‘No.’ Sigyn glared at Loki.
‘Come, love, even you can see the funny side.’
‘I am not naming our child for a joke.’
‘No!’ She slapped his hand away from her stomach where he was stroking it. ‘I am not calling him Sleipnir, or Fenrir, and definitely not Jormungand!’
‘The scholars would…’
‘I don’t care what the scholars will think, no!’ She tried to roll off the bed but at her current size moving anywhere fast was next to impossible, not to mention how hard it was when she was reclining, and right now she was laying flat in a light dress with the air-conditioner turned up full in the hope of cooling down in the unbearable July heat, even though the sun had set some time ago. Loki was helping when he could with his Jotun form but she soon got uncomfortable if he touched her in one place too long.
Loki wrapped his arm around her and held her still as she struggled to move away from him. ‘I’m teasing, love.’
‘You’re five seconds away from being smacked.’ She growled at him.
‘Your touch is like velvet on my skin.’ He purred, so she slapped his cheek as hard as she could at this angle. ‘Velvet.’ He whispered as she glared at him.
‘How can it be so hard to think of a name?’ She stopped trying to get off the bed.
‘We’ve struggled for the last seven months, I do not see why now should be any different.’ He bowed his head and kissed her forehead. ‘We will know when we see him.’
‘What if we name him and then don’t like it after a while?’
‘You are worrying unnecessarily. We will know.’
‘Don’t see how.’ She pouted.
‘We just will.’ He laid down beside her but was careful not to touch her, she was so warm and uncomfortable he didn’t want to make matters worse. ‘Let us discuss something else.’
‘Like my fat ankles?’
‘Like how very beautiful you are.’ He raised her hand to his lips, kissing it softly.
‘I’m not beautiful, I’m enormous. I look like…’
‘You look amazing. You know how you make my heart light, just by being you, but by carrying our child, you are perfection itself. We made life, you and I, and that is magic I would change for nothing in the nine realms. I love you both, more than my own life, more than anything else, and our son will be the most loved being in the realms.’
She gave him a long look, and he smiled at her encouragingly. ‘Shut up, please, just, shut up.’ She groaned, pushing herself up with shaking arms and he automatically helped her. ‘This Lokison is elbowing my damn bladder again, I swear to any deity listening I am going to stop drinking just so I have to pee less.’
‘You must stay…’
‘Hydrated.’ She rolled her eyes as she waddled her way to the bathroom. ‘There had better be a cherry popsicle waiting for me when I get back.’
Loki shook his head with a soft laugh. Her craving for the fruit that bore her nickname irritated her no end but she had given in to it about six months ago and Tony had not let it drop, although he had purchased her every different cherry flavoured product to try and ease her cravings. Loki was lucky, being part Jotun he didn’t have to worry about overheating, he just kept his body temperature low so he was always cool, calm and collected, but the rest of The Avengers not so much. It was the hottest July on record and even the Tower’s state of the art air con system was struggling. Most of the team had retired for the night but Clint had been packing to go home for the weekend and was just waiting for his cab which was booked for in an hour. He was trying to stay cool by sitting at the breakfast bar eating ice cream in vest and shorts.
‘How’s the bump bearer holding up?’ He asked as Loki appeared around the corner.
‘She is not enjoying either the heat or her size.’ Loki informed him as he hit the ice box.
‘Don’t envy you, man. Laura hated the summer babies the most.’
‘What did you do to help her through it?’ Loki asked as he came to lean on the counter opposite him.
‘Mostly stayed out of her way and kept the cupboards stocked.’ Clint smiled at the memory. ‘But you have taken leave already and are probably driving her crazy just by breathing.’
‘You are not far off. She seems to hate everything I am trying to do for her.’
‘It’s not personal. It’s a combination of hormones, heat, exhaustion, being fed up, and any number of other things that go hand in hand with her feeling so out of place in her own body. And don’t expect miracles after the birth either. It’ll take a while for things to settle back down again and for her to find this new version of herself.’
‘A new version?’ Loki frowned, not understanding.
‘A mom.’ Clint explained. ‘She’ll be the same, but different. It’s hard to explain.’
‘Just what can I expect?’
‘Tears, sleeplessness, more exhaustion, feelings of elation followed by feelings of worthlessness, any and every emotion you can imagine and some you’ve never heard of. You’ll never be prepared, just do what you can to support her, and for the love of God never leave the toilet seat up.’
Loki swallowed nervously. ‘I hadn’t considered how much would change for her alone. Thank you.’
‘You’re welcome, for what it’s worth. Don’t get me wrong, kids are the best thing in the world, but in the early days, wow, wake up call. You’d better get that popsicle back to her before it’s too melted and she cries at you.’ He pointed out.
‘Keeping it cold is not a problem.’ Loki chilled the item again. ‘Have a safe journey home, Clint.’
‘Thanks, and you let me know the second that baby is born.’
‘He is not due to make an appearance for at least two more weeks.’ Loki reminded him as he walked away.
‘Whatever, man, I know the signs and she is not far off.’ He waved his spoon at him.
Loki shook his head. Everyone was always offering advice and the doctor had examined Sigyn only the day before and said she still had a while. It wasn’t what she had wanted to hear but it was what it was.
Sigyn stood in front of the sink, holding on for dear life as a pain spasmed through her back then into her stomach and groin. It passed after a few seconds, and she hadn’t had any more. Damn Braxton Hicks were becoming more frequent. She had asked the doctor about them and he said they were common, happened to every woman, but damn him he didn’t have to go through it.
‘Sunbeam?’ Loki called from the bedroom.
‘I’m coming.’ She called, sighing as the last of the pain passed and went to the door and back into the bedroom, smiling at Loki as he offered her the popsicle with a flourish and a grin.
‘For my lady.’
‘You bring me the nicest thing.’ She took it from him. ‘And I’m sorry I’m being so cranky.’
‘Worry not, kitten. I love you regardless of how you treat me.’ Her bottom lip pouted slightly and he hoped he hadn’t made her want to cry. ‘If it did not tire you so I would take you somewhere colder in a heartbeat.’
‘Right now just sticking my feet in Jotunheim would be nice.’ She wriggled her bare toes.
‘I would not risk you the frostbite, even if it would help.’ He offered her his hand. ‘But you should try and get some rest.’
‘I’ll try, but I’m not promising anything.’ She sighed.
‘It’s all I can ask.’ He escorted her back to the bed, changing them both into sleepwear as they went.
Once she finished eating he lowered the lights and they settled in the bed with Loki keeping his temperature low. She settled on her side facing away from him and he lay close to her but not touching, letting the nearness of him cool her without it being too much.
‘Love you, Sig.’ He murmured, kissing her shoulder briefly.
‘Love you too, Lo.’ She reached over behind her and grasped for his hand before pulling it around her and resting it on her belly. ‘Hug me for a bit?’
‘Anything for you.’ He moved up behind her, curving his body around hers and she relaxed into his embrace with a sigh.
He leant up and kissed her cheek. ‘Your love is thanks enough.’
‘Used to be my kisses.’ She turned her face towards him with a tired smile.
He kissed her. ‘Still is, but your love buoys it.’
She gave him one final kiss before settling back into her pillow. ‘What about Narvi?’ She said quietly as he settled down again.
‘Narvi?’ He asked.
‘Mmm. Narvi.’ She yawned.
‘It’s lovely, sweet.’
‘I might have changed my mind by morning.’ She said as sleep pulled her under despite her discomfort.
Loki chuckled to himself. Unless he really hated a name he would let her have the biggest input. As long as she and the baby were safe and healthy he didn’t care.
Later that night Loki woke, but wasn’t sure what had disturbed him. The lights were still out but something wasn’t right. He kept his breathing deep and called power to his hand as Sigyn’s voice from across the room made him realise what woke him.
‘If you shoot power at me I swear I will divorce you.’ Her voice was strained and he sat up, trying to find her in the darkness.
‘Why are you up in the dark, petal?’ He asked.
‘For fun.’ She lied as another wave of pain shot through her and she bit back a moan.
Loki flicked on the light with his power as he got up from the bed as quickly as he could, finding her leaning heavily on the desk with both hands, back bent as she slowly rocked back and forth. ‘Sig, do we need the doctor?’
‘Maybe. But it’s only been an hour.’ She held up her phone and, opening it, showed him the page of notes where she had been recording the frequency of her pain.
‘Okay, yes, we need a doctor.’ He said as he looked over the timings. ‘Why didn’t you wake me, sweet?’
‘Because you were tired and I can hold on a few more hours.’
‘You and your stubbornness. Can you walk?’
She glared at him. ‘I’m standing, aren’t I?’
‘I’ll take that as a yes.’ He picked up the bag by the door and came back to her. ‘Can I change your clothes for you?’ He asked as he changed into a shirt and pants.
‘Please. Just something loose. Comfy.’
He took her hand and wrapped the other arm around her back as her sleep clothes changed into one of the light summer dresses she had bought. ‘FRIDAY, could you please inform the medical unit we are on our way?’
‘Will do, Loki.’ Came the reply.
It was slow progress to the medical unit, Sigyn having to stop often for both pain and breathing, but they soon had her in a room, attached to a monitor and being checked over. The doctor looked at the print out several times with a puzzled expression before moving the monitoring unit a few more times then excused himself. Loki and Sigyn shared a look.
‘Is that normal?’ She asked and he shrugged.
‘I have no idea, but I’m sure it’s nothing.’ He assured her with a squeeze of her hand.
‘God of Lies.’ She murmured as pain grew inside her once more. He eased her through it with a little magic until she could breathe easily again. ‘Thank you.’ She said quietly as he raised her knuckles to his lips.
‘None needed, dearest. Can I get you anything?’
‘Some water would be good.’
‘I’ll be back.’ He promised as he got to his feet, kissing her forehead as he went.
Sigyn could do nothing but sit and wait for either Loki or the doctor to return and it felt like an eternity, even with her phone for company. She debated messaging her mom, Jane and Darcy, but decided against it. It was stupid o’clock and this could be a while yet. She would wait until it was a decent hour at least.
Eventually Loki came back with a glass of iced water and a straw, holding it for her despite her argument she could manage alone. The doctor was back minutes later with a portable ultrasound machine.
‘Is something wrong?’ Sigyn asked worriedly as Loki took her hand again.
‘No, not wrong. Heartbeat is good and strong, no signs of distress. I just want to check something.’ He assured them as he turned on the machine. Within a few minutes he had exposed her belly and was examining her with a look of extreme concentration on his face. After making a few humming noises he looked over her notes a few more times before looking at them both.
‘I want to assure you both there is nothing wrong, but we have found something of an anomaly on both the trace and your scan.’
‘What kind of an anomaly?’ Sigyn asked as a wave of pain began to build in her again.
‘It’s a second heartbeat. I don’t know where it’s been hiding, but,’ he turned the monitor, ‘it’s twins.’
‘What?’ Sigyn screamed as the pain peaked at the same time.
Loki felt his eyes go wide as the doctor pointed to the two definite outlines on the monitor. Two heartbeats, two little faces, two babies. ‘Holy Valhalla.’ He breathed.
‘No, no, no.’ Sigyn shook her head as the pain began to subside again. ‘I didn’t order two, I’m not expecting two. HOW DID YOU MISS TWO?’ She yelled at the doctor.
‘It happens sometimes, not as often these days, but occasionally, it may be something to do with the Asgardian physiology, or magic, or just bad luck. I’m very sorry to spring this on you now but you have to come to terms with the fact you will be having two babies in the next few hours.’ The doctor explained calmly and reasonably but Sigyn didn’t want to listen.
‘No, you don’t understand, I only have one crib, and one…everything! We aren’t prepared for two!’
‘We can be, dove. It won’t take much.’ Loki assured her.
She gave him a desperate look. ‘But we can’t even choose one name!’
‘I’ll be back in a few moments, I’ll give the two of you some privacy but press the call button if you need me.’ The doctor said as he wheeled the ultrasound back out of the room.
‘Two!’ Sigyn squeaked as Loki cupped her face in his hand.
‘Twins, love.’ He grinned. ‘Two little mischief makers of our own.’
‘They’re already causing trouble and they aren’t born yet.’ She dropped her head back in the pillows. ‘How will we manage with two?’
‘You seem to have forgotten, sunbeam, that I can create duplicates. We will have as many extra hands as we need.’
‘Oh thank goodness.’ She sighed.
He gave her a soft smile as he brushed hair away from her temple. ‘Would you mind if I informed Thor of the situation? Although perhaps not full details.’
She narrowed her eyes at him. ‘You mean just tell him I’m in labour, not about there being two?’
He nodded. ‘One last thing to surprise him with, for now.’
‘I like it. Okay.’ She nodded and he took out his phone.
Thor couldn’t get to the medical unit fast enough but was only permitted as far as the waiting area. Jane was with him, Darcy was on her way, and so far they had managed to keep it to just the three of them knowing, but no doubt it wouldn’t be long before news spread. Jane made Thor sit down, his pacing was making her nervous, and she was excited enough without that too. Darcy rushed in the door with her knitting bag over her arm, pale green wool dangling from it where she was mid project. The three of them waited together with nothing but vending machine coffee and the TV on the wall for several hours until finally the doctor came and found them, smiling from ear to ear.
‘They’d like you to come visit, but I’ll have to ask you to keep it brief.’
‘Is he okay?’ Darcy asked. ‘Ten fingers, ten toes, no extra limbs?’
‘Absolutely perfect.’ The doctor said, holding the door for them to follow him.
The room was situated with a curtain between the bed and door for privacy and Loki sat in full view of the door holding their first born. He was beautiful, with the new baby dark eyes and a smattering of pale hair that shone with golden amber tones in the light. Sigyn held their second born, much smaller with a smattering of dark hair. Non identical boys who had stolen their hearts the moment they entered the world.
The door opened slowly to reveal Thor coming in first, closely followed by Jane and Darcy. Their eyes were all for Loki and the baby before them, the only thing they could see properly as they entered, and it was Jane who murmured; ‘Oh my God, it’s really a baby.’
‘Narvi, this is your uncle, Thor, and your aunts, Jane and Darcy.’ Loki said quietly.
‘Same goes for you, Vali.’ Sigyn said, her voice tired and emotional, and all three heads shot around to look at her on the bed, then doing a double take when they realised she held another baby.
‘What?’ Darcy squealed as Thor’s eyes went wide before coming back to Loki.
‘Is this a trick, brother?’
‘One they played on us.’ He smiled up at him. ‘We didn’t find out until just before the birth.’
‘Is that even possible?’ Jane asked as Darcy rushed to the bed.
‘Highly possible. They are beautiful proof of it. Would you like to hold him?’
‘Oh, not I.’ Thor shook his head as the first real terror he had felt in years leapt inside him.
‘Hell, I will.’ Darcy said.
‘Me too.’ Jane smiled as Loki got to his feet carefully and waited for her to get comfortable.
‘I’ll help you in a moment, sweet, just stay still.’
Sigyn nodded, not wanting to move regardless of if she was required to or not.
‘I can do this.’ Darcy grinned, holding her hands out and carefully taking the baby, supporting him in all the right places while Sigyn looked on. ‘Oh, he’s gorgeous.’
‘Two more Odinson’s.’ Jane shook her head in disbelief of the little bundle in her arms.
‘No, not Odinson’s. Lokison’s.’ Sigyn said with a sleepy smile.
‘Lokison’s.’ Thor turned to his brother with a look of disbelief. ‘You have children, brother! Actual children that you have not made up and convinced Midgard are real!’ He clapped him on the shoulder. ‘I believe you have finally grown up!’
‘I believe you’re right.’ Loki agreed as Thor hugged him.
‘Does this mean no more childish pranks?’ He asked as he leant back.
‘Let’s not be ridiculous.’ He laughed.
‘Hey, guys?’ Darcy said quietly and they turned to look at her, where she nodded towards the bed. Sigyn had fallen asleep sitting up, her head lolled to one side, her breathing slow and even. ‘Maybe we should let them have some peace. We can have baby cuddles later.’
‘She’s exhausted.’ Loki said unnecessarily as he met Darcy at the cot the babies were to share.
‘Make sure you take your turn.’ Darcy said warningly as she gently laid baby Vali in the crib. ‘Because otherwise I’ll kick your ass.’ She hugged him as she said the last.
‘I would not dare enrage you, Miss Lewis. I know only too well how proficient you are with a taser.’
‘Don’t you forget it.’ She playfully punched him in the chest.
‘There is no chance of that.’ He assured her before going and rescuing Jane.
‘You seem like a natural.’ Jane told him as he settled the little boy back in his arms.
‘I am more afraid of being a bad father than I am of being afraid.’
‘That makes sense.’ She went up on tiptoes and kissed his cheek. ‘Congratulations. Tell Sigyn we said we’ll see her later.’
‘What do you want us to tell the rest of the team?’ Darcy asked as she collected her bag from where she had dropped it on the floor.
‘I have the answer to that right here.’ He brought out his phone and showed Darcy a video the doctor had made for them, the two of them seated on the bed, holding the babies, introducing the world to the new arrivals. ‘I will send this to the team, and then you yourself may post it online.’
‘Really?’ She asked excitedly.
‘Really.’ He replied. ‘You are practically our press officer.’
‘Janey, I got promoted.’ Darcy grinned back at her friend. ‘Just give me the go ahead when I can post it.’
‘I will.’ He promised.