A/N (16-Sep-2012): Factual correction...replaced 'Great War' with 'Second World War'
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Marvel. I own nothing.
Steve Rogers wakes up from one of those strange dreams where Clint, Natasha, & Bucky are with him in Germany killing alien Nazis and then Katherine Hepburn appears asking if he wants a drink. His immediate thoughts, in order of appearance, are: 1) That was weird. 2) I miss Bucky. 3) I should watch Ms. Hepburn's other movies. 4) I need to take a piss. 5) I don't want to get up. 6) But I really need to take a piss.
He tosses aside the covers, revealing to no one his chemically-enhanced body clad only in boxer shorts. When he gets up, though, he feels slightly different. Maybe he's just sleepy, the soldier thinks as he feels his way to the bathroom.
Steve can't find the light-switch. He moves his hand up and down the wall until he feels the protruding bit of plastic. It seems too high, but again he attributes it to being half-asleep. The toilet beckons him. Was it always this tall? No matter. The sound of water hitting water marks his relief. Steve sighs as he relaxes. He flushes and turns to the sink to wash his hands.
A ghost looks at him from the mirror.
After closing his eyes and shaking his head to clear it, Steve looks back into the mirror. His own eyes stare back. But his body… He is definitely shorter, he thinks as he unconsciously washes his hands. The arms are skinnier. The chest is decidedly not broad. Where is Captain America? Was it a dream? It couldn't be. The memories were too real.
Steve rushes out to the window in his bedroom. There's too much light, too much noise for it to be his own time. He puts a hand on his bicep. Funny, he can still kind of feel the large muscle underneath. Is he still dreaming? Slapping his own face doesn't wake him up.
"What the hell?"
"Hell has nothing to do with it." Steve turns towards the vaguely familiar voice. The light from the bathroom reveals Loki in black slacks and a forest green dress shirt sitting on his bed. "Don't worry. It's only an illusion. You are still a super soldier." The shield is closer to the god than to its owner, who is at a complete disadvantage. "Don't worry. I'm not here to harm you," Loki explains as he observes the human's reactions. When Steve asks how he got in, the God of Mischief replies, "Magical key" and presents his empty palm. He closes his hand, opens it and reveals a key. He closes his hand again, reopens it and it is gone.
Steve is still somewhat asleep and all the way confused. He asks Loki why.
"I was having a conversation about the Avengers with another one of your enemies. He remarked that you were nothing special without the super-serum that made you. I wanted to see if it was true. I suppose I wanted to meet the real Steve Rogers."
It is a weird story, but Steve is willing to go along with it. It wasn't as though he had much choice. He walks over to Loki and extends his right hand. Sitting, Loki is still a little taller than him. "Hi. I'm Steve Rogers."
There is a pause before his guest replies, "Hello. I am Loki," and shakes his hand, continuing, "and I am known by many names...Loki Laufeyson, Loki Odinson, Prince of Asgard, God of Mischief, Trickster, Liarsmith, Silvertongue, the list goes on. But you may simply call me Loki."
"Nice to meet you, Loki." Never let it be said the Steve Rogers didn't mind his manners.
Loki begins to make random observations as though the man in front of him were a sculpture or an animal in a zoo. The face is the same, though the observer is not sure why he thought it would be different. Steve in this form appears shorter, less…toned. He imagines the Midgardian was ridiculed in his natural state. (Steve gets defensive about that, because it was of course true. But his pride won't let it go without a remark.) Loki understands.
"So now what?"
Loki motions Steve to sit and begins to ask him questions about being Steve Rogers. Was he always smaller than the others around him? How did he cope? What major events shaped who he is?
Steve tries to explain that the biggest events occurred because of the super serum. Becoming Captain America, being part of the Second World War, that all came about because he was no longer weak. The war changed him, the way it always did to those who were in it. And now being here during this era has changed him, too. Seeing how the world has changed. Seeing how much it hasn't…all within the blink of an eye…at least to him. That's something that also wouldn't have happened without the super serum. The body it gave him, the life it gave him was one he had always fantasized having. It is as much a part of him as his mind. All of it is the real him.
"You are more intelligent than people give you credit for. But people must treat you differently now than when you looked like this."
"Of course. People don't bully me anymore. There's no longer pity in their eyes."
"Pity?" Loki's eyes narrow, making him seem almost angry. "Why? What is there to pity?"
"Look at me. I'm not exactly anyone's ideal."
"Nor was I. But I developed my skills and accepted no one's pity. People in Asgard are much like Thor, and I learned to use my words as weapons."
Steve remembered how Loki spoke so eloquently that first time they met and then fought in Germany. "Sorry. My tongue isn't as skilled as yours."
A wicked grin spreads across the Trickster's face. He slowly licks his bottom lip. "You've no idea how skilled my tongue can be."
The skinny guy from Brooklyn looks away hoping to hide the blush he feels coming on. And, geez, he's only wearing boxer shorts. His arms cross in front of his chest subconsciously.
"Forgive me. I didn't mean to embarrass you."
Blue eyes challenge green. "Yes you did."
Another smile. "Yes I did." Loki didn't expect that small show of boldness. It gives him pause. "You say you were bullied. But now that you have power you do not take advantage."
"I don't take advantage because I was bullied. I know what it's like to be the one who's beat up and made fun of. I don't want anyone else to have to go through that." The words are honest, sincere.
And yet Loki challenges. "So long as they fit your construct of what is moral. You cannot tell me that your government does not act as a bully, that they don't use their power for their own selfish motives, that they truly have the common people's interest at heart. There are people starving in this city, and you wage war across the world. I would have brought peace, prosperity."
"Fear." Steve corrects.
"People already have purpose."
"Really? Did you before the serum?"
"I had free will. Have," the soldier corrects himself. "I have free will."
"Had. You signed it away when you joined your military, agreeing to blindly follow the orders of those above you."
Dang it, Loki was slippery, twisting his words around so they meant the wrong thing. But that didn't change the fact that the god was wrong. "Not blindly."
"Perhaps not. But you, I suspect, are the exception." Loki tilts his head, his eyes examining the creature next to him. "I rather like Steve Rogers. Had I met you before, we might have been friends."
Steve shakes his head. "You wouldn't have even noticed me."
"Had our paths crossed, Captain Rogers, I assure you, I would have noticed." And with that, Loki stands up and walks away.
"Knock the next time you decide to visit," Steve calls out. "And come at a decent hour."
Once Loki has left the apartment, the illusion is gone. Steve's muscles are back, and he flops into bed wondering how any dream could possibly top the weirdness of that visit.