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Through the Front Door

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One of the problems with living with Loki was how he could be normal for days, even weeks, at a time, but then he would do something that reminded her that his brain went someplace she couldn't follow.

He'd been sound asleep when she'd left, not stirring either for her alarm or her kiss goodbye. At lunch, it had taken him an hour to respond to her text, and even then it had been a terse, "writing."

'Writing' could mean lots of things: it could be actual composing, it could be playing the same chords over and over, or it could be sitting on the couch with vodka, reading bad poetry he'd dug out of a book bargain bin. The only part she was sure it meant was he had no intention of leaving the flat. She hoped she'd find a good mood if it had gone well, since he was just as likely to be in a depressed mess if it had gone poorly.

"Hey, I'm home!" she called as soon as the elevator doors opened.

The blinds were open, which was good because it meant he'd opened them at some point during the day. The view of the city was, as always, brilliant at night – and for all she sometimes hated being all the way out here, it was worth the view.

"I'm here," he responded, from the direction of the keyboard set up and she pivoted to look that way. He was sitting in the high-backed chair, only the back of his head and one bare foot tapping against the table leg visible.

She heard a snippet of music before he muted it. "I have a new song!" he announced. "One I think is a good start. I don't like the bridge yet, and the second verse needs work, but I want you to hear." He turned his chair as he spoke, and she was glad that he seemed enthusiastic about the day's progress.

Then her lips parted, but she found nothing at all to say.

He was wearing the ancient grey t-shirt that he loved and she hated because it was a shapeless disgrace and so thin it was practically transparent. But that wasn't what made her remember sharply that her sweetheart, though undeniably intelligent and talented, was also a nutcase.

Because he had on nothing else. Nothing.

He wasn't looking at her with that wicked grin that he'd done it to try to seduce her or he was doing it as a joke.

No, he was, in fact, still going on about the key change in his song enthusiastically, and he didn't falter in that until he finally noticed her expression. "What? I should shut up and let you hear it, shouldn't I? Sorry, got carried away."

She deliberately lowered her eyes from his, down to what he was rather casually letting just hang there all in the open. "Did you forget to put on clothes this morning?"

He had to look down as if he had no idea what she was talking about. "Oh. Oh! Right. Yeah, I was toweling off when I came up with the second half of the chorus and I didn't want to lose it."

"You didn't notice the rest of the day?"

"Of course I noticed," he protested, though she wasn't sure that was true. He shrugged. "Didn't bother me."

She might have pointed out that the blinds were open, but there weren't many windows capable of looking in this high, and he didn't care anyway.

"Anyway," he said, leaning forward, completely dismissing the topic as irrelevant, "about the new song, I was thinking –"

She interrupted, kind but firm, "Sweetie. I'm gonna need you to put on pants before you say anything more."

His brow knotted. "But why?" he complained. "It's nothing you haven't seen before."

Which was true, of course. She had seen and touched all of that before, but that was different. That was in bed, or having fun, not coming home from a long day battling greedy people trying to steal from her clients and finding him dangling all over the chair. She was never sitting in or touching that chair again.

Her eyes strayed downward, noticing that he was definitely reacting to her presence. So, okay, maybe his being half-naked wasn't all bad. "Do you want me thinking about the song, or about banging you into the chair?" she asked, lifting her brows at him.

It was a visible moment as his mind shifted away from the song, and his eyes fixed on her with interest and new clarity. That familiar wicked smile curved his lips. "Well... if I have to choose..." He set down the earphones and crooked a finger to beckon her closer. "I've been very lonely today, and I missed you," he said, quite piteously. She laughed, knowing it was a lie; if he hadn't thought pants were important, he had probably forgotten she existed, but right now, his attention was all on her.

That focus was impossible to resist, especially when he was practically naked, and she was wearing a skirt. The bedroom seemed far away.

She bent down to kiss him. "Hi honey," she whispered, "I'm home."