Thor and Loki returned to the Mansion reappearing in Loki´s study where he could restore his energy using the gems. They had a small talk before heading back, Thor didn´t liked the idea of Loki going on an undercover mission by himself but he had agreed to let him g on behalf of Leah´s wellbeing.
Loki was worried about Leah´s reaction once he told her about the deal he had stroke with fury; maybe he should´ve waited for her to get better before going to SHIELD, but he didn´t. It was dinner time already so they headed back to the dining room, they were all there except for Leah.
Loki asked Steve worryingly “Where´s Leah? Why isn´t she here?”
Steve stood up and took Loki out of the dining room. “She refused to join us, she claimed she wasn´t hungry; she feed and put Eerika to sleep before locking herself in your room. I´m afraid she´s still upset about your fight earlier; I tried talking to her but she just keeps acting as if you weren´t coming back. You really need to talk to her.”
“I´m not sure that talking to her will help.” Loki wryly admitted. “I stroke a deal with Fury … I will do an undercover mission for him in exchange for Leah´s freedom.”
Steve sighed displeased as he slightly nodded his head negatively. “When do you leave?” He finally asked him with a worried frown.
“In a week but I´ll be reporting to Fury on almost daily bases.” Loki lied to Steve, he needed to have a pretext for going out of the Mansion to convince the Sinister Six to join the mission.
Steve sighed displeased again as he placed a hand over Loki´s shoulder he told him. “Then I guess you should make every moment count; go to her I´m sure she´ll be glad to see you.” Then gave him a gentle push towards his room.
“I hope so.” Loki sighed worried as he walk down the hall, she had already been through so much, and now … he would have to put her through some more.
When he walked into his room after magically unlocking the door he found Leah half asleep curled up over the bed; she still had her clothes on and was tightly hugging his pillow in a desperate attempt to find some comfort on its familiar scent. She had been crying, the redness on her half closed eyes gave her away. She was so lost in her thoughts she didn´t even noticed Loki until he leaned next to her in order to look into her eyes. “Leah? You missed dinner …” He told her in a sweet loving tone. Leah looked up at him, for a second it didn´t seem she recognized him, her empty stare made Loki´s heart cringe.
“Loki? Loki!” She jumped up and embraced him tight. “I thought you weren´t coming back.” She confessed while new tears rolled out of her eyes.
“Don´t be silly! I will always come back to you.” He returned her embrace, he could feel her heart beating fast. “I´m sorry about earlier, I shouldn´t have snapped at you like that; I regret telling you that you were an arrogant child that …”
“No, you were right. I shouldn´t had tried to tell you what to do.” She interrupted him, her voice broke when she added. “It´s not my place.”
“What did you just said?” Loki asked her bewildered.
“It´s not my place.” Leah repeated shyly. “There’s no reason for you to listen to me.” She ended while bowing her head down.
Loki looked at her surprised; Thor had been right about one thing, but it wasn´t her heart that had broken, it was her spirit. She just had gave up, she had never done so before. It only made Loki feel even guiltier about what he had to say to her.
“No, Leah, that´s not true. I value your opinion, it´s just that sometimes …” He paused for a moment trying to find the right words when she interrupted him again.
“It´s doesn´t matter.” She dryly told him.
“But it does matter.” Loki spat upset.
“If you say so.” Leah weakly acknowledged, she didn´t saw the point any more, in her heart everything seem lost, even with Loki at her side she felt as she had already lost him.
“Leah, please. You are making this harder than it needs to be.” Loki tried to restrain his anger and hide it; he couldn´t decide if he was angrier at her for giving up or at him for putting her in that place.
“You talked to Fury….” Was her response, her worst fears were coming true, she could just feel it.
“Yes, I did.” Loki admitted, he would have to tell her sooner or later. “We made a deal”
“What sort of deal?” Leah asked him anxiously, if only she could stop shaking she wouldn´t feel so weak.
“I´ll do a mission for him and then he´ll drop all the charges against you, he´ll even provide protection for Eerika and yourself should we ever need it.” Loki informed her as he watched attentively her reactions; she had started shaking again, maybe he should´ve lied to her.
Leah closed her eyes trying to pull herself together as she opened them back she asked. “What kind of mission? Her eyes were overfilled with tears.
“Leah, please don´t cry. It´s just a mission I will be all right. You have nothing to worry about.” He lied to her, what else could he do?
“Is Thor going with you?” she asked next as if she hadn´t heard him at all.
“No, I´ll be going alone.” Loki bit his lower lip as he told her.
“Alone?” Leah looked up at him while she held her own hands trying to stop them from shaking. “Alone, why?” She asked again, her tears were running freely now.
“It´s an undercover mission, I have to do it alone.” Loki kept trying to reassure her. “I´ll be all right, you have nothing to worry about.”
The more Loki told Leah she had nothing to worry about the more Leah worried, she could feel her stomach becoming upset with nausea. She had tried to still her crying but she just couldn´t any more, he wasn´t going to come back, he was going to die and it was her fault. “Why did you do it?” She reproached him between cries.
“For you.” Loki confessed. “I can´t let you sacrifice everything. I can´t just stand by and watch you wither away.”
“Why not?” Leah whined. “We would´ve been together and alive, and now …” She couldn´t end her phrase she was crying to hard.
“Leah, stop it! You are overreacting! I´m not death, I´m not going to die. Everything is all right, you need to calm down.” Loki yelled at her upset, he just didn´t seem to be reaching her.
“Everything is all right?” Leah repeated in a hysterical laughter. Was she going crazy then? Was her mind so broken she couldn´t see that? Who would take care of Eerika then? With Loki gone and herself two steps from insanity. In that overwhelming instant the nausea she had been repressing became stronger; she fought the urge to vomit for a moment, but it was useless. She suddenly ran to the bathroom barely getting there on time to spill the meager contents of her stomach into the toilet. Loki had followed her the instant she sprang of the bed and looked at her both surprised and worried as she threw up.
“By the norns Leah! Are you all right?” He asked her as he knelt by her side trying to help her get her hair out of the way.
“Don´t touch me!” Leah snapped at him as she kept crying desperately.
“Leah, please! Let me take you to Bruce, he might be able to help you.” He tried to help her up.
Leah fought his attempt to pick her up with furious strength only to drop herself seconds later next to the toilet crying uncontrollably.
Loki looked at her with despair, she needed help but she wouldn´t allow him to touch her. He could try to force her but he was afraid she might hurt herself struggling against him. He couldn´t leave her alone to get help either. Teleporting her in that state might be dangerous; he just hoped there was still someone in the dining room, she didn’t had time for him to look for them all over the Mansion. With a frustrated grunt he closed his eyes as he chanted some magic words; in the dining room an astral projection appeared before Thor who was still dining animatedly. “Thor! Bring Bruce, she needs help. Hurry!”
Thor sprang out of the diner room, more than Loki´s words the anguished reflected both in his voice and his face conveyed the urgency of his plea.
In less than three minutes Thor, Bruce and tony busted into Loki´s and Leah´s room.
“Loki!” Thor shouted.
“Over here!” Loki replied, he had never felt more useless; when he returned to his body he had come back to a heart-breaking scene. Leah had curled in the floor, he could see her shaking as she kept crying her heart out.
“Shit!” Tony exclaimed, he had never seen her in such a bad state before, none of them had.
“Leah?” Bruce knelt by her side, she was having an anxiety attack, a very bad one. “Leah, you need help” He slowly told her, if she didn´t collaborated with him he might have to sedate her. “I need to touch you, is that ok?”
Leah agreed with a whimper.
Bruce carefully brushed the hair out of her face before softly pulling her up, he could feel her shaking badly. He could hear her starting to gasp for air; he held Leah´s face between his hands and looked right into her eyes, she was beyond panic; he needed to pull her back. “Leah, you are having a panic attack, remember what I told you? I need you to help me, try taking deep breaths.”
“A panic what?” Loki inquired apprehensive.
“Tony, could you explain him? I need to concentrate here.” Bruce answered quickly.
“But …” Loki wanted to ask a million questions; starting with why he wasn´t giving her any medicine.
Leah kept becoming distracted every time Loki spoke taking her eyes from Bruce as her breathing kept becoming shallower.
“And take him out of here! We need her to calm down.” Bruce spat annoyed by the interruptions. “Leah, come on focus, you can do it! I don’t want to sedate you, but you need to calm down.”
“Come Loki, let the Doctor do his job, she will be all right.” Tony volunteered while leading Loki out of the bathroom followed by Thor.
As they both explained Loki what was a panic attack, the causes, the symptoms and the basic of what to do and what not to Loki sat heavily in the bed. If only he had knew all that moments before, he had told her all the wrong things. How was he supposed to know that telling Leah everything was all right would push her over the edge?
“What happened?” Thor inquired.
As Loki recounted them what had happened Tony snapped furiously. “You just had to drop that bomb on her right now, didn´t you? She was barely holding herself together. Now look what you have done!”
“It wasn´t my intention! I didn´t knew this was going to happen!” Loki defended himself.
Thor had to intervene pulling them apart. “Stop that this instant! You fighting each other won´t help her!”
“He started it!” Tony spat still enraged. “Why couldn´t you just wait?”
“Because I didn´t knew if Fury´s offer would expire, I had to find out what he wanted. She can´t live as a prisoner for the rest of her life; always looking over her shoulder. She doesn´t think I’ve noticed, but I see it every day, at first it was little things, unharmful comments but now she´s giving up.” His voice broke at that point.
Tony looked up at him concerned “What do you mean she´s giving up?”
“I told her some days ago she was an arrogant child who didn´t knew her place; when I came back tonight I tried to apologize and she said that I shouldn´t apologize because I was right. She would never taken that kind of crap from me before, she would´ve never let me see the end of it, and she just took it, that´s something she wouldn´t do … I´m losing her. Thor I can´t lose her.” He turned to Thor anguished. “She doesn´t even know how much I need her, I really can´t lose her.” He looked at the verge of tears.
“I know.” A small voice answered his desperate claim.
They turned around to see Bruce helping Leah to the bed, he had finally managed to calm her down.
“Leah, are you all right?” Loki hurried to her.
“I´m sorry.” She answered. “I´m not” She sighed. “I can´t stop it.”
“Yes, you can.” Bruce intervened. “You just need some help, and for the moment I think you need some rest. Loki could I talk to you for a moment? Tony, Thor; could you keep Leah accompanied for a moment?”
“Sure.” Tony answered as he approached Leah and help her sat on the bed. “Come on love, let´s get you comfy, all right?”
“Ok.” Leah agreed weakly, she felt totally drained.
As Bruce and Loki walked out of the room the dark haired god turned and asked. “Is she going to be all right?”
“I hope so Loki, the mind is a complicated thing, but if you add your upcoming departure to what happened with Doom and the fact that she´s barely given birth a week ago …”
“I know, it´s too much; maybe I should´ve waited.” Loki admonished himself mentally, why had he been in such a hurry?
“I don´t know if that would´ve made a difference. If it gives you any comfort I think that you were right to go to Fury, she can´t keep being locked up neither here nor in the Tower whether she realizes it or not it´s not good for her. But I´m afraid she´s going to need your help to get through this. A moment ago I had to threaten her with sedation if she couldn´t calm herself down, do you know what she said?”
Loki nodded negatively.
“She begged me not to do it because she feared you would be gone by the time she woke up.” Bruce regretfully told him. “She´s terrified about the fact you might leave and not return; and I really can´t blame her, unintentionally we´ve all reinforced the idea that neither her nor Eerika would be safe outside. She wouldn´t be able to follow you out of fear of endangering your daughter, in her own mind she is already trapped here, that´s why it´s so easy for her to accept remaining here.”
“What do I do? I just want her to get better.” Loki asked anxiously.
“I´m not even sure Loki, psychiatry isn´t really my area. She needs therapy but unfortunately I´m afraid we can´t provide it, at least not like she needs it right now. Unless …” Bruce stopped while considering his next words.
“Unless what?” Loki pressed for an answer.
“Unless you are willing to ask Fury to lend us a therapist” As he looked the surprise in Loki´s face he added. “I know, we wouldn´t be sure if we could trust him or her and there´s no guarantee Leah would accept anyway. Maybe we should try to sort this out by ourselves.” Loki had remained pensive considering their options, none of them appeared particularly helpful or hopeful. “Either way” Bruce continued. “You´re going to need to be very patient with her; even with her healing factor it might take her a day to get back to … let´s say normal. It´s not unusual that after a panic attack as bad as the one she just had that there´s some physical consequences; she might feel weak, tired, lightheaded but I´m more worried about her getting depressed. If she gets any worse I´ll have to medicate her.”
“Why not do it know?” Loki inquired, wouldn´t it be simpler?
“Two reasons, the first is that the solution may be as bad as the attacks itself because of the side-effects but most importantly is that if I gave her something she wouldn´t be able to breastfeed Eerika. And Loki, she needs that connection if we take that away from her we might be pushing her over the edge.” Bruce explained.
“This is all my fault; if I hadn´t saved her that day.” Loki felt overwhelmed, he had only brought trouble to her life.
“She would be dead Loki.” Bruce reminded him. “I know that if you could somehow spare her from suffering you would, we all would in a heartbeat. But sometimes life isn´t fair and we just need to accept it, make our peace with it and move on. She needs you to be strong for her; remind her why she needs to get better.”
“Will you take care of her when I leave?” Loki asked, fear was written in his eyes, fear of losing her.
“We all will.” Bruce reassured him. “Just make sure to return in one peace. And afterwards if everything is all right you might want to consider taking her away on vacations. I´m sure Tony has a dessert island on his name somewhere.”
“I wouldn´t doubt it.” Loki answered with a small smile.
“Me neither.” Bruce smiled back. “Stop looking so serious, if she sees you that worried she´ll get even more scared.”
“I´ll do my best.” Loki grimaced, it wouldn´t be easy.
When they walked back they noticed Leah had fallen asleep over Tony´s lap who absentmindedly stroked her hair gently. Thor was sitting beside them looking worryingly at Leah.
“Ahem!” Loki cleared his throat trying to get their attention, they had all got very cozy on their bed.
Tony looked up to see Loki´s confused glare and told him amused. “Sorry Loki, I´m just keeping your place warm. She just fall asleep.”
“It´s all right, I know you care for her.” Loki acknowledged before adding. “But if you don´t mind I´m quite tired myself” He wasn´t but he longed to be alone with her.
“Of course.” Thor agreed as he got up followed by Tony who gently placed Leah´s head over a pillow.
“You´d better take care of her.” Tony told Loki with in a stern tone.
“I will, I promise.” Loki answered with an equal stern look.
As soon as they left he slid in bed next to her; after making sure he wouldn´t wake her up he embraced her making sure to rest her head against his chest, she had once told him that his heartbeat was the most comforting sound she had ever heard. Bruce suggestion lingered in his mind as he dreamt of white sandy beaches.