No Visitors

In the beginning, Odin hadn't wanted his son to be a public spectacle and so hadn't opened the dungeons up to the public but he also hadn't done anything to prevent the people who were ordinarily allowed to visit the dungeons from continuing to do so. Loki had his own private cell but he was surrounded by the rest of the prisoners. Apparently he didn't deign to acknowledge them however much they may have taunted him for falling so low. His patience paid off as soon they lost interest in trying to provoke a reaction.

Odin had not been down to visit Loki himself because he was the king of Asgard and so prisoners were traditionally brought to him in the throne room when they needed to be. He wanted to wait a little before summoning Loki to try and gauge his mental state. Loki refusing to acknowledge anyone wasn't giving him many clues and the fact he had to rely on reports from guards who knew Loki less than he did only made it worse. He needed time to finish crafting a strategy for dealing with Loki, however, and Thor had let him know that Loki appeared to blame him for most of what had gone wrong.

It was too much to expect Loki to take responsibility for his own actions but Odin wasn't looking forward to being blamed for all of the destruction and ruination that had occurred since Thor had almost become king.

And partly he just wasn't sure what to say. Yes he had been imagining scenarios where he could make Loki see reason and accept his punishment and come back to them since the moment that Loki had fallen but those were self-indulgent fantasies he never expected to really need to try and implement. The fictional Loki that lived in his head was a lot more reasonable than the real Loki had been of late.

But if Odin did not take the opportunity to visit Loki that did not mean that no one else did. Most of the palace stayed well away from the dungeons as always but the Warriors Three came together one day to just stare at their former friend and theorize about what had gone wrong. If Loki had a mind to, he could have given them quite a tongue-lashing but he had been unresponsive. Sif showed up on occasion to lecture him, trying not to let the deep betrayal searing her heart show in her words or on her face but Loki saw too clearly for such deception. He often let her rant without comment but every now and then he made a cutting remark that left her momentarily speechless and angry for hours afterwards.

Frigga had been fortunate. She came to see him every day and while Loki did not always respond to her words he was never cruel with her. He had laid all of the blame for her silence at Odin's feet. And as for Thor, he came often though not as often as his mother and things had a different sort of pattern with them. In the beginning Loki just tried to ignore him but inevitably it devolved into an argument and not always about Loki's recent actions. Odin had received a report that Loki and Thor had been bitterly fighting about whether Heimdall was capable of conventional sight with his eyes or if he just focused his ability to see anywhere in the Nine Realms. He supposed it was better than when they had been feuding about whether the mortals were going to have Loki executed without Thor's intervention.

"Brother," Thor boomed as he walked into the dungeon.

The other dungeon denizens, well-used to Thor's presence by now, did not so much as look up.

"What?" Loki asked, annoyed.

"We didn't finish our discussion from last time."

"What were we even talking about last time?" Loki asked.

Thor opened his mouth and then closed it again. "I…don't remember. But we weren't done talking about it."

"Well if you don't remember and I don't remember then I think that actually we're quite done," Loki said.

Thor quickly rallied. "That's fine because there are many other things that I need to discuss with you."

Loki raised an eyebrow. "Such as?"

"I don't approve of the way you went to Midgard and tried to conquer it," Thor said sternly.

Loki sighed. "What a surprise. Do we really have to talk about this?"

"'Do we really have to-'" Thor broke off, shaking his head incredulously. "Yes we really have to talk about this! You can't just go off and try to conquer Midgard and then expect that we won't talk about it."

Loki sighed. "Very well. Let me hear it. I shouldn't have done it and it was very bad and everyone is ashamed. It is unbecoming of a prince of Asgard and even if I'm actually a Jotun I've been a prince for so many centuries that we're all going to keep working off the theory that I'm your brother. I'm making everyone look bad and need to be more responsible and not take my personal problems out on lesser realms."

Thor blinked. "Yes to all of that. Except Midgard is not a lesser realm."

"Ah, right, your mad love affair with that mad place," Loki said, nodding. "My mistake. But you see, I know it all so there's really no need to get into it."

Thor hesitated. "The way you say it…I get the feeling that while you know all the right words you really don't feel it the way you should."

Loki rolled his eyes. "And you really think that telling me things that I already know you're going to say is going to change that? The only feelings those are likely to induce in me or the ones that fall somewhere between annoyance and homicidal. Is that really what you want?"

"What I want is for you to stop acting like a child or a madman and come back to us," Thor told him.

Loki shook his head pityingly. "No one can ever go 'back', Thor. We just all have to move on and find a new status quo."

"Why does that status quo have to be with you mad or evil?" Thor demanded.

"Who says it does?" Loki countered. "Ah, right, that would be you and the Allfather."

"I'm fairly certain that neither of us said anything of the kind since that is, in fact, the last thing that we want!"

"All I know is that I'm just going about my life and all of a sudden you and the Allfather insist that I'm either mad or evil. Or maybe both. So if you want to talk about the labels you two are throwing around maybe you should look at the source of the labels and not the victim of them."

"Vic-" Thor broke off, unable to continue for a long moment. "Loki, no matter how well you twist this situation – and I'll grant that you are very good at that – you will never be the victim here."

"See, such absolutist statements like that and an unwillingness to see it from my side might explain how we all ended up here," Loki said helpfully.

"I've tried to see it from your side but your side is crazy."

"And now we're back to you calling names. Lovely," Loki said sarcastically.

"Loki, it's not always easy to figure out what is going on with you since you never share what is in your head but from what I've been able to piece together you were trying to protect the realm from me as king," Thor began.

"And I succeeded admirably. Though you might want to phrase it as 'you were selfishly out to steal the throne for yourself so that you could bring about Ragnarok when all I wanted to do was be a wise and kind ruler and ruined everything for everyone'," Loki suggested.

Thor rolled his eyes. "Loki, nobody thinks that."

"Maybe not exactly that," Loki conceded. "But something close to that I'm sure. And if they don't then I must commend Mother on her ability to shape public opinion but she should know a sinking ship when she sees one and start convincing people that you could be a good king."

"I…" Thor looked away. "I know that I'm not ready to be king. You were right to stop me and I wish it hadn't come to letting Frost Giants into Asgard to do so and baiting me to go to Jotunheim but I accept that I wasn't about to listen to anything you said about why I shouldn't take the throne. But then I get exiled and Father goes into the Odinsleep and you decide to just try to kill me and let more Frost Giants into Asgard and destroy Jotunheim?"

"I was trying to prevent your treasonous friends from going against the direct order of two kings and bringing you back from exile prematurely," Loki claimed. "The Destroyer was always going to get a little messy and if I recall correctly you're the one who told me to just attack you instead."

Thor couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You can't just murder somebody because they said 'please don't murder all these other people.'"

"No but you also said it was fine to murder you instead. Or let's dispense with the word 'murder', shall we?" Loki asked rhetorically. "It's such a loaded word. And treason has always been dealt with harshly. Besides, a war had to be prevented and the Allfather wasn't around to prevent it. I dealt with the situation the way I saw fit and, as king of Asgard, I was within my rights. Please, no more love letters to the Jotun from you. I couldn't bear it."

"It just seems like maybe your sudden need to wipe out every single Frost Giant might have had something to do with your horror at finding out you were one of them," Thor said slowly.

"Well it didn't. Completely unrelated."

"Really? Because-"

"Really. It had nothing to do with anything and I don't want to talk about this anymore. Surely you'd rather talk about your stupid mortal anyway."

"I'm assuming your speaking of Jane but she's not stupid."

"And yet you knew who I was talking about," Loki muttered. "Destroying the Rainbow Bridge and the massive amount of work that went into quelling the rebellions that sprang up isn't my fault, really, since you're the one who chose to destroy it."

"Only to stop you from destroying a realm!"

"It's not my fault how you chose to handle it and I think you overreacted anyway. Even if you had to save Jotunheim for some reason, there was no need to go overboard. It's like if someone was on fire so you flood an entire area to save them," Loki said.

"I was running out of time and could see no other option," Thor defended himself.

"Your wasting of time and lack of ingenuity is also something I refuse to accept responsibility for."

Thor rolled his eyes. "Loki, you are refusing to take responsibility for anything so there's really no need to clarify further things that you are also not taking responsibility for. At this point if there's something you might be assigned some degree of responsibility for, I'll just assume that you're not interested in doing that."

"Well that's rather presumptuous," Loki sniffed.

Thor ignored him. "And then you were working with the Chitauri to conquer Earth. How do you justify that?"

"I barely attacked one city for less than an hour," Loki said dismissively. "They were fine."

"The city was almost blown up!"

"By their own people," Loki pointed out. "That would be like if someone were on fire so you decided to blow up their whole village."

"You can't make a comparison if you use the exact same event in both examples," Thor told him. "It's very lazy."

"It wasn't the exact same thing," Loki insisted. "One was a village and the other a city. And forgive me for failing to find a proper analogous situation. It's only that I cannot believe anyone would be that stupid."

"Even if New York wouldn't have been blown up, that still leaves the problem of the Chitauri overrunning the city. And without the bomb there would have been no way to destroy them," Thor pointed out.

"Who needs them destroyed when they have no path to Earth and the Tesseract would not be used so carelessly again?" Loki asked.

Thor stared at him. "We would need them destroyed because they would continue invading Earth."

Loki waved a hand dismissively. "There was a reverse built into the portal."

"You cannot take credit for Dr. Selvig fighting your mind control enough to find a way to stop you!"

Loki crossed his arms and actually looked annoyed. "I cannot tell you how wonderful it is that when a man who is being controlled into going against every belief and principle he has ever had to help me conquer Midgard builds a reverse switch relying on my scepter it is immediately assumed that maybe the mind control just wasn't really that effective and he must have somehow accidentally slipped that in."

"What are you saying?"

"I shouldn't even have to spell it out," Loki said disdainfully.

"You're saying that you had Dr. Selvig build that? Why would you do that?" Thor asked guardedly.

"I'm not claiming anything one way or the other," Loki replied. "But if I were I'd point out that back-up plans and ways out are things that are relevant to my interests. What if I changed my mind or wanted to betray them? What if they wanted to betray me? What if I just didn't want to give them the Tesseract? Always have another answer."

"…Just because you may have worked out a way to stop the invasion you caused doesn't mean you're not accountable for all the damage that you did actually do!" Thor cried out.

"No, of course not. Let's just focus on all the dead ants."

"No one cares about any dead ants," Thor said, confused. "I was speaking of the dead humans."

"Funny, so was I."

Thor just shook his head at his brother. "Loki, why do you have to be so contemptuous of such an ingenious people? They are weak and short-lived physically but they can build machines that allow them to fight us to a draw! Their lives are difficult and they are lacking in the magic that has sustained us for so many centuries but they progress so very rapidly."

"You know, Thor, just because you're all 'enlightened' now doesn't mean that you get to just pretend that the past never happened," Loki said sourly.

"Oh, now what am I forgetting?" Thor demanded.

"It wasn't too long ago – really it was barely two years ago – that you thought that way yourself," Loki pointed out.

Thor coughed, embarrassed. "That may be true but at least I just thought nothing of them from a distance and didn't try to conquer them!"

"That wasn't because of morals," Loki said, scoffing. "You just had no interest in them. If you had as compelling of a reason as I had you might have."

"And what 'compelling' reason is this?" Thor asked. "Someone told you to? The Loki I remember didn't take kindly to such orders being issued."

"The Loki that you remembered hadn't been betrayed by everyone and thrown into a void," Loki growled.

Thor let out a long-suffering sigh. "And the Loki that I see before me hasn't, either! If anyone betrayed anyone it was you and us not going along with your insanity is not a betrayal. And you're the one who couldn't handle me stopping you from destroying Jotunheim and then Father making it clear that – to no one's surprise – he didn't want genocide."

"I was surprised," Loki muttered.

"To almost nobody's surprise," Thor amended.

"If that's really how you want to justify your treachery then fine, remember it that way," Loki said magnanimously.

"I think that whatever happened to you in that void and afterwards must have been so terrible that you simply couldn't accept that none of it had to happen and you threw yourself there because your actions weren't approved of," Thor theorized. "And that's why you're remembering it wrong."

"We're not going to come to an agreement about this and no one else was there except a man who would side with you on anything," Loki said. "So believe or pretend to believe what you will and I'll know the truth."

"You really won't…"

"Besides, do you not remember when our people came to Midgard centuries ago and the locals greeted them as gods?" Loki asked. "It was an understandable mistake but there was no attempt to correct them. Clearly there was no respect or thought to treat them as equals going on then. Why should this have changed just because they now have the iPhone? A Starbucks isn't the mark of an enlightened realm."

"That…might not have been strictly necessary but it isn't anywhere near the same league as what you did!" Thor accused.

"Of course not. I wasn't involved and everything is automatically ten times worse when I'm involved."

"Oh, it is not and stop feeling sorry for yourself!" Thor ordered.

"Remember that time that I just wanted to help build a wall around Asgard so I found someone who said that they could build the wall in a year and if they couldn't we wouldn't have to pay them. And then when it looked like they were going to succeed I was threatened with death?"

"As I recall," Thor replied, "the builder had used his access to Asgard to attempt to kill all of us. And then he had the nerve to threaten to destroy his entire wall unless we paid him five times the starting price. And Father never would have let anybody really lay a hand on you."

"Trivialities," Loki said dismissively.

"Trivialities!" Thor repeated. "They are not mere trivialities, Loki, they are the only difference between you being the victim of irrationality and people being suitably annoyed at what that guy you found was trying to do."

"You always do this," Loki accused. "You take every single incident of me being slighted and find a way in which it's all perfectly understandable under the circumstances and not indicative of anything at all."

"Why is this such a problem?" Thor asked. "If every single incident you think means that you're being discriminated against turns out to have a perfectly innocent explanation then maybe you're just being overly paranoid."

"And maybe each individual incident on its own would be harmless but taken together it all adds up to a very nasty pattern and I bet you're all glad that I'm a traitor now so you can all treat me like you've always wanted to treat me! Not that it's all that different."

"You really don't see the difference between being a prince of Asgard and being free to do virtually anything you wanted and go anywhere at any time and being locked up in Asgard's dungeon?" Thor asked incredulously.

Loki peered serenely back at him. "No."

Things devolved from there and Thor had swung Mjolnir at Loki in the cage before the guards convinced him to leave. Since the same thing had happened on five other occasions, Odin decided that enough was enough. Loki only actually had two other regular visitors and it wasn't as though Frigga had any intention of allowing anything to stop her from visiting her son. Thor would hate to be singled out and blamed for losing visiting privileges even if he really should stop letting Loki bait him and everyone needed a bit of a rest from Loki's petulance even though Odin would have to start dealing with it directly soon.

As such, he banned everyone from going down to visit Loki.

Loki himself, who had been complaining every day about Thor never leaving him in peace, immediately started to grumble about having been abandoned and how Thor was a terrible person who never cared about him at all.