Coming Home

Chapter 11

The air was cool; the breeze from the ocean wafting through Asgard, blowing the thin layer of curtains that hung over the window. It was nice to Loki, though, who closed his eyes and leaned closer. Perhaps it was a reminder of his true parentage – it was no secret that Loki had always enjoyed the cooler side of Asgard than the unbearable heat of the summer – but he did not care, not in that moment. It was the ninth day in a row where he’d woken up refreshed, free of the nightmares and the horrors that still continued to haunt him and plague his mind. It was the ninth day in a row that he’d surpassed without being reminded of what he had gone through, what he suffered through at their hands. Some days were easy, being spent with Thor or with Frigga, or lounging around with Sif. Some days were easy where it would always be in the back of his mind – because he’d never been able to not think about it, to not be reminded of what he’d been through in some way – but that was it, just a constant little reminder. Other days … other days were hard, were very bad. They set him back, made him turn into a pathetic mess, made him feel as though there was no surviving it, as though there was the physical torture and then the mental and emotional torture, which he had yet to figure out how to best. And it was hard and he said things to the ones he loved that made him feel even worse, but they never left him, never abandoned him, were always there to hold his hand and wrap him in their arms and remind him that he wasn’t alone, that he’d never be alone again. And it was nice and it was them – Thor, Frigga, and Sif – that got him through the tough days, which made him, believe – slowly, but surely – that there was hope for healing.

A soft knock sounded, pulling Loki from his leisure thoughts, making him open his emerald green eyes and blink. After the soft knock sounded, another knock came, one that was just a bit louder, enough to alert Loki that there was someone at the door, but not enough to completely startle him. He was still dealing, still trying to integrate himself back into life in Asgard, into a new life, because there was no going back to how things used to be, no returning to the person he used to be, because that person was hurt and messed up and cruel and didn’t understand what Loki understood now – that he wasn’t alone, that he had a family that cared for him, no matter how different he was to them. Sighing deeply, Loki slowly stood to his feet as the door opened, staring warily as the AllFather entered the room, his expression – as always – thoughtful and concerned.

A few moments passed where nothing was said, the two merely staring at each other. Loki long since realised that it was the AllFather’s way of waiting for him to speak, to start the conversation, to get something off of his chest if he needed to, but Loki would never rise to the bait, would not speak first. Throughout his healing, he had discovered a lot of things about himself, had come to terms with many of his insecurities and problems, but never – never – had he been able to forgive Odin. He had never been able to put aside his anger and his bitterness towards the AllFather, not after their past, not after years and years of neglect, not after years and years of always favouring Thor. He’d been lied to all his life, had been pushed aside for Thor and, even though he and Thor had worked out their issues, had talked and discussed and had been able to mostly meet in the middle about certain things, Loki had never been able to put past what the AllFather had done to him. So he would not speak first, would not make the AllFather’s task of getting to know him any easier, because why should he when he had not been interested in doing so before?

“How are you feeling?” The AllFather finally asked, and Loki snorted softly before sitting back down in his chair next to the window. Their talks were always like this – with neither truly knowing how best to talk to the other, how best to get through to the other without starting a fight, without hurting and angering the other. Loki had little use of them, but Frigga – and Thor – wanted this, wanted them to talk, to try to get past what happened between them. And despite how desperately he wished he didn’t have to suffer through their talks, Loki couldn’t bear to see the disappointment in his mother’s eyes, couldn’t bear to hurt her. No, there had been enough hurt, enough pain, enough sadness.

“I am well,” Loki said, shrugging his shoulders, gaze turning down to his boots for he could not stare any longer into that one eye. It was too deep, too revealing, too sincere, and Loki didn’t want to see how truthful and honest the AllFather was being, because he wanted to stay angry, wanted to stay hurt. It was a burden that would feel better once it was lifted from his shoulders, but Loki didn’t want that just yet, because hating him was all he’d ever known. “I’m healing,” He added, chancing a glance up at the AllFather before returning his emerald green eyes back down. He wished for their talk to be over now.

“Good, good,” Odin replied, nodding his head. He walked a bit into the room, Loki’s eyes tracking his feet as he moved, knowing exactly where he was at all times. He was still getting over what happened to him, still trying to find the normalcy of life in Asgard, but it was still difficult at times, still hard for him to just forget – because he never forgot. When receiving visitors, the soft knocking on the door kept him from jumping, from startling at the sudden sound. It caught his attention, enough to give him a moment to relax before another louder sound came, and the tracking of the footsteps, always keeping an eye on who was with him and making sure that none came up behind him … well, that was just precaution, was just Loki’s mind panicking at the thought of more pain, more suffering, more anguish, and more torment. So he watched as the AllFather walked a bit into the room, stopping only just a few paces from the door. He was clearly uncomfortable – much like Loki was – and probably wanted their conversation to end as much as Loki did, but still, no matter how many times Loki saw the look, he always stayed just a bit longer every single time. “I’m glad that you’re all right, Loki. I worry for you. I’ve always worried for you.”

Clenching his jaw, Loki said nothing, couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t leave them both screaming and yelling at each other, couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t have them hating each other more than they did. He turned his head away from the AllFather, turned his gaze back out the window, because what could he possibly say to something like that? He didn’t believe his words, didn’t believe them for a second. The AllFather had to know that, too, had to at least sense the sudden wave of hostility that was rolling off of Loki’s entire body for he sighed deeply and moved closer. His gaze snapped back to the AllFather’s when he started moving, his heart starting to pick up speed, not enough to have him panicking, not even to have him cowering back in fear, preparing himself mentally for a blow, but enough of a warning. It was a prickle of fear that swept through him, and the AllFather immediately stopped moving, that reflective eye dimming in his sadness. Another sigh and he was moving back to where he was when he first came into the room, giving Loki space to calm down and realise that there was no danger. But Loki had no time for that. Anger and embarrassment flooded his entire being, making him feel as though he was as pathetic and as childish as they had always said he was. Shaking his head, Loki leaned forward in his seat, a sneer curling his lips upwards. “You cannot blame me for not believing a single word coming from you. After everything that you’ve done to me, do you truly believe that I’d just let this happen, that I’d just let you in? You don’t care.”

“I do care –”

“No, you don’t! If you cared then none of this would have happened! If you cared then I wouldn’t still be waking up at nights …” Loki started off strong, his voice high and full of such anger and resentment, but he trailed off, despite how much he wished to inflict pain upon the AllFather, to give him just a taste of what Loki felt. But his tone had morphed from bitterness to something almost like a whine, and Loki put an end to it before he could reveal just how vulnerable he felt about the entire situation. He had made milestones from where he used to be to where he was now, but that didn’t take away the fear that he felt or how upset and bitter he still was. He was still trying to find his place, still trying to figure out where he fit in, how he’d go about living. Shaking his head, ridding himself of it all, Loki stood to his feet, keeping one hand firmly pressed on the wall. “I’m done. I cannot do this anymore today.”

Neither moved – Odin stood exactly where he was, a look of disappointment and sadness taking over his features and Loki had to look away, had to avert his gaze, because he couldn’t see that, couldn’t know that he was the cause of it. He wanted the AllFather to hurt, he wanted that man to know how Loki felt almost his entire life, but at the same time, deep, deep down within him, he wanted to apologise, wanted to beg for forgiveness, because he wanted Odin’s blessing, wanted to know that he had made him proud, just like Thor did. Despite all of what happened, Odin was the only father that Loki had ever known and even though he would like to think that he had no father, Loki knew deep down that the AllFather was and would always be his father. His heart was pounding and his eyes brimmed with tears, but before he could lick his lips and open his mouth, Odin spoke, his voice softer and more careful than Loki had ever heard before. “It’s all right, my son,” He said, voice barely above a whisper. He was staring hard at Loki, taking everything in, studying him, realising the turmoil inside of him that was bringing about a maelstrom of emotions that conflicted and contradicted so many others. “I’m not upset with you. I knew that this would take time. I knew that you could not forgive me, that you could not let my past transgressions go. I cannot, either. I have done you wrong, Loki, and you will never know how sorry I am for that. All I ask is that you give me time to mend what I have broken inside of you.”

Blinking away the tears, turning his head back towards the window, unable to show such weakness in front of the AllFather, all Loki could do was nod his head, was mutter an affirmative. The room was quiet and Odin had not left yet, and Loki was begging and pleading with the Norns that he’d just go, that he’d leave him in his weakness, in his misery, in the sadness and the humiliation that was this talk. Eventually, he did leave, did turn around after several minutes of staring at Loki, and walk from the room. And Loki didn’t move from where he stood, didn’t move for even longer, needing to make sure that he was gone, needing to make sure that he wouldn’t chance walking into him, wouldn’t chance seeing him in the halls. And when he was sure that he was gone, when he was sure that there was no way of walking into him or seeing him, Loki ran from the room. He needed to breathe. He needed to forget, needed light and goodness. He needed her.

And then she was there, standing at the end of the hall, a book in her hand, heading in the opposite direction of Loki, her head down, eyes scanning the back of the book. But she must have sensed him, must have felt eyes on her, must have felt the desperation that was flowing off of him in waves, because she looked up and caught his eye – dark browns connecting to emerald greens – and then she was walking towards him, knowing that there was something wrong, knowing that he needed her, and she was there, always there. Loki met her halfway and threw his arms around her, needing her more than he ever thought possible. Her arms wound their way around his neck, pulling him down, and he pressed his face in the crook of her neck and took in her scent – gardenia with a hint of leather – and slowly felt his heart even out, slowly felt his panic and his hurt ebb until it was just him, just Loki. Nothing needed to be said between them. She knew, Sif always knew. Her fingers carded through his hair, her hold on him firm and comforting and warm and safe and Loki felt better.

Eventually, they started walking, Sif’s arm looping between Loki’s, her shoulder pressing against his a constant pressure that he was grateful for. And he took her hand, a swell of emotion filling him when she immediately intertwined their fingers, and he revelled at how perfectly her hand fit in his, as though the Norns created her just for him. And everything was just better, was right, that even though he had a long way to go, he was going to be okay, because he had mother and he had Thor and he had her – dark brown eyes, Sif, Sif, Sif – and it would work out, it would in time.

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