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Freefall

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Regicide. Patricide. Attempted genocide. Attempted fratricide.

The words tumble through Thor’s head as he stares down at the All-Father’s throne room floor, Loki slumped silently beside him.

Banishment. Once the bridge is repaired, of course.

Loki has not spoken since the Bifrost. He eats if Thor coaxes him to, he moves when Thor guides him, but otherwise he stares vacantly at the floor and refuses to respond. Thor is beside himself with worry, and the atmosphere in Asgard is not helping. It is not general knowledge that Loki is Jotun, but everyone knows he tried to destroy Jotunheim and most think he tried to supplant Thor’s rightful place on the throne.

Thor knows better. That might have been a step in Loki’s plan, but it was never the point. Loki does best in shadow, at the edges of sight. He is unsuited to the blinding visibility of rule.

“You are dismissed,” Odin All-Father says, his voice distant and uncaring. “Keep him under guard.”

Thor’s jaw tightens, but he does as he is bidden, ushering Loki to his feet with an arm around his back. He has raged at Odin in private, and their father - his father - is heartbroken but resolute. Loki has committed crimes. He has threatened the safety of Asgard and its people and damaged, perhaps irreparably, Asgard’s relationship with Jotunheim.

Now that he knows about the circumstances of Loki’s arrival in Asgard, this is an irony that even Thor can appreciate.

Thor walks them down the grand hallways to his own quarters. He was able to argue against Loki’s outright imprisonment, but the sacrifice was Loki’s access to his own quarters and the promise of a constant guard. Thor is too concerned by Loki’s mental state to leave his side in any case.

Attempted suicide, Thor thinks, and shudders so hard that he feels it reverberate through Loki’s body as well.

He must get them out of Asgard. Even Sif and the Warriors Three watch Loki with open hostility. They have tried repeatedly to sway Thor against his own brother and Thor has been refusing to speak to them for several days now.

Frigga is waiting for them in Thor’s quarters. Of all Asgard, she seems to be the only one still kindly disposed towards Loki, and she has filled in many details for Thor. She helps him settle Loki by the fireplace - not the window, the very idea of Loki next to such a deadly height makes Thor sick with apprehension - and draws him aside.

“Thor,” she says. “We must find someplace else for Loki. I will attempt to reason with Odin but this is not a suitable place for him until then.”

“I know,” Thor murmurs back. “But where shall we go? And how?”

His mother’s hand tightens on his arm at the word ‘we’. “I am glad you plan to accompany him, Thor,” she says. “I will miss you both but I will worry less if you have each other.”

“Of course we will,” Thor reassures her. He will miss Asgard, especially so soon after being returned to it, but Loki must be his primary concern for now. “I have thought some and I believe Midgard would be the best sanctuary. I have allies there and some knowledge of the customs, but we still must wait for the Bifrost to be repaired or for Jane to find us.”

Frigga’s mouth firms. “Loki knows how to travel without the Bifrost.”

Thor stares. “Loki will not even eat if I do not force him. He responds to nothing.”

Frigga takes a deep, considering breath and turns to kneel down by Loki.

“Son,” she says, brushing Loki’s hair off his forehead. Thor does not know what trick Loki used to keep it back, and so it falls in his face since Loki has stopped caring for himself. “Son, your brother is in danger. I need you to take him to Midgard by secret paths.”

There is a long pause, and then Loki’s head turns slightly in her direction. Thor is glad that his hand is on the back of Loki’s chair instead of on Loki himself, for surely his grip would be painful.

“Son,” Frigga repeats, carding her fingers through his hair. “Do you understand?”

Slowly, Loki nods. Frigga reaches up to take Thor’s hand and places it in Loki’s.

“You must go now, Loki. Take care of your brother. I love you.”

Loki’s hand tightens uncertainly around Thor’s, and everything dissolves into madness.