Actions

Work Header

Godchild

Chapter Text

GODCHILD

-- PART ONE --

A wake of sorcery bleeds out along the battlefield, like water flowing over the edge of a glass. Its potency is a siren-song, luring Loki to it as a moth moves toward flame. On this occasion, it is not Loki’s misdeeds that have called the Avengers to action, though it is the achievement of a great sorcerer-- Loki has not felt a power that rivals his own in a long time.

The God of Mischief treads carefully as he follows the slipstream of magic down a narrow passageway between two brick buildings. He senses something close by, but faint and insignificant, a lesser creature, whatever it may be is not strong enough to be the fount of this magic signature. The Avengers are overhead on the rooftops, fighting some great beast that is surely just a distraction for the superhero team. They are not yet aware of his presence and Loki would like to keep it that way.

A soft whimpering attracts his attention back to the scene before him. Steam billows up from a storm drain, obscuring the end of the alley. As Loki peers through the vapors, Mjolnir comes into view, head on the ground, handle upturned towards him, a dark unyielding shape against the undulating white.

Surprise and a touch of something colder unfurl within him. Glancing skyward, he catches a glimpse of Iron Man between the gap of the buildings, whirling overhead in a streak of red. Loki knows Thor would not sideline his beloved weapon in the midst of battle, not unless he couldn’t summon the hammer, and so the question comes to his mind unbidden, What trouble has Thor aggravated that he is bereft of Mjolnir?

The whimpering grows into sobbing and Loki waves the steam away with a sweep of his arm to reveal a blond haired boy wandering across the cracked pavement. The child has a dazed look about him, his blue eyes wander unfocused, his face red and wet with tears. He’s wearing nothing but an oversized shirt which falls around him like a robe. In the January weather, he shivers visibly and Loki wonders where on earth this child could have come from, particularly dressed like this.

The child stumbles over Mjolnir and falls to the ground. Loki starts and not because the child is crying anew, but because Mjolnir shifted a small measure as the boy’s weight leaned against it. The hammer moves for no one save for the God of Thunder himself.

“Thor?” Loki questions and before he becomes fully aware of what he’s doing, Loki sweeps in, snatching the child into his arms. The boy is small, but his embrace is strong. An aura of magic stains him, a nerve ending raw shock of power dripping down his person like a thick coat of paint. Loki feels its awesome force bristling against his skin, and realizes it is ensnared deeply into the child with a barb-like hold.

Loki pulls back some and runs his fingers through the blond hair then cups his small face between his hands. Despite being red rimmed and tear filled, there’s no mistaking those blue eyes. This child is Thor.

“Thor, do you know me?” Loki asks. “Do you know who I am?”

Big eyes stare up at him and he shakes his head, a look of panic on his face.

“I am who you call brother,” Loki says.

“Loki?” he asks, his voice high and small with newfound juvenescence.

“Yes, that’s right,” Loki replies, and for some reason grateful that little Thor remembers him.

Anxiety still creases his tiny brow. There are questions there that are too profound for Thor to understand, let alone voice. He’s clearly in shock having been thrust into the mind and body of a child. Loki finds himself contemplating the unthinkable.

“Do not worry, little one,” Loki says. “I will take you home.”

Having Thor in his possession is a valuable asset, he reasons, a bartering chip against the Avengers. Perhaps he can even influence child Thor to follow his commands. That would really nettle his teammates. Furthermore, Loki cannot let sorcery like this slip through his fingers. Taking Thor with him would allow ample time to study the magic that has transformed him.

“Home to mother?” Thor asks him in a small voice, his eyes round and innocent. A stab of feeling twists loose inside of Loki. Standing vulnerable in his grasp, Thor’s little hands clutch his arms in absolute trust. It’s startling to think that his oafish brute of an older brother was ever this tiny and defenseless.

When he looks into the boy’s innocent face, a compulsion to shelter him from all the ills of the world grips him wholly. Where in all the nine realms this impulse comes from, he knows not. But before he can answer Thor, Iron Man is plummeting down from above. He lands with a loud clang and Thor clutches Loki’s arm, frightened.

In one quick motion, Loki snatches Thor up into his arms, holding the child protectively against his body as he stands to face the Avenger.

“Hiding behind a kindergartener? That’s low, even for you,” Stark says. “Put the kid down, Loki.” The Man of Iron will not engage him while Thor is in his grasp.

“No,” Loki says simply.

“He’s just a little kid!” Stark shouts. “He’s innocent. He has nothing to do with any of this.” Loki realizes that Stark does not yet know that the child in his arms is Thor and he holds his brother tighter.

“Your assumptions paint you the fool,” Loki sneers.

“Let him go,” Stark says. “Kidnapping is kind of a big deal on Earth.”

Loki laughs at him then and says, “You cannot steal what already belongs to you. This child is more mine than he will ever be yours.”

And he vanishes with the child in tow before Stark has time to process his words.

*****

Seated in a chair atop a stack of large books, Thor sits at Loki’s kitchen table eating a bowl of Cheerios, his legs swinging happily over the edge of his makeshift booster seat. He holds the spoon awkwardly in his little fist, opening his mouth wide to accommodate a gluttonous scoop of cereal. Milk dribbles down his chin back into the bowl as he shoves the spoonful into his mouth.

Loki catches a smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth, but he forces it down before it can crest and thinks, Curse you, Thor, and your damnable endearing nature...

A picture of nonchalance, Loki leans with his chin propped in his hand as if bored, but his gaze is unblinking and intent as he scrutinizes the child. For the hundredth time, his eyes sweep over his sun-gold hair, his face rounded with youth, his little arms propped up on the table, and marvels that Thor was ever this small. He certainly has no memory of it. Even in their early years, Thor had been a looming presence, one whose shadow had always cast over Loki.

It’s a little disorienting to see anyone sitting at his polished dark wood table, let alone Thor. His half-witted brother had never even suspected that Loki rented a small safe haven flat in New York, and Loki, for all his cleverness, had never thought Thor would be coming over to his little hideout. But this bothers him only slightly as compared to the larger problem of his older brother being de-aged by hundreds of years. Loki wagers he’s around five years old now, give or take a year.

By the Nine, five years old...

Simply from spending the better part of the evening with the boy, Loki understands, with absolute certainty now, that this little wisp of a thing really, truly is Thor, the mighty God of Thunder. Memories Loki didn’t know he still possesses resurrect themselves in his mind’s eye as he watches his brother from centuries past amble around his apartment.

What happened exactly, or why the fates put Loki in that alley before Tony Stark remains a mystery, but somewhere deep down, Loki is secretly glad. Of course he is. The chance to manipulate Thor and to study a kind of terran sorcery previously unknown to him all in one fell swoop is too great an opportunity to ignore.

The God of Mischief is teeming with questions, but little Thor can’t seem to answer any of them and gets upset when Loki pushes for information. What he has gleaned from him is that Thor has few memories and those are mostly vague impressions or feelings about things. He doesn’t remember much of Loki or Asgard and he certainly doesn’t remember the Avengers or how he came to be transformed.

The boy is unquestionably still in shock and Loki wonders to what extent Thor’s system has been traumatized by his magical alteration. With the pretense of brushing Thor’s hair from his face, Loki reaches out and brushes the blond strands back before dropping his fingers to a gentle perch along the back of his neck.

More than merely Thor’s divine nature purrs beneath his skin. There’s an inky coldness circulating through him, a lattice of dark sorcery that binds his brother to this childlike shape. An ancient curse, Loki realizes as his lips thin to a frown.

The hex is a mass of knots and winding threads that Loki quickly loses track of. A shock of cold runs up his fingers, like tiny mouths filled with sharp teeth biting along the veins in his arm. An uneasiness settles in his bones, for Loki has never before felt such evil within Thor.

Embers of wrath stir within him, rising up from some depth buried deep inside him. Someone dares to trifle with his golden brother, the crown prince of Asgard, the God of Thunder-- He’s at once shocked by this feeling and accepting of it. His is a possessive hatred. Thor is, and always will be, his and his alone to destroy.

Thor rolls his shoulders absently and Loki removes his hand. He watches as Thor pours himself a second helping of cereal, spilling more onto the table than into the bowl, and Loki can’t suppress the smirk that spreads across his face. Despite all that’s been done to him, the boy seems happy enough.

Loki finds himself in an interesting position. From the moment Thor was swept into his arms, the boy accepted Loki as his brother without question, trusted him readily and foolishly, which must mean that somewhere locked in this child Thor’s memories still exist.

He considers Thor for a moment. Suppose this magic cannot be unwound, suppose it has longevity and Thor stays in child-form, what will he do with him then? Will Loki risk taking Thor to Asgard for a second upbringing in the house of Odin? Will he abandon him on some Midgardian doorstep for mortals to raise?

Loki dismisses both of these notions. Enemy or not, Thor deserves better.

The idea that blooms in his mind is sudden and magnificent. The opportunity for an even greater revenge than he ever could have concocted on his own has presented itself to him. If he were to raise Thor as his own-- oh, how that would enrage Odin-- he could turn his firstborn child against him much the same way Odin had planned to use Loki against his heritage, he could correct all the arrogance and sense of righteousness in one fell swoop, mold Thor to his will in a way that a thousand years of battle never would. And the Avengers would lose their favorite plaything. It would be a slow burn, but how bright and everlasting the blaze would be.

Except, this is all fantasy, assuming that the magic binds Thor indefinitely, or that Loki cannot find a way to reverse it, or that there would come a time when he would not want the curse reversed. Of course he wants it reversed. Loki wants the glorious battle to the death with the God of Thunder that is his birthright.

But once he allows himself to envision a life with Thor as his charge, he cannot cast the thought out.

Thor yawns and pushes the bowl away. He looks as if he’s ready to put his head down on the table and sleep right there. He’s made quite a mess, spilled milk and Cheerios scattered across the polished surface, but Loki waves it away with little effort.

“It’s been a long day, hasn’t it, brother?” Loki asks. Thor nods through another yawn and lets Loki lift him up. Once again, he puts his little arms around Loki’s neck, his grip strong and trusting. It’s simply a guess that Thor is around five years old now, but Loki thinks that perhaps he’s younger than that, for he feels unbelievably small in Loki’s arms. Loki never realized what an impact Thor’s immense physical presence had on him until he was made significantly less physically intimidating.

“Come, let’s get you to bed,” Loki says and carries him into his bedroom.

Within minutes of Thor curling up in Loki’s bed, he’s out like a light. It’s a California King with eight hundred thread count Egyptian cotton sheets that Thor is currently drooling on, but Loki discovers he doesn’t care. The bed is so spacious and Thor is so small that Loki can’t even tell he’s there when he slides in the other end later that night.

*****

A small, pained noise startles Loki awake. Forgetting for an instant that he’s not alone, Loki shoots up in bed in a state of high alert until he sees Thor flailing in the sheets beside him, caught in the throes of a nightmare.

The space between them isn’t far, a distance Loki spans simply by leaning across the mattress. “Thor, wake up,” he says, placing a hand on his shoulder. Sweat plasters his blond hair to his forehead and Thor turns miserably away, still wrapped up in bad dreams.

Thor is his elder sibling, his sworn rival, the one he despises above all. Much hurt exists between them, years of haughty words, misunderstandings and outright violence. Yet, all this is forgotten while the child thrashes. Thor’s obvious torment yanks at Loki’s heartstrings and for the second time this day, he’s struck with the overwhelming urge to protect him.

“Thor,” Loki says again, drawing him up. The boy’s eyes snap open and he gasps in terror, launching himself at Loki. He feels Thor shaking against him and is once more surprised by the strength contained in such tiny limbs.

Letting some unknown instinct guide him, Loki hesitantly brings his arms up around his brother, holding him close.

“You’re alright,” Loki soothes. For once in their relationship, Loki realizes all of a sudden that he’s the pillar of strength, the one who must be steadfast and true and this thought wrenches something inside him that he doesn’t want to examine too closely.

“Do you want to tell me?” Loki asks, but Thor shakes his head. He decides not to push right now. Thor’s undergone quite a bit of stress today, too much for a child his age.

Loki lays back with Thor cradled to his chest, who fits easily within the span of his arms. His brother shifts, turning towards his body and nestles against him, a warm comforting weight at his side.

Loki listens as Thor’s breathing levels out to the even cadence of sleep and soon sleep finds him, too.

*****

When Loki rouses, sunlight from the undrawn blinds banding lines across his face, he finds Thor already awake, back on the opposite side of the bed, curled around a pillow. His blue eyes track him carefully, like a hunter stalking wild game. Thor isn’t exactly frightened, but he’s cautious-- he doesn’t bolt when Loki comes over to his side of the bed, but he does shrink back a little.

“Do you remember where you are?” Loki asks him and Thor nods obediently. “I suppose we should get you fed and into some clothes that fit you,” Loki says.

Thor doesn’t say anything, but he stares at Loki with his brow drawn in and his eyes wide open with unasked questions. He can see the gears turning as little Thor thinks and it is so like his Thor that Loki rolls his eyes and gives an impatient sigh.

“What is it?” Loki demands when it becomes apparent that Thor will remain silent and gawking unless pressed. Crossing his arms over his chest, Loki says, “Staring is impolite, Thor. If you have something to say, say it now or forget it.”

“You are Loki,” he says with uncertainty. “But... why are you big and I am not?”

Loki is sure that Thor had wondered this last night, but the boy had been too traumatized to speak it. “You’ve been spellcast upon,” Loki explains, keeping his answer simple. “You were just as big as I am until a sorcerer made you small again.”

“Why?” Thor asks. “Was I bad?”

“I don’t know why, but we’re going to find out,” Loki says. Giving Thor a considering glance, Loki sits next to him on the mattress and asks, “Why would you think it was because you were bad?”

Thor shrugs, but doesn’t look away from him. He’s already forgotten his question and has moved back to studying Loki. When Thor crawls up to him, staring intently, he is looking for something familiar to latch onto.

Thor touches his knee, reaches up to play at a strand of his dark hair, and then settles upon Loki’s eyes. He stares for a long time, so long that Loki would allow no one other than Thor this intimacy. His openness and his innate need to touch is very much like the older brother he knows and it makes Loki’s reserved demeanor soften a bit.

“You are Loki,” Thor says, with a relieved smile. “You got really big!”

Loki lets out an amused snort and says, “Yes, well. Brother, you grow up to be quite a mountain yourself.”

“As tall as you?” he asks.

“Taller, actually,” Loki says.

Thor grins, pleased by this.

“Come now, Thor,” Loki says, rising to his feet. “We have a lot of things to do today.”

“Are we going home? To Asgard?” Thor asks. “I want to see mother.”

Thor looks up at him innocently with no idea how such a simple request rankles him. He can’t be mad at him, Loki reminds himself. It’s not as if it’s some great insensitivity on Thor’s part or that his obtuse brother merely forgot that Loki is an outcast and hasn’t seen the only mother he’s ever known in years.

“No,” Loki says. “There are other things that require our attention.”

“But I want to go home,” Thor says, petulance creeping into his voice. “Father will know how to fix me.”

Loki holds in a scowl at the mention of Odin. There is much Thor does not know-- too much to be explained to him at the moment. “I’m afraid that’s not possible right now,” Loki says. “You will stay with me. I may be able to reverse the spell and change you back to your proper age.”

“You?” Thor questions, and his face brightens with true delight. “You know magic?”

This Thor is unspoiled by prejudice. He is too young to have been blemished by rumor or to understand the stigma against sorcerers in Asgardian society. To him, magic is wonderful, just as dragons are part of bedtime stories and Midgard nothing but a limb on the worlds tree.

With a flourish Loki produces a blue flame of light in his palm, simple hand magic, and lets the fire dance over his fingers before having it leap up and tickle Thor’s face. Thor giggles and his eyes shine with wonder. It has been a long time since Thor looked at him like that and an old ache awakens in him.

“I am a great sorcerer,” Loki explains. “And you are a great warrior.”

“Together, we must be unstoppable,” Thor says, grinning wide.

A tight smile pulls at his lips and all Loki can say is, “yes.” The we would be if... remains silent in his throat.

If Thor only knew to what purposes his warrior ways and Loki’s sorcery had been applied, what lengths they had gone through to punish each other. This child cannot fathom such a thing. It would be anathema to Thor that his beloved younger brother and he had grown up to become sworn enemies.

“I’m hungry,” Thor says at once, clutching the fabric of Loki’s pant leg as he hops down from the bed. His already short attention span has become even shorter with his newfound youth.

“Yes, let’s see what I have,” Loki replies quietly and follows Thor as he dashes through the bedroom doorway towards the kitchen.

*****

It’s been four days since Loki discovered his de-aged brother in an alleyway which is enough time for Loki to realize what a handful a five year old little boy is. Loki had thought there would be plenty of time to explore the sorcery that has ensnared Thor, but so far all he’s had time and energy for is a nightly check to see if the magic has become unstable or has changed in anyway.

Thor is only five, or thereabouts, and as a five year old Thor’s needs are considerable. Being the younger sibling and a prince besides, Loki never had to worry about taking care of Thor before, but now little Thor needs his meals prepared for him and sometimes requires assistance dressing and undressing and bathing and brushing his teeth and being told when to go to bed, not to mention the inexhaustible stream of questions that Thor has on just about everything.

While Thor seems to understand and can communicate in all-speak, little Thor only knows how to write his own name and cannot read any Midgardian books (not that Loki has any even remotely suitable for children lying around his apartment). There is neither a yard to run around in nor any children his own age to play with, and so Thor very quickly becomes bored, turning to Loki for his only source of amusement.

The little thunder god is constantly underfoot and when he’s not, Thor is getting into all his things, building forts from his furniture, climbing to the top and jumping off, smashing lamps and end tables upon landing, drawing over Loki’s carefully researched notes, spilling any liquid that he comes into contact with on his previously immaculate white carpeting and generally being unable to go unmonitored for longer than an hour without getting into something he most definitely should not be touching in Loki’s apartment.

There is also the added unpleasantness of Thor’s nightmares. The child has been plagued with bad dreams each night since his transformation. He wakes terrified and crying or else flails in misery until Loki can rouse him. The stress and loss of sleep do nothing to help either Thor or Loki adjust to the new situation they’ve landed in.

Thor needs regular attention and supervision and Loki finds himself unaccustomed to constant companionship. His patience, which he had always prided himself on possessing an inordinate amount of, runs thin.

Loki finally snaps at him from days of constant irritation, and seeing Thor’s honest face crumple with hurt brings him no enjoyment. Provoking his older brother used to be one of his favorite pursuits, but Loki realizes that he does not have the want to upset Thor the child.

Despite his quirks, Thor is a gorgeous child, both physically and in spirit, and Loki can understand why his brother was so spoiled by those around him, why everyone around him yearned to be in his favor. Thor takes delight and wonder in nearly everything, his enjoyment of life is profound and infectious, spreading like a delightful plague to those he touches, and Loki is not immune.

Loki finds himself gladly playing the fool, enjoying it even, if only to be rewarded with one of his brilliant smiles. It catches him completely by surprise that he should act this way, that this little child could influence him so. It is as if Loki has been spellcast upon in tandem with Thor.

“What have you done to me?” Loki whispers as he chases after Thor, trying to corral him for bathtime.

*****

Loki sits on the floor in front of the television, back pressed against the frame of the couch, legs outstretched before him as he looks over the only tome he has on hand about Midgardian magic. A few paces to his right, Thor plays with a newly purchased toy truck, wheeling it along the edge of the coffee table.

There’s a bulletin on the six o’clock news that catches his attention. Super Villain Loki Abducts Child says the news crawl at the bottom of the muted television screen. Loki’s gaze flits to Thor who is absorbed in building a structure out of blocks so that he can knock it over with his toy truck.

Loki doesn’t want him to see this, so he keeps the volume muted and turns the captions on. Video footage of himself holding Thor to his chest while trading remarks with Iron Man loops on the screen. The footage is obviously from a camera on the Iron Man suit itself. Unfortunately, Loki looks every inch the monstrous kidnapper that Stark has made him out to be. The only bit of luck is that Thor’s face is obscured as he clings to him, his head pressed into the crook of Loki’s neck.

The film cuts to Tony Stark in front of microphones imploring every citizen to be the eyes and ears of the Avengers, if they see anyone fitting their descriptions to report it immediately to the authorities.

“Well played, Stark,” Loki whispers as he watches Stark’s heartfelt plea to the general public.

The news report doesn’t reveal the identity of the kidnapped boy and with his face hidden it is unlikely that he will be recognized, though Loki is certain that a brilliant mind like Stark’s has figured out by now that the child in his arms is the absent God of Thunder.

The Avengers can’t very well admit that the child in question is Thor. Not only would that bring the criminals out of the woodwork, realizing their chance at wreaking havoc without the wrath of the Avengers’s most powerful lackey, it would also put Thor’s safety in jeopardy. Through his work with the Avengers, Thor has accrued quite a few enemies on Midgard and in his current state would present an irresistible target to those who would see him vanquished.

Loki decides that a change of scenery is in order.