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Spirit of the Whole

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Loki adores the library. Its cavernous space is filled with the culled wisdom of the nine realms and Loki alone is lord and master in this domain. He appreciates that it is the one place his oafish brother is unlikely to venture, as the spells that ensure quiet comportment make Thor twitch and bridle at the constraint until he is forced to flee for the open air and noise of the practice grounds.

The large glass panes that illuminate the room are dulling with the oncoming twilight and Loki scowls, flicking his fingers at the shielded laps to ignite their wicks so he can continue his study of the Midgardian anatomical text spread before him. The luscious tracery of red and blue stained into the vellum before him are a puzzle he desperately wants to understand and he stands up, off to search for other complementary texts.

He remembers where the books of Aesir medicine lie and he’s fairly certain he can find the Vanir and Ljosalfr texts as well. As he gathers up the books and scrolls, he wonders if they have any texts about the Jotun but decides to return to his table first as his arms are overburdened and he dares not challenge the librarian by mistreating the materials (for if Loki were said to be afraid of anyone, it would be Skalli, the crone that keeps the materials in order and readily available).

As he carefully stacks the books and places the scrolls against the rests, he feels the air shift behind him. Thinking it was likely his mother come to summon him from his sulk over the debacle with Brokk a few weeks past, he turns, lips twisted up into a parody of a welcoming smile.

The smile freezes on his still healing lips as he see the face of an vaguely familiar man dressed in the dusty worn armor of a warrior. Beside his travel stained raiment, he looks half mad, dark bruises setting his eyes deep in their sockets and a livid scrape maring the side of his face.

He opens his mouth to ask what business the stranger has and why he is invading Loki’s realm when a very familiar hand movement has his lips sealing together as the words dry in his throat.

He can feel the rush of panic in the face of clearly superior magic and hard on the heels of that, stunned arousal at just how much it makes him want this man. Wants to own him, study him, take him apart, soak him in and keep him forever. Loki wants to be him.

The other smirks, as if reading his thoughts from the air between them, and leans in close, cool breath puffing over Loki’s youth rounded cheeks.

“Scream, if you must.”

Loki knows his eyes are foal wide but he shakes his head, reluctant to do anything that would spur this man into disappearing into the ether again. Instead, he leans back, propping his backside on the edge of the table, and holds out his hands, palms up and empty, signaling his surrender.

“Do you know me, little princeling?”

Loki shakes his head, completely unable to part his lips. The still healing wounds that ring his mouth sting, but he continues to try, wanting nothing so much as to ask every question he can think of and any that might arise later.

The other just nods, arms crossed against his chest and for long moments they stand, silently taking one another in. Finally, the other pushes forward and leans down, “Oh my dear lost Loki, you know me, you do, nearly as well as you know yourself. You have simply to look.” And Loki feels the other’s magic release him and his mouth flies open with a gasp. He steps closer. One step then two, and looks using more than just his eyes, letting the pale green wash of his fledgling magic spill out and over the other.

When his magic collides with the other’s body, Loki feels a thrum low in his belly that pulls a startled cry from his throat and his head snaps back, locking on the other’s eyes. “Mmmm. There it is. You do.” The pursing of the other’s lips bring tiny silver scars into the light of the lanterns and Loki’s fingers fly up, touching the scabs that ring his own mouth.

“I always said I was the smart one.” Loki shudders at the half mad smirk and wonders what terrible things have him laid so low in the future. He wonders if he’s to be allowed to speak and tries again to open his mouth, tired of feeling like a mute.

“What brings you here to me?”

The other (and Loki has no clue what to call him as calling both Loki would just get confusing) opens his mouth to respond, but freezes, silenced by the tread of heavy feet. The footfall is familiar and Loki groans, letting his shoulders slump at the thought of having to explain this to Thor of all people. When he raises his head, his older counterpart is still there, but largely cloaked in shadow and holding one long slender finger to his lips. Loki bites at his own lip but winces when the move pulls a scab free and he wipes hastily at the leaking blood.

Thor rounds the corner of the shelf and stomps to Loki, slapping him on the shoulder hard enough to have the slender god grabbing for a chair to keep from being born to the floor by the pressure of the greeting. Thor’s voice is constrained by the spell that protects the sanctity of the room but somehow he still sounds overly loud to Loki’s ears.

“Brother, Mother would have you put away your dusty tomes and join us in the hall for feasting and merriment. She has secured a skald for the evening, and everyone knows how you enjoy challenging their wit.”

Loki grimaces at that, knowing that his mother is trying to move past the embarrassment of the failed wager with Brokk, and shakes his head.

“I have little desire to put myself on display for the curious people of Asgard. I have things here I would rather be doing, so if you’ll be gone, I’ll return to them.”

“But surely you must eat.”

“I find my stomach able to handle but a little food at a time after my stint behind Brokk’s stitches.”

Thor nods, but looks so much like a kicked hound that Loki relents. "Go now and I’ll find you come morning. We’ll take the horses and spend the day riding, hunting if you wish. Just let me finish my tasks tonight.”

Thor nods, “I’ll make your excuses to mother. She will be gladdened to hear of our outing tomorrow. She worries over you, brother.”

With one final teeth rattling slap, Thor is gone, bounding his way from the library. It is not until he hears the door swing shut that he releases the breath he had been holding. Behind him the air currents shift as the other unwraps the shadows and approaches him. His magic sing at the blending of sympathetic styles and he leans back, pressing his back into the curve of the other’s chest and arm.

They stand silently, both reluctant to move until Loki feels a tremor wrack the other and he pulls away, spinning quickly to catch an expression of pain before the other can smooth his face back to the blank mask of earlier.

“Are you hurt?”

“Many times by many people. I will not die of my wounds if that is your concern.”

“Not especially. I asked if you were hurt, not if you would die.”

The other quirks an eyebrow, but answers. “I was quite soundly beaten during my last battle. I fear some of my ribs were unable to weather the blows intact.”

Loki hisses, knowing well the annoying pain and frustration of injuries such as those. He offers a hand to the other and speaks, “Come, my room is secure and I’ll help you bind your chest. Now is the time with the rest of the court likely in the great hall.”

Loki watches the other carefully as he looks from Loki’s face to his outstretched fingers. Grasping the offered hand, he follows swiftly as they stride out of the library and down the halls to Loki’s quarters.

As Loki assumed the halls are empty, and they reach his rooms unchallenged. The closing of his door behind them is a relief and Loki slumps for a moment. He watches the other walk around his room, touching things and smiling to himself. Loki’s almost reluctant to speak and break the reverie that seems to have settled over the other, but he knows that the night is limited and they must not linger past the dawn if he wants to keep Thor (and consequently his parents) from finding out.

“Please, sit there and I’ll go grab the bandages.” Loki points to the low settle in front of the fireplace and turns to rummage through his wardrobe, pulling down several lengths of flaxen cloth along with the clips he needs to bind them. When he turns, he finds the other bare to the waist and faced away from him. As he approaches, he sees the scars that mar the other man’s skin and he is unable to completely suppress the small gasp that escapes him. He sees the other man’s shoulders pull tight, and hurries to reassure him.

“I mean nothing by my reaction, it was surprise. It takes an incredibly strong person to survive such an injury as these.”

The other’s head drops forward and Loki smooths the hair off his neck, tracing fingertips over the knots of tissue that run from his shoulders to underneath the waistband of his pants. Letting his eyes drop shut, Loki bends forward, pressing his lips against a prominent knot of scarring to the left of the man’s spine. When he stands and opens his eyes, the other has turned to look at him over a shoulder and Loki feels his face flush before he drops his eyes and speaks to his fingers, clasped in front of him.

“If I go to far--”

“No. I only wish others were as daring as you seem to be.”

Loki picks up on the other’s confusion and shuffles around, setting the cloth aside and grabbing a pitcher of fire warmed water along with a washrag. Circling the other, he drops to his knees and wets the cloth, dragging the warm fabric over collarbones and shoulders, wiping away grey dust and red blood, rinsing the cloth when it becomes too dirty. Finally the front is done and he moves to the back, repeating the process until all the visible skin has been wiped free of dirt. Loki picks up the dirty water and crosses to the window, tipping the bowl to the ground below.

“I don’t remember learning to tend wounds like this.”

“Thor prefers to keep hunting parties small. I learned of necessity when it was just him, I and the Warriors Three.”

“No Sif?”

“The maiden? Why would she accompany us on a hunt? Besides, she is probably too busy brushing her ridiculous hair and twittering over the latest fashions to ever concern herself with which end of a sword is the correct one.”

Once more the other looks confused and Loki looks away, giving him space to sort through his thoughts without an audience. After a few minutes, he walks back, picking up the wrap and gesturing for the other to stand. Loki looks from the wrap in his hand to the man's face and draws a deep breath before asking, "Would you allow me to try something?"

The other nods his consent and Loki places cool palms against his chest, fingers splayed to touch as much skin as possible. He closes his eyes and visualizes the damage under the man's skin, pushing enough magic through his fingers to seal and strengthen the cracks until the body replaces the temporary reinforcement with its own healing.

When Loki had stumbled across the technique in a Alfar book of spells, the book had compared the technique to a cast for parts too deep inside or awkwardly placed to make a physical cast possible. He had used the spell several times with great results, stabilizing several broken ribs after a too vigorous bout of sparring and even a mason’s cracked pelvis after a rooftop fall.

Loki steps back, watching closely as the man takes a full deep breath. He carefully raises his hands above above his head before grinning.

"I'll have to get that spell from you before I leave. Is there anything you want from me in return?"

"Stay. I mean, if you don't mind. I would also appreciate anything you can tell me about what's coming."

"You know I can't tell you too much."

"But you can tell me some things."

The other nods, waving an elegant hand at Loki to begin.

“What happened to you?”

“I fell.”

“From where?”

“The bifrost.”

“But why? And please give me more than a two word answers. Thor will come find me at dawn and I'm not sure if I could explain your presence.

Loki notices his grimace at the mention of Thor's name and ventures a guess.

“Was he the reason you fell?”

“Not entirely, but he was not completely blameless either.”

“So you fell and the fall resulted in your defeat.”

“No, I met the Chitauri and a Titan. The result of that conflict set me at odds with a group of midgardian heroes and then I wound up here.”

“Did you win?

“Ah, but that would be telling. Now, you answer some questions of mine.”

Loki nods, eager to learn more even if he isn't asking the questions.

“Who do you trust?”

“My parents, Thor, the Warriors Three.”

The other man growls softly. "You can only ever truly trust yourself. Everyone else will ultimately betray you."

"But don't you ever long for the comfort of others?”

"A heart of ice can stand no warmth."

"A Jotnar saying."

"Yes, but more appropriate than you know right now."

"Pfft. I may have been born of the ice, but I have no loyalty to a race that would abandon me to die and refuse me recognition after I did not."

Loki could feel the burn in his cheeks, still sensitive about his mixed heritage even though it had been common knowledge since the day Odin presented a sapphire blue baby to the Asgardian court and proclaimed him companion to the prince and a second son of the House of Odin.

The other looked poleaxed, mouth gaping unattractively and Loki laughed, a surprised bark of sound that had the other man lunging forward to wrap a long fingered hand around the young man's throat.

"Apparently I misspoke the spell and landed here, but I will not suffer mockery even from myself.” Loki scrambles to pull the tightening fingers from his throat even as he rasps out a nearly unintelligible "Not mocking."

The fingers crushing his throat release him and he falls to the floor choking and gagging on the air that rushes down his damaged throat. The other crouches down in front of him and Loki feels that same familiar rush of fear and arousal sweep over him.

"You know nothing of my life. Nothing of the millennia I spent thinking I was a part of the golden throng only to be cast among the monsters. You. Know. Nothing."

Loki coughs one last time, wiping away the moisture that clings to his lashes. Carefully he crawls between the other’s spread knees and touches his face.

"For all that you suffered I am sorry. I cannot give you the revenge you seek but I can offer you comfort. Would you take what I offer?"

Loki waits on his knees watching the emotion as it flies across the others face.

Finally the other man nods and Loki surges forward, wrapping slender fingers into the man’s long hair and scraping blunt nails over his scalp. The older man’s hand comes up and frames his jaw, but unlike last time there is no pain, no fear, just a slight pressure that aligns their lips more neatly, allowing the kiss deepen.

As they kiss, Loki feels the wet swipe of the others tongue against the seam of his lips and opens his mouth, letting the other sweep in. his mouth tastes of copper and snow and Loki wants to take it all in and carry the taste on his tongue forever. Too soon, the older man pulls away, nimble fingers prying open the fasteners of his tunic to lip across one collarbone and over the jut of his shoulder. He drags his lips back to the junction of neck and shoulder, sucking the flesh hard enough to raise a dark bloom of blood under the skin. Loki watches as the other pulls back and examines the mark with a critical eye before placing a gentle kiss to the bruise and dragging his lips lower, tongue tracing down the center of his chest.

Loki wants to touch as well, placing his hands on the other's shoulders. As the other worries a series of marks onto his chest, he runs his fingers over the scars he can reach trying to keep his knees beneath him. Finally the sensations grow to be too much and he tugs them back until he feels the mattress behind his knees. Sitting on the bed puts him eye level with the other's groin and Loki reaches out, slipping the laces free. Once the laces are gone, he tugs apart the sides and leans forward, pressing a kiss to the skin above the other's erection before taking it into his mouth.

For a time he just holds it in the cavern of his mouth, learning the taste and carefully running his tongue over the veins. Eventually the other loses patience and carefully presses his hips forward, signalling his need for more. Tightening his lips, Loki pulls back until just the head remains inside of his mouth and he flicks his tongue, running it between the head and the foreskin.

"Enough."

"Would you prefer to be inside me when you spend, then?"

Loki can tell his offer surprises the other man but he still nods his agreement. Reaching for the oil, he feels the other drag his fingers over the back of his tunic and wiggles, letting the fabric slide free from its pinned position under him. The other strips the fabric away and grabs for his hips, turning Loki onto his back and working the loose fabric pants down until they are stripped from his body and tossed aside.

Loki extends the small clay vessel, dangling it from one extended finger and watching the other’s eyes trace its gently swing. Pulling the cork free, the older man splashes the oil over Loki’s belly and drags his fingers through the mess, coating them and smearing the rest to leave a slick patch to reflect the candlelight as Loki’s muscles jump and spasm at the feeling of those long fingers invading, stretching and scissoring the recalcitrant muscle into relaxing for things still to come.

By the time the other pulls his fingers free of the clinging heat of Loki’s body, the younger man is a whimpering mess on the sheets, hair disheveled and stuck to his forehead with sweat, chest heaving and fingers flexing in the badly mussed linens. The press of flesh against the furl of Loki’s body is almost a relief and he moans at the feeling of being pushed open nearly too quickly for his body to adjust to.

When there is no further for the other to go, he halts, resting his forehead against Loki’s breastbone and sucking in two deep breaths of air. Nothing is spoken, but Loki twines his fingers through the other’s thick hair, trying to convey his readiness. The other reads the permission in the younger’s action and pulls back slowly before slamming forward and wringing a startled yelp from Loki. From there on out, it is all heat and speed and friction as both climb the building tension, striving against each other, whimpering and moaning at the friction of their skin sliding against the other. Eventually, Loki feels the other’s rhythm stutter and he clamps down as the older man surges forward, grinding his hips against Loki as he shudders through his release.

Slumping forward, the other slides free before kneeling back and wrapping his hand around Loki’s shaft. A few hard pulls are all it takes to have him spilling warm and white over his belly and he shudders, feeling the other stroke him through the last few tremors of his orgasm.

For a while they lay there, content to catch their breath and stare at the ceiling, but eventually the cooing mess on Loki’s body begins to tickle and pull and he stands, crossing to the pitcher and soaking a length of cloth. After wiping himself clean, he rinses the cloth and turns to offer the cloth, but finds the other man asleep, so he gently wipes him down and pulls the blanket over his chest before tugging his tunic and pants back on.

He crosses to the door and peeks out, relieved to see the halls are still empty. Before he can talk himself out of doing what he should, even though his body cries out for sleep, he leaves, shutting the door quietly and striding back to the library and his abandoned table. He needs to clear away the books he left out before Skalli finds them.

Loki’s footfalls are loud in the deserted hallway and he reaches the library quickly, plucking the abandoned tomes from the tables and returning them to their homes. Finally he flops into the chair at the now cleared table and lets his tired head fall onto his arms. He means to get up and return to his room, truly he does, but before he realizes it, sleep has pulled him under and he knows no more.

~~~

The morning sunlight stabs through Loki's closed eyelids and he groans, turning his head and reaching for his blankets before the fact that he never made it to bed registers in his tired mind and he flails, nearly unseating himself. Pulling his head up, he grimaces at the ache in his back and the foul taste in his mouth. The remnants of his dream cling to the inside of his skull like cobwebs and he shakes his head to unseat them. He vaguely remembers a promised hunt but prays it was just a part of his dream as well since the thought of riding all over the kingdom with his brother makes him want to fling himself from a convenient peak.

Shifting has him hissing and the last night’s events speed through his brain. Quickly he stands and runs from the room, slamming a shoulder into Skalli and earning a stinging thump to his ear. He doesn’t slow however and races to his room, hoping against hope that his visitor is still there.

He flings open his door, but finds the fire burned out and the room empty and he feels his heart sink. Crossing to the bed, he sits carefully and then flops down, arms flying over his head to impact the pillows. When his hand hits the surface of his pillowcase he hears the crackle of paper and turns over, crawling up the bed to dig through the bedding and find the source of the noise.

Finally, his hands close around a scrap of paper, although it’s thinner and lighter than any he’s encountered before and its face is covered in blocky black print. He can’t figure out what it says and flips it over to find a handwritten note in a remarkably similar hand.

“If ever you find yourself bound and gagged and in need of escape, the spell is gøra una ø̇́rȧ. It will take you where you need to be.”