AN: This is based off of a prompt at AvengerKink on Livejournal. I need a light-hearted break after making myself cry writing the last chapter of the latest section of "Remembrance of Things Past."
Baby, It's Hot Outside,
Or How the Avengers Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Loki
On the hottest day of the hottest month of the year, a year already besieged by a robotic invasion by Victor von Doom; the arrival of Loki, cranky and powerless, to atone for his sins; not one, not two, not three, but four R&D labs blown up by exciting new science conducted by Tony, Bruce, and Jane, with trusty assistant Darcy contributing to the mayhem as well; and the end of the Dark Knight trilogy, which Tony secretly mourned because, after all, he was also a genius billionaire playboy with secret angst who fought the villains that could not be fought by normal forces and who had awesomely shiny toys with which to do so; on this day, in this month, and this year, the air conditioning broke in Stark Tower.
The first to succumb to heat madness had been Tony, of course. Raised in wealth and functioning coolness, his body the most finely tuned of computers, operational in only the most narrow of temperature ranges (65 degrees to 67 degrees Fahrenheit), he had broken mere hours after the air conditioning itself broke, calling in the first repairman with promises of enormous sums of money if the man fixed the machines ASAP.
The man, unfortunately, had not fixed the machines. Jarvis had claimed the same assessment as the repairman (broken, not sure why), and normally, Tony would get up there himself to fix it, but since Tony was in the grip of heat mania, Pepper wouldn't let him anywhere near the units, so the next day, Tony had called the next repairman, who had reached the same conclusion as the first: the units were broken, but he didn't know why.
The same occurred for the third and the fourth repairmen, which led, naturally, to Tony gathering the rest of the Avengers in the most apropos of conference rooms, the pool on the 42nd floor, in order to discuss how this had to be the nefarious work of Loki, the infamous God of Mischief.
"It's him. I know it," Tony said, his fist clenched emphatically before him as he drifted on his raft over the water. "I mean, has anybody noticed the fact that Loki's eyes are red now? Red, like fire. And what does fire give off? Heat."
Bruce sighed at the suggestion, paddling as far away from Tony and his heat madness as he could. From atop seven rafts to keep him afloat, Thor reiterated, once more, that his brother had been stripped of all magical powers and could not, therefore, hinder the miraculous and much missed workings of the machines that conditioned the air. Steve stayed silent and dove beneath the water, staying under so long that Tony wondered if Erskine's formula had also given him gills. Natasha narrowed her eyes at Tony, causing him to paddle after Bruce for protection, while Clint swam after him, voicing his support of Tony's suggestion; how, obviously, Loki had done this; how, if he couldn't dominate the world, then he could melt it; how, of course, he would start with them, the Avengers, his arch nemeses, watching them dissolve into puddles of sticky goo like snowmen in a volcano.
Clint had been the next to succumb to heat madness.
For the next two weeks, Tony called in repairmen from as far away as Phoenix to fix the units. On the day of the eighth repairman, Natasha had cracked, muttering something in Russian that Jarvis had refused to translate as she sat on the floor amidst twelve gigantic fans. Thor was the next to fall; Tony had found him lying on the floor of the kitchen on the day of the eleventh repairman surrounded by seven empty buckets of ice cream, moaning for the snows of Jotunheim. Tony had glanced over at Loki then, who stood in the corner of the kitchen eating Tandoori chicken, his eyes narrowed in distaste at the woes of his fallen brother.
The thirteenth and fifteenth days saw Steve and Bruce fall like heat crazed dominoes. That night, Tony had found an eighteen-minute long voicemail on his phone from Fury demanding that he fix the air conditioning in Stark Tower right the fuck now before Fury came over there with his bazooka to fix the problem for him. And, by fix, he meant explode things in a big ball of fire in retribution for making his two favorite assassins crack like carrots in the hands of rabid, hungry rabbits.
So, on the sixteenth day, the hottest day of the hottest month of this hot, hot, so incredibly hot, like four billion Kelvin hot, year, Tony called the sixteenth repairman, who now stands on the roof of Stark Tower, peering at the busted units.
Tony and Pepper stand beside him, mere inches, or ninety-three million miles, from the sun, watching as the repairman circles the units. Though Tony knows the science is impossible, he still wonders if the sun has the power to melt his blood and bones and guts into one hundred and eighty pounds of sweat. Even Pepper wilts in the heat, a scowl on her face as she huddles under the enormous parasol that she grips in her hands.
The repairman scratches his head as he looks at the busted units atop Stark Tower. "Well," he says, "they're broken."
Tony grits his teeth. "Yes, the fact that I still sweat when I stand in front of an open refrigerator has already established that fact, Stephen Hawking. I was hoping you could provide something a little more useful. Like fixing it."
The repairman gives him a look, unimpressed by Tony's sass. Tony tries his best to smile and not bare his teeth in rage at this man's incompetence. Given the look that Pepper shoots him, he knows that he fails, so he sighs and draws in a breath, grimacing at the sweat that beads upon his face. "Presuming," he says, "that it is broken, and, given your astute observation of that fact, that you can't fix it, can we replace it?"
This repairman nods, and Tony nearly weeps. The others had just given Tony the name of another repairman, sure that the next one would determine the problem and fix it.
"When?" he asks, trying to keep the desperation out of his voice. Given, again, the look that Pepper shoots him, Tony knows that he fails.
The repairman turns away from Tony to contemplate the question. In the silence, Tony eyes Pepper, wondering if she would let him stand under her parasol. He feels sweat slide down his spine and prickle his scalp. He edges closer to Pepper, but she narrows her eyes at him, so he stops. Maybe he could install a mini-AC in the Mark VIII instead. At least he would be cool, even if she, the love of his life, the cool, cool wind beneath his wings was—
Tony blinks, torn from his contemplations of Pepper. He looks at the repairman, finally processing his estimate. Three days. Three days. THREE DAYS. "What if I gave you four million dollars to make it tomorrow?" Tony asks.
The repairman raises an eyebrow. "Three days."
Tony darts forward and grabs the man's arm. "Ten million," he says, shaking him. "I will give you ten million dollars and a small island in the Caribbean if you get the new units here in ten minutes."
"Three days," the man says, gently extricating himself from Tony's maniacal grip.
Tony sighs and shuffles inside to tell the Hulk, two master assassins, a super solider, and a god from Asgard that they had to wait three more days for air conditioning.
The first person he runs into, of course, is Loki, once more in the kitchen, this time brewing a pot of coffee. Tony stops at that, slack jawed, regarding the bubbling pot in silence. Loki looks at him and rolls his eyes, prompting Tony forward.
"Are you… making coffee?" he asks, wincing at the fact that his mouth still hangs stupidly open in shock.
Loki eyes him again. "Yes, but I will not share it with you."
"I don't—" Tony says before stopping. He stares at Loki, seeing him, really seeing him, for the first time since the heat delirium seized hold. Or ever, really, Tony generally trying to avoid Loki's presence in the Tower. He knows why Loki has to be here, the man no longer able to conceal his true colors, so to speak, due to Odin's removal of his magic, and Loki also resistant to returning to Asgard in his state, but this doesn't mean Tony has to welcome him with open arms. Or conversation. Or eye contact. But now, now, Loki wears a long sleeved black shirt and grey wool pants. Wool pants. WOOL PANTS. In August. In the middle of a heat wave. "Aren't youhot?" he asks Loki, his eyes wide.
Loki shakes his head and turns back to his coffee, and Tony doesn't want to move closer, not just because it's Loki, but because of the demon stove cascading villainous heat into the room, but he does. He looks at Loki, he inspects him, he gets so close he can see the etchings on his skin and the edge of black around the red of his eyes, but he finds not the tiniest drop of sweat on his blue skin.
Loki narrows his eyes. "Back away, human. I detest you."
Tony would, in other circumstances. But this was for science, for grandmas and apple pie and the sanity of six feverish, steaming, slightly insane superheroes."What're you going to do about it?" he asks, coming closer to Loki and his blue skin. So very blue. Like ice. Ice and sanity. "Daddy stole your powers."
Loki seizes Tony by the neck. "I am still of Jotun blood and I—"
"Oh my god," Tony says. His eyes flutter shut at the chill extending from Loki to his neck. He may moan, just a bit. "You are so… cold. Can you move your hand a little to the right, more toward the back?"
Loki jerks his hand away. He narrows his eyes at Tony again and begins to speak, but then he catches sight of the look in Tony's eyes, his gaze fixed on Loki's hands, the look, Tony knows, reminiscent of the one they've all seen on Thor before a particularly large feast. Loki closes his mouth and backs away, his hands clasped firmly behind his back.
"I will eviscerate you if you come near me again."
Tony merely nods in response, already plotting what to do next.
"Operation Snowman?" Bruce asks as he floats in the pool beside Tony.
Tony nods. He gestures to the projected image hanging before the Avengers: the title, 'Operation Snowman,' hanging in bold black letters above a picture of Loki in his death apparel of shirt and pants. A list accompanies the picture, containing the following:
Objective: Get Loki to Make Us Cool
Advantages: Coolness, Sanity, Significant Reduction in Sweat and Fury Blowing Us Up
Disadvantages: Loki, Loki's Version of Sarcasm, Possible Groveling and/or Evisceration
As the team stares at the picture and list, Tony describes his encounter earlier that day with Loki and his wonderful, magnificent, iceberg-like hands. Their eyes start to glaze over as he recounts the chill, so sublime, so refreshing, yet so very, very fleeting. When Tony restates Loki's threat of evisceration if approached again, Thor sighs, Clint pouts, and Natasha narrows her eyes.
Thor frowns as he stares at the list. "My friends, how will we accomplish this most noble of goals?"
"As a team!" Steve shouts, shooting forward and knocking Tony aside in order to lead the way. The crazed gleam in his eyes causes even Tony to retreat. If he could hide behind water he could.
Turning first to Clint, Steve says, "Hawkeye, I want you on recon, eyes on Loki. Gather any intel you have on his likes, dislikes, whatever we can use to make him our friend. Stark, dazzle him with science. He can't do magic, but maybe he'll like whatever it is you do in your lab. Maybe let him blow something up for old time's sake. Thor, you got the sentiment. Use it. Natasha—"
"I've got my own way."
Natasha raises a brow.
"Hulk!" Steve shouts, turning to Bruce.
"Bruce," Bruce says, sighing.
"Bruce, don't smash. In fact, don't do anything because I think Loki's still angry with you for the 'puny god' comment."
Though Steve tries to rally an 'on three' cheer, the meeting disperses, the Avengers focused on the mission at hand, daring, determined, only slightly demented, ready to sacrifice pride, vanity, and other assorted virtues in order to lure Loki over to the hot side.
Clint watches. He hides behind chairs, peers around doors, and investigates from the air ducts that overlook the rooms that Loki enters as he roams the halls of Stark Tower.
This is what he discovers.
01. Loki speaks only to Jarvis. Of the three conversations that Clint overhears, he understands only one of them, the other two conducted in Mandarin and, possibly, Norwegian. The lone talk in English focuses on food, Loki desiring Thai to be delivered to the Tower.
02. Loki hates being followed. After asking Jarvis to alert him when the food is delivered, Loki starts for the door to his room, stops, turns, and then yanks Clint out from behind the potted tree from which he had been spying.
"Why are you following me?" he asks.
And, for a moment, Clint can't speak; he can't even formulate words in his head, the chill from Loki's hand permeating his shirt and sending his nerve endings into a frigid frenzy. He sees Loki catch sight of the expression in his eyes. Sighing, he releases Clint and mutters, "Not you, too."
"Not me what?" Clint asks, trying to play innocent, but mostly just squirming in place, torn by the simultaneous desires to move closer to Loki and farther away from him.
Loki merely raises a brow at his coy statement, and Clint cracks like a nut in the hands of a rabid, hungry squirrell. "Your hands are cold and we're all hot and the air conditioning won't be fixed for three more days but Fury said he was going to come blow something up if Tony didn't fix the air conditioning but he can't fix it, nobody knows why, and Tony thought it was because of you because you used to be evil but then Thor said that wasn't the case and Natasha narrowed her eyes and Tony talked about how you tried to choke him and how it was awesome because your hands are cold and we're all so hot and—"
"Aren't humans supposed to breathe when they talk?"
"I would, but the air is too hot and it makes my lungs sticky, which is why I was following you because you're so cold and we're all so hot—"
"Yes, Barton. You've said this. Three times now." Loki narrows his eyes at Clint. "Have you gone insane?"
"Yes," he says with no hesitation. "Which is why I'm following you. Because you're—"
"Go away, Barton."
Loki takes a step toward Clint. "I'm not your personal air conditioning. Tell Stark—"
But Clint stares at Loki, unable to comprehend the rest of the threat because of the circle of coolness that envelops him as Loki looms. He hears Loki sigh once more and then step past him toward his room, and Clint may whimper as the warmth swoops back in, slathering his skin in sweat.
Tony stands before the door to Loki's room, twitching. He raises his hand to knock, driven by that impulse of sanity that compels him toward coolness, but his hand stills before knocking, driven by that impulse of sanity that realizes that this plan to get Loki to make them cool is probably the stupidest thing he has ever come up with, and this includes flying a nuclear weapon through a wormhole into the other end of the universe.
As Tony hesitates, a drop of sweat rolls down his nose. Cross-eyed, he watches it cling to the tip. Then the door opens, the drop falls, and Loki nearly plows into him in his attempt to leave his room.
Tony darts back as Loki narrows his eyes. "Hey… Loki," he says, cringing at his thoroughly awkward attempt at casual chitchat. "I thought, maybe, since, you know, you had been kind of evil before, you—"
A small frown forms on Tony's face. "But you don't even know—"
"No," he says again.
The frown turns into a pout. "But—"
"Disadvantage: possible evisceration," Loki says as he steps out of his room and closes the door behind him. Tony opens his mouth to speak, but he stops as Loki glares at him and retreats to the other side of the hall instead. Loki slides by then, his eyes on Tony, a leather coat added to his previous ensemble of shirt and wool pants.
As Loki disappears down the hall, Tony grits his teeth, tilts his face toward the ceiling, and says, "Jarvis?"
And Tony can tell by the perfectly innocent tone that Jarvis had, in fact, revealed to Loki Tony's master plan to get him to make them cool. Tony again opens his mouth to speak, but Jarvis does before he can.
"He asked, sir, after he found Mr. Barton lurking behind a plant watching him. Since you did not instruct me to remain silent on the matter, I informed him of your discussion with the team in your new… conference room." A beat passes and then Jarvis says, "My sincerestapologies, sir, if I have hindered your cunningly devised and foolproof plan."
Tony narrows his eyes. "Remind me again, why did I program you with the ability to be sarcastic?"
"Because," Jarvis says, "as with all creators, you create in your own image. Sir."
Rolling his eyes, Tony starts down the hall, away from the direction that Loki had travelled. "Well, o wise and pious AI, what would you suggest we do to get him to help us?"
"I don't know, sir, but I've heard that asking sometimes works."
When Loki leaves his room to brew his nightly cup of espresso, Thor swoops in and gathers his brother into a fierce hug. At first, Loki resists, squirming and cursing at Thor, employing some choice Asgardian insults in the process, but then he goes limp and sighs.
"Has it escaped the admittedly tiny brains residing within each of you that you can simply leave the building and go someplace with functioning air conditioning?"
"But then you would be here alone," Thor says, contentment descending upon him as his body temperature lowers.
Loki tenses at the explanation. A few seconds of silence pass and then he resumes his efforts to escape, thrashing against Thor until he frees one of his hands, which he then promptly slaps over Thor's mouth.
"You wouldn't," Thor mumbles against his hand.
Loki raises a brow. "Why not?" he asks. "This is what all of you want, isn't it? For the walking block of ice to cool you down?"
Thor opens his mouth to reply, but Loki does not wait for a reply. Instead he narrows his eyes and then encases Thor's head in a giant cube of ice.
Thor frowns as Loki removes his hand, his mouth the only part of his face not submerged. For this, he supposes, he should be grateful. "Brother—"
"I'm not your brother—" Loki begins, his voice faint beneath the ice.
"I never was," Thor finishes, dropping Loki onto the floor. By the muffled thump and grunt of pain, he thinks Loki landed on his ass. Thor almost smiles at that. "Perhaps if you keep saying it," he says, bending over and then freezing as the extra weight to his head nearly topples him, "you will believe it."
Loki does not reply. Thor inches past him, one hand extended out to the wall to guide him back to his room.
"I hate you," Loki says after a moment, still on the floor by the sound of his voice.
"If that were true," Thor says as he walks away, "you would have frozen my mouth, too, but you did not."
Silence greets his statement, and then, faintly, "Maybe tomorrow."
Thor stifles the smile that threatens to appear. "Maybe so, brother. You know where I reside should the desire arise."
Natasha appears in Loki's room in the middle of the night, clad in shorts and a tank top, one of her knives in her hand. He sits on the bed, burrowed in four blankets, a book before him, Catch-22. Clint had told her about Loki's insistence on not being their personal air conditioning, and she had seen Thor wandering the halls of the Tower earlier, chunks of ice beginning to fall from his head, but still she came, as she knows that he knew she would.
They stare at each other for a moment, and then Natasha says, "You're cold."
Loki closes the book and places it on the bedside table. "Yes."
"I'm hot, so I propose a deal."
She sees the faintest trace of a smirk on his face. "Tell me."
She raises a brow at the reference to their first conversation, and the smirk grows more distinct on his face. Resisting the urge to sigh, she says, "You let me sleep in the same bed as you, and I'll tell you how to turn the hot water back on for the showers."
The smirk persists. "Given our previous interaction, I didn't expect a direct appeal from you. I thought—"
"That I'd appear to you as a friend so you could be my balm?" she asks, smirking in return. He nods, and she says, "You're not a prisoner here, though you may feel like it. And this isn't a life or death situation, though I kind of want to shoot everybody in the ass right now. Including you." At that, his smirk expands to a grin, the first, she thinks, she's seen since his arrival at the Tower. Of course, she hadn't smiled much when she first arrived at S.H.I.E.L.D. either. She watches him for a moment before continuing, her voice softer as she says, "I'm asking you to help me, and since I know that you don't like me, I'm proposing it as a deal so you have incentive to say yes."
The grin fades. Loki stares at her, his expression solemn. Natasha waits, returning his gaze, and then, after another moment, he nods. Crossing the room, Natasha stops beside the bed. Loki pushes back the blankets, and she places her knife on the nearby table as she says, "I'll burn your blankets if you try anything. And toss your coffee out the window."
Loki raises a brow. "Promises, promises."
Narrowing her eyes, Natasha climbs into the bed. At the first touch of his skin, as cool as the color indicates, she knows she made the right choice, the chill emanating from Loki enough to allow her to sleep for the night, the first in nearly three weeks. The tension starts to fade from her body as she lies beside him, sanity returning to her mind, and she says, so softly she wonders if he will hear it, "Thank you."
Loki stiffens beside her. A few seconds pass and then he says, "You're welcome."
Bruce enters the common room to find Loki sitting on the couch watching the "Jungles" episode of Planet Earth. The patches of Loki's skin that he can see around his thick black jacket are as blue as the bird currently on the screen. He knows Steve told him to stay away, but Bruce feels the heat digging past the last of his defenses, and he would rather deal with a snarling Loki than a roaring Hulk.
Loki eyes him as he approaches. "You're not going to try to cuddle with me, are you?"
Bruce shakes his head.
Loki nods and returns his attention to the television, to the birds of paradise with their bright plumage and elaborate mating rituals, but Bruce does not go away. He hovers by the end of the couch, staring at Loki in plaintive sorrow.
After a moment, Loki sighs. "You want to sit next to me, don't you?"
Loki continues to eye him. "Why don't you just leave?" he asks. "And don't try to claim that you stay because of me because we both know that is a lie."
"But we do stay because of you." At that, Loki raises a brow and Bruce clarifies. "Perhaps not to interact with you because you've made it clear the only one of us worthy of your time is Jarvis. But do you know how many cameras were recording your invasion back in May? We can't leave the building without getting swarmed. Tony can deal with that kind of stress, but this is his home so he's not going to leave. Thor stays for you. But the rest of us…" Bruce trails off and looks away, one hand tightening into a fist. "We don't always do so well out in the world, especially when the world takes notice."
Loki stares at him for a moment, his gaze impassive. Then he sighs and eases over on the couch. Bruce starts forward as Loki unbuttons his jacket and drapes it over the armrest. Keeping a respectful three inches between them, Bruce sits beside Loki, and his eyes nearly shut at the chill that soothes his feverish skin. He feels the Other Guy abate within him and he relaxes for the first time in days.
They watch the birds of paradise perform their elaborate mating rituals on screen. Bruce sees Loki eye him again, and he resists the urge to fidget under the assessment. "Did you know," he says instead, "that the birds of paradise only live in New Guinea and the surrounding islands?"
Bruce nods and says nothing more. He coughs once and watches a small bird puff out its feathers like a bell as it delicately dances for a potential mate. Loki shifts beside him. The awkward silence is almost enough to drive Bruce away, despite the lucidity inducing coolness, but then Loki says, "Did you know that the native tribes of the area use the feathers as currency?"
Bruce knows, but he shakes his head. Loki quirks a brow, and Bruce smiles. "Okay, yes, I knew that."
"So why did you say no?"
"So you would continue talking to me."
Loki scowls. "You mean, so I would continue cooling you."
"No," Bruce says. "If that's what I meant, that's what I would have said."
Loki regards him quietly. Bruce returns the stare, his gaze calm and forthright. After a moment, Loki nods and silence descends once again. The bird segment ends and one on tree frogs begins. Then Loki says, "Tell Stark the next time that the air conditioning breaks, you can simply ask me for aid. This ritual, though amusing, is unnecessary."
Before Steve can determine how best to approach Loki for aid, Loki finds him. He lies on bags of ice in what used to be Tony's sauna, his eyes closed, listening to music from the 1990s, part of his ongoing homework from Tony to stop being the walking cultural tragedy that he is. As he listens, Steve finds that he prefers music from the first half of the decade, the pop trifles of the latter half grating like sandpaper against his brain, which he doesn't need now given the tenuous grip that he has on his sanity at the moment.
"Why have you ordered your team to claim that it is I that hate all of you and prevent any sort of reconciliation between us?"
Steve opens his eyes to find Loki beside him, his arms folded across his chest, irritation clear on his face.
"Because it is," Steve says, thrown by the question. A beat passes and then he sits and reaches for the t-shirt on the nearby bench. Loki eases back as Steve stands and puts on the shirt. "Lights, please, Jarvis."
The lights illuminate. Steve raises a brow at the contrast in clothing between himself and Loki, Steve barefoot, in shorts and a shirt, while Loki wears boots, pants, a dark grey sweater, and a patterned scarf around his neck.
Loki shakes his head. "No, it's you and your team. It's not me."
Steve frowns at that. "But you leave every time you enter a room and see one of us there."
"I leave because no one speaks to me."
"You leave before we can try."
"I've seen when you lot attempt conversation," Loki says, smirking. "Trust me, leaving is for the best."
"For who?" Steve asks. "You? You're stuck in a building with people you tried to kill because you can't conceal your appearance anymore, and you think the best situation is to ignore us and hope we go away?"
Loki narrows his eyes. "I didn't say that."
"So you don't want us to go away?"
The smirk reappears. "I didn't say that either."
"Then what do you want?" Steve asks, his patience slipping the longer he's away from the ice. "You choose to stay here instead of on Asgard, yet you don't talk to any of us, you just stay in your room or you walk around, talking only to Jarvis, scowling whenever any of us walk by. That's not helping. You're just making life more awkward for yourself."
"How can it not be?" Loki asks, taking a step toward Steve. "As you so astutely said, since I can no longer conceal my Jotun form, I can go to Jotunheim or return to Asgard or stay here. I killed the king of Jotunheim, so the welcome there would be most unfortunate, and the only thing they hate more on Asgard than Frost Giants is me, so I can't go there either. So I'm stuck on this planet and in this building with people who hate me because I tried to kill them. How can this not be awkward?"
Steve shrugs. "I don't know, but it can be. We're kind of experts at dealing with awkward situations."
"Yes, because your life as a beloved national hero is so tragically difficult."
Steve narrows his eyes. "Don't play the martyr. I know you know about us, that Clint told you about us before."
Now Loki shrugs. "He may have mentioned one or two things," he says, vague and unrepentant.
"Like how you're not the only one who knows what it's like to be a walking block of ice, stuck in a time and place not of your choosing? Or how you're not the only one who knows what its like to look in the mirror and see a raging monster look back at you? Or how you're not the only one who's killed before and—"
"Okay," Loki says, rolling his eyes. "You've made your point. Your team and I are cosmic soul mates, and, if we only tried, we would be the best of friends."
Steve smiles. "Exactly." The smile turns into a smirk as he looks at Loki. "Well, that, and I'll have Jarvis play the Macarena every time you leave a room without talking to us."
Loki raises a brow. "The Macarena?"
The Macarena begins to play in the sauna. Steve starts to snap his fingers to the beat as Loki's eyes widen and he retreats. "You have a heretofore unknown capacity for evil, Captain."
"There's a dance, too," Steve says with a grin as Loki flees the sauna, progress, he hopes, having been made.
One by one, Jarvis alerts the Avengers to their requested presence at the pool on the 42nd floor. As they begin to make their way, he resumes his conversation with Loki.
"They come, sir."
He sees Loki nod and close his eyes. After a moment, his sensors detect that the temperature in the room begins to fall. The waves in the pool still, the molecules slowing, the water freezing. He observes the table laden with iced coffee and ice cream, acquired by Pepper earlier that day, and the six pairs of ice skates beside the pool, snuck into the Tower by Jane and Darcy that morning.
Jarvis watches as the Avengers assemble in the elevator. "Director Fury was right," he says to Loki. "They just needed a push."
"No," Loki says, opening his eyes. "They needed a push and a shove and then a headlong tumble into insanity."
"They are a quite stubborn lot, aren't they?" Jarvis says. "I feared after day fifteen that I would have to turn the air conditioning back on to prevent Mister Stark from buying new units. Or from giving away his island in the Caribbean to the first person he saw with a working fan."
Loki smirks as he waves his hand over the now frozen water in the pool, smoothing the surface for skating. Jarvis observes his heart rate increase as the elevator at the end of the hall dings and the door opens.
"This will work, sir. You have made the effort. They will as well."
Loki swallows and nods and moves to stand in the corner to await the arrival of the Avengers. Jarvis retreats, sure of the success of his cunningly devised and foolproof plan, to alert Pepper and Jane and Darcy of the imminent return of air conditioning, on this day, the second hottest day of the hottest month of the year, the year that saw Loki introduce Thor to the wonders of Planet Earth and Clint to the wonders of Tandoori chicken paired with frozen custard; create a book club with Natasha and Pepper, the first selection, of course, being One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; and join Tony, Bruce, Jane, and Darcy in the labs to create even more exciting science.
AN2: Feedback is a wonderful and much appreciated thing. :)