"How many times must I ask my guests to bow? Is it not customary to bow to your ruler?"
As he walked into the icy throne room, Loki’s voice was reflected its low temperature. My throne room.
He mentally reminded himself with a smile.
He stood before his throne, looking down at the trio of prisoners his guards had brought in. There was the archer Clint Barton, better known as Hawkeye; S.H.I.E.L.D agent Rebecca Coulson, daughter of a man that Loki had thought he had killed himself and much to Loki’s surprise: the god of thunder himself. Thor
Loki couldn’t help but grin at that, even if his guards had to force the trio to their knees.
"Even those human usurpers of your thrones were shown the proper respect and were bowed before, were they not? So why don't you just make it easier for yourselves and follow in their footsteps?"
He sat down on his icy throne and leaned against its tall back; a smirk on his face as he watched the three prisoners. He kept his eyes on them for a moment before moulding the smirk into a more curious expression.
"Tell me, who was it that managed to catch not just the daughter of the famous agent Coulson, but also the archer and my dear brother
Thor? I shall have to reward them greatly." He asked with a chuckle. He knew exactly what had happened, but felt the need to ask anyway because he knew it would wind them up. He loved testing people, deliberately pushing at people’s buttons and watching their reactions, seeing how long it took for them to snap.
Years had passed since the event that had been labelled as ‘the New York incident’ and Loki had returned to Earth, or Midgard as he knew it; not with an army this time, but alone.
He had snuck in the ‘back door’, appearing briefly to mock agent Coulson after learning he was alive, before seemingly disappearing again. He’d begun his plans in secret, slowly bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D one agent at a time until the agency had crumbled and those remaining had fled or went underground. Once they were out of the way, the world of superheroes fell into chaos, arguing with each other or falling to other villains, or simply just leaving the situation alone, hoping Thor would fix it once they learned Loki was the cause.
By then, it had been too late and all Thor could do was join the rebellion.
Now here he was, along with two of Loki’s biggest problems; some of those who had been actively rebelling against Loki’s takeover.
His cold eyes met Rebecca’s. She had a defiant look about her as he stood over them. It reminded him suddenly of Coulson himself and Loki found himself wondering briefly where the man was. Loki figured the two would have stuck together, but it seemed he was wrong, unless he was simply back at the rebellion’s hideout.
Loki watched as her eyes briefly focused on one of his guards that stood by the throne. He knew exactly which guard it was, simply by watching as her eyes flashed with anger before she finally spoke to him.
"I promised myself that I would never, ever
bow to you. You're a coward." The room was beautiful but it was also cold, something that Rebecca could tell echoed the looks of their captor.
Loki went to respond to her, but instead took a step back as his question about their capture was suddenly answered. It wasn’t Rebecca who spoke however, her expression changed for a moment, irritation briefly showing before she hid it.
"You know damn well how we got here! You took over my Tasha's mind and turned her into something she's not!" He didn’t have to look to know it was Clint who had spoken. He’s the only one who’d refer to Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, in such a way. Besides, having spent so many years alongside Thor, Loki knew the thunder god’s voice when he heard it.
"It is ridiculous how many of you insist I am so, when in fact, I am not." Loki replied with a shake of his head, getting up from his throne to start pacing. "I believe to be a 'coward', I must first fear doing or enduring unpleasant or dangerous things. From where I am standing, that does not appear to be the case. Do you know nothing
of my history dear Rebecca? I have endured far worse than anything you could have. I
have died before for a start."
He paused at Clint's words, remaining still for a moment before he grinned. The grin was not a happy one, like one that in the past would often have been seen on Thor's face, but one that showed pleasure; one that hinted
that there was a kind of madness hidden within him.
"Whatever do you mean Hawkeye
?" He asked, his voice perfectly calm, using Clint's codename mockingly. "I only helped her return to what she was before S.H.I.E.L.D 'fixed' her. You of all people should be aware of her past as a killer, as a pawn for the highest bidder..." He added, glancing over his shoulder to watch the archer's reaction.
Clint attempted to stand and was forced back to his knees by the Frost Giant guards on either side of him. He wanted to hurt Loki, kill him for insinuating something so terrible about his Natasha. Yes, once upon a time the Black Widow had been an assassin; a spy in the service of the bad guys who wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty for whoever needed her. But the look in Natasha's eyes as she had taken Clint and the others down and captured them, was not the look that his
Natasha gave. Clint knew what that look was. That was the look that one had after Loki had mind controlled them. "You didn't fix her you little bastard, you hurt
The words about being a coward had bothered Rebecca as she listened; her eyes never leaving the so-called ‘god’. "Cowards fear more than the unpleasant Loki. For starters, cowards fear those that they know have more power than they do. The reason you took over Earth and not Asgard was because you fear Thor and Odin. You fear that you will never be as good as either one of them. And you know what? You're right. You will never be even half the man that Thor is."
"I do not wish to be a 'man' like Thor!" Loki suddenly snapped before spinning around to face Rebecca, hands clenching into fists. His emotions, as they always had, were able to change in an instant, at the slightest provocations. He could go from laughing happily to having a temper tantrum similar to that of a young child in a matter of seconds; occasionally even with the tears. If anyone ever took him to some sort of counsellor, he'd likely be diagnosed with some form of 'mental illness' as he'd heard humans call things in the past.
Barely a few seconds had passed before his expression softened again, before he was back to the usual cold personality people saw. "Why would I possibly
want to lower myself to a mere mortal?" He asked icily before turning his gaze on Clint, shaking his head at the archer's outburst as if he hadn't just done the same. "Why would I want to be something so breakable, so... weak
?" He added the last part just to wind Clint up more, smirking as he watched him.
"You know; It's a pity because your brother is a good man," Rebecca growled, glancing from the defeated Thor to the man who stood above them, by his throne he made himself.
As Rebecca watched him, she couldn’t help but wonder: Where was Tony Stark to help them? Or even Captain America?
They were stuck in this jam and they had to get themselves out of it.
"Thor cares about his subjects; he cares about what happens to the people in his realm. Look what you've done to ‘Midgard’ in just a matter of days. We had beautiful cities, beautiful libraries and places. You and your men have destroyed it!"
Clint seethed as he listened to the exchange, his hatred for Loki growing every time the self-proclaimed god opened his mouth. "You're too weak to do your own fighting. You couldn't capture us on your own; you couldn't take down your own brother yourself. Hell, Rebecca and I are those Midgardian's you always say are so weak and you couldn't stop us, but Tasha could!"
"Clint..." Rebecca warned him; worried about what would happen if Loki was pushed too far. She’d heard how unstable he could be and they’d seen hints of it already. She wasn’t really too keen to find out just how bad his temper could get.
But it was too late; Clint was beyond angry and let it slip; the words Rebecca had feared would come out. "And guess what? Phil Coulson's still alive
"Clint!" Rebecca groaned, wishing more than ever that she could slap the archer for making such a mistake.
"He is not
a good man!" Loki shouted, stomping a foot on the icy floor. His emotions seemed to snap back and forth depending on who it was he was speaking to; as if Rebecca and Clint were talking to different people entirely. "He
abandoned those who needed him at the words of a woman who thinks herself a warrior! He
sided with a bully in place of doing anything to stop their cruel taunting!" Tears shined in his eyes for a moment before Loki hid the pain and quickly blinked to clear them away, quickly switching back to his oddly polite demeanour. "And we have not
destroyed this place. This building is the only one I have changed."
He then glared at Clint, towering over the kneeling prisoners from the icy platform his throne was on. Hesitating for a moment, Loki glanced at the guards, only stepping down to their level once he felt sure the prisoners weren't going to escape.
"I'm too weak am I Barton
? Who was it that brought down S.H.I.E.L.D? On. Their. Own. Why do you think your precious 'Tasha' was strong enough to take down you two agents and Thor
?" He leaned forward so that he was closer to Clint's eye-level.
The three prisoners grew quiet as their captor approached them. Fear ran through Rebecca's mind. What was going to happen to them? What was in store for them when they were to be dealt with? She watched Loki lean down to be eye level with him and took a deep breath
"It was me
Barton who brought them all down one by one. It was me
who lent some of my powers to agent Romanoff so she could capture Thor. ME
At the mention of Coulson, Loki did not look all that surprised; he merely raised an eyebrow and chuckled. "Oh I know
he is Barton. I spoke to agent Coulson myself before starting all of this. Did he not tell you?" It had actually been a while before starting his attack, years even, when Loki had returned briefly with his new plan to take over Earth after being stopped the first time. He had even come close to succeeding before Coulson had caught on and stopped him. His point was though, that he had still seen the agent, who apparently hadn't ever mentioned it to the others.
There was something deep down that Rebecca sensed made Loki speak of Thor in such a matter. Before she could respond to it all however, Thor spoke; the first time he’d done so since they were captured.
"Loki...I knew not what I was doing when we were younger. I thought of nothing but my own foolish gain but you needed my friendship and I understand that now. I understand that I let you down brother. Sif was a woman whom I thought I loved. She should have never come before you brother. Never…"
"Be quiet." Was all Loki said in response to Thor, trying his best to keep any emotion from leaking into the words. It didn't quite work though; at first the words sounded cold, but those listening carefully would be able to notice that he ended up sounding more like a child about to burst into tears than a king.
"None of you realise just how powerful your new king can be." He said as he stood in front of Clint, speaking slower than normal, both to make sure they listened and to regain control of his emotions. "Thor has seen it, but denies it as he does all the times his 'brother' has helped him over the years. I can
capture Thor; it is not all that difficult. He proved that himself, in the jar they built for the green monster...on the ship you
helped me destroy." His smirk returned, only to suddenly disappear again as Clint spat on him. Instead Loki froze; a surprised look on his face. He stayed like that for a moment before slowly reaching a hand up to wipe his face, faking amusement as he did so.
"You may think
you are strong. You may think you've won but you won't, you won't win. You couldn't even capture your brother on your own! You failed and had to have someone do your dirty work for you, just like last time." Clint growled.
Just as suddenly as Clint had spat on him; Loki snapped.
"You may be powerful but you are still a coward. The sooner you rid the world of us the sooner-CLINT!" As Clint was grabbed by the throat, Rebecca felt real fear. There was a real hatred in his eyes that was usually only saved for Asgardians like Odin and Sif and Rebecca was afraid that Loki was going to kill her friends. Yes, it had occurred to her that Loki may kill them but being shown it was a different story entirely. Clint clawed at Loki's hand, choking as he tried to get an answer out, only managing to sputter out Tasha's name.
spit on your king? Has no one taught you such actions would lead a man to his death?!" Loki hissed.
"Stop it Loki! Stop it!" Rebecca screamed.
“You couldn't even capture your brother on your own… You- You failed… and had to have someone do your dirty work for you. Jus-just like last time…" Clint managed to get out, struggling for breath.
Loki ignored Rebecca's pleading as he focused his anger on Clint, accidentally tapping into powers he tried his best to avoid ever using; his hand gripping Clint's throat turning blue as he unwillingly brought out his Jotun Frost Giant side. It didn't really help that his throne room was decorated in a way similar to the one in Jotunheim. He'd wanted it that way because the ice was cold and intimidating and figured it was appropriate for his rule. Loki hadn't decorated it himself though; he’d made some of his Frost Giant guards do it for him.
Clint couldn't breathe. It felt like a glacier was crushing his windpipe and when he looked down, he realized why. Loki was part Jotun. Loki had the blood of the Ice Giants coursing through his already cold veins and heart.
It took him a moment to realise what was happening, Loki jumping slightly before quickly letting Clint go, staring at his blue hand for a moment before crossing his arms to try and hide it.
Rebecca did her best to get over to Clint, only being able to struggle against the guards. "If he's dead you bastard, you can make damn sure that I'll kill you when we get out of here." There was no doubt in her mind that they were going to get out. She planned to do whatever it took to free her friends before they found a way to call for any reinforcement.
Any other time Loki would have pointed out there was likely already a metaphorical line of people waiting to kill him, but right then he was more worried about the power he’d accidentally used.
"Take the prisoners to the cells." He said emotionlessly after a moment to the guards holding them and turned his back on the trio, stepping back up to his throne. He didn't sit though, instead remaining standing, his back to them. He stayed silent for a moment, but not having heard the guards take the trio away yet; he couldn’t resist the chance to gloat.
Though he still had his back to the prisoners, Loki rolled his eyes.
"I did no such thing you poor excuse for a Coulson. You'd know it if I'd killed him." He said before turning just enough to look at Rebecca. "I'm sure you would try telling me how I won't succeed, and then make a poor attempt at my life. Like your father did." He added with a grin. Even if Coulson had survived, he knew it would hurt her.
Those words really hurt Rebecca, leaving her struggling to keep tears from forming in her eyes. Her father had died, almost, when she was young and those thoughts still broke her heart. She had lost her mother at a young age and her biological father had abandoned her when she was born. With a deep breath she growled at him, "You're not even half the man that my father is. When he comes to save us...he'll kill you..."
Hearing Rebecca's words, Loki burst into almost insane sounding laughter. "Oh really? With what? That pathetic excuse of a weapon he used last time?" He shook his head, glancing at her with a dark look in his eyes. "Oh how I'd love to see him try. The agent who could not save himself... I dare say he'd come close, but fail once more."
Rebecca wasn't sure what hurt her more, the cruel words that left Loki's mouth or the fact that he was right.
"Make sure they are in separate cells." Loki said to the guards before turning away from them once more.
Memories plagued the agent’s mind, memories of how she had almost lost her father once, and she sunk to her knees as the guards dragged her, Clint, and Thor to the dungeons. Upon seeing them, she laughed; these were the rooms that she knew too well. She realised she had known where to find Loki because he had taken up residence in what was once Stark Tower.
Leaning against the wall of the cell, Rebecca muttered to herself, "Come soon pops...we need you..."