None So Blind
Disclaimer: I do not own Thor.
Note: In this version, Odin is still very angry and takes away Mjolnir but he decides to cool down before deciding on Thor's banishment.
Loki wasn't sure how long he had been standing there, clutching the Casket and trying to absorb this impossible truth, before he dimly registered the presence behind him. That was fine. He had been waiting to be found by his father – was it even his father? How could it possibly be? – and to force a conversation. He knew that it would take drastic measures to get Odin to discuss this but he needed answers and who better to ask than the almighty Allfather?
It was not Odin who spoke, though.
"Brother, after eight hours I am forced to conclude that perhaps my plan to keep tugging at Mjolnir until I am deemed worthy was not the most inspired," Thor announced.
Well of course it wasn't. Loki had told him that when he first came up with the idea. He had been far too pre-occupied with more pressing matters to try to talk his brother out of it, however. Besides, Thor rarely listened to him and if he wanted to waste his time trying to move the unmovable then that was his business. Thor had always assumed that brawn trumped magic and so this failure would be good for him.
"Brother, I am all out of ideas. And before you ask, I came straight to you. Our friends would have the same ideas I did. I need your brilliance, Loki," Thor said earnestly. "How can I prove myself worthy? I am this close to asking Father and you can imagine how well that would go over."
On a normal day, Loki would have been flattered by the words and more pleased than he should be at the scene of Thor begging for his aid. Today, though…today he didn't move. Thor's problems were nothing compared to his own and he'd be damned if he let the man pretend otherwise.
The silence stretched on.
"Loki?" Thor asked finally. "Are you even listening?"
How ironic. Thor was the one who never listened. This was all his fault, really. Thor may not have made him what he was but his ill-fated journey to Jotunheim was what revealed the truth to him. Without that, he might never have known.
"Loki?" Thor asked again, much more urgently. "Is everything alright?"
Loki didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He was a little surprised that Thor had noticed anything wrong at all. But then, his brother needed his advice, didn't he? Needed it badly enough to pay some actual attention for once. Was he alright?
Slowly, he turned around and let Thor judge that for himself.
Thor blinked at him. "You're blue," he blurted out.
"Well-spotted, Thor," Loki said mockingly. "Did you also happen to notice my red eyes?"
Thor nodded. "I did, actually, but I thought that the blue skin was more than enough to be getting on with."
"What, pray tell, do you think that my…unusual coloring means?" Loki challenged. He didn't want to be the first to say it.
"I have no idea," Thor said, bewildered. Apparently he couldn't accept what he was seeing any more than Loki could. Of course, if he could lift Mjolnir then it might have been a different story.
"Come, Brother. You're not stupid, whatever you may pretend," Loki said cuttingly.
Thor's eyes flashed. "I do not-" He cut himself off, perhaps sensing that this was not the time for these kinds of tangents. "Where would you even find that much blue face paint? And wouldn't putting red glass on your eyes be painful?"
Loki closed his eyes for a brief moment, praying for patience. "I'm not using face paint and eye glass. Putting glass in your eyes sounds like something you would do."
"What would I put glass in my eyes?" Thor wondered. "I have it on good authority that my eyes are 'adorable.'"
Loki sighed. "Once again, you've missed the point."
Who would have thought that it would be so difficult to tell someone that he was…Then again, this was Thor.
"And you can't possibly have forgotten that time that you dyed my hair red and then kept doing it for about a decade," Thor said pointedly. Not that anyone had ever caught him. "You have a history of doing this kind of thing."
Loki did well remember that and the only reason he'd stopped was because Frigga had spoken to him about the trouble Thor was causing interrogating everyone about the incident. Thor always believed him when he said he hadn't done something, even when it was blatantly obvious that he had.
"My skin and my eyes really do look like this, Thor," Loki said flatly. "No tricks."
"They didn't look like that this morning," Thor said reasonably.
"This morning I wasn't touching this," Loki replied, holding up the Casket just in case Thor had somehow failed to notice it.
Thor peered closely at the device, light dawning in his eyes.
Finally, Loki thought, satisfied. Now to the reaction.
"Is that the Casket of Ancient Winters?" Thor asked curiously.
Okay, so maybe Thor wasn't quite there yet.
"Yes," Loki confirmed.
"And it turned you blue," Thor continued.
Loki considered. He had always been a…must have been, right? But he could only see this terrible truth by touching a Jotun or the Casket. "I suppose so, yes."
"Then you really should put it down," Thor said seriously. "I don't know why it did that but it can't be good."
Loki shook his head. "Merely putting it down won't make the slightest bit of difference, Thor."
"Did you try?" Thor demanded.
"Well, no, but-" Loki started to say.
Thor crossed his arms. "You can't just say that something won't work without having tried it, Brother! You always do that and then I always prove you wrong."
"Sometimes prove me wrong," Loki couldn't help correcting. "And even when you're right it's always a case of how just because something can be done it doesn't mean that it should be."
"Nonsense," Thor said cheerfully before his eyes turned serious again. "Now put down the Casket, Loki. Let's see if this works."
Sensing that Thor would not be able to focus on anything else until he did as instructed, Loki gingerly placed the Casket back on his resting spot and he felt the magic wash over him as he resumed his usual appearance.
Thor clapped his hands in delight and beamed at him. "See? That wasn't so hard."
But Loki shook his head. "It's not that simple, Thor. Just because I look like this again doesn't mean that everything's fixed."
Thor frowned, puzzled. "I do not understand. Are you worried about long-term effects of exposure to the Casket? You really should have thought of that before picking you up but I suppose we can go to the healing room or ask our Father about this."
Loki sighed. "That's really not it."
"Then what is?" Thor asked simply.
"Just now, when I was touching the Casket," Loki said slowly, "I did not look like myself. What did I look like?"
"But…you did look like yourself," Thor insisted. "You looked like Loki but with blue skin, some forehead markings, and red eyes."
"I looked like a Jotun," Loki said disgustedly, finally forcing himself to admit the words out loud. They felt a lot more real once they'd been spoken.
Thor drew back as if he'd been slapped. "That's a little harsh!"
"It's true," Loki snapped.
"What makes you say that?" Thor demanded.
Loki rolled his eyes. "You just saw me turn into one!"
Thor crossed his arms. "That is circumstantial at best."
"You really don't believe me?" Loki asked incredulously. He hadn't quite been sure how Thor would react – nor had he been worrying about that – but he was certain that this was not it.
"Of course I don't believe it!" Thor exclaimed. "You're my brother and you just claimed that you're a Frost Giant! I know that I'm not a Frost Giant so it stands to reason that you're not one, either."
"I'm not your brother," Loki declared dramatically. "I don't know what happened but I can't be."
"Now that's just hurtful," Thor said, frowning in disapproval.
"It's true," Loki said flatly. "I'm a frost giant and you aren't. I don't know why I didn't suspect earlier. Well…maybe not the Frost Giant part but you and our parents are all blonde."
"You have to be my brother," Thor told him.
Loki raised an eyebrow. "Is that so?"
Thor nodded. "We have the same parents so that makes us brothers."
"They aren't my parents either," Loki said, valiantly fighting the urge to roll his eyes.
"But we're brothers so they must be your parents," Thor argued.
Loki actually did roll his eyes that time. "Now you're just going around in circles."
"Well, it's all connected," Thor explained. "I'm your brother and our parents are our parents."
"You think I'm a monster," Loki accused.
"Where is all this coming from?" Thor wondered. "Of course I don't."
"You would if you admitted I was a Frost Giant," Loki insisted.
"I would not! I could never think my brother was a monster!" Thor said sincerely. "But all of this doesn't matter because you're really not a Frost Giant."
"You watched me turn into one," Loki cried out.
"It was a trick of the light," Thor claimed.
"I'll do it again," Loki threatened.
Thor shrugged. "This tricky, tricky light…"
"Thor, your denial is getting embarrassing," Loki complained.
"And I'm getting a little concerned by your identity crisis," Thor shot back. "I mean, where would Father even get a Frost Giant baby?"
"I believe I can answer that," Odin said as he slowly walked into the room. "I can see that the day to reveal your heritage has come at last, Loki. I had hoped to find a better way to tell you but I never could think of one."
Loki shot Thor a triumphant look at Odin's confirmation of what should be a very obvious truth. It was strange but he felt a lot calmer than he was before, a lot calmer than he had any place being given what horrifying truth he'd just come face to face with. The fact that he was no longer blue was a help, he supposed. As was, strangely, Thor's stubborn refusal to face the truth. It brought him back down to a feeling of normality that he shouldn't be feeling but couldn't help.
Thor shook his head. "I really wish you wouldn't enable him…"
Odin ignored that. "At the end of the last war, I found a baby abandoned in a temple. Maybe it's guards had been killed and maybe it had been left to die. It was much smaller than a Frost Giant baby usually was, about the size of an Asgardian child. I picked it – you – up and to my surprise your coloring changed to match mine."
Thor glanced between Loki and Odin. "Well…almost."
"I took you home and Frigga agreed to raise you as our own," Odin concluded. "I believe you know the rest."
"You must have killed thousands of Frost Giants during the war. Why would you care about the fate of one abandoned child?" Loki demanded, his mind swimming with questions.
"Regardless of what you may think about me, Loki, I am not in the habit of killing children," Odin said stiffly.
Loki shook his head. "No, of course not, but there are a lot of other options between leaving me alone to die or killing me yourself and making me third-in-line for the throne of Asgard. I don't mean to sound ungrateful but you must have had some plan for me."
Odin winced. "Well…"
"Yes?" Loki pressed.
"I did have an idea about using you to unite our two kingdoms in peace," Odin confessed. "You are Laufey's son, after all. But then I realized – with your mother's help – that that was a bad idea. You might have been a prince but you'd likely been abandoned to die and you weren't raised in Jotunheim but in Asgard. They would probably see it as an attempt to rule through a puppet king. Laufey also has two other sons so it's not like he would need a new heir. And if word gets out that I might have technically taken you without his knowledge…well, that might start a war right there. Or maybe he would want you back. It's just not worth the risk."
Loki didn't know how to respond to any of that and so he turned to Thor. "You see? He admitted that I am a monster."
"He said you were a Frost Giant, not a monster," Thor disagreed.
"True," Loki acknowledged. "But Frost Giants are monsters."
"No they're not…" Thor said unconvincingly.
At least he had tried, though.
"You want to kill every last one of them, remember?" Loki reminded him.
Thor had the sense to glance nervously at Odin, knowing that that would not please their father and that he was already treading on thin ice. "Is this your way of asking if I want to kill you, Loki? Because I don't. You're my brother, after all."
"I'm still not your brother, Thor," Loki argued.
"I agree with Thor," Odin spoke up.
Loki drew back. "But you just admitted-"
"Not about you not being a Frost Giant," Odin interrupted. "But you are my son and Thor's brother."
"You just said that wasn't true," Loki said stubbornly.
"There's this marvelous little thing called 'adoption', Brother," Thor informed him helpfully. "Strange that for all your reading and learning you haven't come across this phenomenon before."
Loki rolled his eyes. "Of course I have."
"Then I don't see the problem," Thor said simply. "Even if you were born a Frost Giant to Frost Giant parents – which I still don't believe – then you were still taken in by the most Asgardian Asgardians in all the realm and now you're one of us. You don't have a choice."
"I do have a choice," Loki argued automatically, resenting Thor's presumption.
To his surprise, Thor just grinned at him. "Oh, you do, do you? That's good to hear. So what's it to be, then? Asgardian or Frost Giant?"
"You are impossible," Loki complained.
"That's not an answer," Thor countered. "I do hope you know that you, too, have no reason to doubt that I love you."
Oh, but his sending Frost Giants in to ruin Thor's coronation was something that probably should leave Thor doubting it. Still, there was no need for anyone to ever find out about that.
"I want nothing more than to be an Asgardian," Loki admitted. "But still, I can't just-"
"You are and have always been an Asgardian, ever since I first held you in my arms, Loki," Odin said firmly. "I love you, son, and I always have. Nothing has changed, just your perception of it."
"Why didn't you tell me, then?" Loki demanded. "Why hide it away as if it were some shameful secret if you insist that it's not and you love me?"
"At first you weren't old enough to understand and it was imperative that this be kept a secret," Odin began. "And as you grew older…well, I know the sorts of things they say about Frost Giants. I knew the sorts of things that you and Thor said about Frost Giants. I chastised you when I was around to hear it but I ultimately never thought that you would be happier knowing you were born a Frost Giant than not knowing it."
Loki shrugged, conceding the point. Even now he wished he had never found out about this but it was too late for that.
"Can you forgive an old man his well-intentioned mistakes?" Odin asked softly.
Loki thought about it. He remembered all those stories he'd heard over the years about the horrible, evil Frost Giants that would come and eat you if you weren't good (stories that his parents had never told, true, but he had always assumed it was because as king and queen they were above such plebian scare tactics but perhaps it was for his sake once he found out) and he remembered the hatred and fear he'd had of them all of his life. The few dealings he'd had with them certainly hadn't done anything to improve his opinion of them and he would rather die than live in the decrepit hellhole that was Jotunheim.
He'd never seemed to feel the cold as much as the others did and was more sensitive to the heat. He'd never thought anything of it but now he had to wonder. He was sure that Heimdall, at least, knew even if very few others could possibly know or there was no way this would have stayed a secret for so long. How had they explained his mother's lack of pregnancy? Did they think he was merely Thor's half-brother? He certainly hoped not. His mother deserved better.
And maybe, just maybe, Thor was even right. Just because he had been born a Frost Giant – a monster – and could occasionally be made to look like one didn't have to mean that he actually was one. He had gone Several hundred years without having to face anything that would challenge this belief and now that he knew to avoid it, he might be able to go forever without encountering it again.
"Alright," he said quietly.
Odin closed his eyes in deep relief and Thor threw his hands to the air in celebration of having won the argument. Or maybe he was really concerned. Knowing Thor, it was probably the former.
There was a whooshing sound as Mjolnir came sailing into Thor's hands.
How had that happened?
Thor beamed. "Oh, I just knew I would be worthy soon! Thanks for your assistance, Brother."
"You're…welcome," Loki said slowly, unsure of what assistance he had provided or how any of this had happened. Yes, Thor might have been accidentally of use helping him through the discovery about his birth but the key word was 'accidentally.'
"I'm so glad that my faith in you was fulfilled, Loki, and my faith in you, Thor, was restored," Odin said tiredly, sinking to the ground slowly. "And just in time, too…" His eyes eased shut.
"The Odinsleep," Thor said, walking over to their father and kneeling beside him. "We should get some guards in here."
"In a moment," Loki replied. "I guess this makes you King, doesn't it?"
Thor couldn't help but grin at that. "For now, at least. And if I do a decent job and don't get everyone killed fighting Frost Giants Father may yet make it permanent within the next five hundred years."
"Such optimism," Loki said drolly.
"I'm just not sure what I should do about the Frost Giants," Thor admitted. "We can't just have this stand-off forever."
"I agree," Loki told him. "And I have an idea about that. How do you feel about luring the Frost Giant king to Asgard itself and his certain doom?"
So maybe he still wasn't entirely over it. But winning this not-war before their father awoke would certainly go a long way towards helping him through it.
"I like it," Thor replied. "I'll leave the details to you but he'll probably fall for it. He must be a great fool indeed to have thought it was a good idea to throw away you of all people."
Loki allowed himself a smile at that. Yes, Laufey was a fool and he would tremendously enjoy the chance to prove it to him.