Author's note: This story is unashamedly self-indulgent, but since I wrote it, I figured I'd share it. Because I think everyone deserves a shot at redemption and a hug. Especially Loki. :)
Disclaimer: Loki is, sadly, not mine. This incarnation of him sort of is, but also owes a lot to interviews I've seen with Tom Hiddleston talking about his thoughts on the depth of the character.
Grass. There was grass under his cheek; it made his face itch. Should he be lying in the grass? He couldn't remember. Actually, now he tried to think about it, there was a lot he didn't remember. Gaping holes in his mind. A shudder ran through him, bone deep. Something was very, very wrong.
He pushed himself to his elbows, raising his head to peer around and try to take stock of where he was. The grass he was lying in was high and unkempt. His hands, long and pale against the brown earth in front of him, were clean. So, he probably hadn't crawled to his present location, wherever it was. There was a dirt track of some sort a few feet away, and he could hear the sound of approaching voices. Caught somewhere between eagerness and panic, he tried to rise but merely fell back with a groan. He wasn't sure if his intention was to greet them or to hide.
The cheerful sound of the voices turned to startled exclamations and he heard the sound of running feet. This was it. He would meet these people whether he wanted to or not. If they proved hostile he was completely in no condition to defend himself. But why should he be so concerned for his safety? Was it a forgotten memory of danger from the time before he was lying here in the grass? What had happened to him? His breath caught in his throat as he felt a hand on his shoulder.
"Sir? Are you all right?" It was a soft voice. A woman's voice, full of concern. With effort he turned his head to look up at her. She had dropped to her knees beside him, and something about the gesture pleased him although he couldn't quite put his finger on why. Still, she was a pleasing sight for quite a number of reasons. Fine, delicate features. A thick cable of dark-red hair had swung forward to pool on the ground beside him. How long must it be? he wondered. Bright green eyes regarded him with curiosity and sympathy.
He should reply, he thought. "I..." He hesitated. "I don't know. I don't remember." Not what he had intended to say. He had intended to brush her off, to keep her from prying too deeply into questions that he was disturbed to find he had no answers for. But something about those bright green eyes on his had changed the words before he had a chance to speak them.
It seemed they were good ones, though. Her brow furrowed with concern. "What don't you remember?" Her voice was quiet, as if trying not to startle him. He bit his lip.
"Anything." The admission cost him, and he dropped his gaze from hers to stare at the puddle of hair instead.
There was a sense of movement nearby and another voice said, "Do you remember your name?" A male voice this one. Strong, but kind. He wasn't used to kindness. He blinked. Where had that thought come from? Why wasn't he?
Disturbed, he turned his attention to the question instead. His name. Did he have a name? He must have. His brow wrinkled as he tried to blunder his way through the foggy landscape of his mind. A word surfaced at last with a welcome surge of familiarity. "Loki," he replied, savouring the feel of the word, the rightness of it. He may not know much, but at least he knew this.
There was a soft sound from the woman beside him. Then he felt soft fingers brush the hair back from his brow and looked up to meet her gaze once more. She was smiling, and it was so infectious that he felt his own lips curve in response. "A pleasure to meet you, Loki," she said. The sound of his name on her tongue was like a balm, soothing away the knot of anxiety in the pit of his stomach. She continued, "I'm Grainne, that's my brother Greg, and his wife Liz." He turned to look where she indicated and cast his eye over the couple standing at the edge of the path. The man was tall and lean, with sandy-brown hair falling in waves to broad shoulders. His wife was almost as tall, with dark hair and a figure he could only think to describe as voluptuous. He smiled at them both before looking back to the young woman beside him. She looked almost frail in comparison, and yet she had been the first one to approach him.
She was looking at the other two now, and the air had an expectant feel to it. He looked between them, understanding that there was some subtle communication going on here but not certain exactly what it was. Eventually Liz nodded and Greg threw up a hand in surrender. "Oh all right," he muttered cryptically. His mouth twisted into a wry grin and he held the hand out. "Come back into town with us, Loki. We'll get you some food, and something to wear, and put you up for the night."
He looked down at himself and realised that whatever he had been wearing had been shredded and even charred in places. He shuddered again. What had happened to him? The hand was still extended, and a glance to the side showed that Grainne was smiling encouragingly at him. Taking a deep breath, he clasped the hand and allowed himself to be hauled to his feet. He was a little taller than Greg, he found. And as for Grainne… he looked down as she twisted gracefully to her feet and smiled. Her head barely reached his shoulder. She looked up at the two men beside her and wrinkled her nose. "I'm surrounded by giants!" she exclaimed in mock dismay. He started to laugh along with the rest, but something in the comment caught at him. He chased the thread of memory in vain, unable to pin it down and get a good look at it.
They were watching him, he realised. No longer laughing, but not condemning either. Just watching him hopefully. When he shook his head, three breaths hissed out in disappointment. "You almost had something, didn't you?" Liz asked. It was the first time he'd heard her speak and her voice was low and earthy. He nodded sadly. "Don't fight it," she advised, patting him on the shoulder. "It'll come when it comes. You seem to have the memory of speech and vocabulary working just fine. Your motor skills seem fine too." He realised that he'd absently fallen into step with his three rescuers as they set off down the path and smiled faintly.
"It's just my memory of everything else that's missing," he grumbled. "Who am I? I know my name, but I don't know anything else. What sort of man am I? How did I end up in that… field? And why don't I remember?" His voice had been rising steadily and this last question came out as a roar, his hands balled into fists as he stalked along. After a short pause, he felt a smaller hand on one of them and looked down as Grainne gently smoothed it open and inserted her own into his grip.
"You are yourself," she said seriously, looking up into his eyes. "Always and only yourself. As Liz said, don't fight it. It will come back eventually. Try different things. Some will feel natural, some won't. You'll find the pieces, bit by bit. And until you do…" She paused and looked at her two companions, who nodded. "…you're welcome to hang with us. If you don't mind travelling, that is."
His mind reeled. Travel with these strangers? These… kind… understanding… supportive… strangers? They had found him at the side of the road, comforted him, offered him aid, and now were offering… what, exactly? Companionship, certainly. A place in their group, which he sensed was very close-knit. Did he want that? Could he handle that? They hadn't flinched from his anger. Grainne had reached out to him despite it and offered compassion and her hand. He looked down at their two hands twined together. Both so pale and slender, but he felt positively robust against her tininess. He closed his eyes for a moment and drew in a deep breath. "Thank you." His voice sounded weak to his ears, but the small hand in his gave a brief squeeze and Greg clapped him on the shoulder.
"Welcome to the family, mate!"