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: Hi everyone, here's another chapter. The Muse is burning my candle on both ends. And as always, it was a pleasure to read your comments and to know that what I'm doing is actually working (!). So, if you liked this, let me know. If you have suggestions, better yet.
Over the Rainbow
"Now, unchain me." He holds out his hands, straightening his arms and she cannot help but notice the sinewy muscles beneath his skin. He is lean, almost slender but Jane knows she cannot overpower him. Even in his weak state, there is something about him that reminds her of a cobra, crouched and ready to spring. One strike and she would be dead. It would be all too easy to crush her neck with those metal links. She had been a fool to think leaving them on would contain him.
The mortal, Loki realises, is extremely afraid of him and growing more so by the minute. Yet she hesitates, slides in her lower lip just the littlest bit to bite on it as her trembling fingers close the small distance between, hovering over the cuffs. Jane Foster is damnably foolish and if he were a better man, he would consider her brave. "It will not do to make me repeat myself," he says quietly, soundly perfectly reasonable. She shivers and a warm feeling courses through Loki.
He is unprepared though, for the jolt that runs through him as she touches the enchanted metal, fingers feeling for clasps that are not there. The key is a spell; the chains were made to be undone only at the word of Odin himself. Loki feels the force of an entire realm's sorcerers encircling his wrists, blazing to life beneath Jane Foster's questing hands and for a fleeting moment, his eyes are opened and he sees again, touches the invisible currents in the air which the mortals have named magic. Then he hears a loud crack and as both of them gaze at his bonds, riveted, a single long line appears on either of the cuffs. It grows, sprouts more lines like roots, spirals and curls its way over the cool shining surface until it resembles an embellishment of sorts, delicate filigree painted over to disguise the nature of the items. When every inch is covered, when each tendril has found a mate to join itself to in an everlasting web, the bonds shatter. They fall, each piece as tiny as a teardrop, and melt into nothingness as mist does in the morning sun, as does the chain.
Jane cannot help her response. Her jaw drops as she stares open-mouthed at the impossible turned to reality before her eyes. If she had not done so earlier, she would have slapped herself again just to make sure that she is not dreaming, that this is happening. This shakes everything she knows and believes in. The scientist within is trying furiously to theorise where the particles have gone; matter cannot simply be unmade this way. There has to be a way to account for this. And yet everything else inside her is whispering that this is magic. The two need not be exclusive. Magic is science wrapped in mystery and myth. Yet for the moment, this is all the explanation she has.
Loki cannot help his response. He stares at the silver pieces that pour from his wrists into a pocket of space now hidden from his eyes. Power that he could not hope to break lies sundered simply at the touch of her hands. This is beyond his understanding; it is a mystery. The magical art of Asgard undone by a fragile creature who is as amazed as he is at what is happening before them. Here is a riddle he is determined to solve. In this moment, Loki knows that he must keep her alive. If he had given in to his previous desires, he might have been bound for endless days upon this planet. And without his powers, he would surely have died if forced to wander in such a fashion.
Her hands linger on his wrists, warm but frozen with inaction. "Well done." His voice breaks the silence and her gaze flies to his. Instantly, she withdraws, shrinks back and he sees in her eyes the expectation that he will now kill her. Instead, he rubs his wrists almost leisurely, taking the time to examine his hands. He tests his powers again and finds to his great disappointment that the removal of his chains has not returned even the slightest measure of the former. "Where have you placed my clothing?"
Jane swallows and realises that her mouth is completely dry. If she listens intently enough, the sound of her nervous breathing might fill the living room. "Your pants are in the dryer. I had to cut off the rest of your clothing." It occurs to her that this might anger him and she hurries to explain. "You were soaking wet and if I hadn't done it, you might have fallen sick."
"I was wet?"
"You fell into a lake."
She may be frightened but she has a way of making it sound as though he is asking about the obvious. He has no memory of that beyond falling.
"…Will if you want to live…"
He had willed it, had unleashed everything he had in order to survive. Loki knows the power of magic driven by desperation, by every ounce of the wielder's mind and heart, by desire so pure that there are no words for it. And it has brought him here, to her.
Those green eyes are shuttered even as they survey her and Jane has the very unpleasant feeling that he is thinking of what he wants to do with her. He has named himself Loki and even if she had thought he might have been mad to claim he is a god, the vanishing chains have convinced her otherwise. She wonders who bound him and what the name of that god is. These are questions that can be asked, much later. If there is a later to begin with. "W-would you like your clothes back?"
He begins to rise, feels the weakness of his form; even the bright flash of hatred towards Odin for punishing him thusly makes him exhausted. "Give me your arm," he orders and seizes it in mid-air when she moves too slowly for his liking. Ignoring her startled cry of pain, he uses her as a prop, makes her bear his weight. "Get up," he hisses and she struggles to her feet, one hand braced on his chest as she balances both of them. The top of her head barely reaches his shoulder. She is diminutive and Loki thinks that his brother will break such a woman.
She does not want to touch him but she has no choice. Jane's face is burning because god or no, he is nude and she has only been with one man and her only experience consists of hastily stolen moments with the lights out which leave her feeling vaguely unsatisfied. The stairs down to the basement prove a huge challenge, even with the aid of a banister and when they finally descend to the bottom step, she switches on only one light. She leaves him to dress in the semi-shadows, his back against the wall while hers is turned. When he is finished, he calls her name. The authoritative tone of his voice identifies it as a command; he might as well have addressed her as 'servant' or 'slave'. Rapidly, she begins to understand the role she will play.
Loki has known hunger before but this is a different kind. Its bite is more potent, more draining and he needs food, now. "I require food," he announces as she helps him back up the steps. Her brows knit together in a furrow. "Surely you have some form of sustenance in this abode?"
"In the kitchen," Jane replies. There is no dining table since her father never got around to buying one before the accident and she has been perfectly contented to eat at the counter. The sight of empty seats would have been too much to bear. After depositing him on the one chair in the place, Jane walks over to the fridge she bought during one of her rare trips to the small town two miles away. She reaches up, takes out a box and tears the side open. Switching on the oven, she pushes the tray inside and sets the timer for fifteen minutes. She hopes Norse gods like macaroni and cheese with a side of creamed corn.
Jane Foster is walking wounded. She is actively avoiding his gaze and has schooled her face into an expression that is somewhat less terrified. Her home though, is more telling of her condition. The house is barely furnished, there are no photographs that humans seem so fond of, the walls are stark white and undecorated. When she retrieved his pants from the mechanism she called a dryer, he noticed that apart from his clothing, there was only hers. This is a place for her merely to exist in. Loki wonders what the source of the pain is.
When what he guesses to be a modern version of the oven makes a sound like a bell struck once, she slips on a thick glove, opens the door and immediately Loki wrinkles his nose at the smell. As she brings the tray towards him, he realises, to his mild horror, that the food she is offering him is the source of that strange scent.
"I'll get some water for you."
When she comes back with a full glass, Jane realises that Loki is merely prodding the food. He looks somewhat fascinated as he watches the cheese adhere itself to the fork and stretch itself into a thin yellow strand as he lifts the former higher and higher into the air. Biting down on her tongue, she resists the urge to tell him to stop playing with his meal. Patiently, she waits by his side, trying not to feel the ache in her knees from having to stand on the spot. Finally, he puts some of it into his mouth. To say he looks revolted would be an understatement. It would be funny, except that gods of every myth and religion have always displayed some capacity for being capricious and this one could kill her simply because he does not like the food. However, he does surprise her by not spitting it out at once. He actually keeps it in his mouth, chewing twice before he swallows.
"This passes as food in your realm?"
"It does. It's pretty popular, actually." She wants to tell him that it is practically a staple in most houses but she doubts that will change his opinion.
"Give me something else."
"There isn't anything else."
Either she had a superpower that helped her stomach the stuff or a genetic defect that prevented her from developing a sense of taste. "Do not lie to me, mortal."
"I'm not." Before he tells her to, she is sweeping across the kitchen and pulls open the door to a contraption that keeps food chilled. It is piled full of identical boxes, all by the same brand. There is nothing else inside, save for a large bottle of water. "This is all I have."
For one moment, Loki misses Asgard, if only for the food he was accustomed to eating there. And even on Earth, he had tasted the finest it had to offer, and some of it came rather close to Asgardian standards. This however, he would wish on his worst enemies. Quickly, he weighs his options and realises there are none. The girl could not possibly know how to hunt and the last thing he wants to do is let her out of his sight. She probably could not cook, neither could he and between the both of them, they might actually produce something viler than the mess on a tray before him.
For a god, he seems rather disciplined. Jane watches as Loki steels himself, takes a deep breath and begins to eat. He barely chews, swallows very quickly and makes her refill the glass several times as he washes the mouthfuls down. "It is beyond me how you manage to eat this."
Jane catches his murmured complaint as she puts the tray in the bin. "It's just food," she says simply and misses the speculative look that flits over his face because she is trying to wipe a blob of creamed corn from her finger.
"I wish to see the rooms upstairs."
She could run, just make a wild break for it because she is much nearer to the kitchen entrance and he is presently in a weakened condition. She will never get another chance like this. It is this same thought that holds her in place, makes her grit her teeth and risk freedom and life for servitude to him. For if she runs and escapes, she can never come back. She can call the police and they will take him away, and he will probably wind up in some secret laboratory having the life wrung out of him through experiments. That way, she will never know, and in spite of herself and the wall of denial she is valiantly trying to maintain, Jane wants to know. She wants him to tell her about the wormhole, and how he opened it and where it leads to and if there are more where that one came from. She wants to ask what the stars are like and if all suns are the same. For that, she hates him because he makes it impossible to be completely numb. But she cannot let him go.
Unfortunately, the only room with a bed is hers and this, Loki claims for himself at once. The look that he gives her is one of sheer arrogance, as though he has a right to it. For a fallen god, he has a lot of attitude. Her mother could have called it cheek. And that thought does not hurt as much as it usually does either, not when she is trying not to glower at him from beneath lowered lashes. "Fine. I'll sleep on the couch downstairs."
"You will not think of running, will you Jane?" His voice is still slightly hoarse, but there is something about the way he speaks, the way his tongue shapes each word to make it sound so silken. And in that genteel softness is steel.
"No," she replies, wishing her voice would at least rise a few octaves above a semi-whisper. But when he looks at her like that, he takes her breath away because she has never seen anything quite as menacing.
"Why is the library almost empty?"
The question hits her like a bolt from the blue. Inside, she snarls because he has just dug a finger into a wound and the bastard knows it, is enjoying it because he smiles and it is almost tender. It takes less than than four steps to walk past that room and she knows because she has counted. He should not even have noticed and she wonders how much he has really seen.
"I don't have books." It is an honest reply, and as much of a non-answer as she can come up with.
"None on the planets, the constellations, the mechanics of the universe? What you people term 'astrophysics'."
"An entirely overrated subject." Cold brown eyes meet his as she raises her chin. "As are the constellations." Without asking for permission, Jane slips out of the room and his grasp, for the present.
Now that, Loki muses as he leans back into the soft pillows, is by far the most interesting thing she has said all day. Her footsteps on the stairs fade away but he is not worried. She may not wish to look him in the eye but whenever she thinks he is not looking, she is transfixed by him. Jane Foster is practically eaten alive by curiosity, although she may choose to pretend otherwise. That is something he can relate to, the relentless drive to unravel the unknown.
Loki drifts back to sleep, content in the knowledge that he has Jane Foster securely under his thumb, even without the use of magic.