The Art of War

Chapter Thirty-One: Mayday

"Mayday! Mayday! The ship is slowly sinking. They think I'm crazy but they don't know the feeling. They're all around me, circling like vultures. They wanna break me and wash away my colors. Wash away my colors!"

-Starset, My Demons

Loki hadn't expected the humans to militarize themselves against him in this way – he had only come down the day before. It wasn't until he heard Erik's apology that he was left to again be annoyed by the mistake of letting that frustratingly resourceful scientist live. Thankfully Jane made her final goodbye short before she was ready for them to exit the building. Of course, they were even more in force outside...

"Loki, lay down your weapon and put your hands in the air." The announcement was fairly clear. Loki wasn't concerned for himself but Jane he knew wouldn't be as tough as he was. She lacked the same amount of training or background. Besides, as a regular Asgardian she wouldn't be as tough as himself or Thor. "If you move we will open fire."

Loki was still pondering how to react to the large group of enemies around them when Jane moved. Before he could protest her actions a shot from one of the men slammed into her – she'd moved forward to protect him? He slapped a hand over her mouth after pulling her away – before she could scream and break the spell. It was only by inches that he'd managed to get them free before the whole army unloaded on the spot where they'd been. He definitely had burns but he'd managed to pull Jane out of the majority of it.

"It's fine." He hissed quietly in her ear when she started to struggle. Smirking when she glanced between him looking much better and the near corpse image he'd put on the ground. "We're invisible but we'll want to be swift."

He pulled Jane with him, tempted as he lead her past the men moving up to check out the illusion to kill several but with Jane injured he didn't want to waste time. The burns on her chest would be more serious if he didn't get her treated – what the hell had come over her? Why would she put herself in harms way like that? She should know that he would be able to take such attacks much easier than she would. Ignoring that there was still a helicopter nearby he called up to have the Bi-Frost activated – he could care less if any mortals died in the crossfire.

Reappearing on Asgard, he let his illusion drop and gave orders that no one was to open any portals to Midgard without his expressed permission as he carried her back toward the infirmary. He had to bring her to this area of the castle far too often for his liking.

"Loki, you idiot...I thought you..." She couldn't bring herself to say 'died'. Instead she scowled from the pain with each of his steps – why did being a god-like creature hurt so much more than being a little mortal one? Instead she repeated. "You're an idiot."

"This from the creature that jumped in front of the dangerous weapon to try and save me." Loki retorted as he moved past the people staring at them. He figured by now they would find this a fairly common occurrence – a far too common one. "Hardly an argument toward your own capability in the realm of intelligent decisions."

"Shut up Loki..." Jane dug her hands into the fabric of her uniform. Trying to keep her breath even as the quick gait continued to make the burn along her belly ache with each stride. "Is it going to hurt like last time?"
"It should be much easier than with your broken rib." Loki assured, laying her down on the platform, holding her hand as she winced again when she moved to stretch out – some of the skin was blackened she'd been so heavily burned. All trying to protect him... "But you need to agree you aren't going to be jumping in front of me again. It's not helpful to your health."

"Yes fine, I'm an idiot, whatever, just fix it." Jane hissed back. Not enjoying his cheeky attitude when she felt like her skin might flake free and allow her internal organs to just slide out. She pressed her eyes shut when they activated the machine that would look at her innards – those are mental images she could easily go without nightmares of. "You should be nicer to someone that jumped in front of laser for you."

"I'd much rather you push someone I don't care about in the path of danger than putting yourself in it next time." Loki replied without missing a beat, smiling slightly as he watched her skin starting to regenerate – the machine would push her own Asgardian metabolism to heal her more quickly. Since it was just flesh it shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Such abrasions were much easier than deeper wounds.

"I'd much rather there wasn't a next time." Jane half-growled between clinched teeth – it still burned horribly but the pain wasn't nearly as much as it had been the last time. Though she really did have to stop spending time on these tables – it was never a fun experience.

"On that we agree." Loki remarked, pushing some hair back from her face. Ignoring the glances the healers gave them. It wasn't as if how he felt for her was a secret to anyone anymore, he might as well not fight that particular issue. If anything he just wanted to protect her more than ever before – perhaps after all of the difficulty she would give up on ever visiting earth again. Hopefully, if nothing else, never contacting the eternally 'thorn in side' Dr. Selvig again.

"We'll need to get back to your training with haste, it seems you've become quite a liability." Loki continued, resisting the urge to grin when she opened her eyes to shoot a dirty look at his remark. It was a sign that the healing was already progressing enough for her to be offended by the observation.

"I'm not a liability." Jane retorted. "See if I ever help you again."

She silently wished she'd of let him get shot for all the pain he was putting her through over her kind gesture.

"You're a bit adorable when you pout." Loki commented, making her blush. Jane was pretty sure that was a mark on Loki's side of the board. "But you're finished, we should leave the healers to their work."

Jane blinked and looked down, touching her stomach, the flesh visible where the shot had completely disintegrated her clothing. Yet there wasn't even a scar where she'd been so horribly charred only a few minutes ago. She added checking out the wonderful medical machines to her list of things to learn about when she escaped a day without ending up in the Asgardian equivalent of a hospital.

"You should be fine to return to sparring tomorrow." The doctor stated, much to her chagrin. After all the firefights and running lately she'd hoped to be spared getting beaten by Loki...

"It'll be fun." Loki remarked with his character smirk.

"For you maybe..." Jane half-groaned, imagining how he'd beat her some more. Then pulling herself up, holding some of her clothing in place until they brought her a robe to wear back to her shared room. She really had to ask for her own room one of these days...it might help mitigate the rumors that she was only here to be Loki's mistress.

They were heading out of the room when Sif bumped into Jane, the distracted goddess mumbling an apology as she glanced up. Yet she was tossed to the ground a moment later. Blinking in surprise as she stared up at the burning gaze of Loki – of course he'd gone and brought back Jane.

"What are you doing here?"Loki demanded, his tone less than forgiving. "I believe you are under orders to keep your distance from Jane."

"I wasn't here looking for Jane. How the hell was I supposed to know she was going to be here?" Sif snapped back, picking herself up off the floor. Tempted to put a weapon in Loki's face – so tempted...

"So why then are you in the infirmary?" Loki asked, clearly distrustful of her words. "I doubt someone got the better of you in training."

"I just haven't been feeling well." Sif replied, she immediately regretted not lying. Loki was too clever for his own good.

"You're with child..." He stated after a moment of consideration. "Have you told Thor?"

Jane blinked, staying behind Loki and out of the conversation, but that was a bit hard to hear. Sure she'd decided to give up Thor – but the fact that Sif had gotten pregnant during their weeks together still hurt. Had she planned that too? Was it a part of the plot to keep Thor with her? How horrible could that woman be?

"No...and you shut up. I'll tell him when I'm good and ready." Sif snapped in return. She knew she had to keep her temper as much for her child's sake as her own. She still didn't want Thor to hear this from his evil brother.

"I won't say a word...but you'll be moved into royal quarters starting tomorrow so I'd make your confession swift." Loki retorted. "I can hardly allow someone carrying one of the heirs to the throne to live in poverty."

"I'm not poor." Sif hated Loki...the smug lines around his eyes, the disapproving cant of his lips, it was clear he was enjoying her torment somehow. "Besides, I know you'd rather see a baby dead than for it to be a threat to your position."

Loki's eyes tightened at Sif's remark. "Let's make the move tonight, we wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea. Probably best if you go let my brother know he's going to be a father."

Before she could say anything further to Sif he turned and began escorting Jane back toward their room. Even if Sif had protested Loki wouldn't have heard anything of it – for the time being he had to play nice with his brother even if he hated the woman carrying his child.

"Um...well...that was strange..." Jane stated once they were a few halls away. "Could they really be sure that soon, that she's pregnant I mean?"

"Yes, there is no doubt once the healers confirm it." Loki answered, shrugging lightly. "Does it bother you?"

"I just feel sort of bad for Thor...I mean...maybe he didn't want a child. Particularly out of such a horrible union. Sure he seems to have forgiven Sif but..." Jane shrugged. "I guess it's none of my business. Her room isn't going to be near ours is it?"

Loki smiled again at the last question. "I'll make certain she is placed near Thor. He and I have quarters well removed from one another."

Loki returned her to their room and moved to an adjoining area to continue his work and allow her to rest. Once he was out of her presence he gripped his hands into fists, doing his best not to give into the desire to let out a burst of energy. Yet it was difficult – he wanted to kill them. The humans that would dare lay a hand on what belonged to him. Instead, he let a blast of energy rip through a painting of the 'family' on the wall – burning through Odin and part of Thor below him to leave only Loki and his mother untouched on the now ruined canvas.

Still, it did little to subside his rage...worse was that if he acted – if he did anything to punish the mewling quim then he would lose what he'd built. Jane would foolishly not want any vengeance regardless, yet it ate at him that people continued to think they could walk over him. Mercy would not be a part of the next mistake someone made.

He then laughed, a malevolent timber that rolled from his chest – Sif had gone and gotten herself pregnant. Even he couldn't have predicted that she would be that short-sighted, unless it had been the vixen's plan all along. Either way – it helped lessen the blow of the human fools. If Sif was with Thor's child then his honorable brother would never try and get Jane back. It just removed one more threat from his life. Loki grinned as he sat at his desk – there was a fair amount he still needed to do but now it didn't seem nearly as tedious as it had a few days ago.

End Chapter

Thanks to all my reviewers – be you kind or...jerkface. XD I'm glad to have feedback in general. Happy Valentine's day everyone! Hope you enjoy a bit of a lighter moment for the holiday!

-Aura