I'm not gonna lie, this is mostly a fluff chapter. The more explicit things are coming yet, cool yer jets peoples ;) Gotta make sure this stuff makes some kind of sense before I jump into it.
And also, thank you so much for the reviews :D I'm still very surprised my first Avengers fic is doing so well XD To answer some of those reviews I'll say this: Steve's coping with Loki will come up soon, I'm sure it'll be hilarious and yes there is so much angst going on XD Sometimes a writer just wants to write crybaby things for a while. I'm allowed! I do what I want! (I wonder how many authors put that in their fics? I should look)
Steve sat across from Thor and Loki, the brothers situated on his couch oddly close as he put himself in one of his dining room chairs. He didn't know why he had several pieces of furniture, he hardly used them all but whatever, it came in handy when this kind of thing happened. He'd gotten the basic situation from Thor, Loki keeping mostly quiet and not adding anything to the conversation whatsoever. Which was also odd since what Steve remembered of Loki had added effects of drama queen and other such things, it was a little disheartening. Then again, Steve couldn't help but feel empathetic every time he saw a timid person with dark bruises on their skin. The fact that Loki was not supposed to be timid didn't help.
"So basically you need to hide him on earth," He summed it up in the simple sentence, watching the way Thor nodded insistently. "And you think with me is the best choice?"
"Steve, you are the most reliable man I know who could handle Loki." Thor explained, glancing slightly at his brother who seemed a little preoccupied with the gigantic robes wrapped around him. "Please-"
"No need for pleas, Thor." Steve lifted a hand to help interrupt the thunder god, a smile on his lips, "Of course I'll help look after Loki."
Thor smiled, a weight seeming to lift off his shoulders, "That is wonderful, thank you Steve."
"Don't worry about it." Steve stood up and looked around the apartment, "I suppose you guys are probably hungry-"
"Yes!" Loki piped in quickly, his green eyes bright at the mention of food though he still felt a little foolish for the sudden outburst and shrunk back down. "I uh... I would really appreciate that."
Thor nodded, "Yes," he got up as well and headed toward Steve's kitchen. He'd spent some time in a Midgard kitchen before; he'd served food to his friends so it couldn't be so difficult to do again. Steve followed him and they discovered the first problem; the kitchen was much too small for both blondes to manoeuvre effectively.
After several moments of awkward turning and Steve's face lighting up in red he leaned back against the fridge, "You know what, you guys are my guests, please let me do it."
Thor considered it and nodded, "That sounds more efficient." He went back to the couch where Loki struggled not to snicker at the fumbling around in the small kitchen. "Loki," he knelt down in front of him, taking the paler god's hand in his and giving it a light squeeze. He looked up into solemn green and wondered again what had all happened, and again he decided he really didn't want to know. "Why don't you go get cleaned up?"
Loki nodded but soon moved to fidget, "I don't..." he shook his head and started attempting to stand, still hating the shaking in his legs as he nearly fell onto Thor in the process.
"Right," Thor decidedly lifted Loki into his arms and started toward the bathroom again, "Steve, we shall return."
"Alrighty." Steve called in reply, not sure he wanted to know exactly what was about to go on in his bathroom or if they'd need his assistance. He had managed to figure it out pretty easily so they shouldn't have much of an issue, right?
Luckily Thor had used one of these as well during his banishment so he wasn't terribly concerned about how it worked. He set Loki down on the edge of the tub and this time didn't bother to ask if his brother needed help, he just assumed yes until otherwise told. Loki watched as Thor absently removed the robes from him again, brilliant blue eyes never lingering on any wound or marking, just focused on the task, just wanting to help.
'You... why?' Loki thought puzzled, his brow furrowing in an increased move to understand how Thor's mind worked. 'I basically disowned you; I tried to kill you on several occasions, enslaved and killed your friends and all but spat in your face... Why are you helping me? Because I begged you? Because of how pathetic I've become?' His upper lip twitched in disgust and he looked away, not quite aware of quiver of his jaw or glistening look in his eyes.
"Loki, it is alright." Thor tried to comfort him again though his hand was promptly smacked aside.
"Is it?" Loki hissed, "Look at me, Thor." He firmly placed his hand on his chest to assert what he meant. "Look at me!" he shouted it the second time with angry tears streaming down his cheeks again. "I am rotten! I am weak; I can hardly stand on my own let alone walk. I could not even undress myself, twice now. I am like a newborn, flailing and screaming until someone helps me because I am not capable of it!" He flinched after he sniffled and rolled his head back in frustration, "I even reek like death! How did you ever manage to sleep next to me! ?"
Thor waited until Loki was finished before trying to interject in the conversation; he had, after all, grown up with Loki for many years. He knew a thing or two about the other god's temperament. "I do not judge you, Loki. You have been through a lot of pain and hardship and you have paid for the crimes you have committed. I see you struggling and I know it is because you have not been taken care of properly, you should have been fed, bathed, and given a place to rest. I do not know what has been done to you or what kind of condition you have been in for the last two years, and that is my fault. I should have gone to see you, I should have but I did not. And I am sorry, Loki."
Loki stared at him in disbelief, "You gigantic idiot..." he muttered as Thor lifted the robes the rest of the way off of him and discarded them to the side of the room. "You have nothing to be sorry for. I would not have visited me either."
Thor sighed sadly and moved to start the hot water and fill the tub, "You would have, I think."
"Oh?" Loki lifted his head a little and stared curiously at Thor's smirk. "Why would you say that?"
"Because you cannot help but gloat about your victory." Thor turned his smile toward his younger brother who promptly attempted to hold back a snicker.
"Okay, maybe one visit." Loki rephrased it with a smile, something Thor was very glad to see.
"Beautiful," the thunder god mused softly, earning a look of shock from Loki.
"Wh-what?" he stammered and tried to frown away the blush that darkened his pale cheeks.
"Your smile, it was beautiful." Thor own smile widened and he looked down at the water, testing its temperature carefully. "Okay, get in."
Loki sat staring at his older brother with confused turmoil, still stuck on his words and not the task expected of him. He glanced down at his ruined form, the dirt, grime, dried blood and other things staining him, how could Thor see any beauty in this? "You are a remarkable man... or an idiot." Loki shook his head and started to shift his body to transfer himself into the tub. His hand rested on the solid, wet porcelain, holding up his pathetic weight shakily just long enough for him to lift a leg and have absolutely no balance otherwise. Loki's arm slipped and he let out an immediate cry from shock and fear, squeezing his eyes shut and expecting the harsh impact.
Of course it never came, at least not anything painful. Loki felt a strong arm around him and knew before he opened his eyes that Thor had caught him. He swallowed past the lump in his throat and looked up at the concerned expression still consuming his brother's face, "Nice catch." He said decidedly, not sure what else he could have said.
Thor nodded and helped him the rest of the way into the tub, "You know... You never used to cry out like that when you fell. I recall one time in particular where your chair had been sabotaged and as you sat down it snapped and you fell to the floor, utterly silent and graceful the entire way down."
Loki frowned and winced at first when the heat of the water touched him though he slowly got used to it. "Things change, Thor."
"Yes," Thor chuckled though he tried so very hard not to, "It was still quite funny though." He couldn't help but laugh in remembrance of the way his brother had pretty much fallen to the floor like a wooden board.
Loki wanted to continue frowning at his brother for that memory but he couldn't keep a straight face that long, his own body shook with the suppressed laughter until he finally let it out. "I remember no one laughed until I had stood up again and brushed myself off, I believe my helmet was a little skewed as well."
Thor nodded quickly, "Yes, and my favourite part was when you stole the chair from the person next to you, dumping them onto the floor still without uttering a single thing."
"I recall being very angry." Loki nodded, "Though in hindsight it must have been an entertaining dinner for everyone."
Thor agreed and glanced around for a cloth. He could already see several layers of dirt and grime rinsed off Loki's body but he knew that some of them were too deeply embedded in his skin that it'd take some scrubbing to get him fully clean. In fact Thor figured they might have to drain the tub and fill it a second time, though he really didn't want to have to say that to Loki. He found a cloth after a moment of searching and dunked in the water in a free space, considering Loki was still fairly tall and in a lot of pain he was spread out as comfortably as he could be. This meant that the easiest free space to access was the one between Loki's legs, granted Thor made sure to keep the first touches completely neutral, figuring Loki may end up wanting to clean that part of himself on his own.
Loki flinched when the cloth touched him and reached over to grab it, "I can do this much." He said softly though Thor shook his head.
"No, then you will try to get out on your own without letting me know and you will fall." He argued and continued to wash his brother, "Please, at least let me do this."
Loki curled his bottom lip in but nodded and tried to relax, closing his eyes and letting himself be bathed. It wasn't so awkward after a few moments, just painful. Thor grazed the space over Loki's leg where they'd cut the skin free and earned a sharp and startled hiss from the smaller demigod. "If you so insist on doing it for me then at least be careful." He snapped, a defence mechanism he was quick to jump to.
"I am sorry." Thor spoke softly, still focused on the task, "You are very injured, brother. It will hurt when I touch you, I cannot help it."
Loki sighed and closed his eyes again, "I am aware... I just..." He wasn't sure what he was trying to say. Thor was well aware of the fact that it hurt, he'd just said it. So then why did Loki feel the need to say it again? To admit that he was in pain? That he wanted Thor to bathe him; he didn't want to be alone? What the hell was he trying to say? "Never mind."
Thor only nodded and Loki wondered if he knew, then again it was Thor, probably not. He closed his eyes tightly when his brother's hands reached his inner thigh and he found himself holding his breath. It was normally not that big of a deal in Asgard to see one another naked but being bathed? Sure, he'd been bathed before; he had been royalty once after all. But certainly not by another royal individual, especially his older brother. It was strange, very, very strange and he didn't want to think about it. However despite how much he distracted his mind he was still dragged back to reality when Thor's hand wrapped in the cloth nudged past and around his genitals.
'Think of anything else, Loki.' He thought to himself determinedly, 'That is not your brother washing you. And even if it was he's doing it in a very pitying kind of way, he feels bad about not visiting you in prison so he's trying to make up for i-IT! WHAT THE HELL!' Loki looked down as Thor, still with his hand wrapped in the washing cloth, gripped the soft length of him and slid the cloth up and down his shaft carefully. "Thor." Loki said sternly, ignoring the flashes of heat rising in his face. "What are you doing?"
"You are entirely dirty and as much as you would like to pretend it does not happen this can become fairly filthy as well." Thor explained evenly, though despite his matter-of-fact tone he still didn't look Loki in the eye as he did it.
The god of mischief cleared his throat and turned away, it was a stupid thing anyway. Though still, in all that time strung up and imprisoned, he hardly ever had the time to touch the very thing Thor was stroking. Loki was pretty certain that if he weren't so tired and hungry and hurting his body would have made this bath a lot more awkward than it already was. Thankfully, in his opinion, nothing stirred and the growing heat in his belly never managed to become anything by the time Thor was done cleaning him. "We never speak of this." Loki insisted which only rumbled a laugh in Thor's throat.
"Whatever you say, brother." The thunder god chuckled and moved up Loki's torso, gently scrubbing off the dirt and finding that his brother was lacking any kind of healthy colour whatsoever. It was disheartening but he continued to clean as if it didn't bother him, glancing up at the closed eyed face of his brother. He smiled and grabbed a bar of soap, starting to lather Loki up a bit to help with removing the dirt.
The rest of the bath was comfortable, mostly. Loki did his best not to wince or complain, in fact he was quiet enjoying the heat of the water but overall he just really, really wanted to eat and drink some water. It was what he looked forward to as Thor gently lifted him from the bathwater and turned on the shower head after some fumbling around. Loki jumped when it started spraying from above him but calmed down soon after. "Midgardians come up with the strangest things." He mused light heartedly and closed his eyes, enjoying the way the water dripped off him. Soothing like standing in the rain but also comfortable and warm like a bath.
Thor helped rinse him the rest of the way and turned the water off, hoping mentally that Loki would be able to stand for those few moments on his own. Of course it wasn't as bad as all that, Loki had walked down the halls of Odin's house fairly well. Then again Thor couldn't deny that Loki using any magic in his state wasn't good for him, and he'd asked Loki to take them through one of the passageways between the realms. He could have smacked himself in the face for that, no wonder Loki had been so drained since they'd gotten to Steve's! He looked apologetically at his brother who was in the middle of pouting at the faucet for stopping the warm rainfall.
"Come; let us get you dried off and to the dinner table." Thor smiled at the brightened look on Loki's face at the re-mentioning of food.
Wrapped again in the robes he'd arrived in, Loki dug into the meal set out for him like a rabid animal that hadn't seen food in weeks, something Thor believed to be the case for Loki. He fidgeted a little and glanced at Steve who was politely not mentioning table manners of any kind. "I will have to go back to Asgard and speak with my father on this matter, still. I have gotten Loki to a safe place but the Allfather will still discover his location at some point."
Steve nodded, "I hope you can settle things peacefully."
Loki slowed down and swallowed what was in his mouth, looking up at Thor and the thunder god could have sworn Loki was about to say something along the lines of 'he kicked my puppy' if the expression he wore was any indication. "You are going back?"
"Not for very long, now that you've shown me how to get through I'll be able to pass between the realms easily enough." Thor promised him with a gentle touch to his shoulder.
Loki smiled briefly at the hand though it vanished just as quickly as it'd arrived. "You will come back for me?" He asked sincerely, for once not hiding behind that damned ego.
"Of course, Loki. I swear it." Thor bowed his head respectfully, "So then, Steve, you will look after him?"
"I promised, didn't I?" Steve smiled and gave a half-hearted salute, knowing Thor wouldn't really get it.
"Very good. I shall see you later, brother." He leaned over and kissed Loki's cheek, "Be good."
Loki scoffed, as if those were his brother's parting words. "I hope your trip ends with you landing on your face." He snapped back though his hand still came up to touch the spot Thor had kissed him, "Your big, stupid face."
Steve chuckled and shook his head, "I was an only child but I imagine growing up with a brother is something like having a best friend for life."
"You would be entirely wrong." Loki grumbled as he went back to the food, pretending the entire time that he didn't miss Thor every other second that passed. Yet as much as he pretended it was for nothing because Steve could see right through it. However the super soldier decided not to mention it for fear of becoming public enemy number one.