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The End of Infinity

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Earth-200004: October 2016

 

Peter crept back into his room as soon as he’d seen May disappear behind the door of her own suite, his sock-clad feet silent on the tile floor.

“Mr. Loki?” he whispered, peeking into the room.

When there was no answer, Peter frowned and slipped around the door frame as quietly as he could. Letting his eyes adjust, he scanned the nooks and crannies of the area.

It wasn’t hard to spot the god. Loki was sprawled on the windowsill, one leg dangling into the room, with one hand curled around his head and the other laying across his stomach. There was an eerie sort of glow illuminating the fingers of the latter limb, green and ghostly, and a bit of paper peeked out against the leather and pale skin.

And he was snoring, purring almost.

Peter felt a whisper of a smile dust his face, and didn’t bother to try to turn it into something more appropriate. The trickster god looked like an overwhelmed house-cat, beaten and filthy but ever graceful as he slept off an unknown brawl.

Unknown.

What in all hell was going on here? He needed Loki awake, awake and talking, describing whatever crazy situation Peter had gotten himself into this time.

Whatever crazy situation was keeping Spider-Man from doing his job. Peter’d had to hear about the impossibly fast and efficient chain of ATM robberies—starting on the street he’d found Loki —on the news.

People were already asking where Spider-Man had been. Well, Spider-Man would love to know that, too, and what… well, and what was going on. He had hours of the night still left—school was far less important than a time-traveling god in his apartment window, and sleep didn’t even make it on the table. Loki and he could work through the god’s story and get the knots untied before Peter decided what to do next.

But as Peter cast his eyes back to Loki, they fell not on the mystery in his hand, but on the bruises on his face, the grime on his clothes, the tense expression remaining even in sleep. Loki looked bone-weary—no, he looked absolutely ravaged.

“Fuck…” Peter sighed. “I suppose saving the world can wait.”

Reaching up to the top bunk of his bed, Peter found his fuzziest blanket, pulling it awkwardly through the wooden slats. Careful not to move too quickly, he unfolded the thing and padded over to Loki.

Gripping it by its corners and preparing to spread it over the god, Peter’s eyes caught on that green light again. Nervous of alerting Loki, Peter didn’t get too close, but he leaned forward slightly to peer at what he was holding.

Well, what he was cradling in his grip.

Because he wasn’t really holding it. There was a jewel, glowing with a light and a power that made Peter’s eyes nearly burn, floating a centimeter above the god’s skin, whispering with a voice that grated at Peter’s consciousness.

You don’t belong here.

“Woah,” Peter murmured. “What is that? An… Infinity Stone?”

He could see where the name came from. Ultimate, eternal, unquantifiable energy pulsed from the gem; Peter couldn’t sense it, but he knew it was there.

It took some effort to turn his gaze away from the Stone, but Peter noticed the slip of crinkled paper beneath it, too. It was folded so he couldn’t read the words, and his fingers itched to ease it out of Loki’s grip and investigate. But he didn’t want risk brushing against that Stone—he didn’t want to get close to that Stone.

So Peter took a couple of steps back, lifted the blanket, and spread it over Loki as evenly as he could.  

Almost imperceptibly, Loki wriggled further under it.

Peter snickered.

“Some big-bad villain you are. The God of Mischief—I’m so scared.”

Loki didn’t react: just shifted a bit under the lime green, puffy woolen blanket. The emerald glow peaked through the fabric. Making a face at the god’s unconscious form, Peter backed up to his desk and tapped his fingers on the painted surface.

It was when he went to get his things together for school the next day—on muscle memory, not necessarily because he thought he would be attending—that he realized he’d never gotten his backpack from the alley.

“Oh fuck,” he sighed, running his hands through his curls and flopping backwards onto his bed. “First the robberies, and now this? Loki, dude, you are decidedly inconvenient.”

He glanced back at the god on his windowsill. The blanket had darkened in some places with grime and what had to be blood—Peter wondered how much of it was Loki’s. Every visible inch of him was ratted and tangled and filthy...

“What happened to you?” Peter muttered, tapping his hands against the mattress beside him. What could possibly cut a god down to this?

He was pretty sure this wasn’t in Mr. Stark’s grey area...    

Thoughts whizzing, fingers tapping, blood almost pulsing with impatience, Peter forced himself to relax into his mattress. It won’t do anyone any good to fuss , he thought. Get some sleep, you’ll be better off tomorrow morning if you do.

And eventually, Peter was shocked to find himself truly exhausted. And eventually, he fell into an uneasy sleep.

That night, Peter dreamed of orange portals and a multicolored gauntlet on a slim, calloused hand.


 

“So, here’s the plan.”

Loki, now permitted a proper wheeling chair within the small spider’s room, watched the pacing boy with indifference. He flipped his knife by the blade, resisting— very well, may he say—the urge to bury it in some vermin off the street. Preferably of the taller, two-legged variety.

He’d awoken to the sun in his eyes that morning, taken off guard by the blanket that had found its way atop him. Said blanket had immediately gained four stab wounds before Loki had realized he was not being attacked.

A shame.

The spider-child had awoken that morning to Loki shredding the blanket into thin strips and weaving them into something that resembled a bag. He didn’t want to hold the Stone for a single moment longer than necessary—even if it meant sporting an ugly, lime-green, makeshift satchel.

“You know, I do have bags,” the boy had said, sighing as he took in the yarn carnage at Loki’s feet.

“You were asleep,” had been Loki’s reply, by way of explanation.

And now, the boy was laying out a plan of action for the proceeding day, which Loki was trying very hard not to completely tune out. Oh, he understood the importance of plans more than anyone, but as far as he could tell, no one was dying or going into battle or trying to take over the universe.

At least not yet.

“I’ll go out, loop around once I get in the subway, and come back in through the window,” Parker said, bouncing on the balls of his feet. Loki wondered if he ever stopped moving. “May will get a call at work that I’m skipping, but she won’t be able to come back until noon or so. That’s a good three hours before my ass is busted.”

Loki raised an eyebrow. “Skipping?”

“School. I’m supposed to go—if I don’t show up, they call my aunt and tell her. I’ll get in trouble with her, but it’s not a big deal.”

Loki thought of his experience with studies and mothers and shivered. “I believe you may be mistaken about that. And what about your friend?”

The spider-child frowned. “Ned? Shit, that’s true… He’ll be pissed too.” Sighing, he ran his hands through his already unruly curls and tugged on them slightly, and Loki could sense the frustration radiating off of him from across the room. “Well, either way, it’s our only option. I’m not leaving you here alone for seven hours, and you can’t come to school with me—”

Loki frowned. “Why not?”

The boy stared at him. “Because… Mr. Loki, everyone wants to kill you.”

“Would I be stupid enough to invade a location in my true form? Have some faith in my abilities, Spider.” Loki grinned, baring his teeth.

Then he reached into his core for the signature of his cells, concentrating on the energy crackling between them, within them. He knew the energy better than anything else in this universe, knew the way it built his structure and his life and his form. With the ease of a practiced master, Loki seized it. The magic twisted in his soul, around his fingers, and then—

A black and emerald serpent lay coiled on the seat of the wheeling chair.

“Holy fuck!” the spider-child yelped, stumbling backward over his own feet and catching himself with inhuman agility.

Loki hissed a laugh, letting his forked tongue play across his fangs.

It had been a while since he’d taken this form, and even longer since he’d retained it for a time. Exploratorily, he reared, engaging the superpowered muscles around his spine and feeling his thin vertebrae slide past each other. Craning over to look at his body, Loki curled his whip-thin tail and watched the mint-green diamonds shift across the scales.

Yes, this would do nicely.

“Thoughtsss?” he said, lifting his snout.

“Holy—oh my God..” The boy was stammering, and Loki turned to peer at him, expecting the usual mortal fear.

But there was nothing but delight—pure, unbridled delight—on the boy’s face as he watched Loki’s new body.

Loki drew back, just a bit, surprise sparking in his long form. And a warmth he would never admit.

“How are you doing that?” Peter demanded, kneeling before the chair. “How can you talk?”

“It’sss a mixxx of telepatthhy and ssselective anatomical changesss,” Loki said. He didn’t technically need the hiss, but it amused him, and if he used it exclusively he could fuck with Thor by not using it.

He’d never heard screams as ragged as those Thanos had wrenched from his brother.

Loki shook his head, flicking his tongue and forcing his attention back to the boy before him. “I can accompany you like thisss,” he explained, rearing a bit higher.

“What, do I just… carry you around?”

“Indeed.”

A mix of awe, resignation, and overwhelm twisted the boy’s face into a grimace, and Loki hissed another chuckle.

“Okay…” Peter said, still kneeling. Then, under his breath: “snake god in my shirt. Another new one.”

Loki, undeniably amused by this point, stretched himself over the edge of the chair to rest on Peter’s knee. The boy extended a nervous hand, and Loki threaded himself through the his fingers, enjoying the way his scales slipped and shifted. He was far too large to curl in Peter’s palm, but Loki paused in it for a moment. Then, flicking his tongue against the boy’s skin both to get used to his scent and to freak him out, Loki slithered under Peter’s cuff and up his arm.

“Hhhuuuuurrggggf,” Peter spluttered as Loki folded himself up his sleeve and peeked out through his collar. “This is not my area. This is so not my area…”

“You’ve never sssmuggled creaturesss into classsesss before?” Loki wondered, genuinely curious and slightly surprised.

“No?”

“Not even to get out of etiquette?”

The spider-boy shrugged, and Loki almost slipped from his shoulder. “We don’t have etiquette classes. At Midtown Science and Tech, at least.”

Loki flicked his tongue. Perhaps Midgard wasn’t as bad as he’d thought.

A buzz shuddered up Peter’s form, and Loki instantly tensed, ready to strike at the unseen threat. But the boy just reached carelessly into his pocket and pulled out his phone—Loki had to assume the vibration had come from it.

“Shit, Ned’s waiting outside. He’s expecting to walk with me; we always walk on Tuesdays.”

Loki looked back at the chair and hissed abruptly, “bag.”

“What?”
“Take the bag. The Ssstone is in it—we need to keep it with usss at all timesss,” he explained, starting to drop down the boy’s other sleeve.

“Oh—frick that tickles. Just gimme a second.” With cautious hands, Peter plucked up the makeshift satchel, holding it awkwardly between two fingers.

“It won’t hurt you,” Loki said. At least, I think it won’t.

“So I just… put it in my bag or something?”

“Sssure.” Just stick the most powerful object in the universe in a filthy backpack. A fine, foolproof plan. Loki rolled his serpentine eyes.

Peter stumbled from the room and entered a new one, which shone with white stone and silver metal and was scattered with wicked-looking devices. Loki figured it was probably a kitchen—he’d released as many ravens as he could find into the classroom on that day of Midgardian Culture. Which had only been five ravens, because Huginn and Muninn had been uncooperative.

Peter, still holding the Stone’s satchel, fumbled in one of the cabinets, removing a circular lump of bread and threading it over his finger—it had a hole in the middle. Loki cocked his head, wondering both at the function of the torus shape and why the usually agile boy was being so clumsy.

“Are you always this cold?” Peter muttered, making his way out of the kitchen.

“I’ll warm up with your body heat.” It was actually quite comfortable beneath the boy’s shirt, and the instincts of Loki’s new cold-blooded form had him laying claim to it.

“Fantastic. Just fantastic!” The spider-child murmured under his breath, then added again, “A snake god in my shirt.”

“I’m not the god of sssnakesss. I’m sssimply taking the form of one.”

“Nuance.”

Peter knelt next to a backpack, carefully maneuvering the smallest zipper-pocket open and dropping the satchel into it as quickly as he could. He stood, hooking the straps of the backpack over his wrist.

He said, “so, if this works, you can explain this whole time-travel ‘not-my-past-your-past thing’ while I'm at school and we can have whatever the fuck is going on figured out by third period, hopefully.”

“It may take longer,” Loki warned. “As I sssaid; long ssstory.”

Peter nodded and slung the backpack over his shoulders. It bounced, looking light, and Loki narrowed his eyes and focused on the grey and brown patterns of the device.

“That knapsack seemsss sussspiciously empty of mossst objectsss necessssary for ssstudies,” he pointed out, decreasing his hiss a little as to be a bit more understandable.

Peter blushed, and Loki could feel the heat change of his skin.

“Yeah, uh, well…”