1964-06-12 - Act VI: Loki Bound
Summary: In which Bucky becomes the wolf, and Kai discovers what 'seen but not touched' means as a concept of hospitality.
Related: Loki Bound
Theme Song: None
kai bucky rogue 

Kai has arrived.


With a silvery chain wrapped around his equally argent leg, the wolf of the Hunt known once as James Buchanan Barnes is hauled away. Away for the memory of humanity. If needed, slight, strong hands grasp his scruff and haul him away with inhuman ease. The elves of Svartalfheim are not without near godly power in their arms, and the man's rider…

It's almost as though the Hunt wills him to bend, sapping his strength to defy that white-masked mystery. Shadowy darkness blurs the corners of his vision as some howling, whispering miasma assaults his mind.

A little pressure on the windpipe is all that's necessary to give a shove over into delirious snippets of a film reel, starring himself. Specific memories might stand out, later, in the quiescence of the mind. The way the ground beneath him turns suddenly spongy and soft, almost like a dell to curl up in. The fragments of sparkling pain when something thin and sharp wraps around his neck, constricting his breathing. The flash of red eyes in the dark, dark, dark tunnel down to vertigo. Whispers that permeate every second in a tantalisingly familiar tone, but just out of reach. Crooning, demanding, inquiring, urging, suggesting. They purr against his ears.

The sweet, harsh flash of pain, again, fangs piercing paw, flesh, mind. When the snake of his tongue ceases to be, coils wrap around him instead and squeeze, willing tears to eyes and laboured breaths, while bitten halves of grapes fall to the ground.

The pain is a gift, the pain is a feast. The pain is purification. "Just listen, and be free. Why do you fight who you are?"


Kai goes spiralling up and up and up. High on the elixir poured into the drink, high on the oils rubbed into his broken and bruised skin. Everything that he might call a toxin overriding his depleted will, they would call medicine. Neither is wrong. The side effects for those unholy blends come together to hold the pain at bay and leave everything as an overwhelming sensory rush in every other way. Except his senses aren't wired right. His tongue applies flavours to textures. His ears hear notes for colours. Sharp smells produce a prickle down the back and up the thighs, the synesthetic impressions borrowed and his own.

He can feel the whip on his skin, a distinct shock, and the calfskin and bone in his hand. He can feel metal where none is, though really, with healing ribs and broken leg, how is he going to look down to see if those silver snake-tipped chains that bind his upper body in a handsome net really are biting into his nipples or the fleshy part of his neck where it meets his shoulder?

Fangs that deliver their faint but persistent impression of a sharp kiss. Not even hurtful, really, so much as a frisson of lightning. How often he moves, carried and dropped on a chaise, the whirlwind of movement and possibilities storming around him.

In a carnival of ghosts, what happens when he is the mortal mounted or the exhilarated rider coursing to sweaty abandon? So many faces are worn by him, the caged hunter gnawing a bone and the man running through the field of stone pillars in fear and joy, the captured svartalf and bounding doe fixed in place in a swirl of aghast wonder. He's drinking wine and drinking tears, laughing or moaning, baying, uncontrollably, the hound and the fox and the rider…

The only roles he doesn't play are that of the Keeper of Hounds or the guest of honour, though intangible snippets of mingled voices might, might just torment him. They taste of ice and mead and copper, and the innocuous crushed rose petal perfume that means nothing unless he's met Amora.

And thanks to that damn net, there is no relief. His hands cannot reach one another, much less his body suspended not even on a real chaise but a thing spun of bands of force and a thin, pliable netting in deep, dark violet like Asgard prefers gold hexagons and honeycoms. It moves with him but doesn't permit much movement.

This is hospitality. No harm done. He could walk away at any time, and someone is always there to watch. But for the eye of the storm, all things happen — Bucky's torments among them, his shared view of them — and nothing happens. Nothing at all. Nothing to ease the questions, the ache, the madness, the despair, the joy.

THe problem is that….for all the work they've done on him - Sofia, Kai, Loki, Mordo….the old channels are still carved through his mind. Submission is deeply graven, the instinct to surrender so strong. So he does listen. He does yield. It's a new voice preaching the same old gospel, and he's been a convert for so long. In the grip of whatever's holding him, he goes limp, ceases struggling.

In another context, Kai would be in his own personal heaven as synesthesia blows his mind. It's a blessing to be altered, to let go of his mind and cede fear and thought to a rush of sensations. His back arches as the whip bites into his skin. He cries out, but it's not so much in pain as in ecstasy. Every time he moves, there's a new sting, a new shock. He writhes, whimpers, and moans. His body betrays him, hungering for more, and there's nothing he can do to ease the ache. "Bucky," he whispers. That's his sanity, his saving grace. His friend. That and the need to get back to his beloved. Even if Loki has forsaken him, love isn't simply undone. He fights the sweet, agonizing excitement, focusing instead on the unpleasant pain of broken leg and cracked ribs.

The tree painted on his back has seeped into his skin, and neither sweat nor struggling can mar it. Here and there, a glint of silver can be seen on him.

A kiss on Bucky's nose is almost tender. Almost kind. Something cool and silvery races over his face, struck against his teeth and anchored behind his head. There shan't be any errant biting, them, and whatever words he might try to form are thoroughly mangled into discordant sounds. It's a fair kindness on his part. Elven hands stroke down his back, just enough pressure to tease nerves alight. A nudge. "Go. You've been so very patient. Go and hunt."

The promise of it denied, the promise of all those unbroken vows and needs is unleashed. A light swat to the backside as a nudge to push into that inherent need. Hunt. Find. The joy and the rush of the run.

What soldier hasn't felt release and fulfilment, connection to all things, when sent forth to perform their duties and orders? The assassin nestled on an exposed ridge, the wolf prowling through the winter forest, the man leading the dance released suddenly in one of those old courtly 19th century party dances that allows him to find another partner. To prowl and strike down what he will. This is his celebration, o lupine, and they wait for him.

Silver dances, silver turns. It bites the sweeter, gnawing, chewing. Sweet ecstatic counterpoint to the absence of sensation, otherwise, afflicts Kai. It gives him something to keep him whetted on the present instead of floating away.

Always the hunter, and now he's unburdened by human mores or human words. He's up on his feet, and even if weakened and tired….he still knows his purpose. What's left of Bucky is exhausted into silence. This is even stronger than the Soldier's programming, for that had only ever pain as its reinforcement. This….it offers that chill, bloody pleasure, far more visceral than the cerebral satisfaction of a mission fulfilled, a target destroyed. HE's running, almost blind with it, nose seeking scent.

Kai is left sobbing mindlessly from ecstasy and unanswered need. His blood runs hot and quick. "Let me go," he murmurs in a quivering voice. "Let me go." Part of him desperately wants to go home. Part of him wants to be let go to run, to fight, flee, or forsake his man for any willing partner. He just can't stay bound. Not like this. It's too much.

The wolf isn't running through a forest, not by a long shot. Neither is he in a swampy forest where baleful creatures worse than any hound stalk through the misty curls expunged from the damp earth. His paws tread over the softest of carpets and polished stone, nails clicking on shining granite and spilled wine or other fluids of less easy identification unless he goes nose down and laps at it. The surprisingly nutty dark stout for one is worth the slurp. Some porridge… not so much.

He slips like a phantom through the doorways and grand ballrooms, small chambers, and comes up to an archway on a spiral staircase that probably leads to one of the spiked towers adorning the place. Inside or outside, the routes wheel around a series of interlocked courtyards. This moment, he comes through a doorway into a cavernous thin space where slips of a shadow whirl and dance. His nose captures what eyes and ears and touch would not: they smell like nothing. Nor are they limited to the floor twenty feet down. Maybe he isn't, either.

Prospects are fleeting, the dark cloaked dancers and hunters leading him on the chase. He's on his own to find his quarry, to seek the target. The whispers behind him sing, "Go, go, go."

Kai waits in his bower, a central courtyard witness to it all. That the chamber is suspended in the air and accessed by flyways - delicate buttresses without rails, wide as a dream and thin as a breeze. He's up there, some prize. Waiting.

Awaiting the Hunter.

"Shh, you're safe."

His breath comes in ragged pants. The palace is something out of a drug-induced nightmate. Despire brief pauses to examine what's been left here and there, none of it is what he seeks. His pace is measured - he doesn't know how far he has to go. His brain calls up memories, almost contextless now, of a training game from the Room. The forests of Siberia, trackless and white. He's the hunter, unarmed save for his hands and his strength - his quarry a prisoner, rather than a fellow student or teacher. The memory makes him whine, softly. Then there's the cavernous chamber, and he hesitates. It looks to be a hell of a leap, that way down. Tentatively, he reaches out with a paw, testing. CAn he pass that way, or will he fall?

He floats. It supports his weight, this impossibility, giving him access to a myriad selection of archways and doorways at four different levels in all cardinal directions except southeast. Because screw the southeast.

Kai gazes down at the courtyard, some twisted take on the Queen of Love and Beauty witnessing a tourney where there are no soft tips on the lances. Blood sport with a bloody prize. He tries to move again, to slip free of the bonds holding him still. "Let me go," he whispers raggedly. It's the helplessness that is the worst. It clenches in his guts, makes his blood run cold. "Bucky," he calls raggedly.

Love is just a bloodsport, elf. It has never been anything else. The distant, swift caress of a long filament — maybe a feather, possibly a dusty cat of nine — goes trailing up bound legs and over Kai's hip, teasing back and forth without any kind of relief in sight. Just a vaporous line wandering and setting ablaze nerves that much be thinking indigo passionfruit, the sensation of bubbles in the bloodstream, a heady high of a lick in pistachio voile.

That doesn't make sense. Sensation bears it out, that he can walk on cloudless air. His hindbrain persists in sending stabs of fear. He'll fall. He has to fall. He must. But Bucky treads carefully, pausing to scent the air. Determine from which way his quarry's scent comes. He'll examine each portal in turn, if he must. His fur's bristling with fear, tongue lolling behind the metal caging of the muzzle. The last time his eyes were that panicked, Strange'd crammed him into another dimension entirely.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d20 for: 7

"No," Kai whispers with quiet horror, and his skin shivers despite himself. Love is a pure thing, a healing thing. Love is the only thing that matters. He squirms against the teasing sensations. "Bucky," he moans quietly. "Loki." Focus on what matters. He tries to think of his silly little dog whose one redeeming quality is he's full of love. It's hard to push through the flood of sensations in his mind. They're so tempting, so very tempting. But all he's got left of himself is to try.

|ROLL| Kai +rolls 1d20 for: 2

The vaguest hum ever affects Bucky. His awareness soars and stretches into the far reaches, his pack thundering through the grounds of the Manor. Somewhere a shade leaps upon quarry and brings down the thrashing, fleeing figure. Be it rabbit, be it a Vanir archer, it won't much matter. The thrill and fear assault him force, the chorus of approval zinging through his innards and blossoming into twofold experiences: adrenaline in the system, desire a spike so sharp and hard it probably makes his loping pace falter. Red eagerness is a flood tinged through the shadows, a sense of loss too perhaps. Where is his quarry?

Patience from far away. Another, encouragement. The coordination of other hunters more experienced than he is a dull sensation, a frisson that shadows are moving, converging, in a concerted dance more complicated than figuring out who to seat at a state dinner.

The tantalising fragrance of a grilled dog rolls overhead, up high. Somewhere vaguely north, it calls the man, the wolf, the Hunter. He can probably imagine the taste of mustard and slightly crispy bread.

Good thing that muzzle lets his tongue loll out, if needed.

The broken elf denied the joy of his dog and his lumpy couch and his lumpy boyfriend (okay, not the same) is left to twist and wind himself deeper into the embrace of the net over him. His attempt to pass into love's safety and security simply does not help. It fails. It denies him solace, no. For feeling, seeking to feel, only opens him up to everything. The red rush of eagerness falling, domino fast, into passion, the moaning shriek at an apex of some distant roof that vibrates with thunder and a dappling of rain on the skin that isn't his. Another turns and twists, his core muscles aching, as the chains jangle to an ornate dance. The perverse thirst for wine being slaked by pushing harder, jumping and climbing a wall. The good ache between his shoulders from flying too hard, being melted out beneath rough hands kneading the structure. The taste of a knife on the lips, the bite of cream and steel, and someone's shudder in their sleep full of the dreams of the hunt. They all come crashing down. They all come seething through.

This is love, the bond and the connection between them all. Kin. Pack. Family. The shadows who stalk and dance are his as he is theirs, one and the same, a siren song in the veins. Laughter and sleep and unabashed delight at the pursuit.

Hunger and taste - not mere fuel, but real pleasure. ALmost entirely alien to James, in these latter days, though slowly coming back to him. He pauses at that pang, whines….and then he's running, limbs stretching. The metal foot clangs and scratches, turning his lope into a weird atonal rhythm, the oddity in balance that turns his human pace into a lopsided swagger. His mind's a red swirl of hunger and want, as he leaps up, counting on that strange substantial air to let him rise up to the door he needs.

Kai's Achilles' heel is Loki. Thinking of him proves to be the straw that breaks the camel's back, for how can he think of Loki without reliving passionate nights stolen in that small, rundown apartment where four walls are all that keep them safe from the unforgiving world? He moans again, and he twists, falling upon himself in the tangle of the net containing him. It's the worst feeling, this thrilling need and the coldest horror as everything he's ever heard - every story whispered by his mother and father - unfolds all around him, and the one thing tying him to himself, his lover, undoes him.

Rogue has partially disconnected.

The doorway opens to a hooded portico, a half moon lip of stone opening to another drop down into one of the scalloped courtyards. The heady scent might have a flicker of roasted meat and the spiced blend mixed into the seaside wisps of a certain boardwalk that's attracted children and teens for years.

He is in his element. With Bucky go the thrill of his unseen riders, fellow hunters, biding their time for the outcome and the moment of a strike. No wolf goes it it alone. Neither does he, raised by the communal chorus of murmurs and desirous hunger, yips and cries and whiskey laughs. It is part of a whole, and all those entwined know something of it. He has hunted. He has been prey. Now he is the one coursing, guiding.

He comes to a single bridge ahead of him, maybe twenty feet long. It connects to a stone chamber at the apex, and the thrashing sounds of the prey audible if not heard.

For Kai, is there even any knowledge of what comes to stalk him? The flagellation of recrimination and emotion and the idle flick of silver cords stretched over him are all cause to move. The blackened figure of an elf in the doorway offers a mocking grin and steps aside, the white mask hiding that response. And all the better, truly, so as not to see the particoloured eyes /too/ clearly…

Hunt! whisper the Hunt.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d100 for: 15

Poor Kai. IT's the transformed body of his friend, the pad and scrape of paws metal and flesh, coming at an easy canter. His feet are sure on the bridge, despite its narrowness, unhesitating. Then he's peering down at Kai.

Unfortunately for the elf, there's nothing of James in the pale gaze fixed on him. The wolf gazes at him, whines softly….and then he's throwing his head back and baying, as loud as the muzzle permits. Alerting his pack to his find.

When the elf steps aside, Kai looks up from his tangle, and he meets the wolf's gaze briefly. "Bucky?" he says, and those big blue eyes, sharp with pain, brighten with hope. "Bucky! Help me!" But then he meets the wolf's gaze, and that thin thread of hope unravels. Kai thrashes in the vain attempt at escape. Even if he falls to his death, at least it won't be Bucky who killed him.

The drop for Kai would be more like three feet to the ground. He is suspended within the pillars of the chamber at the top of the bridge, but the downward arc of the bridge meeting the chamber — one of three points that connect — gives the wolf advantage to leap and land on the unsuspecting creature. Silver strands snap around his muzzle and the other shadows come, leaping and running, hurrying to get their piece of the Kai pie. Elf is on the menu for trouble and joy, and the worst part is, their deliriously thrilled response is his too, in cotton candy and swampy pulls, mandarin orange claps of thunder.

Their howls approve. Bucky's teeth are free, and so the claws, and so the kill…

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d100 for: 74

For a moment, his gaze changes. That furry brow furrows in confusion. Wait a second. That's Kai….but then he's so hungry. So hungry. Then he's leaping down to Kai, tangling in the webbing holding him up, and biting at it to clear his path. Come here, little morsel.

The webbing doesn't stick to Bucky and it doesn't stop him from bounding along, though the webbing does sink. Hail to the Hunter…

Wouldn't it be a surprise to the drug-addled elf to expect a plummet and hit the floor? The short scream would almost be worth it for the entertainment value. Kai does scream, though, only it's from the terror of being set upon by wolves. This is it, surely, after so many false starts; this is where he's going to die. It's kind of a relief, really. That doesn't stop terror from taking over. He's a tough creature. It won't be a swift death, and he knows it.

|ROLL| Kai +rolls 1d10 for: 7

At least he won't draw it out. Wolves aren't cats, to play with their prey. The wolf goes for Kai's throat, teeth sharp as grief - he'll tear an artery, or better yet, sever the spine, and it'll be over in moments. Surely.

|ROLL| Bucky +rolls 1d10 for: 10

"Bucky," Kai says, his voice hitching. "Bucky, please." What exactly is he pleading for? Release or his life? Probably the latter, because he twists away again, turning his head, lowering his chin to make as much of his neck disappear as he can. No, bad wolf! No throating.


The softness of flesh in the mouth dimples under teeth easily, though human skin doesn't break to relatively blunt eye teeth and molars without a lot of concerted efforts. Especially when that part of the body is the shoulder, a rather bony one at that. Neither is it particularly easy to chew into human skin when the skin is still wearing polyester, and the singularly thick weave of a shapeless dress covered in vaguely Aztec or southwestern designs in coral, pink, and aquamarine. The moan flitting out weakly through chapped lips is a protest more than a happy one. It is also decidedly feminine. He's lucky to be able to hear it at all.

Because the multitude of hysterical shrieks and cries resonating through the thousands upon thousands of bodies pressing close are their own bestial sort of presence. Mobs often are. They have a heat and a will that comes above the sum of the individual parts, a collective existence in the atmosphere as volatile and dangerous as a grumpy wolverine poked from its burrow too early. Their pitch builds to a frantic shriek.

The man's ears may also register the reverb over the hysteria, the soul-shaking thrum of guitar notes.

"She loves you, yeah, yeah—"
"Who the bloody hell is that?"
"Don't know the bloke. One of yours?"
"Just smile, George."

If Bucky dares to lift his head, he'll see four tall metal stands with microphones pointed down and the long shadows of two men in black and white suits. Too much like agents, possibly, enough to raise terror. Spotlights make it impossible to ignore he's trying to bite through a girl's shoulder, the sprawl of their bodies on hard wood. And though he's still strumming his electric guitar like a man possessed, the brown-haired man with a distinct scowl seems to prefer Bucky get the hell out of dodge.

If that's even possible with three hundred thousand people in the crowd outside, and the many thousands more crowded in for the open-air reception where tickets long ago sold out. Ringo keeps banging on his drum, and hisses through his teeth, "Tosser!"


No one ever said that the experience of death was not intense. It can be slow and quiet, creeping through the annals of dreams. It can be tinged by pain and horror, the body fighting for every last breath it has. Survival is a cruel beast for anything endowed with a hint of sentience. Teeth clamped around flesh tear and sever and slice, and that alone is a lightning pang to the system. Forget those other hurts and those other stings from silver fangs, wet paint, and broken limbs. The shattering of sense falls through the baying of the hunt, and the lupine howls, the elven cries, and all those other impressions pulverising anything discretely sensate.

Ask Bucky what it feels like to die. Kai might learn a thing or two; the wolf died several times in the space of a few hours, brought back, slain again. Or near enough for it to count.

A parallel irony, then, as the Hunt reaches its culmination. A slim spark gutters. The blood sweet taste of flesh and success are the cavalcade ejecting him out… out… out….

And the man, the person, the being that was Kai….

… Well, he just happens to plunge through the length of a branch through the open space of existence. No stars here, and yet he can perceive a leaf outlined in cosmic dust that spans four hundred light years. Nothing like the veins of perilously superheated gasses shining brightly, as nitrogen and helium interplay with one another. He crashes.

He hangs suspended for an instant like a droplet, just at the point of being too fat for a twig to sustain and the moment before it plunges. In that moment, a woman looks up. Her features are female, without question, held back by a rather elaborate metal headdress that bends and curls in amethyst lines. Her eyes turn to him, full of stars rather than clearly distinguished with pupils and irises. Her finger lifts, and on it, some kind of thread goes taut and transparent.

He crashes. The collision means coming up from the earth as dusty and dry as a dessicated riverbed in Mongolia, throwing off puffs of dun, sere dirt. He finds his knees and feet, jarred into place with the clarity of a projector finally attaining the reel. Bones don't ache. Skin doesn't sting. No sense of being wet or bloody. The plain he is on is relatively featureless, engulfed in ice to one end. That's what sublimates into the mist that hangs dry and chill around. Finding features is difficult but, if he does, he might make out a few plain features: a crumbling pile of brownish stones. Over there, the knob that could be a fallen wall. In the far, far distance, something that rises like a hump, a mound or a hill of some kind. There is no sun here, the 'sky' simply a darkening overhead. Helpful to have those elven eyes, they can see. Brown and brown and brown, maybe some grey, and more brown. Even the further curve of a river flowing past, muddy and sluggish, is brown.

Which, in its way, helps possibly determine where he is. For there's only one realm known to be so featureless, so horribly dull. Don't dare tell its queen that, though…


Oh, Jesus. This is an utter nightmare. The wolfish part of him, for it hasn't gone entirely, is stunned and frustrated. The fraction that is still James is aghast, frozen with it. Winter….fragmented, subdued, but not erased, is in control, the other two fractions merely along for a very wild ride indeed. He's up and moving, finding the swiftest way out through the crowd, fluid as an eel. Just go. Get away. There may be security here, but chances are good there are no real killers in the crowd. Away from the spotlights - they give him a residual jolt of memory, feeling - Siberia, his initial interrogations when they revived him.

He's a hair faster than the mere civilians, shrieking in those pagan rites. The advantage of surprise is with him. The harder part will be getting out of this island nation, and back to the right quadrant of the globe.

The dazed girl on the stage doesn't even try to sit up. She stares at the lights, clearly dazzled, her halo of mousy brown hair spreading out in a puddle. It may or may not dawn on her what was happening. But when she sees Paul and John sticking their heads together, halfheartedly trying to belt out a chorus as the crowd is going silent in shock, she utters a breezy little giggle.

The mob mentality is now pinning down on jealousy as the Fab Four try to decide how to proceed. With a bit of a fumble on the strings, John steps up to the microphones and howls, "So pleeeeease! Love me do!"

"Oh yes, please do!" Her breathless reply is lost before she faints.

Kai hits hard, but the wracking pain he's expecting isn't there, and the brief relief that comes with its absence soon sinks into a thick knot of dread in what would've been his stomach were he more than a shade of the being that was Kai. He rises to his feet, and he knows where he is. The dread sinks deeper still, because he knows what it means.

He's dead. He didn't make it. There was no last-minute Bucky returning to himself, there was no Asgardian prince riding in to save the day. There was a life, young by the standards of his people, filled with meaningless things like pleasure and goodness, and it's over, stolen by the darkness that eventually claims all things.

It's just that Kai wasn't done. He was only just beginning. He had friends, he had a lover, and a silly little dog. He had a team and a purpose. All gone.

That's the ache that replaces his broken body. Looking out over the dull brown plain, he's left with a lone and lost question: what does he do now? Now that none of it matters and there is nowhere further down to fall?

He makes his way toward the knob of the fallen wall. He's been to war, he knows the hopelessness of inevitable loss. The mind remembers old habits well, and so he does the only thing he knows to do: he seeks shelter.

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