Brooding 13

When Frigga had explained how some Jötun males also possessed female organs, Clint initially dismissed it, since he had extremely intimate knowledge of Loki’s physiology and was certain that his former lover did not have a vagina; however, the thought occurred to him that she would not be telling them this information unless it were pertinent to the reason for their visit, and that this visit had to have something to do with Loki for him to have been let out of his prison cell, and then Clint was painfully aware of the many, many times he had fucked Loki, having relived every encounter more than once in his memories… and he knew it had to be the truth. Not that it was any easier to believe, of course, but when he saw the fear and desperation in Loki’s eyes, he was forced to accept it. And, being a man of action, he had acted – in the only way he thought was acceptable, considering the circumstances.

Holding a sobbing, broken Loki in his arms, he felt justified in his decisions. Loki needed him, just as much as his child would need him, and Clint was not about to let either of them down without trying his damnedest. His guess that Loki had been isolated and lonely was proven out, it seemed, by how the once-proud demigod was now clutching at him for comfort. Clint felt a momentary surge of anger at Thor, who was sitting alongside Loki as though in support of his brother but had abandoned him when he had needed him most. Clint pushed that feeling down with the determination that protecting Loki was his responsibility now and that he would do a far better job of it than the god of thunder ever had. Rubbing Loki’s back in long, soothing strokes, Clint waited for him to calm down so he could ask the myriad questions percolating in his mind.

The others in the room had questions of their own, too, but even Tony kept his mouth shut out of respect for the two at the center of this bizarre turn of events. Though only Natasha had known for certain that Clint had been sexually involved with Loki during his captivity, Bruce and Fury had suspected, at least, that Loki might have taken advantage of him while controlling him. Tony had not given it much thought before, but now presented with the truth, it seemed an unsurprising and almost natural outcome to him. Steve had a harder time wrapping his mind around it – not because he was unfamiliar with the practice of men making love with each other, but because he would have expected Loki, as the aggressor, to have impregnated Clint rather than the other way around. Of course he had not expected either until it had become obvious that some form of sexual intercourse had occurred, which still left him blushing beet red. Clint’s display of unabashed affection, however, made it rather easier to comprehend; it was clear that at least on the Human’s part, there was more than simple physical lust at play. Seeing them locked in a tangled mess of limbs filled Steve with a warm, wistful longing, just as it filled Natasha with cold dread.

When Loki’s outburst began to subside, Frigga gave him a handkerchief to wipe his eyes, and he managed to say, between sniffs, “I’m sorry, my body… all the hormones… I just can’t seem to… control it, anymore.”

“Oh, yeah!” Clint responded, comprehension dawning. “Hormones – of course! How are you feeling? This must be so strange for you…”

Loki blew his nose like a trumpet before answering, with great fervor, “You have no idea!”

“We thought he had been poisoned at first,” Frigga explained. “He became deathly ill and lost so much weight, we feared we might lose him altogether.” She ran a hand affectionately over his hair. “We had not expected anything like this, so it took some time to find the cause of his illness. Imagine our surprise when we did!”

“You were sick?” Clint asked Loki directly, concern etching his face. Loki nodded, not wishing to elaborate.

“He could not keep down anything, even when his stomach was empty,” Thor supplied, somehow wanting Clint to know how horribly the pregnancy had affected Loki. “He was convinced the poison was fatal and asked us to release him from his misery.”

Clint heard his comments without removing his gaze from Loki, who once again had cast down his eyes. “Is this true?” he asked him softly. “You were so sick… you thought you were dying?”

A twinge of color appeared in Loki’s sunken cheeks as he made a slight nod. Clint pressed a kiss to the dark ring under one of his eyes, understanding better why it had appeared.

“We call it ‘morning sickness’ on Earth,” he told Loki. “I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard it’s pretty nasty.”

“I assure you, that is a misnomer,” Loki said dryly, “for my sickness was certainly not limited to the morning hours.”

“It must have been awful,” Clint murmured, holding Loki close. “You must have been so frightened… not knowing what was happening, but expecting the worst.”

Loki stilled, suddenly feeling as though his entire being had been laid bare – or rather, as though his heart had been sliced and put on display like that of a Gopulian fish, still beating while the privileged customer prepared to eat it. He was uncertain why or how Clint was able to see into him so clearly, cutting through all the many layers of deceit and distraction to the core of his insecurities, but despite his instinct to flinch away from such scrutiny, he did not feel the sense of danger or dread he might have expected. Clint had only mentioned it because he was concerned for Loki, worried about his emotional as well as physical wellbeing; with Clint, his heart was safe. Although Loki did not answer with words, his tightened grip on Clint’s arms spoke clearly.

“So… are you over that stage?” Clint asked. Loki gave a small shrug.

“We have found a way to alleviate the symptoms,” Frigga told him. “We do not know if it will last through the entire pregnancy or not.”

“And how long will the pregnancy last?” Clint asked, raising one eyebrow.

“We have no way of knowing,” Frigga admitted. “If the child takes after you, its Human father, it may be born in as little as seven months; if it takes after Loki, we cannot say for certain… we do not have any records on the gestation period of the Jötun.”

“What she has not yet told you,” Loki added, forcing himself with a great effort of will to push away from the comforting warmth of Clint’s chest, “is that the Jötun are a monstrous race, blue-skinned and marked with ancestral runes all across their bodies. We… The Æsir call them ‘Frost Giants’ with good reason.” He could not meet Clint’s eyes as he said, “If the child takes after me at all, it would be dangerous for you to be near it; your mortal body would not be able to withstand a single blast of its power.”

“So, I’ll have to take precautions,” Clint responded steadily, determined to show Loki that he would not give up on their child. “But you don’t look anything like that – why is that?”

Loki pursed his lips so Frigga supplied the answer. “The All-Father placed a powerful spell upon him when he claimed him as his own – as our son – when he was an infant. He naturally had shape-shifting abilities, so it was easy to make him conform to an Æsir body; now he will not return to his Jötun form unless he is in direct contact with another one of his kind, and even then not completely unless he wishes it.”

“Huh. So the kid might be born blue, like a Jötun, or possibly turn out mostly Human, or even look like a mixture of the two species,” Clint said, counting out the options to clarify them. “It might have powers like Loki, or none like me, or somewhere in between; and it might live thousands of years like you guys, or just about a hundred years like us Humans, or somewhere in the middle.”

“Or it may surpass any powers and abilities we can imagine, becoming a plague upon all the Nine Realms,” Loki put in, “or it may not survive beyond birth at all. There is simply no way to predict the outcome of this… It is completely unprecedented.”

“Well.” Clint grinned and gathered both of Loki’s slender hands in his own. “Sounds like one for the history books, doesn’t it?”

Loki’s expression was of disbelief as he said, “Perhaps you do not understand the gravity of this situation…”

Clint shrugged. “After what I’ve seen – inter-dimensional aliens with flying crustacean ships and all – having a kid with unusual powers and traits doesn’t seem too challenging. It’ll be an adventure, sure, but at least it’ll keep life interesting.” He stroked Loki’s knuckles with his thumbs before asking, “So… I suppose it’s too soon to tell if it’s a boy or a girl?”

“Yes,” Loki answered, but Clint did not miss the slight hesitation before he spoke. He would have pursued the matter if Frigga did not interrupt him with an unexpected offer.

“Would you like to see the child?” she asked, a proud smile lighting up her face.

“See it?” Clint echoed. “Like a… ultrasound or something?”

Frigga nodded and placed her hands on Loki’s shoulders without waiting for Clint to reply. As he and all the other Humans watched with anticipation, a small golden ball – made up of a thousand pinpricks of light – formed in the air before Loki. The lights tightened and focused to reveal a curled form within.

“So tiny,” Clint whispered in awe, “but look at those little fingers and toes! It’s… It’s perfect!

Loki, who had been observing Clint’s reaction without daring to breathe, felt as though the weight of the world – perhaps of all the worlds – had been lifted off his shoulders.

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