summary : you reflect on just how you and loki, your lover, got stuck here in the tva. when mobius proposes a way to secure your lives, you discover it comes with a cost you couldn’t even dream of.
warnings : loki spoliers, loki x f!reader, swearing, mentions of sex, death, angst, children/baby/childbirth
word count : 4.4k
author’s note : i’m sorry (part 2 maybe? series? we’ll see)
Your fingernails traced the edge of the table before you, wrists linked together by a pair of cuffs like a tether keeping you from surfacing to the real world. There was still a part of you that refused to believe this was true, that this was actually happening and wasn’t the result of some fever dream you were having trouble remembering the beginning of. You took a glance around at the small theater-like room around you, and actually smiled and chuckled a bit before shaking your head and returning to the rim of the table. You had thought just the same things when Loki introduced you to what lay behind the door of reality, as well.
It was hard to say when it really all began. Perhaps at the cafe where you met him, or, then again, it could have started with the first kiss. That first kiss had been a glimpse into the future of you, a chance to listen to the symphony waiting to play its marvelous tune for your ears and yours only. Maybe it had been when he first took you to his home planet of Asgard, allowed you to meet his family, sleep in his bed. Or perhaps the first utter of ‘I love you,’ or even one of the window-rattling, glass-shattering fights. It could have been any one of those. You couldn’t have chosen, not even if you tried. They were all too wonderful, too perfect, too overwhelming with him and you and nothing else.
It made you wonder, really, just what life could have had in mind when whatever power, be it godly or natural, created you. Confined to a life behind the bricks and wrought iron bars of an orphanage until the age of eighteen, you never had much conception of what ‘normal’ could have been. To you, normal was eating dinner with the other dozen children who weren’t wanted by the same world trying to nip at you from outside. Normal was having nothing, and having everything from that nothingness. Normal was falling for a god from another realm, and normal was treading foreign waters with him hand in hand. And now that you had landed yourselves in what you now knew as the TVA, you pondered if perhaps the word ‘normal’ was created by those who wished to disguise their oddities from others by distracting them with their own insecurities. If it had been, it had certainly worked.
Loki was, perhaps, the definition of the term unpredictable. He was swift on his feet and fierce and glory-bound in one golden moment, and in the next he was gentle and passionate, his walls lowered for you and only you. Being the first person to forge past those briars, those obstacles, those no man’s lands, you were able to see a side of him no one else had before. He allowed you to touch him freely, wherever you liked, and he would not push you away. You could judge his sins, and he would repent. You spoke what you meant, what you felt, and he soaked in every word like that was what truly kept him alive. Even in the moments he revealed to you the tinted cerulean of his true skin, granted you the gift of gazing into his real vermillion eyes, you had done nothing but love him amazingly and terribly.
Then there came New York.
He had locked you away in your room on Asgard under the false report he had godly business to deal with, matters you never pried too much at as a human, thank you. But then you had heard the rumors, discovered what he was doing on Earth. In a rage of panic and fury, you had managed to escape your now-prison-like bedroom and begged Heimdall to send you down to Midguard and reason with your Loki. When you had arrived back on your own planet, your home, you had discovered the true extent of his unpredictability, despite the countless rotations of the moon you’d spent together.
You had found him on the balcony of Stark Towers, and the words that had spilled from both your mouths tasted like venom and acid, and they burned like them, too.
“Loki, stop this!” you begged him and reached out for the same face you had held and wished luck to that very morning. “You’re hurting people! What are you doing?!”
He had looked as though you had struck him across the face, eyes giving way to the confused, angry cylinders firing away behind his mind. “I’m doing this for you,” he said, voice rising over the sound of cars exploding and people screaming. Framed against the burning, smoldering husk of the city, he took the form of the god you suddenly realized could hurt you in every way if he wished so.
“For me?!” You’d smacked your hands to your chest, as if somehow you could knock your soul from your body and place this dizzying world on hold. “I don’t want this. Why would I ever want this?!”
Loki had then spread his arms and given you a twisted, nearly heartbroken smile, as if he actually couldn’t comprehend the words falling from your lips. “Y/N… you and I have never had anything that was truly ours. No real family. No identity. No respect.” He gestured to the broken, bleeding husk of the city. “I’m making this ours. No more cold nights inside orphanage walls or Asgardian temples. No more looking up at people who believe themselves to be better than us.” Your hands were enveloped by his, tightly, forcefully. “Because there is no one better than us. You and I, my love, we can finally become somebodies.”
You couldn’t believe what you were hearing, and it took every ounce of willpower to confirm that you were, in fact, awake and not having a vividly intense nightmare. You could smell the smoke, you could hear the wails. You could sense the welling in Loki’s heart as you realized that he actually believed what he was doing was for the best - for you.
“Somebodies?” you had said. “The somebodies that destroyed a city? The somebodies that killed hundreds of people? Ruled over them like tyrants? Like how you speak of your father?”
His hands had slipped from yours and his expression had morphed from one of hope and love to a grimace quickly fading into a snarl. “You know that man is not my father,” he had said. “We would not be tyrants.” His eyes had flashed. “We would be gods.”
What happened from there had been a large, mixed-up blur you were still trying to sort out in your jumbled mess of a mind. The Avengers had brought Loki back down to the ground, secured him and prepared him for transport back home. As a precaution, you yourself had been restrained and ready to take away in one of the several CIA vans parked outside the towers. Both of you chained and beaten, you had seen the opportunity at the same moment, and the fact that you both reacted was precisely why you had fallen for one another, in this world and another.
Through Mongolian deserts and a series of empty waiting lines with a paper ticket in your hand and a ghastly orange jumpsuit replacing your clothing, you had found yourself here; trapped in a small, dim room where a projection danced on a screen and your wrists were chained to the table. Where your very existence in the Sacred Timeline was being questioned and you were awaiting a verdict. Where you had been separated from him, blind and deaf to one another’s silent pleas for the other’s hold.
It seemed to be getting pointless to count the minutes you were alone; but nevertheless, the gigantic clock on the wall did it for you. Luckily, you weren’t alone for much longer.
The door opened to your right, revealing just the man that had gotten you and your lover out of an immediate Resetting; Agent Mobius. In his grasp was a thick manilla folder and in his step was a brisk bounce, almost as if he was forcing it to be there and fool others that he was actually enjoying his day, job, and life. The purple half-moons stamped beneath his eyes told you none of the above were, in fact, true.
“Wow, I got’ta say,” he said and dropped the file on the table with a thump, “he likes to talk.”
Despite your rather existential crisis-causing predicament, you found the corners of your lips curling upwards. “You’re preaching to the choir, believe me.”
He scoffed and began to sort his papers. “Can’t imagine.” When he at last found the particular file he was searching so lazily for, he held it up to the light and you were able to catch a glance of your very own TVA mugshot staring back at you. In red ink that seemed akin to blood, the word ‘apprehended’ had been stamped across the lower half.
You sat back in your chair and shut your eyes for a moment. Whoever thought getting mixed up with a god could lead to things like being caught by a punch of clock-obsessed sci-fi aliens?
“Y/N L/N,” Mobius stated, as if you didn’t already know your own name. He puckered his lips thoughtfully as he scanned your file. “Human from Earth, local waitress-turned-Asgardian princess. Wow, that’s an upgrade. Oh. But I see you kept your job despite living there?”
“We moved around a lot,” you said, opening your eyes. “A little Earthrealm here, a little Asgard there. You get it.” You shrugged a shoulder. “I like to work, so sue me. I enjoy my job. You know… before it probably got burned to the ground.”
Mobius clicked the top of a pen he produced from seemingly nowhere a few times before humming and turning to the small projector sitting on the table in front of you. Interested, you scooted forward and watched him enter a few digits and codes into the 80’s-style computer. “Tell me, Y/N,” he said, his fingers failing to ever halt or waver their furious clicking and typing. “I get you and Loki are a thing. Romantic. That’s cool. But tell me this - and the truth would be greatly appreciated - how does a human dame like you fall for a guy like him?”
You would have crossed your arms, if you could. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“No, no, don’t get defensive. That makes me feel like the bad guy.” He clacked a button on the keyboard and the projection on the screen began to materialize, and it was then you realized it wasn’t a screen at all. It was a series of projected specks, suspended in the air, taking shape of a scene you could hardly bring up from the back of your mind. He gestured with his pen towards the image of you as a kid, maybe around fifteen or sixteen, and tilted his head. “That’s you, isn’t it?”
As if there was any other answer. “I…” You studied the projection of your face, young and innocent. Well, not too innocent. You were a teenager, after all. “Yeah. Can I ask what this is? What you’re trying to do here?”
Mobius clasped his hands together on the desk and rested his chin atop them, making it look as though he were almost praying. “I want to know your exact role in this branch, Y/N. How you got here, why you think you’re here, and most importantly, what you think.”
“What I think?” you scoffed, and an edge of exasperation creeped to sit on the end of your tongue. “I think this is probably some dumb waiting game. Seeing which of us will crack first. I’ve watched Inception, you can’t screw with me.”
He said nothing more. Instead, he nodded towards the projection, and hit play.
The frozen frame of your teenage face launched into action like a movie in which you were the star - only, in which you had no idea you were being filmed. The scene took place on the playground you used to hang out around after school, monkey bars fading from their old coats of paint and swings creaking even when no one was sitting on them. A scrap was happening by the benches; your younger self was beating another girl senseless, calling her names, asking why she didn’t pick on someone her own size. Watching the spectacle was a small boy, clutching a Barbie doll that smiled emotionlessly.
Yes, you remembered this fight. You remembered nearly fracturing a finger, all to defend some kid who was playing with a doll that was pink instead of blue. Your lips parted in wonder as Mobius turned a dial, and the particles flew into action to fast forward through time itself. It stopped on another scene, and again, you found yourself mesmerized.
An older version of you, not too long ago, even, stood with a bandana over your face squinting against the tear gas being hurled over the barricade of riot controls. On your back rested a half-empty medical bag, and signs of protest littered the streets. A gas canister landed at your feet, and without an once of hesitation, it seemed, you picked it up and hurled it back over the barricade. The frame paused on your pitcher’s stance, frozen.
“You’ve always stood up for the little guy, haven’t you, Y/N?” said Mobius, and you were unsure if you were supposed to actually answer or not. “Always called out when people were wrong and you knew it.” He took a breath. “You’ve always stood up to the bullies. So why not… this one?”
The projection halted on a frame of Loki standing atop the shattered balcony of Stark Towers, golden horns glinting in the bleeding sunlight and a grin etched across his face. A boiling heat arose in your stomach and you shot him a venomous glare.
“He’s not a bully,” you said lowly.
“He killed people,” he retorted just as quick. With each point he made, he tapped his pen harshly against the table. “He slaughtered, he deceived, he plundered. That’s what a bully does. That’s what a villain does.”
You glared hard at him, feeling your rage begin to spread from your fingertips to your toes. Nostrils flared and cheeks flushed, you yanked at the handcuffs keeping you in place. “Loki isn’t a villain. He’s-“
“He’s what, exactly?”
“He’s not like that!” you exclaimed. Your voice bounced and echoed off the walls like ricocheting bullets, ones that came right back and shot you through the stomach. You looked down and realized that you had gotten to your feet. Slowly, your chest heaving, you took your seat again. “He… he’s not like that.” You inhaled, held it, and slowly let it out. “Loki thinks what he does is the right thing. Even if it only benefits him.”
“And you,” Mobius added.
You ignored him and found yourself continuing. “He only does what he does because he feels like he has to. For control. He… had nothing. Has nothing. I mean, Christ’s sake, his real father abandoned him because he was too weak, and he lived in the shadow of his adoptive dad for so long he became part of it.” He was studying you intensely, listening to every word you uttered with the gentlest urgency. “When we met, we realized that… we didn’t have to have nothing anymore. We didn’t have to live in anyone’s shadow or submit because we weren’t strong enough to fight back.
“I thought we could be okay.” You slowly shook your head as your eyelids slipped shut. “We were supposed to be okay.”
Your ears were filled with the sounds of the particles rushing to create a new scene, though you didn’t look. You did, though, when you heard the shrill cry of a baby accompany the agent’s voice. “Yes. You were.”
An image of yourself, perhaps just a bit older, occupied the screen, staring in both wonder and exhaustion at the small bundle of blankets and pink flesh in your arms. The baby girl wailed loudly, shrieking, yet there was nothing but pure fascination and adoration dancing in your gaze. A figure appeared beside you, cradling your head, and Loki stared wide-eyed at the newborn you held. His lips were parted in awe, and when a nurse offered his baby to him, he took her as if she would shatter from just his touch. He held her close, unable to form any kind of words. All he was able to do, was brush a fragile thumb over her cheek.
A number of scenes flashed before your eyes, the reflections dancing in the light of your irises as they slowly filled with tears. The breeze whistling gently through trees in your backyard. Nights of endless passion. The city of Asgard imploding, the interior of a ship, the image of a gigantic purple-toned man. Your own lifeless gaze staring back at you, clutching a still child to your chest, and the snapping of a neck before a body hit the floor.
“Stop it!” you screamed. You rocketed from your chair, momentarily forgetting about the handcuffs keeping you grounded to the moment, and you buckled when they tugged on your wrists and forced you back down. You fell on your knees, the impact sending a shockwave through your body, as you ducked your head and tried your absolute damndest to keep the lump in your throat down. “Stop it, please. I don’t… I don’t want to see.”
Rather than stopping, the scenes had reached their end. A message was displayed across the empty space. ‘End of Timeline.’
You heard Mobius’ footsteps approach you as you hiccuped, a small sob escaping your throat, as he pulled your chair back and tapped your shoulder. You allowed him to help you back up into the seat, and you could only hug yourself when he finally unchained your hands. Your fingers gripped the fabric of your jumpsuit, craving nothing else but the feeling of Loki’s interlacing with yours.
“This was your pre-destined timeline,” said Mobius quietly. “This is what should have happened.” There was a beat, a moment of stillness. “But you’ve strayed off the course.”
It was a long minute before you finally found the strength to lift your head and look at him. His expression was enough to tell you he didn’t enjoy this; he was taking no joy in seeing your pain, like you thought he would. No - this hurt him deeper than you would have predicted.
“Wait just a second,” he said, holding up a hand. You watched as he disappeared through the door he entered from, leaving you alone.
Barely a moment had passed before you were sitting in his seat, fiddling with the dial to turn back the timeline. You closed your eyes over the end. Finding some idea as to just what you were looking for, you paused and pressed play on the machine. The particles jumped into motion, lapsing the images of a baby girl sitting on Loki’s stomach while he laid against a couch. He spoke intellectual structures to the child that she couldn’t even begin to understand, attempting to teach her of Asgard fables, before your legs entered the frame. Your own voice, pulled from your throat and tossed into the projection, told him she couldn’t understand a thing he was saying. Of course she could, he argued. If this was truly his child, she would be conquering the other children any day now.
A tight, strained smile worked its way to your lips, one that quickly disappeared when the reel stopped and the lights turning on nearly blinded you. Turning in your seat, you found Mobius shutting the door after himself and the only man you felt could even make you feel just a bit safer. In the blink of an eye, you shot up and collapsed in Loki’s arms, grip digging into his jumpsuit and securing themselves like your life depended on it. As if it were natural, like an instinct, he cradled you in return. One hand moved to press your body against his and the other held the back of your head, keeping your face tucked securely into his neck. Something told you he had seen everything as well. Perhaps it was the wetness invading his eyes. Or just the way he held you so tight, so gingerly, so protectively.
When you had finally separated to press your foreheads against one another’s, Mobius cleared his throat and folded his hands. “Listen. You two have branched from your original timeline; you’re variants. Usually, you would both be Reset and the files would be shredded.” He raised a finger. “But I have a preposition for you.”
Pulling away, you and Loki exchanged a silent glance. Oh, how you could read one another like books. “In exchange for our lives, naturally,” said Loki.
Mobius shrugged before producing a small metal case from his pocket. He set it on the table and began to tinker with whatever was inside. “Unless you’d rather be Reset when you’re done. There’s another set of variants that have been eliminating our teams on the Timeline. I need you two to help me catch them.”
“And why us?” you asked.
“Because -“ he turned, holding a small device in his hand -“the variants are you two.” He took your stunned, shocked silences as an opportunity to go on. “Yeah, I know. Apparently in another timeline, you guys went all Bonnie and Clyde on my TVA agents, except without the payload. They’ve been stealing our Reset charges, leaving no trace behind.” He pressed a button on the watch around his wrist, and the door slid open once more to reveal Hunter B-15 waiting expectantly. She cast Loki a glare before stepping inside silently. “You guys are going to catch them. And, uh… this is the part I hate most. But as a precaution, to make sure you pair don’t head down the same road… we’re going to have to wipe Y/N’s memories.”
Your stomach dropped to the lowest level of your belly, and you suddenly felt sick. Loki visibly paled before his panic turned to rage, and he stalked towards the agent and bared his teeth to yell. Before he could, however, B-15 pressed a clicker and your lover appeared right back where he had been just a moment ago. At your side.
“Not all of them!” Mobius clarified, as if that would make anything better. He raised a hand as if in defense. “Only the ones containing Loki. It’s to ensure that you won’t get any ideas; no memories, no urge to run off into the sunset.”
“You’re a cowardly, spineless little being and you’ll be lucky to-“ Loki stopped when your hand snapped out to grab his and stop him from being rewound again. The collars around both of your necks blinked menacingly.
Gripping his wrist in one hand and grabbing his collar in the other, you pulled him close again and shushed him. “Loki, calm down. Breathe.” The grip on his shirt ever so gently relaxed before trailing upwards to his chin, capturing it between your thumb and forefinger when he refused to look at you. Lifting his head, you found the corners of his eyes were welling with a wave of tears you couldn’t help but copy. “It’ll be alright.”
“You can’t tell me you’re actually alright with this,” he hissed, but in a soft, trembling way. “You want to forget me? You want to forget everything?”
“No, no, love, shh. Never.” You cupped his face like a tattered, priceless piece of art made for you to hold and you only. A tear dribbled down your cheek and you swallowed thick. “I wouldn’t trade us for the world, I swear to you.”
You were no stranger to intimacy. You had experienced it time and time again with the man before you; in the heated moments that were filled with hoarse moans and promises and grunts, to the even gentler quiet moments in which even an innocent touch on the knee felt like the universe was placed in your hands. But this was something new, something other wordy neither of you wanted to know. It was soft, but it was sad. It was ginger, but it was tearing your soul out.
All the smiles, all the dances and fights and the symphony of you; it would all be gone.
“But, Loki,” you whispered, holding his head so that he kept your weary gaze, “people are dying. Good people trying to protect others. You said what you did was for us, but it was wrong. Please - let me do this for us. Because this is right.”
His mouth contorted with agony, because he knew there was nothing he could say that would stop you from leaving him. When you decided something was going to happen, it always did. Whether it was today or tomorrow or next year, it always did.
It did, and it would, and it will.
He didn’t know what else to do besides kiss you. It was hard at first, a desperate plea for you not to go. But then it melted into pure sadness, a begging, pathetic whimper that went heard but ignored. You were the best, most wonderful thing that had happened to him. And now he was going to lose you, too.
When you finally, at last, broke apart for air, you brushed a thumb over Loki’s cheek and said, “I’ll always love you. More than music and starlight and forever.”
You found yourself standing before Mobius, watching as he tinkered with the small object in his hands. He looked up, and he gave you a nod. You told yourself you wouldn’t look back, and you didn’t. Instead, you only closed your eyes and waited for him to press the device to the back of your neck.
A static, raging and overwhelming, consumed your mind a moment later. You could feel it sorting through memories, pulling files from drawers and ripping them to shreds. You could only stare into the darkness of your eyelids, and grasp onto your last kiss with him before it, too, was gone.
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