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Tag: fic: Ours to Keep

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.”


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.

« || »

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.

« || »

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.

« || »

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.

« || »

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.


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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