“No resurrections this time.”
Loki opens his eyes and he is standing on the edge of a cliff, the moon hanging full and bright overhead. Two shadows move rapidly towards the Earth, and he steps aside just in time for one of them to come crashing at his feet. Very quickly he recognizes the form of a man as himself, only much younger. Thor- a younger version of his brother than he has seen in a long time- looms over him angrily.
“Augh! Ugh,” the younger Loki says, clutching at his sides. Thor looms over him, furious.
“Where is the Tesseract?”
The younger Loki tilts his head back and laughs. “I missed you too.”
“Do I look to be in a gaming mood?” Thor snarls. Loki rolls his eyes. Even after all these years, he still thinks that Thor was being a tad dramatic in this moment.
“Oh, you should thank me,” the younger Loki carries on as he begins to sit up, “With the Bifrost gone how much dark energy did the Allfather have to muster to conjure you here? Your precious Earth.” There is so much venom in his words. Loki’s heart aches as he remembers. Thor drops his hammer and goes to cling to the younger Loki.
“I thought you dead.”
“Did you mourn?”
Loki watches Thor. He’d never seen it before, so clouded with anger and pain as he was the last time he lived this moment, but Thor is trembling.
“We all did. Our father —”
“Your father,” the younger Loki hisses. Now Loki rolls his eyes at himself for being so melodramatic. The younger Loki pulls himself out of Thor’s grip and begins to walk down the hill. “He did tell you of my true parentage, did he not?”
“We were raised together,” Thor says. Loki watches again. He’d had his back to Thor the first time, and thought his words meaningless… but now he sees his brother’s face. Sees the way his mouth twists around the words like he is barely able to get them out. Thor looks and sounds as if he is about to cry. Loki watches with interest, his heart twisting in his chest. “We played together. We fought together. Do you remember none of that?”
“I remember a shadow, living in the shade of your greatness. I remember you tossing me into an abyss. I who was and should be king!”
“So you take the world I love as recompense for your imagined slights? No. The Earth is under my protection, Loki!”
Loki sees the expression shift on his younger self’s face. He knows that expression; he’s worn it time and again. He’s thought the thoughts that he knows he is thinking right now. That the world Thor loves is really the woman Thor loves, and how Loki was so jealous of that.
“Well yes,” the younger Loki says softly.
“Then you miss the truth of ruling, brother. Throne would suit you ill.”
“I’ve seen worlds you’ve never known about. I have grown, Odinson, in my exile! I have seen the true power of the Tesseract, and when I wield it—”
Thor grabs onto the younger Loki and pulls him in. “Who showed you this power? Who controls the would-be-king?”
Loki wants to grab ahold of his younger self and scream at him in that instant. Tell him! he thinks, but he knows that he will not. And he knows that right now, he should not. It’s not the time yet. But only…
“I am a king!”
“Not here. You give up the Tesseract; you give up this poisonous dream! You come home.” And on that last part, Thor’s voice sounds like it is going to break. Loki wishes he could wrap his brother in a warm blanket and feed him pop-tarts. Instead he watches from the shadows, already knowing how this chapter of the story is going to end.
“I don’t have it.”
Thor summons Mjolnir and holds it up at Loki’s chest; a not-so-subtle threat.
The younger Loki continues, “You need the Cube to bring me home but I’ve sent it off I know not where.”
“You listen well brother—”
Loki steps aside a moment before The IronMan jettisons across the sky and takes Thor off the edge of the cliff. His younger self barely holds back a laugh and says, “I’m listening?”
It is so funny to him, even after all these years, that Loki has to laugh. He chuckles softly and the younger Loki’s head whips to the side, searching for the source of the sound. Loki lifts the illusion that has kept him hidden, stepping out of the shadows and into full sight of his younger self.
“It would do you well if you did listen to him,” he says, in between the several seconds of shocked silence that he receives after his apparition. “Tell him who is controlling you. Put an end to all of this before it even begins.”
“Who are you?” The younger Loki hisses.
“I am you.”
The younger Loki sneers. “If you are, then you know that it’s impossible. The Other is too powerful for these mortals to fight, or even Thor.”
“They are not as powerful as the Allfather. Not yet.”
“Oh!” The younger Loki laughs. “Now I know you certainly aren’t who you say you are. I would never stoop to asking Odin to help me! I can handle it on my own. I am handling it!
“You selfish boy! Handling it on your own will get you killed! It will get Thor killed. Everyone you love will die.”
“You think I love him? I don’t care if that oaf dies,” the younger Loki says, but even as he says it he betrays himself by looking over the edge of the cliff where Thor fell. Loki rolls his eyes.
“I know you do, because I am you. I’ve stood where you are right now, breathed every breath, uttered every word. I know where this road leads and it is only towards pain. I am trying to stop it before it starts.”
The younger Loki regards his older self curiously, like he is trying to consider whether or not to believe him. After a moment or two, he makes his decision. He produces a dagger from thin air and quickly inserts it in Loki’s chest, just below his sternum. He sputters, shocked for just a moment before the pain registers. He cries out and yanks at the blade, glaring at his younger self as he begins to back away.
“You think that you can lie to the God of lies? I am not convinced by your tricks.”
Loki smiles around a mouthful of blood. It’s the second time in an hour that somebody has tried to murder him, and he doesn’t appreciate the attempt. “I don’t need to convince you now. Just stall you for long enough.”
The younger Loki hisses. “Long enough for what?”
Loki looks up and, on perfect cue, Captain America comes falling from the sky. Loki vanishes back into the shadows, using his Seidr to repair his wounds as he watches his younger self be carted back into the Avengers helicarrier. For all they were a pain in his ass back then, Loki must admit that these mortals are scrappy. Unseen, he follows himself and the Captain back on to the helicarrier and sits down across from Loki where he is handcuffed to the ship wall. When they’ve taken off and are well on their way again, Loki reappears to only himself and offers his younger self a slick smile.
“By the end of this, you and I are going to be best friends.”
Loki glares, “I hate you,” he hisses.
Captain America whistles, “Woah! Now what did I ever do to deserve that?”