There was no use in dwelling on the what-ifs of life. What had been done had been done. He hated going and forth from his sadness and guilt. It was like the emotions were an ocean and was being pulled towards the bottom.
Loki pondered over many things; his long existence, the murder on his hands, where he was headed, and the fate of those he held dear. His older self made sure that the cycle of chaos would not be broken, and even though Loki tried to resist in any way he could, he knew that someday he would snap back into the madness.
There was one what-if that had crossed his mind lately. It was about the only friend he had ever had. Leah. It was because of him that she was sent away, that he earned her hate, that he most likely would never see her again.
What-if she stayed?
Could she have helped him stop me?
Would we still be friends?
What would we be doing now?
It did not take much to trigger the what-ifs. Seeing a group of kids in their early teens walking from school, the same age they had been not so long ago. Laughing as they chatted, swinging their bags and backpacks back behind them. They lived in the moment, with no issues to plague them except for superficial ones. These Midgardian children did not need to worry about the fate of the universe, or of the unspeakable actions and the consequences of one’s past self. He envied them. He wished he --no the other one, and Leah had more time to truly be children. They would watch all the movies, drink all the milkshakes, and browse the internet as much as they’d like, and other things that children did.
Then he’d see his peers, in their late teens and early twenties. They acted like the younger kids except for one thing. He’d see a pair hand in hand or arm in arm, sneaking in hugs and kisses when no one was looking.
He had feelings for Leah, most likely carried over from the other Loki. Both of them were too young and too immature at the time to act on their feelings. What the two needed was time; and Loki knew that the two would eventually have ended up together. They would have held hands as they walked, perhaps sneaking in a hug or a kiss just like the other couples.
Loki was certain he would never see Leah again. He thought he had, but it turned out to be a lie, just his imagination acting up. And even though he dreamed, he knew that day would never come.
He had been doing some investigating of his own about his future self. He was directed to a shop that specialized in the occult and was told that one of the salesclerks did business with the king. His heart stopped as he saw the figure make her way down the stairs. Tall, around his age, wearing a green dress, with long flowing black hair with two bones that crisscrossed that the top. Loki froze. The woman stopped at the last step and glared at him.
“Leah!” He exclaimed.
She was real. She was alive. And his feelings remerged stronger than ever.
“Loki,” Leah responded coolly.
“How did you—how did you get out of the ancient past?”
“I had my ways.”
“No,” Loki whispered. “Don’t tell me you—“
“And why do you suddenly care?” Her eyes narrowed.
“Leah you can’t trust him!” Loki exclaimed. “He’s—“
“Don’t you dare lecture me about trust,” she hissed as she stepped down from the staircase.
“I did what I had to do!” Loki explained. “I couldn’t get you involved!”
“It doesn’t matter now! We’ve grown! We should put the past behind us! I did and so should you!”
The young woman stopped and glanced over him. Her expression changed from anger to fear.
“Who are you?” She asked suspiciously.
“Leah it’s me! Loki!”
“You’re not my Loki.”
Loki froze once more.
“I am Loki.”
“You’re not. The real Loki would never admit that he put his past behind him. His past defined him too much to ever let go. And even if he lied, he would never demand that I do the same.”
There was a tense pause. The room was silent except for Leah’s shallow breaths. Her body tensed up, her cheeks flushed a deep crimson, and her mouth opened:
“What did you do to him?”
He did not answer.
“What did you do to him?” She shouted.
He stared straight into her emerald green eyes.
“You know what I did Leah,” his voice was choked up. “I think you know, deep down, what happened after Hela sent you away. You had a feeling that something was wrong with him. That maybe he was in trouble. And you were right.”
She was standing next to the counter. It took her a second to realize what he meant. Her face turned pale. Her hand clutched at the desk.
“I didn’t want to do it,” he said in a low voice.
“You bastard!” She shrieked. “Stop with the lies! You wanted this!”
“I didn’t!” Loki shouted, his eyes welling with tears.
“He was my friend!”
Leah began to sob. The girl had cried before, but never like this. Her body shook violently, she screamed, it almost looked like as if she were about to loose her balance. He had turned away from her, weeping.
“All the same! You are all the same!” She wailed. “You took away everything I cared about! Everything!”
Loki faced her, his voice soft.
“He wanted to protect you.”
She did not respond.
“I wish I could change things—I’m not lying. I wish I hadn’t done what I did.”
He took a step towards her. He noticed that she did not make a move to evade him.
“He cared about you so much Leah. You were one of the most important people to him.”
Loki was in front of her. He placed a hand on her shoulder.
“He wanted to give you something. He—he wanted to but never got the chance. I want to do it for him.”
Loki leaned in and kissed her. Her lips were soft, just as he had always imagined. His heart pounded, and a mixture of love and sadness washed over him. Leah did not react. She did not push him away nor did she kiss him back. Her tears fell harder and mingled with his’. He pulled away with a shaky exhale.
“Go,” Leah whispered.
He gazed at her. His finger lingered as it wiped away a tear under her eyes. His lips parted as if he wanted to say one last thing, but stopped. He briskly walked away and exited the store.