It took Loki exactly six months to escape his cell on Asgard.
The bindings wound in spidery gold threads through the thick walls and glass partitions confined his magic within the boundaries of his prison, blocking his escape, and while he could have used it against any who stepped inside, none ever did.
He had thought Thor would be the first to visit him, to beg for answers, for forgiveness, and Loki looked forward to laughing in his face, but Thor never came. He waited for his first visitor, but when he had seen none but the guards scurrying past the windows, his frustration boiled over and he blasted the contents of his cell with a concussive wave of magic until it smashed against the walls.
Soon his anger stilled, settling down into an unpleasant seething knot within his stomach, and it gave way to plots and plans and thoughts of escape.
With nothing to do but read the meagre handful of books he had been allowed, he had taken to sitting against the wall of his cell day after day and letting the spell that contained him seep into his skin. He could feel the threads of magic washing over him, impossibly complex and almost indecipherable.
It took him 4 months to truly understand the spell and another two to find its weakness. When he discovered the flaw he stood up and walked towards the glass wall.
The guard on the other side twitched nervously, unused to seeing his prisoner approach. “Sit back down, trickster, or I’ll teach you a lesson you won’t forget.”
Loki tilted his head and grinned. “I would like to see you try.”
The guard drew his short sword, holding it out before him. “SIT down.”
“I think… not,” Loki replied, as he raised one hand and placed his fingertips on the thick glass.
The guard watched in horror as the clear surface began to ripple like water and Loki’s fingers began to disappear into it without appearing on the other side. He snapped from his shocked state and ran to the wall where he grabbed a thick, knotted rope and pulled it.
“Escape!” He shouted as a bell rang. “Prisoner escaping!”
Loki grinned again, up to his elbow in glass, and he turned to the guard. “Do give Thor my love,” he said, and vanished.
Before he left Asgard Loki visited the armoury and took the Tesseract, making it almost impossible for anyone to follow him. Odin would not be able to harness the dark energies without doing himself harm for some time and the bifrost was still far from repaired.
Loki was free. He could do anything or go anywhere he wanted, but he only had one thought on his mind: revenge.
He arrived in Midgard on a clear spring day and decided to find lodgings so he could rest before planning his attack, he changed his clothing to a black suit and cloaked himself in a spell that would make him invisible to the prying eyes of SHIELD as he walked through the city.
He found himself wandering in a vast park, lined by tall buildings, and soon he started to recognise landmarks. The lake with an ornate fountain, the brick walls, and the round metal plate where he had stood, muzzled, as Thor dragged him back to Asgard.
He could still feel the prickle of tesseract energy leaching into his feet through the thick leather soles of his shoes and he thought back to that day and the scornful faces of the Avengers.
He looked up, scanning the horizon for that familiar building and quickly spotted Stark Tower in the distance. He curled his hands into fists, squeezing them tightly in anger and started the long walk towards it.
He would have his victory.
He sought refuge in a tall building that overlooked the tower, easily persuading the woman who sat at the front desk that he should be allowed complimentary use of the grandest suite of rooms that faced the window that he had thrown Stark from. She had protested at first, but the minds of Midgardians were simple to control, and the spell he had cast would hold until he had acquired enough local currency to pay his board.
Loki spent the first few days resting and sampling all the delights that something called room service could provide.
After that he visited the ‘beauty parlour’ and had his hair trimmed, his eyebrows waxed and was given a complimentary head massage which he enjoyed immensely.
When he started feeling restless he roamed the streets and quickly discovered the easiest way to get money was a simple spell that caused a device in the wall to spit it out into his waiting hands.
He travelled the city, visiting restaurants, theatres and museums. He enjoyed the clubs and the dancing and music. He liked to shop and bought himself a wardrobe full fine tailored suits and handmade leather shoes, but eventually the time for him to take his revenge came and he knew he would face the Avengers again… except the battle didn’t quite work out as Loki hoped.
Loki traded blows with the Hulk while the other heroes attempted to overpower the giant demon like creatures that Loki had called forth through a tiny rift he had found in Times Square.
“I will not be defeated this time,” Loki said as he stalked backwards, skirting just out of Hulk’s reach.
Hulk snorted, side stepping quickly, and then suddenly ran towards Loki.
Loki saw the attack coming and raised his hands, blasting Hulk in the chest with a wave of directed energy that he had gathered in from the air around him. The blast lifted Hulk off the ground and carried him over Loki’s head and through a plate glass window.
“Nooooo!” Loki shouted as he saw Hulk spring up to his feet and wrench what was left of the shop counter off its base and throw it out into the street towards him.
He vanished before the tangled mess of wood and chrome could hit him and spent the rest of the day sulking about the destruction of his favourite coffee bar.
He had spent days surveying every coffee house in the area and discovered that this particular establishment met all of his needs. Now that it was gone where would he find another venue that would be able to provide him with the perfect caramel Cappuccino served with a faultless slice of Raspberry Almond cheesecake?
A week later and Loki tried again, this time unleashing a devastating firestorm into the sky above the city that rained down smoking chunks of lava indiscriminately causing buildings to catch on fire.
Loki stalked through the streets enjoying the chaos as people tried to flee the city, choking the avenues with cars and piling onto public transport. He laughed at the carnage and then out of the corner of his eye he noticed a white banner with red writing fluttering in the breeze that said, “Opening soon. 20% off sale,” and in the window, perched on a perspex box, stood the most beautiful shoes Loki had ever seen.
He ran his hands over the glass as he crouched to take in their magnificence fully. They were black leather with delicate hand stitching and they gleamed in the light of the firestorm above.
They were utterly perfect, and while Loki could easily have created a spell to replicate the shoes he wanted the real thing, the real shoe that had been lovingly hand crafted by a Midgardian cobbler.
He briefly considered smashing the window and simply taking the shoes, but he wanted the perfect fit, and knew he would have to come back when the shop opened to have his feet measured.
Chunks of glowing lava began to rain down into the street from the storm above and Loki loosened his hold on the spell, allowing the fire to dissipate, because if the shop caught fire he would never get his shoes, and suddenly they seemed far more important than revenge.
It was a bright summers day when Loki felt the prickle in the air, the tang of electricity and felt the bifrost pull at his skin.
The bridge was repaired and Thor was on Midgard, no doubt searching for him. Loki had kept himself shielded from Heimdall’s eyes, but it was only a matter of time before he was discovered and he would be dragged screaming back to Asgard.
He hid himself away in his hotel room for a week, terrified of being spotted if he went outside, and scared to use his magic in case someone would be able to sense it.
When Loki had arrived on Midgard it was with one aim in mind, but he had quickly discovered that he liked many of the quirks of the mortals. Some of their food was delicate and delicious and far more to his taste than the boorish Asgardian feasts he had been attending all his life.
He enjoyed the theatre and found it far more moving than listening to the drunken tales that passed for entertainment on Asgard. He listed in his head all the things he liked about this realm: the shoes, the clothes, the books, the Internet, and the clean minimal designs of many of the buildings he visited.
He didn’t want to leave.
It wasn’t that he feared returning to Asgard, or his cell, but simply that he didn’t want to leave Midgard. Thor was searching for him now, it was inevitable that he would be discovered eventually, and the thought having to leave this bright, young realm made his chest ache with sadness.
He sat in bed, eating ice cream in misery and watching endless daytime talk shows until he was bored to tears.
“I know you cheated on me!” a woman shrieked on the TV and Loki hunted for the remote to change the channel. “And I know you only married me to stay in the country. Without me you would have been shipped back home years ago, you pig!”
Loki looked up. Marriage allowed someone to stay in the country? Was this the law on Midgard?
He slid off the side of the bed and pulled out his laptop.
It took Loki a few hours to find all the relevant documents and laws, but it appeared that the bedraggled woman on the television was correct. When you married someone who was a citizen of the US you were legally entitled to stay with them and Loki knew that Odin would be loath go against the laws of another realm, lest it create conflict between them.
This was it, his way to stay on Midgard with its all its many delights; the coffee shops, the vast libraries full of comic half-truths about the universe, and the delightfully tailored clothing.
All he had to do now was find someone to marry.
He quickly discovered Internet dating sites, taking his time to investigate each one thoroughly for the quality of its potential mates and found each one sorely lacking. Loki wanted a mortal who would challenge him, someone from good genetic stock who he may wish to have children with one day, but all the people he found on dating sites appeared to have taken at least one photo of themselves reflected in a bathroom mirror which he found particularly uncouth.
Eventually he discovered a site that met his purposes, and even though the name, IQute, made him want to vomit he joined anyway as it offered access to some of New York’s finest minds.
He filled in the survey as truthfully as he could, while leaving out all the parts about world domination, being an immortal god, and that fact that one day he would cause Ragnarok. He left the profile photo blank, as he was fairly certain that SHIELD would be searching the net for pictures of him, and used a fake name, then sat back and waited for the offers of courtship to arrive.
Two days later Loki hadn’t received a single marriage proposal and he started to worry. Were his qualities not appreciated on Midgard? Did Midgardian men and women look for certain things in a marriage partner that he was blind to?
In a panic he started to search google and discovered a myriad of dating advice books. Loki looked through the titles, confused by the vast array, and wondered which one was the best for him, but then something struck him. A huge number of the books were aimed at people over 30. Was 30 considered old for a Midgardian? Redundant? Worthless? Ugly?
Loki was 1047 years old.
In his panic he ran down into the lobby of the hotel, grabbing random strangers.
“How old do I look?” he asked them.
“I don’t know…31?” a startled woman in a designer suit answered.
“33 maybe?” a businessman answered.
He went back to his room, ordered everything off the room service dessert menu and sat and cried as he ate a six serving pecan pie.
Loki was at a loss. He could very easily cast a love spell and force some unwilling mortal to fall in love with him, but in his heart he really didn’t want that. He wanted someone who was good and kind, someone who would treat him well, but where would he meet someone like that?
As he flicked through the TV channels he came across the news and watched briefly as Iron Man flew through the air, wheeling round a smoking building. He went to change the channel, but then the camera zoomed in on Captain America as he helped a young woman from the wreckage of her car, which had been destroyed by falling masonry, trapping her leg under the pedals.
He watched closely as the Captain pulled her free, holding her close to his body in his big, muscular arms and then carried her towards a waiting ambulance.
There was something noble in the Captain’s bearing, he possessed strength and courage, but none of the arrogance or vanity that usually went hand in hand with such qualities.
Oh yes, Loki thought, he is the one for me.
He rose from his bed, brushed pastry crumbs from his chest, and teleported out into the city.