Birds of Passage – Chapter 4: Introduction
A/N: Holy shit, dialogue attack! I never fail to be amused by how few people comment or read this on fanfiction dot net and how many more actually do on archive of our own. I am going to chalk this up to the facts that 1) I am an established author in the KakaIru fandom, and not really any other fandoms and 2) AO3 has a lot more movie-based stuff, slash rather than "yaoi" and more live action stuff in general. Alas, I return to England in less than three weeks. I may have already lamented this, but it needs more lamenting. An endless amount of lamenting, in fact. So much fucking lamenting. Also the coffee shop across the road from my Shanghai flat needs to be open later because I need tea at ten, not eight, and bloody Golden Week needs to hurry up and end so stuff can get back to normal. All of this is much more conducive to my fanfic writing. And naturally, because I have time off work, I get sick AND a typhoon blows in, stranding me in the flat for several hours. Several productive hours. Argh, not so happy with this chapter but alas, the show must go on and I am not re-bloody-doing it. Song of the chapter is 'Feel Good Drag' by Anberlin.
Warnings: Mentions of rape, but that's it! No actual rape, which is so refreshing. Just a shower of angst and some possibly incredibly lame banterous banter of banterness. And my study in trauma. So much study in trauma.
Everyone in this town
Is seeing somebody else
Everybody's tired of someone
Our eyes wander for help
Prayers that need no answer now
'Cause I'm tired of who I am
You were my greatest mistake
I fell in love with your sin
Your littlest sin
It was very difficult to focus on anything except running. Countless hours of inactivity had not been kind to his muscles, and each step felt like shards of glass grinding against the cartilage of disused joints. Though it hurt, it was exhilarating. It was exhilarating to be moving, and to be moving outside was something Loki had been so certain he would never do again. The scenery before him changed as he and Thor pelted out of the palace, somehow managing to outrun palace guards, no doubt with a little help from Thor's mildly terrifying look of utter determination.
The further they ran, the more his fear increased. They were really doing this, really escaping, but to what? To some backwater land inhabited by neither man nor beast? It would be the only option to hide him, since too many people throughout the Nine Realms knew his face and news of his escape would certainly spread like wildfire.
It was better than the alternative.
"Loki," Thor breathed, letting go of Loki's wrist as he hauled them to a stop. "I need you to send us to Midgard,"
"I- I can't-" Loki began before stopping himself mid-sentence. His voice was wrong. It was too full of everything he was feeling, filled with brokenness and self-loathing and loss of control. There was none of the tight control that should have been there, and he could only be bitterly thankful for Thor's endless denseness.
"Yes, you can! I know you can!" insisted Thor in his usual bullish way, simultaneously proclaiming certainty while begging for Loki to contradict him. Their eyes met for a second, and the trust in Thor's eyes made Loki's stomach clench.
"I physically can't unless you remove these bindings, you fool!" he snarled, tearing his eyes away. Trusting something so pathetically weak would only lead to pain. "You really didn't think this through at all, did you? What if I was unable to move inconspicuously between Realms, or if my ability to use magic had been destroyed, or if Mother hadn't given me the key? What if the palace guards had been just a little more competent? Then what? You would merely be chastised for reckless behaviour and I would b-be thrown back-"
"No, Brother, I would never let that happen! I won't be parted from you again!" Thor replied vehemently.
"You survived before, and you will again," Loki said, eyes fixed on the floor. He held up the key Frigga had given him like an offering. "Now, if you want us to escape, you will unlock the bindings!"
The key looked deceptively diminutive in Thor's hands. Loki held out his wrists, furiously trying to stop them from shaking as one large hand closed around a thin blue wrist. He couldn't stop a shudder running up his spine as unwanted memories of hands grabbing and tightening flooded his mind. Over and over in his head he reminded himself that it was innocent, that nothing untoward was going to happen, and that it was Thor who was attached to these hands, and that these hands were actually useful.
The key slid into the lock and with a small twist, clicked softly. The process was repeated for the second cuff, and the metal fell forgotten between them. Blue receded first from his fingertips, ivory flooding up willowy digits like spilled ink to stain his hands, then the rest of his body. A small smile of triumph crossed Thor's face before Loki drew on the magic within himself – and almost cried with happiness to find it still there – to unpick the weave of space-time and energy and slip them between the fabrics of the Realms, and it felt impossibly natural and comfortable.
They appeared in what seemed to be a nicely decorated home cinema room. A large television was mounted on the far wall with comfortable-looking couches and armchairs arranged in a horseshoe around it. A coffee table covered in spilled popcorn had been pushed forward in a very recent hurry, if the scuff marks on the floor were anything to go by.
"Thor and Loki have arrived, Sir," the incorporeal voice of JARVIS commented. "Should I prepare a guest room, or perhaps-"
"Don't bother, JARVIS," Tony Stark stood facing them squarely with his arms folded across his chest. It would have been more imposing if it weren't for the very bright, very loud children's film playing on the giant television behind him. "You're not keeping him."
"He is my brother, not some kind of house-cat!" Thor protested. He took one step forward, moving to shield Loki with his body. A small spark of indignation rose up from the shattered remains of Loki's pride. With his magic unbound he was more than capable of defending himself.
"I don't care if he sprouts cat ears and a fluffy tail, I don't want him living in my tower," Stark retorted.
"Our tower, Tony, our tower," tall and blond and wrapped in a shirt so patriotic it was nearly painful, Steve Rogers walked forward until he stood next to Stark. "I thought we agreed that this building would be dedicated to the team,"
"I still own the property rights, Captain Spandex, and I-"
"Would you rather we keep Loki here, were we can monitor him twenty four-seven, or would you rather we put him somewhere near civilians? Judging by the damage caused during the Chitauri invasion and footage of abilities that I know you've studied that would be a monumentally high-risk idea," the woman, Natasha Romanov, stated matter-of-factly. She raised her arm, slim television remote in hand eerily like a gun as she turned off the sound.
"We could stick him in the new Hulk containment chamber," suggested another voice, belonging to a head that emerged from behind the woman's body as it reached for a stray piece of popcorn. Loki recognised the face. Clint Barton, the one he had controlled.
"It's made to the almost the same specs as the last one, and he's proven he can escape that," she slid from the couch and rose to her feet in a fluid motion, the remote still in hand, closing a little of the distance between herself and the gods. Everything about her indicated she was ready to fight. "Our best option is to keep him close. And if he tries something, well," a smile tugged at the corner of her mouth as her eyes flickered to Loki for a second. "We all know know the last fight went,"
"Friends, I assure you, Loki will do no such thing! He has seen the errors of his ways, and-"
"Please refrain from speaking about me as if I am not present," Loki snapped, glaring at Thor for his outburst for a second before returning is gaze to the wall slightly behind the gathered midgardians. "I assure you, I will not cause any harm to any of you or the people you protect. I would stand to gain nothing from random acts of violence,"
He was painfully aware of every pair of eyes in the room focusing sharply on him. Romanov's chillingly assessing stare, Stark's calculating coolness, Rogers' calm self-assurance and Barton's irritatingly distracting munching. He immediately regretted speaking. He was sure every pair of eyes saw too much, and that they would know that he wasn't really much of a threat at all because he was so useless, even with his magic back, and that they would somehow see what had happened in the dungeons in his eyes or his body or the way he spoke. Showing any kind of weakness to these people was an invitation for trouble.
The moment of silence grew longer than any moment had a right to be, and every second it became more and more difficult not to shake. Whether it was the stress of physical exertion or the force of so many sets of unfriendly eyes, he couldn't tell. He wanted nothing more in that second than for it to end, but felt just as powerless to break the silence as if he were still gagged.
"It's going to take more than words to convince us. Actions speak louder than words, and someone's going to be watching your every move indefinitely," Rogers' voice rang with leadership. "Tony, can you set up JARVIS to-"
"Already done, Cap," Stark replied, clapping Rogers on the shoulder. A look passed between them, and Stark wandered back to the collection of couches, proudly displaying his back to Loki in a gesture of casual triumph as if any of the people in the room needed any more reassurance that Loki was an absolutely neutralised threat.
"Thank you. Until we figure out something more permanent he'll live on your floor, Thor. I hope you don't mind the invasion of your privacy," Rogers continued. Thor was practically vibrating with energy.
"The sacrifice of my privacy is nothing, my friend! I am overjoyed that my brother has been returned to me, and that you are so generous in allowing us both to stay," Thor replied, his voice overflowing with easy gratitude. He stepped back to casually rest a hand between Loki's shoulderblades, smile barely dulling when Loki jerked away instinctively.
"It's not generosity, it's a precaution. It's not like he's in any condition to do any of us any damage right now, what with how half-dead he looks," Barton piped up through a mouthful of popcorn from his perch on the couch. "Did you get on the wrong side of your special friends in god-prison? Or-"
Loki paled at the implication. Was it really so obvious? Was there some kind of outward mark or stain or something that proudly proclaimed to the world that he was little better than a cheap prostitute? He could no longer repress the shiver that ran from the base of his skull down his back as he stepped back, then jumped forward again in shock as he collided with something solid.
"Thor, I-" Loki began, turning his head to look at Thor so he didn't have to see the humans staring at him like he was some kind of circus freak, only made worse by the fact that he was a freak, and-
"I fear both my brother and I are weary from battle, so we shall retire a little early. I bid you all good night!" Thor announced too loudly, and began to usher the quaking figure beside him towards the door.
"But it's half three in the afternoon-"
"Just let them go, Clint. It's not worth it."
Loki could have cried with relief.
A/N: Please note that this will not be a bashing fic in any way. I am trying to explore everything from massivetrauma!Loki's perspective, therefore everything is a little...skewed. I can't name a single character I don't love (at least to write) in this fic.