A/N - Heyyyy guess who isn't dead. I'm back with more Loki!
The thing is, Loki had never been in love.
He could count on one hand the amount of crushes he'd had. It would take more than a few hands to count how many times Loki had had sex, but sex was different. Sex was easy. Feelings were not.
And the list of people that Loki loved was even fewer. That list had drastically decreased in the past few months—in fact, the only person on that list right then was Thor. And Loki didn't even know if Thor was alive.
(No, scratch that, Thor wouldn't—couldn't—die. He was too stubborn, too annoyingly alive, too crackling with life and passion, to do something as mortal as dying)
He thought he could love Sylvie on Lamentis, but he quickly realized that things were much more complicated than that. Loving Sylvie would be, as Mobius so delicately put it, a classic narcissist move, except that wasn't quite right. Loki wasn't sure he liked himself all that much; on bad days he outright hated himself. But Loki was fiercely proud at the same time. He loved himself. He valued his pride, his ambition, his cunning, and praised himself like he was his own cheerleader. It was a blatant contradiction. But that didn't matter. Loki lived for the contradictions, the messy, the chaos. He was the God of Mischief, after all.
But what was clear was that he didn't love Sylvie. Not in a romantic sense. He cared about her (if not wanting her to die a horrible death meant he cared about her) and he understood her on a deep, fundamental level, a level that married couples couldn't reach after decades of being together. Yet that wasn't a romantic relationship.
That was why Loki got so irritated when Mobius flippantly brought out the Sylvie thing.
"What's so funny?" Loki snapped when Mobius raised an eyebrow and laughed.
"Oh, c'mon. Look at your eyes," Mobius said, even though there was no way for Loki to see his own eyes unless Mobius brought out a fucking mirror. Loki was about to point that out when Mobius added, "You like her."
Loki spluttered. "What?"
"You like her. Does she like you?" Mobius was smiling, but his eyes were not.
Loki didn't bother to dignify that with a response. "Was she pruned?" He asked instead, hoping the conversation would shift, but no such luck.
Mobius ignored that. "I mean, no wonder you have no clue what caused the nexus event on Lamentis. Both of you were just swooning over each other."
"We were not swooning," Loki said, outraged at the mere idea. Loki didn't swoon. "Look. Just tell me. Was Sylvie pruned?"
"Sylvie? Is that what she's calling herself?" Mobius jotted down a note. Loki wanted to punch him—he was just so insufferable. God. Loki had thought he'd never find anyone as irritating as Thor, but no. Thor had his match met with Mobius.
"What do you want, Mobius," he began, but Mobius cut him off with another curt laugh.
"It's the apocalypse," Mobius said. "Two Variants of the same being, especially you, forming this kind of sick, twisted romantic relationship. That's pure chaos. That could break reality. It's breaking my reality right now. What an incredible, seismic narcissist. You fell for yourself."
"Fuck you," Loki said, but without much heart. It wasn't so much what Mobius had said—Loki had heard far worse—but it was the way Mobius had said it. Like Loki was a broken, fucked-up being, like he was a disappointment, like he was, worst of all, predictable. "And I didn't fall for myself, asshole," he added. You don't have to justify yourself to him, a voice told him, but the need to explain himself was there all the same. "You can care about people without wanting to…" Loki's voice trailed off.
Mobius raised an eyebrow. He seemed amused at the prospect that Loki was embarrassed. "Without wanting to what?"
"Without wanting to fuck them," Loki finished. He took satisfaction in the way Mobius cleared his throat too loudly and glanced off to the side. "Surely you know how it works? Or do you not get a chance for extracurricular activities in the Time Variance Authority? Because I can explain it to you. You see, Mobius, when mommy and daddy love each other very much—"
"You can never shut up, can you?" Mobius said, but his voice was a shade too loud. "We're getting off-topic. What was your plan? Your grand master scheme with, er, Sylvia, was it?"
"Sylvie," Loki corrected. "Is she alive?"
"For now," Mobius said, and Loki relaxed.
Mobius noted the movement and raised an eyebrow as though to say, I told you so.
"So. Was infiltrating the TVA, was that your plan?"
Loki had to tell Mobius. He took Mobius out of this bureaucratic atmosphere and tried to place him at a random place on Earth. California, maybe. A house by the beach, maybe a wife (or a husband), maybe a couple of kids, maybe a jet-ski. Maybe Mobius was a professor. Loki could see him as a professor.
"Loki?" Mobius prompted.
"Perhaps," Loki said, filing those thoughts away. "Our interests were aligned."
Mobius scoffed. "Over-throwing the Time-Keepers?"
"Maybe they should be overthrown."
"I oughta box your ears."
Loki lifted his chin in an inviting dare. Go on, then. Mobius didn't rise to the bait.
Fuck. Loki wasn't supposed to be fighting with Mobius, he was supposed to convince Mobius that his entire known life was a lie. "Look, Mobius. There's something that Sylvie told me—"
"Ah, yes. Sylvie. Your terrorist girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend," Loki growled.
"All right, then. Your female self that you have some demented crush on."
"I don't have a—oh, go to hell, Mobius."
"I've been there, and it sucks," Mobius said dryly. He leaned in closer. "Why does it bother you so much? That I call her your girlfriend?"
"Because she's not," Loki said with feeling, but his heart had skipped a beat. Mobius was very close to him now. Close enough to—close enough to what? To strangle? To snap his neck? Somehow that wasn't quite right.
"Right." Mobius settled back with a slight smile.
It was now or never. Loki spoke with all the sincerity he could muster, with all the truth in his lying heart. "You're all Variants!" he blurted out. "Everyone who works at the TVA. The Time-Keepers didn't create you. They kidnapped you from the timeline, and erased your memories. Memories Sylvie can access through enchantment. So before this, you had a past, maybe you had a family, a life."
His voice rang out in the emptiness of the room. The silence that followed was painful.
Loki searched Mobius' eyes, desperate for a glimmer of something, anything. For a second Loki thought he had done it. Mobius's eyes were dark, searching, and lost, but then the shutters fell. "Huh," Mobius said. "Not bad, actually. For a second I almost believed you."
"Mobius. I'm not lying." When Mobius scoffed, Loki said, "It's true. It's all true."
"Okay. Sure. Now why would I believe you? You've done nothing but lie to me since day one. You're a Loki."
Loki's jaw clenched. "I thought we were—"
"Friends?" Mobius finished with a mocking smile. "Loki. You destroyed any chance of friendship when you betrayed me." He began to rifle through some papers in a dismissive manner. Loki sagged against the chair as the fight drained out of him.
It was fine, Loki told himself. He didn't need Mobius for this, anyway. Sylvie was no doubt hatching some sort of plan. They'd break out of here, together, then they'd kill the Timekeepers and set all the Variants in the TVA free. Mobius included. And Loki would be able to say I told you so however many times he liked.
"Well, that's it, I guess." Mobius eyed Loki with something akin to displeasure. Loki hated that look. He'd gotten that same exact half-pitying, half-disappointed look from Odin, from Frigga, from Thor, from Heimdall, from countless others. "I'm going to close this case," said Mobius. "As you said. Our interests are no longer aligned."
Mobius made a gesture. As the Minutemen came over to drag Loki back into that hellhole with Sif, he grabbed Mobius' wrist. Mobius didn't jerk away as he'd expect. Instead, Mobius met his gaze with a look that said, This should be good.
"You know," said Loki, "of all the liars in this place, and there are a great many, you're the biggest."
"Really?" Mobius said. "Well, enlighten me. Why is that?"
"You're lying to yourself," Loki said. Mobius' skin was warm under his, and Mobius finally pulled his hand away and stood up.
"Take him away," Mobius said, addressing the Minutemen, before walking away.
Loki watched him go.