A/N: So I've seen a lot of Loki/Tony stories where Loki gets hit with a love/lust spell or what have your and while I love the Tony-Loki dynamic because they're really quite similar, I wanted to give Steve and his capacity for unconditional love a chance at reforming Loki.
T for language and sexual references.
There is chaos surrounding them, the kind of chaos that comes from battling a super villain who has an arsenal of flash grenades and these other grenades that release something that make you itch something awful.
Steve doesn't know from personal experience but Clint is doing enough complaining that Steve has a bit of an idea how it feels. Steve wipes the sweat off his upper lip and holds his shield up to deflect another grenade.
"Is it just me or is this a lot of show and not a lot of damage?" Tony asks through the comm system.
"If you just jinxed us I will cut off your fingers and make you eat them." That's Natasha.
"I'm not complaining," Tony says. "I'm concerned. Has anyone found where all of this is coming from?"
"Guys, we've got company," Clint says. "And it's not the good kind. Loki's here and he looks pissed."
Steve ducks and rolls out of the way of an itch-grenade, Clint's name not his. "This doesn't seem like Loki's kind of party."
"Pissed with us or with mystery villain?" Tony asks.
"He's coming down the street," Clint says. "I'd suggest someone intercepting him."
Steve is the only one on the ground. Tony is flying, Clint is perched somewhere, Thor is two buildings over, and who only knows where Natasha is. Bruce is sitting this one out, because Fury hadn't flagged it as a major threat. Steve hopes they don't come to regret that decision.
"I'm on my way," Steve says, jumping over some rubble, and heading down toward the corner of Main St and Maple Ave.
Loki is standing in the middle of the street, smoke rising around him from all the grenades, looking around him for something. "I do not find this amusing. Return my helmet."
"This is over the horned thing?" Tony asks, laughing. "Loki is here, because someone stole his hat?"
"I do not find this amusing," Thor says, echoing his brother's words.
Steve skids to a halt ten feet away from Loki, and the god only casts the barest of glances in Steve's direction, before deciding he is either uninteresting or not a threat or both.
"My helmet," Loki repeats.
"What, you don't like it when people steal from you?" A humanoid figure drops from the sky in front of Loki wearing Loki's helmet. He touches the horns and smirks at Loki.
Loki seethes, his hands clenched into fists because how dare he wear Loki's helmet, but he doesn't make any forward movement.
"You probably don't like being on the receiving end of mischief either," the humanoid says. "What's that Earth saying, you can give it but you can't take it?"
"Oh, I bet he takes it very well," Tony says, the words coming out of his mouth before he realizes what he was saying and about who. "Oh shi-" is as far as he gets before Mjolnir knocks him from the air.
"I will kill you for dishonoring my brother!" Thor shouts and Steve shakes his head. It's a good thing the villain appears to be interested in Loki and not them or they'd be in trouble. Steve's going to have to talk to Coulson about having a few more team building activities.
"I'm confused," Loki says. "Are you trying your hand at petty revenge or are you trying to usurp my role as the god of mischief?"
The humanoid's eyes glint at the taunt. "I just want to have a little fun, that's all. At your expense, of course." He lifts his hands and throws some sort of spell at Loki.
Loki dodges but the spell takes a hard right and crashes solidly into him, sending him into the ground. Steve doesn't even think, he just moves, rushing to Loki's side. Loki is flat on his back, dragging in desperate breaths, his eyes squeezed shut.
Steve runs his hands over Loki's uniform, searching for any signs of a wound. "Are you all right?"
"I will be once you stop touching me."
Steve frowns at the hostility in Loki's voice, and he hits his shoulder, hard. "I'm trying to help you."
Loki's eyes open, shocked, and then he punches Steve across the jaw. "You idiot!"
Steve rubs his chin and glares at Loki's who's eyes looked glazed over, not as clear as they usually were. "What was that for?"
"Damn it," Loki says, punching the ground this time. "Damn it!"
It is so uncharacteristic that Steve can only stare, and Loki reaches his hand out, his fingers a moment away from touching Steve's cheek when he scowls and disappears. Steve stares at where Loki used to be trying to figure out what just happened.
He turns to the humanoid who is just standing there, smirking, and Steve doesn't know why, but he lunges at him, knocking the man to the ground. He grabs the helmet off his head and his fist is raised to hit the villain when Natasha lands gracefully, almost silently, next to him.
"He's coming with me, Cap," she says, grabbing the villain. "You can keep the hat. It's tacky."
Steve frowns and scoops up his shield. What had happened to Loki that had shaken him up so bad?
Natasha's interrogation doesn't get them anywhere which is surprising and pisses her off. She slams things around the kitchen, and everyone knows to get out of her way. It's clear that the villain didn't have any interest in anything but Loki, and Tony doesn't understand why they're trying so hard to figure out what's up. If someone's causing trouble for Loki then maybe it would keep him distracted enough to stop causing trouble for the Avengers.
Steve goes straight from the debriefing to his room where he sits cross legged on the floor and starts carefully wiping down Loki's helmet to remove the touch of the villain and Steve's fingerprints. Loki seemed upset about its loss, and Steve means to return it to him but first he wants it to be clean, because it's obviously very important to Loki. Steve would be incredibly angry if someone stole his shield and even more angry if it was returned dirty. He doesn't know how he's going to get the helmet back to Loki, but he's sure he'll think of something.
"There are so many jokes I could make right now about polishing Loki's horns."
Steve looks up to see Tony leaning against his door frame, jeans hanging loose on his hips, a smirk playing across his lips.
"Haven't you gotten in enough trouble for making sexual comments about Thor's brother for one day?" Steve doesn't stop sliding the oiled cloth along one of the horns, and Tony winces at the memory of Mjolnir hitting him, but he doesn't lose his interest in Steve's hand. "Can't you go ogle someone else for awhile?"
"Why, you want to be left alone with Loki's helmet?"
Steve doesn't even bother to glare. It would only serve to encourage Tony. "Something happened to him. I don't like it."
Tony sighs. "First of all, he's the enemy. You can't save everyone. Second of all, he seemed perfectly fine to me. You said yourself it didn't look like he took any damage."
Tony hadn't seen the look on Loki's face when he opened his eyes. He hadn't seen the brief flash of panic, the utter loss of control. "He still got hit with something."
"Maybe it'll kill him," Tony says. "Nice stroking, Cap. Get a lot of practice in the army?"
Steve does glare this time, but then he ignores Tony until the other man leaves. He wonders if he can use Loki's helmet to draw the god here.
Turns out, he can, though Steve hadn't intended for things to play out this way. And by this way, Steve means he wakes up in the middle of the night feeling that something isn't quite right, and then he hears a whimper from the foot of his bed.
He scrambles to the edge of his bed, wondering if he should've grabbed his shield when he sees a hunched, shaking form on his floor. The green cape ripples all the way down to the carpet like tears, and Steve cannot believe that this is Loki before him. Loki in his bedroom having a breakdown. Is this a trick? Should he call for help?
"I hate you," Loki says, his voice pained and muffled by his cape.
"For any particular reason?" Steve asks and realizes he's starting to sound like Tony. He needs to fix that.
"You made me look at you."
Steve isn't sure if that's supposed to be cryptic or if he's missing something, but he eases down off his bed to sit next to Loki. Loki's shoulders are hunched, his chin tucked into his chest, and Steve puts a hand on Loki's shoulder, hesitant.
"Are you okay?" It's a stupid question, because Loki is obviously not okay. He's huddled on Steve's bedroom floor, and he's not trying to cause trouble, he actually seems like he's trying hard not to cry. Steve expects Loki to snap at him, and it's even more of a warning when he doesn't.
Loki's voice is hushed, and almost breaks on the word, and Steve wants to wrap his arms around the man and hold him, but he's afraid of what Loki would do so he keeps his hands to himself.
"Is this about your helmet? I have it if you want it."
Loki laughs, a harsh, broken sound. "No. This is not about my helmet. This is about my body."
He turns to Steve now and even in the dim lighting of the room, Steve can see that he looks like shit. His eyes are ringed by dark circles and his face looks haggard, strained. Steve reaches a hand out before he can help it, and as his hand cups Loki's cheeks, Loki's eyes flutter shut and a hiss of relief escapes his lips.
"Who did this to you?" Steve asks, but he knows the answer to this too. The man they have in captivity. The magic he used. Steve doesn't know what the spell's intent was, but it has certainly had a negative effect on Loki.
Loki's eyes are clearer as they pierce Steve's. "You did. I need to sleep."
"Here?" Steve asks. He still can't believe any of this. Maybe he's having another weird dream, but even as he thinks it, he knows it's not true. As improbable as what he's seeing is, it's true.
"Would I have come here if that's not what I intended?"
"With you, I have no idea," Steve says. He realizes that he's still touching Loki, and he starts to pull back when Loki makes a strangled noise in the back of his throat, and Steve pauses, his fingertips still brushing Loki's skin. Loki flushes, embarrassed, and Steve doesn't know what to do.
There's a long moment where Steve stares at Loki, and Loki pointedly doesn't make eye contact, and Steve eventually stands up. This time when he pulls back, Loki doesn't protest.
"There should be room for both of us," he says. He knows this is a terrible idea, and he can hear the dress down Fury would give him if he knew, but he figures that if Loki had wanted to kill him he would've done it already. Besides, there's something so needy about Loki right now that Steve wants to comfort him. It's wrong and he should probably be worried about it, and maybe it's time for another visit to the shrink, but he climbs back into bed, making sure there's enough space for Loki too.
Loki drops his cape to the floor and starts fiddling with his leathers. He gives up after a few moments and with a muttered word his clothing drops away. Steve blushes and looks up at the ceiling and thinks that this just got stranger than he thought it would.
"You're even more modest than most humans," Loki says and when Steve spares a look he sees that Loki's now wearing his cape again. He's just not wearing anything else.
Steve is careful to keep his eyes on Loki's face, and there's a hint of the Loki he's used to in the smirk tugging at his lips. "Modesty was valued more during my time."
Loki stands at the edge of Steve's bed for a long moment, and Steve is content to watch the emotions flicker across Loki's usually guarded face. There's indecision but the indecision is a mix of fear, worry, anger, pride, and a need so painful Steve almost looks away, but he doesn't because this look holds the answer to why Loki's here.
But Steve's had a long day, and he's tired so finally he holds a hand out to Loki. "Look, I don't know why you're here. I'm guessing you're not going to tell me, and I'm not sure I'd believe you even if you did. If you're going to come to bed then just do it."
Loki smiles, amusement ghosting across his face before it's replaced by a sneer. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was inconveniencing you."
While his word are harsh, his gaze is locked on Steve's hand, and every so slowly Loki's long fingers reached out to touch his fingertips to Steve's. The slight touch is enough for Steve, and he grasps Loki's hand, pulling him into bed.
Loki wraps his cape around himself and keeps his back to Steve, but he doesn't let Steve pull his hand away. Instead, he clutches it between his hands, holding it to his chest, and Steve hopes that things will make more sense in the morning.
Steve wakes up first, and his arm is now wrapped around Loki's left shoulder, holding the smaller man against him. Steve didn't expect Loki to be here when he woke up in the morning, and he doesn't expect to enjoy waking up with another person in his bed. Especially since that person is Loki.
Steve runs his fingers through Loki's hair and it is slick with grease and ash, and Steve again finds himself wondering what has happened to Loki. He's let himself go, to the point where he came crawling to Steve for—for what? Help? Protection? The feel of a body against his back?
Steve has no idea what's going on, and he knows he's way out of his league, but all he's ever wanted to do is help people, and Loki is in desperate need of help.
He starts to pull back, because he wants to shower before Loki wakes up, but Loki grabs Steve's hand in his sleep and doesn't let go. Steve settles back onto his pillow. He can't remember the last time he spent the morning in bed. Maybe it's time he relaxed a little.
He slides closer to Loki, letting his body curl around the smaller man.
Steve knows when Loki wakes up. The god stirs, slowly at first, and then he registers where he is or at least that he's somewhere unfamiliar, and he throws himself out of bed. Steve sits up and watches Loki warily, waiting for death threats or magic or something.
Loki stands up, unashamed that he's in nothing but his cape, and his eyes dart frantically about the room before he sees Steve, and his shoulders slump, resigned.
"You," he says.
"You seem to be angry with me," Steve says. "Angrier than usual. You feel like sharing why yet?"
Steve can't help but notice that Loki's looking better after his brief rest. He looks less worn out, but he's still not 100%. Loki opens his mouth, and Steve thinks he's finally going to get an answer when his door bursts off its hinges, and Tony skids into his room, followed shortly by the other Avengers.
Tony does a slow sweep of Loki's, almost completely naked, body, and turns to Steve. There's a mixture of awe and disgust on his face. "I was joking about polishing Loki's horn."
Thor knocks Tony to the ground and steps over his body to rush his brother. He envelopes Loki in hug that looks more painful than friendly, and he's frowning when he pulls back. "You do not look well, brother. And where are your clothes?"
"They're on the floor," Tony says, pulling himself to his feet. "The better question is, why is he half-naked in Steve's room?"
Loki's shoulders stiffen, and Steve sees all the emotion drain out of his eyes. There went his chance at a breakthrough. Though he has more important things to worry about at this moment like a good reason why Loki is in his room
"I was attempting to seduce him," Loki says.
Steve chokes on the breath he was drawing and Loki flicks him an annoyed look.
"What, he didn't go for the you're made to be ruled so kneel at my feet and suck my dick line?" Tony asks. "Shocker."
Steve shifts uncomfortably on his bed. Now that he's over the initial shock of everyone bursting into his room unannounced he realizes that he's still in his pajamas, and they've violated his privacy, and he'd really rather if everyone left so he could get dressed.
"I don't understand," Thor says, looking between Loki and Steve, a look of deep sadness on his face. "Why did you go to him? If you needed something you should have come to me."
"The spell," Steve says and the look Loki gives him is a cross between 'congratulations you figured it out' and 'you're a dumbass I can't believe it took you that long'. "You looked at me and that somehow connected us."
"Spell?" Thor asks. "No one said anything about magic."
"How did you miss it?" Clint asks. "It was all Steve would talk about for the whole debriefing meeting. Something hit Loki, I think we should be concerned. Oh my goodness, why doesn't anyone care that a super villain got hit with a harmless spell."
"Clearly it wasn't so harmless," Steve says and there's a bite in his voice that has everyone staring at him. He blushes and pulls his sheet up to cover his white crew neck t-shirt.
Tony rolls his eyes. "Steve, you walk around in that same exact shirt every day, and I'm betting your pajama pants are looser than your khakis or your suit, and you have a naked god in your room so stop acting so modest. Speaking of, can he put some clothes on?"
"I thought you were enjoying the view," Loki says, turning to give Tony a straight on view. He preens at the way Tony goes slack-jawed for a moment before conjuring his clothes back on.
"What damage has been done to you?" Thor asks, tracing the dark circle under Loki's right eye.
Loki bats his hand away. "Nothing that I will not find a solution for."
"That wasn't the answer he was looking for," Natasha says. She still has a knife out, and she's still poised to launch herself at him and use it if need be.
"Then let us find your director," Loki says. "I do not want to have to repeat this more than once."
"Am I the only one who's concerned about the fact that Loki got into Start Tower undetected and isn't being treated as a hostile?" Clint asks.
"We detected him," Tony says. "Why do you think we're here right now?"
Steve doesn't mention that Loki's been here all night, and he pretends not to notice the curious glance Loki throws his way.
"He has not tried to harm anyone." Thor wraps a protective arm around Loki's frail shoulders as if anyone needs the reminder that Thor will beat up anyone who tries to hurt his little brother.
"If you'll all leave my room I'll get dressed, and we can go," Steve says.
There's a lot of grumbling, mostly from Clint who can't believe they're taking orders from Loki of all people, and a little bit from Bruce who had wanted to do experiment today and not sit in more meetings, but eventually they leave Steve's room, and he carefully doesn't think about the look Loki cast over his shoulder as he was leaving.
"You're joking," Coulson says.
He's the first to speak after Loki explains that the spell Huniva cast was one that bound the recipient to the next living thing they saw. In Loki's case, it was Steve meaning Loki craved Steve's touch. If he didn't get it then he would slowly experience more and more pain until it drove him mad.
Steve finally understands the state Loki had arrived to his room in, and he wonders how long he'd tried to hold out against the magic before giving in.
"Lying," Tony corrects. "He's the god of lies so the correct term would be lying."
"He's not lying," Steve says before he realizes he can't quite explain the way Loki looked when he first saw him. That would mean admitting that Loki had spent the night in his room, and he isn't quite prepared to do that yet, and he doesn't want to violate Loki's privacy. He had appeared to Steve in a state of vulnerability, of need, and Steve knows he's embarrassed by it, and he doesn't want to humiliate Loki any further. This bond, this dependency has to be bad enough as it is.
"And you know this how?" Director Fury asks.
Everyone's staring at Steve, and he doesn't actually have an answer so he shrugs and holds out his hands and Natasha groans.
"Let me guess, because you trust him, and everyone deserves a second chance?"
Steve folds his arms over his chest. He may not be willing to tell the truth, but he's tired of people treating him like he's stupid. "Why would he lie, sir?"
"Excuse me?" Fury's used to being talked back to. By Tony, by Clint, by Natasha, but he doesn't expect it from Captain America.
"Why would he lie?" Steve repeats, not backing down. "He appeared in my room and didn't try to harm me. He could've used his magic to vanish before the others reached my room, once they were already there, or even on the way here. I'm sure that," Steve gestures to the handcuffs and gag Loki has on, "is not particularly comfortable. I don't see any reason for him to be lying."
Fury's mouth opens and shuts, but he doesn't have a good response. "Do you know what you're suggesting, Rogers?"
"Because of an enemy spell, Loki needs me," Steve says. "I don't intend on letting him suffer. He will remain with me until the spell is broken." Tony makes an indigent noise, but Steve doesn't turn away from Fury. "I will move out of the Tower if necessary."
Chaos erupts in the room as every tries to shout louder than everyone else, and Steve leans back in his seat to wait it out. He looks over at Loki who is watching him with a curious expression, but is quickly disappears when he notices that he's being watched.
"What if he kills Steve?" Coulson shouts above the others.
"He will not," Thor says and his voice easily overpowers the other noise in the room and everyone quiets. "The spell does not break until the spell itself is broken. If Steve dies then Loki goes mad."
"You know this magic?" Fury asks.
"It's Asgardian in origin," Thor says casting a mournful look at his brother. "The spell will not break unless the caster undoes it or they unlock the secret."
"Unlock the secret?" Bruce asks like that's the most ridiculous thing he's ever heard.
Thor shrugs his massive shoulders. "It is different for every spell. Some require true love's first kiss. Others the first tears of a firstborn son. Others," Loki's hands on his arm cuts him off, and Thor reaches out to give it a squeeze. "I am sorry. I did not mean to upset you."
Loki pulls his hand back and his eyebrows pull together in a frown, but he can't say anything.
"It's settled, then," Steve says. "Loki can't hurt me so we're sticking together until we get this figured out."
"He can still hurt us," Clint points out.
"He won't," Tony says taking Steve's side because he just wants to get this conversation over with and drink himself into a stupor so he can forget that Fury didn't just say Tony had to house a god of mischief in his newly renovated Tower. "We'll keep Steve from him if he tries anything."
"That falls under cruel and unusual punishment," Steve protests but everyone ignores him. He doesn't put up too much of a fuss, because it looks like he's getting his way, and why is he even fighting so hard for this? Loki tried to subjugate the whole planet, and while he's been up to more minor plots lately he's still causing trouble for the Avengers, and maybe they're all right. Maybe Steve is a sucker and this is part of some elaborate plot that's going to blow up in his face.
But Steve trusts his instincts. It's part of what makes him a good soldier, and part of him thinks it's a good idea to take Loki in. This spell is forcing him to call a truce and maybe Steve can get through to him when they're not trying to destroy each other. Maybe he can convince Loki that there are better things in life than ruling the earth.