Loki walked quietly through the halls, careful to keep to the shadows and mask his footsteps.

It was not so much that he was up to mischief, rather he would prefer that no one followed him.

Actually it was more of a habit to be quiet and sneaky than a conscious decision. One of his favorite feelings was the moment when he had pulled off a trick and everyone knew it was him but could not prove it, which necessitated that he developed some rather quirky behavior.

He was following Thor's advice, another reason to keep his mission quiet, and was going to visit the soldier he had saved from Laufey the other day.

It would most likely be short and uncomfortable, but he much preferred to do this sooner rather than later at a time and place that might not be to his liking.

He fully believed Thor in his claim that the soldier would track him down later if he did not visit him first.

So it was that he walked through the door to the healing room and stuck to the wall as he observed the room. It was not long after dinner and most of the palace was awake.

He spotted the soldier, thankfully on one of the end beds and conveniently by himself. He made his way over, returning the nods that were given to him and he settled on a chair next to the bed.

"Hello," he said awkwardly. The soldier was not asleep but his eyes were closed and he felt bad when he flinched with the sudden proximity.

Brown eyes snapped open and he stuttered out, "Prince Loki!"

He gave him a small smile, "Just Loki, if you don't mind. I must apologize, I do not believe I know your name." He extended a hand.

The man shook it as he moved into a sitting position, "Gunnar, pri- Loki. Sorry."

Loki waved him off and continued casually, trying to put the man at ease, "I understand from my brother that you intended to seek me out and I wanted to spare you the trouble. We both did our duty, thanks are not necessary."

Gunnar shook his head, "I beg to differ, sir."

Loki flinched a little at the title and Gunnar gave him a rueful smile, "It's not a habit I'm likely to break soon, sir."

"Very well," Loki said with a matching smile.

Gunnar continued, "What you did was above and beyond, sir, and I am very grateful for your actions. Without a doubt you saved my life. I am at your service should you need me for anything."

Loki was usually uncomfortable on the scarce occasions that someone other than his family gave him such high praise, and as much as he detested the back and forth nature that was demanded in order to avoid seeming conceited, he understood that in this case it was not necessary.

He could accept the compliment and thanks and not fight it.

Loki regarded the young man in front of him and reached to put a hand on his shoulder, "It would be enough for me to consider you a friend. Your service in the army is appreciated and we can both agree that the circumstances were unusual. You must tell me how you came to be fighting Laufey in the first place," Loki directed the conversation toward a more comfortable topic.

He watched in amusement as Gunnar brightened and became animated, "Well, we had started with the regiment and somehow or another they broke through the center and divided our forces. It was pretty hectic, anyway, and I…"

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Thor watched from the doorway, not close enough to hear what was being said, but confident enough in his ability to read his brother to see how it was going.

He smiled when he saw Loki relax and put a hand on the soldier's shoulder. Confident that it was going well, he turned to leave and his smile widened as he saw his brother settle in to listen to what looked like a riveting story.