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Peering Through a Telescope

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Loki was silent when he was thrown into the cell.

The chains that bound him are torn off and Loki settled, eyes closed against the back of his cot. He heard the thuds of the guards as they left, and he felt the bed against his back, and he laid down.

He might as well get comfortable. This was his life. From now until he died. Truly, he wished Odin’s axe had fallen upon his neck – that would be easier than this. This half life, this pantomime, he wasn’t… he wanted it to be done. Done and over with. Either dead or alive, not... stuck waiting for it. 

Slowly, slowly he felt the affects of the cuffs wear off. The gradual return of magic to his fingers, the stifling power of the cell, he felt it reach inside and smother his magic.

Not all of it. Never all. But most. Enough that he knew he’d stand a fool’s chance of doing anything outside these walls.

Fun.

Hours later, his mind is spinning, falling back on itself, and he tries to keep his head above water. It’s almost funny that he would go mad with boredom of all things. The entire affair with Jotenheim wouldn’t do it, the fall between worlds wouldn’t do it, (Thanos wou-), and yet. Four walls.

Four Norns-damned walls would be what cast his sanity into freefall. How very ironic.

I wonder what the Norns are.

Loki tensed. He was well trained enough, versed well enough in the art of mind manipulation (don’t think about it, shove it under) to know the thought was foreign.

Please tell me I’m imagining things. The voice said back.

Who in the Nine Realms are you?

Dammit. I guess I’m just the unluckiest guy on the face of the planet right now.

Loki ignored the well of caution rising in his belly, and replied back That is hardly a name.

There was a pause for a few seconds You know what? I don’t think Imma tell you.

Loki sighed, before titling his head back and began erecting a mental shield. It had to be him. It always had to be him that dealt with this.

His magic was still slow, sluggish. He didn’t have his knives, his horns, they didn’t even give him some books.

You deserve it.

Loki was not going to respond.

Nice self control you got there.

Loki squeezed his palms against his eyes.

Come on, don’t do that, you don’t wanna blind yourse- actually go right ahead. That’ll be nice. Threat well and truly eliminated.

Why. Why are you torturing me like this?

Vengeance baby. You crawled inside my head, so now guess who’s messing in yours.

Loki focused. He focused on the shield that was right there, and slowly, slowly brought it up until his mind was covered. He allowed the silence to sit in the cell for a while longer.


 

Loki was bored.

Mind numbingly bored. He had started by painting the room with illusions, but something in it had soured over time, and well. He returned to staring outside his cell wall. Fun times.

Every now and then, a stray thought would break through – a woman’s staticky voice, white walls, a unoffensive male voice, and a blurry redhead.  He blocked it. He swore he would be uninterested in the beginning, but now, the boredom might break him. He wouldn’t look, he wouldn’t look, he wouldn’t look…

His resolve broke almost as soon as he gathered it. He sighed, before lifting the barrier. A stream of consciousness entered his mind again.

No, Grant, you moron, if I was a traitor, I woulda run. And you wouldna found me. Ever.

Who’s Grant.

Loki feels a twinge of something burn through the link. A man blossoms across an almost second pair of eyes, and he doesn’t know where it is coming from.

Could you not right now? Call me back in twenty minutes, pick up after the tone, etc. etc. The voice was hard, sarcastic.

I have no clue what you mean.

Of course, you wouldn’t. He replied, disgust coating his tone Aliens.

You know who I am?

I heard your whinging earlier. About someone maybe in your head. Serves you right, really.

Loki thought for a minute. He placed the style of speaking, the anger, the brief images. The line about messing around in one’s head. The logo on the other man’s shirt.

Barton.

Got it in one. Now, leave.

But you were rather averse to the idea earlier. Loki answered, almost innocently Why so recalcitrant now?

Cause I’m working. Yes Grant, I space out a bit. I had, have, a so-called god in my head. Please just shut up.

Impatient much? Loki feels Barton trying desperately to ignore him. Perhaps propose where he might stick his line of questioning. I’m sure that would pass splendidly. Pause. Come on, you could give me an answer. If you think about it carefully, I’m really doing you a favour. I could hardly be worse company than Mr. Grant here, though I’m certain you will disagree.

Silence again. Loki was just about to send another thought, before he felt a ripple across his. I’ll strike you a deal. If you leave me be right now, I will be willing talk to you later. When I’m free.

You presume I want your company. Loki allows his mental voice to drawl.

Am I wrong?

Silence. Fine.

Great. Now gimme a few minutes.

Loki pulled the shield up.

 


 

Loki dropped the shield later.

Why are you in a prison?

He could hear Clint not-thinking. In fairness, he was not-thinking pretty well. Loki kept running into images of a white empty room.

You made a deal. Don’t renege now, or when you need me to not be hanging out here, I will be.

Something rippled through Loki. He couldn’t quite make out what it was – anger, fear and hatred were adjacent, but he couldn’t quite pin It down Well, when you mind whammied me, they had to make sure that I hadn’t turned traitor. Or was still under your control, or whatever they thought might have happened.

Ah. Loki wondered briefly if he should apologize. The thought flitted away almost as soon as it entered his mind.

Thanks a ton for that by a way! He felt the tone harden to almost a point.

Will you tell them that I am, indeed still in your head? Loki sat back, before coking his head to the side. The guards were still watching him suspiciously, as if he could do anything.

D’you think I’m an idiot? Of course not.

Loki paused. He… didn’t understand. Why not tell them? How else are you going to get me out?

Clint send a wave of something – shock maybe, or confusion – and started more subdued. Here we don’t know much about magic. There’s jack that they could do if they knew, and well. They’d have to end the risk. I wouldn’t… I would either have an accident, or Tasha would break me outta here, and we’d run. It wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for certain.

Loki paused. He turned over that fact, that the archer distrusted the agency he worked for, and tucked it away somewhere where he could reach for it later.

Why don’t you tell someone?

A stray thought rose up, and Loki crushed it. He carefully replied. Just because you told me, doesn’t mean that I am under any obligation to tell you anything.

Suit yourself. D’you know anyway of getting me out? There was a half second pause before he continued Or yourself out. Or really, just stop this whole thing.

No. This was done with the mind stone. I am… I have very little power next to that.

Does that hurt to admit?

Loki, very carefully, did not think in his direction.

Fine, fine, dude. Do what you want.

Loki hesitated. There might be a way.

Well, then why didn’t you start with that?

It could take years to complete. Loki keeps his tone blunt, and he feels Barton flinch.

Well then, he says waspishly Do it.

You trust me.

I want you out. He can feel the irritation dancing down the link I don’t care how you do it.

Fine, fine. But it’ll be painful. And it won’t shut off immediately, rather it’ll slowly erode the bond until I can maybe snap it.

Huh. Cool. Do it.

Fine. Loki couldn’t chant out loud. He wouldn’t let the guards tell Odin and Frigga about their insane not-son. Rather… maybe he could have an illusion say it? And if the illusion was far, far away…

He pushed. Clint screamed. His other self blinked owlishly for a few seconds, before casting the spell.

And then Loki decided to sleep.