I never used to have any interest in participating in fic exchanges/challenges, but I’ve been wanting to expand my writing horizons, and these events looked like fun and interesting things to do.
So when “Avengers Fest 2015” was announced I signed up and indicated what characters I would (and would not) write and what tropes I would not do.
I was sent a list of prompts from Heeroluva, and she listed her favorite characters as Thor, Loki, Steve, Bucky. She also had a long list of very interesting prompts. I came up with ideas for a few of them, but the one that ate my brain was “The Jotun (Loki at their head) save Earth from the Chitauri.” I wondered just how I could make that work. When I woke up the next morning the idea was there, pretty much fully developed, in my head. Thank you, subconscious.
I’ve read some excellent Steve/Loki stories (recs at the end of this post) and I knew immediately it was going to be a Steve/Loki story.
(…and just how many portmanteaus does this pairing have? I’ve run across american frost, caploki, frostcap, FrostedAmerica, frostshield, frostsoldier, SheildFrost, and Stoki…).
Even though I’m sure it’s been done a zillion times I wanted to explore how utterly different life is for Steve Rogers in the 21st century (because I’ve always loved “fish out of water” stories, particularly time travel ones.)
While working on the story I ran across some meta about how the neighborhood Steve supposedly lived in in the 30s was in actuality one of the gay neighborhoods in pre-war New York.
I also used as background headcanon some of my admittedly fuzzy memories of stories told to me by an elderly gay relative who passed away several years ago. He was born in 1920 and I remember hearing him talking about gay life in the WWII years. (I only wish I remembered more of what he said.)
While are plenty of interpretations of how Steve might deal with gay sexuality , I figured given the composition of his neighborhood, his art student experience, and his feelings about injustice and bullying, given the chance he would be open to exploring relationships with men.
I also wanted to include details about how much NYC has changed over the last decades. I chose to have Steve remember seeing the Empire State Building being constructed as well as remembering the “Hoovervilles” (homeless encampments) in Central Park during the Depression. My beta, Muriel_Perun, gave me some invaluable research on “New York then and now” – particularly about the old “smokestack industries” which caused a phenomenal amount of pollution, and the way neighborhoods changed completely over the decades.
I used as “background color” some of my own family history. My mother, who was born around the same time Steve Rogers was supposedly born, had quite a collection of 78 rpm records (though she was more of a Bing Crosby rather than an Ella Fitzgerald fan). My father had rheumatic fever as a child and because of that he was stamped 4F, though he worked as a chaplain in a naval hospital during the war years. My mother listened to the infamous broadcast of “The War of the Worlds”, though there was no panic at all in her area – it was a scheduled program and most people were apparently aware of that. My mother also had a small collection of early 19th/20th century science fiction books.
So, now I have Steve’s background in my head. What about Loki? The easiest thing to do is to go with the AU “Always a Jotunn” trope, but I wanted canon divergence instead. I always like stories in which one single action changes an entire universe. I decided that diverging from canon by having Heimdall not permit Sif and the W3 to join Thor on earth and instead imprison them for treason would be enough to send Loki off in an entirely different direction.
One of my main problems was, I had too much plot to include and not enough time, given the challenge deadline, to write it all. So I chose to do a prologue and an epilogue in “myth style” – a choice which, given the feedback I’ve gotten, worked just fine.
And, smile, this photo saved me the trouble of researching the height difference between Hiddleston and Evans, always important to know for kissing scenes:
I used some dialogue from the original script for “Thor”, in which Laufey acknowledges Loki as his “bastard son”. They chose to change that in the movie, but I decided that dialogue was perfect for my story.
Here’s a quote from the “myth” portion:
Below him, he knew, lay the broken remains of a Midgardian airship. And inside it…
He slipped through the ice as easily as he slipped between realms. He passed through the broken metal skin of the tomb as if it were not there, and at last came upon what he had not realized he sought.
A warrior lay in repose, easily taken for dead for there was no breath in him. With him was a great circular shield, of red and white and blue, with a five-pointed star at its very center.
Loki looked upon the warrior, upon the pale hair and ice-white skin, of the finely cut features visible though the rime of ice which covered him like a shroud, and saw his beauty and knew his valor.
And from the non-myth portion:
So he said it, wondering at himself even as the words left his mouth. “Are you busy this afternoon?”
Mr. Friggajarson – what kind of name was that anyway? Scandinavian? He hadn’t actually said he was from Norway. Mr. Friggajarson’s lips curved up, showing teeth. He extended his hand so that long fingers almost – but not quite – brushed Steve’s hand, leaving a fraction of an inch of scuffed table between them. “No,” he said. “I am not.”
“Then…” Steve was sure he was beet red – and suddenly remembered his mother’s warnings about ‘strange men’.
But Steve had known for a long time he was a ‘strange man’. And maybe now was the time to finally find out what that meant. He had never – not before the serum. And not after. After, there was too much to do without doing things he shouldn’t. And before – who would have wanted him?
And what could happen anyway? Even if Mr. Friggajarson – Loki – wasn’t what he seemed; even if this was some kind of robbery or con or planned violence – he was Captain America, after all.
Steve/Loki stories recs: Here are two of my favorites:
A Place to Put My Heartache (Across Six Christmases) by BigSciencyBrain
Summary: Steve's still trying to find his place in this world. Accidentally saving Loki's life doesn't help. But maybe there's a place for both of them, together.
The “Remember This Cold” series by Lise:
The series where Loki and Steve Rogers start orbiting each other, and it gradually turns into a thing, and then into another kind of thing. Or, the author's long and complicated method of making Steve/Loki make sense as a pairing, and then exploring how it would work.