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If Thor Didn't Have Plot Shield

Chapter Text

"It won’t be me who comes for her."

Thor’s friends waited to see which of the Three he would look to. Sif could scarcely contain her shock when he looked at her.

She swallowed and nodded without a word. The Three tactfully looked away from the humiliation burning her cheeks.

Thor had made no effort to hide his infatuation from his old love. Sif had borne losing him as bravely as she could. Jane Foster was a mortal. Even with the Bifrost restored so that Thor could be with her, she would live a scant few decades. Perhaps then Thor would return to Sif.

Thor had always been selfish. He was the spoiled favorite son of the most powerful king in the Nine Realms, he could hardly help it. But that he would ask her to risk her neck to fetch his new sweetheart, when there were three others at hand who would leap to the task… she had never imagined him capable of such petty cruelty. His little smirk made it impossible even to believe that he had not realized how his request would affect her.

The bastard was enjoying it.

"In one hour, then," Thor said, and they all went to prepare. All except for Sif, who went straight to the dungeons. No guard dared to challenge her. If any had, she was prepared to kill them.

Loki was sitting on the floor with an open book in his hands. The blindingly white cell had a few pieces of elegant furniture and there was a small stack of books on a table. Gifts from Frigga, Sif knew; Thor had complained for hours every week that Frigga was visiting Loki against Odin’s orders and had smuggled books and a bed to him. Sif wondered if anyone had told Loki of his mother’s death. He glanced up with a carefully bored expression, slightly lifting one eyebrow at the sight of her.

"Sif. How lovely to see you. Has my brother made you our future queen yet? Should I kneel?"

She could not help looking away, even though she knew what a mistake it was to show any weakness in front of the Silvertongue.

Loki smiled slowly and his voice lowered to a purr. “He is still infatuated with the mortal, is he not? You too have learned how quickly my brother abandons those who watched his back for centuries when he spots a new pretty face.”

She forced herself to meet his gaze. “I can still be queen.”

He went still. “What do you propose?”

"I let you out. Together, we claim the throne of Asgard. To rule jointly, as king and queen."

For a moment he did not speak. “How do you know I shall keep my side of the bargain?” he asked at length.

Sif smiled coldly. “You have no other allies now. You need me. And whatever your faults, Liesmith, you have never been an oathbreaker.”

The scene in the cell changed. The trickster had been casting an illusion. His scant furniture was in shreds, his clothing torn, his hair wild and his eyes red. So he did know of his mother’s death. “They let her die,” he said, deathly quiet. “They will pay.”

Both of them sliced their palms and shed the ritual drops of blood to take the oath. Then Sif smashed the forcefield that contained the most dangerous weapon in Asgard.

When Thor came down a short time later, they were waiting for him.

Chapter Text

"Give me my dagger, something!" Loki hissed as the guards strode away.

This was the opening Thor had been waiting for. This was Sif’s idea. She’d spent hours coaching Thor on it. It was really complicated. Thor reached down and slapped the magic-dampening handcuffs onto Loki.

Loki glared at Thor angrily. Thor smiled cheerfully. “I thought you liked tricks!” he said, and walked away, chuckling happily to himself. Sure, it was only hours since his mother’s funeral, his girlfriend was seriously ill and the universe on the brink of destruction, but that was no reason he couldn’t enjoy a fun moment like this.

A minute later a bunch of Father’s guards came to kill them to prevent them from their planned crime of saving Asgard without killing everyone in Asgard in the process. It really pissed Odin off that they were attempting to save the lives of his subjects. Thor started hammering everybody. Several guards rushed at Loki with swords drawn. Since Loki had no weapons and no magic, he was killed in seconds.

With Loki dead, Thor wasn’t able to get out of Asgard. The Dark Elves invaded, grabbed Jane Foster, got the Aether out of her, and destroyed the entire universe, killing everyone in it.

Breathing his last, the screams of Asgardians echoing in his ears, Thor died with a smile on his lips. The deaths of trillions was a small price to pay for thirty seconds of being a dick to his little brother.

Chapter Text

After Thor defeated the Dark Elves with Loki’s help, Thor generously gave him a bottle of mead to thank him for saving his life from Kurse and then put him back in his cell as he’d promised. Loki begged to be given a new bed and books to replace those he’d destroyed in his grief or given a cell with a window, but Thor was not foolishly indulgent as Mother had been. Mother had been crazy enough to imagine that Loki still had good in him, even after Loki had killed nearly one half of one percent as many people as Thor had! But women were silly like that. Thor stuck him in the now-empty cell and that was that. Really he should have executed Loki, but Thor prided himself on his kindness and generosity.

Odin banished Thor to Midgard again for a while as punishment for disobeying him and saving the Nine Realms, but called him back when he realized how much fun Thor was having screwing Jane and fighting crime with the Avengers.

Life in Asgard went on as it always had for the next thousand years. Eventually Odin died of old age and Thor was made king.

One of the royal advisors reminded Thor that it was traditional for new kings to grant amnesty to some criminals, and suggested that he might even consider releasing his foster brother from the dungeon. That had never occurred to Thor, but suddenly he remembered how much fun Loki’s pranks used to be when they were young. Now that Thor was king he would keep Loki on a short leash, he wouldn’t be allowed to cause more trouble. So Thor decided to do it.

He went down to the dungeons himself to look over the prospective pardons. When he got to Loki’s cell, for a moment he thought there must be a mistake. The man huddled in this room bore little resemblance to the god of mischief of times past.

To begin with, he was filthy. Loki had always been extremely vain and kept himself as clean as possible even in battle camps, like the sissy boy ergi he was. The man before him… it was too disgusting to even think about. It had probably been centuries since he had used a cleansing spell on himself. Within the force field, the stench must have been horrific.

Loki’s bloodshot eyes were darting around the cell, occasionally fixing on nothing. He cowered as if threatened by unseen enemies. As Thor watched, Loki babbled. At first Thor thought he was speaking some foreign language, but after several broken sentences he realized that Loki had simply lost the ability to articulate Asgardian words properly. The slurring hysteric in this cell was a far cry from the Silvertongue of Thor’s youth.

“Loki, calm down. It’s me. I’ve come to free you,” Thor said.

Loki showed no sign of having heard him. Instead he jerked his head around to stare at the blank white wall behind him, shrieked something indistinct about bugs, and started frantically gnawing at his own forearms. The scars and sores all over his arms and face showed that this was not the first time he had done such a thing.

“Is he faking?” Thor asked the jailer.

The jailer glanced at him in surprise. “Your Majesty, this is what happens to prisoners kept in solitude after a few years.”

“How long has he been like this?”

The jailer considered. “About nine hundred and forty years. I can look at our records if you need an exact date.”

Thor shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I guess we’d better leave him in there. No point in letting him out now.”

“None, your Majesty. After more than a few years, the damage is usually permanent. After a century….” He spread his hands.

Thor went on to review the other prisoners and set hundreds of them free. All Asgard praised his generosity.

Chapter Text

Loki unleashed his grief and rage over his mother’s death for hours. He destroyed everything in his cell, all the gifts she had smuggled to him. Why not? He wouldn’t live long enough to miss them. Odin had only refrained from killing him for her sake. Now that she was dead, Loki wouldn’t last out the week. Within days Odin would cheer himself up by sending the axeman for him.

Loki heard a step in the corridor, not that of any of the guards, and for a second thought that it was his death already. But no, it was Thor. Damn. Loki had dreamed of this moment over and over for the past year, he had believed he would be so happy when it came, but now he was too miserable to feel any joy.

Loki had known that it would only be a matter of time. He waited for Thor to say the words he had been awaiting. I know now that Father does not serve Asgard well any longer. Help me to take the throne and your freedom will be your reward. Let us be brothers again.

But instead Thor told Loki he had no right to know if Frigga had suffered, that Loki was not his brother, that Thor would kill him given any excuse, that Loki’s reward for saving the entire universe would be eternity in this barren cell. Without even Mother’s furtive visits.

Loki was too stunned by the death of Frigga to feel any hurt at Thor’s words at this moment, but he knew that for so long as he lived, those words would rend his soul just as Odin’s many cold rejections of him already did.

But at this moment, not yet able to feel the wounds Thor had just inflicted, Loki could only marvel at how incredibly stupid Thor was being. Loki had never had a very high opinion of Thor’s intellect, but that he would offer such a ludicrous bargain boggled the mind.

For a long moment Loki just looked at Thor, waiting to see if Thor would realize his own foolishness, but Thor only waited, glaring.

So be it. “When do we start?” Loki asked. For answer, Thor deactivated the force field that held him.

Loki stood up slowly, sore from the magical energies he’d expended in his grief. He stepped to Thor’s side.

And promptly blasted Thor with the full force of his magic. Thor’s words had made it clear that Loki’s survival depended upon Thor dying as soon as possible.

Thor fell over with only a grunt and lay still. Loki sent a tendril of magic to test him for life, too wise to put himself in Thor’s reach. But he had struck true; Thor was dead.

For a second Loki began to feel misgivings. Perhaps Thor would not have followed through on his threats. Perhaps after they had fought together once more, he would have relented. Perhaps -

An object fell from Thor’s belt. Loki’s eyes fell upon it and he went cold inside.

Magic-inhibiting shackles.

Loki shuddered. He had been right. Thor had become his enemy. Slaying him had been Loki’s only hope of so much as getting out of the palace alive.

Loki took Thor’s sword and conjured an illusion over himself. First he would have to escape the palace. Then he would find some way of stopping the Dark Elves. A pity Thor had turned on him. Allies would have been useful in this fight. But Loki had always had to do the important things alone.

Chapter Text

Loki easily cast the illusion that made him appear to be dead. Not snorting at Thor's theatrical weeping was difficult. Thor had stated plainly that he intended to kill Loki given any excuse, and had serenely watched his friends make the same promise, and he had resumed his lifelong habit of using Loki as his punching bag over the last few days. And now he was acting as if he was sad that Loki was dead?

Well, who knew what went on in Thor's tiny brain. At this moment, Thor might actually believe it himself.

Loki had been worried about how to maintain the illusion of death as Thor carried his supposed corpse to safekeeping of some sort, and how to contrive his body's "disappearance" when Thor later returned to fetch it for burial. As it turned out, that wasn't a problem. Thor left Loki's body on the ground without a backward glance. Didn't even cover him with his cape. Nothing.

Did you mourn?

Hah.

When Thor and his mortal were safely out of range, Loki stood up, casting a fresh illusion on himself, giving himself a new face. Then he sky-walked to Alfheim. He could find allies there. Asgard seldom meddled in that realm these days. It would be a good place to hide.

Loki had not yet decided what he would do now, but Asgard and his false family would have no part in it. He would create a new destiny for himself.


"Loki died well. He lived poorly."

Odin sat on his throne, looking down at his only son. As much as he loathed the Jotun runt he'd taken in, he could scarcely credit Thor judging anyone else for "living poorly". And "died well"? By saving Thor? Odin had himself cultivated the lout's conceit - it had made Thor easy to manipulate - but that was more arrogance than he had ever expected even from him.

"I saved us all, without endangering Asgard." Thor was trying to keep his expression serious, but his eyes were expectant. As if he expected a pat upon the head for his disobedience.

Odin spoke at last. "You once said there would never be a wiser King than me. You were wrong. The alignment has brought all the realms together. Every one of them saw you offer your life to save them." Thor had proven that he could no longer be controlled. He had defied Odin in front of the entire realm. He had broken a dangerous traitor out of the dungeons. He had proven to all Asgard that the threat of the Dark Elves could be combated with no harm to Asgard, without even one Asgardian death. Only that of the useless frost giant Odin had wasted a thousand years cultivating to be viceroy of Jotunheim before the brat had rendered the plan impossible. "And now you have returned for your reward."

Thor tried to look grave, but his eyes lit up. Odin did not give him time to speak.

"Perhaps a place beside your shield-brothers."

With those words Odin gestured to the einherjar in formation on his right. They marched ten paces farther from the throne, allowing Thor to see the heads of Sif and the Warriors Three on a row of pikes. With one empty pike awaiting one final head.

The boy had been foolish enough to imagine that Odin would not execute his own son, even after Odin had sent warriors to kill him when he escaped from Asgard. He always had been an idiot. A pity half of Loki's brain couldn't have been taken out of his skull and put into Thor's. Loki had always been far too clever, Thor not nearly enough so.

Odin reached out and summoned Mjölnir, depriving Thor of it as he had before sending him to Midgard a few years ago. "Kill him," Odin ordered the einherjar.

Even without his hammer, the oaf put up a good fight, but it wasn't long before Odin's collection was complete.

The five heads remained in the throne room for the rest of Odin's reign. They were an effective warning to anyone who contemplated defying the All-Father. He had taught his real son and his stolen one that no other gift, however grand, would suffice. Obedience was the only coin Odin would accept.

Chapter Text

“I'm pressing every button on this thing!” Thor yelled, pounding the buttons at random.

Loki gawked at him. Everyone had always known he was the clever one in the family, but did Thor really think that a complicated piece of machinery could be operated in this way? True, the warrior caste of Asgard usually left such things to civilians, disdaining any activity which required thought, but Loki hadn't realized that Thor believed an aircraft could be operated by sheer determination.

“No, don't hit it, just press it gently,” Loki instructed, trying to get close enough to the control panel to try to discern which needed to be pressed. Thor shoved him back with his shoulder.

“I am pressing it gently!” Thor yelled, slamming his fist onto the buttons. “It's not working!”

Norns help them.

By some miracle, the craft did lurch into the air. Loki offered to fly it – he'd flown similar crafts, he ought to be able to figure this one out swiftly – but Thor refused on the grounds that he could fly by flinging his hammer into the air and holding onto it.

At least Thor's ability to construct reasoned arguments was unchanged.

After only a few seconds Loki was wishing he had stayed in his cell. They were going to be dead within the next ten minutes. Thor swooped terrifyingly close to one obstacle after another, even decapitating the statue of Bor, the bastard who'd gotten them into their current mess by lying about having put paid to all the Dark Elves. And neglected to bequeath any information about them or the aether to future generations.

Loki was becoming reconciled to not being a son of Odin.

Loki was yelling at his not-brother, trying to tell the idiot that they were going to die if he didn't let Loki pilot the damned craft, when Thor slammed a granite-like fist into him, knocking him out of the open door.

Loki fell.

For an eternal second, Loki was blind with panic. Frenzied memories of his fall from the Bifrost rushed through his head the agony of passing through the vortex, which had seemed to last forever, and the worse agony of his atoms coming back together against all expectations and forming him once more, and then oh Norns then when he had realized the nature of the being who had found him death was all he wanted now just let it be over no more no more

And then Loki's body slammed, not onto the rocks waiting far below, but onto another craft, this one piloted with reasonable competence by Fandral.

The impact might have been slightly less painful had Loki been able to break his fall with his arms, but the shackles made that impossible. He sat up slowly, gritting his teeth against the pain. A few ribs were cracked, but his Asgardian healing was already mending them. He would have some vivid bruises, nonetheless.

“I see your time in the dungeon has made you no less graceful, Loki!” Fandral snickered, eyes fixed gleefully on Loki's ashen face.

Loki was cold and shaking with remembered terror. Fandral's jeering laughter awakened a shred of pride in Loki, which gave him the strength to force down the urge to vomit.

Thor followed a second later, the mortal cradled carefully in his arms. Had she saved Thor's life a thousand times on a dozen realms? Had she endured his bullying, his fists, his taunts, his stealing the credit for Loki's feats, his unending selfishness? Had she devoted her life to aiding him in one day ruling the Realm Eternal? No. All she had done was have a pretty face. But she received all the solicitous care Thor could not spare for his brother, his brother who had watched his back and done his work and loved him despite his faults for a thousand years.

Loki shot Fandral a narrow look. Did Thor's friends see how quickly Thor's loyalty evaporated? A thousand years of faithful service and then Loki had spent five or six days serving other masters under the most extraordinary of circumstances, and Thor was ready to kill him unless he were useful. Thor would turn on Sif and the Three just as readily. Were they too foolish to grasp this?

Probably.

Loki forced himself to drawl as if merely amused. “You lied to me. I'm impressed.” It was the sort of thing he had always said to cover his hurt and shame at their taunts. It fooled no one, never had, but it was what they were expecting.

Inside, he had gone very quiet.

This had been his entire life. Second fiddle to a vicious bully too stupid to press buttons. A prince who would drag his realm into war because he got called a princess. A shield-brother who nearly got his comrades killed every time they went into battle. A warlord who threatened, humiliated, hobbled and assaulted the man on whom his entire mission depended. A brother who expected his sibling to forgive a thousand years of unceasing cruelty but himself could not forgive five days of desperation and madness.

“I’m glad you’re pleased,” Thor snarled. “Now do what you promised, take us to your secret pathway.”

Loki had been devastated by Thor's coldly vicious words in the dungeon, but he had been prepared to forgive. Thor was hurt, was unaccustomed to not having his way, was unsure if Loki could be trusted again. Once they were out, Loki would have been the perfect ally, he would have proven himself, and when Thor relented from his dire threats they would have been brothers again.

Loki gave his head a slight shake. He had been prepared to forgive much, but that shove into empty air and harrowing memory had exhausted the last of a thousand years of patience.

“Right,” Loki said. “For Asgard!” He seized the controls, awkward with the shackles - typical of Thor, making it almost impossible for Loki to do what was demanded of him - and steered the ship towards a tiny crevice.

Not the tiny crevice he would have steered them through had Thor refrained from that last bit of sadistic play, throwing him out of the craft. A different one.

“Nothing personal, boys,” he said with a thin smile.

Even Thor had the brains to be a little alarmed. “Loki?!”

“If it were easy, everyone would do it!”

“Are you mad?”

Loki laughed aloud, feeling a hint of joy for the first time since his spoiled idiot of a brother had dragged them all to Jotunheim and destroyed his life. “Possibly!”

Another minute and he would be free of them. Forever.

Wherever Thor and his friends had expected him to transport them, it was not to the realm of Loki's birth.

They were not dressed for Jotun weather. Thor clasped the mortal to his chest, trying to keep her warm. “Loki! What are you up to?”

“What in the Nine did you expect, you idiot?” Loki demanded, landing the craft.

“Get us out of here or I'll-” Thor stopped and stared. Loki had hopped lightly off the craft and turned blue as he alighted on the ground.

Loki activated the Jotun freezing touch. He had practiced it in his cell to pass the time. The metal of his shackles froze and shattered. “You didn't know, did you?” Loki asked. He had often wondered if Odin had confessed his abduction of Laufey's son to the realm. He wasn't surprised to learn that he had not. Asgard would not have been amused to learn that, because of Odin's schemes, for a few days a frost giant had sat upon the throne of Asgard.

Loki was not certain even Frigga had known. When he had first found out she had consoled him about his adoption, but made no mention of his species, and he had lacked the courage to ask and possibly see his mother shrink from him when she learned of it. During her visits to him in the dungeon he had nearly asked a hundred times, but never quite dared, and now he would never know.

Thor was shivering violently, but he dropped Jane and lunged for Loki. Loki summoned half a dozen blades of ice from the ground and Thor obligingly impaled himself upon them, as Fandral had once done.

Fandral moved to pull Thor off the ice blades, staring at Loki in horrified fascination.

Seeing that Fandral was not going to attack, Loki smiled at him. “I suppose you may hope that Heimdall will see you and open the Bifrost for you. Of course, Odin will execute you when you return, but one can't have everything. Cheer up, perhaps the Jotuns will find you before he does.”

The mortal's lips were turning blue. Loki suspected she was dead already. An Asgardian could withstand such temperatures for a time, but humans were so fragile.

“I am sorry, dear girl,” he murmured to her motionless form. “Catching his eye was a grave misfortune for you.”

“Please, Loki-” Fandral began, but stopped in alarm as the Aether emerged from Jane's body in the form of crimson smoke. Loki quickly cast a net of seiðr over it and thrust it into the pocket dimension he had once used to store the Casket of Ancient Winters. It might not hold it for long but it would do until he could contrive something better. With this weapon he might do anything. Drive any bargain. Defeat any foe.

Now there was a thought. If he could determine how to deliver this force to Thanos, if he could control its path of destruction....

“I'll... get you, Loki,” Thor groaned, trying to stand with Fandral's help. Blood was on his mouth.

“There is a line,” Loki retorted absently. He had to learn how to channel the aether properly. Summoning seiðr, he opened a portal and stepped through it to the other side of Jotunheim, letting it close behind him.

In his native form Loki could live in this inhospitable realm while he experimented with the aether. Before the Jotuns or anyone else found him, he would be ready to move on. He would keep this force out of the clutches of the Dark Elves. He would find a way to defeat the Purple Ape. And then-

Loki smiled a little to himself. And then, he might do anything.

Chapter Text

Thor’s heart leapt when he caught sight of Jane for the first time in two years. She had never been far from his thoughts, but still he had forgotten how beautiful she was.

Their eyes met and she walked towards him as if pulled by a magnet. He watched her, his heart pounding.

When she drew near, he bent down and she rose up on her toes and they shared their second kiss.

Their lips parted and she stepped back, out of his embrace. “We need to talk.” 

“I gave you my word I would return.” 

She gave an unhappy little laugh. Thor frowned. Why did she not look joyful at their reunion? 

“Jane, I will take you to Asgard. There we can-“

She took another step back, holding up her hands. “Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. Like I said, we need to talk.”

“We can talk in Asgard.” He reached for her, but she backed up even farther now. 

“Thor!” She actually sounded angry. Startled, he let his arm drop. “I am not going with you to Asgard. Not now, anyway. Thank you for asking.”

Thor stared at her, bewildered. “Why not?”

She sighed. “Let’s get some coffee. You remember coffee? You liked it the last time you were here.”

She led him to a place that served them cups of the stimulating brew and took one sip before beginning. “Thor, since the last time I saw you, I haven’t been doing very well.” She hesitated. “I’ve been really depressed. It’s just kept getting worse and worse, until I was only showering once a week and spending all my time in my mom’s basement, eating ice cream straight from the carton and searching the internet for pictures of you.”

Thor beamed at her. “I know.”

“What?”

“I know. Since I returned to Asgard I have asked Heimdall what you were doing every day. It warmed my heart to know that you missed me as much as I missed you.”

She stared at him. “You had Heimdall watching me? That’s very… Edward Cullen of you.”

He frowned, promptly defensive. “Who’s Edward Cullen?” Heimdall had told him that a mortal named Richard had been attempting to woo her, but had not mentioned an Edward.

“Um. He’s a fictional character. He’s not real. Never mind.” She squared her shoulders. “Thor, I had no idea you were keeping me under surveillance. I need you to stop doing that.”

“How else will I know if you are faring well when we are apart?”

She drew a measured breath, as if reaching for patience. “Thor, when we see each other, I will tell you anything I want you to know about what I’ve been doing. I don’t want you stalking me through Heimdall and I need you to respect that.” He began to speak, and she cut him off. “If you were a human and found a way of doing that to me, you would probably go to jail. Do you realize that?”

“To jail? For asking for news of my beloved?”

“Thor, you were spying on me! And I didn’t know anything about it! Do you have any idea how creepy that is?”

Thor frowned at her, trying to make sense of her words. Mortals had very strange ideas. She sighed again.

“Look, just… don’t do it anymore. Because I asked you not to. Okay?”

Reluctantly, Thor nodded. “But there will be no need for spying in any case, because you will be with me in Asgard.”

“No. I won’t. I can’t get the help I need in Asgard.”

“Any help you could possibly need will be yours in Asgard!”

Another of those unhappy laughs as she shook her head. “I doubt that. Thor, did you know that I have a history of depression?” When he shook his head, she said, “You actually don’t know very much about me. Besides everything I’ve been doing for the last two years when I didn’t know you were spying on me, apparently. Anyway. It’s a chemical imbalance in my brain that gets triggered every few years. A lot of humans have this. It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life. I actually had to take two years off before getting my doctorate because of it.” She looked down at the tabletop. “For a while I was afraid that I was never going to be able to function well enough to finish my education and have the life work I wanted.” 

She fortified herself with a sip of her coffee and met his eyes again. “Anyway. When we met, I found you really attractive, and the things you told me about the Rainbow Bridge and the World Tree really fascinated me. And that one kiss was… well.” She flushed a little, and he smiled at her. “But Thor, we didn’t have a relationship. We had the equivalent of a first date. I hardly know anything about you. While I was falling apart in my mom’s basement, you were what I was thinking about, but it really had nothing to do with you.”

Thor frowned, confused at the suggestion that something might not be about him. “I don’t understand.”

“If I’d never met you, if you’d fallen in front of someone else’s truck, I’d still have spent the last two years being depressed and not bathing or leaving the house. I’d have been depressed over Donald Blake, or over not getting the grant I applied for, or just about anything else. You were just the excuse my brain latched onto when my neurochemistry decided to mess with me.”

“Jane, I do not understand. We are together again, you will be fine-“

“I will not be fine!” Her voice rose in frustration. “Look, if we’d been dating for a while, and then I’d lost you, then sure, you could have been the actual cause of my depression and possibly the cure for it. But when someone falls apart like this after one date, it’s not about that person.” She took a gulp of the coffee. “A couple of weeks ago, Darcy and my mom and Eric finally did an intervention and dragged me to a therapist. I’ve started taking antidepressants. I haven’t been taking them long enough for them to have any real effect yet, but in time, that and the therapy should put me on the road to recovery.”

She met his eyes again. “And when I get there, if you’re still interested, we can try going out, and see if we can form a relationship. But right now, I am in no condition to be in a relationship with anyone.”

Thor argued, but Jane remained firm. Eventually, dejected, he had Heimdall open the Bifrost and take him back home. Alone.

As soon as he was gone, Jane got out her cell phone and asked her therapist if there was an appointment open that day. Fortunately, there was. Jane paid for her coffee and departed to get the help that she needed.

Chapter Text

“Thor, I merely think you should consider-“

“Enough, Mother, I have my advisors. Advisors who did not teach magic to Asgard’s enemies.”

Frigga bowed her head as if in shame. It was what Thor threw into her face every time they disagreed. Had she not taught her foster son magic, he never would have been able to cause so much trouble. The thousand years during which he had loyally served Odin, Thor and Asgard was forgotten, and a share of the blame laid at Frigga’s door.

“I wished only to aid you, my son. Forgive me.”

He smiled, indulgent, and pardoned her, and gave her permission to go. She returned to her chambers and calmed her nerves at her loom, ordering her thoughts.

Seeing her plans come together just as the design in her weaving did.

After Loki had been in prison for a few years, she had yielded to her elder son’s protests and stopped visiting Loki in the dungeon. So Thor believed. In fact she had merely increased the secrecy in which she projected her image into Loki’s cell and talked to her younger son, alternately goading and soothing him.

She was the only one who still cared for him at all. And he knew it.

Loki had languished in the dungeon for nearly a century now, forgotten by everyone but his mother. One month ago Odin had at last died of old age, and Thor was now king.

Frigga had labored on both of her sons all of their lives, resolved that she would have more influence over Asgard’s next king. Putting Gungnir in Loki’s hand during Thor’s banishment had been a gamble, and it had backfired; Loki was too creative in his exploits, Thor’s friends too loyal to him rather than to Asgard, and when it went disastrously wrong no one had ever forgotten that it was she who had made Loki king.

Odin never had listened to her much, but after that he listened not at all. Keeping Loki alive - salvaging her millennium of work on him - was the most she could manage. Thor had once respected her counsel, but his petty anger over losing his loyal pet wizard had put an end to that.

She waited until evening, when Thor would be occupied with getting drunk in the feast hall, and then, using magic, paid her younger son a visit. She had prepared her words carefully; she let Loki see her distress, confessed that much as she loved Thor he was not fit to be king, was not serving Asgard well. Confided in Loki that the choice she now made was a painful one, but her duty to the realm was clear.

Then she allowed Loki to pile assurances upon her. She had no need of them; the purpose was to engrave on Loki’s mind just how beholden to her he was.

Before midnight she had freed him. Before dawn, Asgard had a new king. One who loved no one in the Nine Realms but Frigga. One who owed her everything. One who could not afford to lose her.

The first oath Frigga had coaxed from Loki before releasing him was that he would spare her elder son’s life. Thor now paced in the cell in which Loki had spent the past century.

Frigga would be sure to visit him often. Eventually, Loki might feel his obligation to her less keenly, and she would need a replacement who was loyal to her.

Chapter Text

 

Thor and Jane took shelter from the storm in a conveniently nearby cave. Jane wondered why Thor didn’t take Loki’s body with them so that it could possibly be retrieved later for proper burial, but didn’t think it would be tactful to ask.

Safe in the cave, she broke to him the news about her vision. “He's gonna unleash it, not just on Asgard or on a star. Malekith is gonna destroy everything.”

“How? Jane, how?”

“I saw him on Earth. Why would he go to Earth?”

Thor’s face was grim. “The Convergence.”

The enormity of her mistake welled up in her mind. “Oh, God. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t found the Aether.” 

“Then Malekith would have only possessed it that much sooner,” Thor said, trying to reassure her. But she knew  that wasn’t true, even if he didn’t. 

“I only found it because I was looking for you.” What had she thought would happen when she meddled with things she had so little understanding of? How many would die because of her absurd schoolgirl crush?

“Jane.” He put a calming hand on her cheek.

“Now we’re trapped here.” And they would die there.

She was about to kiss him, an apology for the destruction she had wrought, when rap music suddenly filled the cave.

“It’s not me,” Thor said, with a dry humor and use of Midgardian slang that was so out of character that she wondered for a second if he was actually Loki casting an illusion over himself.

“It’s my cell phone!” She pulled it out, heart pounding. The Convergence had been opening random portals all over the universe with no apparent rhyme or reason. Could it be that, out of the vast infinity of the universe, against odds of several trillion to one, they had just happened to stumble into a random cave on Svartalfheim that just happened to have an open portal to Earth? A part of Earth in the range of Jane's cell phone reception, no less?

No, it couldn’t. “For a second I thought it was a phone call,” Jane explained, crushed. “It’s just my alert reminding me to take my vitamins.”

“Oh,” Thor said. Then they decided to have sex, since they were trapped and there was nothing whatsoever they could do to stop Malekith from here. They were still at it when the universe ended and everybody died.

Chapter Text

“I see your time in the dungeon has made you no less graceful, Loki!” Fandral jeered. Fandral was always careful to show Thor how strongly he approved of Thor’s frequent violent outbursts. Anyone who was not sufficiently approving found themselves the next target of the Odinson’s fists.

Thor joined them, carrying his swooning pet mortal in his arms. It was so fortunate that women lost consciousness so easily. If they did not, authors would have to think of dialogue and actions for them instead of treating them as inanimate objects most of the time, and that would be hard work.

Gritting his teeth against the pain of the fall from the craft Thor had stolen, Loki sat up. By pure luck he hadn’t hit his head and thus was able to think clearly enough to speak. “You lied to me. I'm impressed.” 

“I’m glad you’re pleased,” Thor snarled, setting his human on the floor. “Now do what you promised, take us to your secret pathway.”

Loki held up his wrists. “Then unshackle me.”

“Do you think I’m a fool?”

Loki let that pass. Thor knew the answer to that. “These shackles bind my magic,” he said patiently. As always when speaking to Thor, he used the smallest words he could think of. Usually even that didn’t help. “I need my magic to open my portals.”

“I don’t believe you! You just found secret passages that no one else did! Anyone could use them if they knew where they were!”

Loki stared at Thor in utter amazement. “What in the Nine gave you that idea?”

“It’s true!” Thor’s face was as red as his cape with rage. “You’re just trying to get me to take the cuffs off you!”

The einherjar were now firing at them. “Thor, opening a portal takes time as well as magic. If you uncuff me now, I can have it open in about half an hour. You see, this is why I asked you to tell me your plan before you got their attention.”

“I don’t believe you!” Thor screamed. He slammed his fist into Loki’s face. He had never encountered any problem that couldn’t be solved with sufficient brutality. People could and would do anything if you just inflicted enough pain on them. That was why Thor never bothered with any other method of winning loyalty or cooperation. Any others were a waste of time.

“I can’t,” Loki repeated, trying to shield himself with his shackled arms. Thor punched him several more times, feeling happy despite the situation. This reminded him of how much fun he had had with Loki when they were children. And when they were adults. Beating the crap out of someone half your size was a great way to prove your courage.

Thor was still busy punching Loki when the einherjar caught up and shot their craft out of the sky. They crashed and all died. The Aether poured out of Jane’s corpse and Malekith swooped right in to grab it. With it he destroyed the entire universe and killed everyone.

Chapter Text

Loki was killing time reading one of his three books for the seven hundredth time when he heard heavy steps in the corridor. He didn’t even bother to look up or cast an illusion.

“After all this time, at last you come to visit me, Brother. Why? To mock?”

He knew better, of course. Thor needed his help. Probably had to lace his boots or something.

Thor told him briefly about the Dark Elves and the Aether. “Father wants to use it to lure the Dark Elves here, to Asgard. I would spare the realm the attack. I wish to take Jane away from Asgard and fight Malekith on some other world.”

Loki nodded. “It’s always best to make sure that other worlds have to endure the casualties,” he agreed, repeating what Odin had told them thousands of times over the centuries. “But why should I help you? What did they do, kill Mother?”

“No. But they’re trying to destroy the universe, which we both live in.”

“Yes, I’d think that would be enough reason for us to stop them,” Loki conceded.

Chapter Text

“Asgard is a more formidable foe than Earth,” The Other warned. “And Asgard was warned of our approach. Loki has been in Asgard for over a year now. He has no doubt told them everything he knows of us.”

“We are prepared for their defenses,” Thanos replied. This time he had a much larger army of Chitauri, and peerless weapons collected from the worlds he had already destroyed. Asgard would fall, no matter how prepared they were.

Asgard’s royal family was sitting on one of the palace balconies when ominous rumbles made them look up. Thor was completely amazed to see a portal opening in the sky above Asgard and an army of Chitauri, including several of their leviathans, pouring through.

“I assumed they would never bother the Nine Realms again after we defeated them!” he exclaimed. “I thought they would just, you know, give up and never try again!”

Odin gawked up at the sky too. “Huh. It never occurred to me that Loki’s allies might come to rescue or punish him. Maybe I should have asked him what the Hel happened to him after he fell through the wormhole before I threw him in the dungeon.”

“I told you that you should have given him a trial instead of just sentencing him. He might have told you they would come after him when he was trying to defend himself,” Frigga told him.

“Will you stop nagging me, woman? I let the brat live because of your delusion that raising him from infancy made him your son, what more do you want?” He sighed, irritated. “I suppose we’d better start defending the kingdom, or something.”

By this time the Chitauri had already killed several hundred Asgardians and the leviathans had demolished a few buildings and the statue of Bor. Meanwhile, Thanos was watching, incredulous. “Aren’t they ready for us? Surely no ruler would have been stupid enough not to question Loki about us?”

The Other shook his head, bewildered. “At first I thought it was a trap, but look at their warriors running to fetch their swords. They had no idea we were coming.”

Thanos was too amazed to be triumphant. “Maybe Odin has that disease old people get? Where their brains don’t work anymore?”

“But wouldn’t someone else have interrogated Loki? The queen or a jailer or a chamberlain or someone? Are Asgardians complete idiots?”

“Loki was clever. Too clever for his own good.”

“He wasn’t an Asgardian,” The Other reminded his master. “Maybe the entire species is made up of idiots.”

“It’s starting to look that way,” Thanos agreed, watching the Chitauri turn Asgard’s unprepared warriors into mincemeat with astonishment.

 

Chapter Text

 

Free from his cell in Asgard’s dungeon, Kurse proceeded to free as many other prisoners as possible, grinning at the chaos they created.

There was one scrawny guy in a green outfit who looked kind of sissified - his cell had books in it, what a nerd - but Kurse freed him even though it didn’t look like the guy would be very helpful in adding to the commotion and wreaking havoc.

As it turned out, his gamble paid off: the sissy was a powerful sorcerer and slung bolts of magic everywhere, enabling more prisoners to get out alive. Kurse wanted to invite him to join the Dark Elves, he seemed like he might be useful, but he did some magic thing and slipped away when Kurse was busy fighting.

“I thought you weren’t going to let that guy in the green outfit out,” one of the other Dark Elves said once they had made their escape.

“What? Why wouldn’t I?”

“The way he was looking at you. He, like, looked you right in the eye. I thought you would just leave him there after that.”

Kurse stared at his comrade in bewilderment. “Why wouldn’t I free a fellow prisoner because he made eye contact with me?”

The other shrugged. “I dunno, he just looked kind of full of himself. Or something.”

“You’re insane. Anyway, let’s get to work. Malekith must have instructions for us.”

Chapter Text

It was a shame that powerful sorcerers couldn’t be prevented from using magic with a simple, compact, easy-to-apply pair of cuffs, but that would be as ridiculously convenient a contrivance as Douglas Adams’s Babelfish. If that were all it took, Odin would have been overthrown thousands of years ago when someone slapped the cuffs on him in an unwary moment and then killed him while he was helpless. In order to prevent Loki from using magic to escape his sentencing when Thor first brought him back to Asgard, Loki had had to be weighted down with a quarter ton of chains, shackles on his throat and wrists that contained blades that would have sliced off his head and hands at a magic word from Odin, and twenty guards. The cuffs and muzzle Thor had applied to Loki for the trip home would have been useless had Loki not been seriously injured by the Hulk.

So Thor did not waste time uselessly trying to bind Loki’s magic when he broke him out of prison. Loki’s magic was the whole reason Thor needed him, so doing so would make no sense whatsoever.

Loki created an illusion that made it seem that he was still in his cell. Then he cast a glamour over both of them so that the prison guards thought they were other prison guards. They strolled out of the prison without the slightest risk of having to kill or even fight with anyone. Then Loki veiled their escape from Asgard in smoke as he had many times to save their lives when Thor started a fight they couldn’t possibly win. They left Asgard with no one even knowing they were gone, and without risking anyone’s life or even chipping the statue commemorating Bor’s incomplete genocide of the Dark Elves. It was actually kind of boring, but there would be plenty of fighting later against actual bad guys instead of some of the good guys trying to kill the other good guys and the other good guys trying to escape without killing the first good guys, which would be stupid even if it was exciting to watch.

 

Chapter Text

While Kurse was beating Thor to a pulp, there was but one thought in Loki’s mind:

Loki wanted revenge.

Not only on those who had wronged him directly. The time when his goals had been so reasonable had passed, sometime in the interminable blur of days in his blindingly white dungeon cell, reading the same three books over and over, waiting for his mother to project herself to his cell, waiting for his father or brother to have use of the stolen relic.

At first he had meant to present Thanos to his own sweetheart, and the Purple Ape’s minions too. After his sentencing, he had dreamed of Odin’s head on a platter. As the months wore on and Frigga confessed that Thor was furious with her for giving Loki a bed and three books in his cell, he wanted Thor’s beside it.

But when his mother was murdered and his brother showed his true colors at last - help me save the entire universe and perhaps I will be generous enough to allow you to live, locked in this box - the last restraint on Loki’s conscience shattered.

He wanted all the Nine Realms to suffer.

No one had cared for the centuries he had been a loyal prince, accepting second place beneath a witless oaf, saving the life of his brother and his brother’s bullying friends time and again and having them lie about their own valor after. No one had cared when his identity had been stripped away from him and he had been condemned for protecting his realm from its enemies. By now someone must have put together the pieces that staging his deliberately clumsy invasion of Midgard had been the only way to save the realms from the Purple Ape, the realms must know he had sacrificed a few dozen to save trillions, but in return he was locked up to slowly go mad. And now he had been summoned to save trillions yet again, and if the cold glare in Thor’s eyes every time his not-brother looked at him was any indication, his best reward for it would be a mercifully swift death once he was no longer needed.

Everyone should suffer as Loki had suffered.

And now Kurse had the advantage over Thor, and was on the verge of handing Loki his revenge. Loki was about to have the pleasure of witnessing Thor’s death.

But that would be revenge only on one man, and that was not enough for Loki. Loki wanted all the Nine Realms to bathe in blood. He wanted no end to the screams and lamentations.

A burst of inspiration flared in Loki’s mind, and he did not hesitate. He stepped forward and placed a gravity bomb on Kurse and used his sword to drive it through Kurse’s chest. Unholy gleeful thoughts crowded his mind: Thor as king of Asgard, spilling more blood than even Odin had, wreaking war on every world in the Nine, setting forth on new conquests every time he got bored or someone had the gall to call him a name. Billions would die, billions more would weep and cower, because Loki had not stood back and let Kurse perform the one good deed of his evil life.

Saving Thor’s life was the most vicious revenge on the universe that Loki could imagine.

And in one awful eternal instant, Loki’s sanity returned.

Again Loki made up his mind in a flash. He stood still, in easy reach of his opponent, and let Kurse run him through.

Kurse died.

Loki fell, reeling not only with the mortal wound but with the enormity of what he had just done. What nightmare he had just unleashed on the Nine Realms. “I’m sorry,” he said to the sky, to the universe. “I’m a fool, I’m sorry….”

Thor was hanging over him, babbling something. Loki paid his words no heed until one sentence broke through his horror of remorse. “I will tell Father you died with honor.”

Did the lout actually imagine Odin’s regard meant anything to Loki anymore?

Loki looked at the monster he had spent his life defending, and knew that he had chosen wrong. “I didn’t do it for him,” he confessed.

And then died. Offering his own life in recompense for the foul crime he had just committed was the least he could do.

 

Chapter Text

INT. QUINJET.


CAPTAIN AMERICA

I don't like it.

IRON MAN

What? Rock of Ages giving up so easily?

CAPTAIN AMERICA

I don't remember it being ever that easy. This guy packs a wallop.

IRON MAN

Still, you are pretty spry, for an older fellow. What's your thing, Pilates?

CAPTAIN AMERICA

What?

IRON MAN

It's like calisthenics. You might have missed a couple things, you know, doing time as a Capsicle.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

Fury didn't tell me he was calling you in.

IRON MAN

Yeah, there's a lot of things Fury doesn't tell you.

THUNDER sounds. LOKI looks around, nervous.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

What's the matter, scared of a little lightning?

LOKI

I'm not overly fond of what follows.

THOR lands on the QUINJET, making it rock. IRON MAN puts on his helmet and opens the QUINJET up. THOR storms in, kills IRON MAN with his hammer - but IRON MAN survives because his armor is just that awesome - and slaps the MAGIC DAMPENING HANDCUFFS onto LOKI. LOKI is helpless.

CREDITS ROLL.

Chapter Text

“That's for New York!” With those feisty words, feisty little Jane Foster feistily dealt the man who had unleashed aliens onto her home planet, causing dozens of deaths, a feisty little slap. Gosh, she was feisty!

Lucky for her Loki was in chains. Magic-dampening chains, though of course she didn't know that and might logically have assumed he could blast her to bits with a snap of his fingers. Also, he was surrounded by heavily armed warriors who hated his guts and were eager for an excuse to beat the tar out of him.

Also luckily for her, he turned his head swiftly, rolling with the blow she dealt him. Even so, her hand stung badly. She had spent enough time with Thor and other Asgardians to know how incredibly dense their flesh was, and knew enough about them from her time in Asgard and from the news footage of Loki being smashed by the Hulk and walking mere hours later, to know that they were invulnerable. If the mass murdering supervillain hadn't been considerate enough to roll with the slap, her hand would have broken against his jaw.

Jane knew all of this, of course, but that wasn't nearly as important as reminding everyone how feisty she was!

The warrior woman, Sif, looked alarmed, which Jane found surprising. The men all looked charmed to pieces over how feisty Jane was. Men admired women feisty enough to attack people they couldn't possibly defend themselves from. Why, even Loki was now grinning at Thor and saying, “I like her.”

Female feistiness FTW!


 

The next day as Jane, Thor and Loki were all roaming through the Nine Realms chasing and being chased by Dark Elves, a squad of Dark Elves attacked them. Thor had to fight them all off by himself as Loki was chained up and unarmed. Loki and Jane watched the fight for a few seconds. Thor was handling them just fine, naturally, but Dark Elves were dangerous enough to challenge even him. They were keeping him completely occupied.

A fact which was suddenly borne in on Jane when she noticed that Loki was looking at her.

Smiling.

It wasn't a nice smile.

“Your brother's in love with me,” she blurted, suddenly terrified.

Smile. “I know.”

She took a step back. “He'll kill you when he's done with the Dark Elves.”

“He's going to kill me anyway.” Loki reached out and caught her arm. She struggled. Loki was handcuffed and his magic caged, but he still had his Asgardian superstrength.

Thor turned his head at the first of her screams. “LOKI!” he bellowed, furious. “I will tear you limb from limb!”

Loki laughed as her blood sprayed his face. “It will be worth it.”

Thor tried to come to her rescue, but the Dark Elves took advantage of his momentary distraction to inflict some damage. Thor had no choice but to continue battling them while his brother tortured his girlfriend to death.

By the time Thor had vanquished the Dark Elves, Jane's body had been reduced to jelly. Thor killed Loki, which he had intended to do after the mission was over anyway, but Jane was still just as dead.

Chapter Text

Having stopped the Dark Elves, Thor went to Asgard to explain to his father that he didn't want to be king. It would be so much work, and more importantly, he wouldn't get to stick his dick in Jane Foster.

Odin reluctantly gave him permission to go. Then he sat alone on his throne, mulling over his thwarted plan to keep Jane and the Aether in Asgard to lure the Dark Elves there. Probably they would have killed everyone in Asgard, but he'd have gotten his revenge on them for killing his wife. How dare they destroy his property!

A week later, Muspelheim attacked Asgard. They wanted the Eternal Flame out of the weapons vault. Odin had been moping around since Thor had left, but the attack galvanized him into action. He swiftly put together a battle plan that involved letting the Muspels kill everyone in Asgard. Which they did. Odin almost got to kill Surtur, king of the Muspels, before they did him in and seized the Flame, but Surtur prevailed.

Meanwhile, the only surviving Asgardian in the universe was on Earth banging Jane Foster.

Chapter Text

Asgard's warriors were exhausted. Heimdall reported Marauders on Vanaheim and Dark Elves on Midgard and all kinds of other unrest, but every one of Asgard's warriors was guarding Asgard's dungeon.

The first attempt they had dismissed as a fluke. Word had gotten out that Loki was not actually Odin's son, but Laufey's, kidnapped as an infant and reared with the intention of making him puppet king. The Aesir had assumed, logically enough, that after Loki's attempt at destroying Jotunheim, the Jotnar would be glad to hear that Loki was spending the rest of his life in Asgard's dungeon.

And yet one day, a party of frost giants had managed to get into Asgard and tried to break Loki out of the dungeon. The guards stopped them in time, and under torture, they confessed that they had intended to offer Loki sanctuary on Jotunheim in return for his using his magic on their behalf and giving them information about Asgard's defenses. Having been raised a prince of Asgard, Loki knew everything an enemy of the realm could possibly want to know in order to defeat it.

Well, Jotunheim was desperate. Their world had been slowly dying since Odin took their Casket from them. Loki's attack with the Bifrost had merely sped things up; Jotunheim would be dead entirely within a century instead of another five hundred years as would have been the case on Odin's timetable.

A week later, a squad of Vanir attempted another jailbreak. This attack was better planned and Thor and his friends had to lend a hand. Again, in the aftermath, under torture, the Vanir revealed their plan: to break Loki out of the dungeon. Vanaheim was tired of Asgard's rule and still held a grudge for Odin's conquest of their realm centuries ago. A powerful wizard with intimate knowledge of Asgard and reason to hate Odin would have been the ideal ally.

Even then, Odin and Thor had assumed that would be the end of it, but other realms had had the same thought, and those that hadn't were not slow to adopt the idea. By the time Loki had been in the dungeon for two months, there was at least one attempt to break him out every day. Every realm in the Nine (except for Midgard, which was still too primitive) sent warriors and spies after Loki. Asgard had spent thousands of years pissing off all the other realms. Odin had gone out of his way to make Loki the ideal ally for any enemy of Asgard.

And Frigga still wouldn't let them kill him. Women. Always dragging emotion into important affairs of state.

When the dungeon was attacked by three different realms in a single day, killing half of Asgard's warriors, Odin conceded defeat. He did the only thing he could do to save his throne and his hide at this point: he had Loki brought up from the dungeon, told him with copious crocodile tears how much he loved him and how sorry he was, and made him heir to the throne. With no more motivation to betray Asgard, Loki was no longer a potential ally for its enemies and they stopped trying to break him out. Thor got to go to Earth to bang Jane Foster, Loki was happy at last, Frigga got her younger son back, and Odin got to keep his throne for the remaining centuries of his life. Everyone lived happily ever after. Except for the inhabitants of the many worlds Asgard had conquered and continued to oppress with Loki's able help, but as has been clearly established by the onscreen actions of all of Asgard's heroic characters, killing and conquering sentient beings who aren't humans or Asgardians is a virtuous thing to do. They crave subjugation. They were born to be ruled.

Chapter Text

Thor returned to Asgard for the ceremonial unveiling of the new statues.

First came the repaired sixty-foot-tall statue of Bor. Odin gave a long speech about his great achievement of wiping out the Dark Elves, glossing over the fact that Bor had missed a few.

Odin’s statue commemorating his defeat of the frost giants was beside Bor’s. “I took their Casket, the source of their power,” Odin reminded them. “Without it, Jotunheim is slowly dying. In a few more centuries, the Jotnar will cease to exist!”

All Asgard cheered wildly.

Then a brand new statue, also sixty feet tall, was revealed beside Odin’s. This one was Thor. “Because my son has rid the Nine Realms of Dark Elves forever!”

At the mention of Thor’s completion of his grandfather’s genocide, the cheers grew so raucous the statues almost trembled with it.

After the ceremony, Thor noticed his father gazing up at the statues pensively. He left his friends for a few moments to speak to him.

“I ask myself,” Odin said, thoughtful, “what could possibly have made Loki imagine that I would be pleased with him for destroying Jotunheim.”

Thor shrugged, baffled as he was every time he thought about it. “It’s a mystery. He must have just been born bad. After all, he wasn’t your son.”

“No, he was not.” Odin turned to look at Thor. “Do you understand the difference between your going to Jotunheim, killing a great many frost giants, and starting a war, and Loki going to Earth, killing a great many humans, and starting a war?”

“Of course, Father! I have learned, thanks to your wise judgment.”

“Really? Tell me, then.”

“The difference is that I atoned!”

“Ah, yes.”

“Besides, the frost giants are an aggressive race of monsters. I would never attack humans!”

“Of course you wouldn’t. Was I too hard on you, Thor? Sending you to Midgard?”

Thor squared his shoulders. He still felt angry every time he remembered his ordeal: three entire days on Earth, with only the company of two beautiful women and a kindly older man to comfort him. He had only survived the tribulation because for all but the last few hours of it, he had believed that all he had to do was locate his hammer and his Asgardian strength would be restored and he could return home. That had still left nearly ten hours of believing he would have to stay on Earth as Jane Foster’s kept man! The horror of it made him shake. Especially when he compared it to Odin’s ridiculously lenient punishment of Loki, a mere year in a solitary prison cell, expecting nothing worse than another four thousand such years. Their mother had even foolishly indulged him with a bed and three books! But perhaps the gross discrepancy was justified by Thor’s greater strength of character. Loki could never have endured an entire three days on Midgard with Jane Foster! Thor hoped Loki had been grateful for their father’s kindness.

“The experience made me a wiser man,” Thor said at last, congratulating himself on the clever wording.

Odin smiled. Something about the smile reminded Thor of Loki’s old smirk when he was mocking someone, but the impression was fleeting and Thor forgot about it. “I am very glad to hear that, my son.”

 

Chapter Text

It was Jane Foster who thought of it first, shortly before she broke up with Thor. She went to Tony Stark, not knowing who else to go to. The Avengers had been getting progressively more freaked out by Thor’s behavior and the stories he told, so Tony agreed to try.

Tony asked Thor, in a casual way as if this were something Earthgardians did all the time, if they could give Thor a brain scan. Thor replied that he would have to ask his father. Why a grown man had to ask Daddy’s permission to go into an MRI was beyond Tony, even if Daddy was a king, but Thor would not be moved.

It turned out okay, though, because not only did Odin grant permission, he even sent several more Asgardians to Earth with orders to let the humans do all the tests they wanted. It was a xenobiologist’s wet dream: several specimens for comparison purposes, all instructed to comply with the research. Not that Tony was a xenobiologist, not officially anyway, but no one who cared about science could fail to be giddy over this.

So the Asgardians went along with MRIs and EKGs and every other kind of test the biologists Tony found for the project could think of. The aliens seemed kind of weirded out by it, but they did whatever Odin told them to do.

Speaking of aliens, they got to run the same tests on some frost giants. Jotunheim was becoming less habitable by the week thanks to Asgard’s numerous depredations, and SHIELD had seen an opportunity. The few remaining Jotnar were invited to live in Antarctica, in return for using their innate frost powers to remedy global warming. Not to mention that if Earth got invaded again, they could use some huge nigh-invulnerable warriors. Odin had given approval to the project, which was unexpectedly generous of him, and even let the Jotnar use the Bifrost to make the trip. Eager to form good relations with their former victims, the frost giants had been cooperative with every request humans had made of them. They readily agreed to the brain scans.

Alien brains were surprisingly similar to human ones. The xenobiologists were forming a theory that all the sentient species in the Nine Realms had a common ancestor, most likely right here on Earth, though how they had spread to so many different worlds they could at this point only speculate.

After weeks of studying the results, a clandestine meeting was held at SHIELD. The attendees included the Avengers (except for Thor), Jane Foster, the xenobiologists, and Nick Fury.

Dr. Leonard, one of the xenobiologists, summed up their findings. After a lot of boring irrelevant stuff, he got to the meat of it. “What’s really significant is that all of the Asgardians had very tiny amygdalae. Among other things, the amygdala plays a role in controlling emotions, including affection.

“Asgardians have no equivalent of our ventromedial prefrontal cortex. This region is activated when humans engage in egalitarian, altruistic or other pro-social behaviors. It’s thought that this part of the brain is significant in our sense of morality.

“Oxytocin has been called the ‘love hormone’. That’s oversimplifying, of course, but the brain does release oxytocin when social bonds are formed, and in response to affectionate stimuli. Asgardian brains release very little oxytocin, and don’t do it at all in most of the situations where humans do, such as being shown pictures of babies or kittens and puppies, or physical contact with their friends or with cute animals.

“Finally, we compared Asgardian brain scans with those of many humans. Their brain wave patterns closely resemble those of imprisoned murderers who show no remorse. The people we refer to as ‘psychopaths’.”

There was a long silence around the table. “So you’re saying,” Nick Fury said at last, “that Asgardians are a psychopathic species?”

Dr. Leonard winced. Putting it so bluntly went against the scientific habit of careful phrasing that acknowledged variations and more complexities than could be contained in a single sentence. Still…. “That’s how it looks, yes.”

“What about frost giants?”

“We’ve drawn up a full report, but the short version is, there is no significant neurological difference between frost giants and humans.”

Fury leaned forward. “They’re not a psycho species. They feel love and a sense of right and wrong like we do.”

“According to both their MRIs and their answers to our questions, yes.”

Fury considered. “We’ll need a censored version of that report to show Odin. As for us, we’re going to have to think very carefully about how to deal with our Asgardian allies from now on.”

On Asgard, Loki sat on Hlidskjalf, cloaked in the illusion that made everyone see him as Odin. Hlidskjalf gave Asgard’s king the power to see everything in the Nine Realms. He had been following the human study of alien brains very closely.

Now, receiving at last an answer to the question that had burned in his heart all of his life, Loki smiled bitterly. And thanked the Norns that at least his adoptive mother had been from Vanaheim.

 

Chapter Text

Asgard’s only prince lay dead amid the rubble of one of Midgard’s greatest cities, his powerful body broken and bloody.

Above him, Thanos roared in triumph. The Odinson was a fine courting gift for his beloved. And then, there were the spoils of this particular battle, lying beside the Asgardian’s swiftly cooling corpse.

Legends of Mjolnir had reached even Thanos’s realm, and long had he determined that one day it would be his. It would be a test, to prove himself worthy of his sweetheart. For her he had sacrificed his very soul, and this weapon of legend would prove that he had held nothing of himself back.

Mjolnir, the legends said, had a peculiar property. Only those who were purely evil, with no taint of goodness anywhere in their souls, could lift it. Its requirements were so exacting that even in a realm as monstrous as Asgard, Asgard which was drowning in the oceans of blood it had spilled for its own glory, Asgard whose palace was bursting with relics stolen from its victims, only two denizens of that vile realm were wicked enough to lift it.

One was its king, the tyrant who had oppressed every realm within his reach for thousands of years. The other was his spawn, the Blond Butcher of Asgard, who had spent his life terrorizing those realms in his father’s name.

As Thanos stepped near it, he felt a hint of worry. Despite how many billions he had slain for his beloved, he would lose her entirely if he failed this test.

He closed his hand on Mjolnir’s shaft, and lifted it.

With a cry of triumph, Thanos hoisted Mjolnir over his head. He had proven he was at least as evil as the All-Father and his brat. Now he would surpass them both in wickedness.

Chapter Text

During the two years after Thor’s invasion of Jotunheim, without his little brother to watch his back Thor sustained numerous head injuries in the battles he engaged in at the slightest provocation. Also, he no longer had Loki to act as a go-between for him. This led to a change in his negotiation strategy, which was to reach its culmination in his offering Loki a choice between death or helping Thor genocide the Dark Elves and then spending 4,000 years in solitary confinement in a blindingly bright cell with no books, furniture or visitors.

 

The first instance was when Thor went to the smith who had been making swords for the royal family for centuries. The old man’s face creased in a smile at the sight of the prince. “What weapon shall I craft for you this time, your Highness?” he asked with eagerness.

“A new longsword with a ruby-studded hilt. Forge it for me or I shall have you executed.”

The swordsmith was startled for a moment, then chuckled. It must be a joke, and laughing at the jests of royalty was good policy. Why in the world would he refuse to ply the trade he had been pursuing happily for centuries, for one of his best customers?

“If you do as I command,” Thor continued, glaring at the smith, “then afterwards I shall chop off both of your hands and allow you to live.”

The swordsmith stared. The utter coldness in Thor’s face made it hard to tell himself that the prince was joking.

“Yes, your Highness,” he stammered at last.

A week later, the swordsmith delivered the ruby-hilted longsword, and Thor kept his promise. The swordsmith staggered home with bleeding stumps in place of hands.

 

One of the palace chefs, a favorite with Asgard’s warriors, was the next to experience Thor’s new method of ensuring compliance. “Roast ten boars for my friends and myself or I will kill you. Do as I say and I shall commute your sentence to being broken on the rack. You will live out your normal lifespan, but crippled and in constant pain.”

The chef, like the swordsmith, assumed that the prince was joking. Two days later, screaming in Asgard’s dungeon, he learned otherwise.

 

One of Asgard’s most beautiful ladies had shared Thor’s bed many times, with great enthusiasm. When he began to eye her one evening at a feast, she happily anticipated a repeat performance. Until he approached her and made his offer.

“Spend tonight with me or I shall cut off your head this minute. If you comply, I will only send you to the training yard to be gang-raped by my fellow warriors tomorrow.”

The lady blanched. She had heard of Thor’s recent agreements. To his astonishment, she requested in a shaking voice that he behead her on the spot. Baffled, he did as she requested.