Disclaimer: I do not own The Avengers or Thor.

Minor spoilers here for Thor: The Dark World. Aside from making me laugh and warming my little fangirl heart, I was curious why Loki chose to imitate Steve out of all of the Avengers and how he feels "so righteous." I tend to overthink things, so I thought maybe Loki wants to know what makes Steve tick, what makes him want to be good. Steve has his shortcomings too, just like any other person, but it's what we do with the chances that are given to us that shape who we are. Thus, this piece was born.

No slash, as always, just some good old-fashioned bonding. =)

Loki first appeared next to him at a coffee shop.

Steve had just settled down at a table after spending several minutes at the counter while the barista explained the difference between a latte and a cappuccino. The poor girl looked a bit miffed when he decided to go with a plain cup of coffee.

Who knew ordering coffee could be such a complicated undertaking? Steve mused as he sipped at his coffee and rummaged in his bag for his sketchbook and pencils.

"This is a droll little shop for such an esteemed gentleman like yourself to visit."

Steve's eyes jerked across the table for the source of the words. The formerly empty chair there was now occupied by the god of mischief himself, complete with a smile that would put a Cheshire cat to shame.

Steve's hand tightened around the pencil he'd retrieved - the only thing he had that could reasonably used as a weapon. "Loki. What are you doing here?"

The god's grin widened. "Perhaps I am merely accustoming myself to this city's life as you seem to be doing. No god or super soldier here. It's really quite...charming."

Steve didn't relinquish his grip on the pencil, but neither did he make a move to use it. After all, Loki did look as if he were here on a casual visit, dressed in dark jeans and a green sweater. But the trickster had fooled him before and he wasn't willing to relax his guard because of the seeming pleasantries of his company.

"Come now, Captain, put down the pencil. We both know it won't do you any good anyway." Loki's eyes sparkled.

"I could call SHIELD," the captain said as he reluctantly put the pencil on the table.

"But you won't."

"How can you be so sure?"

Loki clasped his hands together, long fingers intertwining, and leaned forward on the table. "Because you have a curious nature, my good Captain. You like to figure things out on your own, not based on what others tell you. You won't call SHIELD or your little hum-drum gang of Avengers because you genuinely want to know why I am here."

"And why are you here?"

"Hmm," Loki grinned. "Why don't you figure it out? I would so love to see what you come up with."

Steve shifted under the intensity of that gaze and wished, much to his surprise, that Tony were here. Or Natasha. Even Clint or Bruce seemed much more adept at reading people than he ever was or could be. He tended to take things at face value and this world full of double meanings and inside jokes had him hopelessly confused. And now he had the god of lies himself sitting across from him, taunting him to figure out a puzzle he would never solve.

He huffed out a breath in frustration. "I don't know. If you wanted a battle of wits with someone then I'm afraid you picked the wrong guy. I'm not clever and I don't like tricks, so why are you here?"

"No, you're not very clever, are you?" Loki tilted his head to one side.

Steve swallowed at the words, but they lacked the usual sting that they had when someone like Tony said them.

"You're not clever; your strength is meager compared to something like that of the Hulk; you have no high-grade skills or weapons; so tell me, why are you here?"

The Captain's hand tightened around the coffee cup he didn't realize he was still holding and he had to calm his anger before he sent pieces of ceramic flying across the cafe. To hear his own shortcomings in his head was one thing, but to have someone else, an enemy, voice them was almost more than he could bear. "So you've come to taunt me? Of all the mischief you could think to do in this world, you thought the best use of your time was to come here and put me in my place?"

A flash of something - regret, maybe? - darted across Loki's expression before his typical grin took its place. "It was an honest question, Captain. I did not mean to offend."

Steve snorted. "Sure you didn't. Well, here's an honest answer. I don't know why I'm here, okay? I know I'm not even qualified to order coffee in this world because I can't get my terms right. But I was put here for a reason, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I may not have figured out that reason yet, but I'm not just going to sit here and whine about how life is passing me by when I've been given a second shot at it."

He stopped himself before he could say anything else, embarrassed at how much he'd already let spill out. To his surprise, Loki did not laugh at him. Instead the god stared at him with something akin to respect.

"Well then, my good Captain, I believe I have what I came for. Please, enjoy your coffee."

And before Steve could think of anything to say in return, Loki was gone.

The second time Loki appeared to him, Steve was clearing up the rubble of a news station after a weird robotic creature attacked it.

"You truly are an enigma."

Steve didn't jump, but his grip tightened on the shovel he held as he caught sight of Loki perched on some debris a couple of yards away. "I don't know what you mean."

"You're helping to clean up a news station that sullied your good name."

Steve bit his cheek to keep from laughing at the word "sullied." Somehow he didn't think Loki would take that reaction kindly. "I always help clean up after an attack. Super strength comes in handy when clearing away rubble."

Loki dismissed his explanation with an impatient wave of his hand. "But there are plenty of other buildings to clean up after, why clean this one? After all, isn't this place responsible for such charming headlines as 'Captain America: The Man Out of Time and Out of Place' and 'Steve Rogers: Better Left in the Ice'?"

Steve looked down. "Do you enjoy trying to rile me?"

"I am merely trying to figure out why you don't leave the building to its fate. Surely they deserve such ruin."

"I don't know. Maybe they do. But maybe I deserved to stay in the ice too." Steve shrugged and glanced back up at Loki with a tight smile. "But sometimes we don't get what we deserve. Sometimes we get a chance to make things right. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to give that chance to people."

He blinked and suddenly Loki was right in front of him, his towering frame making Steve feel unquestionably small. "Even to slanderers? To brutes? To...monsters?"

Steve found the courage to look straight into those bright, angry eyes and saw the need lying beneath, the hope that could easily turn to despair if he gave the wrong answer. "Yes. Especially to them, because they understand the value of the gift they've been given."

Loki stepped back.

Steve couldn't read his expression.

"Well then," the trickster said, "let us hope they don't waste their chance."

Then he was gone, but in his place, the news building stood with not a trace of the damage it had taken.

The third time, Steve was certain he was going to die.

Pinned to the wall by a spear, his teammates nowhere to be found, and any hope of rescue lying on the ground in the shattered pieces of his comm unit, he was positive that his time in this newfangled world was at an end.

Until Loki showed up in front of him, pacing in anger. "You are, without a doubt, the stupidest mortal I have ever come across."

"Well," Steve coughed, regretting it as the motion sent pain lancing through his body. "I never claimed...to be...smart."

"I do not understand you. You lost your shield, so you thought the next best thing was to throw yourself in the way of a spear? All to save a bunch of crooked bureaucrats?"

Steve gasped for air, trying to come up with a reasonable response. It was quite difficult to even think when he could feel his blood dripping down his legs. "It's...my...job."

Loki did not look particularly pleased by that comment. "It's your job to save wicked men at the expense of your own life?"

"Maybe they are wicked...maybe they aren't...but who am I to say...that they should die...when I can...save them?" Steve felt his body start to sag, his strength failing him. His eyes fluttered close.

"You are a mystery to me, Steve Rogers, one that I should like to understand better," Loki's voice was soft.

The pain vanished along with the heaviness that was surely the precursor to death. Steve opened his eyes to find himself sitting on the ground, his wounds completely healed, and the spear that nearly killed him lying on the ground next to him.

Loki watched him from a few feet away. "Don't you grow weary of doing good?"

"I'd be lying if I said no."

"Then why do you keep doing it?"

Steve stared at the trickster, trying to find the right words. The answer came to him. "I value the gift I've been given."

Make of this what you will. Thank you for reading. =) Oh, and, watch Thor: The Dark World. =D