A/N: Here's version 0.2 of Reaching You. I borrowed quite a lot of wordings etc from the original, but I'll try to make it different enough. Fingers crossed it'll turn out alright. Please feel free to R&R. Thank you to my squishy best friend for posting.

They went from daylight under a blue Midgardian sky to the darkness of an unknown world; the rocky ground they slammed into was not that of Asgard. The Tesseract was still in their grasp, Loki's unwilling hand gripping it tight as if to hurt it, Odinson holding steadily onto his end, but the impact of landing sent Loki to one knee and the Cube clattering away. Thor found his footing on the uneven terrain and quickly placed a hand on Loki's upper arm, simultaneously restricting and steadying him.

'Brother, are you injured?'

Loki, still shackled and muzzled, didn't deign to shake his head. Above the gag, his eyes revealed nothing. After a moment's hesitation, Thor removed the muzzle. With momentarily downcast eyes, Loki worked his jaw slightly from side to side to ease the stiffness and licked his sore lips.

'Have you seen this world before?'

'Oh yes.'

It seemed then that the shadows moved of their own accord; shapes suddenly formed, and green energy began to flash. Mjölnir was ready in Thor's hand; lightning blazed and Chitauri warriors fell. With his free hand he shoved Loki out of the way.

The God of Mischief made his move; grabbing the energy rifle from the closest Chitauri, the chains rattling between his wrists, Loki fired it straight into Thor's back; and in the opening it gave him, plunged the bayonet deep into Odinson's torso with a vicious snarl. Thor grunted; the hammer slipped from his fingers to thud resoundingly into the dirt. Loki knocked him over backwards with a furious kick and watched as the Chitauri drones swarmed over him. Thor made a futile attempt to summon Mjölnir, but the hammer didn't move, suddenly too heavy to lift.

Momentarily spent from the exertion, Loki sank down onto one knee.

'King,' the masked Other greeted Loki, extending a polydactyl hand. Loki's skin crawled, but he accepted the offered hand regardless, rising to his feet before swiftly letting go. Behind him, he heard rifle-fire, thuds and grunts as the Chitauri struggled to beat a disarmed Thor into submission. 'They have defeated you. Humiliated you.'

'The plan went awry,' Loki spat. 'I was not counting on your Chitauri legions being so weak as to be unable to kill five mortals.'

'You have been wronged, prince. We must begin planning your restoration as Earth's ruler. But first, take revenge upon those who have wronged you.'

The shackles were broken and the servant of Thanos passed Loki a blade. Freed, Loki took it with a smile and turned. By now they had an enraged Thor stretched out by the wrists between them, his head still high and angry.

'I thought they had come for you,' Thor said with – what? Bitterness? Accusation? Relief?

'You'd honestly thought you'd beaten me, hadn't you,' Loki replied as the Other withdrew. 'How strange you should find yourself here. How quickly the tables can be turned. Don't you agree?'

There was pain in Thor's look – How did we come to this? – but Loki's pale face was still cut and bruised from his defeat at Banner's hands; looking up at him, Thor found it difficult to summon true anger.

'Loki,' he said gently, willing his brother to heed his sincerity, 'You needn't do as they tell you.'

'You leave me no choice – you came between me and my rightful throne. All my life, in fact, you stood between me and what was mine. Oh, we were raised together, we played together, we fought together, but forever was I your inferior. The lesser prince, the forgotten son. Worthlessness and jealousy – those were the staples of my life until now. But no more.'

'There is always a choice. If they hold you under duress, I give you my word, I will help you escape. I will save you from them.'

'You think I'm fool enough to let you loose? Weak-minded as you are, you are excellent at getting in my way.'

'I have given you so many chances and you would throw them away so easily? It's not too late yet. Stop now – before you find yourself beyond redemption.'

'Redemption?' Barely contained hatred was coursing through Loki, but he couldn't help laughing. 'You truly believe in redemption – good, evil? There are no sides, Odinson. Life is governed by power and power alone. And right now, I am the one with the power over you. Can I be redeemed of superiority? Now, kneel.'

With a powerful diagonal blow, he knocked Thor to the ground. Odinson grunted in pain.

'You had your chance to know me as a brother, but in your arrogance, blindness and stupidity you treated me instead as a second shadow.'

Thor's head snapped back as Loki delivered a blow to his face, then dropped forwards again. When his vision righted itself, the knife's edge was hovering above him as though choosing where to strike.

'And the world you so love and have sworn to protect? You have failed in its defence. You have allowed it to be damaged, its people to be harmed, its freedom to be endangered. How does dejection taste, Odinson? Bitter, is it not?'

'This is madness. Have you forgotten your home?'

Loki hissed at him through gritted teeth.

'I never – ' stabbing the blade into Odinson's side ' – ever – ' dragging it in a slow, deliberate line ' – loved you. You were an easily manipulated impediment, nothing more.'

A thin line of blood dribbled from the corner of the God of Thunder's lips; he coughed and shut his mouth in a firm, reproving line, refusing to cry out.

'Do you love her?' he snapped venomously in Thor's ear, 'Tell me – do you love her so much you would sacrifice yourself to protect her world? Know this: I will find her. I will bring her here and, in front of you, I will take her apart, little by little, until nothing is left. Then, maybe, if I'm in a kind mood, I'll let you die.'

He pulled back. Odinson was looking up at him as if he were a stranger. Finally he understands, Loki thought. He twisted the dagger in his once-brother's side; but the words were even more painful still as he hissed in Thor's ear:

'Before I end your life, I will make you watch as I obliterate the world you so adore. Think on that a while, Odinson. I'll be back in a moment.'

With that, he jerked the blade free, turned and left without a backwards glance. His benefactor was waiting for him; turning the knife over, Loki offered it back to the Other.

'For your actions, you will be rewarded.' But then the metal flashed out; Loki jerked as he felt wet blood and hot pain blossom across his face. Clutching at the wound he reeled back, hearing through pounding ears the words:

'As will you. You have sealed your own fate, lost prince.'

Loki could feel a tingling irritation spreading through his skull, an unsteadiness following in its wake; as his extremities began to shake uncontrollably, he realised dimly that the blade had all along been dipped in some foul toxin. It hurt. A small part of him, somewhere at the back of his brain, envied how Thor had borne it so well.

'We will inform the Asgardian that you have decided to let him live on and release him back to Earth. There will be nobody to save you, for who will? He will not come for you now.'