A/n: If you have already seen this chapter, it is because it is the same chapter. I reposted because fanfiction's email alerts system went down or something, and didn't go back up until today. This repost is for the more ancient (and very lovely) followers who have been waiting forever for a new chapter.
Chapter 10: In Which I Hear Some Truths
What Loki said to me really hit me hard. I couldn't get his words out of my head no matter how hard I tried.
At least I use my gifts when necessary. What do you use them for?
It was so incredibly stupid. The reason that I chose to stop with the superhero antics was because I didn't know what I was doing. People died. Sure I had power, but it meant nothing if I couldn't use it properly.
What do you use them for?
It also meant nothing if I couldn't use it at all.
I stood in the disheveled mead hall for a long time.
It wasn't like I never questioned myself. Heck, I probably questioned myself the most. And it wasn't like I'd never had any doubts about my choices regarding Spiderman. But I'd always been mostly sure—
What do you use them for?
When I was finally able to snap myself out of it, it wasn't because I had reached a conclusion. No, it was because I realized that I needed to do something with myself. I was always entirely too good at drowning in my own thoughts, though while I knew intellectually it was not a good thing, I couldn't seem to stop myself from doing it.
This was usually the point at which I would work on some latest science project. When I still was arrogant enough to believe I could save the world, this is when I would have donned the Spider Man costume.
To actually do something rather than just dwelling on my uselessness.
Finally I moved, and it was not back towards my bedchamber or even to find Thor and the others. Because whatever state of confusion my mind was in, I was very clear about one thing.
I found Odin in the audience room. He was sitting on his throne, spear laid across his legs as he talked to a tall, dark skinned man. His guards moved to stop me from entering, but Odin saw me and waved them away.
"I need to speak to you," I said, my voice hard.
Odin paused. The gaze he fixed me with was contemplative. He shared a look with the man to whom he was conversing with and nodded. His companion swept out, taking the guards with him. They did not look pleased, but did as bade.
"What is it, Peter Parker?" Odin asked. His eyes were kind, but there was steel in his voice.
I had stormed through the halls easily enough, but now I faltered. I had come in with righteous fury, but now that I thought about it, what proof did I have that Loki was not lying? What if the green eyed prince had simply been trying to make me doubt Odin, and for Odin to actually imprison me because I'd broken some other unknown rule of Asgardian hospitality?
But I had to know.
"You can send me home, can't you? You lied when you said you couldn't. I've just been an unwitting prisoner this whole time."
"How…?" Odin looked startled, and then his eye narrowed. "Loki."
"So it's true then." I couldn't believe it. It was suddenly too hard to breath. I felt betrayed in the worst way possible. "You really are—"
"What a stupid son I have," Odin sighed. "He thinks he sees so much, yet the important things, he misses. It would have been better if he had said nothing."
"Well I'm glad he did." Anger was chasing away the uncertainty I'd experienced with the green clad god. At that moment, I could have kissed Loki. "Otherwise I never would have known, would I?"
"It would have been easier if you did not." There was something on Odin's face that almost looked sad, even though he had no right to look that way. "But since you have already been told, I will not deny it."
My fists clenched at my sides. "I can't believe you—" My voice rose. "You can't do this to me!"
Odin's eye opened, and there was suddenly something ominous in his stance, "Can't I?"
I froze. A god. I had forgotten that I was speaking to a verifiable god.
For a moment fear battled with anger. The guy in front of me could probably smite me with a wave of his hand. But then, I'd never been one to back down because of a size difference.
"No," I growled. "You can't. You can't intimidate me."
And quite suddenly, Odin's stance changed. He relaxed, leaning back on his spear and looking for all the world like a kindly old man. "You would have been a fine Asgardian."
The compliment threw me for a loop. My anger swirled in confusion, and some of it flushed away in the swirl before I could stop it.
"Yeah well," I retorted, "I'm human, and I prefer it that way. I also prefer to live on Earth."
"Yes," Odin smiled sadly, "I prefer that you would as well. No doubt that Loki has told you a lot, but he has not told you everything. Would you hear me out?"
The kindly request was… something that I had not expected at all. I didn't kid myself. This was a powerful man in front of me. He was the king of the gods, for Pete's sake. And he still spoke to me so politely. It was kind of humbling.
I was still angry at him, but it was hard to keep that up when the source of your anger acted like this. The teenage part of me wanted to plug my ears and sing 'lalala'. The rest of me knew that was stupid.
I deflated slightly, "Fine."
Odin nodded, and then he sighed, "It is not that I wanted to fool you. It was simply easier for you to believe that I did not have the capability to send you home until the other man is found, because I cannot send you home until then. I mean this in the way that it cannot be solely my decision, and hence I cannot act."
Ah, politics. I closed my eyes. I thought I could already see where some of this was going.
"Look at it from my perspective if you will. You are an intruder whose origins we cannot be sure of. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but as a king I cannot allow personal feelings to come in the way of statehood. If you do happen to be telling a lie, then it is my people who would suffer. Do you understand?"
I wanted to argue. I really, really, did. But I did understand. Here was a man who could make the tough decisions that I could not. My anger drained away completely.
I bowed my head. It was too painful to speak.
"I see that you do," Odin said gently. "You are a good child."
My lips spasmed. Good child? I was anything but.
Odin's eyes were sad. "I do not wish to treat you as a prisoner. You are still a guest of Asgard. Please use our facilities as you wish."
Somehow, I got myself to nod.
I spent the next week holed up in the library.
It was airy and magnificent, as with everything else in Asgard, but I couldn't find the energy to admire it. I couldn't even find the energy to take in the vast amount of wondrous knowledge available, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn't distract myself.
Loneliness raked me. It wasn't so bad when I didn't think I could go home. But to know that it was within reach but I just wasn't allowed… that was painful.
Gwen. Aunt May. I missed them like a phantom limb.
Pushing back my chair, I lay my forehead against the cool oak of the table I was currently sitting at, closing my eyes. A book lay open beside me, its pages not having been turned for the past hour.
"This sucks," I muttered.
"What 'sucks'?" Another boomed, voice curious.
I nearly jumped about a foot in the air. As it was, I did bang my knee against the table surface as I jerked up. Muttering a curse under my breath, I turned to the interloper, surprise setting in as I saw who it was.
The golden haired god stood a little ways behind my seat, looking magnificently misplaced in this library.
"Thor," I said blankly.
I hadn't seen him the entire week. In fact none of the Asgardian warriors wanted to see me after the disastrous fight in the mead hall. Not even Thor, who'd seemed alright with how I fought, had come to visit.
It really was just as well, since I didn't want to see anyone either. But still, why was he here now?
A wide grin spread across Thor's face as I said his name, as if I'd given him the greatest greeting in the world. "Peter Parker."
"Hi." I waved. "So uh, do you need help or something?"
The god scratched his cheek, and boy did that gesture look weird. It'd be like walking in on Santa Claus at the urinals.
"I came to look for my brother," Thor confessed. "But it appears that he is not here either."
"Your brother?" Man, the last person I wanted to think about right now was Thor's brother. His words still resounded in my head. What do you use them for? "Loki? Is he missing?"
"Of a sort." Thor shrugged. "I had not seen him for the past week. He does this often, but it is about time to go find him. I had been certain he would be here, since it is one of his favourite spots to go to when he sulks."
"Ah," I nodded in reply, having got my answer. And then I blinked as I realized what exactly that answer had been. "Wait… sulks?"
Thor grinned suddenly, "Yes, Loki is very sensitive, though I ask you not to tell him I said as such. But I wonder what it is that has set him off this time."
"Oh." I sank in my seat. "Oh, I see." I sighed. "I think I may know what it is then. Was it after that day in the mead hall?"
Thor thought for a moment before finally nodding. And then his eyes widened, "You are saying it has something to do with you?"
"Well I guess," I shrugged. "We talked a little afterwards. He… gave me some things to think about."
And what I said must have affected him too, going by what Thor was saying. Heh, that was unbelievable.
"That is why you have not been in your rooms! I had wondered where you had gone."
"Oh…" I was surprised, but pleasantly so. So it wasn't that Thor had been avoiding me, it was that he couldn't find me. Because I'd been at the library all the time. Duh! I felt like an idiot.
Thor placed his hand on my shoulder, giving said appendage a hard squeeze. "What is it that ails you, Peter Parker? I should like to see your marvels again. And a week is long enough to dwell."
"It's um, it's nothing really," I mumbled, still chagrined about misinterpreting Thor's character so badly. My gut churned. And then, before I could change my mind, I added, "Your brother said some things to me that—I'm just questioning myself now and—I don't know."
I didn't mean to ramble, but that seemed to be the thing with me. I flushed, ducking my head. I hadn't wanted to leave Thor with nothing, because he'd been trying with me. But I didn't mean to give him that either.
Thor's tone was surprisingly sheepish as he replied. "Aye, Brother oft says the words that nobody wishes to hear, but are fair and true nonetheless."
I looked up in surprise. Thor had a grin on his face, but nothing indicated that he might be joking. I let out a breath, clenching and unclenching the fists at my knee.
"I have—I have strength beyond regular mortals," I confessed. Thor nodded in reply. I hadn't exactly been concealing them during my fight with Fandral. "I used to use that strength to help people—or so I thought. But something happened, and four people are now dead where they shouldn't have died. And it's all my fault."
The grin had slid from Thor's face. "Peter…"
"It turns out," I said through clenched teeth, my knuckles turning white from the grip I had on my knees, "that I wasn't helping at all. I was probably even making things worse. So I stopped."
"And yet it sounds as if you feel guilt over this decision." Thor intoned curiously.
I let out a shuddering breath. "It's just—it's just that these abilities are amazing. They really could help the world."
My eyes widened at my own admission. I hadn't meant to say that. Heck, I didn't even mean to think that. But it was true. The words were pounding in my head. My powers could really help people; they should be used to help people. Wasn't that why I became Spiderman in the first place?
I quickly shook my head.
"It's not like I asked for them," I mumbled, even though it was sounding more and more like I was trying to convince myself. "I didn't—I didn't go looking for power. I just got it. I don't have an obligation to—"
"Nobody," Thor interrupted, his voice serious, "asks for power like this. Neither did I ask for the position my birth has given me, yet that does not mean I can run away from it. And you, Peter Parker, will you run?"
I squeezed my eyes shut. My voice came out almost desperate, "I'm not running! I want to help—I do! But I'm no good at it. It's better to not use your power responsibly than to use it irresponsibly isn't it? And I'm helping people out this way too. And I can help them using my other talents like the chemistry I showed you. I can use other types of power, not just this one!"
The words that were tumbling from my lips were not untrue, yet somehow they all tasted like lies.
It was just then that I felt a warm weight on my shoulder, and when I opened my eyes, I saw Thor staring at me gently.
"Oh Peter," he said, his voice a soft rumble. "That is of course fine if you wish to help your citizens another way. Yet is that what you want? I, for one, think that a person like you would use your power very responsibly. Any power. I do not know what has occurred in your past, but I think you have learned from it, and so long as you do so, not even a god would pass judgement. And I say this as the future king of Asgard."
I felt my throat close. My eyes felt suspiciously wet.
Thor looked at me kindly, before he stood up again and made clear his intentions to leave. "I will leave you to think upon this, Peter Parker. When you think you know what it is that you desire, I will endeavour to help you in all ways. A friend of Thor is a friend who will have everything."
And then, he was gone, leaving me with an unbelievable offer and unconditional kindness.
When I buried my face in my arms on the table and began making suspicious hiccupy noises, it wasn't because I had started crying. Nope, not at all.
The next few days were spent a lot less mopely. Mopey-lee? Was that a word? I didn't think so, but I believed it should be. If tyrotoxism was a thing, the adverb form of mopey should definitely be a thing.
In all truth, what Thor said sounded a lot like what Gwen said. But Gwen was my girlfriend and was expected to say that kind of stuff, even if she were smarter than me and more knowledgeable about these things.
But Thor. Thor was a future king. More than that, he was someone unaffiliated with me. And he had said it was alright to do what I wanted with my power.
I still—I still didn't know what I wanted to do with my power exactly, but I'd been assured that anything I chose would be fine. Would be right.
Not to be cliché, but it felt as if some great burden had been lifted from my shoulders.
So I actually took some time to think critically about what's been said about me, rather than just get depressed over it.
And I realized that I needed to speak with Loki. He was… really, really perceptive, and he had a unique position of knowing what I was but not caring about me specifically. Objectively, he could offer the most helpful insights.
Key word being, of course, could. I didn't know if actually speaking with Loki was a good idea or not. I mean the guy pretty obviously disliked me, even though I'd pointed out it was likely because he disliked himself. Actually, me pointing that out probably didn't win me any favours.
And then that reminded me that I needed to apologize to him.
He did, in all honesty, kind of deserve it. But Uncle Ben was hitting me in the back of my head saying that apologizing was the right thing to do. It didn't matter that Loki had provoked me. I shouldn't have said the things that I did to him. Besides, at least Loki did get me to see some perspective with his truthful if hurtful statements. Conversely, my words were also quite truthful.
But yeah, maybe not the best thing to point out hidden psychological issues whist not in a therapy session.
I hadn't thought Loki would be bothered. Heck, I didn't even think about him much—a fact which I do now feel guilty for—because I'd been too wrapped up with thoughts about myself. That's the Age of Privilege for you.
But Thor had come and smashed the idea of Loki being fine to pieces. And part of me did feel bad about that.
Also, Thor was a good person. A great person. He reminded me a lot of Tony, as odd as that comparison was. There was just something so much more about them.
Heh, did I just compare Tony to a god? I had to make sure I never told him that, otherwise he'd literally build a gold statue of himself in my workspace. He could be beyond embarrassing sometimes.
But anyhow, Thor was a good person. He obviously cared about Loki if his search was any indication, and I couldn't miss the fondness in his voice when he spoke of his brother. And I wanted to set this right for him too.
So it was a combination of those factors that found me outside Loki's door a couple days after Thor's visit to me in the library.
I knocked. Nobody answered.
I pushed open the door.
Heat fanned out in a startling wave, and I almost choked in it. As it was, I still had to take a deep breath to accustom my lungs.
The room was devoid of people, but it was far from empty. It was reminiscent of my given room, except much bigger and filled with a lot more personal things. Bookshelves lined the walls. Little toys of fascinating design were interspersed along said shelves. There were also about three tables, spotted around the room with messy surfaces of papers and tools. A large four poster bed was in the center, canvas pulled open to reveal no one inside.
I thought this was the point where Thor would have decided that Loki was not there at the moment, and went to search elsewhere.
I stepped in.
The door swung shut behind me.
"It's uh, it's just me," I said. "So you can drop your illusion now."
There was no response.
I shifted from foot to foot, a sliver of uncertainty threading through my mind. Perhaps I was wrong or had actually had the bad luck to come at a time when nobody actually was in. I coughed, moving to turn around and get the heck out of there, so that I could forget about my embarrassing mistake.
And it was just then that the air in front of the bed shimmered, and the veil split to reveal Loki, Trickster of Asgard.
Beside his head was a swirling portal of some sort, which looked like it was taken straight out of some mmorpg game. Sun baked earth and small eruptions of volcanic fire revealed through the floating mirror. I realized that it was where the heat was coming from.
"What is that?" I blurted out before I could help myself.
A look of annoyance crossed Loki's face. He turned towards the window.
"This," he said disdainfully, "is a gateway to Muspelheim." His eyes flickered towards me then, a sick sort of triumph in them. "I have identified that this is the place where your companion has chosen to hide. I will retrieve him and you will have no further reason to stay in Asgard."
He raised a hand then, touching lightly upon the displayed image. His form shimmered in beat with the churning portal.
"What?" My mind blanked. Companion? But that could only mean—
And then there was no time to think as Loki's form staccatoed, like a bad radio signal. Somehow I knew that he was going to disappear in a moment, along with what might be my last chance.
I lunged forward, fear lending me extra speed as I bound my arms around Loki's waist. I felt the other male tense in surprise, but that sensation was quickly overshadowed. Something tugged at my bones, as if it wanted to pull me apart, and darkness pushed at me as if it wanted to seep into the spaces created. I bit back a cry.
And then we were tumbling on the sun baked earth. The strange tearing feeling receded as if it'd never been. Loki and I were rolled a good five times, kicking up a storm of dust. When our momentum finally ceased, Loki pushed me away with a snarl. There was such a look of anger on his face that momentarily, I became afraid.
"The only, only reason I am not squeezing the life out of your pathetic little neck," Loki was saying as rose slowly to his feet. He was shaking with rage. "Is because you are a guest of Odin of Asgard. And still that is doing little to hold me back."
I was still busy coughing from the dust and the smothering heat of wherever this place was.
I drew in a breath. I'd never taken to threats well. "You sure it's not, oh I dunno, fear that you wouldn't succeed, holding you back? 'Cause let me tell you something. We're not on Asgard anymore."
Loki's eyes darkened to bottomless pools of mossy swampland. His hand flexed at his side. His next words were practically spat, "You are tempting me, mortal."
I took another breath. Groaning, I pushed myself to my hands and knees. I had to remind myself that no matter how Loki was acting, he wasn't the enemy. In fact he was the brother of someone I really liked. And I'd initially come here to apologize or something, right?
"Look, I just came to talk." I said. "To your room I mean. Not er—here. Though when you started shimmering I did realize that you were coming here, so I guess I came here to talk to you too."
Loki's eyes were utterly flat. I laughed nervously. Tough crowd, eh?
"But what you were talking about with 'my companion' concerns me too," I continued seriously. "I want to—no, I need to help."
Finally the look of impassive fury on Loki's face slackened. Incredulity took its place.
"You need to—" Loki snorted. "The only way you can 'help', mortal, is to stay out of the way."
Now it was my turn to feel a prickle of anger. "This concerns me."
"Concern you it may, but you hardly matter now, do you?" Loki taunted. "What is concerning about you and your companion at all, is how it may affect Asgard."
Yeah, I got that. Gods, I got that. I wasn't as strong as the Aesir, even with the spider bite thing. If Fandral had been fighting me seriously, I'd have been dead within the first three minutes. If I were an Asgardian, I wouldn't put me on the front lines to defend the realm. Still— "I can't just sit around and do nothing. Even if Asgard doesn't need me, I need myself to do something."
"Is that not arrogance speaking?" Loki sneered.
I tensed. I had no idea what it was about the other that could make anything I said sound nasty. It actually made me uncertain for a moment, before I realized something.
"You really should stop using arguments that can be applied against you too," I said slowly. "Or am I wrong in thinking that your father wouldn't have sent one of his sons to find someone dangerous by himself?"
Now it was Loki's turn to stiffen.
We stood there for a moment, simply glaring at each other.
And then he whirled on his heel and began walking away.
"Very well." The green clad god's voice was low and sibilant, yet it still managed to carry. "There is no point arguing this matter as we are both here. Try not to get left behind. I will not be held responsible, a guest of my father or not, if you can't keep up."
I was surprised, and more than a little annoyed at how he chose his words, but I was also quick to jog after him.
"So what, there's no backdoor?" I asked. I had thought for sure that Loki would try to convince (or more likely, force) me onto the first shuttlebus back to Asgard magic style. The only reason I could think of for his easy agreement was that there was none.
It was hard to think of Loki has not having one though. I mean, it was something I would do, but Loki had seemed the type to meticulously plan this kind of stuff.
"There was," Loki replied bitingly. "Until someone drained my magic by forcing two through a portal that was only meant to transport one. So we are stuck here until my power replenishes."
"Oh," I said blankly.
A/n: So I watched TASM 2 during opening weekend…. I thought it would motivate me. It drained me emotionally. I'm still not over it. I have no idea how I got this chapter out. Go watch TASM 2.
On Loki: For all you Loki fans who might be raging because he seems out of character. I apologize. Why? Because, I feel, he is only that way with the Asgardians. He was short and angry with Natasha and Tony too, so I'm drawing from that for how he'd treat Peter. As for his actions this chapter, virtual lemon drops to anyone who can guess his reasoning before the next chapter.