Laufeyson town house
Greenwich Village, NYC
Loki dreamed of sandcastles and the sparkle of sunlit waves, coconut sunscreen and triple decker ice cream sundaes. He was just about to bite into his cone when the strident theme of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries interrupted his lovely reverie.
Rolling over, he groped for his phone, growling, "Nine Hells, Thor!" Blearily he looked at his screen and saw a text from his brother blinking.
Avengers Assemble! Kang is back! Yes, Loki, this means you.
Dragging a hand across his eyes, the Master of Mischief sat up. He felt like the Sandman had dumped a ton of sand into his head and he yawned before brushing his unruly ebony locks away from his face. His fingers danced across the keyboard.
On my way. Just let me wake up Sam and get dressed.
Hurry, brother. Time's flying.
"Yeah. Yeah. Keep your armor on!" Loki grumbled, crawling out of bed. "I'd like to see you be all chirpy if you'd spent the last night soothing your petrified Seer baby girl back to sleep after a nightmare, O Mighty One!"
As the only adult in a houseful of kids, he'd developed the habit of occasionally talking to himself so he would have an adult conversation. He padded across the thick emerald green carpet in his usual nighttime attire of green and gold boxers adorned with Old Norse runes, a gift from his eldest child, Sam, who loved history and sewing in her spare time.
After emerging from the shower in record time, he dried his hair with a brief spell and began to pull on his costume, armor, and boots. His helmet was on a stand beside the closet and Laevateinn was hanging high up on the wall where no little sticky fingers could grab her, with a Don't Touch Me ward surrounding her. He'd learned that kids and sharp swords didn't mix after the first year the kids had moved in and Max ended up with stitches after Vince tried to "ninjify" him while Loki was in the shower.
Cape . . . where's my cape? He looked about for his shimmery emerald and gold cape then recalled he'd left it hanging over the chair in the kitchen last night since he'd been helping Serena with her book report, while his two youngest, Maximus and Aleta, ages four and three, drew pictures and used the Jewel Bedazzler on their spare T-shirts. He buckled Laevateinn on and tucked his horned helmet under an arm then headed to the kitchen to grab his emergency snack satchel, cape, and hopefully a quick bite to eat.
On the way he knocked at Samantha's door. His eldest fosterling was 15, tall, skinny, and trans gender who was sometimes Samantha and other times Sam. Today, she was Samantha, he noted, when she opened the door, because her blond spiky hair was pink at the tips. "Morning, kiddo."
"S'up, Dad?" she yawned, rubbing her eyes. She had on her favorite cat pajamas. "You get called out again?"
"Afraid so. Your uncle just texted me. Kang's up to his old tricks again."
"That crazy old fart? Kick his butt, Dad," she urged. "I'll watch the rugrats till you get back."
"I'm just glad it's Sunday," her father said, then gave her a hug. "Gotta run, darling. I'll see you later."
"Be safe," Sam hugged him back. "Go, Dad. Before the little spark hears ya."
Loki tucked his phone into a pocket of his pants and hurried into the kitchen. He hit the button on the coffee maker, thank the Norns Sam had set it up to insta brew the night before. As Dark Magic coffee flowed into his travel mug with his special golden helmet logo on it, he zapped a bacon, egg, and cheese Hot Pocket with magic and scarfed it down. Breakfast in five seconds. He thought, licking his fingers. Kang, couldn't you have picked another day to invade Midgard? I was gonna make waffles with lingonberry jam and maple bacon, you son of a diseased jackal. He cast a longing look at the waffle iron before grabbing his insulated snack satchel and slinging it over his shoulder.
In his pocket, his phone beeped. Loki, where are you?
Oh, keep your shorts on, Thor! He thought irritably as he donned his helmet.
He spied his cape over the back of the chair, next to the plastic case containing Aleta's art supplies and Bedazzler. He reached for it just as a dark-haired moppet wearing Beauty and the Beast pajamas pattered into the kitchen and latched onto to his boot like the Midgard Serpent.
"Daddy! You was gonna leave without sayin' goodbye?" his baby cried indignantly.
"What? No, of course not, Aleta." He knelt to hug her and she wound her arms about his neck, her little lips brushing his cheek. "What are you doing up, spark? Thought you were asleep." So much for my quick getaway. Must be getting slow in your rebirth, Laufeyson.
Her cherubic face scowled up at him. "I Dreamed you was fightin' some Bad People. I came to tell you but you were gone!"
"Hey, scamp, Dad's gotta go on a mission," Samantha said, coming into the kitchen. She bent to pry her sister off Loki.
"Nooo!" Aleta howled. "I don't want you to go! The Bad People could hurt you!" Her fingers winched into a stranglehold.
"Ack! Samantha, stop!" Loki gasped. He patted the tiny Seer on the back, murmuring, "Hey, hey stop that, they can hear you all the way across Bifrost, alskling. Nobody's gonna hurt me. I've got my magic helmet, remember? And my spells and Uncle Thor's got Mjolnir to send the Bad People on a one way trip into space. Okay?"
He put a finger beneath Aleta's quivering chin and tipped her head up till she was looking into his eyes. He met her teary gray ones with his own brilliant emerald orbs. "Okay, alskling?"
Slowly she nodded, for though she hated when he went away, she also could tell he was being truthful with her. At least as truthful as he could be, given he didn't know what the outcome of this mission would be. "'Kay," she sniffed. "Will you be home for dinner?"
"I hope so," he replied softly. "But if not, Samantha can make grilled cheese and bacon for you," he named one of her favorite foods. "Tell you what . . . if you're good tomorrow we can have a tea party."
"A tea party? With Uncle Thor?" she crowed.
He winced as he went momentarily deaf. "Sure. I'll invite Uncle Thor over and we can bake cupcakes. How's that sound, princess?"
"Yay!" she cheered. Then she hurled herself at Samantha. "Manthy, I'm gonna have a tea party with Uncle Thor an' Daddy! With crimpets, n'cupcakes, n' scones."
Samantha held her and smiled. "And who's gonna make all those fancy cakes, little spark?"
"We are! You n' me!"
"Guess we're gonna have a bake-a-thon, huh?" she winked at her father as he climbed stealthily to his feet.
"Just don't burn down the house," he muttered as his phone whistled yet again.
"Go!" Samantha mouthed, and the God of Mischief slipped out the door and teleported to the Avengers hanger, his cape slung over his arm.
"You're late, brother!" Thor grumbled as soon as Loki appeared in the hanger. "What kept you?"
"I had to say goodbye to your niece," Loki replied shortly.
"And this took ten minutes?" Thor frowned.
"You try going somewhere with a three-year-old half-strangling you and hanging on your boot, and see how far you get." Loki snorted.
Natasha giggled. "I'd pay money to see that!"
"Enough chitchat," Tony called. "Get on the plane. Kang and his soldiers are burning the Brooklyn Bridge."
They quickly boarded the Quinjet, greeting Hawkeye, Cap, and the Hulk as they did so. As Loki and Thor sat down and strapped in for the flight, Cap revved the engines and the plane took off.
Iron Man followed in a flare of his jet boots, soaring into the sky to take the point as they headed towards the chaos on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Loki placed his cape on the seat beside him along with his satchel. He caught Thor eyeing it wistfully. "What is it, Thor?"
"Do you have anything to eat in there? I'm starving like Fenrir wolf."
His brother smirked. "Did you skip breakfast again?" Rummaging in his satchel, he emerged with a banana, a power bar, and a chocolate chip muffin. "Here, take your pick."
"Chocolate chip muffins!" Natasha exclaimed. "Loki, since when are you Betty Crocker?"
Thor wrinkled his brow in puzzlement. "I know not who this mortal Betty of Crocker is but I'll take the muffin, Loki."
Loki tossed him the muffin, it was devoured in two bites. "Want one, Nat?" he asked Black Widow.
At her nod he passed out muffins to everyone on board.
"More?" Thor wheeled, giving him puppydog eyes.
"Bottomless pit!" Hawkeye laughed.
Loki shook a finger at the Asgardian. "Ah, ah. How do you ask?"
"Loki!" Thor growled.
The Master of Mischief smirked his signature grin. "Why brother, if you're going to set an example for my kids you need to remember the manners Mother taught you and ask me—politely."
The rest of the team tittered as Thor flushed and muttered, "As you wish. Loki, please may I have some more?"
"Pretty please with a cherry on top?"
"Not funny!" Thor snapped. "The god of Thunder doesn't beg!"
"Here. Now don't say I never gave you anything," Loki tossed him another muffin. "You sure are grumpy this morning. Is that time of the month again?" he demanded outrageously.
Natasha nearly choked to death on her muffin.
Steve was laughing so hard the Quinjet nearly did a spin until JARVIS put it back on course.
"Hey? What's going on in there?" Stark demanded through his headset. "What's so funny?"
"Loki," answered Steve.
"Figures! Shelve the comedy act, Frosty," ordered Tony.
Loki rolled his eyes. "The comedy's my brother, not me. And don't call me Frosty, Rustbucket. I'm not a snowman."
"Loki, are you having a joke at my expense?" Thor queried, licking his lips, muffin crumbs all over his scarlet wool cape and armor.
"Always, brother," the mischievous god chuckled. Then he handed Thor a napkin. "Wipe your mouth, you're a mess."
"What are you my mother?" Thor sniffed, accepting the napkin.
"Nine Hells forfend!" Loki coughed. "I'd shoot myself!"
"Yeah he's got eight already, he doesn't need anymore," Clint chortled. "But these muffins are delicious. Got milk, Mischief Maker?"
"Do I look like a cow?" demanded Loki indignantly. He sipped his coffee. Then he added, "Oh, by the way, Thor, Aleta's invited her uncle to her tea party tomorrow."
"Ooo! Can I come?"Clint hooted.
"Shut up, Hawk!" Loki snapped, at the same time Thor glared at the archer balefully.
"Do not mock my celebration with my little niece, archer," scolded the Thunder God. "If there are more of these muffins with chocolate at this party then I will drink whatever tea she wishes."
"Oh there's lots more, I promise. And macaroons, and Reeses brownies—Samantha and the little spark are baking today for it." Loki informed him.
Thor looked extremely happy and Steve asked plaintively, "Can I come?"
"Next week," Loki sighed, and made a mental note to add that to his iPhone.
He absently ate the banana he was holding, thinking wryly that his Avenger family was a lot more accepting since they had all become honorary uncles and aunts to his children, some of whom were disabled, some had extraordinary powers, and some were normal if troubled kids, but all of them were loved by him fiercely.
"What are we celebrating, Loki?" Thor asked as the plane began to descend.
Loki shrugged. "Uh . . . that I came back from this mission and so did you? It's Aleta, Thor, she doesn't have to have a reason to have a tea party except that she missed us."
He felt a warm glow deep inside as he said those words, illuminating the dark spaces in his soul. The love of his children had done what no superhero could—they had transformed him from a vengeful, hateful being into one who was capable of great love and sacrifice. Oh, he was still a prankster and sometime a liar but he was also more responsible and happier than he had ever been in all his fifteen hundred years. For at last he had what he had always wanted and never dared to hope for or acknowledge—a family who loved him just as he was.
"Heads up, guys!" Tony yelled. "We're approaching the bridge!"
Everyone prepared to fight Kang. Loki pulled on his cape, which could make him able to hover short distances and to deflect bullets, energy blasts, and magical energy. Good thing I washed this last night, he thought, inhaling the scent of lemon detergent and stroking the silky material. Laevateinn rattled in her sheath as the jet flew towards one end of the burning bridge.
At the other end of the bridge, police were desperately trying to corral all the innocent bystanders in their cars and pedestrians from the fire and the super soldiers along with their megalomaniac leader Kang, who was flying about on something that looked like an airborne jetski.
The Quinjet went vertical and hovered just above the bridge so the Avengers could jump out.
"Avengers Assemble!" Cap yelled their familiar battlecry.
"And let's kick some interstellar ass!" added Loki gleefully, drawing his sword in one hand and sheathing his opposite palm with eldritch fire.
He stepped gracefully from the jet, his cape billowing out behind him like a pair of wings.
As he touched down on the ground, amid the chaos Kang's robots and brainwashed goons were causing, he tossed a firebolt at two robots who were about to shoot him down, then parried a blow from a goon with his sword. "Slow as molasses!" he taunted, spinning about and kicking his opponent in the leg.
As the goon's knee crumbled, Loki seized the advantage and spun Laevateinn and bashed the other's head with the golden hilt. In deference to the Avengers creed, he didn't kill as he might have once, instead knocking the enemy unconscious. Loki snapped glowing magical restraints upon him, then turned, cape flying to confront another opponent.
As he did so, he caught the sound of giggles and laughter. Norns grant me patience! I'm surrounded by idiots! He spun, planting one gold boot firmly on the concrete, his teeth bared in a feral snarl. "Something funny, mortals?"
He conjured another glowing bolt of magic.
To his shock, the blond haired mortal was shaking with mirth and pointing at him. "Aww! Now if that don't beat all!"
"What are you gibbering about?" Loki growled. "Kneel, worm!"
His companion howled, "Do ya got smiley faces on yer shorts too, pretty boy?"
What the blazes? Loki shook his head, then subdued the snickering mortals with his magic. As he snapped restraints on them he muttered, "What in Hel have you been smoking? Must be some powerful hallucinogen."
Tossing his cape back over his shoulders he went to assist Thor and Cap, who were fighting Kang.
"Down, Thor!" he called, and fired off two concussive blasts from both hands, knocking the megalomaniac off his flying jetski.
"Blast you, Loki!" spat Kang, struggling to get to his feet.
"Catch, Conqueror!" Steve yelled and his shield flew at the caped warrior.
Kang was forced to roll to avoid being clobbered and ended up behind Loki as a result.
The Master of Mischief turned slightly and catcalled, "That's where you belong, worm! On your belly!"
Kang lifted his head, pulling out a small yet powerful plasma gun. "I kneel to no one, you Asgardian clown!" He aimed the gun at Loki's back.
But just as he would have fired, he caught sight of something upon the god's cape. It was something so astonishing, so utterly improbable, and so hilarious that Kang forgot he was going to shoot Loki. Instead he began pointing and doubling over with laughter.
"Ooh . . .oohh . . . ha HA HA!" howled. "Where's your pink dress, Loki to go with your glittery cape?!"
Loki spun around, furious and bewildered. "Kang, you imbecile! Just shut up and surrender! You're trying my patience!"
The villain was on his knees now, giggling in a most unseemly and insane fashion. "Oh sweet magcal flying unicorns—hahahaha!"
Thor stared at the hysterical villain in puzzlement. "Mayhap he has suffered a brain seizure?" Then he looked at his brother, and his eye was caught by Loki's fluttering green and gold cape.
The Thunder God's cerulean eyes went wide. Then they crinkled in amusement. "Jormungdr's Scales!" He bit his lip and then despite a valiant effort let out a huge belly laugh. "Oh, brother . . . you should see . . .!"
Loki was growing more and more annoyed. "Thor, what the Hel is so funny, you big lummox?"
His brother was nearly convulsed with laughter, tears streaming down his face.
"Do you know what's wrong with him, Cap?"
Steve blinked, looked, and then he covered his mouth with a hand. "Umm . . . umm . . . Loki? You might want to . . . ahh . . . look at your cape . . ."
Rolling his eyes, Loki unfastened his cape, muttering about everyone being stricken with stupid disease today. He shook it out and peered at the familiar emerald fabric with gold runes bordering it. "Nine Hells!" He face palmed himself. "Aleta Laufeyson, what did you do?"
For there in glittering bedazzle studs, was a large smiley face on his cape—and if that were not enough, it was accompanied by the words I Luv You, Daddy surrounding it in pink jewels!
"Nice costume, brother!" chortled Thor, slapping his knee.
Loki felt a hot flush crawl up the back of his neck. Aleta, WHY? he groaned, as behind him Kang collapsed on the ground laughing fit to die.
"What's going on?" Tony demanded, landing beside them. "Why is he cracking up?" he indicated Kang.
"It's Loki's new cape!" Steve smirked. "He . . . err . . .bedazzled Kang!"
"What?" then Tony caught sight of the glittery new addition to the Mischief God's attire and his suit shook with laughter. "Oh my God! You've been . . . adorified!"
"Stop! Stop!" Kang begged. "I can't take any more!"
"Then don't look, you pathetic despot!" Loki growled. He had never been more embarrassed in his life.
Soon the rest of the team was also laughing, and the Asgardian heaved a sigh, eyeing the surprise his baby girl had given him with a martyred air. Why me?
Until he recalled an old saying—if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
A corner of his mouth quirked up in a reluctant grin. Then he chuckled. "I knew I shouldn't have left my cape out last night."
"You live and learn . . . Dad!" Clint snickered.
"You're lucky she didn't bedazzle your helmet too—Princess of Asgard!" hooted Tony.
"Aww shut up!" Loki coughed, then he gave in and began to laugh too. He was going to have to have a rather long talk with his three-year-old imp about decorating things with her Bedazzler without asking. But he had to admit the sentiment warmed him down to his toes.
Then he heard a click. "What-oh no, Stark, you didn't!"
Tony waved his iPhone triumphantly. "One push of a button, and this is all over Tumblr, pal."
Loki's eyes narrowed. "You dare?"
Smirking, Tony slipped the phone into his suit. "I wonder how many hits this would get?"
"That goes viral and I swear you'll regret it!" Loki threatened.
"Why? You looked so cute and huggable!" Natasha teased.
"I am not cute!" Loki huffed, folding the cape and starting back towards the jet. "Cute is for puppies, kittens, and fluffy bunnies, not me!"
Oh yes, he was going to have a very long talk with his child as soon as he stepped foot in the house, he vowed. But his mouth quirked upward again and he thought reluctantly that she was his daughter all right. For that had been a prank worthy of himself.
Of course that didn't stop the rest of the Avengers from twitting him unmercifully all the way back home.
"Ooo ahh how bee-you-ti-ful!" Clint warbled.
"It's a new fashion trend—Loki the Bedazzler, God of Glitter!" Natasha whooped.
Loki thought about throttling whichever of her uncles had gotten Aleta the Bedazzler. He was never going to live this down, he thought shaking his head ruefully. It would be the first time in the annals of Avenger history where a villain had been defeated by laughing himself into surrender.
"Loki, you need pants to go with the cape," Thor guffawed.
"Watch it, brother. Or I'll tell her you want one to match!" Loki snorted. Then he burst out laughing at Thor's horrified look. Kids! They drive me insane, but oh, they make my life interesting!
A rather weary Master of Mischief arrived back at his town house, glittery cape slung over his shoulder. The smell of chocolate, peanut butter, and cinnamon permeated the air, making his mouth water. "Hey, I'm home!"
"Hey, Dad, how'd it go?" asked Nathan from his wheelchair where he was playing SuperMarioKart. "Did you send those villains crying for their mommies?"
"Of course," Loki laughed, and tousled his unruly mop of red hair. "Are those chocolate chips I smell?"
He neatly avoided the Lego tower Max was building on the rug and made a beeline for the kitchen.
Looks like the house is still intact, he mused just as a tiny torpedo shot out from the kitchen table and barreled into him at full speed.
"Whoa, spark!" Loki laughed, just managing to keep his balance. "Maybe you ought to try out for quarterback of the NFL, huh?" He scooped up his baby girl and tossed her into the air. "Miss me?"
"To the moon n' back!" she yelled, and when he caught her again, she hugged him and cried, "Didja see the s'prise I made for you?"
"Uh . . . yes . . . I saw it," he coughed. And so did everyone else on the Brooklyn Bridge.
"What surprise?" Samantha asked, coming out to also hug her parent. She handed Loki a peanut butter chocolate brownie.
"Mmm, thanks! After the morning I've had I need this," He bit into the treat with utter bliss. Chocolate and peanut butter were food of the gods, he thought happily. Forget Idun's apples!
"I baked that all by myself!" boasted Aleta.
"You did?" Loki pretended astonishment.
"Hey! I helped," Samantha objected. Then she said, "What surprise, Aleta?"
"I maked Daddy a new cape," she announced, holding the cape out for her sister to inspect.
"You what?" Samantha took the cape and gasped. "Odin's spear, Aleta! You bedazzled Dad's cape?" At her sister's proud nod she stared at her father. "And you went out of the house like that?"
"Uh . . . I didn't know . . . not until we were in the middle of a battle . . ." he admitted.
"No way!" gasped Hunter, his second oldest who was twelve. "Dad, how could you fight wearing that?"
"Very quickly," Loki admitted.
"It's pretty!" Aleta sang.
Hunter rolled his eyes. "Dad's a superhero, Aleta. He's not supposed to look pretty!"
"Are not! You did that to my jacket and I'd drop dead of embarrassment!"
"You're mean, Hunter!" sniffled Aleta.
"Ahem!" Loki cleared his throat. He looked at his youngest and said gently, "It was a . . . lovely surprise," If I was a five year old attending a My Little Pony convention.
"See? Toldja!" Aleta cheered. "An' you can wear it when you go to work."
Loki nearly choked to death on his second brownie. "Uh . . . err . . .Aleta I think it's too pretty for me to wear to work."
"But why?" the little girl looked as if the world had ended.
"Because it makes him look like a sissy," Hunter informed her.
"Hush!" Loki ordered. He went and sat down at the table with his daughter on his lap. "Aleta, if I had to wear that everyday to work your uncles might get jealous because I looked so brilliant in it," he lied smoothly. "So I decided I'm going to hang it right over here on my art wall."
He gestured and the cape, in all its glittering glory, attached itself to the wall dedicated to all the children's artwork. "There! Now it has its own place of honor."
And perhaps one day Thor and the rest of them will forget about it. Oh, who am kidding? They'll be telling the story of Loki's Love Cape to my grandchildren!
"Daddy, did ya invite Uncle Thor to the tea party?" Aleta asked, tugging on one horn of his helmet.
"Yes, sweetie. He's coming tomorrow. Are you all done baking?"
"Uh huh! Manthy and me baked lots and lots."
"Yeah and they wouldn't let us eat any," Hunter grumbled.
"Oh quit whining," Samantha ordered. "I have some put aside for dessert."
"I can't wait to taste them," Loki said sincerely. "Neither can Uncle Thor."
"Yay!" Aleta clapped her hands.
Loki smiled down at the little imp, then he said, with a devilish smirk, "You know, Aleta, Uncle Thor thought my cape was amazing."
"He liked it so much he couldn't speak," Loki continued gleefully. "So maybe you could make him a new cape tomorrow?"
"I can! I can!" she cried enthusiastically. "I got lots of pretty colors and stars n' moons!"
Hunter made a gagging noise.
Loki threw back his head and laughed loudly. Oh Thor! Just wait till tomorrow! Then we'll see who has the last laugh, brother!