"Okay stop," you demanded, breaking your wrist away from him. Loki turned around, looking at you curiously. "I don't want to learn any more stupid magic. I want you to stop avoiding my question. Who is Lynda married to?"
"Please don't," he begged. "You really wouldn't like the answer..."
You crossed your arms, stomping a foot firmly on the ground. "Tell me, Loki! At this point, I think I get it, I just want you to tell me."
His expression went from pleading to almost offended. "If you think you have any idea what Lynda and I have been through together, you can think again. Now if you really don't want to fight alongside me, that is perfectly okay, I can just leave you in that room and steal Lynda's vortex manipulator to make certain you won't get out and do something stupid to hurt yourself--"
"Don't you try anything," you warned. "You're trying to distract me by getting me angry but it's not going to work. You tell me right now what's going on with that ring and why it doesn't seem to matter to you because I am not going to be your mistress, especially if I've been kept in the dark about it all this time--"
"You want to know so badly? Fine! Go find Lynda, go ask her, it's her damn ring!" Loki snarled, advancing. You stepped back cautiously but before he reached you his expression calmed and he looked sorry. "Just...promise me...promise me you won't hate me," he said. "There's so much I've done...so much...I don't deserve for you to love me or even like me, but I beg you, please still do, even after she tells you..."
Hesitantly, you nodded. "Whatever, I promise."
He looked desperate, like he was waiting for you to say more, and made like he was going to ask you for a better promise but he decided not to push it. "Alright then. Let's go find her."
He left you alone at Lynda's door. Well, wall. It hadn't really occurred to you she had a room...
You knocked. "Um, Lynda?"
"Une seconde...AY!" came a muffled cry. After a couple seconds the wall parted and Lynda leaned in the doorway, rubbing what looked like a scorch mark on her porcelain face. Her golden curls were thrown up in a messy half-bun-half-ponytail and her black t-shirt and jeans were ripped ragged to match. "Is zis important? Ze perception filter on my warpraft needs repair and I am 'aving difficulty wis ze fragment links..."
"It'll only be a moment. I think," you said, and she stepped aside to allow you in.
The room was cluttered with folding chairs and couch cushions, a couple plastic tables and a metal one strewn with wires an circuits and stretched across two of the tables was an oblong chunk of plastic that looked like a vague rendition of a surfboard.
"Don't touch anysing, I'm sorry it is such a mess," Lynda apologizes, directing you to a low single mattress with unmade sheets. "If you could 'urry? I sink I might 'ave mentally solved my problem but..."
She sat down and you took a seat next to her. "Look...um...you're upset with me, aren't you? Well Loki and me. And I mean, I understand, I would hate to see my husband blatantly having s-s-private...conversations..." You blushed. "Uh...with another woman. I just...why...why did no one tell me? I honestly didn't mean to like...take him from you..."
"Okay, look," Lynda sighed. "I am not married to Loki. I am married--was married--to a wonderful man...my beautiful American boy...'e was so beautiful and so, so clever." She bit her lip, looking longingly into space. "And 'e understood all of my 'technobabble,' as 'e called it. I...I met 'im when I worked at Torchwood, zough we were in different divisions. Different countries, even. 'E lived in Wales."
"What...what happened to him?" You had a feeling. "Why won't Loki tell me?"
You could see her golden memories shatter. "Because 'e killed 'im," she deadpanned.
You masked your shock with patience to hear more. "Then...then why--"
"Why do I still trust Loki? Because 'e was ze reason I worked at Torchwood in ze first place, and 'e is ze reason I left it. You see...when my 'usband was killed...it was 'is own fault. 'E always took 'is job too seriously and it was ze death of 'im. I never understood it; ze Tesseract, Loki, Thor, all the talk about 'aliens,' well it attracted 'im and 'e felt zat it was 'is responsibility to take care of ze problem.
"But at zat point it was my 'usband against my savior. Loki was just...stronger. And after 'e was dead I could not stay. I left zat night with Loki, 'e led me 'ere to ze Underground. It was 'ard for me to ever go back because...sometimes I feel like I see 'im, 'is face, and 'e recognizes me. I cannot take it...and so once again Loki is my savior."
"But he killed your husband!"
"But 'e was sorry!" cried Lynda, cheeks shining with tears. "I love 'im as well, you see, I always did. 'E saved me from a dark place and tried to fix it when 'e put me into anozer one. Zere was nossing I could do for my 'usband. 'E was determined. It was 'im or Loki...and Loki was stronger..."
The rest of her story was lost in sobs and you were instantly sorry for bringing it up, for ever having a bitter thought toward her. It felt strange to, but you wrapped your arms around her, letting her sob into your shoulder. She didn't cry for long, pulling away after not even a minute and wiping her eyes dry with her slender fingers. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she said, visibly trying not to hyperventilate. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...to..."
"You don't get to apologize for crying over that."
She shook her head, still trying to pull herself together while her quivering lips gave her away.
"So...so do you understand now?" she asked, looking down at her lap where she held her hands, caressing the ring with two fingers. "Why 'e couldn't tell you? It wasn't Loki's fault. It wasn't. Some...some people simply cannot accept the fact zat we are not alone in zis universe..."
"I guess I...but what do you mean he was your 'savior'?"
"Zat is somesing you will 'ave to ask Loki," she said, voice returning to normal as she cleared her throat. "Now if you don't mind I 'ave to get back to work on my warpraft. Go a'ead and...I don't know...sleep wis Loki or whatever, zere is no danger of any interruption from me zis time." She stood up and walked over to the board, looking at you and nodding toward the door. "Go on, go. Braid Thor's 'air some more. Somesing."
"Loki? Loki!" you called, twisting and turning through the narrow hall. So narrow. Well, you were inside walls. "Where are you? OOF--"
While looking everywhere at once, you had neglected to look in front of you and run into Thor. Before you could fall flat on your butt, he grabbed you by a shoulder. "Whoa, steady now," he said. You reached out to give him a big hug.
"Where's your brother?"
"Ah." How the hell did you get inside, again? "Where's the nearest exit?"
"Oh, uhm...left, right, down, and then up a flight of stairs. The password is 'lemondrops.'"
"That way," Thor said, turning you around. You looked back over your shoulder and he smiled. Did mischief run in the family?
Well regardless, you followed his instructions, and down was not quite stairs as you had expected. You thought you had a rule about expecting things, what was up with that. Instead, it was the frightening experience of taking one step downward, being flung into the air by a sudden burst of wind, and then falling three flights to land on your feet, and with very little gravity, like an agile cat on the moon.
Once you got over the initial shock of that moment, you came face to face with the statue of an angel. "Um...lemondrops?"
And the wings folded, granting you access to a genuine flight of stairs; no tricks or puffs of air. A typical ascent. That was unexpected.
You found yourself in the Labyrinth, surrounded by sparkly stone walls and the recurring realization that Loki would be impossible to find any time s--
"There you are!" he said, walking up to you from the left. "Did you..."
"We talked," you said, unable to look Loki in the eyes. "Goes to show that no matter how likely a conclusion is..."
"Yes, you can skip the kids cartoon show moral-of-the story," he said impatiently. His eyes betrayed nervousness. "Do you still like me?"
You hugged him immediately, nuzzling your face to his chest, on the verge of tears. "Yes...yes I do...and don't you ever go into a fight with random aliens you don't know whether you'll defeat. Please. I can't handle it."
He hugged you back, combing his fingers through your hair and giving a kiss to the top of your head. "I know. I know...it's...awful, it's so sad, it's horrible..."
"Don't let me lose you to something like that!"
"Shh, I know," said Loki, voice breaking. "I'm just...happy you don't think I'm a monster."
"Of course not. Lynda explained. I...I'm so sorry, for both of you..."
"It's alright now," he said. "I mean it isn't...but...it is." You nodded in understanding. "Now...shall we go back in to train you, or would you rather be locked in that room so I don't have to lose you to some random alien you don't know whether you'll defeat?"