Author's note: This was originally going to be a quick one-shot full of fluff and smut, written because being inside my head with a naked Loki was better than dealing with the real world. Then it grew, and got philosophical (although there's still plenty of fluff and smut!) and sort of got out of hand. Which I guess is only to be expected when dealing with the God of Mischief. So in honour of the fact that The Dark World opens here tomorrow, I share it with you and hope you find it as entertaining to read as I did to write. Since it's mostly written and just being edited, I hope to be able to post a chapter every couple of days or so.

For context, this is set in the wake of the new movie, and so may become AU very soon.

Disclaimer: If you recognise it, I (sadly) don't own it.

He stood in the light of the full moon and looked out over the still waters of the mountain lake. The warm night breeze whispered over his bare skin and ruffled his dark hair. The rocks under his feet still held a little of the day's warmth. It was peaceful here in this little valley, with the moonlight washing the colour from everything and creating strange and contradictory shadows. A fine night for a swim and some time away from the strain of his day-to-day life. He raised his arms over his head in preparation to dive when a small sound caught his attention - a soft intake of breath somewhere behind him.

He spun to look for the source, arms dropping to brace against a possible attack. The scene was peaceful at first glance, but... was that movement under the trees? His eyes narrowed. So much for an evening of respite. "You can't hide from me," he called softly, his voice beguiling but with an edge of steel. He moved forward slowly, carefully, fully intending to go in under the trees if necessary to discover who was spying on him.

Instead, a small figure stepped from the shadows to stand before him. His lips pursed as he studied her. A fine, shapely body clad in a short shift. A small bag at her side with a wad of fabric bulging from the top. Hair piled up on top of her head, with only a few long tendrils escaping confinement to blow about her face. Quite a lovely face, too, he decided, with wide eyes over high cheekbones and a sensuous mouth. It was the way she was looking at him, however, that drew him another step closer. Something about the impression she gave of being unable to look away.

"My apologies, sir," she said softly. "I hadn't expected to find anyone else here tonight. I'll... find somewhere else to swim."

If she had seemed fearful he might have let her go, he thought later. Then again, he might not have. But she sounded regretful more than anything else, and she still hadn't taken her eyes from him. Even in the moonlight he could see the high colour in her cheeks as her gaze travelled over him lingeringly before returning to meet his own. Another step closer, and he smiled as he saw a shiver pass over her skin. "Not yet," he told her. "What's your name, little one?"

"It's Karla, sir." She licked her lips, a sudden darting of the tongue that he found oddly riveting, then asked, "And yours?"

Her boldness pleased him - shrinking violets were seldom as much fun as you'd expect - even as it saddened him. He would give her his name, and she would recall his previous exploits in this realm, and she would run from him. Well, best get it over with. "I am Loki."

The young woman's eyes widened, which he had expected. So did her smile, which he hadn't. "Oh," she gasped. "That explains it!"

He felt as if he'd just missed a step. This was not the reaction he had anticipated, although it was a far more welcome one. Curious, he asked, "Explains what?"

Her cheeks coloured further as she replied with a certain amount of embarrassment, "Why you're so magnificent. I mean, you're a god."

It had been a long time since he'd been surprised into genuine laughter, but it burst from him now in a peal of delight. Perhaps tonight isn't lost after all. This one's fun. "Then why do you wish to leave so soon?" he teased. "There's room for us both to swim here. You are... a little overdressed, however."

Karla stared at him in silence for a moment, long enough that he started to wonder if he had misjudged her, then her lips curved in a smile of wicked pleasure and she dropped her bag to the ground beside her. "You have a point," she said. "Let me do something about that." There was both laughter and challenge in her eyes as she began to slip the light shift from her shoulders.

Now Loki found himself the one unable to look away. Her bared flesh was as pale as his own, pale enough to almost glow in the moonlight. She wore nothing under the shift but a scrap of something filmy around her hips and soon it too slid down her legs to pool around her ankles. She delicately lifted one foot, then the other, and stood before him as naked as he was. Desire stirred in him and he moved to circle her, keeping her off-balance as he reached out to remove the pins from her hair and let it cascade around her shoulders.

She laughed as he came to a halt in front of her. Her fingers flexed and she looked for a moment as if she would turn away, but instead she peeked up at him from under long lashes and asked, "May I touch you?"

"Do you want to?" His voice sounded unusually rough to his ears.


"Then yes." Now it was his turn to shiver as she placed her hands hesitantly on his chest and slid them up over his shoulders. The look of concentration on her face made him smile even as her tentative caresses made his breath hitch. As she ran her nails lightly along his collar-bones and back down his chest he bit back a groan and rested his own hands at her waist. He let his thumbs stroke the soft skin gently, but he didn't want to disrupt that delightful concentration. Didn't want to do anything that might make her stop stroking him. In all of his years he had never had anyone explore him with such delicacy or focus, and it was a delicious sensation. This is dangerous, whispered the part of his mind that was forever watching and analysing. You're not in control here.

His breath hissed as the gentle fingers ventured further down over his stomach, his sides, around his waist to glide up his back. Her own breathing, he was pleased to note, was just as ragged. This slow exploration was affecting her as powerfully as it was him, and his lips curved in a slow smile. I have enough, he decided. And she's just a mortal. Not a threat. But she will be mine, completely, before the night is over. The thought pleased him and his hands tightened on her enough to make her gasp.

Even as he relaxed his grip - mortals could break so easily - she looked up at him with that wicked smile. "Impatient?" she asked softly, her eyes sparkling with delight. She ran her nails lightly over the curve of his hip before brushing teasing fingers down his groin.

He didn't stop to think. His hands were still at her waist and he lifted her easily into a crushing embrace as his mouth descended on hers. There was no delicacy here. No finesse. Just desire, and need, and the glorious feeling of soft curves against him and small hands clutching at his shoulders and burying themselves in his hair. She had dealt with his lifting her from the ground by wrapping her legs around his waist as she returned his kisses. This meant that she was pressed against him in a way that threatened to undo the last of his already tenuous self-control, and it took a monumental effort to lift his mouth from hers and examine her.

She was flushed and panting for breath, her eyes bright, her lips swollen from his assault but smiling. He was never sure afterwards what prompted him to make the offer - whether it was a rare need for fair play or that he was testing her desire to see how true it ran - but somehow he ground out, "I will give you this one chance."

"To do what?" For the first time, she looked worried.

"To leave." The words were little more than a growl, and he had to swallow hard before he could continue. "I let go, you gather your things, and you run and don't look back." His chest clenched painfully as he spoke. Maybe I truly am insane?

"And if I don't?" Her eyes had narrowed, but she hadn't let go of him yet. "If I stay?"

A surge of excitement shot through him. His voice dropped to a seductive purr. "Then I will make you mine. I will tease you and tempt you until you're begging me for release. I will find all of your secret places, the places where the lightest touch will see you writhing in pleasure, and I will play upon them until you are so, so close to the edge it drives you mad. Then, finally, when you can stand no more, I will take you and make you cry out in such ecstasy as you have never known." With a smile as wicked as any of hers had been, he leaned his head down to whisper in her ear, "I will ruin you for all other men." His tongue flicked against the edge of her jaw and she whimpered and bucked in his arms.

"I think you already have," she gasped. She pulled back to meet his eyes once more. "Just the fact that I'm here, naked and in your arms and desperately wishing you'd kiss me again, within a few minutes of meeting you..." She shook her head with a look of wonder. "I don't know what you're doing to me, Loki, but I want it. I want you."

He didn't know if she had intended to say more, because that last whispered admission snapped the final fetters on his self control and he claimed her mouth again in another bruising kiss.