Author's notes: Firstly, woah, the amount of support and feedback I've gotten on this piece has been amazing. I honestly cannot thank you all enough for how great you've been all this time, especially with my.. uh.. less than frequent updates. All my love to each and every one of you.

Secondly, I'll warn you all now for the slightly open ended conclusion to the story. I just didn't want to tie everything up too neatly so that I could come back to it later (for a sequel) if I felt the need or desire to. But I promise it won't cut to black in mid sentence.

That all said, I hope you enjoy the final chapter of Stains in the Carpet. And again, thank you.


...

The night was quiet, still, and as he stared up at the vacant darkness of his ceiling he realized that his father must have chosen to stay out after Thor had retrieved him. It's unsurprising, he supposes.

But it does not explain the absence of his brother.

His sigh fills the silence, but even so the bed's rusty springs sound unnaturally loud to his own ears, creaking in complaint as he turned over to face the wall that separated him from the couch. He strains his eyes and thinks he can see the crayon marks he left there as a child, back when this was Thor's bed, for him to find. Thor had been too old for idle doodling on the wall, but he'd taken the blame for it anyway. Smiled at Loki even after his mother's disapproving voice had assured him he'd be getting none of the cake she'd made.

Loki isn't sure if his chest feels tighter for the memory or the sound of the front door opening.

The floor's cold beneath his feet but he pays it no mind, barely feels it as he rights his too-large shirt and pads over to his door, opens it quietly but without hesitation.

He feels like this is a scene they keep replaying, doing wrong over and over and being forced to relive for their failure. He'd tried to do it differently, once, hadn't he? Walked into the kitchen in the middle of the night instead of staying in his room, only to find Thor with a broken mug and a strange look on his face.

Half-startled, half-.. whatever it was he was looking at him with now as he looked up at him from his seat on the couch.

"What are you doing up?" Thor's voice isn't angry, but it is rough, it hits his ear wrong and Loki knows he's probably been drinking for it to sound like that. "When I sent you to your room it wasn't a suggestion, it was a punishment."

On another night Loki might have scoffed, but the memory of his behavior earlier is still fresh in his mind, and the embarrassment of his acted upon.. yes, jealousy, burns in his cheeks. "I-.. I wanted to.." Ask where Thor's been going, what he's been thinking to just disappear for hours in the middle of the night, just talk.

His eyes raise to find his brother's deep blue ones already locked on him. But not his face, Loki notes with confusion, and traces his gaze as best he can to find it on his shoulder instead. Bared at some point during his walk from his room to the sofa.

Loki's breath catches, his skin prickles as he feels that stare on him even more acutely, and when he turns to look at Thor again he's not sure what expression he expects to find.. he's not sure if he's surprised that it's shame. "Thor-"

"Go to your room." Thor says, stern but quiet, his breath fast as if he's failing at calming himself. Loki takes a step forward and he tenses, swallows, but doesn't look away. Loki's not sure he's taken his eyes off of him since he left his room. "Loki.."

He feels lightheaded as he advances, the light coming in through the window barely lighting a thing, making it all seem too soft around the edges. Like a dream.

But Thor's shoulder feels solid beneath his hand, the shake in his breath sounds real enough to make Loki sway on his feet. Loki reaches with his other hand, his fingers sliding through the golden strands, and Thor tips his head back. Into the touch, away from it, to meet his younger sibling's gaze. He doesn't know. He's not sure Thor knows.

For a moment things seem to still entirely, caught on the edge of whatever it is that's been building between them over the last year. No, more.. so much more..

Loki's touch wanders to Thor's chin, just below his lower lip, and Thor stops breathing entirely. His eyes wide and there is a plea there, Loki thinks, but before he can decipher it they slip shut. He murmurs then, barely loud enough to be heard, and Loki understands.

"Please."

Almost at once Loki leans down and catches his lips, clumsy and earnest, and Thor.. Thor responds like switch was flipped inside him.

All at once he feels the man's touch all over him, cool air hitting his back as Thor's hands moved the shirt as he stroked the soft skin beneath the ratted fabric, swallowing the tiny sounds his brother made as he felt those large, work calloused, hands on him.

Too soon Thor pulls back, and Loki barely has the mental faculties left to open his eyes, let alone tell his brother to stop being an idiot and kiss him again- but a simple glance at the highly diminished space between them tells him why he did. He didn't even know when they'd begun to lean back.

"I…" He began as he tried to catch his breath, but the way Thor was staring at his neck told him that his flush had begun to spread, possibly to his collarbone, and the undeniably hungry way the man was looking at him was doing nothing to make his breathing slow.

He's not sure who hears the rattling of the old doorknob first, but he knows it's Thor that has the sense of mind to get them into Loki's bedroom before the old man's come lumbering in.

Thor laughs almost nervously when the door is closed behind them, just loud enough for him to hear, and Loki's sure his lovable oaf of a brother has just realized what he's done.

He'd figured it was instinct already. Some left over reflex from when it had been their room and all toys had to be hurried out of the living room before their father returned home, rather than a means of.. continuing.

Thor clears his throat softly, and despite the circumstances, despite what they've just done, he somehow looks the most relaxed he's seen him in a long time. And Loki feels it too, like a great weight's been lifted off of his soul. It should be the opposite, he thinks. Their father is home, he has no idea what his brother will say or do in regards to Jane, Loki isn't even an adult for another year, but..

He meets his brother's eyes again and sees reflected there his same thoughts. They'd handled worse than a secret together together, hadn't they?

When Thor reaches for his hand, Loki gives it readily. He knows the request already, and with a slight smile he lets himself be led to the bed to curl up beside his brother. They don't fit, not like they used to, but it doesn't matter to either of them.

It's been forever since they've done this, just held each other through the night, and they both need it.

"Ever the gentleman." Loki mutters as Thor's hands settle innocently at the center of his back, and despite the trouble Thor had gone to before to keep them from attracting attention, the blond laughs outright.

There are a million questions he wants to ask, but when Thor begins to play with his hair he finds it difficult to voice any of them and disrupt the moment.

In the morning, he decides. They'll talk things through in the morning. But for tonight, if only for the one night, he'll easily find contentment in this.