Toni shoves her way out of the loud and raucous bar, uncaring of how many people she has to push or elbow just to make it to the door. Her small size means that she nearly gets knocked over when overly-large or too-drunk bikers start to shove back, but they all back off when they recognize her. For all that the group of them might seem like a bunch of meatheads, they are smart enough not to piss off the tiny mechanic who keeps their bikes in running order. Or, they are all smart enough except for one, who is far too smart for either his or her own good.
It is Thor who catches her arm just as she gets to the door and plans to storm out. There is genuine sorrow in his eyes, but Toni doesn’t want to hear his apologies or sympathy. It isn’t his fault, but Thor would be more than willing to take on the blame himself – he always does when it comes to Loki’s tricks. That wouldn’t cut it now, though, not when she has seen herself how he and some blonde chick from a town over have been spending the evening.
Still, Thor tries to say something, but shaking her head, Toni pulls away. Standing outside in the cold, desert night, the anger seems to fade back into hurt. It had been stupid of her to expect any kind of commitment from Loki – he couldn’t even commit to a gang to ride with, jumping from one to another and causing fights between them all. That he had a place to sleep safely was only because Thor called him family and always welcomed the snake back into his own group whenever Loki needed the protection.
That was how they had met, Loki riding second to Thor as they had pulled up to Coulson’s bar, Shield, which was conveniently located right next to her little mechanic shop. He had been riding a borrowed bike, his having been trashed in the last fight he had gotten caught in. At the time, Toni didn’t care, and gods, if only she had kept right on not caring. But no, Loki with his clever wit and his intelligence and his biting sarcasm had changed that. He kept coming back, too, driving in each week with Thor just in front of him and on a bike that didn’t suit him at all.
At some point, Thor had pulled her aside to thank her, because apparently Loki had never stuck around so long, and Thor believed it was because of her, because Loki kept wanting to come back to Shield’s second-rate beer and Toni’s company. That had swayed Toni more than she would like to admit now, but she couldn’t deny it when the evidence was her own pain, left standing under a flickering streetlight and empty sky in the middle of the night while Loki had his silver tongue down the Trollop of the Week’s throat.
After a long moment, Toni had had enough of her own misery. She stepped away from the door, walking across the cracked asphalt with only the intention of heading back to her own dingy apartment, tucked away just over her shop, but a flash of green caught her eye before she had made it halfway there. It was Sleipnir of course – Loki was the only biker in these parts who would ride a bike that shade of poison green. Looking at it made Toni sick, because it was her baby – their baby – and she couldn’t even imagine how many girls Loki had taken out for a ‘ride’ on the bike.
Because of course, the first custom bike Toni builds in years would be for someone who turns out to be such an asshole. It seems to be the story of her life, at this point, and if the whole mess the first time around – with Obadiah’s scummy hands on her custom work and his scheming and all the fun of creation just torn away – hadn’t warned her off, than this definitely would. She had been fine just fixing things, cleaning them up and repairing the worst of them, but she didn’t build anymore. At least, not until she thought maybe that Loki deserved something new, something she had built. But no, it was just that manipulative asshole playing at sentiment – love – to get his hands on some work of the infamous Toni Stark.
Now, though, when she stares at Sleipnir, she sees Loki laughing and shirtless and beautiful in the hot daylight as they build the damn thing together. But she also sees Natasha’s unhappy frown and Clint’s ashamed glare, and she sees the pictures they had placed on the table, of Loki and Sleipnir and a parade of different girls – and occasionally guys – all in various stages of illicit activity. She sees Loki offering her a hand, and then they’re both flying down the road on a test ride – a joyride – and Toni’s breathless and laughing because she hasn’t ridden even longer than she hasn’t built, but the feeling of joy is lost as it becomes someone else on the damned bike with Loki, someone else clinging to him or kissing him or pressing up naked against him.
She shakes her head against the visions, but still Sleipnir is sitting in front of her, and gods, how she had loved building that bike, but the love of it is truly gone now. She had sworn before that she wouldn’t do it again, but now she can’t she how she could. Toni leaves the parking lot, stepping across a cement divider to get to her own place, and though she had hoped to escape from Loki and everything that is his, she still sees his jacket draped over a bench in the shop, and the smell of oil and metal does nothing to help the melancholy pain.
When her hand settles on a worktable, though, and she feels the brush of a cold metal wrench against her hand, something else occurs to her. Maybe, if she can’t build – can’t create – then she can do something a bit more… deconstructive instead.
It’s nearly 3 am before the biker’s begin to pour out of Shield, and by then Toni’s already done and back to her place, drunk enough and satisfied enough to fall asleep. It’s Hogun who leaves first, but he keeps silent on the sight before him. Sif and Volstagg follows, with the dark-haired beauty grinning viciously when the shock wears off. Volstagg is stunned silly and much too drunk to really understand. Soon, however, the entire bar is standing outside, staring on in various degrees of horror or satisfaction. Even Thor was grinning, though it was a bit sadly for he understood what was lost and how his brother had hurt the tiny woman he thought of as a good friend.
Loki’s the last out, partly because no one had bothered to mention that they were leaving, but also because he had a hand down the back of his newest girl’s pants, and only Coulson’s glare had gotten the two to leave. Still, he doesn’t immediately catch on, distracted by the trollop’s mouth, and completely missing the dangerous glint in Coulson’s eye or Natasha’s amused smirk. Toni is one of theirs, after all, and so they can’t wait for Loki to eat shit.
But Loki has to eventually see the assorted and various pieces of Sleipnir that have been scattered about the parking lot. He cannot miss how his own bike is in pieces, battered, scuffed, and wrecked beyond even Toni’s ability to repair. That had been her intention after all – a grand and dramatic way to let Loki know that he’s been found out, and that he won’t be forgiven. And Loki’s face screams it – the donning realization bleeding into anger and rage and maybe panic and guilt or regret. He storms out to the bike, raging nonsense and just staring wide-eyed. No one moves, at least, not until he sets off at a run towards Toni’s and then everyone’s there. Thor knocks him down, and Clint, Natasha and Coulson step in front of him. Bruce is already at Toni’s door, guarding it against the snake’s rampage, and Steve’s there too, trying to play mediator but know that when it’s Loki and Toni, it’s a hopeless cause. Besides, what can he say when Loki’s bike is scrapped and Toni’s heart is much the same. Instead, Thor takes his angry brother to the dumpy motel down the street, and Natasha sends the trollop home, and everyone packs it in for the night. Coulson just grabs the shop broom from Toni’s downstairs and begins to sweep his parking lot, brushing the pieces that were once Sleipnir into a pile in the corner. Toni will probably sell them for scrap in a few weeks, and if Loki is smart, he’ll leave and not show again.
But somehow, Coulson doubts that. After all, he knows they’re both too smart for their own good.