ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This story belongs to the series Love Is For Children which includes "Love Is for Children," "Hairpins," "Eggshells," "Dolls and Guys,""Saudades," "Querencia," "Turnabout Is Fair Play," "Touching Moments," "Splash," "Coming Around," "Birthday Girl," "No Winter Lasts Forever," "Hide and Seek," "Kernel Error," "Happy Hour," and "Green Eggs and Hulk."

Fandom: The Avengers, Thor
Characters: Loki, Frigga
Medium: Fiction
Warnings: Past abuse. Past torture. Past suicide attempt. Past mindrape. Dubious consent / nonconsent. Soul violence. Imprisonment. Isolation. Racism. Internalized racism. Self-hate. Self-destructive behavior. Shame. Envy. Depression. Dysfunctional family dynamics. Verbal abuse. Victim-blaming. WARN ALL THE THINGS.
Summary: Loki and Frigga talk while he is imprisoned.
Notes: Hurt/Comfort. Mostly hurt. Emotional whump. Angst. Adoption. Sibling rivalry. Manipulation. Communication issues. Truth. Lies. Poor intrapersonal skills. Nonsexual love. Boundary issues. Trust issues. Daddy issues. Maternal love. Subterfuge. Rejection. Books. Reading. Magic. Wisdom. Hope. Loki's head is a bag of cats. You can smell crazy on him. Loki needs a hug.

This story takes place after Thor and The Avengers but borrows significantly from scenes in Thor 2 even though the second movie is not canonical for this series; and it happens prior to "Love Is for Children." It's a conversation between Loki and Frigga, and Loki's thoughts on his situation. Understand that Loki is a hot mess, Odin is an abusive bastard, Frigga is caught up in their wreck of a family, and consequently this is not one of the lighter stories in the series. But folks have been asking me to include Loki for ages, and I finally figured out a way to do that without mangling the plotlines.

Skip to Part 3Part 4, Part 5.

"Am I Not" Part 1

The cell was quiet and spacious. The pure white was soothing in a way, or at least, not actively irritating. The furniture stood out starkly against it, sleek dark wood and curls of wrought iron adorned with rich fabrics. The cell was pleasant, even luxurious, as such things went. The one thing it was not, of course, was private, three walls of transparent force providing a clear view of Asgard's dungeon.

Loki did not have it in him to protest the loss of what he never had. He knew that this was the most honest his life had ever been. He had grown up in a prison not of his making, and never known it. But the complete and utter lack of privacy? Oh, that he had known about, growing up at a prince's side. Loki may as well have been a gilded fish in a tank of glass, for all the peace he had, courtiers staring at him day and night, only to forget about him the moment Thor appeared.

Was it any wonder, then, that Loki went off on his own, when he tired of such sport? He had loved his brother, once, but their company had grown unbearable to each other. So Loki learned to walk the hidden ways where few could follow.

Fabric rustled and shadows stirred. The ghost of a smile touched Loki's lips.

Well, there was always one who followed.

"The books I sent, do they not interest you?" Frigga asked.

Loki schooled his face to an impassive mask before he turned around. Only then did he allow his gaze to pass over the stack of thick, leatherbound volumes which rested upon the table. "Is that how I'm to wile away eternity, reading?"

Though in truth there were worse ways to spend it. Loki occupied most of his time in study, if left to his own devices. Frigga knew that. She had taught him that, as she had taught him so much else.

"I've done everything in my power to make you comfortable, Loki," she said. The too-bright light of the cell caught on the spun gold of her hair and the textured fabric of her gown. Loki could not help but admire the artifice of it.

He was not comfortable, though. He had never really been comfortable. He simply used to do a better job of fooling himself. It was somewhat of a relief to let go of that and let the ugly truth poke through, like a splinter working its way out of a wound.

"Have you?" Loki said. "Does Odin share your concern? Does Thor? It must be so inconvenient, them asking after me day and night." That was half a truth, and Loki knew it even as he said it. Odin would fling him into an oubliette and never look back. Thor could not have held his tongue if the whole of Asgard depended upon it. That hurt. Loki resented how much it hurt.

"You know full well that your actions have brought you here," Frigga scolded. She feared for him, even still. Loki could hear it hiding under her tone. He might have worried at that, if he had any energy left for it. He did not.

* * *


Color symbolism includes the effects on people as well as the connotations. White has both positive and negative meanings. It can be soothing and spacious; it can also be cold, isolating, and clinical. Loki's cell is a weird blend of cold and warm, harsh and comforting elements. It's like a horrifying little nutshell of their family.

Privacy can be a serious issue in families. Hovering parents may stunt emotional growth. Children growing up in the shadow of a famous brother or father have a special disadvantage. It's hard for them to develop healthy boundaries. Privacy harm violates boundaries and threatens autonomy, even if people think "they have nothing to hide."

Solitary confinement is especially harsh on children and adolescents. Remember that in Thor, Odin excused Thor's behavior as "the actions of a boy," and Thor was just about to ascend the throne as an adult. So Thor is the social and probably developmental equivalent of eighteen or so; Loki is younger, maybe around sixteen. They're powerful, they have centuries of experience, but they're basically teenagers.

Loners may be happy or unhappy about their solitude. Understand how to tell the difference. There are ways to help shy children and teens interact more. Loki shows signs of enjoying his own company and being uncomfortable with others, but sometimes he tries so hard to fit in only to have people tease him. It's painfully obvious that the Warriors Three and Sif are Thor's friends more than Loki's, and Loki doesn't really have any of his own. That's never a good thing. There's a tension between Thor and Loki where it's clear they used to love each other above all else, but now they can barely tolerate proximity. It's just a mess.

Frigga: The books I sent, do they not interest you?
-- Thor 2: The Dark World

Books are friends and teachers. This is especially true for smart, shy children who may find it difficult to win acceptance from other people.

There is often a conflict between ugly truths and beautiful lies. People lie for many reasons. In Loki's case, people never seem to believe him regardless of what he says, and blame him for things going wrong whether he had anything to do with it or not. He is said to be a god of lies, but really, he's a god of inconvenient truths; another dichotomy.

Mocking humor is a common defense mechanism. Loki turns the sharp edge of his tongue as readily on himself and his kin as on his enemies. While he's a more capable fighter than he realizes, that's not his true strength; his words are far more dangerous than any material weapon he might wield.

If you know anything about abuse and dysfunctional families, Frigga's dialog probably raised several red flags. Victim-blaming is a serious problem, particularly in child abuse. It harms abuse survivors, who often wind up blaming themselves for the trauma. This causes psychological problems and maladaptive coping mechanisms. Compare Loki's personality and behavior to traits of abuse survivors.

LJ user Marianros pointed out that Thor and Loki have a Golden Child and Scapegoat dynamic going, which is common in families headed by a narcissistic parent.  The other parent may then enable the abuse.  In this case, Odin is an engulfing father and Frigga is the enabler.  You can see how Odin tries to subsume Thor while rejecting Loki.  People use invalidation and gaslighting to shape Loki's reputation; notice how much this spills over onto how Thor and his "friends" treat Loki.  Know how to deal with a narcissist.

[To be continued in Part 2 ...]

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 06:35 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] harmony_watson
I don't think Frigga is blaming Loki for what happened. She is not assigning him blame. It is true that Loki's actions are what got him into the cell. But it was the repeated abuse by Odin in particular and Asgard as a whole that put on the course for those actions. When Loki dropped into the Void, it was tantamount to committing suicide. He had no reason to believe he would survive that. So his headspace was not a good place to be, and the blame for that lies solely on his environment and the people in it.

That being said, Frigga's dialogue wasn't good. Right now, Loki's mind is like broken glass, sharp and unfriendly. He doesn't need the cold unfeeling truth of the situation, he knows it all too well. Right now he needs to know that he is not being blamed for everything. In the Eddas, he proposes an idea to get a free wall from a craftsman. Everyone agrees to this plan, and yet when the plan goes wrong, it is Loki who is assigned all of the blame. I assume it will be Uncle Phil who will assign the blame correctly and help Loki (and Thor) work through their share of it?

But this was a great chapter. Finally, we get to see some Loki. His Daddy issues rival Tony's and his self esteem is in the toilet. Just look at his dialogue with Tony in the Avengers. When confronted with someone who isn't cowed by him, he uses intimidation, something that only people with no other card to play uses. He says "I'm a god", like this is a legitimate argument.

Sorry, I know this went on for a while. But this was a fantastic chapter and I can't wait for Wednesday for the next installment. You're brilliant, and the links you use are informative on a personal and a professional level when I teach. Love you Ysabet!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 07:00 am (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
I'm looking forward to seeing where you go with this arc.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 07:03 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Yay, Loki!

You need to fix your summary, it's the one for the Hulk poem.

I'm looking forward to this.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 07:25 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm curious - as you're taking the path of Thor and Loki basically being teenagers developmentally speaking, is this going to become known to the Avengers early on? Or are they going to spend a whole lot of time assuming that Thor and Loki are developmentally much older?

~ ty

I agree

Date: 2014-05-05 10:52 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I would like to know this too. Also are you going to include the old idea that children were children until they were adults? - e.g. there was no concept of "teenager" until recently. Otherwise...Yay Loki!!!

Re: I agree

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Re: I agree

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(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 11:38 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi, this is Evangel from AO3. I'm very excited about this part of the series, and I'm very curious about how you will introduce Loki (and maybe Thor) to the bunch, though that may still be far, far away from now. I'm normally not such a fan of poetry, but so far all of the poetry parts of this series have been awesome reads :3

Also, maybe for future reference: I noticed some parallels between Loki and Matilda from the book by Roald Dahl (and the movie) while reading this. A bookish youth that's part of an abusive and toxic family and has magic powers? I'm just hoping Uncle Phil can be the Miss Honey to Loki's Matilda.

Eager for the next part

Date: 2014-05-05 12:07 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
(As usual, ready to jump in and dissect every word. Oh, wait, someone's already done a significant amount of that, well phrased and delightfully concise. YAAY. Someone else has mentioned wanting to see Loki interact with the others, especially Uncle Phil. Check.

What can I add?

That one of the /reasons/ that it's so hard to define 'abusive language' versus 'abusive situation' is that, YES, there's often a LOT of legitimate overlap between 'things done TO Loki' and 'things Loki has DONE' for which he can be blamed. The problem isn't in the overlap-- it's that our culture is so toxic about the idea of AGENCY-- even someone under clearly diminished agency (under threat of death, being blackmailed into something) will be EXCORIATED as "responsible" for "going along with" whatever it is.

The whole definition of "legal responsibility" can fold like a house of cards when looked at from a psychological standpoint, so the tendency is to go "They should've done SOMETHING ELSE, they're still responsible, still going to get punished!"-- effectively, I think we're punishing people for pointing out how little AGENCY the average person HAS.

That collapses our whole ideal of justice, especially as we're a culture that imprisons approximately ONE THIRD of its population. Yeah, whatever that is, I don't think "justice" is even close.

Re: Eager for the next part

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Re: Eager for the next part

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Re: Eager for the next part

Date: 2014-09-01 11:23 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
That collapses our whole ideal of justice, especially as we're a culture that imprisons approximately ONE THIRD of its population. Yeah, whatever that is, I don't think "justice" is even close.

A friend of mine commented recently, if America imprisons any more of our population, we're going to have to put voting booths in the prisons. :/

Re: Eager for the next part

From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah - Date: 2014-09-01 11:34 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 05:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you for putting into words what was so wrong with the cell. It made my mind go !???!! when I first saw it onscreen, and now I know -why-. All of this- goodness, does the team-family have a mess to deal with when it comes to the Asgardians. Can we just burn Asgard down, please?

As always, the story is great, and the comments help make it even better. Ysabet, thank you for letting the readers in, and for sharing those comments with us; it's useful and important and ... see, you made me have no words again. !

Clinging on like a lemur for the next installment- kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 06:26 pm (UTC)
aldersprig: (Doorway to Clouds)
From: [personal profile] aldersprig
Apologies if you've already answered this:

Do you have a masterpost of which Avengers movies are canon for this series and which aren't?

Re: Yes...

From: [personal profile] aldersprig - Date: 2014-05-05 06:32 pm (UTC) - Expand

incoming rant in 3, 2, 1.

Date: 2014-05-05 07:14 pm (UTC)
brushwolf: Icon created by ScaperDeage on DeviantArt (Default)
From: [personal profile] brushwolf
First of all, thank you for the story but for the links especially. You're awesome.

In Loki's case, people never seem to believe him regardless of what he says, and blame him for things going wrong whether he had anything to do with it or not. He is said to be a god of lies, but really, he's a god of inconvenient truths; another dichotomy.

Which is something that pisses me off about how most people perceive Norse mythology. I mean, yeah, Loki pulled one dumbass prank by shaving Sif, and as weregild he went out and got pretty much all of the awesome stuff the gods even have. He's the guy who got the Aesir what, an entire stable of prize horses, an awesome place to live, and heck, Freya not marrying some giant and he gets what for it, "oh, he's ergi," and this is from the same guys who have exactly no problem crossdressing or doing seidh? And that's about as much at fault he is right up to the point where he's in on murdering Balder - you notice the gods have decided they're gonna have this fun game, and it's not a fun game (I think it's significant that Tyr literally can't shoot a bow, the justice god is literally not in on the har-har-privilege-fun).

See, my contention is that Scandinavians weren't any less perceptive of reality in the 600s or 900s as they are now, so the dynamics of Loki getting royally dicked over despite being pretty damn awesome, is something they empathized with. They'd seen it, a chunk of them lived it. Their gods are people, not some sort of Christianized stereotype that oh yeah you have Odin and he's unquestionably good, and oh no, evil terrible Loki. Odin is Odin; he's not omnibenevolent, he shouldn't be viewed as such, he's there to do necessary Odin things, not good things. And the flip side for Loki. Grrr!

Re: incoming rant in 3, 2, 1.

Date: 2014-05-05 07:40 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: Blair freaking and Jim hands on his knees (Jim calms Blair)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Norse mythology and Greek run in lots of parallel ways, though the Greeks by the period we know their gods well were at turns mocking them or using them to poke mortal rulers it was less safe to poke that Zeus that randy goat/swan/bull etc.

Well, you get dualism into Christianity and the next thing you know everything is getting judged by a sorting hat.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-05 09:15 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Well! As usual – as I expect from you :-) – another story to watch develop.

•wile away eternity
→ wile
> although for Loki, unlike most people, "wile" works in almost any situation!

Re: Thoughts

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Re: Thoughts

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Ace-fan from AO3

Date: 2014-05-06 09:21 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
LOKIII!!!! Yay!!!
I like that you used that scene from the Dark World. It was so sad and painful to watch, but even more so once you have time to think about it and re-watch. Frigga basically telling him "it's all your own fault" is just so painfully harsh, even had Loki not been *pressed into servitude by evil, torturing, telepathic aliens*. Odin's terrible treatment of Loki, plus his recent *suicide attempt* should still have gotten some recognition. :-(
I actually kind of suspect that no-one besides Loki knows about the Chitauri (or the ones controlling the Chitauri? I'm kind of unclear on that point) torturing and mind-link watching him. Is the link still there? Even if it's not, I can kind of see a pride in Loki that he wouldn't offer excuses to people who seem so determined not to listen.
I really hope that Loki and Thor come to Earth somehow soon. And join the Avengers and Uncle Phil. They need major help!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-05-07 06:14 pm (UTC)
brushwolf: Icon created by ScaperDeage on DeviantArt (Default)
From: [personal profile] brushwolf
Loners may be happy or unhappy about their solitude.

In Loki's case, people never seem to believe him regardless of what he says, and blame him for things going wrong whether he had anything to do with it or not.

And besides, you grow up around a batch of adults and children who claim all answers are okay (because after all, they're the good guys) and in reality, it's really obvious which answer is the one they want. And of course invariably if you're not being true, it will come out - truth is easier to sustain, after all, and truths like "I am bad at playing team sports especially if nobody tells me the rules" or "I am a Jotun here among all of these Aesir and don't even really fit in with the Vanir" are likely to get exposed over time. Which of course is the last thing your authorities and peers want to face... so being honest makes you the terrible horrible stupid kid who's bad at [whatever manly activity], lying makes you the terrible horrible kid who dared lie to us, and in the end, your best refuge is to take off and be elsewhere. Avoidant as all hell. Which of course also doesn't solve anything, but it solves nothing in a far less immediate sense.

Y'know, this stuff is getting really personal but really, mythology (and comic books are with or without an older tie-in!) is there to help thrash through personal issues.


Date: 2014-05-12 07:05 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
May I just say that I am SO excited for this bit?! <3

narcissistic parent

Date: 2014-05-16 09:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marionros.livejournal.com
Hurrah, you're doing Loki now!

Yup, Frigga's little dialog creeped me out as well. Having grown up with a narcissistic sibling, my alarmbells were ringing back in 'Thor' and were clanging deafeningly during 'The Avengers' and 'Thor the Dark World'. Odin is such a classic example of a Narcissistic Parent, it just isn't funny. Thor and Loki are the classic Golden Child and Scapegoat Child of a Narcissistic Parent and Frigga is the textbook Enabling Spouse of A Narcissistic Parent. I mean, OUCH! And the scary thing is that most people, indeed even the writers and directors of the movies, don't even recognise the utter creepiness of the Odin Family!

Quick link to Danu Moregan's excellent site 'Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers'




ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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