8. Shoes

A/N: Apologies for delays. I know my actually getting writing done record is crap. I hope I can at the very least get a little forgiveness from those of you still reading. I brought plot. And ice cream.
Many of you have probably noticed that I'm being obnoxious and withholding the plot. That would be because this chapter hasn't happened yet (which is to say, I couldn't figure out how to write it). Fortunately, I figured out, at least to some extent, how to do it without Thor (who isn't allowed to show up until much much later due to plot). I don't know how long this is gonna be either. Maybe super short, maybe super long. I'm just gonna keep writing 'till what has to happen happens.

Also. I just want to give a super big thanks to anyone who still believes in this story.


Tony knocks on the door to the trickster's room at around ten at night. Loki pokes his head out, glaring at his host. "What is it now, Stark?"
Tony raises an eyebrow. "What now? Did I bother you recently?" Loki rolls his eyes. "Can you tell me how, because I haven't seen you all day."
"I would ask why you choose to see me now then. There is no law requiring you to spend time in my presence each day." He pulls his head back and prepares to close the door.
"Why would I ever NOT want to see you? You're just so nice to be around." Loki frowns, and Tony pushes the door open a little wider. "I've been nice and let you live here. Maybe you could do something for me."
"You wouldn't let me leave if I tried."
"Of course not, but you aren't dead yet, are you?" He pauses, then adds awkwardly, "By our standards, I mean." Loki pauses a minute, and his face takes on a neutrality that makes Tony uneasy.
"No," the god replies finally. "I'm not." The door opens a little further and Loki steps back to allow Tony passage and then closes it behind him. Tony notes the god's uncomfortable glance at his suit briefcase, which he does not put down this time. "Why are you here?"
Tony doesn't answer, he gestures to Loki's single chair, a large soft armchair that Steve had picked out because it looked like 'the most comfortable chair on the planet, Tony!' Loki glances darkly at the chair, but doesn't move an inch.
"Sit."
Loki remains motionless.
"Don't make me ask nicely, I won't do it, you know."
"Do not mock me, mortal."
Tony raises an eyebrow. "And you were being so nice too." Loki holds back a hiss and settles for an unamused glare.
"You have not withheld your intentions before."
"If I tell you what I'm here for, will you sit down?" Tony attempts to negotiate.
"Perhaps."

Tony frowns. It Is the best he seems likely to get, but he is not accustomed to having control taken from him, though it seems that by now maybe he should be. "I need to ask you about some things. For all the time you've been here, you haven't told us much."
The god glares at him. "I should have suspected-"
"Okay reindeer games, let's get something straight," Tony says, cutting off the visibly surprised god. "I'm not being sneaky or trying to coerce you into doing what I say or telling me things by being nice. If I'm being a decent guy, it's because I am one. If I want information from you, it's because I want information. The nice things aren't tied to or even related to the information, so let's drop that attempt at guilt tripping before it starts."
"What leads you to believe that anything I can tell is any of your concern?" hisses Loki.
"What if I was going to ask you your favorite ice cream flavor?"
"Iced cream sounds disgusting, and regardless that is not what you intend to ask."
Tony stops. "Wait, hold the phone. You don't like ice cream?"
Loki wrinkles his nose. "I have never eaten it, but it sounds highly distasteful."
The billionaire stares at Loki with a look of mock horror. "We need to fix this. Now. Loki, come on, we're getting you some ice cream."

xxx

A confused Loki follows a determined Tony Stark into what the Avengers use as the main living room. It's an area that is technically off-limits to Loki, but he figures if anyone calls him on it, he will point out the fact that Stark has practically dragged him down here and, up until moments ago, was pulling him along by the wrist.
Stark stands in the door of the room and spreads his arms wide. "My friends," he shouts above the sound of the movie they are watching. Banner and Rogers look up, while the spider and the hawk hardly bother. Loki suspects from the raised eyebrows Stark gets from his fellow mortals that incursions such as this are not abnormal. Stark continues, unfazed. "We are going on an ice cream trip!" At this, Barton does look up, and Bruce sighs.
"With Loki?" his fellow scientist asks, alerting the other avengers to the liesmith's presence, were they not already aware. Stark nods sagely.
"The poor man has been deprived of ice cream. I could hardly let this injustice go unrighted."
"So basically you wanted ice cream," translates Rogers.
"When do we leave?" Barton pipes up. Loki wonders what this iced cream could have that would cause Barton to want to come on such a venture with him of all people. He supposes the man might just want a chance at killing him should he attempt escape.
"Right now. Get your shoes on," Tony shouts, tossing Loki a coat.

The six of them, five heroes and one rather mundane-looking villain, leave the house late at night and begin their walk down the brightly lit New York streets. A couple teens giggle as they pass and a man in his late forties stops and stares, but these are the outliers tonight. The Avengers are seen so often in this part of town that hardly anyone takes much notice anymore. They're just four laughing men now, often seen wandering the streets. Sightings of Natasha are rarer, but even so, no one takes much notice.
Down the street, a left turn, Loki spies a stray cat. It's funny, he wouldn't have expected to find one so close to so many people. For a moment he is tempted to scoop it up and bring it along, but then he remembers whose company he's in and looks away with a sigh.
A right. A large group of men and women stumble past, all dressed in what is Midgardian formal attire, but reeking of alcohol. They smell a little like Tony, he supposes, but with less metallic energy and more chemical cleaners.
A left and a short hundred feet and they're standing out in front of a shop. It is labelled Ice Cream Love, and its sign features a picture of a brown triangle topped by two brightly colored circles.

Tony steps in, grinning, followed closely by Clint. Loki realizes he is walking beside Steve and quickens his pace, pushing through the door cautiously, but quickly nonetheless. Steve catches the door as it's closing and, ever the gentleman, holds it open for Natasha.
Clint is already speaking to the man behind the counter when Tony claps Loki on the shoulder, getting himself an annoyed glare from the god.
"This," Tony says, gesturing at the many buckets of various colorful substances, "Is ice cream. Pick any flavor you want."
Loki steps forward to view the colorful substances through the glass. There are several that are shades of white and brown, as well as a couple with several colors, three buckets of varying pinks, one of blue, two of yellow, and one of green with black bits in it. He points through the glass so that Tony can see his choice.
"That one."
Tony smirks. "Shoulda known you'd pick green." He turns to the man behind the counter. "Two scoops of mint chip in a sugar cone." The man spoons two scoops of ice cream into a cone the same color as the triangle on the sign. Tony trades him cash for it, and then hands the treat to Loki. "Here you go. Now go sit over there with Cap."
For once, Loki doesn't really consider disobeying, nor does he think about the fact that he is taking orders from a mortal. He's too preoccupied trying to figure out how one is supposed to eat iced cream. Glancing over at a couple a few meters away, he decides that the method is just to lick it. He does so and is surprised at how much he likes the frigid sweetness that clings to his tongue. He takes a bite of the minty iced cream before heading over to the booth Steve is sitting at.

Loki slides in next to the supersoldier, careful to keep several inches between the two of them. Steve is eating a paper cup full of white ice cream with a plastic spoon, but almost drops the spoon when the god appears next to him.
The two of them eat their ice cream in awkward silence for a moment before Loki casually says, "Tell me. Is this legal?"
"Uh, what... oh. I don't think so."
Loki suppresses a frown. Why would Tony Stark break the law of his homeworld just to provide Loki with a delicious dessert? It seems awfully risky. "Oh. Alright." Another moment of awkward silence.
"Do you like it?"
"It is... adequate."
"He likes it," Tony corrects, sliding in across from them. Barton appears next to him. The two are holding identical cones, each with two scoops of brown with swirls of even darker brown running through them. Tony bites into his a bit wolfishly, but Barton's style of eating seems closer to Loki's method, the slow but sure demolition of his ice cream through many small licks.
"Remind me," mutters Barton, unable to bring up the level of negativity he would probably like, "Why is Loki outside of his assigned area?"
"Because I wanted to buy him ice cream and you didn't call me on it," says Tony matter-of-factly.
"Out of curiosity," says Steve, "Would you have even listened if we had called you on it?"
"No. Not unless you'd called up Fury," Tony admits.
"So all we have to do to be listened to is call up Fury?"
"Why don't you go sit over there with your girlfriend, Legolas. This table is for cool people." He looks at Loki and Steve and reassesses his statement. "Or people who aren't asshole government dogs."
"I resent that, and she's not my girlfriend," mutters Clint, but he rises and joins Banner and Romanoff by the window.

Loki looks up from his ice cream, examining Tony carefully. "Doesn't your commander have eyes all over your house?"
Tony raises an eyebrow. "So he does."
"So... why hasn't he stopped you from taking me here?"
"Because I set all the security footage on loop." Tony doesn't seem to care particularly that the action he describes is not allowed and possibly illegal. His tone is as careless as if he were simply being asked the time. No, scratch that. He probably would have made a bigger deal of the time.
"Are you not worried about incurring his wrath?"
"If he didn't want me to tamper he shouldn't have used my building."
"An you are not worried that I might kill you all and destroy this place?" Loki can feel Steve tensing beside him, hearing the simple question as a threat.
"Look," says Tony, allowing himself a moment of seriousness, "You've shown us you can best Cap and Legolas in a hand to hand fight. You've shown us you can blow up buildings. If you were going to kill us you would have done it already, you wouldn't even have had to blink." Technically inaccurate, but Loki doesn't correct his captor and defender. "My question is why haven't you?"
There is a thought, but Loki quickly strikes it from his mind. It can't be true. He is a god. But it stays there, pulsing at the back of his mind, even as he gives Tony's question a dismissive answer. Even as they begin to walk back to Stark Tower, the thought still lurks in the recesses of his mind, waiting for something unknown, perhaps acknowledgment. The answer he will never say aloud.
Because I needed you.

xxx

Tony follows Loki when they return, even as the other avengers disperse and make their ways up to their own rooms. Tony follows Loki up to his room and gets his foot in the door before Loki has a chance to close it behind him. "Hey."
Loki raises an eyebrow at the billionaire, but opens the door wider again and let's him in.
"Just because you needed ice cream doesn't mean you're getting out of answering my questions." He can see Loki considering an accusatory comeback, but for whatever reason the god refrains from being a royal pain in the ass for once.
"Go on then."
"You said you were dead in the eyes of Asgard. Why?"
"Because Odin thinks me dead and Heimdall has no doubt done little to change his perception of things." Loki grinds his teeth together. "It's not as though he WANTS to give Thor hope."
Tony frowns. "Give Thor hope of what? Okay, dumb question. Why do they think you're dead?"
"Because Father sent me to my death," says Loki, giving Tony a look that conveys impatience not present in his voice.
"Why?"
"Because that's what the sentence was for my crimes." His voice is more taught now. Tony notes the fact that Loki is visibly showing his discomfort instead of throwing up walls. Or if he is throwing up walls, they are around something else.
"How did you escape death row without being noticed?"
"Who said anyone wanted to notice," mutters Loki under his breath.
"What-"
"Don't."
"Don't what?"
"Do not inquire further." His voice is full of forced calm.
"Loki, I'm not going to hurt you, I just want to know-"
"I finally gave my father a chance to get rid of the child he never wanted and he took it! Is that not enough?" he cries, looking up at Tony with angry eyes that hold back tears.
Tony backs away a little at the outburst and holds up his hands. "Okay then, that sounds..." He runs his hand through his hair, making it if anything more messy than it already is. "Am I allowed to give you a thought? Without. You know. Having to become part of an awkward moment here?"
Loki just stares at him, continuing to look as though he's been kicked.
"Well. Just. Your family might be composed of dicks, but even so, somehow I don't think they want you dead."
Loki is suddenly on his feet, standing so close Tony can feel his breath on his own face. "Get out, Stark. Do not presume to know what you cannot even comprehend."
Tony stands his ground. "I know neglectful parenting a little better than you think. But you know what helps? Stepping out of your own shoes for thirty seconds and trying to see why. It doesn't make them any less of an ignorant bastard, but mayhem when we get down to it we're all ignorant bastards. Goodnight." With that he turned on his heel and left the room, unexpectedly angry over memories he would rather not have had resurface.


I'm gonna tell you that was a major point in the plot and you're going to have to believe me.