“Die ich rief, die Geister,
Werd' ich nun nicht los.”
– Goethe, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
Loki has always sensed something... out of joint, within himself.
Before, in his innocence, he thought he could fix it, if only he could lay his hands on whatever the underlying problem was.
Now, he understands that he can’t.
He understands... intimately.
He is a monster, a contaminating force, and really, he simply has to accept and embrace that.
Easy to say. Hard to do.
During his time on Earth, there had been women and men amongst the people Barton found to follow him, who had been very clear, even eager, in their willingness to be more to their new leader than mere servants, but Loki had shied away from the notion. There had been no spare moments to steal away, and then the chance was rapidly lost.
Now he is Odin’s prisoner, and has received every indication of remaining in that state for the rest of his life – a grim prospect, given his age. He is still a young man, by the standards of both his birth race and his adopted one, and the notion of being without a lover for the remainder of his allotted span... it is daunting. He possesses a reputation for virility that rivals that of Fandral the Dashing, even if he has always been more selective in his partners than that swashbuckling sot.
There is the occasional indelicate suggestion, floated by his jailers, that for a price they might be able to secure some ‘companionship’ for him – the price of a spell, always, and he scoffs at the testosterone-poisoned guards who seem not to understand that the spells they want are never going to happen while he is their prisoner. It simply isn’t possible. Even if he were feeling generous.
Once or twice, there is even an official offer of a concubine, sent down from the throne room by a carefully-chosen messenger in carefully-couched words. He is still a prince of Asgard – shockingly, Odin has not chosen to disown him – and the hereditary king of Jotunheim, and royal prisoners are always afforded luxuries that the populace at large need never know anything about.
But he turns down all of the offers. The idea of copulating with another living being now, after all that he has discovered and experienced... it sickens him.
It frightens him.
Before, in his ignorance, he thought he was simply young, still growing, still finding his footing as his body matured. Now, even the act of looking into a mirror to tidy himself for the day (one had standards to maintain, even in a cage) is an act of struggle. The shape he inhabits is abhorrent to him. Disgusting.
It is not him and never was. It does not truly feel like him, and never did.
But it is still his body, and the only thing he still possesses. Only he has the right to punish himself for his crimes, Odin be damned, and only he should bear the burden of pleasuring himself.
Thankfully, Loki is not unaccustomed to making copies of himself.
He knows he is starving for physical contact in this gleaming terrarium, but the thought of actually being touched... it turns his stomach. Sad, how perversely grateful he is that Frigga can only visit him as an image, transported to him through the simple magic of a flame, so he doesn’t have to cope with her physical presence.
She tries to visit him in person once, in defiance of all Odin’s decrees. Loki loves her fiercely, in that moment, despite everything. He still refuses to see her.
In kindness or in desire, his mind shies away from the idea of someone else’s hands on his skin. Even worse is the thought of someone coming to his bed out of paid obligation, or even worse, from some sick fantasy.
It takes him a while to conjure up a proper solid duplicate, and it is sometimes (often) difficult to find the privacy in which to do what he pleases with himself. All things being normal, he’s fine with a bit of voyeurism and public display, but things are not normal, and he refuses to put on a freak show for the guards and the other prisoners.
But he can dim the lights in his cell and darken the glittering transparent force-field, an ability bestowed on him ostensibly for the purposes of bathing and sleeping.
Another royal privilege. Odin’s way of reminding him of Asgard’s vaunted beneficence even as he dismisses the unwanted burden of Loki, his ‘son’, from his mind.
And it is in that rare privacy, so begrudged, that Loki conjures his doppelganger.
It is a Midgardian word, descriptive but sadly inaccurate. He knows of the superstition it springs from, that to meet one’s own double is a harbinger of coming death.
Loki can only wish that were true.
He is given no knives with his meals. The furniture in his cell is enchanted to prevent being broken and shaped into weapons. His clothes and bedclothes are purposefully made lightweight and flimsy so he cannot fashion them into nooses. Since the All-father has spared his life, he cannot be permitted the dignity of choosing his own death.
Oh, he might be able to wreck the place and injure himself, if he works himself into a frenzy, but the guards will come to subdue him long before he can do more than scratch his skin. The Einherjar assigned to his watch have their orders. They will happily provide him with prostitutes, if he likes, but they will never give him poison.
And while Loki can make his double solid enough to fuck him with a force to leave bruises, he can’t make it strong enough to strangle him (and he has tried). So he takes control of his own body in the only way he has left to him – he uses himself as his own whore.
But it isn’t enough. Damn and blast and curse the Nine, it is never enough.
In the end his double always gives way and Loki can find his release, but it is simple mechanics, no more fulfilling than his own hand, and a great deal more difficult to clean up after all is said and done. And no matter how much he pleasures his own image, there is nothing of smell or taste that fills his mouth afterward. It is all nothing more than himself, a snake fellating its own tail.
And there is nothing in himself that he can find true pleasure in. Nothing but automatic gratification. He can only make his doppelganger so life-like, in the end, and the fantasy lover he is permitted to create always remains obedient to his commands. His control over his body and his mind is total... but only to a point. The terms of his imprisonment will not allow Loki to endanger himself.
He feels he would enjoy himself a great deal better if he could be a proper danger to himself. But no, mustn’t have that. That would be unseemly...
In the end, all he can do after he’s fucked himself to the breaking point is to apply a healing spell (or three) to the relevant portions of his anatomy, and then try to relax as he is able, to rest his muscles.
Never to sleep.
Sleep is the last thing he wants. Sleep is what happens when he loses all control, and his nightmares are excruciating endless scenarios of torture by unseen hands, of falling, of darkness, of losing himself—
“Lights,” Loki barks hoarsely. He sits up in his bed, the sweat pouring from his face, and he rubs his neck frantically to rid himself of the feeling of phantom fingers clenching around his throat.