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Just Let Me Go

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The moment Sif and the Warriors Three enter the throne room, Loki knows exactly what they will ask for, and feels a rising sense of exasperation. Can they not see what Thor's foolishness has led too?

While he has to admit that watching them kneel is rather satisfying, for the most part, Loki is simply annoyed. He has much more important business than arguing about Father's decree.

Maybe Thor will finally learn something on Midgard. Though if the centuries of Loki telling him to think for just one second before rushing headlong into some danger or other have not worked, Loki does not think the mortals will have much luck either.

However, Thor's absence means Loki has a chance. Not at the throne, not really. If Thor ever learns the value of caution and wisdom, Loki will let him have it back. But Loki has a chance for Father. So Father can see Loki as a proper son and not (a monster) a peace treaty.

Already, plans are beginning to form. Loki has to ensure Thor's continued presence on Midgard, for his plans will not work if his brother (not-brother, never-brother) returns prematurely. Which means the four in front of him, still ever-loyal to Thor, cannot seek Thor out. At least, not for a few days.

Until he figures how to deal with Jotunheim.

And Laufey.

He has to take care of Laufey first (because he has to prove he is loyal to only one father, he cannot have that MONSTER for a father) and he has to do it visibly. Then Jotunheim. And the only way to take care of Jotunheim will be to destroy it utterly. Now all Loki has to do is figure out how to bring Laufey to Asgard and use the Bifrost without anyone interfering.

And both Laufey and Jotunheim will be gone.

Then it will not matter what he is, because all the monsters will be dead, and Father and Mother and Thor and Asgard will see he can be just like them. How can he be a Jotun, if there are none left? How can they think him one of those beasts, if Loki treats them as Thor always has?

(How can Thor and Asgard kill him, call for his head, if he can show them he is like the rest of the Æsir?)

While Loki could put his time to much better use than reassuring his friends (or perhaps just Thor's friends), he supposes he has to deal with them eventually. He launches into his prepared explanations once they ask, finishing with “...for the good of Asgard,” and waits for their reactions. Surely it is a reasonable enough argument for them to stay put for the next several days.

Though it seems his tone is a bit too smug, for Sif shoots up, probably ready to march right up to him and demand Thor's return. As if Loki could undo Father's enchantments.

(As if Loki would let Thor back before he could prove himself Ás).

Luckily Fandral and Hogun have the presence of mind to hold her back.

“Yes, of course,” Fandral answers for the four.

“Good. Then you will wait for my word.” Loki hopes they will listen to him. For once.

“If I may...,” Loki hears from the side, and wants to sigh. Or maybe not. Glancing towards Volstagg, he feels a strange prickling climbing over his skin (probably from frustration because they never listen where Thor is concerned). He waits for Volstagg to make whatever plea he thinks can change Loki's mind.

But Volstagg does not continue. Instead, he trails off and stares at Loki, mouth agape and eyes slowly growing wider. He seems stunned. In fact, all four of them look as if they took a particularly bad shock from Mjolnir, rooted in place and staring at him with their eyes bulging out.

Loki frowns. “What is it?”

And with those words, it seems as if a spell holding them in place breaks.

The Warriors Three leap to their feet, hands reaching for absent weapons as Sif starts forward. But she halts abruptly after one step, as if unsure. “Loki,” she says hesitantly, face somewhere between fear, and confusion.

Loki does not have time to puzzle out her expression before he hears movement at his back. He looks over his shoulder in time to see the Einherjar guards a lot closer than he remembers them and one of them swinging his spear. Then there's a sharp pain in the back of his knees as his legs are swept out from under him.

He falls, tumbling down the steps, helmet flying off, coming to rest right in front of a shocked Sif. She and the Three do nothing except stare, even Hogun losing his grim expression in place of something akin to horror.

And as a spike of fear goes through his chest, Loki thinks he knows why.

He tries to raise himself to his elbows, bringing up a hand, just high enough so he can see.

His hands are a hideous blue, raised scars marring the smooth flesh, his nails stained black.

Oh.

Oh no, no no no no no this can't be, not now, not ever no NO NONO

The Einherjar, the same one that knocked him off the steps, places a boot on his chest and drives him to the floor, angling his spear at Loki's throat. The other Einherjar kicks Gungnir from Loki's limp (blue) fingers and stands beside at the ready, spear directed near his companion's.

Loki cannot breath. He does not think it's from the boot on his chest.

Everything seems unreal Perhaps he is dreaming. He is passed out in the vault, instead of Father, and this is not real, it can't be real, it can't be real.

“Loki?” he hears Fandral say, still staring down at him from off to the right. As if he doesn't know how Loki has turned into the blue creature before him. “Is that – are you–”

“Is – is this a joke?” Volstagg stutters. He seems torn between helping Loki up and joining the Einherjar. Hogun is staring at him, as if calculating possibilities, none of them good.

Sif steps forward, fists clenched and face white. “If this is a trick Loki, I swear, I will hang you upside-down from the Bifrost until you pass out, king or not.” Her voice is hard, disgusted and frightened all at once.

The Einherjar with the spear at his throat demands, “If this is the result of magic, then reverse it. Immediately.”

Loki's mind feels like a of maelstrom panic and possibilities. He stares up at the four, trying to think of an answer, a good answer, one where his friends don't stare at him like he's something out of a nightmare (a monster), something they would sooner strike down with their blades and axes and maces than call a friend.

He can say it is a curse, but any learned sorcerer could tell a spell had been removed, not applied.

He can say it is a trick.

But he does not know what has happened to his skin. He does not know how to get his skin back (though this is his skin, his real flesh underneath the comforting illusion bequeathed by Father), he doesn't know how to change back, he doesn't know.

But an illusion, he can create an illusion of his skin, though they will not believe him, and they will find another sorcerer to verify his claims.

So he will have to run. Run away and hide until he, or Father, or Mother, can make up a story–

“The King is dead!”

Loki's mind goes still. As one, he and the other six look towards the source of the shout, which is accompanied by a pair of hurried footsteps. In the space between Hogun and Fandral, Loki can see a young guard coming over the rise of the steps.

“The King,” the guard repeats, breathless and shaken. “Odin Allfather, is dead! The King –” the guard's sentence cuts off in a gasp and he stops, gawking at the scene before him. The Einherjar and the four most noble warriors of Asgard, gathered around a Jotun in Ás clothing.

Loki does not spare much thought for the man's surprise.

Father is dead.

Father, whom he loves and wanted to be loved by, whom he only wanted to please. Who used to pay attention when Loki was young and when he would show Father his newest bit of sorcery, Father would smile and congratulate him. Or who used to give a pleased nod when Loki hit all his targets with his throwing knives.

His Father, his not-Father, never-Father is dead, and has taken the protection of his Jotun foundling with him to Valhalla.

Loki probably could have found a way out of the situation.

If he had not started laughing.

Loki wants to sob, to scream and cry and rage. But the laughter will not stop. It bubbles up between his lips, high-pitched and helpless, filling the throne room with its shrieks.

It sounds hysterical.

It sounds mad.

Although perhaps it is only mad to his own ears. The Einherjar evidently think it sounds triumphant, for one of them flips the staff around, raises it, and brings it down on Loki's head.

There is a painful flash of white, then the throne room of Asgard and seven horrified faces fade to a soothing black.