Walking through the many hallways of the Palace, Loki searched for a place of solitude, a place where he could be by himself and not worry about putting up a front, a façade, showing how he was beginning the healing process, because he wasn’t. It had been almost a week and still Loki could feel as though he was getting ready to rip the skin from his own body, as though he was being watched, followed, as though he could still feel fowl breath on his face, could still hear footsteps trailing after him and no matter how many times he turned around, there was no-one. Loki felt as though he was losing his mind and, having experience in that already, it wasn’t something that he wished to repeat. Not knowing what he should do, Loki found himself spending more and more time with his beloved mother and his brother, Thor, but even then, Loki felt as though he was moving quicker and quicker towards another break. Despite how much he cared for them, they just … they didn’t get it. They were so concerned with keeping his fear at bay, with making him comfortable and happy, that they couldn’t see how their compassion was actually starting to suffocate him. He felt as though he couldn’t breathe when they were around. He was pleased when he found out that they would not be with him until dinner time. It gave Loki the time he needed to move around, to somehow find a place to rest that did not hold many people, somewhere he could just sit and feel and revel in the fear and the pain and the utter panic that became of his life, because how could he abandon that feeling when it was all he felt for so long …
Slowly making his way from the Palace, Loki walked through Frigga’s garden and made his way deeper, finding himself moving towards a pond that he and Thor used to play in when they were younger. He had not been there for a while and, as he sat down gently on the ground at the base of a tree, Loki could not come up with the reason as to why. Even during the hottest days, the pond was shaded. The sun’s hot rays were cut off by the Palace’s towering walls and by the trees that surrounded the area, shielding them. Thor had always complained, but Loki was secretly grateful. The heat had always been an issue for him, leaving him sick and dehydrated and ill for several days at a time … but it all made sense now that he knew what he was, why the heat had such an effect on him. Taking a deep breath, Loki closed his eyes as he exhaled, willing away the thought. His world had fallen apart the second he found out what he was, where he was truly from – that he was a monster that parents told their children about at night. Perhaps he was barely holding on after the outcome of what happened to him, but the one thing that he did not think he could handle was the core of why he broke, because if he did not know then he would not have fallen, would not have found himself in the wrong hands, would not have …
Emerald green eyes opened, finding the pond. The wind blew softly, enough to cause ripples across the surface, each ring getting bigger and bigger. It seemed almost symbolic, how each ring signified a fracture, a crack in his subconscious, how each thought, each flash could cause another and another and another until the waters calmed. He was broken, Loki was, and he just had to accept the fact that he would remain that way for a long time to come, because he had no idea how to save himself, had no idea how to climb his way out of the pit he found himself in now. Loki leaned up against the tree and pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them, as though trying to become smaller, as though trying to become invisible. He was pathetic and frightened and broken and so completely fragile and Loki hated himself all the more, because he had no control over anything anymore, had it all taken away from him the second he landed on that barren rock and he had no idea how to get it back. Loki thrived on control, had needed it, and now … now he was hopeless and lost and had become so dependent on the very creatures that ripped him apart and made him beg and plead and do awful things to others and to himself to even get a breath, to get just a moment of peace.
Loki could feel a cold sweat sweep over his body, making him shiver slightly. He was hot and he was cold and he could feel a fire burning in his veins, as well as a bone-chilling emptiness that settled over his body, making him cling to himself all the tighter, because how else was he to keep warm? But the more he did that, the hotter he became, until he had no choice but to relinquish the grip he had around his knees. Sighing deeply, swallowing thickly, Loki leaned his head back against the bark of the tree. He could never find comfort. Was that how it was to be for him now, always searching for an end to the madness that had consumed him and just pray that he could find peace? Loki wasn’t that lucky, though. It wouldn’t come, no matter how hard he tried. The Norns enjoyed his suffering too much to put an end to it. So he merely sat there and listened to the wind shake the trees, the leaves rustling together. He listened to the way the water in the pond swished about, brushing against the land, dampening the ground. He listened to the sound of his heart, how he fought to keep the lingering strands of whatever bit of control he had left to remain calm until Thor or his mother found him, because at least then he could at any rate pretend that he had a fighting chance. He loved them and he hated them. He needed them and he wished they’d leave him alone, because all they did was remind him of how weak he’d become.
A sudden snapping of a twig and the crunching of a leaf caused Loki to tense up, his heart immediately lurching to his throat. He heard a quiet “Oh,” before the faint aroma – gardenia with a hint of leather – of a scent he had never expected to smell again caught his nose, and Loki forced himself to calm down, because he was safe and he was home and he wasn’t in danger and he was fine, nothing was going to hurt him, she wasn’t going to hurt him. Releasing the tight grip he had on his knees, watching as his knuckles went from white to their usual pale pink colour, Loki turned his head slightly. She hadn’t changed much, appearance wise. She was still absolutely beautiful, her wavy thick hair around her shoulders, pulled back by a black tie. Her dark brown eyes were different, though, older. There was so much reflecting in those eyes that Loki had to turn away, had to take a deep breath, because he could feel her pain.
She didn’t move, didn’t take her eyes off of him as she waited for him to relax. Loki could feel a pang of annoyance at that, because did they all think he would break if they so much as startled him? But immediately after that thought, Loki deflated some, because they knew that that was the reason. He was risking falling apart with every breath that he took. “What do you want?” He asked, staring at her from the corner of his eye. He could see her tensing some, as well, as though she wasn’t sure of what she was doing, of what she could possibly say. She relaxed a moment later, though, hands going to her hips, not knowing exactly what to do with them. She smoothed her dark green shirt and looked down at her black boots before looking back over to him, clasping her hands tightly together.
“Forgive me. I did not know you were here,” She answered, voice fighting for the right tone. So much had happened and Loki knew that she was still trying to figure out how she should act towards him. Her voice fought for neutrality, fought to pretend as though their history never happened. It was a losing battle, though, for it shook with the emotion she was trying so hard to conceal.
Loki didn’t say anything back, unsure of how he should respond – if he even should. He knew that it was only a matter of time before they would cross paths again, before they would reunite once more, but Loki had thought that he would have more time. He had only just gotten back a while ago and he was still trying to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other. But she was standing there, looking beautiful and wondrous and Loki could still feel, even though he didn’t know what it meant or how he should respond. He only knew that he remembered how he felt around her, could remember the joy – no matter how foreign it seemed now – and the happiness and the absolute bliss that the mere sight of her could bring. “Would you like to sit, Lady Sif?” She didn’t move for a moment, clearly caught off guard by Loki’s question. She must have assumed that he’d ask her to leave or to get up and make a quick escape like he did last time. He wouldn’t run this time – couldn’t. So much had been taken from him, so much had been ripped from his very being, and now was the chance to at least take back some of it. He had to at least try. And so he turned to her and said, “I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t sure,” because he knew that she was going to question it, knew that she was being careful and hesitant and he didn’t want any of that, because as much as he was hurt and broken and torn apart bit by bit, he didn’t forget and he knew that that wasn’t Sif.
There was no more hesitation after that. She walked over and knelt down in front of Loki, had sat on her knees and stared at him with tears in her eyes. Her body was tense and her hands were clenched in tight fists on her knees, but she didn’t move to touch him, had merely sat there before him and stared hard at him, a combination of pain and anger on her face, as though she was terrified of what had happened to him, but furious at what had happened between them, at their bitter end. But she didn’t say anything. And the longer she sat there, the heavier the tears became, because they soon fell down her face, trails dampening her cheeks, flushing them. And they hurt Loki; hurt knowing that he was the cause of them. But it was a different kind of hurt. It wasn’t like the hurt he felt when he was around mother or Thor. This hurt cut deeper, because he knew that their pain – his and Sif’s – was deeper. She had suffered when he … fell. She had been left alone so suddenly, had had her heart ripped from her chest when the Bifrost broke and he had disappeared into the nothingness of the Void. She had mourned and she had suffered and grieved and had to find a way to keep on going when he was ripped from her life.
Without thinking, without allowing himself the chance to think, Loki reached forward and brushed his thumb across her cheek. Sif let out a shaky breath, her eyes closing and her own hand coming up, folding over Loki’s. She leaned into his touch, even more tears falling down her face at the show of affection. Perhaps she knew of his … issues, of the haunts that continued to hang over him, of the fears and the insecurities and the little things that caused him to shatter, because she didn’t do anything else. Her body shook and Loki knew that she was fighting for control, and he briefly wondered if he would even care if she were to throw her arms around him and cry into his neck. A tiny whimper broke from deep within her throat and his hand curled around the back of her neck as he pushed himself to his knees and wrapped his arms around her, casting the thought aside, because in that moment, he didn’t care. That whimper turned into a heart-broken sob as Sif fell against Loki, her arms grabbing the fabric of his clothes, bringing him closer and closer. Her entire body shook as she let it all out. And Loki cried with her, holding her and rocking her and just being there, for once comforting instead of being comforted. It made him feel like him for the first time in so long.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Loki whispered over and over again, his voice quivering and shaking, his heart lodged painfully in his throat, because he was – for everything. “I’m sorry.”