Who: Sif, Loki What: Truth or Dare. When: Immediately following shrinky dinky hijinx. Rating/Warning: Green
Loki lost track of how long he was falling through time and space, stuck in a loop where he was passing the same landmarks and solar systems. This being the second time that Strange enacted such a punishment, it was already old hat. Loki took out his phone, which was magically enhanced for inter-realm and cross-dimensional connectivity, made a brief call to Darcy, and promptly began trolling the Reddit political forums, picking fights for the fun of it. He screencapped a couple of his favorite retorts and, bored with that, started playing a puzzle game.
Valkyrie was still nowhere to be found, not locked in the same fall as he was. He assumed that she was speaking to Strange, so that all he would need do was wait for either her or Thor to free him.
He didn't expect a bright portal to open beneath him all of a sudden, and he fell through the high ceiling of their warehouse abode, letting out a yell that ended with an audible "oomph!" as his back hit the couch hard enough, that it sounded like some of the wood frame broke under the impact.
Propping himself up on his elbows, he flicked some of his hair back over his shoulders and glared up at the star-strewn portal as it snapped shut in a shower of golden sparks.
"Damnable sorcerer," he grumbled darkly up at the ceiling.
The Lady Sif it would seem was the only Asgardian home at the time of Loki’s emergence from the ceiling and subsequent landing on the couch, the very same couch that gave a distinct and not altogether baleful groan followed by a snap that caused her eyebrow to arch.
She was perched on a breakfast stool, elbows on the surface, and spoon full of Lucky Charms halfway to her mouth, hair loose and looking most un-Sif-like in her relaxed garb of an off the shoulder top and shorts with bare legs and feet. “I trust you have not hurt anything save of course the couch?” Sif inquired as she ate the Lucky Charms and crunched her way through them as she awaited a response from Loki.
There was an irate huff as he laid on the broken sofa, but the second that he heard Sif's voice, Loki froze in place and feeling very much as though his face was lit on fire. It wasn't his norm to act like a bumbling fool, tumbling from dimensional portals and breaking the furnishings. That was more Thor's realm of expertise, breaking things on accident (and sometimes on purpose).
Standing up, Loki made every attempt to gather the remaining shreds of his dignity while giving the offending couch a deft kicking at. He smoothed some wrinkles out of his suit sleeves and tossed his hair back over his shoulders. There. Now he looked presentable. Even if Sif was wearing...something infinitely more casual than her norm.
Loki tried not to stare. Loki failed miserably. His lips were parted as though about to say something, and he made a small noise that sounded suspiciously close to "I'm fine?" Anything further was cut off when a very small portal opened just above where Sif was sitting, and a small slip of parchment fluttered down, down, down, and landed next to Sif's elbow. On it, in impressively ornate calligraphy, was writ: Watch him.
That knocked Loki out of his oogling as he mumbled darkly, "...obnoxious Midgardian magician."
He strode into the kitchen area past Sif, head held high, grabbing a bowl and the box of Lucky Charms. Because if anyone needed some luck right now, it was him.
Sif continued to chew on her Lucky Charms as Loki huffed before he promptly got to his feet and began to put some order back into his currently disorderly appearance. Loki was after all an Asgardian who believed in being composed and presenting a tidy appearance regardless of the maelstrom going on in his head. The very same that was both frequent and neverending, he was very much a tornado of conflicting emotion and it was always hard to pin him down. Unless of course if like Sif you believed in taking the God quite literally by the ear.
And then her attention was caught by the small portal and subsequent note that did not at all beg for questions to be asked and answers to be given. She placed her spoon down for the moment and collected the parchment, reading over the words of what could only be advice or warning and once words were digested Sif’s gaze turned to the mischief maker himself.
“Why do I get the feeling that if I were to ask you why you were delivered through a portal I would not like the answer?”
"Well, I think that's rather subjective," was Loki's reply, as he nearly tipped the box upside down to get it to pour faster. He shook the box so that the cereal dust snowed down on top of everything. "Even more so when there was no actual wrong doing. That sorcerer is being unnecessarily dramatic."
In recognition of the pot calling the kettle black, Loki stuck his tongue out, picked at a four leaf clover marshmallow, and placed it upon the tip of his tongue as though it was the tear of the very last unicorn in the known universe. Which was ridiculous, because unicorns were all over Alfheim. Everyone knew that.
After flashing a playful smirk at Sif, Loki went to fetch the milk from the blessedly not possessed refrigerator.
Well that simply confirmed her suspicions. It wasn’t so much about what Loki said but rather he did not say. That much Sif had learned during her prolonged exposure to Odin’s youngest son. Thor was very much an open book (though less so these days which troubled her) whereas Loki was all visage and speaking words which had very little meaning but superficially answered the question posed to him.
“Where have you been to deliver you in such an odd fashion?”
Sif was persistent, it was one of the many reasons she had succeeded at becoming a warrior when Asgard was not encouraging of her desire to wield a sword.
"A sorcerer's sanctum, where I was merely taking a look about. Out of curiosity, of course," Loki said, while hiding behind the open refrigerator door. Absolutely not a lie. When he came back to pour milk onto his cereal, his eyes were alight with glee and there was the ghost of a smile playing on his lips. "Is this the Midgardian game known as Truth or Dare? I gave you a truth. Is it my turn now?"
Loki was in a strangely playful mood which was a stark contrast to his mood for the last how many years, Sif had lost count, but she would not be the one to put a dampener on it. Not when it was nice to have this more playful and lighthearted Loki around, good memories of a time long since past.
“I was not aware that we were playing a game,” Sif returned as she ate a further spoonful of cereal. “But if you insist and seeing that you are in a good mood I do not wish to be the one to foul it.”
It wasn't that he left behind all his cares or concerns. It was that he felt he had gotten away with a grand scheme, and that was always an exhilarating feeling. He set the milk aside while thinking.
"Usually you must pick your poison, Lady Sif. A truth or a dare. You are honor bound no matter which you choose," he explained, and he wore the same sort of impish expression that Frigga once had when she meant to stir the pot a little bit, so to speak. He meant to fluster Sif, first and foremost - to get her off any thoughts of his sneaking about - but to also inquire to what he long suspected to be the truth regarding her feelings toward his brother. Even despite any longing from afar that he once had for Sif, and that he still seemed to have, given the way he stared at her from time to time.
"Since I answered with a truth," he mused aloud, "I bid you do the same. Is there any under our roof that you are smitten with?"
Loki was not even entertaining the thought of losing at this game, as he took a bite of cereal and waited for her response.
Sif made a mental note of the fact that she needed to “pick her poison” as she had not been aware of that prior to agreeing to play this game. She stilled for a moment as he asked the question he did and she simply inhaled and exhaled, not entirely comfortable with voicing that particular sentiment aloud. Not when she had held it so close to her chest for so very long and honestly she was embarrassed that she had not got the message. Even Frigga had tried to speak to her of it and caution against holding on to feelings that were not returned though she had not listened. Should have, the Queen had been a very wise woman.
Stubborn though Sif was she could almost admit to folly when it was warranted and her unrequited feelings were most definitely that, but still, she was no better for that realisation.
“Well, I think that's rather subjective,” she replied evenly. “Depends on your definition of ‘smitten’.” She had answered the question without really answering it in a not at all similar fashion to Loki. “Your turn.”
Loki blinked a few times and swallowed that bite of cereal, before he stirred the spoon around there, looking for all extensive purposes as though he really was tending a brewing cauldron of chaos and trickery. And while he had omitted some details, his answer was truthful.
"Oh no, I answered you. Yours was no answer," Loki said, walking around the counter and sliding the bowl along with him, so he could sit on a stool at her side. There was a hint of a smile on his face as he turned to face her, propping an elbow on the counter's edge so that he might lean forward toward her upon it. "You are new to this game, so I will give you another chance, before a dare. You would know that I mean smitten as though infatuated. Surely on these long and lonely nights, your thoughts have strayed to one of those who resides in our home. Is it who I think it is?"
He dared to lean in even more, his voice dropping down to a conspiratorial and soothingly sweet whisper, "Your secret will be safe with me, dear Sif."
Sif watched Loki closely as he approached and made himself comfortable at her side. There were many things she could say but she chose not to. They would be hurtful and unfair, especially as times had changed and some truths were no longer as true or visceral as they had been once.
“I am sure there is a difference between smitten and infatuated,” Sif responded evenly. “But fine, you are correct.” And that was all she was willing to say on the matter especially as said matter was a painful one, one that did nothing for her pride nor her sense of dignity.
She turned her gaze to Loki. “And should I find that my secret has left those lips of yours you will find yourself divested of them. Am I clear?”
"Of course," agreed Loki, expectantly. As much as it would be a subtle stab to the gut when she confirmed his long standing suspicions, he looked ready to slip right off the edge of his seat and bump right into her. Even though he forever remained sullenly silent about his every stolen glance in Sif's direction, it would long confirm his mother's thoughts and the Allfather's hopes. "I promise. Absolutely. Divest me of my lips."
“I will hold you to that,” Sif reiterated as it never hurt to say something more than once to Loki. He had a very thick skull. “Glad we are… what is that saying, on the same page.” She finished up with her bowl of cereal and rested her spoon in it before she exhaled. “Truth or dare?”
Thick skulls were a brotherly trait, even if it wasn't biological.
"Oh, for me or for you? I am in a gaming mood, so a dare I suppose. Although you still did not answer the question posed to you," Loki pointed out, sitting upright and looking exasperated. He kept his elbow on the countertop, but leaned enough that he could put his chin in the palm of his hand, while warily watching her.
Sif worried her lower lip for a moment as she considered what she could possibly dare him to do. “I dare you to-” She flexed her hands, leaned back, and then turned to better face him so she could lock him into her gaze, “to tell me the truth as to what you were doing at Dr Strange’s place?”
It was both a truth and dare wrapped up into one neat package.
Loki's eyes narrowed but a slow smile pulled at the corners of his mouth, until he resembled the cat that got the cream. And a canary before that. The cream was to wash the feather's down.
"Looking out of sheer curiosity. Nothing dastardly or dire was done." He lightly drummed his fingertips against his own cheek as though contemplating his next move, and leaving all mention of the Valkyrie out of his (mis)deeds. "Since you mixed a truth and a dare together, which is cheating by the by? I get to choose the next move. I dare you...to ask my brother on a Midgardian date. Wearing that lovely dress which you donned for Sam's party. If you refuse? Then you will owe me a favor to be carried out at the time of my choosing.
"Do you accept this challenge, or will you admit defeat and declare me the winner?" And then Loki smiled as he watched her closely, as though he just caught sight of an entire flock of canaries landing next to a creamery.
“Are you intent on having me embarrass myself?” Sif challenged with a lift of her eyebrow. “Do you mean to enjoy yourself as I make a fool out of myself?” She was not happy with the dare, especially when in Sif’s mind there were no reciprocated feelings as Thor had made his stance on her very clear.
It would be clear to see that he was treading on very thin ice at this particular juncture in the conversation.
If it was thin ice, then Loki was putting his skates on to see how far he could go. This wasn't only a distraction, but trickery for a worthy cause. He felt sure even his mother would approve, if she were alive and able to. It was a dark thought that he pushed aside for the time being. There was mischief to make.
"How so do you believe I would be making a fool of you?" he replied, eyes half open which didn't help that he resembled a contented feline even more. "I daresay that my intent is not embarrassment. Far from it, indeed."
“Need I point out the many dalliances and most recent excursion with the one called Jane Foster?” That one had been far more serious than Thor’s bedding of fawning Asgardian ladies after, before and sometimes during their crusades.
She then paused, narrowed her eyes, and not a moment too soon she had a hold of Loki’s ear in an awfully familiar grip and was leaning in to fix the normally squirrelly Loki in her intense gaze.
“Pray tell why so invested?”
"Ow ow ow ow ow," Loki chanted, letting out a low hiss at the ear pinch. He squinted one eye shut and actually looked like he was sorry for infringing. He wasn't entirely, and this reminded him of the tussling that the trio had engaged in when younger, and when Loki - as the youngest of their number - had become particularly pesky.
It was a good way to loosen his tongue. Loki possessed the tendency to try to fast talk his way out of situations, when threats of violence upon his person were imminent. Such as hammers to the face or chest, or wondering if his ear was about to be ripped off by an angry shieldmaiden.
"I concede! Because Thor is not the same as he once was, and Asgard will need a capable Queen, with more than a fair amount of common sense," he blurted out, almost coming off the stool. "I think you underestimate how he views you now? Or how the rest of us might have looked upon you with favor, for that matter. I was long fond of you and said naught, but that time has passed and we are few in number. You and Thor are right for one another, as friends you have a long history to draw from and build upon. The All-father and All-mother always approved of such a union. As do I. Is there harm in that? I think not! Now unhand my ear, if you'd be so kind?"
Sif’s grip did not lessen nor release until Loki had readily confessed his motivation for his sudden interest in her and Thor’s lovelife. Of course she had not been expecting such an abundance of honesty and her releasing of his ear was more from surprise than a conscious desire to loosen it.
Well that had all been… enlightening, especially the part about Thor, Loki, and the fact both the All-father and All-mother had approved of hers and Thor’s union though it had not always seemed like it was meant to be.
She did not know how to process all of that.
Rubbing at his ear with one hand, Loki settled his rear back down on the stool and was staring at Sif with a mildly peevish expression. It certainly wasn't a major revelation by his estimate, but it wasn't exactly comfortable to admit such things. Past or present, either way. And once said, there was no taking it back.
Even so, he noted her silence and then gently suggested, "Honestly, this can not be too shocking a surprise? That you were fond of him was apparent. Mother hinted at it often. Odin never disapproved. Only Thor, who was a reckless and distracted fool at the time, was blind to it. That is no longer so. He is much changed, as are we all. There is nothing to hinder either of you, any longer."
It might not have been a major revelation by Loki’s estimate but it was in Sif’s. Not that it mattered as Loki had Darcy and Thor, well, he had much larger concerns and pressing issues to contend with.
She was however rightly embarrassed that her affections had been so apparent and so obvious. The All-Mother had made no secret of her knowledge but Sif had hoped she had kept it secret enough so nobody outside of her would know. Hopefully Thor was blissfully unaware or that could be (regardless of Loki’s assurances) mortifying beyond all reasonable belief.
“I believe the game is over,” Sif remarked as she gathered her empty bowl and padded barefoot over to the sink to wash it clean. “And I will take your words under advisement.”
Loki was cautiously watching every move that Sif made, and not bothering to hide it. That didn't mean that that there wasn't an opportunity to pluck at a shred of humor when it presented itself. Cautious or not.
"It might well be a first if any took my advice," and there was self-deprecating humor when he said it. He stirred his now soggy cereal and deemed it a lost cause, as was the game which backfired in his face. He knew that such a suggestion might also hint that she had to give up one thing for another, laying down her sword or whatnot. He let the spoon clatter back into the bowl, deciding for once to make sure he wasn't sowing seeds of discord. Not in this, at least.
"I meant no disrespect, Sif," he started to say, words chosen with the same measure of caution that he was watching her with. "You are one of the finest warriors in Asgard, and have earned that by right on your own. You need not feel you would trade a sword for a crown, when you can have both. After all that was lost and needs rebuilt, after so long waiting and wanting...is it so wrong to seek out some measure of happiness for ourselves?"
Sif was at the sink when Loki took to watching and speaking to her again, her bowl discarded to one side and her hands curled there. She did not wish to lay down her sword especially as she had fought and clawed her way to earn the place she had once held in the Asgardian court.
“Not wrong,” she agreed, “though I am not sure now is the right time.” Then again, would there ever be the “right” time?
She exhaled a breath and turned to once again face Loki, a hand pulling her hair back and catching around the back of her neck. “And what of Jane Foster? She is once again present in his life and I recall a rather vivid moment of being overlooked for her.”
Sif did not wish to revisit such feelings ever again.
Loki considered her words for a moment, before shaking his head. The time might not be right, but at least a seed of good intention for Thor and Sif had been planted. Now? To nurture it.
"Perhaps not the right time," he conceded. "But from what I've gathered and I've seen? Thor has moved well beyond the point when he and Jane Foster have parted ways. It is a matter that is in his past. Likely best left there, for the good of Asgard. He is a king now and no doubt knows he must take that into account. He has not the freedom nor luxury that you or I have in regards to such matters. It will weigh heavily upon him and up to us to help him weather such a burden."
Although it might not seem that way, Loki was no stranger to responsibility. Of his own choosing, of course. He hadn't marched Asgard off to battle or started any wars, but in many other regards, it had prospered under his watch. Plus or minus a golden statue and some finely written plays. Plus. Definitely not minus.
And now Loki had an almost wistful expression as he stared back at Sif. That had been a very fine statue of himself. He sighed morosely. Maybe someday - if they didn't all die horribly - he would commission another. Bigger and shinier than before.
Sif noticed the look on Loki’s face and briefly entertained the thought of asking him about it but refrained, she had a feeling she might not like the answer.
“I will consider your words, carefully,” Sif began cautiously. And perhaps when the time was better she might speak of them to Thor but she had her own issues to overcome.
The least of those issues being one Jane Foster.
Loki was in the midst of mourning over the now long lost commemorative gold platters that were handed out on the first anniversary of his so-called death. He seemed to blink himself back into the present and made a soft 'ahh' noise, nodding his head and smiling at Sif.
"Thank you," he replied, appreciatively. Not all mischief was for ill-intent, after all. In this, he hoped it would do them good, and it troubled him to see Sif and his brother hiding in their respective corners when they were once so much closer, or when they could be seeking comfort in one another.
As he stood up, he magicked the bowl clean and into the dishwasher, so no one had to deal with his mess. For once.
"I will take my leave. I bid you a good day, Lady Sif," he said while departing, for there was work to do with that compass that would take a day or two to finish.