♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ ойё Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
If there is one thing Loki knows, it is this: truth is subjective.
Loki prefers to craft lies, knowing intimately what damage the truth may do – he learned that lesson far into the past, when he foolishly informed the realms of Baldur's weakness to mistletoe. How proud he had once been of his discovery, until Baldur was slain, and Loki turned himself towards lies and half-truths, fearing honesty more than any weapon one could bear against him.
Lies are soft and malleable, unlike the hardness of truth, and they form prettily and easily in his head only to drip poisonously off his tongue, venom wrapped in honey.
Truth: Loki is a monster.
Lie: Loki is a favoured son of Asgard.
See how appealing the lie is? Truth hurts. It strips away at the façade of life, baring itself as a wantonly as a maiden whore holding a dagger behind her back. It embraces you and stabs you and causes more pain than a lie ever could.
So far, Loki has yet to find a lie that could hurt him more than his multitude of hidden truths.
Loki finds it to be of no surprise when Odin orders him locked in a dungeon cell far beneath the royal halls, and to discover it to be a cage of stone and metal and magic made specifically to contain him. He's not even surprised to recognise the age of the enchantments and understand that Odin had this cell built and imbued in magic for so long, Loki would have been but a child at the time it was built.
Still, he is relieved when his bindings are removed from him. He can feel the magic in his new prison pressing down on him, suffocating him, draping itself across his body and magic like a shroud. Physical bindings would be superfluous, seen as arrogantly assertive, and if Odin would be anything, it would be one who prefers to be perceived as fair and wise and kind, if rather harsh when needed. The guards would relay Odin’s kindness at Loki's imprisonment, unable to see, sense or feel the enchantments that pressed down upon him.
Oh yes, Odin was so very kind a king.
Loki's new abode is richly furnished for a prison. It has a large four-poster bed, almost exactly the same as the one in his chambers, there are full bookshelves, a roaring fire, torches lining the walls (far too high for him to reach), a large wardrobe, a table with a large flagon and a tray of foods - including his personal goblet standing hidden amongst the array of finger foods and fruits – there is even a comfortable chair in front of a wide, ornate desk, covered with all his favourite (dull, not sharp or pointed, or edged) writing things and a stack of fine parchment. Loki wonders if this is his mother's hand in things. He cannot imagine it would be Odin's personal choice.
He spends a good while touching everything, his hands barely grazing everything in the cell as though he's half afraid everything is simply an illusion, one which would dissipate at his touch. Nothing does, and the ball of tension deep in his gut unravels just the tiniest bit. After traversing most of the room, he returns to the bed, only to frown. Beyond the small space between the bed, and against the wall, is a dark curtain, one virtually the same colour as the stone, making it almost invisible to the naked eye.
Loki sweeps it back carefully, cautiously, and is surprised to find a large bathing chamber, ready for use. There is a large, deep bath, big enough to fit ten copies of himself. The water in it is hot, but not uncomfortably so, and Loki, aching from his fights and imprisonment on Midgard, returns to the main chamber to retrieve a fresh set of clothing. There is none of his usual clothing in the wardrobe – instead, it is filled with soft thin and thick under-shirts, a house robe, and many pairs of thick trousers and socks, even soft shoes, just none of his usual boots.
His hands hover over each item, a faint sense of discomfort filling him. Even though they are all in his colours – dark greens and blacks - they are not clothes for a Prince, they are clothes for a unblooded youth, too young, or one not fit for a blooded warrior's armor. A tremor runs through him at the blatant insult, but Loki forces it back as the magic in the stones hums in warning at his rising temper and stirring magic.
Swallowing the curse on his lips, Loki snarls and snatches a long, thin, soft top, trousers, undergarments and socks before storming back into the bathroom. He undresses with quick, jerky movements, feeling the sting of impotency at the back of his throat, unable to form even the simplest of spells to change the clothes into something more fitting for a Prince, even one as disgraced as he.
The water helps. It sluices the stain of sweat and grime from his skin, and relaxes muscles he hadn't realised were so tightly wound. He scrubs mechanically, allowing his thoughts to wander as he cleans his body. He feels stretched to breaking point, and while the situation on Midgard didn't help matters, Loki knows that he will eventually face a reckoning with his former allies, should he survive whatever punishment Odin and Asgard, and perhaps even Jotenheim decided upon.
Still, there is no reason for him to neglect himself, so he finishes washing, dressing, and retires to the main chamber to choose a book and eat. The flagon is filled with cool fresh water, and he drinks heavily, slaking his thirst hungrily. Eventually, he tires, and strips off his clothes, folding them neatly and placing them on the chair before the roaring fire before he slips into the massive bed to sleep.
The next morning, or rather, when he wakes, unable to tell day from night in his windowless prison, Loki eats, washes and dresses before he chooses to retire beside the fire with a book. He waits, nervous tension strumming along under his flesh, in his bones and rippling through his skin as he tries to anticipate the presence of Odin to lay forth his punishment. As the hours pass, and Loki is left alone, the tension eases, until he tires to the point of needing to sleep again.
It is hard for him to rest. The enchantments press down upon him, every breath feels sluggish and he moves much slower than usual. His body feels weighted, even though he is without his heavy armor, and he can feel his magic being slowly drained from him. His magic replenishes fast, so he will never lack for magic, but the leeching of it is still uncomfortable.
Patiently, he waits for Odin, or Thor, or even the presence of the guards, but no-one comes, and after a while, Loki sets a routine. He wakes, cares for himself, dresses, eats, then reads. The latter half of the day is spent writing down his recent recollections. He has always been very exact, so it takes him quite a while to finish recording his life since Thor was banished from Asgard.
Days pass in this manner, with nothing to change the routine boredom of his days. There are no guards to check on him, unless they can see through the stone walls without him knowing they are there, and there are no visits, not even from an angry, bitter Odin, or a frustrated, unhappy Thor, there is not even a single sign of his fiercely protective mother Frigga. There is simply silence, unless Loki himself breaks it.
The days turn into weeks, and then months, then years. The food is always fresh, and newly replenished when he awakens, the flagon is always full, and his clothes regularly disappear, only to reappear in his wardrobe, clean, and feeling like new. Nothing has changed, except for Loki himself. His face is still beardless, but his hair continues to grow, until he is forced – thanks to a lack of any sharp instrument with which to cut it – to braid it back and tie it with a thin strip of fabric, ripped from a shirt.
The food is always finger friendly and fruit, no knife, or fork, or spoon is provided. There are no shaving instruments in his bathroom, and there are no sharp, or even blunt objects in his chamber cell. Even the walls are satin smooth.
The years turn into centuries, and Loki has read his books so many times he can recite every word by heart. He has written and written and written, until the paper - from a stack that never ends, and with an ink pot that never dries, and with a feather too dull to cause harm, and barely pointed enough to write with, never splinters or fractures or dries out – fills one corner of his cell up past the height of his wardrobe. Hundreds of thousands of sheets of parchment, filled with everything, anything he can think of to stave off the boredom. He's even created his own language, and codes, so complicated that even he needed to refresh himself for many years until that too became boring and easy.
There is no-one for him to talk to, and Loki feels madness, deeper, harsher and emptier than ever before begin to press in on him, weighing him down, drowning him in never-ending time.
He has become accustomed to the magic being leeched from him, to the point where he now no longer really consciously notices it, but the wait is still hard. He wonders if this is to be his punishment – if he is to be cast into the depths of Asgard and forgotten – locked away and discarded now he no longer has any visible, tangible worth.
When he wakes one day, Loki feels different, as though a pressure inside his mind has reached breaking point and snapped. His mind is clearer than ever before, and he wonders if this was a sign that Odin is working some sort of magic to punish him.
The tension rises, then falls as days and then weeks, then months pass, and still there is no sign of any living creature.
A millennium passes, and Loki has forgotten that there was once life outside of his prison. His mind has begun to fray. He speaks to himself out loud, desperate for noise, and has taken to using his hair (long, so long now he leaves it braided in the centre of the floor) to bind his parchment into books, neatly stacked against a wall.
At times, he cannot remember why he is in this prison, but when he does, he feels...oddly regretful at harming Thor’s precious humans. Being alone is hard. For all that Loki often decreed his lack of need for company, forced isolation is much worse than he ever thought it could be, and sometimes he dreams of falling, lost and forever alone.
Loki hates those dreams.
At the beginning of his second millennium, Loki pulls out every single strand of hair on his head, leaving a massive, thick, coiled braid in one corner of his room.
Three centuries after that, his hair reaches the floor. A few centuries after that, and Loki learns to weave with his fingers.
The first thing he creates is a rope. Then a complicated drape for the end of his bed. Then, he learns how to create a whip.
Over the next eight centuries, he perfects his art, and the whip holds strong, as unaging and undamaged as everything else in the room, and Loki is a master at controlling his new weapon. His only weapon, even though he has forgotten what weapons were for.
Halfway through his third millennium, Loki snaps. Insanity finally takes complete hold of him, and he smashes everything in his room that would break. The chairs, bed, even the food. The flagon, made of a soft, curved, brass, merely folds when he stomps it, and there is just enough of his old personality left that he doesn't destroy his parchment and hair bound books, but he burns everything else.
Finally, eventually, he collapses in the middle of the room, lying draped in and on the mass of destruction filling the room; and he sleeps.
When he wakes, the room is untouched and clean, with there being no sign of his tantrum. Everything is fixed. His books are back. The flagon is whole and unmarked, and there is a new array of food awaiting him.
He tries again, and again, his mind worsening every time he awakens to find the room perfectly in order, wondering if his mind is playing tricks on him. He begins to question whether he's even real or not, he questions his life, his reality, dreading that he may be locked in a never-ending dream.
One day, unable to bear it any longer, Loki uses his whip to hang himself from the end of his four-poster bed. He feels his neck snap, his airways close, and he chokes to death, feeling the pain from broken neck bones and the feel of slowly being suffocated to death.
It doesn't last. He wakes up still hanging from the bed, his neck healed, and he slowly chokes to death twice more before he manages to release himself from his whip.
The next time he tries to kill himself, he throws himself into the fire – but it doesn't burn him.
He tries drowning next, but all that happens is he chokes to death, then wakes up floating.
Then he tries ripping the skin open at his wrists. He uses his teeth, gnawing at his flesh, breaking the skin, tasting fresh blood and not stopping until he feels the room spin.
When he wakes, to a room with no traces of blood, with healed wrists and with no pain anywhere he laughs, low and raspingly, through muscles that haven't made any noise in centuries.
Then he cries.
Four centuries into his fourth millennium, Loki has taken to his bed. He lays in a trance, neither awake, nor asleep. His mind unable to take the silence, the loneliness. He has forgotten much of himself, even his magic. He has felt the press of the enchantments on and in the stone of his prison for so long he has forgotten why they are there, why he is in there, and he's starting to forget who he is. He has forgotten Asgard, and Midgard, and all the realms beside them. He has forgotten Odin, Frigga and the Avengers. He has forgotten his brother, although the memory of hauntingly sad blue eyes floats through his dreams.
There is nothing left but the shell of a man who once was a God and a King, and all that remains is the body of Loki, with his mind long lost.
A fifth millennium passes, then a sixth, then a seventh, and Loki lays, as though carved out of stone on a bed upon which no dust settles. His hair continues to grow, but does not burn, even when it covers the floor and whispers across the fireplace. His skin pales. His eyes lose their colour and slowly begin to fade into whiteness.
Loki doesn't know, wouldn't care anyway, he lays suspended in his own mind, his chest barely rising and falling outside his mind.
By the twelfth millennium, even Loki's mind is empty. He has retreated so far inside himself there is almost nothing left.
Then, one day, far into his sixteenth millennium, the walls of his stone prison part.
What makes a truth; belief, or knowledge? Is Loki a monster because he believes it, or is he one because others believe his race is?
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ тщо Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
“You do not understand! You must speak with him!”
Thor disentangles Frigga's long fingers from his cape, gazing down at her tear-filled eyes regretfully. “Mother, you know I cannot. Brot- no, Loki deserves punishment, and Father is wise. Loki must learn, as I did, what is acceptable; and what is not.”
Frigga clenches her fingers tighter, the red material bunching in her grasp. “No Thor, you do not understand what the All-Father has planned for your brother-”
Thor sighs. “Mother. Come now, it has only been a handful of weeks since Loki's imprisonment. I am sure that father is deliberating very carefully on the punishment Loki deserves. Father is not rash, there will be time to speak with him once he has made up his mind on the best course of action.”
Frigga swallows slowly, her throat dry. “Oh Thor, my son, my child...you know not what you condemn your brother to,” she whispers, her fingers releasing the fabric of Thor's cloak.
“If things are so dire, why do you not speak to Father?” Thor tilts his head, watching with mild discomfort as his mother's gaze becomes anguished.
“I have tried. Oh my son, how I have tried!” Frigga stops and takes in a deep breath. “I am forbidden to speak of Loki's punishment to any, and your Father will not heed my warnings. Please Thor, please, help me.”
The newly built Bifrost Bridge gate is only steps ahead. Thor pauses before the open entrance and turns to grasp his mother's hands. “Mother, seek me out when Father issues forth Loki's punishment. I will be there to ensure it is fair and carried out correctly,” he soothes, ignoring the tears that slowly slide down Frigga's cheeks. He hardens his heart, knowing that his mother has always been soft where his brother was concerned, and this time, Loki had done too much, gone too far. He needed a suitable and appropriately harsh punishment.
“Now, Midgard awaits, and I have much to do there. Fare thee well Mother,” he says softly, keeping his gaze fixed on the lights as Heimdall opens the Bifrost to Earth. “I will return Mother, and do not fret, Father will not condemn Loki to death,” he consoles gently as he steps into the gateway and disappears.
“No,” Frigga whispers as Heimdall closes the gate. “No my son, that is exactly what I fear.”
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
A month passes on Midgard, then another, and another. Thor has forgotten about Loki's punishment, insofar as he knows he will be summoned at the needed time, and so he spends his time split between the Avengers, and Jane Foster. Both relationships are proceeding well, and Thor is happy.
Six months pass, and still Thor hears no more from Asgard. This is not all that unusual, he thinks when he remembers about Loki's situation. The All-Father is wise and just, and if he believes he needs the time to carefully deliberate on Loki's fate, then Thor is all too happy to wait.
With the Avengers, Thor helps defeat many an enemy, although the one they call Dr Doom most reminds Thor of Loki. They have the same kind of genius cunning, and slowly, Thor begins to miss his brother.
When he is with Jane, his worries seem to pass him by, and he lives for the days he sees her. There is something like immortality in his Jane, Thor thinks, when he watches her work. She thinks not of gaining prizes, but of simply explaining the understanding all humans have of the universe. Thor will miss her when she is gone.
Nearly a year after Thor's return to Midgard, he knows he cannot put things off any longer. Even though there has been no word from his mother, and no decree from his father, Thor knows things must be brewing, and without him there, he fears for Loki's continued well-being. So, he says goodbye to Jane and the Avengers – promising to return – and calls Heimdall to transport him to Asgard.
Asgard has not changed, neither has Heimdall.
“Heimdall, how fares my brother?” Thor calls out when the gate closes and quietens behind him.
The other man does not blink, but the confusion is apparent on his face. “Brother?” he questions, his voice deep and bland.
Thor frowns. “Loki, my brother,” he enunciates slowly, “how does he fare?”
“Thor, my prince, you have no brother.”
Thor's frown deepens. He knew Heimdall held no fondness for Loki, but this blatant disregard was unsettling. He clenches his jaw and flies back to the main palace, heading straight for his mother's chambers.
Thor smiles as his mother rises and embraces him warmly. “Mother,” he greets affectionately, holding her close for the span of a few minutes before releasing her.
Frigga waves away her handmaidens and invites Thor to sit beside her. He does, with a heavy heart and an equally heavy body. He takes her hands in his.
“Mother, how fares Loki?” he asks intently.
Frigga laughs, her eyes showing no recognition of Loki's name. “Who? Is this some friend you have gained on Midgard?”
Thor frowns deeply. “Loki, my brother, adopted by you and Father,” he states uncomfortably, “where is he?”
Frigga blinks rapidly, showing confusion. “Brother?” she questions. “Thor, you have only ever been my only son.” She holds up a hand to his forehead, gently pressing. “Do you feel feverish?” she asks worriedly.
Thor stands. “Where is Father?”
“He is in Alfheim, brokering a treaty.” Frigga stands, and casts her worried gaze over her son. “Come, eat and rest, speak to your friends, I know they have missed thee dearly. They would welcome your company.”
There's a knot of tension and fear building in Thor's belly, and a sudden dread falls over him. “I will eat and drink once I have seen my friends; do you know where they might be?”
Frigga nods. “They have been seen daily in the training fields,” she informs him, her smile widening. “Go then, see your friends.”
Thor hurries away, trying to seem eager to meet his friends, but all he can feel is the cold fingers of dread digging under his skin.
“Ho! My friends!” Thor calls out when he nears the ring the others are fighting in. Sif and Fandral stand to one side as Volstagg and Hogun battle in the dusty ring.
“Thor!” Sif is the first to react, running to meet him. He claps her on the shoulder, his face split in a wide grin as the others make their way over.
“It is good to see you, my friends,” Thor proclaims.
“And you,” Fandral smiles brightly, his eyes raking in Thor's image from head to toe. “You look good. I take it Midgard has treated you well?”
“Very,” Thor replies, teeth glinting.
“The Lady Jane seems good for you,” Sif says slyly, her lips curving.
“And the food?” Volstagg asks, looking Thor over as though he expects Thor to have shrunk in size.
“The fights?” Hogun continues, head cocked to the side.
Thor laughs, lost in the moment. “Ah, my friends, how I have missed thee!”
There's a roar and Volstagg pounces, embracing the blond, with Fandral sighing but joining the hug, and Sif dragging Hogun in to join them.
“So,” Sif starts as they come apart, hands lingering, “what brings you back to Asgard?”
“Not that we are not glad to see your face!” Volstagg rumbles.
Fandral crosses his arms, face split in a beaming smile. “Aye, it is good to see you, but were you not living with your lady love?”
Hogun raises a brow, looking content at the others asking the questions, and Thor cannot help but laugh at the familiar motion.
“My friends, the Lady Jane has welcomed me into her heart and her home, and my work with Midgard's heroes has been very fulfilling, however,” Thor pauses, his face becoming serious, “I am concerned about my brother.”
“Brother?” The warriors three and Sif exchange looks, and Thor feels his heart drop to his stomach.
“Aye, you remember him? Loki, Trickster and Liar, full of menace and madness and fun and folly?” Thor questions.
“Thor...you have no brother,” Fandral starts, trailing off as Thor's face darkens.
“Do none of you remember him?” Thor turns to Sif. “Remember how he cut off your glorious golden locks and replaced them with black?” To Hogun he asks, “Do you not remember how he enchanted the halls outside your chambers to lead you in circles for an entire day?” At Volstagg he points out, “Remember how he kept changing your wine to milk?” And with Fandral, “Do you not remember how he kept changing himself into different maidens to tease you?”
The others simply shake their heads.
“Thor, I chose to have my hair changed,” Sif says slowly, as though remembering something that happened in the past, something Thor knows could not have happened.
“Aye,” Volstagg nods, “and I remember my wine being exchanged to milk by a flirty maiden, hoping for my attention.”
“I do not get lost,” is all Hogun says.
“Fair maidens?” Fandral laughs, “Thor, every maiden I have met has been fair and a maiden, none have been enchanted or disguised!”
“Do you really believe this?” Thor asks, his voice lowering until it is but a loud whisper.
“Perhaps you have lived through a dream of some sort on Midgard,” Fandral offers, looking hopeful, as though Thor is moments away from madness.
“No,” Thor clenches his fists. “Excuse me please.”
The halls are mostly empty as Thor strides fast and fearfully to his chambers. There is no dust, so the room has been cleaned regularly in his absence, but otherwise his room is untouched. He searches his wardrobe for the small dagger Loki once gave him when they were youngsters, learning the art of war. The dagger is small, sharp, and bound in green dyed leather, and Thor finds it easily, smiling as he remembers the day it was gifted to him by his little brother.
Although he has long outgrown the need for a small blade, having long since earned Mjölnir, he has always been fond of it, and now he is glad for it, for he now has proof that Loki is not simply a construct of his mind, and so he attaches the dagger and sheath to his belt, opposite to Mjölnir and exits his room.
He walks slowly back to his mother's chambers. He cannot help but wonder if this is some plan of Loki's, to make all who would wish him dead to forget him, to escape their wrath and fear and hatred – but why then, he thinks – would Loki make Frigga forget him? Frigga who raised him, loved him, tended to him as a child and encouraged his interest in the magical arts?
It does not make sense to him.
Then again, much of what Loki has done of late has not made much sense to him.
Frigga is weaving quietly with only three of her handmaidens when Thor returns.
“Mother, I would speak with Father,” he begins cautiously. “Can you tell me where in Alfheim he has gone?”
Frigga sighs and leaves her weaving. The brief glimpse Thor has of it makes his mind spin. It is sometimes hard to remember that his mother is a powerful goddess in her own right, weaving the truth of the universe on her loom, when she has always been so soft and approachable and kind to all within his sight.
“Odin speaks to the High Court. He seeks to draw a favour from the Queen,” Frigga informs him quietly.
“I see,” Thor does, he really does, but he cannot understand why his father has chosen now when their treaty with Alfheim has been suffering for centuries. “Mother, I will visit Father, please inform my friends should they search for me.”
Frigga smiles, soft and slightly strained. “Of course my son,” there's a pause, then, “be careful, your father has not been in a good mood as of late,” she warns.
Thor nods, but does not say anything else. He waits until he is outside the palace before he flies back to Heimdall.
“I wish to see my Father on Alfheim,” is all he says to Heimdall, forgoing all other greetings.
Heimdall's eyes stay carefully averted from Thor, and unease ripplies up Thor's spine.
When Heimdall opens the gate, Thor wastes no time in stepping through it, landing softly on Alfheim, in a lush green field. A city looms in the distance, beautiful, but nowhere near as extravagant as anything on Asgard.
The palace is the largest, most ornate and ostentagious structure in the sprawling city, and Thor heads for the front gate, wasting no time. When he lands, there is a contingent of guards dressed in blue and gold livery, their swords unsheathed and aimed threateningly at Thor.
“Who are thee?” asks one of them.
“I am Thor, Prince of Asgard,” Thor booms. “I seek my Father!”
The swords are sheathed, and the guards fall into formation. The one who spoke stands before Thor. “Follow me,” he says curtly.
It does not take long for Thor to find his father. Odin is resting in his guest chambers, alone.
“Father,” Thor greets.
There's a long pause.
“Why did you come here Thor?” Odin asks, something dark in his gaze.
Thor straightens. “Father, there are strange happenings on Asgard,” he begins.
“Aye Father. I returned to Asgard to seek answers about Loki, and yet, there are none who remember him.”
Odin stares, his gaze unflinching. “Loki?”
Thor draws in a deep breath. “Loki, my brother. Your adopted son,” Thor enunciates slowly, deliberately.
Odin frowns. “You are my only son.”
“Is this a test?” Thor asks accusingly, his eyes darkening. “Have you decided to find out if any of us would miss my brother?” Thor's voice slowly rises. “I swore an oath to protect him, Father!”
“No, Thor, this is no test,” Odin bites out coldly. “You have no brother. I have no son; other than you.”
“Loki! My brother! The magician, trickster, liar and cunning warrior! I did not imagine him into being Father! When you locked him up and went to deliberate on his punishment, I stood aside, knowing I would be summoned when you decided on his sentence – but this madness! This! Father-”
“Stop!” Odin roars, hand up. He draws in one solid, deep breath, and visibly attempts to calm himself down. “I know of no Loki, I know of no brother, and if this...this person you have dreamed up needed punishment, delivered by me, then maybe you have a deeper issues to attend to. Go, see the palace healers.”
“Father,” Thor starts, then stops. He gazes pensively at Odin. Cocking his head to the side, Thor decides on a different route. “If you were to lock up a prisoner adept with magic, where would you place him?”
Odin clenches his jaw so hard Thor thinks he may crack his teeth. “Below the Palace, underneath the Vault.”
Thor nods. “Then I shall leave you Father.”
“Wait, Thor. Stop this madness. I know you have sworn to protect your younger brother, but you cannot protect what does not exist.” Odin says, sighing deeply.
“Aye,” Thor replies, and leaves.
He has much to do.
In which Thor quests, finds a magic ring, and meets three Goddesses.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ тнґёє Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
Thor ignores Heimdall and flies straight for the palace. He only makes it as far as the inner chambers above the vault before he is waylaid by Fandral, Volstagg, Hogun and Sif, with his mother standing anxiously behind them.
“Mother, my friends,” Thor greets cautiously.
“Thor,” Sif starts, biting her lip. She glances at the others before drawing herself upright and stiff. “We would like you to join us in the Healers' chambers.”
“I do not need healing,” Thor bites out, eyes narrowing.
“Thor, please?” Frigga steps forward and places a hand gently on Thor's wrist.
“Mother,” he says softly, “there is nothing wrong with me. I believe there has been an enchantment cast upon the palace.”
“An enchantment strong enough to affect everyone living in the palace?” Fandral asks sceptically. “Thor, do you know how hard it would be to work any kind of magic upon the whole palace?”
“Aye, Volstagg rumbles, “surely we would know that magic has been wrought.”
Thor knows he can argue, but all that would do is waste time. “Fine, I will see the healers,” he grinds out through gritted teeth, “but when we are done you will not attempt to dissuade me from Loki's existence.”
There's a slight lull before Frigga answers. “Agreed,” with some relief.
It's not until he's laying down on a soft bed in the healing room he prefers that he realises that Odin had said 'younger brother' when Thor knows for certain he never stated Loki's age.
A flash of red-hot anger fills him, and Thor lunges up from the bed, startling the healers, summoning Mjölnir to his hands and running down to then chamber beneath the Vault.
There's nothing there.
There are stone steps leading to a stone corridor...but it ends in a blank stone wall. There are no corridors leading anywhere, and there are only a handful of torches. To the casual observer, this is a pointless hall leading nowhere.
Thor roars with fury, not daring to trust his eyes. He slams his hammer against the stones, but nothing breaks.
Eventually, winded and frustrated, Thor stalks back up the stairs.
When Thor commands Heimdall to open the gate to Vanaheim, he doesn't miss the flash of doubt in the other's eyes. He imagines that the rumors of his ill mind are spreading, but he doesn't care.
When he lands, beside a wide, flowing river, there are three women, seemingly waiting for him. Vár and Vör he recognises, Vár as the one who holds his oath to protect Loki, and Vör, who had often been the word of warning when he became too reckless. He regrets now that he never listened to her warnings about Loki, how he was pulling away, isolating himself. Maybe if he'd acted differently in their youth...
But no, he hasn't got time for introspection now. Vár introduces her second companion as Sága. Thor has heard of Sága before. Famed as a seer, and a powerful one at that, many travel to Vanaheim to seek her wisdom, but it is said to be almost impossible to find her unless she wants to be found.
“You search for your brother,” Sága states, her voice deep and echoing.
Thor nods. “Aye.”
“Do you know what you risk by searching for him?” Vör asks.
“I do not care; he is my brother.”
“Will you keep your vow to keep him safe? To care for him, love him, comfort him and protect him with all that you are?” asks Vár.
“Aye, for as long as he so lives.”
“Then you should know, Thor, Odin's son, that your father has always feared your brother. His potential, his possibilities...all of them, your father has long since wanted to control, and if not, then destroy,” Sága warns him.
Sága's voice lowers, and there's something dark in her tone and in her eyes. “I have seen many futures, child. In most, your brother is a force for evil chaos, in a few, he is a force simply for chaos, and in very, very few, he is a force for good and chaos. The one thread which Loki Liesmith, the Silvertongue, Laufeyjarson and former Odinson, bears burden to in all futures if the thread of chaos. Chaos is impossible to control, to contain, and when your father asked about Loki's future when the boy was but a babe, I told him that chaos cannot be controlled, merely directed, but your father was too stubborn to listen. Will you do the same?”
“I swear, I will listen,” Thor cannot help but feel as though he has been bound to a vow when he sees Vár nod.
“Then hear me well, Thor, God of Thunder and Storms, Hailer of Lightning, Holder of Mjölnir, with Strength beyond Wit, and son of Odin All-Father; your father has bound your brother in an abomination. For thousands of years, the prison Odin had created has been waiting, growing in power, and Loki has been trapped in its embrace for far too long to bear. I can see him, and yet he is beyond sight.”
“What must I do to free him?”
“Retrieve Draupnir. The walls of Loki's prison will conduct magic, but to release him, every ring hole must be filled. How many there are, I do not know, but they are many. You must not let another take the ring from you until this task is completed.”
“How will I find him?”
“Wear Draupnir. When you are close to the prison, the ring will glow, and reveal the locations of the ring holes. Every night, Draupnir will create another eight rings. Use them to fill in the holes, but be warned, do not let any other than you touch them. Should one ring be removed from the wall, all the others must be removed, and you will need to begin again.”
Sága's expression softened. “Take care, there are some who would not see your brother released, and I fear this might all be for naught. There is a chance your brother has lost too much of himself, and will never recover.”
“How long,” Thor asks suddenly. “How long has he been imprisoned?”
“Do you truly want the answer to that?” asks Vör.
Thor turns his gaze to the other woman. “Yes. Loki is my brother, and I must know his suffering, or I may never understand what he needs to heal.”
“Very well,” Vör answers, before turning her attention to Vár, ignoring Thor as he looks to Sága for answers.
“Every month on Asgard is one thousand years for your brother,” Sága informs Thor bluntly.
“It is truth.”
“Father...Father would not do such a thing! Surely! Loki...he has but eight thousand years to his name. You mean to tell me he...he...” Thor trails off, unable to believe his own words. “Twelve thousand years...?”
Thor turns for face Vár, who has a very bleak look on her face, one Thor is unaccustomed to seeing on her gentle and fair features. “Yes?”
“When you retrieve Loki, do not tally on Asgard. Loki will not be safe there.” There's a pause as Vár removes something from a pouch belted to her side. The ring she hands him is small, thin, and gold. “Place this on Loki's left hand, it will mask him from scrying.”
The ring is tiny in Thor's large hand. “Thank you.”
“I give you nothing but a warning – Do not let Odin speak to Loki alone,” Vör states firmly.
“I will ensure he does not,” Thor agrees.
“Then go, Thor, and free your brother.”
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Draupnir is difficult to find at first. It is not locked away in the Vault, nor is it in Odin's private treasure chamber. Thor has seen Draupnir only once before, but the ring, so pale a gold it was almost white, gleamed brightly with an inner fire that made it hard to hide.
It takes a while, but Thor decides to use his mind instead of running around Asgard trying to find one of Odin's treasure pieces. He thinks about the ring, about the gold, about it creating eight other gold rings every night, and the answer comes to him.
Asgard has always been hailed as the Golden Isle, but they had never once suffered for a lack of enchanted gold, not since Draupnir was created. Which meant...there was only one place for Draupnir to be hidden – beneath the city, above the metalsmiths. No-one would blink to see metalsmiths and enchanters surrounded by gold, and it would be the perfect place to hide a ring that created gold.
Surprisingly, Draupnir isn't that hard to find in the caves beneath the city. It hangs mostly forgotten, hung on a hook above a massive mound of gold, at least a thousand metres high. It takes only a short flight with Mjölnir for Thor to reach the ring, and he unhooks it gently and flies back to his chambers before placing the ring on his middle left finger.
The glow is almost gone from the ring, or maybe it just seemed brighter as a child.
This time, when Thor returns to the stone corridor, the far wall flares and hundreds of small round holes appear.
The sight brings Thor to tears.
It will take him four months to open the stone prison. Eight rings a night. Almost a thousand holes.
And so it begins.
In which we see Loki's thoughts during his imprisonment.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ fоцґ Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
I have been stuck in this infernal prison for over three weeks, and I have yet to see hide nor hair of anyone. Odin himself most likely believes I will be easier to handle with some softening.
I find myself surprised that
my brother Thor has not seen fit to confront me. Perhaps he feels he would be unable to control his anger if faced with me. I wonder if all his little mortals survived. I know his team-mates unfortunately did, but I remember his reaction when I felled his acquaintance whilst he was caged. Mayhap he feels leaving me to rot until Odin condemns me would be a good thing.
I am beginning to feel sick of the food I have been given. It is never hot, and all of it must be eaten with my fingers, as though I am a weaning child. The fruit at least is varied.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
This is an insult! How dare they leave me here alone for so long! Do they think me weak? Do they believe I will fall gracefully upon Odin's spear when I am graced with the presence of another? Damn Odin All-Father and his line!
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Am I forgotten? Is this my punishment? By Odin's eye, if this is some kind of Midgard inspired punishment... I have heard of 'Time Out' and if Odin believes he can treat me like a misbehaving child then he will face my full wrath!
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Where is Thor?
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Am I truly to be forgotten? Does
my brother Thor truly feel that I deserve this? Can they not at least do me the service of telling me to my face that this is to be my fate, locked away and lost in the depths of my home Asgard's golden palace?
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I remember the first time I watched Thor fight. I was still too young to hold a blade of my own, and Thor...he looked so bright and bold and magnificent to my untrained eyes. I felt that nothing would ever be able to touch him. I guess I was right, for until I cast my weapons against him, he never lost.
I cannot think of what he lost to me, except the ability to call me his brother.
Why does that hurt?
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Mother used to let me sit at her knee as she wove the tapestry of the world. I remember watching the threads change their patterns under her fingers, glowing with life and beauty. When I was older, I kept to my magic, searching for that feeling I had when I watched her work her will on the world. With my magic, I could almost, almost see the threads of life and death, binding all things together.
I wonder...when did I lose my sight?
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Why did Thor have to be so blind? Could he truly not see my suffering? Could he watch as his...friends, humiliated me, toyed with me, tormented me and called everything a game, look on and laugh and not see anything amiss?
Liesmith they all called me. Silvertongue. They forget that my first 'lies' were simply truths they chose to ignore, and if the truth is always ignored, or comes to end in ill, what then is left but lies?
Poor Baldur. Poor, precious Baldur. Perhaps if he had not died because of my truths, I would not feel so lost.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I once loved Sif.
There was a time when I was young, when golden Sif was all I could think about. She wagered a bet against me – if I could defeat her in battle, she would gift me with a lock of her hair; a high honour from a warrior maiden.
I was not a fighter then, and so undoubtedly Sif believed she would be the uncontested winner. Our bet was private, but on the day she brought Thor and his other friends, no doubt to see me lose against a woman.
I won, with trickery and magic, which had not been ruled out as an option, and Sif, so angry, refused me the lock of her hair.
I admit, I was not in the mood to be played with, so that night I snuck into her chambers and sliced off her long sleeping braid at the neck and took it as my reward for defeating her in combat.
That was the first time I realised my brother was capable of harming me. He beat me so badly I spent a month in the healing chambers, and was forced to make amends.
I changed Sif's hair black, so she would always remember her treachery.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I do not know how old I was when I first realised I had less worth than
my brother Thor. I believe it happened slowly, with numerous small things building until I could no longer see anything but the truth – and the truth always hurts.
There was a time when we were children, and Thor wished to see the orchards of Idunn. I counselled against it, as the orchards were forbidden to all except a precious few, and we were not on the list of those who were permitted to enter, but Thor, as always, refused to heed my warnings.
I could not let the oaf wander off by himself, so I joined him, and with my wiles we managed to sneak inside. Thor gorged himself on ripe golden apples, and I have to admit I ate more than a few myself, but all good things come to an end, and we were found.
When faced with
our father Odin, Thor panicked and threw the accusing finger at me, stating that I wanted to see the orchard and forced Thor to come along to help me.
Odin, of course, believed Thor, and I was punished once for 'leading' Thor into misbehaving, and then punished again for lying when I insisted that it was Thor's idea, and not my own.
This was but one event in a series of them, and soon it became habit for Thor to insist I put ideas in his head, or lured him into behaving badly, or that I twisted my words to trick him into acting in a way he would not normally do.
When Sif and the Warriors' Three joined us, matters became worse, for Thor then had four voices agreeing with him, and I was thus renamed Liesmith.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I killed my own father.
I am a monster.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I wonder how much of Jotenheim survived.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I hate my hair.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
In which Thor finally frees Loki, but all is not well.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ fїvё Oº°‘¨
Thor stands before the stone wall of Loki's prison, where with the hundreds of holes are, and waits until the ring on his left hand warms, and the tinkle of eight identical white-gold rings hits the floor. Then, with slow, deliberate movements, Thor starts at the bottom left and slowly fills the holes towards the right. When he's done, the wall looks pathetically empty, but hope blooms inside his chest.
He leaves, but places Mjölnir around the handles of the door, so only he will be able to enter the hall. He eats, sleeps, and returns to the hall alone.
For fourteen days and nights Thor repeats this cycle. He bathes when he needs to, and otherwise tends to his needs, but every spare moment is spent staring at the slowly filling wall of holes. Sometimes he places a hand against the stone wall, and tries to picture Loki on the other side. By the time he will be able to open Loki's prison, at least sixteen millennium will have passed, and Loki might not even be alive. He wonders if his brother could bear to take his own life, and he half dreads finally entering the chamber, only to find his brother long dead and rotted into dust.
When he leaves the hall, he is sometimes stopped by his friends, or even his mother, and, on two separate occasions, guards. He ignores them all.
He has heard that his father has moved on to Nifelheim, and he wonders what business he could have in the desolate realm.
Before now, he would have denied Odin's capability of such cruelty.
He always was so blind.
The wait to free Loki is unbearably long. Thor knows his mother and his friends are worried for him, but even they could not deny the strangeness of the stone wall, and he feels they may even be half afraid of what lay on the other side.
Too often, Thor finds himself thinking about the past, about Loki and about who he used to be. The realisation that he has not seen Loki smile happily in far too many decades to count makes him feel uneasy, and he wonders how blind he had been.
There has always been something delicate about his brother – not weak, never weak – more like a blade of glass, sharp, deadly, and half unseen until it lands a strike. Glass, however sharp and deadly is still glass, and glass shatters under weight and with too heavy a blow.
Thor remembers Loki's manic smiles as they fought, when the Chitauri attacked, when Thor was forced to fight his brother seriously, oh so seriously. Not like their games as children when Loki was always awed by Thor's mastery over any weapon he chose, until Mjölnir chose him and he put aside all other weapons.
Before his banishment, Thor would have answered any who asked about his brother with the same answer, that Loki was happy. Mischievous, yes, and sometimes cruel, but to Thor, Loki had always seemed emotionally impenetrable.
Now...his answer would not, could not be the same.
By the time three and a half months crawl past, Thor has worn himself ragged. He keeps the doors to the hall leading to Loki's stone prison locked with Mjölnir as he prepares to leave Asgard, maybe for good.
Bitter and angry with his father, Thor wastes no time in ransacking Odin's private treasure chamber. The room is incredibly massive, with thousands and thousands of years worth of treasure – but Thor only takes what he needs.
A stout, plain, wooden chest, inlaid with finely wrought black metal. Said to be incapable of being filled, and never gaining any weight, Thor believes it to be exactly what he needs to store everything he and Loki have ever owned.
He empties Loki's chambers first. Untouched since Loki was last in Asgard, everything coated with a sheen of dust, it seems far too empty and lifeless to Thor, who remembers many a day spent in these very chambers, annoying his brother into coming to join him outside.
It's painful, removing all signs of Loki's previous life. Thor packs away Loki's books first, then his extensive wardrobe, and even more extensive array of magical materials. He takes even the furniture, the magic of the chest allowing it to retrieve whatever it is placed upon and commanded to take. The bed is left for last. One side of it is unmade, and Thor crawls into the bed and hold the used pillow to his face, allowing his tears to fall.
Emotionally exhausted, Thor finally, eventually, takes the bed, and the room is empty of everything – even the tapestries from the walls, and all that remains is the fireplace built into one wall.
Then, Thor moves on to his own chambers. Things move much faster here, and it takes Thor but a few scant hours to banish his entire life into the chest.
It doesn't feel like it is enough.
Thor ransacks the library next. He knows, from Loki, that there are entire halls and rooms of books that no-one has touched in eons, except for Loki, and he empties the rooms of everything, even the shelves. It makes him feel oddly better to take from Asgard to make recompense for Loki's anguish, when Asgard has cost Loki so much.
When there is nothing left in the library's dusty rooms for him to take (although he left the main area of the library alone, knowing it to be used occasionally), Thor heads back to Odin’s treasure chamber. There may come a time when Thor will need to make deals with the other realms, and he will need something to barter with, so, he takes stacks of finery that Odin has long forgotten about, stuffed in dusty corners. He takes enchanted weapons that Odin has never used, or likely seen more than once, and he takes piles and piles of gold.
When he's done, the room still looks untouched, there is that much crammed in there.
He takes the small chest with him back to Loki's prison and waits for the rings to fall from his hand.
Two days before Thor can open Loki's prison, he takes the chest with him and steals over half of the golden apples from Idunn's orchard. Their healing properties are unmatched, and Thor feels no guilt as he takes them.
The day before Thor can open Loki's prison, he empties the royal pantries of every drop of their precious honey. When Loki was younger, he had a great weakness for the honey that Asgard traded with Vanaheim for, but as he grew older, and learned that sweet treats were for children, he stopped asking for the honey.
Then the day that Thor can open Loki's prison finally comes.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Mjölnir feels heavy in his hand, even though he's using it to fly to the top of the wall to place the last rings into their slots. Thor can't remember ever feeling this tense, this nervous, this fearful. His fingers tremble as he places the small rings carefully, gently in their places, terrified that he's going to drop one, or dislodge one and have to start all over again.
It's taken just over four months to fill the wall in, and when the last ring finally slots into place, and the wall shimmers blue, Thor inhales sharply, his stomach churning as the wall slowly fades away to reveal the chamber beyond.
The first thing Thor sees is the sea of black, almost three foot deep. With the hammer still helping him fly, Thor hovers into the room, his eyes seeking a sign, any sign, of Loki.
Four posts with a canopy to one side must be a bed, Thor thinks, and he lands softly on the black mass beside the bed, his hands shaking as he parts the – hair? - to reveal Loki's blank face.
He's pale. So pale. Long black eyelashes rest on cheeks so white they look like carved marble. Loki's skin is so colourless, Thor can see the blue veins beneath the skin at Loki's temples, and he lets out a cry of relief when he realises Loki must still be alive.
Mjölnir falls from Thor's grasp, and he wastes no times in gathering his motionless brother into his arms, tears falling unashamedly from his eyes onto Loki's long hair.
“Loki, oh my brother!”
Thor kisses his brother gently, softly, on his brow, horror filling him as he gazes around the chamber Loki has spent sixteen millennium in.
“Do not worry brother,” Thor whispers, hands tightening their hold on Loki's thin form, “I will take care of you.” He swallows though a dry throat and mouth. “Wake for me brother, please, wake for me,” he begs, but there is no response.
Thor stays there, for how long he does not know, just cradling Loki to his chest, his hands stroking Loki's incredibly long, inky hair. He whispers constantly, begging Loki to wake, to open his eyes, and, when that fails, he tells Loki of all that has happened during his imprisonment, his voice catching every other sentence or so. He's crying, so much that he can barely see, but he doesn't know if they're tears of relief at finding Loki alive, or tears of sorrow and fear as Loki lays there unresponsive.
Eventually, an age later, Thor lays Loki back down and retrieves the chest from its place outside the prison. He places it beside the bed and gathers Loki back into his arms, places him carefully against his side so he can free one arm. He draws the small dagger from his belt and slices Loki's hair off at the waist, before tapping the chest and commanding it to take the hair.
Within seconds, the floor is clear, and Thor places Loki back down on the now clear bed. It takes him less than an hour to pack up everything in the room into the chest, and he holds Loki in his arms as he takes the bed.
When the room is finally empty, Thor holds Loki in a tight embrace and hangs Mjölnir on his belt opposite the now sheathed dagger and takes the chest with his free hand.
The walk to Heimdall is slow, and many stop and stare at the sight of Thor and his precious burden, but none of them show any sign of recognising Loki. There's no sign of his friends or his mother, but Thor never expected to see him, they had long left Thor to his own devices after the failed trip to the healing chambers.
“Send me to Midgard,” Thor commands.
Heimdall inclines his head and walks to the dais to insert his sword to open the gate. “Who do you carry, my Prince?” he asks.
Thor doesn't answer him. He simply stands before the gate, walking through it as soon as it activates. Within moments he is back on Midgard, within feet of where he first landed when he was banished. He takes a moment to check on Loki, and when he finds nothing has changed, he begins to walk.
In which Thor takes Loki to the Avengers Tower...uh-oh.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ sїϰ Oº°‘¨
The walk back to civilisation is a long one, but Thor barely notices it. His attention is on Loki, and he finds himself watching, enraptured, as Loki breathes in and out quietly. He's been talking to Loki as he walks, but so far his younger brother has still shown no signs of life.
When they reach the town, Thor heads for the café Jane had taken him to. He has a phone number that he can reach SHIELD on, and he wastes no time in getting one of the staff to fetch him a phone.
In the meantime, Thor carefully places Mjölnir and the chest on a table, and he pulls out a sturdy chair for him to sit on, carefully rearranging Loki's lax limbs across his lap, keeping on arm tucked around Loki's chest.
“Hey sweetie,” says one of the waitresses. There's a gleam of recognition in her eyes, and Thor wonders if it is because she recognises him as being the one who brought destruction to her town.
“Does your friends need a doctor?” she asks, worry in her eyes and written across her face.
Thor resists the urge to pull Loki in more tightly to him. Any tighter and he would leave bruises. “No, thank you. I fear he is beyond the help of mortal doctors.”
The waitress nods, not quite understanding him. “Okay then, would you like a drink?”
“Water, please,” he agrees.
The waitress nods and turns, returning with a drink and a small mobile phone.
When he places the call, he makes no mention of Loki, only that he cannot fly back to the Avengers Tower and that he needs picking up. It doesn't take long for SHIELD to arrange a flight, and Thor waits in the Café for the three hours it takes for the car to come.
Luckily, the driver does not recognise Loki, and the journey to the nearest airport is quick. The private plane – courtesy of Tony Stark – has soft chairs that can be reclined back, and Thor carefully places Loki in one and straps him in, sitting beside him with one hand clutching Loki's.
Loki appears to be in some kind of suspended animation. Thor has seen enough Midgard movies to liken him to Sleeping Beauty, for Loki's lips are not cracked or dry, even though he has been in the sun and had nothing to drink, and his skin shows no sign of redness, or tan, although Thor knows that a few hours in the sun could not damage an Asgardian.
At this point, Thor is certain that Loki's ailment is magical. He knows from prior experience that Loki is skilled at placing himself in healing comas, usually lasting the span of a single night. It was usually the only way he could keep up with Thor and his friends whilst they were on a quest.
The plane lands before Thor can blink – or at least, it feels that way. He's spent the entire trip thinking about the past, and holding Loki's hand, and he feels worn down and worn out and somehow empty.
The drive to the Avengers Tower is mercifully quick, and the driver is more than happy to carry the chest for Thor so that Thor can carry his brother with both arms.
The reception he receives is worse than he hopes for.
“Shit! Is that...Loki?!” Someone shouts, and pandemonium spreads. Even the driver is shocked, not having recognised Thor’s burden, and he drops the chest at Thor's feet and runs away shrieking annoyingly loud.
Within moments there's an array of guns aimed at Thor, with numerous agents on their phones. It was unfortunate, but the ground floor and the first floor were both manned by SHIELD operatives, and Thor almost wishes he could have simply flown up to the floor his room was on so he could avoid this racket.
Still, he knows this confrontation was inevitable. Best to get it over with quickly now.
“Thor,” Coulson greets.
Thor likes Coulson. His seeming death had brought great sorrow to his heart when he heard the stories of the man from his friends. It seemed as though Fury was not above misdirection and lies and Thor feels a bit lost, because now, he can't help but compare Fury to Odin, and he likes Fury.
“Son of Coul,” Thor returns neutrally.
“May I ask why you are carrying one of our enemies in your arms?” Coulson asks blandly.
Coulson blinks. Thor takes it as a victory.
“Okay then, why do you have Loki in your arms?” Coulson asks, deadpan.
“I carry him because he cannot walk.” Thor responds, equally blandly.
“And he cannot walk because...?”
“Because...” Thor droops. Visibly droops, his eyes filling with tears. Coulson fights the urge to sigh.
“Because?” he prompts instead.
Now Thor really does start to cry. They're manly tears. Big and silent, and Coulson feels a bit jealous of them. He's always looked like a sobbing mess when he needs to cry.
“My father...” he starts, sniffling, “he...he...”
“Okay,” Coulson soothes, glad to be finally getting somewhere. “You father...what?”
“He...Loki...my brother! Sixteen thousand years!” he roars as the end, making Coulson wince. Thor really does have an immensely loud voice when he shouts.
Coulson waves the other agents away and sighs. “Come on, lets find somewhere to talk,” he offers.
“Could you carry this chest for me?” Thor asks, his eyes pleading, one foot nudging a small dark chest on the floor.
Coulson sets his jaw. A man that big should not look like a kicked puppy. “Yes, of course,” is all he says, picking up the small chest by one of the side handles and leading the way to a reception room reserved for visiting officials.
He opens the door for Thor and closes it behind them, rolling down the blinds to block them from view of the hallway. No mention is made of the cameras and microphones hidden in the room.
Thor sits down on the long, wide couch, big enough to fit three of him comfortably. He unhooks Mjölnir from his belt and places it on the floor beside his feet, smiling and nodding in thanks when Coulson places the chest on the coffee table in the middle of the room, before claiming one of the comfortable single chairs for his own use.
Thor places Loki's feet on the couch, and carefully manoeuvres his brother so that his long fall of hair hangs over Thor's arm, his fingers curled into Loki's waist (thin, small, so small, did he not eat?).
“Do you want a drink?” Coulson asks suddenly.
Thor shakes his head. “Nay. I would prefer to get this over with.”
“Okay.” There's a pause, and then, “do you want to tell me what happened? Why you have Loki here? Why he's...not attacking us?”
Something hard creeps over Thor’s face. “It appears as though my father's idea of punishment is akin to torture,” Thor begins. “While I have been dallying on Midgard, Loki was imprisoned in a stone chamber. No windows. Underground. And...” he trails off, sorrow and guilt forming where hardness once showed.
“And..” Coulson prompts quietly.
“Every month on Midgard and Asgard has been one thousand years for my brother. He has been alone, forgotten, locked from sight and sound and comfort for sixteen thousand years. I fear...” he swallows through a suddenly hoarse throat, “I fear Loki's mind is lost. I doubt he will ever awaken,” he finishes, his voice filled with anguish.
“You mean...these past sixteen months, Loki has been...caged? For sixteen thousand years in isolation. Complete isolation?” Coulson shudders. Even their prisons for their worst criminals do not deny them their basic human rights. Sixteen thousand years? It's almost incomprehensible.
“Aye. Alone in a small room. My brother has been tortured.”
“Thor...” Coulson stops, feeling lost. They were prepared to take Loki down, to fight him, imprison him, but this...this was inhumane. “Thor,” he starts again, “How old was Loki before he was imprisoned?”
“He had just seen eight thousand years.”
“So, he's spent twice that time alone?”
“Okay. Look. Just...just stay here. I have to...have to...” he trails off, standing suddenly, leaving the room looking sick.
Thor turns his attention back to Loki. He strokes a hand over Loki's brow, leading down to sharp cheeks. “When did we lose our trust? Our friendship? How long have I been blind?”
There's a knock on the door, and Thor calls out for them to enter.
“Hey big guy.”
Thor smiles when he sees Tony and Steve. “Greeting, friends,” he says quietly.
Tony sits first, claiming the seat Coulson left. Steve takes one on the other side of the coffee table, looking curiously at the chest sitting there.
“So, Phil went running out of here awful fast. You know anything about why?” Tony asks.
Thor sighs. “I fear the Son of Coul heard of my father's punishment for my brother. It was...not pleasant.”
“Is he asleep?” Steve asks cautiously.
“Yes. He sleeps. I fear he may never awaken,” Thor admits, clutching Loki even closer.
“Was your dad's punishment putting him to sleep?” Tony asks, confusion evident.
Thor shakes his head. “Nay. His decision was to lock my brother in an impenetrable underground chamber and leave him there for sixteen millennium alone.”
A silence falls. Then...
“What the fuck?” Tony gapes. “Thor, buddy, it's only been a year, and a half...ish...since Loki was taken to Asgard.”
Thor shakes his head. “The chamber my father had Loki trapped in was enchanted. One month outside, one thousand years inside.”
“You're serious, aren't you?” Steve asks, face frowning.
“Very,” Thor responds solemnly.
“Jesus,” Tony gasps, “that's like... That's just inhumane! No offence Thor, but your dad's kind of a dick.”
“What he said,” Steve agrees, frowning.
“So, Loki's staying here now?”
Thor nods at Tony's question. “Aye. He would not be safe on Asgard, and I could think of nowhere else to take him. He needs to be somewhere safe, in case he never wakes up – which I fear may be true.”
“Well...I don't think Fury's gonna like this,” Tony admits.
“That man has nothing to do with my decision,” Thor rumbles threateningly.
“Hey, yeah, I'm just saying.” Tony holds his hands out placating. “I'm not really comfortable with the idea of Loki being here either, 'cos y'know, he tried to take over the world and all.”
“My brother is no threat,” Thor grumbles.
“Maybe, maybe not. He might decide to wake up and go apeshit on us, have you thought about that?”
“Stark has a point,” Steve says, ignoring Tony's shout of 'Call me Tony dammit!'. “A lot of people died. There was a large amount of property damage, and people have only just finished rebuilding. I don't think any of them are going to be happy about Loki living in the Tower with us, even if he is comatose.”
“Then where would you have me take him?”
Tony and Steve exchange looks, before Steve sighs and Tony shrugs.
“I guess you'll be staying here then,” Steve says finally.
In which Clint's not impressed, a vote is taken, and Thor realises he doesn't know how to go about feeding a sleeping person. Thankfully, Tony's on the job.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ sёvєй Oº°‘¨
As it turns out, Steve and Tony were the easy ones – the rest of the Avengers were not so keen on Loki living in the same building.
“Are you crazy?” Clint yelps.
Natasha glares at Loki, her eyes hard and cold. “I don't want him here.”
“What she said,” Clint agrees, looking both horrified and angry.
“My brother is helpless, would you have me abandon him?” Thor asks angrily.
“He tried to kill us,” Bruce points out. “He tried to take over the world. He brought an invading army to destroy everything.”
“My brother has been punished enough, I will not see him harmed any more,” Thor growls.
“Punished? How?” Clint demands to know. Jaw set, eyes narrowing.
“Loki's been locked in an underground cell for sixteen thousand years,” Steve offers quietly.
“Some kind of time dilation deal,” Tony explains.
“Oh, so because he was put into 'time out' we should let him live with us?” Clint points a finger at Loki, held protectively in Thor's arms. “That...that man took over my mind . I don't want him and his magic tricks anywhere near us – but especially not where we live and sleep!”
“Time out? TIME OUT?!” Thor roars so loudly the windows shake. “My brother has been locked in a windowless room, alone, in complete isolation for over sixteen millennium! He has more than paid for his crimes! I cannot...I cannot even get him to awaken!”
Steve cringed at the force of Thor's emotions. Anguish was written all over his face, and for once, Steve actually saw the God as human.
“And if he does wake up? What then?” Clint grinds out, fists clenching and unclenching at his sides. “Do we just let him go on his merry way? Are you going to take responsibility for the people he could kill?”
“Sixteen thousand years,” Thor repeats. “Tell me you would be the same after forced isolation for such a great period of time.”
Clint's jaw locks and he glares stubbornly at Thor. “It's not just us. There are a lot of people – human, breakable people – who live and work here. We have a responsibility to keep them safe.”
“Even if Loki does wake up, who's to say he won't be insane?” Natasha points out calmly. “As you've said, being alone for that long is a terrible thing. You can't be sure that if Loki wakes up, he'll be the same as he was. He might be even worse. For all you know, he could become even more dangerous than before.”
“Perhaps we could compromise,” Bruce offers suddenly, face pensive.
All eyes turn to him, and Bruce colours slightly.
“You have an idea?” Steve asks.
“Yeah. Maybe.” Bruce shrugs. “Tony was designing a type of containment method for if we ever came up against Loki in the future. It shouldn't be too hard to create a comfortable room for Thor and Loki to live in, one which can be monitored, and, if Loki wakes up, uh, well, not in his right mind, shall we say, then he won't put everyone here at risk.”
“I'm in,” Tony says first. “I can get the plans drawn up by tomorrow.”
“I'm willing to give it a go,” Steve agrees.
“It's just an idea,” Bruce says quietly, “but I don't mind having Loki around if this room works.”
“I'm out,” Clint snarls, storming from the room. “You guys are going to regret this, mark my words.”
Natasha sighs. “Try it, but I want extra fail safes. I want you to be able to keep Loki asleep, or freeze him in place or knock him out if you need to.”
Tony nods. “Gotcha.”
“Then we are agreed? Loki stays?” Thor clarifies.
“Yep, you've got the okay to stay, big guy,” Tony nods.
“Let's just hope Clint's not right,” Natasha sighs.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Thor stays in his room in the Avengers' Tower all day, with Loki laying comatose on his bed. He sits by Loki's side, feeling uncomfortable, wishing he could do something. If it was a matter of breaking skulls until the problem could be rectified, then Thor would rush to do it – but this waiting, it doesn't do anything but make him feel useless.
He's holding Loki's hand when he remembers the ring Vár gave him, and he slips it onto Loki's left hand index finger. The ring; so tiny, so small in his palm, is big on Loki's slender finger, and Thor worries for a moment that the ring might fall off, when it gleams white and shrinks down to fit Loki's finger perfectly, and Thor lets out a breath of relief, a breath he did not even realise he was holding.
“I will find some way to heal you, brother,” Thor vows, his voice low and haunted. “I wish I had paid more attention to the advice you gave me when we were younger, for I fear my own arrogance has been the downfall of us both.”
There's no reply, and Thor realises distantly that he was half-hoping for one. He sighs and stands, fetching the chest from the foot of the bed. He opens it and hovers a hand over the top. “Idunn's golden apple,” he states firmly, and the chest glows for a second before a burnished golden apple, looking too perfect to be real, floats out of the chest into Thor's palm.
The magical healing powers of the golden apples have been lauded throughout all the known realms, and Thor wants to try and get one inside his brother, hoping it will help heal him. The problem is, Loki can't eat when he is asleep, and Thor would prefer not to choke his brother to death.
He stares at the apple for a moment before calling out, “JARVIS, are you there?”
“Mr Odinson,” JARVIS greets, “what may I help you with today?”
Thor swallows, still feeling uncomfortable with conversing with a being he could not see. “I wish to feed my brother this apple, but I do not know how to do it while he sleeps,” he admits.
There's a short pause before JARVIS speaks again. “Perhaps you could try making a smoothie out of it, and coax the liquid into Mr Layfeyjarson's stomach.”
“What is a 'smoothie'?” Thor asks, brow furrowed. “I have not heard of such a food before.”
“Perhaps, on Asgard, you had the opportunity to see a child fed food which had been mixed with milk?” JARVIS asks blandly, giving the impression of sighing.
Thor blinks. “Aye. Some children do not like being weaned off their mothers' milk, so we would add honey or fruits to milk to feed them.”
“A smoothie is very much the same kind of thing. If you do not mind, I will ask one of the others to assist you,” JARVIS offers.
Thor takes a moment to think it over. “Aye,” he says eventually, “I would appreciate the assistance.”
Thankfully, it's Tony who turns up. “Heard you need some help feeding Sleeping Beauty,” Tony says, quirking a brow.
Thor frowns. “He is Loki, not a beauty who is sleeping. I suspect he can be considered attractive...” he trails off as Tony starts snickering.
“Thor, buddy, if your brother wasn't evil, he'd have gaggles of women all over him. May be attractive?” Tony snickers some more.
Thor looks away uncomfortably. “You have been 'eyeing' my brother?”
That sets Tony off even more and he clutches his stomach, laughing interspersed with 'Ow, ow, ow!' as he giggles and chuckles and laughs.
“Dude, with the amount of leather he wears, can you honestly say you can't notice him? Not to mention, if I wasn't this hot and gorgeous, I'd be jealous of his good looks.”
Thor sets his jaw. “He is my brother.”
“Right...” Tony grins, “and you've never had to put up with his lovestruck suitors?”
At this, Thor reddens.
“Oh? You have? Wanna tell me later? Any ammo is good ammo!”
“Perhaps,” Thor squeaks, clearing his throat before trying again in a more normal tone of voice. “Perhaps you could assist me instead of all this chatter,” Thor suggests, his cheeks and the tips of his ears pink.
“Right, right, smoothies, gotcha,” Tony says with a wink. “C'mon, lets go down to the kitchen so I can show you how to use the smoothie maker.”
Thor hesitates as Tony leaves the room. A moment later, the other man pokes his head around the door.
“You coming, big guy?”
“I...I find myself uncomfortable at the thought of leaving my brother alone,” Thor admits softly, his eyes glued to Loki's sleeping form.
“JARVIS,” Tony calls out.
“Yes, sir?” JARVIS asks smoothly.
“Could you lock the door behind us and keep an eye on Rip Van Winkle here?”
“Of course, sir,” JARVIS replies.
“See big guy, nothing to worry about,” Tony reassures Thor calmly. “Now, lets go rev my baby up and see what she can do.”
Thor pauses outside the closed door. “He will be safe?”
“Yep,” Tony pushes Thor forward, and Thor finds himself automatically adjusting so the mortal man could move him.
The kitchen is empty when Thor and Tony enter it, and Tony makes a beeline to one of the cupboards and brings out a chrome and plastic monstrosity. He places the huge contraption on the counter beside the fridge, beaming widely.
“Like it? I made it myself. The commercial ones I kept buying kept breaking. Didn't like crushing ice for any great length of time,” Tony says, barely pausing to draw in a new breath. “Or maybe they just didn't like my ingredients...Anyway, this one slices, it dices, it makes julienne...uh, forget that, I was watching an infomercial earlier,” he says with a cough.
“So this...machine...it will help make this drink for Loki?” Thor asks, peering doubtfully at the thing on the counter.
Tony grins, fetching a large container of milk from the fridge, and gathering a handful of items together. “Yep. First, you want to core the apple. Don't worry about peeling it or chopping it up,” he says, patting the shiny chrome side, “there's nothing this baby can't blend into microscopic particles.”
“And that is good?”
“That's very good,” Tony clarifies. He hands Thor a knife and pours some milk into the blender as the God cuts out the core. “Now, lets see...honey, check, vanilla syrup, check, dollop of cream, check, teaspoon of wheatgerm, check, hmmn...maybe some cinnamon...”
“Done,” Thor says, smiling.
“Great!” Tony grabs the two halves of the apple and dumps it into the small mixture in the blender. “Now, cover your ears,” Tony warns.
Thor frowns and blinks, but dutifully covers his ears anyway. When Tony turns the blender on, the sound it makes is so loud, that, even with his hands covering his ears, he winces. Finally, eventually, and thankfully, Tony turns the blender off. He lifts the lid and stirs a spoon around in it before declaring it done.
“Right, so, I was thinking,” Tony starts, staring at the blender, “you want to get this into Loki's stomach, yeah?”
“And he's asleep, so he can't drink it.”
Tony sighs. “Well then, we've got only one option. Since we don't have a nasogastric tube, we're going to have to use something like...” he fiddles about in a drawer for a moment before crowing 'Ah-hah!' and brandishing what looks like a long turkey baster, “this! We'll fill the big round end with the smoothie, and drip it down his throat. Do it slowly enough and he won't choke.”
“This will work?” Thor asks sceptically.
“What was your idea?”
“Yeah, thought so.” Tony says, rolling his eyes. “Now, c'mon, we've got a comatose evil dude to feed.”
“He's not evil,” Thor gripes, following Tony back to Loki, letting the other man carry the blender and the tube, “he's just misunderstood."
“...and possibly PMSing,” Tony laughs.
“I would disagree with you, but I do not know what that means."
Tony just laughs even harder.
In which Tony turns the thirteenth floor into Thor and Loki's private apartment, and Thor finds Loki's diaries...
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ єїgнт Oº°‘¨
Surprisingly, it doesn't take very long to feed Loki. His swallowing reflex still works, so all Thor has to do is slowly drip the smooth, milky mix down Loki's throat and wait for him to swallow. It's tedious and repetitive, but Thor's just glad Loki's actually taking it.
When the entire mixture is gone, Thor places the empty blender and the turkey baster thing in the hallway outside the door. He doesn't want to leave Loki again.
The bed in his room is huge – Tony had said something about it being custom made, 'The God standard, get it? God standard, not gold standard!' – and it was nearly as big as his own bed on Asgard, which could fit five of him stretched out. It jogs a memory, and he remembers how, when he and Loki were barely out of boyhood, they would use Thor's bed to create a fortress, and pretend to fight off evil invaders together.
When Thor was thirteen, those games had stopped. He'd graduated on to adult, fully sharpened weapons, and felt that playing with his little brother was beneath him, since he was so very grown up. Now, Thor wishes he could go back and shake some sense into the younger him. That time, when everything was so easy, so fun, so clearly black and white, is long gone.
Outside his windows, the sky has darkened, and Thor eventually moves. He closes the curtains first, then changes out of his armour into something suitable for sleeping in – comfortable trousers for bed and a thin, soft long top. He searches his drawers until he finds a brush and brown bobble left behind from one of Jane's visits and proceeds to clumsily brush and braid Loki's hair.
When he's done, he fetches another top and some trousers and attempts to change Loki into them without hurting him. It's awkward, but he manages it. Then he very carefully tucks Loki under the covers and slips into the bed beside him, pulling Loki into his arms before allowing sleep to pull him in.
His dreams are formless, and when he wakes, there's just a faint sense of dread which he quickly banishes in his concern for his brother. Loki hasn't moved during the night, and his breathing pattern is exactly the same as it was the previous day.
It's hard to swallow his disappointment. He'd hoped the golden apple would have done some good, but apparently that hope was pointless.
Glad that he has his own bathroom, Thor showers with the doors open and dresses quickly, roughly towelling his hair and tying it back with a bright blue bobble. He dresses in Midgardian clothing. Jeans and a thick tee-shirt, thin socks and his normal boots. He wears his wrist gauntlets and wears his usual belt, hanging Mjölnir on it's normal place.
That done, he opens the door and leaves it open as he gathers Loki into his arms and carries him to the shared living area. The kitchen overlooks the lounge, so Thor has no problem with laying Loki out on the long, soft couch while he eats breakfast.
There's no-one around, but Thor knows that the only people who tend to be up at this early hour are Natasha and Clint, so he's rather thankful to be the only one around.
Once full, Thor returns to Loki, and lifts him up so he can sit down, arranging Loki on his lap with his braid hanging over the arm of the couch. Then, he talks.
“Brother,” Thor says first, “I forgive you. I forgive you for killing me when I was banished as a human. I forgive you for attempting to take over Midgard.” Thor pauses then, before continuing in a much softer voice, “Please brother, will you forgive me? I am sorry for not seeing your suffering. Forgive me for not believing you when you spoke less than fondly of our Father. Forgive me please, for pushing you away and treating you like a toy, or a servant. I know, there were many times when I commanded you to hold your tongue, then blamed you when things went awry.”
Silence is his only answer.
“I will protect you properly,” Thor swears, eyes bright, “unlike how I failed to before. I swear, brother, Loki, that I will do everything in my power to see you safe. So please, please, wake up?”
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
When the others slowly begin to congregate in the lounge area, Thor retreats with Loki back to his room. As strongly as he feels about his brother, he just isn't in the mood for confrontation.
However he's not in his room for long before there's a knock on the door and Tony lets himself in, with Bruce hovering nervously behind him.
Tony waves Bruce in and motions for him to close the door before flopping himself down carelessly on the foot of the bed.
“So,” Tony begins, “the plans are done.”
“You know, for the room?”
“Ah,” Thor says, nodding.
“Yeah, so, how do you feel about having the thirteenth floor?” Tony asks conversationally.
“I see no issue with it.”
Bruce coughs into his fist pointedly.
“Right, it's just, uh, well,” Tony glances at Bruce before rolling his eyes. “Humans are superstitious and we have this thing about the number thirteen, y'know, thirteenth day, floor, room, so nothing's really been done to the thirteenth floor, but I didn't know if you were superstitious.
Thor blinks a few times. “Superstitious about the number thirteen?” he asks, sounding incredulous. “I have never heard of such a thing."
Bruce sighs in relief and Tony’s laughs. “Great! I already started. You can move in in two days,” he bounces off the bed and to the door, pulling it open. “C'mon Brucie,” he waves, ignoring the glare Bruce shoots him at the name.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Two days later the entire thirteenth floor has been remodelled. There are two large bedrooms, two large private bathrooms, and one large living area combined with a kitchen and dining area. Thor appreciates how open everything is, for once not feeling cramped in Midgard after the spaciousness of Asgard.
Thor has no intentions of leaving Loki in his own room though. His bed has been moved from his old room upstairs, although the rest of the furniture is new, and apparently built into the place, or at least bolted to the floor. Precaution, Thor knows, in case Loki wakes up and decides to use something as a weapon.
Everywhere Thor goes on their floor he takes Loki. When he's finished acquainting himself with the large apartment area, Thor relocates them both to Loki's bedroom, decorates in airy creams and golds with pale green touches. Thor thinks that if Loki were to see it, he would approve of the colours.
Loki is placed gently on the bed and covered with the blanket. That done, Thor unhooks Mjölnir from his belt and places it beside the bed, before retrieving the chest and placing it in the spacious wide area in the centre of Loki's room. As requested when his opinion had been asked, one entire wall of Loki's room is made of bookshelves, reaching up to the ceiling. There's a rolling ladder for the top shelves, and there are small twinkling lights hidden in the metal, looking like gems gleaming in the dark.
Thor stands in the centre of the room, opens the chest and says, “Loki's books from his chambers.”
In seconds there's a strange breeze and books come flying out of the chest to stack in neat rows at Thor’s feet. There's enough here to fit a third of the empty space and Thor frowns, realising not all of Loki's books many fit in the room.
Thor has no idea what order the books are meant to go in, so he just lines them all up and pushes them into place, breathing out heavily and coughing when he’s done. He loathes dust.
That done, Thor moves on. “Loki's books from his prison.” These take him another half hour to arrange. Then, it's, “Loki's other books.”
These books make Thor frown. Hefting one in his hands, he realises that the 'books' are simply sheets of parchment bound in...hair?
Thor drops the book, eyes wide. After the moment of shock has passed, he quickly scrambles to pick the book back up and he traces a finger carefully over the silky black binding. It's hair that's been plaited and woven through the parchment, binding the sheets together crudely. They would not last long if the books were actually read, but to keep them tidy, it was an ingenious idea.
Fingers trembling, Thor opens the first page carefully and reads.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Has Thor really, truly abandoned me? Why does this thought hurt so much? Has Odin done something to him? Is he in pain? Trapped? Unable to help me? Please, by all that is precious, please do not let him forget me.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Is Odin communicating with Jotenheim? Is that why I have been left here, alone? I have to think that they seek reparation, and I cannot think of any weregild that would satisfy them, beside my head. I would not, could not let that happen. They are beneath me. Monsters and monstrous! Odin must feel at home with them.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
This place is truly boring. There is nothing to do but read and write. Without my magic, I cannot even conjure up an illusion to pass the time. I have been spending quite a great deal of time in the bath. It is comfortable, and when the water cools I find myself quite refreshed.
I wonder if this is because of my Jotun blood.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I am still bored out of my wits. Is this the plan, oh great and mighty Odin? Bore me to death? Please. As if I would ever deign to let you control the time of my death.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I have been thinking about the problem I had with maintaining separate thoughts for my clones when I multiply, I believe that if I hook the magic I use into them, instead of constructing them out of magic, and allow the lower reaches of my conscious mind to link with them, then they could maintain independent thought whilst still being aware of my overall intentions.
I must try this when I am released.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Still no sign of
my brother Thor.
More puzzling – no sign of my mother.
I miss her, but I do not wish to see her. I would not have her face the monster she raised.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Thor closes the hand-bound book, unable to read any further. It feels like he is violating Loki's very mind by reading his thoughts, but the sense of guilt is overwhelmed by his need to understand what Loki has experienced.
With gentle, hesitant hands, Thor takes the book back to the bed, sits beside Loki, and continues to read.
In which the thirteenth floor is invaded, and Tony reads one of Loki's diaries...
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ йїиё Oº°‘¨
Thor realises how long he's been reading when his stomach gurgles loudly. He holds the book he's currently reading in indecision. On one hand he wants to know Loki's thoughts – on the other hand, he's hungry.
Knowing that the books – and Loki – are not going anywhere, Thor decides to sate his hunger and thirst.
“JARVIS,” he calls out, “what time is it?”
“The current time is four thirty-six pm and seventeen seconds,” JARVIS informs him promptly.
“Thank you, JARVIS,” Thor responds, placing the book down on the bedside table and gathering Loki in his arms. He takes Loki to the lounge and places him on the long, sinfully comfortable couch, arranging him carefully, head on a cushion, and the fleece throw from the back of the couch is placed gently around Loki's prone body.
When Thor checks Loki's lips, they are moist, and Thor frowns, wondering how far his comatose state is supporting him. He doesn't know if he should drip water in Loki's mouth, and decides to wait until later to see if Loki shows any signs of needing further care.
The fridge supplied with the apartment is big and silver – a theme with Tony it seems – and Thor puts together a few massive sandwiches and finishes them along with an entire litre of orange juice before he feels full.
Finished, Thor collects Loki's diary from his room and settles in for the long haul at the foot of the couch Loki is laying on.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
There is nothing for me to do in here besides think. I wish this were not so, for my thoughts are no friends to me. At times, it feels as though I am being watched, observed, studied – but this is impossible. I have searched every inch of space available in this prison, and the walls are solid stone.
I fear my mind is playing tricks on me. The shadows from the ever-lit torches must be playing havoc with my perception. They, and the fireplace, provide movement and shadows in places where no other person may be.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I have had the appearance of an Æsir for my entire life, and to find I have been birthed my the very monsters children are warned about...I do not have the words to share just how disgusted I feel.
I remember the stories Odin told Thor and I, when we were children barely out of swaddling. He would paint picture through stories of a race so terrible and so depraved they would seek wars with other races, simply so they could enjoy the bloodshed, and, when war with others were not possible, they warred amongst themselves.
Odin had us believe the reason the Jotun race did not seek war with us again was because they were so filled with a blood rage – one so severe it permanently painted their eyes red – that they could not find the time or the way to us, and instead sated their lust for battle against the weakest of their own kin.
My eyes turn red when I wear my Jotun form.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Why was I abandoned on Jotenheim, instead of being immediately slain?
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Slumber caught me unawares in my bath. When I awoke the water was freezing cold, but I could feel no pain, merely comfort against my skin. There was a blue tinge to me, but when I tried to draw forth my other face, nothing happened.
Is even my true heritage suppressed in this prison?
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Thor grit his teeth at that last line, and scanned past the next few entries which seemed to be about magical theory, something which Thor knew very little about.
Lines fill his eyes as he moves forwards, snippets of Loki's thoughts.
...why does no-one come?
...I wonder how mother fares. Has she cast me aside? Does she still care...
..tomorrow I hope to write more about this formula, unless I am granted a visit by my missing mother...Thor? Where are you?
...wish I could see the sky...
...never knew that a monster hid beneath my face. How could I never see it whenever I glanced in a mirror?
If I turned back into a Jotun, would I still bleed red? If I died, would I still be welcome in...
Will Odin ever come...
...why they never listened...
..never show weakness...
Thor stops reading when he realised the words are blurring together because of his tears.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
This routine continues for five days, until on the fifth day, whilst Thor is holding another of Loki's diaries in his hands, the rest scattered around the couch, the elevator suddenly opens and the rest of the Avengers exit onto his floor.
“Okay, this has gone on long enough,” Tony gripes as he steps out of the elevator. He crosses his arms and glowers in a teasing manner at Thor, who looks bemused. “I gave you an entire floor so you wouldn't worry about Loki, not so you could suddenly turn into a hermit,” he gripes, crossing the living room with pointedly stomping footsteps until he's standing in front of Thor.
“Is there an issue here?” Thor asks, utterly lost.
“Yeah. There's an issue here, big guy,” Tony starts, before Bruce grabs his sleeve and yanks him back, ignoring Tony's yelp.
“What Tony was trying to say,” Steve takes over, “is that we've missed having you around, and we're all worried that..well...”
“You haven't eaten properly,” Natasha continues, arms crossed. “We all know you can't use a stove, so you must be living off of...”
“Sandwiches and cereal,” Clint says. “Not that there's anything wrong with sandwiches and cereal, but you've been hiding here for five days, and I'm starting to get the feeling it's my fault.”
There's a significant pause before Thor finally speaks. “I am sorry, but I could not leave my brother, especially not after...” he trails off, looking uncomfortably at the books surrounding him.
The others blink almost in unison and double-take at the books they hadn't noticed, except for Natasha who rolls her eyes at the others.
“You...uh, read these?” Steve back-pedals quickly. “Not that you can't read, or don't read! I mean, of course you can read, you just...uh...”
“Don't tend to give much thought to books normally,” Bruce says suddenly, leaning down to pick one book up from a stack near the side of the couch. He runs a finger over the parchment and the binding and then frowns.
“Whoa! Are these like, really old books or something?” Tony pipes up.
“Thor... is this, is this... hair? ” Bruce asks, swallowing uncertainly, glancing between the dark hair binding the books and Loki's long black braid.
Thor's jaw clenches and he looks away, which is answer enough for Bruce.
“Is this Loki's hair?” Bruce then asks, blanching when Thor nods sharply.
The others stare in horror at the stacks of books.
“Wait, are you saying Loki made these?” Clint asks, fingers twitching.
Thor turns steely blue eyes on the archer. “Aye. My brother made them while he was imprisoned. Do not harm them.”
Clint stares at the stacks of hair bound parchment and quickly agrees.
“Are these diaries?” Tony asks incredulously, having opened one and started to read.
“Tony Stark, these are not for your eyes,” Thor growls, eyes flashing.
“Why?” Tony asks bluntly, still flipping carefully through the book in his hands. “We're the ones letting Loki stay here, I don't see why we can't have a – Oh my God!”
Tony drops the book, his face white.
I'm really sorry this chapter is so small. I had a busy day with my psychiatrist and medication issues and a whole bunch of other depressing things, so this chapter almost didn't get finished today. I'll try and get more done for the next one.
In which the horror never ends...
**WARNING!!** There is implied rape in this chapter. Things get darker here for Loki.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ тёи Oº°‘¨
Something has been taken from me. I could feel it being ripped free from my mind. I have to wonder, is my magic the only thing being leeched from me? It feels like an enchantment has been drained from my essence, but without access to my magic, I cannot be sure.
My mind is clearer than it has been in millennia. I feel...free, inside my head, even though I am still physically trapped. I wonder how long this feeling will last...
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
My memories feel odd. It is almost as though I am remembering them through a window of coloured glass. I have been meditating on this matter, and I hope to come to some kind of conclusion soon.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
...Was Thor always so dumb?
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I feel I must explain my last entry to myself, for I refuse to look back and wonder why I wrote that.
There was a time when we were young, Thor and I, and we took lessons together. I remember Thor being rather more adept at strategy than he has shown in recent years – barring my time imprisoned. I cannot help but wonder why he mentally seemed to de-evolve as he grew older and took more of the burden of the heir to the crown upon his shoulders.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Am I going mad? Am I losing my mind? I dreamed last night of an event which cannot be true, but I fear it truly happened. It explains much I could not understand.
When I was young, not yet under pressure to become the warrior
my brother Thor was, I desperately wanted to expand my knowledge of the magical arts, but there were special lessons only available to the womenfolk. Undeterred, I transformed myself into a young maiden and joined these lessons.
For three years I learned the subtle arts of healing, illusions, and the power of words used with a little lacing of magic instead of overwhelming force, suitable for those with little magic power. Oh, but these women were smart! So very cunning and clever. For all that their magic was not strong or great, their ability to wield their magic left me awed,
and jealous .
I spent my days among these women, girls mostly, as they, and I learned our craft, only spending the late evenings and nights in the palace, until that day...
There were seven of them. Guards who walked the town, not those who worked in the palace. They must have noticed my comings and goings and followed me. I was tired and weak, having spent all day working my magic, first during the lessons, then alone in a far off field that no-one ever used.
They caught me on my trek back to the palace, and overpowered me, dragging me carelessly off the road into the forests to the side.
Oh how they taunted me! They teased me for wanting to spend the better part of my days as a maiden, and they were disgusted with me. They informed me that since I love becoming a maiden so much, they would treat me as one.
I bled. I am not ashamed to say that I cried, begged, pleaded with them to stop, but they were ignorant to my pleas, and they used me harshly, leaving me bleeding and battered in the woods.
At least I was alive, I thought.
I wanted revenge, but I was in no state to carry it out.
Eventually I managed to pull on my torn clothes and limp back to the palace, I cast a mild illusion over myself, one a child could cast, to make me appear untouched, and I retreated to my chambers.
To my surprise, and sorrow, no-one noticed anything wrong with me in the days and weeks that followed. I was aware that most Æsir preferred to ignore me, but I had not realised how much they chose not to see.
I had my revenge on the guards when I finally healed. I made them impotent, unable to ever lay with another, and every time a lustful thought entered their head, they would become sick. I dare not kill them, but I could at least make them suffer.
That was not the end of things.
After a few months, I noticed I was gaining weight around my middle, and it hurt to change myself back into my male form. I could not understand why at first, but eventually the reason became clear – I was with child.
The thought of being capable of carrying and bearing a child horrified me. I was a man! I was wrong.
I waited. I hid and waited. I stopped going to the lessons with the womenfolk and spent all my time in the palace, wearing an illusion of my male form over the female form I adopted whilst the pregnancy continued.
I searched every tome in the library, but never had an Æsir male ever borne a child. I was the exception. A freak.
By my eighth month I had taken to my bed, unable to walk far. The servants knew to bring in my food and drink daily, but they never entered my bedchamber, leaving the food and drink in my outer chambers.
I intended to birth the child alone and pass him or her along to one of the women from the group, one whom I knew wanted a child, but had thus far been unable to conceive one. All I had to do was stay out of sight and out of mind until my due date.
Not once did I ever blame the child for the sins of its father. I loved my child. I still love my child.
The day came when I knew I would birth the babe. The contractions started, just as the books said they would, and I numbed the pain as best I could with the array of safe droughts and elixirs I had prepared.
For eleven hours I laboured, until finally, the babe came.
Tired, bloody and covered in messy liquid, the babe was the most beautiful I had ever seen. I named him Vali, and held him close to my heart, suckling him in my female form. It took me a few hours before I managed to magic away most of the mess I had made of my bed, but I did it, and then fell into a fitful slumber, my babe held to my chest as I slept.
I awoke a few hours later with a cry, feeling the wards around my room be torn down roughly. It hurt. Oh how it hurt.
I paled when Odin come striding into my inner chambers, his face like thunder. His eye narrowed when his gaze took in my female form and the babe against one breast. He glanced around the room, and saw how I had prepared for the birth.
When he spoke, his voice was cold and cruel.
“I am here for the child,” he said, his voice hard and unforgiving.
“No,” I whispered.
“I will not have an abomination in my house,” Odin roared, his voice so loud it woke my newborn son up, and he began wailing.
I held my little Vali close to my skin and shook my head. “No!” I cried. “You will not take my son from me!”
There was a flash of light, and the world spun. When the room cleared, and I could breathe again, my arms were empty and Odin held my babe in one arm, thankfully fully swaddled.
“Give him back!” I screamed, but Odin was unswayed.
“You will stay here while I deal with the child,” Odin commanded, and I tried to stand, to move, to fight, to grab back my child, but Odin pointed Gungnir at me and the world stopped in a flash of light.
When I came to, my room was empty, and when I tried to leave, I found I could not. No matter how I railed and screamed and battered the door with my fists and my magic, I could not find a way to move the door. I was trapped.
After many, many hours, Odin returned, his face dark and grim.
“You shame me,” is all he said, before picking me up by my throat.
I couldn't breathe, but Odin did not seem to care.
“I will ensure this does not happen again,” he said icily, holding a stone up to my forehead with his other hand. There was a bright, flaring pain, and when I awoke in my bed, I was male again, and I did not remember the last nine months.
Odin informed me that I had made a mistake in my castings, and been infirm for many months in bed. I felt terrible, my body ached, and even my heart hurt, so I believed him.
I now know that Odin stole both my memory, and my child.
How much else has Odin All-Father stolen from me?
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Tony's knees felt weak. He quickly grabbed the book off the floor and flipped through it until he found the entry he'd read.
“Thor,” Tony says, his voice forcibly calm, “did you know your brother was raped?”
Thor blanches. “What?” he roars, “Who would dare lay their hands on my brother?” He stands swiftly and snatches the book from Tony's lax fingers. His face reddens, then pales as he reads, continuing further down the entry than where Tony had read to.
It takes more than a few minutes, but when Thor lets out a keening cry, so full of pain and heartbreak and sorrow, the others gather around him, worry on their faces.
They've seen Thor cry. Tears were not seen as weak on Asgard, and Thor had no problem displaying all of his emotions, but this low, desperate sound that was tearing its way out of the Thunder God's throat, this was unlike him.
“Thor?” Steve places a hand on Thor's shoulder, frowning when he feels the shudder in the muscles.
“My brother, oh, my brother!” Thor cries, his voice broken.
Bruce carefully and gently manoeuvres the book out of Thor's grasp. “May I read it?” he asks quietly, solemnly, and Thor blinks through tears, staring at him as though he has lost all his words and does not know what to say.
“I...it...no!” he panics, “it is...it is...” he trails off, and tears fall from his eyes, rolling down his cheeks in great big droplets.
“It's bad?” Bruce continues, his voice pitched low and calming.
Thor draws in a great gulp of air and pulls himself back together. “It is personal,” he says, his voice breaking.
“Thor, we want to help you,” Bruce continues, keeping his voice soothing and calm, “but if we don't read this entry, we won't know how we can help, do you understand?”
Thor nods. “Swear,” he says firmly. “Swear to me that you will not tease my brother, or hurt him, or condemn him. You will not use what you read against him, even if he holds a blade against your throat,” Thor says hoarsely.
“I swear,” says Bruce.
There's a long pause, before Tony adds, “I swear too.”
Thor looks at the others, but Clint and Natasha shake their heads, and Steve looks uncomfortable before shaking his head as well.
“Sorry, but...I have to lead and protect this team, so I can't make that promise,” Steve admits with a friendly pat on Thor's shoulder.
“I can't promise,” Natasha says bluntly, “because if he ever holds a knife against my throat, I'll use anything and everything against him.”
“Ditto,” agrees Clint.
“At least you're honest,” Tony says, walking over to Bruce's side.
“We'll go get some lunch, or an early dinner, whatever,” Clint says. “Steve and 'Tasha are coming with me,” he says, ignoring Steve's bewildered 'We are?', “so you three can talk in peace.”
Thor inclines his head. “You have my thanks.”
“So, pizza?” Clint asks as he herds Natasha and Steve towards the elevator.
“No,” they hear Natasha say curtly as the doors shut.
Left alone, Bruce takes the opportunity to lead Thor back to the couch, pushing him to sit, and when he does he sits down on one of the single armchairs beside the couch.
“May I read this then?” Bruce asks politely.
Thor nods, his eyes pained as he stares at the book.
It takes Bruce a few moments to find the right page, it's a bit bent at one corner and slightly out of alignment from everything that’s happened to it.
He reads. Every few lines he stops and closes his eyes, taking in a few deep breaths and forcing himself to stay calm. By the time he's got to the end, Tony's been and gone and come back with a giant bottle of scotch and three glasses. He immediately fills one up and passes it to Thor, filling up another with two fingers and passing to to Bruce, before pouring himself a generous amount in the last glass.
“My turn?” Tony asks, and Bruce passes him the book, looking green around the edges. He inhales the scotch and pours himself another, cradling the glass in-between his palms as he thinks.
They know when Tony reads the full entry, because he swears loudly, colourfully and impressively, finishing his glass in one go and slamming the glass down on the metal coffee table.
“This is seriously fucked up,” he comments, placing the book gently on the table between them all. “Your dad is seriously fucked up. Everything's fucked up!”
“How could Loki have hidden something like this for nine months? Surely I would have known? Surely I would have seen?” Thor drops his head in his hands, pulling at his hair in frustration.
“Yeah, okay, enough big guy,” Tony slaps away Thor's hands from his head. “It wasn't your fault, none of it was. What we need to worry about is how much more shit like this is in Loki's diaries, because from the way things sound, this might not have been the first time something like this has happened. Maybe the fact or the way Odin erased Loki from everyone's memories on Asgard is hidden somewhere in these pages.”
Bruce frowns as he glances around the room, taking in the stacks of books. “Are these all of them?” he asks.
Thor shakes his head. “No. These are but a portion of Loki's dairies. The rest are in his room.”
“Okay, if we sit here are read through all of these, we'll still be doing it next year. I've got a better idea,” Tony clears his throat. “JARVIS, I want to to create a new folder, call it 'Loki's Diaries' and lock it to Thor, Bruce and me only.”
“Done sir,” JARVIS says.
“Great, now,” he turns back to Bruce and Thor, “all we have to do is scan the books in to JARVIS's database and he can look for certain words or tones or inflections to lead us to the most urgent entries.”
“And this will save time?” Thor asks.
“Yeah,” Tony says, nodding. “All we have to do is find some way to cope with what we read."
In which we hear some of Loki's adventures, courtesy of Thor...
I feel I must clarify something. This story leans heavily upon elements of Norse mythology. I have taken parts of the Marvel movieverse continuity and merged it with some of my favourite parts of mythology!Loki's history.
One commenter 'Lemmy' has stated: 'I don't like it when Movie!verse is mixed with Comic!verse & Norse Mythology, each of them is very different , Movie!Loki isn't Comic!Loki and not Norse Mythology!Loki' and I respect hir point of view, but this is my story, and I'm writing what I want to express in words, and so I must warn my readers that there will be myths mixed in with the Marvel movieverses.
Zhe also said, 'It also annoys me that authors like to pick whichever bits they like from each verse and leave the others, I don't know whats with the fascination with mother!Loki , in the comics he had his monstrous children with a giantess and he had a wife and twins (which are NEVER mentioned in fics), but what gets written about in the fics is that he mothered his children (which am sure is NOT canon in any Marvel!verse)'
I admit I am guilty of mixing 'verses. I have an idea, a story in my head that I want to share, and I have been amazed and astounded by the overwhelmingly good responses this story has received thus far. Each and every comment is precious to me, and I am sorry that some of you may feel that this story is starting to fall into clichéd tropes.
I need Loki's children to exist in order for this story to come to come to its conclusion cleanly, and I absolutely need Loki to have mothered and fathered his children, for reasons which will come to light later.
I apologise for the length of this fore note, and I hope many of you will stay with me as this story continues. I hate to lose readers, but I absolutely, positively, will not, can not, change my plans or my plot in order to pander to personal reader preferences. If I do, I will lose myself, my words, and my desire and need to write. It is a trap I have fallen into before, and now those other stories languish forever unfinished, and I love this story too much to risk it.
Thank you very much for reading this story, and this extremely long note. I hope you will enjoy this chapter.
Hugs and love,
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ єlёvєй Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
Steve, Natasha and Clint return with bags of Chinese take-away, enough to fill everyone's stomachs, and Loki's diaries are carefully stacked to one side as they eat.
Throughout the meal, Clint keeps throwing considering glances towards Loki, who is still laying on the couch. His surreptitious movements go largely unnoticed by all, except Natasha, who makes note of it, but doesn't say anything.
When Clint finally speaks, Natasha is the only one not surprised at what he asks.
“Can you tell us about Loki as a kid?” Clint requests, when the current conversations reaches a lull.
Thor pauses, and lowers the spring roll he was about to bite into. “You wish to hear about Loki's history?” he asks, puzzlement creeping across his face.
Clint shrugs. “I just want to know more about the guy who changed our lives so much,” he offers diplomatically.
Thor looks at each of the other Avengers in turn, and gets mostly agreeing nods or shrugs.
Thor sighs and takes a long drink of his juice before leaning forward. “Very well,” he begins, fingers rubbing against his chin, disturbing the short hairs. “Here is a tale of when Loki, accused of being nothing more than a weak willed sorcerer, capable of only pranks and ill words decided to show off his skills in more than weaving with magic, instead, my brother used his magic and his wiles to weave together a sword, from steel and magic!”
“Loki made a sword?” Tony asks, interested.
“Aye, and a mighty one at that,” Thor crows. “All Æsir must quest when they come of age, and prove their manhood,” he explains, “but Loki never seemed to feel the need to take on one of these 'ridiculous shows of naught more than thoughtless violence', and we dared him to do better than just crush the skull of an enemy,” Thor laughs.
“My brother never could turn down a dare, and so, one morn, we awoke to find Loki, dressed in furs, waiting to say his goodbyes. 'Do not look for me' he ordered, 'for I go to Nifelheim, and I fear the cold will burn the last of your brain from your body' he said, before vanishing, as he was wont to do.
“For several months, Loki did not return, and finally we decided to search for him,” Thor grins.
“So wait, you let him basically disappear for almost a year before looking for him?” Tony asked.
“Aye, Loki preferred his own company, and it was not rare for him to disappear for a few months at a time, and this time he had asked us to leave him be, and we respected his wishes, that, and Nifelheim is almost as cold as Jotunheim and we feared losing our manhood to the bitter cold,” Thor boomed.
“For weeks we searched Nifelheim with no luck, until we came across a town that was bedecked with arrays of fires and many, many travellers. 'Ho!” I cried, 'What goes on here?” to which a heavily cloaked traveller replied 'There is a contest, and the best crafted sword will win a favour from Svipdag, who searches for the ultimate blade to win the hand of his wife-to-be.'” Thor pauses and takes a long swallow of his juice.
“While we knew we had to search for my brother, this contest of blades was far too interesting to pass up, and we joined in the crowd when the next battle was unveiled. It did not take long, and soon we saw two men enter the square. They both had a series of tasks to perform, and the blade which survived would pass along to the next round.
“I asked how long the contest had been going on, and was told it had been carrying on for four months. Further questions revealed that one sword had passed all the tests so far, and that its creator Hjalmar was believed to be to be the uncontested winner.
“However, we stayed throughout the festivities, and there came a time when there were no more blades to come up against Hjalmar's creation – or so we thought, for just before Hjalmar was about to hand the blade over to Svipdag, a cloaked man appeared.
“'I am Loptr,' he said, 'and I carry with me the key to your happiness.' Of course, Hjalmar was very angry, but Svipdag agreed for the contest to continue, and so Hjalmar's sword and Loptr's sword were pitted against each other.
“Loptr's sword was very impressive, and it lasted through everything Hjalmar's sword did, until finally, there were no more tests. 'Let us pit our blades against each other,' demanded Hjalmar, 'and the blade which survives will be handed to Svipdag!'. Loptr agreed, and both swords clashed, but when they swung, and hit, Hjalmar's blade was sliced in half, and only Loptr's blade remained untouched.
“'This is my sword, Lævateinn,' Loptr said, handing over the sword to Svipdag. 'I have created it from metal and magic, and no other blade will ever match it,' he vowed.
“Svipdag was pleased, and he asks Loptr what he wished for as a reward. 'Prove that this sword, the one I created, is the best sword of them all, and then, when you have your bride, bring your proof to Odin All-Father of Asgard, and tell him about the majesty of this blade.'
“'May I see the face of the one who created such a magnificent weapon?' Svipdag asked, and Loptr inclined his head. 'Of course,' he said, and lowered his hood, and we were surprised, for the face and the smile were Loki's.”
“What happened then?” Steve asks.
“A year later, Svipdag sought an audience with Odin, and presented the blade and the tale to Odin and the hall. When asked who created such a breathtaking blade, Svipdag pointed to Loki and said that he was the maker of the sword.”
“So...Loki passed the test?” Clint tilts his head, thinking about the sword.
Thor shakes his head. “Nay, it was unfortunate, but because his making of the sword was not witnessed, the general opinion was that he had stolen it and presented something he did not create,” Thor sighed.
“Wow, what a bummer!” Tony exclaims, but he doesn't look very surprised.
“What happened to the sword?” Natasha asks, looking contemplative.
Thor shrugs. “I do not know. I have never heard of it changing hands beyond Svipdag.”
“So what you're basically saying is that Loki has the capability of creating unmatched weapons of incredible ability and value...and he just gave his best one away?” Clint looked amazed.
“I don't know whether I'm impressed, or disturbed,” the archer admitted wryly.
“Did Loki make any other weapons?” Natasha looked intrigued at the prospect of magical weapons, probably because of her own attachment to her guns.
“Aye, he did. He makes all his own weapons. His daggers are the most well known, for he always seems to have an endless supply of them, but I believe he only has a handful that he can summon back to him,” Thor replied thoughtfully. “He also made Fandral's sword, uh, he is one of my close friends.”
“Does it do anything special?” Tony asked, interest lighting up his eyes.
“It never dulls, never rusts, never needs care, and will return to its sheath should Fandral call for it,” Thor responds.
“Nifty,” Tony grinned.
“My brother is responsible for a great deal of Asgard's weapons and treasures. Somehow, when he travels, he always seems to find something new to bring back with him. It has oft been joked that he turns himself into a magpie and comes back with whatever is shiny enough to catch his attention,” Thor laughs.
“A magpie?” Bruce asks, looking disturbed. “Does he often change into a magpie?”
Thor laughs again. “Aye. Loki has always loved to change form. He has a great fondness for changing into various forms. Once, we wagered a bet. I and my friends would prove our wood-craft by finding my brother after he hid in our forests. He had to hide for a seven-day else he would fail. We failed, and could not find him. When we gave up, Loki reappeared. He jumped out of the lake we sat beside, and changed from a fish into a man,” Thor shakes his head. “I was very angry with him for making a fool of us, but it was a very clever idea, one we had not considered.”
Bruce frowns. “Did Loki do things like that often? I mean...it was a very clever thing to do, but it sounds like he didn’t receive a positive response.”
With a long sigh, Thor shakes his head. “Nay, most of his responses were...not good. Many of us do not like out faults pointed out to us, and Loki has a way of making you feel dumb and like a fool...often that is his intention, but sometimes...”
“Hmmn,” Bruce nods, staring at Loki. “So basically, you guys had a genius, talented, mischievous, arrogant, ingenious trickster...who never seemed to get the respect he wanted or deserved?”
Thor cocks his head to the side, his brow furrowed. “Aye?”
“I'm surprised Loki didn't snap ages ago,” Tony snorts, rolling his eyes.
“It doesn't matter, because none of this is going to help us fix Loki,” Steve says slowly, his eyes unfocused as he thinks.
“If he ever wakes up,” Tony says sourly, pouring himself a double scotch. “You know it's a possibility, right Thor?”
“I will never give up on my brother,” Thor says morosely, “but I understand your meaning.”
“Was Loki always cruel?” Clint asks grimly, fingers tapping nervously against his thigh.
Thor sighs. “Not in his youth. He has always been quick-witted, but it was not until recently that he became...so dark.”
“You mean, basically...after you were banished?” Bruce questions pointedly.
Thor blinks and frowns in thought. “Nay, it began a bit before then, but it was not until my banishment that he...to use a Midgard term: 'lost it'.”
“You thought of something, Tony?” Steve pipes up, looking curious.
“Maybe,” he says, shrugging. “I'll tell you all later, once I've thought on it a bit longer."
The conversation stutters to a halt. Bruce and Steve tidy up the remains of the meal, placing the leftovers in Thor's fridge for him to munch later.
Evening is falling, so Tony dims the lights and turns on the media centre, putting in a DVD without asking and shooing everyone into comfy seats in front of the televison. When asked why he was putting on a film, Tony snorts and points out: 'Because otherwise the big guy'll drown himself in those books, and I'd like him to get some sleep for once.'
It turns out to be a good thing, because they're all woken in up in the early morning hours with an attack warning, needing all the Avengers to assemble.
Under the blanket, in the Avenger's Tower, Loki's fingers twitch.
In which there are discussions...
(Here's a slightly longer chapter to make up for the notes at the bottom. Also, to everyone who's left me a comment, thank you so much! I treasure each and every comment, and I will do my best to respond, but because I'm writing and updating every single day, these responses might be delayed. Thank you so much for your lovely words and your amazing feedback. All of your comments mean the world to me.)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ тшєlvё Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
The battle does not go well. The rest of the Avengers can easily tell that Thor is distracted. He gets hit more than a few times, shrugging off the blows, but not fighting anywhere near his usual standard. They're lucky though, and a few hours later they traipse, only partially wounded, back to the tower to recuperate.
Thor, as expected, heads directly for the thirteenth floor, and waits until he's in Loki's bedroom, to collapse with relief at Loki's non-changing status, on the bed beside his brother.
Slowly the rest of the Avengers trickle down to the thirteenth floor. Steve first, having showered and changed into his usual non-uniform choice of dark jeans and a thin, long sleeved blue top.
He ignores the coffee machine – his dread foe – and pours two large tumblers of apple juice, taking them to where he knew without a doubt Thor would be.
“Here,” he offers, passing Thor one of the large tumblers of juice, “drink this, shower and change. I'll watch Loki for you.”
Thor drinks the juice in one go, placing the empty glass on the bedside table and throwing Steve a grateful look as he stumbles off to the bathroom.
He comes back in fifteen minutes later, draped in towels, his eyes bleary as he drips his way to the dresser and pulls out jeans, tee-shirt, briefs and socks before shuffling back into the bathroom. Steve has to hold back the snort of laughter that threatens to come out.
A few minutes later, Thor re-enters the bedroom, his hair tied back, and looking passably put together. He stands in the doorway for a moment before glancing down at his right hand in confusion, before sighing and trundling back into the bathroom, re-emerging with his wrist gauntlets, belt and Mjölnir after a few moments.
He's just finished putting on his belt and has moved on to his wrist gauntlets when Clint stumbles into the room and yawns. “Tony's getting breakfast,” he informs them through another yawn. He waves a hand towards the bed Steve and Loki are on. “Bring your doll with you, we'll be eating here in the lounge,” he mutters, before stumbling back out of the room.
“Doll?” Thor mumbles, puzzled.
“Loki,” Steve explains, standing and stretching. “I'll see you both in the lounge, right?”
“Aye,” Thor agrees, hooking Mjölnir to his belt and gathering Loki into his arms a few seconds later. “Doll...?” he murmurs as he arranges Loki carefully against his chest.
Every chair and couch is taken except for the largest one, the one Thor had laid Loki down upon the previous day. Someone has placed a large, square, flat cushion at one end, and Thor places Loki's head on it, draping Loki's body down the length of the sofa before claiming the other, clear, end.
The long metal coffee table is filled with food and bottles of juice, water and soda. There's even a dozen massive takeaway mugs of coffee. There are also stacks of sandwiches, wraps and snacks, and Thor immediately grabs an empty plate and joins the others as they eat. It's quiet, but it's a calm kind of quiet.
“I need to give Pepper a raise,” Tony muses out loud as he licks his fingers.
Clint snorts. “She's probably already given herself one.”
Tony laughs, lowly, tiredly, and yawns. “Yeah,” he agrees, “she's good like that.”
“Can someone pass me a coffee?” Natasha asks blearily, looking oddly soft in her black tank top and pale blue jeans.
Steve, being the closest to the coffee reaches for a mug and pauses, snickering before turning them all around and selecting one. “I think Pepper deserves more than just a raise,” he grins, passing the mug to Tony who passes it to Clint who passes it to Natasha.
Natasha raises one brow and checks the side of her mug, stifling giggles as she takes in the white label with her name on it.
“Ooh, me next!” Clint waves a hand in the air towards the mugs, and grins when Steve looks the mugs over before selecting one with Clint's name on it. “Awesome,” Clint breathes out, laughing.
“You'd better pass Thor one,” Tony snickers. “He looks like he's falling asleep.”
Thor's still eating. He has a stack of wraps with different fillings on a plate on his lap, but his eyes are closed as he mechanically lifts one, finishes it in two bites and picks up another.
Steve picks a mug with Thor's name on it and pokes the Thunder God in the side. “Coffee?” he offers as Thor blinks slowly and frowns in confusion at the mug in front of his face.
Thor takes the mug with a mumbled, garbled 'Thank you', which sounds more like 'Hank Roo' and sips the hot liquid slowly, humming in appreciation at the extra sugar and cream Pepper so kindly made sure to ask for.
When they've all finished, and Thor looks marginally awake, Tony asks, “So, what was up with you today, big guy?”
“Today,” Tony clarifies, “you were all 'whoosh' and 'crash' and not in a good way.”
“What Tony means,” Bruce finally pipes up, cradling his mug like it's the answer to all of his problems, “is that you weren't fighting at your best today, You seemed distracted. I'm guessing it was because of Loki?”
Thor frowns. “I did not realise I was so lacking in the battle today,” he says morosely, causing the others to wince. A depressed Thor was not a good Thor to be around. He had an awful talent of making you feel depressed along with him.
“Hey,” Tony waves his hands in an emphatic 'X', “there was no lacking, seriously, right guys?” There's a few coughs and half-heated 'Right's from them and Tony rolls his eyes. “Wow, you can feel the support in here,” he says dryly.
Thor sighs despondently, and Bruce gives it another go. "You fought well today, Thor,” he begins softly, keeping his voice low to command attention and focus. “We were just worried because we've seen you fight...better, and we know you're worried about Loki, and that you don't like to leave him behind, so...is there anything you think might help for the next time we get called out?”
“I...” Thor pauses and looks shifty. “I do not...mistrust...the safety of this Tower, my friend, but...I worry for Loki's safety, not just from those on Midgard, but...”
“But...?” Tony prompts.
Thor sighs. “I also fear not being with Loki should my father discover him.”
Steve frowns in worry. “Is that possible?”
“Aye. Heimdall can see everything and everyone, and I am sure he knows where I am. As for my brother...I was gifted a ring by the Goddess Vár, and it is meant to hide him from scrying eyes, so even if I can be seen, Loki can not.” Thor spreads his arms wide and looks, for a moment, hopelessly lost, before hardening and growing cold. “I find I am willing to tear the nine realms apart should any harm come to Loki. I have vowed to keep him safe, and safe I shall keep him, ere it means killing Odin by my own hand.”
Cold settles in the rest of the Avengers.
“What?” Steve chokes out.
“I thought Odin was your dad,” Tony blinks, looking disturbed, and highly concerned at Thor's mental state.
“You read that entry, Man of Iron,” Thor growls out, eyes flashing, and Tony winces. Thor only ever pulls out the formal names when he's feeling emotional, and Tony hold his hands up placatingly.
“Look, I'm not saying your dad's not a dickwad,” he says, ignoring Thor's confusion and muttering of 'Dik Wod?', “all I'm trying to say it, well...he's your dad and he's King of Asgard , you know? Big alien planet, full of warriors who'd be pissed off and angry?”
“Any who would side with Odin after his crimes is fit to be slain!” Thor cries, the mug in his hand crunching into plastic trash, small droplets of milky coffee dripping from Thor's fingers.
“Aaaand that's not my point at all...” Tony sighs, head drooping lowly.
“Okay, I think I'm missing the big picture here,” Natasha says loudly. “I get that you're angry, Thor, about your dad imprisoning Loki for...”
“Sixteen thousand years,” Clint stage whispers to her.
“Right,” Natasha nods, grimacing at the reminder of the exact years Loki had been locked away. It was still hard for her to get her head around. For her, and the rest of the avengers, it had been less than eighteen months since Loki was wreaking havoc on Earth, yet thanks to 'Magic' Loki had apparently already served his time – and then some.
“Yep, your dad's definitely a dickwad,” Tony repeats, mostly to himself.
“But don't you think killing him would be a bit...excessive? I mean, look...Asgard is powerful, and us breakable humans are going to be the ones who pay, and most likely die, especially the civilians, if you decide to wage war on your dad, who kinda rules the entire race of really, really hard to kill warriors, right?” Natasha pauses to take in a deep breath, glad to see the thoughtful look Thor's slowly showing.
“Okay, so, you want to kill Odin, I can kind of understand that, but please, please , don't actually attempt it, okay? At least not before Loki wakes up,” Natasha wheedles, knowing full well that once Loki wakes up Thor's going to have other things on his mind. She really, really doesn't want Earth to be the battleground of an intergalactic war, and she sympathises with Loki, she really does, but her head is just too pragmatic to listen to her heart.
“...You have my word,” Thor grumbles, ignoring the simultaneous sighs of relief from around the room.
“Okay,” Tony claps his hands together, “since we're all up, I have a couple of things to go over with you all. JARVIS?”
“Yes, sir?” JARVIS asks.
“Bring up the plans for the idea labelled 'Sleeping Beauty: Lifestyle and Living' would you please?”
“Done, sir,” JARVIS replies and a holographic display pops up in the centre of the room, a few inches above the food and drink and dishes on the coffee table.
“Great! Thanks JARVIS,” Tony chirps.
“You're welcome, sir,” JARVIS replies dryly.
The display shows the thirteenth floor in 3D, even the Avengers are included, sitting exactly as they are, small orange dots in the pale ghostly blue display. One dot, however, is green.
“Is that Loki?” Clint asks, pointing at the green dot.
“Yep.” Tony makes an odd movement with his hands and suddenly a bunch of small yellow dots pop up. “Right, these are the cameras,” he explains, “they do normal vision and infra-red, and alongside each of them is a microphone,” he says, waving his fingers again and a bunch of purple dots showing up. “They are very sensitive and can detect subtle differences in breathing, such as when you're sleeping, so Thor, if your brother so much as sniffles, I'll know, okay?”
“Next,” Tony waggles his fingers again, “we have the floor's defences.” A large number of red dots flare to life. “In the bedroom we have sleeping gas, paralysis gas, paralysis sound, coloured fog and a sound horn,” he explains happily, ignoring the weirded-out looks Clint and Bruce exchange at the last one.
“In the rest of the floor, we have sleeping gas, laughing gas, paralysis gas and a strobe light...just in case,” Tony grins as the others groan.
“How is a strobe light a defence?” Clint demands.
“Remember that party we had a few months back?” Tony asks smugly.
There are a multitude of blinks and scrunched brows before Bruce groans and Natasha snickers.
“Oh,” Steve answers blankly, shuddering.
“Oh, you mean the party where Thor thought the moving lights were magic spells and tried to attack the 'fiendish sorcerer in the globe' who 'seeks to destroy our eyes' with his evil, wicked, moving lights? That party?” Clint asks with a laugh.
“Yep,” Tony says, popping the 'P' extra loudly. “If that was Thor's reaction after all this time on Earth, imagine what kind of reaction other Asgardians might have,” Tony grins.
“You were already making plans for an invasion of my people?” Thor asks, not too sure whether he should be pleased or annoyed. He opts for pleased, since this is all in aid of Loki's safety.
“I said I'd help you keep your brother safe yeah? Well, this is my way of keeping my word,” Tony points out simply, yelping as Thor lunges forward over the table, disrupting the holographic display and dragging Tony forward into a large bear hug.
“Thank you, I and my brother thank you.”
“Th...ank me...by let...ting...”
Steve taps Thor on the shoulder and Thor drops Tony.
“Oh thank God, air!” Tony gasps.
“So, uh...” Clint starts, watching Thor as he sits back down. “Has Loki shown any signs of getting better?”
Thor shakes his head. “Nay. I have been feeding him a 'smoothie' made with Idunn's Golden Apples every morn, but they do not seem to have done much good.”
Natasha stands and leans very close over Loki, peering at his skin, and feeling his throat, before checking his hands.
“Did you cut his nails?” she asks.
“Hmmn,” Natasha continues checking Loki over. “And you only give him something to eat-slash-drink once every day?”
“Aye?” Thor replies, looking more and more confused.
“His lips aren't dry or cracked. His nails are perfectly blunt. His heartbeat is low but steady. His skin is neither dry nor oily. His body doesn't smell, neither does his hair, and,” she says, running one hand cautiously but gently over Loki's head, “his hair is in perfect condition.” Natasha frowns. “I think there's more going on here than him simply being in a coma."
As requested, here are some of the myths I've referenced:
Svipdag, Lævateinn, Nifelheim, Loptr: 'The Poetic Edda' in particular, the story of Svipdagsmál or The Lay of Svipdagr, wherein Svipdag wishes to rescue Mengloth from the giants and marry her.
Baldur's death: 'The Poetic Edda'
Loki identifying as Loptr: 'Lokasenna: The Flyting of Loki'
Loki living as a woman and bearing children: 'Lokasenna: The Flyting of Loki'
… thou winters eight / wast the earth beneath,
milking the cows as a maid,
and there gavest birth to a brood:
were these womanish ways, I ween.
Vali: I chose Vali as Loki's first-born in this story because there are two Vali characters. One is Vali, son of Loki and Sigyn. The other is Váli, the son of Odin and Rindr.
Loki gender-shifting: Voluspá hin skanna, The Short Seeress Prophecy.
Direct quote from 'Scar-Lip, Sky-Walker, and Mischief-Monger. The Norse God Loki as Trickster' a thesis by Shawn Christopher Krause-Loner:
“Loki’s bisexual or hermaphroditic nature is further illustrated in the Short Voluspá.
A half-burnt heart / which he had found –
It was a woman’s / ate wanton Loki;
With child he grew / from the guileful woman.
Thence are on earth / all ogres sprung.
Through eating a witch’s heart, Loki became the mother of all ogres.”
Loki changing into a fish, being a mother, and shape-shifting is also from this thesis:
“Loki has a large number of sexual partners among the Norse goddesses. He shares the bed of Freya, Týr’s wife, Sif, and Skathi, as well as the bed of his three wives. As reported in the myths, Loki seems to be the most sexually active and promiscuous of the Æsir.
Loki is also a master of disguise, taking on a multitude of forms, both humanoid and animal. In the myths he changes into a bird, a fly, a salmon, and a horse to name a few of his animal aspects. He also disguises himself as old women and giantesses in order to fool the Æsir.
He certainly has a two-fold, ambiguous nature in the myths. He is god and giant as well as being both male and female. His femininity is not just a disguise, as he is reported to have given birth at least twice.”
Loki the scapegoat taken from 'Potentialities of Loki' an essay available at 'The Apricity Forum: A European Cultural Community':
“The myths surrounding him (especially the closer ragnarök gets) do nevertheless show some parallels between these two figures, for example the captivity or role of scapegoat played by Loki in the giant builder myth told by Snorri (Gylfaginning 42), where Loki seems to receive all subsequent blame.
There is no evidence in the myth, as told by Snorri, that Loki is guilty, but blaming Loki seems to draw the attention away from the collective guilt of the gods who wanted to cheat the giant of his fee. Loki must therefore take the blame for everyone.”
I think there are a lot more I haven't added, but I can't remember what they were... Anyway, if any of my research materials interest you, I can put them up on mediafire for you to download.
In which there is a lot of technical jargon...
(Sometimes I confuse myself.)
Short chapter folks, sorry, but I'm having to deal with the electricity board who've made a mistake and we're being threatened with disconnection. I'm writing this while waiting for yet another callback.
On a lighter note, here's the link to my mediafire file download page with all of my recent research for this story zipped up into one file for your ease of access: http://www.mediafire.com/?yqxwhnm31krfwr0
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ тнїґтєєй Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
Thor lays a propriety hand on Loki's closest ankle. “Aye. I have known since I removed him from his prison that his sleep is magical, not physical,” he says, bristling slightly.
“So you know it's not a normal coma?” Natasha clarifies.
“Aye. When I rescued him he was in this exact condition, and while I have witnessed Loki place himself in magical healing sleeps, they have never lasted beyond two days, however,” Thor explains, “they have many similarities to this coma, and so I have no doubt this is a result of some kind of enchantment – mayhap even an accidental one. I simply do not know.”
Natasha frowns. “Does his eyes respond to stimuli?”
“What?” Thor blinks, face scrunching up in confusion.
“Does his eyes respond to light?” Tony repeats simply.
“Oh,” Thor pauses. “I have not checked.”
“Do you mind if I take a look?” Bruce asks.
Thor shakes his head, and Bruce takes a place beside Loki, kneeling on the floor. He peels open one of Loki's eyelids and stutters to a halt in surprise. “What happened to his eyes?” he breathes out.
There's a bit of a scramble as Thor leans forward over Loki, one hand gripping the back of the couch to keep himself balanced, and as Tony pushes his way in beside Natasha.
They look on curiously as Bruce reveals the solid white of Loki's eye, no trace of green to be found. There is just a solid sclera, no pupils.
“This is definitely more than physical,” Bruce says with a fierce look of concentration on his face as he checks Loki's other eye, revealing the same solid white.
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” Tony asks.
Thor shakes his head, his eyes worried. “Nay...”
“Do you mind if we take him to the lab?” Bruce asks, standing up, worry written across his face.
Thor stares doubtfully at the smaller man. “Why?”
“I want to take some readings, see if there's something our eyes are missing,” Bruce explains patiently.
“Hey, don't worry,” Tony pats Thor on his closest shoulder, “you know we'll take good care of him, right?”
Thor sighs. “Very well, but I will accompany you,” he heaves a deep breath and waves the others away from the couch, quickly lifting Loki's lax form into his arms.
“Right, follow me,” Bruce says, leading the way to the elevator, Thor (with Loki) and Tony following him.
Steve, Natasha and Clint are left alone.
“Well, best not let this food go to waste,” Clint says pragmatically, hand inching over to the extra mug of coffee with Thor's name on it.
Natasha clears her throat pointedly and holds a hand out, making Clint scowl, but place Thor's extra, untouched mug of coffee in her hand. “Thank you,” she says sweetly.
Steve snickers, and hurriedly tries to hide it. When Clint glares half-heartedly at him, Steve shrugs. “Well, you did steal the last one Thor didn't drink,” he points out diplomatically. “And anyway,” he continues, “if you want sweeter coffee, all you have to do is let Pepper know.”
“And ruin our fun?” Clint asks, faking an expression of extreme shock. “Never!”
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
“Okay, lay him down on this bed,” Bruce sweeps a white sheet back from a hospital bed in the lab. There were four beds, all empty, thanks to Tony's preference of leaving SHIELD's medlab as soon as he was capable of stumbling out under his own power and an impressive array of medical grade equipment.
Thor placed Loki down on the bed and stepped back, allowing Bruce to connect a multitude of wires and other small things he did not recognise to Loki's body.
“Grab a seat, big guy,” Tony suggests, “we're probably going to be here for a while.”
He's right, and eventually Tony nods off in the seat beside Thor, still tired from their early morning battle. Thor however, stays wide awake, watching with keen eyes as the small scientist takes reading after reading. It's quiet, and boring, but Thor doesn't complain, or speak, he just watches as Bruce tries to find some answers to Loki's situation.
It's good to have friends like this, Thor thinks.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Tony wakes up a couple of hours later, moaning as his neck cracks and the muscles along his shoulders pull together tightly. “I need a bath,” he mumbles, eyes bleary with sleep, "something soothing, and hot, and good for your muscles. I feel like I've been chewed up and spat out and then ground up into a mushy, lumpy paste and then squeezed into a Tony-skin, like a sausage.”
“That sounds disgusting,” Bruce comments absently as he stands in front of a holographic display.
Thor snorts, but keeps his attention on Loki.
Tony stands up slowly, muscles creaking as he stretches slowly. “Found anything?”
There's a significant pause.
“Maybe,” Bruce finally answers shiftily,
“Give,” Tony demands, taking a few moments to stare at Bruce before continuing with his stretches, pulling one arm over the other and rolling his shoulders to release the tension caught in the muscles.
Bruce sighs at the familiar request. “There are almost no signs that Loki's brain is active. The Alpha, Delta and Theta waves you would expect to be high in a person thinking or even in the early stages of sleep, but Loki's are almost non-existent. The Delta waves, the ones most active when you sleep should be very high, considering Loki's condition, but they're simply not there. At all. It's like he's incapable of thinking while he sleeps, but there are a few random spikes – tiny ones, barely readable – in the Beta and Theta bands, which are only really active in the early stages of sleep or just before waking,” he explains.
“Except they're far too low for an active brain,” Tony frowns.
“But the readings are wrong for a brain dead coma patient.”
“Precisely,” Bruce says, bringing up another display.
“In fact, everything odd. I mean, some comatose patients have higher levels of metabolites from the brain's major neurotransmitters noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine, so you can't read the protein and chemical levels to decide if someone's in a deep coma or a level one, but Loki's are all wrong.
“There's almost no response in any parts of his brain. It's like someone’s put his mind on standby, if we compare him to a computer. All it's doing is sending small signals, pinging the system basically, without actually getting a response.
“I would even hesitate to say that Loki is in a vegetative state. When in a vegetative state the cortex can down-modulate activity in the limbic system. In the absence of cortical activity, the limbic system may fire in an uncontrollable and irregular pattern. That's not happening here. There are almost no signs of any kind of activity in any of the areas of memory or recognition.
“I've read that some patients in a vegetative state have shown activity in the anterior cingulate and limbic areas of the temporal lobe when things are spoken about that trigger emotional or mental responses, and that these responses happen almost automatically without any assistance from an active or aware mind, but by these reading, I would hesitate to say that Loki's even...well...”
“Just spit it out.”
Bruce winces and sighs. “I would hesitate to say that Loki has a mind left.”
In which there is are three shell-shocked men...and a sleepover.
I'm sorry for not responding to all these brilliant, wonderful comments. I've been really behind and I promise I'll try to catch up to you all. =^______^=
--offers chocolate frosted cupcakes--
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ fоцґтёєй Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
I cannot take much more of this I cannot bear it I cannot I cannot I cannot. My mind twists and turns and I think too much of losing myself. I am lost always lost always alone everything is empty empty empty. I cannot remember what is outside of these walls. Why am I here! Am I alive? Am I dead? Where am I? Does anyone miss me? Does anyone know me? Am I real?
Please? Please please please let me out please let me out I don't want to be here any more please I cannot bear it I cannot stay here please free me kill me let me die please please please let me out let me out take me take me away destroy me empty me let me fade let me disappear I don't want to be here I don't want to live please please please...
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
“No. I refuse to believe that Loki's mind is lost. I refuse,” Thor states flatly, lips pursed and arms crossed.
“Thor, it's not something you can deny. The facts are staring you in the face,” Bruce says gently, eyes soft with shared understanding end empathy. It's always been one of his faults, becoming too emotionally involved, and he cannot help but feel pained as he takes in Thor's desperate need for Loki to be fine...just sleeping.
Bruce heaves a sigh, but doesn't push the matter. “Look, how about we keep Loki in here and -”
“No,” Thor’s voice is cold.
Bruce expected that response, so he tries another tack. “Okay, then would you mind if we relocated some of this equipment to his room? Maybe we'll find something out that will tell us how to help him.”
Thor's face wavers in indecision.
“We'll be as careful as we can possibly be,” Bruce assures the blond, “and we'll try to stay out of your way,” he soothes.
Thor's shoulders slump. “Very well,” he grudgingly agrees.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Things settle into an odd kind of routine. It's difficult at first, but once Loki's bedroom is set up to Bruce's and Thor's requirements, things trundle along and fall together nicely. Tony makes off with all of Loki's diaries, and spends the first few weeks scanning in all of the entries into a private server connected directly to JARVIS's mainframe.
When he's done, he ropes Thor in to helping him move all of the books back into Loki's bedroom, which now looks like a high class hospital room.
The reading from the machines are sent directly to Bruce's StarkPad, so he only has to check on the equipment and Loki once every day, usually in the mornings as Thor prepares the smoothie he feeds Loki every morning. He finishes and leaves Thor feeding Loki, before going over the previous night's readings.
Sometimes Tony joins him, sometimes he doesn't, he's still setting up folders for the informations JARVIS is organising in Loki's diaries. The rest of the time he splits between his lab, bothering Bruce, checking up on Thor and Loki and bugging Steve and Clint and Natasha into half-group activities, actually managing to make their usual movie night move on to Thor’s floor without them realising it, and it soon becomes a bi-weekly event.
Thor can be coaxed to join them at times, although he's a bit harder to convince than even Bruce, and he still carries Loki with him everywhere, making Bruce bite back a sigh of frustration every time he has to reconnect Loki to the machines because Thor suddenly decided to take Loki out on the balcony to get some sun, or decided Loki needed to sit in the lounge, or when he wanted a bath and didn't want to leave Loki alone for too long, dragging a couch to the bathroom door and keeping Loki within his sight as he bathes.
Bruce soon realises that other than breathing, none of Loki's other bodily functions are working. His hair is not getting any longer, his nails do not grow, and even though he eats, well, drinks Thor's regular smoothies, he has no bowel movements. When Bruce tests Loki's reflexes, there are no responses. His muscle tone is not deteriorating, and his breathing rate never, ever changes.
When all the data proves inconclusive, Bruce finally takes his finding to Thor and explains them and all the oddities about Loki's condition.
“I think,” he says delicately, “that the only way we have of moving forward is to read Loki's diaries. There might be something in them that could point to the reason why Loki's in this state. It's obvious that he cannot have been in this state during his entire imprisonment, so we need to know what changed.”
It works, and Thor agrees.
With Thor's agreement on his side, Bruce heads for Tony next. It isn't hard to get him to agree to Bruce's idea, and they discuss what it is they need to look for.
“I think we should start with the last entries and work backwards,” Bruce suggests.
“I'd rather have JARVIS list the potentially dangerous entries,” Tony counters.
Bruce frowns. “Why don't we ask Thor to start from the beginning, I'll start at the end, and you start with whatever entries JARVIS flags,” Bruce finally proposes.
Tony nods. “I'll get an extra durable sPad for Thor...maybe set it up with large text,” he snorts.
“Meet you in Loki's room?” Bruce asks.
“Yeah. Give me five minutes and I'll join you.”
It's easy to bring Thor into their idea. He's keen and eager to do something to help, and while grim at the prospect of reading through all of Loki's diaries with two men not of Loki's family, he knows them to be men of honour, and that they will hold to their oaths.
When Tony joins them, Bruce has arranged the bed into more of a nest. Loki lays in the centre of the massive bed, with Thor on one side near the door, and Bruce sitting on Loki's other side, but at the foot of the bed, his back resting on a mound of pillows piled against the foot-board. There's a similar pile of pillows at the head of the bed beside Loki, and even Thor has a mound of pillows behind him.
Tony grins. “Cool,” he says with a small laugh as he climbs on the bed and settles in against his own mound of pillows. When he's comfortable, he passes Thor a large sPad, easily a foot by a foot and a half in length. It's already switched on, and the first journal entry is on the screen along with two large arrows on either side, pointing forward and back.
Bruce already has his sPad in hand, since he already uses it for the data he collected from Loki, and within moments the room is silent except for their breathing.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
At least I will be comfortable while I wait for Odin to come to a decision.
Fools. They are, all of them, fools. Hypocrites and fools. They have long denigrated me for being too 'soft' and 'lacking as a warrior' and yet when I show how dangerous an opponent I can be, I am not praised as a warrior, no, I am hunted down and imprisoned.
When Thor sought war, he was merely treated like a disobedient child, accused of not thinking about the cost of the innocent lives at stake should a war be inevitable. My way, there would have been no loss of life, and a race of monsters would have become extinct.
And Midgard! They have always cried out for stability, for them to be assured of their survival. Their lives are so brief, and yet they kill and kill and kill. I could have offered a way out of that life.
Imagine! A world united under a single ruler. No more wars. No more hate. No more suffering. I would have been a good ruler. I would have been hard, yet fair, and I would have taken care of all those who bowed to my rules.
Of course there would be some loss of life in the beginning. There will always be those foolish enough to fear change, who fear freedom from choice, who fear the safety of being ruled, but I would not have been cruel.
The Chitauri would have attempted to rule the universe, and they would have failed, but they would have been far from Midgard and Asgard when that came to be. They would have helped me secure Midgard, then moved on to greener pastures, and Midgard would have been forgotten by them, to live in peace under my rule.
Yet by defying me, they have sown the seeds of their own destruction. Without the Tesseract, there is no way for me to bargain for the safety of Midgard or Asgard. I have nothing left to offer, and so there will be a reckoning.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
Odin has not been to glare at his wayward game piece – how odd. I would sneer, but I would hate to end up looking like Odin.
I never before realised how weak these Æsir are. I am disgusted to have once thought myself unworthy of them. They laud their accomplishments and their feats of strength and power, but when faced with the real hard choices, they flounder and fail. It is no wonder the cost to the Æsir was so high in the Era of Battle, so many of them no doubt quailed at the hard choices one must make in order to win.
I will never be weak again.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
I wonder how many of Odin's secrets wander the palace halls. I wonder if there are more like me – stolen and unknowing.
† ❤ † ❤ † ❤ † ❤ †
This is ridiculous! Odin you coward! Where are you? Are you afraid to face your greatest and worst creation? Do you fear to see yourself in my eyes.
Face me you deceitful old man!
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Thor sighs and looks away from the current entry on the page before him. The anger in Loki is clear in these entries, and it hurts to find out how his brother was thinking when he was first imprisoned.
“I need a break,” Tony says abruptly, his face white and his lips pulled taut and bloodless. There's a fierceness in his eyes that Thor has only rarely seen, and only ever in battle or during spars.
Bruce looks up and blinks, his own face pale and sickly. There's green edging up around his ears, but Thor does not know if it is the monster inside the man coming out, or if the other man is feeling ill. Perhaps it's a bit of both, he decides.
“I need a break too,” Bruce agrees, his voice hoarse. He places the pad in his hand down on the bed, face down, fingers trembling slightly. He almost runs out of the room, and Tony finds him in the kitchen, drinking a glass of water, his eyes scrunched closed and one hand gripping the metal of the sink so hard his fingers are white.
“Bad?” Tony asks.
Bruce laughs. It's a horrible, broken noise. “I think,” he says, his voice wavering, “that I would happily help Thor kill Odin if I had the opportunity.”
Tony takes in a deep breath. “I think I'd have to help you,” he admits.
Bruce glances up and takes in Tony's serious expression, all traces of levity wiped from his face. “Can I ask you a question?”
Tony shrugs, but doesn't say no, so Bruce takes that as an okay.
“At the beginning, did you think that Loki deserved this for killing so many people?” Bruce asks, painfully honest.
“Did you?” Tony counters.
Bruce looks away. “At first, yeah. I had a moment of thinking that it was Loki's comeuppance.”
“...You weren't the only one,” Tony admits, grimacing.
They share a moment of shared understanding, before Tony asks, “was it that bad at the end?”
“I think...” Bruce pauses, obviously trying to find the right words, “I think that even if Loki wakes up...he's going to be...damaged.”
“We knew that much,” Tony points out.
“No,” Bruce shakes his head. “I mean really, really damaged. He might not even know who he is. Those last few entries...” he trails off swallowing through a suddenly dry throat, “Loki...he didn't know who he was, where he was, why he was there, or even if he was real. He...he begged...”
Tony drags Bruce into a half-hug, for lack of anything to say that could help. “Did he beg to be freed?” he asks quietly.
Bruce shudders. “Yeah. But Tony, he begged to die. Loki. The guy who laughed and postured through everything...begged...begs...begs to die, to be killed. That...whatever, whoever Loki was at the end...it's barely human .”
“Loki was never human,” Tony shoots out, but his voice is grim.
“Yeah, but he's not all that different from us, as far as needs go.”
“We should get back to Thor.”
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
It's dark when they stop reading. They've taken more than a handful of breaks, together and alone, and Tony has been nursing a scotch since lunch. Bruce had cringed at it, but not said anything.
When someone knocks at the bedroom door, none of them are in any kind of state to feel surprised. All three of them feel like their emotions have been seared from their bodies, leaving only a gaping, deep scar of horror and pain.
“Enter,” Thor says, barely louder than a murmur. His face has tear tracks that have dried, but he doesn't seem to care or notice when Natasha steps into the room and carefully takes in the state of the three men and Loki.
Bruce's eyes are haunted and dark, and Tony had bruises around his eyes from rubbing them, and his face is pale. Besides the tear tracks, Thor's face is oddly empty of emotion, which is odd for Natasha to see, considering how open the big blond is about how he feels, wearing all of his emotions on his face for the world to see.
“Clint's brought dinner,” she says eventually, neutrally.
“I don't think I could eat,” Tony replies lowly.
“I would prefer to drink something strong,” Thor rumbles.
“I want to be sedated,” Bruce says seriously.
“Jesus, what the hell happened to you three?” Clint asks, coming in the room to stand next to Natasha.
“We've been reading Loki's diaries,” Tony waves one pad in the air. “I think I want to be sick. No offence Thor, but I really hope this hasn't happened before and been forgotten, because otherwise...I could favour patricide only after torture, and trust me – I know torture,” he's deadly serious, which shocks both Natasha and Clint, but when Bruce agrees and Thor simply nods, they know that there's more to this than they know, and Natasha needs to know what those diaries say, but she's not quite ready to throw her lot in with Loki, not until Clint feels strong enough to not feel threatened by her sympathy for Loki.
“Your support is appreciated,” Thor eventually replies, placing his own oversized pad to one side.
“Are you guys coming to eat?” Clint asks.
“Even if you don't want to eat, at least come sit with us, get out of here, you too Thor – and Loki,” Natasha is firm, but she keeps her voice soft.
For a moment or two she thinks she's going to be ignored, but then Thor shifts uneasily and Bruce sighs, sliding off the side of the bed, Tony following just behind him. After a moment Thor heaves a breath of indecision and then makes up his mind, lifting Loki into his arms.
They all make for the lounge, but despite the array of food Steve is setting out, Thor simply sits on the couch, keeping possessively Loki in his arms as though he's afraid that at any moment his brother is going to vanish despite his desperate grip. To the others' surprise, Bruce sits beside Thor on the couch, and Tony sits beside Bruce. The three of them are quiet as Steve and Natasha and Clint eat, choosing drinks instead.
Tony keeps their glasses filled, even though by the time the meal is over the three men have somehow managed to finish a litre and a half of scotch, which is an incredibly huge amount, however since Thor is drinking most of it, no-one points out how fast the alcohol is disappearing.
After a while, Steve eventually manages to coax the others to at least have a few snacks, but they eat mechanically, causing them to worry.
It's difficult for Steve, Natasha or Clint to draw the others into any kind of conversation, and after a while Clint sighs and tidies up the leftover food, placing it in the fridge for them to go through later. A few more hours after that and it gets too late for them to just sit in the room, and eventually Thor, Tony and Bruce are left alone as the others head for bed, all attempts at drawing out the three men into conversations having failed.
The next morning, Steve is the first one to come upstairs having searched for Tony and failed to find him, and when he can't find Bruce either he heads down to Thor's floor. He's surprised by the scene in the lounge.
All three men have taking the pillows from both bedrooms along with the blankets and the cushions and made up beds in the lounge. Loki is lying in the centre of them, with Thor sleeping beside him, closest to the windows, and Bruce sleeping near Loki's head, curled up half around Loki's braid, and Tony sleeping with his head half laying on Loki's leg.
It's an incredibly odd sight – to say the very least, and Steve is shocked into silence.
In which there are three hungover men...also, we get to see a bit of life from Clint's point of view.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ fїfтєёй Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
When he dreams he sees their faces, accusing, angry, desperate. Why? They always ask, their faces bloody, their eyes blank with death. Why did you kill me? They beg and plead and shout and cry and moan. It's worse when he dreams of them attacking him, and his body won't listen to him, killing them over and over again.
The dreams are the same every night, and when Clint wakes up, the nightmare continues.
After the invasion, after Loki and Thor returned to Asgard, Clint looked up the name of everyone he killed, and everyone his men killed while under his command. He spent weeks going from one funeral to another, surrounded by grieving families and friends, unable to say 'I'm the one who killed them. I'm the one responsible for their death.'. He knows, logically, that their deaths are not truly his fault – he was under Loki's enchantment and controlled by Loki and the Tesseract, but it doesn't make things better.
Michael Landry had been thirty-four years old. Married. Two children, a girl aged four and a boy aged one. They would never see their father again.
Robert 'Bobbie' Carvas had been twenty-nine, engaged, so proud of his fiancée. He would talk non-stop about marrying his 'one true love' and about the brood of children he wanted.
Angelina 'Angie' Matthews was only nineteen, an intern who only specialised in fast typing and collecting information, killed in the first explosion. She left behind three brothers and a sister, a disabled mother and a grieving father.
Brian Adamson was forty-eight. He was a brand-new grandfather and he would show the picture of his three week old grandson to everyone. He was a technician and never trained for battle, but he was gunned down just the same.
Corey Sumner was thirty-seven. He was an old hand at fighting overwhelming odds, and was a good friend to Phil Coulson. He died by a bullet to the back as he tried to cover a twenty-two year old scientist who'd been trapped under fallen rubble from the first explosion.
The list went on and on and on. Each one a strike against Clint's soul. These were people he'd worked with, lived with on the Helicarrier. He'd laughed with them, joked with them, talked to them, shared a drink or ten and even been cried on. He knew more than a handful of them personally, and the rest were gaping holes of emptiness, people he could have come to know, might have been friends with someday. All of them dead.
He's seeing a shrink twice a week. He doesn't think anyone knows, not even Natasha, because Clint's always been a private person about his personal issues, it helps because he likes being open with his friends and allies and acquaintances, but he can't be open about everything, and so his private life stays private.
Clint cannot forgive Loki. There's just no way he can forgive him for anything. He can't. If he forgives Loki for murdering so many people and setting an army against the Earth, then he's going to have to forgive himself for the role he played whilst under Loki's control, and Clint can not, will not, forgive himself for the lives he took. It's impossible.
He doesn't deserve forgiveness.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Most nights after a nightmare, Clint seeks out the highest point on the tower. It's open and airy and dangerous, but Clint likes to watch the world come alive as dawn creeps over the horizon and cars start to drive past, and people slowly trickle out onto the streets. It soothes him, calms him, makes him feel grounded in the here and now, instead of lost in his nightmarish world of dreams.
He'll stay up there until a reasonable hour, usually just before six in the morning, before returning to his room to shower and dress and get something to eat. By that point Natasha is usually up, and he presents her with her usual morning coffee, black and sweet, even though they both know she would adore whipped cream and spices, she refuses to indulge in them very often, and they drink quietly until around seven when Steve usually joins them.
If they haven't already grabbed something to eat, they sometimes head out to the small bakery on the corner for fresh sandwiches made with bread just out of the ovens, the air chilly outside, but blissfully warm inside the small shop. Sometimes they talk, sometimes they don't, but it's always comfortable between them.
Clint knows Natasha is starting to get curious about Loki's diaries, and she's slowly becoming more accepting about having the God around. He already knows that Steve worries about Loki, the blond cannot help but try and befriend or help anyone who looks like they need a friend or assistance, and so he's grateful beyond words that they're not pressuring him into accepting Loki with open arms, or pushing him for a reason as to why he's so standoffish in regards to the sleeping deity.
Clint is still having flashbacks. He can usually ignore them, but he's just relieved no-one has noticed them during battle. Because of Thor's distraction during the last fight, no-one noticed how much Clint was shaking or how he threw up when they all returned to the tower.
In his mind, Clint knows Loki's been punished. It won't ever bring back the lives that were lost, but insisting on punishing Loki any more would be heartless and cruel, and Clint is not a cruel man, however, he doesn't feel as though he's been punished enough for taking all those lives. He's been patted on the back for doing a good job, and he knows people pity him for all that he did whilst under Loki's control, but it doesn't feel like he's earned any kind of forgiveness.
He wants to tell Thor that he'll help keep his brother safe, but he can't do that. Thor would be too happy, too grateful to realise that Clint is so torn about everything that happened with Loki before he was sent back to Asgard.
So he takes every day one at a time, he never misses a session with his shrink, he takes his medication, he tries to interact with his team, and he tries to accept Loki's presence, but he's afraid that he'll wake up one morning and his house of cards is going to come tumbling down.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
Steve doesn't know what to do. He can feel his face heating up with a blush, but really? Why do three grown men (and even Loki) have to look so unashamedly adorable? There was something puppyish and cute about the way they were all tangled up in the blankets and pillows together.
Thor was sprawled on his back, his hair a golden halo around his head, and he was huffing a great breath every so often like he was trying to say something, but it was getting swallowed up by his dream. Upon closer inspection, Steve realises he's holding one of Loki's hands underneath a scrunched up bit of sheet, and he stifles a giggle.
Bruce looks so small, curled up around a pillow, blanket-less, hugging Loki's long braid like a teddy. Quite a few of the pillows are banked around him, and he's almost lost within their bulk.
Tony is laying on his side, some of the blankets tangled in his legs, one arm thrown back and partially underneath him, looking uncomfortable, but his head is on Loki's thigh, and one hand has curled into the sheet beside Loki's knee, and every time he breaths a small ripple in the blanket wavers.
When the elevator opens and Clint and Natasha joins him, Steve realises he's been staring for a good ten minutes. The look on the other's faces are pure gold though, and Steve hurriedly places a finger against his lips and motions for them to be quiet before they can say anything.
Natasha's face softens as she watches them sleep, and one side of her lips quirk up. Clint looks awkward, like he finds them cute, but shouldn't, because grown men just aren't cute, dammit, and he has to bite back a laugh.
Steve motions for them all to get back into the elevator, and they follow him, although Natasha looks a bit torn about it, and Steve just knows she's going to ask JARVIS for pictures later.
When they reach the ground floor, Steve starts walking, and Clint and Natasha follow him.
“You know,” Steve starts conversationally, “you don't need to follow me.”
Clint snorts. “You're going to get coffee and breakfast for them, aren't you.”
Steve blinks and pauses mid-stride. “How did you know?”
Natasha laughs as Clint answers him. “Because you're a great big mother hen, and you want to give JARVIS the chance to wake them up and get them into a less embarrassing situation before we go back up there.”
“Oh,” Steve replies. He doesn't deny it though, because Clint's correct, that, and he doesn't want to explain how adorable a scene it was to the sleeping members of their team, because, no, that would be far too embarrassing. He had to lead them, not picture them as a pile of puppies, and oh God, his mind went there again.
“We're coming with you so we have an excuse to join you as soon as you bring them their coffee and yummy pastry breakfast goodness,” Clint continues cheerily.
“And you?” Steve asks Natasha.
Natasha just grins, widely.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
“Sir,” JARVIS says, volume low, “I would suggest you wake up.”
“Mggrhsby,” Tony articulates cleverly as he rolls over. His head falls off the reasonably comfortable and warm surface it was laying on and hits something hard and uncomfortable. When he forces his eyes open, he sees it's the floor. It's wooden, not carpeted, so he knows it shouldn't be his bedroom floor.
“J'VS,” he mumbles with a dry mouth and aching head, “How'd thz floor get b'side my bed?”
“You are in the lounge of the thirteenth floor, sir,” JARVIS responds dryly, and Tony groans.
“'Kay, wazit a gud party?” he asks.
“No, sir,” JARVIS says, a kind of dry, restrained mirth evident in his voice, “it was not up to your usual standard of libidinous debauchery or drunken stupidity.”
“Kaythxslemme sleep,” Tony tries again, closing his eyes and cuddling up against his warm pillow.
“Sir, perhaps you would like to know that you are currently 'snuggling' Mr Laufeyjarson's leg?” JARVIS informs him lightly.
“WHAT?” Tony yelps, sitting up suddenly, cursing as the world spins.
There's a bleary, “Timeizit?” from somewhere near him, sounding like Bruce, and there's a loud snort and sniffle and groan from a bit further from him, in a voice deep enough to be only one person.
“Did I have an orgy last night?” Tony asks. “Oh, wait, I'm dressed,” he answers himself.
“I believe the correct term would be a 'sleepover' sir,” JARVIS intones loftily. “I have discovered it to be highly popular among teenage girls.”
Tony groans. “Oh no, I did not program you with a sense of humour, did I?”
JARVIS refuses to respond.
There's a clunk behind him and a groan of pain, and Tony turns around to see Thor holding his head...which is somehow underneath the coffee table, which has been pushed out near the window.
Thor rolls out from under the table and sits up, almost dragging Loki with him as he stands, only to pause and stare at the hand in his own for a moment or two, as though trying to figure out why he has an extra hand. He blinks a few times as his brain tries to kick into gear through the hangover, and after a few minutes of staring he shuffles forward and presents Loki's hand to Tony.
With utter seriousness, even though he's swaying where he stands, the Thunder God places Loki's hand in Tony's and pats it before stumbling off towards the direction of the bedrooms and the bathrooms.
Bruce sits up and shakes his head, blinking repeatedly as he tries to get the world to focus and stop spinning. “'m I stll azleep?” he asks, watching as Tony stares unmoving at Loki's hand in his own.
Tony glances up blearily. “I'm holding Loki's hand,” he announces gravely, if a bit confused.
“'Kay,” Bruce nods, falling back on his pillow and starting to snore. He hadn't seemed to realise he was still holding Loki's braid with both hands.
When Thor stumbles back into the room a few minutes later, Tony has woken up a bit more. Thankfully, so has Thor, and the blond wastes no time in checking Loki, although he ignores the hand still in Tony’s, and the braid still in Bruce's sleeping grip.
“Thor,” Tony calls, “could you take Loki's hand back please? I need water and painkillers, lots of painkillers, and I'll even share them.”
“My head aches,” Thor mumbles, as he takes Loki's hand back and cradles it within his own hands.
Tony sighs and stands very, very carefully. He wobbles a bit as he heads to the kitchenette area. “JARVIS,” he asks, “where did I put the aspirin?”
“Upstairs, sir, or down in your lab,” JARVIS answers promptly, ignoring Tony's groan of despair.
“Fine, fine,” Tony huffs. He drags himself to the elevator, really, honestly, drags himself, or at least that's what it feels like, since it seems as though his feet are made of lead and his body's made of cement and there's a giant bell inside his head, and presses the button for his floor repeatedly. And a few times more, just to be sure.
“I do know where I am going, sir,” JARVIS informs him loudly, making Tony cringe.
“Head, hurt,” he says, wincing.
Thankfully it only takes a few minutes for him to raid the first aid drawer (for hangovers) and take a good handful of foil pop-packets of aspirin and paracetamol, and head back downstairs. He takes three aspirin and two paracetamol, ignoring the fact that it's over the recommended dose, and takes Thor a larger handful of the two and a large glass (plastic actually, but who cares, right? He's rich enough to buy more if Thor drops this one) of water over.
That done, he fetches two paracetamol and a glass of water for Bruce, and flops carefully down beside the still sleeping man.
“Bruce,” Tony shakes one shoulder slowly. “Wake up.”
The other man stirs and blinks his eyes open, peering at Tony. “'zitdaylight?”
“Yeah, I think.”
“Oh.” Bruce sits up slowly, going to rub his eyes and then stopping when he realises he's holding a rope of hair in his hands. He frowns, as though he can't quite believe what he's holding.
“It's Loki's” Tony says helpfully.
“Oh,” Bruce places it down carefully, as though he's afraid it's going to suddenly slither away. “Is Thor mad?”
Tony snorts. “He gave me Loki's hand to hold while he went to the bathroom.”
“Oh.” Bruce repeats. There's a pause. “My head hurts.”
Tony places the tablets in Bruce's hand and passes him the cup of water to swallow them with.
“No problem.” Tony leaves Bruce to it and turns back around to see what Thor’s doing.
Thor's relocated to the couch, and he's arranging a pillow on one end, but he seems to be falling back asleep as he pats the pillow. His eyes are drooping and he keeps yawning.
“Thor, I think that's pillow’s as flat as it's going to get,” Tony calls out, not too loudly, because his head feels like an anvil.
That seems to do the trick and Thor opens his eyes properly. He yawns and sits forward, shuffling to the edge of the couch. It takes him a minute to get his bearings, but he does, and he manages to kneel on the floor, lift Loki, lay him on the couch, and collapse against the back, throwing his arm over his eyes, all in one smooth, seamless motion.
Tony wants to whistle in admiration, but he won't, because his head hurts and he's not actually a masochist.
However, Bruce has already stood up and is placing the empty cup of water on a counter before starting to tidy up the pillows and blankets, and Tony feels bad at having him do all the work, so he makes himself helpful by throwing the pillows towards the hallway door for someone else to take them away.
It's at that point that the elevator opens and the others join them. There's a knowing look on each of their faces, although Steve also has a bit of a pinkness to his cheeks and ears and Tony groans.
“You saw,” he accuses.
Clint snickers. “Yep.”
“I hate you all,” Tony says, but there's no sting in it, just mild annoyance and mirth.
“I brought coffee and bagels and pastries,” Steve says hopeful to change the flow of the conversation.
Tony sighs. “Fine, you are forgiven, now give,” he waves a hand towards the bags.
“I will have one of the apple round sweet things with the sugar and brown spice on top,” Thor calls out, hand open and eagerly taking a mug of coffee from Natasha.
“So, enjoy your sleepover?” Natasha teases. “Did you have fun painting each others nails, and braiding each other's hair?” she asks, flicking Loki's braid to make a point, and Tony snickers before he can stop himself.
“Well, we would have, but Thor wouldn't sit still,” Tony replied with a straight face.
Natasha rolls her eyes and moves on to teasing Bruce.
Tony just watches as his team comes together. His head still hurts, but it feels nice to know that when they need it, no questions will be asked. There's a kind of understanding between them that makes him feel welcome and...accepted.
It's a nice feeling, Tony realises. He hopes that one day they can all share this with Loki.
In which we see things from Natasha's point of view, and Tony relocates everyone to his Malibu house for a beach party...
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ sїжтєёйOº°‘¨
She's always been a weapon.
She knows one-hundred and seventy-two ways of killing someone with her bare hands, and hundreds more with weapons. She's never unarmed, even when she's bound, because even her voice is a weapon, one honed and trained.
Her mind though, is her best weapon. She knows how to break someone down and manipulate them just by talking. She can see though people like they're made of clear glass, and she can predict how a person will react with a 92.87% predictability after only five minutes of conversation.
Natasha is called the Black Widow for a reason, and it's not one she's proud of.
She's been alive for a while, even though she never deigns to give her age away, but she's only recently felt alive . There's a distinction there that most people wouldn't get, which is why she's so attached to Clint. He has a way of reading her which is uncanny, and it reassures her that she's still human enough to be understood .
This feeling of being accepted, part of a team who are made up of honestly good people – even if they don't think so – is new and surprising and...wonderful. She doesn't feel like she's there on sufferance, which is the way she normally felt whilst on the Helicarrier, and only Clint, Phil, Fury, and Maria had ever made her feel welcome. Needed. Wanted. Until now.
Natasha is a very selfish person. She doesn't want to lose this feeling, and she doesn't want to lose the welcome she feels from the rest of the Avengers, but she's torn. She cares deeply for Clint. If it's love, it's not romantic, but she's deeply, painfully attached to him. He's her touchstone, her anchor, and without him she believes she'll lose herself to the killer she harbours inside.
So when Loki turns up, broken, lost, damaged, the small, fractured pieces left of Natasha's heart ache for him, not just because she can identify with him, but because of the way she can see it's hurting her team, and their precious people have become her precious people – even if she will never, ever admit it out loud.
She's desperate to know what's in Loki's diaries. She's been broken down and remade, and the only constant has been her overwhelming need to survive, which has always been dependant upon information. Information she holds, or is capable of collecting. It's become a bit of an obsession, and it's hard for Natasha to ignore it, but she can't make any promises to Thor. If she did, she would be lying. No information would be worth destroying the life she has now.
Natasha is hard-wired to survive, and she will use anything and everything to make sure she stays alive.
Sometimes though, she wonders if it's worth it.
Natasha knows that her reputation amongst both her allies and her enemies is not a good one. Almost everyone sees her as cold and stone hearted, but she's not. She's pragmatic.
Natasha feels for Loki, and Thor, and Bruce and Tony for reading Loki's diaries, because they're obviously upsetting, and she understands that Thor feels angry and betrayed, but she will not let one man be the cause of thousands of possible deaths.
She joined the Avengers to save lives, and she can not bear to see Thor start a war in order to feel better about Loki's horrifying situation. She's seen too much death and sorrow and pain, and if she can prevent even a little more from plaguing the world, then she'll be happy, no, not happy, it's hard to feel happiness, so she’ll settle for content.
However, she's still worried about Clint. The archer has been closed off more than usual, and she can see the haunted look in his eyes whenever he looks at Loki. The anger is lessening, and the hate has almost completely dissipated, but the sorrow and fear and guilt Clint feels is still overwhelming, and Natasha worries, oh how she worries about him.
She hopes that when Loki wakes up he won't be homicidal, because she wants Loki and Clint to be able to talk at some point in the future. It's a very selfish though, she knows and acknowledges that, but she wants them to move on and confront their demons, and most of all, she wants Clint to stop feeling so guilty and empty of almost everything else but sorrow. It's hard, because even when he's laughing or joking, there's a shadow in his eyes that she knows no-one else notices, and it breaks her heart a little more every time she sees it.
Life goes on, as it must, but Tony feels closer to Bruce and Thor and even Loki then before, and he wasn't exactly standoffish with any of them before hand, well, except for Loki, by virtue of the fact that he hadn't been around, yet after the night they camped out in Thor's lounge, Tony came to a realisation, so, two days later, he called a meeting.
Because it's easier on Thor, he arranges for them to meet on the thirteenth floor, which has kind of become a home away from home for the team anyway, even if it's only a few floors difference from normal.
When everyone's together and sitting comfortably, Tony stands. “Okay, so, there's been this massive lack of decent action for a while,” he begins, rolling his eyes when Clint snorts and calls out 'Only in your bed!', “and I believe we should take advantage of this opportunity to have some fun.”
Steve looks wary, which Tony believes is totally and completely unjustified. It wasn't like Steve could get drunk, so it wasn't Tony's fault if all that alcohol had made him sick but not drunk.
“So, what? You're going to order some strippers then?” Clint teases.
Tony turns his nose up and holds a hand over his heart, going for over dramatics rather that laughing. “Actually,” he says in a falsetto snobbish voice, “I was thinking about going to the beach.”
There's a hum of interest, and Tony continues. “Why don't we all relocate to my Malibu mansion – which by the way has had some awesome security upgrades – and take advantage of the sunny weather and balmy days and have ourselves a little beach party?”
“I knew there would be a party in there somewhere,” Clint smirks.
“Wouldn't that be dangerous for Loki? I mean, you know what the public is going to be like,” Bruce frowns.
“I said 'little' beach party, as in, just for us...and Agent Coulson...maybe,” Tony clarifies, winking.
“I'm in,” Natasha says.
“I'll go. Someone needs to keep an eyes on you,” Steve sighs.
Clint shrugs. “Sure, why not.”
“Thor?” Tony calls out, leaning forward and waving a hand in front of the God's face.
“Will my brother be safe?” Thor asks.
“Well, the security has just had a massive upgrade, so to be honest, it's probably safer than here,” Tony admits.
Thor nods. “Very well, we will join you.”
“Perfect,” Tony grins gleefully.
The only real difference about staying at the Malibu property is the fact that they all live on two floors between them all (insofar as sleeping arrangements go). The top floor is a recreational area, and the floor below that is Tony's personal floor, but he's turned the floor below that into a kind of hideaway home for the rest of the team.
It's obvious that there have been some last minute additions thanks to Loki's unexpected arrival, but otherwise each room is perfect and themed according to the occupants' needs and preferences.
Even though it's mid-afternoon when they arrive at the property, driven there in a limo so large it seems excessive even for Tony, they immediately head for their rooms, as directed by JARVIS. However it's not very long until they all end up in the ground floor bar/lounge area that opens up to the beautiful view of the ocean.
“Okay peeps, now that we're all here, I want to reassure you that we'll have as much privacy as you could possibly want,” Tony informs them smugly.
“Oh?” Natasha looks sceptical.
“Yep, I've had state-of-the-art-according-to-me security installed, which includes, but is not limited to, an electrical boundary around the property,” Tony's grinning and his eyes are gleaming, which makes Steve shiver.
“You mean like a forcefield?” Clint's disbelieving face is firmly on.
Tony snorts. “No, don't be ridiculous. It's an invisible net surrounding the property a mile out in every direction. As soon as someone passes over the boundary line, I'll know.”
“And that's not ridiculous?” Clint raises his eyebrows and shakes his head.
“Of course not,” Tony adds, indignant, “it's a perfectly viable way of...” he trails off as Bruce starts snickering.
“What about the staff?” Natasha asks.
“They'll come between eleven and twelve every morning to do a quick tidy and to refill and do whatever it it the staff do, other than that, we're totally on our own,” Tony beams a wide smile at them all.
“Can we...” Steve starts and then stops, looking embarrassed.
“Yes, Cap?” Tony prods.
“Um, maybe have...a bar-be-que? I haven't had one since...since...” he trails off, blushing a faint pink across his cheeks and the tips of his ears.
“Sure,” Tony shrugs. “Who's up for a barbecue?”
An array of hands and arms are suddenly raised.
“Need any help?” Bruce offers as Thor slathers suntan lotion across Loki's body. Tony had provided both Gods with suitable swimming trunks, and Thor hoped that maybe the sun, or the water might help Loki.
“If you will start on my brother's legs, I would be very happy,” Thor replies, handing over the suntan lotion spray with slippery fingers.
It only takes a few minutes to finish covering every bare square inch of Loki's alabaster white skin in the lotion, but by then everyone has relocated into the water, so Thor veers off to the side, away from everyone else and their flashy splashing and enters the water carefully with Loki in his arms. Loki's braid gets wet first before Thor lays Loki in the water, and he's happy to discover that Loki does in fact float, which makes it easier for Thor to manipulate his limbs into a comfortable position for them both.
“Does Loki normally like water?” Bruce asks curiously, having followed Thor.
Thor smiles, a bit sadly. “Aye. He has always felt a kind of affinity to water and ice and snow and rain. I believe it has to do with his Jotun heritage.”
“Have you not come across any mention of his heritage in his journal entries?”
“I...well, a few times, but I don't really know what that means. I mean, what is a Jotun?”
Thor frowns. “If you had asked me that a mere handful of years earlier, I would have said they were a race of monstrous beings who all needed to be slain for the good of all the realms...now though,” he sighs, looking down at Loki, sorrow filling his eyes, “now I would say that they are a very fierce, dangerous people, who understand the subtleties of both force, and finesse. It is unfortunate, but I do not know much else about them, other than they are very big, fifteen feet tall is the average height for them, and they have vivid blue skin, marked with the history of their line, and eyes so red they are akin to fresh blood.”
”And you say Loki is a Jotun?” Bruce asks. At Thor’s nod, Bruce continues, “Then how come he looks human? I mean, Asgardian?”
Thor sighs deeply. “My father, nay, Odin told me that when he found Loki, he was a babe abandoned to die in a Jotun temple, and when he picked my brother up, the blue bled from his skin, and the red bled from his eyes, and moments later, Odin held in his hands a green-eyed, black-haired Æsir baby. I do not believe that he knew how it happened, other than supposing that Loki is a natural shape-shifter.”
“I remember you saying something about that before,” Bruce mused.
“Aye. My brother has oft delighted in multiple forms. It it sad however that he never knew his normal form was also a shape-shift,” Thor says mournfully. “Perhaps if he was aware of his heritage, he would not have felt so betrayed and deceived.”
“What happened?” he asks, knowing only the very bare bones of the story.
“That, my friend is a long story.”
“I have time.”
In which we see things from Steve's point of view, and someone kidnaps Loki...
Gender Neutral pronouns: Zhe – He/She, Hir – Him/Her.
Norse – English: Kamphundr - Carrion Eater.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ sёvєйтєёйOº°‘¨
People always seem to think that Steve feels out of time and out of place in the future, and maybe he did at first – okay, yeah, he did feel a bit discombobulated in the beginning – but people adapt. He adapted. The future isn't all that different. There's more technology and he has trouble wrapping his head around things like the World Wide Web, finding it difficult to imagine the way so many people all over the world can interact in seconds, but the people, the people are the same.
There are a lot of good points about the future. Steve likes his little hand sized phone that can play music and take pictures and will wake him up in the mornings, and although he sometimes forgets he needs to charge it, he only had a little bit of difficulty in the beginning trying to remember how it worked.
He likes the coffee makers, and the fridges that dispense ice whenever he wants, and he loves the jacuzzi in the hot tub of of the large shared bathroom that's not really a bathroom and is basically a big indoor tub room and sauna.
He likes being able to pay with a small plastic card, because it's so much simpler than adjusting to bills and the new value of small coins, and he's always afraid he's going to accidentally rip the paper bills with his extra strength.
He adores the television because there are so many incredible movies and television shows and he can watch things in other languages with subtitles that he would never have dreamed of being able to see as a child or teen or young man.
He loves the massive amount of music available. There are so many songs that he doesn't think he'll ever be able to listen to them all.
However, the best thing about the future is the people. Steve's found his niche, and even though it still hurts to think about the past and losing his friends, especially Bucky and Peggy, this shining new future with people like Bruce and Clint and Natasha and Thor and even Tony, whom he really didn't like at first, is wonderful.
Even though the future isn't a peaceful place, he knows that it's not much different from his own time. He's a soldier born and bred – even though others couldn't see that at first, thanks to his physical appearance – and he enjoys fighting to keep people safe. He's a born protector, and he'll die happy one day knowing he'd done everything he could to make the world safer.
Steve will die to keep his friends safe. He'll kill to keep them safe. He'll sacrifice his blood, sweat, tears, and heart to keep them safe, and he'll never, ever regret it. It's why this situation with Loki hurts so much. Steve knows what it's like to be the underdog, to be passed over, overlooked, jeered at, teased, tormented by others and by your own worries and doubts. He knows what it feels like to never measure up to other's standards, and how much worse it is to never match up to your own.
He knows what it's like to be used. To be made a fool of. To throw your all into something or for someone and be tossed aside like garbage, and above all, Steve knows what it's like to desperately need to find a place to fit, to need and desire a place that you know is right for you, is a real home. He knows what it's like to covet companionship, to long to be thought equal to someone, anyone, to have somebody see that you are worth something , and although he knows he could never fall as far as Loki did, he also knows he never suffered for as long, or as harshly as Loki did.
Steve's team is made up of damaged people, and yes, he includes Thor among them as one of his damaged people. Thor's damaged in a subtle way. He's had his eyes opened and Steve has had enough talks with him privately during his year on Earth whilst Loki was imprisoned in Asgard to know that Thor loathes the person he once was. He feels as though he took advantage of everyone, he feels like he was so overbearing and stubborn and blind that he overrode any of their personal feeling and any objections they may have had, even though Steve tried his best to argue otherwise.
Steve knows Thor feels as though he treated his brother unfairly for a very, very long time, and that he'd moulded the younger God into the creature of despair and hate and anger and bitterness and madness he'd eventually become, even though Thor is only one man, no, one person in a long line of people who wronged Loki, and Loki was never a complete innocent.
It's hard to see the people you care about in such pain, and Steve wants to help Thor, and Loki, but his team is made up of people who are full of dangerous, ragged, sharp edges, and sometimes Steve despairs at ever being able to help them heal.
He's trying his best though. He tries to reassure Bruce that he's wanted and needed and that both aspects of himself are accepted. For his mind as Bruce and his might as Hulk, and that they are equally needed and wanted, but it's slow going. With Clint, Steve tries to help him see he’s more than a mistake, that he's not just a soldier that's been used up and become nothing more than a liability. Steve sees more than people realise, and Clint sometimes forgets that he's just human and not responsible for everything that might go wrong under his watch, or even around him.
With Natasha, Steve tries to show her that he isn't afraid or contemptuous of her past. That he's not interested in using her body, or that she has to use her body for the team in any way other than to fight. Even though she's fierce and dangerous, Steve knows she feels lacking. She feels like she's the weak link in the team, and that one day they're going to think she's not worth having around.
Tony is hard to help, probably the hardest of them all. Tony is well aware of all his issues. He's cleverer than anyone else Steve has ever met, including Howard Stark, and Tony's a better man than his father ever was. It doesn't help that Steve still feels guilty about the animosity and contempt that he showed the other man, even though all he knew about Tony was from the reports and gossip in the files that perhaps shouldn't have been included, but Tony made too many enemies, even within SHIELD for his files to be completely impersonal, and now Steve would give anything to go back and start off their relationship differently, because he's discovered that Tony is a good man at heart, he just covers that goodness up with glitter and flash.
Steve wants Tony to know that he's honestly cared for, that this team of misfits actually like Tony, even when he exasperates them, and annoys them, and is arrogant and sarcastic and more than a little mad.
Loki though, that's the hard part of this mess.
Nearly two years ago, Steve would have happily killed Loki, like any other soldier would, in order to save the world. He would never have considered looking past the villain to the man beneath, and although he would have felt bad about causing Thor pain, he would have felt satisfaction about removing Loki as a threat, permanently.
Now, Steve is drowning in shades of grey. The world is no longer black and white, good and evil. Now there is a villain under his watch, under his protection, who turns out is a product of really crappy upbringing, and Steve doesn't know whether he's glad to see the world in more shades than two, or hate the way his entire world has been knocked on its axis.
Either way, Loki needs help. He's paid for his crimes and he deserves a chance for help, if not understanding. Steve has no intentions of redeeming Loki, because that would be a selfish goal, he just wants Loki to heal, because from what he's heard about him from Thor, Steve believes that underneath the raw anger and bitterness and despair and hatred and fierce, unwavering madness, there's a person who is no more good or evil than any other lost soul who's had a bad lot in life.
Steve knows he's no genius, but he understands people. He's no psychiatrist or psychologist or any other person trained to watch people and read them through their words and body language, but he has a keen instinct that has never let him down before.
So Steve will continue to silently offer his understanding and support to Clint, and offer his open no-strings-attached friendship to Natasha, and his lack of fear to Bruce, and his appreciation to Hulk, and his acceptance to Tony, and his assistance and protection to Thor and Loki and hope that it will be a good enough start to heal the fractures in everyone he so cares for.
Tony hasn't relocated everyone to his Malibu mansion on a whim. He knows that they think he did, that he woke up and decided 'Hey! Beach party!', but it's more than that.
Pepper has always liked Phil, and Tony's come to really appreciate the agent recently. He hadn't realised how much he liked the other man until they thought he was dead, and Tony still sometimes wakes up from a nightmare, seeing those bloody cards slide across the table, covered in Phil's blood, only it's not Fury who throws them down, it's Phil, and he's standing there, looking mournful, a gaping hole in his chest where his heart should be, asking 'Why didn't you help me?'.
Phil is loyal to SHIELD, but to him, SHIELD also includes the Avengers, so he has no problem subtly helping them when he feels the Council is acting suspicious. SHIELD knows Phil is more than friendly with Pepper, so him visiting her is no great surprise, and Pepper takes care of everything for Tony, so it's no surprises then that she's always in contact with him – and so in that way, messages are passed along.
The last one was worrying. Fury knows there are moles under his command, and it's getting harder and harder for him to flush them out without betraying the fact that he knows roughly where they are within SHIELD. So he confides in Phil about the leaked plans to kidnap Loki that have filtered through Fury's network, knowing that the message will reach Stark and the Avengers, and so it does.
Tony wasn't joking when he said the security at the Malibu mansion had been upgraded. It's now his most heavily fortified property. He chose it because it's one of his most isolated houses with a great swath of land around it, making it easy to add dangerous security upgrades to.
He hasn't told anyone, but he's taken inspiration form some of the enemies they'd fought, and he'd stolen quote a few mechanical pieces – not only from the invading Chitauri, but from every villain they'd since come across who had any kind of useful tech – and now he's finally created mechanochemical drones, no bigger than the size of a man's fist, and scattered them at regular intervals along the property line.
Each of is capable of sending out an electrical charge, like a taser, and contains sleeping gas with a few added extras. There's even a security measure in place, so if they are hit, they will explode with a concussive blast filled with a slow acting poison that only Tony and Phil and Pepper have the cure for.
That's only the beginning. The ground is filled with traps that will only activate if the property is breached from the outside, making the land safe until invaded by hostiles. There are cameras and traps in the trees, and some trees are fake photochemical hybrids that are filled with sedative darts and other fun toys.
Tony has done everything he can to make sure this place is as safe as it can possibly get, but he doesn't want to worry the others and Thor any more than he has to, so he'll give them a few days to settle before bringing up the situation.
At least they're safe here.
“He's not tanning,” Clint comments late afternoon when they all retire to the ground floor lounge.
There's a pause in the conversation as they all turn to Clint, who's watching Loki.
“Do you think it's like the deal with his nails and stuff?” Tony asks, honestly curious.
Bruce shrugs. “At least he hasn't been burning in the sun.”
“True,” Natasha says, lips quirking. “And with the way Thor's been lugging him around outside, we should count ourselves lucky.”
There's a round of laughter at that.
“I believe he enjoys the water,” Thor defends.
“Yeah, but you can't really tell either way, can you?” Steve asks.
“Well, at least you're getting better at braiding his hair,” Clint teases. “It must be because of all those baths you keep giving him to wash the salt off. Looks like you just needed some practice,” he chuckles.
“Pretty soon you'll be having sleepovers and be painting each others nails, right Tony? Bruce?” Natasha laughs. “Oh, wait, you already had the sleepover.”
Steve grins. “I'm sure Tony won't mind volunteering to have his nails painted,” he teases lightly, “after going around in a shiny metal suit, I'm sure painted nails won't be an issue.”
“Speak for yourself,” Tony snorts. “You're even more of a fashion disaster than I am.”
“Speaking of fashion disasters,” Natasha says suddenly, “what about Loki? I'm getting bored of seeing him in the same two recycled outfits.”
Thor frowns. He'd chosen two sets of his softest night clothes and swapped them daily, thanks to Tony's home help washing them every day. “He sleeps, what care he what he wears?”
“Oooh, our own human-sized doll,” Tony says cheerily, “think about the possibilities.”
“I'd rather not,” Bruce replies, deadpan.
“You have no imagination,” Tony accuses.
“Actually, I have a rather vivid imagination,” Bruce counters, “which is why I don't want to think about any possibilities you might think up.”
“He's got a point, your fashion sense is a bit...” Clint trails off.
“Superb? Outstanding? Gorgeous? Incredible? Trend-setting?” Tony grins widely.
“I would have said excessive,” Steve says dryly.
Thor just watches in bemusement as the argument continues. He doesn't like the speculative looks growing on Natasha, Tony and Clint's faces, and his hands creep steadily up to Loki's closest knee as though he's afraid he's going to blink and Loki's going to be stolen by them. He has the urge to grab his brother and run, and he can't quite pinpoint why.
Suddenly, Tony's phone beeps.
“Sir,” JARVIS says urgently, “there's been a ping against the boundary line in front of the driveway.”
Tony stands, going quiet, the others follow his lead, the laughter and teasing dying. He checks his phone, and sure enough, there's a grey dot just at the perimeter line before the gate.
“I am unable to obtain any readings, sir,” JARVIS replies worriedly.
“Damn, that's not good. What about visuals? Can you bring something up on the screen?”
“One moment sir,” JARVIS says, and the television flickers on.
There's a figure dressed in a dark grey cloak standing at the gate, one gloved hand pressed against the metal.
“Activate the intercom,” Tony orders.
“Intercom on, sir.”
“Please identify yourself,” Tony commands.
The voice that responds is hard to identify. It's low, and almost husky. “I am here to speak with Thor, of Asgard,” the figure states tonelessly.
Tony and the others frown.
“Identify yourself please,” Tony repeats more firmly.
“I am here to speak with Thor, of Asgard,” the figure repeats tonelessly.
Tony stares up at Thor, his brow furrowed. “It's your call, big guy.”
Thor's jaw clenches so tightly Tony thinks he can hear teeth grind together.
“Keep my brother safe, I shall speak with him.”
Steve claps Thor on the shoulder. “We'll keep him safe. You keep yourself safe.”
“If this is a trap...” Natasha starts, frowning.
“Well, there's nothing we can do right now,” Bruce says grimly.
Thor steps outside and raises his hammer, flying through the air and landing on the other side of the gate, beside the surprisingly short figure.
“JARVIS, turn the sound up and zoom in on both of them,” Tony commands, moving to sit beside Loki on the couch, one hand placed proprietorially around a thin, pale ankle.
The others follow his example, except for Steve who stands beside the patio doors,. Watching the skyline.
The rest of them watch the massive television screen as Thor steps up to the shorter figure, stopping a mere three feet away.
“I am Thor, Prince of Asgard,” he thunders. “Who art thou?”
“You are a fool, Thor, of Asgard,” zhe says coldly, disdain dripping from hir words.
Thor's countenance darkens. “Who art thou?”
“Heimdall's eyes see all, fool, and those who are unwary destroy all they seek to hide,” the other accuses, hir voice lowering.
Fear is a small, tight knot in his gut. “And thou? Art thou one who serves Odin?” Thor growls.
“Odin?” zhe snarls. “That unworthy kamphundr hold my loyalty?”
Thor startles, and takes a step back, eyes wide, gaping soundlessly. “What?” he chokes.
The cloaked figure crosses hir arms. “Do you believe you are safe? Son of Odin? Do you believe the Silvertongue is safe? Do you not know already of how far the Gatekeeper's gaze reaches?”
The figure snorts and one hand snakes under hir cloak to retrieve a round blue gem on a thin chain. “Take this,” zhe demands, holding it out.
“What is it?” Thor asks warily.
“It will hide you from the gatekeeper's sight. I have one for each of your friends.”
“How do I know this is not meant to bring harm to me and mine?”
“Take it, or do not, it is your choice,” the figures voice drops into the low octaves, a subsonic growl echoing through hir voice, “but take heed, should your foolishness lead to more suffering for the Silvertongue, I will gouge out your eyes and feed you your own entrails after I have carved your limbs from your body.”
Thor sneers. “And I am meant to believe you? A little posturing and anger and I am meant to simply obey?”
“Do you wish to keep the Silvertongue safe?”
“He is my brother, of course I do, that burden will not however, drain my wits from my body.”
“If I wished, I could steal the Silvertongue from you in less than a minute,” the figure states flatly.
Thor snorts. “You would not last two breaths against myself and my friends,” he boasts.
“Very well.” The figure shimmers, and vanishes from sight. One second later zhe shimmers back into sight, with Loki laying on the ground at hir feet. Thor makes an aborted lunge forward, hitting a blue forcefield, just as the gate intercom beeps and Steve shouts through saying, “Thor! He's gone! Loki vanished in front of us!”.
“What do you want?” Thor roars, Mjölnir raised.
“Wear the necklace. Hand one to each of your friends. I will return the Silvertongue once you have done so,” zhe says, vanishing from sight with Loki. On the floor is a pile of identical necklaces.
Thor cries out to the heavens, his anger desperate, and the sky blackens.
In which we get some answers, and we meet two of Loki's children.
Móðir = Mother.
Draugr = Ghost, Undead man.
Draugrson = Son of a Ghost (or of a dead man).
I have to admit to having a lot of trouble with this chapter. I wrote words and cut words and wrote some more words, and cut out even more words. I'm not terribly happy with it, but I hope it is not disappointing to you. I want to present you with good quality writing, but I'm afraid the quality might be slipping in my haste to write the story.
If you see any mistakes, please let me know.
As DhampyrX2 pointed out, I'd mentioned Hela in ch05. The hooded figure was originally going to be Jörmungand, but then I realised that when I shuffled the plot around for easier reading, I'd made a mistake, and so changed him to Hela, but I'd forgotten about writing in Hela's bit earlier. /facepalm
I've edited chapter five to remove the mention of Hela, you don't need to re-read it, just assume this is the first time Thor is meeting Hela or knows of her existance, please?
I have the most amazing, awesome readers ever. Just so you all know. --hugs--
BTW, in light of this mistake, I'm considering slowing down my writing/update speed so I have the time to double-check myself, because I'm pretty much running on sheer memory at the moment. =^.^=
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ єїgнтёєй Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
The room is crowded but not in an uncomfortable way.
From the outside, looking in, one would think they were dreaming. The structure is impossible and most definitely not built by human hands. It resembles a ship, but it hangs in the sky, and instead of sails, there are streams of silvery ribbons that are alive.
The room everyone is in is at the bow of the ship, and it's large, filled with glowing globes of lights floating in the ceiling. The floor is covered in cushions, at least three deep, every colour of the rainbow, and none of the floor can be seen.
Loki lays in the centre of the room on his back, naked. Around him are an array of people, all focused on one of their number, who is painting runes in glowing blue ink across the expanse of Loki's skin. Each rune flashes with white light and then sinks into the skin, leaving a pale blue image. When Loki's front is covered from head to toe, he's gently turned over and the process continues across his other side.
Once all the runes are finished, the occupants of the room line up and one by one they slice open their left palm and let the blood drip across Loki's back.
The blood does not drip. It pools together in the centre of Loki's back, and the individuals chant softly, speaking in a tongue unheard before by mortal ears. As their voices ebb and fall, the blood lightens until it becomes almost clear with the faintest shimmer of silver. They continue to chant, and the liquid moves, forming an intricate knot at the base of Loki's spine, before sinking in to Loki's skin.
When they are done, their palms have healed, and they turn their attention to hand washing Loki carefully, reverently, and then dressing him in a shimmering silver robe.
“Will this be enough, sister,” asks one.
“It must, brother.”
“We cannot keep him,” says another, mournfully, his hand gently carding through Loki's unbound black hair.
“Our plans are not complete, we will not be able to keep him safe,” says another, sadness filling her words.
“I want him to stay,” says the youngest, petulantly.
“Not until the Deceiver is defeated,” says another, voice grim.
There's an echoing sigh, and the occupants of the room huddle in close around Loki's sleeping form.
“Will our Silvertongue ever wake up?”
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
“I thought your security was perfect!”
“So did I! It's been tested!”
“Well it didn't work!”
“My brother has been taken!”
“How the hell did he move so fast!”
“I didn't even see anything!”
“Dammit!” Tony grabs his head with both hands. “JARVIS what the hell happened?”
“I have no available data,” JARVIS replies flatly.
“What do you mean you have no available data? You should have recorded something !”
“Regretfully, there was nothing to record.”
“Didn't you catch anything ?”
There's a pause. “The temperature dropped two degrees for a fraction of a second, sir.”
“Fuck! That's not enough.”
“Man of Iron, I would have us wear these gems,” Thor says, harsh and grim.
“No, no way,” Clint waves his hands. “Get Tony and Bruce to do their science mojo with them first. For all we know, this is some plan to get us out of action so we can't find Loki.”
Tony draws in a deep breath and exhales slowly. “Gimme them, Bruce, c'mon, we need to go analyse these.”
Bruce nods and follows Tony out of the room.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
The air is stilted, silent, as Tony and Bruce work. They have no need for words, being so in tune with each other. Slowly the others trickle downstairs to the lab, Thor first, looking wan and desolate, then Clint and Natasha, both wound tight and edgy, then, finally, Steve, who's face is pinched and through whose body strums nervous energy.
Six hours later, Tony sighs and drops his head into his hands.
“Inconclusive,” Bruce says softly.
“We just don't know enough about magic to identify the energy inside the gems,” Tony adds.
“So, what do we do?” Natasha asks.
Tony shrugs. “Wear them?”
“And if they kill us? Or take over our minds?” Clint asks sharply, eyes narrowing and lips thinning at the slight blue glow – so similar to the glow of Loki's sceptre – emanating from the centre of each blue gem. “What then?”
“Give one to me first,” Steve volunteers. “I'm a good medium. I'm stronger than a normal human, so if something goes wrong, maybe I'll be able to fight it off, and I'm weaker than Thor, so you guys won't have any problem subduing me if you need to.”
There are a round of looks cast between them, before Bruce's shoulders droop and Tony sighs.
Finally, after a minute of silence, Thor claps a hand on Steve's shoulder. “I thank thee for your offer. I shall not harm thee unduly, should the need arise.”
Steve nods and takes a necklace from Tony’s out-held hand. He stares at the gem on the thin gold chain for a moment, takes in a deep breath, then slips the chain over his head, allowing the gem to rest against the centre of his chest,.
A warm wave of energy encompasses him, and Steve sucks in a startled breath. Everyone tenses, but Steve waves them off. There's a slight tingling sensation under his skin, and then suddenly, everything stops, and Steve lets out a breath. All that's left is a faint sense of knowing inside him, a small, butterfly soft ripple of safetycomfortneedprotect that curls through him.
“So, are you still with us?” Clint asks, hands close to his gun on his hip.
Steve blinks. “Yeah. I think so.” He places a hand over the gem and grips it tight. “It feels...good,” he says finally.
“Good as in 'high' or good as in 'not evil'?” Natasha clarifies, her own hand resting on her gun at the small of her back.
“Not evil, most definitely not evil,” Steve smiles.
“Tony, check his eyes,” Clint demands.
Tony huffs a breath, but he's already collected everything he needs and he's waving a scanner in front of Steve's eyes. “They're blue, but it's all Steve in there.”
A sigh of relief echoes through the room.
“I will wear mine now,” Thor says lowly, muscles coiled like an over-wound spring.
“Don't you think we should wait, just in case there's a delayed effect?”
Thor shakes his head. “Nay. I wish for my brother back, and I will not waste more time.”
Bruce sighs but hands Thor a necklace. “What about the rest of us? Do we really want to take that risk?”
Thor pulls the necklace over his head and takes in a startled breath as the gem lands against his chest. His eyes go wide, and his mouth opens slightly as though a word is aborted before it can be formed.
“This...this magic. It is...it feels like Loki ,” he breathes out, visibly stunned.
“You mean Loki mojo'd these?” Tony asks, eyes wide.
Thor shakes his head. “Nay,” he breathes out, his hands cupping the small gem protectively, “this is not my brother's work...the magic simply feels like his.”
“Anyone else confused?” Clint asks.
“Place the gems around your neck, I implore thee,” Thor pleads, eyes wide and puppyish.
Tony groans and covers his eyes. “Unfair man, totally unfair.”
Bruce takes one and shrugs. “Wish me luck,” he throws out, hanging the chain around his neck.
Steve and Thor can see as the magic thrums through Bruce. His eyes widen, and then soften, and his body completely relaxes.
“Oh...” he sucks in a startled breath. “That's...nice.”
“Oh well, might as well take a chance,” Tony grabs a necklace and throws it over his own head, gasping as the magic hits him and rolls through him. “Wow! That's better than sex...almost.”
Natasha takes one of the last two necklaces and stares at it intently. “Here goes nothing,” she says, lips pursing as she slips the chain over her head. Her eyes slip shut and she breathes out heavily, tension slipping from her body. “Ohhh,” she whispers.
Clint swallows nervously. “I can't say I'm happy about this,” he bites out, but he takes the last necklace and drops it over his head in a series of quick, jerky movements. The magic hits him and washes through his body, and suddenly, everything seems wonderful, not in a bad way, more in a sense of knowing you can take whatever comes and roll with it, control it, cope with it calmly and confidently.
“I think we should be worried about feeling so good,” Bruce says, a small smile hovering over his lips, “but I really don't care.”
Steve laughs. “I feel like I've just woken up from a long sleep.”
“Now what do we do?” Natasha asks, her own face looking softer and more open than Clint has ever seen.
“You could come join us upstairs,” says a new voice, and they spin to face the intruder warily.
The man...no, teenager, is blond-haired and blue-eyed, and looks almost like a younger Thor, except his bone structure is delicate and sharp and exactly like Loki's.
“Who art thou?” Thor asks, slipping into more familiar speech patterns.
“Well met, Uncle,” the youth greets, a sly smirk playing at the corners of his lips, and suddenly everyone can see the resemblance to Loki. “I am Vali Draugrson, son of the Silvertongue.”
Thor looks stunned. Tony is gaping, eyes wide, and even Bruce looks visibly surprised. Steve's eyebrows are somewhere near his forehead, Clint is staring with his jaw hanging low, and Natasha keeps blinking.
“Come upstairs, Uncle. We brought back the Silvertongue,” Vali smirks, slipping back up the stairs.
“JARVIS, why the hell didn't you inform me we had intruders?!” Tony demands.
“Intruders, sir? I have not picked up any life-signs other than you and your team.”
Tony pinches the bridge of his nose as Thor finally draws his wits back together and makes for the stairs, Steve, Clint and Natasha close on his tail.
“Dammit!” Tony huffs.
“Do you want to stay here and watch, or go up and join them?” Bruce asks, head cocking to the side.
“Up,” Tony says after sighing.
“Good, I didn't want you to be alone down here,” Bruce smiles.
They're slower up the stairs than the others, more cautious too, but when they reach the top, there's no fighting, arguing or threats.
Loki is back on the couch, at the opposite end from end he was laying on previously before he was taken, his hair re-braided with small shiny things, and wearing a long silvery robe that's far too long and covers him from the neck down, draping over his hands and feet.
Thor is kneeling beside the couch, one hand resting on Loki's decorated hair, the other pressed against Loki's chest, against his heart. He looks relieved.
Standing at the end of the couch, beside Loki's head, is the cloaked figure. The youth who introduced himself as Vali is standing beside hir.
“It took you guys long enough to put the necklaces on,” he grouses.
“Speaking of which,” Steve starts, frowning, “why did you say we had to wear them before you'd bring Loki back – I mean, it's obvious you haven't hurt him.”
Vali snorts and crosses his arms. “Have you heard of Heimdall?”
There are a series of nods.
“Heimdall can see anyone who's not protected, and everything that happens around his targets. These necklaces,” Vali says, dipping into his own tunic top to reveal his own blue gem on a chain, “keep him from being able to home in on us. Every time he tries, his eyes will slip away to someone and something else. It means we are now safe to talk.”
“Talk then,” Thor commands, voice rumbling. He stands, staying beside Loki. “Tell me-”
“Wait, first! Tell me how the hell you broke through my security and stole Loki!” Tony demands, snapping furiously at the two. “Then, I want to know who else can come waltzing into my home and just...just...take what they want!”
Vali looks contrite. “My apologies. We did not realise you would be so...upset about the security.”
“Then answer me.”
The cloaked figure holds hir hand up and the room quietens. “I used the blood-bond between the Silvertongue and I to recreate a sympathetic connection of need. It meant that firstly, I was summoned to him, secondly, I returned us to my original position, and thirdly, I reverse-summoned us back to Vali, through our blood-bond.”
“Okay, I'm lost,” Tony throws his hands up. “Thor? Help please?”
“I...am not good with magic. I do not quite understand what was done.” Thor pauses. “However, sympathetic magic can only be done with items similar enough to be sympathetic to each other magically...”
“Like a voodoo doll?” Bruce asks.
“Which means...you are also Loki's son?” Thor finishes.
Vali snickers. “Oh man, Hela, he's calling you a boy,” he says gleefully, making Thor frown.
“You are Loki's... daughter?”
Hela sighs and draws back her hood. Steve sucks in a startled breath and Clint curses in surprise. Natasha takes an aborted, startled step back, and Bruce just stares.
Thor is the most shocked. “You...are part Jotun?”
Hela scowls. She is a study in contrasts. One half of her body looks human enough. She has Loki's pale skin, vivid green eye, and long dark hair, but the other half of her body has deep blue skin covered in delicate Jotun markings, and both her hair and eye are a bright, crimson red.
“You know I must be,” she says flatly, waving a hand over Loki's head. There's a mask covering the bottom half of her face, and her voice is muffled and husky because of it.
“Who is your mother?” Thor asks.
“My Móðir is Angrboða, a Jotun shape-shifter.”
Thor frowns. “But Loki is Jotunborn too...so why are you...” he hesitates to say disfigured, but they all get the gist.
Hela frowns. “Thank your father ,” she growls.
Hela looks away, turning her focus to Loki.
“So, why did you take him? Why provide us with these necklaces? Why are you here?” Natasha fires questions suddenly, stepping forward.
“The Silvertongue was not safe here. Until you wore these necklaces Heimdall and Mimir would be able to see him and you all, and any secrets revealed would be betrayed to the Deceiver, Odin. As for why we are here...” Vali trails off.
“We heard about the punishment the Deceiver dealt to the Silvertongue. We were unable to infiltrate Asgard to rescue him, but we are certainly capable of keeping you all hidden whilst our plans come to fruition,” Hela continues, taking over seamlessly from Vali.
“Why are you calling Loki 'Silvertongue' when he's your dad? Can't you call him your father?” Steve asks.
Vali tenses and scowl, and Hela hunches her shoulders inwards.
“The Deceiver, Odin, lay upon us and our Móðir's a geis. We are unable to lay claim to the Silvertongue as family by his given name. We can only use titles,” Vali explains gruffly. “And we wouldn't have known that much if Narfi hadn't-”
“Hush Vali, we cannot give away all of our secrets,” Hela commands quietly.
Vali sighs, but doesn't disagree.
“So...you're both Loki's kids then,” Tony asks. “Aren't you both a bit...young?”
“We age slowly. I am many times older than yourself, Man of Iron ,” Vali says slyly.
“Yep, you're Loki's kid alright,” Tony rolls his eyes.
“Can you help my brother?” Thor asks, having stayed silent for a while, thinking.
Vali and Hela shake their heads.
“Nay, this affliction is beyond our ken. We have...informants in many realms, and they are all searching for a cure, however...we fear it is due to an enchantment of the Deceiver's going awry,” Hela explains grimly.
“However, we have laid our own enchantments, bound in blood and magic to our Silvertongue which should keep him safer than he was. At the very least, we will never lose where he is. We will be able to summon ourselves to him at any time,” Vali says in satisfaction.
“They will never be able to keep us from him,” Hela says softly, tears glittering in her eyes as she kneels and trails a hand over Loki's decorated hair.
“Aye, sister, they will never again be able to tear our family apart as they have before,” Vali soothes, eyes glittering as he lowers himself to the floor and draws the teen girl into a hug.
“Aye brother. We will kill them all, won't we.”
“Aye sister. All of them. We will paint the Realms with their blood for the harm they have caused.”
In which Loki introduces us, through his diary, to Angrboða, and the births of Hela, Fenrir and Jörmungand.
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ йїиєтєёй Oº°‘¨
=» ♥ «=
This is how the world goes: you have predators, and you have prey. You have the strong, and the weak, and no-one, absolutely no-one can tell which one you are until you're up against the wire, drowning under the weight of your desire to live, to survive.
This is the world with the veil stripped away. With the rose-tinted glasses shattered and broken and stepped on. This is the world, facing you head on, cutting you off at the knees and lifting you with wings.
(¯`*•¤° ¨‘°ºO☜☆☞Oº°‘¨ °¤•*´¯)
I am disturbed. I have been remembering many, many things, and I do not know how to cope with them. I am lost, and for once I wish I could depend upon another, but that is a foolish, childish fancy.
When I close my eyes and meditate, which I have not needed to do since I was a novice in the magical arts, I can feel the shattered parts of my mind come back together. I have false memories layered over the chasms of my real memories, and my real memories float through my mind randomly, disturbing me at the oddest times.
I have more children. More children that Odin stole from me.
I have long loved travelling to Nifelheim. I do not quite know why – no, I now understand my fascination with that cold, desolate, icy Realm, for it calls to my Jotun blood – but back then, I did not know why I so adored that land, for I had never been to Jotenheim until that fateful day with Thor, as it was forbidden.
Nifelheim sang to me. When I walked upon the ice and rock, I felt at peace. Lighter than ever, and refreshed.
It was there that I met my first wife. She was beautiful.
Her name was Angrboða, and she was the sweetest, kindest, more fiercely loyal and joyful woman I have ever met. She had hair like the darkest ruby wine, and eyes like the sweetest honey mead. Her skin was so pale you could see the snaking trails of blue veins, and she was tall, almost level with my height.
Angrboða loved Nifelheim. She would not tell me which Realm she hailed from, but instead countered that she had found her home in this barren, icy land, and she would never return to the land of her birth. She was a mystery to me, I admit, and I spent many long hours coaxing a small bite of truth from her lips to sustain me. She was an accomplished sorceress, and I spent many hours with her, discussing magical theory, conversation I have never been able to enjoy on Asgard.
I can not remember how many years I knew her, how often I snuck away to meet her, but eventually, unwittingly, I fell in love. It was hard. I had to split my time between her and Asgard, lest any found out about her existence, for I was a Prince, and she a nameless woman with no family ties.
Still, I adored her, and I lived for those days when I could see her.
The first time she became round with child I was overcome with emotion. I wanted to crow the news from the rooftops of Asgard's golden halls, but Angrboða warned against that folly.
When my daughter was close to being born, the truth of Angrboða heritage came to light. The child she carried was strong, the child of two powerful magic users, and the babe often released waves of uncontrolled, dangerous magic, strengthening the closer to the birth we got.
I did not know anything was amiss until Angrboða screamed and fell to the floor one quiet evening as we read together before a roaring fire in Angrboða's home. She curled up, clutching her stomach, tears falling down her cheeks, eyes wide with pain.
I threw my magic out to encompass her, and felt an answering push from her belly, and then, I feared. The child was undoing my magic, and Angrboða's magic, and as I tried to calm the child, Angrboða's image flickered, and a blue-skinned Jotun warrior lay before me, hir belly round and stretched.
I was shocked wordless.
The Jotun looked much like Angrboða, with the same, long red hair and face, except blue, with crimson eyes, and hir figure was completely androgynous.
“Loki...” zhe whispered, grabbing my hand, “the babe please, the babe.”
I was jolted back to myself, and quickly worked my magic to calm the babe, and encircle Angrboða's womb with a layer of my magic, gently coaxing the child inside hir to rest. As soon as the babe settled, Angrboða's skin rippled, and before me lay my dear lover again, with no trace of the Jotun beast.
“What art thou?” I asked, stumbling back from her.
Angrboða sighed and pulled herself back up to her seat. “I am Jotun-born,” she admitted, “and a natural shape-shifter. I am small for a Jotun, and I never felt welcome amongst my family or my race, so I left, and made my way here, to Nifelheim.”
“Why?” I asked, desperate to understand why a Jotun, a monster, would willingly take another form and be so...gentle. Angrboða had no trace of a Jotun's love of blood, or violence. She was peaceful, loving, happy, bright, everything a Jotun was not. “Why did you not tell me?”
Angrboða looked away from me, and I could see how pained she looked. It made my heart clench, but I needed to understand, to know. Was our love even real?
“I did not mean to trick you for so long,” she whispered, and it was hard to hear her over the crackling flames, so I moved closer. “I was so very lonely when I met you, and I always adopt this form when I must interact with others living here, and I did not want to lose you by admitting the truth of my heritage. I could not bear it.”
She talked, for a very long time, and I listened. She told me of her time growing up, about how the Jotun are both male and female in one body, and can choose which form to take, and yet those who choose to live as women are looked down upon, but Angrboða had always felt female, and her preference to stay in female form at all times besides the breeding cycles was frowned upon, as Jotunheim needed, wanted, its people to be the strongest they could be to rebuild their Realm and expand their army, and those who did not wish to train, and fight, and long for war were outcasts.
I walked the paths to my secret places and tried to reconcile what I knew of the Jotnar with what I knew to be the woman I loved, and I could not deny she was different, or that I loved her no matter what her birth race was, so I returned.
That was not the end of our problems.
Angrboða found it more and more difficult to keep her Æsir form during her pregnancy, and would often shift between her Æsir form and her Jotnar form whenever she tired. The babe inside sucked her magic dry, and I found myself funnelling much of my magic into the child in order to ease Angrboða's pain.
When the child was born, it was obvious that the magic had much of an effect on her, for she was born half Æsir and half Jotun. It was lucky that she held great magical potential, for until she could glamour herself, she would not be safe.
We named our little treasure Hela, and she was deeply, deeply loved by us both.
I found that there are no joys close to a loving family, and I began to spend more and more time with Angrboða and Hela, lessening the time I spent on Asgard by a third. It never seemed like enough, and Hela grew fast. When she was in her twenty-seventh year, and just beginning to flourish as more than a child, Angrboða once again found herself with child.
Unlike with Hela, Angrboða's magic weakened quickly, and oddly for one of the Jotun race, she began to feel the cold keenly. I went on many hunts, trapping and killing and skinning many of Nifelheim's monstrous wolves to bring back their pelts to keep her warm, as ordinary blankets seemed to do no good.
She ate a diet of fresh meat, for the child inside her seemed to have no love of fruits, vegetables or any cooked food, and we worried, for the babe devoured heat and magic and blood, and Angrboða became so weak she could not leave her bed for the last month of the pregnancy.
When the child was born, he was beautifully healthy, with a mop of reddish brown curls, and blue eyes, but that relief did not last long, for the child seems to be just as sensitive to cold as his mother did whilst she carried him, and we would often find him in his crib, having changed form into something more capable of surviving the harsh Nifelheim winters. His favourite form was that of the Nibel Wolf, and he lived on a diet of raw meat and milk mixed with honey until his seventh year.
We named him Fenrir, and as with Hela, we adored and loved him deeply.
It was unfortunate, but my lack of presence was noticed on Asgard, and for many years I found I could only slip away for a few days at a time, lest my relationship with Angrboða and our children was discovered. It was a hard, sad time, and when Angrboða fell pregnant again, I was not there until three years after she gave birth.
Odin had made demands of my time, and he sent Thor and I along with a large entourage to Alfheim, to renew the treaties they held with Asgard. It was meant to be a short trip, or so I thought, but I was informed just before we left that Asgard was facing war, and that the treaties had to be rewritten to enable Asgard to draw upon Alfheim's dangerously talented archers, who were Alfheim's main military presence.
I argued with Odin, asking why I was being sent on such a mission, and not he, but he said he had to deal with the treaties they held with Vanaheim, who have no love for Asgard. The explanation made sense, and I could not argue against going, not without giving a reason why, and I could not admit that I would not be able to leave Alfheim and sneak to see my family on Nifelheim whilst trapped in the Alfheim palace, thanks to their superior skills at warding permanent residences and their mastery at detecting magics.
By the time the treaties were settled, and I found myself able to return to Nifelheim, our third son Jörmungand was almost four years old. Things had not gone well for my dear Angrboða or my children. Angrboða had collapsed halfway during her pregnancy and spent the latter half in a coma as Hela tried to keep her alive and care for Fenrir.
It seemed as though my daughter had become quite the huntress, taking down monstrous creatures that grown men would have baulked from hunting. She had taken to feeding the meat of her kills shredded into paste, mixed with milk, to both Angrboða and Fenrir.
Hela was already making a name for herself on Nifelheim. She was being noticed, and that was dangerous. Even though she never left the house without a hood, or binding the lower half of her face, there would come a time when curiosity got the best of the people of Nifelheim.
However, I was nothing if not proud of Hela. She had successfully raised Fenrir and taken care of a comatose and pregnant Angrboða, and when the time came for Angrboða to give birth, Hela delivered the child, and when the coma persisted, Hela raised our third child alongside Fenrir, taking care of her brothers and mother at the same time as protecting and providing for them.
Our third son, whom Hela had named Jörmungand, could often be found in snake form, laying upon the stones of the hearth fire. He was apparently a very sickly baby, and he would sleep for days, even through his feedings, just like his mother.
Hela informed me that when he was born, he had my dark hair, and his mothers golden eyes, and that he was now reasonably healthy, besides the sleeping.
I could not leave my family alone after this, and so I stayed, teaching Hela everything I knew about surviving in Nifelheim's harsh embrace, and she matured into a fine, fierce woman, with great magic.
Fenrir spent most of his time in wolf form, and often accompanied Hela on her hunts. When in Æsir form, he could be found reading quietly, loving fanciful stories over his studies.
Jörmungand slept most of his life away, eating, sleeping and growing, until by his thirteenth year he was taller than me in his Æsir form, and as a serpent he was so large his coils encircled our house along the inside of the walls thrice over.
It was not a perfect life, as Angrboða still slept, her magic diminished greatly, but I was happy enough with my children, and we lived together, hunting and reading and playing with magic...until Odin came.
In which we hear some of Vali's history...
♥«´¨`•° Capturing Starlight °•´¨`»♥
¨‘°ºO cнapтёґ тшёйтуOº°‘¨
Day 327,011 – continued
When Odin came to Nifelheim, I was admittedly surprised. I had not thought he would have personally tracked me down. Now, I know better, but back then I thought perhaps he simply wanted to meet my family.
I was both right, and wrong.
After the first wave of shock passed, I invited him in to my home, to meet my children and my wife. He accepted, showing no sign of his true purpose. All three of my children were in their Æsir form, as we had only recently finished our evening meal, and we had been sharing a story before the fire, curled up together as I wove my magic into images in the air to amuse them.
“These are your offspring?” Odin asked.
I smiled and confirmed that all three were mine. I introduced them to him, Hela first, and I was pleased when he showed no sigh of horror or fear when gazing at her split form. Fenrir was next, and again, Odin merely accepted the introduction, and then thirdly, Jörmungand, and again Odin showed no negative reaction.
“And their other parent?” Odin questioned mildly.
I thought nothing of the way he phrased that question. I now know that because I had previously birthed Vali, there was a chance that I was the mother, and not the father of Hela, Fenrir or Jörmungand, but I did not pick up on the oddness of the query.
“Their mother sleeps,” I answered him sadly. “She has not woken up in many a year.”
Odin nodded. “I see,” is all he said.
Nervousness rippled through me, but I pushed it down, believing the nerves to be simply from introducing my family to Odin. I wish I had taken more care to pay attention to my instincts, but back then, I knew no better.
“I must speak with you alone, Loki,” Odin said, and I followed him back outside the house.
“Yes father?” I asked once we were alone.
“Why must you always cause me such grief?” he queried, his gaze averted from me.
I could not understand his question. “Father?”
“You should not be spawning creatures with such impunity,” he said, eyes hard and mouth sneering.
Odin lifted Gungnir, and the last thing I heard was his words, 'At least these ones may be of more use...' before the world ended.
I awoke in a cave on Nifelheim, with my clothes shredded and torn, and my father's cloak wrapped around me. I felt empty and pained, and my mind was groggy. There was a fire burning brightly in the centre of the cave, in a shallow put, and when I tried to sit up, Odin's large hands pushed me down.
“Rest,” he told me gently, “you have been ill used, and I fear you were close to death.”
I could not think properly, and I tried to speak through dry lips. “What happened, father?” I asked.
“Jotnar,” he informed me grimly, “had taken you. I have kept the news from the rest of Asgard, and when Heimdall found you, I came for you.”
I was relieved. “You rescued me alone?” I asked, stunned, but pleased.
“I wished to minimise your pain and embarrassment,” he offered lowly, lips quirking into a smile, “for I know how touchy you are about your brothers' performance as a warrior.”
“Oh,” I replied, cringing as I imagined Thor's face at besting me yet again. A thought occurred to me, and I voiced it carelessly. “Why can I not remember my kidnapping?”
Odin lay a hand on my shoulder and pulled me in close, his lips touching my hair. “I am very sorry Loki, but you have been missing for near a century. When I found you, you were in terrible condition, and it was only through my magic that you survived. I fear that the process of healing you has robbed you of your memories – but look on it as a blessing, for you will remember none of your torment.”
I considered his words, and at the time, I did feel grateful. “Thank you father, for your timely rescue,” I teased.
Odin laughed and hugged me. “Of course,” he said back lightly, “you are mine, do you think there will ever be a time when I do not come for you?”
At the time, that thought reassured me – now, I believe he keeps me here in this prison so I can never leave him, his vision, or his control. If I still had access to my magic, this would not be as big an issue, but now, all I can think about is my lost family and children. Did they survive? Did Odin murder them?
Why does Odin not come to me? Why has he kept me here for so long with no contact? Does he know that his spells are being drained from me along with his magic?
I dread to think of how many other lies I will uncover, how many times I shall remember events that Odin stole from me. How much more horror awaits me?
It's starting to get late, but they're all too focussed on each other and the new arrivals to retire.
“Why did you choose now to come? Why not earlier, like when Thor first brought Loki back to us?” Clint asks.
Vali shrugs. “Sorry, can't tell you.”
This same line of questioning has continued for a while now, and the Avengers are getting more and more frustrated. Both Vali and Hela have Loki's way with running circles around people verbally, but even after they gave up with that, they still manage to infuriate everyone by refusing to answer over half the questions, even when they're repeated.
“Why come at all then?”
Vali shrugs again. “Sorry, can't tell you.”
This continues for a little while longer, until...
“What can you tell us? Give us something!” Tony throws his hands into the air, exasperated and grumpy.
Vali and Hela exchange glances, and Hela shrugs.
“Do you remember Sága?” Vali questions Thor.
Thor frowns. “Aye.”
“Sága came to see me,” Vali started, drawing in a deep breath. “I have told you who I am, but you do not know of how I lived.”
“Aye, that is true,” Thor agreed.
“What you must know, is that I was raised on Vanaheim.”
Thor's brows raise in surprise. “Truly? But you must be at least sixteen centuries old!”
Vali nods. “Aye. I am the Silvertongue's eldest child. Odin took me to Vanaheim in secret, and gave me to the royal house as a 'Ward',” he sneered.
“Okay...so you went from one royal house to another, what's the big deal there?” Tony interjects.
“Sixteen centuries ago,” Thor heaves a sigh, looking pained, “Vanaheim and Asgard were on the verge of a multi-faced war. We heard that Vanaheim were allying with Muspelheim and Svartálfaheim, and father somehow managed to persuade them not to take any side, to remain neutral throughout whatever war may come.”
Vali nods. “Yeah. He did that by giving them me as a 'hostage',” he sneers. “Of course, they were quite willing to take a son of the royal house of Asgard as a hostage, believing that Odin truly cared for me, even though he did not, as part of the payment they received as a bribe to stay out of the war.”
“How the hell did he keep you a secret from the rest of Asgard if all of Vana-whatever knew about you?” Clint asks.
“Part of the deal was that only the Royal house would know of my heritage, everyone else was informed that I was the son of a lesser house, fallen on bad times. It happened often enough that my presence was not questioned.” Vali scowled. “Even I did not know of my own heritage until Sága came to me in secret, full of warnings and bad tidings.”
“That must have been rough,” Bruce says, frowning.
Vali snorts. “Yeah. That was just the tip of the iceberg. I found Hela and the rest of my siblings thanks to Sága's help, but...”
“It was not easy,” Hela continues.
“No, it wasn't,” Vali agrees.
“If you grew up on Vanaheim,” Natasha starts, watching both teens speculatively, “and Hela and the rest grew up on Nifelheim, how did you end up finding each other? Obviously this Sága person helped, but how did it happen?”
Again, Vali and Hela exchanged glances, seeming to have an entire conversation silently. After a moment or two, Hela sighed and waved for Vali to continue.
“Sága couldn't tell me much, thanks to the geis and enchantments laid upon me by Odin. Somehow he bound the magic and the geis to my blood, but Sága was sneaky. She taught me about sympathetic magic, although I was not very good at it at first, and she made sure to emphasise my need to learn blood magic. When she taught me as much as she could, she sent me to Vár.”
“Aye? She holds many of my vows,” Thor nods approvingly.
Vali huffs. “Yeah? I wish she didn't hold any of mine.”
Hela rolls her eyes.
“So, Vár informed me that blood was a kind of bond that could be manipulated, like a vow. It held many bindings, and could be used and twisted and manipulated, just like words. She also tricked me into letting her hold some of my vows,” Vali scowls. “Tricky interfering woman.”
Hela snickers. “You can only blame yourself for letting your guard down, brother.”
“Oh yeah, laugh it up. Just because you only let her hold two of your vows...”
“Willingly,” Hela smirks.
“Anyway,” Vali continues, raising his voice and sending a dark look Hela's way, who simply ignores him, “I eventually caught on to the fact that there was something special about my blood, and that it had something to do with needing to learn about sympathetic magic, and that the bond or a bond or the bond, whatever, was important. It took me some time and many experiments, but one day I accidentally made a map that showed me everything that was linked to me through my blood.”
“And it only took you twelve years,” Hela teased.
Vali ignores her. “I was confused at first, because I was trying to find a stone I had enchanted, using my blood, but lost somewhere in the palace, but instead of the stone, the map showed me blood trails leading off the edge of the map.”
“I thought Vanaheim and Nifelheim were different planets?” Steve says, confused. “How did you manage to use a map to show you well...another planet?”
“I didn't. I eventually managed to recreate my original mistake with a map of Vanaheim, but the blood trails always lead off the map, so I searched for maps of different worlds, but the magic did not work. Until I had the bright idea to cast the spell whilst on those worlds,” he smirks.
“So you found Hela then?”
Vali shakes his head. “Not even close, but that's a story for another time. Suffice it to say, I'm rather surprised at some of our relatives,” he says, lips curling at the sides in a way which reminds Thor of when Loki successfully carried out a devious prank as a child.
“How did you find your sister?” Thor asks instead, denying the shudder that that half-smile tried to draw forth from him as he remembered many days of itching powder in his shirts and unexplained cuts of fabric in the seat of his pants.
“One day I landed on Nifelheim, cast the spell, and discovered I had a bunch of family there. End of story.” Vali grins.
“Wait. What!” Tony protests. “You can't build up the tension and then end it there!”
Vali laughs. “The rest of this particular story is best told by Hela.”
“I'll tell it tomorrow,” she says. “I'm tired now. And hungry.”
“Okay,” Vali says. “So, we'll be back tomorrow, just one thing...” he trails off, all the humour and lightness draining from his face, leaving chips of ice in his eyes, almost literally. “If any harm comes to the Silvertongue whilst he's under your care, we'll kill you.” Vali finishes by grinning at them, a wide, deranged thing that makes him look more than half mad.
Hela simply nods along with him, and then, without any fanfare, they link hands and vanish without a sound or a trace of light.
“Okay, well, that was different,” Tony says, stretching. “Anyone else feel a bit shaky?”
Steve crosses his arms. “Considering what's happened today? Meeting Loki's kids after they kidnapped him and getting a – frankly worrying – story? I would be more worried if we all felt relaxed and at ease.”
“Thor, did you never meet Vali when you travelled to Vanaheim?” Natasha asks.
Thor shakes his head. “The royal grounds are well kept and patrolled. I always travelled the wilder parts of Vanaheim, meeting only with the Vanir I knew liked me, or whom Loki had not...uh...angered.”
“Did you have any idea that Odin used Loki's kid to bind a treaty?” Clint asks.
“I wish I did. I thought it strange that Vanaheim had so few demands of us, considering their position, but I simply thought Odin was a very wise King, and that of course he would be able to seal a treaty like that.” Thor admits, looking depressed.
Natasha pats Thor's shoulder. “Hey, not your fault. Odin's the culprit, right?”
Thor sighs. “Aye.”
“Right. I'm off to bed,” Tony says, looking around the room. “I'm taking my suit with me.”
Clint snorts. “I always sleep with my bow, arrows, and gun.”
Steve looks surprised. “Really?”
Clint nods. “Natasha too,” he says, pointing at her with his thumb.
Natasha shrugs. “Habit.”
Thor lifts Loki up into his arms. “I shall see you in the morning my friends,” he says quietly, looking a bit muddled, like he has so much to think about his brain has shut down until it can process the basic information.
Bruce stretches. “I'm off to bed too.”
“Yeah, we should all sleep, especially if Loki's kids are coming back tomorrow,” Steve muses.
“Oh, and JARVIS?” Tony calls as he walks down the hall.
“Remind me tomorrow to ask why those two don't show up on your systems, 'kay? I totally forgot, and now it's going to annoy me all night,” he grouses tiredly.
“Of course sir,” JARVIS responds.
“Okay, lights,” Tony says sleepily as he dumps off his clothes and crawls into bed, the case with his portable suit in it beside his bed.