“This is it.” Leah thought to herself. “Please don´t screw this up! Whatever you do, don´t cry!” She bit her lower lip nervously as everyone said both farewells and advices to Loki; every piece of advice made her feel even more anxious. If everything was going to be all right why so many take care and don´t do that. She didn´t knew what to do with herself, she knew all her telltales and was making a conscious effort to avoid them all. “Keep breathing, don´t start shaking, don´t cry, stop biting your fingers, no, no, no, don´t stuff your hands in your pockets… it looks even worse. And for the love of God smile, no, no like that … no teeth, casual, Leah get real that looks so fake, loosen up.” She had been practicing on the mirror over and over; she was determined to avoid making a scene even if her heart felt like it was breaking.
She had been so concentrated she almost didn´t heard Loki asking. “Are you sure you are going to be all right without me?”
“Of course I am.” She answered wearing her best fake smile. “I … I just want to apologize for making you worry so much. I understand now why you have to do this … I´ve been a fool, haven´t I?” She looked at him apologetic; she didn´t had to fake that part.
“You just weren´t yourself. I´m glad you´re feeling better now.” He smiled warmly at her. “Are you really sure you are going to be all right?”
Leah smiled back at him. “You make it sound as If I was the one leaving on a mission and not you. Stop worrying! We´ll be fine.” She volunteered kindly.
“Yes Loki, we´ll take care of them. Don´t worry.” Tony added putting his arm protectively over Leah´s shoulder.
“See, we´ll be fine. Just concentrate on coming back soon.” Leah told him.
“That I will.” Loki responded eyeing jealousy at Tony.
“If you don´t mind.” He told Tony while snatching Leah from his side. “We´ll need a moment.”
“Of course.” Steve agreed while motioning everyone to the side so Loki could have a word with Leah in private.
“I´ll come back as soon as I can.” Loki told her sincerely. “Are you sure you are going to be all right?”
Leah felt a knot on her stomach every time he asked her that; disregarding her nauseas she answered. “I´m the one who should be asking you that.”
“That was so smooth Leah… really! Why don’t you just tell him that you´re not going to be all right?” She kept reminding herself to avoid getting into a fight with him.
“I´ll be fine.” Loki just brushed her comment off. “It´s you I´m worried about. After what you told me last night …”
Leah interrupted him before he said another word, was he purposely telling her that just to see if she would break down? “I just wasn´t prepared to tell you, I never meant for you to find out. I´m sorry, please trust me Andrew is helping me a lot. I´m learning how to handle my emotions, I´ll be all right. You don´t need to worry about me. Just come home safe.” She hugged him. “Keep breathing Leah, keep breathing, no tears, just as you practiced.”
He hugged her back. “Home.” He repeated, it had been a long time since he had a place he could call home. “She seems all right” He thought. “No one could’ve guessed what happened last night. Will she be trying to fool me? No, I don´t think so I can´t see any of the anxiety signs; and after all I did pushed her too far.” He felt a pang of regret, he had provoked the whole incident.
“Yes, home.” She agreed snuggling against him as if she could retain a part of him somehow.
He tilted her chin up to see into her eyes, Leah smiled softly at him. “Don´t cry, don´t cry, please don´t cry, I know, think of… puppies ….no, no, no; that will get me crying even worse. Think Leah, think … yes … think of … Loki naked … oh, no! No, no! Don’t think about that right now …” A slight fluster ran through her cheeks. Looking into his eyes she could feel the entire world fading.
Loki smirked when he saw her blushing and ´passionately kissed her. “I´ll be home before you know it.” He volunteered. “Give Eerika a kiss for me every night please.”
His comment caught her off guard. “Good Lord no… Leah don´t.” She bitted her lower lip hard while trying to avoid her misty eyes of becoming a torrent.
Loki noticed her mood change and worriedly asked her. “Are you all right?”
Leah sniffed as she dried a single tear that had outrun her best efforts. “Yes, I´m sorry … it´s just that … I´m going to miss you so much.” It wasn´t a lie, the idea of sleeping alone again was almost unbearable. “I´ve got used to waking up by your side; I´m going to miss you terribly.” She told him while looking into his eyes. “Please Loki, don´t say anything else.” She pleaded mentally, she had almost lost it; and she didn’t felt strong enough to stop the pour of emotions that was building up again.
“I know, I´m going to miss you too.” He confessed lovingly, she did seem all right; for a moment he thought she was going to break down but she didn´t; he felt relieved. Then he mischievously whispered in her ear. “I´ll be back as soon as I can to warm up your bed.”
Leah blushed shyly as she did her best effort not to burst laughing; Loki smiled with a big grin on his face, it was so fun to make her blush.
Suddenly he changed into a serious manner. “It´s time love. I have to go, but I promise I´ll come back as soon as I can. Don´t worry about a thing. Take care of Eerika and yourself, all right?” She was right, he made it sound like she was the one leaving; he should start following his own advice and stop worrying. After all he was going to have a lot on his mind the next couple of days.
“I will if you do.” Leah answered as she had read his thought.
“It´s a deal.” Loki agreed. “Let´s join the others.”
Leah nodded affirmatively as she tentatively reached for his hand, Loki smiled at her loving gesture and hold her hand in his as they walked back to the Avengers.
“Take good care of them please.” He asked to all while looking directly at Thor.
“We will brother, come back soon.” Thor volunteered.
Loki kissed Leah gently once more before letting go, the next second he was gone.
The silence that followed was interrupted by a loud sob coming from Leah, she covered her face with one of her hands; bawling like a child she just ran past them towards her room. She didn’t wanted them to see her cry like that.
“Wait! Leah!” Thor called her worried. “What happened…? I thought she was all right.”
“And that´s what she wanted Loki to think Thor.” Natasha volunteered.
“How do you know that?” Clint asked her with a frown.
“Well, you gave her all those files to read back in the tower Clint; what do you think?” Natasha responded wryly.
“Hell no! Please tell me you didn´t.” Clint spat nodding his head in disbelief.
“She asked me to; considering both outcomes I chose the lesser evil.” Natasha confessed.
“What are you two taking about? What did Leah asked you?” Tony intervened frustrated by their evasive conversation.
“As a spy you get in undercover missions all the time. Your life depends on how convincing you are while selling your story… she wanted me to teach her how to do that.” Natasha volunteered.
“So she could deceive Loki.” Tony spat bewildered. “I can´t believe it! You seriously taught her to lie?”
“What did you wanted me to do? To refuse her? Do you really think that breaking apart like she just did would help either her or Loki? He need to focus on the mission, and he wouldn´t be able to do so if he saw her like that. She knew it, but she also knew she wasn’t ready, so yes, I taught her how. Did all of you really expected her to be all right after just one week on therapy? It´s not fair! I had to help her!” Natasha bitterly acknowledged; no wonder she always ended putting her down when they always demanded too much of her.
“Should we call Andrew?” Bruce tentatively suggested.
“What? No! Give the woman a break!” tony buffed angrily. “Have you seen her after a therapy session? She practically drags herself to bed. No! She need to relax, to forget everything even if it´s just for as moment.”
“and how do you propose to do that? Drinking away like you do?” Natasha interrupted him annoyed.
“I …” Tony began to reply angrily at her remark when Steve interrupted them.
“do you realise that while we are arguing she´s all alone?”
“Fuck!” tony cursed out loud; Steve was right. It wasn´t the right time for them to be arguing.
“We´d better look for her.” Thor suggested concerned.
“No, I´ll do it. I made this mess I´ll fix it.” Natasha volunteered.
“Now that you have taught her to deceive; how can you be sure she won´t try to deceive us to think she´s all right?” Clint asked her dryly.
“Because she promised.” Natasha confessed.
“Really Nat? You´re just going to take her word on that.” Clint answered sarcastically.
“Clint, if she wanted to deceive us she would´ve waited until she was alone to break down. She knows she need help, that´s why she didn´t even try to hide it.and yes, I trusth her; so I will take her word on it.” Natasha asseverated. “I´ll talk to her.” With that she started walking towards Leah´s room.
Tony considered ir for a few moments before starting walking in the same direction Natasha had gone.
“Wait tony! Where are you going?” Steve stopped him.
“I don´t know about you, but I’m going to see Leah.” He volunteered firmly decided.
“Natasha said she´s going to talk to her, give them a moment.” Steve suggested.
“I don’t want to give them a moment. My friend is hurting and I want to be with her. I want her to know I care.” Tony spat angrily. “Are you coming Doc?”
“If you are I guess I’d better join you.” Bruce volunteered. “Even if it´s just to stop you from doing something foolish.”
“Why do you always assume I´m going to do something stupid? Expect for you I have the highest IQ in the room.” Tony huffed irritated.
“What is an IQ?” Thor discretely asked Clint.
“Something that tells you how smart you are.” Clint answered quickly.
“He´s calling us dumb?” Thor asked irritated while raising his voice.
Tony ignored Thor´s question as he started walking again. Thor considered his options for a moment before telling Clint and Steve. “I’m going too; I have a promise to keep.”
“Wait Thor, I´m coming with you.” Clint hurriedly added.
Steve stood alone for a moment watching everyone walk away before angrily buffing while nodding his head in disapproval before walking to join them.
Meanwhile Natasha had arrived at Leah’s room, as she leaned to knock on the door she could hear Leah´s sobbing’s and kindly asked “Leah, may I come in?” She really didn´t waited an answer and was surprised to hear a whining yes. When she walked in she could see Leah crying with her face buried in a pillow while lying over the bed. Natasha sat by her side and gently touched her back while asking “Are you all right?” She knew she wasn´t , but she couldn´t think of a better way to initiate a conversation.
“I … just … didn´t … thought … it … was … going … to … be … so … hard!!” Leah confessed between sobs.
“I know, just let it go. If you need to cry just do it.” Natasha kindly suggested.
“You must all think I´m being silly.” Leah said sniffling.
“We would never think that. As a matter of fact I think it´s normal for you to be so upset; after all for you it´s the first mission he has ever gone to; although …”
“Although what, Natasha?” Leah asked anxiously.
“Loki is one of the best warriors I have ever met; and don’t you forget he has taken on us all more than once and we weren´t able to capture him before. Plus he is a great sorcerer, he should be all right. He´ll be back before you know it.” Natasha volunteered.
Leah sniffled as she confessed Natasha. “I don´t want to sleep alone … I´m scared to.”
When Tony arrived at the door he raised his hand to knock but overheard Natasha and Leah talking and just lingered there overhearing their conversation. Within seconds everyone had joined him.
“What are you…?” Bruce started to ask before being shushed by Tony.
“I’m trying to listen.” Tony whispered.
“Shouldn´t we knock?” Thor asked Clint worryingly.
“Thor, I can´t hear. Keep it down!” Tony spat annoyed.
“What are you all doing eavesdropping?” Steve admonished them.
“What did she said?” Bruce asked Tony, he had missed on their conversation due to all the noise outside.
“Something about being scared of sleeping alone.” Clint responded.
“I might be able to help you with that. How about we have a girl’s night? I can sleep with you if you want. That way you wouldn´t be alone.”
Leah cleaned her running nose with her sleeve as she nodded affirmatively. “I would like that.”
“How about a sleep over?” Tony burst in suddenly making everyone but Steve to fall to the ground; they had all been leaning on the door trying to listen.
“What the hell are you all doing?” Natasha spat enraged. “You were eavesdropping on us?”
“Technically…” Tony accepted without any shame. “But admit it, my idea is better than yours; girl’s night …” Tony buffed. “No, a sleep over is way more fun; we can do all sort of fun things.”
“Fun things?” Natasha snarled. “Somehow I doubt it.”
“Come on Natasha, don’t be so uptight!” Tony wryly teased her.
“I´m not uptight.” She growled annoyed. “Why do I keep forgetting I live with a bunch of frat guys!” she complained bitterly.
“Who are you calling a frat guy? For your information …” Tony raised his voice hurt by her comment.
Their discussion was interrupted by the best sound they have heard in a good while; the sound of Leah laughing full hearted. The scene had been hilarious, Thor Clint and Bruce sprawled on the floor looking embarrassed while Natasha and Tony argued disregarding them completely. Steve looked the scene totally amused as he tried to refrain form laughing.
Natasha and Tony turned their heads to see Leah before busted laughing themselves.
“You see?” Tony told Natasha when he finished laughing. “We´ve only been here a couple of minutes and she´s already laughing. What do you say Natasha, sleepover?”
Natasha sighed defeated, still smiling she answered. “If Leah wants.”
“I´d like that.” Leah acknowledged.
“Perfect!” Tony cheered while walking over Bruce, Clint and Thor before motioning them to follow. “Come on guys, we need supplies, and also something we can use to expand the bed.”
“Did he just said?” Leah asked Natasha in disbelief.
“Yes, I’m afraid he did.” Natasha answered jokingly, it was going to be a fun night; that was a certainty.
Just then Eerika’s cry could be heard over the baby monitor that rested over the night stand.
“I´d better go check on her.” Leah acknowledged.
When she got back Tony and the rest had moved a single bed into the room and were manoeuvring to position so they could expand the king size bed.
“He wasn´t kidding.” Leah said surprised.
“He almost never is.” Steve agreed. “Are you sure you are all right with this? It´s bound to get a little crazy.”
“I don’t mind, maybe I need a little crazy, either way I don´t want to sleep alone.” Leah confessed shyly.
Steve looked at her moved by her words and warmly put his arm over her shoulders as he reassured her. “Don´t worry kiddo. It seems you won´t have to, at least tonight.”
The sleepover went almost uneventful, except for Tony trying to outsmart everyone while playing truth or dare, which incidentally ended with Thor having his hair braided, Bruce having his nails done and Steve dancing at the sound of Gangnam Style. Clint refused to participate on the dares and resigned to tell the truth whenever it was his turn. “By the looks of it I might end up with my hair dyed blue or something like that.” He jokingly told Leah.
They ate pizza and popcorn until everyone was stuffed and ended up falling asleep while watching a movie marathon of Star Wars which gave Steve a chance to cross something of his list.
Early in the morning Leah rolled off Tony’s embrace and suddenly found herself resting her head an arms in an unfamiliar chest; the moment she realised it wasn´t Loki she gave a small jump opening her eyes startled only to find Thor staring back at her; she blushed instantly as she whispered. “I´m sorry.” Then she started to slowly rolling off his chest.
“Don´t be.” Thor whispered back which made Leah stop doubtful as Thor added. “Dr. Garner is right; we can´t keep avoiding each other.”
“I know.” Leah admitted. “I just don´t know how, I´m so sorry. I never meant to mislead you, I genuinely tried to love you, but …”
“The heart has a mind of its own.” Thor ended her phrase.
“Yes.” Leah acknowledged. “I´m sorry I hurt you, I´m a terrible friend.” She sniffed as a single tear rolled down her cheek.
Thor reached for her face and dried the tear gently with his fingers. “Don´t cry; Loki hates to see you cry, and so do I.”
“Can you ever forgive me?” Leah asked nervously. “Even if I don’t deserve it?”
Thor smiled kindly at her as he asked in return. “Why wouldn´t you deserve it?”
“I don’t know.” She acknowledged nervously. “I just feel like I don’t.”
“Leah, you have done what I thought was impossible, you reunited Loki and me. He finally changed his ways and I ow it all to you. You gave me my little brother back; whatever pain you caused me doesn´t compare to that joy. You also gave him a beautiful daughter and me an amazing niece. Even if Loki is too slow to ask for your hand I already consider you my sister. Whatever wrongs have passed between us I choose to forgive and forget them, would you do the same?” He told her with complete sincerity.
Leah was taken back by his words, she had never thought he would be so willing to forgive her. She tried to refrain her tears unsuccessfully as she told him. “I would.”
Thor smiled as he hugged her tight. “It´s ok little sister; whenever you need a shoulder to cry on, you can rely on mine.”
Leah sobbed for a while until the warmth of Thor´s embrace comforted her, then she raised her head and told him open hearted. “Someday you´ll make a lucky woman very happy thor.”
“I sure hope so.” Thor acknowledged.
“I know so.” Leah added. “Your urd lies somewhere, you just need to find her.”
Thor smiled as he asked her. “Did Loki taught you that word?”
“Urd?” Leah asked back. “Yes, he said it meant destiny, and something about the Norn’s carving something in Yggdrasil. “
“Yes, the ancient goddesses carve on the roots of Yggdrasil the destiny of every child. Did he told you were his urd?” He asked pleasantly surprised.
“Yes.” Leah acknowledged.
“He really loves you.” Thor asseverated. “ Destiny doesn´t mean the same to us than to you, what the Norns carve on Yggdrasil can and is changed by our actions in the present reflecting on our past than in return change our present. “
Leah looked at him totally confused by his explanation.
Thor noticed her confusion and added. “What I meant to say is that he wants you to be his urd; that he actively tries to keep you in his life. I´m surprised he hasn’t asked you to marry him already.”
“I don´t think I would make good wife material right now.” Leah bitterly told him.
“Nonsense.” Thor brushed her comment off. “He´ll get to it, eventually. That I promise you.”
Leah smiled warmly at Thor´s comment, it didn´t matter if Loki ever got around to ask her; as long as he returned safely to her she would feel blessed.
After they ended taking Leah rolled over to Tony’s side again; she was beginning to dose off when Tony playfully poked her ribs with his elbow.
As she questioning opened her eyes she found Tony smirking back at her. “So, you finally made peace with your brother-in-law?” He jokingly teased her.
Leah pouted pretending to be offended. “Oh, shut up!”
“Only if you give me a hug little sister.” He kept teasing her.
“Jealous?” Leah teased him back.
Tony turned to face her and hugged her tightly. “Not at all.” Next he kissed her forehead. “Now try to get some sleep before Eerika wakes up again.”
“All right, I will.” Leah agreed. “And … Tony?”
“Yes?” He asked her back.
She kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”
Tony smiled warmly. “Don´t mention it love. Seeing you smile again is payment enough.”