Title: A Patchwork of Flesh and Bile
Fandom: Thor/The Avengers Movies
Prompt: "286. Demon Tongue." with Loki or Thor from 500 prompts for hearts_blood.
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I gaining any money for this work. I'm just trying to enjoy myself.
Summary: Loki is brought to Odin after the attack on New York, but the Asguardians are not prepared for what he decides to do; tell the truth. Well, Loki's truth at any rate.
A Patchwork of Flesh and Bile
Loki knew he was in trouble, had known since Thor had turned up on Midguard. If he failed, Thor was going to take him back to Asguard, to Odin and all the court would get to enjoy the show.
It was not always fun to be right.
Loki had to admit he should have seen the muzzle coming, but it still hurt. He wasn't even sure why they were so afraid of his tongue, he had barely used it. Between his magic and their simplicity it had been easy to manipulate them. Thor had probably warned them of his ability to talk his way out of any situation. Not so dense his brother, not anymore.
Thor would not look at him as they walked toward the throne room. Loki knew he would get nowhere with Thor, and he had been preparing for this moment before Odin for a while, so he did not bother to worry, preferring to recite a Midguardian song he had heard during his attack and could not dislodge. It relaxed him as they walked up to the golden and bronze door, which swung open for them and a sucking hush seemed to pull on them, dragging them inside. Thor squeeze Loki's elbow, as if afraid he would bolt and needed to be dragged. Loki had no intention of showing fear. He would not miss this for the nine realms.
As he had expected the throne room was full of familiar faces. People who had hissed behind his back, people he had offended. Near the front stood Hogun, Fandral, Volstagg and Sif. The look on Sif's face could have curdled milk. Heimdall was also present, probably as a witness to Loki's crimes, and behind him…
Loki's chest tightened in a mixture of joy and horror. Princess Sigyn was standing behind Heimdall, a dazed expression on her face as she stared at him. For a second Loki wanted to run to her, put his arms around her and kiss her until she smiled at him, forgave him. Then he would have begged her to marry him, giving her the public acknowledgment she had quietly craved. They had married years ago on Earth, but that had been a private moment between them, not for anyone else.
He did not want Sigyn there, but should have been expecting her to be there. Sigyn's loyalty was one of the reasons he loved her, but he did not want her to see him at this moment in his life. He tore his gaze off her and looked at Frigga. She had never looked more like a queen than at that moment, regal and tall. He could barely connect this woman with the name of 'mother'.
Finally there was Odin. All-Father, King, Warrior… Kidnapper? Saviour? Loki had no idea any more. He seemed weary, and Loki wondered if he had done that. Had his 'death' done that? Or was it the shame of his actions?
"Thor…" Odin's voice was still strong, filling the hall. "It gladdens me to see you return safe."
"I greet thee Father." said Thor, "I bring with me the Tesseract, so that we may keep it safe."
"We shall guard it until the end of time." said Odin, and the Tesseract was taken away. Loki watched it go with a sense of relief. "And now, to a matter more grievous and closer to the heart of Asguard."
His one eye shifted to Loki, who kept his expression calm, even though he wanted to wrench the muzzle off, spit out the blood coating his tongue and shred this charade of civility. They all knew how this would end. It was how things were done.
"Loki Odinson, you have committed terrible crimes, in Asguard, Midguard and Jötunheim. You have caused death, destruction and have twice made war on innocent worlds. You committed treason, attempted genocide, fratricide and have caused much suffering. Your guilt is unquestionable, yet I shall grant you speech, that you may voice remorse if it beat in your breast, and give answers to the question of why." Odin waved his hand and the muzzle dropped from Loki's mouth. He bent forward as he gasped and spat blood on the floor, trying to dislodge the metallic taste from his tongue. Finally he straightened up, regarding Odin with keen eyes. His hands were trembling slightly against his thighs, with anticipation and glee. This was it.
"You are most kind Odin, to give the puppet his voice back."
He knew everyone was watching him scornfully, except for Thor, Sigyn, Frigga and Odin. Everyone else was here for a show and, oh, Loki would give them one.
"You ask for whys, and I shall give them freely for all the good it will do." His voice was a little ragged, but that was fine.
"I will deny none of my crimes, after all, if there were no witnesses present at them, then at the very least Heimdall can confirm all." He glanced at the dark-skinned Vanir, who nodded. "But allow me to exposit on my reasoning, so I can show my true monstrosity to you, and make the determining of my punishment that much easier."
"Get on with it then." muttered Sif. Loki ignored her.
"Firstly, I aided three Jötun in entering Asguard, in reaching the vaults and laying hand upon the Casket of Ancient Winters. In doing so, two guards were killed, and Thor's coronation was disrupted and cancelled. Well… yes, the death of the guards was appalling, but I know it was so much worse that poor Thor did not get to be king. And he dealt it so well, upturning the feast and deciding to break all the rules of Odin to ease his temper, to go to a forbidden land and confront it's king, demanding answers in the manner surely befitting a king, who knows he can have whatever he wants and if denied it, or worse, called the most disgusting insult of 'little princess', is free to murder hundreds of people to make himself feel better. After all, they are only frost giants."
Loki had to tell himself to rein it in. He did not need to add dramatic flair to his words. He pushed his shoulders back, ignoring his exhausted body's protests.
"I admit it was pure jealousy that made me do it. After all, with those wonderful qualities, Thor would have been a great king. I never feared Odin allowed favouritism to blind him, he is All-Father, he could not such a thing."
Dark ripples moved through the room, but Thor had the decency to look embarrassed. Loki spread his hands in their chains. "I admit my hand in Thor's banishment. I did not want Thor to have the glory of killing so many Jötun, so I told a guard to warn Odin. I am so sorry that his time on Midguard was such a waste, and to no one's benefit, but at least he made some new friends. He has so few in this hall and I have so many."
He did not mean to giggle, but it slipped out anyway.
"So what next? Oh yes! My refusal to revoke Odin's last command as my first, and at the pleading of his friends to bring Thor back. A true king would have wielded his power to the whims of blind loyalty, as honour-loving Asguard deems fit, and never to logic, which would make a king weak."
He paused to consider, then shrugged, "I really have no excuse for that failing, for surely I did so out of mere jealousy and resentment, and not because Thor blustering around and yelling war cries would have been the slightest bit problematic while dealing with the enraged Jötun. I did it to be cruel, and not to save lives."
"You told Thor Odin was dead!" snapped Fandral, "You unleashed the Destroyer on helpless people and tried to destroy Jötunheim. Are you going to twist words to prove you meant for the best there too?"
"Haven't you been listening? I am telling you why I did what I did!" said Loki impatiently. "I am telling the truth for the first time in your memories, so do me the kindness of listening. It's so unlikely to happen again."
Any murmuring faded away. These people were not stupid, but no one could out talk Loki, especially in front of Odin. Loki sighed, dropping his hands and looked up.
"I admit I lied to Thor, I tried to kill him, out of hatred, or madness, or maybe despair. I never wanted the throne… but I did not think he deserved it. Clearly I am, as usual, wrong, for nothing I did made him more worthy… did it?"
He looked at Thor questioningly, but received no answers, only a frown that was tinged with shame. He sighed, pushing his hair back, ignoring the clinking of his chains. "In any case. I killed Laufey, my reasoning being that killing him would weaken Jötunheim's resolve, by luring him into a trap. I never intended for him to harm Odin or anyone else, my plan being that I let them walk straight inside without a fight, and take advantage of his arrogance. I succeeded, but I suppose it was, as usual, the cowardly way to do things, although it seemed sensible at the time. I tried to destroy Jötunheim and came closer than Thor ever could. Perhaps if I had been more like him, I could have stopped, or redeemed myself… perhaps if I had been more like Thor I would not be here. But, as is often whispered in these halls, has always been whispered since I was a boy, I am not. I am not golden, strong, mighty and beloved. I am shadows, words, cunning and worthless. All of Asguard agrees and who can fight such assertions? I had thought to be of use, to use the womanish talents I had to help, but clearly it is better to die a glorious death, than to live another day for the weakling love of life."
Loki was rambling now, he had faded off the point and made an effort to return. It took him a moment longer than he liked, his mind buzzing with exhaustion. He did not look at anyone, biting at his lip briefly to remember what he was doing.
"I attacked Midguad, sought to rule them with an army of Chitauri. I have no excuses, there are no apologies. There only exists the fact. I imagined that I could tame them, make them cease in their wars, their murdering, their cruelty. And I did it for selfish reasons. I wanted to prove I could be a good king, that I was just as good as Odin or Thor! What do either of them know of Midguard? Do they know the story of Peter Rabbit? Of the Crusades? Of the games that children play? Do you know what a Lindy Hop or a Jitterbug is?"
Thor frowned faintly, and Loki could feel Sigyn's smile trying to form on her lips, but he would not look at her. He lifted his head to Odin instead, and smiled helplessly.
"So there it is. I am a monster, like everyone always feared. I am without love, or compassion, or even a sense of right and wrong. It cannot be a failing in my upbringing, for it was just and right that my magic was feared and derided, since it was womanish, and there is no greater failure than not being male, and for being dangerous even when I used to fill a room with lights in the shape of butterflies when Thor or I had nightmares. People were right to keep me at a distance from their hearts… I had none to share. So it must be something in the body, something in me that made me so terrible."
A shaky breath filled his lungs, and he drew himself up, raising his voice in a jovial manner.
"But now! Now at last you can put an end to it. You can punish me as you can see fit. But, if you would permit me, I would make a few suggestions of punishments that you ought not to bother with, since they were already done and clearly had no effect." Loki spread his hands again, holding up the chain, "I'm afraid in order to show you, I would need these manacles removed, they prevent me from removing the illusions I placed upon myself –unless you would remove it for me."
Odin was full of wary suspicion, his all seeing eye looking into Loki. Then he nodded,
"I shall do both. My magic will suppress yours, should you feel the urge to flee, but I will remove the chains and the illusion."
Loki realised that, against his own will, Odin was as curious as the people around him. They wanted to know where he thought he was going with this. With a wave of a hand, the manacles fell away while Loki hissed as the illusion was unwrapped from his skin. Frigga's hand jumped to her mouth and Thor, whose arms had been crossed over his chest, let them fall limply in horror. The people around them gasped and whispered, as Loki grinned, which probably made the whole effect worse.
"I know most here would like to see the Liesmith silenced, but sewing the lips together doesn't last. One good scream…" He ran a blackened fingertip along the scarred skin under his bottom lip, the jagged lines running from just above his chin to just under his nose. "And the embroidery is for naught. Doesn't matter how strong the thread is, skin is skin and it is easily ripped."
Volstagg brought his fist to his lips, pale under his beard.
"Ripping the tongue out works better," Loki continued, "But it grows back. Must be another failing of my blood. Really that muzzle of yours is the most effective." He brushed his thumb over the indent on his cheek left from the muzzle, then began to unbuckle his armour, lifting his gaze back to the All-Father.
"Odin, do you know the story of Prometheus?"
Odin did not answer. He, like the rest, was watching Loki with a horrified fascination as the armour clanged to the ground. And then he unbuttoned his robe slowly, peeling it off his shoulders as he spoke,
"It's a wonderful story, about a Titan who steals fire and gives it to Humans. The king of the gods is outraged and to punish Prometheus, he has him chained to a rock and he must suffer a bird pecking out his liver every day."
The robe dropped to the floor and one woman let out a muffled shriek as his bare chest became visible to the audience. Frigga swayed on her seat and Thor paled to grey. Loki spread his arms to give a better view,
"It would seem a fitting punishment, but I'm afraid my kind allies removed my liver for a while… and I'm not sure what they did with it." Loki found himself giggling again, "They must have put it back, because surely that would kill me. But I do not know where they put it inside me. I don't think they knew much about anatomy… and the trouble was when they were putting everything back, if I didn't remember the organ, they did not put it back. It's fortunate that I was a good student."
He brushed his thumb over the scarred and twisted flesh of his stomach and chest, idly wondering where Odin's mark would be made. There really wasn't much room for anything else.
He walked in a circle on the spot, exposing his back and Frigga let out a sob.
"Breaking the vertebrae doesn't work very well, nor twisting the spine. It just means you'll have to drag me wherever you want me because walking becomes impossible. I believe flogging is customary on Asguard… but surely the satisfaction of that is to make new scars, not to reopen scars already there. Burning is another, but I'm not-"
"ENOUGH!" bellowed Thor, making Loki jump and look at him in surprise. "No more Loki! Do you think we cannot see the scars on your body?"
Loki blinked and tilted his head, "I know you can see them. My words are to guide Odin into making a correct decision."
"You're just trying to hurt us! And you've succeeded." Thor was quivering with disgust and horror, "How can you speak of such acts in front of our mother?"
"Because you only see what is in front of you and I will show you what you have missed!" Loki snarled, "Because no matter what I do, speak truth or lie you will never believe a word I say. So instead I must bear all, be humiliated and shown as the twisted creature I am to all who have mocked and taunted me all my life, so you will understand that I can tell the truth and still you turn from it!"
He looked at Odin and strode forward, "How many times did I ask you if Thor was ready? How many times did I worry that he was too reckless and hot-headed for the throne and how many times did you ignore me?"
Odin stared at him impassively, just like he had when Loki had asked him about why he had taken him. But Loki was not the same as he had been then. He had been forced to change, to grow and relearn the universe. He was not a boy anymore.
"You were so desperate for him to be ready that you refused to listen to me, you did not care to hear me, just like the rest of this 'golden realm'. It never mattered if I spoke truth or lie because you only heard what you wanted from me and all of you wanted to hear a lie so you could justify your mockery beyond your pathetic self-conscious need to pretend you were better than me."
"We never acted to be better than you." Volstagg protested.
"'Know your place', 'Silvertongue turned to lead', 'Why not wear a dress to go with that spell?', 'I'll give you a real sword to hold instead of that little dagger',"
If it had been any other situation, it would have been hilarious to see their surprised expressions when Loki quoted words and used their own voices against them. How had they never noticed that he was good at mimicking others voices? It went hand in hand with his ability to lie.
"Why was my magic never accepted when Odin's was a thing of great wonder?" Loki demanded. "Because he backs it up with the ability to gut whomever he chooses? Because he is All-Father and I am the runt?"
He looked back at Odin, "I murdered Laufey for you! I thought to make myself more your son than ever before but you would not have it."
He laughed, brokenly, desperately. All his intentions had fled, whatever he had meant to happen no longer seemed reachable. He just wanted to scream, to finally show them what he really thought of them, because what else did he have left? No family, no home, no throne, nothing but himself and his twisted body.
As if remembering itself his body spasmed and he sank to his knee, groaning as his vertebrae ground against each other, twisting themselves further, and the socket of his shoulder seemed to squeeze itself. With a pop that echoed through the room, the ball joint slipped out. Loki sucked in a harsh breath of pain, reached up and with a grunt, pushed the socket back into place. He wanted to stand again, to remain defiant, but his body refused to move. Refixing his dislocated shoulder had drained his energy. Damn Thanos for placing this spell upon him, where his own body sought to torture him at infrequent intervals. He had hoped it would stay off until he was done with the court. He did not want them to see his own body rejecting him.
"Loki!" Thor called, stepping forward as Odin rose to his feet,
"I'm not a son!" Loki spat, trembling with rage and pain and exhaustion. "I'm not a prince, I'm not a king. I'm not a warrior, I'm not a hero. I'm not even a monster worth Thor's while killing. I am nothing of use to Asguard, and those without use are without purpose and consideration." He finally managed to lift his head, glaring at Odin hatefully. "I was a failed plan, a useless relic you kept locked away with the rest of them, without purpose, without use. Just meant to sit and wait for you to direct me. And I failed to do even that, didn't I? So really, what choice do you have All-Father? Too dangerous to keep, not worthy of anything but death. So come, lift your staff and take my life, before I recover enough to destroy this whole realm. Because if you do not, I surely will."
Odin stepped forward, his staff hitting the marble floor hard. He was pale under his eye patch, beard and hair.
"What have they done to you Loki?" he asked softly.
Loki burst out laughing, "Have you gone blind?" he demanded between chortles. "Can you not see what has been done? What else would you have me speak of?"
"I would know what became of the boy I raised."
"Dead." Loki spat, "He was weak. Begging for a father's love that would never come. The Chitauri put him right before they crucified him." He grinned, stretching his facial scars and held up his forearms, showing him the circular wounds that had never fully closed. "Chitauri and humans have more in common than they realise."
"Brother…" Thor said weakly, stepping closer, hesitating and then striding forward, dropping to his knees and grabbing Loki by the shoulders. "We must take you to the Healing Room."
"For what?" Loki asked, smiling at Thor's usual thick-headedness. For a moment it was very familiar and sweet, but he pushed Thor away. "If I am to die, what's the point of leaving a pretty corpse, since the penalty for traitors is death and desecration –usually in that order."
"You will not die."
Odin's voice cut across all other sounds in the hall. Loki looked up at him in shock. Odin's one eye was sharp, but there was a pain at the edges, as if he could barely stand to look at Loki.
"Wh-What?" Loki blinked up at him, baffled.
"You will not die Loki." said Odin again, softer this time. "You are still guilty of your crimes… but I must think on how best to punish you… in light of these new revelations."
"You think these scars change anything?" Loki demanded, "You're a sentimental fool and a coward! These scars don't change the number of lives I have taken. They do not change the army I led. They do nothing except turn your stomach, and for such a pathetic reason you will stay Asguardian justice?"
"You misunderstand Asguardian justice if you think I will not look at the reasoning behind actions as well as the actions themselves." said Odin, turning away. "Thor, take your brother to the Healing Room."
"Get off me!" Loki threw Thor off with the last bit of strength he had. "Do not ignore me now as you always have!" he bellowed at Odin, "Not now! Not after all of this. Face me and acknowledge what I have done and give me true dues for it!"
His voice echoed through the room and Odin paused, turning after a moment to look at him. Loki was still on his knees, hands resting on the stairs, trembling and glaring up at him. Odin sighed and for a brief moment looked so old,
"You did not have to go through all of this to have my attention Loki."
Loki's eyes bulged and he let out a strangled, wordless yell of protest to the sanctimonious lie. It caught in his throat and he coughed, throwing his head forward and spitting blood on the black marble. Thor's arms were around him again and he struggled furiously against him, demanding Odin come back and answer him now!
"That's enough Loki."
Loki snapped his head to the side as Frigga touched his cheek. She brushed her thumb over his brow and Loki felt the sleeping spell overpower his own magic, drained as it was.
"No!" he protested, half moaning the word, sagging and losing his balance. He felt Thor embrace him as he slipped away into deep sleep, brother behind him, mother in front.
Yes, now he was in trouble.
This one-shot… in the words of Dr. Banner is a 'bag of cats'. I have no idea what Loki wanted out of this show down, I could not get in his head, so I let him lead me along this… very odd path of crazy. And yeah, the Chitauri are pretty sick bastards (Or Thanos is since he was apparently pulling the strings), sorry Loki!
I think part of the problem is that I have no idea how I want Loki to be dealt with after the Avengers. I mean, he did awful things, but I still feel bad for him, but his crappy life doesn't make up for his crimes, and YET when I read fics about him being punished I am so on his side when he gets indignant about it I wanna punch Odin and Thor.
… I'm such a fangirl. *hangs head*