There was a gif on Tumblr that broke my heart. Then this happened. I don't even know. I'm hoping to do a Loki fic soon so this kinda helped me to build a character reference in my head. Just as a warning, this is really heavy going.
In the universe, there are many forms of pain. From the lowliest world to the highest planes of gods there is always suffering, among the few or the many, the rich or the poor, it didn't matter. It would always exist.
Loki knew this. Even as a sheltered Prince he could not be blind to the aching of Yggdrasil, it cried and whimpered through the fabric of reality and to a young boy sensitive to magic it would ring in his ears like a cacophony of unidentifiable voice, tormenting him in nightmares until he was scared to sleep. And upon waking he would once again be confronted with stories and legends of battles and valor, except how could there ever be any glory in war? All Loki had ever seen of a battlefield was blood and rage and good men abandoning all morals they had once held so dear.
As he grew, the young, tortured Prince found himself falling into his brother's shadow and all of a sudden the pain he still felt ringing through the universe seemed so much more familiar. In the darkest of nights a boiling hatred would swell within him, sometimes of Thor, sometimes of himself. Who was he to diminish his brother, when all he ever tried to do was look out for Loki? It confused him no end, how he could love someone so fiercely and yet still resent them for simply being.
By the time Loki came of age he still hadn't puzzled it out and he no longer cared to, considering himself done with his petty jealousy for his brother even while the hatred still coiled in his gut like a serpent waiting to spit venom. It had been clear for a long time that he could not truly fit in with Sif and the Warriors Three, their brawn against his brains lead to encounters that were just as likely to turn out violent as anything else but Thor was always there to defend his younger brother and calm him down when his emotions got the better of him. And every time he did Loki felt his hatred being chipped away, only to morph into a new loathing of himself for allowing himself to be so weak.
The day Odin declared Thor his successor, there was a moment when Loki truly didn't know what he felt. Then all of a sudden he was filled with an emotion it took him a very long time to recognise, unfamiliar as it was: Pride. He was proud of Thor. The hatred fell away a little further.
But despite that, Loki still couldn't rest the viper within him. He soothed himself by channeling his rage and disgust at those around him, including Thor's friends who would hate him regardless; it made little difference what he said. It helped for a while, until his brother called him out on it. They had raged at each other for hours, roaring like caged beasts until Loki's magic had ignited and a vase of Frigga's shattered into a rain of painted shards. Thor had taken one look at the destruction his brother had inadvertently wrought and sighed softly.
"Sometimes, I fear I do not know you at all brother," he murmured quietly and then left without another word. The dark haired Prince shut himself in his room for three days, trying to distract himself from the world with tomes of magic and history that had once been so captivating but it did little to sooth him. The nightmares he had suffered so commonly as a child returned full force and every time he closed his eyes the screams of a thousand lost souls tore at him, leaving him aching and hollow. This time there was no Thor to comfort him, to wake him when he tossed and turned or to hold him when tears leaked from tired eyes. He was alone. But then he wasn't. His serpent, his hatred grew again, pulsing and stretching until it filled him and he was almost overwhelmed with the force of it. Thor might claim to love him and yet when Loki needed him he was nowhere to be found.
The Prince knew that there was nothing he could do. He couldn't hope to beat Thor in a fight and if he tried his hand at politics he might be able to talk circles around his brother but in the end, the blonde was first in line to the throne and beyond that the people loved him. Loki was outranked. So he swallowed the loathing that tasted like bile and made his apologies to Thor, reclaiming his place at his brother's side even though it burned him to be there.
His attempts to ruin Thor's coronation had just been sheer petty revenge – he couldn't have known that it would blow up in his face like it did. When they found themselves in Jötunheimr, Loki had felt genuine fear for his brother for the first time since their argument and the emotion surprised him. It was the revelation that he still cared that had spurred him to try and defend Thor from Odin on their return to Asgard, not that it made much difference.
With his brother gone, the dark Prince was suddenly in the limelight and for the God of Lies there was nowhere worse to be. He might hate Thor's shadow but that was more to do with the one casting it, not the lack of attention. The light burned; it threw his faults into sharp relief for everyone to see and their judgmental gazes felt like shackles pinning him to a throne he had never desired. The first chance he got he slipped into the vaults, away from the prying eyes. Curiosity had always been in his nature, a need to understand how things worked and what their purpose was; in hindsight that same curiosity would always be his downfall. Without it he never would have challenged Odin about his heritage. Without it he would not have been forced onto a throne that suited him ill.
Despite his discomfort, the throne would serve his purposes. He needed to destroy Jötunheimr. How else could he prove himself while at the same time be rid of a race that would forever be a cruel reminder of his own heritage?
I am Loki Laufeyson. I am a Jötun. I am not of Asgard. I am the monster that parents tell their children about at night.
The words would bounce around in his head, louder than the voice of Yggdrasil all the time the Destroyer was on Midgard and he was thankful. To hear the cries of innocents mingle with his own silent keening of agony would destroy his frail shell and all that was left of Loki Odinson would crumble into the abyss of space, leaving behind a snake of foul hatred and greed that would never be sated.
When he asked Thor if his actions had been madness, it wasn't rhetorical. He didn't know any more. That was what scared him, more than the nightmares and the fear of abandonment: it was the thought that he had lost himself so deeply in his agony that everything of the young sorcerer who played pranks on unsuspecting court members was gone for good. And so he forces Thor to fight. Maybe he hopes that he'll win and the throne will be his. Maybe he hopes that he'll lose and he can be rid of this tormented existence.
When he lets go of the staff, the fear is gone.
If you have already lost everything you once treasured, why should a continuation of any further life matter? What good is a reality that offers nothing but pain? He falls and he sees the heartbreak in his brother's eyes, the cold understanding in Odin's face and it is that that will stick with him. In the darkest recesses of space he will picture Thor's naivety combined with Odin's aged temperament. He realises that gods should not live as long as they do; all that comes with time is an increased detachment from everything that makes life worth living.
The Chitauri saved him from the blackness he found himself in, gave him shelter when he had none and for all their supposed kindness, they demanded a price of him in the end. What choice had he but to give them what they wanted? A god he may be but he was alone and weak and against the might of the Mad Titan himself?
'You think you know pain?' Loki had never answered but he thought about it all the same. Pain was all he had ever known, be it his own or simply the cries of a universe that could not save itself. A Prince he was no longer, now all he had was vengeance.
He hadn't expected Thor to find him as quickly as he did. Worse than that, the pain he felt at seeing his 'brother' again had been far sharper and crueler than it had any right to be. He shouldn't care anymore. His caring would get him killed. But he felt it none the less and when he reached for the button to drop the cell from the helicarrier, there was a moment of hesitation where he looked at the blonde god and felt genuine guilt. The hatred in Thor's eyes had been a bitter pill to swallow and when he was gone Loki breathed a sigh of relief that he could no longer feel the burn of his brother's judgement.
'You lack conviction.' And yet, conviction was all he had ever needed and it still eluded him. Win or lose, it no longer mattered. If he won he could end the suffering of this planet and maybe the universe could be partly cured of the plague that killed it. If he lost he was dead. He wouldn't have to listen to the screams anymore.
The battle in New York was exactly what he had seen as a child: blood and rage. There was a small part of him that was sickened at his own actions for causing this but he rallied against it with the argument that it was a small price to pay for the ultimate peace that would reign when he was king. His convictions had been somewhat shaken when he was confronted by the Hulk and as the creature left him laying there, he felt something of his old self return to him.
He could feel the pain. The physical ache that such an encounter had caused and he was almost glad at the chance to feel something –anything – again. It had been so long. Then that insignificant mortal was saving the city, throwing away his own life without a second thought and Loki suddenly saw what he had been blind to since his first nightmare as a child. Behind the pain and the suffering, there was a glorious light that was the good in people. Be they gods or mortals, there is always the glow of pureness that Yggdrasil survived on and while his actions would have softened the screams, they would have snuffed out the light too and maybe that was too high a price.
The team corner him and he allows their shackles without a word, afraid that he would lose sight of that glow again. He didn't want to lose himself to the darkness, not again. The fear drenched him so much so that even without the restraints he would have made no move to run or defend himself.
It is the night before his return to Asgard that Thor comes to see Loki in his cell. For a long time he doesn't say a word, just looks at him and the once-Prince looks back in silence, his eyes opened for the first time since this agony began. And he sees everything he hadn't before; the light in Thor that shines brighter than anyone in all the nine realms and Loki feels himself shrink against the glare while at the same time reaching for the warmth.
The blonde god enters the cell and they sit side by side throughout the night just to live through that moment together.
When Loki reaches for the transporter, the fear is gone.
For the record, this is meant to become more and more disjointed as Loki submits to his insanity. Just saying.
I love Loki. There, I said it. And what kills me is that none of this is truly his fault and yet there is never going to be a happy ending for him because there is nothing that he wants more than his family back which is something he can't have. In my opinion at least.