I originally posted this in separate chapters, but now that the whole thing is concluded, I'm just going to combine them all below.
Chapter 1: Tony
Chapter 2: Natasha
Does Loki go bartend in the dark in Vegas twice? Or is this one of those gods-time-fuzzy things?
Loki on the plane is one of my favorite parts of this whole thing. He is laughing at them SO HARD the entire time and it's completely obvious to everyone *despite the fact he never cracks a smile*. No wait, he does one time. At the joke about the ice. Which, incidentally, is at his own expense.
Astolat's Loki is a lot nicer than the one in the movie, I tell you what.
Chapter 3: Steve
Chapter 4: Loki
Oh, the angst.
Chapter 5: Bruce
Chapter 6: Hulk
Or, the reason I almost never took on this project to begin with. I mean, it's a very funny chapter textually. But reading a whole chapter aloud in the Hulk's voice?
Chapter 7: Clint
Lady Sif, living in clip.
Chapter 8: Steve
Not that their stories are the same. But Peggy in this chapter always makes me think of Chris Pureka's "Swann Song", which is the song Chris wrote for her grandmother, Margaret Swann.
Chapter 9: Loki
There's no pleasing them!
Chapter 10: Thor
OMG MAYBE THERE IS FINALLY A TINY BIT OF THOR/LOKI IN THIS ONE IF YOU LOOK REALLY HARD AND KIND OF CLOSE ONE EYE AND no I am just kidding myself, aren't I.
Chapter 11: Bruce
Astolat says in her notes to Chapter 11 that she had to rewrite the chapter to be in Bruce's POV - and that's absolutely right. See, the Hulk is the Big Bad. He's the scariest thing out there. He is demonstrably scarier than actual gods. And in the movies, that comes across great, because he's mean and loud and takes up 3/4 of the screen. But in text...he sounds like a three year old. And while the idea of a three year old mind with the power of the Hulk is terrifying...when you're reading it, or listening to it, it just doesn't come across viscerally. Especially since I can't give my voice the power of Hulk lungs.
So you have to see this scene from Bruce's point of view, since Bruce is the one who knows, all through his soul, what a horror the Hulk is. Bruce is the one who's been so traumatized by the Hulk that his reaction even when he thinks the Hulk is gone isn't "finally, I can live my life" but "finally, I can die." Only Bruce can show you how scary this is.
Chapter 12: Clint
Oh, Loki. First you accuse Steve of nearly stranding everyone by asking too many questions; then Laufey shows up all yo, son, can I clear any little thing up for you? and you fail the marshmallow test harder than anyone has ever failed it before. Now, despite the conversation with Bruce at the end of Chapter 5, and despite every monologue you have ever monologued in this story, and despite the whole ice giant, y'know, thing…sure, baby. You tell Sif she's the one with gender issues and the frustration from dangling after Thor's attention. Ice-cold insights there, kid. Cold burn.
Chapter 13: Tony
1) The line that really kills me in this one is Natasha all calm going "There are a lot of ways to get memories back." Like brainwashing and memory theft is just a thing you gotta expect, there's lots of ways to cope with it, keep calm. Oh, Natalia. What has been done to your life?
2) Although "your highly convincing rodeo of bullshit and murder" is a very close second.
3) I almost don't believe it, but after 12 chapters, there's finally a little slash in this one! I swear, I wouldn't lie to you.
Chapter 14: Natasha
Chapter 15: Thor
Chapter 16: Finale
Chapter 17: Epilogue
I read these stories in part to figure out why these particular stories are the ones I want to read. You learn so much from reading a story aloud, and even more from editing it. I wish I had the time to record the story and then edit it twice through: I could do such a better job now with the timing of Loki's slow disintegration, the escalating madness. And yeah, this story drew me with the indulgent me-catnip of being pornographic, not so much about its sex, but about its emotions; mm, yes, come here and let Loki fill you up with his dripping hot angst. But also it is kidfic, and a particular kind of kidfic. It is a story, though this is not in the warnings, about facing the terror of losing your child to death.
And also the betrayal of losing your child to adulthood.
I hope it is even half as enjoyable to hear as it was to read. Thanks for listening.