When Tom takes his hands and strokes the knuckles and says, “I love you,” Loki believes him, because Tom is painfully, painfully without guile. So he tries to match that, tries to show that, and says as truthfully as he knows how, as comes so naturally in Tom’s presence, “I love you too,” and then he locks himself in the bathroom to panic.
He doesn’t even touch the toilet at first, just grips the bathroom counter (two sets of toothbrushes, shared toothpaste, two cups for water reflected in the pristine glass) until the corners dig points into his palms, and he stares at his own reflection in the mirror. When he looks there, he sees more of Tom than himself, and it terrifies him. Everything about this mortal terrifies him, and there’s absolutely no basis for it. Tom quite clearly means him no harm, and that’s—
Well, that’s awful. Really.
Loki sinks to crouch close to the floor, and tries to remember how to breathe. He manages shallow breaths. He’s going to vomit, he’s certain of it. Toilet it is, then.
He doesn’t know how long he stares into the clear water, waiting for the sickness to either pass or peak. It’s a long time, and he closes his eyes and tries not to think.
He does anyway.
Loki is very good at yearning. He is very good at wanting without having, at eyeing the prize dangled before him with a trick string. He is very, very good at driving himself mad over it.
He is not so good with reciprocation.
“You all right in there?” Tom calls, and Loki’s head jerks up.
“No,” he calls back before he can think up a lie.
No, he isn’t going to vomit. He is going to die. He’s lucid enough to realize how melodramatic that sounds, even for him, but he can’t fathom this going any other way. His senses are criss-crossed like taut string, are tangling themselves in each other like static, and he doesn’t know what to do. He has tried (and failed) to think himself out of this situation, to strategize his way through it. It hasn’t worked. That’s fine. Or it was fine, until the damn creature had to return these feelings.
So, given all that, it’s a mere seventeen more minutes before he removes himself from the bathroom. Tom’s still standing there, looking charactaristically worried.
“I’m fine,” Loki says, and he tries to say it curtly but he just sounds breathless. Tom is stealing all his lies, and Loki doesn’t like it. He doesn’t like quite a lot of the things Tom does, actually. Or maybe he doesn’t like that he likes it. He’s still puzzling through that one.
And Tom, damn Tom, is just giving him that sympathetic I know look, and reaches out and takes Loki’s hands again.
“It’s all right,” he says.
“You don’t believe that.”
“Of course I do.”
“Loki,” Tom says, and Loki’s breaking.
“You’re going to remember who I am and you’re going to leave and you’re going to break my heart,” Loki says all in a rush. “You’re going to leave.”
“I’m not,” Tom says. It sounds like a promise. Loki knows he means it now, but what about in three months? Three days? What then?
“I am horribly in love with you,” Loki tells him. “It’s awful.”
Tom’s lips quirk. “It sounds horrendous.”
“It is,” Loki is saying, but he can already feel himself calming, and Tom leans in and kisses him. Loki sighs into it, and when Tom pulls back to look at him, Loki feels safe and feels like all the twisted, tangled emotion is stretching him on his tiptoes. It’s all very unfamiliar.
“Hey,” Tom says.
“I love you,” Loki says again, just because the words feel so alien in his mouth, knocking against his teeth.
“I know,” Tom says, and squeezes his hands. “I want to keep you around.”
Loki bites his tongue and takes in an embarassingly shaky breath. He’s not good at this.
Tom jostles their hands a little bit. “Okay?” he says, and his eyes don’t waver.
Something fierce in Loki’s chest comes alive. “Okay,” he promises, and kisses Tom back this time.