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The next day Thor leaves early to go hunting with Sif and the Warriors Three. It is a very enjoyable day - the weather is fine and Thor has missed the lush greenery of Asgard very much. New York, for all its charms, has little in the way of wilderness, and Puente Antigua had been flat and far too dry.

They fell a boar and return to the palace with it in the early afternoon. Fandral offers to spar, but Thor begs off and returns to his room, still a little overwhelmed by his return. It turns out to have been a good thing - his cell device, when he checks it, has received several messages, mostly from Natasha and Clint.

Thor reads through them, feeling his eyebrows rise, and immediately calls Steve.

“Hiya, Thor,” Steve says, his voice a little bit breathless.

“Hello, Steve,” Thor says. “Is my brother all right? I have received a number of odd messages. Clint wishes me to know that Loki is a...” Thor falters. “‘Deranged pervert’, and Natasha says several times in large letters that Loki is dead to her. Am I misunderstanding her intent or has something happened?”

Steve sighs. “Loki’s fine, Thor, and Natasha is fine and Clint is just being himself. Are you familiar with the phrase ‘acting out’?”

Thor deconstructs it hastily. “Is it to take action outdoors?”

“Ah, no. It means, more or less, that Loki feels... unsure, since you left, and he’s reacting... impishly.”

Thor translates this. “He is causing much mischief?”

“Yeah. Look, Thor, it’s really nothing to worry about. We know why he’s doing it and he’s not causing any permanent damage.”

Thor sighs. “I am sorry for this, Steve. Do you need me to return?”

“No, we can handle it,” Steve says reassuringly. “I think this will be good in the long run. Just keep in touch with him, even if he doesn’t answer back. I think that would help.”

“Of course,” Thor says, a little insulted.

After he has bidden Steve farewell, Thor feels a great restlessness take him over. He paces his room, picking things up and putting them down randomly. He considers going to find Fandral and the discards the idea; in this state he will be an inattentive combatant at best and a dangerous one at worst. He has dedicated so much of himself these last months to looking after his brother that without him Thor is adrift in the sensation that there is something important he ought to be doing and cannot.

Loki is causing mayhem with the Avengers, Thor is sure of it. He has seen Loki when he is feeling vindictive and provoked, and it can be an ugly thing. Steve does not sound worried, but surely if Thor was there...

Frustrated, Thor leaves his rooms at last. Darcy had told him once that ‘when the going gets tough the tough get Mom’, and it isn’t a bad idea. Darcy had been speaking of Coulsson at the time, but Frigga has long been one of Loki’s staunchest supporters and it was she who persuaded them to leave Asgard in the first place. It is possible she will have some insight, and it is probable that she will appreciate some news of her son. Her other son, Thor thinks bitterly. The one no one will talk about.

He finds his mother in her rooms, at her weaving. Insensitive to magic though he is Thor can see that what she makes is a powerful thing, but she sets her work aside to greet him.

As he had guessed, Frigga is eager for news of Loki, and listens attentively as Thor chronicles their journey from Asgard, through Puente Antigua, and finally to the Avengers. It is very good to speak to someone who loves and understands his brother as he does, and Thor finds himself talking for quite some time.

Finally, he is finished. Dark has fallen and dinner must have started, but Frigga makes no move to dismiss him. He sits at her feet and lets her stroke his hair as she did when he and Loki were children.

“Mother,” he says after a quiet moment of contemplation has passed. “Why did Sif prevent me from speaking of Loki at the banquet last night?”

His mother’s hand stills in his hair. “Thor... this is going to be difficult for you to hear. I know it is difficult for me.”

Thor moves until he can see his mother’s face. “Please tell me. I need to know.”

“I know,” Frigga says sadly. “I know you do. Your brother... is being held responsible for the attacks on Jotunheim.”

Thor frowns. “Well, yes, but he did - “ he stops. “‘Attacks’? Both of them?”

Frigga nods. “It was the only way your father could secure your return and repair our treaty with Jotunheim. It is true they are weak now, Thor, but taking advantage of the weak is a terrible thing and does no good for anyone.”

Thor gapes at her. “So it’s all right to blame Loki? This whole mess began because of my stupidity! It is not right!”

“I know, my son. It is good that you take responsibility for your actions but Loki also - “

“Loki’s actions were no different from my own!” Thor protests, getting to his feet. “I tried to destroy the Jotun, Loki tried to destroy the Jotun, the only difference was that Loki was more efficient! And for that he is banished while I am welcomed home like a hero?” Injustice swells in his heart. His brother is a broken thing now, healing but still damaged, and this feels like the worst sort of reprisal.

“And you returned from your banishment to save them,” Frigga says, getting to her feet as well. “It is ugly, Thor, I understand your - “

“So if I tried to destroy them again and Loki stopped me, that would make him a hero?” Thor demands, anger making his voice tremble. “I can do that, you understand, I will - I’m his brother and somebody has to stand up for h-”

“Thor!” Frigga’s voice cracks like a whip. “Control yourself. You are overwrought.” Thor reins himself in immediately; Frigga wields her full authority rarely but when she does it is wise to take heed. “You are young and you have had the luxury of acting how you please. It is time you learned that duty takes precedent whether you like it or not.”

“Politics,” Thor says bitterly, his voice dripping with scorn.

“Politics,” Frigga agrees, every inch the Queen of Asgard. “Your brother was good at it. It is time you learned to be a little more like him.”

Thor storms back to Loki’s room in a terrible fury. He throws himself down on the bed, intentionally mussing the perfect blankets and tidy bedding.

i hate asgard, he writes to Loki, and then gets up and moves through his brother’s room, intentionally setting things out of place until the chamber looks lived in once more. He knows he is probably only causing irritation for the blameless household servants, but it seems like an important thing to do.

The cell device chimes with Loki’s reply.

Too bad. They love you.