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Why is there a second Loki?

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To say it had been a bad day was pretty much an understatement. Let’s take stock: Loki’s gone. Bruce and Thor are in the winds. Natasha is hovering over a comatose Barton. Phil Coulson died trying to stop Loki’s escape. And Tony is left having a pity party with Captain America himself after Fury chewed them out.

So, Tony wasn’t even surprised when a gold portal opens and out stumbles Loki, dressed like an office worker in an all-brown ensemble which only looks good because he’s actually a god. But rather than looking like he came to gloat or cause problems, he looked like he’s dressed to take out a bad guy in an action movie, what with the rolled-up sleeves and the holster with some long knives strapped to his back.

He also adopted a deer in headlights look as soon as he sees them.

“What, came back to gloat?” Tony asked, reaching to grab one of the arm pieces of his totally busted suit. Better to have a busted weapon than no weapon. Steve’s on his feet and so is Tony, but Tony did not like their odds.

That’s when someone else stumbles out of the golden portal, which closes behind him. This guy’s office look was so mundane that it made Loki look like he stumbled out of some type of accountant porn. The stranger was a middle-aged guy with grey hair and a moustache, in a suit who also looked very human.

“So, bad news Loki. The portal function on the TemPad is fried. We’re going to be stuck wherever we are until I can fix it.”

“Mobius,” Loki said shortly.

This ‘Mobius’ looked up, taking in the sight of Steve and him with their weapons. His expression morphed into a warm, friendly smile.

“Oh man, I’ve never met any of the Avengers before,” Mobius said cheerfully. “Sorry for the interruption. We’ll be out of your hair as fast as we can. Our ride’s just a tiny bit busted, but no worries.”

“Darling, please read the room.” Loki’s voice sounded strained. Darling? Was Loki into flirting as well as lying to get his way? Tony wouldn’t put it past him.

Mobius’s eyes returned to him and Cap again, finally settling on Cap’s chest, where that big dumb star was. Realization crossed his face. “Oh! We’re in the middle of your world take over attempt. Bad timing, that.”

The look Loki gave Mobius screamed ‘you think?’. Tony was feeling pretty close to the same way at that moment.

“What’s going on here?” Cap demanded, putting on his whole officer in charge attitude.

“Right, so,” Loki started, spreading his arms wide like that’s somehow non-threatening. “Mobius and I are from a different universe. I’m not the Loki you’re looking for. That Loki should probably be at Stark Tower by now.”

“Son of a bitch,” Tony growled. Of course that narcissistic asshole would go there. That’s what Tony would do anyway.

“So, we’ll get out of your way so you can get back to the whole pummeling me into the ground as saving the world thing.” Loki looked ready to spin around on his heel and try to leave, but Mobius caughts his arm, tucking it into his own elbow so Loki couldn’t just escape. Well, escape if he was a normal human anyway.

“Love, come on. We can help,” Mobius said.

“Help? I really don’t think anyone’s going to trust me here.”

“Well, I trust you,” Mobius said, his tone soothing like a counselor. Loki looked at him for a moment before the tension in his shoulders dropped. “Besides, I bet Tony Stark and Bruce Banner can help me fix the TemPad a lot faster than me fiddling with it. And we do want to go find the girls, right?”

“Okay,” Loki said.

“I’m sorry, but who are you, Sir?” Steve asks, his words not quite as biting as before.

“I’m Mobius M. Mobius, at your service. I’m also Loki’s boyfriend.” He said it with cheer and a big smile, but Loki’s turned so red that Tony expected steam to come out his ears.

Tony flicked his eyes to Steve, wondering if he’s going to get blustery about a couple of gays. Given the way Steve is looking back at him, Tony would guess Steve might have been wondering the same thing about him. Tony quickly returned his eyes to Loki and decided not to think about that exchange of looks ever again.

“Let’s say we do believe you, what then?” Steve asked.

“Well, Loki here has already lived all this, and I’ve probably watched this part in the timeline like a thousand times, so we can give you information and maybe make things easier,” Mobius said.

“And we should trust either of you, because…?” Tony started.

“Because we aren’t lying. My original timeline wasn’t that different from this one. I just happened to grab the Tesseract and ran off after I’d already been beaten, which was apparently not supposed to happen, but that’s a story for a different day.”

“Say we believe you, why would we believe you wouldn’t be after the Tesseract too?” Steve asked.

Loki’s gaze turned dark. “It’s junk really, compared to this busted this gadget in Mobius’s pocket. It’s not going to do me any good. Nor am I interested at this point.”

“And what are you interested in?” Tony asked.

“Finding one of my friends. She’s another variant of me, but she’s so much better.” The darkness left his eyes, replaced with the expression of a man who loved deeply.

“We’ll get back to them soon. This will just be a fun detour. Maybe you can see your family before we go,” Mobius said.
Loki turned and looked at Mobius with a naked want, hope and fear. Both Tony and Steve lowered their weapons. This Loki wasn’t like the sarcastic, strutting peacock they’d been fighting. This Loki almost seemed like an adult.

“What can you tell us?” Steve asked.

“So, you lot are all going to gather in New York, while my variant is causing mayhem,” Loki said. “When your Hulk arrives, send him directly at my variant. It’s the fastest way to knock him down.”

“That’s it?” Tony asked.

“Of course not. Loki’s gonna open a portal to Thanos’s flesh-robot army. There’s an infinity stone in the Tesseract. Don’t ask what those are, you’ll find out eventually. All you need to know is they’re powerful and dangerous and there’s another one in Loki’s scepter, so that will be able to break the portal and force field your Loki’s built,” Mobius said.

“Our Loki?” Tony found himself asking.

“Yeah, this is my Loki,” Mobius laced fingers with the Loki standing next to him. “Your Loki is at Stark Tower about to open a portal to outer space. It’s just easier to think of them like that.”

“Alright, what else can to you tell us?” Steve asked, neatly stepping on any retort Tony planned to give.

“At some point, your Council is going to order a nuke to wipe out New York.” Tony felt Steve stiffen next to him. That’s not what you want to hear. “If Tony Stark will fly it through the portal, aimed at the Chitauri ship, it’ll blow that up and all the flesh-robots here will die instantly. Easy Peasy.”

“I think our definitions of easy peasy are a bit different,” Tony said.

“Well, we’ll be there to help you. It’ll get done much faster that way. Then you can help us with the TemPad and we can go find our ladies.” It sounded easy when Mobius said it, but Tony was smart enough to know it would be hell to go through.

He exchanged a look with Steve and gave one short nod.

“Alright,” Steve said. “Let’s round up the rest of the team. Stark, you tell Fury the plan and I’ll see whoever I can round up for this fight.”

Clint had had better days. It was definitely better than earlier in the day, since he wasn’t under mind control anymore. But its was instantly worse when he found out that they were taking a supposed “Loki variant” with them. Steve Rogers seemed really convinced and Stark had already headed back to New York. Apparently, Loki’s friend Mobius had given them and Fury a whole breakdown of what was going to happen and how to fight the things coming through the giant wormhole. Fury approved of this new Loki, which should have calmed Clint’s nerves. After all, Fury was probably the most paranoid man in the world and if he thought taking Loki into battle against Loki was a good idea, then it probably was.

But Clint didn’t feel better. What he wanted to do was break Loki’s teeth in. They were sitting on the same side of the plane because Natasha was flying and Clint couldn’t stand to look at Loki. He also had Mobius between him and Loki and Mobius just seemed like a totally normal human. But Mobius knew way more than a normal human would. Also, Loki trailed after him like a duckling. It was just too weird to comprehend.

“You’re certain Thor and Banner will be there?” Steve asked.

“I promise. For whatever that’s worth,” Loki said, his voice tinged with self-deprecating humor. “My brother’s not going to miss a chance to fight me, and Banner’s not a coward. They’ll be there.”

“You’re certain Banner can take you down?” Steve asked, like they weren’t about five minutes from New York anyway.

“Intimately,” Loki said dryly.

“Clint, I’m gonna need you up here!” Natasha called. Clint quickly pushed himself up and into the cockpit.

“What’s the problem?” Clint asked.

“You know the usual: giant blue wormholes in the sky,” she said conversationally. “I need you to take the wheel.”

“Gladly,” Clint said. It was better to have something to do with his hands anyway, especially once things started dropping out of the sky.

“You there, Stark?” Natasha asked over their comms. “You’re seeing this right?”

“Oh, I’m seeing it,” Tony said. “A little help.”

“With pleasure,” Natasha said before beginning to shoot down as many of the crawly alien bastards as possible.

Clint didn’t even have time to think after that, what with the trying to not hit buildings thing, and the trying to not get everyone killed crashing into the ground thing. He literally forgot Loki was onboard until they were all heading out of the now broken ship.

“Look familiar?” Mobius joked.

“No exactly, but I never got lower than the tower until after the fight,” Loki said.

Near them a bus had a head on collision with a broken car.

“I’m going ahead, try to evacuate civilians!” Steve called, taking off at a sprint through the hoards for aliens.

“Come on,” Loki said, pulling a set of long knives off his back, stepping up toward the aliens. He cut through the one that came closest to him. Natasha started shooting aliens. They had a handle on the aliens, and the bus could catch fire any minute.

Mobius seemed to have the same thought because he was also running toward the bus. He started helping people out of the windows while Clint pried the doors open. Almost everyone was injured, but those who were less injured were helping those who weren’t.

Right now, getting people off the streets and out of the way was most important. That was also something that Mobius seemed to be good at, which left Clint free to shoot aliens in the face. It was cathartic, really.

They were doing pretty well, beating the aliens back, moving forward slowly. Occasionally he would catch a glance of Loki taking off an alien’s head or causing an illusion so an alien would either be distracted from one of them, or would walk right into a trap. For some asshole mastermind liar god, Loki was pretty useful in a fight.

Clint shot an arrow past Loki’s head, hitting an alien squarely in the chest, which Loki took the opportunity to drive into the alien like a knife until the damn thing died. Then he ripped it out and tossed it back to Clint, who restrung it to his bow and hit a different alien.

Even with all the work they were doing, they were barely holding off the invasion. He was happy Cap returned to them, and even happier when about five seconds later there were bolts of lightning raining from the sky, killing the alien hoard around them.

Thor dropped down next to them. Immediately his eyes were on Loki. He started barreling toward Loki like he meant to launch at him and throw him to the ground. Clint didn’t like this Loki as far as he could throw him, but he’d been useful.

“Thor, No!”

Clint wasn’t the only one who shouted those words or some variation, but it hardly mattered because Thor seemed to teleport backwards to the spot he landed, stumbling because he’d been reaching for a target which had previously been in front of him.

“What kind of cheap tricks are you up to now, brother,” Thor called before threw himself forward again.

Once more he was dragged back to the spot he’d been before, this time falling to one knee due to unbalance.

“Mobius,” Loki said. His hands had gone up in an ‘I give’ as soon as Thor showed up, which didn’t look all that contrite with those big knives in his hands. Now he sheathed them on his back and turned his gaze to the generally unassuming Mobius.

Thor gave another go at grabbing Loki. Now Clint could see Mobius had was little a bit of tech in his hands that look like an old-style flip phone. He slid his finger across the screen as he walked closer. Thor was thrown back again.

“Now let’s play nice and I won’t have to keep throwing you around, Mr. Odinson. But you’re not laying hands on my Loki.”

As far as Clint could tell, Mobius was a normal looking human, but there was something dangerous in his eyes as he smiled at Thor.

“More of your magic,” Thor said dismissively. It didn’t feel anything like any magic Loki had ever used on him before. Hell, it didn’t even feel like magic at all.

He’d cleared the area for his companions, but the second he saw Loki’s face and the weapons in his hands, he’d charged. He wasn’t going to allow Loki to kill anyone else! His anger and pain from just being stabbed drove him more than any battle sense. The one thing being thrown around gave him was a moment to actually see his brother.

This Loki looked different. He wasn’t wearing any type for finery. In fact, he was dressed like a Midgardian, and wasn’t even in human finery. He’d put his weapons up, and now that the plain looking human man stood at his side, Loki had a hand on his arm, as if to pull him back from getting hurt (or from attacking again).

“That would be the TemPad,” the human said, shaking this little thing in his hand. “Just a bit of time displacement. Don’t worry, you stop trying to hurt my Loki and I won’t be bothering you with this.”

“Thor,” Captain Rogers said, standing at his side. “They’re on our side. They’re from an alternative timeline. They’re helping us stop the invasion.”

Thor looked at Rogers when he stepped closer. His words made Thor’s eyes snap back to Loki who had stepped away from his human and was crossing the distance between them. He really did look different. It wasn’t just his dress; it was the way he held his body. There was no angry tension, no posturing. His eyes too seemed older. Thor was reminded very much of their mother then. Often sad. She’d seen too much.

Loki stopped right in front of him before he threw his arms around Thor’s neck. He hugged Thor, they way they hadn’t hugged for years, even before Thor was exiled to earth. Thor’s arms were wrapped around Loki too, all thoughts of inevitable betrayal completely thrown from his mind. Loki was hugging him like he was afraid Thor would be taken from him, like he had when they were boys and Loki kept having nightmares of cold and red eyes. Thor just hugged tighter.

“I thought I’d never see you again,” this Loki said into his ear before he pressed his face into Thor’s shoulder.

“So did I,” Thor said, swallowing to not tear up. He opened his eyes to blink and try to stop any moisture. When he did, he immediately saw Loki’s human looking at them with a soft look of love on his face.

Loki pulled back from the hug and quickly wiped his eyes. “Later. I want to speak with you later, but we have to handle this… but first...” He paused and licked his lips before turning his head to look at his human and then back to Thor. “Um, this Mobius, my boyfriend.” There was a light tremor in his voice, naked want and hope and desire for Thor to accept this stranger. Thor knew the look, but never connected to a person, not with Loki.

“Then I will have to meet him fully when this is over,” Thor said, giving Loki’s back a big slap. He moved a little, but it wasn’t the stagger Thor might have gotten out of him before. This Loki was unyielding. He was stronger. For a moment Thor felt the need to cry. This was what Thor had always wanted for his brother, to see how strong he was.

“So, what’s the plan?” Loki asked, turning to look at Rogers, who had stepped back, but was still nearby.

“Well, you were right about Thor-” Rogers started before there was a horn beep noise.

Banner was rolling up on an odd little Midgardian vehicle. He stopped in front of them and got off. A few steps and he was properly in their midst. His eyes went to Loki and then all of them and then Loki again.

“So, I think I missed something.”

“I’m a Loki from another timeline. We don’t have a lot of time to get into it, because the other me busy having this whole invasion thing,” Loki said, gesturing with the one arm not pressed against Thor’s side, as Thor still had one arm around lock securely around his shoulders.

“Right,” Banner said. “I’m going to need that explained later.”

“Happily. But for now, when you turn into the Hulk, you need to find the other me and just smash him into the ground a bunch of times. He’ll be completely knocked out of the fight after that.”

Banner’s mouth twitched into an almost smile. “Pretty sure I can manage that.”

Everyone near them except himself and Banner straightened up. Stark’s voice was speaking in their ear. Thor could hear it from Loki’s ear. “Are we ready? I’ve got Jonah’s whale on my ass,” Stark said over their comms.

Natasha handed both of them a little earpiece, which they both put in.

“Stark, bring it here! We’ll take care of it!” Thor said loudly.

“Turning the corner now,” Stark said.

He came whizzing over, a giant creature following him quickly. Loki stepped from his side, pulling his knives from his back and Thor bared his hammer, readying for this fight.

“I have this one,” Banner said, walking toward the massive creature.
“You angry enough to handle it?” Barton asked from somewhere behind Thor.

“That’s his secret,” Mobius said with an excited grin. “He’s always angry.”

Banner turned and threw Mobius a smile in return before changing and punching the creature into the dirt, where Stark was able to deliver another blast to kill it.

“So, that gang’s all here,” Stark said, landing in front of them.

Moments later, more soldiers and creatures came out of the portal.

“We can handle this,” Steve said. “Apparently we have in other timelines. We have four goals: keep the aliens from causing too much damage and killing civilians, getting Loki down so he can’t interfere, closing the portal, and destroying the ship on the other side.”

“Easy,” Barton said sarcastically.

“Loki and Mobius have told us a few things. First is that one way or another a nuclear warhead so going to be launched at New York. Stark’s going to direct it through the portal toward the other ship. Once it’s hit, all the creatures are basically dead.”

“Flesh-robots,” Mobius said cheerfully.

“Next, the cube has something in it called an infinity stone.” Now that made Thor tense up. “I can see Thor knows what that is too, which we’ll discuss later. Loki’s scepter also has an infinity stone, so it will be able to break the barrier and close the portal.”

“The scepter is on the top of Stark’s tower. Loki left it there when he escaped our fight,” Thor said.

“Huh, so that’s where it went,” the Loki at his side said.

“Hulk can take care of the Evil Loki if he sees him first,” Stark said. “But we don’t know where he is yet.”

“I can assist with that,” Loki said. “If I get high up enough, I can create illusions he won’t be able to ignore. Hulk will also be able to find it easily enough.”

Hulk snorted and grinned with destruction and battle in his eyes.

“So, we need people in the air and people on the ground,” Rogers continued. “Thor, we’re going to need you to run interference at the portal. Try to keep as many of them in the portal as you can.” Thor nodded his agreement, and Rogers turned his eyes toward Stark and Barton.

“Barton, I want you up there taking anyone out who gets too close, but we need your eyes on movement. Stark, you’ll fly the perimeter and try to keep any of them from getting too far outside the city. We’re going to try to keep the fight in this radius.”

“I’m gonna need a ride,” Barton said.

“I have you, Legolas,” Stark said, grabbing Barton and taking off.

“Natasha and I will stay on the ground,” Steve said.

“Me too,” Mobius said, raising a hand.

“Mobius, no,” Loki said, tension in his whole body and his voice tight. He magicked his knives back into their place so he could grab Mobius’s face. Mobius laid his hands on Loki’s hips.

“I can help, darling.”

“You’re human. You could get killed. You don’t even have a suit of armor like Stark.” Loki’s distress was almost tangible. Mobius laid his hands on Loki’s cheek and drew him down, placing a tender kiss on Loki’s forehead. Treasured. This human treasured his brother.

“I have the TemPad. I’ve also been in the TVA who knows how long. And I’ve been following after you and Sylvie and B-15 for a while now too. Do you really think I can’t take care of myself?” He and Loki looked into each other’s eyes. After a moment, Loki turned his head, kissed Mobius’s palm and then pulled away.

“Then take this with you.” He held out a his arm and a staff appeared in his hand.

“You cheeky devil,” Mobius laughed. He took the staff and turned it on, so it glowed yellow. “You said you lost it.”

“I lied,” Loki said.

Mobius chuckled. “Of course you did, Darling. Now go show off why you’re the best Loki.”

That seemed to get Loki flustered, but he turned his eyes to Thor.

“I need you to drop me at Stark Tower.”

Thor wrapped his arm around Loki’s waist. A few spins of the hammer and they were in flight, headed to the place Thor’s other brother had just stabbed him. But this time, Thor actually had hope for his brother.

“So, no matter what you do, don’t touch the glowing end, it will completely erase you from the timeline,” Mobius said as soon as Hulk had launched himself into “Smashing”. The time they’d gotten from Thor’s intervention earlier was long gone. The aliens moving in around them in a tight circle.

Steve didn’t have long enough to even think about what Mobius’s words could mean until Mobius stabbed the glowing end into the closest Chitauri and it just disintegrated in light.

“Note to self, no touching the glow stick,” Natasha said at Steve’s side.

In the sky, Thor was lighting up the portal, and broken pieces of alien were falling down into the streets.

“Shall we?” Steve asked before jumping into the fray. Natasha was quick to follow him.

Mobius would be making good just by swinging the staff around wildly, but he clearly was comfortable with the thing, and his movements always seemed to have an aim. Still, Loki was right, Mobius was a normal human. He was open while he was focused on the front, so Steve took his back. He started knocking out any Chitauri who got too close to them.

The pair of them made a hell of a distraction, with Mobius cutting down waves of their number with the lightest touch, and Steve getting multiple Chitauri down whenever he threw his shield. Steve had to be focused on the fight around them, but that didn’t mean he didn’t notice Natasha out of the corner of his eye from time to time.

With most of the local swarm focused on him and Mobius, she was able to slip through the Chitauri, slitting throats, shooting them with her guns and even their own weapons when she got her hands on them.

They made quick enough work of the aliens surrounding them that they had a second to breathe and plan.

“I’m out of bullets,” Natasha said. “Mobius, can I borrow that.”

“Sure,” Mobius said. He twisted the staff so the light went off. “Off.” He twisted it the opposite direction. “On. Do not touch the yellow light.” He twisted it off again and handed it to her.

“I got it,” she said.

“If you do touch it, you need to find the Lokis. They’re the best at hiding. Specifically find Kid Loki, an old Loki in a wild green unitard, and an alligator Loki.”

“An alligator?” Steve asked.

“Hard to believe, but I’m pretty sure Croki’s a Loki too… pretty sure.”

“Sure… why am I finding them?” Natasha asked.

“The hell do you mean and alligator?” Barton asked in his ear. This was going out to all their comms.

“Oh, good, the rest of you can hear. Anyway, they’re the best at surviving. There’s this giant purple death cloud that kills anything it touches. Those three Lokis will keep you safe until we can find you. The only way to get out of there is by me or Loki zapping ourselves into the Void as well and getting you back here with the TemPad, which has its portal function messed up right now, so you’ll be there for a little while.”

“I’ll be careful,” Natasha said.

“Great,” Mobius said.

“Mobius, you’re with me,” Steve said, getting his voice back after the weird pronouncement of an alligator Loki and a death cloud. He’d have time to deal with all of that, along with the whole alien armies and multiple timelines thing later.

Their group broke up and headed opposite directions. Loki said the TemPad was powerful, enough to make something like the Cube and Loki’s scepter functionally useless. The staff Mobius just happily gave Natasha could basically delete people from existence. Mobius still had his odd little device. Steve had even seen a bit of what it could do. It held back Thor like he was nothing.

Still, Mobius said part of it was broken, and that didn’t make Steve feel better. Their Loki looked at Mobius like he was the rock tying him to reality and the safest harbor in a storm. Steve knew what it was like being adrift. If it was in Steve’s power, he’d keep Mobius safe.

They ran until they reached a somewhat narrow street teaming with aliens. “I got this,” Mobius said.

He raised the TemPad aiming it at the first few Chitauri. They froze suddenly. Then were just as suddenly thrown backwards, slamming into the others behind them and knocking them all back at great speed. Those few aliens suddenly lifted high into the sky. Mobius let them go and they plummeted to the earth without the eased descent of their mini flying ships.

“Wow,” Steve heard himself saying.

“Yep. If you can knock some of these guys the opposite way they came from, I can fling them around like a rag doll, and then freeze them so you can hit them another direction. Teamwork, right?” Mobius asked.

“Yeah, teamwork,” Steve said and started to jog out of the street with Mobius to find more Chitauri.

They got onto a main street just in time to see a shining gold city start to grow out of the top of Stark tower.

“The fuck is that?” Steve asked.

Mobius was grinning. “That, my friend, is Asgard. A Perfectly showy trap that will be catnip to any Loki. So, shall we?”

Steve nodded and started to jog toward the closest Chitauri.

“Miss Romanov, you think you can make your way up to Stark Tower? Someone’s got to get the scepter to the portal. And Loki’s going to be busy fighting Loki.”

“Got it,” Natasha said.

“You need a ride?” Tony asked over the comms.

“Nah, I have my own,” Natasha said.

Steve didn’t have time to worry about her getting up there. A group of Chitauri were approaching and shooting at them. Mobius started turning their laser bullets back at them, killing a few of them and distracting them so Steve could toss his shield through the group. He had more than enough work trying to protect Mobius and also keeping an eye out for any other Chitauri who may be nearby.

He trusted the team. They’d get this done. He and Mobius had their own mission to worry about.

Natasha wouldn’t say traveling by alien flying bikes was a lot of fun, but it was an efficient way to get into Good Loki’s illusion city. She dropped from the bike down onto the landing pad of Stark’s grandiose tower, slipping through the very real looking walls and landing next Good Loki.

“Here,” he said, nudging the scepter at her with his foot. He didn’t seem to be actively doing magic, but his eyes were out toward the sky, though as far as Natasha could see, they were just in a glowing golden dome.

“You want your glowstick staff?” she asked. She’d turned it into the off positioning once she got the flying Chitauri off the flying bike.

“Of course he handed it over,” Loki said with a tired sigh.

“Rogers was with him. They’ll be fine,” Natasha said. She settled the glowstick on her belt and picked up the scepter.

“Make sure no one’s going to stop you, but try not to kill anyone,” he said.

“Are you really telling me that?” she asked sarcastically.

At least he had the good sense to seem abashed. “Yes, well. You’re going to be the last defense if I fail, and Hulk doesn’t show up in time. If you have to, hit the other Loki with the glowstick staff and we’ll try to go get him before Alioth the sentient cloud can eat him.”

“Right, good to know,” she said. “I’m waiting until Fury and Stark’s signals.”
“Alright. He’s coming. Go!”

She turned and bolted inside and up the service stairs toward the top of the tower. There was no one up there except doctor Selvig. The glowing dome on top of them was stuttering on and off, which she took to mean that Loki and Loki were still fighting.

“Doctor Selvig,” she said, cautiously walking to his side.

“The scepter,” Selvig said, his eyes on the item she had in her hand. “It can… it can close the portal.”

“I know,” Natasha said. “I’m just waiting for a signal.”

“For what?” he asked, pushing himself up.

“For a way to end things.”

“Okay,” he said weakly, straightening himself up. “I can help you get ready to close it.”

She offered an encouraging smile. “Thanks, doctor.”

The illusion started to flicker more. Then it went out. She turned, rushed to the edge, looked down to where Loki and Loki were fighting.

“Doc, just keep working on the machine,” She called over her shoulder.

She’d known, though she hadn’t seen before, that the new Loki was much more powerful and the Evil Loki. He wasn’t playing like a hurt little boy trying to get attention. He wasn’t acting like a petty dictator. He stood tall and determined. Also, as good as Evil Loki’s illusions were, it was nothing like the city on top of the tower.

But seeing them now just proved what she’d already known.

Evil Loki was fighting like hell, but there was anger in his whole body. Good Loki was taking advantage of that. There were constant flashes of magic. Evil Loki would make copies, but Good Loki would be able to find him almost immediately. Good Loki would make clones too, but to dodge. Evil Loki never quite seemed to notice in time before he was stabbing air. Then they would be back to clashing blades again.

A bubble of darkness covered them. Natasha could hear Selvig working on his machine. She could hear the aliens still whizzing around. She could hear the wind and her own breathing, but she couldn’t hear the Lokis’ battle anymore.

The bubble stayed there for minutes which seemed to drag out slowly. Then the bubble broke. Good Loki had Evil Loki’s stupid helmet in his hands. He stabbed the other Loki in the leg with it. Evil Loki groaned in pain, but he ripped the helmet out of his leg and turned it back on Good Loki. Getting headbutted by the front of a golden helmet disoriented Good Loki for a moment, making him stumble before starting to shift back into a fighting stance.

Evil Loki made to throw himself at Good Loki. That was the moment Hulk came roaring in, tackling Evil Loki through the window. Natasha could vaguely hear the sounds of smashing in the rooms below. Good Loki started swaying for a few seconds and then he dropped to his knees.

“Puny God,” Hulk’s voice came over the comm.

Good Loki started to giggle like a child. “I didn’t realize how funny that looked,” he got up before just doubling over and giggling in a quiet breakdown.

“Is your Loki down?” Mobius asked over comms.

“Seems like it,” Natasha responded.

That was the moment Hulk strode out of the tower. He paused over Good Loki, and Natasha had a moment where she wondered if Hulk was about to smash this Loki too. Instead, he patted Loki’s head twice with what was probably too much force form the way Loki seemed pushed down even after Hulk removed his hand.

“Puny god,” Hulk said again, but the tone was different, kinder.

“Yes, puny god,” Good Loki agreed. He pushed himself up. “Thank you.”

Hulk hmphed and threw himself off the building back to cause more destruction.

Fury’s voice came over the comm. “Stark, are you all ready? The Council just launched the nuke. It’s headed your way.”

“Natasha?” Stark asked.

“I’m in position. It looks like the doctor’s about to have this thing ready. Evil Loki’s down and Mobius’s Loki is still alive.”

“Alright, get ready to close the portal,” Stark said.

“Mr. Stark,” Mobius said. “When you get the nuke where it’s positioned to go into the portal, I’m going to use the TemPad to speed you as forward as possible. It will give you more time where you’ll be able to stay conscious. You need to get out of there was fast as possible.”

“Got it!” Stark said.

Natasha moved over to the machine, scepter raised and ready to shove into the thing as soon as possible. She kept her eyes on the sky, looking out for Stark and the bomb.

“It’s ready,” Selvig said about the time she saw Stark flying by with the nuke.

She kept her eyes on Stark as he got under the portal and began to climb up, both leading and being carried by the bomb. All at once, he zipped up and just disappeared.

“Is he in?” Steve asked.

“I got him in. If he’ll let go within the next five seconds, he should still be conscious, otherwise be ready to catch him,” Mobius said.

Natasha started counting. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. No Stark.

Three seconds later, she saw the suit falling from the portal. She shoved the scepter into the portal. It closed almost immediately. The light traveling back up into the sky and the wormhole closing itself up.

“Help,” Tony rasped out. His voice was weak and he was falling very fast.

He plummeted past the line of buildings and Natasha lost sight of him.

“He’s not slowing down!” Thor shouted.

There was a roar from the Hulk and a couple of very loud smashing sounds.

“What is it? What’s going on?” Natasha asked.

“Hulk caught Tony,” Steve said.

Natasha let out a relieved laugh. “Stark, you still with us?”

“Yeah,” Tony breathed out. “Suit froze. Hey, do you guys want to go with Shawarma?”

Natasha laughed under her breath. “We have an Evil Loki to handle.”

“He’s not really evil,” Mobious cut in.

“I don’t know, murder’s pretty evil,” the other Loki said. “But we could use the Hulk to smash that portal machine.”

“We’ll be right up,” Steve assured them.

Loki was having quite a bad day. It was supposed to be his glorious day. The day he led an army into battle. He would claim one of the grandest cities in the world and then conquer enough cities with such might that the whole of Earth would kneel at his feet. Then he would prove he was a conqueror like his father. He was a leader, a god, a king. But all his carefully laid plans were ruined; a smoldering heap like the streets of New York.

The first thing that had gone wrong was when he’d actually opened the portal for the Chitauri to invade earth. He’d flown around on the back of a Chitauri speeder, watching their movements in the city like a game board. Finally, he was leading an army entirely loyal to him! They wouldn’t turn on him because they didn’t like him or because they preferred Thor better. It was supposed to feel triumphant.

It didn’t.

He didn’t feel like some King or grand General. If he was honest with himself, he felt more like a taxi service. He’d technically lead the army to Earth by opening the portal, but he had negligible control over the army itself. They were programmed to destroy until the signal from their ship told them to stop. Loki could send for reinforcements and tell the army to stop, but that was it. It was hardly glorious, if he was being honest with himself.

Still, everything had gone according to plan, even him battling Thor. Everything was fine until Asgard suddenly appeared on top of Stark’s Tower. Midgardians shouldn’t have the power to make an illusion like that. It was to scale, perfect in the sounds and scents and sights. It was perfect except that it was in the wrong place, and that it was an illusion he could crash through.

He didn’t take any of the Chitauri with him. This was an insult he had to repay himself. The best-case scenario was that Thor had finally figured out how to be a little clever. But no, the reality was perhaps the worst because it not only ripped up Loki’s entire concept of reality, but also because it never would have made it on his list of “best to worst case scenarios” because he hadn’t expected it in anyway.

When faced with himself (dressed like a normal human, which was insulting), he’d assumed this other of his had spent time preparing such a large illusion spell. He’d assumed they were equally matched. This was not true. Loki himself was quite good in a fight, but he mixed magic with his other skills. He also didn’t seem to need magic to fight, though he used it liberally none the less.

This other Loki already knew all his tricks. Unfortunately, Loki could not say the same about his double. The other Loki fought like a desperate man. He’d seen a lot of battle, clearly, and it honed his skills as sharp as mother’s own expertise in knives.

And magic wise? Loki was lucky he broke out of that bubble at all. He’d had one moment where he perhaps had the upper hand, but that was when the Hulk smashed him repeatedly into the floor.

Which lead him here. In an office room in Stark Tower which was hastily converted to an interrogation room. Thor had Asgardian means to bind his magic. The gag reinforced the seals from the binds, but he was weak enough that he didn’t have to have the gag on for them to keep him in this room. For the moment, anyway.

To some degree, Loki had expected the moment the other him walked in, still in that awful shirt, looking so terribly human.

“Come to gloat?” Loki asked.

“Well, not to your face, exactly. I will to my friends later, though. You know there’s another Variant for us who be surprised to hear I took his magic trick.” He looked very smug, and Loki suddenly understood why people said he had a punchable face.

“We do not have friends,” Loki said through his teeth. He thought he had perhaps, back before everything. He thought that while Thor’s friends were loyal to Thor first, that they liked him too and were also his friends. That had never been true, though. He just hadn’t seen the truth back then.

“Well, I do,” the other Loki said. “Now, to be fair, four of them are just other Loki variants, but two of them aren’t. So, I can’t be said to be a narcissist entirely.” There was something in his tone that suggested an inside joke that Loki was not privy too.

His head felt a bit over filled. Six people this other version of him called friends, who he would brag about exploits with, like Thor and his loud gang of fools. Jealousy wound around his spirit.

“Are you here to ply me for information?” Loki demanded.

“Oh, I already know everything, being you and all. No, I asked for ten minutes of privacy before the actual interrogator arrives. I should warn you, he is the best. I’m tempted to time how long it takes before you spill your guts to him.”

Loki bristled, but his other just wore a small, loose smile that was amused, but not faked or even cruel. He seemed at ease in a way Loki could never remember being. This other Loki leaned his elbow on the table, with his chin rested on his palm, angled forward toward Loki with his other arm thrown over the back of the uncomfortable plastic chair that Stark provided them. Loki couldn’t imagine himself ever sitting like that, and yet this other Loki looked more natural sitting there than Loki had ever been in his life.

“What were those visions you showed me?” Loki demanded, his mind going back to that dark bubble and the things he saw: his mother dying due to him, his father’s death, his own and Thor’s as well.

“The future if you keep on this path,” The other Loki said.

“You lived all of that?” He couldn’t keep disbelief out of his voice. His double shook his head.

“The difference between us is that something happened where I was able to claim the Tesseract and escape. Yes, from your expression I can see you’re interested, but don’t be. I was immediately picked up by a group who purged any variant of what was supposed to be the perfect timeline. When I was in custody, I was shown these things. They are what would have happened to us, what we would have caused.”

The weight of their mother’s death was heavy in his double’s eyes. Loki knew it was on his brow as well.

“We’re the reason she died,” Loki said.

“In some universe. But things are different now. The group which controlled the timeline doesn’t have the power it used to. We’re both Variants and that means anything can happen from here. Which is why I showed you those things. Don’t be the reason mother dies. My timeline was erased before I could stop or fix it. This is not true for you.”

Was that what made this other Loki different? The guilt? Well, Loki already had a ton of that, but it hadn’t shaped him into this other version he saw in front of him.

That was when there was a knock on the door. A nebbish Midgardian in a boring brown suit poked his head in. “Am I good to come in?”

“Perfect timing,” the other Loki said, moving to stand.

“No, no. I brought another chair.” The boring little human opened the door all the way, whipping a padded rolling chair into the room and wheeling it over to the other Loki, who looked unimpressed.

“I forget what a bastard you are, Mobius,” the other Loki said.

“Well, if that chair’s too uncomfortable, you can always come sit in my lap.” The gall of a human to flirt with him like that!

To his surprise, his other just chuckled, and shifted to brace both his elbows on the table. “You realize you’ve just given me incentive to do so.”

“Why I said it,” this ‘Mobius’ said before turning his eyes to Loki. “Hi there, Mobius M. Mobius. It’s a pleasure to meet this version of you.”

“I cannot say the same for you. Is this the interrogator you mentioned?” Loki asked his other.

“He is,” his other said. “You’ll see.”

“So what, you’re going to preform some good cop, bad cop routine where this interrogator pretends to be kind to get me to confess?” Loki pushed himself up to stand. His hands were bound to the table, so he couldn’t just lunge for them. But he hadn’t been bound to the chair, so it was easy enough to stand. He even knocked back his chair a bit, causing a nasty scraping sound just to hurt their ears.

He stood over them, using his height, leering down at them. Then all of a sudden, he was slammed ass first into the ground, his arms jarred upwards where they were still connected to the table.

“Unfortunately for you, I am the good cop and the bad cop. And I don’t need you to confess to anything. I already know about Thanos and his plans.”

That sent a cold chill down Loki’s spine. He looked up at the man, who was smiling down at him in a manner both nonthreatening and horrifying. He had some little device in his hands now.

“Here, let me help you back up.” And Loki was dragged back up into standing.

“What was that?” Loki demanded.

“Standard issue TemPad,” Mobius said, waving the little thing. “Allows us to do all sorts of fun things with time. I just rewound you to your previous sitting position.”

“Then why was I on the floor?” Loki snapped.

“Because I didn’t rewind the chair.” The smile on Mobius’ face was pure mischief and a little bit evil. It made him look surprisingly handsome.

The other Loki waved a hand and his chair pushed into his legs, forcing him to sit. Then there he was, back where he started, sitting at a table he was chained to in an uncomfortable plastic chair. Across from him was a more powerful version of himself and a human who could control time.

To use a human phrase: he was screwed.

“If you don’t need information, then what do you want? What’s the point of this interrogation?” he demanded.

“Well, first off just to get us some privacy so my Loki could talk to you. But also because I do want you to tell me things.” Mobius’s words became more serious as he spoke, and even the other Loki turned to look at him.

“Like what?” he demanded.

“I want you to tell me what happened when you fell off the bridge, what you experienced and what Thanos did to you.” Loki’s blood turned to ice, and the other Loki went pale.

“Mobius-” the other Loki started but cut himself off.

“You don’t have to stay, darling. I have this. You can’t talk about it, but he can.” Mobius spoke to his other softly, like his other was a child or… or someone to be cherished.

His other balled his hands into fists. “I’m not watching this,” he snapped. He turned and stalked out, the door slamming behind him.

There was a moment of silence, then Mobius sighed and turned back around to face Loki. Loki eyed Mobius warily.

“If your fuck toy wouldn’t tell you this, why do you think I will?” Loki asked. He couldn’t cross his arms over his chest, but he wanted to. Was that the trade off? He got more powerful but there was a time wizard who kept him as a pet? Was that his worth? To be someone’s bed warmer and attack dog.

“Now, now, don’t go wherever your brain is taking you. My Loki is my boyfriend. We’ve been together for a while now. Having dashing adventures and saving the universe… truthfully, he doesn’t need me to keep going.” Mobius looked so human, just imperfect and weak, but there was something in his eyes that warm as Loki’s own bed and sharp as his knives. “He just likes having me, because I love him, and he loves me. He could run off and leave me if he wanted. But I trust that he’ll come back for me.”

“How can you trust him?” Loki asked. It was easier to ask that then grapple with the fact that the other version of himself had someone who loved him, and who he loved. And it was easier to ask that than accept how jealous he was of the other Loki.

“Because he’s always come back for me before,” Mobius said. “Our survival doesn’t depend on being with each other, but our lives do… our hearts do. He means everything to me, and he’s having nightmares about Thanos and the void of space. I don’t have access to his memories or the timeline stuff. Slyvie’s not around to enchant him so he can access them. But it’s fresh for you. You know what’s real and what’s false. So, I need to know everything.”

Loki was silent for a moment. He almost asked who Sylvie was but decided he didn’t care. Mobius loved the other Loki. He wanted to help him. Loki only had two people in his whole life who ever felt like that about him, just his mother and brother. Even his brother was questionable now.

Something deep in his heart told him Mobius would never look at him like that, because the other Loki had gotten to him first. It was a bitter, deeply bitter, thing knowing he’d already lost to himself.

“And what do I get out of it?” he asked slowly.

“I’ll tell them you were very cooperative and told me all this stuff about Thanos and the infinity stones so they can start preparing for him now.” Mobius’s cheerful smile was back on.

“Can I assume that you already know all of that?” His own tone was sarcastic but also tired. It had been a long, bad day, and it wasn’t getting any better.

“And more. I’m going to set them right on a few other things, but everything about Thanos, I’ll credit to you. That ought to help smooth some stuff over for you,” Mobius said. “So, we have a deal?”

“Fine,” Loki said. Those memories were fresh and raw. He’d been weak and broken and pathetic. But Mobius knew that already. He knew it and he loved him, at least a version of him.

Jealous. He was so damned jealous. And disappointed.

Eventually the Hulk relaxed enough that Bruce could get back into his own body. Tony helped with that. It mystified Bruce that anyone could actually get through to the big green guy. But Tony had stuck right too him and just got him. He wasn’t afraid. He wasn’t ignorant. He wasn’t stupid. It was fucking amazing.

Tony led their little group (sans Mobius and the other Loki, who were still busy plying Loki for information) to a Shawarma place nearby. Which was fine. The food was fine. His bones hurt and he was exhausted, but he wasn’t hungry anymore. The trudge back to Stark Tower wasn’t even so bad.

Director Fury and Agent Hill were there when they arrived, with a whole bunch of Shield people down in the lobby. But it was just them up there, no other agents. Mobius was sitting on a rolling chair across from Fury and Hill, who were sitting on one sofa which was missing a seat and a back cushion. The other sofa was missing all its cushions and pillows.

“Did Loki steal my cushions?” Tony demanded as soon as they all stepped off the elevator.

“Well, technically I did,” Mobius said.

“Is Loki still in with Loki?” Steve asked.

“On the roof, helping the good doctor set the machine safely on fire.” Mobius just sounded too cheerful about that.

“So, is anyone guarding Evil Loki?” Natasha asked behind him.

“He’s not evil,” Thor mumbled behind both of them.

“After he gave us a lot of good information, I got him some food and my Loki magicked him clean, then we made a bed for him from the cushions. He’d got the muzzle on, and my Loki’s got all sort of wards on it. We’d notice well before he got out.”

“So, he did talk then?” Natasha asked, breaking from their group to stand next to Fury and Hill.

“He did,” Fury said. “And Mobius confirmed his story. Along with some other very troubling pieces of information.”

“Like what?” Steve asked.

“Have you ever heard of the Winter Soldier?” Hill asked. Natasha went totally still, but Steve shook his head.

“Can’t say I have.”

“Well, then we need to have a long discussion, with basically all of you,” Fury said.

“Actually, can I borrow Doctor Banner?” Mobius asked. “I’ll fill him in, but I need his expertise to help Loki and I get out of here. Mr. Stark, I’d like you too eventually.”

“Yeah, sure, lab’s down the hall, down the stairs one floor. Jarvis!”

“Sir?” the AI suddenly asked.

“Give ‘em whatever they need!”

“Of course, sir. This way gentlemen,” Jarvis said, lights blinking the direction they needed to go.

“Come on, Doctor Banner. I have a cool science thing for you to help me fix,” Mobius said, grabbing Bruce’s arm and basically dragging him down the hall before Bruce found his feet and started to actually follow.

The lab they were directed to was large, clean and basically everything Bruce would ever want in a lab. And he couldn’t even really enjoy it because he was busy obsessing over the tired and worried look on Fury’s face.

“So, what are you filling me in on exactly?” He’d rather be blunt and get it over with then let it fester and potentially set something off. (Or let someone out.)

“Fury’s about to tell them that Hydra’s infiltrated Shield at basically every level, including the Council Chairman. And that Hydra took Captain Rogers best friend and turned him into a brainwashed murder machine who’s probably assassinated tons of the most important figures in recent history, including Stark’s parents. And he’s going to tell Stark he needs to not make an AI-slash-robots to defend the world because he’s just going to get a genocidal robot.” The news was far too grim for the almost chipper tone Mobius used.

Bruce’s stomach felt like lead and ice. He was cold all the way down to the other guy, who was reaching to come out and fight a threat that made Bruce so scared. Bruce shoved the big guy down. He swallowed a few times and took a deep breath. Mobius had found one of the exam tables and pulled out a little piece of tech, which looked more like a business calculator than some type of important future technology.

“So, you know everything about us?” Bruce asked.

“Well, not everything, especially because we already changed things. The things I told Fury were a few of the most important things which will cause long term damage that can easily be fixed if addressed right now,” Mobius said.

“So what, no other future information?” Bruce asked, sounding bitter. He crossed the distance to the exam table, starting to examine the pad itself.

“I’m not going to tell you how to lead your lives. Plus, if you all deal with what I just told you, it’ll make some pretty big changes.” Mobius snapped the pad open like it was a flip phone. “Plus, your Loki gave all this information on the guy who sent him.”

“Someone sent him.” It wasn’t a question, just a statement. Of course there was something else behind the army. It didn’t fit Loki’s style.

“Yeah, big crazy guy named Thanos. I’ll let Fury tell you that one. It’ll be a while before he gets here, so don’t worry about him just yet. So, you think you can help me with this?”

The topic change about gave him whiplash.

“I don’t even know what this thing is,” Bruce said.

“It’s a TemPad. It lets us play with time and gives us access to portals between timelines. The portal part’s what’s messed up. I was able to use the other stuff just fine.” No one should be that chipper after all of this. Mobius seemed like a pretty friendly guy, nice and soft. But he also an asshole. No wonder he’d matched up with a Loki.

“I did notice that,” Bruce said. His memories weren’t that vague this time. He had seen some of what happened, including Mobius throwing aliens into other aliens.

“You know, maybe there is something else I should tell you.” Bruce turned to look at Mobius, who had a considering look in his eyes.

“What? More death and destruction.”

“The other guy is part of you. You’re going to have problems as long as you keep resisting him. You’re the same person, and I think you get it, or you wouldn’t have that much control. The less you try to run from him and the more you accept him, the more he’ll accept you. Yeah, he’s made of your anger, but it’s your anger. You can’t run from that. No one can.”

Bruce was silent for a moment. “You’re talking psychology with me now?”

“Eh a little, but listen. He’s you and you’re him. When you accept him, you’ll have say in what he does and he’ll have access to your amazing intelligence. That combination is going to be hell to beat. And you’ll stop being so afraid all the time.”

Bruce absorbed those words. Not being afraid, that sounded nice. Control sounded nice. Knowing he’s not just going to cause wanton destruction would be a miracle. Targeted destruction is much better.

“Just think about it,” Mobius said.

“I’ll think about it. But for now, tell me what the hell I’m looking at.”

Mobius was unsettling, but Bruce didn’t feel like he was being lied to.

Loki was trying to not show how nervous he was. They’d stayed for a little over a week, talking to Fury and the other Avengers about strategy for the future Mobius laid out. His Variant was included on some of the talks about Thanos. He sang like a bird. But then Mobius and Loki already knew everything he supposedly said. And they knew more too.

It hadn’t been a bad week exactly. Mobius was talking him through his nightmares, which meant he could generally go back to sleep afterward. Fury and the others treated him not like an enemy, but like an honored comrade. But of all, Thor was eager to spend time with him. He wanted to hear stories of all of Loki’s adventures. He wanted to know about Loki’s friends and all the variants he’d met. Loki was pretty certain Thor wanted to meet all of them. He told Loki if the child version of him wanted a place, he would be welcome in Thor’s Asgard, as were any of the rest. Loki would pass that on when he saw them next.

He knew Thor was trying with his Variant too, to mixed success. Loki had at least talked his Variant around about Mother, but it was questionable if his feelings about Thor had moved very much. Loki knew his Variant was trying to make nice to get a lighter sentence, so he wasn’t certain that his Variant didn’t actually just wanted to stab Thor and be done with it.

To be fair, Loki had considered stabbing Thor a few times this week too, for old time’s sake if nothing else. But he hadn’t because he was just happy to see him again. Or a version of him. As close as he could get to his own Thor.

This universe was as painful as it was sweet. He would never get a chance to make up with his own Thor, to show him that he could be better. He’d never get to hug his own mother or show her what he could do now. He’d never be able to fix anything in that universe. It was gone, completely destroyed. The same way there was now a sweet little girl Loki, who had a life identical to Sylvie up until the point where Sylvie was stolen. But that wasn’t Sylvie’s world. Hers was gone too. It was the same type of sweet pain to know that there was a universe where Sylvie wasn’t an orphan.

That was why he was so nervous now. He was going to see his family and his home again. It was his and wasn’t. Right now his Father was probably properly pissed at him, so even though Loki hadn’t been the one just trying to level New York, he would definitely still be in the blast zone.

“Don’t worry yet,” Mobius said. He slipped his arm around Loki’s waist, resting his hand in Loki’s pocket.

Stark had provided some nice clothes for them, as a thanks for ending things faster and than the other timeline. Now the only brown in Loki’s ensemble was the comfortable brown leather jacket, which doubled as a way to hide his knives. He had to admit that he looked good in denim, and the shirt was his favorite shade of green. Also, now he had sunglasses.

Mobius had gotten a different brown suit. Loki knew he was in love because his human with the atrocious fashion sense. But Mobius seemed just delectable in his old brown suit as he did in his new brown suit (dark brown, better fit, bright blue shirt, a tie that wasn’t painful to witness its existence). Loki was clearly smitten. It was sickening, really.

“This looks good,” Mobius said, catching Loki’s attention by running a few fingers across Loki’s braid. Loki had on a whim done his hair in a half-up side-braid, which left about half of his hair down. The end of the braid and the rest of his hair were laying over his shoulder opposite the start of the braid. Mobius’s fingers traced the line of his braid, skimming across Loki’s scalp. Loki shivered, tipping his head back so Mobius could reach better. Mobius was always so reverent when he touched Loki. Reverent meant careful and tender. That’s the way Mobius treated him.

“You’ll do fine,” Mobius murmured in his ear. “They’ll be happy to see you.”

“You always think far too well of people,” Loki said, knowing that wasn’t totally true. Mobius just thought people should treat Loki well.

“Well, someone has to balance you out,” Mobius said. “Fuck knows you look like a trusting babe next to Sylvie, so I have to be on your other side to make you look normal.”

He was smiling and Loki couldn’t help himself. He leaned in and kissed his beloved. Mobius deserved a smack for speaking to him like that, but he swore to his own heart, that just made him like Mobius more. Wicked and clever, but soft and kind. His Mobius.

“Brother, are you ready?” Thor asked.

Stark found them a place in a park where they could do this transportation and not cause serious damage. The Tesseract was necessary to get back to Asgard. It combined with a device doctor Selvig had created would make going home easy. Thor and his Variant would be on one side of the transport device, and he and Mobius would be on the other. That meant Loki got a lovely view of himself in the chains and the muzzle.

It didn’t even look weird to him. He’d seen too many Lokis too many ways. At least this Variant wasn’t still bruised all to hell.

“We’re ready,” Loki said. He put his arm around Mobius as well. Both of them had to grab a handle, while his Variant and Thor held the other.

Thor twisted the handle on his side, and they were pulled up to Asgard, to the end of the bridge were Hiemdall stood watch. Loki was surprised to realize he’d actually missed him. That realization settled like a stone in his stomach. Well, this stay was going to be a fun trip; just full of unexpected surprises.

“Thor,” Heimdall said, nodding toward Thor. “I see you found another Loki to bring home as well.”

“Did you let father know?” Thor asked.

“And spoil the surprise?” Heimdall spoke with an entirely straight face. Loki’s mouth quirked. Sometimes Heimdall was a right bastard, but he could be funny.

“It’s good to see you again,” Loki said. He still had his arm around Mobius and Mobius still had his hand in Loki’s pocket. Loki tightened his grip. Mobius was his anchor, and he was going to need him.

“You have grown,” Heimdall said.

“Yes, the unknown amount of my life spent between time has a lot to do with it.” Loki was rewarded by a small twitch of Heimdall’s mouth.

“Welcome home, Prince.” Heimdall nodded his head toward Loki and then looked back out to the expanse. Loki found himself struggling not to tear up. Of course, Heimdall would know. He saw everything. It was better to hear it now, as he might not start crying front of Odin if his mother welcomed him home.

Mobius squeezed his hip. Loki cleared his throat, back in control of himself. “Thank you.”

“This way,” Thor said. He had a hand on his Variant’s shoulder. Said Variant was clearly seething. Loki knew the anger was pain. In his Variant’s shoes, he would be terribly jealous if some other version of him arrived and was welcomed home that.

“A little hard to get lost on the bridge, especially with how short it is now,” Loki said. He heard Mobius chuckle at his side, which made him feel warm.

“I am certain I will grow time of your wit soon,” Thor pronounced.

“It’ll grow back on you later,” Mobius said. He gave Loki’s hip another squeeze and then pulled away so Loki could walk on his own.

Loki tuned out after that. He was busy taking in everything, storing it away. It felt more like a dream than a reality, even knowing it was real. His eyes went to everything, from the people on the streets, to the shining windows of homes, to the guard who came to greet them. He even noticed the runner who took off toward the palace.

Mobius and Thor were speaking. Apparently, Mobius was asking about the architecture, which Thor would never be able to answer. If Loki had been truly paying attention, he would have been very amused.

Loki shook himself a bit once they arrived at the doors of Odin’s throne room. Thor removed his Variant’s gag so he could speak.

“I’ll be here with you,” Thor assured his Variant.

“Little good will it do me,” Loki said.

Thor frowned. “You gave assistance to Shield. Perhaps father can be convinced that you can be of service outside of a cell.”

His Variant rolled his eyes and looked ready to make some biting remark when Mobius laid his hand on his shoulder. His Variant stilled immediately, turning to look at Mobius. Loki wasn’t fool enough to not see the longing in his other’s eyes. It made him scowl. Every Loki liked Mobius, but no one else had tried to make a move on Mobius before and Loki didn’t like the idea that this one might consider it.

“You’re going to do just fine. Try to keep the sarcasm down and remember that you’re capable of amazing things. You’re not going to rot in a cell for eternity. That’s not who you are.” Mobius spoke softly so the guards wouldn’t be too privy. The Variant leaned into Mobius’s space when he spoke. He licked his lips and then looked away.

“I’ll attempt to be polite.”

“That’s a good boy.” Mobius bookended those words with a pat on the shoulder.

The words, as always, had an immediate effect. The Variant shivered and then straightened up, standing proudly. Loki knew damn well his Variant would happily drop to his knees with his back still straight and proud and then suck Mobius’s cock like it was his job. He knew because Loki wanted to do (and did) that whenever Mobius spoke to him like that.

But those words were not aimed at him. Instead, Loki felt a roiling jealousy in his stomach. It took a lot of self-control to not grab Mobius and drag him behind some pillar to leave some choice marks on his neck and show off what he was: His, Loki’s alone, and not for some Variant. But he didn’t. Mobius grabbed his hand and gave a quick, hard squeeze. It was for strength, but it gave Loki some calm and control.

This was already harder than Loki prepared for. Truthfully, there was never really a way to prepare.

The doors opened and their little entourage, flagged by guards, walked into the hall. They walked right up to Odin, whose good eye widened in surprise and then narrowed. Near the throne stood their mother, who covered her mouth with one hand. Her expression was full of emotion, but her eyes were sharp and calculating. Loki nearly smiled. He got that from her.

“Thor, would you care to explain why there are two Lokis?” Odin asked. His temper was clearly already short. “And why only one of them is in chains?”

Thor let go of his Variant and stepped forward to speak. “Father, I cannot explain in full, but this other Loki arrived with his companion. The pair of them assisted us with the Battle of New York and continued to help after the battle was long over.”

Odin just looked even more suspicious. “And what price was on this assistance?”

“My brother wanted to return home,” Thor said like it as so simple. For him, it was though, wasn’t it? He knew his own brother, the Variant, and Loki himself were different. He saw right through Loki like an x-ray. Thor would have probably given him anything he asked for, and coming home was easily something Thor could grant.

Had it always been like that? Had Thor always been willing to give him whatever he wanted? From the way this Thor was with his actual brother, Loki suspected he might have been. He mourned for his own loss again. He’d shredded his own life and been so blind to what he had. Stupid.

“Indeed,” Odin said, moving his gaze from Thor to Loki. “Loki, would you like to explain how there are two of you.”

His Variant turned and looked at him. “You get to explain this one, my dear other.”

Loki shot him a glare. He hated himself sometimes, especially when faced with one of his Variants who just loved to poke his buttons. He looked up at Odin, his thoughts swirling. How could he explain everything in a way that would make his father believe him? He was a liar, and his Variant was fresh off an attempted genocide of frost giants and murdering and terrorizing many, many humans. Odin was not going to be inclined to give Loki any leeway for mistakes in his explanation. He swallowed. He’d been silent for far too long, and Odin did not look happy.

“Mobius, please?” Loki rasped out. He didn’t look at Mobius, his eyes fixed fearfully on his father, but he felt his lover’s familiar warm touch on his shoulder as Mobius came to stand at his side.

“Your Majesty,” Mobius said politely. “For a long time, there was group called the Time Variant Association who monitored the so called sacred timeline. The TVA would kidnap anyone who caused any variation to the sacred timeline, then the TVA would choose to either brainwash these Variants or prune them, destroying them entirely. And each time this was done, the timeline would be reset. My Loki here is a Variant who escaped capture after the Battle of New York. That was when the TVA captured him. I asked him to be put on my team, as I was still with the TVA then.”

Mobius paused, giving Odin a moment to speak. “Continue,” Odin said. At least he seemed interested and no longer furious.

“There was another Loki, a biologically female Loki who was destroying TVA agents. She, rightfully, wanted to destroy the TVA. I won’t go into specifics, but because my Loki found her and helped her, the timelines have begun to branch again. But that has also left my Loki, myself, Sylvie and another TVA agent named B-15 travelling between timelines. We arrived in this timeline when our transportation device stopped. We decided to help out while we were here, make the battle shorter.”

“Messing with time is dangerous,” Odin said. He was leaning forward, toward Mobius. He was interested in Mobius’s story, and well, Mobius was always pretty entrancing.

“Don’t I know it,” Mobius said with a winning smile. “In any case, my Loki’s original timeline was reset a long time ago, but he still wished to see his family. And who was I to say no?” That made Loki so warm. He turned to look at Mobius and smiled at him. Mobius smiled back before returning his gaze to Odin. “In any case, your Loki’s been good about giving relevant information to the people back on earth. I have every faith that with time he will be capable of assisting rather than just being a little destruction devil.”

His Variant’s cheeks turned pink, and the look he gave Mobius was too soft. No! His Mobius! Bad other Loki!

“Variant Loki,” Odin said. Loki couldn’t help but scowl.

“It’s just Loki, actually,” he said before he could stop himself.

“Just Loki,” Odin said. Loki’s cheeks colored now too. Loki didn’t get everything from his mother, after all. It was a good sign that Odin was willing to joke at all, but that didn’t make Loki less annoyed about it. “This human companion of yours.”

“Mobius M. Mobius,” Loki said.

“Yes, who is he to you that he would speak for you?” Odin’s voice was true and loud, and Loki wouldn’t be able to escape this question.

“He’s my boyfriend,” Loki said. “And one of my best friends. And one of the most loyal people I have ever met.” He glanced at Mobius, who looked a little embarrassed, but also very pleased.

His pronouncement hit the room like a bomb. Even the normally quiet guard were whispering among themselves. Loki didn’t use Midgardian words like ‘boyfriend’. He didn’t have friends like that. And he definitely didn’t declare such things to so many people.

“Silence,” Odin demanded, casting a withering look at his guards. They shut up immediately.

“Oh, that’s lovely,” his mother said with so much love in her voice. Loki whipped his head to look at her. He almost got choked up with how proud she looked. He resisted the urge to ask her if he made her proud. He wanted to hear it so much, but he stayed silent. He could practically feel the hurt and bitterness his Variant was radiating. A little twist of fate, and Loki would be the one in chains here. He decided not to push his Variant’s emotions any further.

“Enough,” Odin said. “We will discuss this at length at a later time. For now, my Loki, do you have anything to say for yourself?”

It was a relief to not be under Odin’s judgement anymore, but Loki couldn’t simply relax. He didn’t know if the other Loki would be able to hold himself in and not just run his mouth and ruin all the work he and Mobius had done.

His Variant put on one of those smiles of their, a dangerous disguise, even when he was cornered and powerless. It was also the easiest thing to reach for when he could think of nothing else to do in order to hide.

Mobius, who stood between both him had his Variant, reached out, laying a hand on the Variant’s elbow. He gave a firm squeeze. The other Loki turned and looked at Mobius, searching his face for something for a moment before he calmed and returned his gaze toward their father.

“When I fell from the bridge, I was found by the mad titan Thanos. He found me… useful at the time. I cannot give an explanation you would accept for my actions around Jotunheim, nor do I have much of an explanation for most of actions on Midgard. But I will give information I have on Thanos. He’s dangerous and powerful. And if you will listen, I will tell you what I know.”

“Do you think this will help your case?” Odin asked, his voice short and harsh.

His variant chuckled darkly. “Mobius does, but I have no faith that you would show mercy. After all, I am not Asgardian, just a piece to be used as you would wish, Father.” Loki winced. His variant spoke with an angry bite. “But I will tell you anyway because Thanos is a threat to Asgard, and Jotunheim and everywhere else. I am not fool enough to think that keeping my silence will do anything but cause further damage.”

Odin looked at his variant for a long time before looking toward Thor. “And you? What do you think?”

“He told the Midgardians everything,” Thor said. “And I think locking him up for thousands of years is a waste. I’m not against punishment, but I believe that we’ll regret it if we lock him up and never let him out.”

Odin paused to consider Thor’s words before turning his eye back to the Variant. “Loki, by rights for your crimes you should be executed. But your mother stayed my hand. We will see if you can change and help rather than hurt. You are sentenced to the dungeons. We will re-evaluate at a different time.”

The Variant didn’t look pleased, but Mobius clapped his shoulder, and that bit of encouragement kept his Variant quiet as the guards lead him away.

“Thor, go with him,” their mother said, though she hadn’t moved from her spot. Thor bowed his head and then turned and quickly followed his Variant and the guard out.

Odin stood, walking down the stairs of the throne until he stood before Loki and Mobius. He stood there, looking at them both for a tense minute.

“Both of you, follow me,” he said.

He turned and walked toward Mother, then both of them headed down the hall. Loki grabbed Mobius’s hand and followed after them. He knew these paths well. Even having been gone… as long as he had, he still remembered the pathways of the palace: the ones he’d raced through with his brother; the ones he and his mother walked during magic lessons; the ones Odin would stride down with Thor and Loki on his heels, listening in rapt attention as he told them some story of righteous battle; the ones he walked for the short time he was King of Asgard. He experienced a type of vertigo, as all those memories crashed into one another, combined with this one moment as he followed a version of his parents down an old, familiar hall. He was too different to fit. These halls were no longer his.

Mobius squeezed his hand, drawing Loki from his thoughts. He gave his beloved a reassuring smile. He would be alright.

His parents entered one of the studies, stepping inside. Loki and Mobius followed them in. The door shut behind them. The walls were full of books and the large window opened to a glorious view of Asgard’s gardens. The room wasn’t big, but peaceful. It was a good room to read in and a good room to hide during hide and seek. Loki swallowed his memories and focused on his mother.

She crossed to him and wrapped her arms around him. Her hold was tight, as if she feared him being ripped away. He gripped back just as tightly. He was afraid of being separated now that he’d come back to her.

“My son, you’ve come home.” She pulled back so she could look at him. “You’ve grown so much.” She ran a few fingers across his braid. Her smile was sad and happy. His Variant would need her attention too and soon, but for a moment, Loki indulged in her undivided attention.

“Mother, I missed you,” he said. “With all my heart. And I’m sorry.”

“What for, my son?” She looked right in his eyes and stripped away any lie he could tell.

“If… if I had not changed things here, I would have been the reason you died,” Loki said. He looked up suddenly. “The dark elves are coming. They’ll be searching for the Aether, which will be uncovered soon. They will attack here to get it.”

Odin’s face grew stony, but his mother’s gentle hands drew his gaze back to her. “Why do you say you would be the reason I died?”

“The elves would come in through the dungeon and I would tell them which door to take to get to the throne room,” he said.

His mother let out a huff of a laugh. “Did you help them get in?”

“Well, I didn’t get to that part of the timeline. But I would not have let them in, nor would I have planned to let them in.” He was ashamed for actions he hadn’t taken but knew he would have.

“Then you did not cause my death. That would be the ones who attacked our home. I would die to defend our home, and I likely did in that future you saw.” She stroked his cheek. “Do not hold that guilt.”

Loki closed his eyes and leaned into her familiar touch. “I miss you,” he said. This was his mother, but she had another Loki. He wanted his mother who only had him.

“I can feel you. You’ve gotten more powerful,” she noted.

“You should have seen it. He made all of Asgard on top of a building,” Mobius said. His words made Loki’s gloom break. He laughed softly.

“Yes, well. I just borrowed Old Loki’s trick,” he said, pulling away from his mother’s touch so he could look at Mobius.

“And it took him a lot longer to figure it out, didn’t it? And you’ve got all of Sylvie’s magic tricks down.”

“Hers are far more potent.”

“But you can still do it,” Mobius pointed out.

“You have changed. I do not remember a time that you wouldn’t take credit for your accomplishments,” Odin said.

“I’m just older,” Loki said. “And I’ve seen many things. I will admit, it’s a little embarrassing to meet a younger version of myself now. Hard to watch yourself make the worst mistakes possible.”

It was his mother’s turn to laugh. “That is part of growing up, being embarrassed of who we were.” Her smile got a little sadder. “I know you have to leave but stay with us for a while.”

“I want to,” Loki said. “I’ve missed you all so.”

“Then stay,” Odin said. “You are a child of Asgard, and our son.”

Loki cleared his throat, keeping himself from getting too choked up. “Your me, he’ll come around. I don’t think he’ll be just like me, but he’ll be better than now.”

“Which we will wish for,” Odin said. “We’ll have rooms set up for your stay. And I do want to know about the elves.”

“Mobius knows better. He’s actually studied my timeline quite a lot,” Loki said.

“Later,” Mother said, taking Loki’s arm. “For now, come sit. I want to know everything about you.”

Loki was happy to be dragged to a chair and away from talks of the future. His mother wanted to hear about the good things in his life, and honestly, he wanted to talk about those things. He wanted her to know about his friends and his new life.

Mobius appreciated that Loki wanted to dress him up. His Loki loved clothes and fashion and looking beautiful. Of course, Loki looked beautiful in anything, so it would hardly matter. Loki did not like his normal clothes; Mobius knew that for a fact. But that also never stopped Loki from finding him irresistible in his normal clothes. And Loki had a hard time keeping his hands to himself when Stark had gotten him that nice new suit.

Mobius liked his new suit. But one doesn’t wear Midgardian clothes on Asgard, so Mobius had to consent to Loki dressing him. And as Mobius was basically being treated like Loki’s betrothed, Mobius got to wear the brighter, richer colors the royal family had the most access too. Mobius was presented with the asymmetrical wrap tops that were a common feature of Asgardian male fashion. Loki had outfitted him in a dark blue shirt with long sleeves. He’d been given a brown leather sleeveless coat, similar to a lot of other Asgardians. His outfit was laced with lighter blues, but still was primarily brown. Mobius liked brown; it was a warm color. All colors combined naturally became brown. He liked colors, after all. Loki loved him enough to put up his like of brown clothes.

He loved Loki too. A lot.

Mobius knew he was Loki catnip. And in turn, he was fascinated by Loki, always had been. Despite everything, Loki was chaos and freedom and Mobius had craved that. Maybe one day he would find out who he’d been before the TVA. Maybe he was a dare devil, or maybe he was an accountant. He knew in his bones that any version of himself would love Loki. All Lokis liked him, and he was just as drawn to all Lokis.

But his Loki was his Loki. He wasn’t stupid. He knew the Loki from this timeline was interested in him. Oh, it took him longer than it should have to figure it out, but he was aware. And if he hadn’t, how jealously Loki guarded him would have been the tip off.

It was hard to get any time to himself, if he was honest. Loki stuck to his side like a burr, like Mobius was a prize anyone would want to snatch away. To Loki (and other Lokis) that might be true, but not to anyone else. It was cute, but even Mobius got tired of the smothering.

Now, though, his Loki had gone to speak to the other Loki. They would only be there a few more days, and Mobius knew that his Loki wanted there to be another Loki like him: grown up and responsible, but not old and tired like Old Loki. So maybe he was trying to get this Loki to learn a few things before they left. Mobius wished him luck, but he knew from experience you couldn’t really force a Loki to do anything in the long run. They had to make those decisions on their own.

The silver lining was that his Loki’s insistence meant Mobius had a free afternoon. He planned to use it to go exploring on his own, but he barely got out of his room before Frigga swept him up and “invited” him to tea. There was in fact tea and some delicious little pastries laid out for them on Frigga’s private terrace. And then everyone else was gone and it was just the two of them.

“So, is this the part where you tell me that if I don’t take good care of your son that you’ll murder me and dispose of my body where no Loki would never find me?” Mobius asked before taking a sip. “Mm, this is good tea.”

Frigga looked amused and took a sip from her own cup. “No, it would be pointless. Yesterday, I went to check on my Loki, and before I arrived, your Loki was there. They were in quite a heated argument. I believe it was “don’t go near Mobius or I’ll rip your tongue out.” Or something like that.” There was a wicked light in her eyes behind her cup.

Mobius had the good sense to look embarrassed. “I’m really not trying to lead him on, your majesty.”

“I know you aren’t. But my Loki feels seen when you look at him. I believe he likes that you know every bad thing he could do and still love him anyway.” And wasn’t that just a really solid assessment of the situation?

“Sounds right. And not offense to your Loki, but my Loki isn’t replaceable with another Variant. Not that I think your Loki is replaceable either. But mine… no, if I lost him, I wouldn’t find another Loki or anyone else. It’s just us.”

Frigga looked touched, which was a relief. She took another sip and then set her cup down. She was so regal and untouchable that Mobius had to work not to fidget. He’d never actually spent time with a Queen before. And since he didn’t have to defend Loki to her or against her, a lot of his steel backbone just didn’t feel like coming out to play. Really, facing someone who loved Loki was harder than facing an enemy. Loki’s enemies were dime a dozen, after all. But loved ones? The total was four on a bad day and nine on a good day. And nearly half of those nine were just another version of Loki.

“That is good news,” Frigga said. “While I was accidentally spying on my sons, I heard your Loki, my other Loki, say something interesting. He told my first Loki “Mobius is mine, but I’m certain there’s another Variant in this world you can find.”

Mobius groaned. “He’s got to mean my non-Variant self. Who is probably just a normal human. I have no clue.”

“Yes, well. I don’t expect my first Loki to stay put too long after that. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I’m just going to ask that he take me or Thor when he goes.”

Mobius let out a surprised laugh. “I can see where he gets it from, all that mischief.”

“He is my son, after all.” She took another sip from her cup. “But will you tell me about him? Why do you love my other Loki so much?”

“You know, before I met him, even before Sylvie started causing hell for us, I’d already watched his timeline over and over. I don’t remember much before my promotion in the TVA. As soon as I had it, though, I got all the Loki footage and watched it. I watched it on my off times. We got a lot of Lokis. I told myself that was why, but truthfully, I liked him. I think I saw his freedom and found it appealing, even with everything that went wrong. Compared to looked at my rigid life it seemed like everything. I thought “I want that. Consequences and all. I want that.” Lokis came through all the time because Lokis are always searching for freedom. You have no idea how many Lokis survive in the void because they fight so hard to live and be free.”

Mobius took a breath. He had to look down in his cup. It was too embarrassing to talk about and look Loki’s mother in the eye.

“I feel like a stalker saying that. I lied to myself for a long time about my feelings. I said I was content, but I wasn’t.” He ran his thumb along the rim of his cup. “Your son showed up at the TVA and I volunteered to interrogate because I believed his chaos would overlap with Sylvie’s chaos. Which it did. But Keepers high! I didn’t expect him to sweep me up with him.”

“You always smile when you talk about him,” Frigga said, her voice gentle.

“Yeah? I’m not surprised.” He took a sip of tea and then continued. “He’s wounded, but my Loki… when he first agreed to work with me, it wasn’t because of the power the TVA could give him, he saw what would become of his life. And he looked at me and saw me as… I guess like a hand out of that mire he felt trapped in. He was honest with me then in that moment. From that moment on, his lies to me were the most over the top nonsense I’ve ever seen, but he was more honest with me than my actual friends. Even before we were dating. We were friends and he had my heart. And I knew damn well that I could have his too. Scared the shit out of me. I didn’t want to manipulate him. I didn’t want to be one of those consequences. I wanted him to have… stability. I thought the TVA could provide that.”

“Which it didn’t,” she said.

“If it wasn’t corrupt from the core, it might have. But the concept itself is rotten. I think Loki exposes the core of everything. It’s just that the cores are mostly rotten. So yes, our living situation isn’t stable, but our relationships, and our other friendships are. Loki and Sylvie can curl up and sleep while B-15 and I have watch. We can sit there and talk about them until the sun rises, and ours Lokis will sleep as soundly as they would in an Asgardian bed… He trusts me and I would never want to break that.”

He finally looked up at met Frigga’s eyes. “I don’t care if I’m not good enough for him, or if he’s not good enough for me. We love each other, I have faith in that and I’m not letting him go.”

“I’m glad,” Frigga said. She offered him a pastry which he accepted and immediately started to eat. “You do see him. You see all of him, and you love him. I feel like I could not have asked for someone better for him.”

“Midgardian or not,” he said.

“Exactly. People have been concerned. Odd enough there are two Lokis.”

“But the one who isn’t locked up is dragging around an old human,” Mobius said. “I get it.”

“I felt certain you cared for one another. But it’s always better to check, you understand.”

“I do. I’m not offended or anything. I like knowing someone’s willing to do this for him. I would like to warn you, for your Loki. Thanos hurt them very badly. He spelled it out for me. I know he won’t want pity, but he’ll need help.”

Frigga nodded. “I thought as much. I just hoped not.” There was sadness in the curve of her shoulders, even as she held herself so proud. “I will reach out to him, and I’ll never abandon him.”

“That’s what he needs, especially more than some stranger version of me who doesn’t know him yet.”

Frigga hummed some type of agreement. “I know you’ll leave soon, but I want you to come back. When you decide to wed, have it here. And bring your other friends. I’ve always wanted a daughter.”

Mobius grinned. “I’ll bring them. We’ll try to visit even if it’s not for a wedding.”

“Well, I expect there to be a wedding eventually,” she said primly.

Mobius laughed. “I do too.”

The End