dedication: to Chloe, for her birthday. I promised you this ages ago, but I'm only getting around to it now. oops.
notes: I'm not sorry.
title: the pathological decomposition
summary: One step forward, eight steps back. — Sif/Loki.
Loki in prison is somehow the saddest and the most satisfying thing Sif has ever experienced. He comes back to Asgard in chains, Thor his jailer, and he watches the world with starving eyes, craving for contact with his home, his mother, his world.
He always was so hungry, Sif thinks.
There's something fitting about the fact that he will never walk into a room dripping in gold again. The green makes her remember long hot nights in the summer, grass prickling at her thighs and his hand curled around her knee. Fandral and Thor and Volstagg and Hogun were swinging things at each other, but that was nothing new.
What had been new were Loki's long thin fingers on the pale skin of the inside of her knee, a little too cold and sending shivers down her spine.
It is a memory that she keeps in the farthest reaches of her heart, the dark quiet places where she keeps her mother and her sister, where a soft harp plays as her childhood burns. It is a box of memories that she only opens once or twice a year, when she needs to cry.
And Sif—Sif hates crying.
She looks at Loki in his chains and the clamp over his mouth. It's stupid, she knows, because he doesn't need words for his magic, but it reassures her all the same. If he can't speak, that silver tongue of his won't hurt anyone more than it already has.
Another memory: Loki in a woman's body, curves soft beneath her fingers, long dark curls against her thighs and Sif, head thrown back and trying not to scream—
He looks at her. Out of the entire crowd to see the return of the disgraced second son, his eyes find hers. They are green forever, green like the trees, green like Midgard, green like the grass on that night so long ago when they'd really been nothing more than children.
A flash of heat hits her, and then an extreme flash of hatred.
Sif clenches her jaw, and turns away.
Really, she should have known it would come to this.
Jane Foster is beautiful for a Midgardian, a tiny little thing with a brain like a firecracker, smarter than some of the most intelligent people Sif has ever known. She is golden and brown and freckled, and dangerously sweet.
Sif can see why Thor loves her.
(There is an old ache there, from a time when she'd wished he'd looked at her the way he looks at this tiny breakable Midgardian. But that had been a very long time ago, before she'd decided that if no one would love her as she was, she would love herself. And then there had been Loki's hand on her knee, and all of her world had crumbled into green-gold shattered glass.)
But she is breakable, and the Darkness that has infested the Nine Realms eats away at her. Sif can see the red hiding in her eyes—the Infinity Stones exist, Sif has always known this, but seeing it manifest in this Midgardian woman twists at her heart. Jane Foster is a good person. Jane Foster does not deserve this.
Sif takes her hand, and says, very quietly, "Trust me."
Jane's smile is tiny and tremulous but honest. "I already do."
"Good," Sif says, and tucks Jane behind her. "The Lady Frigga will know what to do. I will let no harm come to you."
"Thank you," Jane whispers, and holds on tighter.
This is the stupidest plan ever.
Sif goes with it, regardless.
But as they're running down the hallway, Lady Jane and Thor already gone ahead, Sif swings around to face Loki. He looks the same, always the same, and her sword is up in an instant.
She holds a sword to his throat, and she doesn't feel anything. Her face is intense, lips tight and eyes glinting darkly, and in that moment she is vengeance distilled; there is nothing good left inside her. There is no light. There is no warmth. There is only the empty cold press of forged steel to flesh, and, she thinks, the easy bubble of blood.
Lady Sif does not regret this for an instant.
Loki looks at her, the thin red line sealing as it goes—he is magic, a trickster through and through.
And he smiles. He says something, too, something she doesn't care to hear. He is a threat, after all this time, and she doesn't think about the way they'd danced before that last disastrous trip to Jotunheim. She doesn't think about the warmth of his hand against her waist, a secret in itself because though she is a warrior, she is also a woman. She doesn't let herself.
Loki smiles, with her sword at his throat.
Sif hates overpoweringly, passionately, furiously. The clang of metal against the marble floor is the only sound, and then her hands are winding in his hair—it's gotten too long again, he is so hypocritical—and pulls his face to hers, hard. Their teeth clash, and it's painful, but it's a cleansing kind of pain. It's the kind of pain that burns away the dark sticky parts of person's soul, forest-fire wild and just about as hot.
When she pulls back they breathe the same air for only a second.
"If you don't come back," she tells him, "I will find you and kill you in a hundred life times. Do you understand me?"
"Oh, Lady Sif," he says, face curving up slowly, something horrible and heartbroken behind his eyes. "I do, indeed."
He doesn't, though.
Come back, that is.
He doesn't come back.
Sif sets her jaw exactly like the day she did when he came back to Asgard in chain, and forces herself not to feel anything.
She will not mourn again.
She will not.
(That night, she dreams of grass and heat and a goodbye kiss that never should have happened. When Sif wakes, there are tear tracks on her cheeks.)