Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 7 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

Spending a morning with people asking for details of a memory they didn't believe was real was one of the most frustrating experiences of Loki's life. He refused to pretend they believed him and insisted on arguing against their logic. They only had Thor and Odin's word and Odin would clearly lie to protect Thor. Why were they so sure he must be the one lying? They had told him that they didn't think he was lying, just mistaken, and he'd argued that it was more likely someone was lying than that his memory was wrong.

It was frightening. They might convince him, if he let them. Erase his memory because it was inconvenient or because they thought he was wrong. He reminded them, reminded himself, that he was their prince, had been their king, and was not powerless even now. That although they held him prisoner that was all they could do to him.

He swept to the library that afternoon holding that around him, as if he had been able to summon his armour, and holding his head up high. I am still your prince. I am not helpless. People looked at him, uncertain, perhaps worried by his confidence, and he refused to let their gazes concern him. Jane was there, waiting at their table with her books spread out in front of her. It was a relief to see her, more of a relief than it should be to see a mortal. He carried his own books over to join her (even more people were looking at him in here, after yesterday, and he didn't care).

She looked up and smiled, which was usual, and then watched his approach. On other days, sometimes, she would have an abstracted look in her eyes even as she smiled, and go back to her book almost before she'd greeted him. He wasn't sure if he was commanding more respect now or if she was wary. But he would not lose control of himself today.

'I decided to get an early start this afternoon,' she said, quietly. That was certainly true. She had more than a page of notes he didn't recognise already. She must have had an early lunch.

'So I see,' he sat down across from her without really meeting her eyes.

They passed nearly two hours that way before Jane had the temerity to ask him about the mathematical framework of crystallising light.

'I'd be wasting my time trying to explain it to someone who couldn't possibly understand it,' he said, without looking up from his own book.

'I think we established it's not necessary to be able to do magic to understand some of the theory!'

'There's more to magic than mathematics. Some things you can only understand by doing.'

Jane sighed. 'I wasn't disputing that.'

Loki narrowed his eyes. 'And as a mortal, who cannot ever truly understand magic, you are wasting your time and sullying the field by studying it at all.'

Jane put her pen down and folded her arms on the table. 'You know, if you don't feel like talking, you could just say that. Are you trying to get rid of me?'

He didn't know. It was humiliating, having relied on a mortal for companionship, having offered her bits and pieces of knowledge as an incentive to stay with him, as if he should have to coax her into tolerating him. Yet the thought of her leaving made him want to do it again. 'I want you to stay,' he said, phrasing it as a command.

Jane's lips tightened, and she sighed through her nose. 'I'm not really used to kings and princes,' she said quietly, 'and I have a feeling I should just not argue the point, and try again sometime when you're in a better mood. But I think you know that I don't have to obey you and I think you shouldknow all you had to do was ask.'

It occurred to Loki, perhaps rather belatedly, that she almost certainly didn't obey Thor unquestioningly either. She'd known him when she thought he was a delusional mortal, was not, as she said, used to princes, and would be unlikely to hold his interest if she did bow too easily to his wishes. 'You should have to obey me,' Loki said, although with rather less conviction. 'You are in my kingdom.'

'Trust me,' Jane said wryly, and he had just enough time to think that was rather a lot to ask before she finished, 'if that had been a requirement, I wouldn't have come.'

Loki wanted to shout at her that she should want to be ruled by him, that she was mortal and all they were good for was being ruled. He wanted to demand…felt himself slipping, no, he would not lose control, not again, here, with everyone still remembering yesterday. He looked at Jane before he could stop himself, mutely appealing to her in a way that undermined the fragile confidence he'd been trying to project.

Something in her face and eyes softened. It certainly wasn't submission, and it wasn't exactly pity, but the irritation faded. 'I don't appreciate being pushed around generally, you know, it's not just you. I wouldn't have come if I thought Thor was going to be obnoxious about it, either.'

Not intending to ignore Jane, but needing a moment to gather himself back together, he looked down at his books. He was painfully aware of his handlers on the edges of his vision, that they had seen that moment of vulnerability. In Loki's experience Thor usually was obnoxious about taking the lead, but the truth was that he usually backed down when called on it by Sif or one of the others. It was only Loki who had never worked out how to challenge him effectively.

'I'll answer your question, if you still want me to,' he said. It felt like a capitulation, but he neither wanted to argue with Jane nor think about Thor. Giving in was better than any of the alternatives.

He heard her inhale, and then she smiled at him when he looked up. 'I'd appreciate that. I was thinking, it seems like it might connect to something you said yesterday...' She turned her notes around to face him, and then while he was talking, she got up and came around the table. So they could both read the same thing right-side-up, of course, but in her place, he wasn't sure he'd have chosen to come within reach.

It was surprisingly easy to fall back into the routine of studying with Jane, now that he wasn't reminding himself that she was mortal and he shouldn't treat her as an equal. Explaining magic to her made him miss his own keenly, but at the same time it was good to revisit the familiar knowledge. Jane might have been annoyed with him earlier, but she wasn't holding a grudge, and by the time they went their separate ways for dinner he felt sure they'd meet up like this again.

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 7 of 37

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