Movie: Thor: The Dark World

Pairing: Loki/Sif

Genre: Romance/Drama

Rating: T

Perceptive Minds and Deceptive Hearts

She only visited him once while he was in the dungeons. Just once. But that had been all it had taken to infuriate her and satisfy him.

She could still remember the confrontation word for word, even months after the fact. She could still remember the quirk of his eyebrows, the insufferable smug grin on his pale face, the mischief bright within his eyes. He was a ghost, her ghost just as much as Thor's and she cursed him every morning.

When all was calm and she closed her eyes she could see him pacing like a caged animal, could see the purpose with which his limbs carried him even though he was imprisoned. When all was quiet she could still hear the mocking tone of his voice, poison dripping with every syllable.

Even though she knew that he was dead she could not simply brush him off. Even though she knew that he had given his life protecting his brother, she could not believe that he had done so selfless an act. Even though she understood that death was death and that the dead could not come back no matter how much one pleaded with fate, she could not believe that he was gone.

All because of that one little visit.

It had been on the night she had run into Thor strolling off to visit Heimdall, the first night in a long time that there was peace. For once there had been no battles to fight in the morning, no tears to dry or wounds to mend. For once everything was at it should be.

Well, almost.

Restoring order to the realms had been no easy task, and if anyone had deserved the feast and the richness of triumph it was Thor, but he had declined in favor of a more somber task. The bravado and recklessness of his younger days was gone after all; in place of the impetuous youth stood a grown man.

Sif had slid up to his side quietly, eyes soft with memories as she admired these new qualities in him and mourned the loss of the old. He had once been arrogant, full of himself and impatient, but he had still possessed his kind soul, he had still been the man that—despite thinking himself the best warrior in all of Asgard—had been the first to respect her physical prowess.

He had taken his worst traits and conquered them, molding them into their righteous twins. Just as one held the capacity to be arrogant, they possessed an equal capacity to be humble, and when Thor had learned this lesson he had become mighty indeed.

But despite all the changes that had taken place during his banishment, there was one thing about him that had not changed and that was that he was indeed him. The person that he was had remained the same; the light-hearted, fun-loving boy still existed deep inside. What made Thor himself had never left because people at their core didn't change.

And the same was to be said of Loki.

Her face a smile and countenance bright as she had attempted once more to reach the man inside Thor that was still hers, the Thor that very few knew, her mind's eye was trained upon Loki's face, recalling it as it had been when Thor had brought him home after his villainous rampage. She had shivered, and not from the cold, as she had remembered the way his emerald green eyes had locked onto her, victory in his every step and a light in his eyes that did not befit one who had just been conquered.

There had been something off about him. She had bested him before in the ring and seen what he was like when he was face down in the dirt, and the Loki she had seen going to stand before Odin had not been that same man. He had not had that restrained look about him; his facial muscles had not been locked tightly in place while every fiber in his being screamed in silent fury as held his head high. He had never been vocal like Thor had been; no, he had always suffered in silence. Except this time he had not been suffering.

Her amber hues had eventually connected with his green, and it had only been for a second but it had been enough to rile her up, the vain and selfish little girl that she had once been still angry with him for the loss of her luscious locks of sunshine, the mature woman she was furious with him for his childish tantrum across the realms, and the comrade inside still seething from his betrayal.

He had looked away, though she had known he was still paying her mind, and she had realized in that small moment that as long as he was alive, Thor's life would always be in danger, that even though he had met defeat at the hands of his brother and the champions of Midgard, he was not beaten.

Loki's image had then vanished from her mind as she had devoted her efforts to counseling Thor, and with a heavy heart she had watched him go despite her wisdom. She had hoped that he would have taken her words to heart, and while she sensed a struggle within him, a struggle that she knew she could help him with, she had to decide what was most important to her.

And so, with one Prince of Asgard out to pursue a light before it burned out forever and another that cloaked himself in shadows, she made up her mind on what to do.

He had just sat there in his cell without so much as shooting her an acknowledging glance when she had arrived, lounging on the comfy chair that his mother had had sent down for him and pretending to be preoccupied with one of his many books. Sif had known that he had been pretending to read instead of actually reading but she didn't know how she had known. To any other observer—barring Thor perhaps—it would have appeared as if the fallen prince was quite taken with his readings.

The way his eyes had scanned the page, a finger occasionally tracing along a sentence or two, would have made one believe that he was dutifully paying attention to the lessons stored in the ancient pages. The way his lips had twitched and the manner in which his mouth had moved occasionally, almost as if he was reading aloud to himself. The way he had turned the page after an acceptable amount of time had passed had suggested he was happily caught up in a different world. All outward signs pointed to reading. But she had known that he wasn't.

No, he had been studying her instead, gauging her emotional and mental state. He had known that she hated it when people ignored her and he had known that it made her livid when someone pretended to ignore her when in reality they were doing quite the opposite. He had not changed one lick since she'd last seen him; he had not abandoned those ways that made her blood boil. He could still get under her skin by doing nothing but being himself and it had made her cheeks flush a deep crimson to know he still possessed this power over her.

So just as he had observed her, she had observed him until she could take it no more. She had let her eyes trace over his lanky form, taking note of how emaciated he had become since he had left Asgard all those years ago. He had never been anything like Thor and the more time that had passed the further in looks and personality the two had become, but this, this man that was now before her…

"Stop it."

He had blinked, looking over the top of his book at her as if surprised by her presence. "Why Lady Sif," he had smiled warmly. "What a surprise." He had almost sounded sincere.

Involuntarily her hands had curled into fists. "What are you doing in Asgard?"

He had openly studied her for a second—a second that felt like hours—before slowly leaning forward and setting his book down on the table next to him, his eyes never leaving hers. "My dear Sif, I have no idea what you mean. What am I doing in Asgard?" He had gestured at the shimmering gold fields keeping him in place. "I am serving a life in prison, if that is not obvious by now."

"Do not play games with me Loki," Sif had growled lowly, taking a step towards his cell. It was to his advantage that there was a wall of energy between him and her for she would have rather liked to punch him. "I am not quite as stupid as you would believe me to be. I know that you let yourself be captured."

His facial expression had morphed into one of mock hurt at her words. "Why Sif, do you truly think that I believe you stupid? You insult me."

"Answer the question, Trickster," she had spat, nostrils flaring and eyes blazing as he had narrowly avoided her question. "I saw you the day Thor brought you back. I am the Goddess of War, if you've forgotten. I know a victorious look when I see one. You wanted to be brought back to Asgard."

Something inscrutable had flashed across his face at that and he had stood up at last, drawing himself up to his full height, clasping his hands behind his back.

"And why would I want to come back here?" he had asked, not bothering to hide his contempt. "Here, to this place where I was raised by a tyrant and overshadowed by a blundering buffoon?"

He had carefully crafted his words to strike at her loyal heart, and despite her best efforts to keep her anger hidden lest he derive some sort of sick gratification, she could not help but unsheathe her sword from beneath her warm cloak and point it at him.

"Be glad that I cannot reach you," she had ground out, eyes flashing dangerously. Other prisoners in the dungeons that had been watching the little encounter had backed away at her display, visibly nervous by the warrior's rage.

He had chuckled and shaken his head, turning to pace as if her threats had meant nothing (and they really didn't; that was something they both had known). "Should I call the guard on you, Lady Sif? I may be a prisoner but I am still a Prince of Asgard."

"A fallen prince. Now answer my question."

Throwing his head back, he had regarded the ceiling for a second before licking his lips and giving her a sideways glance. "Why? Why would I want to return to Asgard?"

She had kept her stare level at him, battling back the urge to scream. He had always known what buttons of hers to push, what really drove her crazy. He had always been good at getting to her, had always had some sort of twisted knowledge as to the inner workings of her mind. She hated it.

"Do you know why I've always liked you, Lady Sif?"

The question had thrown her off guard. Her blink of surprise was genuine, unlike his had been. "What?"

He had smiled again, lips curling up in that devilish way of his. Slowly walking over to her, making sure every step was pronounced and exaggerated like the showman he was, he had stopped just before his nose touched the sparking gold. "Why I like you, Lady Sif," he had enunciated deliberately. "Do you know?"

"I…" she had fumbled for words, taken aback. "…no."

His lips had stretched even wider, his entire face a porcelain mask. "I've always liked you because despite your apparent antagonism towards me, you've always known me the best." He had given a little chuckle, amused by her stunned expression. "You have always known when I was up to no good. You have always seen me for who I am. You don't try to dress me up or make me out to be anything else other than the monster I am. And for that, I like you."

"What ridiculous lies are you spouting now?"

"No lies, my Lady, never to you," he had purred, staring down at her intently. If Sif hadn't known better, she would have said he was almost looking at her with passion. A corrupt passion, but a passion nonetheless.

"Explain."

"Does it really need explaining?" he had scoffed, throwing a hand up in the air. "Come now, must I really point out to you the ways in which you perceive what others cannot? How you've always known what I was up to ever since we were very small?"

"No…that's not…true. I have never…"

"Ah, but it is true, my dear Sif," he had laughed darkly, eyeing her critically. "And you know it too. You know that out of Volstagg, Hogun, Fandral, and even my own brother you have always known me best. I would even say you understand me. You have always been the one to see my true nature; you have always been the first one to cast the stone and the first one to doubt my good intentions. You see what is in my heart."

"No," she had taken a step back, horrified by the implications of what he was saying. "You're lying. I have never…"

"Oh! But you have and you continue to do so!" he had insisted, his voice a deadly quiet that pierced her chest like a dagger and slowed her breath. "You were the first to see through my benign façade when Thor was banished. As children, you knew instantly that it was I that had taken your precious hair from you, that it was I that later enchanted you so that your hair would be as dark as the night."

Sif's breathing had started to come in short, erratic bursts. He was lying, he had to be. He was taking small instances and blowing them out of proportion, reading more into them and seeing what really wasn't there. Every time he opened his mouth more lies were born.

But then why were his words true?

"Silence," she had commanded, her words a steady calm that she did not feel.

"Silence? Oh but my dear Sif, did you not want to know why I returned to Asgard?"

Horror had sliced through her irrationally and in that moment all she had wanted to do was get away from this man, this God of Mischief, this snake.

"You don't want my silence, not really," he had continued when she had said nothing. "You've never liked it. You've never liked it because the silence is when you can truly hear me, when your eyes look inside and see me for what I am." He had lifted both hands theatrically. "You need to hear me because my words distract you from your true thoughts, because they give you something else to focus on. My tongue needs to keep moving, to keep weaving lies so you can pretend you don't see the truth, so you can feel justified in your hate."

"You're lying."

"Never to you, my dear Sif. Never to you."

"I am not your dear Sif!"

"But aren't you? Face it, my lady. For as much as you are disgusted by me, for as much as you hate me, you are equally fascinated and enthralled," he had whispered lowly, beckoning her towards him. She had moved closer, but only to hear his words. "For as much as you claim to want nothing to do with me, you cannot bear to leave me. I am an enigma to all but you, and you enjoy this."

"I want nothing to do with you!" Her face was directly in front of his by now, and she had been able to see every fleck of color in his eyes, the various shades of green and the little almost non-existent flecks of brown and grey.

"I intrigue you, Lady Sif, because you and I are more alike than you would care to admit. We are both willing to kill for what we want, and don't you deny it. We are both jealous of someone else and strive for what they have; we are both second in line."

"I am second to no one," Sif had lied.

He had snorted and given her a condescending stare. "Come now, we both know that isn't true."

She had said nothing, had barely dared to breathe.

"You see, Lady Sif, just every force there is an equal and opposite one. You are bound by the rules of the realms; you chafe under your own moral code. You are drawn to me because I represent your repressed desire, because I was able to break free."

"And yet I am the one who sits here in the open and you are the one in a gilded cage."

He had titled his head, giving her a peculiar look that she hadn't liked at all. "Are you sure?"

She had turned and fled after that, her heart pounding in her chest and throat closing to the point she thought it was choking her.

Her hatred for him had soared to new heights, but like with Thor's change, she knew that it wouldn't take much for hate to turn into its righteous twin. There was a thin line separating the two and she just like every other person had the capacity to feel both.

To her, Thor was the righteous and Loki the sinful. Because of Thor she knew that the righteous path was often the most difficult, because of Loki she knew that the sinful path was fun but laden with consequences. As much as she wanted to just take what she wanted, she wouldn't let herself. She would never become him.

And that was why she could still remember the confrontation word for word, even months after the fact. She could still remember the quirk of his eyebrows, the insufferable smug grin on his pale face, the mischief bright within his eyes. He was a ghost, her ghost just as much as Thor's and she cursed him every morning.

When all was calm and she closed her eyes she could see him pacing like a caged animal, could see the purpose with which his limbs carried him even though he was imprisoned. When all was quiet she could still hear the mocking tone of his voice, poison dripping with every syllable.

Even though she knew that he was dead she could not simply brush him off. Even though she knew that he had given his life protecting his brother, she could not believe that he had done so selfless an act. Even though she understood that death was death and that the dead could not come back no matter how much one pleaded with fate, she could not believe that he was gone.

All because of that one little visit.