{Note to those who've got this on update alert–this isn't a new story. I just divided it up into chapters (because it's 28k words, damn) and made some changes (inaccuracies corrected and a couple other things because I CAN and they were bugging me… and I gave Loki a better name, suggested by my son). Sorry if this disappoints anyone! However, I do have some news–there will be a sequel, if I get enough people telling me they want one. A couple of people already did and mwah to them! And now we return you to your irregularly unscheduled Loki!fic}

This fic just poured out of me over about 4 days because Loki stole the entire movie for me in Thor and I was just not ready to let him go! And now I challenge you all, read some Norse mythology, people-Loki was off the CHAIN with some of the shit he pulled. And all the attitude he gave Thor, quite often to his face? Loki is now my favorite bad-ass god ever. He truly is.

I haven't read the comics (yet) and used the movie as a jumping-off point, no pun intended, so inaccuracies and non-canon stuff should be expected all over the frickin place. All that follows is inspired by the Norse myths as told by Padraic Colum and my own twisted brain. Enjoy it!


"I've been banished."

Those were the first words Loki said after Taryn found him half-collapsed on her doorstep and dragged him inside, and they were also the first outright lie he'd ever spoken to her. Odin hadn't banished him… he'd rejected Loki, had spat on his best efforts, but he hadn't technically banished him. Loki himself had chosen to fall into the void between worlds before he'd had the chance. Once he'd finally landed on Midgard, he'd not known what to do. He felt foolish going to her for help–he'd always been the one to help her–but right now, he had to admit that he had nowhere else to go. No one else he dared trust.

And mortal or not, Taryn seemed to be the only one who had never betrayed him.

So after she'd helped him to collapse on her couch, had wrapped his shaking body in blankets and grasped his cold hands and demanded to know what had happened to him, Loki lied.

"What?" Taryn gasped, squeezing his fingers so hard it almost hurt. "How? Why?"

Loki shook his head mutely, not wanting to relive the wretched hours that had led up to this even for her. Everything he'd done after Odin had cast Thor out had made sense to Loki as he'd done it, but the other Æsir hadn't even tried to understand his motives. Like any of them, he'd used his most powerful weapons to protect the Realm Eternal from threat, and his plan had been executed to perfection without a single Æsir life being threatened. It had been a thing of beauty, a needless war ended and lasting peace ensured using nothing but Loki's brilliant mind.

And then Thor returned, and everything–everything!–had been ruined. Sif and the Warriors Three had branded Loki a traitor, blaming him for Thor's banishment instead of the thunder-god's own hubris, accusing him of plotting to take the throne he'd never even wanted. And Thor had believed the worst of his brother without even hearing Loki's explanations because he didn't understand the plan–none of them understood it. Loki's keenest weapons were magic and subterfuge, not steel and blind violence, and the ignorant meatheads of Asgard had not been able to grasp the subtle beauty of it–just as they never understood the depths in which his thoughts ran. He'd always wondered how he could have come from the Allfather's loins and yet managed to be so very different from the rest of them.

He laughed silently and utterly without humor. Well, at least that question had been well and definitively answered.

But Taryn looked so angry on his behalf, so outraged, that he knew he had to tell her something. So Loki spoke again, this time giving her the truth, harsh as it was. "I am not Æsir," he said, the words still hurting him, oh, biting so deep. Unable to hold her dark eyes any longer, he looked down at her hands grasping his so tightly. "The day of my birth was the day the last Great War ended. The Allfather found me in the Grand Temple of Jötunnheim after he defeated Lauffey. I am not Loki Odinsson, Taryn. I am… Laufeysson."

This time, instead of gasping, Taryn didn't breathe at all. He wanted to look at her, to see how she'd take this, but he couldn't–couldn't. This mortal knew the full import of what he'd just said, knew exactly what it meant. She would understand the full horror of his confession. The Jötunn were evil monsters, horrible creatures, full of power and hate.

And now Loki told her that he was one of them. Worse–he was the son of their most vicious king. It was, indeed, an unforgivable thing.

But her grip on his hands didn't lessen. "You are who you are, Loki, no more and no less. The Allfather made that decision and you should not be punished for it," she finally said, and Loki finally was able to look up, to see her brown eyes still warm and outraged for him. She saw his surprise and smiled at him, one hand releasing his to cup his cheek. "Loki, you are my friend. I know you. Did you really think I'd cast you out, too?"

He closed his eyes and covered her hand with his own. "I… wasn't sure," he admitted.

Taryn sighed and shook her head. "And here I thought you knew me." He looked at her again, his body weak and shuddering in his blankets from the chaotic journey between worlds without the protection of bifrost, his mind crackling with power and emotion, and she was as serious as he'd ever seen her. "Show me," she demanded.

Immediately, without any thought at all, Loki shook his head. "You know what the monsters look like already. I don't want you to see me like that."

Her gaze sharpened. "You're not a monster, Loki. Show me."


Taryn sighed and squeezed his hands. "You assume my reaction without allowing me the chance to give it," she said softly. "Let me see you, Loki. Let me accept you."

He stared at her for a long time without replying. She didn't urge him again. Instead, she just sat beside him, holding his hands and now knowing the origin of the chill she'd always teased him about, not shying away, simply waiting for his decision.

And he couldn't deny her anything. Damn it! He closed his eyes with a snap and let the magic flow.

Loki didn't see her initial reaction as his pale skin darkened to the blue of the Jötunn–no accident. He might be the Liesmith, but he couldn't lie to himself worth a damn and if her first reaction was bad, he'd never be able to convince himself afterward that she wasn't disgusted by him. And he wanted, needed the security of her friendship, untarnished and whole, the only steady thing left in his world.

After a moment she did drop his hands with a hiss and he finally opened his eyes to find her shaking her fingers and breathing on them. "Freezer burn," she explained when he looked at her, questioning.

"Sorry," he said, cursing himself for forgetting how the touch of a Frost Giant would affect her.

And then he watched her look at him despite himself, bracing himself to see the disgust or fear he'd purposefully hidden from only moments ago.

It wasn't there. Taryn stared wide-eyed at him, at the ridged lines on his forehead and body that proclaimed him prince and warlord from birth, the blazing red of his eyes, the darker blue of his lips and the crystalline white of his fingernails. "Wow," she finally said, letting her breath out in a rush that fogged the chilled air between them.

And that was all.

Loki let the silence go on until he couldn't stand it anymore. "That's it?" he finally said, so nervous it felt like his skin was trying to crawl off his bones. "Just wow?"

She smiled, but she was shivering and her teeth chattered. "I'm trying to progress beyond wow. Mostly I'm wondering if I'd turn into an icicle if I hugged you." When he just stared at her in shock, she dared to squeeze his shoulder though the layers of blankets. She pulled back quickly, her fingers white with cold, but it was enough. "It's okay, Loki," she said quietly. "I'm not frightened."

It was almost unbelievable, but she actually seemed to be telling the truth. "My reaction wasn't nearly as calm as yours," Loki said dryly as he released the spell and felt the shimmer of warmth as his flesh returned to the Æsir pallor he'd always known. The temperature of the room noticeably rose and true to her words, Taryn immediately hugged him.

She pulled away when he remained stiff in her embrace and instead took his hands again. "I can understand that. How did you find out?"

This time, his answers came more slowly. He told her of the Frost Giants breaking into the weapons vault on the day of Thor's aborted coronation (but not how they'd gotten there), of Thor's outrage and the Allfather's decree that there was to be no retaliation on the Jötunn for the invasion. He spoke of Thor's insistence on going to Jötunnheim and the battle that had followed, of the Frost Giant who'd grabbed Loki's arm and frozen his vambrace to shattering ruin but whose touch had only exposed the hidden blue of his true skin without harming him at all. Through it all, Taryn listened, not speaking, not pulling away.

She gasped when he recounted Odin's curse and Thor's banishment. Then he began to speak more cautiously as he told her something of what had happened in Asgard while the favored son had been away. Loki told her how he'd taken the throne when Odin had fallen into the Odinsleep and been branded usurper for doing so–and damn, but that name still angered him. After all, he was the only remaining son and who else should have taken it? How was legitimate succession something evil? Pride still stinging at the plan no one had understood, he told her everything except for tricking Lauffey into coming to Asgard to die at the hands of his own stolen son. That, Loki didn't want her to know.

When he finally fell silent, Taryn hugged him again, harder this time. "My poor Loki," she whispered, and he squeezed his eyes shut and shuddered again, her empathy almost painful. "Odin's on a son-banishing roll, isn't he? Of course you can stay here as long as you like."

His tension finally melted away, leaving him almost boneless with exhaustion and relief. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have burdened you," he said, and then admitted, "but I didn't know where else to go. I'm not exactly popular here on Midgard."

Taryn mock-glared at him and got to her feet. "You're never a burden to me, Loki. And besides, it's your own fault that I'm your only friend here, God of Mischief. People tend to object to having their cars turned into ice cream," she teased gently, and he managed a weak smile for her. That had been a fun bit of mischief. Then she tugged on his hands until he, too, rose from the couch, the blankets falling away from his shoulders. "Come on, I'm putting you to bed. You've been through hell and while sleep won't cure all of it, it'll help."

He followed her, let her push him down onto her own bed after she'd declared the guest room unfit for habitation. He sat numbly as she pulled off his boots and helped him out of his armored overtunic–how long would it be before he dared to dress as an Æsir again, much less as the son of Odin?–and finally tugged the blankets up over him. "Sleep, Loki," Taryn said, stroking the hair off his forehead with such gentleness, his eyes welled with quickly-hidden tears. "We'll get through this. I'll help you any way I can. Just rest now."

And as she turned out the light, Loki buried his head under her pillow, smelled the warm, sweet scent of her, and loved her so much his heart ached with it.

But then, he always had.


Loki strolled into the bookstore, bored, looking for diversion while his brother and the Warriors Three amused themselves training with the mortal Special Forces units out on the San Diego beach. He'd been there, done that, scoffed at the tee-shirt, and had no desire to waste more of his day in the grunting, sweating testosterone-frenzy the others so relished. Sif might mock him as Loki Cowardson for his preference of using magic from a distance during battle, but he merely used the weapons that came most easily to him. What courage was there in crippling himself by ignoring his spells and fighting only with steel? That was stupidity, not bravery.

He wandered invisible through shadows, tracing the odd spine of a book, picking up thoughts from the college students selecting textbooks. Bored, bored, bored. For something to do, he pinched a severe-looking woman's bottom just as a pimpled, skinny young man barely out of his teens walked past. She spun around, eyes blazing, ready to kill.

"That wasn't very nice."

It took a moment for Loki to realize the murmured words, barely audible over the angry woman's tirade, were actually directed at him. He turned around to see a red-haired young woman staring at him with mild brown eyes. He raised an eyebrow. "You see me?"

She nodded, a little smile on her own lips. "I'm looking at you, aren't I?"

Loki's other brow rose to join the first. Well well well, this was more interesting than petty pranks. He crossed to the table where she sat beside a stack of books and pulled out the chair opposite her. "How?" he asked simply.

She shrugged. "Never figured it out. I just see you, and others like you. I'm Taryn."

"Loki Odinsson," he replied, inclining his head to her.

She laughed, drawing the stares of several people who were watching the escalating argument he'd instigated. Loki waved a negligent hand and redirected their attention, not wanting her to stop talking to him because of their scrutiny. "Who are the others like me that you see?" he asked. Æsir rarely visited Midgard any longer, now that they had no believers who prayed for their intervention. She shouldn't have had the opportunity to see enough Æsir to be so calm about it now.

Taryn nodded toward the large picture window behind him. He glanced around and saw the Navy SEALS training on the beach, and his brother, Lady Sif, and the Warriors Three alongside them. "I like the one with the beard. I can't believe he doesn't step on it."

"Ahh, yes, Volstagg," Loki said, watching the warrior run through the obstacles, beard and hair flying wildly. "A very enthusiastic warrior indeed."

Taryn closed her book with a little snap. "Well, you look bored, and I don't think the city needs any chaos right now, so how about coming with me for a coffee? I've always been interested in Asgard. You can tell me your side of all the stories about you."

He sat back in the chair, intrigued and a little taken aback by her boldness. "Why would I do that?"

She reached for one of the books on the table and passed it to him. A History of Asgard, by Taryn Roswell. "Because I'll publish it, embarrassing all of them, and you will have done a little mischief," she said. "How about it?"

Loki smiled–one of his truly wicked grins. She returned it.

And after that day, whenever Thor dragged them all to Earth, Loki made time to see the red-haired mortal woman. Soon Loki was making visits for that purpose alone. Taryn teased him, laughed with him, suggested pranks and helped wholeheartedly to pull them off. He gave her information for her books and if he had to create a few new artifacts for her to reference, what of it? At times he even attended her classes, for Taryn was a professor of Norse Mythology, and asked her awkward questions–usually about himself–just to see how she'd respond. She fascinated him, a bright mortal flame lighting up his immortal existence, bold and fearless for one with so much to lose.

And over the past five years, any mischief he'd created in Midgard had been only for her amusement.