Nuisance Next Door

Fist Fight

Loki followed Thor into his room, feeling dreadful about what they were about to talk about. Immediately, Loki threw himself onto Thor's bed, face-down. Thor went and sat at the end of the bed, sighing heavily. "We have to talk about this," Thor began.

"Sorry, Loki's not here," Loki said flatly into Thor's pillow.

"This isn't the time to joke, brother." Thor nudged Loki affectionately and Loki felt himself deflate. So, finally someone knew what his father had been doing to him for two years. Well, two people knew; Thor and Tony.

Slowly, Loki pulled himself up so he was sitting across from his brother with his legs crossed. He put his head in his hands wearily. "It's really not that bad, Thor. He doesn't do it often. Odin just needs a way to take out his anger, and I happen to be there. No problem, okay? It gives me a chance to punch the bastard back…" He trailed off and waited. Loki wondered how his brother would take this news after being left in the dark for so long. Maybe he would yell. But there was nothing. Only silence.

The unusual quiet had Loki glancing up at his brother. Thor was staring at the wall, his eyes watery. "Thor," Loki said, scooting closer to Thor. He reached out tentatively. Loki had never been good at comforting.

Thor's eyes snapped to him almost angrily. "How long has this been going on?"

For a moment, Loki thought to lie, but it was already slipping out of his mouth before he could stop it, "Two years."

"Two years?" Thor said, exasperated. "Is this what happened two years ago? Is this what you and father were so secretive of back then?"

Loki shrugged. This and the incident with Bucky. "Look, Thor. I want you to stay out of this. This is my mess. I just have to make it through two more years of high school and then I'm free, okay? I can handle it."

Thor was staring at him as if he had grown two heads. "You're so stubborn," Thor said after a moment. "I just don't know why you don't want me or mother to help."

"Don't," Loki said immediately, "tell mother." Frigga was so gentle and forgiving of all of the men in this crappy family. Loki didn't want to come between her and any of the others.

Thor didn't respond. Instead, he stood and said, "I'm going to get the first aid kit."

Loki nodded and watched him leave, still not knowing how to feel. Was it good or bad that Thor now knew his secret? What about Stark? Loki felt as if his life was spiraling out of his control.

He turned to the window and pulled back the curtains to stare at Stark's house. Loki frowned for a moment, thinking. It was strange… where were Stark's parents? There had been hardly anything in the house. And that comment Tony had made a few days ago, about how he wished his father would yell at him… What did that mean? He realized just then how little he knew about Tony Stark.

Suddenly a harsh yell rose up from the hallway. Thor's door was wide open, so Loki heard plainly when Thor hollered, "What did you do to Loki?"

Loki's eyes went wide and his heart stuttered in fear. No. No, this was not happening. Flashing to his feet, Loki practically ran to Thor's door and skidded into the hallway. Thor was standing off with Odin who was standing in the way of the stairs. "I saw his face," Thor hissed, furiously. He was clutching the first aid kit in one hand and his other was curled into a fist.

Loki marched up to Thor, stopping just behind him. "Thor," he warned, glancing up at his father. Odin was stony-eyed. A storm of fury was raging just below the surface of his blank face. This was not good.

"No, Loki," Thor said, still staring at Odin. "This is serious." He turned his words on Odin, continuing, "I don't know what fucking reason you have for hurting Loki, but it's got to stop. Right now."

Loki was practically frozen, all tense. Thor never swore like this.

"I want to know why everyone is so eager to hurt him," Thor said, his face turning an angry red.

Odin let his gaze wash over them one at a time, before replying, "I had nothing to do with this. He told me he got into a fight after school."

"Liar," Thor said, matching Loki's own thoughts.

"Loki lies all of the time," Odin said evenly. "Isn't that right?" His question was directed at Loki and instinctively, Loki looked away. He didn't know the right answer to that question.

"What's with all of this yelling?" a soft voice interrupted them. Loki looked up in horror. Frigga had just reached the top of the stairs and was looking at the three worriedly. Loki's face paled.

"Odin's been hurting Loki," Thor said right away, looking angrily at his father.

"What?" Frigga gasped, confused.

Odin shook his head with an annoyed smile. "Loki was just lying to get attention again."

But Frigga wasn't looking at either of them, she was watching Loki worriedly. Loki couldn't do this to her. He felt himself crumbling under her gaze. "I lied," Loki said.

Thor spun to him in surprise. "Loki, tell the truth," he demanded.

Loki couldn't take it anymore. "It is the truth!" Odin stood back, looking smug. Loki forced himself to look away and was met instead by Thor's betrayed expression. But what took it all was Frigga's look of disappointment.

"What do you mean, it's true?" Thor said slowly.

Loki looked down at his hands, wrapping them together nervously. "I lied. I got into a fight when I snuck out to the park the other night. I just…" He trailed off and looked at them. Damn it, he could never do anything right. He had disappointed Thor and Frigga again and had played right into Odin's hands again. What was worse, none of them looked surprised.

Thor's look of concern turned into a glare. "So you lied about this? That is serious stuff you were accusing father of!"

"I know," Loki said evenly, pushing all emotion aside. He didn't even bother apologizing or saying any more. He just turned away from his family towards Thor's room. "I'll be in my room."

As he moved to escape, Odin's voice caused him to pause, "You're grounded."

Loki breathed out slowly and then continued his escape. He slipped away through Thor's room, out the window, and slid into his own window.

Just two more years, Loki reminded himself as he pulled himself into his bed with his clothes still on. Two years and he was

Monday went without a hitch, as did the rest of the week. Loki went to class as he was supposed to and attended dutifully. Thor was ignoring him because of Saturday's incident and it kind of hurt, but really Loki only had himself to blame. The car rides to and from school were just so quiet now.

No one was bothering him at school. Bucky, Thor's friends, and many of the others who hated Loki had done very little that week. It was like a breath of fresh air and Loki relished in it.

But Tony was a different story. Stark was an annoyance. He followed Loki around, asking questions, trying to be Loki's friend. Loki just couldn't shake him.

He did his best to avoid Tony, though. But when he was forced to talk to Stark, he responded shortly, rudely, hoping that Tony would finally get the message. Of course, that didn't deter the fool.

It was Tuesday the following week when Tony finally caught Loki by the shoulder and forced him to a stop in the Juniors' hallway after school. "Loks, talk to me," he said. Pepper was standing not too far behind Tony and Loki felt his stomach bottom out when he noticed Pepper's friends Natasha and Steve behind her. For some reason, even these three looked as worried as Tony. It left a bad taste in Loki's mouth.

"Did you tell them?" Loki hissed at Tony. The rumor about Loki's injury last week was that Loki had joined a gang. It was a rumor Loki was satisfied with. He did not want it to get out that he was getting smacked around by his father.

Tony frowned and followed Loki's gaze to the ragtag group. "No, of course not," Tony said, turning back to Loki. "They just heard that Bucky was looking for you."

"Ah," Loki nodded, finally understanding, "They came to watch me get beat up. It makes sense now."

"What?" Tony said. "No, they…" He glanced back at them and they were clearly looking around in all directions. "Well, maybe, but that's not why I'm here. You've been avoiding me. For like a week and a half now."

"Yeah," Loki said.

Tony's mouth hung open in disbelief. "Any reason why?"

"Because you're annoying as hell."

"That's not what you thought when you fell asleep on my shoulder."

Loki slapped a hand over Stark's mouth, staring around the busy hallway for anyone watching. "Don't go around spouting that stuff," Loki said, leaning in threateningly. "People will start saying—"

"Oh, look at the love birds," Bucky laughed, appearing next to them with a mocking smile.

Loki pushed Tony away and turned on Bucky. "I'm not in the mood today, Bucky."

"Hey, I'm just telling it like I see it," Bucky said, holding both hands up.

"Leave Loki alone," Tony said protectively.

"Stark," Loki warned.

Bucky laughed again. "See what I mean?"

"I'm going to kill you," Loki shot back.

"Let's go," Tony urged, moving into Loki's personal space.

"Shut up, Stark!" Loki felt his anger rising dangerously.

"Yeah, shut up, Stark!" Bucky copied.

Loki groaned in frustration and before he could stop himself, he turned and threw a punch right at Bucky's smug little face with a loud crack. People gasped around them, gathering for the fight. Loki seethed but smiled in victory at the shocked expression on Bucky's face.

Without warning, Bucky swung back, catching Loki in the jaw. Loki was thrown backward but Tony caught him before he could fall flat on his ass. Tony set Loki back on his feet before throwing his own punch at Bucky, who dodged it easily. Bucky swung his leg out and tripped Tony, sending him face down to the floor.

Loki curled his hands into fists at the sight of Tony on the floor. Bucky was gearing up to punch Tony but Loki shouted, "Is that all you've got?" As predicted, it diverted Bucky's attention.

Bucky turned back to him with a grin that Loki immediately mirrored. "I wonder how much I can make you bleed," Bucky said.

Loki laughed mockingly, feeling the adrenaline pump through his veins. "Yeah, we'll see about that."

But suddenly a body wedged between the two. At first, Loki thought it was Stark but a split second later he realized it was Steve. He was standing neutrally and staring between the two of them. "Stop before Fury comes," he said authoritatively.

"Who the hell are you?" Bucky demanded.

Steve stared him down. "Steve. We used to be friends in the second grade."

Bucky stared back in pure confusion.

Tony stood from the floor, looking somewhat embarrassed as he moved to Loki's side. "I can't believe I didn't get a punch in," Tony murmured.

Loki grabbed Tony's arm and tugged him in the opposite direction of where Steve and Bucky were having a stare-off. "Come on, you're driving me home."

"I am?" Tony asked, feigning complete surprise.

"You're an ass," Loki said, trying to hide his fondness. "Let's go." They slipped away easily.

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