This is a new full-length tasertricks story I've been working on. I originally wasn't going to post until I had a stockpile of chapters but I decided to go ahead with the few I have to light a fire under my arse and force me to keep writing. Unlike Vegas, I know exactly what's going to happen, so updates should be regular-2 weeks apart at most.
The prologue was written long before the Thor 2 trailer came out, so the whole thing is AU, but especially the type of cell Loki is being held in.
It seemed to Loki that inside this cell there existed a perfect stillness. Without windows, time did not move forward, day and night equal to each other. No sounds filtered through from from the outside world to come disturb him; not even the shuffle of rats or drip of water down the dank walls. He was suspended, manacled to the wall, his whole world reduced to one dark corner of a forsaken cell.
At first he welcomed the stillness after the chaos he'd left behind—he'd been running and fighting for months, and even he needed time to recuperate. But when he was healed and time had become important to him again, the utter silence rankled him, urged him to pace. Yet he couldn't even rise to his feet, shackled tightly in place, and he couldn't yell or outwardly make his frustration known because the silver gag still gripped the lower half of his face.
There was little to fill his time with, no outlet for the dissatisfaction racking him. He hated being pinned down here, knowing the leader of the Chitauri would make good on his threat and hunt Loki down. He wasn't safe. He needed to be free, with all his magic available to him, ready for the oncoming war. Not that Loki didn't have plans for the future—plans that had nothing to do with rotting for eternity in this cell. He had secrets even the Allfather didn't see and he was weaving a path for himself out of them as he waited. For what, he wasn't quite sure.
Being caged thus wasn't his only frustration. It had been an age since he'd found release by anything other than his own hand, and he'd reached the point long before his failed conquest of Midgard where he refused to sink to that anymore. It kept him on edge, a good edge, sharp to the failings of others and to his own, his guard always up. His current circumstances meant he never had a single moment's privacy, Heimdall charged to watch Loki despite the tailor-made gaol. He certainly wasn't going to give Heimdall, or any of his jailers, that kind of show. If he was miserable, and hungry, and weary, and itching for action of any kind then it would only spur him onto greater things.
He had visitors to break up the tedium—two, in particular. The first was Thor, stern and disappointed, an echo of the Allfather's own thunder. When reproaching Loki failed, he turned to stories of their childhood, trying to appeal to their brotherly bond, unaware—or unwilling to acknowledge—how shrouded in bitterness those memories were. Thor wanted Loki's redemption more than Loki himself did. That was one of the caveats of his sentence: if Loki were to show remorse, true remorse, for his actions then he would be released. Loki didn't regret anything he'd done and knew he wouldn't be leaving the cell at the behest of Thor or the Allfather.
The other visitor was his mother.
Frigga was the one piece of warmth he still held in his chest, had always held even during his exile. Of her, he remembered motherly embraces and kind words. Any reproach he'd gained as a child from her, she'd given just as freely to Thor. She might not be his blood, but she was still his mother, more deserving of the title than his usurper of a father.
The disappointment in her gaze had faded since his initial return to Asgard, replaced with a hope Loki couldn't find within himself. No doubt she wanted him to repent, to agree to return to Thor's shadow and be satisfied with living that life. He could never abide such a thing. Even so, the fact that she still came as often as she could, when he hadn't seen the Allfather since his sentencing, kept his warmth for her alive. He kept it quiet, though, aware that any chink in his armour could and would be used against him. For the Allfather's benefit, he built his walls as high as they would go. He imagined Frigga knew—indeed, hoped she did—because despite his terse demeanour and often callous silence, she always came back, ever burdened with love. She asked for the gag to be removed in her presence so he could speak to her. She didn't fear him, smoothing his hair, the lines on his face, the bruises left by the mask. She brought ointments and soothed his cracked skin, cleaned him, looked after him, just as she had when he was a child and got caught in a fight Thor started and couldn't finish.
When he heard the locks click free, Loki knew it would be her before the door opened. Thor had been only the day before and left in terse defeat. She carried only a looking glass, no bigger than a dinner plate. The mirror was a new addition to her collection of accoutrements, and her hope seemed ever brighter today. Loki glanced at the sheet of glass and turned his gaze back to the wall.
"I've brought something I believe will interest you," she said, coming to her knees before him as she always did, despite the fact her fine gown would grow filthy on the cell floor. He glanced at her briefly, gave his best impression of nonchalance and looked away again, examining the brickwork. He'd have preferred her to come armed with bowl and cloth. His hair was slick with grease against his crown and neck, and he wanted the sensation gone.
"I've been working on this since you came home," she continued as if he had expressed interest in her words. Perhaps she read him too well. Perhaps her hope shone bright enough to eclipse his indifference. "It's a way for me to share my gift—a very small part of my gift—with you. To show you that this is not all that fate intends for you."
That caught his attention, and he stared fiercely at the glass resting in her lap, his hand forming a fist though he couldn't reach to snatch it away. He'd never heard of such a thing before; Frigga's sight was hers alone, not even shared with the Allfather. What had she seen of Loki that bade her work such an impossible piece of magic?
She tipped his face towards her with gentle hands. "It's but a brief thing, caught in the looking glass. Do you wish to see?"
The word almost died in his throat, so long since he'd spoken, even longer since he'd attempted civility. "Please."
"Very well." She lifted the glass and he held his breath, waiting for her to pass the flame of hope onto him. Had she seen him ascending a throne? Did she see him being acclaimed over Thor for some deed he'd performed? In the future, would people finally realise he was the better strategist, better ruler, better brother? The image in the glass flickered by, clear as his own reflection, but making no sense. It looped around when it reached its end after mere seconds, repeating from the beginning. Only on the fourth showing did it become clear to Loki what he was witnessing.
He turned his face away with a snarl. "Sentimentality. Small, petty things. You offer me a hint of future glory and deliver this?" He shut his eyes and leaned his head against the wall, indicating the visitation was over. In time, he heard his mother leave without another word. She took the mirror with her, and that he came to regret it as the hours ticked by. He wanted to study the magic involved, if nothing else. Was it a true fragment of his future, or a trick dreamed up by her foolish side?
But when she returned the next day, glass in hand, he devoured the image eagerly, watching it replay for a full turn of the hourglass. Frigga patiently waited for him to grow weary of it. He'd dreamed of it overnight, it's true meaning growing clear to him.
"What you've seen can't be achieved by force," she warned him when he finally allowed her to set the mirror down. "It has to be earned—gained with trust, not with tricks and threats."
He ignored her advice, because he wouldn't need tricks or force to get what he'd seen—that would be the easiest part. One small part of a much bigger plan, already elaborated beyond its meagre beginnings of a few days ago. He'd have everything he wanted and he had his dear mother to thank for encouraging him to go after it.
Now there was just the small matter of escaping this cell and the Allfather's gaze to deal with.
Thanks to my usual betas, Twiggy, Lindsay and Rhi.