Author's Notes: I am in love with Loki Laufeyson and indebted for the introduction to Mikkeneko, who recommended "Thor" (hnnngh) to me and linked me to a deleted scene that broke my heart (BABIES! QAQ) and then promptly welded it back together again with Loki (Oh. My. God.) trapped within.
This scene takes place in Asgard, after the end of "Avengers". I've only watched "Thor" twice and "Avengers" once, so this is probably pure Character Chainsaw Massacre with possible mis-quotes and mis-remembers scattered about like improperly buried Bouncing Betties. Please throw critique-cabbages and suggestion-spuds at me with extreme prejudice. I love Loki far more than I love my own writing, so I am eager to know what mistakes I've made that I may not repeat them in the future.
The fetters and gag were gone, though his movements were restricted and there was no one to talk to. His confinement was in neither dungeon nor cell; in point of fact it was a well-appointed suite with every comfort and even some few luxuries. Loki was disgraced and awaiting punishment, but he was still a god and - perhaps more importantly - still the acknowledged son of Odin All-Father.
So Thor claimed, at least, when he abruptly and quite violently insisted upon the right to see and speak to his own brother.
"All-Father," Loki repeated after Thor, and the tone was so bitter that the elder could almost feel the crisp shattering of dried herbs on his tongue. The prisoner received him with a sardonic nod and gestured grandly to a couch near his own seat. His glittering helm and armor had been taken away, however he was dressed not in some rude uniform but one of his own elegant robes, looking at ease and not at all like one guilty and condemned. Thor frowned and shifted as if the plush cushions he'd thrown himself upon displeased him.
"Father of all save for me," added the sorcerer, and his lip curled as he spoke.
"He is your father just as I am your brother," Thor stated firmly, but the declaration was received with a mocking nod.
"Exactly so," Loki agreed, and the thunder god wondered that his brother could twist his meaning so simply. Even the mockery of a smile fell away then as the dark-haired god spoke again.
The words trailed off, still in that desperate bitterness of tone, and even when Loki took up his thoughts again Thor could not see which "father" was being spoken of at first. The younger god was no longer lounging back in comfort and ease upon his chair but hunched forward now, elbows upon his knees and pale hands clasped before him.
"I stood before him, met his gaze, spoke to him...and he knew me not. I returned the favor later, in rather spectacular fashion if I may say so myself." There was a wry twist to those thin lips and the tone was light and teasing for a moment, as if Loki wished to underscore the fact that he had to praise himself since there was no one else who would. The sentinels were automatons and the suite - the hall and the wing and like as not the building entire - was warded against his tricks.
"I could have wished at that moment that he had known me. Known that it was the puling, pathetic whelp he'd discarded so long ago that had brought him low. I take more after Odin after all, do I not, in that I struck down the king of the frost giants?"
"It was your design all along to prevent war between the realms, and you never meant for any harm to come to our father," Thor acknowledged, stubbornly clinging to the notion that Odin was their father, and not just his own. "I see that now, and I am certain he knew it long before I did, wise as he is."
"Ah yes...father of the gods, all-wise, all-powerful," Loki mused, finally turning his gaze to his visitor but only to coolly look the young god up and down, as if merely to take his measure. "In his infinite wisdom he banished you to Midgard, there to learn humility from the most humble. Where will he banish me, to learn my place?"
"Your place..." Thor said somewhat hesitatingly, out of an uncertainty how to continue. It was a phrase that felt sour in his mouth. He recalled telling his brother to know his place in Jotunheim, though he could not know whether that moment was in Loki's thoughts as well.
"I have no place," Loki interrupted sharply, relieving the other of the necessity of trying to think of something to say, but doing nothing for his unease. "Where I was born, I am held traitor and kingslayer. Where I was raised, I dare say quite the same. None of the other realms would welcome me any more than Asgard or Jotenheim. Shall I be sent back to the Chitauri, to make repayment for failing to uphold my part of our bargain?"
The disgraced god's tone was light, but there was a stark fear in those pale eyes that Thor still felt he knew despite all that had occurred. Perhaps it was mere stubbornness to persist in having faith in this changeling. Perhaps it was foolishness. Obstinate and headstrong was who he was, however, and he could not change this about himself even if he would.
"Where would you choose, were it up to you?" he asked, hoping for some honesty - again, likely foolish but he could not help it - because he had no confidence that he could pluck the truth out of the dark maze of his brother's mind.
"The throne was rather comfortable," Loki said with a little smile, and the smirk grew at the same pace as the scowl upon Thor's face. "What a face, Odinson. Your golden beauty is quite marred by the thunderclouds on that fair brow."
"I liked it better when you yourself were not smiling so much," Thor replied, almost petulant at how difficult it seemed to talk to one to whom his heart had always been so open. And was that part of the pain that Loki bore, that he had always had to listen to Thor's hopes and exultations, joys and triumphs?
"In the observatory," Thor recalled, and had the satisfaction of seeing that twisted smile falter somewhat. "You said it yourself, that you had never desired the throne."
"You said it yourself," Loki parroted back, regaining the little bit of composure he'd let slip, "that I am incapable of sincerity. Why out of all the lies I've told you should you pick that one little phrase and hold it up as truth?"
Because you were shrieking it. Because you wept. The thunder god thought these things but did not speak them aloud. He could not match his brother in wits but he at least knew enough not to say such a thing.
"You've spoken truths and lies of good purpose as well, though it is difficult even now after all is over to see clearly all your plans and plots." He'd nearly reached for pen and parchment many a time in his attempts to unravel every little lie and trace it back to a greater reason. Or any reason, great or no.
"All is over, is it? You cannot see clearly, so you create childish fancies that suit your noble notions," Loki scoffed, turning his face away. Thor waited, more than half-expecting another grand tirade, but nothing filled the room save a tense silence. Pale eyes flickered up to meet Thor's for just an instant as the moment stretched out, clear in color as always but clouded still.
God of thunder and lightning Thor might be, but he saw more of storm in his brother's eyes. They were by turns blue like a cool morning that foretold a stormy evening and steely like ominous clouds, and sometimes shone bright with rain. Emotion flickered in their depths like lightning in the belly of a stormcloud, not deigning to touch down upon rude earth but staying aloof in the sky. Loki might lie with his tongue but he spoke with his eyes whether he knew it or not.
Sometimes I'm envious but never doubt that I love you.
I never wanted the throne. I only wanted to be your equal.
Did you mourn?
Thor did not now or ever order his words into neat lines like warriors massing for battle. He did not even do a headcount to make certain they were all assembled. A thought simply came to him and he spoke it.
"The place you desire is no grand throne nor great realm to rule; it is merely that little square of ground by my side, wheresoever I may stand," Thor said, frowning a little as he turned the idea over even as he laid it out for another's consumption. The absolutely blank, shocked look he got for this conclusion - this impertinence, this discernment - was better than any word of confirmation or overdone denial.
"It wasn't about Laufey abandoning you nor our father denying you. I had the truth of you in the observatory and did not see it until just now." He shook his head as Loki opened his mouth to speak, to very likely sneer and laugh and belittle every word dropped, and continued on before the other could interrupt.
"Fool that you are, despite all your wits and wiles," the thunder god chided, and not without a wry smile of his own now, "you never saw that you already had that which you so longed for. Father said that we were both meant to rule. Perhaps he meant for you to one day sit the throne of Jotunheim while I ruled Asgard. I would rather that you remained here, not to kneel before me but to stand by my side, hand on my shoulder as you often had, to advise and caution me." He thought of the way Loki had described his childhood as a coldness spent in his own shadow and the smile slipped, succeeded by a frown.
"You were sometimes in my shadow because you were always with me. Who was with me in every mischief? Who shared in my every adventure? I had my friends but you were the first and sometimes only one I looked to. If you were absent from any part of my life it was because you had removed yourself. I would have shared all with you."
He looked up and found himself still stared at, but Loki was mastering himself again after being stunned by the first surprise attack upon his position and reeling from the successive blows. The younger god was pulling his dignity and defenses about him again like cast-off bits of armor, and Thor could almost hear that smooth voice gathering itself to strike out with strength instead of shaking.
"Don't," Thor said, and his voice was more weary than warlike, more full of regret than ire, though still strong and firm in conviction. They'd both spoken the truth on Midgard when the brother-gods had grappled and declared that they'd changed. The fires of the elder's temper were tempered now by tears of loss and ashes of regret, leaving him with a steady warmth that still flared at times but never raged entirely out of his control. He'd had enough of destruction, whether from his own hands or no.
"Don't," he repeated, and fixed his brother - his fellow, his friend, his brother world without end - with a look so sharp and unwavering it could have cut like a blade. "I may yet fall for your tricks and stumble into your traps, but nothing you say will ever shake my belief in certain truths. Belittle my faith in you if you wish. Deny your love for me if it eases you. But those words will only be for your own ears; they will not fall on mine except to fall away."
Loki only stared at him, mute as if still gagged, unmoving as if still bound, perhaps recognizing the truth in this at least; that Thor Odinson was nothing if not stubborn and it would only be a waste of time and energy to attack these words. They watched each other for a long while, silent and still but the air charged as if with blood and battle. Some minute shift in Loki's posture - a slight lifting of that pointed chin, the merest drop of those slender shoulders - finally broke the tension and Thor moved immediately as if released from a binding spell.
He leaned abruptly back, almost dropping himself back into the cushions with a gusty sigh, tired as if he'd just fought with his fists instead of with words. In truth a physical battle would have been preferred; it might very well have invigorated him instead of giving him this weariness. Catching sight of an amused twitch of Loki's lips did refresh him somewhat, and he grinned impulsively and patted the empty bit of couch next to him. A dark eyebrow went up, but otherwise Loki did not move.
"Come and resume your place," Thor offered. Commanded. Begged.
"You trust me so near you, do you?" Loki asked, finally splitting his lips to speak again. "I, who have already killed one king and struggled so for the throne which is your birthright?"
"It is where you belong, whether you do good or evil in it," the heir to Asgard replied with a shrug. "It is where you have always belonged, deny it or disbelieve it or be you blind to it as you will. Support me or struggle with me, care for me or kill me, this is your place. You cannot change it, whatever else you do."
Loki looked for some time as if he would indeed deny it, but eventually rose without further speech and closed the distance between them before settling lightly down upon the couch. Another moment of hesitation, and then the jotun-prince sighed in resignation and leaned back, resting against the arm that Thor had thrown over the back of their now shared seat. The fair-haired god improved their comfort - in his opinion, at least - by pulling his brother closer and giving him a rough shake and ruffle.
Instead of being met with indignant protests and scathing remarks upon his improprieties and rudeness, this clumsy affection only drew a soft sigh.
"This won't last," Loki murmured, and Thor thought of the morrow, when their father would pass judgment upon his foundling son and sentence him to whatever punishment he had deemed just.
"It won't change," Thor maintained stubbornly, and this time he managed to draw a faint chuckle out of his companion.
"Bull-headed. Yours should have been the horned helm."
"It suits you better, and for quite the same reason."
"Same to you, brother."
There was a quick snort and a long pause, and the silence continued for such a time that Thor thought they might just while away the remainder of the day so, sitting in a comfortable silence. Or he might doze off and wake up to find himself bound and gagged and alone. Or not wake up at all. Really, anything was possible with Loki. But the silence was broken before Thor could drift much into further suppositions or slumber.
"I do love you," Loki said in an almost conversational tone, as if casually mentioning that there was another cushion to be had, if he so desired.
"I know you do."
"No, you don't."
"I do. Even if you don't, I know that you do."
"That...did not even make sense."
"It did not need to."
They fell silent again, then fell asleep, and when Thor awoke it was to a soft press of lips against his temple.