Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 25 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

'Thor is what?' Loki demanded.

Holda looked at him calmly. 'King. Temporarily. Odin has entered the Odinsleep, which was only to be expected at some point.'

'But, Thor,' Loki began and then realised he had no idea what he was saying about the situation. Except that even Thor had agreed he wasn't ready to be king in the end, and it was monstrously unfair. He stood up. 'I'm going to talk to him.'

'I'll send a message,' said Holda.

Loki glared at her. 'I don't need a message. I know where the throne room is.'

'You can talk to Thor in private,' said Holda. 'You cannot go and start a fight with him in front of his court.'

Thor's court. Of course. Loki clenched his fists. 'Send a message then. I want to see him now.'

The message returned that Thor would see him in an hour, in Loki's own quarters. Already he was being brushed aside. Yesterday, if he'd sent such a message, Thor would have come at once, glad his brother wanted to see him. Now Loki was secondary to other concerns. He paced, furiously, his handlers already in the room with him even though Thor wouldn't arrive for an hour, as if he might sneak away if they failed to watch him.

The rap at the door finally came, and Loki wrenched it open himself. Thor blinked at him, as if this were somehow a surprise. Even without Gungnir he looked nauseatingly regal. 'Hello, brother.'

Loki took a step back, settling into a balanced stance as if he was about to face a battle. 'Hello, my king,' he said, voice turning it into an insult. 'Perhaps your subject could make a request of you, if your time is not too valuable for that?'

Thor sighed. 'I came as soon as I reasonably could, Loki.'

'Busy with your adoring subjects?'

'I'd run through the list of what I've been doing, but I assume you remember that part.'

Loki jerked back and then steadied himself. Thor would have had help. People on his side. Thor had spent his whole life knowing he was going to get a throne someday. None of this was fair. He held up his hands. 'I want these bracelets off. I may have been Odin's prisoner, but I will not be yours'

Thor closed his eyes for a moment. 'Loki. I am sorry, but you know better.'

'No. I know that it's more convenient to have me powerless, to only deal with me when it pleases you.' The anger felt almost like elation, giving him energy. As long as he could hurt Thor he wasn't powerless. No, he had power, and he could make Thor give him what he wanted.

'I have dealt with you only when it pleased you since your return,' said Thor. The pained crease between his eyebrows had smoothed out, and now he only looked sorrowful. 'Which was seldom. I look forward to the day you have your magic back, but it cannot be now.'

'And now you talk like a King, laying down the law. What happened to not being ready?'

'I will gladly step down again when our father wakes.'

Loki turned away, pacing across the room, stopping to turn back with his hand on a chair, movements jittery. Thor was being impossible. There was no arguing with him like this. He grabbed one of the bracelets, wrenching it hard enough to bruise the skin beneath it, watching redness well up in a crescent around the underside of his wrist as he let go.

Thor took a breath - then shut his teeth on it and didn't speak.

Loki looked at him, fingers still hooked around the bracelet, challenging. Birla cleared her throat nearby, which probably translated as stop hurting yourself or we're going to have to put you to sleep and he shot her the most cutting look he could muster before letting go of it.

Thor shot her a grateful one. 'If you are fearing for Asgard again, Loki, I can vow to tell you before I do anything rash.'

'I don't care about Asgard!' Loki shouted, and then felt like he'd swallowed a rock. Because it wasn't true, but it had felt true. He hadn't thought about saying it, it had just come out. The ground was a little blurry, he was not going to cry in front of Thor, didn't dare look at Thor.

'Loki, that's-' Thor stopped, as if he didn't know what to say, or couldn't bring himself to say it.

Loki dashed a hand across his eyes - stupid, obvious, but better than leaving the tears there - and glared at Thor. He didn't know what he'd meant, whether he'd meant anything beyond the fact that he hadn't been thinking of Asgard right then, just of himself. But he wasn't going to back down. 'Why should I? The only reason I'm not cast out is because I can't be trusted on another world. I'm bound and made less than Asgardian no less than if I were an exile, and no one has left a way for me to prove I can be worthy again.'

Thor took a half step toward him; Loki flinched, unable to help himself, and Thor stopped and looked frustrated. 'That is not true,' Thor snapped. 'Everyone expects you to be free eventually. You are not exiled because that would teach you nothing, or at least nothing good - do you think Odin couldn't have bound you so that a prison on Earth would hold you, if he wished? You are here to heal. You are here because we want you to be.'

'Stop being so sure of yourself! What do you know of what Odin was thinking? What do you know of anything?' He shook his head. 'What if I don't heal? Am I to be left like this, lacking a sense and most of my abilities? You are King now, everything that happens to me is your fault.'

'You are healing. You are not being very reasonable right now, but you are healing.' Thor sighed. 'Unfortunately, anything you did if I freed you would really be my fault, and right now I have no idea what you'd do.'

'I could promise not to attack your beloved Midgard again.' It was a weak attempt at a retort, the anger was fading and with it Loki's energy. He felt lost, suddenly, standing in the middle of a room with his hand on a chair, one wrist throbbing with pain.How did I get here? Thor was being infuriating, and apparently immune to Loki's anger. Thor was solid, and enduring, and terrifyingly immune to anything Loki might do at all.

'Loki...' Thor stretched out a hand toward him, then let it fall, and for a moment instead of implacable his face seemed to be filled with a strange quiet despair. Loki blinked and it was gone. 'I do love you.'

'Why would you say that now?' Loki's words came out shaken and bewildered. What, exactly, in this conversation had led Thor to declare that?

That got a shrug, a small motion and awkward, strangely so when Thor had always seemed entirely at home in his body even when he was learning a new motion, or even when it was the wrong species. 'You seemed, perhaps, not to believe it. And it is true, even though I cannot give you what you ask.'

'You're King. You can do anything you please. Don't pretend it's impossible when the truth is that you won't.' The words were meant to be snapped. They were meant to hurt. And Loki still sounded young and scared in a way that he couldn't seem to help.

'I cannot do it justly, or responsibly,' Thor amended, looking so woeful that if it were anyone else Loki would have said it was exaggerated. Then, 'Although I am not actually sure I could remove the bonds if I tried. Odin does not release every authority when he sleeps.'

'I know that. You could break them with Mjolnir.' Just as Loki couldn't have undone Thor's banishment, but could have brought him back to Asgard instead of leaving him where he might be in danger.

Thor - bowed his head. 'And I will not.'

'I'm glad I told you Odin was dead! Because you know how it feels to believe there's no hope for you, even if in reality it took less than two days. At least for a while you thought it would be forever.' Ah, there was the anger. It seemed to help and make him feel sick at the same time.

'I would feel worse about having asked if I could come home, if not for that,' Thor said, his own temper answering if not as much as Loki hoped or feared. 'You're right, I did. But I don't believe it will be forever for you, either.'

'It will certainly not be a few days.' Loki slid his fingers under his bracelet half unconsciously, not to tug it this time but to stop it rubbing the bruise there.

'No,' Thor said with a sigh. 'It will not.'

'Things are always so much easier for you.' The words hovered between bitter and plaintive.

'I would ease them for you if I knew how.'

'Any way except by doing what I want?'

'I'm sorry, Loki.'

He was flagging again, what was wrong with, that was a foolish question. 'Leave then.'

Thor sighed, again, and gave him a sad smile. 'Goodbye, brother.'


Thor went. The King of Asgard went, at his word.

Somehow, it wasn't as satisfying as it sounded.

Loki slid to the floor, curling over with his head resting on the arm of the chair he had been standing beside, shivering. Birla's hand on his shoulder surprised him - his handlers were there to protect him, not befriend him, and they stuck to that.

'Come,' she said, gently. 'You look like you could use some sleep.'

He wondered whether she minded that he'd been trying to hurt Thor, whether she was allowed to have opinions of his behaviour. But he pulled himself to his feet without asking and let her lead him from the room.

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 25 of 37

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