The Trickster walked the paths between worlds. How else was he supposed to get where he wanted to go by himself? It was particularly useful when he did not wish to have to go through Heimdall in order to travel places. It was simply like everything else that required seidr. One had to look beyond what was visible to their eye, and see what was what truly there. His mother was one of the best in the Nine Realms at that sort of thing, perhaps even the best. After all, she had taught him the craft. She was the AllMother for a reason. Not just anyone could qualify to be the bride of the AllFather.
Snowflakes tumbled down from the sky, covered in dusty grey clouds, to blanket the city in its pristine chill. Loki's leather boots crunched in the freshly fallen snow as his feet touched down from the roundabout backway he had taken to arrive on Midgard. His slicked back hair stirred out of place from the wind blowing past, a few long strands falling across his face. The sharp bite of the air was rather invigorating. He had always enjoyed cold weather for some reason. Loki allowed himself a small smile before he started down the path along the street.
"Ack!" a young voice exclaimed.
Loki blinked and turned his head in the direction of the sound. While children were hardly rare on any realm, he did not often happen to run into them. At least not since... well. Best not to think of that.
"No no no!" he heard.
A small boy with curly brown hair and glasses had dropped a bag, and papers scattered in every direction. Some of them fluttered closer to the road where the vehicles were zooming along. The child, frantic to get his papers back, whatever they were, scrambled after them, seemingly heedless of the danger. Norns. Loki felt an odd little sensation in his gut, and he flicked his left wrist decisively. A stray burst of wind moved the papers back toward the building that the child had been walking past. As expected, the boy went back in that direction.
Loki walked over to him, cheating perhaps a little by prompting the majority of the fallen papers to land together, before he knelt down to grab them. His gloved hand landed on the messy stack just as the child's did. The boy retracted his hand a little, and Loki lifted up the papers, holding them out to him. All it took was a minor spell to get them dry once more, not that the child noticed as he reached out hesitantly to grab them from him. A bunch of mathematical squiggles were drawn over the pages from what he could see, the writing somewhat smudged.
"I believe these are yours," Loki said.
"Y-yeah. They are," the boy replied. Loki pressed the papers into his hands and stood up. "Thank you, sir."
"You are welcome, child," Loki said.
The child stared at him for a few moments, brown eyes flicking over his dark armor curiously. The edges of the papers crinkled in his small hands. His gaze returned to Loki's face, and the Trickster arched a brow slightly in question.
"I love your costume, mister. It's so cool! Are you going to a convention or something?" the boy asked. "Who are you dressed as?"
"I do not know what convention you speak of, but I shall assume no. I am dressed as myself," Loki said.
"Oh. Well, that's cool, too. It's really unique," the child told him.
Loki was not used to being complimented on his sartorial style by any besides his mother, so that was new. The mortal boy's eyes betrayed their honesty. He tilted his head minutely and felt his lips twitch up just a second.
"Thank you," Loki said.
The child wrestled his somewhat wrinkled papers into the bag he carried and zipped it shut, holding it tightly in front of himself by the straps. He pressed it against his stomach, glancing up again to give Loki a bright smile.
"I'm Peter by the way. What's your name?" the child asked.
"I am Loki, son of Odin," Loki said.
"Wow. Really?" Loki nodded, bemused at his enthusiasm. "Like the Norse god, right?" Peter asked.
"Exactly like the Norse god," Loki agreed. He gave the boy a small smile.
"You aren't cold, are you, Mr. Loki?" Peter asked him.
"I am not. Why do you ask?" Loki responded.
"Well, it is pretty snowy right now. I get cold even with a jacket on," Peter said. As if to drive his point home, a sudden gust of wind made the child shudder, shoulders hunching up a little more, his collar sliding up near his throat. Loki frowned.
"Why are you out in such weather? Where are your parents?" he asked.
"They're at work. I take the bus home," Peter explained. He pointed to the bus stop a few dozen yards away. He looked back at Loki. "Where, uh, are your parents? I mean..." He trailed off awkwardly.
"I suspect they are at work still as well," Loki said.
"Yeah?" Peter asked.
"Yes. Asgard will hardly run itself," Loki drawled. The boy let out a giggle. The childish sound was oddly endearing, and Loki found himself starting to smile.
"You're funny, Mr. Loki," Peter told him.
"You do not have to continue using that honorific, child," Loki said.
"Okay, Mr. - uh, I mean, Loki," Peter replied.
Loki took notice of how pink the mortal's skin was getting from the frigid wind. The breeze felt pleasant enough for him, but Peter was only a child and not of Asgardian stock. Mortals were rather fragile things. And it rubbed Loki the wrong way to let a child bring harm to themselves even unintentionally. He shifted on his feet, snow crunching underfoot.
"Perhaps you should continue on your way home. It is getting late," Loki said.
"Oh, uh, yeah." The boy adjusted his bag. "Thanks again. See you later, Loki," Peter responded cheerfully.
"Farewell, Peter," Loki said.
Peter gave him a little wave before he walked off down the sidewalk, disappearing around a corner. Loki watched him until he was out of sight. He looked back to the path he had been going to take earlier. With his original train of thought sufficiently lost to him, the Trickster sighed. Well, Thor and his companions probably would not notice he was missing until later anyway. He made himself invisible to prying eyes and stalked off down the side of the road, magic swirling under his skin. Nothing like a bit of mischief to end his day right.
Peter must have been around six the first time the time his uncle took him to Delmar's. It had been six months to that day since his parents had left him at his aunt and uncle's, rubbing sleep out of his eyes and still wearing his red pajamas with a hoodie thrown over it. Six months felt like forever ago to a kid like him, and it had made him realize that his parents weren't coming back. Not ever. But Uncle Ben did try his best to cheer him up.
"These are the best sandwiches in Queens, Peter," Uncle Ben had told him, giving him a warm smile.
He might have been a bit younger than his daddy used to be, but his eyes still wrinkled around the edges, getting all crinkly, just like Daddy. Peter stood at his side, half hiding behind the man, hand clutched tightly in his uncle's.
"What do I ask for?" Peter had asked.
"I don't know. What do you want on your sandwich?" Uncle Ben returned.
Peter looked over at the menu hanging above the counter, frowning in concentration. His uncle said hi to the man behind the counter, calling him by his first name and reaching out to shake his hand.
"Is this your nephew?" the counter guy asked.
"Yeah. This is Peter," Uncle Ben had said, giving Peter's hand a little, barely there squeeze.
"Hi," Peter murmured shyly. Just a few months ago, he would have bounced toward the counter and asked a million questions but not at the moment. He had ended up telling his uncle that he wanted to try a number three, and he nodded when Uncle Ben asked if he wanted pickles on it. He liked pickles.
It had been a while since that first time, and now Peter and his uncle came every week to pick out their sandwiches together. Peter liked doing that. It was kind of their thing. Just like how he helped Aunt May make pancakes on Sundays. It had taken him a little while to try all the sandwich combinations and pick which one that he liked best. His uncle was running a little late with work, and the bus stop was really close to the deli, so Peter went inside to order their food and wait for him. The boy waved to the dark haired man behind the counter.
"Hi, Mr. Delmar," Peter said.
"Hey, Peter. Is your uncle with you today?" Mr. Delmar asked. He was folding one of the other customer's orders in a sheet of paper.
"Yeah. He's gonna be here pretty soon," Peter said.
"The usual then?" Mr. Delmar asked.
"Yes, please," Peter said. He dug around in his backpack and fished out his wallet. He pulled out the sandwich his uncle had given him earlier - he had said that learning how to pay for things in person was important - and plopped it down on the counter.
"Gracias," Mr. Delmar responded.
He turned around to yell something at the the man working at the counter in the back, and Peter heard him respond in Spanish. Peter nodded when Mr. Delmar told him their order would be ready in a few minutes, and the boy went over to one of the tables to wait. He looked out of the window and noticed someone he had seen before. The boy smiled, hopping off his seat and putting his backpack in it to save his spot. Peter walked out of the door, tugging at his sleeves at the burst of cold air.
"Hey, Mr. Loki!" the boy called.
The nice man who had helped with his papers last week halted mid step, stiffening for a moment, before he turned around. His eyes were really green, like one of those blinking lights he saw in movies sometimes. He was still wearing his black and green leather clothes, and he was pretty tall, so he reminded Peter of a Lord of the Rings elf.
"Loki, child," the man told him.
"Oh, right," Peter said. He shoved his hands into his pockets. His fingers were getting all cold.
"Did you need something?" Loki asked.
"Um, not really. I just saw you, and I thought I'd say hi. So hi," Peter concluded. He smiled.
The man seemed confused for a few seconds, but he quickly recovered.
"Well, that is... thoughtful of you," Loki remarked. There was a little bit of crinkling at the edges of his eyes, and it almost looked like he wanted to smile.
"Have you ever tried the sandwiches here? They're really good," Peter said.
"Oh?" Loki replied. His green eyes flicked over to the sign above the door of the deli. "I cannot say that I have. I do not eat Midgardian fare."
"Is that a, uh, Scandinavian term? 'Cause you're from over there, right?" Peter asked.
"I am from Asgard, not Scandinavia," Loki corrected. "But yes."
"Huh. Cool." Peter looked back when he heard Mr. Delmar say his name. "Well, you've gotta try some. Delmar's got the best sandwiches in Queens," the boy said.
"Is that a guarantee?" Loki asked. There was a little quirk to his lips. The boy nodded.
"Yep. Come on," Peter said. He walked into the deli again, and the man followed him after a moment. He reached for the sandwiches on the counter, grabbing one in each hand. "You order from the board. See?"
Peter pointed to the lines of chalk detailing the types of sandwiches. The man cocked his head to the side slightly in consideration.
"What do you suggest?" Loki asked.
"Number four is my favorite," Peter said. "It has pickles in it, and you don't have to ask for them."
Loki nodded thoughtfully and turned toward Mr. Delmar.
"I would like the number four," he told him.
"Coming right up," Mr. Delmar replied. "That'll be five fifty."
There might have been a bit of green light in his right hand, but Peter was sure that he imagined that. As his third grade teacher liked to say, he did have an overactive imagination. Loki placed the exact amount of money on the counter. He looked back at Peter.
"Come on. I already have table if you want to wait with me," Peter said.
"Very well," Loki replied. They went to sit down, and Loki sat in the seat across from him.
"Hey, maybe you'll be able to meet my uncle," Peter said.
He stacked his wrapped sandwiches on top of each other. Then, he moved them to lay side to side. Loki gave him an odd look.
"Perhaps. But I do have things I have to get back to," the man stated.
"Oh. Oh, am I making you late for something? I'm so sorry," Peter said. "I didn't mean to cause you any trouble, I swear! I-"
"It is fine, child," Loki was quick to assure him. "What I was speaking of is not terribly important."
The bell above the door jingled as someone came in, and Peter glanced over. It was Uncle Ben. The boy waved to him, and his uncle walked to their table.
"Who is this, Peter?" Uncle Ben asked. "Friend of yours?"
"Yeah. This is Loki. I lose some of my homework the other day, and he helped me get it back," Peter said.
"Well, thank you for helping my nephew, Loki," Uncle Ben told him.
Loki nodded. Uncle Ben moved to sit down next to Peter.
"Can you believe that he's never had one of Mr. Delmar's sandwiches?" Peter said.
"No, really?" Uncle Ben responded.
"Yeah. But we're fixing that. Right, Loki?" Peter said.
"That would be correct," Loki affirmed. Peter grinned and looked back at his uncle. Uncle Ben chuckled.
The paper of the wrapped sandwich crinkled against the plastic bag he set near him. Loki leaned back on the frost covered bench and kicked up his legs, letting his feet dangle haphazardly over the edge of the chilled metal armrest. He summoned the last book he had taken an interest in from the royal library, plucking it from a little pocket dimension he had made, and he flipped it open, flicking through the pages. Minutes passed by unnoticed as he became absorbed in his reading. He was not paying too much attention as a yellow bus came rumbling to a halt near the bench in which he was laying.
The two doors of the bus slid open with a small squeal, and the chatter of children reached his ears. Loki glanced up from his tome, long fingers splaying the pages apart expertly, and he saw a few of the young mortals climb down the steps. Peter was the last one out, coming up behind the other two children who were bickering at one another not unlike what he and Thor would do on their better days. Peter tugged on the straps of his bag, his thumb hooking on the little loop of one of them. His brown eyes landed on Loki, and a friendly smile lit up his juvenile features.
"Hi, Loki," Peter said.
"Hello, child," Loki replied. He snapped his book shut with a well practiced move, vanishing it back to its little nook in his seidr. Peter gasped, and Loki sat up, fixing him with a look. "What is the matter?"
"That was so cool! How'd you do that?" Peter asked.
"Do what precisely?" Loki asked. He rested his feet on the cement, settling the plastic bag next to his hip.
"You just went-" The child made a hand swishy motion with his small hands rather enthusiastically. "And your book disappeared," Peter said.
"I do not look like that," Loki remarked. He mimicked the hand motion that Peter had made.
"But it totally went all swoosh, and there was a green light," Peter insisted.
"Swoosh," Loki repeated, his voice flat.
"Swoosh," Peter affirmed with an adorably serious nod. Loki's lips twitched slightly.
"Are you certain?" the Trickster asked.
"Certain about what?" Peter asked.
"Perhaps there was never a book at all," Loki said.
"But I saw it! I know I did," Peter insisted.
"Did you?" Loki asked.
"Yeah..." Peter said. He trailed off with a frown, looking a little confused. He glanced down at Loki's hand suspiciously. The Trickster let out a chuckle, making Peter look back at him.
"My apologies. I was jesting," Loki told him. He snapped his fingers, purely for theatrical reasons, and the book returned, landing soundly in his palm, the binding pressed firmly against his fingers.
"Holy cannoli! You're really good," Peter exclaimed. He stepped closer to Loki and peered down at the book curiously. "It's like it fell out of nothing."
"That is not entirely inaccurate," Loki conceded.
But he could hardly expect a child, let alone a mortal one, to know the correct theory of magic behind what he had done. Loki turned his hand over, palm down, and the book vanished once more. The boy's eyes were wide with awe behind his rectangular glasses.
"Are you a magician?" Peter asked.
"Magicians do mere parlor tricks, pale imitations of the real thing. And believe me when I say, child, that I am purely authentic," Loki said.
"Well, like, what can you do, then?" Peter asked. He seemed genuinely curious.
"Nearly anything I would like," Loki said.
His seidr pulsed over him for a mere second, and his form morphed into that of a sleek black cat. He had seen them wandering about at times during his excursions to Midgard, and it seemed like a safer bet to get a positive reaction from a child. Peter gasped and leaned down a bit, peering at him.
"Whoa. That's so cool," the boy murmured. He reached out his hand, pausing after a moment. It hovered above his head. Loki flicked his ear. "Is it okay if I pet you?"
He preferred not to be touched most of the time, but he supposed that he could make exceptions. Perhaps just this once. Loki lifted his head slightly and waited, letting out a small mew. Peter seemed to take the hint, and he ran his fingers over Loki's soft black fur. Loki allowed Peter to pet him for a few more moments, enjoying the child's innocently gentle touches despite himself, before he shied away. Peter pulled his hand back, and Loki slipped back into his usual form. He picked up the plastic bag from the bench and held it out to the boy.
"Before I forget, this is for you," Loki said.
"Oh. Thanks. What is it?" Peter asked as he started looking into the bag anyway. A grin spread on the child's face. "A number four. You remembered."
"I was in the area," Loki said in lieu of an explanation. The bag drooped down to hang by the boy's side as he lowered his hand.
"Well, thanks." Peter looked at Loki. "Where'd you learn how to do magic like that? Are you a wizard?" the child asked.
"I prefer the term 'sorcerer' or 'mage'. However, the fact I am a god usually tends to be more than sufficient," Loki said. "As to where I learned it, my mother taught me."
"She must be a really interesting lady," Peter decided.
"She is," Loki agreed. If there was one thing his mother was, it was definitely interesting. She easily was one of the most complex people he had ever had the pleasure to meet.
"Do you - do you think that you could show me how to do that stuff? Magic?" Peter asked eagerly.
"I actually don't know," Loki said.
He had never encountered a mortal mage in all his travels. There was also the issue of him never having taught another how to do such a thing before. His own children had been far too young to instruct in those matters before they had been taken from him. There was a bitter tug in his gut, and Loki swallowed. He refocused on the boy as he spoke again.
"Oh," Peter responded. His eyes turned downcast in disappointment.
"However, I could consult my mother," Loki continued.
"Really? That'd be awesome!" Peter said.
"Do not get your hopes up. It is unlikely to be fruitful if my suspicions are correct," Loki told him. The child nodded to show he understood, but he could all but see the thoughts whirring about in his mind. Loki smiled.
Frigga was many things. A caring mother. A dutiful wife. A wise queen. A seer. And that was merely to list a few. The future was hardly out of her reach, and she would see hints of it. Wars began and ended in the same breath, alliances being reached. Time was fluid and ever changing, twisting, so nothing was ever set in stone. Only the Norns themselves knew the true course of Fate, but being raised by witches all those millennia ago had its benefits. Frigga registered one such shift, nothing important in the grand scheme of things, but it could be for someone she cared deeply for.
The AllMother made sure she was available the day she knew her youngest son would come to her. Loki did not know she was waiting for him, but then again, she had not raised him to learn that part of the fabric of the universe. She was in an empty hallway between the bedchambers. His dark boots thudded on the stone corridor floor as he walked toward her. His verdant cloak swished around his ankles, tilting away from his body. Frigga paused with her hand over the crook of the wall, turning to look at her son. A smile came to her lips.
"Hello, Mother," Loki said.
"Hello, my son," Frigga replied.
She stepped forward to envelop him in a hug, and Loki was still for a moment before he allowed himself to relax into her firm embrace. His arms came up to wrap around her. Frigga gave him another warm squeeze and released him. Her son stepped back, still remaining somewhat close to her side.
"It is good to see you again. You are always out and about these days," Frigga remarked.
"It is good to see you as well," Loki said.
"What brings you today, Loki?" Frigga asked.
"Can I not visit my mother without reason?" Loki said. Frigga arched her blonde brows slightly in askance, and he let out a soft sigh. "Very well. Yes, I did have a topic I wished to speak of with you."
The AllMother nodded, and she tilted her head toward the other end of the hall.
"Let us adjourn to the garden," Frigga suggested. "And we can discuss this topic of yours."
Loki walked with her in silence toward the palace garden. It was green and lush, golden light filtering down through the thick leaves of the trees. They walked along the shallow path leading deeper into the foliage.
"What is on your mind?" Frigga asked. She turned toward him, pale blue eyes expectant.
"Mother... I was wondering if magic might be something that mortals can learn," Loki said. He rubbed at the middle of his left palm with his thumb. She did wonder what was causing him to seem nervous.
"I do not see why they cannot," Frigga responded.
"So it is possible, then?" Loki said.
"Of course. That does not mean that they all shall be gifted in the art or even possess it. However, there have been cases of mortal mages in the past. Why do you ask?" Frigga asked. She gave him a considering look. "Is it the child?"
"What child do you speak of?" Loki responded, his tone almost blasé.
"That is why you have been absconding to Midgard so often recently, is it not?" Frigga remarked.
He rarely focused so wholeheartedly on a realm unless he was planning one of his tricks or genuinely curious about the culture there. But this time had felt different to her. She knew this much.
"Mother... it is not like that," Loki said quietly. She reached out to place her hand on his shoulder, and he went still.
"I am merely happy to see that you have yourself a friend," Frigga told him.
Loki gave her a small smile as she pulled her hand back. Despite how independent her son, he was still the youngest, hardly older than a youth himself. He had never made friends very easily, choosing to instead hang around Thor or her in his earlier years. It was good to see him branching out of his comfort zone. Whether or not he saw his own children reflected in this mortal was an entirely different matter, but she would be supportive no matter the case. Frigga meandered over to a bench, and Loki sat down beside her.
"What would you suggest that I start with to see if this mortal can learn?" Loki asked.
"Does this mortal have a name?" Frigga asked in return.
"His name is Peter," Loki admitted.
"Peter," Frigga repeated. Her lips tilted up slightly. "Well, I would suggest that you begin with thread magic." Thread magic was the simplest form of magic to manage, and she could remember learning it herself all those years ago and teaching it to Loki in this very garden. The most basic of spells could be woven with it. She plucked a string from the Fabric and let it swell up between her slender fingers. "Control is key above all else."
Loki's eyes were trained on the golden knot of seidr, and he almost unconsciously mimicked her, his own green magic weaving around his knuckles. His skin glowed under its shimmer. Frigga smiled in approval.
"I think I can manage that," Loki said. The thread of magic dissipated into nothing once more. She let her own thread fall away.
"Well, if you require any guidance in the teaching area, all you have to do is ask," Frigga told him.
"Thank you, Mother," Loki said.
"I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor, son. Now, come with me," Frigga responded as she moved to her feet. Loki stood up as well. "I have some new potions that I would like you to help me brew."
"You require me assistance even after I am grown?" Loki asked with a short chuckle.
"Do not act as though you do not wish to help me," Frigga chided. She turned on her heel and walked briskly toward her workroom, knowing that Loki would follow. Her skilled hands began to sort through the dried ingredients as her son lit a fire under one of the pans. "Perhaps you could tell me about your new friend."
"I do not know if I would say that we are friends, Mother. I only met him a few times, and two of those were purely accidental," Loki said.
"But you enjoy his company," Frigga remarked. It was not a question.
"I suppose that I do, yes," Loki admitted. She nodded knowingly and began to deftly slice up some herbal roots.
When one was a Trickster god such Loki was, stairs and other methods of traveling levels of a building were optional. And Loki saw no need to go in the elevator. It was not as though he was currently with the child yet. The soles of his boots thudded lightly as his feet touched down on the cement floor of the corridor. There were a line of doors, each with metal numbers hanging over them, glinting in the yellowish light that was projected from the bulbs above his head. Loki strode toward a door on his left, and he raised his hand to rap his knuckles sharply against the wood.
He leaned back slightly on his heels as he heard a resounding clatter echo within the dwelling. Footsteps approached the door, and it was dragged open at last. He was greeted with the sight of a woman with her dark hair piled messily at the back of her head. She was actually rather beautiful for a mortal and a few years younger than he had expected. A blue and white apron was tied around her waist, and the words 'kiss the cook' were emblazoned in a cursive script over a chef's hat. Her eyes widened as she took him in, surprise crossing her features.
"Oh, hi. How can I help you?" the woman asked.
"I am here to meet with your nephew," Loki said. He gave her a polite smile.
"Peter? What do you want with him? And who are you?" the boy's aunt asked.
"My name is Loki Odinson. I am of Asgard," Loki said.
"Asgard?" She frowned, her brows pinching together in confusion. "Is that in Sweden?" the woman asked him.
"No," Loki said simply.
"Oh, Ben mentioned you to me earlier. You had sandwiches with them a couple weeks ago, right?" the woman realized.
"That would be correct, madam," Loki said.
"You're so well mannered. Just call me May. Everyone else does," the woman told him with a small shrug. "Speaking of manners, where are mine? Please, come in."
She opened the door a little wider and stepped to the side, allowing him to walk inside. May shut the door and twisted the little bolt into place, its silver chain clinking minutely. She turned back to Loki, looking up at him expectantly.
"So what do you want to speak to Peter about?" May asked.
"I dabble in the finer arts, and he wished for me to teach him some of my skills," Loki said.
"The finer what? Are you, like, a painter?" May asked.
"No, I am afraid not," Loki said.
He tapped the air near her left arm, and when she turned her head to look, he tilted up the bundle of flowers he had summoned to her. Her eyes widened, and she laughed.
"Okay. That is pretty impressive. Where'd you even hide that?" May asked. She accepted the flowers from his hand and held them near her face to inhale their gentle scent. "Yeah, I get it now. You're a magician."
Loki felt his jaw twitch a little at the term. She was not being intentionally insulting, and he still wished to speak her kin, so he held his usually cutting tongue. He watched her walk over to the kitchen, rummaging about and saying something about a vase.
"Where might Peter be?" Loki inquired.
As if he had summoned the child by sheer force of will, the boy in question came walking out of the hall, a book of some sort pressed under his arm. He froze in place when he noticed Loki.
"Hi, Loki. What are you doing here?" Peter asked. He glanced between his aunt and the Trickster, seeming puzzled, but he did come closer. May finally found the glass vase and plonked it on the counter, depositing the yellow flowers into it.
"Peter, your friend came over, and he says he's here to show you how to do some magic tricks. Do you know anything about that?" May asked.
The child's face brightened, and his gaze zipped over to Loki's face, excitement evident in his youthful features.
"Really? You're gonna teach me magic?" Peter said.
"I am," Loki replied.
"Yes!" Peter blurted out, hopping in place a little. Loki felt himself smile. "That's awesome." He turned toward his aunt. "Can I show Loki my room?"
"I guess you can, but keep the door open," May told him.
"Yes, Aunt May," Peter replied. He bounced forward a few steps to latch his hand over Loki's, and the Trickster blinked. "Come on, Loki."
Loki allowed himself to be dragged to the child's room. There were a few pieces of paper over the walls, which he believed were called posters unless they had changed the term since he last overheard it. Peter went over to the door and pushed it open a little more as it was only half cracked at the moment. Loki cast a minor illusion to make it seem as though they were messing about with cards like he had seen some Midgardian 'magicians' do.
"There. So what did your mom say?" the boy asked eagerly.
"She said that it is may be possible for mortals to learn," Loki said. "However." He raised a finger and waited until he was certain that Peter was focused on him. "I should let you know that learning magic is hardly going to be easy. Are you prepared to apply yourself, child?"
"Yeah. I am," Peter told him.
"Very well. Now, it is fortunate that you are so young," Loki said.
"I'm not that young," Peter interjected.
"How old are you?" Loki asked.
"Eight. And a half," Peter responded.
"You are hardly more than a babe," Loki said. Not unkindly, but he was a bit shocked. He was not entirely used to measuring mortal's ages by their appearance, so he had assumed that Peter was older than that. Eight years. "As I was saying, children are more malleable, and it is far simpler to call upon their senses to understand seidr than an adult."
"What is seidr?" Peter asked.
"It is essentially magic," Loki explained. He let his power swell up to his fingertips, turning them pale green as it wove out into a shimmering thread. "Like so."
"Whoa," Peter breathed. "Where's it come from?"
"Magic can be found in many places, but the one I most prefer to draw upon is within myself. It is by far the most reliable source," Loki said.
"Can I touch it? Is that safe?" Peter asked.
"You may," Loki said.
Peter reached out to touch the threads. The green light wound up to curl around his knuckles. The boy giggled.
"It feels funny. But, like, a good funny," Peter told him.
"That is good. Now close your eyes and try to visualize the same light within yourself. It does not need to be green. Reach in and grab it," Loki said.
The child shut his eyes obediently, and Loki watched his eyes move behind the thin material of their lids. Several minutes ticked by before Peter opened his eyes again.
"I don't think it's working," Peter sighed.
"Sit down," Loki told him. The boy went to sit on his bed. "Do not be disheartened, child. Magic cannot be mastered in a single sitting." Peter nodded slowly. "Perhaps I need to show you what it looks like first."
He held out his hand to Peter, and the boy slotted his hand in his. Loki interlocked their fingers, pressing their palms together, keeping their elbows bent. He reached out with a tendril of his magic, slipping into the inner part of the child's soul. There was a small glowing pulse of raw blueish white in its center. Loki's magic teased at the core until a small bit of it unwound, following the tendril back out. Peter let out a gasp as the hand not holding Loki's was enveloped in blue.
"Oh my gosh!" he said. Peter flexed his fingers, watching the pale glow grow brighter. "So cool." Loki dropped his hand, and the glow fizzled out rather abruptly. "Aw."
"Now that you know what it feels like, try again," Loki instructed.
That odd young man, the one with the accent she had never quite place, had ingratiated himself into their lives before she even realized it. At first, she had been a bit apprehensive about him, if only because she had never met him herself before. He had turned out to be rather polite and always seemed to have a new trick up one of his leather sleeves to teach her nephew. And the spark of excitement in Peter's eyes when he came over really clinched the deal for her. Even the days that weren't Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, the days that Loki came to visit, Peter would walk around, chattering about fantastical stories his new friend had told him.
Loki, it seemed, was one avid storyteller when he was not trying to show Peter how to do his admittedly impressive magic tricks. May and Ben didn't particularly mind that. Peter was always rather hyperactive, so it was nice that he had found someone that could capture his attention for such long periods of time. They usually hung out in the living room or in his room with the door open, so they could see them whenever they wanted to. And Loki had not done anything that would warrant a loss of trust anyway. So she didn't think there would be anything she had to worry about.
It had been almost three months of Loki coming over to their apartment when she and Ben decided to go on a date night. They hadn't had one in nearly three years. Not that that was Peter's fault at all, but they hadn't wanted to go out and find a babysitter for him while they went out. And Ned's parents worked a different schedule than them, so that usually wasn't a good option. May walked out her bedroom, wearing a dress with flowers lining the hems of it. Ben was wearing his nice jeans, and they walked over to the living room where Loki and Peter were.
"Ah, I dropped it again," Peter exclaimed. The boy hopped off the couch and knelt down, peering under the couch. He reached out with his spindly arm to pull the coin back out.
"Peter, we'll be going now," May said as he came back up, plopping onto the couch next to Loki. "If you need anything, call us."
"Yes, Aunt May," Peter replied.
"Thank you for doing this," Ben told Loki.
"It is nothing," Loki said.
"Alright. Boys, don't have too much fun while we're gone," May remarked as they walked to the door.
"Bye!" Peter called. He waved to them, and May smiled, giving him a small wave back before she shut the door.
Peter swung his feet, batting absently at the air as he leaned back against the couch cushions. Loki watched him let out a frustrated sigh. His small fingers wiggled over the worn fabric of his jacket.
"Why is it so hard to keep holding it?" Peter asked.
"If it was easy, even a simpleton could do magic," Loki said. "But look on the bright side. You held it far longer than usual this time."
"Yeah, I guess," Peter conceded.
"You can try one more time, and then, I think you should stop for tonight," Loki said.
"Do I have to stop? Aunt May and Uncle Ben won't even be back until ten," Peter protested.
"If you overexert yourself, that can cause issues as well. I would rather you not be unable to focus on anything for a few days merely because of a case of stubbornness, child," Loki said.
The boy looked like he wanted to argue again for a moment, but his shoulders drooped a little, and he nodded.
"Okay," Peter relented. "Only one more time."
The child curled his fingers upward, as though he were trying to cup the air, and he stared intently at them. Soft blue lines of magic rose up to the surface of his skin, illuminating his face, and Peter slowly splayed his fingers out. The blue expanded with his movement, lighting up the immediate area. Peter bit his lip as a few threads rose up from his palm, lacing together. A particularly abrasive honk came from the street below, and the child jolted, the magic fading from his hands as a result of his loss of concentration. Peter slumped back against the couch, exhaling through his nose.
"You did well," Loki said.
He waved his hand, and a bag of Cheetos fell into Peter's lap. He had found that the boy seemed to enjoy eating these sorts of snacks, and it was important for young mages to keep themselves fed and watered. Magic took up a lot of energy in novices. The child smiled and lifted up the bag to tear it open.
"Thanks. What do you wanna do now?" Peter asked. He shoved a fistful of the orange snack into his mouth, crunching down on it.
"How about a story?" Loki suggested.
"Ooh, yes please," Peter said. He nodded. The boy curled his legs under himself, settling back against the cushions.
"Long ago," Loki began. "I had a much healthier relationship with my father. I used to travel with him as he visited the Nine Realms. On one of our excursions, it chanced that a great eagle swooped from the sky and stole me away."
"No," Peter gasped.
"Yes. Now, shush, child. The eagle flew me to another realm and deposited me on an iceberg in Jotunheim, leaving me to freeze and starve to death. The eagle was a shapeshifter and a giant with a grudge against me by the name of Thiassi. He proposed a ransom. My freedom in exchange for the apples of Idunn," Loki said.
"What's so special about those apples?" Peter asked.
"The apples of Idunn grant those who live in Asgard health and youth, which is what allows us to live thousands of years without appearing to age. I am sure that you can imagine why Thiassi was so enamored with them. However, there was one small issue. The apples could only be picked by Idunn herself, and so, Thiassi needed Idunn." Loki sighed and shook his head. "I was young and reckless. I agreed and even swore on Ygdrassil, thusly binding myself to the task. Thiassi changed his form back to that of an eagle and flew me to the edge of Asgard," he continued.
"What did you do, then?" Peter asked.
"Well, I had to convince Idunn to come with me, so I regaled her with a tale of apples that were far superior to her own. Idunn walked out of the garden gates, carrying her basket of apples, and Thiassi swept down from the sky once more to snatch her up in his talons. He stole her away and hid her in a cave. With Idunn gone, the gods of Asgard began to feel the effects of aging. Odin feared wasting away to nothing, and he sent Hugin and Munin to find out what had become of Idunn."
"Who are they? His scouts?" Peter interjected.
"That is a word for them. But they are not Aesir, merely ravens. They returned to my father and spoke to him of my involvement in Idunn's disappearance. He was furious and sent my brother to threaten me. Thor nearly expelled me from Asgard in the process." There was a wry twist to his lips. "Mother lent me her dress of feathers, and I turned into a falcon, flying to Jotunheim. The daughter of Thiassi, Skadi I believe her name was, found me and took me in as a pet. I allowed her to do so until she took me to her father's secret cave. I escaped from her grasp and flew out of her reach, but she had already lost interest with me, moving onto a new plaything."
"Did you find Idunn?" Peter asked.
"I did. I called to her, and she hid her basket of apples in a place that the giant would not think to look. I changed her form to that of a sparrow, and we flew back to Asgard together. However, Thiassi had discovered Idunn's absence and came after us," he said.
Loki spread his fingers and let his magic take the form of three birds, racing across the sky. The scene was painted clear in his mind, reflected through the little illusionary figures. The child was rapt with attention.
"A few of the Asgardians lit a special fire atop the wall surrounding the city, and Idunn and I managed to slip in between the flames. Thiassi was not as fortunate. No matter how much he beat his wings, the fire remained high and impenetrable. His feathers singed, and he lost flight, falling through the sky and landing far below, a broken creature that was half giant and half eagle. But Odin and Thor and all the rest of them were happy to have Idunn and her apples back because they feared the cold uncertainty of death," Loki concluded. His illusions faded away.
"Were you okay?" Peter asked.
"Was I okay?" Loki repeated. He frowned. "I suppose so. I sustained no grave injuries. Why?"
"Well, you did just get kidnapped, and you almost died!" Peter said.
"To be honest, I have had worse experiences," Loki admitted. It was Peter's turn to frown, and he wiggled a little closer to him. The boy wrapped his arms around him. Loki stiffened.
"Well, I'm glad you didn't get hurt," Peter said. Loki felt an odd tightness in his chest.
When Peter was nine, all he wanted to do was go to the Stark Expo. While the Stark Expo was seen as some really high end event, the tickets themselves weren't that expensive these days, so they could totally go. Tony Stark believed that science should be accessible for everyone, and wasn't that awesome? The Stark Expo was mostly nonprofit, charging just enough per ticket to pay for the employees on duty and for the lights and stuff. But Peter didn't really understand all of that money stuff yet. He was finally going to see all those new things for himself, in person.
Even if Mr. Stark wasn't supposed to be attending, it was still going to be amazing. Science had always fascinated Peter, which made Loki laugh when he brought it up. Not in a mean way, but that way adults did when they were amused. Loki didn't laugh all that often, so Peter counted that as a win. He would also let Peter tell him about all the stuff he had learned for hours sometimes. But going back to the other thing, it had taken a few weeks of begging his aunt and uncle until they finally agreed to take him. Uncle Ben thought he had a future in science and wanted to encourage his enthusiasm.
Wearing his new Iron Man mask and fake repulsor, Peter walked between the Expo attractions with his aunt and uncle. They were on either side of him, each holding one of his hands tightly, so he wouldn't get too distracted by one of the items and wander off. Which, to be fair, wasn't an unfair assumption. Peter was a rather excitable kid, and he could be little reckless sometimes. There were so many lights and people and sounds, it was almost overwhelming. Peter looked around at everything he could, his brown eyes going wide behind his mask.
"Uncle Ben, this is so cool! Aunt May, did you see that?" Peter rambled excitedly.
"I sure did," Aunt May said as she glanced at the lit up screen that had caught her nephew's attention. "Do you wanna see the presentation, honey?"
She pointed over to the hall where people were starting to congregate under the vast skylights. The boy nodded.
"Yeah, let's go," Peter agreed.
He tugged his guardians toward the hall, and they managed to get a decent spot near the middle of the crowd. Peter liked the seat he got. Not right at the edge of the line, but it was close to it. There were a lot of those metal prototypes on the stage, and then, a guy in a suit came in front of them. He had just started speaking, and everyone got up from their chairs to applaud. It was a bit harder for him to see anything with all the adults in the way, but he would never miss the red and gold figure that appeared. The boy gasped and tugged on Aunt May's hand.
"Look. It's Iron Man!" Peter said.
"Where's Vanko?" Iron Man asked the guy in the suit.
"What - what are you doing here, man?" Mr. Hammer stammered. He turned away from the crowd to face him.
One of the drones had a gun come out of his shoulder, and someone screamed as Iron Man lifted up off the stage. Iron Man flew up higher and went out the roof, causing the rest of the drones to open fire, shooting the glass. More people started to scream and run. Peter was pulled along by Uncle Ben and Aunt May for a while until he suddenly couldn't feel a hand in his anymore. More people were pushing and running, yelling really loud. He wanted to look around for his aunt or uncle, but the adults were too tall for him to see anything.
His legs carried him away even though he didn't really want to. Suddenly, someone shoved him so hard that he fell to the concrete ground. He was probably outside of the Expo center now. His ungloved hand felt like it was bleeding a little, as were his knees, but he didn't care about the pain. He stood up again, and he noticed that there was no crowd of people around him now. The area by him was empty. He heard loud footsteps as a drone made its way toward him, looking for a new target. Peter knew that his magic was barely good enough to move small objects yet, but he didn't feel scared.
The boy lifted his head up, staring determinedly at the drone as it locked its gaze onto him. Peter focused the little tingle inside him, letting it push out to his fingers and click on the light in his repulsor. He raised his hand, uncurling his fingers. The yellow light of toy repulsor shone on the drone as it lowered its gun toward him. There was a metallic thunk behind him and a distinct whir. Peter jumped back, shocked, when a very real repulsor went off, and the drone scattered to pieces on the floor, sparks flying. It was Iron Man!
"Nice work, kid," Iron Man said.
With that, his idol flew off. Peter stared after him, his mouth falling open a little under his mask. Wow. A woman ran past him, and he got pushed to the ground again. Peter winced, the pain from last time registering as well.
"Peter?" a familiar voice asked.
Peter looked up and saw Loki kneeling in front of him. He was wearing normal clothes this time instead of his usual leather armor. The man pulled off his mask and placed his hands on his shoulders, lifting him to his feet. There was a frown on Loki's face.
"Loki," Peter said.
"Come along now, child. It isn't safe," Loki told him.
He took the boy by the hand and pulled. That was the best word for it, really. The world dissolved around them, and Peter almost fell over as they landed again, mere seconds later. They were a good deal further away from the drones. Loki ran his fingers above the scraped skin of Peter's palm and knees, enveloping them in green. The pain faded as the light did.
"Thank you," Peter said.
"You're welcome. Now, I believe your aunt and uncle will be worried about you," Loki responded. He gestured to the other side of the road where Aunt May and Uncle Ben were going between throngs of people, calling for him. Peter tugged on Loki's hand as he darted over to them.
"Aunt May! I'm over here!" Peter yelled.
"Peter? Peter? Peter! Oh my God, Peter!" Aunt May and Uncle Ben went over to them. His aunt knelt in front of him and started checking him over. "Honey, oh my God, did you get hurt, sweetie? Are you okay?" she asked frantically, shaking a little herself.
"I'm okay, Aunt May," Peter said. He glanced over at Loki. The Trickster placed his hand Peter's shoulder, a cool and comforting weight.
"I do not mean to be inconsiderate, but we should really move from here," Loki suggested. A drone a few hundred yards away shook oddly and shorted out, falling out of the air and landing in spot without any people.
The URL link gives you an adorable scene I found from the Kid Loki comics. And here's another one.
The voices of warriors, loud and boisterous, rang off the golden walls, drowning out the low crackling of the hearth's flames. The ruckus of their roguish tale spinning and laughter hid the footsteps of the lone mage well enough that Lady Sif and the Warriors Three were surprised when Loki suddenly appeared beside the fire pit. Thor was the only one who did not startle at his brother's inconspicuous entrance as he was used to such things. Though Loki could at times still sneak up on him. The group fell silent. Thor swiveled on his perch on the glossy floors, craning his neck to meet Loki's gaze. The blonde stretched out his legs toward the flickering flames, soaking up the warmth.
"Brother, back from the libraries so soon?" Thor offered in way of greeting, grinning. He tilted his mug up to Loki. "Perhaps you would like to join us in our discussion."
Thor seemed glad to see him. Well, he usually was glad to see most people when he was halfway into his cups, so Loki chose not to take it personally. This he was used to. Thor was either an overly affectionate drunkard or an aggressive one, depending on the day. Fandral rolled his eyes, leaning back on his elbows.
"Oh, yes. We were just setting Thor straight about our battle in Myrkheim a fortnight ago. About how we saved his hide-" The man paused and turned around to look at Loki. "You were there, were you not? Inform your brother of how I saved him with my impressive battle skills."
Loki shook his head in mock pity, raising a single brow of disbelief. A myriad of shadows danced across his pale skin.
"If I recall correctly, Fandral, it was I who delivered us from danger. Remember the illusion I cast, or has the blow to your head made you forget?" the Trickster said.
Loki returned Thor's smile, leaning his back against one of the stone pillars that decorated Asgard's royal halls. He folded his arms across his chest. Fandral smirked at him.
"You mean that little trick you pulled? That was more like putting a stop to the thrill of battle, rather than a defensive strategy," the warrior scoffed. Loki heard Volstagg let out a deep chuckle.
"Come now, Loki. Go back to burying your nose in your tomes and scrolls in the library. We are talking of real battle here, not magic. Your tricks are only useful when hiding from conflict," Volstagg remarked.
Loki feigned astonishment, widening his eyes as if in shock.
"I am surprised you know of books, Volstagg, considering they are not edible," the Trickster said.
Fandral and Thor burst into laughter while the Lady Sif rolled her eyes, taking another draught from her ale. Hogun sighed, looking grim as ever. Volstagg frowned. At Volstagg's frown, Thor composed himself.
"Loki, have care how you speak with our friends," his brother scolded with a grin.
While they were not, in fact, Loki's friends, he had long since given up on correcting Thor on that matter. It was like attempting to drill sense into a brick wall. His brother was immeasurably stubborn.
"Twas merely a jest, brother. Right, Volstagg?" Loki said. He shrugged and glanced at the other man. The warrior thudded his mug on the ground.
"I do not doubt it. Although I did not speak in jest. I have never stood by the fact that magic will be superior to brute strength in battle," Volstagg remarked.
"Do not be so harsh, Volstagg. 'tis not Loki's fault that he cannot lift a blade," he chuckled.
"Aye, but even a maiden such as the Lady Sif can wield a weapon," Volstagg stated. At Lady Sif's growl, he was quick to amend. "No offense, Sif."
His brother chortled lightly, and Loki reigned in the urge to scowl. Thor turned to him and made a gesture for him to come closer.
"Come sit with us, brother," Thor insisted. Hogun and Lady Sif exchanged irritated looks at this suggestion, but Loki made no sign to show that he had noticed. He was, nevertheless, going to say something that might be considered unkind when Thor spoke again. "There is plenty more ale-"
There was a loud quack! Quack quack... quack quack. Loki froze, and Thor stopped speaking. He slapped his hand over the pocket containing the Midgardian device, as though to muffle the sound, but it did not do much in the way of that. It was under his tunic, but Lady Sif seemed to notice the movement. The mobile continued to utter its quacking ringtone in increasing frequency.
"What trick have you done now, Loki?" Lady Sif demanded.
"What in the Hel is that sound?" Volstagg asked, puzzlement crossing his face.
They all looked to Loki in askance, in varying degrees of hostility. Loki held up a finger for them to wait and pulled out the mobile, sliding the lock screen open. Sure enough, a little Lego Jar Jar Binks icon flashed across the screen with the child's name under it. Well, Peter was the only reason he had gotten the phone in the first place, so it would have been strange if it had been anyone else. But he had never called him before, only texted.
"Loki-" Thor started to say.
"My apologies. I have to take this. TTYL," Loki said.
"Loki!" Thor repeated, but he was already walking away. Briskly.
Loki pressed the answer button and held the device up to his ear. The quacking finally ended as the line clicked on. Perhaps he should not have allowed his magic to act as a hotspot, but sometimes Peter liked to send him these silly pictures and little moving pictures. They were infuriatingly hilarious.
"What is the matter, child?" Loki asked.
"Oh, hi, Loki!" Peter said.
"Hello," Loki replied patiently. "Why have you called me? Is there an emergency?"
"Um, no. Sorry if I scared you. I just wasn't sure if you'd answer a text so late. But we're making pancakes tomorrow morning, and Aunt May wants to know if you want to come. Uh, you don't have to if you're busy or whatever," Peter said.
A small smile lifted the Trickster's lips, and he tapped his fingers lightly against the wall.
"Yes. I would love some. I have not have the pleasure of eating them before," Loki told him.
"Seriously? Dude, you have to try pancakes. That's, like, a given! Why is this the first time I'm hearing this?" Loki chuckled. "Don't worry. We're going to make sure you get to have the full experience," Peter said.
"Well, thank you for your consideration," Loki responded. "What time would you like me to be there?"
"Can you be there by ten?" Peter asked.
"Of course," Loki said.
The globe of seidr hovered between Loki's hands. It was a pale hue of green and cast a shallow light against his face, making his features seem almost ethereal. But he was hardly an angel from one of the Midgardian's sacred texts. Loki was leaning forward slightly on the chair he was sat upon, focusing intently on his intricate magics. The little globe twirled gently in the air, like a world. It bobbed as though tossed on the waters of its seas. A bubble appeared on its smooth and shiny surface, and then, subsided into its own luminescence.
Loki wore his horned battle helmet, but he was not preparing for war. His attire was more leisurely than battle worthy at the present. His green tunic was one that was meant more for lounging than going out. His verdant eyes narrowed slightly as he twisted his fingers, altering the globe's size to shrink just that much more. He was beginning to teach the child of the complexities of simple spellwork, and he was attempting to remind himself of the things he himself had learned around this time of his training. Loki effortlessly curled the threads of seidr tighter in its center.
"You are lost in thought," the Enchantress remarked.
Loki ignored her for perhaps twenty seconds. Then, he raised his eyes, heavy with irony, to meet hers. The little ball stayed in the air between his palms, untouched, turning slowly on its axis.
"Amora. Beautiful and dangerous as ever, I see," Loki said.
"What is that? One of those baubles that Midgardians place on their felled trees at Yule?" Amora asked.
"Those are Christmas tree ornaments," Loki said with a brief laugh. He clasped his hands together, intertwining his fingers. The small sphere disappeared after a moment even if his fingers continued to glow green for a while longer. "And of course not."
"Ah. A game perhaps?" Amora suggested as she moved to sit on the step near his booted feet. Her green skirt pooled neatly around her. She smiled, full lips lifting up, but her eyes were too sharp. The Enchantress began to massage his calf above where his boot ended. "However, you do not carry the scent of lustful spells."
"You are Asgard's greatest expert on that matter," Loki said, twitching his leg as if to pull it back. Her touch was warm and enticing, but it was never wise to let one's guard down around her. "And not all I do has to be so... crude, Amora."
"Well, it is fortunate that none has won your fickle heart." The Enchantress stood up from the step and walked closer to him, running a slender finger along the length of the golden horn that curved up from his temple. A chuckle found its way past her lips as she leaned near his ear, warm breath curling around the lobe. "You reek of mortals," Amora whispered.
A sly smile crossed Loki's lips, and he glanced at her when she moved back.
"Do not tell me that you have become jealous of my excursions now," Loki said.
Amora smirked, reaching forward to grasp the golden horns, and removed the helmet from his head. He allowed her to do so without protest, and she set it gently on the ground beside his chair. Her deft fingers began to run through his disordered hair as she let her body curve closer to him.
"I hold no particular fondness for you," Amora admitted easily. "Though you were hardly inadequate when we were together."
"Are you offering yourself to me?" Loki asked, amused. He caught her wrist and pulled it away from his hair. She moved back a little.
"I might. I remember what fun it was last time." There was a lascivious twist to her lips. "Perhaps one day your skills will be as great as mine," Amora replied.
"In which department are you speaking of?" Loki asked.
"Either. Both," was her response.
She lifted one of her shoulders in an elegant shrug. Loki was hardly in the mood for her games. He had been far more naive once, and they might have 'played' for a few weeks straight. But not today.
"Why have you come, Amora?" Loki asked.
"I did not think that mortals were your fancy," Amora remarked offhandedly. Loki's gaze sharpened as she continued. "You could not make more of your spawn without such severe consequences, so you decided to twist another's to your whims? How devious."
"That isn't what happened," Loki snapped.
"Oh, do not look so worried, Loki. I will not be telling Father dearest that his son likes to play caretaker to an insignificant little mortal," Amora assured him. She leaned forward to rest her palms on his thighs, pressing them apart, fingers lightly squeezing the firm muscle. "I doubt he cares. And I think it's cute. If a little pathetic. Poor Loki just wants to be a daddy."
Loki grit his teeth, feeling a sharp pang of anguish in his chest, but he quickly buried it in anger. Anger was hot and bright, and one could do far more with anger than sadness.
"You know nothing," Loki said.
"Oh? I imagine that I know you quite well, dear," Amora replied. "But I should remind you as you seem to have forgotten. It's a heartbeat. A blink of the eye. Tomorrow, a decade, a century from now. That sweet boy of yours will die, and you cannot do a single thing about it." She hummed thoughtfully and slid her hands up his thighs, the tips of her fingers brushing his hips. "Will you be ready for that?"
The Trickster stood up from his chair so quickly that Amora would have tripped over her skirt if she were a less graceful woman. Her touch left him.
"That is enough," Loki said. The air was heavy with barely suppressed magic. "Do not speak to me of the child again."
"What passion! Have I struck a nerve?" Amora asked. Loki only grew silent in the midst of verbal jousting when he was genuinely furious. This so happened to be one of those times. The Enchantress seemed surprised for a moment before her eyes lit up in realization. "Sentimentality is a dangerous emotion."
"You have not an ounce of sentiment in your entire body. It is all lust and conquest," Loki said.
"I hope that you do not believe that to be offensive to me," Amora replied. Loki summoned his helmet back to his hand with a thought, and he slotted it on over his hair once more. He stepped past Amora even as she called after him. "You know I speak the truth."
Now, it might not always seem like this as he could be a bit spacey during class sometimes, but Peter was a rather observant kid. And Loki seemed a little off today. Peter couldn't really tell you what was wrong with him if someone were to ask him, but he had spent enough afternoons after school with him to notice when he was not acting normal. It was pretty subtle. Most of Loki's emotions tended to be harder to read than most people he had met unless they were discussing pranks that they wanted to do when Peter got better with his magic.
Well, Peter might not know what was making Loki have a bad day - or week, in this instance - but he could certainly try to cheer him up. And naturally, he consulted his best friend on the issue. Ned always came up with some pretty great ideas. It was lunch time, and they were sitting under the big oak tree opposite the swing set. Peter had a notepad open in his lap, mechanical pencil at the ready as they brainstormed. The grass was starting to get a little scratchy under his ankles, but Peter didn't really notice that much. He tapped his eraser against his chin.
"So what do you think?" Peter asked.
"Well, I mean, you said he likes pranks, right?" Ned said.
"Yeah," Peter confirmed with a nod. He pushed his glasses back up his nose as they slid down a little. "All sorts. He's wicked good at planning them. Sometimes he takes months to plan just one."
"Wow." Ned looked impressed. "Well, uh, you could find something or someone for him to do with all that, I guess," Ned suggested.
Peter scribbled 'plan a prank pronto' on his notepad. He frowned.
"I just don't know if I can plan a good one like he does. What else have you got?" Peter asked.
"Have you tried just asking him what's wrong? Some people feel better if they just vent," Ned said.
"I tried, but he didn't really give me a straight answer," Peter told him. "But I know something's up."
"Hmm. Alright. Does he like sweet things?" Ned asked.
"Um... I mean, I guess he does," Peter said. He thought back to when Loki had practically drowned his pancakes in syrup. "Yeah."
"That's great because the savory thing you'd definitely have to ask your uncle for help. But I do know how to make some killer brownies," Ned continued. The other boy's eyes got wide behind his glasses, and he grinned.
"Ned. You're a genius," Peter said.
"Thanks," Ned replied.
"Can you get your dad to let you come to my place on today after school? 'Cause then, we can all bake brownies," Peter said.
"And watch The Phantom Menace?" Ned suggested. "I just got all the prequels on DVD."
"Yes, that. Definitely that," Peter agreed. He scribbled down the rest of the stuff, circling brownie mix just as the bell for class rang, signalling recess was over.
By some odd manner of fate of coincidence, Loki had somehow never actually met Ned. Which Peter thought was kind of weird. It wasn't like they never talked to him on the same day, but Loki managed to come around his apartment either before his friend had arrived or right after he had left. Every time. But whatever. Peter was sure that they would get along just fine. Peter had just finished setting out the ingredients on the counter when he heard the doorbell go off. Ned got Aunt May to turn on the oven while Peter went to go get the door.
"Hi, Loki," Peter said.
"Hello, child," Loki replied. Peter moved out of the way, so that the man could come inside.
"I've got someone for you to meet," the boy said. He motioned for him to follow him, and they walked over to the kitchen. Ned was pouring the brownie mix into the mixing bowl. "Ned, this is Loki. Loki, Ned." He pointed between them.
Loki seemed surprised for a moment as he looked at Ned. Ned blinked at Loki before he looked over at Peter.
"You know, the way Peter always talks about you, I thought you were more around our age," the other boy remarked. Ned smiled at Loki. "Nice to meet you."
"It is nice to meet you as well," Loki acceded.
"We're making brownies," Peter said.
He picked up an egg from the carton and handed it to Loki. Loki stared down at the egg with a frown.
"Have you cooked before?" Ned asked.
"Not... manually," Loki admitted.
"Well, just rap the egg like this against the side of a bowl," Ned said. He demonstrated by tapping his own egg on the side of the mixing bowl. He cracked open the shell and let the yolk fall out into the batter. "Now you try."
Loki stepped forward to tap the egg on the bowl, and it promptly shattered. The man blinked as his yolk ended up on the counter and his hand instead of the bowl. Shards of egg shell were mixed with the congealed mess of clear and yellow. Loki's lips twitched up at the edges.
"That's okay. Just do a little softer. You don't have to use your horsepower on it," Peter said.
He handed Loki a new egg as the goopy mess disappeared in a soft green light. Loki managed to crack open the egg and get it in the bowl this time. Peter added three teaspoons of water, and Ned put in the vegetable oil.
"Now to get it all mixed up," Ned told them. He pushed the bowl toward Loki, and the man picked up the whisk that they had indicated earlier. After a few minutes of stirring, Ned stopped him. "We already got the pan set up, so it just has to be poured in."
"Very well," Loki said. He upended the bowl in the pan sitting on the stove, and Peter smoothed out the batter with the back of a spoon. "What do we do with this now?"
"It goes in the oven, second rack," Ned explained. Loki yanked open the oven door, forgoing oven mitts, and shoved the pan inside. He closed the door again.
"We just have to wait, like, half an hour, and then, we'll have brownies," Peter said. He held up the spoon to Loki. "Want to lick the spoon?"
"Why would I do that?" Loki asked. He raised a brow inquisitively.
"There's no sense in letting good chocolate go to waste," Ned chimed in.
Loki nodded slowly and took the spoon from Peter. He stuck it into his mouth. His face smoothed out around the spoon, and his eyes slipped shut. The man let out a pleased little hum and pulled the spoon back out.
"Like it?" Peter asked. He and Ned were scraping off bits of batter from the whisk with their fingers and eating them.
"Yes. I did. Thank you," Loki said. Peter smiled and gave Ned a subtle fist bump. Success.