Bright white light hurt his eyes “Valhalla?” Loki mentally questioned himself while his unwounded eye adjusted to the fluorescent lights. Realizing his other eye wouldn´t open he sighed closing his eye again. “As if I were that lucky.” He wryly mocked himself before opening it again to scan his surroundings.
He was in the medical level for what he could see. His clothes had been replaced by a white hospital gown, his broken arm had been set right and plastered and his wounds taken care off. As he raised his uninjured arm to touch his wounded eye he noticed an IV strapped to it. Sighing he turn his head right and noticed Steve asleep by his side. He was sitting on a stool for what he could guess while his head and arms rested on the bed. Even asleep he had a worried frown on his face.
Loki sighed again, he hadn´t expected Tony to be by his side when he woke up; to say the truth he didn´t expected to wake up at all.
“Steve?” He called for him in a low tone.
A drowsy startled voice answered him back “Loki?” The frown disappeared into a relief smile. “You are awake.”
“I´m guessing thanks to you.” Loki dryly pointed out; although he had tried to hide it the bitterness in his tone betrayed his true feelings.
“I´m sorry.” Steve blurted out as he down casted his eyes ashamed.
“For…?” Loki asked intrigued by Steve’s demeanor.
“I should´ve …. I hesitated … I shouldn´t have … he broke your arm.” Steve raised his glistering eyes to meet Loki. “I´m sorry.”
Loki frowned confused while he studied Steve´s face. Why would he feel guilty? “It wasn´t your fault.” He finally told him.
“It is” Steve insisted. “I should´ve noticed sooner. I´m your leader, I´m supposed to take care of you all. Loki, I don´t understand. Why?” Steve looked extremely worried, tears threatening to pour out of his misty eyes.
“It´s not about my wounds.” Loki suddenly realized. He grunted displeased. How could he have forgotten? The glamour … it had faded away.”
“I´m not your responsibility.” Loki snapped angrily. “And if you are going to lecture me …”
“Stop it!” Steve raised his voice as he stood up. “I understand now you have a death wish and …” He bit his lower lip hard. “I stood in your way. And I will do it again, so you´d better …” He stared at him defiantly.
Loki interrupted him hissing vexed “You …. you arrogant mortal. You think you can stop me?” He tried to sit up but the effort lighted his body in pain.
Steve rushed to his side and help him lay down again as Loki coughed. “I´m sorry. I didn´t meant to upset you.” He sounded alarmed.
Loki sighed as his body was laid down carefully. Without the extra glamour he could notice just how thin he was. “Does he know?” He simply asked trying to sound uninterested.
“Tony? No. He … cut off communications, and … I really don´t know. I don´t think he has come back. Jarvis?” Steve asked feeling uncertain.
“Mr Stark is currently out of reach and he´s not monitoring the mansion.” Jarvis replied nonchalant.
“At least that´s something.” Loki replied somehow relieved.
Steve looked back at him confused. “He doesn´t? But how? Doesn´t he …?”
“It´s not of your business.” Loki snapped back cutting Steve’s´ questioning.
Steve´s fists turned white, he was squeezing them very hard trying to yell at Loki again. He closed his eyes as he mustered all the calmness he could as he asked: “Then why don´t you just heal yourself so I can stop being such a nuisance to you.” When he opened his eyes again Loki could see anger, but also pain, even sorrow. He felt guilty, Steve was trying to help him, he had saved his life and he was behaving like an ungrateful bastard.
“You should´ve let me die.” The words broke in his mouth. “You can´t help me, no one can.” Silent tears traced his injured features.
Steve felt his heart broke. What could´ve happened to make Loki feel that way? He was a powerful, skilled and resourceful man. What had happened to him?
“That won´t keep me from trying.” He replied with complete sincerity.
Loki looked warmly at him. “My sweet loyal Steve, sometimes I don´t know if that´s your biggest flaw or your best quality.”
“I hope it´s a quality.” Steve volunteered gingerly, before pleading. “Please, let me try to help you.”
“Don´t waste your time on me.” Was Loki´s response.
“Do you love him that much?” Steve asked feeling a knot in his stomach. “Enough to die for?” He fixated his blue eyes on him waiting for a response.
Loki stayed silent for a moment before surrendering his answer. “Yes.”
Steve couldn’t keep his composure after that, suddenly he made a muffled confession. “I want to hate him.”
“It´s not his fault.” Loki volunteered. “It was mine. I should’ve known better. A battle field is no place for love games. I was arrogant, careless … I distracted him. Then … what else could I’ve done? It was my fault he was unprepared. I had to save him. I didn´t thought …”
“But you saved him.” Steve acknowledged.
“Regardless the cost.” Loki agreed.
“I don´t understand.” Steve admitted. “You both seemed fine until that day. Maybe not the perfect couple, but a good one. And I know we all took it very hard when Doom captured and …” He swallowed hard, he hated saying it. “… tortured you.”
“He didn´t just … tortured me.” Loki confessed, he felt worn out, desperate. Maybe if Steve understood why maybe next time he would stay out of his way. “… he raped me.” The words burned like acid in his mouth, it was the first time he had said it out loud. Even his body rebelled in pain at his confession.
Steve gasped horrified; the knot on his stomach turned into a sharp pain. It didn´t made sense. “You never …”
“Said anything? I couldn´t … this is the first time I said it out loud.” He admitted laboriously.
“But … Tony. He knows, right?” He inquired anxiously, Loki seemed to be very good at hiding things.
“I assume that much, we never talked about it.” Loki confessed.
Steve felt totally baffled, how could they not talk about something like that?
Loki continued his story with complete disregard at Steve´s confusion. “He found me chained, naked, filthy, bleeding just where Doom left me after discarding me as if I were a broken toy. He freed me, dressed me up and took me back to you. He didn´t said a word, but; the hurt in his eyes as he cleaned me up. “He knew.”
“But he didn´t do anything … he should´ve help you. Say something. You were in pain.” Steve interrupted scandalized.
“So was he.” Loki sighed defeated. “I failed him, I wasn´t strong enough to defend myself. I allowed it to happen. I´m weak, unworthy….”
“Don´t you dare say that.” Steve scolded him. “You shielded Tony from the explosion, you saved his life. The damn thing knocked most of us down for a couple of minutes Doom could´ve taken any of us.”
“Too bad he had a grudge against me. I used to sleep with him Steve; I should´ve been more careful.” Loki huffed. “Changing sides on him over Tony. It was foolish of me not to anticipate his vengeance.” Loki admitted calmly.
Steve´s eyes widened appalled of Loki´s way to talk about the whole situation, so analytical.
“I tried to get over it, but I can´t.” Suddenly he looked right into Steve´s eyes. “I can´t sleep, I can´t eat, I can´t think, I can´t even be with tony any more. I can´t live like this anymore Steve, I just can´t.”
“Is that why?” Steve asked afraid of his answer.
Loki chuckled wryly. “I didn´t wanted any of you to know, not until it was too late at least. I still had my pride. You would be surprised how easily I deceived all of you.” What better way for the God of lies to depart than with a lie?
Steve nodded his head negatively in disbelief, he couldn´t understand how Loki had fooled them. According to Jarvis Loki was 44 pounds under his normal weight. “You couldn´t have fooled him … I mean, you sleep together.”
“We share a bed.” Loki confessed. “He never touched me again after that day, he tried, but he couldn´t hide the disgust in his eyes. Somewhere along the line we mad an unspoken understanding to maintain appearances. We tried to uphold that bargain, that until today.”
“What happened?” He asked inquisitive.
“Yesterday happened.” Loki answered as it was all the explanation it needed.
“The goblin?” Steve volunteered unsure.
“He threw a grenade at Tony. I tried to get him out of the way; I hoped to end it.”
“What?!” Steve gasped alarmed.
“Tony noticed. He got both of us out of harm’s way. That´s what started the fight. He wanted me to quit the team, to go back to Asgard. He went as far as to say I should´ve gone back to my books long ago, that I had no place in the battlefield … I couldn’t prove him wrong. Nevertheless, I tried to find my way out.”
Steve step back horrified, he really had tried to get Tony to kill him. He could play in his head the gruesome outcome if he hadn´t been in the mansion, Loki´s lifeless form on the floor …
“I told you all of this for a reason.” Loki interrupted his thoughts. “Help me end it. No one has to know … it can just be a lover´s quarrel gone wrong”
Steve felt like his heart threatening to break in his chest, his breathing grew swallow as blood drained out of his face. How could he ask him that? He had no right.
“Please Steve, it would be a better end than starving myself to death.” The sincerity of Loki´s plea frightened him more than anything.
“I can´t …” Steve mumbled in denial. “Please don´t ask me that.”
“You could just increase the painkillers …” Loki suggested plainly. “Let me go.”
Steve walked towards Loki´s bed timidly almost frightfully, he unavertable touched Loki´s fingertips with is as he leaned into the bed to tell him. “I´m sorry. He´s not worth it. I can´t.”
Loki broke down; it didn´t mattered he had confessed everything. He had done it for nothing. Steve wasn´t going to help him. Ignoring the pain he sat up as he screamed furiously at Steve. “So you are just going to stay there and watch me suffer? He´s gone! Don´t you understand? That was all the comfort I had left and know he is gone! I´m alone! Thor can´t help me! You can´t help me! No one can! He doesn´t love me anymore! And how could him? I´m worthless! I”
Steve couldn´t take it anymore, he had sworn to take the secret to his grave, for Loki´s sake, for Tony´s sake …. But it hurt too much.
Holding to Loki as if he was holding to dear life itself he tore the truth from his own lips as he allowed his withhold tears to flow unrestricted. “I love you. I know you´ll never love me back. And maybe I´m selfish but that´s the main reason why I can´t do it. Please, don´t make me. I love you.”
Loki was too stunned to react, after all he had told him … but Steve wasn´t lying. No one could fake such heartbroken sobs, not even him. Why hadn´t he noticed before?
For a couple of minutes they just stayed there in relative silence; the only sound was Steve trying to muffle down his own sobs. Suddenly Loki relaxed into Steve´s hug resting his head on the youngers man shoulder. He hadn´t been held that way since that fatidic day, it felt so comforting. For a moment he wished he could fade away into such a warm embrace. Steve froze as he felt Loki leaning into him; he felt scared, so scared.
“Your heart … does it always beast that fast?” Loki shamelessly asked. “It sounds like a scared rabbit.”
Steve tensed meaning to break their embrace.
“Not yet.” Loki protested immediately noticing Steve´s intentions.
Steve sighed deeply. “But ..”
“Shhh” Loki motioned him.
Another defeated sigh told Loki he had won. Steve decided to ignore all the arguments his brain was already working on. Whatever happens next at least I´ll have this. With that in mind he decided to risk it. Trembling nervously he turned his face towards Loki. “Loki …. I … I´ll understand if you say no, but I …” Loki looked up to find a flustered Steve fidgeting with his words. “I …” He could feel Steve´s heart beat raising again. He smirked. How could he not notice? He loathed himself for being cruel, but he longed for him so much. Knowingly he leaned into Steve´s kiss pretending it was Tony.
Steve was painfully aware of it but decided to ignore it. “It doesn´t matter.” He tried to convince himself.
But Steve wasn´t Tony, he was too sweet, too giving; he lacked the fire Tony´s kisses had.
Loki pulled apart apologetically. “I´m sorry. I shouldn´t have done that. You are not him.”
Steve casted his eyes down. “I shouldn´t have said anything; don´t apologize. I brought this upon myself. I just …” He sighed. “I don´t want you to go. “He looked up. “I would´ve made you happy if you could´ve found a way to accept me, I really would´ve tried.”
Loki smiled kindly at him, he knew he meant it. For a moment in his kiss he was tempted to let him. But that would only have prolonged his pain and viciously drag Steve along to his own personal hell.
“That fucking stupid selfish bastard doesn´t know how lucky he is.” Steve spat furiously.
Loki raised his eyebrows almost amused; Steve didn’t used to swear out loud.
“Yes, I can swear. I just don´t do it much.” Steve responded with irony. “Could you at least heal yourself so I can stop making a fool of myself?”
“I couldn´t even if I wanted to.” Loki confessed. “And I´m sorry Steve, but I don´t want to. My mind is made.”
“I wished you changed it.” Steve told him sorrowful.
“All I can promise is that it won’t happen under your watch. I´ve been cruel enough with you already. I could tell you I didn´t meant to, but it would be a lie.” Loki conceded almost ashamed, almost.
“I´ll just have to keep my eyes on you then.” Steve volunteered, afraid to give in into hope.
“Stop!” Loki reprimanded him. “You can´t fix this, let it go.”
Steve´s hopes crashed again.
“Can we just pretend everything is all right? For tonight? I could use some company.” Loki tried to smile. It didn’t matter what he did Steve’s heart would be broken; at least they could provide each other a measure of comfort, at least for a moment. “I could use a friend”
“I think I can do that.” Steve nodded sadly.