Thor was already on the bridge to seek Heimdall again when Odin appeared in front of him, his anger palpable.

"Why did you turn away?" he demanded. "Your destiny awaits and you turn from it? And you put Sif in charge of your army? Would a good king leave his people behind in the hands of an untested warrior, let alone a woman?"

"I may not ever be a good king," replied Thor stiffly, unflinching despite Odin's rage, "but I will try to be a good man. Do not assume I am leaving Asgard to its destruction. I know what I am doing, Father. Now please let me pass."

Odin did not budge. "You are my son and I mean to guide you in redeeming yourself in the eyes of the aesir."

"I will earn their respect through my own actions, Father of mine, and not through your machinations. Sif still has much to prove, and she will therefore do her best to protect our realm. You might wish to counsel her in matters of war instead of confronting me."

Odin stepped forward, Gungnir at the ready. "You mean to leave?"

"I mean to do what is right by my heart and my soul." Thor's right hand flexed slightly around the hilt of Mjolnir. "I have every reason not to fight Loki. You set him up, Odin Gallows-God; you set up this scenario in which we will have to war with the unknown enemy, just because you want me to become a king. I am no puppet, and I will not fight this war."

"Sif will," said Odin. "Do you think her fair hands will shed no blood?"

"I think she will be more cautious of the blood she does shed in this baseless war, since she has too much pride to lose," said Thor evenly, meeting his father's stormy glare. "As do you."

Gungnir began to glow. Odin growled, "You will not leave Asgard."

"I will not stay, knowing Loki is out there," Thor enunciated carefully, summoning up his own tempest. "You sent Loki to his doom - I will save him from it."

"And you doom yourself for it," barked the one-eyed king, and he fired Gungnir. A flash of magic erupted from the king's spear and Thor defended himself, the impact sending him skidding back a few feet. Mjolnir was singing in his hand, so violent the attack, and Thor raised his eyes to his father. Odin was implacable now, advancing with the tips of his weapon glowing in arcane magic.

Thor retreated slowly, aware that in a full-on fight of powers he was no match, but in his youth and strength he had the upper hand. He must not perish here, or be incapacitated; Loki was waiting. He had to be. Thor could not imagine that Loki had willingly betrayed Asgard again – the Liesmith had not even the heart to kill two lowly guards in the palace, but he had no qualms slaughtering the humans in Midgard.

Loki would not be abandoned to his doom, whatever Odin said.

Yet he did not want to attack his father. Digging his heels in, Thor braced himself for the next volley, sensing that Odin was again garnering his power, but Odin did not attack.

"Why do you disappoint me again?" asked Odin, his voice old and tired. "My son, all I ever wanted was to see you reign, well-loved by our people, wise and happy."

"If wisdom dictates that I abandon one whom I have loved all my life," retorted the God of Thunder, "then I can only disappoint you, Father. Happiness will never be mine until Loki is once again restored to my side, until he fights beside me and counsels me as he used to."

"He is a lost cause, and better left to his fate."

Something about Odin's words snapped Thor's patience with his father.

"You took him in!" Thor roared angrily. "You took him in, fed him, clothed him, made him call you father, and you made us brothers!" In his fury Thor unleashed one bolt from Mjolnir, just as an emphasis, and it knocked Odin back a few staggering steps. "YOU made us brothers! If you have never loved him, why did you give him a family to love and then force him from it?"

Odin looked at Thor with growing ire. "How dare you accuse me of such complicity!"

Before father and son could launch a full scale assault on each other, Frigga arrived, hair wild from running, Sif and Hogun escorting her.

"Stay this madness!" she cried. "Odin! Thor!"

It was not Odin who withdrew his weapon first, but at last the one-eyed Gallows God obeyed after a moment's hesitation. Thor had dropped his arm the instant he heard Frigga's plea, and if his gaze at her was less than forgiving it was also much less admonitory than the way Thor had looked at Odin.

Frigga breathed heavily and made her way to her husband. "Odin, open the way. To Thanos."

"Who is that?" asked Thor. "Is he holding Loki hostage?"

"Why should I try to save Loki?" Odin growled. "He stole from the vault for his own gain, and gave up the treasures willingly. I will not save him; he has brought war and conflict to this realm."

Thor almost protested again, but his words died abruptly on his lips and he gaped in shock.

Frigga slapped Odin.

"You brought him to me to raise as my child," she said calmly, but her shoulders were shaking with the effort not to lose her temper. "I have done as you requested. You may be the king, but I am the queen of Asgard, and I love this realm no less than you. Yet I prize my sons far more than you have ever done."


"For once, Odin of the Gallows, Odin of the Wolves, Odin of the Crows, you will listen rather than just hear," Frigga seethed. "I have not spoken before this because things had to develop, but Thor's path is his path, and you will not force him to raise his hand to his father because of your willful stubbornness! My son is trapped among enemies; I will not have you leave him there. I will not have Loki abandoned. Again."

Hogun, Sif and Thor glanced at each other, suddenly uncomfortable with what should have been a private exchange between the king and queen of Asgard. Instead, the three waited, holding their breaths, trying not to be noticed.

Odin gazed at his wife for a moment, seeming to read something in her face, and then his stance softened. He sighed and regarded Thor.

"If you will, then go to him," he said coldly. "But Loki will not be welcomed here again."

Thor stared at Odin. "But where then can he go? There is no place for him but here."

"He will have to find his way then," said Odin. "I charge you to bring home the two treasures: the Gauntlet, and the Tesseract. They are to be in Asgard, safe and secure, before the next moonrise. Any later than that, and we stand little chance against Thanos and his Chitauri army."

Frigga's small smile was not lost on any of those present, and when she embraced Odin around his neck the younger Asgardians let them be.

Hogun nodded at Thor and the God of Thunder went to his friend. Hogun and Sif clustered near him and the grim man asked, "What will you have us do, my friend?"

"Do you need us to go with you to..." Sif seemed unhappy about the words she was about to say, but she said them anyway, "to rescue Loki?"

Thor patted their shoulders gently. "Keep Asgard safe, my friends, and I will thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hogun, I entrust you with the lives of all I hold dear, including your own. Sif, you have in you a mind that rivals the best strategist of all the aesir, and that is tempered with womanly intuition. Do not fear; we are the best warriors and fighters. We are as gods to the lesser beings of the lower realms. Our people are brave, and they will learn how good a leader you can be."

"Thor, I-"

"Sif. I trust you. Should I not return in the time stipulated, then be ready for full battle." The prince straightened and said, "Take care of my parents."

When Thor turned back to Odin, the two shared a gaze that was both filled with resentment and forgiveness, and Odin summoned the magic that would transport Thor to Loki's side once more.


Loki was not chained, yet he stood never further than five feet from Thanos.

Loki was not gagged, yet he was silent, his green eyes scanning over the craggy landscape.

Loki was not poisoned, yet he could feel his insides writhing and twisting as Chitauri in their thousands gathered and massed, each armed to the teeth.

I overestimated myself, the slim God of Mischief thought. I hope I did not overestimate Odin and Thor.

"The Asgard warriors will fall, as well as all other beings," Thanos said quietly. He angled his massive head slightly to look at Loki out of the corner of his eyes. "You claim to not love them, but every single gesture and expression tells of your worry for them. It is pathetic."

Loki did not answer. When the Chitauri had formed ranks, the Other ascended to higher ground to address the army, and that was when Loki asked, "Why do you wish for this?"

"Because it is a fitting tribute for my love," the titan answered, his lips curving in an approximation of a gentle smile. "Deaths of minute insects mean nothing – I seek an extravagance for her, and in the deaths of the worthy that she might be honored."

"She must be someone special," remarked Loki.

"She is. She has always been, and will always be." Thanos' tender mood darkened and he jeered at Loki, "If you weren't a wretched reject and traitor, you would have been the first tribute. You should feel ashamed."

"Mostly I feel alive," Loki retorted, and almost flinched when Thanos flexed his right arm with the gauntlet. The gems were brighter now, though not ablaze with power yet, so Loki had to assume that Thanos needed to harness the energy of the gems before he unleashed Ragnarok.

The titan did not react to Loki's impertinence. Instead, he ordered, "Leave me. I wish to commune with my lady love."

Loki took the chance to steal away to an outcropping. He knew he could not escape the place, not yet; the Other held the Tesseract. Instead he watched Thanos sit on his throne and slowly lean his head on a beefy arm.

"Who is his love?" Loki wondered aloud.

Little was known about the titans of old, at least in the Asgard library. Odin might have some information on them, but Loki was not likely to ask Odin anything anytime soon. The God of Discord allowed his fingers to run over the jagged and rough surface of the stone; he needed a weapon, something he could wield as a focus for his magic, and a defense if need be.

Slowly he gathered power to his hands as he drew out the minute bits of metal from the dead stone and thin air. Those with no magic would imagine that he was crafting a staff out of nothing; Loki knew it was an effort of will that concentrated the needed elements, scattered like stars across galaxies, into what he wanted. When he was done, a staff as long as he was tall had coalesced in his hands, gleaming with a sheen of new-polished metal. Its head was a simple bladed curve, long and wicked, and Loki considered briefly before he adjusted it, so that it was a double-edged weapon.

A deafening thunderclap crashed across the gray skies outside, interrupting Loki's thoughts. The sorcerer peered out from the outcropping and was stunned by the tumult. Lightning stabbed in erratic lines from the sky, while Chitauri soldiers were smashed against the rocks that dotted the landscape.

In the middle of the violent tempest was Thor, his red cape flying as he swung Mjolnir wildly. As another Chitauri was sent sprawling into a dozen others, he bellowed, "LOKI!"


Thor was not surprised to have landed so close to Chitauri soldiers; he was surprised that he was not dead on his immediate arrival. Apparently they had been too startled at his sudden appearance to kill him, and he had not wasted the opportunity nor offered the same consideration.

Mjolnir was rejoicing with the battle, its power blazing at its zenith. As Thor wielded his hammer to shield himself from multiple blasts and at the same time attack the Chitauri, he wondered if Loki was anywhere nearby at all.

"Loki!" he shouted again, hoping that Loki was at least free to reply him. The storm crackled around him and repeatedly he swung the hammer, knowing that it was a close to nothing chance of him leaving this unscathed.

Sif will protect Asgard, as will all my friends, he told himself as a blast hit his side and he killed the soldier responsible. Guilt gnawed at Thor; he could not help shaking the thought that he had walked to his death, and abandoned his post. He forced the guilt away. Father would save the realm from destruction.

But Loki only has me.

I will not abandon him.


Loki stood and watched the scene of pure destruction unfold before his eyes. Thor enraged was beautiful, a warrior-king of legend; his face, alight with bloodlust and intent; red cape a banner of death; the lightning a dance of his prowess.

As he watched, Loki was momentarily lost in a trance of delight. Always, always had Thor been the center of every battle, and Loki had always been on the periphery, cutting down the weak, ensuring that only the worthy would meet their doom at Thor's hands. And Loki had always watched out for his supposed older brother, and every sense in Loki's body would be attuned to where Thor was. As it was now: despite the flailing limbs and complete chaos below, where Chitauri upon Chitauri tried to pile on to the wolf that had invaded its fold, Loki could tell exactly where Thor was and what he was doing.

And it seemed that Thor could do the same. Loki was astounded when Thor suddenly flew out of the horde and landed right in front of him. The burly prince was bloodied and bruised, but still upright, and he blocked a few blasts from the soldiers before grabbing Loki by the forearm.

"Are you all right?" he asked, but Loki had not answered when a particularly strong beam caught Thor right between the shoulder blades and sent him crashing forward into Loki's arms. The God of Thunder then slid to Loki's feet, as if knocked out. Mjolnir dropped from Thor's beefy hand.

The Other, on his own outcropping, snarled, "Kill him."

Loki glanced at the Other, then at Thanos who was now taking an interest in the proceedings, and smiled obsequiously. "My lord, I am not a worthy tribute to your lady love, but is Thor mighty enough?"

Thanos grinned. "I would accept that."

Loki bowed, and grabbed Thor by the throat, dragging him to his feet. Thor's head lolled slightly and his gait was clumsy. Loki angled his newly-crafted spear across Thor's neck and said, "I will bring him to you, my lord Thanos."

"Bring him to me then," the titan commanded. Thanos' dark glee was not lost on anyone.


Though winded, Thor was not completely incapacitated, and he knew that Loki knew it. He saw the smirk on Loki's face, calculative and dangerous, and for a moment Thor was concerned. Then he caught brilliant green eyes looking at him briefly.

"Leave Mjolnir," hissed Loki, "and collapse at my feet. Now."

He made his decision right there and followed Loki's instructions. When he heard Loki's words, Thor could feel his muscles tensing, and a nudge from Loki's foot reminded him to play along. Having Loki's weapon so close to his neck made Thor a little apprehensive, but he forced himself to stumble and stagger as though he had lost his bearings.

While they walked towards Thanos, Thor heard mutters and hissed curses at both himself and Loki; he wondered if his trust was not misplaced.


Thor's acquiescence surprised Loki, but the sorcerer showed no outward acknowledgment of his astonishment. Instead he marched Thor to the seat of the titan, careful that his blade did not mar the skin on Thor's neck.

When they were at the base of the flight of steps leading to Thanos, there were no Chitauri around, and Loki remarked softly, "Why did you come?"

"Because you are here," replied Thor equally quietly.

Loki snorted and pushed Thor forward, his spear now pointed to the back of his neck. "All the way up to the top," he instructed, and said no more.


Thanos was eager to kill; he could barely restrain himself from reaching forward and crushing Thor. Loki could see the glittering gems on the gauntlet, each pulsing with a strong light. The Liesmith stepped aside to the left of Thor, leaving the God of Thunder alone to face Thanos.

"Thor Odinson, you are my first Asgardian blood amongst many to be shed for Mistress Death. I dedicate your death to my lady," declared Thanos, and raised his right arm.


Once Thanos had Thor in his sights, the blond prince knew immediately what Loki intended and summoned Mjolnir to him.

Loki swung his double-edged blade in a downwards arc and cut through Thanos' arm; the edge so sharp that even the titan's bones did not slow its terrible motion. The Liesmith darted away from Thano's fury and grabbed the arm, now bleeding on the rocky ground, and ripped the gauntlet off it.

His head was almost smashed by Thanos' other fist, but Thor blocked the blow and returned it with Mjolnir. Thanos merely roared, taking not even a step back from the impact, and both gods took to their heels, Loki leading the way and Thor behind. The mad titan followed, his blood smoking as drops of it hit the ground.

"Loki, where is the Tesseract?" Thor shouted, and again held off another punch from the injured titan. "We'll need it to get home!"

Loki pointed with his spear and fired a blast of magic at the leader of the Chitauri, who was directing the soldiers to attack. "The Other has it."

Suddenly Thor had grabbed him by the waist and they were flying – Loki had never flown with Thor before other than that clash back in Midgard, and that time it was more of an extended fall – and the flight was too short, both landing at the same outcrop of rock where the Other was.

Mjolnir fired off a blast at the Other, before Thor rushed forward to engage the Chitauri leader in a fight, while Loki scrambled forward to get to the Tesseract which had been placed at the Other's feet. The artifact was still dormant and Loki quickly pushed magic into it, awakening the immense power within. Then Loki opened the portal to Asgard.

"Thor!" he shouted, and then he fired off consecutive blasts of magic when the Chitauri legions started climbing up the rock to get to the pair. The God of Fire and Ice, Loki called up illusions of himself and blasted ice and green flames at all who drew close. Thor was still battling the Other, forcing the leader towards the edge. Then Loki caught sight of the enormous titan striding closer, shoving aside the army, the burning rage in his mad eyes now replaced with chilly determination. "THOR!" he screamed, knowing that they must flee now. Thanos was getting too close, they could not possibly hope to hold him off again-

A shriek drew Loki's attention. The Other had just toppled off the outcropping and Thor was racing back, and he caught Loki about the waist again with one arm, his other hand grabbing the Tesseract, and the God of Thunder did not even slow as he and Loki crashed towards the portal.

Out of the corner of his eye Loki saw Thanos' raised arm and he twisted his body to cover Thor's back. Thanos only had time to land one single blow on Loki before the two gods were falling through space towards Asgard.


"We're safe," gasped Thor, adrenaline still rushing through his veins as they collapsed on the Bifrost.

Loki panted heavily and wet his lips. "Take... take the Infinity Gauntlet and go back to Odin. These belong in the vault."

"Come with me," urged the prince, staggering to his feet, encumbered by the unwieldy box. "Come back with me, and let Father see that you have redeemed yourself."

"Twice a traitor I have been, Thor Odin's son, and I will not be welcome in that golden hall again. Go, Thor. Return to Odin what I took from him," said Loki quietly.

Thor still seemed reluctant to part with Loki. "Stay here until I return, Loki, don't go anywhere."

"Where can I go?" The slim brunet rolled onto his back, staring at the immense sky overhead, full of glittering stars. "There is no place I know of that I can call home."

The God of Thunder could not find an appropriate response to that, and instead elected to go to the palace with both artifacts tightly secured. Loki watched him go, watched the fluttering of the red cape as it receded into the distance. Then he tried to climb to his knees, failed, and started hacking up gobs of blood as his body attempted to heal itself.

"You see everything, Heimdall," he commented.

Heimdall from his post nodded silently.

Loki smiled. "Is Thanos coming here?"

"He has no means of coming here."

"The Chitauri?"

"They have become the targets of Thanos' wrath."

Loki grinned and fell over again. "Good," he breathed heavily, feeling the wetness accumulating in his lungs. Too much damage to heal quickly, he mused, and too damaged to heal in the first place.

"You should go to the healing halls." Heimdall sounded sympathetic.

"I should," agreed Loki, "but you know that I will not." Loki coughed again, the agony pooling in his chest. "Heimdall... do you see Faerie? Could you tell me a little more about it? About its people?"

"It is perpetual winter there," said Heimdall. "The Queen is fickle and capricious, and her people are delighting in their usual pursuits."

Loki smiled. "Sounds... sounds like a pleasant... pleasant place." With some breath regained, Loki struggled to stand again, and this time he could get to his knees. "What kind, what kind of pursuits?"

"They hunt. They are very good at hunting, and at keeping things alive," said Heimdall, his face impassive and expressionless. "For hours, sometimes."

Understanding what Heimdall was saying, Loki chuckled and groaned at the pain his mirth had brought. "Glamorous and terrifying. I should've... I should've been raised there, shouldn't I?"


"You've come home," declared Volstagg and wrapped Thor in a hug. "What's this – blood? You've been in a battle already and you did not call for us to aid you?"

"I went to retrieve some things of my father's," said Thor, gently disengaging himself from Volstagg's exuberance and putting his weapon down at the gate.

Fandral was discussing something with Hogun, and the grim warrior excused himself and walked over to Thor. "Things went the way they should?"

"Yes," answered Thor. "Now I need to persuade Father."

Hogun patted Thor's shoulder and returned to Fandral, but his silent support reassured Thor. Odin was in his golden seat, while Sif had with her a sheaf of papers; Thor supposed the warrior was presenting battle plans. "Father, here is the Infinity Gauntlet, and here is the Tesseract."

"I am glad you have shown yourself worthy," said Odin. "Lady Sif, those are good plans, but we have no need of them now."

"That is a good thing, my king," said Sif with a smile, and when she looked at Thor her gladness was not feigned.

When Sif had descended the flight of steps, Thor put the items at Odin's feet and remained kneeling. "Father, let Loki come home."

"This is not his home," said the old king.

"He helped me get the treasures back," Thor stated hopefully.

Odin regarded Thor with some pity. "He stole them in the first place, and I have little reason to trust him. If he comes here, he will be a prisoner; the people of Asgard will not rest easy otherwise."

"Yet he has redeemed himself-"

"-for a theft, Thor, but what of the lives he has taken?" Odin stood. "He risked all of the realms for his own selfish desires, Thor."

"Loki only wishes-" Suddenly Thor realized what Loki had done, and what he was likely to do. "I have to go."

He turned and ran from the hall, calling for Mjolnir, hoping that he was not too late.


Loki had made his slow and painful way to the edge. He could not find his feet; his legs shook when he tried to stand. He peered down and had to swallow against the fear. The galaxies swirled below, and the realms beckoned; the God of Lies could feel his heart thundering in his ears.

It's so beautiful, he thought.

Suddenly Thor landed on the Bifrost bridge. "Loki," he called out, afraid to startle the Jotunn.

Loki looked back over his shoulder. "You weren't supposed to come back here yet," said the dark-haired sorcerer in a resigned tone. "Don't you ever follow the script?"

"Loki, don't move," ordered Thor, inching slowly forwards. "Please, I beg of you, stay still."

"And stay here?" Loki rolled up on one elbow to regard Thor. "I don't belong here. I don't belong to Jotunheim; I don't belong to Faerie. Why should I stay still then?"


"I went to Thanos because he knows who my birth mother is," Loki explained tiredly. Then he smiled, and the smile became more pained as he went on. "My mother is of the faerie folk. So here is Loki, Thor son of Odin. Half-Jotunn, half-faerie. A cursed being. I am Loki, the Liesmith, the Trickster, the God of Fire and Ice, the God of Discord and Destruction, and the unwanted bastard son of a king and a queen."

Thor could feel his own heart twisting in agony for Loki. "You are not unwanted," he said, stepping closer and stopping when he saw that Loki was levering himself forward a little more.

"Who wants me then?" demanded the slim god. "Who wants me? Odin is never going to forgive me, nor are the people of Asgard. Frigga cannot decide if she still loves me as a child or to follow her husband's decision, and I will not have her choose someone not of her flesh over the lord of her life. Jotunheim itself stands but its inhabitants will tear me apart should I go there; the faerie folk will never accept a non-faerie into its folds. Midgard... If the Midgard defenders, the Avengers as Stark called you, even knows I am there, war will break out again. Who wants me, Thor? There is no place that I know that wants me there."

"I want you." The statement cut into Loki's plaintive questions. Thor's admission was frank and sincere, and almost frightened. "I want you."

Loki's smile shook and faded. "I cannot stay here with you, Thor. This is not my place."

Before Thor could say anything further, Loki pushed himself and he fell over the edge of the bridge. Thor rushed forwards and reached down, grasping Loki's wrist just in time.

"No," he gasped. "Not again. Loki, not again! I cannot watch you fall again!"

"Let go," whispered Loki. "Be a good king."

A solid thump behind Thor startled the blond prince, and when he peered over his shoulder he saw Odin striding towards them.

Thor was relieved. "Father, you've come."

"To break the spell that binds his life to yours," said Odin, dashing all hope for his son. The Gallows-God looked down at Loki, hanging from Thor's hand. "Loki, all you need to do is to repent."

Loki grinned humorlessly at Odin. "And do you repent of your lies, Odin All-Father?"

The one-eyed king frowned and the tip of Gungnir glowed. Thor abruptly realized what Odin was about to do and he made a decision.

"Tell Mother I'm sorry," said Thor, and pushed himself off Bifrost, still holding on to Loki as they fell.



Loki groaned and let his head roll back. Thor wasn't faring much better as he sat up and grunted, flexing his arms and shoulders.

"That was not as bad as the first time," said Loki after a moment. "Of course, I was not quite as badly injured as I was this time."

"You have recovered?" asked Thor, surprised, running his hands over the ribs where he knew Thanos had landed one punch.

Loki squirmed and sat up, shoving away Thor's hands. "Most of it," he admitted. "It was just a little worse than the Hulk's attack on me."

"That's good," said Thor. Then he blustered, "I meant, it's good that you have recovered, not that you were-"

"-flung around like a child's plaything and smashed repeatedly into the floor? I understand." Loki's smile was mischievous, almost innocently so, and Thor felt a pang in his heart. Loki explained, "We must have been falling for some time; we just don't experience it properly." He looked around himself, noting the lack of buildings and the clean air and clear evening sky above him. "I don't recognize this realm."

"It doesn't matter where we are," said Thor, reaching over to brush dirt smears from Loki's cheek

Thor's feelings must have been transparent on his face; Loki flushed and looked away. His elegant fingers started plucking randomly at the grass.

Finally, the dark-haired Liesmith said, "Why did you come with me? Asgard needs you."

"I need you more than Asgard needs me," said Thor, gently moving closer, heartened when Loki did not move away. "And what about you, Loki? Why did you return the gauntlet to me? You could have used it for anything you wanted."

"It would have been pointless," said Loki dully. His hands stopped pulling at the blades of grass. "What I wanted I would never have been able to get."

"What did you want?" asked Thor.

"What do you want?" retorted Loki.

Thor smiled and whispered, "I want you."

Loki blushed again but he did not shy away. His shoulders shook slightly and he swallowed in trepidation. "Thor?"


"Do you really want me?"


Loki pressed his lips together and then carefully edged forward, touching his mouth to Thor. He murmured, "Do you love me?"

"I love you," replied Thor, thrilled by how Loki was sidling closer and how the younger male had placed his nervous hands on Thor's knees. The God of Thunder kept his hands to himself, however, sternly reminding himself not to rush this.

Loki's breath was sweet, tinted faintly by blood, but his mouth was sweeter as he kissed Thor of his own volition for the first time, slick tongue probing Thor's mouth with nervous desire. The older male moaned and cautiously put his hands on Loki's hips, sliding up to hold his back, and then angling his mouth to allow further exploration by the inexperienced Liesmith. Their breaths mingled and then Loki tangled his hands into silky golden hair, clutching and whimpering as he claimed Thor's kisses, and when he pulled away both of them were panting and their eyes slightly glazed over.

Loki licked his lips slowly, as if tasting what Thor left on his skin, and Thor held his breath to control himself.

The younger brunet's smile returned. "I never hated you," he confessed quietly. "Even when... even when we were fighting, I hoped that you could see how much I wanted to prove my worth. To you and to Odin."

"You have never been unworthy," Thor replied hoarsely.

"I wasn't myself, was I?" asked Loki, threading his fingers through Thor's hair, unaware of the effect on the older god. "Were you angry with me?"

Thor made himself focus on the conversation. "Quite a bit, but I knew what I needed to do was to bring you home."

"I don't have a home."

"You do," said Thor, wrapping his large arms around Loki and squeezing slightly. "Your home is with me."

Loki scoffed and tried to wiggle out of Thor's hold, only to discover that though he had no way to do so. "Thor, release me," he ordered with as much hauteur as he could summon in his awkward position.

"Kiss me again and then I'll let you go," Thor said teasingly.

Green eyes narrowed, as if Loki was not sure if Thor was joking, and then thin lips pushed at Thor's again, this time with teeth, and Thor decided then and there that he was going to convince Loki thoroughly not to want to escape even when Thor released his embrace.

Thor succeeded.


Tony Stark was in Japan while his tower was being repaired. He was certain that the people Pepper picked – he grinned at his own wit – would very likely mess up his very specific schematics, and thus was making plans on how to correct and improve upon the design for his penthouse. A wider view with impact-resistant glass would be necessary. New York's skyline was lovely, but he did not fancy having to order Dum-E to pick up glass shards again. The robot kept picking up the carpet instead of what it had been ordered to do.

Still, there was something to be said for the lovely view here in Sado. The ocean was truly peaceful today, and Tony sipped his vodka happily as he watched the sun set.

[Sir, there appear to be two persons on your lawn,] Jarvis reported.

"Don't we have security around the house?" asked Tony.

[Sir, they did not come towards the house, sir,] said Jarvis with a slightly reproachful tone. [They do not seem to be aware of the house, in fact.]

Tony rolled his eyes. He must have been nuts to program Jarvis with a personality. Genius, but nuts. The estate was quite large, and there was no neighbor around that could bother Tony (whether he bothered others was, of course, not his consideration). "Well, I'll take a look. Bring up the scene."

He took one glance, and then covered his eyes. "That's enough. I'm scarred for life, thank you. Uh, when they're done, let me know." Then he paused. "Record what's happening, just for, uh, records."

[Of course sir. Should I put in an encryption for the video file?]

"Yes, please. Triple the encryption, in fact, thank you." Tony put down his drink and wondered if he ought to have another one. Or maybe five.

He sighed and rolled his eyes. "Aren't they supposed to be brothers?"


Loki whined when Thor shifted slightly. "You're acting as my pillow. Pillows don't move," scolded Loki.

"The grass is ticklish, and there are insects," said Thor, feeling a little guilty, but relaxed ecstasy and complete satiation were the more dominant emotions.

"Your cape isn't big enough," said Loki, snuggling closer.

"We should look for shelter, Loki," said Thor. "The moon has risen for some time."

Loki merely snorted and refused to budge. His long limbs were draped over Thor's, and the older male had a delicious view of Loki's lithe muscles. The cape was not big enough, covering only the most essential parts, and thus when he suddenly saw Tony Stark descending in his suit Thor completely overreacted, throwing Mjolnir overarm and smashing the man into a tree beyond.

Finally Loki sat up, his bare torso pale and beautiful in the moonlight, and Thor wanted to ravish him once again, despite having just introduced Loki to the delights of carnal relations a few hours ago. The God of Mischief pulled Thor's cape out from under Thor and wrapped it about himself, leaving Thor to fumble for his pants, and stood up to greet Tony Stark who was growling with annoyance.

"I came to offer my guest room and I get a hammer to the chest? Bros before... well, bros, I guess, but Thor, that is a very bad habit you have to break," Stark grumbled. He snorted. "You two made up then, I see."

"You said you came to offer a guest room," said Loki smoothly. Despite being rumpled, entirely naked and covered only by a red cape, he looked as if he was a prince giving a peasant the honor of speaking.

Stark smirked. "It's nearby. You might wish to put on some clothes before you get there, though I think they'll be coming off again – right, Thor?"

"We are on Midgard?"

"Yes, big blond thunder guy, you're on Earth, yes. Look, if you two are all lovey-dovey, I'm not gonna tell on you to Fury, but he does keep some tabs on me so you might wanna learn how to lie low." Stark waited. "What?"

Thor narrowed his eyes. "Turn around."

"Oh, fer- Fine. Now you get all shy and retiring." Stark turned around and said, "I don't know what you do on Asgard, but generally speaking, people on Earth don't bone their evil brothers."

A tap on Stark's shoulder indicated that Loki had put on some of his clothes; the capes remained thrown haphazardly over Thor's arm.

Thor took Loki's hand and smiled tenderly. Then he frowned. "Bone?"

"Uh, I keep forgetting. You don't speak American. It means to fornicate with your sibling whom you captured just a fortnight ago for attempting to take over the world."

Thor tugged Loki closer and Loki allowed the show of dominance. The God of Thunder said, "We're not brothers."

"Then what are we?" asked Loki, tilting his head to look Thor in the eye. A small smile played on the edges of his mouth.

"We're family," said Thor, and bent to kiss Loki again.

Stark rolled his eyes once more. He had better put in soundproofing as soon as he could. At least the guest room used futons instead of breakable beds.