Yes, Loki had surrendered to the so-called Avengers earlier that day. But that didn't mean he would accept whatever they had in store for him as punishment. He was being held in court, with Thor at his side and what felt like the entire Asgardian population at his back.
The All-Father surveyed him silently from the throne before him, expression stern but otherwise carefully devoid of emotion.
It was clear from the angry whispers behind him and the look on his once-father's face that Loki wasn't welcome in Asgard anymore. He knew he no longer had a home or a family; he could not even call himself Odinson. As if he'd ever want to. He was just Loki now. Being tried for something he'd done, but not because he had wanted to do it. It was a complicated issue.
None of that mattered now. Odin had made up his mind, and Loki had no say in it. He just had to suffer the consequences.
The next day, The Avengers were all sitting around the large table in the conference room, with Thor and Director Fury standing somewhat uncomfortably at the front of the room. Thor had just come back with news from Asgard, news that Fury already knew and had the tolerance and consideration not to share.
Which was why Thor was the one to break it to the team.
"My friends, it seems I'll have to ask all of you a favour..." Thor started, looking at all of them before continuing again, "My father has tried Loki for his deeds. Loki will be permitted to keep his powers, if one of you could... keep an eye on him."
Clint was the first to scoff, the others (sans Tony, because Tony Stark is the opposite of patient) waiting patiently for Thor to elaborate on his request.
"The All-Father has decided that my... brother, needs someone to take responsibility for him. To care for him, and show him the wrong of his deeds."
Yeah, they still had no clue of what he was talking about. But Bruce started to sweat slightly from the conversation, Clint tensed up at each word, and Tony was playing on his phone (if it was really important Bruce would tell him what he was missing).
Only Steve and Natasha were still wearing their serious faces while listening to him.
"Which is why... he wants one of you to marry Loki."
Tony only heard the word marry, but that was more than enough to catch his attention, given the context.
"Director, what the fuck is he talking about?!" Barton couldn't keep it to himself anymore and in a blink he was standing, fists clenched as he tried to keep his composure.
"Calm down, Barton. I don't like this idea any more than you." Fury said, almost as if he were trying to be soothing Clint, "But what the All-Father says is law. And this is his son too, regardless of how recently said son tried to level New York. So there's not much we can do about it. You're grown superheroes. I trust you will find a way out of this." Fury said with a rather malicious smirk before leaving the room.
"Now, Thor, you can't be serious..." Steve said cautiously, rising from his seat and walking slowly to the thunder god, "We can't let that happen to Natasha. It wouldn't be fair to a lady like her."
Tony laughed at that, sliding his phone into his pocket as he moved closer to the blonde, "Rogers, I don't think you understand what Point Break is telling us. He said 'one of you', not 'Natasha'."
Huh. Apparently a part of Tony's brain was paying attention, after all.
"Plus, I can take care of myself, Captain." Natasha said, giving Steve two gentle pats on the cheek.
"But... you're the only woman in our group, Ms. Romanoff." Steve replied, confused.
"Uhm... Mr Rogers, if I may?" Bruce removed his glasses and began to clean them on the hem of his shirt, a gesture that Tony had come to recognize as Bruce's strategy for buying himself time to think. As pissed off as Clint was, Bruce was even more upset. He was visibly trying to calm himself down before he opened his mouth to speak.
"I'm not sure what Asgard thinks of same-sex marriage, but uhm... let's just say that nowadays, here, the idea's been discussed in a number of countries. And while it's not exactly legal in New York, there are other states in which it is." Bruce shrugged, a shy smile starting to work its way onto his face.
"Right, so let me get this straight..." Tony crossed his arms. "Your father," He started, mildly pointing at Thor, "wants one of us," his finger motioning to everyone in the room, "to marry your crazy brother" he did the universal 'that guy is insane' gesture with his finger, "so he can get his redemption?!"
"My brother is not 'crazy', Tony Stark." The god countered, looking a bit offended, "And it's not quite that simple. Once one of you marries Loki, the All-Father will give you full control over him-"
"What do you mean full control?" Clint asked, suddenly more interested in the whole deal. Natasha rolled her eyes at that.
"Calm down, Merida, let Pikachu talk." Tony turned his attention back to Thor, "So, why, exactly, do we have to marry him for that?"
The thunder god shook his head, "I do not know for sure. My father said he would explain the details to the... other fiancé."
Bruce sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "So what do we do now? I'm sure none of us are going to willingly marry Loki, right?"
It was true, though. None of them were about to raise their hand and say 'Oh hey, you know what, I actually want to marry the psychopath!' or even 'Fine, I'll take one for the team'. This called for extreme measures. Decision-making like adults – like superheroes.
So, naturally, Tony figured he'd let fate decide (Not that he believed in that shit anyway, but at least if they did it with a game, The Chosen One wouldn't whine so much about it, right?).
He quickly moved to the table, snatched a piece of paper, and cut off 3 long strips and one short one
"Alright, to make it fair, let's draw straws... without the straws, because we don't have time to go around SHIELD looking for straws and hell, I don't even think we'd find any here, unless Ms. Romanoff over here has straws hidden under her catsuit... Unlikely."
He cleared his throat.
"Anyway, you guys know the rules, I guess. Each one of us chooses one of these..." he waved the paper slips around in the air, gesturing, "And whoever gets the smallest one, loses."
Clint was the first to notice, "Stark, you only have four of those. Did you forget how to count?"
Tony raised an eyebrow and patted Clint on the back reassuringly, "Oh no buddy, I'm just taking you out of the game, that's all."
"Sorry, dude. Thor said whoever marries Loki gets 'control' over him. I don't think I could leave you alone with him, not with that much power. And despite what might be said to the contrary, I'm not THAT much of a voyeur."
"I'm gonna have to agree with Stark, Agent Barton." Steve stepped in after rolling his eyes at Tony, "After what he did to you, perhaps it'd be better for everyone if you weren't an option?"
"What? That's bullsh-"
"What about the other missing paper, Stark? There are six of us." Natasha pointed out.
"That's Thor." Tony gestured to the big guy, now sitting and waiting patiently for their decision. "Sorry man, but you're his brother. Adopted or not, that's kind of..." He decided not to finish the sentence.
But the god simply smiled and shook his head once more, "It's alright, Man Of Iron. I said it had to be one of you, not one of us." He winked.
Hah. Funny guy.
"That leaves... me, Tony, Natasha and Steve." Bruce said finally, moving closer to Tony's handful of 'straws'. "I... just don't think I'm a good choice, either, Tony."
Tony gave Bruce's shoulder a reassuring squeeze, "What do you mean, man? I don't think-"
"Loki... could... irritate the other guy easily." Bruce interrupted with an apologetic smile. "I don't think it'd be a good idea, Tony." He stepped back to to sit with Thor and Clint.
Tony sighs, "Very well, then. Natasha, Rogers and I-"
"Tony..." Steve started too, and seriously, Tony knew nobody wanted to marry the bastard, but they'd find a way out of this mess so the arrangement wasn't permanent. They just needed to know what the All-Father had in mind with this 'wedding'. Then they'd... do something.
"Yeah, Rogers, what is it?" Tony answered with a sigh, fighting his impulse to facepalm.
Steve ran his fingers through his hair nervously, looking everywhere but his teammates' eyes. "Uhm... look... I'm not really... comfortable with the idea of marrying a guy."
As much as Steve's general righteousness, cheeriness, so-called 'selflessness' and all his other -nesses drove Tony crazy, he was at least trying to be understanding. The guys was born in the forties, and Tony knew 'how it was'.
Maybe he was leering at the guy, because the second Rogers looked at him he almost choked, his hands coming up as if to defend himself. "I-I'm not homophobic, Tony! Jeez! I just... I don't... I'm not..." He struggled with how to explain himself without offending someone – likely Tony.
Natasha laid a hand on his shoulder, trying her best to be comforting "Captain, it's alright. There probably won't even need to be any marital... bonding." She put it simply, shrugging. "Isn't that right, Thor?"
Thor pursed his lips, "In all fairness, Lady Romanoff, in order for the wedding to be valid-"
"Yeah, no." Steve cut him abruptly, quickly sitting at the table with the other Avengers. "It's up to you and Ms. Romanoff, Stark."
With another sigh, Tony threw away another paper. Natasha simply smirked at him, amused with his discomfort "So... you and me, Mr. Stark."
"I hope you know I'm not losing this, Ms. Romanoff" Tony replied dryly.
Behind them, cheers could be heard from Barton and Banner.
"Woo! You got this, 'Tasha!" Clint shouted, pumping his fist.
"I believe in you, Tony!" Bruce said firmly, nodding.
Whether they were rooting for them to win or to lose, Tony wasn't sure. Hell, he didn't even know what success or failure even looked like in this case.
He shuffled the two remaining papers, careful not to look at which one was the longest. He didn't want to be chosen, but the Black Widow's skills were sharp. She'd know if Tony even thought about cheating.
She never stopped smirking.
"Ready?" She asked, placing her finger on one of the slips, her eyes never leaving Tony's.
He scoffed, trying his damnedest to match her devil-may-care attitude about the whole thing. "Ready."
When they both looked down at the slips of paper in their hands, Tony couldn't help but bitch about it.
"No fair, Widow, you must've switched our papers!"
Her deadly stare made him freeze. "Are you implying I cheated, Stark?"
Tony looked away, ripping the short paper into tiny little pieces. "No, not at all."
The other Avengers tried to stifle their laughs (poorly).
"Well, if that's settled, I wish to have some words with Tony Stark." Thor said cheerily, getting up from his seat and clasping a heavy hand on Tony's shoulder.
"Fine, whatever you want, Goldilocks. Let's get out of here first. I don't want to be around when the news start spreading." Tony murmured irritably.
Each Avenger left the room one after the other, with Clint and Natasha being the last ones to leave.
When they were alone in the hallway, Clint turned to look at Natasha, "So, did you actually switch the papers or something? I was too distracted with Stark's distress to pay attention." He chuckled.
She grinned back. "I didn't need to. He was so nervous that he ended up showing me the longest one. I simply took it."
"That's good. You know, I don't think I'd like the idea of you marrying that weirdo, anyway." He shrugged, smiling at her.
She allowed a small smile past her lips. "As much fun it would be to watch you torture him, I wouldn't like it either."