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11 November 2014 @ 02:23 pm
A Crocus in the Snow, part 13  

Heimdall was there to meet them, his golden eyes sharp beneath his helm as his gaze traveled to each of them in turn. "My prince," he nodded to Thor. And then, he nodded to Loki as well, in a gesture of respect that Sif was glad to see. She hadn't realized she had feared its lack, until he did it. He nodded last to Sif.

"Good to be home," Sif murmured. The new Observatory wasn't quite the same as the old one, but familiar. Loki was no longer holding her hand, keeping both of his loose at his sides as if he feared he might have to fight.

"For some of us," Loki muttered.

"I have sent word to the king," Heimdall said. "He will receive you in the small council chamber."

"I can shift us," Loki offered. "It would be quicker."

"You can't shift into the palace," Thor said, then frowned. "Can you?"

Loki rolled his eyes. "Of course I can. How do you think Sif and I left?"

Thor's eyes flicked to Heimdall, as if he'd thought they'd used the Bifrost, then he lifted his brows. "All the way to Svartalfheim?"

"I knew the path." Loki shrugged, passing it off as little effort, but she saw Heimdall's eyes widen and knew it was an impressive feat.

She touched Loki's hand. "Then, yes, take us back. It is a long walk, until transport arrives." If they walked, they would be seen on their way, and she knew he wanted to avoid that. She moved close to him and put her hands around his waist. "Like this, wasn't it? I have to hold tight?"

He was tense, but tilted his head to smile at her. "Just so. Thor, hold out your arm."

Thor did so, and Loki clasped his forearm. "Tightly." Thor gripped Loki's forearm in turn, and nodded his readiness.

"I notice he doesn't have to embrace you," Sif teased, but stood as close as she could, holding Loki tight, with her face against his neck.

That strange tugging session formed deep within, and then pulled her out of that place and shoved her into a new one. She blinked the lights into their proper places, and found herself in the corridor outside the small council chamber.

The two Einherjar on guard on the doors startled violently, to see three people appear out of nowhere right before them.

Loki grinned, pleased with the result. "If you would inform the Allfather that we are here, as summoned."

The guards saluted and pulled open the doors to allow them entrance.

"That was… astonishing, Loki. But why did you not do that to escape Jotunheim?" Thor demanded, as they started down the short aisle that led to the throne set before the panoramic view of the city. Odin wasn't sitting though, standing in the midst of a display with Freyr.

"I wanted to finish Malekith."

"No, I meant before. When the six of us were overrun."

Loki lifted his brows at him. "And reveal I didn't need the Bifrost?"

"We could have died!"

Loki shrugged. "That was why I sent a message before we left. And six was too many to carry without making a gate, and there was no time for that. Because, remember, you insisted we fight a battle."

"A battle you caused," Thor returned.

"I told you we should leave. You didn't listen."

Sif rolled her eyes, and was glad when the king turned from the monitors so Thor and Loki had to stop bickering as if nothing had happened in the past two years.

Odin dismissed Freyr and dispersed the war readiness display, as Frigga's voice sailed through the room from the end of the hall. "Loki!" She rushed forward, free to act as she willed with only family and Sif there to see, and she embraced Loki tightly.

"Oh my son," she whispered. "I am so, so sorry."

He hesitated, as he considered what to respond, but instead of pushing her away, he lifted his arms to return the embrace. The gesture began tentatively, as if he wasn't sure she was real or would welcome his touch, but when his fingers touched her, he embraced her and he let his head rest on her shoulder. "Mother. Please, it's not your fault."

She shook her head, not absolved. She smoothed his hair at the back of his head. "Later, you and I will talk in private," she promised. "And I will be there, and I will listen to everything, Loki. But for now, know I - we- all of us-- we're here, and you belong in this family." She tipped up his chin to look him in the eyes. "We love you. And you can sense the truth in that, I hope."

He blinked rapidly but he nodded, biting his lower lip. Frigga smiled at him and kissed his forehead. "Good. Because it's true."

"So I keep telling him," Thor said.

"I stopped listening to you a long time ago," Loki retorted, but it was reflexive, and his expression was carefully neutral as he turned to Odin. "Malekith is dead," he reported. "Many of his warriors are, too. His ship is trapped in Jotunheim."

Odin nodded once. "You did well. You fulfilled your promise, and so shall I. Tyr awaits judgment and sentencing. It remains to find what your wishes are for justice."

"I -- I -- " He abruptly walked away to the open terrace. He stared out at the city skyline, and Sif hurt for him, as he couldn't answer.

"What is justice?" he asked finally, in a soft voice. "The Svartalfar are going to die, all of them. Where is their justice? Or Midgard? Perhaps Tyr was their justice against me." He folded his arms and added, "So many nights, I would lie awake in my bed, and I would devise plans to kill him. I learned ways to kill in secret, that no one would ever know. I imagined my knife at his throat so many times… I wanted to hear him beg for mercy. Just once I wanted to hear his voice full of terror of what I would do to him."

Thor shifted his stance to go to him, but Frigga lifted a hand to keep him still and let Loki speak.

"But I never did it. So perhaps I wasted my justice on my silence and lack of will. Or maybe it's all a fantasy, and 'justice' is only vengeance dressed up in fair clothes. It doesn't erase the suffering, or bring the dead back to life. It makes no difference in the end."

Sif listened to this, and she was about to speak, when he turned back around and told Odin sharply, "This is for you, not for me. This is so you feel better that you ignored everything that suggested your precious Aesir aren't perfect." He clenched his fists at his sides and his eyes shone with a desperate light. "I destroy everything I touch, not because I was born a monster, but because the Asgard legacy is five thousand years of death and hatred." He inhaled a ragged breath, trying to get the words out. "This place is rotten at the core. And I still want to watch it burn. That's your justice."

"Loki!" Frigga exclaimed, stricken.

But Loki was already halfway to the door, and he didn't stop until he was gone. The door slammed behind him.

Odin's shoulders slumped and he looked down, letting a soft sigh escape. "Still so angry. And yet uncertain what to do about Tyr, if anything."

Frigga shook her head once. "It has been so long delayed that he cannot picture what justice would look like. But nonetheless Tyr did a terrible wrong and he must face his punishment, now that we know."

The king, queen and Thor looked troubled by what to do with Tyr, but Sif was more concerned about the one who had stormed out of there. "My king, if I may be dismissed?" Sif requested.

He waved a hand for her to go, and she saluted and made her escape to find where Loki had gone.

His quarters seemed untouched after his absence, and yet also slightly different as though the cleaners had set everything a tiny bit askew from how he remembered them.

Or maybe you are slightly askew from who you were.

"As if I was ever anything else," Loki muttered and hefted the small crystal statue from his desk before hurling it into the wall. Watching it shatter didn't help the pressure in his chest.

His room should feel like home but he felt he was back in a cell, and the walls were slowly shrinking. Even on the balcony, he couldn't draw a full breath. His muscles were tight, and within, his blood felt thick in his veins as if it might choke him.

This was a mistake. I shouldn't have come back here. What was I thinking to come here again? I don't belong here, I never did. But I have nowhere to go. I ruined everything else, didn't I?

A soft step in the room behind him was his warning a moment before Sif's voice came, soft and gentle, in offering, "Is there anything I can do?"

His fingers tightened on the railing as one part of him wanted to turn on her, and say biting, horrible things to send her away, and the other part wanted to turn toward her and bury his face in her hair. So he did neither, staying where he was.

She joined him at the railing and deliberately set her graceful hand atop his and curled her fingers. "It's okay to be upset," she murmured. "But don't call Tyr's harm to you, justice. That wasn't justice, Loki. That wasn't vengeance. It was abuse and cruelty."


Her grip tightened. "Hush. I know you keep conflating all these things in your mind, but no child could ever deserve what Tyr did."

He heard her words, but it was as if he didn't quite understand them. She was speaking on the other side of a glass wall and the words weren't for him.

He shook his head. "I just want to forget," he whispered and had to look away from her, not wanting to see the scorn for his weakness, but he had to confess it anyway. "It traps me in a little box and I can't remember how to breathe."

She considered and asked, "Do you want me to help you to forget? For a little while?"

He nodded, even though he had no idea how she could do that. Even when he wasn't consciously remembering, the memories remained, stirred up like a foul miasma tainting everything.

It was a surprise when she reached up and pulled his mouth to hers. He froze, thinking wildly she couldn't want to do this, not after all that she knew.

"Is this okay?" she asked, one of her hands gentle on his cheek as her beautiful eyes sought his. He realized she was asking permission to keep going.

"More than okay," he agreed and he made himself grin at her. "This is the best way to forget everything else."

She didn't smile back. "Loki, you don't have to pretend," she murmured, her fingers a caress along the side of his face. "You deserve to be truthful about your feelings, as much as the rest of us. Don't fake things you don't feel, it's all right. You avoided this in the ice cave, and if you're not ready, I understand. I want to help you."

Caught by her understanding, his grin faded to a smile that was probably a little pathetic and crooked. "I always want you," he said. "And it's true, that you helped me forget." He let his fingers float down the soft skin of her arm, so lightly it made her shiver in reaction. "Everything you are helps me. It always did."

When they kissed this time, he was ready, and sought to draw her into him, replace all the coldness that had crept into him, with her warmth.

She tugged him off the balcony back into his sleeping chamber. "Let me remove it," she said, putting a hand on his chest and tapping her fingers on the chestplate. "Don't shift it away."

He nodded agreement, and she undressed him, removing his armor to his underclothes, and then he watched as she divested herself of the same, pulling off her leggings so slowly his fingers twitched in need to do it himself, seeing her bare legs appear so enticingly. Then she opened the neck of her tunic to let it slither to the floor around her feet to leave her clad only in her long hair. She smiled, to see his gaze slide down her body and slowly climb back up and when she had his attention again, she crooked a finger to bring him to the bed.

Mouth on hers again, his hands full of her glorious breasts, he had to move his lips to taste her skin where he was touching, and then, remembering his promise, he moved all the way down, to bury his face between her legs, to pleasure her in a way that was only Sif. Her taste, her feel and her scent surrounded him, and tonguing her to slow climax reminded him of nothing, except the last time he'd done this.

When she'd shuddered down from it, she pulled him back up her body to kiss him again, to lick every bit of her own taste from his lips, and rolled them over so she could slide her tongue down those invisible Jotunn markings and make him whine and moan, and the heat slide through him.

His eyes drank in the sight of her, poised above him, as she pushed down on his rigid cock. But he couldn't just be a passive recipient and sat up to kiss her, her legs wrapped around his back. And there was no leverage, no movement for a moment, just the feel of her wrapped around him everywhere.

"Loki," she complained.

"Sif," he repeated, mocking her tone, pulling on her lip with his, pushing his hips up as much as he could to press against her until she gasped and her eyes flew open again.

She pushed him back down and he was grinning smugly, as she rode him until the smugness flew away and he just prayed she would never stop. Release seized him, pleasure crashing through him, and leaving him panting and boneless beneath her.

But he kept his eyes open to watch her finish herself again, enjoying the way her whole body tightened and she bit her lip, while she ground her hips down on him. Then, she shook back her sweat-damp hair and settled her body on his as they both breathed.

"Mmm, glad to see my Loki Silvertongue return," she purred.

"My pleasure." He held out a hand to conjure a cloth from the bathing room, needing to try three times before it came to his hand.

Sif snickered and snatched the cloth from his hand. "Did I wear you out so quickly?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, did you dig a tunnel through a glacier today?"

"I watched someone dig a tunnel through a glacier," she returned, smiling. "It looked pretty easy. All he did, was this." She sat up again, kneeling across his stomach, and held up her hands and furrowed her brow very intensely, pouting her lips excessively.

Ordinarily he'd be annoyed that she was mocking his powers, but her imitation made him chuckle. "Is that really what I look like?" he asked.

She laughed and stretched out on top of him again. "Mm, no, not really. Watching you move all that ice aside for you was quite… attractive."

"Oh?" His hands slid from her shoulders down her back, caressing her soft skin with appreciation. He concentrated on the movement of his fingers and the feel of her body still pressed against him. "I'll have to do it more often then."

"No more ice for awhile. I want to stay here where it's warm." With one hand, she pulled up the blankets as she slid off to one side, keeping her head on his arm and curling into his body with a yawn. "I'm glad we're home."

"I'm glad I'm with you," he answered.

She lifted her head. "You're home, too."

"Of course," he agreed, "that's not what I meant."

Relieved, she put her head back down and closed her eyes. In moments, she had fallen asleep, with that warrior's ability to catch some rest whenever she wanted. Loki had never slept well or easily, his thoughts too much like jumping mice, and nightmares a frequent interruption when he finally did settle to sleep.

His words had been exactly what he'd meant. Here with Sif, he felt more at home, but there remained a chasm inside him, and he felt he couldn't reach across it. Not yet, maybe not ever, maybe he was simply doomed to not feeling he belonged.

Because you're a creature. A monster. You think they really want you? You believe them? They feel guilty right now, but you know what you are. You know they don't care - it's all pretend, it's all a lie. Do as I tell you, or I'll get the king to throw you out. You can live in the stables, like the beast you are.

Loki's eyes shot open as the remembered voice struck like a lash, and he turned his head, heart rate lurching faster at the thought that Tyr had gotten into the room.

There was, of course, no one there. He swallowed hard, and turned his face into Sif's hair, as he carefully laid his hand on her arm to hold her without waking her, and remind himself where he was.

Frigga must have ordered his chambers off-limits because no one tried to enter, not even Thor, though Loki half-wished he would knock. The night passed slowly, and he slept in brief snatches that felt worse than none at all.