Battered, bruised, and alone.
That was what Loki felt as his brother marched him down the still-destroyed Bifrost Bridge and into the palace of Asgard. This was a place he once called home, but now Loki didn't feel he belonged.
He didn't belong anywhere.
The people who he considered family had only kept him to suit their own purposes, and they certainly didn't give a damn about him. They had lied to him, refused to give the approval he sorely craved, and now, they were to sentence him for a crime he had committed just to prove himself worthy of the name "Odinson."
"Loki," Frigga said, rushing to him from the All-Father's side. "It is so good to see you home."
Loki would have replied that he had no home, and that this was just another golden prison. But the mask prevented him from speaking, and so he merely stared at her.
"Loki has committed a great crime, Frigga," Odin announced ominously from the front of the hall. "I do not think he deserves your pity."
Loki's eyes narrowed. He had done everything just to gain the All-Father's approval, but Odin seemed determined to see the wrongs in all that he did. How Loki wished he could scream his hate and anger at them all, but all he could do was stand there, watching them through the slits of his eyes.
"He is your son, Odin," Frigga insisted, but Odin ignored her. It was his wish, Odin said, that Loki's lips be sewn shut for eternity, and that he be banished from Asgard.
Thor, who had not been expecting this, tried to intervene on his behalf.
"Hey!" Odin said, pointing a warning finger at his firstborn.
Thor fell silent, but a small tic appeared on his chin; he certainly looked ready to argue.
"It is my wish that you be sent to Midgard, stripped of your godly powers, and be cast among the people whom you so cruelly treated," Odin finished. Loki felt the mask fall from his face, but learned that he could not move his mouth.
"No!" Frigga tried to run to Loki, but Odin held her back. With a wave of his hand, Odin summoned the portal to Midgard.
Loki glared at the All-Father, silently vowing that he would make them all pay for this.
"Father, please!" Thor said, but Odin waved his hand again and Loki's Asgardian armor fell from his body, only to be replaced by Midgardian clothing.
Loki felt himself being pushed into the portal and heard the wind in his ears. Seconds later he felt his body collide against something soft, and then heard a scream.
Jamie Stark wasn't special.
She certainly didn't possess any special powers like her brother's colleagues, although she wished she did. Although she was part of SHIELD, she never felt that she truly belonged. The only things that set her apart from the rest of society were the "Stark" name, which had become synonymous with the technological company her father had established, and her brains, which she used to help her brother run the company.
Nothing exciting happened in her life, except for the time when a god fell on her as she made her way back to the country house she was staying in and changed her entire life. One moment she was wondering if her brother would remember that today was her birthday - he was such a spaz sometimes - and the next moment she felt as if her back was broken.
The man had fallen on top of her so suddenly that she was stunned for a few minutes, only aware of the jolts of pain that ran up and down her body.
"Oh bloody hell," Jamie exclaimed, wincing as she felt the person roll off of her. She stretched, testing to see if her back was broken. Satisfied that it wasn't, she rolled to the side and saw a tall, pale, rather thin man looking down at her. "Where the hell did you come from?"
He merely looked up at the sky and then back down at her, followed by a series of furious gestures.
Jamie winced as she stood up, pushing away her brownish blonde hair away from her face. "Listen, if my brother put you up to this, tell him that it's not funny dropping random people on me, okay?"
The man only looked at her, his eyes narrowed.
It was only then when she realized that the man was mute. She slapped a hand to her forehead. "Oh wow. Oh my god, I am so sorry. I didn't think you couldn't talk!"
The man just rolled his eyes.
"Okay, uh, how do I do this..." Jamie was used to seeing full grown men turn into raging beasts or shoot laser beams from their eyes, but she wasn't used to dealing with a mute. "Come inside the house. I'll make you a cup of coffee and then call...someone."
Call my brother, more like, Jamie thought, as she held the man's hand and pulled him inside the house. She sorely hoped he wasn't an axe-wielding murderer, but considering the fact that he did not have any weapons concealed (his clothes were a bit tight and they stuck to his frame like peanut butter on toast), Jamie wasn't too worried. Of course, Jarvis's "wife", Jade, was heading the security system in the house, so she felt safe.
The man went willingly with her, but she noticed that he seemed to be memorizing the details of the house.
"Jade, call my brother," Jamie said as the two of them entered the kitchen. The sound of a telephone dialing was heard, and soon Tony's voice came over the speakers.
"Jamie? Everything okay?"
"Yeah, it's just...someone fell on me."
Tony snorted. "Come on kiddo, if you're going to lie about going over your credit limit, at least make it believable."
"I did not go over my credit limit!" Jamie hissed. "I swear, I was walking in the backyard and this guy just fell on me. I think he might have jumped off a plane or something."
"So why are you calling me?"
"Because I like talking to you," Jamie replied sarcastically. "Tony, just send someone! You know I don't like the police here. They're all suckups."
Tony sighed loudly. Jamie could hear Clint Barton talking in the background, and knew that her brother was probably in the SHIELD headquarters. She held her breath, waiting.
"Fine, fine, I'll send someone," Tony finally relented. "But make sure he isn't some homeless axe-wielding psycopath, okay?"
"He doesn't look it," Jamie admitted. "Okay, thanks Tony."
Tony terminated the call, and Jamie poured some coffee in a mug. "I only have black coffee," she said, sliding the mug over the marble countertop to the man. "If you prefer something else, I can-"
The man shook his head and took the mug, sipping the coffee. He seemed to like it, because he nodded his head and took another sip. Jamie then went over to the cupboard and tore open a pack of breadsticks, which she placed on a small platter.
"So, uh, what's your...right, you can't talk." Jamie sighed. How was she supposed to know who he was? Jamie pulled open a kitchen drawer and took out a pad and pencil. "Just write your answers here, okay? I don't know sign language, unfortunately."
The man took the pad and pencil and looked at her expectantly.
"What's your name?"
The man scribbled something on the pad: Tom, 31.
"Tom. Huh. I bet you have a brother named Jerry," Jamie said, in an attempt to sound humorous. Tom didn't seem to get her little joke, for he just looked at her like she was a mildly amusing television commercial. "Okay, so I'm Jamie, and I'm 26. But then you probably heard my brother say my name."
Tom nodded and finished his coffee. Jamie snagged a bread stick and bit into it, chewing it thoughtfully.
"So where did you come from?" Jamie finally asked after a pause.
I was a rejected human cannonball.
Jamie studied him for a moment before laughing. "Yeah, I guess that's the most plausible explanation. I mean if you fell from an airplane and fell on me, I wouldn't be alive, would I?"
Tom tilted his head noncommittally. For a moment the two of them just looked at each other before the phone rang. As always, the call was redirected to Jade's system, so Jamie needn't have run to the telephone in the hallway. "Hello?"
"Jamie, it's Pepper." Pepper Potts was her brother's assistant and girlfriend, and Jamie worked with her a lot. Pepper was probably the only person – aside from her brother – who she was really close to. The other "Avengers" (Jamie shook her head at the name) really intimidated her.
"Oh hey Peps," Jamie greeted, smiling even though the pretty blonde couldn't see her. "What's up?"
"We need that report on the wormhole in New Mexico," Pepper replied. "Jane thinks she's about to recreate a new portal."
"Is it about her seeing that god boyfriend of hers?" Jamie padded over to the living room, which was opposite the kitchen. She found the sheaf of papers she was looking for and headed back to the kitchen.
"Yep, that's it," Pepper confirmed. Jamie tapped the counter and it lifted, revealing a computer console complete with a scanner and printer. As she waited for the computer to boot up, she took another bread stick and refilled Tom's mug with coffee.
"Yeah, I heard he has a brother though," Jamie gossiped, clicking the document file and sending it to Pepper. "I mean yeah, he tried to take over the world, but doesn't my brother do that every day? I seriously think that guy...what was his name?"
"I seriously think that Loki just needs a hug. His actions are clear examples of basic psychology, Peps. But does my brother listen? Noooo. He puts on that suit and wham! Gets into a fight with a Norse god who, by the way, is just living up to his name," Jamie retorted. "Loki's the God of Mischief, I don't think he's the fluffy bunny type."
Since her back was to "Tom", she failed to see the expression on his face.
Dare I think that this mortal understands me? Loki thought, but quickly averted his gaze as Jamie turned towards him again.
"At least Tony doesn't bring a load of Chitauri to Earth everyday," Pepper argued. "Okay, got it. Thanks Jamie!"
"You're welcome." This time it was Jamie who ended the call. She switched the computer off and tapped the counter again, which reverted back to its flat, marble appearance. "Sorry. I thought I was on holiday, but it seems I was wrong."
Tom nodded. It's okay.
"I guess we'll just have to wait for my brother's assistant to arrive," Jamie said, sitting back on the stool and facing Tom.
But when Tony Stark's men arrived at the country house, there was nothing left but smoking ruins.