A/N I can't be alone when I say that the movie Thor, (and to some degree, The Avengers), was interesting to me for the sheer fact of Loki's tragic story and Tom Hiddleston's wonderful portrayal of it. With my admitted penchant for dark, wounded villains, I can't get Loki out of my head. Ever the god of mischief, every time I try to get back to my own novel, he's there, goading me. Two can play at this, Reindeer Games.
I should note I had the initial structure and some scenes begun on this before seeing the Dark World, but I'm pleased there were enough canon hints in the movie to give credence what I already had in mind. However, this post-Avengers story takes an alternate path to the Dark World events, and leans decidedly Lokane.
I own nothing. I just enjoy playing in the Marvel sandbox.
Jane Foster sits in the furthest corner from the door of the small café, where she has a clear view of patrons as they come in and out. She looks non-descript and plain—intentionally for the most part. Blending into the café's gray, minimalistic décor, no one pays the young physicist any mind as she sips her third cup of coffee. A ragged black notebook lies open on the small round table before her, and between sips, she taps the end of her pen on its dog-eared pages in a rhythmic, nervous beat.
The Norwegian newscaster drones on about the New York attack on the mounted flatscreen TV to her left, but she can't understand more than a few words—names really. She's almost thankful for it. They bring about a surge of feelings in the pit of her stomach that she'd rather keep suppressed. Iron Man. Captain America. Green Rage Monster (she smirks at that one). Thor. Thor…
Unbidden, she glances up when she hears that name again, and observes the shaky cell phone video on TV of the red cloaked demigod, (alien, Jane quickly corrects herself), thrashing one of the hideous invading creatures with his hammer. It's little more than a blur, he moves so quickly. A few other videos of equally poor quality are interspersed before looping. Nothing of note, just depictions of the Avenger's victory. What did she expect? That Thor would face the camera and blow her a kiss?
No. Yes. Think about something else, she orders herself. Jane looks back at her notebook. On the page open before her are Thor's patient, if simplistic explanations of the connections between worlds, drawn during a night spent in the New Mexican desert when her life seemed so much simpler. She flips the page angrily, relieved to see her own barely legible scrawl again.
Jane pulls her long, brunette hair back into a messy pony tail and sits back. What's the point? She can't think straight anyway. It's times like this where she wishes her good friend and mentor Erik Selvig was here. Any good scientist respects the necessity for a fresh pair of eyes, and she desperately wants Erik's guiding hand. And even more than that, a friend. Someone to talk to—in English, preferably. Her hasty abduction by SHIELD, despite their absolute incidence on it 'being for her own safety', was yet another bizarre infringement on her once uncomplicated life. When she inquired, SHIELD insisted Erik was safe too, and helping them with several projects (of which they refused to elaborate further). Jane did not need to possess an advanced degree to know that her and Erik's "borrowed" research of theoretical Einstein–Rosen bridge, SHIELD's heavy-handed interference with her well-being, and the sudden invasion of aliens on Earth, were all closely connected.
It makes the sting all the more tangible to know she is being excluded from it all. So here she sits, away from her stifling SHIELD-approved quarters and yet just as useless and unseen as she had ever been.
Jane recognizes a familiar voice on the TV, and looks up again. Tony Stark, genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, (his words, not hers), stands behind a podium for a press conference a world away. He tosses the suit jacket over the back of a chair and smirks at his audience. Stark's cocky swagger is in full force as he chews through the blitz of reporter questions, and Jane starts to lose interest.
"Mr. Stark, can you give us any update on the war criminal known as Loki?"
Tony leans back and folds his arms. "Yep. Antlers has been captured and sent back to his world to face justice."
He receives the expected chorus of snickers and cocks his head, awaiting the next question, which Jane can't hear. Tony shrugs.
" Aside from an appalling sense of fashion and questionable choice of company," he replies, "I know nothing about Loki. Let's just focus on the rebuild, people. I can talk about that. Yes?—"
Jane's had enough. She pushes out her chair and picks up her notebook, but not before catching a glance at the photo displayed on the TV of the very being Tony Stark dismissed so readily. Like the video aired previously, the photo quality is grainy, but the intensity of Loki's wild, dark gaze still radiates from it. She doesn't like to admit that in a perverse way, she finds him to be both fascinating and repulsive, in the same way that gapers observe car accidents or serial killers gain notoriety. It is difficult to fathom that this alien, related to Thor but so completely different, is now responsible for a failed intergalactic invasion and all the ramifications that go with it.
Shrugging on a black peacoat over her worn Yale hoodie, Jane pulls her notebook against her chest and exits the café. A light rain hits her face, and she pulls up her hood and bows her head. As she makes her way back to her tiny SHIELD apartment, Jane takes a fleeting look at the skies. Some part of her wishes for the tell-tale swirling clouds, indicative of the anomaly that once brought the god of thunder to her. But there's nothing.
11 months later
Jane juggles her thermos with one hand and her notebook and pen in the other and she leans over and looks into the eyepiece of the telescope again. The star, (a rather mundane G-type main-sequence example designated Ceti Alpha 7654.4 in the Carina Nebula), has been the object of her research for the last month or so, if only for the reason that it kept her attention focused squarely away from the wormhole anomalies that plagued her research before…him. As there is nothing otherworldly, controversial or spectacular about this star, (nothing as riveting as a falling god from the sky, say), Jane doesn't have to be burdened with the intense number crunching and observations necessary for her previous research in New Mexico. Not that she doesn't miss Darcy's company on some nights, but it is just easier this way.
The physicist is good at being alone. She always has been. Her chosen field further cements her isolation, as no one wants to talk string theory at a dinner party, and she isn't really adept at speaking at length about much else besides her passions.
"Where are you?" she says out loud, looking into the telescope again. She checks the settings, the lens and looks again.
"Odd," she mumbles. Jane rocks back in her chair and looks up, taking the opportunity to gulp down some coffee. The hot liquid burns pleasantly down her throat, warming her instantly—not that she isn't dressed for Nome's rotten weather. Several layers of shirts, fleeces and long underwear with a heavy parka on top make her thin physique look amusingly bulky. A small price to pay for comfort and freedom.
She complained enough to SHIELD that Jane's certain they all but kicked her out of Norway. With her mentor missing and a stern warning to pursue 'alternative subjects' over that of her chosen research, Jane opted to abandon her memory laden New Mexico workstation and begin anew—somewhere where even SHIELD would be loath to follow. Hence her small cottage in Nome, equipped to the bare minimum but completely hers.
The clouds pass over the sky again. Jane sighs. She'd been having a rotten time tracking Ceti Alpha 7654.4 for the last few hours, and decides to call it a night. She begins to dismantle the telescope when she stops and gazes out at the northern lights in the distance. The swirling patterns of green and pink possess an unearthly, haunting beauty, though they remind her of the prelude to the phenomena she used to track…and doesn't wish to recall at the moment.
The telescope case is quite heavy and cumbersome, and she barely manages to drag it behind her along with the lawn chair and thermos pressed under her arm. Kicking the cottage door open, she steps into her small living area. A burst of cold air follows her in. Swallowing a curse, she goes to shut the door, but in her periphery, sees a flash of red and gold. Jane looks up and drops everything onto the floor with a loud thump.
"Oh my God," she gasps, staring at the figure in front of her.
Thor smiles at her. "Hello, Jane."
Jane stumbles over her words, breathless, as she confronts the Asgard native with a mixture of surprise and horror.
"You were carrying quite a lot of things," he says, nodding to the pile on the doorstep around her feet. His eyes sparkle with boyish amusement. It snaps Jane's attention back to the present. Quickly, she picks up the telescope case and sets it on futon next to her. She closes the door with more force than she intends, and the walls shake, bringing down the only adornment she hung up—an old framed photo of her, Erik and Darcy. She winces with embarrassment at the final clatter as it comes to rest on the floor.
He's come back. He's standing in my living room, looking at me like I'm a crazy person. Jane has dreamed of this moment how many times, only to look like the Pillsbury dough boy, live in sheet metal covered hovel, and appear utterly out of her mind.
"My research materials...sorry," she says, picking up the rest of the heap and placing it beside the telescope. "I don't have the van now."
"I didn't see it," he confirms, his grin ever present. His gaze never leaves her.
Jane swallows. "So…it's been a while."
Thor nods, and briefly glances around the confined room. "Looks cozy."
She offers a weak smile in response. Cozy, barren, ramshackle—depending on her mood, any of those adjectives sufficed. The reality is, she never expected to entertain guests. Especially Asgardian princes.
Thor spots her neglected thermos. "Perhaps you would like more coffee?" Her heart flip-flops. He remembers.
"Yeah," she finds herself nodding, "coffee would be nice." She prays she isn't blushing.
Like a zombie, she shuffles behind the signature red cape as Thor makes his way into the kitchen.
"You know, it's just me here," she says, making excuses as she eyes the dirty dishes and mugs piled in the sink. "I don't get many visitors." Precisely none, actually. Which makes this eleven month stretch of isolation something of a record, even for her.
Thor looks down at Jane and offers another warm smile. "Then I am honored."
Jane strips off her thick gloves and rubs her eyes with her palms.
"I just can't believe, after all this time…" she collapses down on a chair, "that it's really you. I mean, I saw you on TV all those months back, but you never…came."
"I'm sorry, Jane," he says, "truly."
She shakes her head, and then finally eases out of her parka and several layers. There, now she can breathe again.
"Coffee?" he reminds her. Jane springs up. "Oh yeah, of course."
Thor stands back as she preps a new batch. She fumbles for a new mug, (praying that it's clean), and without looking, hands it to him.
Seconds later, she hears a crash on the ground. She spins, and sees Thor standing back, the shattered mug at his feet.
"Wanted another, huh?" she asks. He looks confused for a moment, though he quickly apologizes.
Jane's brow lifts, but she shrugs. "There's a broom over there. Just be careful of the glass." Like he needs to reminder, she winces. It's easy to forget who she's dealing with.
She pours herself a cup and turns, only to see the shattered glass still on the middle of her floor.
"Ok, I'll clean it up," she mutters to herself.
Jane finds Thor in the living room, gazing at the fallen picture of her old companions.
"Do you miss them?" he asks. Jane bends and picks up the picture. "Yes, of course I do. Every day. Darcy calls every few weeks, and Erik—he's doing research, I suppose."
"I know what it is like to be separated from those you care for," Thor says, looking at her so intently her pulse flutters. He straightens and moves closer. "The time seems interminable, even to one—"
"Not mortal?" she interjects. Thor nods, and takes another step. With her petite size, Jane has to arch her neck to meet his gaze.
A flash of sorrow crosses her face. Thor waits for her to speak.
"I waited for you," Jane says quietly. "I searched…so many nights." She doesn't want to appear needy or bitter, but she fears she sounds like both. Thor's expression changes. Hardens.
"I answer to the King of Asgard, Jane." Not to you, he could have added just as easily.
It puts her small grievances in perspective-somewhat. "I'm… glad you're ok," she says, forcing a smile. She means it. She has missed Thor, terribly, but he kept his word, albeit years late.
Dreaming of this moment, she stands on her tip toes, and moves forward to kiss him, but she hits only air. Baffled, Jane opens her eyes. She's alone in an empty living room.
Thor is gone.
12 months ago
His boots have no sooner touched the glimmering floors within Asgard's citadel before Loki is stuck so hard he falls to his knees. Gagged and shackled as he is, he flashes Thor a warning look as he straightens. Blood runs down from the fresh gash above his eyebrow, a bright crimson line against Loki's sallow colored skin.
His elder brother stands over him, clenching Mjölnir with white knuckled fist. He's breathing hard, his blue eyes pure ice. Loki glances at the glowing tesseract in Thor's other hand, the very object that has allowed their travel from Midgard to Asgard despite the shattered bridge.
His brother doesn't miss the glance, and if possible, his rage amplifies. His bulk looms over Loki's kneeling form, golden and deadly.
"You unleashed hell on an innocent race. If it is commanded, I will kill you myself," Thor threatens.
If he lacked the gag, the forsaken prince would have smiled, though he does not doubt his brother's sincerity. Loki's eyes smirk for him, utterly contemptuous. His brow arches as Thor bears his teeth and raises his hammer again, poised to strike.
The thunder god lowers Mjölnir a fraction and backs away, but his fierce gaze never leaves his brother. Their father, King Odin of Asgard, approaches with a group of guards, looking ever more like the aging old ruler that he is. He moves slowly, his robes trailing behind him. A pace away from Thor, he stops, letting his scepter hit the ground. The sound echoes throughout the chamber. He sees his eldest son's tense, menacing posture, and raises a weathered hand.
"Enough," he orders, his voice deep and tired. His gaze moves past Thor to his adopted son.
The king frowns. "You have returned to us disgraced, Loki."
Loki stares up at the king with unbridled loathing as he rises, somewhat awkwardly, to his feet. Even subjected to a muzzle and manacles, he stands up tall, his chin raised, ever a prince.
The king's voice quiets. "Your mother and I mourned. Our pain was…almost unbearable."
Something washes over Loki's face, and his eyes soften for just a moment. Odin steps forward, his long white hair brushing his shoulders. He stares at the metallic shackles over Loki's pale wrists, and he breathes the tired sigh of one who has ruled too long and seen too much.
"Loki, you have turned our grief into sorrow and shame. I did not raise you to be a war monger or a fool, and yet you are both." For a moment, Odin looks genuinely distressed before his impassive kingly guise replaces that of a wounded father. He backs away and waves his hand. Guards surround Loki.
"Son of Asgard," Odin commands, his voice resolute and detached, "you are condemned to the dungeons indefinitely for your crimes against this world and others."
Loki walks with an even stride, his eyes trained forward. He is surrounded by a whole troop of armored guards. Their heavy footfalls reverberate down the massive, torch lit hall leading to the dungeon.
Despite the abnormally large escort, the guards exchange fleeting glances amongst each other. Sweaty palms grasp spears. Loki half smirks, free of his gag. And so they should fear him. He was their king, lost to oblivion and now returned. He is not meant for a dungeon, though Asgard's depths are considerably less bleak than other places in his long memory.
His amusement dissipates as he feels the curiosity, even rage of the imprisoned Aesir and creatures of the nine Realms in their cells as they watch the condemned prince walk by. Oh, to be among friends, he thinks bitterly, stopping with the troops before his own cell. The captain of the guards makes a sweep of his hand, and the shimmering clear barrier drops so Loki can walk in. He turns and presents his shackled wrists to them. A young helmeted guard, just barely into manhood, is commanded forward for the honor. Loki keeps still as the guard looks up at him. A chill runs down Loki's spine. Something is terribly wrong. The boy's eyes are wall of black, void of soul or life. A malevolent smile stretches over his young features, and Loki knows it is the grin of someone else entirely.
The guard's hands touch his shackled wrist.
Instantly, Loki's conscious is snapped into another reality. It is the place of his nightmares, impossibly cold and dark, where the rocks that rise from the barren dark landscape are misshapen and warped and glow rivulets of green from their master's awesome power. Dread fills him.
"Did you think I could not find you, Asgard prince?" comes the powerful voice, rasping and ancient.
Loki frowns. "Then you know I'm a bit indisposed." He nearly buckles over as pain radiates throughout his body.
Reluctantly, Loki does, though the torment continues, pulsating through him.
"Where is it?" the disembodied voice continues.
"I have not broken my word," Loki answers.
"I grow weary of your promises."
As do I, Loki thinks, but says nothing.
"Bring it to me, or suffer the consequences of your treason." If possible, the pain intensifies, and when he can bear it no more—
Loki is thrust back into the present, rocking slightly on his feet in the transition. He sees the confused gaze of the young guard before him, restored to normal. He holds the removed shackles in his hands.
The guard steps back, and the barrier hums to life, entrapping the prince. The guards leave together, but the young one hesitates, throwing the prince one last glance.
Loki knows that look. Pity.
You have no idea, he thinks.
A/N Please review if you enjoyed this. I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to writing fanfiction, but I will surely continue provided the readers and love are there. :)