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while the king was looking down, the jester stole his thorny crown

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"Well now," the stranger says, sheathing his sword with a smile. "Aren't you the littlest frost giant who could."

Loki glares at him, clenching his hands into fists, his fingernails lengthening into weapons. Damned SHIELD, damned Avengers, damned humans in the first place. Damned ‘allies’ with machines that simulate below-freezing weather, and damned Odin Allfather for ever taking him from damned Jötunheimr.

“Come, godling,” the stranger says, turning and heading towards – a door that hadn’t been there before. Loki blinks, shaking his head to dislodge the frost growing on his eyelashes. He doesn’t feel the cold, not like he imagines the Avengers do, but it’s so annoying.

And in hindsight, he never has reacted normally to the cold.

The stranger pauses by the door, glancing over his shoulder. “Well?”

Loki looks around, at the ice still growing on the buildings. He feels nothing for all the little mortals trapped, about to die of cold – but Thor is in that mess somewhere.

The stranger rolls his eyes. “Oh, fine,” he mutters. “Even the kidnapped children of warlords are boy scouts these days.” He holds up at hand, whispers something in a language Loki doesn’t even recognize, and flicks his fingers towards the middle of the ice.

Loki gasps as he feels the warmth, and he shudders, and his skin lightens back to what he still thinks of as normal.

“Will you come now?” the stranger demands. “I don’t have all day, and I’d rather not be here when Fury pulls his head out of his ass.”

“Frightened of a mortal?” Loki asks, straining for a semblance of control. It has been so long since any sorcerer was his better.

The stranger scoffs. “If Fury is a mortal, I’m just a ladybug dancing on a leaf.”

Loki raises an eyebrow, and the stranger rolls his eyes. “Yes, I know, that made no sense. I’ll explain on the other side of the door.”

Glancing back at the defrosting town, Loki nods. He hurries over to the stranger and isn’t at all surprised when he’s shoved through the door, landing in a desert with a scorching sun.

“Walk with me,” the stranger says.

“What is your name?” Loki asks.

The stranger shrugs. “You can call me Adam, if you like. Or Hel.”

Loki blinks. “Hel was one of Odin’s allies, long ago. And, I thought, a woman.”

Laughing, the stranger says, “And can you not change your shape at will, little jötunn? I’ve kept up with the humans’ stories – I’m also supposedly your daughter, never mind the fact that I’m far older than you, and Odin, and even Asgard.”

As they crested a sand dune, Hel waves a hand to the palace towering over the desert. “Change it however you like,” Hel says. “Stay as long as you like. We’ll talk in a bit.”

“What?” Loki demands, turning to face him, but Hel smiles and vanishes. Loki lunges for the last spot he’d been and falls back down the dune. “Damnit,” he growls. He just lays there for a moment before heaving a great sigh and getting back to his feet.

Hel wants him to go the palace in the middle of the desert. He needs to get out of the heat, anyway.

And he’s tired. Even if the palace is unfurnished, there is a roof and shadows.

Just inside the door is a banner, with Welcome scrawled in melting frost. Loki rolls his eyes and goes to find a bedroom.

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When Methos returns to his (one of many) home(s), the littlest frost giant who could is curled up on the master bed (of course), buried beneath a dozen blankets. The room is damp.

The kid is powerful, then, to make so much winter in the desert. Of course, Methos already knew that.

The mess is all cleaned up, the children playing nicely again, and the government is seeking Loki Silvertongue, the villain they believe caused all the destruction. Thor Odinson was arguing against that, last Methos saw, so good for him. The kid has at least one ally, then.

Allies are good, except when they're bad. And the kid is interesting. Methos hasn't seen one like him since Borr, ages and ages ago.

Methos stares down at the kid in his bed. He looks young. Very young. The man going by Nick Fury was right to call Methos for this one. Jötnar mature far slower than Æsir, and, therefore by default, eons slower than humans.

Kids throwing tantrums because they feel betrayed by everyone ever should not be treated like this kid has been, and Methos has decided to take over.

Yeah. He nods decisively, adding another blanket, and steps back onto Earth, ready to lurk around SHIELD to learn more of their plans.

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When Loki wakes up, the palace is gone in place of a bungalow, and there’s a beach right outside the door, a shining sun, and dolphins playing in the surf. He stares out the window, at Hel walking along the shore, naked as a newborn.

“C’mon out, kiddo!” Hel calls, waving at him. “You could do with some playtime.”

How long has it been since Loki actually played? Not since Thor began training as a warrior, for sure. Pranks, yes, thousands of them. But taking time off purely for fun?

Hel runs into the waves, trying to pounce on a dolphin. Of course, he belly-flops into the water and emerges laughing, shaking his head. The dolphins laugh at him.

“Oh, why not,” Loki mutters and strips off his clothes.


“Do you like the name ‘Loki’?” Hel asks.

Loki shrugs.

“Hmm,” Hel says. “Do you really want to be a villain?”

Loki shrugs again. He’s exhausted; who knew play was so tiring? His whole body aches, but it is a good ache – he feels, well, proud. He’d managed to pounce on a dolphin before Hel did. He also managed to outswim a shark. Of course, he was wearing a giant serpent’s form at the time. Hel laughed about something called the Midgard Serpent and refused to explain.

“Shall I rename you, then?” Hel offers. “You had name before Odin stole you; he named you something else. And now you’re with me.” He pauses as Loki raises his head, and smiles a bit bashfully. “I suppose I should have asked if you’d like to stay first.”

Loki nods. “I think I’d like to try something new,” he muses, stretching to his full length and groaning. “At least you’ve been honest with me. That’s something no one else managed.”

“So,” Hel says, “a new name for me and you.” A few minutes of silence pass and Loki’s almost asleep when Hel continues, “Well, I’m Adam, of course. And you, my adorable younger brother – Danny. That’s a good name for an adorable younger brother.”

“Being a brother hasn’t gone that well for me,” Lo-Danny says.

“You haven’t been my younger brother,” Adam replies. “Sleep now, Danny. Lots to do in the morning.”


In the morning, the beach has changed to an apartment in a busy city and it’s raining. “Where are we?” he asks, walking into the kitchen. “What are you doing?”

“I’m making breakfast,” Adam says. “How d’ya like your eggs?”

“Um. I’m not sure I’ve had Midgardian eggs,” Danny admits.

“Alright. We’ll start with scrambled and go from there.” Adam scoops the eggs onto a plate and sets it on the counter. “Eat!”

Danny sits on the stool. “Where are we, Adam?” he asks again.

Adam smiles, pouring more eggs into the pan. “We’re in Toronto.”

Pausing in separating his eggs, Danny asks, “Why are we in Toronto?”

Adam just shrugs. “Why not?”


For a week, Adam teaches Danny how to live a non-prankster, non-warrior, non-prince, non-villain life. Surprisingly enough, it’s not boring.

“Why are you showing me all this?” Danny asks as they leave a bank, having just opened an account.

Adam puts his arm around Danny’s shoulder. “I’m teaching you how to be immortal,” he says. “Now, c’mon. There’s a movie I want to see.”


Danny could leave. He could become Loki again, Loki Silvertongue, Loki the Liar. But Adam treats him like no one ever has before, and it is so refreshing. He is not a scapegoat, not a toy, not a burden or an afterthought.

“What d’ya wanna do today?” Adam asks on the seventh day.

“Can we play with dolphins?” he asks in reply.

“Of course,” Adam says, and just like that, they’re on a beach, the sun is brilliant, and there are dolphins leaping out of the water.

Danny grins and rushes past Adam into the surf, shedding his clothes as he goes.