Actions

Work Header

Alpha Romeo Tango: Love in a time of hardship

Chapter Text

YEAR ONE

           There was a room at Hope General unlike most others in the hospital.  Thor had never seen inside it before, but he was fairly new. The door was marked simply: JOKULSSEN.  He eventually learned the room belonged to the owners of the hospital for whenever they needed it. And as long as he’d been there, they’d never needed it, until now.  Thor peeked in to watch the cleaning crew working on what appeared to be an entire apartment of rooms. There was the standard room for care, hospital bed and equipment, and a bathroom, same as any of their other rooms.  Beyond that, there were two small rooms with more traditional beds in them, something that looked like a study, which was, at this very moment, being filled with books, a room that could be used for exercise or physical therapy, and one last room that stood empty.  Before he got too curious, though, he moved on. It was his job to care for patients and take care of administrative tasks, not to gawk at a private room the size of ten standard rooms.

           Thor had never met the owners, but he heard good things about them from the other nurses he worked with.  Laufey Jokulssen was very business savvy, they said, and worked incredibly hard to keep the hospital out of litigation.  Others mentioned how intimidating he was, and not to get on his bad side. Only a few mentioned his caring nature, when you got to know him outside the hospital troubles and the walls of professionalism.  The last, everyone seemed to know. The man was fiercely devoted to his family.

           Some of the nurses—who had been there longer than Thor had even been a nurse—would tell him stories about Laufey’s “sweet, adorable” son.  He was 28, now, but had been a fixture in the hospital for a while when he was little. Thor guessed this was likely what originally prompted the suite of rooms that laid behind the door.  “He’s just the most handsome man, now,” they'd sigh. “He’s an artist, you know,” another told him. Ever since he’d told his co-workers he was single and bi—over too many ill-advised drinks and even more ill-advised questioning—it seemed they all wanted a hand in fixing him up.  Older, younger, men, women, big burly types, like himself, and waif like types he felt more likely to break. Some had even been so forward to ask if he was a top or a bottom. For the record, he enjoyed both, but it wasn’t something he wanted to share with his colleagues. At this point, he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a pool going on for who would be the first to find him a date.

           Thor ignored them well enough.  It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate it, but life was complicated right now.  He wasn’t up for dating. He’d recently been released from the Marine Corps. He had moved off the base in Quantico, VA that had been his home for the last five years, and straight into a brand new city.  It was a completely different culture here, too. There were a lot of differences between the Southeast and the Midwest of the United States, and he had chosen one of the biggest cities in the region to live in.  Right now, Chicago’s chilly April weather wasn’t doing him any favors. It was snowy, it was rainy, it was windy, it was slushy. Things had been miserable since March and he couldn’t wait for some actual spring weather.

           “Thor!” Dr. Bruce Banner greeted him, putting some patient files on the main desk.

           “How’s it hanging, Dr. Banner?” he smiled.  The older man sighed.

           “Just got done with a hard consult.  Young man. They break my heart, Thor.”  He gave Thor a sad smile, in return, before shuffling off.  Thor put the stack of files he’d left in the ‘billing’ pile, noticing one for Laufeyson at the top.

***

           “What’s going on with the Jokulssen suite?” Thor asked his boss, when he had a free moment.

           “It’s the saddest thing,” she frowned.  “It seems Laufey’s son had a kind of relapse, or escalation, to the issues he had as a child, and he’s back to stay for a while.  Aplastic anemia,” she told him. “Probably needs a bone marrow transplant this time.”

           Thor was surprised.  Aplastic anemia was rare, and it was sad to hear the younger man’s previous illness continued to cause him issues.  He imagined the younger man probably didn’t relish the idea of returning to the hospital, especially now, as an adult, and even more so as an artist.  Most of the artists Thor knew enjoyed their space and hospitals really kept you cooped up. Successful bone marrow transplants could be hard to come by and treatment to even be ready for it could take almost a full year.  It was a tough road ahead for all involved, it seemed.

           “Just a heads up, Thor, I may not pull you in on this one.  We want to try and be consistent with Loki, so I’ll be assigning the nurses who were here for him the last time around.”

           Thor nodded.  “I understand.”

           “We all love you, and I think you’d do an excellent job, just so you know.”  Thor chuckled. He didn’t need the ego boost, but it was nice to know his boss thought he was doing well.

           “Thank you, but it makes sense to me.  The patient is what’s most important.” He beamed and patted her on the shoulders.

           “Oh…you’re just our little ray of sunshine,” she sighed, dreamily.  “I don’t know what made you choose Hope, but we’re so lucky to have you.”  Thor blushed, not knowing what to say to that compliment.

           “Well, I better get back to work,” he grinned.

           “Yes,” she agreed.  “Shoo! Shoo!” She shook her head as Thor grabbed his next chart and rushed off.

***

           As he was about at the end of his shift, Thor ducked into the nurses’ station.  “Ladies,” he crooned. “Last chance for some help,” he offered. The four that were there all smiled back at him.

           “You better watch it,” Natasha warned, having just come on her shift.  “Eventually we won’t turn you down,” she winked. Thor chuckled, about to make his way to the locker room when another nurse, Peggy, ducked her head out of one of the patient rooms.

           “Thor-bear!” she sang, with a slightly panicked look to her eyes.  “Can you lend me a hand?” She mimed a strong arm pose and Thor got the picture.  He glided over to her.

           “Anything for you,” he smiled.  She gave him a grateful look.

           “This one’s afraid of needles, it seems,” she informed him quietly.

           “Name?” he whispered back.

           “Steve.”  Thor was surprised when he stepped into the room.  On the exam table sat a muscular blond man. He had a large bandage around his leg, but otherwise appeared like he could sell apple pie to even the most granola-eating, gluten-hating, anti-sugar person out there.

           “Hey, Steve,” he grinned, looking over at his workout buddy.  Steve groaned.

           “Thor, man, you do not need to see this,” the blond fidgeted.  Peggy glanced over at Thor in a ‘do you know him?’ kind of way.

           “Well, you got Peggy to flag down the big guns,” he joked, good-naturedly.  “Steve and I work out at the same gym,” he told her. She smirked at them and nodded.

           “Well, it seems Mr. Rogers here needs a precautionary tetanus shot.  Cut himself on a rather large and rusty piece of metal.” Peggy went to prepare the needle again and Steve looked away quickly.

           “What did you do?”  Thor was shocked. For all his fun, Steve was a pretty cautious guy.  They’d bonded over body-building videos and talks of what it was like to be a veteran.  Steve wasn’t a marine, but he didn’t hold it over the former Army Captain...often.

           “Helping a buddy move out,” he explained while Peggy swabbed his arm again.  Steve was starting to sweat, trying not to look at what was going on. “Old grill, crappy steps, lost my footing,” he shrugged.  “This was my first stop.” Steve laughed and Thor joined in with him.

           “Of course it was.”  He placed a warm hand on Steve’s shoulder as Peggy came back over with the needle.  Steve flinched the moment she got close and Thor could see the problem Peggy was having.  “Hey,” he brought Steve’s focus back on himself. “What about our gym session later?” he grinned.  Steve focused on Thor’s face as Thor took his free hand in support.

           “Well, you were my next stop…or call, I should say,” he panted, starting to panic again.  Thor held a hand up to Peggy.

           “Let’s just…”  Thor put both his hands on Steve’s arm to hold it securely for Peggy.  “There.” He grinned again, knowing he could hold Steve’s arm still without a problem.

           “Show-off,” the blond grumbled as Peggy laughed.

           “This one?” Peggy smiled, easing the needle in.  Thor could feel Steve’s muscles straining under his hands, but he could tell Steve was trying really hard to keep himself in check.  His friend bit down on his lip, keeping his eyes closed as Peggy finished and drew the needle back out. “There, all done.” When he’d opened his eyes again, she flashed Steve a grin and went to dispose of the supplies.  Thor let go of Steve’s arm and the blond breathed in deeply.

           “Sorry,” he whispered as Thor put a small piece of cotton and a bandage over the injection site.  Steve looked guilty and Thor’s heart melted a little for his friend.

           “Trust me, there are so many worse things I do during my day.”  Thor winked, seeming to set Steve at ease. When Peggy came back, she had discharge papers and an ‘I did it’ children’s sticker.  She put the star sticker on Steve’s shirt before he could protest.

           “You did great, soldier,” she smiled.  

Steve laughed.  “Yes!” He pumped his fists in the air.  “Just wait till Buck sees this,” he joked, placing a reverent hand over the sticker.  Thor smiled and gave him a pat on the back.

           “You need a ride?” he asked.  “That bandage on your leg looks pretty gnarly.”

           “Nah.  Bucky’s actually here, but couldn’t come back with me.”  Steve carefully slipped off the table and gave Peggy a sheepish smile, thanking her for her help, and for not making fun of him.  Thor knew that Peggy would never make fun of someone for being afraid; she knew everyone had their own struggles in life and deserved respect when they tried overcoming them.  But Steve’s gratefulness still made him smile. He gave Steve his goodbyes and went to check on Peggy one more time.

           “You need anything else, Peggy?”  She smirked at him.

           “Yes, a foot massage and a nice bubble bath.  But that’ll have to wait until my shift is over,” she winked.  “Thanks again for your help, Thor. I really appreciated it. Now scoot!”  Peggy pushed him out the door and past the nurses’ station. Thor laughed and waved at the rest of his colleagues as he headed for the locker room.

***

The following day brought a slew of movers discreetly into the hospital and Thor wondered if the placement of the Jokulssen room hadn’t been intentional.  There were clothes, a few furniture pieces, and a whole slew of art supplies arriving in the hospital apartment. Thor was 33. It was hard to imagine having to stop his life, give up his independence, and live in a hospital for full time care.  It seemed Laufey’s son was incredibly lucky to have the space here. Most would be stuck in a small hospital room. It also seemed strange the family didn’t elect for in-home care instead. Or even long-term care. However, Laufey did own Hope General.  Maybe it was simply best that Loki was here. When he caught his boss again he asked, “When’s the official move-in?” looking pointedly at the door to Loki’s suite.

           “A bit of a snag there,” she frowned.  “Loki’s been resistant to the suggested treatment and arguing to stay in his own space.”  She crossed her arms as Thor nodded.

           “Understandably,” He acknowledged.  “Hospitals are hard, long term.” He thought back on his residency in a long-term care facility with fondness, but most of the stories were sad ones that ended in death.  Serving as a military nurse in the Marines had been fast paced and structured, but at least all his patients had the option of making it out alive, most of the time. There was no accounting for IED’s or fire fight, but no one had an already assigned death sentence like most of the people he’d cared for in long-term care.

           “It may be understandable, but his health should take precedence.  Here, he’d get a lot better care than any in-home nurse. That, I can guarantee,” she huffed, proud of her staff at Hope.  Jane was an intimidating woman when she wanted to be. Thor didn’t doubt she could win Loki over, but she wasn’t the one making the calls.  “Maria has a call with him later today, but I think she’s just going to rub him the wrong way. From what I’ve gathered, he’s very particular about people.”  Jane sighed and rubbed her temples. Thor just smiled and gave her a pat on the shoulder.

           “If he picks us, I know he’ll be happy with you, Jane.”  She smiled at him.

           “You always know how to cheer me up, big guy.  If he picks us, he should be here tomorrow or the next.”  She shook her head. “If… Listen to me…if…” Jane smirked and patted his shoulder in return.  “He’ll be here within the week,” she decided. Thor nodded back to her.

           “Right-o, boss lady.”  He gave her a thumbs up.  “If you need me to pick up any extra shifts with the schedule juggling, let me know.  Also,” Thor pointed an accusatory finger at Jane, “I am perfectly capable of night shifts, Jane.  I know you all have been shielding them from me for some reason, but I was a Marine,” he reminded her, a bit proudly.  “Night shifts don’t scare me, and I know you usually rotate them around.” Jane blushed, looking a tad guilty, as Thor huffed, petulantly.  He knew his colleagues adored him, but he definitely didn’t need special treatment. For the first four months he’d worked at Hope, night shifts had been part of his schedule, but for the past two months they’d suddenly dropped off.

           “Well,” she confided, “it actually wasn’t intentional.  Hogun and Natasha really enjoy working at night, and I’ve been giving the remaining shifts to the less experienced new hires, because they need to learn.”  Thor nodded, unsure if he believed her fully. “But I’ll keep that in mind,” she promised. “Now I gotta scoot and see if I can weasel my way onto Maria’s call.”  She hurried off to Thor’s laughter.

           “Bye!” he called.  He’d talk to Natasha when she came in, maybe.  Ask about the night shifts, if he was brave enough.

***

           Jane had been right.  Loki had come to stay before the week was out, and things were busier than ever at Hope.  Thor found out only two of the nurses still on staff had been here for Loki’s last stay: Pam and Evelyn.  Thor loved them to death and always delighted in their stories. Whenever he did rounds with them, he found new tips and tricks to pick up.  Not that he didn’t have his own. They just came from a different generation of nursing, and he was glad to learn different ways of doing things he already knew.  They were great at care and incredibly kind. With them assigned to Loki, Thor had a few different rounds added to his schedule. It wasn’t more work, but some of the regulars would have a new face.  He smiled, picking up a chart for a young boy, reading through the information provided. He’d broken his arm a month and a half ago and was in to have the cast removed. He read over the parents’ names, as well, not knowing who would be with him.

           “Hey Danny!” Thor chimed, when he’d stepped into the room.  “My name is Thor, and I’ll be removing that cast of yours today.”  He shook the father’s hand, who introduced himself as Ben, and focused back on Danny.

           “Where’s Miss Evelyn?” Danny asked, confused.  “She said she’d be here to see my cast removed.”  He pouted when Thor came to stand next to him.

           “Miss Evelyn was given an important task today,” Thor whispered, conspiratorially.

           “Really?” the boy’s eyes widened.  “What is it?”

           “She’s helping a wizard on his quest.  Have you seen the fountain of good health anywhere?”  Danny laughed.

           “That doesn’t exist,” he insisted.

           “Oh.  The wizard will be very sad to hear that,” Thor nodded solemnly.  Danny looked down at his cast.

           “I guess if Miss Evelyn has to help the wizard you’ll be OK in her place.  I’ve been awfully itchy.” Danny’s father gave Thor an appreciative smile for putting his young son at ease.

           “We’re celebrating with lunch at the train restaurant after this,” his father let on.  Danny clapped his hands.

           “Yes!  Yes!” he cheered.  “I almost forgot. Have you seen the trains at the train restaurant?” he asked Thor.  Thor grinned down at him.

           “Can’t say that I have.  But I’m new to the city.”  Thor got things prepared to remove the cast, washed his hands, and put on a pair of gloves.  As he set to work, Danny babbled on and on about the restaurant until Thor was finished and ready to call a doctor in for a final check.

           “You were very brave today, Danny,” Thor said, in all seriousness.  “Make sure to pick up a sticker before you go, and have fun at lunch!”  He waved the father and son off and turned to Dr. Enson. “Do you know the train restaurant?”  For all Danny’s excitement, Thor felt like maybe he was missing out on some great Chicago experience.  The doctor laughed.

           “It’s pretty much torture with or without children.  I don’t recommend it unless you’re really into trains.  Thanks, Thor.” He signed the papers in Danny’s chart and handed it back.  “I’m hoping the next ten look as good as Danny.”

           “Me too,” Thor agreed, waving as the doctor left for his next case.  Thor walked the file back up to the desk just in time to hear a loud crash from the Jokulssen room.

           “Don’t…don’t touch that!” came a screech from inside.

           “Alright,” came Evelyn’s calm reply.  Thor picked up on the slight distress in her tone, though.  He assumed Loki had changed quite a bit for her since she last had him as a patient.  “But we’ll need to move it eventually for the medical equipment,” she explained.

           “Don’t move it.”  Loki was starting to sound a bit panicked, so Thor poked his head into the room.  The younger man had his back to him and no one had noticed Thor. Loki was mumbling to himself “Everything has its place, everything has its place, everything has its place.”  Each time he said it he gave a tap to the beautiful antique clock that sat on a table next to the hospital bed.

           “I know, honey,” Evelyn soothed, placing a hand on Loki’s shoulder.  “And I know this is hard for you. Especially after you’d finally settled in your new place.  But we’ll find a proper place for your clock, OK?” At that moment, Loki turned around to glare at her and Thor caught a glimpse of Laufey’s son for the first time.  He was slender and had long, ink black hair that was pulled back into a messy bun. Loki wore a faded, black, Journey t-shirt, and a pair of red and white, plaid harem pants.  Thor’s breath caught in his throat and he felt his cock stir. Loki was more beautiful than any other man he’d met and his brain, unhelpfully, started supplying images of Loki pouting at him, turning his blushing face away because of something sweet Thor had said, kissing him.  He felt instantly guilty at his reaction to a hospital patient, and worked hard to get himself back under control.

           “I’m not a child, Evelyn,” Loki snarled, snatching his hand away from the clock to pace about the room itself.

           “I am aware, sweetheart,” she deadpanned.  “You’ll just have to forgive this old woman.”  Thor wanted to laugh. Evelyn had a way about her that he hoped he could emulate someday.  When Loki turned to face her, his expression had softened.

           “I’m sorry,” he whispered, staring down at his hands.  “The compulsion gets worse with new places, and this has quite uprooted me.”  Evelyn smiled at him.

           “I know, honey.  Now come get back on this bed for me.”  She patted the hospital mattress, then bent down to collect the items that had fallen onto the floor.  “Tell me how you’re feeling today, hmm?”

           Thor ducked out of the room, the situation well under control.  He was amazed he hadn’t been spotted. It seemed Loki had more going on than just the anemia that had brought him here.  Thor filed the information away for later and moved on to his next patient.

***

Towards the end of his shift, Peggy caught up with him.  “Thor-bear!” she cried, giving him a wild smile. “Steve and his friend Bucky invited me out tonight for some drinks.  You want to join us? Maybe bring a few friends?” Thor appreciated the offer, he really did. All day he’d been thinking about Loki.  Like, all day. He’d only gotten a brief glimpse of the raven haired man and he was already obsessed. The cute way he pouted and whined at Evelyn; the beautiful flush of red that had crept onto his pale cheeks as he apologized.  Even his fidgeting intrigued Thor. He knew next to nothing and already wanted to know everything about the hospital’s new resident. For all he knew, this could be more of a date that Peggy had been invited to go on, but Thor needed this distraction, so he pushed that thought away.  It was Friday night, and he had a late start the next day.

           “That sounds great,” he agreed, quickly, happily, already considering inviting Sif and Fandral.  Peggy gave him a quick laugh.

           “Really need a night out, eh?” she joked.

           “Something like that,” Thor smiled, running a hand through his hair, trying to dispel how awkward he felt suddenly.  “I’ll see if my friends Sif and Fandral are available,” he told her. He’d known Sif for most of his life, and Thor had been over-the-moon when she’d decided to take a job in Chicago a few weeks ago.  Sif, on the other hand, was missing the slower pace of Savannah, and the weather. Thor heard, almost daily, how awful the snow was. How terrible the cold! Why was she stuck in such a sunless, cold hell?  The beach area along Lake Shore Drive was nothing like the place she’d left. You couldn’t even go in the water. Savannah was in the 60’s right now. The sun was starting to come out pretty regularly. Nearby Tybee Island was full of friends Sif had made and beach beach beach.  Almost needless to say, Sif, too, was desperate for distractions and in need of new friends. The only thing going for Chicago right now was Sif’s overwhelming fulfillment with the job she’d taken. She’d been offered a position to run a large battered women’s shelter/non-profit in Chicago and found a great purpose in helping the women who walked through their doors.  Fandral, on the other hand, lived across the hall from Thor. He’d never met someone with such a zeal for life and living it to the fullest. Fandral was somehow independently wealthy and spent his time sculpting, when he felt like it, and giving tours of the city he’d grown up in when he didn’t feel like it. The man was not an artist, but he knew so much more about art than his skills let on.  He’d introduced Thor to the gym he’d met Steve at and helped him get acclimated with the neighborhood. He’d taught Thor the bus system and how the Metra worked. He had even hinted, quite a few times, that Thor could have it made as a bouncer in the city. Thor had laughed for a long while at that. But Fandral had quickly become a fast friend and Thor felt he’d known him almost as long as Sif. When Sif had moved to Chicago, it had been Fandral who had dragged them both out on the town, and Fandral who had propositioned them both when they were walking home.  It seemed this was just Fandral’s way. They’d declined, but Thor watched Sif give him the once over. It might take a while, but he suspected Sif would take Fandral up on his offer, eventually. He was charming, and paid attention. He cared about personal hygiene, and, most importantly, he was interested in knowing people. Anyone would find that a winning combination.

           “We’re headed to Cub Sox.”  Peggy rolled her eyes. Thor didn’t catch the reference and gave her a questioning look.  She shook her head. “It’s a kitschy baseball themed bar, but I guess Steve loves it.” She sighed.  “The things I do for decent company.” Peggy placed a hand over her heart, lamenting her fate. Thor laughed.

           “Well, I’ve never been, so I’m sure it’ll be fun to experience my reaction.  Indoctrinate the newbies, right?” He grinned, giving Peggy a thumbs up.

           “I suppose,” she groaned, jokingly.  “I’ll see you there around 10, yeah?”  Thor nodded and went to text Sif and Fandral on his break.  

***

When he next checked, Sif was in and Fandral was whining, but begrudgingly agreeing to meet them all there; mostly because ‘your friend needs to be schooled in the fine world of Chicago bars.’  Thor joked with him about it, mentioning Peggy’s reaction, but made sure Fandral wouldn’t embarrass Steve too much. He was becoming a good friend of Thor’s and he didn’t want Fandral scaring him off.  Locking his phone back up, he walked back to the main desk to grab the file for his next patient. As he read, Evelyn walked up to him.

           “Thor, honey,” she addressed him hastily.

           “Hey, Evelyn!  To what do I owe the pleasure?” he looked over at her after leafing through his patient’s file.

           “I gotta jet early, hon.  My granddaughter is coming to town and I need to pick her up from the airport.”  Thor nodded. “Well, you know Pam’s off for the week, which just leaves me with Loki.  Everything should be fine, but can you bring him his meds tonight, for me? I cleared it with Jane, but I wanted to brief you, if it’s alright.”  Thor felt a little nervous. There were so many excellent nurses that he worked with, and he felt many more might be better suited than him.

           “Are you sure?” he confirmed.  “I mean…Natasha’s got seniority over me and might be a better choice.”  Evelyn laughed.

           “You can’t be serious, honey.  If there’s one person at this hospital most similar to my own style of caregiving, it’s you.  He’s OK with me, so he should be fine with you. It’s just bringing him a cup of pills. It should be fine.”  She smoothed the front of her shirt before looking up at Thor seriously. “It is important that he take them all, though.  He’s due for a blood transfusion tomorrow, so pills and rest are important.” Thor gripped the folder he was holding a little tighter.  He felt honored that Evelyn considered his nursing style to be similar to her own. She was an excellent nurse. So why was he feeling anxious all the sudden?  He had been in the medical field for years. He had plenty of experience with people in much worse conditions than Loki. He’d been to war… Thor shook himself internally, giving up that train of thought.

           “Alright,” he agreed, easily enough.  “What do I need to know?” Evelyn briefed him on what medications Loki was taking before he needed to ask another question.  “Does he need to be in bed? I don’t know the protocol with all the rooms he has,” he confessed. Evelyn smirked.

           “It’s a bit of a pickle, isn’t it?  Yes, the rooms are his to use as he pleases, but only insofar as it doesn’t endanger his health.  If he’s not getting enough rest, that’s an issue. If he’s consistently wearing himself out because he’d rather be up and doing things, that’s an issue.  Loki also deals with OCD on occasion, so you need to be mindful of that. If the things he’s doing are especially triggering for him, again, that’s an issue.  But if he’s content and as healthy as he’d be in that hospital bed, he’s OK to be up and about and doing what’s good for him. He’s also not at a phase, yet, where he needs to be in that bed.  So if he’d rather sleep in the bedroom that’s his, then he’s OK to sleep there instead of the hospital bed we’ve got. Just use your judgement, Thor. You have a good head on your shoulders. I know you’ll be fine for a few hours.  Hogun will be here tonight, in case there’s anything Loki needs, and you can’t find someone more Zen than that boy. I’ll be back in the morning, so don’t fret.” She winked at him and Thor let out a tiny sigh.

           “OK.  Should be fine,” he agreed, giving her a big smile.  Evelyn thanked him again and gave Thor a bit more information on Loki’s care.  After that, she ran off for the airport and Thor left to greet his next patient.

***

Around 9 pm that night, Thor wheeled a cart up to Loki’s door.  He picked up the cup of pills and a small bottle of water and headed inside.  Despite all the assurances from Evelyn, he still wasn’t prepared for what met him inside the room.  Loki stood in a glass enclosure. It had been empty the last time Thor had gotten a good look at the inside of the Jokulssen apartment.  The walls were almost all glass, so you could see into the entire space, and there were art supplies neatly stacked everywhere. Loki’s back was to Thor, mixed paints at the ready.  "Ho capito! Signor, sì" from Don Giovanni was blasting through the small speaker he had in the room, the name of the song shown to Thor on the tablet screen set up just outside the room, likely to protect it from the paint.  Loki’s arms seemed to be vibrating, his hands shaking harder than the rest of his arms. Thor also noticed the canvas he had in the room was secured with heavy duty clamps to keep it from moving or shifting in its place.

When the music hit a crescendo, Loki attacked the blank canvas in front of him.  His hands slammed into some of the paint and he threw himself at the white cloth before him, painting like a dance, or a battle, twisting and turning, his hands constantly moving.  Only a few times Thor caught his expression and it was one of anger and frustration. His mood matched the operatic ranting flowing from behind the glass. The song lasted only a few minutes, but Thor was completely captivated.  When it switched over to a more peaceful tone—“Barcarolle” from Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffman,” said the screen—Loki seemed to sag with the tune. He wiped his hands and chose new paint colors, his hands falling limply onto the canvas.  These strokes seemed longing, expressing exhaustion. When at last he noticed Thor, the song had ended and Loki was panting. Thor walked up to the door and opened it. The man inside regarded him with open curiosity, tilting his head to the left and dragging his eyes over Thor’s form.  Thor cleared his throat, willing his voice to be even.

           “I have your pills for the night,” Thor smiled, finally pulling himself out of his own ogling.  “Evelyn had to leave early today.” Loki took a few cautious steps towards Thor, his hands dripping in paint.

           “This used to be a playroom,” the younger man explained, over the hum of Enya’s “Only Time,” still assessing Thor.  “There’s so much glass so they could keep an eye on me. I usually don’t let people watch me paint.” Loki stopped right in front of him and Thor instantly felt naked under his gaze.  His heart rate sped up as Loki invaded his personal space.

           “What…what are you working on?” Thor stammered, looking over at the unfinished canvas, the cup of pills and the little bottle of water completely forgotten in his hands.

           “I paint for myself,” Loki asserted.  “This is just me working through my thoughts.  I let my playlist help corral the inspiration.”  Loki turned back to the canvas and ‘tsked.’ “You’re ruining my flow.”  He turned back to Thor. “What did you want again?” Thor blushed, feeling bad for intruding while Loki was working on something.  But this was his job, as much as painting was Loki’s. He held up the cup of pills, remembering why he’d come in the first place.

           “Your medication,” he supplied.  Loki smirked and held up his paint smeared hands.  Without saying another word, the younger man fixed him with another heavy stare and opened his mouth.  Thor couldn’t believe his luck. Evelyn had talked about easy, right? Giving him a little cup of pills and some water should have been easy.  In and out in a few minutes, tops. But it looked like Loki enjoyed turning this into a game. Turning Thor’s job into a challenge. Seeing how far he could push the boundaries.  Thor chuckled and shook his head. If he wanted a challenge, Thor would meet it head on. He poured the pills into Loki’s mouth and went to open the bottle of water, making sure Loki knew it hadn’t been opened before pouring some of the liquid into his mouth.  “Is that enough water or do you need more?” Loki’s face looked flushed all the sudden, as he turned away from Thor and walked back to the canvas. Evidently it was enough water. “Are you feeling alright tonight?” He needed to clarify before he left. Loki turned around and glared at Thor.  When Disturbed’s cover of “The Sound of Silence” began flooding his ears, Thor got the hint. He was cramping Loki’s style; ruining his groove. “Sorry,” he muttered. “I just need a quick check-in and I’ll leave you to it.” Thor capped the bottle of water and left it on the floor near the door.  When the flush on Loki’s face got a bit deeper, Thor started to worry that maybe he was over-exerting himself.

           “I’m not too tired to paint,” Loki seethed.  “Painting is actually an outlet for my OCD, so you’re all covered there.  If I start to over-exert myself, I’ll take a break.” Loki sighed and forgot himself for a moment, placing a paint covered hand to his face.  He jumped when he felt the slippery, cool pigment hit his skin and turned away from Thor quickly. “I’ve taken my meds, and I’ll be in bed by midnight, a few hours earlier than my normal routine.  Happy?”

           “Thank you,” Thor whispered and closed the door quickly behind him.  He didn’t want to disrupt Loki any further, and Thor needed to calm himself down before seeing anyone else.  Despite the attitude, Thor was incredibly aroused by the whole interaction he’d just had. Loki was gorgeous and focused when he worked.  It was like a trance. When he gave you his attention, you knew you held it, for his gaze was heavy, like a weighted blanket placed on your shoulders.  He enjoyed teasing and ruffling others’ feathers. And when he became embarrassed, he became silent and surly. The whole scene had felt like a hand down his pants and it wasn’t helping quell his thoughts in the least.  Thor ducked into the breakroom and locked himself in the bathroom there. He took a few deep breaths and meditated a bit. ‘You’re a professional,’ he coached himself.  ‘You can handle this.  Don’t let a patient rattle you.  You’ve had a great career so far.’  He turned on the sink faucet and splashed his face a few times.  ‘You’re being ridiculous, Thor’ he chastised.  Thor stared at himself in the mirror, a hard look on his face.  He pointed a finger at his reflection. “Stop being a perv and do your job.”  Thor left for the nurses station, hoping to finish up a bit of paperwork before heading out.