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Chapter Thirty

Loki Odinsson sneered mentally as he picked his way through the debris that littered the street. He did not let his disgust show on his face, of course, unwilling to give his… guards… any sort of satisfaction. Both of them were watching him closely from under odd yellow hats, like the one that someone had jammed on his own head. Apparently, in order to watch him without arousing suspicion, they would be joining him in his punishment.

Manual labor was degrading for a prince, yes, but did not seem to balance the scales. The god knew without a doubt that there was more to this than he had been told. And without his magic, he had no way of diverting the backlash.

He was lead up to a large, scowling, hairy man who seemed to be in charge of the roving mass of equally as large and hairy men that were moving beams and chunks of concrete, and operating large metal horses.

"Here he is, Grant." Hawkeye said to the man, pointing jauntily over his shoulder. The man, Grant, looked at him and the dark expression on his face grew possibly even darker.

"Looks like a sissy boy. What sort of help will he be?" He asked gruffly, eying Loki. All he was seeing was a tall, thin, almost willowy looking stranger with intelligent eyes, not the god with more power in his pinky than almost thought possible. SHEILD had been thorough in their cleansing of media, and no one would know who Loki really was.

Black Widow smirked in amusement. "Oh trust me, you'll be surprised. Remember the deal is that all three of us are working in the same area, so where are you putting us?"

The three were directed to an area that was already being worked on by almost a dozen men that could have given his brother a run for his money in size (though not in sheer strength, of course). It was obvious that the human, Grant, thought that Loki would be incompetent and weak, needing the backup of the others in order to get anything done.

In response, Loki picked up a large broken metal beam and effortlessly toted it over to the pile that was already forming. He was considered weak on Asgard, but even the weakest babe on his planet would be stronger than seven of the strongest men on Midgard.

For a moment, the men seemed to boggle at the incongruity, but they shortly accepted it. Living in this day and age inured everyone to seeing things differently.

Soon he and his two minders were immersed in the nearly mindless work. Loki fought against the slight daze it tried to lure his mind into. Something was going to happen soon, he just knew it.

And just as he thought that, he reached for a small piece of concrete that had a suspicious red stain on it, and the screaming started. For just an instant, he thought they were under attack, but then his surroundings faded. He could still feel the sun on his neck and the concrete under his fingers, but he could not see them. Instead, he saw what seemed to be a birthing chamber. A woman lay screaming on the bed while a male and female in light blue garbs leaned over her lower regions.

For hours Loki watched the screaming woman and her attendants, until at last, a squalling infant was withdrawn from the shadowing region between her thighs. For a moment, Loki was reminded of the birth of his own children, one of which he had experienced himself. He had been present for all three births the sprung from the Frost Giantess Angrboda, in the hopes that each one would bring forth a proper heir. But no, their cursed union produced two animals and a female. He had taken each and not called upon her again after the third failure…

He tore his mind away from that line of thinking. It did not help decipher the meaning of anything that was happening.

Over the past few hours, while the strange woman moaned and screamed her agony, he had tried to ignore her in favor of finding a way out of this place, but no matter how many times he attempted to turn his attention away, it was drawn almost forcefully back.

Like a spell.

This must be the other part of the punishment, though other than a headache from all the noise, Loki could not see how this would teach him anything…

"It's a boy." The male announced proudly. After that bustling of another kind started while the woman lay panting but triumphant on the bed. The babe was cleaned and presented to its mother. No father was in sight. At first Loki had assumed the male that had helped deliver the babe had been the father, but no, it hadn't taken him long to figure out that both him and the female were healers of some sort, though far more scientific than the ones he had experience in dealing with.

Both left the room, and the mother cooed at her child. "I'll name you after him, just like I promised." She whispered, so as not to wake the sleeping babe.

The spell kept Loki in its thrall as he watched the child grow in real time. He did not grow hungry as the years passed, nor did he tire. Obviously he was caught in an illusion.

The child had been name John after his father, apparently a 'soldier', Midgard's version of a warrior, who had died in battle before the birth. Johnny was a loud, unruly child, whose only redeeming quality was how much he adored his mother. Loki only saw her when she was around her child though, as the spell seemed to be focused on him.

Johnny joined up with this group of rough looking young men when he was a teenager, and Loki shook his head. His mother would be heartbroken if she saw her son do even a fraction of the things the god witnessed.

Then he rolled his eyes. He would not be brought to care about the feelings of a Midgardian woman who might not even be real.

He watched Johnny sink deeper and deeper into the darkness that all humans are vulnerable to, and was convinced that the boy would be killed by one of his own associates…

And he almost was. Loki bit back a cry on the day that John Christopher Ingram got shot in the chest by a jealous young man who had been eyeing the woman John had been seeing for months.

But, due to the scientific healers, Johnny survived something that he rightly should have, and Loki watched the procedure that saved his life with avid, fascinated eyes. How humans had changed in the years since the Vikings…

Johnny recovered, and assured his weeping mother that things would change. And change they did.

John moved his mother and himself from a place called Chicago where they had supposedly been living to… Manhattan, New York.

There he attended something called night school, and got a job in this boring place filled with box shaped areas where the workers appeared to be stored. He bought his mother a small apartment and begged her to quit her job as a server of food, and rely on her son's paycheck, which she eventually did after much persistence. John kept mostly to himself while he worked his way up through things called promotions. Things looked promising for him…

Until the day the sky opened and spilled out the Chitauri.

John was evacuated with his coworkers, but paused a moment to squint upwards in disbelief. And that was when a Behemoth hit the building he had worked in for the past three years. Most of the debris fell away from him, but one smaller piece of concrete fell in a certain way, and Loki watched with a sense of inevitability. He stopped himself from leaping at the young man he had literally watched grow up. The concrete struck John soundly on his skull, his death instantaneous.

Loki found himself once again crouched on the ground outside a now familiar building (had he not seen it every day for the past three years?) with his fingers resting on a piece of concrete stained in red. He jerked his hand back, his eyes wide. His cheeks felt wet, and he was astonished to find that he had been crying.

Natasha watched from a few yards away as Loki bent to pick up something, and froze, his eyes wide. He stayed like that for about five minutes before he seemed to come back to himself, and tears began to pour down his thin cheeks. She felt a small sense of self-righteousness. The bastard deserved to suffer… Sighing, she acknowledged Clint's signal, and moved forward with him to gather their 'guest' and usher him away without a 'by your leave' to the boss. He had been warned that they would most likely be erratic, and with ten other guys working in the same area, it wasn't like their contributions would be sorely missed.

The two herded the slightly dazed looking Loki back to Stark Tower without even a token protest from him. Just what had Harry done to him, and could Natasha learn how to do it too?

OoOoOoOoO

Harry looked up from his packing as a tug on his spell on Loki informed him that it had been activated for the first time. He bit back a smirk. He was rather proud of this bit of work. It was a lot like what he had put on the SHEILD council members, except worse. Whereas the council only saw flashes of the person's life, Loki bore witness to the entire thing, from birth to death. It also had traces of a sort of compulsion to feel empathy, too, as there was the slight possibility that the otherworldly god would not mind watching a human be born, live, then die by consequence of his actions. So Loki would feel a connection to the humans…

Harry wondered how that would affect him.

Shrugging, Harry finished packing then called to his travelling companions. "Come on, Sleipnir, Fenrir, the helicopter will be here in a few minutes!"

The wolf cub came bounding in dragging what seemed to be one of Tony's more expensive shoes. Harry smiled and added it to the luggage. Every kid needs a toy to keep them busy during a trip, after all. Sleipnir followed, wordless amusement flowing over their link.

"I take it you're the one who directed him to Tony's shoe closet." The human said, grinning.

"I have no idea what you're talking about. Now, you said we were leaving?" Sleipnir not so subtly deflected.

Snorting, the wizard said, "Yeah, actually let's head on up to the roof now. It might actually be here now."

"Why are you now instantly taking us there, as you have done before?"

"That wouldn't be the best thing to do right now. Besides, you don't like it. So we're taking the helicopter there. It's actually not too far…"

"Why do I feel like you are not telling me something?"

"Trust me; this is something you're going to have to see for yourself."

Fenrir yipped impatiently, and was obviously unhappy at being ignored. Harry laughed and shrunk the trunk down, before slipping it in his pocket. "Alright, your majesty, lead the way." He said grandly, motioning at the door. Fenrir imperiously huffed, then scampered out.

The three made their way onto the roof, where they were buffeted by the wind generated by the blades of the helicopter that was landed there. Harry picked up Fenrir and stuck him into his bag so the pup would not be swept off the roof. He grabbed Sleipnir's mane and they climbed aboard. The pilot did not look fazed at having a large horse as a passenger. Being in Tony Stark's employ, he had probably seen stranger, Harry mused.

They took off smoothly, rising into the blue sky. Fenrir placed his paws against the window and stared out with rapt attention. Sleipnir held very still, knowing that if he gave into his urge to shift nervously, it could affect the craft.

Lucky for him, they landed not long after that.

"You some sort of tourist?" The pilot asked casually.

"I guess you could say that." Harry replied cryptically before pulling the headset off and guiding Sleipnir off. The helicopter took off again. The pilot had been instructed not to come back for two hours.

Removing the muffling spell he had placed on both animals to protect their ears from the invasive sound of the helicopter, Harry looked around at the place he had always wanted to visit.

The Statue of Liberty stood proud, and enormous, on her pedestal. The entire island was deserted, which meant that Tony had somehow figured out a way to keep all of the actual tourists away from the attraction for the day. Harry briefly wondered how much that had cost the man.

Moving to edge of the island, Harry stared into the churning water. He did not think it odd that the water was calm everywhere but here. He had a strong suspicion on what was causing it. At that moment, as if to prove him right, something the size of a small bus breached the surface of the ocean.

It was an eyeball. The eye blinked once, and then focused on them unerringly.

Fenrir yapped in a panic, scrabbling at Harry's torso. The wizard placed his palm on the squirming pup's back, sending calming thoughts to the wolf until he had stilled. "Fenrir, this is your brother, Jormungand." He said softly, and the pup shook as he turned to face his kin again.

"Don't like being small…" He pouted, almost as an explanation.

"Worry not, Small one…" The voice seemed to pause in thought, and then corrected itself, "Brother…" The voice was whispery in their minds while the rest of the head emerged. It was almost the size of the island itself, and Harry quickly shielded the island from muggles and their detection devices. Seeing something like a giant snake so soon after aliens came knocking on Earth's door could cause a panic.

"Jormungand Lokisson… Good to finally meet you."


Looooong time in coming. I meant to update on the one year anniversary, but... extenuating circumstances and a long story... and moving... Then the issue with how I was going to pull of Loki's punishment... Hey, wanna know why Jormungand is wrapped around the base of Eliis Island? Because either I'm too predictable or you people are too smart. I was going to make him the Loch Ness Monster, but that had been guessed twenty billion times over... Anyway, I'm off to go try and figure out tumblr. I've had one for like, a year, but just started using it recently... Happy Anniversary to Crestfallen! Yay!

Lionna