Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 19 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

Loki caught his breath, startled by her abrupt flight. But even if pursuing her would help he couldn't make himself sprint down the Bifrost after her. Instead he turned to Heimdall, pointing one hand at the Gatekeeper. 'That wasn't normal, was it?' he demanded. 'You're meant to be observant!'

'It was not.' Heimdall looked grave and no longer quite impassive, but somewhat worried. 'I do not think she was responding solely to you.'

'Elves,' Loki hissed. They'd been everywhere, were known to play with the minds of mortals, and who else would it have been? He should have been there, he thought irrationally. If he'd been himself, had his magic, he would have been with the rest of Thor's friends and able to watch over her better than they could, although no doubt they had done their best.

'They never touched her,' Heimdall said neutrally. 'But that is not always necessary.'

Loki nodded and turned away slightly, thinking. He needed help; someone with the magic to cast counterspells, someone with the authority to act on suspicions of a prince's lover, someone willing to take him seriously when he was known to be mad. He wasn't sure anyone fit the third criteria, but when it came to the first two... 'I'm going to talk to Odin,' he said, firmly, to silence his own objections rather than anyone else's.

'Good,' said Heimdall.

Loki was somewhat startled at the approval, although logically it made sense that if Heimdall agreed something was wrong he'd agree Odin should be told. Maybe Heimdall could be the one to tell Odin? No. Loki was the one with the information this time. If Heimdall had been watching him and Jane closely enough to see the beginning of this he'd rather not know about it.

The trip back across the Bifrost was a familiar sort of awful, vertigo and confusion, although it was getting easier to push them into the back of his head and stay focused. As soon as the horse had been returned to the stable a messenger was sent to ask Odin if he would allow his son to meet him for an audience - the King's chambers were no longer automatically open to Loki. The answer was so swift Loki wondered if Odin had replied as soon as he heard who the message was from rather than listening to all of it, Loki was to meet him in the throne room as soon as pleased.

When he arrived, the throne room - familiar now from more directions, an oddly dizzying effect - felt eerily large and empty and intimate at once. Odin was there, of course. Frigga was as well, though she stood beside the throne with her fingers white-knuckled where they rested against it, poised as if she expected Loki to object to her presence. No one else was there waiting, and even the guards were gone.

'Loki,' Odin said quietly. 'My son.'

The simultaneous desire to shout that he was not Odin's son and to break down and beg forgiveness for not being able to live up to his expectations left Loki speechless and shaking for a moment. He was here for a purpose, though, and he forced himself into a state that at least resembled calm. 'I am approaching you as my King. As the only one who has the authority to act on what I suspect is an act of treachery by those who have claimed to be allies.'

Odin's eyebrows shot up, and his posture changed subtly in a way that left Loki obscurely relieved. 'State your concern.'

Loki stood up straighter. You are a warrior making a report. Be clear and concise, do not leave things out to spare your own feelings or those of others. Asgard depends on its King's knowledge. 'Jane Foster has been behaving strangely. After Thor left she was irritable, which could be attributed to missing him. I pressed her too hard to stay in a way that might well have made her angry, but was unlikely to make her look ill and flee. Afterwards she avoided me and, when I sought her out suspecting something was wrong, she spoke as if she were lying, looked as if she might have fainted and then fled me. None of this fits with her personality in the time I have known her. And she has been a mortal among elves.'

Odin studied him. 'You believe she's been ensorceled.'

'She has been unhappy these last days,' Frigga murmured. 'And I think she does not ordinarily flee a verbal quarrel.'

Odin nodded slightly, his eye still on Loki. 'I will send for her.' One of the ravens flew off, presumably to find one of the missing messengers or guards.

Loki looked back and forth between his parents, startled to a degree that was surprising in itself. Had he really thought this attempt to seek help for Jane so hopeless? But he hadn't expected them to listen to him so easily, to act on his suspicions as if he were a reliable source of information. It is the duty of a King to act on this sort of suspicion, if only to discredit it, he told himself. But it wasn't, really. Not if the source was suspect, or the King would have no time to do anything but chase rumours. Were they humouring him? No - telling Jane she was suspected of being enchanted was too serious for that, too likely to cause problems if she was only angry.

'Thank you,' he said, softly. It was not the appropriate response from a warrior to a King acting on his information.

'You know her,' Odin replied, almost as quietly. 'You know spellwork and the signs of it. And from long experience and her own recent testimony, your bias would be to assume she had turned against you, not to find excuses for it.'

The frank assessment of his personality took Loki off guard. It didn't sound like a judgement - and the fact that his immediate reaction was to wonder whether it was a judgement might prove it accurate. He bowed his head in acknowledgement and waited uneasily until the messenger arrived with Jane. She looked tired and a little disheveled, and Loki wondered disbelievingly if she'd fought the summons before he considered that she was probably merely windblown from running across the Bifrost.

When she saw him, she went pale and balked. The messenger looked down at the top of her head, puzzled, and propelled her into the throne room.

Loki took a step backwards, as if that would really make a difference considering the size of the throne room. It wasn't his place to speak to her now, but he watched closely.

Jane did not look well. She looked, again, like she might faint. She stood and walked taut, as if she might struggle or bolt if she thought it would do any good. Her eyes darted from one person to another, like a captured criminal instead of a frankly beloved guest, and yet - did she look less despairing than before?

Frigga touched Odin's arm lightly and then swept down past the throne to take Jane by the shoulders. 'Jane,' she said. 'Loki fears that something has been done to you, perhaps by one of our elven guests.' Jane looked up at her, wide-eyed, and raised her hands to grip Frigga's forearms.

With an apologetic glance toward Loki, Frigga added, 'I vow to you, if it be that you are yourself and in command of your own mind, that will not be changed by what we do. The counterspells to such workings are not comfortable, but they are harmless.'

Loki found himself smiling at her slightly, an assurance that he did understand that she wasn't insulting him with that. For a moment that smile felt like a betrayal of himself - she had lied to him as much as Odin had. But they were helping him now, helping Jane.

Frigga returned the smile, the tiniest bit, and there was relief in her eyes.

And then Odin extended his hand and spoke. Loki felt there ought to be something like a flash of light to his senses, but he couldn't see it. If he could, he might have done this himself. Although that might not have been wise. Then again, if he had his magic, presumably it would be because he had not done the things that gave Jane cause to distrust him.

He did feel the faint breeze that stirred Jane's hair. And he certainly saw her crumple - her face into tears, her knees weak - and Frigga hold her up for a moment before hugging her.

It was with a mixture of relief and horror - there had been something wrong, she didn't hate him, but what had she been going through for days? - that he took a tentative step towards them. He stopped, though, rather than interrupt the comfort Jane desperately needed, and simply waited nearby, wondering what she'd been enchanted for, what this meant for relations with Alfheim, whether Thor and Fandral were safe. All these things flashed through his mind while he watched the tear tracks on Jane's face, so angry with the elves it felt like being numb.

Jane turned her head, opened her eyes and blinked a few times before focusing on him. 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, thank you, I couldn't - oh God.' She broke off and gulped. Frigga peered down at her and gave Loki a thoughtful look, then carefully let Jane go and nudged her slightly in his direction.

Jane looked up at him, uncertain, and then apparently reached a decision and hugged him rather precipitously.

Loki stiffened in surprise for a moment before wrapping his arms around her and hugging her back, tightly. 'It is not your fault,' he said, firmly. 'I should have noticed sooner, acted sooner on my suspicions.'

'I didn't notice at first,' she said, a bit muffled. 'Only then he - Malekith - he tried to get me to kill you.'

Loki flinched, not at the thought of someone wanting him dead, he was almost used to that by this point, knowing there were people out there who would like to kill him, but at the thought of Jane doing it. He found himself hugging her tighter still, as if to protect both of them from the thought of it, and forced himself to ease up. 'But why?' he asked, thoughts running ahead of the question. What would have happened if she had succeeded? He was still a prince, she would have been branded a traitor. Would Thor have stepped in to protect her?

'I don't know! He sounded like he thought it was a game.' Jane was hugging him back, possibly as hard as she could. She sniffed. 'Earlier today he apparently decided Erik would be a good substitute, or maybe he was just saying that...'

Loki had never wanted his magic back so badly because if he had it he could go after Malekith. A few words to Sif, Volstagg and Hogun and the four of them would be ready to go, they could meet Thor and Fandral in Alfheim, even a short explanation would be enough. 'Either way, it's over now,' he said, the only comfort he could offer.

Jane swallowed hard. 'I really wasn't that mad at you for badmouthing SHIELD.'

He laughed. It wasn't really that funny, but he couldn't help it, relief bubbling out of him as laughter. 'I'm glad to hear it.'

'I'm still going home, though.' She sounded firm, if a bit watery. 'But, you know... even before I actually got here, Thor and I had talked about visiting more than once.'

'I won't argue. And I'll look forward to your visits.' He glanced over her head at Odin. What was going to happen now? They were unlikely to declare war on Alfheim when the elves could move easily between worlds and they didn't have the Bifrost, but surely this was not going to be ignored?

'This is a grievous development,' Odin said. 'I will send a message to Alfheim. Unfortunately, if it is not well received, retrieving Thor and Fandral would at this time present some challenges. The Bifrost repairs are not yet completed, and the tesseract is an option but not altogether ideal.'

Loki hesitated. He wondered what the elves would do with the tesseract, whether they would open it just to find out what it wanted to show them, whether that would be a bad thing if it fulfilled the tesseract's wishes for itself. Though, he reminded himself, that would not get Thor home and would leave him with no way to get home. 'I can get to Alfheim,' he said. 'With neither the tesseract nor the Bifrost. But not without magic.'

Odin gave him a long, thoughtful look. 'I will bear that possibility in mind.'

Loki was left wondering whether Odin was thinking about rebuking him, either for keeping his paths secret for so long or for wanting to have his magic when he lacked it for a reason. He felt his cheeks flushing slightly as he nodded acknowledgement.

'I would prefer that the elves return them voluntarily,' Odin added, a bit dryly. 'They do not all share Malekith's unfortunate sense of humour.'

'Yes,' Loki agreed. If he wasn't still holding Jane he would probably say something polite and withdraw now. But it seemed rude to assume she'd want to leave with him, and he didn't want to push her away either.

'But it's nice to know you could,' she said, sounding a little shaky still but less tearful.

Odin, rather to Loki's surprise, inclined his head and said, 'Yes.'

Loki looked at Odin again. He always found his father hard to read - perhaps he had read too much into Odin's seeming detachment, in assuming it indicated disapproval. He freed a hand from where it had been wrapped around Jane and rubbed at his forehead. 'I will help, if it is necessary,' he said. It felt like picking a way through the elf paths, talking to Odin now that the crisis was over. 'For now, I will return to my rooms if you will excuse me. And, if Jane wishes, return her to hers.'

Jane took an unsteady breath and let go of him, possibly with some reluctance, but she didn't move very far away.

Odin nodded. 'You are both free to depart, if you wish.' A pause. 'And Loki. Well done.'

Loki smiled, despite everything, unable to help the rush of happiness that came with winning Odin's approval. He bowed to first Odin and then Frigga and looked questioningly at Jane. Did she want to leave, or to remain here with Frigga for a while?

Jane gave him a rather wobbly smile and pulled herself together, then bowed as well - still something she clearly hadn't spent her life doing - and turned toward the door. 'Thank you,' she whispered. 'Again. I... couldn't figure out what to do.'

'You did very well,' Loki whispered back as they exited into the corridor. 'You fought. I owe you my life for that.'

Jane rubbed a hand over her face. 'Rationally speaking I'm pretty sure if I'd actually come at you with a knife, you could have stopped me. But I couldn't seem to think about that at the time.'

'True,' Loki answered. 'And, rationally speaking, I would have noticed something was wrong much sooner. I'm still grateful you fought.'

'I didn't want to hurt you. I didn't want to try.' She sighed and looked up at him again. I am - so glad you did notice. When I told you nothing was wrong, Malekith was taunting me about not being convincing, and all I could think was I hoped you wouldkeep being suspicious.'

He took her hand and squeezed it. 'He was right that you weren't very convincing. You and Thor are well matched when it comes to acting ability.'

Jane squeezed back and let out a rather rattled-sounding giggle. 'I'd like to think I'm better at it when I actually want to be... but... I'm not sure that's actually true.'

Loki smiled down at her, glad to have cheered her up a little. His handlers joined them a little way from the throne room, where they'd been waiting, and were rather puzzled by Jane's tearstained face as well as recognising the anger under Loki's apparent calm. He waited until Jane was in her room and they were on the way back to his to inform them of the situation, in terse, angry sentences. It worried them, he thought, but he didn't feel out of control although he couldn't answer for what he'd do if faced with an elf right now.

Once back in his rooms he dismissed them - they usually let him have privacy in his own suite since he couldn't leave it without permission - and then sat in front of the fire, staring at the red light on the ornate silver bracelets that, among other things, blocked his power.

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 19 of 37

<< Previous     Home     Next >>