Step 1 was a coffee. After watching her movements for many weeks, Loki concluded Black Widow was sent to retrieve meals noticeably more often than the rest of the team. Specifically, the owner of the new avengers' headquarters, Tony Stark, seemed to leave the tower on a snack run only once every two months. If all went according to plan, Loki would be able to discover the rationale in person.
The alien was perched on the second floor of a bistro frequented by the affluent. Wearing a tailored, light-coloured suit, none of the patrons seemed to pay him any mind. Nor was he interested in them. Yet. Eventually, of course, they and the rest of the human race would bow to him. For now he was focused on the only female Avenger.
Black Widow entered a shawarma restaurant easily within view of the balcony where Loki was musing. She spent about five minutes inside despite the busy interior. He stepped back from the railing for the stairs to the street below, positioning himself outside the entrance to the fast food restaurant. When she emerged quickly and walked straight into him, he caught her bag while she easily righted herself.
Natasha, upon seeing the besuited man, blanked her face automatically.
"My apologies, that was entirely my fault," Loki began. "Would you be amenable to a coffee in recompense?" His enigmatic smile drew curious looks from passersby without much effort.
"If I take that back, will it now have a bomb inside?" she asked bluntly.
He laughed, "Oh, to have found me out quickly! You wound me, woman, that you think I would attack with so base a plot." He shook his head, handing back the bag. "No, I have not. Coffee?"
Natasha narrowed her eyes before coming to a decision. "Fine. No weapons, and you talk quickly or I shoot." He had no doubt she had a weapon somewhere in her black jacket; fortunately, none were immediately apparent on the rest of her usual garb.
Loki heaved a pained sigh. "No weapons for me, then, would be more precise."
"That shop over there, five minutes. I'm gonna take this back." He raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
There was quite a high risk Black Widow would return in the company of her fellow avengers. Loki balanced this troublesome thought with the modicum of trust he might gain for continuing with the meeting despite this. She was swift to return, which was fortunate as some of the staff were giving him unpleasant looks for not ordering anything. Not that he had been timing, but Natasha seemed to appear almost exactly when she said she would. He did note the subtle addition of colourful makeup; her curly hair seemed tamer as well.
Natasha noted aloud the lack of coffee on the table.
"Ah yes. I realized upon arrival I was unaware of your preference. What would you like, my lady?"
"God, I've gone from 'woman' to 'my lady' in five minutes flat. Makeup must really do it for you," she replied. "Caramel macchiato, if you would, thanks." After eyeing a teenaged couple now finished with their drinks hovering around the comfortable sofas, they quickly made room for her to sit and retreated.
Loki conjured local Midgard money inside his pocket and managed to both confuse and intimidate all three baristas behind the counter before acquiring the macchiato and a hot chocolate for himself. ("Hey, where's your accent from? We usually hear all kinds, but yours is pretty cool!" "It is none of your concern. What should be your concern is the drinks I ordered.") He also bought a packet of small caramel waffles on impulse. On another, more childish, impulse he half tried to sneak up on the trained and experienced assassin looking out the window.
"Not your strong point, Loki. Did the barista really deserve to be called a 'slow-witted mule'?" she interrupted his thoughts without looking, then turned and took the proffered coffee.
"Perhaps I might have been more forgiving were I not forced to repeat my order. The comment on my origins was entirely unnecessary." He picked up his hot chocolate and took a sip.
She rubbed her forehead. "What do you want? I don't bump into murderers by accident."
"Right to business, I had hoped we would chat for a while longer." Loki leant his head on his hand not quite dolefully. The juvenile expression contrasted with the expensive-looking suit.
She smiled, "One could say you ruined that idea after calling me, what was it...? A 'mewling quim'."
"Oh my dear, you're still holding that against me? I was under duress - all alone in a strange ship - and you were not even that upset anyway. As you would say, I gave you what you needed. However you made me reveal myself... it worked out in your favour, did it not?"
"Interesting. Maybe if you'd given up earlier, you might not have had that embarrassing incident."
He blinked several times before looking away and changing the subject. "Although, you are right. This is business and I have more information that you want. I assume we are being recorded?"
"Of course," the redhead replied, taking a sip of her macchiato.
"Very well. There is one condition, however, before I begin. This new enemy is unaware that I have been listening to their meetings, and there's a certain risk to doing so on my part."
"You want protection?" She narrowed her eyes.
"Possibly. I would much rather not be detected in the first place, but should it come to that, then yes. It would be most appreciated. I may be able to defend myself in most cases, but everyone has their limits." He took a swig of his hot chocolate to pause.
Natasha giggled, a sound that unnerved him more than knowing what she could do in battle. "Who on Earth is it that has Loki running scared?" She looked for all the world to utterly disbelieve everything he had said. He felt she could have chosen better phrasing.
He cleared his throat and began, "The Chitauri needed a leader; they needed me. Those who would attack this time can govern themselves. They are known as the Kybant, and they are not of this solar system. You need not know the details, but they are vicious and clever." He glanced up to see if she was intrigued and he was not disappointed. Her normal mask of indifference was slightly cracked by her leaning forward and focusing intently on him. Perfect.
"Recently, I acquired information that their planet had received a signal, from Earth. Their home is not dead yet, but it is dying. I know that various groups among the Kybant plan to take what they need. I know not what means they would use to come here, but be sure that they mean to. And they mean you no peace." He leant back and drank more.
The second he stopped, Natasha disengaged. "That's it?" she frowned and held her hand open.
Loki gestured to the surrounding patrons, and said, "I could go on about the," he coughed and raised his voice slightly, "extraterrestrial weapons they have." Given the noisy environment, not many people noticed or cared, but a few heads turned. "I propose a ceasefire. I could escape, if Thor chose to bring me to Asgard yet again, but it would be more... constructive if we could ignore our history for now, until we could eliminate this new threat."
"Today is the day of surprises. You would deign to help us mere mortals?"
"I cannot rule a planet of no one but myself."
"Somehow, I think you of all people would find a way." She smiled wryly. When he sat in unimpressed silence, she said, "Fine. Are you going to come in peacefully or will I have to persuade you?"
"Peacefully. But I look forward to being persuaded next time." He smiled once more, and neither was quite sure if it was genuine.