This isn't really an "is this anything?"--I've written almost up to the final act, so it damn well better be something.
“Thor,” Tony Stark said, his voice deliberately level, “what’s he doing here?”
Moments earlier, Thor and Loki had be delivered by Tesseract to Midgard—specifically, to the roof of the Tower of Stark. Thor’s mortal friends had, naturally, been waiting to greet him. When they saw that he was not alone, all reached for weapons and fell into battle-ready stances.
Some to greater effect than others. Stark, without his enchanted armor, failed to project an air of menace, and of the green berserker’s mortal form, the less said the better.
Loki smiled ferally, knowing that Thor, anxious as he was to think the best of his little brother, would insist it was a friendly gesture. The mortals interpreted it accurately, and the more formidable of them assumed even stronger stances. The little archer even drew an arrow from the quiver at his back.
Emboldened by the evidence that someone in the Nine Realms still considered him a formidable foe, Loki made a gesture that, in happier times, would have resulted in a damaging bolt of magical energy. The archer drew back his bowstring, and the female assassin shifted her weight forward, poised to follow her companion’s arrow with a body blow.
Naturally, things being as they were, it was an empty gesture. The others relaxed slightly—though Barton and Romanoff remained wary—and Stark asked his question.
“It was not safe to leave my brother behind in Asgard, unguarded,” Thor explained.
Well. It had been nice while it lasted.
“And you think it’s safer to have him here?” Stark demanded.
“Safe for him,” Thor explained. “In punishment for his crimes, our father has shorn him of his magic and his silver tongue. There are many on Asgard who would do him harm while he is defenseless.”
Explained out loud, it actually sounded worse than Loki had thought it would.
“Not exactly any different here,” Barton remarked, releasing some of the tension on his bowstring.
“I know he has wronged many on this realm as well, but since access to the Tower is restricted, he will be safe here,” Thor said. “I know that none of my friends will harm him.”
Loki had his doubts about that, but no one was asking him.
Banner spoke up from the back of the group. “Can we back up a minute? Your father actually cut out his tongue?”
Loki had no idea why he sounded so horrified. He was sure he had read of humans mutilating their criminals.
“No,” Thor said. “Fortunately, it was not necessary. The All-father bound his speech, so that he is compelled to speak the truth, and that only when he is asked.”
Initially, Odin’s geas had only prevented him from lying; the second provision had been added when it became clear that Loki could cause plenty of discord by speaking only carefully-selected truths. He wished now that he had refrained from revealing that particular loophole while on Asgard—he could surely have used it to much greater effect here.
“Oh,” Banner said. “Well, I suppose that’s better.”
“And you’re sure he can’t use his magic?” Stark asked.
“Yes, I am sure,” Thor said patiently. Apparently, he would even permit these mortals to question the might of Odin. Since there was no way Loki could use this disloyalty to his advantage—he couldn’t even tell anyone about it unless they thought to ask—he chose to be disgusted by it.
“All right,” Stark said. “In that case, the cells in the sub-basement should hold him.”
“No!” Thor exclaimed. “I will not have my brother caged like an animal.”
The mortals exchanged looks of confusion. “They’re not bad, as cells go,” Banner said. “I’ve locked myself in there a couple of times, when I thought I was going to hulk out. We’ll make sure he has everything he needs, and you can check on him whenever you want.”
“That is not the point,” Thor rumbled. “Loki has faced justice for his crimes, and he poses no threat. It would be unjust to confine him.”
“You just let him wander around on Asgard?” Barton demanded.
“Yes,” Thor said, sounding confused. Loki would have enjoyed his confusion more if he had not been similarly unsure why Barton seemed so skeptical. “Though we soon found that it was unwise for him to leave our quarters without my protection. There are many who resent him and are pleased to see him brought low.”
Captain Rogers spoke up. “I think I see Thor’s point.”
The others turned to him.
“We agreed to extradite Loki to Asgard for trial. They tried him, and imprisonment wasn’t part of his sentence. We don’t have any right to lock him up, unless he does something else.”
“He cannot,” Thor insisted. “Loki has always been a weak fighter; his magic and his words are his only weapons. Without them, he poses no danger to this realm or to yourselves.”
“I’m still not comfortable giving him the run of the place,” Stark answered.
“You are within your rights to require him to return to Asgard,” Thor said. “But if you do, I will have to accompany him.”
For a moment, Loki dared to hope that his mere presence would serve to break Thor’s ties to his mortal friends, despite the fact that he had not spoken a single word. But then Rogers said, “I don’t think we have much choice, guys. As long as he stays in the Tower where we can all keep an eye on him, he can’t cause much trouble. And if he leaves, somebody’s bound to recognize him. I’m sure Loki’s smart enough to realize that won’t end well for him.”
Rogers looked at him as if expecting a response, but since it wasn’t a question, Loki was neither able nor compelled to answer verbally. Technically, he could have nodded, but the geas didn’t require him to do that, either. Instead, he raised his chin slightly.
“What about when we aren’t here to keep an eye on him?” Romanoff pointed out practically. “We can’t leave him to his own devices when we go on missions.”
That was a question, and since it was not explicitly directed at anyone in particular, the curse permitted Loki to pretend he was meant to answer it. “I could give you my word that I will not, as they say, ‘try anything.’”
It looked like several of them might fall for it, until Banner asked, “Does the geas actually work that way? If he says he won’t do anything, does that mean he won’t be able to?”
“Unfortunately, no,” Thor said with a sigh. “If asked, he must reveal any mischief that he has planned, but he has proven himself able to evade that restriction by acting without prior planning.”
Loki wished he hadn’t revealed that loophole, either.
“Okay,” Roger said. “What if we put him in a cell only when we’re on missions? I think that’s the best we can do, Thor,” he added, sounding genuinely sorry. “For everyone’s safety.”
Thor sighed, looking over at Loki. “I accept your terms. I am sorry, brother, but my friends are right; you cannot be trusted when none of us are watching.”
That was, perhaps, the nicest thing Thor had said to him since this mess started.
Stark added, “I’ll be updating the security protocols to restrict him from some parts of the Tower—the R&D levels, the armory--”
“My quarters,” Romanoff added.
“Anyone’s quarters who asks me to,” Stark agreed. “That’s non-negotiable, Thor. This is my house, and my place of business. There are parts of it I can’t have crazed megalomaniacs traipsing through, no matter whose brother they are.”
Really, if they didn’t stop complimenting him, Loki might blush.