The Trade of Kings

A Thor, Supernatural Crossover.

Summary: Loki gets voted in as the next War.

Note: Title from a John Dryden, "War is the trade of kings." Originally posted as a response to the Thor Kinkmeme prompt in which Loki became a horseman via Supernatural or Good Omens. I picked War from Supernatural.

Part One

If Loki finds it odd that none of the guards can see Them, he doesn't say anything. He can't. The gag prevents his words, traitorous things that whispers claim should be silenced forever, and the Others have not acted against him. He sees them in the reflections of dripping water, the eyes of his cold guards, and buzz of insects. He can hear their half-formed words shaped in shadows: sometimes heated, sometimes curious.

Loki knows they are talking about him. Who isn't?

Even shoved down into the dungeons, out of sight out of mind, those moments when he made everyone see him were so, so delicious. He would do it all again. And Again. And Again.

"There is red in your ledger." One of Them then says as he dabs at his nostrils with a mucus covered handkerchief. Even as deeply buried as Loki is, whispers of Idunn's apples being found with infestations of worms has reached him. "Lots of red. Oceans of red. We like red."

Loki cannot speak, but he smiles -painfully, tiny thorns digging into his flesh- beneath the mask and arches an eyebrow.

The other two men are slender as sticks, almost skeletons, and the one who would look upon Loki's unseeing guards with Hunger runs his thumb over a ring that to all outward appearances is nothing but a bauble badly in need of polishing. His hair is wisping, falling out, and when he smiles his teeth are yellowed like jaundice. "Red is a good color. Fresh meat. Priceless rubies. Endlessly consuming fire. Red triggers a psychological need to feed in human mortals."

"Used quite often in restaurant logos." The third man comments idly, taking a seat beside Loki and opening a bag dripping in grease. He seems rather bored, and offers a sandwich that is sixty percent gravy to Loki. Loki allows himself some entertainment in watching the delicate way the man eats. He spills not a drop on his tailored suit. Loki wonders how his guards don't hear the echoing gargle of a styrofoam cup being drained dry.

The others patiently wait for their third to finish his meal, rolling their eyes like overly familiar courtiers, and at long last the slender man crumples his bag and turns his head to Loki, eyes speculating.

"The thing is," the incredibly thin man says. "We are missing one of our number. Always four there were meant to be. Four Horsemen."

The reference is supposed to mean something, but Loki doesn't know what. Though he's always been interested in other Realms, other Religions seemed stupid. Was he not a god? What care he for the superstitions of lesser creatures?

"Our brother," the dribbly one says. "Was an idiot. A small-thinking idiot who got his finger lopped off by a pair of magic-less mortals."

"Leaving his position open. Of course," The Hungry one takes up the thread of discussion, lacing his fingers together in a consolatory gesture. "We all made our mistakes. Picking the losing side, for one, overconfidence, for another."

"But neither of you curled up on the floor into a whining ball of metaphorical personification," the one by Loki's side sneered. "Childish."

"Yes. Well." There was a shuffling of feet.

Loki gave a questioning glance.

"We are in need of a brother, Loki." The Other said seductively, leaning close, and for all he appeared frail and old and disgusting there was something about him that made Loki want. "As, we think, are you."

"I'm Pestilence." He sneezed as if to punctuate the statement, and Loki could hear one of the guards down the hall break into a coughing fit- something all but unheard of in Asgard.

"Famine." The skinny one said where he had perched himself at Loki's other side, reaching up to gently tuck one of Loki's stray locks back behind his ear.

Loki turned his head to the last one, who merely bobbed his head regally. His voiced name was like brittle fingernails snapping, echoing clang of vault doors, the fogging last breath of a lost traveler in winter. Death's lips twitched at Loki's surprised, and confused, expression.

"I have on occasion assumed female form. I am the death of all things. I show no favor for men, women, mortal or," he smiled a secret. "Immortal."

"But we are incomplete." Famine continued, eyes roving over Loki's form. "And you are so red. Dripping. Drowning in it. Beautiful."

Death produced a small ring box from his coat pocket, and presented it to Loki. The chains that bound the god's hands clinked as he ran his fingers over the velvet, creaking it open and gazing on the small gold ring inside. The metal blurred in the dim light that broke through the door from the hall, and Loki could hear screams filling the small cell. Fire lit in Loki's eyes and he knew, knew, that this ring was far more powerful than any scepter. It was a sword that he could use to cut into the very heart of nations and make the land itself bleed. It sang to him, whispered of great deeds done, of betrayal and confidence and glory all rolled into one.

Loki lovingly traced the impossibly tiny, powerful thing with his finger.

"What say you... brother?" Death asked at his side, eyes old and patient. A hunter that knew his prey was already in the net, and he had all of eternity to reel it in.

Loki blinked, shaking himself free of the ring's spell, and looked to the three man shaped beings. They were not mortal, and yet not immortal. Not gods.

They wanted to be his brothers. Thor had come to visit him during his imprisonment infrequently. Sometimes he sat and stared like Loki was some exhibit in a zoo. Sometimes he railed and demanded to know why Loki had done what he had done. Why Loki refused to acknowledge their brotherhood.

But you could love without being brothers. You could be brothers without love. Odin and Frigga called him son, but they didn't love him. If they did, they would offer him a good death, an execution on his feet, fighting, for his crimes. He would go to Valhalla then- if Frost Giants were even permitted in those hallowed halls.

But they would not give him the Peace and Rest and Reward of a Warrior's death. They wanted their Jotun foundling rotting until Ragnarok.

Loki slipped the ring onto his fingers, taking a sharp inhale as the power dug under his skin and etched itself into his bones. His scalp tingled, the metaphorical blood on his hands manifesting in the roots of his hair. Red. Red. Red. Pestilence touched his shackles, tarnishing the uru until the worked joints screeched final protest and fell away with a dull thud. Loki removed the gag himself as his jailers arrived, stunned, and grinned at them with bloody teeth.

Red. Red. Red.

He did not need to speak. Here were brothers who loved him, who wanted him, not in spite of his failings but because of them. Unconditional acceptance of the red. Red. Red. Dripping. Drowning. Dancing. A Deluge of Red. Red. Red. They looked on him, smiling pleasantly, waiting for him to lead them to their golden fields of wheat.

"Welcome to the family."