Author's note: Well, long couple of days, wasn't it. *blush* Sorry for the delay. It's been... odd... around here. Anyway, huge thanks to anyone who's still reading this. You're awesome and I love you!

In other news, I've also posted the first chapter of the sequel to this story. Check out my profile for "Six Weeks Later" for more adventures with Loki and Karla.

Loki opened his eyes to see the moon hanging low over the trees and smiled in wonder. He hadn't meant to fall asleep, but it had been so nice to just lie there with Karla cradled against him. So peaceful. He'd always considered 'peaceful' to be overrated and usually synonymous with 'dull', but perhaps it had its attractions after all. She was still curled up on him, asleep as well, and he allowed himself a moment to savour the display of trust and affection.

It had been a night full of surprises, he mused. Her interest in him. Her desire for him. Her acceptance and understanding. Her completely unexpected magical talent. And, perhaps even more unexpectedly, her firm belief that he deserved pleasure in his own right, beyond what pleasure he could get out of someone else's. He smiled as he played with a drifting curl of her hair. It was a dangerously seductive thought. A pity she seemed to be unique in that belief.

He glanced again at the night sky and sighed. Time and more that he was getting back - he'd never intended to be gone this long and he didn't want any questions into his whereabouts. Especially now. It would have caused trouble enough if it was found that he had come to Midgard merely for the swim he'd intended. Now that any potential trouble was likely to fall on Karla as well... No, best she remained his secret for now. Besides, he rather enjoyed secrets.

At his first nudge, she muttered something unintelligible and only shifted against him. Chuckling, he nudged her again and whispered, "Karla? Wake now, my sweet."

She shifted again, then craned her neck to look up at him. "Did I fall asleep on you?" she asked softly. "Sorry."

"We both fell asleep," Loki replied with a smile. "It's late now. Early, rather." His smile faded. "I have to leave soon."

Karla sighed. "Well, I always knew I wasn't going to get to keep you. Wish we hadn't fallen asleep though. Feels like time wasted that I could have been enjoying your company." She dropped a kiss on his collar-bone and grinned. "You do make a nice bed though."

He laughed and tightened his arms around her. "I'll admit, it was the nicest awakening I've had in a very long time. It's pleasant, you lying across me like this, so soft and relaxed and trusting..." He stifled a wince, not meaning to have added that last one, especially when Karla shot him a too-knowing look and reached up to trace the curve of his jaw.

"Always," she whispered, her smile gentle. Even as he cursed himself silently for betraying so much of himself, she stretched up to brush her lips against his. He was tempted to roll her over and bury himself inside her one last time before he left, but he saw her wince as she shifted position and frowned in concern. She saw his expression and shook her head ruefully. "Just a little sore," she admitted.

"I hurt you?" A small corner of his mind wondered why that idea bothered him so much. He'd hurt people before, both deliberately and unintentionally, and it usually only troubled him if it stopped him from doing or getting something he wanted. Yet now he found himself wishing he knew more of healing so he could undo whatever damage he'd done, and he didn't even know what he'd done!

Her smile, though, was equal parts embarrassment and amusement as she replied, "Let's just say that areas that haven't seen much action in a while suddenly got a whole lot of action and are launching a protest." Understanding dawned and he smirked. That wasn't so bad as he'd feared, and she didn't seem particularly upset about it either. Of course, neither his decision to return to Asgard nor his reluctance to cause her further discomfort prevented him from rolling them both over and plundering her mouth thoroughly when she stuck her tongue out at him in response. They were both breathless and laughing when he finally let up his assault. Karla brushed a lock of hair from his cheek and gave him one of those wicked smiles. "If you're going to go, you should probably go now. Otherwise I might just tie you up and take you back to my hotel room."

He chuckled and raised one eyebrow in amusement. "I thought you said you were sore?" he teased.

"Hence the tying up, so I can save you for later," she replied.

Loki swallowed hard, his mind unhelpfully supplying an image of himself tied to a bed while she tormented him beyond all reason. Ordinarily that would be a scene from a nightmare - he'd always hated being at the mercy of another, no matter who or why. And yet... the thought of submitting to Karla's desires like that wasn't as off-putting as he would have expected. In fact, part of him found the idea oddly intriguing, which was disconcerting in itself. He shook his head with a small grin. "Let's leave that for another day, shall we?" he suggested.

She heaved an overly-dramatic sigh, "If we must." Her voice was warm and amused behind the comically-resigned words and he chuckled and kissed her again. It was an effort of will to make himself release her and clamber to his feet. She accepted the hand he held out to her and allowed him to draw her up beside him, but a crease in her forehead and a twist to her lips suggested she was thinking hard. Before he had a chance to query her, she looked up at him and said, "I probably won't be here when you come back. If you come back, I mean." She flushed as she corrected herself. "I'm travelling for a while, so I'll be miles away in a day or two."

He nodded. "I'll find you," he promised. "It's not that hard." Her face lit up with a brilliant smile and he couldn't help smiling back. "Until next time..." He bent to give her a last, lingering kiss before stepping back into the shadows of the trees. Taking a deep breath, he focussed his thoughts on his chambers and headed for home. With luck he'd be back without anyone being any the wiser, and he'd have an hour or two to lie and bask in the pleasant memories before he had to don his court mask once more.

Until next time, that is.