Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 17 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

It wasn't the first time someone had responded to Loki's manipulation with anger. Nor was it the first time Jane had suddenly decided she had to leave a conversation with him. Yet it felt wrong; Jane wasn't endlessly patient but she hadn't shouted at him before and the time she'd left it had turned out to be because he'd frightened her. While he could see how his attempt at persuasion might have annoyed her, he didn't see how it could have been unnerving. Certainly not to the extent of looking ill and fleeing. Maybe she was missing Thor more than he'd thought and he was just overreacting? All the same he made a note to keep an eye on her, if only to reassure himself.

Unfortunately this proved almost impossible. Before he'd run into her whether he was trying to or not, but now she seemed to never be in the library. Other parts of the palace were closed to him, when he tried waiting near the stables (to the delight of Atorka) she stopped briefly to drop her own horse off and gave him no chance to exchange more than cold pleasantries with her. He even, feeling like a fool for trailing her like this and uncomfortably reminded of the time when Thor had been old enough to go out with friends and he hadn't, waited around the end of the Bifrost only to find she never came over it while he was there.

Maybe she had decided he deserved her hatred after all. But how could he have lost a friend over something so small?

After days of turning things over in his head he swallowed his pride and sent for her, only to be politely but firmly turned down. Asking Birla to go and talk to Jane got a sympathetic but firm response that it was not Jane's job to spend time with him, or Birla's to imply she should be. Eventually Loki reached the decision that if he couldn't see how Jane was for himself he'd have to go and find those who could. Which, given she was spending most of her time with Thor's friends, was going to be horribly awkward.

He decided to meet them near the sparring area, a place he hoped they'd be without Jane. Actually entering the sparring area wasn't allowed — Loki's attendants were quite aware that his sleight-of-hand meant he could quickly pick up an unattended dagger without them even noticing. He didn't want to arm himself, but couldn't blame them for preventing the possibility, so he waited patiently outside for Hogun, Volstagg and Sif to emerge.

He'd timed it well. Before long he heard them critiquing each other's performance as they approached the exit, and he stepped forward as they came through the door.

They all started and went quiet, almost like when they'd found him on the throne. Loki tried to push aside the comparison - though again, Sif was the first to speak. 'Loki,' she said, sounding surprised, and then apparently ran out of ideas.

He swallowed, trying not to look as nervous as he felt, and plunged into his reason for being there just to get it over with. 'Good morning. I wondered how Jane was doing? I haven't seen her lately and she didn't seem herself last time I did.'

They glanced at each other before Volstagg said, 'Well, to be blunt - she seems rather badly upset with you and hasn't said why.'

Loki dropped his gaze feeling more confused than ever. Was that really what it was? Was he just looking for a reason to think that her withdrawal must be for a reason other than simply being tired of him? Did he hope something was wrong with her? He'd like to think not. 'Nothing else?'

'She misses Thor,' Hogun offered, which was perhaps a bit obvious but he had asked.

'She wasn't this upset over his leaving,' Sif said. 'Not at first.' She eyed Loki, frowning. 'What happened?' It sounded rather as if she had made a particular effort not to say What did you do?

Must Sif's first instinct always be to blame him? Although at least she had made an effort not to do so out loud. 'Nothing,' he protested, before realising that if he wanted information they were going to have to have some idea of the situation. 'I tried to convince her not to go back to Midgard, but it's not as if I said anything terrible about it. Then she shouted at me and ran out looking ill.'

Sif looked slightly pained. Volstagg said, 'That sounds like more than nothing, but you talking about Midgard seems like asking for trouble somehow.'

'Why were you telling her not to go back?' Hogun asked.

'Because she's the only friend I have right now,' he snapped. It was embarrassing to say, slightly less embarrassing when he could throw it at them and hope it hurt.

'That's because you won't see anybody else you don't have to,' Sif snapped back.

'You've made your opinion of me painfully clear, and I don't have any reason to bring in visitors just to hear my faults. I wouldn't be seeing you now if I wasn't worried about Jane.'

'You - We miss you, you idiot,' Sif snarled at him.

'Perhaps we could remain slightly calmer,' Volstagg suggested, sounding alarmed.

'You would rather have joined Thor in exile than accepted me as king!' Loki shouted back. His handlers were looking worried - not the sort of worried where they might send him to sleep, the sort where they might step in and decide the conversation was too stressful for him.

'You were acting like you wanted him gone!' Sif said hotly. 'You were acting like you thought everything was fine.' Volstagg cleared his throat loudly, and she turned the heated glare on him, then glanced at Loki's handlers and took a deep breath, visibly trying to rein in her temper.

Loki had wanted Thor gone. Or, not exactly wanted Thor gone, he would have liked him back, but wanted competition for his father's approval gone at least long enough to give him a chance. It hadn't worked, anyway. 'Nothing was fine and bringing Thor back wouldn't have made it so,' he said flatly.

'That much I think we can agree on,' said Volstagg, 'but it might have helped. We feared he would die down there. Considering he managed to be struck by their vehicles twice before he'd been there a full day, and that was before you tried to kill him...'

Loki forced himself not to flinch. 'I didn't know about the vehicles. And - and that was after you'd gone after him. I went to look for him before and he was -' Imprisoned by a possibly hostile organisation, actually. Which Loki didn't remember even considering at the time. 'Not hurt.'

'That was when you told him Odin was dead and he could never come home?' Hogun asked. 'Until he told us that, we did not know you had done anything wrong.'

'You were quick enough to assume it then!' The retort was automatic, on his lips before he'd really registered the rest of what Hogun had said. Why had he tried approaching them? He'd known it would turn into having his faults thrown at him.

'We would feel more guilt for that had it not been true,' Volstagg said with a sigh. 'Enough. Thor has forgiven you, whether you regret it or not. And Jane seems more anguished than angry, but I am not convinced it is necessarily strange of her.'

'Anguished is a strong word, if all that's wrong is that I upset her,' Loki said quietly, addressing Volstagg. 'Anger I would have been less surprised by, although it's unlike her to stay angry for so long. But, truly, there is nothing I said that should have made her miserable.'

Volstagg's eyes flicked to Loki's handlers, as if they might have a better idea of whether he was right. 'Can you really be certain of that?' He shook his head. 'We asked her what was wrong. She got as far as your name and choked up.'

'I told her that she could study the void more easily from here than Midgard and that she'd be better off not working for an organisation that steals her things,' Loki said, frustrated. Sif snorted faintly at the mention of SHIELD's apparent kleptomania - at least that seemed to be familiar. 'She might have felt I was being dismissive of her desire to go home, but there's no reason to act as if I hurt her.' Especially not to the point she couldn't even talk about it. Couldn't? Overcome with emotion or - or a compulsion? Surely no one would compel her not to talk about him, they would have no reason to. He had to be reading too much into this. Yet, it made no sense for Jane to act this way without one. 'Could she be enchanted?' he asked abruptly. 'Did she seem compelled not to talk, or like she didn't want to?'

Amusement vanished, Sif looked skeptical, but she did listen. 'We didn't press her,' she said. 'And normally you'd be the one to pick up on it if somebody was enchanted, but why would she be?'

'I don't know,' Loki admitted, feeling a little less defensive. 'Something is just wrong. Not so wrong that her behaviour doesn't have other explanations, but enough that I'm uneasy about accepting them.' He tugged at the bracelet around his right wrist. 'And I have no way of being sure.'

'It just seems a very strange choice of enchantment,' Volstagg said doubtfully. 'Perhaps something you said struck deeper than you think.'

Perhaps it had. It wouldn't be the first time. Loki found himself wishing Thor was there, simply because he'd know Jane well enough to be able to tell if there was something wrong. If he could just talk to her then maybe he could work it out, he knew enough about the signs of enchantment that maybe he could see them even without his own magic. And if that wasn't what was wrong, then maybe he could apologise for upsetting her to this extent. He wondered, suddenly, if this was how Thor felt about him, the certainty that if they could only talk about it then everything could be worked out.

On the other hand if something was seriously wrong with Jane then he was the only one that even suspected it, and respecting her wish not to see him could mean leaving her in danger. If I can sort out whatever is wrong with Jane, I'll talk to Thor, he found himself thinking, as if fate could be bargained with.

'Just watch her, then,' he said. 'She might be in danger and you owe it to Thor.'

'We also rather like her,' said Sif. 'We'll see what we can see.'

Loki nodded, nearly said I'll see you later without thinking, and settled for, 'That was all, then.'

'We'll see you later,' Volstagg said, as automatically as Loki almost had, and then regarded him and his handlers with some perplexity. 'Er. Or... farewell.'

Loki walked away feeling...oddly reassured by the slip, even as he still wondered whether he wanted to see them later. The conversation hadn't helped much, in the sense of getting information, but it had provided something for his worries to coalesce around. If Jane was under a spell he should act fast, and that meant finding her somewhere where she wouldn't be expecting him and ready to leave. Most of her time seemed to be spent in the Bifrost control chamber. He took a deep breath. He'd made it across once. Time to find out if he could do it again.

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 17 of 37

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