Loki was not one to be ruled by man's strict eating times, more arbitrary in his regimen and choice of sustenance. They had entered that phase in their relationship where things Mobius used to find annoying about Loki were now endearing quirks he could not get enough of.
But the chewing sound Loki had been making for the past forty minutes piqued his curiosity; no piece of meat, extinct or otherwise, should be that tough.
"Loki," he began. "Are you eating concrete filler again?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
"Well, you did mistake it once for toffee," Mobius murmured. "Hurry up. I'm almost done with my magazine."
The chewing sound continued, louder this time now that Loki had gotten his attention.
Mobius sniffed the air. It smelled sweet...and musky, not unlike wet mouldy bread. "Seriously. What are you eating?"
"Loki..." Mobius drawled warningly. "Show me your teeth."
Mobius walked his knees across the bed till he reached the edge, and peered in horror at the litter of discarded candy wraps under the table. "You ate Kablooie?"
"The entire roll?" Mobius gaped. "Loki, that was evidence!"
"Then why was it in your desk?" Loki challenged.
"I...forgot to hand it back in into Evidence."
"And no one's hauled your arse in for it," Loki shrugged. "Since no one noticed it was gone, I figured no harm done."
"Not yet," Mobius muttered.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Loki demanded.
"It came from 1549," Mobius reminded him. "As far as shelf lives go, I think you're really pushing it."
Loki's fingers stilled in the midst of unwrapping the very last one. "I thought the Variant took it from the future."
"All the more reason why you should be careful. There's no telling what sort of effect time-travelling can have on perishables."
"Well, I am an alien from outer space, I have eaten much stranger things." Loki popped the last candy into his mouth. "Nothing quite as addictive though. Can't stop. I wish there was more."
"That is literally what addiction means," Mobius said, shaking his head. "Are you coming to bed now or are you going to run miles around the TVA to work off all that sugar?"
Loki broke into the biggest, bluest smile Mobius had ever seen and approached the bed, magically losing his clothing, piece by piece. "Oh, I'll work it off alright."
When Loki kissed him, his lips tasted of blueberries and Mobius made a mental note to procure as much candy as he could for Loki if it meant a steady supply of such sweet kisses.
Mobius drifted in and out of sleep, fleeting from one dream to the next. Strangely, the dreams were all the same, of a door that kept closing and opening but letting noone in or out.
The sound of a slamming door jerked him out of the dreamscape at last, resounding like bells in his sleep-fogged mind.
In the dark, his hand automatically reached out for his grounding force, but the bed was empty.
Mobius shot up and squinted around the room. "Loki?"
A rustling sound from his study desk alerted his senses, and Mobius could make out the shadowy outline of a person curled up in his chair.
"What's the matter?" Mobius dug the heels of his hands into his eyes. "Can't sleep?"
Loki shrugged. "Too much sugar, like you said."
"Told ya." Mobius cracked a yawn and pulled the covers over his head. How Loki was not knackered after all that raucous lovemaking was beyond him. "Don't stay up too late."
Loki mumbled something under his breath that did not sound quite English and Mobius smiled to himself, comforted by Loki's mere presence.
Suddenly he heard the sound of a door, familiar for he had only heard it minutes ago in his dream -
Is someone else there in the room with them? Have they been found out?
Mobius threw the covers back. "Loki!"
"Just a minute," someone answered weakly from the bathroom.
Finally realising what was happening, Mobius sighed. He padded over slowly to the bathroom.
"You alright in there?" he asked.
A retching sound answered him, faint and muffled like Loki was trying his damndest to suppress it.
"Let it all out," Mobius ordered. "You're going to rip a hole in your gullet if you hold it in."
Loki's irritable "Shut up," came across weak and garbled.
Mobius knocked again. "Let me in."
"I'm done," followed by the sound of the toilet flushing.
When Loki emerged from the bathroom, the mild alarm flared into real fear in the pit of Mobius' stomach.
Loki had always been pale, but now he looked positively ghostly, with his lank black hair matted to his scalp and sweat pooling in the jut of his collarbones.
Loki staggered toward the bed and dropped heavily into it like a sack of bones.
"How many times have you been sick?" Mobius asked quietly.
"I lost count," Loki muttered, flinging an arm over his eyes. "My insides feel like they're on fire."
Mobius sat down on the edge of the bed carefully and slipped his hand under Loki's shirt. His lover's belly felt warm against his skin for once and he wondered if it was only a metaphor.
Loki nodded. "From my mouth all the way down to my ass.'
"Poor Loki," Mobius murmured, rubbing the tight muscles of Loki's abdomen. "Should I call for a doctor?"
Loki barked a laugh. "What good will that do?"
"They can give you something for the pain."
Loki rolled his eyes. "Or a pruning."
At the aghast look on Mobius' face, he added, "I'm a Variant, remember? I'm not one of you. They're not going to bother."
When Mobius did not speak, Loki instantly deflated. "I'm sorry. That came out more harshly than I intended."
"I won't let that happen," Mobius said tightly. "Never."
A moment of silence ensued.
"I know," Loki said softly.
"You're one of us," Mobius insisted, the stubborn set to his chin just begging to be kissed; Loki was in too much pain to do anything about it so he masked it behind a groan of annoyance instead.
"You're not fooling me, Loki," he growled.
"My stomach hurts," Loki admitted with a sullen wince. "I think I'm dying."
"Nah. Never seen any record of a Loki dying from poisoned candy," Mobius comforted. "You'll live."
Loki's stomach chose that moment to cramp again and he let out a cross between a sob and a laugh. "Sixteenth century candy. What was I thinking?"
"Don't beat yourself up," Mobius said. "There was no candy on Asgard, of course you couldn't resist. I would have done the same if I were you."
"Poor Loki," he felt Mobius' coo against the baby hair at his ear, feathery like a whisper in the wind. "I'll get you real candy next time."
A whimper escaped his lips at the sheer gentleness of it all; Mobius must have mistaken it for one of pain for he lifted his hand off Loki's stomach.
"No, don't stop," Loki pleaded.
Mobius resumed his massage, kneading the concave abdomen as hard as he could to loosen the knots but still mindful of causing unnecessary discomfort.
"Does that feel okay?" he asked anxiously.
Loki nodded gratefully. "Don't stop. It's helping."
"Good," Mobius said, relieved. "Try and get some sleep."
Loki licked his lips. He could still taste the synthetic blueberry taste from the candy. "It was really good though."
"Yeah, until it reacted with your cast-iron alien stomach."
"You like my stomach."
Mobius bent to kiss the most beautiful tummy in the multiverse to show just how much he agreed, only to receive a painful-sounding rumble in response.
"See this is why I only eat salad."