Brooding 24

Once back in their room, Clint turned down the bed for the first time; earlier they had made love on the bedspread and had never gotten into the bed itself. He stripped out of his clothes while Loki watched appreciatively, then he undressed Loki like a servant – the way Loki had trained him to during their previous time together. This time, however, Clint peeled through the layers of Asgardian clothing with less haste and more innuendo, placing kisses on various spots of the bared skin as a foretaste of what he intended to do later. Feeling Loki shiver under his lips was a thrill that set the archer’s heart pounding.

Although his cock was clamoring for action as they lay side-by-side in bed, since he had already satisfied it more than once today, Clint wanted to take things slow. He knew it was tantamount to blackmail to question Loki now, when his lover was just as eager for a good fucking as he was, but he wasn’t sure he could get a straight answer out of him otherwise.

“Hey,” he said, halting their kissing session before it got too heated. “What was eating at you during dinner?”

“Ah… what?” Loki asked in turn, confused by the expression. “Oh, you mean… what was troubling me?”

“Yeah.”

“Nothing. I simply didn’t have much of an appetite after… what had happened earlier.”

“That’s not all,” Clint insisted, though he softened the impact of his words by stroking Loki’s bare back. “There were a few times when you looked… as if you were miles away. Worlds, even. What’s bothering you?”

Loki attempted to shrug but could not look Clint in the eye. Taking that as a warning sign, Clint pulled him into an embrace.

“You know you can tell me anything, right?”

“Yes… although I’m not sure why.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean… this is all so… strange.” Loki kept his hands on Clint’s shoulders and his cheek pressed against Clint’s grizzled jaw as he began to unravel his shroud of mystery. “I never expected you to claim this child as yours, let alone want to be with me again… I feel like this is all a dream or some elaborate delusion I’ve tricked myself into believing… or maybe someone else has cast a spell on me, I don’t know. If that’s what it is, I hope I never wake up.”

The fierce kiss he gave Clint left a mark on his neck. Feeling the sting, Clint groped for the right words to say.

“Why wouldn’t I claim my kid? I mean, it’s obviously mine, whether I claim him or not… unless you were cheating on me with some other guy, and I know you couldn’t have – not while we were together, since you didn’t have the time. And you’ve been in an Asgardian prison ever since.” Clint pulled back a bit so he could study Loki’s face. “And why wouldn’t I want to be with you again? You’re beautiful… smart… sexy… a bit sarcastic, sure, but I like that in a man.”

Loki smiled at the joke but responded gravely, “I tried to subjugate your entire world, and as soon as my spell on you was broken, you fought to defend it… and you even tried to kill me. You couldn’t have, of course, with such a small explosion, but you didn’t know that.”

Clint realized they had come to the crux of the matter. “That was before I remembered everything. I was still dazed and confused,” he protested. “I only knew my world was under attack, so yeah, I was fighting to save it. That’s just instinct.”

“Yes. A warrior’s instinct.”

“And… you’d hurt me, you know. You’d messed up my mind so badly, I wasn’t sure which way was up when I came out of it. I thought if I could put an arrow through your head, I would sleep better at night.”

Loki averted his eyes before answering, “It was never my intent to harm you. Had I released you from the spell myself, you would not have felt so… disoriented.”

“Would you have? Released me?”

“Perhaps… eventually. Once I could count on your loyalty without resorting to magic.”

Clint leaned in to kiss Loki’s lying lips – the first time he had ever used that particular tactic of interrogation.

“No,” Loki whispered after a moment. “I would never… have released you. You were too valuable to me. And you would never have given me your loyalty of your own free will.” He swallowed hard, remembering that day all too clearly. “I knew, of course, the instant you were wrested away. I had just pressed the button to eject Thor out of the craft… I thought if I could kill him, I would feel better too. Funny, that – how we both sought revenge for the pain we had been inflicted…”

“Did it help?”

“No,” Loki admitted, squeezing his eyes shut against the memory. “I just knew… I’d lost my brother forever. I tried to tell myself… I didn’t need him anymore, because I had you… and then… I lost you as well. I was… alone again. As I always have been. After all, you were little more than a puppet on my strings.”

“Loki,” Clint began, but the demigod smirked and stopped him with a gentle kiss.

“I’d deluded myself into half-believing that it was true… that you were really my lover, not my pawn. Such a lovely lie… but a lie nonetheless.”

“You were lonely,” Clint said – a statement, not a question. Loki did not deny it.

“I should have realized… you would leave me. Even if I had kept you in my thrall forever, I would have known, in my heart of hearts, that you would rebel against me at the first opportunity. I might have controlled your mind and your actions, but not your heart. And so, when I sensed that our bond had been broken… that you weren’t coming to rescue me like the prince in a Midgardian fairy tale… I should not have been so surprised.”

Clint grimaced at remembering the stories he had told Loki to entertain him. His then-master had devised the plan for his own capture after hearing some of them and teased Clint that he would be the noble prince, come to rescue his captured darling.

“But you were surprised?” Clint asked, wondering how deep Loki’s self-delusion had been.

“Perhaps ‘surprised’ is not the best word… but it left me off my guard enough for the little man to shoot me with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new weapon. That stung – perhaps my pride more than my body. But it reminded me that I had no time to mourn your loss.”

“You… ‘mourned’ for me?”

“Yes. Later. Alone in my cell.” Loki sighed and slid his chained hands down Clint’s chest. “I wondered if things might have turned out differently… if only you had been at my side till the end. But it seems the Norns have cursed me in this, as in all other things.”

“What do you mean?”

The nonchalant shrug Loki gave did not convince Clint in the least that he did not care.

“It seems I’m fated to have my lovers taken from me… usually by force. Thor, you… Anybody I have ever cared about has been ripped away from me, sooner or later. The only one who seems immune to the curse is my mother… the Queen. But not even the Norns can curse her. She is too pure of heart.”

Clint combed back Loki’s hair as he considered what he had just heard. “So who else has been taken from you?” he finally asked.

“There was once a palace guard… some years older than I. Handsome. Bright. From a good family. He kept watch over me as I spent my evenings in the library… often until quite late, but he never seemed to mind. He asked me about the books I was reading, and I was impressed with how many he had read himself. Thor had long discarded me for the delights of women, and… Svástir was kind. I thought, perhaps, I might be happy with him…”

“What happened?” Clint prompted when Loki trailed off.

“His parents found him a wife,” Loki replied, his tone bitter. “One with a dowry fit for a king. Her father was a merchant in need of a capable assistant, and his father was convinced he would do better in business than as a soldier.”

“But… didn’t he love you?”

“I had believed him to,” Loki said, and a small sigh escaped his lips. “I had certainly made no secret of my affection for him… but he said I was too young to know my own mind. Imagine that! If I didn’t know my own mind at any age, I should be a fool indeed!”

Clint did not allow Loki to distract him with that remark but instead held him closer in his arms.

“So he married the girl? When he could have been the lover of a prince? Possibly even… the future king of Asgard?”

“Yes. And which is the greater fool, I shall let you decide.”

“I won’t be so stupid,” Clint told him.

Loki gazed at him with haunted eyes. “You won’t need to be. I will again never be let out from my cell.”

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