Title: Shattered Glass
Summary: Post-Avengers. Loki has faced his punishment and has been shattered. Thor is trying to mend the pieces, unaware of the danger lurking beneath the broken façade of his brother. The God of Lies has lost the battle, but not the war.
Disclaimer: I do not own Marvel characters, heroes, baddies, weapons, locations ETC. Any character, weapon or location not recognisable is mine.
Rating and Warning: T for Angst and violence in upcoming chapters. Mentioning of torture. Mild swearing. OOCness that is hopefully kept to a minimum.
A/N: This may be a little Thor centred right now, but I am planning to add the Avengers into this in the future. Because I love them. All of them.
…- Chapter one -…
Loki is coming home at last.
With an impatient sigh Thor crosses his arms for the umpteenth time that day, azure eyes gliding over to the All-Father's throne and his father seated upon it. Frigga is seated besides him, holding onto his arm and rubbing circles on it with her hand. Her gaze is cast downwards to the floor and she is as spent as the rest of her family. The thunderer averts his gaze to the grand doors which are still sealed.
He is growing impatient.
Today, by Odin's orders, his younger brother is to be released from his imprisonment. The Golden Son suppresses a shudder when he thinks about whatever fate has befallen his brother. Loki was not send off to the Asgardian dungeons beneath the castle, but to a place far worse. A place where the guards would be able to contain the Trickster God.
The Eternal Prison is a dungeon where there those who have transgressed the laws of the Gods are sent to contemplate the wrongs they have done for an eternity, through the timeless nature of the Prison. It is a place so filled with disturbances and magic that even time is distorted and twisted, ripped from its spirals to bend in the ways of the Prison Guardians.
In Loki's absence of only eighteen months, a century behind and beneath the prison's walls has passed.
Straightening himself again Thor looks back to his parents. Frigga has been sitting on the floor next to her husband's throne for a long time now, her hand has never left Odin's lower arm. In turn, the All-Father's hand is shielding hers, his strong hold unwavering. His lone eye slowly glides between her and their Golden Son, so much more tired.
In his turn Thor silently thanks his father again. He, and his mother, had both been appalled when the All-Father ordered the fallen God's imprisonment in the Eternal prison, a place that is whispered to be the closest thing to a touchable Hell. After his betrayal towards Asgard, after death had seemingly claimed his brother their family had mourned the loss. Thor knows that when Loki let himself fall from the Bifrost that there had been a part of Loki hidden under the madness and the anger. He thought his brother dead, until they met again on Midgard.
His brother hadn't fallen to his death. He had been weakened by it, but not died. There had been something in Loki's place, something dark and vile, fed by the lies the trickster convinced himself were truth. 'I have no home' The God of thunder uncrosses his arms, paces a few steps, and then crosses his arms while doing so. Loki had repeated, over and over, of how they weren't brothers. They share no blood, and they share no home. He claimed they were not brothers.
Thor shakes his head to clear his mind.
They are brothers. Loki is still as much his as he is Loki's. Whatever evil had poisoned the younger God with its lies, it had spoken of Odin's betrayal. That Odin lied, time and again, how Loki was as much his son as Thor. How Odin loved Loki, as much as the All-Father did his firstborn. Loki believed the madness' whispers, believed he has no place in this family.
But if Loki doesn't have a place in this family, then surely Thor doesn't either. Odin is Thor's father, but Frigga is not his real mother. Yet she loves Loki as much as Thor.
…What is taking them so long? Word has come already that the guardians of the prison and Loki have made it through the rebuild Bifrost and are on their way. They should have been here by now. He is slowly becoming sick with anticipation. "Thor." His mother suddenly calls and he is startled. With wide eyes the God turns to face her. She motions at him to come and he obeys without a second thought. With a huff he plants himself on the ground next to her, making her smile. Her hands tangle into his blond locks, and the little family remains seated like this for a while in silence.
Thoughts drift, time passes slowly with ticking minutes, until a sound on the other end of the room makes the thunderer jump to his feet. Odin sits up straighter and Frigga straightens herself. The giant double doors of the throne room swing open, on which three figures are allowed entry by the guards of Asgard.
The Prison Guardians are wearing a long hooded cloak, one is adorned in deep red and vile green, and the other in bruised black and blue. Their cloaks partially hide the tough, heavy looking armour they wear underneath to protect themselves against their volatile prisoners. The only part of their bodies visible is their eyes, empty glowing sockets bellowing poisonous yellow smoke. They are armed with scythes and swords, one is equipped with rows and rows of chain they can use to pin their prisoner should he try to escape and the other carries a whip with jagged pins ready to deal punishment. They are resilient and powerful, two heads higher then the damned soul between them and much broader in build.
They stop their advances a respectable distance from the throne. Thor looks his brother over, not liking what he sees. Loki is masked, making him blind and silent to the world around him. The younger God is dressed in a long, dark cloak that is several sizes too big for him and hangs loosely around him. It is tattered and worn, with streams of cloth that hang well on the floor. Thor can just make out the baggy pants he is wearing beneath them, and socked feet. Loki's hands are bound behind his back.
"All-Father… Freya… Odinson." One of the guards speaks in greeting but it is unclear which one. Aside from the difference in the colour of their cloaks and the chain or whip, the guardians are near identical. As one speaks the greeting, the guardian in black and blue releases the upper arm of the prisoner from his hold and moves to stand behind the smaller God to unbind the mask. Thor can hear one of the buckles coming loose and needs to swallow a sudden lump forming in his throat. He looks the younger man over once more, his emotions conflicting.
"Your… son…" The pause speaks of contempt that has travelled far beyond the realm of Asgard. "…is lost. Poisoned by a madness lurking in the depths of his being." Thor himself is too shocked to hear his mother gasp. Her hand flies up to cover her mouth but her eyes have lost their regal countenance and betray the pain that only a mother can feel. She has to avert her gaze to the floor in order to recollect herself when the mask falls from her son's face.
"Since you have demanded his freedom before we were able to tame the madness within him, we have taken pre-emptive measures to ensure everyone's safety lest he stray from peace once more." The mask is hidden to be taken back to the prison. Loki doesn't respond to the guardian's fussing, not with a gasp of relief or a shaking of his head. He blinks against the light a few times before lowering his gaze to the floor. "What is the meaning of this?" Odin finally speaks up before his wife or son find their voices. His words are carefully measured and devoid of the emotions hammering in his chest. He squares his shoulders to remain rooted on his seat. With great disapproval he looks his youngest son over, lone eye drawn to Loki's face and the greatest cause of his discontent.
The God of lies has been muted, lips sewn shut in a ragged pattern. The wires crisscross over each other and over his lips, keeping them firmly sealed. "The Liesmith will no longer spit his lies or cast magic." One of the guardians steps away from the prisoner and conjures a small chest. With a lowered helm he steps towards the king and queen. He lowers himself to his knees and places the chest on the golden floor before them. He opens the lid, revealing six small vials containing a deep purple liquid, and two vials with a green liquid. "We have lifted many of the seals that bound him and the madness to the prison. These potions will help the wounds recover faster. It is best you start with them tomorrow."
Loki remains unmoving next to the other guardian. He has yet to look up at the others in the room, eyes glued to the shining floor. His body jerks when the guardian begins unhooking the chains binding his arms to his back. Soon the rattling subsides and Loki's arms are free. They lower to his sides. "There are three seals that will remain in order to detain the madness. And…" The guardian lifts one of Loki's arms and pulls the sleeve back, showing off an armlet secured tightly on the trickster's lower arm. It is a disturbingly beautiful ornament, coming from a place of despair such as the prison. "…these will halt the flow of magic. He will not be able to cast a spell."
The guardian delivering the chest returns to his place on Loki's other side. "For today, we recommend a familiar place and rest so he can meditate in peace."
Rooted to his place in the room, Thor is beginning to feel sick. His brother isn't even looking up, though he must know where he is. His emotions get the best of him and his resolve wavers. In a few long strides the thunder God is standing in front of his younger brother, his large hands landing on the sides of the younger man's head. Both guardians step back to let him. Thor's eyes go wide with horror when azure finally meets emerald for the first time in so many months. Loki meets his gaze with an emptiness that has the larger man speechless with shock.
In that one look everything becomes crystal clear. His brother is broken. A hollowed shell of a man tortured into surrender and obedience. "What have you done to him?" When he finally finds his voice it is barely a whisper, but loud enough for the guardians to hear. "The prison is a place of peaceful meditation." One begins, the left one turning his head to the thunder God and the other lowering his gaze to their prisoner. Thor brushes a hand over his brother's cold cheek, carefully sliding a thumb over the side of his mouth. The stitches are strong and very secure, hot against his skin. If his younger brother is disturbed by his touches, he doesn't show it. "That is how you call a hellhole where its captives are tortured without mercy?" He rasps, pressing a little harder on the side of the younger man's lips almost desperate for any kind of reaction.
"Indeed." One of the guardians replies without a second's thought. Thor can't tell which one replied to his question though.
They back away from the brothers and bow deep before the king and queen. One of them speaks up once again. "Be weary of the madness. The Liesmith is a volatile creature." Thor gives one of them, probably the one that is speaking, a harsh glare. It is taking all of his self restraint not to unleash Mjolnir upon them.
The giant doors slam shut behind the guardians, leaving the now complete family in an ominous silence. The only thing Thor can hear at the moment is his heart beating in his chest. It lurches painfully when he lowers his gaze to his brother again, to the shell that was his brother. It takes all of his willpower to step away from the younger God to give his mother access to him. Without a moment's hesitation Frigga pulls Loki into her arms, murmuring sweet nothings at him.
Thor stays put as his father rises from his throne as well. With measured steps he closes the distance between his son and wife and without hesitating he wraps his broad arms around both their smaller forms into a tight hug. Frigga continues to speak into Loki's hair even as Odin pulls away again, carefully studying his youngest son. From the look in his father's eye Thor can tell that Odin is not very pleased with this turn of events. "Are you hungry?" Frigga softly asks. If it is up to her the stitches will be removed immediately. "Tired?" She pulls back when her son doesn't respond to her, worry etching her face. "Loki?"
He seems to hear her judging by the way his back tenses and relaxes, but nothing more.
"Loki!" He startles from the sound. Frigga places her hands on his face and stares into his jade eyes, and they finally roll towards her. Loki does not take her in. His eyes glide over her face, her eyes, her lips, back to her eyes. Frigga brushes a hand over his cheek, like she always had when he was so much younger when he needed comfort, in the hope he will lighten up and see her.
There is nothing.
His eyes are devoid of sentiment.
Frigga doesn't take very well to that. She is slowly becoming white, paler then she already was from sleepless nights filled with worry over her son's return. Her husband wraps an arm around her waist and pulls her away from their youngest, to keep her standing and to keep her from losing her mind over her baby's obvious Hell. Thor can feel the regret roll off of his father in waves as Odin looks at the youngest one more time, his lips drawn into a thin line as he thinks.
"Thor…" His voice is rough with rarely shown emotion. The thunderer tenses greatly at his father's call. "…take your brother to his room. He needs his rest." Just as the guardians had offered.
Without a word, or thought for that matter, Thor does as he is told. He slowly wraps an arm around his brother's shoulder, gently getting his attention. With a small tug he motions Loki to come, and Loki obeys without so much as a changing glance.
The walk to Loki's room has never been this long. It feels as if an eternity of discomfort passes as the two brothers walk through the corridors of Asgard. They have walked amongst these halls for centuries, in the good times and in the bad. They have hit the bottom now.
Loki's chambers have remained untouched throughout his absence, only occasionally cleaned from dust. When first presumed dead after his fall from the Bifrost, it had been Frigga who had demanded the rooms be left intact and untouched by anyone. Her pain had cut deep and she had often wandered into these rooms. No mother nor father should have to carry the burden of burying their child. These were the words she had shared with Thor when he had enquired once.
He never asked again.
Thor releases his hold on his brother as they enter the room. To his amazement Loki takes a few steps more into the room, halting somewhere near the centre. He makes no move to check his study or his bedroom, nor does he move towards the large balcony on his left.
Perhaps he is still deciding on where to go first?
That is what Thor tells himself as he watches his brother for a while. Seconds turn into minutes, and the minutes slowly but surely tick into an hour. And Loki is still standing there.
"Loki…?" The trickster visibly tenses and begins to turn. It seems that the younger God had forgotten his brother's presence already. Thor slowly closes the distance between them, carefully watching his brother for anything. An emotion, a twitch, a move, anything. "Loki…" Something sparkles. Had he blinked, Thor would have missed it. But he didn't. His azure eyes stare deep into emerald, searching for that little spark but as soon as it came, it disappeared again. But it fills him with hope none the less. "Brother…" He whispers softly with a soft smile appearing on his lips.
There it was again.
The proof that his brother is still alive. It brings a sad smile to the thunderer's face. With that small smile still on his lips he turns towards the door. His eyes are met by his mother's.
She could not stay away.
"I…" Never, not once has Thor heard her choke on her words. It only adds to the gravitation of this situation. She sighs deeply and walks forward, not caring for her faltering façade as she embraces her lost son once again. "I love you." She whispers, and Loki gives no response. Not to the kiss planted on his forehead, not to the thumb tracing circles on his cheek that is careful to avoid his sewn mouth, not to the soft hug she pulls him in. They stay together like this for a little while, Frigga holding onto her youngest son and basking in his presence and Loki standing still and staring over her shoulder at a blank spot on the wall in front of him. He doesn't embrace his mother even though she has missed him so. Nimble fingers tangle into raven locks, brushing through the strands like she did when her boys were younger. Mother's hug always calmed them down and cheered them up, but not this time.
The young God is barely aware of her.
With a final kiss to the side of his head Frigga bids him goodnight and releases him. Her eyes search his one last time, but he sees straight through her as if she were a spectre. It pains her to see her child like this. The queen realises that if she doesn't go now, she will not be able to leave at all. A final brush to his chilly cheek and Frigga is turning, reluctantly pulling away. "Mother." And halting when her other son calls her.
Thor is by her side in a few steps, one arm outstretched and a story on his lips that is cut off when his mother almost flings herself into his chest. His broad arms encircle her in the love she is almost desperate to share. "He is still there." She whispers into his hair with a quiver in her voice. Then she pulls away and makes a quick exit, rushing to her husband's side.
As the heavy door clicks closed Thor returns to his brother's side, lowering a hand on each of Loki's shoulders. When he gives them a comforting squeeze the younger man tenses ever so slightly, the muscles in his back and shoulders going stiff. Their eyes meet once again and just like in the throne room there is a glint in Loki's eyes. The Golden Son was unsure what it was at first but now he knows what that glint means.
The glint dies out in the next second and Loki changes back into a shell, pulled back into the safety of his own mind. Thor doesn't know what to make of this. He is no mind reader, no doctor. He is nothing that Loki needs now, save for a shoulder to lean on as he recovers from what must have been a terrible fate. The prison is a place of peaceful meditation. He quickly suppresses that thought. This is not what he thought would happen to his brother. This cannot be what their father had in mind when he ordered Loki's imprisonment in that forsaken place.
…The look in his brother's eyes when Odin had judged had been murderous. He had never seen his brother that crazed, that furious, that insane. For a moment, for a fraction of that moment Thor had feared, not for his brother, but for everyone around them. Loki's rage stretches far, and the madness has made him merciless. Had turned his brother into a heartless monster craving vengeance and calamity.
Yes, Thor thinks to himself as he wraps his arms around his brother and pulls him close once again; yes Loki deserved to be punished. Hundreds of people had died that day when he unleashed his army upon Midgard, and hundreds more lost their jobs and their homes. If he hadn't been stopped, millions more would have fallen victim to the madness.
The Golden son sighs deeply and releases the smaller man. He places his hands on Loki's shoulders once more, one hand reaching up to rest on the back of his brother's neck, as always. Thor gives his brother a smile, this one filled with warmth. "Rest well brother." Yes, Loki has paid for his crimes, and he has paid enough. Now that he is home everything can be as it once was once more. Before the jealousy, before the pain and hate. "Welcome home." Everything will be as it is supposed to be. There will be Thor, with his brother at his right hand.
As it is supposed to be.
If you know where I stole the eternal prison from I want to make sweet love to you, you beautiful person you!
On that bombshell: Frigga, Freya, Fricka it's all the same. She rocks. 'nuff said.