Five Ways To Say I Love You
Pairing: Loki x reader
Series Summary: When you become the new owner of Loki’s favorite bookstore, your quiet nature draws him in. Soon, he learns you can’t speak at all. As you grow closer, the god learns ways to say “I love you” without even saying anything at all.
Chapter Summary: Meeting you helps Loki come out of his shell. Just a little.
Chapter Warnings: Loki’s an anxious bean; fluff
A/N: To distinguish between English and sign, anything that’s italicized within quotation marks is sign language. Hope you enjoy!
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Listening is love in action.
Loki wasn’t a fan of crowds. They gave him anxiety. In that way, the city would never grow on him.
But for as much as he hated those crowded streets, he knew that an amusement park would be worse. His fellow Avengers had tried to convince him with videos and reviews and whatnot. Thor even compared it to one of Asgard’s fairs. Loki wasn’t particularly a fan of those either, for much the same reason as why going out of the Tower caused his hands to shake.
It all worked out in the end; someone needed to be available at home base and Loki was just touched they all cared so much as to try to convince him to come. Besides, some alone time never hurts. Not to mention the blissful peace and quiet.
The nervous god hummed, the song playing through his earbuds under his breath. These walks were good for him, that’s what his therapist said. Still, he couldn’t quite relax. Not when he was still given glares and wary glances from people passing on the street. It wasn’t everyone, but it was enough.
Just another left, then two rights, he thought. That’s it and then I’ll be there.
Sure enough, minutes later, he’d arrived at his destination. The Book Nook, the sign proudly read in its faded paint. There was another sign today, though. One printed plainly on paper, taped to the window. Under new management.
He was greeted by the familiar tinkling of the bell hanging above the door. At least that hadn’t changed. Nor had the familiar scent of books, both used and new. Yes, Loki quoted liked this book shop.
Now this was a crowd he could handle. Just a few people walking amongst the shelves, almost always only one person on line at a time. It was small, cozy, and quaint. Loki could only hope this new management wouldn’t ruin that.
He perused the aisles as always, with no preference, just waiting for a title or two to call out to him. Then it would be off to the cafe across the street for a coffee, and perhaps a pastry, if he felt like treating himself. Ah, but today there was a certain obstacle. The new owner. The one working the cash register. You.
Loki had gotten used to the previous owner. He was an elderly man, a little rotund and all his wrinkles dressing from his constant smile. Ed, he’d told Loki to call him when the god started frequenting the store enough to be a familiar face. Loki had never quite figured out what that was for, though, if anything.
Ed used to keep a framed photo of his family behind the register. He’d mentioned to Loki once or twice how he’d like to move close to them again, spend some more time with his grandkids. Well, Loki hoped that was the case, anyway. The other option wasn’t too pleasant to think about. If only missions hadn’t set him back on his reading, he may have been around to say goodbye to Ed.
Now he had to get used to someone again. Had to interact with them. Maybe he really should just switch to ebooks. But they just didn’t have the same feel, cause the same joy. He’d just have to gather his courage, stop hiding around the corner of one of the shelves, and just check out. And he would. Just as soon as everyone else cleared out.
You gave him a smile as warm as the air outside as he approached the register. In return, he mustered a small grin through his nerves. Other than that, he avoided looking at you as much as possible. You rang him up quickly and quietly.
When you handed his now bagged books and receipt to him, an automated voice spoke, “Thank you. Have a nice day.”
It caught Loki be surprise, and he looked up in his shock to find you still smiling and now waving goodbye. “You too,” he mumbled, retreating from the store.
Today, he took his coffee to go. And yes, he did get himself an extra treat too for getting through the interaction. Coffee and boxed up matcha cream puff in hand, the god hurried back through the streets and into the Tower.
Settling on his rug, cocooned in his favorite fuzzy blanket (it was green, of course), Loki fiddled with TV remote. He’d been doing a Studio Ghibli marathon, and next up was My Neighbor Totoro. Still, he hesitated before hitting play.
“FRIDAY,” he called out.
“Yes, Mr. Laufeyson?” the AI responded.
Loki cringed at the name. It was his own choice, though, something he was trying out while the others were away. He wanted to come to terms with his origins. It was just hard. He may ask her to just go back to calling him plain old “Loki.”
“Did we receive any messages while I was out?”
“None, and no threats were detected. Would you like to send a message?”
“That is fine, thank you.”
“Of course. Let me know if you need something, Mr. Laufeyson.”
Finally, Loki played the movie, polishing off his pastry within the first few minutes. By the time the film finished, Loki felt a sense of hope in his chest as he snuggled with his snake plushie. It had been a gift from Peter. Loki was quite touched when the spiderling had remembered his birthday. After days of brainstorming, the god finally settled on Noodle for its name.
Unfortunately, something else came with the end of the movie. Silence. A silence filled with his thoughts that decided to wander to you. Perhaps he should have been put off by your silence, perhaps others were. But honestly, he was thankful for it. It made the whole situation easier. Though, one thing still bothered him; Why exactly had you not spoken?
Was it him? Did you recognize him and decide to give him the silent treatment? No, that didn’t make sense; you were so kind otherwise and even had that message at the ready. So then-
“Mr. Laufeyson, this is your pre-set reminder to eat some dinner,” FRIDAY abruptly cut off his thoughts.
He frowned, having set no such reminder. “Who did that?”
“Your brother asked me to remind you daily in his absence.”
The frown softened. “I had a cream puff.”
“Mr. Odinson asked that I insist. He has prepared a list of reasons as to why you should eat. Reason one: It is important to keep your strength up for missions. Reason two: the team cares about you. Reason three-”
“Very well. You win. Or, Thor wins, I suppose. I shall go eat. Just play some music, please,” he requested, not wanting to get lost in thought again. Besides, he knew his brother was right; he should eat. He draped his plushie around his shoulders. “Come along on then Noodle, let us raid the pantries.”
Two days was a new record for time between bookstore visits, Loki was sure. But he was also sure he couldn’t get you out of his head. There was something about you he hadn’t been able to put a word to until this morning. You had a certain air that didn’t make Loki’s hands sweat just having to talk to you. Soothing, he realized, the word was.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed into the store. If only he hadn’t needed so much time to convince himself to come, maybe he would have arrived at a time when it was less busy. He made his way to the back of the store and waited for everyone else to filter out, as usual.
Hello. How are you? he rehearsed in his head for the umpteenth time as he approached the register. Nice place you have here. My name is Loki. And you are?
Alas, by the time he reached you, he just stared at his shoes again. Perhaps it was better to just wait for that automated voice again and be on his way. You either couldn’t or didn’t want to speak, and maybe you didn’t want to befriend him either. He shouldn’t force himself on you. No, it’d be better if he just went home to agonize over the situation in silence. It seemed you had other plans.
You slid a letter to Loki over the counter so he would see it. The envelope had his name on it, so with a glance at you and a hesitant hand, he took it and looked at what was inside.
It was from Ed. Loki had been right and he’d moved to be closer to his family, thank the Norns. The little farewell message also expressed Ed’s gratitude for the work Loki did as an Avenger, further warming his heart. And finally, taped to the bottom of the page was a gift card for The Book Nook. Giving back for all the money Loki had spent at the place throughout the years, Ed had wrote.
Taking a deep breath, Loki looked up at you, not quite making eye contact. He fiddled with the drawstrings on his sweat jacket.
“Thank you,” he said as loud as he could manage. “Would you mind waiting here just a moment?”
You shook your head that no, you didn’t mind, and Loki went back into the aisles. He stumbled upon something he hadn’t seen before, a section you must have added. A section with plushies. He bit his lip, considering, but there was a Totoro plushie. Loki had so enjoyed the movie, and he had the gift card to pay for it.
Before he could worry another minute over seeming too childish, he grabbed the stuffed animal and headed back to the register. Your reaction made him feel silly for ever worrying at all.
“I love Studio Ghibli, too,” you signed, hands moving fast in your excitement.
You sheepishly smiled, before going to type something out. When Loki replied, you looked up im delighted astonishment.
“I have not seen all of them yet, but I love them too.”
“You know sign language?!”
In all honesty, Loki hadn’t realized that he did or that he’d even signed just now. Turns out the Allspeak extended to this too. It made sense considering this was a language, after all; the “speak” part of that term shouldn’t be interpreted so literally.
“Yes. Well, it is a bit more complicated than that, I suppose...” he answered, this time using his voice. “But for all intents and purposes, yes. Yes, I do.”
You finished ringing him up, the automated voice giving the same message as last time. You had a final question for Loki before he left. “Would you like to hang out later?”
He was caught off guard, but he had to admit, the idea was rather lovely. “Yes. Where should I meet you?”
You gave him the name of a place around the corner and a time to get there, signed off with your name. The plan was to grab some dinner together, just a casual get together. There was an odd mix of pride and bashfulness in his chest when Loki told FRIDAY he didn’t need a dinner reminder today; he had made plans to eat already.
On the walk to the restaurant, Loki began to panic. If he’d gotten your number, he would have texted you and said he’d come down with something. Ah, but that wouldn’t be fair to you, anyway. Silvertongue was the name he’d earned back on Asgard, and indeed he could weave quite the stories and lies when the situation called for it. But when it was something so casual, he found his mouth dry and palms sweaty. He wondered, then, would it be better to speak or sign?
Upon arriving at his destination, he saw you already waiting outside the door, waving when you spotted him. He quickly and subtly dried his palms before returning the greeting.
The vibe of the restaurant was very relaxed, but the two of you were anything but. It wasn’t until you’d already begun picking at your meals that you decided to try to break the tension.
“How was your afternoon?” you signed.
Loki’s hands shook a little as he replied, “Fine. And yours?”
“Busy. I had a new shipment of books come in.”
Loki debated in his mind a moment. “Would you like help unpacking them?”
“I’m sure you have hero stuff to do, and I wouldn’t want to bother you.” You looked sheepish.
Loki thought about that word. Hero. How odd to have it applied to him. He didn’t much consider himself one.
“I have no plans. But there is no pressure if you still want to say no,” he hurried to add.
“Oh, well, if you’re sure, then yes. I would like some help.”
The two of you settled on heading over once you were done eating. In the meantime, you began to discuss other things. Likes and dislikes. Stories and anecdotes. Childhoods and families. Well, Loki didn’t leave some of his past out, but he didn’t feel comfortable being so vulnerable. Besides, no need to bring the mood down.
You had a lot in common, much to Loki’s delight. He did love the Avengers dearly; they were his friends and found family. That didn’t mean he had many similarities to them. No, it seemed trauma was the main thing that bonded them together, he realized with a sort of rue.
When you finally made your way to the store, you both unpacked the boxes in silence. It was pleasant and companionable rather than the awkwardness of earlier. It wasn’t that you’d run out of things to talk about. There was still plenty. It would take more time to deal with the shipment, though, if you kept pausing to sign. Still, you invited Loki to talk since he could use his voice. He declined, uncomfortable to do so and worried he’d bore you.
After five or so minutes, Loki decided to put on some music. He worked better with some background noise. Pulling out his phone, he saw a message from Thor. There had been no tone to indicate its arrival because Loki kept his phone on silent.
The older brother was just checking in, making sure everything was alright. Loki replied that yes, it was, and against his better judgment added, he was with a new friend. Thor told him to put on the ‘making new friends’ playlist he’d sent him a while back. Loki scrolled through it, but ultimately put on an album you’d both mentioned liking. It seemed more fitting.
You danced a little as the melody filled your shop. Loki would peer at you shyly from around the other side of the bookcase, and ponder what would have happened if he was around when Ed was selling. Maybe he would have brought the place. Maybe you would have wandered in. But he’d never have been brave enough to invite you anywhere or start any conversation.
He was glad you were the one who became the new owner.
Once the books were shelved and stored, Loki decided he was ready to head back home. He didn’t want to overstay his welcome, and he didn’t want to overwhelm himself with interaction either.
“Would you like me to walk you home?” he offered, ever the gentleman.
“Actually, I live above the store.” You smiled resplendently at him. “Thank you for today, Loki. People tend to find it too much trouble to listen to me, and would rather just have me listen to them. Thank you for not being like that.”
Loki’s heart broke a little. “I am so sorry they did that. You are captivating.” He blushed as he continued, “Text me if you ever want to meet again.”
With a flourish of his hand and a flash of green, Loki produced a piece of paper with his number on it. You took it and grinned, thanking him once more before quickly jotting your own number down on the back of a stray piece of paper. Though, it wasn’t until he walked out that he realized what had just happened: He’d extended the invitation to you! Sure, it was general and vague, but he put himself out there. He thought he deserved a pat on the back.
About a week later, he was laying in his bed, Noodle and Totoro hugged to his chest, scrolling through memes. It was well past midnight, but insomnia had claimed him long ago. Usually it was tedious, but tonight, he was glad he was up. A notification appeared on his screen, a text from you.
Biting his lip, he replied simply.
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