbing them.”

Thor was smiling when he looked over at Steve. “A very considerate custom. Think you we can find gifts suitable for such a thing?”

Steve nodded, privately happy that the gifts were meant for Tony, and Fenrir hadn’t found a crude way of taking advantage of the situation. “Yeah, I think so. Though if this is what we can expect every time we come up, I think Tony will be getting fewer visits than he would normally.”

Leaving a satisfied Fenrir still standing guard over the door, Steve led Thor back down the stairs to hunt up gifts to make their visit ‘official.’





“So what’s the verdict, nurse?”

Loki squinted narrowly at the glass held pinched between his fingers. Tony had seen him concentrate on small things before, those times when he had caught him working on some meticulous bit of unknowable hocus-pocus, but there was something oddly charming about his eyes going crossed when trying to read the mercury level of a thermometer. It was one of the most domestic things he had ever seen Loki do, and he’d seen the man prepare lunch for three kids.

Maybe it was just the fever affecting his brain.

“It would appear that your temperature has neither risen nor fallen,” Loki said, setting the little instrument back on the side table.

“So still 102?”

“If I’m interpreting that archaic device correctly,” he said with a wave at the offending item.

Tony smiled. It was funny sometimes how they came to have the same opinions on certain points. Tony tended to think of a vast number of man’s everyday advancements as outmoded and fit to be replaced – the thermometer was a good example. Loki thought much the same, but while in Tony’s case it was because he had so many much better advancements he was designing himself, for Loki it stemmed from coming from a society that had long surpassed anything mankind had come up with. It was a personal challenge Tony set himself to impress Loki as much and as often as possible with his creations. It wasn’t easy.

He shifted into something closer to a sitting position. “Alright then, what’s the plan? Do you intend on keeping me confined to bed all day?”

“Several, in fact, with only brief intervals allowed for the lavatory.”

“Promises, promises,” Tony said, essaying one of his most suggestive grins. “Suddenly I’m appreciating this ‘nurse’ thing you have going on a lot more than before.”

Loki blinked slowly at him. “There will be none of that.”

“Fine, ‘doctor’ will work just as well. We just need to get you a long white coat – Bruce probably has some spares – and a stethoscope, and we should be—“

“I mean no strenuous activity until you’re well again, Stark. From what I understand that can take from several days to more than a week. Until I am satisfied that your rising won’t cause you to worsen or relapse, you will remain here.”

“…so you’re saying the doctor thing is still a possibility later on?”

“Stark, focus.”

“Oh, I am focused. You have no idea how focused this idea has made me.”

Loki sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Tony was a little proud of himself that even sick he could still annoy enough to cause a physical reaction. Childish, yes, but should that make it any less a valid form of entertainment?

He relented in his torment a little. “I hope you’re planning on letting me have some of the less carnal forms of entertainment, because if I’m going to be stuck here with absolutely nothing to do for a week I really will go mad.”

That earned him a look. “And woe to the race that would witness your insanity, if this is what you are like sane.” He leaned down and reached for something out of Tony’s line of sight, on the floor. “But I am aware of your more prosaic needs. I don’t think a certain amount of mental exercise will do you much harm.”

He brought up a small stack and set it down on the bed between them. It included one of Tony’s laptops, two tablets, a book and two physical file folders stuffed full.

Tony felt his face brighten at the sight and sifted through the pile eagerly. “Oh, honey, you really do know me!”

Loki scoffed. “Yes, well, as you say, you’ll go mad without something to do. And if I were not the one to provide these, then you would find a way to recruit that infernal house system of yours to do so, or the children.”

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask,” he said, still flipping through the files. “Where are the scamps? Did the team take them out or something?”

“Oh, no. They have been most helpful in researching human disease and remedies.” He smiled. It was the kind of smile that Tony had learned to view with automatic suspicion.

“Uh-huh. And just what is it they are doing that’s so helpful?”

The mischievous sparkle in Loki’s eye did very little to reassure him. “Only what is appropriate and fitting to their natures. Jörmungandr is learning all he can get out of Dr. Banner on the specifics of the human immune system, Hela is experimenting with the preparation of remedies, and Fenrir is guarding the bedroom door.”

“Could be worse, I guess.” He paused, giving the description some thought. “Wait, what do you mean he’s guarding the door? Guarding it from what?”

“Unnecessary intrusions into the sickroom,” Loki responded coolly, and then stood, brushing off imaginary lint from his pants. “And speaking of the children, I should go and check on them, now that you have been dealt with.” He made towards the door, long legs making the distance short.

“’Dealt with’?”

“If you need anything I’m sure you’ll find a way to make the entire house aware of the fact.” He tossed this last over his shoulder. As the door opened Tony caught a glimpse of Fen, who peeked in curiously but made no move to come in. Tony supposed that meant what Loki said was true, though he suspected that the boy was out there as much to keep him in as anyone else out.

The door clicked shut behind Loki’s back, cutting off the view of the boy and all of his ineffectual protests. Tony fell silent, staring at the door. He wondered if he should chase after Loki just to be difficult, if he should be doing something to reign in the enthusiasm of Loki and the kids, or if he should take advantage of his condition to absolve himself of any and all responsibility for now.

It didn’t take long to choose, and as his computer began to boot up he cracked open one of the bottles of orange juice left for him.





“Are you sure that you got the right idea for giving gifts to someone who is sick, Thor?” Steve asked, casting a sideways glance at the thing Thor intended to offer Tony, clasped firmly in both of the prince’s hands. It had to be gripped firmly, because even for the ox of an Asgardian it was large and unwieldy, though Steve didn’t doubt that he could wield it if and when the occasion called for it.

Proving his unvoiced summation, Thor flipped the hilt over in his hands, bringing the gleaming metal of the scimitar up to his eye for examination. A faint line appeared between his brows. “Do you think the style is not to his taste?”

“Well, no, it’s not that,” Steve deliberated. “It’s just that weaponry isn’t what one usually thinks of when it comes to gifts for folks who are laid up.”

The look of concern immediately lightened. “But Stark is a warrior,” he said cheerfully, setting the blade that was almost as long as he was tall on one shoulder. “And warriors will always appreciate a well-crafted weapon, even when ill; sometimes even more so when they are unwell. It gives them reason to recover, to wield and master it.”

Steve eyed the blade again. “I’d like to see him master that. It’s taller than he is.”

Thor grinned wide. “Yes, that is why I chose this one.”

They laughed, and made their way up the stairs for the second time that day. It hadn’t taken long for them to each find a potential offering once they had separated, and had met up again out of coincidence rather than design. As they mounted the stairs, it was Thor’s turn to look at what Steve held in his hands.

“And your gift, Captain? Is that another Midgardian custom to give… foliage?”

Steve glanced down and gave what he held a disparaging look. When he had set out in search of something that could work as a gift for Tony he hadn’t given it too much thought. Finding something to serve as a kind of permit to get past the miniature guard at his door should have been simplicity itself. But then, nothing he could think of and readily get his hands on seemed right. It was just a small token gift, but it was still for Tony. What could he give that the billionaire didn’t already have, or could get with a word?

So he had given up on finding anything even remotely clever or thoughtful, gone outside to the Mansion’s gardens and picked a large bouquet of flowers.

He glared at the effeminate bundle – he really hoped there would be no mixed messages derived from this – as though it were there specifically to embarrass the hell out of him. “It is kind of a standard thing, yes,” he said with as much dignity as possible.

“It is just that I’ve never known Stark to be overly fond of flowers, nor for those particular breeds to be good for Midgard disease.”

“No, I suppose not.” He doubted even the most determined of herbalists could look at his handful of daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops and see a cure for as much as a sliver. He shrugged. “But this is mostly to placate your nephew, not Tony. I doubt he’ll care much one way or the other what I bring. But I’m sure he’ll love yours,” he added swiftly.

Feeling ridiculous holding his bouquet – still in his field uniform – and following a man carrying a sword fit for taking down horses, they mounted the rest of the stairs and turned towards the master suite.

Fenrir was still at his post, and had elected to remain in human shape. He sat in the shallow corner created by the wide doorway, eyes fixed on a small device in his hands, his whole slight frame curled around it in concentration. Even from a distance Steve could recognize it as a handheld gaming system, and from the sounds emitting from it, he surmised that the boy was playing a fighting game of some sort. It was the kind that Fen tended to favor.

The illusion that the game completely held Fenrir’s attention lasted only an instant. As soon as they cleared the bend in the hall to bring them in sight of the door, his head snapped up, and it was as though his stare from earlier had never left them. His game was forgotten, and with a crescendo of pixelated noise whatever hero he had been controlling fell in battle. He watched their approach, standing to his feet. Steve was happier than he cared to admit that there were no snarls or growls to greet them this time.

When they were near enough, he set about examining the gifts they brought, starting with Thor’s. There was no way the boy could have held it himself, even if he was much stronger than a boy his size had a right to be. Instead, Thor held it out for him, low so it was at eye level, its length parallel to the floor. Fen looked it over minutely from hilt to point, as though searching for some flaw in the craftsmanship to disqualify it, his tiny nostrils flaring regularly. It was a habit of his, even when human shaped, to sniff and smell everything he came into contact with.  

Apparently Fen liked what he saw, and his nose gave no argument. He grinned brightly up at his uncle, a much friendlier showing of his teeth. “It’s great, uncle, he’ll love it!”

The grin was reflected in the brawny Asgardian and he stood aside to let the boy repeat his examination with Steve.

Ridiculously, Steve felt the embarrassment in him surge when he came under the shrewd golden gaze of an eleven year old boy. Staring at the bright white and yellow bundle in his hands, Fenrir tilted his head as though he couldn’t comprehend what it was. When he raised his eyes up to Steve’s face it was with a look of pitying incredulity.

The warm flush on his face only increased, feeding on itself, embarrassed that he was embarrassed as he presented the flowers for inspection.

It seemed to Steve that he made a great show of looking over the flowers, checking each one as though he had never seen blooms before in his life. His snuffling became more pronounced than it had when checking the scimitar, snorting several times to clear his nose, and in the end the boy sneezed to the side.

Fenrir shook his head at Steve. “No good. They’re pretty, but he’s having trouble breathing already.”

The warmth in Steve’s cheeks spread to his ears. “Yes, but that’s because he’s sick,” he protested. “I don’t think pollen will make it any worse.”

Fen’s eyes glinted warningly at him. “How can you know for sure, huh? How do you know it won’t make him worse? If it does, then you coming to visit will only be to the bad. No,” he said, crossing his arms. “You have to find something else.”

“Wha—you have got to be joking! According to your own rules all I needed to bring was a gift to be considered an ‘official’ visitor. I brought a present. I’m official. Now let me in.”

But the boy wouldn’t budge under the logic. “No. You brought a present, but it’s not a good present. It’s like not bringing one at all. You can’t come in.”

“Fenrir.” Steve tried for a warning tone of voice. As with the very few times he had tried it before, it had zero effect.

Thor, still watching the exchange with what Steve was wont to consider poorly disguised amusement, tried to step in on his comrade’s behalf. “Nephew, Captain Rogers has made an effort, and Stark will no doubt appreciate that effort – and his company – even if the results of his efforts are a little…” he hesitated, eyeing the bouquet. “Peculiar.”

The boy looked up at him, his stern expression hardly softening. “Would you have me fail at my post, uncle? This is my first time to officially protect someone, and I can’t make exceptions or it will all come apart, and I’ll never be trusted with another.” He shook his head, coming back to Steve. “No. Try again.”

At the final refusal Thor looked helplessly at Steve, apologetic smile spreading awkwardly over his face, shoulders shrugging almost imperceptibly. If he were worried that Steve’s temper would sour even further, then he worried needlessly. Steve did feel the prickling of annoyance, but it was dampened by Fenrir’s line of reasoning.

Steve nodded with only a trace of ill grace. “Alright, then. I’ll hunt up something better.” He looked down at the flowers. “And put these in water somewhere,” he added.

“Would you care for company, Captain?” Thor offered as he turned to leave.

“No thanks,” he called back over his shoulder. “You go ahead and see Tony, I’ll get there eventually.”

Traipsing back down the stairs, Steve wondered what he could find that would work for Tony as a gift and at the same time satisfy the tiny sentry at his door.





“Hey there, big guy!” Tony greeted, and internally winced when he realized how nasal he sounded even compared to when speaking to Loki, not an hour ago. He did his best to ignore it and to open his throat so it would be less obvious, and nodded Thor’s way. “What’s with the cutlery?”

The big Asgardian, outfitted in what he probably considered relaxed clothing and what Tony thought of as light battle gear, grinned and hefted the huge, glinting scimitar. “Tis for you, my friend,” he boomed cheerfully. With one hand he held up the weapon for him to see, and apparently without much effort, set it to a few lazy spins, the edge flashing lethally as it clove through the air.

“Very impressive,” was Tony’s honest assessment. “But why give it to me, what’s the occasion?”

Thor slowed his acrobatic display of the weapon, resting the point at his feet. Tony wondered how much damage was being done to his floor. “It was my understanding it was a Midgardian custom to bring offerings when coming to see the sick and injured. We have learned of your illness, and so I bring a gift.” A somewhat mischievous grin spread over his face. “That is certainly what Fenrir believes as well. He is guarding the door to ensure no paltry gifts make it to you. Only the best will do.”

After a moment Tony grinned as well. “Oh, that’s it, eh? Well, yes, there is that custom, but it’s more of a courtesy than a rule.”

“Ah. Perhaps I should tell Fenrir of this. He’s following the custom most scrupulously. He even turned Captain Rogers and I away to find gifts before he would let us in.”

Tony chuckled. “Really? Well, can’t fault the kid for shirking his duties. Loki said he’d been stationed out there as a kind of filtering system.” He paused, looking pointedly around. “Which is a point: where is Rogers? Did the skinflint decide to forgo a visit if there was a cover charge?”

If anything, Thor’s smile widened. “No, my friend. The Captain was turned away for a second time for failing to bring a satisfactory gift.”

Tony stared, searching for some sign the bigger man was joking, but he only continued to grin contentedly. “No way,” he finally got out, forgetting to correct his voice and coming out a bit frog-like. “Rogers got bounced?”

Thor nodded confirmation. “He’s seeking something that will grant him access even now.”

“Well,” Tony said with mock seriousness. “Maybe we shouldn’t tell Fenrir yet that the custom is flexible. Wouldn’t want to spoil his fun with the good super soldier, would we?”

The two of them laughed, and Tony felt a little better. Sitting up, even if it was just to cruise around is miscellaneous files on his computer and stare dumbly at them, had done a lot to shake off the feeling of impending death he’d had on waking. But sharing a good laugh helped, too. It was nice to have this, this feeling of camaraderie. It had taken time to achieve it, to exit his shell enough to interact with people on more than a superficial, sarcastic level, and even now it was sometimes exhausting to do so, but he had gotten there. Even with Thor he could now honestly share a laugh – true, at the slight expense of another teammate, but that was alright. No point in trying to be saintly about anything.

“It’s a thing of beauty,” Tony said about his odd gift. “I look forward to injuring myself many times in effort to handle it.”

Thor looked pleased, and moved to set the weapon against a wall, out of the way but still plainly in sight.

“And how are you feeling, my friend?” he asked on returning. “From how Clint was describing your illness I thought it no trifling thing, but you appear to not be much weakened.”

Tony’s smile took on a sardonic twist. “Comes from sitting down, big guy. Hardly anyone looks as bad as they feel when they sit.” He shook his head. “But no, it’s not too bad. Fever,” he pointed at his own nose, “congestion, obviously, aches and pains, the works for this kind of thing. Minus one or two of the ickier symptoms,” he added with a rueful glance in the direction of the empty bucket, ready and waiting for him. So far no nausea, with luck he wouldn’t need the damned thing.

“I am glad,” Thor said earnestly. “I worried that this disease might take you from us for some weeks. Our strength would be greatly lessened without you.”

“I appreciate that. But the flu shouldn’t have me out of the game for very long. So long as nothing that threatens world safety crops up in the next week,” he knocked superstitiously on the headboard, “then I think we’ll be pretty safe.”

“That is how long you foresee this bout lasting, then?” Moving with excessive care, Thor lowered himself to perch on the edge of the bed near to Tony’s feet.

He shrugged. “It’s about how long flus last, unless there are complications. Which isn’t likely to happen,” he was quick to add when Thor’s expression clouded. “It’s the kind of thing that happens when you aren’t careful or there’s something else going on to make you more susceptible. I’m not particularly susceptible, and I think your brother is going to be fussing too much for the virus to dare sticking around.”

“This is true,” Thor said, and the fondness with which he spoke was palpable. “He is one to do a thing thoroughly, and I don’t doubt that when it comes to your health he will throw himself to task.”

“Even if it kills me,” Tony commented drily.

“If he believes that it will help you in the long run,” he agreed cheerfully.

The door opened. “What will I do it I think it will help?”

Tony and Thor both looked to the door. Loki stood in the threshold holding a small tray, a steaming bowl set in its center. Hela followed him into the room, looking in curiously at Tony’s visitor. Behind both of them Tony could just see Fenrir, in cub form, his nose up and sniffing at the air. Whatever it was he scented wasn’t enough to get him to abandon his post, though, and he was lost to sight as the door closed again.

“Kill me with kindness,” Tony provided. His sense of smell was nowhere near as keen as Fen’s, and was only getting worse as his sinuses slowly blocked up, but he could just make out some of the aroma being carried on the tendrils of steam rising from the bowl. It smelled good, a little spicy and meaty, like a stew. He couldn’t see what was in the bowl, but the scent was more than enough to remind him that he had yet to actually have breakfast, despite his earlier attempt, and it was already well into noon. Doing his best to hold back the drool, he nodded at the approaching tray. “What’s this?”

Hela, who had trotted forward ahead of her father to stand at the side of the bed, answered before Loki could get a word out. “It’s food to make you feel better. We did a lot of research to make it. It’s supposed to make you strong to fight the flu!”

Tony smiled at the girl. “And did you boss your dad around while you were making it?”

She nodded. This was a familiar game. “Yes!”

“Good girl.”

It was a familiar enough game that Loki gave no response. He was too busy giving Thor a very pointed look, making the brother vacate his perch rather awkwardly and shuffle out of the way. That done, he took a handful of Hela’s clothes and lifted her off of the ground as though she were a kitten. She squeaked with surprise.

“Indeed she did,” he said mildly, setting her down gently in the spot Thor had freed. She quickly crawled her way up the bed until she was sitting next to Tony, using the headboard as a back support. “She has been learning well from all the time she spends in that cataclysm you call a workshop.”

Tony raised a brow at his partner. “I hope you’re not suggesting, dearest, that I am the only one who gives an example of being bossy.”

“Certainly not,” Loki replied readily enough. Tony nodded, satisfied, until he continued with, “Captain Rogers does his fair share as well.”

Tony pulled a face at him and Hela giggled.

Any further quips were forestalled by Loki’s quickly plucking away the computer in Tony’s lap and replacing it with the tray, which had small unfolding legs to turn it into a short table that arched over his legs. The bowl and its tantalizing cloud of steam came directly under his nose, which had the pleasant side effect of clearing his sinuses a little.

It was a kind of stew, Tony decided when he got a good look at it, but lighter in color than the kinds he was used to. It looked more like chicken soup, to be honest, but the large pieces of meat were certainly not poultry, and no chicken soup he’d ever had included generous cubes of potato. Stew seemed the more likely possibility.

“Well, are you just going to sit and stare at it, or are you going to eat the food that we made for you?” Loki snapped.

Tony jumped, took up the spoon that was also on the tray – along with some buttered black bread and a napkin, he finally noticed – and sampled the soup-stew.

“If this is the kind of food I get when I’m sick,” he eventually managed, “I will forgo every flu shot from this point forward and go skipping through the rain.” He shoveled more of the liquid heaven into his mouth and swallowed.

Hela looked pleased. Thor laughed outright. “Never have I seen Tony so enthusiastic over his food before! Brother, you truly are a master magician!”

A look of mild annoyance battled the little smile that Thor’s words and Tony’s appreciative eating brought about.

Tony was thoroughly enjoying the soup-stew. He wouldn’t have thought Loki and Hela would have had the time to cook something like this. The potatoes fairly disintegrated in his mouth, and the meat – beef, he thought – had absorbed the spices and become tender in the broth. Maybe they had used magic in the making of it.

Whatever, it was good.

Thor was right when he said that he never saw Tony so enthusiastic over food. He doubted that anyone in the Mansion had ever seen him evidence more than a standard interest in his meals. He couldn’t cook much more than toast and scrambled egg himself, and viewed food as fuel rather than something to find enjoyment in. It was one of those avenues of pleasure that he had never been particularly drawn to, even during that long period of his life when pleasure and indulgence were all that drove him. He wasn’t sure what it was that made this bowl so different, but he hoped Loki would remember how to make it later.

“You like it, daddy?” Hela asked, grinning.

Tony only nodded, pausing long enough to pick up one of the triangles of black bread and dip it into the broth. The bitterness of the bread was a nice accompaniment.

Thor chuckled again at the sight. “Loki, if this meal truly is a balm for human illness, you must teach me how to prepare it. Jane has more than once succumbed to the sicknesses that pervade this Realm, and I should like to have some way of easing her recovery. Especially if she enjoys this dish so much as Tony does.”

Still happily devouring the soup – the bowl was already half empty – Tony snorted, unable to keep from drawing a likeness from Thor and Loki to a couple of owners discussing their exotic pets.

Loki shrugged. “It is a simple enough recipe, I doubt even you could do much to get it wrong. The chief thing is time to allow the ingredients to work and blend. I hurried that along a little in this case—“

Ah ha! thought Tony.

“—but otherwise it is very simple. Perhaps the most challenging aspect is breaking apart the bones.”

Tony froze, spoon poised midway between bowl and mouth.

“Bones?” Thor echoed the word that was bouncing around in Tony’s skull, looking for a way out. “There are bones in the soup?”

“No. The bones are broken apart and left to steep to make the marrow broth. It’s similar to tea, but with animal instead of vegetable parts.”

There seemed to be no way of blocking out the words he was hearing, but at the same time there was this kind of gruesome fascination to them. Marrow broth, huh? To give the soup more body, he couldn’t help but wonder?

He looked into the bowl, suddenly suspicious of the delicious little transparent drops of fat floating on the surface.

“It was fun,” Hela put in from Tony’s other side, not noticing that Tony’s frantic spooning had abruptly stalled out. “We got to use a whole piece of cow and take the meat off, and then use the bone!”

He had such a macabre family, Tony reflected distantly. It was a wonder he hadn’t forced a giant Halloween party on them yet.

Thor was casting a speculative look at Tony’s bowl. Fair dues, so was Tony. “That does not appear to be enough to account for even part of a cow,” he commented.

“There’s more in the kitchen,” Hela provided.

“For Stark,” Loki was quick to add. “We don’t know how long this illness will last, so there is plenty even should it go on a full week.”

With the new knowledge of what was in the soup warring with his taste buds, Tony wasn’t sure whether to be very glad or very uneasy at that news. He squinted at his spoon, decided he didn’t care enough about the ingredients to allow it to ruin his meal and gulped down the bone broth and a crumbling potato.

He looked at Thor and raised his empty spoon to emphasize his point. “If you do decide to make this for your lady, Thor, may I suggest you don’t tell her how it’s made before she tries it? Or perhaps ever?”

Thor looked puzzled, but Tony caught the little twitch of Loki’s lips. He’d known exactly what effect knowing what was in the soup-stew would have on him and had told them anyway, the bastard.

“Why do you say that?”

He waggled the spoon expressively. “Call it a quirk of human psychology. Just trust me on this; things will go a lot more smoothly if you just keep that little tidbit to yourself.”





“What do you mean I still can’t come in?”

The look that Fenrir was leveling on Steve, with arms folded and brows pulled low was becoming far too familiar to him.

It was also infuriating to know that despite appearances Fen could actually give him a fair turn of trouble if he tried to muscle his way through. He would probably still win, Steve could expect at least a slight advantage over Loki’s son for another couple of years, but he wouldn’t come away from any bouts without the bruises to prove it.

The only thing that made it bearable was that Fen wasn’t making a big issue out of it, wasn’t gloating in his ability to boss around an adult. He was just doing his job, the task he had been set to.

And he was sticking to that task with single-minded tenacity.

“I mean you can’t come in if you’re bringing that,” he said, indicating the new gift Steve had brought. “The last present just would have made him sneeze more. This will really make him worse. Are you trying to make him worse?”

“What? No, I—!” Steve floundered under the accusation thrown at him. He looked down at his newest offering. It caused him less embarrassment to be seen walking around with it than the flowers, but when he remembered his first attempt he couldn’t help but wonder if his subconscious was trying to tell him something.

Steve kicked that speculating part of his brain with a scowl. Yes, he thought savagely. It’s trying to tell you that you need to find a steady girl, that’s what.

Fenrir pointed at the mixed bag of chocolates held in Steve’s hand accusingly. “Those are full of sugar,” the boy growled. “And sugar makes the virus stronger, not the one fighting it. If he eats those, he’ll get sicker!”

Steve sighed quietly. He wasn’t even sure that Tony liked chocolate. He had just thought that a tasty treat would be good to break up the monotony of medicines and tea. A spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down, right?

He was rather proud of that little bit of popular culture. This age he’d woken up in seemed to communicate primarily through references, and it was taking him a long time to catch up on seventy years of the stuff.

“He doesn’t have to eat it right now. There’s no rule that says he has to use his gifts right away, only that they make him feel better. This will make him feel better when he can eat them!”

How an eleven year old boy managed to look so long suffering and superior, even when he still had to look up to look anyone in the eye Steve could never figure out. It must have been something he had gotten from his father. Lord knew Loki did it practically by default.

Actually, that was true of both fathers.

“It was plainly implied,” Fen drawled out, as though explaining to a simpleton – another habit of his fathers’. “What good is bringing something to a sick person to make them feel better if it won’t make them feel better right away? This one is even worse than the flowers,” he said, shaking his head. “Try again.”

He thought about arguing more, tried to imagine it out, and decided against it. There was no way Fen was going to relent, and he would be having a pointless fight with a child for the second time in one day.

He held the bag out to Fen. “Would you like them, then? They’re not the best chocolates, but…”

At the look being given him, Steve trailed away.

“Now I know you’re trying to kill us.”





Bruce had always gotten along fairly well with all of the kids. Since the first day they had arrived they had taken a shine to him for some reason, using him as a jungle gym when they wanted to play and as a warm place to snuggle whenever they began to tire – when neither of their parents could be found, at any rate.

For the most part Bruce accepted all this gracefully. He’d never had any dislike for children, but then neither had he any particular liking of them. He’d never had much opportunity to interact with them, and he and Betty had never gotten around to discussing children of their own save in the vaguest of senses before the lab accident happened.

But the triplets he came to hold dear. They had absolutely no fear of him, and that alone had been reason enough to scare Bruce. With three small children crawling all over him and no idea that anything, some pulled hair or too many loud voices, could set him off and having him go green and mean, he had been tempted more than once to discourage the kids from being around him. If the children were given the proper dose of fear of him and what he could do, then they would stay away and safe.

It had come as something of a shock to learn that all three knew about the Other Guy from the beginning and had still not been afraid. Paradoxically, that made Bruce feel more at ease around them, and their turns of roughhousing and lazy snuggles became even more common.

Still, it was a little strange to have one of them camped out in his lab. That was a habit that Tony and Clint were more accustomed to.

And yet here Jör was, contentedly perched on one of his tall stools, heels occasionally bumping a steel leg as he kicked his feet back and forth. He wouldn’t be able to do that much longer, Bruce observed. The boy was growing so rapidly as of late that soon his feet would reach the ground when he sat in one of those stools.

It was something Bruce had noticed some time ago. For the past year or so the triplets’ normal rate of growth had increased by a considerable margin, with occasional spurts that made it difficult to keep them in clothing that fit properly. What only made it more obvious was that the triplets were growing at different rates from each other. Hela and Fenrir were staying reasonably close in height, but Fen was already showing signs of where he was going to broaden out in a few years. When he changed to wolf form, he was larger than most adult wolves and was only getting bigger.

Jör, though. Jör was leaving both of his siblings in the dust, as a human or a serpent. He was a full head taller than either one of them, now, coming up a little higher than Bruce’s shoulder, and when in his snake form… Well, he couldn’t hide behind the appliances anymore, that was certain. Bruce suspected that he had some minor control over his size when he transformed, though.

It was a little sad that at the age of eleven it was already out of the question for Jör to roughhouse like he used to, and the time was fast approaching for Hela and Fen as well. It also seemed rather unfortunate that at a glance the one likely to draw the most attention was the one who wanted it least.

Maybe it was odd that Jör didn’t hole up in his lab more often.

Bruce wasn’t averse to having company, so long as said company didn’t get in his way, didn’t distract him with pointless conversation or attempt to watch everything he did over his shoulder. Jör fit that bill very well. After sidling his way through the door, he had asked Bruce for any information on the human immune system he could provide. After some basics, he had sat the boy down with a book and was answering any questions that came up as he read.

Bruce would have felt bad about the negligent method of teaching, except that Jör took to it so well. It was no children’s primer on anatomy and physiology he had handed the boy, and the questions he was coming up with were intelligent, showed he was absorbing most of the material. Further, Bruce rather suspected the Jör preferred to get most of his information from the printed word rather than from someone he would have to hold a conversation with.

As tall as he was, and already putting on the girth that Fen was showing the first signs of, Jör gave the unconscious impression of being a little on the slow side. The stereotype of ‘big and dumb’ worked against him, and was only helped along by his inclination for being quiet. In fact, he was one of the most intelligent kids Bruce had ever seen, once again outstripping his brother and possibly even his sister. He simply absorbed everything around him and held on to it; once it was in his head it wasn’t going to leave again.

Going about his work while still remaining aware of his guest, Bruce wondered what it was the boy expected to gain by the study of the human immune system as a whole. It seemed to him that anything he would want to know about colds and flus could be found in much simpler texts or with more pointed questions. Doubtlessly Hela had called up every available file and website on the subject, and there was what Bruce had told Loki directly. It looked to Bruce as though Jör were systematically trying to learn everything about the human body, how it worked, what could go wrong and how to fix it.

Perhaps he was, Bruce thought. Perhaps this sign of human frailty had caused him to worry over his adoptive father.

Oh, Tony had come home beaten and bruised plenty of times before. It was to be expected when you were an Avenger, and he had not been the only one to come home limping. Loki had also come from the field with blackened eyes, lacerations and broken bones. It was something the kids had come to regard as more or less normal. To see that one of their parents could be struck down by something they couldn’t even see, something that they and their birth father were impervious to, must be upsetting. Frightening, even.

The more he thought about it, the more reasonable it seemed. He wondered if Hela or Fen were doing the same as their brother, or if they were even aware of his activities. Bruce wondered if the boy had been set to this task or if he had sought it out himself.

He was working at one of the computers set to a feed from a microscope when the tall, clean-pated boy cleared his throat right behind him. Not surprisingly, he hadn’t heard the boy get up or approach, even though there was no sound in the lab other than the very soft hum of electronics.

Jör held out the book Bruce had given him a little more than an hour ago. “I’m done with this one. I need another, please.”

For a minute Bruce stared at the book. It was thick and heavy, and not exactly light on the terminology. But he knew that when Jör said he was done, he didn’t mean he was done reading because he didn’t want to read anymore. He was done because he had run out of book.

He wasn’t sure whether he should hope the boy chose to become a doctor or fear the possibility.
Loki's Brood 11.2, Flu
Previous Installment: Loki's Brood 11.1, Flu
Next Installment: Coming Soon(ish)!

Plot: Tony gets sick, his family takes care of him.

Author's Foreword: Well, here we are. It’s been a long time. Lots of life changes have happened and continue to happen, for myself and for our lovelies in the story. Oddly enough, this one provided a good backdrop to see some of those changes – and some character relationships. Honestly that was a surprise. The original outline was the synopsis, word for word: ‘Tony gets sick, his family takes care of him.’ Special thanks go out to those who suggested an installment where Tony is either sick or incapacitated, the idea latched on!

This marks more or less the center of the series. Sorry for the long wait, guys, hopefully the length makes up for that a bit.

We are not taking Thor 2 or Captain America: Winter Soldier into account.

(Bruce never noticed that one of his lab coats went missing a few days after Loki pronounced Tony well enough for physical activity.)

Also, this is the first time Nick Fury has actually shown up for the series. Yay!

And the good one: The Loki’s Brood ‘soundtrack’ is officially up and running on 8tracks! The link: Loki's Brood Soundtrack

Beta: SkyTurtle

Genre: Family, Humor

Pairing: Frostiron (Tony Stark / Loki Laufeyson)

POV: Various

Rating: T

Word Count: 35,765

Technophobia: Clint’s technophobia is a nod to Hella’s ‘Off the Record’. If you haven’t read it, do. She now goes by the name gaddamnhella on AO3.

Russian Flu Remedies: I know little to nothing about Russian cuisine or remedies other than what I was able to find through Google, so please take everything shown here in the spirit of parody.

Two Teams: In the little bits and pieces of research (coughreadingcomicbookscough) that I’ve been doing, I’ve found that Steve Rogers has been on more than one superhero team at a time. This may not be true for the cinematic continuity, but I thought it would be nice as a glancing reference.

Apartments: I’ve also been doing research (cough) on Hawkeye, and found that in a current comic series he owns his own apartment building, the result of many shenanigans and the catalyst for several more. (The series is ‘Hawkeye’ by Fraction, Aja and Pulido.)

Marrow Broth: It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Actually all animal stocks involve steeping bones with other ingredients, but Tony – genius that he is – isn’t all that sharp when it comes to how food is made. Enjoy your soups.

Chocolate: Don’t feed chocolate to dogs or related canines. It’s bad for them.

Time Lapse: We are now approximately four years out from the events of ‘Caregiver,’ and three since Tony and Loki officially hooked up.


Loki's Brood: After the trial in Asgard for his various crimes, Loki Laufeyson walks away estranged from his people and burdened with tasks to amend his past wrongs. In so doing he also walks away with his three children - Fenrir, Hela and Jörmungandr - taking them out of the hands of the Æsir. He entrusts them to Tony Stark, much to everyone's surprise, and what could have been a disaster turns out to work out remarkably well for everyone involved. At least most of the time.

The various adventures of Tony, Loki and his children (and the rest of the Avengers) as they learn to get along, trust each other and forge a family stronger than even blood could create.

Continuity Disclaimer: This is going to be a standard disclaimer attached to every fic I post that has to do with the Avengers, so everyone knows where I'm coming from in terms of characters and world canon.

For the most part, assume that I am coming from only the movies. Iron Man 1 - 3, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Avengers – and any sequels that come after these unless mentioned otherwise. I realize that I'm missing out on worlds of story and character development, but I would be starting from square one and 50+ years of backstory, (each individual character's series(es), the team series(es) and any/all crossovers or notable appearances), is more than a little daunting. So as much as I want to know everything about everything – trust me, this is really frustrating for me – I just can't. I'm picking my battles and this one is a 'nope.' So as a result my Avengers fics will not have 'comic book depth' to them. Sorry.

What will they have? The movies, of course, one or two short comic arcs that I've been convinced to pick up that will have little to no effect on the continuity, Norse mythology – since I do read that – and any details that I can pick up from other fans or that I research on my own. The result of all of this is usually going to be a sort of fusion that hopefully works and isn't too confounding for anyone.

Series Notes: Herein you will find the sometimes lighthearted, sometimes serious, sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking adventures of Tony, Loki and his many children, most notably Fenrir, Hela and Jörmungandr, and of course the extended family of the Avengers team. Sometimes the stories will transition smoothly from one to the next, sometimes there will be huge jumps. Sometimes they will be incredibly long, other times very short. I plan to write scenes that are widespread across the timeline, from the time the children are truly children all the way until they are fully grown. Occasionally I may put in parts that are sandwiched between stories that are already complete and posted, rearranging the continuity - but hopefully never breaking it.

Basically writing these out as a series instead of a very long, multi-chaptered fic is so I can write those parts that interest me without having to spend months fleshing every little piece out. You'll find places where I'm hinting at things we don't see directly, and may not mention again for some time. Most likely I will get back to it, though perhaps not. This, as well as offering me a measure of convenience, is to give the whole thing a greater sense of realism. After all, you never really know everything that's going on in real life, right?

(No worries though, major and plot necessary details I will come back and cover. If anyone has any real anxiety over something, check out all the installments and if it's not covered yet, leave me comment to remind me about it. :3)

At the moment, I have plans for this to be a series of 18 one-shots of varying length, with the possibility of more. Strap in!






I do not own The Avengers, Norse mythology nor the characters from them. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
Loading...

Day One







Tony went cross-eyed, trying to contort his face so he could focus on the semi-transparent wand sticking out from between his lips. All that he accomplished, however, was creating two blurry shapes to try and bring into focus instead of one. He twisted his mouth around, trying to bring the shape closer to one eye.

“Tony, would you please hold still? The kids are better behaved than you.”

“Nnh vilr—“

“And shut up as well, you’ll throw off the reading.”

Tony stopped trying to read the thermometer stuck under his tongue and pouted up at Pepper. Later he would deny – weakly – that he did anything as childish as pout, but it didn’t stop him from doing it shamelessly now.

For her part, Pepper was ignoring his protests, verbal and nonverbal. Instead she was standing over him, something she was able to do because she refused to let him do more than sit up in bed, one hand on her hip and eyes glued on her wristwatch. Tony rather thought she was enjoying the opportunity to play nurse; it gave her carte blanche to boss him around.

Well, he could hardly blame her. He’d probably be crowing a lot more than she was if given the opportunity to boss himself around. What bothered him more were the four other people in the room, a veritable audience gathered around as his temperature was taken, each evidencing various levels of concern.

The most obviously worried were the kids. Loki’s three children that had become first legally and then over time in spirit his own, all had eyes glued on him as the procedure went on. Surprisingly enough, Tony thought that Jörmungandr looked the most distressed out of the three. His brows were drawn low and close together over his light blue eyes, which flicked back and forth restlessly between watching Tony and watching Pepper’s every move. He had yet to voice any of his anxiety, but he had never been one to speak if he could get by without words. That was as true now as it had ever been.

In contrast, Hela seemed the least interested out of anyone. When Tony had woken with a fever and feeling vaguely of death, she had wandered in with her brothers to see what was wrong. After a few minutes and a single question if he was uncomfortable, she had sat in one of the room’s chairs with her tablet and begun reading. She would glance up from time to time, but for the most part she remained hidden behind text and a veil of slightly ragged bangs. They would have to get her hair cut again soon, Tony reminded himself. She looked bored, like the only reason she was still in the room was because everyone else was. Considering the amount of fuss being made, Tony rather wished the rest of the family would take her lead.

Fenrir was a little harder for him to read. Tony wanted to say that he was just as bored as his sister, with less skill at hiding it. He was barely even in the room, standing in the doorway and fidgeting, sometimes pacing away only to come back a few moments later. It wasn’t until he noticed that Fen was actually watching the proceedings, particularly whenever Pepper got close to Tony, that he thought the boy cared at all what was going on. Impossible as his current anatomy made it, he thought he could see the boy’s ears twitching in irritation.

Sometimes Tony wished they could send the kids to school. Not boarding school, no, never that kind of hell; regular school, where they would get on a bus in the morning and come home in the afternoon. It would make things a lot simpler, not to mention calmer at home to have some adult-only time. But even ignoring their unusual qualities, the three of them had direct links to Tony Stark, multi-billionaire and Iron Man, and Loki, God of Chaos and once enemy of Earth. Those sorts of connections would make them far too tempting as targets, for good and evil people alike. It was safer to keep them close where their fathers and the Avengers, their extended family, could keep watch over them.

And when their particular natures were taken into consideration, the idea of letting them loose in an only semi-controlled environment, full of hyperactive children and a handful of mere human adults keeping watch over them… no. Just no.

Still, it would have made for a less awkward morning than this one was turning out to be.

Though possibly not, he thought as he let his eyes drift over to where Loki was standing.

After waking, finding Tony hot to the touch, drafting Pepper – who had come to the Mansion early to drag him into the office – into the job of figuring out what was wrong with him and explaining as best he could what was happening to the triplets, Loki had yet to put on anything other than a loose pair of pajama bottoms. Actually, they were an old pair of hospital scrub bottoms, and Tony had no idea when he would have gotten them, but they were what he wore these days when they were having a lazy night before going to bed. A rumpled Loki was still an odd sight, familiarity doing nothing to acclimatize him.

At the moment, Tony was less distracted by Loki’s lack of attire than he was by the daggers being glared in his direction.

It really wasn’t fair. It wasn’t as though Tony had gone out of his way to get sick, and it wasn’t that big of a deal, anyway. It was really Pepper and all this fussing that was keeping him from jumping out of bed. Did Loki think he actually enjoyed all of this? Being kept in bed, (he’d protested that loudly), being poked and prodded with thermometers, (his constant struggles should have been a clue on his thoughts there), or having Pepper lord it over him while he was down? Seriously, that last one should have been a giveaway. Yet there he was, scowling a dirty scowl across the room, green eyes gone toxic, arms crossed over chest. He’d yet to say a thing since Pepper had come in and begun her impromptu examination, but Tony had the sneaking suspicion that he was going to get an earful as soon as they had an idea of how bad his sniffles were.

The thermometer was pulled out of his mouth, clinking against his teeth on the way out. “Owie,” he complained for the sake of complaining.

“Oh, grow up, Tony.” Pepper squinted at the little glass tube, reading where the mercury had stopped.

He chose to ignore the suggestion. “Don’t we have more accurate ways of taking a temperature than that old granny stick?”

“Yes,” Pep replied absently. “But this works fine and comes with an added bonus.”

“What’s that?”

“It makes it hard for you to talk.”

Before Tony could retort, Loki finally spoke up, cutting him off. “And what is his temperature?”

Pepper tensed almost imperceptibly at the sound of the Asgardian’s voice. She had gotten better over the years, becoming more comfortable in his company. She still took pains to never be alone with him, but she could hold a conversation with him with only the smallest signs of uneasiness. Maybe a better word would be ‘accustomed.’ Tony doubted that she would ever be 100% at ease with Loki, even if he never showed sign of going evil on them for a straight decade – one could always dream. There would always be something held in reserve. He sometimes wondered if Pep noticed how much effort Loki put into not making her uncomfortable.

For now, that slight tightening of muscles was the only outward sign she gave as she sighed. “It’s hovering right around 102 degrees Fahrenheit.”

“This is dangerous for humans?”

Pep opened her mouth to speak, but it was Tony’s turn to interrupt. “Nope, perfectly normal, I’m right as rain.” He began disentangling himself from the bed sheets. “I told you this was all a waste of time—“

Pepper put a hand on his bare chest, chilly against his fevered skin, to keep him from rising. “Tony, don’t make me use your own house systems against you.” The little pressure she used was pathetically effective in holding him down. Tony pretended to not be as determined as a way of salvaging his dignity. Pep turned to Loki, who watched the demonstration with a raised brow. “Our temperature should be at about 98.6 degrees. Once we hit 100 it’s considered a fever, and it gets dangerous for adults at about 104 degrees.”

As one, the kids looked up from their various positions to examine Tony, Jör with wide eyes, Hela with a little frown, and Fen with alert attention.

“That is a relatively narrow margin of safety,” Loki commented drily. “Are you sure?”

Pep nodded. “It’s not as bad as it sounds. These are core body temperatures. So long as he takes- it- easy-,” she punctuated the words with little presses of her palm, “it shouldn’t get any worse.”

The eyebrow came back up. “A rather high order, given who it is we’re talking about.”

“Hey—!”

“What sort of disease has caused this?” he asked, ignoring Tony.

“Most likely either a cold or the flu. They’re both fairly common, and the fever says to me that it’s flu. Although someone,” she looked sternly at Tony, “was meant to get a flu shot to prevent this kind of thing.”

“You know what those shots are actually good for, right? They’re basically just guesswork and only give you a 50/50 chance of immunity.”

“50/50 is still better than nothing, Tony.”

“Hey, I got the shot, okay?” He shifted a little, wondering how quickly he could get into some warm clothes if he were allowed to get out of bed. The air in the room was unexpectedly chilly. “Not my fault if it couldn’t block a sniffle. Besides, that’s all it is, so I’m fine to get up and come into the office with you…”

Tony got twin glares from Loki and Pep. Even the kids looked at him incredulously.

“…or not…”

Once they were both satisfied he wouldn’t be making a break for the door, Loki pushed away from the wall he’d been propped up against to stand beside Pepper. “Now he has contracted this illness, what do we do to remedy it? Will he require your physicians?”

Again Pep shook her head. “Not unless it gets a lot worse, which I don’t see happening. The main things are for him to get rest, plenty of fluids, and bone up on some vitamins. Other than that just keep him comfortable, he should recover on his own in a few days.”

A few days. Tony had visions of being watched over by the six foot plus Asgardian, confined to his bed for a few days. And not even in the fun way.

He groaned. He was ignored.

Pep looked around at the kids. “I know they must be worried, but you might want to have them keep their distance until Tony gets better. Just so they don’t get sick as well.”

One side of Loki’s mouth quirked up, the closest he’d come to a smile since waking. “Do not concern yourself. With a few notable exceptions, anything that does not kill us within the first five minutes we will recover from. I doubt this illness will even faze any of the children.”

Pepper smiled as well, looking across the bed at Jör still hovering nearby. “Lucky them,” she said, the two words full of affection. She failed to see the look of warm approval that earned her from the boy’s father, distracted as she was by Jör’s embarrassed little head duck.

Tony smiled at the byplay. Pepper was still nervous around Loki – fair enough, all things considered – but around the triplets she let her guard down some. They were finding new ways to worm their way further and further into her heart every day, and in doing easing the way for her to accept Loki as well. It was more or less the same with everyone who came into contact with them. What was interesting to observe, though, was just how much it worked in the opposite direction as well, how the affection people genuinely felt for the triplets softened Loki to them.

“Well,” Pep said briskly, “I was going to drag Tony into the office by his ears to get some work done, but he’s no use to me like this.”

“Oh, no,” Tony put in quickly. “I wouldn’t want to leave you high and dry in your hour of need—“

“—that’s never bothered you before when it comes to office work—“

“—this little cold isn’t enough to keep me down, I can handle a few mountains of paperwork just fine—“

“No.”

No.”

The double refusal came simultaneously, both speakers glaring down at him. They were able to unite on two things, then: affection for the kids and annoyance for him. Typical.

“Tony, if I catch you trying to get into Stark Industries while you’re sick I will have security – your own security – drag you out and all the way back here again. I’ll have Happy do it personally, and don’t think he won’t.”

“No need to worry, Ms. Potts.” There was a gleam in Loki’s eye that Tony decided he really did not like. “You won’t see him trying to sneak into your offices. He’ll never make it out of this house.”

Tony looked back and forth between the two determined faces hovering over him, trying to decide if the shivers he felt coming on were part of the fever, or mild terror at this unprecedentedly united front. He scooted further down into the blankets, not pouting. “No fair, ganging up on a sick man like this.”

One of the kids giggled.

“I, on the other hand, still have to go in.” Pep stepped back a step from the bed, removing herself from the scene. “I don’t have the excuse of sickness, and now I have to put off some things for the next couple of days until you get better.” She looked at Loki. “I’m sure the others will help you out with different treatments, or just in keeping him held down.”

Loki paused, seeming to give this announcement a little consideration. “Will you be leaving for the offices immediately, Ms. Potts?”

Pep blinked. “Well- yes, I suppose, I—“

“I wonder if you would be willing to keep him occupied for the next few minutes. I will return momentarily.”

Without waiting for an answer, Loki blinked out of existence. Pep and Tony stared where he had been standing. Surreptitiously pulling the blankets closer, Tony commented, “After three years, you would think I would be more used to that. But nope, terrifying every time.”

“How long have I known you, Tony, and I’m still not used to everything that you throw out there.” She looked at him, and just for a moment she looked tired. The same particular kind of tired she had looked back when they had been together, but coming close to the end of their ‘together.’

There had been plenty contributing to their relationship issues, long before Loki had ever appeared on the scene. If Tony were honest, he could admit that from the very beginning they had been building on quicksand. Always two steps forward, one and half steps back. This wasn’t to say his current relationship wasn’t chockfull of its own issues, but with Pepper… They had both tried hard to make it work. Accounts varied on who put in the most effort, but they had both worked hard at it. To see all of that effort not wasted, but still come to nothing, left a bitter aftertaste.

“Hey, monsters,” he said, catching the attention of the triplets. “Why don’t you run off and find where your dad went, eh?”

Hela looked up from her tablet, leveling the same kind of look on him her father often did, the green intensity not at all lessened for only having one visible eye. Fen, still hovering in the door, cocked his head, and Jör blinked. “But he’ll be right back,” Jör pointed out, speaking softly as always.

“And JARVIS can tell us if you really want to know,” Fen added.

There was a slightly awkward pause in the room. JARVIS, who would normally pop up immediately with information at the mention of his name, remained silent. Finally Hela stood, padded over on one bare and one socked foot, grabbed a handful of her brother’s sleeve and towed him out of the room. Fen fussed a little when she did the same to him, but went with all the same. “But it’s true, why do we need to go look…?” The petulant voice trailed off and was lost entirely behind a closed door.

Then it only became more awkward.

“Look, Pep,” he began, and then realized that he wasn’t sure what it was he wanted to say. It was there, right there in his head, ready to be said, what should have been said years ago and a hundred times since, but he couldn’t quite form the shape of the words. He knew the feel of what he wanted to express, but the words themselves fled from him, as they always did when he tried to reach for them.

“Look,” he started again. “I’m sorry about this. If you really need me to come in, I’m sure I can manage a few hours without collapsing. It’s not as though signing papers is all that strenuous.”

She stared at him, apparently waiting to see if there was any more forthcoming. When there wasn’t, she exhaled in a small huff. “It’s fine, Tony. It’s kept for the past week; it’ll do for a few more days. Just be ready to be worked ragged when you finally do drag your carcass in.”

Tony had the distinct impression, now and every other time he had tried to get across this huge thing squatting in his mind that refused to be said, that Pepper understood exactly what it was he was trying to say. She never said that she understood, though, or gave him an easy out by picking up where he sputtered out, filling in the blanks as he stumbled. She let him struggle with it alone, over and over, apparently content to do so until he finally figured it out. It was a mild form of torture Tony thought she probably had a right to.

He sat back into the pillows, tilting his head back, and tried to ignore the fact that it was getting hard to breathe through his nose.

“Fair enough.”





Why me? Bruce thought to himself, trying to not let the thought show on his face.

He didn’t ask for much – well, no, fine, he asked for plenty. His personality and abilities combined with circumstances in just such a way that he could ask for quite a lot on a regular basis – new scientific breakthroughs, miracle cures, temporary but invaluable periods of peace, shoes that didn’t hurt his feet – and actually have a fair shot at getting them. But relatively, on a personal level, he didn’t ask for too much. Coffee in the morning, at least one good meal in a day, a roof, clothes… he’d lived on the run long enough to learn how do without a lot of what his companions considered basic. Truth was, though he now lived in what he considered the lap of luxury, able to exercise his mind and contribute to those causes he cared the most about, what he still valued the most was his personal space.

He took another try at patting his trousers dry – the remains of his morning coffee, proven to still be very hot at the moment of spilling – and tried to think soothing thoughts. Mostly he tried not to think of a half-naked god suddenly appearing in his lab, demanding to know the ABC’s of influenza, while at the same time attempting to reconcile this event as his new definition of ‘normal.’ It wasn’t as much of a stretch as it should have been.

“Tony is sick?” he asked, grasping at the one thing he thought he could be certain of.

Loki, hair an uncombed mess and arms crossed over his bare chest in a show of annoyance rather than modesty, nodded. “His temperature has elevated, there is some impediment to his breathing, and his voice is becoming progressively rough. Despite his fever he’s seeking more warmth, and he’s being quite fractious. Ms. Potts has deemed it ‘the flu’.”

Bruce nodded at the assessment, continuing to mop at his trouser leg. “Sounds the most likely diagnosis, though the uncooperative attitude is probably just Tony’s personality.” He looked up at the sleep rumpled god. “You know that I’m not a medical doctor, right?”

“I was given to understand that this is a common enough malady that any reasonably educated human could provide information about it.”

“Then why…? Oh, never mind.” He was going to ask, if anyone in the Mansion could answer his questions, why had Loki decided to pick on him, but decided not to. He could tell by the way the Asgardian stood that he wasn’t likely to get a straight answer. It was sometimes hard to predict how Loki would behave, except that very rarely did what he have to say and what was on his mind coincide. His body language was closed, which was also rare, and said that questions would meet with uncharacteristically blunt evasions. Better to just get to the point. “What was it exactly you wanted to know?”

“What to expect, remedies and any possible complications.”

“Everything, then.” Loki’s stare was unblinking. Bruce sighed. Loki’s sense of humor was hard to predict at times, as well.

Deciding his pants were as dry as he was going to get them with a handful of paper towels, he tossed the wad into a trash can. “Alright,” he said, rubbing his face. “The very basics, then. If it is flu, what you can expect is high temperatures, but only worry if it lasts a long time, say a couple days, or gets higher than 103, 104. Right around there is when you start cooking brain cells. Unless and until it gets there, just keep an eye on it. It’s the body’s way of fighting the infection. Eventually the fever will break and he’ll go from piling on blankets to pouring sweat in a hurry. If the temp gets too high, we have medications to lower it. Other symptoms will be congestion, cough, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, headache, fatigue and – if it gets really bad – diarrhea and vomiting.”

As Bruce listed off symptoms Loki’s face gradually shifted from annoyed, to attentive, to incredulous, to mildly horrified. “And this is a common illness for humans?”  

Bruce shrugged. “Not as common as the cold, which isn’t as severe, but sure.”

“No wonder you are all so short lived.”

“Could be,” he smiled humorlessly. “Depending on who you talk to, the annual rate of flu related deaths ranges somewhere between three and forty-nine thousand.”

Loki looked at him, very carefully not looking alarmed. It didn’t fool Bruce. Hard to read or not, they had lived and worked in close proximity long enough for Bruce to recognize that look.

He let the Asgardian stew a few moments, enjoying this mild form of stress relief. Sure, it was a little sadistic, but he’d liked these pants, and been looking forward to his coffee, dammit.

“But,” he said, taking pity, “most of those are made up of the very young, very old and those whose immune systems are compromised.” He pretended to not notice the look of relief break over the other man’s face. “As for remedies, there are hundreds, ranging in complexity and effectiveness. Generally, you’ll want to help Tony’s body to do the job itself. Carbs and sugar will feed the infection, so proteins are better at this point: soups and broth are both good. Water, juice, tea, anything you can get down his trap that’s liquid and has vitamins or nutrients will be fine. Keep him comfortable and make sure he rests until he’s actually better, which will probably be the biggest challenge.”

“I see,” Loki said eventually. “Are there any potential complications other than death that I should be aware of?”

“Pneumonia and bronchitis are the worst ones to watch for, where the infection works its way into the lungs. It’s why you want to stomp out the influenza as soon as you can, so that doesn’t happen. Sinus infections are possible, but not as much of an issue. Although…” Bruce trailed off, a thought occurring.

“What?”

“Well, illnesses like this tend to have negative effects on pre-existing, chronic conditions. I’m not sure about all of the specifics of Tony’s arc reactor, but…”

Again the doctor failed to finish his sentence, but he didn’t need to. He could see the wheels rapidly turning in Loki’s head. However much he tried to hide or obscure it, he really was protective of Tony, and Bruce’s vague but ominous caution was likely to throw that into overdrive. Tony was going to hate it.

Bruce wasn’t quite able to hide a small smile. Tony had been annoying him lately as well.





Tony had never been particularly good at following directions. Sure, as a kid he’d done his best to do as his father had told him – when the old man had bothered to say anything. He had run himself ragged trying to live up to this standard, that dream, and eventually being sent to a boarding school to ‘shape up.’

He’d never enjoyed it. Always chafing under the orders of others as a child, now that he was – technically speaking – a big, grown-up adult, he was wont to go against perfectly good advice just because he could. He was aware of the habit, and saddled a lot of the current blame for it on Nick Fury, who seemed to take a delight in bossing him around.

Tony took out his stress in small, mostly harmless rebellions.

“Tony, would you please get back to bed?”

“Nope.”

Deciding to get up and walk around was probably not the best of moves, he would admit. He still wasn’t fully dressed and missed his warm blankets. They hadn’t been warm enough, but they were as the surface of the sun compared to the icebox outside them. What joker decided that negative four was an appropriate temperature setting for his mansion?

“Well, that’s something I never thought I would hear,” Clint said as Tony finished his descent down the stairs and turned into what had been collectively chosen as the Avengers’ breakfast nook. He and Natasha were seated at the table, food and coffee spread out between them. Tony was pleased to note that they were using cups this time. Normally he wasn’t too picky about table manners, but even he had drawn the line when he’d caught Barton drinking straight out of the coffee pot one morning. The coffee pot where everyone else got their coffee from, mind.

The archer had gotten his own personal tour of the kitchen after that, with special attention given to where the mugs were kept.

“What’s that?” He did his best to ignore how cold the place was and the faint beginnings of muscular trembles in his legs as he made a show of studying the food spread out on the table. Pepper followed him, disapproving scowl still in place.

“Playboy Stark saying ‘no’ to an invitation to bed.” Clint grinned at Tony and offered a sly wink at Pep, apparently oblivious to the storm clouds hanging over her head.

“Where have you been the last couple years, Hawkguy? Haven’t you heard that Tony Stark has settled down?” He eyeballed the fried eggs and toast. Then he eyed Natasha’s hand, twirling her sharp silver fork ever so nonchalantly. She smiled sweetly at him.

Maybe he wasn’t so hungry, at that.

Clint snorted, cutting up his own eggs with a kind of sadistic vigor. “Yes, so I hear, and with Loki. I’m not sure if that makes the possibility of a relapse into your old playboy ways more or less dangerous.” He looked at Pep again. “Either way, I’d be careful with those propositions, Pepper.”

Pepper blinked. “What?”

“Well, showing up and shouting out you wicked designs across the Mansion so anyone can hear. Not exactly stealthy, as plots go.”

“A good thing I’m not trying to be stealthy, then,” she quipped, not one to be thrown off balance for long.

Clint choked on his bite of fried egg.

Tony looked around, trying to decide if he wanted to risk his own cooking skills. He frowned. “Where are Cap and Thunderdome?”

Natasha didn’t look up from patting Clint on the back. “Off somewhere being stealthy. Well, as stealthy as possible in Thor’s case.”

“Really?” Tony edged around, peeking into the kitchen in hopes of finding some leftovers. Besides, being in motion made it harder to feel the shakes. “I was under the impression that stealth was more of your guys’ shtick. Is Fury recruiting more for his little covert clubhouse?”

“I suppose you could say that.” She looked up from Clint, who was no longer in danger of passing out due to inhaling his breakfast, to Pepper who was still glowering at Tony. The two women had gotten off to a rocky start to their relationship, what with Natasha taking Pepper’s place as Tony’s PA when Pepper had taken over Stark Industries – he had been dying at the time, it could hardly count against him as bad judgment, right? And then it had turned out that Natasha was actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent meant to spy on Tony. It’d left Pepper feeling wary around her, a sentiment the agent had done little to amend.

Still, despite that lack of action, they got along tolerably well. Maybe it was because Natasha had done so little to improve relations between them that the gap was slowly closing.

“Why does he have to get back to bed, exactly?”

She wasn’t exactly scoring any brownie points with Tony, though.

“I don’t, obviously, because I can walk just fine—“

“He’s running a temperature of 102 and he insists—“

“—not an invalid, I can function with a cold—“

“—the point is that you don’t have to, Tony—“

“—done it with much worse—“

“—and it’s always such a good idea—“

“Whoa, alright!” Nat raised her hands referee style, looking between the two of them with exasperation. “You know, sometimes you two are worse than the eleven year olds wandering around.”

Tony couldn’t resist. He gestured at Pepper. “She started it.”

“I did not!” she flashed back, and then winced when she realized what she’d said.

Natasha rolled her eyes. “Fine. Tony has a fever, is that what I heard?”

Clint, no longer choking on his breakfast, looked Tony up and down, eyebrow raised. “He doesn’t look sick. You sure it’s not just his personality?”

“I have been described as ‘too hot to handle’ in the past,” he replied with a grin.

Privately, he was quite pleased that at least one person didn’t think he should be restricted to bed rest. It was encouraging that all the effort he was putting into not slumping where he was standing or to let too much of the tiredness creeping up on him show in his face was paying off. Whether he wanted to admit it or not he was going to be thinking quite fondly of his bed soon, and not just for the warm blankets. If he wanted to keep up this pretense he was going to have to find something to do that involved sitting rather soon.

Natasha was looking him up and down as well, and Tony felt his pride deflate a little. Somehow he doubted his act would work as well on her.

“Maybe you should get some rest, Tony,” she said, confirming his worry. “At least until the acute phase is over. Clint, Bruce and I are all here, the world will continue to function if you tag out for a bit.”

“Yeah,” Clint put in. “It’s not as though Earth is under any great threats this week. Catch the Z’s while you can.”

Tony scowled around at them. “You know, to hear you all talk, you would think I was at death’s door or something. Sure, I’ll take it easy for a few days, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to vegetate upstairs, doing nothing. That would drive me nuts, and I think everyone can agree that would be bad times for everyone involved.”

“Oh, yes,” a smooth voice said from the direction of the elevators. “I think those who have never even heard of the great Tony Stark would agree with that assessment.”

A small train of people filed into the room. Fenrir bounded in first, his brother following him more sedately. Loki strode in with purpose, looking at Tony with dark disapproval, and Bruce brought up the rear with Hela, looking curious and faintly amused as he steered the little girl along. Tony wondered at Bruce’s being there, a vague suspicion worming its way into his brain. Before he could think too much on it, Fenrir crashed into him, arms wrapping around his waist.

“We found him!” he shouted, not noticing Tony’s little stumble. He looked up, face creased in a frown. “He was about to come back, anyway.”

Tony ruffled the already messy head of blond hair. “I still appreciate it, pup. Thank you.”

When he looked back up the dark look on Loki’s face hadn’t lightened at all; neither had the faintly amused expression on Bruce. In fact the doctor had set himself off to one side, where he could see everyone in the room with little effort, a ready spectator. That did not bode well, in Tony’s estimation.

Everyone felt the change of atmosphere when Loki entered the room, and the brewing argument subsided. Rather quickly, Tony found he was sharing center stage of a domestic tableau with the Trickster.

“And what sort of acrobatics do you think you will be getting up to while you are ill?”

Tony sighed theatrically. “No acrobatics, I swear. I just want to work on some projects downstairs—“

“No.”

Tony blinked. The refusal had been absolutely flat, brooking no argument. Not that Tony was one to pay heed to little hints like that. He tried to rally. “Look, I’ve already promised to take it easy. This way I’m confining my infectious self to my workroom where no one else will get sick, and keeping myself from going stir crazy.”

“No.” The temperature in the room, already an icebox to Tony, dropped even further. Loki stood in the middle of the breakfast nook, in nothing but an old pair of scrub pants and could still look as imposing as he ever did when in his leathers and armor. “Should you spend your day working on your contraptions, your idiotic pride will have you forgetting that promise within an hour. It’s your pride that has you on your feet right now, when you should be in bed. We will remedy the problem – and you – by getting you back there now.”

It was a little disconcerting to realize, as he listened to all of this, that there was very little he could do to keep from being forced into convalescence. In the past he had always outranked anyone who showed concern, or was outside of their sphere of control entirely. Usually these were Pepper, Happy and Rhodey, and yes, he would admit to having vetoed, ignored, or argued out of anything like an instruction to remain in bed. None of those would work in Loki’s case.  

To everyone’s surprise, Tony smiled. “You want me up there,” he said through his grin, “you’ll have to drag me up there yourself.”

His smile was returned with an incredibly sweet one from Loki. “I have a much better idea,” he purred.  

Loki looked around the room, but ignored the Avenger team members and Pep, all of whom continued to watch the drama unfold. Instead he looked to each of his children. “Kids,” he said, smile stretching wickedly. “Fetch.”

“Wha-?” Abruptly his waist was released. Now the front of his shirt was being gripped between a set of very sharp teeth, the forepaws of a lanky wolf cub planted on his thighs. Tony stared wolf-Fen in the eye. Fen growled with mock menace, lips wrinkling back and golden eyes flashing. “Wha?” he repeated, genius incarnate.

Jör and Hela had rushed in and clamped down on each of his forearms, the same wicked flash of mischief in Fen’s eye reflected in theirs’. Before he could get out a third brilliant ‘Wha?’ they began towing him forward, out of the breakfast room and towards the stairs. Instead, Tony managed a strangled, “Whoa!”

The triplets were each stronger than they looked, a fact that was driven home when all three were dragging him across the room. At approximately eleven years old – it was hard to pin down an exact age, Loki had tried to explain the math, which Tony had entirely failed to understand – they were stronger than any human child would be, and Fen was far larger and stronger than a wolf cub ought to be. With Tony’s strength laughably diminished, Hela pulling on his left arm, Jör on his right and Fen on a mouthful of his shift, Tony didn’t stand much chance. Still, he put up a struggle, for the spirit of the thing.

“Hey, hey!” he squawked. “Knock it off, guys, let me go! I swear I’m fine, c’mon! JARVIS! How about a little help, here?”

The AI had the audacity to sound ever-so-slightly amused when he replied. “What would you recommend, sir? Electric shocks?”

It was a good point, but hell, he wasn’t being serious. “I don’t know, just do something!”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the AI responded, not sounding at all apologetic. “But they seem to be acting in your best interests, which coincides with my own directives.”

Tony pulled a face. “Et tu, JARVIS?”

“I’m afraid so, Caesar. The ides of March is come.”

Tony was dragged off, complaining the whole way, two and four legged children towing him along, a smug Loki following along behind. As the sounds of protest interspersed with the occasional word or two from Loki or the kids faded away, the remaining four were left in silence. Clint was the first to break it. “Do you think we should have… I don’t know. Come to the rescue on that?”

“He was outnumbered,” Bruce said after a moment, trying not to look too pleased with himself.

Natasha sniffed, scooping a spoonful of egg onto her toast. “There are some struggles you just have to let your teammates get through on their own,” she said pragmatically.

Clint shuddered. “True.”

Pepper rolled her eyes. Still, with so many around him to, one: keep him from overdoing it and, two: nurse him through the worst when it came, she could concentrate on getting things done until he got better. Tony would be fine without her having to hang around, and she could get to rescheduling a lot of appointments and meetings.

Stifling a sigh, Pep said her goodbyes and left the Mansion.





Tony would never admit it out loud, but it was probably a very good thing that he had been drug off to bed again.

Under continuing protests and promises to curtail the kids’ video game time – and much more intimate privileges in Loki’s case – he had been hauled like a congested barge back upstairs and to the bedroom. From there Loki had taken over from the children and tossed Tony into the sheets bodily when he’d refused to get in under his own power.

He could have blamed that on the Asgardian naturally being so much stronger than he was, that he was not only capable of lifting Tony like a bag of feathers and throwing him around, but that he was free to do so with very little resistance. He could also say that he had learned long ago to save himself a lot of aches and pains by picking his fights carefully, except that no one would believe him. Truth was he just didn’t have the reserves to put up more than a cursory struggle and a lot of arguing.

Once back in bed, Loki made it very clear via body language and a toxic green glower that he would be well advised to not attempt getting up again. Tony stayed still.

Satisfied that his patient wouldn’t be making any further escape attempts, Loki turned to the triplets.

“Alright,” he said, and the at-attention postures of all three immediately increased. “Tony is very sick. It may not look like it just now, but from what I understand, it is going to get worse before it gets better.” Three sets of worried eyes glanced at him, looking for any sign of his illness suddenly becoming terminal. “We are going to need some supplies to assist us in getting him better. Hela, see what you can find in the way of bottled water and juice and bring as much of it up here as you can. Fenrir,” he turned his attention to the boy-in-cub-form when Hela instantly sprinted away. “Get into the storage closets and bring us more blankets. Take note of where the sheets are for later. And see if you can manage some small washcloths, as well.”

Fenrir chuffed his understanding and loped off after his sister.

“With your hands!” Loki called after the flipping, feathered tail. He looked back down at the final remaining sibling, who stared back up unblinkingly. “Jörmungandr, find Dr. Banner and see what it is we have in the way of medicines for this. He mentioned there were some to assist with high temperature, but I neglected to find which they were.”

Jör nodded, and took the path of his siblings, following at a less hurried pace.

With the children set on their various missions, Tony and Loki were left alone in their bedroom. It might have been the past experiences he’d had over the years, but he half expected Loki to begin berating him as soon as they were alone. It wouldn’t even matter what he was being berated for, really. Anything from his behavior to having caught a cold in the first place and it would have been very familiar – and expected. Watching the taut lines of muscle in his bare back jump, Tony thought the chances of a tongue lashing were well over 90%.

It never came, though. For a while Loki did not move at all, refused to even turn and look at him. Still mostly sprawled where he had been unceremoniously dumped, Tony refrained from interrupting whatever train of thought was taking place.

When Loki finally did turn around, there was no scowl in place, no glare trying to pierce through him. He was surprisingly neutral.

Tony wasn’t sure what to think, or what to do about a non-combative companion approaching him. If Loki would just give him the argument like he was expecting, then he would have something to do other than stare. With the half-dressed Asgardian silently moving around the bed, straightening the blankets and pillows – the words ‘tucking in’ scuttled treacherously though his mind – he was at a bit of a loss. What was a grown man meant to say in a situation like that?

In the end he suffered himself to be tidied into the bed. Loki seemed to need to have something to do, and being under the blankets again was nice.

Finally satisfied that everything in the bed was as it should be, Tony firmly tucked and propped and the thermometer Pep had brought in set out neatly on the bedside, he looked Tony over intently.

“How are you feeling?”

Now we’re asking? See, I thought the repeated shouts that I was fine would have gotten the message across.”

He didn’t realize that he’d been hoping his abrasive reply would result in a return of the same until it failed to do so. Loki refused to be baited into an argument, or even to frown. “And we both know what those amounted to. I want an honest answer.”

“Kind of a funny thing to hear coming from you.”

It was a low blow just to try and press him to a response, but the only one he got was a faint smile. “Perhaps, but indulge me. All of your protestations fool no one, least of all me. This illness has affected you, and the more you insist that it does not, the more obvious it is.”

Loki reached out and pressed a hand against his forehead. His palm felt like ice, and Tony shivered involuntarily. “You’ve grown weaker,” Loki murmured. “And despite what you say, you only continue to do so. You’re exhausting yourself to appear well. Your eyes have grown bright and you feel like a furnace. There is no point in feigning health when it’s plainly deteriorating. So,” the long, cool fingers that had carded into his hair tightened against his skull. “How. Do. You. Feel?”

Tony winced at the pressure, even though it didn’t hurt, and grinned a little at Loki. “Have I ever told you that you can be a nuisance sometimes?”

“About as often as I remind you of the same.”

“That much, huh?” He sighed and shrugged, giving in. “I ache, I guess. I can feel the congestion building up here,” he tapped between his brows, “so Kleenex and Aspirin are going to be in my future. And I’m cold,” he admitted, and finally allowed himself to nestle into the warmth of the bed, pulling the blankets up to his shoulders. Gods that felt better already!

Looking down at the human burrowing himself into the bedding, a faint line appeared between Loki’s brows. Tony couldn’t quite interpret the expression, he was too concentrated on suppressing a bout of shivers that was sweeping through him.  “You have felt poorly before,” Loki said thoughtfully. “But this is the first time I have seen you really ill. Why would that be?”

“An unusually high constitution and clean living?”

Loki snorted, and Tony gave him another grin. It took entirely too much effort to do so. Now that he was in bed again, he was fading fast. He could actually feel a difference in his condition from one moment to the next. It was amazing what a shift in attitude would do. From stubbornly refusing to even admit having the flu to surrendering to being taken care of, and this was how his body responded: by making sure he couldn’t change his mind again and spring out of bed, charge down into his workshop and work for a few days straight.

Treacherous thing.

“I was more concerned with why exactly it was that you have contracted this illness now, when you have never seemed particularly susceptible in the past. What has changed to make you more vulnerable?”

The bed really was very warm, Tony decided, feeling like he was beginning to thaw. As he warmed he was becoming drowsy as well, the notion of sleep becoming not only agreeable but inevitable. I must have gotten up too early, he thought.

“Can’t be sure,” he replied, hearing as though at a distance how slurred his words were already becoming. “They say idiots can’t catch a cold. Maybe I’m getting smarter.”

With his eyes drifting shut, Tony heard rather than saw the smile on Loki’s lips when he answered. “Small fear of that, Stark.”

Yeah, it was probably a very good thing that he had been drug off to bed Tony reflected as he felt sleep make a final tug of his weakening consciousness, dragging him under just as the first of the kids made it back from their assigned tasks. He didn’t even make out which it was before the darkness overtook him.





Sleep didn’t last long, but it certainly had an effect. It felt as though whoever had set the Mansion’s temperature controls somewhere in the Arctic Circle before had decided to make a change for the Congo. The blankets he had cocooned himself in were suffocating him rather than providing a haven in an igloo.

He went to kick off the offending covers, but apparently sleep had been a physical struggle. What little strength he’d had before was even less now. The weight of his own legs was almost too much, never mind the two sets of blankets draped over him. He would need a forklift for those, because they obviously weighed several hundred pounds. If only the press could see him now, he thought to himself hazily. The suave Tony Stark, Iron Man the great protector of mankind, completely at the mercy of a couple of comforters wrapped around his legs.

He groaned, the closest he could muster to a snappy one-liner for his fleecy adversary, and geared up for the Herculean effort of kicking.

“Daddy, he’s awake! He’s awake!”

Something exploded inside Tony’s head, and his defiant groan turned into a pathetic – more pathetic – whine of protest. Obviously the congestion had gotten worse if the throbbing in his temples, forehead and more or less his entire face was anything to go by. It was like a mother of a hangover, the residue of the kind of night he’d not enjoyed for a few years.

He buried his face in the pillows, which made breathing only marginally more difficult, abandoning the struggle with his blankets. He was aware of one of the triplets – Fen, he thought – charging out of the room, presumably to fetch Loki.

With any luck he had brewed up a cure for influenza while he’d been asleep, or Tony was sure he’d die within the next hour or two. Cure or death, either one was fine with him.

Weren’t naps meant to make you feel better? Shakespeare had called sleep ‘Death’s counterfeit,’ but from available evidence there wasn’t too much difference between the counterfeit and the real thing.

“I see the illness is continuing apace, much as was predicted.”

Tony came back up from his bastion of pillows, glaring in the general direction of the door. It was difficult to see, not only because his eyes refused to focus but because the room was dimly lit, only weak sunlight managing to muscle its way in through the drapes. Loki was easy to pinpoint, though. A tall silhouette topped with a mop of hair and sporting an insufferable smile. Tony tried for an expression more like a scowl than the already pinched arrangement his features had fallen into. “Please tell me you have concocted a cure for this, before the real fun starts.”

The smile quirked, becoming a smirk. “And become known as a kindly god, bestowing favors of health upon the populace? Thank you, no.”

Sitting up was too much work. Tony let gravity have him, flopping to his side. “What if I promised to be a complete bastard and not share it with anyone on Earth?”

“While I don’t doubt your ability to act so, I think you would fall back on your more philanthropic habits once you were feeling better.”

“Probably,” he agreed, and sniffed hard. His sinuses, though, were well and truly blocked, and no amount of snuffling was going to clear them. “It might be a different story if you catch me later.”

“Not so difficult a feat,” Loki commented. “I doubt you could outrun a lame goat.”

He made Tony shift a little to make room for him to perch on the edge of the bed. He wasn’t sure how long he had been asleep, but it had been long enough for Loki to get dressed in slacks and a loose fitting tunic, his casual wear for home. Which probably meant he’d had breakfast already, and if he had then so had the kids. Tony found himself wondering what everyone had eaten without him, which quickly expanded to wonder what had been going on generally while he slept. Maybe he could get JARVIS to give him a briefing on the highlights.  

A chilly hand pressed itself against his forehead. He batted at it, weakly. “Yes, thank you, I still have a fever.” He made another feeble attempt at extracting his legs from the blankets. “Feels like a sauna in here.”

Loki watched his struggles thoughtfully. “No more chills,” he said to himself. “But still an elevated temperature and no sweating. How do you feel?”

“Like the beginnings of death,” Tony grumbled. “Everything hurts, nothing wants to move, and it feels like my head was put in a vise.” He sniffled again, grimacing. “And I think the waterworks has started up. No doubt it will get worse before it gets better,” he sighed.

Loki raised an eyebrow at him, then picked up a box of tissues from the bedside table and thrust it under his running nose. “Not if I am to have any say in the matter it won’t.”

Tony took a fistful of tissues gratefully, casting an eye over the surface of the bedside table. It had changed since he was last conscious. Normally it was the resting place for a lamp, clock, a glass half-filled with something drinkable, and whatever he was most recently reading. Now it looked a little like a school nurse’s top drawer. A thermometer, five sealed bottles of water and juice, a jar of Vicks, a pink bottle Tony assumed was Pepto-Bismol the same way he assumed the smaller white bottles were pain relievers, boxes of decongestant, a package of crackers, a jar of peanut butter and a knife, a couple of empty mugs, what he thought was a box of teabags and – Tony was rather impressed with this – an electric tea kettle set up and ready to boil. When he leaned over the edge of the bed to toss the damp tissues into the garbage he also found two mini ice chests, one empty and one full of damp washcloths, and an empty bucket.

He sat back up, his turn to raise a questioning eyebrow. “And since when have you been such an expert on human illnesses?”

The smirk widened. Loki looked supremely pleased with himself. “This morning. Now,” he set down the box of tissues, trading it for the thermometer, “let’s see just how high this fever is, shall we?”

Protesting was a lost cause, so Tony suffered to have the old granny stick stuck between his teeth again, trying to shake a vague feeling of déjà vu.





“Stark is not feeling well?”

Clint shook his head, still flipping through channel after channel of trash TV, hoping against hope that a wider selection than his own basic cable plan at home would equal more hits than he was used to. He was quickly becoming disappointed, though far from disillusioned. It seemed to be one of the Laws of Murphy that flew right in the face of the Laws of Math. With a greater number of stations to choose from, there should have been a correspondingly higher percentage of them that were tolerable. But no, that number was exactly the same: two.

Sighing, he tossed the remote when he came back around to the more endurable of the two channels and looked back over his shoulder. Thor and Cap had gotten back from their covert mission sooner than expected, and from the sound of it, it had been less than covert in the end. Which might go some way to explain why it had finished up early; Cap had looked rather annoyed when they had trudged through the door, and Thor as contrite as was possible for a 6’ 3” powerhouse to be. Clint made a mental note to ask for stories later.

“Yeah,” he said. “Pepper came in early this morning to get the jump on him over some office stuff, I think. Left saying he had a temperature and should stay home.”

Thor’s brows came low over the bridge of his nose, while Cap’s rose to his hairline. He cast a glance towards the stairs leading up to the second floor and the bedrooms. “Ms. Potts always has been a very… tenacious sort of woman. It must be pretty serious for her to tell Tony not to work.”

Clint shrugged. “Hard to tell with her, and with him. He wandered down before she left and he looked alright. Maybe a little out of it, but you know – walking and talking, all parts in working order.”

“What is being done?” Thor asked, concern evident in every line of him.

“Well, after Pepper left for Stark Industries, your brother dragged Tony back upstairs to enforce some bed rest. Though from the sound of it, he would have to enforce it with a rope. That was nearly two hours ago and I haven’t heard anything out of Tony since, so I’m assuming that he’s resting as ordered. Loki and the kids have been charging around and interrogating everyone about flu remedies. It’s all been rather surreal.”

Thor nodded. “If Loki is looking after Stark, then whatever the ailment, it will not last long. My brother is most talented with healing magics and very determined.”

Clint was a little skeptical, but decided not to comment. He hadn’t done it often to begin with, but he had learned not to let his mouth run in front of Thor where it concerned opinions on his brother.

Cap was looking around the large living room curiously. Still in his mission gear it made him look like he was on task in the middle of the Avenger’s Mansion. “Where is everyone now?”

“Pepper is at Stark Industries, I’m here, tall, green and brainy is in his brain cave, Tasha’s gone out somewhere, and Tony’s upstairs. Fen came pelting out of there a little while back, yipping that Tony was awake, so I’m assuming that’s where Loki is now. As for the other two little ones, I sorta lost track.” He turned and stretched out on the sofa, pleased to have the whole thing to himself. “They both seemed pretty into their projects, though, so I doubt we need to worry about any fires.”

“Indeed not, Mr. Barton,” a synthetic voice informed him, making the archer jump out of his relaxed lounge. “I can assure you that I am quite capable of monitoring each of the children, and all are behaving well, with no indication of setting anything aflame, purposefully or otherwise.”

Heart still pounding, Clint glared at the ceiling. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that thing,” he grumbled.

Ignoring his teammate, Steve also looked up, a habit all of the Avengers had taken to when communicating with the Mansion’s AI system. “Where are they right now, JARVIS?”

“Fenrir is currently just outside the master bedroom, Hela is ensconced in the back kitchen, and Jörmungandr is with Dr. Banner in research laboratory three.” The AI listed them all off smoothly and coolly.

On the surface it was the completely emotionless voice of a very sophisticated computer, but Clint was sure he could hear the slightest tinge of smug amusement lurking in the words. It hadn’t taken very long for everyone on the team to discover Clint’s mild but persistent fear of intelligent robotics, precipitated by watching far too many films where man has created what he cannot control and is summarily destroyed. It wasn’t enough to make him spurn the use of robotics or smart computers, though. They were becoming far too prevalent, too useful, and in some cases, too much required to spurn. He learned to get over or ignore his discomfort in most cases, but JARVIS made him nervous. He was sure that the system was really much closer to a true, strong artificial intelligence than Tony would have generally known – for obvious reasons. He was also sure that JARVIS was just as aware of his mild paranoia and took a positive delight in it, finding ways of subtly exploiting it.

Natasha said that line of thinking was just his paranoia showing through even more.

Cap was looking over at Thor, giving a half shrug. “You want to go up and check on him?”

Thor nodded. “Indeed. It’s only right to show solidarity to a comrade who is low.” He glanced at Clint meaningfully. “Will you come as well, Barton?”

The archer waved his hand, flopping back down onto the sofa. “Thanks, but I’ve already paid my respects to the dying, shown my brotherly solidarity and all that. Unless he’s taken a serious turn for the worse – which I doubt – I’m staying out of the way. He has enough nurses.”

Cap raised a brow at the veiled meaning but nodded. “Sure thing,” was all he said, and drew the big Asgardian away with him to the stairs.

Clint smiled faintly at their backs, turned back to the barely acceptable program, wondering if he should just switch it off. You could always depend on Cap being a diplomat, which with this particular group was a must-have skill. Only occasionally was he a source of friction, and he had gotten better at smoothing that over. For a dude from the 40’s, he was alright.

He turned the television off, opting for silence and possibly a nap. It wouldn’t hurt to take the advice he’d given to Tony and catch some Z’s. He was just digging his shoulders into the couch cushions when a voice made him jump for a second time.

“You appear bored, Mr. Barton. Would you like me to provide you with some form of entertainment?”

There was definitely a note of malicious humor in that voice. He could hear the damn computer laughing at him.

“No thanks, JARVIS, I’m fine.”

“I thought perhaps you might enjoy a film. Perhaps Terminator? Or 2001: A Space Odyssey?”

Clint growled. “Thanks. No.”
Loki's Brood 11.1, Flu
Previous Installment: Loki's Brood 10, Synthesis
Next Installment: Loki's Brood 11.2, Flu

Plot: Tony gets sick, his family takes care of him.

Author's Foreword: Well, here we are. It’s been a long time. Lots of life changes have happened and continue to happen, for myself and for our lovelies in the story. Oddly enough, this one provided a good backdrop to see some of those changes – and some character relationships. Honestly that was a surprise. The original outline was the synopsis, word for word: ‘Tony gets sick, his family takes care of him.’ Special thanks go out to those who suggested an installment where Tony is either sick or incapacitated, the idea latched on!

This marks more or less the center of the series. Sorry for the long wait, guys, hopefully the length makes up for that a bit.

We are not taking Thor 2 or Captain America: Winter Soldier into account.

(Bruce never noticed that one of his lab coats went missing a few days after Loki pronounced Tony well enough for physical activity.)

Also, this is the first time Nick Fury has actually shown up for the series. Yay!

The Loki’s Brood ‘soundtrack’ is officially up and running on 8tracks! The link: Loki's Brood Soundtrack

Beta: SkyTurtle

Genre: Family, Humor

Pairing: Frostiron (Tony Stark / Loki Laufeyson)

POV: Various

Rating: T

Word Count: 35,765

Technophobia: Clint’s technophobia is a nod to Hella’s ‘Off the Record’. If you haven’t read it, do. She now goes by the name gaddamnhella on AO3.

Russian Flu Remedies: I know little to nothing about Russian cuisine or remedies other than what I was able to find through Google, so please take everything shown here in the spirit of parody.

Two Teams: In the little bits and pieces of research (coughreadingcomicbookscough) that I’ve been doing, I’ve found that Steve Rogers has been on more than one superhero team at a time. This may not be true for the cinematic continuity, but I thought it would be nice as a glancing reference.

Apartments: I’ve also been doing research (cough) on Hawkeye, and found that in a current comic series he owns his own apartment building, the result of many shenanigans and the catalyst for several more. (The series is ‘Hawkeye’ by Fraction, Aja and Pulido.)

Marrow Broth: It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Actually all animal stocks involve steeping bones with other ingredients, but Tony – genius that he is – isn’t all that sharp when it comes to how food is made. Enjoy your soups.

Chocolate: Don’t feed chocolate to dogs or related canines. It’s bad for them.

Time Lapse: We are now approximately four years out from the events of ‘Caregiver,’ and three since Tony and Loki officially hooked up.


Loki's Brood: After the trial in Asgard for his various crimes, Loki Laufeyson walks away estranged from his people and burdened with tasks to amend his past wrongs. In so doing he also walks away with his three children - Fenrir, Hela and Jörmungandr - taking them out of the hands of the Æsir. He entrusts them to Tony Stark, much to everyone's surprise, and what could have been a disaster turns out to work out remarkably well for everyone involved. At least most of the time.

The various adventures of Tony, Loki and his children (and the rest of the Avengers) as they learn to get along, trust each other and forge a family stronger than even blood could create.

Continuity Disclaimer: This is going to be a standard disclaimer attached to every fic I post that has to do with the Avengers, so everyone knows where I'm coming from in terms of characters and world canon.

For the most part, assume that I am coming from only the movies. Iron Man 1 - 3, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Avengers – and any sequels that come after these unless mentioned otherwise. I realize that I'm missing out on worlds of story and character development, but I would be starting from square one and 50+ years of backstory, (each individual character's series(es), the team series(es) and any/all crossovers or notable appearances), is more than a little daunting. So as much as I want to know everything about everything – trust me, this is really frustrating for me – I just can't. I'm picking my battles and this one is a 'nope.' So as a result my Avengers fics will not have 'comic book depth' to them. Sorry.

What will they have? The movies, of course, one or two short comic arcs that I've been convinced to pick up that will have little to no effect on the continuity, Norse mythology – since I do read that – and any details that I can pick up from other fans or that I research on my own. The result of all of this is usually going to be a sort of fusion that hopefully works and isn't too confounding for anyone.

Series Notes: Herein you will find the sometimes lighthearted, sometimes serious, sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking adventures of Tony, Loki and his many children, most notably Fenrir, Hela and Jörmungandr, and of course the extended family of the Avengers team. Sometimes the stories will transition smoothly from one to the next, sometimes there will be huge jumps. Sometimes they will be incredibly long, other times very short. I plan to write scenes that are widespread across the timeline, from the time the children are truly children all the way until they are fully grown. Occasionally I may put in parts that are sandwiched between stories that are already complete and posted, rearranging the continuity - but hopefully never breaking it.

Basically writing these out as a series instead of a very long, multi-chaptered fic is so I can write those parts that interest me without having to spend months fleshing every little piece out. You'll find places where I'm hinting at things we don't see directly, and may not mention again for some time. Most likely I will get back to it, though perhaps not. This, as well as offering me a measure of convenience, is to give the whole thing a greater sense of realism. After all, you never really know everything that's going on in real life, right?

(No worries though, major and plot necessary details I will come back and cover. If anyone has any real anxiety over something, check out all the installments and if it's not covered yet, leave me comment to remind me about it. :3)

At the moment, I have plans for this to be a series of 18 one-shots of varying length, with the possibility of more. Strap in!






I do not own The Avengers, Norse mythology nor the characters from them. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
Loading...
In the end Loki decided not to enter Valaskjálf’s halls just yet. To enter would mean to don the mantle of an at least moderately obedient son and Prince, to adopt all of the inherent rules and responsibilities, and there was at least one task he had to attend to that would be hindered by such checks. Not many would say that Loki followed more than a nominal level of responsibility as a Prince of the Realm – one of the many presumed reasons for his elder brother being the clear favorite of the Crown – but even he would feel the added burden once he stepped over the threshold. To even move about the city with a reasonable amount of privacy would be too great a presumption.

Loki valued his privacy at all times, but would settle for the time being if it only lasted long enough for this one task. As soon as he entered Valaskjálf all would know of his return. More than enough were already aware.

He left his brother at the gates of their father’s Hall and continued on, intentionally losing himself in the city for some time before bothering to guide his feet.

Loki sought a particular individual. One who, due to his rank and birth, could have spent every one of his days in ease within Odin’s halls, but for his own reasons declined the honor. Much like Loki, he preferred to not feel the weight and fetters of Court life about, though his reasons differed from those of the Prince. And unlike the Prince, he was welcome to take his freedom as often as he wished it. In theory he was a beloved of the Court, he and his brother together, but in recent years his name was forgotten more than not, his presence become an awkward discomfort that none could fully lay aside. So he took himself into the city, to the wilderness, or to other Realms entirely, where his person caused no anxiety and he could breathe without fetters.

Such a wandering habit might have made it difficult for Loki to locate him, but the man had some routines that he held to with a grip of iron. It had taken some time, but Loki had learned those routines and used the knowledge to his advantage.

Once thoroughly lost, Loki found himself, and then found his way to what passed as the ‘low’ part of the city.

The low parts of Asgard were, ironically, those which were built the highest. Here was where the homes and businesses of the city’s citizens attempted to rival that of Valaskjálf in terms of height. They could never quite manage, of course, but standing in a narrow street with buildings over six stories high on either side left one feeling smaller than one would expect.

Using magic to guise himself – he had no desire to be recognized as the Trickster Prince – Loki went about the city as a redheaded youth in a faded blue kyrtill and patched leggings, the pouches at his belt hanging limply. The first alehouse he visited did not house the one he sought, so he moved along to the next, and the next after that. He was fortunate in that on only the third attempt he spotted his quarry, sitting alone in a corner, drinking from a simple wooden cup, eyes facing outward over the rest of the hall’s milling patrons.

Loki grinned to himself, ordered a full cup of the house’s ale, and began to slowly circle his way to the solitary man.

The alehouse was full of patrons, many standing since no chairs or benches remained, and all trying to speak over the top of their neighbors. They jostled and shouted and laughed, men and women alike, a few children running between the legs of the adults and adding to the general chaos. None noticed the slip of an adolescent threading his way through them all, cradling a cup and eyes fixed on the one man who seemed content to sit apart and silent.

It took some time, but Loki arrived at the corner table. He was sure he had not been spotted, either by his prey or by anyone else as anything more than a lad in worn clothing. He was within reach of the man, at his left side and as near to behind him as the corner and table would allow.

The man who was his target was dark of hair and beard, both reasonably close cropped but showing signs of being allowed to grow a little wild. His clothes, his kyrtill, leggings, boots, leg wraps and cloak were all stained and dusty, and his air betrayed an almost animal watchfulness. Loki, who knew the man’s habits, thought it obvious that he had just returned from one of his hunting trips in the thick forests that surrounded Asgard. A longer glance confirmed his supposition – a large leather bag, his bow and arrows all lay near at hand.

Moving casually, Loki angled his body to free his right hand. He was close enough that he could strike with his dagger and slay the man where he sat. He could do it easily, and he knew he had yet to be detected… but the distance was just enough that some other set of eyes might catch him in the act and raise an alarm. To maintain his anonymity he would have to edge a little closer, so they were so close that none would see the knife pass between their bodies before it passed into his.

Loki shifted closer, as though to avoid the wide gesticulations of the man beside him, his hand slipping beneath his short cloak to take hold of the hilt of his dagger--

“Hello, Loki.”

The voice was soft, quiet, lost to all save Loki. He paused, his hand frozen, fingers a hair’s breadth from the dagger hilt. When he turned it was not with the stormy expression of a foiled assassin, but with a grin that was matched by the man who had been his prey.

“Höðr!” he called, his voice lighter than normal to match his young disguise. “You are returned from your hunt!”

Höðr smiled easily, turning his head towards Loki. His eyes, when they came around, did not focus on him. Both of them were a ghostly, silverfish white. Höðr was completely blind. It was not a condition he had been born with, nor was he elderly. To anyone who looked, the cause of his disability was plain: thick tendrils of white scars branched away from his eyes like crow’s feet and bridged over his nose. On his left side the white trail curved upward in a sweep and whitened a wide swath of his dark hair to snowy paleness. Höðr was a bowman, one of the finest to be found in his youth, and had been too slow with a sword when an enemy had come to close quarters with him.

No longer the warrior he had once been, Höðr now spent his hours keeping his own company.

While one could expect his history to leave him morose, Loki never found him so. He grinned wide in Loki’s direction, sightless eyes shining knowingly. “If I am just returned, then so are you, Prince. Midgard, was it?”

“How is it you found me out, my friend?” he asked once he was settled. “I could swear I made no more noise than a mouse.”

Höðr held up a finger as he often did when he was about to expound some wisdom. He was not older than Loki, but he liked to play that he was. “But even mice are not silent. They have footfalls that a hunter might hear if he listens closely. And you have very distinctive footfalls.”

The Prince rolled his eyes, making a tsking noise with his tongue purely for Höðr’s benefit. “Then there is no need to ask how it was that you knew it was I that made it to your side so stealthily. My talents are wasted on you, Höðr.”

“I thought your voice a little too fresh for such a disreputable rogue.” He smirked, tilting his head. “Have you made yourself to be a beautiful slip of a lass just for me?”

Leaning across the table so his mouth was close to the hunter’s ear, Loki dipped his voice low. “Always just for you, but an even more beautiful slip of a lad.”

“Shameless,” Höðr laughed, not at all taken aback by Loki’s nearness or the revelation of his guise. The two of them had been friends long enough to play at this game often. Höðr had never been much shocked by Loki’s brazen attitude, and time had served to make him even less so, as well as confidant that any advances were made in fun and any rejection of them not like to cause any rift or retribution.

Rearranging himself across the table so he was half sprawled, half sitting, Loki took a long pull of his ale. It was far from the fine mead of Odin’s halls, but was good ale all the same, neither weak nor watered down. He savored the warmth of it as he swallowed, allowing himself to enjoy a moment full of nothing but the present before he had to turn, once again, to the future and the long game of politics that life as an Asgardian Prince had inured him to.

“Tell me,” he said, his eyes scanning the room. “What else have you caught with those sharp ears of yours, my friend? Anything of interest to a shameless, flirtatious sneak such as myself?”

Höðr scoffed and motioned around them to the room he could not see. “What could I have heard in a din such as this?”

“Do not mock one who has made such a pastime his art, Höðr.” He lowered his voice, sure that he would still be able to catch the words when his lips were not beside his ear. “Even without your sight, are you not still the most skilled of huntsmen? I have seen you pick out the beating heart of a mouse and send your arrow true to silence it. Amid this ‘din’ you can pick out a single set of footfalls and know from who they come. You may hear whatever you wish, if you but put your mind to it.”

Höðr shrugged, having enough self-awareness to look mildly uncomfortable when his skill with bow and arrow, still as sharp as in the days when he had been whole, were mentioned. Out of any of the Æsir or the Court, Loki alone who knew just how little Höðr’s blindness had affected his skill. All knew that he often went out with a bow and full quiver, but only Loki had followed him into the green. Only Loki had accompanied him, unseen and entirely unheard, and witnessed for himself what a formidable huntsman he remained, what a skilled warrior he still could be if he were only given his place in the ranks. It was probably due to that one day of tailing him into the wilderness that made him learn the sound of Loki’s steps so thoroughly, so he might never be so taken off his guard again.

“Sharp or no,” he said placidly, “my ears cannot pick out that which is not there. Nothing of import have I heard.”

The taste of lies crossed Loki’s lip again. He shrugged though Höðr could not see. “Then entertain me with trivialities. I am home and have only mind numbing functions and brutish feasts to populate my days to come. Fill my head with the ridiculous if that is all you have to offer, it will not be wasted.”

The huntsman sighed a long-suffering sigh, as though he were an old man forced to oversee a difficult child that was not even his own. “Well,” he said, scratching the back of his head, “if it is the ridiculous you seek, then my ears have picked up a word that comes by again and again, almost as though there were some closeness attached to it: Ragnarök.”

He all but whispered the word, conscious of the press of people on all sides, of the discomfort that would ripple outward at that disruptive pebble.

Loki snorted derisively. “Since the world began idle tongues have wagged about the day it will end.”

Höðr nodded, the worried look not quite leaving him. “I know this as well as you, and would give such chatter no more thought than the quaking fears of the weak hearted. Such talk is always about in some corner or other. But the talk has spread, becoming louder with each day. Tis not the way of such talk to increase with time.”

This was true enough, Loki reflected. The specter of Ragnarök was a looming shadow on the future’s horizon that none could quite forget; always there, a part of the future that Odin and the Norns saw so clearly. A day when Yggdrasil would burn, the sun grow dark, and all save a pitiful handful would fall before a great enemy. It was a part of everyone, this knowledge, unshakable. Yet it hardly trespassed upon one’s daily life. One could hardly function if all they concerned themselves with was when the worlds would end.

Just look at Heimdall.

Most accepted the end as it was seen by the Allfather and thought no more of it. There were occasional resurgences of the anxiety surrounding Ragnarök when weak hearts and idle tongues combined, but always it died down before the idlers could whip themselves into a frenzy. This case could likely be traced to the long stretch of peace Asgard had enjoyed, perhaps too long a stretch; it gave people’s imaginations free reign to wander. Loki said as much to Höðr, who seemed to consider it.

“Perhaps,” he conceded eventually. “I can think of no other explanation why such talk would surge now. I hope that you are right in your assessment.”

When Loki asked him what he meant by that, Höðr demurred, refusing to cite any particular reason why he would be concerned over idle speculation.

“What else have you heard, then, beat of my heart?”

Höðr’s lips twisted a little at the overly affectionate title. He grew thoughtful. “Perhaps it is nothing at all, but other words have reached me, and they fit the category of ridiculous very well. There is word that Mímir spoke. He spoke aloud his seeing speech and one was there to hear, but twas not the Allfather.”

“Mayhap twas you, darling one. You have taken his charming habit of twisting your tongue into riddles.”

“Artful mocker, you are one to speak so,” Höðr commented drily. “It is a rumor that persists, though it is but minor. Someone has spoken to the bodiless one and gleaned his wisdom without Odin’s leave.”

That would be a difficult feat to achieve indeed. Mímir was one of the few whose sight could be said to match that of the Allfather’s, and as such the old spear topper and his riddle-laden visions were guarded jealously. Mímir was hidden away inside Valaskjálf, in his father’s private rooms, behind doors bolted with clever locks and cleverer spells. It would take someone cunning, determined, and more than a little brain addled to attempt it. Not to mention, they would have to have a very good reason to tempt Odin’s wrath. No idle question would justify such a risk.

Loki shook away his musings, and continued to prod Höðr for more that he had heard. He was a quiet man, much given to simply listening to what went on around him, and Loki was determined to pick the wheat from the chaff of all he had heard in the few weeks since they had last shared words.

There was very little the blind huntsman could offer up beside what he had already told. There were some tales of the lower ranks at Court tangling themselves in self-made drama, one or two that might lead to minor scandals – Loki noted these for later, they might prove interesting. There were also some amusing anecdotes involving the patrons that surrounded them, which were nothing of import but which were entertaining. Loki drank until his cup ran dry once, twice, three times before he was satisfied that Höðr had told everything that he would. Not all that he knew, perhaps, but all that he would tell. It was enough for now.

Loki was standing to his feet, being sure to sway as a slight-framed youth he appeared to be would sway after three full cups, a warm flush splashed across the bridge of his nose and his cheeks, when Höðr cleared his throat. It was a very particular clearing of the throat that had him stop and squint back at his friend blearily.

Höðr motioned for him to come closer, which Loki did, wondering how it was that Höðr knew that he was looking in the right direction to see him beckon.

He came close, still swaying, and lay a hand on the huntsman’s arm to let him know he was close and to look as though he were steadying himself on the bigger man. When Loki thought he was near enough, Höðr surprised him by leaning even closer, pulling the Prince by his shoulder until his lips brushed his ear.

“Have a care for yourself in Valaskjálf,” he breathed, barely audible though Loki could feel his breath. “There are whispers, whispers that say the Trickster Prince had found himself some new trinket in his travels in Midgard. Some new bauble to make him more to be feared than trusted.” Höðr paused, his fingers digging painfully into the flesh of Loki’s shoulder. “Step lightly, my Prince. Know you well that not all hold you dear. Fear and rumor will work against you, even if there is no truth to either.”





Loki strode through the vaulted halls of his home. He was nearly to the door of his private chambers and had yet to meet more than an occasional servant or the standing guards stationed at regular intervals. News of his return had doubtless reached those to whom it would mean anything, but no one hindered his progress. Whatever it was Odin wished to see him about, it did not require his immediate presence.

He was grateful. Höðr’s warning and the pain of fingers digging into his shoulder was fresh in his mind. He needed a little time to think, to reassess before he faced the Allfather.

The chambers of his mother and father were directly attached to the courtyards of the Royal Wing, those of Thor and Sif just adjacent, and Loki’s rooms the farthest away. This was proper as his station of second Prince, and ordinarily it annoyed him. Not owing to of any supposed honor in being nearest the shaded gardens, but because the distance from the outside made it just that little bit more difficult to make discreet exits and entrances. If he felt the urge to escape for a night of solitude, for example, to avoid having to light foot his way through practically all of Valaskjálf, then he would have to creep past the door of Thor and Sif, then Odin and Frigg. The same difficulties were presented when returning.

Just now he found he preferred this arrangement. When using the main gate, if he were given that ‘honorable’ chamber at the extreme end of the Royal Wing, then he would be passing those doors as well as the rest of a wakeful Hall.

Once within his rooms he bolted the door behind him – a superficial protection – then waved the flat of his hand over it, murmuring a quick, musical spell. It was one of his personal designs, meant to act as a light physical barrier against intrusion, but more as a heavy shield against magical methods of spying and a sophisticated alarm for the same. Anyone attempting to breach his door by force would find a very obvious magical reinforcement that would present moderate difficulty in breaking, while anyone trying to look in on him from afar would likely be repelled by the same barrier before they were even aware it was there. The spell was designed in such a way that should anyone break through it by stronger magic, then Loki would be instantly aware of it. Should he happen to be in the middle of anything he would rather prying eyes not see, he could modify his behavior accordingly. The only one whose sight it would not block was Heimdall’s, whom Loki had long ago decided would make a fuss if he found his view blocked.

A more sophisticated charm was required to befuddle his vision.

Loki leaned against the heavy oak door and sighed, running a hand through the red hair of his boyish guise. As his fingers carded through his hair darkened, smoothed down, and became his own again. He rid himself of the rest of his guise as he would rid himself of a set of clothes, stepping out of one flesh into the much more comfortable skin of his everyday self.

Within moments he stood as himself, casting his eyes over the chaotic mess of his private sanctuary.

His chambers were like any other of the Royal Wing, consisting of three large rooms all connected to each other. The first was the largest, meant for relaxation and the entertaining of guests. Quite often Frigg would entertain Ladies of the Court, or hold less formal but still very official councils. Thor often used his for loud gatherings of his fellow warriors, parties which Loki had no trouble hearing even through thick stone walls.

Loki, not one for large groups of people in his private quarters, utilized the space by converting it into a workshop. Here was where he studied his arcane arts, wove together new spells, experimented with mixtures and devices. Tables, bookshelves and cupboards cluttered the space, which were in turn each cluttered with the tomes, tools and materials of his craft. It was a glorious, chaotic creative mess that provided him hours upon hours of peace, and which his mother despaired of. It was not the practice of magic which she disapproved of, but his haphazard methods. She had long since abandoned any attempt to train more methodical approaches into her son.

Beyond this first chamber lay two more, one a comparatively small all-purpose room, which could be used as a bath, a meal nook or a library depending on the occupant’s taste – Loki used his as a catch-all for those supplies he was not using at the moment. The other was a cozy bedchamber.

The chaos here was not nearly so pronounced as in the main room. Here the spread of Loki’s belongings was restricted mainly to tomes and sheaves of parchment, quills and inkwells, his provisions for reading and note taking. There might have been clothes strewn about, but Loki was disorganized, not dirty. Clothing and armor were stored in their proper places, out of sight.

He closed the bedroom door behind him and with a lazy twitch of his fingers his hearth came to gently glowing life. It was the one magic he had never had to study and which so many others struggled with; an affinity with flame. Since his childhood it had come easily to Loki, to call heat from the cold. Now it gave him mellow light and just enough warmth to chase off the lingering chill in the stones. The windows he kept covered and shuttered, closing out the darkening world for a time.

Loki stripped away his clothes, piling them all neatly into a basket for the laundry maids until he stood only in his linen undershirt. He stretched luxuriously and lay down in the blankets, furs and pillows of his bed. He let his breathing slow and his muscles slacken, his mind lulled by the play of shadows over wall and tapestry, his bed feeling ever so soft beneath him, soothing him towards sleep…

Almost as though he were muttering nonsense in half-sleep, Loki spoke a very specific sequence of words into the air. Nothing seemed to change. He remained still a few moments longer, making certain that the charm was doing what it was intended to do. Then he sat up.

For an instant there was a feeling of duality, disorientation, and then everything settled. He, Loki, was sitting up in bed, legs hanging over the edge and eyes drawn to the fire, while another Loki, a shadow-charm Loki still lay in the furs, breathing slowly and evenly, eyes closed.

This was the final magic he had designed to fool Heimdall’s gaze. His sight was limited, but he could see within Valaskjálf easily enough, and he was not above doing just that to keep tabs on those who lived within. He certainly never hesitated to do so with Loki, and with him just returned from Midgard he would be even more watchful; especially if he were aware of the rumors that had Höðr so alarmed.

Loki frowned into the flickering embers, the first time he allowed anything more sober than mock-concern show on his face in weeks. Better to hide behind the grin, show nothing but confidence and a devil-may-care attitude. It always left others unbalanced, uncertain. Behind locked doors and magical walls, he could let the final disguise fall away. His brows came low over his black and gemstone eyes as he considered all he had heard since his return.

He hadn’t expected the details of his Midgardian visit to be so generally known. He wasn’t sure just how detailed the details were, but… They said he possessed a trinket from the human world, something that was powerful, that could make him dangerous. Something that came to be known to his brother, which made him and Höðr both fear for him. Something that his father wanted to speak with him about, ‘as early as could be arranged.’

There was no doubt in Loki’s mind that it was his journey to Midgard that Odin wanted to discuss; he only wondered how much the Allfather knew. Did he know all, or only a portion? Did he know of the village, of the blacksmith that resided there? Had he heard the prayer, that desperate, clawing plea for life that had drawn Loki there? Did he know the deal that had been struck, the nature of the ‘trinket’ he had secretly brought back, or the true treasure he had gained because of it?

If he did know, then did he know why Loki had done all this?

He rubbed at his temples with long fingers. This was why he hated coming home, always the feints within feints, the careful maneuvering, trying to guess where one’s opponent would be three moves ahead. Like a game of tafl with men and women as the pieces, chance and fate the tumbling dice.

Confidant that Heimdall, who was sure to be at his usual spying, would only see his shadow-self sleeping peacefully, Loki settled beside the hearth.

The flames, flickering liquidly beneath the surface of the coals, worked to hypnotize him with their tranquil dance. His affinity with the flames ran deep, he could feel it down to his marrow. The tiny, infant flames at his fingertips called out for him to release them, allow them to burn and consume and rage, confined no more to their prison of hearth and stone. That primal desire was echoed in him, who also desired the ultimate freedoms, but in who still lay the structures of restraint. Loki could check himself, did every day, from succumbing to that desire that ate away at his bones. He was the fire, but he was more than the fire, more than the need to consume and destroy.

It was important to remember that. It would be so easy to forget, to give in, but he must not. He must remember: he was more.

Loki plunged his hands into the glowing coals, digging beneath the ashes, beneath the grate, to the little trap door beneath it all that lay flush with the stones, but only when the hearth was alive with flame. If anyone were to look when the hearth was cold, they would find nothing. Only when it was lit would this hidden little door even exist, its small compartment open for who came through the flames.

Deftly his fingers pried open the door, fished inside the compartment and lifted out the little box of wrought silver and iron. Loki lifted it to his eye and examined it. Such a little thing to already be causing so much fuss, when really, he ought to be the only one who knew of its existence. And yet he had been given, in the few hours since his return, every reason to be glad he had snuck the ironmonger’s heart back here, had hidden it within its iron bound box beneath the flickering embers.

The box trembled in Loki’s hands, the heart within still beating out its steady rhythm, the rhythm of the forge. Loki had thought only of finding a place where none would find the box when he had picked the hearth, where none but he could find it even if they knew where it was. But it seemed-- it felt as though the ironmonger’s heart appreciated its hiding place, so near the fire.

Perhaps he ought not to be surprised at that. The ironmonger had given so much of himself to the forge and all it contained, to anvil and hammer and molten metal, it ought to be no shock that his heart was already one with the fire by the time Loki reached him.

It was interesting, and made the task of reading that same heart all the easier; the heart that was one with the flames and the god who was the flames.

Hearts were complex things, though they appeared simple. They loved, they hated, and they could be swayed by a word or hold staunchly for years to a single principle, unmovable though the world came down all around them. They could remember the slightest of crimes or forgive the gravest. They were things that seemed so easily influenced, that could be broken and torn and somehow come back together again.

The very heart that Loki cradled in his fingers, it had been shot with an arrow. A scrape, it was true, but enough to kill, and still it beat on as though the wound were a mere inconvenience. He wondered, feeling the strength of it through the metal box, how long it would have survived even without his help?

He shook his head at his own wandering thoughts. No, it could not have survived long. The ironmonger was strong, but he was a mortal man, and would not have lived much beyond his blood-choked prayer.

His heart had been broken before the arrow had rent it open, broken and then patched together again with rage and pride. Not a good combination, but it worked well enough to continue beating. In the ironmonger’s heart, Loki could detect the bitter aftertaste of sorrow – the man’s childhood, bound up with memories of his mother – the ache of resentment – the Great Smith, his father, and the expectations the two of them had for each other – and the acidic taste of hatred – the ironmonger’s continuing need to best his father at his craft, to become the name that was known to all, whatever the method.

It was all more or less as Loki expected to find, though perhaps felt more deeply than he had thought. With the heart back in his hands and time to truly feel it, more came to him.

Doubt lingered in this heart. Not doubt in his abilities, at least not all of it, but doubt in his self. The ironmonger doubted who he was, what he did and why. He set himself to task and yet, privately, he questioned his own motivations. Intrigued, Loki delved deeper.

He found hatred, and thought for a moment that it was more of the same that he had found before, that which was aimed at the Great Smith. But no, this was hatred aimed at himself, accompanying the doubt. Loki paused, puzzled, and nudged this twisted knot. He had met the ironmonger, and he wasn’t sure he would credit the man with self-hate. Yet here it lay, in his heart where Loki could see. But though he had found it, it would not uncoil itself when he tried to persuade it to. There were secrets this heart still guarded, and would not give up for the asking. Smiling to himself, Loki accepted the check and backed away. He owned this heart, after all. Eventually all of its secrets would be his. He had plenty of time to wait.

Leaving the doubt and the hate behind, Loki went deeper to find the expected third of a familiar triad – fear. Where the first two came the third was sure to put in an appearance. When he looked, Loki was not disappointed.

Fear lay before him, in all of its predictable forms. Fear of failure, fear of death, all of the myriad fears of a human being of incredibly limited lifespan.

Two particular fears stuck out to Loki: the fear of loss, and the fear of the unknown. These were both common in Midgardians, but they were unexpectedly sharp and stark amid all the rest. It took a moment for Loki’s internal vision to shift, for the landscape of the ironmonger’s inner workings to come into clear enough focus for Loki to realize what he was sensing.

These were new fears, ones that the ironmonger was experiencing at that moment.

Loki narrowed his focus, trying to determine form where these fears came. Without much surprise he felt that the unknown, at least part of it, was Loki himself. Deep in his heart, the ironmonger feared the god that had saved him, which was quite a sensible view to take for a human. The rest of the fear was aimed internally, towards the ironmonger. The ironmonger considered a part of himself unknown, and was afraid of it.

The god frowned, decided to leave this mystery for later, to turn his focus to the fear of loss, so new it must have reared up within the last few days…

Loki froze before the hearth, fingers around the box tightening.

He had to return to Midgard. He had not planned to for some weeks or months, but that had to change. He had to go to Midgard, to Askival.

He had to go now.
The Ironmonger's Heart, Part III.ii
Previous Chapter: The Ironmonger's Heart, Part III.i
Next Chapter: Coming Soon(ish)!


Plot: Tony was the son of the greatest Smith known, and determined to make his own name more renown than his sire's. It's a dream that nearly came to an abrupt end when he was shot with one of his very own weapons. He prayed to the Gods to save him, but he didn't expect the one who answered, nor what He would want in return... An Iron Man, Thor, Norse mythology fusion AU.

Author's Foreword: Once again, it’s been a long time between chapters. I apologize to everyone who’s been waiting so patiently, and hope the nice long chappy makes up for it.

So, I’ve done a detailed outline for the whole fic, and I’m projecting we’ll end up at about 15 chapters. This is subject to change, as some chapters may end up fusing together and some others may spawn of into new ones. One character in particular is already trying to make himself into more than I had planned for, so we’ll see.

I’ve come to realize two things in the writing of this chapter. One, I really, really want to do my own interpretation of the Norse myths without the Marvel fusion. Two, this is probably the most complex fic I have ever written.

Prepare thyselves for much lore! Detailed notes after the chapter.

Beta: SkyTurtle

Genre: Historical, Drama, Romance

Pairing: Frostiron (Tony Stark / Loki Laufeyson)

POV: Loki

Rating: T

Part III Word Count: 13,107


Skywalker: This is actually one of Loki’s many alternate names, so we get the fun of a flying Loki. :)

Bifrost, Asgard: We’re going for a mixture of myth and Marvel - as we may have noticed - and this includes how everything looks and is set up in Asgard.

Valaskjálf: This is one of three of Odin’s halls from mythology, the other two being Gladsheim and Valhalla. Out of the three, Valaskjálf seemed to fit the Marvel image the best. If the Marvel version has a proper name, I was unable to find it.

Discworld: No, not Pratchett’s Discworld. In the Marvel-verse, this is how Asgard appears. It works.

Heimdall: His powers are more in line with the mythology, his appearance with Marvel, and his set up in Asgard with myth, such as with Gjall and Himinbjorg. Also, it’s worth noting that in the mythology, it’s Heimdall who’s seen as Loki’s greatest adversary, not Thor.

Sif: Another mix. She’s a warrior as she is in Marvel, but married to Thor as she is in myth. Sif’s hair comes from a specific myth where Loki cut it all off, then to placate her and Thor had to go to Svartálfaheimr to get her a replacement. This adventure led to a few things, including the forging and winning of Thor’s hammer and Loki getting his mouth sewn shut. For those among you who are the investigative type, the shoring of Sif’s hair should give you a small clue as to Loki and Sif’s relationship. Beyond the antagonistic.

Heimdall & Sif: In Marvel they’re brother and sister - which is interesting considering the films - but not in myth. They are here because shenanigans.

Rooks collecting baubles: This is a myth, more commonly known as crows or ravens collecting and hoarding shiny objects. They actually don’t, but the myth is common. (Rooks are corvids, just like crows, ravens and jackdaws.)

Ægir: From Wikipedia: ‘Ægir is a sea giant, god of the ocean and king of the sea creatures in Norse mythology. He is also known for hosting elaborate parties for the gods.’ Those familiar with myth should have an idea where things are going with the invitation to dine at his hall.

Odin, Thor & Loki: In Marvel, Odin is father to both, with Loki being adopted - and unknown to be in the films until discovered. In myth, Odin is still Thor’s father, but Loki is Odin’s brother - by blood binding. As tempting as it was to go myth, we’re going with Marvel.

Höðr: Little is known about this god in mythology, and I’m familiar with him in the Marvel-verse, so this particular rendition is entirely my own, using cues taken from mythology. He is brother to Baldr.

Redheaded Loki: A redheaded Loki is closer to the myth version… and I added him because I have a weakness for redheads. Call it fan service for the author.

Ale & mead: Mead is a wine made from honey, and not usually available to ‘the masses.’ Ale was a much more common drink, usually made from barley, which even children were known to drink daily.

Wooden cup: Yes, drinking from horns is a more recognized image, but once again reserved for more formal occasions and/or high ranking individuals. Cups and bowls were more common, and much more likely to find in a alehouse.

Ragnarök: The Norse end of days. It’s quite detailed and badass, I recommend Googling it. In this story the basics are known to everyone, the specifics to a mere handful. Who comprises this handful is a secret.

Mímir: This is an Æsir who was given in trade to the Vanir (along with Honir in exchange for Njord, Frey and Freya). The Vanir eventually decided that they were tricked into a raw deal, decapitated Mímir and sent the head back to Odin. Odin brought it back to life and speech, and now it acts as a council to Odin, knowing many truths unknown to others.

Loki’s element: In Marvel - especially fanon - Loki’s element is ice, him being a frost giant and all. In myth he is typically associated with fire. There’s a little debate whether this is historically accurate or not, but even if he wasn’t associated with fire then, he certainly is by modern Heathens. So what are we doing here? We’re going to try for both.

Tafl: A game dating as far back as the 4th century, with many more modern variants. The exact rules are unknown, but its simplest to think of it as a kind of chess with dice. (Again, Google for more info.)

Names: Some names I have down in the anglicized forms, others not. This comes down to personal tastes on my part. For a while I had Odin down as ‘Óinn,’ but decided against it.

Where is TONY?: Plenty of Loki, now where is Tony? …we’ll see him next chapter. We’ll see Tony and Loki both, interacting in the next chapter.


Special thanks goes out to those wonderful readers who have shown so much interest in this story, and to everyone for being so patient with me and my long time between updates.

Thanks for reading, until next time!




I do not own The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Norse mythology nor the characters from them. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Preview pic is a modified screencap from Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr.
Loading...
While the Ironmonger was left to grapple with his new self and the thoughts that twisted like vipers in his grasp, there was considerable stir in faraway Asgard.

It was known among the Æsir that Loki had some new scheme, a new plot taking shape in his head. None could say for certain what it was, what it might be meant to accomplish or what trickery Loki would use to bring it about, but these things need not be known absolutely. It was enough to know that Loki schemed to send rumors flying from one tongue to the next, until all of Asgard chattered with speculation.

‘What was Loki planning this time?’ went the talk. Who would fall foul his wicked schemes, what kind of embarrassing mess would they find themselves in as a result?

Many of Asgard heard, wondered, speculated and then thought no more of Loki and his mischievous ways. To cause turmoil was Loki’s way, they reasoned, and there would be no stopping the young Prince from having his fun. Some others, such as Odin the Allfather, Frigg and Iðunn, did not seem to hear these wonderings at all and certainly never added their voices to the speculations.

But there were those in whom these rumors found fertile ground, took root and flourished. To many Æsir Loki was not a friend, nor a nuisance, but an enemy to be watched. Neither the protection of his station, his father Odin nor his blood bound brother Thor could shield him from their suspicions. To them any word of a new scheme was cause enough to watch him.

Such was the lay of the land in Asgard where it came to the Trickster, but the Trickster was used to such sentiment, and neither rumor nor mistrust among his fellow Asgardians could upset his routine.






Loki, the Trickster God, danced on an early morning breeze that coiled high above the rocky, rolling landscape of Midgard. He twirled as a gust brushed past him, flitted through a passing flock of starlings, bounded higher and higher into the sky, springing off of soft whorls of cloud before diving back to the earth, wild laughter bursting from his lips as he plummeted.

This was absolute freedom, and the Skywalker reveled in the feel of it whipping over his skin.

With a flick and a twist of his body, he pulled out of the suicidal dive, lean body less than an inch away from the rocky turf, and laughed again. He loved Midgard, loved it in a way that none save perhaps Odin could understand or share. Everything was so simple here, so straightforward, so open, so easy that it was almost impossible not to be carried away in the arms of vagrant winds. What was there in Midgard that was of value to any of the other Realms, that could have them clawing for control of it with each other? Nothing. There was nothing here that anyone coveted for their own, so it was left alone, alone to its simplicity and its freedom.

It was those very qualities which Loki valued the most. Freedom, simplicity, opportunity, all things that were denied him elsewhere, or which he had to fight so hard to gain were at every turn in this Realm. Odin understood that, it was one of the reasons he came here so often himself. He had seen his adoptive father, guised as human or animal as he walked the mortal Realm, aware that he was observed, though sometimes not, Loki thought. Occasionally they came together to explore, carouse or cause trouble. Though Odin would never describe his meddling with the humans as anything as lowly as mischief or pranks, the results were often the same.

Loki was not so fastidious, and the humans were such a delight to play with.

Like a leaf on the breeze, Loki blew into a town full of the creatures, each going about their lives in blissful ignorance of his presence, and too self-absorbed to be much aware even of each other. He flitted amongst them, and though they did not see him or hear his laugh, they felt the influence of his passing.

In one home the milk left to stand on a table soured in its pitcher, less than an hour out of the cow. In another an old woman with more life behind than before her suddenly laughed aloud at a memory forgotten for many years, startling her granddaughter. In a darkened bedroom he heard secrets shared between two lovers and carried them away, whispered them into ears so they were secrets no longer. On the edge of town he set a traveler’s steps along the wrong path, sending him to adventures, perhaps towards his fortune, perhaps to his death.

And then he was gone, blown through and out of the little town to tumble along his way, his touch never felt but experienced by those he left behind.

He flew high above, spiraling up and up until he was satisfied with his height. With all the weight of a thought, he alighted on a shred of cloud, the leather of his boot sinking a little in its giving mass before coming to a halt. From this shifting perch, Loki looked down to watch the result his presence would have on the human town, the effects of his little touches expanding outward like ripples. Some were too light to go far, but others, they would spread out and out, touch and intersect and overlap and create brand new ripples, a pattern growing far beyond what he had done to start it, beyond anything that even he could predict.

It was a slow, chaotic, beautiful dance, all begun with the barest of contact. Yes, he loved Midgard and all of its magnificent simplicity. He loved to see the exquisitely complex patterns he could fracture it all into, again and again.

Perched high above the world, short cloak flapping about his shoulders, Loki grinned into the wind with a smile like the edge of a knife.





The dizzying journey across the Bifrost ended abruptly, depositing Loki in a large, shining room with gently curving walls and ceiling. As he stood still the few seconds it took to regain his balance, he observed that the room was indeed spinning very slowly around the stable, polished floor. This was nothing strange; the arrival point of the Bifrost in Asgard always spun as it was in use, the globe shaped building rotating on its axis as travelers walked the bridge and coming to a halt again once the bridge was clear. Even as he watched the concave walls were stilling, the intricate, knotted patterns worked into their surface becoming clear.

No one else stood in the Bifrost’s checkpoint with him, which surprised him somewhat. He hadn’t told anyone where he was going – he never did – but even without volunteering that information, he could usually depend on one person always being on hand to ‘welcome’ him back.

He shrugged to himself, straightened his kyrtill and left the building to follow the glowing rainbow bridge to the City of Asgard, his boots making no noise across the polished floor.

It had been morning in Midgard. Here it was late in a clear afternoon, soon to become a crisp evening. The globe building stood on a tiny spit of land, which in turn was perched precariously on the edge of, essentially, the Realm of Asgard.

Stepping out of the building, Loki’s eyes were met with a narrow inlet of glittering sea, crossed through with the rainbow bridge that began at the very foot of the door and led to the tiered City of Asgard, his father’s hall, Valaskjálf , standing tall and proud at its center. To the left and right he could see mountains rising up out of the sea, and were he to turn around he would see a roiling, rising mist as the waters around him tumbled over the edge of Asgard into oblivion.

The very edge of Asgard was a literal edge. Unlike Midgard or any other Realm, Asgard was not a globe hanging in the void of space, but something akin to a shield on its side. All of the lands, seas and inhabitants of Asgard existed on a single side, and for those who were close enough to its rim, they could bear witness to something no other Realm could boast. Beyond the edge of Asgard, through the spray of a never ending sea as it poured away, was the universe. So close one felt as though they could reach out and touch other galaxies as they hung, was all of the cosmos, bare and unfiltered. It was a sight unmatched in any other Realm. To stand on the very brink of the world and gaze out into infinity, the roaring of a dying ocean rumbling through one’s bones, was to either feel in complete control of one’s destiny or to feel utterly insignificant.

But that was not the sight which arrested his attention now. He had finally spotted the figure he’d expected to find awaiting him when he’d arrived.

Heimdall came down the Bifrost with a purposeful step, his golden, pupil-less eyes locked on Loki. He was a big, broad shouldered warrior charged with the guardianship of the Bifrost, and by extension Asgard as a whole. It was a position bestowed on him before Loki’s birth, given because of his particular talents. It was said that he could see for leagues during night or day, even into far distant Realms, with hearing so keen he could make out the wool as it grew on the sheep of those Realms as well. Many said there was nothing at all that Heimdall failed to see or hear, and Loki had seen enough of the man’s talents to know where such suppositions came from, and that they were not entirely without weight.

He also knew well enough, through careful observation and a few even more careful experiments that those suppositions were also not entirely true. There was a trick to Heimdall’s apparent omnipotence, and it wasn’t as complete as he would have those around him believe. It was still impressive, but Loki knew where some of the blind spots in Heimdall’s vision lay, and guarded that knowledge closely. One never knew when it might be useful to know how to become invisible, even from allies.

The warrior wore his armor, as he did every day, with his horn Gjall at his hip, ready to be sounded at the first sign of trouble coming over the Bifrost. There was a prophesy – there were always prophesies – that the end of Asgard would come from across the Bifrost, and Heimdall took his guardianship of it very seriously. His home, Himinbjorg, looked over the Bifrost from a near cliff, so even while not on active duty he might watch and listen for the end to approach. When it did, whatever form it came in, it would find Heimdall ready, and at his call all of Asgard would rise in arms against the threat.

And he hated Loki. For reasons that were understandable, though perhaps a little baffling in their depth, the sentinel despised his younger Prince, perhaps all the more because he was a Prince. Loki did not mind him his animosity. It made him such a delightfully easy target.

When the two of them were a dozen feet apart, Heimdall stopped, planting his feet firm and wide so he remained directly in the center of the bridge. Such a move did not block Loki from continuing on his way, there was plenty of room to either side of him, but to force his Prince to give way was just the kind of casual insult that he was prone to. He stared, unblinking, into the distance somewhere just over Loki’s right shoulder, his face set in a scowl.

Loki grinned at him in a friendly fashion.

“Greetings to you, Heimdall Gatekeeper.”

The stoic man did not reply, nor his golden eyes flicker from their fixed point beyond Loki’s shoulder. For all the worlds he looked like a statue, oblivious to his surroundings.

Loki took a few steps forward and waved a hand before his frozen face. He had to reach a little, for tall as he was, Heimdall was taller still. “Hello, Heimdall? Are we awake this afternoon or merely pretending to be? Do you intend to play at your guardianship, with eyes open and mind full of dreams?”

The scowl on Heimdall’s face deepened a fraction at the suggestion of being less than alert at his post. Without looking him in the face, he finally spoke. “My mind is full of nothing, save what is before me. Greetings, Loki.”

“I’m flattered to hear you say so,” he said, his smile taking a slightly leering quality before it evaporated completely. “’Loki,’ Gatekeeper?”

The big man’s mouth worked, as though tasting something foul. “Greetings, Prince Loki,” he amended in a slight growl.

Loki’s smile returned, bright and clear. “I thought that was what you said.” He affected a look of concern, studying Heimdall. “You know, I begin to think that you have spent entirely too much time on this bridge all alone. It has dulled your wits, my friend, having no one to sharpen them on. After all of these years, a simple greeting somehow eludes you?” When that failed to elicit more than a tensing of the other man’s lips, he went on. “Perhaps I should send you some company, someone to banter and exchange clever conversation with, and to keep you warm on your long nights of watching. Perhaps a goat?”

Heimdall’s face darkened with an angry flush, but still he refused to say a word. There wasn’t much that he could say, for though the old watchman made no issue of small insults, he knew better than to be too blunt with one of Odin’s sons.

Loki felt no such restriction, and allowed his tongue to run on. “Though that might be too much to begin with after being so long out of practice. You are only a little younger than my father, after all, and one must not choose too feisty a companion for one so elderly.”

He took a step forward, into Heimdall’s personal space, staring up into the eyes that refused to focus on him but which he knew could see him perfectly well. He held his ground and his stare until finally, grudgingly, the Gatekeeper stepped to a side, just enough to allow him to continue without having to veer his path. Loki took it, taking long, quick steps toward the city. Over his shoulder he called, “I shall see if I can hunt up a toad for you, my friend!”

He didn’t see the other man’s reaction, but he could well imagine it. It was all part of the game that Heimdall had started years ago. He liked to remind Loki quietly but constantly that he, Heimdall, was keeping a close eye on the Prince, in whatever Realm. Most times he was content to do this by his gracious self always awaiting him on his return from other Realms, though he would occasionally drop a hint, a little mention of something specific Loki had done as proof that he could see him wherever he went.

The fact that none of this bothered Loki in the slightest seemed to be completely lost on the old fool. To make matters worse, he could never keep up in the trading of witty banter. It was most distressing.

The walk from the Bifrost and the bridge to Valaskjálf was not an inconsiderable one, but one that he was long used to. If he took the direct route on a fine day such as today then he could be before the gates of his father’s hall in a little over an hour, and then in his own rooms in another fifteen minutes. Unless he decided to take a magical shortcut, of course, then the journey would be over in a blink.

Loki opted for neither route, but ducked down into one of the first side roads that appeared and followed a long, winding path through the city. He rarely took a direct path home, preferring to be as circuitous as possible, seeing and hearing as much of the city as he could every time. There was always something new to learn when one was willing to put themselves in the right way and remain open. He had explored the city so thoroughly over the years that there were some corners he was sure almost no one else was aware of. And, as with the town in Midgard, exploring new ways home offered up so many opportunities for little fits of mischief.

Valaskjálf was just beginning to truly loom over him in his final approach when a very familiar flash of gold caught his eye.

“Sister!”

The woman stopped dead in her tracks and whipped around to face who had hailed her, her golden hair fanning around her and glinting in the sun. No illusion or poetic exaggeration, that. Loki knew better than perhaps any save the lady herself that the locks that fell around her shoulders truly were gold, each strand a cobweb fine wire. Her fine, pretty face clouded in a dark frown when her eye picked out Loki from the thin crowd. She covered the distance between them with quick, angry steps.

“How many times have I told you not to call me that?” she snapped as soon as she was near, with not so much as a word of greeting.

Loki smiled sweetly into her face, contorted as it was with restrained fury. “More times than I have ever said it, gentle sibling of my heart. You should not frown so or you will mar your beautiful face. How then will you charm Thor?”

The barb was an easy one, but it struck true enough. Loki saw something flicker in the lady’s crystal blue eyes, and she drew her head back proudly, endeavoring to look down her nose at him. Without too much effort she was able to manage it. She was a tall woman, fair of face and figure, but not at all frail. She was a warrior of breeding, and it was reflected in her bearing, her quick tone and in her attire. Where many ladies of the courts favored long gowns of fine cloth and intricate design, she chose to wear what was practical as well as fine, with equal acknowledgements towards femininity and combat. Rather than a gown, she wore a long, rust red kyrtill over close fitted leggings and boots with hard soles. At her waist were belted a knife of medium length amongst her pouches, which Loki knew she could use. She could use nearly any weapon put in her hands, and Loki had no doubt that it was only the nonthreatening air of Asgard’s market streets that kept her from having her entire collection of sharp and pointy things belted to her body.

“Say as you will, Trickster,” she said, tone icy. “It would take more than wrinkles to turn his eye from me.”

“Quite true, my dear Sif,” he agreed easily. “Though your face grown seamed and your back bent as a branch, you are still not without your charms. For who could resist the beauty of your golden hair? And that, you know, will last forever.”

Sif glared daggers at him. Of course she knew her golden hair would never dull, as well as he did. For hadn’t it been Loki who had won her golden hair for her from the svartálfr, after he had sheared off her darker locks while she slept?

Before the lady could compose a properly scathing reply, another voice, familiar to them both, called out from behind her and made her smile. It was not a very handsome smile, one tainted by childish arrogance, but it wouldn’t do to point that out, Loki decided.

“Sif, where have you got to?”

Without taking her eyes off of Loki, Sif called back over her shoulder, “Here, my love. I’ve found a familiar face amongst the crowd.”

Within moments they were joined by Thor, Loki’s brother and Sif’s husband. His face split into a wide, genuine smile at the sight of Loki, which was just as sincerely returned. “Brother! Returned from your time on Midgard already?”

Enjoying the brief look of annoyance that flickered across Sif’s face, he shrugged. “For the time being. There is so very little that requires my attention here, I doubt I’ll remain long.”

Thor, over-muscled and seeming almost too large for the narrow street the three of them shared, eyed his brother. “I think perhaps you are growing negligent in your duties, Loki. Our father has let it be known that he would like to speak with you, as early as can be arranged.”

Loki suppressed a sigh, wondering what it was the old man wanted this time. Whenever the Allfather ‘let it be known’ that he wanted words with the younger of his two sons, it never boded well; usually it meant he had been caught at some prank, or was given some new responsibility, or was expected to solve some riddle. He had heard of no brewing troubles, or at least no more than was usual, so it was likely to be something personal. Wonderful.

He glanced at Sif, who was taking hold of Thor’s arm possessively.

Were Loki to go to any Æsir of the court and ask them their opinion of the Lady Sif, he knew that the response would be unvarying. All would swear by their dearest that she was a good woman and a good warrior, fearless and true, and as good a partner to the Prince-in-waiting as could be hoped. Loki couldn’t argue with any of those things, he had seen them all for himself. He had seen her ferocity in battle, knew her equally fierce devotion to his brother, and had seen enough of her in court to know she possessed the kind of shrewd mental agility that was required to negotiate its complex political and social mazes. She could make a formidable Queen, should the day ever come.

Yet to all of this, he out of all the rest of the Court could add something more to his observation of the Lady Sif, his sister by marriage. He could add a single spot of corrosion to her otherwise immaculate character, and she well knew it. That he had refrained from doing so, that he kept back this revelation from her peers, most particularly Thor, infuriated the fair-haired warrior. She mistrusted him for this threat he held over her, and was ever alert to any little thing that could put them on equal footing.

It would be just as well to not have such a sharp pair of ears so near when speaking of Odin with Thor.

“You have recalled me, Thor. Sister Sif.” He smothered his amusement at her twitch - she would not berate him for the familiar title before Thor. “Upon arriving I met a most melancholy figure upon the bridge. After some inspection, I came to believe it was your brother. I promised him that I would find some suitable company to brighten his day, and I can think of none better to fit the call than your beautiful self.”

Sif looked at him suspiciously, clearly seeing that Loki had some ulterior motive for having her leave, some sly insult woven into his words. Before she could think of a way to call him out on these suspicions, though, Thor answered for her.  “It has been some time since we have seen Heimdall away from his post at the Bifrost. Too long. A visit to him sounds the very thing since he will not come to us!”

“Shall we go now, Thor?” Sif asked, guessing at Loki’s aim to separate them and attempting to thwart it.

But Thor, upon glancing at Loki and seeing something in his eyes, deferred. Though he did so with all the subtlety of an ox. “You go ahead, Sif, I will soon follow. There are some things I would discuss with my brother also.”

Grudgingly, and with a warning glance in Loki’s direction, Sif complied with the request, back stiff and boot heels striking the stone street with resounding clacks.

As she was leaving, and making certain he was loud enough to be heard, Loki said, “I find vanity and jealousy are such unattractive qualities, don’t you, brother?” He couldn’t see Sif’s reaction, but he heard the boot strikes stutter a step before continuing on, faster and louder than before. He smiled even as Thor’s face darkened. “I don’t believe she has ever forgotten that her most beautiful feature is all due to me.” He leaned forward, as though imparting some secret. “I think she resents me, brother.”

Thor shook his head tiredly. He was familiar with the games played between brother and wife – familiar enough to be weary of them, but also to know nothing could be gained by trying to interfere. “You should not bait her so, Loki.”

“Why should I not? Tis no fault of mine if m’lady’s pride is so very easily pricked.”

“It gains you nothing to do so. Why insist on turning every hand so firmly against you?”

Loki deflected again, answering question with question. “And why should I pander, when the best that could gain me is forbearance and condescension?” He shook his head, grin flashing. “Rather that hearts should fill with fire at my name, whatever the reason, than with pity or snobbishness.”

“Rather they fill with ire,” Thor muttered darkly. He shook himself, motioned for Loki to follow. “Let us walk, brother, and allow the traffic to continue.”

Loki fell into step beside him, keeping up with his long strides easily as they meandered through the twisting roads of Asgard’s capitol city.

It was a fine day, with clear skies and a freshening breeze blowing in from the sea. The City of Asgard – which was also called Asgard, a failure of imagination that Loki considered almost criminal – was almost entirely encircled by the sea. When the first masons had laid the first stones of the city they had done so with an eye towards defensibility as well as splendor. It was a well-placed caution on their part, no doubt guided by Odin, King even then, as the Æsir were often fallen upon by other races, most notably the Vanir and the Jötuns.

Though, to be sure, Asgard’s quarrels with Vanaheimr had long since been smoothed over and forgotten, or, if not exactly forgotten then tactfully ignored. Whereas Asgard’s relations with Jötunheimr, well… there things were still at odds, perhaps worsened by the fact that one of the giant folk was now considered kin to the Æsir. Loki, weak as he was for one of the giant folk and therefore not much valued by them, was blood brother to one of the most renown fighters in the enemy’s ranks; one whose reputation carried the highest number of slain Jötuns than any other. On the other side of the same coin, there were very few among the Æsir who viewed Loki’s true heritage with anything less than suspicion, often only thinly veiled hostility.

Loki made no never mind about such prejudices. After all, he didn’t trust their so-called friends the Vanir, precisely because they were so blindly trusted by others.

The city was situated on a small outreach of land, which was saved from the designation of ‘island’ by the slenderest of land bridges. In years of high water or during fierce storms the bridge would disappear entirely, and the city became island in truth for a time. The arrangement made defense of the city and the central seat of power a much stronger proposition. When combined with the high wall that encircled it completely and the Bifrost at its step, Asgard made a considerable challenge when on the defense.

Being restricted in how far they could sprawl did not necessarily stop the city from growing. Babies were born, room had to be made. With nowhere else to go, the people of Asgard’s capitol built up.

The streets along which Thor and Loki walked were near to Valaskjálf, which loomed up above all, and here the buildings were restricted to three stories. Further away, structures reached as high six or seven complete floors, turning the streets and allies between into shadow filled gorges. At midday the sun could reach the streets of these places directly, but the rest of the day was always half-lit, much as on an overcast day. But it never felt confining, save those times when too many took to the streets at once, nor gloomy to walk through the city. Construction had been clever and well thought out so that Asgard was a place of pride and wonder, not congestion and confusion. Trees grew in the streets, well cared for and healthy. High above the ground sturdy and graceful bridges spanned between buildings on opposing sides of the street, connecting neighbors and creating an almost web pattern throughout the city.

As the brothers walked, closer and closer to Valaskjálf, the depth of the street away from the sky lessened, their path brightened, and the beauties of their city increased without the sheer height of the buildings around to distract from them.

Thor began his line of talking lightly. “What was it drew you to Midgard this time, Loki, an irresistible prank, a tour of alehouses, a pretty face?”

“All and more, dear brother. The Realm of humans, primitive though it is, is never wanting in its diversions. You should come with me next time.” He glanced at him from the corners of his eyes, gauging. “I’m sure there’s one or two that would suit to distract you from your worries at home.”

“I have no worries at home,” he replied quickly.

“Remember who it is you speak to when you choose to tell tales.”

“Because you are my brother or because you are the master of lies yourself?”

“I’m shocked at such an insinuation from you, Thor!”

The big man shook his head, a familiar look of amused vexation spread over his features. “You seek to distract me, which you only do when there is something you wish to keep concealed. What was it you found in Midgard that so struck your fancy?”

Again Loki’s look sharpened on his brother curiously, he weighed his words carefully. “Why such interest in my travels? Tis not often that you are so persistent in your inquiries, or so curious about what I do. No, normally you want to know as little as possible so that only I can be brought to task for them.”

A look passed over Thor’s face, a shadow of those clouds that he called to being so often. He looked troubled, conflicted. He turned away, and Loki had the strong impression that he did so to see who was near enough to overhear them. When he turned back his brow was furrowed. He shook his head. “No reason, brother,” he said, the taste of lies heavy in his words. “I was merely curious.”

Loki considered calling Thor out on his falsehood, on pressing the line that he so abruptly wished to abandon, but decided against it. Thor was not the quickest-witted of men, but he was not stupid. If he decided that it was unsafe to discuss Loki’s movements out in the open, then there was sure to be a good reason for it. Besides which, he had a fairly good notion what it was that Thor had been tip-toing around. If he were right in that assumption and simply speaking about it was enough to generate alarm and caution, then Loki had some inquiries to make of his own, elsewhere.

“Well, if your idle fancy is so easily blown off its course, let me venture mine: What news of our ever noble home? Have we any imminent wars brewing since I have been away, any conspiracies or stirrings from our neighboring Realms?”

Thor shook his head. “None more than can be expected on any other day. Your clever skills and my hammer will not be called in to play for some time.”

“A pity,” Loki commented, eyes drawn for a moment to a small gathering of city folk, all gossiping and laughing together, oblivious to their surroundings. His fingertips tingled. How simple it would be to make that small knot of gossipers so much more interesting. “Though truly, we can never be said to be unneeded. There will always be difficulties that require the Trickster’s touch, just as there will always be giants to slay.”

They passed by the knot of people, Loki controlling his urges, though he did make note of the faces and was careful to remember all that he had overheard. Fun could be had later if not now. Absorbed enough was he that he missed the questioning glance Thor sent him for his last comment.

“If not war or strife, is there nothing taking place worth a Prince’s knowledge?” He looked back at Thor, his green-and-black eyes flashing. “No scandals, no rumors, no suspicious pregnancies?”

Thor’s lips twisted, making his beard bristle. “If there are, then they have not come to my ears. I do not have the patience to skulk and listen to maid’s talk as you do.”

“Again, it is a pity. You learn more from them then you do from our good father’s advisors on any given day. Perhaps I should advise the advisors of the usefulness of listening to maid’s chatter,” he added thoughtfully.

“The only event that is new since your absence,” Thor went on, hoping to distract him, “is a feast planned some months from now. Much of the Court is to come, including our parents and ourselves.”

This did catch Loki’s interest. Feasts in and of themselves were not necessarily anything of import, but those being hosted by any other than his father and still being able to boast having the Crown Family at table were worth some examination. It usually meant someone or some family was trying to make a good impression on Odin, which in its turn could mean that they wanted to curry favor for some future request. All of this was of interest to Loki. Anything to do with the maneuverings and machinations of the Court was of interest to Loki. He had some considerable pride for his store of knowledge on the various Æsir that orbited the throne, their public faces, their half veiled motivations, and their secrets. Most especially their secrets. He collected them like a rook collected baubles, and his hoard was the largest to be found. How else could he be expected to maneuver so well himself, or to know from which direction to expect the wind to blow next, or where precisely to push at the structure to make it all wobble so well?

“And who it is hosts such a gracious feast?”

At the question Thor laughed. “Has my very clever brother grown so dull in his romp with the humans that he has forgotten already?” He looked at Loki, light blue eyes dancing with mirth. “So you do not remember that we are forever to dine at Ægir’s hall, now he has the cauldron that Týr and I fetched him?”

Loki allowed a grimace to cross his face. “Ah, that one. I have not forgotten, but to ‘forever dine’ at his stained boards means to feast with him twice in a year’s span, such as we have already done. This comes all out of season. Why has the briny lout invited us now?”

Thor shrugged, still grinning wide, white teeth flashing in the sun. “He says he has mastered some new brew he wishes to share with us. You should have seen him, brother. You recall how solemn-faced he always is, I do not think I have ever seen a man so torn between gravity and proud grins as I have when Ægir came to issue the invitation. Our father saw this, too, and accepted – for everyone he invited.”

“How very kind of Odin to speak for all,” Loki said, completely straight faced. “Who, then, will be attending this very special feast?”

Thor’s gaze went far away as he began to list off names. “Our father and mother, you and I and Sif, Bragi and Iðunn, Njord and Skaði, Frey and Freyja, Byggvir and Beyla, Týr and Vidar…” Beyond these names, Thor carried on for some time, listing off minor dignitaries and courtiers that were all meant to come before Loki waved him into silence.

“Enough, I say, enough. Once we get to the accounting of which dog boys are to be there, the accounts are altogether too thorough.” Privately, Loki made a mental note to find that exact information, purely for his own edification. One never knew. “Does our brave gatekeeper not come to the drunkard’s ball?”

“Heimdall? No, he does not.”

Loki nodded, satisfied. “Small mercies.”

The comment earned him a pained look. “Why do you hate him so?”

“You may well ask him that same question, brother,” Loki said easily.

He considered, as he had many times before, the possibility of telling Thor exactly why it was that Heimdall hated him, where came the deep seated animosity that kept him only barely civil to the youngest Prince of the Realm, when in every other respect he was perhaps the most loyal to Asgard of any of its subjects. Explaining that it was because Heimdall was so loyal that he resented the orphan Prince, the mismatch of his blood and his position, and how he resented his own position as gatekeeper when he had to continually allow Loki across the bridge when he had sworn to keep creatures such as he out… No. As he had every time before, he chose not to lay bare the guard’s inner struggles, his divided loyalty and instinct. Not yet. There would be another time better suited to such revelations.

Besides which, to lay so much of Heimdall open for Thor to see would naturally lead to much of the same for Heimdall’s sister, Sif. Loki rather doubted his brother was ready to know so much of his good friend and brother-in-law and his wife. Not all at once, at least.

Later. Later, later, later.

“So is it Ægir’s feast that father wishes to speak of to me?”

His brother’s silence took on a particular quality that made Loki look over at him. His broad face was screwed up in a look of consternation, and he wouldn’t meet Loki’s eyes when he said, “No, brother, I do not think that it is.” Thor looked distinctly uncomfortable as he said it, as though he wanted to say that yes, what their father had to say was simple and had to do with the drinking of brew and feasting and reveling, rather than something else.

Loki’s instincts sang to life at Thor’s recalcitrance. This, it said, was something to do with what he had been saying before, when he had so uncharacteristically cautious. This had something to do with Loki’s time in Midgard.

Odin wanted to know about his time in Midgard.

To his own surprise, Loki found he was grateful for Thor’s earlier caution. Though he could only guess at why his brother would feel the need for it, if his suspicion of Odin’s interest proved right, then he would have as much if not more desire for silence.

Feigning spoiled disinterest, Loki shrugged, waving a hand. “Well, no doubt the old man will tell me when I stand before him. No doubt it is nothing of any great importance, no more than Ægir’s feast at least. He just wants to make a spectacle of speaking to his rebellious son; you know how much he enjoys grandstanding.”

It was all true, and Thor knew it well enough, but he still gave him a worried look. “If he does wish to see you to deliver some admonishment, Loki, then you would do well to heed his words. I know you have had your quarrels,” he said, forestalling the counter he could see balanced on the tip of Loki’s tongue. “But brother, think: he is the Allfather. He possesses a knowledge and wisdom that exceeds all but the Norns themselves. He knows as no other father could what it is his sons endure, what they must be ready to face, what is best for them. And he is our father, Loki. He cares for you.”

Silence fell between the brothers as they continued their slow, meandering walk. Loki did as he was bidden and considered Thor’s words carefully.

In themselves they were very true. Odin the Allfather was as wise as it was possible for any being to be. Everyone knew this, knew where it was that such wisdom had come from and what he had sacrificed to gain it, and naturally deferred to his counsel. Such wisdom paired with the old man’s surprising ferocity was what made him the leader of the hot-blooded Æsir, and his shrewdness kept him there.

Loki knew perhaps better than anyone what it was that Odin’s ‘wisdom’ really was, how it functioned.

Odin knew well all that had been or was to come. This was what he had bargained for at the Well of Urd, and the knowledge echoed and re-echoed inside his aged skull. Some days the echoes of what was to come were so loud that he was lost to the present, his single eye growing dull and distant as he looked into a future that was more real to him than what stood before him in the moment. In those times he was more like an old, wandering man than any other, but rather than being lost in the memories of his past, he was lost in the future memories of entire worlds.

Had not Loki seen this for himself dozens of times, and been called to apply his own agile mind to assist in untangling the knotted cords of fate that had twisted together in his mind?

Oh yes, Loki knew that Odin was as wise and knowledgeable as even the wildest tales could tell. But there was more. There was a second truth behind the first, one that he had come to suspect in assisting his father through the worst of his befuddled fits, and which he had since confirmed with the help of one other whose powers of sight could be said to rival those of Odin. Loki alone was aware of this truth, what it meant, and with this one many more truths came to be known to him.

More baubles for his rook’s nest.

They came into the shadow of Valaskjálf, and Loki gazed upon it. The sight always filled him with conflict. This was his home, his comfort, his bastion; it was also his prison, his leash, his geas. Inside those walls waited a twisted labyrinth of motive, intent and hidden agendas, all lying out to tangle him up, hopeless and helpless. Or, if he were clever enough, he could manipulate them until he was the last player able to move, the spider in the center of it all.

Staring up at the grand structure, its towers and arching alcoves glinting in the sun with inlaid metals, Loki murmured to Thor, still standing beside him. “Father gave his eye to acquire knowledge at the Well of Urd. They say with a single eye he sees more than any other of the Realm. But do not forget, brother, even with such powers, he is still half-blind.”

High above them, a black bird wheeled in the sky.
The Ironmonger's Heart, Part III.i
Previous Chapter: The Ironmonger's Heart, Part II.ii
Next Chapter:
The Ironmonger's Heart, Part III.ii

Plot: Tony was the son of the greatest Smith known, and determined to make his own name more renown than his sire's. It's a dream that nearly came to an abrupt end when he was shot with one of his very own weapons. He prayed to the Gods to save him, but he didn't expect the one who answered, nor what He would want in return... An Iron Man, Thor, Norse mythology fusion AU.

Author's Foreword: Once again, it’s been a long time between chapters. I apologize to everyone who’s been waiting so patiently, and hope the nice long chappy makes up for it.

So, I’ve done a detailed outline for the whole fic, and I’m projecting we’ll end up at about 15 chapters. This is subject to change, as some chapters may end up fusing together and some others may spawn of into new ones. One character in particular is already trying to make himself into more than I had planned for, so we’ll see.

I’ve come to realize two things in the writing of this chapter. One, I really, really want to do my own interpretation of the Norse myths without the Marvel fusion. Two, this is probably the most complex fic I have ever written.

Prepare thyselves for much lore! Detailed notes after the chapter.

Beta: SkyTurtle

Genre: Historical, Drama, Romance

Pairing: Frostiron (Tony Stark / Loki Laufeyson)

POV: Loki

Rating: T

Part III Word Count: 13,107


Skywalker: This is actually one of Loki’s many alternate names, so we get the fun of a flying Loki. :)

Bifrost, Asgard: We’re going for a mixture of myth and Marvel - as we may have noticed - and this includes how everything looks and is set up in Asgard.

Valaskjálf: This is one of three of Odin’s halls from mythology, the other two being Gladsheim and Valhalla. Out of the three, Valaskjálf seemed to fit the Marvel image the best. If the Marvel version has a proper name, I was unable to find it.

Discworld: No, not Pratchett’s Discworld. In the Marvel-verse, this is how Asgard appears. It works.

Heimdall: His powers are more in line with the mythology, his appearance with Marvel, and his set up in Asgard with myth, such as with Gjall and Himinbjorg. Also, it’s worth noting that in the mythology, it’s Heimdall who’s seen as Loki’s greatest adversary, not Thor.

Sif: Another mix. She’s a warrior as she is in Marvel, but married to Thor as she is in myth. Sif’s hair comes from a specific myth where Loki cut it all off, then to placate her and Thor had to go to Svartálfaheimr to get her a replacement. This adventure led to a few things, including the forging and winning of Thor’s hammer and Loki getting his mouth sewn shut. For those among you who are the investigative type, the shoring of Sif’s hair should give you a small clue as to Loki and Sif’s relationship. Beyond the antagonistic.

Heimdall & Sif: In Marvel they’re brother and sister - which is interesting considering the films - but not in myth. They are here because shenanigans.

Rooks collecting baubles: This is a myth, more commonly known as crows or ravens collecting and hoarding shiny objects. They actually don’t, but the myth is common. (Rooks are corvids, just like crows, ravens and jackdaws.)

Ægir: From Wikipedia: ‘Ægir is a sea giant, god of the ocean and king of the sea creatures in Norse mythology. He is also known for hosting elaborate parties for the gods.’ Those familiar with myth should have an idea where things are going with the invitation to dine at his hall.

Odin, Thor & Loki: In Marvel, Odin is father to both, with Loki being adopted - and unknown to be in the films until discovered. In myth, Odin is still Thor’s father, but Loki is Odin’s brother - by blood binding. As tempting as it was to go myth, we’re going with Marvel.

Höðr: Little is known about this god in mythology, and I’m familiar with him in the Marvel-verse, so this particular rendition is entirely my own, using cues taken from mythology. He is brother to Baldr.

Redheaded Loki: A redheaded Loki is closer to the myth version… and I added him because I have a weakness for redheads. Call it fan service for the author.

Ale & mead: Mead is a wine made from honey, and not usually available to ‘the masses.’ Ale was a much more common drink, usually made from barley, which even children were known to drink daily.

Wooden cup: Yes, drinking from horns is a more recognized image, but once again reserved for more formal occasions and/or high ranking individuals. Cups and bowls were more common, and much more likely to find in a alehouse.

Ragnarök: The Norse end of days. It’s quite detailed and badass, I recommend Googling it. In this story the basics are known to everyone, the specifics to a mere handful. Who comprises this handful is a secret.

Mímir: This is an Æsir who was given in trade to the Vanir (along with Honir in exchange for Njord, Frey and Freya). The Vanir eventually decided that they were tricked into a raw deal, decapitated Mímir and sent the head back to Odin. Odin brought it back to life and speech, and now it acts as a council to Odin, knowing many truths unknown to others.

Loki’s element: In Marvel - especially fanon - Loki’s element is ice, him being a frost giant and all. In myth he is typically associated with fire. There’s a little debate whether this is historically accurate or not, but even if he wasn’t associated with fire then, he certainly is by modern Heathens. So what are we doing here? We’re going to try for both.

Tafl: A game dating as far back as the 4th century, with many more modern variants. The exact rules are unknown, but its simplest to think of it as a kind of chess with dice. (Again, Google for more info.)

Names: Some names I have down in the anglicized forms, others not. This comes down to personal tastes on my part. For a while I had Odin down as ‘Óinn,’ but decided against it.

Where is TONY?: Plenty of Loki, now where is Tony? …we’ll see him next chapter. We’ll see Tony and Loki both, interacting in the next chapter.


Special thanks goes out to those wonderful readers who have shown so much interest in this story, and to everyone for being so patient with me and my long time between updates.

Thanks for reading, until next time!




I do not own The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Norse mythology nor the characters from them. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Preview pic is a modified screencap from Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr.
Loading...

End of the Year

Journal Entry: Mon Dec 30, 2013, 7:37 AM
Gallery l Watch Me l Note Me l FF.net l tumblr l AO3 l LiveJournal l AFF.net

And all kinds of new beginnings!

As some of you have no doubt noticed there have been few to no updates around here, even after I had gone and said that I was more or less back on schedule. (I should stop saying things like that, I jinx myself every time.) Obviously that has changed, but what's the cause this time?

I'm moving!

Over the last few weeks I've been going through the process of quitting my job, organizing all of my books, writings, arts and such into boxes, preparing my cats - oh the fun to be had there - and generally getting ready to pick up my life and move it several hundred miles. I'm moving out closer to the coast, where things are much more humid, which will be good for my lungs, and have to do some job hunting as soon as I get there which is less good for my stress levels and ability to work on anything but bare bones arts. (Read: high priority writing.) Though I'll also be far away from large concentrations of people, so that's good for my stress.

This was my last chance to let everyone know what is going on before I break the computer down and pack it up, too, and while technically I should have net already set up where I'm going, I've not actually seen the place for myself yet, so who knows? Any updates coming here for the next little while will be limited to what I can do in between moving, settling in, getting a job and figuring out the new place I find myself in.

But hey! New adventures, right? On the first day of the new year I'll be in my new house, surrounded by lots of trees. :heart:

Happy new years, everybody! Hope y'all are staying safe, warm and happy.

:iconbigheartplz:

This Journal Skin was designed by Night-Beast
  • Mood: Anxious
  • Listening to: Fever Ray
  • Drinking: Hot cocoa

deviantID

greywriter's Profile Picture
greywriter
Raven Ehtar
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
:bulletblack: Writer :bulletblack:
:bulletblack: Anatomist :bulletblack:
:bulletblack: Closet Goth :bulletblack:
:bulletblack: Otaku :bulletblack:
:bulletblack: Nerd :bulletblack:
:bulletblack: Autodidact :bulletblack:
Interests

Current Projects

Fanfiction:

:bulletblack: Jihi no Tenshi
Death Note; Misa / Beyond Birthday
Parts IV and V
Requested fic

:bulletblack: As a Bruise
Supernatural; Sam Winchester / Lucifer
One-shot
Gifted fic

:bulletblack: True Allegiance
Star Trek AU; Kirk / Spock
Part II

:bulletblack: Mutt
Avengers; “Loki’s Brood”
Part XII of series

:bulletblack: Haunted
Yu-Gi-Oh!; Ryou / Bakura backstory
Part VII

:bulletblack: Hunter, Huntress
Supernatural; Dean Winchester / Castiel
Part III
Genderswaps


Original Writings:

:bulletblack: Made for Dancing
Short story
A tuxedo display falls in love with a beautiful evening gown.

:bulletblack: Face Value
A group of boys making their way through high school do their best to remain true to who they are, and not fall victim to the same game of masks that everyone around them, including the teachers, indulges in. But not even the best of friends know everything about each other. The question is whether or not the friendships will survive.


Teenies:

:bulletblack: Star Trek Teenies
:bulletblue: Episodes 47 – 49, writing phase

:bulletblack: Misc Fabrication
:bulletblue: Cecil; Welcome To Night Vale
:bulletblue: Carlos; Welcome To Night Vale
:bulletblue: L; Death Note
:bulletblue: Misa; Death Note

It's October! (YAY!) Recommend me some spooky and/or fun films, guys. The more off the beaten path (but not impossible to find, hopefully) the better! 

100%
4 deviants said Hit me with those recs! :pumpkin:

Comments


Add a Comment:
 
:iconkat1004:
kat1004 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Student Filmographer
How did you make the Teenies?
Reply
:iconxenalollie:
XenaLollie Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013   Digital Artist
Happy Birthday :D
Reply
:icongreywriter:
greywriter Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :heart:
Reply
:iconcarthagenut:
CarthageNut Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy Birthday, and good luck with your move!
Reply
:icongreywriter:
greywriter Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :heart:
Reply
:icontixielix:
TixieLix Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the fave on my Link pic!
Reply
:icongreywriter:
greywriter Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem! :D
Reply
:icononyx-philomel:
Onyx-Philomel Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you for the favorite of my Anubis deviation. :skull:
Reply
:icongreywriter:
greywriter Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem, it's amazing! :)
Reply
:iconzacky-vengance:
Zacky-Vengance Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013
Thanks for the llama! :D
Reply
:icongreywriter:
greywriter Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem! :)
Reply
:iconamazing-person-yes:
Amazing-person-yes Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Ty for the llaaamaa!
Reply
:icongreywriter:
greywriter Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem! :)
Reply
:iconjean-claude17:
Jean-Claude17 Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2013
Hey there!
Thanks for the faves! :D
Feel free to pop by to chat, comment, suggest or criticize whenever you feel like it ;)
Have a good one!
Reply
:iconromailee:
RomaiLee Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks for the fav (^_^)

If you're interested please follow my work as a cosplayer here: [link] (only FB users)

if you use Twitter: [link]

I would appreciate it (^^)
Reply
Add a Comment: