Well, how are you supposed to not instantly have that on the brain every time you hear a song? I was thinking of it again the other day, and I was thinking of the Avengers simultaneously, and then this happened. To be fair, I cheated by only ticking down songs I instantly got an idea for, but whatever. Cheating is awesome. ...Yeah. I also only did six, because... because. Whatever.
Fic: Songs of Vengeance (six drabbles)
Fandom: The Avengers
Pairing/Characters: Loki/Tony, Loki/Thor, Natasha, Steve
Loki shatters into frosted shards and shuts his eyes and tries not to think, but this idiot mortal, this fragile irritant of a speck of what passes for life on this forsaken planet runs a rough, overconfident hand up his back and instead Loki arches, and burns.
After, he disappears into a storm of black moths and reforms worlds away, but the thrum of Stark still running through him trammels any action, the taste-memory of iron and blood and clean, unadulterated arrogance lies thick under his tongue and he knows he’ll be back.
Easy to imagine it: he will wait for night and for Stark to be alone, as he always is, and with a thought he will appear in shades of green and gold and Stark will smirk at him, insolence only heightened by the absence of his armor. He will snarl and Stark will be on his knees, perhaps with bruises already forming, and Loki will shake with cold and anger and when Stark’s hands go to the laces of his breeches he will know the urge to kill, to flee, to call down pure energy and wipe this audacious ironmonger from the earth. Stark will use his clever tongue and he will engineer infuriating pleasure and Loki’s shame will spill forth. Unbearable. For the pain, though, for the cleansing, numbing rinse of bitter immolation that burns through him and wipes all memory, all experience, that leaves him empty and cold to his bones—it will be worth it.
Some days Steve can only think of himself as Captain America. He has resigned himself, mostly, to a twenty-first century life. He has even resigned himself to the idea that, possibly, he’ll see many centuries more. The scientists at SHIELD aren’t sure. They all call him Captain, usually not bothering to include his last name, because what he is has collapsed down to a single word—he is an idea, an archetype, something far more important than a man.
It’d be easier if Steve could just disappear. It was Steve who’d made friends, who struggled and cried and fell in love. Captain America isn’t capable of loss. Steve mourns; Captain America endures.
It’d be easier, but they won’t allow it. Stark and Fury, Banner and Barton and even Romanoff—he led them because, well, that was what Captain America did. That was what symbols were for, to give people something to look up to, to follow. They took his direction, but instead of Captain he was Cap or Rogers or even, occasionally, just Steve, and it was like falling again, like being under fire. It’s enough to make him want to scream, sometimes. He can be a man, or he can be a symbol, but they don’t seem to see the difference. He tries, but he doesn’t know how to be both.
Loki does not care that the others mock him. Well, no—that is a lie. Like most with the natural aptitude of the bully, Loki cannot stand being laughed at. But here, as so often, he is standing one step behind Thor and he will not be budged. It doesn’t matter that Thor never notices.
That’s a lie, too.
Regardless. If Thor is questing after monsters or if he is waging a gentle war of wooing or if he is hip-deep in his cups and looking for someone to fight, Loki will be there. Thor’s friends call him a glutton for punishment, a lackey, and other less-savory things. He’s forced to clean up Thor’s mistakes more often than he shares in his glories.
He wonders, sometimes, when he stands at the door to Thor’s chambers and watches him sleep the untroubled sleep of the unthinking, if his motives are never to see Thor fall, or to one day see the look of revelation on his face when he finally turns to accept Loki’s always-helping hand and finds it, suddenly, gone.
Natasha went mad in Petersburg. There are those who would say she was mad long before that.
She let men with foul teeth and sneering mouths call her Natalia and she did not smile, but let their weak grasping hands slide along her skin, let them pull and push and sink their fingers into the pale flesh over her hips, on her thighs, pressing her forearms into cold, crumbling bricks and letting them whisper little atrocities into the unyielding curve of her throat.
She let men with dark suits and chilly self-assurance call her a widow because she wouldn’t ever tell them that to describe her loss could hardly be done with so small a word. These men dressed her in black, slid steel into her hands as though they were not already weapons; they murmured vague speeches about necessity and judgment. She allowed herself to be aimed. She allowed them to polish her to a glossy black sheen.
It is February, in the depths of a particularly bitter winter, and a woman in black glides into the room of a powerful man and the men who sneer at her at the door allow her access, because she is all pale skin and silk and they can see how easy it would be to press their fingers into the soft flesh of her neck, to push her down into the carpet and use her like the ignorant whore she is, that they know her to be. The man who waits in the office is another dark suit, well-tailored and slim; his smile gleams easy and confident and he offers her a seat by the window, a space warm with firelight from which they can watch the falling snow. He sits behind her, his hand a gentle pressure on her bare shoulder, and murmurs, “I do love the snow, my dear, but just now all I want is the thaw that comes with spring,” and it is only after, once she has killed him and his guards and left behind her a mess of red and white and a neat, black calling card as her masters requested, that she wonders if he’d meant what he’d said, if all he’d wanted was to see the winter end.
This filthy backwater planet’s alleys are rife with gunmetal smells and oily exteriors and grimy peasants with lewd smiles and though I am a god I slip through them like a hunted animal. I clothe myself in stolen leather and try to hide my wounds and keep my eyes downcast, but one midnight in a damp street in the city they call Oslo I am set upon. They think I am an easy target.
I let metal shine in my hand and they smile.
“He’s a hard one,” one of them says.
Chuckling. More smiles. They are tall and broad and blond and the one nearest to me grabs me by the shoulder, digging in his fingers, and it is so wrenchingly familiar that I want to cut his throat, I want to feel his heart’s blood trickling over my skin and I want to sink frost into his flesh and watch the horror fill his eyes—but it hasn’t been long enough since my escape and I am still too weak, inside, where it counts. The one touching me pushes me down to my knees and for a few seconds I allow it, my breath coming strange and heavy.
“You’re a bit far from home, love,” he says, and I look up into blue, blue eyes, and then the world disconnects.
They are all dead but one, the one who dared touch me, and my hands are red and wet and empty. He is pressed back against the bricks of the alley, trembling as though with cold. I come closer and he shrinks back and I cannot help but smile. I raise my hands to his face and smear blood over his fair skin, feeling loose and pain-bright as a dislocated bone, and with him still staring fearful into my eyes I snap his neck. He drops to the filth-smeared ground in the next instant, heavy with his death, and I laugh as my magic wells up heady and unstoppable with bloody sacrifice. His eyes are vacant and staring and still hopelessly, gorgeously blue, and I gather power around myself and my wounds heal and I keep laughing, because he was right, and I killed him for it.
It’s cold here, but not so cold Thor can’t bear it.
“Come, Loki,” he’s saying, trying to keep his voice as calm and low as he can, but above them clouds form and thunder rolls. “Come, stay with me, everything will be all right.”
Loki thrashes, his head turning in Thor’s lap. He tries to keep him still. There’s no blood, no indication of injury, but Loki’s skin is like ice, his hands tight claws in Thor’s tunic. Worry beats in Thor’s chest and he drags Loki up against his side, wrapping his cloak around them both and trying not to think.
Rain starts to fall. Loki shivers against him and Thor slides careful arms around him, holding him close. He resists the urge to shake his brother (because that’s what he still is, what he’ll always be, no matter what Loki says); he keeps himself from gripping Loki’s thin shoulders and demanding to know why, what could I have done, who could I have been to stop you hating me so? He would blame Loki but the guilt that spears through him sticks the words in his throat. He cannot stop it, any more than he can stop Loki’s fear and his hatred and the memory of holding his brother’s face and seeing his own tear-blurred reflection, knowing that the tears were his fault.
Hours pass and the rain slackens, then stops. They are soaked through. Thor’s arms are stiff and cold, but at last Loki has stopped shaking. The skin under his eyes is thin and purple as though with bruises, but when Thor puts a hand to his forehead he’s slowly warming. Thor pushes wet black hair away from his face and looks his fill at this rare sight: Loki still, his expression clear and empty of lies. Thor had almost forgotten what that could be like.
He will be all right, Thor knows, and though it is one of the hardest things he has ever done he presses a kiss to Loki’s temple, draws away, and lets Mjolnir pull him into the sky, once again leaving his brother behind.