Loki followed Betty with his eyes,” While I would prefer you remain here, I would not deny the child her sleep. Please return when she is comfortable, I believe Anthony will be more…pliable with his better half present.” He nodded to her, a short approximation of a bow and quirked a slight smile.
Turning back to Tony, Loki laughed,”Impenetrable? My, they’re just letting anyone throw that word around now days.” Internally, Loki was pleased he had managed to outwit JARVIS, and accepted some pride from Tony’s words. The god watched the couple’s interaction and noted Stark’s hesitation,”I assure you, I have come alone and…” a quick flash of power and a twist of his wrist and Loki’s staff vanished,”…unarmed.” He held his hands, palm up, in a show of innocence.
“May we sit?” Loki took a place on the couch before Tony could answer,”My proposal is a simple one, and you are not a dull man so I shall be brief. You wife was correct in her accusation that a group so ‘mediocre’ had…I fail to recall her phrasing…let’s say, defeated me earlier this year. The Avengers, if you must be called that, are extraordinary and could do a great deal of good in this world. However, your organization seems to think that it requires some colossal disaster or hmm, an invasion of some kind, before taking action. Certainly, your…team could accomplish great things for this world even without a provocative antagonist?”
Betty sighed, turning around and glaring at Loki. “Unfortunately, you’re not leaving me much of a choice.” She said, sitting in the corner of the couch and cradling Maria back in her arms. “I think I’ll just stay here, for now.” She wasn’t about to leave the baby alone while Loki was in the area, and if he wouldn’t let her stay with the baby, Maria would have to stay with her. “Please, don’t let me interrupt you.”
“Anthony! How delightful of you to finally join us! Though must you be so crass? There is a lady present,” Loki tilted his head toward Betty, but gave no ground to the couple.
The god had tensed when Tony entered the room, and he now attempted to regain his languid pose, a frosty smile on his pale face and a hand tight around the bladed staff. “The Lady Stark and I were simply getting acquainted in your absence, and while I concede to you that she is a fine woman and mother besides; her impertinence rivals your own and several times already was I tempted to rescind my promise that no harm should come to her. I would recommend your advising her to hold her tongue, or at the very least, be wary of the comments it sends forth.”
Loki raised an eyebrow in response,” I shall decline your refreshments, Lady Stark has previously offered. And I’ll admit my disappointment in your surprise. As I have already said, Asgard holds no promise for me at the present time and escaping was of little difficulty. I return to Earth to discuss with you and your colleagues, an arrangement.”
"Tony…"Betty smirked slightly, kissing his cheek as he moved to step in front of Maria. "What took you so long, I thought I was gonna be stuck trying to figure out how to work your armor on my own." She sighed, glaring at Loki and letting out a slightly laugh. "I assure you, my husband has absolutely no control over my tongue, I’ll do with it as I wish."
Lending him a glare, she backed up a few steps to move for the couch. “Well. Since my husband is here now, I don’t see much of a reason to stay. Unless you’re that insistent on my company.” She said curtly, “But my baby is missing out on sleep.”
Loki barked out a loud mirthless laugh. “Oh how I am continually reminded of the ignorance of this planet! You say you have done nothing to deserve this? You need do nothing! Your very existence is a plague upon the universe. The human pestilence…I mean to aid you all, help you to become better under my rule and you insist on your mediocrity! I do not act superior, I AM superior, in every way. Your kind does not ask a hound its thoughts before collaring it, nor do you appreciate your world for what it gives you. You continually take and destroy and to what end?”
Straightening to his full height, Loki gripped his staff tightly,”You are so tiny. Were it not detrimental to my plans, I would kill you without thought,” the god smiled, “Your attempt to bargain is amusing, but it is ineffectual. I shall cross whom I like, when I like and this world has never known a wrath like mine.”
Betty blinked a few times when he laughed, frowning deeply and watching him as he spoke. “Mediocrity.” She said, raising an eyebrow and tilting her head. “Funny how a group of people so mediocre kicked your ass the first time around.” She muttered, leveling another glare at him and shaking her head. “You know why you’ll never be superior, Loki?” She said, backing up a few steps. “Your ego. You let it get in your way. Its blocking you from thinking on your feet because you’re so concerned with not failing.” She said, “You need to re-prioritize.” She muttered, pausing and telling herself that Tony would come through the doors at any moment.
"We’ve seen some bad times already." She said, looking him over wearily. "Trust me, I’ve gone through a few rounds of torture myself. So has Tony. And however much wrath you think you have, we’ll weather through it. So you’d better rethink your actions, before you do something you can’t take back."
Loki frowned at her words, his brow coming together, cool your jets? Then after, his green eyes flashed at the casual term of endearment, “I have restrained myself thus far, Lady Stark, from harming either you or your daughter, but know, I will not be spoken to as though I am an impatient child.”
Standing smoothly, the god stalked toward her, “You have my congratulations for your apparently flawless relationship with that impetuous man-child, Stark. But I will gladly kill him if he crosses me again. He is undeserving of your affection and your praise, as you are undeserving of this child who would grow, loving you unconditionally.That child in your arms is the only being in this room worthy of any love, and she will, I do not doubt, ultimately mature out of that worth into another sniveling, selfish, unkind, bestial human like all the others in this foul realm!”
Loki had closed the distance between them, firmly grasping Betty’s chin in his hand and forcing her eyes up to his. His touch was icy, and, looking closely, one might have seen a speck of red in his fierce gaze.
“Am I understood?”
"If you don’t wish to be spoken to like a child, then my suggestion is you don’t act like one." She said, keeping her tone even and calm, despite the slight panic edging through her subconscious. Holding Maria protectively against her chest, she held her ground, watching him as he stalked towards her.
Clenching her teeth, she listened to him speak, glaring back into his eyes as he held her chin. Raising it defiantly, she searched his eyes for a moment and frowned. “Neither I, nor my child have done anything to deserve this sort of treatment.” She said, holding her ground as her instincts told her to back up. “I’m sorry that you’ve been hurt before, but you cannot walk around acting like everyone else is beneath you. I don’t know what’s convinced you that this world is an awful one, but I can assure you I’m raising my daughter to understand that you can be strong, and kind at the same time. And that she doesn’t need to stand down to people who use fear to control.” She said, “Now if your issue is with my husband, keep it with my husband. The only thing you’ll accomplish here is bringing such an intense wrath down upon your head, you won’t know what hit you.” She said, pulling her chin from his hand. “I won’t cross you if you don’t cross me. Understood?”
He dismissed her with a slight wave, “No need, I’ll not debase myself with the weak spirits of this realm,” He may have started at the look Betty threw him. “But-uh, the offer is appreciated.” Curses.He would not allow this mortal to bend him. Loki gave himself a mental shake, it would not do to lose his head at this point.
“I was not aware the skies of this city were so crowded.” Loki raised a thin eyebrow,”Anthony is very dedicated to his work, yes? Clearly he deems it more important than the safety of his daughter.” He studied his fingernails as he spoke, “When I was last on Earth, your Anthony was described as a, what was the term? Oh, yes, playboy. I understand this means he couples with many women without discretion, yet you claim to be his wife? And you are so certain he spends his hours working? You must wonder if he is out with his other trollops…If perhaps he values their company above yours?” Loki turned his gaze to Betty sharply, watching her intently.
"….You’re welcome." Betty said, giving him a nod of slight approval when he thanked her for the offer of a drink. At least his manners seemed to be mostly in tact. Twitching a smirk at him for a moment, she quickly lost it when he continued on his warpath to find out about Tony. Letting out an exasperated sigh, she rolled her eyes, only half listening as he spoke.
"Sometimes he’s in a car, you know. Things come up. He could be in Australia for all I know. Or space. He can get anywhere in a few hours, but he can’t get back in the blink of an eye." She said, giving him a pointed look. Frowning at him for a moment, she mouthed the world trollop for a moment before letting out a genuine laugh. "Honestly, do you think he’d be able to hide an affair in this day and age?" She grinned, "There would be pictures EVERYWHERE, instantaneously. You’re talking about a man who’s sexual activity used to be watched with rapt attention." She snorted, shaking her head. "Trust me, if there’s one thing I know beyond a doubt, it’s that he loves me, and our daughter. He’ll be here. Just cool your jets, hm, sweetheart?"
Loki nodded at the woman,”Yes, I’ll remain here. Though I had hoped Stark would have returned by now. Are you certain nothing’s the matter?” The god smiled thinly at Betty, already knowing she wouldn’t be worried by his question. The anger melted off his face as he gestured vaguely with one hand. “I could…help her to sleep, if you like, as I’m afraid you will have to remain here.” He continued on quickly, as though worried how she would answer, “And, if you feel you are able to provide me some spirits worthy of an Asgardian, please feel free to serve me.”The butterfly had vanished some moments earlier, crumpled into motes of light which faded before they hit the ground.
A comfortable smirk settled onto his pale features as he watched Betty, “Does your husband often leave his family unprotected for great lengths of time? It does not seem a very fatherly thing to do. Did Anthony make any mention of my visit to him earlier? It appears as though the great Anthony Stark does not wish to concern himself much with family matters. Perhaps there is something here he wishes to avoid?” Loki watched Betty carefully, attuned to any facial twitch, any projected emotion, any tell at all which would give him something with which to work.
"It’s fine." She said, putting forward an exasperated sigh as she held Maria to her chest. "She’ll sleep on her own." Giving him a long suffering glare, she raised an eyebrow and let out a small laugh. "To be honest, I have no idea what Asgardians drink. I’m partial to scotch myself. But that may not be to your taste…" She said, looking over his shoulder to the bar. She wasn’t about to go rattling off a list of alcohols at him. If he wanted something specific, he could ask for it himself. She could understand that he was a god, but he had no right to appear in her home and act like he ran the place.
"He gets distracted sometimes." She shrugged, not concerned about where he was in the slightest. He’d be on his way. He’d always protected her before, and he would not. It was always just a matter of time. "He’ll be here. Probably stuck in traffic." She said, suddenly wishing she had a phone on her to call him with. He could never be on time for anything, including rescue parties.
Betty’s words dragged Loki from his reverie. He had ignored her jab about the Hulk, he’d known it was coming. However, he tilted his chin toward his chest in silent acceptance of her compliment. Keeping his eyes on the child, safe in her mother’s arms, he felt something tear inside himself. Frigga was not his mother. Was never his mother. But it was impossible to distance the pervasive affection and warmth he felt from the mere thought of her. And if he was being honest with himself (which he avoided as best he could) Loki did not truly want to lose that warmth.
It was foolish, childish, sentimental but…he had felt loved at one point in his now empty life. And seeing that love personified in that small, pink, warm, smiling child; it hurt. It hurt in a way Loki had thought he could no longer be hurt. A wound at very core of him, rending his insides to shredded scraps. In an effort to escape himself, Loki turned his gaze to Betty and was furious to see something akin to pity in her eyes. He was not to be pitied. How dare she. Did she not understand? Love was a lie that could never last. She would learn. Loki felt a sneer settle onto his face. His icy mask of malice barely contained the flame of his indignation.
Betty watched him for another moment and sighed, pulling Maria up in her arms as she pushed herself off the couch. “It’s nearly past Maria’s nap time.” She said pointedly, turning to look at him as she pulled the baby up to her chest and cradled her there. “I take it you’re staying until Tony manages to return?” She asked, tilting her head as she looked him over. “Is there something I can get you? A drink maybe?” She asked. They could at least be civil if he was going to continue to glare at her like that.
“Oh, let me assure you, I am far more dangerous than your Hulk.” Loki leaned back into the couch and let the threat hover between them.
As irritating as it was that this woman refused to bend to his will, Loki had to admit a flicker of respect for her. She sat beside him, child in arms and bantered with little hesitation despite her complete lack of power and control in the situation. Through hooded eye, the god watched Betty absently bounce Maria, shushing her quietly.
That was it, the thought came to him suddenly. She’s a mother. That fierce protectiveness, the resolute calm, a soft, kind smile… A bright memory came to Loki; himself on Frigga’s knee in the shining days of Asgard. She had been teaching him something or another and he had conjured up a small illusion to impress her.
Distantly, Loki felt his mouth curve into a slight smile, and with a quick turn of his wrist, a shimmering butterfly came into existence. He waved it over to Maria, ignoring Betty’s sharp gaze, and watched as the child tried to grab at it only to have the illusion scatter and reform.
Frigga had praised his talents; a warm glow had spread through his body and on his face. The other children had mocked him, such a feminine trick, Loki’s so soft-hearted, even Thor had laughed along with the others. Frigga had understood the delicacy of the magics involved. Approved of his detail, the thin antennae, the subtle iridescence on the wings…Frigga had clapped her hands in delight and embraced him tightly. So proud.
"Yes, well. If I recall correctly, you’ve met before." She said, raising an eyebrow. "And someone was nearly crushed into the ground" She said, giving him a firm look before, shaking her head before looking at Maria. Blinking a few times in surprise when the butterfly appeared before her, she tilted her head and watched Maria reach for it.
"That’s beautiful." She said, studying it for a moment before looking back at him. "Honestly…" It was almost shocking to her how someone with such apparently ill intention had it in them somewhere to create something with such glow. Part of him had to be good, somewhere. And she wondered briefly where that part of him was, and why he couldn’t connect to it again. Nothing was ever completely lost, but Loki seemed to refuse anything but the path of destruction he was on. It was sad, in a way.
Loki smirked at her answer, though he bristled on the inside. These humans were so impertinent. As if they had the right to converse with a god. This woman should be honored he even deign to speak with her rather than kill her on the spot. And she was being difficult. The nerve.
“Please, Lady Stark, you must understand. I merely mean to better know Anthony. I believe he has some qualities that may be of use to me, and who better to praise him or not than his own wife? It would be very much appreciated if you could simply tell me what I wish to know so I am not forced to use more…unpleasant methods.” He moved a hand to Betty’s check, too-cool fingers brushing against her skin. The god smiled again, but it was tight and did not reach his eyes. They stayed frigid and dark with restrained irritation.
“Someone put it there. I suppose it is of importance to the man. And someone could just as easily remove it? No, no, you won’t answer…of course not. But what would happen I wonder…That may be a tactic to try. I could rip it out and study it in further detail. What do you think of that? Hmm?”
Betty flinched, doing her best to hold her ground as he reached his finger out and ran it down the side of her face. Pulling her cheek away from his touch, her nostrils flared for a moment and she glared back at him. “I’ve stared down the Hulk and won. Don’t you dare underestimate my capabilities.” She said shortly, clenching her jaw.
"Or you could try talking to him." She said, a smirk twitching at the corner of her lips. "He’s my husband. If you intend to find a way to kill him, or control him, you’re not going to find your answers here. If you’d like to know what sort of cereal he eats for breakfast, or what his favorite band is, then we can talk."
Drumming his lithe fingers on the couch back, Loki schooled his features into a bored look, “I was never part of that family. Any family. And, if you recall, I did do something about those ‘feelings’. That being the killing of many many people, the destruction of a decent amount of this very city and my personal favorite, the throwing of your lovely husband through a window.” The god showed his teeth,” I would be more careful,Betty, of your advice if I were you.”
Then Loki let out a loud laugh, “Hah! I’m sure his answers will be witty and piercing, wry and facetious, and in the end, I will know very little more than I knew at the start of the conversation. Except, of course, that his pretentious nature would befit any Asgardian.”
He shook his head, mirth fading,”No, no, I think you shall answer my queries. You have a much less…caustic nature. So, tell me, how does he come to have that blue plate in his chest?”
"I apologize." Betty said, turning and leveling her gaze at him, as Maria settled and fell asleep in her arms. "I wasn’t raised with much of an edit button. Something I suspect you have the utmost understanding of." She said, giving him a frozen smile as her eyes turned into a glare. She wasn’t sure if he thought she’d be intimidated by the threat of physical violence, but the last thing she was going to do was back down.
"Well. He can be quite difficult, I’ll admit that myself." She said, smirking slightly and looking back at Maria. "You just have to know how to talk to him." She said, watching the sleeping baby in her arms for a long moment. Furrowing her eyebrows, she looked back up at him and blinked.
"….Someone put it there." She said, leveling her gaze at him, keeping her tone dry and sarcastic. She wasn’t about to offer any information that could be used against her own husband, he had to be aware of that.
Loki had raised his eyebrows in surprise, nonetheless, at her calm demeanor. However, when she mentioned Thor, his countenance darkened. “I claim no relation to that foolish, sentimental ruffian. And if you wish for me to keep my promise that no harm will come to you, you had best refrain from mentioning him again.” His free fist clenched tight and his staff tilted itself toward the sitting woman warningly.
Then the mask of civility was back in place. “And certainly social niceties allow me to make the acquaintance of an oldcolleague’s wife? And adorable offspring as well? I had hoped to get to know you better.” The god stepped closer, like a leopard stalking prey. “Any family of Anthony is of interest to me…And I’m sure he has been alerted and is on his way post haste.” Loki slide onto the couch, putting one ankle on the opposite knee and relaxing back with a wide smile. “So,” he added conspiratorially, “tell me about the Iron Man.”
"Some tension in the family, isn’t there?" Betty asked, tsking lightly as she looked down at Maria and gave the infant a smile. "Fine. If Thor is off limits, I won’t press it. Still. You should probably do something about those pent up feelings, it’s never good to hold on to that sort of anger…" She said, glancing up at him as she adjusted Maria in her arms.
Watching his face for a moment, she frowned slightly before turning her attention back to Maria as she started to settle. Keeping the corner of her eye on him as he sat down, she sighed and shifted away ever so slightly. “Tell you about Iron Man?” She asked, “You said it yourself, he’ll be here soon enough. Why don’t you ask him yourself, I’m sure his answers will be better.”
“Hehehe, yes, of course. The savior of New York would not have a human butler in his service.” Loki scoffed. “The subjugation of humankind. He would not stand for such a thing.” He tilted his head up, “JARVIS?” The AI was silent. Loki’s smile showed he didn’t much care.
“To answer your question, I am Loki of Asgard. I recommend that you do not call for assistance as I will be obligated to kill anyone who enters.” He held up his hands, which on anyone else would’ve been a placating gesture. “I wish only to speak with Anthony. I assure you, you and your daughter will leave unharmed after our discussion.”
Loki, his brows coming together in concentration, pulled his bladed staff from the spacial pocket where he had placed it. Turning to face Betty fully, he allowed his dark suit to melt into his asgardian garb. A display of armor would allow one to think he felt the need to protect himself. Heh, as though even the man of iron could present a challenge.
Focusing on the woman in front of him, Loki projected a feeling of calm at her. Without his tesseract powered scepter, his powers of coercion were minimal. However, all he needed was to keep the woman from bolting or taking some equally unintelligent action. The sharp fear the god felt from her shot through his blood, but he kept the malice from his face. Well, most of it.
"Loki…" Holding Maria tightly to her chest, Betty nodded, keeping one eye on him as she sat down on her couch. She couldn’t run from him, she wasn’t about to let anyone else be hurt, and she knew he’d catch her far faster than she could move with the baby in her arms.
Settling herself, she looked at him for a moment and tilted her head. “Nice to meet you, Loki…” She said after a moment, cradling the baby and rocking her slowly. “Thor’s brother, right? The one who has a pension for….drapes….I think that’s how Tony put it, anyway…” She muttered, shaking her head, never lettering her gaze leave him. “Is there a reason you had to come here, instead of straight to my husband? Honestly, I’m not even sure when he’ll be back…”