I'd never hurt you.
Summary: nightmares haunt even those who are still awake. They haunt especially those who are still awake.
Pairing: Loki x reader, ex!Bucky x reader (GN!reader)
Word count: 7.7 K
Warnings: major character death, trauma and PTSD, graphic descriptions of violence, angst, nightmares, blood, subtle mentions of sex, graphic descriptions of injuries and pain, domestic violence, toxic relationship.
N/A: Idk man I just woke up really violent today. Sorry if I break your heart a little. By the way, reader’s bisexual.
Gif not mine.
It took you really long to get used to sleeping with someone, in the most literal sense of the word. Sex? Sure, no trouble, as long as you went away before falling asleep. You sneaked out of bed as soon as you realized the other person was drifting off. It was no trouble, for they would usually not realize you’d be off to sleep in your own bed, and they knew you worked early, so it wasn’t an odd reaction to “leave early in the mornings”. Your sneaking never caused trouble, until you actually started dating someone.
It didn’t begin as a normal relationship. You caught feelings way later than you’d like to admit, and it was mostly physical. He was reserved about it too, but it was undeniable. You both trusted each other too much, and had an attraction everyone else could sense by just observing how you looked at the other. And, you wouldn’t admit it quite yet, but you loved him. It had been a while since you last loved someone, and you didn’t want to go through that again. As far as you knew, dating troubled men always resulted in, well… trouble. Heartbreak and trouble.
And boy, was he trouble. Of course, that wouldn’t stop you from loving him. In fact, if anyone asked you’d deny it, but you liked it.
He knew you didn’t sleep in his bed. He was a light sleeper, and never fell asleep before you, so he always noticed. Still, he never asked for the reason for your sneaking, nor ever reproached it to you, even though you knew he didn’t like that. His grip on your waist would tighten once you started pulling away from his body, and a groan would hint at his ask, please don’t leave, stay, I want you here, I want you. He had to get satisfied with the kiss you’d leave on his temple, and the warmness and traces of your scent that remained on your side of his bed.
But after many, many months of this avoidance, you fell asleep by accident.
It was not what you intended, but it happened. You were reading in bed. Under the blankets, his body irradiated warmth. The chimney had a cracking fire that lightened up the room just enough for your eyes to close comfortably. Your head on his chest, the vibrations of his low voice against your ear, the narration of a story you were no longer listening to, only his voice, only him. Your eyelids felt heavier and heavier. He had to use his magic to turn the pages, for his other hand was caressing gently the nape of your neck, playing with the hair between his fingers. The halos of magic made no sound, yet you could feel them. Magic was cold. Like a dense breeze. Like dry ice. And it contrasted so well with his immanent body warmth.
Loki didn’t fall asleep right away. He wanted to see you, admire you. It was a privilege, to his eyes, to finally get to see you this way. With a calmness he’s never seen in you, a forced trust, a vulnerability he’d make sure to protect at all costs. He observed your chest rise slightly with each acompassed breath, and your eyelids flutter from time to time. After about an hour, he was still hooked on the best show he’d ever seen so far, but this time the plot changed.
Your eyebrows furrowed and your lips parted to let out a whine. He paid close attention. You were having a nightmare. He knew all too well how those could make you feel, and he knew you were struggling with PTSD, though he never dared asking about it. Takes one to know one. He thought about waking you up, but you seemed so tired, so restless… maybe… maybe he could help you with his magic. Change the dream and let you sleep soundly. You’d be upset he had entered your head, he considered. But you were in pain, and he could help you. So, taking a deep breath, he caressed your eyelids with the tips of his fingers and soon the cold breeze of his magic immersed him in your own head.
The suffocated gasps and screams were the first thing he noticed. He could feel with his other senses, but the eyesight always took longer. The smell wasn’t unfamiliar, it was your room, with your perfume, your ambient aromatizer, remains of a dinner. It clearly happened at night.
Besides your suffering, he could hear the bed moving in a struggle. As if a fight were happening on top of it. Bedsheets that moved violently between your legs, the head of the bed marking the wall, and… a metallic sound. That one he couldn't quite figure out yet.
“JAMES!!”, you finally screamed, and was then when his eyesight cleared enough to see the scenario. James Barnes had his grip on a very red and teary you. His vibranium fingers surrounded your neck and untightened as soon as his eyes opened in shock. It took him about five seconds to realize what he’s done, and panic instantly washed over his features. Raw and pure fear of himself. He immediately pushed a button and let the vibranium arm fall off him, leaving it under the bed. He didn’t get close to you, in fact, he got further away. You were trembling. Loki was unsure on how to intervene.
“Oh my God, Y/N, I…”, started James, with a crack in his voice. He found himself lost in words. You, on the other hand, didn’t.
“Get out”, you groaned with a hoarse voice.
“Wait, Y/N, let’s...”.
You didn’t need to say more, for he was already getting his prosthesis and pants, and walking out the door. He lingered on the doorframe, observing the damage he’s done. Your neck was already bruised, and it couldn’t be from that same moment. Bruises took longer to form, and Loki realized this was not the first time it happened. It seemed like it was the last.
“Please, let’s talk. I beg you to let us talk”, he said, still from the doorframe. He stepped closer as he saw your features soften with a tint of sadness. Loki came to realize you cared for him too much. Enough for you to not walk away after many bruises. He wanted to change the dream, but it now seemed like the worst had already happened. And he could not deny he was curious (though knowing how wrong it was to peep in someone’s dreams), so he kept watching from a distance, waiting for the right moment to step in and change your nightmare for some flower field.
You sighed and gestured for him to sit on the feet of the bed. He waited for you to speak. You took your time to gather the right words.
“I love you, Buck”, you started, and something punctured Loki’s heart. He knew you’ve had a lover before him, and he knew you were close. But hearing you claim your love to another man, when you have not yet told him that to himself, hurted his ego to say the least. “I love you, but…”.
You stopped on your words. You couldn’t articulate after “but”, though it was enough for James to understand. He nodded, tears threatening to fall, and repeated.
“You’re not the… you’re not the one who should be apologizing, doll”. Loki’s heart hurt again, and he didn’t know if it was because of the petname, or for seeing you submerged in such a hurtful relationship. He bruised you, he choked you, and you told him you loved him and apologized. Loki wanted to come out of the dream to personally kill James Barnes. “I don’t want to hurt you. But I hurt you. You have the right to want me out of your life. If you want me to, I’m gone. I’m gone and far away, and you never hear from me again, alright? But if you give me a chance, one last chance, I promise to stay and solve this. I’ll do all the work, and get it so well done I’ll never even have the chance to touch you a hair in the wrong way again, darling. I swear…”.
“Bucky, I beg you to stop”, you cut him. “Don’t do that, don’t ask me for another chance, because I’ll feel guilty for kicking you out. But, Buck, I gave you a chance. I gave you many chances. You’ve said you’d do the work so many times, that at some point I believed you”.
“I… I did the work, just not… right. You can’t leave me. I beg you to not leave me”.
“I don’t care. I don’t care if you did the job or how you did it. You’re going to choke me in your sleep again and again, and someday you won't wake up in time, and you’re going to…”, you took a deep breath, tears running down your face profusely. “You’re gonna kill me, Bucky”.
He was now the one to cry. He hugged you and you flinched, but reluctantly accepted it anyway. He hugged you tightly, grasping to you, not wanting to let you go. You seemed more and more distressed as he didn’t let go, and Loki was already walking into the scene to change the dream, but he couldn’t, for the dream changed by itself drastically. So quickly, he fell down and landed on his chest.
Looking around, he realized he was in the compound of the Avengers. Again, the same suffocated screams. This time, kickings in a wall, too. He looked around desperately, trying to find you to wake you up, or change the dream to his liking, instead of more of your horrible nightmares. It took him what felt like an hour, though they were a few seconds, to finally find you against a wall, kicking and punching ineffectively at the supersoldier who, in his own sleep, grabbed you by the neck so strongly he lifted you a meter up from the floor. You were nothing compared to him. He was too strong, too tall, too… trained in violence. You wouldn’t hurt a fly, and had the complexity of such.
Your mouth and nose were covered by his other hand, trying to take away the air you could be inhaling. He was deep in his own dream -in his own murderous dream-, and you could not make any noise to awake him, this time.
Loki’s heart hurt so badly, it burned. This was a memory. He knew the difference, for he had them all the time. Flashbacks, reenactments of the same torture chamber your head creates for you, and only you, to feed your flesh to the monsters of trauma.
He couldn’t see you getting barely killed once again, so this time he didn’t delay it. He ran towards you and kicked Barnes so strongly, it might have even hurted the real him. You fell to the ground, unconscious. He didn’t want to know how you got out of that alive in real life, but could only assume it had to do with someone else walking in to help.
Loki touched the broken glasses beneath his feet and shaped them to look like a tree. Suddenly, the whole place illuminated with sunlight, and everything else, including James, disappeared. You were conscious, laying on the grass under a big tree. Loki was still standing there, and realized you noticed him.
“Hi”, you welcomed him. He had to stay, now that you were aware of him. “Would you stay with me?”.
“Of course”, he said. He caressed your hair and kissed your cheeks for a long time. So long, he had to remind himself to get out of the dream before you’d wake up. He created a new innocuous distraction and took off to real life after a while.
He admired you once again, sleeping on his arms. You looked calm, now. It was all fine.
You woke up in his arms. The sunrays shone through the window and laid on your face, warming you softly in the cold of the morning. He was still sleeping, eyebags already marked on his face. He looked tired. You wondered if he had just fallen asleep.
You sighed, staring at the roof. The hard images were still resonating in your head, echoing loudly on your ears. You felt too exhausted to even cry, too tired to even think any further on it. You were in Loki’s arms, and you were safe. It was all that mattered, for now.
You got up and walked to the kitchen of the compound, looking for two cups of coffee and cutting some fresh fruit on a plate. Loki stayed in his room, and woke up to an empty bed. He looked around, hoping you’d be somewhere in the place, but saw no sign of you and assumed you'd gone away when he fell asleep. He feared you’ve had another nightmare and didn’t feel safe enough sleeping with him. He then sat on the thought that he now knew exactly why you left every night. You weren’t avoidant. You were in pain. In a huge, huge amount of pain, probably every single night, and you were consumed by the fear that your partner would hurt you again in his sleep.
Loki sat on the bed and stared at the wall, still thinking about it. He realized you weren’t safe with him. He’s had nightmares that felt so real, so intense, that once he awoke he realized he had been doing the actions in real life. More often than not, he fell asleep in his Asgardian form, and woke up to blue skin and bright red eyes. You were not safe with him, unless he tried his best to control it. Even then… he wasn’t so sure.
You entered the room with two coffee cups in a pile and a plate of cut fruit, and Loki smiled widely. You weren’t gone. You’ve made breakfast. You were wearing one of his shirts, which looked huge on you, and your constant eyebags were nowhere to be found. You’ve rested well, or at least better than the usual. You left breakfast on his bedside table and sat on his lap. He surrounded your whole body with his arms and sank his nose in your neck, leaving kisses everywhere.
“Thank you for staying”, he said, and you kissed his forehead. He was terrified to have a nightmare some other night and scare you, or worse, hurt you. But he saw that, by your side, he slept soundly. Your embrace underneath the blankets made him drift off so deeply and happily, he wouldn’t even get the chance to move, much less have a nightmare.
“I dreamt with you”, you commented. He knew, for he was part of the dream. He smiled softly.
“Yeah, we were cuddling under a tree”.
“Sounds like a very nice dream”.
“It was. You know, I was so afraid”, you said, and started lazily braiding his hair with one hand, like a habit that was making its way through your fingertips, “I’ve had bad experiences sleeping with someone. It wasn’t anything too terrible”, you lied, giving it no importance. He furrowed his brows, still with his head on your shoulder, “but I didn’t want to be through that again. So it took me a while to feel safe with you. Now I see I didn’t have to feel otherwise”.
“I understand, love. You mustn't explain yourself if you don’t want to”.
“I know, but since I’ve never slept with you before, I just wanted to explain to you that it’s not like I don’t love you, because I totally do. It’s just that…”, you started saying, and stopped on your words. After a few seconds of silence, Loki raised his head to look at your face closely, with a wide smile. You blushed and chuckled awkwardly, and he chuckled too, holding your chin to not let you hide.
“I love you, too”.
“Sorry, I didn’t wanna tell you like this, by accident”.
“Don’t apologize, love. I’m happy you told me”.
“I love you”, you repeated, burying your face on his chest. He surrounded you tightly with his whole body, and you kept repeating “I love you, I love you, I love you”.
You were cutting vegetables when he noticed you were only half there. He was reading the paper out loud, sitting on the counter, and you nodded and hummed, though you weren’t actually listening. You stopped even looking at where you were cutting, staring with a lost look at the tiles of the kitchen. He put the paper down and observed you, worried.
“Are you alright, darling?”.
You didn’t answer, and kept cutting. You weren’t listening, and the knife was approaching your finger carelessly. He got down the counter and walked to you, to beware you. You were completely zoned out. He placed a hand on your shoulder as softly as he could, and the fright made you jump, cutting your hand. Loki, wide eyed, placed the knife on the table and put your hand quickly under cold running water.
“I’m so, so sorry, love. That was exactly what I was trying to avoid”, he muttered. You were still quiet, and it didn’t seem like the cut hurt you, if he were to judge by your expressions. You didn’t even look at it. You looked at him with the saddest look on your face he’s ever seen in you, and that alone was what worried him the most. He took your hand off the water to use Seiðr to cure you, but you pulled your hand away.
“I’m good, don’t worry”.
He furrowed his eyebrows and tilted his head. Your wound was deep, it must have hurt, Loki thought. It did. It was stinging, painful, and blood was dripping off like a waterfall. Hands knew how to bleed. Even though it hurted, even though it burned, you were still half somewhere else. You couldn’t get to react, somehow immobilized with thoughts. It became all so much, it ended up becoming nothing. Numbness. Emptiness.
Loki put a hand on your back very slowly, so you wouldn’t get startled again, and this time you didn’t flinch. You faked a smile and let him walk you to the bathroom. You sat on the bathtub’s wall and he tried once again to clean your wound, but you were reluctant to let him.
“Please, love. It’s gonna get infected”.
You lowered your head and gave him your wounded hand, still dripping crimson. Just like Hansel and Gretel, someone could see your path from the kitchen to the bathroom from the traces of blood drops. Loki wasn’t sure of how much humans could bleed before getting light headed, and tried his best to stop the bleeding.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t want to hurt you”, he apologized once again. You shook your head, getting a bit back to reality. Your eyes began to get back that light they usually had.
“You’d never hurt me”, you assured him. “It wasn’t you, it was me. I got startled, that’s it. You’d never hurt me, I know it”, you repeated under your breath.
“You were dissociating”, he whispered, scared to touch the subject. It was unusual he would actually confront you about it, but as time passed he realized you might have needed someone to talk to, not someone who just lets things pass and let avoidance set in stronger.
“No, I wasn’t”, you lied, once again. You hated talking about it. Not with him, not with anyone.
When the worst thing happened and you made sure to never get anywhere near James again -in those times where it became the hardest; he wouldn’t want to let you go, and became violent in his consciousness-, everyone was around you to make sure you’d get help. You only wanted them to go away and leave you alone. To let you sink in your own depression; in your own guilt.
You kept repeating to yourself that it was your fault. That James Buchanan Barnes was suffering from severe trauma, and you not only demanded him to change it right away, but also left him alone once he didn’t manage to do it. And everyone around you told you you did the right thing, you had to leave, otherwise you’d be dead. But the gut-wrenching feeling of impotence, of knowing you’ve left him on his own when he needed your help, kept haunting you even at that moment.
So, no. You couldn’t speak about what you felt, because you thought it was too unfair, too egoistic, too victimized. And everyone would tell you you weren’t, and that you were, in fact, a victim. Deep down, you knew. You were aware. One sees those things from the outside and thinks “this will never happen to me, I know better”. And you do know better, but these things are always tricky.
There’s always a reason for you to stay, until the dark swallows you whole and all you see is him. Him and his love. Him and his violence. Him and his daydreams. Him and his nightmares. Him as a victim, and him as a victimizer. Him as the living representation of both fright and frightening.
“I know you don’t like talking about it”, he started, voice as serious as it could get, wrapping your hand with a gauze. You rolled your eyes and scoffed. You didn’t mean for it to come out that harsh, but it didn’t seem to have annoyed him. “I know all too well the signs. I want only to help you, love. I’m worried”.
“Signs of what, Loki? I told you I’m fine”, you spat.
“No, we’re not the same, Loki. Don’t compare my experiences with yours. You went through real shit. I didn’t go through what you did, nor anywhere near”.
“Y/N, I know what you’ve…”.
“Thanks for helping me with the hand. Now, please, leave me alone”.
He lowered his head and nodded, walking out of the room. It was not the time. Not yet.
“They seems so well”, commented Banner over the microscope. “I was wrong about that guy. As far as we know, at least”.
“You mean chokey-chokey? Or Mr. Tried-To-Take-Over-Earth?”, said Tony Stark, gulping down a cup of cold coffee.
“That’s uncalled for. You care for them, you might as well care for their partners”.
“Well, pardon me for not trusting their gut on this. Do I need to remind you who…?”.
“No, you don’t. I was there, I remember”, cut Banner. “I just mean, Loki might actually be good for them. They’ve been dating for a while now. They seem happy together”.
“I wouldn’t trust that one either”, said Natasha, walking in with the empty wrapper of a sandwich from the compound’s hospital’s cafeteria. “I thought Barnes was perfect from them too, and look how they ended”.
“Can we please stop talking about this? It’s been a while and Y/N hates us still bringing it up”, followed Steve, walking in behind Natasha.
“Oh, come on”.
“You’ve been at the hospital?”, asked Tony, pointing at Natasha’s wrapper. “What happened?”.
“Minor inconvenience”, she diminished. Everyone went quiet, since the only times she didn’t actually elaborate meant something bad happened. “It really is a minor inconvenience. They’s fine”.
“They? Is Y/N hurt?”.
“You know, we were just talking about them”, added Banner.
“No, no. Loki took them to the psych ward for precautions. They’s not doing any better, you know”, she muttered, but the whole team heard. “Tony, did you know Y/N isn’t doing anything about their PTSD? I thought you were in charge of that”.
“They doesn’t need it, come on”, he brushed it off, and soon got all of the team’s angriest looks on his head. “What? I’ve had it and I’ve survived”.
“You survived because you got help”.
“Because I forced you to”, clarified Pepper. “I’m not about forcing them too. Done with that job”.
“Well, Loki is getting on their nerves to manage to get them help. He insists on how important it is, seems to know about it”, finished Natasha, and Thor scoffed. “What?”.
“So is my brother now becoming aware of the consequences of untreated trauma?”.
“What do you mean?”.
“Nothing”, he murmured with his jaw clenched and brows furrowed.
Thor had to put up with Loki’s nightmares for months, when Loki was -sort of- arrested in the Avengers compound, and they had to both sleep in the same room. He remembered vividly how his brother, who he’s always seen in his Asgardian form, woke him up to bright red eyes and the so-feared patterned skin he’s always been taught to murder and disrespect without hesitation. The first night, he held Mjölnir to his chest until his brother woke up, and just then, he realized it was him. To avoid the frostbite, he had to tie him up hands and feet to the bed, and just after it all happened he realized it might have made it much worse for him. It was cruel, but he had to keep himself safe, too. Though, after one very bad night, his brother had touched his throat in his sleep and nothing happened to the skin whatsoever. Only then he realized the so famous frostbite didn’t work if he didn’t intend it to.
“Is Y/N getting help, now?”.
“Yes”, nodded Natasha, very unsure.
He came home after the battle. The last mission went bad, terrible. He was injured, and pissed off, and very, very tired. Came home only wanting two things; a good bath and your lips over his wounds, as you always did. He hated that it had become almost like a routine; mission would go badly, he’d get home exhausted and most of the time, hurt too. The only good thing were your soft lips, leaving a trail of kisses all over his bare chest. But today, as he walked through the door, he knew it was going to be a difficult night anyway.
He knew how he felt before one of those nights. He’d feel weak, his feet heavy, his chest even heavier, his head would hurt and everything around him would be so… loud. So, incredibly loud, he’d go to bed immediately. And then, at night, he’d have nightmares.
But, this time, he ignored it. He ignored it because your lips, as the routine promised, washed away all worries. And because your shampooed fingertips caressed his scalp, wiping away dry blood and dust, leaving only the perfume of your hair products. And because he hasn’t had a nightmare by your side ever since you slept together, and that would sum up almost a year. Your breathing patterns in your sleep always lulled him to join you in sweet and peaceful dreams. No violence, no war, no deceiving, no death, no Frost Giants, no trauma, from any of the sides.
That was until that night.
He was too deep in. Too fallen asleep to even realize he was having a nightmare. Too immersed in it to get out.
He wanted to be holding you, your head on his chest. You weren’t there. Instead, the crushing weight of Mjölnir sank him underwater. He was still able to breathe, but he knew his magic wouldn’t last long. How could he get out? It was Odin himself wielding the Hammer, and his ears hurt from the screamings.
Who was screaming? His brother? No, Thor was laughing. It was his mother who ripped her throat apart in pain. A blink, and by his side a Jötun appeared by his side, holding his impaled mother by the neck. Laughing, too.
“Don’t fight it”, said Laufey. “This is what you are. This is what you’ve done. This is your doing”.
Loki, despite all words of Laufey, fought his best to get rid of Mjölnir over his chest. It didn’t weigh much, yet somehow he wasn’t able to hold it, to push it away. He grabbed it, and this time he turned on his Jötun form, knowing a Giant would be stronger. But it didn’t work. The screamings of his mother still echoed on his eardrums, but she was silent, quiet, still. Probably cold, but not as cold as he was. Loki groaned, and, already in his blue skin, tried to lift the Hammer off his chest.
“Loki!”, you screamed somewhere. Were you underwater with him? How were you breathing? He held Mjölnir stronger and stronger, this time ready to take you off the water, wherever you were. Your screamings were now whimpers. You were crying, crying so, so loud Loki’s chest weighed heavier and heavier, and this time it wasn’t Mjölnir. “Loki, I beg you to wake up”.
What?, he thought. And for a moment, his heart stopped. The water dried, Mjölnir disappeared, and everything came back to reality behind the black curtain of his eyelids hiding the truth. He could already feel his fingers holding something strongly, menacingly.
As he opened his eyes, yours were fixed on him, puffy red, dripping tears and staining your whole burning face. His fingers grasped your shoulders against his chest so toughly, you’d be bruised. He let go immediately, but it was too late. You were already on your feet.
“Love”, he called in a whisper. He knew what would follow. He couldn’t believe he actually let that happen. It was predictable. And he would punish himself all of his life for ignoring it.
“No”, you muttered, still crying. You wiped away your tears and new ones resurfaced. You, in between stutters, left it very clear as you made your way out of bed and to your clothes. “I’ve done this before. I’m sorry, I can’t do it again. I can’t go through this again. I love you, I really do. But not enough to risk it again. I can’t go through this again, Loki”.
“I know”, he said in a raspier voice, trying to hide his own throat knot. “I’m not stopping you”.
You stayed in silence for some time. Minutes passed, and you were both in silence, looking at each other. He noticed the bruises already formed on your arms and shoulders, and he choked out a sob.
“I’m so, so sorry. I should’ve known better”.
“I don’t want to fear you”, you whispered. His heart squeezed, flexible, before tearing apart. A few words that would hold so much weight, and you knitted them perfectly. He knew exactly what you meant. You continued, though it wasn’t necessary. You could leave right then without another word and he’d let you, he’d understand. “I once told you you’d never hurt me. I don’t want to be wrong”.
“You can’t risk it”.
“Goodbye, Loki. Take care, alright?”.
And without further ado, you left.
Years passed by. Loki has moved on, not hearing a word from you other than the occasional update from Heimdall. You have moved on too, in fact, you got married and had two gorgeous kids with your partner. You’ve made sure you were safe, and your kids would be safe too. You built a whole new life, a home, a place where -even when everything on the outside would be falling apart- it would all be just fine.
Loki stayed in Midgard for a few months, but after some time he went back to Asgard, coming back intermittently to visit his brother and enjoy Midgardian’s habits that had stuck with him when living with you. Even though he frequented Earth for decades, you never crossed. Never talked, and as far as you knew, never used Thor to talk about each other.
He’s seen your kids once, by accident. A beautiful little girl, fierce as you, running around the park with her big brother, who pretended to try and catch her but was clearly giving her advantage to win. He smiled at the sight. He had hoped you two would be the ones to raise those kids together. But thinking about it further, it was better like this. At the moment he realized those kids were yours, he didn’t look around for you. He hid under his veil of magic, transfigurating his face and clothes to look nothing like him, and looked around with curiosity, to see who was the person you’ve decided to marry after so many years.
He saw nobody, only you, reading on the park bench while waiting for them to get tired enough to get back home. The sun was setting and it seemed you'd been there for many hours, yet you were pleased with the calmness -something he wouldn’t use to describe you when he first met you; you ran around from work to work, mission to mission, danger after danger, without rest. Thinking back, it was probably a trauma response, a coping mechanism you no longer needed to return to-. You’ve healed, that much he knew.
You talked nonchalantly on the phone for a while, and smiled warmly, fidgeting with a bracelet. After some time, you called the siblings and they ran up to you asking for some cereals. He heard your voice, and it made him feel so far away from you, yet so close. Your voice was near a whisper, a melody, and he wanted to dance to it.
“Let’s go home and eat them there. It’s getting late, I don’t want you to catch a cold”, you said. He summerged himself in your voice, and decided it was no good for him. Then, he realized he might not come back to Midgard, ever again.
He did come back though, about only fifty years later. He had gotten a call from Heimdall, and stepping through the bifrost he already felt it coming. He knew he’d have to go, and Heimdall hadn’t said a word yet. He stood there, waiting for him to speak. Heimdall waited too, but for something else. Maybe he was looking for the right words, but he couldn’t pick them up properly. After a sigh, he resigned himself to just saying it as he thought best.
“I had hoped to warn you, to give you a chance to say goodbye. It happened suddenly”.
“What do you mean, exactly?”, Loki knew, yet needed the words. Needed to hear it loud and clear. You were dead, and he didn’t age a day. His hair was as black as it was sixty years ago, when he first met you, and his silk skin with no other wrinkles than his furrowed forehead made him mistaken for a seventeen year old Midgardian.
Maybe he did the right thing, to not be by your side for the rest of your life. The years for him happened like no more than a few breaths. He used them to learn a new kind of magic, and earn a few prizes in Asgardian competitions. He got a royal portrait done after making amends with his parents, and wrote half a book -a fictional fantasy about a world all too similar to Midgard, and villains all too similar to the Avengers-. Midgardian’s books weren’t bad, he realized, they just had enough time in their lives for some rough drafts, and then, they couldn’t continue them. Maybe it was just Loki’s thoroughness in everything he did that made him take that long. He had the time, anyway.
“The funeral is tomorrow at noon”, said Heimdall, and Loki nodded. “It’s a formality to wear all black, but I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding clothes”, he said, pointing at his black leather armor. “No gold, though. All black”.
“I can arrange a suit, can’t go in there with leather and metal anyways”, he muttered, thinking whether he had saved that suit Stark had made him wear on a formal party, back when he was alive and thriving. Oh Norns, he thought, they might be all dead now. Whether by age or hero’s troubles. He then realized he might not see any familiar faces, other than the two very grown siblings you’ve raised with dedication and care. “Who’s gonna be there?”.
“Family and friends, only. It’s small, they asked for it to make it warm and cheery, like a party, instead of… sad”, explained Heimdall. “I’m sure if you explain briefly who you were to them, you’ll be welcome. Thor might be there as a friend, too. He was close to the kids. Now they’re adults, of course, but as kind as Y/N was, if not more”.
“Is the partner gonna be there or has they passed away too?”.
“Yes, it’s gonna be at their original home. One of the children flew across the country to get there. The wife’s around eighty years old, curly black hair worn in a tail, and tomorrow will be wearing a long skirt with patterned flowers, in case you want to address her. Again, all clothes on black, of course”.
“Alright, I’ll make sure to not… actually, I don’t know how much she knows”.
He didn’t tell Frigga he was going, and much less Odin, though they both knew. At dinner, he barely touched the plate, and Thor put a hand on his shoulder, reassuringly. Mortals die, he thought, though I cannot fathom this particular one being away forever. It’s fine. They’s on the open fields of Valhalla, I’m certain. Frigga knew his burdened look had to do with that brief adventure he had on Midgard, a few years ago, and she didn’t ask about it any further. It was the soft spot on Loki’s heart, a treasured secret to his family that would die with him; not because of embarrassment, but because it was too sacred to discuss it. Too precious.
He stood on the doorway. A wooden porch with peeled white paint and marks of arrows that landed on the wrong place sheltered him from the snow. Pacing back and forth, he knocked, trying to hide his anxiety. The little girl -he recognized- who was now a tall and beautiful woman with a big pregnant belly, opened the door for him. She tilted her head, asking who he was as she let him in and offered to take his coat. He was surprised the doors were actually open for anyone. As far as she knew, he was a stranger in an old suit and with a bouquet of flowers that were definitely not from her planet.
“I’m Laufeyson, you might not have heard of me”, he introduced himself with a smile. “Though I have seen you once, when you were very little”.
“Were you a friend from childhood? I don’t remember you”, she said, thinking she was his age. He chuckled softly, and gave her the bouquet.
“I’m very sorry for your loss, lady…”, and he stopped at his words. Oh, how could he have not asked Heimdall for the names? What an idiot, he reprimanded himself.
“Call me Lillian”, she smiled, “and thank you. I assume it’s your loss too, so I’m equally sorry. May I offer you something to drink? My family’s in the kitchen, in case you want to say hello”. She was kind, Loki thought. Unconcerned, obliging, attentive to others, even at one of her parent’s funeral. Though, Heimdall was right. The atmosphere seemed more like a party, a calm celebration of someone passing to another life, or a better place. Scanning through the faces of the crowd, people seemed nostalgic, not a trace of anger or bitterness was shown through them. Sadness in its best, in a reminiscent form.
“This is James”, she introduced a man not much older than her, with blonde hair tied in a knot and a fitted suit that seemed new for the occasion, all spotted with flour. Loki realized the kids, much like him, were adopted. In different terms, of course.
The wife was drinking a cup of tea, sitting over the counter. She didn’t seem her age, barely any wrinkles -some around her eyes, and some on the corners of her mouth-, a few ashed locks of hair that contrasted elegantly with her brown complexion, and the bright spark of her eyes made her juvenile, even near adolescent.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, James”, said Loki, extending his hand. James shook it with a strong grip, admiring him, as if he were seeing a celebrity.
“You must be Loki”, he said, and Loki raised his eyebrows in shock. Lillian gasped, realizing who he was. You must have never mentioned him as Laufeyson, now that he thought about it. “We’ve heard stories about you, it’s good to finally meet you in person. Thank you for coming, I’m sure Y/N appreciates it, wherever they is now”. Loki smiled widely, and found himself lost on words. His silvertongue meant nothing now, that he was surrounded by the warmest family he had ever met. His conjectures were right. He did well in leaving. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have built this family.
“Thor had told us about you many times”, said the wife, getting on her feet and taking his hand. “Though Y/N… not so much. A difficult folk to talk about the past, wasn’t they?”, she laughed. Loki chuckled. You didn’t change that much, then.
“Back then, it was impossible for me to know anything before we met”, he added. “I’m very glad to meet you all. I hope it’s not an inconvenience, or uncomfortable in any kind”.
“You’re very welcome here. You can stop by any other day, too”, said Lillian, and proceeded to introduce him to a few more people. Her husband, some friends from work, James’ “friend” -who she said was probably his partner, but he didn’t say it yet. Loki laughed-, and people who didn’t need much more introduction, as they yelled his name across the room.
“Oh my God, Loki!”, the unmistakable voice of the Scarlet Witch shone to his ears. His smile grew wide, and took her in his arms, spinning her in a hug.
“I thought you would be dead by now!”, he said, and she punched his shoulder playfully.
“Of course not! How come you didn’t visit Earth, your damn Highness?”.
“It wasn’t the royal duty the impediment, Wanda. I’m really sorry, I have no excuse”, he said. Lillian and James watched the interaction amused. “I see the magic trio is now reunited, is it not, Dr. Strange?”.
“Mr. Loki”, he nodded with a grin. “Long time no see”.
“I thought you were all dead, to be honest. Who else I know is here?”.
“You thought Y/N from us all would be the last one to go?”, called agent Romanoff with a glass of wine. She looked the most aged of them all, although keeping her usual beautiness and elegance untouched. Her figure persevered as athletic as decades ago. “Tony’s little girl is coming. Morgan, she’s in college now. A STEM girl nearly graduated, the proudness of the aunts and uncles”.
After a little bit of chattery, Loki decided to look around the house by himself. Pictures of important moments showed how quickly you and your family grew and aged. There were many, and the Avengers were involved in them too. Thor held the head of baby Lillian, with James trying to lift the hammer in the background. You and your wife kissing under a tree, legs intertwined. You receiving a prize for your exceptional job, and the prize itself by the picture. Drawings of the siblings, more pictures about them as kids, more pictures of the wedding, and travels, and a very long lived life. Much fuller than he imagined a short mortal life could ever be. Even dead, you lit up the house and life in all of them. You were as alive as the dead could be. Loki remembered a sonnet you once read him.
“(...) and nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence,
save breed, to brave him when he takes thee”.
He found, a little hidden and a little apart from all the others, a picture of you two. He remembered that day very well. A stormy morning where you’ve decided you wanted to show him your favourite cafe, near the public library he liked so much. You spent all morning there, and then spent the day cuddling among the dusted books. You took a picture of you two with a polaroid, because he loved that camera. He loved to see how it printed an image so quickly and so precisely, so you took many and gave them to him. You clearly kept at least one for yourself. He smiled with tears finally forming in the corner of his eyes, grabbing the picture.
He promised he wouldn’t cry. To whom, he didn’t know. He thought he was alright with this, it was natural, after all. Mortals die, and you lived until the very last moment you could. A peaceful death, they said. You shut your eyes at night and didn’t open them in the morning. But the moments you lived with him stayed in the past, stayed with him, stayed in that old polaroid picture.
He stayed the whole ceremony, and smiled, comforted others, made friends, chatted, even danced. Every once in a while, he kept repeating, like a song with no melody, the verses of that sonnet you once read him.
“(...) Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
and nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence,
save breed, to brave him when he takes thee”.
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