"He asks about you, you know."
Phil says it so quietly; it melts with the murmurs and horrifyingly loud voices that shift around the establishment. Loki hears it; pauses to wipe his mouth with a napkin while deciding whether he should respond to this or pretend that he hasn't heard. Phil looks at him expectantly, all the while cutting into his food and stabbing it with precision, despite not taking one look at it. Loki is momentarily impressed, and then replies knowing that one is expected from him.
"Send Fury my regards but I have no desire to hand myself over to SHIELD, whether as an ally or because you see me as an enemy." Loki sprinkles disdain over his words. Phil doesn't scowl. His eyebrows do furrow, though, and that is the closest thing his son will look at him in disappointment.
"Try again." Loki is amused at how nothing about Phil's voice or expression betrays his exasperation. Then he frowns, already imagining his son refraining himself from rolling his eyes at how childish his son would think he is acting.
Because. Because-- so what if he is acting childish? Phil need not identify who this male is. As an unspoken agreement, they never discuss anything related to SHIELD business, even if Loki might have an idea every once in a while (what if he has a sudden inkling to visit and inspect SHIELD once in a blue moon? Fury may have his respect; but it does not mean that he has Loki's trust, even if he has Phil's). The closest Phil has come to talking about work was last month (not New Mexico because they both like to deny that they had also been looking out for the other during those tense times).
"Captain America has been found," Phil had told him, seated on the couch, as his son watched him pour a generous amount of sugar in their coffee from the kitchen. Loki had not paused, which he counted as a silent victory, even if he had sucked in his breath. When he turned to face Phil, his face was already schooled in indifference, which he counted as another victory.
That was, until he had given his son his cup and, in return, Phil had smiled.
"Captain America," he had repeated, with unmasked adoration. "I might meet Captain America!" A smile had crept on his face; even Loki’s, although he had hidden his behind his cup.
"What will you do?" Phil had suddenly asked, voice suddenly solemn. In one quiet move, all the excitement vibrating in the room fled. Loki had looked down at his cup, not wanting to see the sadness in Phil's eyes.
"What I've always done," Loki had answered eventually, after he had drained his coffee. "Move on."
Except, how is he going to move on if the past is not allowing him to? Steve (has miraculously survived! Wants to see him!)-- he has not said that name, whether out loud or in his head, since Phil was a child. Before Phil, Loki had thought he had managed to move on; to think of Steve Rogers and not feel anything aside from a vague sense of something being amiss.
Then Phil had come home, wearing a cowl that, while not the same, had looked similar. He had wanted to talk about no one but this brave (foolish, kind, stupid, so so stupid, big hearted and stubborn and lost and had just wanted to do the right thing) soldier who had sacrificed himself during the World War II. Loki was a primary source about the topic, even if no one knew, aside from his son, who only knew because he'd seen all the identities Loki had used. When the topic of Peggy Carter had been introduced in class, Phil had been smart enough to realize why she had seemed familiar and raced home after school, asking for stories and accusing his mother for keeping first-hand stories from him.
Now, he thought he'd achieve that peace again. That is, until Captain America had been found and put his life into disarray once more.
"What do you want me to say?" Loki asks his son, almost as quietly as when Phil had started the conversation. He is angry; why did his son have to say that Steve has been asking around? "That I care? That I would love to simply abuse the opportunity to spend some time with him? Steve Rogers is clearly a fool is he lets himself wallow in the past."
"He still clearly cares about you."
"He cares about a woman who never existed in the first place."
"You existed. Still exist"
"And I'm hardly the doe eyed brunette he met decades ago."
"No, you're the cocky bastard who didn't treat him like a stick about to break in half."
"That's because he would have snapped me in half."
"Before the experiment."
"You speak of the time when women wouldn't even spare him a simple conversation. Of course he'd take interest in the first woman who treated him like all the others. Ah, silly me, he was in the army; of course, I treated him like all the others," Loki snaps, shoving aside the guilt at having lost his calm to his son. Phil takes it in stride, hands folded on top of the table, back ramrod against his chair. Watching his son, so collected, deflates his anger. He sighs.
"It is no use talking to me about this, Phil. It doesn't matter what he thinks or what he wants because I am not the person he wishes to see."
Loki goes back to his meal, not caring if Phil continues to leave his untouched. The food tastes like ash and feels too heavy in his stomach. The wine does nothing at all for him. He focuses on cutting up the meat, stabbing that instead of something else.
Phil lets him take his anger out on the food and waits until Loki is done before he clears his throat. Loki looks up, despite himself.
"He would be an idiot if he insists that he doesn't see you in Peggy Carter." Loki would snort if that wasn't undignified; words of reassurance, that's all his son's words are.
Phil rises from the table and leaves enough bills to pay for them both. Loki doesn't have to look to know. "Think about it; I won't tell him anything outside of what SHIELD has on Peggy but I will if it gets you what you want."
"And what would you know about what I want?" Loki sneers. Phil assesses him, head cocked to the side.
"That you deserve it too. Good night, mother."