- Alternate Universe
This is a sequel to Families.
“Are you saying I actually am Odin’s son?” Loki demanded.
Vili shrugged. “It seems like it, yes. I know I didn’t have sex with Laufey and neither did Vé. As for Odin… well, his relationship with Laufey was always both passionate and complex. I don’t know for sure but I wouldn’t be surprised. And you have to admit that there is a resemblance between you and Hela.”
Loki opened his mouth to disagree, then closed it again. Thinking back, he had to admit that there really was a resemblance, certainly more than between here and Thor. Thor probably took more after his mother.
At that moment Helblindi returned with another Jotun, probably his sire Fárbauti. Fárbauti looked Loki up and down. “Well, that explains a lot. You come at it from both sides.”
“Pardon?” Loki had no idea what he was talking about.
“Laufey and Odin were both drama queens,” Fárbauti said, “so I guess your overblown reaction was to be expected.”
Vili coughed to hide his laughter at the assessment of his brother and nephew. He wasn’t very successful.
“Father, Loki is offering to return the Casket,” Blýeistr said. He hoped that would change the subject. He was not interested in speculating about how his youngest brother had been conceived.
Fárbauti considered the Casket Loki was still holding. “It would be a great help in rebuilding, more so if Loki agrees to offer his assistance. It has been while since Jotunheim has had the services of an ice mage. The last one, I believe, was Laufey’s sire.”
Loki looked down at the Casket, then back up at Fárbauti. “Are you certain?”
“Your appearance certainly suggests it. Ice mages are often less physically imposing, though most Jotun can change their size and shape to at least some extent. Tell me, Loki, when you are near the Casket, does it seem to speak or sing to you? What about the ice here around you that has been magically altered? In a fight, do you have a preference for daggers and short swords?”
Loki remained silent. He felt exposed at having a stranger correctly predict so much about him, things he had never talked about with anyone, not even his mother – or the woman he had thought of as his mother.
Fárbauti smiled, trying to put him at ease. Seeing him was strange. He was still quite young, obviously, hardly of age if he had to guess. He could see much of a younger Laufey in his features, back before he became king, before the war with Asgard. It made him feel nostalgic. “From what I remember Consort (NAME5) telling me, it’s typical for an ice mage. They are vicious fighters, often using daggers made of ice they conjure. Seeing them fight is like watching a dance, graceful but deadly. And yet for all that they are fighters, they are also often gifted artists.” He motioned at the walls around them. “You’ve seen some of what they have created. Unfortunately we lost most of them in the war.”
“Could I see more of what they created?” Loki asked.
“Of course,” Fárbauti replied. “I’m sure you also have many questions. Odin obviously failed to teach you anything about your heritage. Helblindi and I can show you around and answer some of them while Blýeistr and Vili discuss the new alliance between our people.”
“Father!” Blýeistr protested. He was supposed to just stay behind for politics while Fárbauti and Helblindi got to know his baby brother?
Helblindi grinned at him. “Sorry, brother, you’re the king. I’m sure you’ll have some other opportunity to get to know Loki.” He didn’t wait for a reply from Blýeistr, instead gently urging Loki out of the room.
Loki looked to Vili, unsure if it was really okay for him to go with them but Vili just waved him on, smiling indulgently.
As they walked and Fárbauti and Helblindi told him about the symbolism behind the reliefs on the walls, Loki kept glancing at Fárbauti, trying to understand his reaction. Finally he had to ask. “Do you not mind? That I am the result of your husband having an affair, I mean.”
“It’s not unusual for us here to have relations outside a marriage, at least if all parties are in agreement. Life is hard here and we take comfort where we can. Laufey told me that he had slept with Odin before the last round of peace talks fell through, so we suspected that you might be his but it didn’t matter to me. If Odin hadn’t taken you from the temple, you would have been raised by Laufey and me as a prince of Jotunheim, just like your two brothers.” He paused. “Well, you would have had some individual training as ice mage, of course, but otherwise it would have been no different to Blýeistr and Helblindi’s upbringing. You would have had the same right to the throne as them.”
Loki was confused for a moment until he rememberd Blýeistr saying that Laufey had been king because he had born children. If Blýeistr was now king, did that mean he had nephews or nieces? He did not feel comfortable asking however.
Luckily for him Helblindi was happy to talk about his family. “Blýeistr’s husband and children are visiting some of their sire’s relatives, so you can’t meet them today. Perhaps when you visit the next time.”
Loki expected it to feel presumptive that Helblindi was already planning his next visit when he had not even agreed yet to return but in the face of his happiness at having him there, he could not work up any ire. Returning and using the Casket to help rebuild Jotunheim would surely go a long way in helping establish an alliance between Jotunheim and Asgard. And perhaps he would even get to learn more about his heritage and learn new kinds of magic.
Tony was waiting at the door. He kept looking down the driveway, waiting for his guests. Alexander had called, asking if he was still interested in having a look at his armour. Another suit of flying armour, though with adjustments to allow the pilot to use magic. Of course Tony had agreed. Alexander had even agreed to bring the Spiderling along when he made the journey from New York City. Now if they would just arrive. He briefly glanced to the lawn where Erik and Hank were training with Rhodey, T’Chall and Stephen.
He looked up at the sound of a helicopter coming closer. He tensed as it came closer, then started to land. He’d heard some of the stories of people attacking the Institute and hoped the current students would be spared the experience and the three newly online Sentinels the stress of another fight.
He relaxed when he saw the Spiderling, out of costume, waving from the cockpit. Judging from the red hair he could not see peak out from under the helmet, he figured Alexander was piloting.
Alexander shook his head, running a hand through his shoulder-length red hair after taking off the helmet. “Seriously, I don’t understand why they insist on it. Mom and Dad aren’t wearing one when they fly it.”
Tony just gave him a look. “A helicopter? Really?”
“You really have no room to talk, Tones,” Rhodey pointed out, having come closer with the other Sentinels.
Tony pointed at him. “Hush you.”
Alexander shrugged. “It’s quicker than a car. And I’ve been flying one longer than I’ve been driving a car.” He pointed at Peter over his shoulder. “And I would have been harder to bring him along if I had taken just the suit.”
“But you brought it?” Tony asked.
Alexander rolled his eyes. “I promised, didn’t I? Pop agreed to let you take a look at one of his own suits, one without the changes to for me to use it and still use my magic. He also gave me some of the specs of older versions and the armour I’m using. He did ask that you sign a standard NDA but he and Dad are willing to discuss the ideas behind some of the schematics, especially the ones protecting the pilot from magic.”
“No problem,” Tony replied. “But what about Peter?”
Alexander shrugged. “Frankly, he doesn’t have the means to build one. Plus Dad figured the internship contract you arranged for him with SI will cover it.”
“It should, yes.” Tony glanced at the Sentinels. “Rhodey and some of the others might pass by. At least if he can refrain from such slander.” Rhodey held his hands up in surrender, grinning. “So I hope you have a few copies of the agreement.” When he nodded, Tony turned back to the door. “Then let’s go down to the lab and take a look, Alexander.”
“You can call me Alex, you know?” Alexander pointed out. “Everyone does. I’m used to only being called Alexander if I’ve done some mischief.”
“Then you should be used to being called Alexander,” Tony said drily. “But it’s more that here you’ll get confused with Havok, Alex Summers.”
“At least you get called by your name,” Peter said. “I’m getting called Spiderling.”
“Yeah well, I’m of age, Spiderling,” Alexander replied.
Peter pouted. He looked to Tony, the one who had come up with the nickname. “You could at least call me Spiderman.”
“Not happening, Spiderling.”
Loki resisted the urge to push Banner along. He had been so lost in learning about ice magic and Vili in catching up with some relatives on his mother’s side that they had stayed a day longer than intended. It normally wouldn’t have been a problem but before they had left Vili had sent a message to Vanaheim, informing them of their desire to visit and meet the Queen. Writing them now to say they would be coming a day later would probably set them off to a bad start for the negotiations.
He had also promised Thor that he would take Banner to the US to visit Stark, thinking he might have the opportunity to annoy Strange some more. Banner had offered to postpone his visit but Loki had decided to stick to his word. Banner would just have to wait until their return to be picked up or find alternate means of transport.
He stopped short in the doorway to the lab where Stark was with two others, the teenager calling himself Spiderman (Loki agreed that Stark’s nickname Spiderling seemed more fitting) and a young red head. It was the latter who drew his attention. Seeing the armour in the corner, he figured it was Alexander, the fighter who had used both technology and magic to fight. He had had a suspicion then but had not seen him out of the armour to tell for sure. “You’re not human,” he stated.
“Yes, I am.” Alexander said, then conceded: “Well, for the most part. My grandma on Mom’s side of the family isn’t. It’s where I got my magic.” He regarded him. “You’re Loki, right?”
“I’m Alexander. I’m to tell you hello from my Dad. And that you were lucky we were visiting grandpop Petros back in 2012.”
Loki was taken aback, both by the greeting and the casual threat. “I don’t know any Midgardians, aside from Thor’s shield brothers and sisters,” he said after a lengthy pause.
Alexander rolled his eyes. “Pop is human but Dad isn’t. It’s why he’s also the one to teach me and sometimes Mom to use our magic. He’ll be pleased you couldn’t tell I’m mostly human.”
Loki considered replying but then just shook his head. “I have to get going. We are leaving for Vanaheim later. Remember, Banner, we will return tomorrow at the earliest, so I can’t take you back to Norway before that.”
“You’re going to Vanaheim?” Alexander asked. “Can I come along?”
“I will have to ask my uncle,” Loki said. “But why would you want to?”
“It’s where Dad and Grandma are from. Originally, at last. They’ve been on Earth for a while already.”
“In that case it should be possible. Just a moment, then.” Loki stepped outside to have some privacy to contact Vili.
Clint was surprised how much he was enjoying his new work. Things were absolutely crazy here, more than SHIELD and the Avengers combined, but it was also great fun. He was even willingly attending his sessions with one of the MiB psychologists. It helped that when he had told her about being mind-controlled and everything that had followed, it hadn’t appeared to phase her in the least. She’d just nodded and given him the dates of the group sessions for agents having been mind-controlled. Group sessions. Clint wasn’t sure if he should be relieved that there were so many who understood what he had been through or worried how common it seemed to be here.
Kay had arranged for him to work with Jay, his ex-partner, for the time being. It was great for him, not only because they shared the same sense of humour but also because the time spend in the car together gave them opportunity to talk. Jay could relate to some of what Clint was struggling with now. Jay knew from personal experience what it was like for a partner to return but not directly with all his memories, to have to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of grieving for your partner only for him to be alive after all.
Clint wondered if that had been Kay’s intention. Considering he was Phil’s father, he wouldn’t be surprised.
Jay slid back into the driver seat, carrying a pizza carton. He offered Clint a piece. They ate in companionable silence. Then Clint said: “I’m ready. But I’m also staying.”