Thanks to Bombshell1701 and livelaughlove for their reviews on chapter one!
. . .
As soon as the Avengers reached Stark Tower, Romanoff and Barton headed to the gym, while the others escorted Loki to what would be his room, at least temporarily. As Tony locked the door and told Jarvis to keep an eye (and every other type of surveillance he was programmed with) on the demigod, he thought about how he could increase security. The last thing he wanted was for Loki to get his little hands on an Iron Man suit.
Once Loki was safely locked away, Tony led Thor, Rogers and Banner to the guest kitchen. It was ordinary looking with the typical pale tile floor, granite countertops, buffet table and, of course, the big screen TV hanging on the wall. Rogers sat at the table, slinging his duffle bag onto the floor next to his feet.
"So, how long is this going to last?" Tony asked Thor, grabbing four glasses and a bottle of scotch.
"I do not know," Thor replied glumly, remaining standing while the others sat. He strode to the windows that looked out at New York city. His huge shoulders slumped forward. "This is only containment while my father debates with the council what Loki's punishment should be. To be fully truthful with you, my friends, we did not return to earth only to keep Loki from attempting escape. It is also for his protection. Many people of Asgard are crying out for his blood."
He turned back to them, and Tony saw the hurt in Thor's eyes. Quickly, he busied himself pouring drinks and handing them out. Rogers took his, though he didn't drink it. Just as well, Tony thought, given that the man couldn't actually enjoy it. Banner likewise didn't drink.
"I don't get it," Rogers said after a moment of silent contemplating. "Why would the Asgardians care what Loki did here?"
Thor downed his drink in a single gulp. "They do not," he replied bitterly. "Earth has become the center of their cry but in truth I do not believe that any of them truly care what Loki did to your realm. But he did try to kill me, the warriors three and the Lady Sif when he... when I was banished and Father was sleeping. And there is more."
"More?" Banner frowned.
"The people are not just angry with Loki's actions; they hate his being."
Tony poured Thor another drink, frowning. "What do you mean by that?"
Thor was clearly reluctant to reply, downing his drink again. Tony wondered whether he should have Pepper pick up some extra cases of alcohol before she came home... He winced. Pepper. Hopefully Fury had told her that Loki was coming for a brief visit...
"Loki was raised as their prince, as the son of their king and queen," Thor said quietly. "But he was not born to them; he is of Jötunn blood. Hatred of the Jötunns runs deep among my people, and they feel betrayed to have served and loved one in the guise of a prince. Loki's punishment is not simply a punishment for his actions, but a punishment for what he is; and a punishment on my parents for bringing a Jötunn into their family. They have forgotten the wars Loki fought and the deeds he did in defense of Asgard."
Silence ensued. Thor stood still, holding his empty cup and staring at the floor. Tony felt a twinge of sympathy; he couldn't imagine what it would be like to fight alongside a brother for thousands of years only to have that brother suddenly start trying to kill you. Still, he had no sympathy for Loki. He had made his own choices and dug his own pit. Tony glanced at Rogers and Banner to find them both staring down into their drinks as if something very important was in them.
"I do not expect you to show compassion or kindness to my brother," Thor said, breaking the silence. "But I do ask that you treat him with civility."
"I think I'll be avoiding him," Banner replied with a wry smile. "The 'other guy' got pretty agitated just seeing him. It's probably best if I stay away."
Thor nodded once, and continued to stare at the floor. Tony took a long draft of his drink, and shrugged.
"As long as he's in the tower he won't go hungry. Somebody probably better have a good talk with the assassins though. I doubt that Barton is capable of being civil towards Loki right now," he said casually. "But let's get to the important stuff; rooming arrangements!"
"Rooming arrangements?" Rogers repeated, a small, long-suffering grin on his face.
"I've got to have someplace to put you lot," Tony replied. "Obviously, Banner has his room, and Thor you can take the room across from Loki's. Cap, you can have the room to the left and Barton and Romanof... they can take the rooms on the far end of the floor."
"What rooms would those be?"
Tony jumped a foot into the air and turned. He hadn't heard Romanoff enter the kitchen. She stood with her arms crossed, gazing with impunity at the men.
"The ones farthest away from Loki's," Tony told her.
"I don't think that's such a good idea." Romanoff walked behind the counter and got herself a glass, which she held out to Tony for a drink. "We're supposed to be keeping an eye on Loki. How can we do that if we're on the other side of the floor?"
Tony shifted nervously, uncertain how to proceed. "I was just thinking that... you know..."
Romanoff rolled her eyes. "We're not going to try to kill him, Stark. Like I said, we're supposed to keep an eye on him. That's all we'll do, I assure you."
"Thank you," Thor said softly, and by the relief in his voice Tony could tell that even with his earlier warning he had been concerned about the assassins. "I know that this is difficult to ask all of you, but especially-"
"As to the matter of food," Romanoff interrupted. "How is that going to be arranged?"
"Pepper likes to have everyone in the house eat together," Tony said. "We can figure out a schedule that works for everybody. Jarvis is a great cook, so you can just let him know whatever dietary requirements you have."
"And what about Loki?" Rogers asked.
"He can get served in his room."
"Which brings me to another point," Romanoff said, and she sat down at the table next to Banner. "How good is your security?"
"It's the best that I can come up with. Although it really is more designed to keep people out, so I'll have to make a few adjustments to keep Loki in."
Romanoff nodded once.
"Any other questions?" Tony looked around, and when none were forth coming he nodded in satisfaction. "All right, the gym is two floors down, the theatre is right above us, but there's a TV room for less formal viewing down the hall and to the left. Obviously, this is the kitchen. Each room has a private bathroom suite, and there is a laundry room somewhere."
"It's just past the Rec room that way," Banner gestured.
"There's a Rec room on this floor?" Tony asked in surprise.
Banner rolled his eyes. "With a pool table and a dart board and a bar."
"Pepper does the decorating," Stark muttered as everybody gave him amused looks. "Which reminds me... Jarvis?"
"When is Pepper due to come home?"
-She is pulling in now, sir.-
"Right," Tony grimaced. "I'd better go talk to her and make sure she knows what's going on."
"And I'd better go tell Barton the arrangements," Romanoff said, standing. She left her drink on the table.
"Oh, Cap, I almost forgot. Do you need a ride anywhere to pick up your stuff?" Tony asked.
"Nope," Rogers replied, gesturing to the duffle bag. "I've got everything I need."
Tony frowned at the duffle bag. It was impossibly tiny to contain everything that a man could need. He shrugged, turning away and heading out to face Pepper. He very sincerely hoped that Fury had told her that Loki was going to be their houseguest but somehow he doubted it... the director still hadn't forgiven him for hacking into his files.
Pepper had been in many a bad situation. Missed deadlines, bad publicity, people trying to kill her... She had worked for Tony Stark for years, after all, and was now dating him. If that didn't make her a glutton for punishment, she wasn't sure what would
Maybe this, she thought with a wry shake of her head. She silently stood beside Tony as the elevator swiftly whirled upwards to the guest floor. Tony had spent three hours explaining to her what had happened in the eight hours she had been at Stark industries, and then she had spent another two wrapping her head around it. Then she had told Jarvis to assemble everybody in the guest kitchen – Loki included – and headed up.
"Is everyone gathered, Jarvis?" she asked as the elevator stopped.
-They have assembled, Miss Potts.-
"Pep, are you sure about this?" Tony asked. "Couldn't you at least tell me what you're thinking?"
Pepper smiled reassuringly, but didn't speak. Just before she stepped into the kitchen she took a deep breath to steel herself.
The Avengers sat quietly around the table, carefully not glaring at Loki, except for Bruce, who was standing a little apart. Loki was seated beside Thor. Pepper was surprised. Tony had told her that he looked like "a ten-year-old who wants to cut us open and watch us die slowly while being absolutely adorable" but she hadn't completely believed it. But there he stood, a scowl on his face looking every bit like a normal scowling ten-year-old –albeit not wearing normal clothing. Pepper wasn't sure what to think.
"Thank you all for gathering," she stared. "Tony has informed me of the situation. Since we will all be living under one roof, I have decided to lay down some rules that everybody will be expected to follow."
She held the gaze of each other the Avengers, making certain that especially Tony and Loki were paying attention. Tony gave her an innocent look. Loki looked intrigued despite himself. He opened his mouth, but Pepper raised her hand, cutting him off.
"Nobody is to say anything until I am finished. And when I am, I will allow each of you to voice your concerns. Understood?"
Pepper looked around again, waiting for each of them to nod before starting.
"Rule one: meals will be eaten together. Breakfast is at eight, lunch at noon, and supper is at five. If you are not here, you don't eat, except for circumstances that take you out of the tower." Pepper gauged the reactions her first rule had caused. With the exception of Barton and Loki they all looked bemused. The two aforementioned looked slightly hostile.
"Rule two; no weapons at the table. Rule three: everybody's room is private. You do not enter them without previous permission. Rule four: no fighting except in the gym and under controlled conditions."
Pepper paused again, this time because Tony had raised his hand. She contemplated her options for a moment, before fixing her gaze on her boyfriend. "Yes?"
"I understand the rules and everything, but why is he here?" Tony asked, pointing to Loki.
Pepper clasped her hands, readying herself for the storm that was sure to follow her next words. "Because these are rules that I expect him to follow as well. Loki will be given free access to everything on this floor."
"What?" Barton and Loki demanded in unison. They briefly glared at each other before turning their gazes back to Pepper.
Pepper responded with what she liked to think of as her trademark calm smile. All of the Avengers (plus one Little Loki) were staring at her as if she had lost her mind. Some part in the back of her head, she was staring at herself like that as well.
"Access will be limited to this floor exclusively, but there isn't any point in keeping him locked up in a single room, as I imagine he'd be able to get out just as easily as stay in."
Loki shrugged, somehow looking both sour and pleased.
"Pep-" Tony started, but Pepper didn't let him.
"The six of you are grown adults-"
"I am an adult as well!" Loki protested.
"And this is my house-"
"Our house," Tony muttered.
"And as such what I say goes, and I say that Loki is free to live on this floor – so long as he doesn't go into anybody else's private rooms, or breaks things, or tries to escape. Understood?"
Pepper met the gazes directed at her. Barton was furious, Natasha's brows were furrowed, Tony looked confused, Rogers likewise, Thor was both uncertain and grateful, Loki looked slightly murderous, and Banner was the only one who looked as though he didn't disagree with Pepper. That's not to say that he looked like he agreed, but he looked thoughtful.
"Which reminds me. We'll have to get the two of you," here she frowned at both Thor and Loki, "some clothes that won't make you stand out. All right. Now. Back to the rules."
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