Fault Lines and Detours
A one-shot: while investigating a variant, Loki and Mobius take a unexpected detour that brings back painful memories for the Asgardian prince.
Warning: unauthorized detour detected
Loki stepped out of the portal – more of a square shaped doorway really - and took a shuddering breath: the air here was thin and bitterly cold. It burned in his lungs and Loki was forced to inhale deeply.
Glacial ice covered nearly every surface and wind whipped sharply against spires of dark rock that jutted out from the ground. A yellow moon hung low in the atmosphere, providing little light to see by. Nearby shadows seemed to writhe, darting about, to and fro, before finally retreating to shelter in every crack and crevasse available.
It was a place Loki had not ever wished to return too.
Why are we here?” Loki snapped at Mobius. The annoying tva bureaucrat simply shrugged.
“You tell me.” Mobius said, jutting his chin forward. “You’re the one with the hand on the trigger.”
Loki looked down. His hands shook as he did so, but Mobius was right; he was holding the small device. Clutching it tightly as though his life depended on it, to be precise. Perhaps in some small way, it acted as an anchor, rooting him to the spot.
“I….I don’t know why we’re here.” Loki said. The lie came easily, as always. It was almost a comfort of sorts – the lie acting as a fallback. It became a veil of sorts between him and the world. And he was eager to wrap himself in it.
“You don’t?” Mobius asked. He wasn’t so willing to let Loki hide.
“No.” Loki’s voice hardened. It carried an edge this time, along with a warning: the tapestry was his to weave. It would be crafted under his jurisdiction, and he alone would decide which truths were to be discarded, and which lies were to be accepted into the loom. No one else.
Thankfully, Mobius stayed silent, giving Loki a few precious seconds to savor.
“So, Jotunheim, huh? Have to say, I’ve never been.” Mobius said casually, sticking his hands into his jacket pockets.
Loki clenched his jaw. Would the man ever shut up? It was in moments like these where Loki went from tolerating Mobius to truly loathing him; as of right now his presence was bordering on insufferable.
But he was company all the same.
“It’s not a pleasant place to be.” Loki growled. “I wouldn’t exactly vacation here.”
“Yeah, seems a bit chilly to be honest.” Mobius replied. His voice was calm. “So, why are we here Loki?”
“Because I couldn’t stay there!” Loki hissed. “I couldn’t.” he repeated, quietly.
The time stream they were currently in had them tracking a variant – which led them to Asgard.
Or what was left of it anyway.
In this particular time stream much of the same events had already taken place, save for one difference. Thor had kept the bifrost from hitting Jotunheim, so the planet stood unchanged. But the dark elves had still gotten ahold of the aether, and Hela had still come. Asgard was destroyed and lives were still lost.
Mobius had opened a gateway for them to step through and Loki thought they were standing on the cusp of a meteor field - that is, until Mobius corrected him.
Huge chunks of rock swirled around a small nexus point and floated aimlessly in the vast darkness not far from where Loki and Mobius stood. It was too little, too late.
Loki shivered. Sure, he had seen the destruction of Asgard before – on the timeline projector – and it had been…unsettling but seeing it in person after the fact was something else entirely. It felt far worse somehow to stand there and come to the realization that his home was gone. Everything he had ever known was gone. Again.
In a state of panic Loki had made a grab for the small time-space hopper and opened a doorway to somewhere else, and they had landed here, the last place Loki wanted to be.
“I think you chose to bring us here.” Mobius offered helpfully.
Loki scoffed to cover his anger. “Don’t be absurd. The device must be malfunctioning, and that’s why we’re here.”
“Mm, I don’t think so.” Mobius replied. He sounded skeptical.
“Why would I want to be on Jotunheim of all places?!” Loki asked, exasperation ringing in his tone. He threw his hands up in the air for emphasis.
“Well, for one thing, it is your home – well, your home planet anyway.” Mobius stated this as a fact.
Loki spun around on his heel to face Mobius. “This place isn’t my home. It isn’t my anything!” He hissed furiously. “I hate this place, and everything it stands for.”
Mobius nodded. “Okay.” He said amicably. His eyes however, belayed his disagreement. Loki glowered at the tva agent. Was he challenging him?
Loki threw out a hand in a random direction. “This place, and the monsters that live here have been nothing but a source of contention for Asgard. They are far from deserving of your pity, much less whatever base amount of kindness you humans so desperately cling to. Trust me when I say you’d be better off saving it for a more worthy species.”
Loki noticed then that he was hyperventilating, and he froze as he caught sight of his arm: it was blue.
Turning over his hand Loki saw that the color had spread up his arm and disappeared underneath the sleeve of the jumpsuit he had been given. Loki barely suppressed a growl of frustration. Why was this happening now?
Loki snuck a look at Mobius. He stood there, calm as ever. His expression was neutral, and his tone was mild.
“You really hate frost giants huh?” Mobius said. It was somewhere between a question and a statement.
“I do.” Loki said with conviction. He felt no shame in proclaiming this. Not even when Mobius gave him a disappointed look and said, “I’m sorry.”
No, he would not be goaded into changing his mind so easily. No amount of sympathy - pity - would sway his opinion.
“I wouldn’t expect you to understand – you tva agents spend your entire menial lives in that miserable little office. Everything you know revolves around a construct that you take for fact, despite evidence suggesting otherwise. You may never be able to fully grasp what it’s like to find out your existence is merely a fable, a con – and that your nothing more than a puppet only made good for someone else’s use.”
“So, what am I? I’m the monster parents tell their children about at night?... You know, it all makes sense now. You could never have a frost giant sitting on the throne of Asgard.”
Loki shook his head. He didn’t want to remember, but the memories were coming fast now. There were ones from his past along with images from the future – courtesy of the holo-projector. They flitted through his mind at random before blurring together.
“I could’ve done it father! For you, for all of us!”
“Your birthright was to die, alone and in the cold.”
He had wanted to die that night on the bifrost. Odin would not, and could not, accept what he had done, and so he had let go. He had let go and fallen willingly into the void, hoping to finally embrace in death what he had not the courage to in life - a simple truth. The fact of the matter was that he would never meet his father’s approval or be loved and accepted to the degree that Thor was.
But even that was a fabrication, and the truth was far more complicated.
Odin had loved him and Thor both, as had Frigga. But now they were lost to him, and Loki might not ever see them again. Sometimes he thought knowledge was more of a curse than a gift; or rather a hazard that was best treated with care.
The situation was absurd and unjust, and all Loki could do was laugh.
Mobius arched an eyebrow and gave Loki a concerned look. Loki laughed harder in an effort to cleanse the bitterness from his tongue.
“What’s so funny?” Mobius asked. He looked perplexed. Loki gave him a wolfish smile.
“Everyone I know, and everything I have ever cherished is gone. Oh! And let’s not forget that according to the ‘sacred timeline’ the destruction of Asgard and the resulting deaths are all my fault.”
Loki huffed angrily and small wisps of breath coalesced in the air.
“Perhaps it would have been better if the all-father had left me to die. Then none of this would have happened.” Loki muttered to himself. He had been saved by the all-father yes, but in doing so, Odin had secured his own death.
Loki scowled. If Odin had simply told him the truth, had not lied to him, then maybe he would not have gone on such a self-destructive path. They could have been a family. But no, the all-fathers secrets were far more important. After all, he had kept the knowledge of Hela from him and Thor for many years.
Loki pinched the bridge of his nose. Sometimes he wondered if, with seemingly infinite and amassable knowledge at his fingertips, that perhaps Odin meant for these things to happen. Because surely, the all-father would have seen this outcome and the consequences in his visions when he made the choice to take Loki in?
But if so, then why had he chosen not to do anything to prevent a catastrophe from happening?
Loki did know why though, and he loathed the answer. It was something his mother Frigga had taught him when he was young; that what is, is. There was no changing the destiny the norns had foreseen. Fate was tricky like that. It was malleable sure, but only up to a certain point before it became inevitable. And Frigga would know - after all, she could see the possibilities almost as well as Odin, and thus knew the consequences of seeking out foreknowledge for the sake of insight. Should one linger too long in the endless web of possibilities, they risked becoming trapped in a limbo like state, always fretting over what could be or had been. And then, soon enough, the present would be lost in time.
Loki sighed and ran his hands over his face. It all seemed pointless now, whose fault it was and all the small trivial things that led to their demise. It happened all the same. In multiple timelines Odin had stolen him, Thor had still been banished, and he had still tried to destroy Jotunheim.
Loki had only ever wanted his father’s approval – and perhaps, if he was in the mood to admit it, he might find that in a fit of rage and grief, he thought it best to destroy Jotunheim. That way he could bury the past, and along with it the shame and the pain he felt along with the planet. In that moment Loki supposed Jotunheim had been nothing more than an obstacle in his way – one that would remain a scar, perpetually cutting his identity into pieces.
Looking down at his hands again, Loki glowered at the blue tone of his skin. It served as a physical reminder of what he truly was – a frost giant. It was unsettling still to see it.
It bothered him, not knowing who he really was. Was he a Jotun, or an Asgardian? A prince or a traitor to the throne?
Or was he simply something else entirely? He might never know. And that scared him. For every time Loki thought he figured out something concrete about himself, it turned into nothing more than another lie.
And he was lying to himself still.
It was ironic really – he was a god, and gods were not supposed to be fallible.
They were supposed to be just and fair, to act as a guiding light to the nine realms. Moreover, gods did not fall prey to silly mortal things. That was beneath them. Just as lies and deceit were unbecoming of a ruler – or so Loki had been told in his youth.
It was these such attributes that were associated with his name throughout the nine realms – even amongst the mortals of Midgard. And though he was the god of mischief, Loki knew he was more widely known to the masses as a deceiver, a liar, and a troublemaker. And, as much as he hated to admit it, those labels carried weight and as such were his burden to bear.
At least it had made him resilient.
Loki snorted at this thought as he noticed something well, not peculiar, but rather odd in any case. Though he had initially been taken aback by the sudden change in atmospheric pressure after the time jump, Loki found his chest no longer ached. In the moment he had simply attributed the pain to the cold, and perhaps some small amount of dismay, but now…
It seemed he had quickly grown accustomed to the frigid climate. Loki did not appreciate the irony.
“Hey Loki, you okay?” Mobius called as he trudged through the snow. In all honesty Loki had forgotten he was there. “We should probably get back to hunting down the variant.”
“Yes…I’m fine.” Loki said quickly before looking around once more. There was no point in wondering what could have been, in another life. Or perhaps another time. He had a job to do.
Mobius approached and made a grab for the small device in Loki’s hands.
“I know how the hopper works!” Loki snapped at him.
“Yeah, I know. But you’re not supposed to be holding it. Now we really should get going-” Mobius began.
A noise interrupted him, and a familiar chime could be heard as another portal opened to the right. A group of minute-men stepped through as well as another tva agent.
Almost instinctively Loki morphed his appearance, changing himself back to his Asgardian form. The blue pallor of his skin was no more.
“Your off-course Mobius.” The agent stated sternly. “No variant in this quadrant.” She seemed to be waiting for an answer, or perhaps some kind of excuse.
Mobius looked between her and Loki. The agent looked ready to zap Loki to pieces if given the right opportunity.
“Oh, yeah, uh, I think our hopper device may have gotten the coordinates scrambled, heh. Those pesky things. You know how it is Hoskins.”
Hoskins looked disbelieving. Though after a moment spent in thought, she came to a decision and sighed, stepping aside as she did so. “Just make sure it doesn’t happen again, okay? The time-keepers already give us enough paperwork as is.”
“Of course, yep, got it. Thanks Hoskins.” Mobius said as she motioned for him to go through the portal. “Come on Loki.” He called, giving the other man a look that said he should make haste, lest Hoskins change her mind about zapping him into dust.
Loki took a moment to collect himself, before straightening up and walking.
“Yes, right. We have a variant to catch.” Loki added on agreeably as he stepped beside Mobius.
Before stepping through the portal though, Loki turned around one last time to look at Jotunheim. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, it was a part of him; and would remain a part of who he was. There was no changing that.
As Loki stepped through the doorway he thought of his future self and how he had learned to make peace with the Jotun part of himself.
And Loki figured if his future self could do it, then perhaps one day, so could he.
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