Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 21 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

Their friends left after a while. Thor stayed, though, possibly because he wanted to talk to Loki or possibly because he didn't want to disturb Jane, who was asleep on him and looking rather adorable in her fluffy bathrobe, with her hair mussed from where she'd shifted against Thor's shoulder. Of all the circumstances Loki had imagined facing Thor again under this was not one of them. It made it rather hard to feel threatened.

They sat in silence for a little while, watched only by Loki's silent attendants. Finally Thor said, his voice low and rough, 'It is good to see you again, Loki.'

Loki wondered where to start. His view of Thor, of what had happened between them, had changed a lot while Thor wasn't even there to hear about it second hand. Yet simply blurting out I don't think you tried to kill me felt ridiculous. 'You as well,' he said, instead, although he wasn't entirely sure it was true. 'I have - been thinking a lot. While you were gone.'

Thor considered this for a moment before apparently deciding the best response was, 'About what?'

'About my memory. I still - I still remember you trying to kill me. But I do not believe it, even though I keep telling myself there is evidence both ways, that it is possible.' Loki looked to the side, eyes sliding away from Thor's gaze. 'I don't believe, any more, that you ever wanted me dead.'

Thor swallowed audibly. He was still looking, trying to catch Loki's eyes, his own too lightning-blue and full of unconcealed emotion to stare at for long. 'Never. I could never, no matter how furious I was with you.'

The Chitauri had made a point of it. That Thor had tried to kill him, that Odin had looked on and not intervened, that his friends had betrayed him. That everyone in Asgard had made it clear how much they wanted him gone and if he was to have a place in the universe he would have to make one. When Thor had insisted on bringing him home, when it had turned out to not even be to punish him, it had been like having everything he knew overturned. Now, as more and more of what he thought he knew during that year of captivity unravelled, it felt both frightening and like finally being free.

'...Without that memory I can see it,' he admitted, eyes turned away from Thor now mostly because he was afraid they were filling with tears.

Thor shifted a little, as if he had meant to get up and then thought better of it. 'I hoped you would eventually.' Then, apologetically, 'I truly thought you were making it up, at first.'

'It would have been a strange thing to lie about, when the only person present must know the truth,' Loki answered. Although he could see where it would be easier to believe in even a pointless lie than to believe that you were talking to someone who remembered something entirely differently from you.

'It would not be the first time you'd said strange things only to be infuriating,' Thor countered, then sighed. 'Perhaps it would have been a strange lie. Yet I remember catching you. I remember, earlier, your relying on the knowledge that I would to fool me. It did not occur to me that you would remember it so differently.'

Loki wasn't sure what to say to that. Part of him wanted to apologise, yet it wasn't his fault that his memories had been so wrong. 'I thought everything I said was true.' Being angry with Thor was unfair. Thor was a straightforward person and Loki had said strange things to get a reaction in the past. But he couldn't help the bitterness either. 'Now I know that you did not throw me into an abyss, nor would I have been king past Odin waking. But I still remember a shadow.'

Thor sighed again and lowered his eyes for a moment, so that Loki felt he could look at him again. 'That part I... do not call imaginary. I have not meant to eclipse you, but you are so quiet sometimes, brother!' His eyes flicked up again, a hint that he was bracing himself for argument, and as Loki realised why the protest I am not your brother stuck on his tongue. For now. 'I admit I have been impatient when you speak at length, too.' Loki considered arguing that Thor contradicted himself, butquiet probably meant not boisterous, and he would rather not interrupt when Thor was sort of apologising. 'And I have expected you to follow after me because I was the elder and because I wished to go where I would.'

'I wanted to follow you!' The words seemed to be spoken against his will. The slight dizziness, the odd feeling that the universe was crystal and Thor was refracting into gleaming gold within it, were recognisable. He was not entirely in control here, he should tell Thor to leave, but the words flooding out of his mouth left no gap for it. 'I wanted to go where you did, to have the adventures you came back speaking of. You take the attention of everyone, and I am not immune, but I wanted to be more than the least of your followers. When I was a child I was so proud to be your backup, to think you could ever need me at all, but I...I was always the one forgotten in the stories you told, whose presence you could assume and never bother to mention.'

'Loki-' Thor came back into focus, to a degree, as he spoke. He looked stricken. 'I am sorry to have taken you for granted. But you were - you were never the least of anything, to me.'

Loki swallowed. If Thor touched him he was either going to burst into tears or start screaming, and he was intensely grateful for the presence of Jane. 'How can I believe that when you never showed it?'

'I-' Thor faltered, looked crestfallen. 'I know not. I had thought you knew.'

What could he say to that? Thor was sorry. Shouting at him would not make him sorrier. But what was he to do with the remorse he had wanted? Twist the knife and see how much pain he could cause, in retribution for every accidental cut Thor had inflicted on him? Wasn't that what he'd beendoing? He was afraid, he realised. Too scared to forgive in case things simply went back to how they had been, and his own sense of self was swallowed up once again in his more brightly shining brother. He had gone from defining himself as Thor's brother to defining himself as Thor's enemy. Probably nothing but Thor's death would stop him measuring himself against the impossible standard his brother set.

He tried to gather his scattering thoughts. 'Things cannot go back to how they were.'

Thor lowered his head. 'No. It is too late for that-' He caught himself, glanced up. 'And I would try to do better.'

'You still wish for it though,' Loki accused. 'That we could pretend this never happened.'

'Aye, sometimes. I wish much of it had never happened,' said Thor. 'Do you not?'

Loki closed his eyes. '...Maybe. I do not wish nothing had ever changed, though. I wish...' I wish I'd told you how miserable the thought of you as king was making me, instead of playing a prank that wound up leaving everything in shreds. Would Thor have cared? Maybe he'd simply have laughed it off, or wondered what Loki was talking about. Which was exactly why Loki had never said anything to begin with. 'I wish we could have changed without it being like this.'

'Yes.' And that was heartfelt, aching. 'So do I.'

Loki kept his eyes closed, he couldn't look at Thor when all of Thor's emotions were always on the surface. That echo of his own pain was hard enough to hear. 'It hasn't been so bad, for you. You have Jane, you have a group of mortal warriors who now count you as friend.'

'I have certainly had better company than you have - most of that time,' said Thor, 'but I missed you all the same.'

Loki did look at him then, glancing sideways and seeing nothing but sincerity in Thor's expression. Why did the notion of having been missed keep surprising him? 'Even after I tried to kill you?' He blinked at the words even as he spoke them. So, that explained why he found it surprising.

Thor looked like he was trying not to be exasperated. 'Of course,' he said. 'Though I did wish you would stop.'

'I - I meant during the year I was gone, after New Mexico. I didn't think you would have missed me while fighting against me,' Loki said, in some confusion. Although he supposed Thor might have missed him during the last month or so, when they hadn't been fighting any more and Loki had been refusing to see him.

'I missed having you there and not acting as my enemy,' said Thor. 'Of course I missed you while you were gone. And lately.'

'Were you ever afraid I might actually succeed in killing you?' Thor had made it sound a bad habit, or something.

Thor blinked. 'I thought you came close - each of three times? With the knife, I don't think you were trying very hard.'

He should probably not be pleased to think that Thor had respected his efforts at fratricide. With the had been harder, when it was with his own hands like that, cutting through flesh. The thought that he might have succeeded suddenly hit him and he took a rather sharp breath, stomach lurching. 'I'm glad I didn't.'

Thor was sitting a little straighter, looking concerned, but he still didn't try to get up. 'So am I, obviously,' he said. 'I - am relieved that you don't wish you had.'

Loki shook his head. It's not you I want to be rid of. But I wish I didn't love you, because I don't know how to have a relationship with you that won't be painful. And I don't know how to tell you this, how to ask for one. 'I don't wish you any ill. Not any more. But I don't know that I wish to be around you. Even though I missed you, as well.'

Thor flinched. 'I won't come tomorrow, if you don't wish it.'

'The others will wonder if you don't,' Loki said, aware it was a stalling tactic as he wondered whether he wanted Thor there or not.

'Then explain. Or don't,' said Thor, not very helpfully. He probably thought this was a reasonable set of options.

'Useful advice,' Loki muttered. 'I think - I think it would be easier if you didn't come, tomorrow, but I don't intend to never see you again. I just need to think.' Loki wasn't entirely sure which of them he was reassuring with that.

Thor drew a long breath. 'Very well.'

Loki settled back in his chair, feeling unreasonably tired. But it had been an eventful day. 'I think you should leave now, too. Please.'

'Right.' Thor glanced at Jane. 'Just a moment.' He scooped her into his arms, very carefully, and rose too smoothly to wake her. Not that she could be sleeping very lightly, if she'd stayed that way through Thor talking next to her ear. 'I've told her,' he said suddenly, pausing just short of the door. 'I am very glad the two of you care for each other.'

That wasn't surprising. It was just like Thor to want the people he loved to care about each other as well. 'She's been a good friend.'

'As have you.' Thor didn't wait for a reply to that, perhaps feeling he'd delayed long enough, and the door closed silently behind him.

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 21 of 37

<< Previous     Home     Next >>