Here we are. The last drabble.
I'm not even going to lie about why this story became what it did. MCU!Lokane is — and, frankly, should be — angst and darkness and mindfuckery and a whole lot of disturbing. It's just the nature of the pairing. And that's pretty much exclusively the kind of fic I deal in.
But dammit, I wanted to take a break from that. BECAUSE I JUST DID, OKAY. I WANTED TO HAVE SEMI-CANON MOSTLY-IN-CHARACTER FUN WHERE EVERYONE WAS SOMEWHAT HAPPY AT LEAST PART OF THE TIME. I DIDN'T WANT TO HURT ANYMORE.
And apparently, a lot of you guys felt the same. Y'all readers are awesome, and I hope this… well, if not exactly satisfies, at least works. Thanks :)
Wherein many people work things out... and some don't. (Drama. R.)
Heimdall is a watcher. His role, his purpose, his existence is to witness. Not to act.
But the Queen of Asgard has declared she will see her children returned, or the realm that took their lives will suffer the wrath of the forgotten gods. And if the Queen commands, the Gatekeeper obeys.
(As Frigga commands, so Heimdall obeys.)
Nevertheless, it is to his relief — or would be, were he the sort to be moved by such emotions — when the eldest Prince of Asgard appears at last upon this, the entrance to Asgard. Before his cape stopped fluttering he shouts: "You must close the Bifrost!"
Heimdall has only one question. "Where is your brother?"
"Only just behind. We will retrieve everyone just as soon as the Earth is safe once more, I swear it, but their world cannot withstand the bridge any longer! It must close, Heimdall!"
The Gatekeeper is sworn to obey his liege.
(As Frigga desires, so Heimdall obeys.)
So he will not shut the gate himself.
He will, however, step away from the greatsword Hofund. And he will watch — watch, as he was meant — while Thor takes the hilt in his grasp and twists it with all his mighty strength.
"The connection has been open for too long," says Heimdall. (Regretfully.) "The full power has been unleashed. Go; go to the Queen; it is my duty to stay."
Heimdall has seen many things. So many things. So many things that there are times he does not only see, but foresees.
But he does not foresee the way Thor strikes him in the chest with Mjolnir with enough force to knock him far afield of the gate. He strikes the Rainbow Bridge at some distance, breath knocked form his lungs, safe. As he did not wish to be.
He opens his eyes to see the mortals looking down at him. "Why aren't there any safety barriers on this stupid road?" demands Darcy Lewis. "You could have fallen right off!"
"Do you really want to do this?" Tony shouts as they approach the Giant Swirling Space Bridge of Death. "I try not to get people killed if I don't have to!"
"It will work!"
"Are you sure?"
"Because if you die, so does the entire planet!"
The Norse Trickster God of Lies glares at him. "Will you kindly shut up and do as I instructed?"
"Sir, the Einstein-Rosen bridge is approaching."
"Yeah. Kinda hard to miss."
"If we get closer than five hundred feet, the wind tunnel will pull us into the vortex."
"Thanks, JARVIS, that makes me feel better."
The aliens glance at each other nervously. "He speaks to himself," says the hot chick.
"We're in the hands of a madman," says the blond.
"It is my plan, my friends."
"Apologies. Two madmen."
"Eat me, Volstagg."
"Is that an insult to my appetite?"
"A local idiom. And an insult." Loki leans in the back window of the truck. "Son of Coul, if Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis are not safely in Asgard, you will not enjoy our next meeting."
"I didn't enjoy this one that much." Coulson opens the driver's door and glances down at the desert floor rushing by below them. "They went in; that's all I know."
"Sir, we're approaching five hundred feet," says JARVIS.
Now or never. "All right," says Tony, slowing down just a hair, "all Earthlings off the ride." Coulson jumps without hesitation; Barton hesitates as he jams what looks like a broken ankle against the wheel well. "You too, Legolas."
Barton flips him off, then leaps.
"Is everyone else strapped in?"
A chorus of nos.
"Oh, well. End of the line." Five hundred feet, and yep, Tony can feel this rainbow tornado sucking at his armor like a black hole. "Good luck, guys."
And he hurls the truck, five alien passengers and all, right into the vortex.
On the other side of the Bifrost, Thor ducks as pieces of a vehicle come sailing through the air and crash through the far side of the disintegrating gate.
There must be a scientific reason for what's happening, and therefore a scientific solution, but even if Jane knew what it was she wouldn't know how to implement it. Not here, on the other side of the universe.
The Earth is going to be destroyed under the unsupportable weight of a bridge through space unless they do something.
Darcy's still trying to get the Gatekeeper to his feet. Jane's thinking as fast as she can. "We have to break the connection," she shouts at her intern.
"No, I mean, we have to break the connection!" She stamps her foot on the shining, multicolored road beneath them. It looks like glass. Maybe it's just as brittle. "With… with dynamite, or something—"
"Dynamite? Are you high?"
"I'm open to suggestions!"
"That's a first!"
"Is this really the time to— aaah!"
In this moment, Jane Foster discovers something she had never before known. She discovers that, in addition to having three degrees, she also has surprisingly fast reflexes. Which is why no one dies when the bumper formerly belonging to a Dodge Ram pickup comes sailing through the space their heads occupied a half-second before she tackled Darcy.
The rest of the truck hits the road, chucks its passengers into sprawling heaps, rolls right past them, and slides off the bridge into the abyss.
"Holy crap!" cries Darcy.
If he'd still been human, the impact would most assuredly have killed him. But he is not — and thank all the heavens for that — and so Loki manages to wobble to his feet just in time to nearly be felled by another blast of energy bursting from the Bifrost gate.
Why is the damned thing still open?
"Brother!" Thor, Mjolnir in hand — and Loki never, ever thought he'd be so happy to see his brother raise his hammer — comes running down the Rainbow Bridge. "Hofund will not turn — the Bifrost will not close!"
What? "How can that be? Where is Heimdall?"
Thor points beyond them, and as he does, an elated expression comes across his face. Yes, just past Sif and the Warriors Three, there is Heimdall lying prone, and next to him—
Loki nearly staggers with relief.
He will not have to wreak vengeance upon the son of Coul after all.
Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis, hale and whole, see them as well. The latter is shouting something he cannot hear. The former gestures wildly—
She stamps upon the bridge, and makes a snapping motion with her hands.
Clever little mortal.
He glances at Thor, who has gotten the message as well. "Can you do it?" he asks his brother.
Thor twists Mjolnir in his hand. "I suppose we'll find out. Can you block it?"
"I suppose we'll find out." This is going to take a lot of magic. "Father will be furious."
"Indeed. But he can hardly banish us a second time." Thor smirks at him. "Right?"
Loki grins back. "Right."
"Look at this," breathes Jane.
Darcy looks, even though she thinks she's done enough looking in the last half hour for a lifetime. It's kind of hard not to. Spots flash in her vision from everywhere: the lightning flying out of the Bifrost-sphere-gate-thing, the bursts on the ground where Thor smacks the road with that hammer of his over and over again, the golden shimmer all around them that starts from Loki's palms and keeps getting thicker and thicker until everything else becomes harder to see—
—but every time Mew-Mew hits, there's another blast of light. Every time there's another blast of light, the golden shimmer around them crackles. Every time the golden shimmer crackles, Loki falters. "Thor," he yells, voice cracking, "finish it!"
Another shudder beneath their feet.
The temperature drops about fifty degrees. The shimmering wall is suddenly shot through with ice.
Loki falls to his knees.
"Loki!" Jane cries out.
Even from this distance, even through the barrier, Darcy can hear Thor roaring with his final strike.
Then it all explodes.
Deep beneath the Mojave Desert, fifty of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Western Division scientists — including Erik Selvig — hit the floor as the tesseract shoots waves of gamma radiation a hundred yards in every direction.
The earthquake stopping makes Coulson, Stark, and Clint lurch. "What the hell just happened?" says Stark.
Clint stares up into the suddenly cloudless blue sky. His ankle hurts like hell. "I think… it worked."
"Oh. Yay. Go team."
Coulson's already walking in the direction of the base. "I have a lot of phone calls to make."
Time seems to slow down as the shards of the Rainbow Bridge fly. Loki, caught in the burst of energy, sails through the air, feels the pull of the abyss, a bottomless well that can only lead to his death or worse—
—and jerks to a stop as a hand locks around his ankle.
"Must you be so heavy, brother?"
Loki twists around to see Thor clinging with one hand to the shattered edge of the Bifrost. The other holds onto his leg for dear life. "Says the fool who ate his weight in Pop-Tarts weekly," he retorts on instinct, panting for breath through the thin air and panic.
"I will drop you."
Before Loki can gear up for another reply, the stress around his body starts to ease. He and Thor are weightless, wrapped in magic, floating effortlessly through a golden glimmer, up up up, to be guided back onto the Bridge and rested gently before—
"Bickering even now," their mother laments, smiling through her tears. "I suppose I shouldn't be shocked."
The residents of Puente Antiguo stand in the middle of Main Street, watching as the multi-hued tornado on the horizon vanishes in a puff.
Fernanda, using Isabella's piece of shit cell because her own was destroyed, covers her free ear with her hand. "It was mostly fire," she shouts into the phone. The reception sucks. "There was some blue guns that blew stuff up, too."
"All right. We have a form system to streamline that." Fern doesn't know what this Pepper Potts does, exactly, but she seems to be really good at the whole organizing-rampant-destruction thing. "I'll have a representative from legal there in the next two hours, and we'll go from there. Is Tony still around?"
"Iron Man? No, he left."
"I see. If he comes back, slap him and tell him it was from me."
"I can do that."
A few short months ago, Thor would have been mad with blood joy over the triumphs of this day.
Now, wiser and humbled, he knows that if he never sees another battle like this it will be too soon. "Mother," he murmurs, feeling like a boy as she envelops him in her arms. Thank the heavens their friends are still far distant, because he can feel his eyes growing moist. "Midgard nearly burned!"
"But it did not."
"You are home. That is all that matters."
"I missed you."
"Oh, my son. How I missed you as well." Frigga has no concerns about maintaining a stoic front; she weeps freely, even as she laughs. "Look at you — you have grown!"
"Mother, I have been the same height for three hundred years."
"Indulge me." He has to bend nearly into a bow to allow her to kiss his forehead. He does so willingly.
She smiles, then releases him to turn to Loki — Loki, who stands back, hesitant as Thor has never seen him. "Loki?" she says gently, extending her hand.
He does not take it. "You left us on Earth."
"Why?" It is Loki's voice that cracks with betrayal, but Thor feels the burn of anguish as well. Of doubt. "Why didn't you bring us back?"
Frigga's smile widens as she steps forward to touch Loki's face. "You've grown as well," she whispers, stroking his cheek. Thor watches as his brother's tears spill over onto their mother's fingers. "Do you not see? There is a purpose to everything your father does."
You are unworthy, Father had said.
Thor glances down at Mjolnir, held from him for so long. Now it rests light as a feather in his grasp. Lighter, indeed, than ever it was before.
Loki has given in to their mother's embrace — it would take a harder man than either of them to resist for long. But then he says the strangest thing. "Mother, on— on Jotunheim, there was—"
"Shh. We will speak of it later, my son." Frigga releases him and backs away, still beaming at them both. "For now, you have several very worried friends to reassure."
Sitwell knows the shit has hit the fan when he sees Coulson and Barton — both decidedly more alive than they were supposed to be by now — approaching the smoking crater that used to be the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, nearly identical expressions of horror on their faces. The fact that Iron Man is with them is just the icing on the cake.
Well. Sitwell has always known how to think fast.
He drops the last flash drive to the ground and crushes it beneath his heel. "Agents!" he shouts, waving his arms. "Thank God you're here! S.T.R.I.K.E. killed everyone — Rumlow's gone insane!"
"So that was the real Thor and Loki," says the guy from the 7-11.
The old man shrugs.
"We watched Norse gods have sex and get drunk and play Playstation."
The old man shrugs again.
The guy from 7-11 shakes his head. "Should've charged more for those Slurpees," he mutters, and heads back to the store to clean his shotgun.
Volstagg doesn't know what to make of most of what's happened today, but what shocks him the most is how the little Midgardian in the glasses runs across the bridge to Thor, outpacing all of them, even Sif — only to punch the Prince of Asgard right in the arm. "You jerk!" she shouts. "I thought you were going to die fighting all those crazy agent guys! You freaked me out! You know how I hate being freaked out!"
Thor's expression turns… turns… sheepish. (Volstagg blinks multiple times to make sure he's seeing it right, which is still more subtle than Fandral's dropping jaw.) "I apologize," he says. (Sif coughs in shock. Even Hogun's eyes widen.) "I had to put an end to the threat."
"With a lawn chair? Dude! I had Mace! You could have used that!"
Further down the bridge, the Queen speaks quietly to Heimdall. That's a conversation Volstagg's glad he can't overhear.
The other Midgardian woman stands before Loki, and if Volstagg has never seen Thor sheepish, he has certainly never seen Loki apprehensive. Yet here he is, the Silvertongue himself, removing his helmet and shifting his weight. "Are you all right?" he asks.
The Midgardian woman nods.
Loki pauses, then reaches into his coat. He pulls out a somewhat singed notebook; the woman takes it automatically when he holds it forward. "Everything else was destroyed," he explains. "But I—"
The woman tosses the notebook aside and launches herself into Loki's arms, wrapping her legs around his waist and kissing him passionately.
Lady Sif and the Warriors Three stare.
"Don't worry," says the loud, punch-y Midgardian, addressing someone other than Thor for the first time. "They do that all the time. You get used to it. I'm Darcy Lewis, by the way, and that's Jane Foster who's lip-locked with Loki, and you're…"
"My friends," says Thor, putting an arm around Darcy Lewis's shoulders, "allow me to introduce the wisest creature I've ever encountered in any realm." He grins down at her "But now, my bestie, it is I who have much to teach you."
Fandral frowns at Sif. "What's a 'bestie'?"
"So," murmurs Jane Foster, still held firmly against Loki's body, "is this how you normally look?"
Loki grins. "More or less."
"It's a good look."
"Uh, guys? Science-y guys? Not to interrupt, but—" Darcy Lewis points over the edge of the broken Bifrost "—how, exactly, are we supposed to get home?"
"Come check this out."
"No. I'm not playing Words with Friends. You cheat."
"It's not Words with Friends, and I do not cheat."
"'Xi' isn't a word."
"It's a letter in the Greek alphabet."
"Foreign languages shouldn't count."
"You're just pissed because you lost again. Seriously, I need you to see this."
Agent Hakim kicks her rolling chair from her desk to Agent Dion's. "What is it?"
Dion clicks on a YouTube video uploaded two hours earlier by CherryBerryBeth2931.
A video of Puente Antiguo.
Featuring their former surveillance subject.
In a red cape.
With the giant hammer.
It's already got over a hundred thousand hits.
Dion and Hakim look at each other.
"Okay," says Hakim finally. "More Words with Friends."
Deep within the palace of Asgard, Odin All-Father opens his eyes.
Thor, Loki, Jane, and Darcy will return in the sequel drabble series Out of Town. Now collecting prompts.