wordsworn: My clockwork heart counts the seconds; I have no time for anyone but myself. (Default)
★ Writing Journal for Alory Shannon ★ ([personal profile] wordsworn) wrote2011-08-06 12:43 am

"Growing Pains" - Loki + Thor (AU movie!Marvelverse) - {Chapter IX}

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A/N: Sorry for slowness! This ended up being another long chapter, and that other one-shot fic ate my brain for a few days there. Anyway--any Discworld fans out there? :3 If so, maybe you’ll catch a certain something, and maybe you won’t since it’s super-tiny.

And if you’re not a Discworld fan, then SHAME ON YOU YOU SHOULD BE. Or else we can’t be friends. Just sayin’. |3

…Also, the slight (very slight and one-sided, because this is GEN!BRO-FIC, with no pairings rly) Loki/Sif hints in this chapter are blamed solely on dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] fialleril. ;3

Link to this cross-posted in the comments of Round 1 @ [livejournal.com profile] norsekink.



{ .IX. } {In Which Loki Goes Through Frost Giant Menopause, Sort Of, & Thor Still Kind Of Fails At Understanding Everything In General}

- ♦ ♈ ♦ -

For Loki, what had happened on their quest to Svartalfheim only seems to have exacerbated his problems. He recovers quickly thanks to all the healing magic used on him, which he’s mildly surprised to find resonates with his own somehow, increasing the effectiveness significantly. Yet his magic is still as hard to control as before, the only difference being that now it doesn’t fade out at random. Now, it’s perpetually present…and active.

This particular change manifests itself largely in relation to his body temperature. For all his life, as long as he can remember, he’s almost always felt comfortably warm: not hot, and certainly not cold. Late at night he might slip away into the lower levels of the library or even the weapons vault, seeking somewhere a little cooler, a place more open and less close and stifling than his rooms sometimes felt on long summer evenings, and somewhere dry as well, since humidity made the ends of his hair curl in a most unmanageable fashion.

But now, for the first time, he wakes in the middle of the night covered in a sheen of sweat--at times so hot he can scarcely gasp in breath enough to find even a middling relief, and at others so cold he almost thinks his chattering teeth might shatter themselves with the force of their clacking. On the worst nights, he wakes multiple times, sometimes nearly every hour on the hour, and what was unbearable heat the hour before can easily shift into bone-deep chills the next time, or might instead remain the same; there is no pattern to this either.

Even worse than that strange and sporadic discomfort, he finds that if anyone touches any part of his skin directly, there’s a high chance that they’ll end up with a moderately severe case of frostbite. It isn’t always, at least not most of the time, just when he has one of those peculiar temperature fluxes, and at first he had thought it was only an issue during the cold ones, but that clearly isn’t right because sometimes he finds he’s frozen book pages together even during the hot ones. And after all, better safe than sorry. It isn’t as if he’s particularly partial or prone to regular physical contact anyway, and while he doubts that brushing arms with anyone would prove fatal, he has proven to be decidedly unlucky in many instances, particularly where things of this magnitude are involved. All told, it is simply better not to risk it…especially considering the way he learns it is a danger in the first place.

- ♦ ♈ ♦ -

He’s in the process of reaching for the serpent-green silk dressing gown he intends to wear over his plain linen bedclothes, clothing himself a bit more appropriately in anticipation of finally being allowed to leave the Healing Room for his own chambers, when she comes to see him.

This is not Sif’s first visit to his sickbed, though it is her first unaccompanied by Thor or the Warriors, and he can’t help but raise an eyebrow as she steps through the doorway alone. He hasn’t been confined to the Healing Room for all that long--it’s nearing the end of his fourth day, and while he’s still tired and sore and his arm aches when he moves it wrong (or much at all really), he’s hale enough to continue his recovery in his own rooms, without all the constant care and supervision. So there’s no cause for concern, no practical reason for her to stop in to see him like this, which means the warrior-maid receives Loki’s standard drily distant wit.

“Visiting all on your own? That’s not like you.” Robe in hand, the prince shifts in bed, moving towards sitting on its edge, each movement careful but purposeful. He doesn’t bother looking her way even as he continues to speak to her. “I suppose you must be anxious to see me well again so that you might have another chance at being the one to place me here, as per usual. Regrettably, the only battle I can offer you for the time being is one of wit and words.” His other eyebrow joins the first, and now he does send a pointedly bland, sideways glance her way. “Pity. Let us hope that you won’t prove to be too much of a poor loser on that front.”

It’s pure reflex to bristle a little at that sort of barb, but otherwise Sif doesn’t respond to his baiting. She’d come here for a specific reason, and having another row with Asgard’s younger prince is not the order of the day. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“I didn’t come for a fight, be it of words or otherwise. I came to…” Her mouth twists as she hesitates, obviously not pleased with what her warrior’s sense of honour is forcing her to say and do here. “To make amends for allowing Fandral and Thor’s account of our quest to spread—”

The dark-haired prince cuts her off with a dismissive wave of his good hand. Gossip spreads like a malignant disease, swift and highly communicable; even here in the Healing Room, Loki knows all about Thor and the Death of the Great Wyrm Andvari, and while he denies feeling anything about being so left out of every telling he’s overheard thus far, deep down he knows that’s another lie. Truly, he feels nothing--literally nothing, as if a dark, bottomless hole had opened up inside of him, swallowing all emotions even abstractly related to the issue. But if he could feel anything about it other than that calmly numb emptiness, surprise would certainly not be among the emotions he would be feeling. Of course Thor would take all the credit, or at least wouldn’t refuse if it were attributed to him. Of course Loki would remain in the shadows, unacknowledged and ignored. It had always been thus, save when the ‘credit’ for a deed came out looking a good deal more like blame, which was when it most often came to roost with Loki.

Of course, of course.

Which is why Loki stops Sif’s confession of sorts short with that careless gesture.

“Speak whatever apologies your conscience dictates you must in order to assuage your guilt, Lady Sif,” he says with a small but still clearly sardonic smile. “Though if you truly seek to make reparations, you shall have to do better than that. After all, talk is cheap, isn’t it. Particularly to a warrior, who more commonly speaks with actions rather than words.”

Loki stands, turning away to shrug into his robe, then winces as his arm catches in one flowing sleeve. Pain aside, his formerly-broken, still heavily-bandaged arm won’t bend quite right, which tends to make even simple tasks such as getting dressed something of a trial. He resolutely continues the struggle, though the odd angle and lack of flexibility in the limb prevent him from making much progress…until Sif rises to his challenge and takes action.

A pair of strong and firm but not ungentle hands take charge, one pressing against his upper arm, a forceful suggestion that he cease all movement, while the other adjusts and lifts the robe just so, sliding it neatly onto his arm with little effort. Loki turns his head to the side just enough to watch Sif out of the corner of one eye, his expression guarded, as if he believes her every bit as likely to grab hold of his arm and break it again as she is to truly give him aid (which is not true: he actually thinks it’s more likely that she’ll break his arm, especially after all his needling). So he isn’t quite able to disguise the flicker of startled uncertainty that crosses his face as she comes around in front of him, drawing the robe closed and tying it off with the nearby sash, her touch methodical, mechanical, perhaps a little rough, and yet somehow almost maternal. His expression closes, his eyes scrutinising her face as she adjusts his collar, then moves to his right sleeve, rolling it up to check the bandage.

“That will be quite enough, milady. You’ve proven your point.” He tries to pull away, a futile endeavor, and thus decides to attempt a different tactic. “…Though you’ve also proven me correct, you know. You must truly believe that you require my forgiveness to willingly assist me so…and it was your actions that convinced me of that, not your words.”

This time Sif doesn’t even tense in response, tamping down on her temper, keeping whatever anger or other emotions she feels out of her face and hands. “I shall finish what I started, milord,” she says, matching his initial supercilious tone as she finishes getting his sleeve out of the way and turns her full attention to the bandage. Her scrupulous inspection reveals a loose end, and she reaches out to tuck it back under with deft fingers. As she does so, the side of her ungloved palm rests casually against his arm, pressed against his bare skin for one second, two, three—

Then she gives a pained gasp and recoils, pulling her hand away with a startled jerk, and they both stare aghast at the slick-looking patch of skin spreading across her palm, tinted blue and edging into black: frostbite.

Loki’s eyes are wide with undisguised horror, his face gone bloodlessly pale, and for a moment he stands motionless, as if frozen in place himself. The next moment finds him moving away rapidly, all but stumbling those first few steps, taken backwards in his shell-shocked haste. Yet, he recovers quickly, or more than likely simply succeeds in concealing all the physical tells of his terror and dismay.

Well, almost all.

“L-Lady Sif, I—truly, I did not mean…” He swallows hard, though dry as his mouth is, it does little to ease the strain in his throat. “It’s—it’s my magic, you see, I haven’t been able to—control it recently, and I—that is—well, it’s been like this ever since our quest to Svartalfheim…”

Stammering, he’s stammering--he, Loki Liesmith, the silver-tongued tactician who had talked his way out of beheadings and tipped the balance in more than one discussion with naught save a few subtle but well-placed statements or a single sly question--but that is almost to be expected. Sif and the All-father himself are the only two people he’s ever encountered with the power to render him speechless with any sort of regularity. Odin generally does so whenever he is present, through inspiring awestruck fear and an intense desire to win a father’s love and pride; Sif only seems to do strike Loki silent at the worst possible moments, when adolescent awkwardness and muddled maybe-there feelings are present and prevalent enough to choke the life out of any clever responses.

Such is the case now, though guilt, fear, and remorse weigh heavily in the front of his mind and the back of his throat as well, tasting bitterly of blood and bile. Only when his hand closes around one of the door handles does he finally does manage to speak smoothly through it all. “Stay here,” he says with a calm he doesn’t really feel, keeping his eyes riveted on the door in front of him. “I’ll send for a healer.”

Without waiting for her reply, and unwilling to risk a glance at her face, the younger prince whisks out of the room. He’s running away, sure enough, but the blow to whatever is left of his princely pride is infinitely preferable to the possibility of seeing scorn or disgust or even fear on Sif’s face at this moment. Any other time, he would welcome it, want it, even work for such a response, simply because it was a response, and one meant only for him; but not now, not when it has so much to do with his true identity, that thing which he’s come to consider his darkest secret.

Better to run, and to turn his back before he has to watch her turn hers. So flee he does.

And this time he proves true to his word. The healer arrives within minutes, moving without question to tend the hand that the still rather stunned-looking Sif is holding clutched close to her chest, an unconscious attempt at protection and restoration.

But Loki himself doesn’t come back.

- ♦ ♈ ♦ -

Thor had begun to worry about his brother years ago, when even from a young age Loki had proved far more interested in books and studying rather than battle and bloodshed; but when Loki withdraws even further into those books (something Asgard’s first prince hadn’t thought possible) on their return from Svartalfheim, that worry is magnified several times over. Particularly since Thor’s still feeling thoroughly guilty about his treatment of Loki after that latest yelling match with Odin. And to make things worse, Thor finds that Loki flinches visibly whenever anyone moves within a few feet of him, drawing back rather obviously from any attempts at physical contact. Clearly all that time spent alone, all that reading, has turned his brother’s head.

As far as his own mental turns go, Thor is still working through everything Odin had said to him, trying to implement it, to put it into practise, though he finds, inevitably, that it isn’t easy to change who you are, and it’s outright impossible to do so overnight or in a handful of days. So while he does want to apologise to Loki for dragging him along on such a dangerous and unnecessary quest, and much as he knows he needs to make reparations for Fandral’s and his own fallacious retelling of that quest, Thor hasn’t been able to bring himself to that point yet. Every time they meet, he finds himself slipping back into his old ways…because much as he knows that he must change at least somewhat if he’s ever to be a worthy king and a good brother, deep down, there are certain things that he doesn’t ever want to change. And his relationship with Loki, the unconditional love and boundless devotion and deep affection they share, is one of those things. And yet, they are brothers, and thus there is a deep-seated rivalry there as well that occludes the devotion and the outward affection, if not quite the love, at certain times: Thor can’t allow himself to show any weakness or the slightest waver in purpose.

…And yet, this sudden and all but total avoidance is something perplexing and new. Loki had always been somewhat reticent, and the memory of his resistance to joining in the extra training sessions is still fresh in Thor’s mind; but this, he can tell, is different somehow. Then Loki had been far more self-assured and poised, purposeful and pleased when his tricks played out well. Now…now, he recoils, then simply magicks himself away without a word, looking weary and wary and pale as ash. There are no tricks this time, just avoidance, plain and simple.

And somehow, because of that difference, Thor finds that he can’t leave Loki alone any longer, regardless of his own issues and uncertainties. Whatever problems he’s working through himself, his brother’s well-being and happiness are still paramount in Thor’s mind, so long as there’s even the smallest chance that he might be able to do something about all this.

- ♦ ♈ ♦ -

“Brother, I shall never understand how you can read so many books of this sort.”

His expression guarded, Loki looks up from a well-worn copy of Capslock’s Compleet Lexicon of Majik with Precepts for the Wise…only to find one corner of his mouth inching upwards as he watches his older brother, scowling in intense concentration, fan through an exceptionally brilliant but somewhat esoteric book on hermetics. “Of what sort, Brother?” he asks quietly, his voice rough from disuse; until now, he hadn’t spoken all day, or the day before that either. “What fault do you find with Mallich’s work?”

“There are no pictures.”

The younger prince gives a blink, as if he wants to believe his brother is joking but knows better by now, then sighs and turns a longsuffering look up at the ceiling, but there’s a trace of a smile on his face as his attention returns to his own book. “And yet, a more in-depth perusal would reveal that it does contain a wealth of diagrams. Close enough, wouldn’t you say?”

Thor grunts, clearly in the negative, and drops that book in favour of another, a large red-leather-bound tome, which when opened reveals gorgeous images so brilliantly hued that the colours seem to leap off the pages, dazzling the eyes and capturing the imagination. Thor gazes at it long, flipping back and forth a bit, then grins, catching the book up and turning it to face his brother, holding it out confidently and commandingly.

“Here now, this is what you need. An adventure!”

Loki rolls his eyes again and turns a page in his decidedly less-flashy book, not bothering to look over at whatever picture Thor’s trying to show him. “I’ve had quite enough of your adventures for the time being, I think,” he says, meaningfully resting a hand on the bandages protecting his still-healing and until-recently-broken arm. “And if I’m not mistaken, Volstagg and Hogun are still recovering from the last one as well, so you had best wait a while.” He lets that sink in for a second, then continues, “In any case, I’m surprised you’re not bored with these adventures of yours already. They’ve all started to seem the same—”

“Ah, with that I agree, Brother,” Thor cuts in, an edge of reckless excitement to his voice, his conversation with Odin unfortunately all but forgotten in the heat of the moment. “But you forget that there’s one place we have yet to venture: Jotunheim!”

Loki falters a bit at that, his throat closing up for half a second, but his head is bowed, and the thinning of his lips as well as the flicker of raw emotion that crosses his face goes unmarked by his older brother. Another half-second later, and it’s as if he hadn’t reacted at all. “Of course not,” he says, sounding poised but perhaps a bit more cold and flat than usual. “It’s forbidden.”

Thor doesn’t seem to have heard him, much less picked up on that understated shift, already too caught up in this newest idea, another grand quest. “The tales say that there is a great deal of worthwhile treasure there. We could retrieve Heimdall’s horn from the Jotnar, or visit the Fountain of Mimir and become as wise as Father—”

“Forbidden,” Loki repeats firmly, and turns another page.

Thor can’t help snorting out an amused but disbelieving chuckle at that. “Since when do you care so much about bending a few rules, Brother?”

And in reply, Loki says…nothing.

Thor blinks, a bit taken aback by the silence and lack of the usual quick, likely-sarcastic response, but he shrugs it off shortly. “Ah, Loki,” he says with a smile and an irritatingly patronising shake of his head, “I believe you simply need to fight something more challenging—”

“If you’ll remember, I did fight something ‘more challenging,’ Thor,” Loki cuts in, his tone frosty. “Something that even you, for all your strength and bravery, could not defeat by might alone.”

Sharp as those words are, they clearly leave not a mark on the elder prince, who just waves them carelessly aside, wide smile unfaltering. “I know not what has caused this latest distemper of yours, Brother, but surely it cannot be anything that slaying a few of those monstrous Frost Giants wouldn’t put to rights—”

Thor’s boisterous behavior comes to an abrupt end as he looks over at his brother. Loki has gone utterly still, neither blinking nor breathing, his face as blank and impassive as a glacier, and despite the lack of visible emotion, somehow every bit as frigid as well. Their eyes meet, and for half an instant, it feels to Thor as though he’s looking out across an endlessly wide snow-swept plain, empty but for the biting cold and the oppressive silence.

Thor’s belligerence and oh-so-casual mention of slaughtering Frost Giants is understandably upsetting to Loki, though he hides his every emotion--his fear, his resentment, his jealousy, and a shuddering sorrow that feels as if it would rend his heart in two if he dwelt on it overlong--beneath an implacable mask of icy displeasure. How little Thor knows, he thinks absently as one of those chronic cold flashes suddenly grips him, temporarily stealing his breath as it digs frozen fingers into every muscle, every joint, every nerve-ending in his body; but this time he doesn’t fight the agonising twist of those wintry knives, simply accepting the cold without with slightest shiver, submitting to its arctic embrace. How little he understands.

“Well,” Loki says aloud, his voice scarcely more than a whisper, though even that is enough to break the uncanny stillness stretching between them; still, he doesn’t look away, his stare doesn’t waver, and despite the dispassion covering the younger prince’s face, Thor can’t miss the bone-deep chill in his brother’s green eyes. “I hope you enjoy your next irrational, impossible quest: convincing Heimdall of the necessity of this fool’s errand.” Loki looks away at last, calmly and deliberately withdrawing his gaze and turning his attention to gathering up his books, parchment, and pens, sorting them into a tidy stack before him. “The Gatekeeper obeys Father’s will, and Father’s will alone. Heimdall will never allow you passage to Jotunheim.” Those piercingly polar eyes snap up, fastening on Thor’s again, and the elder prince’s breath catches at the sharpness there, the hair on the back of his neck rising even though Loki hasn’t given the faintest indication of any sort of attack, and has in fact gone unnaturally still once more but for the movement of his mouth. “And I have not the slightest intention of helping you get around him this time, Brother.”

With that, he gathers up his books and moves off down the nearest aisle of bookshelves, turning his back on Thor with a decisive sort of deliberation.

“Loki—” Reacting on impulse alone, Thor takes two long strides after him and stretches out a hand, reaching for his brother’s shoulder—only to find his fingers closing on nothing as the Trickster slides to the side, the movement smooth as a snake’s and twice as fast.

“Don’t—touch—me,” Loki hisses, coming about just enough to turn a baleful glower on the other prince. Thor pauses mid-stride, his still-outstretched hand dropping to his side--not out of surprise or deference to his brother’s wishes, and especially not out of fear…but instead because Loki’s mask has slipped, his sangfroid faltering long enough for Thor to catch a glimpse of the raw pain, the gut-wrenching anguish and obvious dread concealed beneath it; it’s a sight that shakes Thor to his core. Even so, a fraction of an instant later it’s all gone again, vanished as if buried beneath winter-white banks of snow, and Loki, his eyes huge and hard and his face even paler than usual, has spun away to stalk off down the rows of books once more.

Thor starts to follow again, starts to try to apologise for everything he’s just said as well as what had happened on Svartalfheim, but Loki has already magicked himself away before the elder prince can call after him, and by now Thor knows when Loki’s mood has become intractable and Loki himself too standoffish to get through to.

What’s more, Thor’s not certain he truly deserves to be in his brother’s presence at the moment. What had begun, or at least been intended as an attempt to make some sort of apology had ended almost the same way as their quest to Svartalfheim had started: with Loki resisting and expressing his disinterest, and Thor refusing to listen and forcing the issue anyway, seeking to haul him along despite his younger brother’s well-placed objections.

“Have you learned nothing, you fool?” he growls to himself under his breath, hands clenching in frustration as he turns about, pacing aimlessly back down the rows of bookshelves. “You need to listen, need to—argh!” He raises one mighty fist as if to slam it into the nearest bookcase, but checks himself at the last moment. That kind of display will help no one, and it’s exactly the sort of thing he would have done without thinking a little more than a week before. Instead, he presses the first two knuckles of that fist against his forehead, closing his eyes and outwardly calming himself even as he continues to mentally kick himself for his poor conduct over the last few minutes.

He has to dwell on it for a while, considering what he should have said and done, before he comes to a realisation that makes him blanch. For not only had he failed to apologise and mend his previous behaviour, but in doing so, he had essentially dismissed Loki’s near-brush with death as an event of no import. His brother had deserved far better than that, especially after all he’d done. Thor has little doubt that Loki could have easily fled at nearly any point during the battle with Andvari, leaving his companions to die while emerging from the fight unscathed, then returned home and spun a convincing tale for the All-father as to why he’d been forced to leave them behind. Instead, he’d stayed and risked his life to save them all, and what thanks had they given him for that?

In addition, seeing Loki as he had been a few seconds ago, so emotionally exposed and uncharacteristically distressed and frightened, has left the Thunder-god feeling a trifle unbalanced even now. Leaving Loki’s role out of the tale of their quest was wrong, but surely it wasn’t enough to warrant that kind of reaction, or that much hurt. He can’t even begin to fathom why Loki would look at him that way, can’t comprehend what could possibly be causing his brother so much pain.

And so he decides to pay a visit to the wisest person he knows, and seek his guidance in this matter.

- ♦ ♈ ♦ -

“I assure you, my son, there is nothing amiss in regards to your brother.” The All-father pauses to turn a considering eye on his firstborn before adding, “Save, perhaps, your own continued insensitivity where Loki is concerned.”

“I know I have behaved foolishly, Father, though believe you me, it was not my intention to treat him thus this time. But my own poor conduct is not what is in question here.” He hesitates, uncertain not of what he wants to say, but where to even start. After a while, he gives a breathy laugh, shaking his head in consternation. “How can you say there is nothing amiss when he turned on me so, and for such a small thing as attempting to lay a hand on his shoulder?” The warrior-prince jabs a finger in the general direction of the royal library, a distinct but so far understated growl rising in his voice. “You did not see the look in his eyes, Father. For an instant he was as a wild beast, unable to decide whether to fight, flee, or simply flinch away--in fear.”

“Thor—”

Thor ignores the faint warning in his father’s voice, just shaking his head harder in denial and rejection of Odin’s assurances, his befuddlement plain. “Fear—why fear? Since we were grown, never have I raised my hand against him in earnest. And does his anger over my recent mistakes run so deep that he can no longer bear the thought of my touch? But still, that fear! To see such dread on my brother’s face and know that I was the cause…!” Blue eyes narrow in contemplation, then widen with concern. “…Unless…he truly is unwell…”

Odin makes no reply to this, but Thor takes his lack of denial for confirmation. Which in this case, it isn’t. Not really.

“For Loki to be so very unwell… Long have I wondered if this might be the case, and yet I had hoped that I was wrong. Is it in his mind, Father, or his body? Surely it cannot be both—”

“Calm yourself, boy, and mind what you have been told.” There’s a hint of an edge in the All-father’s voice, and it’s mirrored in his stern expression, but Thor pays heed to neither, his temper flaring slightly in response to the reprimand.

“You have told me nothing! I will not have my concerns brushed aside like this—not this time! Not when Loki’s behaviour of late is so unnatural—”

“Thor.” Odin’s voice carries such weight that it requires only a single syllable to pin his son in place and stay all his protests. “I do not often repeat myself, but in this case I will, for Loki’s sake.” The King of Asgard looks his eldest son squarely in the face, speaking with deliberate slowness and clarity. “There is nothing wrong with your brother, Thor. Everything is fine.”

Thor’s hands open and close at his sides, once, twice, as if longing to curl themselves into fists or else catch hold of Mjöllnir’s haft and swing away until even this sort of problem has somehow resolved itself. “…But…”

Suddenly looking profoundly weary, the All-father raises a hand to stay any further questions or objections. “You press me for answers that are not mine to give, my son. But I swear to you by the name of my father, and of his father before him, there is nothing wrong with Loki either mentally or physically. I swear it. And this I ask of you, my firstborn and heir: tax your brother not with these questions you ask of me. He has troubles enough to concern himself with these days without you adding to them. Just trust in him, and enjoy his company as ever you have.”

Thor bows his head in acceptance and Odin starts to turn away, then stops and levels a meaningful stare at the blonde warrior. “…After you apologise to him and clear the air between you, of course.”

- ♦ ♈ ♦ -

It takes him the better part of a day, but eventually Thor allows himself to knock on the door to Loki’s chambers. His first thought had been to go directly from his meeting with Odin to straighten things out with his brother then and there. Yet despite that almost overwhelming impulse, he’d paused, deciding to consider what he wanted and needed to say for once rather than simply rushing in and blurting out whatever he thought or felt at the moment. He’d already witnessed firsthand the unfortunate results that kind of lack of forethought would incur, and he had no desire for a repeat of what had happened in the library earlier.

He would find Loki, and he would apologise to him immediately, gracefully, thoroughly. He’d spent some time working out more or less what he wanted to say, only he kept forgetting bits and pieces of it when he tried to practise saying it aloud, and it always sounded too stiff and formal in his ears, not sincere or truly sorry at all. Nonetheless, he thought as he awaited the response to his knocking, it was necessary—

But all of that forethought vanishes in an instant as the door swings open to reveal his wide-eyed and careful-cagey brother. “Loki,” he finds himself blurting, “Forgive me, Brother, I beg you, both for our earlier exchange, and the events of these past few days. The quest to Svartalfheim was pure foolishness, an act of thoughtless pride. It was reckless and selfish of me insist on it as I did when there was so little gain…and so very much to lose.” He swallows hard, his eyes intense on his brother’s face, and presses on. “Forgive me that, Loki. And forgive as well my thoughtless actions in the library--I meant no unkindness, and did not seek to belittle your brave and honourable near-sacrifice. Yet that is what I did, unknowingly.” The blonde warrior shakes his head, a rueful smile coming to his face. “And that sort of ignorance cannot stand: I must be more responsible. It is my duty to protect our people, including you, Brother, not to go looking for situations that will put them in danger. As Father has said, there is danger enough to be found without looking for it.” That smile grows compassionate, warm and full of brotherly affection, and it’s all Thor can do not to grasp at his brother’s shoulder. “You know I love you best of all our companions, Loki, and after that valiant deed of yours, I need not ask if you feel the same. I would that I should not lose that love over my own foolishness, even if I have proven myself unworthy of it.” He spreads his hands beseechingly, bowing his head ever so slightly. “Thus I say again: please, Brother. Forgive me.”

By now Loki’s eyes are hooded, his expression gone still and guarded, and it doesn’t shift even slightly as he stands in the partly-opened door to his chambers and listens to his brother’s surprisingly long-winded confession. Seeing Thor in any sort of submissive pose strikes Loki as wrong somehow, and if he didn’t know exactly how guileless his older brother is, he would suspect it as some sort of mockery; as it is, he can take it for nothing but the truth.

And in light of that, what he feels as he looks up at Thor is…surprise, and a happy sort of relief. It’s too much to expect Thor to experience any sort of significant change to his personality, as this impulsive and babbling profession of guilt and subsequent penitence clearly demonstrate. But the possibility that even one time out of four, Thor will stop to consider his words or deeds is a marked improvement over his previous, entirely thoughtless conduct.

“…Very well,” Loki says after a long moment’s pause, easing back a step away from the door. “Consider your apology accepted, and clemency granted.”

Thor brightens, and it’s as if the sun has broken through a gap in the clouds on a rainy day, though Loki cannot believe that his brother would sincerely think his regrets might fall on deaf ears or a heart of stone. Thor cannot have had any doubt that he would be forgiven, eventually if not now, though again, it is against Thor’s nature to leave anything unsettled, especially where it concerns his brother. Loki is far too dear to him for there to be any sort of bad blood between them for long: it had always been that way, ever since they were small boys.

Loki finds one side of his mouth curling ever so slightly as he takes another step back to open the door farther. “Though if you have further business here, or any words left, do come in. And in the future you might think to save your speeches for walls with fewer ears.”

Thor nods amiably as he moves into the room, unbothered by the prospect of anyone having overheard what he’d said. Loki gives an inward sigh and thinks that it’s this artlessness sort of innocence, not ignorance, that must truthfully be the closest thing to bliss.

Although ignorance is still close, and Thor possesses a fair measure of both.

Closing the door, he returns to his study-table. This receiving room, the outer chamber of his quarters, resembles nothing so much as a miniature library, full of charts and book-crammed shelves. Bits and pieces and various components of magical spells take up a large table in one corner, tucked away out of the light that, were it day, would pour in honeyed streams from the room’s floor-length windows. Rolls of parchment, pens and inkwells, and further stacks of all sorts of texts cover another collection of smaller tables, though there’s still a concession to sociability, if not congeniality, in the cluster of couches and comfortable chairs surrounding the fire-pit on the far side of the room. Of course, Thor being Thor, he ignores all that inviting furniture in favour of half-leaning against, half-sitting on the edge of the table nearest the one where Loki is seated, crossing his arms over his chest and surveying the room in general and his brother in particular with a benevolent, thoroughly kingly sort of air.

Watching Thor from beneath his eyelashes as he mechanically straightens his workspace, Loki considers telling him The Truth. They’re alone, in private, and while there’s undeniably still an element of strain in their current relationship, it’s been years since Loki felt this closely connected to his elder brother. The pure, easy intimacy of childhood was lost to them with the onset of adolescence and the full realisation of their physical and psychological differences, and the growing pains that tugged and pulled and bent everything out of shape still plague them, figuratively if not literally. Thinking of those bygone days always leaves Loki feeling somber, lonely, and more than just a little empty, as if he’d been left behind and no one had bothered to notice as much.

And now? He dares not speak of it now, for fear of breaking the tenuous peace or the timorous return of these long-lost feelings of equality and simplicity, a waning of sibling rivalry and a waxing of brotherly regard, the solid sense of being co-conspirators rather than competitors once again. With that feeling of acceptance taken into consideration, Loki can’t quite bring himself to divulge the truth, even if it means that this acceptance is, as before, built on a foundation not wholly secure. Better a false comfort than a true hatred.

“What else brings you here,” Loki says instead, a safe and simple question, seeking information rather than providing it.

Thor, who is the straightforward plain-faced type that can have no secrets for long, nods and moves on to the next matter at hand. “In all honesty, Brother, I would speak to you about your isolation. Your friends have felt your absence of late, I most of all. And it was largely due to my desire to remedy that absence that caused me to propose the quest to Svartalfheim.” Loki slowly leans back in his chair as Thor continues, “They are your friends, Loki, and I am your brother. If ever we have done aught to offend you, you need only tell us.”

Loki wavers, unable to put aside the memory of what he’d done to Sif when last he’d seen her--unintentionally, yes, but it was still his fault that she’d come to harm, minor a hurt as it had been. “Your words are appreciated, Thor, but forgive me if I cannot help but doubt their veracity.” The younger prince knows that the Warriors are devoted enough to Thor that they would be inclined to tell their leader whatever he wanted to hear; if Thor wanted Loki back, they would likely agree with him regardless of their true feelings. Sif, on the other hand, has never been afraid to speak her mind directly, and therein Loki can discern the truth of the matter. “The Lady Sif, at least, must not object to my continued absence.”

Thor regards Loki with a surprising level of seriousness, a brief handful of heartbeats passing by before he speaks, slowly and solemnly. “As of late yestermorn, Sif has fought and defeated Fandral seven times since our return from Svartalfheim, twice sending him to the Healing Room with considerable injuries.” He can’t prevent a smile from coming to his face as he continues, “And the day before last, she very nearly sent me there as well. In your absence due to injury, she has all but declared herself your champion, and has sworn to face no others on the training grounds until she deems adequate compensation has been made for our inaccurate tellings of Andvari’s defeat.”

Loki’s response is an unmistakably dubious eyebrow-quirk--he can’t imagine Sif taking his part so strongly over anything, much less something like this, but he hasn’t the chance to say so since Thor is still talking.

“We’ve told the tale as it should have been told ever since her first round with Fandral, but it has done little to appease her anger. I believe she holds herself somewhat responsible for the spread of that false retelling…but even more, I think that she is vexed at the thought of finding herself beholden to you. She did not expect that you would save our lives at the risk of your own, and she is not the sort to leave a debt unpaid, whether she likes it or no.”

“I see,” Loki murmurs, staring down at his folded hands. Of course it’s all due to her warrior’s pride, he thinks, brushing aside the faintest twinge of something very much like disappointment. Still, at the same time it satisfies his logical side, which in itself is something of a relief. Repayment for a life saved--that, at least, makes sense enough that he can accept it.

“In any case…Sif has been in this foul temper for nearly a seven-day now, with no sign of easing up. In fact, I think she only grows more fierce. And so your friends and I would ask, admittedly for our own sakes, that you visit the training grounds soon, and regularly afterwards, to prove that you no longer have need of such a champion.”

In that moment there are few things that Loki wants more than to refuse that request. His magic is more wildly out of control than ever, he’s nearly always tired, and he has yet to fully heal from his injuries; his arm still bothers him when he tries to carry too many books, and any sort of twisting would likely prove to be something of a bad idea for at least another day or two. And he certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep over it even if Fandral received a daily thrashing from Sif for the rest of his life--in fact, he rather thinks the ‘dashing’ warrior has something of the sort coming. They all do, and that they might receive it without he himself ever having to lift a hand...

But he can see that Thor is in earnest. His older brother is concerned about both Sif and Fandral, but what’s more, he’s also looking for some sort of excuse to spend additional time with Loki, and (unsurprisingly) sparring is the only thing he can think of. Artless as the offer is considering his still-slightly-weakened physical state, the Trickster can’t find it in himself to reject it outright…and indeed, some small part of him actually does want to go, if only to follow Sif’s example and settle their accounts with him by trading (or more aptly, dealing) some blows.

“I will consider the idea,” Loki says carefully, making no promises…but this time Thor is listening. This time Thor sees through him, correctly reading the slight smile about his mouth and the relaxation of the muscles around his eyes as his subtle acceptance of the offer.

“Excellent,” Thor says, rewarding him with a broad grin. “We shall look forward to your return to us, Brother.”

“Indeed, will you?” Loki says half-distractedly as Thor, still beaming, turns to go. “Though where I am concerned, it may do you more credit to look behind rather than forward,” the younger prince adds far more quietly, a mere musing to himself. “And Thor?” he calls as his brother reaches the door, causing the blonde warrior to turn back to meet his gaze. “Perhaps…in return, you could consider my chambers here, if ever you require a place of quiet and peace, to think in silent company.”

A brief expression of surprise, followed by a lengthier one of affection and gratitude, crosses Thor’s face, and his smile holds warmth enough that Loki feels as if simply basking in it for a few moments might loosen the clutches of even the worst of his magical cold-flashes.

“Aye, Brother,” the Thunder-god rumbles, plainly well-pleased by how things stand between them at the moment. “Thank you. Perhaps I could.”

- ♦ ♈ ♦ -


{Chapter X}
(deleted comment)

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-06 02:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Haha, I know, right? And--stop the presses--he didn't even have to be exiled to do it. X'D
ext_13205: (Loki)

[identity profile] korilian.livejournal.com 2011-08-06 04:23 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't know. I think a little exile might still do him some good ;).

I was delighted to see an update and now I'm a little crushed that I'm done reading it :).
It's nice to see that Odin is starting to lose patience with Thor, even though the guy is taking baby steps in the right direction. Will we get Frigga's perspective on all this?

I also love Loki's menopausal troubles XD.

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-07 07:40 am (UTC)(link)
Heh, it might at that. But I really need him around for these final few chapters, so maybe later? |Da

Aww, that's super-nice to hear--thank you! Sorry it took me so long to get this one out. And even sorrier to say, next chapter will probably take a while as well, but I have notes and an outline and there are only three chapters left (unless something ridiculous happens and a plotbunny goes crazy while I'm writing), so it's gonna get done.

Hmm, this fic really does need more Frigga, you're right. And hey, wouldn't you know, there's a perfect spot for her to fit into in this next chapter. :Db

Good, because they're only going to get worse. >D
ext_13205: (Loki)

[identity profile] korilian.livejournal.com 2011-08-07 03:20 pm (UTC)(link)
What's the b undeneath :Db ?!? 0_o

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-07 04:48 pm (UTC)(link)
It's a thumbs-up! And the a beneath |D is scratching/tapping/rubbing your chin thoughtfully! lol I am waaaay too knowledgeable when it comes to emoticons even though I do try not to overuse them, it's all my friends' fault.
ext_13205: (Loki)

[identity profile] korilian.livejournal.com 2011-08-08 08:14 pm (UTC)(link)
This is me thoughtfully rubbing my upper lip ala Loki... :|D

[identity profile] kirbywarrior1.livejournal.com 2011-08-06 04:25 pm (UTC)(link)
I'M a Discworld fan! :D I have several of those books waiting in the wings as well! /shot

Finished Haruhi, though. The first half is clunky if you know the gimmick of the setup, but if not, it's probably a bit better. The second half was pretty solid.

SABRIEL, DRESDEN, OR DISCWORLD? OTZ Might ease in with Light Fantastic.... And I'd go with the Nix books, but I only have the first one and not sure the local library will grant me access after that Name of the Rose fiasco >>;;;

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-06 10:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I've actually not read all of them yet either, but I have read several, and am working on getting caught up. Did you say you'd read The Colour of Magic already? 'Cause that one's first.

Sabriel can stand on its own, just so's you know. :] Lirael and Abhorsen are essentially the 20ish-years-later sequels, and you HAVE to read those two together, but yes. Sabriel can be read alone.

I have some more Diana Wynne Jones I need to get around to reading, too...and some Dickens, too, but that's just me being my geeky English major self, heh. And I'm not certain I remember this fiasco. I might have to hear about this again when next we chat, lol.

[identity profile] fialleril.livejournal.com 2011-08-08 10:36 pm (UTC)(link)
Well I will quite happily take the blame for this! What a lovely thing to come back from vacation to. :D

Clearly all that time spent alone, all that reading, has turned his brother’s head.

LOL, I am suddenly picturing Gaston!Thor, and it is glorious. ("How can you read this, there's no pictures?!")

Oh god. And then I read a little further and he actually said that. Hats off to you, my dear, you are brilliant.

The scene in the library was excellently done: Thor's unthinking prejudice is just so spot on (and again, Odin is a douche of the first order, to raise a son with that kind of prejudice and then leave it entirely to Loki to explain himself and justify his existence to Thor, even when he's unsure of himself and has never met another Jotun in his life - but I digress). You strike a nice balance with Thor between his genuine caring and his undeniable self-centeredness. And Loki's mask - and its slip - is wonderfully like his breakdown in the movie, although in entirely different circumstances.

In your absence due to injury, she has all but declared herself your champion, and has sworn to face no others on the training grounds until she deems adequate compensation has been made for our inaccurate tellings of Andvari’s defeat.

Hearts exploding out of my eyes.

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 01:10 am (UTC)(link)
Welcome back, and glad you enjoyed it!

I was wondering if/when anyone would c wut I did thar catch that! XD And man, after writing this chapter, I want fanart of Gaston!Thor so badly, it's not even funny.

I really had fun writing the library scene--it's my favourite part of this chapter, easily. It makes me grin to hear such nice things about it, thank you. And YEAH, Odin...don't you just love how he's like OH NO DON'T WORRY YOUR BROTHER IS FINE EVEN IF HE HAS ISSUES THAT I CLEARLY KNOW ALL ABOUT AND YET HAVEN'T DONE A THING TO HELP HIM WITH. A+ there, Odin. WAY TO BE, DUDE.

...If you liked that little bit of semi-shippiness...well. I don't know if you saw this already, but I did finish that one-shot Loki/Sif (...Sif/Loki?) smutfic (http://wordsworn.livejournal.com/19307.html) I mentioned...

[identity profile] fialleril.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 01:23 am (UTC)(link)
Image

By kat-cardenas over on tumblr. ;) (It even has a bonus hipster!Loki for great justice.)

Oh Thor. Of course Loki probably needs to tell his brother first, but I can't help but wonder if he might actually get better reactions from Sif and/or the W3 at this point. Interesting.

Also, I wonder what Frigga thinks of all this? I am generally curious about her, since she seems like a much better parent than Odin on the whole, but then again she went along with the secret, too. (Sudden thought: Unless...she didn't actually know either. I mean, Odin could have said Loki was an Asgardian orphan. *mind boggles* I have only just thought of this and suddenly it is eating my brain?)

*is off to read Sif/Loki crossdressing fic*

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 01:48 am (UTC)(link)
...This is True Beauty. /icon forever and YES HIPSTER!LOKI FTW <333

Well, in the movie-canon, Frigga clearly knows, because when Loki asks "Why did he lie?" as they're sitting at Odin's bedside during his Convenient Odinsleep, she tells him that Odin was "protecting" him, never wanted him to feel different, they're his family, etc. And I think...if Odin didn't even tell FRIGGA, then she and the boys would have to band together and send Odin down to Midgard for some quality Now Sit Here And Think About What You've Done Time. ...Which is a truly hilarious idea, omigosh I love it and I sort of REALLY want to either read it or write it, bwahaha. X'D But in this fic, Frigga Does Not Really Approve, as the next chapter will...hopefully show at least somewhat.

[identity profile] fialleril.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 01:52 am (UTC)(link)
then she and the boys would have to band together and send Odin down to Midgard for some quality Now Sit Here And Think About What You've Done Time.

...

I would read the shit out of that fic. *puppy eyes you*

Well in that case I am looking forward to the next chapter even more than I was before!

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 02:20 am (UTC)(link)
Heh, nooo not the puppy eyes! Let me finish this fic first! X'D I need some time to mull the idea over anyway and let the plotbunnies breed a little, pfft.

[identity profile] fialleril.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 02:28 am (UTC)(link)
*puppy eyes to the max*

Seriously though, I get that. I learned a while ago that I have a horrible thing about WIPs, and have since decided I ain't posting anything until it's done. (Incentive! Or something.)

But, you know, when you finish this one and are looking for the next thing... ;)

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 02:37 am (UTC)(link)
... /CANNOT STAND TO LOOK, AUGH DX

asdfjkl;asjflsjd haha I already have notes and bits and pieces of another one-shot (and super-fun and very cute but also pretty cracktastic) BRO-FIC waiting that I can't let myself focus on just yet, as well as another chapterfic idea that I really like...but I've already added the "Odin's Day Off" idea to my Thor-fic WIP file, so if the plot bunnies breed as well as I think they will, it's totes gonna happen. Probably just a one-shot, but right now the idea is too new for me to know for certain.

bustin' out this icon for the lulz

[identity profile] fialleril.livejournal.com 2011-08-09 07:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Hee! Well, all of those things sound fabulous, so I won't complain too much. ;)

[identity profile] valiha.livejournal.com 2011-09-05 03:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh I love this so much! I'm a total n00b when it comes to Thor comics, so my only exposure was through the movie. I don't need to say I loved it, and I'm loving this as well. I hope that delay will not be too long!

[identity profile] androwjacksen.livejournal.com 2011-09-22 02:42 am (UTC)(link)
this fic really need more love I mean OMG. Its pretty much my favorite in the entire fandom ngl

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-09-29 03:52 am (UTC)(link)
...I think that is just about the nicest thing anyone could say, or has ever said to me RE: this fic. Thank you! I've really enjoyed writing it, and I'm glad and flattered and super-pleased that you like it so much! ♥
ext_13205: (Loki)

[identity profile] korilian.livejournal.com 2011-10-09 11:27 am (UTC)(link)
Just passing by for a re-read. It's still awesome and hopefully not abandoned...? *puppy eyes*

[identity profile] alory-shannon.livejournal.com 2011-10-09 03:19 pm (UTC)(link)
ASLKDFJSD that's so kind of you...I'm so happy you think it's worth re-reading. ♥ And NO NO, no, it's not abandoned at all--I love writing this story, and it's only got a few more chapters left to go, to abandon it now would be silly. It's just that between work, class, and Other Things, RL has been kicking my arse eating all my time for the past two months. Hopefully I'll soon find time to sit down and finish this thing. SUPER-sorry for being so slow about it. :C Thank you for both your patience and this poke/reminder! XD
ext_13205: (Loki)

[identity profile] korilian.livejournal.com 2011-10-09 03:47 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't mind the wait. I'm just really happy to hear there'll be more :)

[identity profile] halszka.livejournal.com 2011-10-23 06:16 pm (UTC)(link)
wonderful story! I hope that you find a time to write of it, and thank you!

[identity profile] towel-master.livejournal.com 2011-10-25 04:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh my God, this is such a good fic! You really know how to draw someone into the story. Everyone's still so in character, too! Lovely! I hope you find the time to finish this, because I'm loving it so far!

The Rest of the Story? Help!

[identity profile] zagethe.livejournal.com 2011-10-27 08:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh my Odin, where is the next chapter to this????.....

There was a comment about Frigga... if you watch the deleted scenes you will see that she did indeed know and gods you have to love her for what she said/did... my king.. gah.

[identity profile] ofdrumsthesound.livejournal.com 2011-11-08 01:11 pm (UTC)(link)
You really should continue this