Chapter One: No Common Thief

Odin couldn't see him. That was never a good sign. If Loki ever slipped from his sight it was to cause mischief. At least that had been the case before he had discovered his true parentage. Now however it signalled something far worse. He shuddered to think what his wayward son was doing. It wasn't worth raising the alarm. Loki was as good as gone. He only hoped that the guards had been left alive.

When he had found out that his son was still alive he had wept with joy, despite the price that Earth had paid. What cared he for a few thousand short lived creatures when it was his son that was paying the true price. Chained and bound Loki had returned to him, showing signs of torture the likes of which Odin had never seen. Shards of the tesseract spinning through his mind, filling him with rage and violence and a lust for vengeance that had the power to shake worlds mightier even than Asgard. He had paced in his cell like a rabid animal, speaking only to hurl vile and graphic threats.

He had thought that the treatment he had been given was working until now. The threats had become less heartfelt, turning into near formalities with neither the flourish or the fervour he had once put into them. "I'll tear your heart out and feed to you as your weeping wife watches," became "I'll snap your neck." Focussed rage became trembling, inept anger at something that couldn't be seen and that he wouldn't speak of. The pacing became worse the more his eyes cleared. He took to lashing out at the very walls of his cell.

What Odin had thought was the real breakthrough came the day they finally managed to destroy that cursed sceptre. He had heard Loki's shriek of agony from the other side of the palace. He had ran to his son's side only to find him on his knees gripping his bowed head. "What did you do?" he had gasped, blood running from his eyes, nose and mouth. Then a look of absolute horror took over his face. "What have I done?" he added in a small near whisper. He hadn't spoken for a month after that.

Perhaps he had gotten his hopes too high. Whatever Loki was doing now was surely nothing good.

The ground beneath him shook as he became aware of the armoury. A flash of fire, metal shards flying everywhere. Loki stepping over the wreckage of the Destroyer, an expression of calm consideration on his face for the first time since he had arrived home. He sneered at the tesseract as he passed it in favour of the Casket of Ancient Winters. He gave a slight smile, the sort he always thought secret, the sort he gave when he thought he had gotten away with something. Then he waved his hand over the weapon, disappearing it into whatever void he kept things in.

Loki's smile widened in a way that was not entirely pleasant and he gave his head a small shake before turning on his heel.

And in that one motion he was no longer in the armoury. He was stood right in front of Odin, hands clasped behind his back and head tilted a little to the right. "Hello father," he said, his voice measured and not without the smallest taint of malice.

"Loki," Odin replied, sadness weighing heavily in his chest. He couldn't do this. He couldn't fight his own son when there was only his own life at stake. He just couldn't. "Do you intend to try and kill me?" A short not quite laugh escaped him and he looked away for a mere moment.

"Hardly. I need the sceptre." Odin frowned. Surely he wasn't still after that abomination?

"It's been destroyed," he told the young man. Loki twitched slightly, then gave another small laugh, taking a single step forward.

"Not that sceptre," he replied, his greenish blue eyes lingering on the long golden staff he had been using as a walking stick. Something inside him froze at the tone his son was using, and he knew that Loki wouldn't take no for an answer. "Do not worry, I will return it to you once it has served my purpose."

"And why would you have need of it?" At that, the smile fell from Loki's face and a faraway look took his eyes.

"I have a lot of red in my ledger, I mean to erase it."

A blast of cold the likes of which he had not felt since the war hit him in the back. Ice crept around his body, freezing him in place as the image of Loki in front of him flickered out of existence. He strained against the ice, but couldn't move as Loki, the real Loki, stepped out from behind him. The blue fading from his skin and the red from his eyes. A wave of his son's hand and he felt the sceptre vanish from his grip.

"I am truly sorry," Loki said, not meeting his eyes until the words were already out and for the first time in so many centuries, Odin believed him without hesitation. "Guards! Your King has need of you!" he called out, taking a single step away, but a single step was enough to put him well out of reach and out of sight.

A/N Well, I hope you enjoyed this. Please review ^.^