Disclaimer: I do not own The Avengers.
Brother Mine, Part 2
While Loki always attended his lessons, Thor would sometimes play hooky.
"I am smarter than you! But father- your father- didn't value that! He valued your strength and charms! He valued your foolishness!"
"Who's really the fool here Loki? Who's refusing to acknowledge and accept the fact that you are not hated! That you are valued! That you are loved! By me, by our mother, and by our father!"
"What are you planning, Loki?" Thor asked gravely.
"Something very special. Something personal, both for you and the All-Father."
"I can understand why humans have this concept of heaven, after living in this hell their whole lives." Loki observed.
"Maybe it is a hell, but part of the reason we're here now is to make it less of one for them." Thor replied.
When it came down to it, the brothers' loyalty was not for SHIELD, not even entirely for their team, but for each other.
"He can do you no harm my friends. His magic is lost, his soul shattered. I brought him here to rebuild it." Thor told his friends when he appeared with a battered and broken Loki.
"I do not understand. The fever did not affect me this badly, but it is killing him. Why?"
Odin could not answer Thor as he worriedly watched his youngest sweating and shivering at the same time.
Loki preferred it when he did not dream. The things he saw in his sleep were almost too much for even him to bear.
"I am not so brave as you."
"Not so! You faced your punishment, and you came out of it your old self, if not a better person. That takes courage Loki."
It had been too long since Loki had had a family. And as his mother embraced him, he thought that he was just glad to have his old one back.
To Thor, it was almost as if Loki had been brought back from the dead.
Loki was a prince of Asgard again, back was his mischief, but gone was his evil.
"I wish I had died when I fell from the Bifrost. I had no reason to live then, and now I don't once again."
"I will help you find a reason Loki, I promise. Just trust me."
"Show off." Loki said when Thor conjured a storm as his way to celebrate a victory.
Despite having control of thunder and lightning, Thor wasn't really fond of rain.
"How easily you give your love Thor. To those team mates of yours, the son of a man who dealt death, a man who has known only war, an assassin who kills on orders without question, the monster of monsters, the woman with blood dripping from her hands, and, as you claim, to me, the creature who has nothing but darkness left inside."
"Loki, I did not give my love to them. They earned it. And you, you earned it a long time ago, and you need it."
As Thor looked upon the small baby in the cradle, he wondered what it would be like to have a brother. Whatever it was like, he thought it would be exciting.
"I value your wisdom brother, even if others do not."
Loki smiled from his place at Thor's side by the throne. "I thank you Thor."
"I can still reach him! His mind has to still be somewhat there!"
"We've got a mission. Get off the couch you oaf."
Thor groaned, but did as Loki ordered.
Thor much preferred when he and Loki had an enemy besides each other.
Thor should have seen it. The desperation, the envy, the deep wish to be acknowledged as just as good as he was.
Loki left the room as quickly as possible when Thor started poetically telling Jane what a beauty she was.
To him, those words were the ultimate rejection. The final rejection that he could never come back from.
Thor's idea of punishment was to give Loki a very long and tight hug the instant they arrived on Asgard, and Loki was unable to protest because of the damned muzzle.
"Never doubt that I love you."
Thor should have said that he never would, and should have told Loki to never doubt his love for him. But it was too late now.
The All-Father's statement that his punishment was forgiveness made Loki hang his head, feeling shame for the first time.
Thor had discovered Midgardian music. Loki enforced a rule that he was never to play it in his presence.
"You want to know why I let go! What Odin said to me on the Bifrost made me realize there really is no place for me anywhere!"
Thor felt his heart break, both in sadness for Loki, and in anger that his father could have said something so damaging when Loki had been so vulnerable.
Thor had to have his Pop Tarts.
Comfortable or not, a jail was still a jail, Loki thought.
"I haven't got it."
A year later he would realize he'd never lost it.
"Everyone has abandoned me! The Frost Giants abandoned me! Father abandoned me! Mother abandoned me! You abandoned me!"
"And I will never let that happen again!"
Loki and Thor never really wanted pets when they were children.
"Well, they're not so bad, these humans." Loki said with a shrug.
"Is this admission because of that SHIELD woman I've seen you with? The one with the auburn hair?" Thor asked, a teasing smile on his face.
"No! She has nothing to do with this!" Loki retorted.
Thor just smiled, as if in victory.
Thor was not ready for the throne. How could someone who did not know the meaning of sacrifice rule fairly?
What truly saved Loki were the memories that were brought to the surface when he returned to Asgard. When he returned home.
"You have developed a very selective memory brother. Or are you really that forgetful?"
"If anyone's forgetful Thor, it's you."
Thor knew Loki had lots of secrets, and he also knew there were some of those secrets he didn't want to know.
"We've won!" Thor exclaimed.
"Yes, and we destroyed half of this country's capital city in the process. Do you have any idea what kind of trouble we're going to be in?"
"Loki, do not be such a spoilsport!"
"It takes as much strength to admit a defeat as it does to achieve a victory." Thor told Loki gently.
"When the devil did you because so wise?"
"I promise that Loki will behave himself. Won't you, brother?" Thor gave Loki a stern look.
"Yes, I will. I'd rather not have the beating I'd get if I didn't behave myself."
"I knew you would come around! I knew you would come back!" Thor exclaimed joyfully as he enveloped Loki in a constricting hug.
Loki rolled his eyes, but did not struggle or openly protest.
"I was so sure I could save you. I believed in you Loki. I believed there was something of you left."
Loki gave a cold smile. "Another failure Thor. I would think you'd be getting used to it by now."
"Your attempt to use one of their sedatives to calm the Hulk may not have been the best idea."
"I realized that. My magic was spent, I had to try something." Loki snapped, wincing as Thor applied a cloth soaked in disinfectant to the gash on his temple.
"I am the monster that the children of Asgard fear will come and steal them away in the night."
"Monster? What monster? I see confused prince, who really should not speak when he does not know what he's talking about."
Loki had never actually seen himself in his true form, and he really didn't care to.
"Somebody hacked into Jarvis." Tony said, looking at Loki out of the corner of his eye.
"What, you think I did it? I can't even use one of your telephones."
Loki had really only ever wanted Thor's respect, so he did not care when Thor said he trusted him. Finally, he realized that respect is part of trust. And then he was finally truly happy.
A/N: I will be writing some fics that expand of some of these themes, so look out for them if you're interested.