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If I let you catch me

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Odin's hall is in near ruins after a series of whispered words and allegations set Odin's finest warriors brawling like mortals. No one can agree on who spoke the words that enraged them so, but Odin's wife has the Sight, and has told Thor where he can go to hunt down the perpetrator.

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He was barely more than a boy, Thor saw with horror. He didn't even have a beard. Just a skinny young man sitting cross legged on the lowest branch of a Midgardian tree, his hair in curls and his clothes in tatters. He was drinking from a skin, and gave no sign that he had even heard Thor approach.

Thor reached the very roots of the tree before realising he was being wilfully ignored, and scowled. One did not ignore the god of thunder. He hefted his war hammer and called in his most intimidating voice, "You!"

The young man up above sprang to his feet on the branch, crouching down to peer at Thor like some treebound forest imp. He grinned widely. "And you!" he cried. "Hello, you!"

"You are the one responsible for the destruction of Odin's hall!" growled Thor. The wretch in the tree scratched his chin quizzically.

"Destruction? No, I don't think that could have been me. I'm terribly bad at destroying halls, see. Don't have the muscle tone for it."

Thor snarled. The young man's smile was wide and innocent and mocking him. "You will come down from that tree and face the Allfather's justice!"

The man pretended to think again. "You say you've come from Odin's hall? Then I'm afraid I'll have to decline. With regret, I will remain in my tree."

"I am Thor, god of Thunder!" Thor roared, "And you will come down from there!"

"Pleased to meet you, Thor god of Thunder!" beamed the little troll. "I am Loki, god of... other things! Let us say I am the god of Mischief. And of 'not destroying halls'. It was someone else who did tha-- Ahh!"

He was cut off in mid-sentence by Thor drawing his hammer back to swing it at the trunk of the tree. All it did was to shake the branches and send up a few splinters - Thor knew he needed a better hammer than this one - but it caused Loki to squawk in indignation. "What are you doing? This is a sacred oak, it's older than I am! It is a beautiful tree, you can't--"

Thor pulled back and swung again and this one did its work. The trunk gave a great creaking groan as it split and the tree began to upend itself. Thor took two steps back to meet the branch on which Loki fought to stay balanced.

Loki landed on his feet, and Thor caught hold of his shoulder before he managed to straighten from his crouch. But Loki swung around to face him and threw up the hand that still held his water skin. The skin burst in Thor's face and he cursed. Whatever was in that skin, it was not water, and Loki had not been drinking it. It was a trick, and Thor's eyes burned.

He released Loki to try and rub the stinging liquid from his face, and Loki's body immediately split into a thousand pieces, streaming around Thor and through his uselessly grabbing hands. Seidmadr. That would explain why Loki wore no beard. The dark spots and flittering wings that were Loki flew in a cloud, away from Thor and into the woods.

But Thor had been warned to expect trickery. He roared and slapped the ground, releasing the power he had kept stored since stepping into the clearing. A ring of lightning formed, casting white-blue light on the trunks of all the trees. Thor heard a high cry and Loki's body, whole again, thudded into the ground.

Thor dragged himself to his feet, willing his blurred vision to clear, and advanced on the seidmadr. Loki gripped his elbows to still the shaking of his body and stared. "You caught me!" he said in astonishment. "No one's ever caught me before!"

He didn't look afraid, and Thor could respect that. Loki backed up a few steps, coming up against the crackling in the air that told him what would happen if he tried to run again. Thor lifted his hammer. "I do have more tricks, you know." Loki said.

"I would love to see them, trickster," grinned Thor. Loki laughed in reply.

"I know you would. Maybe there's something else I could give you, though? You could drag me back to Odin in chains, or... you could let me escape, and I could repay your kindness with my body." He licked his lips with a filthy grin.

It was Thor's turn to laugh. "These are unworthy tricks that I would expect of a seidmadr." He couldn't help licking his lips in a mirror of Loki's, though, and his eyes dipped to the fluttering rags Loki wore.

The moment he looked away Loki burst into motion, sprinting toward Thor and ducking under his arm. Not quick enough though - Thor caught him in flight, slamming him down against the felled tree trunk and held him there. He twisted one of Loki's arms up behind his back, held the other over his head and used his weight to pin the smaller man down. Loki struggled, but only for bare seconds as he realised he was outmatched.

"Damn," he said quietly, then laughed. "Ahh... so you are interested!"

Thor chuckled without shame, secure that Loki wouldn't get another chance to run. "Perhaps I am," he said into the shell of Loki's ear. "But I have a wife."

"And does she satisfy you, Thor?"

Thor couldn't quite resist moving, letting the evidence of his interest grind against Loki. "...better than you could, god of Mischief."

"Oh." Loki sounded disappointed. "Back to Odin's hall, then?"

Thor stood, pulling Loki up with him, wrist still held securely in his hand. "To face justice."

Loki smiled ruefully, and nodded. "All right."