Best to just concede the reality of the situation and give this AU the separate listing it deserves. Sigh.

Title from the U2 song of the same name.

symbollalagy asked: Au where Loki is banished, not Thor. Odin takes his power, but not his impressive intellect. Maybe he learns Mifgardian science? ?

Wherein Loki gets laid, Thor plays wingman, and Darcy can't find her iPod. (Romance-ish/Humor. PG-13.)

Not exactly the prompt, and not as smutty as intended, and it sort of got away from me, but… isn't that the way of things?

Thor feels guilty.

This is not a common state for him. Guilt is a companion of regret, and while Thor is not a stranger to regret, he is certainly not on a first name basis with it. But if this current state of affairs does not soon alter, he suspects he may become more familiar with the emotion than he ever imagined.

It is unjust that Loki has been banished along with him. Thor doesn't believe for a moment that he deserves to be banished, either — they were defending Asgard against the Frost Giants, as had their father, and his father before them! — but Loki hadn't even wanted to go to Jotunheim, had in fact counseled against it! The responsibility for the battle lay on Thor's shoulders, and thus should the consequences as well.

But the All-Father had not listened, called them unworthy children in need of a sharp lesson, and saw fit to cast them from their home to this dusty, bland little corner of Midgard, Thor without Mjolnir, Loki without Mother's tricks.

Thor's shame is only amplified by the intense relief he feels at knowing they are still together. He should desire Loki be back in Asgard, but in his heart he cannot wish them parted, even in exile. But at least Loki must feel the same.

At least, Thor thinks so.

They had lost each other on the journey across realms. Thor was immediately struck by a horseless carriage and brought to primitive medics against his will, but Loki did not wander into the village tavern until the next morning, looking dazed, ashen, and deeply troubled. He showed no interest in pancakes, no matter how Thor encouraged him. Something had changed in his brother over those few short hours, but Loki would not say what.

Indeed, his brother has said very little at all — except for his conversations with the woman Jane Foster. When it became clear that Loki, more widely-traveled than Thor himself, possessed the greater knowledge of the Rainbow Bridge (or "wormhole" as she referred to it — an odd designation, as there are certainly no worms involved), Jane had launched attacks of inquiry as relentless as Sif's blade. Even Loki's uncharacteristic distance could not withstand the assault. Soon he answered her questions, asked a few of his own, and did so with a smile. Later he even exerted his considerable prowess of persuasion — the All-Father may have taken Loki's magic, but nothing could steal his silver tongue — to prevent the abduction of Jane Foster's laboratory by a battalion clad in black.

When the battalion drove away, leaving her beloved research unmolested, Jane Foster looked at Loki as though he had hung the stars in the heavens.

His brother had not appeared displeased by this.

In another situation, Thor might playfully attempt to turn the mortal's attention from Loki to himself. They had competed for women since time immeasurable, as brothers do, with Thor most often the victor. Such fraternal contest is all in good fun. And this Jane Foster, Midgardian though she is, has an indefinable appeal about her that cannot help but catch the eye. Under different circumstances…

But Thor feels guilty.

It is for this reason that when Darcy, she of the loud mouth and easy air, assigns him the quest of seeking a vanished Eye-Pod, Thor chooses not to knock upon the door of Jane Foster's wheeled abode — for the sounds coming from within are decidedly unmistakable.

"Yes, keep— keep going— oh, God—"

"That would… be the idea…"

"I said keep going! No talking!"

Then nothing but pants and moans.

Obviously Jane Foster is more grateful for the rescue of her equipment than Thor realized.

When Thor returns to the lab having willingly abandoned his hunt for the Eye-Pod, Darcy is displeased. "I just downloaded like thirty songs onto there," she says, perched upon a chair and searching the cabinets with a single-minded determination. "If those men-in-black walked off with it, I'm gonna be so pissed."

Thor nods. "The theft of one's property must be answered with swift retribution."

"Damn straight."

"Yet the item you seek may still be within Jane Foster's possession. You ought question her on the subject come morning."

"Huh? You didn't even ask? Dude, you had one job."

"I shall not," Thor says gravely, "disturb my brother in the act of conquest."

Darcy drops a sizeable box of Pop-Tarts with a thud. (It shall not be sizeable for long, for he is again requiring sustenance. How do mortals find time to accomplish anything, being always so consumed by hunger?) She jumps down and runs for the walled window to look across the yard — and her eyes promptly widen to the size of saucers. "Holy shit," she says. "When the trailer's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin'."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Nothing. Totally made the right call, though. You have no idea how bad Jane's needed this."

Thor nods again. "Loki as well."

"Really? I thought he was more of an Equus type." Darcy shrugs at Thor's look of confusion. "You know, that story in Erik's book. With the horse."

Thor blanches. "If you value your life, Darcy," he says, "never speak of that incident within my brother's hearing."

"What about the one where you're in a dress?" Thor just glares, and Darcy raises her hands in a conciliatory gesture. "Not judging. Once I went to this frat party, and they had Jell-O shooters, and when I woke up the next morning I…"

The tale that follows leaves Thor determined that, once he and Loki discover a way back home, this Darcy Lewis must be introduced to the wonders of Asgardian mead.

(And, based on the noises which now carry through the windows and into the lab, Thor rather suspects that Jane Foster will be coming along as well.)