Loki is sitting on the floor in the dark, wrists up in shackles. He keeps his eyes shut because there is nothing to look at, even if there was he would not care to look. His trial had been a joke (full of grievances held against him all his life) and the end predetermined. It was unclear to him why the council had persisted in wasting all of their time.
He had not waged war for himself, but when he came back he had not expected to be allowed to continue.
What would it feel like, he thought, to be wiped clean? Would he still (in essence) be himself?
He doesn’t know what he wants the answer to be.
There are footsteps, a hint of light shining through his eyelids. He opens them.
They watch each other. Odin stands in the doorway, there are no guards or attendants outside to witness their conversation. Loki looks him in the eyes, aiming for distaste and defiance. If he succeeds then the Allfather does not show it, but Loki had never expected he would.
“Have I lived up to your expectations, Father.”
“If you mean,” the king’s voice is tight, prickly, but his words… aren’t. “Are you every bit as brilliant and surprising and alive as I thought you were, then yes.” The force Loki has to use not to look away, to keep himself shuttered, is maddening. “Yes, you have. Though I am not pleased with your recent actions.”
Loki draws up the dregs of disregard and hostility he thought he had used up in front of the council. Bares his teeth with it.
“Well, that’s a shame. I suppose you should have had me programmed better.” Odin’s teeth grind together and Loki makes his mouth kick up in a smirk that he doesn’t mean, “Oh? Sore spot? Now I feel just awful.” He draws it to a pout that breaks into a sudden gasp of mock startlement, “except I don’t! I don’t feel anything. Because I’m a fucking toy.”
The words are bitten, and quiet. Loki instantly feels like a chastised child and looks away.
“You’re actions are unbecoming of a Prince of Asgard. Here and on Midgard. Your punishment-“
“Will there be fire? The council seemed to like that idea. Do you suppose I will burn like wood?” his mind leaps, his mouth follows. “Why did you do it?”
Odin takes the shift in stride. “There is much I do, Loki. I am king. Why did I do what?”
“There was no reason not to.”
"Liar. If it was so easy, why didn’t you say it then. That was all you had to say to me on the bridge. ALL you had to say! Why didn’t you?” He thinks he sees spittle fly from his lips, but is not aware enough to care. Odin opens his mouth to answer, but Loki cuts him off. “Why?! Why didn’t you lie to me?!”
“It wouldn’t have been a-“
“SHUT UP!” he screams, and then jerks back violently against the wall. Eyes wide with panic.
Odin kneels down in front of him, every movement gentle in its slowness.
“What?” a whisper.
“What you’ve been trying to ask for all these years.”
Loki can’t breathe, and the silence lasts longer than it ever has before. When he doesn’t speak, Odin reaches out and rests his hand on the back of Loki’s neck.
He struggles with the words.
“Are you- are you my… my father?”
There is a dull ache behind Loki’s eyes, so he closes them. And father leans close to whisper old words in his ear.
The next morning, Loki breaks his bonds and escapes back to Midgard. The Allfather does not look for him too carefully.