Odin's current favorite punishment for his sons was to force them to live as mortals, either with or without their memories.
Considering the resentment of his youngest, Loki, this time he banished his son without the memories in the hopes that it would straighten him out...or make him easier to live with.
Unfortunately for Odin, this time around Yahweh, or "God" wanted to teach his sons a lesson as well. Specifically Micheal and Lucifer. Oh, and possibly Gabriel, though odds were that the youngest archangel would get a good laugh when he realized what happened. To be fair, he had no part in Gabriel borrowing Loki's name to hide from his brothers. All he had done was give his son permission.
So when Odin sent Loki down once more, this time without memories of who he was or why he was banished, God decided to have a bit of fun himself. He redirected Loki from the homeless vagrant he would become, to the body of one Dean Winchester.
Time to watch the fireworks.
A few decades later...
Dean woke up in a cheap box, feeling like shit and remembering vividly his time in hell. Only there was something weird about his memory.
It was almost like there were two sets, and one of them was beyond weird.
He shook his head, and focused on getting out and finding Bobby or Sam. Bobby was easier...he had a home address.
As if his day literally could not get weird enough, when the windows blew he heard something. Almost like a voice.
There were words that he could understand, but at the same time he didn't. All he heard was a name.
Dean shook his head. He needed to clear his mind and hopefully find Sam. Maybe then they could unravel the mystery of why he had come out.
A few hours later, Dean found something peculiar.
Half a day before the deal was about up on the time limit, he had gained the ability to see the true form of demons. He had thought it would disappear after he came back...but he could partially see the auras of people around him.
He was almost shaken when the door opened to reveal a rather hot brunette who asked about a pizza. However he recognized her, even if the body was different.
"Ruby," he growled. "Where's my brother you bitch?"
Ruby's eyes widened perceptively. Obviously Dean had startled her by recognizing her so fast.
"Ruby who... Dean?"
Sam tried to punch him, not believing Dean was back...and instinct caused Dean to lay his brother flat on his ass.
The problem was he didn't remember learning that move. It was absolutely not something his father John had taught them, or the limited amount of hand-to-hand Bobby knew. So where had he learned that?
It was all too confusing, but he had more pressing matters to deal with. Namely that bitch Ruby being in the same room as his brother...and if the bra was any indication, his brother possibly sleeping with her.
Not on his damn watch. He'd gut the bitch before he let her sink her hooks into Sam.
Dean didn't hold it against Sam if he had slept with her. He had been very vulnerable after Dean was dragged to mortal hell (where had that thought come from?), and Ruby had CENTURIES to perfect the art of manipulating humans.
Dean's fingers twitched lightly while he brushed his teeth. Unseen and unnoticed by the humans, a spell was placed discreetly on the door and windows.
The only thing on Dean's mind was keeping Sam as far from Ruby as possible. He didn't care if Sam hated him after, the whole thing left a bad feeling in his stomach.
So when Sam went to slip out the room while Dean slept...his mind was subtly diverted by guilt.
The spell was harmless. The only purpose was to emphasize feelings of guilt and regret into keeping the target from leaving. They could overcome it, if the need or compulsion was great enough, but it did the job.
In this case, Sam's relief and confusion at the return of his brother, coupled with the guilt he felt for being with Ruby and having spent that much time learning his powers rather than getting his brother out of hell meant that he decided to let Ruby wait a few days before meeting her again.
Sam and Dean both jolted up when the TV suddenly came on...and a loud whining hum began to fill the air.
When glass started shattering around them, Bobby was there opening the door. Dean was closest and left first...breaking the spell without remembering putting one there. Sam was next, unaware of what had happened.
Abruptly the whine stopped.
"What the hell was that?!" said Sam. He had a few minor cuts, but ignored them, just staring at the room.
"I'm pretty sure I heard something. Castiel, I think. Didn't get much more than that," said Dean, shaking glass out of his hair.
He was still in shock he heard a name at all, much less that high-pitched whine that seemed to be on the right frequency to shatter glass. That couldn't be healthy for humans.
Dean shook his head again. Why was he having these weird thoughts?
Dean stared at the folded wings behind the man who called himself Castiel. He wasn't a demon. He was something else...something on the tip of his tongue, but couldn't recall.
Just like he could hear words, but was having trouble remembering what they were translated into English.
Seeing him knock out Bobby and Sam, Dean stared Castiel in the eye.
Puffed up feather duster. They always think they're so damn superior just because they're minions to a higher power...
Why was he having thoughts like that? What the hell was going on with him?
The first thing Dean did, after explaining what happened to Bobby and Sam, was get drunk. Very, very drunk.
In the midst of his dreamless state, something happened.
Dean found himself in his car, in the open road. There was nothing but meaningless scenery passing him by, as he drove through the night.
But it was the person in the passenger seat who got his immediate and undivided attention.
He knew this man. But how did he know him?
"Don't hurt yourself, Dean. After all, we've been together since before you were born," said the man. Dean couldn't help but find amusement in his sarcastic tone. This guy obviously had a scathing wit to match his sharp features.
"Who are you?"
The man turned to face him, and his eyes were the exact same shade of green as Dean's own...only his felt like he had more to them. Like he was beyond human.
"My name is Loki. The real one, not that fake who stole my identity and is running around."
"What is going on?"
"Odin's aim is 'crap', I believe you would say. His favorite punishment when his sons get too full of themselves or screw up too much for him to tolerate is to banish them and force them to live as a mortal would. Sometimes without memories. Two guesses which version he chose this time?"
Dean didn't need to think that much to guess what "Loki" was telling him.
"And I am you. I'm a shapeshifter, but not of the paltry variety that you...we...hunt down. The question is, Dean Winchester, what are you going to do now? The seal on our memories was forcibly broken when we ascended from the mortals version of hell, which means our memories are threatening to overwhelm us."
"I take it that's a very bad thing?"
"We have to chose who we will be. At least the majority of the time anyway. Will we be Dean Winchester, older brother to Sam Winchester and surrogate son to Bobby Singer...or Loki, the banished Asgardian prince who apparently did something to royally piss off Odin and always overshadowed by Thor and his 'friends'?"
Dean viewed a fraction of Loki's memories...and what he saw had him feel for the guy. He was always overlooked in favor of Thor, and he had grown to resent it. But there was a sliver of good memories. Mostly revolving around Frigga, his adopted mother.
Blood runs thicker than water, but in some cases the blood you chose ran even thicker.
Like his relationship with Bobby, which overshadowed his feelings towards his biological father John. His father might have been John Winchester...but his dad would always be Robert "Bobby" Singer.
"What's your opinion of Sam or Bobby?" asked Dean finally.
Loki seemed surprised about that, before he seriously thought about that.
"Sam is ours, not that filthy hell spawn. He is our brother the same way Thor is, even if I find Thor to be a complete idiot who's only talent is to smash things with his oversized hammer. He at least tried to keep us included, when everyone looked down on us for being mages rather than warriors."
Dean saw the memories himself. Thor was an idiot, but then again he wasn't that smart either. He did his best to be a good brother, even when he failed spectacularly. He honestly loved Loki.
"I think it might be better for us to be Dean. It would take someone Sam trusted explaining about the whole forced reincarnation thing before he'd believe We're still his brother. He's going to go nuts when he sees the library," grinned Dean. Loki smirked.
The fact was that Loki had more in common with Sam than he ever did with Thor, but seeing them from Dean's perspective he realized he loved them both.
He just preferred his mortal brother's presence more than Thor's.
"It's going to be a interesting couple of months..." said Loki.
"At least we can use the excuse of hell to pass off any oddities in our personality," said Dean.
"And why we now have a hair-trigger reaction to shooting that hell spawn or why we refuse to even consider her presence," agreed Loki evilly. "And to be honest, I don't feel right leaving that staff in the hands of the mortals."
"Good idea. There's no way that staff would have been able to penetrate the shield around it if it was powered by an Infinity Stone unless..."
"There was another one inside the staff. Considering what Thanos has us use it for, I'm guessing it's the Mind Stone."
Dean could see the "sky" lightening up. A sign of him waking.
Loki held out his hand, and Dean shook it. He could feel the memories sorting themselves, reorganizing in a way his mortal shell could handle.
Just because the memories were back prematurely didn't mean his Æsir body had. He had a limited amount of magic as it was.
Dean, and this was Dean now, woke up. Without a hangover, thankfully. Though he still had a migraine from the influx of memories still sorting themselves out.
Dean looked at his brother, and knew that he had to do everything in his power to keep Ruby far, far from him. He didn't know what the demon wanted Sam for, and frankly he didn't care. He just knew that anything a demon was planning wouldn't be good for mortals.
Sam did notice a slight change in Dean, shortly after finding out angels were real. He was quicker to shoot out a rather snappy, and often times acerbic comeback. He could leave a weaker-willed person in tears with a few short words.
His bad habits of sleeping with anything that had two legs, a pair of breasts and looked female had dropped, but then again that wasn't too surprising.
The biggest change, if he could call it that, was that Dean seemed to be giving him more space. He wasn't as overprotective or cloying, seeming content to allow Sam to make his own mistakes without trying to correct them or lessen the blow. Provided that said mistakes didn't involve Ruby in some manner.
Dean had gone from tolerant to her presence...barely, anyway...to not wanting her ten miles anywhere near them. He started to develop a hair-trigger reaction whenever her name was brought up, and the less said about his nearly successful attempt at killing her the better.
The one time Ruby broached the idea that maybe Dean wasn't Dean the few scant hours he had spent around her, Sam had shrugged off her suspicions. Which were mostly centered around the fact that Dean had apparently kept the ability to tell when demons were around, even if he couldn't see their full form like he had before. He also seemed to know whenever Sam came within ten feet of Ruby, and he didn't like it.
There was a simple reason Sam dismissed the idea that Dean wasn't entirely Dean. Sure, his snark had been upgraded and he had learned to loosen up, but to him not much had changed at all. In fact if Sam had to be honest with himself, he preferred this Dean over the way he was before.
That Dean always seemed like he had the world on his shoulders and took his self imposed duty to protect his brother far too seriously.
This Dean was a snarky, annoying asshole who let Sam breath and could actually keep up with him for once. He was content to let Sam live his own life, provided it didn't involve Ruby in any way, shape, or form.
And frankly he was still a little wigged out from her convincing him to drink demon's blood.
"You alright Sammy? You seem a little...twitchy."
"I know, but I have no idea why. If I didn't know any better I'd swear I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms, but you know I don't take illegal narcotics...at least not enough to get addicted," said Sam. He could feel the sensation of shivers go down his spine, but he wasn't actually cold.
Dean paused, slowed the car and pulled over to the side of the road.
"Sammy, do you have anything to say about why you were with Ruby when I came back up?" he asked slowly.
Sam winced. He just knew Dean wouldn't take this well...
"I was with her."
"I kinda figured you might have been sleeping with her, considering the bra I found," deadpanned Dean. So long as it was just sleeping around, he could live with that. He didn't like it, but he could live with it as long as it was in the past.
"It wasn't just that," admitted Sam. It was probably a good thing Dean had parked the car, otherwise they might have had an accident. "She was training my powers."
Dean blinked, as he processed that. The Dean before hated anything to do with demons. The man he was now loathed the things, but he wasn't about to condemn Sam for wanting to learn how to use his powers...unless...
"Training how?" said Dean dangerously.
Sam didn't met his eyes as he said quietly "She had me drink her blood. Apparently when you killed Azazel it made the powers he gave me go inactive."
Dean swore in several different languages. Sam was actually impressed, even if he didn't know why Dean knew how to speak Norse.
"That's it. The hell bitch is getting ganked if I see her again. I don't care if you do hate me after, but I'm not letting the fact she got you hooked like that go."
Sam winced. He had never seen Dean this pissed before.
"No Sammy. She's obviously trying to turn you into an addict who will follow her for whatever scheme she's in without question. I could care less if you were just sleeping with her, but drinking demon's blood is another story," said Dean flatly.
There was another check against something going on with Dean. Before he would have been pissed that Sam was sleeping with her at all, much less drinking demon's blood.
"Dean, I need the blood to use my powers!"
Dean tightened his grip on the steering wheel. If Sam had been paying attention to his hands, rather than Dean's face, he might have seen it bend slightly under his grip.
"Sammy, drinking that shit is almost as bad as making a deal for the powers in the first place. If I can find an alternate method that doesn't involve demons, then will you keep your mouth shut about me ganking the bitch?" asked Dean seriously.
Sam didn't have to think too hard about it.
"If you can find something that doesn't mean having to drink blood, then yes."
"Good. First we're getting you to go cold turkey on the blood before I kill the bitch. Then I'll see what I can find instead," said Dean tightly, rage clear in his eyes.
Say what you would about Loki and Dean, but they were possessive bastards. And they had definitively claimed Sam as their brother, even if he didn't know about Loki just yet. The fact Ruby was trying to use him pissed them off to the point they were highly homicidal.