Pennies & Planets

Ek, Loki

Ek, Loki
I, Loki

Chapter One

It wasn’t as warm as it should be. Loki frowned slightly and pushed an eyelid open, his curiosity the only reason he was able to do so. His body felt like molasses. He had tried molasses on Midgard once. Did not care for it at all. Still did not. Wait, was not he trying to do something?

This time Loki managed to actually open his eye enough to see out of it. There was—white. A lot of it, in fact. With greys and blues blurred in. He must be more exhausted than he originally supposed. Hmmm… And wasn’t Asgard gold? Not even the healing ward possessed this much white. It was a bit of white with a lot of gold. So was Moðir’s, actually. Thor’s were a bit of crimson with a lot of gold, and his were green with a lot of gold.

Yes, he was not doing terribly well. If Loki’s sporadic thought process was not information enough to reach that conclusion, the pounding in his head as he attempted to sit was. Certainly, he had had headaches before. Only Æsir he had ever met to have such a mortal condition, but he had them from time to time. Had his headaches ever ached so much, though?

Loki collapsed back onto the fluffy… fluffy, while not being uncomfortably fluffy. What was this? He wanted one.

Anyhow, he collapsed back onto the bed he had woken upon and froze. No, none of the Æsir he had known had ever had a headache. But he wasn’t an Æsir.

In seconds Loki was standing beside his cot, the aching of his body pushed aside and his mind sharply activated. It was no bed he had been placed on, but a simple ice-work frame filled with packed snow. Loki tried to forget that it was the most comfortable bed he had ever laid on, but his mind decided it had followed enough of his orders for the time being and promptly slowed again, leaving him to count up every type of substance he had ever slept on.

As an infant, he likely slept on a cot of phoenix feathers inside a lavish cradle. His childhood bed had been stuffed with fleece from Asgard’s finest flocks. As a youth, he began to travel. A yarn-stuffed cot on Vanaheim (my, had that been an experience), an Elven bed made of wood, and a Dwarven bed of metal. Once in the army, rocks, dirt, moss, tunics, and once, water he had magicked to hold his weight.

“Why are you sitting on the floor?”

Loki jerked his head up, eyes wide, and saw a small, very blue boy standing in a doorway he had not noticed. He was feeling quite foolish for that lapse of awareness until his head began to pound again and he recalled why he had been unaware.

“Helgi! That is no way to address a stranger!”

Blinking dazedly, Loki observed that a woman had come up behind the boy. Huh.

“And see, look at his eyes. He is clearly injured. Do you not recall what your Aunt showed you?” the woman asked, sounding quite distressed. Loki wondered why. Maybe he could help?

“I do remember, Moðir! When somebody’s eyes are all sleety, it means their head hurts and you should give them some meðal. Can I go get some from Aunt?”

The woman sighed. “Yes, Helgi. Remember your manners!” she finished as the boy darted off. “I do not believe I have ever heard unfocused eyes referred to as “sleety.” He certainly is a creative young boy.” The woman’s murmuring softened as she turned and approached him. Or maybe his hearing was departing? Loki thought that possible, though he could not recall why.

“Sir, would you like me to help you back onto the bed?” The woman sounded kind. Perhaps he should accept her aid. And she was quite attractive as well. Odd, that, considering she was blue. The blue was even odder. And the tribal markings were the oddest. Vanir marked their bodies similarly, but only for festivals. Was Loki on this Realm to attend a festival? Well, he would not mind so much if all the women were similar to this one. He could see intelligence in her red eyes—red? Huh—and would bet she could carry on an interesting conversation. Perhaps she could even tell Loki why his head hurt so.

She sighed. Again. Did she sigh as often as Thor shattered mugs, or more? Or perhaps she was simply in the mood to sigh.

“Mmp!” Loki exclaimed in surprise. When had the woman bent down? Why was she trying to pull him up? He liked the floor just fine. And why was she so cool? Normally Loki found others to be quite warm, but her touch was almost cold.

“Sir, I am not strong enough to lift you entirely by myself. You must help me as much as you are able. Sir? Sir, are you well? Ah, Helgi, thank you. I believe I underestimated his injuries—sir! Sir, do not fall asleep. It will be dangerous in your condition—sir! Helgi, hurry, fetch the most knowledgeable healer you can find. This man needs assistance beyond my capabilities. Sir, stay awake a moment longer. You must drink this. It will help your head. Sir? Can you hear me? Sir?”

Her voice registered, but Loki could not understand what it was she said. He was delightfully cool, his head did not hurt as much now, though there was a substantial amount more molasses, and… Oh. Drink. His throat was quite dry, now that he thought about it. And the liquid was just warm enough to be pleasant, and so very sweet…

“Aid! Hurry! He is falling asleep! I need aid!”


This time, Loki was far more aware when he woke. He had seen himself cast from Asgard a thousand times as he slept, and realized where he was and who had cared for him the moment he awoke.

Fortunately, the room he was in was empty when he woke up. Swiftly, Loki sat up and assessed his situation. The Jotunn must not realize who he was, or they would never have aided him. He was in hostile territory still, but that was an advantage. They would likely have placed him in a regular healing room rather than a cell.

Loki had had nothing with him when he was cast to Jotunheim, so he would be able to leave unburdened. Once he had escaped… Well, he would manage. It would be better than inside this compound, at the least.

Quietly, Loki stalked out the door of the room he had been placed in and began to creep in the shadows along the walls of the twisting passage he found. Every so often Loki would come upon a doorway or another passageway, but he resolutely continued to follow the passage he had first entered.

After a quarter hour, Loki finally heard voices. A negative thing, really, but he may be able to follow them to an exit. He called upon his magic and murmured a spell of invisibility. Moments later, he entered a cavernous room, just as empty as the rest of the compound but for a long table in the room’s center. Loki was unimpressed, to say the least. The table appeared to be fashioned out of rotting wood hastily tied together with string. It was hardly a table at all.

Clearly it was used as one, though, for a dozen Jotunn lined its sides, talking to one other in hushed tones. Well, mostly hushed.

One Jotun raised his voice to be heard by all at the table.

“I care not if it would be a cruelty! That creature inhabiting our healing room is a son of Laufey! There is no mistaking his marks! Bekkhild declared his origins before all of you, and yet you still allow her to tend to him! He is the son of a monster who would have us all fed to his beasts! And you allow his son into our nest? The monstrosity will run right to his father and disclose our location, and I, for one, have no interest in allowing Laufey’s army to hunt us down like the snow birds!”

The room was silent for many moments after the Jotun’s declaration, which Loki supposed was a positive thing. His mind was roaring so loudly he would not have heard a word said if they had been speaking.

They knew he was a son of Laufey, the ridges were apparently patriarchal symbols, which he could use to his advantage if he learned how to decode them, they did not know Laufey was dead, they apparently hated Laufey, they did not revere their army as the Æsir did, and they had shown him kindness despite believing him to be a no-good rat who may cause their deaths.

…Loki was not certain which piece of that information was the most difficult to wrap his head around.

He did not have the time to decide, because a softer, but far firmer, more noble voice spoke up.

“Atli, you know well we all share your concerns. However, you also know that if we killed the man, son of Laufey or son of Bekkhild, we would be committing murder all the same. He was severely wounded, and unable to tell us of his intentions. If we were to kill based off of assumptions, we would be no better than the Æsir, or even than Laufey. We have no cause to live for if not the cause of those such as him. Left by Laufey in the snow to die. Whether he was left as a sickness, to destroy us from the inside, or because Laufey assumed we would kill him is undeterminable simply by looking at the situation. Simply looking at the situation, he is a victim of Laufey’s cruelty, not a perpetrator of it, and in your heart you know that. You are letting your fear cloud your judgment, Atli.”

Once more, the room was quiet, and once more, Loki’s mind was not.

Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.

Why did every barbed word have to hurt him like it did? Why could he not be Thor? Blissfully overconfident and immune to mere words?

Left by Laufey in the snow to die.
Left by Laufey in the snow to die.

“I apologize, Helblindi. The resemblance of this man’s situation to your brother’s had not occurred to me.” Atli sighed and fixed his gaze on the table. “I suppose Byleist is the only one who will ever match up to your father’s expectations.”

Helblindi smiled slightly. Had Loki ever seen a Jotun smile? He did not think so.

It did not look as strange on the man’s blue skin as Loki had expected it to.

“Atli, no son will ever live up to his father’s expectations. That is why so many fathers leave for Laufey’s army.” The table started laughing. Loki did not see the joke in Helblindi’s statement, but did not care that he missed it.

Left by Laufey in the snow to die.

Loki did not have one brother, but four. Or three. Well, three biological. One was dead, another was likely evil, and the third standing before him had not caused Loki to dislike him yet, but likely would sooner or later.

“Helblindi, Atli, you have shown that we should not kill him before he is well—but what should we do with him then?” another Jotun asked. Loki snapped his gaze back to the Jotunn around the table. This answer would control a great deal of his short term future.

“Well,” Helblindi replied, “I would say we should speak to him and see how he came to be where we found him. From there, we can either chain him somewhere, or… I feel as if I am being too optimistic to suppose he would willingly help us, but perhaps we can coexist with him if he means us no ill will.”

The Jotunn murmured their agreement, and Loki’s breath caught.

He could sneak back to the room they had put him in, weave a story about himself, and earn their trust, and through their trust, their supplies. However, he did not know enough about Jotun culture to guarantee that his story would hold up to scrutiny….

He could flee this place and take care of himself….

Or he could reveal who he actually was. So far he had not felt a single tingle of magick. If the Jotunn had no mages with them, his magick would give him an advantage, and he could hold far more power over his situation than he would any other way….

Loki straightened his back and made a decision.

“I would be interested in knowing what precisely I would be helping you with before agreeing to do so. Coexisting, however, sounds quite lovely. I was not looking forward to living off of Jotunheim’s ‘land.’”

All of the eyes in the room were on Loki as he unwove his cloaking spell and made himself visible.

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He felt a tear slip down his cheek. I thought… I knew that they’d understand. No. I trusted that they would. They had to. But they didn’t.

“All this time? All this time, and you were just…”

“You’re not just anything!” Lynn’s words had stung. But Lillian? He had needed her. He still needs her. “You are a practically-all-powerful mage alien who has lied to our souls as we bared them to you.”

The others had begun to try to interrupt, but silenced. Lillian had stated their turmoil as well as one could.

“We… We might have accepted you. I know I can’t swear that we would’ve, and I know that you being you must have thought it would be better for us to love part of you than to reject you—but is that even you?”

“I…”

“It would have been a slower process, but we could have learned to see you as the terrifyingly more mature, better traveled alien and learned to accept you, and come to understand you, even if we had to trust your word on things, and we could have been the crazy group of kids who befriended YOU, not some snooty façade you put on to make us more comfortable, or why ever you thought this course of action was sensible, and… and…” Lillian’s mouth caught up with her mind and she trailed off into silence. It was broken a moment later by her brother. He always saw the details she missed.

“You were so prideful you believed that you knew what was best for us better than we did, and you never questioned your own faulty reasoning because you were so selfish you didn’t want to give up what little you had by quitting the lie and coming clean.”

“No!” Lucas instantly asserted. “I couldn’t tell you. I can weave a lie, but I am not so skilled… I am not very good at the unweaving. And—and I swear to you, my past is truly not important! I have set it aside. It has not until now affected you, and I never saw that this moment could come. Truly, it—“

I can see through that! If your past was unimportant, you wouldn’t be trembling in fear right now, man. And I see you straighten up now, but come on.” Lynn stepped closer. “And don’t you tell me for a second that you don’t know how important stories are to Lillian.”

“I couldn’t tell just—“

Lynn stepped closer. She had to peer up to see Loki’s face, now. “And you could never have missed the fact that Lillian would never tell a whisper to the wind of anything you don’t want her to, and you know that we don’t push when she keeps a secret, because it’s never her own.” Another step. Their faces were inches apart, both twisting into fury. Physical harm was moments away. “You know that you could have told Lillian any step of the way and she would’ve forgiven you for the time you kept it to yourself. She would’ve tried to comfort you, and she would’ve listened, and loved, and you know that and have known that.” His fist clenched. “If you weren’t currently thrusting this on us while attempting to lie to us, treating us like toys or kids or pets or something, like it’s no big deal when it is, if you weren’t turning your back on us and our trust, and trying to elevate yourself above us in your head to handle it, like you did when you first came, if you were still treating us like your friends and genuinely wanting us to forgive you and trusting us to, like when any of us have admitted our granted lesser but our deepest, most painful secret…

“Lillian still would.

“But you aren’t, are you? You’re just a spoiled little boy who’s trying to cope with pain by shoving everyone below himself, instead of letting them have a foothold to hurt you, and trusting that they’ll love you instead.”

In the moment that Lynn finished speaking, Loki lunged forward, Lynn prepared to punch, and the others stepped forward to interfere, a soft sob was heard that seemed to stop time.

Heads turned to see Lillian staring at the ground, eyes tightly closed and leaking tears. Loki stiffened, and the lesson Lynn had been trying to hit him in the head with hit his heart instead.

He had become so entirely obsessed with his own misfortune, and selfishly “dealing” with his own pain, that he had not once remembered how thin the thread was that Lillian’s self-esteem hung on. Nor just how loving she was.

Loki suddenly knew that she was going to take everything that had happened and love him for it all the more and hate herself and blame herself and even when not actively putting herself down, he had shattered the foundation she had formed for herself. He had shattered it.

Claiming to love her with all his soul, he had selfishly shattered hers.


Two days later, Crystal, Jacob, Lynn, Miles, and Faith were done. With life. With love. And largely, with Lucas.

Lillian had been trying, but she had gone into robot “say what they want, do what they want, be what they want” mode, but at the same time it was clear she wanted to cry or cut or rut or something other than be composed and around people. So Miles and Faith were working on keeping her somewhat sane and calm while wrapped up in blankets and pillows eating ice cream and watching movies, knowing that they were really just stalling, because someone like Lillian needed closure if she was ever going to get better.

Meanwhile, Loki had locked himself in a maintenance closet and somehow spelled (?) the door closed.

The group had actually seen this before. Lillian coped by blaming herself for all evil and being torn between wanting to work and help other people until she felt better and locking herself in a dark room and railing on herself, and was logical enough to try the former, but the desire for the latter always distracted her from doing the former well and made her think worse of herself. Lucas always coped by literally starving himself and screaming at himself in mirrors until he snapped and sought out the person who he saw to be capable of fixing this issue and had a very dramatic soliloquy to deliver that they would receive well, and all would be fine.

But at the moment, it seemed reconciliation would be a bit harder than normal.

“She’s… fading,” Miles commented. “I dunno how to put it, exactly…”

“Lili isn’t going to be content with Princess Bride for much longer,” Faith cut in. “She’s hurting and she’s been holding herself from serious self-destructing but she needs Lucas to come and work with her on making this better. Or it’s not going to be better.”

“…That,” Miles agreed.

“Easy, then,” Lynn commented, tone bordering furious and frosty, “We drag the loser out of his hole and make him fix this.”

“Won’t fix it. He’s worn so thin by now, I’m sure, that he’ll snap and get angry, and hurt her more, and then feel even more guilty, and flee back to the closet. But he needs to feel regret, not guilt,” Faith pointed out calmly.

“I’ll talk to him,” Jacob said flatly.

“Ummm…” Crystal started. “I thought our seer-in-training (Crys, for the thousandth time, I am NOT…) just said that was a bad idea. Should we maybe have Lillian go to Luc?”

Everyone fell silent.

“While I think Jacob actually would handle this relatively well…” Faith started, “That is a really good idea,” Lynn finished.

“Aw man. No brother yelling at could-have-been-boyfriend moment,” Miles complained.

“Okay, well, Jacob, do you want to go…?” Lynn suggested pointedly. Jacob smiled wryly, clearly thinking something he didn’t plan to share, but he stood up nodding anyway. The others watched him go and prayed.


“…Lil?”

“You want to reverse the natural order.”

“…”

“I have ears. Y’all can’t whisper.”

“…Lil, you think the natural order is baloney, and have been known to agree with Crystal that the concept was invented to be defied. How bad are you exactly?”

“…I demand another fresh tub of the chocolatiest ice cream you can find. And that everyone go to wherever is as far away as from where Lucas and I’ll be as is possible. No cameras. No recording devices.”

“…You are concerning me, but that’s not abnormal, I guess. Give me twenty minutes for the ice cream and forty to move Lynn.”

He didn’t get the desired chuckle, but considered the conversation mostly successful.


Lucas heard knocking on the door, and was about to recast the silencing spell so he could keep thinking until his mind resembled the aftermath of trench warfare, but froze with his hand midair as he heard the last thing he could possibly have expected.

“L—Lucas?” Lillian.

He jerkily undid the spells and threw open the closet door, narrowly avoiding Lillian. She jumped back, but then held her ground. They both stood staring at each other, at a loss, until she nudged a step forward and held out her arms a little. “Ice cream?”

A few minutes later they were back in the closet with the door spelled, eating ice cream. They both felt more comfortable crammed into this tiny room than they would’ve in the large living room beyond the door, and both adored chocolate ice cream. So, as unresolved as their issues were, and as platonic as their friendship was the last time either checked, she was curled up in his lap using his chest as a pillow while he fed her ice cream anytime he wasn’t feeding himself some.

“Lucas?”

“Yes?” He purposely didn’t glance at the large (gorgeous) brown eyes looking up at his face, and he tried to ignore how soft and small her voice was.

“I…” She nuzzled into his chest. “This isn’t about me, though. I can’t fix it. You have to.” He stiffened, and she quickly finished “But please, please say something, anything, I can’t keep doing this, and I still love you and I’ll forgive you and I’ll love you and everyone else might not but I do and I will, Lucas, I will.”

Tears slowly wet his shirt as they finished the ice cream. It was hours later that she was awoken by his voice.

“I was a prince. Spurned. Far too young. I did not know what to do with myself. I had never even learned how I truly ought to conduct myself. But…” Another expanse of time passed, and she was drowsy again when he next spoke. “I came across the lot of you, and I learned. And I should have told you, and I should not have handled any of this the way I did, and… I believe if I were to relive my past, I know what to do differently in order to purge myself of these sins I have committed against you.”

“Mmm.”

He smiled down at her. She was exhausted, but finally felt safe and was relaxing and could not stay awake. Nor was he going to ask her to. “I love you, darling, and I beseech thee for any kindness you could find in your heart for me. I shall endeavor to give you my fond kindnesses, as well.” He felt like a sap. Oh well. It must be said somehow, sooner or later.

“Mmmmmmmmm.” That sounded like it meant something, but Lucas did not have the faintest idea what. “Are… Do you wanna court?” Luc stiffened. He knew Lillian well enough to know she waited for men express their interest in her rather than approaching them herself. “I know… I know that you’d never ask me, even if you wanted to, so I asked you, while I’m… sleepy… enough… to have an excuse.”

By the time he had been able to calm his silent laughter (mixed with tears. Her pain was his fault, but she was alive, and she’d be well) and murmur a firm affirmative, Lillian was sound asleep. On his chest.

Loki smiled to himself. This was not a turn he had planned for his life—fantasizing about and planning were different—but he was well pleased with it.

The Worst Nightmare Ever Created

It was dark.

It was scary.

He couldn’t see anything.

He loved it.

But that was all for about half a second. Then… Then he opened his eyes. And he really wished he hadn’t. The world was much more pleasant when he had his eyes closed.

Oh, and the worst part of what he found when he opened his eyes? The fluorescent pink sparkles that covered everything. How in the world did anyone get their hands on that much hot pink glitter?! And more importantly, how did it get here? Where was here? What was going on?

He slowly sat up, his eyes widening in horror as he observed his surroundings. Everything–EVERYTHING–was covered in shining pink confetti.

From what he could see, it looked like a normal landscape. A field of lusciously growing grass, a few nice, large shade trees, a bright sky with a few clouds floating by…

The problem was that all of it, the trees, the sky, the grass, the clouds; they were all made of pink sparkles. Whether it was glitter, confetti, sparkles, or something else he could not tell. But he was thoroughly unnerved. There was waaaaaaay too much pink.

Cautiously he took a step forward. The sparkles making up the ground beneath his feet sunk in slightly, but seemed rather firm. Determined to NOT allow his fear to get the best of him, he forced himself to keep moving forward.

His eyes were sharp, observing everything around him. Slowly he began to crest a hill, and was half bemoaned and half amazed when he caught sight of the flowing, pink glitter river. It was, in reality, incredible. Its banks were made of pink glitter rocks. The thick, almost syrup-like sparkle water splashed off the rocks like normal water would as it rushed and flowed along its path.

With much less caution than he had had a moment ago, he began to walk down the hill to the river bank. Once there, he dipped one of his bare feet into the “water”. It was a sensation unlike any he had ever felt. It felt like syrupy sand as it flowed around his foot.

Pulling his foot out, he was amazed to find no residue left by the water on it at all. So, he began to wade across. It was only four feet deep at its deepest, so he had no trouble crossing it. Well… There was one strange thing.

The moment he was submerged above his waist in the water, he began to feel extraordinarily sleepy. He wanted to fall asleep right then and there. His thoughts began to form more and more slowly, and he barely had the willpower to continue to move his now completely relaxed arms and legs. He had almost managed to reach the other side of the river when his thoughts ceased altogether and he fell to the lull of sleep.

Once asleep, he sunk further into the river, and began to be carried downstream with it. Eventually he was entirely submerged in the water. Miraculously, he could still breathe just fine. His subconscious efforts to wake up ceased when his head fell under the water, though.

When he did wake up some amount of time later, he found himself washed up on what appeared to be a pink sparkle beach.

The problem: He couldn’t remember anything. His name, how he had gotten there, nothing. He had vague memories of pink confetti fields and trees, but that was it.

He knew that this was the color called pink… but everything being pink seemed normal to him. After all, everything he could remember had been pink. It didn’t even occur to him that the grass should be green, and the sky should be blue.

His head jolted up when he heard a whinny next to him. What he saw didn’t surprise him like it would’ve had he had his memories, and really like it should’ve. He saw a large, pink, glitter unicorn.

Yes, a unicorn. And he could tell that it wanted him to follow it. How could he tell? Who knows.

In a complete lapse of common sense, he followed it. He walked beside it, occasionally stroking it, as it led him past tall, jagged pink glitter mountains; beautiful, vast pink glitter forests; fields of pink glitter flowers blowing in the breeze; and several pink glitter ponds and streams.

Eventually, they crested a very steep hill and he saw what the unicorn had wanted him to see. It was a large, beautiful, greek-style city, and, of course, made of pink sparkles. He sucked in his breath as he marveled at it. It looked… incredible.

The unicorn began to walk down the hill and he followed, still in awe of the city before them.

When they reached the gates to the city, however, he did not find what he had expected. There were no people. The entire place was completely abandoned.

The gates swung open so that he could enter the city, and he did so. He turned to look to the unicorn for guidance on what to do next, but as he watched, a gust of wind blew by, purposely dissipating the noble creature to thousands of pieces of fuchsia confetti and swirling them around in the air until they were out of sight.

Sadly, and disappointed at the loss of the beast he had followed this entire time, he began to explore the empty streets. Loose banners made of cloth-like pink sparkles blew into his face when the wind caught hold of them, and every now and then he would inadvertently kick over a wicker basket made of pink glitter.

He noted the stunning pink confetti floors and walls of the streets and structures he passed that looked almost like marble, and their flawless architecture and design.

Eventually he found himself sitting on the steps of a beautiful, columned building. He was hugging his knees tightly to his chest and staring off blankly at the never ending pink sparkles, unsure of what to do next.

When he felt something brush against his leg, he jumped several feet into the air and screamed like a young child. He backed away quickly from where he had been sitting, once he landed back on the ground. He instantly froze when he saw what had brushed against him.

A pink glitter cat.

And as if on cue, hundreds–no, thousands of pink glitter cats began to approach him from all sides. They all mewed and mewed as they came closer and closer… and they terrified the life out of him.

He spun around to take off running… but there was no escape. No matter which direction he turned, there were just more cats coming. He began to panic. There was no way out!

Just as the horrifying cats of impending doom reached him…


He sat straight up, suddenly awake.

Pitch panted for several minutes in a cold sweat.

When he had been defeated by the Guardians and lost control of his nightmares, he had known it would mean that he would lose some sleep.

But this? This was ludicrous! That nightmare was far more horrific than anything Pitch had ever even imagined!

A sickening knot began to settle in Pitch’s stomach as he slowly lay back down.

Sparkles/glitter/confetti?! Pink everything?! Rivers that put you to sleep and then give you amnesia?! Unicorns?! An abandoned greek city?! Demon cats?! Ugh, the cats were the worst part!

Never in his life had Pitch been more unnerved. Ever. That had to have been the worst nightmare ever created.


After that incident, he determined to stay awake, no matter how hard. Anything was worth it, Pitch was certain, to not have to go through that again.

Poptarts for Thanksgiving

“What is this ‘Thanksgiving’?”

Tony jumped, spinning around to face the speaker, holding a pencil like you would a weapon–and realized it was just Loki. Sighing heavily, Tony put down the pencil and went back to what he had been doing.

“Thanksgiving is an annual holiday to commemorate a meal the first settlers in America had with the native Indians. We all eat a lot of turkey, potatoes, and stuffing and go around being thankful for what we have.”

“…I do not believe I shall enjoy this holiday.”

“No, you probably won’t.”

Loki had been sentenced to live in Stark Tower without his powers after he tried to take over the world. His punishment was not as severe as everyone was hoping it would be at all. Really, it was just as much a punishment for Tony as it was Loki, since Tony was the demigod’s main caretaker.

There were several minutes of silence before Loki spoke again, startling Tony, who had thought he was alone now. “What shall you be doing for this Thanksgiving?”

Pausing, Tony thought about it for a moment before honestly replying, “I haven’t really thought about it. Usually I ignore the holiday, but Pepper will probably want dinner.”

“Do you not take her to dinner several times each week?”

“Thanksgiving dinner is special. You can’t just go out to a restaurant.”

“Then how are you going to receive food?”

“…Dang. I’m gonna have to cook it.”


The smell of smoke was the first sign that something was wrong. Very wrong. Loki didn’t know how the tower even could catch on fire, if it had survived an alien invasion, but he was definitely smelling smoke.

He didn’t need to do any more than follow the faint string of curses to locate the source of the smoke–the kitchen.

Walking in, Loki saw the source of the smoke. “Oh dear. It must be that Thanksgiving,” Loki said as he wrinkled his nose. Tony didn’t deign to answer him as he ran to grab some water to douse the fire he’d started.

Right as Tony dumped the water on the flame, he felt Loki yank on his forearms, throwing him backward as the grease fire burst into a ball of flames when the water hit it.

Because of Loki’s superhuman strength, he had been able to pull both Tony and himself out of harm’s way.

“Truly?! Even I know that you do not put out grease fires with water!” the demigod yelled, rushing over to the miraculously still-intact counter that had the lid to the burning dish of stuffing sitting on top of it. Loki covered the flaming pan with the lid and smothered the fire.

“I-I-The turkey!” Tony cried, staring at the burnt oven in horror. “Now I don’t have anything for dinner!”

As if on cue, JARVIS suddenly announced, “Ms. Potts has entered the building.” All of the color drained from Tony’s face. He jumped up and ran out of the kitchen, wiping the various food splatters off his clothes as he headed toward the elevator. It opened just as Tony reached it and Pepper walked out, a smile on her face.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Tony!”

“Uh… Happy Thanksgiving, Pep.”

“I came back early so I would have some time to make dinner,” she said happily. Relief washed over him. He could just forget he’d ever tried to make dinner… Except he’d destroyed the kitchen.

“No! No! I mean, uh… You don’t need to make dinner! ‘Cause, uh, I…”

“Anthony is attempting to tell you he has made you dinner. He is simply nervous you will not like it,” Loki lied smoothly, walking up to the couple.

“Really?” Pepper asked in surprise, turning to Tony.

His eyes were wide, but Tony stuttered something that resembled ‘yes’, and Pepper smiled.

“That’s so thoughtful of you! Loki, will you be joining us?”

Now it was Loki’s turn to gawk. “I-I was going to spend my evening reading, actually. Surely you would appreciate some time alone.”

“Oh, we won’t mind!”

“Uh, we means both of us.” At Pepper’s glare, Tony quickly corrected, “I meant, we’d love to have you join us, Loki!”

Pepper’s smile grew, ever so slightly, at Tony’s response. “Well, come on! Is it in the kitchen?”

“No!” both Tony and Loki exclaimed together. “We mean,” Loki quickly added, “Tony has gone to great effort to set the dining room for you, and the food is already there.”

“Oh, all right,” she said, turning to her right and walking toward the dining room. Loki and Tony hesitantly followed at a distance.

“Please tell me you used your magic to get us some food.”

“How–?”

“You’ve got loose lips when you’re drunk. Kept talking all about how you’d found a way around your magic restraints, but you figured you’d be in better shape if you just stayed here like you were supposed to,” Tony replied.

Loki stared at him in horror. “I am never drinking an alcoholic beverage again!” he whisper yelled. Tony smirked.

“Wise choice.”

Right then they both heard Pepper’s gasp, and stiffened before she burst, “This is amazing Tony!” Their shoulders sagged in relief as they entered the room.

She was right; it looked incredible. The silverware was all done very properly. Loki knew well what order the knives and forks were placed in, being a prince and all. The dishes were crystal and very expensive looking. The food, however, was the best part.

There was a large plate of stuffing, mashed potatoes, what looked like a green bean casserole, buttered rolls, an enormous, glorious turkey… and a very out of place dish of Pop Tarts.

Tony turned to stare at Loki with a shocked expression when he saw the Pop Tarts. “You didn’t,” he mouthed. Loki ignored him and replied to Pepper’s confused expression instead, as she too caught sight of the Pop Tarts. “I do not believe Anthony would have been able to survive a meal without junk food.” She appeared to accept that answer, and sat down in one of the chairs. Tony reluctantly sat down in the chair next to Pepper, and Loki in the chair across from Tony.

“Tony? Will you pray for us?” Pepper asked.

“I’m not really the ‘prays at the family meal’ type, Pep.” At her scathing look, he swiftly amended, “But we all make exceptions at Thanksgiving!”

Loki looked extremely uncomfortable with the entire situation, but sat quietly through Tony’s prayer. As soon as Tony finished, the food was served. Everyone put a liberal amount of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, and green beans on their plates. Tony almost choked on his food when he ate his first bite, it was so good. Everything was flavored to perfection. The turkey was even moist.

“This is amazing, Tony!” Pepper gushed.

“Yeah, it really is! I need to cook more!” Tony replied, sounding equally amazed. Loki glared at him when Tony made this remark. Loki was noticeably pale from the strain of using magic through the restraints, and was not planning on teleporting more meals any time soon.


The trio had nearly made it to desert when catastrophe struck.

Tony and Pepper had been doing most of their conversing, but to their surprise, Loki was actually talking every now and then as well. A random comment about how he’d once seen a woman drag her husband away from a tavern by his ear while Pepper was berating Tony about his drinking habits, or a ‘That creature sounds eerily like a bilgesnipe.’ when Tony was telling Pepper about a monster that had been in a horror movie he had watched over Halloween. It was a vast improvement from his never speaking to them, with the exception of an occasional insult.

Because of Loki’s ravenous appetite–using magic always made him hungry–, the turkey was all but gone, there was a large dent in the stuffing, half of the green bean casserole had been eaten, a large number of rolls had been devoured, and the potato dish had a sizable crater in its center. The only plate of food left untouched was that which held the Pop Tarts.

“I need to go to the restroom,” Pepper said toward the end of the meal, causing both Loki and Tony to stiffen mid-bite. She stood up and began to walk toward the bathroom–which was located a few doors past the charred kitchen.

“Please–please please please–tell me that you can put an illusion over that door.”

“I-Maybe before I teleported all of this food. Now, however…”

“…”

“…”

“Maybe she won’t notice?”

“Yes, perhaps.”

Both Tony and Loki sat chewing in tense silence as they waited to see what would happen. Their fears were confirmed when they heard a very angry “TONY!” echo from the hallway. Tony glanced at Loki in terror, but Loki kept his gaze fixed on the wall behind Tony, murmuring, “You are courting her, not I.”

Reluctantly, Tony stood and followed Pepper. “Look, Pep, it isn’t what you think–”

“Have I been eating a Thanksgiving meal purchased from a store?! That is an abomination!” she yelled.

“It is stolen, actually,” Loki called from the dining room.

There was an eerie silence for a few moments before Pepper slowly stalked back into the dining room, a wide-eyed Tony silently following her.

“Do you mean to tell me that I have been eating stolen turkey?”

“…Yes.”

“I can’t eat stolen turkey!”

“It is better than the burnt crisp Tony was going to feed us!”

“Hey!” Tony exclaimed, dramatically hitting his chest. Both Loki and Pepper glared at him, and he quickly shut up.

“You-You ruiner of Thanksgiving!”

“Ruiner is not even a word! I would think that an educated mortal such as you proclaim to be would know such a thing!” Loki yelled, losing his temper.

“How dare you–” Pepper began, but Tony cut him off.

“Okay, that was not good, Loki. Seriously not good.”

“Oh? And what are you going to do about it?” Loki challenged him.

“Well, I could fix your magic restraints so that they actually work–”

“WAIT.” Both men stiffened, realizing the information they had just divulged. “Do you mean to tell me that the psychopathic murderer I’ve been allowing to stay on account that he is supposed to be harmless is able to use his magic?!”

“…Only a small amount, Lady Pepper.”

“ONLY A SMALL–”

“OR!” Tony interjected, returning to what he had been saying, “I could make you tell me all of the things you’re thankful for.”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“Yes, I believe that’s a great idea Tony,” Pepper stated.

“I disagree–”

“So! Two against one. Speak,” Tony commanded, fighting a grin at Loki’s alarmed expression.

“I…” He did not want to risk Tony being able to find a way to build magic restraints that he couldn’t undo.

Loki took a deep breath, and thought about what exactly he was thankful for, Pepper and Tony watching him in anticipation.

“I suppose I am thankful that I am alive. And, I suppose, as miserable as this wretched Realm is, it is far more pleasant than the dungeon I would otherwise be held in.”

He looked at Tony and Pepper to see if they had accepted his answers.

“What about Thor? Are you even slightly thankful he’s your brother?” Tony suggested, grinning at the unfortunate demigod.

“I suppose… he could be worse.”

“Loki,” Pepper scolded, “You’re pointing out silver linings. Come on, tell us something you’re actually thankful for. We’re not going to turn around and tell Thor.”

Tony cocked an eyebrow at her. “We’re not?”

“No, Tony,” she replied, glaring at her boyfriend, “We’re not.”

Glancing down at his “magic restraints,” Loki sighed in defeat.

“I suppose I am truly and honestly thankful…” His face took on a pained expression when he said the word ‘honestly’. “…that I have you, Anthony and Lady Pepper, to prevent Thor from striking me with Mjolnir when he realizes that it is I who stole his Thanksgiving dinner.”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“Y’know, that’s good enough for me,” Tony declared. “So, Loki; did you steal your brother’s pies too? ‘Cause I want some homemade pie.”


“I can’t believe,” Darcy Lewis moaned, “That we labored all day making that meal, just for it to disappear through an Einstein-Rosy Bridge and become your newest obsession.”

“Einstein-Rosen Bridge, Darcy, and I’m pretty sure spent all day cooking while you played Mario Kart with Thor,” Jane replied, not even glancing up from the screen of the machine she was using to scan the tabletop their meal had previously been sitting on.

The table had been dragged outside earlier that afternoon so that there would be more room for Thor, Jane, and Darcy to sit. Now, the once “spacious” dining area was littered with Jane’s machinery as she attempted to find the cause of the food-eating wormhole.

Suddenly, one of the machines started loudly beeping, startling Darcy and Thor. Jane jumped up and ran over to look at the screen. “There’s–It’s–It’s opening again!” she exclaimed. As she rushed to reach a small handheld device a few yards away that would measure the conditions of the Einstein-Rosen Bridge, said bridge opened and closed.

“Dang it!” Jane exclaimed as she turned around. The anomaly had already passed. Much to her surprise, however, something had come through the wormhole and was now sitting in the center of the table.

A very familiar plate of Pop Tarts.

THE END

After Ragnorak

As they stood, bloody and exhausted, their loved ones’ corpses strewn about them, they beheld ground coming back where they had just seen it burn, ruined by smoke and flame and the feet of legions of giants. This new Earth was greener, more peaceful and full of life than it had been before the Doom. The ground sprouted grass with no urging, and trees and foliage sprang up as if by powerful life magick.

Those few left, they who remained, who had survived the End, all drifted as individual units to the plain where they had all begun. It was more beautiful than it had ever been before. The grass more vibrant, the sky was brighter, more alive while nearly devoid of life than it had ever been while full.

Quietly, they began to speak. Recount the tales of their fathers, and of their father’s fathers. Those few who had survived walked the plain together as they exchanged tales as had not been told since the coming of the giant’s daughters and the birthing of the dwarves. The companion of Hel joined them, as did those others fated to return after the Twilight of the Gods.

Laughing, the Æsir walked together in half-peaceful companionship. They were in a plain of peace as had never been, but they were yet coated with the blood of their brothers.

It was Vali who stumbled. Bending down, he dislodged from the dirt a shining golden king, a prized piece of one of the fine cheque sets once played by their fathers, before the coming of the three giant’s girls. The others left fell silent as all gazed at the priceless token, the legacy of a painless age long lost.

Soul

Fractles of blue and silver and ice spinning around in the air like dice. One, two, three, four, off we go to the war. Dogs and cats, mice and men. Scurrying ’bout like a beheaded hen. Books on shelves, books by twelves, books and books and books and bells. Creativity found by productivity, reliant on the whims of whimsical entities. Then, now, later, how, size six, size four, size eight, and more. Lollying hollying callying fallying, stepting and leapting and kepting and wepting.

Fading Sunlight

Radio crackling, hospital socks.
Dead dreams in the corners, piled like crickets.
Blueberry syrup and coffee cups.
Lies are stream through baseboards like ants.
Dirty dishes, copper pipes.
Spiderwebs of guilt collect dust.

Rose-tinted glasses are abandoned on the ground.
Traveling shoes are forgotten on the floor.

The lighting is flickering in time with hope,
And the beeping is swiftly increasing.