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Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff

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Come away, come away”

Thor didn’t hear his father’s reply - if any - to Loki’s desperate pleading as they hung over the void. He saw Loki’s face go blank and in that moment he knew. Thor didn’t think. Even as he called out to his brother - “Loki, no!” - he wrapped both his hands around Gungnir, moved hand over hand, and pulled. He couldn’t look away from his brother’s empty expression and dread filled his belly. Thor moved hand over hand along the staff and pulled again.  It might have taken but a moment, yet felt like years spread out across the vastness he dangled over with the knowledge he was going to lose his brother in the next breath.

Loki’s hand was empty. He’d let go of Gungnir. And all of Thor’s fingers were gripped tightly around Loki’s wrist. Gungnir fell away from them.

If his father heard Thor’s wordless cry over the buffeting winds from the destruction still crashing around them, Thor wasn’t sure. He felt a hard tug on his leg and he and Loki were slowly, carefully, lifted upward. In no time Thor found enough purchase on the remains of the Bifrost to steady himself without his father’s aid and he spread himself out flat, more than half of his torso still hanging over the edge. Thor didn’t loosen his grip on Loki as Odin knelt down next to him and reached for Loki. In the next heartbeat, Loki was there. He was rolled on his back and splayed out on the Bifrost between them. He didn’t move, save for blinking. Thor pulled himself up so he was sitting, still holding onto Loki’s wrist with one hand.

Odin sat closest to the edge of the broken Bifrost with his youngest son pulled up against him, one hand gripping Loki’s shoulder, the other wrapped around his upper arm. Thor watched them, his breath stolen at his father’s stricken face. He wondered if he saw what Thor did in the moments before Loki let go. Thor looked between his father and brother. Odin said nothing, just stared down at his son. Loki said nothing, just stared up at the stars. His relief gave way to bright, fierce rush of anger.

“What were you thinking!” Thor shouted at Loki. He wanted to stand them up so he could shake him, but settled for squeezing his wrist. “What you were thinking! How could you do that? How could you…” Thor broke off as his throat felt swollen. Loki’s face swam before him.

“Thor, enough.”

The quiet rebuke came from his father. Loki said nothing, still staring at the stars.

“Why?” Thor said, finding his voice. “Tell me why? Make me understand. Please!” He wasn’t sure who he was asking.

Odin only shook his head, not looking up.

Thor could feel the thundering hooves before he heard them. He looked down the bridge, to the city, and saw his mother riding toward them astride her horse. He could see she was not alone. Guards, on mount and on foot, were following close behind her.

Frigga reached them first, almost falling off her horse in her haste to reach them. Thor wanted to help her, but he would have to let Loki go to do so. He stayed where he was. In a rush of skirts and warm, fragrant hair his mother was at his side, one hand on his shoulder, the other folding along the side of Loki’s face. Thor resisted the sudden impulse to lay his head in her lap in a way he hadn’t since he was small.

Her initial look of relief and joy upon finding the three of them huddled together on the bridge quickly fell away as her eyes swept over them.

“What happened?” she asked. “Tell me. Odin?”

Odin didn’t look up.

“Thor?”

Thor could only stare back at her, his voice having fled him once again. She pulled her hand off his shoulder and gently brushed at his cheeks. He wondered at the moisture he saw on her fingers.

“Loki, are you all right?” she asked, turning her attention to her other son.  "Loki?“ A heartbeat. “Loki?”

Loki said nothing. He stared at the stars.


Chapter Text

Odin was crowned before he married. Being a single king with no heirs, there was pressure from the start for him to marry. His advisers were constantly pressuring him to find a wife. Every single event he attended he suffered through a non-stop parade of young females being shoved his way by their noble parents. Odin never bowed to pressure once in his life, he wasn’t about to start. He’d marry when he was good and ready.

Then one day he saw her. 

It was during a spring festival centuries into his reign that Odin Borson caught sight of the most beautiful young maiden he ever lay eyes on. And she was on the arm of his younger brother.

When they were introduced, he was polite. His brother informed him this was Frigga’s first visit to their city. She was the only daughter of a minor noble who lived on the family estate in a rural part of the realm. Her father rarely bothered to come to court and had never brought his daughter along with him. Until now. 

Frigga was now a woman and wanted to see the great city she’s grown up hearing about. If her father would not escort her himself, she would go alone. Her father relented and agreed to bring her to the upcoming spring festival. They arrived in the city the prior day and were greeted by the king’s half-brother, Vili. Frigga was excited to see more of the city right away. Vili offered to give her a brief tour. Her father allowed it and off they went. 

After spending time in each other’s company, Vili and Frigga became fast friends. Vili was quick to offer his services in introducing her to people at the festival. Frigga accepted.

Odin never hated his brother so much as he did in the moment when Vili introduced him to the beautiful woman named Frigga. Her name was as lovely as she was. Odin’s cheeks burned hot in embarrassment when he realized he said as much out loud. Vili snorted in laughter.

But Frigga. Frigga smiled at the young king and thanked him for his kind words. Odin thought her smile brighter than the mid-day sun, but wisely managed to keep that thought to himself.

Odin endured the rest of the day. He attended to his duties and absolutely did not spend much of his time watching Frigga with Vili as the two of them talked and laughed together. He most certainly did not feel the slow burn of jealousy in his gut.

The following day Odin sniped at his brother. One sharp word after another left his mouth throughout the day. Until Vili finally had enough and shot him a cool look reminiscent of their father that had Odin feeling like an unruly child.

“You truly are a fool, Odin,” Vili told him before stalking off.

There was a feast scheduled for that night, part of the spring celebrations. Odin did not want to go. He did not want to spend his night seated at the high table and looking out over a hall full of people sitting with those they loved. But he was king. To be king was to do what your people expected. 

Odin took his place at the high table. His brother’s seat at his right was empty. Odin was not looking forward to the tension that would surely be present once Vili took his place. 

Then in a moment Vili was there at his side. With Frigga on his arm. Odin’s breath caught in his throat.

“Odin, you remember Frigga I trust?”

Odin nodded, unable to speak.

“I hope you don’t mind, brother, but I was invited to sit with some old friends tonight. Frigga has most generously offered to take my place at your side so you are not bereft of company.”

Odin’s mouth opened, but no words escaped.

Frigga smiled at him again and Odin would swear he could feel the sun kissing his face.

“I hope you do not mind trading your brother’s company for mine, my lord,” she said sweetly. “I have so many questions I would ask still about your city. Vili insists there is no one better to answer my curiosity than Asgard’s king.”

Odin could only stare helplessly as Vili held out the chair for Frigga to slide into gracefully.  

“Enjoy your evening, both of you.” Vili shot Odin a look over Frigga’s head filled with exasperation. He rolled his eyes before stepping away and merging with the crowd.

“I must confess some deception, my lord,” Frigga said.

“Oh?” Odin lifted his eyebrows at her.

“Yes,” she leaned toward him, whispering in a conspiratorial tone. “I much desired the chance to speak to you again after we met at the festival. I asked Vili if I might be permitted to sit near you at the feast.”

She smiled as she finished speaking. And Odin smiled back.


Chapter Text

“Layers”

Loki pushed through the doors of his chambers on a tired exhale. A day filled with riding and sparring with Thor and his friends left him feeling drained of vigour, his muscles sore. He'd risen early and already longed for his bed. But the day was not yet over. There was still a feast ahead and his attendance was not optional. 

He crossed the airy main room to his dressing chamber. There was a basin filled with fresh water waiting for him to use. It was set out on the end of the long table Loki usually dropped his clothes on at the end of the day for the servants to clean and put away. Loki quickly unbuckled his vambraces, pulling them off and setting them down on the table. Loki moved in front of the basin, pulling off his heavy overcoat as he went and throwing it down next to his vambraces.

Loki bent over the basin and cupped his hands together as he dipped them into the cool water and brought it to his face. And then he did it once more. He sighed in relief as the refreshing liquid slid across his face and down his neck, some droplets escaping into his shirt.

Loki considered how much time he had to prepare for the feast. The dirt and sweat itched at his skin and hair. The basin of water just wasn't enough for him. It couldn't give him what he truly needed - a proper bath. Loki decided he would make the time.

He fell into the nearest chair and went to work unfastening his leather gaiters around his boots. He pulled off one, then the other, dropping them both on the floor. Loki braced his boot in the pull set in the base of the dressing table and yanked his long leg out of his boot, letting the boot fall to the floor. The second boot received the same rough treatment. Loki toed off his socks and wriggled his feet, pleased to be free of the constraints.

Loki rose to stand in front of the dressing table and began working at the rest of his clothes. Reaching around his back, he loosened the fasteners for his chest piece. Off it came. The long tunic he wore came undone at the sides and he pulled himself free of it. Down on the table it went, on top of the chest piece. Loki pulled his under shirt free of his trousers, then pulled it up and over his head, carelessly tossing it aside as it came off.

Loki's trousers did not come off easily. They were made of thick, heavy material and designed to fit him snugly. The fasteners came loose easily enough, but Loki had been sweating for the better part of the day. It took some concentrated wriggling before he was finally able to slide them slowly down his hips. Loki pushed his trousers down his legs almost to his knees before he was able to pull one leg free. The other leg soon also escaped its confines. Loki left his trousers lying out crumpled on the floor.

Standing bare in his dressing room, Loki rolled his neck, and then his shoulders. He stretched his arms over his head and arched his back, giving a pleasant hum as he gently stretched his body.

He padded across the floor to his bathing room and approached the large, sunken pool that dominated the room. He bent down low to reach the subtle console set flush into one of the floor tiles and casually slid his hand across the controls. The pool began to fill with steaming water. Loki considered the array of oils arranged on the low slung table by the pool. Selecting two of the vials - one to relax his muscles, one to refresh him - he poured each one in the rapidly rising water. Loki smiled as the fragrance filled the room.

Loki straightened just long enough to descend into the now full pool. The water felt delicious against every inch of his skin it touched. Loki sank his body into the water, setting himself on the bench that sat flush against the tiled wall. Sitting, the water almost reached his chin. Loki closed his eyes and sighed in deep satisfaction as he settled himself against the pool wall.

Perfect. He didn't care if he was late to the feast.


Chapter Text

"Loki, stop following me!"

"M'not."

"You are. Stop it. Go to the nursery."

"M'not."

"I said stop!"

"No."

Thor stomped off in a huff. Loki followed him as quickly as his little legs could carry him. All the way to their mother's sitting room.

"Mother," Thor complained loudly as soon as he was through the door. "Loki won't stop following me. Make him stop."

"M'not."

Thor whirled on him. "You are so! You have been all morning."

"No."

Frigga smiled at the sight of her sons. She set aside the book she was reading and turned in her chair to face them.

"I take it you do not desire your little brother's company?"

Thor heaved a great sigh, as though he were carrying all the woes of the universe upon his skinny shoulders.

"I want to go out to the training yards and watch the practice drills today. Father said it was all right as long as I stayed out of the warriors' way. But I can't very well take him," Thor pointed an accusatory finger at his small, dark haired shadow. "Babies don't belong at the training yards. And he will not leave me alone so I can go!"

"I see," Frigga nodded and turned to her youngest, bending over to put herself closer to his level. "Well, my treasure, is this true? Are you bothering your brother?"

"M'not. Want S'or," Loki explained in his babyish lisp.

"You see!" Thor threw his arms outward in a pleading motion. "He's driving me mad."

Loki giggled.

Frigga laughed as she reached out to scoop Loki up and place him in her lap.

"Yes, I see." She ran a hand across the top of his head, smoothing down the soft curls while Loki squirmed. He finally settled into a satisfactory spot with his back to the arm of her chair, leaning sideways into his mother's warmth with a sigh of contentment.

"I think you are safe to escape to the practice grounds now, my love. Your brother will stay here with me."

Thor eyed Loki suspiciously. "Thank you, Mother."

"Of course. Have a nice time and remember to stay well out of the way."

"I know," Thor said impatiently. "Father has already told me this."

She arched an eyebrow at her eldest son. "And now I'm telling you. Stay out of the way. Be polite to anyone who speaks to you. Do not distract the warriors from their work. Do not touch the swords. They are for warriors and their students. Not curious little boys."

Thor lowered his eyes, chastened. "Yes, Mother."

"Come." She held out the hand that wasn't wrapped around Loki. Thor rushed forward to give her quick hug and accept her peck on his cheek before turning to hurry out of the room, anxious to get to the grounds so he could find a good spot to watch morning drills.

Frigga turned her attention to Loki. "Well, my little treasure, how shall we spend our time together?"

Loki looked up at her wide-eyed and guileless. "S'or."

She laughed and hugged him. "I'm afraid you will have to settle for me, sweetling. How about we read together, hmm?"

She repositioned her arm so it went around Loki, freeing up her hand so she could use both to hold the book across their laps. She pressed a kiss to Loki's sweet smelling curls before laying her cheek against his head and began to read.


Chapter Text

Something woke him.

Thor lay still, blinking slowly, still clinging to the edge of sleep. Wondering what roused him from his slumber. 

He was about to close his eyes and let himself drift back to his dreams when he heard it.

Sniffling.

He sat upright silently, shifting to listen. It was nearby. Thor scanned his bed chamber. He saw no one. Not even in the empty bed on the other side of the room.

Thor climbed out of bed and pulled on a pair of soft, knit pants quickly. He tied them at the waist as he padded slowly through, tracking the noise.

It was coming from within the closet.

Thor paused at the door, unsure of what to do. Unsure if Loki would welcome attention when he clearly had gone to lengths to be hidden. He tapped at the door gently. “Loki? Brother, are you well?”

“Go away,” came the watery reply.

Thor sighed and pulled the closet door open. When his eyes adjusted to the deeper darkness of the closet, he spied Loki curled up into himself against a wall. Loki peered up at him for a moment, before burying his head into the arms folded around his knees. His shoulders shook as he continued to sob. 

Thor knelt carefully next to him on the carpeted floor. Folded himself in half to sit in the cramped space next to where Loki sat. Laid a hand over the back of Loki’s neck. As always, marveling at how very small his brother was now.

“What’s wrong?” he asked quietly. 

Loki said nothing. His sniffles continued.

Thor moved his hand to rub Loki’s back.

“Did you dream badly?” Thor tried again.

“Yes,” came the choked response.

“What about?”

Loki shuddered under his hand.

“You can tell me, it’s all right.”

Loki said nothing at first. Thor continued his gentle ministrations. Soon Loki took a deep, shaky breath.

“I hurt you. I was hurting you.”

“It was just a dream,” Thor assured him.

“It wasn’t!” Loki wailed. “I was remembering. I hurt you. I hurt you so much. I did that. I don’t want to hurt you!”

In the next breath Loki was sobbing once more. And in the next, Thor was reaching for him with both hands. Scooping up his child of a brother and setting him in Thor’s lap. Loki’s stiffened, but still he cried. Thor wrapped his arms around him.

“Hush,” Thor said, stroking Loki’s hair. “It was not your doing. Those things are not for you to carry as burden. I hold against you no ill will. Only what you do now matters.”

“But what if I become him again?” Loki asked. “What if I hurt you again? How could you ever forgive me?”    

“I could forgive you such things in the future as I forgave them in the past. We may fight, we may be angry with each other. Perhaps we might hate each other at times. But you are my brother, Loki. Never doubt that I love you.”

Thor hummed and rocked his brother for the time it took for Loki to calm and drift off to sleep. Once Loki was sleeping in his arms, Thor rose from the floor and carried him back to bed.

 

Chapter Text

They didn’t speak as Loki helped Ronan into his armour. Loki made short work of the fasteners, having done them up - and removed them - enough times he needed no direction. Ronan watched him as he worked his way down Ronan’s side, then ran his hand back up the way it came to ensure the armour was well in place. Ronan caught Loki’s hand in his when it reached his chest, pulling it to his mouth to press a kiss in Loki’s palm.

“I do not want to leave you,” he said, his voice so low Loki had to strain to hear him even standing so near.

“Lucky for you I will still be here upon your return,” Loki teased.

A smile hinted at Ronan’s lips as he studied Loki intently. Loki waited for him to work through what was troubling his mind. It had taken him long to learn Ronan was not one who took well to being pushed into speaking his thoughts. It had taken Loki even longer to learn to stop pushing.

Their morning had started pleasant as they lazed in their bed, tangled in the sheets and each other before relucantly pulling away from each other long enough to find one another again in their bath. After bathing, among other things, Loki pulled on a lightweight robe before beginning the lenghty task of helping Ronan prepare for battle. A stab of resentment still worked its way through his gut at being left behind, but Loki accepted his place at Ronan’s side did not always extend to Kree battlefields. Ronan understood his feelings and when he returned - and he would return - they would make a point of venturing out where they could indulge in whatever adventure they could find together.

Loki prepared himself to step away when Ronan’s hand tightened on his and pulled him closer. Pressed up against Ronan’s body so closely Loki could swear he could hear Ronan’s heartbeat even through the armor, Loki had to tilt his chin up a fraction to look into Ronan’s face. His breath quickened at the love he saw there looking back at him.

“Loki,” Ronan said quietly. “Child of Odin and Frigga. Child of Asgard, born of Jotunheim. Child of the Nine Realms and Yggdrasil.”

Loki’s heart tripped a beat before it began to beat faster. His mouth parted as he held Ronan’s gaze, feeling hynotized by his words. The old, familiar urge to run away, to speak flippantly, to strike out rose without warning. Loki ruthlessly pushed it away as Ronan continued to speak.

“Long have I looked upon you and seen my chosen, yet I have been a fool to never speak it aloud for fear you did not feel the same.” Ronan smiled softly, his expression growing light and as carefree as Loki ever saw him. “I have no wish to continue being a fool. When I return victorious I will prepare a petition to send to your family, and I regret to tell you you will have to come with me to speak with my mother.”

Loki wondered if he smiled at that, but he was aware of nothing but the beating of his heart with Ronan’s and words Ronan spoke.

“Loki, will you do me the honour of being my chosen? Will you be by my side from now until the stars rend themselves and the universe darkens into nothing?”

Loki stared at Ronan’s hopeful face, willing him to speak. His lips parted with no words coming out. Their heartbeats continued in tune with each other. Ronan’s expression turned unreadable. He stirred as if to pull away and Loki could not bear it. He surged forward to press his mouth against Ronan’s and wrapped his arms around him as tightly as he could with Ronan’s armour in his way.

When he pulled away enough to breathe, Loki found his voice again. He smiled with all the love and affection he had for this impossibly maddening warrior Loki found himself wrapped around.

“Yes,” Loki said. “Yes, I will. The honour would be mine.”  

 

Chapter Text

Father, please. The void tore at him. His lungs bursting in his chest, heart pounding in his ears. Death seemed less and less the answer as time tormented his mind and body. His magic strained, coursing through his being to drip away and fade into nothing.

Fade into nothing. Loki wasn’t so lucky.

Father, I’m sorry. Help me.

Loki fell.

*   *   *

Mother.

So much feeling where there hadn’t been before. Loki had forgotten what it was like to be so aware of one’s own skin.

Helpless as a newborn, he flailed on the ground. Trying to remember how to master his own limbs. Misery stabbed at his ears, his eyes. The ground he lay upon tasted like ash.

If he could get up, look around, remember to see, perhaps he would know where he was. Perhaps he could remember where he should be.

Mother, I am lost. Please find me.

*   *   *

Thor.

Loki remembered pain.

Thanos made sure of it.

Loki remembered how to scream.

The Chitauri’s leader made sure of it.

Loki remembered how to bleed.

The Chitauri made sure of it.

Brother, please.

*   *   *

No one answered.

 

Chapter Text

Thor woke from a fitful sleep to a familiar weight next to him. He rolled over to find Loki stretched out atop the blanket. Propped up with every pillow on the bed save the one beneath Thor’s head, Loki was already dressed and groomed for the day. Legs crossed at the ankle, he didn’t look up from the book in his lap as Thor moved beside him.

It was hardly the first time Thor awoke to the sight of his younger brother lounging on Thor’s bed as though it were his own. Especially if they had plans together that day. Thor never heard Loki enter his chambers, nor felt him rearrange Thor’s bedding to satisfy his own comfort. He would just awake, and Loki would be there.

Thor smiled at the sight. Wanted to reach up and tousle Loki’s perfectly arranged hair. He didn’t move. Loki ignored him.

*   *   *

Thor hurried into the palace stables to get his horse. His friends were already outside waiting for him. It would be good for you to get some fresh air, they’d insisted when they found him earlier sitting in the visitor’s chair next to Loki’s desk, watching Loki write. Thor’s mother had been with them. She agreed it would be good and sent Thor on his way.

Loki was already there. Standing in front of the closed stall that held his horse, stroking the animal’s neck gently. The horse’s tack still hooked up on the wall nearby. Thor crossed the wooden flooring to where his own horse stood waiting, saddled and ready for his rider. Loki didn’t acknowledge him.

Thor gripped his horse’s reins and led him out of the stables to the waiting party of riders. Behind him, Loki’s horse made a mournful sound.

Thor didn’t look back.

*   *   *

Thor picked at his food. Dining with his parents in their private hall had become a regular occurrence as of late. None of them had much enthusiasm for feasts.

Loki sat across from him in his usual place. He wasn’t eating anything either.

His parents exchanged a look across the table.

“Thor,” his mother began, “how are you faring?”

Thor shrugged.

“It’s just…” she trailed off, giving Odin a helpless look. “Your father and I, we’re concerned about you.”

“I’m fine,” Thor mumbled, shoving a forkful of food in his mouth. It didn’t taste like anything.

Loki was staring out the open balcony doors to his left. Thor watched his brother so he didn’t have to see the looks their parents were giving him and each other.

“My son,” Odin set aside his napkin and pushed his own almost full plate away. “It is not our right nor our intention to tell you how to grieve. But your mother and I are worried. It seems to us you yourself have stopped living.”

“I’m all right,” Thor repeated. “May I be excused?” He pushed back his chair and rose to his feet without waiting for their leave.

He went around the table, cutting through Loki’s line of sight on his way out of the room. Loki didn’t blink, still staring out the open doors. Staring out at the broken bifrost.  

 

Chapter Text

“You careless fool!” Fists clenched at his sides, Loki advanced on Thor in a rage heedless of how Thor’s features were darkening with anger. “Is your own glory so important that you would see us all dead before withdrawing from battle?”

Nearby Fandral winced and looked away. Sif made a motion to intervene before Volstagg touched her arm lightly and shook his head. Her mouth tightened in an unhappy line, but she remained clear of the argument. Hogun turned his back on them all and was seeing to their horses. It had been a near miss for them all. Now safely away from the marauders they’d inadvertently encountered on their hunting trip, reaction was setting in.

“How dare you say that to me!” Anyone else seeing Thor bear down on them as he was on Loki would have taken several rapid steps back. Loki stood his ground.

“How dare I? How dare I!” Loki cried. “I am only grateful to still be able to speak, not lying in the mud bleeding through a slit throat because my arrogant, glory hound of a brother left my back exposed so he could charge on ahead.”

Thor’s face turned crimson at the accusation. “Perhaps if you had fought better you would not need me at your back to defend you at every turn,” he shot back hotly.

Loki jerked back as if Thor had struck him. All four of their friends turned to gape at them. Anyone else who dared accuse Loki of being a poor fighter would undoubtedly end up with one of his daggers in their throat.

Thor immediately looked abashed. “I did not mean that,” he said without hesitation. “I only meant…”

“Oh, I think I know exactly what you meant,” Loki spoke with dangerous calm. “Dear brother,” he added, his calm slipping as venom bled into his voice.

“Loki…” Thor reached for him. Loki sidestepped him and turned away.

They rode back to Asgard in silence.

Chapter Text

Thor's head ached.

He pulled himself upright with a groan, almost falling right back over in the opposite direction before slapping a hand down on the ground to keep himself steady. Ears ringing, Thor gave his head a shake. It didn't help. Looking around, he saw concrete and metal and debris everywhere. He stared in confusion for a long moment, wondering what had happened, before he heard a soft moan nearby. In a flash it all came rushing back.

Looking for father. New York. Confronting Hela. Mjolnir. An explosion.

Loki!

"Loki," in a heartbeat Thor was on his feet, trying to look in every direction at once. "Loki!" Thor searched with his hands, tossing aside broken pieces of the alleyway that blew apart in the wake of Mjolnir's destruction.

Another groan, louder, and Thor spotted a slight shifting in a large pile of debris shoved against the still-intact wall of a nearby building. Among the debris was one of the large metal containers the mortals used to collect their refuse. It was tilted on its side against the wall. Thor took hold of the container, picking it up and flipping it upside down. A few large, plastic bags spilled out from one corner of the opening. Thor frowned at the metal box and gave it a hard shake. This time both of the flaps on top came open and bag after bag of foul smelling refuse came tumbling out of the mouth of the container.

As did his brother.  

The language that came out of Loki's mouth just then was far fouler than the bags he landed in.

In spite of everything, Thor smiled.

He set the metal container aside. "Are you all right?" Thor grabbed handfuls of the plastic bags and tossed them aside before holding out his hand.

Loki hesitated before taking Thor's hand and using the offered leverage to pull himself to his feet. "That depends."

"On what?"

"If that was truly who I think it was. And if I did see her destroy Mjolnir with her bare hands."

"You saw truly," Thor said. He had trouble believing it himself. No matter what had happened in Asgard between Loki and their father, Hela should never have been able to get free. It wasn't possible. And yet, pieces of a hammer forged in a dying star lay somewhere further down the alleyway.

Thor's heart ached for Mjolnir.

"Then no," Loki said carefully. "I am not all right."

Thor nodded. Though he was glad for Loki's help in searching for Odin, he was still angry with him for his deception. Every time he looked at his brother, Thor had difficulty reconciling Loki being alive and at his side. Not when Thor could still so clearly see Loki's death in his minds-eye.

Not when Thor still had nightmares of that day on Svartalfheim. Of Loki bleeding his life's blood into the dirt. Of leaving his brother's body behind.

To know Loki survived. Somehow. Survived and beat Thor back to Asgard in time to usurp Odin's throne and send Thor away with a false father's praise ringing in his ears - well. Thor was not yet ready to forgive, no matter how grateful he was to have Loki back.

But this was not the time. Not when so great an enemy has emerged to challenge them.

Thor took a step closer to Loki, who was busy brushing off his clothes with his nose wrinkled in distaste. Not all the refuse inside the metal box had been been inside the plastic bags and Loki always hated being messy, even as a child. Hesitantly, Thor clasped a hand on the side of Loki's neck. Loki's head jerked up, startled. Staring at Thor with wide-eyes. But he didn't pull away. Thor gave his neck a small pat.

"Come, Brother. Let us find father quickly and return home. Then we will go about putting the Mistress Death back where she belongs. Together."

Loki stared at him. "That's all you have to say?"

Thor thought about it. "All will be well?" he offered with a straight face.

Loki’s mouth twisted like he tasted something vile. Though, given where he’d just been, Thor thought it was a possibility. 

"Wonderful,” Loki said. “Because your simplistic stupidity is sure to win us the day."

"Better than your need to make everything needlessly - and maddeningly - complicated," Thor said mildly, refusing to let Loki needle him into an argument.

Loki's mouth flattened in an unhappy line.  "Must you always be so irritatingly optimist?"

Thor smiled, wide and true. "One of us must be."

 

Chapter Text

The Grandmaster couldn’t believe he’d lost. He never lost. But he lost. To Loki. How could this happen? The Grandmaster was older than dirt. He knew every game, had every advantage. But still he lost. At Twister.

Who could have guessed Loki was so flexible?

The Grandmaster flipped the Twister mat, stomping it with his foot. Loki sat nearby, still stunned by his win.

“Did I win the game?” he asked.

“Oh, shut up!” the Grandmaster snapped. He hated those who bragged about their wins. 

The Grandmaster stomped and hissed once, twice, three times around the room. He finished his sulk and came to stand before Loki.

“You have won. What do you claim as your prize?”

Loki blinked up at him, as if it only just dawned that he needed to name the to-be-named prize they’d agreed upon before the Twister mat was laid out. He looked around him, taking in the opulent comforts that surrounded him in the Grandmaster’s suite. 

“Hmm,” Loki tapped his finger to his mouth. “You know, I’ll have to give it some thought. Perhaps some wine in the meantime?” Loki gathered himself to feet and made his way to the nearest overstuffed sofa. He stifled a groan as his body melted into its cushiony surface. He held back another groan of appreciation when he took his first sip of wine, the rich flavour dancing along his tongue.

“And some of those chocolates. And some pastries. And those crunchy things…what did you call them?”

“Sugar cookies,” the Grandmaster said glumly as he carried over a plate of his favorite delicacies to share. 

“Mmmm,” was Loki’s only reply as he shoved sugar cookie after sugar cookie into his mouth, washing them down with another sip of wine.

The Grandmaster tapped his foot. “Well? What about your prize? I suppose you want me to free your brother, Thor?”

Loki popped a chocolate covered salted caramel into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. “I’ve not yet decided. I will not be rushed.” Loki eyed the Grandmaster’s silk robe. “Tell me, have you any more of those? In green perhaps?”

While the Grandmaster left the suite in search of a green silk robe, Loki swung his feet up on the couch. He refilled his wine, propped the tray of sweets on his lap, and leaned back in contentment. 

He’d earned this.

 

Chapter Text

As strange as it was to hear Prince Loki giggling during Thor’s coronation, it was far weirder when Thor stood up - just before Odin proclaimed him king - and hurled his hammer at the man standing next to his younger brother. 

No one knew what to make of the Grandmaster. He just showed up the day before yesterday. Claimed he was just passing through the galaxy and wanted the chance to pay his respects to Asgard’s new king. Odin welcomed the so-called Elder of the Universe with a welcoming smile and a clenched jaw. 

In the days before the coronation the Grandmaster was everywhere. And usually Loki was with him. Loki walked at his side, smiling and giggling as if he’d never had such a delightful companion. The returning indulgent looks the Grandmaster gave Asgard’s second son were heated, almost obscene. 

The citizens of Asgard found it all very unnerving.

But apparently not as unnerving as Thor.

The coronation erupted into shouts and cries as the Grandmaster took flight after taking a chest full of Mjolnir. Loki looked at his brother aghast before hurrying to the Grandmaster’s side and helping him back up.

Mjolnir took flight again, this time landing firmly in Odin’s hand as he glared ferociously at his heir.

“Well,” the Grandmaster laughed. “I guess he told me.” He leaned in closer to Loki, but still speaking loud enough to be heard by those close by. “Pardon my wandering hands, young prince. I always did find standing still for long speeches to be terribly dull.”

Thor growled and thunder rolled in the distance. The citizenry of Asgard began a careful retreat toward the exits.

“Thor! Enough!” Odin snapped, stalking down the steps of the dais. Frigga at his heels. The king and queen made their way to the Grandmaster.

“I apologize for my son’s actions,” Odin said stiffly. “There is no excuse to treat any guest of ours so shamefully.

Thor hurried over to stand nearby. “Father, he was - !”

“I said enough!” Odin silenced Thor mid-sentence with a glare. Foolish boy, thinking he couldn’t see exactly what Thor saw. And as soon as Thor was crowned and Odin no longer wore the burden of kingship, he had fully intended to deal with the matter as only a father should. Now those plans were ruined.

“No harm done,” the Grandmaster offered magnanimously. “Though, I do feel a little under the weather. No pun intended,” he said with a sharp smile directed at Thor. “Perhaps I should retire to my guest quarters and rest.”

“Of course!” Loki said with a bright smile. “I’d be happy to escort you.”

“Maybe a little company wouldn’t go amiss, hmm?” The Grandmaster’s smarmy smile brought more growls.

Not by Thor. Odin blinked with surprise at his queen wife.

With a fixed smile, Frigga glided smoothly into place at the Grandmaster’s other side. “What a fine idea! Let’s get you settled into your rooms. Loki and I would be only too happy to accompany you and see you settled in. Then we can all sit, have some tea, and talk for a while. A friendly chat, so we get to know one another. That would be nice, wouldn’t it my darling?”

“Yes, mother,” Loki muttered, his earlier enthusiasm bleeding away.

The Grandmaster suddenly looked like he’d swallowed a turnip whole. He shook free of mother and son. “You know what? I’m suddenly feeling much better. Thank you for your kind offer, but I can find my own way from here.”

The royal family - minus the sons - saw their honoured guest away with bright, fake smiles. When the Grandmaster disappeared from view, the parents turned on their children. Each seizing a son by his ear, Odin and Frigga led their errant offspring away, quickly vanishing behind closed doors.

Out on the Bifrost Observatory, Heimdall the Watchman heaved a great sigh. Never a dull moment in the House of Odin. He didn’t get paid enough for this.

Chapter Text

Some days it was difficult living with Ronan.

Most of the time it was wonderful. Ronan was attentive and loving. Loki had never been so worshipped by a lover. He liked it. He liked it very much. And Ronan was generous. No other companion had ever gifted Loki with his own ship to decorate as he saw fit before. A ship to call his own, so he could have a space that was just his. A place to retreat in case he ever felt crowded aboard The Dark Aster. It was a lovely gesture. Loki had thanked Ronan for it repeatedly.

And lasciviously.

But as much as Loki cared for him, he couldn’t deny that at times Ronan could be…extreme.

Only days ago, they’d visited a planet together. Their hosts had been welcoming, if a little skittish at the sight of Ronan. He and his soldiers followed Loki through marketplace after marketplace while Loki shopped, never uttering a word of complaint. When Ronan sent his men and Loki’s purchases away so he and Loki could enjoy a meal together in a local eatery, it had seemed like the cap to a perfect day.

Then Loki tasted the wine.

The wine was glorious. Unlike anything he’d ever tasted. Better then the finest elvish wines of Alfheim. Loki complimented the wine and requested information from the server as to how to purchase some to take with him. Soon their table was visited by the eatery’s owner who apologetically explained that the wine was under strict trade protections. It could not be purchased and transported off world. No exceptions.

Loki was undeterred. He tried flattery, bribery. The owner promised the decision was not his to make. Then Ronan stood up and threatened him. The owner lost all colour in his grey-ish skin. He begged forgiveness. It was trade protection imposed by their government, he said, speaking so quickly Loki could hardly understand him, and that it wasn’t his fault, please don’t kill him!

Loki promised he understood, sending the man away while coaxing Ronan back into his chair with a firm hand on his arm. Loki was already planning to find one of the vineyards and steal some of the wine anyway. He only needed to wait for night to fall upon this region. He was looking forward to it.

But when the time came to sneak back to the planet’s surface, Loki found Ronan in the midst of conquering it for their disrespect. When it was over, half the planet was in a smoking ruin and Loki found all the vineyards had been destroyed.

Their ensuing argument had been terrible. Ronan called Loki ungrateful. Loki had called Ronan much, much worse.

And so Loki flew away in a huff aboard The Wandering Path. The crew, all personally selected by Ronan, studiously minded their posts, paying no mind to their ship’s master’s foul mood. Loki paced the gilded halls, stared moodily into the decorative water fountains, kicked the occasional beaded throw pillow, before finally settling into his seat on the flight deck, flanked by a statue of his mother.

Loki wondered how he ended up with a man who lacked the instinctive desire to sneak into a place and steal something he wanted when it was denied to him? No, it was all conquer this, conquer that. How was that any fun?

“Master Loki,” the helm priestess addressed him for the first time since Loki ordered them to break away from The Dark Aster.

“Yes?” Loki examined his nails. They were a mess. He’d been so busy fighting with Ronan, he missed his daily nail appointment. A gift from Ronan. Now that he thought of it, he missed his hair appointment too. Another gift. He’d forgotten both attendants aboard The Dark Aster. Damn.

“We’re approaching a planet. I would advise a course change.”

“Why? Is the planet dull?” The galaxy seemed to be full of the things. Dull little worlds populated by dull little mortals. Ugh.

The helm priestess exchanged glances with the priestess next to her. “No, Master Loki. It’s just that…this world. It’s to be avoided.”

Loki bristled. “By whose order?”

“Master Ronan’s.”

“Well, Ronan isn’t the Master here, is he?” Loki snapped. “What is this place? What’s so special about it?”

Another exchange of glances. “It is Sakaar, Master,” the other priestess answered for her sister. “A strange world. Run by a strange creature.”

“Strange - how?”

“They call him the Grandmaster,” the first priestess said. “He’s said to have another name, but few are old enough to remember it.”

“And what does this Grandmaster do that Ronan will not travel to this place?”

“He…” the helm priestess seemed a loss for words.

“He runs games, Master Loki,” again her sister answered for her. “Games and tournaments. He is a frivolous creature. Decadent. Some say he takes nothing seriously. But others say he is cruel and temperamental. Sakaar is a dangerous world. It is best to avoid it.”

But Loki was already perking up. Games? Frivolity? If there was danger, that only made it all the more interesting.

“Set a direct course for Sakaar,” Loki commanded.

“But, Master…” the helm priestess found her voice.

“I will judge Sakaar for myself,” Loki said haughtily. “I think I would like to meet this Grandmaster. He sounds intriguing.” Loki sat back in his seat with a smile. A week or two exploring a new place. It would be just enough time before Ronan came looking for him.

This will be such fun!

 

Chapter Text

these days are fast (nothing lasts)

 

"This isn't what I expected."

"What did you expect?"

Loki shook his head. "Not this."

This being one dizzying reality-loop after another. A trap set for them by persons unknown that they'd stupidly blundered straight into. Too busy quarreling with one another to see the danger lurking. Waiting. A search for Odin that plunged them into a nightmarish cycle of watching imitations of themselves fleeing from one bizarre future after another.

One saw the death of Odin in a field that unleashed an unknown sister upon them. A bloodthirsty tyrant trapped only by the will of Odin's life force. One so terrible and infamous, yet somehow Loki could recall no mention of her in all the histories of all the worlds he'd ever read in his lifetime. One that could so easily shatter Mjolnir and bring Asgard to its knees. But no left no trace in any page of history. Any art. Any oral record. Any living memory of an elder. It defied reality. But this was the nature of this nightmare. It was not steeped in any reality.

Yet it was.

Thor and Loki watched strange shades of themselves fleeing this Hela. Saw themselves flung to the end of the known universe and the world of a madcap tyrant. Finding a lost beast and a lone Valkyrie. Then escaping with ease through a giant portal that transported them conveniently to Asgard's doorstep, arriving just in time to facilitate Asgard's very destruction.

All Thor's friends dead, and yet he didn't seem to notice. Even Loki's play dedicated to his own life felt more real.

But the loops kept changing.

In one, they were set upon by an unknown force in an alleyway upon Midgard. A power that flung them about like ragdolls before imprisoning them a far off place. Forcing them to work together to free themselves and find a way home. A trip home that never ended.

One loop saw Thanos come in search of the Tesseract. He found it and Loki. Thor died quickly. Loki could only wish for death. All the realms burned in the end.

In another, their search for Odin upon Midgard was fruitless. Heimdall could find no trace of him in any realm. Thor's attempts to enlist the aid of his friends ended in failure as he found the Avengers divided and in disarray. Between the brothers, it was the work of moments to smash through some militarized mortals attempt to capture them. They returned to Asgard without Odin and endless arguments before finally going their separate ways. They never saw each other again.

There was a turn where Thor never came home. As years passed, Loki could no longer stand the not knowing and went out in search of him. When Odin found his own way back to Asgard, neither of his sons were present. Theories abounded as to whatever became of Asgard's princes as the House of Odin quietly faded into history.

One saw the creature Hela escape from a prison she'd been bound in by the blood of Odin's ancestors so long ago the story of her faded into myth. But the myth became a deadly reality. Again the brothers were sent to the far reaches of the universe. Again they were forced to work together to find their way free. The trip home took years. Years in which they relearned what it was to be brothers and forged their relationship anew. As true equals, but without either sacrificing his sense of self.

By the time they returned to the Nine, Hela had rampaged through realm after realm. Midgard was in ruins. As was Alfheim. Vanaheim was fighting and losing badly. Asgard had sealed itself off against her, having learned its lesson after the business with Malekith and Laufey. Thor rallied the remaining forces of the realms to march against the Goddess of Death. When he fell, so did she. And Loki was left alone.

He didn't last long after that.

Loop after loop playing out one thread of the future after another. As if the Norns could not decide what colour to choose next in the weaving of reality.

Then they were searching for Odin again. Years of pent-up anger and hurt spilled out while they searched. The brothers argued. They fought. Inflicting wound after wound upon one another with words and fists. They accidentally leveled part of a small Midgardian town with the force of their anger. They repaired the damage the best they could before departing ahead of mortal forces intent on attempting to capture them. Loki set spells upon them that set their minds alight with confusion and fear, setting off another fight with Thor. This time they found a spot devoid of mortals before they began tearing into each other.

When they finally found Odin, he was waiting for them. Waiting right from the start. Watching over them, letting them argue and fight. Letting them burn through their anger. Waiting for them to be ready to start over.

Waiting for them to find a new path to walk together.

Waiting for his sons to return, side by side. As they once did. As he believed they always would.

Waiting to ensure they would be well. Waiting to say goodbye.

They would. He did.

Now the future lies ahead.

Unwritten.

 

Chapter Text

lies (cover me in fine lines)

 

He escaped death. Again. Loki wondered if that was some kind of record, and if so, who was keeping the score?

He evaded the scavengers crawling through the mountains of refuse dotting the landscape with ease. A touch of magic allowed him to pass them unnoticed. And if any did notice? Well. Loki wasn't the sort to approach armed strangers with an outstretched hand and a friendly smile. That was more...

Thor.

Loki ruthlessly ignored the savage ache in his heart. An ache present when he awoke amidst the piles of garbage in this strange place. An ache that only grew as Loki realized Thor was not with him. An ache he grew more determined to suppress as time passed and he did not find Thor.

And Loki knew what it meant.

Thor was dead.

Hela's attack sent Loki careening out of the Bifrost, shoving him headlong into the familiar void of space before he tumbled (falling) through a rip that landed him in this unknown territory. Loki had been to worst places. Alone. And here he was alone still.

No Thor. No Asgard.

No Odin.

Loki doubled over, bracing his hands on his knees, as all the air in his lungs left him all at once. Choking, forgetting how to breathe as a wave of despair and grief engulfed him.

Odin was dead. Thor was dead. Asgard was lost.

Everyone, everything, Loki ever loved was gone.

Years he told himself - and anyone who would listen - how he didn't care for Odin. That he wasn't his father. I love you, my sons. Loki discovered lies he told to himself hurt no less than the ones told to him by others.

Asgard. Pretending to be its king with no plan going forward than to delight in his victory, but over the years Loki rediscovered his home. Sliding back into his heart with its beauty and warmth and joy for living. Loki couldn't delude himself that Hela would leave it stand.

And Thor. So much hurt. So much anger. Why did the thought of never seeing him again steal Loki's breath away?

Loki wondered how it could still hurt so much to lose everything. Again.

Lies ripped away leaving Loki wandering alone and dancing out of death's reach. He was almost used to it. But not Thor. Thor in his last moments, listening while Odin tore away everything he thought he knew.

My first born.

His whole world sliding away from beneath his feet while he could only listen and do nothing to stop it.

Laufey's son.

Even Thor's weapon wasn't his. Mjolnir. Indestructible. Lying in pieces on the cold ground, so close to the place Odin left them. Alone. To deal with her.

It wasn't fair.

Loki knew the feeling of betrayal already. Was well acquainted with the shivering crawl along his spine, the rolling of his stomach in response to words spoken by the man he called Father. Lies falling away, letting the truth shine through, burning him to the core.

But not Thor. Not Asgard's golden son. Stronger and better than all the rest. Who barely had a chance to grieve his loss, never mind learn how to reforge himself, before the end. Before Hela. Before Odin's final lie rose up to destroy them all.

Except Loki.

Because Loki survived. That truth was the hard, sharp edge for him to reshape himself. Again.

Alone.

 

Chapter Text

destiny still arrives

 

It was dark out when Steve blinked himself awake. The bedside clock read 3am. The room was still, quiet. Steve burrowed deeper under the covers, intent on going back to sleep, when he realized what woke him.

There was an absence of warmth next to him.

An arm reaching over to the empty spot told Steve what he already knew. In the next breathe he was upright and climbing out of bed. He was alone in the darkened bedroom. A hint of light peaked under the bottom of the closed door. Steve pulled on a pair of sleep pants as he crossed the room, intent on seeking the source of that light.

The rest of the apartment was plunged in darkness, except for one dim light coming from a table lamp next to the couch. The couch was empty. The window seat behind it was not.

Steve approached the lone figure curled up next to the window carefully from the side, keeping in full view. A stab of worry twisted in his gut.

"Hey," he said, voice gentle. "What's wrong?"

His forehead pressed against the glass, Loki said nothing. Just stared out at the night.

"You okay?" Steve tried again.

Loki still didn't speak.

Steve's worry ramped up. Loki didn't have a nightmare. Steve was sure of it. He was pretty well tuned in to the signs of nightmares by now. This was something different. Maybe something worse, maybe not. Maybe something that had the potential of sending Steve flying across the room and slamming into a wall before everything was said and done.

That was never fun for either of them.

Cautious against startling Loki out of a bad head space, Steve reached out nice and slow. Fingertips only touching Loki's arm first, before reaching up for shoulder. His hand settled, fingers splayed across Loki's bare skin. Steve gave him a gentle squeeze.

"Loki?"

Loki blinked.

Steve shuffled a little closer, playing his thumb along the soft skin at the base of Loki's neck. "Loki," he said. "It's okay. I'm here. Come back."

A few more blinks. A few more reassuring strokes of his thumb. "It's okay," Steve repeated. He kept his voice low. Comforting. Letting Loki find his way back to him at his own pace. "It's okay."

And then Loki was lifting his head away from the cold glass and leaning back into Steve. "I'm all right. Go back to bed."

Steve smiled in spite of himself. "Not without you."

"I couldn't sleep. I didn't want to wake you."

"Want to talk about it?"

"What is there to say?"

"Whatever you feel like saying," Steve said. It had taken them a long time to get to this place. Loki refusing to talk. Steve trying not to push. Both of them frustrated with themselves and each other.

Loki closed his eyes at that. "I didn't have a nightmare," he promised.

Steve nodded, this much he knew. "Okay."

"I know where I am."

"That's good." It was. There'd been many instances over the years of Loki awakening and falling into a panic because he didn't recognize his surroundings. Or the people in it.

"I remember what's real," Loki spoke with reassurance. Steve wasn't sure which of them he was trying to reassure. "I was just...lost in thought. I suppose."

Steve slid his hand around the back of Loki's neck, moving it in small circles. Loki make a small humming sound in response and leaned more into him.

They were still figuring out the effects of the Mind Stone on Loki. Still feeling their way through the dicey situations that still arose in those moments when Loki's mind turned on him and came up fighting. Everyone an enemy to battle. Or to hide from.

It all had something to do with how Loki's magic affected the Stone and vice versa. Thor tried to explain it as his father, Odin, had explained it to him. Steve suspected a lot was lost in the translation. Best as he could make out, with Loki filling in blanks whenever he was able, the Mind Stone reached back on its user, sensing magic and trying to absorb it. Loki insisted his defences against such a thing trying to take his magic were strong, but against a power like an Infinity Stone, he had little way of shielding himself. Yet his magic kept trying to defend him.

It was like Loki and the Stone were caught in a feedback loop with one another. When Loki lost possession of the sceptre which held the stone, the connection was broken. But the damage was done.

Which is why Loki still had days when he believed Steve was his enemy. When he believed his parents were dead and it was his fault. When he believed he had burned Asgard to ashes. When he believed Thanos had come and killed them all.

When he woke up weeping in the belief Steve was dead at his hand.

Dealing with the consequences of the Stone's effects on Loki was like stepping through a minefield. Asgard had tried their hand at healing him only for it to backfire spectacularly, with Loki constructing a belief that everyone he knew was dead and were now angry spirits come to torment him. 

Thor had brought him to Earth in the hope Loki might fare better somewhere he didn't think everyone was dead and haunting him. And he did. But only marginally.

Once back on Earth, Loki thought Thanos was giving him another chance. He lashed out at everything and everyone, determined to fulfill his "mission" to destroy them. Or to rule them. It changed almost daily.

Being one of the few strong enough, and willing enough, to handle him alone - at least in the time it took Thor to show up - Steve spent a lot of time with Loki. It took awhile, but he learned to talk him down. And somehow along the way, Loki learned to trust him.

It had been the start to something more.

"Where's Thor?" Loki asked without opening his eyes.

"Asgard," Steve said. "He promised to be back tomorrow. Or today, that is."

Another hum. Steve took it as a good sign his answer was accepted so easily. No challenge. No angry insistence that Thor had abandoned him. Or worse, the tears that came when Loki believed Thor was dead. If he didn't already know Thor would come see Loki as soon as his feet touched back on Earth, Steve would be calling him to come visit. Loki did better when he saw Thor in person. Usually.

Steve rubbed his hand down Loki's back, along his spine. The hum sounding more like a purr. Steve couldn’t help but smile.

"Your smugness is not warranted." Loki's eyes fluttered open and he looked up at him, a hint of smile tugging at his mouth.

"Oh, I don't know," Steve said, smile widening. "Not every day I can get that sound out of you. At least, not when we both still have clothes on. I think I'm entitled to a little smugness."

Loki arched a single brow "Oh? Is that so?"

"Yeah. That is so."

Steve bent down to press a kiss on Loki's mouth. A moment later, Loki twisted himself around in his seat, snaking an arm around Steve's neck to pull him in closer. Kissing him deeper.

When the kiss ended, Steve pulled away only as much as Loki would let him. Their faces still close, noses almost touching.

"Okay?" Steve asked, tracing the outline of Loki's jaw with his fingers.

Loki turned his face and pushed into those fingers, seeking comfort he would never ask for outright. "I am." For now, going unspoken, but understood.

"Then let's go back to bed."

Steve stepped back enough to allow Loki space to get out of the window seat before lacing their fingers together and pulling him in close. Steve turned out the light as they passed, letting the room fall dark as they made their way to the bedroom and shut the door behind them.