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Desperate Times

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“How are you faring, dear brother?”

Loki fought the urge to roll his eyes at his oaf of a sibling. It was a gesture wasted on Thor, anyway.

“Just so, dear brother, just so,” he replied and if his voice could have even  an ounce of sarcasm more in it, Loki would have to spit. “And now, as we established my wellbeing, you can proceed in rescuing me.”

Thor looks at him with that cursed smile on his pretty face and twinkle in his pretty blue eyes – it means that his sarcasm was understood, but taken in good spirits. It drives Loki mad, how his brother can so effortlessly ignore his anger and just not care about it. Sometimes he likes to delude himself that it’s so because Thor is as stupid as a block of wood and doesn’t understand when he’s being ridiculed. And at the same time he knows that it is not true, because ridicule from anyone other than Loki usually meets with the business end of Mjölnir.

Sometimes it makes him feel special, that exceptional regard his brother  holds him in, but most of the time it just frustrates him.

“Could-you-proceed?” he bites out every word, trying not to squirm under his brother’s stare. It is cold in the dungeon, he tells himself, and the clothes – from the lack of better word – he has been given were not made with keeping warmth in thought. Or even with comfort. Or dignity.

This is one of those rare moments when Loki is quite happy with his female body. He still misses the effortless strength of his true form, but in this special situation having less... flesh between his legs is a blessing in disguise. He doesn’t know how would he then keep his dignity intact, in a garment that’s made of barely two stripes of fabric. Very thin fabric at that.

He’s not as happy about the upper area, where two stripes are joined by two small triangles that barely fit over his breasts, but he guesses it could be worse. He can always pull his long hair over his shoulders to cover himself more fully.

Victor Doom will pay for this – at this point in time this is already a fact, forged in stone, sung in ballads all across Nine Realms. For the last three days Loki was cementing that knowledge in his mind until it turned as solid and sharp as a real blade.

Three days of ridicule and unwanted advances of that... mortal fool. Three days spent in a cell laid out with pillows and nothing else, locked there to ‘cool down’ as his captor’s said. Three days of fighting with a magical collar made of rowan. Rowan! Wood!

As infuriating as it was, Victor did his homework and Loki had to admit his idea was effective.

It meant that every possible revenge that will befall on the good Doctor will be equally well thought out.

As soon as his brother stops staring at him in such strange way!

“You look like a wench, dear brother,” god of thunder finally surmised, smiling widely the whole time.

“And you look like a bumbling oaf!” Loki snapped back, instinctively rising his arms to cover his chest. “Your garb speaks of your common taste,” he pointed to the plaid shirt and a pair of jeans that Thor seemed to love. “And you’re ugly!”  he finished with a huff.

This was getting ridiculous!

Please,” Loki finally ground out the word his brother seemed to be waiting on. He was about to bite off his own tongue, but desperate times called for desperate measures. He’ll take his revenge later; maybe swapping Thor’s shampoo with liquid soap. Yes, his perfect sibling will spend HOURS fighting with his frizzled mane. “Please, you ugly, common, ungraceful boar, get me out of here.”

Thor just smiled again – damn him! – and bowed with flair.

“Your humble entreaty is heard by the Mighty Thor,” he’s said. “I shall get you out of this dreadful predicament.”

Damn that... just damn him. Loki huffed and turned his head away when his brother reached to him with his deceptively graceful hands – Thor was certainly NOT graceful! He was a brute and a churl, and even if him bending down allowed Loki to look under the neckline of that atrocious plaid shirt... so invitingly open... he didn’t react. Much.

“I can’t take it off,” god of thunder said after a moment of running his fingers over the thin wooden ring. “It is charmed in a way that I can’t break. I am afraid,” as he spoke it, his fingers brushed lightly over the soft skin on Loki’s collarbone, “that you will have to do it yourself at later time.”

“Of course I will have to do it myself!” Loki snapped again, just to cover the shiver that light touch pulled from his body. It was cold in there. “I can’t expect to be saved by someone competent, can I? By Norns, you are all fools and simpletons, why do I even fight by your side is a mystery to me! At least... what are you doing? Thor?”

Why was his brother taking his shirt off?

“Here, take this, brother.” The shirt landed on Loki’s arms. “You seem chilled. And I will not have you disgraced by that flimsy rags.”

“And what about your... disgrace?” Loki’s mouth felt suddenly dry. Rarely ever he’s got to see his brother’s body these days. Not in this form and certainly not bared from waist up. He barely managed to stop himself from looking down, to compare Thor’s ample bosom with his own... it would not do!

He already knew his own were smaller, so...

Damn that oaf!

“I will not have you disgraced,” repeated Thor with more strength and bent down to scoop his brother off the floor. “Now we shall be going.”

Loki’s face was stone serious when he spoke:

“You are not carrying me.”

And he meant it.

Even if his legs felt like jelly after three days of sitting in one place and the rowan collar sapped all strength from his body. He was aware that he won’t stand on his own, but to Hell with that! He won’t be carried like some... damsel in distress. Especially, not covered in that distasteful piece of clothing that smelled like his brother! Like lightening and wind and... Loki hasn’t even realised when his head fell on Thor’s surprisingly comfortable shoulder. Oh no, he’ll have a face full of that blond mane in a second! And what was that softness under his hand?

Oh, Thor’s were much bigger than his.

“You can rest now, brother,” Thor chuckled gently and tightened his hold on Loki’s tired body. “I will take us out of here now. Later, we’ll have words with Doctor Doom.”

Oh, yes, yes they will. The cursing and painful kind of words on Loki’s part. He barely lasted this long with his magic cut off at the neck. Thor came in at the last moment, even if the boor will never know about it; his ego is swollen enough already, no need to add to it. But yes, as soon as Loki regains his strength, he’ll get even with Victor.

Until that time he’ll just lay quietly in his brothers strong arms, with his face hidden in his golden hair, finally warm and safe. 

Chapter Text

It is not easy to fight for the good on Midgard – Loki thinks every once in a while. Not that he’s unused to fighting, or even playing the role of a good person, no. It’s that on Midgard there seem to be certain ‘standards’ concerning the way one should fight for the Good Cause. No underhanded moves, no deception and certainly no lies – everything has to be clean and noble and fair.

It sickens him sometimes, how these mortals, these children, apply their crippled logic to everything and expect the universe to agree and follow their lead. Oh, Thor thrives here, on his exile, greatly entertained by that youthful belief in some great justice. Weren’t they the same when they were children on Asgard? Weren’t their plays always about fighting monsters and dying with honour? Wasn’t their world only black and white then, when they didn’t yet knew how little honour there actually is in death on the battlefield? How noble warriors are the same as bastards – both kinds ending up as equals: a food for crows and dogs.

Thor looks younger amongst these children, probably feeling like one of them or maybe like a wiser older brother proud of his brood. He doesn’t want to open their eyes, so he plays by their rules, he leaves his rage and bloodthirstiness behind leaving only his shiny, noble front.

Loki thinks his brother is an idiot and lets him know about it from time to time. He doesn’t have a noble front to cover behind – he’s never had one, didn’t need one. He is as he is and as much as masks and half-truths are his forte, he makes no effort to conceal his true nature from surrounding mortals. He is Loki, God of Mischief, Silvertongue; he can spin tales that leave kingdoms in shambles and make brothers kill each other for no reason other than the fact that Loki can do it. He is not one to trifle with – he likes to make it known. Without Thor’s posture and obvious strength he always had to make himself visible on purpose. A leopard can disappear among the leaves, but a poisonous  lizard has to make itself visible in order to not get stepped on. Not to be underestimated. And not from fear, but for simple convenience – venom is precious, there’s no telling then it will be needed again.

Loki knows  that there’s no way to be visible next to his brother – all tall, golden, loud. He’s a formidable man himself, but Thor dwarfs every and all, and so Loki puts his worth into being as different from his brother as possible. Let him be green and black, a shadow to Thor’s light, always one step to the right, always present. He makes himself known for his doings – intelligence and ability to plot his way out of every situation, of designing schemes that bend and turn and tie together so seamlessly that no one other than him can understand them. He always plays with a full deck and a few spare Jacks on the side – but he never uncovers all of them.

He’s made his name along his brother’s, a darker kind of fame and regard. Mortals fear him and question him, and sometimes it pleases him. But they respect him as much, because his plans rarely fail and whatever he does always brings them closer to winning. Maybe not always  in ways they’d like to – but that’s the way mortals work, they’d like to be better than they are.

No war is won by good people. Only by people who are ready to do whatever  it takes.

Who can know it better than Aesir?

Thor knows this, but he likes to pretend he doesn’t. He treats this exile of his as a new adventure, a harmless play. And Loki can’t really detest him for that, even if they’ll never return home this way.

By Norns, Allfather was especially cruel this time. Banishing both of them! Together! And for what reason? Surely, Asgard grew used to their fights; there was enough time for it, and it’s not that they’ve ever hurt each other seriously. It was always like that between them, since the day Loki has managed to smack his brother with a wooden blade for the first time and proved that he can hold his own – the game was on. They never hated one another – Norns, no! – but they were both princes and Thor has always been so incredibly annoying...!

Comparing them to two squabbling washerwomen was certainly insulting enough – and even more so when it gave the Allfather an idea how to punish them.

Women’s forms – of all things! Being sent to Midgard and trapped there was evil, but having their bodies changed in such a way bordered on downright abuse! Loki will have to talk to Frigga about it. He won’t complain, oh no, but mentioning to his mother that in Odin’s mind being a woman is clearly a degrading thing... yes, it will be enough.

And to send them away together!

Their fool of a father probably thought that mutual suffering will bring them together as brothers, but that’s where the problem’s laid.

Thor was not suffering. At least he didn’t look like he was. God of Thunder acted no different in this form than in his old body. One would think that in his mind nothing changed.

And Loki sometimes feared that nothing really did. His brother was still his brother – still loud, still brave and strong, and still essentially himself. Loki had a theory that Thor is just too simple to be shaken by a change so big, that somewhere along the way his brain short-circuited and now was unable to cope. It was a sound theory, but for one thing. Mortals around them.

Thor, regardless of his gender, was still hopelessly... male. Without mistake, his body was nothing but feminine and quite beautiful – with high cheekbones, perfect proportions and lush curves in all the right places. God of Mischief thought with humour and an odd sense of terror that his brother could easily give Freja a run for her money.

And, while being the most perfect woman in existence, Thor was also the most masculine member of Avengers. His movements, speech patterns, language – they just screamed man!  And that was probably the reason why women’s reaction to the god never changed.

And why Loki’s reactions to his brother stayed embarrassingly the same.

Chapter Text

Seems that being a fighter for good on Midgard not only required specific character qualities – courage, ability to scream really loud, hopeless lack of self-preservation and, not in the least, mysterious urge to wear skin-tight costumes that made one look like a fashion disaster – but was also parallel to permanent brain-damage.

Loki could forgive his brother great many things, but not scaring him to death. Not that it was possible, and not that anyone would ever know that little bit of information, but Loki was sometimes appalled at the sheer disregard with which Thor seemed to treat his own life. Nothing was too big for a God of Thunder, no enemy too strong, especially here, on Midgard, in front of these children. Thor could just smile and rush into the heat of the battle, Mjölnir in hand, and no care in the world.

Usually it worked – if only because of the uncertainty that foolish bravado seemed to awaken in their enemies – but there were times when such primitivism was punished. And punished hard.

Loki was somewhat grateful for these rare moments, even if he had to first swallow his heart back to his chest before he could smirk. His brother needed lessons in humility more than anyone and every time they arrived the Trickster felt assured that the universe will take care of everything.

But sometimes universe was trying too hard.

“You breathe, brother?” Loki tried to sound cool and unbothered, but his eyes raked Thor’s prone body like a hawk’s. The falling building did weight a lot, add to that half a dozen explosives and Loki was astonished that his hastily erected shields managed to hold. Not in 100%, not even in 60... but they managed to fit into the tight margin between “barely saved his ass” and “sorry, I tried”.

And Thor looked the part. His clothes were torn and charred, he was smeared with sooth, burns shined red on his shoulders and tights. His breathing was fast and shallow, one bloody hand fastened on a handle of the hammer in a death grip - and Loki was once again reminded why he hated his sibling’s rashness. It was very bad for his heart.

But Thor was smiling, the moron!

“I live,” he managed to say. “All thanks to you, dear brother.”

That moron...

Loki sighted and rolled his eyes, but couldn’t stop a small smile that bowed his lips. Just a tiny one, barely there. He didn’t have time to point out that now they were even (in the saving department at least) when a duo of Avengers invaded. Captain America kneeled by Thor instantly, concerned and so very human, that Loki had to take a step back. He didn’t get far, when an iron hand smacked him on the shoulder.

“Nice job,” Tony Stark praised, lifting the mask of his suit. “Almost thought you won’t make it.”

Loki smirked and was just about to answer that his timing was always perfect, when he was drawn to the image of Thor trying to stand on his feet – while being helped by the Captain – and realised exactly how much damage Thunderer’s clothes has taken. The upper part of the garments was practically nonexistent and Thor’s leather pants fared only a little better. As it was, they were holding literally on threads. It was...

It drove home just how close the fire and rubble brushed over his brother and Loki didn’t like it one bit! And his annoyance grew once he realised that Ironman’s eyes strayed where they shouldn’t. As shrewd or unconcerned as Thor was with his own nakedness, he was still a son of Odin, not a cattle to be gawked at!

Steve Rogers also looked, but his eyes were mostly downcast and he was obviously uncomfortable. He kept looking to his own attire as if he would like nothing more than to take something off and offer it to the half-naked woman by his side; but his outfit sadly lacked the cape. Loki remembered briefly that Captain was raised in different times, when gestures like that were expected from men. For a second it looked like he’s about to remove his own shirt, but that would also leave him half-naked and that would be equally embarrassing.

Loki found this behaviour strangely... endearing. The fact that Captain has so much trouble with applying his courtesy to a woman who he knows is a man amused the Trickster to no end.

But Tony Stark was another matter as Loki knew exactly what's happening in the man’s brain. For all his genius, he was as simple as Fandral has ever been, but much less charming and well mannered. In truth, he deserved to have his eyes ripped out for gawking at a god’s – Loki’s brother’s! – body, but the God of Mischief stayed his hand. Stark was their host on Midgard and a reliable ally.

So he did the only other thing that came to his mind and that was shifting in a way that put him directly in the line of Ironman’s sight. He shrugged his furry coat off and handed it out to his brother.

“Cover you shame,” he spoke evenly.

“I am not ashamed,” Thor replied, subtly surprised by the gesture.

Of course he would be, Loki was not a nice person, especially not when someone can see.

“Mother would be aghast if she saw you in this state.” Mentioning Frigga was not a light thing, but it got the job done. Thor took the coat with one shaking hand and draped it over his shoulders; it was a little too small, but covered what it should.

“Thank you, brother,” Thor said and there was that knowing light in his eyes and that smile on his bruised lips and Loki just couldn't stand it anymore. His heart barely got to find a steady rhythm when his brother’s knees buckled and Thor fell forward, looking surprised himself.

He didn't touch the ground, however – broken concrete was covered with sharp rocks and pieces of glass, and Loki couldn't allow him to smack into that face-first. He just couldn't. Instead his own knees hit the broken rubble and he swore that it’s the last time... absolutely the last time when he saves that oaf!

“That’s enough!” he snapped, tightening his hold on Thor’s shoulders. His brother’s body was shaking from exhaustion and it was truly the last drop. “You are barely alive! I am taking you home, you big fool. Stark, you will have to finish here alone!”

He didn'tt wait for the answer – magic came to him readily and carried them trough space between dimensions, to the Mansion. Thor tried to protest – he’s never liked travelling this way, but was easily ignored. Loki appeared them in the biggest bathroom he could find – Stark’s, but some things can’t be helped – and pushed his brother, shoes, coat and all, into that enormous tub.

“Stay!” he ordered before walking out to get some medication and elixirs that will help Thor’s body heal.

On the way back he called a cup of mead to his hand and drained it in one go. He waited until his heart slows down before going back to the baths.

It would seem that fighting for good on Midgard requires much more than brain-damage; it also requires a heart made of brass and for the first time Loki was actually jealous of Tony Stark. 

Chapter Text

“Does it hurt here?” Loki asked and regretted it at the same time.

It was Thor, he forgot, the manliest of men, the invincible warrior – asking him that question made as much sense as trying to catch rain drop by drop.

So he changed his strategy. He pressed his fingers to the raw wound at his brother’s shoulder and said: “Tell me where the pressure is the worst.” This should work.

He was surprised, however, when Thor chuckled lightly and turned his head to the side,  blond hair spilling over the pillow, one blue eye looking at Loki with mirth.

“Everywhere hurts the same, brother,” he spoke, his voice hushed and tired. Seeing Loki’s shocked  expression, he chuckled once more. “I am not a stupid youth anymore, Loki, and I understand the merit of being truthful to one’s healer. It is not my intention to stay bedridden for the rest of the month.”

Look at that, even the most stubborn old hounds could be taught new tricks!

“Well, that’s good,” not that it was smart to show appreciation of said evolution. “Lay still then and I will make sure that you’ll be fit to crush skulls in two day’s time.”

This time the chuckle was wheezed and barely heard. Loki decided to ignore it and concentrated on work at hand – which meant pulling pieces of glass and concrete out of his brother’s back and sealing the wounds. Thor was quietly laying under him, face hidden in a fat pillow, naked. At any other time Loki would take pleasure in straddling such wonderful woman's body, but not when it belonged to his brother who was covered in purple bruises and in need of healing. He’s already took care of arms and legs, leaving the back for the last.

He worked in silence as a little pile of shards and pebbles on the bedside table grew steadily. It was sickening how much of them could his brother’s slim body hold. Sickening how much blood Thor could lose and still be alive – that was probably the reason he was to be the king of Asgard (if he won’t get killed before that, of course); nearly indestructible body could come in handy.

After all, wars on Midgard were child’s play compared to wars waged between other Realms. The highest of them all needed a strong King, one that could fight till the end and fall only after the last of his men were killed. Loki could see Thor in this scenario with no problem. It was quite frightening. 

“I’m sorry,” he lifted his hands when Thor’s body suddenly tensed. “But that shard is embedded deep...  Are you laughing again?”

“I am sorry, brother,” Thor spoke with mirth, once again glancing at Loki over his bandaged shoulder. “I merely find it amusing that every time I get hurt, I have a beautiful maiden taking care of my wounds.”

Loki’s  expression was not amused as he considered smacking his brother over the head and decided against it; far it be from him to undo his own healing.

Besides, he’s rarely got to be complimented  by his oaf of a sibling.

“So you find me beautiful, dear brother?” he asked, smirk firm on his lips, getting back to work.

“Of course,” Thor answered without delay. “Although I am still not so sure about the ‘maiden’ part of that statement. Maybe ‘beautiful witch’ would suit you better?”

This time it was Loki who chuckled and thought ‘Gods, good thing that I switched off every camera in the room,' because it would not do for others to see him and Thor this way. Not even taking Stark’s dubious gustoes into account, it would destroy the image Loki has been painstakingly building for himself. No, this him and this Thor were just for them alone and no one else’s.

He was Loki after all.

“You may go to sleep, you know? I am almost finished,” he spoke, rubbing the last of the healing balm into his brother’s back. It was a potent medicine, it should deal with the wounds in few hours.

But only if Thor won’t start struggling to get up, now!

“What are you doing! Lay still!” Loki had to rise on his knees when his brother twisted under him.

“I can’t sleep like that,” Thor growled, pointing at his... generously sized breasts. “They hurt if I lay on them. Truly, I never knew the hardships maidens have to go through because of their own bodies.”

Trust his brother to start respecting opposite gender only after he’s been thrust into their shoes.

“I trust you won’t be making fun of Sif when her ‘times’ arrive anymore?” he waged.

“I never made fun of her ‘times’” swore Thor honestly, gingerly settling on his aching back. “Not after I’ve seen what she’s done to the last man who tried! Trust me, brother, I’ve never before seen a Berserker running AWAY from the fight.”

That caused Loki to laugh out loud and lightly slap his brother’s tight.

“You boor!” he chided almost affectionately.

Thor looked at him with that mischievous look sparkling in his blue eyes and only then Loki realised the position they were in. He was straddling Thor’s waist, having most of that amazing body in front of him, naked... very naked. Thor’s bandaged hands were resting on Loki’s tights – not suggestive in any way, just there, signalling clearly that they can be anywhere in a blink of an eye...

Loki was yet again grateful that his body wasn’t his own at the moment. It would be impossible to hide his reaction to the situation then.

“You are healing,” he spoke with authority. “You almost died today. Go to sleep!”

He bent down to kiss Thor’s shapely brow and slid off him; although he wasn’t released yet.

“Thor...”

“What if the wounds open during my sleep?” even if he tried, God of Thunder couldn’t pull off innocence at a time like this. He’s managed a decent pout, however. “I trust in your healing but...”

“...it is a valid concern, taking into account how little you usually regard healer’s advice,” admitted Loki after a moment of fighting with himself. Oh, for the love of Norns, he was tired himself, nothing will happen if he stays for a few hours. “Move aside then, I shall keep an eye on you.”

“That will be the wisest course of action,” Thor agreed, struggling a little with the sheet to cover them both. “I would not have your hard work undone.”

Norns save us all, thought Loki laying his head on the pillow, when my brother learns to lie convincingly