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shall we take a spin again (no witnesses)

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-
i.

Thor knows something is wrong the moment he steps into his apartment on Wednesday evening.

The hallway is dark and long, stretching from door to the kitchen and living room. Nothing seems out of place. There is nothing on his carpet – nothing like blood or mud or grime – nor any sound that arises from the gloom… but Thor knows.

He walks slowly, trying to muffle his steps as he approaches the opening of the hall. To the left lies his living room, the right his kitchen.

Quickly, he snaps on the light and tenses himself for any sudden movements.

None come.

There is simply a man, sitting across from him on a chair.

‘Loki,’ Thor breathes, but what he sees is entirely wrong.

-

shall we take a spin again (no witnesses)

-
ii.

The trouble starts when Fandral gets hurt and Sif comes to Thor for money.

‘We’re his only friends… his only family,’ she says to him, ‘I only have a quarter of what it’s going to cost, but Hogun can scrounge something up, he said. Thor, he’s so close to you as he is to all of us, can you manage something?’

And because Thor is a bleeding heart, he gets what he can and then goes looking for more.

-
iii.

Thrym is a built guy, with the skin of, what Thor imagines to be, Antartica under the sun – so pale he might have been the faintest shade of blue. Dressed in a wifebeater, Thor can see the long curving stripes of his tattoos, tribal-like, as they sweep upwards from his forearms to settle beneath the white straps over his shoulders. In the heat, the stripes could be snakes, and it only reminds Thor of how dangerous Thrym could be.

Or so he has heard.

The job at the construction site ends around seven in the evening, the sun a low blaze in the sky as the men pack up and head home. Thor pulls off his dusty shirt and dons a new one that he has in his bag before calling out to Thrym.

‘How about a beer or two?’

From the wave of heat shimmering in the gold sky, it is a wonder why Thrym takes as long as a few seconds to agree.

They arrive at a local bar, hidden in a corner of the block, before Thor spreads the truth before him in a feigned haze of drunkenness.

‘I need money,’ he says to his – fourth? Sixth? – beer. Thrym hums in agreement.

‘So do we all.’

‘You would think there was an easier way to get it,’ he sighs, ‘a lot with less work.’

Thrym drinks his beer in slow, careful swallows. His skin is so pale even from working in the sun, thinks Thor, imagining he can see the honey colour of the drink in the column of his companion’s throat. When Thrym finishes, he lifts the other man’s beer and places it to the side of the table they sit at.

‘Depends on how much you would need, of course,’ he says, voice steady, ‘because it’s going to need some work.’

Thor laughs. ‘You offering me a job?’

Thrym’s mouth twists into an awkward smile. ‘Of a sort.’

-
iv.

He meets Loki three days later.

They’re at a warehouse at the north edge of town, where desert stretches behind them for miles – all bleak, flat landscape and red-orange bush scattered along the horizon. Thrym walks with him into the cool shadow, a final respite from the burning sun.

In some vague part of his mind, Thor always thought gangsters could only meet in the night, but here he is proved wrong.

When they enter the warehouse through a large garage door that has been pulled aside, he sees the crates, vast ones, stacked along the perimeter of the inside, and piled up on top of each other so they threaten to touch the catwalks above. In the gloom, there is a figure that inspects the stickers on one of them before turning to greet the visitors.

He is long and thin, dressed in a leather jacket with gloves and form-fitting jeans. He’s young – and a little part of Thor starts at that. My age, maybe. Mid twenties. With black hair that curled outwards from the nape of his neck and striking green eyes, he is a sight to behold.

‘Thrym,’ he says, softly, and when Thrym walks up to him, bent over to speak in his ear, Thor can see that they’re both pale as milk, as if the sun has never touched them. He wonders if they’re brothers, cousins, family of some sort.

The conversation between the two end after a moment. The young man shoots him a smile, looking less reassuring and more threatening.

‘So you need money,’ he starts off with. Thor nods. ‘How much exactly?’

Thor thinks on Sif, of her sitting at his coffee table with scores of papers and a calculator, pen clutched between her teeth, as she finds her way through the numbers like hunting for fish in a river. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a tight ponytail, curling around her shoulders as she hunches over, before it flies everywhere in an ecstatic leap, her face both grim but satisfied with work. She says, ‘in total it should be about – 

‘Four grand,’ says Thor succinctly.

The young man lets out a sharp bark of a laugh, white teeth glimmering in the light that shines through the entrance of the warehouse.

‘Four thousand,’ he repeats, mouth curling, ‘how about one grand per month?’

‘Per week,’ bites back Thor.

‘Biweekly,’ snarls the man, taken aback by the other’s audacity.

‘And interest?’

The man’s tongue flickers out, smoothing a wet path over his bottom lip. It catches Thor’s attention like nothing else and that bugs him. Stop, pay attention, he’s a loan shark, for fuck’s sake.

‘No interest,’ says the man, and Thor’s eyes snap up in surprise, his body automatically tensing at the catch he might hear. ‘Pay back your money on the dates I have set and the only interest you’ll owe is but a few favours here and there.’

‘A few… favours?’ Caution steals over him like a pall, draping him in nothing but a slow climbing adrenaline rush.

‘Nothing too much, of course,’ reassures the young man, before turning to Thrym and murmuring words in the man’s ear. Thrym nods, walking away to disappear into the dark of the warehouse, the black seeping over his paleness like ink, and Thor vaguely wonders what lies back there. The young man’s eyes glitter like poison when he resumes speaking, ‘my name is Loki,’ he says, ‘and who should I make the cheque out to?’

‘Thor. Thor Odinson.’

-
v.

Fandral is driving to meet them for a dinner and a movie and maybe some bar-hopping on Friday evening, starting to picking Hogun up at his place. It is Hogun’s birthday and he has yet to experience the city’s night-life so Thor and Fandral have decided at that moment to take him out. Thor is already there having a preliminary beer with Hogun in his apartment. Sif is to meet them later at the restaurant, along with Volstagg. They plan to stay out until two drinking and dancing and talking.

Fandral is driving on a Friday evening and is crossing an intersection when a semi-truck collides into his car.

-
vi.

Fandral is a part-time bartender and studies at the local university, learning design. Half of his money is invested in school-loans, the other half in paying his rent and managing costs. He hasn’t seen his family in three years, nor do they have any interest in contacting him.

Sif explains this all in a certain, logical voice, betraying the shine to her eyes. She grits her teeth and lies to the nurse, saying, ‘I’m his sister, Thor’s his cousin,’ and gets access to the fees that Fandral will have to deal with when he finally wakes up not delirious from his pain-killers.

‘He’ll never afford this,’ she says to Thor, eyes wide and a righteous fury colouring her cheeks. ‘Fuck this,’ she snarls, ‘I’ll pay.’

But it’s not enough.

The longer Fandral takes to heal, the more money that piles on.

-
vii.

‘Here.’

Her face is a perfect impression of surprise.

‘Thor,’ she breathes, her fingers holding the cheque with delicacy and restraint, as if she is too close to cashing it in already. ‘W-Where did you get this?’

‘I had some more saved up, took a bit of overtime,’ Thor shrugs, eyes trailing the long ripple of gold hair and dark eyes. He hasn’t seen her so overwhelmed with happiness in a long time. Fandral’s been in the hospital for close to three weeks. He wakes up in small bouts, dazed. Luckily, he is awake longer and longer each day. When they visit, the doctor feels his ribs, his broken bones, his concussion and his superficial cuts and scratches, telling them all he is healing at a good pace.

‘He’ll be out and in physiotherapy soon,’ Sif says, placing the cheque on her kitchen table beside the piles of papers already there. She moves to her coffee maker, pouring herself a cup. Sunday morning sunlight graces her form, hiding the bruises under her eyes, and Thor might think she actually looks relaxed.

‘We haven’t been to his apartment,’ she murmurs, ‘oh god, it must smell so bad – his plants might be dead too. Fuck.’

‘Volstagg lives close by,’ interjects Thor gently, a hand closing over her shoulder. ‘I can go with him and clean it up, Sif. Don’t worry so much. He’s getting better.’ Massaging her gently, she lets out a hiss, rolling into his grip, before pulling away.

‘I’ll be fine, Thor,’ she tells him, draining her coffee and placing the cup in the sink.

‘Sleep more,’ he advises her, ready to take leave. Sif nods, but he knows she won’t.

-
viii.

Loki calls him five days after he hands Thor a cheque for one thousand dollars.

It is ten on a Wednesday and Thor has just escaped the shower when his phone rings.

‘Hello, Thor,’ says the voice, just as soft as he recalls it, ‘I require a payment of four hundred by next week. That gives you seven days. In the meantime, it’s time for your interest.’

Thor grits his teeth, trying to figure out how he’s going to get so much in such a short amount of time. Overtime on the weekends. And no more cable. You don’t need heating for this month, either, do you? July humidity sneaks through his apartment, small as it is, and refuses to leave, answering the question.

For Fandral, he tells himself, and for not getting killed by Thrym.

‘Problem?’ Loki’s smirk slides through his voice. ‘Now, you’re not busy, are you?’

Thor says, ‘no.’ Because he can.

The second of silence he gets is worth the insult. ‘You are busy?’ Loki’s voice takes on an edge, irritated and sharp, ‘well, too bad, Thor, because we’re going out. Bring your truck and pick me up.’

He spits out an address, which Thor hurriedly scribbles down, and hangs up after a curt, ‘fifteen minutes, be quick.’

Dressed in jeans, a white shirt and a plaid overshirt, Thor grabs his keys and leaves to find Loki.

-
iv.

Loki is in his leather jacket, a green shirt underneath and jeans. His jet black hair looks mussed and a cigarette hangs from his mouth, looking prepared to fall to the cement the moment the man exhales. All in all, he’s less of a loan shark and more of a rebellious teenager.

The only indication he is older than he seems is in the way he stands, straight backed, head cocked upwards in a sneer.

‘Don’t have your own ride?’ asks Thor, when Loki gets in the passenger’s seat. Smoke curls from the stick and lingers in the air. Loki’s eyes, venom green even in the streetlight, slide over to him.

‘Drive to here.’ He pulls a slip of paper from his pocket and hands it over to Thor. The blonde man reads it off silently.

‘Only if you put out that cigarette.’

‘No,’ snaps Loki, blowing smoke out from his mouth in a deliberate manner.

Thor twitches before grabbing the stick from the other man’s fingers and tossing it out of the open window on the driver’s side.

Loki tenses, jaw clenched tight and a muscle in his throat leaping up to view, before pouncing on him, nails sinking into the muscle of Thor’s arms as a knee is shoved into his side, winding him momentarily. ‘You punk,’ Loki snarls in a fit of anger, trying to punch him but missing as Thor ducks, his large hands enveloping the startlingly thin waist of the other.

Vaguely, he’s glad he’s not wearing his seatbelt – an all-around ridiculous thought – as he grabs one of Loki’s wrists, easily curling around the circumference, keeping a tight grip on his waist and crushing him against the inside of the passenger door. Loki’s legs, bent towards his chest, shoot out, his boots catching Thor in the chest. Thor very nearly doubles over, but he lets go of Loki’s waist to shove away the limbs to the space between the seat and floor.

With one hand holding a tight grip on his thigh, he moves the other to his shoulder, feeling the glass of the passenger window against his fingers.

‘Stop,’ he growls.

Loki bares his teeth in retaliation.

‘I said, stop, Loki,’ Thor snaps, putting more pressure in his grip.

It takes half a minute before Loki’s body relaxes and his face goes blank, though his green eyes glitter in anger. Thor beats a retreat, pulling away quickly and settling himself back in his seat. The young man straightens himself, sliding a hand through his hair, before smiling, an unsettling quirk of his mouth.

‘You can fight and restrain, how quaint,’ he remarks, voice easy and low as if he had not just been manhandled moments ago.

Thor wonders if there is a catch to this as well, before he starts the engine and pulls away from the curve. A moment later, he can feel wetness on his cheek and discovers he’s bleeding. Loki’s nails must have scratched him.

-
x.

The destination is a club. The familiar beat of the baseline is heard from the stairs that lead down to the half-hidden door, protected by the bouncer. Thor parks half a block away, watching Loki get out and walk towards it with ease.

Thor follows, feeling much like a dog, before Loki stops only a few steps away from the stair well.

‘The nature of this favour is simple,’ he says lowly, murmuring into Thor’s ear, ‘I’m going to in here and you’re going to protect me, understand?’

‘And how much is that worth, interest-wise?’ shoots back Thor, but this time the other is prepared.

‘Depends how much you do,’ smiles Loki, cold and dangerous and more of a loan shark than any rebellious teenager he’s ever imagined.

They head down the stairs, bypassing the impassive face of the bouncer to a door that is perpendicular to the one that leads to the club. Loki opens it without hesitation, pushing it in as it swings to a room filled with a table in the middle and chairs. There are people milling around, some in suits, the others in casual wear. Two men flank the entrance on the inside and they nod to Loki before shutting the door and sliding their hands down his waist. The weapons check lasts a short twenty seconds before they move onto Thor.

There are two doors, Thor notes. One of which they’ve entered and another on the wall to the right, where the muffled beat of the club can be heard. It is a private room then. One of the walls is covered with a cabinet of liquor and glasses. To the left, there is a pool table and stools. A few of the men nod to Loki, who looks totally in his element, like a cat prowling through the dim-lit gloom.

It’s a noir movie, thinks Thor, but with more plaid.

‘Laufeyson,’ says one man at the table, pouring himself a drink. He takes the glass and moves to the head of the table where the light catches his face.

He’s old, Thor sees with a sort of surprise. He is pale, with a cap of white hair and a lined face. He is dressed in a brown suit, and the hand with which he holds his glass is wrinkled, green and blue veins threaded around the knuckles and slipping underneath the sleeve of his shirt. His eyes are a muddied brown that borders on red, like a deep, dark wine.

‘All these men?’ asks Loki, and Thor knows it is an indication that the old one is the head.

‘You leave me no choice but to defend myself, Laufeyson,’ says the man, his voice deep. He takes a sip of the drink – a gold like rum.

‘I only wish for a tidbit of information,’ replies the other easily, gesturing to Thor behind him, ‘and look, I only brought one companion. Do you trust me now?’

‘Never,’ comes the succinct reply.

Loki hums, ‘do what you want. Now, I just have a question for you.’

The old man sets his drink down on the table, glass clinking loudly in the relative quiet. ‘You,’ he says, eyeing Thor, ‘where did you find him?’

Loki does not even spare him a glance. ‘A dumpster. At Tiffany’s. What does it matter?’

‘Perhaps,’ he murmurs, ‘your name?’

‘Donald,’ interjects Loki roughly, ‘Donald Blake.’

‘Shut up, Laufeyson,’ snaps the old man. ‘Come now, you’re not mute.’

The look Loki shoots him is menacing and dark. Thor thinks before answering, to insult Loki once more or not. Yet, he knows it’s simply not worth the outrage on the man’s face if he does tell the truth. It would do him no good if those of the underworld knew his name.

‘It is as Loki says,’ he replies instead. The old man examines him shrewdly.

‘Just so,’ he says slowly, before his voice takes a turn for loud and demanding. ‘Well then, you want to know where the Vanir are?’

Loki straightens, the attention back on him. The men around the room have not moved an inch, Thor sees. They’re waiting for a signal. Yet, he cannot know what it is. Truthfully, he knows nothing – just enough to keep him on his toes. Just that the old man is wealthy and powerful, enough to make a prideful loan shark come begging at his heels.

‘Only the heirs,’ Loki says. He waits as the man drains his drink in deliberately slow sips.

Finally: ‘they’ll be arriving from the east in two days. You know their meet-up location already, I presume.’ It is not a question, but a statement of fact. The old man knows, Thor thinks. Loki bristles.

‘Two days, in the evening, east,’ he repeats, but the old man gives no indication of affirmation. Finally, Loki gives a nod to the old man and gestures at Thor that they are leaving. A voice calls out to them, though.

‘It would be best if you dropped this bodyguard, Laufeyson,’ says the man. ‘He does not seem fit for the job.’

‘I’ll do what I want, old man,’ snaps Loki, and the bodyguards advance on him for the insult. Thor tenses, ready to beat them off.

‘No, no, stop,’ snaps the man irritably and the guards stop in their tracks. Thor hisses out a breath in relief. Carefully, they advance to the door, which the men open, letting the streetlight slip through into the room.

‘Laufeyson, send the All-Father my regards.’

‘You mean the ones saying ‘I hope you drop dead’?’

But the door is open already so Loki escapes unscathed, his laughter slipping out sharp and cruel, as Thor follows.

-
xi.

Once they are back in the truck, Loki scribbles down the info on a ripped sheet of paper he has in his pocket and shoves it on the inside of his boot, before relaxing in his seat. Thor does not comment, just watches the leather arch of the young man’s back as he straightens and finds a comfortable position.

’How many favours do I owe you now?’

Loki does not even spare him a glance. ‘Many. But I’ll lower your repayment plan. I’ll take three hundred by next week. That should be manageable, hm?’

Thor does not comment on this sudden magnanimity on the other’s part. ‘Anywhere else?’

‘No,’ he says, resting his forehead against the window pane. ‘Go home, I’ll walk from there.’

‘I’d prefer loan sharks not knowing where I live,’ says Thor.

‘I already know where you live,’ replies Loki without heat. ‘I’m a loan shark.’

‘What else do you know?’

‘Nothing that should concern you at the moment.’

‘And when will it?’

Loki stirs from his position, irritation seeping into his features. ‘Never, if you do everything right. Now get going.’

Thor contemplates picking another fight with him, knowing he could overpower the man, but it’s late and he needs to sleep in order to work tomorrow, so he starts the engine and drives.

-
xii.

Loki has a skill in disappearing into the shadows, like a cat, but feral and dangerous.

When Thor loses sight of him, he unlocks the door and steps into the building, riding the elevator to his floor and returning to his home. It’s dark, and nothing is disturbed. It is as he left it, and the familiarity is a comfort after that hour with Loki.

He thinks on Fandral and reassures himself that it is worth it all. Worth having a dangerous man with his phone number and personal information if it means Fandral can get better sooner and not suffer the consequences. And the look on Sif’s face – that relief that flooded her eyes and the part in her mouth when she gasped. That was worth something as well.

With a feeling akin to satisfaction, Thor enters his bathroom to get cleaned up for bed. When he looks at his reflection, he can see how the blood has crusted along the straight diagonal scratch on his cheekbone. Wiping it away with a wet cloth, Thor examines it, and he has enough experience to realize that the way his skin parts with ease is not the work of a human nail.

When? When did Loki cut him with a knife?

Suddenly, Thor doubts that fight in the truck.

-
xiii.

On Friday, Thor takes overtime at the site, cleaning up and doing minor work under the giant, piercing lights. His supervisor agrees to let him work all day over the weekend and promises pay on Monday, to which Thor knows will be enough now that Loki has lowered his prior amount.

When he comes home at night, he eats a microwave dinner while flipping channels on a cable that would soon be gone. The news yells out something about gunshots and murders, and Thor takes time to listen idly, wondering if he will hear a familiar word, like Loki, Laufeyson or Vanir.

‘At nine, there was a reporting of gunshots near the edge north east of the city. Police have discovered bullets and two dead bodies in one of the many abandoned farmsteads in this area. Information on the two victims have not been released as of yet. However, police have admitted this to have been linked to gang violence. More to come later – 

Thor can feel his heart beat fast in his chest. A creeping horror steals over him, drowning out any sounds except for the blood rushing in his ears as he feels a sickness settle low into his stomach.

With stuttering movements, he pulls out his phone, looking through his call history and spotting Loki’s number. He presses dial.

‘Hello?’ The voice is low and familiar.

‘Did you kill them?’

Thor?’ says the voice, tinged with incredulity.

‘What we did on Wednesday, it was to kill these people, wasn’t it,’ he growls out, incapable of letting it become a question.

‘Oh, you’ve been watching the news then. Didn’t think a man like you’d bother,’ remarks Loki, his voice becoming something easy and soft again. As if he’s getting comfortable.

‘Fuck your favours,’ snarls out Thor.

‘Oh, calm down,’ he replies, ‘you didn’t kill anyone. I don’t see the problem.’

‘Would you have gotten that information if I hadn’t come?’

‘Does it matter? It’s too late now.’

‘I won’t be a part of this,’ Thor says with a finality he hopes comes through to the other end.

‘But you are,’ croons Loki, ‘it’s much too late now. The old man knows you. And when the old man knows you, you’re part of us.’

‘Who is us?’ Thor grinds out.

‘Us, Thor,’ and his voice changes to something a bit darker, more threatening, ‘those who live off the radar, loan sharks and prostitutes and gangsters and hustlers and thieves and grifters – all of us.’

‘I’m not one of you. I won’t be – ‘

‘Shut the fuck up, Thor,’ snaps Loki, ‘the old man doesn’t give a shit whether you’re a construction worker or a killer, he’s seen you with me, and it’s too fucking late now. So get your shit together and don’t call me with your little morality freak outs, understand.’

With that, he hangs up.

Is it worth it now?

Thor can’t bear to answer that question yet.

-
xiv.

After a weekend of overtime, Thor still feels restless. He cannot bear to cancel his cable yet because the news still haunts him. He waits impatiently for any new details. Any new evidence. Anything at all that means that Loki has no involvement in it, which means Thor has no involvement.

It’s a futile hope. The only thing the police release to the news is that they’re both middle-aged men who were armed. Some of the bullets had come from their guns. It was a shootout. It’s a gang thing. Thor is in too deep, too fast.

After work on Monday, with his money, he makes way to the hospital to see Fandral. Sif and Volstagg are already there, talking with him, but they cheer when Thor enters the room.

‘Thor,’ greets Fandral with a smile. There are bruises over his face, and he has a sickly pallor to him. Yet, he is awake and he can talk and Thor can’t help but feel a rush of happiness. ‘It’s been a while.’

‘To you,’ Thor retorts, ‘you’re the bastard who’s always asleep.’

Fandral laughs. ‘Ah, I’ve missed this.’ His blue eyes are warm. Thor can see the easy slope of Sif’s shoulders and the eager lean of Volstagg as he speaks to Fandral. It’s worth it, it’s worth it, it’s worth it. A hopeless mantra, but it sustains him.

‘I’ll be up and walking soon, y’know,’ says Fandral, ‘we have to own up to that promise to Hogun to take him out, don’t we?’

‘Obviously,’ says Sif, ‘but let’s wait until you don’t look like a lumbering old man. You think anyone’s going to talk to Hogun then, with his grandpa hanging around?’

Fandral takes the time to look affronted. ‘I will have you know that I could still get five girls’ numbers right here, right now. Nurses, Sif. Young, beautiful nurses.’

‘Oh god,’ she groans, and this whole exchange is so familiar and heart-warming that Thor lets the night with Loki slip from memory.

It’s worth it, it’s worth it, it’s worth it –

-
xv.

After work in Wednesday, he gives the three hundred to Thrym, who nods in understanding and disappears in his truck soon after.

Thor has no real inclination to meet Loki ever again, but it is a futile hope, which is shattered quite sufficiently the moment his phone rings at nine in the evening.

‘Have you showered yet?’ asks Loki in greeting.

Thor hangs up.

He stands there in suspense for a minute, heart beating fast, wondering if his phone will explode or if they will plant a bomb in his car in retaliation for hanging up so abruptly. Or, better yet, they’ll shoot him in an abandoned farmstead because it seems to be quite a thing with Loki and his people.

Nothing happens to the phone.

Thor sighs and takes to his shower.

At nine thirty, there is a knock on his door. Thor checks the peephole and balks.

‘Open the door,’ says Loki, looking thoroughly bored standing in the hallway.

‘Did you get the money?’ Thor calls through the door.

‘Yes, yes, now let me in so we can have this conversation like civilized people,’ and here his eyes go sharp, ‘or is that somewhat of a novelty to someone like you?’

Against his better judgement, Thor opens the door and lets him in. Loki prowls through the hallway, dressed in his customary leather jacket and jeans. His hair is straightened this time, smoothed back so it flares at his nape. Finally, he reaches Thor’s living room, letting himself sprawl over the couch, looking around in distinct interest.

‘The humble abode of a bodyguard.’

‘I’m not a – 

Loki waves away his protests. ‘I know, I know.’ He takes another look around, slowly absorbing the details. ‘I want another favour from you.’

‘I thought I said – 

‘Yes, right, how could I forget,’ here, his voice dips an octave in imitation, ‘something like, fuck my favours.’ Resuming his usual tone, he continues, ‘well, I thought it had been quite clear that I had said it’s too late, so you might as well go through with it. Or else.’

Thor snorts. ‘Or else? You can’t threaten me, Loki.’

‘Oh, I find that statement quite debatable.’

‘If you could, you wouldn’t need me as a bodyguard,’ he points out.

‘That cut on your face says something else,’ sighs Loki, looking bored again, and he flicks his hand outwards, producing a small blade in his palm.

Thor bristles. Then: ‘Why?’

‘There are many reasons why, Thor,’ he replies, sliding the blade back into the sleeve of his jacket. ‘Would you be happier to know it’s because I like you?’

‘Not really.’

‘Well, I didn’t hope it would.’ Loki stands up, smoothing his clothes. ‘It is the truth, which is more than some people can get out of me.’

Thor ignores the admission. ‘What do you want tonight?’

Loki pointedly drags his gaze over Thor’s body, intention evident in the smear of a smile he puts up. ‘How nice of you to ask.’

Stop.’

Loki shrugs, sliding his poison green eyes back again over his home. ‘Just a small babysitting service.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘All you, and everyone else, knows is that we killed two men,’ and Loki grins, amusement lingering in his eyes. ‘What you don’t know is that we kept two alive.’

-