“How are you feeling today Leah?” Andrew asked calmly.
“All things considered I guess I´m fine.” Leah volunteered. “Did you knew I´m under super-nanny watch?” Leah joked wryly.
Andrew couldn´t help to laugh. “Yes, I heard.”.
“Good Lord I break a couple of bones and everyone goes haywire.” Leah jokingly complained.
“Well, can you blame them? They tried to give you some space …” Andrew started to explain when Leah interrupted him.
“Yes, I know. I did this.” She raised her hands in defeat.
” You know that´s not the main reason they are keeping tabs with you.” Andrew volunteered.
Leah sighed frustrated. “Yes, I know. They are worried I can´t do things” She leaned down on the sofa for a moment before raising up to add. “At least I’m perfectly capable of bathing myself, well … kind of. As long as someone helps me to wrap these things to keep them dry.” Leah looked at her splinters pouting.” And unwrap them … maybe a bit of help with the hair dryer, and … damn! I´m a mess!”
Andrew looked at her amused by her rambling while hiding his grin with his hand. Suddenly Leah looked up and spat annoyed. “All right … I need a lot of help. Are you happy?”
Andrew kept his hand over his mouth to avoid laughing as he nodded negatively closing his eyes for a second trying to keep a staright-face, when he opened his eyes again he asked her with irony. “Was it that hard?”
“To admit I need help? Maybe … either way I guess I´d better get used to it. Somehow I don’t think Loki will let it slide.” Her apparent good humor vanished at that point
Andrew leaned forward concerned. “What do you mean? Are you really suggesting he wouldn´t heal your bones?”
“I wouldn´t.” Leah volunteered dryly while looking down.
“Why not?” Andrew inquired worried by her answer.
“To teach me a lesson.” Leah volunteered uncomfortable.
“What´s wrong Leah? What is it that you are so worried about?” Andrew asked calmly.
“What if this is the proverbial drop that overflows the glass?” Leah asked worryingly. “I´m scared.”
Andrew leaned closer as he reassured her. “I really don´t think it will Leah. Have some faith in Loki.”
“I do.” Leah answered with a whine. “I have faith he´ll scold the living hell out of me.”
Andrew looked at her distressed pouting and volunteered kindly. “I´m sure it won´t be that bad Leah.”
“So, you don´t think he´ll get angry?” Leah asked incredulously.
“On the contrary; I know he will. He´ll probably yell at you for being so careless but the only reason he´ll do it is because he cares about you. He´ll even nag everyone else for not taking proper care for you.” Andrew told her trying to cheer her up.
“That´s what scares me the most.” Leah confessed alarmed.
“Are you scared for Tony?” Andrew asked her unsure.
“Umm … yes. I don´t want Loki to think … I don´t know I just … I don´t want team to fight.” Leah admitted broodingly turning her face away.
“Leah.” Andrew called her attention, she looked absent.
Leah turned back to face him as she wryly volunteered. “I know, don´t worry. Why couldn´t I just kept my mouth shut?” She huffed angry at herself.
“Leah, I sincerely think that lashing out was the best thing for you. Haven´t you been feeling better?” Andrew asked concerned.
“I didn´t had any nightmares last night.” Leah volunteered shyly.
“You see?” Andrew told her with a reassuring smile. “Now, when Loki arrives today just tell him what happened. There´s a good probability he´ll get angry but at the end he´ll understand.”
Leah eyes widened overjoyed. “Today? Loki is coming back today?”
“Yes.” Andrew answered with a big grin.
“Oh my God! He´s coming back! Today!” Leah jumped up to her feet excited. “Andrew why didn´t you told me that before? Look at me! I´m a mess! At what time will he arrive? I got to change and …”
Andrew´s laugh interrupted her thoughts.
“What? Yes, I´m acting as a teenager, so sue me.”
“No, I´m just glad to see you this happy.” Andrew told her gallantly. “It suits you.”
Leah blushed at his compliment. “thank you.”
“Feeling better?” Andrew asked her teasingly.
“No, I´m still scared as hell, but who cares. Loki is coming back! I feel too many butterflies in my stomach to be able to worry. He can yell at me all day long if he wants.” Leah acknowledged happily. “Tell me Andrew; at what time will he arrive?”
“Sometime after two, that´s all I know.” Andrew volunteered.
“Is he ok? He´s unharmed, right? Please, tell me he is!” Leah pleaded anxiously.
“Yes, he is. You have nothing to worry about.” Andrew reassured her.
“So, you didn´t told Doom she´s alive?” Fury asked Loki as they arrived to his office.
“No, I´m still not sure if I should trust him.” Loki acknowledged doubtfully.
“I know this will sound strange coming from me, but maybe you can.” Fury volunteered.
“You can´t be serious!” Loki spat surprised.
“I´ve heard some rumors; according to them if Doom pawns his word he will abide by it; specially if it concerns his twisted honor code.” Fury volunteered while in deep thought. “I can make some inquiries, just to be sure.”
Loki considered his offer for a moment. “All right, either way I’m not ready to tell him yet.”
“You´ll probably need to tell him before he finds out.” Fury suggested.
“When I´m ready.” Loki volunteered dryly.
“It´s your call.” Fury acknowledged shrugging his shoulders. “Are you ready to leave?”
“Can´t wait to get rid of me?” Loki answered jokingly.
“Yes, I can´t wait until you´re someone else’s problem.” Fury told him with a smirk.
“You´ll miss me.” Loki smirked back.
“I most certainly will not.” Fury adamantly answered. “But I´ll keep in touch.”
“Please don´t.” Loki answered sternly. “If you need me call the Avengers.”
“As you wish.” Fury answered nonchalant.
A few moments later Loki appeared in his studio. Before walking out he replenished his energies with the gems he had taken with him.
“Home.” He sighed with satisfaction. “Finally! Where could Leah be at this hour. Maybe I should ask Tony to install an A.I. like Jarvis. That way I wouldn´t have to look for her all over every time I need to find her.”
He directed to their quarters first trying deliberately not to bump with anyone. He wanted Leah to be the first person to welcome him back.
While on the hallway he stopped pensively for a moment. “Nursery or our room? Maybe I should check our room first.” He smiled mischievously. “Hopefully she´s alone. I feel like spending some quality time with her.”
When he reached their room he sighed disappointed he could overhear both Leah and Natasha´s voices as well as a low humming sound. “Come on Loki, it was a long shot anyway. She didn´t knew exactly at what hour would you arrive. Besides you can always hint her to ask Natasha to leave.” With that last thought on his mind he entered the room.
Both women were sat with their back to the door talking and laughing. Natasha was blowing dry Leah´s long hair. Leah was wearing a bathrobe. There was a hairbrush and some unknown objects scattered around as well as Leah´s change of clothes.
“I´m probably just early.” He thought to himself, pleased that Leah had asked Natasha to help her fix up for him.
He coughed loudly to call their attention. Natasha turned off the dryer as she turned her head to the door almost at the same time Leah did. That´s when he noticed something wrapping two fingers of Leah´s right hand.
“Loki!” Leah jumped out of the bed joyously as she ran straight into his arms. “You´re back!”
Loki smiled as he hugged her tightly. Instantly she snuggled closer to him relishing on his scent, a satisfaction sigh escaped her lips.
Her sigh made him long for her. He broke their embrace to search for her mouth. He kissed her sweetly for a moment until he noticed a second wrapping on her other hand. Swiftly he stopped. “What´s that?” He asked her as he brought one of her hands closer to his face to examine it.
“I …” Leah studded embarrassed. “uhm … they are splinters.” She finally confessed with a guilty look.
Loki´s expression changed to a worried one; sternly he asked her. “What happened?”
Leah looked at Natasha distressed; she would have to explain everything to Loki. Worriedly she called for her. “Natasha… I … could you?”
“I´ll give you some privacy.” Natasha answered her unspoken plea. “You must have tons of things to talk about.” As she passed by Loki on her way out she softly told him. “Don´t be too hard on her. She´s hard enough on herself.”
Leah gave her a thankful smile. She didn´t know if Natasha´s word would have any effect on Loki, but at least she had tried.
Loki didn´t said a word; but he waited until Natasha had left to ask Leah again. “What happened?”
“I … kind of broke … two fingers of each hand.” She blurted her words out quickly, afraid she would lose her nerve.
Loki´s eyes widened in shock. “You did what? How did this happen? Were you training?”
Leah gravely answered his question. “No, I wasn´t training. I think I should explain what happened since the beginning. It will make so much more sense that way. But … could I at least dress myself first?” She pleaded in hope.
Loki looked at her sternly. Was she trying to distract him? Maybe stall? With a flick of his fingers Leah´s clothes magically appeared on her.
“A jersey and some jeans.” She thought worriedly. “This isn´t painting any good.” She acknowledged while eyeing the dress that remained lying on their bed.
“There, you are dressed. Carry on.” Loki stated seriously as he crossed his arms over his chest.
“It will take a while; can we sit?” she asked nervously.
Loki looked severely at her and then at their bed. “If you want.” He finally agreed while shrugging his shoulders.
“Thank you.” Leah told him with a small smile as she walked to the bed and sat. “It all started the night you left. We made a sleepover.” Leah told him feeling uneasy.
“Sleepover? You mean everyone slept here on our bed with you?” Loki asked bewildered. “I thought you were only having a party.”
“You saw us? How?” Leah asked confused.
“I scryed for you just before we left to the mission. I saw all of you fooling around.” Loki volunteered.
“Well, the guys brought another bed and we all slept together.” Loki´s dark expression told her he wasn´t thrilled with the idea. “I … I kind of told team I was afraid of sleeping alone, so …” She confessed shamefaced.
Loki´s eyes softened for an instant before asking apprehensively. “Who suggested this sleepover?”
“Um … Tony.” Leah volunteered nervously.
“I should´ve known.” Loki spat angrily. “He couldn´t wait to have you in his arms again.”
Leah felt shocked by his suggestion and complained offended. “Loki you know Tony and I don’t think of each other that way.”
“So tell me, who slept by your side?” Loki sternly asked her.
“Tony and Thor.” Leah answered distraught. She hadn´t thought Loki would be angrier at her because of some silly jealousy than by the fact she had broken her fingers.
Loki huffed vexed.
Leah spat angrily. “If nothing happened between us the night we slept together in my room just the two of us. What makes you think something did when we were surrounded by five more people. One of them your brother nonetheless. Does it even matter to you that I broke four of my fingers?” She reproached him sullen.
Loki looked at her resentful of her reproach. “Of course I care … just continue with your story. We can talk about this later.” He told her on a sulky matter.
Leah sighed annoyed. “Early next morning I had a nightmare. Not a particularly bad one but enough to wake me up. When I did … everyone was staring at me…” She looked up to meet Loki´s gaze. “They gave me the same look you are giving me right now.”
“What look?” Loki asked taken by surprise.
“The pity look.” Leah acknowledged dryly.
“I’m not …” Loki tried to defend himself.
“Yes, you do. I know you don´t mean to; neither did they. But when you look at me like that … it makes me feel … worthless.” She confessed upset.
Loki understood exactly what she meant. “I´m sorry. I didn´t knew. You never said anything before.”
“No, I didn´t. I just couldn´t muster the courage to tell any of you. And it only got worse every time it happened. I tried to ignore it; I really tried. But that morning … I just couldn´t. I thought I could run away from it and just … I don´t know … let it pass. But I was feeling too angry and useless. They all noticed but then Tony wouldn´t let it go.”
Leah closed her eyes for a moment remembering the scene. “We got into a fight and … I just wanted him to leave me alone. I never meant. I told him horrible things.”
Loki looked sympathetically at Leah´s troubled expression. “Siblings…” He thought to himself. Even if he was jealous of Tony he had to admit Leah and him behaved more like brother and sister than anything else.
“It couldn´t been that bad.” Loki kindly suggested
“I told him to leave me alone and to stop acting as if he were my brother. That I didn´t needed him because we weren´t family.” Leah blurted shamefully.
“Leah! You actually told him that?” Loki looked surprised remembering Thor´s pained look when he told him the same thing.
“I yelled it to his face …I hurt him.” She confessed while down casting her eyes. “I just didn´t knew what to do. I was hurting so bad. Andrew said it actually helped me at the end.”
“Mmm, yes. Andrew.” Loki acknowledged trying to disguise the jealousy he felt.
“Yes, he said that the session we had after the fight was one of our more productive ones. Bottom line I knew I had to apologize to Tony, but when I found him our quarrel only got worse.” Leah confessed wryly.
“Please tell me you didn´t broke your fingers fighting with him.” Loki snapped irritated.
“Of course not!” Leah answered swiftly. “I did that myself. I tried to fix it but the argument just got worse and then Tony told me he was leaving right after you got back because he never wanted to see me anymore … and then … I just … I had lost my best friend and it was all my fault. I was a coward. You weren´t here. I didn´t knew what to do with myself. I don´t think I did it on purpose but suddenly I found myself in one of the training rooms. When I saw the punching bag I … I just had to vent all my anger on it. Not just about what just happened with Tony, but about everything. At first I could feel the pain building up in my knuckles but after a while I couldn´t care less. I just kept hitting it with all my strength; that´s how I broke my fingers.”
Loki looked at Leah horrified thinking how much strength she must had used to make such damage. Her bones and tissues were three times stronger than normal humans.
“I just kept doing it until he found me. After all we said to each other I had lost all hope. But he came looking for me to apologize.” Leah smiled fondly as she remembered Tony´s warmth. Loki flinched, a pang of jealousy ran through him.
“It was the least he could do.” Loki spat furiously. “After all he caused this mess. Wait till I have a word with him.”
Leah´s eyes widened scared. “No. Loki it wasn´t his fault! It was mine! Please Loki!”
“You are defending him! “Loki growled vexed as he stood up. “He made you upset after all those times he scolded me. I´m going to give him a piece of my mind.”
Leah quickly stood up in front of him. “No, please! Loki, don´t! I´m fine. He didn´t made me upset. I was upset already. Besides Andrew says that lashing out proved more beneficial than detrimental.”
“Andrew” Loki mumbled between his teeth as he gently pushed Leah to the side. “I´ll ask him if that´s the truth!”
Leah shrieked in panic. “I´m not lying! Loki, please! Just listen to me. If you want to be angry with someone it should be me. If you want to punish someone, punish me!” She had cut his way again.
Loki looked at her irritated. “Don´t you even think you’re out of trouble either. But first I will have a talk with your knight in shining armour.” With that he pushed her again out of his path and closed the door behind him.
Leah tried to follow him immediately but she found the door magically locked.
“No! Loki! Please! Just listen to me! Listen to me!” she pleaded in despair for a moment leaning on the door.
“Why can´t he just let somethings alone?” She asked to herself in a low tone. “I don´t want him to talk to Tony; not without me. What if things go wrong?”