After a couple of hours of backseat driver commentary through Far Cry 5 with Darcy, Loki was in one of the common areas. He was seated on a large couch with a mug in one hand. There were faint shadows under his eyes, and his cheekbones seemed a little sharper in contrast than they were last week. That was despite the sheer amount of food he had taken in, which in and of itself was mind boggling. Every single pop-tart was gone. All of the mac and cheese had been demolished. Every pint of ice cream. He cooked chicken and fish and everything else he could think of. Darcy was constantly putting food under his nose that he devoured instantly, without thought. It did not make a dent. Just as same as how he randomly nodded off to sleep and it didn't make an ounce of difference with feeling rested afterward.
It would take another day to recover from days of trying to forcibly weave magic into a very durable, very old Asgardian with significant internal damage, messier and more extensive than a clean cut if impaled with a sharp blade. It was more power over a longer term than it was to force open a path, although he was getting better at that. That wasn't healing. Although the magical fount quickly filled up again, it wasn't some bottomless spring that he could draw from. He doubted even the Midgardian sorcerer known as Strange could do anything without some considerable strain on his inner reserves.
Loki felt that strain after the first day. And now that it was over and Valkyrie was declared fit enough to move around, he was ready for rest and relaxation. Darcy was off gathering some of her things to stay the night, and Loki was eagerly awaiting her return. There was more to this fifth tale of Far Cry that he wished to see, and it helped to keep his mind off other darker matters...like the Tesseract, that the daughter of Thanos was on Earth, and some expertly woven white lies. All he needed to do, was to stay awake to see it.
He stifled a yawn and took a long drink of incredibly strong coffee, cupping it in both hands and staring straight forward at the television, which he wasn't even really paying attention to.
Thor was pleased that Valkyrie had been healing well. He had been incredibly concerned for her wellbeing when he'd heard she had been injured, more-so when Loki had touched base with him and said that the wounds had been grievous. He knew she was better - from her attempted resignation - but still it had been refreshing to see her for himself, to know for sure that she was still with him and not headed off to join their ancestors and other great warriors of their past.
His concern then turned to his brother who would have no qualms in running himself ragged to help his fellow Asgardians - what was left of their once vast realm - but would play off the exhaustion unless he could garner some kind of benefit from it.
As it was, when Thor headed upstairs and saw Loki yawning hugely with a large cup of what smelled like coffee in his hands and vacant stare fixed on a point somewhere through the television, he felt himself smiling a little. Loki was a better man than he gave himself credit for, he was capable of being so much more than he boxed himself into; he was able to be a man that would have made their father proud if only he were able to see it. He often wondered what it was that had torn Loki away from thinking of himself as a Prince of Asgard and brother to Thor. He knew that he had not taken well to the decision for Thor to be Odin's successor and at the time - looking back with the benefit of hindsight - Thor was not the best choice either. But he had grown, he had changed. Now, Thor hoped he was deserving of the role thrust upon him rather than yearning for it, rather than feeling as if it was his by birth therefore he deserved it.
"I cannot imagine," he said, breaking his ponderous silence, "that you are entirely interested in what ruling this Judge Judith is making for that woman who claimed her spouse stole her cat and shaved it in revenge for selling his gaming console..."
There were innumerable reasons why Loki still thought or felt the things that he did. A lot of it was still mixed up in a tangled pack of lies, anger, and self-loathing that had been kicked into a cauldron of resentment to fester and boil. Loki was good lying to himself as he was to everyone else, so he was able to maintain a facade until whatever turbulent emotion happened to shatter right through it. And after ruling Asgard, sitting on the Tesseract and other relics in the vault, sending the Aether away, and then indulging his whims too much when he wasn't listening to nobles drone on during those council meetings...Loki had a taste of ruling.
He wasn't bad at it.
He wasn't good at it either.
It seemed as though he was doomed to be stuck in a limbo between things, always second best, always ending up with little to show for it. This rankled less than it did, before. With Odin's last words and passing, Loki felt as though that cauldron was finally simmering down. And even he didn't know what to make of the wreckage left behind him, including what led up to Asgard's destruction. A sick and twisted part of him felt liberated and carefree, as it was everything that he was taught not to be. The other half of himself was appalled at his behavior, over how it must have looked to his family, and to Frigga in particular. It was a perversion of every magical gift she taught him. It was what kept him coming back to help Thor and Asgard, whenever it seemed like Loki was leaving some parting dagger lodged in their collective backs. Right between their shoulder blades.
Despite any inner conflict, Loki managed a small smile at the sound of Thor's voice, and at that observation.
"Judge Judith harshly enforces Midgard's laws. The woman before this was accusing a former housemate of assaulting her by throwing Tupperware. Whatsoever that might be," Loki said, before taking a leisurely sip of coffee and peeking over at Thor. He was quiet for a moment before asking, "Have you finished guarding the beast?"
Thor chuckled, leaning his shoulder against the doorframe and folding his arms across his chest. "I believe tupperware is a form of kitchen storage. Leftovers are stored in it and placed in a freezer to be forgotten forever until it is no longer edible." If his time with Jane Foster had taught him anything, it was that tupperware was where food went to die. "I have not had it thrown at my head, though I do not think it would do much damage.”
He blew out a breath and lifted a shoulder. “Captain Rogers is visiting him right now,” he said, “There is no need to worry, the Lady Sif and I needed to take a small breather from being in the confined space. Plus, the Hulk is a fan of cartoons and I do not enjoy them quite as much as he does.” He needed a break from the bright colours and ridiculous voices.
“How are you faring?”
Loki looked pensive as he listened to his brother, turning his attention back to the television to hide any shifts in his normally aloof expression. Apparently his brother knew the purpose of Tupperware, which made it sound like a horrible thing that he never wished to encounter. He also wondered how Midgard thought it to be a form of assault when Tupperware was being thrown, if it was so lightweight. The woman had won her case, but much like listening to noblemen bickering and trying to hide copious amounts of eye rolling, Loki couldn't fathom the point of Midgardian law. Too complicated and strict for his tastes. Order a flogging or imprisonment and move on to other more important matters. Like deciding which lovely lady was going to feed Odin grapes while he watched theater.
He appeared to be watching the television with unwavering eyes, one side of his mouth twitching into a smirk at the thought of that simple-minded beast watching cartoons meant for children. He was amused by that, but it was gone in an instant, and there was a split second of a tempestuous glower as Loki asked himself how he was faring. Very well in some areas...and decidedly unwell in others.
"I'm well, thank you," was the smooth reply, his voice so calm and even in tone and measure, that he wanted to give himself applause for such a fine performance. He even attempted a joke, to take any attention off of him and place it back on Thor. "I doubt your being in a confined space with Sif would ever be considered a chore."
Thor chuckled again, deciding to let Loki’s comment about being ‘fine’ slide for now. After all, he could see that his brother was tired, knew from experience how much energy it took to complete healing activities. He had seen the strain on his brother when Loki had healed his wounds and they had not been as grievous as the ones that had been inflicted upon Valkyrie.
“It is not,” he said with a smile, “but the circumstances under which we are together are unfortunate. After all, Banner is my friend, and so is the Hulk.” Beat. “I think. He stopped punching me after our fight in the arena.” That was a win, in his book.
He did not move further into the room, unsure of his welcome at that moment. Loki’s mercurial moods, even after a thousand years of navigation, were still impossible waters for Thor to chart though he did his best. He had the best intentions, it just did not always work in his favour.
“You are welcome to take my place for a time, if you would like to spend a few hours in her company.” But Loki apparently was courting Darcy, a coupling that Thor could not quite understand nor get his head around, but he supposed as long as it did not interfere with Loki’s duties to Asgard - to their people, whenever they arrived - then he was content to let it continue. Though humans had such a short lifespan and his own relationship with Jane Foster was not one to emulate. He was hopeful that Loki would do better, but he had a nagging uncertainty that it may not be the case.
"Is there a point where your friend ever wants to stop punching? Whether it be in an arena or without?"
Loki tried to keep his tone mild. But at the mention of spending time with Sif, his jaw clenched and his mercurial mood shifted into a brooding expression just before he covered it up. It was a good thing that he was facing the television, somewhat hidden from Thor's view. It was smoothed over, completely gone, in an instant. All too easy when he reminded himself he would spend time with Sif when they were relic hunting, and that was enough companionship between them. Without Sif trying to take his head off if he blinked the wrong way, of course.
Mentioning Darcy would have been an entirely other matter, but the subject was never approached. Needless to say, Loki has plans. Because Loki always has plans.
"I think she prefers your company. The same as ever," was Loki's reply, sounding a little too light and airy. "Far be it for me to intrude, brother. Nor to keep you from your tasks, if you've no wish to sit down."
Plus it might infringe on his planned jaunt to another realm entirely. Which he could have easily done for Valkyrie, but he was coming back (for now) and Valkyrie had no intention to do so. This miserable realm Thor loved so much still needed defending, after all.
Thor may have been a great many things, but he did know when he was not wanted. The dismissive responses told him that if he wanted a conversation with his brother, now was not the time. Whatever Loki was to do with his time - be it something useful or merely staring vacantly into Judge Judith’s quite terrifying expression - he evidently wanted to be left alone to do it.
“I’m sure you’re very busy,” he merely said, pushing himself off the door frame. “I wanted to make sure that you were recovering from such extensive healing. And to say thank you for helping Valkyrie.” He cleared his throat, unfolded and then folded his arms again. “I appreciate it.”
He smiled a little at his brother and then backed out of the room, to head back to see Hulk and Sif, back to his temporary duty and leaving Loki to his thoughts.