“Little brother! Just who I was looking for.”
“Loki! Don’t scare me like that.”
“Trimming your mistletoe again, I see,” Loki said, looking down at the shredded and crushed remains of what had once been a perfectly good poisonous parasitic vine.
“It’s a nervous habit, I’m afraid,” Balder sighed.
“Ah. Then I take it you already know what I came to tell you.”
“I dearly hope I do.”
“My wife and your... lady friend,” Loki chose, after one of his infamous How Do I Make This Sound As Condescending As Possible? pauses. “Giggling about things they find on that... computer.”
“Thank goodness, I do know.”
“You are disgustingly easy to please.”
“No, I’m just glad I don’t have any more bad news to process today.”
“This is all Thor’s fault,” Loki declared as he and Balder watched Nanna and Sigyn head toward the computer hall, arm in arm and giggling already.
“I’m afraid I don’t see how.”
“He brought that Jane Foster into Asgard, and she brought her infernal machines and her absurd request for magical interstellar communication as a wedding gift.”
“If we must assign blame, that makes it Jane’s fault, not Thor’s.”
“Yes, but I like Jane. She’s the only other intelligent person in Asgard. And she made for an adorable pet rodent that one time.”
“Your high opinion of us is heartwarming as ever. I feel obliged to point out though, dear brother, that your love of Jane is what made the interstellar internet possible in the first place.”
“And I would undo the spells in a heartbeat if it weren’t for that same love of Jane.”
“I wish I had the heart to threaten to tell Sigyn how you gush about Jane. And that it would matter any.”
“Don’t think I didn’t see what you did there, little brother.”
“They do know we’re brothers, right?”
Loki gave Balder a Look. Balder deliberately misinterpreted the obvious ‘no, we’re not’ present there.
“I don’t mean Sigyn and Nanna, they’re doing it on purpose. I mean the mortals. The ones writing those stories about us.”
“Oh, them. Yes, they do. Haven’t even caught up to the fact that I was adopted yet. They’re also under the impression that I’ve murdered you.”
“Yes. They’re ever so fond of me down there. It’s just like home.”
“Oh, Loki, that’s not...” Balder drifted off, then asked out of morbid curiosity: “Murdered me how?”
Loki grinned like a fiend. “Oh, I was hoping you’d ask me that...”
“I just don’t understand,” Balder said several days later. His face was so pinched Loki suspected it must have been stuck that way ever since their last conversation. “If they know we’re brothers, and they think you murdered me... how do they rationalize a – a romantic affair?”
“The popular theory seems to be that my forbidden incestuous lust drove me to madness and I comitted a crime of passion. Half the time you come back to life and show your forgiveness through sex that heals my troubled soul. The other half I contemplate suicide in order to join you in death and pretend the incest is less revolting when we don’t have physical bodies anymore through which we are supposedly related. As if that is where the urge to vomit comes from! You should see your face right now, little brother!”
“You’ve read it?”
“I tried to talk Sigyn out of reading any more of the filth. Having actual examples to refer to seemed like a good idea at the time. It didn’t work.”
“You’ve rubbed off on her, brother.”
“But who has rubbed off on Nanna, I wonder?”
Balder turned red as a tomato.
“I’ve created a monster.”
“Can I have it?”
“Not that kind of monster. Nanna.”
“Oh, do tell.”
Balder’s mouth opened and closed ineffectively several times before he could answer. “She wanted to read excerpts from some of the stories to me. And... roleplay them. In bed.”
Loki would never claim to be a nice big brother. He laughed.
“Brother, what are you doing in my bedroom.”
“Sigyn told Sif, who told the Warriors Three, who told absolutely everyone, about those vile ‘shipping fics’. I am not sharing a bed with that infernal woman again this century!”
“And you think crawling into bed with me is the answer?”
“No! Loki, this is a bad idea. Go away.”
“No. Scoot over.”
“Leave before somebody sees you!”
“Nobody will see, the royal quarters are off-limits. Now scoot over!”
The door promptly flew open.
“Little brother! L – Loki?” Thor faltered, looking wide-eyed from his half-brother to his adopted brother, both of whom were suddenly intensely aware of the compromising position they had manouvred themselves into while wrestling for the sheets.
Loki slapped a hand over his face.
“I do not understand.”
“You’re not the only one, Thor.”
“But you swear to me that not a word of it is true?”
“As do I.”
“That’s a relief, Balder.”
Loki fumed at the implication. “Just be glad Jane isn’t right there reading over Nanna and Sigyn’s shoulders.”
Thor was never nervous. Right now, he was only rapidly approaching panic. “Jane has found stories that include me!”
Loki would never claim the mortals were wrong to call him spiteful, either. He laughed until he was blue in the face.