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In the end, S.H.E.I.L.D refused to hand Loki over to the Asgardians. Immediately a rift was set in place between the two realms, but after Thor admitted that he wasn’t certain as to all of the risks in transporting an unwilling and powerful prisoner through the infant gate, there was simply no allowing it. Thor was angry, but the Allfather and his people behind him were infuriated. They demanded that, even as a violent political prisoner, Loki was still of the royal family of Asgard and was to be treated as such.

This left Nick Fury in quite the predicament. He only knew of one facility, with one single cell, that was both well-equipped enough to satisfy the demands of Odin and secure enough to keep Loki from escaping. And it was occupied. Cringing at the idea of his prisoner sharing a cell, but seeing no real alternative, Fury made the call.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Loki was waning. Beyond the numbness in his extremities and the unbearable tightness of the mask around his face, he could feel it in his soul. The fervor that had started his original attack against Jotunheim and had continued into his invasion of Midgard, was dead. He was loathe to admit it, but Loki Liesmith was truly beyond the point of caring and had entered into a currently unreached level of exhaustion. He could not be trusted and so the doors could not be opened for him to be fed. Should they have been opened and his hands uncuffed, he still doubted he’d have any success at removing this infernal mask on his own. Not to mention, the itching, stretching burn of the stitches keeping his lips together.

What was supposed to be an overabundance of caution to transport him from Midgard to the dungeons of the palace in Asgard had been rendered void when a very angry newspaper editor had gone on a literary rampage about his deportation for sentencing. Damn whoever was responsible for the Daily Bugle! The Midgardians were calling for his head, but at this point all they’d receive was the shriveled up husk that once housed one of the greatest sorcerers of this age. Another sting of hunger racked him, feeling strangely similar to the nausea of haven eaten far too much in a short period of time. He was unable to stifle the soft moan from deep in his throat, but apparently needn’t bother. He was too weak to make a sound and there was no one there to listen anyway. After the death of one, Agent Coulson, only automated units designed by the Man of Iron were authorized to guard him. They wouldn’t fall victim to his words and without use of his hands, daggers, staff, Loki was the picture of defeat.

Four days without food, he could handle. Not with his stunning wit still in place, admittedly, but he’d done nearly that once on accident in his youth, wandering the wilderness with Thor. But, Niflheim and the ice therein was hardly short of snow to be melted, water to keep them alive. Loki had not seen another living being since he was locked in another chamber that was probably designed to keep the green Jötnar, Hulk, in his place. The automatons designed by the Man of Iron hadn’t so much as beeped since they’d taken their posts and the camera above him hadn’t even bothered to swivel, no incessant red light to let him know there actually were other beings out there, watching him. No indication that anyone in the entire realm remembered he was alive.

Loki succumbed, for the first time since entering the cell, to the overwhelming emptiness.

A violent smack to the topside of his head, avoiding the unforgiving metal of his mask, brought him back.

“Ah! See, good as new!” A voice, one he’d never heard before called out. A stranger watched him closely, a knowing smile on his face. Loki was immediately ill at ease. “Just the same, I figured he would be.”

Loki made a feeble attempt to shove the man’s hand out of his hair, but he was held firmly in place. Had Loki the energy to feel much of anything, he’d have been disappointed to note the man’s Midgardian dress. He wasn’t to be rescued after all. He wore a pair of rimless glasses and a black turtleneck over a pair of simple grey slacks. He wasn’t physically fit, but his air of authority and confidence screamed warrior. Midgardian military, perhaps?

“Stand up,” the man stated. His voice was gentle, but carried a hint that indicated he was quite used to being obeyed.

Loki considered using his last bits of consciousness in an attempt to batter the man to death with the cuff around his hands, but was instead completely bewildered to find himself following orders.

The graying man let out a wheezing laugh. “There we go, now. Walk then.” Loki towered over him, but it hardly mattered. He found his feet moving of their own accord, he found himself completely unwilling to go against this man’s wishes.

His dehydrated body, however, was a force completely its own. He collapsed into the hands of two previously unnoticed guards. They were heavily armed with faces as green as the Jötnar Hulk, and Loki pushed away from them, reminded all too vividly, through the pain of starvation, of his last encounter with the monster.

He hit the floor hard, but was simply hauled back up again. Without resistance and without his armor, even Loki had to admit that he could hardly be considered an adversary, or even dangerous for that matter.

“Don’t worry about them, Loki,” the bespectacled man behind him called out. Loki suddenly found that he wasn’t concerned at all. “They’re highly trained in dealing with unruly subjects, but quite respectful to those respectful of them.”

His legs gave out completely. He was useless. He couldn’t fight, couldn’t even walk out the door now if they opened it for him. He was a god. He, simply, didn’t deserve this.

“Thank you for keeping him in such great condition for me, Agent Fury,” he heard behind him as Loki felt himself lifted onto a stretcher by the green men, whose hands, he noticed, were all of normal shades found within the realm of Midgard. His mind wandered, slowly, over what could possibly cause a green face and normal hands.

He glanced down the hallway now that he didn’t have to put any effort into remaining vertical. There in the hallway he was injected with a number of concoctions, the one-eyed Fury staring down at him.

“We had no intention of the mask being long-term. He was supposed to return to his home,” Fury stated simply. He sounded exhausted. Loki could relate.

“Well, his home did such a fine job raising him before releasing him on the world the first time, didn’t they?” The shorter man sniped. Loki couldn’t begrudge him that. “Regardless, he will be kept perfectly healthy and amenable in my facility.”

“I have to warn you, Colonel, this one’s a new breed,” Fury replied, suddenly seeming as fond of his conversation partner as Loki was. “It’s not gonna’ be easy.”

The colonel merely smirked, raising a brow in challenge as he glanced down at the prisoner suspended by his guards on the plastic stretcher just below hip height. It was the first time that Loki noticed the Man of Iron, sans suit, lingering in just down the hall, watching the proceedings. “Lieutenant Lyman, would you mind ridding our new resident of any potential weapons.”

“There’s no need for that, we’ve got his weapons and his mouth is-”

“Yes, sir,” the soldier ignored Fury’s call and immediately unlatched his hands. In seconds they were free, but Loki was far too weak at this point to really consider an attack. It would only render him unconscious.

“Hey-hey! What the hell do you think-” It was the Man of Iron’s first words of the whole event, but the colonel waved a hand at him dismissively, clearly not interested in his input. Loki watched with glazing eyes until he realized why it was that Stark felt the need to speak up. The soldier reached forward and was attempting to undo his mask. Loki, feeling quite renewed, focused his eyes on Stark, not bothering to hide his delight.

The soldier, clearly unfamiliar with the device, reached a hand around the back of Loki’s head to feel for a clasp, brushing a spot on the back of his neck. Loki's neck exploded in pain.

He attempted to hiss through his coverings, but was unable. A feeble whimper escaped him.

“See there, does he sound dangerous to you?” The colonel spoke condescendingly back to Stark.

“We only got the thing on him because he was in a black-out concussive stupor! You’ll be as good as freeing him if you—that,” Stark finished dully.

In the midst of Loki’s pain, he’d not noticed the complete removal of the mask or the soldier’s removal of a rather large, but clear, knife from his pocket. Loki was too busy trying to deduce the strange configuration of the opaque knife before him to realize that it was slicing through the crudely implemented stitches on his lips. Rough fingers pulled on the remains and despite the incredibly pain, Loki was thankful to simply be rid of them. Perhaps he was losing consciousness again.

It seemed like the most logical of ideas before Loki came to the realization that not only was his mouth free to cast, but his hands were free to serve as the situationally necessary conductors. Given his level of exhaustion, Loki decided it was completely necessary.

The prince of Asgard threw up his hands and his mouth was half-way through an incantation before his mind had even decided on the appropriate curse.

There was a flurry of movement. The Man of Iron and Fury hit the floor at astonishing speeds and the single automaton of Stark’s that was still in sight, swiveled in its place, to face them. But, the colonel’s men did not move and the colonel himself merely smiled.

“No, Loki,” he interrupted. “Put your hands down.”

And he did.

All was lost. His will to fight had left him during his period of starvation. His ability to fight had apparently abandoned him as well.

“Fuck,” he heard someone mutter.

Loki, longing for emotion of any sort, succumbed once again.

“I don’t know how you did it, Stryker, but that was damned impressive,” Fury admitted steadily. “Take him outta here.” He turned on his heel, swinging Stark around with him.

“What on Earth did they do to him?” Stark blurted, turning to attempt another glance down the hallway. “And where are they taking him? Thor’s gonna go nuts if he’s hurt.”

“A special serum of the colonel’s own design,” Fury explained tersely. “It keeps uncooperative people with special abilities under control. He’s taking him to a special facility where he won’t be able to hurt himself or anyone that matters.” Fury turned the corner, to enter the elevator, finished with the conversation, but Stark wasn’t having it.

“Wait, special abilities like the Captain or Thor? There are more like them?” Stark shoved himself into the elevator after the agent.

“A lot more, Stark,” Fury snapped, shoving the man out of his elevator. The doors closed before Stark could get out another word.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Loki slowly came back to consciousness. His mind was a bleary mess of thoughts.

“Ah, Colonel Stryker, this is new. What have you brought with you today?” The voice, clear, male, older. Loki didn’t recognize it. There was a blunt slam somewhere near him. He attempted to open his eyes, but was forced to squeeze them shut again.

“A dangerous, traumatized, psychopath. Your new cellmate,” the colonel’s cheery, smirking voice rang out.

“Lovely,” the voice replied, a bit deeper this time. “Where’s he to stay?”

“Another bed will be brought as soon as it can be made. Ah! He’s waking up already, tough as nails, this one,” his voice sounded menacing, maniacal.

Loki peaked his eyes open against the bright lights, slowly attempting to sit up. It didn’t matter. A hand inserted itself into his long hair and yanked him into a sitting position.

“Meet your new cell mate, Loki.” Loki gritted his teeth against the pain. Stryker’s other hand reached around to cradle his face roughly, facing him toward the old man in the chair across from him.

“Loki, this is to be your companion for the next indefinite number of decades, Erik Lehnsherr.”