|loki laufeyson (toberuled) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2013-03-14 23:23:00
|Entry tags:||loki, plot: switch, thor|
Who: Thor and Loki (with guest appearance by Damian)
What: Sampling pancakes and having a brotherly chat.
Where: Jimmy's Diner
When: During the Switch plot.
It had been the first thing to come to mind when Loki demanded something new, though it might have also had something to do with the low rumble in his belly, the one that signaled a need for sustenance. Since the day he had first learned of the place, Thor had returned whenever he was on this side to the diner with it's grumpy perfectionist behind the grill. The coffee was hot and as he'd previously told Loki, the pancakes were delicious.
His belly gave another rumble as he walked up to the building. As much as he preferred a horse, or something likewise large enough to ride, Benji had staunchly told him no. There would be no horses, no dogs large enough to ride, no anything large enough to ride and absolutely no allowing Thor behind the wheel of a car. After a short lived discussion on the merits of public transportation, Thor opted for walking. It wasn't as if he was a stranger to his own two feet getting him anywhere, simply that it took more time.
Time that he had plenty of now. In Asgard he never seemed to have enough. There were always meetings, someone to hear, someone that needed his urgent attention on some matter, some feast to attend honoring someone's marriage or one of their warriors, or there was some problem on Midgard that he had to be there for. Here there was none of that, nothing beyond the simple existence of whatever he could find to fill the day. Most mornings he started out by walking here and ordering breakfast. Benji had helpfully supplied the number to his card so that Thor could withdraw whatever funds he needed and here was one of the few extravagances he indulged in.
He had not gone to an armorer and demanded new armor, but settled on something very close to what he had worn the first time. Jeans, a t-shirt, and one of those warm, soft shirts that he had grown fond of. Flannel, Ben supplied. All of them were freshly purchased, as it hadn't taken long to discover that however similar he and the mortal might be, if he wore one of Ben's shirts and breathed too hard, the rending of cloth soon followed.
Much like the ringing of the bell when he stepped into the diner, the chime sounding over his head. His long blond hair, still wet from the shower he'd taken, was pulled back into a small ponytail at the nape of his neck. Thor smiled at the waitresses that he knew, only garnering a half smile from one that looked a little less frazzled than the rest and took up his normal seat in the corner booth.
Damian, who spent almost every waking moment that he could at the diner, had a system for when Thor came in for breakfast. He liked routine and a challenge, which made serving a fellow fictional character something he almost looked forward to. The extra gallon coffee that needed to be brewed, the three plates of pancakes, the giant mountain of bacon, the half carton of scrambled eggs. All of it with that Damian Wayne perfection that seemed almost too efficient for a side of the road diner. It seemed as though assassin training could even go into something like making a really good breakfast.
Jimmy’s Diner had turned into some kind of semi-haven for lost Passages Alters. Even though the food was greasy, the waitresses were moody and the owner was a grumpy old man stuck in an eighteen year old’s body, this was a place you could go and not feel different. And, though it was a little less crowded than usual when Thor showed up, there were some usual customers of freaks and geeks to prove it. Damian glanced up from the grill he was standing behind and raised his hand in acknowledgement (why, it almost looked like a friendly wave) before walking out and greeting Thor at his table. “The usual?” He asked, all serious business.
Thor knew some of the customers well enough to nod a greeting to them, a clasp of hands on some occasions, a warm smile to accompany greetings and questions on how they were doing. It wasn't quite like home, nor quite like Puente Antiguo where he had made such fast friends, but it no longer felt like he was separated from everyone. He had never liked to be on the outside looking in and even if he wasn't the center of attentions, camaraderie was sorely valued, especially when he was so far from home.
The wave was met with a wider smile, his eyes crinkling as he returned the small gesture. Unlike the people sitting around the bar, he didn't come in with a newspaper and didn't bother to pick an abandoned one off a seat or a table. Instead he spent his time here watching the inhabitants, talking with the waitresses when they finally had time to sit down and on very rare occasion, speaking to the scowling younger man behind the grill. Thor was quite used to the expression, that pinch of his features, but a glower was not going to stop the son of Odin. He'd seen worse, especially from the other person that was supposed to join him. "Yes," he replied to the question. "But I do not know what Loki will want." Or if his brother would bother to eat at all.
Damian resembled the kind of warrior who was stern, serious and even constantly angry at something, but there was a kind of care behind it all. The mere fact that he took time to wave or come out behind the grill was proof he liked Thor, and maybe even that bright son of Odin smile earned a tiny smirk that barely traced the very edge of Damian’s mouth. “Loki.” Damian repeated after Thor and then gave a nod of recognition as he was at least familiar with the surface of Norse mythology. He knew Thor wouldn’t bring a fight into his diner, so the two were just going to talk? Have breakfast together? Like some kind of timeout between brotherly rivals. And, it made the the little bird wonder if there was someone he should try to do the same with while he was still in Vegas.
“Omelette.” Damian told Thor after a moment of writing on his notepad. Fancy guys always liked omelettes. “I’ll get it going.” He signalled one of the waitresses to bring them coffee and then vanished back into the kitchen.
Loki had not been one of the diner's frequent customers. On the contrary, he had never been inside one. In his stint without powers on Midgard, he had been forced to keep mostly to isolated, abandoned places, as the manacles he wore would have meant too many questions. And when he had been in Las Vegas last, he had been focused on causing mayhem, not soaking up the local color and enjoying Midgardian cultural conventions.
Once upon a time, he'd come to this world on a relatively regular basis to do just that, but his last visit was almost a hundred years before his current predicament in Las Vegas. What he knew of modern Midgardian culture he knew from the man in his head (who was currently shutting him out, which irritated him to no end) and, through his own door, his present mission to take the world as his own. Such goals did not exactly require visiting diners.
It didn't help much that food had never been anywhere near as interesting to Loki as it was to Thor. He had always been a light eater, often forgetting about it entirely for days at a time. While the others gorged themselves at feasts, it hardly seemed to matter how much or how little he ate. He remained whippishly thin, much to the amusement of those around him.
Even on Midgard, Loki had a knack for commanding attention, whether he intended to or not. Louis' clothes fit him fine, but he'd picked some out for himself, since he disliked the idea of sharing clothing with someone he had so much disdain for. He wore a long, dark coat despite the relative balminess of early spring in Las Vegas, and cut a tall, narrow silhouette with his dark hair winged down against the nape of his neck. He spotted Thor directly, and walked over to him. His face was difficult to read. Set, as if for war. But he had come willingly to the diner, and, after a moment's hesitation slid into the booth across from his brother.
He glanced around the diner at the other patrons before speaking to him. "I see the population of the hotel has decided to frequent this place," he observed. He carefully removed his coat. Beneath, he wore a button-down shirt - green - and black slacks. "How adorable."
It did not help, either, that Thor's attentions could often be diverted by Loki. Whenever he deigned to have his footsteps heard, Thor always knew which belonged to him and even when he was silent, Thor knew when his brother slid out of the shadows and to his side, rarely turning to look and instead accepting it as something that would always be. That had been the hardest thing to get used to with Loki's absence. No longer could he turn and find his brother there, those days were gone no matter how hard he chased them. Now there was only air and the memory of what once was.
And on some rare occasions, there was a return to the past, with Loki stealing his attention once more as his brother did when he entered the diner. Thor's gaze left Damian's retreating back to settle on him and unlike Loki, he was not at all hard to read. There was hope there, yes, and warmth in his smile and the crinkle of his eyes.
He did not ask Loki here for more fighting, even if his brother was braced for war, every line of his body displaying tension, a guardedness that Thor didn't expect out of him at the moment. Was Loki wrong for it? Both of Thor's hands settled on the table top, fingers splayed slightly and palms up to indicate that there was nothing within either that he hid. It was a truce, plainly offered.
"They have," Thor confirmed, his gaze leaving Loki to glance over the other patrons. "Some of us would prefer company to being alone."
Loki's hands did not rest within sight, on the tabletop, not immediately, but he catalogued those open palms with a quick glance and then seemed as if they'd passed completely beneath his notice. "I find that one's own company is the only sort one can rely on consistently to remain intelligent, entertaining, and true," he said. A waitress began moving swiftly by, and he grabbed the woman's attention with a thread of long fingers through her skirt. She seemed surprised - it wasn't exactly common for a customer to touch - and a little miffed, but he only faintly smiled and asked for a coffee in such a bland, misty way that she didn't seem to know whether or not to be offended. As she disappeared to fetch it, his expression reverted to its previous state, sharp and guarded as ever. "Have they brought along your requisite feast spread yet?" he asked. He knew what Thor's appetite was like. It would be shocking if the establishment had any food left to serve by the time he was finished.
Had it been Volstagg or even Fandral, the motion would not have been noticed. How often had they done the same at feasts, Thor included, or at some passing bar where the women were comely? Yet Thor could not recall any time that Loki had done the same. But, by the time he had some lass in his lap and they were into the depths of storytelling (each telling growing more wild than the previous ones) he had to admit that his attention was rarely on Loki. It was possible, yet it still had his eyebrows coming together for a moment before they smoothed again with Loki's order. "Here I thought you had only preference for tea." The smile that followed was not dimmed by the expression on the other man's face. "No, not yet. Damian," with the name he tilted his head towards the younger man behind the grill, "thought to make you an omelet." Thor did not know what it was, but he had enough trust in the cook that it would be edible and if Loki did not want it, he would sample it.
"Whatever they serve here in the guise of tea would hardly pass as such," Loki said. Brown water, most likely, with a side of cow's milk and sugar. Disgusting. At least the coffee would likely be halfway decent. The slide of fingers at the edge of the girl's hem had apparently meant very little to Loki, since he seemed already to have forgotten about it, just one of a thousand tiny ploys to play on and manipulate those around him. It had gotten her attention, hadn't it?
Loki leaned back and blinked. And omelet. "I have never had one," he declared. He smiled faintly. "What a delightfully mundane conversation this is," he said, turning on a dime, per usual, as if the conversation naturally followed the erratic flow of his thoughts. "How very human we seem, discussing our food and the surroundings of our meal."
The leap of Loki's thoughts made another small smile cross Thor's face. With all the things that had changed in the past years, even in the past few weeks, there were some things that would remain the same. "You wanted something different," Thor replied, his voice low. They weren't fighting and the normally acidic tongue he had come to expect from Loki was banked for the moment.
Even he knew better than to expect that the sharpness of it had dulled with their time here. "We could speak of Asgard and Jotunheim instead." Or Loki's insistence that he was lying. Or about that ill-fated trip to another universe where Loki had been king, jewels hanging around him, regal in frost-blue skin and blood colored eyes that held nothing of the green glint of madness, but a thirst that could not easily be quenched. He settled deeper into the seat, long legs spread out under the table, his knee accidentally knocking into Loki's as the waitress brought back a whole pot of fresh coffee, still steaming, and filled the small white cups that sat between them. "Midgard. How you find the desert."
Loki didn't yank his legs back when Thor nudged him, just stayed sitting upright, as if he hadn't noticed at all. Maybe he had, maybe he hadn't. Maybe he was used to years of feast days with Thor's broad legs knocking and kicking from under the table to get his attention when he was buried in a book instead of participating in conversation. "Let's not," he said, on the first offered topic of conversation, tone dropping briefly into truly frosty territory. He told himself that the other world they'd seen had been far from his thoughts. With so much else on his mind, why would he bother fretting over a theoretical present that would never come to be? He picked up his cup of coffee once the waitress disappeared again, sipping at it. It was sludge, as predicted, but strong sludge. "I despise it," he said, after Thor mentioned the desert, not missing a beat. "So much sun, so much heat. I don't know how they can stand it." He'd always liked colder climes. Asgard was balmy and comfortable so much of the year that he'd never known was it was to be blasted by cold or scorched by the sun until they'd begun their travels as youths, and he had always adapted faster than the others in the cold and slower in the sun. "I'm fond of Midgard, but not of their modes of transportation. Those 'cars'," he sniffed. "Roaring, smoky. It's as if they've never even seen a good horse." He knew full well that the horses on this world made the ones in Asgard look like hummingbirds, faster moving than the eye could follow, but still. They could have built a more elegant form of transportation, with so many resources at their disposal.
Thor well knew what that frosty tone meant, but not why. The why was not something he often looked at in his dealings with other Asgardians, readily accepting their honest natures, something he had oft done with his brother. The why was important, Ben was quick to tell him, and both light brows drew in together above his nose. No comment was made about it, not when the subject was moved to Midgard and the desert. It was sunny and hot, but Thor had a wider range that he could adjust to and the heat was not as bothersome to him as it was to Loki. "I don't think they have." he agreed. He had asked for a horse once, in the small New Mexico town, and there were none readily available. "I do not mind their cars, but their airplanes." If he was going to be in the air, it was with Mjolnir in his hand and under his own power. To be flying in one of those -- he'd hated it when Ben had flown from Tibet to Las Vegas, even if he was eager to arrive in the desert. "They are nauseating and you are crammed in like those fish in a tin." Sardines, Ben supplied. "They are like arrows loosed and I would rather be the archer than the arrow."
Loki wasn't aware that Thor had taken notice of the shift in his tone. If he had, he would have been impressed. He had long since begun to take it for granted that things not explicitly described to his brother were likely to pass beneath his notice, or be written off in the guise of letting things slide off his back without sticking.
Loki shrugged. "I have ridden in one," he said. "An impressive accomplishment for a people with no magic at their disposal, but hardly quick, riding in a rattling metal case through the sky." Thor's statement about being the archer, rather than the arrow, drew a faint smile. "Something, at last, we can agree on," he said.
He picked up his mug of coffee, warming his hands with it. "If we were never to return," Loki asked, "What would you do?" The question was stated lightly, as if this was not something they actually had to fear, as if it was not a very real possibility. His tone was casual, but there was something that glinted of curiosity in his eyes. It was hard to know whether it was this place, or just a general sense of exhaustion with constantly battling, but there was a little of the old Loki, there, just interested in the conversation, curious to hear what his brother had to say.
Most of the time, that was true -- Thor simply didn't notice. But Ben was in the back of his mind, wholly convinced that something was going on with Loki that Thor needed to pay attention to. Otherwise, the tone, the touch of the waitress, they all would have slid under his notice like so many other things. Subtlety was a lost art on Thor, who had all the delicate machinations of a brick thrown at one's head.
Just as the nuances of the light question escaped him, but not the almost conversational tone. Thor fell into it readily, welcoming it with a small smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes slightly. Not returning wasn't something he was worried about -- things had seemed much more dire when he was in Puente Antiguo and he was told his return would cause war with Jotunheim. For all that he believed in the old legends of Ragnarok, everything had come to a crashing standstill in that moment, but he felt none of that now. And if they could not return, he knew that through Ben he would not be shut out of home forever. "I hadn't considered it," he stated honestly as he reached for his own cup of coffee, not warming his hands around it as Loki did, but lifting it up for a hearty swallow. "Breed horses. Start a family. Travel to my birthplace." A cave that Ben had visited here, but Thor had not yet had the chance to. "You?"
Thor's visions of the future always seemed to involve a family - a wife, perhaps Sif, perhaps someone else. Happy children running about. There was, for him, a normal path to follow, leading to the throne, to heirs, to aging comfortably with those he loved around him. No such path existed for Loki. He did not walk on a path each day, toward a future he felt was definite. He knew what the prophecies said about him, and yet they seemed impossible, when even he could sometimes hardly predict his next step. There was comfort in chaos, defying fate. There was freedom there, but not comfort, not security, not family. A darker expression flickered across his face, and was gone again.
"I have no idea," Loki said. That was a confession in and of itself. Loki always had a plan, despite his professed devotion to the unpredictable. The flitting of his mind could not be tracked, but there remained an endgame in sight, generally. "I could write stories that would make them all quake. I could teach them theories in their sciences that would turn their world upside-down. I cannot know," he mused. "I would have to see what mood struck me first. And how generous I felt."
The admission that Loki did not have a plan brought Thor's gaze upwards to his face. Loki? Without a plan? If that were not so strange, Thor might have laughed at it. "You could do anything you wanted," he said quietly, the words unspoken that Loki had options aplenty, but for Thor, there were fewer. For him there would always be home, a family, friends, those things that he drew strength in. The path of being a king was one steeped in loneliness while being surrounded by thousands and Thor was never a solitary creature, drawing little pleasure in being alone. Even in his earliest memories, he was always searching out someone: Frigga, Odin, Loki, his friends, any sort of company that he could find and to be alone was associated with pain, a hurt so intense that it caused difficulty in breathing, like the first time he had brought rain to Asgard.
For Loki, if what he had written was true, the opposite held sway. Even Thor knew that his brother preferred solace, though he tried often enough to drag him into the group. "You would be skilled at whatever you chose," he added, giving the compliment freely as the waitress returned with the first plates, his loaded down with pancakes, bacon and eggs, and only a single, solitary omelet on Loki's plate. Thor reached for his fork and started to shovel half of what was on his dish onto the other.
Loki rolled his eyes as Thor tried to ply half of his own food on him. "I won't eat it all," he protested, investigating the egg concoction he'd been delivered on his own plate. Even half of Thor's portion was more than Loki's usual single portion for himself.
He took a bite of the omelet. It was hardly the ambrosia of gods, but the eggs were buttery and not overcooked. Acceptable, at the very least. "Anything is an overstatement," Loki said. It was self-deprecating in a way that Loki usually was not. Generally, his statements about himself veered into psychotic over-exaggeration, or deep self-loathing, one extreme or the other. To suggest a middle ground, where he was capable of some, but not all things, was a little odd. "I could learn almost any skill presented to me, yes. But to be skilled is not something I am capable of in every thing. Sport on this planet, for instance. I expect you would excel at it, though I doubt I would be much prized."
While he was getting better at detecting Loki's subtleties, the middle ground of his statement nearly passed him entirely. It hung, tickling at his brain while he did not know why. Always why, when it came to Loki, his understanding incomplete. "I think it would depend on the sport." Satisfied that he'd shared half of his portion with Loki, even if it was protested that he would not eat it all, Thor used the same fork to slice into the pancakes. It was far too large a slice for most and no doubt exceeded whatever decorum Midgard had, and yet it did not stop him from spearing three of the pancakes and shoving them into the abyss known as his mouth.
He did not know what pancakes were supposed to taste like, but these ones with butter melting between them tasted nothing short of light, sweet bliss. He'd had food across all nine realms, most delicacies and even a few meals that were nothing more than hearty fare, yet it seemed that Midgard had some of the best. Volstagg would enjoy them. Chewing slowly and swallowing hard, he snapped out of his miniature food orgasm to glance at the man across from him and noticed that a bite of the omelet was gone. "Good?" He asked as he sank his fork into the pancakes again, glad that another four plates of the delicious food were on their way.
Loki watched Thor's boundless enthusiasm for his pancakes with faint amusement and a hint of skepticism. Nothing so humble, just wheat flour and egg and cow's milk butter, could possibly be so good. Thor always seemed to find pleasure in the strangest of places, however. "Yes," he said, eying the massive portion Thor had alotted to his fork. And the omelet was just fine, so far as these things went. Thor's reaction reminded him a little of dinners when they were children, Thor attacking his meals with the zeal of a boy already made warrior, with a warrior's appetite and unwillingness to wait before shoving half the plate of food into his mouth at once. Something like a smile twitched at the corner of his mouth before disappearing. Those days were long gone, but they had been so much happier. Had he known then what he knew now...
But he hadn't, and there was no use speculating on what might have been. "How do things fare in Asgard?" he asked. "It has been some months since I last visited. Do the courts pay you all the obeisance owed a king, or do they await the Allfather's return?" Per usual, it was impossible to know if he was just curious, or if he had some other aim in digging for information. But his expression, while guarded, seemed interested, willing to listen. And, on some level, he did simply want to know. Even if it was a knife to the heart to hear how willingly and lovingly the subjects accepted his brother as their ruler, he wanted to hear it. One could only move forward knowing what lay ahead.
Loki smiles were rare things and that little twitch of a thing at the corner of his mouth reminded Thor of one. It could have been, once it might have been, no matter how hard his brother tried to keep it from turning into something raucous and wide. That was all it took to get one out of Thor, the blue of his eyes nearly disappearing as the crinkles at the corner forced them shut, lips wide and teeth showing. Maybe one day he'd get another smile out of his brother yet, and not one of those cruel, biting ones, but something that showed a pure, honest joy.
Even Kings of Asgard could dream.
His next bite was slower, less an act of shoving food into his mouth like a starving man and more like one that needed time to eat between sentences. "I have never required their obeisance." They were his peers, oft times men that had helped raised him and he had grown up on their stories of valor; their respect was needed far more than their deference. "I miss him," was all Thor said of their father (still theirs, not his, Odin had done far more in raising Loki than Laufey had). "And things are well. The people are happy." Before being cast out of Asgard, he had thought only of battles, of valor, of securing his place within Valhalla. Now Thor wanted to be a good king to his people. Another fork full of pancakes disappeared into his mouth, though he had the manners to finish chewing before he opened it again. "What of you? And Jotunheim?" Had Loki left that frozen realm?
Thor spoke of missing their father, and Loki huffed a laugh of scorn, but said nothing. What was there to miss, in the liar king, the crowned champion of human chess? What was there to mourn in his absence? "I am sure they are," Loki said, strangely mild. The people would be happy under his brother's rule. Such had it always been predicted. Thor was a golden king amongst the gods from birth, and the people had high hopes for his rule. Until his rashness and stupidity led them to ruin. As it must, one day. As it would.
"Jotunheim," Loki said, looking toward the window. The consolation kingdom, of savages, cold, and darkness, driving blizzards and a wicked people who had staked their claim in one of the least hospitable of the nine realms. "Is as it has always been. Its citizens are as happy as any people could be, trapped on a planet of ice in defeat, ruled by one they consider a whelp usurper." Loki shrugged. It seemed they had both fulfilled the expectations of them in their own ways. The people of Asgard had never been fond of him in the way they were for Thor, and he knew they must view the possibility that the crown might fall to him as a worrisome outcome. He canted his head to the side, thought a moment, and had another bite of his omelet. "They do seem to grow a little more used to me, however," he admitted, almost grudgingly. Whatever their feelings for him, the people of Jotunheim - his people, he thought, with a shudder - seemed to be reluctantly respecting him more the longer he ruled over them, kept them safe, comfortable, and better supplied than they had been in years.
Thor was not skilled at looking into the hearts of people, even less when it came to Loki, who could hide things from him at will and leave him none the wiser. And perhaps it was only because of the place they were speaking of, but Thor heard none of the warmth that he felt when speaking of Asgard or her people. There was that comment that seemed like it had dragged itself up and out of Loki's throat. The question and invitation hung on Thor's tongue, waiting for him to open his mouth wide enough to escape, but he shoved a fresh pile of pancakes inside.
Both pancakes and words were swallowed down, only for fresh words to take their place. "Are you happy?" He asked, blunt as the head of Mjolnir. "Are they not pleased to have the Casket back?" If Loki was content as King of Jotunheim, Thor would not continue to try and bring him home, though he was never going to believe that Loki belonged any place other than Asgard. But if his brother was happy? That was more important.
Loki picked at the omelet with his fork, much as he had when he was a small child and his equally small appetite prevented him from attacking his food with Thor's gusto. When Thor asked him whether he was happy, however, Loki looked up at him, incredulous. "Happy?" he asked, face turning from idle interest to surprise bordering on offense in a heartbeat. "Would I pursue my goals with such fixation if I were happy with my lot? Would I hate, as I do, if what I had was enough?" He narrowed his eyes. "Happy. How ridiculous. The ignorant are happy. I could bring the Jotunn ten thousand caskets and happiness would not enter into my life. Yes, they are pleased to have the casket back. It is one of the reasons they allow their egos to be soothed and follow me willingly. They believe I will lead them to glory." His expression was difficult to read, for the thousandth time. Scorn, perhaps, but also pain, mixed in with the tiniest amount of pride, which he tried sharply to suppress. The approval of a bastard people should never bring him pride, never joy. They were merely a stepping stone on the route to true power.
Loki speared a portion of the pancakes on his plate and took a bite, unceremoniously. "No, Thor," he said, as if speaking to a child, "I will not be happy. When I have the throne you warm for me now, I may then be, not happy, but satisfied. But I am fickle, and while I have little appetite for food," he said, resting his fork down on his plate with the point, and picking up his coat, "Within me yawns an appetite for chaos." He smiled, sharp and bright. "But you know that."
Not happy, as Thor expected, but they had traveled the road of this conversation many times and Thor knew what it meant when Loki picked up his coat. Something new. Thor gazed at his brother, mind not moving whip smart and wild as Loki's did, but along the same unerring, honest paths it always had. "I know it was not always so," Thor said calmly, as if Loki had not just threatened to take Asgard from him.
"I know you laughed and smiled once and if you did not feel true joy, you felt something close to it. There is more to life than being satisfied and if I thought you could be just and fair to Asgard and her people, I would gladly give you the throne and remain on the battlefield and have both of us be the happier for it." But Loki could not, or at least, not the Loki that stood before him. His eyes were not fire bright, but there was still that hard edge to his smile that spoke of a bitterness deeper than the cold between stars.
That Thor had even asked after his happiness at all seemed a strange thing to Loki. If he hadn't known better he might even think that Thor was taking his command to heart. But the implication that Loki did not have within him that which would be required to be fair and just to Asgard made him grow cold.
"Perhaps you are right," Loki said, getting to his feet. He looked down at his brother, green eyes inscrutable. "And perhaps you are wrong. But the longer you hold it away from me, the worse my punishment of its people is bound to be." Loki did not need Thor's charity. That punishment would be hard won, hard sought, and all the sweeter when it arrived for having fought it from his brother's hands with his mind and the sacrifice of blood. Loki thought it an almost laughable thing, that he sometimes seemed so much to reflect what his brother expected of him as a ruler and a man. Just as easily, he could turn that mirror away. That was the point of all this, in the end. To be his own, with no mark to be held against, no expectation that could capture him and hold him fast, no leash to hold him. "Complement your friend for me," he said. "It was a fine meal." And with that Loki went, feeling colder, and perhaps a little wearier, than before.