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The next day is indeed entertaining, and both sides acquit themselves well although everyone agrees that Natasha was the clear winner of her fight with Fandral. Fandral offers a kiss as a forfeit, and to everyone’s surprise Natasha accepts.

The day passes with no sign of Loki. Thor cannot decide if that is a relief or a worry, and eventually comes to the conclusion that it is both. He is certain that any meeting between Loki and Thor’s companions would end badly, and he does not want to find out which party would be most to blame for it.

Before Thor is truly ready, it is time to return to the Bifrost site. He brings few possessions along and no clothing, an unspoken promise of his return. Most of the Avengers accompany them to say their farewells and to trade parting jibes, with Tony of course in the forefront of those ranks. Jane kisses him goodbye, Darcy is firmly dissuaded from attempting to sneak along with them (“First human in another realm! I could totally use that in my Anthro class!”), and then the Bifrost whisks them away.

Odin and Frigga are waiting for them when they arrive. Thor embraces them both, and feels a part of himself become whole that he hadn’t even realized was broken.

It is extremely strange to be back in Asgard. Everything looks both different and familiar, as if Thor has changed size since last he was there. Odin and Frigga escort them from Heimdall’s observatory (indistinguishable from the original, which only lends to Thor’s sense of unreality) and back to the palace. People have gathered to see him return and wave to him as he passes - it is the first time such a things has happened to Thor when there has not been a mighty battle or great victory to prompt it.

They will have their golden prince back, which I’m sure will be a great relief to them, Loki’s voice says in his head, and he shivers a little.

There is a great homecoming feast planned for the evening, so Thor retreats to his room to prepare and gather himself. The room is as he left it, although possibly cleaner; when he thinks to check he finds that the scattered bits of practice armor he left heedlessly on the table have been painstakingly dusted around and left undisturbed. It feels a little like walking into someone else’s bedchamber; he does not remember what purpose the carefully hoarded bits of leather strapping on the mantle were meant to serve, but they appear to have been important. Thor spends several minutes walking around the room and trying not to touch anything, and then he retreats to the balcony for air.

There are people outside. They all wave to him. He waves back and flees.

He ends up in Loki’s room; no one will be watching it and it at least is someone else’s space. Where Thor’s room had obviously been kept in a ready state, prepared for his return, Loki’s has an air of neglect. It is clean, of course - nowhere in the palace would not be - and still contains his things, but they have been tidied away in a final manner Thor can’t quite put his finger on.

Thor feels a lump grow in his throat. Loki suddenly seems very far away.

He calls Tony. Loki has a cell device of his own, given to him by the Avengers when it became apparent that he could be counted as at least a standby team-member and that Thor would be infinitely easier in his mind with a reliable way to reach his brother, but Thor does not think that he will answer it. Tony, attached as he is to his devices, answers immediately.

“Thor?” he says. “What happened, they kick you out and you need a ride?”

Thor laughs a little. “No, Tony, I am fine. I just wanted to check on my brother.”

There is dead silence from the other end of the cell. “Are you trying to tell me you’re calling from Asgard?” Tony demands incredulously, apparently struggling with the power of speech.

“Yes,” Thor says patiently. “I have a cell and I have in fact learned how to use it.”

“Great, good for you, not what I meant,” Tony says. “Thor, cell phones don’t reach to other realms. I built it so I would know. You can’t be talking to me right now, it is in fact impossible.”

“Would you like me to hang up?” Thor asks tiredly.

“No! Jesus, this makes some kind of history, I don’t know what, but I built the very first - “ he stops, then begins to laugh. “Oh, that sneaky bastard.”

Thor sighs. This conversation is less comprehensible than usual, and is making him miss his teammates greatly. “Tony, I just wish to know if my brother is well.”

“I’d say he’s fine,” Tony says, still laughing. “You realise he must have enchanted that phone so you could call us, right? I’ll have to tell Darcy she was right to introduce him to Doctor Who.”

“Oh!” Thor smiles, a warm feeling in his chest. “I understand. Please tell him thank you for me.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Tony says. “I’ve got to go. Be careful with your quaffing, I hear it can be hazardous.”

“Undoubtedly, but at least here everyone knows the words to ‘Odin’s Mighty Spear’ and most can keep to a single tune,” Thor says. “Be well, my friend.”

He calls Jane after Tony hangs up, and Loki next. As expected he finds a recording instead of his brother, but he leaves a message anyway. Loki will listen to it, if only because he is by nature too curious not to.