A/N: I saw Thor 2, and it rekindled my love for Loki's complex character (cause, let's face it, he stole the show in that movie). And so this fic was born. It's short, but it's complete. I spent three days trying to add stuff onto it, until I accepted that this was it. It was done. Short, but it works. And apparently it conveys what I want it to convey (whatever that is; I let my subconscious be in charge of that). I might expand on the story, but I'm focusing on my original works at the moment, so for now I consider this complete. But who knows; I might add some more if inspiration strikes me (or, let's be honest, if I miss writing our favorite two-faced God).
So, without further ado, read on, review and enjoy!
If you are interested in my original novels and works, check out this site on facebook: /arfrederiksen
From a Civilian Perspective
She knew that Jane had a weird thing going on with the God of Thunder. The Almighty Thor; first in line to the Asgardian throne, a central player in the Avengers superhero team, the wielder of Mjölnir and the GQ hunk with a mane of wavy, golden hair and a chest built like a brick. When Maya flew from LA to New York to visit her childhood friend, she had taken that into account, but she hadn't thought that Thor would show up with his brother in tow and beg Jane to let them stay overnight. Jane hadn't thought that either, but she tried her best to handle the situation without offending any parties. That involved dragging Thor off to the kitchen and leaving Maya with the brother in the living room. The brother had a name. Loki. He also had a reputation for bringing aliens to Earth, which meant that Maya studiously ignored his presence in favor of watching Desperate Housewives. The show was as false as Jane's virginal modesty, but that was entertainment in itself. The silent tactic worked. Loki didn't address her, and she pretended he didn't exist. It worked. Then Jane burst out of the kitchen, and the silent tactic was history.
"It's no biggie. I'll book a hotel room," Maya said to Jane and got up from the couch.
"No! No, no, that's not it," Jane said and shook her hands at Maya. "It's just, Mai, would you mind staying here if Thor and I went down the street for something quick to eat?"
"What?" Maya asked. "Now? You want to go on a date with your pseudo-boyfriend now?"
"It's not a date-"
"You're sacking me with Loki? That Loki?"
Jane took a hold of Maya's elbow and pulled them both aside. Outside in the hallway, Jane stopped and gave Maya a look that was all too familiar. It was the hopeful, watery look that Jane had perfected since her early childhood. Maya loved her friend, but Maya was to Jane what Loki was to Thor. Minus the battle gear and megalomanias tendencies, but that was beside the point. There were no black or white sheep. They were all grey.
"If you don't antagonize him, he's not as bad as you think," Jane said. Earlier, Maya had seen Loki sit down in one of the brown upholstered armchairs out of the corner of her eye, but she hadn't looked directly at the man. The silent tactic wouldn't work if Jane left and Maya became the hostess. She would have to talk to him. Look at him. She would have to be polite and orderly.
"Are you serious?" Maya asked. "Not as bad as I think? He unleashed an alien race on Manhattan."
"Okay," Jane said. "He's a nefarious bastard and an insensitive ass, but the alien invasion wasn't wholly his fault. Thor tells me that he's been cleared from the crime back in Asgard. Thor won't say why, but you don't get cleared from a mess like that unless you have a serious excuse."
"Are you serious?" Maya asked again. It was the only thing she could say without resorting to screaming.
"Thor is really upset. He wants to smash stuff. I need to get him out of here before he trashes the place and SHIE- the police shows up. And he hasn't been down here for months. I haven't talked to him for months. Am I asking too much? I am, aren't I? I'm sor-"
"Go," Maya said. "Take Thor with you and go. I'll hold the fort for half an hour, but that's my limit. Unless Loki kills me, and my limit is less than that."
Jane hugged her. Maya decided that she had done the right thing. Of course, she started to rethink that decision when she watched the backs of Thor and Jane disappear down the stairs and out the building. Her palm was sweaty against the doorknob when she closed the door. She leaned her forehead against the wood and counted to five. This was a business deal. She could treat it as work. Plastering a corporate smile onto her face, Maya turned around and walked into the living room with the air of a person who knew what she was doing. Loki still sat in the armchair and Maya got her first good look at him. She had a soft spot for the blonde and tanned surfer look that Thor pulled off perfectly, but Loki's bone structure and whipcord muscle was more to her taste than the bulky frame of Thor. Thor was power, and Loki was stealth. Maya had a type. Loki was handsome, but he didn't tick off enough of her preferences to get adjectives like hot and sexy and smoldering. Which was probably a good thing given the situation. Right now, her primary concern wasn't attraction. It was apprehension. The jitters. Loki gave her the jitters. Jane owed her so bad after this.
"I don't feel entertained," Loki said with a calm, blue stare in Maya's direction. Maya felt something turn over inside her stomach. All right.
"Bummer," she said. "Grab some food from the fridge or take a nap. Thor and Jane will be back soon."
"And what will you do in the meantime?" Loki asked and picked at one nail. "Mai, is that correct?"
"Maya. I will be working."
Loki waited until Maya had sat down on the couch with her laptop perched on her knees.
"I thought you were here to visit Dr. Foster," he said.
"She's not here now. I'm optimizing my time."
Both of them fell silent. Maya focused on the laptop screen, but after some time her eyes drifted towards Loki. He sat with his eyes closed and looked as though he was meditating. She supposed that the things inside his head were a lot more interesting than anything he could find in Jane's apartment. Loki was the brother with magic, right? Maya chewed on her lip and furrowed her brow. Loki's eyes were still closed and he didn't seem to be wholly present. She took notice of his clothes. They weren't the signature Asgardian warrior outfit that she had seen on TV with the leather and the shiny, pretty armor. This outfit was the casual version of that. The boots were leather, but the pants and shirt were linen and suede. The pants were gunmetal black and the shirt had the color of licorice. The black hair and the black clothing clashed with Loki's pale skin. The contrast worked for him. When it came to color, Maya's brain was forever damaged from growing up with professional painters as parents. Nothing was ever red or yellow. It was rosewood or citrine. Loki's eyes weren't blue or green either. They were teal; blue with a green hue or green with a blue hue. Whichever fit the moment, really. Maya was more to the blue than the green.
"What's it like?" Maya heard herself ask. "Jumping in between realms?"
Loki's eyes didn't open, but the corners of his mouth turned upwards in a private smile.
"Exhilarating," he answered. He sounded like he was meditating, too.
"Like flying or like floating?" Maya asked. This time, Loki cracked his eyes open to look at her.
"Like sensory overload," he said.
"Like sex," Maya said. Loki closed his eyes, and went back to his meditative state. Maya watched him for a minute longer. Then she turned back to her computer screen. She edited the last of the unpublished article and saved it in the correct folder on the desktop. Then she put the computer aside on the cushion next to her and raised her arms above her head, cracking the stiff joints in her neck and shoulders. When she reopened her eyes, Loki had fallen out of his meditative state. He had pulled his legs up into the armchair and sat cross-legged in the center of it. So maybe it had been a bad idea to let the conversation drop after the sex part, but there was nothing Maya could do to dispel the awkwardness now. She cleared her throat and looked towards the front door. The knob didn't turn no matter how hard she looked at it. Resigning herself to her fate, she looked back at Loki.
"Why are you running sidekick to your brother?" she asked and put a throw pillow in her lap.
"Okay," she said. "Why?"
"Explain the meaning of sidekick."
"Why did you follow him here?" Maya explained and picked at a loose thread on the pillow. "Thor went here to confide in Jane for some reason, but why did you follow him here? As far as the news reporters can be trusted, you don't like each other."
"That's not your concern," Loki said. "And before you ask anything else, I wouldn't test my patience further."
"I can't get a conversation going without asking questions," Maya said.
"Silence didn't bother you before when you played with your device," he said and gestured to the computer. "It shouldn't bother you now."
"Thor is your stepbrother," she said. "You have different parents?"
"If I have understood the Midgardian terminology correctly, that is what stepbrother means."
The front door rattled and Thor's booming voice drowned out the next question lying on the tip of Maya's tongue. It was probably a good thing. Loki had told her not to test his patience. Thor walked into the living room first, closely followed by Jane. He looked better than before, and when he went over to shake Maya's hand and apologize for his earlier lack of manners, his eyes drifted over to Loki. They stayed there, unreadable, until Jane stepped up behind Thor and announced that Thor and Loki would stay the night. Thor would stay in Jane's room, Maya would sleep in the guestroom and Loki would sleep on the couch. Maya wasn't surprised when Loki objected to that arrangement.
"I will not sleep in here," he said with a small sneer at both Jane and Thor.
"I can take the couch," Maya said. Thor shook his head.
"You will let the lady sleep on the least comfortable bed, brother?" he asked.
"I really don't mind," Maya said. "I can fall asleep to the TV here."
"Your stuff is in the guestroom," Jane said and resorted to logic.
"I doubt Loki will steal it, much less find any use of it," Maya said.
"That's not what I-"
"Brother," Thor said and interrupted Jane. Maya shut her mouth, and she saw Jane do the same. Thor was an upcoming king, and he knew how to sound like one. Loki heaved a small sigh and looked skywards with feigned resignation.
"I will sleep here," he said. "The woman can have the bedchamber."
"I kinda wanna sleep on the couch?" Maya said with a hint of irritation. "With the TV and all? Like I've already said once?"
Why was nobody listening? Loki wanted the guestroom and Maya wanted the couch. What was wrong with that? They could both get what they wanted, but instead they got the opposite?
"Loki takes the couch and you take the guestroom," Jane said and ushered Thor off towards her bedroom. Maya suppressed a sigh and began to pack up her laptop and charger. It was late, but Jane hadn't rushed off because of that. She had rushed off to avoid an argument. Loki sat in the armchair and watched Maya pack up her stuff. When she was done, she stood up from the couch and offered the man an offhand smile. He really was rather handsome, she thought. And his eloquence was a plus. In Maya's opinion, brains ought to be everybody's biggest turn on.
"Good night. Sleep well," she said to him and trekked the last bit of way from the living room into the guestroom. She didn't think more about Loki or Thor. She went to sleep and wished for a cute dream; a dream about unicorns riding on rainbows or reuniting with a lost love. It didn't work. Three hours later she woke up with her heart lodged in her throat and her forehead sticky with sweat. She looked at the digital clock to her left. It was a little past two a.m. She waited until the adrenaline had left her body, and her arms and legs no longer thrummed with energy. Then she got up from the bed, still a little dizzy, and headed for the door. She needed air or she needed alcohol. Whichever she stumbled upon first. She exited the guestroom and padded into the dark living room. From there, she continued onwards into the kitchen, and stopped in front of the slender liquor cabinet squeezed into the corner next to the green potted plant and the trash bin. She pulled out a bottle of bourbon and poured the golden liquid into a glass. Her hair stuck to her face like a helmet, but she didn't bother fluffing it up. It was damp with sweat around the temples and the nape of her neck. She could feel the cold creep up underneath her nightshirt. She downed the rest of the glass and poured a second one. She had taken the first moderate sip and smacked her lips at the aftertaste when Loki walked into the kitchen. He was fully dressed, and he didn't look like he had been sleeping, even though the light had been off in the living room when Maya had crossed through it.
"Did I wake you?" she asked.
"It is impolite to drink for yourself and not offer your guest a glass," he said and walked up to where she stood by the kitchen counter with her glass of bourbon.
"Feel free to taste," she said and nudged the bottle in his direction. She took a gulp from the glass in her hand and felt the alcohol burn its way down her throat. When it reached the pit of her stomach, Loki raised his hand and nimbly took the glass from her grip. He put it down on the countertop with a quiet clink. Maya fidgeted. She didn't sense any hostility coming from the God, but the nightmare had rubbed her nerves raw. The setting also made her uncomfortable; alone and pantless at two a.m. with a Norse God in her friend's kitchen. That would make a great story. She should write it down.
"Glasses are in the cupboard," she said. Loki didn't look or act different in the quiet hours of the night, but he carried himself differently, she thought. His shoulders had slumped into a more comfortable posture, and there was less tension in his jaw and around his mouth. It was clear that he preferred night to day. Or solitude to people. Maya brought her glass back up to her lips and sipped at the harsh liquor. When she put the glass down on the countertop, Loki took a hold of her chin and slotted their mouths together in a kiss. He licked along the seam of her lips, and when he tightened his grip on her chin, she let her jaw drop. From there, he chased the taste of bourbon from the outside of her lips to the inside of her mouth. Loki tasted like mint and ice, and Maya gave as good as she got. It might have been the late hour, or it might have been the odd conversation they had shared earlier that evening, but something had clicked and you didn't ignore things that clicked. Things that clicked were the best of the bunch. They broke apart when the sounds of a chopper above the building grew loud and incessant. As the noise receded, Loki took a step back and assessed the situation. Maya copied him. She didn't feel awkward or embarrassed, but she felt confused. Something wasn't right. That had been too out of the blue. Way too out of the blue. Even with the delicious click between them, something was off. She wasn't hitting bull's eye on this.
"Thank you for the taste," Loki said with a weird glint in his eye. It didn't look like anything Maya had seen before. Mostly it looked crazy. He had to live up to his name at some point, she thought.
"The Chitauri killed my sister," she said. "Collateral damage."
It lasted for a second, but Maya saw the small displeased frown on Loki's face.
"I lament no past actions or decisions of mine," he said. She believed him. The frown hadn't been because of guilt. It had been because of something else. Irritation, maybe. She wasn't hitting bull's eye, but she was working her way towards it.
"Jane said you were cleared from the crime. That means-"
"I know what that means," Loki said and interrupted her. She ignored him and continued.
"-you were declared innocent. Or the Asgardian law system is crap, or you pleaded insanity at the time of the crime, but I'm still going with the innocent theory. If you are innocent, why are you acting as if you aren't?"
"It is the person perceiving me who projects his opinion onto me," he said. "Is it the memories of your sister that keeps you from your sleep?"
"No," Maya said with a feeble laugh. "The memory of my sister can't haunt me. If I had loved my sister, I wouldn't be talking to you right now, and I sure wouldn't be kissing you. I would be shooting you in the face with a sawed off shotgun."
The alcohol and the night made her brave. Loki didn't answer. He flattened a crease on the sleeve of his shirt, and a sudden thought struck Maya.
"Were you up to something?" she asked. "Were you doing something that could have awoken me? That's why you're talking to me right now, isn't it? Why you want to know what woke me up? And the kiss was a distraction. What are you doing in there?"
In retrospect, she should have been subtler in her approach, but she was tired and her nerves were a wreck. She didn't have the energy to be subtle and sneaky, not even if her life depended on it. Instead, she tried to look past Loki and into the living room, but he blocked her view to the door, which only reinforced her belief that he was doing something secret in there. How had she missed it when she had crossed through the room? Maybe he had heard her wake up and stopped whatever he had been doing? She started to take a step towards the darkened living room, but Loki's hand shot out and long fingers encircled her wrist in a grip that was sure to bruise later. She kept the pain off her face, but she felt her breath catch in her throat. Loki was still a killer.
"I'm sorry. Sorry," Maya said. "I haven't seen anything. Nothing."
"You will close your eyes," Loki said. "And I will bring you back to your chambers. No diversions. You will keep your eyes closed. I will know if you don't."
Yep. Still a killer. He grabbed her other wrist and they began walking. Maya didn't argue. You didn't argue with a homicidal God. Even if Loki hadn't been to blame for the alien invasion, she had seen him kill people. Not up front or live, but from news footage and on a TV screen. The tiles from the kitchen floor morphed into the polished wood of the living room floor. Maya's eyes were closed, but she could tell the transition from the brightly lit kitchen into the shadowed living room. The change in flooring was a nice bonus, but even with your eyes closed, you could still see whether you were in a room with a light or in a room cloaked with darkness. It felt like an exercise in trust. With both hands locked around her wrists, Loki led her through a room of obstacles, and if she opened her eyes, she had failed the test of trust. But it was an exercise in bravery, Maya thought. Not in trust. Her heart was hammering away in her chest. She was terrified. For all she knew, she could be walking through a minefield of space and time portals, and Loki could conveniently dump her into one, and she would have no time to escape it.
"Calm yourself," Loki said. "We're in your chambers."
Maya opened her eyes and stared into Loki's face.
"You're not gonna kill me?"
"At present, I see no reason to," he said and took a step towards the door. She didn't stop him.
"Thank you," she called after him. It felt like the right thing to say.
In the morning, she woke up with bruises around her wrists and a headache from drinking. She walked into the living room and took a good look at every piece of furniture. Nothing looked out of place, but Loki had been up to something last night. There was no doubt about that.
"Morning," Jane said. Her friend sat on the couch with a cup of coffee in one hand and several sheets of paper with weird calculations and illustrations spread out before her on the small coffee table. Maya tried not to look too hard at the papers. She wasn't good at the science stuff. Mostly, it gave her a headache, and she already had one of those.
"Where are Thor and Loki?" she asked and sat down beside Jane.
"They left an hour ago. Did you have a drink last night? There was an open bottle in the kitchen."
"Yeah, I couldn't sleep," Maya said. "I had a drink with Loki."
"What?" Jane asked and sat up fast enough for the coffee to slosh over the edge of the cup and onto the papers on the coffee table.
"I think he was doing something secret and I interrupted him," Maya said.
"I didn't look. I'm pretty sure that would have gotten me killed."
"We need to tell Thor," Jane said and stood up from the couch. "He said Loki was done with his schemes, but Loki is Thor's blind spot."
"Whoa, I'm not getting involved in this," Maya said and held her hands up in front of her chest. "I don't even live in New York."
"We're going to Tony's tower," Jane said and paced the room. "Coulson might be there."
Maya assumed that Tony was Tony Stark and conveniently Iron Man, but who the hell was Coulson?
"Jane, I'm going to La Guardia," Maya said and enunciated the words like a parent talking to a child. "Plane flies in four hours. This is all guesswork. There is no proof of anything. It makes no difference if you go to Tony Stark with me or without me, and I would prefer to be left out of it. Loki gave me the creeps last night. This is where I jump off the train."
That was the end of it. When Maya turned on the television three weeks later and saw Loki battle it out with the Avengers and a woman clad in minimalistic green spandex, she thought that maybe she really had seen something that night in Jane's apartment, but she sure as hell wasn't going to call Jane and tell her that.