So here's the chapter that I promised to have when I got back! Thank you guys for all the lovely reviews for the last chapter, and I hope you guys enjoy this one, it was kind of tough to write. o:

"Hold fast to the human inside of you, and you'll survive."

- Roussin, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Lifting the Froot Loop-loaded spoon to her mouth, Lou's eyes dart to the intense staring contest between Steve and Tony.

"Does this happen every morning?" She asks out of the side of her mouth to an unaffected Clint, who doesn't even look up from them manilla folder clutched in palms when he nods. Lou turns her gaze back to the two grown men across from her, raising a brow and settling back to enjoy the show.

She only tears her attention away from the morning's source of entertainment when footsteps sound on the staircase adjacent to the kitchen. Loki steps adroitly down the steps, clad in a crisp black button-down, charcoal grey suit pants, and rather sleek, expensive-looking black dress shoes. Lou is taken aback by the dapper, polished look he's donned, as she's gotten used to his usual cheap sweaters and jeans that she'd purchased for him over the last few months.

"Well don't you look spiffy," Lou drawls with an arched brow, placing the spoon onto the table and folding her arms over her chest. Loki smirks, but doesn't respond. He heads into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, giving Lou a peck on the lips on his way over that has Clint's brows raised and Tony and Steve momentarily broken from their stare-down.

Bruce ventures into the kitchen next, face buried in a book and his glasses perched on the end of his nose. He's murmuring something to himself, brows furrowed in deep concentration.

"What's up, Brucey-Bruce?" Tony asks, turning away from a still frustrated-looking Steve.

Bruce barely looks up, looking slightly befuddled. "I've been...reading and this text, it's just...there's something...I can't quite figure it..."

Tony stands and walks to the doctor, practically leaping down his throat to get a look at the book in his hands. "The Codex Borgia? What's with the mythology inquiry, Doc?"

"I was up most of last night researching. Some articles I found in our database peaked my interest," Bruce replies, pulling his glasses off and scrubbing a hand over his tired features.

Lou sits up straighter, her interest now peaked. "Do they have anything to do with what's been going on in my apartment?"

"Possibly," Bruce offers, seating himself and rubbing the scruff that's appeared on his chin. "A few articles sounded close to the activity that's been stirring. I think that we should focus mainly on Myan and Aztec mythology. Most of the articles I read had something to do with entities belonging to either of those civilizations."

"Well, I think you've had enough researching fun for a night, and it's time to get a shower and some sleep, doctor," Pepper chirps as she steps out of the kitchen, cherry red dress hugging her slender hips in a way that has Lou's jealousy sparking once again. She seats herself next to Tony, murmuring something about a meeting to him and scrolling through her cell phone.

Bruce nods, standing up and heading to the stairs. Loki retires from the kitchen as well, breakfast in hand and a glass of juice in the other. He seats himself next to Lou, her nose picking up the scent of his recent shower and the light cologne he'd used.

"Sleep well?" Loki questions casually, gingerly cutting a piece of melon and popping it into his mouth.

Lou snags a strawberry, nodding. "Mostly. You're knee was in my back for the first hour or so, though. Might want to tape a pillow to it or something. You have pointy bones."

"I'll keep that in mind," Loki replies dryly.

The book laying across from her on the table catches her attention, just itching to be read. What could be the harm? She reasons. Oh, I don't know, maybe finding out things you really don't want to know? Lou makes a face at the thought. Maybe I should just leave it to the big guns. I have a kid to worry about; I don't need the Aztecs crawling up my ass too.

Lou tries to focus back on the bowl of cereal in front of her, or the light banter between Steve, Tony, and Pepper, but her eyes keep returning to the novel that's in the corner of her eye. Finally, she makes a face and grabs it, not even catching the attention of the others. Flipping it open, Lou is immediately bombarded with gruesome pictures and small-printed paragraphs about ancient mythology and folklore.

Looks like Fury, Lou snickers internally at one of the beasts, flipping the glossy page to another ancient entity, whose spirit is said to reside in a household object of it's choosing and pester the owner during the night by pushing things over and knocking on the walls, until the owner goes mad and the spirit devours his or her brain. Lou makes a face, skipping the last bit of the article and moving on to the next section.

Loki turns, sees the book in her hands and leans over, succumbing to his curiosity. "Interesting."

Lou looks up at him, finding his brows furrowed and his green eyes intently scanning the current page. "Yeah, and disgusting."

"I think you'll find in due time that most mythological accounts are disturbingly detailed," Loki replies absently, taking the book from her palms and ignoring her protests. "Stark, you wouldn't happen to have included a library in this building, would you?"

"Of course, sunshine. Entire ninth floor," Tony replies, nodding to the stairs. "Get on my elevator, and I'll wear your insides as a belt."

Loki stands, arching a brow.


The library could most likely fit two football fields into it, the bookshelves standing tall, in a maze of rows. It almost reminds Lou of Beauty and the Beast, only not know, romantic.

"Woah, check it out! It's like Disney World, but for nerds," Lou breathes, gazing around.

Loki shrugs, unaffected by it's glory. "If you think this is stunning, you should have seen Asgard. And if I sound bitter, that's because I am."

He flips through the directory for a moment, before heading swiftly into the depths of the shelves. Lou jogs after him, jeans constricting her slightly. "You know, I've always had naughty librarian fantasies."

"Oh yes, you and your bunny slippers fit that roll like a glove," Loki retorts breezily, veering off to another section. Lou rolls her eyes, rushing after him.

"Someone's snarky today."

"Someone's full of questions today. I'd say we're reverting back to our first meeting, wouldn't you?" Loki inquires, one brow raised challengingly.

"Maybe you should avoid run-ins with your brother. They turn you into an ass," Lou observes, placing her hands on her hips.

Loki turns, then grabs her shoulders and pins her up against the bookshelf. "Oh, as if this side of me actually bothers you."

Her abdomen clenches, pulse racing. Lou's tongue darts out to wet her lips, his own dangerously close to touching hers. She closes the distance, crushing their lips together as her fingers clutch the fabric of his shirt desperately. His tongue sweeps her mouth, long arms winding around her waist and grasping the base of her spine.

"You honestly are something, you do realize that?" Loki questions, taking deep breaths after they pull apart. Lou traces his jaw with the tips of her fingers, causing an involuntary shiver to roll down his spine.

"I don't think that...bothers you," she mocks. Loki presses one last kiss to her plump bottom lip before pulling away, resuming his previous task. Lou fishes the baby monitor out of the pocket of her hoodie, making sure Kurt is still asleep. "If the little guy wakes up, I'll have to run up to feed him."

Loki nods, pausing in front of a particular row of shelves. "This is it."

"So just...start picking books?" Lou questions, and he nods. She shrugs, pulling novels from the shelves and stacking them into her arms.

They find a cluster of large, squashy armchairs around a grand fireplace, which Loki starts up before they settle in to read. Lou curls in to one of the crimson chairs, pulling a fluffy blanket over her lap and peeling open a book.

The novel of her choosing is mostly on spirits that take form of animals, or animal-like creatures. It's written like a journal, and most of the entries are graphic and, well, creepy, but not much like the activity going on in her apartment. She tosses it to the side, grabbing another thick book from the stack, one with a smooth leather cover and eye-achingly small print.

About three hours into their search, Lou tosses down her current text and groans, her head pounding. "I give up! All of this is useless."

Loki keeps his nose stuck in his current novel, before standing suddenly. He continues to scan the page, one hand raising into the air. "I think I might have found something of use. This is of Aztec mythology; it's known as the Cihuateteo."

"The cee-haw-what?"

"The Cihuateteo. It is actually considered to be a goddess to some cultures. It is supposedly a woman who has died in childbirth; her spirit is said to haunt the roads during the night, either stealing, harming, or causing sickness to children. These spirits are known to steal items from the homes of the children before they make their presence known, and they are usually items of valure or ones that hold significance to the owners," Loki reads, pacing in front of her. "It says here that the spirits usually are found alone, though they are, at times, found in clusters."

"That sounds pretty dead on," Lou says after a moment, still processing the new information. Loki snaps the book shut, then takes off towards the front of the library.

"Loki, where are you going?" she calls, standing in bewilderment. Loki tosses her a look over his shoulder, his words nearly lost as he turns down another aisle.

"I want to use the internet to learn more about this spirit!"

Lou sighs, rubbing her forehead and tossing the blanket back onto the armchair, quickly putting out the fire in the fireplace and heading off after Loki. She catches the elevator just before it closes, eyeing the tapping of Loki's foot.

"You really think this could be it?" She asks, leaning against the back wall.

"Possibly. I have a feeling. If this is it, we'll need to meet with the others later and determine a course of action."

Lou makes a face. "Wonderful. You and the team; this'll be fun."

When they reach the floor of Stark's lab, he heads off. Lou stays behind, wanting to retrieve Kurt before continuing with the research.

"What's shakin', Dasher?" Tony asks as Loki enters the room, swiveling around in his chair.

Loki tosses the book onto Tony's desk, the specific pages marked. The other man raises a brow, but swivels his chair again and cracks open the book. "The Cihuateteo? Sounds like a Mexican side-dish."

"It's possibly what has been disturbing Lou's home. I need to look further into it. Now, if you don't mind," Loki says, gesturing to Tony's chair. Stark raises a brow, then lets out a laugh.

"Yeah, good one. I'll take care of this. You, my dapper little friend, can park it right there and zip it," Tony replies, pointing to another chair at the other end of his desk. Loki glowers, but seats himself anyway and slides the chair closer to Tony's technology.

They delve into the cyber-world of Aztec mythology, not even hearing Lou enter, Kurt snug in her arms. The child is clad in a ridiculous duck-covered onsie, one that he would be absolutely miserable in, were he able to understand true fashion.

"Find anything yet?" Lou questions, leaning in between the two silent men, startling them from their mythology-induced reverie.

"Well, turns out these cranky old hags really like their babies. And tearing the hearts out of the mothers," Tony replies flippantly, not noticing the horrified look that crosses Lou's features.

"The good news is," Loki begins pointedly, tossing an oblivious Tony a scathing look, "There is a rather simple way to get rid of them. These spirits were actually considered to be godesses in Latin America, and though they're worshiped, the men and children needed means of protection. To get rid of the Cihuateteo, you must stab it in the heart with a dagger made of oak that has been soaked in the blood of a lamb."

"Where the hell are we going to get the blood of a lamb?" Lou asks, arching her brows.

Tony waves away the question. "That's the easy part; I know a few people. The hard part is going to be luring her here. This thing can take the shape of a human. They really know how to blend in."

Lou subconciously cradles Kurt closer to her body, shuddering slightly. "Why not just camp out at the apartment? Or use some mojo to draw her out?"

Loki scratches his neck, sighing. "These beings are tricky. Magic doesn't typically affect them, and they're very hard to trick. It would probably be best to let her come to us."

"Right. Plus, it's better to have you here where we can protect you. Being surrounded constantly by a group of superheroes is kind of hard to beat," Tony adds with a smirk.

Rolling his eyes, Loki stands and takes the book off the desk. "It's getting rather late. I suppose we'll meet with the others tomorrow and discuss our findings?"

Tony nods, swiveling around in his chair and resuming his previous activities on his computers. Loki cracks his neck, then heads to the elevator with Lou and Kurt in tow.

"So this is really it?"

"I believe so. We'd better start preparing as soon as possible, these beings don't wait around for us to gather ourselves before trying to rip our throats out, you know."

After playing with Kurt for nearly three hours, Lou finally feeds the small child and gives him his bath, then readies him for bed.

"Who would want to hurt this wittle face?" Lou coos, pressing a gentle kiss to Kurt's cheek before laying him in the crib. Loki comes to stand next to her, gently squeezing Kurt's hand with a small smile.

"It really is a wonder," he murmurs, watching Kurt's eyes grow heavy and eventually slide shut. Lou stretches, stepping away from the crib with a yawn.

"I'm gonna jump in the shower real quick. You can handle him if he wakes up, right?" Lou questions, an amused grin crossing her lips.

Loki rolls his eyes. "Of course. I'm not an invalid."

She snickers for a moment before grabbing a fresh pair of underwear and a large tee shirt from the chest of drawers, heading into the bathroom. Loki's ears detect the shower coming on, and the steam fogs up the doorway leading into the bathroom, as Lou hadn't bothered to shut the door.

He flops down onto the bed, letting his eyes slide shut for a moment. He honestly meant to review the day's information - really. But it's hard when a very attractive and very naked female is showering not even fifteen feet away. Loki let's himself daydream, images of the water cascading down her bare body flooding his mind. The familiar stirring in his trousers has him sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bead, toeing off his shoes before padding into the bathroom.

Loki quickly sheds his clothing, feet making no noise as he strides across the marble floors to the large, glass shower that's clouded with steam. He tugs open the door, earning a surprised noise from Lou, who had just finished rinsing the shampoo from her curls.

"Loki, what-" He cuts her off by pressing his lips to hers, the water slicking his long hair to his head. Lou's bare breasts press into his chest, her mouth moving with his with such ease you'd think it was natural. A moan reverberates in his chest, his long fingers gripping her hips tightly.

Lou pulls away first, water running down her cheeks and dripping off of her lips. Loki's hands glide up and down her spine, sending goosebumps erupting over her skin.

"I love seeing you, like this," Loki mutters, gesturing to her bare body, soaked with water from the shower. She grins slightly, hands coming up to cup his jaw and pull him down for a sweet kiss, her mouth tasting like watermelon bubblegum. When Lou pulls away, Loki moves his lips from hers to her neck, placing small nips and kisses here and there until he reaches her ear, nose nuzzling into her hair.

"Loki, please," Lou breathes, smaller hands gripping his biceps almost desperately. His tongue finds the shell of her ear, dragging from top to bottom before pushing her against the shower wall, hitching her legs around his waist and finally sliding home. The little gasp that falls from her lips is all the initiative Loki needs to move his hips, finding a rhythm that suits the both of them.

The water is warm against his back, combining with the natural heat of Lou's body to make one dizzying combination. Loki winds his arms under hers, wrapping around the small of her back to hold her up as his hips glide with hers. He watches her eyelids flutter shut, her arms wound tight around his neck and her legs tightly clamped around his waist. Soft mewls flow freely from Lou's lips, which are parted with unabashed desire.

Loki buries his face into her neck, the sound of their skin meeting with every thrust filling his ears. And for the hundredth time since he'd realized how much she really meant to him, he wonders how the hell he of all people got so god damn lucky.

"Loki, I...oh," Lou pants into his ear, one hand moving to grab onto his bicep while the other grabs a fistful of his hair. The sound of his name slipping through her lips snaps something inside of him - Loki attacks her lips with a hunger that's quite unfamiliar, his hips rolling against hers with more force.

Within a matter of moments, Lou arches her back off the shower wall, his name passing her lips once, twice, three times (mind you, a few jesus's were thrown in there as well) as every pore in her body seems to be filled with Loki. He follows quickly after, biting down into the soft skin of her neck.

They stay in that position until the water runs cold, holding each other likes it's the only thing they have left. And after, with Lou curled into Loki's arms under the fluffy duvet, he whispers sweet nothings into her ear because god damn it, she's the strongest woman he's ever met and damn it if she doesn't deserve it.

Okay so I actually like the turn out of this chapter. So leave me your thoughts, I love to hear them! ~rolls away~