Chapter 1: Found
Loki screams. He screams and screams, but nobody hears him. He doesn't know how long he's been screaming he only knows that it feels like forever. It is worth it, Loki reminds himself as he feels the hot burning of a brand being pressed into his side. It is worth It. He reminds himself every time he is tortures, every new and inventive way to hurt him, he reminds himself: It is worth it.
He doesn't know how long it's been, or when his tormentors will come back. All he knows is that he is doing this for Anthony. He is doing this for his love. His love is the reason it's all worth it.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Loki counts as the seconds go by. By his count it's been two days since last time and they should be back to torture him soon.
One. Two. Three. Four. Four. Four. He loses track. He doesn't know how long its been. He doesn't know and suddenly everything is even worse, he can't even guess when the next wave of torture will come. All he knows is that it will come. It will never stop. But it is worth it for Anthony's life.
It's hot, it's so hot and it hurts. The heat makes his soft blue skin blister and peel away from his flesh. He wonders how long it will take before there's nothing left of him. He wonders if, when they put him here they'd planed on the heat being its own little form of torture. He doesn't know, all he knows is that it is. It's okay, he thinks, he saved Anthony. Then suddenly, there is light and Loki cries at the unfamiliarity of it.
It's been what seems like forever-he doesn't know how long, oh god he lost count and he doesn't know how long- since he last saw light.
It just hurts his skin more. His skin is so unused to the light that it burns and he wishes for the dark rooms of Jotunheimr. He wonders if this is yet another technique they have to torture him.
"Anthony," he whispers to himself. "It was for Anthony. You saved Anthony."
"Do you hear something?" A female voice asks and Loki cries out in fear at the noise.
They're back. They're back and they're going to hurt him more. There's nothing he can do, but wait.
"No, Pepper." Another voice says. "I don't hear anything. I was just busy wondering why you dragged me to Iceland and why these goddamn caves are so hot."
"I dragged you here, because Thor just joined the Avengers and some new Scandinavian artifacts would be good to donate to a museum. As for the heat, we're probably near a volcano."
Loki screams at Thor's name. They're with him. Oh god, they're with Thor and they're coming to torture him more. Thor's send his little friends to hurt him.
"Shit," the man's voice says, "That was definitely a person."
"Who else would be down here?" Squeaks the female but Loki isn't listening, he's staring off to the distance trying to disassociate from his body so he won't feel it when the pain starts, because the pain will start soon, that much he knows.
"I don't know," the man says, "But they sound like they're in trouble. Jarvis scan for other life forms."
Loki snaps his head towards the voices. Disassociating isn't working right now, and they seem to be getting closer. Tugging at the chains that bind him, Loki wails. He needs to escape. He can't stand letting this happen again.
"Sir, there appears to be a humanoid life form, approximately forty feet to your left behind the boulder blocking your entrance."
A strange distorted voice remarks in an odd accent.
Loki hears clicking noises and a bright blue light before the boulder he's been looking at for his entire stay in the caves bursts into shards. Loki screams as a strange armored man steps forwards.
Then he stops and begins to count. His torturers never stayed more than two hours. One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
"Shit Pepper, look," Loki hear behind his counting. "He looks like he's really fucking hurt."
"He's blue, Tony," The woman says with a not of panic. "He's blue!"
The man snorts, "Like that's the weirdest thing we've seen this month."
"Please don't hurt me," Loki whispers at the armored figure approaching him. "Please don't."
"I won't," The voice says as the figure removes its helmet and Loki looks away refusing to see who it is. It would only be worse if he knows his torturer.
"Don't take me to Thor," Loki begs, "Don't let him hurt me."
"What the hell," the woman says. "Why would Thor hurt him?"
"I don't know," the man said. "Let's get him out of here."
The man grabs Loki's and yanks his chained arms towards him causing Loki to pass out in pain as his heat sores react. As the world fades to black Loki smiles, he won't feel it if he's unconscious.
When Loki wakes up his first clue that he's somewhere else is the lack of chains. His second clue is the soft bed beneath him and the cool air surrounding him. It feels nice against his battered skin.
When his eyes pop open, Loki panics. He's out of his cell, but he isn't back home. Everything is so different. There are strange devices all about him and the light in the ceiling isn't even from a torch. It's nothing like his home on Jotunheimr or Anthony's home on Midgard. It's nothing like he's ever seen. So Loki hides.
He spots the most familiar thing near him, a table, and dives underneath it in an attempt to escape the overwhelming area around him. That's when the man's voice came again.
"You know the beds a lot more comfortable," the man says and this time Loki's brain isn't so addled with heat that he can't recognize the voice.
"Anthony," Loki breathes as he crawls out from beneath the table and sends a soft tendril of what little magic he has left to go explore. It quickly tells him that while this is Anthony, It's not his Anthony; he's different now and he doesn't know Loki. It almost makes Loki give up, the thought of his loved one being gone. Then he reminds himself that Anthony isn't gone, he's simply buried with in this other man.
So Loki hides his love for the other man, "It's to strange."
"The bed is strange?" The man asks. "That's odd. I know after I was held captive I couldn't wait to get back to my bed."
"Who are you," Loki rasps out. He doesn't want to call this man Anthony by mistake. He refuses to ruin his chances to get to regain about his past lover.
"You really don't know do you," The man asks as he squats down to be in eye level with Loki.
It hurts to stare at a face so familiar yet so different.
"No," Loki replies suddenly bone feel tired. "I don't."
"Tony Stark," the man says producing a hand that Loki simply stares at until Tony put it down. "What's your name?"
"Loki," the Frost Giant answers. "Loki Laufeyson."
Then his eyes catch on the strange technology around him. "What's the date?"
"May 27th," Tony answers as he sits down all the way.
"No, no, I need the year." Loki insists. There's no way all of this change happened in the three hundred years he thought he'd been held captive.
"2012," Tony tells him slowly.
"I need to go," Loki cries attempting to stand up, but toppling over.
"Why," Tony asks staring into Loki's eyes. "Where?"
"Home, they must think I'm dead," Loki pants. "They must think the Aesir killed me."
Tony's brow furrows, "Why would the Aesir want to kill you?"
Loki laughs as his fingers trace the lines marking his blue skin, "Has Midgard really forgotten already?"
"Apparently so," Tony says. "Now tell me, why you so scared of Thor?"
Loki jerks away from Tony, "Thor! Oh god, Thor! You're friends with Thor, you're going to hurt me!"
"I won't hurt you," Tony says and it's only because he recognizes that voice as Anthony's that he calms down. "But why did the Aesir?"
"I'm a Jotun," Loki explains as he hugs himself. "Or if you're a filthy Aesir who likes to use slurs, a Frost Giant."
Loki sees that the second name means something to Tony and with a sigh he scoots farther away. It's obvious the Aesir have already pitted Tony against his kind. He'll never get his Anthony back.
"Alright," Tony says as he witnesses Loki withdraw from him both physically and mentally. "I'll be back later."
Tony leaves and suddenly, Loki is alone once more with the crushing darkness. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. He counts waiting for someone, something to come back and remind him he isn't alone.
He gets his wish, though not quite in the way he wants. The next person whose voice he hears isn't Tony's, it isn't even the woman from the cave's. It's Thor's voice.
"Friend Tony," Thor bellows and Loki releases a whimper. "I have received your summons. How can I help you?"
"I was wondering about the Jotuns," Tony replies. "Could you tell me about them?"
"No," Loki moans softly. Tony can't hear Thor's version; Tony can't believe his kind to be monstrous.
"Of course," Thor rumbles. "I shall tell you the story of them attacking my coronation story and how it lead to me killing King Laufey."
"No." Loki gasps, "No. That didn't happen he didn't kill him. He didn't kill Mother."
As Loki begins to panic, he loses control over the small bit of magic that Odin could never take from him: ice magic, a Jotun's birthright. Ice creeps away from him, spreading out and coating the room he's in. The more he hears of Thor's story the less control he has.
He can feel his rage and terror building up inside of him. It's cold and hard and feels as if it's a glacier settling in the pit of his stomach. The more Thor says the more it grows and the more it grows the less Loki can feel. Soon all that Loki is aware of is the ball of emotion sitting in his gut and the cruel words slipping off of Thor's tongue.
"The two Frost Giants Laufey sent were easily slaughtered, but my friends and I wished for revenge and so we went to Jotunheimr."
"I see," Tony says in response though his tone is odd. "What did you do there?"
"Almost started a war," Thor laughs. "It would have happened too, had King Helblindi not acknowledged that Laufey had attacked first."
"King Helblindi?" Tony asks, "I thought Laufey was king?"
Thor hums, "He was, till I slit his throat and ends his toxic reign."
Thor's words are the very last straw for Loki. All the anger and fear that has been building up inside of Loki suddenly bursts forth and year another sheet of ice covers his room. This time the ice isn't contained to his room and it spreads out into the hallway where Thor and Tony are situated. A blast of ice hits Thor square in the chest as Loki howls in rage.
"You killed him," Loki cries storming out of his room despite the wounds that make it painful. A flurry of ice and snow follows behind him in an intimidating swirl. As another sob racks through Loki's body a second bolt of ice strikes Thor as he tries to stumble to his feet. It feels good, Loki decides this way he can take revenge for both his mother's death and his own torture.
"You killed him," Loki hisses. "You killed my mother."
Thor looks up from where he's spread out on the floor and looks at what's attacking him, with slight awe in his voice he whispers, "Loki."
With barely contained rage Loki replies, "Hello, Thor."
Chapter 2: Memories
Sorry this took so long it was finals week.
"What the hell is going on here?" Tony asks looking between them.
Thor laughs, "It seems Loki has come to get his revenge."
"Revenge," Tony asks but he's ignored as Thor continues speaking.
"Tell me, how did you escape your cell? Odin told me you couldn't with out magic."
Loki doesn't respond, at least not verbally, instead he just punches Thor across the face.
"You can't hurt me anymore," Loki says, "You've already taken away everything I love."
"Maybe I have," Thor smiles taking a step towards Loki who pushes Tony behind him. "But it's not as if you didn't deserve it."
"Deserve it," Loki cries and the ice on the walls surged forwards threateningly. "You think I deserved that! For what? Not allowing myself to be married of to you, for already being in love?"
"Stop," Tony suddenly screams. "I don't know what's going on, but I know that I don't want any fighting in my house. Loki, I brought you here so you could rest and heal, by so you could destroy my home."
Laughing bitterly, Loki asks, "Like he destroyed my life when he locked me away for over one thousand years."
Tony doesn't know how to react to that so he instead focuses on what Thor is saying, "Of course Friend Tony. My apologies for the damages this beast has done to your home."
"Hey," Tony snaps and his voice is sharp. "Don't call him a beast."
"But that's what he is," Thor calls over his shoulder as he leaves. "Simply ask him about what he did before he was imprisoned."
Thor leaves and Loki collapses back down the the ground. He exerted far to much energy for some recovering from centuries of tortures. If that wasn't enough, he is emotionally exhausted also. His mother is dead and his lover, is no longer the same man. Thor is still alive though admittedly if Tony had not stopped him Loki still would've failed to kill him. He isn't powerful enough to fight Thor right now.
"What the fuck was that?" Tony asks. "Thor's a good guy, why does he hate you so much? And what that I heard about marriage?"
Loki doesn't answer he's to busy drifting into a much needed sleep. As he rests, Loki dreams and his dreams are filled with memories of the past.
He's walking around in a forest on Midgard in his natural form when he hears the snapping of a tree branch. He whirls around instantly a knife in hand as a short mortal steps out from behind a tree.
He has a small well-trimmed beard that is the same dark color as his hair and makes his beautiful brown eyes stand out. Loki admires him for a second, but never once loosens his grip on his knife.
"Who are you," Loki asks. "I wasn't aware that any mortals lived near here."
"I'm Anthony the village blacksmith," the man answers. "You called us mortals, are you one of the gods?"
"The Aesir you mean?" Loki questions, "No, I'm afraid I am just a Jotun."
"Oh good," Anthony says seating himself on a log and pulling out hunk of metal.
"Good," Loki inquires. "Most mortals fear my kind, why is this good?"
"If you aren't a god I don't need to be on my best behavior." Anthony explains with a roll of his eyes. "What did you say your name was again?"
"Prince Loki of Jotunheimr," Loki responds as he settles down on the the ground near Anthony to watch. "Now explain to me what you're doing."
The dream fades out and Loki finds himself in a state of half consciousness where he can hear but can not move.
"God J," Tony is saying. "What am I doing? I don't even know this guy, he's a god damn alien. I just feel like I can trust him."
Tony's voice peters out as Loki drifts back into his memory filled dreams.
"You come here often?" Anthony asks as he walks up behind Loki.
Loki simply sighs, "Anthony, can you stop saying that every time we come here. We meet once a week of course I'm here again."
"But it's just so much fun to annoy you," Smirks Anthony as he settles on his usual stump.
Loki rolls his eyes and lays down in the grass. "Hush now, lest you don't wish for me to teach you how the dwarves' forges are set up."
Anthony makes a frantic noise and moves from his stump to the grass besides Loki. With a gentle shove Anthony laughs, "You have to tell me!"
But Loki is reacting to the shove Anthony had given and soon the two of them are play wrestling. Loki uses his Jotun strength to his advantage and easily winds up on top of Anthony straddling the mortal.
"I won," Loki proclaims as he looks down onto Anthony's wide grin. Loki stares for a moment wondering when Anthony became so appealing, before leaning down and pressing his lips against the other man's.
For a few sweet moments, everything is perfect. Anthony returns the kiss happily and Loki wonders why he hasn't done this sooner. Then Anthony pushes him away and Loki is reminded of the harsh differences between their worlds. He is reminded that no matter how Anthony really feels it doesn't matter because of his culture.
"No," Anthony growls, "I will not do this. I will not become argr."
Loki's face hardens as he stands up to face the man he had kissed. "My apologies Anthony, I had forgotten you follow the rules of the Aesir."
With one last respectful bow of the head, Loki teleports away and leaves Anthony alone.
When Loki wakes up next, he comes to enough to take in his surroundings. The soft sheets against his skin reassure him, though Loki isn't sure why. Perhaps it is because they belong to Tony.
Tony, Loki thinks. He's a a problem all in his own. Loki can't help but remember his own love for Anthony and see the resemblance between the two of them. Yet he can also spot how different they are, and not just because of the odd glowing device embedded in Tony's chest, it's mental also. Tony is darker than Anthony was; looking into his eyes reminds Loki that he has a different past, this one seemingly darker than Anthony's had been. It also makes Loki want to hold him, hold his Anthony as tight as he can and never let go.
"Loki," Tony's voice says though he does not see the man himself. "Glad to see you're awake."
"Thank you," The Jotunn hums, though he himself Isn't sure if he is glad to be awake. At least in his dreams he could spend time with his Anthony, even if it was a painful moment when it had first occurred.
Finally, Tony enters his line of sight this time followed by two red-headed women, a brunette man, and two other blond men. They find perches around the room in relative silence and Loki inspects them closely. Despite the blank masks that cover their faces Loki can sense the raw power that lurks behind the skin of two of the men, in one of the women he detects stealth and cunningness while in the last man he can sense how slippery he is.
Loki looks at Tony, "I'm afraid I require introductions."
After all, Loki doesn't know he trust these people who are friends of Thor's, and names have power.
"Yes, of course." Tony says before gesturing to a familiar red head, "This is Pepper she was with me when I found you."
"Please to meet you," She says and he can feel her strength. It's different from the men's of course, this is strength of heart and Loki instantly knows that he's met her before. Back then her name had been Ásbjörn and she'd been the wise one of Tony's village. She had magic but only in the form of shape shifting into a bear.
"Oh no," Loki smiles (he'd been quite fond of Ásbjörn), "The pleasure is all mine."
Loki takes care to note how his smile makes the other woman's muscles tense though it is almost unnoticeable. He finds interesting that she's on edge so quickly after meeting him. After all, he doesn't be know her name yet.
That is quickly remedied as Tony says, "This is Natasha. Be careful around her, she's deadly."
"I can see," Loki smiles softly as he recalls her past self, Bjørn. She had always been fierce even back when she was just a scout for her village.
"Next up is Steve, or Captain America," Tony says pointing the more muscular blond man.
"I will not call him that," Loki states as his takes in Sigmundr one of the villages mightiest warriors.
"Completely understandable," Tony concedes. "Moving on then, we have Clint, he is our archer."
"Is he really?" Loki murmurs as he recalls the time Holger thought him a monster attacking the village and had shot him with his longbow.
"Yeah," Tony nods. "This next guy is-"
"Dr. Bruce Banner," the man says extending a hand.
"I'm sorry," Loki says to the man formerly known as Brandr, a village wise man who was generally peaceful but would win any fight when angered. "Am I expected to kiss your hand or have the customs changed?"
"We grab hands and shake them up and down," Bruce explains and waits for Loki to do as he asked. The Jotunn tentatively does as instructed despite the laughter spreading around the room.
"Interesting," is all Loki says in response. He has questions, about how the shift in gestures occurred but he can sense it is better to move on to business. "So tell me, how I can help you all?"
"What makes you think you can," Natasha inquires.
Loki raises a brow, "You're all here aren't you? If you didn't want something you wouldn't all be here."
"Smart," Clint comments and Loki shrugs, he knows he's smart that is how he became the Rådgiver for his people.
"We need to know why you and Thor tried to kill one another." Steve says. "We need to know if it city is gonna be safe from you two."
"You have my sworn word that I will not fight Thor in your city." Loki replies.
"Not good enough," Steve snaps with irritation in his voice.
It's okay, he reminds himself, he's safe. This is Sigmundr or Steve now, it isn't Odin. It doesn't help and he falls into a vivid memory.
"So, do you agree to our terms now," Odin asks as he presses down in the knife embedded in Loki's stomach.
He groans in pain and sends the knife one more fleeting look, "It doesn't need to be like that, we can form a political treaty with out any marriages."
"That's not good enough, this is about my family's pride now" Odin says as he drives the knife even farther into Loki's flesh. He screams and begins to count how much time is left till Odin leaves.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
"Loki," he hears and for a moment he thinks it's his Anthony then he remembers that all he has now is Tony and Tony, though wonderful in many of the same ways, isn't quite the same person.
Loki slowly opens his eyes and sees that the room has been cleared of the other people. He looks up at Tony with a question in his eyes.
"You went pale and started trembling," Tony explains. "No one could get any response out of you and Bruce kicked everyone out so you wouldn't feel as threatened when you woke up. I would go get him, he is the doctor, but your physiology is just to alien for him to help."
"Please," Lokj begs looking at that achingly familiar face, "Leave."
Tony's face falls but he nods anyway, "Alright, I'll go. We'll be back tomorrow though, and you'll have to explain to us what you have against Thor."
Loki manages to agree though his lips twist at the mention of Thor's name and his thoughts go to his mother. His sweet kind mother who had done Thor no wrong. Yes, Loki thinks, I'll tell you why I hate Thor and perhaps I will gain your support in my plan for his demise.
Chapter 3: Stories
Tony had been telling the truth, and the next morning when he walks into the room with Loki's breakfast he's followed by the Avengers. The take the same seats as yesterday sans Steve who hovers near the bed awkwardly.
"Look," he says, "I'm sorry about what ever I did to set you off yesterday."
"It was nothing," Loki lies his red eyes facing down towards his meal. "Now sit, I assume you want to hear my story."
Steve doesn't as he's instructed as Bruce replies, "Yes, very much so."
"Then I will tell it," Loki answers, "But, if I'm to tell you my personal life, I would like to request that at the end of my story each of you tells me something about yourself. Not trivial things such as, a color you like but more about your role on this team you have formed."
If he knows this about them it will be easier to use them against Thor.
Natasha hesitates, "Why should we trust you with this information? We don't know anything about you."
"Yet you want to know my life story," Loki scolds her. "Now, do we have a deal?"
"Yeah," Tony interrupts, "We have a deal" and Loki can see the eagerness in his eyes to learn more about him.
"Very well," Loki nods. "Then I shall begin my tale. It starts from when I was born, I am to this day a runt among my people."
"A runt?" Clint interrupts, "You're already taller than most people!"
"Silence," Loki demands turning his narrowed red eyes onto Clint. "Lest you don't wish for me to tell this story?"
"I do, sorry," Clint apologizes sheepishly.
"As I was saying, I am considered a runt among my people, but over the years made up for it with my strong magical abilities. My mother wanted me to become king after him-"
"Okay, wait," Pepper interrupts this time, "I know that you said no more interruptions, but I know that we all are wondering how is your mother a he?"
Loki sighs dramatically, "I had forgotten that Midgardians did not know how Jotunn anatomy is. All members of my race have both male and female genitalia and can give birth, since Laufey gave birth to me, he is my mother. It has nothing to do with his chosen pronouns."
"That's fascinating," Bruce says leaning forwards, "All Jotuns choose their own gender?"
"I am unsure if I would call it choosing," Loki replies. "Still, that is the gist of it yes, though most of my people do not identify as male or female."
Steve, looking uncomfortable stopped that line of conversation, "Perhaps we should get back to the story?"
"Very well," Loki says, "My mother wished for me to become King after him and so he trained me to take after him. However, before I took over from my father one of our spirits, Hlíf visited and told us I was to be the new Rådgiver or Advisor for my people. It is an honor to be gifted the title and there was no way to refuse it and so Mother began to train my sibling Helblindi to take the throne and I was sent to begin the trials needed to fully take my title.
The first of the trials is to guard Midgard for fifty years. I went there and took on the skin of a normal Midgardian-"
This time Tony interrupts, "Took on the skin of a Midgardian? Does that mean you can shape shift?"
"Yes, Tony. I can take any form I wish. For eleven years whenever I had human contact i looked human, and when I was alone I was in my natural form. Of course, that changed when a man named Anthony found me walking in the woods in my natural form. We quickly became friends and I son forgot that he was a worshiper of the People of Asgard. I was quickly reminded when i kissed him and he called me argr. I did not handle rejection well and so I left, not Midgard just the area surrounding his village."
Loki falls back into his memories as he explains.
He's furious, Tony has rejected him only because of Aesir ways. He desperately wishes that Midgard had worshipped Jotuns if only so that they would understand their culture and how same sex relationships are fine. He knows that it isn't the case though and he has a duty to complete.
Loki does his best to put Anthony out of his mind as he teleports to a different town and takes on a human guise. He spends the next week there and after two days has convinced the village warriors to let him teach a few things.
After the first lesson where Loki manages to take down their mightiest warrior in less than five minutes, they start to listen. It's during one of these lessons, Loki is showing the humans a choke hold, when he senses Anthony's presence.
"Lesson over," He barks releasing the warrior and beginning to walk through the town. Despite his anger at Anthony's Ignorance he can't help but be intrigued by the other.
When Loki finally comes across Anthony, he is visiting the local blacksmith. Loki ducks into the forge under false pretenses just to see Anthony once more.
"Hródgeirr," Loki says, "We will require three more of those swords I requested, if at all possible?"
"Of course," the smith smiles, "Anything for you Loki!"
"Loki," Anthony replies tensing and Loki curses Hródgeirr for using his name.
"Yes, and who might you be?" He asks not wanting to speak to Anthony as himself. He isn't ready.
In the end it doesn't matter, because Anthony is.
The human leans over to him and whispers out of the corner of his mouth, "Nice new look. Meet me in the woods, we'll talk then."
Loki leaves the forge and goes to wait for Anthony though he isn't sure why he does it. Perhaps he craves for the mortal to offer an apology.
"Hello," Anthony says as appears besides the Jotunn. "You gonna go blue or stay like that?"
"I shall remain as I am," Loki answers, "We are still near the village."
Anthony nods his understanding though he has an air of disappointment about him. "You missed our meet up this week."
"I've been busy," Loki replies. "In the time I spent with you I'd forgotten my duties; now I need to focus on them."
"What duties?" Anthony asks suspicion clear in his voice, "Is this because I wouldn't kiss you?"
"No Anthony," Loki says, "It's not because of that."
And it isn't. Loki isn't angry any more, he isn't even that upset anymore. He understands why Anthony is hesitant; if he'd grown up being told something was wrong, he'd probably believe it also.
"You may not recall," Loki continues, "but I am a prince and I have things I must do for my people. If that wasn't enough I am also to be their Rådgiver and I must protect Midgard for another thirty-nine years. I'm not avoiding you because of your reaction to my kiss, I should have remembered your Aesir morals. I have not returned because i have a job to do."
"And your job means you can't visit once a week," Anthony sounds skeptical. "Can't you use your magic to make things work out? I want to go back to how things were."
Loki shakes his head, "There is no going back in life, ever. Even if there was it wouldn't work here."
"Why not," Anthony asks a look of determination still on his face. "Why can't we go back?"
Running a hand through his hair, Loki responds, "Because Anthony in some rare occasions when a Jotunn kisses someone they bind their lives together. I had not thought about the possibility of it occurring because you are human, but I can see now that it has. The bond appears to affect only me and not you, yet another reason not is better to keep our distance."
"Loki," Anthony whispers, "Please come back, I like you. I liked kissing you, I just freaked out because I dot want to be argr. But, no one knows you exist, we can do this with out people knowing."
Loki is tense as he stares into Anthony's eyes, "You wish to be in a relationship with me?"
"Yes," Anthony responds before bringing his lips against the Jotunns.
"We resumed our normal meet ups after that," Loki hums. "Our relationship was rather unconventional seeing as how it consisted mostly of hidden meetings in the woods or me occasionally sneaking into the village. By the way, not the brightest idea I've ever had, it lead to a man named Holger firing an arrow at me."
Clint chuckled at that and Loki hid his smile. Holger's reaction had been the same years ago when he discovered the truth about that night.
Loki turned away from the thoughts and resume his story, "Life continued as such until I received summons from my mother."
Loki is laying in the grass next to Anthony when he hears the soft crackle that implies he will be receiving a visitor from his home world.
"You need to go," Loki tells Anthony as he bounces to his feet.
Anthony, still seated in the grass, blinks sleepily, "What?"
"You should go," Loki hisses, but it matters not because the portal has already opened and his sibling is already stepping through.
"Loki," Helblindi cheers, "How are you faring?"
"I am well," Loki replies. Before he can say anything else his Sibling's eyes widen.
"More than well I would say," Helblindi remarks, "You've formed a soul bond. Is this the human?"
Loki looks at Anthony and reluctantly nods, "Yes Helblindi, this is him. Now do not scare him, he's never seen a proper Jotun before."
"He's seen you before," Helblindi says in confusion, "What do you mean he's never seen a proper Jotun?"
Loki rolls his eyes, "I meant a full size Jotun. In case you have forgotten Helblindi, you are over five feet taller than me."
"Which is fascinating," Anthony interjects. "Is this the average height for your people?"
"Yes," Loki responds, "I shall tell you more later. For now, I must inquire as to why you are here Helblindi. I still have thirty-nine years left on Midgard."
Helblindi's happy expression falls away to a serious grimace, "Mother has requested your presence."
"My presence?" Loki questions, "Why? He knows I must complete my Rådgiver trials."
"I can only assume that this will not interfere with them." Helblindi frowns, "We should make haste, Mother sounded upset."
"Thank you," Loki says. "I will join you momentarily, let me say say good bye to Anthony."
Helblindi politely looks away as Loki turns and presses his forehead to Anthony's.
"I'll be back soon." Loki promises. Anthony simply roses up I his toes to press a kiss against Loki's lips.
"Go with your brother."
"Sibling," Loki corrects instantly. "Hän is neither male nor female."
"Interesting," Anthony hums. "I'll definitely ask you more when you get back."
With that Anthony shoves Loki towards Helblindi's portal and the Jotunn leaves with one last glance back. He arrives in the throne room of Jotunheimr and instantly nears before his mother.
"Rise," he commands and both of his children do so.
"Mother," Loki says pulling him in for a hug. "Much has happened sense we last met."
"Yes Loki," Laufey says, "Much indeed. While you have my congratulations on your soul bond, I am afraid we have more important matters to address."
"Of course Mother," Loki agrees, "Will we be speaking in here?"
"No," Laufey rises his heavy robes swirling, "I believe we shall be better off taking a walk as we discuss matters. Helblindi, you are dismissed."
Hän leaves with a kiss to Laufey's cheek. It is once Laufey is sure Helblindi is out of earshot that he begins to talk.
"As we expected, word of your appointment to Rådgiver has spread. However, it has also had some unforeseen consequences."
It is only because of his years of political training that Loki hears the slight tremor in his mother's voice.
"Mother," Loki questions, "What is it? What is wrong?"
"The Asgardians wish to harvest your powers for their own and have proposed a marriage between you and their Crown Prince Thor." Laufey relays quietly.
Loki halts his steps just as the teacher edges of the gardens, "What? Why would they do that? Any Union such as that would be seen as argr."
"No," Laufey corrects. "They know you have the ability to birth a child and thus consider you a woman."
Loki snarls, "I will not marry him. I have a soul bond."
"I am aware child," Laufey says. "But how shall we break it to the Aesir with out causing war?"
"I have a plan Mother," Loki says, "Do not fear."
Loki brings his tale to a halt despite the looks of intrigue upon his audience's faces.
"I require a break in order find sustenance." Loki says. "If that is amenable?"
"Oh yes," Steve says looking flustered. "It's time for lunch anyway."
"Come into the kitchen and we'll get you some food," Tony adds as he rises to his feet.
"Thank you," Loki replies sliding off of his bed.
Already, some of them are less wary of them and it pleases Loki to see one of them is Tony. It would've hurt if his Anthony did not believe him.
Chapter 4: Gone
I'm thinking there will probably be one last chapter after this but I'm not positive.
He continues his story at the table once they've all completed a meal consisting of pizza and sodas.
"Several days later, arrangements had been made and the bifrost transported me directly into the throne room of Asgard."
"King Odin," Loki acknowledges with a small bow.
"Prince Loki," Odin says. "Have you come to answer our proposal?"
"Yes, I have." Loki answers. "My answer is, of course, yes. However I ask that my marriage to your son be delayed at least until after my first trial for my title."
Odin is silent as he runs a hand through his beard.
"Yes," he hums. "I believe this could work. Though Thor will have to escort you back to Midgard and stay for awhile to ensure that you are in fact there to complete your first trial."
"Thank you for your generosity King Odin, may i ask when Prince Thor and I will leave?" Loki silently hopes that it will be soon.
"Be at the bifrost with in the hour, Thor shall meet you there. He will remain on Midgard with you for five days." Odin then looks away from Loki in an obvious dismissal.
The hour passes quickly and soon Loki find himself at the bifrost awaiting his newly betrothed. Thor is, of course, late.
He rides up a quarter of an hour after he was supposed to and he is flanked by Sif and the Warriors Three. Upon arrival, Thor vaults of his horses back and takes Loki's hand to give it a gentle kiss.
"My lady," He says causing Loki to scoff gently.
"Has your father not explained to you that I am not a lady?" He barks pulling his hand away as though burned.
"But you are Jotunn," the confused prince replies.
Loki simply scoffs again and turns away as Heimdall opens the bifrost.
"From there," Loki says, "We returned to Midgard. The five days that Thor was with me I simply teleported around the world improving villages defenses. It was only when Thor went back to Asgard that I teleported back to Anthony's town."
"Anthony," Loki hisses as he creeps into the mortal's home. "Anthony, are you here?"
"Who are you?" Loki hears. He instantly twirls around and takes in the form of a human man.
"It's fine Ásbjörn," Anthony's voice tells them as it streams indoors. "He the one I was talking about."
"Follow me to the outside then," Ásbjörn instructs.
Loki quickly obeys even if it is only so he can lay eyes on Tony as quickly as possible. The mortal man is preparing stew over an open flame and acting as if nothing has changed. Then again, as far as he knows nothing has.
"What did your Mother want?" Tony asks, and then upon seeing Loki's eyes flicker over to Ásbjörn he adds, "Don't worry she's our village's holy woman. She already knows everything."
Loki raises a brow, "And you don't find it to be argr?"
"No, I think that if it was really so wrong the gods wouldn't let it happen." Ásbjörn hums thoughtfully.
Loki shrugs in agreement, he knows that the gods she believes in aren't who she thinks, but he isn't one to take that away from her. Instead he shifts back to his natural form and says, "You are very wise indeed."
Ásbjörn laughs gently, "Well I didn't get my title for nothing."
"No," Loki says softly as he looked into the distance, "Titles alway come with a price."
"Come on Loki," Tony say impatiently as he ladles the stew into bowls, "What did your mother want?"
"Nothing really, she simply wished to know how I was faring," Loki lied. He saw no reason to tell his love the truth of his engagement now, not when it meant nothing and they still had thirty-nine years together.
"Of course, the fact that didn't mean I had to delay dealing with my problem. It was just an excuse not to tell Anthony. The next morning I teleported outside of the town and took on my human appearance. Then, I wandered back in as though I were a traveler." Loki pauses and takes a breath. "If I just appeared in the town I no doubt would've been attacked."
"Why though?" Bruce asks as he pushes his glasses up his nose.
Loki leans forward and rests his head in the arm he props up on the table, "Because back then anyone new to town was considered a possible threat, but someone new and appearing with magic then it was obvious they had bad intentions."
Bruce hums a response and Loki picks up his story once more. "When I arrived in the town I instantly requested permission to meet with their holy woman. With no evidence that I wished ill upon anyone, they could not deny me an audience. When I met with Ásbjörn I told her the truth of what had happened on Jotunheimr. We spend the next two weeks scheming as to how we should stop the marriage. When I wasn't with her I was with Anthony and his friends who he finally introduced me to. On my fifteenth day in their village, Ásbjörn and I completed our plans."
Loki falters momentarily caught in a web of complicated emotions, "I ran back to Anthony's place in ecstasy and in my happiness I kissed him. That's when it all fell apart."
As he runs and feels the dirt beneath his feet, his mind echoes Ásbjörn's words, "I do believe that'll work."
He's in a celebratory mood and so as soon as the door is closed behind him, he wraps Anthony in a tight hug and presses their lips together. The shorter man moans into the kiss and they stay locked together until a loud booming noise occurs.
They jump apart, but it is to late standing before them is Thor and Odin, both of whom are furious. Thor strides forwards and grabs Loki by the collar.
"Filthy whore," he growls, "Did you not think I would be watching my bride to be?"
Loki hisses, "No, I thought you'd have more integrity."
With that he draws up his knee sharply and makes contact with Thor's groin. The Aesir releases Loki to cup himself and Loki quickly takes advantage in order to shuffle Tony behind him.
Thor's features are twisted in rage as he growls, "The plot to get out of marriage I could stand, it would never have succeeded. The betrayal with a mortal though, why would you stoop so low?"
"Still a higher quality than you," Anthony huffs out drawing Thor's attention.
"You believe so? Very well than, you shall face an Aesir punishment for touching another man's betrothed."
"No," Loki cries jumping forwards. "He's a mortal, you can't do that to him!"
"Thor is a prince of Asgard as well as the offended party and may do what he wishes to the mortal." Odin rumbles from his position.
Quickly, Loki speaks, "Anthony, can not withstand that sort of torture. I, as is my right with in Aesir law, offer to take his punishment."
"You can't do that," Anthony cries out by he is easily ignored.
"I agree, Loki Laufeyson." Thor says and the deal is done.
Odin approaches slowly before grabbing Loki's arm tightly and removing them from Anthony's home.
This is the point when Loki's usually expressive voice becomes devoid of any emotion.
"He took us directly to a cave system. With a snap of his fingers he took away my magic, which is like taking away a limb. I panicked and began to struggle which they didn't like. I was quickly knocked unconscious and when I awoke I was tied in place as the torture began. They used a lot of different methods, but the most effective one was heat. They kept the room just hot enough that it would affect my Jotun flesh and leave them in harmed. The other forms of tortured stopped at what I assume was the three hundred year mark, but the heat, that was never ending. It was there right up until I woke up in this tower and heard that Thor killed my mother."
"Loki," Pepper says softly attempting to shake him out of his disassociation.
He doesn't even register her presence. In fact he sits there silently dating at nothing until Tony speaks at him, "Come on Loki, get yourself together."
The soul bond allows Tony's words to reach him easily and Loki slowly shakes himself out of it.
"Sorry," he apologizes.
"Don't be," Natasha replies even as Bruce whispers to her.
Suddenly, Tony stands and his movements are stiff as he trembles with barely contained rage, "Excuse me."
"Where are you going?" Steve asks half blocking his exit.
Tony simply pushes past him. The team plus Pepper and Loki trail after Tony as he walks downstairs. Loki isn't the only on to tense up as they come upon Thor settled into the sofa watching Lion King.
"Tony," Thor cheers, "Have you come to realize the Jotunn's worthlessness?"
Out of nowhere Tony's hand is covered in a gauntlet from the suit and is striking Thor across the face. The god looks more surprised than hurt so Tony repeaters the action with even more force.
"Get out of my house," he hisses.
Thor's brows furrow, "I dont understand, why?"
"How can you not see what you've done wrong?" Tony cries as Thor stands up.
"Friend Tony," Thor says grasping for Tony's shoulder. "Surely you understand that Loki is a Jotunn, he's scum."
"I'm not your friend," and Tony's eyes are a sea of rage, "Now get the hell out of my home."
Slowly, Thor complies. It's only once the Aesir is out of sight that Loki allows himself the nervous laughter bubbling in his chest. Running to Tony, Loki gives him a short, shy hug.
"Thank you," he says.
Tony shakes his head, "Don't be, he never should've been here if that's the kind of person he is."
As everyone begins there return trip to the upper levels of the tower, they hear the faint roar of a storm brewing outside. Loki flinches in fear, but calms when Tony lays a hand on his shoulder.
Once the entire group is surrounding the same table as before Clint speaks up, "So I guess we owe you a little information about each of us."
"No you don't," Loki responds. "I only wanted to know that in order to help turn you against Thor."
Natasha snorts, "Your story alone was enough. Now sit down , we're gonna do exactly what we promised and tell you some god damn facts about our selves."
"All right," Loki purrs in amusement as he settles down to listen.
Unfortunately, that is the exact moment that Jarvis speaks, "Sir, Fury is calling."
"Put him on," Tony answers even as his lips slip into a hard line.
"Stark," The director says quickly, "What the hell is Thor doing with the weather?"
"I don't know," Anthony shrugs. "Probably pouting that I kicked him out of the tower. Speaking of which, Jarvis revoke his security clearances."
The line goes silent for a moment before Fury angrily grits out, "Why the hell did kick Thor out? What on earth could possess you to do that?"
"I don't like torture," Tony says in response, "And I refuse to live with someone who partakes in it. You can also consider him off the team too, seeing as how I actually have more power over them than you."
"You'll never get you team mates to agree with this," Fury says simply.
Bruce laughs and answers, "He already had. Maybe if he'd changed we could work through this, but he hasn't."
Fury starts to yell again, "Do you understand the advantage you're giving away? Your team is going to have a major weakness now!"
"Don't worry about it," Clint hums.
Natasha nods her agreement, "I think we have a good replacement."
Natasha raises a brow at Loki expectantly, but he hesitates. He doesn't want to swear to join their team, not when it would mean spending time with Tony and not having him.
Then Tony leans down besides him and whispers, "Come on Lokes, say you'll do it."
It breaks down that last of his misgivings and Loki says into the phone, "Oh yes Director Fury, I'd be more than willing to help."
The angry yelling begins and Tony quickly cuts it off with a simple touch of the screen. Then suddenly Loki collapses down into his chair and he's laughing as tears of relief spill down his cheeks. Thor is gone, and he's safe.
Chapter 5: Endings
They never ask Loki about the soul bond and he wonders if perhaps they've forgotten about it. After all, it has been six months since Loki joined them. Maybe, he thinks, they believe the soul bond ended when Anthony's life did and they don't wish to hurt him by mentioning it. Whatever the reason may be, they never mention the soul bond and Loki finds himself growing happy and relaxed among them.
They never ask him about his trials needed to become Rådgiver either. For that, Loki is grateful because while he could explain to them that his first trial was completed while he was being tortured, after all sacrificing himself for a mortal counted as protection, he didn't wish to think about the pain he'd endured.
Some days, Loki would think about trials, the next one he was supposed to begin required him to prove his cunningness by stealing from an enemy. He already had a feeling as to who he wished to steal from, but he would need to return Jotunheimr first to check up on a few things. He wasn't sure if he was ready for that, seeing his family for the first time since the death of his Mother. By now Helblindi would have matured, hän would be considered Ruler Helblindi (because hän was neither a king nor queen).
"Hey, Loki," Clint calls breaking Loki out of his gloomy, unwanted thoughts. "We're gonna catch the game in the living room, you coming?"
"Yes," Loki hums. "I'm coming."
He goes into the room and sits besides Tony, the inventor having been forced into attendance by Steve. Usually, Loki would (quite happily) listen to Tony's grumbling about being forced to leave a project but tonight he blocks out everything and thinks of the past.
"Mother," A young Loki says looking up at the Laufey. "Do you think I'll find a soul bond? Do you think I'll be like you and Father? Or will I be married and still be lonely like your sibling?"
"I think," Laufey hums, "That whether or not you find a soul bond, it's up to you whether or not you have a lonely marriage. Who you marry is up to you Loki, and you should always choose someone who makes you happy."
Now, Loki wonders if he had been right, he'd done as Mother said and did not marry someone who didn't make him happy, but at what price? Loki himself was tortured for years and his Mother killed by Thor.
Then Tony places a hand in his shoulder and leans over to whisper a witty remark about the game and Loki knows it was worth it. If he had lived a life married to Thor, he wouldn't have this second family he has now, he would've lost his bond mate in a way that meant never seeing him instead of just not being his lover. No, what he has now is pretty damn good, Loki decides.
Still, he can think of several ways more his life can be better. He can have all of his family and he can have his power he is owed as Rådgiver.
"Excuse me," Loki says as he stands up abruptly. "I've got to go, expect my return in about a week or so."
"You can't just leave," Tony responds his brows furrowing.
Natasha raises a brow, "Where are you going?"
"Jotunheimr," Loki answers as he uses magic to change into the clothing best suited for his worlds harsh climate.
"Why?" Steve asks, "I thought you were happy here on Earth."
"I am," Loki agrees, "But I believe it is time for me to face the last of my family."
"Yes, you have a sibling don't you, Helblindi was it?" Bruce asks.
"Yes that is hänen name," Loki replies. "Now do excuse me, I really should get going."
With a flurry of snow and green magic, Loki teleports out of the room and all the way to Jotunheimr. He lands in the throne room where, conveniently, Helblindi is seated.
"Hello there," Loki greets as he looks up and pushes his long hair out of his eyes.
"Brother," Helbindi gasps and he lunged forwards to wrap Loki in a hug. "We thought you dead."
"No," Loki smirks, "I'm not quite that easy to be rid of."
His smirk isn't quite the same as it was before he went to Midgard, it's hiding a lot more pain, but Helblindi sees it as hän always has and Loki is treated the same. He can't help but be relieved that his sibling still treats him the same, not even blaming him for the death of their Mother.
"Tell me your story," Helblindi demands later when the two of them are situated in the monarch's private chambers.
Loki tells hän.
"So," Helblindi says, "You've been free for six months, why do you only just return to us?"
Loki's head hangs in shame, "I didn't wish to come and feel the shadow of Mother's death."
"I understand," Helblindi tells him placing a sympathetic hand onto the smaller Jotunn's.
"Although," Loki grins in an attempt to lighten the mood, "You could say I was distracted by Anthony's reincarnation."
Helblindi roars with laughter, "From your descriptions, this version is even feistier than the last."
"You could say that," Loki grins as he recalls Tony throwing Thor out of the building. "Though I confess, part of my distraction was that I do not know how to make him mine."
"There I can offer you no advice brother, simply a small piece of knowledge, the lands in which your bond mate resides have slowly adjusted over time. In some areas they even allow marriage between the same sex." Helblindi pauses, "However that is not the reason you sought out my company, is it?"
"No," Loki confesses. "It is not. I wish to complete the second trial for the title of Rådgiver."
Helblindi nods slowly, "Yes, you've already fulfilled the requirement as well as completed the first trial, haven't you? This is your last step."
"Yes," Loki agrees. "I need to steal from an enemy. My only question for you is, do the Aesir still have the Casket of Ancient Winters?"
A slow smile spreads across Helblindi's face, "I like the way you think, brother dearest."
Loki spends the next two days on Jotunheimr plotting for his theft when he is alone and catching up on Jotun culture when he is with Helblindi. It seems that he's missed a lot the years and Loki is fascinated with how his home world has changed.
When the time comes for Loki to leave, he presses a bright green ball of magic into Helblindi's hand. When the younger Jotunn looks at it in confusion, Loki explains.
"Its a communicator, when you desire my presence simply tell the ball and it will summon me. It's tuned specifically to your voice."
"Thank you," Helblindi cries as hän hugs Loki more.
"You're welcome," Loki answers, "Besides you didn't think I'd leave this planet with out a way to contact it's Rådgiver."
"Don't get to cocky," Helblindi warns him, but the older sibling is already teleporting himself away.
Once Loki arrives in Asgard, he begins his plans easily enough. It takes almost no effort to take out one of the guards for Odin's vault, store him in a pocket dimension, and take on his appearance. Acting as one of the guards is also a breeze, it's the runes protecting the vault that offer difficulty.
So Loki studies them. Most are standard protection runes, easy enough to break with raw power. However, other runes are long complicated puzzles where even one wrong move will destroy the person who attempts to undo them. That doesn't seem to discourage Loki who investigates the runes for three days straight.
Now, it is time for Loki to finally commit the actual theft. In his hand Loki grips his notes on the runes which have yet to be dismantled. After the use of an undetectable teleportation spell, Loki hovers outside the, currently unguarded (it was guard rotation), vault.
He places his hands on it almost reverently, though his respect is for the original crafters of the door's wards, not Odin. Gathering all of his energy, Loki begins the complicated spell work to bust through to thick vault doors. His magic works against the doors, but takes more energy than he expected.
Loki is feeling tired, and is in the midst of a spell to return him back to Jotunheimr when he feels a crippling pain running along his stomach. Instantly, he knows that the pain isn't his it's Tony's.
Closing his eyes Loki focuses on his bond to Tony and magically over views the other man's body. Almost immediately he can tell that Tony was ripped out of his suit and gutted during a fight. He's still alive as of right now, but Loki recognizes the wound as painful, and despite how long it will take, fatal with no hope at survival.
He doesn't accept it. Tony is dying, but Loki refuses to accept that this is the end. He will not lose his Anthony again.
So Loki leaves the kidnapped vault guard, and adjusts his teleportation spell to drop him of outside of the borders to Iðunn's garden. He avoids teleporting directly inside because even in his frenzied state Loki understands the Gardens are even better protected than the vault.
Loki doesn't have time to crack through the runes, not when Tony is back in Midgard dying, so instead he try's to appeal to Iðunn's better nature. Loki awaits at the borders of the garden for Iðunn to appear.
When she finally does it is with a fully stocked basket underarm. Loki just barely managed to suppress his urge to grab it and run. Instead he focuses on her face as he begs.
"Lady Iðunn, please grant me an apple," Loki requests.
"Why should I do that Laufeyson?" Iðunn asks with a raised brow, "When you are the one who disgraced our prince."
"It is not for me," Loki cries out, "I am Jotunn I have no need for an apple personally! Please, do not allow your hatred for me to allow another to die."
"These apples are Asgard's most closely guarded product," Iðunn says, "Why should give one to anyone else either?"
"Because," Loki all but yells, "Its for my bond mate. I know you have a soul bond, imagine your dear Bragi dying and you can feel every agony he experiences. Now imagine it not being the first time, imagine feeling your bond mates death again and again over the years despite not having met him for one life. Because that's what I endured, when I was locked away by your king. A cycle of pain."
"Very well," Iðunn replies sounding much more subdued. "I shall gift you an apple just this once, but do not approach me again for I shall not be so kind."
"Thank you," Loki breathes as he plucks the pro offered apple from her hands. "Thank you!"
Then he teleports of planet and back to Midgard where his beloved lay struggling for his life.
When Loki arrives, Tony has already been moved into a hospital. The team is crowed around his bedside until Loki pushes them away with a burst of magic (replenished the instant he landed on earth as the affects from completing the trials kick in).
"Move," Loki grunts and he sprints towards Tony's body. With a quick movement of his hands Loki wrenches open Tony's mouth and juices the apple above it.
The affect is instantaneous. The gaping wound in Tony's stomach begins to close as his color improves and his breathing becomes less labored.
"What was that?" Bruce breathes in awe.
"A golden apple, they restore life though admittedly with the added cost of immortality." Loki confesses. He's suddenly tired, drained by the whole ordeal.
"Why'd you even have that on you?" Steve asks simply looking confused.
Loki sighs, "While in Asgard, I sensed that Tony was nearing a tragic end and I managed to convince the apples guardian to give one to me so that I could save him."
"How did you sense that he was close to dying," Natasha questions her eyes sharp.
"I have a soul bond with him," Loki reluctantly reveals.
Clint gives an undignified yelp, "You and Tony kissed? When?"
"We have not," Loki admits, "Our bond stems from the fact that he is a reincarnation of my Anthony."
"Can you explain that?" Questions Bruxe looking completely fascinated with the concept.
"I'd rather not," Loki replies. "This conversation should probably happen with Tony first."
"No need," Tony's sleep laden voice says drifting up from his hospital bed. "That apple is pretty effective, gave me my memories back from my first life."
"Did it?" Loki asks tentatively unsure if he Tony feels about him now.
"Yeah, now come here," Tony demands.
Loki quickly obeys and is pulled into a steamy kiss Tony. Yes, he thinks, this is good.