Then they stop.
Loki appears down the other end of the room, out of striking distance.
“Look at yourself, Brother. They don’t know,” he says.
“What is it they know not, Half-Brother?”
“And you do?”
“Oh, yes. You are bored. Bored by them, by life.”
“Have care, Loki.”
“You are primal: God of Storms. They have never seen your rage, lest you break them. They have never seen you drown fishermen and smash villages and wreck vengeance. You are a thing to be feared, my Brother.”
“I jest not, Brother. Have care…”
“Study them. This Iron thing is not primal. It thinks it knows you. You have least respect for it of them all. You picture yourself sometimes, in these bored times, combating them. Breaking them. Releasing your frustration.”
“It means nothing, two-faced one. What warrior doesn’t picture battle? Challenges occupy my mind.”
“Hah! They could not stop you. The ‘Marvel’, Danvers, she has seen so much, yet remains so human in her thinking. She is nothing. This one, Hawkeye, he is the only one here who is primal enough, has temper enough to match yours, but is mortal. Tissue. You resent him for it, son of Odin, like kings do peasants who sit at their table. His familiarity annoys you. You would fight Hercules… again… but he is a pompous fool.”
“This man is to be respected,” Thor points.
“The Captain? Mini Balder? Aye. Your love for him is true, like a …brother.”
“Why art tho here, Loki?”
“Thor, my sibling, too bored to live, not brave enough to die, festering with these mortals so that he might gleam some of their humanity. That you might absorb the thrill of their briefness of time. Yet, if you but shrugged…”
“The Hulk is mighty.”
“That green… thing… is a vegetable. You cannot talk to it, it cannot kill you, immortal Thor. You need defeat it but once, and it will be gone… or, simply, outlive it. Defeat it with age.”
Loki runs his pointed finger gently across Captain America’s neck, arrogantly taunting, nibbling on the edge of confrontation, always.
“At least the Hulk, though, is not… so fragile…”
“Enough!” Thor snaps, hurtling his hammer into Loki’s chest, crashing him into the wall, then riding a lightening bolt, like an animal, across the table, to be clasping Loki’s neck.
“WHY are you here… Brother?!”
“There is the Thor I know! The Tempest! The sword by which seafarers lives were measured or destroyed.”
“In the heart of all legend truth is found!”
The storm picks up around them, throwing about the limp Avengers.
“Why are you goading me? Why have you not disappeared from my grip by now? Entertained me with your parlour tricks? Started on your latest petty scheme?”
“Because, dear Brother, or half there of, I am sick of running!”
Thor increases his grip on Loki’s throat, tilting the God of Mischief’s head up facing the roof. Loki’s presses a button on a remote control.
“Why would I do that when I have finally found a way to beat you…?” he smirks
The projector turns on behind Iron Man, still frozen in time.
“Or, rather, he has…” Loki nods.
Thor looks over his shoulder at the screen with eyes both curious and angry.
“Sit… Brother,” commands Loki.
Thor sits. Loki prowls Iron Man.
“It’s not that he doesn’t trust you. More so, he doesn’t trust anyone. He has contingency plans against all of your… friends. Against himself, too.”
Loki continues to prowl.
“He will even, occasionally, consult this team’s adversaries, for ideas on how to… achieve this.”
“Lies? Go on, I dare you to use the word when you know it to not be true, oh Hollow God. I DARE you!”
Loki starts prowling the seated Thor, talking the whole while.
“Legends. This Iron thing’s science cannot explain us away. We are creatures of energy, given actuality, by the Norse and their dreaming. But imagine if someone was smart enough to override missile codes, point them at enough Norse cities, Norse people…”
“Lies!” Thor leaps up, bursting with rage-fueled energy so strong it sends two or three of the Avengers bodies to the ground like rag dolls. “I say it, Loki! Lies! This moral would not-“
“What if he was scared of you? You’re… ahem… rage. What you might do, one day, in that rage, to the planets? Or even scared of me, whispering in your ear? What does he know of Gods?”
“Aye, Stark knows of science, and you know of minds, both mortal and immortal. How to puppet them.”
“But you would die, too, dear Brother!”
“Ahh, Thor, sweet child, eternal bully… I play with you and this world because I am bored, too, like you. Because, like you, I am no builder. Like you, I have nothing better to do with immortality. Because I also do not want to die…. But sometimes… sometimes…” Loki’s expression becomes hard, “…your… dumb… smugness… makes me think, for both of us, oblivion might be worth while.”
“You would not dare…”
“We are more equal now that the option is there.”
Thor stands, contemplating his half-brother. They stare at each other for the longest time.
“The Avengers. Will you return my frozen allies and this room to as they were?” Thor asks.
“As I depart? As they were to the second I entered.”
Thor walks over to Iron Man, still stopped in time, and, with rage, strikes him as hard as he can.
“Yes… there is the brother I know,” says Loki. “Half… brother…”
“You have done thyself no favours this day, Loki.”
“I am sure you are wrong. And in return, shall do a favour for thy self,” Loki says, as he starts to fade. “There is a mortal clearly your better. And, ahem, not a green vegetable.”
“Stephen Strange. He is mightier than any of you suspect. Has mastered time and the dimensions. He is older than you and I, now, haunted. You’re ‘friends’ have been voting to try and stop him.”
“Waging battle with Eternity… The annoying one, the archer, has been shouting at you, a God, demanding you say ‘Nay’.”
“If this be-“ Thor starts, pointing a furious finger.
But Loki is gone.
Thor returns to Iron Man’s seat, brooding, harking back to his more primal days, when, with thunder and gale-born towering waves he took on mighty Norse Vikings. The hardest of men, who raped and pillaged and always respected him and his strength.
He decides he is no longer that creature, that he has adapted, grown. Even if the rage sometimes remains.
He looks out from his thoughts. True to his word, Loki has returned the room to as it was, his friends once again arguing around him, throwing their hands in the air, pointing accusing fingers at each other. Hawkeye looks furious.
“Thor votes to stop the magician,” he says.