Somewhere, far above what we can comprehend, where the sky is dark and void of colour, save for the sharp and jagged jolt of an errant star, and the air cuts so cold that the moisture in your breath leaves your body as ice, hang the branches of the World's Tree. Yggdrasil.
Yggdrasil is vast, endless. A trunk of the girth of one hundred suns, rooted in the depths of the sands of time, and growing onwards, ever onwards, twisting to the heavens, higher even than the dragons of old would dare to fly. From boughs, hefty as the entirety of our realm, to branches with the strength of a mountain, to fine twigs and leaves where a man might stand, sit, the width and breadth of all worlds can be seen.
In those branches, there sits a man, though he would have you believe he is something far greater. His name is Loki.
With a vengeance in eyes, and a mourning in his heart, he sits in those branches, and looks down over everything. Sometimes he talks to himself, words of wisdom or malice or sorrow, but more often he doesn't. Sometimes he cries frostbite tears, cutting down his cheeks, already ice, but more often, he doesn't.
And sometimes he feels things. But more often he doesn't.
Loki Laufeyson, born of Jotunheim, was born to be king. Now Loki Laufeyson, born of Jotunheim is rotting away alone in a far off corner of the universe, and watching, simply watching, as nature dances on without him. Seeing all, unseen by all.
Not that he minds, really. High up in those branches, like never before- he can run. Oh, how he can run! In his skin of Jotun blue, free in so many ways, so many ways, he can run. Sharp red eyes set in a skull of ice, flicker from his nest in the stars, between galaxies, worlds, countries, and he sees everything.
Nimble and lithe as the Skogkatt of the wilds of Asgard's mountains, Loki runs, deftly leaps, and he can go anywhere. Any time, any place, through the branches of Yggdrasil.
And nobody can stop him. Loki never be stopped or caught or killed, for Loki, and Loki alone bears power enough of Magyk, and focus deep enough his Trofrar, to travel here.
It's a good place to be, for a wanted man.
But very lonely.
Far, far below Loki's domain, where Yggdrasil is nothing but a far off dream, a half recalled legend from barbaric days of old, lies the land of man. Midgard. Or, as we prefer to call it, Earth.
And on our planet, fragile, so ignorant in the ways of the universe, where we know nothing of Magyk, Trofrar, nor the flow of loss and life, there is a man. And Loki finds him captivating.
The man lies on what Loki has come to know as the shores of anguish. Not real shores, no, more a state of mind. A place inside himself where trivialities like social interaction, work, food, even breathing, wash over him, his body, his head, his mind, and he does not blink. A place where there is nothing but sand one way and sea in the other, stretching into nothing. Where the horizon is blank, there is nothing but the sea and the sand and the sheer, suffocating anguish. Those are the shores of anguish, as Loki knows all too well, and those are the shores where this man lies.
What Loki finds captivating is not where he lies, for many men before him have lain there, and many men are yet to do the same. What is captivating is that this man of all men who have known the shores of anguish is the only one with just cause to be there.
The man's name is simply John Watson, and he has, in his brief years, lived more pain than we might expect to see in a thousand.
He floats limply through life, his mind lost to the wind, an endless gale of sound and screaming, screaming, pulling out all meaning, all feeling, leaving behind soulless shreds of man, leaving nothing but a tattered shell.
Loki knows what happened to him. From the second he caught a glimpse of that mind where it lay, he knew, he needed to know. He went back and watched as though watching a play. And he cried at the end.
John has lived through much. Born to the death of his Mother, and left, still fragile, in the arms of an abusive Father. Runaway at fifteen, when his Father pushed his sister down the stairs, leaving her in a state of death-like sleep. Loki can not even begin to fathom how the man found the heart to study medicine. Medicine, as a practice, requires three qualities- ability, willing and above all, kindness. Finding the latter two in a man with a life so relentless in its tragedy is rare, and confusing.
He joined the army as soon as he was qualified, sent to Afghanistan at the war's birth, in 2001, and witnessed tragedy, more, deeper, than it is worth time and pain to calculate. But the real tragedy, Loki thinks, began as soon as he returned. The real tragedy was, and will always be, Sherlock Holmes.
That man. That man. Loki's fury, his sheer, screaming hatred for Sherlock Holmes is something he can not quite seem to voice. He swears, though, if ever his persecution were to be overturned, and he once again found himself free to wreak his havoc, he swears, the sole recipient of any destruction he can stand to muster will be simply Sherlock Holmes.
Looking at John's life as a play, the arrival of Sherlock was akin to the point in Romeo and Juliet where you might, had you not already known the ending, have believed that the couple may have lived. It is the point in Frankenstein where the Creature may still find love in the wife that Frankenstein is building.
It is the point where all is well. And the point just before Juliet stabs herself aside her lover's cold dead lips, and Frankenstein hacks his Creature's beloved wife to pieces in a rage of fear and fury.
Sherlock Holmes is dead.
That is a lie. The cruellest lie. He is alive.
Loki knows that Sherlock Holmes is alive. He knows because he can see everything on Midgard, and of course, having gained such a solid interest in Doctor John Watson, he has followed up on the condition and life of Mr Holmes. And Mr Holmes is alive and well, and living in Belarus. And this is what is cruel.
It is no cruel twist of fate that has killed the heart of his John. It is the callous nature of Sherlock Holmes.
Loki is angry, because he knows that if Sherlock still lives, he is not separated from his John by a barrier strong as death (Though through consult with Hel, child of Loki's own, you would be swift to find that death is not nearly so permanent as it is considered to be.), he is merely separated by cowardice, pride, and, worst of all, choice.
That makes Loki sick. And he'd be lying if he told you that it was not because, in the depths of the broken husk of a man he knows to be John, he sees something of a scrap of himself.
He knows how John feels.
John gets home, some days, and just curls up on the floor, hands covering head and ears, and screams, screams, screams until his throat is worn and bloody and every breath burns, and he presses so hard around his head that it hurts him and his head begins to ache, and he sobs and rocks and cries. Loki knows that well. Too well.
Sometimes John wakes up in the night sweating and writhing and crying out the name of the man who chose to leave, and he cries when once again he realises that the name will no longer bring forth response. These fretful nights, Loki believes, he dreams of the fall. On other nights, he waked up the victim once again of horrors now long evaded- he screams of war and death, he screams of his abuse, his Father's touch, his Father's rage. His Sister's pains.
Sometimes, John gets up in the morning and goes to work to do his job, and responds with confused protests when he is told by a long suffering woman that he doesn't work any more. He's on long term sick. On those days, he is bleary, delirious and on occasion, ever speaks of Sherlock as a living man, not, as he believes him to be, long dead and gone. On other days, most days, in fact, he does not even move. He just sits there and tries not to die.
Sometimes he even stops trying for that.
Loki understands, because he was the same. He was the same, but he was worse. He screamed, not at himself, but at the world. At many worlds. He ran tearing through the lives of innocents, and he killed so, so many, and all for what? For some vain hope that he might mend those holes which riddled his soul! What foolishness!
He looks at John, and he does not see somebody in less pain than himself- for caving in on oneself does not mean a lower level of suffering than that of a man who lashes out.
Loki looks at John, and he sees somebody like himself, but not himself. He sees a man like himself, but better.
And that, perhaps, is why he loves him.
Because he does. Love him, that is. Not as a man loves his partner, nor as a man loves his parents, but as a man loves his sibling. And as much twisted anxiety as that may force into his heart, Loki knows it to be true.
John Watson, plain and simple, is a greater man than Loki can ever hope to be.
But Loki still hopes. And dreams. And wishes.
He wishes for John's sake, that he could stand as a man in Midgard. A pair of eyes to watch are useful, yes, but to stand, forever, intangible as his smoke and mirrors, is agony.
For now he can only watch, and hope, that John Watson, of the shores of anguish, has strength enough that he will not be pulled, as driftwood, out to sea.