When the Fires All Burn Down

Dark Lady Devinity

A/n: Wrote this while listening to Jann Arden's "Time for Mercy.

Some spoilers for the Avengers but nothing too major, I don't think. Mostly this is an introspective piece about how the Avengers feel about the idea of Loki being punished for mass murder and world domination. Cause, you know, Loki's kind of crazy at points in the Avengers movie and he certainly wasn't all stable in Thor. So there's the question: is Loki mentally ill and if he is, is he responsible for his actions?

When the Fires All Burn Down

He's an insane, murdering psychopath that deserves everything that is coming to him. He's so smart, so sharp, so clearly able to think up details that it's hard to believe that's there's anything out of place in his mind except for the part where he's an evil sicko. Loki has destroyed so much, taken so much, that of course he requires punishment. Some even demand the death penalty.

And it would be so easy to give in to those demands.

So why is it so hard?

Thor, obviously, is part of the problem. He demands that Loki should be taken home to Asgard to answer for his many crimes. Also, Loki is still Thor's baby brother and thus the god of thunder does not trust any other worlds' punishments. But the true issue of how to treat Loki is something much more substantial than that. These are two immortal gods that have known each other all their lives and in the intimate way that only siblings could. Thor knows where every childhood scar on Loki's body came from because he was always there when Loki needed stitches. He knows that Loki hates meat that is anything less than well done. He knows the name of the first girl Loki ever loved and he knows that a young Loki used to be afraid of the water. So Thor knows that there's something different about Loki, something that's deep and in his bones and in his mind. Something that has sprouted roots and make the trickster god into an agent of chaos and destruction instead of an agent of simple mischief.

It's not so hard for Tony. The villain had been caught and punishment waited. Tony never thought about what that punishment would be. He was always too busy coming up with better and bigger plans to repair the physical damage that was done and donating the necessary funds to hospitals and newly filled orphanages. He could not think about punishments. If he did, he'd wonder what sorts of punishments he deserved for his weapons had killed so many and he felt he had not yet made up for that.

Natasha's an assassin and that means that she does not really see the trouble with execution so long as the right person is being executed. Although now she understands that there are better alternatives. She does not need the extra red in her ledger if it can be avoided.

Clint is biased. He wants to see Loki pay. He'll never forget the feeling of having someone else in control of his mind and body. But he is not cruel. He's just not ready to be anything but biased.

It is a hard thing for Bruce to come to grip with. He's a scientist, not a psychologist, but he took a few psychology courses in college. Hell, he had once bought psych books along with self-help books in the hopes that he might find a way to control the Hulk. So he doesn't like to hear labels like "insane" or "sick" tossed around when it comes to super villains. It's one thing if the labels are simply derogatory terms. However, if they're accurate (albeit not the proper medical terminology) then Loki may not be legally responsible for his actions. And Bruce does not want to know what thought process, delusion or chemical imbalance could make the destruction of a world perfectly fine in someone's mind.

Steve has much the same problem with Loki that Bruce does. Unlike Bruce, he doesn't understand the theories behind mental illness. Unlike Bruce, Steve has seen people lose their minds and shatter into a billion tiny shards of humanity. The Second World War was a cold, cruel affair and shell shock was its sadistic mistress. Steve has seen men shake uncontrollably for no reason, scream, cry and give up their faith despite ranting to a god they no longer believed in. He's seen men go from rational in one moment to completely delusional and then back to rational. Loki sometimes does that.


They end up giving Loki over to Thor and the god takes his brother home. Thor was the most demanding of them all, after all, and they did not want to anger him.

Loki had a complete break down the night before. He was screaming and sometimes wailing. He was despair and chaos and pure, drowning insanity. There were things said that all the Avengers suspected that Loki did not mean to tell anyone. Then he was back to cold, calm, calculating Loki. He didn't even seem to remember having the break. It was disturbing but it highlighted that fact that Loki may not be all there.

It was obvious that they couldn't give the god over to the World Security Council. The council would never consider providing psychological help to someone who nearly destroyed the world. The council nearly caused the destruction of Manhattan because of said someone. It was easier to let Thor take Loki and trust that the god's own people would know what the right thing to do was.

All the fires have burned down. People have died and will be buried. It's too late to change that but knowing how to be merciful might make things a little easier.

Please let it be easier.

The End

By the way, I would love it for life if someone wrote me a story where Loki was completely mentally ill and the Avengers had to deal with it. Or even just Thor. Cause mental illness is complicated and serious and maybe it's why Loki does what he does. I'm a psychology major. I need mentally ill characters... That sounds creepy….