Disclaimer: The character mentioned here are not mine - they belong to their respective owners.
So, like a lot of people out there, I've recently got very much into the The Avengers. This is my take on what happens post-Avengers between Thor and Loki. I think it explains a lot and hopefully you enjoy it, despite the warnings for character death and extreme angst. It wasn't written as complete and obvious 'Thorki' slash, but you can easily read it that way if you wish.
As this is my first Avengers fic, I'd love some feedback, so please read and review. :) Kar, xx
Peace and Penitence
(Or, How Loki Finally Achieved What He Actually Wanted)
~ -xx- ~
When Thor takes Loki back to Asgard, it's not to the throne room.
Loki expects to be cast down at Odin's feet to await the mercy which will not come, but instead, Thor silently leads him away through the winding golden corridors. And Loki allows himself to be escorted so, a thin line of suspicion creasing his forehead.
The silver muzzle bites painfully into Loki's lips, a stark contrast to Thor's gentle hold on his forearm, and he thinks what in the Nine Realms Thor could possibly have planned for him. But that thought leaves him with too many possibilities, too much pain. Instead he forces himself to think of all that has come to pass on Earth and Asgard and in the stretched out eons he spent in the Abyss. He thinks of how it all went so wrong; how everything he planned failed. His mind whirs, determined to find another solution and form another plan, one that will not fail him. One that cannot fail him...
Eventually though, as all things seem to do, his mind turns to Thor again. Loki cannot help it. He thinks of Thor. He longs to have Thor's love again; pure and unwavering as it was when they were young. But he knows, deep down, he can never have that again. It's gone too far for that. And perhaps that's for the best. Perhaps he doesn't deserve Thor's love anymore.
It takes a few moments, Loki admits, to figure out where they are headed; it's been too long since he haunted these halls. But then they turn a corner and the memories come flooding back, which such a force it hurts Loki. His mind is filled with the echoes of tiny, running footsteps and the playful sound of children's laugher. His laughter. Thor's laughter.
It's in that moment he knows that this will hurt more than anything he could have planned.
Loki's old bedroom is how he remembers it. The only change is the books, which have gone back to their proper home in the library. To Loki, it feels a little bit smaller, a little bit colder without their guiding warmth and constant companionship.
Thor releases him and closes the door with a soft click. Loki watches his turned back, seeing how tense and bunched the muscles are under his armour. Part of him itches to massage them, to smooth out his stresses. But those days are long gone. They both know it.
"I'm sorry," Thor says eventually, turning to gaze forlornly at Loki.
Loki rolls his eyes and gestures awkwardly at his muzzle. With a muttered 'oh', Thor removes it and Loki tries very hard not to lean into the hand that lingers on his cheek.
"I'm sorry," repeats Thor, placing the harsh contraption on the old writing desk.
Loki doesn't speak immediately; the muzzle has left his mouth raw. Running his tongue experimentally across cracked lips, Loki eyes Thor with glaring suspicion. For as long as he can remember, Thor was always so mighty, both physically and mentally. He towered over so many, his strength unrivalled and never diminishing; he was truly a god, above anything Loki could ever be. But now is different. Thor is tired, almost waning away and Loki knows it's more than just the aftermath of a tough battle. He swallows thickly.
And when he eventually does address Thor, Loki's voice is low and only a little demanding. "Why have you brought me here? What are you hoping to achieve?" He receives no reply. "It's not... no, surely not." Loki narrows his eyes at the larger man and Thor is silent. "Oh," and Loki grins, spreading his arms to encompass the room. "You bring me here to negotiate, to convince me of something that I will not do."
"Yes," Thor doesn't lie. He never has. Thor was always a god of spoken truths, while Loki kept the protection of lies.
"No," Loki says, icily. "You will not use our childhood, my childhood as a negotiating tool. Have I not already spent enough of my life in such a way? How dare you!"
"Do you not have good memories of this place?" Thor growls, thumping his hand on the desk.
Loki does. Of course he does. He doesn't even need to think about it.
He glances at the desk with all those endless hours reading, refining his magic and his skills. He was always sitting there when Thor would burst in, demanding his little brother come on a hunting trip or out to play and mock-fight. Loki would protest and groan, but inside he'd be smiling at Thor's choice to include him. And the injuries he'd sustain would always be worth it.
Then, further back still when Loki was too young and still haunted by nightmares and it was Thor who reached his bedside first. He would calm Loki's terrified sobs and dry his tears. And after that, Loki would sleep the whole night uninterrupted, sometimes with Thor beside him, gently stroking his forehead or clasping his hand in comfort and protection.
"No," Loki whispers, a lie, dragging himself back from the past. "No, I have no good memories of this place."
Thor looks simply heartbroken at the words, but it was nothing more than he expected. "I'm sorry," he says for the third time.
"For what?" Loki says, his voice once again hard in contrast to Thor's.
There is a pregnant pause and Loki tilts his head ever so slightly, his eyes raking over Thor's haggard face. "No," he says with finality.
"No," Loki repeats, stepping menacingly closer. "We are not doing this. Not here. Not ever. We are not children anymore, Thor. You cannot apologise and then expect me to do the same and pretend it will all be fine."
"Don't call me that," the anger escalates like nothing Loki has ever felt. "I never was your brother, no matter how you spin it. How many times do I have to say it, you oaf!"
Thor ignores the insult; he's heard it so many times before it doesn't hurt anymore. He also ignores Loki's warning glare and steps forward. "At least once more," he says. "And perhaps you are right. We are not brothers, not in blood. But in bond, yes. And you were always my truest friend and most enjoyable companion."
Loki hisses and steps easily out of reach of Thor's outstretched hand. He cannot afford to let Thor touch him. He knows he will not have the strength to resist. And instead of accepting the love he has always deeply craved, Loki does what he has always done. He lies. Again. "You speak only for yourself, Thor. My memories hold nothing but alienation and darkness."
That does it. Loki can almost see Thor's mind, winding back and trying to relive his memories from another point of view. "I... how... have you always thought this?"
And Loki turns now, unable to look at Thor's rapidly falling face. "How could I not?" he murmurs. "You know what I am."
"Yes!" Thor thunders and Loki is forcefully spun around to face him. "I know exactly what you are and it matters not to me." Thor's hands are heavy on Loki's shoulders. "I still love you, Loki. I never will stop loving you." It should have sounded overwrought, but Thor stated it with such certainly it simply didn't. "Please, I beg of you, give it up. Apologise for all your..." he struggles to find a big enough word. "... duplicitous actions."
Loki takes a moment to widen his eyes in mock-impressed shock. "Duplicitous. That's a big word you for Thor. Where ever did you learn it?"
His quip earns him a shaking and Thor grips his shoulders a little harder. "Listen to me! I am pleading with you. When you are knelt in front of Odin, apologise and beg for mercy. I know he will show it. Come back to us. Come back to me."
Thor's hands fall defeated to his sides, not fighting as Loki shakes him off. "You hold Odin in too higher respect. He will not show mercy and I will never kneel before him," he spits. And then, looking up directly into Thor's eyes, Loki says. "And your love means nothing to me, Thor."
"Loki..." Thor's voice is cracked.
"I do not love you, Thor." More lies and Loki turns away, unable to face the tears suddenly falling down Thor's cheeks. And oh, how he wishes Thor could understand. "And... and even if I did, I could never come back as you want it." Thor makes a choked sobbing noise and it takes a lot of Loki's will to ignore it.
So he keeps talking, trying to drown it out. "I never even wanted to come back like this. After I fell into the Abyss, I never wanted to come back to anything. I thought that would be the end." Loki paces now, his eyes wild and roving. Thor is muttering something that sounds like 'no', but Loki ignores him. He has to ignore him. He has to explain. He has to make Thor understand. "I wanted; I needed that to be the end. It broke me, knowing I would never be good enough for Odin-"
Thor cuts him off, with a strangled cry. "Stop! Just stop with this madness! Loki, listen to me. You spent so long convinced you were never good enough for Odin, but you always forget that you were good enough for me. You still are..."
"No," says Loki, shaking his head. "You don't understand. It's too late. That no longer matters. I can never go back to how I was... how we were. As much as I want to, I know I cannot."
"You are being selfish, brot-"
"When have you known me to be otherwise?" Loki snaps. "When I let go and fell off the Bifrost, all I wanted was the torment to end. I wanted those beautiful stars and that blackness to swallow me and never spit me out. I prayed for death, for the peace it would bring." Loki runs a hand through his hair, his breath is unexpectedly laboured and everything he's kept bottled up is coming out, and he cannot control it. Just as he cannot control the look of horror slowly etching itself onto Thor's beautiful face. "But no," he continues in a voice mocking and harsh. "Instead I am forced to live with all my mistakes and misgivings and it's never ending. The things I have done, Thor... Every moment I relive all of it and if this is living, then I do not want it anymore."
"Loki..." It's a hoarse whisper.
And then, just like that, there it is. So simple and easy. The last piece in a rapidly forming plan. Calm washes over him, slowing his breaths and stilling his mind and Loki knows what he must do now. It will be painful at first, but he knows it will be nothing compared to the peace he will get in the end. And for so long, that's all he's ever wanted.
"I want it to end, Thor," Loki says simply. "I want to die. I need to die."
"No," Thor is shaking his head and stepping closer again, an arm outstretched.
"Don't," Loki pleads. "Don't make this harder."
And then, Thor understands too, as though a bolt of ironic lightening has struck him. "You mean to be killed. The Chitauri... the attack on Midgard... it was all a ploy. If the battle itself didn't claim you, Odin would when you were returned to Asgard as a criminal."
"And finally he understands," Loki murmurs, a hollow, pathetic attempt at his past sardonic self.
"No. No, you can't."
"You have to let them, Thor."
"I will not sit idly by and watch as you-"
"No." Thor shakes his head in downright refusal.
"Do it for me," Loki says imploringly, unable to keep the emotion out of his voice any longer. "Thor, please, if you still love me, you will take me before Odin and propose I be slain in punishment for my crimes. It you ever loved me, you will do this." Loki's voice breaks for the first time. "And remember that it was my wish... my final act of penitence."
They gaze at each other in silence for what seems an age. Then, slowly, Thor closes his eyes and nods ever so slightly. Loki smiles. It's not the evil grin of a maniac, but the soft relieved smile of one who has finally completed what he set out to do. He knows his end is near now.
Thor has not stopped weeping, and now Loki is beginning to feel the prickle of tears in his own eyes. He blinks rapidly, casting his gaze downwards and away. When Thor finally he speaks, his voice comes out as a croak. "Oh, Loki... I'm so sorry..."
And then Thor is embracing him and Loki doesn't fight it anymore. Unable to hold them back, the tears finally fall, splattering on Thor's armour and soaking into his hair, but god of thunder does not care. Thor is whispering apologies and words of comfort against Loki's skin and pressing kisses against his cheeks, his forehead, his lips. And Loki murmurs back, apologising at first and then echoing the sentiment and love that Thor impresses on him, with painful sincerity.
For that brief moment, Loki allows himself the one last luxury of the love he has always yearned for. Thor's love.
It's Thor's love that carries him through those final few hours. And it's the feel of Thor in his arms and the press of his lips that he thinks of last, and it's Thor's shining blue eyes that he sees before his own eyes close and the darkness envelops him.
And it's then that Loki finally knows peace.