Unknown Number: Hello, I’m Sleepy’s father. He would love to see Thurd this weekend.
Hi! Meet @playground by school @11 on Sunday? Older 1s at soccer until then. Can get pizza after?
That would be fine.
Sleep is a g8 kid! Thurd <3 him a lot.
He likes her very much. He's requested to meet her snake.
NP! We can eat at our house.
Very well. 11am on Sunday it is then.
It turned out that ‘soccer’ was the same pewee league that Jojo and Hel were in. Loki had thought he’d have the entire game to prepare himself for the impending collision, but as soon as he got out of the taxi, he spotted him.
It had been so long, but he looked so much the same. Loki’s breath caught in his throat.
“Dad?” Hel frowned up at him. “Are going to hurl on the field again? Because you didn't even eat the bad hot dogs.”
“I’m fine,” he turned his attention back to unloading the taxi’s trunk, dispersing equipment, snacks, and the iPad accordingly to each child. Fenrir took Sleepy’s hand and they headed into the stands to stake out a spot while Loki kneeled down to secure shin protectors and cleats. Jojo wrapped a hand around his bicep when he started to rise.
“What is it?” Loki asked quietly.
He pointed to the sweep of blond hair and broad shoulders that Loki had spotted. “The picture.”
Loki met Jojo’s eyes. They stared at each other, communing. It wasn’t unusual for Jojo to creep into his bed after a nightmare. That he’d found the picture wasn’t surprising really. It wasn’t particularly well hidden in his pillowcase.
“Yes, that’s him,” he agreed. “He’s also Thurd’s father, so you’ll get to meet him in a bit.”
“What picture?” Hel demanded, having crept in close.
“Hel, what have I told you about eavesdropping?” he growled.
“Be better at it,” she intoned. “But who is he?”
“He’s someone that I used to know,” he said neutrally. “Now, today’s challenge is that neither of you get red carded. If you manage that you can have ice cream with dinner tonight.”
“But Dad!” Hel’s eyes went wide. “What if someone else starts it?”
“Then you end it,” he agreed. “But let’s not create problems this time, shall we?”
She considered that, “Can I get a macaroon instead of ice cream?”
“I will buy you one. I’m not making them for you again until your birthday.”
“Fine,” she held out her hand, “shake on it.”
He shook on it and they ran onto the field with only a last querying look from Jojo. Loki slipped through the throng of parents, careful to stay out of Thor’s line of sight. He settled next to Fenrir, who was playing a driving game while Sleepy sat on his lap and watched.
They’d gone out running that morning, the five of them. Sleepy had only recently graduated from being pushed in a stroller to trying to keep up on his tricycle and his fatigue was showing. Loki relished their runs, his wild lovely children matching his pace as best they could. Fenrir would be faster than him soon as he grew into his gangly legs. Hel and Jojo still needed to stop here and there to rest, pick a flower or inspect a beetle.
His life was not as he had thought it would be at there age. His eyes drifted unwillingly back to Thor. As children, he had followed his brother doggedly. He had been determined to lead their family business together, taking it to new heights with Thor as the public face and Loki as the brains behind it.
But that was a long time ago. He’d kept quiet tabs on him, of course, but over the years Loki had let Thor go in stages until he was only a picture under his pillow and the memory of an illicit kiss on the cheek. Years and bleeding wounds separated them now, even on the precipice of reunion.
“Daddy, I have to pee.”
Loki laughed at himself and turned to take Sleepy off Fenny’s lap, “Let’s go then.”
Hel and Jojo behaved themselves admirably for the duration of the game. Neither of them were that good at the game, but their matching glowers made them useful for intimidation if nothing else. Jojo even managed to pass the ball to the kid that scored the winning goal.
“Macaroons for everyone,” Loki waded into the melee to put Jojo up on his shoulders.
“Guess what!” Hel looked enthusiastic, something that was always cause for concern. “Thurd’s brothers are on our team! One of them let me do his hair in pigtails. He says it was Magni, but they switch places sometimes. They’re twins! But if you pinch one of them, the other one doesn't feel it.”
“Hel if you’re trying to make friends, please save the experimentation for after they've already decided to like you,” he said with exasperation until the reality sunk in. Ah, so there were three children after all. He hadn't been sure if they were all Thor’s from what he’d found online. He kept his profile annoyingly private.
“Thurd!” Sleepy squealed with joy, pelting across the field to hug a petite blond girl. “You came! Look, my brother and sister are on the same team as your brothers! They’re over there with my dad.”
Thurd looked up. She had all of Thor’s strength in her jaw, but her face was Sif’s. He would have recognized it anywhere. He gave her an anemic wave.
Hel had rounded up the twins, circling them with avaricious interest while Jojo kicked a ball idly up the field. Fenrir appeared at Loki’s elbow,
“Uh, Dad, why does Thurd’s father look like he’s gonna murder you?”
And there he was. Thor was coming down the field with a purpose, thunder in his eyes.
“I may or may not deserve it,” he allowed. “Go make sure your sister doesn’t try to dissect his kids, okay?”
Fenrir peeled away obidiently as Thor reached them at last. They stood a mere two feet apart. Loki braced himself. Not enough. The hug knocked him to ground.
“This is designer!” he protested, even as he tried his best to hug the stupid lump back. Fuck, he even smelled the same.
“Why didn’t you tell me it was you!” Thor sat up, dragging Loki with him.
“I wasn’t sure...of anything,” he admitted. “It’s been a very long time and we didn’t part on good terms.”
“No,” he sighed, then brightened, “but look at you now. An entire brood. How many are there?”
“Four,” he righted his shirt. “Fenrir, Jormungand, Hel, and Sleipnir. And you’re at three?”
“Indeed, Magni, Modi, and of course Thrud,” he smiled indulgently. “They’re my jewels.”
“Gross,” Loki pulled a face. “Mine are monsters. Horrid smelly monsters.”
Jojo, who had been getting close to their little reunion, stuck his tongue out at his father, then gave him a wink before rejoining his siblings.
“That makes nine for lunch then,”Thor stood. “How many pizzas should we get?”
“Fenny can do one on his own. The other three will split one,” he smiled faintly. “But I bet yours eat more then mine.”
“Like of plague of locusts,” he boasted. “Come, we’ll get one for each and that’ll leave leftovers for tomorrow.”
“I’ll have to wait for our cab.”
“Nonsense! I’ll drive. There should be enough room in the van.”
It was a bit of a squeeze, but the kids did all manage to get in with a seatbelt for everyone. Thurd and Sleepy’s high voices lapped over each other over as Hel peppered the twins with questions. Fenny and Jojo held themselves away, watching and waiting.
“How did you come to be here?” Thor asked as Loki buckled his seatbelt.
“I walked,” he said dryly. When Thor shot him a look he laughed. “Well, I did. I walked and hitchhiked for awhile. I found a job in this town, in a bookstore while I figured out what to do next. I met Angie, went back to school. I got a job in P.R. for the papermill. I’m the department head now, work from home a lot. We had the boys, split up, got back together and there was Hel. Angie was murdered about six months after that.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“So was I,” Loki sighed. “She was a tough woman. She made a lot of enemies. She killed the guy who killed her while she was dying, so there’s that. Fenny remembers her best, but the other two don’t really.”
Loki looked out the window. “I wanted him. I knew I wanted one more. So I found someone. We made a deal. And I have him.”
“Why four?” Thor frowned.
“Because that’s how many it took to fill this.” he tapped his chest.
“It’s hardly your fault. I know that now,” he scrubbed a hand over his face. “But it all left a mark. Honestly, I’d have more, but there’s no space in the house and I can’t really afford to feed another mouth. I miss having a baby though.”
“I don’t,” Thor shook his head. “Babies are so much work. I like this age.”
“Wait until they’re teenagers.”
“I can hear you,” Fenny grumbled and Loki flashed him a toothly smile.
“And I you, Fen.”
Thor's house was surprisingly simple. He'd been bracing himself for a bloated McMansion or something in equally poor taste. Instead, it was a bland split ranch with blue aluminum siding set back a bit from the road. The kids tumbled out in a messy, noisy lump. Jojo gravitated toward Loki's side while Fenny organized the rest into a three on three game of basketball.
"You want the iPad?" Loki glanced down at Jojo, who nodded. Thor sat down on the stoop and Loki sat beside him, the chill of the step leaking through his pants. Jojo pulled up his chess app. "So. What are you doing here?"
"Well, you must've heard that father died," Thor glanced at him and Loki gave a rough nod. "An heir came forward."
"Hela?" he guessed.
"How did you know?"
"Mother mentioned her once. A long time ago," Loki glanced to his own Hel, where she dipped under Magni's arm to pass the ball to Fenny.
"Anyway, she took over. Bankrupted the company while I was away. I took over what was left with the remaining shareholders, but it was agreed that we needed to relocate. It will be smaller now. The market has changed substantially."
"And Sif?" He asked lightly.
"She sees the children when she's on leave," Thor shrugged. "She hated giving up her career to be home and I hardly blame her. She video calls sometimes when she can. Moving didn't change that."
"But the others..."
Thor scrubbed a hand over his face. "It seems that everyone leaves in the end. Even if they go unwillingly."
"I know," Loki watched the children stumble and crash into each other, a giggling pile of youth. "But we don't have to let that make us bitter."
"You have grown."
"Therapy," he said blandly. "Lots and lots of therapy."