Five Ways to Say I Love You—New Series Coming Soon!
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.
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A/N: This story is all fluff! It’ll be five chapters and features a mute reader (not deaf or hard of hearing). Ask/message me if you’d like to be on the series or permanent tag list! Sneak peak under the cut.
When you handed his now bagged books and receipt to him, an automated voice spoke, “Thank you. Have a nice day.”
It caught Loki by 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-
Five Ways to Say I Love You begins Friday, September 17th!
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So let's talk about the Lost Generation.
This is the generation that came of age during WWI and the 1918 flu pandemic. They witnessed their world collapse in the first war that spread around the globe, and they -- in retrospect, optimistically -- called it the "war to end all wars". And that war was a quagmire. The trenches on the Western Front were notoriously awful, unsanitary and cold and wet and teeming with sickness, and bloody battles were fought to gain or lose a few feet of territory, and all because a series of alliances caused one assassination in one unstable area to spiral into a brutal large-scale war fought on the ground by people who mostly had no personal stake in the outcomes and gained nothing from winning.
On some of the worst-hit battlefields, the land is still too toxic for plant growth.
And on the heels of this horrific war, a pandemic struck. It's often referred to as "the Spanish flu" because Spain was neutral in the war, and so was the first country to admit that their people were dropping like flies. By the time the warring countries were willing to face the disease, it was far too late to contain it.
Anywhere from 50 to 100 million people worldwide would die from it. 675,000 were in the US.
But once it was finally contained -- anywhere from a year to a year and a half later -- the 20s had begun, and they began roaring.
Hedonism abounded. Alcohol flowed like water in spite of Prohibition. Music and dance and art fluorished. It was the age of Dadaism, an artistic movement of surrealism, absurdism, and abstraction. Women's skirts rose and haircuts shortened in a flamboyant rejection of the social norms of the previous decades. It was a time of glitter and glamour and jazz and flash, and (save for the art that was made) it was mostly skin deep.
Everyone stumbled out of the war and pandemic desperate to forget the horrific things they'd seen and done and all that they'd lost, and lost for nothing.
Reality seemed so pointless. It's not a coincidence that the two codifiers of the fantasy genre -- J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis -- both fought in WWI. In fact, they were school friends before the war, and were the only two of their group to return home. Tolkein wanted to rewrite the history of Europe, while Lewis wanted to rebuild faith in the escape from the world.
(There's a reason Frodo goes into the West: physically, he returned to the Shire, but mentally, he never came back from Mordor, and he couldn't live his whole life there. There's a reason three of the Pevensies can never let go of Narnia: in Narnia, unlike reality, the things they did and fought for and believed in actually mattered, were actually worth the price they paid.)
It's also no coincidence that many of the famous artists of the time either killed themselves outright or let their vices do them in. The 20s roared both in spite of and because of the despair of the Lost Generation.
It was also the era of the Harlem Renaissance, which came to the feelings of alienation and disillusionment from a different direction: there was a large migration of Black people from the South, many of whom moved to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. Obviously, the sense of alienation wasn't new to Black people in America, but the cultural shift allowed for them to publicly express it in the arts and literature in ways that hadn't been open to them before.
There was also horrific -- and state-sanctioned -- violence perpetrated against Black communities in this time, furthering the anger and despair and sense that society had not only failed them but had never even given them a chance. The term at the time was shell-shock, but now we know it as PTSD, and the vast majority of the people who came of age between 1910 and 1920 suffered from it, from one source or another.
It was an entire generation of trauma, and then the stock market crashed in 1929. Helpless, angry, impotent in the face of all that had seemingly destroyed the world for them, on the verge of utter despair, it was also a generation vulnerable to despotism. In the wake of all this chaos -- god, please, someone just take control of all this mess and set it right.
Sometimes the person who took over was decent and played by the rules and at least attempted to do the right thing. Other times, they were self-serving and hateful and committed to subjugating anyone who didn't fit their mold.
There are a lot of parallels to now, but we have something they didn't, and that's the fact that they did it first.
We know what their mistakes and sins were. We have the gift of history to see the whole picture and what worked and what failed. We as a species have walked this road before, and we weren't any happier or stronger or smarter about it the first time.
I think I want to reiterate that point: the Lost Generation were no stronger or weaker than Millennials and Gen Z are today. Plenty of both have risen up and fought back, and plenty have stumbled and been crushed under the weight. Plenty have been horribly abused by the people who were supposed to lead them, and plenty have done the abusing. Plenty of great art has been made by both, and plenty of it is escapist fantasy or scathing criticism or inspiring optimism or despairing pessimism.
We find humor in much the same things, because when reality is a mess, both the absurd and the self-deprecating become hilarious in comparison. There's a reason modern audiences don't find Seinfeld as funny as Gen X does, and many older audiences find modern comedy impenetrable and baffling -- they're different kinds of humor from different realities.
I think my point accumulates into this: in spite of how awful and hopeless and pointless everything feels, we do have a guide. We've been through this before, as a culture, and even though all of them are gone now, we have their words and art and memory to help us. We know now what they didn't then: there is a future.
The path forward is a hard one, and the only thing that makes it easier is human connection. Art -- in the most base sense, anything that is an expression of emotion and thought into a medium that allows it to be shared -- is the best and most enduring vehicle for that connection, to reach not just loved ones but people a thousand miles or a hundred years away.
So don't bottle it up. Don't pretend to be okay when you're not. Paint it, sculpt it, write it, play it, sing it, scream it, hell, you can even meme it out into the void. Whatever it takes to reach someone else -- not just for yourself but for others, both present and future.
Because, to quote the inimitable Terry Pratchett, "in a hundred years we'll all be dead, but here and now, we are alive."
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