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Summit

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A mile into the hike, you're glad you sucked it up to accompany your friend on this little adventure; you weren't exactly in the mood to wake up before dawn and drive for hours, just to be met with a ten mile hike. However, it's more pleasant than you expected. It feels good; the stretch of your legs beneath the green canopy. It's probably too hot to hike, and summer is drawing to a close; tourist season ended a couple of weeks ago, so at least you seem to have the trail to yourselves.

"Technically, today we're only doing about five miles," your friend has reassured you. The plan was to make it to the summit before nightfall, set up camp, and watch the stars while stuffing your faces with well-earned s'mores. Your friend had just been through the breakup of a lifetime, so despite it not being ideal hiking conditions, and the fact that you had planned to spend the weekend in pajamas with chocolate and Netflix, you agreed. What are friends for? And, sure, you didn't have a boyfriend, but if you did, they would do the same for you.

By the time you were a quarter of a mile from the top, you vowed to ghost your friend the next time they got dumped.

You stop, glancing up with squinted eyes at the ledge above you. "'Only five miles'. I would be up there by now," you pant, pausing for a moment to wheeze, your knee perched on a rock, your forearm draped over it while you buckle over to rest one last time. "But no, we had to fill four nalgenes each. I had to have cold weather clothes; this damn pack is so heavy and it's freaking 84 degrees-"

"We have to be prepared," despite their general sunny disposition, you're at least happy to see your friend is equally struggling, albeit too stubborn to admit it. "It gets chilly up top at night, especially if it's windy." The lid of their water bottle swirls as they screw off the top, chugging back as much as they can before handing it over it you.

"I would pay to feel chilly right now," you whine, wishing you were at home, freshly showered and draped over your couch beneath your window unit. You want to dump the water straight down your back, but you take a conservative sip; if you had chugged yours like that, you might be sick.

"C'mon," your friend reaches out to playfully slap your calf, and you let out a dramatic sob. "We're almost there."


"Worth it, right?" your friend asks, only a little hint of smugness in their voice.

"Worth it," you echo breathlessly. You had a firm grasp on the word 'vast', but never before did you truly understand the meaning of it until now. The summit provided a complete panoramic view of the mountain range; the hazy sun already sinking below them. The mountains were dark blues and purples, the sky beyond them streaked with brilliant pinks and oranges. Sure, maybe you weren't all that outdoorsy, but you got out from time to time; still, never before had you seen anything like this.

You both had been sitting on a little mossy patch for a while now, just gazing. There didn't seem to be much for vegetation at this elevation besides lichen; the tree line was pretty far below, and even those were just thin, scraggly spruce trees of some sort. As the sweat begins to dry, you notice your friend was right as you unwillingly shiver.

"Told ya," your friend says, clicking their tongue and swinging their pack off their shoulders, placing it between their knees to unzip it and pull out a fuzzy-looking sweater.

"Told ya'," you mimic their voice in an unnatural, nasally tone, and they smirk. You are grateful for the soft sweatshirt you mercilessly dig from beneath your hoards of snacks and water bottles. 

When you had agreed to this whole thing, your friend had valiantly agreed to carry the tent, and you almost feel a little guilty for it when they unsnap it from a section in their pack; it looks heavy.

"Here," they divvy up and hand you half of the black poles, and you both begin to lengthen them.

You pause for a moment when you notice your friend lurch forward, like they were about to stumble.

"You okay?" you ask, concerned. "Let me do this; sit."

"No, no, I'm fine," they insist, but a troubled look on their face is poorly-hidden from you, even as the sun sinks even lower beyond the horizon.

"If you say so," you narrow your eyes, keeping your hands busy with the poles. They help you string them through the plastic S-shaped hooks, holding the tent erect, but they still falter a couple more times.

"There," you say, placing your hands on your hips, stepping back to appreciate your handiwork. 

In a childlike voice, you hear your friend say your name, reaching for you. Before you can catch them, the gust on the summit picking up, they began to unravel, it seemed, reddish ash trailing behind them. And then you realize it isn't behind them, it is them, and before you can process it, they're gone.


 

"This isn't real, this isn't real, this isn't real," you're muttering, pacing in the growing darkness. Your voice is hoarse; you had screamed their name into the abyss, praying for help, for them to reappear, but you were alone, and it was getting colder, and night had arrived. 

Sobbing, shaking, you realize you're here for the night; it's at least a four hour hike back down to your friend's car, and you are not heading back in the dark. Digging through their pack, you survey their things, realizing you were stranded at the trailhead, too; their keys had been in their pocket, gone with them. They had even had their sole lighter, so starting a fire at the makeshift pit was out of the question. 

You're flashing between moments of hysteria and unnerving calm; those are the moments you fish out your phone, holding it up to the star-peppered sky in vain, hoping for a single bar. By the time you remember the emergency call feature, the battery dies, the screen as black as the sky behind it.

Then, paranoia sets in: once you reach civilization again, who would believe you? Who in their right mind would believe your friend literally vanished right before your eyes? Your mind flashed to police investigations, trials, even prison. When these intrusive thoughts start to get too much, that's when you pace again. When your legs tremble and you finally sit back down, you start to feel scared, so you finally unzip the tent, dragging your sleeping bag behind you. 

You don't sleep; the wind is loud, your mind is ruthlessly replaying the image of your friend's fate on repeat, and the thoughts creep back in. Maybe you drift off here and there, not knowing if you were asleep or not in those moments you become aware again. Eventually, you realize that light is creeping through the fabric walls of your tent, and you push the sleeping bag away with your feet.


Doing something helps; deconstructing the tent by yourself is keeping you busy, and by the time it's snugly back in it's little compression sack, along with your sleeping bag, you begin to sort through you and your friend's belongings; you can't carry it all down with you.

You barely notice how weak your legs are; you mindlessly tromp down the switchbacks, your eyes bleary with sleeplessness. By the time the sun is almost above you, you notice the ground is leveling out. Eventually, you see the road. 

But you don't hear any traffic.

You consider breaking the windows to your friend's car, but you know it would be a waste; you don't have the keys, and you definitely don't know how to jumpstart it. After a few minutes, or maybe hours of resting on the hood, hoping more hikers arrive, you decide you have to keep moving. After stomaching a few handfuls of trail mix, you decide to head down the road, in the direction you came from. 

Except, you can't remember which way that is.

You take too long picking a direction, and decide on West; the sun is already pointed in that general direction. You're embarrassed by how disoriented you are; in your reluctance to come on this trip, you hadn't bothered to ask exactly which mountain you climbed, or which town you were in. Only that home was a few hours of a drive away.

You're too tired, sore and in shock to be as afraid as you should be. 


You think about that moment at the trailhead often; although you don't think that much would be different, had you gone the other way. You would meet the same devastation whichever cardinal point you chose.

Days had gone by, and there seemed to be nothing but this abandoned highway. The mountains were beautiful and the heat had died away, but you barely slept those nights; the deafening sound of insects chirping, coyotes howling, twigs snapping, made sleep impossible. Each morning you somehow managed to disassemble the tent, throw back a bit of your shrinking rations of snacks and water, and carry on.

You were beginning to think you were dead; this endless road your limbo. Maybe you had swirled away in the wind along with your friend. Hysteria overtook you as you manically laughed to yourself, wondering what your friend's personal hell would be; an upset stomach from too much chocolate on your squishy couch, maybe. The thought made your tired eyes burn.

When you tripped over a broken piece of pavement on the road from an unpatched frost heave, you knew you were most definitely dead when you fall and the world goes dark, the ground and sky disappearing entirely. 


"Wake up, mortal," a terse voice is speaking too loudly; it startles you, and the heavy, leather boot roughly prodding your shoulder hurts. 

Within your personal hell, you finally found the Devil; Loki of Asgard, the very same one who had destroyed New York a couple of years ago, peers down his nose at you, his boot inches from your face.

"Oh, good," he smiles, but it isn't kind. "I thought you were dead."

 

 

 

Chapter Text

You're impressed with how quickly you scramble to your feet; Loki appears to be, as well. It sounds like he didn't think you were alive, let alone capable of moving. When you notice your pack isn't on your back anymore, you frantically search for it; your entire body freezes when you see it leaning against a tree by Loki's ankle.

"Do you know who I am, girl?"

"Yes," you say, surprised at the fierceness behind your words. "Where have you taken me?" This definitely isn't anywhere you recognize; the general ecology is similar, but the trees, you begin to notice, are massive. Your jaw drops as your head tilts back, trying to take in the conifer you're standing closest too; the tree canopy is tight, sure, but there's no end in sight, and it looks like you would need several of you to wrap yourself around the trunk.

Loki barks out a laugh, and it brings you back from your little forest survey. "I have not touched you, let alone transported you. That is, unless you consider the bottom of my boot actual contact. We are on Alfheim, one of the Nine realms. I have only just discovered you crumpled here, presumably dead."

You remember your fall into nothingness, and after what happened to your friend, nothing seems impossible anymore. You nod in understanding, even though you don't understand, and you're back at square one. Wait, no, you don't have a square one anymore; you're not just hours from home now, you're maybe lightyears from earth. At least there won't be any murder investigations on...what did he call this place? Aye-fell...something?

He's taking in your hiking apparel, which you're somehow embarrassed to note has begun to look quite dirty and smells awful (god, you realize - you must be what smells awful), and quickly lets his eyes dart to the bag at his feet.

"Where were you travelling to after the Snap occured?" His eyes are narrowed, looking at you like you're some kind of skittish animal; certainly not a threat, but perhaps slightly unpredictable. 

"The what?" 

"The Snap, idiot girl; or did you fail to notice half of your kind vanish only a week ago?" 

A soundless sob rattles it's way out of your chest, and you notice your knees buckle a bit as you reach for the tree closest to you for support. Catching his eye, you notice he looks disgusted. 

"I was hiking, with my friend. They vanished. I had no idea what was going on; I haven't seen a single human in - wait, did you say a week?" You're panting, the words surprisingly harder to say than you thought. It all sounds like a fever dream. "How do I get back to earth?" 

Loki laughs; it's small and almost cruel, he's sneering. "The Bifrost is destroyed, mortal. And I cannot travel there myself. Rather, I will not," you notice his voice has dropped a bit, but it's not any less sharp.

"The by what? So, I-I'm stuck here? But I have to get home, I have to tell my family-"

"Half your family is dead, mortal," he snaps, clearly not harboring a shred of empathy for this utter tragedy he's hurling at you. 

You hear him groan as you cover your face with your hands, slumping against the tree to your feet. Out on the mountainous highway, you had managed to remain stoic, determined to survive. Now, one of the people responsible for the death of thousands stood in front of you, on a different realm, and you didn't know who or what you'd be going home to, even if you were on earth.  Here come the tears that you had managed to keep at bay since the first night on the summit. You let your arms rest against your knees drawn to your chest, burying your head.

"This is piteous," he says, huffing in impatience.

When he begins to move towards you, you sob harder. "Are you going to kill me?" you cry, edging away from him on the forest floor.

"Why waste the energy, when the forest varulv will surely sniff you out in no time, especially with this wretched crying," as his hands reach for your arms, you move to the side, making a reach for your pack. You're not sure what varulv means, and you don't want to find out without the barrier of your tent.

You barely notice Loki stand still, folding his arms, slightly annoyed and amused at your attempt to escape. You seize the bag, and almost feel triumphant in your movements as you begin to run through the dense, dark forest. 

The triumph dissipates completely when you feel your shoe hook under the root of the tree, and what you feel after that, you'll never remember. In fact, you barely feel the smack against your head as it collides with the boulder.


Maybe trying to run through an unknown forest on a different planet, sleep-deprived and almost starving, wasn't your best plan of action. You kind of comprehend that, when your eyes flutter open for a second. Maybe this had all been a bad dream; you don't recognize your surroundings, but you're in a bed. It's warm, and you're wrapped around a thick, down blanket. Faintly, you recall the hike, and your friend's death, and walking. Endless walking, days of it. And you had dreamt of an alien overlord, telling you half the world was dead. You're too comfortable, warm and out of it to move, and before you can decide whether or not you should inquire about your current situation, your heavy eyelids close again. You feel a ice cold hand on your forehead, or maybe it's just part of the dream.


 

"Mortal." 

It wasn't a dream. That voice most definitely is coming from Loki, who you truly only know of through the media. You were alive for 9/11 and remember the hellscape New York was left in in it's wake; Loki's attempt at taking over the planet made September 11th look like a two-car traffic accident. Fortunately, no one you knew personally was affected by the attack, but you'd be lying to yourself if you said it hadn't caused serious anxiety. And here you were, in his bed.

He seems to be satisfied that you're beginning to stir, and doesn't bark at you again. As you adjust your body, which aches, your heart almost stops completely when you notice you're only in your bra and underwear.

"Where are my clothes?" you croak hoarsely, your voice coming out a lot weaker than you were hoping for. What had he done to you? 

"Covered in blood; I was able to use some of my stores to remove it from your head when I healed your wound, but did not want to waste it on your garments. You appear to have more in your travelling bag, but I did not want to touch you more than absolutely necessary." There's that blunt tone, as if you've deeply offended him with your existence. 

This was a lot to process. "Blood?" you mumble.

"You hit your head in your impressive flee. What is your name, mortal?" he snaps irritably. 

You answer. Then, he asks you your birthday, which you also are able to tell him.

"Which Midgardian territory do you originate from?"

"What?" Maybe you do have a brain injury.

"Where do you live, you simple wretch," he demands through gritted teeth. The angrier he seems to get, the harder your heart pounds.

You ramble off the state you live in, and he only says, "Good. I cannot say that you appear to have your wits about you, but at least you have not lost your memory."

"How do you know all of this stuff about me?" you finally roll over to face him; you had been having a hard time keeping your eyes open and you feel a massive headache coming on.

"With this," he flings a little rectangular card at your head, and it lands centimeters from your nose. "You conveniently came with identification. Mortals; absolutely no mind for discretion or stealth, marked at all times." he spits, as if your customs are the bane of his existence. 

Is he really giving you crap for having an I.D.? Of course he would have a hard time believing that following laws wasn't exactly easy to get around. You reach for it, and gasp when you see the dried blood on your arm. 

"I'm sorry I bled so much," you squeak, growing more embarrassed by the second knowing that an evil villain had to undress you, put you in his bed, and go through your stuff.

"Not as sorry as I am," he says, "I have no doubt that you needed rest, but you must eat; I take it that it has been several days since you've had a proper meal, and I am in no mood to dispose of a mortal corpse."

Graphic, dude. Why did he have to be so morbid? Suddenly, hunger pains are stabbing their way through you. Slowly, you sit up, facing him. He's perched on the edge of the bed, watching you with an annoyed look. Being in this intimate space with him is most likely the most surreal part of this harrowing experience so far.

"Um, can I have my bag? And some privacy to dress?"

His lips curl, a slightly creepy gleam in his eyes. "Perhaps you ought to bathe," he suggests, and it looks like this wasn't a spur of the moment idea, because he reaches behind him and tosses you a towel. 

Another offer from the terrifying God you can't refuse.

"Where are we?" you finally think to ask. You start to take in the room; it looks like it's evening, based on the fading light from the window, which has a pretty nice view of forests that look a lot like the ones he found you in. Green curtains that look like velvet are covering them, only letting in a little bit of light; it's dark. The walls are a simple white color, but the ceiling and the framework are delicately carved wood, and looks like it had been dipped in melted gold. The bed you're in is big, nestled into dark wood, and it seems to be taking up most of the space. You see a trunk at the foot of it, and you breathe a sigh of relief when you see your bag resting on top. "How long have I been out?"

"Just over two days-"

"Two days?" No wonder your head hurt. You feel yourself start to panic; what if there was serious damage? "Should...should I go to a hospital?"

Loki laughs darkly, shaking his head lightly. "You are in one of my holiday cabins, mortal. I have several throughout the Nine, but I always kept this one very well-hidden with enchantments, just in case. If you leave, you will not be able to return, and I will not rescue you again."

You have a million questions racing through your mind, queuing up to leave your mouth first. "Why?" is all you manage.

"Because, daft girl, the world thinks I am dead, and it needs to stay that way until the time is right. You trotting about will indeed draw the attention I have fought hard to avoid."

"Is that why you saved me?" you cringe at how pathetic you sound.

"Yes. You weren't far from here; if I had left you, I may have been discovered, and I cannot have that, can I?" his vulpine smile is back, and he's looking at you like you're prey. You feel your cheeks burn when you suddenly realize that he's actually pretty good-looking. His hair is a bit longer than you remember, and although he is still pale, there is more of a natural color to him. He's the antithesis of his brother Thor, who's physique you'd seen plastered to countless magazines and internet articles, but the big, blonde thing was never exactly your type. You also never realized how tall Loki was; even sitting down, he towers over you.

Great, you think. As if this needed to be any weirder.

Another mortifying thought crosses your mind. "Have you been sleeping...with me? In the bed?"

He is, without question, smiling now; wolfish lips, flashing his white teeth, spreads across his face. "Would you like it if I had, mortal?"

You're definitely blushing now; averting your eyes, you chose not to answer him.

"I stayed the first night, to ensure your condition did not worsen. You were dehydrated. These are not my rooms."

An image of the evil Loki of New York, tucking you into bed, monitoring your breathing and giving you water flashes through your mind; you can't tell if it's a real memory, or if it's just an invasive thought, it's only purpose to taunt you.

"You tend to cling when you are suffering," he remarks, and your cheeks are on fire at this point as his fox-like grin reappears. Distracting yourself, you draw the sheets up to your neck, guarding your chest from view as you reach for the towel. 

"Thank you. For saving me," maybe playing into his known-obsession with humans grovelling before him will help you. You're not above a little manipulation to survive. 

"Think nothing of it, mortal. It would have been more of an inconvenience to let you die, remember that. Your kind is very weak; take care to not injure yourself again," he chides.

You sneer, rolling your eyes, trying to think of a quick jab, when your breath hitches in your throat - Loki lunges towards you, and his cold hands are gripping your chin. It hurts.

"Careful, wench," he hisses. "This may not be the palace of Asgard, but I am still a prince. You will not act with such disrespect." He shoves your face back, and you massage the space where his fingers had dug into your jaw gingerly. "Ungrateful swine."

"I'm sorry, alright?" you cry. You're too terrified to acknowledge the outrage you feel. "Can you just tell me where the shower is?"

Gesturing to a door on the other side of the room, he tells you, "Behind that door is a bath; take the time you need, the hot water will help. We will eat when you have finished. Do not allow yourself to fall asleep," he points a long finger in your direction, and you draw away, looking between his hand and his eyes.

His Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde act of cruel dictator and caring nurse is too much to swallow at the moment, so you nod, eyeing the bathroom door, hoping he gets the hint that you will not leave the bed in your underwear with him still in the room. 

"You do not possess anything I have not seen countless times over the centuries; save your modesty for minding your tongue." 

You're too abashed to respond, but you don't have to - he's already headed for the door.


 

The bathroom seems to be entirely carved from marble, and even the knobs in the tub are made of gold. Even in your hazy state, you're annoyed that Loki was right; you're fighting to stay awake, and the hot water is nothing less than everything you had hoped for back on the highway. 

Back home. You wonder if Loki would at least let you explore the woods around this cabin...

Too exhausted to give it another thought, you manage to hold your sore arms up long enough to wash your hair. The shampoo you find smells very herbal, but it's kind of nice, and it does the trick. You think you feel a thick scar where the dried blood had plastered to your scalp, and you remember Loki saying he had healed you. So, is he a wizard, too? Hoping he's more like Professor Snape than Voldemort, you finish scrubbing yourself before you get out; you've decided that the headache is definitely from a lack of food.

 


If Loki considers this a cabin, you hate to think what he would call your place. 

You're a little cold; your sweater and jeans are too filthy to wear again, and all you've got are some gym shorts and a tee shirt. You hold yourself while you walk across what seems like a bridge. The only cabin-esque thing about it here, besides the woods it's nestled in, are the vaulted, post and beam ceilings. The walkway is suspended over the center of the building, and although it's too dark to make out details, you can see the open-concept layout below. You're walking towards what seems to be the heart of the place; a massive stone chimney and you can feel the warmth radiating from it as you get closer. You're grateful the staircase is placed only feet from it as you make your descent. 

"Still alive, then, girl?" You turn to your right, and Loki is tucked into a large, wing-backed chair in front of the very large fireplace, the glow illuminating his features. You finally have get a good look at him; he's wearing a black, flowy shirt of some kind, and black leather pants. It's a good look, for what you assume he considers casual.

Yep, definitely good-looking. Great.

"Are you cold?" he asks, curious.

"Yes," you reply in a small voice. 

"Come," he gestures to the sofa besides his chair, and you notice the tray of food sitting on the coffee table between the seats. There's a very welcoming blanket, too. 

You tiptoe past him, basking in the blazing heat of the fire. You avoid his face; he's watching you closely, and you don't look at him long enough to see if he's amused or disgusted. 

It's a soup of some kind, and a generous chunk of bread. You drop to the couch, bunch the blanket around you, and cup the bowl in your hands; the warmth heavenly. 

"Thank you," you say. The soup is good, and you're delighted when you bite into what seems to be meat.

"Hmm," Loki narrows his eyes, and his hands are steepled in front of his mouth. It's very hard to eat with him watching you this intently, so you kind of pause, swirling the soup with the spoon. Eventually, he opens a book from his lap, looking away from you.

"Did you eat?" you ask, feeling uneasy about eating alone.

"Yes. Enough dialogue for the night, mortal," he says curtly, not looking up from the page.

So much for figuring out what the hell is going on, you think. Although he seems focused on his book, you try to maintain your manners while you eat. It's probably for the best, otherwise you may have eaten too quickly. By the time you've cleaned the bowl, the bread devoured, you feel more tired than you can ever remember being. The comfort the fullness brings, the crackling fire, is enough to ease you back into sleep. Loki doesn't pay you any mind, so you burrow into the blankets, willingly letting sleep take you.


You suddenly realize you're being carried, the thin fabric of Loki's shirt pressed against your cheek. You should be scared, but you're too tired to fight off the comfort you feel; after thinking you may never see another living soul again, it feels good to be held.

Even if it's by someone who still might kill you, if it becomes the more convenient option. 

When you feel him lower you effortlessly onto the bed, you can't help it when you grip his shirt. "Please," you say, "I don't want to be alone." You can't stand the thought of a panic attack, or another sleepless night. Anything but being left to your own mind.

"Alright," he whispers, pulling the covers up to your shoulders; and when he climbs in besides you, you're more relieved than frightened when he drags you against him. He tucks your head beneath his chin, and his arm is wrapped tightly around your middle. 

You mean to thank him, but you're asleep before you get the words out. 

Chapter Text

Of course he's gone when you wake up.

You remember waking up a bit earlier, and he traced his finger along your side, soothing you wordlessly back to sleep. Why were you not afraid? You had almost rolled over to face him before you'd fallen back to sleep, wanting to touch him, too. You remember your request from last night, pleading with him to stay, and you groan behind your hands in embarrassment. Shock and greif do strange things to the mind, you decide. Besides, you're just you. Maybe he's just trying to keep you calm to prevent a freakout; he's made it pretty clear that he doesn't want you to mess this hideout situation up for him. It's not like he actually wants anything to do with you.

Either way, your life will never be the same, whether you're here, or back home. 

Wishing you had more clothes, you decide to wander around to see if you can find Loki. You realize just how big this bed is; it's incredibly comfortable, but you're almost hesitant to jump out of it, it's high off the ground. You land on your feet, regardless, albeit a bit shaky. Pulling the blinds away, you're a bit relieved to see the sun.

Now is your chance to take this "cabin" in. Leaving your room, you notice that the floors are all are a deep, dark wood, with a massive, oriental-style runner rug down the middle of the hall. It's beautiful; if you had found it in a antique store, you wouldn't even want to look at the price tag; the "bridge" that trails across the length of the place looks almost as long as a football field. Everything is made of the same dark wood, except the walls are all the same white, and like your room, have the same frame and ceiling design; the rich gold, so intricately carved, you feel like you're in an old, European chapel. The pitch of the ceiling adds to this affect. You edge past the staircase, carefully peeking towards the other end, where a set of double doors are shut. 

You decide it's best not to knock. 

Downstairs, there's a fire lit again, but no sign of Loki, so you keep wandering. The further you creep from the fire, the colder you get, so when you notice a thick, wool cloak draped over a chair in a hallway, you take it. It smells like him, and you're embarrassed again when you don't stop yourself from inhaling deeply against the hood as you wrap it around your shoulders. 

The layout is so open, it's not hard to find the kitchen. It's very...primitive. It's large and clean and beautiful, but it reminds you of a a settlers colony you'd visited in middle school; there's a stone hearth big enough to stand up and lie down across, a wood cook stove, and a very large basin of some sort with a soapstone sink. Your lips twitch into a little smile when, on the long, wooden table in the center of the room is a tray of food, and a folded note with your name written on it. 

Eat - you must rebuild your strength. I am hunting; do not leave the cabin while I am gone. The library is down on the north wing. Touch nothing else.

Okay, maybe not the warmest note you've ever received, but at least he's left you food, and it was sweet to suggest the library. In fact, the thought of immersing yourself in a novel makes your heart almost ache with gratitude; if you have to adjust to this new reality, it won't hurt to have some form of escapism. Surveying the tray, you're pleased to see more of the bread from last night, cheese and pink berries of some kind. You almost completely down the water in the goblet he left, but before you eat, you decide to find a book first.

You can see the bookshelves from the kitchen on the other end, and your feet patter as you almost sprint towards it. It's been a little while since you've felt anything bordering on excitement. The entire north wall is glass, and half of it is obscured by the shelves; they have to be at least fifteen feet tall. There's a rod iron pole along the top of them, and you eye the staircase designed to run across it. You're definitely hungry, and you don't want to offend Loki by ignoring the plate of food, so you quickly scan for something written in English; most of the books you see first are written with symbols; runes, you recognize. Soon, in the middle, just high enough that you'll have to drag the ladder to reach, you recognize Shakespeare; at least it's something tangible, something from your world. 

An hour later, you're plate almost empty, you're savoring the sweet fruit and several pages deep in 'Macbeth' when you hear the door; Loki appears, and he's got a net full of pretty big fish; they're actually beautiful, reminding you of salmon, all pink and speckled. 

"Hi," you say, you're voice a little higher than usual, and you notice his lips are curled a bit, like he almost wants to smile. His narrowed eyes are darting between your face and the hood of your cloak, draped over your head. "Oh," you shift a little on the stool, remembering you're wearing his clothes. "I'm sorry, I was cold, and-"

"A rather fetching look, mortal. You look like a peasant," there's that tone you're already getting used to, like he is being severely inconvenienced, but you decide he definitely looks slightly amused, only barely trying to hide it. 

"Yeah, good morning. Thanks for breakfast," you say, eyeing the net. He walks around you to put the fish in the sink, and you swivel yourself to watch him. "Where do you get the rest of your food?"

He doesn't turn to face you; he's running water over the net, rinsing each fish through the netting. "If it is relatively nearby, I can summon it with seiðr."

With what? "Why don't you do that with fish, then?" 

He snorts, and you kind of grin to yourself; maybe your wits are returning. "Summoning anything not only requires magical energy, but it is traceable by others with the same gift. I, infrequently as I can manage, obtain ingredients and prepare it here to avoid detection. As for fishing," he shuts the water off, reaching for a small hand towel on a rack at his waist, "I rather enjoy most hunting." 

"So, you, like, baked this bread?" You conjure up the image of Loki in an apron, kneading dough, and you try not to smirk. You press your lips together.

He looks like he's getting even more annoyed, and you really hope he can't read minds. "Not with my hands," he says slowly, as if he has to enunciate it for you to comprehend him. His look of disdain says more than his words do, and you purse your lips to avoid rolling your eyes. "Again, I am free to use magic here; the protection surrounding this area is strong, and the only people who may have ever been able to detect it are dead."

Your face drops, and you ask, "Who were they?"

"Never mind, mortal. Enough questions. I'm off to bathe," and as he slaps the dish rag against the sink, he strides past the table without a glance in your direction.

 

You don't see him for the rest of the day. 

 

You decide to bring the book up to your room; the cabin is well-lit and lovely, but you don't feel comfortable being left to your own devices alone yet. Filling up your goblet with more water, wishing you had some tea, you trudge back up the stairs as quietly as you can.

When you pull the thick curtains back to the wall and into the hook, you let out a tiny gasp of delight when you see the window seat. A very thick, plush cushion of black velvet is practically begging you to sit there, so you grab the smaller blanket Loki brought you upstairs with last night, and tuck in with Shakespeare. 

This must be the west wing, you decide; this is where the sun is beginning to set. Although, who knows? You're on a foreign planet; everything could be in reverse, but you got the north wing part right. You close the book against your finger to mark your place, and let your forehead rest against the cool glass. It is a beautiful planet at least. The trees all resemble giant hemlocks, and you can see mountains in the distance. The setting sun turns the sky a blushing pink. You jump so hard, you hit the back of your head against the window frame when a very aggressive knock sounds on your door. 

You almost take a spill, trying to leap from the window tangled up in your blanket. Quickly, you open the door to see Loki.

"Did you fall again, mortal?"

"Um, no. I was just in the window seat."

His lips curl again. "Something told me you would enjoy that. Come," he says, turning towards the hall. "It is time to eat."

Smoked fish, more cheese and greens of some sort are piled in a handful on your plate, placed on the same tray from last night in front of the couch. Plopping down, you asked, "Where's your plate?" 

"I have already eaten, girl." He's back in the chair with a book, and he looks like he doesn't want you to talk. You try the fish; like the soup, it's very good. Wiping your hands on the little cloth napkin on the tray, you try the greens.

"How long have you been here?" You vow to yourself you'll try to learn as much as you can before the hypnotic fire knocks you out again, although you're not quite as tired as you were last night. Not yet.

Not looking up from his book, he replies, "Perhaps a few months before I found you."

"Months? Alone?"

"Yes, alone. Did I not explain my situation already?" 

"Actually, not really. You just told me the world thinks you're dead. Why does it matter, if half of everyone else is dead, too?" You don't know where your boldness is coming from, but you don't want to stop now.

"Careful, mortal," he growls, finally looking at you. "I believe I have already impressed upon you the importance of respect."

"Okay, I'm sorry," you hold up your hands, backing against the sofa a little, "but before you found me, I was completely alone when this Snap happened. All I know is what you've told me, which has been pretty vague. Maybe I can start to process some of this if I know what the hell is going on, to keep myself from losing my mind? What would you do in my situation?" Whoa, hopefully he doesn't turn my jaw into dust with his hand after that, you think.

He shuts his book, uncrossing his leg to adjust himself so he's facing you better. "Alright, girl. Tell me; what do you know of earth's precious Avengers? Their recent missions?"

Um, that they stopped you? is what you want to say. But it looks like you won't have to; it seems like Loki can read minds. 

"Thanos is a being from another realm, and was behind my failed attempt at taking over Midgard. He was on the hunt for very powerful gemstones, his mission to create perfect balance throughout the universe," he speaks like he's mocking this Thanos person, and you don't blame him for it; it seems like he's the one you can thank for the Snap.

"And I assume his hunt was a success," you say darkly, raising your eyebrows. "Balance by having, like, the perfect amount of every living thing?"

"Very clever, mortal." 

"So, why do you have to pretend to be dead?"

Loki huffs, clearly growing irritated. This guys has a short temper, you decide. "Considering we may be here for a while, child, you will most likely learn in time; it would take a great deal of patience to explain it to you tonight, patience I do not possess. For now, just try to understand that one skilled in the art of war and attack does not strike until the moment is right; not until his opponent is at his most vulnerable."

"Fair enough," you manage to squeak, tearing off a piece of bread from your plate. "I'm sorry," you decide to tell him, anxiety blooming in your chest. "This has just been a lot to process."

"Yes," he snaps, throwing himself back against the chair, cracking the book open, "quite a lot of information, for a rather limited, mortal mind."

"I just lost my entire life, my entire world!" you cry, tossing the bread back on the plate. Hot tears burning your eyes, you add, "Do you have any idea how I feel right now? Can you just try to imagine?"

He snaps the book shut, tossing it with a loud thump onto the coffee table, rattling the tray and it's contents. "You have no idea what I have lost to this war, you insolent little beast." He is definitely angry now, and the anxiety is consuming you, your breath quickening. 

"How am I supposed to know? You barely talk to me!" Great, you're definitely crying now. 

"I owe you no explanations, I saved your useless life," he spits through gritted teeth.

"Maybe you shouldn't have." The words come out cracked, and you rise from the couch, deciding you've lost your appetite. 

As you stalk past him, you feel his tight, icy grip on your wrist. "Sit," he commands softly but sharp. "Now."

You turn back towards the sofa, beginning to yank your wrist from his grip, when he roughly pulls you into his lap. 

Okay, now you're a little frightened. He's holding your wrist tightly against his chest, his other hand wrapped around your waist. His nose is pressed against your hair, and you feel your heart leap into your throat when he practically growls into your ear. "You are no prisoner here, girl," he whispers, his voice so low, you might not make out the words if your heart was pounding any louder, "but you will obey me if you stay. Do you understand?"

"Yes," you whisper back, and you suck in a trembling breath when he lets go of your wrist and wipes beneath your eye with his thumb. 

After what feels like a very long time, he pats your thigh with his palm and says briskly, "Eat, and be silent."

On unsteady legs, you take yourself back to the sofa and pick up your plate, bringing it onto your lap as you edge back into the cushions. He retrieves his book, and resumes reading without looking at you. The fire is blazing again, and you're grateful the crackles and sparks are loud enough to fill the deafening quiet.

After maybe an hour of just sitting there, your dinner finished, you say in a hoarse voice, "I think I am going to bed. Thank you for dinner."

He hums in response, a low, almost sultry sound from his throat. Your cheeks burn, remembering his breath against your ear, and you give him a small smile as you rise from the sofa. His eyes follow you as you head for the stairs. 

 

You're already undressed and in and out of sleep when you hear the double doors at the other end of the bridge shut. When you think you did sleep, you dreamt of the mountain summit, space crafts fighting in the distance above you in the blackened sky. Realizing you are indeed awake, you're not really thinking clearly when you push the blankets away and leap from the bed.

 

"Loki?"

There's a pause after you knock on the double doors, and you're about to turn around, mortified with yourself, when you hear Loki shout, "Come in, mortal."

The room is enormous, of course, but you can barely see in the dark, the fire on the left side of the room dying down by now. The bed is far against the other side, and you can make out Loki sitting up. As you move closer, you kind of make out his expression; he looks weary. He doesn't look at you, he only draws the blankets up so you can climb in next to him.

You hadn't really expected this outcome, you realize as you hesistantly crawl in, keeping some distance, somehow not caring that you're only in underwear and a tee shirt. You only lie there for a moment, stiff and tense, before he drags you against him into the crook of his arm. You let your hand fall against his bare chest, and are a bit relieved when you feel he's at least wearing pants. Neither of you speak a word as his fingers comb through your hair, and you're not sure who falls asleep first.


"Time to rise, girl," you wake to Loki shaking your shoulder, but you don't miss it when he gives it a little squeeze before withdrawing. 

You sit up, feeling little shy as he struts around shirtless. Okay, yes, he is good-looking, we've established that, you think.

"I've found some gowns that belonged to the servants. They ought to fit you well enough," he nods towards a linen dress draped over a chair like the one downstairs by the fireplace. You take in this room a bit; the ceilings are almost as high as the one downstairs, skylights meeting at the pitch. It's decorated and designed the same as the rest of the cabin, but it's much bigger than your room, and the bed frame is coated in the same gold as the woodwork. "There are boots that might fit as well; I can use my seiðr to modify them a bit if they do not."

"Thank you," you say, wishing you had put your shorts back on before your pathetic decision to obtain comfort last night. 

Definitely a mind-reader, you think as a smirking Loki tosses the dress in your lap. You try not to watch him dress, languidly pulling the thin, flowy shirt over his head.

The dress is a mossy green color, and it feels like linen. Keeping the blanket as high on your chest as you can manage, you pull the shirt you're wearing off, quickly replacing it with the gown. Looking down, you notice you don't fill it in as well as you would have a couple of weeks ago; it's not too much, but it looks as if you've slimmed down a bit. Near-starvation and a week of walking for miles will do that, you guess.

When you slip out of bed, your cheeks burn when Loki chuckles a little, looking at you up and down. "Little mortal," he says, and he flicks his hand lazily. With a little flash of green light, you look down and see the dress is no longer spilling onto the ground, but a little above your ankles. 

"Cool," you say. "How long since a servant has been here? This is pretty old-fashioned."

"Not on Asgard, it isn't," he says tersely, pulling a leather vest on. "It has not been long at all since I last came here for leisure and brought my servants with me."

"Did they sleep where I do?"

"Where is that, in my bed?" he asks slyly, narrowing his eyes that are met with his thin smile. Your cheeks are on fire now, and he continues, "Of course my servants did not occupy those rooms; those are for guests. The servants quarters are beneath the kitchen."

"Are they back on Asgard?"

He stiffens for a moment, focusing on a button on his leather vest. Finally, he says, "No. Asgard has been destroyed, in Ragnarök."

"Oh." So his world is gone, too. Maybe even in more of a dramatic way than earth. That is definitely a subject you want to bring up later, maybe when he's in a good mood. Wanting to change the subject now, you ask, "Who did you bring as guests?"

He let's out a dramatic sigh, rifling through a pocket of a coat. "My brother; we would hunt here. Politicians the king wanted me to sway one way or another. Lovers."

Lovers? "Wouldn't...lovers just sleep in your bed?"

"They would not sleep here, no. I do not usually share my bed." His lips are pursed, not looking at you still.

This must be a particularly unusual circumstance, you realize, and the thought tugs at your heart a bit. Maybe he's a bit lonely.

"Enough drabble," he says loudly, and you're convinced he is most definitely hearing your thoughts. "Today, I teach you to fish."

Oh, you think. Great.

 

 

Chapter Text

After a simple and awkward breakfast, Loki indeed has to modify the boots.

"Mortals are rather small, I do not understand why you are so bashful about it," he says, a hint of humor behind his voice. You felt very weird asking him to alter them for you, like a kid asking a grown up to tie their shoes for them. He's bent on one knee in front of you, pushing his thumb against your toes. "Will that do? If they are too large, you will surely trip again, and I am in no mood-"

"Yeah, yeah, I know. You don't want me to die," not caring that your tone is going to make him mad.

"And why is that, troublesome little wretch?" he asks, rising angrily to his feet and gripping your jaw tightly. You flinch at first, but quickly manage a glaring stare back at him.

"Because it's inconvenient," you say in a bored droll.

"Right you are," he says, releasing you and going over into the kitchen to get his net out of the sink. 

The front door, you notice, is also made out of gold, or at least coated in it. 

"I don't think I've seen so much gold in my entire life," you say breathlessly, craning your neck to look at the ceiling, as well.

"That is not gold," he says, and he turns the knob to the front door, ushering you outside. "This is all a species of hardwood trees native to Asgard."

"Oh, wow. It's beautiful." 

"My mother had several thousand acres of them near the palace. A rather diverse forest, but was mostly made up of these gullwood trees. They were her favorite." His back is turned to you, and he's pulling out long, wooden poles standing within a slim barrel by the front door. You seem to be on a porch, which you decide is kind of cute. Maybe even a villain needs a nice porch.

"That's sweet," you say. It's pretty endearing hearing him talk about his mom; it's probably the most relaxed he's sounded during conversation so far. 

"Enough talking, mortal. Just be silent and listen," and your eyes widen as he hands you a spear. "Walk with it pointing downward, like this, and follow me," and you do, down the steps of the porch and into the trees.

Grief and shock aside, this is most likely the strangest thing you've ever done. Here you are, following a God-prince-villian...man, through giant woods, holding a spear, wearing some Jane Austen-era servant dress and a big, wool cloak like you're headed for Mordor. A little spurting giggle escapes you, and Loki cocks his head over his shoulder, a look of haughtiness etched over his face. 

"Does being useful amuse you, mortal?" 

"No, but don't you think I look kind of silly like this?" You stop and pose with your spear, hoping you look more like Link from Zelda than an Ewok.

The haughtiness crumbles quickly into almost a look of pity, like he feels sorry for how stupid you are. Slumping your shoulders a bit, he slowly turns, heading down towards the river you start to hear, and you follow.

"I was just trying to be funny," you mumble, making sure to be careful of your footing. The roots of these massive trees are the size of the actual trees you're used to back home, and you don't want to hit your head again. Or impale yourself with your new weapon.

"Yes, well, stop trying quite so hard," he suggests, "now be silent." You rather prefer this non-threatening banter over awkward silence, but as you approach the river bank, you realize he most likely doesn't want you to scare off your potential dinner.

"Do you hunt mammals with these, too?" you ask quietly, remembering the meat in your soup as your twirl the pole in your hands, running a finger lightly over the head of the spearhead.

"Yes, mortal," he says impatiently, and he's taking off his boots.

"Why not just use a gun?"

He quietly barks out a laugh. "A Midgardian firearm? Do I look like a barbarian?"

"No," you say meekly. Why does this guy make every word you say sound like the most asinine thing ever spoken out loud? "I just mean, isn't that more efficient?"

"A lecture on efficiency, from a mortal," he scoffs, cuffing up his pants. "Firearms take away the sport from the hunt. Now, if you would please shut up and remove your boots, we can begin."

Yeah, just like it's probably the most efficient way to not die of loneliness by cuddling every night, you think as you sit on the wet grass. He doesn't say anything else, but out of the corner of your eye, you swear you see him turn the slightest shade of pink in his usually-pale cheeks. 


"No, mortal, like this," he tosses his spear into a patch of grass on the bank, and comes up to your side, grabbing your arm. "Not like that, like this," he's getting irritated at the way you're holding your spear; he is trying to help you get your posture right. You've made a few attempts at stabbing at the quick fish that swim by, and they're large enough that you should have snagged at least one, but at each attempt, the pole flaps into the water, like it's nothing more than a useless stick. The water is very cold, and moving fast, which doesn't help. It only reaches Loki's ankle from where you're standing, but it's almost at your knees.

"My leverage isn't as good as yours, I'm shorter than you!" You're just as irritated, it's not like you're not trying, and it hasn't been easy with him watching you; he is intimidating, and still very good-looking. Watching him has been a little distracting, if you're being honest. 

"Size has nothing to do with skill, girl." He let's go, and you both look at each other, like you're waiting for the other to say something. You look over at his net, full of fish. The pail he brought for you is empty. "This is why mortals cannot be ruled properly," he spat, climbing up the bank and uncuffing his pants, "it is not because you are intelligent, but rather because you do not listen."

"I tried!" you cry, and a shiver travels within you. You had bunched up your dress into a knot right above your knees, and now that you're not flinging spears around, you start to feel cold. "Are you done?" you ask him as he pulls his boots back on.

"Yes," he says, making dramatic, harsh movements as he laces his boots, "even if this had been going successfully, you have most likely scared them all away with your shrieking."

You're over this. You most definitely had tried your best, and it hurts that he's acting like you just stood there, watching him do all the work. 

You're trying to stop yourself from crying, your face screwing up in fury as you trudge your way back to the bank. Drying off your feet with the servant stockings Loki gave you, you hastily pull them to your knees before mirroring his task of getting your boots on. You're grateful you brought the cloak; you pull your hood over your head.

Standing in a huff, you say, your voice slightly more shrill than you would prefer it to be, "Can I help?"

"What do you mean?" he looks confused as he ties up the net. You reach for the pail and your spear.

"Do you need help bringing anything back?" you spit out, not paying mind to your very disrespectful tone.

"No, mortal," his hands are busy, but his look of confusion turns to concern.

"Good. I am going back," you say, turning back so sharply that your hair whips.

You hear him muttering, something about "norns," and you hate yourself for intentionally slowing your pace when you hear him behind you.

 

Back at the cabin, you pull your boots off in a hurry after putting your spear back in the barrel. Loki has caught up to you by then, and his lips are pursed as he sets the net on the porch and begins to clean off his weapon.

"I want to go back to earth," you announce, crossing your arms over your chest, sitting in front of him with your legs dangling off the porch.

"Fine, off you go," he says curtly, not taking his eyes off his work. 

You wait, staring at him incredulously. "Will you help me? Then you won't have to deal with my stupid mortality?"

"I cannot help you get back, mortal. The portal you fell through was not permanent. Perhaps you can throw yourself to the mercy of who is left of the Light Elves, but I believe they are rather convinced your kind is partially responsible for this little extinction-"

"Our fault?" you cry, growing hysterical again. "Some crazy alien that you apparently work for-"

In a movement so quick, you're not quite sure how it was physically possible, Loki has you pinned to the floor of the porch, one hand on your throat, the other besides your head. He's leaning over you, still standing on the ground by the steps. 

"You have no idea what you speak of, little girl," he says quietly through venom, "I know this must be terrifying for you, but I will not tell you again. Either be patient and respectful, or leave, now."

"How am I supposed to live like this?" you whisper, not bothering to hold back tears. 

"This is surviving, mortal. And rather comfortably, at that," he whispers back, letting go of your throat and leaning back a bit. "You must be strong," he adds tersely after a moment, pursing his lips and looking back out into the forest. 

You gingerly sit back up, biting your lip as you let out a long breath through your nose. "I'm trying, okay?"

"I know," he says quietly, turning his neck to look at you. It's not an apology, but you'll take what you can get. "Take a bath, girl. This was, perhaps, too much exertion after wounding yourself like you did. I will call you for food later."

You nod slowly, and rise to your feet to head back to your rooms. 


You're not quite sure if being alone with your thoughts is for the best or for the worst at the moment. 

It's very clear that Loki maybe wants to be nice to you, or to somehow make this unplanned...alliance work, but he doesn't seem like much of a people person. And as much as you would kill for any shred of information or news from back home, Loki is right; abandoning this rather cushy situation is probably a terrible idea. And, you realize, isn't his brother an Avenger? If anyone can put a stop to this getting worse, or save you both, it would be them.

Right?

You'll just have to ride this out. You could be starved to death back on that highway, but instead, you're in a marble bathtub, being fed, clothed and protected by someone you're assuming is pretty powerful. It could be a lot worse.


 

The evening is the same as the previous two; dinner by the fire as Loki reads, and absolutely no dialogue besides polite mutterings before declaring yourself tired enough to go to bed. No discussion about this Thanos guy, of earth, of this Elf planet you're on, or your unspoken sleeping arrangements.

He only hums in response when you begin to walk past him, and you're heart almost stops beating entirely when he closes his book, tucks it into the arm of his chair and rises to follow you. 

You stiffen a bit, totally unsure of what he's doing, but decide to say nothing. When you both reach the top of the stairs, you turn towards him. "Well, goodnight," you say, giving him an awkward halfhearted smile.

"Come," he says, quietly but very firmly, already positioned to walk towards his room.

"What do you mean?" you ask, furrowing your brow. Maybe some scared and lonely part of yourself was hoping this would happen again, but you weren't expecting him to initiate it. 

"I meant come with me, mortal, or would you rather waste time lying awake before pestering me in an hour?" 

"Or you could just ask me," you suggest, crossing your arms over your chest. 

"No," he says smugly, narrowing his eyes and turning back towards his door. 

"Do you want me to come with you?" you call out, derailed yet again by his moodiness.

Heaving a heavy sigh, he turns around to face you. "If I did not, I would not have asked."

Blushing furiously, you avert your eyes and hurry a bit to catch up to him down the long bridge.

 

You blush even deeper when he starts to undress, starting with the leather vest.

"I'm afraid there was no sleepwear left by the servants," he says, taking off the black shirt. 

"It's okay, I can just sleep in this," you tug on the dress; it's kind of stiff fabric, and a little muddy from the river, but what choice do you have?

"Nonsense, that rag won't touch my bed," he turns his back and stalks towards a large bureau, pulling open the door, "if you insist on guarding your simple, mortal form, then wear this," plucking a shirt similar to his own and tossing it to you, you hold it up to your chest; at least it will come a ways down your thighs.

"Thanks," you say, looking around for a place to change. "Um, where is your bathroom?"

"This formality is completely unnecessary; I have seen perhaps thousands of naked women. What are you so desperate to hide?" He's already in the bed, and your pulse quickens when you notice, half of his face silhouetted by the light of the fire, that he's got a rather playful smile on his face.

"Nothing," you mumble, turning your back to him. Awkwardly, you slip out of your sleeves and pull his shirt over your head while you shimmy out of the dress. You kind of hesitate; the strangeness of this situation is palpable. Your heart is beating so fast, you feel lightheaded, so you crawl into his bed before you pass out; that is the last thing you need right now.

He's lying on his back, so you keep your distance, like you did the first night you came in here. You're not sure how long you've been studying his face when he turns towards you, his head propped up on one hand. 

Your heart is in your throat now as you try to decipher what he's thinking; his face is unreadable, and you can't really grasp what is happening. You can't tell if what you're feeling is desire, or just immense loneliness; the despair that's crept into your heart since the night on the mountain with your friend. Either way, you have a very strong urge to kiss him, or at least touch him. And based on the way he's looking at you, you think he might want you to.

You reach out to touch his face before you can think about it any more; you cup the side of his jaw with your hand, which feels very small against him.

"What are you doing?" he asks, pulling back just a fraction of an inch. He doesn't look angry, at least. 

"I'm sorry, I don't know," you answer in a small voice, but as you start to withdraw your hand, he grabs it with his own. You try to swallow and barely succeed, and you notice he's holding his fingers against your pulse on your wrist.

"What do you want, little mortal," he whispers, and his eyes soften. You never noticed just how green they are before now.

"I don't know, I was being stupid-"

"Enough," he cuts you off, and pulls you against him, rolling onto his back. 

After that, you think you'll never fall asleep.

But only after a few moments of feeling his heart beat through his chest, beating just as fast as yours, you do.

 

 

Chapter Text

When you wake up, your arms are wrapped around his hips, your head almost in his lap; he's sitting up against his headboard, reading. When you start to stir, kind of embarrassed by your proximity and position, he gives you a light pat on your back.

"Good morning, mortal," he says, stifling a yawn.

"Hi," you reply in a raspy voice, slowly edging off of his lap. "Have you been awake long?"

"No. Maybe half of an hour, perhaps. I did not want to wake you," you hear a page turn.

"Thanks," well, that's a start. Lying back on your pillow, you look up into the skylight; the sky looks cloudless. But also kind of pink.

"The sky is pink. Is it going to rain, do you think?"

Loki chuckles softly. "The atmosphere on Alfheim creates a pink most days, especially when it is clear. If it were going to rain, it would be much more orange."

"That's really neat. I guess it's kind of...earth-centric to assume it would be just like home," you muse quietly, and you notice a leaf fall on the glass. "Is it almost autumn here?"

"That is one similarity your earth shares with this planet. It will indeed be autumn very soon. That is why I have been hunting so frequently, and that is why I smoke the meat."

You hum in response. You could get used to this; asking questions and having normal conversations without it ending with you nearly in tears. How far can you take this?

"Does your brother know you're alive?"

He sighs, and you stiffen, but his tone is even enough when he responds, "No. He watched me die. Or rather, he thinks he did."

"Jesus," you say. "That's so sad. How does that even work?"

He scoffs. "It was not the first time, mortal. I can create illusions with seiðr. Besides, my brother has a tendency to be rather rash; he, more than anyone, must believe me dead."

"What is your plan?" you ask in a hushed whisper.

"Do you not see the advantage to sneaking up on an opponent?"

"Of course I do."

"Well, there you have it. Thor watched Thanos kill me."

Oh. Okay, so this guy definitely has something up his sleeve. It's still very vague, but somehow, this little detail gives you a bit more faith in him. "I see," you say.

"Patience is a virtue; isn't that what your kind says? You must trust me."

You roll onto your side, facing him. You'd been in relationships before, but even those, with people you had chosen to be with, and them you, didn't feel as...intimate as this. When a slim crack of sunlight catches against part of the wood ceiling, the gullwood, you decide to keep him talking.

"Did your mom die in the Snap?" He spoke of her in the past-tense, and you had been meaning to ask more about her.

"No," he says, quicker than you were expecting.

"Oh. Where is she?"

"She is dead, mortal." Time's up; this isn't going any further, and your stomach twists with guilt.

"I'm sorry, I just-"

"Enough, girl."

When he gets up and shuts himself in his bathroom, you bite your lip, wishing you had just kept your mouth shut.


 

And so, you develop a routine.

 

In the mornings, you both eat breakfast in silence. You accompany him while he fishes, which is almost every day - he stopped trying to teach you on the third attempt - after that you just bring books and watch from a low-hanging branch on the bank and try to ask questions. He refuses to take you on true hunts, but he leaves so early, you hardly notice he's gone. You dine and read by the fire, and you sleep in his bed; you wordlessly follow each other up the stairs each night, and only with quick glances and curt nods do you both agree to it. In fact, you only return to the guest chambers to bathe; that is most definitely a habit you both keep in solitude. And although you indulge nightly in closeness, there haven't been further touching beyond an arm wrapped around his middle or his on your back; that's not to say you haven't thought about it.

Your third week here, you're back on the river with him. He insists on going, despite the fact that the ground was covered in frost that morning. Something tells you it might be your last trip for a while.

"Aren't you cold?" you ask for maybe the sixth time.

"Will you stop badgering me, mortal? Does the possibility of angering me while I've got a weapon not unsettle you?" You're starting to figure out when he's only pretending to seem annoyed; you can tell by his relaxed body language, his slow, steady pace in the river, watching closely for movement below the water, that he's not actually angry.

"Yeah, okay. Go ahead and stab me," you mutter, returning to your book. When you peer over the top of it, he's smirking. A little bit.

After another quarter of an hour, you hear him emerge from the water. Shirtless and wet, of course.

You can definitely say this situation has taught you a lot of self control. Every single day, an argument bounces itself around in your head; make a move! one side says. This is just situational, the other reminds. Do you want to develop feelings, emotional or physical, for someone who is reciprocating because you're the only one there?

Besides, it is situational. A handsome distraction from the heavy pain you carry in your heart every day. You're grateful for the books written in English Loki happens to have, and for the trips to the river; any idle time leaves you with the grief of everything you'd lost.

You know summer really is ending when you look at Loki's pale form; the almost-neon green moss and leaves dominating these forests was such a stark contrast to see against him. Now, everything was fading to a dull yellow.

"I believe we must venture towards the city before the snow arrives," he announces, tying up his net and flinging his shirt over his shoulder. "Best to prepare with as much food storage as we can manage."

You perk up at this, closing your book and rising up from the crotch of the tree branch. "I get to come with you?"

"Yes, mortal," he says, and he actually smiles at you. Okay, maybe it's still a sneer, but close enough.

"When are you thinking?" you ask brightly.

"In a few days, when the moon is full." You almost fall out of the tree as you climb down from it when he says your actual name, "if you are to come, you must do as I say. Do I make myself clear?" he grips your chin with his fingers and thumb, looking very stern.

You nod fiercely, hoping your eyes are saying what your mouth isn't.

"Good," he says, searching your face. You know he's trying to look intimidating, but you part your lips when you notice he's looking at them, his eyes darting towards your mouth every few seconds. When his hand slides across your jaw, holding your cheek, you try to focus on his hair falling onto his bare shoulders. Why is he looking at you like this?

These are the moments when your mind is pushing you to do something, but the doubt is stronger; things are very slowly becoming relatively peaceful. That isn't worth sacrificing for a temporary feel-good distraction.

Your hand still reaches up for his anyways, and you're trying to keep your breathing steady.

And, of course, that breaks his spell. He looks away from the gaze you're sharing and gives your hand a little squeeze before dropping it. Retrieving his spear from the tree it's leaning against, he shoulders past you towards the path.

"Come, mortal. It's almost dusk."

Letting out a trembling breath, you follow him.


 

This time, you serve dinner. Sure, Loki can just summon it, but you've been trying to seem more useful. You kind of get an idea of the portions he prefers, and you creep around the kitchen looking for the wine he usually drinks. He looks very smug, his fingers steepled in front of his lips, when you carry the tray out to the coffee table.

"The mortal learns her place," he teases, reaching first for the goblet of wine. "Isn't this a treat?"

"I just want to contribute," you say, smiling with your eyes closed.

"Don't you? Your little Midgardian habits are rather an amusing contribution, whether you realize it or not," he says, peering from over the rim of his cup.

"Like what?" You ask, piling some of the roasted boar you know he likes onto your slice of bread.

"The songs you hum-"

"When do I hum?"

He snorts, reaching for his plate. "Baths are essentially echochambers," he says.

Your cheeks burn; this guy definitely has a tendency to make that happen almost daily.

"What about the songs?" you ask, growing more shy by the second.

"They're just very strange," he says, looking at you like you're stark mad not to agree. "Personally, I prefer Midgard's Baroque period, but I suppose you are rather young for that."

You keep forgetting he's thousands of years old, and suddenly you're reminded of 'Interview with the Vampire'. "Doesn't Asgard have music?"

"Of course," he says, and you try not to pay too much attention to his fingers as they work his fork and knife. "Midgard simply amuses me; I cannot articulate it."

You've never heard Loki talk this freely for this long about something as normal as music. "Have you ever seen a movie?"

"A film?" he corrects you, raising his eyebrows. "Yes. In fact, I saw one of the very first your kind produced. In your 20th century, earlier on."

"Why? I thought you hated earth."

"I do not hate it. Thor and I have spent quite a lot of time there; I told you, it's amusing. So simple, yet so complex," he muses, popping a small bite of bread into his mouth.

"Do you think I'm simple?" you asked suddenly. You kept your tone playful, but you remember him calling you that more than once since you arrived.

His plate already empty, he gently drops it back onto the tray and plucks his goblet from the table again, sitting back further into his chair. Languidly, he crosses one of his legs, and cocks his head, considering you.

He narrows his eyes and smiles; that vulpine grin that makes you nervous. Nervous, maybe, but not afraid. Your breath hitches in your throat when he parts his lips with his tongue, and his eyes begin to scan you all over.

"What?"

He drains his glass."You want a compliment from me."

You weren't expecting that. Your eyes widen, and you spurt out a laugh, "No I don't," you bark out, pulling back into the sofa. "I would never anticipate that. Not from you," you add, raising your eyebrows and reaching for your own cup, mostly to hide your face behind as you take a sip.

"And why is that, mortal?"

You raise a finger, and now is your chance to sneer. "There's that word. 'Mortal'. That's why," you set you cup down lean back into the cushions, crossing your arms. "I'm just a stupid mortal."

He purses his lips, idly swirling his empty cup in his hand.

Feeling panicked by the tension building, you blurt out, "Is there coffee on Alfheim? Can we get some when we go out for supplies?"

"Aren't we growing spoiled?" Loki says, with an air of mock-outrage, rest his cup back on the tray. "There is certainly tea, would that suffice for my little mortal?"

There's that good old familiar flame in your cheek, and the deeper it burns, the wider his smile gets.

"Yes," you say, readjusting yourself a bit. "Thank you, Loki."

With a wave of his hand, your tray vanishes, and you smile. "That will never get old," a hint of delight apparent in your tone.

"See? Simple," he says, crinkling his nose as he smiles back.


 You're already in his bed, watching him read a folded piece of parchment in front of the fire.

"What's that?"

After a moment, he begins to fold it before stuffing it in the breast pocket of his jacket draped over a chair. "A map of Alfheim. I am deciding on the best path towards the city." You avert your eyes when he takes his shirt off.

"Are we going a way you normally don't go?"

"Yes," he says, climbing into the bed. "The route I take is rather dangerous."

"Oh." So, he wants to keep you safe, maybe? Or does he just think you can't handle it?

Normally, Loki would just pull you against him and tell you to sleep, or say nothing at all. So you're super aware of him eyeing you intently, still sitting up beneath the blankets.

"What's wrong?"

"Come here," he says in a low voice that makes your pulse quicken.

You sit up hesitantly, his shirt hanging loosely off of you as you edge a little closer to him.

"You're not simple," he whispers, and when you meet his eyes, he looks more forlorn than you've ever seen him.

You don't know what to say, or, more importantly, what to do. After a moment, a question that has been burning inside of you finally escapes. "How long do you think we'll be here like this?"

His eyes narrow slightly, and he inhales. "I do not know. It could be years."

You try to hide it, but your heart gives a lurch at this answer. "I'm glad I'm not alone," you say.

"I know," he replies, and he gently eases himself back onto a pillow. "Please," he whispers, beckoning you to join him.

You nestle into the crook of his arm, and the turmoil you feel is suffocating, even with his cool breath against your hair.


You're not sure how long you lay against him before you decide to get up, gingerly slipping from beneath his arm as his breath finally steadies. He seems to be asleep; he doesn't even stir, and you tiptoe to the door.

You can't stand the tension anymore; who could stand his voice, his eyes, and then cuddle up like that with out some sort of...relief? Maybe all of this is beginning to get to you, sure, but you don't think you can lie next to him much longer without doing something you'll  probably just regret. It doesn't help that he's obviously not super in touch with his emotions. You know he's just biding his time, and you're just sort of along for the ride.

You decide to go down to the fire; maybe the warmth will help you feel sleepier. As you pull the blanket over you, lying down on the sofa, you wish you had magic like Loki; to just be able to look at the fire to make it roar again. It doesn't matter, though. You've got your own fire to worry about.

Exhaling slowly, you bring your hand under the blanket and trail down to your legs, where you slip beneath your underwear. Pressing against yourself, you stifle a little moan as you experience the first kind of physical distraction you've indulged in in maybe more than a month. You didn't realize how badly you needed this, and you let your free handle travel to your chest. You lose yourself for a while, digging your heels into the sofa, you're so close. 

So when you hear footsteps landing on the bottom step, you practically flail off the sofa in your sea of blankets, landing on the floor.

"What are you doing?" he asks quietly, but he looks bemused as you stand up.

"You scared me," you say in an unnaturally-high voice. "I couldn't sleep."

His eyes narrow into slits, and he looks down at your hand. There is no way he knows, you think, completely mortified. He slowly starts to walk towards you, and you feel yourself back down onto the sofa, not breaking eye contact. By the time he lowers himself to his knees, sitting right in front of you, you think your heart might drum itself right out of your chest.

He's close enough to touch, you think, and in your moment of total weakness, you part your legs, and he understands right away; he edges between them.

You let out a gasp when he grips the back of your hair, and you tilt your neck, exposing the nape of it for him. You practically sob when his other hand lands on your inner thigh, digging his thumb into you. He's inches away from knowing for sure what you had come down here to do.

You're both breathing heavily, and he looks like he's ready to devour you; he brings his lips closer, and as you close your eyes, waiting for him to kiss you, you feel his voice vibrating against your ear. 

"Come back to my bed."

You're embarrassed when you hear yourself whine as he releases you, and it takes you a moment to follow him. 

Without the feeling of him touching you, moments after you had gotten yourself so close, you start to feel a little nervous. 

What have you gotten yourself into?

 

Chapter Text

When he stands in his doorway, waiting for you to walk past him through the threshold, you find it hard to meet his eyes. Biting your lip, you don't stop walking until you're standing at the foot of his bed, and you slowly turn to face him.

As he approaches, you walk back until you feel the bedframe against your legs; his face is almost unreadable except for his slightly furrowed brows. 

"Up," he whispers, his voice so low it sounds like gravel in the back of his throat, and you hoist yourself onto the bed. He's crawling towards you, so you lie back, propped up on your elbows. He's holding himself up above you, hands on either side of your shoulder. 

Sitting back on his knees, he suddenly grabs your waist, dragging you towards him. With one hand, his thumb reaches for your breast, and you bite your lip to hold back a moan as he traces your nipple through the shirt he'd given you. He seems to be scanning every inch of you with his eyes.

When he leans over you, his lips kissing and sucking your neck, you gasp and greedily wrap your legs around his middle. When you buck your hips into his, it's very apparent that he is equally aroused. Draping your arms around him, you raise your hips again, trying to create enough friction to pick up where you left off downstairs; you cry out as you feel him hard against your center. His tongue starts to drag along your throat, and you can feel his breath hitching.

When you arch your back, digging into him with your heels, he balls the sheets around your head into his fists. "Enough, mortal," he warns, pushing himself up.

"What?" 

He grits his teeth, and one of his hands grips your hip tightly, the other still propping himself up. You take it as a sign of encouragement, so you reach for his stomach, trailing your fingertips over his lean, pale form.

He sucks in a sharp breath as your hand start to dig beneath the band of his pants when again he snaps, "Enough!"

You pull both hands back against your chest, eyes wide. He looks angry

"What am I doing wrong?" you ask, your eyes growing wider by the second.

"This cannot happen," he whispers darkly, sitting back on his heels. 

"You started this!" you cry, sitting up and edging away. As much as you hate to admit it, this hurts. "I left! I went downstairs to-"

"To do what, girl?" he says, not even the slightest hint of teasing behind his eyes. "To tempt me-"

"What I do alone doesn't concern you, Loki!"

"Is that so?" he's sneers, his eyes lit with fury. "Tell me, what exactly were you thinking of down there, while you were alone?"

How could he possibly know? Fortunately, your anger is stronger than your embarrassment. "What does it matter to you?" your hands move in front of you, gesturing to him. "Why didn't you just leave me the hell alone, if 'this' can't happen," you air quote his own words before letting your hands fall back to your sides. 

Running his fingers through his hair, he shakes his head. "It was a mistake; I cannot afford to develop any sort of weakness-"

You bark out a laugh, trying to ignore the inevitable tears coming. "What's that supposed to mean? I didn't think Prince Loki of Asgard was capable of having a weakness," he cocks his head, snarling, but you keep going. "And isn't that all I am to you anyways? Weak? I'm done with this," your voice cracks, and you swing your legs off the bed, poised to leave. Your feet don't touch the ground before his arm hooks around your middle and drags you back, pinned beneath him again, hovering there for a moment; long enough to feel him between your legs again.

"Do you have any idea what I am capable of?" he growls quietly, roughly cupping your face.

"Yes," you whisper, looking him square in the eye, and you feel like you might explode when he moans in response.

His lips finally, finally find yours; it's so soft for how quickly he's moving. He moans again into your mouth when your fingers vine their way into his hair.

"No, I do not believe you do, little one," he murmurs, gripping the sides of your face a little tighter, he takes more control of the kiss, pushing his tongue against yours.

Nothing has ever felt this good; your head swims in pleasure, you both moan and breathe into each other, and you feel like you could burst from the turnstile of emotions your heart is spinning through. Nothing has ever felt this good, and yet your heart already feels broken, you just can't pinpoint why.

"Stay," he commands softly, gently pulling away. You can still feel his lips against yours when he says it.

"Why?" You want him to say it - to say anything - and you feel your heart crack a bit when he sighs; he sounds defeated as his lips drag over your jaw.

"Do as I say, girl," his lips are against your ear now, and you don't think you can bear much more of this. Rolling off of you, he drags you against him. "Sleep, little mortal. Before you destroy me completely." 

This isn't going the way you had expected it, but with those words, it's clear something is happening. It's also clear neither of you know what. Savoring the feeling of his lips against yours, you bite back tears of frustration until your eyes finally ache enough to succumb to sleep.


You wake up to him creeping back into his room; his shirt is a little bloody, and he's out of breath.

"Were you hunting?" you ask groggily, grateful for a diversion first thing. It barely looks like the sun had begun to rise from behind his curtains.

"Yes," he pants, taking off the shirt and tossing it into a heap on the floor. "I believe we will have plenty to get us through til Spring; the bövidae I managed to kill was one of the largest I've ever seen." He struts into the bathroom, and you hear the water running; he doesn't normally keep the door open like that, so you sit bolt upright and turn to face the opposite wall. The last thing you need is something else to be embarrassed about.

"That's good," you say, hopefully loud enough for him to hear over the water filling the tub. Your neck turns to face him when you hear him lean against the door frame. "Did you sleep at all?" 

He narrows his eyes, inhaling. "Do not fuss over me, mortal. Go eat," he says, nodding towards the door. You do notice bags under his eyes, and you feel a pang of guilt; it's without a doubt your fault if he didn't sleep much. Maybe if you weren't so stubborn, we both could have slept a little better, you think. "You ought to rest today. I assume it will be a late night."

Your heart stops, thinking he's alluding to your little encounter, before you blush, remembering his proposal to take you out for supplies. "Tonight? We're going into the city?" you ask excitedly, unable to hide a smile.

"Yes, girl," he says, and his lips curl a bit. Eyeing you for a moment, he adds, "Perhaps we can manage to find you some proper sleepwear," before he shuts the golden door.

Shaking your head, you slip off the bed, half-tempted to join him. You know better; wiggling out of his shirt and replacing it with one of the servant's dresses you'd claimed your own, you head towards the kitchen. 

 

***

 

The meat and bread he's left you only makes you realize how little sleep you got; you can barely keep your eyes open once you've finished eating. 

Deciding to take a bath, you bring your book from the coffee table before ascending towards your room. Looking down the bridge to Loki's doors, it's almost like you can feel the tension coming from behind them.

The hot water only makes you sleepier, and you wash quickly, anxious to crawl into bed. Maybe you can sleep long enough to be on your A-game for tonight. You want to prove to him that you're up for this. You survived a week out on that rural highway totally alone; you can manage an excursion with him leading the way. Right? You try to envision what your night will entail; anything to distract you from thinking about last night. Whenever you start to feel embarrassed, you remember him coming downstairs, pushing himself between your legs. What did either of you have to lose? He said you could be here for years...shaking your head, you reach for your book. Between this dynamic you two have created, coupled with the loss of your entire world, it's almost too much to bear; your heart feels too heavy to carry. 

You barely make it through a few sentences in his copy of 'The Iliad' when you give up, rolling onto your side. Catching a glimpse out of the window, you note that Loki's timing was impeccable; little snowflakes swirled through the light breeze. The leaves were starting to turn, and you were somehow sure it wasn't here to stay, but it was coming. 

You both needed to be ready. Signing in resignation, you let your heavy eyes fall shut, welcoming the sleep you'd lost to Loki's touch.


This time when he gently shakes you awake, he uses your name. "We must prepare to leave," he whispers. You lean into his hand when he brushes the hair back from your temple.

"Have I been asleep all day?" 

"Nearly," you feel his weight leave the bed, and you stretch beneath the blankets before pushing yourself up. 

"Did you get any sleep?" you ask, rubbing your eyes.

"I told you not to fuss," he chides, but when you look at him, he does look more alert than he did this morning. "Let's eat; I will tell you the plan. I expect you to listen very closely. Isn't that right?" he asks with his head over his shoulder, holding onto the door.

"Yeah, I will. I promise, " you say firmly. 

"Good girl," he raps on the door with his knuckles gently before leaving you. 

 

***

"The woods we follow along are not settled by the elves," he says, digging through a trunk in the hall between the kitchen and the foyar. "But there are other beasts that reside within them."

"Right," you nod, parting your dry lips with your tongue. "And I won't say your name."

"Lest it be the last thing you say," he reminds you for the third time, looking at you with narrowed eyes.

"Take this," he hands you a very fluffy, brown and grey pile of furs. Stuffing the rest of the boar into your mouth, you reach for it over the table, holding it out in front of you. "It will be colder than you're used to, and I won't have you slowing us down with complaints."

You roll your eyes, wrapping it around your cloak when he grabs your chin. "Sorry," you mutter, and your hand wraps around his as his fingers dig deeper into your jaw. "Loki, that hurts-"

His grip loosens only slightly."You truly do not understand how dangerous this is, do you?" 

"Half the world is dead; everything is dangerous," you snap, swatting his hand away. To your surprise, he doesn't reprimand you for hitting him; you're sure it felt like a light tap anyway. 

Fastening buttons on his leather coat, he begins to talk quickly. "You are to stay behind me and do not speak unless I ask you a question, do you hear me, girl?"

"Yes," you nod, exchanging his grave expression as you pull the ends of the fur together. 

"That will be a hindrance," he says, pulling the furs more tightly around you. Keeping them clutched together in one hand, he flattens the palm of the other and a green light engulfs it; in another instant, he's holding a silver brooch. It looks like a coiled serpent, and you make out emeralds peppered around it. He pins the two ends together securely. "There," he adjusts the furs once more on your shoulders, pulls your hood out from beneath it and gives you a nod of approval, stepping back and looking you up and down. "Are you warm?"

"Yes, thank you," you nod, trying to mask your anxiety. "Where did you get this?" you ask, tucking your chin and running your fingers against the scales.

"I only summoned it from my rooms," he says tersely, as he wipes what could only be dust from your new coverings. Clearing his throat, he adds, "it was my mothers."

Your lips part, and looking at him, he doesn't give you the chance to speak.

"The stockings are long enough?" he cocks his head and glances down at your legs, his eyes hooded. 

"Yes, Loki," you say, with a hint of impatience. Why does he have to brush off everything as soon as it gets too personal?

His nose crinkles when he grits his teeth, clearly bristled by your attitude. You draw in a sharp breath when he firmly grasps the back of your hair. "Careful, pet," he says, "you will obey me tonight."

Let's get this show on the road, before I accidentally kiss you or slap you, you think. His lip curls, and you say, "I will. Trust me."

His eyes travel quickly between yours and your lips, and he releases you, already reaching for the door. 

He was right; you're received by a biting cold you haven't felt yet on Alfheim. He turns and offers you his hand down the porch steps.

"Ready?"


You move behind him in silence; no sound but the crunch of the freezing earth beneath your feet. The hem of the forest you're following seems to disappear; you notice you're standing on a moor of some kind, and when you catch sight of what laid beyond the rolling, dark green hills, you can't stifle a little gasp. 

"Wow," you murmur, your lips parting in wonder. The dark sky was illuminated by a golden, glowing light coming from a bubble on the skyline; you're too far to make our distinct buildings, but it's clear what you're seeing is a city.

"The heart of Alfheim," Loki says quietly. "That blue, in the center there," you try to follow his extended finger aligning with something in the distance, and your eyes catches it, "is the palace." You make out the sapphire hue directly in the middle of it all.

"It's beautiful," you say breathlessly. You feel your stomach twist with nerves when you're reminded of something; the last time you marvelled beneath such vastness, the stary sky above you, you lost everything. Maybe Loki can sense it, because when you look at him, he tries to look reassuring through his glare, and he doesn't pull away when you reach for his arm.

"We will only go as close as we need to; I need to be at a certain proximity to summon what I want."

"Why? How does it work?"

"The further I am, the more detectable the magic. The Elves are proficient with seiðr, and I am far too powerful to go unnoticed," he explains, scanning the valley beyond you.

"What's so dangerous out here?" you whisper, looking on either side of you.

"It's not what is dangerous here, mortal," he says, and your heart lurches a bit when you feel his hand take yours. "It's what's there," and you follow his gaze as he nods towards the city. 

Chapter Text

Although you're sure cutting straight through the open moor would have been a far faster route towards the city, Loki pulls you back along the edge of the woods again, not deep enough within the thick trees that you're climbing over roots, but enough to be out of sight from above. He hasn't let go of your hand, but you soon realize it's most likely not because he was feeling affectionate; once the city is out of view, you're consumed by darkness. You needle your way through the trees for another half an hour before you're in another clearing.

Loki turns to face you with a finger to his lips, and peering around his shoulder as you nod in agreement, you see a dwelling; it looks like some sort of hut, albeit a large one. As your eyes adjust beneath the now-visible moon, the white orb with it's milky shield stark against the almost-black sky, you make out several similar huts dotted within the valley. The mountains you see from your bedroom window are right ahead of you, and the city to your left. A flicker of light catches your eye, and you freeze when silhouettes appear in a window; you squint and think you make out someone holding a baby, swaying back and forth, like they're trying to soothe it to sleep.

Loki bends to you and whispers so low, you hold your breath as to not miss a word. "I sense very little available here. There are large farms with more stores a bit further; follow me back to the forest, we can make our way east-"

Pulling his neck towards you, your lips are against his ear and you feel your breath pool there as you whisper back, "We're taking from farmers? I saw someone with a baby in there, families-"

Dragging you by the wrists, he doesn't stop until you're back under the tree line. Pressing you against his chest, an arm on your back, he hisses, "What did I tell you about disobedience, mortal?"

"We can't steal from them!"

"I told you, wretch; this is survival-"

Curling your fingers in his hair loosely, pulling his ear to your lips, you swear you notice his body relax just a little. "What about the palace? Isn't this a monarchy? If we're going to take it, take it from them!" You may not be a political scientist, exactly, but you remember history classes; if you were going to steal, at least do it like Robin Hood, right?

Grabbing you by the shoulders, he pulls you away so you're face to face. He looks mutinous, but you try to maintain a sympathetic expression when you mouth to him, "Please."

Gritting his teeth, you barely hear him mutter, "Little wretch," before he takes your hand again, pulling you deeper into the forest.

Moving so quickly, you can't keep track of which direction you're moving in, you gasp a little when Loki pins you against a tree by your shoulders. "This will require a disguise."

"Won't using magic make you like, easier to spot?"

"Yes," he snarls, darting his faces towards yours a bit. "But someone has decided to be a diplomat. By giving you one, as well, it will balance out the energy. Having company will also be an added diversion."

"I wonder why that is," you mumble sardonically.

You could feel the shift; he pushes you deeper against the rough bark of the tree and his nose is pressed against yours. "Funny, you seem to rather enjoy my company, it seems."

You don't know if it's adrenaline or nerves, but you can't take the tension anymore; grabbing his face with both hands, you kiss him fiercely, and he responds. His tongue fights it's way into your mouth, and you feel his hand around your throat after you let out a faint moan, urging you to keep quiet. Sucking your bottom lip and scraping it with his teeth, he growls, "I should take you here before you lead us to our deaths, shouldn't I?"

Is he serious?  Before you have a chance to respond, you see his face twist in concentration, and feel a cool, tingly sensation down your entire body. 

"There," he says, panting a little. "That should suffice."

You realize you're still standing in front of him, but startle a little when you notice your head reaches his chin instead of his bicep; he's made you taller. Something catches your eye by your temple and you notice your hair is lighter, too. 

"No one will recognize your face, I've just made you look more like a Light Elf," he says, and you gasp when you look at him; no longer is Loki standing in front of you. The strange man cups your mouth with his hand, pushing you back against the tree.

"Quiet, mortal," he hisses. Oh, it's him, you think. His disguise is convincing; he's a bit shorter now, with a round, wrinkled face and wispy, blonde hair. 

Your hands travel to your ears, and you're disappointed when they're just as rounded as they've ever been. "Why don't I have pointy ears? Like an elf?"

Loki's disguise rolls his eyes. "Shut up and follow me."

"If you really wanted to get into character, maybe you could be nicer," you mutter. You know he heard you, and you're grateful he doesn't react. 

The forest turns back into pasture, and light slowly engulfs you; he leads you to the wrought-iron gates that surround the city, as far as you can see. Iron sconces line the stone buildings you pass, and you're a bit surprised by how...run-down everything looks. The way he had described it, he had made it sound like Asgard, just a little less modern and a bit smaller. True, he wasn't exactly a detailed guy; only answering your burning questions while you'd accompanied him fishing the past few weeks, but everything looks much more depressed than you had expected. The Snap, you remember. Your heart sinks; thinking of some of the worse-off neighborhoods you could envision from home, you can't imagine how bad things are now, considering half of the work force, the community, is gone. You want to reach for Loki's hand; you want to show some sort of appreciation; because of his "hospitality" (more like tolerance, you think), you've been spared having to deal with a post-apocalyptic world. He's right; you're surviving, and it has been pretty glamorous. Because of his princely status leaving him with such a "cabin", and his magic providing you both with almost everything you could really need, you kind of hit the jackpot. Before you can reach for him, though, you realize the best kind of appreciation you can express right now would be to listen to his orders.

"There is a pub a few blocks this way," he says quietly, craning his neck slightly to face you as he walks ahead. "We can pretend to be passing through for a drink. We will be close enough to the palace there. Speak to no one."

"How does this work?" You know he'll kill you for it later, but aside from your Harry Potter knowledge, you can't even begin to comprehend how this magic stuff works. 

He sighs, but you're delighted when he decides to answer. "I cannot send it straight to the cabin; too far to transport magically without setting off alarms. I will send it to the forest, where we changed," he says quickly. "Now that's enough."

After a few more minutes of walking; he's slowed his pace, most likely to not draw attention by appearing to be storming around, and you follow suit behind him. "If anyone asks, you're my daughter, and we're traders passing through for the night and camping in the forests." he adds, and stops in front of a cobblestone building in a narrow alley. 

A little bell dings as he swings the door open, and you're greeted with glares from the barkeep. "Just passin' through, or will you need rooms for the night?" he grumbles, not facing either of you. This has got to be the darkest bar you've ever been in; there only seem to be a few candles lit behind it, reflecting off the mirror. It doesn't help that everything is made of very dark wood, much like the floors in Loki's cabin. From what you remember him telling you, Light Elves have exceptional eyesight, but even this you have to squint through. Noticing the thick layer of dust on the booths on the opposite wall of the bar, you wonder if it's dark for a reason.

As if the barkeep can read minds, too, he says, in an offended tone, "Don't mind the dark. Candle wax is gettin' harder to come by." You try to smile kindly, keeping your promise to Loki that you wouldn't speak.

"Think nothing of it. We are only passing through; we'll have two ales," Loki says, in a gruff, unfamiliar voice. He fishes for a leather pouch on his belt, and scoops out a few coins before placing them on the counter.

He must have given the barkeep much more than two ales are worth, because he seems to cheer up a bit after scraping the coins into his rough hands. "Two ales, right up for you and the lovely lady."

"Yes, my daughter and I are quite tired." Loki emphasizes the word 'daughter' a bit, and your lips purse, something like satisfaction blooming inside of you. Is he being protective?

The barkeep slides you both two frothy, large clear mugs of amber liquid, and Loki wastes no time taking a rather liberal sip. He's not speaking, and when you look at him from the corner of your eye, sipping the drink carefully, you notice he looks deep in thought. He must be doing something with his...say-dar thing, you think. His eyes grow increasingly more relaxed, so you're hoping you've traveled close enough to make this worth it.

"Traders?" he asks, eyeing you both behind woolly, wiry-haired eyebrows. 

"Indeed," Loki says, leaning back a bit, doing an excellent job at looking the part. "Smoked meats. We tried Niflheim; that was a mistake. We thought we might have better luck here; word is the crown is still standing firmly."

"Aye," he says, lowering his voice. "Half the crown is gone, just like half the farmers is, too, but they still takin' three times what they need."

You may not have a clue about most of the things they're saying, but that you do; you straighten up a bit, eyeing Loki with a told-you-so look on your face. You can't help but smile a little smugly when he narrows his eyes. 

You jump when the bell rings again, and four large, boisterous men clamber their way into the little pub. 

"Officers," the barkeep says, and you can tell he is only pretending to be glad to see them; the tension from behind the bar is obvious.

"Four ales, old man," the officer says over the roar of his friends' conversation; he looks more like a knight to you. Flicking him a few coins, the barkeep nods, turning to his shelf of mugs. You feel Loki stiffen when they all sit on stools to your right; further away from Loki, and directly next to you.

"What luck we have tonight, boys," the one closest to you shouts, elbowing his friend besides him. "We have the company of a lovely maiden."

"And betrothed to another," Loki adds quickly, raising his eyebrows behind his mug. "My daughter is to wed one of our village's most accomplished hunters."

You give the officer a sheepish smile as they all groan loudly amongst their rowdiness. His look of disappointment turns to suspicion as his eyes fall to your chest. "Where'd you get that brooch, little lady?"

Your heart nearly stops, and before Loki can answer for you, you blurt out, "My be-betrothed," you say, trying to make your accent sound like Loki's, maybe a little too loudly, so you lower your voice to a more natural pitch. "He bought it from...traders, passing through. As a wedding gift."

"That looks Asgardian-made. Are you sure your precious hunter is not a thief? Raiding the wasteland of the palace of the Aesir? Oh, how the mighty fall! Ragnarök took them even before the Great Take could," he laughs, earning loud chuckles from his friends. "You know," he adds, leaning closer to your chest, narrowing his eyes, "that looks like the dark prince's serpent." His look of suspicion dawns into a knowing, confident one. "Yeah, that'll be prince Loki's. I'd love to see his face, seein' his mark in an old place like this," he barks, earning more uproarious laughs.

You freeze; and try to hide your sob of relief when he shrugs, saying, "I hope that trader got his money's worth from your little hunter."

His friend to his right barks out a laugh, "Money's worth? Coin isn't worth much these days, with nothing left to buy. We're lucky the ale still flows."

"For now," the barkeep adds absentmindedly, not looking at anyone in particular.

"Aye," the soldier continues, still leaning into you. You get a waft of stale beer as he says darkly, "you are a lovely, little thing, aren't you?" Looking up at Loki, he nods, "What do you want for 'er?"

"I beg your pardon?" he hisses, cocking his head. Maybe he should try to sound more like a trader and less like a...prince, you think nervously, curling into yourself between the two men.

"She's better off here, a soldier's wife, taken care of by the crown," he slurs as his friend's laugh. You suck in a sharp breath, eyes wide, when the soldier suddenly grabs your chin, "all those lovely furs, I'd love to see what you look like underneath-"

You almost knock off your stool as Loki flies past you; in the flash of an eye, Loki has a dagger pressed against the soldier's throat.

"I will spill your blood so quickly through your thick neck, the streets will flood," he growls, and you swear you notice his eyes burn red. 

"Seize him!" you hear one of them yell, before a chorus of the clanging metal being unsheathed surrounds you. You tuck in on yourself, feel arms wrapped around your middle, and are plummeting into darkness.

You feel like you might be sick, like you've had the wind knocked out of you while on a carnival ride all at once; you think you might actually throw up when everything stops for a moment and you smell earth again, before you're immediately thrown back into the darkness.

"The sooner you start moving, the sooner the sensation will wear off," you hear Loki say darkly in your ear, and when you're finally able to lift your chin from where it has been tucked against his chest, you see the cabin nearby in the distance. Leaning into him, your feet hardly carrying you on their own accord, you begin to regain stability. 


As you stumble into the door, Loki leans you against the wall before stalking into the open kitchen, not looking at you. You notice you're both back to normal, his hair darker than ever in the soft light of the sconces, most likely lit by magic, you realize, meanwhile the entire world you were on were almost literally burning their midnight oil. 

What happened in the pub is starting to come back to you. "What the hell was that?" you ask in a hushed voice, almost daring him to challenge you. 

"That was me saving us from those brutes-"

"You wouldn't have had to!" you cry, pointing towards the door. "You're been giving me a hard time about this for days, and you pull a knife on knights? This isn't my fault-"

"I KNOW THAT!" he bellows, hands curled into fists at his sides. Immediately, he looks like he regrets saying it, like he's shocked it came from him.

"Did you even get the food?" 

"Yes; I even took enough to leave in the village; there was no doubt that half of them would not survive winter without it," he scoffs, turning to a cabinet for a goblet and a small barrel of the wine he prefers. 

You soften a bit at this. "So, what happens now? Are some, some elf wizards going to come for us? Now that you teleported us back?" 

"No one living can penetrate the sorcery protecting this cabin or it's lands," he says, draining the goblet in one swig. Pressing his hands into the table, hanging his head between his shoulders, he continues. "But we cannot leave the barriers. The elf queen will know someone even more powerful than she was in the city tonight."

Shaking your head, you whisper back, "So we're stuck here?"

"We already were stuck here, mortal-"

"Yeah, but now we're really stuck," you exclaim, and the tears well up in your eyes as you throw your hands up. "You've been threatening me every time we talk about this stupid mission, you treat me like the stupid mortal, here to ruin everything-" 

"YOU HAVE!" he shouts, banging his fists on the table. 

You feel your bottom lip tremble, wondering what you could have done differently. "I did exactly what you told me to, when he asked about your brooch, I-"

"No, girl," he whispers, walking from around the table. "I told you, I could not afford this sort of weakness," grabbing your chin, he tilts it up, so your eyes are met with his, "yet here I am."

You wait for him to kiss you, so when he releases his grip and turns for the stairs without another word, you feel your heart sink even lower than it already had. 

 

Chapter Text

After turning the knob to his room, only to find it locked, you're at least able to hold in the worst of your tears in until you're back in your own bed. Alone.

Everything since the summit pours out; your grief, your trauma, the feelings you're developing for this God you should be terrified of. He clearly feels something, too, and it's making him angry. It can't even be real - situational, that familiar word rings through your mind loudly. Would he give you a second glance, had he been the one to enter the dark bar? Would his dagger still have found the officer's neck if he had never laid his eyes on you before? Probably not, you think. You're not sure what hurts more; knowing that he doesn't want to feel anything for you if he does, or that he wouldn't at all if you weren't the only person around.

Only when the darkness outside slowly looks pregnant with growing light do you finally find sleep. 


 

You don't see him for two days.

If he leaves his rooms, he manages to do it while you sleep. You take long baths, trying to let the hot water wash you of the doom consuming you. You wish for some sort of real distraction, entertainment; all of Loki's books you're capable of reading are tales of heartbreak, loss, harrowing journeys in far off lands; they all make your heart ache for something more, anything. 

Wandering around the kitchen, you find a barrel of something that looks like apples; they're much larger and have more of an hourglass shape, but they taste similar, even though they're mealy and bruised. You ration off the meats left out, not sure of where Loki summons everything else from.

Noticing the cook stove lit, by magic, most likely, you open the barrels of the other food available in the kitchen. It looks like Loki timed your journey just right; your feet lean back into the air as you lower yourself to the bottom to scrape up the rest of the flour, the yeast, the salt. You make bread; you've done it a couple times at home, and you wing a recipe from memory. Doing something with your hands help; you work the dough, let it rise, clean up. Digging around for a pan of sorts, you place it carefully in the little oven door; it takes some effort to open it and you remember it's hardly used; Loki does this all with a wave of his hand; the servants no longer here to do this work for him.

Even though you're not as hungry as you should be, your sadness overriding hunger, you enjoy the fruits of your labor, proud that you were able to recreate the bread you had once made back home.

Almost two entire days since your return from the city, you decide you can't do this anymore. Since Loki clearly doesn't seem concerned with stealing without your protests, you take the cloak you've been wearing, the dress, the boots, the stocking and the furs. You examine the brooch, trying to imagine what his mother looked like. Did she have the same green eyes? The same cutting cheekbones, the jet black hair? Gingerly, you place it on the table, pulling the furs back together around your shoulders with your hands. A hindrance, he had called it. Maybe he meant you in general; having to watch out for you, provide for you. Not anymore, you think. You won't make him hide from you in his own space. Pulling your pack onto your back beneath the furs, you make your way down the bridge to the stairs, taking in the golden hue of the wood. 

 

***

 

Outside on the porch, you don't really know where to begin. Will leaving his magical barriers 'set off alarms'? Just because you're leaving, doesn't mean you want him to get caught. You think about going to the river, but you're starting to lose your desire to leave when the cold sets into your bones. Where is a stupid wormhole portal when you need one, you think. Crumbling to your feet, you hug your knees on the steps, feeling more helpless than you have since this ordeal began. At least the highway had been earth; you'd eventually reach someone, something. 

You're flooded with a mixture of dread and relief when you hear the door open behind you.

"What are you doing?" Loki asks, his voice deep in the back of his throat.

Turning your upper body to face him, still wrapped around your knees, you shrug. "I don't know. I have no where to go," you say through tears, not caring enough to keep up your front of I-can-handle-this. You don't know if you can anymore, and he doesn't care regardless. He looks weary again, and you're done blaming yourself for it.

"Come inside, you'll freeze," he says, trying to sound patient.

"Just leave me alone," you mumble against your arms.

"Now, mortal," he warns.

Okay, now you're angry.

Shouldering past him, your movements stiff and harsh, you toss your pack against a wall in the foyer before standing to face him. "Happy? I'm screwing all of this up whether I'm here or I leave, so probably not," you spit out, your temper flaring.

"You are not to leave, do not even think of it-"

"You said I wasn't a prisoner here-"

"Perhaps I've changed my mind!" he shouts, breathing heavily. Running his fingers through his hair, he starts to pace a little bit.

"And why is that?" you ask, your voice shrill.

"Because you're disobedient," he says curtly, pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.

"Liar!" you shout, "God of Lies, you just don't want me to-"

"How dare you, you insolent, maddening little-" he growls, stalking towards you.

"I can't ask you anything about what's going on, or who you really are; I can't touch you, because you need constant control," you cry, pointing an index finger towards him and he stops in his tracks. "If I can't breathe in here without setting you off, I'm better off out there," your finger travels back to the door, your shoulders leaning towards him. 

"It's late," he says abruptly, "go to bed."

"Excuse me?"

"To my bed, mortal, now-"

"Oh, it's back to your bed, huh? That's where we are today? And tomorrow you'll lock me out again? You've avoided me completely since we got back!" you're shouting now, and he inhales, closing his eyes.

"What do you want from me, mortal?"

"What do you want from me?" you point at your chest, searching his face for an answer. "That soldier recognized your stupid mark, and you used your impressive magic in front of them, and what, now you're panicking? You want me to comfort you until you find some way out of it, then you'll just accuse me of making you weak again? No," and when you begin to walk past him, he extends his arm, blocking your way.

"Stop," he whispers darkly. 

"Stop what?" 

When he doesn't respond, you take a minute to try to process this. The loneliness and the want is consuming you, and you know it is for him, and there's that word again - situational - and it hits you; this is your life now, as it's his. It doesn't matter what would happen otherwise, because there is no otherwise, and there never could be anything else.

He can definitely read minds, you think as his lips part.

 "Stop," he whispers again, even more quietly. His hand reaches for your cheek, and his touch feels so good, it almost burns. Your face falls as you lean into him. His thumb traces your cheek before it grazes your lip.

"I'm not doing anything," you answer, meeting his hooded eyes with yours. 

The very tip of his thumb pushes gently into your lips, and you can't suppress a whine as his other arm reaches around your back. 

"You're bored," you whisper defiantly.

"Stop-"

You voice rises a little, "You're too smart to be locked up like this and you can't handle it-" 

"Stop, mortal-"

"You're lonely and I-"

"Stop," he pleads, his voice almost inaudible against your mouth as he takes your face in his hands, pushing you gently against the wall.

The kiss is just as soft as it had been before, but it's hurried; the longing behind it is evident, the way he practically whimpers into your lips. 

"Do you understand at all why I have resisted you?" he pulls your face back, frantically scanning your face.

"No," you say breathlessly, "you don't tell me anything," you take his hair between your fingers and crash your lips into his, desperate for more of his cool tongue. 

"You'll know," he grits between kisses as he fists a handful of your hair, exposing the nape of your neck to him, "and you will know the dangers I am trying to keep you out of." He sinks his teeth into you, sucking and licking from the lobe of your ear to your collarbone. Your fingers dig into his leathers as you try to claw your way against him. 

"I don't want you to stop, Loki," you beg, unsure of what you're asking for. This is all you've ever wanted, maybe, you can't remember. You can't focus on anything besides the way this feels; his long, cool fingers pressing the small of your back against his center, the other coiled in your hair. He tastes like mint and sweat and you never want his lips to leave you. Maybe you did die on that summit, and waiting for him to take you this way was purgatory and only now have you reached your true hell, your true master finally here, torturing you with his touch. It's everything and not enough, all at once.

He chuckles darkly, reverberating into your mouth. "I cannot stop now, girl," he nips your bottom lip, grabbing your waist and spreading his hands wide enough to graze your nipples with his thumbs, "you've ruined me," he grits, pulling your hair a little tighter as you moan. 

Releasing you completely, he stands back. "To my bed," he breathes, the authority in his tone making the space between your legs burn.

"Where are you going?" you implore between heavy breaths, watching him stride towards the doors.

"Checking the barriers," he calls as he opens the door. "If we are to be discovered, it will not be tonight."


Being back in his room feels safe, like you're home again. You remove everything you're wearing and take one of his shirts draped over his chair, one that he's already worn. You focus on the soft sheets, how they smell like him, to distract you of how nervous you are.

When he comes back, tearing off his shirt and climbing towards you like you're relief, like you're home to him, you smile at him. It might be the first one you've ever given him that wasn't coy or sarcastic or sheepish. 

Yet, he still looks sad. Defeated.

"Is everything okay?" you ask.

"No," he whispers, propping himself above you. "I wish we were on Asgard."

You want to answer, but you don't want him to stop talking. When you can't think of a worthy response, you reach up to cup his face.

Tugging at the hem of the shirt you're wearing, gently, he says, "May I see you?" He still looks weary.

Yes, you mean to say, but you can't. Why isn't he...demanding? Taking? You reach down and pull it off, over your head, and watch his chest rise more rapidly at the sight of you beneath him. 

Wrapping your arms around yourself, cheeks on fire and your heart pounding in your chest, you say, in a small voice, "I know I'm just a human, but-"

"Please," he breathes out, kissing you fiercely for a moment before pulling back to look at you again, "you are everything."

His hands are everywhere, palming your breasts, running over your thighs. You're desperate for him, to finally put you out of your misery, your loneliness, the empty void inside of you. And he's kissing it away, his cool lips brushing against your lips, sucking and darting his tongue between them.

"I want to feel you," you cry out, tugging on the waistband of his pants as his clever mouth explores your neck, your throat.

Roughly, he pulls away, pulling his trousers down his legs and tugging them from his ankles. You barely make out his ivory form in the dark blue light of twilight descending from the skylights. 

Climbing back on top of you, he seems so much less controlling than usual; hesistant, careful.

"What's wrong?" you implore him, searching his eyes.

"I do not wish to hurt you," he explains, and he gently pushes the head of himself against the slickness pooling in between your legs.

You gasp loudly; even this little feels like too much, and you tense beneath him.

Pulling out, you feel him wet with your heat against your thigh, heavy and stiff as he leans in to kiss you, deep and hungry. You're scared, you realize. 

Inching back on his heels, he holds your waist as he takes you in. "Little thing," he muses darkly. Little kisses trail down from your breasts, your belly, down to your center, you moan out in utter relief when his cool mouth finds his way to the pink bud below your mound. You can hear him moaning, too, as if he's drinking from you, honey and sweat. The ardent lust building has been manifesting too long to sustain itself; your back arches, almost against your will as you succumb to his tongue, his fingers, his firm grip holding you in place, anchoring you from the tide. 

He doesn't give you a moment to recover; his arms cradle you as he slips into your primed folds with ease. The stretch is still overwhelming, and you only notice you're whimpering when his wet lips press against your ear, shushing you.

"Good girl, good girl," he praises softly, pushing into your impossibly tight walls, too tight for him, a god.

When you start to relax, he begins to move, and when you respond, bucking your hips against his, your broken breathing and mewling coming from you uncontrollably, he meets your eyes.

It's as if your heat is restoring him, fueling him, giving him life. A light behind his eyes you've not seen since the photographs from New York are torched, and they're boring straight into you.

"Norns, why have I denied myself this," he growls, his pace picking up at a delicious rate. You spread your legs as wide as they'll go, wrapping around him. 

When he notices your breath hitching, your inability to keep your eyes open, he laps at your neck, beckoning you. "Come for me again, mortal," he commands.

As if his voice was the key, you unlock around his length, crying out, clawing your fingers into his back.

He practically roars, low and abrasive in his throat, as he follows you, his cool seed throbbing into your belly. 

When he finally slips out of you, it's the only sensation strong enough to pull you back; through hell and back, you had come out of the other side. You ached and throbbed and it felt like heaven.

Pulling you into his chest, you hear him sigh out your name. 

Rubbing his fingertips over your scalp, you faintly hear him say, "Valhalla."

From all the reading you've done, it's a word you recognize. And it's enough.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

When you start to stir, the orange sky glowing above you through the windows, you notice Loki sitting up, his waist turned towards you.

"Do you hurt?" he asks softly, resting a hand on your hip, eyeing it with concern. Or maybe it's uncertainty. 

Despite only just waking up, relief washes over you; even in the blissful haze that guided you to sleep last night, you had expected a tense morning. Concern is better than contempt.

Adjusting your lower half a bit, you do notice a dull ache, but it feels nice. "No," you smile, pulling your lips into your mouth a little. "Good morning."

"Yes, it is morning, isn't it?" he sighs, leaning into you neck, inhaling deeply. He doesn't sound regretful, just a bit resigned. "So, you will not attempt to leave again?" He kisses your neck, slowly swinging a leg over you to harness you between his thighs. 

You feel blood rush throughout your entire body, excited to experience him again this way so soon. 

"I thought you said you'd changed your mind," you say coyly, gripping his upper arms. "About me being a prisoner." You're still feeling pretty shy, but it's hard to give into it when he's paying you this kind of attention.

He hums against your ear, and the vibration makes the ache between your legs pulse with want. "I'd consider it a rather fair arrangement," he says, his voice a guttural. 

"Why's that," you breathe, throwing your head back as he sucks on the hollow of your throat before travelling back to your lips. 

"Obey me, girl," he says, between languid, open-mouthed kisses, "and I may be able," his tongue drags across yours, "to keep us," he moans when your hand travels to his pelvis, and you think the sound alone could bring you over the edge, "both alive."

"From what?" You barely make out the words as his fingers slowly work between your legs. Has anyone, ever, made you feel this before? No, you almost laugh to yourself. This truly is otherworldly

"Everything," and as his hand, soaked with your lust, wraps around your waist, you cry out when he pushes himself into you entirely.

He moves in and out of you, slowly, and that madness you saw behind his eyes last night has returned. He's seemed so tired all of this time. But inside of you, he's coming to life. Hands propped up on either side of your head, he drinks you in with his eyes, greedy and glowing. 

Gnashing his teeth and moving more quickly as he lowers himself deeper against you, he says, "I was wrong."

"How?" you ask, your eyes fluttering as he adjusts his angle, hitting a spot inside of you that makes you whimper.

Slowly his pace drastically, holding himself inside of you deep, his nose crinkles as his says, almost in spite of himself, "You could tell me you were a goddess," he juts his hips, sharp and rough, and you groan with pleasure, "and I would be none the wiser."

Bending low to cup one of your breasts, he takes a nipple into his mouth. The feeling of his cool tongue against you coupled with his words, these confessions, you feel yourself collapsing. Your hands knead his back as you lose yourself to him, your body surrendering every nerve.

When you regain thought, you drag him by the back of his head into a kiss, using his tongue to pull you back to the present. He whines, an almost vulnerable sound, as you feel him pulsates inside of you, his movements stiffening with his finish. 

Collapsing, he rolls your limp form onto his chest, damp with sweat and heaving.

"Look," he breathes, and you feel his head nod towards the ceiling, "I am not often wrong."

Craning your neck towards the skylights, you watch as the snow accumulates against the glass, quickly obscuring the blazing sky.

"Loki?" 

"Hmm?" 

"What is going to stop Thanos?" you coil a bit of his hair around your fingers, pushing yourself up enough to meet his eyes. You don't want this moment to end, but a month has past since the Snap and you still barely understand.

"Time," he says purposefully, his eyes still fixed on the windows above.


Winter settles into Alfheim.

You start to lose track around week nine.

When you have a hard time remembering what the forests looked like when they were still green, you know it's been even longer. You'd barely left the porch in weeks, the deep snow keeping you confined to the cabin.

The Elf Queen never comes for you; if she tries, Loki's barriers kept her out. After a couple of weeks, both of your unspoken anxiety about it dies away.

Around the time you think would have been long past Christmas back home ("On Midgard," you start to call it; you've grown accustomed to Loki's vocabulary), you start to get depressed. You've read all the books in English, twice, some of them three times. You sleep more often, you eat less. Loki gives you your space but he senses it.

After talking you into a meal, you do feel better, basking in the light of the early sunset. The sky is a brilliant purple as you pick at the second helping of boar he insists on piling onto your plate.

"I am going to get more supplies this evening," Loki says, drumming his fingers on the kitchen table. He's not looking at you, which is intentional. 

"Not into the city," you say, dropping your fork loudly as your eyes widen.

"Not Alfheim's," he's still not looking at you. He gave up commanding you a while ago, growing pretty respectful of your role in this...situation. 

"Will you at least leave from within the barriers? Even if there is detection, no one will be able to get through-"

You jump a little when he shouts your name. "I have told you, countless times. I will not leave you here alone if there is a threat-"

"Then don't leave me!" you cry, even though you know the argument is in vain. "We don't even need anything!"

Sighing, he deflates. "Must we do this?" his voice is quiet but there is frustration bleeding through his voice.

You soften; you're not trying to make this more difficult. "I told you not to worry about the tea. It's my fault we ran out so quickly," you add apologetically, you had been complaining about not having any, but you know this won't change his mind. Neither of you need anything, he's just going crazy inside, and you know it.

"Trust me," he whispers, reaching for your hand across the table. "I will be back before you wake."

"If I ever fall asleep," you add, rather petulantly, biting the inside of your cheeks.

"Enough of that. We must be strong," he chides, gripping your hand even tighter. "I know how difficult this is."

"Easy for you to say. What's a couple of years to you?" you didn't want to bring this conversation here, but it always circles back around. Mortality, time. It seems to rule your entire life here; you've got more time in the world within these walls, beneath the gullwood, and yet it's slipping by.

"You speak as if you are ancient," he teases. If Loki is trying to brighten the mood, you know you need to take it. "Winter does not last forever, little one. Buck up," he says, "and if you are a good girl while I am away, I shall bring you back a treat."

You purse your lips, trying not to smile. "This is survival-" his words from last summer ring loudly in your brain. This isn't forever. And besides, you've got each other now. Nodding, you muster a brave face. 


You feel yourself let out a deep breath when you wake to him, the room blanketed with darkness, crawling into bed besides you.

"You're back," you say brightly, your voice strained with sleep.

"Of course I am," he says, curling around you, "and you are ever so warm."

Nuzzling into his neck, you inhale deeply; he smells like sweat and snow. "I was good," you whisper, kissing his earlobe. "For the record."

"Were you?" There's that low purr that kills you, and he knows it. 

You hum in response. "Where's my treat?"

"You'll have it in the morning. For now, show me how good you are," and as his lips find yours, his clever hands find the spot between your legs.


"Loki," you say in a hushed voice, half-astonished, half-outraged. "What have you done?"

You're standing in the library, and there's about five dozen new books stacked on the floor in front of the glass window. The snow is at least three feet deep, so you're practically blinded as you step towards them, the sun reflecting against the white blanket.  Squinting your eyes, you see classics from the 20th century, even more recent novels. From your time. 

"Perhaps these will help pass the time until spring," he suggests quietly. "There's more," he turns for the hallway, and you choke out an exasperated laugh.

"More?"

"Not books," he calls out, his voice echoing back to you. He returns a moment later with a stack of folded clothes. "These looked like they ought to fit you. They may be more suitable for the outdoors now, and I think getting out, even to the river, would be-"

"You went to Midgard." Blood is pounding in your ears. Torn between relief, relief that he is okay and earth is habitable enough to still have books and jeans, but also fury. "You left me here while you went home, my home-"

"And risk you getting hurt?"

"What if you had? Then I would be stranded here! The Bifrost is gone, I can't just teleport myself out," you're shouting, but despite your anger, you can't help yourself when you ask in a smaller voice, "What's it like? Earth? How is it? Where did you go?"

"Calm down," Loki steps towards you, placing his hands on your shoulders. He seems satisfied when you take a deep breath, relaxing a bit. "Midgard is," he hesitates, letting his hands fall, he carefully examines his cuticles, pursing his lips, "not in ruins. But perhaps not quite how you remember it."

You nod, blinking back tears. "Why did you go? For books?"

"I had to check on something." 

"On what? 'Trust me', you always say. We've talked about this! How can I trust you if you don't talk to me!" you cry ardently. "I still don't know what the Avengers have planned-"

"You know I do not either, only theories. I was not their closest confidant-"

"Why did you go?" you say softly, silent tears trailing down your hot cheeks. 

"I had to see who survived-"

"You mean your brother," you correct him, folding your arms over your chest, squaring your shoulders.

Inhaling deeply, he clicks his tongue. He's still shirtless, neither of you had been awake for long before you found the gifts he had brought you. "He and whomever else, yes. I want to stay privy to their plans, I want to be prepared."

"For Thanos? Are you worried?" Anxiety floods your chest because you can tell he is. When he doesn't answer, you say it; you know you shouldn't, but you have to. "I'm not a super hero, I'll never be prepared-"

"I am, for the both of us." he says firmly, finally looking at you with a passionate flare in his eyes. 

"When we do leave here, where are you going to go? What's left on Midgard for me?" Your heart is breaking, and you don't know why.

"We have an entire galaxy, little one-"

Both of you jump, heads darting towards the enormous window to the left of you, where the sound came from. Amongst the clear, pink sky, sun shining in the distance, a blackened storm cloud splits the horizon asunder, white hot lighting cracking through the middle. 

 

Chapter Text

"Loki, why is it thundering in winter?" You're stiff, waiting for another strike to rumble the glass windows of the cabin again. You know why, you just need to hear it.

Loki inhales deeply. "My brother has arrived on Alfhiem."

"Did you want him to follow you?"

"I left him a clue; I wanted him to find me eventually, when the time was right. Perhaps it is now." Offering his hand to you, you take it, and he positions you against his chest, standing in the window. "I thought we had weeks, if not longer. No doubt his friends found it before the great oaf did himself. They may not be as clever as I am, but not as thick-skulled as Thor."

"For what? What clue?" You're trying to wrap your head around this; what the hell is going on? Why is Loki so calm? "What's going to happen?"

"Never mind," he retorts, and taking hold of your shoulders, he spins you around. "Darling, there isn't time to explain. I must go and find him now. Will you wait here?"

Something is happening, and you know it. You had been losing your mind, shut in beneath all of this snow, with nothing but tales of woe to keep your mind from panic, from the summit. And yet, the thought of being rescued belts in your stomach tightly.

What would happen? What did you have to go home to? And without this situation, would Loki discard you?

"Yeah," you say hoarsley, nodding a little, "be safe." You have mastered the art of The Brave Face at this point.

You never really asked, but he leaves you with a little reminder that he most likely can read your mind; tilting your chin up, he holds your gaze for a moment before pressing his lips to yours. You try to put unsaid things into it, as your fingers find his dark curls. Judging on how receptive he is, humming a little against you, you think he understands. 

"I will return," he says, and stepping away, with a ripple of green light, he's fully sheathed in leather and armour.  A sight you haven't seen since New York.

Noticing your stares, the corner of his lip curls. "Are you frightened?" he asks, turning slightly towards the exit.

Of course you are, and he knows it. You lie anyways. "No," you say, rather absent-mindedly, "you look good," you add, shrugging a little.

With a pleased look, he turns away, leaving you with your new mountain of books.


You've got to hand it to this God; he's got style. 

You blush a little, thinking of how he's seen (and touched) enough of you to guess your size so well; the black jeans, longsleeve shirt and hoodie are a perfect fit. You feel more like yourself than you have in months. How are these any more suitable for the cold, Alfheim winter, you wonder? Or maybe he knew this was coming eventually. Sooner than later. Why bother, with the books then? Maybe he truly didn't know how long before Thor came; he does seem to perceive time a bit differently. Based on how impatient you had been acting, maybe he thought days felt like weeks to you.

Maybe, just maybe, he wanted to make some sort of gesture. 

Could you call yourself close to him? You had given him almost every inch of you; nightly, daily. He knew your body like the back of his own hand, you were sure of it. It set you on fire, it kept you focused. On getting through this, pushing through the pain and confusion. 

But could you say the same for him? He had ceased to be hurtful, but he was stoic otherwise. Quiet, observant. At least you could make him smile sometimes.

Your memory flashed back to a couple of weeks ago; you saw the scene in your mind's eye.

You had been in his bath; he had suggested it after a particularly enthusiastic hour in bed. Who thought you could get so sweaty, based on cold he kept the place?

"Do you think you'd notice me, if we hadn't met the way we had?" you asked hesistantly, leaning against the sponge he dragged across your back.

He snorted. "You mean crumpled in a heap on the forest floor?"

"Very funny," you say dryly, snapping your neck to glare at him playfully. "You know what I mean."

He was silent for a moment; all you heard was the water as he soaked the sponge again. He inhaled deeply and your heart sank a little. If he had to think about it, the answer is probably no.

"Do not entertain such notions, little one. It will do you no good."

"Why not? I'm just curious."

"Because I truly do not know. I am not who I was before this war began."

You turned at the waist, grabbing his hand holding the sponge. His nostrils flared a little, but he didn't pull away. "Who were you?"

There was that look, likes he was tired. "I was envious. I was angry."

You paused a moment before you let another question escape you. "And what about now?"

"Now I have purpose," he said, holding his head high. "To make Asgard whole again."

"Do you think Midgard will ever be? So that I have somewhere to go home to?"

"I do," he whispered. "But once you see Asgard, you'll never want to leave, I can promise you that."

"You'll bring me there? you voice became more quiet with each word. 

"You won't have a choice," he said, smiling before he kissed you.

You nod to yourself, basking in the comfort of the memory. 

****

You spend a couple of hours, anxiously pacing past the big windows in the library, hoping to catch a glimpse of the brothers returning. Would Thor be angry that Loki had faked his own death yet again? After thousands of years, maybe he's used to it, you think. 

You jump as the door booms open.

The man you see does not look like the Thor from the magazines. He looks even more worn than Loki does. 

Hair cropped short and wearing typical earth dude clothes, jeans and a grey sweatshirt, his face drops as his eyes land on you. 

"Loki, how could you," he sounds disgusted, shaking his head in disbelief. 

"I beg your pardon?" Loki cuts, his eyes narrowed into slits as he shuts the gold door behind them.

"You've enslaved a mortal? This entire time? My dear girl," he walks towards you, his hands out, "are you harmed?"

"I am not a slave," you say loudly, looking between him and Loki from behind his shoulder. "Loki found me, here on Alfheim. I fell through a portal-"

Understanding dawns on the blonde man's face, and he draws back from you a bit, breathing a sigh of relief. "How convenient you were found by my brother, rather than the soldiers of the Elf Queen."

"I'm familiar with them," you say darkly, raising your eyebrows. "Convenient, indeed."

Thor steps back even further, and begins to look between the two of you. Rather suspiciously, too, you notice. "Which of your rooms may I trouble you for, brother? The central guest room, or the north wing? We cannot leave here until I get the signal from Stark and I would hate to impose on - apologies, my lady - your name?"

He repeats it back to you when you tell him, and he nods. "Yes. I'll take which ever room is available." That's when you notice a shiny, glowing watch-thing on his wrist; a purple screen illuminates with green flashing buttons.

He's talking about Tony Stark, you realize.

"Either of them," Loki finally responds, and based on his, 'Try me' expression, you know what they're asking each other.

Thor looks between the two of you again, a small smirk etched on his face. Loki startles a bit when a hand the size of a tennis racquet thumps against his back. "Perhaps you have changed, brother," Thor says. "What have I always told you about mortals?"

Sneering, Loki then looks at you before turning back to Thor. "Yes, yes, you were right. Happy?" Thor is already headed towards the kitchen, but Loki gives you a small smile.


Watching Thor eat might as well be like watching a sport. This should have it's own show on ESPN, you think as he rips his teeth into another leg of meat.

"Is there a food shortage on Midgard?" Loki asks, his nose wrinkled in displeasure as his brother tears through your meat supply. There's plenty left and you know it, but it still makes you a little uneasy, watching him like he's trying to win an eating contest. 

Thor only side-eyes his brother, drinking deeply from the mug of wine. You're all gathered in the kitchen, and you're silent, patiently waiting for the brothers to talk so you can figure out what's going on.

After a few more moments of silence, the brothers eating and drinking, you can't take it anymore. "So, what's going on?"

Thor peers at you from behind his cup. Swigging the last of his wine back, he ceremoniously places it back onto the tray before settling back into the wooden chair. He's stalling.

"I mean no offence, my lady. But I must have a word with my brother. Alone," he says apologetically, glancing at Loki. 

What the hell? Looking at Loki, a shocked look of outrage passing over your face, he sighs in defeat. 

"Please," he says, letting his shoulders drop. 

Nodding curtly, you strut from the kitchen, but adjust your movements into a slow-motion creep when you're out of sight. 

"Are you bedding her, Loki?" Thor whispers incredulously. 

"And what is it to you?" Loki hisses.

"Does she have any idea what you've done?"

"Of course she does, she's from Midgard-"

"Is this sorcery?"

"Have I ever needed sorcery to-"

"And what will you do when the time comes to undo this? What will become of her?"

In front of the fireplace, you freeze, holding your breath to listen.

"Off you go, I will join you shortly," you hear Loki call out towards you.

Damn mind-reading God, you think irritably, making your way back towards the stairs. 

"I have a plan," you hear him say quietly, and you can tell it's final; he wants this part of their conversation to end. "Now tell me about Stark's."

"Aye, of course you do," the Thunderer says as you grip the railing.

Before you can turn the door to Loki's room, you hear Thor shouting, accompanied by more lighting clapping outside. 

"Because we need you, is that what you need to hear? Will that suffice, brother? If we go back, only you know where the tesseract is; it can only be you."

Opening the door quickly, not wanting to get caught eavesdropping again, your mind works around what you had just heard. Tesseract? And you're not sure where he means when he says, "go back," but you've got a few guesses.


You spend the rest of the day alone, and you're going mad with anxiety.

Loki brings you a handful of new books on a tray with water and food; bread, meat and some cheese, as always, but he doesn't stay long.

"Why can't I hear?" you cry petulantly, pushing the tray he places on the desk in front of you away as your cross your arms. "Something is gonna happen with this Thanos guy, there is a plan, and I can't hear a word of it?"

"I need you to tr-"

"Trust you, I know-" you gasp when he grabs your chin with his thumb and fingers, gripping firmly. When you meet his eyes, he's not angry, though - he's pleading.

"You must cooperate," he whispers, and your stomach sinks as you notice he looks worried.

***

Hours after the sun sets, you feel a wave of relief wash over you as the door to his room opens again, but even as he lifts the blankets to join you in bed, you don't turn towards him.

Your heart aches a little as he says your name, pulling your shoulders towards him.

Rolling over, you see the same worried look.

"Are you okay?" you ask, your mouth and throat dry. 

"No," he whispers, and he kisses you.

He's kissing you with so much need, so much passion that you whine into his mouth, almost sobbing at the way his hands cup your face. Running your hands over his smooth, toned back and shoulders, you pull him down so that he is above you. 

Pulling away, still holding your face, he gives you a searching look. "You have changed me," he breathes.

"I don't understand how," you reply, brushing his hands with your thumbs. The intensity in his usually-saturnine face is a little concerning. 

"Do you trust me?"

"Yes, you know that-"

"Why?" he almost gives your face a little shake, "Why, when I almost completely destroyed New York, murdered how many mortals, I'm not sure. Why?"

"Why did you save me? Why have you been taking care of me? Was it really just easier?"

"I believe the Norns weave our fate," he says, almost distantly as he brushes a strand of hair from your brow. "No one has ever trusted me, not entirely."

"Have you ever given them a reason to?"

"I suppose not."

"So why did you start with me?"

He answers with a kiss. So neither of you understand it, and in this moment, you're okay with that. As you part your legs for him, feeling him trace your slick entrance with his muscle, you're okay. This closeness, this comfort, this silent understanding, has kept you alive. And even amongst the end of the world, you've never felt safer.


You hardly remember falling asleep, momentary bliss flooding through your mind from Loki's touch had sent you into a dreamless slumber. But as Loki gently shakes your shoulder, you open your eyes to almost-darkness; the light is so faint outside, everything looks a dark blue. 

"Little one, it's time," he says in a low whisper. 

"For what?" you croak, turning towards him.

"We are going to Midgard."

***

You follow Thor and Loki against the same path that you'd taken into Alfheim. No one speaks, but after about a quarter of an hour, Loki reaches for your hand. The snow is hard to walk through, but you're trying your best to keep up.

"Would you like me to carry you?" Loki asks. You're worried he's just annoyed you're not as quick as he and Thor, but he seems sincere.

"You best, Loki. We must move," Thor says, not looking at either of you. 

"Wait, I can-"

Before you can finish your protest, Loki hoists you into his arms, bridal-style. His strength never ceases to impress you.

"Lead the way, brother," he says dryly, moving at an impressive speed, considering the snow and you, nestled against his chest.

You almost fall back asleep again before you feel Loki's movements slow. Looking up, your mouth drops.

It's a freaking space ship. 

"Make haste," Thor says, ducking his head as he boards the ramp.

"Do not tell me you are surprised," Loki says, almost amused as you gape, open-mouthed and awed as you follow them.

"Simple, remember?"

He chuckles, and he gives you a smile, though his brows are furrowed. "No. Only easy to impress."

You watch Thor punch several buttons and you shriek, crouching against a wall of some sort as the ship lurches upwards. "Hang on," he bellows.

"How long will we be gone, Loki?" you think to ask him, thinking of the golden arches of the ceilings in the cabin.

He purses his lips and you see his chest rise.

"Loki? When are we coming back home?"

"Trust me," he say, so quietly he almost just mouths it. 

Silence always means no, or never. 

 

***

 

The travel makes you almost ill; you're reminded of Loki teleporting you both from the city of Alfheim. You're fortunate for the bunks in the back of the ship. 

You try to sleep; to shut out the way your stomach aches with nerves, of the way Loki's face looked last night as he had told you you had changed him.

When you remember what he's done, to earth, you realize what he meant.

When you start to feel something akin to turbulence, you peer your head from the bunk, hoping that a look outside the windshield (can you call it that? On a space ship?) won't make you dizzy. You can barely swallow when you see the ship descending onto a rooftop. 

A rooftop on Midgard.

Clutching the strings of your hoodie, wrapping them around your fingers, you try to steady your breathing. What's going to happen to you while they're off...what, fighting aliens? Will he leave you to find your way home?

What is home anymore, if you're not with Loki?

How can you get through this new world without him?

"We're here," you hear him say, bending down to look at you.

Nodding, you hop onto legs that feel like jello. 

 

***

And there's Tony Stark. The billionaire. 

"Took ya long enough, Point Break. We need to go, now-who the hell is this?" He and another man you don't recognize are standing in front of a crappy, run-down looking van, and they're both looking at you. 

"Careful, Stark, that is no way to speak to a lady," Loki chides. "You look like a drowned rat."

Ouch. Although, you do notice Tony looks far more gaunt than you remember from pictures.

"Oh, thank you, Dark Lord. Starving in space will do that to you. So, who is our guest? Hopefully someone who's seen 'Back to the Future'"?

When Loki hooks his arm around your waist, dragging you against him, the color from Tony's face drains. "She's with you?" He's practically bug eyed, and you notice Loki looking rather smug. 

"It's a long story, I fell through a portal after the Snap," you say, and even though you feel Loki's fingers grip a little tighter against your waist, you decide that maybe the nice earthlings will actually explain, "Will someone tell me what is happening?"

"No time, kiddo," the other man says. You can only see half of him; he's between the double doors of the back of the van, seemingly fiddling with some kind of equipment. 

"Look who decided to help," flinging yourself around, Captain freaking America emerges from the stairway, and he is wearing his uniform, strutting towards the scene briskly.

Come to notice it, everyone but Tony and Thor are dressed for battle at this point. 

"Ah, the soldier," Loki hisses low, narrowing his eyes.

"Enough. I know how much you two missed each other, but we've got an alien to ambush. Scott, are we ready?"

"Ambush?" you say, not caring how childlike you sound. "Loki, what's happening?"

"Reindeer Games, does she not know?"

"Know what? Loki, I-"

Tony claps a hand onto Loki's shoulder and drags him a couple of feet away, but you can still hear him, even over the bustle of everyone moving; preparing for something. 

"You realize once this is done, we are going back; neither of you will-"

"I know!" Loki shouts, fists balled at his sides. Why is he so angry?

"You need to say goodbye," Tony say somberly into Loki's ear.

"Loki, what is he talking about?"

"We're ready to roll, gang," the man called Scott calls, and everyone assembles behind the van.

"Loki!"

"Look at me, little one," Loki holds the side of your face with one hand, and the other is holding up two fingers to your temple. A weird, tingly, cold sensation ripples over your scalp. 

"Loki, please," you're crying now; this is all moving so quickly. And he's leaving you.

"I will be back," he says, his voice only faltering enough for you to notice, before he kisses you. 

"Loki, now," Thor rumbles, and your vision blurs, tears welling up in your eyes as he pulls away.

"Trust me," he calls out, and in a blink of an eye, they're gone.

Everything goes black.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Epilogue 

 

Your friend is calling your name. "You okay?" Ceasing their movement of straightening the black tent poles, they're looking at you, eyebrows furrowed. "You're kinda zoning out."

"Yeah, yeah," you say, shaking your head a little. "Sorry, I guess I'm a little wiped." Last thing you remembered, you were gazing out at the orange sunset, thinking of rain. You continue your work, extending the poles through the S-shaped hooks to keep the tent erect. 

"We need s'mores," your friend says. "There," they stand back, hands on their hips, admiring your work. "I'll grab the lighter, you grab the chocolate."

 

***

 

You had hummed in acknowledgment at all of the right pauses, hugged them when it felt right, and tried to boost your friend back up the best you could as you both laid back, head's against your packs, feet in front of the fire. They had lamented their breakup, and you had listened, like a good friend.

But something didn't feel right.

Maybe their woes were rubbing off on you; that had to be it. You felt fine when you woke up that morning, albeit dreading the major workout you were preparing to embark on. But inside your sleeping bag, your friend sleeping soundly facing the other way, you felt sad

You felt heartbroken, too, and you couldn't figure out why. 

Sleep it off, bucko, you tell yourself. You'll feel better in the morning. 

You don't. 


After a week, you start to feel a little concerned.

You can't pinpoint it. Maybe it's some seasonal thing; a lot of people get depressed when summer ends. And fall is your favorite. When you can curl up with a book and some tea, watching the rain patter against the changing leaves, you'll feel better.

You don't. 

You start declining invites to hang out with friends and start working longer hours. Then you stop answering texts as promptly as you used to.

Four months go by, and when the snow arrives, you feel sick of it already. You have to get away. You need something green - overwhelmingly green.

You'd saved up a ton of money from going out less and working more, so you buy a ticket to Seattle and take a bus to the north of the state. You hike in the rain, in the mossy, green old growth trees. You drink tea in your little rental cabin, you read. 

Somehow, it makes it worse. You feel homesick. 

Homesick for what?

Going home doesn't help, so after a few weeks of the same, you buy another ticket based on a bizarre impulse you can't explain. Something the complete opposite of the trees that made your heart ache.

New York City. 


 

Your Airbnb is small and cramped, but you don't mind. 

You wander the streets, looking through obscure book stores and hidden bakeries. The people, the energy - it's all distracting enough. It's helping, even if it's a little bit.

On your third afternoon in town, you had returned to a cafe you particularly liked; it was dark and kind of cavernous, quiet music played in the background, and tucked into a cozy armchair towards the back, you could people-watch the counter from behind your book.

You look up when you hear the bell above the door chime and a booming voice echoes. 

"This is the one, brother," you hear, and your eyes widen to the size of saucers when you see the source of the voice; it's Thor Odinson, one of the Avengers. Pulling your book back over your face, you freeze. Sure, it's pretty cool seeing an actual celebrity, but you don't want to come off as some fan girl. Not that there's anything wrong with that; something is just telling you to sit and leave him alone. 

"Ah, yes. The only tolerable establishment in the entire city," you hear a cold voice droll. Peering a little over your book, you see Loki. That Loki - the one who tried to take over earth not long ago.

You'd seen online that he was part of the Avengers now, or something to do with Stark Enterprise, as some sort of a rehabilitation program. Apparently, he had been under some kind of mind control from a bad guy, and had ultimately helped them defeat him. 

You can't look away from him. 

He's standing behind Thor; he's maybe a little taller, but not as broad. In a sharp black suit, hair slicked back to his shoulders, he stands wide with his hands in his pockets, looking at the black chalkboard menu. 

"Have you got ale?" Thor flashes a smile at the stunned barista.

"Uh, no...just...coffee," she stammers out, pointing an index finger to the menu behind her.

"Ah, yes. Well, I shall have a, uh-"

"Allow me," Loki huffs, shouldering past his brother. "I will have a London fog, extra foam, and my brother here will have a mocha frappe. Please," he adds, and even though you're trying not to look, you can't help but notice the mock in his voice behind the request.

Rude or not, his voice is doing something to you. You don't want him to stop talking.

"Aren't you integrating into Midgardian culture well?" You hear Thor say, his pride easy to detect. 

"I'd hardly call having a preference for beverages intrgrating," Loki snorts. 

The bell rings again, and you hear a chorus of squeals before you look up.

"Oh my god, it's Thor!" A girl cries, and she and her group of friends swarm the blonde, who, sweetly enough, beams at them.

"It is I!" He chants.

"Can we take a selfie with you?" One asks, and when Thor agrees and they all engulf him, you can't help it when a spurt of laughter escapes you.

That's when Loki looks right at you.

He had distanced himself from his brother's moment of fame, his arms crossed against his chest. He was glaring at you.

Crap, did you offend him?

When his glare starts to look confused, you start to feel freaked out. The last thing you need is a confrontation with a villain. Ex-villain, maybe. But still.

You dart behind your book, cheeks on fire. When you see a pair of shiny black shoes from beneath the pages, your heart almost stops.

"I beg your pardon," looking up, it's indeed Loki, and his look of bemusement hasn't dissipated. 

"I didn't mean to laugh, I was just-"

He furrows his brow, shaking a large hand in front of him. "No, no. I only meant, have we met?"

"I don't," you mean to say 'think so', but somehow the words don't feel right. "I don't know."

Parting his lips with his tongue, he almost looks panicked. What the hell?

You nearly jump out of your seat when he sits, his knees almost touching yours as he joins you in the chair to your right.

This proximity coupled with his voice is making you almost dizzy. Is it because of what he did to the city? Are you frightened?

No, you're not. Your heart is pounding though, and the weird homesick feeling you had in Washington is back. 

"Forgive me, but there's something I must see," he says, and he reaches his hand out. Cowering away slightly, you suck in a sharp breath as his cool palm flattens against your forehead.

The last thing you hear before everything goes black is him saying your name.

Chapter Text

His hands are cold, and his voice saying your name is ringing in your ears as the chair beneath you slips away, your vision consumed by darkness. 

As if you're floating in nothingness; suspended in thin air, it's like you're in a dream. A girl is crumbled at the base of the biggest tree you've ever seen, barely conscious. 

It's you.

You watch yourself speak, flabbergasted and terrified. Reaching for something. Running, running, running, before your foot hooks under an enormous root. You wince watching yourself collide with the boulder, blood spilling from your head at an alarming rate.

This is insane, you think, watching this dream. From, apparently, Loki's point of view. But it's moving too quickly for you to stop to think anything else.

You see yourself asleep in a bed, engulfed in thick, white blankets, blood stained and plastering your encrusted hair to your temple. Descending from a grand staircase, your hand gliding over a stone chimney. Asleep, peaceful, on a plushy sofa, your face glowing from the roaring fire to your right. Your own face sneering up at you, dressed in a linen gown, clutching a spear. 

The dream starts to pick up pace, and you feel your heart race as you struggle to take in the entire scene as they blur past. You're on the sofa, laughing, your head falling backwards as your hands clap together. Sitting in the crotch of a large, mossy tree, a dark red leatherback book perched in your hands, your fingers propping it up in front of your face, your feet dangling above cinnamon ferns, turning the slightest bit yellow. The forest behind you is blindingly green. 

You see yourself bundled up in furs, running your thumb over a serpent brooch, your eyes catching the gleam of emerald before the scene changes again. Beneath a woolen hood, you look worried - no - terrified, as men in armour leer behind you in a dark room.

Your breath hitches in your throat; you're lying in the biggest bed you've ever seen, gazing up at an orange sky through a window above you, and you're clearly naked beneath the thin, white sheet you clutch against your chest. You're smiling. 

Your cheeks burn when see your chest rising and falling quickly, looking more desperate than you'd ever want to see yourself, like you're inviting. Before you can shake the sight away in embarrassment, it's gone. You're looking up, your hand reaching in from of you, and you look happy. 

That look on your face was the look of someone in love.

And as quickly as it began, it ended. As if you were waking from a dream that you were falling, you feel yourself jerk into Loki's gentle grip; he had been holding your hands, and you feel the one that had been on your forehead clasp around them. Tentatively, he pushes you back gently, as if to get a better look at you.

He looks as terrified as you feel.

"Do you remember?" he whispers, his voice so low, you barely hear it. His eyes are dark, but they're searching your entire face, pleading with you.

"What are you doing to me?" You say, your voice much louder than his. This is Loki, the villain who slayed thousands in New York all of those years ago. Rehabilitated, a voice in your head sings mockingly. "What do you want with me?" you say, and you barely notice the tremor in your throat, panic rising within you. You must have said that loudly enough, because although you do notice Thor and the group of fans heads' snap in your direction, you don't acknowledge them. Your legs feel like jelly as you rise from your seat, backing against the chair, the wooden legs screeching against the laminate floor. Loki face drops, but he hasn't let go of your trembling hands, and your heart stops as he stands, towering over you.

Loki of Asgard is trying to possess you, and all you want to do is run.

Chapter Text

"Please," he begs quietly, his eyes shifting to the sides, clearly aware of his brother, now watching the both of you intently from behind Loki's shoulder, "I mean you no harm. If you would allow me to explain-"

"I don't know what you want." The words are almost pushed from your throat, you're so dumbstruck. The sincerity etched across his face is apparent, yes. And the utter strangeness you've felt these past few months is brewing inside of you; you're terrified, but you feel something else. You feel excited, like you're about to uncover a secret - if you can push past this paralyzing terror, maybe, just maybe, you'll discover it. You feel almost rushed, for time to speed up, to push past this part so that you can find it out.

But this is Loki. You're not sure what he's doing, or why, but he can't be trusted. Right?

"I-I'm sorry, but you must be mistaking me for someone else." Maybe he is being sincere. But this person he's clearly looking for? Cannot possibly be you.

How could it be? You saw yourself in those visions, but recalled none of them. It couldn't have been you. Wasn't this dude mind-controlled for almost a year? 

"I assure you," he says, his eyes more determined than ever, and you jump when his large hands grip your shoulders firmly, "you are, indeed-"

"Brother." The rumble of Thor's words, quiet enough so that the staring crowd cannot hear, but low enough to reverberate within your bones, come from behind Loki; you hadn't noticed the blonde join you. Seeing the two of them up close, it's obvious that Loki is actually quite taller than the thunder god. Something about his presence, however, calms you a bit. Loki wouldn't harm you if his brother was watching. He's an Avenger.

But isn't Loki at this point, too?

"Brother, you've found her," Thor whispers quickly, his striking blue eyes darting between Loki and you. The look on his face was not what you anticipated, or hoped for.

He looks relieved.

Your stomach drops. So, Thor is in on it? Your stomach twists in panic, but sheer curiosity is keeping your feet firmly in place. Besides, could you actually outrun these two? The Christmas lights strung snugly against the frame of the back room of the coffee shop begin to look fuzzy as your vision blurs. You try to focus on something to steady yourself; you crane your neck and your eyes land on the ivory hands still clutching your shoulders. When your head falls closer to his wrists, you smell something. 

Quick, hot tears are now the cause of your blurred vision. More confused than ever, you're struck by the familiarity of it. The gut-wrenching homesick feeling you've been consumed by is now drowning you.

What the hell is happening? 

"You're frightening her," Thor quickly realizes, shouldering past his brother. Loki's hands drop to his sides and you gasp for a breath you didn't realize you were holding, "we cannot do this here," he warns darkly.

Nodding curtly, Loki adjusts the button on his jacket, smartening himself. "Right you are, Thor." He then faces you again. "Please," he beckons quietly, his fingers elongating as he offers you his hand, "you must listen. If you would come with my brother and I-"

"You've got the wrong person," you insist, wringing your hands together in an attempt to remain present, despite panic and turmoil growing within you. "I can't possibly be who you think I am."

"You knew she wouldn't remember, Loki," Thor chides, clearly struggling to keep his voice down, "no one does. You knew once this day came, you would have to ease into-"

"Not remember what?" you cry, your heart in your throat. Unable to keep the swimming tears from falling, your face breaks and you succumb to them. "What did you just show me?"

"You just couldn't wait, could you." Thor says flatly, raising his wrist and punching something into a watch with a lit, computer screen face with a large index finger. You're hit with a wave of déjà vu, very briefly pulling you away from your panic.

"Of course I couldn't wait, Thor," Loki snarled through clenched teeth, his eyes darting towards the front entrance, "I was perfectly convinced that the magic I performed before the Undo would suffice. Are you satisfied that your precious Iron Man was right? Now what, brother?"

Squeezing your eyes shut, you're hit with the pictures behind your eyes of what Loki showed you; alarmingly green forests, pink skies, a blazing fire. Even your ears are filled briefly with the rushing sound of a swift river. It feels like you're on the edge of discovery, but not close enough. The frustration blooming in your chest fuels the tears. You're pulled from your reverie when a bell jingles; the fangirls have left, murmurs in their wake, most likely due to their hero no longer paying them any mind.

The three of you, you notice, are huddled together rather tightly, and the surreal nature of the situation dawns on you. When the brothers seem to shake themselves from the fleeting distraction of the door, Thor continues, his voice low and dark.

"We must take her to Tony," he says firmly, squaring his shoulders and straightening himself. He may not be as tall as Loki, you think, but he is most certainly more broad.

Loki lunges slightly towards his brother, and you jump back again, almost falling back into your chair. "This has nothing to do with Stark," he practically growls, and by the look on Thor's face, you can tell he was expecting this reaction.

Wait a minute. They're talking about Tony Stark. The billionaire Avenger.

"Listen," you say, holding your trembling hands in front of your chest, "I don't know why you're doing this to me, but I don't like this. I don't even live in the city, I have to leave-"

"You cannot leave," Loki says, rather briskly under his breath. You're taken aback by how vulnerable he sounds. He must be, as well; he brushes the sentiment off immediately, pretending to fasten a cuff link, clearly his throat.  "Rather, you know too much at this point. It is crucial that you follow us and meet with Stark. Precautions must be taken."

"My brother is right," Thor adds, nodding towards Loki, "believe what you'd like, but this conversation has likely compromised-"

"I don't know anything," you squeak, anxiously looking at the doorway. "I need to go home." What if Thor is being mind controlled by Loki right now? What if he saw you, sitting alone, and saw you as the perfect target? For what, you're not sure, but despite the pressing urge to satiate the curiosity, you're too uncertain to stay.

"Where is home?" Loki asks almost casually, cocking his head.

Can he read my mind? , you think, watching his eyes burn into you. It's like he knows the answer before you even think it.

Home  is what you've been looking for all of these months since being up on that summit last summer. As soon as the thought crosses your mind, you see his nostrils flare, a trace of triumph wash over him before taking a deep breath and narrowing his eyes again. It was a rhetorical question.

You don't remember a damn thing, and the visions he showed you aren't helping. You don't trust him, either. 

But you need to find out what the hell is happening.

"Fine," you concede, trying to suppress the choking feeling in your throat; you're terrified, no matter how brave of a face you're trying to pull. "I'll come with you."

"Thank the Norns," Thor says, letting out a heavy sigh. Digging into the pocket of his grey workout sweats, he pulls out a phone and walks towards the counter, ignoring the blatant stares of the baristas as his muffled voice speaks into it.

Loki is staring at you, pursing his lips. Taking a deep breath, his piercing eyes fixed on yours, you notice his entire body relax. It's obvious, no matter how stern he pretends to look. 

"Good girl." His tone is clipped and polished, and his long, tricky fingers are straightening the button on his jacket again as he strides towards his brother.

Your mouth opens slightly as he goes, and you're not sure if you're scared, offended, or completely and utterly entranced by those two simple words. Shutting your eyes tightly, you mentally shake out the dreamlike state. Your gaze falling towards the entrance, you notice them both gesturing for you to join them. They look rushed, anxious.

You hurriedly drape your bag over your shoulder after putting on your coat before hustling towards them.

"Do you trust me?" Loki asks, offering you his hand again. This time you take it, and your stomach swirls when yours touches his.

"Too late," he says when you don't answer quickly enough, pushing the door open with his forearm, leading you and Thor towards a big, black SUV. "You have no choice now." 

 

*~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~*

 

"Christ, Reindeer Games. You actually found her."

Tony Stark, billionaire-turned-Avenger, is standing in front of you, and behind him is a massive floor-to-ceiling wall of glass, where, beyond it, New York City's heartbeat ticks away. The light outside is starting to fade, and you notice a pink and orange tinge beyond the other skyscrapers in the distance. It's beautiful, both the view and the massive room you're in. You anxiously tuck your hands beneath your thighs, and the cool leather against your palms sends goosebumps up your arms.

After you stop taking in the view, Tony's words sink in.

"Wait," you say, looking between him and Loki. "You know me?"

"Well, not quite the way the Dark Lord over here does, or did," he says, shrugging a bit, "but we did meet. Briefly." 

"That can't be possible," you whisper. You'd remember if you'd met Tony freaking Stark. Or had what appears to be a romantic involvement with Loki of freaking Asgard.

"Yeah, well, according to what I thought were the limitations of quantum physics a year ago, I wouldn't have disagreed with you then.' Tony leans against a large wooden desk in front of the window, crossing his arms over his chest. He looks unbelievably smug as he tauntingly smiles at Loki. "But, fortunately, for the sake of mankind, we stretched those limits, and we knew what the consequences would be. Isn't that right, Lokes?"

"Enough, Stark," Loki warns, his hooded eyes looking venomous. "I've barely had a moment to explain, let alone explore the depths of the memories I stored-"

"Explain," you repeat back, interrupting. Tony, Loki, and Thor, famous superheros, are all staring at you, waiting for you to speak. Weird. "I like the idea of explaining. Because I have absolutely no idea what's going on. I don't remember anything."

"Of course you don't," Tony says. His foot, crossed over the other in front of him, is jiggling with what you'd assume to be nerves, but he looks as cool as a cucumber. He's speaking to you but he's looking at Loki, who looks more murderous than ever. "We knew that you wouldn't."

"You have no idea what I am capable of," Loki spits, "I knew exactly what I was doing when I stored those memories before we parted. I need time-"

Tony slams the desk with a fist. "And we found it! And everything between the Snap and the Undo NEVER happened to every single person on this earth besides all of us who went into the van, no one besides us remembers anything-"

"My MAGIC has been perfected for centuries; do you think something as mundane as time travel could alter the results of a simple memory-"

"What the hell am I supposed to remember!?" You shout, tired of their bickering. "Explain, or get me the hell out of here!"

Thor clears his throat. "Tony, let Loki tell her," he asks firmly, nodding towards his brother.

"Sure. Go for it, Dark Lord," Tony quickly agrees.

Loki looks outraged, with an etch of mock humor etched across his face. "Oh, thank you both for your permission to speak with my beloved and explain to her why she has absolutely no memory of me!" he snarls, looking between them heatedly. After a few moments of silence, Tony seems to pick up.

"We'll leave you two," he says, rising from his place on the desk before adding, "if you're comfortable being alone with this guy," he gestures towards Loki.

Gritting his teeth, Loki quickly stops and looks at you, waiting for you to say, "Actually no, I'm not. Please stay."  

But you don't. "I'm okay," you nod, both at Tony and again Thor, who's poised for the door but looking at you sternly. "I trust him."

And, for a moment, you think you actually do, when you notice the look of heartbreaking gratitude and relief on Loki's face. 

 

*~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~**~*~*~*

Once alone with Loki, he almost seems awkward, like he's eager to do something, but only reluctantly stands a few paces from the sofa you're sitting on. 

"Sit," you kindly suggest, your voice a little smaller than you'd like it to be. You move over, giving him ample room to join you.

He looks relieved, but still nervous when he sits besides you. Turning to face you, he doesn't hesitate when he reaches for both of your hands, holding them in your lap. The sudden closeness is unsettling, but he doesn't seem threatening. Quite the contrary.

"I cannot thank you enough for agreeing to listen," he says quickly, and, noticing your wandering eyes, turns his head behind his shoulder. The computers look like something out of Star Trek; you've never seen this kind of technology. Suddenly, you're struck with a question.

"Why couldn't you find me earlier?" you ask, still scanning the screens behind Tony's desk. "Aren't you superheros? I'm just a...regular person."

Loki's gaze drops to your hands, a look of disappointment weighing on his face. Your heart leaps into your throat as his thumb begins to trace over yours. "Stark's database was altered during the testing, which I shall try to explain. I also could not remember your surname, I confess." He's not looking at you, instead focused on your hands. "Thor and I spent quite a few months rebuilding Asgard here on Midgard, as well. I thought I'd find you instantly once I returned to New York. I was not anticipating the search being so...tedious."

None of this makes sense, besides the fact that this (fine, you'll admit it) gorgeous...God...villain...Avenger had been tirelessly searching for you the past few weeks.

Finally looking up, noticing how lost you must look, Loki continues. "A being of sorts named Thanos-"

"A being?" you interupt, raising your eyebrows.

"Not of this world," he corrects himself. "Thanos was a tyrant, in which he believed his ideas superior to even those more powerful than him. One idea was that by eliminating exactly half of the population on every realm, he would restore a perfect balance within the universe."

"How?" you ask slowly, leaning slightly closer, as if to hear him better would make any of this easier to comprehend. 

"Collecting a series of gemstones and using their magic," he says, still brushing his thumb against yours, not looking at your face. "About a year ago, or what feels like half a year to you, Thanos was successful."

What? "So, let me get this straight," you say, as calmly as possible, "an alien named Thanos used some magic gems and wiped out half of the world's entire population."

"Not the world," Loki corrects, raising his eyebrows, "the entire universe. There are more realms than just earth, you know. I am from one of them."

"Right," you say, and you begin to feel incredibly self-conscious when you notice your hands getting clammy. He only tightens his grip, still grazing his thumb. "but, okay, wait," you stop yourself mid-thought, trying to remember bits of what Tony had been shouting. "Something about time travel?" You're starting to kind of add something up, even though you're more confused than you want to admit. 

Loki smiles, looking pleased. "The Avengers, with my help, where able to travel back in time, destroy both Thanos and the stones, and return to the very moment before the Snap occurred."

"The Snap," you repeat back, trying to absorb this information. 

And then, despite not remembering a thing, it dawns on you.

"We met before you went back in time," you say, and Loki nods, an anxious look searching your face.

"Yes," he whispers, squeezing your hands with his. "I knew that you would not remember, so I performed a memory charm. I thought by storing our memories inside your mind, I would be able to activate them once I found you."

"I don't," you mirror his whisper apologetically. "But I have felt so strange since last summer," you add, "ever since-"

"Ever since your hike to the summit?" Loki says, looking you straight in the eyes.

Your mouth goes dry. Taking a breath feels impossible, and your attempt is shaky. "How do you know that?" you're whispering so softly, you wonder if he can hear you.

"I know everything about you," he says, so quietly that you stop breathing to listen. "You've been feeling homesick, haven't you? You just can't quite figure out for what."

"Yes," you barely push from your throat the words, and you don't try to stop the tears from falling down your cheeks.

"Stay here," he says, pulling both of your hands against his chest, dragging you closer. You gasp, but he ignores it. "Stay, and you will remember. You will love me again."

"Stay where?" Every ache you've felt since last summer is rising inside of you, as if you could choke on them.

"Right here, in New York. In the Tower."

"The Avengers Tower? But I have an apartment, a job-"

"You got those here, too," you both jump when Tony's voice booms over an intercom ringing from above you. "We'll get you all set up, kid. Plenty of room, plenty to do."

Nostrils flaring, Loki is visibly trying to calm himself down, eyes shut tightly, hands still clutching yours. Taking a deep breath, he says, "Stay. Please."

Loki Odinson of Asgard, former villain-now-Avenger, with Tony Stark's insistence, is basically begging you to move into the Tower to prove to you that you were in love. You sigh, looking into his blazing green eyes. You're instantly flooded with those same feelings; the desperate search for green, for orange skies, for something, and for a fleeting moment, staring at him, you feel like you've caught it. As soon as you have it, it's gone, and your head turns to glimpse the fiery sunset. Loki's gaze follows before turning back to you, waiting. Something is happening. You don't know what, but you're going to find out.

Besides, after how heartbroken you've felt, what have you got to lose?

Apparently, if these guys are telling the truth, only a second chance at love.

"Alright," you whisper, and you can't help but smile bashfully back when Loki's face beams back at you.

And you thought a ten-mile hike was an adventure. Wait til your coworker hears you're quitting to move in with the Avengers.

"But I still have a million questions," you warn, raising your eyebrows.

"And I finally have time to answer them," Loki replies, bringing your hands to his lips.

Chapter Text

You'd been so preoccupied by the situation, you'd barely taken a moment to take in your surroundings. The room you're in is very large and open; the windows-for-walls could make the faint of heart a little nervous if they stood too close; you're pretty high up. Craning your neck behind you, you notice a well-stocked bar with several stools. Turning back to face Loki, you can't help but blush at the mere sight of him. Incredibly tall and imposing in his chic black suit, he is very good-looking.

You look down at your lap, examining your outfit, all the way down to your footwear. How did this guy fall in love with you?

While the initial awkwardness had faded away, an unspoken tension filled the air between you and Loki. Unsure of what to do with yourself, you decide to keep asking questions. 

"So, how come you asked me if we had met, earlier in the cafe?" you ask, not meeting his eyes. Once you had agreed to stay in the Tower, Loki had relaxed tremendously. Sitting more comfortably against the plushy leather, he'd languidly draped one long arm over the arm, the other still holding your hand in his, resting against his leg. It felt incredibly strange, letting him be this intimate with you, but it seemed to soothe him. And, for the first time in half a year, you felt at ease, too. You were just still in the process of figuring out why.

"Like Thor said, I didn't want to alarm you," he replies, still tracing circles with his thumb over your upturned palm. "And I thought that your memories may be conjuring themselves after seeing me. You looked as shocked as I felt, in that moment." His voice is soft, and you've never seen his face so...blissful. Or maybe you have, you just don't remember. The room is growing darker, you notice, and the blazing sunset has dissipated, leaving only red and yellow lights twinkling against the city. 

"Loki," you say softly, and his eyes lift to meet yours and his lips part, as if hearing you say his name is the most curious thing he'd ever heard, "what happened to me? After the Snap?"

Taking a deep breath, he focuses back on your hand. "From what you'd told me, you had been wandering around a very remote part of Midgard alone for nearly a week after the Snap, which occurred during your hike with your friend. They were lost, you were not.

"You were lucky enough, or so I believe, to fall through a convergence, or a portal from one world into another. I found you on Alfheim-"

"I thought you were from Asgard?" you ask, perking up slightly. You weren't able to contribute much to this entire scenario, so it was disappointing to hear that you had been wrong about something you were sure you knew for fact.

"Ah, I am, little one," he says reassuringly, "but Asgard had been destroyed by that point by Ragnarok, caused by my sister. Alfheim is home to the Light Elves, and I have a cabin there I keep for protection and hunting. I was hiding; the entire universe thought I was dead. It was part of my plan to defeat Thanos. I found you in the forest, frightened you, and, like you saw, you nearly killed yourself while trying to run from me. I brought you home, we formed an...alliance of sorts, and we lived there together for almost half a year before my brother and the others found a way to travel back in time to prevent the Snap from happening. We parted ways after travelling back to Midgard; I knew that you would not remember me unless I intervened. I knew that you would be taken back to that very moment. Technically, the events during those months never happened. Those events were a link removed from the chain of time." He said it all so steadily, like he'd been rehearsing it in his head for months.

He has been, you realize.

"But they did happen to you," you say quietly.

In that moment, you finally believe him. His face, his eyes, are telling the truth.

"They did," he says, pursing his lips, still looking at your hand in his. 

"And during this link of time, we fell in love?"

"We did."

Humming a bit, you nod, and you hear his breath stop for just a moment when your fingers grip his. "I thought you hated humans," you say carefully, biting your lip.

"I did," he whispers.

The intensity of his answer makes you pause for a moment, your cheeks burning under his stare. Finally, you break the silence. "Why didn't you bring me with you?" The thought only just occurred to you; if you had joined him, this could have all been avoided, especially since he knew the outcome.

"I knew it would be far too dangerous; the battle against Thanos and his army was strenuous for even the most skilled with powers beyond-"

"Beyond the average human's capabilities?" you suggest lightly, giving him a meek smile.

"Yes,"  his smile doesn't quite reach his eyes; he looks apologetic. "I thought losing you to your own life would be far easier to bear than losing you in death."

Your cheeks flush again, your heart beating so loudly, you're sure he can feel it. God, why can't you remember anything? "Do you think you can help me remember?"

"That is what I wish to do, yes," he says fiercely, and you can tell that this is the part of the conversation he's been eager to reach. His eyes are on you again, searching you.

"How?"

"I have ideas," he says, "once you're settled, perhaps you can consider what I had in mind."

You quickly bring your free hand to your mouth, stifling a yawn, despite yourself. "I'm sorry," you say, not wanting to seem rude or uninterested, "I don't know why I'm so exhausted."

"You need rest," Loki says firmly, lifting himself up a bit, turning his body towards you so that your knees are touching. "This is quite a lot to process."

"Yeah," you agree, shifting awkwardly in your seat. You reach in your bag for your phone to read the time; it's surprisingly earlier than it feels. Regardless, you can't sit here all night. "I guess I'm gonna call an Uber and head back to my Airbnb for the night," you say, your lips tucking into a sheepish smile.

Loki looks like he wants to suggest otherwise, but quickly nods. "Of course, though I admit it is hard to let you go after finally finding you." There's that intense look again, but at least it's not threatening. It tugs at your heartstrings a bit, and the awkwardness of the situation creeps up. This guy is in love with you, you remember.

And in a lost string of time, you loved him, too.

"You are welcome to stay here, if you do not wish to travel after dark," he suggests lightly, as if he'd extend this courtesy to anyone. Judging by his behavior in the cafe, you think he probably wouldn't. It's funny to realize that this kindness, this vulnerability he's showing you is not in his typical social nature. No wonder this is so tense, you think. And it doesn't help I hardly know who he is.

The thought of a little space, some distance from the weight of this situation, is pulling at you pretty firmly, but the idea of being away from Loki is also giving you a bizarre sense of disquiet, as if you can feel a belt of nerves tightening in your stomach. To your surprise, Loki has a knowing look on his face, but patiently waits for you to answer. 

No, go back and sort your head out, your inner voice commands. He's good-looking and this is wild, but let's take this slow. You'll see him again soon. You'll be living here, right? "I want to, at least I think I do," you stammer a bit, tracing the cuticles on one finger with another in your lap, "but I should go. For tonight, I mean."

"Certainly," Loki nods curtly, clearing his throat. "May I escort you to the entrance?"

"Yeah, you might have to," you chuckle, lightening the mood a bit. "I may get lost otherwise."

As he rises, you still can't seem to get over how tall Loki is. "And I couldn't bear that again, now could I?" he says, regaining more of an air of swagger, his lips curling into a sly smile.


Back at your Airbnb, you pull on the coziest leggings you packed, strip down to your t-shirt, and put Netflix on for background noise. Plopping down onto the sofa, the lights dim and the hum of the bustling city beyond the tiny windows could have lulled you to sleep easily after a day of walking around the city, but your mind races, your curry takeout hardly touched on the coffee table in front of you.

So, according to the freaking Avengers, the entire universe experienced time travel. 

And before that, you fell in love with an ex-villain. A gorgeous, very intense God, and tomorrow, you'd head home to pack up and come back. For him. For answers. You may believe them, but you want to understand how Loki fell in love with you. 

Closing your eyes, you feel your brow furrow as you try to concentrate; his memories he showed you flash through your mind, and the connections all add up. The forest, the sky. Sure, it adds up, but you don't remember these memories as your own. 

Frustrated, your eyes open again, and you let out a sign of disappointment. You jump a little when your phone chimes with a text on the table, and you grab it hastily. 

Who's next, Beyonce, telling me we're cousins? you joke to yourself, scoffing a bit. Anything seems possible at this point.

Hey kid, it's Tony. Your apartment is all set. I'll email a code and floor number. Your dark prince will most likely be able to communicate the rest, but text or call any time if you have questions. 

An in this universe, Iron Man is sending you text messages. You set your phone in your lap and gently pinch your forearm. 

Okay, you're most likely not dreaming. You decide to text back immediately; the more you overthink a response, the more likely you are to not respond at all.

Thank you so much, Mr. Stark. Would you like a copy of my resume, by the way?

HA- please call me Tony. No resume required. I'm assuming you're competent enough for data entry a couple times a week. We'll talk next week. Don't get lost again!

Haha, I'll try. See you then.

Locking your phone and putting it back down besides your untouched dinner, you start to imagine your place back home, your job. Sure, it wasn't your dream situation, but they were comfortable. The devil you knew. You tried to imagine your things in one of Tony's posh apartments; you had peeked around while Loki had led you to your Uber, and you're sure you didn't see any actual living spaces, but if they were anything like the offices you walked past, they were sure to be beyond nice.

Taking in the modest, tiny space you currently occupied, you laughed quietly, almost in resolution. 

Everything is about to change, you think, and considering how miserable you've been, thank god for that.

You purse your lips into another smile, shaking your head. Not just any God.


"You got a job where?" 

Your coworker appears to be almost concerned, a look akin to pity etched across her face. A "this-girl-has-been-acting-crazy-for-six-months-and-she's-finally-cracked-and-thinks-she's-going-to-work-for-Tony-Stark" look.

You can't hold back a breathy laugh; looking at your feet, lips pressed together, you nod. "Yep. Tony Stark."

"And he just offered you a job. Randomly," she repeats back to you flatly, her eyes narrowing.

"Uh, yep," biting your lip, your eyes scan the room, praying for an interruption. Okay, so maybe you hadn't planned the explanation out very well. Quickly, you add, "It wasn't totally random. I sent in my resume while I was there on a whim, just as like, a joke. I totally didn't think anything would happen."

Her face almost comically agape, eyes deadened with disbelief, she pauses a moment before responding. Her face melts into thoughtfulness. "I guess you deserve a break," she muses, her hands and eyes going back to her work, "you haven't been right all year. No offense," she insists, holding up a hand, although her face doesn't reflect the sentiment, "but seriously. You've been bummed."

"I know," you agree absentmindedly, pulling a stray piece of lint from your pants, "I know."

Your phone pings, and your coworker eyes the glowing rectangle on the desk besides you. "I've got everything covered if you need to answer that," she offers, her lips curling into a smile. "Wouldn't want to keep Iron Man waiting. Or Captain America - wait - are you going to meet him, too?"

Shaking your head and grabbing your phone, you head for the break room. "Not sure," you call back, "but I'll paparazzi a picture for you if I do." You hear her click her tongue before you're around the corner.

The text is from Loki, and the new but familiar race in your heart picks up at the sight of his name. 

I hope your journey home is going well. It has been rather difficult being apart, and I look forward to your return. 

This isn't the first text you'd received from him since you got home, but responding hasn't gotten any less awkward. Why can't your stupid brain just remember him?

It's alright. I'm excited to come back :)

That isn't a lie; once the initial shock had sort of subsided, you were almost eager to let this new chapter of your life start. Packing your stuff had been easier than you anticipated, leaving your furniture stored in a friend's basement. 

Quickly opening up your email app, you scan through until you find the one from Stark Enterprises.

Floor 28, apartment 11. J.A.R.V.I.S. code #0612. Data entry, floor 32, Monday, Wednesday. $4,000.00 monthly salary. Beginning one week from today. 

It literally pays when a God is in love with you, you think, shaking your head and slipping your phone into your back pocket. 


"If you'd please come with us, Miss," the taller of the two suited men says, nodding towards the exit. JFK airport is packed; thankfully, these dudes are big and easy to spot in a crowd. The second one takes up the rear as you follow behind the first leading the way. 

Loki had texted you the night before, saying two security guards would be meeting you at the airport. "I would draw far too much of a crowd, and not quite like my brother," he had explained, and you weren't surprised. Loki probably isn't the most comforting Avenger to behold in a post-911 airport. 

The flight had been uneventful, but your eyes ached behind your sunglasses you hadn't removed; you had barely slept the night before. 

"I have a ton of baggage to pick up," you say, almost panicking as the guard glides right past the corridor for baggage claim.

"Not to worry, Miss," he says loudly, not stopping, "Mr. Stark already had it sent to your apartment."

Of course he did, you think, jogging a bit to keep up. The three of you are in a massive turnstile door before you know it, and a door to a black S.U.V. is being held open for you. "We'll be at the Tower in twenty minutes," he assures you as you timidly buckle yourself in.

You can only smile back before the door is firmly shut.

No going back now, you think.


 

Just as you imagined, the apartment is even nicer than you had assumed. Two sides are made up of floor to ceiling glass windows, just like in Tony's office. Cautiously, you peer about, feeling like an intruder in your new home. The midday sun shines against the marble counter in the kitchen, which you see are adorned with a top of the line espresso maker, toaster and microwave. Even the bathroom is nicer than any bathroom you've ever been in, and, noticing the lights within the mirror itself, definitely the most modern. Your eyes droop in relief upon seeing the bedroom; a massive, California king pressed against the glass wall is almost calling your name. Letting your fingers glide across the crisp, white duvet, you wriggle the backpack from your shoulders and drop it in a chair besides the dresser, when you hear a knock on the door out in the living room.

Scrambling quickly, you scurry for the knob, sure that Tony has come to make sure everything is going well. Your heart stops when Loki, looking more chic than ever, is standing on the other side.

"Welcome home," he says, lips pursed. You're both fully embarrassed and incredibly pleased to notice his eyes widen a little as he takes you in; sure, you're dead on your feet, but you had definitely made yourself look your absolute best this morning.

Letting out a breath, you laugh a bit. "Yeah," you say, opening the door wider and gesturing for him to come inside, "home."

Stepping past the threshold, you let out a high pitched squeak when Loki suddenly grabs you, one hand behind your back, the other cradling your head.

He looks like he could devour you.

"Forgive me," he whispers, and his eyes do look regretful, "but I have waited far too long for this," and your hands reach around his neck for support as his lips crash into yours, kissing you more deeply than you've ever been kissed.

In this link of time, at least.

His fingers dig into your waist, the other gripping your hair, and you're on the tips of your toes. He moans into your mouth a little when you open yours slightly, inviting his tongue as his lips move desperately, kissing you with a passion you'd only seen in his eyes. 

When he pulls away, he searches your face for a reaction, his chest falling with his breath. He almost looks victorious when your fingers curl through his hair. Sure, this is crazy, you think, but it feels good.

"I think I'm going to like it here," you say shyly, pressing your lips together as you feel your cheeks flood with heat. You can barely meet his eyes, they're blazing with intensity.

"Just wait until you truly remember, little one," he says, kissing the tip of your nose, "perhaps we could test a theory of mine."

Chapter Text

As his fingers dig deeper into your waist, you're almost positive you see a flash of red in his eyes. Panic floods your chest. "I'm sorry," you spurt out, your voice as unsteady as your feet, barely holding your weight on the tips of your toes. "I just-"

"Of course," Loki says, clearing his throat. He swiftly releases you, but holds out a hand when you falter a bit, still dazed from the kiss. "I apologize." Straightening his jacket, he looks almost angry. Or maybe ashamed, you think.

"No," you protest quietly, trying to muster an abashed smile, though your head is spinning, "don't be. It was...nice. This is all just so-"

You stop when Loki says your name. "I understand," he whispers, "I'll leave you to get settled. No doubt Stark will be here shortly to debrief you on your position here." The anger you thought you notice boiling within him seems to have subsided; maybe you had only imagined it. "I want you to be as comfortable as possible."

You release a shaky sigh, allowing your smile to meet your eyes a bit. "Thank you," you whisper back, letting your gaze drop to the floor. This is so intense, you think, wishing it was easier. The kiss was undeniably wonderful, but your nerves are currently getting the best of you.

You jolt where you stand when a little buzz sounds near the door, but Loki just raises his eyebrows and leans towards it, pressing his index finger to it as it lights up against his touch. With a whoosh, the door hisses open, and Tony is standing on the other side.

"You made it!" he exclaims, both hands enthusiastically gesturing around, but halts abruptly when he notices Loki, who looks venomous again. "And I see you already have company; am I interrupting a private house warming?" he asks, a look of mock-concern washed across his face, eyeing Loki. You haven't missed their banter - it's not exactly subtle - and you're still trying to decide if it's playful or not.

"I was just leaving," Loki says mechanically, and he turns his upper half in your direction, "I will see you later," and without another word, shoulders past Tony, who spins on the spot to watch him go.

Turning back to face you, Tony's wide eyes narrow in on you. "You okay?" he asks, and you feel your body relax as the door hisses shut.

Words spill out of your mouth. "I don't know, I hope he's not angry, I just still can't remember anything, and I-"

"I know," Tony says quietly, putting two hands on your shoulders. You feel yourself slump, embarrassed that he immediately picked up on your borderline-hysteria. "Honestly, kid, I can't believe you agreed to this at all." 

"Why?" you whisper, searching his face frantically. You're not used to feeling this unhinged, and you're not happy about the state you've been in for half a year finally unraveling in front of Iron Man himself. "Should I have said no?"

"No, that's not what I meant," he assures quickly, releasing your shoulders and stepping back, now casually taking in the apartment. "Loki just, ya know, doesn't have the best reputation. Or people skills," he adds, giving you a well, c'mon kind of look. "Do you have everything you need?" he asks, still cocking his head and surveying the room, now filled with beaming white sunlight, accentuating the pristine, white walls and sleek, stainless steel columns placed here and there. 

"I haven't had a chance to look around yet, but it's beautiful. I'm sure I'll be fine," you reply, mimicking his movements as you start to take it all in, too.

"I know this is fucking crazy," your eyebrows raise at the choice words he's selected, and he waves them off, "but you really did something to him. In a good way. We're working on finding a way to clear all of this up."

You feel yourself slip into a reverie as you remember the Star Trek-esque computer systems in Tony's office, remembering that sliver of advanced technology this guy has access to. They were able to send the entire universe into a different time. You considered yourself intelligent, but wrapping your head around that, that was too much. Shaking yourself from your thoughts, you nod. "I want answers, too. I can't remember anything, but the past six months," you say, trailing off a bit, "the past six months have been so strange."

Tony nods, his eyes widening in that mad scientist way. "Yes," he says, stepping back towards you, "and that's why, although I hate to admit it to him, I know his crazy hat trick must have worked somehow. It affected you." Pointing to your temple, he continues. "I don't know how to get in there," he says, gently tapping on the side of your head, "or what the consequences will be, but we'll figure it out. And we'll keep you safe."

"Consequences?" you ask quietly, head reeling even worse than it had been.

"Look, everything's gonna be fine," he gives your shoulder another squeeze before letting his hand fall. "We're just in the experimental phase; combining godly magic and technology. I emailed you some deets on work; we just need some basic help repairing our database. Lots of typing, lots of screens." Looking at Tony's face, you feel like you're floating in a dream. All of this is so surreal, you think, and you reach for one of the black leather club chairs closest to you. Noticing your state, he says, "You'll get used to it," and as he heads towards the door, he yells back, his finger already pressed against the lit-up button, "you did in one universe, right?"

 


After Tony left, you decided that some very needed alone time was in order, and you set to unpacking. The apartment was equipped with plenty of essentials; state of the art kitchen appliances and dinnerware you're sure cost more than a month's rent back home. Tony had even left a company credit card pinned to the fridge for groceries and had an assistant stock up before you'd arrived.

This was how famous superheros lived, not you. 

Even the tea kettle made a pleasant sort of whistle, and you couldn't help but smile when it called you back to the kitchen. Inhaling deeply into the tea tin you'd brought from home, the smell comforted you amidst your new surroundings, a quaint feeling buzzing through your very modern backdrop. Despite it looking very out of place atop the marble counter, you nodded purposefully as you placed it next to the stove, determined to make things as cozy as possible to offset the sterile nature you were up against. 

Once your belongings - just your clothes, toiletries, and a few trinkets here and there - were carefully placed and put away, you collapsed into the sofa. Suddenly noting the blanket of darkness outside, little orbs peppered against the cityscape, you realized you'd never turned on lights, yet a soft glow emitted from the recessed lighting above you. Fancy, you think, remembering the entire building is essentially alive - well, as alive as A.I. can be. 

"J.A.R.V.I.S.?" you call out apprehensively, your eyes searching, despite knowing the omnipresent system didn't have a face. "How do I turn off the lights?"

"Good evening, Miss. Just ask, and I will adjust the lighting to your liking."

The voice was nice, almost salubrious, and it somehow made you feel lonely. "Thanks, J.A.R.V.I.S."

"Certainly."

The familiar feeling you had grown used to was creeping it's way into the evening; the homesick feeling, and you almost balk at yourself when you absentmindedly reach for your phone on the glass-faced coffee table in front of you.

You were going to text Loki, without evening thinking twice about it. One part of your brain knew you were about to reach out to him, abashed that you would do that, and somehow knew you were without consulting it first. You don't want to look desperate, the outraged half says. Desperate? He's in love with you and that's why you're here! the other half practically screams, and you bury your face in your hands. 

When your phone vibrates loudly against the glass, your heart is in your throat by the time you read the notification. It looks like your dueling brain won't have to pick a side.

I am thinking of you, as well.

A shiver rushes up your spine at the words, and, barely able to swallow, you swear you feel a strange tingle against your temple. Shaking it off, you remember that he is a god. 

You try to think of something to respond with, but nothing comes to you.

 

Sleep does not come easily your first night in the tower, and you feel almost betrayed at your body for seeming to have some sort of muscle memory, your legs wanting to leap from your bed and head elsewhere on their own accord. Homesick, as badly as it ached, you could live with. Feeling this out of control of your own movements and actions was unsettling, and you think you start to hear birds when you finally fall asleep, a dim light barely pooling into the room through the glass wall behind you.

 


 

"This is primitive," you say flatly, looking at the enormous stack of papers Darcy plops on your desk, although your tone is good-natured. Her plump lips pull into a knowing smile, the red lipstick stark against her clear, milky skin. "It's hard to imagine actual paperwork occurring in a Stark operation."

"Yeah, well, science is mostly minions like us doing all the work, believe it or not," she collapses into a spinning chair against the window, letting her head fall back. "Underpaid minions."

"Don't you live in the tower, too?" Surely Darcy has to have an equal, if not greater stipend than you do. She's been working for a famous astrophysicist for years, coming to work for Tony after the Snap-undo while Jane was with Thor on New Asgard.

"Yeah, but I didn't always have it this cushy," she says, drumming her palms on the arms of the chair, "I should probably ask for retro pay for my years of suffering. I'm kinda surprised you have to do this, actually. Aren't you Loki's girlfriend? Ah," she says, pointing a finger at you, "maybe this is Tony's idea of getting to Loki, although that seems really unfair to you-"

"I'm not really his girlfriend," you correct her, smiling to offset any rigidness. "It's super complicated-"

"Oh, that's right. Something to do with before the Snap?" Nodding, she shrugs, shaking her head. "I know everything, actually, I was just looking for a way to bring it up. Thor made Jane, who made me, promise not to like, bug you with a million questions, but yeah," she says, smiling. "Must be crazy, right? At least Loki's good-looking," digging through her purse, she squeals a little when she draws out a lollipop, unwrapping it. "Sorry if that's weird to say, but everything must feel weird right now, right?"

You smile, appreciative for the relaxed attitude around the entire thing. Everything had felt so heavy recently, but talking to Darcy felt natural. "It's all very weird, but I haven't really been right since it happened, so I'm looking forward to figuring out why," you shrug.

"You don't remember anything?" she asks, tapping the lollipop against her mouth. 

"Nope," you say, and you're starting to get sick of this question, although you know she meant it mostly rhetorically. 

Tony's asked you to manually correct or reenter as many U.S. citizens as possible into an updated system, which apparently had been fried in the Snap undo. Apparently, a few thousand people who disappeared also were wiped from the system, even a few who survived, and undoing it didn't fix the systems. Absentmindedly skimming through the pages, a thought occurs to you. "Darcy, you don't remember anything about the Snap?"

"Nope," she says, "obviously Tony and everyone had to tell some of us about it, like, people who work for him and the other Avengers who were lost. But I had to practically sign my life away; it's top-secret. The media can't know, no one can know. It's crazy."

"Yeah, I had to sign stuff, too," you say distantly, plucking at the first sheet in the stack.

Darcy scrambles in her seat, straightening herself. "Uh, hi," she says in a high-pitched voice, and your eyes are met with Loki's when you turn to see the source of her reaction. "I was just on my way out," and she raises her eyebrows and offers you a smile as she squeezes past him, comically pressing herself up against the wall to keep her distance. You fight to repress a chuckle; her inability to take anything too seriously is a welcome relief.

Loki eyes her, his face hardly suppressing a small smile. "Thank you, Miss Lewis," he says, and waits for the door to close behind her before turning to face you. You blush a little upon noticing the drinks in his hands; one is clearly for you, and he extends it in your direction. "I thought, perhaps, a midday distraction from this mundane task might be welcomed," he says. Noticing the Sharpie written on the side, you see that it's your favorite.

"Thank you. Loki, how did you know-" but you stop yourself, Loki only raising his eyebrows dramatically. Of course he knows.

"I could not, for the life of me, recall your surname," he laments, "but hearing you, day after day, beg the Norns for this drink and this drink alone; the number of times I heard you speak of it, I could not count them if I tried." Taking a sip, you're unsure of what to say. It's still so weird that he spent half a year alone with you; you're starting to feel almost resentful that you're on the other end, unable to recall even a distant memory. "I've come to offer a suggestion; an idea I've had," he says, watching you carefully from the seat Darcy had only just left as he crosses a long leg over the other.

"Shoot," you say, and when he narrows his eyes, you correct yourself. "I mean, yes, I'm listening." 

"I thought it would be only appropriate, that during your time here while we're trying to uncover your memories, or rather, enmesh two timelines, that I court you. Properly court you." He looks almost business-like, his shoulders square and his perfect jawline tight, but his eyes give him away. They're pleading with you, and you watch his thumb trace the rim of his coffee lid. Even gods fidget, you think, and your heart swells a little, seeing him seem so...human.

Heat rises in your cheeks again, and you fail to hide a bashful smile, more out of awkwardness than anything, your unfortunate primary emotion recently. "What would that entail?"

Adjusting himself a bit, his eyes meet yours, and your heart skips again when he says your name, his voice low and like gravel. "I was a prince on Asgard. I am not familiar with Midgardian romance, save for a few of your most excelled poets. I am used to getting what I want."

Holding your breath, you notice your eyes widen as you wait for him to finish.

"I am willing to show you," he says, his voice a little louder, "I am determined to make you fall in love with me in this dimension, whether we retrieve your memories or not." His lips are pursed, his expression almost looks challenging, like he's suggesting a trial by combat. "I am convinced that the more time we are around each other, the more relaxed you become with me, the more likely it is that they will be uncovered naturally."

Nodding, you muster a diffident smile. "I would like that," you say, and although you know you sound unsure, you mean it. Sure, you feel confused as hell every time you speak to Loki, but the unquestionable draw you feel for him, that part of your heart is sighing in relief. 

Loki looks relieved too, and he inhales deeply before speaking again. "I would also like, when you are comfortable with the idea, to bring you to my cabin on Álfheim, where we lived. I think going there will help tremendously. Stark isn't too pleased at the idea of an unchaperoned trip," he almost spits, "something about 'personnel protocol', but I believe, in time, it will be possible."

Biting your lip, you make sure to nod again, vigorously, to prove your desire to join him, no matter how anxious the thought makes you. "Okay," you add meekly, angry at yourself for being so dumbstruck around him. Laughing lightly, you pluck at the rim of your mug. "I'm sorry I've been so awkward," you say, deciding to be more transparent. "Are you sure you can love this universes' version of me? I feel more at a loss than ever." You mean to sound lighthearted, to joke a bit, but the sadness in his eyes says he didn't take it that way.

"I fell in love with you," he implores, and your breath hitches in your throat when he drags his chair towards you, grasping for your free hand not holding your drink. "That was you, just in a different circumstance," his green eyes are searching yours, as if he's trying to help you see what he sees. "You were defiant, and brave, and you made me laugh, and you trusted me, when no one in the entire universe would. You appreciate even the slightest bit of beauty and magic overlooked by entire realms, and you made me appreciate it, too. I love you."

In this moment, you're determined, too. You're going to help them uncover your memories, no matter what it takes. In a moment of boldness, you quickly suggest, "Do you want to have dinner with me tonight?"

Narrowing his eyes a bit, Loki lips twitch, hiding a smile. "I admitted my lack of experience with Midgardian romance, yes, but I was under the impression that I ought to be the one asking you that, little one."

Shrugging, you almost start to feel a bit relaxed; making even a bit of a brazen move makes you feel a little bit more in control of your life. A little more yourself. "Hey, it's 2019. Anything is possible when it comes to dating."


 

"You don't eat fries with a fork, Loki, here," plucking the silverware from his long, ivory fingers, the fork makes a little clinking sound when you drop it into his kitchen sink, and you replace it with a linen napkin next to his plate. "Just pick one up with your fingers and dip it into the ketchup." Grabbing a couple off of your own plate, you raise your eyebrows in mock-surprise. "I still cannot believe you've never tried fries. What do the gods eat in Asgard?"

"Based on my experience with Stark, it still baffles me that even the most elite mortals consider this tuberous root crop a delicacy," he says, his words dripping with pretend annoyance, which you quickly picked up on as a funny quirk of his; hiding amusement with impatience.

You're hardly noticing how natural this feels; the evening started off with almost comical bickering over where to eat, each place he chose far too posh for your taste, yours too casual. "I'm courting you, I cannot take you to some rundown, low-life slum," he had protested while you stood outside of a niche-y looking diner. It was almost endearing, had you not started to get truly hungry, so when you suggested takeout and eating back at his apartment, he looked almost smug at the idea. You felt much more at ease, tromping around the city with the gorgeous god towering over you. It was a bit hard to ignore the stares, he was still Loki of Asgard. You noticed the way he leaned closer to you when you caught the eye of another man, the possessive way his arms flung to your waist, steering you in the other direction. The careful way he watched you step off curbs, almost waiting for you to trip and fall. Instead of feeling awkward, it added to the flow you felt the two of you had with an actual mission in mind. After you had talked him into 'classic, American cuisine', and much to his chagrin, carried the bag of food yourself back to the Tower, you had felt almost excited to see his apartment. 

Smirking at the look of poorly-hidden disgust on his face, you push your plate away. "I'm done, anyways. You can use your forsaken fork after I leave," you tease, scraping your leftover back into the little takeout box.

"Ah, the forsaken tool of sophistication, you mean," he teases back before shoveling fries into his mouth with his fingers.

"Not so sophisticated now, huh?" You pretend not to notice Loki's eyes burning into you when you wash your dishes, not wanting to become too awkward again. Turning to face him, you lean against the sink with your arms back, trying that method you heard of once. If you want to omit confidence, make your stance say so. Maybe by not curling into yourself in your chair, you can at least pretend to not have impostor syndrome. 

Loki's face sobers a bit, urging you to stand tall even more. "Tell me this does not feel familiar," he says quietly, gesturing for you to join him again. Taking his hand, you decide to roll with this easiness, sitting next to him.

"It does," you admit, shifting in your seat. Eyeing him in his signature black suit, you ask, "Aren't you warm? Or a bit, I don't know, stiff, wearing that suit?"

A very noticeable gleam in Loki's eye appears, and he cocks his head in surprise. "I should at least remove my coat; is that what you're suggesting, pet?" Releasing himself from your hands, he shimmies out of the jacket languidly, tossing it on a neighboring chair. Cuffing up his sleeves, he eases back. “Is this comfortable enough?” 

“Much better,” you muse. After a moment of silence, him eyeing you intently, you ask, “So, how much did I know about you? Before, I mean.”

Loki considers you, and almost looks regretful. “I have been alive for centuries. To tell you everything about me would certainly take a lifetime.”

You notice yourself have an ‘ah-ha’ moment. “How can you be in love with someone you don’t know?” you chide. Why you feel the need to contradict him, you're not sure. Probably because this seems so unreal still. The way you've coasted along since arriving is not lost to you, like you're almost dreaming.

“We lived together,” he says, edging closer to you on his chair and leaning towards you. “Our idiosyncrasies, our habits - all of the ordinary ticks about someone, you observed. And you loved me all the same.”

You look at his face, observing how stunning he truly is. His black curls hung against his shoulders, tucked behind each ear. “I want to know you,” you admit, fingering the side seam of your pants. “Tell me something.”

Loki chuckles. “I caused a great deal of mischief in my youth. I once made my brother Thor vanish for an entire week and convinced the entire realm he was missing. Only when my mother became truly distraught did I recover him.”

Eyes wise, you grin widely. “Where did you put him?”

“On Midgard, actually,” he says lightly, “I think a week in a boarding school may have taught him a lesson in discipline he was in desperate need of.”

Laughing, you try to keep him talking. “Were you close to your mother?" you ask apprehensively.

Loki fails to hide it when his face drops at your question. Clearly his throat, he swirls his wine glass around absentmindedly. “We were close. She taught me magic and was perhaps too patient with my antics. I loved her, and I miss her terribly. But she was not my mother.”

Furrowing your brows, you ask quietly, “What do you mean?”

”I am Jötunn,” he says, drawing himself up a bit. “I was born a frost giant before the Allfather found me as an infant and decided to raise me on Asgard. I believe it was a political tactic, but Frigga raised me as her own.”

”So, Thor isn’t your blood brother?” Now this is getting real, you think. 

“No. Although, the great oaf has always been particularly sentimental; my questionable heritage never seemed to bother him.”

“Why is being a...Jötunn, or what ever, 'questionable'?” you ask with air quotes, skepticism evident in your tone. 

”Asgardians view them as monsters of sorts,” he says, and you notice his lips purse in a sort of haughtiness. Clearly, this is a difficult subject to talk about. An overwhelming sense of gratitude washes over you; it’s obvious he wouldn’t share this with just anyone.

”Isn’t that a little, I don’t know, racist?” you ask, crinkling your nose. 

Loki chuckles again, looking at you curiously. “I suppose so,” he muses. “It does not bother you, it seems.”

”Not at all,” you say quickly, shaking your head. 

He laughs, and this time, it isn’t just polite chuckle; he looks young, and his eyes smile with him. 

“What’s so funny?” you ask, your own smile faltering only fraction. Did you say something stupid?

Studying your face, he says, “It's endearing, your innocence about certain things. It's almost-"

"Simple?" you ask shyly, but your expression drops when you notice Loki's mouth open slightly. He looks shaken, and only purses his lips in protest of himself when his eyes pool with tears. Blinking them back, he gathers himself a bit. "I just mean," you continue carefully, "you know. A simple mortal."

"No, that is not what I meant," he whispers, his voice pregnant with emotion.

Your feel like your body is acting on it's own accord again when you place your glass on the table, inching towards him so that your knees are touching. He looks slightly alarmed, waiting to see what you're about to do. You barely know what you're about to do when you brazenly peer into his face, imagining yourself in that very moment kissing him. He only pulls back a fraction of an inch when you reach to cup his jaw with your hand, like you saw yourself do in his memory. Staring into his eyes, you feel your mind abruptly go blank. You only vaguely feel yourself go limp, Loki not missing a beat when his arm cradles you from falling out of your chair.

And it's like you're in a lucid dream, aware of it all but unable to wake up. You feel like you're floating again, but this time, instead of nothingness, it's in a loud, rushing river. A riparian zone of lush, green ferns and moss engulf the river you're in, and you notice it's not water suspending you. It's gold, and it's thick like honey, rich and gleaming against your skin.

When your eyes snap open, Loki is looking at you with an increasingly worried look on his face, calling your name. "What's happened? What did you see?" he asks, shaking you slightly.

There's a word flashing through your mind; you've never heard it before, you're not even sure how you would spell it, but it's ringing in your ears, and you almost think you can still feel the thickness of the gold keeping you afloat. "Loki," you ask, trying to regain yourself a little but allowing him to hold you still, "do you know what 'Gullwood' is?" 

Chapter Text

“Tell me one more time.” Loki had prodded, practically shaken you, asking you to retell the dream-like vision you had experienced at his breakfast bar for the third time.


“Like I said,” you began patiently, stopping to take a deep breath, “I was in a river, but it wasn’t water. It was some sort of…gold. And there were ferns everywhere- “


“And the word; did someone speak it?” he was still holding you around the middle, hand splayed across your back.


“It just popped into my head the second I came to,” you replied, trying to find the courage to hold his gaze. You thought you had seen Loki intense before. This was fervid behavior as he scanned your entire face, almost hoping to find the scene etched out across your cheeks. “So, it’s a real word?”


“Yes,” he said instantly, letting his eyes drop somewhere around your shoulder, lost in thought. “They are a tree species on Asgard; my cabin on Alfhiem, the trim…” he trailed off, still looking at something that wasn’t there. “You took to it, when we were there,” he continued, finding your eyes again. “I think you rather enjoyed the way it looked. They look like they’ve been lacquered with gold, you see.”


You furrowed your brow, your sudden confusion dominating any sort of discomfort. “Why would that be something I remember? That seems so, I don’t know. Insignificant.”

“But you don’t remember the Gullwood?” he asked.


Your heart sank a bit. “No,” you said, crestfallen at the realization.


Loki nodded, unsurprised by your answer. “The river you saw was most likely the same one I fished on, no doubt. It was no coincidence; we spent many hours there. It may be my memories that I stored in you being activated, or perhaps my presence is stirring something within you.” Sighing, he releases you, allowing you to edge back onto your seat. “It is a start, nonetheless.”


“I want to remember,” you say fiercely. Frustration was rising in your chest, “I’ve been so unhappy,” you whisper, and you hear him gasp quietly when you abruptly let your hands grip either side of his now unbuttoned collar, “I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like myself again if I don’t remember.” You gently tug at his shirt, as if hidden beneath it are your memories.  

He seems to be absorbing your emotion, and a sudden hunger flickered in Loki’s eyes. You tense a little when his grip around your waist tightens. “It is growing increasingly difficult,” he purrs, almost more of a growl, “to be in your presence again without being able to touch you.” The growl lowers so drastically you feel it reverberating between your legs, and your cheeks heat when your hips rock a little, your body eager to respond. The motion does not go unnoticed by him, and his nose crinkles when he smiles; it’s far more wolf-like, baring his teeth at prey. 

“You can,” you say quietly, not sure if the tears are forming from uncertainty or relief, and the thick wave of wine and mint and ice engulfs your senses when his lips slowly find yours, parting languidly against you. It’s hard to focus, to remain present, you notice; his quick hands travel to the base of your neck, gripping your hair firmly to expose enough of it to lap just beneath your jawline. Unsure of what to do with your hands, waves of pleasure crash through you when he moans when they finally find his curls. His lips feel like heaven, firm and pleading and soft and careful all at once. You whimper a bit when he picks you up by the waist, placing you on your back against the cool, marble counter. You notice the hanging lights above you are dimmer as his lips find your neck again.

When his hands start to pull your shirt up, nerves belt your stomach, and you grab his wrist. “Stop,” you say, your voice clipped. The thought of being so exposed to him, so unceremoniously here in his kitchen, triggers diffidence that clouds over the blissful way he’s making you feel. You can’t help it, even as his face falls as he hovers above you. “I’m sorry,” you stammer, edging back on your elbows a bit, “I just- “

“Would prefer this did not happen so soon, and in such a hurried manner. Of course,” he says gruffly, pushing himself off the surface and standing before offering you a hand.

“I’m sorry,” you repeat, your voice small. You tuck a strand of hair behind your ear and feel your shoulders slump under his gaze. “this is just, I don’t know. It’s still hard to believe you want…” trailing off, you look down at yourself, before examining him again, a distorted look of confusion furrowing your brow.

“But I do,” he cries ardently, and you see the moment he wants to lunge at you again, but he reigns himself in. “The only reason I came back to this forsaken tower was to find you again.” His chest is rising and falling quickly, but he’s frozen in place.

The mood has dissipated, and you cock your head, giving him a confused look. “What would you be doing if I never existed? Where would you rather be?” Goosebumps prick your arms; Loki’s apartment is cold.

“Repairing Asgard,” he says, puffing his chest out a bit. He seems to brim with a purposeful pride and the idea. “It is in ruins, but it is still there. Our people are safe on Midgard, but we do not belong here- “

“But don’t I belong here?” you interject. “Where is my place in all of this?”

Loki pauses for a moment, his lips parting slightly, but he recovers quickly. “We spoke of returning to Asgard, together. I promised you I would take you there. But I suppose that was when Midgard was also destroyed. Perhaps now you have reason to want to remain here.”

“I have no reason for anything right now,” you cry. He looks at you carefully, waiting for you to continue. “Before…the Snap, I guess - everything before that day I went hiking - things felt pretty stable for me,” you say, “normal, you know? But there was a moment up there when something inside of me broke.” At these words, Loki practically winces, like you just mentally slapped him. “No, I didn’t mean it like that,” you shake your head, dragging a hand across your forehead, “but when you put those memories inside of me, or performed that magic, my life has felt empty. Friends, work, family, hobbies; none of it has mattered. I hate it,” you say, allowing your voice to falter.

He’s still looking at you cautiously, like you’re about to do something dangerous. After a moment of silence, he says, “And being with me, in my presence, those feelings are still within you?”

Your head falls, and you focus on your fingers twisting themselves together. “Kind of,” you admit, your heart beating too fast, trying to push you through the discomfort of this conversation. “Everything comes in intense waves,” you say. “I don’t know who I am or what I want anymore. Nothing makes sense. I don’t even understand any of this, on a logical level. Are there, or were there, two of me? Are there infinite versions of me? In an infinite number of timelines? How can our memories exist within us if that timeline we were in together was ‘removed from the link of time’, or whatever? And why could I only see things through your perspective?”, you’re crying now, and though he remains frozen in place, solid as a statue, you see the wheels in his mind start to turn, and you go on. “You’re a god! You’re an Avenger! You time traveled! Help me become me again!” Hot tears stream down your face, and you don’t hesitate when your feet find the floor, walking towards the sweater draped over a chair in the living room. Loki looks paler than ever as you stalk past him.

As you hastily pull it over your head, adjusting it around yourself, you hear him call out from the kitchen. “There is only one version of you, just like there is only one version of me,” he says firmly, and you turn to face him. Slowly, he walks towards you, his face like stone, and your heart rate picks up again. “Time is a circle, little one,” he says, his voice thick with something you can’t pinpoint. Is it anger? “Everything is happening to you all at once, every possible outcome. This body you stand in,” you jump a little when his fingers find your chin, gripping it firmly, “is the very same body I had under my command, which you begged for,” your cheeks are on fire, and the tension coiling inside of your belly flares. The familiar terror he’s spurring in you is there, but your arousal is undeniable, and you squirm a bit. “I am capable of madness, of horror,” he bares his teeth again, eyes blazing, “and I am also capable of what you mortals would call ‘miracles’, of wonder, of the impossible. I have been patient with you; I can smell your fear, your apprehension. But if you want my help, darling, you must surrender yourself to me. Your body, the very same body I’ve had, certainly wants to,” you tremble at his words, their precision, making you recoil in embarrassment, “now if only your pretty little head would do the same.”

Loki had been patient, you realize. He had been cautious, wary.

This was somehow the Loki you felt you knew. Déjà vu, a sensation you were beginning to almost regularly expect, struck you - pressed up against a tree in a dark forest, sitting in front of him, a fireplace ablaze, lighting up his silhouette - it was all happening at once in your mind, even if it was just an instant. And even if you didn’t fully recognize those sensations, those images, you knew that they happened. That you lived them.

“I sense your shame, as well,” he says, and the firm grip loosens, his knuckles grazing your cheek. “As if I do not crave just to look at you; as if my hands do not burn with the desire to touch you everywhere.” His breath is hot against your ear has he cups the base of your head. You unwillingly let out a whine when he abruptly releases you, stepping away slightly. “But prince or no prince, I do not take what is not mine,” he says, and he turns to usher you towards the door. “I am not patient, but time is much more disposable to the immortal.”

“Wait!” you cry, and a complacent grin creeps up on his face, quickly turning to a wry look of concern.

“Yes, mortal?” Déjà vu again, and you kind of want to slap the smug look off his face as he folds his arms across his chest, waiting for you to continue. Stupid, beautiful god.

“I want- “, you hesitant, trying desperately to suppress the raging self-consciousness flooding within you. “I want you to, uh. I want you to…” Yes, you want him to touch you, yes, you want to kiss him again. It isn’t a lack of desire. You want him to take the wheel again and devour you – shyness be damned.

He takes a step back towards you, eyes burning into yours. “Say the word, pet,” he growls, his voice a guttural.

“Take me,” you whisper, trying to ignore how desperate you sound.

“Manners, little mortal,” he coos, one hand splayed against the small of your back, pressing you against himself.

“Please,” you whisper, craning your head up, letting your lips part, beckoning him to kiss you again.

“Very good,” he praises, and your arms cross behind his neck as he kisses you wildly, and the self-consciousness is left in the foyer as he lifts you, your legs wrapping around his middle as he holds your thighs, his lips not leaving yours as he carries you back to his bedroom.

You barely notice as he lowers you against his bed, which has the same cool, white blankets as yours. The soft lights are just bright enough to illuminate your surroundings, but all you notice is him. If he was collected before, he’s rushed now. Quickly, he removes your boots, and they thud to the floor when he throws them over his shoulder. You’re panting, watching him unbutton his black shirt, stark against his pale form, which is perfect. Each muscle carved out, flexing as he tugs at your jeans, pulling them down your legs. His eyes look mad, almost triumphant as they travel between your legs, where you feel the noticeable pool of arousal, making your underwear cling to your center. As he unbuckles his belt, you pull your sweater and shirt over your head, letting it slip quietly to the floor.

He’s hovering over you again, his palms on either side of your head, and he doesn’t bother to stifle a moan when you wrap your legs around him, pulling him against you. You notice him heavy against your thigh, and your hips buck forward, trying to create some sort of friction - anything - to give you some relief. He chuckles darkly into your mouth, each hand cupping your breasts, and your back arches in encouragement. His hands are large enough to almost touch his fingers together when he grips your waist, lowering himself to kiss your stomach, your hip bones, and you tense a little when they reach your thighs. Painfully slow, he drags his lips over them, and you gasp when he bites down gently, scraping his teeth. Melting into the sheets beneath you, you cry out when his thumb presses into you, already slick with wanting.

“Your body has missed me,” he says, his voice throaty and low. “And such a shame, how long you’ve denied it my touch.” You cry out again, hands flinging to his head when his mouth finds your bud, his thumb now replaced with two long, tricky fingers. You can’t tell which is in control; his tongue or your hands – he seems to know exactly which way to work himself, so that every movement is perfect, exactly what you need.

“Please,” you beg, his icy tongue against your heat is perfect, and you feel him chuckle when you collapse after your buildup, your eyes rolling back as you cave in on yourself. Images flash through your mind; a skylight above you, snow falling against an orange sky. Loki above you, a familiar, crazed look as he stares down at you, shirtless and damp with sweat. They’re gone when your eyes open again, Loki’s mouth finding yours. Tasting yourself on his lubricious lips fuels your hunger for him all over again, and he grunts into your mouth in response when you reach between his legs, positioning him against you. He doesn’t hesitate when he thrusts, sheathing himself inside of you the moment you adjust him in place, and you hear an unrecognizable roar released from your throat as he goes as deep as he can before pulling out again, kissing you fiercely.

His hand tucks underneath of you, cupping your bottom as he positions you, his angle deepening. His pace increases, and you kiss him back, your hands gripping either side of his face, like holding on will keep you from falling. Pressing himself up, he grips your waist, letting his eyes travel from your face to your navel. You ignite with pleasure at how exultant he looks.

“Say my name,” he commands, pulling one of your legs up to angle himself even deeper. His voice will send you over the edge again, you know it, so you wait for him to repeat himself. “Say my name, little mortal.”

“Loki,” you whimper, gripping the sheets besides your head. “Loki, please.”

“Beg me to mark you as mine,” he growls, and you’re so painfully close, you inch yourself against him as much as you can as he pummels into you.

“I am yours, Loki,” you cry, “keep talking,” you beg, “it’s going to make me come again.”

“Come for me, little one,” he says, letting his hands prop himself up as he lowers himself, his face inches from yours. “Now.”

You do, and you unravel against him as you feel him pulsate, following your finish. Breathlessly, he kisses you hurriedly, moaning with his last few pumps. He collapses, rolling over onto his back and dragging you into the crook of his arm.

“Valhalla.” The word slips from your mouth against your will. Somehow, it still feels right. Déjà vu is the new normal, you think. As your leg drapes over him, you notice the contentment settling within you. Thinking back to your outburst, you realize it's the most passionate you've felt about anything all year. Right where you are feels like where you belong, and you nuzzle against Loki, thankful for it.

Laughing gently, Loki’s free hand strokes your hair, the other cradling you against his chest. “Indeed, my love,” he says lazily. “Damn Stark and damn your cover-up job; I am taking you to Alfheim.”

“When?” you whisper, and you feel your mind push itself a little, trying to recall the images of this world you supposedly know.

“Soon, if Stark doesn’t hurry with a solution to this. If he does not quickly, I have better ideas.” He wiggles a bit into the bed, getting comfortable.

“Like what?”

“The Light Elves are experts at seiðr,” he sighs, and you relax against him, your eyes heavy. “If anyone can help us, it’s them.”


 

You sleep deeper and more soundly than you have in months and waking up to Loki’s touch finds you more brazen than the night before. Abandoning all insecurities, he looks almost proud of you when you climb on top of him, letting the morning light fall against your chest as you ride him until you both finish. It’s quieter and gentler, and you can’t help but be impressed by his remarkable intuition; when his thumb circles against your clit, you rest a hand against his chest, keeping yourself on him as you succumb to your orgasm. You find yourself adoring this post-sex Loki; he laughs easily, and a mischievous air to him you know he’s notorious for is apparent. Not glowering or moody, but more like a prince, you imagine.

Pulling your shirt over your head and digging in his drawers for a pair of boxers, he looks pleased with himself as your feet patter against the tiled floor, holding your head up as you greet him in the kitchen. You smell coffee, good coffee, and you plop yourself down into one of the bar stools.

“I remember all too well your affinity for caffeine in the morning,” he says with his back turned, busy with creamer and a spoon. “I take it you like your coffee like your tea.”

“Are you ever wrong, Loki?” you ask playfully, stretching your arms above your head.

“Not often, no,” he says, smiling as he places a mug in front of you. The heat feels wonderful as you cup it with both hands. A thought pops into your head as you shiver a bit. “Do you keep it cold in here because Asgard is colder than earth, or something?”

“I am a frost giant, my love,” he says, bringing his own mug to his lips. “This feels rather natural, although I am rather partial to the warm sun within the gardens of Asgard.” He looks like he’s in a little reverie, perhaps trying to feel what he’d just described.

“You really miss it, huh?” You ask, still cupping your mug as you place it in front of you, elbows resting against the marble.

He nods absentmindedly but perks up. “But before Asgard, there is Alfheim.”

“Right,” you say, straightening yourself up. “What’s the plan?”

“My mother sent me there for training in my youth,” he says, both hands propping himself up as he leans into the counter in front of you. “The witch who trained me, my mentor, is still alive.”

“Who was your mentor?”

“Her name is Alva,” he says, and your eyes travel down to his navel as he stretches. He’s shirtless, and it’s very distracting. “She taught me that memory charm; if anyone can help right the chaos Stark and the rest of us created when we saved the universe, it would be her, I believe. That paired with staying in my cabin,” he narrows his eyes knowingly at you over his mug. "She is the greatest sorcerer in the universe."

“Well, that sounds great,” you muse. “I’m excited. Is it bad to hope Tony doesn’t figure it out here so that we can do that instead?”

“No, I am thrilled by your enthusiasm, darling.” He pauses, and the look he’s giving you is testy at best.

“What is it,” you ask darkly. In this moment, you feel like you truly know him, a look of coyness on his face.

“The catch is that, well, Alva may be less than pleased to see me. It may take some coaxing to get her to help.” He looks at you, waiting for you to react.

“Why,” you ask slowly, cocking your head towards him.

“Part of the agreement to her training me, by request from the Allmother, was that her daughter and I were betrothed,” he says, pursing his lips.

You freeze, your heart stopping for a beat. “Betrothed?” you exclaim.

“This was centuries before you were born, my love,” he reassures, waving a hand, and he almost looks humored at the look of shock on your face, your mouth falling open. “And besides, I left her at the altar. I never did want to marry her, you see. I’m not quite sure it ever bothered Hulda, we hardly knew each other, but Alva held quite the grudge. Odin almost had me banished from Asgard, he was so angry.”

Great, you think. You’re just getting used to the idea that this guy is in love with you. Now, you just have to ask his ex-fiance’s mother, an actual witch, to help recover your memories so that you can remember that you love him back. Perfect, you think.

“I never loved her, little one. You have nothing to fear,” he says soothingly, still stroking your hand.

“Oh, I’m not jealous,” you say, only half there, the other half still mulling the situation over in your mind. “Only hoping she doesn’t have an ‘Off with Her Head’ moment, that’s all.”

“Darling, she is not a queen, and I shall keep you safe,” he says, approaching your stool and parting your legs so that he can slip between them, grabbing your hips. “If anyone so far as threatens you, little one, I shall lay waste to the entire kingdom. They know that.” He kisses the tip of your nose, his grip on your hips tightening.

“Oh, good,” you say mockingly, and he chuckles at your sarcasm, apparently amused, kissing your neck. “Destruction, ex-almost-mother-in-laws. I can handle this. Right?”

“Trust me,” he says, his smile cocky. Pecking your lips, you think he knows you’re admiring his backside as he strides towards the window, stretching again. He’s so tall, you think, watching his flawless form at its fullest height. “It wouldn’t be the first city I’ve destroyed.”

You laugh quietly, clutching your mug. “You’re right again, Lokes,” you say, admiring his dark curls against his shoulders. An ache rises in your belly again, watching him. The homesick feeling is far from your mind as you briefly let yourself daydream of different realms; magic you’ve only read about.

What have I gotten myself into?, you think, his devious smile looking over his shoulder at you.

Chapter Text

You’re living in a new city, in a tower among super heroes and scientist geniuses and billionaires in the nicest apartment you’ve ever seen, doing yoga with Darcy Lewis and Black Widow on Sunday mornings, helping Spiderman with English homework, getting oddly good at computer data entry, and dating a former-villain God from another planet. And, as weird as it is, you’re getting used to it. You still don’t remember anything from before the Snap, but you know one thing at this point; you do have a very real crush on Loki Odinson.

 

“You do not have to go,” Loki whispers against your mouth, peppering kisses there in between sentences and pinning you against his door. “Let me send an illusion,” he suggests, his lips moving down to your neck. “It gets twice the amount of work done.”

 

“Hey,” you protest, “I get a lot done, thank you very much. And Tony figured out it was an illusion almost immediately,” you laugh, pulling his face back to yours with a fistful of his raven hair. “I have to leave your apartment sometimes. Besides, I think Dr. Strange is coming at some point this week.”

 

You feel Loki stiffen as you try to distract him by toying with his belt. Catching your wrist, Loki gives you a serious look. “You’re certain this is what you want,” he asks, and it’s less of a question and more a reiteration of a statement.

 

“Yes,” you say firmly, straightening against the wall. “Look, Loki. I get that these people aren’t your favorite people- “

 

“Nonsense,” he cuts you off, tucking a hair behind your ear. “Peter is delightful, and your Miss Lewis never fails to thoroughly cut through Stark at every opportunity.”

 

“I’m serious.” Grabbing the front of his jacket, you give it a little pull so that he meets your eyes with his. “But if this is an issue of privacy, just say it, and we’ll go to Alfheim.”

 

Loki sobers, one hand flat against the door besides your head. “I suppose I am not thrilled by the idea of Strange or Stark having access to our very intimate experience.”

 

“But isn’t it worth it? What if he knows what to do?”

 

“He will not be able to help us,” he says quickly, and he’s playing with the necklace he’d given you a couple of weeks ago; a long, silver dagger on a thin chain.

 

“But according to Tony, he’ll know whether or not those memories still exist,” you insist, grabbing his hand still wrapped around the trinket.

 

“They do.” Voice thick with earnest, the playful air in the room dissipated. 

 

After a moment, your entire body humming with the solemn energy pulsing through you, you finally speak. “I know,” you whisper back. Letting your hands fall to your sides, you swallow, waiting for him to release you. Your doubts are buried under the place in your heart you’ve carved out for him in the few weeks you’ve been here. Standing on tip toes to grant him a departing peck, you pat his cheek. "Come find me for lunch, I want to try that sushi place Bruce recommended." He releases you from where you're pinned to the wall so you can rummage for your bag, grabbing your ID tag. Acting casual around Loki is getting easier, but it's still hard to believe you're practically his girlfriend; he's insanely good-looking, smart, and very, very good in bed. 

 

"Very well, little mortal," he muses, returning the kiss. standing with his hands in his pockets.


"No way. Nope." You're sitting at your desk, arms crossed over your chest, staring back at a very animated Darcy, who's pouting is apparent.

 

"Why!?" 

 

Sighing, you raise your eyebrows, giving her a rueful smile. Darcy had only moments ago burst into your office with the new that Tony Stark is throwing one of his very famous Christmas parties and Darcy really, really wants you to go. Loki hasn't mentioned it; there's no way he doesn't know it's happening, so if he hasn't started insisting you go, he probably wants to skip it, too. "A few reasons," you say, nervously tapping your pen against a new thick stack of papers. 

 

"Come on. You can't hide forever," she insists, "and we can go shopping! Don't you have a credit card for this? Tony's gonna make you both come anyways. Might as well get excited about it." Her feet are propped up on the arm of the spinning chair in front of the window, sneakers scuffing up the glass.

 

She's right; Tony will pressure you both. His unwavering enthusiasm is endearing, but you're still feeling apprehensive about being around everyone in such a formal setting. Once that realization sinks in, the rest of her words do. "Wait, what do you mean by 'hide'?"

 

"Do you ever look at the news?" Digging through the pocket of her green Army jacket, she pulls out her phone and starts typing. "Here," handing it to you after a moment, your face pricks with heat. All Darcy did was Google Loki's name and hit the News tab to find countless articles written over the past week, all alluding to his new 'mortal girlfriend'.

 

"Oh, my god." Handing the phone back, you rub your eyes, falling back into your chair. 

 

"An appropriate response," she muttered, still scrolling when you check behind your fingers. "Don't let the stupid internet ruin a party."

 

"So, what? This is going to be some media spectacle?" you ask, exasperated. Absentmindedly, you reach for the dagger necklace, pressing the tip of the tiny blade and the hilt together between your forefinger and thumb. The mild pain is distracting. 'Loki is going to hate it."

 

"Really?" Darcy looks up at you, clearly a little baffled. "He's a prince. I'm sure he kind of at least doesn't mind the spotlight. Look at the New York takeover footage." 

 

You pause, not caring that you probably have a very glazed look on your face. When Loki had first approached you about this ordeal, all you could think of was his attempted takeover. Since you moved into the tower, it hasn't crossed your mind. Somehow, you're more unsettled by the fact that there is so much about him that you don't know rather than the reminder that he tried to take over earth and killed thousands of people in the process. You know he was being mind-controlled, but maybe the hunger for power was already there. The thought of Loki dressed up and getting harassed by the paparazzi with you on his arm makes your stomach twist in nerves. 

 

"Stop thinking," she insists, putting her phone away and sitting up straight in her chair. "Talk to lover boy about it; you'll feel better. And then we can go pick out dresses."

 

Groaning, you rub your eyes again, grateful you were too distracted by Loki's advances this morning to put any makeup on. "How is this going to get me any closer to getting those memories back?" 

 

"It won't," she smiles, "but it's fun, and you desperately need fun. Like, bad. I think Jane and Thor are coming."

 

Nodding, you’re pulled from your thoughts when Tony’s upper half leans into the room, his arm swinging on the frame of the doorway.

“Ladies,” he says, his other arm swooping upwards in a grandiose gesture, “are we ready for the ball?”

“No.”

“Yes!”

You and Darcy speak at the same time, and his eyes bulge when he hears yours, his mouth opening dramatically. “C’mon kid, you’re the guest of honor!”

“And to what honor do we owe the pleasure?” Loki’s voice comes out from behind Tony, and he folds his arms over his chest.

Clapping a hand on Loki’s back, Tony embraces him. You can’t help but smile when Loki only pretends to look annoyed; you can tell. “My Christmas party, Voldemort! It’s gonna be a blast, and you’re coming. Mandatory. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. See you guys there!” With another clap, Loki does look annoyed this time. Leaning out of your chair, you watch him almost bounce down the corridor.

“Come, little one,” Loki commands, nodding brusquely to Darcy. “We can discuss this over lunch.”


“Don’t pick out a dress without me!” You hear Darcy shout, and you smile over your shoulder.


Watching Loki use chopsticks is almost painful. It’s a little weird, you admit to yourself, but anything involving his hands should be a crime to witness. Long, precise fingers work the little wooden sticks between the pickled ginger and sushi you’re sharing in the little, dark restaurant you’d walked to, just a few blocks from the tower. You pretend not to notice the three black SUVs parked on the street outside; you’d never bothered to ask if they’re security to protect Loki, or to protect everyone else around him.

“Do you want to go?” The words sound childish the moment they leave your mouth, you eye him carefully, trying to pick up on his body language. He’s draped across the booth languidly, looking relaxed, comfortable. “And did you know the internet knows about us?”

Taking a swig of his wine, he looks at you from over the brim of his glass. Ever since your conversation with Darcy, you can’t stop thinking about his takeover attempt. It’s been years since you’ve seen the footage, but you’re trying to recall as much as you can. Kneel. The word rings in your mind, and though it has a bit of a new meaning to you now, the reality is hard to ignore. You’ve both been so focused on getting your memories back, you’ve failed to consider the danger you’re in, even with Thanos gone. Aside from the Elf witch who probably wants you dead, there’s an entire universe out there.

Surely not all of them are harmless.

“I am quite famous,” he purrs, taking another little sip. “Perhaps I should have considered this and explained it to you.”

“No, it’s not your fault. I don’t know why I didn’t consider it. I live with a bunch of famous people.” You’re picking at your food now, appetite gone.

Loki gingerly puts the wineglass down, reaching across the table for your hand. “Do not think I forget how difficult this all may be,” he says quietly, stroking your palm with his thumb. “I am also adjusting to this life here.”

You keep forgetting that. “What’s the hardest part?”

He considers this for a moment. “The quiet,” he turns his head, watching the masses walk by. Christmas is approaching; white lights are strung everywhere, and almost every person that walks by has some sort of a package or bag.

“Quiet? This is the loudest city in America.”

He laughs a little, but he seems pained. “Peace is the word I should have used. Thanos is defeated, Asgard is gone, for now. There is no kingdom to conquer, no battles to win. It’s a lull. They never last, but a lull nonetheless.”

You’re not sure of what to say; the thought of any more disquiet isn’t a comforting one, and you’re a little put off by how wistful Loki seems at the thought of action. You get it, he’s fought in a ton of wars, and he’s probably too smart to be sitting around the tower. Deciding to sweeten the mood, you pick up your glass with your free hand, raising it towards him.

“To the meantime,” you say serenely.

You love the smile that breaks out across his face. “To the meantime,” he repeats, clinking his glass against yours. “And for what it’s worth, I adore you in green.”


"Oh, good call." Jane is lying across your bed, clicking away on her laptop. It's kind of an adorable sight; she's wearing a lavender dress, flowing and long chiffon, with sage green velvet heels, hair and makeup perfect, and still more concerned with research. 

"You think?" You're the last one to get ready, so you don't mind hogging the floor-length mirror in your room. Darcy leans over your dresser to use that mirror, putting on another layer of red lipstick. Smoothing out the front of the dress, you're kind of impressed with how good you feel. Training with Bucky and Cap has paid off, even after a few weeks. The dark evergreen dress is tight and silky, coming partway down your thighs and hanging off your shoulder a little, the sleeves long, almost covering your wrists. The black heels Darcy insisted on. Your makeup looks as good as Jane's, the smokey eye just right. Normally you might not go so over the top, but the constant reminder that your photograph will not only be taken but most likely be plastered all over the internet by tomorrow morning, you go the extra mile. After all, you are Loki's mortal girlfriend

And what else, you think? The uncertainty of everything has been kind of consuming, even among the excitement of the holidays, work, and living at the tower. Will you ever remember? Does it matter, at this point, if you do or not? You're with Loki and it's great, it's amazing. You just can't really shake the lack of purpose you have. As doting as he is, even Loki seems to be waiting for something.

What does your future hold? Taking a deep breath, you remember yours and Loki's new mantra. To the meantime. Live in the moment, you remind yourself. And eat a little tonight so you don't get too drunk at the first party of Tony's you're attending.

"I have to ask," Darcy says, holding her hands in front of her hips and turning to face you. "Is he good in bed?"

"Darcy!" Jane laughs, her mouth open wide. 

"What? He's so tall. He's scary, but he's cute." When all you can do is smile sheepishly, your face hot even under the layer of makeup, both girls nod. "He's good," Darcy says, blotting her finished work on a tissue. "Are we ready?"

Jane shuts her laptop, standing to check herself one last time in the mirror. "Ready," she says.

"As I'll ever be," you chime in, bracing yourself.


You're relieved to see Loki and Thor waiting at the front of Tony's penthouse. He looks incredible, of course. You're a little surprised; he's not in his signature black suit, but both brothers are in full, traditional Asgardian armor. It's a little imposing, but you can't take your eyes off of him. Taking in the golds and greens of his suit, you look down at yourself when you notice a little green hue engulf you; the green of your dress is a little different. Loki's altered it to match his. "I am a prince, after all," he says apologetically, kissing your nose, "and will never balk at the opportunity to show you off."

The very moment he puts his arm protectively around your waist, whisking you around towards the party, cameras flash. You practically wince under the ferocity of the lights, and a few people are calling out, asking for your name. "Smile, love," he whispers in your ear, pulling you a little closer. "This practically makes you a princess."

Peering up at him from under his arm, he's certainly smiling. It looks a little smug, but also satisfied. Swallowing hard, you take a deep breath, steadying yourself against his chest. And you smile. 

The evening is perfect, once the photography settles down. Loki hand feeds you hors d'oeuvres, knowing nerves keep you from eating. He refuses to dance with you but gives you coy looks when you join Darcy and the S.H.E.I.L.D. guard she’s wooing. You barrel over with laughter when, in the back kitchen, Tony is trying to explain to Cap what a beer bong is. You give Peter an apologetic look when his aunt shows up, practically dragging him away when his curfew arrives. You can’t help but tear up a little when Tony, choked up, announces that he and Pepper are pregnant. The champagne is divine, and you’re more than happy when Loki steals you away from the crowd, dragging you out to the balcony.

The moment you realize you’re alone, he presses you up against the glass railing, kissing you deeply. Your thighs ache when the metal of his suit digs into your skin, you like it.

“It’s distracting, seeing you so free and joyful.” His voice is hot in your ear, and you push him away a little so you can look at him.

“I’m actually having fun,” you admit, smiling a little.

“You are beautiful, you know,” he whispers. “I often imagined what a night like this would entail when we were trapped on Aflheim.”

“Oh yeah? Is it everything you imagined?” You wrap a leg around his when he moans; you know his favourite spot beneath his ear, and you’re kissing him, careful not to leave a mark. Although, the thought is tempting.

“Even more. If it wasn’t so pleasurable, watching you enjoy yourself this way, I’d insist on taking you back to my bed at once.”

“I think I might insist on that – wait – “You stop yourself; the perfect slow song is ringing from the penthouse, and you giving him a pleading look. “Can we please dance to this? Please, Loki?”

“Now this, I can dance to.”

The champagne is making your head swim with rapture as he pulls you back inside, swooping you into his arms dramatically. You don’t even mind when more cameras click towards the two of you; you’re too busy watching him as he takes the lead. It feels like heaven in that moment, like you’re the only two in the room. And the feeling of bliss fills your head when he kisses you deeply; Loki’s pretty private, so the public display makes you feel a little bit special.

It makes it even harder to break away when you suddenly realize people are screaming.

You clutch his arm when the room breaks out in disrupt. “What’s happening,” you demand, trying to peer over the crowd.

The dance floor parts, and your insides swim with dread. Loki is holding you tightly, but Loki is also walking towards the two of you, and he’s holding a glowing, blue box. His mouth is covered by some sort of muzzle, and his features look washed out and pale against the light.

Déjà vu, that old familiar friend, is the feeling you have when this second Loki reaches out for the one holding you, and the three of you go spinning into the darkness.

 

Chapter Text

Six Months Ago

You stir, not yet wanting to open your eyes. You’re  too comfortable beneath the down blanket Loki had no doubt tucked you into before he woke up. He always seemed to wake up first...

“Loki,” you call out, patting his side of the bed in vain. “Come back to bed.”

“Insatiable minx, aren’t you?” You hear him from his bathroom, no doubt cleaning up. “I am quite shocked that you are not aching from last night.”

He’s probably only just coming back from hunting. It had been weeks since the fiasco in the city, and he had finally started to venture out past his magical boundaries.

“Oh, well, in that case,” you huff, rubbing your head back into the pillow, “I’m not going to beg.”

This grabs his attention, like you knew it would. You smile into the pillow when you hear his footsteps approaching, falling gracefully into the bed besides you, his arms sneaking beneath the blankets.

“Won’t you?” You shriek when he catches both of your wrists, pinning them above your head, and again louder when he tickles your waist. “What does my greedy little mortal want this morning?” When you catch your breath, you bite your lip as his quick, green eyes scan your face. You’re still adjusting to this more relaxed Loki, less stoic and more vulnerable. Not much more, but enough. You answer by swinging your legs around his waist, and your smile broadens when he laughs a little, nestling himself against your head.

“I want a chai latte,” you say as he kisses your neck. “A dirty chai, with a shot of espresso and cinnamon sprinkled on top.”

“Yes, yes,” he murmurs against your hair, and you giggle as his cool hand travels up the tunic you’re wearing, “I know that. What do you need, pet?”

“You’re gonna make me say it, aren’t you?” You’re glad he’s not wearing a shirt, it makes grabbing his hips easier, and his breath catches when you drag a finger across the valley between them. By now he’s peeled off your underwear and your tunic is long gone; sitting on his knees in front of you, he teases your entrance, pushing himself only an inch inside of you. You moan, letting your eyes flutter shut. He t’sked, pulling out again, rubbing himself against your clit. You gasp, and you know he’s going to win this round. He always makes you beg.

“Loki,” you whine, wriggling yourself against his tip.

“Ah, ah,” he chides, backing away slightly. “Say it, little mortal.”

“You like doing this,” you say accusingly, pouting as you grab your breasts, and you feel a surge of triumph as his eyes wander to watch.

“Hearing you beg? Of course I do.” Unable to hold back, he joins you, giving your nipple a squeeze. Firmly, he grabs hold of your hips, turning you slightly so that you’re lying on your stomach. Pulling them up a bit so that you’re settled on your knees, he continues to tease you.

“Please,” you breath when he pulls back again.

“There’s my good girl,” he croons, giving your bottom a playful smack. “Go on.”

“Please, Loki,” you whine, pushing yourself back on him. “I want you.”

“I am right here, darling. Tell me what you want.”

“Fuck me.” You say it in a small voice, and you can’t meet his eyes and your cheeks flush.

“Very good,” he whispers in that voice you can hardly hear without coming undone, and he pushes himself into you completely with a deep groan. After a few slow thrusts, he lifts one of your legs, drawing you around onto your back. “I want to see you.”

Quickly his thumb finds your clit, and you lose yourself to his touch as he circles it in perfect rhythm with his hips. You feel the tension building, but before your eyes roll back as you relinquish your power to him, you place a hand against his chest. “Wait,” you say breathlessly, “My turn.”

Propping yourself up, you push him back until he’s on his back and you climb on top of him. You’re very pleased at the crazed look on his face watching you eagerly. You edge yourself onto him, hand still steadying your weight on his chest, and your ride him, a weak moan escaping your lips. Another follows more loudly when his thumb picks back up it’s work between your legs.

”Come for me, little mortal,” he grunts, and your eyes flash with maddened pleasure when you notice his face break into weakness, succumbing to the control you currently hold over him. Seeing Loki lose any sort of composure stirs a strange sort of possessive pride in your chest. His grip on one side of your waist deepens, and the slight pain is what pushes you towards your climax. 

Before you can collapse on top of him, he springs forward and holds you in his lap, so that you’re both sitting upright. He embraces you as he follows, spilling every drop with deep thrusts, kissing you as one hand cups your face.

“You make me weak, mortal,” he whispers, brushing hair from your eyes. 

You can never quite tell if he says it with resolve or affection; probably both. ”You’re not weak, Loki.”

”Ah, then you’ve fallen for my tricks.” He’s still holding you tightly in his arms, legs still wrapped around his waist. Things may be comfortable, and his attraction and care for you is obvious, but these moments of connecting can be fleeting. He’s still him, after all. So you take advantage of it, as you always do. 

“Simple mortal,” you say, imitating his voice, making a dramatic gesture with one of your hands. You both laugh, and his nose crinkles as his smile meets his eyes. 

Brazen mortal, mocking a prince.” He’s still smiling, and he looks content, scanning your features with a sweet reverence that makes your heart ache a little. Yet he’s still a little somber, a little stoic. He’s still him.

As the light grows outside, you wonder what time it is. You catch yourself doing it a lot; another ‘Midgardian habit’, as Loki would call it. There are no clocks in his cabin.

”What are you thinking, little one?” Loki falls back against a pillow, dragging you against his chest. You relax as his fingers coil into your hair. 

“Oh, just...ya know. Time.”

”Hmm,” he hums in response. Taking a deep breath, he gazed into the skylight above you. “A concept we are both rather preoccupied with, it seems.”

”How did you get mixed up with Thanos, anyway? Did he come to Asgard?” At this point in time, you don’t hesitate to ask when questions arise in your mind. The worst he’ll do is not answer. 

“He sought the tesseract.” His tone is a little clipped, but you can tell he isn’t angry. Not at you. 

“Is that one of the stones he was looking for?”

”Yes.”

”And you had it?”

”I did.”

”And now he does,” you say darkly. You know the answer, of course. He was successful, after all. 

“For now,” Loki adds, tracing your bare shoulder blades. 

Sitting up, you look at him. You both know it’s a signal for him to keep talking. When he only stares back at you expressionless, you raise your eyebrows a little. 

“You want to get it back? Isn’t that how Thanos controlled you? Isn’t it kind of an evil object?”

Loki swallows, fixing his eyes back at the skylight. A tense moment passes before he speaks again. “I have learned,” he says evenly. “It is a treasure of Asgard-“

”Asgard is gone,” you remind him, a little too ardently. You’re not sure why you’re annoyed and risking getting him really upset by expressing all of these opinions you barely understand. Something about this tesseract scares you. 

Fortunately, Loki looks patient. Slowly, as if explaining something delicately to a frightened child, he smiles kindly. “For now,” he repeats, brushing your chin with his thumb. You wrap your hand around his, exchanging the affection. 


Panting, you’re still clinging to Loki’s chest when the three of you collapse onto what feels like a forest floor. It’s very dark, and the tree you’re against is incredibly wide, from what you can tell. 

You shriek a little when the second Loki stands up, holding the glowing cube. He hardly moves at all, and you can tell from the light radiating from the blue box that he’s smiling a little behind the muzzle hiding his mouth. Your Loki squeezes your arm reassuringly when he stands, takes the cube from the other Loki, and as your jaw drops, your breath escaping your chest, the muzzled twin is absorbed by the other, becoming one. 

What?” you cry breathlessly, feeling your face crumble into soundless tears. “What is happening?”

”Darling,” he whispers, turning towards you, triumphant madness gleaming in his eyes, “this is the answer. Now we can recover your memories, now we can-“

”That is the tesseract,” you say shakily, “Loki, how the hell did you get that, what the hell was that double-“

”It was only a clone, love,” he says reassuringly, kneeling down to your level and you brace yourself against the bark of the conifer tree you’re up against. “I’ve known for weeks that the tesseract still existed, I felt it. I had to create an illusion; the version of myself that you just saw-“

”That version of you killed thousands of people because of that thing!” you cry, pressing yourself further into the tree, trying to escape the glowing hum of the cube now between you and Loki. 

“Precisely,” he whispers. “The others will think we’ve been kidnapped by a mind controlled madman. I needed to possess it again not for power, but to regain what we’ve sought, little one.”

“So what, you’re just going to retrieve my memories and hand it back over to S.H.I.E.L.D.? Just like that?”

He doesn’t answer, his brilliant eyes imploring you. “We could rebuilt Asgard with this,” he whispers. “We could rule. Together.”

”Loki,” you whimper, crying a little. “Let’s stick to the plan. Let’s ask Dr. Strange, let’s go to Alfheim. Anything else. We don’t need this, it’s caused so many problems-“

”Don’t you trust me?”

He looks a little wild, but hurt. Breathing heavily, he leans into you. 

“Yes,” you say as firmly as you can. “I trust you. I don’t trust that,” you say, nodding towards the tesseract. “How did you do it?”

”I have been mastering Dr. Strange’s methods of magic for months,” he says quickly, “Recreating the substance Stark used to transport us all through time.”

”Did they help you?”

He hesitates. “I did not need their help,” he says. “Compromising details of Stark and the solider’s travels during our defeat of Thanos was presented to me,” he explains, a hint of resentment in his tone, “I escaped wrongful imprisonment by obtaining this.”

”So you just-“

”I went back to that moment and possessed my past self with a clone,” he explains hurriedly. 

“Why couldn’t you have just pocketed the thing?! Why did you just create a scene? Everyone is going to freak out and come looking for us-“

”You have to trust me-“

”Where are we?” You demand loudly. 

“In Asgard,” he finally says after a pause. “We’ve gone back in time.”


It takes you a moment to regain the ability to stand upright after he transports the two of you to his room. Leaning against the large, wooden door made of wood so dark it looks black, you watch him cautiously as he strides into the sitting room. 

It’s almost cavernous, the way the lighting makes the room feel. Golden sconces line the dark green tapestries lining the wall like thick velvet wallpaper, and a long black sofa embroidered with small, green leaves rests in front of one of the biggest bookshelves you’ve ever seen. A fireplace is along the other hall, and you notice a hallway. 

“Why didn’t we just go to Alfheim?” you ask weakly, watching him languidly draped himself across the sofa. 

”Come here,” he says, patting his thigh. He has tucked the tesseract into a pocket, one that he’d told you is large enough to reach through dimensions. The thought of it hanging somewhere, suspended in time and space out of sight, is unsettling. 

Unable to move, you whimper out again, “Everything was going well at the tower, we were happy, and-“

”And you still do not remember.” Loki looks a little severe, and it scares you a little. “Why are you frightened?” he asks, patting his leg again. You’ll never get used to him seemingly able to read your thoughts. 

“Why does it even matter at this point? We’re together now.” You move towards him when he crooks his finger, beckoning for you to join him. His eyes are hooded. 

He cradles you in his lap, and the feeling you get from him is more regal than you’ve ever experienced. “I performed the proper spell, it was muddled by time travel, and I intend to right what went wrong.”

”Is this a pride thing?” you ask accusingly.

”You fell in love with me,” he corrects you, his voice slightly raised. His grip on you tightens, but he’s clearly agitated by this. “It was something I’ve-“ he stops himself, looking even more irritated. 

After a moment of tense silence, you finish. “It was special.”

”You’re here because I convinced you in a little shop that we were once in love,” he whispers, “I need you to be here because of what we had.”

Something sad stirs inside of you. “And I was there because I fell through a portal. What’s the difference?”

His face turns stony, squaring his jaw. You can tell he regrets the burst of emotion. “I’ve had hundreds of women,” he hisses, frustration coursing through his teeth, not stopping when he sees you wince, “fall at my feet. Under my command. Anyone I’ve ever wanted in the entire Nine. But never have I had any sort of consort.”

The ringing silence is pregnant with tension now, you hardly notice the fire raging behind you. The heat feels good against your back with Loki’s cold fingers gripping your neck. 

“You did not seek me for my riches or status. I did not seek you as a sport.”

”It was organic.” 

He nods. His mention of hundreds of women pangs in your heart, jealousy rattling against your ribcage. Most likely women right where you’re sitting. Suddenly, the weight of the situation lands in your stomach. You’re in Asgard, where Loki is a prince. And he wants you. The tesseract floats back to your mind, and anxiety belts inside of you. 

“I want to remember organically. I want you to take us to Alfheim. I want to ask the witch for help,” you say timidly, fiddling with the clasps on his leather coat. 

Sighing dramatically, Loki pats your hips. “I could set your mind right this very moment,” he says, “we can stay here.”

”I don’t know what to do with that thing yet,” you nod towards his breast pocket, “but I don’t want you to use it on my mind. Let’s go. Take me to the cabin.”

Loki looks annoyed, and huffs. “Fine,” he says, reaching for the zipper against his chest, “hold onto me tightly.”

This time, you’re a little more prepared when you spiral into the darkness.