Disclaimer: I don't own anything, except the plot. Everything else belongs to Marvel. Not done for profit either, seriously.
Summary: Post Avengers. Banished from Asgard and stripped of his powers, Loki falls through time to meet a young Jane Foster who no longer has stars in her eyes.
A/N: I am basing this version of Jane F. on the movie. And since the movies have not mentioned anything about her background, I've decided to have some fun and imagine.
Over the Rainbow
The great hall of gold had never gleamed with such menace. Loki despised the thought even as it flittered through his mind like an annoying bug he could not swat away. And that metaphorical bug in turn reminded him that he truly was in no condition to be swatting anything; it was far more likely that he was about to be crushed. A glance down confirmed that his hands were still manacled, bound by metal set with deep Asgardian magic; he wondered how many of his teachers had worked on creating it. 'Probably all of them,' he smirked, but it remained unseen, covered by the metal mask set upon his mouth to seal his lips and still his tongue. He could have screamed and no sound would have escaped the enchanted steel.
Upon the great golden throne sat Odin and all the force of his stare was directed at Loki. He glared at the man whom he had once called 'Father', and then turned haughtily away. It looked like arrogance, but it was really pain and again, Loki despised himself for such weakness, for even being here in the first place. He had been outfought, outwitted, outnumbered even though he had had an entire army at his disposal. It just wasn't fair…. A tremor ran up his spine and he suppressed it with mighty effort. If he was going to die, it would be with dignity and a smirk upon his lips. Better to bury all inside than be a walking wound before the blind men he hated and loved.
He stopped several feet from the gilded stairs and behind him, the heavy steps of his one-time brother ceased as well. Thor. The name was enough to drive away coherent thought, leaving a mass of seething emotions peppered with flashes of ruined glory and foiled triumphs. Thor. He was always in the way, always.
The hatred emanating from Loki was palpable. Bound as he was, it sizzled in the magic around him, touched the air thick with enchantments and spread, like oil over water, stained the atmosphere like black ink spilled over a page. Odin sighed inwardly; there would hardly be any point in removing the chains and mask. Nothing Loki said would be of use and it might anger him further. 'Or sadden,' the god thought, his one clear eye settled on the son who refused to bend his knee or even indicate he was in the presence of his king. He could not see that he had broken his father's heart.
"Loki Odinson," he spoke and stopped when the prince's emerald eyes snapped to meet his. If Loki could have had his way, Odin would have perished on the spot. There was a world of pain in those once innocent eyes and once again, Odin wondered where he had gone wrong. Honesty was a double-edged sword and Odin had done everything to prevent Loki from feeling that pain. His weakness had become his son's weakness. "Will you confess to your crimes?"
In that great empty hall, Loki tilted up his chin arrogantly, straightening his shoulders. He could feel the anger roiling off Thor in waves, and it made him smile. The corners of his eyes lifted and he arched a dark graceful brow. It was the physical equivalent of the Midgard expression, "Are you serious?"
"I thought so."
For a moment, the resignation in Odin's voice registered and inside, deep inside, he felt a part of him that he had been unable to fully kill off soften in response. 'Treachery,' he hissed, hardening his heart. 'Fool.' And felt merciful cold settle once more. After all, he was what he was and his true nature could not be concealed. He had learnt that during the long fall into darkness.
"For war waged against Midgard, for collaborating with a war-mongering race, you must be punished. You have disgraced the realm that claims you as Prince." All merriment died from Loki's eyes. "Yes, I still claim you as Prince, Odinson." The older god's gaze never wavered, not even when Loki stepped forward, unable to control his rage. Behind him, Thor moved a hand but stopped when he realised there was nothing his younger brother could do. "As your brother was banished for his arrogance, so shall you be for yours. That you may see you are equals—"
"No, Father. The people of Midgard look for Loki. I brought him back to face your justice because it would be tempered with mercy," Thor interrupted.
"Be still!" Odin roared and the walls shook. It was possible Asgard shook. The sound of it was deafening and for a moment Loki wondered just who was actually the God of Thunder. "You do not pronounce judgement here," he continued, voice soft and controlled yet pregnant with warning.
Thor knew that look. He had seen it laid upon him and he knew there was no intervention he could make, at least none short of angering Odin to the point of punishing both sons. Yet he could not bring himself to move back, to stop shielding Loki who was hidden behind the red cloak and his brother's broad frame.
Once, when they had been young and the worlds innocent, Loki had played too mischievous a trick and Thor had taken the blame for it. He could still recall the sound of Odin thrashing his older brother while he cried with shame and fear from behind closed doors, safely wrapped in Frigga's arms. Hours later, he sought his brother in the darkness of the vast gardens and found him sitting under a great tree whose branches seemed to touch the heavens above. Thor was dry-eyed, but the reddish tint to his nose gave away the fact that he had wept previously. And weep again he did, when Loki like a small shadow slunk to his side and put his arms around him.
He was not that boy anymore. Stepping out from behind, Loki shouldered Thor aside, defiance blazing from every line on his face. Reaching deep down, he drew on the magic that was an inherent part of his nature and this time when he spoke, it was into Odin's mind.
'You are a coward, old man. You leave the worms that crawl on that blasted planet to strike the blow which would mark you as you truly are!'
Thor was nowhere as skilled in the arts of sorcery as Loki was but even he sensed something was amiss when Odin flinched, drawing back against his throne before rising to his feet.
"I will do as I must. As you will if you want to live."
Both Loki and Odin ignored Thor. Shadows grew on the walls and Odin seemed to grow in stature, his staff in hand as he loomed over the younger god and the flames which lit the great hall stirred as though moved by a great wind. The sky was turning rapidly turning an angry grey.
Then Odin stretched out a hand and Loki felt himself seized in a grip more terrifying than anything he had ever experienced. A master sorcerer he was, but here was magic he could not defy.
"I now take from you your power…"
It was a cruel parody of what had happened to Thor, of what had been his first definitive moment of victory. The cloak fell from his shoulders, the clasps flung to the floor by invisible fingers.
"In the name of my father…"
Gauntlets shattered, smiting his skin in a shower of golden shards that fell like rain upon the ground. And Loki felt something more being stripped away from him, peeled off from the inside out. He thought he might have screamed.
"And his father before…"
He tried to fight back, but his magic was buffeted, smothered, strangled before he could even give it birth. The chest plate he wore seemed to melt and vanish into air, leaving him exposed to the wrath that now laid him bare.
"I, Odin All-Father, cast you out!"
Then there was light enough to set a thousand horizons afire and Loki felt his feet leave the ground. A vacuum was opening, he could sense it but his eyes were seared shut by the agonising glare. Then he was tumbling, fingers grasping the air reflexively and for one moment, he thought he felt another's hand brush his. Then the moment passed and once more Loki fell into an abyss.
His heart was going to burst out of his ribs and try as he might, he could not get his bearings. This was different, this was not the same as when he had let go. This was out of his control. Every instinct screamed that he had to do something, and quickly, if he wanted to survive.
"I will do as I must. As you will if you want to live…"
Instead of screaming his everlasting hatred of Odin, Loki clamped his mouth shut behind the mask that sealed it, and focused. It took every ounce of control he possessed but gradually the eerie sensation of falling faded into the background of his mind. He could not feel the cold of the wormhole, he did not mind the sensation of being unable to breath, nothing else mattered save for the luminous glimmer he could see in his mind's eye. Rising from the centre of his being, it grew, tendrils extending, flickering like the stars, building into a cocoon that wrapped his body in a protective shield. Luminescence spread, a torch in the dark and Loki could suddenly see. There were doors, openings that rushed past, tunnels in the belly of space that led to galaxies beyond his wildest dreams.
…As you will if you want to live…will if you want to live…
Mustering all his strength, Loki reached and the fabric of the universe shuddered, groaned under the onslaught of his attack. And miracle of miracles, it tore. Darting out like a firefly, he soared, fell and his fingers clamped on the edge of something hard. For a moment he hung there in limbo. Then a force stronger than gravity took hold of the weakened god and before he could decide if this was where he ought to go, it grabbed him, pulled him in and Loki, drained of his powers and shackled, passed out.
She was twenty-two and for all intents and purposes, she had buried herself away from the world.
Jane Foster sat by the lake, unaware of the flicker of lightning across a clear blue sky. The morning sun shone down, illuminating the waters, glancing off the windows of her father's house but doing little to chase away the pallor on her face.
" In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman/Rises toward her day after day…" Yes, that was it. This glassy surface reminded her of a mirror. If she tried hard enough, she would be able to hear her mother's soft voice, reading. She would see them again, a trinity made whole. Her father would be buried in his medical journals, her mother would be reading while writing her latest novel, Jane would just be there, comfortable in the knowledge that all was right with the world.
Not anymore. Eight months ago she had woken up and found that the funeral had long since been over. Erik Selvig, an old family friend and brilliant astrophysicist whom Jane suspected had been in love with her mother all his life, had taken care of the arrangements, had seen to it that she had been admitted to the best hospital in the state, had acted on behalf of non-existent relatives because that had been written into her parents' will. She had money, enough of it. What Jane feared was that she had lost her heart.
It was difficult to feel anything. She was not even angry with the driver who had ploughed into all three of them as they crossed the road, simply because he had wanted to shave a few minutes off his travel time. Her parents had flung themselves in front of her. Her last memory was of her blond and brown-eyed father, staring at her in terror as he tried to shield his wife. It had been like looking in a mirror. Maybe if she got angry, she would never stop being angry. That was how Jane rationalised it anyway.
Trips to the counsellor and various psychologists did nothing to pull her out of her shell. "I'm okay," she insisted when Erik wanted to bring her to yet another doctor. "I don't want to talk about it."
She tried to drop out of university; instead she received an indefinite leave of absence. The first time she drew the curtains over the windows, Jane realised that not looking at the stars could be a source of comfort. It had been harder to get rid of her textbooks on astrophysics. She managed to bin them by sneaking down the stairs early in the morning and rearranging the books on the shelf in the guestroom Erik had prepared for her. And then one morning he had caught her and between her angry refusals and his adamant insistence that she seek help, Jane decided to leave, especially when the family lawyer called to inform her that Dr Foster's last purchase had been a lake house. It was far away enough, the setting was as isolated as it got and best of all, nobody there would know her.
One short letter and plane ticket later, she was off and alone. "I'll call once a week," she had promised in deep blue ink on the page she slipped under Erik's room door. Others might have thought she looked peaceful, sitting on the plane with the screen down and the supplied headphones over her ears. Jane knew better; she was just blessedly numb.
"Rises towards her day after day," Jane mouthed the words, feeling them on her tongue. "Like a terrible fish." As though to punctuate her sentence, something nearby hopped into the water with a disturbingly loud splash, startling her. And because she finally looked up, Jane Foster saw that the sky was a churning mass of roiling clouds that looked more solid than any she had ever seen in her life. Wind struck the water then, throwing up waves before it smashed them, turned them into little liquid missiles that struck her repeatedly as she gasped and retreated.
Wiping her face and eyes, she looked up once more and blinked. For the first time in a very long time, something wrenched at her chest, an emotion that she was intimately acquainted with. Fear. For the sky had somehow lowered itself and the clouds were writhing, serpentine as they danced circles around a spot that seemed to fold in on itself and…open.
She was mad. Maybe Erik was right; she should have seen those doctors. Or taken the medication. She was hallucinating, although the scrape of fingernails on her flesh felt real enough to convince her that she was still in the real world. A slap later and Jane knew she was. What eluded her still was the fact that a giant wormhole was forming above the lake and near the shore where she was standing.
Aliens. The apocalypse. And then it was impossible to think above the wild howling that formed and she dropped to her knees, fingers digging into the soil as the wind threatened to toss her like a leaf. The lightning was bright enough to light up the darkness behind closed lids and Jane screamed in terror. She had to get out, get into the house for cover.
At the moment when she opened her eyes, she saw a figure—a person— fall like a comet into the water. And everything went still. The wind dissipated, the clouds stilled as white began to diffuse through them once more. The lake, like Plath's mirror, swallowed him immediately.
For a long second, Jane could only stare at the spot, utterly lost. Then something in her moved, snapped. "Shit," she swore, kicking off her shoes and throwing her jacket to the ground before plunging into the lake.
"Eyes on the spot, Jane. Head above water," she muttered as she swam for all she was worth. When she reached the place where she was sure he had fallen, Jane sucked in a deep breath and dived. In spite of the sting, she kept her eyes wide open. But the storm had stirred the mud beneath and the water was cloudy. Surfacing again, she inhaled before going back down. Lungs burning, she searched around, a strange desperation filling her. For what seemed like endless minutes, she travelled between the world above and the one below, hands grasping, feet kicking to stay under.
She couldn't lose him, whatever he was. She could not standstill and do nothing. Not again. When her hand snagged something solid and she felt an arm beneath her fingers, she grabbed, pulled him closer. He was a lot heavier than she expected but fierce determination and what she suspected was a hell of a dose of adrenaline lent her the strength she needed. Jane gasped greedily as she broke the water's surface, drawing air into almost emptied lungs. Slipping her arms beneath his, she cushioned his body with her own as she struck out for the shore.
It wasn't until he fell from her hands onto the wet shore that she saw the mask. It looked like a device someone would use on Hannibal Lector and equally bizarre. Dropping to her knees, Jane felt frantically behind his head, pulling and tugging. To her relief, it slipped off, as though the fall had loosened or partially dislodged it somehow. She tried not to notice the chains on his hands as she opened his mouth, sealed her own over it and exhaled, her fingers pinching his nostrils shut. Next, slender fingers traced a quick path down his chest, found the spot she was looking for and she folded her hands together, pressing down hard again and again.
"Breathe. Breathe," she murmured, unaware of her quiet chanting in between the breaths of air she gave him. She did not see the slight flickering of eyelids, not until he opened them and Jane Foster found herself staring into the most mesmerising eyes she had ever seen.
Green like emeralds. Green for envy. Green like a sea of clovers. They were, she decided there and then, magical.