"Just Somebody to Say ‘I Love You’”
"If somebody could say something - the right thing - to make him feel kind of, emotionally and spiritually at ease, that he didn’t maybe have such a painful axe to grind"
"Like what Carla?"
"I don't know, maybe just somebody to say ‘I love you’"
"Yeah well you can dream on but it's never going to happen"
Carla arrived back at her flat, exhausted from the day’s work and almost being driven to sleep by three hours of lectures - it was all a blur now, anyhow. Her conversation during her lunch break had had a profound impact on her, like she had ‘made herself sad’ to put it in laymen’s terms.
She kicked off her shoes and flung her keys onto the sideboard by the door before noticing that the chair had been tipped over in the middle of the room, and she knew for a fact that she hadn’t been so clumsy in the morning. Yet, everything looked to be in place. Panic rose as her heart started to thud against her chest. Perhaps she watched too many murder mysteries, but she was certain she needed at least a cricket bat in order to deem it safe when entering the bathroom. Had she drawn the shower curtain back? She hoped so.
She quickly checked the cupboards and found that nothing had been taken. Why would somebody break in, and steal nothing?
Her little side-stash of cash from her mum was sitting in the plain envelope, her best shoes still tucked in by the wardrobe, all of her clothes hung undisturbed. In fact, that only thing that seemed misplaced was the offending chair.
She gingerly picked the chair up before feeling a tingling spark in her fingertips, causing her to drop it again and fly back. With a soft ruffling noise, a figure appeared before her, and Carla gasped as she drank in the sight. In all his shining regal armour, green and black with glimmering gold stood the very God of Mischief himself, or a rather detailed hallucination.
“… Loki?” Carla said dumbly. She felt that being eloquent wasn’t exactly called for at the moment.
“I am,” came Loki’s voice with a deep drawl, much lower than Carla’s startled tone. It brought power to his words, simple as they were.
“I… How can you be… real?” Carla asked, fear now settling in. She wasn’t sure if she had gone mad or if she was being Punk’d, it wasn't unusual for the other students to play pranks but this took the biscuit.
“Humans no longer worship the gods as they once did, we had every reason to retreat,” Loki explained in a calm tone. “But I assure you, I am very real.”
For reasons she couldn’t explain, Carla felt herself relaxing as well. If Loki had been here to kill her, she’d be dead, right? Still, she said nothing. There wasn’t a way to know what to say without offending a god, and that was one thing she didn’t really want to do.
“How about something to drink, then?” she said as if the man in her room were just a regular friend and not a deity of incomprehensible power.
Loki’s eyes narrowed before nodding slowly. In the meagre kitchen unit there was a fridge, which Carla made her way over to. She removed two cans of Coke did gods even know what Coke was? and handed one to Loki carefully. When their fingertips brushed, she felt the same tingling sensation through her fingers, and suspected that she had felt Loki’s magical signature on the chair earlier. The feeling wasn’t as unpleasant this time around. In fact, it felt warm and oddly soothing.
When the god stared questioningly at the can, Carla hesitantly reached out to pop the tab for him. Loki only seemed intrigued by the can, but placed it to his lips and drank slowly. He hummed as if in approval and perched himself on the edge of the bed, and Carla figured that maybe she could survive the day after all.
“May I ask you something?”
“Of course,” Carla said without hesitation. It was in her nature, really, to be open and honest when she could. She didn’t think of Loki as any different than a friend now, having not been able to ignore the sad look in Loki’s startling green eyes.
“This afternoon,” Loki started slowly. “You said something… something about being at ease.”
Was this what it had been about? Carla thought. Though she didn’t relax much knowing that Loki had broken into her flat just to discuss her thoughts on his feelings, maybe he was here to kill her after all.
Loki continued. “Though the painful axe grinding part was an odd phrase, I do believe I understood the analogy. But… being at ease. What does it feel like?”
Carla blinked and furrowed her brow in confusion. “Being at ease.. It just…” She let her voice trail off as she was at a loss for words, strangely enough. There was no quote that she knew of, no reference, no analogy or metaphor. “I’m not sure how I would describe it, actually. I suppose you just feel content. Relaxed. Peaceful, you know?”
Had it not been for the softness of Carla's voice, Loki might have found it offensive. Yet he could feel the kindness radiating from Carla, surfacing from the brilliant blue eyes, from every fibre of the girl’s body. “No, I do not,” he said tersely. He softened when Carla’s face fell. “There is no such thing as ease or peace in the shadows of the sun.”
Thor Carla’s brain supplied for her. The myths, the very stories she knew as a girl, it was all true. She couldn’t even begin to imagine what it must have felt like.
Acting impulsively, she left her place to sit beside Loki on the bed, as close as she dared, and laid a gentle hand on the small of Loki’s back. She felt the muscles stiffen under Loki’s layers, as if a comforting touch was the most foreign thing in the world. Carla only felt more sympathy, and tried to ease Loki into it by stroking her thumb slowly along the ridge of his spine. Even though Loki wore multiple layers, Carla could feel the bumps of Loki’s spine as the god hunched over to bury his face into his hands, rubbing the exhaustion from his eyes and temples.
“I’m so sorry,” Carla whispered.
Loki froze. The way Carla’s voice held so true, so genuine, so different from the mockery and falseness of every other apology he’d been faced with, made Loki feel at a loss. Why was this human so candid with her empathy? Was there something more? He lifted his head to study the woman beside him. Her crystal blue eyes would have reminded him of Thor had it not been for the gentleness and glimmering of gold in the light, which fascinated him.
“Why do you show me kindness so?” he asked.
“I’ve stood in your place, I think everyone has at some point, and I know I can’t say that I completely understand all that you’ve been through, but I’ve had a taste, and that was enough,” Carla replied. “I did some research once, and if the mythology is true, then I am truly, incredibly sorry for all of your misfortunes.”
Loki stared into the soft eyes of his newfound companion and felt the walls around him crumble away, the shackles of his torment loosen and the bars of his self built prison dissolve. “I… thank you for the sentiment.”
There was a moment of silence as Carla pondered on how to show the troubled god what it truly meant to be at ease, then it came to her. Slowly, she leaned in close to Loki, ignoring the now familiar tingling sensation between them, until her cheek grazed his, gently she brushed his hair away from his ear.
“I love you,” Carla whispered, finger tracing the line of Loki’s jaw, their lips just a whisper away.
Loki seemed to contemplate this before smiling softly, the previously hard lines of his face disappearing. “Perhaps I just needed to hear that from somebody.” He whispered in return.
Carla pulled Loki closer, tucking the god’s head beneath her chin and kissing the irresistible temples.
“I believe I understand the meaning of being at ease now,” Loki said sleepily against Carla’s chest as he fell into a deep, nightmareless sleep for the first time in centuries.