I have no idea what I'm doing

Category: fic notes (Page 1 of 2)

Ours to Keep | Post Mortem

The timing of this fic was a bit unfortunate, since I got right to the climax just as life got unreasonable.  But it’s done.  Newsletter people will have seen it by now, or at least have it sitting in their inboxes.  I can’t say when I intend to go back and edit it up properly, which I am going to do because it does have some issues.  But I want to sit on it long enough to forget about it, so it might be a few months.  But the story is, more or less, exactly what I wanted it to be.  A few things went a bit differently than planned, but all of the changes wound up making it a better story I think.

And this story was… oof.  Closet skeletons all came out for a rave in this one.  There is so much going on in this fic, and it’s one where I’ve done an Edgar Wright and put the entire plot in the first chapter.  The conversation Thor and Loki have at the very beginning tells you exactly where this story is going without giving away anything specific.  That has always been one of my favourite narrative devices, and I have used it shamelessly so many times.  It’s delightfully effective because either the reader catches it and gets to have that satisfying moment of being able to “guess” the outcome, or they miss it completely until they read it a second time and it hits them like a truck.

It’s always one of those things as well, where as I’m writing it I worry that it’s going to light up like a neon sign, but I didn’t see anyone catch it at all this time around.  That said, there were a lot of good guesses for where it would go in the end.  Loki was given a lot of options throughout this entire story, and I wanted all of them to seem like they could be a logical conclusion.  Some of those endings may have been more satisfying than others, and I’m sure there are going to be a few people who don’t like this one in particular, but this was such a messy and destructive story that I felt like the best ending would be the one that gave Loki a chance to actually feel his emotions.  He spends so much of this story trying to please everyone else that he winds up neglecting himself more often than not.  He’s obviously very depressed and traumatised, and has likely never been given an opportunity to even consider this, much less deal with it.  And that trauma comes from more than one source, to the point that he starts dealing with one trauma by wilfully succumbing to another.  Originally this story was just going to be the interludes, and just a straight up kinkfest.  But the more I poked at that idea, that these two have been engaging in a sexual relationship since they were teens, the more I realised there was a bigger story to tell.  It was always framed as Sylvie being the one initiating things, but at one point I rewrote what had turned into the first three or four interludes to make Loki somewhat less of a willing participant, and putting him more into a role where he’s unable to say no until he thinks that he wants whatever this is just as much as she does.

And I specifically went in that direction, putting Loki in this victim role for the very basic reason that you don’t often see a female aggressor in this sort of story.  It’s almost expected that it would be the boy who’s acting up and getting his sister to do things she shouldn’t be doing, which opens up a whole plot unto itself.  Which of course leads to the question of what the fuck is Sylvie’s damage, and I still don’t know.  I had about three ideas I was kicking around, one of which was tired and dull and a little insulting, and another which would require a lot of explanation I couldn’t find an easy way to include.  This idea, that I toyed with and then shoved aside was that she saw something she shouldn’t have, probably on the internet.  Between being a confused, hormonal teenager, and growing up in a household that clearly has a sex ed problem to begin with, she acted on a curiosity with the one person she knew she could trust to keep his mouth shut.  But at the same time, there is clearly some real damage there.  I framed that first chapter the way I did, with Loki creeping in on her after everyone else had gone to bed, as a bit of a deliberate bait and switch.  At that point, almost a decade into whatever this is between them, Loki has come to link sex with approval.  Thor tattled on him and made Sylvie mad, so he goes to Sylvie to regain her approval.  By using his penis.

In the interludes, by the time they start having sex, she’s already got into his brain and scrambled things up a bit.  He knows that as long as she remains happy, she won’t tell anyone.  But he’s also an awkward, introverted teenage boy who can’t seem to figure out how to talk to girls (probably because he’s not entirely straight, and doesn’t really understand that).  Being able to have sex and skip all the complicated relationship stuff is a best-case scenario in his mind.  When he says that he wants to fuck her, it’s not necessarily him taking the reins, but more voicing a frustration. 

And as this whatever it is between them continues and evolves, so does Sylvie.  She eventually realises that it’s not enough for her that Loki does what she asks, because in the end, she winds up being the one always having to ask.  He doesn’t really initiate in a way that excites her.  She wants to be in charge, but not necessarily making all the decisions.  When she pushes him to the point of snapping, it’s exactly what she wants, right up until the very end.  Meanwhile, she also knows two things to be true: Loki will obstinately refuse to use a condom unless she makes him, and there are backup plans if she lets him have his way and things go wrong.  According to Loki, Sylvie’s had two abortions.  But that’s according to Loki, the clueless idiot who has no idea what goes on around him.  Who knows what the real number is?

All of this is a very convoluted way for Sylvie to keep Loki obedient.  He’s apparently tried to end this multiple times before the story starts, but lacks the resolve to follow through.  Ultimately all it takes is for Sylvie to get through a crack in his armour so she can fuck him without protection, and suddenly all of his decisions are made by his dick again.  I think there is some level of sex addiction, with Sylvie especially, and Loki is very rarely going to turn her down and won’t say anything even if she doesn’t listen.  Angela is very likely right in that there will be other guys she does this to, but at the same time I think Sylvie’s aware that it will get her into trouble if she tries this with too many other men. 

I also don’t think she did ever try anything like this with Hermod.  He’s just yolo’ed out because fuck this entire family, and now he has an excuse.

But going back to the family, everything about the way she grew up definitely plays into who she is now as a person.  Growing up, she was the only girl in the house, surrounded by brothers.  Angela’s a full eleven years older than she is, so she was gone by the time Sylvie was in middle school.  Hela was gone a few years later.  She’s shown to be manipulative and willing to throw herself under the bus if it means someone else will get into more trouble.  The problem she encounters here is that it works on the parents a hell of a lot better than it works on Thor and Angela, who both fell victim to this shit growing up.  Loki’s also wised up and knows when it’s safe to misbehave and when he needs to sit still and say nothing.  And he’s had a lot of practise with this, both in dealing with Sylvie, and in getting Odin to tactically ignore him.  As Angela says, Odin and Frigga have clearly not been happy for a very long time.  I don’t think children were ever in Odin’s plans before he got Frigga pregnant.  And what Loki said was also true.  Frigga likes having babies a hell of a lot more than she likes having children.  Babies need to be taken care of, and doted on, and can’t do anything for themselves, and gee, doesn’t that sound like someone familiar?

Loki starts off life with the trauma of being adopted, and even if we do throw out the whole plotline where these assholes kept it a secret his entire life, it’s gonna fuck someone up at least a little bit, knowing that of your ten siblings, only one of them is truly your own.  Add on to this that if Odin is going to have children, he’s going to insist they maintain a certain image of perfection lest they face his wrath, and then getting molested by the only sibling that is truly his, no fucking wonder he’s just permanently six years old.  Where Sylvie responded to this by needing to always be in control, Loki responded to it by needing someone else to take control, and then we have this match made in hell.  I also really don’t think that the first interlude is the first time Sylvie got weird with him.  I think it’s just the first time it was overtly sexual to the point that Loki knew it was wrong.  She had clearly pushed him to do things he was uncomfortable with before, because he didn’t react to that in a very normal way.

And now, nine years later, Loki has so much internalised shame and self-disgust about himself in nearly every way that he can’t even face reality.  He argues against being disabled, despite being barely able to function some days.  Thor accidentally stumbles onto a scene he eventually manages to read correctly, and Loki denies it even happened.  But if Loki admits that what Thor saw was rape, then what about all those other times he said no and it still happened?  It’s much easier to just assume he’s incapable of saying no and meaning it than to admit that these things have been happening for years.

Because of all of this, it was very important for me to get Thor and Angela on side very quickly.  Despite having an almost criminally large family, Loki has been isolated this entire time.  He’s not exactly wrong either.  What was he supposed to say?  We live in a world where boys who get molested by older women are mocked for not being able to realise a good thing when they’ve got it.  There’s also the assumption that Thor immediately had, and which the first chapter deliberately sets the reader up to believe, that Loki is the one instigating this.  Odin would fucking murder him if Loki tried to tell anyone.  If he tells anyone else, he’s the gross weirdo who’s fucking his sister, or the stupid idiot who wasn’t smart enough to keep his mouth shut.  So he does just that, and never says anything to anyone, and convinces himself that he’s into it.  He needed people he could trust, not only to push him into getting out of this situation to begin with, but so he could have social support after he burnt all his bridges.  And he’s in a uniquely fortunate position where he has the money and the means to burn his bridges because he’d regressed so far he never figured out how to spend what he had in the first place.  Sylvie, meanwhile, seems to have spent most of what was available to her.  I think Sylvie is in a position where she doesn’t actually have the full amount of her trust available to her, because she didn’t meet some of the requirements set, and now she’s apparently bleeding cash because she’s too busy fucking every guy in New York to hold down a job.  Finding out that Loki not only has money, but has a job that has an obscene revenue stream was the thing that pushed her over the edge into full crazy.  If she can get his dick and his money, she’d never have to worry again.

I’m not sure where Loki goes after this, whether he does go on to finish law school or stay on with Thor, or just fuck off again and do something else entirely.  Whoever this guy from the library is, he’s going to regret asking Loki out so hard, which is probably the only guarantee in this.  Loki knows he’s all kinds of fucked up, but he hasn’t at all got the tools or strategies to deal with that yet.  He’ll learn eventually.  Or he won’t, and will just spend the rest of his life having doomed relationships because good god coming back from all of this is not going to be easy.

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Notes | Ours to Keep 1-3

Folks are starting to pick up on some of the weirdness going on in Ours to Keep, so I wanted to talk about it with a bit more room than I’d have in a few tweets.  Also, there are some minor spoilers, and if you squint and read between the lines in a few places, a couple of big spoilers.  So be warned.

The summary on this fic talks about secrets getting out, whether or not they belong to the dead, and by now there are a lot of secrets going around.  Some are getting out, while some are still bubbling to the surface, but it’s really only a matter of time before this whole mess explodes.  I said on Twitter the other day that chapter 3 establishes two different things that are not necessarily mutually exclusive:

  1. Odin and Frigga have exhausted their ability to trust and be patient with Loki
  2. All of Loki’s adult siblings like one another more than they like their parents

I don’t think I worded it quite like that, but idk how to search Twitter to get my exact phrasing.  But those two things are established in how the kids will turn on a dime from shittalking and arguing with one another to ride or die into hell together.  Angela’s performative(?) disgust with Loki and Sylvie doesn’t matter once Odin shows up to break up their fun.  They’re also at ages where it’s a little bit difficult to get across the differences between them, without just outright stating, “Angela is 35 years old” or whatever, because once a person reaches a certain level of adulthood they’ve pretty much settled.  I’ve always found age gaps between kids much easier to illustrate that way as a result.  Aside from Sylvie’s line about there being a big gap between Thor and Angela, and Roger making reference to having already moved out by the time Loki and Sylvie were in high school, it’s all very vague.

Not that it really matters, but here are the age differences between what has become the core group of delinquents at the centre of this story:

  • There is an eleven-year gap between Angela and Thor, with several other kids in between them (Hela, Tyr, and Roger).
  • There is enough of a difference between Sylvie and Loki that her birthday is actually the day before his; something he is still teased about, re: being the baby brother, despite having three brothers younger than him (Hermod, Balder, and Vidar).
  • There is a four-year gap between Roger and Thor, and he was adopted when he was in middle school (unlike the twins, who were adopted at birth). 
  • There is a six-month gap between Thor and the twins.
  • Laussa is about 18 months.  I thought about ageing her up, but the hilarity of people in their 20s and 30s having an infant sister was too much to pass up, and also helps say a lot about where Odin and Frigga’s priorities seem to lie.

Figuring out the ages of these characters in particular was necessary because it helps establish why their relationship is the way it is.  Thor is particularly close with the twins (and especially Loki) because they’re practically triplets.  And yet, he’s not actually one of them so he’s still kept at arm’s length about some things.  Obviously nobody knows about what Loki and Sylvie get up to, and it needs to stay that way.  And obviously it’s not going to, because one of these motherfuckers is going to find out.  (Let’s be real, it’s a story about secrets getting out and was part of the prompt; this is not much of a spoiler.)

So with all of that laid out, let’s start talking about the things people have begun to notice.  Particularly with how weird the interludes are.  And I’m so glad those interludes are starting to make people take a step back and ask questions, because if I’ve done this right, on a second read, these interludes will hit completely different.  Several people have made about half a connection between what happened in the chapter 3 interlude, and the chapter 1 scene between Loki and Sylvie.  There is a very real connection, and the people who have seen it are all asking the right questions.  What changed? 

In the chapter 3 interlude, Loki is not only hesitant; he’s outright uncomfortable.  He was able to justify things a bit easier when they’d used their hands on one another, but Sylvie telling him to get on top of her crossed a line for him and he’s having a hard time reconciling it.  He puts up what seems to be a token resistance, but as soon as she touches him, he gives up.  He lets her take control, and her control eventually emboldens him to do things that have probably been in the back of his mind for a while.  There’s a line that states he’s noticed her chest in the past, but never like that.  What it doesn’t state is that he had the perfectly reasonable “ew, my sister’s body.  gross” reaction that might have been more appropriate.

Utterly unrelated, but also very related, this was one of my favourite things about Allison and Luther in the Umbrella Academy.  Even though all of the kids were adopted, they still had that visceral reaction about the relationship.  But the fact that Sylvie and Loki are still related by blood, despite being adopted, lives in the back of Loki’s mind, I think.  She is the only “real” sibling he has, although I don’t think even they think in such terms honestly.  There’s a scene coming up in the next chapter where there are about six openings for him to throw that in Thor’s face, and not once did it feel right to have him do it.  Thor is his brother exactly the same way Sylvie is his sister.  Now, whether Sylvie being his only blood relation has played into this relationship of theirs on a subconscious level, I think that is up for debate.  But it could very easily be argued that Loki knows she’s the closest connection to anything he will ever have, and that’s why everything was able to get so far out of hand.

More likely, as others picked up on, Loki was in a vulnerable position, and Sylvie was willing to push his boundaries.  Perhaps first out of curiosity, but Loki does wonder if she’s been curious for longer than he’d realised.  I think, at the time of the chapter 1 interlude, Sylvie is aware that Loki is a bit of a “late bloomer,” having never dated, and has probably picked up on a bit of resentment toward her own boyfriend/s.  I also don’t think she’s necessarily a virgin.  She says she’s never seen “one hard” before, and maybe that’s true and all she’s done is some heavy petting and dry humping.  Or maybe it’s a convenient lie to get Loki to lower his guard a bit (I don’t believe in having characters always speak the truth.  Humans lie and misrepresent truths.  So should characters).  But the show-you-mine, show-me-yours play between them isn’t exactly innocent here.  Either way, I think the reality is that she is a hormonal 15 year old girl making bad choices she can’t take back.  Whether she’s intentionally grooming Loki or not, again I’m not sure.  I waffled on even adding a tag for it, because whatever’s going on between them is definitely grooming-adjacent, but it also doesn’t feel right to call it that.  Either way, the consent has been dubious at best, and in the case of chapter 3, was straight up non-existent for a few minutes.  He told her he needed to study, and she barged in anyway and shoved her hand down his pants.  I’ve always liked playing with consent issues like this, because even though he didn’t say no with his mouth, the “no” was implied.  But it’s also a nuance that a fifteen year old might not be able to fully grasp, especially in a culture of “only no means no.”  After all, he was already hard, so clearly he wanted it.  Right?

When I went into this, I didn’t expect Sylvie to be a talker during sex.  It just kind of happened as a natural progression of that first scene of them together.  Loki initiated that encounter, but they didn’t have sex until he grovelled for a bit first.  She got upset with him over the wreck, and he went and threw a super adult and mature tantrum over it.  Then he went into her room and basically begged forgiveness before she rolled over for him.  People have noticed in the interludes that she’s kind of telling on herself, using manipulative language when she wants him to play along.  And she still does that now, in the present scenes.  Loki gets off on her praise.  It was subtle in that first chapter, but the thing that he gets off to is making sure Sylvie is pleased with him.  It’s a pattern that starts to form in the chapter 2 interlude, where even though Loki goes into her room, his bigger concern is making sure he does things how she wants so he doesn’t get kicked out.  When she barges in on him in chapter 3, she does so aware of this.  She noticed.  And that’s why she starts saying the things she does when she’s on top of him.  By giving him praise and the responsibility for her pleasure, knowing that he’s likely a bit starved for both, she can keep him wanting more, and she can fill a dry spell until she finds a boyfriend who isn’t so coy. 

The problem is she’s fifteen, and in lacking nuance and finesse, goes too far.  She has put this seed into his head that they’re made for one another, and affection-starved Loki is going to take that to its logical conclusion.

A couple of people have pointed out that the best thing for present-day Loki would be to move out.  The question has also been raised about why Sylvie moved out, and not Loki.  But Sylvie already answered that question: one of them had to, and it was never going to be him.  Loki is a grown man who throws temper tantrums and skips dinner because his brother said mean things to him.  He seems incapable of maintaining adult relationships, and is evasive over their failure.  He lives in a bedroom so small it can’t fit anything bigger than a twin-sized bed, while all of his other adult siblings fled as soon as they were able.  He spends his money on drugs and the sort of cars a teenager puts poster of up on his walls, while having zero expenses otherwise.  Frigga and Odin pay for his insurance.  Odin paid off a judge for him, and now he’s treated like a child who can’t be trusted to be in charge of his own medication.

Of course Loki hasn’t moved out.  He has not matured past fifteen years old, and has been enabled in this arrest.

It takes Roger, who is implied to have moved a bit further away than the rest, to come back and see this situation with fresh eyes to realise everything is fucked up beyond reason.  Thor and Angela and Sylvie are still close enough to have not seen the problem developing, because it happened slowly over the course of almost a decade.  Roger was already moved out by the time things with Sylvie started getting weird, and probably only sees most of the family for Christmas and maybe a week over the summer.  And now Loki’s wreck has exacerbated everything, and made the problems stand out like a neon sign.  Somehow, Loki walked away from something that should have killed him, and Angela is right.  If it had been anyone else, they’d have been on their own.  But Loki has always been slow to develop and mature, and now he’s 24 years old and Odin is still cleaning up his messes.

And I don’t think Odin and Frigga are necessarily being abusive here.  Not in a true definition of the word.  If anything, they’re enabling him.  They’re afraid that he’s going to kill himself, either directly or as a consequence of his drug habit, and the only way they know how to protect him from that is to basically tie him down so he doesn’t hurt himself.  He’s already suffering from severely stunted maturity and unable to perform even the most basic self-care at times, and they’ve taken away what little agency he might have had left.  It wasn’t out of malice or ill-intent, but the opposite.  And in fact, Loki feed off it.  He doesn’t have to have responsibilities, and can continue to be fifteen forever.  He can’t be trusted to take care of himself, so he’s not allowed to even try.  And deep down, he loves it.  That’s why he doesn’t fight it, when he’ll throw down with his uncle at a moment’s notice.  And because they’ve been taking care of him his entire life, nobody’s noticed how bad it’s got until now.

And if the name Johnny Gossamer means anything to you, keep him in mind.  That’s all I’ll say about that.

And another little detail that I have in my mind and which will probably not make it into the narrative at all is that with the exception of Roger (for obvious reasons) all of the kids have Norse names by birth.  I don’t know what Sylvie’s is, but the fact that there are two characters in canon (both comics and the MCU) who go by Anglophone names instead of their given names was delightful because I was able to very neatly sidestep the fact that Sylvie stands out like this.  This is a large reason Angela is a main character.  She is convenient in having an Anglo name, but also her acidic personality and weird relationship with Loki in the comics made her the perfect foil for all of this.  She’s the firstborn, so she got out of this nightmare first, changed her name to something easier to pronounce, and is living her best life in the city.  I think Sylvie probably changed her name around middle school, whether legally or not, and just refuses to acknowledge whatever name she was given at birth.  A whiff of this does come out in the end, but I was never able to fully make it work for the simple reason that obviously she was not called Loki at birth in this universe, and I just didn’t want to give her another name that she doesn’t even use.  So yeah.  Sylvie and Angela changed their names, and I think sometimes Roger calls himself Thor just to be a pain in the dick about it.

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Notes | God of Outcasts #31: Disappearance

Chapter notes for Disappearance

This is the final chapter of the arc.  If you read the original version, you’ll notice it now ends about halfway through what was Those Who Hunt Monsters.  So much new was added that the arc was shaping up to be about 300,000 words before it finally reached the end, and I don’t want that.  TWHM also spans a lot of time.   About 900 or so years originally, which is a lot.  It still spans about 700 years as it is, but those last 200 got real packed, and still may get broken up again.  The second half is where I really chickened out on what to include and what to allude to. All of those allusions and subtexts are going to be text this time around.

TWHM was always meant to just be exposition, and that’s still what it is.  I always said that I cut a lot out so it didn’t wind up being an ungodly amount of exposition, and now that’s exactly what it is.  Everything relevant has been set up and established.  But going forward, things pick up and become much more compacted.  There are fewer gaps in the narrative, and all of those things that were established earlier are going to start paying off.

So let’s talk about the chapter itself.  One thing I still have not been able to pull off quite as well as I wanted to is widening up the POV, which is why this chapter is entirely from Thor’s perspective.  I toyed with doing this one from Odin’s perspective, and that chapter is now in my purgatory folder to be cannibalised for later because there was a really good conversation with him and Frigga that I need to include somewhere.  But I switched it to Thor because I thought he had the better story here.  One thing I always love about Thor is how awkward he gets when he’s caught wrong-footed.  He’s bad at surprises, and this whole chapter is just a string of them for him.  He learns that he doesn’t know a damn thing about his own brother, and that Odin makes a habit out of keeping him in the dark on important topics. 

It’s also a moment for him to spend time with Hogun, who we find out is kind of his cousin.  But as Loki pointed out a few chapters back, the family tree is more of a bramble in many regards.  Bragi being Thor’s uncle is probably the least surprising thing that’s happened recently.  Thor doesn’t really understand Hogun, and he can’t figure out why Loki hangs out with him, but Hogun is the closest thing he has to a lead in this.  He also learns a little more about Fandral in this, though he doesn’t have enough context to put two and two together.

Making Fandral an absolute nobody was done to play with Asgard’s social mobility.  And then I never really paid it off properly the first time around.  So this time, I’m taking my time with it.  Thor knew Fandral was an absolute nobody, but I think up until this point, Thor thought he was at least someone who had a modicum of social standing.  Instead, he finds Fandral out there working at the docks, getting shouted at for daring to talk to the Crown Prince.  And even this does not go as Thor expects, because he’s used to getting a certain amount of respect.  He’s used to people bowing and scraping before him, so when that doesn’t happen, he has no idea how to respond.  He’s always thought that Fandral is taking advantage of Loki, but at least Fandral respects Loki’s position.

But my favourite Thor is one who isn’t necessarily stupid, but can sometimes come across as such because he puts his feelings before his ability to lead.  And he’s very much doing that here.  He’s trying to protect Loki from getting into trouble, even at Loki’s expense.  He tells Heimdall exactly how Loki gets to Jötunheimr, but only gives Odin the vaguest of details.  It would be faster to just tell Odin the truth, but telling Odin the truth would lead to Loki’s hidden cache, and Thor doesn’t want to risk that.  Even though he should.

Meanwhile, we’ve been introduced to a couple more of Loki’s friends, who didn’t get introduced until a bit later originally.  Vali and Alv show up here, acting as one more indication that Thor knows absolutely nothing about Loki and what he gets up to.  Thor has no idea who these kids are, and it becomes clear that Alv even seems to know something about Loki that Thor does not.  And like Fandral, Alv doesn’t seem to view Loki as someone above him in status.  These weirdos that Loki hangs out with see him as one of them, more than anything else.  Already, Loki is setting himself up as a prince in name only.  And Thor doesn’t like this.

Since it’s the end of the arc, this seems like a good time to update the family tree, which I shared a few months back.  Not a whole lot has changed, but between arcs seems like a good time to update and refresh stuff.  Next arc, we’re going to be introduced to a few new characters, so I wanted to go ahead and take a moment to solidify what’s already known.

As before, it’s been split up a bit to make it a little easier to follow.

Just going down the tree, we know that Odin’s mother (Bestla) was a frost giant.  Which means that through a trail even more convoluted than Loki realises, he’s a distant cousin to Thor.

Cul is (as far as we know) dead, Vili has some unknown baby mama, and Vé has run off to marry an elf princess.

But then it branches off with Frigga.  We know that she and Iri are cousins.  This has been established in an earlier chapter.  We also know, from an earlier chapter, that Iri’s uncle—not his father—was the previous king of Vanaheimr.  The same uncle who sent Frigga off to marry Odin at the end of the war.  Before the war, Bragi was in line to be king, making him Frigga’s brother.

Bragi is not Hogun’s father by birth.  He married Hogun’s mother.  Technically that still makes Hogun a cousin of Thor and Loki’s, but with Bragi more or less being a prisoner of war, Hogun is basically nobody.  Actually, not being Vanir gives Hogun a bit more freedom to fuck around and do as he pleases.

Some of this comes from trying to make sense of the actual Norse family tree, and some comes from trying to make sense of the family tree as Marvel presents it.  Marvel has conflated a couple of characters and changed their roles (mainly, I suspect, to avoid all the incest).  Meanwhile, I feel like the incest is a feature of European Polytheism, and not a bug, so I’ve tried to put everything into place in a way to satisfy both the myths, and Marvel.  I added Hogun into this mess because he does have a fairly mysterious backstory, and I wanted to present that backstory in a way that just fits in a little bit better with a xenophobic and imperialistic Asgard.

The Vanir section of this family tree is a fucking circle, and I cannot wait to show you more of it when we get there.  But man, just imagine being 12 years old, and having to memorise this mess for your future role in politics.

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Notes | Isla Nublar #13: Monorail

Notes for Monorail

This is a part of the original version of the fic that I always felt was really rushed.  Large sections of it read more like a rough draft to me, and skip over a lot of stuff in between.

And one of the biggest problems I always had with the first version was I set a lot of stuff up, and then kind of let the reader infer the details from there.  Which makes this middle section here the perfect spot to slow down and address some of the things that got very brief hints early on, but no real resolution originally.  And even though Thor doesn’t really feature as a character in this chapter, he’s the driving force of it.  And Thor in this fic, this time around even more than last time, is a victim of AO3’s horrible decision making when it comes to tags.  Originally (it’s not anymore), the first version of this fic was not tagged for Movies.  It was tagged for All Media Types.  All of my Thor fic was, as a deliberate choice.  But that tag is now synned with Movies for some ignorant reason, and it makes Thor seem really weird as a result.

Because Thor in the movies is, and always has been, kind of dopey.  If anything, he’s fallen more into that horrible “golden retriever” fanon that was popular early on, and I’ve always hated that.  In my opinion, Thor’s best when he doesn’t realise he’s turning into Odin.  Comic Thor has a depth that doesn’t exist within the MCU.  He has anger issues, and waffles between wanting progress, but wanting to honour tradition without trying to separate the two.  He strives to do the right thing, often without stopping to consider who it’s right for.  The whole thing in recent years about him not being worthy, and Mjölnir being fed up with him finally seems to have culminated with Thor #23.  And it’s that moody, stubborn Thor I like most.  Thor in the MCU has always felt really shallow and hollow as a comparison.

But I don’t want to tag every iteration of canon, and even just tagging both Movies and Comics makes it look like I’m an idiot who doesn’t know how tags work.  There’s no right answer here, except for AO3 to give us back the All Media Types tag.

Another problem this fic had, which I think every one of my AUs has had, is that many people come into it expecting it to follow the beats of Thor 1.  People expected that with Tarbell vol 1 and Trickster God as well (or at least expected it to follow How to Train Your Dragon), and then got very confused when that didn’t happen.  This one gets that twice, because other people expect it to follow the beats of Jurassic World, or for the characters to become expies of the JW characters.  But like the others, this fic is its own story.  It uses the action of Jurassic World as a backdrop for the second half, because they happen to be on the island as it goes down (which I have only recently learned is meant to be the week after Christmas, but oh well).  But all of this together means that people expect Thor to be this friendly, bubbly idiot who has endless patience for Loki, and then call him an asshole when that’s not the case.  Instead, Thor ran out of patience for Loki years ago, but can’t get rid of him.  One thing I love in the comics lately is how Loki’s relationship with Thor is somehow much better than Thor’s relationship with Loki.  Loki hangs around, thinking they’re okay, and then gets really angry and bitter when Thor makes it clear that they are not okay.  That’s kind of what I’m playing with here, and what’s ultimately leading them down the path they’re heading down.  Loki has figured out that what he thinks is just casual but expected irritation, with some genuine fights peppered in, is straight up loathing.  He thought that if he came along, Thor would be a grumpy asshole about it, but eventually calm down and ignore him.  Instead, his continued presence has only escalated Thor’s anger.  This scheme has not gone the way either of them expected it to go, and now nobody’s happy.

There’s a scene we haven’t got to yet, which in the original version did not land very well at all.  It got implied at the very beginning, but never truly explored, so it fizzled out rather than resolving properly.  Because Darcy’s right.  Ian didn’t just randomly break up with her, and that’s why I added the brand new scene with him at the beginning.  Even then, when he shows up at her job, Darcy realises he’s being weird, but doesn’t understand why.  Then he randomly breaks up with her with a weird excuse that she immediately calls bullshit on, and she’s so pissed off about the money (rightfully so) that she doesn’t realise how weird the entire situation was.

Ian didn’t break up with her.  Ian was convinced to not take her money, which Thor knows she worked hard for.  I think he genuinely misunderstood the whole “couples” situation, and was surprised that Darcy wasn’t going to spend her hard-earned money on something more reasonable, like a house or a car, or put it into an investment.  But he and Loki obviously come from money, which Darcy has only just kind of figured out as well. To Thor, this isn’t necessarily a once in a lifetime opportunity.  To Thor, this is a trip you take when you have the ability to take the time off.  If she puts the money she saved into some kind of asset, she can go later when she meets someone who is able to pay for his own ticket.  He’s not stupid; just out of touch.  It’s the same reason he seems to think Loki is the cause of all his own problems, rather than taking a moment to consider that maybe being cut off and cut out was not going to enable him to just pull himself up by the bootstraps.

After all, Loki didn’t even have an invitation to go home for Christmas, and this does not seem unusual to him.

But this entire conflict has stemmed from Thor trying to be the superhero and look out for Darcy’s best interests, without taking a moment to even consult her about what her best interests are.  Thor thinks he’s managed to save Darcy a lot of money, and even give her a good boost toward greater success, so he’s confused when she instead chose to spend it on a vacation instead.  And then she chose to not only spend it on a vacation, but on someone who has (from Thor’s perspective) made a living by leeching off of others.  But you know, roads to hell and best intentions and all that.

Thor was never the bad guy in this, and was never meant to be.  But a lot of people read him as the bad guy, when I wanted it to be a lot more complicated than that.  I feel like a lot of people will still read him as the bad guy just by dint of the main ship being what it is.  The same thing happened in Tarbell, where I made Loki the biggest asshole imaginable, and a couple people still managed to see Thor as the worse brother.  But Loki is still the person who knew his presence would cause trouble and jumped on the opportunity to go.  He’s still the person who went out of his way to invade someone else’s private space just because he knew it would irritate Thor.  He’s still the person who may have tried to murder their father.  And now he’s the person who’s taking money from Darcy, after she spent years saving it up.

And Thor has plenty of reasons to believe Loki did try to murder their father.  He has an apparent motive, and he very clearly still harbours resentment and anger toward Odin.  And he’s apparently impulsive enough that he once stabbed Thor over what seems to be a weird drunken, “you won’t, no balls.”  And there’s still the question of why Loki spent a year in prison.

I do wonder how much perceptions would change if this story were told from Thor’s point of view, because Loki would come off as absolutely vile.  But this fic was written for fans of Loki more than it was written for fans of Thor, so that’s always going to skew perception.  But I’m hoping that by the end of this new version, my original intent will be better realised, and there will be a bit of a split in opinion between who’s in the right in this whole disaster of a mess.  Because in my opinion, having the full story on both sides, they’re both equally wrong, and they’re both equally assholes who deserve their comeuppance.

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Notes | God of Outcasts #30: Magic

Chapter notes for Magic

Okay so I want to start getting back into doing these every chapter.  And this chapter is part of the larger event that marks a turning point for Loki.  I think put quite simply, he’s done being afraid.  And those of you who read the original version of this fic will see the irony in that.  But Loki has decided that nobody owns him, and that he doesn’t owe anybody respect that he is not shown first.

He knows he’s not respected much anyway, but this is the chapter where he learns the full extent of it.  Starting right from the very beginning, as guards talk shit about him right in front of Odin.  Odin should correct that behaviour.  He should demand respect, even in the given circumstances.  But he doesn’t.  Way back in chapter 7, he’s shown correcting Thor’s behaviour on this though.  Odin does demand respect from Thor, but that seems to be about as far as Odin’s efforts go in this matter.  He’s wanted to know who’s been responsible for Loki’s cuts and bruises, but even then he never put much effort into finding out.  If the answer comes to him, great.  But there was no reason whatsoever for that secret to have been kept beyond wilful ignorance.  There are a dozen people he could have got answers from, but he didn’t.  And now he lets his own guards talk shit about Loki right in front of both of them, and does nothing to stop it.  He does nothing to stem that behaviour.

I’ve said before that I’ve never liked the idea that Odin is outright abusive in his parenting, though he does put being a king miles ahead of being a father.  He will do what’s right for Asgard before he does what’s right for his children.

And Loki knows this.  He’s known this for a long time.  This is the environment he’s grown up in, so it’s not some grand revelation that he is not his father’s first priority.  But it still hurts.

Another little thing that’s happening here comes from Bror and Geiri.  Loki is seen as one of two things: either a monster, or a child.  He’s the same ages as Thor.  He’s fifteen years old, but those who aren’t afraid of him treat him like he’s much younger.  He’s always been so bitter about being seen as too small or too young, and even those who do know better seem to act like he’s barely old enough to be on his own the way he is.  And now he’s figured out that if he’s going to be seen as either a monster or a child, and nothing in between, he may as well scare the hell out of anybody who doesn’t show him respect.  He knows that he’s got this role lined up for him once he fully comes of age, and Thor takes the throne, but he has never until this chapter given a moment’s thought to what it truly means.  He already understands that if he takes this role while still holding a claim to the throne, it’s going to cause problems.  But now he knows why it’s going to cause problems.  Everyone expects him to abuse this position to rule from the shadows, and you know what?  Why not let people think that’s exactly what he intends?  Maybe then they’ll go out of their way to avoid offending him in the hopes he won’t manufacture some reason to have them taken out of his way.

Bror, meanwhile, has been one of his guards since Loki was an infant.  He’s one of the few palace guards who understands that his post isn’t guarding some terrifying war trophy.  He’s guarding a little boy with no self preservation instincts.

And it’s self preservation that in the end allow Loki to get away with spinning his version of events.  In my last notes, I talked about how Fandral wasn’t being completely honest about how he distracted the guard who found him.  As soon as that man saw Fandral in the room, he knew his life was over.  He didn’t see anyone at the keep, because he was too busy doing something he should not have been doing with a fifteen year old boy.  Geiri and Bror were told, point blank, that Loki was planning a heist.  They know he did it, and had to outright lie about it because their heads were on the chopping block too.  Asgard seems to have a big problem with guards not taking Loki seriously enough when he divulges criminal information.  And now if it ever gets out that a band of teenagers pulled off such a dangerous scheme all because nobody took one of them seriously, they’re all dead.  Loki’s plan was terrible, and it was inevitable that they got caught, but he just kind of chaos god, bumblefucked his way through on blind luck.  Odin still knows he’s responsible, even if he can’t prove it, but the outcome could have been much worse.

But Loki’s tired of not being taken seriously, and relying on that as his sole weapon.  He is going to be the most feared motherfucker in the land, and he doesn’t care what it takes to make that happen.  This is the moment he goes from indulging his curiosity to spitefully determined.  He’s got all these forbidden grimoires he’s stolen, and he’s going to read, catalogue, and memorise every one of them.  He’s going to figure out the full extent of what he can and cannot do, and use that to command the respect he’s due. 

I’ve always had a very rigid structure in mind for how the magic works, and want to bring more of that to the forefront.  I’m so glad that the series finally gave Loki more magic over two episodes than he’d shown through the culmination of the entire MCU previously, but he’s still deeply underpowered.  And I loved how they acknowledged that.  Classic Loki did amazing things with his brief screen time, and then was still a Loki at the end of the day—just a lazy sack of shit living in the void because it was the path of least resistance.  Loki in the comics pretty much has free rein to do whatever the hell he wants under the guise of “magic,” be it through his own innate abilities, or through the knowledge of how to use some other external force.  And I wanted to build that up a bit better.  He’s able to see a pattern in everything he’s copying down, because he’s in a unique position.  He’s some sort of half breed, though what sort is unclear.  But whatever combination of thing that he is has left him sensitive to energies that other races may not even be aware exist.  He’s able to figure out that there is no Ljósálfar and Dökkálfar magic.  It’s just Álfar magic, used in different ways.

I posted a map a little bit ago of Jötunheimr, and talked about how its portrayal in the MCU bugs me, because it ignores all the other Jötunn races.  But if Álfar magic is the same depending on the race of elf in particular, then Jötunn magic must surely be the same regardless of what sort of giant a person is.  I wanted to post that map before I posted this chapter, because it’s relevant here.  And not just in Loki figuring out that he can cast fire without using seiðr.  These other Jötunns are a catalyst for Loki finally deciding he’s done being afraid of Odin.

As I began rewriting this, I realised I had my timeline fucked up.  Unfortunately, that means one of the goofier bits from the original version will not be in the rewrite.  It’s about 50 years too late, and even though nobody would ever notice, I’d notice.  So I’ve completely rewritten and reimagined the entire sequence, and added in a bunch of preamble to it in the form of Rötgart.  Loki goes back there without using the Dragon Lines, and learns that he can do this with enough determination and effort.  But that isn’t the main point.  It comes back again later, but now the focus has changed to Asgard itself.  Another thing I’ve mentioned before is how much I dislike the notion that Asgard is some enlightened utopia.  Even in the movies, we see some pretty blatant fantasy racism.  Frost giants are monsters, humans are insignificant and expendable.  We have two races that are apparently completely wiped up by Asgard over the first two Thor movies, and neither are given any weight or consideration beyond being races of evil monsters that deserve to be wiped out.  Asgard is brutal, imperialistic, and abusive in its power over Yggdrasil.

And everyone knows it.

Loki was raised on Asgard, and he knows abstractly that bad things happen.  War brides get a lot of mention, and Loki never once even considers the full implication there.  Why would he?  That’s a perfectly normal thing to happen during a war.  Loki is well aware that he was stolen himself.  “Adopted” is used to dull the entire situation, but at the end of the day he was still taken from his realm by a foreign king and raised to not be Jötunn, but Æsir.  And he doesn’t see anything wrong with this.  He knows Jötunn spirits are forbidden on Asgard for being toxic, but he never once considers that the average Asgardian is smart enough to not just gulp down poison.  Without knowing it, he’s been pumped full of propaganda, and has never once even had the opportunity to look at Asgard from an outsider’s perspective.

Now, he’s been on Rötgart twice, and both times has been recognised and called out as Jötunn.  And neither time was he spat at, scorned, or cursed for it.  Because the dwarves have no quarrel with the Jötnar.  Somehow these fuckers keep getting their hands on precious Jötunn steel, but even that doesn’t seem like enough of a reason for the two races to be at odds with one another.

It’s not until Loki mentions Asgard that the conversation gets weird.  Perception of him immediately shifts from being some shitlord causing problems, to having managed to escape and run away from his supposed masters.  And this is the first time that Loki truly has to confront the fact that he is not his father’s son.  He spins a quick lie to conceal his identity, and then immediately realises it’s true.  He’s then forced to acknowledge his luck in having been found by Odin, rather than anybody else.  He knows he’s well looked after, and what could have happened to him otherwise.

That, on top of finally getting a missing piece to the mystery that’s been hounding him for years, Loki needs to address his father.  Not just about the old man, or his place on Asgard, but his position within the court.  Odin himself has shown Loki a considerable lack of respect, and it’s time to lay everything out on the table.  Odin gets to be the first person to truly witness the scope of what Loki has so far mostly been keeping to himself.  Only Thor, Hogun, and Fandral have any idea what Loki is capable of.  And now he takes all of these little skills he’s learned over the past 28 chapters and uses them to command respect.  And the first person he chooses to walk this road with is Odin himself.  Up until now, Odin has seen Loki as a disappointment almost.  He kept Loki for a purpose, and Loki has failed to live up to it.  He’s skilled in magic, but he’s unruly and directionless, and unable to even defend himself in most cases.  He uses his tricks to run around in the shadows and apparently make love potions for Thor.  How embarrassing.

Except now, Loki holds nothing back.  He knows how to manipulate a conversation to skew negotiations in his favour.  He’s learned all about blackmail and bribery.  He knows that you don’t have to fight to be feared, and that all he needs to do is to show that he can do something that his opponent can’t.  He offers Odin information, and is careful in how he words his demands.  He’ll tell Odin what he wants to know.  He won’t return anything.  He won’t even apologise or take accountability.  And he knows Odin doesn’t take him seriously enough to properly weigh his options.  Loki wants to know some irrelevant secret, while Odin wants to know how in the hell Loki got past his security.  He doesn’t consider that what Loki is actually asking for is transparency, because this one question lifts the fog off of a dozen other lies.  And all Odin learns is that Loki’s been doing his homework.  Even if Odin was still very opaque about some details, Loki has enough to work with going forward.  Meanwhile, Odin’s just watched his fifteen year old son perform magic that nobody on Asgard seems capable of replicating.  And even if they were, they could replicate the spell but not necessarily trace its full path.

And in the end, the agreement they come to is to basically maintain the status quo.  Loki weighs the options presented to him and decides he’s ultimately not losing anything, and may come out a bit ahead.  Odin, meanwhile, gets to consider how to move forward, since it’s now very clear his plan, whatever it was, has got away from him.  It seems only dumb luck on his part that Loki still wants to move forward with it, even if he’s still not been made privy to all the details.  And then Loki ends the discussion by proving that he will not be intimidated any further.  He knows Odin will never find the record, and Odin knows it too.  Just like they’ll never find any of Eldred’s things.

But this entire arc has all tied into something else that happens in the background, which is that Loki is constantly forced to grow up too quickly.  And a lot of people have picked up on this, how he’s held to the same standards as Thor.  He and Thor both know that Loki is chronologically older, but physically and emotionally, he’s always seemed younger.  Even Odin and Frigga seem to forget that Loki is older.  And this arc has been Loki being forced to grow up early in a very different way.  If he keeps fucking around like a little kid, he’s always going to be seen as a little kid.  People take Thor seriously, so why not Loki?  Thor’s talking about forming a party once he’s old enough, and looking ahead to the future.  So Loki needs to catch up, even if he’s not ready or doesn’t want to.  And I want to use this to kind of marry the comic version of the character with the MCU version.  In the comics, especially since his rebirth post-Siege, Loki has been an uncontrollable force of nature, just off on some wild ADHD adventure without any concern for what’s going on around him.  In the MCU, he puts on this attitude of being stuffy and closed off, as though fun is beneath him.  And I want him to be both of these things, like a code-switching chameleon.  He can be wild and directionless when nobody important is looking, but also act like he is completely above everyone else when he needs to.  And this is where it starts.

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Fic Notes: Odinsons

First off, I’m not even sorry.

This started out as a PWP, about a year ago at this point.  Like, I’m pretty sure next week is actually exactly one year.  I never intended to continue it, and even got the impression from a couple of people that they wanted to, and gave them my endorsement.  (If you’re one of those people, I’d still love to see where you went with it!)  But then I wanted to do a bit more depraved kinky shit, and frankly what I’d established with the first fic had a good foundation for it, so I just kind of tacked more onto it and called it a series.  It wasn’t until probably the third or fourth part that I realised there was something resembling a plot happening, and that I had no idea how to resolve that plot.  None at all.  There were two directions I could have gone with it: the direction everyone in the comments wanted me to go, and the direction I ultimately decided to take it.

Again, if you hate this ending and want to write your own version, go for it.  I would love to read it!

And if you’re wondering why I did not go the direction everyone in the comments wanted me to go, it’s because first and foremost this is some depraved kinky nonsense.  It was never meant to have a plot, much less a, uh ahem satisfying ending.  It’s porn.  It’s just straight up dirtybadwrong porn. 

To answer questions that I know will be posed, and which already have been posed, let’s go down the line:

Why doesn’t Loki tell Frigga?

Because Odin and Thor both terrify him.  His choice at the beginning of the final part is to play a role and escape with what’s left of his dignity, or to be cast out of Asgard on the spot and left to Thor’s (lack of) mercy.  Loki can either suffer the consequences of his perceived actions and win something close to freedom after he gives birth, or they can both be banished where he knows he will be chained to Thor for the rest of his life.  If he told Frigga, he knows Odin would banish them both.

Why doesn’t Loki resume his male form?

For the child.  Plain and simple.  He can still leave, and Thor even half expected him to.  Odin told him to hand over the child and disappear, banished from Asgard.  And he couldn’t do that.  He can’t be seen in Asgard in his true form, and with Thor now king he has no idea what punishment awaits him if he is seen.  He could resume his male form, take the child, and flee, but then he’d need a wet nurse.  And that both opens him up to liability and unneeded risk.  He could keep his female form, take the child, and flee, but as he says, where would he go?  Thor has not only worn him down, but Thor overpowered him so easily, and Loki has to believe that some part of Thor didn’t want to hurt him.  If Thor was still this brutal, what could a stranger do to him?  In this case, it’s the evil he knows vs the evil he can’t even imagine.

So for the time being, it seems as though he has decided to sacrifice himself for the child.

Why doesn’t Loki end the pregnancy?

At first, it’s because he doesn’t know how.  He’s never needed this magic, because like so many young men, he thinks he’s immune to disaster.  He knows how to keep himself from getting pregnant, so why would he need to know how to end a pregnancy?  He’s also got this threat of not only exposure, but further torment if he does.  And then Thor gets his way anyway, and now the goalposts change.  The torment becomes reality, but the exposure becomes so much worse.  And for the first few months, Thor keeps him too terrified of his own shadow to even risk trying anything.  He spends months systematically breaking Loki’s will, making damn certain Loki knows that nothing is off limits, and that while Loki may still have some sense of shame, Thor hasn’t got a single ounce of it.  And worse, nobody wants to stop him even when he does cross a very public line.

What’s stopping Loki from telling Frigga now that Odin is dead?

Shame?  Sorrow?  A complete and total lack of willpower to fight back any longer?  Take your pick.  Or maybe he does tell her.  I don’t know.

This final part did something the other five didn’t: it deviated a bit.  The others all showed the exact same timeline, from altering perspectives, but I wanted to slightly break that chain a bit this time around.  Loki had to know things Thor didn’t, and I had to show that he knew these things.  I also wanted Thor to be so far up his own ass that he was completely oblivious to certain things, and it goes above and beyond simply thinking Loki wants him and is being coy.  Loki doesn’t know whether or not Thor is aware of Odin’s instructions, and at least at first sees it as a means of escape.  If he can survive Thor, he can leave Asgard and never have to deal with any of it ever again.  And then that selfish fucker goes and keels over, and at that point it’s too late to come up with a new plan.  Loki’s plan was to murder Thor the night he fled, but two things happened: Thor took the throne, and the child was a girl.  Now, whether or not Thor is that horrific, who knows?  There’s definitely something wrong with him, and everyone knows it.  All Loki knows is he cannot leave the child behind, and he cannot take her with him.  Killing Thor and fleeing into the night is one thing.  Killing a king and fleeing into the night with a newborn is an entirely different matter, and not one Loki has the strength to see through.  At least, not now.

So for the time being, Loki has chosen to lie back and think of Asgard, effectively.  He knows what Thor’s capable of, and he knows that somehow things can always manage to get worse.  Thor gets bored easily, and will always find a way to outdo himself.  Although at least for the time being, he’s got a bit of a reprieve.

I have a couple of ideas for what happens down the line, but I don’t anticipate writing any more of this series.  If you want to, go for it.  I love seeing what other people do with the toys I leave behind.

But despite everything, this series was 80,000 words of pure kink.  That’s all it was ever meant to be.  It was never meant to be anything more than hardcore Loki whump, with Thor domming the fuck out of him.  If you expected some heroic underdog story to emerge, I don’t know what to tell you.

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Updated family tree and roster

After letting my brain relax a bit, I pulled up Photoshop and put together a slightly better version of the family tree seen here.  I clarified a few things better, like Bestla being Laufey’s aunt, and expanded Frigga’s side a little bit.  Amora and Lorelei are distant cousins to Thor and Loki, and this isn’t the only time such arrangements have been made. 

The family tree in the myths is a disaster, and every time the comics tried to fix it, somehow things only got worse.  But I didn’t want to fix it.  I wanted it to be sordid and kinda gross.  And it is going to get worse as more is revealed.

I have this idea that the Æsir and the Vanir have a different level of acceptance when it comes to how closely things are kept within the family.  The Vanir are, canonically, a bunch of degenerates.  Were they on Vanaheimr, Freyr and Freyja’s Lannister bullshit would probably be openly encouraged.  But on Asgard?  Gross, man.  Now hang on, I need to go marry my cousin.

Before Amora went and got herself knocked up, Thor was betrothed to her.  Now, it’s Loki and Lorelei who will be turning this family tree back into a circle, although this time there’s no actual blood relation.  He has a very weak blood relation to Odin, but not to Frigga.  And somehow that’s better.

As for the “unknowns,” they’re just names that haven’t come up in the narrative yet.  These people are known in-universe.  But I’ve tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, and have even drawn a few things incorrectly, based on what the narrative has suggested, rather than what has been outright stated.  So, don’t take this as pure gospel.  It’s just here as a guide to help visualise how fucked up this dynasty is.

I’ll be keeping an updated version of it on the character roster.

(Also, I realised I spelled Hodur’s name wrong, but I was too lazy to open Photoshop back up just to fix that.)

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Family Tree

Someone on AO3 has asked to see the family tree for God of Outcasts.  I do have the whole thing mapped out, very messily, in Aeon Timeline, but it’s ugly and full of spoilers.  So here’s a quick hand-drawn version of what’s known, that won’t give away anything that’s coming up.

In the most recent chapter, Loki mentions having a tenuous place in line for three different thrones outside of Asgard.  Up until recently, he was second in line for Asgard, but he’s already abdicated for that.

Odin’s current plan is to put him first in line for Vanaheimr’s throne, even though he already has a weak claim to it through Frigga (there’s a lot of cousin marrying going on here, but come on.  It’s a royal family tree).  At one point, it was referenced that Odin and Frigga were arranged to end a war, which also installed Iri on the throne.  Iri only has daughters, effectively eliminating his line with him, unless he can marry them off to someone important.  Just, not Loki apparently.  There’s also the complication of Amora getting knocked up, but that’s a surprise tool that will help us later.

A similar situation has developed on Álfheimr with Vé.  He and his unnamed wife have no children, and Aelsa is unwed without heirs.  Since Aelsa has no family whatsoever mentioned in the comics, it seemed like a good opportunity to just fuck with the Álfar throne as well, and put it in danger of Asgardian colonialism along with Vanaheimr.

Jötunheimr is one that’s lived rent-free in my brain for a while.  Bestla is a frost giant, married to an Asgardian king.  Asgard has plenty of war brides, but why would a king take a war bride?  This shit was arranged, and a king wouldn’t be arranged to any old pleb.  Like with Odin and Frigga, Bestla was a previous king’s daughter (making her Laufey’s aunt), married off to end a war.  As for how secure Laufey’s line is, and whether Jötunheimr too is truly in danger of Asgardian colonialism depends on whether Laufey’s sons have survived this cycle so far.

I tried to map this out on several different pieces of software, but being that it is a fairly realistic royal family tree, with weird lines and a touch of incest, every single program I used fell apart and stopped showing all the levels.  Even at just this size, ignoring everything that hasn’t yet been brought up, I’ve decided the only way to do this will be in Photoshop, which I did not want to deal with today.

But I will probably wind up putting something together somewhere, and if you guys want, keep it updated somewhere.  Loki and Thor have uncovered some real bullshit, which is why this family tree is a mess.  They just don’t know it yet.

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Chapter Notes: Heist

So, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these because it’s hard to keep up with them while I’m doing daily uploads.  On top of that, posting has been weird in general the last couple of weeks, because I’m still in an adjustment period for new medication, and it decided that this month needs to be the “hit me in the face with fatigue and brain fog side effects” part.  Posting is going to continue to be a bit odd for the next couple of days, but hopefully I can get a bunch of stuff done between now and then because my backlog runs out on Friday. D:

But I wanted to post something about this chapter in particular because there’s a lot that gets laid down. It’s a very busy chapter, and I thought about splitting it up and slowing it down, but I kind of like that it’s frantic and all over the place. It presents this sort of manic energy that quickly comes to define who Loki is as a chaos god.

To start, this is the last chapter where he’s a kid, really. This is the moment where he grows up. He dealt with Freyr a few chapters back, which to Loki was just the night before. And in this single day cycle, he’s gone from someone who is openly bullied to a criminal mastermind.  And really, that just shows how underestimated he is, and how much he allows himself to be underestimated.  He’s been running amok for a while now, associating with smugglers and thieves, and even engaging in said practises, so stealing shit like this really is no leap at all.

I always liked the story with Eldred in the comics, but never felt like there was room for it in the original version of this story. And then when War of the Realms revisited Eldred with Loki’s busted-ass memories of what happened, giving an entirely different recount of events, I really wanted to combine the two versions in this rewrite. In this reality, both versions are true. Eldred is someone who Loki meets with clandestinely, getting scraps of knowledge in return for scraps of whatever Loki can spare. But Loki also steals everything the man owns and decides that for some fucked up reason, he deserves it.  But that’s another thing I never wanted to lose sight of, and which does come back in bigger ways later.  Of course Loki is arrogant and entitled.  He’s a prince, and even if he removed himself from the line, ultimately it changes nothing.  He’s allowed to run amok with few consequences, except for when his bullshit makes Odin look bad.  As far as Loki is concerned, something was taken from him, and he’s going to get it back.

And there was always some potential for darkness in Loki in the original version of this story, and it came through very occasionally. The way he treated Fandral was one such instance, and him nearly murdering Týr was another. I wanted to kind of add a few more moments like this, letting the reader know that at any point, the right (or wrong) set of circumstances would be all it takes to throw Loki over the edge into villainy. That all it would take is for something to piss him off enough that yeah sure, his morals could become flexible enough to include genocide. After all, that is his place on the Sacred Timeline.

Another thing I wanted to fix with this rewrite is his relationship with Thor. And fix is the wrong word, ultimately. It hasn’t changed at all; we’re just seeing more of it. We’re seeing why Loki tends to get so hurt when Thor does something to upset him. Even Thor forgets that Loki is older. To Thor, Loki will always be the little brother who needs looking after. But he’s also Loki’s best friend. I wanted to show more of that closeness, both in their physical relationship, and in their emotional relationship. The chapter starts off with a weird argument between them, because they’re both in trouble for different reasons, and Thor isn’t immediately willing to get into more trouble to help Loki do what he needs to do. But in the end, he shows up anyway. And he not only helps, but he knows Loki and his stupid trash-collecting hobby well enough to be able to orchestrate things when Loki cannot. Loki exhausts himself with magic, and Thor just instantly takes over so Loki can cease to exist for a little while. And Loki trusts him to know how to do that. Loki doesn’t need to explain his full plan, because he knows Thor already understands what they’re doing, and Hogun’s not going to slow things down by doing something as tedious as asking questions. Obviously they’re not going to haul everything out by hand when Loki can just make shit disappear and go where he wants.

A lot of Loki’s magic has culminated in this chapter as well. He’s still very bad at sight magic, but he’s improved to the point that he was at least able to confirm his suspicions. He’s able to move an entire shop’s worth of supplies, and then some, through his magic alone, and he’s just a scrawny fifteen year old boy. And like all of the trash he’s collected, he’s still not stealing anything that will be useful to a single other person on Asgard, even if what he’s stealing is dangerous beyond measure. But that’s only because even at fifteen years old, he’s one of the only people alive who knows how to use it. Odin wants him to take a specific role within the court, and has given him a lot of freedom to prepare for it, because a sorcerer is nothing if all he knows is the same magic any pleb can perform.  I’ve never liked the idea that Frigga taught him his magic, as cute as it is, because it does diminish his position as someone who’s supposed to be supremely scary in what he can do.  She may have got him started, but I think most people will agree that MCU!Loki has been unreasonably nerfed, even now.  And we saw that in the series, with Old Loki conjuring up all of Asgard to distract Alioth.  This is someone who, in the comics, was able to conjure an illusion so convincing, he fooled Dr Strange and used it to steal the Sorcerer Supreme mantle.  MCU Loki could never, and I’m not afraid to say it.

The bit at the end with Loki not even getting to smoke magic weed with his friends is also setting up more for later. He’s a raging drunk in the comics and the myths, and I love that they’ve kind of started to lean into this in the MCU as well. I’ve always extended this to him being the sort who will use any substance that can detach him from reality, whether it’s booze, drugs, or dopamine. He’s a complete ho in almost all iterations of canon (catch up, MCU), and he seems like he has a gambling problem in the comics as well. Him being a frost giant means that he has to go out of his way to find what works on a chemical level, and there isn’t much. I have this mental image that I genuinely want to explore down the line where he just goes a bit nuts on Midgard. Antifreeze? Sure, let’s drink it. Poison mushrooms? Gonna eat all of that. He’s learned long ago that opium and coke don’t do shit for him, but he wants to get wasted and will find any way possible to do it. And that starts with this subtle resentment that he can’t even get wasted with his friends on Asgard. He can’t get drunk unless he smuggles in illegal wine from Jötunheimr, and magic weed doesn’t seem to get him high. Time to start going through everything else he got from Eldred’s stash and see what works, just so he can party with his friends.

And then there’s Fandral. These last few chapters with him have been Loki fundamentally misunderstanding how Thor is right, although I’m not even sure Thor understands how he’s right. Because Fandral is 100% taking advantage, as we see here. Just not for money or status. In fact, money and status have turned into a pleasant bonus to the real reason Fandral has wormed his way in.  I love Fandral as a character.  He’s funny and kind of stupid, and there is no reality in which he is not sleazy and gross.  He’s a total pickup artist, at best.

The scene with Fandral is absolutely meant to be uncomfortable. Loki is so starved for affection and so naïve that he has no idea that none of this is okay. Fandral is taking advantage of that, grooming Loki to accept that discomfort and uncertainty are normal parts of sex. He’s learned how to push and get away with it, and absolutely knows that Loki will not reject him. Loki wants a friend too badly to risk losing this friendship, so he chooses to believe Fandral knows what he’s doing and goes along with it.

I have this headcanon for Fandral that he’s like, the epitome of toxic homosexuality. That kind of self-loathing, overly-compensating sort who won’t really admit that he is what he is. He won’t let Loki kiss him because “he’s not a girl,” which really translates to “no homo.” Loki is naïve and inexperienced, which means he doesn’t know the difference. If Fandral tells him this is how things are done, he’ll believe it. And despite what Loki might think, at no point during this “relationship” are they exclusive. Fandral’s out there getting blow jobs and handies from every stable boy and servant who falls for the same thing.  He probably even knows one or two other young guys who are in the same boat who he hooks up with every now and then.  Even Loki recognises that Fandral already knows what he likes, and what that must mean, but he never really puts two and two together.

But Fandral’s attitudes toward sex weren’t formed in a vacuum either. Sure, he’s a closeted nightmare, but there’s more to it. And I’ve waffled on how direct to be about it, not out of any caution in approaching the subject, but because it’s kind of funnier if Loki never figures it out. The short answer is Fandral’s mother is absolutely a sex worker. Her husband was executed for cowardice, and she works in the palace but clearly doesn’t make enough money to feed and clothe her only child. He’s fifteen and already takes odd jobs and hunts to put food on the table, but otherwise seems completely invisible.  He’s uneducated and illiterate, because those are luxuries.  He never seems to want to go home, and his prospects are literally the army or mucking pig shit. He’s even outright said there’s nothing he could do that would disgrace them further, because they are already at the bottom of the ladder. He wants to join the Einherjar because these are the only men he’s ever known. He’s watched them come and go his entire life, and he even uses the fact that he knows many of the guards well enough to distract one from what’s going on. He’s probably not taking the most honest of odd jobs either, when it comes down to it, which would explain why it’s not unusual for him to be slinking around places he shouldn’t be late at night.

There’s a reason Frigga doesn’t like him. That is not the sort of boy who should be rubbing shoulders with princes, and she has definitely heard rumours. Pretty much the only saving grace he has is that his mother was married to his father. He’s not a bastard, so at least he’s got that much going for him.

But all of this does come together in this manic way to harden something in Loki. In just over a single day, he’s learned how to cheat people at drinking games, blackmailed Freyr, nearly been killed in a raid, nearly fallen out with Thor, realised exactly how Fandral is taking advantage of him and decided he doesn’t care, orchestrated and pulled off a heist, and started on a path toward a drug problem. It’s been a very packed three chapters, but I feel like stretching it out any longer would diminish the fact that this all happens over such a short period of time.

And that’s why I wanted to lay it all out in plain language, because even with the rewrite, and taking time to actually spell some of this out a bit better, I know a lot will get lost between the lines.

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Trying again with Key Largo

If you read this fic when I first posted it, you probably also read this note I posted along with it.  It was a very raw and angry note, and a lot of it came from people being unable to just let other people have fun.  But I didn’t really explain what had happened, because even in my anger I was trying to maintain a level of tact which, frankly, was not deserved.

Immediately out of the gate, I have distanced myself enough from the event and what was said during the event that I no longer feel the same way about the fic that I said I did.  I don’t hate it.  It doesn’t make me miserable.  I was letting myself feel my emotions, and those emotions came from a place of hurt and frustration.

I will say I’m never doing another fandom event ever again.

But what actually happened wasn’t burnout, like some people speculated.  It was plain and simply fandom bullying.  I had signed up to do a big bang with two different fics: this one, and Tarbell vol 2.  I started posting Tarbell on its own, but you may notice it never got finished either.  It was for a big bang.  It should have been fully written by the posting date.

That didn’t happen, because the well had been poisoned.

And the problem was with Key Largo itself.  This fic is a Loki/Verity slow burn.  It’s very shippy and what I think a lot of people wanted (will want?) out of Isla Nublar, because it’s not trying to subvert anything or make a point.  It’s just a cute little romance, done the only way I know how: with lots of mischief and mayhem.  But every time I talked about it in the chat for the big bang, there were a very small group of people who made it their job to remind me that Verity is asexual.  If I dared to say that I didn’t read her that way, well, I was just wrong.  Obviously this one, singular vague panel only had one true reading, and anyone who disagreed with it was a menace.

Hearing that my fic was wrong just for existing wore me down real quick, and I just couldn’t work on anything for the event.  I kept trying to power through, but well.  We all know how that ended.

Anyway.  If you read Verity as asexual, great.  Fine.  Do that.  If you’re here because you ship these two idiots, fantastic.  Because that’s what I’m here to do.  I’m not going to moderate comments on this one, because I shouldn’t need to, but I am going to be a little less forgiving with people who insist on starting shit where there ain’t none.

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Intro Notes: When the Dust Settles

Okay, so you may remember this from, idk.  Ages ago.  2015?  Somehow, that seems a little too recent, but that’s what the time stamps on AO3 are telling me.

Anyway.  It old.  It was an idea I started, and then for one reason or another, never got very far with.  Which is weird, because it was fully outlined, and even has a decent rough draft.  I mean, there’s a lot I want to change, and I’m working on fully rewriting it, but it’s sat in purgatory for long enough.  This is one I’ve wanted to bring back for ages, and just never got round to it.  But after bringing back Trickster God and finding that an incredibly rewarding experience, I decided that 2022 will be, amongst other things, the year I dig a bunch of old abandoned WIPs out of mothballs.

Starting with this one.

It’s a Thor 1 AU, and they seem weird to do now that we’ve had two more films and a series.  But I’ll tell you what.  Thor 1 AUs hit different now that we all know Loki is just as big of a dumbass as Thor is.  That’s one of the main things that’s getting changed.  Because we have so much more character development to work with from canon, I’ve been able to go back and add that in.  Especially with the Loki series, even though he’s still broken, he hasn’t been completely shattered in that yet.  He’s…

He’s a fucking idiot.

So this is a Loki who hasn’t been tortured and used by Thanos.  He hasn’t had a taste of the throne, and had it ripped from him.  He hasn’t learned that every one of his friends would betray him at the drop of a hat.

But he’s still had that big, jarringly terrifying upset on Jötunheimr.  Only now, he doesn’t have answers.

So this Loki is also a bit broken, but not as broken as he could be. 

If you read this one before, there were three chapters originally posted.  Those chapters have been completely rewritten.  You’ll see comments dated from 2015, but I’ve changed the date on the first chapter upload because it is a brand new chapter.  But this is the upload people are subscribed to, and have bookmarked.  It just made sense to keep this one here.  But every word is brand new.  The next few chapters may feel familiar, because I’ve taken what was already posted before, ripped it apart, and put it all back together with brand new prose and insight.

For the time being, I’ll be posting new bits every week or so.  But this is also being done as part of Unus Annus, so there will be weeks when I have run out of buffer for some fics and wind up posting whatever garbage I do have done.  That’s one of the risks of trying to post something every day for a year.  I’m a month in and already losing my mind.

But if you’re here because you’re one of the 60-odd people who are still subscribed out of some optimistic hope, hello!  You’re the reason I picked this one up first.  There’s a couple more I’ll be picking back up as I progress with this challenge, because those are the fics people have told me they’d like to see finished by subscribing.  I don’t judge by comments, because most of the time people who ask for a fic to be continued never come back when it is.  It’s a nice sentiment, but I don’t put a lot of weight on comments or other visible metrics when it comes to picking up older fic.

Anyway.  When the Dust Settles.  It’s back.  I can’t promise weekly updates, but I’ll try very hard to make sure it stays more or less consistent.

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Chapter Notes: Those Who Hunt Monsters #6: Diplomacy

Notes for Diplomacy

I posted a video to Twitter of just how different this chapter is, compared to what went out in the newsletter.  It got cut in half at one point, because I wanted to spend a little more time with the actual talks than I did before.  I also really didn’t like that Thor being a snotty brat ultimately helped the whole thing along, so the entire end to this chapter was rewritten to just go nowhere.  The end result will still be the same once it gets there, and the pact will be signed, because it has to be.

I think I’ve said before that I love the whole concept of the Non-Interference Pact within Marvel, because it’s the goofiest, most pointless retcon they’ve ever done.  The gods are not allowed to interfere with the goings on of men, and yet Thor’s entire premise is the gods interfering.  But I also wanted to point out before any of it even happens that the pact is unenforceable.  The only way to find out someone is messing around with the mortals is to be on Earth, messing around yourself.  Nobody’s going to want to incriminate their own pantheon and go to war.

I also really love how within Marvel, gods and deities are all fair game, but they ultimately don’t know how to handle certain figures.  One of my favourite minor arcs was with Volstagg when Asgard was in Broxton, and the local reverend got his knickers all in a twist over the Norse gods being there.  When Jesus is brought up in an argument, Volstagg’s entire response is to just laugh and say he’d like to meet the fellow some time.  They toyed with him briefly, but they never really seem to know what to do with him.  Which honestly, fair.  And personally, I think it’s funnier to have the representatives of the modern major religions just completely absent.  Jesus showed up, said, “hey, let’s be nice to each other,” got crucified for it, and flounced off back to his home planet.  The gods can’t be accused of abandoning their followers when humans kill their gods in the first place.

Another subtle thing that I wanted to lean on a bit heavier than I did in previous drafts of this chapter is to show that Loki is already becoming a little chameleon.  He’s learning to play certain roles to get what he wants.  He also completely threw poor old Thein under the bus, and almost gave himself away in the process, but Odin didn’t even notice.  Loki knows Thein’s lessons are full of lies, because of the book he stole a few chapters back.  But nobody knows he stole the book, and if they do know, they don’t seem to care.  But Loki knows that something isn’t right with what he’s being taught, and his trust in his lessons is already starting to fade.  So he’ll act like a grown up to get what he wants, while Thor is behaving like a perfectly ordinary nine-year-old and wanting nothing to do with any of this boring old crap.

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Chapter Notes: Those Who Hunt Monsters #5: Midgard

Notes for Midgard

This chapter is more or less what newsletter readers saw, except for some minor edits in the dialogue and a few name changes.  The first time around, I’d used very different names for the Celts.  I wanted to go ahead and change them to match their names in the comics.  They’re the same characters, but honestly the names are a little more clear this way. 

As for Jupiter, I went for the Roman name specifically because I want to use elements from the Venus comic, and wanted to keep that recognition with the names.  These days, the gods use their Greek names in the comics, which does make a little more sense on a timeline scale.  But when they switched over to using Greek names, they also got weirdly retconned in ways I do not like.  Ra stayed Ra, even though he’s never gone by that name in the comics.  He’s got a bunch of others he’s gone by, but I feel like Ra is the most recognisable of all of them.  You say Ra, and people know what you mean.

As for the chapter itself, little else has changed from the very first, original version.  I think the only other significant change is making the other girl at the end one of Volstagg’s kids, instead of someone a bit more random.  I want Volstagg having a dozen kids to become more prevalent throughout this story, because it gives his reasons for taking a shine to Loki later on a bit more weight.  Volstagg having all these kids should give him every reason to not want a frost giant just hanging out in the realm, but Volstagg such a goddamn dad that nothing will stop him from trying to adopt a sad little kid.

There’s a lot of exposition in this chapter.  Not a whole lot of forward motion happens, but it sets up a lot of things that will come back in time.  I always thought the Non-Interference pact was such a fun idea that never got properly utilised in the comics.  But I guess it was tricky to retcon the fact that Thor had been violating it for decades before it showed up.  That’s why I introduced it so early in this, and didn’t wait until it became a problem.  I wanted this pact to take up a big chunk of early exposition so later on, Loki has a reason to hide who he is.  Not just because humans kill their gods, but because his being on Midgard could absolutely start a war nobody wants.

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Chapter Notes: Those Who Hunt Monsters #4: Runes

Oh boy, I’m back with this.  I actually never left, but it kind of looked that way for some of you.  For newsletter subscribers, this is like, 98% identical to what you already read ages back, and that will continue to be the trend.  Mostly the same, but better (I think.  I hope).

Anyway, chapter notes.  There’s a lot going on here, so let’s talk about that.  The vault scene toward the beginning of this chapter is the only thing that existed in the original version of this fic.  The whole thing with Loki’s teacher and learning blood magic came later, from one of the fics I posted earlier this year, when I realised I’d fucked up in how much I cut out originally.  And even that got expanded upon in this version.

The vault scene in particular got expanded to include things I’d kind of hinted at, when the prose was a little more vague and wishy washy.  That’s one of the things about the original fic I really wanted to fix.  Most of the fic had a very tight POV, telling the story almost entirely from Loki’s perspective.  I’ve been trying to open that up, giving insight to what everyone in the scene is thinking.  And in doing that, I wanted to make it very clear early on that Loki has been lied to.  Odin insists again and again that Loki wasn’t stolen, but Odin cannot prove that.  The opening chapter shows that there are scenarios where Loki was placed in the temple for safe-keeping, and that Odin’s assertion that he was abandoned doesn’t hold a lot of water.

I rewrote this so long ago, and now that episode of What If…? even supports the idea that Odin was talking out his ass, and I love it.  Just… Odin, shut the fuck up. 

I also took out a joke about Odin pretending to hear Frigga calling the boys to give him a little more screen time with Frigga.  They’re not on the same page here, and that’s only going to become more and more apparent as the boys grow up.  To Frigga, these are both her children.  She doesn’t care that she only gave birth to one of them (at least, I assume that’s where the MCU was going, because it is so not the case in the comics).  To Odin, Loki is a convenient tool.  A tool he happens to have formed an emotional attachment to, but still.  A tool all the same.

Over the last few newsletter issues, I’ve been talking a lot about how I don’t really subscribe to the idea that Loki is anything other than a spoilt brat.  When I first wrote this fic, popular fanon was that Loki was horribly abused, while Thor was the golden child.  In this story, they’re both doted on.  But in a high fantasy, vaguely Norse society with backwards laws and ideals, being spoilt looks a little bit different.  At one point, Thor flinches away from Odin, expecting to be hit.  By modern western standards, that’s a yikes from me, dawg.  But Asgard is not a modern western society.  Norse laws came from Asgard.  And at this point in the story, the Norse have only been gone for maybe 200 years.  Snorri’s Edda has only just been written.  I include this sort of behaviour for a few reasons.  One, that’s how Odin do in the comics.  He slaps those kids silly.  There was a really good panel a couple years back after Angela got on her bullshit.  After Odin took mercy on her, Frigga very coldly pointed out that if it had been one of the boys to have done what Angela did, Odin would have skinned them.  Alive, probably.

But I also include it because eventual plans for this story is to take the whole thing forward to the present.  A big point of allegory with the Thor comics lately has been this kind of divide between the Boomers and their old ways, and Gen X and Millennials taking a step back and saying no.  None of this is okay.  I want to give the boys this kind of cultural background that they have to very quickly grow out of later, if they want to survive in a universe where somehow Midgard is top dog within Yggdrasil.  And to do that effectively, I need to not be as hesitant about showing Asgard’s baseline.  This almost kind of casual abuse that is just parenting to an Asgardian.  And that’s why this fic has so many big, scary warnings on it.  That underage warning is on there because teenagers be having sex.  Loki’s been drinking Thor under the table since they were six.  Odin slaps his kids.  It’s not pretty, but this was always a story that took the best and the worst bits from all available sources.  And that includes Odin’s A+ Parenting.

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Chapter Notes: Quarantine

First thing’s first, since my schedule got all mucked up last week, and with some other changes I’m making to my uploads, I’ve decided to just move this to Saturday. I’ve got a fic that’s going to be posting daily starting in a few days, so I figured it would be easier to focus on just that one, and this one, and shunt God of Outcasts aside for a while. Sorry if you were following that one, but everything’s kind of all over the place over here, as I’m sure it is for a lot of people right now.

Anyway, that out of the way, this chapter. It’s a weird one. Not a lot happens, and we spend a lot of time in Loki’s head. It’s probably clear by now that he’s not doing okay. He’s floating by at this point, just kind of relying on things around him to work out.

The trip to LA was kind of an excuse to spend a lot of time in his head like that. A central theme of vol 1 was Loki’s extreme culture shock of moving to a city with a larger population than his entire country. And then he experiences the same thing in the opposite direction. Las Vegas to LA is not exactly a pretty drive. Stunning in its scale, but not pretty. You really do lose time out there, and it is the most surreal thing. So again, going from a place that actually has scenery and landscape, with living geology to mountains that are so old they’re literally rotten is a bit of a shock for him.

On top of him still not really being used to where he is, I kind of wanted to expand a bit on something that got a small hint in vol 1. Originally, back when I had no plans to expand on this series, I kind of wanted his line about not being in the closet to be open to interpretation. But if I’m gonna do eight parts of this thing, I figured I’d better put a bit more context behind that line. And the easiest way to do that was to give him a boyfriend. One who, because he is Loki, he cannot stand, but a boyfriend all the same.

Darcy only finding out about this boyfriend now is a bit of subtext in itself as well. They don’t talk about anything personal. He’s been dating this guy long enough to be sick of him to the point that breaking up seems best, and this is the first she’s hearing about him. Those boundaries she established have been respected, but it’s come at the cost of isolation. Darcy has other friends. She has other people she can talk to. Loki doesn’t. Which is why he’s dating one of his brother’s friends. He could go out and meet new people, but he’s easily overwhelmed and chooses not to. Instead, he finds the first convenient dick to present itself.

It’s a theme with him.

But now he’s got his birds and a brand new problem. Darcy’s caught him sleeping in the green room, and it is definitely not the first time he crashed on the sofa there. So now he’s gonna be hyper-vigillant about doing it again, because nothing good will ever come of him being caught again.

At the same time, Darcy kind of already knows something’s up. She’s the one who suggests breakfast, when just a few chapters earlier she got a little uncomfortable about being seen in public with him. And Loki is so out of it that he doesn’t even notice. He asked her to go with him to LA, and she’d agreed, despite the fact that it meant being in very close quarters pretty much all day.

Because my favourite thing about Darcy has always been the way she’s a lot smarter and observant than she lets on. And now that she’s noticed this, she’s going to start to wish she hadn’t.

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Chapter Notes: Sonic

I’m going to be out of town for much of next week, so I’m posting a bit early.

This chapter brings up a few things that got implied in vol 1, but never actually got explored.  A big part of Darcy’s personal conflict in vol 1 somewhat mirrored one Loki’s, in that she doesn’t get along well with her mother. 

Her relationship with her mother is very strained, and defined almost by a vicarious need for Darcy to be her mother’s clone.  But Darcy is into “boys hobbies” and dropped out of school on a risky career gamble, which her mother doesn’t understand, and it creates a lot of tension between them.  It doesn’t matter that Darcy is making several times what most of her friends make at their minimum wage jobs; she’s not making money in the “correct” way, so it doesn’t count.  Her mother writes her own narrative for what Darcy is doing, and as a result, Darcy shuts her out and doesn’t share details.

The decision to have Darcy and her mom not get along from the beginning was a conscious one, because it gives Darcy the tools to recognise when Loki is pulling similar bullshit.  As I was going through the remixed version of vol 1 before posting it, I realised there are a lot of similar themes to Trickster God, but it goes in a very different direction.  Loki is damaged as well, and that directs his actions towards others.  He doesn’t like to get close to people, because it starts to feel like suffocation.  He doesn’t trust when people are nice to him, because being nice is a precursor to something else.  And Darcy recognises all of this, because she’s familiar with it, and now we see how and why.

I also wanted to spend some time on their show itself, setting up the rhythm they’ve fallen into.  Darcy wants to change the show, so I wanted to show what she wants to change it from.  Metamorphosis, the routine she wants to get rid of, is a classic.  Many, many acts have done their own version of it.  But it’s not a show stopper the way shooting each other in the face is.  Darcy wants to fix that, not because she wants to change Loki’s show, but because she understands the audience better than he does.  She doesn’t even necessarily want to get rid of the act altogether.  She just wants it to not be the finale.

At this point, Loki has only been in town about six months.  It’s been enough for him to figure out how things work, but he still doesn’t quite understand the nuance.  Especially since he’s having to learn two different cultures at once.  On the one hand, moving to America is a big enough shock for anyone, even without moving out to the desert in a city that’s open 24/7.  Even out in Henderson, you can do your grocery shopping or order pizza at 3am.

But he’s also having to learn the specific culture of the Las Vegas entertainment industry.  Darcy’s had her eyes on it ever since she was a little girl.  She’s seen all the shows, she knows all the acts.  Their main competition is Old Vegas spectacle, and harrowing suspense.  The first group gets away with it either by name recognition and being Las Vegas royalty, or so damn extra it’s a genre of its own.  The second group are known for eating sandwiches out of bear traps and shooting one another in the face.  Trying to pull off Old Vegas without being Old Vegas doesn’t work, because there’s no wow factor.  Especially now since they’re doing a trick teenagers are doing in their bedrooms on social media.

It’s this awkward balance between Darcy trying to help both of them by nudging him toward improving the show, and stepping all over his toes because it’s his show.

Trust and boundaries are a big theme throughout this entire fic, and right now they have none when they’re not on stage.

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Chapter Notes: Milk Can

This is a chapter in two acts.  The first act is what every transplant and tourist goes through during their first freeze in the valley.  Shock that it freezes, and then frustration and indignation that nothing and nobody is prepared for anything to freeze.  Loki made the same bad assumption so many people make, assuming he would only be driving in hot, dry weather.  And this isn’t just limited to transplants and tourists.  Locals just lose their damn minds every time winter happens.  The concept of scraping your windshields is so foreign to people that they’ll just drive around blind and assume that’s okay.

At this point, Loki’s been in the US for about six months.  He’s more or less got used to the weirdness that is Las Vegas, but he is still very much an outsider in a lot of ways.  And one of those ways is that he’s never going to stop thinking certain American hallmarks are just obscene and garish.  But slot machines in every corner of the city?  Yeah, apparently that’s just something you get used to.

And it is, and it’s weird.

A lot of the first fic was just a love letter to Las Vegas, and the time I spent there being a weirdo table magician.  That’s not going to change.  I made a joke on Tumblr about how the real relationship in this series is the unstable, borderline abusive one Loki has with the city, and as I get farther into this, it gets more and more true.  Loki’s intense culture shock plays a very big role in his mental state throughout this entire fic, and it’s not something I want to shy away from.  That city does something to you.  It’s insidious and toxic, but in a way that can be utterly addicting.

I went through so many iterations of how I wanted the fish tank to go, and ultimately decided to just wholesale rip off Penn & Teller.  It’s actually a combination of about three tricks in the end, with the way I’ve got it set up.  At its heart, this routine is their phone booth trick, which is the one I mentioned going wrong in the last chapter, and their shadow puppet routine, where Penn would fail a straight jacket escape and get hanged in the rigging.  Both have the same concept of not being good tricks, and wind up being great tricks because of it.  In the phone booth, Teller drowns on stage while Penn wastes too much time and doesn’t notice what’s going on.  In Unicorn, Penn gets hanged in a bad straitjacket escape while Teller hijacks the stage to do a comedy shadow puppet routine.  I love both of these, because they fly in the face of how these sorts of routines are supposed to go.  In both instances, the payoff is so shocking and unexpected, because the trick isn’t what you thought it was.  In the phone booth, the trick isn’t that Penn finds the correct card in the nick of time.  The trick is that the correct card somehow winds up inside Teller’s mask after he drowns.  In Unicorn, the trick isn’t Penn miraculously escaping.  It’s that Penn was never in the rigging in the first place.  Both are wonderful switches, pulled off by incongrous misdirection.  So I wanted to play with that.  Let this ancient, tired trick be something else.  Let it be a switch that comes from nowhere.  Loki doesn’t escape, because he’s not the dead guy in the box.

And then there’s a sneaky allusion to the box jumper they opened their show with for a while.  Loki and Darcy keep talking about a “black board.”  This isn’t like a chalkboard you’d find in an old classroom.  It’s a technique for making something appear or disappear from a box by obscuring it with a piece of plywood painted black.  With the right lighting, the board is completely invisible to the audience, which can allow a performer to walk across the stage without being seen.  Or, in this case, allow them to switch out performers in a fish tank.

I said in my opening notes that this fic is going to ruin a lot of magic tricks.  And part of that is because there’s no way to adequately convey what is effectively a scam via prose.  I can describe what appears to happen for a spectator, but in prose, the magic vanishes.  In prose, anything can happen because I say it happens, whether it’s possible or not.  Instead, the magic is how they make their routines work.  With a few exceptions, I’m not actually using anyone’s full routines in this series.  I’m taking the tricks and methods I know from various routines and cobbling together something new.  Loki’s version of the Milk Can resembles Penn & Tellers by drawing inspiration from it, but their methods and entire routine were completely different.  Putting the performer in a glass box, and then drowning him for a shock payoff is where the similarities end.  The routines I do take from actual people are properly old, and published to be performed as is.  So even if you do go see a stage show, and someone does a similar routine to what I’ve got in this series, you won’t see it performed as I describe it.

Unless someone does Al Baker’s breakfast routine.  There’s pretty much only one way to do that one.

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References, inspiration, and callbacks for LATMU/God of Outcasts

This is going up as a “chapter note” for during Second Rite. But I think this was really when I started to realise that something was very deeply wrong with the series in what was its current form. Not only did this series no joke keep predicting the future, it was missing a lot of stuff I’d watned to include but couldn’t find room for. So it was becoming this messy, incoherrent mess.

Let’s look at the series start date. August 19, 2012.

Journey into Mystery was still going. Ikol had not yet stolen Loki’s name and body for himself.

I wanted to play with this young Loki, and all his manic energy in the context of the MCU. The little boy, who within hours of returning to Asgard, whips Odin into a rage with a single sentence, and then steals a car. This ridiculous little boy, with his love for Midgard and memes, funny animal companions, and the ability to make friends and keep them just long enough to give him hope before he somehow pisses them off. This funny little version of Loki who didn’t know what to do with all these weird feelings when he saw Daimon shirtless. This version of Loki who was a shitlord in training, aware of his heritage and role within the universe, who loves his brother very much, but occasionally feels that perhaps he might benefit from a brick to the face.

Click to Read

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Chapter Notes: Bullet Catch

Notes for Chapter 1: Bullet Catch

Okay, so.  I know I said at the end of the other one that I had no intention of ever writing a sequel.  At the time, that was true.  Partly because I liked the ambiguous, open ending of vol 1, and partly because there is no way to fix this relationship in a single fic.

There’s a joke with the title that unfortunately few people seemed to get.  The “vol 1” in the title was going to have to be all or nothing.  Either I do what most people do with the book series this fic takes its name from, and stop at volume one, or I commit and do all eight.  The Tarbell Course in Magic is a real thing, and I gave it some real significance to Darcy.  She got a new book every year for her birthday, and when she started preparing to liquidate, Tarbell was the only thing she intended to keep.  Darcy has all eight volumes.  So basically, doing a sequel means I might have to commit to eight volumes.  Which honestly, is what it would probably take for the happily ever after people probably want and deserve.

If you haven’t read the first fic, I recommend doing so.  It’s one of my favourites I’ve ever written, even if it’s one of my least-popular.  Originally, this was going to be written for a big bang, but some stuff went down and I wound up pulling this fic out of the event.  Since it’s mostly written anyway, I figured why not?  Let’s go ahead and start posting it now.

And with that out of the way, let’s talk about the chapter itself.

There is some weirdness here, and Loki has noticed it. 

This picks up about ten minutes after vol 1.  Loki has asked her to dinner, she isn’t sure about it, but she’s gone anyway.  Originally, Loki asking her to dinner was very open-ended, and deliberately so.  That scene was from Darcy’s POV, so I wanted to continue it from her POV, having her still not quite knowing what was going on.

At this point, it’s like, mid-November.  There was a decent time jump between Darcy taking her job back, and them getting to a point where Loki thought he could get away with asking her to dinner.

Because she’s right.  There’s an ulterior motive.  There always is.  And that’s where the two different conversations they have in this chapter come from.

Loki would very much like to apologise and try to move on.  He doesn’t like having a permanent residence in the doghouse, however much he may deserve it.  But Darcy is not ready to hear his apology.  Because if she hears it, she might have to accept it.  And she is not ready to accept his apology.  She’s built a lot of defenses against him, and set a lot of rules, which he does seem to be mostly following.  But she’s also right.  If he’s going to try to put her in a position where she is forced to listen and be nice while he has a conversation she does not want to have, she still can’t trust him.

At the same time, she wants to do the bullet catch, a routine which requires you to trust your partner 110%.  That’s what Loki wasn’t commenting on, because they’re having two very contradictory conversations on trust.  On one hand, Darcy refuses to trust him, and comes very close to admitting that she’s kind of punishing him over how badly he has messed up her ability to trust him.  On the other hand, she wants to do the fucking bullet catch.

When Loki says he does not want to be “unlucky 13,” he’s referring to the twelve magicians who have died on stage doing this act.  When he makes reference to someone else pretending to be someone he wasn’t, he’s talking about Chung Ling Soo, an American in brownface, who pretended to be Chinese on stage.  His gun misfired—or more accurately, failed to misfire, and fired properly—and he was shot on stage in front of the audience in 1918.

Loki’s therefore built up a good amount of superstition about this routine.  It kills people, and he’s up there on stage playing a character so confusing, he’s not even sure if it’s real or not.  In vol 1, he talked about his routine in Reykjavík, where he pretended to be English, and now after ten years of this, his fake accent feels more natural to him than his natural one.  And now, he’s built this weird character that reverses that, and it’s just a big confusing mess for everyone to the point that not even Loki knows who the real Loki is anymore.

And in a parallel to that, what Darcy has done is created two different people in her mind.  There’s the Loki she works with, and the Loki she slept with.  The Loki she slept with is the one she can’t trust.  And even that Loki, there’s not a total lack of trust.  She has no reason to believe he would ever harm her.  He hurts you in other ways.  He manipulates and gaslights you, and Darcy even said she came out of it so fucked up, she can’t tell if what she remembers happening is true or not.

The Loki she works with, meanwhile, is sharing trade secrets.  He’s been teaching her new things, and has given her an opportunity to do what she wants with her life.  They’re also talking about a fish tank, which is a modern play on Houdini’s milk can routine.  Which is famous for killing him, even though it didn’t.  He died of a ruptured appendix.  By using a fish tank, instead of something opaque, Loki’s routine is closer to Penn & Teller’s bizarre version.  Which famously went wrong on live TV in the 80s and came close to killing Teller on Saturday Night Live.

The difference here is the fish tank is Loki’s idea, and the bullet catch is Darcy’s.  They’re both hideously dangerous stunts, which require the performer to have complete and total trust in his collaborators.  And yet Loki is massively more comfortable with one over the other.  Part of it is that superstition of being Unlucky Number 13.  But part of it is Darcy’s complete contradiction in what she’s saying. 

But at the same time, he knows she’s right.  They don’t have to do the bullet catch, necessarily, but they are not competing.  Lance Burton got away with a deadass boring show for years because he’s Lance Burton.  People went for the name.  It didn’t matter that he only did three entire tricks for the entire thing.  At least, when I lived there ten years ago, the shows you wanted to see were Penn & Teller, Mac King, and Amazing Jonathan.  The punk rock, I do what I want magic where tricks going wrong had real stakes.  Those were the shows you’d go home and talk about.

That’s very much the flavour I’ve given Loki.  He could definitely pull off the elegance of Burton or Tomsoni, but there’s no chaos in it.  He’s not into the big spectacle like Angel or Blaine either.  Those are too produced.  Loki wants to throw a deck of cards at a spectator and call it a magic trick.  He wants to juggle knives and eat fire.  And he does all this, and then ends his show with a routine that’s pretty, but has absolutely no substance.  If he wants to actually sell out every night, he’s going to need to do something unique.  Something people will talk about on the bus back to Caesar’s Palace, and on the flight home.  As Darcy phrases it, it needs to be a show stopper.  Something so big and shocking that you cannot possibly continue from there.

And getting shot in the face is kind of it.  That’s why Penn & Teller did it for over 20 years.

So.  In short.  This is a sequel I never intended to write, and now I’ve done it and will probably have to commit.  Like the first one, it’s also not-so-secretly a love letter to one of my own past lives, will spoil quite a lot of magic secrets, and will probably be quite maddening to some in its obstinate refusal to play the genre straight.  But if you’re into close to 100,000 words of two idiots who just cannot get on the same page about one another, then you might actually like this.

Or hate it.  idk.

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An accidental theme in Tarbell

I’ve been working on getting Tarbell done, and it’s going really well. I’ve got about 40k left, and pain levels willing, will be able to have that done by about Monday.

But I’ve been noticing something that keeps coming back in it. It’s not something I put in deliberately, or even I think consciously, but it’s there all the same. There’s a running thread within this fic of Darcy refusing to be the keeper of Loki’s well-being. They broke up in the first fic because his behaviour and mood was beyond toxic, but she stuck around with the show because it was not only the financially smart thing to do, but also because going back to school wasn’t the healthy option.

At the end of Tarbell 1, she set ground rules. She established barriers between them, to allow her to be able to take this job, but also do it in a safe way. It was all done terribly selfishly, but sometimes being terribly selfish is allowed if the alternative is damaging to one’s self.

And now in Tarbell 2, she’s letting some of those barriers slip. Rules are slowly being broken, and she’s trying to balance her own safety with Loki’s in regard to his own health. Because his story in this is very introspective. It’s a story about trust, and how there are different types of trust. They don’t trust each other on a personal level, but they do trust one another on a professional level. On a personal level, they stand to hurt one another. On a professional level, they stand to kill one another.

And through all of this, Loki has been being very open about needing help, both with Darcy and with Thor. And both Darcy and Thor see what’s going on and take very different approaches to this. Darcy is perceptive enough to see through his grim jokes and self-defeatist attitude, and tries to balance being there as a friend with not being made responsible for his well-being and happiness. It puts her in a position she never asked to be in, but she still tries to find a middle ground between her needs and his.

Thor, meanwhile, is going in the opposite direction. He not only takes everything at face value, but doesn’t know how to handle Loki. So he handles it by always assuming the worst and getting resentful. Loki only ever calls when he needs something, and Thor gets angry about that. But Thor also doesn’t really make an effort to reach out first. There’s a scene where he invites both Darcy and Loki to dinner, but there’s this uncomfortable feeling that he only invited Loki to not be rude. The only time he seeks out Loki specifically, it’s to deliver bad news. Every other time they interact through this entire fic, it’s Loki who reaches out first.

And through all of this, his relationship with Darcy improves, while his relationship with Thor falls apart even more than it already had. While Darcy validates him, Thor grows increasingly fed up with him. Loki winds up feeling like a burden to both of them, but in very different ways. And a lot of it comes down to Darcy understanding that all he wants is to be heard. He’s not looking for someone to solve his problems or make everything better, but that’s what Thor seems to think Loki’s asking of him. Loki’s stuck in this space of wanting to be left alone, while not being alone.

And this whole thing is awfully big to have happened by accident, but it was never in my original outline, and barely even in my rough draft at all. But there it is, all over the pages in the draft I’ve been working on this week. After 20 years of writing fiction, it still surprises me when this happens.

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Re-Working Loki Annoys the Marvel Universe

I’ve got this bug up my ass lately to fix up some older fics that just never sat right with me.  I normally will go back through any large fic and re-edit it months after the fact, once the whole thing’s had a chance to fade into obscurity and I’ve forgotten most of it. 

But so much of this series has bothered me from fairly early on.  At the time I started it, in 2012, I had never done anything on this scale.  I think the biggest fic I had ever completed by that point was about 40,000 words.  Which is still pretty respectable, but also about a quarter of the size of the most recent fic I finished.  Putting these big ideas into something coherent was a new challenge for me.  I was also still very much bogged down by Western narrative standards, and as that first fic, Those Who Hunt Monsters, grew I began to panic.  Because the plot I wanted to explore did not fit in this story.  It was reaching about 60k, and nothing had happened.  I was still bogged down in exposition.  I was still setting up the story I wanted to tell.

At the time, I didn’t realise you were allowed to write 100,000 words of just character exploration.  I realise 100,000 words of worldbuilding was something people might want to read.  And I also chickened out hardcore with the relationship between Loki and Fandral.  I was very worried about exploring a relationship between two teenage boys in any kind of explicit context.

And the series suffered for it.  I had all these ideas in my head, and on my soundboard, and none of it on the page.  As I progressed through the series, I found myself having to go back and add these little interludes, saying “this takes place around Chapter X of fic Y.”  And that’s confusing for readers.  It’s confusing for me

Lately, I’ve been really frustrated with the super tight POV I married myself to within the main narrative.  We don’t get to see the shady business between Odin and Frigga as much as I’d have liked.  There’s still a big secret I’m playing with, that I won’t reveal until Loki learns of it personally, but I want to make it more clear from the beginning that for all of Odin’s desire to avoid raising Loki in a lie, he’s still done it.  That there is still something Loki has not been told.

I’ve also been really frustrated with the the structure itself.  From the very beginning, I wanted this story to feel like a comic book.  I wanted it to have that same endless narrative flow, with arcs and threads that wove into one another.  I kept getting criticism on the longer fics that the story just ended, and then I never saw that person again comment again on the fic that followed.  People would come into Part 6 or whatever and be like, oh cool, a Captain America fic with Loki in.  And they didn’t understand why Loki’s magic had these specific rules, or why he didn’t just do this one thing.  And they didn’t understand why only half of the story resolved in the end.  I noticed more and more that people never came back for what came next, because they subscribed to the fic, and not to the series.

And as I’ve been posting all of these little interludes and seeing them only get a few hundred hits, I started to realise that even the people who were coming back for the next part weren’t seeing the little fics.  They weren’t seeing that added context. 

After reading the comments on Not Æsir, I decided that the series needs to die.  I’ve discontinued it, and will be re-writing it the way I should have done originally.  I’m going to focus on those character bits more, even if they do nothing to advance the plot.  I’m going to focus on those worldbuilding elements more, even if they do go on wild tangents.  Because that’s what the series needed. 

And it needed to not be a series.  It needed to be one continuous narrative.  If I was going to structure it like a comic book, I need to commit.  It needs to be a single, cohesive unit with 300 chapters and no end in sight.  And what I’ll probably wind up doing is setting up .1 or .NOW chapters, so if someone doesn’t want to read through everything, they can start somewhere easy.  They can jump right into the WWII narrative, or the Jötunheimr adventure.  And everyone else can follow along with the entire adventure if they want.

I counted last night, and the series itself has 75 chapters.  A lot of those are going to be combined, re-arranged, and shuffled around a lot of new content that never made it in originally.  I’ve been trying to work out a big interlude from Odin’s POV, because that POV has been sorely missing.  That’s all making it back in, in the form of entirely new chapters.

I know it’s going to put some people off, but I do believe the story will be stronger for it.

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Fic Notes: Not Æsir

This fic comes back to a concept I did not explore well enough in Those Who Hunt Monsters, because it’s a difficult concept to explore when you want to keep the rating as low as possible.  But there’s a lot of ideas in play in these 6000 words, and I want to talk plainly about all of them.

One thing I think got missed by a lot of readers is how deeply uncomfortable Loki’s first sexual experience is.  Again, with the low rating, it was really hard to get across how predatory Fandral was in that scene.  He was constantly pushing boundaries, asking Loki to do things he didn’t want to do, and eventually pressuring him into sex.  And then I never went any farther with it, because of the rating.

But I have this very particular headcanon for Fandral.  I see him as this deeply closeted dudebro, with a lot of very specific rules.  He’s also deep in denial, which is the reason for the rules.  For him, sex is a physical thing, divorced for intimacy or emotion.  Which is why he doesn’t let Loki really touch or kiss him.  He prefers Loki on his stomach because in that position, Loki can’t touch or kiss him.  He’ll go as far as giving a hand job, but he will not be fucked, or give blow jobs.  Any position in which he is being penetrated puts him into a role he cannot accept for himself, so he winds up being really toxic in this relationship, forcing it into a very one-sided, all take no give arrangement.

And it’s Loki’s first relationship ever.  Nobody has ever given him the time of day, because they’re all too afraid of him.  Fandral knows this.  He knows Loki is probably starved for affection, and will allow himself to be pushed into a position he might not have sought out on his own.  What Fandral doesn’t anticipate is for Loki to be completely into it.  It makes it easier to talk his way into Loki’s pants, but then it also creates a situation where Loki wants things from the relationship that Fandral cannot give him.

But I wanted a lot of Loki’s firsts to be deeply unhealthy.  He didn’t want to have sex that fist time.  He didn’t want to put Fandral’s penis in his mouth, but he did it because Fandral might never speak to him again if he doesn’t it.  The fact that he does wind up being into it doesn’t really matter, because he had to be cajoled in the first place.

The first time Fandral fucks him, there’s no conversation about it.  Fandral decides this is what he wants, so this is what they’re going to do. Loki’s choices are again, go along with it or risk Fandral never speaking to him again.  Fandral doesn’t take his time with it, or make sure that Loki is okay not because he’s a bad person, but because through his own inexperience he simply doesn’t know any better.  Neither of them do, and they wind up in this very contentious place toward the end of their relationship because of it.  As Loki learns more things about himself, he learns that this isn’t normal, and Fandral is kind of an ass.

And that story of coersion and cajoling is one you’ll hear often from gay men of a certain age.  That their first time was less than consensual, and that their partner was usually older and/or more experienced.  And often those men had the same experience, of being cajoled and coerced.  But a lot of these men don’t see anything wrong with their first experiences, however dubious of consent they may have been.  Because the alternative was to never act on these uncomfortable feelings at all, and find themselves married to a woman they hated with kids they resented.  For a lot of these men, having someone break down that barrier by not letting them say no is often seen as instrummental to their own self acceptance.  The difference here is most men with this story did go on to develop healthy relationships with sex and intimacy, where Loki has not.

But I wanted Loki’s other firsts to be just as unhealthy.  With Leita, there was a lot more honesty between them, and they both wanted to be there.  When Fandral told him to go try to sleep with a girl, he’d assumed that Loki would not be into it.  To Fandral, the idea of liking both does not even cross his mind.  Loki loves giving blow jobs and being fucked, so obviously he’d find women repulsive.

Except, whoops, he’s into it.  It’s just no one within the court will touch him, because he’s all Jötunn and gross.  But this woman, who I figure has a good two or three years on Loki has an ulterior motive of her own.  She was sent to the palace for a purpose she probably was not on board with.  If she could get knocked up with a prince’s bastard, she can get out of this stupid arrangement and maybe get some hush money on top of it.  Loki recognises that something’s a little dodgy here, but he probably wouldn’t figure it out until much later, when he’s a little older and more experienced to understand what was being done to him.

But I wanted all of these really unhealthy firsts to be something that would colour the way he approaches sex and intimacy as a man.  He’s already been broken and conditioned to wholly separate the two.  You can see that a little bit in Midgard Legends, where he is very strict about separating people out into the friend zone and the fuck zone.  People he likes and forms close bonds with are completely sexless beings to him.  People he fucks are instantly disposable.  And that’s something that’s starting to play a role in Second Rite.  Angrboða is blurring that line and it terrifies him.  When she tries to seduce him, he freaks out because that’s a line nobody’s allowed to cross.  He likes her.  He enjoys her company.  And that makes her someone he does not have sex with.

It’s a lot to cram into what appears to be 6000 words of porn, but it’s also something I wish I had figured out how to fit into TWHM in the first place.

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Post-Mortem: Tarbell Course in Magic, vol 1: The History of Magic

This is an older fic that got a pretty typical treatment, as far as all my big fics go.  I finished it, let it sit for a good, long while, and then went back and re-edited it.  I do this for all my big fics.  Sometimes, the edits are so small I don’t even mention them.  Sometimes enough changes that chapters get cut up or added, and I put a note in the summary stating that it’s been edited.

And then there’s Tarbell, which underwent so many changes its rating changed.  It went from Teen to Explicit.  So it never got re-uploaded until recently, when I decided to actually expand the fic into a series.  A lot of people expected that to happen because they missed the author’s note at the end stating that there was never a sequel in the plans.  The name is a joke, which I knew people would miss.  That’s why I explained it in the author’s notes.  I know jokes aren’t funny if you have to explain them.  But I also know now people don’t read notes and will miss very important things.

But I was reading back over the new version, trying to decide what to do with it, when I suddenly saw what a full eight-part series could actually be about.  So I put a poll up, asking readers what I should do with it, and overwhelmingly people said I should upload it as a separate fic.  So that’s what I did.  And I thought, this could be interesting because the first version bombed pretty hard.  At the time, I’d attributed that to it being uploaded for a big bang, and all 26 chapters going up at once.  So I figured, I’d run a little experiment and upload a new chapter daily.  Daily uploads worked really well for Trickster God, so why not?

Yeah, uh.  I don’t think uploading it all at once was the main reason this fic failed.  I think I’m just so far out of step with this fandom it’s disgusting.  I think I have the sort of tastes that can produce an 80,000 word fic that nobody wants to read.  I don’t normally keep an eye on stats, but for this one, I have been looking at numbers just to see.  And what I’ve been seeing is utter, complete, deafening disinterest.

I’m not saying the fic sucks, nor do I think I regret writing a sequel, which will be going up later this summer.  But I suddenly don’t really see the point in finishing this series.  If I do, it’ll likely be drawerfic, written for myself and then published all at once after the fact.  But if nobody cares, I’m not going to keep bothering people with subscriber alerts.

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A final note on How To Train Your Norse Trickster God

This used to be in the main body of the notes on AO3, but I’ve moved it here because I feel like the fic has reached a point where it’s no longer necessary for this to take up an entire city block on the page.  But it’s still a necessary note, so I’m putting it here.

I’ve always had a tendency to explore the ugly and broken parts of humanity in my fic, and in over twenty years of writing, have never shied away from themes of death, addiction, and violence. I once wrote a fic where Basil of Baker Street suffered a drug overdose, so in many ways, this fic is not a departure from my usual output. What has been unusual is the reception. Never, in anything else that I’ve written, have I had so many people arguing with me about my own fic as I have with this one. I wrote the goddamn thing; I know what happened in it. There’s no room for argument, which is why the comments will remain moderated until the end of time.

This is a fic about abuse, and the trajectory that abuse might take on the victim. Yes, it’s set against a somewhat fantastic backdrop, with traditional roles being exaggerated, but this is some of the realest shit I’ve ever written. The idea came from a few places, but the crux of it stems from two of Loki’s lines from the MCU—first in Thor 1, when he threatened to “pay [Jane] a visit” himself, and again in Avengers 1 when he threatened to have Clint “undo” Natasha in every way he knew how. Both of these were very thinly veiled code for something violent, and though they could both go a variety of ways, they still present this potential for truly reprehensible behaviour. That’s what I wanted to explore with this fic. If you click on the Villain Loki tag above, you’ll get (as of May 2021) just over 120 uses, across the entire website. In ten years of being the villain, Loki is very rarely allowed to be the villain within fandom. And so many comments, which both remain and have faced deletion, completely failed to accept the reality of what this fic is about entirely because the commenter would not or could not accept Loki in a villainous role. So many people came into this fic hoping for a redemption that was never in the cards, because that is not what this fic is about.

So many people got upset at Chapter 45, having completely missed what happened in Chapter 37. I will not argue whether or not the first time they had sex was rape.

It was rape. Full fucking stop.

Because that’s what this fic is about. This fic is about all the ways in which an abuser will wear their victim down, pushing boundaries, testing limits, until they get their way. This fic is about the gaslighting that happens to a victim, to make them question their own perception of reality. The fact that Darcy herself questions whether it was rape is part of the point. Because, like so many commenters, she’s come to believe that she hasn’t said “no” often enough. She’s come to believe that because her body had an involuntary response to fear and trauma, that she wanted it to happen. She’s come to believe that despite all the things Loki has done to her, he is the only person in the world who cares about her, and who will keep her safe.

This is how abusers do.

To the people in the comments who kept correctly calling out what would come next, predicting the trajectory of a fic that’s already written, you’re wonderful. I see you, I appreciate you. These are the insights that kept me from giving the fuck up on this fic all over again, because it meant that somebody understood, and that I’m not just shouting into the void.

If you came into this fic expecting redemption, or a happy ending, I’m not sorry. Neither the prose nor the narrative hid behind metaphor or obfuscation. Nothing in the tags or warnings should have even remotely suggested this would be a light or romantic read. This fic is ugly, uncomfortable, and brutal by design, because it’s about something that’s ugly, uncomfortable, and brutal.

If you can’t accept this, it’s not my fault. I’m done being nice, and I’m done apologising for this fic. If this fic makes you uncomfortable, good. That was the entire goddamn point from the beginning.

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Why Trickster God went abandoned for five years

I don’t think it’s any secret at this point why this fic was initially abandoned. If you’re reading my main series, which got caught in the crossfire, you probably already know the story. If not, here’s what happened.

This fic went to dark places. It will continue to go to dark places. Hell, it opened up with fucking vivisection. There is nothing tame here. This fic is tagged and warned appropriately, with no subversions. And where it really went south for me was when Darcy was raped. Which she was, back in chapter 37. Up until that point, I was indulging my id, and thought most of the people in the comments were on the same page. That said, a lot of comments have now been deleted. I spent entirely too many hours arguing with people in the comments about my own intent with this fic.

There will be no rape=love in this fic. If you are looking for that, go elsewhere. Because that is not the trope I am playing with here. I hate to spoil it by putting it right out there like that, but I had also thought that it was pretty obvious that’s not where this is going. What I am playing with is the mindfuckery that will make a victim think that rape=love.

So, I’m going to take a moment to lay it all out on the table. If you wish to proceed after this, please be aware that I will not entertain comments that wish to fight me on this. I will simply delete them and move on with my life. This is some good, old-fashioned darkfic. And darkfic is best when it apologises for nothing. If you do not like this kind of fic, find something else to read. Period.

Darcy has been kidnapped, used as a human shield, raped, and nearly killed multiple times. Her mind’s ability to process all of this is next to zero, and she is so far down the rabbit hole at this point of the story that she is projecting sympathetic motivations onto Loki. Because that’s what Stockholm syndrome does to a person. It doesn’t make you fall in love with them, or join their side. Darcy knows that what Loki did was wrong, and horrible, and that he deserves to face consequences. But she also has convictions, and it’s those convictions that have allowed her to get so tangled up inside over what has been done to her. She saw first-hand what was done to him. She continues to see it every day. She sees the suffering and the damage, and she has to believe that everything he’s done to her is because he is as terrified as she is.

Loki had a plan. It was kind of half-baked and nebulous, but he had a plan for getting off Midgard. He was going to find somewhere to hide out for a while, regain his strength, and yolo the fuck off this rock. He may be a tough frightened, but mostly he’s pissed. His plan was disrupted, and now he’s being dragged all over hell and creation by this loud obnoxious woman who won’t give him a moment’s peace. At the same time, if she’s allowed to escape, she’ll have done so after putting his face on every screen in North America. He needs to move quickly in a foreign realm, with rules and magic he doesn’t understand. He’s not going to do that without Darcy. He needs to keep her on a short leash if he is going to get out of this alive. And if Darcy sticks around because she thinks he’s scared, he’s not going to correct her. She’s easily manipulated through this, and as long as he can continue to keep up the lie, he’s got a bargaining chip for when things go sour.

Keep in mind. This is told from Darcy’s point of view, by design. If you read Tarbell, I did something thematically similar. Loki let Darcy think he was in a vulnerable state, because it benefited him to do so. But in Tarbell, I changed the formula and showed his point of view as well, making it clear that they were not on the same page. And people saw the ending coming. I don’t think anyone was surprised they didn’t get together at the end of that one. But apparently by obscuring what I thought was a lot more obvious than it seemingly was, people are taking the narration and projections at face value. And what resulted was some truly disturbing comments on this fic. I think I’ve managed to delete most of them, if not all, but if you come into my comments telling me that I am wrong, telling me that Loki is acting out of love or affection, telling me that Darcy needs to get over herself and kiss him already, etc, it will not be tolerated.

And I’m sorry about coming out of the gate on this defensive and angry, but this is the fic that single-handedly made me burn out of fandom and delete most of my social media a few years back. It started off as just taking a break from this particular fic but the comments kept coming on it, some straight up bullying and cruel toward the end.

But I want to finish this. I’ve had enough time to step back from it, and I do hate having such a huge piece sitting unfinished on my profile. Especially since it is my most popular fic literally ever. So I’m going to plough through it under my original outline, go where it was always intended to go, and try to figure out how I came up with the end chapter count that’s listed on the upload.

And if you want something that’s considerably less fucked up, well. I’m also working on a sequel to Tarbell. And might have accidentally talked myself into doing an eight-part series with it because fuck me I guess.

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