Beneath the bindings, curled under the chains, a tiny tendril remains. Odin and Frigga’s craft is well-done, and it might have been enough, but for what Loki saw deep in the void.
They should know better, really. A thousand years of mutual study – he of Asgard, Asgard of him – and none of them think to wonder why his plan failed so utterly? His ‘family,’ father, mother, brother – are they truly all so blind?
Loki is bound, Loki is gagged. Loki is locked away, to think about his crimes. To seek enlightenment, in the barest of cells.
Loki bows to no one. Loki is no one’s ally. Loki has never been anyone’s friend, but no one has ever been Loki’s.
A mother’s love went into the chains. A father’s disappointment. A brother’s furious and betrayed hands twined them around him.
He is not immortal, not truly. But he requires no sustenance, the chains keeping him healthy. They suppress both his jötunn nature and his ás magic. He is helpless, shackled to the wall deep in the bowels of the palace where he grew and learned and wondered why nothing he ever did was enough.
It is quiet, here. No guards watch him, though surely Heimdallr rarely looks away. It is quiet and Loki rests his head against the cool stone.
He keeps his mind from ‘his’ army, from Thanos and the tesseract, the weaknesses lovingly offered him by clouded blue eyes. He doesn’t need to ponder his failures, when failures they weren’t.
Loki’s plan was never meant to succeed. It is generous to even call it a ‘plan.’ He merely sought to pit the Chitauri against someone with the might to defeat them, and allow him a moment of peace to reclaim everything that was his before he fell from the bridge.
No. Loki sighs, eyes closed, head against the wall. What he will deny to everyone else, he must admit to himself: he had meant to die, when he let go. Even now, he wishes he had.
He wonders if Heimdallr saw him in the Chitauri’s grasp. Wonders if he told the Allfather. Thor knew they were ‘allies,’ he and Thanos.
If he had no other reason to want Asgard burnt and broken, that would be enough.
This is to be his punishment: eternal solitary confinement. Until he shows remorse for all his great evil. He’s still unclear what his supposed crimes are. Maybe they are like his ‘imagined slights,’ ever the lying silver-tongued Loki. He was king when he turned the Bifröst onto Jötunheimr. He was king when he sent a weapon against traitors, in a world no ás could yet call equal or ally. And he led that Chitauri army, yes, but to their resounding defeat, in a world of petty, squabbling children.
Well. Until Thanos arrives. Maybe Heimdallr’s watchful eye has seen him. Maybe it hasn’t.
Maybe that team of mortals will be able to pound Thanos into the ground. They defeated Loki handily enough.
He smiles, eyes still closed, wondering if his favored servant has found the tiny seed left in him. It won’t sprout, of course, until Loki is free again. Until he gazes upon Loki. Until Loki holds out a hand and calls his name, his beloved little archer.
The plan was never meant to succeed, as such. He did, of course.
Here he is, safe and sound, given time and rest.
The chains are meant to bind his magic. To keep him from touching any of it, inborn or learned. He cannot use brute strength to break the chains; even that green beast would fail. He cannot freeze and shatter them with his hated jötunn biology. He cannot force them with magic.
He could pick them, a trick he learned centuries ago, but he’s enjoying the silence.
Loki Odinson died as he fell. Loki Laufeyson died on a battlefield, a discarded infant. Only Loki is left.
Loki in the stillness. Loki in the quiet. Loki, bound and gagged, forgotten in the bowels of a lie.
Oh, they should all know better, those fools who ignored or jeered for a thousand years.
He sinks into himself, to the place the Chitauri never touched. The place Thanos sought but did not find.
Thanos knew what he had. Odin never did.
A jötunn prince, raised æsir… only Odin and Frigga are yet his superiors, with regards to seidr. Or, well, they were.
Before the void.
Odin should have killed him. Left him to die on Jötunheimr, or executed him when Thor returned with the war criminal Loki, disinherited son, the vile betrayer, insidious and triumphant. So very triumphant, even forced to kneel, head shoved down.
Redemption is possible, Odin intoned before all the court. All of Loki’s crimes were laid bare, while Thor held him down on his knees, one hand curled around his neck.
Thor had done worse while still a boy. Loki was gagged, so he could not defend himself. Not that he would have. No, he learned that lesson well long ago.
Loki the liar. Loki the truth-twister. No, he would not have defended himself to the court or the king.
There is nothing to defend.
He has quiet. He has peace.
He has time.
He has time, and a tendril of magic, deep inside.
Thanos is coming. Thanos, who taught Loki far more than he learned in turn. Thanos, who will raze and destroy in his mad quest. Thanos, who Loki is certain could stand before the Allfather – and survive.
Thanos, who will win because the æsir have forgotten they have equals. Have forgotten there might be a superior force, out in the wilds of Yggdrasil’s branches.
But Loki fell through the void. Loki fell and came out the other side as a distinguished guest of Thanos, and he looked deep into the tesseract, and he knows. He knows.
The tesseract is a stepping-stone, smaller even than the Casket. All relics of a greater time. Ancient – and weakening.
Thanos is coming, and Odin growing older all the time. Thor will be no better a king now than he was during Loki’s last harmless prank, the other realms are spineless, and Loki could warn them.
Should he warn them?
No. He is gagged, after all. He is gagged and his mind at ease. He’ll not waste words on those who refuse to hear.
A thousand years of never being enough, eternities with Thanos (bent and broken, spread wide and plundered, and still Thanos never found his core, the little smoldering pile of ice and fire that is Loki, Loki, Loki the discarded, Loki the abandoned, Loki the endless and Loki the wrathful, Loki who read every book and learned every twist of seidr and fell into the void.
There is nothing, between the worlds. Nothing. But Loki fell through it and landed alive on the other side.
Can any ás before him claim that?
No. Not a single being in any world.
Loki the triumphant, for when all else is taken, he still has himself.)
Eternities with Thanos. There is no one in Asgard who would have withstood him. Especially not Thor.
And Heimdallr saw it all, of course. The All-Seeing. Eyes of Asgard. Heimdallr saw, but no one came for Loki. Heimdallr must have seen it, since Loki had not the strength to shield after his fall.
Loki the forgotten. Loki the lost.
Thanos is coming, and Asgard will burn.
Loki smiles, beneath the gag. His face is sore, his mind quiet.
A thousand years. He can find redemption. The Allfather promised. Think upon his crimes and admit his wrongdoing. Make amends. Repent.
As his greatest servant on Midgard would eloquently say, Fuck that.
If Loki’s intention had been to conquer Midgard with an army gifted from Thanos, he would have failed utterly.
If Loki’s intention was to unbind himself from Thanos, to find somewhere silent and dark to rest, to find someone who could be made loyal only to him…
Well. He smiles, wondering if Heimdallr watches. Of course Heimdallr does.
Deep inside, his magic coils.
They should know better, these people who watched him grow. Watched him learn. Taught him so many things.
They should know that Loki never fails. Intricate are his weavings. Many are his plots. Layers upon layers, oh Loki of the silver tongue.
Thanos will focus on Midgard, at first. And then Asgard will get involved, for Thor’s beloved realm of pets must be protected.
But that is tomorrow. Today, Loki is safe enough. He will let his magic replenish itself and then he will retrieve his servant from Midgard and then they will go to ground and wait.
There are many who find themselves displeased with Asgard’s dominance. All of them will answer Loki’s summons, sent through the air of Yggdrasil’s branches. They will come from Álfheimr, and Svartálfaheimr, and Niflheimr, and Muspellsheimr, and Vanaheimr.
A few might even come from Asgard.
A single loyal servant will be a nice start, since only Thor has ever claimed to be on Loki’s side. And considering Thor was the one who brought him ‘home’ bound and gagged…
Loki truly wishes for Thor to challenge Thanos. He’s quite certain that will end the way Loki’s encounter with the green beast did.
Tomorrow, though. All of that will come tomorrow.
Today, Loki closes his eyes, rests his head on the stone, lets himself find solace in the silence.