Brooding 27

Jane finally got around to making coffee after explaining what a rain check was. Over their steaming mugs, Thor asked what she had been doing since he had last seen her, and she went into a detailed account of her research and move to London. Thor listened intently, asking about Midgardian cultural references he could not understand, so it was past midnight when she looked up at the clock.

“Oh, my God! I didn’t realize it was getting so late. When do you have to go back?” she asked.

“Do not worry; there is no need for haste,” Thor answered. “In fact… Loki would prefer that I not return for a while…”

“Oh, right – he gets to be out of his cell for now. That must be a nice break for him.”

“Yes, and he is… well…” Thor could hardly bring himself to say it and almost decided not to, but Jane prompted him.

“And… what?”

“He… He is having a… conjugal visit… with Clint Barton.”

Jane’s eyes grew wider than Thor had ever seen them. “You mean… the man he kidnapped with Erik? The father of the baby?”

“Yes.”

“And the guy… actually wanted to… um… spend time with Loki?”

“Yes.” Thor swallowed, remembering the moment when Clint had embraced his brother. “Loki had expected Clint to still hate him for what he had done, but… he never remarked on it. In fact he was… more than kind to Loki. He seems to… truly care for him.”

“Oh, God. That’s not good,” Jane said, startling Thor.

“Why is it not good?”

“Stockholm Syndrome,” she stated, as though the term would hold any meaning for Thor. Realizing it did not from the demigod’s blank look, she elaborated, “It’s a psychological phenomenon that happens under extreme duress like kidnapping – the victims start to twist their understanding of reality in order to survive, making excuses for the kidnapper and taking his side so wholeheartedly that they forget who they are or what they’re really feeling. It’s a way to trick the mind into believing the lies they need to tell the kidnapper so he won’t hurt them. In some cases women have even claimed to have fallen in love with the perpetrator, and it can take years of therapy to get over it. Erik is still being treated by psychiatrists after getting his brain scrambled by Loki.”

Thor listened to Jane’s description with increasing alarm. “So you mean… Clint does not really love Loki but has deluded himself into thinking he does? Just so he could survive the ordeal?”

“It sure sounds like it. I mean, who would willingly sleep with someone who had kidnapped you and forced you to do things against your will?”

“I must tell Loki at once!” Thor declared, rising from the chair. “He must not be allowed to exploit Clint Barton any further.”

“Wait! Wait,” Jane pleaded, also standing to grab Thor’s arm. “Clint needs to figure it out for himself, and if he hasn’t yet, he’s going to resent you for insinuating that his feelings for Loki are fake. Especially if he’s… if they’re… you know… in the middle of their… visit.”

Thor gritted his teeth as the image of Loki and Clint naked together flashed, unbidden, in his mind’s eye; however, he had to admit the truth in Jane’s warning.

“You are right… neither of them will be pleased to hear of this, especially… right now.”

“Exactly. But if you could talk to Clint alone, maybe you can get him to see things more rationally.”

“Perhaps.” Thor considered Jane’s suggestion, trying to understand how a man might be deluded about his own feelings on something of such importance. It was also a test of Thor’s character to attempt to rescue a man from himself when that man was no doubt doing things with Loki – perhaps at that very moment –which upset Thor immensely, even though he feared to admit to himself why.

“Actually,” Jane added, “I would think S.H.I.E.L.D. has put the man under psychiatric care after all he went through. Any decent shrink would have talked to Clint about Stockholm Syndrome, so he should at least be aware of it. That should help you get through to him.”

Thor nodded, but his posture and clenched fists showed his disquiet, so Jane continued, hoping to ease his mind.

“At least they’re getting along well, which is good for the baby, right? Because the baby doesn’t need his or her two dads arguing all the time or not talking at all; it’s good that they’re, uh… establishing a good relationship. Or, um, at least trying to turn it into a good relationship.”

“Yes,” Thor conceded, “for the sake of the child… it is good that they are on amicable terms. Still, that does not mean it is right for Loki to take advantage of Clint’s confused state.”

“Yeah, but, um… call me sexist, but…” Jane groped for words. “Loki is the one who’s pregnant, right?”

“Yes.”

“So… it’s not like… you know… Clint is being… coerced… too much. I mean, he must at least be… enjoying it… a little bit… you know?”

Thor turned to stare out the window at the blackness of the night. He vaguely caught his own reflection, with Jane’s behind it, but all he could see was how Clint had smirked at Loki and led him out of the room, one arm possessively around Loki’s waist. Deluded or not, in love or not, Thor was certain that Clint would enjoy coupling with Loki as much as he had ever enjoyed coupling with anybody. Loki was a skillful lover, his beautiful body matched by his sultry voice and skillful tongue. Thor had enjoyed every stolen moment with his brother despite the great guilt weighing on his conscience for desiring him in such a manner; he was sure Clint was enjoying it as well – and not just “a little bit” as Jane had said.

“Um… Thor? Earth to Thor?”

“What?” he responded, caught by surprise.

“I can tell it’s bothering you,” Jane began, “and I’m sorry I brought it up. Maybe Clint has already worked through his PTSD – sorry, that’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the aftereffects of trauma – and maybe he really is in love with Loki. Who can say for sure? Maybe they did share something more than… mindless, weird, baby-making sex. Maybe they did have some sort of connection or bond.”

“I suppose it is… possible,” Thor grudgingly admitted. He was not sure if the concept helped or not; he was not prepared to delve into it right now.

“But… so…” Jane hesitated, then took a deep breath. “If you’re in no hurry to go back… would you like to stay here tonight?”

“Thank you, yes. The couch will be sufficient,” Thor said with a glance at the living room.

Jane made an awkward laugh. “Thor, you just asked me to go to Asgard with you, and… call me crazy, but I’m seriously considering it.” She looked up into his eyes before telling him, “I wasn’t offering you the couch.”

Thor opened his mouth to reply, then realized there was nothing to say. He had been with enough women to know when to stop talking, so he bent down to answer her lips with a kiss.

 


 

 

Steve had grown quite familiar with the new D-Ration bars since waking in the current time. Often there were days when he did not feel like eating anything, stuck in an ennui that was as cold and gripping as the polar ice, so he had come to rely on the Soldier Fuel bars to keep his body sustained. He picked up an assortment of them, selecting the ones he thought tasted best, and hung the bag on the doorknob of Loki and Clint’s room. Forgetting that the door and walls were made of soundproof material, he knocked and walked away; which was just as well since the couple inside were rather preoccupied.

He returned to his room and tried to sleep, even though he knew it would be elusive tonight. He tried reading a book in an effort to keep the images of Clint and Loki – naked and sweating and obviously enjoying themselves – from replaying in his mind, but with little success. Of course Steve knew the mechanics of sex well enough, being as red-blooded as any other male of the species, but he had never experienced it with a partner, so seeing the actual act itself had been a shock. That it had involved two males only compounded the shock.

The biggest shock, however, was how his body had responded. At first he had stared at the writhing forms on the screen with horrified fascination; but later, when the two men’s movements grew more frenzied, Steve had felt his own manhood swelling with unmistakable interest. He tried to rationalize it to himself by insisting he was only interested in Clint’s side of the pleasure – what did it feel like to thrust into another body like that? But then he wondered how it felt to be on Loki’s side, on the receiving end of those powerful thrusts. Was it truly as pleasurable as Loki’s reactions seemed to indicate? And how did that pleasure compare to Clint’s?

He tried to avoid rehashing those thoughts again, but they kept dogging him, nipping at the corners of his attention along with the images of the two men locked in each other’s embrace. Steve knew that if he gave in to those thoughts, he would be forced to masturbate to those images. Tossing his book on the bedside table, Steve stood up and grabbed his training gear. He would go to the gym and work off some of his restless energy – that had always worked before, even if the results were not quite as satisfactory.

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