Sleight of Hand @babykitsune_9
Chapter 19

Ichigo let Thor and Bruce take the lead on explaining things to the others.

Which was probably a good thing since they knew more about Loki than she did. And when the others didn't believe them, Ichigo had Friday pull up whatever she had already found to prove their claims weren't false.

And no- they weren't being mind controlled either- like Happy had stubbornly decided since Loki was a 'bad guy'. While they were looking through what Friday had found from Loki's last visit to Earth, Ichigo made her mission of sorts to point out that his eyes had been the same color of glowing blue as Hawkeye's when he'd been under mind control.

And had then set about arguing with all of them that in many cases of someone being mind controlled, the person controlling them usually left physical evidence behind on the person.

And when Happy had snapped at her that she couldn't possibly know that- she's showed him and the others the small scars on her temples and the one on the nape of her neck too.

In most cases, the only truly noticeable one was the one on her nape. However since she'd lost a little bit of blood earlier, that made the ones on her temples stand out just a little bit more than usual.

And naturally after everyone- including Thor, Bruce, and Loki had seen the small scars- she'd then had to explain about how she got them.

Which wasn't pleasant for her considering the various events that happened before and after she'd broken the mind control on her. However once she finished talking, she saw Pepper and Rhodey both exchange a severely displeased look. While Happy looked a great deal less...upset about Loki's presence and more rattled by the idea of her being mind controlled by someone on three or four separate occasions.

Finally Rhodey seemed to think things over a little bit more before asking, "Okay. We get it. If Loki was in fact mind controlled during the attack on New York, then he isn't exactly responsible for all of the damages, death and injured. So what's the plan? How are we supposed to help him? You do know that anyone who finds out about his presence will cry that we are being controlled too. And he'll likely wind up before a firing squad-" Pepper quickly slapped a hand over his mouth to shut him up before interjecting smoothly.

"What Rhodey means, is that he still has to stand trial for what happened before."

"I'm aware of that. So this is what we're going to do- he will stand trial, but we're going to work towards getting him acquitted of all charges. He'll do a little bit of time on probation to earn our trust." She said as she felt Loki start to open his mouth, and absently reached out and grasped his hand and gave it a small squeeze. Startling him into silence. "He'll have to wear a tracer that can help us locate him at all times. So that if he gets himself into trouble of some kind, we can either help him or-"

"Apprehend him." Thor said in a resigned tone. Ichigo thinned her lips a little in displeasure but nodded her head quietly before then continuing.

"Yeah. Look, I'm not saying that it'll be easy. It won't. But for now, he's safer here in our custody than anyone else's. I mean think about it, trapping him in a jail cell would be a bad idea of epic proportions. Especially given how many people are likely holding grudges over what happened. Besides, we're the ones best equipped to handle him if he does become a threat."

"You're right. We are. However once you get him acquitted, then what will we do with him?"

"We'll, we can find him someplace to live if it's what he wants. He'd be freer to come and go however he pleases. And if he doesn't object...I really think he'd do well as one of the new Avengers."

Loki, Thor, and Bruce all looked at her with expressions of utter bafflement, shock, and wonder as she tacked on, "I mean think about it. Just because he likes mischief doesn't make him a bad person. Neither does being able to lie really well. Some of the best lies I've ever heard were from the business end of a weapon- and he can do that whole...glamour thing. That could be really useful for going undercover and infiltration. And since Bruce and Thor were never removed from the original Avengers roster, then they can also be part of the new Avengers group. Loki would have some familiar faces, and wouldn't have too much trouble being a solid member of the group."

Pepper grinned while Rhodey scowled at Ichigo and then turned to her and asked, "Have you been teaching her how to argue? I feel like you've been teaching her how to argue."

Pepper's grin got downright shark-esque as she chirped happily, "That's right. The second that your backs were turned I taught her really bad things. Be afraid."

"We are." Both Rhodey and Happy deadpanned in unison while the other three men merely observed them as Ichigo then decided that their talk was done for now and tapped Loki on the hand to get his attention and motioned with her head for him to follow her.

He didn't know how they managed to sneak out of the room, especially with the animals (except the rabbit- it seemed to have refused to join them) in tow, without being noticed by anyone. But they somehow managed it.

"My lady-" He started to ask her what she was doing. After all, he couldn't imagine anyone being very pleased at her taking him and running off. Especially while injured. And on top of that he could literally feel the fatigue and pain that she was currently feeling, rolling off of her in waves.

And it made him increasingly uncomfortable. Honestly, he wasn't entirely sure how she hadn't lost consciousness just yet. But he was worried that she might be overdoing things a bit, to see to him.

And he wanted to put her at ease.

You know, let her know that he was alright with being left to his own vices for a little while. It wasn't as if he'd never been left alone for a stretch of time before. In fact it tended to happen fairly often.

However he never got the chance to really say anything before she reached out and grabbed his hand in hers and began to tug him along with her down the hall while the felines wound themselves around their legs and meowed excitedly.

"My name is Ichigo, not my lady. There's no need for you to be so formal here. So try to relax okay?" She said as she led him into a room. It was furnished, and appeared to have someone already staying there from the looks of the few things present. There were a few pictures in little frames.

Not many, mind you. But about four or five of them in all.

There was also a...laptop computer? sitting on the small, low table between the couch and the rest of the seats.

Letting go of his hand to let him explore her room a little, she started talking at the cats. Saying random things like, "Yes, yes, I know." and "You're all hungry. And in desperate need of lovin's." and "Let's get you taken care of so that you can take turns flopping all over me."

Her little one sided conversation with the felines made Loki's lips twitch in amusement as the animals practically started to climb all over her when she pulled out some cans of tuna from a cabinet in the kitchen.

He watched her feed them and pet them before she finally rejoined him.

"Sorry, I didn't realize how demanding they would be." She said in a slightly apologetic tone as she walked back to him.

"That's quite alright. I'm well versed in the...needs and affections of animals."

"You've had pets before?" She asked curiously causing him to smile a little. It was a small smile. Almost shy in nature, but it transformed his features quite a bit.

"Some," He admitted. "Snakes, wolves- my brother."

Ichigo huffed a quiet laugh at how he referred to Thor as a pet.

The blond did seem sort of like a giant golden retriever. The man was said to be hyper affectionate and so damned cheerful that it was just ridiculous.

Honestly, if anyone had told her a month ago that she would be having to meet/deal with someone so cheerful- she would have not only laughed at them, but punched them in the throat and laughed again. But...here she was.

Meeting people that she didn't even know existed- well okay that was a lie. She knew that they existed. Disgustingly cheerful people always existed somewhere.

But that didn't mean that she had to be happy about it any. After all, she had a reputation to maintain.

"May I ask why you brought me here, My- er, Ichigo?" Loki finally asked.

"Oh, right. I didn't explain anything before I dragged you off." She muttered before then saying, "I thought that you might appreciate a little bit of time away from everyone. You know, to relax and unwind a little bit."

He looked just a tad bit startled by her words and gave her another small smile. "That's very kind of you. But is this not your own room?"

"It is. And I have to be in bed soon." She said quickly, her words causing him to raise a brow at her. "But- I thought that maybe since I'll be asleep soon anyways, that you can just hang out here and rest and stuff. Maybe watch some movies? I have food in the kitchen too if your hungry-" She said as she pointed towards the kitchen area before awkwardly tacking on. "I mean, I don't know if you've eaten just yet or anything. But you can help yourself. It's not going to bother me any."

"That...is...sweet." He said, stumbling over the words a little bit because he wasn't entirely sure what else to say. He was at a loss here with how to deal with her. After all, she was a child.

A brilliant child. But a child nevertheless.

So it wasn't as if he could treat her as if he would other females. No- he had to tread carefully here because of her youth. Which...wasn't terrible or anything. Especially since he liked children.

The fact that Ichigo was in her teens, meant little to nothing to him. To him, when he looked at her- he saw someone in need of protecting.

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