a/n: Though originally not intended as a sequel to Awake My Soul, it is probably best to read that first.
(This has been edited since the original publishing for errors and minor plot fixes.)
a head full of doubt
'There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light,
in the fine print they tell me what's wrong and what's right.
And it comes in black and it comes in white,
and I'm frightened by those that don't see it.'
Things around Loki have always tended to just resolve themselves, whether it be a broken vase or a broken bone.
He had always healed faster than other children on Asgard; he understands when he is grown that these things had been early signs of magic. Magic had always been, and would always be, what made him different. If nothing else helped single him out from Thor, at least he always had magic. While Thor trained with his father and observed how to be a king, Loki was off strengthening his mind and his talents.
Of course, as a small child he never expected what he would become: unfailingly precise and particularly gifted. On these things Loki prides himself, even if his father will never truly know of them. Finally Loki had a reason to feel special, something that he wouldn't find again until his fall from disgrace to earth when he meets her.
Somehow, she manages to change everything.
He pushes his mind past her face, her smell, her warmth, and onto more important issues, like a way to ensure that Nick Fury is busy for a bit while he slips back to earth to further his plans.
After plans are made and being pushed into action, his thoughts once again return to her. He wonders briefly how it's possible to miss someone so much even a god aches from it, but mostly he wonders if she still misses him.
Thor has managed to make his way back to Earth, and if nothing else Loki fears this. Loki has spent the vast majority of his life coming in second to the god of thunder and he's not sure how to handle this when it comes to Jane.
Thor is many things that Loki can never hope to be, the most important of which being certain of his heart and feelings.
Thor marches through life swinging his hammer and drinking his wine, laughing and charming all the women, while Loki tip toes around corners and speaks in soft tones, observing and practicing caution.
Thor understands how to wear his heart on his sleeve, and Loki finds that he doesn't believe in such frivolities.
Things are different from when Thor left. Loki isn't some whirlwind charmer - he's slow and steady, and she knows she's fallen in love with him the second before he leaves.
She doesn't know how she's managed it, but she's given her heart to the alleged god of mischief, which seems a considerably bad idea.
Still, he leaves and she mourns, until the day she is woken by a bright light outside her window and she hopes, hopes, hopes it's him.
As she's spent her life chasing storms and anomalies and truth, she's pretty hard to just completely surprise, but when she sees blond hair instead of black, she forgets how to breathe. She's pictured this moment over a thousand times and it is still nothing she's expected.
She feels anger and excitement and exhaustion all bubble inside her chest as he stands.
His blue eyes hit her own, and she can tell he's just as speechless as she is and everything freezes in a comical way. She thinks back to that night she ran him over and then proceeded to decide he was the most gorgeous thing she'd ever seen.
Thor's beauty is completely opposite from Loki's; Loki is pure edges and lines and definition, but Thor is round and warm and soft.
"Jane." He says it quickly, as if tasting how it feels on his tongue after all of these months.
The way the word forms makes her think he hasn't allowed it to slip from between his lips for months.
"Jane." He repeats himself, and she's suddenly realizing the seriousness of this moment because she doesn't know how to tell him that she's been waiting for his brother and not him.
"Thor." She speaks gently, her arms crossed.
He notices this but says nothing, instead he moves towards her. She takes an involuntary step back, which only causes him to frown at her.
"I'm sorry that it has taken me so long to return to you." He breathes a heavy sigh and she knows he truly means it. "But after the Bifrost was destroyed, Loki fell to his death and it took a great many months to rebuild."
She is struck that he believes Loki to be dead, and not for the first time she wonders what Loki has up his sleeve.
Thor moves closer to her, his hands in her hair and lips on hers in a matter of moments and she thinks she might be crying when he pulls away, eyes dancing in confusion and expression weary. She knows he's hurt, but Jane refuses to give into him, not while her heart lies so many miles away.
A heart that she is unlikely to ever get back.
"Thor, I think we should talk."
Loki ducks in the shadows of the night and watches as Thor kisses her - his Jane.
He's dealt with many cases of disappointment and hurt from his pseudo-father, but nothing prepares him for what the sight does to his heart.
After a moment he sees her back away and a smile works its way onto his face. Perhaps she knows that he's still out here waiting for the right moment to return to her.
He can't do that right now without putting her in terrible danger, and he can't allow it to happen to someone as good and kind as Jane. As a being who has always focused solely on himself, it was a drastic difference to worry about someone else for a change. Yet, as he watches Thor touch her he feels the irrational urge to reveal himself, no matter the consequences.
However he decides to simply let them go to where he assumes Jane will explain to Thor that her loyalties have shifted in their ties. He turns his back to the scene and allows his feet to lead him back to his own dwellings where he lies in wait for Erik to return home before going to meet that pain in his ass Nick Fury.
He knows with a pang of guilt that Jane would not approve of what he's doing, but this is his destiny, and he can't change that.
She has to know who she's fallen in love with, and yet she still waits for him. The thought does enough to comfort him as he possesses Erik's mind long enough to make sure he's in on Fury's plan.
Things are shaping up nicely for him, but still he dreads something is missing. She can't be his – not now, maybe not ever. The thought of never feeling her skin again knocks a proverbial hole in his black heart, and not for once does he feel like some shadow that has the brightest of all light shed on it. He's not sure how to balance the black and white in his chest, but he knows that a paradigm is shifting.
He feels even more conflicted as he looks at her picture in the breast pocket of his over coat, thinking that things would have been much easier if he'd just chosen to stay with her.
The conversation she's going to have with Thor is probably going to be one of the most painful she'll ever have with anyone. Thor is still looking at her with his wide, dewy, blue eyes.
She knows that what she has to say to him is going to hurt both of them, but the certainty she will not say anything about Loki helps to urge the bravery.
Trying to be normal, she does things she'd do with any guest by offering him food or beverage and then inviting him to sit down. She thinks back to when she had waited for him, wishing that he would return so badly she'd almost suffocated.
Now she finds herself dreading him being in front of her. She reflects at how amazing the difference a year can make is.
His blond hair is longer and his muscle is more defined, she's smart enough to know that he's been training for something. She ponders briefly if Loki knows what it is, but of course he must; Loki tends to know a great many more things than she does. She feels like her heart is being pushed in a thousand different directions as Thor's large hands engulf her small wants and she wishes more than anything that he could have just been enough.
"I waited for you." She speaks finally, deciding to go about this in the most careful way, as if he is glass and her words may shatter him. "I searched the skies and cosmos for you, I hoped and prayed, but sometimes, Thor, faith isn't enough."
She's sworn she isn't going to cry, but she can feel the lump that is rising in her throat and she can't help the anger that spills from between her lips. She's tired of always waiting instead of moving on.
"I did everything, everything, I could to find you and you never - never came!" She breathes a shaky breath to try and calm her heart but it's too late. "You promised me! You said you'd come back and one day I woke up and realized that I was being stupid. You were never coming back for me.
"You were the first man I have ever loved, but I can see now that I wasn't in love with you. And you weren't in love with me either." She sighs, suddenly so terribly exhausted that she wants nothing more than to slump on the table. "You and I were simply stumbling along until we found what was next in our destiny." She ends her rant softly, but his eyes still hold a heaviness she hasn't seen in them since he left.
"I understand, Jane, I am at fault for this. I am sorry to have caused you more pain by being here. Any man you have chosen in undoubtedly worthy of your affection." He says kindly, in a way that makes her heart twist in guilt.
She wonders if his chivalry would still be as potent if he knew that the man she has chosen is his brother, but knowing Thor, that piece of information probably wouldn't change anything. She can't decide if this makes her feel better or worse.
Loki takes to watching her more closely, so much so it's quickly becoming the most important thing he does with his time. For some inexplicable reason, she twists all the demons inside his chest into something much lighter indeed. Her kindness and trust are things that morph him into a better being - it frightens him.
For the most part, he finds the human race to be trivial and easily manipulated. Still, the sight of her soft eyes makes his heart stop, and he's not used to these emotional ties.
He sees her eyes drift toward the sky and wishes he could read minds. Instead he is further pushed into confusion when she simply signs and wraps a button-up shirt he had once worn around her shoulders in the cool breeze of the autumn night.
It is a small motion, but to Loki it means almost everything.
He watches as she reads a thick tome before she falls asleep every night and realizes with a pang that it's a book on folklore, a shockingly familiar book. He is suddenly aware he has given her nothing to go on for months. She has had no sign that he is even still alive and he thinks that he's been horribly selfish.
The alien feeling of shame washes throughout him.
He waves his fingers over the ground in her front yard.
Escaping from her property before the urge to see her completely overpowers him and forces him to go to her and never leave her side again. He thinks that she just might be driving him completely mad. Some days he's not sure he really minds that much.
She stumbles out of her bed one early morning with her hair messy and neck hurting from falling asleep in a less that comfortable position. Privately she thinks it's a miracle she sleeps at all. Her thoughts almost always are filled with Loki, and she can't help but feel anger and sadness within her. Thor visits her sometimes, but mostly he's learned that she's moved on even if he doesn't know to whom.
Despite the anger and hurt she feels, the breath still manages to escape from her lungs as she steps outside to receive her morning paper. Her entire yard is filled with the most beautiful lilies, bursting into life in bold splashes.
She can remember when his magic barely produced three flowers, and now there were hundreds.
She simply sits in her field of flowers, tears slipping to the earth as she sighs with relief. He's alive and he's watching her; he knows that she's still waiting for him.
Her moment of serenity is crushed when an unexpected visitor arrives and causes her to leap to her feet a wide smile splayed across her kind face.
"Erik!" She exclaims happily.
It'll be good to have someone normal around for a change, someone who always had a knack for simply getting her.
"It is so nice to see yo- What's wrong?" She asks because his face is dark and concerned. She feels uneasy seeing it.
Sighing in a tired and resigned fashion, Erik looks down at her, blue eyes serious.
"You may be in danger, Jane. I've been helping an old friend and we've discovered that there may be a threat to your life." He speaks quickly, like his very words may hurt her, but she can't understand.
She simply stares at him for a moment before asking, "Who is it Erik? What does anyone want to do with me?"
She half expects his answer.
"Loki, Thor's brother, has been trying to undermine our operation for some time now. We recently found that he's been making frequent stops to one place, usually more than once a week." He explains carefully, as if to a child, "He's been coming here, Jane, and we aren't sure why but we think it may be because of your extensive knowledge of the Bifrost or your previous, erm, attachment to Thor."
Finally Jane understands what Loki left her to accomplish and she closes her eyes in desperation for this to be a dream. Surely she was more to him than a cheap shot at his brother or his plans, but she's learned that she can't ever be too sure what Loki's intentions are. She suddenly feels very foolish, like a silly child.
She wonders if her heart can crack anymore without shattering.
Feeling himself slipping into a frenzy because he doesn't know where she could have gone, he decides he needs to find her. But, he has other plans that must be completed before he can start an intensive search for her through magic.
Loki doesn't like to choose. He never understood why mortals were such advocates for martyrdom.
He rigs the doors to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s main entrance with just enough explosives to get him in. He's overestimated the amount he'll need as a caution, as Nick Fury seems to steadily know exactly how to thwart him.
He's watching the seconds tick by when she comes into his line of sight, heading straight for the door that is now ticking its way toward destruction.
Being led by two security members, she has five seconds before she's going to be blown up alongside the door.
Acting instinctively and quickly, the bomb ticks to one second when he's forced her to the ground, projecting a force field strong enough to protect them both from the rubble. Her eyes flutter open at the sight of him and she gasps.
She says his name with many different undertones - happiness and hurt and anger, but he's just happy she's alive. Before she can even move he's pushed his lips against hers firmly, finally giving into the one thing he's wanted to do for months.
She still tastes like sunshine and he melts against her before he hears the quick footsteps.
With regret in his heart he pulls away from her, eyes searching her face hungrily and trying to convey many things before he manages to vanishes from the room.
He knows Selvig, Thor, and Fury have all seen him disappear, and he mildly hates himself for putting her through everything he has, but he hopes that in the end it's worth it.
He's alive, he's alive, he's alive.
That is her only thought as she's lead to the sick bay behind Erik and Thor, who are both looking angry and scared. She breathes a sigh of relief that he's still around, and he hasn't been using her, then she chides herself for having a head full of doubt.
She turns the corner to the medical section of S.H.E.I.L.D.'s rather massive building. Thor's kind hand guides her into a small room, he places the smallest of kisses to her forehead almost as if he's apologizing for something.
As Thor's blond head retreats, Erik and the ever-mysterious Nick Fury enter the room, both looking morbid and concerned.
"Jane, we need to know the exact nature of your relationship with the being known as Loki." Fury speaks, bluntly as ever, but also in a tone that tells her she's not going to get out of this.
She sighs and glances out the small window to her left wishing the stars were out tonight.
The stars have always comforted her; they seemed like magic when she was a little girl, and she's not sure she's ever forgotten that notion.
"Jane, this is important, if he's tricked you in anyway," Erik begins and Jane feels something angry swell within her.
She sets her shoulders and stands to face her most beloved professor with a stern expression.
"How dare you?" She hisses, "How dare you say that to me like I am some sort of fool who cannot tell when my mind has been messed with?"
Erik takes a small step toward her, grabbing her small wrists in one hand.
"Jane, he is the god of mischief! You think he can't trick you without you even realizing it?" He asks in a sad tone, but apparently this flagrant display of affection is making Fury's patience grow thin.
With the subtlety of a tack he simply says, "You're in love with him."
And really what can she say back? She can't deny it because that is wrong on far too many levels. Instead she glances into his face, fear in her eyes and only sort of nods at him, hoping he's not going to kill her for this.
Though some part of her hopes that maybe he will so she won't have to suffer this half life she's taken to leading anymore.
He's never been irrational or quick to action, that always fell under Thor's job as a child, but as he waits for the proper moment to strike he wishes he were.
He wants nothing more than to go back to Jane, back to the one place that has ever felt like home to him. He watches as the Avengers all walk out the main entrance, his eyes narrowed.
It's stupid in hindsight and he should have known they would be expecting it, but he wants the Cube and wants to be done with his plotting and scheming for an indefinite hiatus.
He knows that Fury is transporting it and he springs forward, perhaps too fool-heartedly. He feels the arrow that Hawkeye sends towards him before he sees it.
Painful and a rather ironically cliché way to die, but still, as he lays on the wet earth, the life draining out of him, he thinks of Jane's face and her warm eyes and those moments they spent in her home.
He wishes that he could have spent his whole life that way.
He hears a strangled cry and realizes who is pushing through the mass of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to get to him.
Quick footsteps proceed her body slamming into the warm mud next to him, her eyes searching his face. He briefly wonders why no one is stopping her, then decides he doesn't really care.
"No, no, no. Loki, Loki, stay with me!" She begs in desperation, her soft fingers enveloping his cool hand. "You were supposed to stay with me forever." Her words are turning into sobs and he reaches up to stroke her face.
"You always felt like sunshine." He breathes, not noticing the shocked look on all the men's faces who are surrounding them. "You are still the most magnificent creature I've ever seen."
He breathes against her skin as she reaches down to kiss his forehead. The pain seems to be almost numb as her lips push against his.
"I love you." She whispers so low only they know what has passed between them. At her words, he closes his eyes, wishing he could have managed to say it back.
The light that erupts from his body is blinding and when everyone can see again the god of mischief has disappeared and Jane is left sobbing into the mud, alone and heart broken.
She's trying to settle back into a normal life without gods and superheroes, moving far away from New Mexico and the dust and desert.
Maybe Europe will be kinder to her, maybe it will serve to remind her of him. She thinks that she might be able to move along with her life, even if she'll never love anyone as much as she loved him.
She keeps lilies in her front yard and sometimes simply goes to sit and read in them. She feels his presence amongst the flowers. It's her favorite place in the word to be - away from S.H.I.E.L.D. and all their planning and saving the world business. She needs peace and her secluded home gives her that.
The book on folklore has acquired tattered pages and a battered spine as time has progressed. Still, she's reading it nearly two and a half years later, trying to pretend that maybe these really are only stories, no matter what her heart and memories tell her.
She closes her eyes and sighs in the sunlight.
"You've grown oddly attached to that book, my dear." A smooth voice speaks, breaking her train of thought. She flicks her eyes open and there he is, whole and smiling like nothing ever happened.
But she remembers, starkly, him dying in her arms in a puddle of mud and blood.
"Loki?" She whispers.
Before she can leap to her feet, her mind is taken over by questions and unease.
"It's really me, Jane, I'm not called the God of Mischief without reason. If I can't escape a wounded shoulder and government agents, then I'm certainly not up to par." He says, smiling the warm crook of his lips that is only reserved for her.
"Why now?" She blurts out.
Loki likes Jane's bluntness. She is very much his opposite in many ways - she speaks too quickly, she follows too eagerly, and she waits too readily. Then again, she's very much the same as him in just as many ways - she enjoys silence and beauty, she is brilliant, but she is also full of heart, which is something he's just becoming accustomed to within himself.
"I couldn't come back when S.H.I.E.L.D. and my brother and all those others were watching so closely. I never wanted you in danger." He speaks honestly, a sad glint in his eyes.
Suddenly, she's kissing him for so many unspoken reasons. He's alive and here and she'll never let him go again.
"I love you too, Jane." He says, like he's never left and this is how everything was always supposed to be.
She just offers him a bright smile and kisses him fully once more, feeling his pulse quicken under her fingers pressed against his chest.
There are always lilies in front of their home, and she carries lilies as she kisses him in a white gown that makes her look just as beautiful as she did the moment he first met her.
He keeps his promises and never leaves her again.
For once in her life, Jane isn't stuck waiting, and for once in his, Loki only knows kindness and love.