"You are Croatian, correct?" Loki asked suddenly.
I looked up at him, taking a small sip of my coffee before replying: "Yes, that's correct."
We were seated on the living room couch, his arm handing loosely around my shoulder. It was an early, boring Autumn morning; heavy raindrops pounded at the windows like tiny pebbles, carried by wild, unpredictable gusts of wind. I was fond of storms, almost as much as Loki despised them because they reminded him of Thor.
His touch provided warmth and comfort like no other. For someone who prided himself in coldness, he could be incredibly cuddly; my very own life-sized teddy bear with daddy issues and wild sexual appetite. The world may have seen him as a ruthless war criminal, but I knew and loved the softie that hid underneath those protective walls he'd built to ward away all the torment the outside world had dealt him.
"The language you speak… It's called Croatian?"
I nodded. "Why the sudden interest?" I inquired, cocking my head to the side to observe him.
Now that he didn't feel like subjugating Earth anymore, Loki was curious about our ways of life. Not a day went by without him asking me about a strange custom he'd stumbled upon on accident, or demanding I take him to foreign restaurants so he could try that delicious-looking food he'd seen on TV.
Quite frankly, I was surprised he hadn't asked about my heritage sooner. He'd always seemed so damn curious; it was an adorable look on him, and it had made me all the more happy that I'd decided to give him a chance to prove that he wasn't just that sexy villain with a god complex – he'd had a softer side that I'd grown to enjoy perhaps a bit too much for his liking.
"There was a documentary about your country," he explained. "It intrigued me."
I smiled sweetly. "Happy to hear that." It always made me happy when people expressed a liking of my home-country. Normally I would have been homesick, nostalgic, missing my home that I hadn't visited in years, but now that Loki was here, I'd grown more accustomed to the United States. Besides, if I ever felt like going, I could always ask him to teleport us there. He would never say no to me, not if he knew how much my home meant to me. "Want me to teach you Croatian?"
"Yes," he fired instantly, as though he'd been waiting for me to ask that question.
I giggled like an overexcited schoolgirl. This was going to be fun. "Let's start with the basics, okay?"
He raised a curious eyebrow. "Which are?"
"Swear words," I beamed, a bit too excited for my own good. I couldn't wait to share my knowledge of profanity with him. Being a prince, Loki was sophisticated, charming, charismatic; when he swore, he did it in a way that made it sound more like a compliment than an insult. It was time for him to learn to swear the right way. "Swearing is an integral part of the Croatian language. You can't speak it without knowing at least one nasty word."
Amusement crossed his beautiful features. "I'm listening."
Of course he was. He wouldn't miss a chance to cause mischief; learning to insult the Avengers in a language none of them spoke – sans Natasha, who understood a word here and there – was too good an offer to pass.
I would know. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't call Tony something nasty and then told him that it was a compliment. The poor bastard was under the impression that šupčina (asshole) and debil (moron) mean gorgeous and handsome, respectively.
Those were, incidentally, the only two words that Loki understood. I made sure to explain to him what they meant, so that he could laugh in Tony's face whenever I'd go on one of my rants in Croatian and spit a bunch of insults at our favorite genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist without him knowing what they actually meant.
"First, let me tell you that a lot of our curses have something to do with mothers. And dogs. Sometimes both at the same time," I explained.
"Like goats in Asgard," Loki said helpfully.
"Yes!" I beamed. "Exactly. So let's say there's this guy who keeps getting on your nerves. You tell him to stop, only he doesn't. He pushes it and pushes it, until finally he crosses the line. That's when you tell him: 'Jebo ti pas mater.'"
"What's it mean?" he asked impatiently.
"May the dog fuck your mother," I translated proudly.
Loki chuckled, that signature gleam of mischief sparkling in his eyes. "That's brilliant!"
"I know, right?" I giggled. This was way more fun than I'd imagined. "Here's another one. 'Idi u tri pičke materine.' Also used on people who annoy you."
"What does that mean?"
"Go to three mother's cunts."
"Damn," he said, nodding his head in impressed approval. "I don't think our American companions would appreciate our use of that kind of language."
Of course they wouldn't. That's what made it all the more fun to use it right in front of them, openly, loudly, without them knowing a damn thing.
"Why three, though?" Loki inquired.
I shrugged. "No idea."
"Can it be five?"
"No. It has to be three."
"I like five better."
"Five is wrong," I insisted.
"Three is boring," he whined.
"Why are you complaining to me? Go back in time and bitch at my ancestors. They're the ones who made that shit up."
"Your ancestors were strange," he pointed out.
"Like yours were better, Mr. Genocide Is A Good Idea As Long As It's Done To Frozen Blue People."
"They're called Frost Giants, and that is complicated."
"I like Frozen Blue People better, that is so not complicated, and your dad's a racist asshole."
"You are not calling me that," he ordered, "there is a lot of history there, and he is not my father."
I was honestly surprised he hadn't shouted that last bit out loud. He usually snapped at anyone who dared even mention Odin's name along with his in the same sentence.
I took a few deep breaths to steady myself. "I think we're getting off topic here."
"As do I," he agreed. "Proceed with the lecture, please."
"Right." I sighed. "Remember how you kept pestering me about buying you that cheap shit yesterday and I told you something I refused to translate?"
Loki frowned in suspicion. "Had it involved my mother?"
"No!" I fired, wildly shaking my head to prove my point. "No way." Rule number one of swearing politely in Croatian: don't curse someone's family member if that family member is dead. Especially when the person you're cursing at is your loved one. I loved Loki way too much to even think of saying such a thing to him. "Why would you even think that?"
"All curses you've taught me so far had relations to mothers," he explained.
I took his hand in my own, my other hand reaching for his cheek to give it a soft caress. He leaned his head into my palm, embracing my warm, gentle touch. "I wouldn't do that to you, honey," I said, brushing my lips against his in a kiss.
He smiled lovingly. "What did you say, then?"
"'Hoću kurac.' The literal translation is: 'I want dick.'"
Loki winked suggestively. "You could have just asked."
"It's sarcastic," I replied, giggling to counter his taunting snorting. "In English you'd say: 'hell, no.'"
"And in Croatian, you want dick."
He smiled. He was enjoying this lesson more than he probably should have. Not that I minded, though. I was more than happy to share my knowledge with him; it was my turn to teach him something instead of the other way around, the way it usually was.
"May I ask you a question?"
"What is it you say to me every morning in bed?" He pondered on it for a moment, struggling to remember the words the right way. "Volem to…?"
"Volim te," I corrected.
He nodded. "What does it mean?"
I smiled sweetly, pressing a tender kiss to his soft lips. "I love you."