The Avengers’ first battle as a team goes very well. They are pitted against a small army of mutated creatures which are both fast and deadly, but their teamwork and training are sound and they roust their enemies handily. Afterwards, buoyed by fighting spirit and camaraderie, they repair to a tavern for celebration. Due to his unique metabolism only Steve is able to match Thor’s consumption of boilermakers; after a while even Natasha begins to look glassy-eyed, and they return home to put their teammates to rest.
Loki takes in their state resignedly - he had been sitting in the living room reading when they returned.
“You all tried to keep pace with Thor, didn’t you,” he says. Bruce and Steve, the only two still sober, sigh in fellow feeling. “Please just tell me he didn’t teach you any - “
Steve makes a frantic silencing gesture, but it is too late - Clint and Tony have started in on the chorus to ‘Odin’s Mighty Spear’. Loki winces.
“All right,” Bruce says with a groan, “Let’s get them to bed. Loki, can you handle your brother?”
They stumble down to Thor’s room, only encountering mishaps once or twice. Loki has always been slighter than his brother and his recent melancholy has exacerbated this trait, so Thor assumes that Loki must be using some of his magic to aid the process.
“No, Thor,” Loki says. “I just have a great deal of practice with this.”
Thor’s eyebrows rise. Surely Loki just stole the very thought out of his head! Truly, his brother is an impressive creature.
“No, Thor,” Loki says again, patiently. “You said that out loud.”
“Oh!” Thor must be significantly more inebriated than he had thought. “Captain Steve is a mighty drinker.”
“Steve’s metabolism actually prevents him from getting drunk at all, which is something I am positive he explained to you. More than once.”
“That explains why he was still so...” Thor waves one hand, nearly oversetting them both. “...buttoned. By the time we left.”
Loki snickers. “I am forever going to think of him as ‘buttoned’ now. Thank you.”
They lurch sideways into a small table that serves no apparent purpose. Thor chuckles manfully.
“Stop giggling, Thor, you sound ridiculous.”
They continue their wobbly way down the corridor, until at last they reach Thor’s door. Loki fumbles with the doorknob - Thor tries to help, but keeps missing it - and finally gets in, across the room (rather more hazardous an endeavour than Thor had remembered) and deposits Thor on the bed, where he promptly tilts over sideways. “You’re my favorite brother,” he tells Loki fondly as Loki tugs at his boots. “I’m glad I chose you over everybody else.”
Loki stops and raises his head, looking at Thor with a strange expression. Thor takes the opportunity to pet him. Loki has resumed his habit of slicking his hair back, but however he does it makes it still feel soft. Not like it did when Darcy fixed it for him in Puente Antigua.
“I’m your only brother, Thor,” Loki says, still with that strange expression.
“Yes,” Thor says, beaming at him.
“Get some rest,” Loki says softly. “Even you might be hungover tomorrow.”
Thor stretches happily and rolls over onto his back. He feels warm and loose, content with the world. Tomorrow he may be ill, but for tonight there are the quiet sounds of Loki moving about the room and the gentle way he touches Thor’s shoulder after he thinks Thor’s asleep.