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Desert skulls and other such exhibitions

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“If I were a younger man, I would write a history of human stupidity; and I would climb to the top of Mount McCabe and lie down on my back with my history for a pillow; and I would take from the ground some of the blue-white poison that makes statues of men; and I would make a statue of myself, lying on my back, grinning horribly, and thumbing my nose at You Know Who.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

 

Loki collapsed on to the prison floor, thrust out of the open bars. The guards followed him, weapons slanted toward Loki's neck.
"Away."
Frigga hissed at the guards. Before she could help Loki up, he picked himself up from the floor. The struggle was obvious, muscle sore, yet he drew himself to his full height, and bowed deep. He finished his show with a grin stretched over his bared teeth.
"It is my greatest honor to greet the royal family. The queen, Allfather,"
Loki glanced sideways.
"Even the supposedly banished prince is here. Such honor for a jotun stray!"
"Loki!"
Frigga said in sharp reprimanding tone. Odin raised a hand, halting Thor.
"Loki, your punishment for your actions have been decided."
The chain clanked as Loki held up his shackled wrist. Loki grinned.
"So I am not to be thrown in to the cell and forgotten, after all. What a shame, I could have used a respite from all your idiocy."
"Enough, brother."
Thor growled.
"Well, then what is it to be? Life time of slavery? Beheading, so that I may serve well as your trophy? Thrown to the chambers below? Oh, don't look so shocked, Thor. Isn't that the usual punishment for traitors, to let them be broken? Well then, what is it, Brother? What is it!"
The screamed bounced off the grimy walls, reverberating until Loki stood, shocked in his own echoes. Another sneer drew over his stunned expression as the brief reprieve from ruthless fury ended.
"You will be banished to Midgard as a mortal."
The metal keened as it shifted, Loki pulling himself up.
"Like Thor did."
Loki muttered, and deep, low chuckle resonated off him.
"All this and you will send me to Midgard? Toy taken away, and sent to a little backwater realm? To have a little vacation, think about what I did? Realize that mortals are oh-so-special?"
"Their lives may be fleeting, yet-"
Thor stopped as Odin grunted a disapproving sound, looking at his father in askance. Loki screamed laughter again.
"And I'm sure I will learn that after three days with their whores."
"You will learn your lesson."
"I am not some misbehaving child!"
Loki screamed again. Odin approached Loki.
"Neither am I a peace treaty for you anymore, so you may abandon your precious pretense of your little sons."
"You were unfit to be a king."
Odin said, and Loki felt his hand go limp as his magic fell away. The shackles loosened and dropped. Loki struggled weakly against Odin's grasp. The old king did not relent, and failing that, Loki stumbled, leaned over Odin's shoulder. He hissed in to his ears.
"I was a king who stopped the war Thor started; I was a king like Bor was, like you were, father."
Too much teeth and too much venom, Frigga turned away from Loki's face.
"Keep your throne. I have no more need of your golden realm.
"I take from you your power-"
Loki snarled.
“Your title.”
“Must you still insist on this lie!”
“And for your crimes, I cast you out.”

Blur of light and wind and beams of gravity, and suddenly Loki was a tiny, tiny figure in the desert. The desert, just like Thor. Loki felt the engraving of burnt sand between his fingertips. The Bifrost. Loki shoved the ground down, pulling himself up.
"Honestly"
Loki seethed.
"I would have thought that my Punishment was to be far worse. Exile? Actions of a boy, you said, does Jotunheim look like the actions of a boy now?"
He had screamed at the void of the night sky, and only the void answered back. Loki staggered backward, against the numerous pinprick stars.
If Loki had been allowed the glide down the Bifrost, in to the void... At least this wouldn’t be so convenient for Odin now.

Loki started stumbling away from the road.

If, if Odin had just taken him in after the Bifrost, if not for the cell, the thrice damned cell with the marked passing of day and night scratched in with his fingernails, he would have killed, he would have licked Odin's shoes, grovel and serve and feed on scraps of their food and he would have been greatful for it.

The thought now sickened him.
Thin fabric that had covered his feet tore, and he felt the cool sand sifting between his toes. He stumbled, on and on, leaving behind the painfully artificial road, away from distant pinprick lights on the ground. The void faded, bathing the endless plain in golden light he refused to see. Loki shed his grace, shed his vengeful stride, until all that was desperate jerking steps after another. He began to sweat, the sun above him not and the desert going through the customary over heating cycle.

Another step, and another step, and another ste-why couldn't he take another step?
Oh. Because he had fallen down, he realized. He supposed it didn't matter now. Not when he was so far. The sand burnt in to his thigh, arms and should, and his cheeks.
It swallowed his tears. Dripping down and drinking up. Sliding down his face. (That was a tear. And another.) He moved as if to wipe it, but his body had turned blue in a vain attempt to stave off the inevitable result. He laid his arm down. Another tear slid down. It was a small relief, the tiny track of teardrops, soothing the burning pain of his skin. Perhaps he was melting. Perhaps he was crying. Did it matter, really?

Loki heard footsteps. He closed his eyes and willed them away.
"Hey, are you alrigh-"
The first tray of food had arrived, and left untouched, while Loki clung to the wall and carved in to the stone walls. How long until his family returned, how long-
"Fuck, he's some kind of freak."
Nine marks, five of night and four of days, he guessed, and he stopped, his nail a crumbled thing.
"Maybe we should take a picture-"
And he saw, he saw what Odin said, what Thor said, what frigga said, and what they didn't really mean.
"didn't you hear what happened at that college? Let's get out of here."
He saw void, then.
The footsteps faded.

Loki blinked, lazily. He realized that for a minute, he had lost consciousness. The thought was slippery, refusing to be caught by his now sluggish mind. But slowly, he grasped the implications.
About time.
Loki mouthed, throat too dry to make a sound, but he had an ounce of his strength left and he used it to push, turning his body around to face the thin wavering Illusion of 'blue' and 'light'. He felt sick, like he took too much mead.It was pleasant, Loki thought.

If, if Odin had just taken him in after the Bifrost, if not for the cell, the thrice damned cell with the marked passing of day and night scratched in with his fingernails, he would have killed, he would have licked Odin's shoes, grovel and serve and feed on scraps of their food and he would have been greatful for it.
If only Odin had banished Loki, like Thor, so that he may be found, and loved, and realized that his family loved him, and prove himself as shining, as righteous, as golden as Thor is.
Too late for that, Odin.

With a small, thrumming thrill that he would dare even effect the gods above, the king of gods, even with a mortal body and no possession to speak of, no power, no title, he stared in to the hidden void. Ignored the sun in his eyes(it was half melted anyway) And he broke his lips until they formed a bitter smile.

Let them see.