Hidden Within

Observation

They wouldn't stop glaring. Their eyes: just consistent hard lines of sight, bearing directly into his every waking movement – especially Stark. Oh, how he despised Stark. However, he found himself oddly smug. His dim-witted brother had actually managed to obtain the help of this team, a group of hardly qualified (by his standards) oafs who had nothing but egotistical personalities and snarky comments. But this was for Adeline Crow. If they could help to get her out of Drengrheim alive and well, Loki was content. More than content, he was relieved. At this point, it was all his mind could achieve; but he was grateful for it at least, considering he had to listen to the ridiculous statements and protesting emanating from mostly Stark's direction.

What had he possibly gained from this conversation? Certainly nothing of importance. Overall, which has been about an hour, not one of these so-called "Avengers" had said a word to him. Sure, they had spoken of him, but not to him. He was the pawn, used for display in the corner. They thought he was wallowing; in a way he was, but it was not a pitiful, helpless wallow like everyone seemed to think. It was an angry, and rather determined wallow. He merely missed the feeling of Adeline's skin, the warmth of her fiery glaze contrasting with that of his icy stare into those ever so precious baby blue eyes. Meanwhile he had to sit here and listen to the excuse of why Bruce Banner, the rather arduous green rage monster, couldn't show, and why no body else was very willing to participate. Sure, his brother had convinced them with the word "fun" but apparently Stark was suffering some traumatic flashbacks (which he wouldn't stop blabbing about) to the last time he dealt with the so-called "dark prince", Loki himself, and wasn't keen on visiting another planet. Loki didn't care of course. He knew the Warriors Three would commit, and Sif would be on board. Adeline had once told Loki of how fond she was of the young female warrior, an apparent role model of his beloved.

The other three "heroes" in the room, although still unsure, seemed more open to the idea than Mister "Iron Man" over there pouting like a complete and utter baby Bilgesnipe.

Loki couldn't help but roll his eyes, and he soon found out that was a mistake, though he didn't regret it.

"What's got reindeer games in a mood?" Stark snapped, obviously not meant to be a tease, but more of a sarcastic insult.

Loki scoffed, shaking his head. Midgardians.

Natasha and Hawkeye stopped chattering abruptly, having been in a careful conversation with Thor, and the Captain simply turned Loki's way, having been listening intently.

Stark just continued to glare.

"Are you capable of nothing else?" Loki's deep voice seemed to startle everyone, having been used to the lack of communication from his slouched position in the corner of the room.

Tony raised his brows, Natasha shifted uncomfortably, glancing at Barton, and Cap simply kept a firm stare forward.

"Oh, so he does speak." Stark commented dryly, and smiled a rather smug smile.

Thor seemed to instantly feel like the incredibly awkward father figure.

"Oh, yes, congratulations 'man of iron', it seems you are just as good at pointing out the obvious as you are at unintelligible blank stares."Loki's rather endearing statement had the whole room quiet.

Romanoff stood up straighter, same as Barton; Rogers cleared his throat uncomfortably; Thor shut his eyes and huffed out a long sigh; and Stark simply sat, pulling off his ever so brilliant "blank stare". Thor, being Thor, was the first to break the odd silence, getting a grip on himself, as if straining to keep his record-breaking lapse of patience.

"Loki, please don't start something." The thunder god paused before he went on; "I said I would try to protect you if they get out of hand, but if you continue to boast and insult, I'm afraid I will not be able to hold them all back." This brother's tone was almost mocking, and frankly, utterly exasperated.

"Ah, let him be snide, Goldilocks." Stark was almost grinning, wickedly, as he got up from his chair and took a few steps toward the dark prince. "It will make it ten times more entertaining when he gets what's coming to him."

Thor got to his feet, extending an arm to block Tony from closing anymore of the distance between his own two feet and his brother's. Rogers stiffened as well, prepared to step in if needed, while Romanoff and Barton hung back, observing, and seemingly taking notes with vibrating eyes.

"What did I say?" Thor was glaring at the billionaire now, eyes sharp, like unbeatable blades.

Stark scowled at the question and shook his head, pulling away from Thor's grip; the grip holding him back from doing anything rash.

When the Tony didn't seem content on answering, Thor pushed the question even further, "What did I say?"

This time he directed it to everyone in the room, and Loki sat behind him, utterly humiliated.

"Thor, I do not need-"

"Shut up, Loki. Not a word."

Loki shut up.

Stark let out a long, rather irritable sigh and shrugged his shoulders, "No one uses a finger, or a shield, or a crossbow, or a gun on your precious brother."

Thor despised his mocking tone, but nodded in acceptance, "Now. Can we get down to the more important situation at hand?"

Please, Loki thought to himself.

~oOo~

Adeline remembered well.She always remembered, even when she didn't need to.That's the thing about an observant mind and unbeatable memories.The good ones stay for a while, but the bad ones never leave.

And suddenly, all her memories were merging together.

Her mother was staring down at the thread, it's red hue like a puddle of blood in her hands; her uncle flew inside the small house she went so many years living in; her little baby brother simply lost in an air of blankness; the words "Your father is dead".

Loki in her arms entirely unconscious as she panicked, gripping at the chains refusing to release his every functioning limb. Her hands red and swollen, blistering and burning with every frantic, uncoordinated action. The panic of loss, grief, abandonment all settling in again.

And then just like that, her mind flashed between the heart-warming images of Loki smiling at her from behind the glass, comparing her sneakily to a babysitter, eyes gleaming in peace. His slanted posture, holding a book ever so firmly. Watching as Adeline went about her duty, utterly marveling over ever little movement, every little word shared.

Then Loki was caressing her fair skin, fingers trailing along her jaw bone. Lips moving closer, closer, closer. And then surrealism.

Serenity.Perfection.Paradise.

Once again, ripped away, by confliction, contradiction, rivalry.Villainous defeat, deceit.This reality, this utterly terrifying reality.

This vicious composition of musical notes, some eerily high-pitched resulting in destruction, and others low, smooth, graceful, entirely gratifying.

Grief. Grief. Why couldn't she stop thinking about grief? Enough. Enough!Stages of grief. Stages of grief. No more, please. No more grief.

But that little voice didn't leave her alone.Torment: Adeline Crow deserves more grief, more pain, more loss, and more obstruction to corrupt her ignorance. Innocent ignorance.

She was an innocent, mindless little girl, ignorant of everyone else.Selfish not selfless. Mindless, clueless, effortless, pointless.Ignorant of her own self-destruction as she wallows in self-pity.Self-pity; a pitiful rage of pitiful words.

Just give up, Adeline Crow.Just give in.

Everyone would be better off without you corrupting their minds with your self-proclaimed importance, and fear of sacrificial embodiment.

And there they are, Adeline and Loki staring wistfully at a round little thing.Class, fake snow, an utterly pleasant landscape.A round globe, everything just a façade.But how could this little ball of fake snow and this little fake world be so content with itself?

It was all false, pretentious, yet the little thing was satisfied; got to live life with no worry, except one: one utterly constant worry, to not be broken.Adeline was nearing that. One more spark of desperate grief, and there she would go. Tumbling to the ground, carelessly and entirely unaffected, as she prepared herself to reach the bottom, prepared herself to hit the ground with a silent crash and shatter into a million pieces.

That's all she would be.A broken snow globe.

All her fake snow and surreal happiness brushed into a dustpan, and tossed into the garbage.

Not again.She couldn't do it not again.

When he father had died, the globe had cracked, ever so slightly, then she met Loki and she'd forgotten about the crack, and now she was in the same position as before. The crack was stretching, growing in its length, each tiny detail in every tiny line of crumbling class reaching its inevitable end.

And she just sat through it.

Just like she sat through every whip of the tail behind her; piercing her back, cracking it like the snow globe did in her thoughts.

Effortlessly, it cracked.So simple.So easy.

And then each drop of blood trailing down the lumps of her spine, the red crimson staining her pale skin and burning more than the fire inside her, was the snow melting.

That fake snow.That fake snow that no one thought could melt because it was all false, a mere façade.No. It still melted, and it…was…agonizing.

But she tried. She tried so very hard to ignore the continuous cackling from behind her; the snapping of each prospering shattered line.

But it was a consistent, SNAP! WHAP! SLAP!

Each lunge forward worst than the last.And the crack enjoyed it.The crack shattering her tiny glob enjoyed it.Enjoyed the pain, the torment, the torture.

And when it finally ended, that small crack – from previous grief, loss, abandonment – had double in size.

~oOo~

"That's your plan?" Stark scoffed, shaking his head incredulously, "We just march into this 'Drengrheim' and kick them to the curb?"

Thor narrowed his eyes, shaking his head in confusion, "I don't understand."

Rogers raised an innocent finger, "I do."Everyone turned to him, apart from Loki who frankly didn't care, and he only shrugged carelessly, "I understood that reference."

Thor then rolled his eyes, and sighed, looking more pointedly at Romanoff and Barton, seemingly desperate for their aide."My brother and I are convinced their threat of war is merely a façade to scare us silly."

Tony arched a brow at Thor's choice of words, and then merely urged him to continue.

"We can take them. The six of us? Plus the Warriors Three, and Sif?" Thor grinned proudly, "We are a force to be reckoned with."

Romanoff nodded, "So what then?"

Thor cocked his head to the sight in questioning.

Natasha let out a sigh, "We manage to get into Drengrheim, break down the doors of their leader's castle, and then?"

Tony snorted, "We attack, obviously."

Loki's voice suddenly sounded out of the ongoing conversation, and every head whirled his way."Adeline Crow is our main priority. We find her before we do anything."

Stark jolted back in disregard, "I'm not taking orders from lover boy here!"

Thor bobbed his head up and down in approval anyways, ignoring Stark's snide comment, "My brother is right."

Thor cleared his throat and went on, "Then, if we are not immediately bombarded with an army, I will speak with the Tieflings on whether or not they decide to surrender or simply die by our hands."

His statement was so easily spoken that it immediately enraged Loki far more than he felt comfortable with.

"You'll do no such thing." The Frost Giant snapped, and Thor's eyes widened in confusion and surprise.

He got to his feet, and faced the 'Avengers' with a smug, rather villainous grin – mischievous and wickedly angry.

"We will get there. I will find Adeline, and you will kill the Tieflings. I am offering no second chances."His eyes doubled in ferocity, and turned completely colorless, "We spare no one."

A/N: PLEASE REVIEW :3 love you all. *hugs again*

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