rodlox (rodlox) wrote,
rodlox
rodlox

(WIP) "Our life decides the penalty"...part 1b

part 1b is this page.

part 1a is here.
part 1b is here.
part two is here.



Thor wasn't sure he understood. "Why do you want to join the Einherjar, Sif?"



"So I can fight in battles and conflicts and, if we have another, in war," Sif said.



"So be a warrior."


"Unlike your new best friend Freya, I am not nobility."


"She's just a friend," Thor muttered.



"For you have a nobility all your own," Loki said.



"Loki's right, you're a noblewoman," Thor said. "Your father is - was War."



"And possessed no estates or lands. I do not care to always be begging others for the use of their lands so I may train," Sif said. "If I join the Einherjar, I will have the use of their exercise yards and training fields."


"But they're mortal!"


"And half their ranks are women," Loki pointed out. "Which do you think matters more to our good friend Sif?"



"I'm sorry, Sif," Thor said, then had an idea: "What about the Valkyries? You could join them! They're all women."


You noticed that, did you? Loki thought, his smile hidden.

"The Valkyries are reinforcements for when all other reinforcements have been already called up," Sif said. "Besides, their main purpose is to select men and women for the Einherjar." And they last did that a thousand years ago.

~~

The PRESENT:

"Sounds like you and Loki got along great," Natasha said.

Sif gave a nod.

"So...what's the problem? I've been given the impression there is a problem," Bruce said.

"I am the nearest person to a friend Loki has," Sif said.

"Still not seeing how that's a problem."

"As Allfather, Odin has declared that I am to pick how Loki is to be punished. For I am his friend."

"I see," Bruce says, and he does. "Sort of like trial by champion, is what it sounds like." If he's unable to fight his best when he's being tested and tried, he picks a second - someone he trusts with his life, because those would be the stakes.

"It is," Sif says. "Would that Loki still consider himself part of the royal family, I would volunteer for that duty."

"I never really understood things like that."

Sif gives him a look.

"Is it a duty if you volunteer for it?" Bruce clarified. "A task or a calling, more like. But that's just me," making a vague and don't-listen-to-me-I-don'-t-know-what-I'm-talking-about-anymore gesture with his hands.

That earns him a smile. "Thank you," is what she says. Anyone else would tell me to not volunteer, to do my duty and no more.

Natasha had no problem with the comfortable silence that descended after that. But she did have a question, one she asked after she felt they'd basked in it long enough. "So you joined the Einherjar?"

"I did," Sif said. "Though the Allmother - Frigga - made it conditional."

"That sounds ominous," Bruce said.

"She said she did not wish me to spend all my time among mortals, so I had to agree to spend several years away from them - and to do this at least once every generation."

"Generation?" I know you mentioned they have babies and that they aren't dead, but I still thought they would have gotten the same long lives as everyone else in Asgard.

Sif nodded. "The Valkyries did not pluck the dead from battlefields - they selected from among the dying. Those who had distinguished themselves, those who had tried with all they had, and those whose cleverness had nearly carried the day."

"Where were some of the places you went during your time away?" Natasha asked.

"Trained with the princes, mostly. And with whomever was the latest to join their cohort of friends. Sometimes, we went to Midgard. Earth."

~~~



Nearly every time we go to Midgard… she thought with annoyance. This time it was Loki who had wandered off. Thor volunteered to check the woods to see if his brother had dozed off while out on a stroll. Fandral had offered to inquire with the settlement’s lords and ladies if any had seen him. And Sif…



Sif found Loki in what passed for a Great Hall in these parts of northern Midgard. She watched from the shadows by the door as Loki, animated and as full of smiles as his audience, spun a tale that took Sif a few moments to recognize it. Mauled it a bit and simplified its repair to something almost metaphorical…but I’ve heard worse accounts from some of my father’s old friends.



“The wall was almost complete, and I’ve said what fate would have befallen the loser, haven’t I?” Loki asked, a rhetorical device that escaped some of his audience, much as it would have escaped some listeners in Asgard. “So it fell to me to bring a stop to what would have been a Giant victory.”



“How did you save the day?” asked Godwinson, his host, one of the earls or something about the same in these parts.



Stepping into the light, “Yes, Loki, please tell us, however did you demonstrate your skills at the Battle of Wallbuild?” Sif asked, chuckling. Particularly since it was a billion and a half years before either of us were born. “We’re just dying to know.”



“I…um…it was simplicity itself, you see,” Loki said. “The Giants were tired from their efforts and –“



“And they went to sleep?” Godwinson asked, sorely disappointed.



“Oh no, you’re right, that would be too easy,” Loki said, and pulled a face, suddenly having a hard time thinking.



Sif watched with interest, grabbing a drink from someone passing by, and looked down her nose at him as she drank well.



“There was a horse!” Loki blurted out abruptly, then winced at the glare Sif was leveling at him now, her drink down. “Did I mention the horse?”



“You did not,” Godwinson said. “At least, not that I recall.”



“There was one,” Loki assured him. “Gotten stuck carting things to and fro for them; sad, really. Well, I had to use my magic to make myself presentable –“



Sif snorted.



“- and asked the horse to come over, please, and while the Giants were wondering what was taking so long with the supplies…”


Present Day


"No!" Natasha said, and if all her years of training did nothing else, they kept her from laughing the word louder than it need be said.

"Yes!" Sif said. Thankfully, he never illustrated that story with visual aids.

"Loki actually -"

Sif nodded, her hand never leaving her glass. Misled them with few enough changes beyond replacing 'horse-faced' with 'horse.' But otherwise... I could not speak or look at him for a week afterwards. And then I nearly strangled him. "Where did you think the tale came from? Drunken minstrels betting who could tell the more outlandish tale?"

"Never bothered to think about it, but since you ask," Natasha said, smiling.

"I shall miss him," Sif said, all the humor gone from her voice.

"I thought you said death wasn't on the table."

After parsing the statement in her head, Sif said "He is not permitted to die, that is correct. But if I chose banishment for him, then I may not see him."

"May not, or you might," Natasha said.

"I misspoke," Sif said. "For us, the function of banishment is to deprive the punished one of all that is familiar. None of his family or friends or even enemies are permitted to speak to him or even to be seen by him."

"Like with Thor," having read the relevant file some time ago now.

"Yes."

"You said banishment. Is that different from exile?"

"A ban may be lifted, ended, earned a way out of; again, such as Thor. An exiling cannot be. Only the founder of a dynasty may end another's exile."

"So, we talk to Odin -" Natasha said and stopped right there from the look of panicked alarm on Sif's face. "Let me guess, it isn't done."

"If your people consider mine to be gods, think how we consider Odin," Sif said. Calming, her face relaxing, she then said "And for all that Thor says he is Odinson and of the House of Odin... Odin, son of Bor, who was the son of Buri, who founded the dynasty."

"I'm going to take a wild guess, and say that this Buri isn't around any more?"

"My grandfather said he once saw Buri around..." and Sif did the math in her head, "five million years ago. But most agree that Buri died thirty million years ago. At least that recently."

In lieu of saying something to that - and what could I say? - Natasha took another sip and noticed that her glass was nearly empty.

But Sif explained, "My grandfather was a baby at the time, much as I was an infant and he a very old man when he told me." Sif sighed. "Grandfather would have liked Loki. Someone to take on fishing trips."

~~~

~~~

The PRESENT:

"As he grew away from everyone, Loki grew sharper, more focused in his intent," Sif said, standing in the middle of the room.

"That happens to lots of people. They don't all go out and invade cities," Banner said, working the tv remote, trying to find that clip. Tony made a point of letting me know he had it on his DVR, so may as well let the cat out of the bag...since she's the one person who doesn't already know I have a cat.

"No, some do greater harm, true. We all have things we can become," she said. "For my skills, I was hailed by my enemies as Angrboda, the Bringer Of Sorrows," and she noticed Bruce and Natasha sharing a look. "What?"

"Maybe that story's wrong too?" Bruce suggested.

"What story?" Sif asked, having not yet finished all the books she had borrowed from the library.

Natasha said, "Angrboda's supposedly the wife or lover of Loki. In the myths."

"No, that's true," Sif said. "Or it was. We didn't talk for a great long while, but eventually we had sense beaten into us, and we got along. By the time of Thor's banishment, we were friends again."

Angry sex? That can work. "And then he tried to conquer New York."

"Thor has regaled all of Asgard - and then some - with the tales of Loki's attempted conquest. I am surprised he needed so much help."

"What?" both humans asked.

"What, because he failed?" Bruce asked. That's one of the perennial excuses for failing to get something done, isn't it - that you don't have enough men?

"Because he is Loki," Sif said. "We needed fewer people with us when we besieged the military compounds of Niflheim. And that was a time when he would have underdone nothing."

"Then what do you think happened?" Natasha asked her.

"I do not yet know. Loki has not spoken of his experience between falling from Asgard and crushing SHIELD's base underfoot." Glancing at Bruce's fingers, "What are you doing?"

The tv screen flared to life, with the Other Guy filling almost all of the screen, flattening much of what else was onscreen with him, before leaping over a mile to the site of his next battle with tanks and other doomed objects.

That image paused. "That's what I become," Bruce said. "What I call 'the Other Guy', and Tony calls a rage monster, and Agent Hill called a..."

"A what?" Natasha asked him. "Or are our ears too delicate?"

"No. Mine are." And he noticed Sif walking up to the screen, examining the Other Guy like he was something half-familiar.

"This is you?" Sif asked for confirmation.

"Yes. Can I ask, uh, why?"

Said it with half her mouth quirked in a little smile, "Loki's defeat makes more sense now."

"Again. Can I ask why?" Bruce asked.

"Children," she breathed to herself.

~~

.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.


........................................


~~~


...{Sif and Natasha in Asgard}

"You may speak," Odin said.

Natasha had a feeling that Asgardians put their thrones on elevated platforms for the same reason humans did - either to deny petitioners eye contact or looking upon the royal person, or to force any petitioner to bend their neck to a vulnerable degree. And then she beheld Odin.

This is the man who crucified himself, Natasha thought, knowing the signs to look for, and seeing them. Who tore out his own eye. Who slept with nine women to have one son, though part of Natasha still suspected Sif and Thor had been pulling her leg when they had told her that about Heimdall's parentage.

She knew Tony Stark had no compunctions against using his wealth and resources to get any answers he wanted, no matter what barriers were placed in his path. Even unarmored, the man could be a steamroller when the mood struck him. (...)

She knew Nick Fury had the command of a vast, planetary network and did not, would not hesitate to use it when needed. He too was a steamroller - or an atom bomb - but he also knew how to be a broom or tweezers, when a more civil and careful approach was called for. (...)

Seeing Odin, she knew that he was at least the equal of those two men in sheer will and access. And while Thor had opened up about a number of things regarding Asgard, he was still tight-lipped about how few or how many of the old myths were true about Odin the Allfather.

Sif lowered herself onto one knee, while Natasha stayed standing.

"My lord, my king, the Most High, Allfather, Hanged One," Sif started, going down the list of his titles and names.

"No," Odin said.

Natasha thought, Then why allow her to speak? What's the point of letting her organize her thoughts if you're not going to -- unless that is the point. You read minds, do you? Though, she knew, there was another option: Prefer to save the multitude of names for more formal situations, do you?

"I had held a hope that you wished to speak of any other matter. But your answer is no, Sif. For I know you. And you could not stop in this task even if I ordered you to."

...

...

“No doubt your brother is pleased that he will become War when he is of age,” Sif said.

Loki’s smile this time was thoughtful with tinges of speculation as to what a thing could mean.

“Loki?” Sif asked, calling him on it.

“Oh you are correct, Sif. Thor would leap through time to that day if he knew how to. He does desire to be War. But he also wishes to lead a brave band of warriors on…what was that word the Midgardr humans used for their forays of exploration and raiding and trade?”

“To go a-viking,” she supplied, knowing perfectly well that Loki forgot nothing, ever.

“A-viking, yes, is what Thor would do with the remainder of his life, if he could.”

You, me, Thor, Fandral. “Is four people enough to go a-viking?”


“We could find out,” Loki offered.


...

~~~

...

~~~

“It is not that funny,” Sif grumbled.

“It is,” Hogun said, and Fandral nodded, barely repressing a grin himself.

“Remember that I know where you both sleep,” she warned them, not that it stopped them from finding humor in the situation. Just this once, I can understand the mortal desire for Wishful Thinking – that ‘if I do not look behind me, there will not be anyone following me.’

“We know,” Fandral said, “and soon they will as well. Or rather more specifically, they will know where you sleep.”

“I cannot find their parents,” Thor said, rejoining them at last. “Have you learned their names as yet?”

“Are they still behind me?” Sif asked.

“Of course. What troubles you, friend?”

“Being followed.” Or rather, being followed by something we’re not to defeat.

“They are only children,” Thor said, which just set Fandral and Hogun laughing.

“Children who have followed our friend Sif like hungry puppies,” Loki said, literally appearing from another direction.

Facing a wall of faces sympathetic to the mortals’ plight, Sif groaned and turned her head to look at the two children who had been following her for the past three days:

The sister was older by some small number of years, clutching her ratty-haired brother’s hand like a treasured prize one clung to for comfort when all else railed against you. The elder sibling was mousy-haired with threads of burnished copper and warm embers, while the younger sibling had only pale brown to his name, whatever it was.

“Why are all the hard decisions left to me?” Sif asked. “My being the only one sensible enough to know what we shouldn’t do, makes me the bad guy, the wicked giantess.”

“You are a good giantess,” Loki said.

“But still the giantess in this setting,” she grumbled. “While our good nobles exclaim how nice it would be to let this pair tag along for years. Though I notice none of you have suggested claiming them as your own.”

"I'd not be adverse to it," Fandral said, "even though I'm not the one they seem to like."

"Gudrun would be..." Volstagg started to say, and shook his head. "I cannot."

"Allergies," Hogun said.

"What of the Einherjar?" Loki asked. "They took you in."

Thor nodded. "And it is what they do, yes, taking the lost and cast-aside and broken of humans, and molding them into warriors. Though we are none of us Valkyries, we can still -"

“We can not take them to Asgard,” Sif said. “Not least of the reasons is that it is illegal. Even for a child of Odin."

Thor made a noise.

“She’s right, though, Thor,” Loki said. “Father’s first treaty with Laufey says that neither side can take hostages from Midgard – and not even the Jotunn War renders it moot. Simply unilateral.”

“They are not hostages, brother,” Thor said. “They are lost imps we can help.”

“Then help find them a family to take them in. Summon lightning and proclaim it a divine commandment, if it will help.”

Thor considered that.

“Or we could stay here,” Fandral suggested. “They aren’t hostages if they’re still on Midgard, am I right? What’s a decade or two between friends?”

“Let me make it clearer,” Sif told him, told all four of them; “I am not keeping them, be it on Asgard or on Midgard.”

“You fear becoming a housewife,” Hogun said, firing the arrow right in the proverbial hole.

“By showing up with two children in tow? Yes! It will be taken as a victory against me, that for all my skills, my place is at the hearth.”

“It is late,” Thor said, using a local idiom. “Let us find a place to rest. In the morning, we shall make one further attempt to find a place for the siblings, and if we cannot… we decide then and not before.”

The two children ran the short distance which had been between them and Sif, and wrapped their arms around her in a hug.

Sif looked down on them, wondering if they were enough like puppies to be bribed away to somewhere else…perhaps an earl’s residence, or at least the home of a carl; no reason to leave the pair with a poor couple or slaves. Then, out the corner of one eye, she noticed Loki was watching all of this. And the absence of commentary or remark on his part, it made her wary. “What?” she asked him.

“Nothing. I said nothing.”

“Precisely.”

Which just made Fandral laugh harder.

~

Sure enough, upon their return to Asgard, the lot of them were escorted straight to Odin’s throne room. Even the two human children.

“Who is responsible for this?” Odin asked. “Was it one of your number?”

Sif had barely opened her mouth to accept responsibility for it, when –

Loki stepped forward, arms outstretched as he said, “Father, while I can tell a lie, know that this is not one of them. I –“

“My good brother means well,” Thor said, stepping forward himself. “But it was I who thought to bring the siblings to Asgard with us.”

Hoenir save us all from the overchivalrous, Sif felt. “All-Seeing AllFather,” she said, “you know as well as I that it was me whom the children were following. Your sons refused to leave me behind on Midgard when it came time to decide.”

One corner of Odin’s mouth quirked up in a faint smile. “You each claim sole responsibility?” Odin asked them.

Nods from Sif, Loki, Thor, Fandral, and Hogun.

“Then there is only one solution.”

The five awaited what Odin would say.

“You must take them to Jotunheim.”

“What?” Loki asked.

“My King!” Fandral exclaimed.

“Father, why?” Thor asked.

Sif knelt.

“Because, my son,” Odin replied, standing at his throne, “when one says he will do something, it is incumbent upon him to keep his word.”

“They’re children,” was Loki’s objection, Thor echoing him.

Odin got a very sad look in his eye, and said, “A king’s role is not to make the easy choices.”







~~~



Another stellar birth, another evening party, Loki thought as he watched the feasting and dancing from the bench he had been quick to occupy when Thor’s friends left it. It might actually be notable if Yggdrasil weren’t festooned with the things already.



He had no idea that Sif had been wandering around to avoid being pulled into a dance, until she found herself standing behind Loki’s seat.



Given the festivities, the serving staff and drink-pourers had been dismissed to enjoy the evening with everyone else once the food and drink had been brought out.



Walking a straight line towards Loki was a younger boy called Hod, who was eating off one of the beast’s thighs as he walked.



Normally once Allmother and Allfather take whatever serving size they wish, nobody else can achieve such a well-sized piece, given appetites and cutting skills, Loki mused.



“One of the advantages of being me,” Hod said conversationally when he was near, though Loki couldn’t be sure Hod knew he was there, “is nobody tries to stop me at the serving tables,” and his lips were turned in what Loki knew from personal experience to be both amusement and disgust. “Might I sit here, my prince?”



“You do not fear being seen in my company?” Loki asked. Most are.



Hod snorted as he sat. “I could not be more invisible if I had a spell cloaking me, my prince. If I am spoken of at all, it is as Baldur’s brother, which invite comparisons which praise him.”



“Commiseration with me will earn you no favors with others,” Loki said, feeling that warning him was the right thing to do, even if Loki did appreciate the understanding.



Hod lifted the shank as if to prove his indifference.



“You may use knives and prefer them more than swords and spears, but at least you are trusted anywhere near a battlefield.” And, continuing, Hod told Loki “Believe me when I say that even without who your father is, you are a sight better marriage prospect than I am.”



“Only a sight better,” Loki replied in the same friendliness with which Hod had offered.



“And at the risk of ending this good mood and incurring your wrath, have you asked the Lady Sif to dance yet?”



’Lady’ is perhaps the one title she neither wants nor cares for. “She would not want to,” Loki said. “It would be an inconvenience for her to bother with me and my treading toes.”



Sif frowned. Let me decide that.



His voice surprised, Hod asked “You would refuse her?”



I have to hear this, Sif thought.



“I refuse nothing,” Loki said. “I simply am sure that she is finding her time this evening better spent in the company of those who are not me.”



“That was not what I asked,” Hod said.



“It was how I answered.”



Hod paused, then in a clear voice that only carried just far enough for this, “My Lady?”



Loki’s head jerked up, looking every which way…until he was looking right at Sif, which was a bit uncomfortable since she was standing a fair bit behind him.



Neither of them would ever agree on which of them had been first to bolt away like skittish colts.



~~~






~~~


...{Sif and Natasha in Asgard}

"You may speak," Odin said.

Natasha had a feeling that Asgardians put their thrones on elevated platforms for the same reason humans did - either to deny petitioners eye contact or looking upon the royal person, or to force any petitioner to bend their neck to a vulnerable degree. And then she beheld Odin.

This is the man who crucified himself, Natasha thought, knowing the signs to look for, and seeing them. Who tore out his own eye. Who slept with nine women to have one son, though part of Natasha still suspected Sif and Thor had been pulling her leg when they had told her that about Heimdall's parentage.

She knew Tony Stark had no compunctions against using his wealth and resources to get any answers he wanted, no matter what barriers were placed in his path. Even unarmored, the man could be a steamroller when the mood struck him. (...)

She knew Nick Fury had the command of a vast, planetary network and did not, would not hesitate to use it when needed. He too was a steamroller - or an atom bomb - but he also knew how to be a broom or tweezers, when a more civil and careful approach was called for. (...)

Seeing Odin, she knew that he was at least the equal of those two men in sheer will and access. And while Thor had opened up about a number of things regarding Asgard, he was still tight-lipped about how few or how many of the old myths were true about Odin the Allfather.

Sif lowered herself onto one knee, while Natasha stayed standing.

"My lord, my king, the Most High, Allfather, Hanged One," Sif started, going down the list of his titles and names.

"No," Odin said.

Natasha thought, Then why allow her to speak? What's the point of letting her organize her thoughts if you're not going to -- unless that is the point. You read minds, do you? Though, she knew, there was another option: Prefer to save the multitude of names for more formal situations, do you?

"I had held a hope that you wished to speak of any other matter. But your answer is no, Sif. For I know you. And you could not stop in this task even if I ordered you to."
Tags: loki, sif, thor, thor fanfiction, wip, wips
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 0 comments