Odin checks the date twice, packs his bags checks out of the motel and then checks the date again. It hasn’t changed. It’s Monday. He has five days.
Friday is the day he’s been dreading for twenty-one years. On Friday he loses everything.
There’s a photo taped to his dashboard, his sons on Baldur’s, his youngest, eighteenth birthday. Only last month. Thor, huge and blond has his arms around his dark haired brothers, Loki and the birthday boy. He put it there to cover the spot where Thor and Loki clumsily carved their names with his hunting knife.
He steps out of the car and leans on the hood and takes a steadying breath. He’s been searching for a way out of this half his life.
He’s jolted out of his thoughts by the sound of approaching footsteps; he doesn’t need to turn to see who it is. “Laufey.”
The demon grins, eyes flashing red briefly. “Odin,” He greets. “I trust you have prepared yourself?”
Odin closes his eyes wearily, “No one could prepare for what’s about to happen.” He says heavily as the demon draws closer.
“You’ve had long enough to prepare, old friend,” Laufey’s breath is cold and when he touches Odin’s shoulder his shirt crackles as frost spreads across it. “You have something of mine and I should like to get it back.”
Odin shudders, “You know as well as I do how this will end, Laufey.” He says. It’s the only thing he’s been able to hold on to; Laufey will lose even more than him.
The demon chuckles and his hand drops from Odin’s shoulder. “Oh, but Odin, you know I’ve nothing left to lose. I am already dead and in hell after all.”
By the time Odin turns around the demon has vanished. He takes a deep breath and gets back in to his car to start the ten hour drive to New Mexico.
It should take longer but he knows it won’t. He’ll reach Erik’s research lab by midnight, his boys will already be there.
“Dammit, Thor!” Loki whispers as his brother disappears in to the crumbling building. Beside him Darcy shifts.
“Should we, like, do something? I mean there could be like twenty vampires in there,” she hisses. Loki rolls his eyes. It’s not that he doesn’t like Darcy its well, she’s a little annoying when she’s not making eyes at Baldur. Speaking of Baldur...
Loki taps Darcy on the shoulder, “Follow me.”
Baldur and Jane are sneaking round the back and Loki and Darcy catch up with them easily, “Loki, what?” Baldur frowns.
“Thor went in on his own,” Darcy says loudly.
Jane gasps and Baldur says, “We have to go in after him, he’ll kill himself.”
Loki nods in agreement, “Okay, here’s what we do...”
Two hours and twelve dead vampires later they’re back at Erik’s lab celebrating. Thor, as usual, almost got himself killed trying to save the day single-handedly; Baldur was able to rescue him with Loki’s plan and Darcy filmed it all on her brand new mobile phone (Jane managed to delete it while Baldur kept Darcy distracted) It’s how it’s always been – since they were kids, Thor the reckless one, Loki who comes up the plan, Baldur who usually rescues Thor, Jane and Darcy aren’t usually with them but since they were in town they let them tag along. Loki doesn’t really mind them that much, Jane’s clever and serious and once she and Thor stopped dancing around each other and just admitted it to each other Loki and her got on well. And Darcy, well, she’s Darcy, crazy, inappropriate, kick-ass Darcy. She’s like the little sister Loki’s never wanted nor would wish on anyone.
Loki’s currently sprawled out on a table, head lolling off the edge. He’s not quite sure how he got here or why but he doesn’t trust himself to move since the rooms pirouetting around him and he can still feel the warm burn of whatever the hell Baldur had given him in his stomach. Baldur and Darcy had disappeared hours ago and Loki really does not want to know where.
Thor and Jane are still in the sitting room though, laid out on the couch together; Jane on Thor’s chest. Loki shouldn’t be watching but there’s this thing in him that won’t let him look away. It’s not like they’re doing more than kissing but still.
He watches Jane trail a hand up Thor’s arm, watches his brother wind a hand through Jane’s long hair. He pretends that feeling in his gut isn’t jealousy and closes his eyes, turning his head away.
There’s something wrong with him. He knows it the same way he knows that he’d do anything for his brothers, the way he knows the sun will rise and set each day, the way he knows that he and Baldur and Thor will make a difference someday. There’s something inside him though, something the burns and niggles and scratches at the back of his mind in quiet moments like this.
When he opens his eyes Jane has unbuttoned Thor’s shirt and Loki bites his lip. Gods, he’s fucked up. Thankfully he’s saved from more awkwardness by Erik knocking loudly on the door, “Thor, Loki, your father is here!” he calls.
Thor breaks in to an ear splitting grin, “Better not keep him waiting.” He says.
Jane kisses him on the cheek, “To be continued.” She whispers.
Loki closes his eyes again flushing, pretending to have dozed off. It must have worked because Thor shakes him gently (contrary to popular belief he can be gentle if he wants), “Wake up, Loki. Father’s here.”
Loki pretends to blink blearily and lets Thor drag him out of the room ignoring the sudden warmth that spreads through his body at his brother’s touch (wrong, wrong, so wrong)
When they get downstairs Baldur’s already there, Darcy leaning against him. Their father’s standing in front of him, they haven’t seen him for months and Loki’s a little shocked at how much older his father looks. Jane skips ahead and Odin kisses her on the cheek and pats her arm fondly and when they reach him he embraces them both but Loki can tell his heart isn’t really in it. There’s something troubling him, if Loki trusted himself he’d try to find out what was wrong but his brains still fogged with alcohol so when Odin suggests they get to bed he doesn’t argue.
He’s sharing a room with Thor and Baldur, they drew straws for the two beds and Thor ends up on the floor. Erik locks them in, Jane and Darcy may not be his daughters but he raised them both and although he says he only locks the doors ‘in case’ they all know the real reason. Thor grumbles about it and Baldur laughs at him and suggests he whisk Jane off to the caravan out back like he did and it’s at this point the Loki groans and begs them to shut up. After much teasing they do and Loki says; “Do you think Dad seemed a little off today?”
Baldur rolls over to face him, “Off how, Lok?”
“I dunno, just off. Like there was something bothering him. I mean he was in a bit of a hurry to get us to leave.”
“Maybe he just wanted to catch up with Erik,” Thor grumbles sleepily from the floor. “It’s probably nothing, Loki.”
Baldur nods, “Yeah, he probably had a long drive, don’t worry.”
“I wasn’t worried,” Loki mutters, “I just-” but he’s too tired to argue. Whatever it is he’ll find out in the morning.
“Do you ever regret it?” Odin asks as Erik pours him another vodka, Erik glances up at him.
“Quitting hunting to look after Jane, and then Darcy, even though they weren’t yours.”
Erik smiles softly, “I don’t think I ever could,” he says quietly. “A lot safer, right? Besides, I would have never gotten all my research done and where would we be without some of that stuff?”
Odin nods and takes a gulp of the drink. It’s bitingly cold and it burns his throat. When he puts down the empty glass he looks up to find Erik watching him. “You know Friday is-”
“Of course I know,” Odin snaps, then he sighs. “Sorry, Erik.”
“Its okay, Odin. What are you going to do? What are you going to tell them?”
Odin shakes his head and reaches for the bottle.
“Do you regret it?” Erik asks. “What you did...If you could go back in time and undo it all, would you?”
Odin downs the glass he’s just poured for himself and thinks about the photo taped to his dashboard, the clumsily carved names underneath it. “No,” he says eventually. “I never could.” He smiles softly.
Erik nods and smiles back at him, “I’m sure whatever happens it will turn out okay in the end, my friend. You deserve it.”
“Thank you, I do to.” Odin says even though he knows it won’t.
“You can sleep in Frigg’s old room,” Erik says, pushing the spare set of keys towards him. Odin nods and helps Erik clear away the bottles and glasses.
On his way up he unlocks the door to his sons room and peers in. They’re sleeping, they’re grown, Thor’s twenty-four, Loki twenty-one, Baldur eighteen, but in moments like these he marvels at how young they really are. When he closes his eyes he can still feel Thor’s chubby toddler face, hear Loki’s first words, see Baldur’s first faltering steps.
Part of him wants to run away and hope that without him there it’ll go differently, but he can’t risk it. He might lose them all and that, he knows, would be the very worst thing to happen and not just for him.
When he closes the door there are tears in his eyes, tomorrow they’ll get a call from Nick Fury, an old hunting friend of Frigg’s. Tomorrow they’ll start their journey to the worst day of Odin’s life.