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It could have been any number of things.

In reality it was probably an amalgamation of all of them.

To say that Loki had a distaste for women was an understatement.

It could have been that he knew he'd never find any of them comparable to Frigga. His mother who had raised him. His mother who had wiped the tears from his eyes and stroked his hair. Who held him through long nights filled with nightmares of wolves and snakes and the end of the world. Who, unlike the Allfather, did not remind him with every action that he would be forever bound to the shadows while his golden brother bathed in sunlight. His mother who he still thought of as his mother long after he'd forgotten Odin as his father.

It could have been that he was always jealous of them.

Girls who fumbled with their swords were met with amused smiles and reassurance before they were guided instead towards the looms, gardens or libraries of Asgard. They were not constantly reminded of their inadequacy, and no one scoffed at the skills they learned in combat's stead. Women who, at the bat of long eyelashes and the curve of their lips could win his brother's attentions (even if only for a night) when he could barely manage to keep Thor's attention for the breadth of a conversation since they'd grown into men.

Maybe he was most jealous of the power they had over men. The way Odin, Allfather and the king of all Asgard, would change his plans at the sight of the wrinkles upon Frigga's brow when she pursed her lips. The unbridled passion with which his brother would chase down his latest fancy, the lengths that he seemed to be willing to go for their favor.

It could have been any of those things.

It could have been the moment when Loki realized that he could sway his hips and smile coyly better than any of them.

It could have been that when men tumbled into his bed begging for him; their eyes dark with desire and their voices slick with lust and he found that he liked it. And, perhaps more importantly, that he could use it.

It could have been hard when he fell to Midgard, after the ordeal in Asgard. But Loki finds his magic is still with him, along with his other powers.

Midgard men seem to be even baser creatures than the men whom he'd practically turned into his dogs in Asgard, chasing around his heels as they did. It was easy. It was far too easy to get what he wanted here. So often the deed itself wasn't even necessary, just the right few words and a playful grin.

He could have been a villain. He was certainly in the mood after all that had happened on Asgard. With his so-called family. And his brother, Thor. His brother no longer.

He could have met anyone when he'd decided to start flinging cars into buildings. He met Victor.

It seemed to Loki that he'd finally found a man who could not be influenced so easily. Victor seemed more interested in his plans and potential destruction, or so Loki thought at first.

If he was honest with himself Victor scared him. He scared him when Victor grabbed his shoulders that day and pushed him against the wall. He could feel his heart beat jump into his throat and his blood pound in his ears when he heard the villain’s words:

“I've had enough of your games trickster.”

When his green eyes widened in shock it could have been because of Victor's forwardness. It could have been because of the way his strong fingers bit into his shoulders the way he held him there. It could have been that his words reminded him far too much of the unwelcome memory of what had transpired before his fall.

It could have been that Loki was expecting much worse than the hard, demanding kiss that he got.

Victor could have been the man to prove Loki wrong. He could have been a villain who proved to the trickster god that men were much harder to manipulate than he had thought all these years. In the end though, he only reaffirmed Loki's views on the subject.

After Victor, the man of iron was too easy.

It could have been that Stark was the simplest solution. It could have been that Stark was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time (or precisely the right place at the right time from Loki's perspective). It could have been that Stark was, Loki begrudgingly admitted, much more charming than he'd originally given him credit for.

It could have been the fact that the avengers were hiding something he wanted.

Though he may not have been a villain as Victor had been, but that didn't mean it was possible to enter the avenger's stronghold uninvited. He'd require an escort.

Loki didn't know why he felt the need to confront his brother. It had been made abundantly clear to him that there was no longer a place for him in Asgard, that his family was no longer his family. That Thor no longer had a brother.

It could have been that he wanted some kind of affirmation. He wanted Thor to say it. To disown him, to cast him off right then and there, just the two of them. Perhaps then he'd be able to fully fall to villainy. Perhaps then the last damnable shards of hope that flickered in his chest could be crushed into oblivion, where they would trouble him no more.

It could have been that he needed to know if his brother who was not his brother was like all of the other men in his life. If he really was such a simplistic, basal creature.

It could have been that he wanted to trick Thor one last time. That Loki wanted to see how far he could push his favorite game.

It certainly could not have been that those stupid little flickers of hope that he'd tried so hard to bury had gotten the best of him. That some part of Loki reminded him that it had been Odin, not Thor who had tossed him aside like an old relic that had proved too much trouble for its use.

He certainly could never have felt tears begin to flow, hot like they burned, as Thor wrapped him in his strong arms and refused to let him go.

When they did fall into bed, between sheets and pillows, it certainly could not have been Thor who had Loki reaching out, hanging on, clinging to him and begging for more.

When in the morning Loki awoke to find himself still held by those strong arms, that still refused to let him go, It definitely could not have been the first time that Loki hadn't escaped in the night to better things.

And when Thor asked Loki, with utmost sincerity in his perfect, golden expression, to stay with him, to stay with him as his brother and something much, much more, Loki couldn't have said yes.

Because it could have been many things. But it couldn't have been love.