Author's Note – This story is dedicated to my wonderful, amazing, and lovely friend, Cassandra. I hope you love it, my dear.
Warnings – There are none in this chapter.
Chapter Seven: So Were You
He doubted he could pretend to sleep for much longer. After all, he was sure that the heart-monitor had given him away at least three separate times, but Thor was just kind and courteous enough to realise that Loki needed time to get his thoughts together, so he ignored it and pretended along with him. But Loki had been pretending for almost a day and a half now, and he was sure that Thor was curious; sure that Thor had questions that he would like to ask before he allowed the police to come in.
"Yes?" Loki quietly replied keeping his eyes locked on the warm walls that were washed in a pale blue colour. They were calming colours and Loki hated them, because they did nothing to ease the thundering of his heart whenever he heard footsteps approaching his hospital-room.
"Are you … h-how are you feeling?" Thor cautiously asked, sounding as though he wasn't sure what he was supposed to say in such a situation. Loki didn't blame him. Besides feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness, Loki had no idea what to make of what happened to him. Perhaps he was still in shock; perhaps he was just numbing himself, trying to black out the trauma.
"Don't ask stupid questions, Thor."
Closing his eyes, Loki swallowed past the lump that seemed to have made permanent residence in his throat, and listened to Thor's shaky intake of breath. "Please … would you just look me? You haven't looked at me at all since we got here."
Despair bubbled up inside of him, and it took everything within Loki to keep the shattered remains of his recovered walls from breaking down once more, because he couldn't take it, couldn't handle it. Could Thor blame him for wanting to keep to himself? Would he take offense for Loki hiding and curling in on himself after what happened? He felt violated and ashamed of what happened. He felt disgusting and horrible and he didn't understand how Thor didn't feel that way about him after walking in on Odin … on his father …
He heard movement on his left and, even though he knew that it was only Thor, Loki couldn't help but tense his muscles and hold his breath, awaiting the assault. Nothing came, though, and Thor didn't move, as though he was aware of what he had done and froze, not wanting to scare Loki any more than what he already had. And knowing that Thor was thinking that way had another wave of self-deprecation wash over him. He truly was pathetic.
Thor reached over and gently took his hand, and Loki felt the tears welling up and slipping down his cheeks as he opened his eyes, squeezing his brother's hand back. Like when he first discovered Loki lying on that bed, Thor leaned down and gently pressed his lips to his forehead, running a hand gently through his hair.
"It's going to be okay," He whispered, voice soft, but full of so much conviction that it almost took Loki's breath away from sheer relief alone.
"How do you know?" Loki whimpered out, trying to control the emotions that were barrelling against him, suffocating him, overwhelming him.
"Because I'm right here, Loki," Thor replied, giving him a small smile. "And I'm not going to let anything happen to you ever again."
His words were enough to at least settle the turmoil that was causing havoc inside of him. It didn't take away his pain, though, or that nagging fear that lingered in the back of his mind, as though he was just waiting for Odin to walk into his hospital-room when Thor wasn't looking and hurt him once more. It was a ridiculous feeling. Odin wasn't coming back. He would be a fool to think he could come back and not get punished for what he had done. And if Loki wasn't going to extract revenge himself, the second Thor – or his mother – laid eyes on him he would be a dead man.
Thor didn't ask his questions. Loki could tell that there were several just by looking into those sparkling blue eyes, but he never asked them. Perhaps he could tell how close to breaking Loki was and took pity on him. Perhaps he just didn't care about the answers, because he was there and he wouldn't allow anything bad to happen to him anymore. Whatever the reason, Loki was grateful. For just a little while, he could pretend that things were normal, as though what happened never happened, as though Thor never left and still lived just across the hallway from him.
His presence had never been needed as much as it was in that moment. Growing up, Loki had always resented Thor. Though he had been his best friend for most of his life, Loki had always felt inadequate next to Thor. Thor was always big, always strong, always smiling, and always perfect. Loki felt like he was never good enough while standing beside his brother. Despite his bitterness, though, Loki needed Thor, had craved his attention. He was a beacon of love and happiness and joy and Loki had desired that affection like no other.
And then their world went to hell and Thor left.
Loki thought he would hate Thor for what he did, for leaving him all alone. But Thor was sitting right beside him now, had saved him from Odin, and it brought back the memories, the feelings that Loki would have when Thor was around. In that moment, he didn't care about anything else, but those feelings. Thor had always loved him. Though he might not have known how unworthy he used to make Loki feel, none of that really mattered anymore. Thor was always genuine when it came to those he loved, and Loki was most definitely one of few who he cared so deeply for.
So Loki closed his eyes and concentrated on how tightly he held onto Thor's hand. He took a deep breath and focussed on how the sound of Thor's voice felt calm and relaxing, how it seemed to reverberate throughout the room and rest over him like a comforting blanket. Thor was right beside him and he wouldn't leave him – not again. It would all be okay. He had to believe that.
Loki didn't know how long he lay there, listening to Thor talk about everything and nothing. To be honest, Loki wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying. All he knew was that when a tiny knock came on the door of his hospital-room, he felt his heart spike. It was involuntary and he felt ridiculous for panicking at the sound, but Thor merely squeezed his hand tighter, shushing him. His thumb brushed over the top of Loki's hand, hoping to ease the thundering of his heart, the adrenaline that was working throughout his system.
"Come in," He called, his voice gentle, but loud enough for the person on the other side to hear.
And when the door opened and the person walked in, pale face, kind blue eyes shimmering with unshed tears, Loki felt his heart spike for an entirely different reason, because standing in the doorway was his mother. The sight of her had the sob ripping from him, his heart hammering against his rib-cage, the walls breaking, crumbling once more, because she was finally here.
His body shook as he tried to sit up; Thor's now distant voice telling him to lie back down wasn't acknowledged as he used his brother's hand to anchor himself up. Of course, he didn't get all that far, because Frigga was there. Her arms were wrapped around his body, holding him close, and Loki freely cried into the crook of her neck, the agony and the shame and the fear all seeping from him.
"I'm sorry, baby," Frigga whispered the heart-ache clear in her own voice as she struggled in vain to hold back her own sorrow. She gently rocked him, her hands running up and down his back. "I am so sorry."
And she made it better. There was just something distinctly different about being comforted in the arms of a mother. He cried harder, felt harder, but she was there to absorb it all, to take from him the pain and the suffering that he had dealt with while she was gone. With here there, Loki felt just a little bit stronger, believed just a little bit harder that everything would be okay, because he had his mother and he had Thor. And that was enough for him.
-x- -x- -x-
It was as though nothing had changed. Sitting at the kitchen table with his mother at the stove and Thor munching on a stack of pancakes beside him, it was as though time had re-wound, bringing Loki back to a happier moment in his life where his family was at peace and his best friend had never left. He would have let himself believe that, too, if it weren't for the cloud that had formed over his head, preventing him from feeling happy or content or comfortable, because Loki wasn't that – relaxed, at ease, okay.
Every creak in the house, every groan that the foundation made whenever there was movement would set him off, leaving him feeling paranoid and tense. And though he had his mother and brother in the house with him, even though he knew deep down that he was safe with them, it did next to nothing to calm the racing of his heart. He was foolish to think otherwise. He was only kidding himself into thinking that any of it would be okay.
"Loki, you need to eat something," Frigga said, pulling him from his thoughts. Loki turned emerald green eyes towards her, wishing he hadn't only seconds later. Though her voice was as ethereal as ever, he could hear the guilt laced in her words, the shame she felt for leaving him. A part of Loki was glad, and he hated himself for feeling that way, but he couldn't help himself. None of it would have happened if she had been there. Of course, Loki was never able to think too much on that before the self-deprecation consumed him. How was she to know that Odin would rape him? How was she to know that she married a monster?
"I know," Loki eventually said, picking up the fork beside his plate. He wasn't hungry and the very idea of eating three pancakes made him feel ill, but Frigga was right. He hadn't eaten much at all since he was released from the hospital three days earlier.
Before he could start his meal, before he could force himself to take a steady breath and cut into the pancakes, Thor leaned over and took two of them, as though he could feel the anxiety that was rolling off of Loki and rescued him once more.
And like the weak, pathetic person he was, that damn lump in his throat tightened, the tears prickling at his eyes, and before Loki knew it, he was crying, because God, he couldn't even get through breakfast now without losing control over himself. Thor reached over and placed a hand on his arm, trying to comfort him in some way, but Loki shook his head and shrugged the hand off. He loved and hated Thor – loved him for being there and hated him for having to be there, as though Loki was too weak to take care of himself and he had to be his saviour.
"No, no, I'm fine. I'm fine," Loki forced out, ignoring how hard his voice sounded in his own ears. He angrily wiped at his tears and stabbed the pancake, tearing off a piece and stuffing it in his mouth, mechanically chewing and swallowing, not tasting.
Silence filled the kitchen, but Loki ignored how awkward and tense it felt. He had found that he was only able to handle one thing at a time, and Loki was dealing with that now – eating, putting food into his system, and keeping it there. But as the seconds turned into minutes and the silence continued, Loki could feel himself slowly getting angrier and angrier, because he realised then that they were waiting for him to snap. They – his mother and brother – were nervous, anxious about saying or doing anything around him for fear of him falling apart. And it felt like a stab of betrayal, causing him to drop his fork and stand, the chair screeching against the floor filling the room.
"Loki –" Frigga called, but didn't get to finish whatever it was she was going to say before she was rudely interrupted.
"I am not fragile," Loki snarled looking from his mother to Thor, who was staring at him with raised eyebrows, shocked that he was speaking in such a way. It occurred to him that they might not even know what he was talking about. He was basing the silence off of his own assumptions, but he couldn't stop now. "I'm not weak –" Lie. "– and I'm tired of you treating me like I'm going to break."
"Oh, honey –" The sound of a knock on the front door cut off Frigga, her kind blue eyes full of pity and grief, and Loki glared back at her, hating how she was staring at him like that. "I'll go answer the door," She replied after a moment, her voice soft, barely audible to her sons.
"You shouldn't talk to her like that, Loki," Thor said after she left. "You have no idea what she's going through right now," He picked up his and Loki's plates and took them to the sink.
Loki couldn't help but snort at Thor's words, emerald green eyes landing on the form of his brother, staring at him with a look of condescension. "Oh, I'm sure she isn't feeling anywhere near as to what I'm feeling right now," He returned bitterly, his hands shaking. Talk of what happened to him always left him feeling shaky and off-balanced.
"You don't know that," Thor said, leaning against the counter. "Guilt is a powerful feeling."
Loki didn't get the chance to reply – not that he even knew what he could possibly say to something like that – because right after the words left his mouth, Frigga returned with two police-officers. Her face was pale, but there was no denying the fact that she looked relieved. Loki immediately braced himself.
"Loki, these are Detectives Romanoff and Barton. They are the ones assigned to your case," Frigga said, introducing the two police-officers now standing in their kitchen. He tried to ignore their piercing stares, tried to ignore how his mother labelled it as his case.
Thor stepped forward, pushing himself away from the counter and moving towards them. "It's good to see you again," He said, shaking the woman's hand and then the man's. Loki furrowed his brow before realisation dawned on him. He always thought it strange how he wasn't approached by the police while he was in the hospital. It appeared as though Thor had made it so, and Loki swallowed heavily past the lump that was rising in his throat. "I hope you have good news for us."
"We do," Detective Romanoff said with a nod of her head. Her eyes then turned to Loki, his breath immediately halting. "We found your father this morning," Loki's heart started pounding in his chest, his fists clenching as he tried to keep his emotions in check, but to no avail. "He's behind bars."
Thor placed his hand on Loki's shoulder, as though he could sense the hysteria building, and Loki leaned into the touch, needing that strong support. He had no idea why he felt the panic rising within him, had no idea why his body shook. All he knew was that his anxiety was rising and he needed them to go.
"Oh, thank goodness," Frigga said, sighing in relief. She let out a small laugh, putting her hand on her chest, as though she could feel the load lifting from her shoulders. Of course, at the blank expressions on the two Detective's faces, her face fell some. "What? What is it?"
"We're here for a testimony," Romanoff said, her voice authorative and devoid of all emotion. Her gaze was still locked on Loki, and he could feel his jaw clenching.
"Loki –" Frigga started, shock clouding over her face as she turned to look at him.
But Loki wouldn't hear of it. He could feel a wave of anger washing over him, his breath coming out sharply, because did they not care what he thought? "Look, all I want to do is get this past me, so I can pretend like nothing happened," Loki snapped, running a hand through his hair. He could hear the blood pumping furiously through his veins and it was enough to make his anxiety rise. They were all staring at him.
"Loki, honey –" Frigga tried, but Loki shook his head, immediately stepping to the side when she reached for him. He wouldn't be consoled like he was some child.
"No-one asked me what I wanted," His voice was getting louder, and Loki briefly wondered if it was just his fear that was causing it to rise in volume. He didn't give it much thought afterwards, though. Their eyes were locked on him and, the more they stared, the angrier he became. "No-one asked if I wanted any of this!"
"You didn't ask for any of this, Loki, and we're sorry that it's happened to you, but the fact remains – we need that testimony to give your father a lengthy sentence," Detective Romanoff said with that cool, detached expression of hers. "That means –"
"I know what it means!" Loki exclaimed, but he wasn't sure the woman even heard him over Thor's.
"My brother is well aware of what –"
"Can we all just relax, please? Let's take a seat and discuss this," Frigga said in a soothing, placating tone, raising her hands as though she could calm the situation down with her voice alone. And Loki was sure that if they were dealing with anything but this, she probably could. But she wasn't, so her words fell on deaf ears.
Thor said something to Romanoff, which was followed by another comment from the detective that immediately set off another round of Thor's exuberant voice, coming to Loki's defence. Sounds were both loud and distant, all blurring together, making his head spin and his ears ring. Loki closed his eyes and grabbed a hold of the back of the chair he was previously sitting on. Could they not tell that he was getting ready to break – and the irony of him just moments ago saying that he wouldn't … well; it would have made him laugh if he wasn't under such duress – into so many tiny pieces? Could they not tell that he was barely hanging on, that the situation was almost enough to have him in tears?
"Can I have a moment alone with Loki?"
The question, the request, silenced the arguing, causing all eyes – Loki's included – turning to Detective Barton, who had been standing off to the side. He wasn't paying them any mind, and it took Loki a moment to realise that he was actually speaking to him, asking him for a moment alone.
Too shocked to say anything, Loki merely nodded his head.
It took a few seconds before the others realised that they weren't wanted or needed. Thor and Frigga slowly left, obviously uncomfortable with leaving Loki alone, but they didn't say anything, which Loki was grateful for. He didn't know what he would do if they tried to interject. Detective Romanoff was the last to leave, giving her partner an indecipherable look that Barton ignored.
Once she was gone, he pulled out a chair and sat down. "I bet you feel like shit right now."
"Astute observation – I wonder what gave it away," Loki snarled suddenly. He was so tired of trying to keep it together, of trying to keep his head above water. Running a hand through his hair, Loki sighed impatiently, cursing the trembling in his hand. "What do you want?"
"What do you want?" The reply came, throwing Loki off.
"Well, you seem lost, probably going along with your family, because you have no idea what else to do," Barton shrugged, clasping his hands together on the table. "You've been out of the hospital for a few days now. What is it that you want?"
"To forget," Loki found himself saying, not knowing whether he should still be furious or if he would rather break down and cry, because the lump in his throat was becoming too painful to hide.
"Sorry, kid, but that's not going to happen."
It only took a moment for Loki to make up his mind – he'd rather stay angry for the time being. "What the hell is that supposed to mean? How the hell would you know how I'm feeling or what I'm going through?"
"You're not on an island on your own here. There are other people who have been through what you're currently going through."
"Well, sorry, but my friends' fathers haven't been raping them, so it's not like I can just come out and tell them about it," Loki shot back, chest heaving in anger. He felt as though he wanted to break something. "And, for the record, I don't appreciate you sitting in my house, talking to me like you have some clue as to how I'm feeling. You have no idea."
Detective Barton didn't say anything and Loki was sure that he would get up and leave or call the others back in, especially after the way he just talked to him. When that didn't happen, when all he did was roll up the sleeves of his shirt, Loki found that he was confused. Only after he took a good look at the man's left forearm did he realise what he was seeing. And just like that, the fight was knocked out of him.
"My brother gave this to me when I was sixteen. I was trying to run away from him when he caught me."
"I don't …" Loki shook his head, looking from the scar to Barton. He could feel his throat constricting painfully. "Why are you showing me that?"
"I may know more than anyone what you're going through," Barton said, his voice quiet and meaningful. Loki held his breath, knowing that there was more, heaviness filling him, because whatever else he would say would be bad, would strike too close to home than he was comfortable with. "My parents died in a car accident when I was thirteen, so it was just my brother and I for the longest time. I was fifteen when he started touching me."
Slowly sinking into the closest available seat, Loki pressed his lips together, willing himself to stay calm. He couldn't take his eyes off of the scar that ran down the length of Detective Barton's forearm, at the constant reminder of a horrible past that probably still haunted him after so many years. "How … does it go away?" Loki asked, finally looking up with unshed tears standing in his eyes. He needed to know.
"In time it does."
Loki slowly nodded his head, swallowing thickly. "And … your brother …"
"I don't know," Barton replied, leaning back in his seat. He pulled his sleeves down, hiding the scar. "I didn't call the police, didn't tell anyone until several years after. That was my mistake. He's still out there somewhere and I was too afraid to put him away."
"Yeah," Loki whimpered, unable to hold back the tears, unable to stop from slipping. He knew what Barton was trying to tell him, knew what he was trying to convey, and making it clear what would happen if he didn't say anything. But he was just scared and terrified of what would happen if he did.
Detective Barton seemed to realise that, because he leaned forward slowly, resting his arms overtop the table. "Loki, you're not going to see him anymore. You don't have to see him to give that testimony. Your voice alone will be powerful enough to put him behind bars for good. You don't have to, though, if you don't want to. Do you understand that?" Loki nodded his head, but didn't say anything. He clenched his hands tightly together, willing them to stop shaking. "It's okay to be afraid."
"I just want it to end. I don't want to do this anymore," Loki said, choking back a sob, willing himself to calm down, only to no avail. His heart was thundering in his chest and he felt breathless. The look on Barton's face only made him cry that much harder, because the look in his eyes wasn't pity – it was empathy.
A sheet of paper was put on the table and slid towards him along with a pen. "Write down what happened and it will at least be the start."
-x- -x- -x-
He didn't knock like he would have normally done, choosing instead to simply walk inside the mansion and make his way down to the work-shop where he knew he'd find him. And Loki's assumptions were correct. When he walked down into the work-shop, he found Tony leaning over one of the many work-benches, scribbling something down on a tablet, mumbling under his breath. It was a sight that was so familiar and relaxing that it had Loki smiling softly for the first time in such a long time.
Loki didn't say anything when he moved to one of the work-benches and hoisted himself on top of it, but he could tell that Tony knew that he was there. His head had cocked to the side and his body had involuntarily angled towards him. But he said nothing, and Loki could feel his body relaxing even more.
Loki watched and Tony worked. That was how it was for a few hours. Only when Tony walked to the coffee-machine and poured two cups did he finally turn and meet emerald green eyes. He closed the distance between them and leaned against the work-bench where Loki was sitting, handing him a cup. Loki smiled gratefully and took it.
He knew that Tony knew. Of course, he knew. A father raping his youngest son was just something that the police couldn't keep hidden from pesky reporters who were standing around, waiting for a good hit that would boost their career. Word had gotten out and a few stories were broadcasted over the news, but Loki didn't care in that moment. He was sure that Tony had questions, but Loki knew Tony, and he knew that he wouldn't say anything, not until Loki was ready.
So when Loki shifted closer to Tony and pressed his knee against his hip, nothing was said. And nothing was said when Tony leaned against Loki's knee – at least, not until he turned his head, chocolate brown eyes catching emerald greens. He grinned. "I could use your help."
And that was when Loki knew that it was going to be okay.