Coming Home

Chapter 10

They laugh at his pain – that’s all they ever did. He wasn’t surprised, though. Why else would they take him and hurt him and rip him to pieces? They wanted this, enjoyed this, wanted to see him scream, wanting to hear his cries and pleas and the ridiculous bargains he begged for. Hurting him was their enjoyment and they did it well.

A rally had formed, surrounded him and the five that were always with him, laughing and screaming, calling for more blood, shouting for more torment. But it seemed as though they had other plans, because they untied him, pulled the ropes that had embedded themselves in his flesh from him, removed the gagged that they’d forced in his mouth. They threw him to the ground and he didn’t even try to hide how difficult it was for him to pull himself to his knees, because … well, why? If it didn’t seem like he was hurt then they would make him hurt. It was as simple as that.

A creature had stepped forward, the crowd parting and cheering all the more and he vomited, threw up bile until there wasn’t anything else left in his stomach to expel. He gasped for air and scurried back, tears falling down his face, because he knew him, knew what and who he was, what he would do to him. Those bright eyes and that purple face … he was only myth, only legend, only something that came centuries upon centuries upon centuries ago to take over the Nine and he failed and he was back and –

“Are you ready, fallen Prince?”

Loki could hear their voices – could hear the worry and the panic and the tears and the heart-ache in their pleading voices – but none of them made any sense. He could recognise who was speaking, who was crying, who was calling for help. He could distinguish who was holding him – dark brown eyes, Sif, Sif, Sif – and who was petting his hair, cupping his face, tapping his cheeks, trying to get him to look at them, to see them, to know that he was okay, that he was fine, that he was safe, but he couldn’t. It was as though his entire body froze, leaving him paralysed. His mind, too, for he could only hear them, feel them. His eyes were screwed up tight – the colours exploding all around him was evident enough to that – and his chest was heaving, but he had no control, had no way of letting them know that he could hear them, that he was there. It was as though he couldn’t catch his breath, as though he couldn’t breathe. The weight and pressure on his chest was too much to bear this time, too extreme, too heavy, and he was dizzy, light-headed, his head throbbing, and he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get the oxygen into his lungs. Was he dying? Was this what dying felt like? After all of the pain and the anguish and the torment, after all of the suffering that he was put through, was this dying?

But then their voices faded, their frantic calls to him morphing into something else, something darker. Their calls were morphing into something that promised pain, promised agony, promised more suffering and more anguish and grief. His shoulders shook, his entire body shook and trembled and quivered and he was falling back into the nightmares again, was slipping and –

His breath was coming out in short, panicked gasps, hands pushing him back, forcing him back into the little circle that they had him in, preventing him from running and hiding and disappearing like he wanted to so badly. The creature – the bringer of destruction and devastation, the one who wished to take the whole Nine – was staring down at him, smiling cruelly, as though he had found what he was looking for.

And then he was grabbed. With speed he had no idea the creature possessed, he soon found his upper arms grabbed, thick purple fingers pressing deeply into his skin, long jagged nails cutting into his already broken skin, drawing more blood. He whimpered and squirmed, awaiting the pain, awaiting the sharp blows and the shocking pierce of knives and rocks. But none of it came – not yet.

“You will be useful to me,” The creature spoke, voice deep and dark and –

“Loki! Loki, please open your eyes!”

“Brother, you are well, I give you my word!”

“Look at me! Please, I can’t lose you again! Please, look at me!”

“No … no, please leave me alone,” Loki cried, body spasming, body jerking from the hands that were around him, pushing back at their touches and their pets. “Please, just let me die, just –” He felt dizzy, felt like his entire world was thrown off. He didn’t know where he was or who was around him, didn’t know if he was alive or dead, if he was safe or if he was in danger. It felt like danger. If what he was feeling was any indication at all, he was in danger. Sweat covered his skin, breath ragged and erratic, and he couldn’t see, couldn’t calm down enough to think, to act. All he could do was scream and cry and swat at the hands that tried to restrain him, that tried to hold him down, because they would only hurt, would only make him bleed and gurgle on his own blood until he fell unconscious. And then it would start all over again until they had their fill.

There was movement all around him, voices that blurred together and made no sense in his ears. Loki shifted against the hard surface he was leaning against, the act taking more out of him than he thought possible. Then again, he was weak and he was pathetic and he broke far easier than the rest of his family. Despair bubbled to the surface and Loki did nothing to hide the sorrow that filled him, did nothing to hide the agony and the years and years and years of neglect and abandonment and anger and pain and he cried and let it all out, because there was no point in hiding it, in letting it fester inside of him, because it would be extracted anyway. They would make sure of that. They would make sure he begged and pleaded for death before they decimated him entirely, before they reduced him to the nothing he already knew himself to be.

A new set of hands were holding his face now, and Loki gave a strangled cry, one that was a combination of fear and of the sobs that were still wracking through his body, still making him shake and tremble. He shook his head and pushed the hands away, but then they grasped his wrists, the grip tight and firm, and Loki screamed out in fear, because they would restrain him now. They would get ropes or chains or vines – or all three – and they would wrap it around his body, would truss him up and leave him there to be hurt and wrecked, knowing that he couldn’t move, couldn’t run away –

He’d said no, had refused out of fear and out of a sense of loyalty that made no sense anymore.

They didn’t care about him, didn’t worry about where he was or what was happening to him. They didn’t care if he came back or not. But it still hurt to think about, still ripped into his heart and twisted things around, the pain sharp and gut-wrenching and he had to stay loyal, because maybe they would take him back and love him again – or at least pretend to love him again.

The creature with the piercing eyes and the purple face – bringer of destruction and devastation – was still holding him, staring at him with an expression that he couldn’t even decipher. But he knew pain would soon follow. And it did.

Thrown to the ground, a heavy foot landed on his back, cracking and breaking ribs, his lungs protesting as he screamed and squirmed, trying to ease the pain, trying to get pressure off of the bones that had snapped and had broken through the skin. He couldn’t, though. The pressure on his back, the weight, it was holding him down, and he could feel fresh tears falling down his face at the agony that was ripping through his body, spasming and throbbing and blinding his vision.

They laughed at his pain, laughed at the anguish that was written all over his face. They grabbed his arms and pulled. They pulled until his arms were mere inches from being pulled completely out of the sockets, and then they started to beat the area with rocks. Skin was shredded and they twisted and jerked at his wrists and they broke his arms and then … then they yanked his arms completely out of the sockets. They laughed at the pain and pressed his head into the dirty ground, muffling off the screams, making him swallow and choke on the dirt and the grime that covered the ground. They moved to his legs and continued to break him –

He was crying. He had no idea when he had finally come out of the nightmare, when he finally became aware that he was safe, that he wasn’t in their hands anymore, that he wouldn’t get hurt and suffer for their enjoyment. One second he was reliving it and the next … in the next he was wrapped up in someone’s arms, warmth surrounding him and making him feel as though he was going to be all right. He blinked, trying to see past the tears that were shielding his wandering gaze, and then furrowed his brow as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. Before him was Thor – tears were falling down his face, eyes puffy and so bright and blue – and Frigga – pale face, expression as controlled and as calm as possible – and Sif – who had a hand to her mouth, eyes full of tears, body shaking. They were there and they hadn’t left him. The anger had long since drained from his body, being replaced by such a substantial amount of exhaustion that just the idea of sitting up on his own strained him. They were there and they hadn’t left him and Loki could feel his chest lessening slightly of the pressure that had built and built and built. But then his mind caught up with him, the paranoia and the fear dying down enough for another question to come to the forefront – whose arms was he in?

“Loki …” Sif whispered. She slowly got on her knees and reached out even slower, giving Loki enough time to see what she was doing and understand. Without thinking, he unlocked his stiff hand from whosever hand he was hanging onto and met hers halfway, squeezing it tightly. Tears trailing down her cheeks, Sif pressed a kiss to his hand, her hot breath feeling good against his shivering body. “Are you with me?” Loki heard her ask, her voice sounding both far away and close, and he forced himself to remain calm, forced himself to relax and to hear her. He nodded his head, the relief in her eyes enough to make him want to cry, because he had yet again caused her such pain. “You are home, Loki, please see that we won’t let anything more happen to you.”

“Enough,” A gentle, deep voice came. It was one that was familiar and immediate, one that shocked the life back into Loki, having him jerk up into a sitting position, though he wasn’t able to go far, for those hands locked around his wrists right away, that one eye remaining locked on him. “Enough,” He repeated, softer, quieter, as though it was only meant for Loki. And it was. An arm was wrapped around his waist and he was hoisted up by the AllFather, his strength old and powerful, enough to keep a grip on Loki, despite his fears. Soft words were spoken, but Loki didn’t hear what was being said, too lost in the shock that was the AllFather. He truly didn’t understand what was happening, why he was being so kind to him, why he wasn’t dragging him off to be showcased before the others, why he wasn’t ridiculed and humiliated and then thrown in the dungeons to serve off the remainder of his sentence. Instead, the AllFather led him down the hall, away from his brother and mother and Sif and away from the screaming Asgardians who were still waiting. Loki tried so many times to say something, to ask what was going on, where he was being taken, but no matter how hard he tired, he couldn’t speak, couldn’t get the words out. So he said nothing at all. He walked mutely alongside the AllFather and realised that they were heading towards his room.

He was put into bed. Emerald green eyes were wide still, unable to look away from the AllFather, unable to comprehend what he was doing or why he was even doing it, but he said nothing and he did nothing as the AllFather rid him of his shoes, pulled the armour from his body, leaving him in only a tunic, the pair of trousers that he was in, and socks. And then the AllFather was sitting down alongside Loki, his arms wrapping him up and pulling him against his broad chest. “No, please,” Loki whimpered, his hands pushing on the AllFather’s arms, a wave of panic washing over him once more, but he was shushed and held gently, his grip strong, but so undemanding, and it stilled Loki’s movements, though his body remained tense and stiff, as though he didn’t understand what was going on. And he truly didn’t, though who would believe a liar?

“I am so sorry, my son,” He said and the tone of his voice was so unlike anything Loki had ever heard coming from such a strong figure that it gave him pause, made his brows furrow and his mind to frantically search for what was missing. “I never meant to hurt you. That was never my intent, Loki, you must believe me,” His body stiffened even more then, because that was the reason for this, for the pity. Pushing himself away from the AllFather, Loki pulled his knees to his chest and hid his face, because he couldn’t handle it, couldn’t deal with the pity and the hurt looks and the fragility that they thought of him as. He couldn’t handle any of it.

“Leave me be,” Loki found himself saying, shaking his head and jerking away when a hand landed on his arm, because he didn’t want it, didn’t want the pity, didn’t want the skittish looks and the hesitant movements. It was impossible for things to go back to the way that they once were, but Loki could still hope for them, could still pretend as though everything would get better soon enough.

“I will never leave you again.”

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