It was over a week, and Gamora still hadn't seen Loki.

He wasn't in his cell, and Gamora had checked multiple times a day. A strange hope rose in her throat when she opened the door, only to be replaced with the dull ache inside when it proved to be Loki-free. It was ridiculous, really.

Gamora had to face the truth. Loki was most likely dead.

She shook her head, walking down the hall. Gamora had pressed Nebula gently to see if she had answers for Gamora, but Nebula just mocked her saying, 'Why the hell are you so fond of that pile of skin and bones?' Truth be told, Nebula had always been sensitive to anything about Loki, ever since that conversation they had that Gamora overheard.

She purposefully elbowed a Chitauri walking in the opposite direction, taking out her bad humor on him. The Chitauri didn't bother to defend his honor, but stopped and called after her.

"Lady Gamora!" The Chitauri called after her. Gamora stopped, then whirled around on a heel, scowling darkly at the Chitauri.

"What?" she snapped irritably, hoping the Chitauri would give her a reason for Gamora to kill him. Taking some Chitauri blood would take a bit of the edge from her.

The Chitauri, unfortunately, sensed her black mood. "General Loki was looking for you," he said stiffly, as though the words left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Gamora's jaw dropped. Loki was alive? She tried to clamp down on the exhilarating feeling of joy in her stomach, and lowered her head to hide her shining eyes. But General Loki? Why general? And if Loki was alive, why wasn't he in his cell? Was he just wandering about? Gamora needed answers, and the one person who had answers for her was Loki.

"Funny, I was looking for him, too," Gamora said dryly. "Where is he?"

"Just down that bend," said the Chitauri, pointing, before hastily hurrying away.

Gamora forced away the questions that demanded for her attention, and instead hurriedly walked over to the sharp curve in the hall. Loki wasn't actually there, she doubted.

She walked briskly down the bend…only to run straight into the very person she was looking for.


Gamora froze, staring up at him. Loki did not look worn or tired at all, on the contrary, he looked as though he'd just stepped out of a hot shower.

Loki looked different, somehow. He still had those alarmingly sharp cheekbones, those poisonous green eyes and the rumpled black hair, and a familiar smirk was twisting his lips. But the dull, weary acceptant look on his face was gone, replaced by a rejuvenating, cunning, strategizing expression.

He was dressed differently, too. Instead of his usual green tunic, Loki was dressed in full battle armor, an armor style Gamora had never seen before. It was all sturdy leather, oak-green and black cloth, and burnished gold. Strangest of all, was a golden helmet that had two, long curved horns protruding from either side.

But what really caught Gamora's eye was the scepter in Loki's hand. It was curved inwards, colored a dusty golden with the end sharpened so finely that it could be used as a spear. But in the center of it, was a round, glowing, swirling blue stone. It contained an unearthly, radiant glow that caused shivers up and down Gamora's spine.

Gamora's eyes were locked on the scepter, but Loki's eyes were locked on Gamora. She finally dragged her gaze reluctantly from the blue gem, and looked Loki in the eye.

"You're not dead," was all she could think to say. Gamora hated the way she had to look up to meet Loki's eye. They would almost always sit down together, and the room was half in darkness, so Loki's height was never visible. But now, Loki drew himself up, and he was at least 8 inches taller than her.

Loki's smirk deepened. "I've noticed," he answered, eyes twinkling. He seemed to notice her surprise, and he shamelessly enjoyed it. Gamora frowned at him.

"Take off that illusion," she told him, and Loki raised an eyebrow.

"What makes you think this is an illusion?" he questioned. Before Gamora could stop him, he reached out and grabbed her arm tightly. Taken unawares, Gamora wrenched her hand free with more force than necessary. But his grip had seemed firm, solid, and reliable….so not an illusion, then.

"But, Thanos…" questioned Gamora weakly, but Loki shrugged it off.

"Long story," he said vaguely. "And I have places to be and things to do. Come on, I'll explain on the way."

Gamora wasn't used to being pushed around like that by Loki of all people, but she really needed to know what the hell was going on, so she went along with it.

Loki didn't speak for a while, and they strode on in complete silence, footsteps in perfect unison. Gamora kept her cool, while inwardly she was bursting with unanswered questions and rage at Loki, who seemed oblivious to her internal struggle.

Gamora didn't want to seem desperate for answers, just mildly curious. But she couldn't take anymore of this, so she opened her mouth to speak.

"So?" she asked, glancing sideways at him. She felt proud of the calm, collected tone her voice took.

Loki blinked, as though he just remembered she was there. "Ah, yes," he said serenely, making Gamora want to punch him in the face. "I said I'd tell you what's going on, right?"

Gamora gritted her teeth, swearing he did it on purpose. "Correct," she said firmly, letting her facade of faint interest fall. "And you'd better tell me this damn instant, or I'll kill you myself, general or no general."

Loki arched an eyebrow, lips quirking up in amusement. "Then I'd better tell you quickly," he said wryly. His tongue darted out and wet his lips as his brow furrowed in concentration.

"Do you know what an Infinity Stone is?" he asked suddenly, and Gamora searched her brain. Infinity stone, infinity stone…she sort of remembered someone mentioning it to her. But she didn't know what it was, and Gamora didn't like acknowledging ignorance.

Loki seemed to pick up on that, and instead of calling her out on her lack of knowledge on the subject, he just bowed his head and described it. "It's a sort of, ah," he frowned, "I'm not entirely sure how to describe it to a non-magic user. Let's just call it a powerful group of stones that basically bind together reality."

"Sounds important," Gamora said dryly. "Well, what about them?"

"Thanos is hunting them," answered Loki, with a faint undertone of No surprise there. "And he has his eyes set on an Infinity Gem in Midgard." When Gamora gave him a questioning look, he supplied, "You might also know it as Earth."

"Terra," Gamora said in understanding. The home of the underdeveloped humans, why, they couldn't even travel from one planet to another. Her stomach churned suddenly. This was starting to begin a terrible pattern.

Many planets, in the past, had had things that Thanos wanted. Badly. And when Thanos wanted something badly, and you had it, you'd better watch out. Gamora winced mentally. Most of those planets had ended up as a burned shell, a fragment of what it used to be.

"What is Thanos doing, then?" Gamora prompted when Loki failed to continue. Loki was staring at her strangely, an unreadable look in his dark green eyes.

"You might not like this much," Loki murmured. "I forgot how softhearted you are." Immediately, a flare of annoyance and rage rose up in Gamora.

"I am not softhearted," she snapped, tone incredulous. "And you should know, too. I've told you about all the people I've killed on my missions. That makes me softhearted?"

She expected a fight or an argument out of Loki, because there was nothing Loki liked better than verbally sparring with someone. But Loki's face just held an expression of weary acceptance.

"You said it, not me," he muttered. "If you start going all Thor on me…."

Then Loki straightened up, meeting her eye so Gamora could see the raw truthfulness shining there. "Thanos needed someone to get the Tesseract for him," he said. "Someone intelligent, and someone suspendible. You or Nebula was completely out of the question—he heavily relied on you to do his dirty work for him." Gamora inwardly flinched, for she hated that description of herself. But it was fully, one hundred percent true.

"Imagine his delight in finding me," Loki went on, "a clever, capable sorcerer who had a terrible grudge against an ally of Mid—Earth. I needed revenge, and Thanos needed the Infinity Gem. So he decided to make me his general."

"I'm following all this," said Gamora, "but one thing doesn't make sense to me. If he planned to make you his general from the start, why was he torturing you?"

"To test me," said Loki, with a practical coldness that almost made Gamora flinch. "He never wanted to know about the passages into Asgard, and I figured that out a while ago. He was testing my durability, and whether or not I would fail him." Loki laughed bitterly. "And, of course, to give me a fresh fear of disobeying him."

Gamora's jaw dropped open. What a terrible, twisted plan…but it was pure Thanos. Only he would think up something so deranged and cruel. "How did you figure that out?" she asked in disbelief.

Loki now didn't meet her eyes. "Because it's the exact thing I would do," he said without emotion, and Gamora wasn't sure what to think of that. It horrified her, repulsed her. Why unnecessarily torture someone like that, just to gain their fear and to test them? Gamora would torture if she could gleam information, but not just because.

Then another thought struck her. Was this what Loki meant when he said she was soft-hearted?

"Oh," said Gamora, unable to think of anything better to say. There was an awkward silence, before Gamora spoke again. "So what are you going to do now?" she asked.

"I'm not finished," Loki said finally. "I'm not just getting the Tesseract from Thanos. I demanded something in return." Loki paused before his next statement, and Gamora froze, muscles tensed.

"Thanos…he promised me Midgard," said Loki. "He said he'd give me a portion of his Chitauri army, and with it I could defeat the planet and rule."

Gamora stopped in her tracks, and Loki stopped too, turning towards her, awaiting her response. "You're going to attack a planet." She simply said it, voice flat and toneless. Loki nodded his affirmative.

"Aye," he answered. Gamora rubbed her eyes wearily, and Loki couldn't hide the surprise from his face.

"You aren't going to lecture me?" he asked, and Gamora couldn't tell if he was joking or not.

"What good would it be?" she countered, voice resigned. "It's not like you're going to listen to me, anyway." Gamora slumped against the wall. "But Loki," she asked, "must you do this? Is it necessary?"

Loki's vivid green eyes bored into hers. "You were listening," he said abruptly. "That day, when I was speaking to Nebula. Through the new security cameras. You were listening, weren't you?"

There was no denying what day Loki was talking about. Gamora didn't bother asking how he figured it out, but nodded. "Yes," she replied, wondering where he was going with this.

"Then you know why I need to do this," Loki said, leaning over. His face was inches away from hers.

Gamora had no effective reply, but stared back at him. "Just, just consider what you're doing here," she said at last. "Think of what's at stake."

"I already have," said Loki, voice as cold and hard as ice. Then he turned and walked away, green cloak swirling behind him.

"I guess this is goodbye."

It had just been one day since their last, tension-filled conversation. Loki had send word to Gamora that he was leaving, and though she tried to talk herself out of it, the assassin had been unable to refuse his request to see her.

"I guess so," Loki answered her. He had already began the process to make a portal to Midgard through the Tesseract, and had said the process would take a little under three minutes.

Less than three minutes, to say their goodbyes.

"Stay safe," said Gamora finally. "try not to get yourself killed."

Loki cracked a smile. "You know me," was all he would say.

Silence again. Gamora resisted the urge to bounce on the tips of her toes as the tension grew. What do you say, in an instance such as this?

"I..should leave now," said Gamora, because there was nothing left to be said. She doubted she'd see Loki again, but neither of them were the emotional type, and there was a low chance of there being a tear-filled, last conversation between them.

"Wait," Loki called after her, and Gamora felt a smile creep on her face unwillingly. She knew what was coming.

"Room service," he said, "aren't you going to come get your tip?"

There was a sudden whirlwind of air around her, and suddenly Loki was standing in front of her, faces inches away from hers. He was still taller than her, and Gamora had to look up to meet his eye.

"What is the tip?" she asked stupidly, because at this point, Gamora had no idea what Loki wanted her to do. Loki's lips curled into a smirk.

"Whatever you want it to be," he answered, and Gamora stilled at the heavy implications under that simple, innocent statement.

Now, Gamora knew it was time to face her feelings about Loki.

What were the facts? Gamora liked and admired Loki, his sarcastic, witty way of speaking, his intelligence, and the similar views they shared on pretty much most things. She genuinely enjoyed his company, would even take pleasure in it. He was handsome, too. With a face made of porcelain and those intense green eyes, it was impossible to not say he was attractive. Loki was good-looking, very much so.

Did she like kissing him? Yes, the answer was. It was fun and felt good, too, but there wasn't anything special about his kisses. Gamora didn't crave them, she didn't dream about them. If it was another guy on the other side, it wouldn't make a difference to her. The kiss would still feel arousing if a random guy at a bar was kissing her.

She didn't want him sexually. At least that's what Gamora thought. The things that were said about sexual, romantic love, they didn't apply to her. She didn't desire him, nor did she want his touch or want him to hold her. She didn't fantasize about him, and his gaze didn't arrows pools of desire within her. But Gamora genuinely liked him, and she liked bantering with him too.

But what if love was just exaggerated? What if that was how you were supposed to feel when you were in love? Gamora had no idea, because she had never 'been in love' before.

Does she kiss him? Gamora settled on an instinctive hug, wrapping her arms around him. Loki stiffened instantly, but warmed into it, and hugged back hesitantly.

It was a gentle hug, and a hug was something safe to pick. A hug was something between friends, and it was something between lovers, too.

"Goodbye, Loki," she said, and Loki stopped at the portal, turning to meet her eyes one last time. Then he bowed his head gracefully in acknowledgement of her.

Then he turned around, and stepped through the portal.

A/N - Are you thinking: Is there a sequel to this? Oh my gosh, what happens next?

Well, I'm here to tell you…..Yes. And they even put a movie form to it. Surprise, surprise. It's called the Avengers.

Okay, enough of the sarcasm. Writing about Loki is starting to change my personality, even my family mentions it.

ANNNDDD I'm DONE with my story! Finally! I'm starting a new fic called Strange Alliances starring Loki as usual, I'd love it if you checked it out!

And have a Merry Belated Christmas and a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!