Author's Note: I kind of love all those cut scenes Marvel gives us. So why not one for the stories, too? Because epilogue = SURPRISE MOAR STORY FOR YOU. Another big huge wonderful amazing thank you to everyone who read and for making my inbox ping with alerts and reviews. :) The best way to keep up with this verse will be to use the Author Alert. I'm still hoping to have the next story up in two weeks. Thanks again, everyone, and happy pumpkin-flavored-everything time!
Also! I am looking for a beta or two. One for basic writing and such, but I'd love someone who might be more of a plot beta. If you're interested, please PM me! Thanks in advance!
Loki couldn't help but feel he was being followed. Or watched. The fact a crack team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents hadn't yet broken down his door did nothing to assuage his raging paranoia.
If one of the annoyed parents or sullen teenagers was a crack agent in disguise, he at least hoped the situation was more amusing than alarming.
The store was cramped, costumes strewn across the ground, customer more cantankerous than usual. One of these years, Loki supposed, he would be the sort of parent who bought their child's costume in September. Or made it themselves.
This was not that year.
He was not forced to resort to withering insults or glares to secure a costume that looked like it would reasonably fit Kara, never minding the gender of the child on the package. She clutched the bag tight to her and practically skipped down the aisle.
"You need costume too," she said, merrily bounding down to the other side of the shop. Loki scrambled to catch up with her as she dragged him, heedless of her side, after him.
"Don't you think I'm a bit old," Loki said, watching warily as her gaze scanned up and down the garish and sometimes ridiculous costumes. At least his armor had taste, helmet or no.
"Nope." Kara hummed as his question failed to make any impact. She was getting dangerously close to the superhero costumes, and before Loki could try and pull her away, she beamed and pointed resolutely in front of her. "You should be that."
"Oh no," Loki muttered, tugging at her hand, but she didn't move. "I will be anyone else, I promise."
"I want you to be him!" Kara frowned and looked at him, as if unable to understand how he could possibly say something as cruel as no. Her dark eyes widened. "Please?"
"You're doing this to punish me for something, aren't you?" Kara simply giggled and kept pointing to the costume. It was especially ridiculous and garish, and even if he was going to be….him…he would not be caught dead in that.
"Fine, Kara Goldentongue," he sighed, kneeling down to look her in the eye. "But I'll do the costume myself. If that's all right," he added.
She responded with an exuberant hug. Her head against his chest, her costume in the crook of her hand, she reached up and patted at his chin, laughing.
"You're gonna need a beard!"
"Luke, seriously. If there's one thing I learned from Bridget Jones' Diary, it's that you Brits all love fancy dress parties. Come out already."
Loki ignored George as contorted his features, looking into the mirror. The beard was – well. At least it didn't scratch anymore. His fingers ran over the close-cropped dark growth and he made a non-committal sound. He always thought he was too young for a beard.
Then again, he used to think many things that turned out to be patently false.
"Daaaaaad! There's gonna be no more candy!"
"Just a moment. And you will have more sugar than one girl should possibly need." Loki gave his reflection a rueful shake and looked down to the rest of him.
It was subtle, at least. He flexed his hand, felt the coolness of the metal there. At least if anyone vexed him tonight, he would look well-armed.
With one last sigh, he opened the door.
Alice was a small, familiar purple dinosaur, George and Stephen rather well-bundled cave-men, he assumed. Oscar was all but swimming in a pirate costume, his eyepatch slipping almost to his chin. Connie's black turtleneck and cat ears were about the limit of her festive spirit.
A much smaller and darker Captain America ran out and tackled his knees, almost sending them both to the floor. Loki smirked as he tugged at her hood, tucking a few stray curls beneath it. "Careful, Captain. I think we're on the same side."
George and Stephen whistled. "You – wow. The beard just makes it. Not to mention the…thing." He ran a circle over his chest.
Loki raised an eyebrow and glanced down to the faint blue glow beneath the black shirt. "Arc reactor?" Infuriating, meddlesome piece of technology, even if it had a certain aesthetic. Much like its inventor.
Kara tugged at his hand, poking at the palm blaster there. "You look just like him!"
Loki frowned. "I like to think I look better than Tony Stark."
"I'd have to say it's a draw," Stephen said, clapping his hands with alarming enthusiasm. "The two of you look so geeky and adorable. If I had ovaries they'd be bursting."
"You don't have ovaries? This is new." George chortled as Loki pressed his phone into his hand.
"One picture, and then we can be off on this insane quest to ensure our children are hyperglycemic and bouncing off the walls for a month." Loki kneeled down and held the palm blaster out, motioning Kara to hold her little shield up besides it.
"You never had any fun as a kid, did you?" Connie gave up struggling with the eyepatch, which was now more a lopsided necklace around Oscar's neck.
"You have absolutely no idea."
George waggled his fingers, more to get Loki's attention than anyone else's. "Say Halloween!"
Loki lingered on the last syllable, the smile pulling at his cheeks, waiting for the flash to clear from his eyes. George slipped the phone back into his hands, and he slid it into Kara's eager grasp.
"Can we show picture to real Iron Man?" Loki plucked the phone away before she could accidentally hit the share button.
"No. No, I don't think so." Kara's pout did nothing to sway him this time. "If he saw the picture, his head would get so big it would cover the Earth, and there'd be no room left for anyone."
Kara's eyebrows nearly shot beneath her hood. "Really?"
Tony knew Loki would change the security protocols on his phone. In the spirit of their agreement, Tony waited two weeks before he set JARVIS on breaking the new ones.
Tony never let optimism get in the way of a little healthy paranoia, considering it was his head (or other bits) on the line if this all went south.
He tried to keep from laughing, he really did, because even if it was dark in the penthouse, save for the grey, flickering light from the TV and whatever horror flick Clint had insisted on watching, he could feel the glares. Like a room full of cats.
"What is so humorous?" Thor tried to pretend as if the alert buzz hadn't made him leap off the sofa.
"Nothing, nothing," Tony lied as he caught a few breaths of air in between bursts of wheezing hilarity. The picture of a younger, broodier, demi-godier self with his pint-sized Captain America was priceless, and not just as possible blackmail fodder. "Just the universe reminding me of how awesome I am."
Tony swore he could hear the rolling of Natasha's eyes as he laughed, and laughed, and laughed.