A/N: Its over! c: Honestly, I'm quite relieved! My biggest problem with longer stories like this one has always been that I neglect to finish them, but I got there! c; Thank you EVERYONE to your kind words, of both encouragement and support, to those of you who messaged me whilst I was ill (I'm almost better, now!), and those of you who pleaded with me - be it for more smut or a happy ending (I'm sorry!), I truly hope I did not dissapoint, and I truly hope you enjoyed this story. If you did, if it kept your attention, and occasionally made you smile, then my job here is done. c: Please let me know your thoughts on this final installment! Thank you, again! (and if you'd like to follow me; here is my tumblr!: .com 3 )
"What was he trying to do?"
"You have weapons, Stark. It was plain stupid of you to let him stay under your roof when you had enough to blow up New York to fuckin' Fiji in your back pocket!"
Fury isn't pleased, but Thor hadn't expected him to be. He flickers before them in a 'hologram' (or so Tony had explained, in… excruciating detail), and he is the very picture of anger. A frown twists his brow, offsetting the strap to his eyepatch, and the muscle in his jaw flexes as he grinds his teeth together. Thor thinks he might be shaking with his rage, or perhaps its simply the projection's odd light…
"He wanted the fucking bombs. He doesn't have his goddamn powers anymore - at least you did one thing right." and he glances at Thor, "...no magic meant no control. He used the magic last time to summon his little worm hole, the closest thing he had to that, now, were explosives."
"Take him home." He says, then, and Thor can only assume that is directed at him, "Take Loki home and lock him up - hell, kill him. Fuck it if it matters to me. He's a menace, a nuisance. If he can't have your world, he's going to take ours, and he doesn't belong here."
Thor glances back, and beside Bruce's torn labcoat, his brother lies. Immobile, wrists tied securely together by little more than rope, and a gag forced between his lips - a mocking substitute from the very last time Thor had taken him back… his stomach twists at the sight, debased like an animal - that isn't what his younger brother is.
Not an animal, not a monster.
He blinks up at Thor - pleading - with shining green eyes. It is this sight that cements his resolve.
"I will take him home." He says, "Alone. He will be put to death. By my hand." and he sets his jaw, he squares his shoulders, and he feels Bruce shuffle beside him.
"He wont stay here?" He asks, timidly, both arms crossed over his chest, the fresh lab coat pulled tight over his form - there are no clothes left for him, it would seem. The Doctor glances back to Loki's huddled form, and Thor sees nothing but resentment in his gaze - he had been shot, after all.
"No. I will take him back to Asgard to-"
"I'm gonna send Natasha to escort you back." Fury interrupts.
"That wont be necessary." Thor sends back.
"Yeah, send Nat and neither of them will make it home." Tony adds, with a dry chuckle.
Thor says nothing, he looks back to Loki - the moment that gun had fallen from his fingertips, Thor had been on him, pinning his arms to his sides and snatching the rope from Tony - no more damage need be done. The less he does, the better…
For all of them.
They don't understand...
...yet here they stand, now. Three of them, before Fury's flickering, neon-green image, with his brother huddled by one of the upturned benches, his eyes are closed now, as if in defeat.
Thor looks up, Bruce is surveying the damage done to the room - the damage he had done…
"The other guy hadn't come out for six months, and still - he's capable of doing all this."
"Hey, Doc, it could've been much worse-"
"It could have been much better, too."
A long silence follows his words, they sink in like razors, but only Tony seems to understand them. Bruce gives Thor one last look (as if in farewell), before he turns his back, he disappears around the corner, out of sight. Tony exhales a sigh. But when he faces Thor, his expression is hard once again.
"Right. Time to hit the road. Off you go. Need a lift anywhere or-"
"We will be all right." Thor tells him, with a curt nod. He strides forth, and reaches down to help Loki to his feet. He steadies him, carefully, and then - he extends an arm, tugging at Mjolnir, feeling it's warm heat brushing against his consciousness, he gives a tug, and closes his eyes as the cool metal kisses his palm.
At the very least, he knows this wont be the last of Tony Stark that he sees.
The bombs felt like his magic. He could almost feel them on the next level of the building. Thrumming with their synthetic heartbeats, calling his name in low hums that only he could hear. They yearned to be used, and he could sense them. He could feel how long they had been sitting there for, biding their time, waiting for their chance to shine. They were like the Chitauri - deadly, and dormant.
Waiting for someone to command them.
Missing his magic was like missing a limb. Like he couldn't see properly, or like he wasn't hearing something he ought to. Like he was missing an important detail, or a name that hung upon the tip of his tongue, that he could never quite find…
He's weak like this. Weakness is the single equivalent of mortality. It makes him sick.
But even as a mortal, surely he could prove that he could still posses power - who better to help him display power than Tony Stark himself? He keeps his eyes closed as they travel.
Fury has sent Clint thirty minutes behind them. To give them time for a goodbye.
His apartment is exactly as he had left it. He thinks - it feels as if it were an age ago. When he was someone else. He almost doesn't remember… maps still litter the floor, and books remain stacked upon one another in neat piles, and he sits upon the couch - the very same one Thor had first come to him in, and a cool lethargy settles over him. He knows this is it, it has to be… why would Thor pick here to say his goodbye?
Could they not simply return to Asgard?
He looks up at his brother for answers, but indeed, he doesn't meet his gaze. He's looking elsewhere, everywhere but at Loki, swallowing again and again, adams apple bobbing each time. He has his back to him, and Loki realizes then that… this truly is it.
"Aren't we going home?" He asks, he speaks quietly, but it is not unlike a silent scream in this room.
"I am." Thor faces him, at last. Anguish settles behind his blue eyes. "You are not."
Loki frowns, puzzled. Surely Thor can't intend for him to stay here? To live among the humans again and be a good boy…
"If you return with me, you will be killed." He says, evenly, "Clint is under the impression I have taken you back to that patio in the park, and I will leave from there, but I will leave alone. He will not know… and you must remain here."
But he cuts himself off. Thor intends to leave him here? A slow, twisted smile would touch over his lips if he would dare it. He wants to laugh at the foolishness of this, truly!
"It is my fault that this happened. My selfishness, my carelessness. I should be the one to suffer this time, not you, brother."
He dips down onto one knee upon the rough carpet before Loki, they're eye-to-eye.
"I cannot come back for you again." He whispers, and his eyes shine, heartbreak, pain, refusal - its all there, plain as day. Shining like the skies and the ocean right before him, and… Loki is lost for words.
"You can never come home."
The words slice like a knife, and Loki looks away, his lips part around words he can't find in himself to voice. A lump wedges itself into his throat, and his mouth feels dry - his eyes are warm. His chest hurts.
He can never come home...
He would lie through his teeth and swear on everything he held dear that Asgard wasn't his home, but if he did envision one…
No, it isn't Asgard he would envision.
He looks up, eyes still wide, and fixes his gaze upon his brother. He reaches out for him, and brushes a palm over the hollow of his cheek, the pad of his thumb drags over stubble - and he gazes into those endless blue eyes…
In them, its like he sees Asgard there - the twirling, shining, endless blue of all the stars, of those far off worlds he'll never again get to visit, those places that had almost been his home, all in a kaleidoscope of colour before him, he looks on longingly...
For the last time.
None of it seems to matter anymore. The Chitauri, Stark's bombs, ruling Asgard - it all seems to fall to the backburner, overshadowed by his brother's hulking form (the single being who had ever truly mattered), forgotten. Meaningless… meaningless…
He commits the way that stubble scrapes against his skin to memory, he closes his eyes and tells himself he'll never forget, Thor surges towards him, and presses their lips together in a fluid - but painfully gentle movement, it has Loki pressed back into the couch. Unthinkingly, his arms wind around Thor's shoulders, he's pulled flush, pressed close, warmth seeping into him from all sides and he draws in a shuddering breath - the scent of rain, of gunpowder - of air… of him. A soft whimper leaves him, Thor squeezes him closer, tighter, as if he wishes to meld their chests together - so that they might never part again. Thor breaks the kiss, and Loki simply envelopes him tighter in their embrace.
"Let me go." He whispers, voice muffled in Thor's shoulder. "You must let me go."
He grips him tighter, his knees press into Thor's sides, a sob leaves him, caught in the thick fabric of the blood red cloak, and then… Thor draws back, he kisses him again, chaste, brief - too brief.
This last time.
He's reaching out, then. Brushing his thumb to press upon the center of Loki's brow - and he's closing his eyes, even if the gesture is unfamiliar, he focuses on his touch - alone…
His touch. His home.
The words leave him as the edges of his memory begin to fray, as the cotton threads of his past (real) life fade back, as the Stark Tower crumbles to white nothingness, as bullets fired sound like a warm breeze, and hot water flung from a kettle vanishes into ghostly dust, he wont forget, he wont… it'll never fade away, none of it will… and he isn't lying this time.
"I love you."
...but he never does remember.
Loki still dreams. Sometimes of things that feel familiar. Of things that he thinks might be memories... one in particular - although it feels like an age ago now. Yet two little boys play upon a hilltop beneath a swaying willow. One stands upon a moulded mound of dirt, and declares himself king, whilst the one with the jet black hair, only giggles and claps his hands together with glee.
"I will be King of Asgard! Off to save all the princesses in the land!" the blonde boy cries.
"What about me?" The smaller one asks, shuffling forwards on his knees. "Would you ever save me? I'm not a princess!"
The blonde boy clambers off his dirt-made throne, and presses a kiss to his brother's brow.
"You don't need to be." he tells him, "You'll never need saving!"
"I wont?" The littler boy blinks owlishly up at him. "Why not?"
"Because I'll always be with you."