“How are you feeling today?” Her voice was soft and gentle with a hint of amusement, as though she knew that he was awake and didn’t want anyone to know. But she was his mother and she knew his tricks, knew his ploys when it came to harmlessly deceiving those around him. Of course, that would be all that she knew of. Loki shuddered at the thought of her knowing anything else, of uncovering just how much of a bad person he was. It would break her heart in more ways than one, and the thought caused his own heart to ache, a pressure weighing down on his chest, threatening to choke him, but this time, Loki did not panic, because he deserved it after all that he had done, after all of the pain and all of the suffering that he had put others through just to make himself feel better about the horror of a truth he had discovered – that he was a monster that parents told their children about at night. Squeezing his eyes shut, swallowing past the lump in his throat, Loki curled up, wanting more than anything to slip into that place of neutrality, into that place where he felt nothing. He would need Thor for that and, with the way that he was feeling – cold and heavy – Loki knew that he wasn’t there, that he had left, and he tried not to take it personally, tried not to take it as though he didn’t want to be around him anymore, that he had better things that he could be doing with his time. “My love, you must open your eyes now.”
Loki didn’t say anything nor did he open his eyes. What was the point? His body ached still and he knew that it would be quite some time before he felt like his old self – physically, anyway, because Loki knew that he would never be the same mentally or emotionally. Too much had happened. All he wanted to do was remain in bed, to forget and be forgotten, to linger in a place where he knew he’d be safe and looked after, because despite how much Loki hated to admit it, that was all he wanted at the moment. He knew that mother would watch over him and he knew – he hoped – that Thor would be there to chase off the horrors that continued to plague his mind and haunt his dreams. So, burying his face into the pillow his head was currently cushioned on and pulling the blankets and furs further up his body, Loki shook his head and curled into a tight ball. “Not today, mother,” He murmured, hoping that she would take the hint and let him be, hoping that she could see that he was in no condition or mood to leave.
He heard her sigh quietly, heard her put down whatever it was that she was holding, and move towards the bed, and he hoped that she wouldn’t make a huge deal of this, wouldn’t pressure him and push him. He swallowed thickly when she gently took his hand, her soft hands folding over his, holding it closely. Loki didn’t know if she was using magic or if it was just her, but the warmth that spread through his body was enough to help him relax some, to ease the tension throughout his entire body. Releasing a sigh of his own, Loki opened his eyes and stared up at her, tears brimming at the edge, threatening to fall. Loki didn’t question it, though, and neither did Frigga. Tears were a constant, something that either happened or didn’t. It was hard for Loki to control any aspect of his life now that he had returned to Asgard, and he was just tired of trying to fight it, tired of trying to figure out how to stop his body from failing him. “My love, I need you to get up today,” Frigga whispered, leaning down and pressing a kiss to his hand. Her voice was steady this time, with no trace of hesitation. Her voice was firm and Loki knew that there must be a reason, otherwise, she wouldn’t push it, wouldn’t make him leave whatever little sanctuary he found underneath those blankets.
“Why?” He asked. He tried to ignore the shaking of his own voice, tried to ignore the way a few tears slipped at how vulnerable he sounded. And he hated that. Before, no-one would associate Loki with crying, with showing such weakness before others, but now … now it was a miracle if he made it through the day without a tear falling down his cheek. Of course, it was just a reminder of how broken he was, of how damaged and ruined he truly was now. So he stared up at his mother and fought the wave of emotion that was starting to build and build and build. There was no use for tears now, no use for emotion. There was no need to feel dread increasing and intensifying at the mere thought of leaving the bed, no need to want to bury deeper under the blankets and wish he’d just disappear.
She brushed a hand through his hair and his eyes fell closed at the contact. She and Thor were the only ones that he could allow being so close to him, the only ones that he could trust enough to close his eyes and not fear betrayal and pain. Her hands felt like warm feathers ghosting over his skin, and Loki found himself leaning into the touch, his entire body moving towards his mother. She was compassion and she was love and she would tend to him and make him feel as though he could heal and – possibly, one day – be whole again. But those warm hands soon disappeared, his hand falling to his side when she let it go. His eyes opened wide and he watched her move about his room, cleaning and tidying up, even though the room was spotless, everything exactly where it should be. “Your father’s sleep has ended, my son. Asgard must know their second Prince has returned to us.”
Loki opened his mouth to speak, but no words came to him. He slowly – because that was the only way he could do anything for his bones were too fragile and too shaken for anything faster – pulled himself into a sitting position, his eyes following his mother about the room. She said nothing more and she didn’t look back at him, to gage his reaction or to see how he was taking the news. He should have been grateful for the privacy that she was giving him, but Loki found that he was … angry … that he was angry and afraid and the centuries upon centuries of resentment were crashing down all around him, filling him with the bitterness and the abandonment that he had felt his entire life. And he was angry that he was feeling that way, angry that the mere look of his mother made him feel as though she was trying to make up for what the AllFather – not my father, never my father – neglected him for so long. She never took sides, always comforted him when he was feeling alone and that also sent waves upon waves of pain slamming into him, because she could never feel his heart-ache. Tears built up until they fell from his eyes, his legs working to support him as he climbed out of the bed and made his way to the wash-room, because this was all pity. She pitied him, because of what happened to him. They all pitied him, because he was never Thor. And now the AllFather wished to showcase his return, as though he was the one who saved him, as though he cared. And to show that compassion, that concern, he was addressing the people instead of coming to him, to see for himself if Loki was all right. Instead of checking on him and acting like the father he always claimed to be, he was showing off the return of his stolen relic.
Frigga did or said nothing when he trashed the wash-room and did or said nothing when she quietly came into the room and cleaned up the mess, leaving behind clothes that matched the occasion. Loki silently dared her to say something, to address his still falling tears, to say something about how he lost control – though he had never had it to begin with – and destroyed the small room. She didn’t say anything, and Loki didn’t know if that angered him or relieved him, because he didn’t want to have to explain the reasoning behind his outburst, didn’t want to have to explain why he was crying, why his chest was heaving, as though he had a scream on his lips, bubbling in his throat, just waiting to be released. He didn’t know if that angered him or relieved him, because she wasn’t saying anything, because she wasn’t consoling him or even looking at him, wasn’t even questioning the reasons for his tears or the reasons for him trashing the wash-room. She cleaned, left him his clothes, and silently went back into the main room, knowing that he would dress and come out and follow her to wherever it was the AllFather wished for him to be. And after several minutes of trying to pull himself together – and failing – after several minutes of him wiping the tears from his face and trying to calm the racing of his heart, the trembling of his limbs, Loki did dress and he did slowly come out of the wash-room. He did follow her out of his room, did follow her down the hallway, and she kept her pace slow, but also ahead of him, as though she knew that he would want to be alone, would want to think.
And that was another thing that was tearing him apart, because she wasn’t giving him time to think, time to reason what was happening, time to even prepare himself for having to face the AllFather after what happened the last time they were in the same room together. He could still feel the pain, could still remember how the AllFather had placed his hand upon his head and took, took, took from him, stealing his memories, stealing his nightmares. What was the purpose of that, because it surely wasn’t just to uncover the truth for why he did what he did on Midgard? It was no mystery that they never got along, no mystery that the AllFather had always favoured his heir more so than Loki. Was that the purpose – to take his memories, his thoughts, and use them against him? The list of what the AllFather could do with his thoughts and memories were endless, and Loki had no idea that he had stopped walking until Frigga’s face came into view, until her worried, almost frightened eyes came into focus. She was saying something to him, but Loki merely shook his head, not even bothering to decipher her words, which sounded too far away. He merely shook his head and continued walking, his entire body aching and throbbing and his head swimming with so many frantic, panicked thoughts that Loki didn’t even hear Thor approach him until he placed a hand on his shoulder, and that wasn’t warning enough for Loki gasped, his heart leaping wildly in his throat as he tore himself away, pressing himself against the wall, his eyes wide, shining brightly with fear and panic, heart hammering wildly in his chest, so loudly that he was sure that they could hear it from where they were standing so close to him.
“Loki, brother, I –” Thor started, and Loki could see that he instantly regretted his actions, regretted not getting his attention before startling him, but he was too angry, too irate and shocked and furious. Loki didn’t give Thor the chance to finish what he was going to say, didn’t give him the chance to apologise before he was pushing off of the wall and pressing his hands against Thor’s massive chest, shoving him back as hard as he possibly could. And though Thor didn’t go far at all – a step back, maybe, but that was it – he looked hurt by Loki’s actions, looked hurt that he would push him away.
“Don’t ever do that to me again, Thor!” Loki shouted, his chest heaving and heaving and his fists clenched into tight balls at his sides and he could hear the roaring of the Asgardians from the opened windows, but he gave them no mind, because Thor had scared him, had shocked him so greatly and that wasn’t supposed to happen, because he was supposed to be warmth and comfort – saviour, beacon, brother, brother, brother. But he was confused and he was angry – so angry – and he had little patience for Thor’s apologies, for his pleas for forgiveness. They had no idea what he had been through, had no idea what they did to him. And he voiced that, screamed that in their faces, his outburst startling Frigga and shocking Thor into silence. From the corner of his eye, he could see Sif slowly walking towards him, though she stopped several paces back, not wanting to get in between them, not wanting to anger Loki further. He paid her no mind, though. His anger was fuelled and directed at his family. “You know you can’t do that to me, you stupid oaf!”
“Please, Loki, I did not mean to!” Thor exclaimed, and he took a tentative step towards him, but immediately stopped when Loki took a step back, another wave of anger crashing down around him, because he couldn’t even stand up to Thor, couldn’t even handle confrontation why did he even start it why did he even snap they’ll ask questions they’ll want to know. “Please … I forgot –”
Snorting, trying his hardest to ignore the way a sob broke through, shaking his shoulders and causing his throat to ache painfully so, Loki gave a bitter laugh, shaking his head in disbelief. Of course, he would forget. Of course, he would push aside the pain and the suffering that Loki went through because it benefited him, because Thor didn’t like to think about anything happening to his perfect family, didn’t like to think that anything could possibly be wrong in his world. It was all about him, wasn’t it? “You forgot that they tore me apart? You forgot that they ripped me to pieces? You forgot that they tortured me and ruined me and broke me! You forgot that, Thor!” Loki screamed out, delirious in his anger, delirious in his panic and pain and he had no idea that he had closed the distance between them and was slamming his fists into Thor’s chest, against his face, against any part of his body that he could inflict pain.But then Thor was wrapping his arms around Loki and Loki felt as though his heart was going to just explode with how panicked he suddenly felt, with how he felt as though it was them wrapping their arms around him, ready to restrain him, ready to hurt him, ready to inflict more and more pain and suffering, making him beg and plead for mercy and then the screams of the Asgardians outside, awaiting the return of their second Prince, morphed into something darker, something that had yet to stop haunting him. Giving a strangled shout, cursing Thor to release him, Loki stumbled back against the wall and immediately sunk down it, his hands to his ears, trying his best to block out – trying to block it all out.