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Keeper's Walk

Title: Keeper's Walk
Author: ciaranbochna
Characters: Heimdall, Loki
Fandom: MCU
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor the world.
Length: 716 words

A/N: Tied to my other MCU fic, though this one needs no prior knowledge. Based vaguely on this quote: I am hated for loving, I am haunted for wanting. All errors are mine.

“How long have you watched?" Loki always hopes to catch Heimdall by surprise, and never does.

“Always.” Heimdall turns slightly as Loki approaches his dome.

Loki’s tunic is ripped and his leggings are muddy beneath his armour. He fails to repress a wince as he puts weight on his left leg.

“You’re lying.” Loki smirks and walks past Heimdall, limping heavily. He reaches the far side of Heimdall’s observation room and leans against the wall.

He doesn't expect an answer from the gatekeeper. He never comes for conversation. Hours pass as they both stare into the realms beyond the Bifrost.

“Yes. I was.” Heimdall replies.

Loki turns too quickly, spinning on his left leg and slips down the wall. Heimdall notices the gasp as he falls and catches Loki’s shoulder before he reaches the floor.

“Down.” Heimdall orders.

Loki lowers himself the rest of the way, holding Heimdall’s arm.

Heimdall can see points of colour on Loki’s cheek. He remembers the mixture of pain and embarrassment well. He moves away once Loki has his legs stretched in front of him, and ignores the young man’s pain-twisted face.

After another drawn-out silence Loki contemplates dragging himself up to leave. His left hand ghosts over his upper thigh, testing. His vision narrows to a grey point and he reconsiders moving. He considers ever returning to the palace.

“How did you know I was lying?”

Heimdall’s deep rumble distracts Loki from his throbbing bruise (he hopes that is all it is). He is disgusted by his intolerance for pain, and inability to control his expressions because of it. He almost snaps at Heimdall, but a shred of self-preservation holds his tongue. In his current state he is nearly helpless.  He cannot even focus on a spell to transport himself directly to his room.

Loki turns his head, watching a storm cell spin over Jotunheim. “Details. You can glean anything you wish from the way someone reacts, or doesn’t, in any situation. If you are careful.” He isn't sure if it is the clouds that swirling grey, or if he's about to lose consciousness again. Useless.

“How did you learn this skill?” Heimdall shifts and Loki looks back at him. His gold eyes don’t blink, intent on Loki’s answer.

“In silence. The less sound you make, the less they notice you. Time is an excellent teacher.”

“Are there no other skills you could learn by being seen?” Heimdall presses a circle of knot work in the wall across from Loki. He pulls out a blue glass jar.

Loki never takes his eyes from him. “As you see, honing ‘other skills’ leads nowhere I want to be.”  He gestures at his leg.

Heimdall leans down and offers Loki the jar. Loki stares at it, and then Heimdall, before taking it.

“I never said they should be athletic. I am an example of where other skills may take you.”

“But you are a warrior. We both know I will never be that.” Loki unscrews the jar and inhales cautiously.

“My talents did not lie with the sword when I was your age, and those who watched before me possessed many other ways as well. Do you define yourself by one aspect?”

“How many before you?” Loki unties one side of his leggings and applies some of the salve to his skin. He stops breathing for a moment when the pain vanishes.

“Three. You should be able to make it back without assistance now.” Heimdall returns to the center of the room and leans on his sword.

“Three. Watching together, or separately?”

Heimdall smiles.

Loki can’t see Heimdall's expression as he tests his leg with a play of fingers, but he feels the air lighten in the room.

“You spend more time in the library than anyone but the queen. I believe you can find your answer unaided.”

Loki climbs to his feet  and pauses for a moment on the beginning of the bridge.

“When I find it, will you listen?”

“Where else would I go Loki?”

Loki rocks slightly on his feet. He is 50, and before this no one but his mother and Thor use his name without an edge of derision. Heimdall has never used anything but “prince."

“I will answer your challenge.” He flies down the Bifrost.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2013 08:07 am (UTC)
Oh cool!
Dec. 31st, 2013 03:09 pm (UTC)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )