It was so similar. This timeline was so similar to his own, but it just wasn’t right . He was getting along with this timeline’s Mobius well enough, sure, but he wasn’t his Mobius. They didn’t have a history, they didn’t have a level of well-earned trust and admiration. Loki wanted his Mobius back. The timeline’s native Mobius didn’t seem sure what to make of Loki and his dour demeanor, though he certainly tried to lighten the mood now and again. It just wasn’t the same. This Mobius hadn’t studied Loki’s life, didn’t know a damn thing about him.
Loki sat on the edge of the balcony of what was once the TVA’s library picking at the frayed edge of his shirt cuff. There was rubble everywhere, a sort of somber chaos permeating the air around him. Some part of him recognized he should probably feel some semblance of comfort in such an environment, but Loki just couldn’t muster the energy to give a damn. The day was won and all that nonsense, but what did it matter, really, if he was stuck here?
Someone sat down beside him. He didn’t need to look up to see who it was.
“You know, most people are at least a little happy after freeing an entire universe from unfair tyrannical rule,” the Mobius said as his legs dangled over the edge with Loki’s.
Loki ignored him, not much in the mood for chitchat right now.
“What, now that you’ve tasted victory you suddenly lost your silver tongue?”
“Mobius--” Loki tried not to wince, calling the man sitting beside him by name. “--please, I don’t feel much like celebrating right now. I’d like to be alone for the moment.”
Loki finally looked up at the man with a clear frown. Mobius didn’t look bothered at all as he also gazed out over what was once the TVA headquarters. Loki expected more, but groaned in annoyance when none came. Even without a history between them, it seemed that any Mobius variant had a way of weaseling their way into Loki’s mindset, because he just couldn’t leave the conversation hanging where it was.
“Is there a reason you won’t leave me in peace?” Loki lightly snapped.
The native Mobius shrugged before looking back over at him. Loki swallowed as a strange feeling fluttered about in his chest. The man smiled slightly at him, a warmth in his eyes that made the god long to see that expression on his Mobius again. He tore his eyes away.
“Yeah, there is,” the former agent said with a shrug. “Dunno if you’ll like it or not, though.”
“Then keep it to yourself, if you please,” Loki grumbled back.
“Ahh, you used to be fun,” the Mobius complained with a childish pout. Then, before Loki could respond, he said “What’s got you so down in the dumps?”
Loki stared down at his feet dangling below him.
“Come on, Loki, you can trust me.”
The flutter in his chest seized into a tight pain. Loki closed his eyes and let out a long breath. He did trust Mobius. His Mobius, not the near-stranger sitting beside him. They may look and sound the same, but they weren’t. He didn’t truly know this Mobius, so he could never really trust him, not like he wished he could.
“There are a lot of branches now, aren’t there?”
Mobius nodded. “Yeah, there are.”
Loki wrung his hands. “I could very well be an old man before I find my way back to my own.”
He could see the native Mobius frown out of the corner of his eye.
“You still want to get back to your original timeline?” he asked. “Even after...all this? Seeing how it ends? You’d rather…”
It wasn’t until Mobius trailed off that it really hit Loki. He didn’t just want to see his Mobius again; he wanted to go home . Not his original timeline where he was the prince of Asgard and a would-be conqueror of worlds, but the strange little niche he had found himself in where he had finally been seen as an individual...as himself . Where he had not one, but two friends who understood him, accepted him. That was his true home.
“No. No, I...don’t mean that,” was all that he said.
There was a brief silence between them. The pair listened to the faraway mumblings and calls of others, as well as the creaks and groans of the weakened infrastructure around them.
“If you could go back,” the man beside him said quietly, “What would you do?”
“I don’t know,” Loki admitted with a self-deprecating laugh. He looked down at his hands and gave a small shake of his head. “But I do know who I would do it with.”
“...Oh? You, uh, you mean Sylvie. That’s her name, right? The, uh--” Mobius waved a hand at him. “--the other you.”
“Yes. Well, I would like to see Sylvie again. I just…”
Loki caught his tongue perhaps a little too late. He had never been one to wear his emotions out on his sleeve, at least not if he could help it. And yet, the ache in his heart that he had only recently began to acknowledge urged him to speak. To be seen. He just wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. Any words that escaped his lips couldn’t be unheard, especially in his own ears.
“Who do you mean, Loki?” the Mobius asked softly as he closely watched the god alongside him with rapt attention.
The silence stretched longer than it should have. Loki didn’t dare look up, too distracted by the sound of his own desperate heartbeat.
“Mobius. My...Mobius,” Loki said at last with an apologetic glance to the other variant.
“You miss him?” the man asked, almost sounding surprised.
Loki wrung his hands and sighed in defeat. What did it matter anymore if he admitted how much the agent had come to mean to him now? There were too many timelines, too many TVAs, too many...variables.
“Of course I miss him. He is my friend. He…” Loki shook his head and turned his gaze heavenward as he formulated his words. “I... care about him. Very much. More than I ever thought I would. More than I ever thought I could ,” he admitted with a surprised blink.
The native Mobius offered him a small smile. “Tell me about him.”
“There’s not much to tell, really, particularly to you.”
“Well what is it you like about him? It’s clear you prefer him over me, so…” His voice quieted. “What’s the difference?”
Loki took a moment to gather his thoughts. “It’s difficult to put into words. He...sees me. He understands what others do not, enough to even spot a bluff or a trick. He’s brilliant that way. But even then, he’ll ...compliment me. No one has ever complimented my schemes before.” Loki wet his lips, somehow unable to stop himself now that he had begun.
“Mobius is clever, he’s curious and supportive, and despite the woefully limited color palette in his wardrobe and his surprising choice in facial hair, he is a man who can appreciate the beauty in all things. Even things he...cannot have.”
The man beside him snorted in amusement. “I’ll try not to be offended by that. What else?”
Loki rolled his shoulders back. “He is a loyal, adventurous soul with a good heart. Strong conviction. An...admirable man.”
There was a gentle lull in the conversation as Loki lost himself in his own thoughts for a moment.
“It...sure sounds like you’re talking about someone you care about maybe...a bit more than a friend.”
And that was the crux of the matter, now wasn’t it? Loki sighed and hung his head in mild shame. He wasn’t just disappointed that he was separated from his dearest friend. His soul was heavy with words left unsaid that...may have made the man even more.
“I...never got to tell him,” Loki mumbled. “And I’m afraid that, with the Sacred Timeline obliterated, there may be little true chance of finding the correct point in space and time again.”
Mobius sat back. “You know, you’re right. There are... way too many branches in the timeline stacked on top of each other. Maybe even an infinite number. It would be damn near impossible to find the right one for you to get back to your version of Mobius.”
Loki looked at him with a deadly glare. The former agent only smiled back at him with a tender look in his eye.
“But hey, you never know. I mean, you’re Loki , after all, right? God of Mischief, master of seiðr, the pesky scamp that no one can ever quite manage to pin down? If anyone could do the impossible, it’s you. And hey, if your Mobius is as great a guy as you say he is, who’s to say he’s not out there right now trying to find you, too?”
Loki only just opened his mouth to reply when someone interrupted them from behind.
“Well, the cafeteria looks like a twister ran through it, but they still had some pudding cups that weren't squashed and…oh,” The Mobius stopped as he approached the pair.
The Mobius sitting next to Loki broke into a smile. “Perfect timing!” he said happily as he got to his feet.
Loki stared at the pudding cup Mobius for only a second longer before whipping back around to look up at the Mobius he had been speaking with for the past few minutes. The man stood there, hands in his pockets and beaming down at Loki like he had just gotten away with something. Which, the god supposed, he actually had.
“You…” Loki quickly scrambled to his feet, not once taking his eyes off of the grinning Mobius. “Is it really…” The trickster’s growing elation slowly began to dissolve into a frown. “You sat there and let me think--! Let me say all of--!” Loki clenched his jaw tightly for a moment before he found himself bursting into laughter. “You...cheeky devil!”
Mobius shrugged. “What can I say? You’ve started to rub off on me,” he teased.
Neither man needed further prompting. Mobius took his hands out of his pocket in time for Loki to wrap his arms around him. Each held the other tightly, relaxing at last in the relief that they were actually together again after all that had happened.
“I feared I would never see you again.”
“I wasn’t gonna let that happen,” Mobius whispered into the god’s ear. “Especially not when it sounds like you feel the same way about me that I do about you, you mischievous scamp.”
Loki pulled back just enough to be able to speak with Mobius face to face. His eyes were wide with awed and hopeful longing. The shorter man just smiled up at him.
“What was it you never got to tell me, Loki?” he asked.
He swallowed thickly. His heart pounded in his chest.
“You mean more to me than any person in any branch of any timeline,” Loki uttered. “I didn’t expect to ever be anything but alone...but then I met you. And I think...I think I love you, Mobius.”
“Well, that’s good,” his Mobius said quietly. “Because I think I love you, too.”
Loki’s breath hitched. Mobius just snickered at the expression on the taller man’s face and reached up to press his lips against Loki’s. The kiss was chaste and brief, but as far as Loki was concerned, it was perfect. And, he suddenly realized with boundless glee, it was the first of many. Their lips parted, but Loki couldn’t seem to stop smiling.
“Come on,” his Mobius rumbled with a slight nod back over his shoulder where a time portal had opened. “Let’s go home.”
Loki smiled and nodded. He gently took the other man’s hand in his and carefully laced their fingers together. After a lifetime of loneliness and uncertainty, it was nice to finally feel...whole. He let Mobius lead him to the doorway in a rush of excitement. Behind them, the timeline’s native Mobius rolled his eyes and offered them a parting grin.
“You kids have fun.”
Loki squeezed his partner’s hand and, his cheeks aching from joy, stepped through the doorway.