Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers, any Marvel related material, or the cover picture. This story is not for profit.

Wow guys, I'm absolutely thrilled at the response to my first fanfic "Dearest Brother"! Special shout out to sweetdesserts, PR922, MooseDeEvita, BlissfulDelirium, MirrorFlower and DarkWind, Utena-Puchiko-nyu, mistresofmordor, Yaoi-lover413, badwolf97, MichiePoo, andthendeathsaid, Daddyissues, and AzariyaBelmont! Thank you so much for reviewing!

Quick note: This chapter is based on the premise that Thor and Loki already had a pseudo/closer-than-brothers relationship before the movies so they would consider any affection toward each other normal.

Chapter 1: At Long Last

Thor nodded to the rest of the Avengers who gathered around them in a semi-circle before twisting the container of the Tessaract, drawing on the Cube's energy to transport them back to Asgard. He gripped Loki's arm tightly with his free hand as their bodies were ripped from Earth, traveling through millions of miles of space to the Land Eternal within seconds.

Upon their arrival near the Bifrost site where reconstruction was well underway, Sif immediately ran forth to embrace Thor, who returned the gesture with a kiss on the forehead. "It is good to have you return, my Prince. Even Fandral had begun to worry of an untimely demise."

Smiling triumphantly at the Warriors Three, the God of Thunder scoffed, "My demise? Fandral, how unlike you to doubt in my powers. And to prove your troubling assumptions wrong, I have returned successfully and with yet another treasure for the Weapon's Vault: the Tessaract." That said, he directed his attention back to Loki.

Loki the younger brother filled with envy, the lie smith now silenced with a gag, the Jotun traitor with his hands bound. Thor shook his head to clear his thoughts. Now was the not the time to dwell on the past, but the time to make an effort to understand and combat the prejudices so deeply ingrained since childhood. Determined to right the wrongs that had been dealt on his brother, Thor silently guided the younger toward the royal palace, leading with Sif and the Warriors Three flanking them on all sides.

"Father," declared Thor, kneeling before Odin. "I present to you, the Tessaract. With this, we may yet build an even finer Bifrost than that of before. It may also be wise to enlist the favors of my recent allies made on Midgard."

The Allfather, refreshed from the Odinsleep, nodded gravely, "And that we shall, my son. But first, we must deal punishment unto those who deserve it. Loki…Laufeyson, step forth."

Even though the origin of the younger prince's birth was no longer a secret, gasps still rang out as onlookers recalled the terrible war with Jotunheim and the destruction the Frost Giants had brought on their armies. The God of Mischief, aware of all the court gathered around them, cast murderous eyes at the King as he stood defiantly with shoulders pushed back in front of the throne.

Odin addressed Loki coldly, "You have plotted against the kingdom that has sheltered you since your infancy, you have betrayed the ones who love you, and you have waged war unnecessarily against a realm with which we have no quarrel. Your silver tongue spins lies freely, and your conscience is lacking in the moral sympathy required of not only a prince, but an Aesir. Of course, you, as you have so bitterly distinguished in the past, are not of my lineage. If it is your wish to be regarded as one with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, then you shall be punished as such. Guards, take him to the dungeons whilst I deliberate with the Elders on this matter. Be warned, he is to be bound at all times and watched with great vigilance, precautions which I stress not for his imprisonment, but for your own safety."

As the soldiers made to grab the accused, however, Loki's bonds suddenly vanished along with the gag.

Chuckling as he rubbed his wrists, the God of Mischief addressed the Court, "Astounding isn't it, wordless magic? I am far more powerful now than when I was here last, it seems. And not only in the arts of seidr, but as a result of my Jotun roots, the powers of the Frost Giants are also at my command. Shall I demonstrate?" As quick as a snake, Loki's arm shot forth, guiding the spear of ice that formed from naught but thin air heading straight for the Allfather's good eye.

Thor jumped into action, tackling Loki to the ground to disrupt the spear from its deadly path. As the two crashed to the floor, Loki, pinned under the God of Thunder, slammed his head into the granite floor with a dull thud.

Thor noticed the change immediately.

For the Midgardian archer, Hawkeye, and Erik Selvig the recovery was more of a gradual realization. But for Loki, release from the mind control of the Other was instantaneous. The crazed glint disappeared from muted green eyes as their color returned to the usual emerald. Breathing suddenly ragged and harsh, Loki struggled to control himself as his mind and body were united once more. Consciousness flooding through his system, the younger clung to his brother and buried his face in Thor's neck as he fought to make sense of his situation.

Shocked but immensely relieved, Thor cradled the slighter as he worked out what had just happened. As the other occupants of the vast hall stared on in confusion, the two brothers held each other desperately, pain and longing binding them together.

"Thor," Loki whispered, lips brushing against the other's ear. "Brother, I'm so sorry. I-I don't-"

"Shush," Thor interrupted. "You will rest now, and we will discuss the implications in the morrow. Come." Slipping an arm under weak knees and wrapping the other around stiff shoulders, Thor swept the younger into his arms and carried him as he would a bride to his chambers.

"Put me down, brother," Loki protested weakly, wrapping his arms around the elder's neck nonetheless. "I am not some damsel in need of assistance, I can walk myself."

"Nonsense," declared Thor. "I insist. Father, mother, I will speak with you soon. Permit me some time with my brother as you discuss, I may be able to shed light unto this unfortunate situation."

As they passed through familiar halls, the blond held tighter to the brother he had come so close to losing. And Loki accepted the comfort without argument, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, still shaken from months under the control of the Other with no memory of what sinful acts he had been forced to commit.

Reaching his personal chambers, Thor finally set his brother down. "Would you like to bathe before we retire?"

Loki nodded gratefully and followed the elder into the bathroom. "Allow me," he gestured at the water as he murmured under his breath. "I know you prefer it steaming hot."

"Then allow me as well," Thor smiled as he began to undress the younger, undoing the numerous buckles and straps so the pieces of leather and metal could gradually fall away. The milky skin that was revealed was no longer the unblemished alabaster that Thor remembered, and he took care to kiss each cut that had not healed and caress each bruise that had not faded as gently as possible.

Leaning into the affectionate touches, Loki sighed at the forgotten contact. How good it was to be in the care of those who loved and worried for him again. After the steam had long filled the room, the God of Mischief finally pulled away. Vanishing the other's armor, he led them into the marble bath, lying against the blond as they soaked.

"Brother, when I was under the Other's control, what did I d-"

"Don't," Thor cut Loki off short. "Do not ponder on such things; we will discuss the consequences at a later date. For now, humor me and let me coddle you to my heart's content."

The younger laughed lightly despite the overwhelming anxiety that threatened to consume him. "You have always gotten what you wanted, brother. Why should this be any different?"

"Loki, my dearest brother," Thor murmured, pressing a kiss to the cut on Loki's forehead. "It is also my wish for you to have what you desire as well. I hope it is not a burden that I wish to protect you."

"But I recall you using the word 'coddle' in place of 'protect'," Loki replied snarkily.

Thor grinned, "Different words illustrating the same concept, then. I am simply happy to have the brother that I love more than Asgard itself back in my arms."

Loki, despite the kind words, frowned as he eyed the inch long scar, still fresh and pink, among the multitude that covered Thor's torso through the crystal clear water. Tracing a delicate finger along the edge of the healed wound, he frowned, "This one is new… Was it my doing?"

"No," Thor shook his head. "It was the Other's doing, not yours so do not blame yourself for that which you could not control."

Gazing deeply into the Thor's eyes, Loki pressed a hand to the elder's heart, "Regardless, brother. I am sorry. It was never my intention to bend to the Other's will. When I encountered him after my fall, I was wea-"

"Do not trouble yourself further about this tonight, brother," Thor pleaded softly, cupping Loki's face with calloused hands. "As you said to me so long ago, 'never forget that I love you'."

Loki's eyes glistened with unshed tears as they often did in exceptionally tense or emotional situations, turning red rimmed and glassy. "I shall humor you, then. Here," he shifted and wrapped one of Thor's arms around his middle. "Hold me as we soak," he all but demanded as he lay between the Thor's legs, resting his head against a broad shoulder.

When Loki began to drift off, Thor reached for the soaps and lathered his brother's matted hair. "Shall I have mother trim your locks later?" he inquired casually, combing his fingers through the tangles.

Loki groaned as the other began to massage his scalp, "Perhaps you can trim them."

Thor moved on to tense shoulders and worked his hands into knotted muscle. "Then perhaps you can trim mine as well. It has grown in your…absence."

Dipping under the rinse out the soap, Loki resurfaced to face the elder. "What shall we tell father? He is not likely to believe my even if I plead my case."

"The truth," Thor said simply. "And we will expect the same in return. I will not stand for you to be lied to again. Even though your story is not unlike that of fantasy, there are those who see all and are indisputable sources of truth in father's command, we will rely on them to retell your tale."

Nodding in agreement, Loki smiled, appeased. "What I have done to deserve so wonderful a brother I will never know." Grabbing the other's hands, he climbed out of the water and whispered spells to dry them off, enjoying the sensation of magic rolling over his skin.

"Loki," Thor admonished, eyes flitting down to admire his brother's backside as he padded to the main chamber, "It will not be proper to sleep in the nude when father comes barging in."

The sorcerer glanced over his shoulder and drawled, "Then by all means, provide me with such garments for sleeping. I know you enjoy looking upon me whilst I am wearing your clothes."

Walking up behind the slighter, Thor ran his hands over Loki's narrow shoulders and down his sides to grip at slim hips. "I'm afraid I do not own any fit for your proportions," the blond murmured into damp locks, pulling the younger against him so they were pressed flush together.

Smiling tiredly, Loki acquiesced. "Very well, I suppose I will just have to deal with remedying your shortcomings," he replied cheekily as he pulled away to conjure a pale green sleeping robe.

Thor laughed and reached for his customary underclothes. "That will forever be in abundance, I am afraid."

Climbing into the other's bed, Loki pulled Thor next to him, settling against the hard panes of the warrior's body. "Please stay with me tonight," he whispered. "I am not yet myself."

Placing kisses all along his brother's brow, Thor grinned, "Of course, Loki. I have long missed having you in bed since we were young boys and my bed-warmer decided he was much too old to snuggle with his elder brother."

Scoffing at Thor's ridiculousness, Loki let his eyes fall shut to a deep dreamless sleep, guarded by the only one he had always been able to trust. "I love you too, Thor."

To be continued.

AN: I hope this isn't moving too fast as I'm trying to keep this a short 4 or 5 chapters maximum, and I really want these two to get back to Earth quickly so they can wreak havoc amongst our favorite Avengers.

And just to clarify, I personally don't enjoy reading stories where Thor is a bumbling idiot, so bear with my more eloquent version of him.

Don't be afraid to drop a comment with any suggestions! (This is un-betaed…is anyone interested?)

With love,