“All right. Dr. Richards would you mind telling my friend here what you just told me.” Tony asked to the image of a tall middle age man with gray temples.
“Not a problem Mr. Stark.” Dr. Reed Richards replied calmly turning his attention to Loki who had just walked into the communication center. “you can trust Doom to fulfill his promise, but … and here´s the glitch. He will keep his word exactly to the letter of what he promised; nothing more, nothing less. If he promised you not to try to kill you that doesn´t mean he would prevent someone else from doi9¿ng it; nor that he wouldn´t influence someone else to do it for him.”
“Thank you Dr. Richards. Your information is most useful.” Loki acknowledged with a small bow.
“My pleasure.” Reed volunteered answering Loki´s bow. “and if you should need any assistance with Doom don´t hesitate to call us.”
“Thank you Dr. Richards, we will.” Tony asseverated before cutting the communication.
“Now that we know I´m sure we can find a way to make this work on our favor. For starters; he said your family …” Tony tilted his head raising his eyebrows quite sure Loki would catch his drift.
“I´m not marrying her because of Doom´s!” Loki replied irritated by his suggestion crossing his arms over his chest.
“I´ll admit it´s not the most romantic reason; and for what the Dr. told us Doom could always try to find a way around it, but …” Tony tried to convince him again.
“I said no! I won´t accept that and neither would she.” Loki stated firmly.
“Then don´t tell her.” Tony suggested shamelessly.
Loki stared at Tony almost amused by his last suggestion. “Like she wouldn´t figure it out eventually. No, Tony. Know that we know exactly what to expect I´m telling her everything.”
“All right. It´s your call.” Tony admitted shrugging his shoulders. “What are you planning to do about Doom anyway?”
“I plan to keep the fact that she´s alive hidden as long as we can for starters.” Loki volunteered.
“You know we can´t keep that a secret forever.” Tony told him somberly.
“No, we won´t. But I never planned to.” Loki confessed.
“So, we´re back to square one?” Tony asked grimly.
“No. When I decided to take her with me I didn´t counted with having all of you nor SHIELD on my side. I´m confident to say that makes it a different game altogether.” He ended patting Tony´s shoulder amiably.
Tony scowled for a few seconds before smirking. “You are right. And it´s not only us who are on your side. If anyone gets any bright ideas about Leah or Eerika we´ll make sure they regret them.”
“That´s the plan.” Loki smirked back. It didn´t meant he would allow her to run around unprotected but he wouldn´t allow her to become a prisoner ever again either. “Now, if you excuse me Leah and I need to have a very long conversation.”
“I don´t envy you right now.” Tony confessed.
“Leah?” Loki called for her as soon as he arrived to their room.
“Over here.” Leah answered cheerfully; her voice was coming from the dressing room.
“Remember I told you I would tell you everything about my mission when the time was right?” He inquired standing on the door frame.
“Yes.” Leah stopped was she was doing and answered nervously while staring at Loki.
“Come with me.” Loki offered his hand to her. “Let´s sit; there´s much I need to tell you.”
Leah accepted his offer and sat nervously by his side on the edge of their bed.
Loki proceeded to tell Leah every detail he had hidden from her since he accepted the mission on Fury´s office.
Leah listened attentively to Loki. A myriad of emotions ran through her face as she learnt about Doom, the fight in the mine, Okanjo and the children, Loki´s conversation with Doom and ultimately his decision after hearing Dr. Richards input on the matter.
She remained silent trying to make sense of all the information Loki had just dropped on her.
“Why … why didn´t you told me …?” Was her first question; concern written all over her face.
“I didn´t wanted to worry you more than you already were. “ He told her while holding her hand between his. “Basically the same reason you lied to me when I left.”
“Tony told you?” Leah asked emotionless.
“Yes, he wanted to make sure I understood what you were going through when you broke your fingers.” He volunteered calmly.
Leah sighed upset looking down at her hand between Loki´s.
“There´s nothing to be ashamed about.” He reassured her.
“I´m sorry.” She finally told him down casted. “You had to went through all that for me.”
“Don´t be silly. I didn´t do it for you.” Loki tilted her head up smirking. “I did it for me. I´m extremely selfish. I decided I wouldn´t live without you, so …”
Leah interrupted him with an ardent kiss. “Lier.” She whispered.
“It takes one to know one.” He answered gingerly before returning her kiss.
Over a year had gone by since Eerika was born. Eventually all of the Avengers had moved back to the Tower except for Loki. The communication center worked perfectly allowing untraced communications between the Tower and the Mansion. Tony and Leah talked on everyday bases; sometimes more than once a day.
Leah´s session with Andrew had ended; nightmares were a strange occurance nowadays.
Loki travelled in and out of their house every time the Avengers required his help; but with those rare exceptions he spent most of his time with his family. Eerika was growing fast; before they knew it she had taken her first stumbling baby steps.
“Soon she´ll be running around the house.” Leah told him once as she watched their beautiful daughter holding onto the coffee table in the living room while she tested her footing.
“And casting spells.” Loki proudly volunteered.
Leah laughed delighted at his demonstration of fatherly pride. “Yes, that too.”
Thor travelled to Asgard from now and then. One of those times he approached Loki and told him in private. “Our father has decreed your banishment to Midgard as punishment for your past actions.”
Loki felt his heart sank, he would never be able to return to Asgard.
“At least now you can be sure now he won´t try to take you back to face Asgardian justice.” Thor told him in an attempt to comfort him.
“No.” Loki acknowledged sadly, but it also meant he wouldn´t see his mother ever again.
“He didn´t forbade her from visiting you.” Thor volunteered with a warm smile reading into Loki´s sad expression.
Loki´s eyes widened with surprise. “You mean that …”
“Yes, brother! She´ll be visiting soon.” Thor told him joyously as he placed his hand over Loki´s shoulder. “Father won´t even hear about it; but mother is anxiously waiting to meet her granddaughter.”
“Thank you!” Loki embraced his older brother excited at the news; if Thor could´ve seen his face he would´ve seen Loki´s eyes glistering.
“Don´t mention it.” Thor volunteered while returning Loki´s embrace. “I know you miss her as much as she misses you. She won´t be able to come to Midgard too often though. You know risking father´s anger isn´t a good idea. But both of her sons are here so you can expect to see her at least once a year.”
Thor´s words lightened Loki´s heart; maybe someday … there was always hope.
“So, Loki. Bottom line. Fury asked me to congratulate you on your last mission success. And he wants to know when are you finally …Hey Eerika! Say hi to uncle Tony!”
“Ony.” Eerika babbled pointing at the screen happily. Leah ran into the communications room right behind her daughter snatching her just before she stumbled down.
“I´m sorry guys.” Leah volunteered laughing heartily. “She just won’t take no for an answer.”
“Nonsense.” Tony replied with a big grin. “I’m always looking forward to this kind of interruptions. Just look at her! Are you giving your mummy a hard time love?”
“Actually she was looking for her dad.” Leah told them both as she lifted Eerika up. “But she is getting very fast.”
“Hello princess.” Loki greeted his daughter. “Just let me finish some business with uncle Tony and we can go to play.”
“Come on love, let´s find you something to play with while your father finishes working.” Leah turned to the screen waving gently with Erika’s hand on hers. “Say goodbye to uncle Tony.”
“Bye girls.” Tony waved back. “Now, what was I saying? Oh, yes! Fury wanted to know when are you going to take a more permanent position with the Avengers.”
Loki opened his mouth to answer but Tony didn´t gave him the chance. “Yes, I know… I already told him you wouldn´t move into the Tower nor ran out at every little emergency. But I convinced him to let it go provided you do some public appearances now and then, you know; politics.”
“Actually.” Loki interrupted him. “I was going to tell you that I´m going to take a … how do you call it? … a sabbatical I think; a rest from all this superhero stuff.”
“You what??!!” Tony spat surprised.
“If you direly need me you can still count on me, but if not… Tell Fury I´m planning to spent some time with my wife.”
“Haha, very funny; your wife.” Tony shrugged it as a joke. When Loki didn´t even smile he blurted out. “Don´t you dare tell me you two got married without us! Leah! Tell me you didn´t!”
Leah nervously pointed her finger at Loki “He made me do it. I told him you were going to snap…”
“Loki! Why would you do something like that man?” Tony reproached him.
“It wasn´t like I planned it.” Loki explained shrugging his shoulders. “It kind of happened.”
“It kind of happened? How can you just happen to get married? You´d better have a better explanation than that!” Tony growled annoyed.
“We were just taking a stroll when we found ourselves in the City Hall and … well I couldn´t just let the mother of my children to remain unmarried.” Loki volunteered smiling shamelessly.
Tony replied with irony. “Of course not. The mother of your … wait a minute! Did you just say children? “ Tony ran his hands through his hair in disbelief before yelling at Loki. “Stop giving me news like that! You´re going to give me a heart attack! Is she …” Changing his mind he looked directly at Leah and formally asked her. “Are you pregnant?” Though he asked her in a very serious tone his face betrayed him; a mixture of annoyance and happiness was portrayed all over it.
Leah failed to keep a straight-face and laughed heartily as she answered. “Yes, I am.”
Tony smiled baffled for a second thinking what to say next. Leah beat his to it as she volunteered quickly trying to make amends. “You can be the godfather this time.”
“Of course I am. But that won´t get you both of the hook that easily. You owe me a wedding … and I´m not taking no for an answer.” He pointed his finger at Loki who was about to protest.
Leah just laughed harder at Tony´s reaction which made Loki laugh too.
“I´m serious about that. And I´m getting you 110 inches TV installed in your bedroom as a wedding present. That should give you something else to do. What are you, bunnies? I´ve barely got over your last pregnancy and now …” He stopped looking at them pleased. He would never had thought of such an outcome when they reluctantly welcomed “collateral damage” into their lives.
As Loki approached Leah and Eerika Tony snapped out of his thoughts. “On second thought… stop looking at her! I´m quite sure you’re getting her pregnant just by looking at her. Is that an Asgardian power? Because if it is …”
Leah busted laughing again; between giggles she told him. “We love you too Tony.”
“Of course you do.” Tony answered with a big grin. “Seriously guys. Congratulations! And if you think I overreacted wait till the rest of the gang hears about this.” Suddenly he stepped away from the screen while he shouted. “Guys! Hey guys! Come here quickly! Leah and Loki have news for us.”
Loki looked at Leah nervously. “He´s joking, right? He wouldn´t …”
Leah nodded her head affirmatively. “Yes, he would. Don´t worry; I got your back.” Leah volunteered calmly with a warm smile.
Loki looked at her lovingly while he leaned to hug both of his girls. “I know you do.”
Whatever happened next he knew he would never have to face it alone. Not any more, not ever again.