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Tag: fanfic (Page 1 of 20)

All the fanfic I’ve written

Ours to Keep #12

Anthony’s yacht was quite a bit smaller than the one they used to take down to Florida, but being out on the water, laid out on a deck chair beneath the sun made Loki realise exactly how much he had missed this.  It was a bit colder out on the open water than it had been on the beach, but with his Panama hat and his sunglasses, Loki was content to lounge around on the deck of his neighbour’s yacht, pretending shorts and flip-flops hadn’t been a poor choice for the outing.  He watched as Anthony busied about, making sure everyone had a drink in their hand.  Loki worked on his second beer of the afternoon, listening to the conversation ebbing and flowing around him as simply enjoyed the experience of being back on the water. 

“Does your boat have a kitchen?” Hoder asked, frowning down at the soda he was given, while everyone else got beer.

“It’s called a galley,” Anthony said.  “And yes it does.  You hungry?”

Hoder looked around, silently mulling something over.

“Can I see it?” he asked.

Anthony waved one of the stewards over, and pointed him toward Hoder.

“Give him the tour, would you?” he said. 

He slapped Hoder on the shoulder as he was led away, and walked over to join the rest out on the deck.

“Sorry, I thought he’d be more interested in being on the water,” Loki said.

“How old is he again?” Anthony asked.

Loki didn’t know.  He shook his head and looked over at Tyr.

“Nineteen,” Tyr said.  “He would have been about eight or nine when the banks over there collapsed.  He probably doesn’t even remember what it was like before.”

Thor laughed lowly, gesturing to both of them with his beer.  “Do you remember that summer we went back home and Dad bought Mum a horse?  When was that?”

Loki didn’t, but the way Tyr laughed suggested there was some truth to what Thor was saying.

“That was the year I decided to stay,” Tyr said.  “You two must have been about ten.”

Loki shook his head, looking back and forth between Tyr and Thor. 

“I remember you staying, but not the horse.  Why’d he do that?” Loki asked.

“They got in a fight,” Thor said.  “He tried to make up for it by buying her a horse that wasn’t allowed to leave the country.”

Loki stared down at his beer, desperately trying to find this memory somewhere inside his bottle.  “I don’t remember this,” he said.  “What were they fighting over?”

Thor shrugged, and Tyr laughed again. 

“We spent two months in Reykjavík every two years.  I never understood a single word they ever said to one another,” Thor said.

Tyr shook his head, and for a moment he and Roger looked at one another.  And once again, Loki realised he was the last to know something.

“Mum caught him fucking the nanny,” Tyr said after a moment.

Suddenly, the story did seem familiar.  While Anthony cackled like a lunatic, and Thor choked on his beer, Loki grappled with a memory that sprung up from the darkness.

“Fuck, I do remember that,” he said, looking out over the water without really seeing anything.  “I always thought they dismissed her because we were old enough to not need constant supervision.”

“Yeah, the hellspawn twins and the human bulldozer did just fine without any adults nearby,” Tyr said, gesturing to Thor. 

While Anthony laughed on, trying to get himself under control, Loki tried to slot everything together in a new order that suddenly made too much sense.

“I told her months ago she needed a nanny for Laussa and she got so mad at me,” Loki said.  “I figured she thought I was insulting her parenting.”

Suddenly so many small things made sense, when for years he had accepted these oddities as just another way in which their family was slightly abnormal.  And he couldn’t help but wonder if things might have been different after his accident if Frigga hadn’t been so overwhelmed with so many other things.  Though by then, Loki figured they probably could not have afforded help to begin with.

“So,” Anthony said, still struggling to keep a straight face.  “Your poor mother raised ten of you—”

“Eleven,” Tyr said, cutting in.

“Eleven of you,” Anthony said, gesturing to the four of them, “without help because she didn’t trust your old man?”

“The girls and I were already out of the house, but yeah,” Tyr said.  He laughed, even though there really wasn’t anything funny about the situation at all.  “She refused to let another woman into the house after that.”

“Oh my fucking god.”  Loki snorted and shook his head, realising more than he ever wanted to.  “We only hired Anne after Laussa was born.  Mum was doing all the housekeeping on her own too.”

Anthony cackled again.  “Who needs TV with neighbours like these?”

Loki looked over to Thor, watching him struggle to accept what he’d been told.  Thor looked down at his beer, shaking his head at it, before returning his attention to Loki.

“You don’t believe this, do you?” he asked.

“Of course I believe it,” Loki said.  “Have you met our father?  He’s a pig.”

There was so much Loki hadn’t known just three days earlier, that he didn’t think there was a single revelation remaining that could startle him.

“You’re serious?” Thor asked, looking up at Tyr.  “Dad had an affair?”

Tyr shrugged and looked over to Anthony, who was struggling to calm himself down.

“More than one.  I thought you knew,” Tyr said.

Thor stood and walked down the deck away from the group, stopping to look out over the water.  Looking up at Tyr, Loki wanted to ask him how many accounts their father had set up for him by the time he was eighteen, but that was one can of worms Anthony didn’t need to be made party to.  Instead, he got up and followed Thor, standing beside him and leaning against the taffrail.

“I didn’t know either,” Loki said.  “This is all new to me too.”

Thor turned to him, deeply unimpressed, and Loki supposed that maybe his ignorance on a subject wasn’t the best benchmark.  Suddenly unsure about what he ought to do, Loki only stared at him, watching and waiting nervously for Thor to say something.  Anything.  Finally, Thor shook his head and looked back out over the water, endlessly drifting on toward the horizon.

“I remember nothing but fighting,” Thor said.  “For years, the fighting.  You missed the worst of it, but I was there.”

Loki snorted.  “I didn’t miss that much,” he said.  “Funny thing about spending all day in bed is that you don’t sleep very well at night.  There were some nights I heard them going at it upstairs and thought he hit her.”

Thor looked back at him, wearing a sad and confused expression that was becoming irritatingly familiar. 

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?” he asked.

“To what ends?” Loki said.  He gestured vaguely back to Roger and Tyr, still chatting with Anthony.  “They were long gone.  You were seventeen.  What would you have done?”

Instead of answering, Thor reached forward to tilt Loki’s face into the sun.  Loki let him, not knowing what else he could do that wouldn’t cause a scene.  He knew Sylvie had hit him hard enough to leave a mark, and was certain the sun was only making it stand out more.  After a moment, Thor let go of him and sighed.

“I should have paid more attention,” Thor said, turning again so he didn’t have to face Loki.  “To you.  To Mum.  To all of it.  I’m terrified of what I’m about to learn next.”

Loki shrugged.  He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say to that, so he took a drink of his beer and looked out at the water as well.

“I just wanted to get out of there like they all had,” Thor said.  “Go to school.  Get out in the world.  Visit every other Christmas like Hela does.”

“Then why the hell did you go to work for him?” Loki asked, resisting the urge to look over at him.  He didn’t want to see whatever sad expression Thor was wearing now.

Thor took a deep breath, and for a moment Loki thought he wasn’t going to get an answer.  “The same reason you didn’t finish.  Bastard talked me out of it.  ‘Medical school only puts you in debt.’  I’d make more money working for him.”

Loki watched the water, sun sparkling on its surface, reflecting back a million colours at once. 

“Huh,” he said, making sense of one more puzzle piece he hadn’t even realised. 

It wasn’t surprising that Odin had fed Thor the exact same line of bullshit, but hearing that it had happened twice put even more into perspective.  He dared glance back at Tyr and Roger, but neither of them were paying any attention.  Anthony was showing them a fishing reel, and the two of them were doing a stunning job at pretending to be interested.

“He didn’t want any more of us leaving,” Loki said.  “He’ll pull that same shit with Hermod, watch.”

“He’s threatened for years to kick you out.  I’ve always wondered why he never did,” Thor said. 

Loki snorted.  He leaned in close to Thor, making sure nobody else overheard him.

“You didn’t hear this from me, but Balder’s been talking about running off with his little girlfriend once they graduate,” he said.  “He wants to go get a job in the Parks Service.”

“Oh, Dad’ll love that,” Thor said.  “Two drop-outs, whatever the hell you are, one who isn’t even going to try.”

Some part of Loki knew he should have taken offense, but he didn’t even know what the hell he was.  He had a degree, but it was utterly useless in the real world.  He thought he’d had an idea about who and what he was, but but that was before he was forced to admit he was every bit of the clueless idiot everyone seemed to think he was.

“What about you?” Thor asked.  “You’re not moving in with Sylvie.”

Loki shook his head.  “No.  God, no.  I don’t know how she convinced me it was a good idea.”

Thor turned to face him properly, and held a hand on Loki’s shoulder.

“Don’t rush into this thing Mum wants you to do either,” he said.  “For the love of god, humour her, but don’t let it go any farther than that.”

With his hand on Loki’s shoulder, it almost seemed like Thor was being honest.  But Loki wasn’t sure who to trust, or if he could even trust himself.  So many lies and secrets—his own and everyone else’s—had come to light that nothing seemed real anymore.

“Do you know this woman?” he asked.

“No,” Thor said, shaking his head as he dropped his hand from Loki’s shoulder.  “Some daughter of a friend’s, no doubt.  Which means she’ll be just like the other ones.”

That much, Loki didn’t doubt for a moment.  She’d either be too young for him and constantly in some sort of trouble, or too old and mourning the loss of her youth.  Her words may have been cruel, but Sylvie was right once again.  Nobody Loki’s own age was looking for their parents to set them up.

“How much longer have you got?” Thor asked.

Loki looked down at his beer.  “Eight months,”  he said.  “Think I should lead with that?  If she’s any kind of reasonable, it might scare her off.”

“You got a year?  For a DWI?” Thor asked.  “Your first one?”

“No, I got a fine for the DWI,” Loki said.  He looked at his beer again and shrugged before finishing it off.  “The year’s for possession.”

A silence fell between them for a moment while Thor turned something over in his head.  “I didn’t hear about any possession.  How much did you have on you?”

Loki shrugged.  “I didn’t think I had anything, but…”

He saw the look on Thor’s face, so tired and run down, and realised what he was being led into.

“Don’t,” Loki said.  “I don’t want to do this.”

He couldn’t handle one more revelation out of nowhere, especially while he was out on the water on their neighbour’s yacht, at least an hour from home.

Thor nodded, but it was too late.  It was already in his head, and it wasn’t going to go away any time soon.  He took the no contest plea because Odin had said it would be easier than fighting.  With a deep breath, he looked back out over the water and wished he’d stayed home.  But he hadn’t stayed home, and he couldn’t get back without causing an even bigger scene, so he shook his head and pretended he hadn’t had one more thing to wonder and worry about.

“I suppose next someone’s going to ruin those summers in Florida,” he said.

Thor laughed mirthlessly.  “I could always throw you in the water and stand by while everyone else panics,” Thor said.

Somehow, Loki half expected Thor to do exactly that, and he couldn’t help the small step he took to put distance between them.

“I don’t know why you think that’s funny,” Loki said.  “I nearly drowned.”

“You’re fine,” Thor said.  “That was ten years ago.”

“And since then you think I’ve magically learned to swim?” Loki asked.

Thor actually had the audacity to look disappointed.  “Loki,” he said with a tired sigh.  “What the hell are we supposed to do with you?”

“You can start by not throwing me into the water,” Loki said.

Thor didn’t throw him into the water, though Loki suspected it was only because a steward had come to fetch them.  Hoder’s curiosity in the galley had indeed led to lunch, and they were all called to the upper deck to graze on sandwiches and some sort of spicy dip.  It was clear by the strained tone that everyone else had figured out that Thor and Loki had wandered off to have an awkward conversation about the day’s revelations, but nobody said anything about it.  Instead, they talked about fish and Tyr’s business back in Reykjavík, and Roger’s business in California.  The more they both talked about their big projects that kept them away from New York, the more Loki knew he and Thor had stumbled upon yet another buried truth.  Odin wanted them close because appearance was everything, and it didn’t look good when all of his children kept running away as far as they could.

By the time they finished with lunch, the weather had begun to turn.  Rather than taking a chance that it might improve, Anthony directed the captain to return to port.  As the sea began to get a bit rough, most of the group went into the cabin to get out of the spray and the rain that began to fall.  Except Hoder.  Tyr quickly led him to the lower deck, and held onto him as he leaned over the side.

Loki watched through a porthole as he settled down next to Thor on a long sofa.

“Well, that was inevitable,” he said.

“Loki, be nice,” Thor said.  “You invited him.  You should be out there with him.”

“I didn’t invite him,” Loki said.  “I asked if he wanted to come along.  How was I supposed to know he’d never been on a boat before?”

Anthony laughed, and the tension slowly eased from the cabin as they sped back home.  By the time they reached the marina, rain and begun to fall in heavy sheets, and Loki had finished off two more beers.  Anthony apologised for the weather, and with Hoder still on unsteady feet, they said their goodbyes and returned to Thor’s truck.  As Loki reached for the passenger door, Tyr redirected him to the back.

“Let him sit in front,” Tyr said, guiding Hoder to what should have been Loki’s seat.

“You suck,” Loki said.

He got into the back, finding Roger already settled against the opposite door.  Loki paused, realising the situation as Tyr started to get in behind him.

“I don’t want to be in the middle,” he said.

“Are you twelve?” Tyr asked.  “Sit the fuck down.”

He slapped Loki across the back of his head, and gave him a hard shove against Roger.  With no other choice, Loki sat down between them, squished in the middle like he didn’t matter.

“I will punch you in the back of the head if you get pulled over,” Loki said as he tried to find a seat belt that didn’t seem to exist.

“Don’t worry, if I get pulled over, I at least having a driver’s license,” Thor said.

The seatbelt failed to materialise, so Loki sat back and tried to pretend he didn’t care that he’d be the one on the hook again if Thor did get pulled over.  Once everyone got settled in, Thor began to take them home.  Every single bump and corner along the way drew another uneasy sound from Hoder, and despite the rain, Thor rolled the passenger window down.

“I’d rather go to a car wash than have to get the seats done,” he said.

Nodding, Hoder leaned out the window, ready to puke all over Thor’s pristine white paint.  Thankfully, he did nothing of the sort, and they made their way back to the island without any other calamities befalling them.  Right up until Thor opened the gate and tried to pull into the driveway, finding his spot taken by a familiar red sports car.

“Angela you bitch,” Thor muttered.

Loki knew he probably should have taken some of the blame, since the driveway was still a mess after everyone had hastily re-arranged their cars to let him out the day before.  But he said nothing as Thor tried to find a space for his pointlessly large truck.  Once Thor finally parked, everyone piled out and ran across the lawn to the front door, eager to get inside and dry.  Loki nearly slipped twice on the grass, his leather flip-flops designed for lounging rather than sport.  Cringing at what he knew would be a problem for future him, Loki shook his head and rushed inside with the rest of them before the rain could soak him all the way through.  As soon as he was through the door, Loki kicked off his shoes so he didn’t fall on his ass because of them, and walked barefoot to the stairs.

“Where are you going?” Thor asked.

Loki didn’t even turn to him as he climbed the stairs.  “If I’m going to be stuck inside all day, I refuse to do it sober,” he said.

He could hear Thor snorting behind him, while Tyr got Hoder camped out in the sitting room.  As Loki reached the landing above, he was met by Angela, no doubt eager to get away from the chaos upstairs.  For a moment, they stared at one another, while Loki stood in her way and tried to figure out how ornery he was feeling.

“Thor called you a bitch,” he said suddenly.

He watched as Angela’s face screwed up with confusion and offense.  “What?  Why?” she asked.

Loki shrugged.  “You parked in his spot.”

She shoved past him and rushed down the stairs, already shouting at Thor.  Laughing to himself and his supremely lame prank, Loki headed toward the fridge to find something that could keep him a bit drunk, and maybe help get him even more drunk.  The beer had been utterly and completely picked over, so Loki moved instead to the liquor cabinet to mix himself a drink, pouring too much rum and not enough Coke into a glass.

“I’m sure you’ve already had quite enough,” Frigga said, suddenly behind him.

Loki turned, offering her his most innocent of smiles, knowing she wouldn’t believe it for a moment.  But before she could say anything, she became distracted by something else, concern washing over her face.  She stepped a little closer to Loki, tilting his face into the light above, and then taking off his hat and setting it aside. 

“You got a little burnt out there,” Frigga said.

Loki knew he hadn’t.  They hadn’t been out in the sun long enough, and now he prayed Frigga didn’t look closely enough to see the outline of a hand print across his jaw.  He didn’t think Sylvie had struck him quite that hard, but she had obviously got him good enough that Frigga noticed it.

“Go sit down,” Frigga said, waving him off.  “We’ll get this taken care of.”

Not wanting to argue, Loki picked up his hat from the bar and put it back on, not caring that he was inside, still wearing sunglasses, and looking like a damned fool.  He found a spot on one of the sofas, drinking his rum while he waited for Frigga to come back out from her bathroom.  She joined him a few moments later, again taking his hat off and setting it aside, and then taking his sunglasses and putting them inside his hat.  Loki sat quietly, letting her do as she pleased in the hopes it might keep her from inspecting his face more closely.  As Frigga moved him around this way and that, Loki caught Sylvie’s eye from the other sofa.  He said nothing, letting Frigga fuss over him and smear something cold and sticky all over his face.

“Grown man still needs his mother to wash his face for him,” some low voice said from across the room.

Loki responded only by holding up his middle finger, much to the mixed delight and scandal of those around him.

“Loki,” Frigga scolded.  “Stop it.”

Loki put his hand down, only because his point had already been made.

“He started it,” he said.

“Be the bigger man and ignore it,” Frigga said.

Loki shrugged, breaking away long enough to take another drink of his rum.

“I gather Thor’s told you by now?” Frigga asked.

She finished putting her sticky potion all over his face and sat back.  Loki looked at her, and then to Sylvie.  He could see Sylvie’s anger; practically feel it radiating off of her, even if nobody else noticed.

“He did,” Loki said, putting his hat back on and settling back into his seat. 

For a moment, he considered putting his sunglasses back on as well, but settled for hooking them into his shirt collar instead.

“You haven’t got out much since Zelma, and I know these things are difficult for you,” Frigga said.

Loki tried not to look at Sylvie, though he could still see her barely concealing a glower in his direction.

“No, I’m looking forward to it,” Loki said, not looking forward to it at all.  “He said next week?”

“Nothing’s been set in stone,” Frigga said.  She smiled weakly, and let herself settle back in her seat as well.  “But I’m glad you’ve at least decided to humour me.”

Sylvie snorted, her arms crossed over her chest.  Loki dared to look over at her, watching as she shook her head.

“I can’t believe you still waste your time on him like that,” she said, staring right at Loki as she spoke.  “It never works, because women would rather be with a man who doesn’t need his mother’s help to set him up.”

Frigga turned to face her as well, all the softness gone from her features.

“Sylvie,” she said angrily.  “That was a very cruel thing to say.  Even for you.”

Loki drank his rum and pretended he hadn’t heard that same insult only hours before.  Instead, he looked around the room, and at a mix of distant relatives both watching intently, and pretending with all their might that they hadn’t heard.

Sylvie gestured to the crowd on the other side of the room, bringing them in whether they wanted to be part of it or not. 

“They’ve been saying it all weekend, because it’s true,” she said.  “You guys wouldn’t have let anyone else mooch off you this long.  But Loki gets away with it because he’s poor little Loki, and we wouldn’t want to let him accidentally hurt himself again, would we?”

“I don’t know what’s got into you today,” Frigga said.  “You could have got all the help you wanted if you’d just asked.”

“Oh, is that what this is?” Sylvie asked.  “Help?  I thought they called it enabling.”

“Your brother is disabled, and you know this,” Frigga said.

Loki looked over at her, feeling vaguely offended for a reason he couldn’t even identify.

“I’m not disabled,” he said.

“I didn’t know laziness was a disability,” Sylvie said over him, drowning out his words.

By now, their captive audience was laughing openly, and it was the last thing Loki wanted to hear.

“I have a job,” Loki said, staring straight at Sylvie.  “What do you do for a living?  Lure men into your apartment and rob them while they sleep?”

“Oh, that is quite enough!” Frigga shouted, turning her outrage to Loki.

“You’re right.  It is,” Sylvie said, getting up. 

She got up and walked out to the deck to go stand in the rain like a martyr.  Loki knew he was expected to follow her to make up, but he stayed right where he was, pretending the entire room wasn’t staring at him.  Behind him, Thor startled him by suddenly clearing his throat awkwardly, announcing his witness to the entire ordeal that had just taken place.

“I never did hear the details about your deal yesterday,” Thor said.  “How did that go?”

Loki shook his head, struggling to catch up.  He realised that he hadn’t even discussed it with Odin yet, and now that they were both in the same room, he realised he might as well at least get a start on it.

“The paperwork should have got here today,” Loki said, looking at his father.

Odin nodded slowly.  “A little parcel in Brooklyn,” he said.  “We should have the deed within the month.”

“How’s that work?” one of Loki’s nameless uncles asked.  “He just goes all over the state and spends your money, and you’re left to deal with the rest?”

“He spends my money on what I allow him to spend it on,” Odin said.  “He can decide to buy up whatever he likes.  But my signature needs to be on the cheque.”

“I wouldn’t trust him with that kind of power,” another uncle said.  “Who knows what he could cock up for you before you caught it.”

The first uncle laughed.  “If you’re gonna give that job to one of these brats, at least give it to one of your own.  They might respect it more.”

Loki had already known exactly how his father’s side of the family felt about him, but his capacity to ignore it was diminishing by the second.

“Wow,” he said, standing up and trying not to spill his drink on himself.  “I really do not have to put up with this.  Fuck all of you.”

Somehow, his remark garnered more scandal and outrage than anything said about him, but he ignored it all as he walked toward the stairs.  He made it to his room and collapsed into his chair, just listening to the sound of the rain on the deck outside.  He hated that Sylvie was right; that he was sad and pathetic enough to need his mother to set him up with a girlfriend he didn’t even want.  He hated that there wasn’t a single person in his entire extended family who saw him as anything more than a drain, and that nobody who ought to have stood up for him did.

He hated that he was even starting to believe it himself.

Loki barely had time to stew on any of it before a quiet knock sounded from his door.  For a moment, Loki thought about ignoring it, but if the person on the other side were polite enough to knock, they probably didn’t hate him completely.

“What?” he asked.

Rather than an answer, his door cracked open and Angela peered in.

“Do you want some company?” she asked.

Loki wanted to tell her to leave.  He wanted to tell her to mind her own fucking business.  Instead, he waved vaguely and watched as she let herself in, closing the door quietly behind her.

“I think everyone’s a little disappointed that your brush with the law last night didn’t end in a public show,” Angela said as she sat down on Loki’s bed.

“What a goddamn shame,” Loki said.

“God, I can’t believe she did that,” Angela said.  “Did she really tell the cop you’re on probation?”

Loki snorted, realising he was still beyond pissed off about it.

“Yes,” he said bitterly.  “First words out of her mouth.”

“God, what a little bitch,” Angela said.

They were quiet for a moment, both of them looking over at the dim light that filtered through the blackout curtains hung over the door.

“But you are fine, right?” Angela asked finally.  “That’s not going to bite you on the ass later?”

Loki shook his head.  “No, I don’t think so,” he said.  He finished off his rum and put the empty glass down on the table beside him.  “Pretty sure the cop saw right through it and let us go to avoid the paperwork.”

He realised he was sick of sitting in the dark, and pulled his phone from his pocket.  Not liking any of his pre-sets, Loki cycled through all of them, changing his lights this colour and that before giving up and making a new one, bathing the room in green and blue just bright enough to see by.  Angela watched him from his bed, laughing quietly as he fiddled and finally got it set up in a way that didn’t offend him for no reason.

“I would have loved something like that when I was your age,” she said.

“Quit being old,” Loki said.

He looked down at his phone, and remembered something else he’d been told.  Something that he was fairly certain wasn’t part of any deal, and which he didn’t need to put up with.  He swiped through all of his apps, finally finding the one that let Odin keep track of where he was, and presumably what he was doing.  He couldn’t delete the app, because it was apparently built into the phone somehow, but after enough fiddling he was able to tell it to stop sharing his location.

With that taken care of, Loki sighed and dropped his phone into his lap.  The phone which suddenly didn’t even feel like his own.

“How long are you sticking around tomorrow?” he asked.

Angela shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I half expect this thing to get delayed again so I took the rest of the week off.”

Loki nodded.  “After it happens, if it even does, will you go into town with me?  Help me figure some shit out?”

She nodded, slowly at first, and then she seemed to understand what Loki was really asking; what he wasn’t saying. 

“Yeah, I can do that,” she said.  “We might need to take Mummy if you want to keep your number though.”

Loki groaned, trying not to sink all the way into his chair out of frustration.  He did want to keep his number.  He needed to keep his number.  He did not want to take his mother with him while trying to do something for himself.

“Why does everything have to be so goddamn difficult?” he asked.

“Oh this?” Angela said.  “This is nothing.  Whatever you do, keep your accountant or you’ll regret it next April.”

Loki looked over at her, suddenly very concerned.

“Why, what happens in April?” he asked.

The way Angela buried her face in her hands and groaned quietly was not a good sign.

“What the fuck happens in April?” Loki asked.

She texted him just as he was getting ready for bed.  Loki nearly ignored it, but as he picked up his phone and read the message, a surge of anticipation jolted through him, starting in his chest and ending in his dick.  Sylvie wanted him to meet her on the beach, but the weather was turning cold and he could still barely walk on his own even on solid ground.  Loose sand wasn’t even something he wanted to deal with yet.  Despite his dick already being half hard, Loki considered pretending that he didn’t see the message and going to bed.

And then Sylvie sent another.  A picture this time, legs spread and holding herself open with her fingers.  Any resolve Loki had crumbled away.  He sat on his bed and stared at the picture, his legs pressed tightly together as he resisted every urge to touch himself.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, Loki heard her sneak out of her room and along the deck toward the beach.  He waited just a few moments before getting up and carefully sliding his door open so he wouldn’t be heard sneaking out as well.  He still felt a bit uneasy and uneven on his feet, even on solid ground, and as he reached the boardwalk where Sylvie had slipped off behind the hedges, Loki stopped again.  He looked down at the drop below him, only a few feet and terrifying all the same. 

“What’s wrong?” Sylvie hissed in the darkness.

“I can’t get down,” Loki said.

“You’re not gonna hurt yourself,” Sylvie said.  “Hurry up.”

Loki bit his lip, trying to balance caution with desire.  Looking over at Sylvie, sitting on a blanket she’d laid out across the sand, he could see her impatience even in the darkness.  With a deep breath, he tried to lower himself down, struggling to even remember how he’d got down off the path before.  He finally managed by sitting down on his ass and sliding beneath the rail to the soft sand below.  With both hands held out at his sides for something that wasn’t there, he carefully made his way, step by step, over to Sylvie.

“Hurry up,” Sylvie said.

“Shut up,” Loki said, struggling to find sure footing on ground that shifted beneath him.  “This is my first time down here again.  Leave me alone.”

It occurred to him, belatedly, that he should have grabbed one of his crutches just to have something to balance himself with.  But it was too late, and all he could do was trudge forward.  Finally, he made it over to the blanket and got himself settled beside Sylvie, surprised he had managed without falling on his face.  He looked up at Sylvie, not sure what he expected from her, but was disappointed to get nothing all the same.  She looked at him, shaking her head slowly, and leaned back onto her elbows.  Loki looked at her, hard again, but not daring to do anything she might not want.

“Sylvie?” he asked finally.

She looked up at him, her loose t-shirt hanging low over her shoulder and showing no bra beneath. 

“I’m waiting on you,” she said, letting her knees fall open.

Loki looked down at her, to her legs, clearly inviting him.  And now that he knew what she wanted him to do, he wondered why this was what she had chosen.

“Sylvie,” he said again, tempted to go jerk off in his room and forget the whole thing.  “You know I can’t do that.”

“Can’t, or won’t?” Sylvie asked.

“It’ll fuck up my back.  I don’t want to do that,” Loki said.

Sylvie sighed and reached for him, tangling her fingers in his hair that fell down over his ears and onto his shoulders.  He hadn’t got it cut since before summer, and now it was almost as long as hers, dark while she kept hers bleached to an unnatural blonde.  She pulled him close and kissed him, sitting up enough to get closer to him as he dared to lean over her.  The angle was awkward, and Loki wanted to feel her beneath him, so he moved over her, settling between her legs and holding himself up with one elbow.  With his other, he explored her body beneath her shirt, finding her breasts and squeezing them.  She rolled her hips against him, pressing her cunt against his dick hard in his pyjamas, and the last ounce of his resolve finally crumbled.  Loki responded, rutting against her through their layers of clothing as she wrapped her hands behind his neck.

He liked being on top; having more control over her body and how he used it.  He moaned into her mouth as he humped her, wanting to do so much more than that, and not daring.  In a way, he liked this better.  It was safer, and they weren’t doing anything wrong this way.  Sylvie moved beneath him, encouraging him to move faster even though he didn’t dare.

Then, Sylvie’s hand was between them, fighting against his pyjamas and managing to get beneath them.  Loki gasped at her hand on his cock, stroking and playing with him lazily, before settling him against her right where she wanted.  Loki tried to fuck her hand, but then she was moving beneath him again, and a moment later pushing him off.  Confused, Loki looked down at her, taking too long of a moment to realise she was pulling her own pants off.

“Shit,” she hissed, stopping halfway.

She felt around on the blanket beside her, looking this way and that, while Loki only sat by confused.

“Fuck, I left it inside,” she said.

Sylvie looked up at him, half naked and exposed in the cool breeze, and Loki realised what she was looking for.

“Do we need it?” he asked, knowing he shouldn’t have even been entertaining the thought.  “I thought that’s what the other thing was for.”

She searched her pockets again, and then once more felt around the blanket.

“Fine.  Just don’t cum inside me,” she said, settling back down.

Loki nodded and pulled himself free of his pyjamas before getting back on top of Sylvie and kissing her again.  While part of him knew this was wrong and didn’t want any of it, he let the part of him that did want it take control.  He had to use his hand to guide himself in, keeping his weight on his knees as much as possible so his back wasn’t doing all the work.  It took him a moment to get settled, fully buried within her, before he was able to kiss her again.

Being inside her again, with nothing between them, made Loki dizzy and almost unable to breathe.  He had forgotten this; how perfect they were for one another.  How well he fit inside her as though they were made for one another.  He had more hair for Sylvie to tug on, and when she did, it went straight through him, drawing a loud moan as he slowly, carefully fucked her.

He didn’t want to move too fast.  He didn’t want to hurt himself all over again, but he also wanted to savour this.  Loki kept himself buried as he rocked into her, feeling himself moving within her as she tried again to encourage more from her.  Even then, something in his back pulled, warning him not to get too carried away.

“You’re too slow,” Sylvie said against his lips.

Loki resisted her pleas.  “I told you, I don’t want to hurt myself,” he said.

She wrapped her legs around him, leveraging herself against him as he kept fucking her into the sand.  She arched and rocked beneath him, using her legs to try to guide his pace.  Loki moved a bit faster within her, testing his limits as he tried to give her what she wanted, and slowing again when something in his back popped with a hollow sound he could hear in his head, rather than with his ears.  She liked it when he was on top, just like he did, but he was so uncertain about it now.

“I don’t like it this slow,” Sylvie said, again pushing him off.

Loki sat up on his knees, hurt and confused as he watched her try to sort this out.  As she moved to sit up, she found the errant condom beneath her and picked it up.  For a moment, Sylvie looked at it in her fingers before handing it over to Loki.

“Put it on,” she said.

Loki took it, but didn’t open it.  “I don’t like them,” he said.

“Well, neither of us is getting what we want tonight.  Put it on,” Sylvie said.

She watched him with a deep frown as Loki unwrapped the horrid thing and slipped it on, rolling it down over his shaft so he wouldn’t feel a thing that happened next.  Sometimes, he thought he could slam his dick in a car door, and he wouldn’t feel it.

Finally satisfied, Sylvie rolled onto her knees and elbows, presenting her bare ass to him.  She didn’t need to tell Loki what to do then.  The intent was obvious.  Loki moved behind her, sinking his dick into her waiting cunt, hating that it didn’t feel the same.  He had to fuck her harder just to feel anything, but like this he didn’t have to worry about his back as much.  He held onto her hips and let himself go, fucking her so hard she whimpered and yelped beneath him.  This was what she had wanted from him, and he bit his lip to muffle his own sounds as he picked up his pace.  The cold breeze off the ocean stung his bare ass and made his balls feel tight, and as Sylvie continued to make startled noises each time he drove his dick into her, he became acutely aware that anyone could see them who might happen to be out on the beach that night.  Their beach may have been a private one, but they had neighbours on either side, and some of them liked to walk their dogs late at night.  Somehow, that sent another thrill through him, and he wrapped his arms around her hips and held her tight as he tried to make her scream beneath him.

She didn’t scream.  She gasped and cried out, sharp and stuttered, but she didn’t scream.  And when he came, able to feel himself filling the condom around him, he tried to keep his pace.  Sylvie obviously noticed he’d spent, and quickly turned around, pushing him down onto his back.  While he was still hard, she got on top of him and rode out the rest of him, rocking and bucking against him as she dragged her cunt over his dick.  He watched her cum on top of him, mouth open and eyes closed as she arched into it, her entire body going stiff and still.  A moment later, she let herself fall onto the blanket beside him, panting heavily.

“How’s your back?” she asked.

Loki thought about it, but he too was too dizzy and out of breath to be able to tell.

“I don’t know.  I’ll probably know in the morning,” he said.

He looked down at his dick, still wrapped up in his own fluids as it grew soft, and frowned.

“What’s the point of the other thing if I still have to wear these?” he asked, peeling the condom off.

“Because the IUD doesn’t always work, and you’re dogshit at pulling out,” Sylvie said.

Loki looked up at the sky, clear and cold above them.  He thought about that afternoon in the back seat of his car, when he came inside her and was too afraid to say anything.  Not that it had mattered in the end, because she’d already been pregnant by then anyway.

“They have pills,” Loki said.  He pulled up his pants, even as Sylvie lay half naked beside him.  “What if you took that too?”

Sylvie smacked him on the chest.  “You need a prescription for that,” she said.  “And then Mummy and Daddy would know.”

“Oh,” Loki said.

He looked down at the condom next to him on the blanket, wondering if he should throw it into the sea to get rid of it.  But then he figured it would only wash back up, and somehow their parents would see it and know it was theirs.

“What if I promised?” Loki asked.  “I was reading online some things you can do to go longer.  I could do that, and then we wouldn’t have to worry as much.”

Finally, Sylvie reached for her pyjamas and pulled them back on.  “What things?” she asked.

Loki shrugged.  “Things,” he said.

“Okay, you’re lying then,” Sylvie said.  “And you’re bad at it.”

Again Loki shrugged.  “Jerk off,” he said finally.  “I read on the internet that if you do that first, it takes longer to cum next time.”

Sylvie threw her head back to look at the sky.  “That is such bullshit,” she said.  “Just learn some self control.”

Loki frowned at her, having no idea at all how he was meant to control that when she wouldn’t let him take his time.  But before he could say anything, the glow of a light behind the hedges suddenly flipped on, followed by the sound of a door opening.

“Shit,” Sylvie hissed.

Loki moved quickly to hide the spent condom beneath the blanket, listening to the sound of footsteps along the deck.  A moment later, Frigga walked out along the boardwalk, stopping as she spotted Loki and Sylvie on the sand below.

“What on Earth are you doing out here?” she asked.

Loki stared at her, even as a shadow looking worn down and exhausted.  It was all he could focus on, while Sylvie was left to deal with the real trouble.

“We were just hanging out,” she said.  “We didn’t want to keep Thor and Balder awake.”

Frigga stared at them for a long moment before finally shaking her head.

“Get inside, now,” she said.

Loki waited for Sylvie to get up before he followed, picking up the blanket and using it to conceal the condom.  He bunched everything together, hoping all that fell out was sand as he walked uneasily back to the boardwalk.  Frigga said nothing as Sylvie climbed back on, taking the blanket back once she was up.  Then, it was Loki’s turn to climb up, and he couldn’t for the life of him figure out how.

“What now?” Frigga asked tiredly.

“I don’t think I can get back up,” he said, feeling exceptionally stupid.

“Well, you got down, didn’t you?” Frigga said.

Sylvie laughed, drawing Frigga’s attention. 

“Get inside,” Frigga said sharply.  “Now.”

Sylvie turned, leaving Loki alone to their mother’s wrath.  With a deep breath, he tried to find a way to pull himself up that wouldn’t pull on his back, but everything he tried protested before he even got started.  Loki looked up at Frigga, half expecting to get shouted at.

“I’m going to walk around,” he said.

“Do that,” Frigga said, glaring down at him.

With an awkward nod, Loki turned to walk along the hedges to the other side of the property where there was only an empty gap that led from the driveway to the sand.  Once on solid ground again, he felt a little more comfortable in his ability to walk at all, but all of that comfort drained when he looked up and saw Frigga waiting to meet him by the deck’s stairs.  With nothing else to do, Loki trudged forward to meet her, flinching away as she swatted at him.

“What the hell are you thinking?” she asked. 

“It’s the back yard,” Loki said.

“I don’t care if it’s the back deck.  You don’t leave the house after dark,” Frigga said.  “I didn’t raise you to be a common criminal.  Don’t start now.”

Loki looked at her, surprised somehow that he no longer had to look up at her.  And for a moment, he wondered when that had changed.

“We weren’t doing anything,” he said.

“You are out of the house after dark,” Frigga said.  “I am too tired to deal with you right now.  Go to bed, and pray your father wakes up in a good mood tomorrow.”

She dragged him back to his room by his arm, closing and locking the outer door behind them.  With nothing else to do, Loki sat down on his bed, watching his mother stride angrily across the floor.

“Go to bed, Loki,” Frigga said, flipping off the light and closing his door as she left.

Loki didn’t go to bed.  He sat up and listened as she went to Sylvie’s room to deliver the same threat of their father’s punishment to come.  He could hear Sylvie arguing through the wall, though he couldn’t understand what she said.  Her arguing made Frigga raise her voice in turn, and soon they were both shouting; Sylvie about nearly being an adult, and how she ought to have been allowed to go outside without supervision.  Frigga about how she needed to get herself under control before she embarrassed herself.  And that was when he heard the unmistakable sound of Odin stomping around upstairs, fading until he reached the stairs and started making his way back to them. 

Loki got beneath his blankets, just in time for Odin to start shouting.

“What the hell is going on?”  His words echoed over the walls, and Loki could hear  his brothers in the rooms nearby waking and moving around.

Soon, they were all shouting over one another, and Loki was glad their neighbours weren’t close enough to hear any of it.  He stayed in bed, staring at his door while the shouting raged on, waiting for the inevitable.  Finally, his door flew open, bouncing against the wall as Odin stepped in and flipped the light back on.

“And you,” Odin said, pointing straight at Loki.

“I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again,” Loki said, staring up at his father.

For a long moment, they stared at one another.  Loki watched as his father, red-faced and scowling, tried to find something to continue shouting about.  He wasn’t wearing his eye patch, and although Odin had been missing an eye since Loki could remember, seeing him without his eye patch was always unsettling on a visceral level.  Odin’s vanity rarely allowed him to be seen without it, and he always seemed wrong and alien in those brief moments.

“I’ll deal with you in the morning,” Odin said.

He flipped the light off again, plunging Loki into darkness as he slammed the door shut.  Loki stayed still, staring at the door and waiting for Odin to decide he wasn’t done at all.  But slowly, Odin and Frigga argued their way all the way back up the stairs and to their room above Thor’s.  But they weren’t so far away that he couldn’t still hear them up there, arguing endlessly even as Vidar started to cry.  Loki tried to drown it all out and calm down enough to go to sleep, but it was clear they were only getting started.  He was fairly certain they wouldn’t sleep at all that night, which meant he wouldn’t sleep at all that night.

« ||

Ours to Keep #11

Loki woke to an empty room, which was more than fine.  It meant Thor had decided to go be somewhere else, instead of constantly hovering over Loki as though he needed to be babysat. 

His phone wasn’t on the night stand, plugged in and waiting for him with a full charge like it ought to have been.  He had petulantly thrown it into the abyss that was his blankets the night before, and never retrieved it.  He managed to sit up enough to paw through the blankets, lifting bits up and shaking out what he could until something fell to the floor with a heavy thump.  Grumbling quietly, Loki got out of bed just enough to pick up his phone from the floor and plugged it in.  He sat on the edge of his bed and scrolled through the missed messages and calls that populated his screen.  Most of it was garbage he didn’t care about, but when he found a direct response to the barely-coherent text he’d sent in the middle of the night, he stopped to open it.  The response was terse and to the point, but it was enough to give him a small glimmer of hope that the day would not be a completely awful repeat of the day before.  Using that to bolster himself, he rose to his feet and stretched his back, trying to get it to pop and loosen the knot he woke up with every morning.  It didn’t work, but it wasn’t worth going through extra effort over, so he let himself be stiff and uncomfortable as he fetched his dressing gown from where Thor had helpfully left it draped over the recliner.

But as he opened his bedroom door, Loki’s hope that the day wouldn’t be awful dried up.  Even from his room, he could hear the overlapping shouting of at least three separate arguments upstairs.  Loki resisted the urge to turn right back around and go to bed, and trudged forward, far too tired still to deal with any of it.  As he reached the stairs and looked up at the open landing above, he could hear Odin and Sylvie amongst the carnage, Odin shouting and Sylvie occasionally cutting in.  Taking a deep breath to steel himself, Loki slowly began to climb the stairs toward his inevitable doom.  But as he got close enough to be able to pick out a single thread of shouted conversation over the rest, he was at least relieved to hear that Sylvie and Odin were not shouting about what Thor had uncovered.  While Sylvie stood beside the bar, Odin loomed over her and shouted about appearances and responsibilities and carelessness, sparing only a glance to Loki as he carried on.  This was Sylvie’s problem, and Sylvie’s alone.

At least for the moment.  He knew she’d be looking for a way to throw someone else under the bus, but until she had that leverage, Loki knew he was out of the firing range for that much longer.  Loki watched Sylvie, catching her eye for a moment while she waited impatiently for Odin to finish.

“He let me go with a warning.  It’s fine,” she said during the first gap she got.

Usually when Loki found himself wondering if Odin’s face might burst if it got any redder, he was the one being shouted and screamed at in two different languages.  Seeing it from the outside was quickly becoming a novel experience as more and more of his siblings fled the nest.

“Fine?” Odin shouted.  “You think this is fine?”

“Yeah, nothing happened,” Sylvie said.  “That sounds pretty fine to me.”

Loki assumed that with Sylvie being the centre of Odin’s attention, he could slip by unnoticed.  He made it about two steps past the landing before realising he had assumed wrong.

“Oh, the other one finally crawled out of bed.”

Loki didn’t catch who had said it, but he stopped to glare toward the general direction the voice had come from.  He locked eyes with Njord, silently daring him to say anything.  After a moment, Njord shook his head and turned to the woman next to him.

“Makes you wonder what the parents were like, doesn’t it?” he asked, pointing at Sylvie.

Loki stared at him a moment longer.  “I can still understand you,” he said.  “That hasn’t changed.”

He couldn’t tell whether Njord had forgotten this fact, or simply didn’t care, but the woman next to him suddenly turned away and got up to go somewhere else.  Shaking his head, Loki let everyone else shout and insult one another and made his way into the kitchen to find some breakfast.  What he found was barely enough cold coffee left for a full cup.  He poured it into a mug, and put the mug in the microwave to make it not completely disgusting.

“The polite thing to do is make another pot in case someone else wants any,” Njord shouted over the rest, apparently giving up on trying to hide his pettiness.

Loki didn’t even look up at him.  Instead, he held up his middle finger as he opened the fridge in the hopes of finding anything left behind for him.

“Loki!” Frigga shouted.

“What?” Loki asked, turning to her.  “Would you rather I told him to go fuck himself in front of the kids?”

Those who were paying attention reacted with a mix of scandal and amusement, sneering and laughing all at once.  Loki ignored all of them and resumed his search through the fridge for anything that didn’t resemble questionable leftovers.

“I don’t know what’s got into everyone today,” Frigga said.

The microwave beeped, and Loki gave up on the hopes of breakfast.  Instead, he fetched his coffee, trying to avoid spilling any on himself as he pulled it from the microwave.

“I have a few ideas,” he said as he turned to flee.

He knew he ought to have stayed upstairs to go over the deal with Odin, but with Odin now trying to shout at the entire upstairs population, Loki wanted nothing to do with him.  He retreated back down to his room, and out to the deck to enjoy whatever passed as silence with so many people hanging around.  The doors upstairs were open, letting the arguing and fighting out into the air where anyone could hear it, but Loki had a plan for that.  Leaving his coffee on the table, he returned to his room to gather his laptop and his bag.  With Thor’s things scattered about, Loki found it strangely difficult to remember where anything was, and made several trips outside after forgetting his phone or his lighter.  He returned inside once more to fetch the laptop he’d gone in for in the first place, and lingered inside just long enough to make sure his earbuds where in his bag, and took it all out to the table.  Loki plugged in his laptop, running the cord to the outlet beside the door, and as it booted up he got his earbuds paired and found something to listen to that would drown out the noise from upstairs.

With that settled, he returned to his room one more time, grabbing the left over water from the night before.  He picked up his pills next to it, and as he fished one of the tablets out, he immediately realised it was the wrong one.  The Naproxen was in his jeans from the day before, so he had to dig through his laundry to find it, shaking everything out onto the floor until a bottle of pills rattled out and tried to roll away.  Even though there was only one thing it could be, he still checked the label before opening it and fishing one of the tablets out.  He wished he’d had something to eat with the damn thing, but spending a single moment longer than necessary upstairs was going to make him explode, so he’d deal instead with the sour stomach that came from taking one of the massive pills with nothing but microwaved coffee to hold it down.

As he sat back down at the table, he tried to use the chair to stretch his back, cringing and wincing as muscles pulled and joints popped.  He finally got the spot right in the middle to go, making him see sparks as it gave way with a loud crack.  Whether it actually made anything better, or would just cause him problems down the line, Loki neither knew nor cared.  It felt better then, in the moment, without the constant distraction of his entire back pulling painfully toward that one spot in the middle every time he dared do anything more strenuous than blink.

Something fell with a heavy thump above him, and Loki briefly looked up toward it before picking his phone up from the table to turn the volume up a few more steps.  With the entire world suitably drowned out for good, Loki reached back into his laptop bag and pulled out his iPad and its pencil.  With a breakfast of old coffee and a cigarette, he began combing through his accounts he knew how to access, and taking notes on everything he came across.  He wrote down account numbers, balances, terms, rates, and everything else he could find about every single one of them.  Using a spreadsheet on his phone, he kept a running total of everything stored across all of them.

And then, he went through each account individually, making sure he understood and could cross-reference every single charge and deposit coming and going.  He wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and wasn’t surprised at all to find nothing out of order.  Deposits made to one account aligned with deductions on another.  His credit cards were set to automatically pay the balance each month, and since that was working out well, he saw no reason to change it.

Other accounts were simply left to collect interest, and had been doing just fine on their own for apparent years.  Those too, Loki left alone.  Thor had told him not to consolidate anything, and as he dug through the accounts, he understood why.  They were doing more for him by being left alone, and if he changed that he’d actually lose money either by dropping to a lower interest rate, or having to pay a penalty for moving more money than was allowed at once.

But none of those listed with his bank were the accounts he’d been looking for the night before.  None of them had the information he really wanted to see.  For that, he got back up and returned to his room and lowered himself to the floor in front of the small filing cabinet next to his dresser.  Mostly, it held important documents for work; files on old deals he’d made, and some that had fallen through.  But buried in the bottom drawer were older documents.  Documents from university, stuffed away in case he ever needed them.  He found other things he hadn’t remembered ever burying away, and realised Odin or Frigga must have moved them into his possession when he wasn’t looking.  Immigration and naturalisation records from a process he hadn’t even been involved with directly; a process he had only just learned had happened at all.  Older records he could only half read, but which he assumed must have dealt with his adoption.  And as he shuffled through more papers, he felt the sting of irony that the only thing he had a full understanding of was his adoption.  It had never been a secret; not for a moment.  He and Sylvie had always known, because that’s just how things were done back home.  No secrets accidentally getting out, or existential crises over where one came from. 

Loki knew exactly where he came from, and it had never once made a difference.

This crisis was different.  The information that had been kept from him had always been right there within arm’s reach, but he had never bothered to reach for it.  He never knew how, or even that he could.  And when he finally found an old folder with years of account statements he thought he’d never even seen before, he realised his problem went so much farther than not knowing how to put a phone bill into his own name.

Loki dropped the folder onto the floor and cradled his head in his hands.  It had been right there, in his files the entire time, and he could not recall the last time he had looked at it, if ever.  He was certain he must have seen it at one point, even if that meant Frigga going over it with him.  But if it had happened, he didn’t remember.

With a defeated sigh, Loki rolled over onto his knees before getting up, leveraging himself against the dresser to keep his balance.  He snatched the folder up from the floor and took it outside to look through properly.  It was all a confusing and disorganised mess of papers and statements and information, but he was able to see what wasn’t present.  There was no information about an online account.  He found the bank’s website, and then had to convince it to let him log in.  First, he tried the information he used to sign into the other site, but it denied him access.  Creating a new account required him to prove he was himself, and took far more than just plugging in the account number on his documents.  Instead, it wanted social security numbers, and past addresses and phone numbers, none of which looked accurate.  When it asked him to confirm which random address he had previously lived at, he had to fight against a rising panic at the realisation that he didn’t know.  Loki was fairly certain he had never truly lived anywhere else since they’d moved to America, but it wasn’t complete certainty.  They might have lived somewhere else briefly, but surely it wasn’t asking him information from when he was three years old?

He took what felt like a terrible gamble and selected the option for none of the above, doing the same again for his past phone numbers.  Though he wasn’t completely certain again, Loki couldn’t imagine it was asking for his parents’ phone numbers.  And even if it was, none of the ones it gave him were right. 

When the system accepted him and allowed him into the next step to create his account, Loki couldn’t help but feel a bit gaslit and manipulated by a machine.  It had set him up to answer the questions incorrectly by giving him answers meant to confuse him, and for some reason it got under his skin and stayed there.  But he got in, and quickly wrote the new information down on his iPad so he could remember it when he needed to write it down in the little book he kept in his filing cabinet.

And as he clicked through his account for the first time, he was confronted with not one, but two separate trusts.  One, which he recognised immediately as the account he had been trying to find.  The balance was substantially bigger than he’d expected it to be, which only made it more likely to be the one he was looking for.

The other, with a significantly smaller balance, was a surprise.  It was that account Loki decided to start digging through first, and it only took a moment to realise what it was.

It was his university fund, intended to take him through law school.  He had got as far as the bachelors before quitting, and now the rest of the fund was collecting dust like everything else.  Wondering if he could have the assets transferred to another account, Loki wrote down all of its information along with everything else, and moved onto the big account.

He hadn’t moved a penny from it, even though it had been available to him for almost two years.  He knew that much; that it was his under the condition of graduating university.  He’d done that, with a degree he hadn’t been able to do anything else with, because he’d listened to a school advisor who suggested philosophy as an entry into law.

But it wasn’t like he needed the money either.  He’d been getting by just fine on the same chequeing account he’d been using since he was fourteen years old, and a pair of credit cards.  He’d never touched the allowance that was supposed to get him through university.  Never touched the investment accounts, or the savings accounts, or any of the others which he was now certain were meant to fund other specific events he’d never undertaken.  And because he’d never touched them, he didn’t know how to use them even if he’d wanted to. 

With everything added up on his phone, Loki stared down at the number.  A number that was only going to get bigger in a few weeks, once the deal in Brooklyn closed.  He had thought the Brooklyn deal was a windfall; something that would get him through the next few emergencies that came up.  Even with that deposit, his chequeing account still wouldn’t be the biggest one on his ledger.  He stared at it, suddenly understanding why Odin alone had said nothing about his car when he’d bought it, while so many others chastised and ridiculed the amount he’d spent on it.  Odin may not have known exactly how obscene the total was, but he must have had an idea.  He was the one who had set all of his accounts up to begin with, as he’d done for all of his children.  And seeing them all listed in one place, even knowing that most had inflated from years and years of interest, only once more called into question just how bad things had been after the market collapse.  The credit lines were newer, one from high school and the other from university, but the rest Loki knew had been set up before his first birthday.  Eight accounts, for various purposes, waiting for Loki to reach certain points in his life where he would need them.

Eight accounts, for eleven children. 

Staring at the numbers, Loki wondered what the investment accounts may have looked like if the market hadn’t collapsed.  He wondered what the interest rates would have looked like, and how much he had ‘lost’ since 2008, without ever even knowing it.

He wondered if there were more accounts that hadn’t survived, or if anything had been skimmed off the top to keep their struggles a secret.

He wondered what else had been sold.  He knew now that it went beyond yachts and summers in Florida.  And yet, a guilt he had harboured for years instantly evaporated.  They hadn’t sold the yacht because of him.  They hadn’t stopped going back home every other summer because of him.  They hadn’t sold the house in the city, or anything else because of him.

If anything, Loki’s timing in getting run over had kept them in America. 

He remembered clearly the chaos and constant fighting.  There had been tensions in the house for a while, but it seemed like everything had exploded when Frigga got pregnant with Vidar.  At the time, Loki hadn’t understood, but he did now.  There wasn’t enough money for another baby, even setting aside the future-proofing Odin had done for the rest of them.  It was a strain that came back when she got pregnant with Laussa, and at the time Loki had dismissed it as stress and strain because his parents were too old to be having a baby at all.  And that may still have played a part, but now Loki wondered what sort of future-proofing Vidar and Laussa had, or if they even had any.  Things had bounced back, but they were clearly nowhere near as secure as they had been before.  And then Loki looked again at his ledger, and he understood Thor’s indignation the night before, when he’d seen Loki’s accounts.  Some of that sum represented illiquid assets he knew he couldn’t move or access, but not enough to make any significant difference. 

It was no wonder Angela had been so outraged that Odin paid all of Loki’s bills.  If anything, she hadn’t been angry enough.

And in going over the accounts, Loki wondered again if anything had been skimmed off the top before he ever had access to them.  There were five of them, still kids at home when the market collapsed.  Five of them with future-proofed accounts, set up for a future that assumed everything would continue to move along smoothly.  But if anything had been skimmed, it was done in a way Loki couldn’t see now.  Not without going back more than ten years to when the troubles first started.

A paranoid, uncharitable voice in the back of his head wondered if he might be missing a few accounts; accounts Thor wouldn’t have noticed missing either, because he’d lost them too.

But he’d never know, and looking at the ad hoc ledger on his phone, he didn’t need to know.  If he’d lost anything before he knew it even existed, it didn’t matter.  And if he’d lost an account, he knew they’d kept the house because of it.

He stared at his laptop, and the account he had open on the screen, wondering what in the hell to even do with any of it.  He could, quite literally, do anything he wanted.  The only thing stopping him was the leash around his neck that kept him checking in with a probation officer every week.

Loki’s attention was pulled away from the screen by the sound of his door sliding open behind him.  He paused the music on his phone and turned, expecting to find Thor coming out to join him, and instead finding Sylvie looking like she was ready to murder someone.

“You were a big help back there,” Sylvie said.

Loki shook his head.  “Nope,” he said.  “I’m not doing this.”

“I’m serious.”  Sylvie sat down next to him and leaned forward to look at his laptop.  “You really had nothing to say?”

Again, Loki shook his head.  “You told that fucking cop I’m on probation.  I don’t owe you anything.”

Sylvie scoffed.  “Please,” she said.  “One little thing doesn’t go your way, and you turn into the biggest fucking toddler, I swear.”

Loki turned to her, gaping at her.  “Fuck you,” he said.

She tiled her head, twisting her face up ironically.

“No, I’m serious,” Loki said.  “Fuck you.  Find someone else to move in with you, because we’re not doing this anymore.”

“Oh, here we go again,” Sylvie said.

“Yes.  Again,” Loki said through his teeth. 

He looked around to make sure they were alone, but in the small alcove, he could only see what was immediately nearby.  He could still hear vague voices and sounds from upstairs, but nothing suggested anyone was close enough to hear their words. 

“Because every time I try to say we’re done, you disagree, and Sylvie always gets her way,” he said.  “We’re done.”

“Oh, yeah.  Because you’re so happy all the way out here, all alone,” she said.  “Sounds like paradise to me.”

Loki clenched his fist, resisting the urge to hit something.  Instead, he slapped his laptop shut to keep Sylvie’s eyes off his screen.

“I was with Zelma for six fucking months.  I liked her,” he said, leaning forward so he could keep his voice quiet. 

The smug look on Sylvie’s face immediately told him everything he needed to know about what had happened with Zelma. 

“You knew I was spending the weekend with her,” he said.  “Is that why you sent that picture?  Because it’s okay for you to jump on every dick in Manhattan, but I can only see other people under your approval?”

Sylvie threw her hands into the air and shook her head.  “You cannot still be mad about that,” she said.

They stared at one another, Loki inhaling deeply and using every ounce of his willpower to stay in his seat.

“Okay,” Sylvie said.  “Fine.  We’re done.  What’s your big plan then, now that you’ve suddenly decided you want to grow up and be all alone?”

She sat there, arms crossed smugly over her chest as she waited for an answer.  Loki knew exactly what she was doing, and she was good at it, but he stayed exactly where he was.  She wanted him to get up and storm around.  She wanted him to slap her; to drag her inside and show her just how serious he was.

It was a game he refused to play any longer, no matter how hard she pushed him.

“This isn’t about me,” he said.

Sylvie laughed.  “No?” she said.  “Isn’t everything?”

“No,” Loki said.  “This is about you doing everything you can to be the biggest cunt in New York.”

She moved in an instant, sitting forward and slapping him across the face.  One of his earbuds flew toward the door, bouncing off the glass before skittering across the deck.  Silence dragged on between them, Loki staring at their reflection in the door, while Sylvie glared at him.

“Did Thor tell you to say that?” she asked.  “I suppose not moving in with me was his idea too, because it sure as hell wasn’t yours.  You’ve never had a unique idea of your own.”

Loki reached up to slowly rub the spot along his jaw where she’d struck him.  But still, he refused to take the bait.  She thought he was an idiot, but she’d thought wrong.

“Oh, you’ve got nothing to say?” she asked.  “Because of course I’m right.  This is Thor talking, because you’ve never been able to make a single decision on your own in your life.”

“Fine, you want to know my plan?” Loki asked, turning to glare at her.  “I’m going to stay right here.  And next week, I’m going to go meet this woman Mum wants me to meet, and you’re never going to speak to her.”

Again, Sylvie scoffed.  “Of course,” she said.  “Of course.  Run to Mummy.  She’ll fix everything.”

“I’m serious,” Loki said.  “I don’t care if she’s addicted to Xanax and drinks three bottles of wine a day.  I’ll still be better off than I ever was with you.”

“God, you’re pathetic,” Sylvie said, getting up.  She stepped close, standing over Loki so he had to look almost straight up at her.  “Nobody wants to marry a man who needs his mother to arrange his dates for him.”

They stared at one another for a long moment, Loki waiting for Sylvie to come up with a new insult, and Sylvie saying nothing.

“Get the fuck out of my room,” Loki said finally.

Sylvie looked around, shrugging widely.  “This isn’t your room.  We’re outside.”

Loki stared up at her, trying to see if she’d give anything else away.  She obviously hadn’t told Odin the whole story of the night before, because Loki was still breathing.  That’s why she was standing in front of him.  Thor had figured out that the situation he’d found them in was not Loki’s doing.  Loki knew that much, just from the way he danced around the conversation.  And now Sylvie was in his space, trying to manufacture a situation that put her in the role of a victim.  She’d always been good at that, but Loki had years of practise in learning how to avoid it.  And that started with letting her slap him and spit at him all she wanted, and never once rising to the bait.

He’d always wondered what that felt like, to manufacture a situation in her favour like that.  And then he heard his bedroom door open, and decided he was going to play her game after all.

“Just how broke are you?” he asked, staring straight up at her.  “That’s why you want me to move in, isn’t it?  Why you won’t move in with any of the other losers you fuck?  You know there’s nothing coming from Granddad, and you’ve got what?  Another year or two before you lose your apartment?”

He could see that it worked on her face, just scant seconds before she slapped him again, hitting the same spot she’d hit before.  Loki stayed still, his eyes closed as he heard his door slide open all the way.  Slowly, Loki opened his eyes and looked back up to see Thor and Sylvie staring at one another, Sylvie for once looking like the deer caught in the headlights.

“I see,” Thor said after a long moment.

He looked down at Loki, but Loki had nothing to say.  He put on Sylvie’s usual act, biting his lip and staring wide-eyed up at Thor.

“Sylvie, get the hell out of here,” Thor said, reaching behind himself to close Loki’s door.  “Now.”

She scoffed and shook her head, but when Thor didn’t relent, she turned and stomped off out of the alcove and down the deck.  Moments later, her bedroom door slammed shut, echoing along the back of the house.  Only then did Thor sit in the chair Sylvie had vacated, pulling it close to Loki.  He reached out, carefully tilting Loki’s face.  Loki let him, knowing there was bound to be a mark he’d have to explain away.

“Was it worth it?” Thor asked.

Loki snorted and bent to pick up his wayward earbud before it got lost.  “Oh, how many times did she pull that shit on us and get away with it?” he asked.

Thor shook his head and leaned back in his seat.  His eyes drifted toward Loki’s laptop, drawing Loki’s attention as well.  He realised he’d not locked his phone or his iPad, and reached over to lock both before he drained their batteries completely.

“Did you find your other accounts?” Thor asked.

Loki nodded.  “Found them,” he said.  “I don’t know how to access what’s in them.”

Thor shrugged.  “It’s a start.”

Loki shrugged and looked up at the ceiling, and the kitchen directly above his head.  Through the open doors and windows upstairs, he could still the chatter and occasional bickering, but most of it had died down.

“Do you have any plans today?” Loki asked, his eyes falling back to his phone.

Thor shook his head.  “I was thinking about going into town to get away.  Why?”

“I’ve got a better idea,” Loki said, reaching for his phone.

He unlocked it and found Anthony’s number, and was surprised when the line picked up after only a few rings.

“Hey, what time did you want us at the club?” Loki asked, watching Thor realise what Loki’s better idea was.

Loki lay in bed, propped up on special pillows so he could sit up and see the TV without hurting himself.  He was sick of watching TV, and had grown bored with every one of his video games, but there was little else he could do.  He could read, but he’d bought so many books for his iPad, he was running out of space on it.  The stairs were still too tricky to navigate, but even if he could get up them, there was little else to do once he got there.  So he sat in bed, endlessly flipping through the same garbage that was always on TV until he got so bored he fell asleep.

His bedroom door opening jolted him back to attention.  It was too late in the evening for Bestla to come natter on at him with her thick accent that made Loki have to pay attention to understand her.  Instead, Sylvie slowly crept in, careful to close the door behind her without making a sound.  For a moment, she lingered by the door, but it was a brief moment.  She walked close to Loki, stopping beside his bed to look down at him.

“Mummy said you’re going back to school on Monday,” she said.

Loki nodded.  “Yeah,” he said.

“How’s that going to work?” Sylvie asked.

Loki frowned at her, not understanding her question.  “What do you mean?”

He watched her, not sure what she wanted.  She always wanted something, but she was getting harder and harder to figure out.

“Are you gonna ride with Thor?” Sylvie asked.

“No,” Loki said, shaking his head.  “I can drive.  It hurts to use the clutch sometimes, but it’s not that far.”

“Is that a good idea?” Sylvie asked.

She stood over him, watching with a critical gaze as Loki shrugged.  “Dad says it’ll be good for me,” he said.

Sylvie continued to stare down at him, something vaguely disproving about the way she held herself.  She finally broke her gaze to shake her head, and waved at him.

“Well, if you can drive, then you can make room,” she said.

Loki didn’t want to make room.  He didn’t want her in his bed.  But she didn’t wait for him to let her in.  Sylvie pulled the blankets up and muscled her way in, forcing Loki to move over so she could cosy up next to him.

“What do you want?” he asked finally, watching as she got comfortable.

“I want to be with you,” Sylvie said.  “You’ve been an asshole ever since…”

She nodded vaguely, as though gesturing to something in the past.  And Loki knew exactly what she wasn’t saying.  Ever since he took her to the clinic, he’d wanted to stop doing those things with her.  He had to dodge and avoid her for months, until Brand ran him over.  Then, she finally got the hint.  He hadn’t even had to tell her what had really happened.  She’d figured it out all on her own, without needing any kind of hint.  He’d been dodging Brand all summer.  She didn’t need any more than that.

“Well, you’re here,” Loki said.

He tried to shift and settle to get comfortable, but he wasn’t sure where to put his arm.  It sat squished between the two of them, until she grabbed him by the wrist and arranged them so his arm was over her shoulder, and she was snuggled up close to him.

He didn’t like it.  What had once felt comfortable and right now felt almost invasive.  He didn’t want her touching him at all, but then her hand was under his shirt and her fingers tracing over his belly, and Loki couldn’t even do anything about it.  Worse, even though he wanted nothing to do with her, and just wanted her to go away, her being so close to him was making him hard.  And he hated himself for it, because that was why he was stuck in bed in the first place.

“Sylvie, don’t,” he said, keeping his eyes fixed on the television.

She snuggled in even closer, pressing her body against his.  He could feel, even with layers between them, that she wasn’t wearing a bra.  She probably wasn’t wearing any panties.  And he hated that he knew what that felt like.  He hated that he wanted to touch her, and for her to touch him.

“What?” Sylvie asked.  “I thought you were feeling better.”

He breathed deeply, trying to ignore every thought that rushed through his mind.

“I told you,” he said, still staring at the television.  “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“No?”

Her hand moved from his belly down to his dick, stroking him through his pyjamas.

“Sure feels like you want to, to me,” she said.

Loki let his eyes drift closed as she played with him through the fabric.  He tried to figure out whether he wanted her there or not.  This was wrong, and they both knew it.  They both knew what would happen if they didn’t stop.  Her being so close to him was something he was fairly certain he did not want.  But then his dick had undeniably grown hard beneath her touch, so he must have wanted her.  He was confused, and angry, and thought maybe he was taking that out on her.  Maybe he had said some things he hadn’t meant.

And then she pulled his pyjamas down and touched him with her bare hand, nothing between them, and Loki didn’t know what he wanted anymore.  He opened his eyes and looked at her, hoping she might give him answers.  But she said nothing; only watched his face as she slowly stroked him, teasing him more than anything.

“You’re really going to say no to me after everything that’s happened?” she asked.

Loki didn’t know.  He shrugged and tried to shake his head, and then she flicked her thumb over the head of his cock, and for a moment he was utterly incapable of thought.

“I still want you,” Sylvie said.  “Who else is going to say that now?”

Her words cut through him, and he knew she was right.  He’d left sophomore year as an awkward loser who only hung around other awkward losers.  And now he’d started his junior year in rehab, and would be going back to school as an awkward loser who couldn’t walk without crutches.  Sylvie was right.  And he knew it.

And with her hand on his dick, slowly stroking and teasing him, Loki knew she wasn’t lying about the rest.  She was far too stubborn to ever do anything she didn’t want to.  She wouldn’t be there in his bed then unless she wanted him.

“I’ve missed you,” she said, shifting to press herself more closely against him.  “Can we please stop fighting?”

Loki took a deep breath and gave in. He nodded as he shifted to get more comfortable, allowing his hand to wander along Sylvie’s back as she continued to tease him.  He pulled her shirt up to feel her skin beneath his fingers, and realised he’d missed her too.  Then, she pulled her hand away, and began fussing with something beneath the blankets.  Loki tried to see what she was doing, but her hands were obscured as she blindly fumbled about.  Then, her touch was back, and he realised what she’d been fussing about with as she struggled to roll a condom onto his dick.

“Sylvie,” Loki said as reality quickly snapped back.

Hand jobs weren’t sex.  Hand jobs weren’t going to end in another trip to Planned Parenthood.  But then she was shifting around beside him, wrestling her way out of her pyjamas.

“I’ll be careful,” she said.

He watched, unable to do anything as she climbed on top of him.  He still wanted to tell her no; to try to push her off of him, but he didn’t want to hurt himself again and miss any more time at school.  Then she settled herself, and he was inside her, and he stopped caring about all of it.  Loki gasped loudly, and even through the condom he could feel her moving on top of him.  Sylvie rolled against him slowly, grinding against him instead of bouncing, keeping him buried in her while she fucked him.  His hands fell to her thighs, knowing not to try to guide her even though this wasn’t quite right.  He’d get what he wanted after she got what she wanted.  That’s how she always liked things, and he never argued.

She braced herself on his shoulders, but it was too much.  Her weight pressing on him like that made him break the rules, and he slapped both of her hands off him.

“Don’t do that,” he said.

She moved her hands to the pillow on either side of his head, but even as she fucked him, panting and rolling against him, Loki was more focused on his back.

“What’s wrong?” Sylvie asked after a moment.

Loki winced and tried to find a better way to settle himself.  “That fucking hurt,” he said.

“Do you need to stop?” she asked, still riding him.

Loki winced as he tried to shift again, but it had been a bit too much.  Sylvie started moving faster on top of him, rather than getting off. 

“I’m almost there,” she said, leaning into him.

Loki nodded, struggling to stay with her.  He just wanted her to get off of him, but she continued to ride him, panting loudly against him.

“Hurry up,” Loki said, letting his head fall back.

She squeezed her thighs against him, holding him beneath her as she quietly moaned, higher and higher reach time.  She was close, and Loki knew all he had to do was endure it for a few moments longer.  When she finally came, she rode it out, but it was too much.  Loki pushed her, finally prompting her to get off of him.  They both panted quietly as she settled beside him, but not for the same reasons.  As he tried to catch his breath through the sharp spike of pain that ran through him, Loki reached awkwardly for the night stand, and the bottle of pills on it.

He didn’t like the Percocets.  They made him feel stupid and sluggish, but he knew he needed one if he wanted to get any amount of decent sleep. 

“Can I have one?” Sylvie asked as he wrestled the bottle open.

“Fuck off.  No,” he said.

“Are they any good?” Sylvie asked.

Loki managed to get one of the pills out, and picked up the bottle of water that was on his night stand specifically for taking his pills.

“I’m not giving you one,” Loki said.

He took the pill, chasing it with half the bottle of water just to get it down. 

“Have you tried Adderall?” Sylvie asked.

“No, leave me alone,” Loki said.  “I wanna go to bed.  Get out of here.”

Sylvie rolled her eyes and pulled her pyjamas back on.  For a moment, he thought she was going to try to argue her way into staying, but then she got up and quietly made her way to the door.  Loki watched her as she left, making sure she was well and truly gone before he pulled the condom off and tried to figure out what to do with it.  He had a bag of fast food trash from Thor, and stuffed the condom deep inside, hiding it amongst crumpled napkins and stale fries.

He did miss Sylvie.  But he knew that whatever they did together, it would always be on her terms, whether he liked it or not.

« || »

Ours to Keep #10

For a moment, Loki felt as though he wasn’t even present.  Everything happened around him both all at once and in slow motion, playing out as though he were watching it on a screen.  Sylvie shouted from within the car, while Thor stepped back to silence her, never once breaking eye contact with Loki.  Outrage, disgust, confusion; it all played across Thor’s face as he watched Loki abruptly realise his pants were still unzipped and hanging open.  While Loki rushed close his pants back up, Thor finally tore his gaze away to face Sylvie in the car.

“Just stay in there,” he said, holding his hand out toward her.

Thor shut the door and turned to glare back down at Loki.  Loki waited for him to say something; anything.  But Thor only breathed deeply and shook his head.  Something needed to be said, because if the silence spanned on much longer, Loki thought he might have a heart attack and die right there on the side of the road.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.  “How the fuck did you know where we are?”

Thor kicked Loki in the thigh, startling him more than it hurt.

“Dad tracks your phone, dickhead,” Thor said.

In the light of Thor’s headlamps, Loki could see that the phone in Thor’s hand was indeed their father’s.  Loki stared at it for a long moment, slowly realising something he’d never known.

“How long’s he been doing that?” he asked.

Grumbling, Thor bent and grabbed Loki by the arm, hauling him to his feet before shoving him back to put distance between them.  Again, Thor shook his head, and Loki knew this was not going to get deflected.

“Our sister,” Thor said, glancing back to Loki’s car.  “Your sister!”

Loki took a step back, having not a single response for Thor.  He shook his head, trying to think of anything to say, but the look on Thor’s face had already won.  Loki had nothing to say, because there was nothing he could say.

“Loki, I’m serious,” Thor said.  “This is beyond sick.  What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“I…”  Loki shrugged. 

This wasn’t the same as finding them a little too close to one another.  There was no talking his way out of what Thor had just seen.  He’d always known someone was bound to figure them out sooner or later, but he’d imagined it would be in a way he could attempt to gaslight his way out of. 

There was simply no other explanation, and he knew it, so he shrugged again.  This was the new reality, and like it or not, Loki knew everything was about to turn upside down.

Thor raised his hand, and Loki flinched away before realising Thor didn’t intend to swing at him.  His fist wasn’t clenched because he intended to swing it, but more likely because he intended not to.

“That’s it?” Thor asked.  “You’re not even going to defend yourself?”

Loki shook his head.  “I don’t know what you want me to say,” he said.

With a sharp inward hiss, Thor turned around and stepped toward the front of Loki’s car.

“Jesus Christ, Loki.  I always knew you were fucked up, but this…” Thor shook his head and turned back around.  “Your own goddamn sister.”

Again, they stared at one another in silence, only the rumble from Thor’s idling truck parked behind Loki filling the air.

“What do you want me to say?” Loki asked.  He looked over to Sylvie, watching them from within the car, and shrugged again.  “That you’re mistaken?”

“Maybe, yes,” Thor said.  “Anything that might convince me you’re completely fucking stupid.”

Again, Loki shrugged.  Again, he had nothing to say, because everything he could have possibly said was already out in the open.  He watched Thor pace around for a moment, before he finally turned back, disgust still plain on his face, and gestured vaguely to Loki.

“Get in the damn car,” he said.

Loki hesitated before stepping to open the door, but Thor stopped him.

“No, genius,” he said, physically turning Loki to face the truck idling behind him.

Loki started to warn Thor about Sylvie’s own problem, but decided not to bother because it would somehow be his fault anyway, and he wasn’t keen on catching any more hell.  Instead, he trudged back to Thor’s truck and got into the front seat, watching as Thor talked to Sylvie through the window.  For some reason, he expected to see the same angry posturing and outrage, but their discussion was far more subdued and brief.  Even from the distance, Loki could tell Sylvie was struggling to start the car, and when she finally got it running, Thor returned back to join Loki.  Neither said anything as Thor got behind the wheel and followed Sylvie as she got back onto the road.  Loki waited for more shouting and name-calling, but none came.  They rode in a tense silence all the way back to the house, and as they got closer, Loki wasn’t sure if he preferred the silence to what was certainly to come, or if it only made the anticipation worse.  As they reached the house and got past the gate, Loki wondered if he should leap out of the car and flee.  But he stayed put as they parked, and even as Thor got out of the car.  He thought maybe he could stay right where he was and avoid the worst of it, but then Thor walked around to his side and threw the door open.

“Come on,” Thor said.

Running out of ideas, Loki stepped out and looked up at the house, mostly dark except for a few upstairs windows.

“I’d rather just go to bed,” he said.

Thor slapped him on the side of the head, and then grabbed him by the neck and pulled him toward the house, dragging him like a disobedient dog.  Rather than going through the front door, they walked to the garage, where Thor finally let go of Loki while he checked to make sure Odin’s office, and the adjoining basement were empty.  As he returned, Sylvie finally joined them, closing the door behind her.

“You figure out what to say yet?” Thor asked.

Loki shrugged and looked away, focusing on a can of paint that had spent the last twenty years sitting on the same shelf.

“Oh, who cares?” Sylvie said.  “It’s none of your business.”

Thor turned to look at her, momentarily stunned.  “Oh,” he said.  “Is this better or worse?  I don’t know.”

“You tell me,” Sylvie said.

“Sylvie, don’t,” Loki said.

He just wanted to go to bed.  It was all he’d wanted to do, ever since they left the restaurant.

“Oh, don’t be such a pussy,” Sylvie said.  “You’re afraid of him?  What’s he going to do?  Tell Mummy and Daddy?  He wouldn’t dare.  He’s just as dickless as you are.”

“Stop,” Loki said, hating how much he sounded like he was begging, even to his own ears.

She grabbed his arm and tried to pull him toward the door, but he flinched away before he could stop himself.  He wished Thor would start shouting or throwing things, or anything, but when he looked back up all he saw was confusion written across Thor’s face.  Confusion and uncertainty.

“Jesus Christ,” Thor said suddenly as he buried his face in his hand.  “Loki, go upstairs.  Go take a bath, or whatever it is you need to do.”

Loki didn’t move.  He stared at the floor in front of him, listening to Sylvie scoff beside him.

“This is none of your fucking business,” she said.  “So stay out of it.”

“Loki,” Thor said a little more forcefully.  “Go upstairs.”

Sylvie was still wearing his jacket, but rather than trying to get it back, he decided to deal with it later.  Loki turned to walk through Odin’s office, and was halfway up the stairs before he even realised what he was doing.  He didn’t know why he was doing what Thor had told him to do, but he was on his way to do it, so he didn’t stop.  He tried not to think about what conversation was happening without him in the garage as he slowly trudged up to his room and stood in front of his dresser to make sure his cufflinks and his watch and his tie were somewhere safe.  He hadn’t even intended to take a bath at all, but Thor had put the idea in his mind, and now he moved almost automatically, grabbing a clean pair of pyjamas before turning to walk back across the hall.

He drew a bath, and as the water ran, he undressed and let his clothes lay on the floor where they fell.  As he got into the water, he wondered if he should just let himself drown in it, but somehow even that seemed like too much effort.  He let the water run until it was a bit too deep, and starting to run cold, and as he sat forward to turn it off he wished he’d stopped to at least take one of his pills before blindly following Thor’s orders.

Loki didn’t know how much time had passed by the time he heard someone moving around on the other side of the door.  For a moment, he thought someone was about to come in despite the closed door, but the shuffling quickly subsided and once again he was left in silence.  As the silence drew on, Loki tried to convince himself to get up.  He couldn’t stay in the bath all night, and he was already getting dangerously close to falling asleep as it was, but getting out meant facing Thor.  So he stayed until he found himself waking with a start after falling asleep without meaning or wanting to.  Still, he resisted, staring at the tile wall in front of him, until he once more woke suddenly.  Before he could fall asleep a third time, Loki sat forward to drain the water, grimacing at the pull in his back as he reached for the plug.

Slowly, he pulled himself back up, putting only the bare minimum effort into drying off before pulling his pyjamas on.  Looking down at his discarded clothes on the floor, Loki decided he simply did not care enough to deal with them, and left everything where it was, shoes and all.  As he turned to the door, he thought about Thor on the other side, no doubt still awake and waiting for him.  With a deep breath, he opened the door and found his own open, and Thor awake as expected.  Whether he noticed Loki or not was unclear, since he didn’t look up from his phone.  Loki knew he couldn’t stand there forever.  But rather than taking that first step forward, his leg decided it simply did not want to support his weight and buckled beneath him.  With a startled yelp, Loki managed to grab onto the door frame before falling to the floor.  At once, Thor was on his feet and quickly at Loki’s side, holding his hands out as though to catch him.

“Don’t touch me,” Loki said, still gripping onto the door frame.

“What did you do?” Thor said, still hovering irritatingly close.

Loki looked down at his feet and tried to put both of them beneath him where they belonged, but he found the task far more difficult than it ought to have been.  He was positive this wasn’t his back.  It didn’t hurt that badly, even now.  And yet it was as though he had completely lost control of his own body, and was stuck hanging off a door frame unless he intended to crawl to bed.

“Nothing.  Don’t fucking touch me,” he said.

Thor didn’t listen.  He never did.  He forced himself into Loki’s space, pulling one of Loki’s arms over his shoulder to hoist him up.  Loki didn’t fight back or resist as Thor hauled him into his room, because he didn’t feel like falling face-first onto the floor.  Instead, he let Thor drag him over to his bed, and collapsed upon it as soon as Thor released his grip.

“I thought it was your other side you messed up,” Thor said.

Loki hated him.  He hated even the idea of Thor at that moment.

“I did,” he said, staring up at the ceiling.  “You did this.”

He heard Thor sigh and close the door before settling into the recliner.  For a moment, he dared hope for silence.  It was a brief moment.

“Loki,” Thor said slowly.  “What the hell is going on?”

Loki didn’t answer him.  He didn’t want to, and Thor didn’t deserve it.  He wanted to tell Thor to go ask Sylvie, but even that was more than Thor deserved.  A moment later, it occurred to him Thor likely already had asked Sylvie, and now it was his turn under the microscope.

“Do you want to come stay with me for a while?” Thor asked.

Loki did not want to stay with Thor.  Thor was the last person Loki wanted anything to do with.

“Seventeen years old,” he said, still staring up at the ceiling.  “I had to tell my doctor that the pills he’d put me on for my back had made my dick stop working.  That is no longer the worst conversation I’ve ever had.”

He didn’t think he needed to specify what conversation had taken that title.  He didn’t think Thor could possibly be that dense.

Thor made another exasperated little noise, and again Loki dared hope he would leave things alone.

“When did this start?” Thor asked, not leaving anything alone.

“What do you care?” Loki asked.

“I care because I’m not blind,” Thor said.

Loki didn’t answer.  It was only a matter of time before everyone knew, and then Loki’s life was simply over.  He’d find a nice, tall bridge to jump off of if that’s what it came down to, because there was no coming back from this. 

“Fuck, are you even using protection?” Thor asked.

Loki screwed his eyes shut, wondering if he could simply die out of sheer will.

“Don’t talk to me,” he said.

“I’m serious, Loki,” Thor said.  “She’s your goddamn sister.  What do you think would happen if you got her pregnant?”

Loki suddenly found it very difficult to keep his composure.  He took a deep breath and fought against a rising tightness in his throat that threatened to choke him.

“She’d get another abortion,” he said.

Thor sighed, long and quietly.  For a moment, there was blessed silence, but somehow the silence was worse.  Loki’s thoughts existed in the silence, and they were even more damning than anything Thor had to say.

“Jesus fucking Christ, you told me last night, didn’t you?” Thor asked.

Loki had, and he still didn’t know why.

“Since you were sixteen?  Seriously?” Thor asked.

Loki took a deep breath, and if it was possible to hate himself more, Loki wasn’t sure how.

“Fifteen,” he said.

“Well, it ends now,” Thor said.

“No.  It won’t,” Loki said, still unable to look at anything but the ceiling.  He could feel his throat closing and his heart pounding, and yet he spoke without being able to stop himself.  “She doesn’t listen to me.  What makes you think she’ll listen to you?”

Again, a long silence dragged on between them, and again Loki dared hope Thor was done.

“Loki,” Thor said, sounding suddenly uncertain.

His uncertainty nearly broke something within Loki.  His breath hitched, and he forced himself to roll over onto his side. 

“This conversation is over,” he said.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Thor asked.

Loki realised he could simply not respond, so that’s what he did.  He lay there in silence, letting Thor wonder and worry all on his own.  After a long moment, Thor swore quietly and got up, leaving the room, with the door hanging open and the light still on.  Loki briefly considered getting up to remedy both, but quickly decided he simply didn’t care.  He listened to Thor’s footsteps echo through the house, and up the stairs, and assumed he’d been so disgusted with the whole damn ordeal he’d chosen to go sleep on a sofa somewhere.  Instead, his footsteps began drawing nearer again, detouring across the hall briefly before he walked back into Loki’s room and closed the door again.

“Here,” Thor said.

Loki watched as he arranged the night stand with his pills and his phone and a fresh bottle of water.  Looking at all of it, Loki wanted nothing more than to ignore it out of spite.  But before he could stop himself, his hand reached for the pill bottle to fish one out, and then for the water.  He sat up to more easily twist off the cap, and as he swallowed down the pill he watched Thor begin to undress for bed.

He was still staying in the room with Loki.  Still going to hover around like a shadow.  Resigned to it, like he was so much else, Loki fussed with his phone and adjusted his bed, and then turned on his light strip.  Without needing to be told, Thor turned off the overhead light, and while he continued to bump and shuffle around, Loki turned the TV on to find the right playlist to drown out his own thoughts.  He settled on a different one than usual, which wasn’t the best for falling asleep to, but which also seemed to give his mind something to focus on other than his own thoughts.

“It’s a bit loud,” Thor said as he settled back in the recliner.

“Choke on a dick,” Loki said as he tossed his phone onto the night stand.

Instead of responding, Thor simply sighed and tried to roll over onto his side.  Loki ignored him and reached for his iPad a moment before remembering it was still in the car.  Neither wanting to try to get up and make it all the way outside, or attract any more attention, he picked up his phone again found something to scroll through until he calmed down enough to fall asleep.  But sleep never came.  The events of the day circled and swirled through his mind like a vortex that dragged his mood down even further.  As he scrolled past headlines he barely absorbed, and memes he didn’t understand, Loki found himself wanting to sleep less and less, despite his exhaustion.  He’d had so many things he’d needed to do and take care of when he’d got home, in a list that only seemed to grow longer as the evening had worn on, and he’d done none of them.  He’d shut down instead, and in his mind he could hear Odin chastising him for it.  He didn’t even need his father to point out his litany of flaws, when the version of Odin that lived rent-free in his mind did the job just as well.

With a deep breath, Loki brought up his contacts and found the number he eagerly awaited being able to delete.  He knew he should have called, but at the late hour, Loki assumed a text would be preferred.  He barely looked at the screen as he tapped out his recount of the evening, typo-ridden and poorly-constructed.  Even seeing the words form beneath his fingers was too much to bear.  When he finally hit send, Loki threw his phone toward his feet, letting it get lost in the blankets.  He didn’t even want to look at his phone; couldn’t bear to see the reply as it came in, telling him he should have done something differently, or handled it better.  Or worse, telling him that being detained was just as bad as being arrested as far as the court was concerned.

And without his phone, he had nothing else to distract him from his own thoughts.  Carefully, he rolled out of bed, testing his weight on his feet before walking across the floor, pausing only to snatch up his keys from where they’d been left the dresser.  He still didn’t know what had happened in the bathroom, but whatever it had been it seemed to have resolved itself.  Quietly, he slid the door open just enough to step outside onto the deck, and for a long moment just stood there feeling the cool air on his bare skin.  The breeze carried with it the smell of salt and a faint mist from the ocean, and as Loki listened to the distant roar of the waves, his mind left the chaos of the day and drifted back to yacht parties and vacations he hadn’t thought about in years.  It had all stopped when he was in high school, and he’d never given pause to wonder why.  Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he’d always assumed it was his own fault.  Spending weeks cruising down waterways toward Florida wasn’t exactly feasible when he had so many appointments to make and little emergencies that liked to pop up suddenly.

And then Odin sold the yacht, and Loki had always assumed it was because they weren’t using it.  And as he got better with his Icelandic, and relearned more and more of it over months spent doing as little as physically possible, he’d figured out that Odin and Frigga fought about not just the new baby, but the rest of them as well. 

And now, thanks to Roger finally filling in the missing pieces, Loki knew they hadn’t been fighting about any of the kids at all.  They were broke, and that’s why the yacht was sold, and why the fighting had reached its worse when Vidar was born.  That’s why they stopped alternating summers between Florida and Reykjavík. 

That’s why his grandparents had moved in.

Bor was broke, and Odin alone knew the extent.  Loki wondered if they’d moved out under their own steam, or if Odin had arranged it to make room for yet another unplanned child.  Again, Loki had never once considered it, but the timing of Bor and Bestla moving out, and finding out Frigga was pregnant with Laussa was suddenly deeply suspicious.

Obviously, they were doing better now.  But Loki couldn’t help but wonder if doing better was the same as doing well.  He couldn’t help but wonder if they had ever fully recovered.  And deep down, he realised he’d never know.  He didn’t know how to pay his own phone bill; he’d never be allowed to know the state of the family’s finances, no matter how much he may have indirectly contributed by running all over the state to do business on Odin’s behalf.

He looked up to the sky, and at the few wispy clouds that drifted high above, and turned to walk along the deck.  He hadn’t grabbed his slippers, but he didn’t care.  They had just had the entire deck redone, so it wasn’t as though he was likely to find any nasty surprises waiting for him beneath his feet.  He changed his mind as he reached the driveway though, finding the concrete not quite as smooth and even as he’d expected.  Still, he didn’t want to turn back, so he instead tried to rush down the long driveway to his car.  The salt on the air served as reminder against parking out in the open, but with so many other cars taking up space, getting back to the garage was impossible.  Instead, he was parked up close near the gate.  As he rushed closer, he realised he could make an easy getaway, and be three states over before anyone noticed him missing.

It was a thought he entertained as he got into the boot and pulled out the bags he’d stored away while leaving Sylvie’s apartment.  Not just his iPad and his laptop, but the clothes he’d shed as well.  As he slung the bags over his shoulder and closed the boot lid, Loki’s thoughts were interrupted by a dog barking in the dark.  He looked up, spotting his neighbour walking down the road with his dog on a long leash.

“Is it that late?” Loki asked, realising it must have been if the 2am dog walk was taking place.

His neighbour laughed, and the two of them walked over to meet at the gate.

“I thought your old man said the circus would be gone by now,” Anthony said.

Loki rolled his eyes, even though it couldn’t be seen in the dark.  “You didn’t hear it from me, but there’s a problem with the will,” he said.  “So the circus decided to stay.”

Anthony laughed again and shook his head.  “All of them?” he asked.

“My dad’s entire side of the family, minus one or two,” Loki said.  “I swear, I’m about to go walk into the sea and never come out again.”

“I’d have done it two days ago,” Anthony said.

He tugged on his dog’s leash, getting the animal away from the dense shrubs that hid the fence around the property.  The dog decided instead to stick his head through the gate, inviting Loki to scratch it between the ears.

“You have no idea,” Loki said.  “My sister decided to skip it, and she’s the smartest person in the family for it.”

“Really?” Anthony asked.  “I thought I saw her out here earlier.”

Loki shook his head.  “No, Hela,” he said.  “She never comes round anymore, so you probably forgot she was ever here to begin with.”

“Well, there’s so many of you,” Anthony said.  “But I’m sure you’ve got a couple of cool cousins or something.  You should bring them down to the club tomorrow.”

Loki turned back to look at the house, now completely dark and imposing against the sky.  “Maybe I will,” he said, nodding.

If nothing else, it would be good to get away from the chaos in a way that mattered.  He gave the dog one more scratch between the ears as Anthony pulled him away to resume their walk.  Loki watched him go before turning to make his way back to the house without stepping on too many sharp pebbles along the way.  Once he reached the table outside his room, Loki set everything out on it and started digging through for his cigarettes first, finding the pack buried in his jeans with his other pills.  He lit a cigarette and took a deep drag, letting himself enjoy the moment before digging his laptop out of its bag.  Somehow, as he turned it on, he was surprised to find it with a decent charge.  He wasn’t even sure what he wanted to do with it, and only stared at the screen as everything loaded to log him in.

But as he loaded his browser, Loki realised that even though he had a vague idea of what he needed to look into, he didn’t even know how to start.  He hadn’t touched his trust, because he hadn’t needed to.  But he also hadn’t looked at it in what felt like years.  The last time he recalled going over everything, Frigga was in control, explaining things he hadn’t understood.  He knew how to access his personal accounts, and could do a few basic things with them, but he’d never really gone digging through those either.

That was where he started, signing into his bank’s site and getting to the front page of his account.  The numbers looked right, as far as he expected them to.  The last time he had taken anything significant out was when he’d bought his car.  There were little things listed since; little purchases, cash withdrawals, transfers.  Nothing that looked unusual, or that he couldn’t immediately figure out.  There was a savings account he’d known about, but never really looked at, though it didn’t seem right.  The balance was too low to be anything other than an emergency fund.  As he stared at it, Loki realised he had no recollection of ever opening the account, or knowledge of how money made its way there.  And when he went digging through it, finding monthly deposits occurring automatically, he wondered why he’d never even noticed.

He found other accounts he didn’t recall setting up as well, with credit lines and other investments, but still none of them looked like the account he was after.  It all seemed well-managed and looked after, and he was certain he’d have at least been told if there was a problem, but realising suddenly it had all been collecting dust without his knowledge nearly made him ill.  He wondered what else had been done in his name, operating in secret without him ever knowing or understanding.

This was why he kept getting teased over his spending habits, he realised.  It wasn’t just that he didn’t spend much money.  There was money in accounts he didn’t even know existed.  The car had barely made a dent at the end of the day.  He wasn’t being teased for his own spending habits; he was being teased for not spending money like everyone else.

Loki stared at it all, nearly forgetting about his cigarette between his fingers as he tried to work out what he was even looking at.  He understood what each account was individually, but the culmination of all of them, untouched since their initial setup, only brought more questions to the surface.  He became so engrossed in trying to solve this bizarre and unexpected puzzle that he didn’t hear Thor approaching until he slid the door open, making Loki shout and jump so hard it hurt.

“Sorry,” Thor said, carefully sitting down beside him.  “What are you doing out here?  It’s freezing.”

Loki shrugged.  He didn’t care.  He took another drag of his cigarette and tried to remember what it was to feel calm.

“I’m trying to find my damn trust,” he said.

Loki reached for his laptop, tilting the screen to better see it.

“You won’t find it here,” Thor said, letting go and sitting back.  “Dad set them up with HSBC.”

“What?” Loki asked.

He threw his hands into the air and let himself fall back into his seat.  If anybody had ever given him that information, he’d clearly forgotten it.  While he brooded about it, Thor reached for his laptop again and clicked around his accounts.

“Jesus, you really haven’t touched any of this, have you?” Thor said.

Loki shook his head.  “Would it be worth consolidating everything?” he asked, not sure what he was even supposed to do with that many accounts.

“No, leave it,” Thor said.  He poked around in Loki’s finances, frowning at the screen in ways that felt ominous.  “How do you still have this one?  I’d drained mine by my second year of university.”

Loki looked up to see what Thor was looking at, and shook his head.  “What’s it for?” he asked.

Thor looked over at him, and Loki couldn’t tell if it was incredulity or pity written across his face. 

“That was your allowance for school,” he said.  “You know, when you called Mum and asked for more money?  That’s where it came from.”

Loki shook his head again.  “I never asked for money,” he said.  “I didn’t have anything to spend it on.”

“Loki,” Thor said tiredly.  He rubbed his hand over his face in what was now clear exasperation.  “You spent four years at Columbia.  Did you spend the whole time there staring at the wall?”

“I came home on the weekends,” he said.  “My only expenses were meals and gas.”

“Oh, so nothing’s changed,” Thor said.

Loki sighed and turned away from him.

“Thor,” he said, not sure how else to respond.

“Dad said your deal went well.  How much will you be bringing home from that?” Thor asked.

Loki considered simply not answering.  It wasn’t any of Thor’s business what he brought home.

“About one and a half,” he said.

“One and a half?” Thor asked.  “Million?”

Loki nodded, and for a long moment, neither of them said anything.  Thor reached for the laptop again and began clicking through it, slowly shaking his head.

“Loki, you could literally do anything you wanted,” he said.  “Why are you still here?”

Loki looked down at his cigarette before taking another drag from it.  He watched as the smoke billowed and drifted in the breeze, waiting until it cleared to avoid Thor’s question.

“You’re the third person I’ve had this conversation with today,” he said.  “And my answer hasn’t changed.  I like it here.”

“Do you?” Thor asked.  “Truly?  Because I don’t believe you.”

Loki shrugged.  It didn’t matter what Thor believed, because Thor didn’t matter.

“Angela thinks I should go back to Reykjavík.  Sylvie thinks I should move in with her,” Loki said.

“Don’t you fucking dare,” Thor said, a bit too sternly to be joking.

Loki turned to face him, meeting his gaze in the dim light.

“No?” he asked.  “Then what’s your grand advice?  What else haven’t I considered?”

Again, they were both silent as Loki’s question hung in the air between them.  He watched Thor put his thoughts in order, able to see on his face as he considered his each word carefully.

“I’m not going to pretend I didn’t see what I saw tonight,” Thor said.

“I don’t want to talk about this,” Loki said, looking away again.

“Fine.  You don’t have to,” Thor said.  “You can listen to me instead.”

Loki rolled his eyes and tried to stand up, but Thor grabbed him and pulled him back to his seat.

“I don’t know what the hell is going on in your head,” Thor said.  “But I think I’m starting to get a picture.  So before you do anything stupid, I suggest you figure out what’s more important to you, because whatever you do next you won’t be able to take it back.”

With a deep, shaky breath, Loki dared to look over to Thor again.  He hated the look on Thor’s face, like he had any idea what was going on.  Like he had any idea what he had actually seen.

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” Loki said.  “I’m dead as soon as Dad finds out.”

Thor shook his head.  “He won’t,” he said.  “That’s the last thing I’m going to do.  I’m not that heartless.”

Loki shook his head right back.  “I never thought for a second you’d tell him,” he said.

He watched as Thor tried to make sense of his words, and the slow, dawning realisation as he finally got there.

“Why would she say anything?” he asked.

“You don’t know what she’s like,” Loki said.  “Not like I do.  She threw me under the fucking bus today.  She knew what would happen, and she still did it.”

Thor finally let go of him, and Loki could see him once again trying to re-evaluate the situation before him.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

Loki wanted to scream.  He was sick of talking about all of it.

“When she got pulled over for driving like an idiot,” he said.  “In my car, without a license.  First words out of her mouth was telling the fucking cop I’m on probation.”

He watched as Thor shook his head and tried to make sense of the information he had.  He could see another question forming, and braced for it before Thor could even ask.

“Loki, what did I see tonight?” he asked.

“It doesn’t matter.  I don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

What was he supposed to say?  That he hadn’t had the balls to say no properly?  That it wasn’t the first time, and certainly wouldn’t be the last time she’d got what she wanted, because all she had to do was touch his dick to get him to give in?

“Fine,” Thor said.  “You want my advice?  When Mum sets you up with this girl next week, try putting some effort into not being completely fucking weird about it.”

“Thanks,” Loki said flatly, watching as Thor got up and stepped back toward the door.

“Now get inside before your dumb ass freezes to death,” he said.

Loki watched him, unmoving until it became clear Thor was going to stand in the way for the door forever, unless Loki got up as well.

Loki didn’t have an excuse.  Not a single one.  The money was in his bank account.  All he had to do was withdraw a little bit at a time, here and there, until it was all paid back.  It wasn’t even a lot of money.  Not really.  He wouldn’t even miss it, and if not for Odin controlling his account, he easily could have taken it out all at once and not impacted anything.

But he hadn’t done any of that.  He didn’t know why he hadn’t done that, either. 

He also didn’t know why he just sat there on the bench, watching as someone twice his size stomped across the parking lot toward him.  He wasn’t even a kid anymore.  He’d graduated, and was supposed to be going on to Yale or something in just a few weeks.  Loki was surprised he was even still in the area.

And in that surprise, he just watched as his inaction came back to him in the form an Adderall-snorting jock who’d had to buy his GPA from multiple sources.

“Where the fuck’s my money, you Swedish piece of shit?” Brand asked.

“I’m not Swedish,” Loki said, as though that were the biggest problem he faced at the moment.

Brand shoved him hard.  “I don’t care what you are.  You’re gonna take your skinny ass over to that ATM and pay me back.”

Loki looked to where he was pointing.  He could do that.  And then he’d have to explain to Odin why he took out so much money at once, and somehow Odin seemed like the bigger threat.  Brand would be gone in a week, but Loki had to put up with Odin forever.  He’d lied to his parents before, and always seemed to get away with it.  But even though it wasn’t a terribly significant sum, it was still enough that Loki knew he’d need to have something tangible to show for it.

“I don’t have the right card on me,” he said.

He didn’t expect to be punched.  Loki had enough brothers, older and younger, to know how to handle a punch, but this one was different.  The force of it knocked him clean off the bench and onto the ground, and as he slowly sat back up while his friends all laughed around him, he could only focus on making sure nobody saw how badly it hurt.  He tried to figure out if the blood draining down his face was from his nose or his lip, but he could barely keep his eyes open.  Everything hurt, and suddenly hands were on his arms pulling him back up.  He expected another hit, but it was his friends who helped him up.

“How much money do you owe that guy?” someone asked.

Loki shrugged.  “Not that much,” he said.  “He’s just an asshole.”

He suddenly didn’t want to be out with anyone.  He wanted to go home and stick his head in the sand until Brand went off to Yale and was never heard from again. 

Loki looked at the blood on his shirt and made up his mind.

“I’m gonna go home,” he said, getting up.  “Can you guys get back on your own?”

“Yeah, I’ll call my mom,” one of his friends said.

Nodding, Loki stepped out of the shade and into the parking lot, trying to remember where he’d parked relative to where they’d wound up.  Riverhead didn’t have anything like a real mall, so they hung out at the outlets and spent money on stupid shit they didn’t need.  It also meant they’d wandered quite a bit, and so Loki had to wander through the parking lot to find his car.  He cut through lanes and across empty spaces as he tried to find where he’d parked, peering out over rows of packed spaces for his bright blue hatchback.

He didn’t hear tires squealing, or the revving of an engine.  It was the horn that alerted his attention as he crossed the lane.  Loki looked over just in time to see the car speeding toward him.  There was no time to get out of the way; no chance to run or dive away to safety.  Loki barely had the time to recognise what he was seeing, and realise that he needed to do anything at all.

Loki didn’t know what happened after that.  He saw the sky, and then the pavement, and then every nerve in his body was on fire.  Now, the tires were squealing, and people were shouting.  Someone was talking to him, but he could barely breathe, much less respond.  He didn’t even know what they were saying, with everything getting jumbled up in his head over the roar of his own blood in his ears.

Time stopped moving, and for a moment everything went still and silent.  People were touching him, but he couldn’t feel it.  He let himself drift motionless through whatever was happening to him, until slowly, eventually, he wasn’t aware of anything at all.

The next thing Loki was aware of was beeping.  High-pitched, rhythmic beeping in his left ear.  He tried to reach over to turn off his alarm, but he couldn’t lift his hand to do it.  When he tried to complain, he couldn’t even do that.  All that came out was a pained whine, and nothing made sense.  And then Frigga was beside him suddenly, shushing him and petting his hair, and that was all right.

He didn’t even notice falling back asleep.  Suddenly, the room was a little different; the light not quite the same, and the TV was on.  This throat was raw and on fire all at once, and the first time he tried to speak, he choked on the words.  Frigga was there again, shushing him and petting his head, and suddenly he was aware of the way every part of him hurt.

Eventually, he learned it had been a week since he’d gone to the outlets with his friends.  A week since Brand had sucker punched him.  A week since he’d been run down for money he was definitely not paying back now.  And yet, he kept that last part to himself.  No one had got a good look at the car.  Witnesses had named a dozen styles in a dozen colours, and Loki had no intention of correcting the information.  Because somehow, still, Odin was more frightening than anything Brand could have done to him.  Even with the dread of what came next, Odin was still somehow worse.

Sylvie spent every moment she was allowed by his side.  She was there when the doctor decided to use Loki as a pincushion, poking him to make sure he could still feel it.  At once, Loki was annoyed that the doctor wouldn’t stop, but relieved that he could feel it at all.  Sylvie laughed at him and called him a baby, and Loki just wanted her to leave after that.

He didn’t get to go home immediately.  That was the worst part.  He thought he’d be able to go home and get some rest, and take his time getting up and about.  Instead, he was sent somewhere else, where he was the youngest person there by decades.  Most of the people at the new place were old, waiting for the next heart attack or stroke to take them out for good.  They all yelled and screamed at the nurses and aids because nothing was ever done exactly right, or quickly enough, or by the right person.  His parents sat with him for a few hours, but as they left him that first night, Loki became convinced he wasn’t meant to be there.  Even though the painkillers he was on made him tired and slow, he barely managed to sleep.  Somehow, without the constant beeping and humming of a machine next to him, the silence was even worse.  And even with his door closed, he could hear the commotion rising late that first night; a brief flurry of motion just beyond his door, and then nothing.  Silence.  Hushed whispers he could barely even hear, and then once again he was left alone.

It turned out, gossip spread fast in places like that.  The man across the hall died in the night.  Loki wasn’t supposed to know that, but everyone in the building was talking about it.  He died of his cancer, and Loki wasn’t supposed to know about that either.  The old man was on hospice, even though the place Loki was at wasn’t meant to be a hospice centre at all.

He knew all of that, even though he wasn’t supposed to.

And somehow, despite everything, that wasn’t the worst of it.  The worst of it came a few hours later, when a man who seemed entirely too friendly came into Loki’s room.  At first it was just questions, and that was almost okay.  It was distracting, even.  And then the man who seemed entirely too friendly needed him to sit up properly, and everything went downhill from there.  Everything he did after that hurt; every muscle that was tested and motion that was tried resisted and pulled back.  And if it didn’t make him want to scream, it exhausted him.

“It’s all perfectly normal”, he was told.  “Don’t worry about it, you’re doing great.”

Loki didn’t feel great.  He felt like he’d been run through a meat grinder, even though all they did was make sure he’d still have muscles for when he’d finally get to use them again.

He was allowed visitors, but nobody wanted to hang around long.  He felt like the old people waiting to die, alone and forgotten because everyone had better places to be.  Frigga bought him an iPad, and he managed to get it hooked up to his bank card so he could buy books and movies for it.  He remembered a threat he’d made, months earlier while Odin and Frigga prepared for one of their enormous fights.  He found language books, though he wasn’t sure how good they’d be.  Logic told him the most expensive ones were what he needed, and he bought an entire set.

Frigga brought him his homework, for classes he’d never stepped foot in.  A private teacher visited him a few times a week, but Loki didn’t need her.  He had more than enough spare time to get through all of his lessons on his own, and even got ahead on some classes out of sheer boredom.  He worked on his Icelandic, and quickly found he remembered more than he realised, once he started using it again.  Slowly, it even started to get easier to pick up things he’d never learned the first time.

The rest never got easier though.  For weeks, he’d undergone some sort of medieval torture that was supposed to get him back on his feet, literally and figuratively.  Despite begging to go home, he knew why he’d been kept away.  It was easier to keep him away with the new baby taking up so much time, and his grandparents moving in all the way from Reykjavík.  Frigga couldn’t deal with all of that, and take care of him, even with help.  Loki couldn’t even use the bathroom on his own.  Nobody wanted him around.

He thought it was all an exaggerated joke when he was first told he’d have to learn how to walk again.  A funny little jab at his expense.

He fell on his face more times than he cared to count, and nothing about it was funny.

One more neighbour died; an old woman this time.  Her children were there when it happened, and they screamed and shouted at the doctors and nurses to do something; to bring the poor old woman back, despite the fact she was two hundred years old and had half as many ailments.  Even with his door closed, their wailing drowned everything else out.

An old man with dementia escaped.  Loki knew the place he was in wasn’t supposed to take care of people with dementia, but there he was anyway.  He wandered off while other families were coming and going for lunch.  It was hours before anyone noticed he was even missing, and then all hell broke loose.

They found him, but Loki kept wondering what might have happened if they hadn’t.  He had dreams that they’d found the old man in a pond, or that he wandered into the road.  He didn’t even know the man, but for days he consumed Loki’s thoughts.

Several months passed altogether before he was finally allowed to go home, trading a brace for a pair of crutches.  And even though it was the same house, it wasn’t the same home he’d left.  Everything was different, and when Loki locked himself up in his room to get away from the noise and the mess, he was relieved when nobody complained about it.

« || »

Ours to Keep #9

Loki found himself dozing on the ride home, waking occasionally at the flash of a bright light washing over them, or Sylvie fussing with the radio and accidentally turning the volume up instead of changing the station.  He didn’t wake fully again until they stopped off about halfway back to Westhampton to let the engine cool down.  Sylvie nudged him harshly, once again confused because she didn’t know how to kill the engine, and panicking about doing it wrong.  Loki showed her how, and let her take care of the rest.  He sat low in his seat, watching as she topped off the tank and went back inside the service station.  A few minutes later, she came back out with coffee for both of them, and struggled to figure out where to put it once she remembered the car’s lack of cup holders.

“Do you want your pills?” she asked, handing both cups off to Loki.

Loki shook his head.  “No.  I want to take one of my other ones when we get home, and then go to bed.”

He took a sip of his coffee and watched as Sylvie finally got settled.  Again, he helped her get the car started so they could get back on the road, and wondered vaguely if even that much counted as being behind the wheel.  It had been long enough since the restaurant that Loki thought he might be fine to drive, but now it was dark and he’d had to agree not to drive around at night in order to keep his license.  Either way, he was stuck in the passenger seat, having to watch Sylvie struggle to drive his car.

“So, you’re gonna get a real car, right?” Sylvie asked as she found her way back to the highway.

Loki shook his head again and yawned.  “What’s wrong with this one?” he asked.

“Besides being the most impractical thing you could have bought?” Sylvie asked.

She reached over for her coffee, took a quick drink, and handed it back. 

“I looked at other models, but I didn’t like any of them,” he said.  He shrugged, looking out at the highway that stretched on ahead of them.  “I wanted something that wouldn’t look like everything else on the road.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Sylvie said.  “Your car is ridiculous.  I’m about to throw my own back out just trying to steer this fucking thing.”

Loki laughed.  “Sorry,” he said.  “What did you let me drink so much for then?”

Sylvie snorted at him.  Loki wasn’t even sure if he ought to have told Sylvie the rest of the details, but she hadn’t believed him much in the first place.  Somehow, he felt like he’d only get called names again if he told her the rest.  But as he slowly began to wake back up, he realised he was not entirely sober, and that making Sylvie drive all the way back under the pretence of being too drunk had not been entirely a lie.  Instead, he held onto her cup for her, trying to keep track of which one was his, and let her focus on the road.  They both quickly finished their drinks, but without cup holders, both cups made their way to the foot well at Loki’s feet.  He stared at them, annoyed that he’d have to clean them up later.  But as they rode on, he was distracted from empty coffee cups as engine starting to struggle again, choking on gasoline it wasn’t built for.

“You hear that?” Loki asked, pointing up ahead at the massive engine in front of them.  “Throttle back a little bit.  Just a little tap.”

Sylvie shook her head, but did as he said, tapping her fingers against the choke lever beside the steering wheel.

“Little more,” Loki said.

She did it again, and Loki listened as the roar in front of them became a little more balanced.  Nodding, he settled back in his seat again.

“That’s why I don’t have a sound system,” he said.

“What was that?  I don’t even know,” Sylvie asked.

“You almost blew up my car, that’s what,” Loki said.

Sylvie looked over at him, and then shot her attention forward again.  “What, are you serious?  Why are you letting me drive this thing?”

Loki laughed, letting her panic a moment longer.  “You’re fine,” he said.  “It was about to stall on you.  That’s all.”

“Oh my god, you’re such a fucking brat,” Sylvie said.  “Has it been doing that the entire time?  I didn’t even notice.”

“Probably,” Loki said.  “It doesn’t like long drives, and it’s been running constantly today.  You did put Premium in it, right?”

Sylvie grumbled and shook her head.  “Oh for fuck’s sake.  Tomorrow we are going to that lot in town and buying you a car you can actually drive,” she said.

“No,” Loki said.  “I like this car.”

“You’re impossible,” Sylvie said.

While she drove, Loki kept listening to the engine, but it seemed to be behaving for the time being.  He slowly began to drift off again, trying a little harder to stay awake in case the engine started to act up.  As they finally reached their exit off the interstate, Sylvie slowed down a bit more than necessary and nudged Loki hard.

“Do you want to pick something up before we get back?” she asked.

Loki grumbled.  “No, I just want to go to bed,” he said.  “I’m tired and I hurt.”

“Fine,” Sylvie said, as though that were the wrong answer.

They left the interstate behind them as they cruised down the unlit road, trees on either side of them for what might as well have been forever.  Loki sat up a bit more straight, watching the road ahead of them as he realised he couldn’t actually see the trees he knew where there.  And he knew all too well what lurked in those trees, and didn’t want to meet another one.  And if he couldn’t see the trees, anything jumping out at them would be invisible right up until the moment they struck it.  But nothing jumped out at them, and as the trees gave way to open pasture, visible only by the amount of sky that opened up around them, Loki finally let himself relax again.  But without lights along the road, and with the Jaguar’s headlamps recessed and obscured, Loki didn’t notice where they were exactly until it was too late.

“Shit, I think you missed the exit,” he said as he turned around.

“Did I?” Sylvie asked, turning quickly around as well.  “Fuck.  There’s another one, isn’t there?”

Loki thought for a moment.  “Uh.  Yeah, I think.”

The Jaguar had never been taken out at night since coming into his possession, and hadn’t noticed until that moment just how bad its headlamps were.  He’d been told there was a problem with them when he’d bought the car, but they turned on when he wanted them on, and off when he wanted them off, and seemed bright enough.  And it wasn’t as if he thought he’d need them for a while, so the problem had gone forgotten.  But now he understood why he’d been warned.  It wasn’t a mechanical fault with the lights; in fact, they seemed to work perfectly.  Instead, they didn’t actually hit anything.  They shone straight ahead like a laser beam, missing everything important, and only hitting the road far in front of them.

He sat forward again, trying to keep a better watch at what lay ahead.  But as they came to a traffic light out in the middle of nowhere, they both looked around frantically.  If there had been any signs telling them where they were, they went completely unnoticed.

“Is this it?” Sylvie asked, looking down the road to her right.

“I don’t know,” Loki said.  He pulled out his phone and tried to figure it out, but gave up when the map took too long to load.

“Fuck,” Sylvie said.

There was a turn lane next to them, but it seemed to have sprung up out of nowhere, and suddenly all those old movies where someone took a wrong turn going home made a lot more sense.  But as the light turned green, Sylvie stayed on the road they were already heading down, continuing in what ought to have been the right direction, were they able to travel in a straight line.

While the green signs that announced exits were easy to miss, the giant yellow ones announcing the end of the highway stood out in stark clarity, even in the dark.  They both swore as Loki struggled to get the map on his phone to tell him where they were, and as the road narrowed to a single lane, Sylvie slowed even further.  Then, they came to one more stop light where what was left of the highway came to a one-way road, heading in the wrong direction.  Looking around, Loki quickly recognised where they were.

“Oh, fuck.  How the hell did we get here?” he said.

Sylvie started to turn around, but Loki reached out to stop her.

“Hang on, give me a minute,” he said.  “I’m pretty sure this goes to Sunrise.”

He shook his head, trying to think through the fog.  He knew they could get off the highway by the airport, but he equally didn’t trust them to make their exit.  Not after this disaster.  At the same time, taking the back roads seemed even more perilous now.

“Just take it and don’t miss the next exit,” he said.

For a moment, Sylvie seemed like she was going to.  But when the light turned green, she turned all the way around instead, groaning and complaining as she wrestled the car through the sharp U-turn.

“I told you to take the highway,” he said.

“I always take this way,” she said.

“You always turn around right here?” Loki asked.

They headed back toward the first light, and as soon as they turned onto the service road red and blue lights began flashing behind them.

“Fuck,” Loki said, resisting the urge to punch the dash.

“Babe, calm down,” Sylvie said.  She checked her mirrors and found a place to pull over.  “He’s probably figured out that we’re lost is all.”

Loki again showed her how to turn off the engine, trying not to lean forward to point.  This was a disaster.  He covered his face and groaned, not even looking up as he heard the crunch of footsteps over the loose gravel on the shoulder.  When a light shone through his window, Loki only moved to point to Sylvie, driving the car from the wrong side.

“What the hell?” the cop said, bending further to peer inside.

A moment later, he disappeared from Loki’s side and walked around the back and over to Sylvie as she rolled the window down, grunting at the effort of having to use the crank to do it.

“Hi,” she said as the cop once again shone his flashlight in at them.

“We been drinking tonight?” the cop asked.

“He has,” Sylvie said.

Loki still didn’t look up.  He kept his face covered with both hands, praying Sylvie was right, and that they were only pulled over to make sure they weren’t wandering around for hours.

“No seat belts either?” the cop asked.

“Just lap belts,” Sylvie said.

“It’s a sixty-two,” Loki said finally.  “I was told it’s legal.”

He waited to be informed that he’d been told wrong; that he should have had the belts retrofitted before he took it on the road.  Instead the cop only hummed.

“Sixty-two, huh?” the cop asked.  “I guess that would explain the headlights too, wouldn’t it.  This your car, sir?”

Loki nodded, hating Sylvie for being right.  He needed a car that could actually be driven around and taken on long trips into the city.  Not something that was meant to decorate the driveway.

“I’d like to see a license and vehicle registration,” the cop said.

Loki bit back on a curse as he reached between Sylvie’s seat and the centre console for the envelope he kept there, while she started digging through her handbag.  As Loki handed the registration over, Sylvie froze.

“Oh, fuck,” she said breathlessly.

Loki looked up at her.  “What?” he asked.  “What’s wrong?”

Sylvie held her hand over her mouth as she stared down at her license.  After a long moment, she finally handed it over.

“I thought I had another year on it,” she said.

Loki could only stare at her, utterly unable to form words at the scene unfolding in front of him.  The cop nodded slowly as he looked over Sylvie’s license, taking more time than was necessary.  With each passing second, Loki grew closer and closer to panicking.

“Please, it’s not his fault,” Sylvie said.  “My brother’s on probation.  He gave me his keys because he didn’t think he was okay to drive home.  I didn’t know my license is expired.”

The cop hummed quietly.  “Where are you coming from?” he asked.

“Manhattan,” Sylvie said.  “Please don’t put this on him.  He didn’t know.  This isn’t his fault.”

Loki watched as the cop continued to nod and flip the license over as he pretended to think about the situation.  He barely breathed, afraid that if he moved even that much he might scream or explode or have a heart attack right there on the side of the road.

“It expired in December.  You’ve been driving around that long without renewing it?” the cop asked.

Sylvie shook her head.  “I live in Manhattan.  I don’t even have a car.”

“All right,” the cop said, nodding again.  He stood up, taking a long moment to look at the car again.  “Can I see your license, sir?”

Nodding, Loki checked his pockets, before remembering his wallet was in his jacket.  He nudged Sylvie, and a moment later she realised she was still wearing his jacket, and dug through the pockets for his wallet.  She found it, and a moment later pulled his license out and handed it over.  Again, the cop took a suspiciously long moment to look it over, before stepping back from the car.

“Stay right here,” he said.

Loki watched him walk back to his car behind them, wondering if he should start making calls now.

“Babe, I am so sorry,” Sylvie said, turning to him.  “I thought I had another year.”

Her words sparked something in him, as he would not even have been in this situation if not for her insistence in celebrating in the first place.

“What do you mean, it’s expired?” he asked, suddenly finding his voice.  “How’d you get on a fucking plane?”

“I always use my passport when I fly,” Sylvie said.  “That’s what it’s for.”

Loki tangled his fingers in his hair and sunk further into his seat.  “I’m going to jail,” he said.  “I’m going to fucking jail because you couldn’t go to the DMV.”

He stared at the road ahead of them, fighting a rising panic that threatened to consume him.

“Loki, this isn’t your fault,” Sylvie said.  “Come on, you’re not going to jail.  I promise.”

Even as she spoke, Loki barely heard her.  He shook his head, counting down the seconds until the cop came back and arrested him right there on the side of the road.  As the seconds wore on, Loki began to feel like a stone had landed in his belly.  He tried to ignore the taste in his mouth like was about to vomit, and when Sylvie touched him on his arm, he nearly leapt out of his skin.

He looked over at her, and wasn’t sure if he wanted to scream or cry.

“Loki,” Sylvie said again.

Loki shook his head.  He didn’t want to hear it.  He didn’t want to hear her apologies or her excuses or her assurances.  He had done exactly what he was supposed to, and it still had not been good enough.

He heard the cop get out of his car, and watched in the wing mirror as he walked back along the road.  As he reached the Jaguar, he paused for a moment, and then very deliberately made the choice to walk to Loki’s side.  With a deep breath, and trying not to keep himself calm, Loki rolled down his window.

“Step out for me, sir,” the cop said.

Loki looked up to a sky blocked by the canvas roof and took a deep breath before wrestling with the seatbelt.  As he stepped out onto the side of the road, the cop immediately grabbed him by the arm and spun him around.

“You’re not under arrest,” he said.  “I’m detaining you until we get this figured out.”

Loki nodded and bit his lip, not daring make a single sound as he was put in handcuffs.  The metallic ratchet as the cuffs were closed around his wrists sent a spike of terror through him.  He may have been detained, but the next step was having his rights read and everything searched, before being thrown into the back of the cruiser.

“So,” the cop said as he led Loki down to the back of the car.  “Possession, huh?”

Loki nodded, realising a moment later he should actually say something.  “Yeah,” he said, unable to look anywhere but straight ahead.

“Home’s in Westhampton Beach?” the cop asked.

Again, Loki nodded as he drew in a shaky breath.  “Yeah,” he said again.

“All right.  Stay right there.”

The cop left him again and went back to his car.  Loki tried to look anywhere but at the cruiser parked just a few paces away.  He tried to keep himself calm, but he knew what came next, and he wouldn’t survive it.  He’d barely made it through holding in one piece.  Prison would kill him.

He dared to look back at Sylvie, able to see her watching from behind the wheel.  Loki shook his head at her, though he wasn’t sure what information he was trying to convey.  Sylvie shook her head back, and Loki knew she was out of ideas as well.  He had tried to do the right thing; did everything he’d been told he was supposed to do, and it had all been for nothing.  He shifted, and could feel the metal gripping his flesh, and tried not to gasp at it.  He looked up again at the sky, praying for something to fall from it and put him out of his misery.  He didn’t know how he’d managed to fuck up something so basically simple, and yet there he was, handcuffed on the side of the road, waiting for the cop to decide what to do with him.

Loki felt like he was about to weep, and he couldn’t even dry his eyes to hide it because his hands were bound behind his back.  He sniffed loudly, and hoped Sylvie couldn’t hear.

By the time the cop finally stepped out of his car again, Loki had become convinced he was taking his time just to wind him up.  And as he stepped closer, Loki knew in his soul that he was about to hear nothing good.

“So,” the cop said.  “We’ve got a situation here.  A couple, actually.  You can’t be driving at night, and your sister there shouldn’t be driving at all.”

There it was, like a stab through his chest.

“Fuck,” Loki hissed, looking down at the ground.

The cop hummed in agreement.

“I saw something else that seemed a little funny too,” the cop said.  “Maybe you can clear up some confusion I’m having with your birth dates?”

Loki nodded.  “She was born before midnight.  I was born after,” he said.

“Twins?” the cop asked.

Loki nodded.

“Good,” the cop said, nodding.  “I was hoping you’d say something like that.”

He stood with his hands on his hips, clicking his tongue as he looked over the car again.  Then, he sighed and shook his head.

“Damnit,” he said under his breath.  “All right, turn around.”

Loki took a deep breath as he turned, bracing against a search that never came.  Instead, the cop released the cuffs and stepped back.  As he realised what was happening, Loki fought against the urge to voice his relief.  He stayed silent, even as the cop directed him back to the car.  Loki quickly got back into his seat, glancing only briefly to Sylvie as he settled and buckled himself back in.  For a long moment, nobody said anything.  The cop leaned against Loki’s door, tapping his finger against the panelling as he looked out over the road, and then back over the car again.  Loki stayed as still as he could, barely even breathing because he didn’t want to let himself get worked up into some sort of a fit.

“All right,” the cop said finally.  He sighed and stood up.  “I’m gonna do you two a favour because I know you’re trying to keep your brother out of trouble.  I don’t particularly like stitching people up when they’re trying to do the right thing, even though I really should be taking both of you in right now.”

Sylvie nodded.  “Thank you,” she said.

“Don’t thank me yet,” the cop said.  “Because you’re gonna take him straight home, and then you’re going to have to get back to Manhattan in a way that doesn’t involve you driving there.  Got it?”

“I do,” Sylvie said.

“And you,” said the cop, tapping Loki on the shoulder with the envelope that held Loki’s insurance and registration, “need to vet your drivers better if you’re going to keep needing to hand your keys over.  Or better yet, don’t put yourself in any more situations where you need to.”

Loki nodded, unable to even say anything at the reprimand.  A moment later, the cop handed everything back to him.  Loki quickly thumbed through it to put everything back, but found only his own license and paperwork.  Beside him, Sylvie watched and waited, realising a moment after Loki did that her license wasn’t present.  Loki handed his back, and she stared down at it for a moment before picking up his wallet.

“Uhm.  Excuse me?” she asked, leaning down to peer out Loki’s window.  “Where’s mine?”

“It’s expired.  You don’t need it,” the cop said.  “I’m serious.  Straight home.  Now.”

With that, the cop walked back to his car, leaving the two of them to figure out the situation.  Loki focused on putting his paperwork back in its place, while Sylvie hissed and swore quietly beside him.  She jammed Loki’s wallet back into his jacket and then slapped the steering wheel as she looked out at the trees beside them, going silent for a long moment after.

“How do I start this thing again?” she asked finally.

Loki once more showed her how, and watched the cop in the mirror as they pulled back onto the road.  They sat in silence as Sylvie found the right road, and started heading in the right direction to get back to the house.  Sylvie reached out to touch him, persisting even as he tried to shake her off.  Loki kept his attention fixed in the mirrors, watching the road behind them to see if they were being followed.

“Relax,” Sylvie said.  “It was probably the end of his shift and he didn’t want to spend another hour hanging around and filing paperwork.”

Loki knew she was probably right, and then some.  He saw the way the cop kept looking at his car, with it’s long, low front end that made it a pain in the ass to tow.  No doubt he didn’t want to wait around for a flatbed truck to make it out there either.

“He still ran me through his fucking system,” Loki said, keeping his eyes glued to the mirror. 

“So, when we get home, call your probation officer,” Sylvie said.  “Nothing’s going to happen.  I promise.”

Loki nodded.  Again, she was right.  She’d been right all day, about everything else. 

“If he was going to take you in, he would have taken you in,” Sylvie said. 

She moved her hand to squeeze his, but he still didn’t dare look at her.

“He didn’t want to deal with this,” Sylvie said.  “And he won’t want to have to go to court later.  You’ll be fine, I promise.”

They drove down empty roads, through trees and past vacant lots that hadn’t yet been developed, unable to see hardly any of it from the laser focus of the Jaguar’s headlamps.  Loki barely listened to Sylvie’s continued assurances as they made their way back to the island.  He barely noticed when her hand moved instead to his thigh.  He only noticed anything was wrong at all when she took another wrong turn at the pond.

“What are you doing?” he asked, turning to look behind them.

She pulled over and clumsily fussed and fiddled until the engine finally went silent.

“Sylvie, we have to go home,” Loki said, looking straight at her.  “If he comes back—”

“He’s coming back,” Sylvie said as she moved her hand deliberately up his thigh.

“Home,” Loki said.  “I want to go home.”

Sylvie did nothing that would take them home.  Instead, she unbuckled her belt and moved closer to him, until the only thing between them was the centre console.

“Oh come on,” Sylvie said.  “You didn’t think that was even a little bit exciting?”

Loki shook his head, wondering if he should fling himself out of the car and walk the rest of the way.

“No, you fucking psychopath.  What is wrong with you?” he said.

Sylvie found his dick and squeezed her entire hand over it, and for a moment everything froze between them.  Loki stared at her, watching as she tried to find a way to get closer to him.

“I want to go home,” he said, speaking slowly and deliberately so she was sure to understand him.

She began stroking him through his pants, and his damn prick jumped straight up like the greedy traitor it was.

“We’ll be quick,” Sylvie said.

“Fuck,” Loki said.

He gave in, leaning back into his seat to give Sylvie room to do whatever she wanted to get this over with.  But instead of being quick, she continued to lazily stroke him, keeping him hard without giving him any real pleasure.  He endured the agony, keeping his eyes fixed on the canvas roof above him as Sylvie continued to toy with him.  Finally, he could take it no more.  He unfastened his seatbelt and reached to wrench his seat as far back as it would travel, making more room.  Only as he began to unfasten his belt buckle did Sylvie begin to unzip his pants.  She freed him from his shorts, stroking him with her fingers a few more times before trying to bend over the centre console.  As she struggled to lay over it and take him in her mouth, it became more and more obvious by the second that it wasn’t going to happen.

“I hate this fucking car,” she said as she sat up.

She looked up at the roof, leaving barely any room, and sighed.  Shaking her head, she sat up and tried to move over the centre console entirely.

“Jesus, not here.  Fuck,” Loki said.

Before he could stop her, she was already straddling him.  While Loki tried to figure out how to remove himself from this particular situation, Sylvie reached between both of them, hitching up her dress and moving her panties out of the way.  A moment later, she slid herself over him, and any further protest Loki may have been able to make evaporated on his tongue. 

“Ah, fuck,” he said, turning his gaze to stare at her tits as she moved on top of him.

She had to bend over him, keeping them close together as she rode him.  In the tight space, Loki didn’t have much room to let his hands roam, so he planted them on her waist and let her do with him as she pleased.

“You’re gonna get me sent to prison,” Loki said.

Sylvie wrapped her hands around the back of Loki’s neck, pulling against him with her body.

“Then make it worth it,” she said.

He tried to just focus on her; on her body on top of his, and her cunt around his cock, but his thoughts were still filled with their narrow escape only minutes earlier.  He closed his eyes and tried to let himself get lost in her, but even as she rode him, grinding against him with his cock buried deep inside her, he could only feel the icy grip of handcuffs around his wrists.  A flash of light from a car driving through the intersection briefly lit up the car and sent another jolt of panic through him, casting them both in white light before plunging them into darkness once more.

Loki gave up on trying to get anything from this.  This was Sylvie’s insanity, and Loki was simply along for the ride.  As brief sparks of pleasure were overshadowed by everything else, he focused instead on just remaining present and leaned back in his seat.

“You said you’d be quick.  Hurry up,” he said.

She began to slow down, keeping him buried inside her while she played out whatever demented scenario had popped into her head.

“And I said make it worth it,” she said.

Loki groaned, and considered just pushing her off of him and getting out.  “Fuck off,” he said.

Sylvie pressed her body against his, holding her tits against his face as she slowly, languidly rode him.

“Fuck me,” she said.  “Come on, don’t just sit there.”

Loki grumbled and shifted, forcing himself to move with her.  She gasped out, arching against him as she grabbed his shirt collar in both her hands.

“Why are you like this?” Loki asked, annoyed at her for messing up his shirt, and with himself for caring right at that moment.

She slowed down again, and Loki wanted to scream.  This was the last place he wanted to be, and yet there he was, getting fucked by his sister on the side of the road while the police prowled around no doubt keeping an eye out for them. 

“Hurry up,” he said again, rising to an impatient growl as she continued to toy with him.  He was already starting to flag, wanting less to do with this the longer she dragged it on.

Sylvie sighed, having the audacity to be annoyed with him.  “Fine,” she said.

She moved her hands to his shoulders and shifted on top of him, finding a place for her knees before finally fucking him properly.  Loki tried to focus on anything he could that might keep him hard, so she could get off quickly and be done with him, but he could hear her frustration as he struggled to keep it up.

He heard it a second before it happened; the door latch opening beside him, before the whole thing was flung open.  Sylvie shrieked loudly above him, struggling to move back to the driver’s seat, as Loki was pulled from the car and thrown onto the ground.  Loki struggled to put himself back together as his mind raced for any excuse that might get him out of trouble this time, but when he looked up, the trouble was much worse than he’d expected.

It wasn’t a pissed off cop that stared down at him. 

It was Thor.

Sylvie cried the entire drive home.  They didn’t go to the clinic in Riverhead, because Sylvie didn’t want to risk being seen.  Instead, they went all the way out to Patchouge, and spent their entire Saturday in a terrifying clinic, answering terrifying questions, under the terrifying gaze of strangers who could have known anyone from anywhere.  Sylvie answered questions Loki didn’t understand, and he tried not to listen too hard to make it seem like he was only there because he alone was the only person Sylvie could trust with this.  He tried to play the role of the squicked out brother, not wanting to know anything about his sister’s body, or what she got up to.  And then they started talking about putting things inside her body, and Loki had to try very hard to ignore the conversation. 

The nurse asked questions, trying to make things not as mind-numbingly scary as they were.  She asked about Loki, and that was the first time in almost a week Loki saw Sylvie smile.  Her twin brother, younger by a day.  Sylvie always loved pointing that out, even if it wasn’t strictly true.  Loki squirmed awkwardly in his seat at that, praying it didn’t somehow give them away—whether that meant giving away who the father of Sylvie’s baby was, or whether it meant somehow word getting back to Westhampton Beach and their parents.  Everyone they ever met was always so surprised that they didn’t share a birthday that Loki knew somehow, this would make its way back home.

Eighteen weeks, the lady with the scary machine said.  The machine that needed slime in order to operate.  He didn’t understand what that was all about, but he understood eighteen weeks.  He understood eighteen weeks with perfect clarity.  It didn’t matter whether he believed Sylvie or not when she said she wasn’t fucking anyone else.  Because he knew exactly where he was eighteen weeks earlier, scared and excited and seeing all of that mirrored back on Sylvie’s face, lying beneath him in his bed as everything suddenly went very wrong and very right all at once.  And he wasn’t sure what was worse; that he was glad she hadn’t lied to him, or that he was sad and pathetic enough to remember the day he lost his virginity to his twin sister.

Loki had been allowed to go in with her when she was taken back to see a doctor, and he’d immediately wished he hadn’t.  He didn’t know what he’d expected to see.  Blood, maybe.  A lot of blood.  But there wasn’t any.  He expected a lot of screaming, but there wasn’t anything like that either.  Though Sylvie was awake, she was barely present.  Loki held her hand and looked anywhere but at the people performing the procedure.  And almost just like that, they were done.  It hadn’t been the hours-long ordeal Loki had expected.  There was no drama or excitement.  It had taken barely a half hour.  Then, they went somewhere else quiet while they waited for Sylvie to wake back up properly. 

When they were finally allowed to leave, they were sent on their way with all sorts of terrifying instructions Loki wasn’t sure they’d be able to keep secret.  He’d had to stop at a pharmacy to pick some things up for her, and still wasn’t sure he’d got everything he was supposed to.  But she just looked at it, and said it was fine.

Smuggling it all inside was as easy as stuffing it into his backpack.  Together, they went back to Sylvie’s room, and he sat on the edge of the bed and could only watch as she immediately curled up beneath the covers. 

“Do you want me to go?” he asked after a moment.

Sylvie shook her head.  “No,” she said.  “Stay with me, please.”

After a long moment, Loki took off his shoes and settled on the bed beside her, on top of the covers.  He picked up the remote from her night stand and turned on the television, having no idea what else to do.  So many things had been said, and Loki didn’t understand any of it.  Somehow, whenever Sylvie was involved, situations arose that made Loki feel even more small and stupid than ever. 

“What was that thing they were talking about?” Loki asked after a long moment.

Sylvie didn’t answer him right away, and at first Loki thought she didn’t hear.

“What thing?” she asked finally.

“The IUD?” Sylvie asked.  “It’s supposed to stop this from happening again.”

“Again?” Loki asked.

He looked over at her, certain she must have meant something else.  Because there was no way in hell she intended to keep going as they were.  Not when they had so barely avoided disaster.

“I don’t think we should keep doing that,” he said.

Sylvie sighed, long and drawn out.  “You’re going to do this to me now?” she asked.

“When else?” Loki asked.  “I’m serious.  I don’t want to do it anymore.”

“God, you’re such an asshole,” Sylvie said.

Even with her back to him, Loki could hear her sneering at him.  Loki ignored her, and started flipping through channels to give his fingers something to do.  He didn’t hear Frigga walking down the hall until she was already in the doorway, looking in at them both.

“What are you two doing?” she asked.

Sylvie groaned lowly, making it clear that she wasn’t going to be any help at all.

“We went to Riverhead,” Loki said.  “We had clams for lunch and then she got sick.”

“Oh,” Frigga said.  She scrunched up her face as she tried to peer past Loki to Sylvie.  “Do you need anything, dear?”

“No,” Sylvie said.  “I just wanna take a nap.”

“All right,” Frigga said.  She shifted her attention toward Loki and wiggled her fingers at him.  “Come on, leave her be.”

Loki got up, grabbing his shoes on the way to the door.

“Your brother wants to go find sea shells for school,” Frigga said, leading Loki out of Sylvie’s room.  “Why don’t you go help him?”

“Fine,” Loki said, wanting to do anything but go help Balder collect sea shells.

As he stopped at the stairs to put his shoes back on, Loki realised that Hermod had also been roped into this scheme.  He looked up as Balder and Hermod got ready to head out to the beach, and waited for an explanation.

“They’re about to fight,” Hermod said, looking up at the landing above.  “Must be a big one if she wants us out of the house.”

Loki looked up as well.  “I’m gonna learn Icelandic again just so I can know what they keep screaming about.”

“I never learned any at all,” Balder said.

Sighing, Loki stood up, wondering if Frigga and Odin were truly waiting for them to leave.  “Well, let’s go,” he said.

The other two followed him across the foyer and through the sitting room to the deck.

“When they get divorced, who are you gonna live with?” Hermod asked.

Loki shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Sylvie always liked Dad better, so him probably.”

« || »

Ours to Keep #8

Loki stood in front of the mirror, making sure his tie was straight.  The suit he’d left behind at her place wasn’t amongst his best, but it was a suit, and he wouldn’t look like a fool wearing it in public.  With his tie as straight as it was going to get, he moved to his hair, trying to fluff it out with his fingers while he figured out what he wanted to do with it.

“What do you think?” he asked.  “Hair up or down?”

Sylvie was quiet for a moment while she watched him.

“Pony tail,” she said.

She stepped over to him, handing him a small blue velvet box.  For a moment, Loki didn’t understand what it was.  Then, as he opened it, he couldn’t decide if he was annoyed or relieved.

“I’ve been looking for these for months,” he said, taking the cuff links out.  “This is my favourite pair.  Why have you had them?”

He liked them because they were understated; stainless steel, rather than sterling that would tarnish and need constant care, with a round black onyx stone as the focal piece.

“You left them here after our birthday,” Sylvie said.

Loki fit them into his cuffs, still annoyed that he’d left them.  “Why didn’t you give them to me last time I was in town?” he asked.

“Because that was the last time you came out here,” Sylvie said.

“No.”  Loki shook his head, certain he’d been back since.  “Because Zelma broke up with me right on her doorstep.  I was obviously here for that.”

Sylvie laughed and slipped the box for Loki’s cuff links into his jacket pocket.

“Yeah,” she said.  “Two days before our birthday, because you left your phone unlocked and she got an eyeful of my pussy.  Remember?”

“No,” he said again.  He didn’t remember it happening as Sylvie said, but he also couldn’t remember how it had gone.  “I came out here, and then…”

For a moment, the timeline was blank.  He couldn’t fit the pieces together, until suddenly they all fell into place at once.

“You went to Hawaii for Christmas,” he said, feeling as though the memory had been completely erased until that moment.  “I forgot about that.  And then New Year, I crashed.”

Sylvie hummed and nodded.  “And I had to find out about it at one in the morning, in a bar in Honolulu.  By the time I got back here, you were already at home in bed.”

Loki shrugged and fussed with his cuff links again, trying to get everything settled and straight.  As he settled his cuffs over his wrists, he frowned at his watch band peeking out.

“I didn’t leave a better watch here, did I?” he asked.

“Nope,” Sylvie said.  “You’re the idiot who bought a bright green smart watch.”

“I like green,” Loki said, trying to convince his sleeves to hide the garish band that suddenly felt extremely cheap, and not at all like it had cost $800.  “And I broke Patek in the crash.”

“The one Daddy gave you when you got your first contract?” Sylvie asked.

“Yes,” Loki said bitterly.

He had half a dozen other watches he could have worn, but cheap as it was, he liked the smart watch.  Except for right that moment, when its bright green band stood out against everything else he was wearing. 

“Okay,” Sylvie said. 

She stepped back and sat down on the edge of the bed, watching him for a long moment.  For a moment, Loki wasn’t sure what she was trying to insinuate or imply, and just when he’d given up getting an answer, she started speaking again.

“I have to know what actually happened,” she said.  “No bullshit this time.  What happened on New Year, and what did Daddy have to do to keep you on the road?”

Loki looked at her in the mirror, shrugging and shaking his head.  “No bullshit,” he said.  “There was a deer.  I panicked.”

“Because you were high?” Sylvie asked.

Loki held her gaze in the mirror.  “One bump,” he said.  “I was at the party maybe an hour, and I didn’t even want to be there.”

“And you really tried to walk home after?” Sylvie asked.  “After you rolled and hit a tree?  Because sober people do that?”

He couldn’t stop the rueful laugh that came forward as he turned to face her properly.  “I was too busy worried about the damn thing catching fire,” he said.  “My thoughts were to get out and get far the fuck away from it.  Someone must have called it in, because that’s the one thing I don’t remember doing.”

Sylvie nodded slowly and bit her lip.  “All right,” she said after a moment.  “What happened at the hospital?”

Loki shook his head again.  “Spent the night in Riverhead.  Everyone was so worried about my head that I forgot about my back until a day later.”

He laughed again, seeing the stupidity of it now.  Sylvie didn’t seem to find it very funny at all.

“I don’t imagine flying off the road did you any favours there,” she said.

“No, I don’t think it did,” Loki agreed.  He shrugged and leaned against Sylvie’s dresser.  “First day was stiff and annoying more than anything.  Second day was the pain.  Third day was terrifying.”

That was the day he’d fallen down the stairs and went back to the hospital.  He was still nervous around the stairs sometimes.

“What did they say about it?” Sylvie asked.

“Nothing,” Loki said, shaking his head.  “Gave me a shot in the ass and sent me home.  Mum wanted them to keep me, but they tossed me out as soon as they could.”

Sylvie nodded slowly.  “I remember you going to court, but nobody ever told me what happened.”

“Noting, really,” Loki said.  “Dad knew the judge.  They go golfing together.  I guess it wasn’t worth changing the venue over though.”

He turned and picked up a hair tie from Sylvie’s dresser.  Looking at himself in the mirror, he combed his fingers through his hair to get it where he wanted it.

“I paid the fine, and the drug charge stays off my record if I stay out of trouble for a year,” he said.  “DWI was sealed as soon as I paid it.  But if I get so much as a parking ticket, I’m spending a year in jail.  Dad convinced them that I need my license to do my job.”

He thought about what Angela had said earlier, about Odin making sure Loki had options if he wanted to pursue them, but he still couldn’t see any options that would be worth throwing away everything he already had.  Odin had made sure he didn’t have to explain away an embarrassing situation to future business partners.  That’s all it was, and Loki knew it.

“Who taught you how to lie?” Sylvie asked.  “You’re terrible at it.”

Loki shook his head.  “You did,” he said. 

He struggled to pull his hair back into a tail, making sure everything was clean and smooth before turning around.  As soon as he did, Sylvie stood and stepped close to him, reaching up to mess with his work.  She pulled a few strands loose from the front, letting them hang down over his face so he had to brush them out of the way.

“It looks better when you make it look like you don’t care,” she said.

“Is that what you think?” Loki asked, turning to look back to the mirror.

“I do.” 

Sylvie raised herself onto her toes to steal a quick kiss before she turned to finish getting ready.  Peering into the mirror, Loki fussed with his hair a bit more before fetching his jacket from where it had been laid out on the bed.  He slid into it carefully, making sure everything was settled correctly, before buttoning it at the middle.

“Where would the lady like to eat?” Loki asked.

Sylvie slipped into her shoes, and did a terrible job at pretending to think about his question.

“What about that place we went for Mummy and Daddy’s anniversary last year?” she asked.

Loki thought he remembered it.  “Midtown?” he asked.

Sylvie nodded.  “Yeah.  It had oars between the bar and the tables, I think.”

Loki looked at his watch, unsure how much time it would take them to get there.  “All right,” he said as he pulled his phone from his discarded jeans.  “I’ll call ahead.  Do you remember what it was called?”

“Ocean something,” Sylvie said, doing the worst job at pretending she didn’t know.

Loki rolled his eyes and looked it up for himself.  While he said the right phrases and dropped the right names to get them on the list, Sylvie bustled about around him, quickly gathering all of his things and packing them into a small bag.  Loki watched her, craning to try to catch a glimpse beneath the hem of the very short dress she wore, each time she bent to pick something up.  But she was good at teasing him, and never let anything show no matter how far she bent over.

“You’d better appreciate everything I do for you,” he said as he slid his phone into his pocket.

Sylvie smiled wickedly at him as she handed over the bag.  “Yeah?  How many other women have let you get away with even half the shit you try to pull?”

She walked out of the room, leaving Loki to check to make sure he had everything.  Finding nothing left behind, he followed her out to the front room and dropped his bag onto the sofa.

“What kind of shit do I pull?” he asked, crowding her against the door.

Sylvie looked up at him, holding his gaze as she reached to stroke his dick through his pants.

“Behave,” she said.  “We don’t want to be late.”

She slipped away, leaving him standing half-hard while she gathered up her own things, transferring everything to a small clutch handbag. 

“Don’t leave your bag,” she said, pointing.

Loki grumbled lowly as he turned to fetch it, shifting to adjust himself within his pants.  Once he had everything, he turned to find Sylvie waiting in the door, holding it open.

“I don’t know how you live out here,” Loki said as he stepped into the hall.  “How many times have you had a break-in?”

“Nobody’s broken in,” Sylvie said.

Her building was clean and well-maintained, unlike the image Loki frequently got from television, but he still couldn’t quite shake the concept of a stranger rattling around just on the other side of a wall.  Even at home, the only person he directly shared a wall with was Sylvie; his room and Thor’s had a buffer between them in the form of a pair of bathrooms.  But this, in a building with so many people breathing the same air, able to see straight into Sylvie’s front room if they felt so inclined to lean over and look, made Loki’s skin crawl.

“You should move back home,” he said.  “Or at least back to the area.”

“No,” Sylvie said.  “I moved out here because I wanted to get away from all that.”

She locked up, turning keys in locks that did not seem plentiful enough, and led Loki back to the elevator.

“Loki, you need to move out,” she said.  “Even if it is just into town.  Daddy would even pay for it, I bet.  He’d buy you a real nice place if you just asked.”

Loki groaned.  “Seriously, you too?”

“Loki,” Sylvie said again as she crowded Loki into the elevator.  “You get too much attention.  Which is fine if you’re eight.  But people look at you, and they wonder why you suck at dating, and why you haven’t moved out, and why you never finished your degree.  And now they’re looking to see how you’re going to fuck up next, and you keep giving them more things to look for.”

Loki stared down at her, feeling suddenly trapped in a conversation he’d managed to open up.

“Nobody cares that much,” he said, stubbornly ignoring the fact that Odin had taken to searching his room for drugs.

“That gross uncle sure seems to care,” Sylvie said.

“So?” Loki asked, shrugged.  “In two days he’ll be back across the Atlantic and we’ll never have to see him again.”

Sylvie sighed and shook her head.  “And if he gets other people looking?” she asked.

The elevator reached the bottom, and Loki all but ran to get away from it.  “So what?” he asked again.  “I don’t care.”

“You should,” Sylvie said.  “You should care, because appearance is everything, and you look like someone who couldn’t tie his own shoes without Mummy still around.”

Loki shook his head, trying to ignore her as he walked back out to the street.

“Is it true they still pay for your phone too?” Sylvie asked.  “You can afford two hundred bucks a month, Loki.”

“I don’t know how!” he snapped, turning toward her. 

Suddenly, he felt very stupid and exposed out there on the sidewalk, hating the way Sylvie’s expression shifted between confusion and pity.

“For real?” she asked after a few moments.

With a deep breath, Loki turned and strode back to his car.  His teeth hurt from how hard he clenched his jaw as he opened the boot and tossed his things inside.

“I know there’s an app.  I got that far,” he said as he slammed the lid shut.

He couldn’t even look at Sylvie as he walked around to get behind the wheel.  He kept his gaze averted as she got in next to him.  He kept his gaze fixed forward as he slotted his key into its place on the dash panel and jammed his finger against the starter.

“Babe,” Sylvie said, reaching out to touch his arm.  “Are you being serious right now?  You spent four years at Columbia.  You lived in the dorms.  What do you mean you don’t know how?”

Loki shrugged as he pulled out onto the street.  “And I never went anywhere except class and back home for the weekends,” he said.  “It all came out of my trust, and Mum took care of that.  I had nothing to do with it.”

He’d been terrified of going anywhere.  He went back home every chance he got, because even in the dorms where he was supposed to be safe, Loki had never once felt safe.  People everywhere, up in his business, doing exactly what Sylvie said they did.  Too many people looking at him, watching and waiting for him to fuck something up.  He didn’t think he could handle another three years, and then Odin came at him with an offer and that was that.  The matter settled.  Loki had his Masters and that was good enough.

And now Sylvie had gone and needled and pushed him, and he was stuck trying to navigate Manhattan traffic while already feeling like he might explode.

“Come stay with me for a while,” Sylvie said.  “We’ll tell everyone you’re trying to find a place and want to be closer so you don’t have to drive back and forth.”

Loki shook his head.  “I’d rather not,” he said.

“I know you’d rather not,” Sylvie said.  “But what are you going to do?  Creep around that big old house until you inherit it?  Then what?  Do you know how to pay property tax?  Inheritance tax?  What if you need to call a plumber?  Do you know how to do that?”

Loki didn’t answer.  He breathed deeply, keeping his gaze on the road ahead, and the traffic buzzing and muscling around him.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“Midtown,” Sylvie said.  She pulled out her phone and hummed quietly as she looked the place up.  “Fiftysecond.”

Loki didn’t respond.  His nerves were too frayed and raw from the entire day’s events, and all he could do was focus on getting across the city without getting killed.

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t know,” Sylvie said after a long moment.  “But it’s fixable, and nobody else needs to know.  We’re pretty good at secrets.  We can keep another one.”

Loki took another deep breath and looked for street signs that might tell him how far away they were from the restaurant. 

“But why don’t we do that?” Sylvie said.  “Give it a couple weeks, and then come stay with me.  Get a few eyes off you, if nothing else.”

For a long moment, Loki didn’t respond.  And on a very base level, he knew she was right.  Odin wanted him out as it was, and Frigga would only be able to stall for so long.  Eventually, he’d find himself shoved out the front door without the first clue as to what to do next.

“Fine,” he said with a tired sigh.  “After this deal hits my account.  I’ll have something to spend then.”

Sylvie nodded.  “Okay,” she said.  “How long does that take?”

Loki shrugged.  “Couple weeks?  Maybe a month?” he said.  “It depends on how long it takes everyone to agree on all the terms and for money to come out of escrow.”

“We don’t have to start looking right away,” Sylvie said.  “I think the first thing we should do is get the phone and car in your name.”

“The car is in my name,” Loki said, tired of having to mount the same defense over and over again.  “I paid for the car.  It’s mine.”

“I—”  Sylvie took a deep breath of her own, and again rested her hand on Loki’s arm.  “But Daddy pays for the insurance, right?”

Annoyed, Loki nodded.  “I don’t even know how much it costs,” he said.

He knew it wasn’t cheap, because Odin had bitched at him many times already about it.  But despite his bitching, never once was the idea of making Loki pay for it himself brought up.  Odin complained and lamented, but never seemed to do anything about it either.  As far as Loki was concerned, Odin must not have cared too much about it, and only complained to hear himself speak.

“What do you pay for?” Sylvie asked.

Loki shrugged.  “Little things,” he said.  “My credit cards come right out of my account and I don’t know who set that up.”

“Drugs?” Sylvie asked.

“Not lately,” Loki said.  “But yes, I know how to pay for that.”

“Well, it’s a start,” Sylvie said.

She moved her hand from his arm down to his thigh, trying to sit close to him within the confines of the Jaguar’s bucket seats. 

“You did real good today,” she said.  “I’ve never seen you work before.  I’ve always wondered what you did.”

“It doesn’t usually go like that,” Loki said.  “Normally there’s weeks of negotiation, and veiled threats, and offers and counter offers and counter-counter offers…”

He shook his head, still slightly unnerved from the whole thing.  The more he thought about it, the more he realised it was likely to fall through, and that the stress of it all would have been for nought.

“Well,” Sylvie said.  “I thought it was hot as hell.”

She squeezed his thigh, and Loki tried to let himself enjoy it.  He tried to focus on what she was saying now, rather than what had already been said, but words couldn’t be unspoken and unheard.  And with it all rattling about through his mind, all Loki could think about was how little he could do for himself.  Even his job, which Sylvie so readily praised, came from Odin; a gift to get him out of having to follow through on a choice he’d made at eighteen.  Loki liked the work, and he was good at it, but at the moment he remained acutely aware that he hadn’t actually earned any of it.

“You know, Angela told me to go back to Reykjavík?” Loki said.

Sylvie looked over at him in unveiled confusion.  “Why the hell would she say that?” she asked.

“She thinks I need to start over where nobody knows me,” he said.

“Nobody would know you in the city,” Sylvie said.  “Start over here.”

Loki dared to glance over to her.  “You would,” he said.  He shrugged and spent another moment trying to work out where he was.  “I’ve been trying to figure out what she meant by that all day.”

“Yeah, that’s weird,” Sylvie said.

He wondered if she’d meant that he should go somewhere he couldn’t get by on his father’s name.  He didn’t think Odin was terribly well-known back home, but the rest of the family was downright infamous.  He couldn’t see how going back there would be an escape from anything, especially once people took five minutes to work backwards to the rest of the family.  If anything, the connection would only hurt him.

At least in New York, he had nepotism, rather than a giant black spot.

“And Thor says Mum wants to set me up with someone again,” Loki said.  “Probably another psychotic horse girl with half a dozen DWIs and a shoplifting habit.”

“And one DWI and a suspended coke sentence is any better?” Sylvie asked.

“Shut all the way up,” Loki said.

“God, I can see it now,” Sylvie said.  “Two dozen horses, a bunch of cars that are too expensive to put on the road.  Imagine the kids you’d make.”

Loki grumbled.  “I hate all of you,” he said.

Sylvie laughed and unlocked her phone again.  With her guiding him through turns and intersections, they found the restaurant down below Central Park.  Once more, he had to deal with parking structures and fees, and then the hassle of finding the place in the maze of construction scaffolding that lined the street.  But once they got through the door, Loki remembered why Sylvie had picked the place.  They were led upstairs to a table near the window that overlooked the street below, but that wasn’t the view that particularly held Loki’s attention.  He watched as the waiter helped Sylvie settle in across from him, and realised suddenly how much he’d missed just this.  The last time they had been able to go out together, without anyone hovering over them was for their birthday.  Since then, they’d only been able to very occasionally sneak around, stealing moments together when no one was looking.

Annoyingly, she was right, yet again.  If he came out and stayed with her, they wouldn’t have to sneak around the shadows, waiting for the right moment.  They could go out in public without gossip making its way back home, and without people stopping to chat them up.

They could simply be; get on with their lives without any interruption.

Loki watched as the waiter settled them with their menus before wandering off.

“What will I need?” he asked.

Sylvie picked the menus up and passed one across to Loki.  “What do you mean?” she asked.

“When I come out here.  If you were serious about that,” he said.

The menu was simple and too the point, and still Loki felt somewhat overwhelmed by it.  Maybe Sylvie was right about a lot of things.

“Oh,” she said.  She shook her head and shrugged.  “Bank stuff, all your documents.  We can probably get the phone in your name after everyone leaves.  I bet that would put Daddy in a good mood.”

Loki nodded.  He didn’t want to do any of it, but he knew Sylvie wouldn’t put up with him hanging around if he didn’t. 

“Have you got all your naturalisation stuff in order?” Sylvie asked.

Loki nearly dropped the menu as he looked up at her, suddenly so tight in the chest he could barely breathe.

“My what?” he asked, feeling like he’d just been slapped in the face.

But as he shook his head, utterly lost and confused, Sylvie covered her mouth and reached for his hand.

“Honey, I’m sorry,” she said quickly.  “It was a bad joke.  Mummy and Daddy took care of that years ago.”

Loki shook his head and looked away, anywhere that wasn’t at Sylvie.  He watched the street traffic below, in the last fading light of the evening, and tried not to feel like the victim of a very bad prank.

“I have one condition,” he said, returning his attention to the menu.

“Oh, now you’re getting serious about it,” Sylvie said.  “I’m sorry.  Go on.”

She looked up at him, and he wondered if she knew what was coming.  He wondered if she could see the stab of jealousy that quickly shot through him.

“Just us,” he said.  “At least until I find a place.  I can’t…”

He shook his head, unable to even say it.  He knew she slept with other people.  It was part of the deal, just like he was supposed to date and sleep around for appearance’s sake.  But knowing was different than seeing.

“I won’t make you share,” Sylvie said after a moment.  “It can be just us.”

Loki nodded.  “I’d like that,” he said.

“Besides,” Sylvie said.  “Guys might find it awkward to come over when my little brother’s hanging around.”

Grumbling quietly, Loki rolled his eyes.  “Six hours,” he said.

“And a day late,” Sylvie said smugly.

“You’re the worst,” Loki said.

She kicked him gently beneath the table, still giving him that smug little smile she liked to wear.  Loki kicked her back, not sure what else to do.

They ordered, and Sylvie bitched about his choice of entrée not being big enough, and he made up for it with one too many cocktails.  And when Sylvie razzed him about that, he ordered more just to piss her off.  It was a fantastic plan, right up until it came time to stand up, and suddenly the floor did not want to be directly beneath him.

“Oh, shit,” he muttered as he reached for his chair, riding that wave until he finally managed to regain his balance.

“You okay?” Sylvie asked as she gathered up her handbag.

Loki nodded.  “Celebrated a bit too hard, I think,” he said.  “Can you drive stick?”

“Daddy insisted, remember?” Sylvie said.

Loki pulled his keys from his pocket and handed them over.  “Good,” he said.

She looked at his keys for a moment, before stepping close to lean against him.  Loki checked to make sure he had everything else on him, and then checked again because he didn’t quite trust himself.  Together, they walked out of the restaurant and back onto the sidewalk, which had grown quite cool since the sun went down.

“Damn, I should have brought a coat,” Sylvie said, trying to worm her way under Loki’s.

With a deep sigh, Loki took his jacket off and handed it over.  Once Sylvie was securely nestled in his jacket, the two of them began the brief walk to the parking garage.  As they got to the car, Loki stood for a moment, staring at it with its top down.  Driving around town for a few minutes at a time, and then parking it in the garage meant there was no problem at all with the top being down.  But now it was dark and cold, and they had a two-hour drive ahead of them, and the top being down was simply unacceptable.

“Fuck,” he said.  “Give me a minute.”

He fussed around, freeing the roof from beneath its cover.  As he unfolded it, Loki paid careful attention to how he moved the frame, not trusting the canvas to stay in one piece as he stretched it.  He cringed as he settled everything in place, and didn’t feel at all confident until he got inside and secured the latches to hold the roof down.

Once he was in his seat, sitting on the wrong side of the car for a passenger, he took a deep breath and realised how much the day was quickly catching up with him.

“Why don’t we just go back to my place?” Sylvie asked as she got behind the massive wheel.

Loki thought about it.  He thought real hard about it.  And then he thought about her bed, hard and a bit small for two people, and he shook his head.

“I just want to go home and sleep in my own bed,” he said.

He reached for his pocket, but his pills were in the trunk, and he didn’t want to try to go through the hassle of eating one dry.  Instead, he fussed with the seatbelt and waited for Sylvie to get everything started.  She got as far as slotting the key into the dash, and then froze.

“What am I doing wrong?” she asked.

Loki looked up, and a moment later remembered that his car was an antique.  He reached over her to set the choke and fire the ignition, before sitting back and walking her through the rest.  Before she pulled out of the spot, Sylvie bent and twisted, pulling her shoes off.  As she handed them over to Loki, and he dropped them into the foot well in front of him, she finally pulled out of the spot.  He let her navigate the garage, and the hassle of getting out, simply enjoying being drunk and not having to do anything.

“Oh my god,” Sylvie complained as she pulled out of the space.

Loki laughed quietly.  “Sorry, I should have warned you,” he said.  “No power brakes either.”

“God, forget the gym,” Sylvie said.

She wasn’t wrong though.  Even as she struggled to turn the wheel to get around tight corners, Loki laughed only because he knew exactly how hard it was.  Driving around town was a work out; taking it on the freeway was hell.

“You sure you want to go all the way back?  Make me drive this thing that far?” she asked as they neared the street.  “Last chance.”

Loki nodded.  “If I sleep in your bed, I’m not going to be able to get up tomorrow,” he said.

“Oh, yeah?  Is that a promise?” Sylvie asked.

“It’s a threat,” he said.  “Unless you want to help me get to the bathroom in the morning.”

She shook her head.  “Back home it is,” she said as she pulled into traffic.

Usually, Loki had to go find Sylvie after school, but she was already waiting for him at his locker when he got there.  At first, he was surprised to see her at all, but as he tried to get in to put his books away, and grab out the ones he’d need for homework, Sylvie got in his way.

“Loki, come on.  We have to go,” she said, tugging on his wrist.

Loki looked at her, trying to get past her to open his locker.  “Okay,” he said.  “Can I take thirty seconds to get my books?”

Sighing, Sylvie stepped out of the way.  Something was wrong, and Loki knew not to piss her off by taking his time.  He got into his locker and swapped out the books he needed, stuffing them into his bag.  With his locker closed, he barely had time to turn to face Sylvie again before she grabbed him by the wrist and began dragging him along the hall.

“What is wrong?” he asked, trying to pry himself out of her grip.

Other kids were watching them, but Loki pretended he didn’t notice how weird they were both acting.

“Not here,” Sylvie said.

Loki’s mind raced, trying to figure out what Sylvie might have known that he didn’t.  Their parents had been fighting an awful lot lately, and with Frigga pregnant again, their fighting was only getting worse.  Maybe they were getting divorced, and they’d all have to figure out which parent they wanted to live with.  That was the thought that wedged itself into Loki’s mind and ate at him as they rushed through the halls.

They made it out to his car in the parking lot, and he got it unlocked for them to get in, still with no more information.  Once they were both safely shut inside, away from any listening ears, Loki watched Sylvie, waiting for her to say what needed to be said.  But as she continued to say nothing, his nerves only grew more frayed.

“Sylvie, what’s wrong?” he asked.

She took a deep breath, and for a moment Loki thought she was going to cry.

“Loki, I think I’m pregnant,” she said finally, staring down in the foot well.

Loki tried to leap away out of his seat, but was trapped by the door.  He stared at her, praying for her to say it was just a joke.  But she didn’t.  Instead, she looked even more like she was about to cry, her face twisting up as she closed her eyes tightly.

“How do you know?” Loki asked.

His mind raced back to the week before in the woods, when he thought he’d come inside her.  He didn’t know it worked that quickly, but Sylvie was sitting in the seat next to him barely holding herself together.  And she wasn’t that good of an actor.

Slowly, she took a deep breath, but she still couldn’t look at him.

“I don’t know.  But I think I am,” she said, her voice choked and rough.  “My period’s been weird the last couple months, and the last few days I haven’t been able to zip up any of my skirts all the way.”

She shook her head and bit her lip.  Loki wanted to ask more questions than he could count, and they all jumbled up in his mind, vying for supremacy. 

“Do…” he started, unsure if this was the question he wanted to ask.  “Do you know who?”

“It’s yours, you idiot!” Sylvie shouted, finally turning to him.  “I haven’t fucked anyone else!”

She was barely holding back tears, and all Loki could do was nod.  Even though her words drove a spike of terror through him, he couldn’t do anything but just nod at her, slack-jawed and bereft of coherent thought.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said finally.

He looked around, finding no answers in the car.  But while he grasped at straws, Sylvie dug her phone from her bag.  He watched as her hands shook as she unlocked it and scrolled through it.

“I don’t need permission from Mummy or Daddy.  I’ve checked,” she said, staring down at her phone.  “I can go in, and if we pay cash, they’ll never know.”

Loki shook his head, feeling too slow and stupid to keep up with this conversation.  “Permission?” he asked.

Sylvie turned to look at him, jaw clenched tight and eyes wide.  A few moments later, Loki realised what she wasn’t saying; what she couldn’t say.  He nodded, and suddenly everything became very real.  If Sylvie was pregnant, she needed to very quickly not be pregnant any longer.

“Right,” he said.  “Uhm.  Why cash?”

“Because we can’t use insurance, can we?” Sylvie asked.  She shook her head, and finally the tears she’d been fighting back began to fall from her eyes.  “If it’s on the insurance they’ll see it.  But I don’t have that kind of cash sitting around.  I’d have to use my card, and they’ll see that too.  That’s why…”

She sniffed loudly and looked back down at her phone.  For a long moment, they both sat in silence, while everything finally started to make sense.  Finally, bit by bit, Loki caught up to the whole situation.  He nodded, trying to put everything into an order that was easier to deal with one bit at a time.

“I don’t have cash, but I can get some,” he said.  He considered his options briefly, and then nodded.  “A lot of guys owe me favours.”

Sylvie snorted.  “What guys?” she asked.

“I write essays for people,” he said.  “I’ll get the cash from someone and pay it back later.  Dad won’t know.  About any of it.”

Sylvie nodded.  “How quickly can you do that?” she asked.

Loki shrugged.  “I’ll ask tomorrow.  Find out how much I need to get,” he said.  “I’ll get it.  All of it.  I promise.”

Sylvie nodded and wiped her eyes with her hands.  Her makeup was running, and Loki wanted to reach out and hug her, but he wasn’t sure if she wanted that. 

“Do you want to go into Riverhead for a while?” he asked.

Sylvie shook her head.  “I just want to go home,” she said.

Loki didn’t want to go home, but he didn’t want to argue either.  Instead, he started the engine and started to head home.  Neither of them said anything on the drive home, and when they reached the driveway, Loki waited while Sylvie tried to tidy herself up.  Anything she did only seemed to make it more obvious that she’d been crying, and she gave up with a loud sniff as she finally got out of the car.  Loki followed her into the house, hoping they could slip back to her room to talk more.  Instead, they opened the front door to find Odin and Frigga abruptly end another argument taking place in the foyer.  Sylvie rushed off toward her room, leaving Loki to deal with the stares from his parents.

“What on Earth is going on?” Frigga asked, turning to look toward Sylvie’s room.

Loki looked in that direction as well, his mind racing.  He needed a lie, and the obvious one wouldn’t work.  He couldn’t say she’d broken up with a boy, because she broke up with boys like it was a sport.  They’d never believe she’d been upset by one.  Not like this.

Instead, he looked up at his parents and took a deep breath, prepared to take a gamble that he knew was risky.

“We,” he said slowly, already regretting this choice.  “We’ve been hiding a dog.  We never brought him home because we knew Dad would say no.”

“A dog?” Frigga asked.

She looked over at Odin, while Odin looked exasperated.

“Well, where is it?” he asked after a moment.

Loki stumbled over his lie, trying to find the precise way to phrase it.  “We just went to go feed him, but he got out,” he said.  “There was a van in the woods, and we kept him in there.  But he got out, and…” he shrugged.  “And he got run over.”

“Oh, good heavens,” Frigga said.  She sighed deeply and turned toward the small sitting room across from the foyer.

“I don’t like secrets,” Odin said.

Loki had never been afraid of his father, but he suddenly felt very small and helpless standing before him, under the glare of his single eye.

“But I think we can forgive this one, if we agree that it never happens again,” Odin said.

Loki nodded.  “It won’t.  I’m sorry,” he said.

Odin nodded and sighed as well, turning to look down the hall toward Sylvie’s room.

“Go get changed.  We’ll discuss it after dinner,” Odin said.

“Okay,” Loki said.

He turned to flee to the safety of his bedroom, resisting the urge to go be with Sylvie.  Instead, he closed himself behind his door and sent her a quick text, letting her know what he had told their parents so she wouldn’t be caught wrong-footed by his lie.

« || »

Starve to Death with Dignity #5

Loki didn’t expect Thor to fetch him the following morning, and didn’t get out of bed because of it.  Images of the previous day were still burned in his memory, of a terrified and screaming woman being held down by the hands of a monster.  His hands, blue and marked.  He could still see his cock inside her, swollen and deformed so neither of them could escape.

Sickeningly, he thought Odin had known that would happen.  Why else would he have released his spell and allowed Loki control over which form he took?  Which meant Odin must have known Loki would not be able to control himself.  Otherwise, Loki knew he never would have stopped.  He would have raped that woman repeatedly, again and again until he collapsed of exhaustion.  With Odin’s magic lifted, once Loki’s cock had swollen and spilled, he had gone completely numb to not only her scent, but her body.  As horrible as it must have been to be tied to him for hours, at least it had not been hours spent screaming because he would not stop.

But did Odin truly know that when Loki did finally lose control, he would wind up tied to his victim not for a few minutes, but for hours?  Was the entire idea to allow Loki to so thoroughly traumatise someone to ensure he was caught in the act?  It must have been.  Otherwise, there was no telling what Loki might have been able to get away with.  Had the whole thing only lasted minutes, Loki could have left Midgard and been back in his chambers before Thor even noticed him absent.  And the thought made Loki sick.

He had been so careful.  So deliberate.  What he had done to Freyja was unforgivable, and he had been stopped.  He had sworn that he would be able to remove himself from any dangerous situations, and instead he had deliberately sought one out.  He had held that girl down as she screamed, the sound still echoing in his ears.  He could have apologised to her a million more times, but it changed nothing.  She had been sacrificed to a monster, and she would give birth to a monster that would grow up to rape every woman in that village.

Loki studied the lines on his flesh, expecting to find they were sensitive somehow.  Every freckle and mark on his flesh was exactly where he expected it to be, only now in a blue so deep it was almost black.  They didn’t look like the hands of a monster.  They were still his, just in the wrong colour.  But they were the hands of a monster, because he was a monster.  A horrible monster that did unforgivable things.

When his chamber door open, Loki looked up to find Thor carrying a large basket.  He set it down on Loki’s desk and turned, scowling deeply at Loki.

“Take it and get dressed,” he said.

Loki could not believe he was still allowed to leave his chambers.  He had thought for certain Thor would have only omitted the worst details.  But if Loki was still allowed out, then it was clear he had told Odin nothing.  He got slowly to his feet and moved to his desk to fetch his potion.  If his dick behaved differently in his true form, Loki wondered if the potion might work differently as well.  As he inhaled it, it burned like it never had before, drawing a stifled cry from him.  Trying to breathe through his mouth to recover, he looked up at Thor.  But if he was expecting to find any sympathy at all, he was sorely disappointed.  Thor continued to level his sour glare at Loki, even as he pointed at the basket he’d brought with him.

“What about these?” he asked.

Loki sniffed harshly, trying to work the potion through his sinuses as much as possible.

“This one,” he said, lifting a bottle from the basket, “prevents me from acting on any urge at all, and the other one puts me in a coma.”

He replaced the bottle and turned to get dressed.

“And given that you’re here, I’m assuming I’m wanted somewhere, making either of those a poor choice for the moment.”

Thor grumbled, and Loki ignored him.  He dressed and disguised himself, and let Thor drag him by the arm through the palace.  He only learned after that Odin hadn’t any work at all for him, and was instead dragged around to all of Thor’s appointments.  While Loki’s tasks were usually diplomatic in nature, Thor’s were a more hands on.  He had to sit around watching Thor training in the ring, or helping to break horses for mount.  With so much going on around him, Loki wasn’t willing to take any chances.  Every time he found his mind even starting to wander, he renewed his potion.  When Thor was finally done for the day, Loki expected to be returned to his chambers, as usual.  Instead, Thor seemed reluctant to allow him to be alone for any longer than necessary, and dragged him to banquet instead.  With so much of Eir’s potion up his nose, Loki could barely breathe clearly, much less enjoy anything in front of him, but that wasn’t the worst part of being dragged over to the table.

It was their friends.

The friends Thor must have surely lied to.

Loki expected Thor’s critical glare mirrored on their faces, but instead he was met with the same cautious wariness he had been met with the day previous. 

“I didn’t know throwing stones was so tiring,” Fandral said as Loki got settled amongst them.

“You have no idea,” Loki said.

He didn’t need to pry any further.  He could guess Thor’s story already, that he had gone back home to rest. 

Beside him, Thor piled food onto a plate, and dropped it in front of Loki.

“Eat,” he said stiffly.

Sighing, Loki looked down at it.  A moment later, Thor put a cup of ale in front of him as well.  He was starving.  He hadn’t eaten in two days, but everything before him may as well have been made of stone for all it was appetising.  Hoping he was hungry enough to get past it all, he tore off a small piece of meat and tried it.  Smaller pieces were better, at least, though still not great.  It was as though his body wanted to reject it for not knowing what it was.  As he chewed, Loki realised he actually did not know what it was.  He thought it might be goat, but he was nowhere even close to certain about it.

“What’s the matter?” Volstagg asked, watching him pick at his plate.  “Lost your appetite for food as well as fighting?”

Loki snorted.  “I’m surprised you know what it looks like,” he said.

The others laughed, and for some reason, that surprised him.  He didn’t want to be there at all, but he didn’t dare try to rush Thor along either.  His entire future hinged on Thor agreeing to lie for him, and Thor could change his mind about it at any moment.  So he choked on food his body didn’t want, and let Thor take all the time he wanted.  It quickly became clear that Thor’s intent was to keep Loki up long enough so the only thing he wanted to do upon returning to his chambers was go to sleep.  But he had other work to do, and it wasn’t going to get done watching his brother drunk himself into a stupor.

Finally, as Loki worried he might fall asleep right there at the table, Thor stood.  Not even waiting for Loki to get himself orientated, Thor pulled him to his feet and began dragging him back through the palace.  If it was Thor’s plan to bore Loki to exhaustion, it had worked.  He had never been so tired from a day of doing nothing.  As they reached his chambers, Loki stopped at the door to face Thor.

“If tomorrow is to be a repeat of today, I would much rather spend it in isolation,” he said.

Thor nodded.  “Have it your way,” he said.

Thor closed the door between them, leaving Loki to his own thoughts.  Despite the audits piled on his desk, Loki ignored it all and collapsed onto his bed.

He woke the next morning, uncertain whether to expect Thor.  When, after an hour of lounging in bed, Thor did not appear, Loki assumed that meant he had the day to himself.  He cleaned himself up and dressed for the day, called for a rare breakfast.  Having to go through his days on Thor’s schedule meant it had been months since he’d eaten more than one meal, and he had dearly missed spending his mornings going over his audits in bed with a bowl of fruit and fried eggs and bread.  Once he was finished with his meal, he used his potion and moved over to his desk.  He had been neglecting his personal studies, having no time for any of it.  His days had been so packed full of distractions to keep his mind away from his own prick that the things he enjoyed being distracted by had taken a back seat.

With his attention buried in journals and grimoires, that rising itch wasn’t something he wanted to entertain.  The decision to block it out before it became a problem was easier when spending an hour rutting in bed would get in the way of his fun, rather than a distraction from dull tedium.

It was a full week before Thor finally came to fetch him again, and Loki was almost disappointed for it.  It had been a full week without ruining pillows, and the crushing shame that followed.  A full week where his prick did not occupy the majority of his thoughts.  A full week of being able to enjoy meals, and sleep when he wanted.

So of course Thor had to ruin it by wanting to drag him through the palace.

“You look different,” Thor said as he watched Loki drag himself out of bed to get ready.

“Yes, about that,” he said, realising that taking his potion meant he wouldn’t get breakfast.  “As much as I enjoy watching all my friends eat until they burst and drink themselves stupid, I would prefer to eat alone.  I do have other work, and I can’t get it done if I’m kept out all hours of the night.”

Thor grumbled, but nodded.  “You’re right,” he said.  “It’s better that way.”

Loki agreed, though perhaps not for the same reasons.  Nodding, he began to dress.

“What am I doing today?” he asked.

“Hearing requests,” Thor said.

Loki would have preferred to be locked in an empty room, but he said nothing.  He dressed and let himself be led through the palace in an iron grip, resigned to being treated like a criminal.  If anything, he deserved it, because he was a criminal.  Even if his full list of deeds was known only between the two of them, Loki knew it would all get out eventually, so he might as well get used to it.

He got through the requests with such speed that he was left waiting in the throne room for hours before Thor finally arrived.  Thor had given him his evenings, which was more than Loki had hoped.  He wasn’t even going to try to get his shortcut back.  But he intended to eat a meal and enjoy it, so he had not used his potion again.  As he rose to his feet, Thor looked him over with a critical frown and took him by the arm so hard, Loki thought it might bruise.  He tried to squirm away, but Thor only held tighter.

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing,” Thor said.

“What am I doing?” asked Loki.

Thor led him toward the corridor, pulling him along with alarming speed.  “I know you’ve not used your drug.  And I know what you do when you return to your chambers.”

The worst part was that Loki wasn’t looking forward to it.  He had enjoyed being able to spend his evenings in peace, but those days were gone.  Despite their speed, Loki still caught a scent in the air, and it was clear Thor had noticed.  His grip tightened further, and his speed increased.  When they reached Loki’s chambers, Thor shoved him inside, leaving him alone without a single parting word.

Loki shed his topcoat and boots on the way to his bed, hands trembling and knees weak.  He hated this.  He hated that he knew exactly how to arrange his bedding so he could get the best pleasure from mounting it.  He hated that he knew exactly how to use his hand to provide better pressure.  He hated that he now knew that the reason he always felt as though his cock might burst open was because it was trying to.  As he unlaced his breeches and climbed into bed, Loki let his disguise drop.  If he was going to make a mess of himself, it might as well have been worth it.

He arranged everything and mounted it, and was almost furious to find it better this way.  He pressed his cock against the pillow between his thighs, feeling the way it slid beneath him as he rutted and whimpered into a pile of linen and furs.  He wrapped his free arm around another pillow, exactly as he had the girl in the village, pretending he was holding her close against him.  It still wasn’t good enough, and still he wanted more.  He needed more.  He had caught that scent as they walked through the corridor, but it had faded.  It wasn’t the girl’s cunt that had made him spill, but her scent and her taste.  And without that, he was missing half the equation. 

Still, he could feel his cock swelling beneath his hand, growing larger and harder by the second.  Soon, it no longer dragged across the linen, providing friction.  The entire pillow moved with him, and it was as though he had hit a wall.  It wasn’t enough, and with his face buried in blankets, he screamed in frustration.  He tried using his hand, wrapping his fingers around the shaft and rutting into it, but the skin on his cock was tight and taut.  It couldn’t glide freely over the shaft as it usually did, and he could feel that the tip was totally exposed.  He focused on that, holding his fingers in a loose ring and working just the sensitive tip. 

Still, his lust only grew, never reaching that crest.  Rutting and grunting into his bedding, Loki worried that now that he knew the real thing, he would never find satisfaction on his own.  His cock grew and grew until it hurt, and he wept as despite everything, he could not force himself to stop.  He rutted harder and harder, faster and faster, using his fingers and his palm in every way he could imagine.  His body ached, and his throat grew raw, and still he needed more.  Still he could not stop.  His cock had grown so large that it pressed into him, hard and painful and unmoving no matter how much he moved.  He muffled cries and screams, and for some reason he thought of the girl beneath him, screaming as he filled her.  The sound rang in his ears, and consumed him with horror as he finally spilled. He continued to rut through his spend, not slowing for a moment even as he wept from knowing why he had finally found release.

When he finally managed to roll onto his back, his face was hot and wet.  He tried to wipe his tears away with his hands, but it seemed they would never stop.  He was truly a monster, and he would never understood why Thor had agreed to lie for him.  He didn’t deserve it.  He deserved to be locked in a cage, destined for the axe.

As he calmed down, he realised he had a new problem.  His cock was painfully large, and he knew already that he would not be able to put on a disguise with it in this state.  He looked down at it, finding it worse than he had ever imagined.  The base of his cock had formed a knot twice the size of his fist, with small ridges running along the length on either side.  He let his head fall back onto the bed as he struggled to breathe, overwhelmed by the sight of it.  He wasn’t sure which was worse; that his cock had become so deformed, or the thought of what that poor woman had to endure for hours on end.  That grotesque knot was what had tied them together.  She had to lay there for hours, unable to move with that inside of her, while he lay beside her worried about himself.

Loki was surprised he hadn’t killed her. 

He heard the door to the corridor open, and realised he had taken longer than usual.  Thor had been in the habit of giving him an hour between dropping him off and sending his supper.  Sore and exhausted, Loki scrambled to cover himself, but the blankets were all tangled beneath him, and he could not move quickly enough.

“Leave it!” he shouted.

He expected the servant to leave his meal elsewhere.  Instead, his bedchamber door opened, and Loki thought he might die of shame on the spot.  Worse, instead of a servant, Thor had chosen to deliver his meal personally.  He stood by the door, plain disgust written across his face.  Thor slowly shook his head and put the tray down on Loki’s desk, not for a moment looking away.

Loki could see him coming to the same realisation he had, seeing him laid out bare and hard, his cock still dripping slowly.  He knew he should cover himself, but Thor had seen him as he truly was, and there was nothing left to hide.

“You’re a pig, Loki,” Thor said finally.

“I know,” Loki said, barely able to put any breath behind the words.

He stared up at the ceiling, part of him hoping Thor might put him out of his misery on principle.  Rather than ending Loki’s life, Thor picked up a large book from his desk and hurled it at him so quickly, Loki barely had time to duck away.  Again, he tried to cover himself, but Thor was quicker there too.  He stepped forward and yanked a spill-soaked blanket out from beneath him and threw it on to of Loki.  Only then did Loki dare to sit up, looking away to avoid meeting Thor in the eye.

“I defended you,” Thor shouted.  “I lied for you!  I denied rumours and gossip because I believed you were better than that!”

Loki huffed and tried once again to wipe his face dry.  “Sorry to disappoint.”

Thor threw another book, striking Loki in the side of the face with it.  He flinched away a moment too late, and wished Thor would get it over with.  Shifting to sit up better, and to rearrange the blanket over his strained and aching cock, he turned to face Thor.

“This is what you’ve let yourself become?” Thor asked.

“I don’t like it either,” Loki said. 

“You would have raped Freyja with that?” Thor asked, practically spitting with every word.

“No, actually.  I didn’t know about that until Midgard,” Loki said.

Thor threw another book at him, again catching Loki in the side of the face as he flinched away.

“And the servant in the library?” Thor asked.

Loki shook his head.  “I didn’t touch her, I swear.”

Shaking his head, Thor turned his back to Loki.  With no more books on his desk, Loki thought he might be looking for something else to throw, but he stayed where he was.

“So, what?” Thor asked, leaning heavily against Loki’s desk.  “This is what you do each night?  Rut against your blankets and make a mess of everything until you pass out?  All because you’re too fussy to use the potions you’re given.”

Loki shrugged.  “It doesn’t hurt anyone,” he said.

Thor turned back toward him, taking a long stride closer.

“No,” he said.  “But if I come in here once more, and I see that,” he pointed to the tent between Loki’s thighs, “I will make sure you never use it again.  It’s not hurting anyone now, but we both know it will.”

Loki nodded, not for the first time wondering if maybe he shouldn’t just get it over with.

“You’re sick, Loki,” Thor said, turning toward the door again.  “And I fear you are beyond help.”

He strode out, boots stomping loudly across the stone floor.  Loki waited until he heard the door slam before daring to get up to fetch the meal he had been brought.  The single shred of positivity in the whole disgusting ordeal was that with his cock swollen and deformed, his body seemed to think he was locked inside a cunt.  Even though he could smell someone’s heat on the evening air, he failed to stir in response.  He was able to eat his meal and complete his work in relative peace, aside from the fact that his cock was rock hard and aching between his thighs and refusing to get out of the way as it continued to make a mess.

« ||

Ours to Keep #7

Somehow, they got into the city with time to spare.  Somehow, they got past the traffic coming off of the bridge.  Somehow, following Sylvie’s direction, Loki rolled up alongside the crumbling old repair lot with about fifteen minutes to spare.  Automatically, he reached up to fix a tie he wasn’t wearing.  He wasn’t dressed right for this, and for a moment he considered pulling his hair loose from where he’d tied it up.  But when he pulled the band out, and his hair fell down over his ears, he was met instead by a mess that had been slightly too damp when he’d tied it up, and now sat awkwardly crimped and twisted.  Instead, he pulled his hair back up again, using the opportunity to at least fix and tidy it before making a fool of himself.  With nothing else left to do, and no further reason to stall, Loki stepped out of the car.  Parked further down, in front of something that might have once been a storage facility, a silver Mercedes glinted in the sun.  For just a few moments longer its engine idled before cutting off.  A man far more appropriately dressed stepped out and began walking down the sidewalk toward them, taking all of the guesswork out of the situation.  Loki took his sunglasses off and hooked them in his shirt collar as he headed over to meet the man who had upset his entire day.

“You must be Cale,” Loki said, offering his hand.

Cale nodded, shaking Loki’s hand briefly.  “Loki,” he said by way of greeting.

He looked past Loki, to Sylvie where she still lingered by the car.

“Ah,” Loki said, turning to see her struggling to figure out her part in this.  “My sister, Sylvie.  This was all forwarded to me at a rather delicate moment, I’m afraid.”

He gestured to his jeans and sneakers with a shrug.

“Sorry about that,” Cale said.  “Family holiday?”

Loki huffed ruefully.  “Will reading, unfortunately,” he said.  “Rescheduled right before I received your email.”

“Oh, sorry to hear,” Cale said.  “It seems like there’s a lot of that going around right now.”

He gestured toward the repair lot, walking with Loki back toward it.

“Why the desperation to sell so quickly?” Loki asked as he looked over the junked cars parked over the lot.  Junked cars which he hoped would be someone else’s problem.

“Low-level Chinese developer,” Cale said.  “Heart attack while boffing the secretary, or so the rumours go.  Kids want to settle the assets and return to Hangzhou before some festival or something over there.”

“Condos, if I read correctly?” Loki said.

“Demolition’s scheduled for next month,” Cale said.  “This lot, and the next.”

He pointed back toward the squat, concrete building he’d parked in front of.  Looking over all of it, Loki nodded slowly.

“One moment, excuse me,” he said before quickly returning to his car. 

He reached for his bag and dug out his iPad, pulling up the research he’d had Sylvie do after they’d got back onto the road.

“I apologise again,” he said as he scrolled through everything.  “I’m usually a lot more prepared than this.”

Cale laughed.  “Take your time. We’re all running around in a panic, I think.”

Nodding, Loki quickly reconciled everything Sylvie had put together for him with where he stood.  Like so many other neighbourhoods around New York, this one was rapidly upgrading and gentrifying, but still in the early phases where getting in right then might have meant a better return if they held onto the property instead of flipping it.  He looked up at the elevated expressway above them, and then at a similar development taking shape on the next block.

“This concerns me,” he said, pointing up to the traffic that surged above them. 

The street level traffic wasn’t much better, but Loki figured that on the higher floors, it wouldn’t be much of a problem.  The elevated traffic, however, could potentially be high enough to still cause a significant disruption even to the top floors once the project was complete.

Cale turned to look up at the expressway as well and shook his head.

“It’s amazing what people get used to,” he said.  He pointed down the road, gesturing to older brownstones lining the next block.  “They’ll pay because they have to, and they’ll put up with it because what else are they going to do?  Commute from Newark and pay tolls every day?”

Loki shrugged, letting himself laugh quietly.

“How many units are planned?” he asked.

“Fifty two,” Cale said.  “With commercial space on the ground floor, and under ground parking for residents.”

Nodding, Loki ran some quick numbers in his head.  Even if they sold every single unit at above market value, it would still be a 50% loss.  The rest would have to be made up with the commercial leases, and Loki wasn’t sure how feasible that would be with the price tag he was looking at.  And on top of it all, Loki thought they’d be lucky to get even close to market value for the condos.  He looked back at the lot, and at the neighbourhood surrounding it, and could see the potential.  He could see why the location was starting to build up.  But for the single detail of the expressway, Loki still had some lingering doubt that he couldn’t shake.

He hid his apprehension by pretending to read over everything on his screen, scrolling up and down and making a point to frown occasionally.

“I want to see some specs,” he said, mentally trying to picture what five storeys would look like next to everything else.  “Do you have any of that with you?”

“Yeah, let me grab it,” Cale said.

While he rushed back off to his car, Loki took the opportunity to turn back to Sylvie to let her know exactly how this was going.  He was beyond uncertain.  They wouldn’t seen a good return on it unless they could either improve somehow on what was already in place, or fill it and flip it as an established property.  The price felt too high for the lot, but despite all his apprehensions, Loki couldn’t just walk away either.

“How’s it going?” Sylvie asked.

Loki shook his head.  “I think it’s too ambitious,” he said.  “I don’t know if the market’s right for it.  But I want it.  It’s part of something bigger, and if that succeeds, it’ll be worth a fortune in five years.”

As Cale returned with a portfolio under his arm, Loki handed off the iPad to Sylvie.  He took the portfolio from Cale and carefully began flipping through it, looking over design specs and tax reports and budget proposals.  The good news was that it seemed everything had already been filed and was simply awaiting the scheduled start date, which would save money going in.  Most of the fees involved would only be to transfer ownership and amend a few permits.  Loki took a deep breath and made his decision.  He hadn’t walked away yet, and though he didn’t know what exactly was keeping him around, he was certain he was about to make the right call.

“I’d like to move forward,” he said, deciding the words felt right.  He continued to look over the documents, even as he carefully planned his next move.  “I need to make a telephone call, but…”

He clicked his tongue as he flipped back to the building specs, feeling more right about this by the moment.  Finally, he looked back up Cale and nodded.

“But I don’t expect to hear a no from my client,” he said.

Cale nodded back.  “Do you want to do it at my office?” he asked.

Loki looked up at the traffic around them, and decided that getting away from the noise would be better than showing off a condemned auto garage.

“Yes, let’s,” he said.  “Thank you.”

He gestured for Cale to head to his own car, before handing off the portfolio to Sylvie and getting back behind the wheel.  As he started the engine, he waited for Cale to pull into traffic so he could follow.  Cale took them across the bridge and into Manhattan, where Loki’s nerves immediately began to spike and fray.  Navigating the narrow streets was bad enough without electric bikes parked haphazardly everywhere, and giant box trucks taking up half the lane while the driver had fucked off to god only knew where.

“I fucking hate Manhattan,” Loki said as Cale led him to a parking garage.

“I know,” Sylvie said.  “You say that every time you come here.”

As Loki pulled into the lot, he nearly saw red at the rates.  “Thirty three an hour.  Jesus Christ,” he said, snatching his ticket from the machine and following after Cale into the structure.

“Calm down,” Sylvie said.  “He’ll validate it, you cheapskate.”

Loki took a deep breath, grimacing every time he turned the wheel to navigate the sharp corners.  He was already tired from the drive into town, and now he had to actually do the hard part.  He found an open spot not too far from where Cale had parked, and once more got out to meet him.  As a trio, they all walked back down to the street and along narrow sidewalks several blocks.  Every noise, every person that walked too close made Loki’s skin prick up and his hair stand on end.  A car drove a little too quickly past them, and without thinking Loki quickly reached out to take Sylvie by the hand.

“All right?” Cale asked, turning to both of them.

“We’re a couple of Long Island kids,” Sylvie said with a disarming smile.  “The city takes some getting used to.”

Cale laughed, open and easily.  “Oh, I can imagine.  You said Southampton?”

Loki nodded.  “Yeah.  Westhampton Beach, out by the Dunes,” he said.  “Our father owns the firm, and half of everything past Fire Island.”

Cale hummed loudly and snapped his fingers.  “I thought I knew your name from somewhere,” he said.  “I think your brother tried to buy us out last year.”

Loki shrugged and laughed.  “Very likely,” he said.  “We’ve been expanding west the last few years.  Which is why I’m here.  Unlike my brother, I’m not after your job.  But if you are looking for a change of scenery, I’m sure we could find room.”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I might never hear the end of it,” Cale said.

He led them across a busy intersection, and into a small but bustling plaza surrounded by tall high rises and glass sky scrapers.  His office was above a suite of restaurants, in a stone building that sat in a row where no two buildings matched in style or shape.  Once they were off the street, Loki finally felt like he could breathe.  Unlike the chaos outside, Cale’s office was clean and orderly, with a modern, earthy design that struck Loki as being assembled in a deliberate effort to separate the interior from the dirt and concrete just outside the windows.

“Would you like a conference room?” Cale asked as he led Loki and Sylvie through a close hall.

“If you have one to spare that would be delightful,” Loki said.

With a practised smile that almost didn’t feel fake, Cale led them to a door and held it open, gesturing for them both to make themselves at home.

“Take your time,” he said.  “I know this isn’t ideal, and I’m sure the old man will want to run you through the wringer if even lives up to half of the rumours.”

Loki chuckled, biting his tongue against a scathing remark toward his own father.  He stepped over to the table, settling Cale’s portfolio and his own bag down to get to them when he needed them.

“Should I have some coffee sent in?” Cale asked.

“Please,” Loki said.  “Thank you.”

With a nod, Cale closed the door between them.  For a long moment, Loki leaned over the table, trying to calm himself down.  His back hurt too much from the drive, and he was too tired to get into anything new, but he hadn’t much of a choice.  He watched as Sylvie slowly sat down, giving him a stressed look of her own as she pulled out her phone.

“Is this what it’s always like?” she asked.

Loki shrugged and finally sat down.  “Aside from having to do my research on the spot.”

He rubbed his face with both hands, and then finally reached for the phone at the edge of the table.  He dialled Odin’s number, and as the line rang out, pressed the button to put him on speaker.  Odin answered just a moment later, sounding even more fed up and annoyed than he’d been when Loki had left.

“I am in Manhattan with a deal in front of me,” Loki said.  “It’s yes or no today.  It won’t hold.”

He saw the look Sylvie gave him as he spoke, and tried not to feel guilty about excluding her from the conversation.  But for some reason, Loki no longer felt comfortable speaking English with his parents for long periods of time, and he didn’t want anyone overhearing anything he had to say.

“And how much is this deal going to cost me?” Odin asked.

Loki was glad he was having this conversation over the phone, because he did not want to have to look Odin in the eye at the moment.

“Fifty million,” he said, trying not to feel sick saying it.

Odin only hummed, letting himself sound deeply unimpressed.

“I like the location,” Loki said.  “I think it’s a bit of a risk.  The price is a bit high for what it is, but everything’s already filed and in place.  But I also think you don’t take it, you’ll kick yourself over it for years.”

Again, Odin hummed.  “What is it?” he asked.

“Condos and commercial,” Loki said.  “Fifty two units, right across the river from Manhattan.  Six store fronts.  And I think if you sat on it for about five years until the neighbourhood becomes obscenely unaffordable, you could sell it and buy ten more with the return.”

He looked over at Sylvie, waiting for Odin to respond.  Sylvie watched him from over her phone, obviously confused and apprehensive as the silence continued to span on.  Loki drummed his fingers on his knees, staring at the phone, dreading the next sound that came from the speaker.

Finally, Odin sighed quietly.  “Let me get to my desk so you can show me what you’ve found.”

Loki went through every single detail with Odin, both over the phone and by sharing emails.  Someone from Cale’s staff brought in fresh coffee from one of the places downstairs, along with sandwiches for both of them.  Eventually, Sylvie wandered off while Loki went over tax assessments and neighbourhood value, returning some time later with brand new book in her hands.

By the time Loki ended the call with his father, his throat was raw and Sylvie had finished her book.  With a deep breath, Loki stretched his back and looked to Sylvie, knowing exactly what came next, but finding himself terrified to do it.  They stared at one another for a long moment, until finally Loki decided he couldn’t wait any longer.  With one more deep breath, he slowly rose to his feet and began putting everything back into place.

“Can you entertain yourself for a while longer?” he asked.

Sylvie looked at him, and then at his mess.  “Can I use your laptop?” she asked.

Loki gestured for her to take it while he put Cale’s portfolio back together.  With it in hand, he left the conference room and set out to find the man in question.  It was only a few moments of aimless wandering before Cale found him, not doing the best job at hiding his own nerves.

“He’ll do forty eight,” Loki said, handing his portfolio back.

Cale slowly nodded.  He opened the portfolio to quickly peer inside, before slapping it closed again.

“I can probably do that,” he said. 

He gestured for Loki to follow, and walked to his private office.  Loki sat in front of the large desk, while Cale settled behind it, trading his portfolio for the phone.  He made a call of his own, both sitting in a tense silence while they waited for the line to pick up.

“Hi, it’s Cale,” he said after a long moment.  “Yeah, the property agent.  Listen, I have a buyer sitting right in front of me, willing to sign today for forty eight.”

There was a long pause as he nodded slowly, ‘yepping’ and ‘yessing’ every few moments. 

“All right,” he said finally, nodding slowly.  “All right, I’ll let him know.”

He carefully hung up the phone, setting it gently into its cradle.

“She’ll take forty eight,” he said.

Loki drew his fingers over his hair as he leaned heavily into his seat, having not even realised how far he was sitting until that moment.

“Holy shit,” he said, laughing.  “Sorry.  Excuse me.”

Cale laughed as well.  “How old are you?”

“Twenty four,” he said.  He laughed again, dropping his hand onto his knee.

“When I was your age, I was still selling single family houses in the Bronx,” Cale said. 

Loki took a moment to get his head on straight, letting himself ride everything out.

“Okay,” he said finally, shaking his head loose of all of the fluff that had suddenly settled in it.  “Let’s get this started.”

He tried not to feel like a complete child while Cale got up to pull forms from a filing cabinet.  Loki also tried not to feel bad about making Sylvie spend her entire day doing absolutely nothing while he progressively lost more and more of his mind.  By the time everything had been signed and set up to be transferred and filed, Loki was exhausted and starving.  But it had been done, and the next step when on to Odin.  He found Sylvie boredly poking around online, and sat down next to her.  Suddenly, the full weight of what had just happened crashed down on him again, and he leaned heavily against her.

“Is that good?” she asked, trying to squirm out from under him.

Slowly, Loki sat up, breathing deeply and slowly so he didn’t pass out.

“I just made more on this one deal than I did all of last year,” he said slowly.  He stared out the window at the skyline, still blue but fading as the evening wore on.

“Can you talk about it yet?” she asked.  “Or are you still too afraid of jinxing it?”

Loki took a long moment to figure that out.  Finally, he looked over at her, and the hopeful, curious look on her face made up his mind for him.

“One point five,” he said.  “Million.  In my account as soon as the deal closes.”

He drew his fingers over his hair again, watching as Sylvie slowly realised exactly what he’d just said.

“No,” she said.  “That’s what you’re getting paid from just today?”

Loki nodded.  “Yeah,” he said, trying not to laugh.

Sylvie’s shock slowly gave way to a wide grin.

“Baby, no way.  Oh my god,” she said, pulling him into a tight hug.  “What do you have to do next?”

“Next?” Loki shook his head and pulled away from her.  “My job’s done.  I’m the middle man.  Tomorrow, Dad’s gonna get some paperwork to sign, and money goes into escrow.”

“Seriously, just like that?” Sylvie asked.  She shook her head, gaping just slightly.  “We need to go out and celebrate!”

“I’m not dressed for it,” Loki said.  He looked down at himself in jeans and sneakers, and not at all prepared for anything professional.  “Fuck, I look like an idiot.”

Sylvie slapped his laptop shut and slid it into his bag.  “No,” she said as she stood.  “We are going out.  I don’t care where.  We are going out and we are celebrating, because that is fucking amazing.  You’re amazing.”

It wasn’t just about the money.  In more ways than not, the money was a measure of success, but ultimately irrelevant.  That Loki has needed chance and luck to succeed was no longer relevant either.  Had he failed on this, it would have been easy to say the timing wasn’t right, or the price wasn’t right.  But Odin had seen what he saw as well.  Odin was prepared to take on the risk, and convincing him to do it had been the true challenge.

He knew it wasn’t the money Sylvie cared about either.  She knew just as well as he did that the commission, while one of the bigger ones Loki was likely to ever see,  was not the important part.  The deal itself was, and he realised she was right.  They needed to celebrate.

“I think I have something in your closet, don’t I?” he asked.

Sylvie’s grin grew wider as she bit her lip.  “I think you do,” she said.  “Why don’t we go change?”

She took him by the hand and stood, pulling him up with her.  Loki spared only a moment to make sure everything was in his bag before slinging it over his shoulder and walking out of the room with Sylvie.  Cale was standing in the hall nearby, chatting to one of his associates.  Loki spared him a quick wave and a nod, not wanting to interrupt him on the way out, knowing he had plenty of his own work to do now.  Together, he and Sylvie stepped back out into the plaza, and took a moment to reorientate themselves before re-tracing their steps back to the garage.

Somehow, they found it quickly, and remarkably Loki found his car un-touched.  As they got in and got settled, Loki found what was left of his soda from earlier and finished it, before stuffing the empty bottle into his bag to keep it out of his way.

“You’re going to have to direct me,” he said as he started the car.  “I don’t even know where we are.”

“Most of the city’s a grid.  Just find a way north,” Sylvie said.

Loki rolled his eyes.  Getting back through the parking lot was a chore, though with his parking validated he at least didn’t have to pay the obscene fee to get out of the garage.  But even that only went so far, and once he was back in traffic, with no idea which direction he was heading, his nerves once again begin to fray and spike.  It seemed like every time he found a way to head north, the road forked or merged or twisted around, and they were once again heading in the wrong direction.  He nearly got back onto the bridge to Brooklyn, only avoiding it at the last moment and going under it instead.  Finally, he was on the other side of the bridge, and heading vaguely in the right direction.

“You might want to find your way over to Broadway eventually,” Sylvie said, looking out at the traffic around them.

Loki nodded, hating the claustrophobic feeling of so many cars around him.

“Where?” he asked.

“When we get somewhere around Midtown, take a left,” Sylvie said.

He drove with Sylvie’s hand high on his thigh, trying to keep his temper and wits about him as he followed her directions.  Grid or not, Manhattan was still a maze of crowded one-way streets with no room to breathe, and Loki had no idea how anyone lived there.  But eventually, he got himself onto a track he recognised, and was able to get to the other end of the island without catastrophe.

Loki hated parking on the street even more than he hated having to navigate crowded garages, but the neighbourhood where Sylvie had landed hadn’t any other options.  Construction and road work made the already narrow street a nightmare to navigate, but he found a spot big enough to pull into, only a few buildings away from Sylvie’s front door.  They walked quickly down the sidewalk, his hand in her back pocket.  He crowded her as she fussed with her keys in the door, holding his body close to hers and leaning to press a trail of kisses along her neck.  Finally, they stumbled together into the foyer and to the elevator.  As the doors closed behind them, Loki pinned Sylvie against the wall, rolling his body into hers as he felt her through her clothes.

The elevator took forever to get to the top, and by the time it did Loki could barely think.  Sylvie had to nudge him away from her, guiding him back out of the elevator and into the hall so they could make it all the way to her apartment.  Despite her best efforts, Loki didn’t let her out of his grasp.  He held onto her tightly, his body against hers, his mouth on her skin, even as she dragged him over to her door and opened it.  Once inside, she barely swung the door shut before Loki took a tight hold on her once more.  She moved too slowly as he all but dragged her to the bedroom.  Together, they collapsed onto the bed, Loki on top of her and holding her down as he dragged his teeth over every bare patch of skin his mouth could find.  He found his way beneath her shirt and dragged his hands over her body, feeling the way she moved and breathed beneath his touch.  Rather than trying to unclasp her bra from this position, Loki wrangled his way beneath it, leveraging a gasp from Sylvie as he pulled it over her to bear her breasts to him.  He took one in his mouth, sucking hard against her nipple before biting it and making her cry out as she moved beneath him, wrapping her legs around his waist and tangling her fingers in his hair to pull it loose so it fell over his shoulders. 

He couldn’t feel her through his jeans like he wanted, even as he pressed himself hard against her.  Loki moved away, letting her pull her shirt off as he went for the zipper on her pants.  He pulled them off, tossing them carelessly aside.  She was nearly naked before him, wearing only her panties, and he was not naked enough.  He began unbuttoning his own shirt as he lowered himself between her legs, but lost focus before he could even finish taking his shirt off.  Instead, he pulled her panties off and pressed his mouth against her and moaned into her as he fucked her with his tongue.  Her fingers tangled in his hair as she moved against him, rolling into him as he licked and sucked at every part of her his mouth could find.  As she arched into him, Loki reached for her and took her wrist to pin it onto the bed at her side.

“Oh, right there,” Sylvie said, pulling him close against her.

Instead of following her lead, Loki sat up again and looked at her as she pouted up at him.

“Get back here,” she said, reaching for him.

Loki shook his head and pulled off his shirt, tossing it aside with the same carelessness he’d tossed Sylvie’s pants.

“I want to feel you,” he said, his hands already on his own zipper.

“Oh, don’t you dare,” Sylvie said.

Loki spared only enough time to kick off his shoes.  He pulled his jeans down just enough to free himself from their confines and was back on top of Sylvie, using his body to hold her down.  She twisted beneath him, angling her hips to close her legs against him, but Loki didn’t stop.

“Absolutely not,” she said. 

As she hitched herself up to reach for the night stand, Loki grabbed her wrist again and pinned it above her head.  For a moment, they stared into one another’s eyes.  Sylvie held him with a hard glare, even as Loki used his free hand to pull her knees apart and settle between them.  She wrestled against him, pushing against his shoulder as her other hand pulled against his grip. 

He held her there, watching as she struggled against him.  For a moment, his gaze drifted to the night stand, and he knew he ought to have grabbed what Sylvie had tried to fetch from inside the drawer, but he didn’t want to break his rhythm.  Not when he was already struggling so hard to hold himself together.  He wanted this; he needed this.  He held Sylvie down at the hip, letting her push and shove as rutted against her cunt, dragging his dick over her to tease himself.

Sylvie shifted hard beneath him, trying to buck him off, but he pinned her with his weight.

“Don’t,” she said, her voice low and rough.  She shook her head.  “Don’t you do it.”

Loki shifted, and then he was inside her.  She gasped loudly, and continued to push against him as he held her down, letting himself get lost in her.  He wanted to hear her scream.  He wanted the neighbours to hear her scream.  He angled her hips and threw his entire body into fucking any sound he could get out of her.  He kept her hand pinned beneath his, and as she traded pushing against him for nails digging into his skin, Loki cried out loudly.

Beneath him, Sylvie slowly stopped resisting.  As she started panting, Loki let go of her wrist and grabbed onto her hips instead, driving himself into her with a loud grunt.  She cried out finally, choked and gasping, as Loki held himself over her and did not stop.  Her legs wrapped around his waist, holding him close against her.  Her head fell back and her back arched into him as she began gasping and yelping in time with his dick pounding into her.  She grabbed onto his wrists, holding him tightly, and he watched as her eyes drifted shut and she rolled into him. 

“Oh, god!” Sylvie shouted.  “God, don’t stop!”

Her breath came ragged and harsh as she came on his dick with a shout, holding herself against him even as he continued to fuck her.  Then, he shifted, pinning her down beneath him and holding onto her shoulder to pull her against him each time he drove forward.  She shouted again, loud in his ear as her nails dug into his arm, and he was so close it hurt.

“Tell me no,” he said, straining to speak through the need and the effort.

“No,” Sylvie said.  She panted against him, and once more pushed at him.  “No.  Don’t do it.  No.”

He was so close, and he tried to hold himself back even as he neared that edge.

“No,” Sylvie said again.  “Don’t you dare.”

Loki came, his vision going blurry and white as he held himself deep inside her.  He hummed against her neck as a rush of energy coursed through his body, only to immediately evaporate.  Suddenly exhausted, he collapsed on top of her, feeling her entire body go limp beneath him.  Still barely able to breathe, Loki kissed a line up Sylvie’s neck, and then rolled off at her.

“God, how do you manage to be so irritating all on your own?” Sylvie asked, looking over at him.

Loki shrugged.  “I learned from the best,”  he said.

Sylvie shook her head and got up, sparing a moment to look at Loki, his jeans open and his dick still out.

“Let’s get cleaned up so you can take me out for dinner,” she said.

Loki only watched as she got up, and walked naked across the floor to her closet.

He did what Sylvie wanted.  He dated the girl from her math class, and made sure they were seen making out.  But it didn’t feel right, for some reason.  He only kissed her because he was supposed to.  He was glad that she was hesitant to go any farther with him, because he didn’t want to.  Still, he pretended like Sylvie had wanted him to.  When the girl invited him over to her house, and they made out on the sofa while her parents were elsewhere, Loki let his hands wander until she pushed them away; he tried to rut against her until she put distance between them, and hoped she wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t even hard.  And he hoped that was enough.  He hoped that meant she’d tell her friends that he was too handsy; too eager.  And when she dumped him two weeks later, he pretended to be put out about it.  He even made a show about it by sulking in his room and skipping dinner.

And that seemed somehow to please Frigga and Odin, because Sylvie was right.  It had deflected their attention away from him once his pretend feelings had been soothed.

He was sensitive, Frigga had argued.  He’d need more time before trying again.

And when he turned sixteen and got his license, and Odin bought him a car, Sylvie was the first person he took for a ride.  She knew a place, not far from their house, and Loki didn’t ask how or why she knew about it.  He simply drove there, following her directions until the narrow road dirt came to an end.  Before he even had the engine off, Sylvie had her hands at his zipper and her mouth on his.  He had expected to have to work her up, using his hands, but instead she reached down to push his seat as far back as it would go and climbed on top of him as she pulled his dick out of his pants.  Then she broke away, and Loki looked down to see her fiddling with something in her fingers.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s a condom, stupid,” she said, pulling it out and frowning at it.  “We need to start using them.”

She flipped it over several times, and as Loki impatiently watched her try to figure it out, he realised that he had no practical idea how it worked either.  In theory, he knew.  He was supposed to wear it on his dick.  But if he had ever been taught how to do it properly in school, which he could not recall being the case, he clearly had not been paying attention. 

Her hands shook as she worked it out and rolled it onto his dick, making sure it was settled where it ought to be.  Then, with one hand planted on his shoulder, she reached between her legs to guide him past her panties and into her.  Loki hated the skirt she wore, because it hid so much from view, but he no longer cared when she shouted loudly.

Loki let himself get lost in her, no longer having to worry about who heard them.  Even if it wasn’t as good, and he couldn’t feel her properly with the barrier between them, it didn’t matter.  They didn’t have to hold back, and as she moved on top of him, they were both able to shout about it.  He wanted to kiss her, but he also wanted to hear how loud she would be.  As she tangled her hands into his hair, Loki let his hands wander over her, finding his way beneath her school uniform.  Trying to get past her shirt that wouldn’t stretch, and the bra that seemed designed to keep him out only frustrated him.  He’d grown used to her making things as easy as possible for him, and now it was as though he had to struggle through every moment.  He tried to find his way beneath her bra, but it didn’t stretch much either, so he wrapped his arms around her to try to pull it off.

“There’s a clasp,” Sylvie said.

Loki fumbled around, trying to feel for anything that might have resembled a clasp, but no amount of pulling or twisting seemed to work.  He became so consumed with trying to get past her bra that he couldn’t even focus on anything else.

“God, hang on,” Sylvie said.

She slapped his hands away and stopped moving on top of him, arching her back to shove her breasts into his face.  Except, it didn’t seem intentional at all.  She twisted her arms up behind her, and then suddenly relaxed again and began unbuttoning her shirt.  Somehow, through some arcane witchcraft Loki didn’t understand, her bra hung loose, covering her but no longer barring entry.  Before he could even put his hands on her, her hands were around his neck and she was moving against him again.  Now, Loki was able to get past her bra to feel her and squeeze her flesh.  He wanted to feel her hands on him, but his own shirt was in the way.  He got as far as loosening his tie and unbuttoning his collar before he didn’t care anymore, and needed to touch her again.  He squeezed her breasts and dragged his tongue over one of them, wishing he could feel more of her.  Wishing he didn’t have some horrid barrier between them.

On top of him, Sylvie threw everything she had into fucking him, pulling against his shoulders and grinding against his body.  She sneered and moaned loudly, and when Loki took one of her nipples into his teeth, she shouted and pulled his hair.  He did it again and she arched hard into him, crying out so loudly her voice echoed off the windows.  Then, she pulled Loki close and moaned in short, sharp bursts as she came. 

Even as she stilled and panted against him, it wasn’t enough.  Loki tried to encourage her to move where he wanted her, but there wasn’t enough room for it in the front seat of the car.  Frustrated with not being able to get what he wanted, he pushed her off of him and nodded toward the back seat.

Sylvie didn’t hesitate.  She climbed into the back and lay down along the seat, legs splayed and waiting.  Loki quickly followed her, having to brace himself awkwardly in the small space.  But this way, he could move on top of her as he wanted.  He could reach more of her with his hands without gear shifts and steering wheels in the way.  She wrapped her legs around him and held on around his neck, and Loki took the invitation for what it was.  Still, the condom got in the way, and he had to focus a little harder on what he was doing.

“Come on,” Sylvie said, holding him a little closer.  “Come on, I know you can.”

Loki groaned, desperately trying to find release, but he couldn’t seem to get close enough.  He tried to use the seats for leverage, holding on so he could fuck her harder.  Sylvie gasped beneath him, holding him tightly with one hand, while using the other to brace herself against the door by her head.

“You’re almost there,” she said.  “I know you are.  Come on.”

She brought her hand to his hair, gripping and pulling it to tilt his head back.  Loki shouted, and a moment later finally came.  Without having to pull out, he was able to feel her all around him as he spilled, and imagined what it would feel like without a condom between them.

“Oh, fuck,” he said, barely able to breath.

Slowly, he sat up and looked down at this dick, his cum squished around it within its latex prison.  He frowned, and not sure what else to do, peeled it off.  Now he had the brand new problem of figuring out what to do with it, and without a single other thought in his mind, Loki opened the door behind him and tossed the condom out into the dirt.

“If a cop finds that, they’ll run DNA on it to find out who you are and arrest you for littering,” Sylvie said.

Loki looked over at her, legs still spread lazily.

“No they won’t,” he said.  “You call me stupid, and then say something like that?”

As he zipped his pants back up, he dipped his head to see beneath Sylvie’s skirt, to her soaked panties, twisted and stretched over her.

“Do we have to use one every time?” he asked.

“I think it would be a good idea, don’t you?” Sylvie asked.

Loki shrugged.  “I didn’t like it,” he said.

“They’re a lot easier to hide than a prescription,” Sylvie said.  She shifted, but didn’t try to get up.  “You’ll just have to get used to it.”

Loki grumbled lowly, continuing to stare at Sylvie’s panties.  “How many do you have?” he asked.

“I bought a whole box,” she said.  “But I only brought one with me if that’s what you’re asking.  I didn’t expect you to take it off.”

“Oh,” Loki said, feeling a bit stupid suddenly.

He looked up at her face, watching as she shifted and bit her lip.  She still wanted more, so Loki crawled back to her, invading her space, but not yet touching her.  He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, or what she wanted him to do.  Then, she grabbed his hand and moved it to her cunt, dragging his fingers over her panties.  Loki pushed them out of the way and teased her, barely grazing past her opening to watch as she breathed deeply and tensed beneath his touch.  He waited until she rolled her hips against him to enter her fully, burying his fingers in her.  Loki knew how she liked to be touched, but he didn’t do anything she liked.  Instead, he methodically fucked her with his fingers, slowly pressing them in and pulling them out again, watching as her frustration with him grew.  She rolled into him again and locked her fingers around his neck, and as she pulled him down to kiss him, Loki finally gave her what she wanted.  He moved his hand to rub her clit and drag over the places she liked, focusing less on fucking her with his fingers, and more on making her moan into his mouth.  She rutted against him, holding him close as her legs splayed further open.  He grew hard again in his pants, and shifted so he could move against her as he brought her off with his hand. 

He knew she was getting close when she tangled her fingers in his hair and arched into him.  She moaned against him as she kissed him, tongue deep in his mouth.  She gasped loudly, her hips bucking against him, and he wanted her properly, without anything between them.  He leaned away from her, watching her face as she came on his fingers, and continued to toy with her cunt even as she went still.

“I’ll pull out,” he said, his hand already on his zipper again.

Sylvie nodded and shifted beneath him, giving herself a little more room away from the door.  Loki kept his hand on her until he had his dick lined up, and this time when he entered her, it was right.  This time, it was real.  He cried out, knowing he wouldn’t last long. 

He wanted to hold her down, but instead he braced himself on the seat and fucked her so hard, the entire car lurched along with them.  He cried out, needing more of this.  Then her hand snaked beneath his shirt to drag over his belly, and he came suddenly, pulling out of her a moment too late.  He stayed on top of her, hoping she wouldn’t notice, and waited until he caught his breath before sitting up.  The inside of her skirt was smeared with his cum, and Loki had never been so glad to see it, realising he hadn’t been as late on the draw as he’d thought.

This time as he put himself together, Sylvie did as well, fixing her bra and her panties and her skirt.  Loki left his shirt and tie as they were, knowing nobody would care if he was a bit mussed when they returned home.  As he looked around the car, and the trees outside, Loki knew they’d be coming back here again.

“How’d you find this place?” he asked.

Sylvie sat up and shrugged.  “Came here with a boy last week,” she said.

Loki felt a sting of jealousy run through him.  They were supposed to be seeing other people, and he knew Sylvie saw more than most.

“Did you fuck him?” he asked.

“I blew him,” she said as she climbed back into the front seat.

Loki wasn’t sure that was much better.  Still, he resisted the urge to pout and climbed back behind the wheel so they could get home without arousing too much suspicion.

« || »

Loki: God of Outcasts | Tales of Yggdrasil: Niðhöggr

They had known to expect the heat, but they had not expected it to be quite as hot as it was.  At first, Fenris thought it might have been the shock of travelling so quickly from trudging through knee-deep snow, to trudging across dry, red dirt under Múspelheimr’s twin suns.  But he soon realised that Múspelheimr was just plain hot.  Hotter than he had ever been told to expect.  There was no shock involved, and he could have spent his entire life within the realm and it would still be too hot.  It was as if he had fallen asleep before the fire, and was in the throes of a fever dream, unable to wake and throw his blankets off.

But he knew it was real, because his brother trudged along beside him, every bit as sweaty and miserable.  Jörmungandr had tied his hair in a messy knot on top of his head to escape from some of the heat, but it wasn’t long before the fair, freckled skin on his neck began to grow red.

“Either someone will see your ears and murder us for them, or your neck will grow so red, you’ll catch fire,” Fenris said, glancing at him sideways.

Jörmungandr took a deep breath, tilting his head back until it fell limp.  “If I did catch fire, I don’t think I’d even notice,” he said heavily.

The suns above them had not moved across the sky since their arrival to the realm.  Sól and Ljót rose and set only once a year, baking the realm for half of it, and freezing it in their absence for the other half.  The entire realm was red, as if on fire and ever burning, with no water for miles to quench the flames.  Large, painted mountains loomed in the distance, but gave no landmark to the unfamiliar traveller, stretching on endlessly across the horizon.  Fenris and Jörmungandr hadn’t seen a road since crossing the gate from Midgard, and had not seen food or water since leaving Jötunheimr.  Everything on the realm was dead and dry, unwelcoming to even those few who did live there.

“We should go back,” said Fenris, struggling for breath.  “Apologise.  Perhaps he’ll even let us live.”

“Or perhaps he would slay us on sight,” said Jörmungandr.  He swayed in his steps, nearly stumbling to the ground, and leaned against Fenris to regain his balance before distancing himself again so they both might breathe easier.

“It would be better than dying in this endless furnace,” Fenris said, trudging on along.

“Shut up,” Jörmungandr said as he stopped.

Fenris kept walking, knowing that if he stopped, he might never be able to start walking again.  “Either way, my death will be on your hands,” he said.

“Shut up,” Jörmungandr said again, peering off to their right.  He shaded his eyes with his hand and squinted against the suns, trying to find something that wasn’t there.  “Do you hear that?”

Fenris stopped and listened as well, realising he could hear something or someone moving and grunting in the distance.  He stepped closer to Jörmungandr and looked out over the desert toward where his brother was gazing.  He thought he could even see movement in the distance, though everything seemed to swim and dance strangely on the realm.  He had many times seen water in giant pools, only to find nothing but dry, cracked land when they later reached the spot.

“It’s a boar,” he said, barely able to make out its shape as it shimmered in and out of view.

“Not only that, it’s alive.  If we follow it, it may lead us to water,” Jörmungandr said, already walking toward it.

“Or we can eat it,” Fenris said, feeling tired and off-balance from both heat and hunger, though he wasn’t sure which would kill him first.

He followed after his brother, finding a renewed energy he hadn’t had in him two minutes before.  The wind was against them, and tracking the boar from upwind made the already difficult task even more strenuous.  Every time they got close, it would run ahead again, nearly disappearing in the phantom mist.  By the time they could see a squat, clay house in the distance, they had tracked the boar for what felt like half a day, if not more.  Though they were no strangers to midnight sun, Fenris still wasn’t sure how much he could trust his own sense of time.  He didn’t know if they had been in Múspelheimr for four days or four hours, and didn’t know how much longer they were likely to have to travel before finding one of the realm’s few cities.

At first, Fenris thought the water he saw in the near distance was more of the illusive shimmering, but it kept its form as they drew nearer.  The boar walked along the edge of the lake, snorting and grunting as it pressed its snout to the ground and dug into the dirt at the water’s edge.  But Fenris forgot all about the boar and rushed toward the water instead.  He dropped at the bank, but as he scooped up the murky water in his hands, Jörmungandr slapped his hands and spilled the water.

“Don’t drink it,” he said, looking back to the boar.

“Why?” Fenris demanded, his throat aching with the effort of speech.  “Why should I wait? So you can have the first drink, and suck the lake dry?”

Jörmungandr still watched the boar.  “Why would an animal trek across a desert to water, but not drink it?” he asked.

It was a fine question indeed, but Fenris couldn’t understand why he was being asked it.  “What?” he asked.

Jörmungandr pointed to the boar.  “It doesn’t drink.  Look.”

Fenris looked toward the boar as his brother knelt down beside him.  Jörmungandr dipped his fingers into the lake and brought them up to taste them, only to immediately spit the small amount of water back out again.

“Saltwater,” he explained.

Fenris tasted the water as well, nearly gagging as it touched his tongue.  He thought perhaps there was more salt than water in the lake as he tried to scrape it from his tongue with the back of his hand.  Whimpering helplessly, he looked over to his brother, and then back to the boar.  He was tired and he was exhausted, but he could think of no other option for them, unless they wished to die under the suns of Múspelheimr.  For a moment, he looked out over the lake as he weighed his options.  The water spread clear to the horizon and beyond, shimmering in the sun.  No waves played on the surface, and none broke on the shore.  It was still like a pond, but as big as a sea.  It may as well have been a sea of glass for all the use it was to them.

“I’m having it,” Fenris said suddenly, getting to his feet and shedding his clothes as quickly as he could.  If the boar couldn’t lead them to water, it could at least feed them.

“Brother, you’re not thinking clearly,” Jörmungandr said, though he did nothing to stop him.

Fenris gathered what strength he had to make the change, and found it more painful and drawn out than usual.  The wolf was the only form he knew, and assuming it as exhausted as he was took more strength than he was used to, twisting his body and changing his bones.  Ordinarily, it was a matter of seconds to shift his body’s shape, but exhausted and starving, it took much longer than that.  When the change was complete, he fell over onto his side just to breathe and watch the boar as it dug around the water’s edge.  Before it got too far away again, Fenris forced himself to his feet and ran, stretching sore and tired muscles to the point of pain.  On four long legs, he was faster than the boar, and easily outpaced it.  But the boar had tusks, and when it realised it could not outrun its pursuer, it turned to fight.  It lunged and snapped, and had it faced an ordinary wolf it might have prevailed.  But though Fenris was smaller than an ordinary Jötunn wolf, he was smarter and able to confuse the boar and wrestle it off its feet before digging his sharp fangs into the beast’s soft neck.  It squealed and kicked and fought even as its life drained from it, refusing to go easily and wearing Fenris out even more.  Not waiting for it to die, Fenris tore from its flesh, letting the boar’s warm blood quench his thirst.  As the boar’s life faded and ended, Fenris gorged himself on it, not hearing his brother approach until he dropped Fenris’s clothes to the ground.

“You vomit and complain every time you do this,” he said as he sat down on the hard ground.

Fenris’s mouth was so full of his kill, he could barely growl in retort.

“We should at least cook it,” Jörmungandr said.

This time, Fenris did growl before tearing another chunk of meat off with his teeth.

Shaking his head, Jörmungandr got back up and walked around, picking up dried scrub and brush from the ground around them.  There wasn’t enough to build a lasting fire, but it would be enough to cook some of the meat if he built the fire close enough to where the boar lay.  While Jörmungandr busied himself with that, Fenris forced himself away from the boar.  It was easy to eat too much and risk bursting his stomach when he changed back, and avoiding it was a trick he had never quite managed to master.  Certain he had again overdone himself, he lay on the ground and watched as his brother built a small fire and cooked the boar as well as he could with the weak flames he was able to nurture on dried grass and scrub.

“It must drink something,” Jörmungandr said eventually as he cut a strip of meat from the boar.  As he ate, he looked out over the lake thoughtfully.  “It can’t drink the saltwater, surely.”

Fenris grumbled, determined not to vomit despite the almost painful tightness in his belly.  He couldn’t speak in this form, but even if he could, he didn’t think he’d want to.

“You’ve done it again, haven’t you?” asked Jörmungandr.

Fenris grumbled again, and Jörmungandr laughed and reached out to scratch him behind his wolf ears.  Not even having the energy to snap at him for it, Fenris only grumbled again and swatted at him with one paw.

“Who’s a good puppy?” Jörmungandr asked, ruffling Fenris’s fur.

This time, Fenris snarled and snapped at him before he squirmed away as far as he could and let himself bake under the suns.  His dark fur only seemed to make the suns’ heat even hotter, so he rolled over onto his side and changed back into the form of a man, holding his stomach and trying not to be sick.

“Can we go home?” he asked sickly.  “This place is worse than any punishment Þrymr could deliver.”

“No.  Not yet,” Jörmungandr said.  He looked out to the mountains in the distance as the fire burnt itself out at his feet.  “We could go try to lodge with the woman Dad fancies.”

“We can’t go to Asgard,” Fenris said, wondering why his brother thought Odin’s wrath as a better thing than Þrymr’s.

“No, not our stepmother, you idiot,” Jörmungandr said.

“Well, I’m not staying with the trolls,” Fenris said.

Jörmungandr sighed tiredly.  “Not her either, you fool.  The The elf woman.”

Fenris thought about it for a long moment.  “I thought he married her.”

“No.  Not the one he bought.  The one with the farm,” Jörmungandr said before Fenris could say anything further.   “What the hel’s her name?  She threatened to cut your bollocks off because she thought you were fucking her goats.”

“Oh, yes.  Her,” he said, suddenly remembering the strange relationship the father had with the woman.  “I never fucked her goats.  I fucked her sister.”

Jörmungandr rolled his eyes and tore more flesh from the boar.

“Yes, she’s always been kind to us,” Fenris said, ignoring the fact that he was being ignored.  “She might even give us work.”

“I never said I wanted work.  I just said we could go there,” Jörmungandr said bitterly, trying to coax the fire into cooking the side of the boar just a little more before it snuffed itself out completely.

Fenris could feel his skin beginning to burn as he lay on the ground.  He could see the freckles on his shoulder, and wondered if it was just his imagination, or if he was actually getting more of them.  Moving sluggishly and with the knowledge that if he stayed where he was for much longer he may not regain the strength to rise again, Fenris slowly trudged over to the salty lake and fell onto his back into the water.  It was warm, and did little to cool him, but he stayed there all the same.

“We need to move,” Jörmungandr said suddenly.  “Fenris, get dressed.”

“We can wait until nightfall,” Fenris argued, wondering how many months until Múspelheimr would see such a thing.

“Fenris, get your furry ass out of the water and get dressed,” Jörmungandr said urgently as he leapt to his feet and began scattering the remains of their fire.

Fenris could hear the desperate terror in his brother’s voice, and with it found a new bout of energy.  He quickly climbed out of the water, trying to shake himself dry and rub the salt off his skin.  As he scrambled to find all of his discarded clothes, Fenris noticed a man in the distance, calling out as he walked along the lake.  He couldn’t hear the words being shouted across the desert, but even from the distance, he could see the unmistakable shape of large, sweeping horns atop the man’s head.  Suddenly, Fenris remembered the house in the distance, and felt every ounce of Jörmungandr’s panic.  It had not occurred to him until that moment that the boar did not drink from the lake because it had a ready supply of fresh water somewhere else.  And the person who controlled that water was now walking straight toward them.  Worse, he was no man at all.  He was a giant, and Fenris had had quite enough of giants for the day.

“You don’t think?” he asked, struggling to pull on his breeches.

“I do think, which is why we must leave,” Jörmungandr said.

Their scrambling had attracted the attention of the man, and soon his pace had quickened toward them.  As he ran along the bank and drew nearer, Fenris realised their assailant was bigger than any giant he had ever seen on Jötunheimr.  He looked around frantically, unable to remember where they had come from.  The desert was an endless, flat sprawl, offering little protection or shelter.  Even if they did manage to outrun the giant, they would not be able to hide.  Having few other options, they simply picked a direction and ran.  But their flight only incited the giant further.  He ran after them, gaining on them quickly with long strides.  Fenris wished he had not changed back from his wolf form, knowing he’d have been able to out pace the giant on four legs.  But he didn’t have the time to waste, and when the giant caught up with them, he picked them both up off the ground by their necks and held them up to his face.

Fenris and Jörmungandr struggled against his grip, slowly choking from the weight of their own bodies.  Fenris managed to grab onto the giant’s wrist and pull himself up enough to allow himself to breathe, and looked up at the giant who meant to murder them.  He had hair like a pony’s mane, long and black, with the sides shorn and showing tattoos on his blood red skin, and a long scar that reached almost to his eye.  On the same side, his horn was bent and crooked from repeated breaks.  The same horn that was right above Fenris’ head, and which could easily crack his skull open if the giant chose to.  If Fenris had seen the man’s face before, he would never have followed the boar in the first place.

“Troll children,” he spat.

“We’re not trolls,” Fenris said, struggling to hold on.

“Have you run out of livestock to kill in your own realm, that you’ve had to come here to do it?” asked the giant.

Fenris looked to his brother, but Jörmungandr was too busy trying to keep breathing to say anything.

“We didn’t know it was yours,” Fenris pleaded.  “We can pay.  We have gold.”

“I don’t want your filthy troll gold,” the giant shouted as he threw both of them to the hard ground.

Fenris knew he should run, but he couldn’t even find his feet.  His throat burned even more than it had before, and he had no strength left in his arms at all.  Beside him, Jörmungandr choked and coughed into the dirt as he struggled to find his breath again.

When the giant turned away, Fenris thought he might actually leave them.  He dodged out of the way of the giant’s long tail as swung it around, and for one glorious, shining second, he thought they might be able to get away from this new problem.  But it was a short-lived relief. The giant only turned away to grab a large stone from the ground before raising it into the air and stepping closer again.

“No, wait,” Jörmungandr said, struggling to get up and pull Fenris with him.  Fenris stayed on the ground, trying to shield his face with his arms.

“It’s just a boar.  We can replace it.  We’ll bring you two,” Jörmungandr insisted desperately.

“That sow gave me a new litter every morning.  Since we won’t be having boar tonight, my daughters will have to settle for troll,” the giant said.  “Did you kill it before you raped it, or after?”

Knowing he couldn’t run, Fenris curled up as tightly as he could, covering his head with his arms.

“I didn’t fuck the pig!” Fenris said, daring to look up at the giant.

“Goats!” Jörmungandr shouted suddenly.

Fenris was so startled, he forgot he was trying to protect himself, and looked up at his brother.  Jörmungandr seemed to have startled and confused the giant as well.  He stood there, holding his stone and looking between the two of them.

“What would I want with goats?” the demanded.

“Björn’s goats,” Jörmungandr said, looking to Fenris again.  “You’ve seen it.  After he kills them, he brings them back.  We can get you that magic.”

“Yes!” Fenris agreed.  

He doubted that they actually could, since Björn’s talent with magic was minimal at best.  But if they could convince the giant they could get it, they could at least escape; flee to Niðavellir or Álfheimr and put Múspelheimr far behind them.

“You expect me to believe that?” the giant asked, laughing.  “I’d rather eat troll.”

“No, we can,” Jörmungandr insisted.  “Just let us go, and we can bring it back to you.”

The giant shook his head.  “You must think I’m stupid,” he said, raising his stone again.

“You need only the bones, and we left those unbroken.  My brother and I will go to Björn to find how to bring the boar back, and return here with that magic,” Jörmungandr said with a confidence that made him sound like their father.  He hardly seemed to notice the stone at all.

The giant turned and looked back toward what was left of the boar.

“And until then, there still remains plenty of meat for supper,” Jörmungandr pointed out.

The giant sighed and grabbed both of them by the necks again and dragged them across the desert, back to the boar.

“Pick it up,” he demanded, dropping them again. “Wasteful, filthy trolls.”

He stood over them as they lifted the torn and mangled remains of the boar.  They had not eaten much of the large animal, but if the rest of the giant’s family were all as big as he was, the boar alone may not have been big enough to feed them all.  Fenris looked to Jörmungandr as they carried the beast across the desert, but his brother seemed just as lost for ideas of escape as he.

The house in the desert was squat, for a giant’s house, and dug halfway into the ground.  There were no windows, and outside it was a large steel kettle with a tight lid, and iron pipes leading back into the house.  Jörmungandr and Fenris took the boar inside, walking precariously down large steps.  Inside, the air was considerably cooler, with no fire burning in the empty hearth, or windows to let in the heat from outside.  On the other end of the house, four women — one older than the rest — braided one another’s hair.  The older of the four looked up at the as they entered and frowned, quickly turning her consternation to her husband.

“Ægir, what have you brought into this house?” she demanded.

“Trolls,” he said, pushing Jörmungandr and Fenris toward the centre of the room.  “They’ve killed our boar.  I’ll kill one tonight and make the other fish until it drops dead.”

“We can bring the boar back,” Fenris insisted.

“We know Björn of Asgard.  He has this magic,” Jörmungandr said.  “All you need are the boar’s bones.  Strip them and dry them, but do not break them.  We can go to Björn and learn his magic and bring it back here to you.”

Ægir laughed.  “Yes, I know Björn.  Slayer of giants.  Isn’t that what they call that little halfbreed whelp?” he asked.

Jörmungandr grit his teeth as he pulled off his tunic.  The Jötnar of Múspelheimr were still Jötnar, and had many of the same rituals as their cousins from Jötunheimr.  Ægir had more bands tattooed around his forearms than could easily be counted, and so many crests and totems on his bare chest that he had run out of room in the usual places and wore some on his scalp.  If he didn’t believe their words, he would at least have to believe what he saw.  Jörmungandr wore his sister’s band on his right arm, and his brother’s wolf and his father’s fox on his chest.  And on his side, he wore Björn’s hammer.  Ægir stood silently, staring at the image of Mjölnir as Jörmungandr stared back up at him defiantly.

“Rán,” Ægir said finally, barely looking away long enough to address her.

She got up and walked closer, looking first to Jörmungandr, and then to her husband.  The two of them looked at one another for a long moment, having a silent conversation in the way of married couples.

“I would rather not eat troll,” Rán said finally.

Ægir nodded.  “Where’s Bára?” he asked.

“Outside, watering the horse,” Rán said.

“Fetch her,” said Ægir.  “And tell the rest to get ready to go to the lake.”

Rán nodded and left, and it was only then that Jörmungandr put his tunic back on.  He continued to glare up at Ægir, making Fenris wish he could do something to ease the situation without making it worse or getting himself killed.  But all he could do was stand there and watch the two of them size one another up.

“One of you stays,” Ægir said finally.

“I will,” said Jörmungandr before Fenris even had the chance to consider the choices.

Ægir turned his attention from Jörmungandr to Fenris then, making him wish he was still being ignored.  “If you do not return with this magic, he dies,” Ægir said simply.

Fenris nodded stiffly.  “And when I do, we both go free,” he said, trying not to make it sound like a question.

“Only if you bring the magic, and the magic works.  On the entire boar,” Ægir said.

Fenris nodded again, knowing what Ægir meant.  As an ordinary boar, it was just as useless to him and his family as a dead boar.  Fenris could barely tell where Ægir’s tattoos began and ended, but even if half his family was living, he still had many mouths to feed.  Before Fenris could say anything to assure Ægir he would return with the magic, the door opened again and a young giantess stepped inside.  She was only slightly shorter than her father, and her head was completely shorn on one side, while her dark hair on the other was braided tightly against her scalp so it fell neatly behind her neck.  Like her mother, she wore only a thin, linen wrap that stopped at her knees, but her dark skin kept her from burning beneath the hot suns.

“Father, what is that?” she asked, standing near the stairs.  She stared at Jörmungandr and Fenris, making no effort to conceal her disgust with their presence in her home.

“Bára, fetch your sword.  Take this runt to Asgard,” Ægir said, pointing to Fenris.

Bára still stared at Jörmungandr and Fenris.  “Why?” she asked.

“They killed the boar, and they claim they can restore it.  Either you return with that magic, or prepare to eat troll and fish until winter,” Ægir said.  He picked up the boar and slung it over his shoulder as he walked to the door.  “If the troll tries to escape, kill it.”  He walked back outside, slamming the door behind him.

Bára finally looked away from Jörmungandr and Fenris to look at the spilled blood on the floor where the boar had been.  “When I said I was tired of boar, this is not what I meant,” she said with a sigh.  She turned her glare back to Fenris and tugged hard on his shoulder.  “Come, troll.”

Fenris followed after, expecting her to walk out into the desert toward the gate, but instead she walked around behind the house to a small stable behind it.  She took up one of the few swords leaning in a corner and buckled the belt around her waist as if she were preparing for battle.  Its blade was a long as Fenris was tall, steel gleaming in the sunlight.

She walked inside the stable, toward the massive horse that lived there.  Fenris looked up at the beast and stepped back from it as far as he could without leaving the stable.

“Two things,” he said as Bára began dressing it.

“What?” she asked tersely.

“One.  My father has a pony, and it’s too big for me to ride.  I’m not getting on that,” he said, pointing straight at the horse’s face.  “And two, how do you propose to get it to Asgard? It won’t fit through the gate.”

Bára stopped with the blanket halfway on the horse.  “Is this the truth, troll?” she asked.

Fenris stalled uncertainly.  “You’ve never been to the gates?” he asked.

“I’ve never had reason,” said Bára.  “Surely they open, as gates do.”

Fenris shook his head.  “Well, I suppose you could get it through if you smashed the arch, but if you went around smashing gate arches, you’d wind up with elves being devoured by white bears, and dragons burning up dwarfs, and Norns know what else.  If you had gryphons here, you wouldn’t even have had a boar for us to kill.”

“What’s a gryphon?” asked Bára.

“It’s a mountain cat that someone put wings on,” Fenris answered simply.  “They like to eat horses and people, but will settle for anything on legs.”

Perhaps not horses like Bára’s, but she didn’t know that.  She looked to her horse warily and put the blanket back where she’d taken it from.  “Then we walk,” she decided.

“Do we have anything to drink?” asked Fenris, knowing what had caused the entire mess in the first place.  His throat still burned, and the longer he stood under the suns, the more tired he could feel himself growing.

Bára hesitated thoughtfully before taking two large water skins and filling them from the horse trough.  Rather than offering one to Fenris, she tied them both to her belt and walked back out to the desert.

“Where’s mine?” Fenris asked.

“This will keep you close,” Bára said.

Fenris rolled his eyes and followed.  “You must think so little of us,” he said, not needing the incentive to do as he promised he would.  Not when his brother already had an axe held over his head.  “Damn giants go around squashing us like ants.  If they don’t decide they’d rather screw our women instead.”

“Has society fallen so far on Jötunheimr that it’s now common to bed trolls?” asked Bára.  “I always thought it was trolls who stole Jötunn women.”

Fenris groaned tiredly.  “At least I don’t have a tail,” he said.

 Bára looked down at her tail, frowning deeply.  Then, she strode on with an even faster pace. 

“Stop talking, troll,” she said.

“I’m still not a troll,” Fenris said, reaching up to scratch at the whiskers that grew on his chin and gave away his lies.

He walked behind Bára as they journeyed back across the desert to the gate to Midgard.  The suns beat down on them, and soon Fenris found his steps coming as uneasily as they had when he walked with his brother.  He was still tired and parched, and being back out in the heat only brought it all up to the surface again.

“I need water,” he said, sitting heavily on the ground.

“How much farther is it?” asked Bára, looking ahead over the endless desert.

“Don’t know.  Don’t care.  Water,” Fenris said.

Bára looked down at him, first with incredulity, and then with alarm.  She knelt in front of him and placed her hand over the side of Fenris’ face, grimacing when her palm dragged over his whiskers.  Fenris wanted to pull back, but she tilted his head up to look at his face, holding onto him tightly.

“Here.  Drink,” she said, handing him one of the water skins.

Knowing there was another full skin, and more beyond that once they reached Asgard, Fenris drank greedily.  He drained half of the water skin, wetting the front of his tunic in the process, before finally gasping for air and leaning back on his elbows.  His throat and chest still burned, but it was a comfortable burn, and one he welcomed.  He handed the skin back as he caught his breath and looked out over the distant mountains on the horizon.

“Where do you get the water?” he asked, only then realising he had not been given saltwater.

Bára hesitated before answering, as if not sure she should tell him at all.  “My father has found a way to make ale from the water in the lakes.  Before we brew, half of the clean water goes to the animals,” she said.

“So you live off of boar and ale?” asked Fenris.  He pulled himself up to his feet and stretched his aching muscles, wondering how long it would take him to grow tired of boar every day.

“We sometimes eat fish, but it’s dry and salty.  People die from eating too much of it,” Bára said.

Fenris watched one of the phantom pools glimmer in the distance before continuing toward the gate once more.  He wondered what fish on Múspelheimr must be like, to survive in a realm that never saw rain except for once every few years.  Jötnar were hardy, and survived much that would kill even the Æsir.  If the fish of the realm were unsafe for even Jötnar to eat, they must have been the deadliest creatures in all the realms.  Fenris wondered if Ægir would feed Jörmungandr fish, and if not, what else his brother might have to eat if it took too long to fetch the magic from Björn.

They walked across the desert in silence after that, while the suns stayed on their stationary perch high above the realm.  But Fenris realised that even though the suns stayed still, the moons did not.  They moved across the sky just as they moved across Jötunheimr’s sky, marking the passage of the days.  They had moved from one end of the horizon to the next, and as they fell out of view behind the mountains, Fenris began to fear they had gone the wrong way; that in his confusion, he had travelled in the wrong direction and got them lost.  He couldn’t remember how long it had taken them to trudge across Múspelheimr, but trudging back with Bára seemed to have taken twice as long.  Though, he wondered how much of that was the heat and exhaustion confusing him.  He did not remember which direction the moons had been travelling before, because he had not thought to look.

He tried to ignore it and the burn in his chest as he focused on taking each new step.  Two dark birds circled high above, as if waiting for Fenris and Bára to drop dead mid-stride, but they didn’t stay for long.  They soon flew off toward the horizon, disappearing in the distance.

Not long after, Fenris could see the gate up ahead through the shimmering air.  Despite being a realm of giants, Múspelheimr had few large beasts roaming its surface.  The gate leading to Midgard wasn’t much of a gate at all, but rather two large pillars of carved stone, with no arch connecting them.  The pillars of stone stood barely taller than Fenris, in their own way still serving as a marker for the gate on the other side.

“You lied,” Bára said.  “Have you told any truth today?”

“I have told nothing but truth today,” Fenris said, knowing he should have expected her reaction.  Giants were stubborn, and once they had an idea, they would let go of it for nothing.  Fenris had known this all his life.  He stepped toward the gate, but didn’t cross it.  “You’ll want to duck.”

Without another word, he stepped through the gate to the crossing point on Midgard, savouring the cool air on the other side.  Several moments later, Bára followed him through the low stone arch, clipping her head against it as she crossed.  She looked up at it accusingly, and then with wonderment as she realised where she was.

The crossing point sat on top of a small hill within a valley, surrounded on all sides by tall trees.  Soft, green grass covered the ground beneath their feet, moving in the gentle breeze, while Midgard’s single, yellow sun hung low on the horizon, casting long shadows over the valley.  Bára looked around her with wide eyes, hesitantly bending over to touch the ground.

“What is it?” she asked, plucking some of it up.

“Grass,” said Fenris, looking around the ring of arches and trying to decide what to do next.  “You can eat it, if you like.  Animals do.”

Bára cautiously put one of the blades into her mouth, and spat it back out again.

“I never said it would taste good,” Fenris said, laughing.

“Are all trolls as foul as you?” she asked, spitting onto the ground.

“I am not a troll,” said Fenris, wondering which gate he might have to travel through to find his father.  But he could have been anywhere, and Fenris knew it, though Loki would have surely known either where to find the magic Fenris and Jörmungandr had promised, or known how to forge it long enough to escape.  The odds of finding him were slim, and Jörmungandr wouldn’t have much time before Ægir grew impatient.  Their father liked to hide away for months at a time, returning with new treasures and new bounties on his head each time.

“Come on then.  We’re going to Asgard,” he decided reluctantly.

Bára stepped back, looking at each of the gates around them.  “You mean to actually travel there?” she asked.

“How else do you propose to speak to Björn and fetch his magic?” asked Fenris, stepping toward Asgard’s gate.

“It is forbidden,” Bára insisted.

“Not much I can do about that.  We’ll just have to be careful,” Fenris said, not sure how they’d actually manage that when all on Asgard knew his face, and Bára was obviously Jötnar.  He knew just as well as Bára what waited on the other side of the gate, but he also knew they hadn’t much choice if they wished to see their families survive.

Bára looked toward the sky and shook her head.  “No.  I won’t go,” she said.  “How many moons does this realm have? You have until the last moon rises.”

Fenris looked to the setting sun, knowing any answer he gave to that question would backfire.  “One,” he answered honestly.  “And you’ll give me until it sets.”

Bára looked up again and nodded.  “Very well.  If you do not return by then, I will return home and tell my father you only meant to escape.”

“Fine.”  Fenris stepped through the gate to Asgard and found the realm shrouded in the darkness of night.  As he walked along the wooded path, he briefly considered going to Odin himself, but did not look forward to the inevitable trouble that would follow.  Nor could he even be certain Odin would help, even if he did know the magic.

Instead, Fenris followed the path to the city, keeping as close to the shadows as he could.  Björn’s house was near the edge of the city, with a large pen for his goats to destroy and escape from.  They were Jötunn goats, the size of Æsir ponies, and they bleated loudly and rushed to the high fence as Fenris approached.  They jumped and thrashed their heads, knocking their horns against the fence and kicking it with their front hooves.  Before Fenris reached the fence, the door to the house opened and Björn stepped outside, brandishing a large stick.

“Shut up, damn you,” he shouted, slamming the stick against the fence.

Fenris stepped out from his hiding place in the shadows, wondering if the goats would have kicked up the same racket if he hadn’t approached.

“Björn,” he called out.

Björn stopped and looked up sharply to Fenris.  “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“I need your help,” Fenris said, stepping closer to the light.

“You should not be here,” said Björn, looking around for witnesses.  “If Odin knew—”

“Then don’t tell him,” said Fenris.

Rather than respond, Björn took Fenris by the shoulders and roughly guided him inside.  His house was warm and dry, but not stifling and oppressive like Múspelheimr had been.  Fenris allowed himself to be led inside and away from the door, giving Björn’s wife a toothy grin.  Járnsaxa rolled her eyes and shook her head, but said nothing as Björn and Fenris walked to the other end of the house, away from the children, asleep together on a small bed.

“What are you doing here, Fenris?” Björn asked quietly, looking back over to his family while they ignored what was happening.

“I need your goats,” Fenris said.

“My goats?” asked Björn.

“Yes,” said Fenris.

“No.”  Björn stepped back, offended.  “What makes you think I would give you my goats?”

Fenris shrugged.  “You don’t seem to like them very much,” he reasoned.  Björn did not seem impressed, but Fenris wasn’t going to let that stop him.  “And it’s not the goats I need.  I need their magic.  Which I assume means I may have to kill one of them.”

“No,” Björn repeated.

“They come back,” Fenris said.

“You won’t sway me on this.  I will not give you either of them, no matter how foul they are,” Björn said.  And then he shrugged casually.  “Besides.  I don’t know how the magic works.”

“They’re your goats.  What do you mean you don’t know?” asked Fenris.

Björn shrugged again.  “They came to me like this.”

“Well, what do you do to make it work?” asked Fenris.

“I strike them with Mjölnir,” Björn said.  It was information that was completely useless, since Fenris knew he was never going to get Mjölnir from Björn, no matter what he tried.

“Then come with me,” he said.

Björn laughed.  “Whatever you’ve done, I’m certain a blow from Mjölnir would only make it worse,” he said.

He was right, and Fenris knew it.  The magic was not in Mjölnir, but in the goats.  Otherwise, every creature and being Björn struck with the hammer would rise as quickly as it was struck down.  Fenris would have to find whatever had brought the magic to them, and he would have to do so before Bára returned home.  Fenris sighed and turned away, not sure what to do.

“Does Odin know this magic?” he asked, not sure if he was feeling desperate or hopeful.

“I’m sure he does.  But you know what happened the last time someone tried to take information he did not wish them to have,” Björn said.

Fenris nodded.  “Aye,” he said.

Somehow his father was exempt to nearly every law on Asgard, but that exemption did not follow to Fenris or Jörmungandr.  Jötnar had been barred from Asgard for generations, but for reasons only Odin knew, he had made a single exception.  Not looking forward to being flayed, or worse, Fenris turned back toward the door.  He stopped at the threshold just long enough to turn back around and nod to Járnsaxa.

“Good evening,” he said.

Járnsaxa nodded back and offered a thin smile.  “I would leave, if I were you.  He never truly sleeps, and he will find you here.”

Knowing she spoke the truth, Fenris left the house and ran back up the road, keeping to the shadows as much as possible.  Björn was no help, and Odin wasn’t an option.  Not knowing what else to do, Fenris turned away from the gate and ran deeper into the woods.  The house was difficult to find in the dark, away from the road and hidden far back into the trees, but Fenris knew these paths well.  Loki had frequently smuggled him into Asgard when they were young, and he still remembered many of the secret places.  He found the house in the woods beyond the palace grounds, with faint fire glow flickering through the cracks in the door, and walked toward it.  He knocked, knowing the door would be locked, and uncertain if he would even be welcome.  But it was the last place he knew he could turn.

The door opened, and Fenris’ stepmother peered out, clearly exhausted from tending to the house by herself.  She smiled warmly when she saw him, but her smile soon faded as she looked behind him.

“Where is your brother?” she asked.

“We did something bad,” Fenris said bleakly.

Above him, hidden in the trees, Fenris heard the rustling of feathers.  He looked up, trying to find the source, but all he could see was blackness, with the occasional star shining through the dense canopy.

“Come inside,” said Sigrid, looking up as well.

She tugged him inside and shut the door, locking it behind them.

“He’s watching,” she said as she stepped closer to the fire pit to tend to the flames.

Fenris looked around the house, and already knew the answer to his question before he asked it.  “Is my father here?”

Sigrid shook her head.  “No.  He has not been home for weeks.  You know how he is.”

“I do,” said Fenris.

She sighed, and for a moment Fenris thought he was about to get an earful over something.

“How is your mother?” Sigrid asked instead.

Fenris considered the question.  “Prone to melancholy. My uncle’s wife is with child again.”

Sigrid looked at Fenris sadly and nodded. “Children should bring happiness, and it’s unfortunate when they do not,” she said.

Fenris shrugged, unsure what to say.  He looked over to the bed Sigrid should have shared with his father, struck suddenly by the realisation that it was the only bed their house would ever see.  Standing there near the door, Fenris felt the weight of his own exhaustion, and sat down on a bench along the wall.  While he rested, Sigrid disappeared into the cellar underground, returning with a large horn of ale and some cured meat.

“Tell me, Fenris.  What have you done, and where is your brother?” asked Sigrid, handing both to him.

Fenris told her, and she listened patiently, sitting on the bench beside him.  Even before he finished, Fenris thought Sigrid might know some information that might help him, but she remained silent until he finished, even listening to Fenris telling her about leaving Bára at the crossing point, and Björn refusing to help in any way.  She passed no judgement, even knowing Fenris had brought these problems on himself.  Sitting there with her in the dark, telling her how he had caused so much harm, he could see why his father had married her.  How he must have fallen in love with the way she offered comfort just by listening.

“Björn wouldn’t know that magic,” she said once Fenris fell into silence with a shrug.  “It’s ancient, from a time before Odin’s reign.”

She paused just long enough for Fenris to feel the rising panic in his throat.

“What do you know of the old gods?” asked Sigrid.

Fenris shook his head.  “Do you mean the time of Bor’s reign?” he asked.

“No.  There are gods older than Yggdrasil, who rose and made power from nothing.  They planted the seed that laid Yggdrasil’s roots, and created the paths we travel between the realms,” Sigrid said.

Those gods, Fenris did know, though he had never heard any call them gods.  They had other names, as varied as their power, but never gods.

“Niflheimr?” he asked.

“You’ll find this magic there, but it will not be easily given,” said Sigrid.

Fenris stood still, half expecting Sigrid to offer him another way.  Instead, she fetched him two furs and one of Loki’s large bows.  She strung the bow with little effort and gave it to him, along with two dozen arrows he hoped he wouldn’t have to use.  As he struggled to find a way to carry all of it, Sigrid disappeared to the cellar again, before bringing up a bottle of ale and more of the cured meats.

“I can’t hit anything,” he said, getting the bow over his shoulders so he could wrap the rest in one of the furs.

“Then travel swiftly.  It can be done in a day, if you stop for nothing.”  Sigrid kissed him on the cheek before opening the door to let him out.

As he left the house, Fenris looked up to the branches above, but saw nothing watching him.  Knowing it didn’t mean he was alone, he ran back toward the gate as swiftly as he could.  Once he was back on the road, he looked up to see a dark bird flying between the thinning branches above.  He knew its brother wasn’t far behind, but rather than trying to look for it, Fenris ran even faster.  He came to the gate, not knowing whether the ravens would follow him through, and ran to Midgard.

“Odin knows I was there,” he said, only realising after he spoke that Bára was gone.  He looked around the crossing point, hoping to find her nearby, but the valley was empty.  More than that, something seemed wrong about it.  He looked to the sky, realising he had spent more time on Asgard than he’d thought.  The sun had set and risen again, and Midgard’s lonely moon was nowhere to be seen.  Fenris dropped everything to the ground and ran back through the gate to Múspelheimr, cursing its sky and soil for existing.  Once on the other side, he didn’t stop.  He ran back in the direction he and Jörmungandr had first gone.  He would not let himself think about what might happen if Bára returned home before he could reach her.  He ran as fast as he could, ignoring the burning in his throat and lungs, and the hot suns baring down on him.  It was a long distance to run, from the gate back to Ægir’s home, but it was an even longer distance to walk, and soon he spotted Bára slowly making her way back home.  He ran until he caught up with her, reaching for her skirt to get her attention.  But his fingers were too numb to grasp anything, and his legs too tired to carry him any longer, and he fell into the dirt at her feet, panting and heaving for breath that wouldn’t come.  His vision swam and greyed as he struggled to sit up, but it seemed that none of the air he breathed even reached his lungs.

“You came back,” Bára said, surprised.

Fenris nodded weakly and tried to speak, but he couldn’t find his voice.

“Do you have it?” asked Bára.

Fenris tried to speak again, managing barely more than a croak before falling heavily to the ground as he shook his head.  Bára crouched down and helped him sit up, pulling him by the back of his tunic.

“Are all trolls as fragile as you?” asked Bára as she handed him the remaining water skin.

Fenris drank greedily, trying not to choke.  “Not a troll,” he said breathlessly when he was done.

“Do you have the magic?” Bára asked again.

This time, Fenris shook his head.  “Didn’t have it,” he said, still panting heavily.  “Know where to get it.  Need time.”

“You don’t get any more time.  My sisters don’t have any more time,” Bára said.

Fenris shook his head again.  “I need more time.  Killing my brother won’t help your sisters.  Give me the time I need and I can put this right.”  He thought of his mother, back home on Jötunheimr, and how Jörmungandr’s death would destroy her.

“No,” Bára said.

“Will your father honour his word?” asked Fenris.  “Will my brother be safe as long as you’re with me?”

Bára nodded.  “Yes, but not for long,” she said.

“Then let me honour my word before he goes back on his,” said Fenris, pulling himself up against her weight.  “I know where to find the magic.  I just need time to get there.”

“Where?” asked Bára.

Fenris emptied the water skin and handed it back.  “Niflheimr,” he said grimly.

“You’re mad,” Bára said.  “I will not go to Niflheimr any more than I will go to Asgard.”

“Then your sisters will starve,” Fenris told her plainly.  

He didn’t wait to see if she would follow him, and started walking back to the gate.  He knew she would follow eventually.  When she caught up with him, neither of them said anything as they walked back to the gate in silence.  On the other side, Fenris found the skins and the bow Sigrid had given him, all exactly where he had dropped them.

“He would have skinned me alive,” Fenris said quietly as he shouldered the bow and handed Bára the furs and ale.

“What?” asked Bára.

Fenris shook his head and looked around at the gates, eight of them, for the eight realms bordering Midgard.  He tried to think back on the maps he had seen his father draw.  Few knew the passages between realms like his father, but Loki was not there to guide him now.

“Which one is it?” asked Bára, looking down at the furs Fenris had given her as if she had never seen such things.

“That one,” Fenris said distantly, pointing to his left.  “But it’s not Niflheimr we need to go to.  This gate is too far north.  Or south.”  He couldn’t remember it clearly enough.  He knew Yggdrasil did not start at Niflheimr, but had roots that went even deeper.  Niflheimr and Midgard were the trunk, the higher and common realms were the branches, and the lower realms were the roots.  But to get to where that first seed was planted, one had to go beyond Niflheimr, to her shadow realms.

“Worms and termites that dig in the soil,” Fenris recited to himself, trying to remember the words.

Bára watched him curiously.  “What nonsense are you talking about now?” she asked.

Fenris waved his hand to silence her so he could think.  “The termites dig into the tree, making the soil sick and barren.  The worms feed the tree…Svartálfheimr,” said Fenris, tapping his fingers against his leg with each word.  “The gate to the Norns is through Svartálfheimr.”

“What?” Bára asked again.

Fenris stepped close to the Svartálfheimr gate and turned to face Bára again.  

“This gate to Niflheimr is too far from its shadow realms.  To walk to Nornheimr would take months,” he said, putting his father’s riddle into plain words.  “But if you go through Yggdrasil’s roots, which tangle over one another, it’s quicker.  Niðavellir’s gate is closer to Nornheimr, but getting there from its Midgard gate is deadly.  Svartalfheimr’s is still deadly, but faster by both measures.”  

He remembered the maps, watching his father draw them and write cryptic directions to the paths he wished to keep secret.  Loki knew paths between all the realms, even without gate travel, and he had recorded all of it, even though he wished to share none of it.

Fenris turned to smile at Bára, finding her far less than amused.  “You’ll want to put one of those on,” he said, pointing to the furs.

Bára found the larger of the two and draped it over her shoulders, using the brooch that was pinned into it to attach it in front of her neck. It was barely long enough to reach her hips, still leaving her legs bare to the weather.  She didn’t seem to mind, so when she looked ready enough, Fenris nocked an arrow and cautiously stepped through the gate to Svartálfheimr.  On the other side, it was dark and cold, as a light snow drifted down from the grey sky.  Bára followed after him, gasping loudly as she stepped through.  Fenris let himself smile as he scanned the area as best he could, letting her puzzle over the cold and toe at the snow with her sandals.

“Just you wait,” he said.  The trees around them were all empty and quiet, so Fenris lowered the bow and unstrung it, and reached for the second fur.  Rather than wearing it, he laid it onto the ground and put the bow and arrows on top of it.  Acting quickly, he undressed, piling his clothes in with the bow and the rest of the supplies Sigrid had given him.

“What are you doing?” Bára demanded, holding her fur tightly around her shoulders.

Fenris pulled off his shoes and tossed them down with the rest.  “I don’t know where to go from here.  I’ll find it more easily if it can smell it.”

Not giving Bára the chance to question him, he pulled off his breeches and changed right there in the snow, growing thick fur and sharp teeth, and taking on a form that was much better suited for skulking around tall trees.  As a wolf, he had the qualities of a wolf.  He could see better though the snow, and he could hear and smell the forest for miles around them.  He sniffed the air, and then the ground around the gate, walking a wide circle around it.  He could smell nothing familiar, but there was something different.  Something that smelled like tracks leading away from the gate and to the east.  Assuming it would lead him somewhere, Fenris followed it, keeping his nose buried in the snow.  Behind him, Bára picked up his makeshift pack before following him, keeping one hand on her sword.

The path wove through trees, meandering as if lost.  As the sky darkened and the light faded, Fenris looked up to his companion and gave in to his exhaustion.  He looked around for any sort of shelter, but saw only trees and snow.  While Bára was twice his size, and he was accustomed to the cold, they would both freeze if they did not find somewhere warm to sleep.  He began walking in wide circles again, hoping to find any kind of den large enough for the two of them, but all he found was flat ground and towering conifers.  When he heard the clicking of stone against steel, he turned back to find Bára trying to build a fire on wet branches.  Before he could tell her it was a fruitless effort, the branches caught and flame rose up from the wood.  He leapt forward and dropped down to the ground beside the fire as Bára continued to build it up with low branches she pulled from the trees.  When the fire began to grow too big, she pulled Fenris back by the scruff of his neck and sat down on the cold ground next to him.

“Can all trolls do this?” she asked, watching him warily.

Fenris grumbled, trusting she knew what he meant to say.  He lay down on the ground, hesitant to change back.  He stayed warmer as a wolf, and could help keep Bára warm as well, if she would be willing to share space with him.  He watched the fire crackle and dance as Bára fed it more branches.  He knew she was cold, and she was hungry, and she was far from home, so he offered her the comfort of silence, letting her forget he was there with her while she rummaged through the supplies Sigrid had sent with them.  She found the meat, but eyed it warily and let it be.  It was his fault she was there and he knew it, but if she was too proud and disgusted by the idea of what he offered, Fenris thought she might deserve to go hungry for the night.

As night fell, he could hear the woods around them begin to wake.  Even Bára heard it, as she looked around with her hand on her sword.  Fenris knew there were wolves in these woods, as well as mountain cats and bears.  The snow muffled sounds, and this close to the fire, Fenris’s wolf eyes could see little more than bright light and dark shadow.  With the fire as large as it was, Fenris could only smell smoke, until the wind shifted.  There was something else near them as well.  Something Fenris couldn’t see or hear, but there all the same.  He jumped to his feet and growled a warning as the mountain cat leapt out from the night.  It was sleek and heavy, grey fur with black spots, and almost twice Fenris’s size.  Fenris dodged out of the way, but not quickly enough.  Its long claws caught his haunches and pulled him off his balance and to the ground again.  He tried to roll out of the way, but the mountain cat stayed on him, having teeth and claws, where Fenris only had teeth.  He tried to kick it off of him with stiff legs, but the mountain cat was like water, twisting around him while it pinned him down.  It tried to go for his neck, but Fenris bit and kicked enough to keep it unsteady.  He tried to get out from under the mountain cat and away from its claws, but every time he moved, its claws found purchase in his skin again, tearing him open to bleed him out on the snow.  He could feel himself growing slower with each moment, knowing it was a losing battle, but still refusing to give up.

Suddenly, the cat went stiff above him.  It jerked and twitched, as if possessed, before finally falling limp on top of him.  Fenris managed to scramble out then, only seeing Bára once he had freed himself from beneath the mountain cat.  She pulled her sword from the side of its neck, making Fenris realise that some of the blood on him wasn’t his.

Most was, though.  He fell down by the fire again with a pathetic yelp.  The snow around the fire was trampled and covered in blood that still fell from Fenris’s sides.  He knew he could stem the flow if he could change, but he wasn’t sure he had the strength to do so.  He tried to wait to gather up what little he had, but the more he waited, the less time he had to fix his wounds.  He forced the change, twisting flesh and bone back to the form of a man as the pained whimpering of a wolf became the anguished cries of a man.  When he was done, he sat naked in the snow, still bleeding in places, but not as badly.  Suddenly, something wet and heavy was dropped over him, and it wasn’t until Bára pulled the fur around Fenris’s shoulders that he realised she had skinned the mountain cat.

“Will you die?” she asked.

Fenris shrugged and looked down at his thigh.  The skin had tried to knit back together where the mountain cat’s claws first caught him, but the wound was deep and refused to close fully.  He had dozens more cuts and gouges in his arms and chest, but they had all been smaller, and had mostly closed over when he changed.

“If I change back, it should heal,” he said, pulling the fur tighter around him.

Bára nodded and began cutting apart the mountain cat.  Despite their size, mountain cats didn’t have much for good meat on them, but it was still meat, and apparently more appetising than what Fenris had brought.  Bára cooked the pieces by putting them directly into the fire, letting it sit on top of the wood as it burned.

“If I’d known it belonged to someone, I wouldn’t have killed it,” Fenris said suddenly, pulling the fur tighter around his shoulders.

Bára looked at him, her red skin almost glowing in the light of the fire.  “I know,” she said.  “Most people do not normally make habit of killing someone else’s livestock.”

“Oh, so I’m people now?” asked Fenris.

Bára looked away suddenly, focusing intently on the cooking mountain cat in the fire.

Fenris laughed.  “I won’t tell anyone,” he said.

He got up to find his clothes and dress, finding the chill of the ground against his skin far more pronounced when he wasn’t covered in fur.  As he reached to pull on his breeches, he caught Bára watching him again.  At first he thought she was about to mock, until he realised where she was looking.  He paused to look at the single band around his right arm, before he let his gaze slip to the many tattooed on Bára’s.

“You only have one,” she observed.

Fenris pulled on his breeches and sat back down to wrap his feet.  “One is all I need,” he said.

“Who is it?” asked Bára.

Fenris wondered if he should answer, but decided there was little gained from refusing her question.  “My sister,” he said.  He looked back over to Bára, unable to count the bands on her arms.  “Who are yours?”

Bára looked down at here arms, running her fingers over the black bands etched on her skin.  “Sisters as well.  And two brothers.  My father’s only sons,” she said.

“Ymir’s tits,” Fenris said quietly.

Bára reached into the fire, quickly pulling out one of the mountain cat’s haunches, crisp and burnt.  She handed it to Fenris, but it was too hot for him to hold, so he dropped it to his feet to cool.  They sat in silence, with only the sound of the fire between them.  Fenris was exhausted, and felt heavy and tight from the effort of staying awake, but he didn’t dare fall asleep.  They were still easy prey for the creatures that roamed Svartálfheimr’s forests.  Hoping it might help wake him, he pulled some of the meat free from the haunch at his feet and ate it.  Mountain cat meat was bitter and tough, but Fenris was tired and hungry enough to ignore it and eat anyway.

“Does the night come so swiftly on all the realms?” asked Bára.

Fenris looked up to the dark sky as he chewed.  “It depends on the season for most.  And where you are on the realm.  Niðavellir has no seasons.  Nor does Niflheimr.  Asgard and Midgard have four.  The days grow longer and shorter on the rest of the realms, sometimes lasting months if you live where it’s cold.”

“Isn’t Jötunheimr nothing but cold?” asked Bára.

“No, not all of it.  Our summers are very green, but very short.”

The answer only seemed to confuse Bára further, but Fenris didn’t know what else to say.  He ate as much of the meat as he could stomach before curling up in the furs as tightly as possible.

“Sleep,” said Bára.  “I can keep watch.”

Fenris yawned loudly.  “I’d rather not wake up dead,” he said.

Still he lay down on the cold ground and watched the fire while sleep overtook him.  When he woke in the morning, the fire still burned lowly.  The meat was all gone, and their tracks from the previous day had all been covered by new snow.  Bára sat near the fire, still awake and poking at the coals with a stick.  Fenris wondered if she’d slept at all during the night, or if the Jötnar of Múspelheimr slept with their very slow suns, hibernating for half the year like giant bears.

Fenris looked around the camp, unsure where they had come from and where they were going.  In fresh light, the area looked completely different.  He looked up to the sky, but thick clouds still hung above them, giving him no indication of which direction they should travel.  Still stiff and bruised from the night before, Fenris quickly undressed and changed back into the wolf, remaining acutely aware of every injury the mountain cat had delivered.  He spared just enough time to sniff at the deep gashes on his leg to make sure they had healed enough to begin travelling again before getting up to sniff around their camp site.  He had to make several passes in a large circle, trying not to limp as he walked, before he picked up their trail back to the gate, and the one they were following away from it.  Once he was certain he had found it, he alerted Bára with a low bark and began following the trail.  Before following him, she kicked out the fire and scattered the coals into the snow and gathered up Fenris’s clothes and supplies.

Even under the snow, he could still pick up the scent of some sort of trail.  Only able to hope it was the trail they needed, he followed it, keeping his snout buried to get as close to the ground as possible.  The snow only fell in occasional flurries, but there was still enough of it on the ground to slow their progress.  Several times, Fenris lost the trail and had to circle around again before he could smell leather and sweat once again.  He knew he was spending too much time in his wolf form when he began to become distracted by the scent of a deer that had crossed the path a day before.  He tried it ignore it the first two times, but when it happened for a third, changed back and quickly dressed, keeping his eyes ahead in the direction the trail had been leading them.  Though it meandered through the trees, it did lead a fairly straight path, which gave Fenris hope that it was the right one.

“Is something wrong?” asked Bára as Fenris pulled on his shoes.

“It should be just a while more,” he said, stretching the muscles in his neck before taking his father’s bow.  He used one of the arrows mark the path, holding it up so it covered their tracks in the snow when he looked down its shaft.  He turned his head, holding the arrow as straight as possible and looked the other way, toward where their target should be.

“If this is the right path, we should be close,” he said, following the point of the arrow and walking as straight as he could through the trees.

“If?” asked Bára.

Fenris shrugged.  “I’ve never been here before,” he said.

He ignored her sighing behind him and kept walking.  The sky above them slowly brightened as morning turned to day.  Even without the ears of a wolf, Fenris could hear something tracking them, unseen in the trees, and picked up his speed as much as he could.

“Please don’t let me die on Svartálfheimr,” he said quietly, realising he was praying to the same gods he sought out.

“What is that?” asked Bára, pointing up ahead.

Fenris peered through the trees, expecting to see another mountain cat, or a prowling wolf.  Instead, he saw something tall and slender standing in the distance.  It took him a moment to realise it wasn’t a being, but a gate.  The gate to Niflheimr.

“Quickly,” he said, breaking into a run and eager to be away from Svartálfheimr.  He could hear something following them as they ran toward the gate, but he kept his eyes straight ahead and didn’t look back.  They ran through the gate, Bára having to duck awkwardly through it, to a wide open plain covered in rime and snow.  Fenris ran several long strides away from the gate before stopping to turn back to it, but the creature that had followed them on Svartálfheimr seemed reluctant to follow them through the gate to Niflheimr.  Whatever had followed them on Svartálfheimr likely knew to be wary of what lay beyond the gate.  Heavy winds blew across the frozen plain, kicking up frozen pellets of frost and ice like sand.  Shielding his eyes from it, Fenris looked to the sky, straining to see the sun behind the patchwork clouds that rolled across the sky.

“We need to go south,” he said uncertainly, unable to tell which direction the sun was going.

“You know where to go on this realm, but not the other?” asked Bára as she bundled into her furs.

“Trees start at the bottom.  We need to get to the roots,” said Fenris.

He thought he might have better luck finding the right direction if he changed into the wolf again, but the wind blew so hard and the air was so cold that he could barely manage to make himself move, let alone undress.  His mother may have been Jötunn, but he had inherited his father’s complexion and intolerance to cold.  He could change without first removing his clothes, and had done so in the past, but the clothing never survived the process.  If he did that now, he would be either stuck as the wolf, or forced to conduct business naked and cold.  Bundling into his fur, he looked back to the sky again.

“South is this way,” Bára said suddenly, walking away from the gate.

Fenris looked to her, and then back toward the sky.  “How do you know?” he asked.

Bára paused and looked up as well.  “Because the sun is rising, which makes that east,” she declared.

Fenris squinted against the light, but couldn’t see the sun moving at all.  “You’re making that up,” he said, following after her anyway.  He knew they wouldn’t find shelter out there on Niflheimr’s tundra, and getting to Nornheimr was their only chance of surviving the night.

“No more than you,” said Bára wryly.

“There’s one more gate,” Fenris said, shaking his head.  “We must find that before night falls.  Unless you can build fire from nothing, we will freeze.”

“No more than frost giants can control the snow,” Bára said, casting a sideways glance toward Fenris.

“I’m not a giant either, in case you missed that,” he said, rolling his eyes.

He trudged on, bracing himself against the wind as it picked up again.  The tundra spread endlessly in all directions, covered in a layer of hard frost and snow that broke beneath their feet as they walked.  Bára’s sandals provided little protection against the cold, and the fur she wore over her shoulders billowed out behind her in the wind, offering little protection from the cold.  Fenris thought he might have been able to move quickly if he took on the wolf form, but Bára was still slow, and would be slowed eve further by having to carry everything as well.

Suddenly, she stopped and reached for her sword.  Fenris stopped as well, expecting to see danger ahead, but he saw nothing but tundra and a herd of reindeer.  Looking back up at Bára, braced for a fight, he realised how strange the animals must have appeared, with their huge, sweeping antlers, and roaming in the sprawling herd.  Laughing, Fenris reached out to stay her hand.

“They’re reindeer,” he said.  “We have them at home, and use them for pack animals and food.  Only ours are twice the size.”

“You can eat them?” asked Bára.

“Yes,” said Fenris, taking a moment to realise what she was actually asking.  “Oh.  Yes, of course.”

He dropped his furs and raised his father’s bow, struggling to line up a shot.  The bow was big in his father’s hands, and massive in his own, and the draw was so heavy, Fenris thought it might pull his arm right off.  Before his shoulder snapped, he loosed the arrow, sending it twisting and tumbling through the air before landing awkwardly in the middle of the herd.  The reindeer all scattered away from it, but it didn’t seem as if he’d hit anything, so he tried again.  He couldn’t pull the arrow back far enough to aim properly, and again the arrow sailed gracelessly through the air, this time at least striking a young buck in the flank.  the wound wasn’t deep enough to kill it, or even cripple it, and it ran awkwardly away from the herd, trying to jump away from the pain from the arrow.

“I am terrible at this!” Fenris declared, dropping the bow to the ground with the furs.  He quickly undressed, keeping his eye on the reindeer so he didn’t lose it in the scramble.  When he changed into the wolf, he lost sight of the reindeer anyway, but he had the advantage of being able to smell its blood on the air.  He ran through the herd, trying to confuse the reindeer and separate out the wounded one again.  He knew he didn’t smell like a wolf, but he still smelled like a predator and threw the reindeer into panic.

Suddenly, the herd began moving in the other direction, doubling back in their tracks and heading back toward him.  Just as confused as the reindeer, he tried to find his buck again.  When he heard Bára shouting, and saw her swinging her massive sword over her head, he realised what was happening, and used it to get the buck away from the herd.  It jumped awkwardly, still kicking its hind legs as it ran out to the open tundra.  Here, Fenris was able to catch up with it, and in only a few swift bounds, was on top of it with his teeth in its neck.  He twisted and pulled, pulling flesh from its neck until it fell out from under him.  He got up as Bára approached, bending over it with her sword.  Leaving her to do with the reindeer as she pleased, Fenris ran back to gather his clothes and gear from the snow, dragging it all into a neat pile before changing back.  He dressed quickly, hopping up and down while he wrapped his feet and put his shoes on first.

By the time he was done, Bára came back with the reindeer slung over her shoulders and her fur wrapped around her waist.  A faint steam rose off the reindeer where it had been cut and torn open, making Fenris suspect Bára had more than one reason for wanting to kill one.  Fenris bundled back up in his furs and picked up his father’s bow before leading the way back along their path.  The sun was beginning to dip in the sky, and with it the winds had begun to pick up even harder.  He looked around, worrying about Niflheimr’s other creatures.  Bears that would track them for the easy meal, and then kill them for the sport.  Though they were smaller on Niflheimr than they were on Jötunheimr, the great white bears were still large enough to kill giants.  Even as a wolf, Fenris would not stand a chance against one.

“We need to hurry.  Now we’ll have bears after us, and we will not survive the night,” he said, trying to pick up the pace as he stomped through the rough snow.  “It shouldn’t be much farther.”

“How do you know where you’re going without knowing where you’re going?” asked Bára, readjusting the reindeer on her shoulders.  It was big enough to weigh her down, and her pace had slowed as she tried to watch her steps through the snow.

“My father travels,” Fenris said, scanning the tundra for anything that might have been a gate.  “He’s made maps of the Dragon Lines between realms, and found many paths that aren’t on any other maps.”

“Does he take you with?” Bára asked.

Fenris shook his head.  “He used to, but not these days,” he said.  “I’ve seen his maps, but he left when I was a boy.”

“You’re lucky,” said Bára with a strange authority.  “Trolls eat their young.”

“I’m not—” Fenris inhaled deeply and rubbed his face with his free hand.  “I’m not a troll.  My father is not a troll.  He’s a half-giant and a bastard, but he’s not a troll.  It comes from my grandmother, but she doesn’t know how far back it goes, and it doesn’t breed out easily.  My grandmother managed to convince her husband she was as elf.  It worked, right up until my uncle started growing a beard.”

Bára made a strange sound, but Fenris couldn’t decipher it.  “You have an uncle?” she asked.

“Two.  One lives in Utgard, and the other lives with my mother and grandmother to tend the farm,” Fenris explained, scratching at the sharp whiskers that were in desperate need of shaving before he stepped foot back on Jötunheimr.

Bára fell silent again, and it was a silence Fenris wasn’t too eager to break.  Instead, he focused on keeping his footing and watching for signs of a gate leading away from Niflheimr.  His father’s map marked the time it should have taken to walk between the gates, but it was time measured by the gait of a mountain pony.  Or, Fenris suspected, by some entirely arbitrary measure known only to his father.  Hoping they hadn’t passed the gate, Fenris paused and looked behind them, but what he saw was no gate.  With the wind howling in his ears and his attention occupied by everything else, he hadn’t noticed that they were being followed until he saw the great white bear walking behind them in their tracks.  It had kept a wide distance, but now that it knew they had seen it, the bear began to run toward them.

“Run.  Now,” Fenris said, turning back around to flee from the bear.

Bára reached for her sword again, but turned to run instead when Fenris darted past her.  “Running now!” Fenris said.

Bára struggled to follow, holding on to the reindeer as she tried to run through the snow.

Taking an arrow, Fenris turned and tried to run backwards while lining up his shot, but he couldn’t aim at all, and could barely pull back the string.  When he loosed the arrow, it fell short, landing ahead of the bear before being smashed under its massive paws.  Fenris tried again, but once more, the arrow fell short, as well as flying wide, landing nowhere near the bear.  As he nocked the third arrow, he stopped and pulled the string back as far as he could, until his arms and back sung with the strain.  When he loosed the arrow, the string caught his forearm and tore through the sleeve of his tunic and his arm.  Howling from the sudden shock off searing pain, Fenris jumped and nearly threw the bow, forgetting all about the bear.  It wasn’t until he heard it roaring and thrashing that he looked up and saw his arrow in the bear’s eye, but not deep enough to have killed it.  It pawed at the arrow and shook its head around, trying to dislodge it, but all it managed to do was break the shaft.  Suddenly remembering there was a bear and forgetting about the searing pain in his arm, Fenris turned to run again, catching back up with Bára.

“Drop the deer!” he shouted.

Bára turned to look at the bear as it charged back for them.  She frowned as if she was about to weep as she dropped the deer to the ground and went for her sword again.

“These things eat whales.  Run,” Fenris said, trying to pull her along.

Fenris had hoped that dropping the deer would have distracted the bear, but it ran right past the carcass and continued to pursue the two of them.  Now it wasn’t just hungry; it was furious.  Fenris and Bára ran as fast as they could across the stark plain, unable to see details of the terrain in the fading light on an all-white landscape.  It wasn’t until Fenris felt the ground go out from under him that he realised they had come to a sharp drop.  He rolled and tumbled down the steep slope, losing his arrows and his furs as he fell.  Once he finally stopped at the bottom, he stood up to see Bára suffering similarly, losing her sword and furs, and leaving her only in the thin linen skirt and wrap she had been wearing.  Fenris picked up the bow from where it had fallen nearby and sighed with relief that it was still in one piece, and hadn’t been damaged.  He unstrung it, hoping to keep it in one piece, and looked up at the ledge where they had left the bear.  He expected it to leave them, but after sniffing around at the top, it leapt down as well, sliding down the slope on its belly.  Not waiting to see if it would make it to the bottom without falling, Fenris and Bára began running again.  Without being weighed down and tangled in furs, Bára was able to run faster, and quickly overtook Fenris.  He thought she might leave him behind to feed the bear, and tried to push himself as hard as he could.  Suddenly, Bára reached out and took Fenris by his tunic collar and began pulling him along, so fast he could barely keep his footing.  He looked back to the bear, seeing it gaining on them again, the broken arrow still stuck in its eye and its face half covered in blood.  When Fenris looked back ahead to see where they were going, something caught his eye in the distance, standing tall and still far to their left.

“There,” he said, pointing.

Bára paused just long enough to see where to go before picking up Fenris and throwing him over her shoulder.  With each stride, her shoulder dug into his belly, knocking the air from him and making him want to be sick.  He watched the realm as it receded away from him, bouncing and rocking about as Bára ran.  The bear still chased them, roaring and thrashing its paws at them as if it could reach them.  It wasn’t close enough, but it soon would be.

“Faster,” Fenris managed with what little breath he had.

The bear gained on them, and was soon within slashing distance.  It struck its massive paw out at them again, barely missing Fenris’s face.  He closed his eyes, expecting his next breath to be his last, and suddenly felt the air around them change from windy and icy to warm and humid.  He opened his eyes as the bear roared behind them, its head and one of its arms stuck through the gate, while the rest of it was unable to fit through the stone arch.  It roared and slashed, even as Bára dropped Fenris to the ground well out of its reach.  Trying to ignore it, Fenris dropped the bow again and wrapped both his arms around his abused stomach, trying to catch his breath.  He looked down at his arm, finding it bleeding sluggishly, with a fist-sized bruise around the burn from the string.  Hissing, he pulled his sleeve back down and tried to ignore it.

“Where are we?” asked Bára, looking up to the blackness above.

Fenris looked up as well and managed to smile.  “Nornheimr,” he said, watching Bára in the faint light that permeated the realm.  “We made it,” he said, looking at the bear that still tried to force its way through the gate.

“So this is what you meant,” said Bára, watching the bear as it flung its head from side to side and slashed its giant paw at them.  “Can it break the gate?”

Fenris forced himself to his feet and nodded.  “Yes, probably,” he said, picking up his father’s bow again.  “The gates aren’t there to allow travel.  They keep things like bears from travelling.”  He stepped back, hoping the gate held on both sides.

He began walking away from the bear, trying to figure out where to go from there.  He soon came to a dark wall of rough stone and realised they were in a large cave.  He ran his hand over the stone, and brought it away to find his skin glowing faintly.  He realised then what he was seeing.  Lightstone.  Fine grains of it, like sand shimmering in the rock.  He smiled and wiped his hand on his chest, and looked over to Bára.  She too ran her fingers over the stone and rubbed them together curiously until the glow faded.

“Do you not have this?” he asked.

Bára shook her head.  “No.  What is it?” she asked.

“Lightstone.  I thought it was only found on Niðavellir.  The dwarfs mine it in huge boulders, and use it to make lanterns.”

He looked at the walls, glowing just enough to give off light without showing anything of the dark stone.  Nornheimr was old, and any resource found there was sure to be old beyond usefulness.  The lightstone in these walls could never be used for a lantern, and resembled the grit that was left at the bottom after the stones had broken apart and dissolved in the water after years of constant use.  The humidity in the air was just enough to make the tiny grains glow without destroying the mineral completely.  Fenris wondered how bright these caverns must have been when the lightstone was new, and how long the stone would keep glowing in the walls.

Bára looked up curiously, gazing at the high ceiling above as she walked down the narrow cave.  Looking back toward the gate, Fenris began following the cave away from it and the bear.  The light from the stone in the walls was just enough to see by, but not enough to see well.  The cave floor was rough and uneven, making their pace slow as they followed a path forged by nature.  Soon, the air began to dry, while a brighter light shone up ahead.  They quickened their pace, coming to a large cavern bathed in an impossible orange glow.  Large roots like ancient stone pushed their way through cracks in the ceiling and walls, twisting around one another before burying themselves in the ground again.  Fenris and Bára stood in awe as they looked upon Yggdrasil’s roots.

“This place is scared,” Bára said lowly.

“Yes,” Fenris agreed.

“We should not be here.  This is forbidden,” Bára said.

Fenris didn’t answer, but he knew she was right.  Few people dared to travel to Yggdrasil’s roots and fewer still would admit to having done it.  Fenris knew they should turn and walk away; find some other way to pay his debt to Ægir, but he couldn’t find the strength to move.

“Sisters, look.  They’re here,” said the voice of a young maiden, echoing off the cavern walls like a strange song.

“So they are,” said another voice.  “Step closer, children.  We wish to see your faces.”

Fenris looked up to Bára, unsure if they should.  Seeming similarly hesitant, Bára stayed still as well.  She looked at Fenris, and for the first time since leaving Múspelheimr, she looked truly afraid.

Inhaling deeply and nodding, Fenris stepped forward slowly, waiting for Bára to follow.  They each took several steps forward before the entire cavern changed before them, filling with trinkets and fur rugs that hadn’t been there a moment before.  Large oil lamps burned in the ground, lighting up the entire cavern floor to ceiling.  In the middle of the cavern, three women lounged on piles of fur. 

“Oh, look at them.  So frightened.  How precious,” one of them said, laughing and tossing her hair back over her shoulder.

“Verdandi, be kind,” said one of the other, a young girl barely old enough to be a woman.  “They’ve travelled far to be here with us today.”

Fenris watched them, unsure what to expect from them.  He felt like he should say something, but his entire throat felt heavy and tight, and he could not find his voice.

“I want to see his teeth,” Verdandi declared, getting up and walking straight to Fenris.

He wanted to run, but he couldn’t.  When Verdandi stepped before him and touched his face with one hand, his entire body tensed up.  She giggled again as she pulled his lips apart with her thumb, showing his overly-sharp canines.

“Skuld, I simply must have one,” she said.

“No,” said the girl.

Verdandi ignored her, already pulling back Fenris’s hair to expose his ears, and then dragged her fingers across his freckled cheek.  

“Look at his spots,” she said.  “And he shaves his beard.  How adorable,” she said, running her thumb over his chin.

Fenris tried to back away as she lifted the hem of his tunic and cooed.  “Look at how furry he is.  I am keeping him,” she said.

She tangled her fingers in the hair on Fenris’ belly, drawing a startled yelp from him as he stepped back and pulled his tunic down to cover himself.

“Verdandi, let him be,” Skuld commanded as Fenris pulled his tunic back down over his stomach.

Verdandi pouted and returned to her seat.

“All your pets die anyway,” said the third sister, an old woman weathered by time and magic alike.

“Don’t be so bitter, Urðr,” Verdandi said.  “He’d be easier than the dragon.  We wouldn’t even have to chain him.”

“You would still forget to feed him,” Urðr said.

“Both of you be silent,” Skuld said.  She sat up in her seat to address Fenris and Bára properly.  “You have come to ask a request,” she said, looking at Fenris.

He nodded weakly struggling to find his voice.  “I—Yes, I have.”

Skuld smiled almost matronly.  “So ask.”

He looked back up Bára, but found no help there.  Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself before speaking.  “I killed an animal that was not mine to kill.  People will die because of it.”

“And you want us to undo this?” asked Skuld almost mockingly.

Fenris nodded weakly.  “Yes,” he said, fearing he knew her answer already.

Skuld laughed.  “Do we look like gods of death to you?” she asked.  “Child, we are the gods Odin and his Æsir pray to.  We do not undo actions.  We make sure they come to pass.”

“What?” asked Fenris.  “But we came all this way.”

All three of them laughed now. “You slaughtered that boar because we wished you to,” said Skuld, sitting back in her seat again.

“No.  You can’t just make things happen,” Fenris argued incredulously.  He looked up to Bára again, but found her backing away as she watched him argue with Fates.

“We know you, Lokasson,” said Skuld, still laughing lowly.  “And we have decided that it’s about time for a war of giants.  The last one was ever so fun, after all.”

“Why?” Fenris demanded.  “Who benefits from war?”

The Nornir sisters only laughed harder.  Feeling suddenly trapped, Fenris turned to run, away from their illusion and out of the cavern.  Once back in the dark, he sat on the ground and just tried to breathe through the harsh pounding in his chest.

“Why won’t they help?” he asked, running his hand through his matted hair.

Bára followed him out, and kept walking toward the gate.  “I suppose that’s that, then,” she said distantly.

“Why do they expect anyone to go to war?” asked Fenris.  “Who would go to war for us?” He looked down at his father’s bow still in his hand and tossed it to the ground in disgust.  “Even he loves his bows more than he loves us,” he said.

Bára made a sound that almost sounded like a laugh.  “Why were you told to come here?” she asked.  “Perhaps the person you asked got confused, and thought boars were judged at death.  You know how the Æsir are.”

“I don’t know,” Fenris grumbled.  He picked up a stone to throw at her, but he dropped it when he heard through her sarcasm moments later.  He thought back to everything he had been told, both by Sigrid and by the Norns.  Sigrid had not meant him to speak to the Norns at all, but to another old god.  To a god of death.

“We went the wrong way,” he realised aloud.

Bára stopped and turned to look at him.  “What?” she asked.

Fenris stood, picking up his father’s bow again.  “We went the wrong way.”  He looked back to the Norns, knowing they were listening even now.  “Will you start a war to save your sisters?” he asked, already knowing his own answer.  “Will you save them from starvation, to risk them dying in battle?”

At once, Fenris could see the weight of the situation fall over Bára.  She looked back toward the Norns as well, the conflict plain on her face even in the dark.  She did not answer right away, taking time to consider her options.

“Is there no other way?” she asked.

Fenris shook his head.  “No,” he said.

“Are you sure this will work?” Bára asked.

Fenris shook his head again.  “No.”

She sighed deeply and nodded.  “Where do we go?” she asked.

Fenris looked around.  “The roots tangle.  We go the other way,” he said, hoping he was right.

They wasted no time, running back toward the gate to Niflheimr, and beyond.  The bear was gone, but it wasn’t that gate they needed to travel through.  They followed the cave as it turned and meandered, without branching off once.  Finally, they came to a second gate, carved from a single black boulder.  On the ground in the arch, a sliver of gold light shone through from the other side, but it was all of what awaited on the other side that they could see.  Fenris left the bow behind, knowing it would be safer there, and nodded to Bára before stepping through to a large cavern on the other side.  The air was hot and almost misty with humidity, letting the giant lightstone boulders in the cavern walls glow brightly.  Huge roots again pushed through the cracks and fissures in the stone, twisting and turning amongst themselves before digging back into the ground, where thick, verdant grass and wildflowers grew, wilting from the heat and lack of sunlight.  Beside him, Bára reached for a sword she did not have and stepped closer to the cave walls beside them.

“What is this place?” she asked.

Fenris stayed close to the gate, ready to dive back through if he needed.  “Helheimr,” he answered.

Something began to rumble from high above, making the entire cavern tremble.

“I smell a Jötunn runt,” a voice said, deep and loud.

Suddenly, a giant red dragon leapt down from a cavern high above, spraying fire at the ground before landing in the bed of embers.  Fenris and Bára both stood against the stone pillars of the gate, watching the dragon Niðhöggr wind his way through the roots.  He had a long, serpent-like body, with two arms beneath large wings, which he used to pull himself along the ground.  On his head was a crest of bony spines like a crown, flaring off his long, pointed face.  There was no room for him to stretch his wings, so he crawled up close to Fenris and Bára, grinning a toothy, dragon grin.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve fed off the living,” he said, flicking his forked tongue out at them.

“We’ve come to you for help.  You must hear us out,” Fenris said.

Niðhöggr laughed, a deep rumble that came from his chest.  “I am bound by no laws,” he said.

“Then you’re no god,” Fenris argued.  “Gods are bound by more laws than any.”

Niðhöggr laughed again.  “And why should I help you?” he asked.

“Because you’ve already taken my sister.  I will not let you take my brother as well,” Fenris said bitterly.

Niðhöggr flicked his tongue out again before inhaling deeply, filling his chest with air.  But rather than spew fire at them, he laughed and began to slither away through the roots.  “Jötunn runt does not taste as good as giant, but I take what I can get,” he said.

As he pulled himself away, Fenris saw the grass that sprung up in his wake, sprouting small yellow and white flowers that bloomed and blossomed within seconds.  Fenris looked up to the top of the cavern, finding no light from above that would feed the grass on the floor.  He looked back to Niðhöggr, watching in a terrified awe as the dragon sprouted life wherever it dragged its massive body.

“Keep him distracted,” Fenris said quietly, looking back at the gate.

“How?” asked Bára.

Fenris shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Throw stones at him if you have to.”

He slipped through the gate and wasted no time once he was on the other side.  He changed as quickly as he could, leaving his clothes beside the gate before crawling back through it on his belly.  Bára had already walked away from the gate, making sure to draw Niðhöggr’s attention away from Fenris.

“I don’t do favours for giants,” Niðhöggr said.  “I don’t do favours for anybody.  What fool has filled your head full of such pretty lies?”

“Then what kind of god are you?” Bára demanded.  “You are no god.”

Hoping the dragon did not recognise the scent of a shape shifter, Fenris crawled along the edge of the cavern, keeping to as many shadows as he could.  The air was thick with the scent of acid and rot, making Fenris’s eyes and nose burn as he crawled through the taller grasses and weeds that survived the dragon’s fiery breath.

“Why should I help you if it means I will starve?” Niðhöggr said.  “I will feast on every giant and Jötunn runt slaughtered in his home while he sleeps.”

Fenris watched Bára move along the other wall, keeping the dragon distracted so Fenris could creep up to him.  He watched the wild flowers by Niðhöggr’s scales bloom and wilt, and he knew exactly what he had to do.  Not even sure if it would work, he lunged out and caught one of Niðhöggr’s large belly scales in his teeth.  The dragon screeched and thrashed, throwing his tail about in the small spaces and twisting his massive body, trying to crush Fenris.  Not letting go, Fenris pulled hard, tearing the scale loose.  Blood fell from the wound, burning Fenris’s face and paws and almost blinding him.  All he could smell was the acid spice of dragon’s blood as it filled his nose and burned him from the inside out.  He ran in a panic, not having time to plan his escape, and instead cut a straight path for the gate.  He could hear Bára shouting, and the sound of stones bouncing off scales as he ran.  His mouth burned, and he could feel the blood on the dragon scale tearing apart his tongue, but still he ran, not stopping until he was on the other side of the gate.  As soon as he crossed, Fenris collapsed on the ground, unable to breathe from the burns inside his mouth and throat.  He couldn’t tell if the blood had fallen in his eyes, or if the pain in his mouth and throat was so great that he couldn’t see from it.  He lay there in the dark, knowing this was where he would die.  When Bára ran through the gate as well and picked him up, he cried out in pain so loudly, he almost choked on it.  Once again slung over the giantess’ shoulders, he could feel her running along the hard ground.  It felt like an eternity before she dropped him again, packing his paws and face with cold snow that both soothed and burned.  She buried his nose in it, and tried to pack it into his mouth without choking him on it.  He knew he was whimpering pitifully, but he couldn’t make himself stop as she tended to his burns.

Suddenly, Fenris felt her prying his mouth open and tearing the flesh from his tongue as she pulled the scale out from between his teeth.  He cried out again, unable to stop even as more snow was packed into his mouth.  After a few moments, he felt himself being picked up again before he didn’t feel anything at all.  The next thing he knew, they were moving, but it didn’t feel like he was being carried on her shoulders.  There was something strangely familiar to the way he could feel himself moving; a steady, even rhythm of step, but he wasn’t able to figure out what it was before he lost consciousness again, letting the darkness consume him.  The next time he woke, it was hot, and someone had their hands in his mouth again.  He tried to bite down, but it hurt and he could hear himself cry out  and yelp with a pain that would not cease.

“Hush, stupid,” he heard someone say, realising several moments later that it was Jörmungandr who spoke.  He was the one who had his hand inside Fenris’s mouth, coating his tongue in something thick and sticky.

Fenris realised he was still as a wolf, and that he did not know where he was.  He opened his eyes and looked around, but he did not recognise the house he was in.  He and Jörmungandr were on the floor in a corner, surrounded by jars of herbs and salves that were all being shoved into his mouth one by one.  Once he realised what was being done, he recognised thee taste of their mother’s magic on his tongue, though there was something different about it.  Something that tasted hot and dry and unfamiliar.

“Who bites a dragon?” Jörmungandr asked, finally taking his hands away.

Fenris could only whimper, too exhausted and in pain to even protest when Jörmungandr began petting his head.

“You stupid, stupid puppy,” Jörmungandr said lowly, stroking him behind his ears.

Fenris tried to stand, but his paws burned when he touched their pads to the hard ground.

“No.  No, no,” Jörmungandr said, easing him back down again.  “None of that.”

Fenris whimpered quietly and let himself be gently guided back to the ground.  He managed to lift his head well enough to see the room around them, finding it dark and quiet.  There were no windows to let in any light, and no lanterns or hearth lit to see by; only the light that filtered through small slits in the ceiling.  It was enough for Fenris to recognise the house they were in as Ægir’s, though he could not find the giant anywhere.

Through the darkness, he could see another figure moving hurriedly toward them.  Bára crouched down next to them and handed a wrapped parcel to Jörmungandr.

“Take him and go,” she said, picking up Fenris in her arms as she looked over her shoulder to the dark and empty house.

“What?  Why?” asked Jörmungandr, standing quickly.  He looked down at the parcel in his hand and carefully unwrapped it before looking up at Bára again.

“I couldn’t do it,” she said shamefully.  “My father is preparing the boar now.  You must go before he comes back.”

Bára quickly made her way to the door, with Jörmungandr rushing to gather a small pack and follow after.  She paused at the door, peering out before rushing around to the other side of the house to the stables.  There was a reindeer in the shade as well, kicking at the dust mournfully.  When it saw them approach, it began kicking and thrashing, but Bára put Fenris down on the ground and used her size to subdue the deer.

“It’s female, you know,” Jörmungandr said distantly.

“Whatever it is, you must take it and go,” Bára insisted.  She tied a makeshift bridle to its face, blinding it with cloth around its eyes so it could no longer see.  She brought the reindeer out of its stall and put it in Jörmungandr’s charge while she picked Fenris back up and put him on the deer’s back.

“I must go help.  I’ll keep him distracted as long as I can, but hurry,” she said.  She looked out at something Fenris couldn’t see and sighed.  “My sisters will die either way, but this way, there will be no war.”

Fenris tried to bark at her, but the pain in his throat only made him choke.  Sparing him only a passing glance, Bára rushed out of the stables and back out to the desert.  From his spot, draped over the back of the deer, Fenris could see his brother inspecting the parcel Bára had given him.

“The reindeer is female,” he repeated.  He looked at its covered face and sighed.  “What do you say, little brother?  Shall we start a war?”

He looked down at the parcel again, and crept out of the stables, peering across the desert to where Ægir roasted boar bones on a pyre.  Fenris and Bára had broken sacred laws to retrieve the scale, and using it would break countless more laws.  To cheat death was at the discretion of the gods, and the gods alone.  To steal that power from the gods would inflame the ire of all other realms.  There wasn’t a king or jarl in all of Yggdrasil who would not have tried to cheat death if given the opportunity, and all would go to war for that power once they learned how to obtain it.

Jörmungandr quickly dashed out of the stables.  Fenrir could hear the door to the house opening and closing twice before Jörmungandr returned again, conspicuously lacking the parcel Bára had given him.  Ægir would find the dragon scale in some convenient place, no doubt, starting the war Bára had tried to avoid.

Jörmungandr pulled Fenris off the reindeer’s back and backed the reindeer into its stall again.  Making sure it was locked where it belonged, Jörmungandr took up his pack, and carrying Fenris over his shoulders, crept out of the stables.  They could see Ægir far on the other side of the house, standing before a large fire in the desert.  With his back turned to them, Jörmungandr slunk away, running as fast as he could back toward the gate.  Fenris watched Ægir as they left, waiting for him to turn back to see them fleeing.  But his attention was kept away from them as he dried the boar’s bones for a ritual he would not be able to complete.

As they left Ægir’s farm behind, Fenris kicked and squirmed until Jörmungandr let him down.  He ached and burned in ways he had never before known, but he needed to change.  They were too slow with Jörmungandr carrying him, and he knew his feet had been undamaged by the dragon’s blood.  If nothing else, walking upright would at least be less painful than being carried over his brother’s bony shoulders.

The change hurt and burned, tearing and twisting already abused flesh.  He tried not to cry out as his throat became inflamed all over again, but once he was done, he felt better for it.  The change always helped heal injuries, if he had the strength to force it.  His hands were still badly burnt, but he could feel his throat open up as he breathed deeply through his mouth.  Jörmungandr handed him his clothes from the pack, letting him change as slowly as he needed to, and helping him into his tunic when he couldn’t grip it properly.

“Do you think it will work?” asked Jörmungandr.

Fenris shrugged.  “If it doesn’t, there won’t be a war,” he said hoarsely.  “Perhaps that’s what we should pray for.”

“You put too much faith in the other realms caring about what a few giants in the desert do,” Jörmungandr said.

Fenris struggled to keep pace alongside his brother as they walked back toward the gate.  “And a dark elf once insulted Bor, and he killed every last one of them for it.  Put nothing past the Æsir, brother.”

The two of them slowly trudged across the sand, moving slowly as Fenris struggled to keep his footing.

“It’s a shame.  If I had been thinking, I’d have made sure she took a male as well,” Fenrir said.  “Perhaps I’ll return and bring them one.”

“And make more work for your lovely maiden, and make her learn to milk a reindeer?” Jörmungandr asked, adjusting the pack over his shoulder.  Only then did Fenris realise the pack also had their father’s bow attached, and he allowed himself a sigh of relief he hadn’t realised he needed.

“She is not my lovely maiden,” Fenris said, looking back toward the direction of the farm, now just a dot on the horizon.  “But perhaps I shall teach her.”

Jörmungandr snorted.  “You are just like Dad,” he said, continuing on the path toward the gate to the crossing point at Midgard.

Fenris shrugged again.  “What?” he asked.  “Someone will need to teach them.”

Jörmungandr laughed and looked up to the sky.  “Let’s leave this realm.  I hear there’s rain in Four Rivers.”

Nodding, Fenris followed, looking forward to a realm of cold misery for a few weeks.

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Compulsion

Compulsion (2,283 words) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Thor
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Rape/Non-con
Pairings: Loki/Sif
Characters: Loki, Sif

Summary: Loki has wanted Sif’s attention for longer than he could remember. She’s never once given it to him.

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Ours to Keep #6

Loki’s phone dinged at him from his pocket, and he nearly ignored it.  There wasn’t a single person he wanted to speak to who wasn’t already nearby, but that only made him realise he ought to check.  If it was nobody he wanted to talk to, then odds are that it was someone he might need to talk to.  He listened to Thor rattle on with half his ear as he unlocked his phone and read the new email.  Something about it wasn’t sitting right with him, and he frowned at it and read it again before opening the attachments.  At first, he thought it was meant for someone else.  The numbers were wrong, and it wasn’t the sort of thing he ought to have been sent.  He stared at the photos for a long moment, until finally he understood what he was looking at, and why it had found its way into his inbox.

“Fuck!” he shouted, looking up at the road ahead to see how far from home they were.

“You all right there, buddy?” Angela asked.

Loki ignored her and tapped on the phone number he’d been given.  At first, he worried he was already too late, and as the line rang out, he thought for certain he had waited just a moment too long before opening the email.  He couldn’t have been the only person to have been forwarded the email, and someone else had surely got to it before him.

Finally, he heard the line connect, and a moment later someone answered who sounded just as panicked as he did.

“Is this Cale?” Loki asked, trying to silently urge Thor to drive faster.  “I’m Loki Odinson.  I’ve been told you’re looking for a buyer who can move today.”

Angela started to say something from the front seat, but Thor quickly silenced her.  Loki ignored both of them as he searched around in vain for a pen.  He hadn’t left the house anticipating work, and Thor’s stupid truck might as well have just rolled off the showroom floor for all he had inside it.

“I have a very desperate client on a time crunch,” Cale said down the line.  He was definitely panicking as well, and Loki hoped he might be able to use that.  “Unforeseen circumstances and all that.  Client wants to go back home and doesn’t want any loose ends before they leave.”

Loki shook his head, hating that he was stuck in the back seat of Thor’s truck.  This was a conversation to be having face to face. 

“I’m told you’re in Brooklyn?” he asked.  He checked his watch and cringed.  “I am in Southampton right now, but I can get to you by around two.  If you can wait for me, I’ll do everything I can to make your day.”

He cringed harder, waiting for a rejection.  Cale was silent for an uncomfortably long moment, and Loki realised he must have had the client there with him.  Desperate agents were one thing, and something Loki could handle.  Desperate clients were a whole other can of worms that liked to cause all sorts of unpredictable problems.

“We can hold until two,” Cale said finally.  “Any later and we’ll have to move with someone else.”

Loki tried not to sound too excited.  “I’ll be there.  Send me the information on where you want to meet, and I will be there.”

He looked out the window, annoyed to see they were still in town.

“This number a good one?” Cale asked.

“Yeah, it’s my cell,” Loki said.  “I’ll email you some information in a few minutes.”

Cale made an affirmative sounding noise, and then the line went dead.  For a moment, Loki just focused on breathing, trying not to let himself get too hopeful or worked up over anything.

“Thor, I need to get home right now,” he said.

“Yep,” Thor said.  “Working on it, pal.”

Sylvie looked over at him, bewildered and concerned all at once.  Not wanting to jinx anything, Loki only shook his head.  He leaned around Thor’s seat to stare at the road, resisting the urge to pound his fist to get Thor to go faster.  But Thor maintained his speed, and Loki wanted to scream.  But instead of making any more of a racket, he ignored everyone around him and returned to his email, scrolling through the message until he found Cale’s address buried in all the other information.  He quickly composed a new message to Cale, attaching information about himself and the firm so they wouldn’t have to waste time getting to know one another.  Once it was sent, all Loki could do was watch out the window and wait for them to get home.  It took aeons to get to the canal, which suddenly stretched on for miles.  They turned onto the barrier island, and Loki knew they would never make it home in time.  He thumped his fist against the back of Thor’s seat a few times before he caught himself and sat back in his seat, forcing himself to be patient.

Finally, they made it to the house and through the gate.  Loki unbuckled himself and threw the door open before they were even stopped, leaping out onto the lawn with a graceless stumble.  He managed to correct his balance without stopping and sprinted to the house, leaving the door hanging open behind him as he ran to his room.  He scrambled about, making sure he had his laptop and his iPad and his leather folder full of all his paper documents all crammed into his oversized satchel, and then checked it all again before snatching up his keys and wallet from his dresser.  Throwing the strap over his shoulder, Loki rushed toward the stairs, taking them two at a time before pausing at the landing to look over the crowd that still lingered inside.  Frigga and Bestla sat at the table, talking quietly with Laussa in her chair between them, but Odin was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’s Dad?” Loki asked.

Frigga looked up at him, giving him the sort of look that suggested she was about to make a wild guess.

“I think he’s down in his study,” she said.

Nodding and having no choice but to take her word for it, Loki turned and rushed back down the stairs.  He threw open the door to the basement and tried not to kill himself on the steep slope of the stairs that had always felt like an afterthought, barely stopping before crashing into the wall at the bottom.  But as he rounded the corner at the landing, and stepped into the converted space that Odin used as his home study, Loki was relieved to find him at his desk.  He seemed to be doing nothing at all, except avoiding the bickering throng upstairs.

“Dad, something huge just fell into my lap.  I need to go to Brooklyn,” Loki said.

Odin turned to look at him, deep suspicion drawn across his features.  Loki knew what he was thinking, but he didn’t have time to play this game.

“Can it wait until tomorrow?” Odin asked.

Loki shook his head.  “If I don’t leave now, we lose it.”  He looked at his watch again, cringing at the time that had already been lost as fucked around inside.  “I need to be there by two.  Expect a call from me any time after that.”

Odin stared at him for a long moment, and then finally nodded.  “You’re not going alone,” he said.

“Of course not,” Loki said.  If nothing else, he’d need someone to manage his phone for him.

Odin nodded once more, this time a little more deliberately, and Loki turned to rush back up the stairs.  He found Sylvie standing near the front door, looking at him in confusion.  Without stopping to explain, he grabbed her by the arm and spun her round, dragging her back out the door and onto the lawn with him.  Outside, Thor was still in the driveway, directing several others as they moved their cars out of Loki’s way.  Sparing him only a brief wave, Loki ran to his car and unlocked it, directing Sylvie into the passenger seat.  As she settled beside him, Loki handed over his bag.

“Loki, what’s going on?” Sylvie asked, looking around for a shoulder belt that didn’t exist.

Loki spared only enough time to buckle his own belt before starting the engine.  “Gotta go to Brooklyn.  Dad doesn’t want me to go alone,” he said.

“Yeah, I got that much,” Sylvie said.

Loki managed to pull out of the tight space and get out of the driveway without crashing anybody else, and once again checked his watch.  With absolutely no traffic anywhere between them and Brooklyn, he had plenty of time, but Loki didn’t trust anywhere on Long Island to have no traffic on a Monday.  And as he got back onto the road, he was once again faced with a course that seemed to have gained an infinite amount of length.  He barely felt like he could breathe until he got back over the canal, but even then it was still an all too leisurely drive through town until they hit the interstate.

He pulled his phone out and opened it to the email he’d been forwarded, glancing over it before he handed it off to Sylvie.

“Check the traffic for me and see which way’s quickest,” he said.  “I can’t afford to get stuck anywhere.”

Literally, he could not afford it.  He wouldn’t have anything this big land on him again, and he needed to do this right, without a single hitch.  As much as he wanted to race through town, he couldn’t afford to be stopped for speeding either.  He kept a close eye on his speed, groaning each time he was forced to slow down by a turn or another car on the road.

“Google says four-ninety five is faster by about three minutes,” Sylvie said, tapping at his phone.  “Clear traffic until the bridge.”

Loki nodded.  He still didn’t feel great, but he felt a little better.

“Keep an eye on it for me,” he said.

He pointed at the old cigar lighter on the dash, which now held a modern USB adapter and a cord for his phone.  Taking his cue, Sylvie plugged the phone in and then sat back to continue her search for the seatbelt.

“It’s only a lap belt,” Loki said, sneering at a truck that was suddenly ahead of them.

Every time he had to gear down, he worried about the old Jaguar’s engine deciding to give up on him.  He hadn’t bought the car with hasty, mad dashes into the city in mind, and it hadn’t been built with modern American gasoline in mind.  It was bitchy and temperamental on the best of days, without Loki needing to be anywhere in a hurry.  As he came to a light, Loki took the opportunity to light a cigarette, only to get annoyed when it didn’t immediately calm him down.  He took a deep drag, drumming his fingers over the steering wheel while he checked his gauges and waited for the light to turn green.

“We’ve got plenty of time,” Sylvie said, reaching out to touch his arm.  “We’ll probably even get there early.”

Loki nodded, but he didn’t trust her.  She couldn’t see into the future, or know what they might stumble across anywhere between Westhampton Beach and Brooklyn.  But he breathed slowly, and stared at the light ahead, and even managed not to spin his wheels when it was his turn to go.

Normally, these things were pre-arranged and scheduled.  Normally, he had plenty of time to get where he needed to be, and was able to give himself enough of a gap to stop and kill some time before his meeting.  Normally, he was able to take his time in getting there, without worrying about overheating and breaking down on the side of the road.  Without that luxury, he felt choked and suffocated.  He felt like everything could fall out from under him at a moment’s notice, and that even if he did get there on time, the seller would have moved on without him.

“Go into my call log,” he said, forcing himself to speak slowly.  “Find the last number I called, add it to my phone book under ‘Cale,’ and then send him a text letting him know I’m on my way.”

“Okay,” Sylvie said, nodding.

While she did that, Loki focused on the road ahead of him.  Even if Odin hadn’t told Loki to take someone with, he knew he would have grabbed Sylvie if only because he might have burst if he had to do this drive alone.  He finished his cigarette as he drove, and as soon as he snuffed it out in the ash tray, he fumbled to light another.

“Message sent,” Sylvie said as she dropped his phone into her lap.

She watched him for a long moment, while he kept a laser focus on the road ahead.  He hated this drive even when he had the time to do it.  He hated going into the city at all, but if he passed this up he’d never forgive himself.

“He’s a professional,” Sylvie said.  “He said he’d wait until two.  He’ll wait.”

Loki nodded.  He believed her, and he knew she was right.  But he still didn’t trust that it would be true.  It took twenty minutes to get to the interstate, and it was the longest twenty minutes of Loki’s life.  But once he finally merged into traffic, he let himself relax a little bit, finally feeling like he might actually make it on time.

“You get this stressed out, and Daddy really doesn’t pay you?” Sylvie asked as they cruised along a little too fast.

Loki shook his head.  “I spend Dad’s money.  I get paid by the seller, and I don’t sell for Dad.  He pays other people who are better at it than I am.”

He took a deep breath and settled into his seat.  A moment later, Sylvie reached out and drew her hand down his arm, holding onto him with a light grip.  He felt a little bit better for it and dared to glance over at her, throwing her a weak smile.

“Where’d you get this one?” she asked.

Loki laughed weakly.  “It was forwarded to one of our sellers,” he said.  “But he doesn’t buy, so he passed it on to me.  It sounds like the kind of shit Dad was into before the crash.  If I can land this…”

He shook his head, not daring to jinx it by saying anything more.  It had fallen into his lap by pure, dumb chance, and he didn’t want to do anything that might risk losing it before even met the guy.

Loki glanced into his mirrors to check the traffic behind him, knowing that if he dared to creep even a mile over the speed limit, he’d find flashing lights behind him.  So far, the road seemed clear though.  So far, he thought he might actually pull this off.

“Get in there and fetch my sunglasses,” he said, pointing at the glove box.

He didn’t dare do anything that might attract any unwanted attention.  He let Sylvie dig around for him, taking his sunglasses from her as she handed them over.  But with each mile travelled, his chest felt a little lighter.  With each mile travelled, he felt a little more confident he wouldn’t manage to completely fuck this up for himself.

With each mile travelled, he felt like he might actually be able to do something worth praise, instead of endless hours of ridicule.

Beside him, Sylvie used Loki’s code to unlock his phone and check the traffic again.  She frowned at the screen for a moment as she zoomed and panned about, and finally nodded.

“Probably get there about a half hour early,” she said.  “Maybe more.”

Loki nodded as well, and checked the gauges on his dash panel again, paying particular attention to the rev counter.  He was well outside the red, and everything sounded good to his ear, but it was one more thing he didn’t trust.  One more thing that could go wrong, and had already shown a tendency to do so.  Despite everything, he slowed down, easing off to give his engine a bit of a break.  If he overheated on the side of the highway, it would all be over.  He’d never make it in time if he had to sit around and wait for his engine to cool down.

“Half hour,” he said, nodding again. 

He looked up to the road, and for anything announcing a service station up ahead.

“Point out the next gas station you see,” he said.  “We should be good, but I don’t want to have to stop for it in Brooklyn.”

“Okay,” Sylvie said.

Finally feeling something close to calm, Loki reached to turn on the radio.  Like everything else, it was fully original.  And that meant it didn’t have any bluetooth or satellite connection.  Flipping it on found only static and noise, and he waved his hand at it in frustration.  Taking his cue, Sylvie began to fiddle with it, first accidentally turning up the volume before scanning through the limited options.

“Are you going to update any of this?” she asked, settling on the first station that played music.

Loki shook his head and reached over to lower the volume enough to still be able to hear the engine. 

“I paid too much money just to ruin it like that,” he said.  “I might have the leather restored and get new seat belts, but I bought it because it hasn’t been fucked with.”

“So you’re just gonna listen to the Golden Oldies and NPR everywhere you go?” Sylvie asked?  “At least put a sound system in.”

“The shit speakers are a feature,” he said.  “Otherwise I might not hear the engine exploding.”

Sylvie laughed uneasily and settled back into her seat.  For a moment, she watched the road ahead, trying to direct her hair out of her face.

“Gonna be real,” she said.  “It is really weird being on this side of the car and not driving.  Cannot say I’m a fan.”

Loki laughed, for the first time since they hit the road feeling even moderately comfortable. 

“The first time I went into Jersey, I forgot about the toll,” he said.  “Made a complete idiot of myself and dropped everything onto the road.”

Sylvie laughed as well.  “Why an import?” she asked.  “What was even the point?”

“I don’t know,” Loki said.  “I looked at a couple, but for some reason I liked this one best.  Some collector out on Staten Island was getting rid of a bunch of nice old cars.  Said he was getting divorced and didn’t want the ex to have any of it.”

“Oh my god, men are all the same,” Sylvie said.

She shook her head and looked out over the grass strip dividing the highway, while Loki again spared a moment to check all his gauges and dials.  There was nothing sleek or modern about it.  Dials, switches, and gauges spread out across the entire dash panel, laid out more like an aeroplane cockpit than any car Loki had ever driven before.  He didn’t have the advantage of early warnings for when things might have been about to go tits up; he had half-moon dials with needles that bounced and jiggled and threatened to slide over a little red area painted onto the meter, and only a single warning light between the lot.  He’d had to learn what the numbers meant, and how to read them, because the Tesla and the Nissan before it both told him what he needed to know directly, without making him interpret the data for himself.

The only thing he hadn’t had to re-learn was the speed and trip counter, which was blessedly marked in miles, despite being a British import.

He began looking for a place to stop off, finally starting to feel good about the small amount of time he had to spare.  He checked his watch for what felt like the hundredth time as he pulled off at one of the dozens of indistinguishable towns along the way.  Stopping off was as much in part to keep him from having to fuel up in Brooklyn as it served to get him standing to stretch his back.  While he filled up the tank, he watched Sylvie disappear into the shop.  He tried to move around as much as possible, not looking forward to getting back into the car to complete the journey, but knowing he didn’t have enough time to hang around and stall. 

When Sylvie returned with a couple of sodas, Loki pulled the pills he’d liberated from the kitchen out, and took one without an ounce of hesitation.

“You okay?” Sylvie asked.

Loki nodded.  “Sixties suspension with sixties comfort,” he said.

The pump shut itself off, and Loki put everything back, making sure the cap was on and the flap closed before settling back behind the wheel.  With a deep sigh, he checked his watch again, and took another drink of his soda before settling it between his legs.

“No cup holders?” Sylvie asked as she settled in next to him.

Loki shook his head.  “That would be too convenient,” he said.

He got back onto the road, and immediately onto the highway ramp, again checking his watch.  There was still time to spare, but once again he was no longer comfortable with the amount.

Loki looked down at his phone, trying to pretend he didn’t have it at the table.  Despite sitting across from him, Sylvie had sent him a text.  Loki read it twice before looking up at her, but she gave nothing away when she looked back at him.  Even after dinner, Sylvie ignored him, evading his questions when he tried to ask what she was up to.  Giving up on answers, Loki returned to his room to spend an antsy and anxious night waiting alone.  He watched the clock slowly tick forward as the house went silent and one by one, everyone went to bed.  Shortly after midnight, Loki heard quiet footsteps thumping along the deck, and waited for them to fade before he got up and slipped outside to follow.  By the time he was out on the deck, he was alone, with no hint that anyone at all had been outside.  He looked around cautiously before turning toward the boardwalk, careful to make sure he wouldn’t be heard walking along the wooden planks.

“Over here!” Sylvie hissed sharply.

Loki stopped and turned toward the direction her voice had come from.  He spotted her, just on the other side of the hedges that blocked the house from the beach.  Looking back toward the house, huge and dark against the night sky, Loki slipped down off the boardwalk and crept along the sand and scrub toward the blanket Sylvie had settled herself on.

“What are we doing out here?” he asked, looking out toward the surf in the distance.

“I want to do something,” Sylvie said.  She shifted awkwardly, like she wasn’t sure if she wanted to lie down or not.  “And I’m sick of having to be quiet.  I want to hear how much you like it.”

Loki stared at her in the darkness, having no idea what she was talking about, but knowing she was up to no good either way.  Despite his rising apprehension, his curiosity got the better of him and he settled down on the blanket beside her.

“Do what?” he asked.

She shifted again, and then moved closer to him, planting her hands on either side of his hips.  Then, she leaned against him, resting her weight on her elbows.  She didn’t give him much time to react after that, and immediately went for the zipper on his jeans, pulling it open even as he flinched away sharply.  He wasn’t sure what he’d expected when she told him to meet her outside, but now that he was there Loki realised he probably should have expected she’d want to put her hands down his pants.  He only watched as she pulled his dick from his underwear, flinching again when she started stroking it to get it hard.  Then, without warning, she took him in her mouth and for a moment Loki thought he saw sparks.

“Oh!” he said, nearly shouting before he could stop himself.

His entire body went stiff and rigid as he reached out for anything he could grab, almost trying to get away from a sensation entirely unlike anything he had ever experienced before.  His hand found Sylvie’s wrist and he grabbed it tightly, while his other still scrabbled about with the blanket beneath him.  Loki was so surprised that Sylvie had done it that he barely was able to register what she was doing at all.  One leg kicked out as another startled gasp escaped him.  He realised he was inside her, in a wholly different way than ever before, with her tongue rolling over him while she sucked on him.

“Oh, god!” he said, knowing they could still be heard from where they were.

Loki rolled his hips into Sylvie, and then gasped pitifully when she backed away from him, leaving him cold and wet and exposed.  He could just about see the traces of a grin on her face as she wiped her mouth with her hand and sat up.  Leaving him hard and needing more, she rolled over onto her back, arms held above her head.  Loki watched her, still trying to catch his breath, and realised she was wearing a skirt.  Sylvie arched her back and brought her knees up, before letting her legs fall back open.

“I know you want to,” she said.

A dozen things at once flew through Loki’s head.  He wasn’t quite sure what Sylvie wanted from him, but as he crawled over to her, she put her hand on his head and pushed him down.  Loki could barely think past the ache in his cock, and it took him several long moments to realise she wanted him to use his mouth on her, like she had done.

“Right,” he said, feeling like he might never be able to breathe properly again.

He settled himself between her legs, hitching her knees over his shoulders.  Loki wished they had done this inside, where he could see her properly, but he understood why she had wanted to go outside for it.  There was more room here, and even though they still had to be careful not to be heard, they were afforded a little more freedom.

Loki had seen porn, and had a vague idea of what he was supposed to do, but now he wasn’t certain.  Hesitantly, he lowered himself to lick her, dragging his tongue over her slit.  Sylvie gasped beneath him and buried her hand in his hair, gripping tightly and holding his mouth against her cunt.  His tongue had nowhere to go but inside her, and as he probed her cautiously, she gasped again and arched into him.

“Oh god,” she said, holding him even tighter.

Loki still had no idea what he was doing, but then she squeezed her thighs around him and let out a squeaky moan, and he knew he wanted her to do that again.  He was still hard, and every sound she made went straight to his dick, but he didn’t dare stop.  He dragged his hands over her as he explored her with his mouth, trying to see how far he could reach with his tongue.  Her taste was unexpected, and like nothing else he’d ever known, sweet and salty all at once.  He moaned into her, and she gasped loudly, still holding him tightly against her.  He sucked on her, the same way she had sucked on him, and again she made a noise that threatened to reveal them.  She rutted and rolled against his mouth, and he pressed back against her, barely able to breathe and yet not wanting to stop. 

Sylvie tilted Loki’s head and pressed him harder against her, drawing out a stifled yelp as she did.

“Right there,” she said, squeezing her legs even tighter against him.  “Right there.  Don’t stop.”

Loki held onto her hips and rutted against the blanket, using his tongue and his lips and his jaw to try to coax more of that from her.  She arched into him again, yelping and gasping, and even though he knew she was trying to be quiet, she was not quiet enough.  Part of Loki wanted her to scream.  He sucked hard on her clit and she yelped again, holding him close and arching even harder into him.  Loki could hear Sylvie’s breath hitching, higher and higher as she choked back louder sounds in her throat.  She began panting loudly as she rolled into him, and then suddenly she was still, hand still gripping his hair and legs still clamped around his neck.  Feeling her begin to tremble beneath him, Loki continued to lick at her until she went lip beneath him, letting her hand fall from his hair.

“Come here,” she said breathlessly.

Loki almost didn’t hear, and needed to be coaxed up from between her legs.  As he finally looked up at her, panting just as heavily as she, Sylvie grabbed his shirt and pulled him up.  He climbed over her, painfully aware of the way his cock caught between her legs and pressed against her cunt as she pulled him into a kiss.  Loki moaned into her as his hips bucked forward against her, tortured by how close they were.

“Go on.  Just be careful,” Sylvie said against him, rolling her hips against his.

Loki couldn’t wait another moment.  He used his hand to guide himself inside her, gasping into her mouth as he buried himself.  Sylvie wrapped her legs around his waist as he began rutting desperately into her, unable to stop now that he had started.  Her hands trailed over his skin beneath his shirt, and he found her breast with one of his.  She wasn’t wearing a bra, and somehow that excited him even more.

“Make me cum again,” she said, rolling beneath him.  “I know you can do it.”

Loki focused on her, on the sounds she made and the way she moved beneath him, while trying to hold back against his own lust.  She held him close, and for a moment he thought he could get lost in her.  But holding back became more and more difficult as he tried to give her what she wanted, and he had to focus on his rhythm so he didn’t finish before she did.

“Don’t you dare,” Sylvie said, holding him even closer and arching into him again.  “Come on, you’re so close.”

Loki whined, trying to hold back, but it was no use.  He pulled out of her at just the last moment, pinning his dick between them as he spilled, barely able to breathe.

“I’m sorry,” he said as he panted against her skin.  “I’m sorry.”

He dared look at her, expecting her to be angry.  Instead, she shifted beneath him, pulling his hand from her breast and moving it down toward their hips.  It was all the instruction he needed, and he shifted to bury his fingers in her.  He stayed on top of her, using his hand to find all the spots she liked.  Still dizzy, he watched her face as she moved against him, trying to keep his fingers exactly where she wanted.  He rubbed her clit with his palm while he fucked her with his fingers, and watched as she started panting again, mouth slack and eyes drifting shut.

“Right there,” she said, pulling him into another kiss.

She came on his hand, fingers tangled in his hair as she moaned into his mouth.  They both went still together, and Loki wasn’t sure if the sound in his ears was his own blood pumping, or the roar of the surf in the distance.

“We’re gonna have to work on that,” Sylvie said, letting her hands fall from his hair.

“Sorry,” Loki said again.

Unsure what else to do, and suddenly feeling quite awkward about the whole thing, he rolled off of her.  He quickly put himself together, feeling very exposed, even though they were hidden by the bushes and the boardwalk.  Beside him, Sylvie did the same, adjusting her skirt and sitting up.  They almost looked perfectly innocent, except for the fact that it was past midnight.  His fingers were still wet and slick, and having no other option, he wiped them on his jeans.  Loki looked out at the surf in the distance, barely able to see more than just the white caps on the water where it crested and broke.

“What’s the farthest you’ve gone with another girl?” Sylvie asked suddenly.

Loki looked over at her, silent for a long moment before shaking his head.

“Oh, come on,” Sylvie said.  “You can tell me.”

“No,” Loki said, shaking his head again.  “I mean, I haven’t done anything.  Ever.  I didn’t even go to homecoming, remember?”

He had sat alone in his room, playing video games by himself while Sylvie and Thor had gone to the dance with their dates, and had been long asleep before either of them made it back home.

“So, I’m the only person you’ve ever done anything with?” Sylvie asked.

Loki nodded, realising suddenly that this was all a horrible thing to be admitting.  He hadn’t even kissed another girl, and now he wasn’t even sure that he wanted to.  He wasn’t sure he ever needed to.  Loki looked at her, sitting beside him in the darkness with her feet tucked beneath her, and he couldn’t imagine ever sitting like this with anyone else. 

And then Sylvie sighed, and nothing made sense.

“Baby, you need to find a girlfriend,” she said.  “A boyfriend, anything.”

Again, Loki shook his head.  “I don’t want one,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter,” Sylvie said.  “If you turn sixteen, and you still haven’t been caught with your tongue down someone’s throat, people are going to start asking questions.”

“So what?” Loki asked.  “I don’t care.”

“You will,” Sylvie said.  “You’ll care when Mummy starts arranging things, and when people start making things up and spreading rumours, because a teenager who doesn’t date is fucking weird.”

Loki groaned and turned away from her.  “You’re the only girl I’ve ever been able to talk to,” he said.  “As soon as I open my mouth, everyone in the room knows I’m a fucking loser.  And then you and Thor…”

He didn’t even know how to finish that thought.  He didn’t think he was jealous; not of the boys he knew Sylvie dated.  He was pretty sure she’d even hidden a few girls from their parents.  But there was something close to jealousy.  Some small, simmering bitterness at her ability to break up with someone on a Monday, and be texting someone new by Wednesday. 

Sylvie moved closer to him, bringing her hand to Loki’s cheek to turn his head back to face her.  For a moment, they just sat there together, not a sound between them as they looked at once another.

“I’m not saying we have to stop,” she said.  “I’m saying I can’t be the only girl you spend time with.  Nobody can ever know what we do, and that starts at not letting anyone ask questions.”

Loki sighed deeply.  He wanted to argue; to hold his ground and insist she was being too paranoid.  And then her hand was between his legs, rubbing his cock through his jeans, and his mind was suddenly empty.

“I’m not going to stop spending time with you,” she said, pulling him closer to her.  “That’s the last thing I want.  But I can’t be the only girl you sneak around with, or we’re both in trouble.”

Finally, Loki nodded.  “Fine,” he said, letting his head fall onto her shoulder.

Sylvie unzipped his jeans and found his dick.  He held onto her, his mouth buried in the crook of her neck as she stroked him off, squeezing him just a little too tight.

“You don’t have to fuck anyone,” she said quietly.  “I’m not asking you to do that.  But people need to at least think that you want to.”

Loki nodded, and reached down to better guide her hand, slowing her strokes and getting her to loosen her grip.

“If that’s what you want,” he said.

He wrapped his arm tighter around her, holding her close against his body as she continued to stroke his dick.  He felt her shape beneath her clothes, and breathed her in as she brought him closer and closer.

“If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have to share you at all,” Sylvie said.  “I’d keep you all to myself.  Just for me.”

Loki was jealous of the boys she dated, and it was with that jealousy that he came with a startled gasp onto her hand.  Still panting, he leaned back to look at her, for a moment wishing she hadn’t just brought him off with her hand, if only so he could pin her down and make her his own.  Instead, he shoved the thought from his mind and once again zipped himself up.

“Who’s that girl in your math class?” he asked, looking down at the blanket in front of him.  “With the red hair?”

Sylvie huffed quietly, and Loki wanted to crawl into a dark hole and never come out.  “Do you want me to ask her out for you?” she said.

Loki shrugged.  “She’d just say no if I asked her.”

“All right,” Sylvie said.  “But only if you promise not to chicken out.”

Loki nodded, wanting nothing more than to chicken out.

« || »

Ours to Keep #5

Loki’s room was silent by the time he woke.  The lights and the TV had shut themselves off just as he’d said they would, and Thor had fucked off to wherever a Thor fucked off to in the mornings.  Grumbling and stiff, Loki reached for his phone, scrabbling about blindly for it on the night stand.  Finally, his fingers found it, and he unlocked it to check for any messages.  Normally, he would have woken to half a dozen or more, but this particular Monday was different.  This particular Monday, the entire company knew that no work would be getting done.  Bor’s will would be read in just a few short hours, and then life would finally be getting back to normal.

Loki lowered the bed to lie flat and stared up at the ceiling for a moment before he rolled onto his side.  Clutching his phone tightly, Loki threw his knee forward and his elbow back in a swift motion, twisting his back and popping and snapping a line straight up his spine.  Grunting quietly, he rolled over to his other side and repeated the motion, this time cracking something just at the base of his spine with a force that would have made him swear he’d felt something move.  But as he fell onto his back again and looked straight up at the glitter and the glow in the dark stars, he felt like he could breathe more easily, and that was an improvement.

Getting out of bed took only a small amount of grumbling and quiet swearing, but he made it to his feet without wanting to shout or vomit.  For a long moment he stood there, staring down at his phone as though expecting it to do something.  When it did nothing, he rubbed his hand over his face and turned to fetch his dressing gown from where it had wound up on the floor.  Passing that challenge without incident made Loki feel like he could do just about anything.  Dressing gown in hand, he walked across the hall to go take a shower.  Loki knew he was not supposed to lock the door, on pain of Odin’s wrath, but he didn’t trust a single person in the house to respect a door that had been merely closed.  If Odin wanted in badly enough, he could break the door down. 

The house had three water heaters, and Loki still could not recall a time in his life when he had woken up to enough hot water left over for him.  He showered quickly, paying close attention to his hair.  Tying it all up into a lazy knot was good enough for most days, but he didn’t want to give anyone a single piece of ammunition against him.  He washed his hair twice, and then scrubbed the rest of himself as quickly as he could, not wanting to linger beneath the icy spray any longer than necessary.  Once out of the shower, with just a towel around his waist to cover him in case the lock on the door for some reason didn’t do its job and someone forgot the purpose of a closed door, he spent ages drying his hair and fussing out all the wild curls.  Only once it was dry and as tame as it ever got did he pull it back into a tail.  He made sure everything was neat and tidy, and then tackled the next problem of a weekend’s worth of patchy stubble.  He seemed like the only man in the family who couldn’t grow a proper beard, and he didn’t even have the excuse of being adopted with Roger around.  Loki couldn’t even pull off the casually scruffy look, so it all had to go.

At least Odin had not been so unreasonably paranoid to have taken away his razors.  If he’d been forced to get by on just an electric shaver, he would have given up entirely.

He took his time, catching up on all the other grooming he’d neglected over the weekend.  Once he finally felt clean and decent enough to face the shambling horde, Loki traded his towel for his dressing gown and slipped back across the hall to his room.  Fairly confident he wouldn’t be asked to put too much effort in, but not wanting to be completely under-dressed either, Loki split the difference with a dark pair of jeans and a tailored shirt.  Only then, when he had completely run out of reasons to stall, did Loki grab his phone and his cigarettes and head out to join the party.

What he found was not a party.  It was chaos.  Living, breathing, obnoxiously loud chaos.  He turned to climb the stairs and find out what all the fuss was about, and suddenly none of it mattered at all.  Instead of finding bickering uncles and cousins, he found Laussa on the middle landing on the stairs, wearing nothing but her diaper.  Loki rushed up the stairs and picked her up in his arms, ignoring the way his back protested at her weight.  She squealed and squirmed in his grip, and though he couldn’t exactly blame her for wanting to escape, Loki took her back upstairs to find their mother.  He found Frigga in the kitchen, distracted by his grandmother and some aunt whose name he’d never bothered to learn, and immediately decided they were at fault.

“Lose something?” he asked as he walked over.

Frigga turned, immediately panic stricken at the sight before her.

“Oh my god!  Where did you find her?” she asked, immediately snatching Laussa away.

“She was on the stairs,” Loki said.  “Where was she supposed to be?”

Frigga didn’t answer.  Instead, she worried and fussed over Laussa.  Loki turned to the microwave to take his usual round of morning pills, only to find the bottle not where it was meant to be.

“Mum, where’s my Naproxen?” he asked, already far too fed up with everything.

Frigga sighed, as if somehow Loki were her biggest problem at the moment.  “I think I put it in the drawer where the kids wouldn’t find it,” she said.

Sighing right back at her, Loki pulled the drawer beneath the microwave open and found the pill bottle, buried amongst all the other odds and ends that didn’t have a home in the kitchen.  He fished one of the tablets out, and nearly put the bottle back where he’d found it before realising it was his to do with as he pleased.  Instead, he slapped the drawer shut and shoved the bottle into his pocket as he turned to grab a bottle of water from the refrigerator.  He stood there with the door open while he swallowed down his pill, and then gave the shelves inside a cursory glance before finding it just as sparse as it had been the day before.

Giving up on breakfast, Loki turned to get out of the way before someone noticed he’d shown up.  He slipped out onto the deck, finding Thor and Angela leaning on the rail, watching the nightmare from a safe distance.

“What the hell’s going on?” Loki asked as he joined them.

He pulled out a cigarette, and as he lit it Angela held out her hand expectantly.  He took a quick drag and handed it over before lighting another for himself.

“Lawyer called,” Thor said.  “It’s been pushed back to Wednesday.”

Loki turned to stare at him, refusing to believe the words he’d just heard.  “You’re fucking kidding?” he asked.  “Why the hell did I get dressed?”

Angela blew a big puff of smoke over the three of them.  “I know,” she said.  “I took the day off for this.”

Thor snorted.  “I didn’t know you worked.”

“Shut up,” Angela said.

Loki wanted to laugh, but it was different for the other two.  It was an excuse to take a few more days off and enjoy the circus that had rolled into town.  For Loki, the circus had rolled right through his front door, and he wanted every last clown out of his home.  He watched as the argument inside raged on, splintered into many tiny arguments and outbursts; some in English, some not.  Some in both at once.

“What’s Daddy saying?” Angela asked.

It took a moment for Loki to realise she was speaking to him.  With the doors open, it wasn’t exactly hard to hear the chaos, but picking anything specific out of it was a strain even on him.

“Uh,” he said, struggling to listen. 

Both Odin and the man he shouted with kept shouting over one another, testing Loki’s limits of comprehension. 

“I don’t know who this is,” he said, waving his hand toward both of them.  “It sounds like he’s trying to get Dad to call the lawyer and do it today anyway.  Dad says no, he’s not going to do that.  Can’t do that?”  He shook his head.  “I don’t know, they’re going too fast.”

He kept listening anyway, while the other two stood by and watched.  The conversation kept coming back round to something that sounded familiar, but which Loki couldn’t quite place.  He rolled it around in his mind, trying to find something to connect it to.

“Oh,” he said, finally putting it together.  He laughed, realising it meant he and Roger had been right.  “He can’t afford to push his flight back.  He has to go home tomorrow.”

“Fuck, I’ll pay him to leave,” Angela said.

Loki took a drag of his cigarette, still laughing.  “I’ll chip in,” he said.  “We’ll start a fund.  ‘Get the fuck out of my house’ fund.”

Thor snorted.  “Your house?” he asked.  “Loki, when was the last time you paid a bill?”

Loki shrugged.  “I paid for my car.”

“You wrote a cheque,” Angela said.  “That’s not paying a bill.  That’s spending money.”

“I counted.  There are twenty one people in this house who shouldn’t be,” Loki said.  He pointed to Thor and Angela.  “You fuckers included.  I still live here.  It’s my house.”

Again, Thor snorted and stood up away from the rail.  “Let’s go find breakfast somewhere,” he said.  “I’ll find your other half; meet me in the driveway.”

Loki rolled his eyes, but nodded to Angela all the same.  While Thor dared to brave the nightmare that was raging on inside the house, Loki and Angela took the stairs down to the lower deck, and around back to the driveway.  In a mirror of what was inside, the driveway was chaotic and crowded, cars parked wherever they could fit, leaving little room to get around them.  While he passed it, Loki stopped to make sure nobody had parked too close to his Jaguar and dinged it up, but it seemed like even these lunatics had enough sense to not kick the hornets’ nest completely to dust.  If they were all truly as destitute as it seemed, being sued over scratched paint would surely put them on the street. 

Thor had parked nearer to the gate, which didn’t seem right until Loki remembered the bowling trip he had been left out of.  He and Angela leaned against the side of Thor’s ridiculous SUV and finished their cigarettes while they waited.

“I guess this means the office is closed until Thursday,” Loki said, looking out at the old play castle on the far side of the lawn.  “And at that point, we might as well not even bother at all.  Nobody wants to get into a new deal before the weekend.”

“Whatever happened to law school?” Angela asked.  “I thought you were real excited about that.”

Loki shrugged.  “I’ve got the undergrad.  But Dad wanted me to work for him, so I did.”

He took a drag off his cigarette, not for the first time wondering why he’d made that decision.  It hadn’t even taken much persuasion.  A single conversation over dinner after he’d graduated with his bachelors, and he was in the office the following week, doing busy work while waiting for a course opening for his license. 

Beside him, Angela nodded and flicked ash onto the driveway.  “You don’t think that might be why Daddy made sure you don’t have a drug record, do you?” she said.  “So you could go back to school?  Maybe finish your degree and go do something important with your life?”

Loki shrugged.  He didn’t really care either way.  He knew he could go back, but he was comfortable where he was.  He made good money, and was able to save nearly all of it.  Getting his JD would be a severe pay cut, and he wasn’t sure there was anything he could do that was important enough to be worth it. 

“I’d be close to thirty when I graduated if I went back now,” he said.  “What’s the point?”

“I didn’t have a law degree when I was thirty,” Angela said.  “I still don’t.”

Loki looked over at her, almost indignant at her clumsy attempt at manipulation.  “I have never seen Dad so angry as the day you dropped out of Princeton,” he said.  “He was more mad about that than he was at me.”

Angela snorted.  “Let’s be honest, paying off a judge cost him a lot less than I did.”

Loki laughed bitterly and shook his head.  Angela shook her head right back at him.

“Get off the fucking coke.  Go finish your degree, and get out from under Daddy’s thumb,” Angela said.  “Christ, go to rehab if you have to.”

“I’m off,” Loki said.  He looked down at his cigarette and took another drag.  “I haven’t touched the shit since January, all right?  Lay off.”

“That sounds like something a person who really wishes he had a score would say,” Angela said.

Loki flicked his cigarette at her, immediately annoyed that he’d done it.  “God, you’re such a bitch,” he said.

Angela flicked the ash from his cigarette away, and then threw her own onto the stone driveway. 

“I’m serious,” she said.  She pulled Loki into an awkward hug, and held him even as he resisted.  “You need to get out of here.  You’re going to have a stroke before you’re thirty if you don’t.  Go move into a co-op.  Fuck, go back to Reykjavík and start over where nobody knows who you are.  Do something with your life before you’re too old to enjoy it.”

Loki managed to shove her off and stepped away to put some distance between them. 

“I’m happy here,” he said.  “I like it here, when there aren’t thirty fucking people running around screaming at one another.”

Angela tilted her head, thinking real hard about something.  “Where’d the other three come from?” she asked.

“Oh, shut up,” Loki said.

He was afraid Angela was going to try to hug him again, but she kept her hands to herself as they both fell into a sullen silence.  Some bitter, resentful part of him knew she was right, but he could not see a future for himself out in the world on his own.  Luckily, he didn’t have to think about it for much longer, as Thor and Sylvie finally made their way out of the house and down the driveway.  As they approached, Thor unlocked the doors from his fob.  Loki immediately threw open the front door before Angela could get to it, sliding into the passenger seat while she complained behind him.  The other two caught up and got settled, all four of them taking the time to fuss around with seats and set belts and everything else they could reach.  Finally, Thor started the engine and opened the gate to get them on their way.

“What were you to bickering about?” Sylvie asked.

Loki rolled his eyes, annoyed that they’d been seen.  “Nothing,” he said.

“The law degree he doesn’t want to finish,” Angela said over him. 

Sylvie laughed.  “Yeah, good luck.  If he won’t listen to me about it, he definitely won’t listen to you.”

“Would you both shut up?” Loki said.  He leaned back into his seat and watched as Thor took them back toward the bridge.  “One more word about it and I’m calling my dealer just to piss you both off.”

“Why the fuck do you still have your dealer’s number?” Angela asked, kicking the back of his seat.

Loki shouted and tried to swing around behind his seat to slap her, but he couldn’t reach.  They scuffled for a few minutes until she grabbed his wrist and pulled his arm back.

“Knock it off!” Thor shouted.  “I should have taken the kids out.  They’d be better behaved.”

Angela let go of Loki, and he grudgingly took his arm back without getting in one final swipe at her.

“Just leave him alone,” Thor said.

“Yeah, leave me alone,” Loki said.

Thor reached out and slapped him in the the chest, and Loki couldn’t quite help but feel like the force was disproportionate to his crimes.

“You shut up especially,” Thor said.

Loki frowned and rubbed the spot where Thor had slapped him.  “Asshole,” he muttered.

They got over the canal and into town, and as chatter began to rise again from the others, Loki sat back in his seat and watched everything roll by.  This time, rather than Thor taking them all halfway across the island to get value menu garbage, they stayed in town.  He parked in front of a small diner they all knew well, barely managing to squeeze into one of the parking spots on the street.  As the girls got out from the back, Thor held his hand out to stop Loki.  Loki looked over at him tiredly, not knowing what this game was, and not wanting to play.

“Phone,” Thor said.  “Give it to me.”

Loki sighed and threw his entire body into rolling his eyes as he pulled his phone from his pocket.  He thought momentarily about fighting Thor on this, but it wasn’t worth it.  He unlocked it and handed it over.  Neither said anything as Loki watched Thor frown at his phone, tapping and scrolling at the screen.

“Which one am I deleting?” Thor asked.

Loki snorted.  “Nobody,” he said.

Thor took a deep breath and looked forward, staring at the diner in front of them. 

“Loki,” he said slowly.  “Whose number am I deleting?”

They were both silent for a long moment, until Loki recited the phone number Thor wanted from memory.  He watched Thor’s brow furrow as he scrolled through the contacts, slowly coming to the correct conclusion.

“Only an idiot keeps their dealer’s number in their phone,” Loki said, snatching it back.

Thor gave him a sad, pitying look, but Loki didn’t want to see it.  He got out of the car as quickly as possible and joined the girls on the sidewalk, ignoring the looks they both gave him.  Turning back to see Thor messing around with his own phone, Loki shook his head and stepped inside, with Angela and Sylvie joining him.  The weather was nice, so they walked through the diner to the back patio, taking up one of the larger tables for themselves. 

After a few moments of awkward silence, Thor finally caught up, settling in between Angela and Sylvie on the round bench.

“If that was Dad you were texting, I’m never speaking to you again,” Loki said, not looking up from his hands.

“Let’s not do this, please,” Thor said.

“Was it Dad?” Loki asked.  He looked straight at Thor, ready to get up and start walking home if he had to.

“No,” Thor said.  “I wasn’t texting anyone.  Calm down.”

“He’s just being a whiny bitch because he’s hungry,” Sylvie said as she looked around for any wait staff that might have noticed them.  “Have you actually eaten anything at all this weekend?”

Loki shrugged, hating that she was probably right, but not wanting to give her that satisfaction.  “You saw me at dinner last night,” he said.

“And?” she asked.  “A single taco on Saturday?  What else?”

Loki shrugged and turned away from the conversation.  He hardly thought she’d be appeased to know he’d picked around several-day-old lamb for breakfast the day before, so he kept it to himself.  While he ignored everyone around the table, the lone waitress on staff finally seemed to notice them and brought over menus and cold water before disappearing again.  Loki picked his up and flipped it around, but he’d been called out and now wanted nothing on it out of pure spite.

He stared at it anyway while conversation drifted away from him and toward other things he didn’t care about, still debating if he should just get up and leave.  He might have made it halfway home by the time the others left, but the prospect of walking even that far before being picked up again was enough to keep him in his seat.

When the waitress finally came back round again, Loki ignored her until all eyes were on him.  But before he could shake his head and decline, Sylvie took it upon herself to order for him.

“He’ll have the power breakfast,” she said.

Loki wasn’t even sure what that was, and began flipping through the menu again to find it.

“Bacon, ham, or sausage?” the waitress asked.

“All of them,” Sylvie said.

Loki found the item on the menu and got pissed off all over again at the sight of it.  “What?  No, I don’t want all that,” he said.

“Shut up.  Yes he does,” Sylvie said.

The waitress hesitated a moment before writing it all down.  “Drink?” she asked.

Loki sighed and shrugged, clearly the loser. 

“Arnold Palmer,” he said as he tossed the menu into the pile at the middle of the table.

The waitress gathered up the menus and rushed off, leaving the four of them in yet another awkward silence.  Loki stared back down at his hands, wondering how badly he could irritate some of his uncles if he went home and painted his nails.  Then he wondered if he had any left.

“Hundred bucks says there’s nothing in the will,” Loki said suddenly.  He thought about it a moment longer while everyone stared at him; about the reading being postponed hours before it was supposed to happen, and the rage and chaos that had descended in its wake.  “Two hundred.”

Angela shook her head.  “I’m not taking that,” she said.  “Not when you’re that confident.”

“You’re starting to sound like them,” Thor said.  “Paranoid that you’re not going to get anything.”

Loki shook his head.  “So what if I don’t?” he asked.  “I haven’t even touched my trust; it’s worth more now than when I graduated.  I bought my car with my commission from last year, and still have a good chunk left over.  I’m not the one screaming because I can’t afford to push back a flight back to where the hell ever.”

He picked at his thumbnail, growing more and more certain by the second.

“Two hundred,” Thor said.  “Paid on Wednesday, by the paranoid little rat.”

“Paid on Wednesday by the insufferable meat head,” Loki said.

He looked up at Sylvie, but she shook her head. 

“If you’re so sure, you can pay for breakfast,” Thor said.  “I did pay for dinner the other night.”

Loki reached for his wallet, before realising a moment too late that he hadn’t grabbed it.

“I don’t have my wallet,” he said.

Thor grumbled and groaned and shook his head.  “Of course.  That’s how you have so much cash lying around.  You never spend it.”

“I will pay you back when we get home,” Loki said.  “I’m obviously good for it.”

The waitress came by with their drinks, setting everything out on the table.  She spared just enough time to toss silverware and straws down before hurrying off again to deal with someone else.

“It guess Daddy’s paying you pretty good, then,” Angela said.

Loki shot her a warning glare, daring her to bring up his degree again.  But she seemed to get the hint, and left her thought right where it was. 

“No,” he said.

“Dad pays him more than he pays me,” Thor said.

“No he doesn’t.  But he pays you sit around in an expensive office all day pretending you know what’s going on,” Loki said.  “I actually have to go work and deal with people.”

“Dad pays you to spend his money,” Thor said. 

Thor kicked him under the table, and Loki kicked him back.

“Dad doesn’t pay me at all.  But what do you get paid to do?” Loki asked.  “Get in fist fights with the copy machine?”

Loki shook his head and turned to Angela.

“Have you seen him behind that desk?” he asked.  “He looks like an ape in a suit.  He’s terrifying.  That’s why he never got his license.”

“I’d rather look like an ape than a greasy little weasel,” Thor said.

“At least weasels are cute,” Loki said.

He kicked Thor again, and then pulled both his feet away so Thor couldn’t reach him.  The girls laughed from either side of him, while Thor bent to look under the table and tried to aim another kick.

“You’d never believe they’re adults,” Angela said as she picked up her drink.

Loki leaned back in his seat, keeping himself away from Thor in case he decided to reach across the table.  Instead, Thor settled back in his seat as well, shaking his head.  For a moment, they were both silent, while Sylvie and Angela exchanged a look of apprehension.

“I mean, I do make more money than you, but that’s because you don’t know anything,” Loki said.

He barely managed to dodge out of the way as Thor kicked at him under the table again. 

“Yeah?” Thor asked as he sat up again.  “That why you could only get into Columbia?”

Loki threw his hands into the air, wondering how Thor could prove his point so easily.  “It was closer.  I didn’t want to go to Massachusetts.  Gross.”

Beside him, Angela made a sound that was somewhere between a gasp and a laugh.

“Loki, what the fuck is wrong with you?” she asked.  “How are you so smart and so stupid at the same time?”

Loki shrugged at her, prepared to defend his decisions against any and all ridicule.  But before he could, the waitress returned with their plates, setting them all on the table before them.  Loki looked at his plate, and his argument immediately died at the sight of what Sylvie had ordered for him.  He would have been fine with pancakes and eggs.  He did not need fries, and toast, and an entire barnyard to go with it.

“Why?” he asked, looking at her.

She shrugged and picked up her fork, leaving Loki to figure out where to even start.

He was already jerking off when Sylvie let herself in, closing the door quietly behind her.  Loki quickly pulled his hand out of his pyjamas and quickly scrambled about to close the tab on his laptop.

“Already starting without me?” she asked.

Loki closed his laptop and shrugged.  He leaned back on his hands, knowing what Sylvie wanted, and trying not to seem too eager about it. 

“Thor was still up,” he said.  He pointed to the wall that separated his room from Thor’s en suite.  “Heard him doing something in there.”

Sylvie nodded and joined him in bed, getting under the blankets with him and setting his laptop on the table beside the bed.  His room was a lot smaller than hers, and all his bed was a lot smaller than hers as a result.  Somehow, it had never been a problem until recently, with Sylvie wanting to share his bed with him.  Now, he was acutely aware of how small the space was, with very little room for either of them as their bodies pressed together.  Before she was even settled, Loki leaned over to kiss her along her neck and over her shoulder where her shirt fell loose, pressing their bodies close together.  He climbed on top of her, pressing her onto her back, and rutted lazily against her while he dragged his hand over her body.  They didn’t have a lot of time to waste, and he was already halfway gone as it was, but he still tried to slow down so he didn’t immediately spoil everything.  He waited until she reached for the hem of his pyjamas, tugging at them, before backing away to pull them all the way off.  Sylvie wasn’t wearing pyjamas, but a long shirt that covered her completely.  It had become her usual nightwear, giving them one less thing to waste time fussing with.  Loki hitched it up to get it out of the way, but he paused at seeing she had no panties underneath.  It was as though he had become frozen in place at the sight of it, unable to do anything but stare for a long moment as she pulled her shirt off all the way.

“Thought we’d try it your way,” Sylvie said, grinning nervously.

Loki still stared, looking down at her naked body spread out on his bed, her legs lazily spread open around his hips.  She tugged on his shirt, and without thinking, Loki pulled it off and tossed it aside.  Nodding, Loki settled between her legs, and carefully arranged himself to glide between her folds.  Just being on top of her without a single barrier between them was like lightning.  The first cautious thrust, his bare flesh against her, pulled a startled gasp from both of them.  It was already so much more than he had expected, to feel her entire body beneath his, the heat of her cunt on in him a way he never thought possible as she wrapped herself around him.  He moved again, slowly and deliberately, trying to draw out the sensation as long as possible as he forced himself to keep quiet.  Thor might have still been awake, and even though there was a buffer between them, Loki still knew he couldn’t risk being heard.  Not like this, with both of them naked in his bed, her legs holding his body on top of hers, and his mouth pressed against the side of her neck.

“Okay,” Sylvie said breathlessly.  She rolled her hips against him, and for a moment Loki thought he might burst.  “Yeah, okay.”

Nodding, Loki moved slowly against her, feeling her with every inch of his dick.  He kissed her neck, nibbling and nipping as he tried to keep a slow rhythm to enjoy the moment.  Beyond taking his time to enjoy it, he knew he had to be careful. But as Sylvie writhed and bucked beneath him, gasping and stifling moans as she arched against him, he couldn’t keep his composure for much longer.  Loki sped up, rutting into her with increasing force that only made him want more.  He stopped paying attention to what he was doing entirely, letting his hands and mouth wander while he moved against her without a thought in his mind, and suddenly everything changed.  In the time it took to breathe, Loki found himself suddenly overwhelmed by a wholly new sensation.  He knew what had happened before he even registered it, and they both went still with a sharp gasp.  Terrified, and able to feel Sylvie squeezing around his cock, he looked down at her for any guidance.  But his confusion and terror was mirrored on her face as she stared up at him, barely breathing.  He was inside her.  Not fully, but enough that it didn’t make a difference either way.  He was inside her, and it was the one thing he knew was off limits.

The one thing she had made it clear they would not be doing, ever.

“Loki,” Sylvie said finally.

Loki tried to pull out of her, but the friction as he moved was too much.  He gasped again and froze in place, barely able to manage that.  He held himself still and nodded, letting her know that he was aware, and finding himself entirely unable to do anything about it.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

He knew it was just a matter of moments before she yelled; before she got angry enough with him to get them caught and get him in trouble.  And still he was so overwhelmed by the knowledge that he had crossed that line and could never take it back.  Even if he wasn’t moving inside her, he was fucking his sister.

“Just…” Sylvie said. 

He could feel her trembling beneath him, but still found himself unable to do anything.  He tried again to pull out, and had to fight against the urge to push it in deeper.  He tried to make himself feel ashamed about what he had done, what he was doing.  Instead, he wanted to bury himself inside her, and to feel just how perfectly they fit together.

“Just don’t cum inside me,” she said finally.

At first, Loki couldn’t believe what he’d heard.  Nodding slowly, Loki pressed himself all the way back in, even deeper than he had gone before.  Sylvie hissed beneath him as he inched his way in, surprised at how tight she was around him.  But she didn’t tell him to stop, so he kept going until he was fully buried within her, and trying not to explode.  He stayed there for just a moment, panting against her as she gripped him tightly around his neck, her hands trembling against him.  She was right.  They were made for one another, and the way he fit inside her proved it. 

Now as he rutted against her, he could feel all of her, fully surrounding him.  They both whimpered and moaned, straining to keep quiet as Loki slowly fucked her, feeling her squeeze down on his cock every time he pressed as deep as he could go.  He moved experimentally at first, in long, slow motions.  But then he began to pick up speed, unable to stop himself.  It was that first night all over again, when Sylvie had touched him unexpectedly.  He was overwhelmed and consumed with lust and confusion and need, and it very suddenly all became too much.

“I’m sorry,” he said again, panting.

He pulled out quickly, spilling on Sylvie’s stomach.  Together, they both stayed still aside from their nervous trembling, neither saying anything.  He could feel his cock pulsing between them.  He’d cum on Sylvie’s stomach before, but now it felt different somehow; he felt needy and almost desperate, and was ashamed at having to pull out of her so quickly.  Rutting against her, he knew he could have gone at least twice as long.

“I didn’t mean to,” he said after a long moment. 

He pulled away, unable to look at her in case she was mad at him for what he’d done.  He looked down at himself, the slick sheen on his dick sent a sharp jolt through him.  That was Sylvie’s slick on him, because he had been inside her, in every way he knew he was never supposed to be.

“I’m sorry,” he said again.

“Clean yourself up,” Sylvie said, pushing him all the way off of her.

Loki looked around, and found his pyjamas.  He mopped up his cum with them, frowning at the realisation he’d have to get a new pair later.  Once he was clean, Sylvie pushed him onto his back and got on top of him.  At first, she only rubbed her body against his, keeping him hard.  Loki watched her drag her cunt over his dick, pressing it between them so it disappeared beneath her.  Then, without warning, she lifted herself up and used her hand to guide herself onto him, taking his length deep inside of her.  Loki stared transfixed at where his cock disappeared into his sister’s cunt, and if he hadn’t just cum all over her stomach, he might have done it right there.

“What?” he asked, not entirely sure what was going on.

Sylvie shrugged as she rolled against him.  “Doesn’t matter anymore, does it?” she asked.  “It’s not like we can take it back.”

Loki wasn’t sure he believed that.  He’d done it by accident, but she’d done it on purpose.  That had to have made some sort of difference.  But it quickly no longer mattered, because he was once again inside her, and already was starting to want more.

She rode him, quickly moving against him and stifling noises by biting her lip.  Loki knew not to try to guide her, and had to resist taking hold of her hips and moving her where he wanted.  She planted her hands on his shoulders to leverage herself, not bouncing on him like he wanted, but grinding against him, with him buried deep.  He listened as her quiet whines grew higher and higher in pitch, until she finally came with a gasp.  He let her ride it out, before taking her hips and guiding her, moving her how he wanted.  He watched his dick sink into her and emerge again, burning the image into his mind for later.  He would use this image later, when he was alone, and hold onto it forever.  No porn would ever be as good as this image would be.

Loki buried his face into Sylvie’s chest, wanting to feel her body as he fucked her, but barely having the wits to do anything more that hold onto her.  She started moving with him, tangling her fingers in his hair, and pressing his face against her breasts.

“Show me what you can do,” she said.  “I wanna cum again.  Make me do it.”

Loki held her tight, letting his mouth fall open against her skin.  He could barely breathe, too overwhelmed by what she was letting him do that all he could focus on was the feel of her cunt around him.  With her on top of him, her weight holding him down, he couldn’t quite move within her like he wanted.  Instead, he moved her on top of him, and she moved with him, biting her lip and leaning heavily against him. 

“Come on,” she said.  “Just a little bit more.  You can do it.”

Loki whined as he held her tighter, and listened to her breath hitch above him. 

“Come on,” she said again, her voice high and breathless in his ear.  “Come on.”

She moaned against him and started to slow down as she moved on top of him, but Loki wasn’t done yet.  He held his grip on her, trying to fuck her and move her as hard as he could, growing more and more desperate by the moment.  Finally, as he rose once more, he pulled her off of him completely, once more spilling on her bare skin and his own as he came.  Panting, he dared to look up at her, still afraid she might be angry.  Instead, she leaned down and kissed him on the mouth, invading him with her tongue.  Just as Loki’s mind caught up with him, and he started to kiss her back, she got off of him and made her way to the door.  Loki watched as she made sure she was fully covered before slipping back out to her own room.

« || »

Starve to Death with Dignity #4

His routine was simple.  Each morning, Loki woke and donned his disguise so he would not have to see his own flesh.  He inhaled Eir’s disgusting potion, and went with Thor to perform whatever task Odin had assigned him for the day.  Slowly, he was allowed other tasks beyond hearing requests, but none that were any more enjoyable.  Then he would wait under guard for Thor to finish his own tasks, and return to his chambers for dinner, walking the shadows so he could enjoy his meal and complete his usual work.

Some evenings, the wind was kind, and Loki enjoyed an evening with no distractions at all.  Most evenings, Loki had just enough time to finish his work before rutting against his pillows to exhaustion.  The worst nights were those when he had to drug himself to sleep, because not even exhaustion would let him stop. 

Loki had a simple choice, and he chose the option that gave him a modicum of pleasure in the evenings.  He could at least enjoy a meal and a cup of wine, if nothing else.  It hardly mattered while he was trembling and heaving against his own bedding, trying to convince himself that the mass beneath him was some faceless, nameless person.  And even then, he had choices that he ignored, because even though he took no real pleasure from rutting into his bedding like a filthy animal, some feral part of him craved and preferred it to anything and everything else.

There was, of course, a third option.  He could simply leave; cast himself into exile and avoid every other living being for the rest of his life.  It was an option he’d considered, but it seemed that at he still preferred to rut against his pillows each night like the filthy animal he was.

And then, the worst happened.  A scent he thought he was learning to recognise was heavy on the wind, and he had forgotten that he had run out of both draughts Eir had provided.  He needed only make those few steps to his desk to fetch the potion he had left there, but he had stained and soiled his pillow three times and still could not force himself to stop.  He wept silently as he rutted against his own slick and sticky mess.  His hand wasn’t enough.  His pillows weren’t enough.  He was no longer able to convince himself that he was in bed with a partner.  His cock knew he spilled onto linen, and would continue to torture him until it was buried deep inside someone.

He no longer even had seed to spill, and still his cock craved more.  Still that scent hung heavily on the wind, driving him to madness. 

It was the first night his body gave out before his feral lust.  He fell asleep, still rutting against his pillows, his cock hard and demanding.  He woke late the next morning, naked atop a tangled mess of bedding and pillows and covered in his own filth, while his cock still craved more.  His disguise had fallen, exposing the monster he truly was.  He was so disgusted with himself and his behaviour he didn’t even bother to try to hide himself.  Letting his natural form show, perhaps to punish himself, he inhaled Eir’s potion and went to go bathe.  Even with the potion dulling his senses, it seemed to take ages for him to calm down and for his cock to finally soften and behave itself.  Loki was halfway through cleaning himself before he realised it was closer to afternoon than it was morning, and Thor had not yet come to fetch him.

Then, Loki realised Thor likely had come to fetch him, and found him in such a shameful state that he had just left Loki behind for the day, imprisoned in his own chambers.  And it was all he deserved after that. 

But as he dressed himself, in preparation for a day spent locked in his cage, he was surprised when he heard the door to the main corridor open.  Loki quickly disguised himself and turned to see Thor entering his bedchamber, oblivious and ignorant to what he had just missed.

“You’re up.  Good,” he said.

That alone was confirmation that he had been as oblivious or ignorant as he let on.  Loki knew Thor had been in to fetch him earlier, and left him where he lay.  Unsure what to say, and barely able to even look at Thor, Loki nodded.

“I’m up,” he said.

“We’re going to Midgard.  You should come,” Thor said.  He looked around Loki’s chambers, pretending he didn’t see the disgusting mess on the bed.  “Getting out would do you some good.”

“I’m not sure that’s allowed,” Loki said.

“Father never said you couldn’t go anywhere.  Just that you can’t go without a chaperone,” Thor said.

Slowly, Loki nodded.  He had barely been allowed beyond a small area within the palace.  Midgard seemed at once like a huge undertaking, and a welcome relief.

“Let me get dressed,” he said.

Doing his best to avoid looking at his mess, Loki dressed quickly, finding something simple that wouldn’t call too much unwanted attention.  He even skipped his surcoat, though a trip to Midgard did require some ornamentation.  He settled on a horned diadem, slipping it on as he turned to join Thor. 

“I haven’t seen you in your horns in months,” Thor said as they walked to the stables.

Loki shrugged.  “I haven’t needed them,” he said.

As they reached the stables, it became clear that the entire trip had been pre-arranged.  Loki’s horse was already tacked and dressed, and with an exhausted sigh in Thor’s direction, Loki mounted it. 

“I told you, it’ll be good for you,” he said.

Loki ignored the wary glances from the rest of their group, and found he couldn’t even look at Sif directly as they prepared to head out.  He always hated taking horses along the Bifröst, and knew that one day he’d be thrown from it and hurled into the void.  But he wasn’t thrown from the Bifröst, and he wasn’t hurled into the void.  They landed safely on Midgard, and Loki quickly got his horse under control.

“All right.  We’re on Midgard.  Now what?” Loki asked.

“Trolls,” Volstagg said.

Loki was surprised to even get an answer.

“What about them?” he asked.

“I’ve heard there’s a village being plagued by them, and Trolls are always a good fight,” Volstagg said.

Loki was far too tired to fight trolls, but he could always sit on the sidelines and hurl stones if he needed to.  He was fairly certain Thor had not devised this trip to get Loki to perform manual labour.  Still, he followed Volstagg’s lead through the realm, curious if nothing else to see where the day went.

The ride to the village was a short one, and as they reached the edge of it, Loki realised this was the largest crowd he had been near in months.  As the humans noticed their approach, they began to gather near the road, and suddenly Loki wasn’t so sure about this trip.  Humans were always fertile.  It was a feature of being so short lived.  A single human woman could produce more children than an Asgardian could over an entire lifetime.  But Loki had taken Eir’s potion, and it was still fresh in his system as they reached the village, and Loki did not find himself wanting to do anything stupid at all.  He dismounted his horse with the rest of their group and walked alongside Thor into the village to meet the jarl.

“We hear you have a troll problem,” Thor said.

The jarl looked up at the pair of them with fear in his eyes.  Not just fear of the trolls, but of the gods who had come to help.  He nodded finally, hands clasped at his chest.

“Yes.  Please, help us,”  he said.  “There’s a whole den of them.  They eat our animals and destroy our houses.”

Just looking around, Loki could see that much was evident.  While some houses showed signs of being freshly built or repaired, others resembled piles of fire starter.

“Where is this troll den?” Thor asked.  “I assure you, these trolls will trouble you no further.”

The jarl pointed off toward the north.

“Just beyond the ridge, there,” he said.

Thor turned to see the ridge in question and nodded.

“Leave it with us,” he said.

He mounted his horse again, and the rest soon followed.  As a party, they rode out to the ridge, stopping at its rounded crest.  Below, on the other side, they could see the troll den, full of bones and shit and everything they had taken from the villagers.

Thor laughed quietly, and turned to Loki.

“Well.  Shall we?” he asked.

“I thought I might stay up here and throw stones,” Loki said.  “No promises on who I might strike.”

Thor did not hide his disappointment well, but he did not argue either. 

“Just try not to hit me, then,” he said.

Loki stayed on his horse while the rest rode down the slope into the valley below.  The sound of hoofbeats soon alerted the trolls, and more of them than Loki expected crawled out of their caves.  A dozen, at least, all snarling and slobbering as they ran to attack.  Leaning against the back of his horse’s neck, Loki watched the battle take shape, as the other five all swung hammers and blades at the dreadful creatures.

While Loki may have been no better than a dog, trolls were somehow worse.  They weren’t like animals.  They were foul beasts, rooting about in their own shit.  And with as many of them as there were, with more still crawling from holes in the ground, he had quite the show in front of him.  It was clear that it was not quite the easy battle Thor and Volstagg had been expecting, but they also weren’t so overrun that Loki felt guilty about sitting it out.  Nor did he feel terribly guilty about laughing as Thor was slapped out of the air, or Volstagg sat upon, face down in the muck.  Loki even kept his word and dismounted his horse long enough to hurl a few stones down into the fray.

As he climbed back onto his horse, Loki picked up a familiar scent on the wind, rolling up the ridge from the village, and suddenly all his enjoyment of the day evaporated.  He reached for the potion, but he had forgotten to tuck it away, and could not remember where in his chambers he had left it.  Looking behind him at the village below, Loki weighed his options.  The smart thing to do was to call Heimdall and return home.  To let himself be dragged back to his chambers by a pair of over-zealous guards and take his punishment in the form of having to sleep in his own filth just as the trolls below.

But once he caught that scent, Loki was anything but smart.  He knew he shouldn’t, but still he turned around and rode back down the slope toward the village.  By the time he thought to turn around, it was too late.  He was no longer operating under his own power.  It wasn’t just one woman whose scent he had picked up, but half the damn village, and it was intoxicating.  He was painfully hard already, and had to hold himself on the saddle to keep from doing himself any lasting damage.  As he reached the village and dismounted, still unsure what he was even doing, the jarl rushed forward to meet him.

“Tell me.  How fares it?” he asked.

Loki just barely managed to force himself to stay still.

“It seems you have more of a troll infestation,” he said, his voice wavering against the effort to make himself look like he was in his right mind.  “And in his haste to leave, my brother never discussed payment.”

The jarl nodded.  “Yes, of course.”  He turned to face the growing crowd behind him, and the shattered village beyond.  “Unfortunately, we haven’t much to offer.”

“You have women,” Loki said.

He could see the fear rising in those who were close enough to overhear.  Even the jarl himself turned back, wide eyed as he nodded slowly.

“Yes.  Of course,” he said, stepping aside. 

He looked again to the crowd, gesturing weakly.  Taking the invitation for what it was, Loki stepped forward, struggling with everything he had to keep his calm.  He felt like he would explode, and it only grew worse as he inhaled deeply, the scent so overwhelming that it easily got past whatever was left of Eir’s potion.

Loki should have turned away.  He should have called Heimdall and taken his punishment.  Instead, he stopped before a young woman who could not even face him.  It was her scent that stood out the most to him in that moment, and if he took any longer to make his choice, he might have lost all sense and reason right there in front of everyone.

“You,” he said.

She looked up at him, inhaling sharply.  Without waiting for her to acknowledge his demand, he took her by the arm and walked her to the nearest house.  Once inside, he let go of her, and watched as she rushed to get as far from him as possible.

“Please,” she said, shaking her head.

This was madness, and yet Loki could not stop himself from unlacing his breeches.  This time, nobody would be able to stop him, and although the thought horrified him to his core, he still freed his cock, hard and aching.  He had taken Midgardian women before, but never like this.  Never when they looked at him with such terror, and still despite it, he pulled his tunic off and cast it aside.  He wanted to feel her flesh against his.  He wanted something living and responsive beneath him, and he wanted his entire body to know it too.

Loki had stalled as long as he was able, and even as he stepped quickly toward the terrified woman, he hated himself.  Even before he laid his hands on her, he knew he’d never forgive himself.  Even as he dragged her across the floor and threw her down onto the bed as she fought and screamed, he knew he deserved whatever punishment Odin would throw at him for this.  Still, he got into the bed with her, wrestling her onto her knees and pulling her skirts up to bare her cunt and ass.  He could feel his magic fading from the effort it had taken him to compose himself so far, and he let it go.  He let his true self show, his hands blue against her fair skin as he forced her out of her gown to bare her body completely.

She cried as he forced himself inside her cunt, but he didn’t hear it because he was too busy shouting from relief he thought he’d never know.  He held her down with his body, caging her with his arms as he had done so many times to his bedding.  As he draped his body against hers, feeling her trembling and struggling beneath him, he breathed in her scent.  Even buried inside her, he needed more, and he had never hated himself more.  He held her tight against his body, one arm wrapped around her waist, and the other across her chest, holding onto her shoulder so she stayed right where he needed her.

“I’m sorry,” he said, pulling their bodies together.  “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.”

She cried and screamed, and he knew the entire village stood outside listening.  She seemed to grow tighter around his cock by the moment, until Loki too shouted as he was consumed by his need for her body.  He held her even more tightly, squeezing her in his arms as her scent overwhelmed him.  She was fertile, and his only purpose in life was to plant his seed inside her no matter how badly she fought and screamed beneath him. 

“I’m sorry,” he repeated.

He licked trail along her back, able to taste not just the salt of her skin, but something else.  The same thing he could smell on her, but more potent.  He licked it from her body, letting it go straight to his cock as he drove it deep into her so hard it interrupted her noises. 

“I’m sorry,” he said he said against her skin, before licking her again.  “I’m sorry.”

He said it over and over again, feeling as though he could barely move with her so tight around his cock.  He felt as though his cock might be crushed by her, and still he rutted into her, harder and harder and harder, screaming with each thrust forward, and apologising with each attempt to back away.  He finally spent so hard, it drew one final scream from him as he saw white.  His entire body trembled as he continued to rut through it, the added slick doing nothing to ease her tightness around him.  She wailed and screamed beneath him, even as he collapsed on top of her, panting and still slowly rutting into her as he continued to slowly spill deep inside her.  He could feel her trembling, her entire body shaking so hard he could almost hear it.  As his body finally stopped moving on its own, Loki realised what he had done.  He tried to move off of her so he could flee, but she was still so tight around him that they both screamed in pain and in shock.  He managed to pull his weight off of her, leaning back away just enough to see his cock buried in her cunt up to the hilt.

“I’m sorry,” he said, realising what he was looking at.  “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.”

He had behaved like a disobedient dog, and now he was tied to her like one.  Seeing the swell of his cock, blue and not at all his own, stretching her cunt open and still buried deep inside, he knew now why his hand was never good enough.  He shuddered, so sick at the sight he thought he might vomit.

“I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry,” he said, trembling so hard he nearly collapsed again.

Not sure what else to do, he held onto her again and tried to roll so they were both on their sides, legs and hips twisted around one another so she didn’t pull against his cock.  He didn’t even know the poor woman’s name, and didn’t dare ask as she wept and sobbed as he pressed her against his chest to get them both settled.  He had seen dogs tied together, and knew all he could do was wait it out.  Give himself ten or fifteen minutes before disappearing to never be seen again.  He’d go find another realm to spend the rest of his days in, where he could never hurt anyone else.

“I’m sorry,” he said, lying down to wait it out.

Sorry didn’t cut it, and he knew it.  But he said it anyway, again and again.  He was a monster, and in a few months, she would give birth to another monster.  There was no chance involved in it.  He picked her because he knew she was fertile and would take his seed.  And he deserved a lifetime in a cage for it.

Eventually, as her cries turned to low whimpers, Loki stopped apologising.  As he watched shadows crawl across the walls, he realised his assumption was flawed.  He wasn’t a dog.  He was a monster.  A monster, stuck inside of a terrified woman who couldn’t even flee after being raped.  Ten minutes would have been a blessing, but Loki was cursed.  He twisted his back so both of his shoulders were nearly flat against the bed, with his hips and legs still tangled with hers, and covered his mouth with both hands to keep himself from screaming once more.  As he took a moment to just think, he realised he was one again a larger fool than he had ever realised.  Except when he tried to shift his form back, he couldn’t.  Something was blocking it.  He tried again, and again, but he already knew what had happened.

The magic had failed.

The potion had failed because Eir had mixed it to protect against a handful of women at most; not an entire village of humans who bred like rabbits.  The potion had failed because he had forgotten to bring it with him.  The potion had failed because Loki was a fool.

The magic had failed because his cock had swollen to an incomprehensible size, and the spell did not know how to put it back as it should have been.  And because of it, he was stuck inside a woman who cried quietly beside him, her body still trembling from everything he had done to her.

He’d had options, and he had pursued none of them.

The guilt and the horror of his own actions crashed down on him, and even with his hands clasped over his mouth to keep himself silent, he wept.  His throat closed tight, and his stomach heaved as he tried to keep himself silent, because he knew he had no right to indulge in self-pity.  He could only watch as shadows and patches of light slowly moved across the walls and began to fade as the evening wore on.  He had no idea how long he’d laid there with his cock still in the woman’s cunt, or how much longer he should expect, but some dark and dreadful feeling washed over him, telling him it could be hours and hours longer.

He heard the hoofbeats outside, but did not register them until Thor shouted his name.  After a minor uproar from a small crowd, the door burst open with a loud crack, and even without being able to see him, Loki could feel Thor’s anger.

“Loki, where are you?” Thor shouted.

He stepped through the house, finally stopping just before the bed.  Loki couldn’t even look at him.  He screwed his eyes shut, resisting the urge to scream into his hands.

“Loki, what have you done?” Thor asked, his horror at the scene before him heavy in his voice.

Loki dared to look at him a moment too late.  Thor grabbed the poor woman by the arm and tried to pull her up, drawing pained screams from both of them.  He let go quickly, letting her fall back down to the bed.  Trying to breathe through it, while the woman sobbed openly once more, Loki shifted to rearrange the two of them so the pressure of her cunt around his cock was as painless as was possible for both of them.

“I’m sorry,” he said, no longer sure who he was even apologising to.

“At least have some Bor-damned decency, you monster,” Thor said.

He picked up a blanket and draped it over the two of them, taking more care to cover up the woman than he did Loki.  Loki figured that was fair, at least, and settled the blanket over himself once Thor stepped away.

“Loki, how could you?” Thor shouted.

Loki shook his head.  “I’m sorry,” he said, his throat still tight and his voice thick.

“This was my idea,” Thor said, turning to step away.  “I convinced Father you could behave.  I thought being locked up for so long was why you had…”

He waved his hand, but he didn’t need to finish the thought.  Loki already knew Thor had walked in and seen him rutting against his pillows in his sleep.

“He doesn’t need to know,” Loki said.

“Of course he needs to know!” Thor shouted.  “Loki, if I can’t turn my back on you for a few minutes, how can you be trusted to be left alone at all?”

Loki didn’t have an answer.  He bit his lip and shook his head, not daring to let Thor see him cry.

“You said we were going to Midgard.  You didn’t say we were heading for a village,” Loki said.

“And if Father never knows, then what?” Thor asked.  “I don’t trust you.  How can I?  Look at you.  You’re out of control.”

Loki shrugged.  “It won’t happen again.  I swear,” he said.

“Isn’t that what you told Father after you tried to rape Freyja?” Thor asked.

All the air left Loki’s lungs.  That was the one detail he hadn’t told Thor.  He turned away, unable to face Thor for a moment longer.

“How did you know?” he asked.

“When it got out what you are, she was the first to tell everyone,” Thor said.  “She said you dragged her away and held her down, and when you were caught, your prick was already in your hand.”

Loki nodded slowly, unable to say anything.

“You’d be in the dungeons right now, waiting for the axe if you had been found even seconds later,” Thor said.  “Father was lenient with you only because you had not managed it yet.”

He paused, as though he expected Loki to defend himself.  But he had no defense.  He had done exactly what Thor had said.  He had pinned Freyja against a wall, and had every intention of raping her right there in the corridor.

“And now you’ve done this,” Thor said.  “Was it worth it?”

Loki shook his head.  “No,” he said.

“Look at you,” said Thor.  “I had thought the rumours were overblown until I found you this morning.  Then I knew they were true.”

Thor took a deep breath, and Loki could hear him stepping away.

“Now I find you like this, and I wonder what else you’ve managed to get away with.”

Loki took a deep, shuddering breath.  “If I tell you, will you keep this from Father?” he asked.

Another silence spanned on between them, and for a moment, Loki thought Thor might not agree.

“It depends on what you tell me,” he said finally.

It was good enough.  Loki nodded, but still couldn’t bring himself to face Thor.

“There was a servant.  In the library,” Loki said.

“You raped her too?” Thor asked.

“No,” Loki said.  “I wanted to.  But I was too scared.”

“When was this?” Thor asked.

Loki took another deep breath, this one slightly more even.  “A few days before Freyja.  I was… I had myself in hand, and she found me.”

“Why was Freyja different?” Thor asked.

“I don’t know,” Loki said.  He shook his head.  “I truly don’t.  I wish I did.”

He could hear Thor scraping around, and he rolled back over to see him grabbing a chair to sit beside the bed.

“What else?” Thor asked.

Loki shook his head.  “That’s all.  And… what you walked in on this morning.  I’m surprised you didn’t catch me sooner.  But I’d say that’s better than the alternative.  Wouldn’t you?”

“Loki, you’re disgusting,” Thor said.

“I know,” Loki said quickly.  “Believe me, I know.”

“Swear to me,” Thor said.  “Swear to me, Loki, that this will not happen again.  Be depraved as you want on your own, but if this happens again, I will swing the axe myself.”

“I swear,” Loki said.  “Never again.”

Sighing, Thor leaned back in the chair and crossed his leg over his knee.  Loki had thought Thor might leave him to this shame in private, but instead he stayed where he was.  As the shadows gave way entirely to darkness, leaving them to sit in the pale glow of lanterns and fires from outside, Loki was struck with the distinct impression he was supposed to have slept through the whole ordeal.  Hours had passed, and his cock showed no sign of returning to normal.  But sleep was the last thing on his mind.  Even though none of them said a word, Loki’s thoughts were spinning.  He was fairly certain Thor had meant to keep this secret, but he had never actually said he would. 

Finally, the pressure around his cock began to subside, but Loki didn’t dare test it.  He knew the poor woman trapped with him could feel it too, and he said nothing as her whimpering returned.  Instead, he shifted to keep her in place so she didn’t get up too soon.

“Loki?” Thor asked after a moment.

Loki stared up at the ceiling, his jaw clenched so hard his teeth hurt.  “Give it a minute,” he said.

He remained still, even as his cock slowly shrunk.  He didn’t dare move, in case he accidentally got himself going all over again.  The woman he had traumatised lay stiff and rigid beside him, not daring to move either.  But once his cock finally slid out of her on its own, she leapt to her feet, taking the blanket with her, and fled from the house wailing.  Before he could do anything about it, Thor grabbed Loki and pulled him from the bed.  He moved quickly, twisting Loki’s arm behind his back, and pinning him against the wall.  His breeches were still tangled around his boots, leaving him exposed and bare as Thor pressed all his weight against him.

“If this happens again, I will kill you myself,” Thor said in his ear.

Loki nodded.

Thor stepped back, pulling Loki away from the wall and flinging him toward the floor.  Loki tripped over his breeches and fell on his face, too disorientated and confused to break his own fall.

“Put yourself together.  We’re going home,” Thor said.

Nodding, Loki slowly stood and pulled his breeches back up.  Before he did anything else, he made sure his magic still worked, and was utterly unsurprised to find that now that he wasn’t stuck inside of some poor woman, he was able to change himself on the first try.  His diadem had got lost at some point, and had fallen to the floor in the chaos.  He put it back on, and then began his search for his discarded tunic.

“I am sorry,” he said, finding it under a table.  “But you are right.”

“About what?” Thor asked.

Loki pulled his tunic on and carefully tucked it into his waistband.

“I’m out of control,” he said.  “I don’t know who’s in control, but it’s not me.  I don’t want this.  I don’t like this.  But I can’t stop myself.  I see what I’m doing, and I want to stop, but I can’t.”

“Then perhaps we ought to rethink castration,” Thor said.

Loki stopped still.

“I swear.  It will not happen again,” he said.

“How can I trust that, when you say you’re not even in control?” Thor asked.

Again, Loki didn’t have an answer.  He made no effort to duck out of the way as Thor strode toward him, nor did he fight back as Thor grabbed him by the arm and dragged him outside to a small crowd.

“This was an unfortunate misunderstanding,” Thor said, looking at the terrified humans.  “If a word is spoken about this from anyone, I will know.  And I will not be happy.”

Loki couldn’t believe Thor was actually going to lie for him.

“Come on, Loki,” Thor said lowly, dragging him toward the horses.

Thor at least let him take his mount on his own, but as he did, Thor tied Loki’s reins to his own saddle.

“What of the others?” Loki asked, watching him blankly.

“They’ll be there all night,” Thor said gruffly as he took his own mount.  “But I had to leave early, because my brother decided he’d rather go rape a mortal.”

Loki bit his lip and looked down at the saddle before him.  “Yeah,” he said.  “I did.”

They rode back to the Bifröst site in silence, and said nothing to one another still as Thor led Loki back through the palace.  At first, Thor had done him the dignity of letting him walk on his own, but Eir’s potion had long since worn off.  As soon as he caught a scent in the air, he turned quickly to find its source, and at once Thor had a grip on his arm like a vise. 

“Fair, but I don’t think I can even get it up right now,” Loki said lowly.

“Shut up,” Thor said.

Thor took Loki all the way to his bedchamber, which had been cleaned and tidied, with all evidence of his previous night erased.  Thor released him, shoving him across the floor as he did, and causing Loki to stumble.

“Could you at least take a message to Eir for me,” Loki asked as he turned to face Thor once more.

“Fine,” Thor said.

“I’m out of both draughts and I need more,” Loki said.  “A decent supply of each, if possible.”

He didn’t even wait for Thor to respond before stepping over to his desk to save himself the misery of what was to come, and inhaled more of Eir’s potion.  He’d go to bed hungry, and know that he at least deserved it.

“Does it truly help?” Thor asked.

Loki nodded, knowing he would never get used to taking the stuff.

“It all does.  I swear,” he said.  “And if I’d known where we were going, I’d have brought it with me.”

“Fine,” Thor said.  “But I don’t care if it means your every meal is like sand.  You use it.  Even if you don’t think you need it, you had better spend the rest of your miserable life too drugged up to do anything.”

Again, Loki nodded.  “I’ve run out, because I’ve been using it,” he said.  “Believe me, life is so much worse without it.”

Growling lowly, Thor turned toward the door and left Loki alone.

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This One Knows its Place

This One Knows its Place (12,068 words) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Thor
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Rape/Non-con, Violence
Pairings: Loki/Others
Characters: Loki

Summary: A chance encounter with a shapeshifter leaves Loki questioning his own sanity as he seeks to relive the experience in any way he can.

Or: Loki seeks out dangerous sex after being raped.

Continue reading

« || »

Ours to Keep #4

Dinner was exactly as awful as Loki had expected it to be.  The poor woman who normally cooked for them was completely overwhelmed even with the added help she brought, making everything an hour late.  Loki was no stranger to balancing a plate on his lap while he ate, but something about doing it in the sitting room, while strangers sat in his place at the table felt especially distasteful.  He pretended he didn’t hear the kitchen help being treated like wait staff, directing his attention to a stiff conversation along with everyone else around the coffee table.  But he stayed out, knowing his parents would make things right eventually.  It wasn’t his job to deal with the help, and he wouldn’t make it his business to get in the way.

Even though the sun was still shining out the window, Loki gave up trying to be social as soon as he cleared his plate.  There was too much noise and shouting, with veiled insults and arguments being thrown around faster than he cared to keep up.  If he were feeling any better he might have put effort into trying to shut some of it up, but instead he slowly and carefully got to his feet and took his plate to the kitchen.

Frigga harried about to help the help, rather than sitting down for dinner.  Laussa had been left in Odin’s care for dinner, which meant she was wearing most of her meal and crying while everyone else shouted over her.  Frigga gave Loki an exhausted look as he dropped his plate into the sink and stared out at the chaos, feeling like he ought to do something, but also being too tired to care enough to try.  As he turned to Frigga, he realised he needed to at least say something before he disappeared for the night.

“I hate all of them,” he said.

Frigga frowned deeply, but said nothing as Loki turned to leave.  Step by step, he made his way downstairs and to his bedroom, remembering only as he made it to the door that he had fucked up his bed in the name of irritating Angela.  Annoyed with himself, he picked up his phone to fix it, putting everything back where it belonged before settling in and grabbing the remote for the TV.  Leaning back and letting the mattress try to swallow him whole, Loki pulled up his music app on the TV and found a slow downtempo playlist.  He set his LED lights along the ceiling to a dim violet and picked up his iPad from the bedside table and turned it on.  With the music low, and his room cast in a dim glow from his lights and the TV, Loki settled back into bed and watched his iPad screen as it powered up and loaded.

His room was small and cramped, but it was the only space that had ever truly been his.  It was where he went to escape from everyone and be left alone.  When he wasn’t at Odin’s office in town, or driving all over the state to spend Odin’s money or part someone else with their own, Loki worked from his room.  There wasn’t enough space for a desk, but he didn’t need one.  His deck outside had a table, and he worked from there on his laptop when he needed.  For the most part, his time in his bedroom was spent in bed, reclined on a mattress that was too soft to sleep on flat.  Sometimes, that’s where he worked, but he had put everything on hold while strangers masquerading as family came into town and invaded their home.  Instead of even trying to get any work done, he pulled up one of the books he’d read a dozen times already and started on it again, because if he flipped through channels two nights in a row, he thought his brain might actually melt.

With his door open, he could hear dinner wind down and chaos begin to descend down the stairs and into the foyer.  An argument continued to play out, while others shouted over the noise to be heard.  He couldn’t see directly into the foyer from his bed, with his door just offset from the hall enough to block his view.  But he could hear stomping around, and door slamming, and eventual silence as whoever argued either took it outside or parted ways.  With the house once again silent, Loki was able to relax and focus on his book.  He got about two chapters in before he heard footsteps approaching down the hall, with the sort of steady intent that suggested someone was on a mission.  When the footsteps didn’t veer off toward one of the bathrooms, Loki looked up to see Sylvie letting herself in, and closing the door behind her.

“I was wondering where you went,” she said, walking over and sitting next to him.  She tilted his iPad to see the screen, and made a strange face at it.  “Make room.”

Loki looked up at his door.  It was closed, but it was still very early in the evening, and the house would still be swarming with people incapable of minding their own business.  Odin didn’t respect closed doors as a rule, and his wasn’t even meant to be closed at all.

“You can’t be serious,” he said.  “Now?”

“When else are we going to get time?”  Sylvie shrugged and tugged at his iPad with her finger.  “Everyone under forty and over ten went bowling.  And everyone else went back out to the beach.”

Loki frowned, feeling oddly jealous.  “That’s not fair.  I wanna go bowling,” he said.

Again, Sylvie shrugged.  “Too bad.  You get me instead.”

Looking over to the door that faced the beach, hidden behind curtains that blocked out what little light may have remained in the sky, Loki took a deep breath and moved over, making room for Sylvie on the small bed.  She settled in next to him, immediately rolling over to drape herself over his chest while he tried to figure out how to hold his iPad.  She took care of that question for him by taking it from his hand and locking it as she set it back on the table.  The two of them settled together, with Sylvie’s head on Loki’s shoulder, and his arm around her, holding her close.  She wasted no time in finding him beneath his pyjamas, stroking him until he was hard in her hand. 

“This feels dangerous,” he said, doing nothing to stop her.

“Yeah, well,” Sylvie said.  “Even if you did get past Thor, Mummy’s got that weird cousin of ours staying with me.”

Loki moaned quietly as Sylvie teased the tip of his cock with her thumb, smearing slick precum over him.

“The one with that fake French accent?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Sylvie said.  “I hate her so much.”

Loki shifted, sliding down against the mattress a bit more comfortably while Sylvie slowly worked him with her hand.  He didn’t know what she’d actually come to him for, and didn’t particularly care.  As she continued to stroke him, she leaned over his body, not quite pressing against him.  Loki let his free hand find its way beneath her shirt, his fingers skating over the hem of her bra before pushing his way under it to take her breast in hand.  With the arm wrapped around her, he pulled her a little closer, wanting so much more than just her hand.

“How do you put this thing down?” Sylvie asked, obviously thinking the same thing he was.

Loki shook his head.  “Darling, I’d love to, but I can’t tonight.  I’d never sit back up.”

It had been months since he’d last tasted her cunt, and he regretted being so impatient the night before.  If he’d taken his time, he would have been able to properly enjoy himself and get lost in her body.  Now, he lay on his back, barely able to move while she jerked him off, and it wasn’t good enough.

“I want you in me one way or another,” she said, rolling her hips against his thigh.

Loki didn’t have enough hands to do what he wanted.  Almost reluctantly, he pulled away from her breast and found her jeans, fumbling awkwardly with the zip to pull them open.  They were tight against her body, limiting his access to her as he tried to find his way between her legs.  He began panting, not from her touch, but from his want of her body and his inability to take it.

“Fuck, take these off,” he said, giving up.  He looked to his door again, but figured they had at least enough time for something quick.

Sylvie moved away from him to peel her jeans off, but instead of settling back beside him, she tried to straddle his hips.  He had to shift back to the centre of the bed to make room, as she rubbed her body against his, dragging her cunt over his cock.

“I don’t have any condoms in here,” he said, looking at his cock nestled against her.

“I’m on the pill,” she said.

She pulled his pyjamas out of the way and sunk onto him, and without the barrier between them, Loki nearly shouted.  She so rarely fucked him without a condom, and he knew she was desperate if she was so quick to ride him.  Loki let his hands fall to her hips, feeling the way her muscles flexed and tensed as she rocked slowly against him.  She bent down to kiss him as he dragged his hands over her body, beneath her shirt and back to her breasts.

“You fit inside me so good,” Sylvie said, grinding against him with his cock buried as deep as it would go.

She kissed him again, tangling her hands in his hair behind his neck.  “Nobody’s ever been as good as you.”

Loki moaned against her, trying to taste her words on his tongue.

“It’s been so long since you made me scream,” she said.  “I love it when you hold me down.  When you fuck me so hard it hurts.”

“I want to,” Loki said, rocking into her as she rode him.  “I want to so bad.”

She planted her hands on his shoulders and pulled against him, arching hard against him as she muffled small groans against his mouth.  He wanted to hear her call out his name and to god all in one breath, but they had to be quiet and careful.  At any moment, someone could wander in and hear them, even over the music that played from the TV.

“I love it when we don’t have to hide,” Sylvie said.  “When we can be as loud as we want.  I want you to scream for me.  Tell me you love me.”

Loki panted against her, wrapping his arms around her back to hold her tight.  “I love you,” he said.  “No one else.”

He could hear her voice starting to hitch, and her breathing coming faster and more shallow as she rode him, keeping him deep inside while she rutted against him.

 “Oh, you’re so perfect,” she said.  “So perfect.  So good.  Just for me.”

She began to move faster and faster, shifting her grip tighter around his shoulders while she threw her entire body into him.

“Yeah,” she said, panting against his ear.  “Oh, there.  There.”

With one more high whimper, she arched hard against him and went still, panting heavily.  Her breath was on on his skin, and even as she tried to calm herself, Loki wanted more.  He wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her tight to guide her where he wanted, imploring her to move not against him, but to slowly bounce along his length.  He rutted into her in time with how she moved against him, wanting to say all the same things she said to him, but he never seemed able to do more than whine pathetically as he slowly reached climax.  When he came, he held her tight against him, letting himself spill inside her.  She held tightly against him as well as they both slowly regained their breath and their wits.  Finally, she rolled off of him and quickly shimmied back into her jeans. 

“Why’d you do that,” she said with a grimace.

Loki watched her, tilting his head and trying to see if he could spot his cum spilling out of her.  But she was too fast in getting dressed again.

“You said you’re on the pill,” he said.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean you can be an idiot about it,” Sylvie said.  “Don’t do it again.”

Loki shifted, suddenly feeling very small.  “Sorry.  Fuck.  I thought that’s what you wanted.”

Loki expected her to leave, but instead she cosied back up next to him beneath the blankets and picked up the remote.

“Do you mind?” she asked, looking over her shoulder at him.

Still somewhat dizzy and confused from all of it, Loki shook his head.  He resettled his pyjamas and reached around Sylvie for his iPad, letting her find something to watch while he went back to his book.  Occasionally, his hand would drift over her body, feeling her curves, and her flesh beneath her shirt, content for the moment to just be in her company.  He missed these moments especially, where the two of them simply existed together, but they came so few and far between with her living hours away in the city.  He groped and fondled her breast, squeezing her flesh lazily and getting half hard from it, but he hadn’t the energy to do anything about it.  He vaguely thought about trying to get a blow job, but he knew after his stunt, Sylvie wouldn’t do any such thing, so he never asked.  Eventually, he let his hand fall to her thigh instead, resting just between her legs beneath the blanket.  Loki didn’t realise how much time had passed until his door opened suddenly, and Thor stopped halfway through stepping in.  He stood in the doorway, looking at Sylvie and Loki snuggled up on his tiny bed together, while they both looked up at him.  Rather than move and draw attention to himself, Loki kept his hand right where it was, feeling Sylvie tense beneath his touch.

“Angela’s right.  Twins are fucking weird,” he said, shaking his head and stepping in.

He had his bag with him, and dropped it on the floor beside the bed before sitting in Loki’s recliner and kicking off his shoes.

“Did Angela go home?” Sylvie asked.

Thor shook his head.  “No, she came back.  Didn’t want to drive all the way home and back all over again a third time.  Mum’s trying to find a bed for her now.”

“I’m gonna burn the house down,” Loki said, returning his attention to his book.  “That’ll fix everything.”

“Loki,” Thor said, sighing in frustration.  “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Loki shrugged, pretending to be deeply engrossed in his book.  “You all went bowling without me.  It’s the least you deserve.”

“Last time you came with, you got so drunk you fell asleep in the men’s room,” Thor said.  “That’s why nobody takes you anywhere.”

Sylvie laughed quietly as she shuffled off the bed, struggling to get away from it.  In the dim light, Loki could see her cringe uncomfortably, just for a flash, before she handed him his remote back.

“I’ll let you boys have your slumber party,” she said, wrinkling her nose at the pair of them as she left.  “I’m gonna go get cosy with Cousin It.”

As she closed the door behind her, Loki switched off of the garbage she’d been watching, and returned the TV to his music.

“You two sure seemed cosy back here,” Thor said.  “Maybe I should go stay with Cousin It and let you two spend the night.”

Loki finally looked up at Thor, staring tiredly at him for a long moment.  As much as he would have wanted that, to spend all night with Sylvie in his bed, they both knew not to even dare suggest it as a possibility.

“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.

Thor shrugged.  “I dunno,” he said.  “I thought eventually twins were supposed to detach from the hip.”

“God forbid I have one sibling I actually fucking like,” Loki said, looking back at his iPad.

Thor snorted.  “She did say she felt bad about abandoning you.”

“At least someone did,” Loki said.  “You never do anything with me anymore.”

Thor shrugged and picked at his jeans.  “How’s your back?” he asked after a moment.

Loki shrugged.  “Hurts like hell.”

“Take one of your pills,” Thor said.  “That’s what they’re for.”

Loki considered it.  He thought for a long moment about sitting up and taking the bottle from the table.

“No.”  Loki shook his head and sighed.  “I get weird dreams if I take it before bed, and the Naproxen doesn’t do shit when it’s this bad.”

Thor hummed and picked at his jeans some more.  “What do you usually do, then?” he asked.

Loki watched him for a long moment.  “Before January?”  He shrugged again and frowned.  “Went out back and smoked a joint.  These days I wait around until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer and pass out from exhaustion.”

He could see Thor mulling something over for a moment, before getting up.  “Get up,” he said.

Before Loki could even start the process of escaping from bed, Thor left the room, striding off through the house.  Not sure what Thor was up to, Loki locked his iPad and set it aside as he tried to find his feet and put his slippers back on.  He was just barely standing before Thor returned, gesturing across the room to the other door.  Then, he held up one of the pre-rolled joints Angela liked to buy, and everything made sense.  Loki slowly made his way across the room while Thor struggled with the door, finally sliding it open and stepping out into the cool breeze.  Watching him and offering no help whatsoever, Loki turned up the volume on the TV and grabbed his lighter from the dresser.  Loki zipped up his hoodie just a little more tightly and followed him out onto the deck and slowly sat in the closest chair.  As Thor got settled in the other one, Loki handed over his lighter and let Thor spark up first since he’d gone and wrestled it from Angela.

“That bitch charged me twenty bucks for this,” Thor said.  He took a small puff and handed it over.

Loki laughed.  “Should have told her it was for me,” he said.

Thor exhaled the smoke and tried to waft it away from his face.  “I did.  That got it down from thirty.”

Loki took a long puff as he watched the wind blow through the privacy hedge blocking his deck from the beach.  Beyond, he could just hear the roar of the waves on the surf, and found himself wondering what had possessed anyone to go back down to the beach after dinner.  His deck wasn’t completely private, but rather existed as an alcove off the main lower deck, nestled between Sylvie’s room and the stairs leading to the upper deck.  With walls on two sides, stairs on the third, and the hedges in front, most of the wind coming off the ocean was blocked.  But the breeze that did make it through was sharp and cool, and brought part of the ocean with it.  As he exhaled his smoke, Loki passed the joint back, but Thor shook his head.  Shrugging, Loki held onto it and looked out over the hedges to the dark sky above.

“Did you know we almost moved back to Reykjavík when we were in high school?” he asked, looking vaguely in Thor’s direction.

Thor shook his head.  “No.  Who told you that?” he asked.

Loki took another hit, holding it in his lungs for a long moment.  “Roger,” he said as he exhaled.  “He made it sound like we were broke.”

Thor shook his head again, frowning.  “No, I never heard anything like that,” he said.

Loki hummed, and looked back out at the sky.

“Me neither,” he said.

His thoughts drifted back to Roger’s evasive lack of a response when Loki had asked why they’d stayed in New York.  How the timing seemed too perfect for the reason to have been anything other than Loki.  He took another puff of the joint, and watched the smoke swirl away in the breeze.  As he shifted in his seat, trying to stretch his shoulders enough to make his back pop again, his thoughts drifted back to months spent in bed, staring at the glitter and glow in the dark stars on his ceiling with nothing else to do.  How Thor would keep him company while he did his classwork, and then play video games all evening.  About the looks Sylvie gave him when it was just the two of them, hours after everyone else had gone to sleep.  He thought about that a lot, especially since the wreck.

“Keep a secret?” he asked.

“That’s a dangerous question,” Thor said.

Loki took a deep breath and leaned back in his seat, letting his leg stretch out in front of him.  He could feel it pulling in a different spot on his back, and by now he thought he could draw an accurate diagram of every muscle from his shoulders to his hips off of feel alone.

“I knew the guy,” he said, certain he was going to come to regret it.

They were silent for a long moment.  “What guy?” Thor asked finally.

“One who ran me over,” Loki said, looking straight ahead so he didn’t have to look at Thor.  “I owed him money.  Not even that much.  About a thousand bucks.  I just didn’t want to pay him.”

Thor sat forward, craning to look Loki in the eye, when Loki refused to even look in Thor’s direction.

“What the hell?” Thor asked.  “Why didn’t you tell anybody?  I thought it was some tourist.”

“I never said that,” Loki said.  “Not once.  Other people did, and I just never corrected it.  We went to school with him.  He was in his first year at Yale.”

Thor look out toward the sound of the beach again, his jaw set hard.  Then, slowly, he shook his head.

“You should have told someone.  Why didn’t you?” Thor asked.  “Jesus, you really knew that guy?”

Loki shrugged.  He took another hit off the joint, still staring out at the dark sky. 

“I was into some shit I didn’t want Dad to know about,” he said.  “The deal was he was going to pay for it up front, and I’d pay him back each month over the summer so it just looked like normal activity on my card.”

“Loki,” Thor said.  He sat back in his seat and made an exasperated little noise.  “You are the only man I know who is the cause of every single one of his own problems.”

It wasn’t funny, but Loki laughed as he re-lit the joint.  He took another puff, and this time when he offered it over, Thor took it.

“Yeah, well.”  Loki shrugged, not sure what to say.

“For eight years,” Thor said.  He took a long hit off it, and stared at it as he slowly exhaled.  “You haven’t told anyone this?”

He handed the joint back, and as Loki took it, he shook his head.  “Sylvie knows,” he said, taking another puff before he could say anything else.  “She’s the only person who does.”

“Fucking hell,” Thor said quietly.  “You are an absolute nightmare.”

Loki coughed off a puff that hit too hot, trying not to make too much noise about it.  “I’m serious,” he said, his voice harsh.  “Tell no one.”

Thor sighed.  “I won’t tell,” he said.  “But I still think you’re an idiot.”

“I never denied that either,” Loki said.

He wasn’t sure why he’d told Thor even that much, but he felt like he needed someone in his corner more than ever.  Especially if Odin was serious about kicking him out.

“Bigger idiot than you realise, too,” he said.  He took another hit, and passed it back.  “Nobody wants to date a guy who winds up in traction after going down in bed.”

Thor groaned and shook his head.  “Don’t put that image in my brain, you asshole.”  He looked at the joint, but let it go out in his fingers as he sat back and looked at the sky as well.  “That why you and that librarian broke up?”

“Zelma?” Loki asked.  He snorted and shook his head.  “No, she accused me of cheating, and then called me a liar about it.  Once those accusations start flying around, the relationship is over.”

“Did you?” Thor asked.  He looked at the joint and handed it back.

“I never fucking leave the house,” Loki said.  He relit the joint and took another hit.  “The only women I ever see are the housekeeper and Dad’s eight hundred year old secretary.”

Thor shrugged and hummed.  “I wouldn’t put either past you, honestly,” he said.  “You always were a desperate little rat man.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Loki said. 

He finished off the joint and held the cardboard tip in his fingers, spinning it around lazily.  Then, he flicked it off into the breeze, watching as it disappeared into the darkness.

“Well, you might want to find someone who will put up with your bullshit soon,” Thor said.  “I heard Mum and Dad talking about you again.”

Loki looked over at him, already not liking wherever he was going.  “Tell me more,” he said.

“She’s not going to let Dad kick you out.  Or put you in rehab,” Thor said.   “Not until she convinces you to move in with this woman she wants to set you up with.”

Loki groaned loudly.  “No,” he said.  “God, every woman she throws at me is some psychotic horse girl or baby crazy.  Or both.”

Thor laughed and shrugged.  “Because Kid Racer’s such a catch.”

Loki shrugged back, throwing as much of himself into it as he could without hurting himself.  “I’ve had one wreck ever,” he said.  “How many people have you rear ended?”

“I don’t know,” Thor said.  “But I’ve never catapulted off the road, either.”

“I hate you,” Loki said.  He hauled himself to his feet, grimacing at the pull in his back as he tried to get out of the low chair.  “Hope you freeze out here.  And I’m not meeting any of Mum’s psychotic blind dates, either.”

Thor did not freeze.  He got up and to the door before Loki could lock him out, and somehow managed to shove past without causing too much damage.  Loki locked it back up and kicked the bar back into place before letting the curtains fall shut again.  He shed his hoodie on the way back to bed, watching as Thor looked around the small room.  Loki had no idea why Thor had volunteered, because the room was barely big enough for Loki and all his things as it was.  Another body trying to find place for the night was a very tall order, even when the other body wasn’t as tall as Thor.

“I didn’t think this through,” Thor said.

Loki shook his head.  “Nope,” he said as he got back into bed.  “Sleep on the chair.  It’s comfortable.”

Thor looked at it and groaned.  “I can’t sleep sitting up like that,” he said.

“It reclines.”  Loki fussed with his pillows and his blanket, ready to go straight to sleep while he could feel the joint doing its thing.

“Not all the way,” Thor said.

Sighing, Loki threw one of his pillows at Thor, hoping he’d figure it out for himself.  Eventually Thor gave up trying to find a spot on the floor and trudged over to the recliner.  He shuffled about, taking off his jeans and changing into a pair of basketball shorts, before settling down and situating the chair as comfortably as he could manage.

“How late are you staying up?” he asked, trying to cover himself with the small blanket he’d brought with.

Loki grumbled, wishing Thor would shut up already.  “What do you mean?” he asked.

Thor pointed at the LED strip around the edges of the room.  “Your lights,” he said.  “How long are they going to stay on?”

“Forever,” Loki said.

“Loki, turn it off,” Thor said.

“No.” Loki wanted to throw something, but there was nothing that could be thrown without breaking.  “They turn off at eight.  Don’t fuck with it.”

“What do you mean, eight?” Thor asked.  “It’s after midnight.  Turn it off.”

He wanted to roll onto his side so he didn’t have to look at Thor, but the incline of the bed didn’t allow it.  He watched Thor sigh and have a similar problem with the chair not going completely flat either.

“Eight in the morning,” Loki said, trying to shuffle to face anywhere other than straight at Thor.  “Believe me, you’ll understand around six when the sun starts shining right in your stupid fucking face.”

“At least turn off the TV then,” Thor said.

“Nope,” Loki said.

“Loki.  It’s loud and it’s bright.  Turn it off,” Thor said.

“My room, my rules,” Loki said.  “Go sleep in the bath tub if it’s that awful.”

Thor groaned loudly.  “You’re the worst brother ever.”

Loki didn’t care.  He ignored Thor’s grumbling and closed his eyes, letting the slow music lull him to sleep while the joint did its job and helped nudge him there.

Despite everything, Loki still wasn’t sure if it was right.  But Sylvie didn’t come back to his room after that, and he didn’t go to hers.  Though using his hand wasn’t quite the same either.  He’d jerk off into dirty T-shirts and socks, sometimes several times a night, but it was never as good as it had been with Sylvie.  He tried humping his pillow to see if that was the same, but it was nowhere close.  All it did was get him worked up, but he couldn’t come.  It was too soft and too flat beneath him, and he may as well have been humping his bed for all the difference it made.

Growing frustrated with it all, Loki gave in to the thing he’d been resisting.  He made sure he was dressed, though without underwear his hard on was evident to anyone who might have seen him.  Still, he crept quietly out of his bedroom, checking to see that Thor and Balder’s rooms were all closed and quiet, and let himself into Sylvie’s room.  She was already asleep, and for a moment Loki thought he should turn away.  Instead, he closed the door and slowly got into her bed.

She had implied that she wouldn’t say no, and Loki hoped he had understood her correctly as he settled in behind her.  As he wrapped his arm around her, Sylvie stirred.  She looked back at Loki, clearly startled, and for a moment they stared at one another in silence.

“Loki?” she asked.

“Sorry,” he said, already turning to leave.

She rolled over enough to grab his shirt and stop him.

“Come here, then,” she said, rolling onto her back.

She pulled Loki on top of her, spreading himself so he settled between her legs.  He wasted no time getting on top of her, letting his hands wander over her body.  She wore only panties, and he could feel her bare skin against his sides as she wrapped her legs around him.  He wanted to know what it would be like to be inside her, but he didn’t dare ask.  Climbing on top of her like this already felt like far too much.  Despite that, he rutted against her as he had done before, this time letting his hands find their way beneath her shirt.  He bit his lip as he whimpered desperately against her neck, feeling her body move beneath him as he moved against her.

“You’re so good,” Sylvie said, letting her own hands wander beneath his shirt.  “You feel so good on me.”

Loki wanted to tell her the same.  He tried, but he couldn’t form the words.  All he could do was make needy, wordless sounds that burst from his chest every time he moved against her.  He struggled to keep quiet, knowing that he could give them away if he were heard.  Somehow, that risk both made it more difficult finish, and made him more desperate to do so.  He began to grow light headed as he panted heavily and tried to muffle his voice at the same time.

“Come on,” Sylvie said.  “I know you can.”

She dragged her nails over his back, and Loki barely managed to stop himself from shouting as he finally came into his pyjamas, spilling his sticky mess between them.  He still whimpered quietly and panted as the final waves rocked through him and he went still on top of Sylvie.  He watched her face as he shifted to bring his hand between her legs, feeling the shape of her beneath her panties.  She gently rolled into his touch as he explored, first with that thin barrier between them.  Then, he pushed them aside and dragged his fingers over her slit, and then into it, feeling her make room for him.  He teased her at first, watching as she bit her lip and let her eyes drift closed.  Loki wanted to see what she liked, and watched her face twist and scrunch up as he experimented.  Her jaw fell slack when he pushed his finger inside her, but she made quiet little noises and ached her back into his touch when he rubbed her clit.  When he did both at the same time, her breath hitched and her fingers trembled against him.  He wanted her to feel the way he did when he was on top of her, able to think of nothing else but her body beneath him.  He understood what she’d meant when she said she didn’t need anyone else.  They were quite literally made for one another, and it showed in the way their bodies so perfectly fit together.

Loki wasn’t sure what came over him, but he suddenly wanted to taste the sound on her lips.  Without asking permission, he lowered himself over her body to kiss her, driving his tongue deep into her mouth.  Instead of telling him no, Sylvie kissed him back as she grabbed him by the hair and held him close, her body moving quickly beneath him and against his hand.  She pulled his hair and arched against him, pulling them together as closely as they would fit.  When she came, she moaned into his mouth, sending a thrum straight through him.  Slowly, the two of them stilled, both panting as their bodies remained pressed together, Loki’s hand trapped between them.  He pulled away just enough to watch her face as her eyes fluttered open to look up at him, and he was already so hard again it nearly hurt.  He glanced down to where their bodies pressed together, him on top of her so perfectly, and decided he was going to take a dare.

“I want to try something different,” he said as he pulled his hand away.

Sylvie looked up at him, concerned and curious all at once.

“I want to take off our clothes,” he said.  “I won’t go inside.  But it might feel even better without everything in the way.  More real.”

Sylvie studied him for a long moment, shifting beneath him.  Loki pulled away, sitting back on his heels to see more of her, and not missing the way her eyes fell to his dick, hard and obvious behind his pyjamas.  Then, biting her lip, she stretched her back and held her arms above her head while she once more let her knees fall open.

“I’m not taking everything off,” she said.

Loki nodded.  He was happy with that.  He had felt her through her panties, and knew it would be different without his pants in the way.  Loki quickly shed his pyjamas, and after a moment’s consideration, took off his shirt as well.  As he pulled the blanket over them, as though to hide what they were doing from prying eyes, Sylvie followed his lead and pulled of her own shirt, baring her breasts for him.  He’d never seen them bare before; only felt them through and under her shirt.  Seeing her almost completely naked, even in the dim light, made him stop and stare to drink her body in.  Then, he crawled between her legs again, settling himself right where he knew she liked.  With her bare skin against so much of his, it was a wholly different sensation even before he started.

“I might not last long,” he said as he started rutting into her.

She squeezed her thighs tightly around him, making him slow down.  With Sylvie beneath him, her body bare and exposed, Loki was consumed with another new urge.  He kissed along her neck, half expecting her to shove him off of her.  Instead, she gasped quietly and bucked beneath him.  Then her hand was in his hair again, pulling and guiding him where she wanted.

“There,” she said breathlessly.  “Use your teeth.”

Loki nibbled and sucked on her skin, careful not to leave a mark.  Sylvie writhed and bucked beneath him as he rutted into her, the only thing between them the thin fabric of her panties, already soaked through.  He could feel her shape beneath them, and tried to imagine that he could feel her spreading around his dick as he moved against her.  He pretended he was buried inside her, feeling her body in a way he had never felt anyone else’s before.  Each time he nipped at her neck with his teeth, she arched into him again, squeezing her legs around his waist and holding him right where she wanted.  He squeezed her breast and pinched her nipple, feeling it get hard beneath his fingers as she hissed sharply through her teeth. 

“Don’t stop,” Sylvie said against his ear.  “I wanna cum on your dick.  I know you can do it.”

He rutted against her, pressing himself against her right where he knew she liked it. 

“You’re so good,” she said, arching into him, using her legs to hold him close.  “I’m almost there.”

She moaned quietly, higher and higher into his ear.  Then, Sylvie pulled his hair with a hard tug, and it was all over.  He came suddenly, spilling onto her bare stomach as she arched hard against him and held herself there.  She panted against the side of his neck as they both slowly went limp, Loki letting his entire body rest on top of hers. 

“I wanna fuck you so bad,” Loki said against her neck.  “For real.”

Sylvie dragged her nails over his bare shoulder.

“I know.  But you know we can’t.”

She nudged him, and he rolled off of her, pulling the blanket away so he could see her body.  She lay sprawled on her back beside him, his cum all over her stomach and her panties soaked all the way through.  He had done that to her; made her cum on his fingers and on his dick.  Nobody had ever even wanted to date him before, and Sylvie had given so much of herself to him already.  Even if he couldn’t fuck her properly, he’d already had her body in more ways than he’d ever imagined possible.  He knew what they were doing was wrong, and that was why he couldn’t fuck her.  Before, he could at least convince himself that what they were doing wasn’t sex.  That was before he’d figured out exactly how Sylvie liked her cunt to be touched, and he’d got completely naked before getting on top of her.  That was before he came all over her bare stomach and tasted her skin.  Before he’d snuck into her bedroom while she slept, and not been turned away.

He watched Sylvie as she reached for her shirt to clean off her stomach, tossing it aside.  Taking her lead, Loki picked up his own and pulled it back on, acutely aware that they were both naked together in her bed.  At least there was some deniability with their clothes on; if anyone walked in on them now, it was abundantly clear what they’d been doing.

“Do you want me to stay?” Loki asked as he looked at the cum smeared along the hem of his shirt.  He didn’t know when it had got there, but there was no question about what it was.

Sylvie looked up at him, then at the door, and shook her head.

“No, you should go back to your room,” she said.

Nodding, Loki pulled his pyjamas back on and stood, understanding perfectly well why she wanted him out; that there was no earthly way to explain his presence in her bed so late at night.

« || »

Ours to Keep #3

Loki watched as Balder and Hoder built a sand castle by the surf, with Vidar’s occasional version of help coming in from the sidelines.  They’d just get a tower built and balanced, and Vidar would run in and kick it over, sending the pair of them into a barely controlled rage each time.  Eventually, Thor got up to go run interference, distracting Vidar and blocking his path while the other two finished their castle.

“Go knock it over,” Loki said as he leaned close to Sylvie.

Sylvie twisted to look up at him.  “No,” she said.  “Don’t be such a brat.”

She reached up and scraped her nails over his check, catching the stubble there and pulling it sharply.

“You didn’t shave this morning,” she said.

Loki jerked his head away before she could pull something too hard.  “I didn’t even shower this morning.  I’m disgusting,” he said.

“Oh my god.  If you guys are going to keep being like that,” Angela said, getting to her feet.

She spent just a few moments dusting the sand from her thighs before striding with great purpose down to the activities by the water.  She stood by for a few moments, letting them get distracted by Thor and Vidar, before kicking all of their progress over.

“Angela, you bitch!” Balder shouted, throwing a handful of damp sand at her.

She ran away cackling, while Vidar slipped in to finish the job and knocked the rest over.  Neither Hoder nor Balder could figure out who to direct their anger toward, and soon the five of them scattered along the waves. 

Loki was soon distracted from the chaos by the sound of footsteps through the sand, and a low chuckle.  He looked over to see Roger ambling over to join them, sitting in what had been Thor’s spot beneath the parasol.

“There’s a fight, and you’re sitting over here?” he asked, getting immediately into the cooler for a beer.

Loki shrugged.  “I’d have started it if I could,” he said.

Roger looked him over, and as ever whatever mildly disapproving emotion he was trying to convey was undercut by his wild ginger hair, and his matching red, freckled face.  Loki thought he always looked slightly drunk, making him near impossible to take seriously.

“What did you do this time?” Roger asked finally.

“Nothing.  And that’s the problem,” Loki said.  “At least if I’d fallen over, Dad might have seen it with his one, half-blind eye and wouldn’t be such a hardass about it.”

Roger shook his head and cracked his beer open. 

“Who are those guys Dad’s talking to?” he asked, nodding over to where their parents sat on loungers with a few of the others.

“Uncles,” Loki said, turning as well as he could to look over the property.  “Some ours, some Dad’s.  A couple I don’t think we’ve ever even met before.  There were a few more cousins around earlier, but I think they fucked off into town.”

“Loki thinks they’re only here for the money,” Sylvie said.

“Yeah?” Roger asked, watching the other group.  “I’d bet he’s right, too.”

Sylvie snorted.  “You’re all so trusting,” she said.

“Nah, there’s something wrong,” Roger said.  He took a drink of his beer and pointed at the two of them.  “Remember when Uncle Freyr died?  Nobody stuck around after the funeral, because you don’t need to be present at the reading.  Not unless you’re planning to object to something.”

Loki looked over at the group as well, letting himself fall into a deep well of suspicion.

“They only spoke English around you, didn’t they?” he asked suddenly.

“Yeah,” Roger said.  “Never learned a word.  Why?”

Loki frowned and chewed on his thumbnail.  “At least one of them is broke,” he said.  “Something about the banks, but I’ve forgotten how to read.  I want someone to translate all the dirt I dug up.  There’s a lot I’m not too certain I read right.”

“Tyr gets here tonight.  Ask him.  I’m pretty sure he can still read,” Sylvie said.

“I don’t want to ask him,” Loki said.  “He’s a jerk.”

“Hang on,” Sylvie said, turning back to Roger.  “Go back a bit.  What do you mean by ‘planning to object’?”

“Wills aren’t necessarily binding,” Roger said.  “Nobody fought over Uncle Freyr’s will, because there wasn’t much to fight over.  But on paper, Granddad had a lot of money.  And a lot of family to fight over it.  All it takes is one person to think they didn’t get what they were owed, and they can claim that he wasn’t of sound mind when he had everything recorded.”

Loki thought about it for a moment, turning it all over in his head and comparing it against what he’d seen and read for himself.  It made sense, even with his second-hand knowledge of the whole damn crisis.

“I bet he was broke too,” he said suddenly.  “Gran’s been weird and cagey ever since he died.”

“Half this family’s going to die in debt,” Roger said with a shrug.  “When’d they come over?” he asked.

Loki shook his head and shrugged.  “Seven, eight years ago?” he said.  He looked down at Sylvie.  “We were in high school, weren’t we?”

He watched her mull the question over.  “Yeah, it was right after your thing,” she said, wiggling her fingers at him.  “Because I remember Mummy and Gran getting into a bunch of arguments about you staying in bed all day.”

“God, I’d forgotten,” Loki said, laughing bitterly.  “And nothing’s changed.”

He hadn’t thought about the arguments in years, but now he could hear the words echoing in his head as clearly as if it had all just happened.  Accusations of him faking his injuries to get out of going to school, and playing everything up for attention.  The same accusations he still got from time to time.

“You don’t really think Granddad was broke, do you?” Sylvie asked.

She looked at Loki for a moment, and then to Roger.

“The timing would be right,” Roger said.  “Those were bad times for everyone.  Dad never wanted to let on how dire things got.  For a while they were talking about trying to sell everything and go back home with whatever was left.”

Loki looked back over to his parents, engaged in some tiresome conversation.  Loki hadn’t known anywhere else.  Not in any way that mattered.  Having to go back to a country he couldn’t even remember would have been devastating to his teenage self.  He wasn’t even a year old when they’d moved across the Atlantic.

“Why didn’t we go back?” Sylvie asked.  “You’d already moved out, but I thought the boys had dual citizenship like the rest of us.”

“Dunno.”  Roger shrugged in a way that made Loki think he knew something he wasn’t willing to say.  “But it’s probably best how things worked out.  Gran and Granddad moving out here was probably cheaper than trying to move a bunch of kids back over there.”

Loki hummed quietly, his head now swimming with more information than he wanted to deal with.  Deep down, he suspected he was the reason they hadn’t moved back; that the logistics of trying to start over in a different country while he was having to learn how to walk all over again would have been a nightmare for everyone.  It had nothing to do with Roger being American, or the kids being born in New York, and somehow he knew it.

“Which is why I think you’re right,” Roger said, pointing to Loki with his beer.  “Graddad probably had nothing left in reality, which is why the vultures flew all the way out here to pick through the bones.  They wouldn’t be worried if they knew they had something coming.”

He got up and brushed the sand from his jeans as he looked toward the house.  Realising he was about to head back, Loki sat up as well as he could and handed his soda off to Sylvie.

“Help me up if you’re going back,” he said.

Sylvie quickly moved out of the way as Roger set his beer on the cooler and stepped close.  Roger didn’t know how to help him up properly, but it was easier for Loki to take whatever help Roger could offer than try to direct him in doing it right.  As Roger took him by both hands and pulled him to his feet, Loki choked back a loud grunt as everything in his back pulled toward his shoulders.  He stood uneasily for a moment, bracing himself against Roger’s shoulder, taking the time to just breath through the pain.  Then, once he finally felt like he could move again, Loki nodded and turned to make the slow trek back to the house.  Roger walked with him, keeping a distance between them just small enough that if he needed, he could reach out and grab Loki.  But he didn’t need to, and together they shuffled along the boardwalk, up and down the many stairs to the house and the showers by the pool.  Loki hadn’t spent much time in the sand, but he still wanted to get as much off his feet and ankles as he could.  Using Roger for balance, he managed to clean himself off beneath the cold water, trying to get as much sand from his sandals as possible.  As he turned off the water, Loki looked over toward his room and realised his mistake.

“Damnit.  I forgot to unlock my door,” he said.

“Fine, stay here,” Roger said, already heading back along the deck.

He was gone only a few moments, giving Loki enough time to shuffle around his private deck to his bedroom.  On the other side of the door, Roger flailed around with the curtains and fussed with the lock before sliding the glass door open.  He held the curtains open while Loki stepped inside and kicked off his sandals, and then began fussing with getting everything closed and locked again.

“Going to bed, or what?” Roger asked.

Loki shook his head as he dropped his hat onto his dresser.  “Taking a bath,” he said.

“Need help?” Roger asked.

Loki considered the question for a moment before again shaking his head.  “No, I should be fine.  I’ll take my phone just in case,” he said.

For just a moment, Roger continued to linger before walking toward the door.  “Don’t you dare drown,” he said as he left Loki alone.

Snorting to himself, Loki pulled a pair of clean pyjamas from the drawer, and traded his phone for his sunglasses before stepping out into the hall.  The bathroom he ostensibly shared with Vidar only had a shower stall, so Loki had taken over Sylvie’s bathroom instead, in her absence.  It wasn’t like she needed it, living in some co-op in Manhattan.

Getting into the bath was a carefully choreographed routine that started with Loki leaning against the far wall with his entire back at a stiff angle so he didn’t have to bend over to reach the tap.  He got the water running, making sure it was a good temperature before giving himself a moment to pause and breathe.  He had to launch himself off of the wall in a single, careful motion, just enough to get him standing upright, but not so much that he needed to correct his balance to keep from falling over.

He let his clothes fall to the floor and left them where they lay, first his shirt, then his shorts.  The benefit of going out to the beach meant he hadn’t had to fuck around with underwear or socks or anything that took any significant amount of effort to put on or take off.  Already knowing he wouldn’t be able to wash his hair properly, Loki pulled open a drawer beneath the sink and grabbed out a hair tie.  He pulled his hair into a high knot and tied it off, hoping to keep it mostly dry so he wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of drying it later, or the chaos that reigned when he didn’t bother.

With the water still running, he stepped into the bath, practised at keeping his back straight even as he lowered himself into the water.  He braced himself on the sides of the bath, using his arms to control himself so he moved slowly and deliberately.  There had been a time when he couldn’t do even that; when he needed help because he’d been too scrawny to support his own weight, and there was a certain bitter irony in knowing that the only reason he was in any kind of shape at all was because he couldn’t bear to have people fussing over him when he felt particularly useless.

He let out a loud groan as he relaxed back into the rising water.  After a few moments of just letting himself relax, Loki picked his phone up from the side of the bath and pulled up a playlist so he wouldn’t be stuck with nothing but his own thoughts ringing through his head.  Even through the tinny speakers on his phone, and having to fight over the sound of running water, it got him out of his own head.  He wished he could control the lights the same way he could in his bedroom, but he only ever seemed to think about it once he was already in the water.  He supposed he could have texted Thor and made him go through the hassle of installing the lights into the figure, but it seemed like an awful lot of hassle to go through when all he wanted to do was relax.

Once the water was deep enough, Loki used his foot to close the tap and dropped further beneath the surface.  He was too tall to comfortably submerge himself fully, and even getting his shoulders beneath the water took a strange amount of effort.  But he was able to get comfortable, and get the hot water where he needed it most.  Settled, and resigned to a night of continued boredom, Loki returned to his social media feeds, endlessly scrolling through the same posts he’d seen that morning.  He scrolled through news feeds and watched a few videos on YouTube, but nothing held his attention for long.  While the warm water did nothing for his back, he found himself drifting closer and closer to falling asleep, at times making sure his phone rested high on his chest so it didn’t accidentally go for a swim.  Several times, he found himself waking up without realising he’d fallen asleep, and each time he sat just a little higher in the water.  Even though he knew he was too tall to slide beneath the water without meaning to, he still didn’t want to test that theory.

He let himself be lazy through multiple battery warnings, and only gave up once his phone powered itself off as he scrolled through another feed.  Only then did he put a token effort into actually bathing, spending a few brief moments scrubbing himself with a rag.  Again using his foot to drain the tub, Loki moved his phone out of the way so he could leverage himself back to his feet.  Once again braced on the sides of the bath, he kept his back as straight as possible and moved to put his feet beneath him so he could stand.  Somehow, stepping out was always a little more harrowing than stepping in, and even though he knew it would kill him if it gave in, Loki used the towel rack beside the bath to balance himself as he stepped onto the rug.  He knew all he needed to do was ask and his father would have something more appropriate installed, but somehow that felt like giving in.  Instead, he gave the towel rack a dirty look, as if to warn it to stay right where it was, and found his balance.

Dressing was a little more difficult than undressing, and his usual way of doing things—quickly escaping to his room to lie naked in bed for 20 minutes first—felt a bit too dangerous with a house full of nosy strangers.  He could dry off his top, but bending to dry anything that mattered was not going to happen without help.  He grabbed his pyjamas and held them in one hand, while he used the other to brace himself against the counter.  Loki was barely able to bend over to pull his pyjamas on, but this too had become a carefully rehearsed routine.  He could bend just enough that if he stepped high enough, he could just about manage to wrangle his way into his pyjamas.  Then, he repeated it with his other leg, and that got him dressed up to his knees.  Somehow, his back seemed even worse now that he was out of the water, and he couldn’t help the little shout that escaped him as he bent to pull his pyjamas up to his waist, fighting against the way the fabric stuck to his wet skin.  He hated everything about it, but there weren’t many other options that wouldn’t humiliate or demean him.

As dressed as he needed to be, Loki fetched up his phone and turned to open the door, surprised to find Roger on the other side, halfway around the corner.

“Everything all right?” Roger asked.

Loki nodded and waved him out of the way.  Small steps were all he could manage as he made his way across the hall to his room.  For a moment, he thought about going back to bed, but even breathing was becoming more and more painful with each passing moment.  He set his phone on his dresser to deal with it later and turned to see Roger still watching him nervously.

“I need you to fix my back,” Loki said.

Roger nodded and stepped into his room, wearing a look of bewildered cluelessness.  Loki knew he’d have to guide Roger through the process, but he was there already, and better than nothing.  Loki turned to lean forward against the wall and gestured weakly over his shoulder to himself. 

“Right in the middle,” he said, trying to point with his thumb.  “Lean into it.”

Roger hesitated for a moment before stepping close to Loki, pressing his hand against Loki’s spine.  Loki hissed at the touch, annoyed that it made Roger back away slightly.

“Down,” he said.

Roger moved his hand, hitting a spot that made Loki want to shout.

“Yeah.  There,” he said, holding his breath, because if he let himself breathe properly he might shout and scare Roger off completely. 

He reached over his shoulder, gripping around until he found Roger’s other arm.  Directing him, Loki moved Roger’s arm to wrap around his chest over his shoulders and held it there tightly.  He situated himself, getting ready for things to get a whole lot worse before the got better.

“All right, go,” he said, holding his breath as he tried to arch his back against Roger’s hand.

After a moment, Roger caught on to his role.  He pressed his hand harder against Loki’s back, but not hard enough.  Loki shouted loudly as he tried to do the work himself, but Roger quickly let go of him and stepped back.

“Sorry,” Roger said.

Now everything was worse and Loki could barely breathe at all.  He leaned back against the wall, eyes screwed tightly shut, and tried to force air into his lungs.

“Go find Thor,” he said.

Thor knew how to do it, and Loki knew he should have called for him in the first place.  He waited for Roger to go searching the property, and after what felt like a year, the two of them finally rushed into Loki’s bedroom.

“Ah, Loki.  What the hell?” Thor asked, stepping close.

“I can’t breathe,” Loki said, still having to force it.

Thor stood behind Loki and dragged his hand slowly along Loki’s spine.  Each moment was agony, and again Loki held his breath to keep silent.

“Jesus, you need to have someone look at this,” Thor said, stopping on the tight knot right in the middle of Loki’s back.

“Don’t care.  Just do it,” Loki said breathlessly.

He braced himself as Thor shifted behind him, pressing his elbow against Loki’s back, and snaking his other hand around to hold his chest.  Loki held on tightly to Thor’s arm, knowing he’d need something to brace himself with.  Thor didn’t need to be told what to do, and he knew not to stop.  Pressing forward with his elbow, and pulling Loki’s shoulders back, he kept going even as Loki lost his wits and let himself scream.  Finally, something popped so hard he saw white, and then he could breathe again.  He let himself fall limp in Thor’s grasp, his breath ragged and harsh.  As the shock rocked through his entire body, Loki felt his knees begin to tremble and go weak.

“Legs are gonna quit,” he said, holding onto Thor’s arm, still around his chest.

Thor gripped him just a little more tightly as well.  “Where?” he asked.

Loki took a moment to think, because his answer would shape the rest of his evening.

“Chair,” he said quickly.

Thor helped him move the short distance to his chair, getting him settled and raising the footrest while Loki panted through the pain that still radiated from his back.  He stared up at the ceiling, letting himself sit limp and slack while Thor did exactly what Loki had wanted to avoid.  Thor found a hoodie in the closet and dropped it into Loki’s lap, and then grabbed his slippers from beside the bed and put them on Loki’s feet.

“He always scream like that?” Roger asked.

Thor nodded as he stood, but said nothing.  The three of them fell into an uncomfortable silence while Roger turned to look down the hall to the empty foyer.

“How many of those horse pills are you allowed to have?” he asked, turning to tap Loki on the shoulder.

Loki shook his head, still staring at the ceiling.  “Dad lets me have one, and I already took it.”

“I don’t give a fuck what Dad says.  How many?” Roger asked.

It wasn’t a battle Loki was in the mood to fight, so he shook his head again.

“Every few hours, I think,” Thor said.

Thor and Roger stared silently at one another for a moment, before Roger turned and left the room once again.  With him gone, Thor stepped closer to Loki, picking up the hoodie from his lap.

“Sit up,” Thor said.  “Let’s get this on.”

There was no longer any point in trying to hold onto his pride.  Loki let Thor help him finish getting dressed, carefully moving the hoodie around so Loki didn’t have to twist into it, though he drew the line at letting Thor do everything for him and closed the zipper himself once he was settled again.  By then, several stomping pairs of footsteps down the stairs, accompanied by arguing heralded Roger’s return from the chaos that was the upper floor.

“I don’t care.  It ends now,” Roger said, striding down the hall, with Frigga close at his heels.

“That is not your decision to make,” Frigga said.

The two of them walked into Loki’s room, making it feel even smaller and more cramped than it already was.

“It’s not yours either,” Roger said.  “Not unless you’re also his doctor.”

He handed Loki an orange pill bottle, standing in the way so it couldn’t be taken away from him again.  Still feeling slow and a bit stupid from so much pain and exhaustion, it took Loki a few moments to realise which pill bottle he had been handed.  Letting his eyebrows raise with a question he didn’t dare ask, Loki took a deep breath and opened the bottle.  He just managed to fish one of the tablets out as Odin began making his way down the hall to join the chaos, and by then Loki was done trying to play this game.  He grabbed what was left of his water from earlier in the morning and swallowed the pill, not caring who saw or what happened.

“What is going on down here?” Frigga asked, shaking her head at the whole scene before her.

“What’s going on is he’s been suffering all day,” Roger said.  “Christ, he’s just a kid.  He shouldn’t be this bad.”

He turned to face Odin, still blocking the way into Loki’s room.  Loki watched silently as Thor stepped over to join Roger, carefully nudging Frigga back into the hall as well.

“We’ll deal with this later,” Thor said.

“You choose now to do this?” Odin said.  “With everyone here?”

“I didn’t choose to do a damn thing,” Loki said, setting his pills and empty water bottle aside.  “You’re the ones making a scene.  I was down here.”

“I will not have you on drugs under this roof,” Odin said, stepping forward.

“Yes you will.  He’s in pain.  Leave him alone,” Roger said, holding his hands out to keep everyone right where they stood.  “You can send him to rehab, or kick him out, or do whatever you want on Tuesday.  Nothing’s going to change before then.”

Loki watched as his father’s face turned red, and wished he had the energy to get that angry. 

“But things will change,” Odin said.

Roger took a step forward, ushering Odin and Frigga further into the hall.  With Roger out of the way, Thor reached out to close the door, leaving him and Loki alone while the argument continued on the other side.  Sighing, Thor sat down on the bed, glaring at the incomprehensible way Loki had left it.  Despite everything, Loki laughed and pointed to his phone on the dresser.

“I use my phone, but it’s dead,” he said.

“I swear you do this on purpose,” Thor said.

He got up and grabbed Loki’s phone to plug it in, before sitting back down on the bed.  Rather than fighting against the ridiculous angle Loki had left it at, he leaned against the incline with his back to Loki.

“Are you staying down here for dinner?” he asked.

Loki considered it, still not sure if he’d even be able to stand properly.

“Ask me again when it’s time to go up,” he said.

He lifted one of his feet, paying careful attention to the subtle pull in his back.  He could feel tension radiating out from that one spot, right in the middle against his spine where everything always seemed to start.

“They can’t really make me go to rehab, can they?” he asked.

Thor shrugged.  “Maybe if Judge Whatsit gets involve,” he said.

Loki groaned and leaned back in his seat, staring up at the ceiling again.  “Maybe if he didn’t have me working all day, driving all over the damn state, I wouldn’t need help staying awake in the first place.”

“Most people use caffeine to stay awake,” Thor said.  “You should try it.”

“And then pull over twenty times a day to take a piss,” Loki said.  “With him riding my ass, because I’m not back at the office yet.”

He sighed and looked over to Thor, wishing for nothing more than to be able to just get up and leave.

“What are we even doing here?” he asked.  “Any of us.  Why did they want everyone here?  This isn’t a funeral.  This could have been done over a video conference.”

“Who knows?” Thor said.  “I think Tyr figured out it’s all bullshit too.  He came alone.”

“Oh, that’s good,” Loki said, sighing tiredly.  “I was worried we’d have more kids to shove into cupboards overnight.”

Thor snorted.  “Do you remember that nurse I was seeing?” he asked.

Loki wasn’t sure if he did.  “The angry one?” he asked.

“Yeah, her,” Thor said, laughing.  “We almost broke up over this stupid house.  The same night I brought her round for dinner the first time.”

“Wait, what?” Loki asked, trying to remember what had happened. 

He could recall Thor bringing some slight little brunette home to meet their parents, but he didn’t remember any near breakups.

“I complained that the house was too small,” Thor said.  “All seven bedrooms of it.  I think it was only you and Vidar who were here that night, and she thought it was just the four of us.”

Loki joined Thor in his laughter.  “Could you imagine?” he asked.  “What it might have been like to have grown up almost normal, and not like a bunch of Catholic rabbits.”

“Don’t say that,” Thor said.  “They might hear you and have another one.”

The horrible part was Thor was right.  After Laussa, Loki still didn’t trust either of their parents to have figured out how a condom worked.

“If I get even whiff of grandchild pressure off of either of them, I’m moving back to Reykjavík,” Loki said.

“You won’t even move into town,” Thor said, laughing as he sat up.  “You wouldn’t last two weeks in another country.”

Loki shrugged.  “At least I can still speak the language.  Two weeks is longer than you’d last.”

He sighed and reached for his phone, remembering a moment too late that it was charging by the bed.  With a shrug, he sat back into his seat.

“What time is it?” he asked.

Grunting to sit back up, Thor picked up Loki’s phone and lit up the screen.  “About quarter to six,” he said.

Thor hadn’t asked him yet, but there was still an unanswered question hanging in the air.  He could either hide in his room all night again and be chastised for it in the morning, or go get it over with and endure several hours of ridicule in the name of pretending to be social.  Either way, Loki came out the loser.  Sighing, he lowered the footrest on his chair and tried to sit up. 

“Let’s see if I can make it up the stairs,” he said.

Thor started to get up, but Loki held up his hand to signal that he wanted to at least try to manage for himself first.  He hated the dependence more than he hated the pain.  And he hated that Roger was right.  He was too young to be feeling like this.  Grunting and groaning even as the Vicodin did its damnedest to keep everything dulled, Loki managed to get to his feet and find his balance.  He thought about grabbing his phone, but it would still be half dead, so he left it and turned toward the door.  With Thor close at his side, he made it down the hall, and to the stairs, pausing at the landing to look up at the obstacle ahead.  With the fresh painkillers in his system, he was able to get up one step at a time.  Thor stayed close behind him, keeping his hand on Loki’s back to help steady him.  Rather than going to the table once they reached the top, Loki instead turned right and walked over to the open sitting room, separated from the dining room only by two large pillars.  Sylvie and Angela were on one of the sofas together, and both made room so Loki could join them.  Once he was settled, Sylvie cosied up next to him, leaning against his chest as she tucked her feet beneath her.

“Feeling better?” she asked.

Loki shook his head.  “Not really,” he said.

He could hear Njord and some of the older adults chattering on, not even trying to be subtle about who the source of their jeering was.  Even his grandmother joined in, giving her opinions on his state of dress and his messy hair.  None of them spoke English as they nattered on, no doubt assuming Loki couldn’t understand them.  He let them maintain their fantasy and ignore them, turning his attention instead to Thor as he sat on the opposite sofa next to Tyr and Roger.  Tyr wasn’t paying attention to anything in the sitting room either, instead keeping his attention on the table and everyone sat around it.

“Are you staying for dinner?” Loki asked, turning to Angela.

She shrugged.  “Might as well.  Not staying the night though.”

“Good,” Loki said with a snort.  “There’s no room for you.”

His words seemed to catch Frigga’s attention, and as soon as he said them, she stood from the table and walked over to the sitting room.  Loki pretended he hadn’t noticed, even as she stepped up close.

“Speaking of room,” Frigga said.  She looked over the lot of them, pausing as she worked something through her mind.  “Loki, you need to bunk up tonight.  Sylvie, you too.”

Sylvie sat up quickly, and for a moment Loki thought her indignation was put on.  “Mummy, I’m not sharing my bed with anyone,” she said.

Loki laughed, shaking his head.  “My bed’s a twin.  I can’t share with anyone.  At least yours is big enough to share.”

He could see Frigga already getting exasperated, and as much as he didn’t want to push and make himself any more of a target, he couldn’t bunk up with anyone if he wanted to.

“Then one of the kids will have to sleep on the floor,” Frigga said, shaking her head.

Forgetting all about his back for a moment, Loki tried to sit up, and immediately regretted it.

“No,” he said, ignoring the pulling ache behind his ribs.  “Not happening.  I cannot have kids in my room.  I’ve got too many sensitive documents in there that they can fuck with.”

“Loki,” Frigga said.  “I’d like it if you could just once behave like an adult.”

“They call that porn, don’t they?” someone shouted from the table.  “All those ‘sensitive documents’.”

Loki glared over at the table, having no idea who said it.  “I don’t recall asking anyone’s fucking opinion,” he said.

“Loki!” Frigga shouted.

Loki turned his glare to Frigga, wishing more than ever that he could get up and storm out.  But he couldn’t do any storming anywhere when he could barely get to his feet without help.

“Mum,” Thor said quickly.  “I’ll sleep on the floor.  It’s fine.”

He looked over at Loki, but it didn’t help.  Loki didn’t want anyone in his room.

“Loki?” Thor asked.  “Can you live with that?”

With a deep breath, Loki shook his head and shrugged.  “Fine.  Whatever,” he said.

It wasn’t entirely about the documents, although it was a real concern.  He wasn’t sure what his plans were once everyone had gone to bed, given his current state, but with someone sharing his room he wouldn’t be going anywhere or doing anything at all.

“Sylvie, can you be grown up about this?” Frigga asked.

Mirroring Loki and throwing her hands up into the air, she slouched back into the sofa.  “Fine,” she said.  “Whatever.”

“Thank you,” Frigga said stiffly. 

Loki watched as she retreated back to the dinner table with everyone else, hating every one of them for their quiet laughter and muttered insults.

“Odin, when was the last time you tossed his room?” Njord asked, looking straight at Loki as he spoke, clearly thinking that Loki couldn’t understand him.  “I bet he’s worried about the kids getting into his dope stash.”

Loki looked straight at Tyr, knowing he was the only other person on their side of the room who understood.  He hoped Tyr might try to talk him down, but he only stared back in unveiled shock.

“Didn’t you serve nine months in prison?” Loki asked, loudly enough for everyone to hear.

The entire crowd went silent as everyone looked at him.  Loki wasn’t even certain that he’d read that bit correctly, but now he knew he had at least got close enough to strike a nerve.

“It was suspended,” Njord said slowly.

Loki shrugged, and looked around at everyone.  The mix of shock and confusion told him exactly who understood what was said, and who would be asking for translations later.

“I got a two thousand dollar fine,” Loki said, making sure every person in the room understood what was said next.  “What was yours?”

Njord didn’t answer.  He glared across the room at Loki, fist clenched tightly against the table.

“A hundred and fifty million or something, wasn’t it?” Loki asked.  “I don’t read very well, but numbers are the same.  Was that in Króna, or converted?”

He looked over to Tyr, pretending to be deeply concerned about the entire thing.

“What would that be converted?” he asked, before turning back to Njord.

The room stayed silent as the two of them stared one another down.  Loki was certain he was about to have a very bad night, but as the seconds dragged on, and nothing happened, he let himself relax bit by bit.

“That’s what I thought,” he said.  “Mind your own business, and I’ll mind mine.”

Slowly, a quiet murmur began to pick up as those around the table desperately tried to find a new conversation.  But even as Njord continued to stare Loki down, he let himself get comfortable again. 

“Tomorrow’s gonna suck,” he said, looking over to Angela and Sylvie beside him, both wearing their shock plain on their faces.

“Did you just say he was in prison?” Angela asked.

Loki lay on his bed, books and notes and old homework spread out around him as he studied.  He knew the material, but he didn’t trust himself to remember it come morning.  As his door opened and Sylvie crept in, Loki barely looked up, not wanting to lose his place and spend precious seconds finding it again.

“I have to study,” he said.

“So study,” Sylvie said.

Sighing, Loki looked up anyway and watched her as she cleared off a spot on the bed and cosied up next to him.  It had been a full week since he’d crept into Sylvie’s bedroom and climbed on top of her, and he still wasn’t sure how to handle having done it.  He was certain they hadn’t done anything truly wrong, but at the same time it hadn’t felt right either.  And now she was in his bed, thumbing through his history notes, and sitting close to him in a way that had never been uncomfortable before, like it suddenly was now.

Eventually, his attention drifted away from his sister, and back toward his studies.  As he quietly quizzed himself on his old homework, Sylvie shifted beside him, sitting up to press her body against his.  Loki tried to ignore her even as his breath hitched and he felt himself beginning to stir in anticipation, finding that he was no longer able to focus on anything at all.  As her hand found its way into his pyjamas, he did nothing to stop her, even though he knew he should have at least said something.  But he was already hard by the time her fingers found his cock, stroking lightly over him, and couldn’t find it within him to say no.

“I’ve been waiting for you to come see me,” Sylvie said quietly.

Loki shrugged as she wrapped her fingers around him, gripping just a little too tight.

“I didn’t know if I should,” he said, letting his eyes fall closed.

“When have I ever said no to you?” Sylvie asked.

She stroked him, slowly and deliberately as Loki shifted to give her better access.  He let his arm fall over her shoulders, holding her against him as she toyed with his cock.  Loki wanted to take her hand in his and show her how to do it right, but he stayed where he was and let her do as she pleased.

As he let himself roll into her touch, Sylvie shoved her weight against him so he sat back.  She straddled him in an easy motion, hand still on his cock and holding it against her as she moved on top of him.  She kept their pyjamas between them, but he could see her hand on him, holding him right where she wanted him.  Loki brought his hands to her hips, but as he tried to guide her, Sylvie fought back and shook her head.

“Don’t do that,” she said.

Unsure what else to do, Loki let his hands fall to her thighs instead.  He was only able to watch as she rode him, her face twisting up as she began to move faster against him.  Her grip on his cock was too tight, and even as she came on top of him, Loki was still far from release. 

“You see what you do to me?” she asked quietly.

He watched as she slowed and stilled, uncertain if the thought drifting through his mind was the right one.  Too horny and desperate to think twice, Loki shoved his books out of the way and pulled Sylvie to the bed, rolling on top of her.  When she didn’t fight against him, Loki stopped holding back.  He rutted against her, his face buried against the side of her neck as he desperately tried to finish what she’d started.  Sylvie wrapped her legs around him, holding their bodies close as one hand snaked into his hair to pull it, and Loki no longer cared what was right.

“You’re so good,” she said in his ear.  “I want you all to myself.”

She dragged her nails over the back of his neck, and Loki had to muffle a shout against her skin as he came suddenly, making a mess down the front of his pyjamas.  Even as Loki slowed, Sylvie still writhed and bucked beneath him, making her own wants clear.  His head swimming, Loki continued to rut against her.

“Come on,” Sylvie said, her voice hitching as she struggled to keep herself quiet.  “You can do it, baby.  I know you can.  You’re so good.  Right there.”

She came with a shuddering gasp, going stiff and still beneath him for a moment.  Panting and dizzy, Loki rolled off of her and stared up at the ceiling while Sylvie caught her breath beside him.  Light from his lamp caught the glitter that was embedded in the texturing, like pinpricks of light along the dark edges near the walls.  Loki dared to look over at Sylvie, her bleached hair falling loose around her face like a halo.  He didn’t know why he had resisted her at first.  He knew they both wanted and liked it, and he didn’t go inside her, so it wasn’t actually sex.  But then he looked down at her body, and noticed her pyjamas were wet between her legs.  His own pyjamas were sticky, though he hadn’t soaked through, and suddenly he wasn’t so certain again. 

“Is this right?” he asked suddenly.

Sylvie looked up at him.  “Does it matter?” she asked.

It wasn’t the answer Loki was expecting, and he didn’t know how to answer it.

“Nobody has to know,” Sylvie said.  “It’s not like we’re actually fucking, is it?”

Loki shook his head.  If she’d come to the same conclusion he had, then it must not have been as bad as he wanted to think it was.  Sylvie rolled over, draping her hand over his chest in a way that felt entirely too intimate.

“Besides.  It’s a lot more fun than using your hand, isn’t it?” Sylvie asked, trailing a line down his chest and toward his belly.

Loki couldn’t deny that much.  He nodded, watching her hand stop just before his pyjamas, and trailing back up again, and glanced toward the door.  Thor’s bathroom and his own shared the wall next to his bed, and Balder was all the way across the hall.  As long as they were quiet, nobody would hear them.  He looked down at himself, and then back at Sylvie.  He wasn’t hard yet, but he knew he could get there easily enough.  And as he rolled back on top of Sylvie, she spread her legs to let him.  After only a few moments of rutting against her, his cock responded and he was hard once more.  If this was truly what she wanted, Loki thought he could do it all night.  He wanted to touch her, but he didn’t know if she’d want it.  He didn’t know if that made it too real.  Still, as she wrapped her legs around him to hold him close, Loki let his hand find her waist.  He held her there for a moment, and trailed up over her shirt, along her side and over her ribs.  The edges of his fingers just barely brushed against her breast beneath her shirt, and it sent a thrill through him knowing that what he wanted was truly forbidden.  But just like last time, she grabbed him by the wrist and moved his hand so that he held her breast in it, and suddenly everything changed.  It wasn’t just jerking off together.  It was sex, even if he wasn’t inside her, and the thrill and the terror of it went straight through him and only drove him to want more.

“I want you all to myself,” Sylvie said.  “I don’t want anyone else.  Only you.”

She bit his ear, and that was it.  He came suddenly, his entire body jerking sharply as he gasped against her skin.  But she still writhed against him, and he wanted to be inside her.  If he couldn’t do it with his dick, he could do it in other ways.  He shifted, moving his hand from her breast down between her legs and under her pyjamas.  Still panting quietly, Loki watched her face as he entered her with his fingers, pressing inside to see how deep he could go.  This wasn’t jerking off together.  He was fucking her with his hand, and she rutted against him, jaw slack and eyes sliding closed.

“Right there,” she said breathlessly.  “Right there, don’t stop.”

Loki pressed into her, letting her rut against him to guide the pace.  She was soft and warm around his fingers, and he imagined what she would feel like on his cock.

“Oh, god, yeah,” Sylvie said, her voice hitching.  “Yeah, right there.”

She came on his hand, and Loki could see the moment it overwhelmed her.  Just a moment, brief and fleeting, before she began to come back down.  He pulled his hand away, surprised at how sticky and wet his fingers were.  Unsure what else to do, he wiped his fingers on his pyjamas and rolled back off of her.

“Did you mean that?” Loki asked, feeling suddenly very exposed and vulnerable.

Sylvie sat up, leaning against her elbow.  “Mean what?” she asked.

“That you don’t want anyone else?” Loki asked.

The trace of a smile played on her lips as she settled down to rest against his chest.  “Why would I ever want anyone else?” she asked.  “When you’re right here, and already everything I need?”

Loki Sylvie close, letting himself believe her.

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To Dare Hope

To Dare Hope (8,049 words) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Thor
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Major Character Death
Characters: Thor, Loki

Summary: Finding his brother pale and lifeless was becoming all too familiar, and never got easier.

Continue reading

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Starve to Death with Dignity #3

The wise thing to do would have been to permanently isolate himself from the rest of the palace.  But after Thor’s surprise visit, Loki didn’t want to lead with such drastic measures.  Eir had given him something to experiment with, and so he led with that.  Being unable to smell or taste anything was a cruel side effect, but one he felt was worth it if it potentially led to his freedom.  After he woke the following morning, he hid himself from his own view, inhaled Eir’s disgusting potion, choked down his breakfast, and settled into his work for the day.  He couldn’t help but feel like Odin had given him a heavier load than usual, but it was something to do, and the tedium of combing through reports and carrying out audits was better than staring at the walls.

And then the wind shifted, and with it, a familiar feeling began to stir in Loki’s loins.  He cradled his head in his hands and growled in frustration, furious at the reminder that he could never hope to be normal again.  Even though it wasn’t the all-consuming lust that had overcome him before, it was still a distraction.  Worse, it meant he still could not be trusted beyond his chamber walls.

Eir had given him a second, stronger potion.  Loki pulled that from her basket and examined it, finding it much like the first.  It was a bit thicker and darker, and a bit stickier, and inhaling it made him gag so hard he nearly choked.  Slowly, he began to feel numb behind his face, and even more slowly his lust began to fade.  Loki moved to the window, breathing deeply just to see whether he could get on with his day, or if he needed to take more drastic measures.  He could see Freyja in her own chambers, still unaware that she was being watched.  But now, watching was all he did.  He wasn’t being driven to insanity by her very presence, though now he found himself wondering how much longer she would continue to make his life misery.

Once he was certain the second potion would do its job, Loki returned to his desk and resumed his work.  When his supper was brought to him, he forced himself to eat, though he only managed to finish half of what he was brought before grew too disgusted with it to continue.

Each day was the same.  Each morning he woke, changed himself so he wouldn’t have to see his own flesh, used the first potion and survived until the afternoon winds shifted, and choked down meals he could barely stand to look at.  He was tempted to start each day with the second potion, but he knew Eir had given him two for a reason.  Often, Thor would visit in the evenings, bringing wine Loki couldn’t even stomach and refused to share.  He ignored the servants who came and went, tidying up around him and bringing him anything he needed, and idly wondered how difficult it had been to recruit several young men for the role.  Finally, after weeks of the same routine, day after day after day of barely keeping hold of his sanity, the afternoon winds shifted without Loki noticing.  He was able to work through until supper was brought up, and it was only when he realised he could taste a slight sharpness in the cheese that he knew the worst was finally over.

The first potion wasn’t strong enough to stop him from losing his mind when the wind caught him right.  But it was enough to buy him time, and allow him to keep his wits and remedy the situation.  And he still had not needed to get into the draughts she had sent, which was enough to make him think he might be able to beat this.  He composed a note for Eir, asking her to send both potions in greater quantities, and had it sent to her that evening.

When his door opened some time later, it wasn’t Thor coming to pay him a visit, nor servants come to tidy his chambers as though he weren’t there.  It was Odin who found him where he lay sprawled out in bed, reading until he grew bored enough to fall asleep.

“Eir tells me her potions are working,” Odin said, pulling the chair away from Loki’s desk.

He sat near the fire pit, in a parody of casual conversation, while Loki slowly sat up a bit straighter.

“They seem to be,” Loki said.

He wasn’t sure what else to offer.  The whole disgusting ordeal was one he’d rather have swept under the rug and forgotten about forever.  Discussing it with his father was the last thing he wanted to do.

“I’ve also been told you’re not eating,” Odin said.

Loki took a deep breath, focusing on the pages in front of him, rather than looking up at Odin.

“It’s a side effect of the potion,” Loki said.  “I find later meals easier to get through, on good days.”

He wondered if he ought to confess that it was because the potion had begun to fade by then.  But it was an easy enough fix if anything arose from it, so Loki kept that information to himself.

“And if I were to release you, can you be trusted to behave yourself?” Odin asked.

Loki nodded.  “Yes, I believe so,” he said.

Odin nodded in return.  “I’m glad to know one of us is confident,” he said.

Loki’s heart dropped, but before he could voice his crushing disappointment, Odin continued.

“You are not to leave these chambers unchaperoned,” he said.  “And if you cannot control yourself, or otherwise remove yourself from the situation, you will find me much less lenient next time.”

Loki nodded.  “Of course,” he said.

Odin stood, stepping forward to drop his hand on Loki’s shoulder.

“I wish things could have been different,” Odin said.

Without another word, he walked out of the room, leaving Loki to contemplate his future.  His freedom may have been somewhat restored, but what freedom did he truly have when it was no secret at all what had happened?  Surely by then, all in Asgard knew what he had done to earn his imprisonment, and gossip travelled quickly.  Still, he could not live the rest of his life in a cage.  At least on a leash he was more free than he’d been of late. 

It was Thor who came to fetch Loki in the morning.  Loki wasn’t yet dressed, finding it suddenly difficult to haul himself from bed now that he had a reason to get up.  Loki had barely managed to disguise himself for the day, and hadn’t even decided how he intended to handle any unwanted situations that might, and certainly would arise.

He barely greeted Thor at all as he inhaled Eir’s potion.  It never got easier, and the way it stuck to his insides nearly made him gag every time.

“Is that it?” Thor asked as Loki returned the pot to its place on his desk.

Loki nodded, still trying to get through the worst of it.  Thor picked up the pot and opened it, cautiously sniffing the thick jelly inside.

“What does it do?” he asked, returning the lid and putting it back down.

Loki sniffed harshly.  “It destroys my ability to taste or smell anything,” he said bitterly.  “So I’m afraid I’m skipping breakfast.”

Thor shrugged.  “Just as well.  Father wants you hearing requests today.  There’s already a queue.”

Loki would have rather been trapped in his chambers all day.

“Of course he does,” he said with a heavy sigh.

Thor laughed.  “He says you’re best at it, because of how much you hate it.”

“Yes, listening to squabbling peasants is the height of entertainment,” Loki said bitterly.

He turned to get dressed for a day of doing exactly that.

“Exactly,” Thor said.  “It’s easier for you to not pick sides, because you hate all of them the same.”

Rolling his eyes, Loki pulled a tunic on and tucked it into his breeches. 

“I hate them, because they’re like children fighting over toys,” Loki said.

He grabbed the first surcoat his fingers touched and pulled it on, taking time to make sure everything was straight and tidy.  Then, he used his fingers to comb through his hair and somewhat tame his curls before turning to fetch the boots he hadn’t worn in weeks.

“How long does that slime of yours last?” Thor asked.

As he sat on the bed to pull his boots on, Loki considered his options.

“Not long enough,” he said.  He pointed to the basket Eir had given to him, on the shelf near his desk.  “There’s another in there.  Toss it over.”

Thor pulled another pot from the basket and casually tossed it over to Loki.  Loki caught it from the air and opened it to check that it was the right one, thicker and slightly darker of colour.  He wasn’t sure that he’d be able to excuse himself from any unexpected situations, and make it back to his chambers without incident, so he slipped the potion into one of his hiding places so he had it when he needed it.  With his boots on, and as prepared as it was possible to be, he stood and shrugged.  It had been weeks since he’d been seen in public, and now that he’d been allowed back, he wasn’t sure he truly wanted it.

“Let’s get this over with,” he said.

Thor held the door open and walked with Loki out to the corridor.  The guards that had become a permanent fixture outside his door did little to hide their distaste of the entire situation, but Loki ignored them and followed Thor through the palace and to the throne room.  Loki had expected to find Odin waiting for them, but it was empty, save the ever-present guards near the dais.

“Have fun,” Thor said, already turning to leave.

“Hang on, you’re supposed to stay with me,” Loki said, furious at being left to this task alone.

Thor laughed and pointed to the guard as he retreated further.

“You’re their problem now.  I’ll come fetch you later.”

“You ass,” Loki said.

Thor laughed some more and disappeared, leaving Loki to his task all alone.  He slouched down on the throne, and soon the first in a long line of annoyances was let in to beg for favours, and Loki immediately remembered exactly how much he hated hearing requests.  He hoped that whatever duties Thor had for the day could be handled quickly, and that he’d return to rescue Loki from his torture, but the day dragged on with painful lethargy.  With each request, Loki grew more and more fed up, and began denying requests and issuing confusing judgements on principle.  If he didn’t like a man’s beard, denied.  Someone repeated the same word too many times, denied.  One party seemed overly certain of his own position in a squabble, judgement for the other man.  He no longer cared whether his judgements were fair or even logical.  Perhaps if he did poorly enough, he’d never have to do the job again.

By the time Thor finally returned for him, Loki had slid so far down from his seat that he was halfway on the floor.  Thor laughed as he walked across the throne room, stopping below the dais with his hands on his hips.

“Loki, what are you doing?” he asked.

“Dying,” Loki said flatly.  “Of ennui.  Because you left me here for so long.”

“Yes, well.  Father won’t like it if you die there,” Thor said.  “Go do it somewhere else.”

Loki sighed dramatically before hauling himself to his feet, glad to finally be released from his torture.  Together, they walked from the throne room to the banquet hall, but Loki stopped short just beyond the entrance and stared in at the crowd.  A familiar tightness began to rise within him, giving him only moments to make a choice.

“I think I’d prefer to dine alone,” he said lowly.

Thor turned to look at him.  “Are you certain?”

Loki nodded.  “I need to leave.”

Without waiting for Thor, he turned to head back to his chambers.  Thor quickly caught up with him, walking close by his side.  He could feel Thor hovering just a little too close, ready to reach out and grab Loki at a moment’s notice, but not quite touching him just yet.  Neither said a word until they reached Loki’s chambers, and he was safely inside, and by the time they reached his door, Loki barely had the wits to speak at all.

“Shall I have something sent?” Thor asked.

Loki nodded again, and then pushed the door shut between them.  Even with the distance between him and whoever had set him off this time, his lust was reluctant to subside.  He leaned against the wall, sliding down to the floor as he loosened the laces on his breeches enough to reach inside.  His cock was already hard and straining beneath the leather, and once again almost entirely unresponsive to his own hand.  He bit his lip and tried to coax it into spilling quickly, but it only made him want more.  He leaned forward as he worked himself, bracing against the floor with his free hand.  Rather than using his hand on his cock, he began fucking his own hand, rutting against it, and that was almost better.  He got up onto his knees, giving himself more room and moved against his hand as though it were someone beneath him.  To better convince himself of just that, he lowered to press his chest against the ground, with his ass in the air.  He imagined that the ground was a body beneath him, pliantly taking his cock.  It worked, just, and he spilled onto the stone floor with a muffled shout, continuing to rut against his hand until he had nothing left to spill.  With his face burning and his heart pounding, Loki sat up and looked at the mess he’d left, ashamed at the sight of it.  Grimacing at his own behaviour, Loki looked around the small chamber for anything to clean up with, and settled on pulling a blanket from the sofa that was only steps away.  With it, he mopped up as much as he could, and then tossed it over to a corner to be collected later.

Finally catching his breath, Loki sat up onto his knees and put himself back together, tying his breeches shut before getting up to go hide in his bedchamber.  Even then, he felt as though he needed only move wrong within his own clothing to get started again, and if that were indeed to be the case, Loki thought he would much rather not be just beyond his own front door.

Thor seemed a bit more aware of the situation than Loki wanted to acknowledge, because it was nearly half an hour before a servant brought him his supper.  Loki didn’t even acknowledge him as he left the tray on the desk and retreated.

Loki had done as he had been told.  He had removed himself from the situation before it had become a problem.  So why didn’t it feel like he’d done the right thing?  And why did he find himself continuing to struggle to maintain his wits?

After the third day, Loki was convinced that hearing requests was Odin’s true punishment for his behaviour, and that being allowed the privacy and solitude to sort himself after out was a mercy.  Having to listen to farmers bicker about land borders was going to kill him.  And each evening, his choices were the same.  He could try to eat a meal that may as well have been made of sawdust, or rush past the banquet hall as quickly as possible and hope to make it to his chambers before he lost what remained of his sanity.  Thor didn’t even bother asking the third time, leaving Loki to his shame without another word.  This time, he managed to shed his surcoat and make it to his bed before his hand found its way into his breeches. 

With his entire body trembling, he managed to gather several of his pillows and pile them beneath him, mounting them like a dog.  With his cock in hand, he rutted against the mass, letting his weight sink into it.  He could almost convince himself it was a body beneath him, grunting and sweating along with him.  He felt like a feral animal, rutting against it like that, but he couldn’t stop.  His body was not his own, and would not be his own until he could sate this insane urge.  He buried his face into the mass beneath him and screamed in frustration as still his lust only rose higher and higher.  His cock was so hard in his hand, he felt like it might burst, and still it craved more.

Loki managed to stop long enough to free himself from his breeches, letting them fall down to bare his ass.  Instead of holding his cock in hand, he rutted against the pillow itself, letting the difference in texture and the weight of his own body do the work.  It was just different enough that he spilled onto the fabric with a force so hard, he screamed again.  With his eyes screwed shut, he continued to slowly rut against it until he had nothing left to spill, sobbing silently to himself.  Once he finally stilled, he rolled over onto his back and threw the pillow across the room, furious with himself for all of it.

He couldn’t keep doing this.  This wasn’t keeping himself in control.  This wasn’t anybody’s idea of proper behaviour.  He was a fool to think he might have ever been able to go back to living a normal life.  Nor could he isolate himself forever.  The rules had changed, and these were not rules he could bend or twist to suit himself. 

When Thor fetched him from his own personal hel the following day, Loki didn’t immediately rise to meet him.  Instead, he summoned Eir’s disgusting potion and hoped to choke on it as he inhaled it.  Then, he waited a few moments longer, to make sure it had a chance to take hold before finally rising to his feet.

“I’m going to jump off the Rainbow Bridge,” he said as he trudged after Thor.

“Loki,” Thor said.  “Don’t say things like that.”

Loki didn’t respond.  He didn’t want to hear anything else Thor might have had to say.  As they reached the banquet hall, he was tempted to continue on to his chambers anyway, just for the novelty of returning as himself, and not as a wild beast that made a mess on every surface he touched.  But he followed Thor into the hall, taking his usual spot amongst their friends, and immediately regretted it.

“Look who’s finally decided to join us,” Fandral said.

“Don’t talk to me,” Loki said, slouching as far down onto the bench as he could without falling off.

Thor poured him a cup of ale, but without any flavour at all, it was like cotton in his mouth.  The boar was the same story, nearly making him gag as he tried to eat it.  He got through two bites before giving up and rising to his feet.

“Where are you going?” Thor asked.

“To bed,” Loki said.

Behind him, Thor growled in frustration as he got up to follow him.  Loki wanted to tell Thor to leave him be, but he knew it wouldn’t do any good.  Instead, he said nothing as he strode quickly back to his chambers.  Again, Thor left him without a word as he barricaded himself inside.  He threw his surcoat at the sofa and strode to his bed chamber, furious that he had done the right thing and found it somehow worse.  Loki fell face down onto the bed, not moving at all once he landed.  He stayed there, barely moving at all until a servant let himself in with what Loki could only assume was a tray for supper.

“I don’t want it.  Take it away,” he said, his voice muffled against the bed.

For a moment there was only silence, until finally he heard the servant turn to leave.  Only then did Loki roll over onto his back and stare up at the ceiling.  He needed to decide what was more important, whether it was the ability to stomach even a single meal, or his dignity. 

He couldn’t survive on scraps.  Dignity meant nothing if he slowly starved to death.  He would simply take supper in his rooms going forward.  And the following day when Thor gathered him up, Loki had a new plan.  The solution was obvious, but he had been too busy following Odin’s rules to realise it was right in front him.

“I’m going to my chambers,” he said as Thor approached him.

“Very well,” said Thor.  “Let’s go, then.”

Loki took a deep breath.  “No,” he said.  “I will be taking myself.”

Thor nodded slowly, and Loki could see him turning the idea over in his head.

“You know you can’t do that,” he said.  “Father won’t allow it.”

“Thor, I am starving,” Loki said.  “If I walk through the palace, I will lose my mind.  Meet me there if it makes you feel better.”

Thor frowned, grumbling quietly.

“Father won’t like this,” he said.

“So don’t tell him,” Loki said.  He shrugged and finally stood.  “But I cannot keep doing this.”

Finally, Thor nodded, and looked at the guard behind Loki.

“Ten minutes,” he said.  “Do not let him leave before then.”

The guard nodded, and Loki rolled his eyes.  He sat back down on the throne and watched as Thor turned to leave.  He was certain the guard’s ability to keep time was lacking, but Loki stayed where he was, not daring to even look like he was trying to leave early.  If he was ever to regain enough trust to be able to come and go entirely as he pleased, he needed to show that he could be trusted.  So he waited, growing every more impatient to leave by the second.

“My lord,” the guard said finally.

Loki stood and turned to the guard to acknowledge his release, and with a single step forward took himself straight to his chambers.  For the first time arriving in something even resembling a decent mood, he took a moment to shed his surcoat before opening the door to the corridor.  Thor stood outside, frowning sourly, which Loki answered with a smug grin.

“Have something sent for me, will you?” he asked.

“I don’t like this,” Thor said.

“I don’t care,” Loki said.

He shut the door on Thor’s face, knowing he’d be getting an earful from Odin about it later.  But he wanted to enjoy a meal in peace, for once without the shadow of shame and humiliation hanging over him. 

Loki traded his leather breeches for a looser linen pair, and had the time to get comfortable in bed before the servant arrived with his meal.  Loki ate right there in bed while catching up with the rest of his work for the day, taking his time to get through all of it.  Once he was finished, he left both his tray and his work staked on his desk to be taken away the following day.

Finding himself with little else to do, Loki returned to bed with a book and cup of wine, eager to enjoy the evening.  He was halfway through his wine when he realised he had read the same line six times.  He sat up, frowning at the room around him, hoping his concentration was slipping because he was simply tired.  But he knew that wasn’t it.  Deep down, he knew exactly what was happening.  The breeze through the windows had picked up someone’s scent.  But it was faint, so Loki picked up his book again, determined to ignore it.  If he could ignore this, perhaps he could train himself to ignore it when the urges grew stronger.  But ignoring it was not the same as regaining his focus.  He stared at the page before him, no longer even trying to read the words as he forced himself to remain still. 

Unable to stop himself, he began rubbing himself through his breeches, rolling into his own touch.  He let his eyes drift shut and dropped the book to the bed beside him, deciding this was fine.  He wasn’t behaving like an animal.  This was perfectly normal lust.  Nobody would fault him for this.  He hummed quietly as he rubbed himself through the fabric, not even needing to touch himself properly.  This was enjoyable, as taking himself in hand had not been in far too long.

He let himself enjoy it, wanting to savour this in case it never happened again.  Part of him was surprised he could even still enjoy his own hand, and he teased himself until he could take no more.  Finally, he unlaced his breeches and took himself, gasping at the touch.  He rolled his foreskin between his fingers, and tugged at his sac, trying to see exactly how long he could hold out.

Loki leaned back against the headboard as he began stroking himself with just the tips of his fingers.  Somehow even that had become too much, and his own spend took him by surprise.  He gasped quietly as he coaxed the rest out, having nearly forgotten that it wasn’t supposed to hurt.  It wasn’t supposed to even be difficult. 

And that it hadn’t been this time gave him some amount of hope.  Perhaps he could find a way to beat this foul thing and truly move on with his life.  But even as he picked up his book, he realised the distraction was still there.  It wasn’t as though he were losing control of his body, but he still could not focus on the words before him as once more he felt that familiar stir rising with him.

“Oh, come on,” he said, tossing the book aside again.

He got to his feet and strode over to the window, wondering if he would even be able to tell if it was someone’s scent on the air, or if his body had just become accustomed to the abuse.  As soon as he leaned his head out of the window, he had his answer.  He wasn’t sure if he could truly identify any specific scent on the air, but as he leaned into the breeze his lust grew stronger.  He tried to find whoever was doing this to him, but he had no idea where to even start.  As the breeze picked up, the scent it carried only grew stronger, and once more his hand was down his breeches.  Only this time, it wasn’t enough.  He rubbed his length with his palm, pressing his cock against his stomach.  He leaned out of the window as far as he could dare, still trying to find the source.  The longer he spent trying to identify it, the harder it became to think about anything else.  He rutted against his hand, trying to find a way to use the windowsill to give him better leverage. 

He needed to step away before he fell, and died with his dick in his hand.  He could see the ground below, but even as he leaned out the window, he couldn’t find it a serious enough threat to stop.

It took every ounce of will he had to pull his hand out of his breeches and step away.  With his legs trembling beneath him, he barely made it back to his bed.  He needed a body beneath him.  Any body.  That’s what felt natural.  That’s what felt right.  But he was locked in his chambers for the rest of the evening, and even if he wasn’t, he was too far gone to even try to leave.  He should have stayed put in bed.  If he hadn’t gone investigating, he wouldn’t be in this position, but now he was writhing and panting on his bed with his hand on his cock and no end in sight. 

Loki managed to get up onto his knees, giving in to the only thing he knew that worked.  Loki let his breeches fall so his cock stood free, and gathered his pillows to mount them like a dog.  He rutted against it, panting and whimpering quietly with each thrust.  Keeping his eyes screwed shut so he didn’t have to face the reality of what he was doing, he tried to imagine someone on all fours beneath him.  He let his weight fall against the pillows, letting his arms cage them as if they were a body, his own twisting and squirming out of his control.  It still wasn’t enough.  It would never be enough.  Loki managed to shift himself to move his hand to press his cock harder into the pillow beneath him, holding his palm flat against its length.  With a shameful grimace, he cried out for more, rutting harder and harder with each thrust of his hips until once more his spend hit him like a punch to the stomach.  And still he couldn’t stop rutting through it, even as the ache turned painful.  Still, he couldn’t stop until every last drop had been spilled and smeared onto the fabric.  He rolled off, weeping as he struggled to even breathe, and threw the spoiled pillow across the room.  He could barely breathe, and his heart felt as if it might burst.

He couldn’t live like this.  Not with that scent still in the air.  Before it could catch it again, he forced himself to his feet.  His legs were like jelly, and he nearly fell as soon as he stood, but he caught himself on the edge of the bed and began the painful walk to his desk.

He inhaled Eir’s potion first, hoping to stop anything before it started again.  Then, he grabbed one of the draughts that still sat unopened in the basket, and pried the cork from it.  Unsure how much to take, Loki took a swig large enough to fill his mouth, swallowing down the bitter liquid. 

Loki had a choice, and it was a simple one.  He could starve to death with dignity, or he could rut himself to death on a full stomach. 

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Sins of the Flesh

Sins of the Flesh (7,727 words) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Thor
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Rape/Non-Con
Pairings: Loki/Tentacles
Characters: Loki

Summary: Loki finds a new pet.

And then the new pet finds Loki

Continue reading

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Ours to Keep #2

The last thing Loki wanted to do was wake up, but he couldn’t stay in bed all day.  Bad things happened when he did that.  He tried to sit up, grunting quietly at the sharp stiffness in his back that already threatened bad things, and fell back down onto his back.

“Fuck,” he said, trying to stretch his arm to reach his phone on the night stand.

Even that small amount of movement pulled sharply at something near his spine.  He didn’t know what he’d done to deserve this.  Nothing he’d done the day before was anything that should have been bad for him.  If he was in a bad enough state that five minutes of action was enough to lay him out flat, it was time to reconsider everything.

No, Loki knew his problem had nothing to do with his brief sojourn the night before.  He’d been tense from the stress of having his home invaded by strangers who only cared about his grandfather’s money, and had simply made the mistake of falling asleep flat on his back.  Through the haze of still being half asleep, Loki managed to find the right app on his phone and inclined his bed as far as it would go so he could sit up.  Even with the extra help, he hissed sharply and let out a long string of swears as he forced himself to sit up and put his feet on the floor.  He sat on the side of his bed for a long moment, hunched over and staring up at the dim light that filtered through his curtains.  Eventually, the tension in his back eased enough for him to stand with only a moderate amount of effort and complaining, and then the hardest part was over.

Rather than getting dressed, he wrapped himself in his dressing gown and dared to face the disaster that awaited him beyond his door.  Sylvie’s door was still closed, and assuming it meant she was still asleep, Loki left her to it and headed toward the stairs.  By the time he reached them it was already clear that most everyone else was up and moving.  He slowly climbed the stairs up to the kitchen, not caring who heard him grumble and complain, and stopped at the landing to look out over the crowd.  The entire table was full, all ten seats, as well as the four seats at the bar next to it.  And still, people had spilled over onto sofas in the adjoining sitting room.  Even without the extra crowd of extended family, the house had never been big enough for all of them.  Now, Loki wondered how the foundations hadn’t crumbled beneath their feet yet.

Balder and Vidar both sat at the kitchen island on bar stools, eating their breakfast far away from the crowd.  Deciding they had the right idea, Loki shuffled into the kitchen to see if there was anything left for him.  He tousled Vidar’s hair, and then knocked into Balder as he passed, and opened the fridge to stare inside.

It wasn’t completely empty, but it was close.  Loki frowned at it all, and found a Tupperware that didn’t look too dodgy on a shelf.  As he closed the fridge door, Loki turned and found himself face to face with yet another stranger, tall and blond with a build like a football player.

“Who the hell are you?” he asked.

The stranger actually the audacity to look confused.

“I’m Hoder, dipshit,” he said.

Loki shook his head, ignoring Balder snorting beside him.  “No you’re not,” he said.  “Hoder’s like, twelve.”

Balder laughed, turning around in his seat to face both of them.  “He’s two years older than me, you dumb fuck,” he said.

“What do either of you know?” Loki said, shoving past his cousin as he unfastened the lid from the Tupperware.

He tossed the whole thing into the microwave and mashed the one minute button a few too many times.  As he turned to lean against the counter, Loki adjusted his dressing gown and looked back over the crowd, counting heads.  His grandmother, he recognised, only because she had made it her entire personality to refuse to speak English just to watch everyone else struggle around her.  Three uncles, who he knew were his uncles, but not which name belonged to which man.  Two of them had wives, but if he ever knew their names, they had been long forgotten.  Hoder belonged to one of them, though who, Loki had no idea.

Then there were the wild cards.  Two older men, who he could only assume were his grandfathers’ elusive brothers.  Two older women, who Loki assumed were their wives.  And five who may as well have been strangers in off the street.  Who they belonged to, or how they related was anyone’s guess.

And that was on top of everyone who actually lived in the house, or at least had at one point.  Both Loki’s parents, Thor, Sylvie, Balder, Vidar, and Laussa, who at least got to stay out of the way in her high chair.

And with Tyr and Roger arriving shortly, no doubt with whatever family they’d decided to drag along with them, Loki had no idea what they were supposed to do with everyone.  But short of shacking everyone up in scattered BnBs across the entire county, or taking up half the resort at the marina, there really hadn’t been any other options.  Sylvie’s remark about not being able to take the subway may have been in jest, but she wasn’t exactly wrong about their sort of people.  They couldn’t exactly go to a motel around the corner when the entire area had been built up in an effort to keep the riff-raff out.

Angela and Hela had made the right choice, and for the first time in his life, Loki wished he had joined everyone’s exodus into the city so he had an excuse to not have to be there.

The microwave beeped obnoxiously, and as he turned around to rescue his breakfast from it, Loki pulled the silverware drawer open and fished out a fork.  He delicately pulled the Tupperware from the microwave, holding it with just the tips of his fingers under the edges so he didn’t burn himself.  As he looked around the crowd once more, he spotted a seat that had opened up at the table.  Not wanting to annoy his back further by hunching over a bar stool, Loki decided to brave the crowd and join it.  He settled in next to Frigga, trying to put enough room in between them so he didn’t knock his elbow into her each time he dared lift his fork.  Only as he poked around in the small, square container did Loki realise what he’d even grabbed.  Lamb from a few nights before, with potatoes and carrots.  He hadn’t been thrilled by it then, and now he’d decided it was going to be his breakfast.

“He couldn’t even get dressed before coming up,” one of his uncles said, obviously not caring whether or not Loki heard.

Showing the same about of care to who he offended, Loki shook his head and shrugged.  He ate in silence, picking through the vegetables to fish out what meat was available.

“I wish I could sleep in that late,” the same uncle said.

“Leave him be,” Frigga said.  “He’s up; that’s all that matters.”

She rested her hand on Loki’s shoulder for a moment, giving him a tired smile.

“And good morning to you,” she said.

Loki forced a weak smile and hummed quietly.  “I need into the medicine cabinet,” he said.

Frigga looked around the crowd, and then back at Laussa and the mess she’d made in her high chair.  For a moment, Loki thought Frigga was going to try to stall, but she got up and hurried back to her bedroom behind the kitchen.  Loki ignored quiet titters and smug chuckles, wanting nothing more than to just get through the next two days and get on with his life.  Both Odin and Frigga had been extremely lenient with him while family was taking up their attention, but the stress of it all was not worth the extra slack.

“So what does insurance pay out on a brand new Tesla?” someone else asked.  “I couldn’t believe it when I saw that green thing you got him, Odin.”

Frigga returned, setting a napkin with half a tablet on it in front of Loki, along with a glass of water.  Loki immediately forgot about his leftover lamb and took the tablet with the entire glass of water.  It wasn’t even worth complaining over only getting half, because he knew the second he opened his mouth about it, some crusty old bastard he hadn’t seen in ten years would have something to say about it.

“Thor said the car’s right-hand drive,” the first uncle said.  “How much extra did that set you back?”

Odin looked up at both of them, letting the newspaper he was reading fall to the table.  Then, he turned his attention to Loki.

“You’ll have to ask Loki that,” he said.  “I haven’t the faintest idea what he spends his money on, and don’t care to know.”

If Odin’s remark was meant to stifle the conversation, it didn’t work.  Both uncles, or whatever they were, laughed lowly.

“I wish my old man had paid me to sit around all day in my pyjamas,” one of them said.

Suddenly, Frigga let out an exasperated sigh and slapped her napkin down onto the table.

“Njord, honestly,” she said.  “You have no idea what we’ve been through.”

She reached out to put her hand on Loki’s shoulder, but he was already halfway standing, struggling to get back to his feet without making a bunch of noise.

“I’m going back to bed,” he said, picking up his leftovers to take with him.

He heard Frigga continue to chastise Njord and everyone else, but ignored it as he gingerly made his way back down the stairs, sideways and one step at a time.  He made it to the half landing just as Sylvie did on her way up, and paused to look back up toward the growing argument at the table.

“Watch it,” he said quietly.  “They’re all a bunch of fucking cunts.”

She raised her eyebrows at him, but continued on her way.  With a deep breath, Loki carried on down the second half of the stairs to the ground floor.  Once on flat ground again, he shuffled down the hall back to his room to drop off his leftovers before slipping into a bathroom.  As he stood in front of the toilet, he had to brace himself against the counter beside him to keep his balance.  Sore stiffness was a normal part of his morning, but this was worse than normal.  Whether it truly was stress, or if he had somehow managed to tweak something without realising was no longer relevant.  Something was wrong, and the only way to fix it was to get off his feet.  He put a token effort into washing up before returning the few steps to his bedroom and making a decision that would set his fate for the rest of the day.  If he got back into bed, he’d never get out, so he settled instead into the recliner near the door.  Getting everything into position, leaning back with his feet propped up sent shocks down his entire spine.  He let himself grunt and groan through it as he finally got settled, only then realising the TV remote was buried somewhere in his bed.

Not wanting to get back up, he used his phone to play music through the speakers mounted on his wall, and picked up his pathetic breakfast of stale leftovers.  He picked at it slowly, not really wanting it, but wanting even less to go through the hassle of finding anything else.  Once he finished about half of it, he gave up and set it aside on the table, and with nothing else to do, began scrolling through various social media feeds on his phone.  Between his back and his boredom, he became so disconnected from everything that he only noticed the maid as she stopped in the door and turned to leave.

“Oh.  Sorry, Mr Loki,” she said.

Loki looked up at her and shook his head.  “No, it’s fine.  I’m not here,” he said, waving her in so she could do what she needed to do.

Nodding, Anne entered his room and picked up his laundry from the small hamper against the wall.  She worked quickly to tidy up, sparing only a moment to make sure he was done with his breakfast before putting it with the stack of everything else to be taken away.  It wasn’t until she began stripping his bed that she acknowledged his presence again.

“Mr Loki, the bed,” she said.

Loki looked over, realising he had left it inclined.

“Oh.  Sorry,” he said, pulling up the app so he could lower the bed again.

He sat back in silence, resuming his impersonation of an empty chair while Anne made his bed.  His presence while she worked was no doubt just as uncomfortable for her, but he’d disrupted the routine by going back to his room in the first place.  With all the extra load on her schedule, Loki knew that if he didn’t let her get to it now, it wouldn’t get done at all.

She didn’t do much else around his room, and finished up fairly quickly.  As she began to take his laundry away, Loki reached out to stop her.

“Anne, could you tell my mother I need the other half of that pill, please?  Thank you,” he said.

Anne nodded.  “Right away,” she said.

It wasn’t her job, but he didn’t want to send a text and risk Frigga not having her phone on her, or worse, catching someone’s ire if she did.  Loki grumbled quietly to himself as Anne left, wondering if he should have given up on the entire day and gone back to bed for good.  But he stayed where he was, scrolling through various feeds until he heard footsteps approaching down the hall.  Loki looked up to see Frigga wearing a concerned look about her, and found himself feeling guilty about asking for something that was his to begin with.  She stood over him by his side, bending over to peer at his face.  As she tried to tilt his gaze toward hers, Loki grunted and moved away, sending a sharp jolt through his back.

“Mum.  Please,” he said through his teeth.

“Loki, what have you done?” Frigga asked, standing tall again.

“I don’t know,” Loki said, trying to get comfortable again.  “Slept wrong.  Got tense from all these awful people.  Who was that ghastly old man, anyway?”

Frigga took a very deep breath.  “One of your father’s uncles,” she said.  “He tried to gave a go at your sister, but she’s not as nice as you are.”

“If I didn’t want to roll over and die, I wouldn’t have been nice either,” Loki said.

With a sigh, Frigga handed him the other half of his pill and a bottle of water.  He immediately took it, chasing it with enough water to get the feeling of sharp edges out of his throat.

“Do you want me to get Thor to help you back into bed?” Frigga asked.

Loki shook his head and set the water aside.  “No, but I would like my laptop,” he said.

He pointed to its case, leaning up against the side of the TV stand.  Frigga fetched it for him, handling it as though holding it too tightly would break it.

“Angela says she’ll be in around one,” she said as she handed Loki the laptop.

Loki groaned lowly.  He’d forgotten all about the beach.

“This is why I don’t make plans,” he said.

Frigga watched him in silence for a long moment.  “Are you sure you haven’t done anything?” she asked.

“What I did was go to bed at four o’clock in the afternoon, like an idiot,” Loki said.

His mother frowned at him, but refrained from chastising him. 

“Well, the reading’s tomorrow,” she said.  “And then they’ll all leave on Tuesday.”

“They’d better,” Loki said.  “This house was already too small.”

Shaking her head, Frigga petted Loki’s hair before turning to leave, no doubt to field more question and accusations about her drug addict son.  He waited until she was up the stairs before pulling his laptop from its case and opening it.  There were several things he could have got into, some moderately important, but what he did was pull up Google to look up his wretched great uncle.  Now that he knew who Njord belonged to, he had a full name he could search for.  When results on the American site didn’t yield much information, Loki switched countries and tried again.  Loki spoke the language better than he read it, but he could read enough to paint a fuzzy picture.

Njord had not been amongst those present for Bor’s funeral the previous month, but he had certain gone out of his way to find himself in New York for the will reading.    Loki wished he knew more of his relatives by name, to help him paint a bigger picture.  But he had enough information to make a few guesses about why so many strangers had invaded his home, and he didn’t feel wrong about any of them.  If he needed to, he could always rope Thor into some espionage.  Or better yet, Sylvie.  But for the moment, it all sounded like too much work when all Loki really wanted to do was find a way back on his feet, even if that meant doing nothing at all for the rest of the day.

Deciding he didn’t actually care enough about Njord or anyone else to keep nosing around further, Loki closed the tab and opened Steam to stare at all the games he knew he didn’t want to play.  Occasionally, something would catch his attention, and he’d wait forever for it to load and then mess around with it for about ten minutes, before deciding he did not actually want to play that game at all.  And then the cycle reset itself as he found himself once more browsing his library.

Eventually, he gave up on Steam and went back to the endless scroll on his social media feeds.  More than once, he drifted off into a light doze, waking as people stomped up and down the stairs or let doors slam too hard.  He tried to close his own door, but he couldn’t reach to swing it shut from where he sat, and didn’t want to get up.  Even as the pain in his back was slowly masked prescription pain killers, he couldn’t quite force himself to get up, if even to move back to bed.  It wasn’t until the front door opened that Loki realised he had spent an embarrassing amount of time being lazy.

“Is anyone down here?” Angela called out from the foyer.

“Me!” Loki shouted back, trying to force himself to sit up a bit better.

He was able to turn enough in his seat to see Angela walking down the hall toward his room.  He offered her a weak smile, but didn’t even try to get up as she reached his room and let herself in.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, looking down at him.

Loki snorted.  “Hurt myself sleeping,” he said.

Angela laughed and sat down on his bed, only to become immediately startled as she sank into the mattress.  She looked around at it and struggled to sit up while the mattress tried to swallow her whole.  Deciding to help, Loki pulled up the app on his phone again.  But instead of inclining the back, he raised the feet so Angela was knocked off balance completely.

“Loki, what the fuck is this?” Angela said, barely managing to sit up.

Loki laughed and left the bed exactly as it was.  “It’s what Dad actually bought me after I sent the Tesla,” he said.

“God, you are such a spoilt brat,” Angela said.  “If I destroyed my graduation gift, I’d had been thrown out on my ass.”

“No, you gotta really scare the hell out of them,” Loki said.  “That’s the trick to it.  Let them spend a few days getting mad enough to start arguing, and then eat shit on the stairs.”

Angela stared at him, wide eyed for a moment.  “Jesus, you didn’t?” she asked.

Again, Loki laughed.  “Apparently,” he said slowly, “you can become so accustomed to being in pain that you can walk around for three days with half your back torn to hell before your brain gets sick of your bullshit and tells your legs to stop working.”

“I always knew you were a moron, but Jesus Christ,” Angela said.  She shook her head and looked at Loki for a long moment.  “They never found that guy did they?”

Loki shook his head as well.  “Nope.  He was probably some drunken tourist from halfway across the globe,” he said.

The irony did not escape Loki, and it was days like this when he was rendered near immobile that it weighed on him most.  Letting himself huff quietly, he turned to look out the window to the trees blocking his view of the beach.

“I walked away from a crash that should have fucking killed me, but it’s some room temperature IQ frat bro I’m going to spend the rest of my life dealing with,” he said.

He grumbled lowly, and decided that he was sick of sulking around in his room, feeling sorry for himself.  Loki dropped the footrest on his chair and sat forward a bit more, pointing to his dresser.

“Fetch me some trunks.  Let’s get out of here,” he said.

As he tried to figure out how he wanted to do this, Angela wiggled her way back to her feet.

“Should I get someone to help?” she asked as she tried to find the right drawer.

Loki shook his head.  “No, I should be able to manage,” he said.

Angela found a pair of swim trunks and tossed them at him as she walked toward the door.

“Hey,” Loki said before she could leave.  “I think they put Dad’s ghoulish uncle in your room.  Make sure nothing’s missing.”

Angela turned to frown at him, tilting her head as she considered his warning.  “All right,” she said slowly.

She closed the door behind her as she left, making Loki reconsider turning down help.  He managed to swap out his pyjamas for his trunks without standing, and only then dared to try to find his feet.  The painkillers helped, but they didn’t dull the pain completely.  Loki could still feel his back protesting as he stood and shed his dressing gown, letting it fall back onto his chair.  He looked down at his pyjamas on the floor and tried to kick them closer to the hamper. 

Though his back still pulled sharply if he moved too much or too quickly, it was easier to move around at all now he was on his feet.  He found a silk shirt printed with parrots and palm fronds and managed to get into it, letting it hang open off his shoulders, and hid his uncombed hair under a tan Panama hat.  He snatched up a pair of cigarettes from atop his dresser, taking just a moment to check that a lighter had also been stuffed in with them before dropping them into his shirt’s front pocket.  With a glance toward his window, Loki picked up his sunglasses before trying once again to leave his room.

The sun would do him some good, and maybe the warmth would help relax things further.  But first, he had to get there.  He made it as far as the sitting room before giving up and sitting back down, and immediately recognised his mistake.  The sofas were low and soft, and tried to swallow a person whole.  He’d never get back up.

“Fuck,” he said as he tried to sit back up.

All he managed to do was sink further into it, so he gave up before it got any worse.  He’d left his phone behind, so all he could do was stay glued to the sofa until Thor finally found him.  Thor stopped in the doorway, taking the time to laugh at Loki’s predicament.

“Shut up and help me,” Loki said.

Thor did not shut up, though he did step forward.  Rather than taking Loki by the arms to pull him to his feet, Thor bent over him instead.  He wrapped his arms around Thor’s shoulders, holding on as Thor wrapped his own arms around Loki’s waist and stood to haul him up.  Loki hissed loudly as his back still protested, but he made it to his feet without screaming, and that was always a win.

“Let’s get a head start,” Thor said as he opened the door to the back deck.  “Maybe we can get there by sundown.”

“Shut all the way up,” Loki said.

He slowly followed Thor out to the deck, using Thor’s shoulder to balance himself as he stepped into his sandals.  Once Loki was steady on his feet again, Thor left him in a hurry, trotting off toward the pool.  Assuming Thor was an idiot who had forgotten where the beach was, Loki began making his way toward the stairs that led off the deck.  As he reached them, Thor returned with a sun lounger in one hand, and a parasol slung over the opposite shoulder.

“Do you got it?” Thor asked as they neared the stairs.

Loki nodded.  “Maybe,” he said.  “Teach me to sneak out for a midnight orgy.”

He took the stairs one step at a time, making sure he had both feet solidly on the same level before stepping sideways down to the next one.  The rail was weathered and splintered, forcing him to keep only the most tenuous of holds on it as he went.

“This is what you get for spending all day in bed,” Thor said, stuck behind him on the stairs.

Loki sighed, wondering what the hell he was supposed to do about any of it.  “Thor,” he said.  “Go eat an entire dick.”

Thor shuffled everything to hold onto it with one arm, freeing himself to hold his hand flat against Loki’s side.  Loki resented the need for help, but said nothing and let Thor help keep him balanced.  He made it back onto the level boardwalk and looked ahead at the next set of stairs he had to navigate.  There were three more before they even hit the beach—one heading back up over the dune, and two more as the beach sloped down to the surf—and they each seemed impossible to navigate.  But on level ground, he was able to move a bit faster, and while going back up the stairs was slow going, it wasn’t quite as awkward.  They made it to the point where the stairs started going down again before Loki caught the sound of footsteps approaching from behind.  He looked up as Sylvie and Angela caught up with them, both giving him matching looks in a mix of exasperation and pity.  Angela held a small cooler, while Sylvie had a ridiculously oversized bag over her shoulder, making clear the intent was to spend all day on the beach.  Loki waved everyone through, letting them get on with their day without having to wait for him.  Even Thor left him, which he hadn’t anticipated, but it made the awkward trip down the stairs feel a little less like he was on display.  By the time he caught back up with everyone on the beach, Thor had set up the sun lounger and drove the parasol into the sand so they could all hide under a bit of its shade.  Loki was just able to get himself onto the lounger, but as soon as he was settled, he knew he would not be getting himself back up.

As he grunted and groaned, trying to get comfortable on it, he caught Sylvie giving him a questioning look.  Loki responded just by rolling his eyes and shaking his head.

“Our genius baby brother hurt himself sleeping,” Angela said.

Sylvie shook her head at Loki.  “Why are you like this?” she asked.

“Don’t worry, I did it just to spite you,” he said.

Sylvie shook her head at him and turned to open the cooler.  She started passing around beers to everyone, and Loki half reached for the one that was offered to him before he changed his mind and shook his head.

“Mum might actually kill me,” he said.

“Told you,” Angela said. 

She reached into the cooler and pulled out a can of soda instead.  Annoyed that this is what his life had become, Loki took it and cracked it open.  He didn’t want soda, but he also didn’t want to sit around sulking because he was being left out of the fun.  He looked out over the water, watching the waves lazily roll over the sand.  If the weather had been any warmer, he might have been properly angry about the day’s turn of events.  But as it was, nobody was going into the water, so the only thing he was truly missing out on was getting sand all over his ass.

Holding his soda between his legs, Loki freed a cigarette from the pack and lit it.  As he settled back to enjoy the breeze, Sylvie leaned back against the side of the lounger and pulled his arm over her shoulder.  For a long while, the four of them stayed silent, watching the waves and the birds, and enjoying a peaceful moment away from the chaos at the house. 

“Hey, what was that earlier?” Angela asked, turning to Loki.  “About Daddy’s uncle?”

Loki took a deep breath, trying to decide just how petty and vindictive he was feeling.

“He’s only here for the money,” Loki said.  “Like most of these sad old fuckers.”

“The one who tried to hang you for your car?”  Thor asked with a snort.  “I’m surprised you didn’t let him have it at breakfast.”

“I should have,” Loki said, shaking his head.  “Nasty old prick.”

The closer they got to the reading, the more Loki was dreading it.  As he replayed Njord’s ridicule in his head, Loki decided petty and vindictive was exactly how he was feeling.

“I looked him up,” he said.  “He’s broke.  Lost everything during the crash.  He probably flew out here on credit to get the money as quickly as possible.”

“Lost everything?  How?” Angela asked.

Loki shook his head.  “I could only get the gist.  Something about a bank nationalising, but there were a lot of big words I didn’t know.  Apparently I need to learn how to read again.”

“God, if I went back home, I’d be so fucked,” Angela said.  “I’ve forgotten everything.”

Beside her, Thor laughed.  “Blame it on Mum and Dad.  They’re the ones who wanted us to speak English.”

Loki laughed as well.  “We don’t speak English at all unless you lot are around,” he said.  “Mum knows you can’t and doesn’t want to be rude.”

“What, seriously?” Sylvie asked.  She looked up at Loki, squinting like she didn’t believe him.  “What changed their mind?”

Loki shrugged and took another drag of his cigarette.  He could come up with a dozen reasons, none any more or less likely than the rest.

“But I do know that if that old man’s broke and sniffing around for money, he’s not the only one,” Loki said.

Sylvie twisted to face him better.  “What makes you say that?” she asked, snatching his cigarette away to take a drag.

“Half the family was involved with the banks,” Loki said.  He took his cigarette back before Sylvie could smoke it all.  “Where do you think Dad got the money to get started?”

Angela laughed suddenly as she started digging through her bag.  “Is this what you do with your free time?” she asked.  “Dig up dirt on people you haven’t seen since you were twelve?”

“Only if they insult me in front of the entire family,” Loki said.

Angela pulled a eyeglass case from her bag and opened it, and instead of sunglasses, she pulled out a joint.  Loki watched her scrabble about in her bag for a few moments before pulling his lighter from his pocket and offering it over.  She took it, and after closing the case and slipping it back into her bag, lit the joint and took a puff.

“Well, I didn’t see anything missing,” she said as she passed the joint over to Thor.  She coughed harshly and shook her head.  “But I don’t keep anything important here, and I don’t think Hela does either.”

“I’ll check ours when we go back in,” Thor said.  He shrugged and took a puff as well.

Occasionally, Loki was struck by the absurdity of seven bedrooms not being enough, and this was one of those moments.  He knew the reason he was constantly hounded about moving up was to free up his room for more space for other things.  But he liked his room, small though it was.  He liked the security that came with staying where he was.  If he left, he’d have to figure out how to do things like pay electric bills and hire help.

The joint came round to him, and he took a long puff from it.  He looked down at it in his fingers as he slowly exhaled, wondering if it might get the job done better than his painkillers had.

“Is this wedding cake?” he asked, passing it back to Angela.

She shook her head.  “Hybrid, I think.  Apple something.”

Loki shrugged as his mind drifted off to ways he could get away with smuggling anything into the house under Odin’s watchful eye.  His thoughts were quickly interrupted by the pitter-patter of small feet running down the boardwalk from the house.

“So much for not letting the kids find out,” Thor said lowly.

Vidar led the charge toward the beach, running straight past the four of them and stopping just before the surf.  He stood there, looking out over the water for a long moment before turning back toward the house and sitting in the sand.  Shortly after, Balder and Hoder bought caught up with him, taking the two of them to drag him farther from the water.

“God, I’m never having one of those,” Sylvie said.

While everyone else laughed, she took a puff from the joint and handed it back to Loki.  As soon as he brought it to his lips, he felt a great presence standing over him.  He looked up at Odin, and deciding he was apparently in the mood to fistfight God, took a puff of the joint.

“What?” he asked, holding it out for Angela to take.

He slowly exhaled the smoke as he stared right back at Odin.

“Am I some sort of joke to you?” Odin asked.

Loki shrugged.

“Daddy, it’s one joint, and he’s in pain,” Angela said.  “Don’t be such a tyrant.”

“One joint.  Vicodin.  Beer?  Where do we stop?” he asked.

Rolling his eyes, Loki held up his soda can for Odin to see.  “I’m an idiot; not completely brain-dead,” he said.

Odin looked over the four of them, before finally settling his gaze on Thor.  “I don’t want him out of your sight,” he said.  “Not for a moment.  Am I clear?”

Thor nodded.  “Fine,” he said.  “It’s not like he’s going very far on his own.”

With a displeased hum, Odin turned and left to go join the rest of the group that had come down from the house.  The four of them managed to wait until he was at least few meters away before losing the battle and laughing.

“Why do I feel like he only gave in because he didn’t want to shout in front of everyone else?” Angela said, before taking a puff and passing it along.

For some reason, Loki didn’t think she was wrong.

He couldn’t sleep, and he didn’t know why.  He’d already jerked off into a dirty shirt twice, but he couldn’t stop thinking about Sylvie on his bed, her hand on his cock.  It was wrong.  She was his sister.  His twin sister, at that.  If anyone found out what they’d done, he’d never live it down.

Sylvie probably would.  She wouldn’t even have to say anything for everyone to be convinced it had all been his idea.  She was always good at that sort of thing, while Loki was always good at catching everyone else’s punishment.

But knowing that they weren’t supposed to have done any of it only made Loki want even more to do it again.  No girl had ever shown even an ounce of interest in him, but Sylvie was right there in the room next to his.  Sylvie had been the one to ask to see his dick.  She had been the one to touch it unprompted, and then to undress herself.  Loki wondered how long she’d wanted to see him like that, only to get lucky and catch him in a moment of foggy-minded vulnerability.  He wondered if he was sick for hoping that she’d do it again.  As his thoughts once more drifted to the feeling of her around his fingers, he wondered what would happen if he dared to ask her to do it again.

The worst that would happen is she would say no.  She might have been good at getting out of trouble, but she wouldn’t seek it for herself just to get Loki into trouble.  With this in mind, Loki got out of bed and crept over to his door.  Beyond it, the house was dark and quiet.  Just next to his, Sylvie’s door sat closed, with just the faintest sliver of light shining from underneath.  Daring to take that short step, Loki quietly opened Sylvie’s door.  Peering inside, he found Sylvie in bed with a book on her knees, and headphones over her ears.  She didn’t notice him right away, until he stepped inside.  Startled, she took her headphones off as she looked up at him.

“What do you want, Loki?” she asked.

Loki quietly shut the door behind him, finding he suddenly could not form the words.

“Couldn’t sleep,” he said.

Sylvie looked at the door behind him, before staring at him in a way that made him want to turn and leave.  “Are you asking me to touch your dick again?”

Loki didn’t know why he was suddenly so embarrassed at being caught out.  He felt his face go hot, and resisted the urge to turn and flee.  “I was gonna ask if you wanted to.”

Sylvie looked up at him for a long moment, biting her lip as she considered him.

“Come here, then,” she said, setting her book aside.

Loki stepped over to her bed, surprised when she moved to lie on her back.  He climbed onto the bed, sitting on his knees by her feet, and waited to see what she was doing.

“I want to try something,” she said.

She let her knees fall open, spreading herself with obvious intent.

“Keep your pants on,” Sylvie said.

Nodding, Loki crawled over to her.  This was too much.  This wasn’t what he’d wanted, but he was hard and trembling, and she was inviting him to climb on top of her.  He stopped between her legs, looking down at her and wondering if he was really about to do this.  Then, he lowered himself onto her, letting her shift beneath him.  He couldn’t feel much between the layers of fabric between them, but then she wrapped her legs around his hips and nudged him forward, and every last reservation he had faded away.  He rutted against her, and it was so much different than anything he had ever done on his own.  Her body moving against his, her hands pulling his shirt up to rake over his skin, her legs wrapped around him and holding their bodies together.  He got lost in her, no longer caring that she was his sister.  He wasn’t inside her, so they weren’t doing anything wrong.  It was jerking off with extra steps, in a way they both wanted and liked.

Then, she moved beneath him again, and her hand found its way into his pyjamas and onto his cock, her fingers dragging along the top while her body pressed against him from beneath.  He gasped sharply at the shock of it all, and driven by a need that nearly consumed him, he used all of his weight to grind against her.  Sylvie shifted beneath him again, moving his cock to sit differently, and began moving against him as well.

“Right there?” Loki asked, barely able to keep his breath.

“Yeah, don’t stop,” Sylvie said, her voice low and breathy against his neck.

Loki choked back as much sound as he could, letting out only sharp hisses and whimpers.  The rest of the house may have been asleep, but he didn’t dare risk waking anyone.

He felt himself slowly starting to rise, and even though he wanted to slow down to make himself last, he couldn’t.

“I’m cumming,” he said, panting heavily.

He thought Sylvie might move her hand away, but she gripped him instead.  He came a moment later, making a mess inside his pyjamas and on Sylvie’s hand.  Loki didn’t realise he’d slowed until Sylvie moved her hand from his dick, and began rubbing herself through their layers of pyjamas.  He watched her get herself off, transfixed by the faces she made as she came beneath him.  Holding himself above her on shaky arms, Loki watched as she came back round to herself, her eyes heavy as she looked up at him.  As they both slowly caught their breath, Sylvie shifted beneath him and untangled her legs from around his hips.  Loki rolled off and laid down by her side, unsure what to do now.

“Give me a few minutes, and we can do that again, if you want,” he said.

Sylvie laughed.  “Only if I get to be on top,” she said.

Loki nodded.  “Okay.”

They lay together, neither saying much.  Loki wondered if Sylvie was as confused and uncertain about the whole thing as he was.  It wasn’t sex.  Their clothes had stayed on.  At the same time, something about humping his own sister didn’t feel like anything but sex.  He twisted and turned it around in his mind, but before he came to any conclusion, Sylvie sat up and threw her leg over his hips, straddling him suddenly.  Loki rolled over to be flat on his back, watching as she started moving on top of him.  He wasn’t hard yet, but it took only a few moments for his body to respond.  She moved on top of him, rolling her hips and biting her lip.  Soon, Loki was fully hard, and she reached into his pyjamas to put him right where she wanted him.  He could almost feel her spreading around his cock, even through their layers of pyjamas, and gasped at just the thought of it.

With her on top of him, he was able to touch her.  Just as she had done, he snaked his hands under her shirt, finding she didn’t wear a bra to bed.  Damning caution, he felt her breasts and squeezed and pinched her nipples, watching her gasp loudly.  Loki rolled his hips into her, imagining he was inside her, and wondering what it would look like.  He tried to imagine the sounds she might make, and how it might change the way she moved on top of him.

He forced himself to keep his eyes open as he watched her, realising that she was cumming while riding him.  She rode it out, her jaw slack as she panted heavily, but before she could still completely Loki took her by the hips and kept her moving.  Controlling her like that, it took only a few moments before he came as well, leaving the front of his pyjamas a sticky mess.

Sylvie moved off of him and settled beside him once more, still breathing heavily.  Watching her, Loki wondered if she might want to go again.

« || »

Ours to Keep #1

Loki leaned against the kitchen island, out of the way of the bustle of people who saw one another once every five years pretend to still be close and familial.  He absently swirled his drink around while he watched some sort of aunt he couldn’t even name treat Balder like he was still six years old, pinching his cheek and tousling his hair.  Loki was so focused on staying far away from any of that nonsense that he didn’t even notice Thor sneaking up on him from behind, until he was right by Loki’s side.

“I had no idea that side of the family was this big,” Thor said, picking up a bottle of rum to pour himself a drink.

“Half of them weren’t even here for the funeral,” Loki said.  “But there’s money on the line now, so of course that makes all the difference.”

“Loki, don’t be rude,” Thor said.  He fussed around with a small glass and a few cubes of ice.  “You’re right, but don’t say it out loud.”

Loki snorted and leaned close to Thor.

“I don’t even know who that is,” he said quietly, watching the continued assault on Balder.

Thor shook his head.  “I think she’s one of Granddad’s sisters in law?” he said, sounding no more confident than if he’d just made it up.

“How many did he have?” Loki asked.

Thor shrugged as he poured himself a drink that could barely be considered a cocktail.  “How should I know?  Last time I looked at the family tree, I nearly went blind.”

Loki laughed quietly, praying he was old enough and big enough to avoid any unwanted attention.  He’d been out of university for two years, but Balder was nearly done with high school and that didn’t seem to matter much.

“Do we even have room for everyone?” Thor asked.

“We’d better,” said Loki.  “I’m not sleeping on any sofas.”

“Yeah?  When are you moving out, anyway?” Thor asked, looking over at him with a smug smirk.

It was Loki’s turn to shrug.  “I don’t know,” he said.  “Depends on how much money I get.”

“Loki!” Thor said.

“What?”

They looked at one another for a long moment, in a limbo between taking Loki’s words as a joke, or taking them as behaviour in need of correction.  Loki broke first and barely stifled a laugh, which broke the spell over Thor and brought him to laugher as well.

“Don’t let Dad hear you say anything like that,” Thor said.  “He will kick your ass.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Loki said into his drink.

He’d not quite mixed it strong enough, but it didn’t feel late enough in the day to justify any truly heavy drinking.  Especially if he was going to be expected to remember anyone’s name by the end of the night.

“Where are those darling sisters of ours?” Loki asked, looking around the kitchen as if any of them might have been hiding in the corner.  “Have any of them got here yet?”

“No, because they’ve all moved out like sensible people.  They’ll probably be here later,” Thor said.

“You’re here now,” Loki said.  “What does that make you?”

“An idiot, apparently,” Thor said, staring straight ahead at the crowd.  “Because now I have to put up with you.” 

Thor turned back toward the kitchen behind them, looking over everything that had been set out in preparation, but not yet prepared.  Dinner was no doubt going to be an entire ordeal, which Loki was not at all looking forward to.  He watched Thor look at the mess spread over the counters, and could tell he was coming to the same conclusion.

“How many of those have you had?” Thor asked, nodding to Loki’s drink.

He looked down at his glass, nearly empty.  “This is my third.  Why?” he asked.

Thor poured his drink into Loki’s glass.

“Finish that, and we’ll get out of here,” he said.

With a shrug, Loki downed the entire drink in one and sat the glass down on the counter with a heavy thunk.  As he turned to sneak out of the kitchen with Thor, Loki pulled his keys from his pocket and offered them over.  For a moment, Thor only stared at him, holding his hand out cautiously.

“Come on, I know you want to,” Loki said.

Grinning widely, Thor snatched the keys out of Loki’s hand and turned toward the stairs.  They slipped past the crowd and down to the ground floor, sneaking through one of the back doors to the garage.  Alongside their father’s Lexus, and their mother’s Mercedes was an antique roadster in British Racing Green, and the newest addition to the fleet.  Thor immediately trotted over to it and unlocked the door, only to stop when he noticed the lack of a steering wheel.

“No,” he said, slowly walking around the old Jaguar.  “It’s right hand?  How much did you pay for this?”

Loki chuckled as he slowly made his way over.  “Two-fifty,” he said.  “Most expensive pain in the ass ever.”

He settled into the passenger seat, still not used to it being on the wrong side, and slid it back as far as it would go.

“All original.  Even these stupid things,” he said, picking up one of the ends of the lap belt and gesturing with it.  “I’m thinking of having new ones retrofitted.”

“You should,” Thor said as he got behind the wheel and adjusted the mirror.  “You roll this one, and you won’t walk away.”

Loki grumbled, because he knew Thor was right.  As Thor fiddled and adjusted everything, Loki dutifully buckled himself in and lit a cigarette.  Once he was finally settled, Thor started the ignition, letting the engine rev and growl for a few moments.

“Watch the revs,” Loki said, pointing to the dash panel.  “It overheats like a bitch.”

Thor reached for the fob attached to the sun visor and opened the garage door, letting it reach its top height before pulling out into the drive.  Letting Thor deal with the gate and everything else, Loki leaned back into his seat to enjoy his cigarette and the breeze on his face.  At first, he didn’t pay much attention as they drove down the row of houses that lined the narrow island.  Heading to the mainland was inevitable if they wanted to find anything worth leaving the house for, but Loki’s first clue that something wasn’t right was when Thor took the wrong exit off the roundabout in town.

“Hang on, you missed your turn,” Loki said, turning back over his shoulder to make sure he hadn’t got confused.

“No, there’s nothing I want around here,” Thor said.

Loki snorted and leaned back into his seat.

“Oh, it’s a death trap, but you still want to take it for a joy ride,” he said before taking a drag of his cigarette.

“I want to see what a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar death trap rides like before you kill yourself with it,” Thor said.

Loki rolled his eyes and watched the road ahead of them as they made their way through the quiet neighbourhood, with houses all set back off the road and hidden by trees and shrubbery.  The narrow, two-lane road barely gave any room on the side before falling into a shallow ditch at places, which only seemed to call attention to the Jaguar’s original suspension.

“You have a go at me about rolling this thing.  Slow the hell down,” Loki said.  He took one last drag of his cigarette before snuffing it out in the ash tray.  “I’m not gonna let you wreck it before I do.”

Thor laughed, but humoured him all the same and eased off the speed.  Loki relaxed back into his seat, watching neighbourhoods pass by as wispy clouds rolled by overhead.  They passed plenty more options as Thor drove on, taking them past the airport and eventually over the highway.

“Where the hell are we going?” Loki said, turning in his seat to watch the cars speed by below.

“I don’t know,” Thor said evasively.

They rode through the preserve and into another neighbourhood, and as they came to another large roundabout, Loki realised exactly where Thor was going.

“Oh, no,” he said, sitting up again.  “I draw the line at McDonald’s.  You’re not stinking everything up with that shit.”

Thor shrugged.  “The roof’s down,” he said.

“No,” Loki said.

With an overly dramatic sigh, Thor turned away from McDonald’s and continued on his path past even more options that were apparently too good for him now that he lived in the city.  It was obvious where he was heading, but at least Taco Bell wouldn’t reek and set into the upholstery.  While Loki sulked, Thor drove on, taking them past still more options that were infinitely better.

“Oh, shit,” Thor said, turning his head sharply.  “I missed it, didn’t I?”

Loki turned as well to look as they cruised through an intersection.  “Yep,” he said.

Instead of turning around, Thor took them in a large loop around back to what passed for a main road in a bid that didn’t seem entirely accidental.

“You know it’s going to be cold by the time we get home,” Loki said as Thor pulled into the parking lot.

“If we bring enough for the girls it won’t matter,” Thor said.  “Because then we won’t have to have dinner with everyone else.”

Loki shrugged at Thor’s irritatingly sound logic, and sat back while he listened to his brother shout over him to order half the menu.  Loki knew it would have been easier for him to just order, being on the appropriate side of the car, but he spitefully kept quiet in protest of the whole damn thing.  In charge of holding everything on the way back, Loki found himself drifting in and out of a light nap, woken only by the passing of trucks in the opposite lane, or hard bumps that rattled his spine.  Eventually, they made it back to the island, and to a few more cars parked in the drive.  With the garage now blocked off, Thor parked amongst the rest and helped Loki bring everything in.  Rather than going upstairs back to the kitchen and the chaos, they took everything instead to the small sitting room just beyond the foyer.  It was an open room, with a sofa on either side, and a large glass sliding door that looked out over the beach in the distance, and Loki hated it.  The door threw glare on the TV mounted on the wall above one of the sofas, and the room was too wide to have a comfortable conversation, but too small for anything else.  It was also the only room that wasn’t already stuffed full of people, or someone’s bedroom, so it would have to do.

Although it didn’t take long for someone to find them.  Thankfully, it was one of the people they wanted to be found by, as Sylvie wandered into the room with a gasp.

“There you two are,” she said, walking over to Thor.

She accepted one of his bone-crushing bear hugs with minimal fuss before stepping away and leaning back out to the foyer.

“Angie, I found them!” she shouted.

Without waiting for Angela, Sylvie joined Loki on the couch, crowding into his space so she could start digging through everything they’d brought.  Loki didn’t know what half of it was, and thought even less seemed appealing, but he’d been the fool to go anywhere with Thor behind the wheel.

“It’s cold,” Sylvie said, looking at Loki like it was his fault.

“Don’t blame me.  He’s the one who wanted to take an hour to go get food,” Loki said.

A moment later, Angela wandered into the room.  She paused at the door to look at the scene in front of her, with the three of them crammed onto one sofa, before deciding to sit down on the other sofa by herself.

“Where’s Hela?” Thor asked, looking up from a suspicious mystery box.

Angela shook her head.  “She didn’t want to come.  But she never did like Granddad anyway.”

Loki shrugged.  “She might be the only one who showed up for the funeral and skipped the reading,” he said.

He settled on something that looked mildly appetising and leaned back into the sofa, letting Sylvie continue to crowd his space.

“I only came because this one needed a ride,” Angela said, nodding toward Sylvie.

“Well, our type don’t exactly do public transit, even if we wanted to,” Sylvie said, leaning heavily against Loki’s chest as she picked apart a burrito.

“That’s why I’m never moving to the city,” Loki said.  “I need my car.”

“No, you’re never moving to the city because you’d have to pay for your own insurance,” Angela said.  “What are Mummy and Daddy paying to keep you on the road?”

Loki shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I’m not the one paying it,” he said.

“Awh,” Sylvie whined sarcastically.  “Baby brother doesn’t want to leave the nest yet.”

She used her thumb to wipe a bit of sauce from Loki’s lip, and then licked it off her finger.

“God, why are twins so fucking weird?” Angela said.

Thor looked up at them, and shook his head.  “I don’t think they’re weird because they’re twins,” he said.  “I think they’re weird because they’re adopted.”

“You’re both just jealous,” Sylvie said.  “All those years between you, all you ever did was fight.”

Loki rolled his eyes, resisting the urge to call everyone an idiot. 

“Jealous?” Angela asked.  “More like wondering where his supposed girlfriend is.”

“The librarian?” Thor asked, looking between the two of them.  “Yeah, what happened to her?  She was nice.”

Loki snorted.  “We broke up.  A while ago,” he said.  “Well.  She broke up with me.  Made a whole scene of it, screaming on the sidewalk and everything.”

Angela laughed.  “What the hell did you do?”

“You know,” Loki said, looking over at her.  “I still don’t know.”

“Fucking liar,” Angela said.

Loki stared at her for a long moment, saying nothing, before finally turning to Thor.

“Who else is coming?” he asked, hoping to steer the conversation elsewhere.

“Roger’s probably driving in tomorrow, and I think Tyr’s flight gets in tomorrow evening,” Thor said.  “And I think I heard Mum say Hermod couldn’t get out of classes.”

Angela sighed a she got up to dig through the absurd amount of cold Taco Bell on the table.

“I think he and Hela made the right choice,” she said, picking something at random.  “You think I can sneak off without being caught?”

“I’ll take Sylvie back home,” Loki said.  He looked down at her sprawled over his chest.  “If I’d known she needed a ride, I’d have come and got her.  Go home if you don’t want to be here.”

Angela sat down heavily, leaning sideways to take up the entire sofa to herself.  “If it were only your permission I needed, I’d already be gone,” she said.

Loki shrugged.  He looked around for the remote to turn on the TV, but it seemed to have once again walked away.  And even if it hadn’t, the sun was just at the right angle to be shining right on the screen anyway. 

“When do you want to go home?” he asked Sylvie.

Sylvie shrugged and twisted to look up at him.  “I don’t know.  I don’t exactly need to be anywhere until next week.”

Loki nodded.  “All right.”

He let his hand fall to her shoulder, and tried not to make a mess while holding onto his toasted taco thing with his off hand. 

“We should go down to the beach tomorrow,” Thor said.  “The weather’s been warm enough.”

“Just don’t let any of the kids know,” Loki said, not at all looking forward to the prospect of babysitting.

“Don’t let the kids know what?” Frigga asked.

Loki hadn’t heard her walk in, nor noticed her in the room until she spoke.  He looked up at her, with their youngest sister on her hip, and quickly ran through his options.

“We’re all gonna do heroin and go to a rave,” he said.

While Frigga frowned deeply at him, Thor smacked him hard in the shoulder.  Loki tried to lean away from him, but with Sylvie still sprawled all over him and pinning him down, there wasn’t anywhere for him to go.

“I don’t like these jokes,” Frigga said.  “And they are jokes, I hope.”

Loki tried to juggle his food with rubbing the spot where Thor had hit him.  “Yes, Mother.  Only joking.”

Frigga hummed, clearly not finding any of it funny.  Shaking her head, she turned her attention away from Loki, and toward Angela.

“Angela, I need you and Sylvie to share a room tonight,” Frigga said.

Sylvie huffed.  “Mummy,” she complained.  “My bed’s not big enough for both of us.  Even if she wasn’t eight foot tall.”

“Hey,” Angela said.

“Sylvie, please,” Frigga said, suddenly sounding very tired.

“Why not them?” Sylvie asked, gesturing to Thor and Loki.

“Because boys don’t want to share a bed,” Frigga said.  “And we don’t have a bed big enough for both of them even if they did.”

Sylvie looked up at Loki, pouting dramatically.  “Are you sure you’re a boy today?”

Loki pretended to think hard about the question.  “Mmm.  Yeah, pretty sure,” he said.  He took a moment to properly consider the question, and then shrugged and nodded at the same time.

Angela sat up quickly, holding both hands into the air as though she were surrendering.

“Why don’t I just go home?” she asked, shaking her head up at Frigga.  “I don’t need to be here for this, do I?”

Frigga sighed deeply, and looked at Laussa in her arms.

“Fine,” she said after a moment.  “You’re right.  And you’ve already eaten anyway, so…”

She shook her head and turned away, leaving the four of them behind.

“I’m sorry,” she said to someone in the foyer.  “The kids are—”

“Being kids who have just lost their grandfather,” some distant relative said.  “It’s fine.  We’ll cope.”

Loki looked over at Thor as the voices from the foyer faded.

“I am not sharing a bed with you,” he said.

While Sylvie stifled a laugh, Angela wrapped up her meal and stood.

“Well, it’s been fun, weirdos.  But I am getting the hell out of here,” she said.

“Bye, sis,” Sylvie said, waving.  “Come back for the beach tomorrow.”

Rolling her eyes as dramatically as she could, Angela strode out of the room and straight to the front door before anyone else could stop her.  Loki watched her go, glad to be out from under her constant scrutiny.

“I know where to find a rave.  Who’s got the heroin?” Loki asked suddenly.

Thor smacked him again and got up to move to the other sofa.

“Mum’s right.  You shouldn’t joke about that,” he said.

“I am a grown-ass adult, and I will joke about whatever I please, thank you,” Loki said.

Sylvie leaned into him, stifling a laugh against his chest.  “You’re on something, aren’t you?”

Loki hummed, considering the question.  “A bit buzzed.  Not as much as I’d like to be.”

“Oh, you didn’t hear?” Thor asked.

Sylvie sat up to look at him and shook her head.  “No?” she said.  “Hear what?”

Thor shook his head as well.  “Tell her how your Tesla got wrapped around a tree,” he said.

Loki took a deep breath, and then took a sudden interest in what was left of his taco thing.  “No, I’d rather not,” he said, before stuffing the rest into his mouth.

“The only reason he’s not in jail for all the coke in his system was because Dad knew the judge,” Thor said.  “And then they go and buy him an E-Type.”

Loki shook his head.  “I did one bump.  And I paid for the Jag.  Not them.  It was my bad luck that there was a deer in the road.”

Sylvie gaped up at him, shaking her head.

“The only reason he gets away with drinking is because Dad doesn’t want the whole house dry, and it’s easier to give in than deal with him stealing the key to the liquor cabinet,” Thor said.

Loki shrugged.  “That was his choice.  Not mine.”

“The best part is this stupid son of a bitch walked halfway home before someone found him,” Thor said.

“Loki,” Sylvie said, no longer amused with this story.  “How stupid can you be?”

“What?” asked Loki.  “I was fine.”

“What if you weren’t?” Sylvie asked.

“What if nothing,” Loki said.  “It doesn’t matter, because nothing happened.  Don’t worry about it.”

Sylvie stared up at him.  “I’m worried,” she said.

Loki shrugged, not sure how to get out of this situation.  “I’m sorry.  It won’t happen again,” he said.

“Good.  It better not,” Sylvie said.

She sat up, putting some distance between them.  Loki stared at her for a moment, but it was clear she’d been pissed off by Thor’s little revelation.  Loki turned to him, not entirely sure what the point had been.

“Thanks, dick,” he said, getting up.

“Where are you going?” Thor asked.

“To bed,” Loki said.

Thor looked out the window.  “It’s like, four o’clock,” he said as Loki walked out of the room.

“Don’t care,” Loki said.

Most of the bedrooms were on the ground floor, and his was on the far end of the hall.  He walked inside and locked the door behind him out of habit, before turning to unlock it again.  Loki paused just long enough to kick his shoes across the floor before flinging himself onto his bed in a heap.  A moment later, he rolled over onto his side to grab the remote from the night stand and turn on the TV, not particularly wanting to watch anything at all.  With the heavy curtains over his windows, his room stayed cool and dark, making the light from the screen seem all the brighter.

He idly flipped through channels, not staying on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.  Even with several hundred of them, there was never anything on, and Loki wondered how that worked.  He cycled through everything again and again, until the light faded completely from behind the curtains and he needed to turn on the light strip around his ceiling so he could see anything he was doing.  When his door opened without warning, Loki didn’t even look up.  There was a time when being barged in on would have sent him into a fit, but that time had rapidly become a thing of the past.

He ignored Odin as he turned on the overhead lights and gazed around the room with a critical squint.

“Will you be joining us for supper?” he asked after a long moment.

Loki didn’t stop his endless channel surfing.  “No,” he said.  “Thor has decided to air my dirty laundry, and I don’t care to be present for it.”

“Anything else?” Odin asked.

Loki looked up at him, shaking his head.  “No?” he said, trying to figure out what he was being accused of this time.

“That’s not the impression your mother gives,” Odin said.

Just once, Loki wished other people could just not.  Not say anything, not do anything.  Just not.  Grumbling quietly, he fell onto his back and stared up at the ceiling.

“It was a very poor joke, because I didn’t want to say we were planning on going to the beach in front of Laussa,” Loki said slowly.

Odin only stood silent, maintaining his critical stare across the room.  After a long moment of silence between them, Loki threw his hands into the air.

“Go ahead.  Whatever,” he said, wishing Odin would get it over with and start digging through his drawers.

He knew Odin was fucking with him by remaining where he stood.  But if he expected to sweat anything out of Loki, he’d be waiting for an awfully long time.  Loki let him know by rolling back onto his side to face the television again, and resumed his channel surfing.

“I’ll ask you to reconsider joining us for supper,” Odin said, before turning around and walking out of the room.

He left Loki’s light on, and the door open behind him, a clear message of expectations that Loki wasn’t terribly keen on ignoring.  He let it be, not caring if he bothered anyone.  He wasn’t the one who wanted his door open in the first place.  Rather than reconsidering his decision, Loki stayed right where he was.  With his door open, he could hear supper eventually winding down, and the gradual scattering of people to their assigned beds for the week.  Part of him knew he ought to have felt bad for not giving his room up to some middle-aged relative he’d met once when he was eight, but he was feeling entirely too resentful to care at all.

Eventually, Odin returned, surprising Loki not by barging in again but by closing his door so nobody else had to listen to whatever garbage he passed over on the television.  Only then did he get up to put out the light and dress for bed, putting on a pair of flannel pyjamas and an old threadbare dressing gown he’d stolen from Roger almost ten years earlier.  As he lay back down in bed, Loki turned the volume down low enough to be able to hear beyond his door.  Not paying attention to the television at all, Loki waited and listened to every last bump and scrape as everyone got settled, and then gave it an extra half hour for good measure.  Only then did he turn off the television and slowly get to his feet.  As he opened his door, he waited and listened for a few moments longer, making certain the house was quiet.  Aside from someone snoring in the sitting room off the foyer, the house was still, so he crept out of his room and into the hall.

He made it only a couple steps to his left before reaching Sylvie’s door next to his.  Loki slowly and quietly opened the door, making sure it didn’t creak as he slipped inside, and closed it behind him.  Sylvie’s room was dark, but he could hear her sleeping soundly in bed.  On his way to the bed, Loki shed his dressing gown and let it drop onto a chair, before sliding under the blankets behind Sylvie.  He settled into place beside her, wrapping his arm around her waist and holding her close against his body, just feeling her breathing softly.

When it was clear she was not going to wake on her own, Loki brushed her hair out of the way to give him access to her neck.  He pressed a trail of kisses down from her ear to where her shirt fell over her shoulder.  As his hand found its way beneath her shirt, Loki rolled his hips against her, already hard with anticipation.  Finally, Sylvie stirred with a quiet groan, barely twisting to look back at him.

“Loki, what do you want?” she asked, reaching back to scrape her fingers across the back of his neck.

“Depends on whether you’re still mad at me,” he said, drawing another trail of kisses up her neck.

“I’m not mad,” Sylvie said, tilting her head to expose more of her neck to him.  “I just can’t believe how stupid you are sometimes.”

He cupped her breast in his hand, squeezing it in time as he rolled his hips against her, letting his dick rub against the curve of her ass.

“It wasn’t as bad as he makes it sound,” Loki said against her skin.  “A cop picked me up and took me to hospital.  I was home by morning.  I wasn’t even high, but the legal limit for coke is none.”

Sylvie hummed as arched into Loki, holding onto the back of his neck to keep him close.

“Fine.  I’m not mad,” she said.

Loki moved to roll on top of her, settling between her legs so he could rut against her properly while he explored her body with his mouth and his hands.  He breathed heavily against her skin, practised at keeping quiet even so a house full of people wouldn’t hear him.  His mouth found hers, and he delved deep with his tongue, wanting to taste every bit of her.  He let his fingers trail over her body, feeling her move beneath him as her own hands scraped light trails down his chest.

She kissed him back, taking him in and tasting him at the same time.  She moved against his body in time with him, falling into a familiar rhythm as she hummed against his lips.  Loki felt the swell of her breast beneath his hand, able to feel her breath hitching each time he moved into her.  She had been gone for far too long, and Loki couldn’t wait a moment longer.  He propped himself up on one hand so he could lean over her and coax her bedside drawer open, fumbling blindly inside until his fingers found what he was after.  He unwrapped the small package, mindful of where he tossed the wrapper, before sitting up enough to pull himself free from his pyjamas and roll the condom over his dick.  She never wore anything more than an oversized T-shirt to bed, and as he draped himself back over her, he let his cock slide over her cunt with only the thin layer between them.  For a few moments more he rutted against her while he trailed kisses down the other side of her neck, before finally bucking his hips and entering her.  Sylvie hummed sharply against his ear as she wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him close against her body.  Loki kept his jaw clenched tightly as he slowly rolled into her, straining against every sound he wanted to make.  He muffled himself against her neck, while she panted and moaned softly against his ear.

“Oh, just there,” she said, arching her body into him.  “Don’t stop.”

Loki struggled to keep the same rhythm as he let himself get lost in her voice.

“Right there baby,” she said, her voice pitching higher as she spoke in his ear.  “Come on.”

She moaned, high and strangled as she choked off her own sounds in her throat.  Loki let himself pick up the pace bit by bit, letting her pitch guide him as each noise was higher and breathier than the last.  She wrapped her legs around his hips and held tightly to his shoulders as she arched into him, silently panting through her orgasm.

“Oh, just like that,” she said with one final gasp before her breathing began to slow.

Loki let himself go then, biting his lip as he fucked her fast and hard, cumming just a few moments later with a stifled grunt against her neck.  He let himself slow, still rutting into her as he spent and tried to catch his breath.  Light headed and dizzy, he finally rolled off of her and fell onto his back by her side, listening to her breathing slow back down.

“I can’t believe you moved out,” he said, still panting.

“One of us had to,” Sylvie said.  “And it was never going to be you.”

Loki wanted to argue, but she was right.  He wanted to stay and hold her in his arms, but he knew the risk was too great.  Instead, he slowly caught his breath and sat up, letting his feet fall off the side of the bed.

“I’d love to stay,” he said slowly, staring at the floor in front of him.  “But Dad’s taken to checking up on me.”

Sylvie let her hand trail down his back, catching her fingers in his waistband before pulling away.  A moment later, she wrapped her arm around him to press the condom wrapper into his hand.

“Go,” she said.  “We’ll find time tomorrow.”

Nodding, Loki got up and pulled his pyjamas back up before grabbing his dressing gown.  Making sure he was put back together, he quietly opened the door and listened to any signs of motion on the other side.  Finding the coast clear, Loki slipped out of Sylvie’s room and into the bathroom directly across from his door to dispose of the evidence before returning to bed.

They sat on Loki’s bed together, passing the controller back and forth each time one of them lost.  Loki wasn’t terribly into the game and kept losing terribly, finding himself distracted by a sudden arousal that came out of nowhere.  It was far from the first time it had happened, but with his sister sitting just an arm’s reach away, he wasn’t sure what to do about it.

As long as Sylvie’s attention was on the screen, he thought she might not notice the obvious tent in his pyjamas.  Still, having his dick standing straight up wasn’t exactly subtle, so he tried to move to hide it.  But without any underwear to help hold it down, his dick continued to stand tall and obvious.  Still, he shifted and tried to find a way to hide it, quickly realising he’d have been better off if he’d just stayed still.  Sylvie looked over at him, confused at first, and then obviously startled as her gaze fell to his dick.

“Uhm.  Loki?” she asked, not even trying to look away.  “Whatch’ya doing there?”

Loki glared down at his dick.  “Yeah, it’s not on purpose,” he said.

She’d already noticed, so he gave up and reached into his pyjamas, trying to find a way to settle himself.

“It just happens sometimes.”  He could feel the heat rising in his face, threatening to choke him.

“What?  Just at random?” she asked.  “Like, you’re listening to Mr Davis talk about the Civil War and that turns you on?”

“No,” Loki said quickly.  “It doesn’t turn me on.”

Sylvie snorted.  “But it does happen like that?”

Loki looked away, glaring at the wall so he didn’t have to look at Sylvie struggling not to laugh.

“I’ve never seen one hard before,” she said suddenly.

Loki looked over at her, certain he’d misheard her.  “What?” he asked.

She nodded toward his barely-concealed dick.

“What does it look like?” she asked.

“Why don’t you ask your boyfriend?” Loki asked.

Sylvie shrugged.  “He was boring, so I broke up with him.  All he wanted to do was hold hands.”

Loki looked to the door, closed off to the rest of the house.  Everyone else would have been asleep, and nobody made a habit of bursting in unannounced regardless.   There were far too many boys in the house for anyone to want to take that risk.  With a deep breath, Loki shifted and hooked his thumbs into the waistband of his pyjamas.

“Just don’t tell anyone,” he said.

“I won’t,” Sylvie said, shaking her head quickly.  “I just want to see it.”

Suddenly trembling, Loki pulled himself free, letting his dick stand up against his waistband.  He watched Sylvie’s face as her eyebrows rose and she bit her lip, clearly trying to process what she was looking at.  Being so exposed, and to his twin sister no less, Loki felt his entire body go hot with embarrassment.  Then, Sylvie moved closer, crowding Loki enough to make him want to back away.

“Can I touch it?” she asked quietly.

Loki watched her for a long moment, unsure about anything.

“It’ll spit at you,” he said.

Sylvie finally tore her eyes away from his dick to look at his face.  “Like a camel?” she asked.

Loki shrugged.  “No.  Kind of?”

She didn’t ask again.  Sylvie reached out and dragged her finger over the head of his cock, drawing a harsh, inward hiss from him.  Nobody had ever touched it before, and her touch was far more intense than he had expected.  She pulled her hand away quickly, looking up at him.

“Sorry.  Did that hurt?” she asked.

Loki shook his head and tried to find his voice.  “No,” he said finally, wanting to turn away and crawl into the wall to hide.  “It was… it was really nice.”

She drew her fingers over his cock again, stretching the skin over the shaft and pulling it tight.  Loki took her hand in his, moving her fingers to lightly cage his cock and moved her hand so her fingers stroked over just the tip.

“Like that,” Loki said, already struggling to maintain his composure.

She continued the motion, watching his face as his eyes fell heavy.  He rose to her touch with alarming speed, coming with a sharp gasp after only a few strokes.  Panting quietly, he looked up at her as she pulled her hand away to look at the cum on her fingers.

“Sorry,” he said, pulling his pyjamas back up to cover himself.

Loki twisted around to find something she could clean off with.  Finding only a dirty t-shirt, he picked it up from the floor and handed it over.  Wrinkling her nose, Sylvie wiped her hand clean and tossed the shirt back to the floor.  Then, she leaned back and started pulling down her own pyjamas.

“What are you doing?” Loki asked quickly.

She shrugged.  “You showed me yours,” she said.

Again, Loki’s attention shifted to the door, but then Sylvie’s pyjamas were on the bed beside him, and she was sitting back in her panties.  Biting his lip, and having never seen a girl that wasn’t in a stolen magazine, he nodded.  Sylvie pulled her panties off, exposing herself to him, and leaned back.  In that moment, Loki realised he had no idea what to do.  He knew that if she weren’t his sister, he was supposed to get on top of her and put his dick inside her.  But they weren’t doing that, and he didn’t want to get on top of his sister.  Still, he moved closer to get a better look, daring to reach out and touch.  He watched as she bit her lip, looking up at him with a new hesitancy about her.  Cautiously, Loki reached out and used his fingers to spread her apart and get a better look. 

“Show me,” he said, suddenly curious to see how she touched herself.

Sylvie brought her hand between her legs, and used her fingers on herself.  She pressed them against her clit, rubbing against it in circles.  Sitting in front of her as he was, the angle felt strange, so Loki moved to sit behind her, pulling her so she rested against his back.

“Like this?” he asked, moving his hand to take her place.

“Yeah,” Sylvie said, holding his hand where she wanted it.

She guided him, using his fingers on herself and started to writhe against him.  She breathed loudly as she moved against him, drawing Loki’s attention to her chest.  He’d noticed her chest before, but she was his sister and until this moment, she had not been anyone he thought of like that.  But now, he watched as her breasts moved as she breathed and moved against him, and he found himself taken by the urge to reach up and feel one.  He moved his hand cautiously, expecting her to recoil at her touch.  Instead, she grabbed his hand against her breast and held it there, encouraging him to squeeze.  He could feel himself stirring again, his dick pressing against her back and getting hard once more, and he was now struck by a dilemma.  He only had so many hands, and more things that he wanted to do with them.  He let himself roll his hips against her, but stopped himself a moment later.  She had used her hand on him, and his hands were all over her body, but somehow rutting against her was a bit much.

Suddenly, Sylvie grabbed the hand on her cunt and guided it, pressing him into her in sharp, deliberate motions.  She pulled his hand until two of his fingers were inside her.  Loki didn’t know what he’d expected, but she was hot and slick, coating his fingers a thick fluid.  She rolled her hips against him as she started panting, her mouth open and slack, making strained noises.  Then, she went stiff against him for a moment, before going slack and letting her whole weight lean against him.

“Wow,” she said after a moment.

She sat up slowly and grabbed her panties.  Loki expected her to put them on, but instead she wiped herself clean with them and tossed them onto the floor with his shirt.  As she started to put her pyjamas back on, she noticed Loki was once again hard, but this time she didn’t say anything.  Loki wasn’t sure what to do with the mess on his hand, so he wiped it off onto his pyjamas while ignoring her gaze.

“How many times can you do that?” Sylvie asked.

Loki shook his head and shrugged.  “My record’s six,” he said.

“In one night?” Sylvie asked.

“I fell asleep in math the next day,” Loki said, nodding.  “But yeah.”

“I want to see you do it,” Sylvie said.

She watched him as he once again hitched his waistband down.  He was already fully hard by the time he took himself in hand, but being watched so intently made everything different.  He was on display, having to perform, and he found it difficult to to take much pleasure at all from the act.  Loki settled down to lean against the wall, legs splayed in front of him, and closed his eyes.  It was always more difficult to get going the second time, and with the added pressure on top, he had to focus more than he liked.

He finally came with a startled jolt, still stroking along his cock until everything spilled out over his fingers.  As he opened his eyes, Loki looked up to see Sylvie still watching him, curious and intent.  He put himself together and leaned over the bed to pick up the same discarded t-shirt to clean himself with.  Tossing it back to the floor, he dared to look at Sylvie once more, surprised that her curiosity had not yet turned to disgust.

Loki felt like it should have.  There was nothing right about what they’d just done.  But she had been the one to start it, so perhaps he ought to have been the one disgusted.

“I didn’t know that’s what it looked like,” Sylvie said after a moment.

“I’ve seen pictures.  But nothing real,” Loki said.

He wasn’t sure what to say after that.  He watched as Sylvie nodded slowly, and then got up, bending to pick up her panties.

“Are you leaving?” Loki asked.

Sylvie turned to him and shrugged.  “Dunno what else to do,” she said.

Loki nodded.  He wasn’t going to insist otherwise, knowing she probably felt just as uncomfortable about what had just happened as he did.  After a moment, Sylvie nodded as well and slipped out of his room, leaving him to contemplate it all by himself.

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Ours to Keep

Ours to Keep (Word Count TBD) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 4/?
Fandom: Thor, Loki (TV)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Underage, Dubcon
Pairings: Loki/Sylvie
Characters: Loki, Sylvie, Thor, Angela, Odin, Frigga

Summary: After Bor’s death, the entire family manage to make it into town for the will reading. It’s only been a few months since Loki had a close call with a car accident he probably should not have survived, which only adds to the tension of having too many people in a house with not enough beds.

But the funny thing about death is it has a way of unveiling all sorts of secrets, whether or not they have anything to do with the deceased. And for Loki and Sylvie, this has the potential to be catastrophic.

Note: This fic is being posted as a kinkmeme fill.  It may get edited at a later date.

 

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Starve to Death with Dignity #2

As far as gilded cages went, his own chambers were the best possible outcome.  He was afforded the privacy and comfort he needed to solve his other problem, which he wished so desperately that Odin had not revealed.  He didn’t understand why Odin had showed it to him at all, and understood even less why Odin left it up to him to deal with.  He clearly had a working that did the job, and didn’t force Loki to confront this brand new reality. 

He avoided the looking glass, and wore gloves to cover his hands so he did not have to see the blue tones of his flesh.  It was one thing to hide his appearance and simply appear Æsir, but he didn’t want that.  He wanted something fixed, that would stay in place without requiring will or concentration.  He wanted something that wouldn’t fade when he fell asleep, which he could put on, and never take off or acknowledge again for as long as he lived.

Short of outright cursing himself, which was tempting in itself, he could find no such working.  He found something which came close, and hid him without requiring constant concentration.  It would fail on it under the right—or wrong—circumstances, but he could look at his own reflection and not want to smash it.  That alone was a success.

But it didn’t solve his other problem, which kept him locked up in the first place.  Even with a disguise in place, he still did not dare try to leave the confines and safety of his own chambers, because he knew what would happen if he did.  And it seemed Odin still trusted him to carry out certain duties, as work was brought to him each morning, and picked up for delivery each evening.  He pretended not to notice that the slight ginger woman who used to service his chambers had been replaced by a man, but Loki was grateful for it.  It gave him one less distraction, and something to do and focus on that wasn’t an unsolvable problem. 

And unsolvable was precisely what it was.  Even locked away in seclusion, he still could not escape whatever was happening to him.  He found himself constantly distracted by his own lust, unable to complete even the simplest of tasks until he took himself in hand, often multiple times.  His hand never seemed good enough, and he took no pleasure from it.  It was more like scratching a painful itch, or squeezing a stretched and bruised muscle; a pain that was a relief only because it brought a different sort of pain as a distraction.

As a gentle breeze rolled through his windows, Loki stood lean out and breathe some fresh air, hoping it might at least lessen his urges somehow.  But he was immediately hard again, and almost wept for it.  He looked out over the courtyard, wondering if the fall from the window might have been enough to put himself out of his misery.  And then, finally, he saw the source of his frustration.  An overlooked detail he had always known, and forgotten.  In another wing of the palace, across the courtyard, his window looked straight into Freyja’s chambers.  He could see her from where he stood, lounging casually with several other women.  None of them had noticed him, but that didn’t matter.  He looked all around the courtyard between them, and the sheer walls, trying to find any way across.  Then he remembered.  He didn’t need a way across.  He could simply step from one shadow to the next, and—

He stepped back from the window, horrified at his own thoughts. 

Step from one shadow to the next, and what?  Rape Freyja before an audience?  He didn’t even know why he had become so fixated on her, but something needed to be done about it.  He forced himself to take another step back and turn.  One step at a time, he made his way on shaky knees through his chambers and to his door, throwing it open to face the guards outside.

“I need to be moved,” he said, barely able to keep his voice level as his breath came ragged and heavy.  “Now.”

The guards looked at one another, silently conversing before one of them nodded.  They grabbed him by the arms, holding him as though they expected him to try to struggle and flee, and he was grateful for it.  He wanted to struggle and flee, and had to resist the urge to do so even as he was led forcefully along a path he should have been taken the first time.  Finding himself dragged down to the dungeons came of no surprise at all, though the prepared cell they took him to was a surprise.  Odin had anticipated this, and whether it was intended as punishment or not, Loki knew it was all he deserved.  He let the guards lock him into the warded cage, praying it was enough.

Unable to stand much longer, Loki collapsed onto the bed and once again let his hand wander into his breeches.  He didn’t even care if he had an audience, or what that audience might think.  He would simply explode if he couldn’t find a way to end this insanity.  And since that wasn’t possible, the next best thing was to at least relieve himself of his current condition.  But his cock did not want his hand, neither the gentle touch, nor a tight grip along the shaft, and even though each stroke only deepened his ache, he could not stop.  When he finally spent, it was as though a punch to the gut; a deep pain that brought no pleasure.  His face twisted in agony and shame, Loki stared up at the ceiling above and waited for the urge to consume him once more.  But this time, it seemed to have at least been sated, and as the ache in his belly slowly faded, Loki rolled over onto his side and tried to find solace in sleep.

Loki woke, not knowing if it was from a quick nap or a deep slumber.  He didn’t care either way.  He had barely stopped himself from doing something unforgivable, and for it he knew he would never see daylight again.  And yet, he was curious all the same.  Surely, every single man on Jötunheimr did not spend his days acting like a feral beast.  They had their customs, which now did not seem strange at all, but Loki refused to believe this was all he had to look forward to for the rest of his life.

His cell had been furnished comfortably, in anticipation for his arrival.  Loki hoped Odin had anticipated him making this decision on his own, as he had, and that it had not been arranged in the expectation that Loki would do something regrettable.  Either way, it was his now, and likely all he would ever know again.  He rose from the bed and leaned over the small desk next to the bed, finding a sheet of parchment and a quill.  He scribbled down instructions on the parchment and folded it, realising there was no wax with which to seal it against prying eyes.  Sighing, he decided it didn’t matter.  No matter what story Odin spun, the truth had surely got out all the same.  If his message was read, it contained no information that wasn’t already likely public knowledge.

He took the parchment to the cell’s barrier and peered out along the corridor, finding a guard nearby.

“Have this delivered to the library,” Loki said, holding up the folded parchment.

The guard looked at him for a long moment before stepping forward and opening the barrier just enough to take the note.  He didn’t leave until Loki dismissed him with a nod, which itself came as an odd surprise.  But he hadn’t been brought to the dungeons in punishment.  It was insurance, and he strove to remember that.  With nothing to do to pass the time, Loki returned to the small bed in the corner and waited.  His request from the library was filled with surprising haste, and the guard returned trailed by one of the few male librarians in the palace’s employ, his arms stacked with books and scrolls.  The guard opened the barrier again, and the man stepped into the cell and brought the stack closer to the desk.  Once everything was settled, he bowed to Loki and retreated in obvious haste.  With the barrier once again closed, locking Loki safely inside, he got up from the bed in the hopes he might find the information he needed.

He flipped through page after page, finding more to do with political treaties and history than anything pertinent.  Asgard’s collective knowledge about Jötunheimr and its people suddenly seemed embarrassingly little.  It was buried deep between the lines that he finally found the answer to the question that suddenly plagued him.  A ritual that struck Loki as sounding oddly familiar and barbaric, but which now was the only logical solution.  The tradition of casting boys into the storm once they came of age, condemning all but the strongest to death was, on paper, one more reason Asgard saw the frost giants as barely more than animals.  But they had to be cast out, Loki realised.  If his behaviour was normal, exile as a rite was the only way any sort of order could be maintained.  That any were allowed back at least brought some hope that he could learn to control whatever this was.  Perhaps with time, these urges would subside, and become easier to ignore.  Perhaps he simply needed to wait it out, though it only opened the question of how long he’d be locked away for everyone’s safety.

He was surprised when the barrier opened behind him once more, allowing another servant entry.  He brought with him not only a meal of meat and hard cheeses, along with a small pitcher of ale, but the work Loki had abandoned in his chambers.  So, he was still allowed to participate and carry on his role, though somehow now reviewing security reports from within the dungeons felt more than a little ironic.  Dismissing the servant, Loki immediately sunk himself into these offered distractions all the same, having no other way to pass his time.

Despite being locked in a cell, the dungeons were something of a relief.  Whether it was the lack of distraction, or simply the isolation, his prick finally started to behave itself.  He was able to complete his work, and to pass the rest of the time he sent for more books from the library.  He read everything that was sent down to him, not caring what it was.  It was a way to pass the time that did not involve his hand down the front of his breeches, and that was an improvement. 

He lay stretched out on the bed, reading about parasites found in the intestines of goats, when once more the barrier to his cell opened.  He glanced up, expecting to see a servant coming in to drop something off or take something away.  Instead, it was Eir who entered, and the very sight of her made Loki’s blood run cold.  He stared up at her, terrified of what he might do with her so close.

“You shouldn’t be here,” he said, waiting for the inevitable.

To his immense surprise, Eir scoffed and shook her head.  “Nonsense.  I’m too old for that,” she said.

Just once, Loki wished he could have a conversation with somebody where he was on the same page as them.

“What?” he asked.  He shook his head.

Eir sat on the bed near his feet, setting a small basket on the bed between them.

“Has nobody told you anything?” she asked.  “What was in all those books the library sent down to you?”

Loki shook his head again.  “Very little of relevance,” he said.

Eir clicked her tongue, and Loki couldn’t tell if her growing irritation was with him, or with someone else.

“Pheromones, you daft boy,” she said.  “Why do you think they’ve put you down here?”

Loki looked around the cell, able to see into several of the others across the corridor.  “Because I’m a menace,” he said.

Eir seemed to only grow more irritated by the moment.  “No,” she said, reaching into her basket and pulling out a small ceramic pot.  “Well, yes.  But that’s hardly your fault right now, is it?”

Loki wasn’t so sure about that.  He’d been fully aware of every action he’d taken, even if he had done next to nothing to stop himself from doing any of it.

“Now sit up,” Eir said.

Loki dared to obey, his entire body trembling.  As he sat up, Eir moved closer, and even dared to bring her hand to hold his head still.  Distantly, Loki slowly realised that the only thing he felt at that moment was fear.  No feral urges rose within him, even with Eir so close.  He watched as she took the lid from the pot and used her finger to scoop up a small amount of some sort of thick, translucent red jelly from within.  Then, she tilted Loki’s head back, and stuffed the jelly into Loki’s nose.  Before he could even react, Eir stuffed more up his other nostril, and only then let him go.  Choking, with his eyes burning, Loki reeled back and tried to clear it out, but Eir slapped his hands away.  He had to breathe through his mouth, which only sent the acrid burn further down his throat.

“Inhale it,” Eir said.

Still struggling to breathe, Loki looked at her for extra guidance.  When none came, he cautiously reached up to squeeze his nose shut and inhale sharply, pulling what was quickly turning to sludge deeper into his sinuses.  With his head spinning, and fighting against the urge to gag and vomit, Loki couldn’t stop himself from whimpering quietly.

“We’ll see if this works,” Eir said, closing the lid and returning the ceramic pot to her basket.  “With luck, it should dull the senses.”

Loki nodded, struggling to find his voice.

“Can’t you do that with magic?” he asked.

“Magic fails,” Eir said.  “You know that.”

He did know that.  Every morning, he was reminded of it as he was greeted what what he refused to acknowledge as his true form.  He nodded again, sniffing harshly as his body rebelled against what had been forced inside of it.  Still confused and disorientated over what had just happened, he watched as Eir rose to her feet and returned to the still open cell barrier.

“You can take him back now,” she said to the guard, handing her basket off to him.  “He shouldn’t bring you any trouble.”

After she stepped aside, two more guards entered the cell, and Loki got to his feet.  This ritual of theirs was becoming oddly comfortable, as he was grabbed and held tightly by both arms.  Even with Eir’s potions, Loki still didn’t trust himself, and he couldn’t fault the guards for not trusting him either.  He let himself be led back through the palace like a criminal, focusing only on where they were going.  He ignored the few people they passed along the way, putting the problem for what to say about it aside for later.  Nobody said anything, even as they reached his chambers, and Eir’s basket was handed off to him.  Loki waited until the door was closed between him and the rest of the palace before looking into the basket.  Along with the potion Eir had already used on him, she had given him several other potions and draughts, along with a note explaining what each one was.  A strong sleeping draught, whose true purpose was obvious even without needing to be stated.  A draught of hemlock and mistletoe that would not put him to sleep, but would still incapacitate him while leaving him somewhat conscious.  And a stronger version of the first potion, in case it proved to not be strong enough.

A care package, then, meant to drug him into a stupor rather than letting him suffer.  Sighing at it, Loki took the whole thing to his bedchamber, and left it on his desk.  He wasn’t in the mood to read, or to do any work.  He wanted only to relax in the comfort of his own bed once again.  But before he reached it, he looked out the window that faced the courtyard, and Freyja’s chambers beyond.  He stood quietly, tilting his head to the side as he watched her carry about her own business obliviously.  Even watching her, waiting for something to happen, no urge rose within him.  For now, it seemed as though Eir’s potion had worked.

He lay down on his bed, and no sooner had he got comfortable, heard the door at the antechamber open.  A few moments later, Thor let himself into Loki’s bedchamber, with a bottle of wine in hand and concern plainly written across his face.

“Father said you’d been let out,” Thor said, daring to step closer.

Loki snorted.  “Well.  I still can’t go anywhere, but yes.”

He watched as Thor twisted his face up, very clearly fighting his own urges to ask stupid questions.

“Loki, what did you do?” he asked finally.

Not even knowing where to start, Loki sighed and shook his head.  “Something extremely regrettable that needs not be spoken allowed,” he said.  “Let’s leave it at that, please.”

Thor nodded, and sat down on the bed as he uncorked the wine.

“I sometimes feel like everyone knows but me,” he said.

“Thor,” Loki said, already tired of this conversation.

“Right,” said Thor. 

He took a long drink straight from the bottle, and then passed it over to Loki.  Having nothing better to do, Loki sat up and took it, but drinking came with an unpleasant surprise.

“Huh,” he said, pulling the bottle away to look at it. 

A moment later, he tried sniffing at it, but he could smell it no more than he could taste it.

“I can’t taste a thing,” he said. 

He sniffed at it once more, but still nothing.  Grimacing, he handed it back and looked back toward the window.  He couldn’t see Freyja from this angle, but suddenly he understood.  It wasn’t some strange, mysterious fault within himself that made him lose his mind.  Each time Loki became a passenger to his own urges, he had been in the presence of a woman.  But it wasn’t any woman who drove him to insanity.

Had he not been pulled off Freyja, she would soon be giving birth to his bastard.  She was fertile, and he could smell it.  That was what Eir had meant, and why she had been so clearly unconcerned for her own safety.

Thor must have realised there was far more he hadn’t been told.  He stared at Loki with deep confusion, even as the fog suddenly lifted from Loki’s own mind.

“I’m never going to be able to leave these rooms again,” Loki said, knowing that even with Eir’s potions and draughts, he could never be trusted.

“Loki?” Thor asked.

Loki shook his head.  “Has Father told you anything?” he asked.

After a moment, Thor nodded.  “He told me enough,” he said.  “It changes nothing.”

It changed everything, but that wasn’t an argument Loki had the energy for.

“If he told you enough, then you know what I did,” he said.

Again, Thor nodded.  “I had hoped to be mistaken,” he said.  “Who?”

“I was stopped, so it doesn’t matter who,” Loki said.  “And I’m sure she won’t want your pitiful looks.”

“Right,” Thor said again. 

He took another long drink of the wine, giving Loki the distinct impression Thor had brought it for himself.

“So, what now?” Thor asked.

Loki shrugged and looked around the room.  “I don’t know,” he said.  “Resources are limited, so I’ve only done little research.  I feel my release is very conditional, as it is.”

He watched Thor mull the entire situation over.  This wasn’t a conversation he wanted to be having at all, but it was better to get it over with.

“You were up here for a week,” Thor said, unable to look at Loki directly.  “Loki.  You…”

“I was moved at my own request,” Loki said.

“Good,” Thor said, nodding.  “Loki, I know you’re not…”

“A backwards savage?” Loki cut in.  He snorted and shook his head.  “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

He sniffed deeply again, still fighting against the uncomfortable itch from the potion.

“Though perhaps if I spend the rest of my days locked up and drugged into a stupor, it won’t happen again,” he said.

Thor did nothing to hide the sorrow that washed over him.  “I suppose worse could have happened,” he said.

Despite everything, Loki wanted to laugh.  “I suppose the next step is castration, so let’s pray for the drugs,” he said.

His words drew a small huff from Thor, which was enough of a victory for Loki.

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So Good for Me

So Good for Me (2,154 words) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Thor
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Rape/Non-Con
Pairings: Thor/Loki
Characters: Thor, Loki

Summary: Thor pays Loki a visit. It’s not the first time.

Continue reading

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Starve to Death with Dignity #1

Every time Laufey sent an envoy to Asgard, it upset everything.  Loki didn’t understand their demands, nor why Odin went along with them.  The envoy was sequestered to their own part of the palace, where no women were allowed to enter.  Talks all happened in that part of the palace, while servants had to be shuffled about, guards filling roles where there were not enough men to carry out duties.  For weeks it carried on, sowing chaos in all the worst ways.  And for weeks, Odin tolerated it.  Finally, the talks ended, the envoy returned to Jötunheimr, and the palace returned to normal.

“Why do you think he puts up with it?” Loki asked Thor, watching as Odin escorted Laufey’s cousin over the Rainbow Bridge to the Bifröst.

Thor shrugged.

“They’re backwards savages, Loki,” he said.  “You know that.  If they so much as look at a woman, they turn feral.”

Loki rolled his eyes.  “I’ve seen you after too many drinks, and even you manage to control yourself.”

Thor snorted and clapped Loki on the shoulder so hard he stumbled forward.  By the time he turned to shoot Thor a dirty look, Thor was already halfway through the door, laughing to some joke with himself.  Ignoring it, Loki strode out as well, keen to find some way to occupy his time that didn’t involve politics.  By the time he made his way to banquet, the tables were already being served, with the usual crowd gathering around them.  As Loki took his seat amongst his friends, he caught Odin gazing critically at him, his one eye seeming to pierce right through him.  Shaking it off, he focused his attention on the bottle of wine before him, taking the entire thing for himself.

It was the first time in far too long that women had been present at banquet, and Loki wasn’t the only man there who had missed their presence.  Fandral had one hanging off of each shoulder, and even Hogun had decided to entertain some young blonde thing for the evening.  As the crowd bustled a bit more loudly than usual, it was only a matter of minutes before Loki found himself the centre of someone’s attention.  He didn’t recognise her, and he didn’t care.  She slid up into his space with a horn in one hand, and an apple in the other. 

“Do you intend to share?” Loki asked her.

With a coy smile, she looked at the apple for a moment, before holding it up.  Loki took a bite of it right from her hand, realising he had missed this part of the evening more than he even knew.  The coy flirting and subtle power plays were a large part of the fun, before the evening ever even led back to his chambers.  On some deep, shameful level, Loki knew he could have any woman he wanted and not be refused, and it was on that same deep, shameful level that he found the most fun when the girl on his lap acted like she might try to refuse him anyway.  He quickly forgot all about the meal laid out on the table, letting his hands wander and not caring who saw.  He wasn’t the only man ignoring the meal set before him, and he wasn’t the only man who took a nameless woman to his bed that evening.  Nor was he the only man to wake the next morning to an empty bed and light on silver, and with a bone-deep ache that came from being too distracted to sleep through the night.  But with that itch finally scratched and sated, he drew himself a bath before getting a late and lazy start to his day.

At first, Loki thought he was imagining it; Odin’s hard, critical gaze on him whenever they were in the same room.  He thought he was seeing something that wasn’t there whenever Odin happened to spot him playing his game with the wenches and whores who made themselves frequent guests to the palace in the evenings.  But weeks rolled into months, and still Loki would occasionally find himself being watched; being judged.  Loki took to glaring back, unsure of what transgression he had made to earn such scrutiny.  He stopped pretending he hadn’t noticed, letting Odin know that he was well aware of this new shift in attitude.  It wasn’t enough to stop Odin’s unnerving glare entirely, but it did subside to a tolerable level, allowing Loki to go about his business without the weight of unearned disapproval hanging over him.

He was surprised he wasn’t being followed as well.  For all that Odin clearly didn’t trust him, it seemed almost inevitable.  But he was at least allowed his peace and solitude, and for that much he was thankful.  It meant he was free to pursue his own endeavours without interruption.  For the most part, his own endeavours kept him either locked up in his chambers, or in a hidden part of the library.  But even then, he was never truly left alone.  Servants came and went, quietly making sure he always had fresh ale or wine, and nuts or fruit to nibble on as he worked.  They never spoke to him, and as long as they didn’t disturb his work, he never acknowledged them.

Even as the girl gathered up his used bowls and the empty decanter from the morning, they both worked in silence.  Though as she left, Loki found himself suddenly distracted for another reason entirely as he felt himself stir with sudden arousal.  He hummed in frustration and shifted in his seat, trying to find a way to sit that didn’t agitate things further.  But instead of behaving itself, his cock found itself pressed almost painfully against his own thigh, trapped at an unnatural angle by his leather breeches.  Loki tried to shift again, lifting his leg in hopes it might encourage things to rearrange themselves.  But the situation was too far gone, and his cock was trapped and only growing harder.

He quickly reached down the front of his breeches to rearrange himself to a more natural angle, but he got only as far as releasing it from its prison against his thigh.  Before he was even aware he was doing it, Loki began stroking himself.  Even once he realised he was doing it, Loki struggled to pull his hand away.  He looked around, but his little alcove was hidden from view by rows and rows of shelves.  With his hand still on his cock, he allowed himself to succumb to this strange and sudden urge that had overtaken him.  He worked himself quickly, wanting to get it over with before he was caught, but he found himself faced with a brand new problem on top of everything else.  Even as he tried to finish, he found himself frustratingly unable to.  His arousal only heightened as he worked himself, and soon his own touch wasn’t even pleasurable.  He clenched his jaw tightly as he tried to find relief that never came, switching from using just his fingers to a iron-tight grip along the shaft.  It was better, but still not enough.

He barely heard the approaching footsteps before it was too late.  Loki froze as the servant reappeared, looking into his alcove with concern.  Glad to be hidden behind his desk, Loki still could not pull his hand away.

“Is everything well?” she asked.

Loki barely managed to nod.  Even as the girl stared at him, certainly able to tell what he was doing even with the desk between them, Loki could barely contain the rising lust with him.

“Yes, everything’s fine,” he said, his voice strained as he struggled to control himself.

If he moved a single muscle, it would be to leap up and bend the girl over the desk and take her right there.  Even as the thought flashed through his mind, it horrified him.

“Leave me,” he said, his entire body trembling as he fought against every urge that consumed him in that moment.

For a moment, she stood still, staring at him.  He thought she might never leave, and he feared what he might do if she didn’t.  Finally, she nodded and slowly turned away.  Before her footsteps even faded, Loki’s hand took over, squeezing his cock and working it so hard it nearly hurt.  With his other hand, Loki clamped his own mouth shut, holding back a startled and strained shout as he finally spent inside his breeches.

As he slowly regained his wits and clarity, Loki looked over the entire situation before him.  His hand still down the front of his breeches, and the servant still no doubt nearby, all he could do was flee.  He pulled his hand free and stood, walking through shadows to return to his chambers immediately.  Even though he was half hard again, Loki leaned against his desk and breathed through it.  Slowly, agonisingly, his lust subsided on its own.  He looked down at his hand, covered in a sticky web of his own seed.

“What the hel was that?” he asked himself, still panting.

Looking around his chambers, he decided what he needed most at that moment was a bath, followed by a nap.

Loki avoided the library after that, if only to avoid running into the same servant again.  As tempted as he was to find out who she was and have her dismissed, he knew she hadn’t actually done anything to warrant it.  He was the one who had behaved like an animal, but he certainly wasn’t going to apologise to a servant for anything.

It was far easier to just work from the solitude of his own chambers.

Though whatever had overcome him seemed to be some brief, if bizarre show of nerves or stress, and seemed to have passed.  His work got done, and when he dared to show himself in public again, Odin continued to scrutinise his every action.  For the first time, Odin’s heavy stare wasn’t a source of vexation.  This time, Loki couldn’t help but feel like he’d earned it.  But it soon became clear that if the girl had seen anything, she had kept it to herself.  His lapse of self control went unmentioned, even by Odin.

Loki sat through tedious meetings and listened to impoverished jarls beg for gold, filling his day with a dull tedium that couldn’t end quickly enough.  When banquet was finally served, Loki could not get to the hall fast enough.  He took his usual spot amongst the usual crowd, drinking too much and laughing at jokes that weren’t funny as usual.  But something was different.  Even then, he was distracted by something that pulled not at his mind, but rather stretched it thin so he could focus on nothing at all.  He gave up trying to feign interest in Volstagg’s boastful stories and watched the crowd instead.  Servants came and went, keeping mead and ale flowing, and plates full, while those of status enjoyed their meal and their evening.

He found his attention drifting to Freyja, watching as she laughed with the other women in her circle.  He had never really noticed her before, but now he couldn’t help but notice her.  It took a concentrated effort not to stare, but when he saw her excuse herself and leave, Loki found himself rising to follow her.  He caught up with her after only a few steps, having no idea what he was doing, or why he was doing it.

“Care for an escort?” he asked.

She smiled tightly at him.  The sort of smile that suggested she was too polite to say no.  But when he offered his arm, she took it. 

“What do you want, Loki?” Freyja asked, holding her head high and looking pointedly away from him.

He wanted to fuck her.  He resisted the urge to look down to see how badly he was straining his breeches, worried he might be about to burst right through the laces.  But he didn’t look down, so she didn’t look down.  Instead, she looked up and only focused on his face.

“I thought you might like some company,” he said as he let her lead the way through the corridors to her chambers.

Again, she smiled tightly at him, but said nothing.  Together, they walked in silence until the din from the hall was replaced only by the echo of their shoes on the stone floors.  As they turned around a dimly-lit corridor, Loki turned too sharply, forcing Freyja up against the wall.

“Loki, what do you think you’re doing?” Freyja asked, annoyance replacing her wary politeness.

Loki didn’t know what he was doing.  Even as he caged her against the wall with his arms, he didn’t know what he was doing.  He realised he was nearly panting as he looked down at her body, fighting against everything he wanted to do in that moment.

“Step aside, Loki,” Freyja said. 

She was no longer annoyed.  She was afraid.  Loki wanted to step back.  He wanted to run and hide.  Instead, he shook his head and stepped closer, pinning her against the wall with his body.  She tried to back away, but she was trapped.  Horrified at what he was doing, Loki held her there, their bodies so close he could feel her starting to tremble.  He leaned down, pressing his face against her neck and breathing deep as he began rutting against her through layers of fabric and leather. 

“Loki!” Freyja said, trying to shove him away.  “Get off of me!”

He tried.  He leaned back, intending with everything that remained of his mind to step away.  Instead, he reached for the laces on his breeches and pulled them open.  His cock was hard and aching, and with it in one hand, he used the other to try to find the hem of Freyja’s skirts to expose her cunt.  He used his body to hold her against the wall as he fumbled with his hand.  Once he found his way past her skirts, his fingers found her cunt.  He couldn’t stop himself, still rutting against her even has he forced his fingers inside her.  She screamed and hit him with her fists, even as Loki forced himself between her legs.  Before he could get any farther, Loki was violently pulled back and thrown to the floor.  He watched, confused as Freyja ran away, and then looked up to see a pair of Einherjar above him, along with his father and his ever-present disapproval.

“Take him,” Odin said.

Not even giving him a chance to put himself back together, the guards grabbed him by his arms and hauled him to his feet.  One of them bound his hands behind his back, which he was frankly grateful for, if only to keep him from doing anything else he’d regret.  For just a moment, he was forced to look Odin in the eye, and all he could do was shake his head in confusion.

He expected to be dragged of to the dungeons for what he had done, but was surprised when they took a different route instead.  Instead, he was taken to Odin’s own hall, and led to a chair near the table.  Looking down and realising he was still unlaced, Loki sat, trying to find a way to look even remotely dignified in his state.  One of the guards helpfully picked up a nearby fur and tossed it over Loki, without taking any particular care in his aim.  Loki shook his head as the fur fell over his face, coaxing it to fall down over his chest and lap.  It wasn’t ideal, but at least his prick wasn’t hanging out while his father cast him out of the realm.  It was still hard though, and Loki used every ounce of will he had to keep from rutting against the blanket that covered him.

Finally, Odin nodded and the guards retreated, leaving just the two of them alone in the hall.  But the shouting and screaming never came.  Instead came Odin’s disappointment, which was somehow worse.

“I’d feared this would happen,” he said, looking not at Loki, but to the floor.  “I’d hoped I was wrong, but it was only a matter of time.”

Loki shook his head, having no idea what had just happened, or what his father was talking about.

“I don’t follow,” he said, still straining in his seat.

Odin took a deep breath and leaned against the table.  Loki wished he would scream and shout and get angry.  At the very least, it was what Loki deserved.  But he did none of that.  He stood quiet for a long moment, only managing to frighten Loki, more than anything.

“For years, I have struggled to find the best way to protect you,” Odin said.

This was not the conversation Loki had expected to be having.  All his expectations evaporated, because none of this was going as it should have.  He could only stare up at Odin in confusion, unable to even form a single question to ask.

“I knew I had been too long in coming to a decision when Laufey’s envoy arrived,” Odin said.

Loki still didn’t understand, and shook his head.  Maybe if he did it enough, he might rattle loose some ability to follow this conversation.

“And now I see you have discovered why we must isolate them from the women when they come,” Odin said.

It still wasn’t making sense.

“I don’t understand,” Loki said, finally finding his voice again.

Odin looked down at his hands for a long moment, drawing a silence between them that spanned centuries.  Then, he stepped forward and drew his thumb over Loki’s jaw, bringing with it a harsh burn that drove deep into his flesh.  Loki rarely saw his father perform seiðr, but it was obvious that’s what had just happened.  As Loki looked frantically around the hall for any clue as to what had been done, Odin stepped around behind him and unbound his hands.  At once, Loki brought them in front of him to massage his wrists where the cuffs had dug into his flesh, but stopped short at the sight of them; blue, with raise ridges like scars, and nails as black as ink.

Loki flailed and shouted at the sight of it, flinging himself backwards into his seat, and only stopping as he crashed back onto the floor.  Odin stood over him, looking down at him with that same disappointment that cut straight through Loki.  Not wanting to remain quite so vulnerable, Loki scrambled to his feet, once more remembering his open laces.  He fumbled to tie them as he put distance between himself and Odin, not sure if he should be prepared to fight or flee.

“What is this?” he asked.  “Am I cursed?”

“No,” Odin said. 

Loki looked down at himself once more, his stomach roiling at the sight of his hands.

“I don’t understand,” he said.

Odin stayed where he was, keeping the distance between them. 

“I brought you here.  From Jötunheimr,” he said after a long moment.  “I hid you in hopes of protecting you.  From Asgard, and from yourself.”

His words still made no sense.  Loki looked up at Odin, again shaking his head.  He tried to force the pieces into place, but his mind refused to slow down.  When before he was too dumbstruck to think of a single question, now his mind was full of them.

“Protect me from myself?” he asked.  “What…?”

Then, he remembered the envoy.  The segregation through the entire visit.  The disruption to the entire palace.

If they so much as look at a woman, they turn feral.

He shook his head again.

“What are you saying?” he asked.

“I’m saying,” Odin said, his disappointment now heavier than ever, “that I am no longer certain whether my own son can be trusted.”

Loki tried to argue, but his throat closed around the words before they could even form.  He knew exactly what he had done, as horrible as it was, even if it wasn’t as horrible as it could have been.  He looked down at his hands once again, and found his legs suddenly unable to support his own weight.  He slowly fell as his legs gave way beneath him, sitting hopelessly on the cold floor.

“I’m a monster,” he said.

“No,” Odin said.

To Loki’s surprise, he stepped close to Loki then, dropping his hand onto Loki’s shoulder.

“But you must be caged until you can learn to control yourself,” Odin said.

Loki nodded.  He hated it, but he hated even more the thought of what he would have done had he not been stopped.

“And this?” he asked, looking at his hands still.

Again, Odin took a deep breath.  “I had hoped that in putting you in a different form, it might suppress that part of you.  But I couldn’t know for certain.”

Loki snorted.  “Until I lost my mind, you mean?”

He didn’t like the silence that followed, brief though it was.

“Yes,” Odin said.

Taking a long moment to just breathe and gather his thoughts, Loki continued to stare down at his hands.  His nails weren’t the cracked and chipped nails he might have expected.  They were trimmed and groomed, and his own.  Aside from the colour, his hands were his own.  But he still knew he couldn’t be seen like this.  Because despite everything, he knew Odin was right.

Asgard would eat him alive.

“And this?” he asked, gesturing vaguely to himself.

“You’re a smart boy.  You’ll figure it out,” Odin said.

Loki nodded.  It was a puzzle to solve, but not one he thought he had the fortitude to solve.

“Can I at least trust my son to see his way back to his own chambers?” Odin asked.

Loki wanted to be offended.  He wanted to bitterly resent Odin’s question.  Instead, he shook his head.

“No,” he said.

He didn’t even trust himself.  Not after everything that had already happened.  Not after everything he’d already done.

Odin nodded, stepping away from him.

“Then the guards will escort you,” he said.  “You are not to leave to leave your chambers.  You are not to entertain visitors without a chaperone.  A suitable story will be fabricated, and nothing will be said about your actions tonight.  Am I clear?”

Loki nodded.  “Yes,” he said.

“Good,” said Odin.

He opened the door, even as Loki cried out wordlessly in protest.  A moment later, both guards returned, glaring pure venom at him where he still sat on the floor.  As they hauled him back to his feet, he was surprised that they didn’t restrain him again, though they did hold onto him tightly enough to hurt.

“Return him to his chambers.  Do not let him leave,” Odin said.

Loki didn’t expect to survive the journey through the palace, but the guards at least spared him the risk of being seen and took him through dark and hidden paths.  The simple fear of being caught was punishment enough, and all the convincing Loki need to do as he was told and stay put.  At least until he could figure out this new problem.

« || »

Loki: God of Outcasts | Those Who Hunt Monsters #29: Disappearance

Loki not being where he was meant to be was no longer a surprise.  He hadn’t bothered to show up to training, nor to their shared lessons for several days, but that wasn’t what concerned Thor.  He hadn’t seen Loki at banquet either.  Usually, he could catch Loki skulking around the shadows, or getting into fights in the courtyard, but Thor had not caught a single glimpse of him for far too long.

He knew there had been another argument between Loki and Odin, and on that assumed that perhaps Loki was still sulking in his chambers.  Thor let himself in, ignoring the guards standing watch outside his door, and found the antechamber and the hall beyond silent.  But Loki rarely spent time downstairs, unless he was looking for something in his endless mess.  The hall had become a hoarder’s den, stuffed full with all manner of things stolen and picked out of the trash, but it all sat ignored for the moment.  Thor climbed the stairs to the chambers above, finding it all eerily silent as well.

He opened the door to Loki’s bedchamber, expecting to find his brother hunched over a book, or sleeping lazily in bed.  But he found neither.  Loki’s chambers were completely empty.  The fire pit was cold, as it often was, giving Thor no clues as to how long Loki had been absent.  Thor stood in the middle of the room, looking at the stacks of books by Loki’s desk.  He had been working on something during their imprisonment, and Thor was curious to see what.  He stepped carefully around the mess on the floor and leaned over the desk to see Loki’s smudged-up hen scratch on the pages.  The ink on the pages was dry, and the well capped, so he clearly hadn’t been around recently.  The work on the pages recorded some convoluted and complicated working Thor could not make heads nor tails of, copied and translated from a dialect he’d never seen before.

Whatever it was, it left no clues.  Shaking his head, Thor stepped away from the desk and once more cast around the room, hoping for anything that might lead him in the right direction.  Something felt wrong about the entire situation, and standing in his brother’s cold bedchamber, Thor understood Loki’s unrelenting desire to solve a puzzle presented to him.  Loki had disappeared somewhere, and Thor needed to know where.

Not completely without options, Thor turned to leave.  Loki had his partners in crime, and if anyone would know what devious plot he was up to now, it would be them.  He didn’t know where to find either of them, but he knew Hogun’s step father, and Bragi was a good place to start.  Bragi mostly kept to himself, making him easy to find in his chambers.  It was a part of the palace Thor rarely visited, reserved for visiting chieftains and peace hostages.  Thor wasn’t sure whether he ought to knock, or let himself in, and stood outside the door for a long moment while he tried to decide.  Eventually, he settled on knocking, growing more and more impatient and uncertain as each second passed.  Finally, it wasn’t Bragi who opened the door, but his Midgardian wife.  Thor had seen her only a handful of times, and never so close.  Her presence took him by surprise, and even as she stepped out of the way to let him in, Thor found himself once again uncertain of what to do.

“Khulan, who is it?” Bragi asked from an adjoining chamber.

“It’s the prince,” Khulan said softly as she sat down on a long sofa. 

Her strange accent was even heavier than Hogun’s, making Thor realise he had no idea where they had come from before being brought to Asgard.

Thor stepped inside, watching as she picked up a small loom.  Before he could say anything, Bragi stepped into the main hall, half dressed with his hands stained in ink.  The whole scene was so eerily familiar, and yet foreign all at once that Thor could still barely find his voice.  He only watched as Bragi picked up a topcoat from the back of a chair as he stepped closer, quickly pulling it over his lean frame.

Thor never knew how he was meant to address Bragi.  The man was his uncle, but he wasn’t on Asgard as family.  It was Bragi who ought to have been Vanaheimr’s king—not Iri—but like Njörd and so many others, Bragi was a prisoner within Asgard’s walls.  It was the price of losing a war, and unlike Njörd and his children, Bragi understood his place on Asgard.

“Thor,” Bragi said, looking toward the door as he stopped a few paces away.  “What brings you here?”

For a moment, they both stood silently, staring at one another.  It was clear just from the confusion on his face that Bragi had thought his wife meant that Loki had paid him a visit.  Finally, Thor remembered what he’d come all the way down there for and cleared his throat.

“I’m searching for Loki,” he said.  “I thought he might be with Hogun.”

Bragi shook his head, and looked briefly to his wife.  Khulan offered no information, focused more on her weaving than what went on around her.

“Well, they’re not here,” Bragi said.  “You may have luck in the fallow fields.  The boy likes to hunt out there.”

Thor looked again to Khulan, realising where Hogun got his quiet brooding from.

“Thank you,” he said with a nod.  “I shan’t keep you longer.”

He turned to let himself out, wondering why Bragi knew more about where Loki disappeared to in the afternoons than he did.  Whether Loki chose to keep things from Thor deliberately, or this was a detail that had gone overlooked, Thor wasn’t sure.  But he knew where the fallow fields were, even if they didn’t seem like a particularly fun or interesting place to spend time, and headed out there.  As he walked out to the field, Thor couldn’t help but wonder if it was some sort of bizarre prank to send him all the way out to a barren field.  But as he reached the edges of it, he was surprised to see several figures out in the middle, clustered close together.  Thor jogged out to the group, already disappointed as he got closer.  He found Hogun, staring up at the sky, with two other boys Thor had never seen before sitting on the ground nearby.  As one of them noticed Thor approaching, he smacked the other, drawing his attention.  They both sat a little straighter, though neither bothered to move from where they were sitting.

A moment later, as Thor drew nearer, Hogun finally turned to glance briefly to Thor, before returning his gaze to the sky.

“Have you seen my brother?” Thor asked, unsure if he should even bother asking the two boys on the ground.

Hogun shook his head.  “I thought he was still locked up,” he said.

“No, he confessed and took all the blame,” Thor said, peering up to see what was holding Hogun’s attention.  “It seems that’s all my father wanted.”

Hogun hummed quietly, but said nothing.  Thor wasn’t sure what Loki saw in him, or why the other two were hanging around him either if the only conversation he could offer were vague grunts.

“Are you talking about Loki?” the larger of the two boys asked.

Thor turned to face him and nodded.  “Aye,” he said.  “I’ve not seen him for several days.”

The two boys looked at one another, both shaking their heads pensively.

“I last saw him trying to flirt with Kelda a few days back,” one said.  “It was painful to watch.  I had to leave before I died of embarrassment on his behalf.”

The other slapped his friend again.  “Alv!” he scolded.  Then he turned his attention back to Thor.  “He didn’t mean it, my lord.”

Thor shrugged.  He doubted Alv was wrong.  He’d never seen Loki so much as look at a girl, and had no reason to believe his brother would know what to do with one.

Before he could say anything further, Hogun raised his arm over his head as an eagle fell out of the sky.  Thor jumped out of the way and watched as Hogun fed the giant bird a scrap of meat, before fixing a hood over its head.  Suddenly he realised what Bragi had meant about hunting.

“That’s a fine animal,” Thor said.

Hogun nodded again, humming gruffly.

“Fandral may know where to find your brother,” Hogun said.

The slimmer of the two boys leapt up, quickly putting himself beside Hogun.

“I’ll take her back,” he said, holding his hand out for the bird.  “I’ll tell Volstagg you’re helping Thor.”

Hogun passed the bird over to his friend, both taking their time to make sure it was settled before Hogun stepped away.  Satisfied all was well, Thor gestured for Hogun to lead the way.  He knew so little about Loki’s friends, and was glad to have help tracking Fandral down.

He walked alongside Hogun, growing more and more anxious about the silence that spanned between them like a void.  But all Thor knew about Hogun was that he was Loki strange, quiet friend who barely seemed to know how to speak at all.  Ostensibly, they were even cousins, although his and Bragi’s positions combined meant they had been kept separated growing up.  At a loss, Thor stayed silent as well, paying careful attention to where he was being led.  Hogun did not lead him back to the palace, but into the city itself, walking a deliberate path along crowded streets to the docks.

“Loki wouldn’t come out here,” Thor said, looking back over his shoulder back toward where they’d come from.  “He can’t swim.”

“That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t come here,” Hogun said.

Though it wasn’t even Loki they had come to find.  As they shuffled through the crowd, Thor spotted Fandral working with a crew to offload a skiff at one of the docks.  Thor knew that Loki had not made many friends within the court, but he had thought that it was only some cruel rumour that he spent his time amongst peasants.  And yet, he recognised Fandral at once.

Shoving it all aside to be dealt with later, Thor stepped into the crowd, letting the crew work around him as he pulled Fandral off to the side.  Fandral looked up at him, startled at first, before he caught up and matched Thor’s pace to get out of the way.

“Curious seeing you here,” Fandral said.  He looked beyond Thor to Hogun, still standing far out of the way.  “What’s the trouble?”

“I’m searching for Loki.  Have you seen him?” Thor asked.

Fandral shook his head, and somehow Thor was unsurprised.

“Has he run off again?” Fandral asked.

Thor frowned, trading his confusion for concern.  “Perhaps.  Let’s hope that’s all it is.”

They were interrupted by a scarred and sun-leathered man stepping close to pull Fandral away.

“Get back to work.  I don’t pay you to stand around,” he said.

Thor glared up at the man, shocked at his gall.

“You pay him to do as he’s told, and I told him to come here,” Thor said, trying to make his voice sound bigger than it was.

To his absolute shock, the man only laughed.

“People up there might bow and scrape to your every word, highness,” he said, pointing to the palace.  “But until you sit on that throne, you’re no better than any of this lot down here.”

As he pulled Fandral away, Fandral only offered an apologetic shrug.  Thor watched him as he returned to his work, quietly seething about the blatant disrespect he had just been shown.  He was surprised again when a moment later, Hogun took him by the arm and began leading him away.  At first Thor resisted him, but there was no point in it.  He finally turned to follow Hogun, unsure where to go next.  Thor thought Hogun may have been leading him somewhere else, but they only wandered aimlessly through the market on the way back to the palace.  They wound up in the mead hall, though not to continue to search for Loki.  They both sat, facing one another across the table, insignificant and unnoticed amongst the crowd.  Thor didn’t know much about any of the people Loki called friends, and watching Hogun consider the situation, he wondered what else he didn’t know about his own brother.

He waited for Hogun to offer some insight, but none came.  Whatever Hogun was contemplating, he kept it to himself, again making Thor wonder what Loki got from his company.

But he didn’t need Hogun’s insight, whatever it was.  Thor suddenly realised that Fandral had said something, and that he had overlooked it as the situation on the docks got away from him.

“Fandral asked if he’d run off again,” Thor realised, suddenly understanding this wasn’t the first time Loki had disappeared without warning.  He sat up and looked around the mead hall, knowing what he searched for wasn’t anywhere nearby.  “I may know where he’s gone.”

Hogun stood as Thor did, following close as Thor now took the lead.  He couldn’t remember exactly where the gate had been, but he knew the direction it was in.  He and Hogun left the palace and scaled the wall into the woods beyond.  It felt like ages since he’d gone out in this direction, and he worried he might not be able to find the destroyed Dragon Gate again.  But sheer will and determination eventually led them to the familiar pile of toppled stone.

“What is it?” Hogun asked, slowing cautiously as they approached.

“It’s a gate.  To Jötunheimr,” Thor said.  “We found it last year.”

Loki had been the one to lead the way through before, but now it was Thor’s turn to take the lead.  He climbed onto the pile of stone and reached out for Hogun to follow.  He was surprised when Hogun took his hand and allowed himself to be led through.  They exited the gate into a familiar cave, though it was not as Thor had last seen it.  Evidence of Loki’s presence was apparent in the boxes and crates stacked up against the far wall.  Thor lifted the old skin covering the mess, finding much of what had been stolen from the keep.

“Loki, you are the worst,” Thor said, letting the skin fall back down again.

Behind him, Hogun laughed quietly.  Thor turned to him, unable to stop the hot wave of anger overtaking him.

“You think this is funny?” he asked.

Hogun shrugged and turned toward the cave’s entrance.  Aside from Loki’s mess, there was no sign of him within the cave.  Outside, a thick blanket of undisturbed snow made it clear no one had come or gone in some time.  Still, Thor stepped close to the cave’s entrance and peered out across the dark tundra.  In the low light, it was impossible to see anything, but Thor was convinced Loki was nowhere nearby.

“We should go back,” Hogun said.

Thor turned back to where the gate had once stood, nodding.

“Aye,” he said.

If Loki had truly come to Jötunheimr and was out on the tundra somewhere, it was time to get proper help.  Thor led Hogun back through to Asgard, trying not to stumble as they stepped back onto the uneven rock pile.  For a moment, the two of them stood in silence together, looking out toward the palace.  But there was nothing else to be done.  Thor didn’t know where else to search. 

Thor was familiar with irritation and frustration where Loki was concerned.  He was used to a certain feeling of helplessness, where his brother simply wouldn’t accept any.  But now, standing before the crumbled remains of a Dragon Gate as the suns hung low on the horizon, Thor was utterly and completely lost as to what to do.  He turned to Hogun, taking only a small amount of solace from the concern Hogun echoed back at him.  Loki’s friends were just as wild and reckless as he was.  If Loki’s latest stunt was enough to concern his band of mayhem-making misfits, then Thor knew he had every reason to worry.

“We should tell my father,” Thor said.  “Who knows.  Perhaps he’s been sent to scrub the dungeons.”

Hogun hummed lowly, obviously disagreeing.  Still, as Thor began the trek back to the palace, Hogun followed alongside him in silence.  The walk back seemed as though it took all day, and when they finally found Odin in his hall, Thor found himself unable to continue.  His tongue fell like lead in his mouth, and even as Odin looked up at the pair of them in confusion, Thor couldn’t make himself take the next step.  Not until Hogun nudged him forward, once again leading him around as though he had any right.  Thor was so shocked by it that it brought him back round to the present, forcing him to take a deep breath.

“Father, have you seen Loki?” he asked.  “It’s been days since either of us have seen him.”

Again, Hogun hummed, making a vague noise of agreement.  Odin took a deep breath then, sitting more heavily in his seat as Frigga made her presence known.

“His guard reported him missing two days ago,” Frigga said.

Thor hadn’t even noticed her in the room until she spoke up.  She sat in the far corner, weaving by lamp light while Odin worked, but now neither of them were concerned with the tasks before them.

“And he’s slipped his guard before,” Odin said.  “Am I to turn the entire realm upside down every time he runs off?”

“For your son, yes,” Frigga said, standing.

Hogun tried to back away, but Thor reached out to stop him.  As much as he too wanted to flee the scene, they hadn’t been dismissed, and were now prisoner to another one of Odin and Frigga’s outbursts.

“I have parties searching every corner of the realm,” Odin said.  “There’s only so much we can do.  He’s learned that infernal dark elf magic, and even Heimdall can’t see him.”

Thor realised that Odin didn’t know.  Odin wasn’t as worried as he should have been, because he assumed Loki would still be more or less where he ought to be.

“Father, I don’t believe Loki is on Asgard,” he said, speaking loudly and quickly so he wasn’t drowned out.

At his words, both Odin and Frigga turned silently to him, as a whole new tension gripped the room.  The weight of their expectations was crushing, and there was little Thor could do to get out from under it.

“And what do you know that I do not?” Odin asked after a long moment.

Thor looked to Hogun.  To expose Loki would undo their own work, and only cause more trouble later.  Thor knew he had to be careful with how he led Odin to the correct path.

“He’s found a way to Jötunheimr,” Thor said finally.  “I know he goes there, because he took me once.”

Frigga looked as though she might fall ill right there.  She looked at Thor, and then at Odin again.

“It’s dark winter on Jötunheimr,” she said.

“I know damn well what it is!” Odin shouted.

Again, Hogun tried to back away, but Thor grabbed him by the wrist to keep him there.  Thor didn’t want to be there any more than Hogun did, but he didn’t dare walk away either.  And it was just as well, because Odin picked that moment to turn his outrage to the two of them.

“You knew about this, and said nothing until now?” Odin said.

“I didn’t think he’d go back,” Thor said.  “I didn’t know he was that stupid.”

It wasn’t the right answer, and now Odin was furious.

“And you?” he asked, turning to Hogun.  “How long have you known about this?”

For all he clearly wanted to leave, Hogun didn’t even flinch beneath Odin’s ire.

“I knew nothing until this day,” he said.

Odin growled as he turned his back to them and strode away.

“Both of you, out of my sight,” he commanded.

Not wasting another second, both Thor and Hogun turned to flee, and did not stop until Odin’s hall was well behind them.  Together, they stood in the corridor, both staring at one another until finally Thor turned to face Odin’s hall again.

“He’s known for two days, and he hasn’t done anything,” Thor said.

He wanted to be sick.  He thought about all the countless times he’d had to reassure Loki that he was more to their father than an inconvenience.  For all his jokes and jests that he was the one who was truly wanted, Thor knew Loki had never truly believed it.  And now he worried Loki may have been right.  Now he worried that Odin’s threats to lock Loki up in the dungeon may not have been as empty as Loki claimed.

“We should tell Heimdall,” Hogun said suddenly.

Thor looked at him, realising Hogun was right.  Heimdall was looking on Asgard.  If Loki were lost or hurt on Jötunheimr, he wouldn’t keep himself hidden.  But he would only be seen if Heimdall knew where to look in the first place.

Together, they both ran through the palace and to the front gates.  Night had fallen as they reached the Rainbow Bridge, which sang and glowed beneath their feet as they ran along its entire length to Heimdall’s observatory at the far end.  Thor had walked and ridden the bridge’s length before, going with Odin and Frigga to other realms.  But this time the bridge seemed endless.  The more they ran, the further away Heimdall’s observatory seemed.  Finally, they reached it, both hoarse and heaving as they stumbled inside.  Heimdall turned to both of them, turning a frown to them as they struggled to regain their composure.  The galaxies in his eyes shone brightly from beneath his helm, giving him the impression that he could both see straight through Thor, and was not even looking at him at all.

“Are you looking for Loki?” Thor asked, finally standing.

He stepped closer to the edge, daring to stand by Heimdall’s side.

“I have searched for two days,” Heimdall said, turning to face the void once again.  “Loki has found a way to hide himself from my gaze.  I can see every blade of grass within the realm, but I see no sign of him.”

“Have you tried Jötunheimr?” Thor asked.

Heimdall again looked down at Thor.  “I have seen none come nor go from Jötunheimr, and granted no such passage,” he said.

Thor shook his head.  “He takes a Dragon Gate,” he said.  “The one to the north of the palace.”

Heimdall immediately shifted his gaze across the void, his face twisted in a deep concentration as he searched.  He did not hide his thoughts well, allowing his concern and frustration to deepen by the second.  Thor turned to Hogun, wishing he had something hopeful to say, but somehow knowing Hogun wouldn’t care for any false hopes.

“There is a village near the old gate,” Heimdall said.  “I do not see Loki there.  Nor do I see him in Utgard.”

“What does that mean?” Thor asked.

“It means I must search the entire realm,” Heimdall said.

For a moment, Thor didn’t dare speak the question that rose.  But his need for answers won out.

“And what if he’s not there?” he asked.

“Then I will search the other realms,” Heimdall said.

Thor nodded.  It wasn’t quite the answer he wanted, because he had not quite asked the right question.

“The magic he uses,” he asked.  “Do you know what it is?”

“I do not,” said Heimdall.  “It’s one I have never before encountered.”

Heimdall looked down at Thor again, as an uncomfortable silence fell over them.

“Nor do I know what drives this magic,” Heimdall said.  “If it is something Loki must maintain himself.”

He wasn’t saying it, and Thor wasn’t asking it.  The real question.  Whether Loki would remain hidden if he were injured, or worse.  If Loki might be dead somewhere, lost forever because the magic he used to hide himself hid even his corpse.  Thor knew nothing about magic, but all three of them in the observatory that moment were thinking the same thing.

They all stood silent for a long while, waiting as Heimdall searched every corner of every realm.  Thor looked out over the void, not turning away once until the rising sound of armoured footsteps rose from behind.  He turned to see a pair of Einherjar entering the observatory, and hoped it meant good news.

“This one,” one said, pointing to Hogun.

Hogun stood a little bit taller as he frowned at the soldiers.

“What is this?” Thor asked on his behalf.

“He’s wanted for questioning,” the other soldier said.

“I’m going with,” Thor said, stepping forward.

Neither said anything as Thor walked alongside them.  The Einherjar took Hogun to a chamber above the dungeons, where a dozen others had been brought.  Thor spotted Freyr first, looking like he could murder every man in the room.  And then, he noticed Fandral shortly after.  He sat in the corner, letting his nerves show plainly in his ever action.  Thor sat next to him, understanding what the purpose of dragging Hogun off had been.

“Don’t let them see your fear,” Thor said quietly to Fandral.

Fandral looked at him, doing nothing to correct himself.

“If they know you’re afraid, they’ll think you have something to hide,” Thor said. 

He knew Fandral had nothing to do with whatever had happened to Loki.  Fandral was nothing more than an easy scapegoat, and he clearly knew it as well.

Finally, Fandral nodded, and tried to school his face into something more neutral.  He looked up at Hogun, and after a moment, nodded toward him.

“What’s he doing here?” he asked.

Thor looked around the chamber, realising then that Fandral was the only Asgardian present.  Everyone else was Vanir, or in Hogun’s case, raised by one.  Thor could see what Odin was thinking, and prayed it was not true.

“My father does not seem to believe that Loki ran off,” Thor said quietly.

“Oh.”  Fandral nodded awkwardly, looking around again.  “Great.  Fantastic.”

He took a deep breath, and nodded again, this time more slowly.

“I thought it was something else.”  He looked pointedly to Freyr, drawing Thor’s attention in the same direction.

Freyr had not spoken so much as a word to Thor since they found him in the orchard with his sister.  He knew from the way Freyr glared back at them that his thoughts were in the same place.

“No,” said Thor.  “Not this time.”

He looked over the crowd again, knowing none of them would have been foolish enough to do what they were suspected of.  Peace with Vanaheimr was already so tenuous, and war with the realm would strip every peace hostage within Asgard of their status and protection. 

No.  Thor knew Loki’s disappearance had nothing to do with Vanaheimr.  This was Odin giving the appearance of exhausting all his options within Asgard before accusing Jötunheimr.

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