Next time, he thinks, as he falls at even pace, for miles and light-years, to his certain death. Next time, he will know better.
The darkness should sear his eyes and the cold freeze him, but he is from a twilight realm of ice, and there is no such pain as he drifts, but in the distant sight of stars: bright points of light trying to fix him in the endless space, and by seeing them appear and vanish around him he can still tell where Asgard lies.
His magic rests dead in his breast, crushed down by the immensity of his surroundings. He has bypassed eternal laws all his life with mirror tricks, tricked endless space into folding at his convenience to let him through. They take revenge, now, by forcing their vastness on him, making his powers shrivel together to insignificance. He could close his eyes and retreat into his mind, ensorcell himself into sleep and compact dreams to hold until his body gives way. He could look away and stop creating star-maps in his head, drink up the confusion hammering against his mind instead and let go of memory and reality.
He looks on. He is a god, and while the emptiness and the silence dwarf him, he can count the stars; he forces himself to remember, as he falls and falls, against no resistance of air or pull of gravity, Odin's face above him, Thor's stricken, helpless cry. He clings to his certitude of Asgard's location above (beneath) him until repetition makes the meaning fade. He clings to the supreme clarity of the moment when his fingers opened above the abyss: the relief of subtle blinders and chains rusty with the age of centuries falling off him at last.
He has given up nothing, in this fall, that he had not lost already.
He subsists on anger, for a few galaxies, until the feeling fades. He drifts past worlds, sometimes, filled with life and thought, and their presence reminds him of pain that has almost dulled, his body rebelling against him from within with its hunger for air and sustenance.
He has no grounds of course. Odin did only what he thought was right for Asgard, as was his duty. He was treated well, in truth, a prince in Asgard rather than a mere hostage. Odin had saved and spared his life, and thus owned it. He had no claim, after all, to Odin's love. It is his own fault, for having been this careless, his arrogance that made him think he could spot deception in others and control his own fate, his naivety that led him to believe he could have any influence that he did not buy by force or trickery. He has gained so many victories through manipulation and lies, who is he to reproach Odin for doing the same, for being more skilful, more throughout and ruthless, than he has ever been?
(He shudders, patches of blue break through his pale skin. Why didn't he –)
Imagined, screeching noise fills his head, his ears tired form the silence. He does not attempt to think it away: he swallows it, like the burning pain in his stomach, the agony of constant asphyxiation, the stupid simplicity of hindsight.
He should have killed Thor when he was deserted and defenceless on Midgard, leaving the Warrior Three and Sif nothing but a body to bring home. He should have distrusted Heimdall's oath. He should have let Laufey murder Odin in his sleep as promised before striking him down. He should have been less blindsided by care and sentiment.
Next time. His lids feel heavy. Maybe he has slept, in the meantime, and then forgotten he has; the stars and planets dance around him now like hallucinations. The noise wells into songs, madness edging closer, and he will soon find where the end of his immortality lies. He wonders which will give out first, his mind or his body.
He remembers Asgard, in all her glorious contempt, at his feet. He remembers Thor, powerless, at the mercy of his lies. He remembers the Bifrost's whole might in his hands, his very past about to be crushed into dust. Odin has always had all these things, and Thor. He should have known, then.
He is starting to feel the cold now. He mustn't blame himself. Odin took him when he was at his most defenceless: of course he leant into the warmth, like any animal reared from birth, trusting and obedient to the very slaughter. He has learnt that lesson, he has opened his hand, and Thor's scream, in the distance, was so very beautiful: Thor, in all his supposed new-found humility, could never have imagined that something he loves might reject him.
Laugher rises inside him, no air and no sound, just a shattering rumble in his lungs. He spits out blood. Not long now. He thinks of Frigga, briefly, her warm presence by his side whenever he was ill, her cry when Thor told her. Something gives inside him, then, and his consciousness flees him at last.
(He does not know how much longer he flies on before they find him; by then he couldn't have lifted a finger to fight them. He wonders what Odin's hold felt like that first time, as their metal hands drag him in like driftwood. Their world's faint light is blinding him, and he can't help but smile in delight at their hungry, pitiless faces; he thinks of their bodies in bloodless tatters and their caged power, and there's air to carry his voice again, and he knows that he will live.)