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Belief in Pain

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Loki is a creature made of thorns.

They’re there, under his skin, in his eyes, all along his lips. His spine is wrapped in briars, his fingers tipped with them. You can feel it in his gaze, the sharpness, mingled within the verdant flush.

They say he has a silver tongue, but it’s not that – it’s not the perfection of metal, it’s not the bendable, pliable, reliable silver Tony knows. Metal is measured and precise, yes, but it is also easy to anticipate and control. Silver’s linear thermal expansion coefficient is 19-19.7, its melting point is 961.8°C, and its electron configuration is [Kr] 4d105s1. Tony knows what to do with silver, how to use it to his advantage. Silver is remarkably ductile – malleable. Not to the degree of platinum or gold, but far more than any part of Loki.

To call any part of Loki malleable would be ludicrous. When pressure is placed upon him, he may appear to bend, but he finds a way around the barriers and the opposition, winding like a very stubborn vine. He’s not hard and he’s not soft in the way metal is, but rather the way a weed is: stubbornly difficult and wickedly prickly, returning despite being struck down.

No, Loki’s tongue is not silver, it’s the wild sprawl of nature, untamed and untouchable. Briars, coiled in his chest and in his belly, springing from the pit of him. Loki’s something barely passing as contained, civilized.

Loki’s tongue is all needles: It can prickle, when he’s feeling particularly benevolent, but it can cut, it can ache. It does not leave a clean cut the way a knife might, but rather tears and claws and picks away at so many parts of a person that the wounds are near-impossible to heal.

The control is Loki’s alone, the way nature’s control is hers alone. Humans might cut stray branches, might fence it in, might pluck its flowers, but nature is an untamable thing. Any perception of outside control is an illusion. It can be destroyed, as anything else can be, but destruction isn’t control, not really.

Loki’s tongue isn’t metal, because metal can be so easily manipulated. Add heat, add pliers, and it’s getting what you want out of it is simple.

Loki’s mouth is full of briars and thorns and caustic, natural poisons. Wolfsbane, doll’s eyes, belladonna – it’s all probably in his blood. Loki operates in a way Tony doesn’t know, could never know; it seems ludicrous to compare Loki’s bite to that of a knife, or the shine of his eyes to that of polished silver, because Tony knows what to do with metal, but he has no clue what to do with Loki.

The only one who can control what Loki does and what Loki says is Loki, and anything else is just an illusion.