Title: Better Teamwork Through Dragon Hunting chapter 7
Pairing/Characters: Teamfic. No Pairings. Loki, Thor, Avengers, Odin.
Better Teamwork Through Dragon Hunting
Chapter seven: Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
"Where are we?" Steve asked when they stumbled out of a full-length mirror, and into a darkened room.
"My private chambers on Asgard," Loki replied.
"You own a huge mirror," Tony said. "Guess I'm not the only vain one."
"I-I needed it to traverse the secret paths, nothing more," Loki replied, his cheeks turning a subtle shade of pink, as he lit an elaborate candelabra.
"Yeah, yeah," Tony replied, looking around at the shelves lined with bottles, and the desk that was covered in quills and parchment scrolls. "Nice place you got here, by the way. Does Severus Snape know you stole his office?"
"What?" Loki asked.
"Remind me to show you Harry Potter when we get home," Tony said. "You're gonna love it."
"We must go to the throne room at once," Thor said. "We must present father with his gift."
The news of their arrival had spread quickly, and a crowd of Aesir gathered to see the heroes of Midgard. The Avengers stood in the throne room, feeling slightly dishevelled and completely under dressed, as Odin swept into the room flanked by guards, and stood on the dais before them.
"My sons," Odin said, looking slightly flustered. "You are home so soon?"
"Yes, father," Thor said. "We got your urgent message that we, and the Avengers, should come to Asgard."
"Urgent… message?" Odin said.
"Yes, father, the one you asked mother to send to me," Thor said. "We came as soon as we could, and we had a great adventure along the way. It has been a most wonderful bonding experience for us all."
"Ah…" Odin said, as a smile suddenly lit up his face.
"What was so urgent, Father?" Loki asked. "Is there a threat of war?"
"Er…" Odin said, looking around him, then he held his hands out and said, "The throne room has been redecorated. Doesn't it look marvellous?"
"But," Loki said, looking at the elaborate gold walls, which were still elaborate gold walls, "it's the same as before."
"No, no," Odin said. "This gold is a much brighter shade. Isn't it wonderful?"
"It is glorious, father," Thor replied.
Steve watched as Thor and Odin exchanged smiles, an odd knowing look passing between them, and he turned to Natasha and said, "Is it my imagination or have we been set up?"
"What do you mean?"
"I swear Odin just winked at Thor."
"I dunno, Cap," Natasha said. "He only has one eye, it's kinda hard to tell. Maybe he was just blinking."
"We have been on an epic quest, and have returned with a great prize for you," Thor said, and then he waved for Clint to approach the dais.
Clint, cradling the precious egg in his arms, moved forward, feeling oddly self-conscious about the streaks of dirt on his cheeks and the mud on his boots, as he stood before Odin, and passed it into his waiting hands.
"A Fire Drake egg!" Odin proclaimed, and the crowd gasped. "Never have I been given such a wonderful prize. I thank you, Avengers, I am proud that both my sons can call you friends and comrades."
Clint moved back, as Odin handed the egg to a guard, who carried it away.
"My sons, it is good to have you home," Odin said regally, and then he turned to the avengers. "I also greet our new friends, the Avengers, heroes on Midgard, and now welcomed as brave and noble warriors in Asgard. We will hold a great feast tonight, where many tales will be told of your adventures."
The Avengers stood, not knowing quite what the etiquette of the situation called for, as Odin majestically swept out of the room.
"Come," Loki said. "We shall find you sleeping quarters, and clean clothes. It would not be proper to attend the feast in our present condition."
As Loki led the team towards the door, Steve grabbed Thor's arm and said, "Can I have a word with you?"
"Of course," Thor said, then he turned to Loki and said, "Take the others to the bath house. We will join you soon."
"Very well," Loki replied, and continued out of the door.
When the door closed Steve turned to Thor and said, "Did you set this up?"
"What?" Thor asked, raising an eyebrow and doing his best to look completely innocent.
"I saw the look on your dads face. He had no idea what you meant when you said about an urgent message. Did he really want us to come here, or did you make it up?"
Thor's shoulders sank and he said, "Father did not send a message."
"I knew it," Steve said with a laugh. "I knew someone was up to something, I just didn't think it was you."
"Will you tell the others?"
"I think it's best we keep it between ourselves."
Thor nodded, and as Steve went to walk away, he said, "You will not tell Loki, will you?"
"He doesn't know?"
"No, he thinks this trip was his idea," Thor said. "I may have… suggested things to him. If you are angry that he deceived you, the blame should fall to me."
"So the kidnapping?" Steve asked. "That wasn't real?"
"No, I suspect not, although I did imply to Loki that it might be good if you had a reason to fight for him."
"Did he really save my life?"
"That was no illusion," Thor said. "It should stand as evidence that he really intends to do good now. He put his own life at risk to help you."
Steve chuckled and said, "You crafty thing, you tricked the trickster."
"You left me little choice, my friend," Thor said. "When we were young Loki was sensitive, far too sensitive for a place like Asgard. We took his goodness, we broke it, and now I must help him get well again."
"Do you really have the death penalty on Asgard?" Steve asked.
"No," Thor admitted. "I thought you would not let him join us if I did not say that. I am deeply sorry for lying to you, but I love my brother and I would do anything for him. If Loki chooses to stay in Asgard, I will stay with him"
"Whoa, wait," Steve said. "He's thinking of staying here?"
"Aye, he was upset that his offer of help was unwanted when he was trying to be good," Thor said. "He was concerned that the rejection might make him ill once more."
"We were just worried it was all a trick, and after everything he did it was hard to trust him, but we've seen him now, we've seen what he can do, and it's not going to happen again," Steve said. "Come on, we need you. We need you both."
"Captain, I love Midgard dearly, and I have sworn to protect it, but if I had to choose, Loki would come first," Thor said. "You must understand that mortal lives are fleeting, and in 1000 of your years, you will all be gone, but we will still live. I cannot allow Loki to suffer for that long because of my love for your realm."
"Talk him round, get him to come back, and I promise it will be different," Steve said.
"I will try," Thor said, "but you must give me your word that you will not reject him again."
"Scout's honour," Steve said.
"I have no idea what that means," Thor replied.
"Oh," Steve said, "It means yes."
"Excellent," Thor said. "Will you help me with something?"
Natasha loved the dress she had been given to wear. Its long fawn covered embroidered panels were overlaid with fine lace work, and as she moved the fabric flowed regally behind her.
"I wish I was wearing that dress," Tony said, sitting uncomfortably in the heavy Aesir armour he had been given after saying he didn't want to wear the casual clothes everyone else had been given, and he wanted to dress like Thor. "I can barely breathe in this thing."
"I'm sorry, Stark," Thor said, as he sat across from Tony at the large feasting table, pouring himself another goblet of wine. "That armour was intended for one who has not yet reached manhood."
"Shopping in the teen section?" Natasha asked.
"He had no choice," Loki cackled. "He was too short to fit in the armour of a fully grown male."
Thor had been surprised when they arrived at the feast and Loki had chosen the chair next to Tony, rather than his usual seat at Thor's left side, but he found the interaction between his brother and Stark both fascinating and exhausting to watch.
At first they simply chatted, with Loki naming the various Asgardian dishes, pointing out which were the best cuts of meat, and which foods went together. There was a brief incident of raised voices when Tony wanted to put the wrong sauce on the wrong meat and refused to take no for an answer, which caused Loki to pout, and fold his arms across his chest, but shortly after they were giggling like blushing maidens over some private joke seemingly directed at Volstagg.
As Thor enjoyed a polite conversation with his mother, there was a loud bang as Tony bit into the roasted leg of some creature he didn't care to have described to him, and it exploded in his face. Loki took great pleasure in pointing and laughing as Stark cleaned green goo from his face.
"Don't make me separate you two!" Steve threatened, and both Loki and Tony flashed him matching glares. They returned to eating their meals, but soon were whispering, conspiring together, when suddenly Steve's wine turned into snakes that spilled across the table and slithered away.
After another telling off they returned to their conversation, then a short while later Loki shrieked "I hate you!" turned round in his chair, folded his arms, and pointedly ignored Stark.
"OK," Steve said. "When we get home you two aren't allowed to sit next to each other any more."
"My brother may not be returning to Midgard," Thor said, tipping a nod of thanks to Steve for broaching the subject, as he had requested.
"What?" Tony asked. "You're not coming back?"
Loki turned round in his chair, and quietly replied, "I was considering staying in Asgard."
"But you have to come back," Tony said. "You haven't seen Harry Potter yet."
"You said you were going to enchant all my clothes," Bruce added.
"And what about my deflection spell," Clint asked. "You said you were going to work on that, when we got back."
"I thought you wanted me to show you how to throw my shield?" Steve asked.
"W-well," Loki stammered, "I have to take you back anyway. I could stay for a time, while I decide what to do."
Heimdall kept watch over Midgard, and promised to let them know if there was an emergency at home that they needed to attend to, but mercifully the earth was not invaded by either aliens, zombies, or robots, and this afforded them a few days to recuperate after their hard journey.
Steve, Natasha, and Clint had taken to joining Thor for sparring sessions with the warriors of Asgard, learning new fighting techniques, and teaching them a few new moves in return.
Bruce enjoyed spending time with the healers, learning about their enchanted potions and studying their healing herbs, hoping he would be able to take a few home to help with diseases on earth.
He was in the healing rooms being instructed on the creating of a poultice that aided the formation of new skin over burn scars when a drunken Tony brought an equally drunk Loki in, with blood pouring from his nose.
"What the hell happened to you?" Bruce asked.
"It turns out the last bar room brawl wasn't a one off," Tony said. "Loki and taverns don't mix very well."
"I thought I mixed very well," Loki slurred jubilantly. "I mixed my fist with the face of that giant superbly!"
"Yeah, it's just a shame he mixed his forehead with your nose," Tony replied, then he turned to Bruce and said, "His problem is he doesn't know when to shut up."
"Says you!" Loki snapped, his voice artificially high as the healer pinched his nose and began to chant a spell.
"Ooohhhh, turning into a milk maid again, are we?"
"Shut up, Stark!"
"You shut up!"
They continued to bicker as the healer finished her spell, and the blood flow ceased, and then they carried on in the corridor outside. When Bruce could stand no more of the squabbling he left the healing rooms to the sound of their screams and insults echoing down the hallways.
"Hey, you guys wanna see what Loki taught me how to do last night?" Tony said as everyone sat in the feasting hall, tucking into breakfast.
"Was it how to stop a fist with your face?" Clint asked, and Loki glared at him.
"No, this is really cool," Tony said.
"Was this before, or after your hissy fit in the healing rooms?" Bruce asked.
"What?" Tony said. "That was nothing. Just some fun banter."
"Banter?" Steve asked. "They could probably hear you back on Earth."
"I'll teach you the art of flyting one day, Captain," Loki said. "It is terribly good fun."
"That was not flyting, Loki," Thor said. "Flyting does not involve shouting loud enough to wake half the palace."
"Seriously? Does no one want to see what I can do?" Tony said, then he snapped his fingers and a flickering red and gold glow appeared in his hand, and everyone's jaws dropped. "Check it outttt. I can make fire!"
"My brother taught you this last night?" Thor asked.
"I'm an excellent teacher," Loki replied, with a smug grin on his face. "Stark, is a fast learner too."
"Yeah, turns out he was right and science and magic really are the same thing," Tony said, letting the glow move around his hand like a snake.
"I'm going to teach him how to throw balls of flame next," Loki said, triumphantly.
"We're all dead," Clint said.
"Remind me that we really need to run through the fire drill when we get home," Steve added.
A few days later, after Tony and Loki had managed to get themselves lost in the sewerage system under Asgard and emerged 12 hours later stinking, and triumphantly carrying the decapitated head of a creature that had apparently been living under the city for some time, it was decided that it was time to go back to Earth.
Loki was rested enough to take them directly back to Earth, and after they emerged in Tony's room, everyone had wandered off in different directions. Tony headed down to his lab to check the damage on his suit, Bruce took the herbs the healers had given him to his lab to begin analysing them, Steve decided he needed a private shower after almost a week of communal baths, Thor headed straight to the kitchen to roast himself a chicken for a mid-morning snack, Clint and Natasha headed straight for the PlayStation, and Loki stood alone in the corridor for while, not quite knowing what to do with himself.
He decided to head to his room and read a book, but soon found that he couldn't settle, he couldn't relax, and he ended up perched nervously on the edge of his bed contemplating all that happened on the trip. Loki had hoped that things would not return to how they were before, when he felt rejected and bitter and sorely tempted to smite someone just to make himself feel better, but it seemed he had been abandoned again.
He knew that technically he had lied and cheated on their journey to Asgard, and he hoped that Thor and the Avengers would never find out that he had made up his kidnap just to see if they would rescue him, and that he really could have taken them from Tony's room, and walked out of one of the shiny walls of the throne room, without going on a mini tour of 3 realms, but he wanted them to like him so much. Now he was back on Midgard he felt a slight niggling fear that perhaps things hadn't changed at all and the journey had been a waste.
He thought back to that moment when he had saved Steve on Nifleheim, and the store of magic that he held within himself, as he idly placed his hand over his heart. He'd accessed it a few times on Asgard, it felt like a warm shining space somewhere in his chest, but when he tried to find it now it seemed diminished. He let out a snorting laugh at the memory of Thor saying it was his desire to do good, and Tony saying it was his 'happy place', then felt himself overwhelmed with fear when he realised that it burnt less brightly.
Loki jumped as he heard a knock on the door, and then it slowly creaked open.
"Can we come in?" Steve asked, with Tony stood behind him.
"Please, please do," Loki replied.
They entered the room, and Tony walked over to Loki's desk, and picked up the neatly folded parchment.
"Now we heard, from a certain thunder god who shall go unnamed, that you started a chart to see how many lives you had saved," Tony said, unfolding the sheet, and showing it to Steve. "Would you look at that, this thing is completely out of date."
"I think we need to fix that," Steve said. "Have you got a pen?"
"There is a quill on the desk," Loki replied.
"Now let's see. You saved my life when the Bilgesnipe fell on us, so that's one," Tony said, picking up the quill, leaning on the desk to draw a line on the paper.
"And you saved my life when I was bitten by the Fire Drake," Steve said, as he took the quill from Tony, and placed another line.
Loki smiled, and Tony said, "Now how about we get this thing stuck back on the wall, and we help you fill it?"
Loki stood, walked over to them, and took the paper from Tony's hand. He said a few words over the back of it, and then stuck it to the wall.
"You up for showing me how to shoot those fireballs?" Tony asked. "I've already told Dummy I'll use him for target practise if he douses us while you're teaching me."
"Very well," Loki said.
"Maybe afterwards we can watch the first Harry Potter film?" Steve asked. "I've never seen them either."
"I'd love to," Loki replied, as a small crept across his face and he suddenly felt more hopeful than he had in a long time.
"I'm really starting to think all those environmentalists were right about pollution of the oceans," Tony said, as he stood at the base of the Empire State building and watched a giant Octopus curl four of it's massive tentacles around the top of the skyscraper, and use the others to swat menacingly at a police helicopter.
"How the hell can that thing survive out of the water?" Clint asked.
"The beast possesses magic. I can feel it," Loki said. "Rudimentary, most likely self taught, but obviously very effective."
"Call it, Cap," Natasha said.
"Hawkeye, Widow, get back in the Quinjet and get the engines started, I'll be there in a second," Steve replied.
"Aye, aye, Captain," Clint replied, then they turned and ran back towards the jet.
"Hulk, Thor, Tony, I want you up top as well. You know the drill, missiles, lightning, general smashing. Go for its eyes, cut its tentacles off, anything to bring it down."
"Am I to stay here?" Loki asked nervously, as the other Avengers left to fight the Octopus.
"If you get close enough to it, can you disrupt it's magic or something so we can kill it?" Steve asked.
"I believe I can, yes."
"OK, you're with me."
Loki's hands shook slightly as he sat in the back of the Quinjet, placed his fingers on his chest, and felt his heart pounding. This was what he wanted; the opportunity to prove himself worthy, and he finally had it. He hadn't been left in the street, he hadn't been ignored or abandoned, and as he reached down inside he felt that bright seam of magic burst back into life.
"OK, we're level with it," Clint shouted from the cockpit. "Do your stuff."
Loki stood, and took a deep breath as he moved towards the back of the jet, and Steve said, "You ready?"
"Don't be so nervous, you'll do great," Steve said, putting his hand on Loki's shoulder, and then he said, "Come on, let's save some lives."
"Gladly," he replied, and as Steve hit the button that opened the back hatch, Loki blasted the creature with everything he had.
NOTE: And that's the end! I need to say thank you so much for all the lovely reviews people have left on this fic. They really kept me going, and made me work harder to get it finished. I've never actually posted a Work In Progress fic before, and it was a little bit daunting to say the least, but all the kind words helped a lot :-)