Narugami is mopping the floor of the coffee shop, which is something he enjoys because it is something he understands. The motions of mop-in-water, mop-on-floor, mop-in-bucket-again are simple and repetitive but he respect the purpose in the rhythm. The floor will become dirty again in time, but when he is finished for the night it will have been changed for the better. It will be newer in a way, and the accomplishment of that won't be demeaned by tomorrow's detritus. Nothing done with dedicated labor is ever really futile.

Narugami realizes he has started to think of himself as Narugami. It strikes him as funny in the way funny can really just mean strange, considering what a relatively short time he has been in this human body, thinking with this human mind. Perhaps it's an aspect of the form itself. Thor has disguised himself to walk among people but has never been connected to the costume; Narugami is anchored to the earth, drawn down by the magnetic poles and the aging of his own body. It makes the situation feel more real than any of the other times Thor has been on Midgard, and less like playing house. Thor is a god of physicality but only as Narugami has he truly learned about the physical, the gnawing whine of hunger, the drugged intensity of exhaustion. Only as Narugami can he feel how heavy his hammer is to lift.

Loki calls him Narugami too, for obnoxious and obtuse reasons of his own. Probably it's mocking, a way of rubbing it in that Narugami is stuck here with him. It's certainly not out of a desire to keep up a good front; Loki's always been an arrogant little bastard and being human and a child has done nothing to change that. He's kept his name and dresses like he's in another century he'd probably rather be in and lives in that mansion with his son trussed up like a servant. Narugami almost never sees him without that Daidouji from his class, who is jarringly at odds with the refined and indifferent presence Loki seems to be trying to project. But Daidouji has an odd talent for insinuating herself into situations she shouldn't exactly be in, and knowing Loki he probably just considered it easier to give her her way than to to argue.

Sometimes though, when it's late and Narugami has only Mjollnir and memories of the vulnerability of Loki's small and spindly limbs and the shadows beneath his eyes, he concedes, if only privately, that it might be Loki's way of reminding himself that he's on Midgard with no way out, that it's a mark of resignation as small and peculiar as the trickster's new body.

It's hard not to like Loki. That's the problem. Even knowing what he's done and what he will do, you can't help but like him. You'll laugh at the jokes he'll make while stabbing you in the back. That's just the way things are. It's the way things have always been.

It's why Heimdall hates him so much and why so much of that hatred is blind rage. Freyr is just Freyr, as hysterical as he always is after a few hundred years away from his sister, but something in Heimdall would rather forgive Loki than kill him, and he fights that almost as much as he struggles with Loki himself.

In a fair fight they both know Thor would win, but Loki would never fight fair. It's simply not in his nature, the way it would not be in the nature of a crocodile. There's no opportunity Loki won't exploit, no lie he won't tell, because he is the god of hard laughter and harder eyes, of deception and charisma and little sympathy. Thor is the god of the practical and fair, of people who have sensible gazes and skilled hands. He no more has it in him to kill Loki for crimes not yet committed than Freyr could stop loving Freya upon command.

Odin knew that and he must have known Thor wouldn't obey that order, which is why Narugami is patient instead of panicky. There's something bigger here, something suspiciously like fate and hopefully even as a human Narugami has enough time to find out what it is.

His father, who traded his eye for his wisdom, once told Thor something that Narugami is beginning to understand. While gods have infinite time at their disposal, they can only stay stationary in it. Gods can't rebel against what they are because a god and his nature are one and the same. Humans have a handful of decades but unlimited choices to make in them. This is the only factor capable of evening the two out, that can make the situation of either bearable.

So Narugami goes to high school and works in the manner of his worshipers and begins to think of a drafty room as home. He doesn't trust Loki but eats what Yamino feeds him, and Loki only complains about it in a perfunctory and lethargic way because even he recognizes a favor being repaid when he sees it. Somehow Loki seems older, his forehead furrowing more often as if there were more to be considered than pure opportunity.

Narugami still isn't sure what to do with his humanity. He's not as clever as Loki or as driven as Heimdall. He doesn't have a mission or the elegance to lounge around in his exile. It still seems to him that all there really is to life in Midgard, as there was in Asgard, is the work in front of him now. And now is an endless quantity for both humans and gods.

Narugami can feel his calluses against the handle of the mop. They're the first he's ever had, and he rubs his thumb over them on his way home after he closes the shop.