While Loki took his little “walk” around, you took your sweet time relaxing in the hot bath. While not as fine as the baths in Asgard, relaxing in the hot water here felt absolutely marvelous after the ridiculously long day that had transpired. After days like these, you wondered what life would be like when this was all over. Aside from wondering what would happen between you and Loki, you found it hard to picture yourself just hanging around this apartment, or even Manhattan, living a normal life. Perhaps that was due to having no memory of what your life was like before you met Loki in the Abyss. There was nothing that you could refer to in regards to what you had done before.
So what would you do with your life? Go to S.H.I.E.L.D. and become an “official” agent? Or perhaps Stark could get you some sort of job, though you weren’t quite sure that was a road you wanted to go down. What if Loki asked you to return to Asgard with him, assuming he intended to return? You would have liked to stay with him, even if it meant living in a different realm. While you still might not have worked up the courage to tell him directly, you loved Loki. You loved him, and you trusted him.
Though your trust didn’t mean there were never any questions.
What you had seen that morning, before even leaving the apartment with Anderson – the scars on Loki’s body. You knew, from when your memories had bonded with his, that it could have only been during his torture by the Other, but that had been long enough ago, so shouldn’t the wounds have been healed? One of Loki’s born abilities was rapid molecular regeneration (very fast healing from even the most deadly of wounds). So why did his scars still look fresh? You wanted to ask him so desperately, but you were also afraid to. Even now, Loki didn’t open up about things easily, and he was more likely to snap at you and be cross than even remotely answer your question. The last thing you wanted was for him to be angry with you, but you couldn’t help but worry for him. All his wounds were clearly not physical ones.
And then there were the other questions you had – why had there been files – your files – on Loki within S.H.I.E.L.D.’s database? What had Loki done (aside from the general trying to take over the world and being stopped by the Avengers) to merit your surveillance? And what part had Odin played in your being with S.H.I.E.L.D.?
You sighed heavily as you played with the ring Loki had given you. Given that the metal of the ring, and that of the chain, didn’t tarnish, you hadn’t bothered to take it off when you had reclined in the water. This little ring meant so much to you, reminding you of the one you had lost. What importance that had been, you wished you knew. It had brought you comfort whenever you were afraid or nervous, but what significance had there been for such a commonplace item to give you such a feeling? You still had that feeling every time you touched this ring you had now, out of reminder of your old ring, and a part of you feeling protected by the god of Mischief. Loki might not have been innocent putting you in sticky situations, but he had never truly abandoned you, and that was what made you trust him to the extent that you did.
He always came back for you.
You remained hopeful that this would never change, for the remainder of the time that you and he sought the mysteries going on, but even afterwards. You didn’t want Loki to leave, because you honestly didn’t know what life was like without him. You felt guilty that you kept thinking about him and worrying, but what other way could you know that you cared? You wouldn’t worry over someone you didn’t love…
The bath might have relaxed your tense body, but your mind was still not put to ease, even letting your thoughts wander so much. As you grabbed your towel and got out of the bath (admittedly with some reluctance), you decided that you weren’t going to think about any of the troubling things until it was necessary to. You had no clue when the “appropriate” time to think or ask Loki about his scars was, but the things about Odin could wait until you got back to Asgard, which would hopefully be soon. You would get answers from the Allfather, whether he was willing to relent them to you or not.
As you dried off and let the water drain from the bathtub, you heard the faint sound of someone coming down the hallway and stopping outside the bathroom door. You instinctively grew tense, but were put at ease a moment later as you felt Loki’s consciousness meet with yours.
I have returned, __________. Did you still wish to return to Asgard tonight? He thought to you.
You smiled softly as you turned towards the door and pulled it open, still only being covered by the towel wrapped around your body. You gave him a playful smile as you looked up at him through the mess of your wet hair. “Yeah, let’s go right now,” you replied with a laugh.
Loki paused for a moment, having not entirely expected you to be out of the water by now. And of course, even he was a little…surprised to see you wearing nothing but a towel that covered just enough for him to not see anything. Needless to stay, his look over you was a very detailed one. “Perhaps you would wish to dress first?” he asked back as he looked into your eyes. “While I have no reason to question your…attire, there might be some in Asgard who would.”
You gave another smile as you nodded, stepping forward and kissing his cheek softly. “Give me a few minutes and I should be ready,” you said softly as you stepped past him and walked quickly back towards your room to change.
Seeing you come out from your bath the way you had, even for Loki, had been a little bit surprised. Technically speaking, he had seen you in less, but there was a certain difference when one was allowed to see and when one wasn’t. The fact that you weren’t afraid to tease him about such things and yet not lose your modesty to him was one of the things about you that made him smile, and that was definitely saying something.
While you returned to your room to dress, Loki remained in the hall, waiting. Being here right now felt odd for him, and he was puzzled by it. His distaste for the mortal realm had nothing to do with it, because it didn’t feel that the problem was being in Midgard. As he thought about it, he found that the cause of his unease was being with you right now. But why? It was certainly not that he did not like your company, and you hadn’t done enough of anything that would warrant his displeasure. So what was this?
It was the way you were so kind with him right now. Loki had returned somehow expecting you to know, or at least be somewhat suspicious about where he had gone, but you’d not said a word or even given him a look that questioned him. You hadn’t done anything, except give him a sight he’d not been expecting to see, as well as a sweet kiss as you’d gone by and back to your room.
Surely this could not be guilt! This plan, his actions, they were not any new sin in his book of grievances, and yet now he felt great discomfort being in your presence. While pretending to help you look for the cause of the darkening sky and broken seals, he kept you unaware that he was half of the guilty party involved. You were angel to him, and knowing that he had done something against you while you remained in the dark of it, he didn’t like it. But would it really be any better for him if you knew what he had done, what he was doing? How could it be that going against you affected Loki more than when he had gone against Thor the many, many times?
Loki sighed deeply and rubbed his forehead. He was overthinking this. He had his plan, and he would abide by it. He had you, and he would be careful that you didn’t slip away, but he shouldn’t feel guilty, should he? He leaned against the wall as he waited for you, trying to push the thoughts out of his mind. This was becoming far more of an issue than it should be, in his mind. He could wage war against the whole of Midgard and not bat an eye, but thinking how you would react if you discovered the truth worried him greatly. Why couldn’t this be simple?
He shook his head slowly as he kept his eyes fixed on the door to your room. It had been a long day of excessive traveling, and he was very tired from it, and that must be why he was overthinking this. Give him a night of adequate rest with you by his side, and in the morning he could almost guarantee himself that he would be his usual self when he woke.
That’s what he kept telling himself, anyway.
It didn’t take long getting dressed for you. You grabbed some clean clothes from out of your closet and drawers and came skidding out into the hall in under ten minutes wearing a pair of ripped jeans, a black t-shirt, and white ankle socks. Of course, gracefully sliding across the wooden floor worked better in your mind than in reality, and before losing your balance, you grabbed for Loki’s arms and pulled yourself close to him just as your legs gave way.
Loki quickly held on to you and pulled you up, giving you a quizzical look the whole time. “Would you happen to have a reason for that?” he inquired slowly, like a parent would while trying to figure out the logic behind their child’s foolish actions.
You shrugged as you relented to his arms sliding around you and keeping you close. “It was a momentary opportunity too good to pass up,” you answered as maturely as you could, which, for the moment, wasn’t much of a mature answer. “Though thanks for catching me,” you added with a gracious smile.
Loki gave a slight nod in return as he brushed a bit of your wet hair from the side of your face. “Better I catch you than you fall to the floor and hurt yourself,” he replied as he studied your face for a moment, his eyes more innocent than you’d seen in well…almost ever. “You are a foolish girl, __________,” he murmured.
A sudden reminder of the first time Loki had said that to you jolted through your mind, and you felt a phantom pain on your hand from when you had cut it with the knife, to which Loki had used his magic to heal it. You hadn’t thought about that night in a while, and it felt weird to think of it now. You had been a different person then…apprehensive of the god of Mischief, and certainly not one to trust him any more than need be. How things had changed…
You stared into Loki’s eyes deeply, noting the trace hint of sadness that seemed to be there. “Loki, are you alright?” you asked quietly as you placed your hands on his chest slowly.
Loki blinked quickly and his look returned to his usual cunning appearance. “Why would you ask, ________?” he inquired smoothly.
Your lips parted slightly. “I…you just…”
Loki smirked softly as he leaned closer to you, his lips nearly touching yours. “You know you worry about things far too much,” he whispered as he kissed your lips slowly, tenderly, drinking in every moment as though it would be the last time he could ever possibly kiss you. When at last he did pull away from you, you longed for his lips to linger. You loved his kiss, his touch…his presence with you.
He looked into your eyes, very serious as he spoke. “I am fine, _______,” he said rather assuredly, though with Loki, you could only assume it was the truth.
You nodded rather quickly as you ran your fingers through your hair and tucked a few strands behind your ear. “If that’s your way of proving it, you’re more than welcome to convince me further,” you said quietly as you gave him a wry smile.
Loki gave an amused smirk as he let his hand rest at your side comfortably. “Perhaps at a different time,” he replied calmly. “Were you not the one who wished to return to Asgard as soon as possible?”
You nodded again, though a little more reluctantly than before. “Yeah, you’re right,” you agreed as you managed to slip from his grasp and walk to the edge of the hall. “Just help me get the lights and everything turned off first.”
Loki consented, and it only took the course of a few minutes to get what lights and other things in the apartment that needed turned off to be so. You weren’t exactly sure how long you and Loki would be away this time, given that time in the realms differed slightly, and you didn’t want to leave any unnecessary things on, else Stark might leave you with the electricity bill for a “lesson.” Ready to leave yet again, you took hold of Loki’s hand, and with the magic coursing through each other, strengthening the bond you shared, you two were gone.