It turned out that Loki was a cuddler when he was what Tom thought of as “nicely drunk”. That is to say, not so drunk that he was in some sort of maudlin trance in which he related every aspect of his unhappy life, and not so sober that he was entirely aware of himself.
Tom was not really sure why Loki had decided to start drinking in the first place, or where he had acquired the half dozen bottles of Scotch, but when he came home one evening it was to discover Loki curled peaceably on his side on the sofa, cradling a half empty Scotch bottle and humming what sounded like an Asgardian nursery rhyme.
Stitch was prowling suspiciously around three other empty bottles nearby on the floor, his nose wrinkled as he inspected them. Tom was quick to prevent him from drinking any (ever since discovering what Stitch was like after drinking coffee, both flatmates had agreed unequivocally to keep Stitch away from stimulants and drugs of any sort), scooping up the bottles with a vaguely wondering glance at Loki – deciding that Norse gods must have either a higher metabolism or just a higher alcohol tolerance than humans – and chucking them in the kitchen bin.
He had joined Loki on the sofa, flicking idly through the television channels before switching the box off, and settling down to a companionable silence, having poured himself a glass of the liquor. It was then that Loki had slumped on him, snuggling into his jumper, and muttering something sleepy about scarves and pudding. Tom hadn’t minded; it was a nice change to see a gentler side to his flatmate.
Things had taken a turn for the worse when Tom when to the bathroom, however. There was some issue that stopped it from flushing, and Tom had spent quite some time staring at the toilet, figuring out what was wrong, levering up the lid of the cistern and refilling it by hand with cups of water from the sink until he could flush it. He had heard some muffled singing of some sort from Loki through the door every now and then, but knew that there wasn’t enough alcohol in the flat for Loki to drink himself into a state that would make him a danger to himself or anyone else.
When Tom came out, he found Loki had all but finished the last bottle of the Scotch, and seemed to have chased Stitch around the dining room and lounge, finally catching him by an altered tackle that appeared to have involved Loki launching himself bodily across the room, and squashing the blue alien beneath his stomach. Tom returned in time to see Loki rolling off their slightly squashed and thoroughly disgruntled pet and onto his back, still on the floor, and picking the creature up in both hands, holding Stitch above him with a cooing, “I love you, yes I do!” before hugging him tightly to his chest. Tom leant against the hallway wall, his arms folded, smiling broadly.
Stitch did not seem to mind the squishing to begin with, though his expression was a mixture of disgruntled resignation and unenthusiasm. However, it was when Loki, in his drunken happiness, went a little too far with the pressure of his arms, that things changed.
Tom had barely time to register what had happened before it was over. Stitch had swiped Loki across the face, his second set of arms coming out, and rolled as Loki dropped him with a cry, scrambling across the floor to take refuge on the sofa under a pillow, growling slightly. Tom rushed forwards, checking Loki’s face, which was now a wobbly mixture of hurt and abandonment.
“He doesn’t love me, Thomas!” He wailed, tears coming to his eyes and dribbling down his cheeks.
“You just hugged him too hard, Loki; that’s all,” Tom said soothingly, peering at the scratches as Loki rolled around, his arms flailing. They were only minor. Loki rolled over onto his chest, still crying, and wailing about how much Stitch didn’t love him. Tom paused with him for a few moments, trying to calm the god down, but gave up and went to his room to look for some sticky plasters.
He knew that Loki had now drunk a little too much, and it was time for bed. With a little difficulty, Tom pulled the still squalling god to his feet, and helped him into his room. Loki’s eyes were red and his face blotchy, his nose running. Tom made him blow his nose, and he seemed to feel a little better. He had calmed sufficiently to let Tom lever him into bed, and tuck the blankets down, and then to clean the scratches and cover them with sticky plasters.
“You love me, don’t you, Tom?” Loki asked in a hopefully morose and distinctly blocked up tone, as Tom packed away his first aid box.
“Yes, of course I do,” Tom said comfortingly, patting Loki on the forehead gently as he slid down beneath the blankets. “And Stitch does too. Good night.”
Loki mumbled a sleepy, “Good night,” back, rolling over onto his side as Tom exited, pulling the door to.
After tidying up the lounge and dining room, straightening out the furniture and rugs where they had been disturbed, Tom sat on the sofa, and patted Stitch consolingly on the head, Stitch having crawled out from under his pillow to curl deprecatingly on Tom’s lap with a gentle “Eh, eh.”
“There, there, old boy,” Tom said softly, “I know you didn’t mean to hurt him.”
He sat there for a little while, and later when he went to bed, he could hear Loki humming the nursery rhyme to himself once more.
“THOMAS! WHAT ARE THESE VILE FABRIC SLUGS DOING STUCK TO MY FACE?!” Tom jerked awake, flying upright in his bed at the sudden fog horning tirade issuing from Loki’s bedroom across the hall.
Tripping over his bed sheets, he flew out of his room and into Loki’s catching hold of the door frame to prevent the momentum from sending him sprawling into the table.
He stared wildly around, his heart hammering with a mixture of alarm from his rude awakening and adrenaline from his almost-fall. Loki was leaning over the table in front of him, staring at his reflection in the mirror and examining the sticky plasters Tom had put over his scratches the previous night with an air of absolute disgust.
Tom frowned, vaguely dazed. “What is it Loki?” He gasped. Loki turned sharply to face his flatmate.
“What,” he asked disgustedly, “are these?” He pointed emphatically at the sticky plasters on his face.
Tom’s brows knitted with confusion. “Um? They’re sticky plasters?” Loki continued to stare at Tom with angry expectation; it was clear that he remembered nothing of the previous night. Tom rifled through his memory for synonyms. “Uh…Band Aids?” Loki’s frown deepened. “They’re sort of like miniature bandages.” Tom explained. Stitch had come to the door to watch the proceedings, summoned by the volume of Loki’s shout, his ears laid back.
Loki’s eyebrow rose. “And they are stuck to my face, how?” He asked, his tone still deeply unimpressed.
“With glue?” Tom hazarded. “That’s just how they come. I put them on you last night because you got scratched when you hugged Stitch too hard; it’s to help keep them clean.”
Loki snorted derisively. “Pathetic mortals; in Asgard we don’t have such mollycoddling. A wound is a scratch until it’s large enough to take out your eye, and then you can bandage it!”
It was Tom’s turn to raise an eyebrow.
“Get them off me,” Loki commanded.
With a sigh, Tom moved forwards, gripping the god’s head with one hand, and giving the first sticky plaster a sharp tug.
“OW!” Loki’s hand flew to his face, touching the now smarting red skin, his eyes livid. Tom’s eyebrows rose even higher.
“‘Pathetic mortals’, eh?” He asked with a hint of a laugh. Loki frowned, then pouted. Stitch grinned.