Blood. Lots of blood. Loki looks at his dripping wrists with fascination. He licks the finger that was digging in the wound, nearly severing a vein. Loki growls at the taste and remembers the taste from when it pulled in his mouth from the many torture sessions The Other gave him. He starts giggling to himself in remembrance. He takes his bloody finger and starts drawing stick figures on his walls. Thinking of ways to kill his brother and his playmates. This was his mind now. All that was left was to awaken. Looking at the wall that is decorated with stick figures he starts swaying and runs his fingers through his matted hair till he grabs it and yanks hard, almost pulling hair out. A stirring fills his walls. They vibrated with life. Not of agony but of joy. Something was not right in Loki’s world. He has staunched the light so why is there a feeling such as joy filling his room? He growls to himself and starts creating a scene for the light that has not died yet. He smirks.
“You may not be crushed, but you will be locked away. Run little one. Let me see you scurry.”
He runs. All he feels is pain and a part of him relishes in it. A dark sensation fills him despite his fight to be pure. The scene with the original plays in his head over and over. He was hiding within his youth all this time. A curse he put upon himself in a desperate attempt to escape what he had done. A voice fills his head. The one that has been tormenting him this entire time. He is coming, he is almost here. Loki falls to his knees.
"Why have I fallen?" He asks the darkness. Tendrils coil themselves around him telling him lies and false promises.
"You are alone, unwanted."
"The realms have cursed you. Hate them all!"
"There is no place for you. The only one who gives you purposes is Thanos." Loki hits his head against the ground. His forehead bleeds from the force.
"Go away, I am not your toy anymore." He moans in despair. A tendril then skewers him in the back making him bend backward almost to the breaking point. He can't even scream. He closes his eyes then opens them to a dim light. He feels as if nothing was left in him to make such a sight. He crawls forward, the dark trying to drag him back. He fights, reaching for the dim glow, seeing his cursed form coming at him again. It was a fight within his head he knew. A fight that though wasn’t real, was life or death to him regardless. He feels himself being thrown to the ground, only to be submerged into water. He was drowning. He holds his breath fighting to get up, to breathe, and to see one more sunrise. He wanted to smell Aunt May’s cookies again. To hear Gwen laugh her corky laugh. The light grows bigger, starting to take form. He wanted to bicker with Peter about going out with him at night. A chuckle wants to form, the water slowly disappearing now. He wanted to tell Thor that he was the best big brother and to stop holding himself accountable. The light shines brightly now, spreading the two apart. The battle wasn’t lost. He had so much to live for. So many to help him. He sees that now. He sees what he had been running from this entire time. The light took the form of his loved ones. He runs to them, ignoring the darkness whispered words he used to believe so strongly in. Upon his brushing of their light with his fingertips, he jerks violently having to relive it all again. Loki whimpers. The memory was painful. Almost making him wish for death in any way it would come. But then other memories force their way through the agony and despair. They were cool waters stoking out a fire that had purged across his entire being for ages. He was a child. Laughing with his brother. They had played so often, inseparable even. The scene changes swiftly a taste of garlic filling his mouth. Dinner. Aunt May and Peter. She loved to make Italian. Said that the food was romantic to her. He remembers her laugh and the light conversation. Tears come but he doesn't feel them. She always told him words of love and comfort when he needed them. Peter was more protective then her. He smiles gently at the nagging he heard often from the teen that was evened out by the sarcastic comments he made. He sees them all stand before him.
"Never forget you are loved." It was Aunt May's face but not her voice. Mother. She is gone but to be honest, Aunt May is all he can think of right now as mother. Someone he honestly loves which is few and far between. Perhaps they were one and the same. Peter. He jerks again, seeing his worried expression. Thanos. He opens his eyes, heart pounding in fear.
"Brother!" He yells. Glass shatters and he falls a few inches into puddles of water. The next thing he knew, he was grabbed ruthlessly and face to face with The Other.
Loki was put in a glass pod with an air mask, a new S.H.I.E.L.D healing product for the worst cases. It was filled with water so he could float. It was warm and the inside glowed with blue light telling on lookers all that was going on in his body. Cho was monitoring his body, the wounds he sustained during battle already healed by her other machine. She tells them that he is simply in a coma and should wake up when the inner turmoil is calmed. A hypothesis inspired by Vision’s insight. The Avengers were on edge. The body that floated gently in the water was no longer the body of a teen, nor that of the crazed animal Thor had seen. He was the Loki they remembered. He was fit, though small, tall and put together. His hair floats softly around his pale face, almost angelic with his sleeping expression.
"Will he be all right?" Peter asks from his perch above the pod. They were scattered around the pod but Thor and Peter were. Wanda put her hand on his shoulder. He gives a thankful look for her kind gesture. Thor puts his hand up against the glass, eyes filled with sorrow. He can't even touch him right now.
"Is there truly nothing we can do?" Steve asks, seeing that Thor probably can't even think right now.
"I will try to find a way to wake him up but I can't promise anything.” Cho says with sympathy for the group. Peter bites his lip. It is Uncle Ben all over again. He can't do this again. Thor looks to the boy, conveying a since of calm in his eyes. Peter clutches onto that so he can keep a hold on his emotions. Thunder sounds in the distance. Rhodes comments, without thought.
“It is supposedly a tropical storm. Hope it doesn’t get too bad.” Thor shakes his head. He would quell the storm if need be but right now it feels appropriate. The group begins to scatter to their own rooms till Fury calls them all, including Peter, to the conference room. When they all assemble Fury shows them a live feed of outer space and zooms in to show them a ship. The group grow tense. It was one but it was big. They had a small invasion on their hands. Thor studies the craft, trying to place it. Steve goes over a plan of assault till it finally hit him.
“That is the lead Chitari ship. It has a mark on its side. I have seen it only in a book but I know that mark means The Other is leading this charge.” Tony asks who the Hell is The Other. Thor tells them it is a being found deep within the void with immense power and knowledge. He informs them of a rumor saying he works for an even stronger being named Thanos. The being that had charged Loki with taking over Midgard. The group knows this craft can’t make it to Earth. Fury stops them before they leave.
“I don’t want this thing on my planet either but this ship hasn’t moved for two hours. We haven’t seen anything leave it but I have a bad feeling that they have already infiltrated our planet.” Thor nods, informing them of their ability to hide from even Heimdall’s sight. Thor was cutoff however by an alarm. An agents run up to the room, gasping desperately. Something was in Loki’s room. The group runs to battle, Thor and Peter the fastest in their desperation. Once in the room, they witness the glass of his pod breaking as the scream of brother reaches their ears. Loki falls in the puddles of water left from the explosion, shards of glass breaking from the being’s stomps to his place on the floor. He grabs Loki by the hair, making him meet his gaze. Loki flinches at the pain, but glares straight into the eyes of his captor.
“This is where you were hiding.” He brushes fingers down his neck, to his torso. “The scars are gone, Thanos wanted you marked, slave.” Loki growls as The Other raises his hand to create a barrier around them. The Avengers do what they can to try and break it, dodging the shots fired by the aliens’ guns. The Other holds out his hands to take a rod, glowing from heat. A branding iron. Loki couldn’t move, something in his subconscious obeying his authority despite his screams to move. “Allow me to fix that now.” He had to move. To fight. To live. The rod sizzled when it hit his skin, burnt flesh meeting his nose. He screams, feeling his body react. He felt himself break from his invisible shackles, grabbing the rod with rage filling his eyes. They glow briefly for his armor to appear on his body.
“Allow me to escort you to Hel.” The Other takes the rod and swipes it at Loki’s face, the barrier weakening. Loki doges by leaning back, keeping balance as he kicks out at his legs. The Other steps aside with blinding speed, kneeing Loki in the back and sending him flying from the force. Loki coughs but picks himself up with ease. The Chitari meet the Avengers in battle as the force field falls. More squads come down from invisible space crafts, taking the building swiftly. War is taking place in the light of the moon, but right now, Loki only saw The Other. He will kill him. Nice and slow. He hears the angry hisses of his inner demon, the insane side. It was echoing its anger and blood thirst. Remorse fills him from such horrible thoughts as he dodges The Other’s staffs. He could feel a warmth fill him but he was still so angry. He deserved to die. Loki throws daggers at the impossibly fast being as words fill his head. We deserved to die at one point. Loki scoffs at himself but he hears the voices in his head a little louder this time. They chorused together in a rare moment of agreement. We deserve justice. He barely dodges the deadly blow as The Other begins to chant a spell. It caused a purple energy to fly out towards him. Loki hums his own spell, Fire balls intercepting the energy. And explosion of smoke fills the area. Loki hums another spell to cause the smoke to become thicker, bigger. He needed a spell to end all of this. He needed time to think through it first. He runs out of the smoke and joins the battle alongside Peter. He swipes at a Chitari soldier with his new blade, backing Peter up. They fought in synch as Peter webbed or beat on his adversaries and Loki fights like the warrior he was trained to be. Deadly and fast. The Other finally breaks through the smoke, grabbing Loki, They were about to board the ship used to bring the small army when Vision hits him with his mind stone power. Loki falls but is caught by the Scarlet Witch. He thanks her as he aims an electric orb to take out five soldiers. She nods her head in thanks, starting up the battle again. Vision held his own with The Other but Loki needed a spell still. The Other was truly powerful. He thought back through the centuries of study when one came to him. He watches as Vision plummets to the ground, The Other coming toward him once more. It was a long shot, the mind is a mystery even to him and his magic. Loki prepares the spell his two alter egos agreed upon. Loki screams to Thor to give him time. He hides behind the Avengers in a circle of protection as he gathers the power needed for the spell. Tony was blasted to the point he had to eject from his suit, Rhodes taking his place in the circle. Steve lost his shield to a group of the Chitari and takes out his plasma pistol given to him by S.H.I.E.L.D. They fell but got back up to help him. To finally end this. When his eyes sparked with a bright flame of magic he told them to clear in time for The Other to tackle him. It was as if everything was on the outside of an invisible bubble for him. He heard nothing, felt nothing. If this failed, it all ended. If it worked, he may have a future. The Other pulls him up by his neck in slow motion. His eyes look to be gaping holes of shadow underneath his hood. Loki didn’t flinch, his concentration on this spell. The alien raised his hand to call a spear to him but Loki grabbed his hand. He froze it and then pillars of ice skewered his wrists causing him to let go of his neck. The pillars lower to pull him down into a kneeling position. Loki steps up before him and places his hands on his forehead. He had to enter his mind. Loki breathes in deep and starts the process. Time slows around them. The battle slowing down into a still frame. Loki hears his own screams echo in the man's head. He feels what The Other felt as he destroyed his mind and body. He even heard his thoughts of anger. Threatening to hurt him in ways that Loki knew he would never heal from. He goes deeper into the creature's mind to find where The Other’s soul resides. He feels the fears he has, and he knows that what he did to him, would be just as painful. Loki seals it then. Grabbing all that The Other fears and the experience Loki himself has of pain and thrusts it all into him. The Other doesn't even flinch.
"Live every day experiencing all of your fears and all the pain I felt. Once it all ends, live it over again, and again." The Other twitches and goes slack. Loki pulls away and falls to the ground. Time goes back to normal and Thor bursts into a break neck sprint to Loki. He tries to get up but his body refuses to move. What was left of the Chitari stopped fighting, retreating now that their leader fell. Three grabbed The Other's body to take him into the ship. Vision stopped them from following the creatures.
“They are retreating, we have no reason to stop them now.” Steve nods in agreement, everyone easing their bodies out of the adrenaline rush of combat. Thor gently pushes Loki back down to the grass from his failed attempts to get up.
"You are exhausted Loki, rest and renew your strength." Loki swats at him.
"I'm on a strict time line. Have to be back to wish Aunt May a good morning." Peter jogs up beside him and takes his mask off in a huff.
"I swear on Gwen's life, if you give me one more heart attack I will web you to the ceiling of your room." Loki smirks and allows his body to go limp. It was time to rest, the war completely over, the storm easing away from the city. The group could not sleep though. They went through the process of being healed from the fight. It was a quite few hours. Once they all came to sit together in the lounge area the sun was starting to come up. Loki gives a lazy look to Peter from his spot between him and Thor. He has been thinking very hard on where he should go from here in the time since the fighting stopped. A part of him wants to leave, no longer feeling as if he belonged. To figure out who he is alone. However last time he did that he came to Midgard with a thirst for blood. Another wanted to stay with Peter. He knew though, that who he was, he couldn't live with Peter like before. He isn't that innocent teen anymore. He didn't even bother to think of Asgard. He was starting to feel that he had no home as the sunrise tries to warm his tired face. He didn't wish to live with the Avengers because even if he did, they would all leave and only see each other when needed and in turn, Thor would leave for Jane. He almost growled but kept himself stoic on the outside. Where does he go?
"We should head back. We need to at least be there to say good morning to Aunt May." Peter says gently. It was quite. The only sound was soft music, chosen by Steve, in the background and the occasional rustle of people moving to get comfortable. No one wanted to sleep. They were still too wired and it just didn't seem right. Loki nods. He did want to see her at least. Maybe he would figure something out while he goes through today as if nothing happened. The two get up and Loki shimmers for a second and turns into his teen self again. Peter smiles. "You are you either way." Loki raises his eyebrows. He needed to hear that. Did Peter know? He shakes it off the two walking out of the room side by side.
"Need a lift?" Tony asks. He was dozing off, leaning inch by inch onto Steve. Peter snorts.
"You would fall asleep at the wheel." Tony shrugs. Steve looks worried.
"We will get an agent to drop you guys off." Loki nods, too tired to argue. The two walk to the front, sun making the white walls appear gold. Thor pops up behind him before he leaves with the chosen agent.
"We are brothers, no matter what ok." Loki isn't sure what to say. It's almost like everyone knows he is choosing which life he should live.
"I know." Is all he can say before they walk out and enter the car. Thor looks sad but excepting right as the car door closes and Loki wonders if Thor believes he won't return. Peter and Loki ride in silence, leaning on one another for the two hour ride to Aunt May who is probably about to worry herself to death from them not coming home last night. Peter finally speaks as they enter their part of the city, now awake in the early morning.
"What's the plan?" Loki sighs, shrugging his shoulders that Peter rested his head on.
"Not sure." deciding the truth was easiest right now. Peter doesn't say anything. What does he chose? Peter asks the woman to stop the car at the gas station. He asks if she has five bucks, she hands him ten. Peter jumps out, running inside and exiting the building a few minutes after, carrying a carton of eggs. Loki shakes his head but says nothing as Peter jumps in. They pull into the alley not long after that and walk to the house in comfortable silence, the agent pulling away casually. Peter's hand brushed Loki's and a part of him wonders if holding hands would seem weird. Peter inches his pinky out and wraps it around Loki's long one. The stress of the night seeps out from just that one touch and Loki closes his hand around Peter's. Screw what it would seem like. He was broken and lost he needed to feel something real, solid, like home. They take the three steps up to the door and open it quietly. Aunt May had fallen asleep on the couch, tear streaks on her eyes. Loki wakes her by brushing her hair out of her eyes. The boys were kneeled before her in sad silence. She wakes, staring at them from her half sitting position. Peter hands her the carton of eggs, an offering to appease a goddess. She takes them with both hands, dropping them on the couch as she cries silently. The boys feel water at the backs of their eyes, a dam breaking when she falls before them and hugs them with all the strength her frail arms would allow. They cry for their own reasons with no sound, not even sniffling. They breathed in each other’s existence till Aunt May let them go. Telling them in a whisper to get washed up. As Loki took his shower and got ready in his clothes, the questions ran through him to the point it was ripping him apart even more then he already was. Was he forced to just live alone now? To watch from afar? The hour passed slowly till they met back in the kitchen. He smelled coffee. Loki smiles seeing Aunt May sipping a mug of coffee that smelled faintly of cinnamon and reading the morning newspaper as if nothing had happened. The only proof being the bags under her eyes. She lifts her head when Loki drags himself in toward the coffee pot.
"I will give you and Peter a note so you can go make the last half of school" He pours coffee in his mug and puts two spoons of cinnamon with a dash of milk in. He stirs it, sips on his caffeine huffs.
"Very well, thank you for the note Aunt May." She studies him
"Is everything ok?" She gets up with her coffee and stands in front of the god. He wants to lie. He wants to say he was fine, like nothing happened. But what can he say? I remember now. I was tortured and now I'm a shell of the boy you knew. He decides to put it off.
"I'll tell you later." She sighs. Deciding prying won't work with the boy standing next to her. Instead she guides him over to the table and gives him a plate of eggs, bacon and pancakes. Peter comes down stairs not long after Aunt May giving him the same, then placing the notes to each. The boys eat slowly. Rushing just wasn't in them this morning and Aunt May didn't even mention that they would only make three classes at this rate. When they finally finished they walked upstairs to grab their bags. Peter meets Loki in his room when he gets his bag. Loki was armed with makeup. Peter groans.
"Gwen give it to you?" He nods, life being brought back to his face from the foundation. He didn’t look so scary tired now, Peter muses.
"Get over here. You look like shit." Peter rolls his eyes at the curse but sits down. Gwen gave them foundation to hide their worst bruises. Today, it was simply to not scare people with their dead faces.
"You had looked paler than usual." Peter teases.
"You are just as pale." Peter smirks.
"Then we both must look like walking corpses." Loki finally gives a small laugh. Once done they walk downstairs and follow Aunt May to the bus stop. They had to take the city bus with her since it was time for her to go to work anyways. Once at their stop Aunt May gives them a quick kiss each before their tired minds could register what she did. Some people smiled at them as they walked off.
"Are we going to even be productive for the last three classes?" Loki asks. Peter snorts.
"Naw, but we can pass these classes even if we slept all year." Loki snickers tiredly and the two drag on, the price of a double life hitting hard today. Peter and Loki hand the teacher of fourth period their notes, after stopping by the office. She shrugs, the class more than half way over. The next class Peter falls asleep as Loki just lays his head on his hand and thought with his eyes closed. Stay. Leave. Which life to choose? Who was he now? Which was home? He couldn't quite grasp the questions and didn't really want to. They became a painful buzz in his head replaced by the darkness he tries so hard to keep at bay. A cruel laugh fills his mind and his own screams echo with it. So many things happened. He couldn't even begin to know where to start to pick up the pieces. Usually he knew how to fix himself. He had to when he was younger because with time, Thor stopped seeing when he was hurt, falling apart. Looking back now, he sees he was at fault. He pushed Thor away as he began to be alienated by everyone else for his affinity for magic. Innocence. He thinks of that side of him fondly. Then he remembers his other half. Two sides of the same coin. They make him who he is. He knew death to either one wouldn't have helped. The bell rang for the last class. Gym. Loki took Peter to the side before they entered.
"Can you stomach gym?" Peter groans a no. "Thought so." Clones of them materialize beside them and the clones walk into class. Loki and Peter then sneak behind the school and sit among the trees. It smelled like snow and fresh mowed grass. They fell to the floor and waited for the bell.
"Do you have to choose?" Peter asks out of nowhere. Loki rises enough to lean on his elbows.
"What?" Peter was looking out into the woods biting his thumbnail.
"Why do you have to choose? You aren't just one shade of a person fitting in one life." Loki looks at him. He looked sad and scared. Loki sits up completely.
"You and I both know that we can't let Aunt May know about any of this." He whispers, voice deep. Peter finally looks at him. He was determined.
"Maybe we can integrate the life without the superhero part to bind them together." Loki wonders at that. Everyone knows the Avengers, so how are they supposed to do that? The bell rings making the two jump. They wander out, the conversation making them tense. Loki gets his stuff from his locker and goes out. He sees Gwen and Peter talking happily and when they see him, they wave him over. He waves but goes the opposite direction. Peter wanted to follow, but stayed, knowing right now he needed space. Loki materializes a black motorcycle from behind one of the buildings and mounts it quickly, putting a helmet on his head out of habit. As he rides through the city in circles he vaguely sees red and blue swinging in the direction of sirens. Loki almost followed but decided now wasn't the time. Instead he thought and drove farther away. He drove till he got lost outside of the city, creeping on the country side far from anything he ever knew of Midgard. He needed to heal his wounds but he wasn’t sure what needed healing anymore. He found a small town as he drove, watching the sun move from above to a lower spot in the sky. He had taken his real form, putting on black dress slacks and a dark green dress shirt. He found a rubber band in his bag, tying his hair out of the way. He wondered if he could cut it soon. Though he has grown to enjoy putting it back in a loose bow. The band now hung low at his neck some strands falling around his face. He felt tired as he walked the small town. It looked to be on the verge of bankruptcy. It had been forsaken from the very government that claims to help the little people but fed off of its earnings. Loki sat on a broken down car off the side of the road. He saw a starved dog sniff the ground for scraps. He couldn’t help but see himself in it. When he was in the void he did that often yet here he stood. He had the ability to choose where his life went from here. Midgard nor Asgard knew he was here once more, the ones protecting it allowing him a chance at freedom. He moves his legs to his chest. It felt so unreal. A light coming at the end of his tunnel and it wasn’t death. He watched the sun as it creeped to the horizon. The dog had gone but a howl echoes from down the road. It was looking for someone to answer. Loki listened on baited breath. instead of a howl he heard a splash. confused, he went behind the destroyed building to find a bird bath surrounded by green. it was no more then a foot long coming out of the pedestal birds were now flying away from. he walks over, curious and simply gazes at his reflection. the dog didn't get his answer, Loki deciding he would never either. Suddenly, the water ripples as if a stone was thrown into it. Loki jerks his head and stares intently. a light begins to lace itself into the water. the current flows over the bird bath to start covering the surounding area. it was ankle deep and stopped at the end of the lonely grass area. Loki looks back at the pool but almost falls in surprise. it was not his reflection he saw but his mother. Frigga. not just her face, two others faded in and out as if three beings made up her very essence.
"Mother?" Loki whispers. she smiles sweetly at him.
"Shall we make way for your destiny my son?" Loki stares, ears perking as the dog howled once more and Loki's ears prickle. A deeper sound rings to his ears. Another howl. An answer. A life no longer alone. "Let us shape your destiny by changing your past."
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