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Revitalized in Frost’s Embrace

Chapter Text

 

The moment Lucifer’s blade pierced his body, Gabriel felt nothing. There was no slight twinge of pain like when he was stabbed by his fake blade, nor any of the phantom sensations he got when one of his many materialized clones met a bloody end. Only a vague hope passed through his mind that the Winchesters would appreciate the parting gift he left—he wanted to be remembered as having the last laugh, even in video form—before Gabriel ceased to exist.

The next time he woke, it was cold.

Gabriel blinked once, slowly, then several times as he tried to clear his vision. The blurry white expanse remained. Allowing his conscious to flood through the body he occupied, he outlined a round head connected to a plump midsection with four extremities attached at all the locations common to that of a human. His search concluded there; the body was hairless, a pattern of slightly raised lines drawn on the epidermis the only oddity he could find. It was a small vessel. A baby’s body.

A brief flash of panic bolted through Gabriel once he identified his new vessel as possibly one of his Father’s creations. It was a strict edict that all angels must seek permission and have it granted before possessing a child of Adam. The last one who attempted to do so without consent was an underling of Lucifer before the Fall: Adramelech. He was given the lower body of a peacock for his troubles.

Another, more in-depth search eased Gabriel’s worries. The soul that had previously resided in this body had already passed on, likely due to the freezing temperatures and exposure he’d noticed, but paid little attention to—his own powers would protect him from such an end. Gabriel felt a pang of sympathy in his grace for the infant’s death and paused in his thoughts for a moment to mourn. He sent no prayer of safe travels, though; Father only knew who could be listening.

A newborn had no place in weather like this void of the necessities for life, yet mortality rates for the young had always been high on Earth during most of its existence. Maybe he’d been sent back in time with his death, if not to another dimension. Gabriel didn’t expect to survive his encounter with his brother, and he knew he hadn’t. An archangel’s blade was one among a small list of objects and entities that could kill an archangel, ranking just below God and Death. Angels didn’t get a heaven when they were killed. He wasn’t supposed to be anywhere. Putting the useless impossible reality of his situation aside, Gabriel sent his grace, depleted, but thankfully still present, to explore his new body with renewed vigor, happy for any distraction. 

Despite the absence of a soul, which was usually proceeded by the body’s expiration, Gabriel sensed a magic keeping the physical alive, even after the conscious had departed. The magic, likely an inheritance from the child’s—in Gabriel’s most eloquent, humble opinion—shitty parents, was vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t quite place from which species it belonged to and, consequently, which species his vessel belonged to. A visual inspection it was, then.

With no small amount of effort, Gabriel convinced the weak muscles in his neck to move, causing his head to rotate slowly before flopping to the ground. His view shifted from the blurred white ceiling to a blurred white wall and down to an archway constructed of blurred white—oh, ice. He was in an edifice made of ice. Well, isn’t that perfect. A-plus parenting. Bitches, the lot of them, as Dean would say.

Tilting his head down, a dark blue pigmentation informed him that his new body was not that of a human’s, but a smurf’s. A very cute smurf devoid of the usual colossal snout native to the imaginary breed. I’m actually rather adorable. Who could leave this little thing to die? Its—oh. Jötunn Markings. Well, that explains it.

The Jötnar, a race of frost giants with a decidedly bad reputation throughout Norse mythology, were not viewed kindly by the rest of the realms due to their status as enemies in Asgard’s supremacy. He should know: for a time, many thought Gabriel one of them during his many millennia of hiding. With his new knowledge of the child’s parentage, Gabriel was not surprised by the boy’s abandonment. The body, though average, if not slightly large, for a human, would be seen as puny by the generally massive people. And although this could be excused with rigorous training, the markings of royalty spun over his vessel’s body would negate that chance. A weak Jötnar of the royal line—his death may have been a blessing, though Gabriel refused to view it as such. So much magical prospective still in its embryonic state, so much potential in all aspects stored away in a single life, now gone to waste. 

Gabriel was ripped away from his internal morals parley by the “thud, thud, clank, thud” of approaching footsteps. His eyes darted to the archway in time to see a man pass under them into the ice fortress. No, not a man: a warrior. One who didn’t walk so much as thunder into the pure white palace, breaking any sanctity it could have contained with his mere presence. His hulking frame was garbed in metallic battle armor that would probably be very shiny and pretty if it wasn’t drenched in blood and torn in a few places. 

Now this was Gabriel’s kind of guy. If only he were about six feet taller and two hundred pounds heavier, he’d get up and shake the man’s hand, marveling as he probably broke the archangel’s metacarpals before even realizing there was a jabbering insect in front of him. Then Gabriel would de-pants him in front of an assembly or stain all of his whites pink because the warrior reminded him of his brother, Michael. And Santa Claus; the beard was epic.   

“Monster,” the man rumbled, his glazed gaze looking down on the infant with a vacant bloodlust that set off at least half of Gabriel’s admittedly declining-with-age danger instincts. Just as he was dredging up his tired grace into a grand escape, featuring fireworks and at least one stink bomb, he took a second look at the man’s eyes. Sure, there was insanity present, as there often is in the heat of battle for soldiers with a lot to lose, but something else shined in their depths as well. Love and loyalty, fierce protectiveness, dedication—all the best traits of a man with a family. A father.

It had been so long since he’d had a family he could rely on—because you ran away from your last family—shut up—that the thought of having a fresh start and that love one day aimed at him stayed Gabriel’s actions. Instead, as the man’s sword began to rise above his little body, he redirected his grace to a less flashy purpose.

The sword above him stilled, along with the man as the baby’s skin melted before him from the  hated blue of his worst enemies to the peachy tint his own son had sported as the physicians laid him in his father’s arms for the first time, a weary Frigga smiling indulgently at her husband and newborn. Then the tiny beast began to gurgle quietly and reached his arms up towards Odin, beaconing for him to pick the babe up.

Several minutes passed with the man remaining stationary and Gabriel’s arms progressively getting weaker, though he dared not lower them; the thin appendages were his best defense right now without expending more of his exhausted grace. Eventually, Gabriel shoved down his battered pride and let out one final whine, breaking the man from his stupor.

Slowly, as if anticipating regretting every movement, his reached down to grant the pleading infant its wish. He paused just before touching the child, then, with a muttered oath Gabriel pointedly ignored with his new innocent ears, rapidly snatched him up and held him to his chest, holding his breath. When the baby blinked up at him in response and nodded in approval before wiggling farther into the crook of his arm, the man released a heavy sigh and turned gently, beginning his trek back to safety with unforeseen cargo. 

Gabriel’s new father was warm to the touch, and his thick arms cocooned the babe’s frail body in a heated embrace that had his eyes drooping within seconds. Dying took a lot out of an archangel—he deserved a rest, even if it was found in the arms of a stranger who’d tried to kill him.  

He’d figure out where the hell he’d been sent to tomorrow. 

Chapter Text

Loki. This family named him Loki. His inability to shake his past, and favorite, alias amused Gabriel with its sweet, sweet irony, and only by exercising great restraint did he keep himself from laughing outright as the elegant blond woman cooed his new name to him. Infants don’t laugh like drunken sailors laugh at masturbation jokes—they don’t laugh like Gabriel. Yet, he couldn’t hold back a chittering giggle and the wobbly thumbs up he shot at the old man. Good christening, pops.  

The adults saw the gesture and seemed confused. Eventually they settled on cooing even louder at their baby.

“He is precious, darling, he’ll fit right into our budding family.”

Why, thanks. I am precious, aren’t I? Go on.

“Aye, Frigga, and I believe Thor will take to him quite well once Loki has had a chance to accustom himself to his new, civilized home.”

Ouch. I’m pretty sure there was a burn in there somewhere.

“Oh hush now, I won’t have you speaking in such tongue to our children. They’re young; impressionable. If you feed their minds lies and hate, Heimdall help me, I’ll…”

Yeah, that’s right, don’t finish that sentence. Leave the man to wonder, ever in fear of the infinite threats you could have finished with.

Also in parallel to his old life, he wasn’t an only child; Gabriel had an older brother, with older being an exceedingly relative term, named Thor. And his adoptive parents, he deduced, must be Odin and Frigga. He would suspect his earlier suspicion of being dropped into the past to be true with this new revelation, except in his world there hadn’t actually been a Trickster god named Loki—he’d made the character up as a disguise when the entire Norse pantheon was beginning to develop. That led him to lean towards alternate dimension, but he would have to briefly check what was going on in Heaven to confirm either option, or disprove both. Gabriel hadn’t yet come up with a strategy for the latter.

Eventually, though it took hours and Gabriel dozed off a few time, his prodigious adorableness seemed to lose its novelty for the moment and Frigga allowed her husband to drag her away from the nursery. Finally alone, he closed his eyes and reached his mind out, careful not to brush up against any other angelic essence and alert them to his existence while he sought them out. Extending past Asgard, he scoured Earth for his brethren on the “angel radio”, as he’d heard Castiel call it, though he doubted the name originated from his young sibling, seeking some sign that would allow him to settle on a conclusion. He moved on to other vacant planets, out to the Milky Way, before he stopped, emptyhanded. The search proved less than satisfactory, and even a bit disturbing.      

After a brief battle with the sheets that caged him—Frigga had tucked the edges into the crease of the feather mattress, as though claustrophobia wasn’t a thing—, Gabriel proceeded to the room’s sole window, a small rhombus-shaped hole with a ledge that, once he climbed up onto it, offered a grand view of the kingdom filled with greens, golds, and reds. Gazing upwards didn’t necessarily help him commune with his heavenly family, but he usually found the swirling sky to be a tranquil backdrop when sending some of his grace to investigate. Sweeping through the realm was one thing, but if he was going to explore the heart of his Father’s domain, Gabriel was going to have to utilize extreme caution in order to avoid detection.   

In the spot where Heaven was unanimously housed in all walks of Christianity, where Gabriel had sent traces of his grace to breeze through its pure halls and clear paths for only the barest of a moment when the disconnect from his origins grew too weighted a burden, was a nothingness that spoke of no past, present, or future of prosperity—of anything. His broken, hateful, crazed birth family was gone, had never been here. He was a lot farther than just another dimension away.

Gabriel was alone.

Before this thought had a chance to resonate within him, Gabriel heard a soft squeak of flesh against marble just beyond his room. When the door opened a second later, Gabriel was laying under the covers of his prison once more, eyes closed and breathing as peaceful as a lamb’s before the slaughter.         

A breathy gasp and a stubby finger prodding at his forehead told Gabriel that Frigga and Odin hadn’t returned, but a new person demanded his attention. Rather juvenilely, in fact. It was likely Thor, the other relatively recent addition, though acquired through more savory, sanctioned methods. Gabriel kept his eyes closed and resolved to ignore the pest.

Stop poking me, ingrate.

To Gabriel’s surprise, the poking stopped.

“Greetings,” a young voice whispered above his head, not grating on Gabriel’s delicate ears as the loud voices of the older god and goddess’s had. “I’m your big brother, so I’m going to protect you, alright? I know you’re supposed to be sleeping—Mother says you need sleep to grow big and strong like I will, and you’re too small, so you’ll need that sleep—but I just wanted to let you know what you’re getting into. Father can be rather loud sometimes, but he puts meat on the table and warms the hearth of the home and the heart, as Mother says. And Mother…”

And so the boy prattled on for over an hour, weaving tales of future adventures the brothers would share and describing the onerous lessons on table manners and the like his mother was beginning to insist he take. It was long and childish and… fairly endearing. Cute. Therapeutic. Man, I feel like I’m working through so many childhood and adulthood issues listening to this guy.    

“… and once we’ve seen the nine worlds, we can deem them most worthy to the least, and revisit them in order of our ranking. Would that please you, brother?”

Now softened by the boy’s persistent chatter, Gabriel decided this warranted a response and opened his eyes, nodding his head a little. A shock of blonde hair and big blue eyes that widened in wonder when they met his own greeted Gabriel. He suddenly realized why he’d taken so comfortably to the young child; with the protective innocence, the mischievous undertones in his tales, and now those eyes—they were all reminiscent of Lucifer, before the jealousy and the Fall irreparably warped their relationship. Gabriel blinked once, and the image of his estranged brother fell away so that he was again looking at the still excited, benign boy-god babbling quietly.     

“Your eyes shine alive like the forests of Alfheim, green as dewed leaves in morning’s light.”

Why, what a poetic, well-versed young chap. How old it he, seven human years? I’ll have to see if I can’t whittled that down some, at least until I don’t hear the bards of old speaking through him. The doctor calls for slang to remedy this patient. 

Just then, the door to the nursery opened again—I’ll need to invest in a lock soon; they could walk in during some awkward moments—and the voice of Frigga spoke up out of Gabriel’s sight,

“Thor, what did I tell you about disturbing Loki while he’s sleeping?”

“But Mother, he’s awake now. Can’t we—” 

“Well of course he is awake; I’m sure ‘tis not possible to slumber while in your midst, you speak so often, to considerable length. Yet never is a word spoken by you during your lessons…”

“Mother—”

“Let us return to them now, when you seem so amenable to speak. Leave your brother to his rest. You can see him again later on.”

“But—”

“Later on, my son.”

Thor sighed, a puff of air that blew against Gabriel’s face as the boy had refused to turn to look at his mother during her playful scolding, evidently more interested in gazing at the baby. “Yes, Mother.” He leaned down closer over the golden crib. “I’ll return soon, little brother. Don’t go off on any quests without me, agreed?

Gabriel sneezed. Thor took it as consent and left with his mother willingly, a smile on his cherub face. 

On his own once more, Gabriel waited for the budding panic to spring back to life from before, but his grace was oddly clam, content in a fashion he hadn’t been able to enjoy for a long time. Feelings resurged in him—hope, expectation, longing—he couldn’t identify them all and had no wish to delve any deeper. All he admitted was that it felt good, the unconditional acceptance he received from Thor right away, and the caring nature with which Frigga immediately handled him without his being her own child. And Odin: rough, but his rescuer, in a way that was beginning to seem to go far beyond the protection from exposure he could have provided himself.

With these thoughts in mind, Gabriel made a vow, one that he sent to the abandoned area of his absent Heaven and left there with the intention of having it as his new goal, his promise to this family that now made him their own, always within sight. He would protect them, as they had protected him, and help them grow, as they would help him. A grave pitfall that many long-lived gods fell into was staticism, believing themselves to be so old and wise already that there was no need to change, to adapt. Gabriel had seen it often among the circle of beings he’d surrounded himself with, and never did it end well. He wouldn’t have his new family falling into the same trap.

How to keep a god, a goddess, and a brother on their toes; it sounded like the perfect job for a Trickster. Gabriel grinned at the thought. He wouldn’t have to forsake his long-held career, but instead could expand upon it, cultivate his talents into an art form, a way of life. His family would be safe, happy, and free, even if he had to teach them the basics of living in a world where f, u, and n were more than random letters. He had a feeling Thor would be the easiest to convert.

Lost in his mind, Gabriel paid no heed to the two heads that peeked into his room as he plotted future endeavors. Two guards, one old and grizzled, the other fresh-faced and avid, were fulfilling their duties to watch over the new Odinson when they encountered a daunting vision.

The child, their charge, had an expression on his face—one that could not be mistaken for a smile, no matter its surface appearance. They couldn’t describe it, but knew everything about that pull of the lips was wrong. Rather than trying to explore further, they pulled out of the room swiftly and stood sentinel on either side of the door, as was their commands, and contemplated silently, but in tune with one another, on the occupant inside.

Neither entertained any thoughts of sharing their forming opinions with the king; it had been subtlety emphasized that no questions were to be asked of the baby’s sudden arrival, and likewise it was doubtful that criticisms on said child would be welcomed, but rather met with a swift dismissal. The guards liked their post and the perks it came with. They could forget, for the sake of their ale-money, and their sanity.    

Chapter Text

The next day after Gabriel’s arrival in Asgard, there was a flurry of agitation in the kitchens. Chefs paced back and forth across the aisles of food in the pantry while servers looked for unblemished silver trays without success. The royal family was waiting in the dining hall for their breakfast to be served, including little Loki, who was on his mother’s lap instead of the barred high chair set up for him. Frigga was trying to calm her child; his face had been getting progressively redder as little bursts escaped his mouth at irregular intervals. His apparent discontent was shared by the others as the breakfast bell rang, but no food appeared.

“This is ridiculous,” Odin exclaimed after thirty minutes had passed by with only hurried apologies from the servants and three goblets of wine. “I have a meeting with the court in less than an hour, and I shan’t be late. I will have a word with the chefs.”

“Please ask them to bring out some prunes as well. I believe Loki may be feeling a bit constipated. Perhaps he didn’t get enough sleep last night,” Frigga ended with a pointed look at her older son, who couldn’t argue with his mother’s flawless logic and bowed his head in exaggerated shame.

Gabriel let out a particularly loud snort at the comment, and Frigga fussed over her baby in concern. “Hush, child. All will be well soon. Odin!”    

“Ilsvul!”

“Apologies, my King,” the senior chef rushed out as he entered the hall at Odin’s call, perspiration leaking from his hairline. “We are having some—there is an issue in the kitchens that is hindering our preparations for your meal. I apologize for the inconvenience.” 

“An issue in the kitchens?” Odin asked incredulously. “What issue could beget such a delay?”

“Multiple issues, actually, but we are working to solve them in due course, my King.”

“What issues, Ilsvul?”

“The food—perishables, meats, vegetables, nuts—has disappeared,” the chef hurried to explain at Odin’s glare. “It has been replaced with little, colored, circular pellets of sugar that are not suitable for consumption.”

Skittles. Taste the rainbow of cavities.

“And the serving trays… the serving trays…”

“Yes?” Odin prompted, already absent of patience due to his rumbling stomach.

“Someone has drawn… images on the trays. Sketches of an… inappropriate nature… they’re animated, my King.”

Gabriel burst out into laughter, the sound pained yet tinged with relief due to subduing it for so long. He’d been up late in the night to set everything up; his creativity peaked in the hours before dawn.

“Enough,” Odin demanded sharply, “you’re upsetting Loki. Have you sent anyone to the market?”

“Yes… they’ve not yet returned.”

“Don’t be hasty, my husband,” Frigga quietly interceded when Odin’s gaze turned sharp and deadly on the now trembling chef. “This could be a blessing in disguise. Instead of swiftly eating and going off to start your day, we can go out into the town as a family for our meal.”

“Frigga—”

“Doesn’t spending time with your wife and children sound lovely, Odin?”

After taking a swallow of wine, Odin nodded his head slowly and said, “Of course, that sounds—acceptable,” while resignedly reorganizing his hectic schedule in his head to include this new whim of his wife.

Gabriel grinned toothily at his mother. He was glad she had calmed the situation; he’d decided to start his career off with minor pranks, and his first attempt concluding in a homicide wouldn’t look good in his portfolio. Before that, he’d need to find the perfect victim. So far the worse offense he’d seen, or heard, was the kitchen cleaning wench’s horrendous singing, which logically didn’t equate to death, and subjectively only deserved a de-tonguing.     

The family outing was commenced with promptly; Frigga bundled Gabriel in her arms, collected a pouting Thor, and whisked them all into the front hall and out the doors into the brisk morning.

The village at the foot of the Odinson’s palace was bustling with early life. Children ran between trading merchants along the edges of roads trafficked with horses and mules pulling carts filled with commodities. The royal family’s chariot parted the commotion as it came down the center of the road, pedestrians pausing briefly to glance and nod at their rulers while other carriages pulled aside to clear a path.

As it passed, the children’s attention was stolen from the golden chariot by the fuzzy flowers that sprouted and bloomed from yellow to white in its wake. They ran into the open road and chubby little hands picked the flowers. A breeze blew by, causing hundreds of needle-thin petal pricks to fly off into the air around the children, eliciting joyous laughter. Parents scowled fondly from the peripheral for a time before going to herd their sons and daughters home while picking white clingers from their clothing. Gabriel rode blamelessly away as the morning business was stalled for an hour due to the sudden influx of youngsters in the streets keeping carts from reaching their destinations, and his family was free to enjoy themselves in an uncrowded eatery.

A few days passed with such minor mishaps, but nobody paid special attention to the flock of falcons dive-bombing a famous avian-poacher with splattering presents, or to the embezzling organizer of several well-known seamstresses disappearing and being found the next day hanging from a tree mummified in warn with only an air hole to call for help through. It was odd, to be sure, but no traces of the culprits were found, and the incidents were isolated in distance and time with no rhythm to connect them. At least none that anyone could care to think of.

One night in the deadest of hours during the deepest of sleep, Gabriel woke to an urgent press on his blander. Rather than vanishing the natural need as he’d usually do, there was a thrill in the wind unusual for the hour that convinced him to give into the normalcy of a midnight latrine run and get up. As he made his way out of his room on legs that had no business being able to support his full weight yet, pass the exhausted guards with feet that literally walked on air, and down the halls to the toilet, Gabriel crossed a room with dimmed light and whispered voices leaking underneath the closed door.

“… slip the poison into the chalice… Odin will never recover… at dawn… kill the prince…. Thor will die then…”

Gabriel paused at the side of the door, cocked his head as he listened, and then smiled. He continued on his way, relived himself, and then returned to the door. He recognized it as leading to one of the servants’ courters that had been clear out after Loki’s arrival to be repurposed as an eventual playroom or something of that sort. Apparently the maids that had resided in there previously had profited with nicer, spacious room in the west wing. The light was still on and the voices were still conspiring.

Closing his eyes and resting his head against the stained red wood, Gabriel began humming an old nursery rhyme originating in Boston during the 1830’s. He hadn’t picked up the craze until the later 60’s, but once he did, Crowley had resorted to kicking him out of the little seaside cottage they’d been time-sharing in for the century because he’d sing the lyrics so often and so loudly and so brilliantly. The voices in the room suddenly rose in volume.

“Oh my—what is that creature?”

“Don’t be daft, Ragna. It’s a lamb. We raise tons of ‘em on the farm.”

“What is a forsaken lamb doing in here?! Be gone with you—no, that ‘tis not for your biting pleasure—release my skirts, you son of a goat’s uncle.”

“Heh, maybe he’s a crossbreed.”

“He’s drunken the poison! That cost me my left arm at the apothecary!”

“Well, perhaps if ye hadn’t been plotting about in the wee hours of night ya wouldn’t be out of an arm,” a new voice chimed in that didn’t match with the others’ thick Norris brogues.

“Ahhh! Who in the realms are you?”

“I’m Mary, bitch.”

Delighted with the response to his first plagiarism, Gabriel changed tunes to another old favorite and allowed his grace to conjure up the excitement while he focused. Another force was nagging at his thought, trying to gain attention like an orphaned child: the magic that had been left in this body. While Gabriel felt for the lost little energy, it was too inexperienced and weak, more likely to do foul than assist, so he shoved it back with a promise of future training and maintained the images in his head.

A howl broke up the squabbling inside the bedroom.

“A wolf?!”

“And bipedal, too. I’m here to blow your house down, motha’ fuckas. Pigs, attack!”

“You killed my lamb!”

Squealing and screaming overtook the room, and Gabriel grinned as hands and feet pounded uselessly on the other side of the door; some jerk had locked it. And switched the keyhole so it was facing the outside. And stolen the key. And place it on a chain around his neck as a souvenir.

After setting an expiration date for his creations once they completed their intended goal, Gabriel trotted back to his room. The guards were no longer dozing, but rather stood alert with weapons drawn in front of their charge’s bedroom at the violent noise. Both blinked in surprise as they saw said charge glide towards them from down the darkly lit hallway, open the heavy door to his room with a shoulder nudge since he couldn’t reach the handle, and walk in. Gabriel ran over to the only other piece of furniture besides his cradle and a set of chairs, a well-carved golden brown armoire, and placed his key-necklace inside of a false bottom that popped into existence. The infant turned to the guards, put his pointer finger to his lips, and then crooked the finger. The doors closed of their own accord, cutting off their view of the unordinary, certainly not Asgardian child.

The guards, the same pair from Loki’s first day in Asgard, looked at each other and repeated the finger-to-lip gesture in confirmation. Their paths had already been chosen; now they had to follow them and pray their charge was more into innocent mischief than anything else.

A steady, silent truce was drawn that night between royalty and servant, child and adult, angel and man, and wouldn’t be broken. The next morning when an anonymous tip arrived about a failed assassination attempt on Prince Thor’s life and a crazed-looking woman arrived an hour later to confess and beg for punishment, the guards stood behind their young charge, who cooed softly from his mother’s arms, in stony, satisfied silence.    

Chapter Text

“Lift your arms and step into the block, Thor. You must control the situation when someone goes to attack you, veer the battle to your command. You must want to win.”

“What I want is to be done with this boring business and veer my attention back to my own affairs,” Thor retorted, sending a glare to his blank-faced but increasingly vexed sword instructor.

“You’re a prince of Asgard; you must know how to defend yourself and how to fight. ‘Tis impossible to know the future without assistance from the Norns, and we could be invaded at any time. You must focus and—”

“But why,” Thor interrupted. “As you say, I am of Asgard, the greatest of all the worlds. None would dare to step an unwelcomed foot on our land. And besides,” he added with a cruel twist of his lips, “I am a prince. If Father wants me trained so well, why does he have a lamed man do so instead of a proper warrior?”

Loki watched from his place under the shade of a tree on the edge of the training field as Tyr’s right hand tightened around the hilt of his sword, the lack of his left very apparent after that last pointedly dropped insult, before relaxing to a loose grip. The seasoned veteran turned without another word to the now triumphantly grinning prince, leaving the grounds at a swift yet controlled pace. Unburdened, Thor trotted away in the other direction and joined his awaiting group of friends, Fandral, Volstagg and Hogun, and then dragged a less willing Balder away from his teacher to run off and do… whatever it was children did.

Despite his physical age of ten, Gabriel could never bring himself to fully inhabit his role as Loki. Of course, he loved the treatment and care he received from his family, and the amusement there was to be drawn from the idiots that came to the royal courts every day, as well as the idiots who were bothering the legitimately concerned citizens that came to the courts. But Thor and the rest of the children he’d grown up alongside over the last decade; he couldn’t relate to their youthful convoluted simplicity. They could laugh for hours at a joke that Gabriel understood and dismissed before it was even completed. He was an outlier in this world, and even if his brother either couldn’t see it or refused to acknowledge it, the fact was painfully apparent to others. Gabriel could still remember when Thor tried to convince him to play swordfight with him for the first and only time.

“It’s a stick.”

“No, it’s a sword! A powerful weapon in the arsenal of a warrior, the basics in learning to fight.”

“It’s a pointy, expensive stick. I don’t want to learn to fight, Thor. I hate fighting.” I hate watching my brothers and sisters kill each other in a war that lasted thousands of years. I hate the flashes of light as their souls extinguish into nothingness. Gone, forever. “Besides, I thought the basics were hand-to-hand combat.”

“Not important! Pick it up!”

“No.”

“… Very well. We shall combat later on.”

They had yet to combat and the subject hadn’t been brought up again.

Instead, Gabriel spent his time inside his mother’s study, learning from her the art of magic and fulfilling his promise to the spark inside of him. It had since roared into a sizable flame that was always warring with his grace, then complimenting it, or ignoring it. His grace had similarly mixed feelings about the magic; Gabriel was considering couple’s counseling. When he didn’t have lessons, he parked himself underneath his tree with a book in his lap like he did today. However, rather than actively reading, the book lay untouched atop his thighs as Gabriel watched the scene his brother preformed before he stormed off with his troupe. And he had no doubt that this was what his brother was doing: acting. Taking the part of a spoiled brat who only wanted to play with his friends and ditch out of learning.

Gabriel knew better.

Thor was spoiled, in was true—he was a prince after all, and lacked the millennia of experience Gabriel enjoyed. But he could see it in the blond Asgardian’s eyes as he watched the elder warriors spar; the respect and awe and thirst for knowledge that didn’t belong to a fool. On the contrary, Thor was far cleverer than anyone gave him credit for, just not in the same way Loki and the archivists he spent many a day in the library with were. He could make a great general, a decisive leader if he put in the effort now. Thor was born to wield a weapon, perhaps a hammer, based on his build.

Gabriel could only guess as to why Thor refused to give in to his desire to train; maybe he thought his friends would like him more if he was a douchebag, or he feared he wouldn’t be any good at actually fighting beyond the few wooden-sword fights he’d had with Balder and embarrass himself. Either way, Gabriel was confident he could blow open the dam of self-doubt and denial and release the warrior Thor was meant to be from this pitiable, arrogant shell strutting around the central fountain a few hundred meters from the training grounds.

And as for what to use for dynamite…

Thor was like his father, Odin. He had a weakness against Loki’s tears.

The next morning, Thor was scheduled for a session with a linguist to further refine his speech (which had gradually deteriorated into more common tongue, and Gabriel would proudly publicly take credit for the feat if he weren’t seen as the “younger”, impressionable brother that was supposed to emulate Thor rather than the other way around) in the third study room. Knowing his brother’s pattern, Thor would go in, the tutor would storm out some amount of time thereafter, and then Thor would take a few moments to bask in self-satisfaction before exiting. Gabriel positioned himself accordingly and pinched his arm while directing his grace to flow through them, working up some moisture in his eyes.

When Thor rounded the corner a few minutes later, he stumbled across his little brother curled up against the wall, sobbing into his knees with arms hugging his legs, a position bereft of his usual poise. Right on time.   

“Loki!” Thor cried out as he rushed to his brother’s side, bending down next to him and letting his hands flutter around Loki’s shoulders, but never touching, as though he was worried he’d break the smaller boy. “What is the matter, brother? Has somebody hurt you? By all the land, I swear if they have, I’ll—”

“Nobody laid hands on me,” Gabriel assured, muffled by his knees and his sniffling—that pinch actually really smarted. “It’s just…” He raised his head and looked up at Thor through the black tuffs of hair that fells over his face in a very none-typical-of-Loki way. “Some of the other children… they approached me yesterday. They said—it’s nothing, really.”

Thor let out a dampened roar, enraged but unwilling to further distress Loki. “They made you cry! ‘Tis not nothing, and I can’t allow it to go on. I shan’t. What happened? What did they say?”

“Well, some of the boys, and the girls, they said… that reading isn’t a hobby for a man. And magic is a practice for women; ‘tis disgraceful for a man to learn the art.” Gabriel didn’t even have to lie; after Thor and his friends had gone out of sight, several of the trainees had completed their lessons for the day and approached Loki beneath his tree. Their words didn’t truly bother him at all and he recognized the bullying as something even Thor had done to others on occasion. But that was just the problem.

“That’s ridiculous,” Thor retorted immediately. “You love books and magic and should be free to pursue what you wish.”

“But you said yourself before that I had to learn to fight. I need to, n-need to g-get off my arse and work like a man. That’s what they said. Are they right, Thor?” he asked imploringly to his brother. “Do I have to give up my lessons with Mother and my books?” 

This was the key moment. Thor could either own up to his hypocrisy and take actions to righten it or he could dismiss the innocuous accusation and Gabriel would have to make new plans.

“I…” Thor hesitated, and then carefully said, “it… is nobody’s place to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, including me. I would love a brother who could stand beside me in battle, but I’d also treasure an intelligent strategist at my side who can fight just as well with magic, a confidant that can assist me in ruling. You don’t need to be physically strong; I shall ensure I have enough of that brand of strength for the both of us, as long as you can spare me some of your impressive brain power. I want you, Loki, as you want to be. Hel, I would even be proud if you were to pursue an occupation as a florist, for then I could woo all the ladies I wished with flowers gratis.”

“… It’s adorable how you assume I wouldn’t charge you for my wares. You’d pay double, brother.”      

Thor boomed out a laugh at that, a shockingly deep sound to come from a young teenager. Gabriel envied him and wondered if he couldn’t magically bypass the horrid voice cracking he knew his vocal chords would subject him to in a few years. 

“Then I shall keep my coffers well stocked in preparation. Now I must be off.” Thor held out his hands and Gabriel took the invitation, placing his own in them and letting Thor hull the both of them up. He did so with ease. “I have to be at the training grounds shortly, and I can’t be late.”

“Of course you can’t.” Gabriel watched as Thor raced down the halls, giving one last wave back to his brother. Gabriel returned it, and then leisurely made his way to his mother’s study for his own appointment. Once there, he knocked on the door and then walked in at the positive call.

“Are you ready, Loki?” Frigga asked, rising from her desk.

“Yes. May we please move this lesson outside today, Mother? I wish to watch Thor’s session with Tyr today, and we overlap. I won’t practice any magic; today can just be a history lesson, so can we? Please?”

“Very well, very well,” she humored. “We can go out. I don’t know where this sudden excitement to watch your brother’s training came from, but I’m glad for it. Now only if Thor shared your enthusiasm.” Frigga let out a weary sigh at the end.

Gabriel hummed in agreement. “Who knows what surprises today will bring?”

As they walked outside, Gabriel thought over his success.

His brother taken care of, he could move his scheming mind onto Odin next. He’d seen the old man sneaking food that didn’t go along with Frigga’s current dieting plan into his study last evening. Now Gabriel had to decide if he was going to correct the behavior, or see if he could get in on the snacking network. Her diet encompassed the entire family this time; it’d been weeks since Gabriel had last eaten an illicit Twix bar that he hadn’t conjured up from nothing. His creations didn’t have the same delicious, rebellious taste.

Chapter Text

“Mercy befall us, but I’ve found the legendary troll of Biarmaland! As hideous as he is wide, and cruel as he is strong; come brothers, for we must slay this beast ere he crushes us all under the might of his third chin!”

“Stop aiming that arrow at me like a loon, Fandral,” Volstagg complained, shoving the tip away from his forehead. “We are here to hunt, not make fantasy like a couple o’ lads.” Fandral backed away and gasped loudly, placing his empty hand over his chest.

“The beast speaks our language! Quick, Hogun, help me take it down. We shall bring it back to our fathers and have the physicians dissect and examine the specimen. We’ll be heroes for our brave capture.”

“Oh, do shut your—”

“Let us do it!”

“What?! Hogun, what do ya’ mean—get off of me Fandral—ahhhh! You want to play? Taste my axe!”  

“Enjoying yourself, brother?” Thor chuckled as he jogged back to join Gabriel, who perpetually made up the rear of their party during every outing.

“On the contrary, I’m wondering why I allowed you to convince me to join you and your,” he paused to give a pointed look at the men tussling on the grass, all three collecting green stains and mud tracks on their gear, “friends. Given how the last occasion went, I’m not sure why I came with any high expectations, but I suppose the instinctual desire for even a minute sense of civility hasn’t yet left me.”

Sif snorted, stepping up beside Thor. “Well, I’m not sure why you’ve come either, given ‘tis clear you don’t want to be here, and nobody would contradict that wish. Hunting doesn’t involve any sitting, so I can see how you’d find the sport distasteful.”  

“Sif,” Thor warned, eyebrows drawn in disapproval. “I want Loki here.”

“And I live to serve,” Gabriel quipped before his brother could start into a lecture. While he shared a mutual dislike with Sif and would usually enjoy nothing more than to watch her receive a tongue-lashing, he knew she held a torch for his brother, and as disturbing as it was, her affections were not entirely one-sided. Gabriel had no desire to watch a scolding turn into flirting when breakfast was only an hour in his past. “Some fresh air does me well every now and again. You ought to know this, Thor; your head is full of fresh air.”

A rustling behind the bushes to their right caused the men to halt their wrestling and swiftly struggle to their feet. Thor raised a hand for silence and quietly stepped towards the sound. Once he reached the hedge, he pushed down the greenery at the top to glimpse beyond it.

“A lone wolf, laying in front of a tree. I don’t think it’s heard us yet,” Thor whispered to the others.

“Then let’s surround it before it does,” Sif grinned, notching an arrow on her bow. She and Fandral circled to the left, while Volstagg and Hogun went right. Gabriel stayed with Thor, not preparing a weapon because he hadn’t brought one.

When everyone reached their positions, Thor waved his arm forward and the hunters all broke into the clearing at once, swords and bows raised high. Gabriel followed at a languid pace. The wolf instantly rose to her feet and began growling fiercely at the hunters. Yet, she didn’t move from her spot to back up or make a break for it. The six were in front of her and on either sides, but if she really wanted to, she could turn tail and bolt; the tree would provide nice coverage from Sif and Hogun’s arrows.

“Why won’t she run?” Gabriel pondered aloud.

“There’s nowhere it could go that we wouldn’t catch it,” Sif dismissed. “It’s all yours, Thor. We’ll get it if it tries to escape.”

Gabriel studied the wolf, saw how she wouldn’t lower herself to the ground to prepare a strike, despite the immediate danger she was in. A flicker of movement in the foliage behind her caught his eye, and Gabriel felt his chest tighten when his grace detected the hidden spark of life.

“Wait, Thor!” Gabriel hissed, tugging his brother’s arm in encouragement to lower his weapon. “The wolf, she is not fleeing or attacking because there is a cub under the roots behind her. If she did, the pup would be exposed. She is a mother. Without her, the babe will die. We can’t kill her.” Thor slowly lowered his tense arm at Gabriel’s insistence, and the other men followed his lead.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Sif sneered, continuing to approach the growling animal. “We are hunters. We kill. If the wolf won’t defend its own life, them it is weak and deserves to die.”

“You’re killing for sport, not survival! If we needed the meat, I wouldn’t stop you; but the official hunting-party already went out earlier in the morning and caught enough game for the day to sell in the markets. There is nothing justified about this.”

“Loki is right,” Thor declared. “There is no honor in besting an opponent that won’t move to fight back. Come, Sif, there is nothing for us here. We should leave.”

“Stop agreeing with everything he says!” Sif roared, causing the wolf to growl louder. “If I want to kill it, then that’s what I’ll do. We came here to hunt, and I’m going to hunt!” She released her bow to prove her point.

“No!” Gabriel reached out his hand and made a fist, his magic catching the arrow before it could find the wolf. She snarled at the pointed tip hovering an arm’s length from her snout. “That’s enough.’

Enraged further by his casual display of magic, Sif pulled a knife from her waist and threw herself at the wolf, burying the blade in her neck before the animal could fight back.

“Sif! Release her!” Thor rushed forward to pull the woman off of the dying wolf. Gabriel didn’t give him the chance. His magic lashed out, throwing Sif back into the bushes. He ran past Thor, who had paused in surprise when Sif went sailing by him, and knelt by the wolf’s side. She was still trying to growl, but only blood split through her lips. Her head titled weakly, her eyes searching behind her for the pup. Now that the forest was silent in the wake of the action, the previously inaudible whimpers could clearly be heard underneath the tangle of roots the wolf had been protecting.

Gabriel pulled the wolf closer and examined the wound with his eyes, but he could already feel her life slipping away. Only her regret at leaving her pup behind to the mercy of her murderers kept the wolf from fading away.

“I’ll take care of him,” Gabriel assured softly, his words for the majestic creature before him and no one else. “I’m sorry this happened to you, but I promise I’ll look after your pup; he’ll remain undomesticated and free. You can go now.”

The wolf’s black eyes stared into Gabriel’s, then they went glassy, her body falling entirely limp.

Thor approached hesitantly, glancing at the wolf’s head cradled in his brother’s lap. “Is she…”

“Dead, yes. That’s what happens when your throat is slit.” Gabriel gently shifted the wolf off of him and stood up. He stepped towards the tree. A little black furred snout popped out and sniffed the air. Once it caught a whiff of blood and death, the nose ducked back into safety and the whimpering started anew, much louder this time.

“Come here boy. I know you’re scared, but hiding won’t do you any good.” Gabriel crouched over the hole the nose had come from, rolled up the sleeves of his white blouse—which he had told Frigga was too girly, but she always wanted a daughter and insisted it matched his long hair well. Gabriel reluctantly agreed—, and stuck his hand through the roots.

“Ah, Loki?” Thor asked after several moments of watching his brother play in the dirt. “What… are you doing?”

“I’m getting the pup. Almost… ah. There he is.” Gabriel pulled his hand up to reveal an angry little wolf gnawing at his fingers. His small jaw couldn’t quite fit Gabriel’s entire hand in it, but his teeth were set firmly in human flesh, leaving the pup dangling in the air.  

“Would you… prefer assistance? Should I cut it off?” Thor offered, clearly lost with the situation.

“Don’t you dare.” Gabriel cuddled the dirty, emaciated body to his chest.

“… You’re bleeding, Loki.”

“Your girlfriend killed his mother. Of course he is terrified, and I’m not going to let you big men with swords scare him anymore. If he wants to nibble on my fingers, let him. He’s coming back with us.”        

“Sif is not my girlfriend.”

“Indeed, I am not—ahh!” Gabriel waved his arm again and sent Sif back into the shrubbery.

“Really, Thor? Out of all of that, the ‘girlfriend’ part is the only thing you took away?”

“… I should go tell father that we will be having a new house guest?”

“I’m so glad you volunteered. And he’ll be a permanent residence.”

Gabriel began his trek back to the castle, trying to sooth the pup into releasing his new chew toy.

“If you let me go, I’ll have a rare lamb ready for your consumption when we get home. You’re right, I’m going to do that anyways. Hey, how about you replace my fingers with Sif’s? Would you like that, boy?” The pup growled in approval and released Gabriel’s flesh.

As expected, Thor didn’t do so well selling the prospect of a wild animal living in the house, and Gabriel was summoned to the throne room after an hour of playing ‘peekaboo, no don’t eat my nose’ with the pup. What followed was a rendition of the puppy talk many parents have with their children when they ask for a pet.

“Are you sure about this, Loki? Taking care of a wolf is a lot of responsibility.”

“Yes, Father, I’m sure.”

“You’ll have to take him on walks every day and make sure he is fed.”

“Yes, Mother, I know.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to start out with a goldfish first?”

“No, Father, I want him.”

“Is he housebroken?”

“No, Mother, probably not. He’s going to pee all over your nice carpeting.”

Those weren’t the exact words exchanged, but they were what Gabriel registered, and whatever happened in reality was satisfying enough that his parents allowed his request for the pup to stay.

“He’s going to need a name,” Thor pointed out as they walked back towards their rooms.

Gabriel replied without pause. “Fenrir.”

“You already have one picked out?”

“Yeah. I read a book once about a huge wolf prophesized to swallow the sun and the moon. His name was Fenrir.”

“Those are some high expectations.”

“He’ll grow into them.”

Thor grinned. “But he’s so tiny now. He fits perfectly on top of your head, his little belly blending right in, black on black.”

Gabriel reached up and petted the pup laying on his hair. He got a yawn in reply. In another life, Fenrir had been said to be Loki’s son; it was a false tale then as well. But Gabriel had recognized the wolf breed born of a giantess as soon as he saw the mother and son, and he was determined that this wolf wouldn’t grow up in shackles, feared and loathed. Instead, he’d be loved and free, as he’d promised the dying mother.

That night, Gabriel and a band of conjured Harry Potter-esque pixies whisked through the castle under the cover of darkness. In the morning, all occupants were awoken early by the shrieks of Sif, with the exception of Gabriel, who was enjoying a set of ear plugs, and Fenrir, who was content with his new ball of braided dark hair and the sweet feeling of vengeance.      

Chapter Text

Gabriel’s reputation grew along with his frail body; over the centuries, he became known as Loki, God of Mischief and, when Frigga was particularly annoyed with him, Lies. His title was mainly earned through his general peculiar mannerisms as his guards never admitted anything about his night-time activities and nobody had ever actually caught him in his tricks beyond a few minor pranks he didn’t bother hiding. And, as he was promised when they were kids, Loki did indeed grow to become Thor’s trusted right-hand man. He even fashioned Thor’s own legend, dubbing him the God of Thunder after the booming baritone of his voice, present even in childhood.    

Yet, as time passed, Thor too grew in strength and stamina, and his pride followed suit. Though Gabriel did what he could to keep the man’s ego in check, the fact that Thor was a strong, handsome, influential prince left little room for humility. There was scant on Asgard he couldn’t acquire with a charming smile, and while Thor was considerate to those he deemed worthy of his attention, not all fit that criteria. Odin and Frigga hadn’t done much to temper Thor’s arrogance, but neither, Gabriel was forced to admit to himself, had he done enough.  

When Odin had declared Thor to be his successor and set a date for his coronation day, their father stood tall in front of his subjects and projected confidence in his decision. But he was unable to hide his doubts from Gabriel’s keen eye; doubts that were shared among all in the castle except Thor’s most ardent fans. Yet, in the face of growing unrest in Jotunheim, Odin was determined to show that Asgard was as strong as ever by appointing a new, younger, healthier ruler. 

As he stood to the side and watched his brother prance and swing his hammer (I so called that) like a juvenile when he was supposed to be preparing to ascend the throne in a respectful, dignified manner, Gabriel knew something was going to go wrong. Horribly wrong. Even if he had to cause it. Thor was in no shape to rule over Asgard—the great realm would be in ruins after the first week. Gabriel loved his strong, foolish, kind, naive, righteous, arrogant brother, but the man was too battle-prone and had too little experience to be a king yet. And based on the leery look Odin was sending his preening son, he felt the same. 

Then Gabriel’s grace began screaming in excitement, and his pray-for interruption came in the form of familiar blue giants.  

The ceremony was halted while everyone tried to figure out what caused the alarms to sound, and once Odin discovered Frost Giants had tried to steal an artifact from the vaults he was too enraged to continue with the farce. Thor was understandably upset at the turn of events, but Gabriel hoped that Odin’s swift prohibiting of any direct retaliation would deter his brother from making a rash decision, as he was so often prone to do. 

“Odin is right. Going into battle with another realm blindly and for the sole purpose of vengeance is stupid, border lining on suicidal, and merely mentioning the idea to our father further proves your inadequacy to assume the throne in your current state,” is what Gabriel wanted to say as he settled next to Thor on the steps on the banquet hall after his tantrum. But figuring Odin had hammered the spirit of his speech in already, Gabriel opted to be benign and assumed the role of the supportive brother.   

“While that spectacle with the upheaved dinner table was entirely unnecessary, you were correct about the breach in security,” he started, figuring one of the few things that could make Thor feel better at this point was having his, actually justified, concerns validated. “If the Frost Giants managed to find their way past Heimdall’s watchful eyes once, they could do it again.” 

“Yes, but Father has forbade me from acting upon this threat,” Thor growled in frustration. “How can I prove I am ready to take on the mantel of King if he doesn’t give me the chance to show my valor and protect Asgard from the monsters?” 

Gabriel frowned at his brother’s words. “That is quite the conundrum. Perhaps we could start by not referring to an entire race as monsters?” 

Thor rose abruptly from his seat. “Are you defending the Giants, brother? Would you seek to pardon the wrongdoings they have committed against I, and Asgard, this day? And those of so many years before?” 

“Sit down, brother, and cease crediting your own words to my tongue.” After coaxing Thor back onto the steps, Gabriel continued. “I am merely suggesting that we not condemn all due to the actions of few—in this case, only two. There are likely many warriors in Jotunheim who still carrying resentment in their hearts towards Asgard, but there are even more civilians, men, women, and children, that would suffer if you gave into temptation and started another war. Those who have transgressed today paid with their lives. There may still be actions that need to be taken, but they are on our end. We should find the gap in our defense and reinforce it, for example. Beside,” Gabriel brought out his finishing blow, seeing the tension in Thor’s shoulders relax as he found reason in his brother’s dialogue, “Jotunheim is one of the realms you will be responsible for once you take on Odin’s responsibilities. Take a peaceful course to show you are making progress in steading your temper and becoming a more suitable candidate for the throne. Despite your personal feelings, you will be tasked with the well-being of nine realms—nine, not one. They’ll rely on you for wisdom, guidance, protection—”  

“Madness!” Thor exploded once more, rising from the steps to pace in front of Gabriel. “I shan’t protect those beasts who would see Asgard fall to ruin!” 

Before Gabriel could calm Thor from his riled condition, the Warriors Three Idiots and Her Lady Spinster Sif entered the hall and gave Thor the soundboards he needed to assure himself he was right in his chosen path of destruction. An hour later, despite his vocal protests that were washed away in the wake of Thor’s charisma and volume, Gabriel was uncomfortably saddled on a horse and riding towards the Bifrost with his brother and the lemmings. His last hope to stop their doomed quest laid in the hands of the wise and level-headed gatekeeper. With that in mind, Gabriel passed Thor with a sly grin and a “let me do the talking”, prepared to give an impassioned oration of why they should be let through while pointing out every reason they really shouldn’t be in an act that would do his title of Silver Tongue justice.  

Gabriel's hope proved futile and his efforts for naught.   

Heimdall, so distraught over his failure in keeping the Jötnar out of Asgard, once again allowed a threat to the peace pass into the Bifrost; he didn't even question Thor's intentions, unduly trusting the prince when it was his job to be vigil and suspicious. Gabriel couldn't help but freeze in place and stare at the keeper in disbelief and veiled disappointment as the others shuffled around him after Thor. 

"So we can go? Just like that?" Gabriel murmured once the warriors were out of hearing range and only Heimdall was privy to his question. 

The keeper continued gazing forward, not meeting Gabriel's eyes. "There must be justice for what has happened. Another oversight mustn't occur again, my prince."  

Gabriel snorted and finally began after his brother. "Then visit the optometrist and don't fuck up next time." 

The six gathered into the Bifrost, and Heimdall obediently directed them to Jotunheim. 


“Stupid Thor for making me go back to that frozen hell hole and endangering everybody who was dumb enough to follow him, like me , and then getting banished ,” Gabriel growled to himself once the doors to his chamber closed. He unclasped his hastily donned armor and began unlacing his boots as he awkwardly shrugged his black chest plate off. “Stupid Frost giants for invading to steal the Casket of Old Frost—or whatever it is—at a convenient time and then ruining everything by prompting Thor to ‘teach them a lesson’. Stupid Gabriel for standing back like a passive little hellhound instead of doing something while Odin banished Thor to Earth in a nearly exact replica of the Lucifer’s Fall fiasco. Because that tu rned out so well the first time ! I should have just magically given us all smallpox before we could reach the Bifrost ; even that would have caused less damage.  

His chamber door cracked open and the worried face of one of his guards poked in. “Are you alright, my prince? We heard yelling.” 

“I’m just fine, thanks.” Gabriel flashed a strained smile at the guard before his magic fulfilled his desire for privacy and slammed the door closed, also taking out a few of his windows just for the fun of it. Sighing, he collapsed on his bed facing a wall lined with filled bookshelves, twitching his finger to send a tendril of grace to fix the guard’s nose, which his magic had no doubt smashed in its eager actions. Gazing aimlessly at the spines of The Remains of the Day and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on his shelves, Gabriel created a notebook and pen and began to record his thought process. 

“I can’t allow history to repeat itself: Thor won’t become Lucifer. Instead, this banishment should serve as the lesson Odin intended it to be. He can be humbled and learn the traits of leadership and perseverance through interacting with humanity, be taught by humans the same way they taught me.” Gabriel jumped from his bed and began pacing while writing, schemes being formed and discarded in rapid succession in his mind. “But how to keep Thor from turning evil like Lucifer did, enraged as he is at Allfather for his banishment? Luci was pushed into the role of the devil because somebody had to be… that’s it. In every story, there is a good side and a bad side. A darkened Hell to Heaven’s light. To keep Thor in the light, I’ll have to create a darkness of my own for him to fight, an enemy so horrific that he is forced to confront his true values and become the hero. In his core, Thor is good, and he will chose the path that protects and defends when presented with a destructive force. I found my strength when Lucifer tore our family apart, when my brother turned against everything we once stood for—” 

Gabriel froze. He stared down at the words written before him. With slow, dark strokes that threatened to tear through the paper with the force exerted on them, he circled the word brother and drew an arrow to enemy

“Ye-es,” he articulated clearly. “No one else will be able to do it, no villain I could conjure or seek out would be capable of causing the same deep-rooted pain and sense of betrayal necessary to keep Thor on the right side.” Gabriel shoved down the useless ache that began pounding in his chest as his new plan circulated in his head, the details forming easily. He put an artificial smirk on his face and forcefully summoned the glee he always experienced whenever he indulged in blueprinting plots of clever deceit, swinging his body back towards his bed and leaning over it in a taunt stretch. 

“I’ll need a reason and the means, though,” Gabriel mused aloud to the stuffed frost giant perched on his night table. Back during his first hundred years on Asgard, he’d visited Loki’s birthplace during a slow, boring week and caught sight of Laufey, Loki’s sire. While he hated the man for leaving his own son for dead, the frost giant’s visage intrigued Gabriel with its likeness to his vessel’s original form, and he’d ended up cutting his visit short to go home and create a toy version that was usually stored safely behind his pillow. “I’m Loki to them, loving son and brother, so it’s not as though I can just turn evil without provocation. I do jokes, not treason. And even then, my magic is strong, but not enough to hold a chance of enslaving all of Asgard without the unexplainable assistance of my grace. If I’d had time to prepare and plan, I could pull this off in a believable manner, but now… I’ll have to improvise.” Gabriel stared intently at his doll. A bleak smile slowly stretched his lips as the blue fabric sparked his inspiration, his mind flashing back to the cold touch on Jotunheim that had lulled his glamour to fall and his skin to resume its natural blue coloring. “Mr. Sperm Donor, I think I may have finally found a use for you. And payback will be such a pleasurable side benefit.”   

Chapter Text

“Mr. Sperm Donor, I think I may have finally found a use for you. And payback will be such a pleasurable side benefit.”    

Gabriel sprung from his bed, his prostrate body propelled by an eagerness to begin his plan before his resolve waned with sentiment. During his scolding of Thor, Gabriel had sensed his father's (I'm going to miss being able to call him that. Father. Father, father, fatherfatherfather) approaching descent into Odinsleep. He knew he was going to have to implement the first stage of his plot immediately before Odin succumbed to his scheduled respite. Otherwise, Gabriel would have an excellent excuse to back out, and he wasn't confident in his strength of will to resist. Mantra still playing in his head, Gabriel slunk to the window, preferring the twenty story drop to the concern of the guards waiting outside his door, and jumped. The "thump, ba, thump, ba" of several wings beating at the air followed him to Odin's Weapon Vault. 

Once the building was in sight, Gabriel passed through the back walls so none would see him enter, but didn’t conceal his presence from the improved security that would directly alert Odin to the intrusion as he wandered the halls. Gabriel didn’t want a large audience yet; first came the private performance.

The vault appeared more like a crypt; most of the volatile and dangerous weapons and artifacts were kept in the sublevels, so the only light source was the widely spaced torches whose fire was never doused. The end result was so that a person could only see so far beyond them before they encountered a slim, black patch that no torch could reach, making it difficult to navigate without clear direction. While spooky in its effect, the darkness did highlight the glow of the clear cases that displayed the mostly stolen Asgardian treasures.

Finally, Gabriel’s grace hummed in recognition as he stepped through a golden doorway and he spotted his prize: the greatly sought after Casket of Ancient Winters. While fighting in Jotunheim, he had discovered the touch of another Frost Giant returned his skin to its natural state. While this was merely an entertaining fact to Gabriel (I wonder what would happen during coitus with a Frost Lady?), such a sight would act as a devastating revelation to a young god who had always been different. To realize that he was adopted and his parents never told him while simultaneously being plunged into his heritage of a race he’d been taught to loath—it was certainly enough reason to push someone over the edge. Gabriel was confident that, if he played his part right, he could contrive a classic scenario of diverging fates; the scorned brother turns evil, forcing the banished brother to return and defeat the threat, thus restoring his honor. The Casket would assist him in the opening scene.

Descending the stairs and crossing the no man’s land stretch, Gabriel halted in front of the vital prop. He sent his grace through the vault and, sure enough, found Odin hurrying through the halls towards the room hosting the Casket. Gabriel grinned for a moment before forcing apprehension back onto his features. Ever the protective father.

His hands hovered over the handles as Gabriel kept track of Odin’s whereabouts. Once he entered the hall just outside, Gabriel grasped the Casket and slowly, dramatically, lifted the glowing blue box. As Gabriel had hoped, the relic from Jotunheim produced the same reaction as its realm’s inhabitants, suspending his glamour. His skin adopted the blue tint starting from the fingertips touching the casket and spreading up his arms.  This… this is so fucking cool. TARDIS level awesome, seriously. I know my world is supposed to be crumbling right now as all my suspicions are confirmed and I grow to hate the family that has lied to me my whole life but... I kind of like the color on me.

“Stop!”

 The desperate shout resonated through the room. Gabriel waited a few moments for the sound to die and the shock to leave his body. He’d been aware when Odin had entered the room, but the grief-stricken yell still surprised him. It was not the voice of a man who’d been caught in a lie, but of a father about to lose his child.

“Is there something you’d care to tell me, Allfather? Something you’ve neglected to mention these past hundreds of years?”

When silence was his response, Gabriel set the casket down and turned. His entire body was now consumed by a deep blue hue and his hereditary markings were etched into his skin. Odin was standing halfway down the stairs, likely having ceased his swift march at seeing his son in the exact position he’d dreadfully pictured when he had learned of his son’s presence in the vault.

Before his skin returned to its (boring) pale tone, Gabriel recalled the prejudices of his brother from earlier and asked, “Did you, perhaps, fail to clue me in on the minor detail that I’m a monster?”

Odin stepped down, trekking the final distance between them until they were parted by a single arm’s length, and met Gabriel’s burning eyes with his own tired gaze. “You are my son, not a monster. You are my son, and I love you, Loki.”  

Gabriel masked his wonder with a pull of his lips downwards, turning its appearance to disgust. “You’ve never said that to me before.” Not aloud. 

“I have not,” Odin conceded, bowing his head. “And in that I have done you a great disservice. Ever since I found you after the battle, ever since I held your infant body, so small as to fit within my combined palms, and ever since I spared the innocent spawn of my worst enemy, you have been my son. You have taught me so much, my child. My Loki.” He reached forward to pull Gabriel towards him, but froze when the archangel flinched back.

“Thor is you son,” Gabriel intoned, clenching his teeth until his gums bled to hold back a smile or a sob, he didn’t know which. “Frigga is your wife. You already have a family. You had no need, no right, to selfishly take me for your own. To make me into a trophy. A spoil of war.”

 Odin winced. “I…” ‘I saved you’. ‘I rescued you from abandonment and took you into my home and loved you’. ‘I don’t deserve your derision, you ungrateful swine’. All perfectly true statements. All possible responses. But non-archangel Loki wouldn’t know that, so neither will I. Say what you must, so I can rebut you and break our relationship for good. Gabriel turned away from the man and paced a few steps away. He needed some distance so he could catch the god when Odinsleep hit rather than be brought to the ground underneath the gorilla-sized body. 

“I am selfish.”    

Gabriel froze at the words; his entire body tensed despite his desire to appear unaffected at the admittance.

“I am selfish because I do not want to let you go. I never wanted you to find out the circumstances of your birth, but not because I am ashamed of you or keeping you here for a twisted brand of vengeance against Laufey. You are my son in every aspect beyond blood. Yet I was afraid.”

Curling his lips up in a snarl, Gabriel spun back around to face the weary god. “What is this? The Great Odin admitting a fault? To having a weakness, a fear?”

Ignoring his son’s taunts, Odin pressed on. “I was afraid that if you learned the truth of your parentage, you would run from me, from us. From you family—”

“That was not your decision to make!” Gabriel hissed. Please, please stop.

“The longer I waited to tell you, the more certain I became that it was too late. That I had waited too long to tell you the truth and you would hate me for it. Eventually your mother stopped insisting we inform you, perhaps harboring the same fears as I.”

“Stop it! Stop talking!”

“No one else knew of your origins, not even Thor, so I was left alone to ponder this dilemma. And I decided… I couldn’t… but I… would… lov—” Odin tumbled forward, Odinsleep arriving suddenly and unforgivingly. 

Gabriel jumped forward unnaturally quick, wrapping his arms around Odin’s midsection to keep him upright. Swinging the hulking man over his shoulder, Gabriel scanned the area for a decent place to set his father while cursing the decorators for the lack of furniture. He settled on propping the body gently against the stairs before calling the guards. Rumors of the abrupt Odinsleep spread throughout the realms the same night and were confirmed in the morning.

With Odin incapacitated and Thor banished, the role of leadership, much to horror of many Asgardians who’d either fallen prey to Gabriel’s “pranks” or heard exaggerated tales of them, fell to the second son. The first thing he did after being crowned was create a double to take his place at the unenthusiastic celebration banquet. The second was to pay a visit to Jotunheim.

Laufey, as Gabriel predicted, was sitting alone in the largest room of an ice castle he’d claimed as his own, a sad mockery of the grandness of Asgard’s Great Halls. As soon as the archangel became tangible, stepping out of the shadows as he did because he had an image to uphold now, the Frost Giant growled and launched himself out of his throne, drawing his sword.

“Who dares trespass in my abode?”

“I do,” Gabriel said simply, stepping into clear view of the king. He instantly disliked the greedy grin that overtook the blue face as red eyes took in the form of the well-known prince, but forced himself to continue. “I have a proposition for you.”

“Oh?” Laufey chuckled, prowling forward as he grazed the tip of his blade against the screeching stone floor. “And what gift could a Prince of Asgard offer me greater than your head mounted above my latrine pit, boy?”

“I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself properly. Forgive me.” Gabriel consciously dispelled the magic hiding his true form for the first time, causing Laufey to gasp at the abrupt change. “I am Loki Laufeyson, formerly Odinson. Current King of Asgard. My offer is simple; the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket of Ancient Winters.”

Once his negotiations with Laufey concluded successfully, Gabriel grabbed a family sized bag of starbursts from the Asgardian kitchens as a reward for not killing the miserable excuse of a jötunn before retiring to his chambers, ending the illusion of his double and taking its place on his bed. Now that his plot had started, there no going back. No second guessing. Gabriel allowed himself this one night to weep in the comfort of solitude. Tomorrow was his first official day burdened with a title he never wanted.

Over the next few weeks, Gabriel proved to be an overall ineffective King. He proposed several potentially beneficial ideas, such as reaching out to other realms with trade proposals so Asgard was not entirely reliant on their own crops, but the dislike of the council towards their new King and the general unrest in the kingdom saw none of them to fruition. Many also criticized Loki for his lack of ambition in following through with these ideas; the moment a council member spoke against him, the King wouldn’t insist on further discussion, instead cowering back to his chamber to sulk, the masses theorized. Frigga could offer little support to her youngest son as she spent nearly all of her time at her husband’s side. The unexpected Odinsleep had startled Asgard greatly, and the Queen was worried over the implications.

“What a bad King I am,” Gabriel hummed to himself as he reclined in his La-Z-Boy, eyes on the flat screen TV set above the fireplace he had rigged to record Thor’s life on Earth, “Spending half of my days stalking my banished brother instead of ruling. Bad Loki.” 

While Gabriel was interested in helping better Asgard, he had no intentions of doing it as King. He was merely waiting for Thor to prove himself worthy and regain Mjolnir so he could return and defeat the corrupt King Loki who was in league with the Frost Giants. He even stopped in once to visit Thor on Earth and goad him a bit. But there was one unforeseen roadblock in his plans.

Dr. Jane Foster.

A beautiful astrophysicist currently residing in New Mexico, she was the one to take in Thor and help him slowly adapt to being mortal. She’d been so accommodating, in fact, that Thor was beginning to settle down into the life he was creating as he fell in love with the brilliant scientist. Gabriel personally also adored the woman as he witnessed how she single-handedly humbled and then built back up his brother in mere weeks, something he’d failed to do in centuries.

He regretted the necessity of ruining his brother’s happiness. The two were so content together, and could likely continue to be so until the end of their days. But Gabriel—no, Asgard needed Thor. And he knew how to get the banished prince to return.

Thor held little to no regard for his own safety. But threaten his friends or family in front of him, and the result was a vengeful god.

To catalyze Thor’s return, Gabriel sent whispers through the air to the Warriors Three and Sif, encouraging them to seek Heimdall, assuring them he would be amenable to their escape, and find Thor to tell him of Loki’s unjust rule. Once Gabriel saw they’d made it through the Bifrost on the television, he rose from his seat and called on his grace.

Taking inspiration from the Transformer movies and a BDSM fantasy roleplay magazine conveniently laying around, Gabriel crafted a powerful automaton replicate of Odin’s Destroyer. He didn’t dare try to summon the actual model in case he couldn’t control it. Once complete, the tall metal man swerved his head about, confused.

Gabriel cleared his throat, catching the machine’s attention. “Can you understand me?”

“Yes. What can I do for you, Master?” it replied in a deceptively sultry female tone.

Gabriel considered the magazine next to him. “Maybe this was a bad idea. Oh well.” Returning his focus on the automaton, he ordered, “I am going to send you to Earth, at which point you will locate and attack this man.” He summoned an image of Thor. “These four may get in your way; have as much fun with them as you’d like, but remember to focus on Thor. Don’t stop until he has regained Mjolnir.” He showed the nodding machine Sif and each of the Warriors Three. “Now, this is very important, so do pay attention. Don’t. Kill. Anyone. Especially her.” Jane’s picture flashed briefly. “I’m sure there are some in the town that deserve it, but I’ve not done my research and I’m not one for innocent casualties. Minor property damage only. Got it?”

“Yes, Master. I will do as you command. I hope I can please you.” The automaton stood tall, ready to depart.

“Ah, one more thing? No talking. Like, at all.” Gabriel pushed his grace and sent the machine to a spot just outside of the town Thor was in. “Good Lord that was disturbing. Though those were some nice calves…”

Confident his creation would carry out its instructions, Gabriel swiftly set the stage he wanted Thor to return to. Using the Casket, he froze Heimdall for his “betrayal” directly in front of the Bifrost, leaving him there as a welcoming present for Thor. Afterwards, he hid the Casket on the opposite side of Asgard he’d told Laufey it would be as a precaution, then waited for him to find the secret passage connecting Jotunheim to the horse stables behind Odin’s palace Gabriel had informed him of. The passage the previous Frost Giants had used was sealed shortly after the failed coronation. He planned on intercepting the intruder before the blue giant set foot off of shat covered hay so he could ensure he was present when Laufey attempted to murder his father. Before that, Gabriel had to carefully time the encounter so Thor arrived before any damage was done.

Once his wards went off, Gabriel flew to the stables just in time to greet Laufey as he came stumbling into Asgard.

“Where is he?” were the first words out of his mouth.

Obviously not one for pleasantries. “He is inside his chambers, still under the thrall of Odinsleep,” Gabriel revealed, not needing to ask who the Frost Giant was referring too.

Laufey made to stalk past him, but Gabriel stepped in his path. “Wait. Before you go, I must ask. Why are you so intent on retrieving the Casket?” Honest curiosity underlied his bid for time. Although he’d offered it as a bargaining chip, Gabriel was still unsure of why the artifact was so wanted. He knew of its ability to freeze even powerful people such as Heimdall, but it didn’t kill its victims and could only handle one at a time, as far as Gabriel could decipher. Yet, Laufey had agreed to his proposal almost immediately once the Casket was mentioned.

The Frost Giant growled in agitation at being delayed, but explained nonetheless, “Here the Casket of Ancient Winters holds but a fraction of its power. But in Jotunheim, its homeland, the husk becomes a weapon of far more power than you can imagine. With it I can restore Jotunheim to its former glory, and then spread an eternal Ice Age throughout the realms, cementing our race’s rule.”

Gabriel blinked. “I must admit, you lost me at that last part. With Odin gone you have a chance at peace; yet, you wish to plunge your people into another war they may not survive?”

Laufey snarled, “The Jötnar were made to conquer and dominate all. Odin has merely delayed the inevitable. We are a powerful race that allows no crack in our armies. The Casket will allow us to achieve our destiny.”

A cold pit formed in Gabriel’s stomach as he listened to the creature whose sperm created his host body preach supremacist bullshit. He had known why Laufey abandoned his son, had thought he’d accepted it as another of the infinite reasons he hated most sentient beings on principle, but hearing him say it to his face… Gabriel knew he shouldn’t ask, but the question slipped out anyway. “Is that why you left me alone to die? Because I was… a crack?”   

Laufey raised a scared blue eyebrow, as though surprised Gabriel even had to ask, unnoticing or uncaring of the note of danger in Gabriel’s tone. “Sacrifices must be made for greatness, of course. You were weak, unworthy of my attention. But now you are useful, and together—”

“He was only a child!” Gabriel exploded. “An infant with potential you can’t even imagine. How could you abandon your own son to the wrath of the elements and your enemies just because he was born a little small? He was weak at the time and needed your protection! If it wasn’t for me, he’d likely have died completely that night, unknown and unwanted.”

Gabriel took delight as he saw growing horror cloud Laufey’s eyes as his passionate rant was punctuated by his wings unfurling and extending from his back, creating a (rather flattering) silhouette of six more appendages behind him. 

“You’re… you’re not my son.”

“No,” Gabriel grinned, baring his flat teeth as though they were Fenrir’s impressive fangs. “I’m glad you understand the situation. You don’t have a son. You lost the right to call yourself a father a long time ago. And you lost the right to not be killed by an avenging archangel with celestial-level Daddy issues.” 

Before Laufey could scream or fight or beg, Gabriel unleashed his grace and smit him where he stood, wiping the stain form existence. Staring in satisfaction at the slightly blackened ground where Laufey once stood and lived, Gabriel’s smirk slowly fell to a frown.

“Damn, look what you made me do! I still needed you; you were supposed to die after people saw us conspiring to kill Odin together… hard to be too upset about smiting you, though. Just wish I hadn’t lost my temper and had taken my time.”

“All right!” Gabriel spun himself around and stalked from the stables, absently running his foot across the enochian writing he’d drawn in the dirt when first setting up his wards and clearing the evidence of his crime as he left. “New plan! I could create another copy of Laufey, but… this could work too. Lucifer didn’t immediately go homicidal maniac against his family. No, first he tried to convince Father he was right by rebelling a bit. So, what if I’m not searching for revenge, but approval from my adoptive family? Yes, that’s much more believable. I’ve killed Laufey, and I have the Bifrost under my control—I can destroy Jotunheim.” Gabriel whooped, grabbing a horse that had trotted away from the stables after the Frost Giant’s entrance and mounting him. He led the horse around the palace towards the Bifrost, taking the long route rather than flying so he’d run into Thor on the way there. “Screw only killing one Frost Giant, Loki goes big or goes home: attempted genocide is perfect! I should have thought of this in the first place.”   

“Loki!”

Gabriel swiveled his head back towards the palace, surprised to see Thor flying towards him, hammer first. He must have regained Mjolnir sooner than Gabriel had expected and gone to check on Odin. Maybe telling him Father is dead was too much…

Wanting Thor to follow him but not ready for a full confrontation, Gabriel materialized a staff as an ostentatious median for his magic and used it to blast Thor from the air. His aim was true and he was left alone for the remainder of his ride to the Bifrost.

“You’re evil.” You need to be evil. “You hate Thor.” You love Thor like you’ve loved all of your brothers, so you have to hate him. “Odin is not your father.” He’s better than your other two “fathers”, God and Angry Smurf. “You’ve got a thing for horned helmets, because all supervillains need a stereotypical costume to set the mood.” Heavens above, I look like an idiot.   

Gabriel arrived at the Bifrost and ended his travesty of a pep talk. 

Sensing Thor’s approach, he wasted no time in activate the Bifrost. As soon as a gateway was opened into Jotunheim, Gabriel moved the building full of Frost Giants in the gate’s path several miles north before the Bifrost sent a burst of destructive power directly at the now empty space. The air around the beam froze as it was exposed to the freezing temperature of Jotunheim, forming a decorative sculpture in the center of the Bifrost Gabriel had to stop himself from marveling at. Given enough time, Jotunheim would be torn apart.

“There is no point in trying to stop me now,” Gabriel said, spotting Thor, who had finally caught up, staring in horror at him from the entrance of the Bifrost. “It has already been started and can’t be stopped.”

Thor jumped towards the iced-covered center of the Bifrost, but Gabriel once again threw him back with his staff. He suppressed a winced when Thor’s body hit the ground hard.

“Loki, this is madness! Please, cease your needless destruction,” Thor pleaded, immediately rising.

“I already told you, no one can stop it,” Gabriel blatantly lied, gliding around the ice sculpture. Despite his reluctance to cause his brother harm, he knew he needed to goad Thor into a fight so Gabriel could be defeated. Supervillianism 101.

“I don’t know why you are so against this, Thor,” he continued. “I am merely disposing of these vermin in mass quantity, using the most humane method possible.”

“You can’t wipe out an entire race!” Thor denied, appalled.

“They are monsters. I am merely doing what is necessary to keep Asgard safe, taking measures everyone else is too afraid to. Like a true King.”

Thor smiled sadly. “You sound just like I did, Loki. Remember? I said that the Jötnar were monsters, beasts, before, but you… you tried to help me see reason. And now I must help you. I don’t know what happened while I was gone, but this is not like you at all. Please, brother, we can find a way to set things right again, together.”

Gabriel cursed himself mentally. Odin may believe his rant about Frost Giants being monsters to be sincere, but he’d shared too much of his true beliefs with Thor for him to be so easily fooled. He hadn’t wanted to use the secret adoption card so brazenly, so early, but it was his best hope.

“I am not your brother,” Gabriel hissed. “I never was. But with this, I can prove myself a worthy heir and remain on the throne regardless.”

“You have never wanted the throne,” Thor roared in distress. “I don’t understand this, brother. Have you changed so much? Just—”

“Don’t presume to know me!” Gabriel shot another blast from his staff towards Thor, desperate to end the confusion of his brother. Accept that I’m evil!

They traded blows, Thor no longer holding back. A strike from Mjolnir sent both of them flying out of the Bifrost and onto the bridge, creating even more danger as either edge threatened a deadly oblivion if they fell. 

“Is this all you’re capable of?” Gabriel taunted, darting out of the hammer’s path. “Swinging your weapon while a realm burns behind you? The Mighty Thor, they call you, yet your strength can’t save anyone now.” Take. The. Bait.

Gabriel braced his staff as Thor raised his hammer for another hit, but instead of aiming for his opponent, he slammed Mjolnir down onto the Bifrost Bridge. The jarring ripples nearly unbalanced Gabriel as the bridge began to splinter; what sent him to his knees was the unexpected consequence of Thor’s first hit. Odin had awakened.

Thor landed eight more mighty hits before Gabriel came to his senses. He had to put in his token protest.

“Stop! If you break the bridge, you’ll never see Jane again.”

Despite his, in Gabriel’s opinion, extremely compelling protest, Thor continued his barrage. Gabriel leaped towards Thor once he knew it was too late, and a final blow shattered the bridge, destroying the Bifrost. The blowback threw Thor and Gabriel towards the abyss between worlds. Gabriel pulled on his grace to direct them near the familiar figure he saw standing on the brink of the broken bridge.

Before they fell over the edge, Thor grabbed onto the staff Gabriel was holding, and Odin caught Thor by the ankle. Silence ensued as father and sons reunited in the most awkward situation Gabriel could imagine. And he’s thought about it. Too much. The magazine had only kept him entertained so long.

Gabriel stared up into Odin’s eyes and was resigned to see what he interpreted as betrayal, begrudging disgust and budding hatred. He knew in that moment that his entire plan had been successful: Thor was redeemed and set back on the path of righteousness, and in exchange Loki had fallen. But Gabriel would happily accept whatever punishment or imprisonment he was subjected to. Perhaps he could convince them to let him repair the damage to the Bifrost as part of his atonement, and Thor could achieve the perks of both Midgard and Asgard with Gabriel’s sacrifice of both. It was a comforting thought, at least.

Just as Gabriel was going to begin climbing the staff connecting him to Thor and safety, his mind was assaulted. Inky blackness swarmed his vision and weakened his muscles. There was a familiarity in the mist the screamed at Gabriel; he recognized it, though he couldn’t immediately recall a name, in a memory from his time as an archangel. Could something have followed me here?

Gabriel could vaguely hear the urgent voice of his brother, but his other senses had mostly faded along with his sight, leaving him to obsess over that last horrifying thought. He panicked and instinctively hid his grace, tired as it was from constant use and the battle with Thor, deep within him by placing it in a temporary hibernation, protecting it from the wrongness invading every crevice of his being within reach. He refused to reveal what he was to this creature when he was weakened and unable to properly defend himself. His magic was left to fight the invasion alone.

It was overcome immediately, forcing Gabriel unconscious and his grip to slip from the staff.  

 

Chapter Text

Gabriel’s earliest memory was of a nose.

The nose was blurry, but undeniably pretty. Delicate with youth while still strong and prominent, it was sheathed in flawless pale skin and floated mere inches from Gabriel’s own protruding feature. Thoroughly enchanted with this introduction to life, he balled up his fists in preparation before reaching out with his left hand, the one closer to his objective, and grasping at the nose. He was triumphant.

A loud noise startled Gabriel, mainly because it hadn’t come from his prize. He directed his gaze away from the nose that had dominated his attention and his reality expanded.

Attached to the appendage still claimed by his hand was more smooth skin. Going upwards, he saw two wide brown eyes, thick lines of hair above both eyes, and longer, more numerous hairs spilling over from the top of the head. Enchanted, Gabriel directed his gaze down. There he encountered a new treasure. 

A mouth. Soft and pink with white teeth in the center. But none of that was what made Gabriel so happy. What gave him pleasure was the parabolic shape it held. The face was smiling. At him.

Gabriel smiled back, and decided to forget the nose. The whole person leaning over him was his. 


 

There was a purple face with deep lines carved into it, as though the flesh was made of stone. The deepest line, his mouth, was grinning at Gabriel. Gabriel hated that grin and wanted his brother back.


 

When God created the archangels, he’d intended for them to be brothers, loving and caring towards one another. And he succeeded, for the most part. But just as God had his favorite, the siblings also favored a certain brother. Michael, the oldest, raised the second brother, Lucifer. And while he loved his perfect younger brother, he found the third archangel, Raphael, to be less demanding of attention and more passive. He therefore sought the companionship of Raphael more frequently than that of Lucifer; Michael could immerse himself in his books and hold amiable conversation more easily in the former’s presence.

Lucifer experienced some loneness over his brother’s favoritism, but the feeling vanished when he heard of the fourth and final archangel’s impending arrival and his assignment as caretaker. He was thrilled by the idea of having his own little brother to teach and care for as Michael had done to him and Raphael. His excitement was so great that he stayed by his Father’s side in the final stages as He completed crafting Lucifer’s brother. When the process was finished, Lucifer rushed towards the tiny new archangel and placed both hands on the stone table so he could get a better look.

He stayed with his brother until the small being opened his eyes, revealing a green that took Lucifer’s breath away. Then he reached out and grabbed Lucifer’s nose, causing him to huff out a laugh of delight as he realized his new sibling wouldn’t be like the rule-stickler Michael or the quiet Raphael. No, Gabriel was going to be Lucifer’s pupil, and together they were going to be the life of Heaven.  


 

When Gabriel could next see through his own eyes, he was greeted with his staff—tainted, wrong, something is wrong with it—pressing against a man’s chest. He had the feeling he’d seen this man, this human, before—perhaps while he’d been stalking Thor—as he watched the other’s alert, clear brown eyes crystalize into icy blue that reflected a blue glint back.

But that wasn’t right. Gabriel could clearly remember Thor’s words from so long ago with an accuracy only an angel could pull off with any plausibility: “Your eyes shine alive like the forests of Alfheim, green as dewed leaves in morning’s light”. Poetic and stupid, just like his brother use to be. Green eyes. But the blue… the cold impersonal blue… the pretty blue in skin he liked but didn’t because connotation reasons…

The black twitched in his mind, likely beginning to notice its host awake. Gabriel dove back under the cover of unconscious.


 

After his “birth”, Gabriel’s earliest memories were all hazed together under one generalization: he was in Paradise. With only his Father and his three older brothers as company, Gabriel was largely free from responsibility and could frolic and prank to his heart’s content. There was little to distinct each moment from the previous or the next. Perhaps he’d fall prey to one of Michael’s long-winded lectures, but shortly after Lucifer would find him sulking and whisk him away to flying lessons—one of Gabriel’s favorite activities—effectively canceling out the negative until it joined the blissful blur.

This cycle wasn’t broken until Father was faced with a problem he couldn’t, even in all of his encompassing power, defeat alone. An adversary so strong appeared that the archangels, for the first time since their creation, were called to action. The training they’d undergone despite the peace they lived in was put to the test. Michael’s strength, Raphael’s endurance, Lucifer’s wisdom, and Gabriel’s strategy were employed against an opponent singularly known as the Darkness.

Gabriel’s monotonous paradise shattered when he met his aunt. 


The next time Gabriel could see, he was about to kill dozens of people. He didn’t know where he was or who these people were, but that didn’t matter. Gabriel was a murderer—as a Trickster, many of his pranks ended in death or deaths as the situation called for it. But he wasn’t Gabriel now. He was violated, invaded, not me, not me, not himself, and he needed to minimize the damage Not Loki was doing. But his grace hadn’t yet fully recovered, and he was beginning to piece together a horrifying picture of who it could be that followed him to this new world. He needed more time to recover.

So, a bit too quickly and recklessly, Gabriel swiped an undetectable amount of his grace across the people before him, swapping them for replicate creations of his own and depositing the actual humans—and one dog— in Hawaii. Then he was gone again.


 

There was a battle; he could remember that much. One morning, Father had called his four children to him, for the first time requesting they bring their weapons with them on a day not scheduled for a match or training or any other kind of practice. Father was not waiting for them in the large field usually reserved for their meetings. Instead, Lucifer, the brother most closely in tune with His wishes, led them to the war room. At least, that’s what Gabriel assumed the room’s purpose was. He’d never been in there before and was fairly sure it hadn’t existed until God had need of it, for he’d explored every inch of Heaven by that point.

Father was silent when they entered. He sat in a chair behind a wide table scattered with bound papers, a familiar contemplative figure among unfamiliar disarray. Gabriel caught Michael’s index figure twitching by his side from the corner of his eye and knew that his oldest brother wanted nothing more than to categorize and shelve the books. But now was not the time.

Finally, He spoke.

“My sons. For your existence thus far, you’ve been granted a peaceful life. The freedom to do what you wish is a powerful gift, and one that comes at a great price. Your training.”

Lucifer frowned. “But Father, training has never been anything associated with a price to me or my brothers. We thrive with the opportunity you’ve given us to grow in strength, both physically and mentally.”

Father sighed, a mournful sound Gabriel had never heard from Him before that set him on edge. If he thought something was off before, then now he was certain.

“Despite your perception, it is a price, for you have no choice. You must train and become stronger as your power is tied to the purpose of your creation.”

Gabriel perked up at this. Their purpose. He’d never had a clear understanding of the why behind his and his brothers’ existence. Was it because Father had been lonely? Did he sneeze one day and the particular shape and consistency of the residue gave him inspiration for Michael’s form. For all that his older brothers talked about their grand purpose, Gabriel had no idea as to what that purpose could be. 

Father went on to explain to them of his sister, a being even more ancient than him called the Darkness, and the evil she was spreading through the universe. The archangels were created to assist Him in defeating the Darkness, and now she was making her move against them.

The battle began that night. Gabriel didn’t dare allow himself to forget the disfiguring grin twisting the black smoke of his aunt’s face as she charged at his family. The next century of bloodshed was tinted under a red haze in Gabriel’s memory.


 

Mjolnir was speeding towards his face, and Gabriel was startled enough by the implication that his brother was trying to killed him that “Brother?” slipped from his lips. He regretted the exclamation immediately as he was pulled under once more—the hammer’s swing paused in shock, and Gabriel was sure that would cost Thor against Not Loki.


 

They failed. The Darkness could not be stopped. Older than both Father and Death, she was too strong for them to defeat. But Father was determined that if they couldn’t defeat her, they would lock her up when she was weakened by their millennia-long bombardment where she could do no more harm.

In this, they succeeded. Afterwards, Michael was rewarded for his service with the title of Heaven’s Defender, Raphael with the Healer, and Gabriel with God’s Messenger.

To hold His sister, Father created a containment rune, later to be called The Mark of Cain, which served as both lock and key for the Darkness. To ensure its safety, He gave it to His most beloved son and most trusted lieutenant: Lucifer.


 

“Puny god.”

The words were like an aphrodisiac to Gabriel, as was the pain in his back and his head and, well, everywhere. Whatever had caused the pain also jarred the Darkness in him, and it was with supreme effort that Gabriel resisted taking the opportunity to forcefully expel the parasite from him. He’d put so much into hiding himself, and he was determined it wouldn’t be in vain. So just a little longer, a little longer

The Darkness burst out of the Asgardian body, past the startled figures coming towards him, and out into the sky. Loki the Invader had lost and was of no more use.

Gabriel payed no mind to the voices yelling around him, nor the rough hands that dragged him up, nor the butt of a gun that was jammed into his back. He allowed himself to be captured, muzzled, and imprisoned, unaware even of Thor’s confused, yet hopeful eyes on him.

Finally, he could breathe. And now, he could plan.

Chapter Text

The cell they locked him in was pretty. Elegant. Fit for royalty, however disgraced. The furniture was well-crafted and arched, dark in color to suit Gabriel’s usual taste in interior decor. The gold-tinted glass panes that replaced two of the walls glittered like ornate extensions of the cell’s color scheme rather than the powerful containment and magic-dampening wards they were.

It was, quite literally, a gilded prison.

Gabriel loved it.

He had the room to himself, an isolation technique commonly implemented in Asgard against the incarcerated. The spell work and physical walls kept him in, yes; but, more importantly, it kept everyone else out. Odin hadn’t assembled the tribunal for a hearing yet, despite tradition dictating a swift trial and sentencing for war crimes. Instead, Gabriel had been dragged to the dungeons the moment his feet landed on Asgardian soil, before he’d even fully regained consciousness, and thrown into this (comfortable) cell (equipped with an orthopedic mattress). That had been five days ago.

In that time, Gabriel began the arduous process of reorganizing his body and mind from the fractured mess the Darkness had left him. He’d only had time to lock away his powers and memories before the personal invasion; the other components that made Gabriel Gabriel were left out of the toy box in the open and were recklessly played with and then abandoned broken on the floor. Now, when he invoked a happy memory (killing Laufey, introducing Thor to industrial-strength stress balls, Reese’s cups finally making the leap to bite-sized), his right leg kicked out and his mouth twisted up on one side and down on the other. The lack of control he exhibited over his own basic motor and cerebral functions worried Gabriel.

Thor put through requests to visit often. He sought to counsel with his brother. Gabriel stayed sequestered in his cell, resolved in his silence. He refused to talk to his brother while still unable to smile without mimicking a faulty DC Joker doll™.

While his subconscious oversaw the repair of his self, Gabriel reviewed what he knew, what he needed to know, and what he could do about it. New York was a wreck. Although he didn’t see much beyond the few horrific glimpses he’d managed while under the Darkness’s possession, the urgency in which he was detained hinted at worse crimes than turning humans’ eyes blue. And the fault for the damage lay in large with an enemy this universe had no knowledge of and no defense against.

Somehow, the Darkness must have been released from its bindings. The only possible explanation Gabriel could think of involved the Mark. After Lucifer fell, he’d relinquished the curse of the Mark to Cain as part of God’s punishment against the firstborn for murdering his younger brother. If Cain had been killed, if the Mark had been transferred again, this time to someone with no idea what they were carrying, then perhaps—the Winchesters. If something went wrong on a cosmic, a-world-is-about-to-end level, Sam and Dean were definitely in the middle of it. They didn't know when to keep their unusually handsome mugs out of other entity’s business. The brothers could’ve had a hand in killing Cain, or done it themselves, and the Mark would be passed on, leaving a few precious moments when the binding had no owner to ground the ancient magic. Given the slightest chance, the Darkness would’ve immediately escaped to a new universe, far away from God and the Archangels, the only beings capable of killing her. Here, she could do whatever she fancied without the threat of her family’s wrath. Her blatant disregard for humanity, a race which didn’t even exist during her time and probably seemed like God’s latest toy she can step on, coupled with whatever madness brewed during her millennia of imprisonment would be able to run free in a toxic mixture of death and destruction. The Darkness would be unstoppable.

Except she hadn’t escaped them all. She hadn’t fled far enough. Gabriel made this universe his home long before she got here, and he wouldn’t allow his demented aunt the chance to steal another home, another family, from him. Even if the beings of this universe didn’t know it yet, they had a champion to fight for them.

And Gabriel was going to get on with that fight as soon as his left hand stopped punching his face every time he sneezed. In allergy season, too.


 

Gabriel’s first escape went entirely undetected.

It was merely a reconnaissance mission. He only had so much information to work with due to his “slumber” during the months leading up to the Battle of New York, as the invasion was dubbed on every news channel on Earth, and the battle itself. His aunt must have been up to quite a bit of homicidal mischief if the climax of the Loki episode involved the attempted destruction of a major American city and the typical world-domination scheme. But there had to be more. There was always more with her.  

His first mission was to match a name to the purple face from his memory. Whether a co-conspirator, an enemy, or a victim of the Darkness, the creature was his best lead.

He made his move two weeks into his imprisonment. After slipping from his cell once the final meal of the day was served, Gabriel flew through the cosmos, fanning his grace ahead between rocky bodies in the Kuiper belt, through moons orbiting their planets, far outside of the Milky Way in search of the face. The being himself was elusive, either located beyond Gabriel’s scope or hidden from his sight. His image, however, was imprinted in the minds of many.

“Mad Titan,” “cruel dictator,” “power-crazed warlord,” “Dad”—Gabriel halted his search, focusing on the one who called the creature kin. Bitterness and resentment, a single-minded goal for revenge, a Luphomoid and a cyborg, so young when she was enhanced—pain, pain, “Dad, please stop!”—so much innocence lost in fights she lost and body part she lost and herself she lost. The inadequacy was familiar, for God could only have one favorite and the fourth child never had any hope of overtaking his older brothers. And seeing a stranger in the mirror—Gabriel couldn’t even remember what his original face looked like. If he didn’t have his grace, couldn’t see the pure light that was him, he’d forget he was more than cold Jötunn flesh and fabulous black hair. Gabriel drew closer to her, the proximity allowing him a deeper access to her mind.

The daughter, Nebula, was an important figure in the purple face’s—Thanos’s—army, his right-hand woman since the favorite sister defected. She had been by his side, witnessing his dealings—there. Gabriel found his body, glowy blue eyes on full incandescence. Wearing Loki’s embarrassing Asgardian battle armor, standing pleasantly on an asteroid in front of Thanos’s throne, shredded bodies floating behind her. His aunt smiled with his face and asked if Thanos truly thought he was a god.

Gabriel pulled out of Nebula’s mind, drawing the memory and others involving his aunt with him for further analysis. In their place, he left a few snippets of his own memories: the warmth of Frigga’s smile after he cast a spell perfectly on the first try, the spark of competition coupled with affection when he and Thor raced their horses, and the respect for Odin’s strong rule and love for a son that wasn’t his through blood, always present despite his reserved expression. 

His mission accomplished, Gabriel returned to his dark cell. Nebula remained on her bed of rocks; the nightmares that usually plagued her sleep were a little less awful that night, and when she awoke her biotic joints ached a little less where they were fused to her remaining nerves.


 

Gabriel’s second escape was really more of a coffee run.

Along with colorful candies, caffeine was an addiction Gabriel proudly embraced during the later years of his long incognito tenure as Loki on Earth before he actually became Loki. Nebula’s memories took a while to review, and once he had the information sorted into manila files of “boring,” “probs important,” and “READ NOW, DAWG,” Gabriel decided he deserved his sugar and caffeine fix. His cell didn’t have the proper plotting atmosphere.

Popping into a lovely local coffee shop in Wisconsin was easier than it should have been. After his first “vacation,” Gabriel had expected some sort of backlash. But it appeared no one noticed his absence. The wards had nothing on his grace. So he repeated his breakout three days later, slipping from his cell in Asgard at the beginning of night—which conveniently correlated perfectly with the open-at-dawn policy of the Big Black Bean. A long dark trench coat and reflective shades gave Gabriel a stereotypical look too ridiculous to be truly suspicious, and his waitress served him with a sleepy smile and left him alone at a booth in the back.

Gabriel sipped his black coffee, dumped eight sugar packets into it, sipped his coffee again, and sighed appreciatively. Then he opened the third file and got to work.

Thanos had provided the Darkness with an army of the Chitauri, an alien race dictated by a hive mindset, to conquer Earth. In exchange, she was to deliver him the Tesseract, a powerful energy source and the origin of the blue eye parlor trick. The Tesseract contained a blue shiny rock, which powered the weapon. Thanos was after a similar glowing rock—purple this time—and was making plans to retrieve it. Gabriel made a note in the margins of that page: fuck with evil scheme—chance for talking, machine gun-wielding raccoon with tragic backstory wish-fulfillment? The words “infinity stone” were overheard briefly by Nebula, but not in enough context to be useful. The memories did allow him more insight into his aunt’s actions, although her motives weren’t yet clear.

The Darkness must have been looking for a vessel to inhabit and make a deal with Thanos. On the bright side, this likely meant she bought Gabriel’s performance, taking Loki as an easy, believable target. While his plan to pull an anti-Lucifer on Thor hadn’t intended to project the facade of a malleable, power-hungry fallen prince to anyone outside his family, Gabriel was grateful nonetheless. If she had gone into anyone else, their mind would have plunged into insanity, a bottomless pit of madness from which they’d never emerge. And that was assuming their bodies didn’t immediately disintegrate from the pressure of a supreme primordial entity in them. Gabriel himself was still fairly mixed up, even after almost a dozen days of rest. However, there were still too many unanswered questions left

She’d already begun wreaking havoc, which aligned with her typical MO of destruction, usually catalyzed by boredom. But rather than feeding on humans that had the misfortune of stumbling across her in a mood or vaporizing buildings that stood in her light, she was orchestrating a plot. She used Loki as a pawn, made a deal with Thanos, and then actually followed through. Why? Why bother inhabiting a body to help one as insignificant as his aunt would think Thanos? In Gabriel’s experience, she would think all of this beneath her. Deception was a tool for those who didn’t have the power to do what they wanted, who were creations of a more powerful being.

He needed to know more. But the Darkness was gone, their presences hidden from each other by their natures. There was no way for him to track her. And Father knows staying in his cell wasn’t going to get him any closer to finding her. He needed to be out there, mobile, if he had any chance of running into his aunt. Gabriel ripped apart a blank page from his notes, tiny piece by tiny piece, staring at the white space that contained his current plan.

“...clean-up crews are still working on clearing away debris from the alien invasion that took place almost two weeks ago, but most of the contractors have been hired to deal with the most high-profile areas affected.”

Gabriel cocked his head towards the small television set in the front corner of the store, twitching his pinky to increase the volume. A national news channel, currently covering the situation in New York City. Scenes ranging from catastrophe to mild property damage played on the screen.

“Many neighborhoods and streets that felt the impact from the peripheral have yet to receive any assistance from the government or Stark Industries, which has donated hundreds of thousands to the relief effort. These areas, mainly damaged by stray alien parts or actions from the Avengers themselves, must rely on volunteers and their own residents to repair their sidewalks and buildings. For information on how to donate your money or time to this cause, please contact…”

Materializing a pen, Gabriel copied down the phone number. He now had a way to occupy his time.


 

Gabriel’s escapes picked up a rhythm after his visit to the coffee shop.

Since being locked up, he’d reflected on his possession obsessively; yet, he’d failed to consider the mess he’d left behind on Earth beyond its general existence. Specifically, the aftermath of the battle. While he got to be spirited away to the grand halls in Asgard of which even the dungeons were included, millions of New Yorkers had to deal with the trauma of an attack from a sci-fi film and the ruin it left of their city. Whoops.

In light of the fact that it was, technically, his body that’d led the invasion, Gabriel decided he should do his part to fix it. Every night for the next three weeks, he fled from his cell to New York City. Gabriel no longer worried about being caught away from his cell. One night about a week in he’d returned to his cell, stretched his arms, and looked up to see two blank faces staring back at him from the halls of the dungeon. He had smiled brilliantly at his two childhood guards and promptly fell asleep on the floor. Apparently there weren’t many volunteers to watch over the “villainous fake-Asgardian ex-prince,” so they were assigned to his cell every night and were already trained not to tattle.

Once Gabriel arrived on Earth, around seven in the morning on the east coast, he began helping and didn’t stop until late in the evening, when the night shift would end in Asgard. Nobody seemed to recognize him, which was a relief since he’d forgotten to slap on a glamour before joining the relief effort. The horns and armor were apparently what stuck in people’s minds, and his faded jeans and hipster jacket served as adequate camouflage. He rebuilt and plastered walls that had been knocked down, installed windows into blown-out storefronts, served cool lemonade to the women and one nephew knitting blankets to donate, and entertained the neighborhood children with mostly age-appropriate jokes and magic tricks while the elementary school was being reconstructed.  Gabriel was relieved to be of use again, and only pulled one justice stunt against a teenager that had no right calling anyone “puny” with what he had between his legs. It felt only fitting to let Jormangundr play in the boy’s gym bag; show him what a real serpent looks like.

“Hey, Gabe, got a minute?”

Gabriel lowered his hands as he glanced over at the call of his “assumed” name. The kids around him groaned in protest at the interruption of their puppet show. The evening wasn’t yet dark enough nor their dollar store flashlight bright enough for the effects to be very good, but the children loved Gabriel’s differentiated voices for each character and wild, supernatural plots.

“Don’t worry lil’ dudes, we’ll pick back up with Sam and Dean and their wacky adventures tomorrow. Spoiler: things start to get angelic. Now go home! Eat dinner! Save your dessert for me!” Gabriel waved to the group of children as they stood and began walking back to their homes.

“Ha, yeah right Gabe!”

“Mine!”

“Buh-bye!”   

“So,” Gabriel stood and made a show of popping his joints like any other man in his early thirties who’d been sitting on the ground for too long. “What’s up Collin?”

A young man approached him, one half of a newly married couple that’d just moved to Queens a few months before the battle. Collin had oriented Gabriel when he first wandered onto their street a week ago with an address from the woman on the phone and an eagerness to help. He’d shown him the projects that needed the most work and which were most urgent and pointed out the old ladies who would squeeze his butt check if he came too close.

“Imani and I were wondering if you’d like to come by for dinner tonight. We really appreciate all the help you’ve been, with the building and the kids. You’ve got a real gift, and you’re giving us all your time. It doesn’t seem right to let you leave to wherever it is you’re staying just like that. Let us feed you, at least.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I have to decline. Got places to be, people to hide from. If I wait too long my carriage will turn into a pumpkin. Mmmm, pie…”

Collin grinned. The other man looked older than him by a decade, yet he had a young soul that shined through every time he interacted with someone. Gabe was also a hard worker, and they were lucky he’d been assigned to their neighborhood. The flower shop across from his apartment building was hit the worse, yet it would be ready to reopen in a few days in a large part thanks to Gabe’s insistence that if everyone worked on the shop first, their street would smell a lot nicer and they’d be much more productive.

“Well then, I guess I’ll try again tomorrow. Can’t keep saying no.”

Gabriel grinned. “I always enjoy a challenge. See ya tomorrow!”

Spinning on his heels, Gabriel began walking in the direction he’d claimed as his temporary residence: east. There were probably hotels somewhere in this direction, but he always just strolled for a few blocks and then used his grace to return to his cell. The bustle of the city was a pleasant contrast to the dead quiet. The obvious presence of people clammed him, lending him a sense of anonymity.

A shrill scream shattered Gabriel’s peace.

In a blink, Gabriel was at the base of the alley the scream had come from. Deeper in, two men had a woman cornered against a wall. A glint reflected on metal in the dim lighting of the falling sun.

Reaching for the chain suddenly around his neck, Gabriel was about to blow on the rape whistle that would eject something way cooler than a loud noise when one of the men turned towards him. His eyes were completely black.

Gabriel had done his homework when he began exploring Earth. Most supernatural monsters from his home universe did not exist in this version; no angels (besides himself), no vampires or werewolves in the bite-and-turn kind of species, and no demons. Yet the two men before him were undoubtedly infected with some demonic energy. And if it didn’t come naturally from this world…

They must be agents of the Darkness.

Gabriel swiftly dropped to the ground when a dagger came hurling towards his head with deadly kill-y efficiency. He picked up the first thing his hand encountered—a McDonald's Happy Meal box stuffed with wrappers—and chucked it at the man still standing in front of the woman. It bounced harmlessly off him, but both sets of black eyes were now firmly planted on him.

“Run,” Gabriel hissed to the woman. With only a moment of paralysis, she fled past the immobile men, then Gabriel, still crouched on the littered asphalt, and out of the alley.

“You again.” The voice of the man closest to him was feminine, obviously manufactured by one who didn’t fully grasp the workings of the human body and societal gender expectations. 

“Have we met?” Gabriel asked, choosing to play stupid until proven smart.

With a swift grin, the man pounced on Gabriel, the knife in his hand elongating into a wicked-looking dagger. Gabriel rolled to the side to avoid the strike—and right into the dagger of the other man, who’d materialized to his right, hand and weapon held out for Gabriel’s own momentum to do all the work. His magic burst out on instinct, knocking the two men back.

Gabriel stared down at the bleeding wound in his side. Poisoned. The blade had been coated in something that was eating away at his magic faster than it could regenerate. His grace could combat the poison if he let it, but… Gabriel glanced at the men. Knocked out. Almost definitely still possessed. If he got up and walked away, they would know. She would know. The poison was specifically designed to kill an Asgardian magic user. Shrugging it off would be a sure sign that he was not what he was supposed to be.

The human woman had gotten away. She was safe. If he allowed himself to fight back, if his aunt learned of him, one thing was certain: The Darkness would tear Asgard and Midgard apart hunting Gabriel. No one would be safe until she was dead, this time for good.

Footsteps and voices signaled two approaching individuals to the alley. Hopefully they were good Samaritans who would get him to a hospital and give him an excuse to be not dead. If not… he’d figure it out. Gabriel was fairly decent at lying.

Loathing the necessity of once more playing the hapless victim in the Darkness’s game, Gabriel willingly succumbed to his injury. The vision-going-black sequence was now totally overrated in his opinion.


 

Steve and Sam were enjoying a late jog, a respite from the craziness of the last week. SHIELD turned out to be a front for HYDRA, Bucky was alive, but a brainwashed, enhanced assassin, and Tony had asked/forced them to move into the Avengers Tower full time since Washington was a wash.

The unmistakable sound of a fight drew them from their path and towards a very familiar sight; a man that should be locked away in Asgard. A man they’d been asking Thor about ever since he shared his suspicions of the Tesseract’s mind control affecting the one who wielded it as well.

 

Chapter Text

As embarrassing as fainting could be to the usual individual with a healthy amount of dignity and self-worth, it did prove a valuable tool for entertainment and information to the average archangel unburdened by such restrictions. An unconscious body slumped in a heap on the ground of a dingy alley was hardly threatening. Most people, especially those who took the liberty of pronouncing themselves “heroes,” would react with pity to such as sight, and this was a fact Gabriel relied on with relish for quite a few of his “lessons.” However, there were also the occasional human dumpsters who see a limp body as an invitation, and too many times Gabriel had awoken tied down to a table, already minus a spleen and two kidneys. Those “lessons” usually then deteriorated into improv and were the most fun exercises by far. If someone takes three of your organs, isn’t it only fair you take three of theirs?

Therefore, when Gabriel awoke from his latest rendition of damsel in distress—now with gender bending for the modern audience, ‘cause male damsels are PC—he sent out a bit of his grace to assess the situation.

The sterile white setting was expected—white walls, white sheets, white rails on the bed—and the handcuffs binding him to each of the rails were also understandable to a certain degree. Unknown man equals unknown danger. Even the most kind of heart who would call for an ambulance at the sight of an injured stranger couldn’t and shouldn’t vouch for the stranger’s character or state of mind.

But the familiar blonde oaf fast asleep in a plastic chair that squeezed his massive figure in an unusual and fascinating embrace next to the bed was an unwelcome surprise. Yay for brotherly support, but WTF to the logistics of the situation. Thor was supposed to be in Asgard doing princely things, not pretzeled in Midgard.

Pushing his grace further out, Gabriel mentally groaned when he recognized the building he was in: Stark Tower, recently rebranded as Avengers Tower. Because he couldn’t be picked up by an average Joe. Nooo, the people his possessed meat sack had tried to annihilate found his injured meat sack in a shady alley and rescued (?) him. Now he was in their lair. He’d been caught. Odin was going to shit adorable kittens.

Gabriel opened his eyes and shifted slightly to look at Thor, then winced and clutched his side. Right. He’d been stabbed. As soon as he’d let his grace out it had taken care of the wound, but he could still feel the poison coursing through his veins. Whatever it was, neither his grace nor his magic wanted to go near it. He’d have to manually purge it out of his body once he escaped his audience. And that included both Thor and whoever had access to the half dozen cameras in the room, all pointing at him. Only one of them was obvious, but the hum of electricity permeating the entire tower wasn’t enough to drown out the other recording devices. Although the growing headache was starting to make him despise his divine hearing.

Just as Gabriel was calculating how to make a graceful exit without grace, the (white) door to the medical room slid open. A man with a familiar goatee walked in, shadowed by two figures so quiet and slick they must have been professional spies. One of their pairs of eyes was brown, not blue, and it was awesome.

Thor jumped awake at the entrances, his eyes immediately focusing on his brother.

“Loki! You’re awake! Thank the Norns, I thought—”

“Hold it, Tall, Blonde, Lightning On,” Goatee—Tony Stark, Iron Man, owner of the building they were in—held up his hand. Thor, surprisingly, sat back down and quieted. “Remember what we agreed? I do the talking; you do the puppy-dog eye thing. Otherwise, you can join Shield and Wings in the penalty box. No access to the fugitive. Capiche?”

After putting Thor so masterfully in his place, the wonderful human scoffed at the remaining plastic chairs, leaned against the rails of the bed, crossed his arms and turned to Gabriel. The angel held his breath, ready to be impressed.

“So Reindeer Games, before we get into the list of SHIELD-approved interrogation questions, which will probably warrant a change of scenery, I’ve gotta ask: what was with that B-rated horror film special effects reject that came out of you a few weeks ago? Couldn’t cut it in Hollywood so you went with an independent agency and ended up almost taking over the world? I mean really, black smoke? I’ve thrown up a lot of questionable substances in my time, but you took it to a whole new unnecessary level.”

Gabriel blinked slowly at the human. “You’re literally my spirit animal.”

“... Um, what? Is that an Asgardian thing?”

Shit. Wrong reality. Or time. It was hard to say how far the Internet culture had deteriorated at this point. It was a distinct possibility half of his vocabulary was unintelligible to them. Usually he took this into account when speaking, but now... “Yes. It’s specifically a sorcerer thing, so Thor wouldn’t know about it either. Yeah… yeah, that sounds good. Really believable. Totes true.”

Tony narrowed his eyes at the wounded god. “... Right. Okay. Next question. Why do you sound like a suburban teenage girl texting? I mean, the whole ye old dialect from before was kind of grating in a condescending, sexy way, but at least it made sense.”

“Uh-huh, sorry about that. I think the poison is still messing with me. Makes the personas hard to keep track of. Like, which Loki am I, ya know? Am I still a janitor, or did the Winchesters already figure out that disguise? All right, I’ll stop talking now.”

Thor frowned, latching onto the one thing he could discern from Gabriel’s ramblings. “You’ve been poisoned, brother? How did this happen? Who dared harm you!”

“Point Break, am I going to have to put you in time out?”

“But—”

“That’s enough, boys.” The red-haired spy—Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow—made her presence known. “As enlightening as this discussion may be, we should move it elsewhere. Loki seems healed for the most part; we’ll transfer him to an unoccupied room, preferably in the basement. This should be done in one of SHIELD’s interrogation rooms, but Steve and Sam already brought him here and I don’t want to move him more than necessary. Everyone alright with that?”

Although there was no dissension, no one immediately spoke up in agreement. Thor looked uncertainly at Tony, who looked displeased at the Widow but offered no alternative, and the other spy continued to stare blankly at Gabriel.

As the current God of Mischief and whatnot, Gabriel felt it his duty to end the silence.

“... So, my Asgardian articulation is sexy, huh?”

Tony twitched. “Sometimes nonsense just flows out of my mouth. It’s incurable.”

“No, no, I’m glad to know, really. Maybe one day I can work like an upstanding citizen. As a phone sex operator.”

“... I’d pay.”

“Shut up, Nat.”

“I’m uncomfortable with this line of conversation concerning my brother.”

“Bite me, Tony.”

“That’d cost extra.”

“Shut up, Reindeer Games. That isn’t even the right line of work and… just shut up. I need to go build something.”

Once the billionaire left, Gabriel decided to circumvent another awkward silence.

“I can be ready for an interrogation in, like, soon. Just need to use the washroom for a bit because Father knows how long I’ve been laying here.” Gabriel transformed the plastic chair on the side of the bed opposite from Thor into a wheeled office chair, broke the handcuffs, rolled himself onto the chair, and used his feet to push off the railings towards a door to what he assumed was a lavatory.

The Widow narrowed her gaze at Gabriel’s retreating form.

“Those cuffs are supposed to suspend magical abilities.”

Gabriel paused with his hand on the door. “Oh. Aww, that’s adorable. Really, cute. We’ll have to work on your defenses against magic, but this is an endearing first attempt.”

He opened the door, wheeled himself in, and then shut it behind him, leaving his brother, the Widow, and the still-silent second spy. The chair proved useful for the following three hours he spent bent over the toilet, expelling the poison from his body.