The children of Thor were numerous, the pleasant results of loving six separate embodiments of the same wily, winsome trickster god over the course of many years.
The youngest Loki had borne eight children for Thor, twice as many as any one of his older selves. It made sense; he was the only one who hadn’t been subjected to Thanos’s brutal egg-harvesting and sexual torture, and his untouched womb remained fresh and fertile. He and Thor used special protection now that Loki had deemed eight a good number at which to stop, and Thor was perfectly content with his decision.
Ragnarok Loki came next with his four children, delivered over the course of twenty years. Dark Loki and Infinity Loki each had three children—a pair of twins and two single babies—and Royal Loki bore two.
Avenger Loki never conceived.
There were twenty children between them, all beautiful and unique, a diverse blend of Aesir and Jötunn genetics. To the childless Loki, the dream of having a baby of his own was, it seemed, lost to him forever. But his brothers’ children were as much his as they were theirs, and he raised them with the same unconditional love as if he had borne them himself—perhaps even spoiling them a little more, for he treasured them with a particular melancholy that his five other selves did not possess.
His children called him Mori-Loki, one of their six ways for addressing their mothers, and many were the times that Loki had kissed their scratches and scrapes, delighted them with his illusions, and tucked them into their beds at night—as gladly and dutifully as any biological parent. They had dribbled on his shoulder as babies and clung to his legs as toddlers. They came to him with their struggles when they were adolescents, and they hugged him with appreciation when they were adults. The children of Thor Odinson flourished and grew into healthy, happy members of the kingdom, and Avenger Loki took great pride in knowing he had helped form them. Not in his womb, but in every other way. He was a mother. Their mother.
The envy he harbored toward his childbearing brothers faded in the long centuries of harmony in New Asgard. Their children aged, and they aged with them. Thor’s hair began to turn white, though he was still as vigorous and powerful as he had been in his youth. Indeed, with his full beard and crinkling blue eyes, he looked more kingly and kind than any monarch who had ever sat on the throne of Asgard. The Lokis aged gracefully, silver streaks appearing in their black hair and fine lines complementing their identically-handsome faces, making them look wise and mature—elegant creatures, regal, refined.
And still quite energetic in the bedroom. Thor welcomed their attention with the same enthusiasm as when he had first lain with them. Their union was a happy and fulfilling one.
But one morning, Avenger Loki awoke feeling terrible—more terrible than he usually did. He’d been experiencing mild nausea and persistent fatigue for nearly three months now, and at first he had assumed it was simply the time of year. Summers in this realm were notoriously long and wearisome, but now his queasiness was beginning to worsen and he was aware of an abnormal feeling in his lower abdomen.
Perhaps it was something serious. Aesir and Jötnar were hale, robust people, but they were not immune to terminal illnesses. Loki began to suspect the worst. The Midgardians called it cancer, and he assumed that was what he had. A malignant growth, the result of Thanos cutting into his uterus those many years ago and exposing his reproductive cells to all manner of hazardous elements, planting hideous embryos into his belly, stealing his precious eggs. Perhaps his body had never fully recovered from its trauma and that was why he couldn’t conceive. His womb was a mangled, mutilated mess, his eggs rotten and his ovaries ravaged, destroyed by the sperm of those salacious monsters.
And now, centuries later, his body was deciding to kill itself.
He didn’t tell Thor or any of his brothers. He didn’t want to go to the healers. He didn’t want to hear his case confirmed and have to share the devastating news with his family. He didn’t want to suffer the long and arduous recovery that would drain the energy from Thor’s healing hands. Let him use those powers on someone else. He was a lost cause, a burden, an outlier. He always had been.
When Loki’s belly began to swell, he knew it could only mean one thing: a cancerous growth had taken root in his useless womb and was now slowly eating him from the inside out. He hid the lump under loose clothing and the cover of darkness, and shied away from Thor’s loving, sensual advances. “I’m not feeling well” and “I’m too tired, Thor” became his mantra.
But then something strange began to happen. The flesh of his breasts thickened and became tender, swollen. His nipples hardened. His body began to soften. He gained weight. Thor began to look at him with a strange light in his eyes, as if he himself didn’t know why he was suddenly mesmerized by Loki’s appearance. The other Lokis voiced their lighthearted jealousy of his healthy complexion and warm, radiant aura.
These were not the symptoms of a dying person.
Loki finally took himself to a healer, who listened to his list of afflictions and glanced at him briefly before saying, “I think you might be pregnant, your highness.”
Loki was speechless. He would have laughed if he weren’t so sick with dread. “Impossible. I can’t be. I’m too old. My body, it’s… Check me. Thoroughly.”
The healer did. And her smile confirmed the last thing that Loki ever expected to hear: “You are nearly eighteen weeks pregnant. There’s a strong, steady heartbeat and your placenta looks healthy. The fetus is showing normal signs of development. Everything appears to be fine.”
Loki was too shocked to react. As soon as he had dressed himself and left the infirmary, he covered his face with his hands and burst into laughter. After a few moments, the laughter turned to sobs.
Strong. Healthy. Normal. Fine. His baby. The one he was carrying now, in his own belly.
That evening he came to Thor in his workshop and casually asked if he knew where he could find a large piece of ash wood.
Thor, who had taken up carpentry as a hobby in his silver years, was wholly focused on his planer, his bushy gray eyebrows knitted together in concentration. “I have a large piece I’ve been saving for a special project,” he said absently. “Why, do you have an idea for it?”
“Yes. A very special idea.”
Thor chuckled at Loki’s trademark, deliberate vagueness. “Alright, then. What would you have me make?”
“A cradle?” Thor kept his eyes on the piece of wood he was shaping. “Who’s having a baby?”
Thor’s hands went still. He raised his head.
Loki smiled at him and threaded his fingers together over his belly.
Thor’s jaw dropped and he rose from his workbench, his tools clattering to the floor and stirring up coils of wood shavings and sawdust.
“A buh. A baby?” he stammered, his eyes wide with disbelief. “You mean you’re…?”
“Yes.” Loki walked over and took Thor by the wrist, placing his hand upon his belly. “Here. You can feel for yourself.”
Thor was trembling as he brought his other hand up to cradle Loki’s stomach, caressing the firm, subtle mound beneath his green tunic.
“A baby,” he repeated. When he raised his head, he was smiling. Tears rolled down his cheeks and into his silver beard. “H-how is this possible?”
“I don’t know,” said Loki. “But it’s happened. At long last, it’s finally…” He put his hand over his mouth and wept.
Thor folded his arms around Loki and stroked his salt-and-pepper hair. “A baby,” he said with an astonished laugh. “The child of our old age. Oh, Loki, I am so happy for you. For us. I am so…”
He pulled away and took Loki’s face in his callused, tool-toughened hands and kissed his lips, his cheeks, the lines that were gradually deepening around his mouth. Then he kissed his brow, where creases from decades of internal despair had been permanently etched.
Thor rested his forehead against Loki’s and mirrored his overjoyed smile.
“Mori-Loki, beloved mother,” he murmured reverently. “Twenty children we have raised together. And now we shall raise another.”