Loki caught her before she could fall far, moving beside her so he could hold her to him. The last of the tears leaked from the corners of her closed eyes and he carefully wiped them away. He knew their captor couldn’t be far so he needed to be quiet and he put up a barrier in the hope it would detract from the power he was about to call.
First he laid her carefully, head in his lap, and looked her over. How he could expect her forgiveness he didn’t know but healing her, doing as he promised, had to be a start. He unbound the belt from her wrist and sucked in a breath through his teeth as he saw the damage, the cloth she had bound it with peeling back skin that had been burnt; her arm swollen, blistered and misshapen. He had no doubt it was broken and could only imagine how much pain she must have been in, and yet she had carried on.
‘My beautiful, brave girl.’ He murmured as he sent healing energy through her, repairing the wrist first then onto her feet. Once all he could see was healed he paused long enough to put her in the armour he had the previous day, offering her protection, and a sword identical to the one he had had made for her back in the early days. She was healed and armed, he just had to return the magical energy she had used.
He bowed his head and pressed a soft kiss to her forehead, knowing it may be the last time he got to do so, then fed energy to her, feeling her breathing soften. She didn’t waken, nor had he expected her to immediately, but it shouldn’t be long. He settled back to wait, sending out an invisible doppelgänger of his own to scout the area, stroking her hair while guilt filled him.
It wasn’t long before Sigyn began to stir. Her hand came up to rub her eye then she opened them, finding herself laying with her head in Loki’s lap. She had a moment where she sighed, and everything was okay, but then the situation came back and she sat up quickly, moving away from him. She checked herself over as he watched her silently. Nothing hurt and she felt as though she could take on anything. Except him and how he made her feel.
‘Thank you.’ She said quietly.
He nodded. ‘The cloak over the area extends about ten miles further north, over forty miles behind us. We are nearer to the edge than the centre.’
‘Can’t you bring it down, now that you’re powered?’ She asked as she looked at the broken cuff on the floor. He actually hadn’t left her, he had done as he said, and her wrist felt so much better.
‘If I could find the source, however over such a wide area it is difficult to do so.’
‘How did you break your wrist?’ He asked again. If whoever had taken her had done this damage he would ensure they suffered before he killed them.
‘Doesn’t matter. Are we going?’
‘It matters to me.’
‘Are you trying to convince me of that, or you?’ She crawled towards the entrance but he rested his hand on her shoulder. She didn’t pull away and he saw that as progress, a small victory in itself.
‘I do care, pet. No matter what you think.’
‘That’s the most realistic nickname you’ve called me.’
He frowned at her. ‘Pet?’
‘Yeah. Something you adopted while it took your fancy.’ She finished the crawl out of the hole as he sighed. So much for progress.
She straightened up and looked around. The sun was higher in the sky now and she realised how thirsty she was, the metallic taste in her mouth unpleasant and rusty. If they were ten miles from help then she could manage, she would survive. If they found another stream or a river she would quench her thirst but she wouldn’t ask him for anything.
He came out of the hole behind her, standing close behind her to the right. ‘I’ve had a double checking the area, no one has passed this way. There seems to be no sign of your captor.’
‘Good. Because I can’t promise I won’t…’ she put her hands on her hips and found herself armed, but not with the kitchen knife, with a short sword identical to that she had in her previous life, down to the green stone in the hilt. ‘You armed me?’
‘Of course.’ He said simply. ‘We should head out.’
She nodded and held her arm out, suggesting he lead. Had it been another time he would have taken her hand, but it was no longer his, so he instead he went ahead of her, cutting a path through the densest part of the undergrowth. ‘If you have your power back is there not something else you can do?’
‘I would not wish to draw attention to us. We must do this the old fashioned way.’ He offered her his hand as he climbed onto a large moss covered boulder.
‘Fine.’ She said, ignoring his hand and climbing up beside him. He couldn’t help but smile slightly at her sheer stubbornness.
They walked for another hour before Loki stopped and called up a canteen of water, passing it to her first before he brought up two apples. She glared at him, holding the canteen and he gave her a patient look. ‘You will be unable to give me daggers if you pass out from dehydration. Please.’
She knew he was right, but hated the fact she had to rely on him for this. She opened the flask and took a sip before passing it towards him.
‘Take more, Sig. I can always refill it.’ She sighed and did as he suggested then exchanged the bottle for the apple he offered her. ‘Are you now not talking to me?’
‘I can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t start with fuck you.’ She admitted before taking a bite.
‘Fair enough.’ He shrugged. He couldn’t argue with her. He was rather ashamed of himself for the way he had treated her, even if he did have good intentions. ‘We are making good time, perhaps another hour and a half and we should reach the edge.’
‘And then Thor and co to the rescue, right?’
‘Then I can go home and never have to see you again?’
‘If that’s what you wish.’
‘That’s what you wish.’ She reminded him, walking ahead of him.
‘Sig, please.’ He caught her wrist but she wouldn’t face him.
‘Not until you listen to me.’
‘I did that. Not doing it again.’
‘I didn’t mean what I said, I just wanted to protect you, you have to know that. We were being watched and I couldn’t let this magic user see how much you mean to me, but I already had. Please, believe me, Sigyn.’
She turned, pulling out of his grip. ‘I’m Maia, you made me Sigyn, you made me think I was something I’m not, that I could be more. It was all lies, all of it. I’m a teacher, a pretty useless mutant and quite frankly a shitty judge of character. I should never have listened to you.’ She started walking the way they had been heading but he caught up with her, grabbing her upper arm, tighter this time so she couldn’t break his hold, turning her to face him.
‘You can’t believe that?’
‘You made me worthless, Loki. You made me question every decision I’ve made, every thought and feeling I’ve had. I don’t know what’s me, what’s Sigyn, if I can even trust my own judgement.’
‘I love you.’ He stated, as though it would help, but she sighed, her shoulders slumping.
‘I’m not the woman who needed to hear that any more. You’ve lied about so much I can’t tell whether you mean that, or that you meant what you said at the compound. I can’t trust myself and I sure as hell can’t trust you.’
‘Tell me what you need, love, tell me what to say to make this right?’
‘Let me go.’ She sobbed, her eyes brimming with tears.
‘He was never right for you.’ Another voice joined them and Loki spun towards it, keeping Sigyn at his back. The Loki with the shorter hair and black armour, came through the trees. ‘He never loved you like I did.’
‘Oh shit.’ Sigyn breathed, stepping to the side, realising why this Loki looked like he had hundreds of years before. ‘What did you do?’
‘What I had to.’
‘You were a fool then and you’re a fool now!’ She spat as her tears dried up in fear and anger.
‘You’re the fool! I changed, to give you what I thought you wanted. I left to become what you desire!’
‘Who is it?’ Loki asked quietly.
‘Theoric.’ She sighed. The illusion broke and before them stood the former Crimson Hawk, as tall as he had been but drawn, as though something had been taken from him, and she realised something probably had. If you had no natural talent for sorcery the only way to become good at it was to give something up, normally your health. ‘You’re an idiot, Theoric. I didn’t not love you because you didn’t have sorcery, I didn’t love you because you’re an arrogant asshole and I loved Loki!’
‘If not for him you would have seen how to love me!’ Theoric yelled. ‘You would have been mine, as you should have been!’
‘I would never have been yours, even if we were wed!’
‘You’re wrong.’ He walked towards them and Loki tensed, unsure what Theoric was now capable of. All the energies he had used in his attacks were very powerful and he didn’t want to put Sigyn at risk. ‘I almost had you, once before, on Niflheim. I would have taken you, convinced you, you would have been mine!’
‘Niflheim?’ They both chorused. They knew all too well what had happened at Niflheim.
‘You were never meant to be harmed, you were to be brought to me, we were to live out our days together as husband and wife.’
‘You killed me!’ She screamed, remembering the ambush as it flashed through her mind; the mysterious magical barrier that barred their path, the bandit attack, the fight, the pain, impaled, blackness. She shoved past Loki and made her way to Theoric before Loki could respond.
‘An accident!’ He held his hands out before him as Loki started towards Sigyn, hoping to stop her, but he found himself slammed against a tree, unable to move.
‘Sig, don’t let him bait you!’ He called.
‘You can shut up as well!’ She glanced back at him before turning her anger back on Theoric. ‘You have no idea what you did!’
‘I did wrong, I know.’ Theoric held his hands out before him. ‘You belonged with me, we were betrothed, we would have been happy.’
‘You didn’t love me.’ She stopped partway to him, not wanting to get closer. ‘You loved the idea of me. You said you didn’t care that I fought, but you did. You wanted a trophy wife, and part of that wasn’t just looks but that you could say you had tamed me. I never needed taming, I needed loving for who I was.’
‘No, that’s not true. I love you, Sigyn, for who you are.’
‘I’m not Sigyn anymore!’ She shouted and he actually flinched.
‘No, you’re not, you’re even better. When I realised who you were, that you had returned, I knew I had another chance, with a subdued you, someone who was the wife I wanted. You and I, we can make this work, I love you more than he ever could, I always have.’
Sigyn covered her face with her hands. This was too much to take in. Theoric had been responsible for not only her death because of some misguided notion of love, but that of her and Loki’s child. All she had ever wanted, gone, because of Theoric’s selfishness.
‘Sigyn!’ Loki yelled, trying to get her attention. He didn’t know if she was aware but Theoric was putting out magical coercion, trying to convince her to listen to him. She was just a Midgardian, she had none of the mental protection she had when she was Asgardian, and it would be far too easy for him to convince her to go with him, to keep her with him. ‘You know what he’s saying isn’t true, you know I love and loved you more than myself! Remember what he did, sunbeam!’
Theoric threw a hand towards Loki and power coursed through him. He grit his teeth as his muscles spasmed in pain, he had felt worse and learned that crying out helped no one, especially himself, and it certainly wouldn’t help Sigyn.
‘Stop it, Theoric! Don’t!’ She yelled and he turned to her, his eyes dark. ‘Just, don’t.’ She said quietly. ‘I’ll come with you, just let Loki go.’
‘He’ll come after you. He needs to die.’ Theoric’s eyes flickered from her to Loki and back again.
‘No, he won’t. He doesn’t want me. Without me, he’s free. He’s doing this to stay in Thor’s good books, nothing else.’
‘Sig, no!’ Loki yelled. She didn’t really believe that, she couldn’t? Theoric had to be putting suggestions in her mind.
‘Sorry, my love, but he has to die.’ Theoric walked past her, stalking towards Loki and her shoulders slumped. She didn’t care if Loki wanted her or not, but she loved him, she couldn’t let him die.
Everything seemed to slow as Loki watched Theoric walk towards him, calling power to his hands. He could see it was an effort, the formerly virile man wizened with his sacrifice to the dark arts, and he tried to call his own power, needing something to defend himself, but whatever deal Theoric had made made it impossible for him to break free.
Theoric got to within six feet of Loki when Sigyn moved. She spun, drawing her sword as she did, running towards him. The sound of her feet in the undergrowth drew his attention and he started to turn, just as she reached him, her sword coming up and her second hand met the first on the hilt, forcing it into his stomach at an angle, then up and under his ribcage, blood flowing over her hands in a hot rush. His face was one of complete surprise, staring at her in disbelief of what had happened, of what she had done.
Sigyn looked at the man she had once been betrothed to, the man who had taken everything from her, and she choked back tears. The actions of this one man destroyed three lives, and knowing he was responsible, knowing what he was capable of, hurt her almost as much as the loss.
The spell on Loki broke and he dropped to his feet before striding towards Theoric. He raised his arms and took the dying man’s head in his hands, snapping his neck with a swift twist before pushing the body to the floor, wrenching the sword from Sigyn’s hands in the process. He felt the cloaking spell die in the air as he stepped over the body, pulling Sigyn to him and off her feet, walking her away from what had just happened. The first sob escaped her as she looked at the crumpled form in the brush and Loki turned, putting her back to it as he lowered her back to her feet. He waved his hands over hers, removing the blood before she could notice it and caught her by the upper arms.
‘It’s okay, love, it’s okay.’ He said quietly as she shook her head.
‘I killed him.’ She murmured.
‘You did what you had to, and the killing blow was mine.’ He reassured her, realising this was probably the first time in hundreds of years she had had to try and take another life. ‘Never feel bad for protecting yourself.’
‘I didn’t do it for me.’ Her voice broke as her legs gave out and he guided her carefully to the ground, joining her and gathering her in his arms.
‘Then I’m honoured.’
‘I didn’t do it for you either!’ She pushed at his chest to make him let her go but he didn’t relinquish his hold.
‘Darling girl, you did it for someone, and I do not think it was for him.’ He tilted his head towards the body.
She didn’t wanted him to find out like this, she thought she wouldn’t have to tell him at all after his words the previous day. ‘Take me home.’ She said quietly.
‘We need to talk.’
‘You said all you needed to yesterday.’
‘I lied to you yesterday, sunbeam. I meant what I said about that, it was all lies, to protect you from the danger my loving you put you in.’ He looked at her sincerely.
She sniffed. ‘And how did that work out for you?’
‘Absolutely terribly.’ He laughed.
‘You’re an asshole.’ She said as tears still flowed down her cheeks.
‘Your asshole?’ He asked tentatively.
Her face contorted as she fought not to sob. ‘Are you?’
‘If you’ll have me, love.’ He kept one arm around her and wiped her cheeks with his fingertips. ‘You are, and always have been, the one, the only one, with whom I can share all that I am.’
‘You’re a liar.’ She whispered but there was less fight in her.
‘Not in this. Not in my heart. I know I don’t deserve you, after all I put you through, you were always worth more than me, a thousand times more, but if you would give me another chance,’ he turned as the air went static with the appearance of the bifrost, then back to her, ‘I beg you, give me the opportunity, and I will spend the rest of our lives proving to you that you are worth more to me than anything else in any realm.’
‘Is that a yes?’
‘I should castrate you.’ She tried to frown but it was lost in the mixture of tears and uncertainty.
‘I’m afraid Darcy has first dibs on my nethers for removal, should you ever require it.’
He heard Thor’s voice but didn’t turn, instead gave Sigyn an intent look. ‘Please?’
‘No pulling this shit again.’
‘No more lies, I promise.’
‘I will need no more.’
‘We’ll talk later.’
‘Is this…Theoric?’ Sif poked the body with her toe as Thor reached them, the other Warriors fanning out, looking for more threats.
‘It was.’ Loki stood, drawing Sigyn with him.
‘Are you well, little sister?’ Thor asked as he reached them, offering her his arms.
‘I am now.’ She stepped forward and he pulled her into a hug.
‘And has this fool apologised?’ They parted but he kept one arm around her.
‘More than once.’
‘I suggest you listen. He was quite distraught.’
‘But do not allow him to get away with it. He owes you.’ Sif added.
‘I am quite aware of what I did, thank you, Sif.’ Loki joined them.
‘And if you ever do anything so foolhardy again…’
‘You’ll kill me?’ He gave her raised eyebrows.
‘Oh no, that would be too kind. I will make you suffer.’
‘Were there any more than this one fool?’ Volstagg called.
‘Not as far as we are aware.’ Loki replied.
‘Good.’ He put up his axe and strode towards them. ‘I have not seen our little Sigyn for too long.’ He swept her up in a crushing hug.
‘It’s good to see you too, Volstagg.’
‘You are smaller! You require a good meal with us.’ He smiled as he put her down.
‘I don’t think that will make me taller, at this point.’
‘She’s perfect.’ Loki added and she turned and gave him a raised eyebrow.
‘I’m still mad at you.’
‘Oh, Loki, still unable to keep her satisfied.’ Fandral pulled Sigyn to him next, lifting her off the ground. ‘When you want a real man you know where to find me.’
‘You know the rules.’
‘Combat it is, then.’ He grinned as he put her down.
‘You’re being ridiculous now.’ Loki reached for her hand to try get her back into his arms but she glared at him and wouldn’t oblige.
‘You think she would be unable to best me?’ Fandral asked. ‘Such little faith.’
Sigyn ignored them as she greeted Hogun but they continued.
‘I think she is Midgardian and it would give you perhaps a small advantage.’ Loki pointed out.
‘You’re not the boss of me.’ Sigyn replied as she broke the embrace with Hogun.
‘You, my brother, are in the doghouse.’ Thor said.
‘I fear I have a long way to go until I am unchained.’ Loki agreed.
Thor rested his hand on his shoulder. ‘And until then, Father wishes to see you, Sigyn.’
‘What?’ Sigyn turned an alarmed look on him.
Loki narrowed his eyes suspiciously. ‘Why?’
‘He wishes to see you for himself.’ He looked at her.
‘That’s, um, terrifying.’ Sigyn replied.
‘He means you no harm.’ Thor assured her. ‘But it may be wise not to keep him waiting.’
‘Sig.’ Loki held his hand out to her and she stared at it for a moment before meeting his eyes. ‘I know I was a fool, but let us meet everything from this point as one.’
‘If you screw up again…’ She waved a finger a him warningly.
‘If he screws up again, little sister, I will personally take care of it.’ Thor promised her.
It made her feel better, knowing she had him on her side, and knowing that Loki was willing to try. With a sigh she took his hand, and he rewarded her with a grateful smile.
‘I promise never to make you regret this.’