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Within the mirror dimension Strange easily stretches hours of practice into minutes and even then Ulfr presses the constraints of time. For once he works with single-minded focus, gives the doctor a student eager to learn. He pushes the limits of his own abilities and, in some ways, the sorcerer’s. Every second is worked with an intensity that unsettles; something’s changed, something’s affected Ulfr’s determination, and Dr Strange cannot be sure if it’ll be for better or worse.

“I think we’ve covered more than enough for tonight,” Strange cancels out the latest spell, much to Ulfr’s annoyance as it finally begins to work.

“I want a Sling-Ring.”

“No.”

There’s a low growl from the blue beast. “If you want it, I’m trapped here. I don’t like it. You claim using the ring is a basic step in magic, one of the first you learned, and now you’re denying me those lessons?”

“You don’t need it to achieve our goals.”

Ulfr moves closer, attempts to intimidate as he looks down. “I’m not a fool, I know you’re not teaching me anything that puts you, others, at risk should I betray you.” He forces a deep breath as the mirror dimension shivers. “But if something happens to you, here or elsewhere, I’m stuck with no means to carry out the plan. Not without a ring.”

Fractals of Loki appear just outside the dimension, both men curse. “I’ll consider it,” Strange yields, panic touching his voice as Loki speaks to, reaches out for, Ulfr’s illusion still in the chair. “For now, you must return.”

The force of sudden extraction unsettles Ulfr’s usual demeanor, puts him on edge in his own body, and he attacks on instinct. Grabs by the throat, slams with ice-cracking and wall-crushing ferocity, as he growls between deep blue lips.

Loki’s mouth snaps free of Ulfr’s icy hand. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

He takes in the king’s Jotun appearance; red eyes and blue skin, ridges, contrasting black hair. It’s strange in its rarity to see Loki in his true form, even for him. Ulfr notes how the lines of his arm and hand seem to swallow up those on Loki’s throat and face. “Forgive me, my king.” Ulfr lets go, they both slip back to human form. “You startled me. Was there something you needed?”

Loki came in ready to rant, to take out terror and rage on his second-in-command, but the sudden aggression throws him. All the anger and fear shifts, twists into something far more dangerously calculated. “I’ve been thinking on the new girl.”

"Hm?"

"The bold one."

“Mmm…”

“Would you like her?”

“What do you mean?” There’s traps abound, Ulfr’s not answering until he’s sure.

“You know what I mean. I saw you looking at her, watching her on hands and knees before me. You wished it was you, yes?”

“I’d kill her.”

The smirk grows as Loki straightens, steps up until Ulfr steps back. “Since when has that stopped you in the past?” Eyes turn predatory, approach continues. “In fact, if I’d hazard a guess, it’s part of the pleasure for you, isn’t it? Pushing them, yourself, farther and farther until the inevitable happens? Until they break apart in your hands, around your cock.”

Ulfr reveals only a hint of wariness; he blocks the god from his thoughts, but not so much Loki sees it as an increase in abilities.

“How far do you think you can get with that bold little bitch you want so much?” Loki grins, finally starting to feel his new self - powerful, in control, a true king - once again. “Unless your feelings are more romantic than desirous…is that it, Ulfr? Is it love?”

Another step forward from the king and calves hit the chair.

“No matter. If you don’t wish to have her, that’s fine. It was merely an offer, a show of appreciation for all you do.” Loki blows a chuckle in Ulfr’s face. “I’m sure the rest of the men will enjoy her, she’s hardly been used after all.”

“You’ve barely tried -” Ulfr cuts himself off.

The god ticks head, arches brows. “She’s mine to have and give as I choose.”

There’s no clear way out. Anything Ulfr does is going to lead to some kind of failure, someone’s pain. He contemplates the least abhorrent option. “True, your majesty, but…” he spreads a smile. “What would others think, you unable to cow one little Midgardian thrall? It doesn’t look good, people might lose faith in you.”

They both know who Ulfr’s referring to, though neither will say the name. Loki cannot bear to say it, can hardly bear to think it, and Ulfr knows he doesn’t need to. Thanos is there, always, even when he’s not.

“You’ve a valid point, Ulfr.” Loki smiles back. “We’ll break her, properly, tomorrow….or kill her, whichever comes first.”

“We?”

“Of course. You’ve been such a great help to me thus far, why wouldn’t you continue to be…You do wish to help your king, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” Loki goes to turn away, before pausing and turning back. “One more thing, Ulfr.”

“Yes?”

His hand flies up, grips Ulfr’s throat and yanks him almost to his knees. “You touch me like that again, you touch me in public, I will cut off those Jotun hands of yours and use them as a new mantelpiece to rest my scepter upon.” Another harsh tug and Ulfr’s kneeling. “Understood?”

“Yes, my king.”

“Good.” Loki forces himself into human form, though keeps his own brutal cold as he squeezes. “Now I suggest you practice controlling yourself or I’m sure tomorrow may well be the first and last time you touch that dear girl of yours.”

Ulfr nods, head still down, even after Loki releases him. He thinks of all the things he wants to do. Crush Loki’s throat, slam his head until brains splatter, throw him out the window. Make the false king weak and wailing and begging mercies. Ulfr’s mercies. He shakes in the thrill and bottled up rage of it.

At the door Loki suddenly stops, turns. “…Why were you sleeping in your chair?”

“I was trying to work on my body heat.” Ulfr glances up, gives a sheepish smile. “…But I guess I dozed off.”

Loki nods, takes in the thick layers of ice that surround them, and muses. “That poor girl, I pity her already.”

The moment he’s alone Ulfr stands, laser-focus on where Loki last stood. His jaw clenches. The walls and ceiling grow slick, drip wet, as a puddle forms under Ulfr’s feet. Held breath releases in a growling-grunt as fists ball and fissures pop apart the glacier room.