Loki attempted to distract himself from the scene unfolding just to the left and a good ways behind Volstagg, focusing instead on the bear-like gastronome's next demonstration.
"This," said the Warrior with a flourish as he poured, "Is a creation of my very own, I call it 'Troll Smiter.'"
"Sounds like a rather trite name for a battle-axe," said Loki, leaning on one of his hands and watching Volstagg pour the potent mixture of liquids, alcoholic and otherwise.
The full-bearded man just guffawed, in too jovial a mood to pay any mind to Loki's sarcasm, "I call it that because it is strong enough to knock a full grown troll off his feet!"
Loki just gave the sample Volstagg poured and dubious look and knocked it back, letting the drink curl around in the pit of his stomach. As his stomach churned and he grabbed a handful of roasted almonds, Loki wasn't so much "struck" by a realization as he was given a hearty, inebriated pat on the back. He should have been able to taste the alcohol in that last drink, but he hadn't. And now he was eating almonds, which he didn't even like.
I am drunk.
"That makes two of us!" said Volstagg, mouth stretching into a wide, squinty-eyed grin.
Loki started at the rotund warrior without comprehension until it came to him: he must have said his last thought out loud. Tossing the remaining almonds he held away in disgust, Loki made a mental note to be extra careful as drink seemed to loosen his tongue.
"Do not look so sullen, Loki. Now is the time for merry making!" Volstagg scolded, reaching across the table for a leg of roast boar.
"You are right, friend" said the trickster with a smile, "and joy is best when it is shared. May I take that glass of your delightful concoction?" Loki asked, pointing to the rather large, nearly full tumbler of "Troll Smiter."
He was glad that, besides the slip of the tongue earlier, his eloquence was otherwise unaffected.
"Yes, by all means, but do not quaff it all at once!" said the bearded man, chuckling.
"Oh never fear, I intend to share it," said Loki, punctuating his sentence with a wicked grin.
It felt as if he moved much too fast when he stood up, and Loki watched the world sway for a moment before snatching up the drink.
"Ho, ho, steady on there," said Volstagg, reaching out as if to take Loki by the elbow, but missing by a good foot.
"I am fine, I can walk," snapped Loki, "I'm just fine."
"I do not doubt it," the warrior said between chuckles, trying to regain some composure, "Truly, truly, I don't."
Loki just shot the laughing fool a scowl and let the subject drop, he had more important things to concern himself with—such as ending the disgraceful display he had been doing his best to ignore.
Earlier in the evening Thor had challenged him to a game of "beer-checkers" where the playing pieces were replaced with flagons of the drink; though Loki could not imagine why, since his brother could not beat him even under the most favorable of circumstances. By the end, Loki was only mildly buzzed from a few necessary sacrifices, while Thor was quite inebriated. After Thor walked over to loudly congratulate Sif on the battle prowess she had displayed that very afternoon, Loki had been coaxed into sampling Volstagg's repertoire of mixed drinks. That, however, was not distraction enough. Loki could not decide which was more disgusting: Thor's drunken, lamentable attempts to flirt with the female warrior, or the fact that Sif seemed to be falling for them.
Loki would do them all a favor and put this ridiculous charade to and end, in the name of common decency if nothing else. At least, that is what he told himself.
He made it over to Thor and Sif without mishap, but when sat on the arm of the sofa they were sharing, he overbalanced and sloshed some onto the floor and down his hand. Paying the spill no mind, Loki just switched which hand held the glass and jumped right in, "Hello, brother."
"Loki!" said the blonde man turning from Sif, who had been whispering something in his ear, and giving his brother a wide grin.
"Look, I have brought you something Volstagg showed me. He calls it 'Troll Smiter,'" said Loki, handing over the drink, sending Sif his sweetest smile in response to her death glare.
Thor took a moment to consider the contents, downed the lot, and threw the glass across the room where it smashed just to the left of the hearth with a resounding crash.
"A marvelous drink! But brother, you are looking well into your cups," said Thor, grabbing onto Loki's leg to steady him.
With his arms crossed and head tipped all the way to his shoulder, Loki decided his brother was probably right and there was no shame in agreeing, "I suppose I am."
Thor laughed and gave the trickster's leg a hearty shake, almost dislodging him, before turning to Sif "Did you hear that? Loki has just agreed he is drunk!"
"Yes, I heard," said Sif, completely dead-pan.
"But we are here today to celebrate Sif's valiant slaying of the mighty Glam," Sif was about to thank Loki for the complement when she noticed he had never taken his eyes off his brother, "Where were you, Thor, that you let someone else get all the glory? Skulking behind rocks and trees?"
"Skulking is more your area, brother," said Thor, still grinning, "Is that what you were up to, that you missed all the action?
"Um, Thor, we were having a discussion—" Sif attempted to interject, but Loki just talked over her.
"I was more concerned with the foes that had snuck up around our flank, my dear brother. I hope you understand why I was a little preoccupied."
"Were you now?"
"Excuse me," said Sif, "but we were in the middle of something, weren't we, Thor."
Deliberately misinterpreting the female warrior's statement, Loki gave his brother an exaggerated poke on the shoulder and said, "Yes, what were you doing during the battle, brother, I am, as yet, in the dark."
Thor shifted his grip to the slighter man's elbow as Loki tipped dangerously on his precarious perch, "I was at the front, drawing the brunt of the enemy's attack."
"He was creating a diversion," said Sif, attempting to drop the subject, "Maybe you should go back and ask Volstagg for another drink, Loki?"
"No, I am not thirsty, thank you for your concern," said the trickster to Sif, quickly turning back and coaxing Thor into an extended retelling of the battle.
While the three continued to tease and bicker, Volstagg had gone over to watch Fandral and Hogun finish their game of Tafl.
"What brings you here, Volstagg?" asked Fandral cheerfully after taking a deep swig from his mug.
Hogun was concentrating fiercely on the board, and ignored Volstagg's arrival. It hardly took an expert to realize he was well on his way to losing spectacularly.
"I have just come to watch you two play and share this plate of sandwiches," said the red-head with a grin, sitting down between the two players and taking a good look at the board, "Oh, I would not move there, if I were you."
"I do not need your help," said Hogun testily, but moved his hand from the piece he had been hovering over.
Fandral happened to look to his right and noticed the scene unfolding between Loki, Thor, and Sif. Although he could not make out the words, it was obvious things were becoming heated.
But before he could even think to do anything about it, Hogun said, "It is your move," and Fandral returned his full, if somewhat inebriated attention to the game.
"Alright," said Thor, interrupting a glaring match between his two companions, "I think we could all do with another drink. Sif, what would you like?"
The female warrior shrugged sullenly, "Whatever, a mead."
"Choose for me, Thor. I have tried just about everything," said Loki aloofly.
As soon as Thor was out of earshot, Sif leaned in and hissed, "Jealousy suites a prince poorly, Loki."
"Too see a quintessential example of the vice, you have only to look in the mirror," Loki hissed back.
"That is the most outrageous case of pot-calling-kettle I have ever—"
"I feel I must inform you, you become quite ugly when you are in a vicious mood."
"I do not care whether people think I am pretty or not."
"Maybe you should."
Before things could escalate any further, Thor returned with the promised drinks. He gave Sif her goblet of mead and received a polite "Thank you," in return.
The blonde then gestured to the drinking horn in his other hand, "I thought we could share this, Loki, it is the biggest drinking horn in all of Asgard! It is best to share, and the vessel is like your helmet!"
Loki thought Thor was being a little overenthusiastic in the comparison. It was much larger than the horns on his armor, reaching almost four feet and distinctly spiraled… though the trickster was forced to admit to himself it would make a very impressive head ornament.
Thor flopped down on the sofa with a grin, but almost as soon as he sat, Sif sprang up.
"I am done with this," she scoffed, and began to walk towards the door, obviously irritated, "if you still want to meet as you promised, you know where to find me."
There was dead silence for a long moment. It was suddenly broken by Hogun's soft groan, which sounded unnaturally loud because of the pause.
"I resign," he said, most dejectedly.
"It was a good game, friend. We should play again, perhaps luck will be or your side the next time!" said Fandral good-naturedly.
"Why did Sif leave in such a hurry," Hogun asked Thor, shift the subject away from his recent defeat.
"I do not know what I did," he replied, "women can be very strange."
"You know how it is," whispered Loki from where he sat beside Thor, having moved into the vacant spot on the sofa, "females and their monthly problems. It makes all of their actions quite inscrutable, anything can set them off."
Thor nodded in exaggerated understanding.
Because he was out of earshot, Volstagg responded to Thor's early sentiment, "Yes, they say women's hearts were fashioned on a whirling wheel."
"That reminds me of the song 'Eyvind's Wife.' The one where the refrain goes: 'and Eyvind never knew,'" Fandral said, singing the line.
"That is a good song," said Volstagg, who then struck up the first verse.
Soon they had hall gathered around the fire and joined in, even Loki. The trickster found he had somehow blundered into a happy place in his mind he never knew existed, and that taking another sip of mead to stay there was definitely an excellent idea.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Loki laughed uproariously from where he was leaning against the armrest of the sofa. Thor was holding onto his brother's ankles in what everyone assumed was self defense, since the trickster had shown a tendency to kick his feet during his fits of mirth and said feet were perilously close to Thor's lap.
"Oh, that is just awful," said Loki, only managing to get a few words out between gasps, "'The ship got sunk in a wave of spunk!'… That line!"
"I complement you on your vast repertoire of bawdy songs!" cried Volstagg, raising a glass to Fandral and taking a deep swig.
"Any small talent I have in the field is due to careful cultivation and memorization of all the best songs throughout the Nine Worlds," said Fandral, with exaggerated solemnity and only a hint of a slur.
While the others continued to banter, Loki groped around for his goblet. He had put it down on the floor beside the sofa hoping to avoid having it spilt. Thor noticed his brother squirming around; when he saw him about to topple over the arm rest and onto the floor while reaching for something, he grabbed Loki by his belt and hauled him back. With the combination of momentum and lack of coordination, Loki fell all the way back to his brother's side with an undignified yelp. Thor placed an arm around the slighter man's shoulders to keep him from getting into any more mischief.
Improbably, Loki had managed to snatch up his goblet and keep it. From the safety of his brother's arms he took a triumphant sip, holding it delicately with his fingers. The success of the maneuver had much to do with the fact that the goblet was only half-full.
After Thor and Loki emptied the exceedingly large drinking horn, it was requisitioned for general use as a pointy stick and a prop illustrating particular song lyrics. Currently it had made its way to Fandral who was using it to prod Hogun.
"Come, friend, why the long face? Do you have a song you would like to sing that we have overlooked?"
The dark haired warrior cleared his throat awkwardly and said, "Perhaps we should ask Sif what she would like, as she has just returned?"
Four heads whipped around in the direction Hogun was looking and saw Sif standing in the doorway, arms crossed and with a dark expression that boded ill.
"Oh, no," she said, "do not let my presence hinder you. Who could possibly object to such poetically profound lines as, 'the figure head was a whore in bed,' 'till they crushed his cock on a jagged rock,' and 'he fed the crew on menstrual stew.'"
Sif did not sound at all pleased. When she received no reply, she strode further into the room, stopping beside Thor, "Why am I not surprised, Thor, that you found something so absorbing to occupy your time?"
The Warriors Three could see the approaching storm a mile off. Volstagg jumped up muttering something about finding refreshments while Hogun and Fandral stared at the hearth fire as if it had suddenly become fascinating. Loki, however, stayed planted exactly where he was next to Thor. There was no chance he was going to miss this.
Leaning in very close, Sif's voice took on a low dangerous tone as she launched into her rant, "I thought we had reached an understanding, and yet you brush me off as if I were no more than one of those silly girls who flit about you at feasts. Just because you have had everything handed to you on a platter since birth does not mean you can expecting an instant replacement for anything you drop. I thought our friendship meant more to you than that!"
Loki glanced at Thor and almost felt pity for him. Sif was speaking so low and swiftly that it was obvious that the inebriated blonde was having trouble following. Every time it looked as if he was about to interrupt, she cut him off with a short "No," and dived back in.
Finally Thor managed to get out, "Sif, relax—"
But she only stood tall and raised her voice to shout over him, "Relax, you want me to relax? Thor, you can be an arrogant bastard sometimes, do you know that? It has not been easy for me—"
Thor looked as if he were trying hard to understand what she was getting at, and in a misguided attempt to defuse the situation asked, "Are you one your lady time?"
Sif leaned in close and hissed, "I am not on my 'lady time,'" and turned to storm out.
"Because if you were, and that is the cause of your ire, we would not think any less of you," called Thor after her retreating form, "These things are natural, and you have proved yourself a valiant warrior!"
But she was already long gone before Thor could conclude his well intentioned, but rather tactless statement.
As soon as he was well and truly certain Sif was out of earshot, Loki burst out laughing. Thor's lingering look of confusion turned to one of disapproval when he looked down at the shaking man still tucked under his arm.
Fandral cleared his throat awkwardly and said, "Well, I could use another drink," while Hogun remained stoically silent.
"I am afraid," said Volstagg as he crossed back to the rest of them, "our refreshments for the evening have run dry."
They had sent the servants to bed earlier so the poor souls would not have to stay up until all hours, but that also meant no one was there to fetch more food and drink from the kitchens.
"Then we have but one option," Thor declared, standing up from his seat in an attempt to be dramatic, though the effect was somewhat ruined by his nearly falling over, "To the kitchens, my bold friends!"
Volstagg and Fandral quickly echoed Thor's cry, and led a meandering path to the door, Hogun silently following along.
"Coming, brother?" asked Thor, holding his hand out to Loki.
Loki sighed, took the offered hand and said "It has been too long since we made a late night raid on the pantry, or is it early morning now?"
"Too long indeed!" said Thor, yanking much too hard and nearly toppling them both over.
Loki felt as if the world was moving much too quickly, couldn't the floor have the decency to stay still? But Thor was laughing and hauling him up with an arm hooked under his shoulder. Leaning on each other, the pair weaved their way after the others.
Once they were all gathered together in the hall, the struck out in the direction of the kitchens, Fandral leading with a song, Volstagg close behind, Hogun in the middle and Thor and Loki bringing up the rather disorderly rear. Loki was very carefully, if somewhat exaggeratedly, choosing his steps, and while Thor claimed to be holding him up, the trickster was beginning to the think it was quite the other way round. When Thor distractedly let his weight shift from one side or the other, the pair would suddenly veer off in a new direction, a state of affairs Loki found absurdly amusing. With a particularly enthusiastic gesture to accompany the current song, they surged forward and almost ran Hogun down. Thor apologized profusely and Loki giggled while the warrior simply huffed in annoyance and suggested they walk in front of him the rest of the way.
When the finally reached the kitchen and were making their way to the larder past the huge roasting pits with spits and large cauldrons, Thor said, his words slurring lazily together, "Do you remember, brother, the time when we were boys, and we snuck down at night to steal some sweetmeats?"
"And the lecture we received from mother!" said Loki.
"And the punishment was awful."
"I wouldn't have minded being stuck indoors, except for your obnoxious moaning Thor."
"The weather was perfect!" sighed Thor, "But you were always one to enjoy sitting about with books."
Loki was not sure if the smile plastered across his brother's face was genuine or teasing. He had heard similar enough words in the past intended as an insult. The mead in his system, however, prevented any over analysis. Soon enough they were all gathered around the open larder, and quickly shared out fresh goblets of mead while each man began rooting around for his favorite food.
Loki was somewhat in awe of how trivial things seemed to continue to send Volstagg, Fandral and Thor into hysterics. It was just after one of these laughing fits, while Volstagg was buttering bread and Thor had dug out an unidentified bottle, probably containing alcohol, that Hogun excused himself. After the others said their "good night's" and Loki his "good morning," there was a grand pause before the three warriors burst out laughing again. Loki had absolutely no idea what was supposed to be so funny, but found himself chuckling just the same.
"Loki…" said Thor, as he staggered over to where his brother was seated at a table, dropping a hand onto the other's shoulder, "Loki… I am so happy… that you are here. I just wanted to say that."
His brother had obviously reached a new level of inebriation, because he soon had his arm slung around Loki's shoulder and announced in a loud voice, "Friends! I just wanted to say… how fantastic it is… that my brother is here with us, having a good time."
Fandral raised his glass and said "Here, here!" while Volstagg made some sound that Loki assumed was agreement through a mouth full of cold cut beef, bits of food spraying out as he spoke.
"Really, Volstagg," said Fandral in disgust, wiping some stray bits of food from his shirt.
Turning his full attention back to his brother, Thor took Loki by the shoulders, and in what passed for a quiet voice said, "No, I mean it," something in the brunette's face must have revealed his disbelief, because Thor plowed ahead, "I am please… tonight was good…" Thor's face twisted as he wracked his brain for the words, never his strong suit, "Don't… be a stranger, brother."
There were so many things Loki could have said that were teasing or barbed, or sarcasm masked by humor, but for once it seemed as if all his cleverness had left him. His mind felt fogged and Thor's deep, blue eyes were distracting. There was something honest, something pleading, in his brother's stare that Loki did not understand.
Breaking away from his brother's gaze, Loki spotted his goblet, quickly downed the contents and let out a nervous chuckle, "Do not be ridiculous, Thor… I am here now, am I not?"
"Indeed you are!" said Thor, his mood making a complete about-face, a great grin splitting his features in half.
With renewed enthusiasm, Thor gave is brother mighty pat on the back, nearly sending Loki sprawling. After that, Loki decided it was much safer if he just let his head rest on the table, musing on the number of "friendly" back-smacks, arm-punches, and head-butts he would be forced to endure if a night like this was ever repeated.
"You know," said Fandral, "it seems as if Loki is done for the night… maybe we should return him to his chambers?"
"I shall take care of my brother!" declared Thor.
The trickster wanted to sit up insist that he did not need any help, but the table was surprisingly comfortable and lifting his head up was too much trouble, "I'm fffine… don't mind me."
"We should probably make sure he does not get sick…" said Fandral.
Though not even nearly sober, Fandral still had enough sense to see the potential flaws in Thor's plan. He looked towards Volstagg for back up, but he seemed more concerned with his goblet and dish of food.
"Fear not! I will watch over him… it will be like when we were boys!" said Thor.
Watching a drunk Thor trying to juggle two goblets and a bottle while attempting to lift his brother up from his seat did not leave Fandral feeling particularly reassured. But, as Thor continued to ramble about some type of sleep-over-fort-tent, he decided it was best to leave well enough alone and find his own bed. Thor could be a force of nature in his own right, thunder or no, and if he wanted to have a nostalgic night with his brother while completely liquored up, Fandral had no intention of stopping him.
*All quoted lyrics from in this chapter are from a song called "The Good Ship Venus" performed by Loudon Wainwright III. If I quoted the song in full, I'd have to up the rating! :)
This is the last chapter I have previously written. I tried very hard not to over-do it on the angst, but still have enough for the right balance. O_o It was a lot harder than I remember it being, probably because I wrote it all over-the top in the past! :)
The brothers were seated at the foot of the bed in Thor's room as a fire burned in the hearth, the room around them in utter chaos from their inebriated fort building antics. Loki could not remember feeling more at ease and content, with the fire blazing dangerously high and Thor a sopping wet mess beside him—both his fault.
"It's not working," said Thor, who immediately began to strip off his damp clothes.
"Good, you were leaving a wet spot on the bed anyway."
The fire had been a drunken scheme to dry the blonde prince off after Loki dumped a large pitcher of water of his head for a particularly boorish comment, and like many drunk schemes, it was not particularly well thought out or successful.
Loki watched the dancing glow of the fire, a perfect mirror of the way the drink had worked its way through his veins. So entranced was he that he didn't notice Thor had made a wad of his damp garments until his brother first squeezed it out then and dumped the lot into his lap.
"Ugh, Thor!" Loki cried out, shoving the wad to the floor.
But it was too late, the damage was done. Loki looked at his now damp lap with disgust. The blonde continued to laugh uproariously while snatching up his clothes. Making something of an impromptu game of it, Thor managed to toss his shirt over a chair from a reasonable distance, but the rest of his garments made less impressive landings on the floor in a straggling line.
"You must admit… brother," said Thor with a lopsided smile while he threw, "it is a fair recompense!"
Loki gave Thor a pointed scowl; it was infuriating to see his brother looking so smug while wearing not a stitch of clothing. The light flickered over the planes of Thor's figure, making him appear even more golden and shining. But as always, it was a deceptive vision. Loki could not look away from his brother's laughing, blue eyes. Behind all that brightness lay an untamed violence.
Thor sat back down after taking another swig from the open bottle, only to immediately jump to his feet with a yelp.
"Ugh, it is wet!"
Now it was Loki's turn to laugh as he attempted to remove his own damp trousers with surprisingly numb fingers; Thor's wildly swinging arms and comically exaggerated frown were priceless.
Thor crawled heavily up the mattress, fumbling with the bedclothes until he managed to bundle up a sheet around his waist. He flopped directly in the center of the great bed and pat the space beside him, "Come here, brother."
Loki was still wrestling the shockingly stubborn pant-leg off his foot and did not reply. When he finally managed to yank it off, the trousers when flying and landed dangerously close to the fire. Loki crawled over, a safer option than walking, and snatched them back closer to the bed.
After hauling himself back up on the mattress, far away from where Thor had been sitting, he said, "Do you think the fire's too wild?"
"Nah," Thor drawled, "it's fine."
The fire popped and threw off a tongue of flame that leapt out over the mantle, as if in deliberate defiance. Loki just huffed doubtfully under his breath. Never again would he attempt to magically start a fire while drunk.
Without warning, Thor grabbed his brother by the arm and hauled him to the center of the bed. "Loki…" he said, staring intently into Loki's eyes, hand never loosening its iron grip.
The blond looked as if he were searching for something, words, or maybe even ideas. But, instead of speaking he swiftly pulled Loki into a fierce embrace.
Loki suddenly felt intensely, alarmingly drunk, his mind reeling off to dizzy, unimagined heights. He could feel his brother's hands digging into his flesh as if the warrior could draw him even closer through brute strength alone. Just when Loki began to wonder how much longer this would go on, and what it meant, Thor drew back, leaving his hand wrapped around the back of his brother's neck.
"Is it not strange?" he said, "I have missed you… though you have never been gone."
Thor's words were slurred, but carried the blunt honesty that often comes with drink. Loki remembered him saying something similar earlier that evening. It was just like his brother to get stuck reiterating the same sentiment over and over, like practicing the swing of a sword or a battle stance, as if mere repetition would breed truth and understanding.
But Loki did not think in the same way. The repetition of a lie did not make it truer. The truth, if only spoken once never grew to be false, and yet the truth was the rarest. Loki wanted to believe that. He wanted to believe he did not need something as pathetic as reaffirmation to know he had done well, was still doing well. But that did not change how he longed for it, and Loki hated that he lacked control over something so private as his own emotions.
As if sensing Loki's darkening mood, Thor drew his brother closer and impulsively kissed his forehead before drawing back to look his brother in the eye.
Thor had always been physically demonstrative as a child, freely giving hugs and kisses whenever the mood struck him. Although their mother was one of Thor's obvious favorites, it was Loki who was most often on the receiving end of Thor's affections. They were almost constantly in each others company and, as Loki assumed later, he was the easiest target. Though he would never admit it, Loki had enjoyed all the attention.
When they grew older, Thor hit a point where the hugs and kisses suddenly stopped, replaced with arm-punches and back-slaps. The closest thing he gave to a hug was a hand around the back of Loki's neck. Loki always wondered about the change, were the hugs just a phase? Did Thor abandon them as "too childish" or maybe even too "sentimental" for a warrior?
But with the deep look in Thor's eyes at that exact moment, Loki began to wonder if the suppression was something else entirely.
Impulsively pulling his brother close once again, Thor planted a second kiss sloppily on the corner of Loki's mouth, and said, "Let's sleep now."
Wrapping his arms around his brother and dragging Loki down with him, Thor snuggled in with a contented sigh. Loki's own thoughts were churning.
Were Thor's actions deliberate? Or merely exaggerated affection fueled by drink? Had he missed Loki's cheek?—an old familiar target, or his lips? Without warning, all of Loki's own well hidden thoughts and desires came bubbling up from within, choking him.
Suddenly Loki felt terrifyingly sober; the haze stripped away leaving only the jagged, sharp edged truth. Whatever this was, it was something he could never have in the light of day. Thor would never cross that line, never let others see the depth of what lay between them, never understand the twisted longings deep in Loki's heart. Jealous of Thor, jealous over Thor, it made very little difference in the end. The second prince of Asgard could never be free of his brother, and yet neither could he have all of Thor's attention, all of his love.
Loki felt as if he were being ripped in two: his love for Thor and the need to be loved warring with his growing loathing for Thor's arrogant, hot-headed, ignorant nature that no one dared to acknowledge.
He could feel warm tears running down his cheeks before he even realized he was crying. Thor tightened his arms around Loki, attempting to give him some comfort, but it was useless. The embrace only reminded Loki more thoroughly of what he could never have. The grim thought only spurring him to sob louder, while Thor whispered meaningless, unheard comforts, hands running soothingly up and down Loki's sides.
"Don't cry," said Thor once more.
But this time he took Loki's face in his hands, forcing his brother to look in his eyes.
"It will be fine," he said, planting a kiss directly on Loki's lips, "Don't cry."
Although his sobs were silenced, Loki's tears fell all the more freely. Thor murmured similar platitudes and he continued to kiss Loki between words—on the mouth, his tear stained cheeks—wet, sloppy, salt stained kisses.
Though Loki passively accepted Thor's affection at first, he gradually began to respond in kind—the press of lips becoming firmer, the pauses between Thor's words longer.
Finally pulling back to take a deep breath, Thor wrapped one broad arm securely around Loki's waist and used his other hand the draw their foreheads together. Eyes heavy-lidded, words thick and drowsy, Thor said, "I've got you, brother. Don't cry."
Using his hand, Thor drew Loki's head down into the crook of his neck and held it there. Loki could feel himself trembling from head to toe, the unacknowledged truth swimming just out of reach, taunting him. He could feel Thor's breaths even out beneath him, hear as his heartbeat slowed and sleep took the larger man. And though Loki thought he would never be able to slumber himself, it was not long before exhaustion pulled him under as well.
Chapter 4: Part 4
I wrote it! This part was awkward because I felt like I needed to tie every thing up, but I didn't want to just repeat all the dialogue from the last chapter of The Bird of Forgetfulness verbatim. Also I was having trouble putting together my thoughts into sentences that made sense. I'm going to blame it on Loki for being such a twisty little MF. So, I only kind of included everything I wanted D:
I've started to hate taunting "maybe I'll write I third story," but I've already wrote the first chunk, so I'll go ahead and say it. But I'm going to approach that story a little differently.
Also: Bonus deleted scene at the end. (Because I liked it, but they were too sober sounding, oops! Also, the transition was killing me.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When Loki came to the next morning, it did not take him long to decide he would have preferred to never wake up again. The pain in his head was all consuming, almost beyond sensation. Just when Loki thought it could not get any worse, it slowly dawned upon him: whatever was in his stomach right now was going to make a hasty exit at any moment.
Loki sat up with one thought in mind: he had to reach the toilet. There was no way he was going to do something as disgusting and undignified as vomit in bed.
As he emptied the contents of his stomach several times, a distant part of Loki's mind registered the fact that Thor was now up and moving about. And yes, with his unfailingly imperfect timing he was yelling things at Loki. The trickster replied as well as he was able, but was more focused on the desperate hope that Thor would leave him alone—unless, of course, the idiot had some mystical, as yet unknown means of relieving Loki's misery.
When if felt as if the wave of sickness was finally abating, Loki began to shiver, and he wondered how he went from being oppressively hot moments before to trembling with cold. He let his pounding head rest on the cool porcelain of the nearby tub in an awkward, uncomfortable way that nevertheless helped relieve the pain—if he ignored the cold and aches everywhere else.
Loki did not realize Thor was hovering until a large blanket was draped over his shoulders. After desperately clutching it around his shaking form, he looked up at his brother with growing apprehension. Somehow he knew what Thor was about to say.
"So… last night…"
"No. Do not tell me you forgot."
Thor's sheepish grin was all the answer he needed. The oaf kept speaking, but Loki was only half-listening. The whole evening was now replaying in his mind's eye, down to the last twisted emotion, and Loki felt as if he would be sick again, if only he had the energy.
He needed to be alone, to think about what had happened and what to do now he knew that Thor was oblivious, but he would never be able to concentrate with the fool's hovering. Attempting to marshal what wit he could through the headache and the nausea, he lighted on the perfect topic to get Thor distracted and out of his way. Throwing out a few cryptic comments about Sif and a few pathetic and sympathetic looks had Thor eating out of his hand.
Of course, then Thor had to look around and try to remember everything else. Lacking the energy to devise a new plan to distract Thor, he kept at the Sif subject until Thor finally grew concerned enough search her out. Even so, just before leaving he left a tempting, but terrifying glass of water behind. For while Loki felt thirsty enough to drink the sea, he was also equally certain he would throw it back up immediately after.
Some small part of Loki hoped the pain might be tolerable once Thor finally stopped pestering him. However, he soon changed his assessment when, after the second round, he began to dry-heave. With nothing left in his stomach to give, it felt like suffocation and he wondered why the norns could not be kinder and just let him die, rather than suffer this.
The glass stood on the bedside table as well meant, but inappropriate peace offering, like the presentation of a roast boar to a society of vegetarians.
Earlier, Loki was shocked when Thor actually returned and manhandled him into the bed, and demanded he drink the unwanted concoction the servants had left. He at least had the consolation of being offered the use of Thor's helmet as a bucket.
Thor then proceeded to stand awkwardly at the bedside until he got out the most bizarre apology Loki had yet heard from his brother—first: because it was an apology, and a reasonably sincere one at that; second: because he seemed completely unsure what he was apologizing for.
For a moment Loki had been terrified the oaf actually remembered what happened, and he would have to endure an awkward conversation he was entirely unprepared for. Thankfully it was only a product of the ridiculous ideas Thor's friends put in his head, and Loki could easily dismiss the whole thing.
Thor, of course, never knew when he'd overstayed his welcome, and proceeded to wonder about the room like a half-wit before flopping down on the bed with entirely too much force. After a final admonition to drink the restorative potion, he ignored Loki completely and immediately dropped off to sleep.
In the quiet that followed, Loki was struck by a realization more bitter than the lingering taste bile at the back of his throat. Here was Thor, out cold as if he had not a care in the world, while Loki remembered everything—every last word, every last touch, the way Thor had desperately clung to him and how some traitorous part of Loki wished to cling back.
Thor could go on as if nothing had happened while Loki would be forced to live with the lingering taste of the forbidden. He had suffered through all that inner turmoil the night before for nothing. It was another small drop in the cup of resentment Loki carried for his brother. Although it was mostly filled with little, foolish things, petty slights, but eventually even droplets would cause the cup to overflow.
It was not fair that Thor could sleep untroubled while Loki was plagued by guilt and shame. But then, life rarely was where his brother was concerned.
After collecting his thoughts, Loki made a resolution. Just because Thor did not remember what happened did not mean he must go unpunished. The oaf had been constantly going on about how much he missed spending time with Loki. Therefore, Loki would ensure just the opposite occurred. Besides thwarting Thor's wishes, spending some time in solitude would also give him an opportunity practice a few new spells he had not had a chance to try yet.
In his musings, Loki's eyes fell on the glass on the bedside table. With a plan formed and his thoughts at rest, his stomach finally felt settled enough to try a sip. While part of him wished to remain contrary and not drink it at all in protest, the promise of relief was too potent. The concoction tasted odd, but not unpleasantly so.
Loki let his gaze wander back to his sleeping brother. Thor's actions usually spoke more eloquently for his brother's motives than his words. His hovering, the mistimed healing brew, the misplaced concern, were in equal parts both annoying and endearing. And that, perhaps, was the thing about his brother Loki hated most: Thor's unerring ability to make him feel two conflicting emotions at once.
Looking at him now, Loki could not help but recall the strength of his hands, the softness of his lips. And though he hated the way it made him feel weak, vulnerable even, Loki could not help the warmth he felt at being so cherished, even if it was only for a short time. It hurt, to feel loved. Thor lay right beside him, but it felt like they had never been further apart.
He would finish what was in the glass, but he would not linger.
* * * * *
Loki watched in amusement as Thor's sorry attempt at a fort crashed around the blonde. He crawled from beneath the debris of blankets and cushions, hair a mess, scowling. "To Hel with the fort!" he growled while continuing to crawl directly for the goblet and bottle he had left sitting on the side table
Thor stayed seated wile he reached up to grab them, and then scooted with less than princely grace over to where Loki was seated on the bed. After polishing off the remainder in the goblet, Thor leaned back on the frame, and craned his neck to look up at his brother, "That… was not a success."
"Yes, it is rather shabby in comparison to the Fort-Tent of Doom."
Thor looked back and their handy work, and said, "To be fair, we were a lot smaller then."
"And less drunk."
"It was such a shame when father made us take it down."
"He made us do it because the servants complained of rats."
Thor looked up at his brother sharply, "There were no rats."
Loki shrugged, and said "It was a convenient excuse. After all, the servants were forced to run quite an obstacle course to get in and clean the bathroom."
Thor laughed low in his throat, "We threw quite a tantrum when they took it down."
"You threw a big enough tantrum for the both of us, brother; all I had to do was sit back and watch. How many hapless objects were destroyed in retribution for the razing of the Fort-Tent of Doom?"
"Not enough," said Thor, a grin splitting his face from ear to ear.
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