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His hands are blue. He stares at them, and then the blue crawls up his arms, and he's gasping, he can't breathe, he is blue -

And Father is there, and Loki looks at him, and Father's expression is sad. "Oh, Loki, my son," he says. He is not angry. He spent his fury on Thor, it seems, and Loki breathes slowly, trying to keep the panic at bay.

"Loki, I have moments before the Sleep is on me," Father says quickly, but calmly. "Please, can you last until I awaken? We have much to discuss." His words are clipped, but his hand is warm on Loki's blue skin (blue, blue, monster) and the blue recedes. Loki watches it vanish, watches his skin pale.

"Yes, Father," he whispers.

Father smiles, murmurs, "Good boy," and collapses.

Loki catches him, eases him to the floor. He glances at the Casket then his hands (pink, peach, prince), takes a deep breath, and calls for the guards.


When Mother tells him he is Acting King because Thor is still banished, Loki shakes his head.

"I cannot, Mother, not now," he confesses, hands latched together to stop the trembling. "I am not fit."

Mother's eyes are gentle. "Are you sure, my son?"

Her son. Is he?

He meets her gaze. "I will wait until Father awakens, Mother," he says.

"Then I must depart and be regent in your father's stead." Mother kisses his forehead and strides from the room.

Loki looks back at Father.

His hands tremble.