It had taken Loki the better part of a week to purchase a ‘cell phone’. Getting one of these devices had in itself been a rather trying part. There were just a lot of different ones and, quite frankly, Loki had had to learn most of the words those salesmen bombarded him with.
When he had finally worked out what he wanted and needed, it had been easy enough, but getting that far had required some research.
In the end, he had bought one and taken his time to figure this pathetic piece of human technology out.
Lastly, he was able to text Dan his own number, and he was positive that it would be worth it.
A text message from the god followed by a call from the man, and they had soon set date and time for their dinner. And Dan had promised to find a babysitter for
May. Plus a substitute in case something went wrong again. Apparently, Darren really did not want to take any chances of their date having to be postponed.
The days went by in a blur, and soon their date was just thirty hours ahead. Loki was once more strolling through Central Park when his phone began to ring.
Wondering what was going on, as Dan and May were (hopefully) the only ones who had his number, he pulled it out of his pocket. It was Darren.
“Hello, Loki”, Dan’s voice was hesitant and strained.
“I’m afraid…” he trailed off when something crashed in the background. “Give me a moment.”
There were voices, probably Dan and May,
“Alright, I’m back. Sorry ‘bout that. Okay, what I wanted to ask you… can we take a rain check on our date?”
Loki frowned, “I am sure we can, after you explained what a ‘rain check’ is.”
“Ah, sorry. It means we have to delay that drink I owe you. Sadly, I got an emergency meeting that evening.”
“In that case, I am sure we can find another time that will be more convenient for you.”
“Great, thanks,” Dan sighed, then halted.
“Actually, could I ask you a favour?” he continued hesitantly.
“You can definitely ask”, Loki answered with a smirk.
“Okay. Would you mind coming over anyway and watch after May? It’s such short notice that her babysitter doesn’t have time tomorrow.”
The god considered this for a bit. The afternoon with Maisie had been highly enjoyable, but he still doubted it a good idea to have him trusted with a child’s wellbeing. On the other hand though, anticipating a dinner with Dan, he had no plans at all for the next night.
“Alright,” he finally agreed, “when do you want me to come over?”
“Let’s see… I have to be at work at seven, so around six?”
“I’ll be there.”
“Great, thank you!” Loki could all but hear the weight lifting from Darren’s heart.
“I’ll see you tomorrow then, bye.”
With that Loki hung up, realising he had no idea how to entertain a child for a whole evening. He resumed his walk.
Strolling through trees and over fields, he pondered over the possibilities.
The next evening, Loki carefully made his way through the city’s streets towards the address Darren had given him. Finally, he ended up in front of a door with a bell board. Searching through the names – Collins, Lewis, Smith, Anderson, Riggs, Freeman – wait, that was Dan. Riggs. Loki pressed the bell.
“Yes?”, came through the speaker.
“Greetings. This is Loki.”
The buzzer was pressed and the door sprang open. The god entered a gloomy stairwell and made his way up to his friends’ flat.
Two stories up later, Dan greeted him at the open door, a lovely smile on his face, brown hair a little ruffled, and a purple tie hanging loose over his crisp, white shirt.
“Hello Loki. Again, thank you so much for this. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
The other man smiled, “it is no problem at all, I assure you.”
“Still, thanks. How have you been?”
“Very well, thank you. My week has been quite uneventful, but I was able to occupy myself.
“How about you?”
As Dan opened his mouth to answer, a brown and purple flash moved past him, stopping only when it had jumped into Loki’s arms. It was, of course, May, who had heard their voices and already gotten impatient to wait.
“Luciiii”, she squealed happily into his neck.
His arm, in reflex, awkwardly wrapped around the little girl, was adjusted to hold her more comfortably once he got over his surprise.
“Well, good evening, little Lady”, he fondly greeted back.
“It has been forever!” she complained.
Dan smiled, “you’ll have time to catch up tonight. Just try to get to bed at ten latest. I may be back by then, but I can’t promise it. You two have fun.
“Oh, and there’s dinner in the fridge, if you want.”
He took his jacket from the hall-stand and put it on. Then he ruffled May’s hair fondly and gave her a kiss, “goodbye sweetheart.”
And with another ‘thanks’ and a squeeze of Loki’s shoulder, he was out of the door.
Loki gently sat the girl down and smiled, “would you give me a tour of your home, little Lady?”
“Sure”, was the giddy answer. He was grabbed by his hand and then she was off showing him around.
They ended up where the tour had started: in the living room.
“And what do you propose we do now, little Lady?”
May looked his suit up and down, then down at her own mulberry coloured sweater and even darker skirt.
“You can’t wear that for movie night.”
“It’s not comfy”, with a scowl, she vanished off through another door. There was some rummaging, then she was back, a dark green sweater in hand.
“This is daddy’s. He won’t mind, and it’s waaay better for curling up on the sofa!”
Loki shifted, unsure what to do.
“Are you sure your father will not mind?”
“Of course! And if not, you just blame me”, she shrugged, grinning broadly.
Smiling at her, he surrendered to her arguments and took Darren’s hoodie.
When he had taken off his jacket and tie, he realised that May was still in the room, watching him.
He raised an eyebrow, “you are not letting me change in private?”
All he got in response was a puzzled look.
“Why should I? I see daddy change all the time. It’s no big deal.”
Alright, he guessed mortals were not as interested in privacy as Asgardians. Or maybe it had something to do with children? Once more he realised there were things he knew absolutely nothing about.
Though he guessed May would not really mind if he did something wrong. Or did not act according to this world’s unwritten rules. She seemed quite at ease with everything.
Remembering his task, he took off his Oxford, ready to put on the sweater when May interrupted him.
“Why don’t you have scars?”
He stared at her in puzzlement. Had she seen through his glamour? Did she know who he was?
“I beg your pardon?”
“My daddy has big scars on his chest. He always had them and he said they’re part of him. Why don’t you have them?”
“Because, dear, scars come from battles we face, and as we do not face the same battles, we do not have the same scars on our skin and souls. If your father has scars on his chest, they are there for a reason. As I have not had this said reason, those scars are not on me.”
“Oh”, she was thoughtful. “Do you have other scars then?”
Loki doubted this was a conversation to have with a young human, or anyone really, but he could hardly not answer her at all. He pondered different answers for a moment then decided to tell the truth, but vaguely.
“I have already fought many battles, and therefore received many scars, little Lady. Most of them just happen not to be visible on my body.”
While he was talking, he put on the hoodie she had given him. It was a little loose, due to Darren broader shape, but the unusual fabric – a little piece of paper sewed into it said it was ‘100% cotton’, whatever that meant – was very comfortable. It was smoother than his usual suit’s fabric, and less stiff than Asgardian leather. It was also quite warm and soft. He could get used to this. At least for the time being.
“See,” May piped up, “I knew it would fit you.”
“And it is definitely more ‘comfy’ than my suit. I have to thank you once more for sharing your wisdom with me, little Lady.” He gave a slight bow.
“Let’s get ready for movie night! You get daddy’s food from the fridge and heat it up, I select a DVD.”
Loki nodded his agreement and made his way back to the kitchen.
Finding the fridge was easy enough, and Dan had put a plastic container into it which held cold potato stew.
He took it and looked around. There was this thing called ‘stove’, but after some examination he decided it would not do any good to use it without having any idea of how it worked. It would be very bad form to set something on fire in somebody else’s home.
Loki looked towards the door and listened for a moment. He could hear May rummaging in the living room. Good. Deciding it was worth the risk, he used a quick spell to heat up the soup and divide it to two bowls. After finding two spoons in a drawer, which held plenty of cutlery, some of which Loki had never seen before, he made his way back to May.
She was sitting in front of a big, black screen, some rectangular boxes strewn around her, which he guessed were these ‘DVDs’.
Once he had put both their bowls on the coffee table, he crouched down next to her.
“What have you found fitting for us to watch, little lady?”
She held two boxes up. One said ‘Lilo and Stitch’ and showed the painting of a dark girl and a weird blue animal. The other one said ‘Mulan’, also showing a picture, this one of a Venir-looking woman and a very tiny, red dragon.
“I want to watch Mulan first, then Lilo and Stitch,” May announced.
“Then we shall do so.
“Though I will once again require your wisdom as I do not know how to work this Mid… this rather old piece of technology.”
She stared at him, shock and amusement written all over her face.
“You don’t know how to use a DVD player? You’re so weird!”, and the girl began to giggle.
Loki just looked at her in mock annoyance. “I’ll show you weird,” he growled and tickled her sides. Which, of course, only turned her giggles into laughter.
For a while, he enjoyed letting her squirm in his grasp, but once she was laughing and crying and holding her stomach, he decided to let her go. They had some stew to eat and films to watch after all.
Once she had caught her breath, she began to explain the machine to him.
“So, when you press this button, that thing here slides out and you put the DVD on it. Then you press it again to tell the player that it can take that back in. And then – of course you have to switch the TV on first – it starts and you can see the menu. Now all you have to do is press play.”
Once she had done just that, the film started.
A long wall appeared on screen with a soldier’s patrol interrupted by a hawk and then an attack. The soldier, brave as he was, enlightened the beacon and therefore sent a warning through the whole of this country called China.
They settled on the sofa and watched in silence while eating their dinner.
It was surprisingly nice, Loki found. He had not had these ‘potatoes’ before, but they had had something similar on Asgard. The taste was wonderful, with salt and herbs in it, which names were probably not the same as the ones he had learned.
He ate slowly, savouring the taste. Loki had to remember to ask Dan for the name of this brew. It reminded him of home.
Except that it had never really been his home, had it? The people of Asgard had never really accepted him, neither had anyone else. Ever. Except for his mother. But now that she was gone…
He shook his head and concentrated back on the tv.
The woman, Mulan, was just putting on her father’s armour, taking her horse, and hurrying out to keep her father from going into certain death.
Once they had finished eating, Loki took both bowls and brought them back to the kitchen. Knowing that the girl was captivated with the movie, he quickly performed a little spell that cleaned their cutlery and put it back where it belonged.
As soon as he sat back down on the couch, however, May snuggled up to him. Not that he minded, on the contrary. Ever since she had done it the first time, he had craved this kind of body contact – not that he would admit it though – but he was very happy to let her have her way. He relaxed and put his arm around her, tugging her closer.
Then he was captivated by a tale of a woman’s courage to go and fight for her country, even though discovery would mean her death. He followed her into her first fight against the Huns, rolled his eyes at Mushu, held his breath when her secret was discovered. His heart gave a leap when she realised the Huns were on their way to the Emperor. And he cheered alongside May when Mulan defeated him, was acknowledged, and finally had someone who would court her. And God and child agreed that the granny was definitely the best.
Once the credits were rolling, May sat up and looked at him expectantly.
He raised a questioning eyebrow at her.
“I taught you to use the player, now it’s your turn to show me that you learned.”
Grinning, he retorted, “did you learn that sentence from your teacher?”
“Yeah, my English teacher. He always says it.”
“Well, I guess he is not wrong, and neither are you, little Lady.”
He got up and put to work the things she had shown him earlier. Different from her, he was not at all surprised when he got it right on the first try. After all, he was known to be intelligent.
They settled down as they had before, only with May’s head soon resting in his lap. Which had him develop the weird urge to stroke through her hair.
After a moment of consideration, he gave in.
Her hair was soft, and if it was any indication, she sighed and purred a little.
On screen, the poor, mischievous Stitch had just been taken in as a dog. Loki was both furious and sad. Cold they not see that the creature just needed to be accepted and have a place somewhere? That all he needed to be better was time and patience and being seen as a person?
“What must it be like to have nothing?”, the one who had made Stitch asked.
Silently and sadly, Loki mumbled, “I can answer that one.”
Another sigh from his lap.
“May?”, he asked quietly.
The only answer was a sleepy ‘mmmh’, on which he decided to let her sleep. As if he minded.
When Dan came home he was momentarily worried, because he could not hear any voices. But then he noticed the flickering lights of the television.
Good, he thought, at least the apartment is not on fire or anything.
However, a quiet noise came to his ears. Was that a sniff? Surely Loki had not left May alone at some point? He could not have hurt her, could he?
Darren quickly made his way to the living room. The picture there both lightened his heart and made it drop.
His daughter was peacefully asleep, even though her favourite movie was running. Lilo and Stitch. Dan had probably memorised it for all the times she had made him watch it. She was on the sofa, her head in Loki’s lap, a blanket draped over her. And Loki? Well, his babysitter? Friend? Date? Whatever. Loki was sitting on the couch, one hand stroking Maisie’s hair, the other clawed into a pillow he clutched to his chest.
It was the man from which the sound had come. Tears were streaming down his face and tissues were piled next to him. He was crying.
Dan barely heard the next part of the movie, but realised which it was, when Loki stifled another sob.
“This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.”
And he realised with a pang why this children’s movie made him cry.
Dan had not told Loki, but they had recognised him when they had met in the park. So, with the plot about an unwanted alien stranded on Earth, trying to get by and be accepted but instead causing havoc and destruction, Lilo and Stitch had probably been destined to have an impact on him. And as far as he knew, with their talking about family, when his own brother had fought against him, it was no wonder at all, that Loki was now crying.
Silently, Dan went to the kitchen and got two glasses of red wine for himself and the god. In an afterthought, he also grabbed another package of tissues.
“I’m back”, he whispered into the living room, not wanting to wake May just yet.
Loki jumped and hastily rubbed his cheeks.
“Don’t worry,” Dan reassured him, placing a glass of red wine in front of the other man on the table. “I won’t judge. Or laugh. Or tell anyone.” He shrugged, “it’s a Disney movie. Happens to the best of us.”
Grateful, but confused, Loki finally looked up. There was such immense sadness in his eyes that Dan had to restrain himself from rushing to him and pulling him into his arms. Probably not an openly welcome gesture yet.
“Disney?”, Loki asked, his voice a broken, quiet whisper; nothing like the proud, lovely deep voice he usually used.
Dan smiled, “it’s a company that makes movies. Founded by Walt Disney, they are best known for their family cartoons. Most are a kind of fairy tale, like Snow white or Sleeping Beauty or the Beauty and the Beast…” he trailed off when he saw the blank look Loki gave him. “Anyways, they are often very heart-warming, but also sad. Just wait until May insists on the Lion King.”
Both men smiled fondly at the sleeping child.
“This film,” Loki began hesitantly. “I am afraid it caught me unprepared. It was not my intention to…” He trailed off, but Dan knew what he would have said. To appear weak. To let his guard down. To show vulnerability.
The man smiled and squeezed the god’s shoulder.
“Don’t worry about it.”
He took the glasses, handing one to Loki.
“Cheers! And thank you again for taking care of my girl.”
“It was really no problem at all. She is very lovely.”
Dan smiled, “she is, isn’t she?” and knelt down before the sofa.
“We should bring her to bed, she can hardly sleep here.”
Carefully putting his arms beneath the sleeping girl, he took hold of her shoulders and snaked his other arm under her knees. When he was sure he had her secure, he lifted her up slowly, ever so slowly as not to wake her.
With a look he made sure Loki was following him into the girl’s bedroom where he put his daughter down with equal care.
The god, feeling out of place once more, stood in the doorway while Dan removed May’s socks and covered her with her blanket. Once he had given her a kiss and whispered ‘sleep well, my dear’ he turned back to Loki, who tried to keep the hurt hidden, the longing that someone could have done these things for him when he had been a child.
Following Dan’s gestures to be silent and get back into the living room, they closed the doors between them and May and settled back down on the couch. Taking up their glasses again, they clinked them together, and sipped their wine.
After a while of companionable silence, Dan started a conversation.
“You know, I really am glad you came over. It’s the second time you saved me and I can’t thank you enough. And I’m sorry for the rain check.”
“How often do I have to reassure you that it is quite alright? We can always make out another time for our drinks. There is no objection from me when you put your daughter over me.”
“Well, it doesn’t mean I don’t value you. Because I do, honestly. You know that, right?”
Loki stared at him, his eyes incredulous.
“How? You barely know me.”
This time, Dan did not worry if his affections would be welcome, he just put his arm around Loki’s shoulders and tugged him close against his side.
The god was tense, but Dan had not really expected anything else. Actually, he was already surprised Loki had not pushed him away immediately. Maybe he needed affection more than he himself realised. Which was probably why he never really minded when Maisie fell asleep on him or jumped on him with one of her energetic hugs. God or not, the man craved human contact.
A few silent minutes later, Loki relaxed slightly. Then he shifted in his seat.
Taking the clue, Dan removed his arm.
“You know, I still hope I’ll get to know you at some point. But so far, I’m quite fine with just trusting you and May’s people skills. Everything else will hopefully come in time.”
“You have my gratitude.”
“Thank you.” They smiled at each other for a moment.
Loki slouched down into the couch, his hand lazily dropped onto the armrest, fingers gracefully holding his glass of wine. He had finally gotten his composure back. Hel, that film certainly had taken its toll on him. All the talking about being lost and family.
“Just one question”, Darren suddenly asked with a smirk.
Returning his attention to the man, Loki raised his eyebrows.
“Was it your idea to kidnap my sweater or May’s?”
“Well,” he began, tugging at it a little. “Maisie did not agree with my outfit for what she called ‘movie night’ and insisted I should change. I have to admit though, that she was definitely correct. This is more comfortable than my suit jacket.”
Dan laughed, “keep it, if you want. It’s definitely your color.”
“I could not possibly…”
“No, I mean it. You keep it. Consider it as payment for babysitting, if you want.”
“In that case”, Loki took Dan’s hand and placed a gentle kiss on its top, enjoying the way the other man’s eyes widened in surprise. “I believe I must express my gratitude once more.”
He highly enjoyed Dan’s dry swallowing before he took a shaky gulp of his wine. Loki took one as well, not once taking his eyes off the other’s. it may have been a while, but the God of Mischief did know how to flirt.
And for whatever it was worth, Dan’s lightly flushed cheeks told him his efforts were working.
They kept drinking wine and talked. It was nice, even though Loki was constantly on guard to not let anything slip that could make Dan suspicious.
At some point, Loki’s arm ended up around Dan’s shoulder, who, in turn, rested his head on Loki’s. Both of them were enjoying their tender companionship and so they only noticed that the time had passed midnight when the bottle of wine was empty.
They stared at each other, grinning slightly embarrassed.
“As lovely as this evening has been, I believe it is time for me to go now, as you will probably have to go to work tomorrow. and May needs to be at school if I am not wrong,” Loki said silently.
Dan nodded and got up, collecting Loki’s glass and the empty bottle, and swiftly dropping them off in the kitchen. When he came back to the living room, Loki had already folded the blanket and fluffed up the pillows. After all, he had been raised a gentleman. Frigga had insisted he knew how to show respect for a host, no matter the circumstances or the fact that he was a prince. He was just putting the DVDs back into the shelf when Dan’s hand came to rest on his shoulder.
“You can leave them. I’ll put them back tomorrow.”
He held out a bag to Loki, “I found your clothes and put them in here. As I said, keep the sweater, it looks way better on you and I bet May knew that when she picked it.”
They both grinned, Loki nodding.
“I guess she did. She is quite a hazard, that one, is she not?”, he smiled fondly.
“Oh, you have no idea!”, Dan laughed. “But she’s my hazard.”
“That she is indeed.” Loki accepted the bag and they made their way to the door.
Once they reached it, however, Loki hesitated. He did not want to go, not really. While he was emotionally exhausted from the film and just being around two people who actually cared for such a long time, he did not fancy the loneliness and darkness which he knew his mind and heart would naturally slip into once more as soon as he was on his own.
But he also knew he could not, should not stay any longer. Mingling with mortals did, at some point, try his patience, and if there was one thing he had to prevent, it was to accidentally unleash his anger and frustration on Dan and May. They neither deserved it, nor did he want to lose these two people who trusted him. Who did not meet him with indifference or resentment.
“Are you alright?”, Dan quietly interrupted his thoughts.
With a reassuring, slightly embarrassed smile, Loki answered, “quite so, never worry.
“I bid you a good night and thank you for your hospitality.”
The human smiled back, “thank you for helping out. Sleep well, Loki.”
He held out his hand, but before Loki could shake it, Dan pulled him into a hug. The god relaxed into it and, when they parted, took the opportunity to kiss the man’s cheek.
Then he stepped down the stairs. Looking back, he saw Dan, watching him from the door, a bright smile on his face, his hand resting over the place Loki had kissed him. His other hand waved a last goodbye before he vanished into his flat.
A smile on his face, Loki went outside, hoping to avoid another night of mindless wandering or nightmares by the memories of this evening.
While he was still wondering how he would accomplish such a task, when his phone vibrated.
Looking at the message, he smiled. This would do nicely.
Dan had sent him a picture of himself, smiling, and May sleeping peacefully in her bed next to where he was kneeling. The man had captioned it with a ‘I hope you are as glad as we are to have found you. Thank you for tonight xo xo’.
While the god had no idea what an ‘xo’ was supposed to mean, the picture in itself made him happy anyway. Not to mention the message. Never had anyone told him they were grateful for him to be in their life before.
He decided to send a quick text back before he teleported to his own bedroom.
‘It is my honour to know two people as kind as you. Thank you for having trust in me. Good night.’