His eyes are open, but he cannot see.
Everything is rushing around him in a blur of bright colors in muted tones—a paradox, but one that leaves his head spinning and his vision adding rainbow spots to the darkness of the void. There’s the strangest sensation of falling, and mentally, he knows that he is. But then there’s the stillness of everything around him. Though there are colors all around, he feels still.
Loki reaches out with his magic, and suddenly, everything stops.
He’s managed to freeze everything around him, and he realises for the first time that the colors are really miniscule runes, glowing and twinkling at him. Curiously, he reaches out to the nearest one, and then—
Thor is six; Loki is three and twenty-four.
Loki finds himself in a garden. At first, he wonders if he’s home again; this is his favorite garden in all of Asgard. When he takes a look around, he realises that he is not home. He sits down and thinks, because that is what Loki Odinson—no, Laufeyson—does best. He comes to the conclusion that this must be some sort of alternate reality. Perhaps he’s gotten into another universe. It’s not so rare; it’s happened to him before.
He hears rustling, and a small blond boy tumbles into the grass from the bushes right in front of Loki.
Loki cannot take his eyes off of this boy.
This boy looks like the one from his memories. The child’s dark-blue eyes will lighten as he ages; his sandy hair will shine like burnished gold. The baby fat that hides his cheekbones now will vanish in due time, revealing a face that women and men will swoon over. He is small now, but soon, he will grow and tower over many. The charm he exudes will stay with him the rest of eternity.
This is the Thor of Loki’s memories.
‘Surely,’ Loki thinks, ‘I cannot have fallen into my own memories?’
He dismisses the thought when Thor crawls over to Loki curiously, pressing a hand to his cheek. He has no memories of this. And if they were memories, then wouldn’t he be barred somehow from interacting with the people within them?
“You’re pretty,” Thor grins, and Loki can see the gap where his front teeth used to be. He remembers that; Thor had knocked them out when he tried to fly and had to wait another two years for the permanent set to grow in. “I like pretty.”
“Insolent child,” Loki snorts, but it comes out fond because he cannot put any anger into his voice. This is the brother that he idolized and toddled after. Even when he did the stupidest things, the younger him had Thor up on a pedestal. “You should be more careful, Thor.”
“What’s your name?” Thor is smiling at him; bashfully, Loki notices. Of course, Thor didn’t ask him how he knows his name. He is the crown prince; of course everyone knows who he is.
“Loki,” He answers, and instantly, he wants to take it back because he just gave Thor his real name and by the branches of Yddrasil, why did he do that?
“I have a brother named Loki,” Thor responds almost immediately, completely oblivious to Loki’s mental crisis. He looks at the ground with red cheeks. “’S not as pretty as you though.”
Loki blinks, and he turns his head to hide the small smile on his face. It’s unexpected how such a small compliment from a child—even if it is Thor—can make his heart lift, if even a little. He mulls it over and a small chuckle escapes his mouth because Thor just called him prettier than himself. Children always speak so bluntly; it’s funny.
“Loki, why is it getting harder to see you?” Thor asks. He’s frowning, little eyebrows furrowed as he stares at Loki’s fading body.
It’s the frown that gets him. Loki’s never liked it when Thor was sad. Not when he was young and his brother was the most amazing person he knew, and not when he’s older and envious of Thor because everyone loves him.
“You’ll see me later, I promise,” Loki smoothes Thor’s messy hair as best as he can. He remembers this day now. Thor had snuck out of the nanny’s care to visit him in his little nursery. He had come in rambling about pretty men in the gardens and ghosts and—“Don’t forget to visit your brother.”
“Don’t go!” Thor pleads, and though Loki feels a desire to stay, he knows he can’t.
“I’ll come back,” Loki promises. Black is creeping into his vision now, and he closes his eyes. Thor’s voice fades and then he’s back in the void, colors blurring all around him. Loki’s too tired to try this again.
(Loki wakes up a few hours later—or, what feels like it—and reaches out with his magic again. This time, he reaches for a small rune glowing red.)
Thor is seven; Loki is four and twenty-four.
Thor is sleeping.
It’s not dark, so he must be taking a nap. Loki takes a look around the room and he pauses when he sees a drawing tacked onto the wall. He moves closer to it, running a finger down the smooth parchment. ‘thor and loki’ is written in a child’s messy scrawl and where someone else would assume that it’s Thor’s, Loki knows better; this is his handiwork.
The figure that is Thor is drawn in red and the one that is Loki is in green. They are disproportionate and the sun is purple, for some reason. For reasons unknown, there’s another figure next to Thor. He spies in slightly neater scrawl—shocking, considering Thor’s three year head start on handwriting—the words ‘my secret friend’.
Thor’s secret friend is drawn with much greater care than the four-year-old Loki showed to the drawing of Thor and Loki. He’s visibly taller than Thor and Loki, with green garments and a golden helmet. His dark hair peeks out from underneath the horned helmet and green eyes take up half of his face. He hasn’t seen this picture since the day they drew it.
The smile on Loki’s face has been the most genuine that he’s felt in a long, long time.
“You lied to me,” Thor’s voice calls softly from his massive bed.
Loki turns around, taking large strides until he sits on the edge of Thor’s bed. He addresses the boy with a wry smile, “I did not.”
“You said you’d come back soon,” Thor pouts. “I’m seven now.”
“Technically, I said later.” Loki tucks a stray lock of hair behind Thor’s ear. “And it is soon—for me. I saw you four, maybe five, hours ago.”
Thor’s eyes are wide and his mouth gapes. “But…but I saw you a year ago!”
“Ah, ah, ah!” Loki taps Thor’s lips with his index finger. He’s only just figured it out himself. “You see Thor, I’m a time traveler.”
“No one can travel through time!” Thor sounds confident in his limited knowledge. He’s so sure of himself even at this young age that it makes Loki crack a small smile.
“I can,” Loki drums his fingers on the blankets, as Thor looks at him with wide eyes. “Ask Heimdall.” He’s not afraid of what the gatekeeper will say. The knowledge of everything horrible that Loki has done won’t be passed onto Thor; even the stoic gatekeeper won’t have it in him to tell the little boy that Thor is, now.
“Will you go with me?” Thor whispers, “I’m not supposed to be out by myself.”
“That never stopped you,” Loki says without thinking, and he knows he’s made a mistake when Thor’s eyebrows draw together in confusion. Before Thor can ask, Loki answers, “I’ve known you since I was born. Here, take my hand.”
As Thor takes his hand and Loki teleports them onto the very outskirts of Asgard, Thor tilts his head to the side in confusion. “Are we friends in the future?”
Loki doesn’t know how to answer this. Friends? He supposes, though he’s never considered Thor a friend. To him, friends are supposed to accept you for what you were and what you liked. His Thor has always been far harsher to him than any friend; he likes to make fun of Loki for dabbling in magic instead of weaponry like the rest of Asgard.
But somehow, feeling the smooth, small hand of this Thor, Loki cannot bring himself to say otherwise. “Yes,” He hesitates, “I suppose we are.”
Thor can hear the hesitation in his voice, but there’s no time to call Loki out on it because the gatekeeper stands only a few feet away. “Heimdall!”
“You are a long way from home, Prince of Asgard,” Heimdall speaks as if to Thor, but both Loki and he know that he’s talking to Loki.
“Heimdall, this is my friend Loki! He’s super nice but he says he’s a time traveler and they don’t exist, do they?” Thor says quickly, completely ignoring Heimdall’s question.
Heimdall is silent, fixing his golden eyes on the young Thor. Then he turns his stony gaze to Loki, who suddenly feels an onslaught of guilt. He’s always hated it when Heimdall looked at him like that. Heimdall speaks, “Loki travels through time,” and as Thor’s eyes get even bigger (which Loki thought was impossible), Heimdall adds with a sardonic smile, “But he must realise why before he can return home.”
“Why?” Loki repeats incredulously. He didn’t think that there could be a purpose to this time-travelling nonsense; he is under the assumption that sooner of later, he will find his way home.
“Of course,” The gatekeeper’s voice is calm, steady, and it soothes Loki’s fears somewhat. “But remember, this has already happened.” Heimdall sounds amused, “And if it makes you feel any better, you will return to your own time when you realise the purpose.”
Thor grips Loki’s hand tighter, “You’re like a knight! A time-travelling knight!”
“Do you believe me now?” Loki smiles at Thor, but on the inside, he’s thinking, ‘What purpose?’
“Even if he doesn’t, he will soon.” Heimdall smiles at Thor. “Stick around long enough, and we’ll see him disappear.”
“I already have! But what I don’t understand is how,” Thor says, and when he turns back to Loki, the other man has already started to fade away. “Loki!”
“I’ll see you soon,” Loki shouts, but it’s sounds like a whisper. Most of his vision has already gone dark, and he can’t feel Thor’s hand in his anymore. “Wait for me!”
“I will!” Thor’s voice is loud.
Then, he’s back with colors zooming past him and Loki wants to cry.
It’s been so long since he’s been happy in Thor’s presence. It’s so different to be with a Thor that will smile at him and treat him kindly than one who ignores him and distances himself. Their easy friendship disappeared with the rest of their childhood. Thor had an easy transition from boy to man. Loki remembers being awkward and gangly and his limbs too long to know what to do with and tripping over things. But he adjusted, and when the day Loki finally grew into his looks arrived, Thor greeted him enthusiastically one day and then shut him out since.
Loki curls up into himself and cries for the brother he lost long before any of this banishment nonsense happened.
He doesn’t know how long it’s been since he saw Thor last.
The younger Thor, his Thor; it doesn’t matter. He just wants to see Thor. There’s a voice inside his mind telling him not to be stupid, that there’s no reason Thor would want to see him. Loki reasons that even if that were true, he still wants to get out of this swirling, bottomless pit of colors. Heimdall mentioned that he needs to find out why he’s travelling through time before he can return to his own.
(Surely, if he leaves this mass of darkness and color, he’s going to find out faster.)
Thor is twenty; Loki is seventeen and twenty-four.
When he sees Thor, the first thing he notices is that Thor isn’t smiling at him.
In fact, this Thor is treating him just like his own Thor does—cold and with indifference. He’s standing in the garden when Thor rounds the corner and walks by him like he hasn’t seen Loki. By now, Loki’s missed Thor more than he can admit, and his mouth-to-brain filter isn’t quite working.
“I get grief for not seeing you one year and nothing for—well, I’m not quite sure, but you don’t seem past twenty yet, so I’m going to go with ten years?” Loki snarks, and it’s embarrassing. It’s nowhere near his usual, cutting remarks, but he can’t bring himself to really dig a knife into his brother’s—no, adopted brother—heart.
It must be something that he said, because Thor pauses and inclines his head towards Loki with a hopeful smile on his face. “Loki?”
“Yes, it’s me.” Loki rolls his eyes, making a grand bow complete with a sweeping gesture of his hand. “Now tell me, Thor, how old are you again?”
“Just turned twenty,” Thor breathes and fuck, his smile isn’t hopeful anymore—it looks like Loki’s supercharged him with lightning because it’s that bright. Thor takes long strides towards Loki, pulling him into a tight hug as he whispers into his ear, “I’ve missed you.”
“Yes, well, it was my fault,” Loki smoothes his brother’s hair—it’s not fair that Thor is twenty here and he’s twenty-four and he still has to stand on the tips of his toes in order to whisper into Thor’s ear. “Don’t get too used to apologies, brother.” (‘Not brother,’ Loki reminds himself, ‘I’m an imbecile. He thinks we’re two different people.’) “I did say soon.”
“I saw you not a week ago,” Thor pulls back, eyebrow raised as he traces the contours of Loki’s jaw line with a strong thumb. “Or are you a different Loki?” Before Loki can ask—how can there be others?—Thor’s laugh booms and he leans his forehead against Loki’s. “I’ve told you before, though I presume you don’t remember, that you popping in and out of my life in random order will not help me at all.”
“You’ve seen me many times then?” Loki asks, “Since you were seven?”
“Twice or thrice every couple of years,” Thor shrugs, but he still looks so happy. “I am always lucky if I see you more than once a year.”
Even in the darkness of night, Loki can tell that Thor is telling the truth. Actually, it’s pretty dark, which brings him to his next question, “Thor, why are you in the gardens this time of night?”
Thor is hesitant to speak, but with the silence looming upon them both, he speaks somewhat haltingly. “I…like to look at the stars; they remind me…of you.” He turns away and does not look at Loki, “When I’m out here even if you are not here, I feel closer to you than I do—” Thor breaks off, but then he steels himself to continue, “Than I do with the Loki in my time, though you are one and the same.”
Loki’s eyes widen. “But if we are one and the same, then would you not cherish your time with the younger Loki more?”
“How can I cherish my time with him more than my time with you when he is not the one I—spent years sharing secrets and telling stories to?” Loki knows that Thor was going to say something else, but he does not press because he knows that Thor will only deny it and change the subject.
“He loves you,” is all Loki can think of to say. It’s what he wishes that he could have told his own Thor before he ruined his coronation. He did, in fact, tell Thor, but prior to that, he had been accused of insincerity by Thor and immediately after, Loki cracked a joke that downplayed his words. “I know he does.”
“Do you love me, though?” Thor asks.
But Loki cannot answer. His vision blurs and he tries to answer in the affirmative before he’s completely gone. Back in the void, Loki grabs his hair with both hands and screams into the silence. No one answers, and his own voice is swallowed up immediately. There is no echo to indicate that it had been there at all.
(Almost blindly, he halts the moving runes and reaches out because he wants to see Thor again; he has to see Thor again—)
Thor is ten; Loki is seven and twenty-four.
Loki decides that life truly isn’t fair. Thor grins up at him with blue eyes and a happy smile, and Loki is happy, truly, but this was not the Thor he wanted to see.
“I missed you,” Thor says softly, and Loki pauses, for he’s never heard Thor so calm and quiet at this age. He lifts his hand, palm facing Thor, and wonders if Thor and this time’s Loki has invented their little game yet. Thor mirrors the gesture, pressing his palm against Loki’s. “Loki, why don’t you ever stay?”
It’s both a question he doesn’t know the answer to and did not expect. But there’s something about the way Thor looks at him with complete and utter trust in those large eyes that makes Loki adamant about telling him the truth. “I don’t know.”
“I asked Heimdall and he said that you have to want to stay.” Thor says stubbornly, crossing his arms over his chest. He’s giving Loki a pout, which even the Trickster has to admit is the adorable pout he’s ever been the victim of. “So the answer must be that you don’t like me enough to.”
“I like you plenty,” Loki smiles briefly, ruffling Thor’s blond hair. “But I haven’t figured how to stay yet.” He leans down to Thor’s level, “Maybe it’s because you have a perfectly good Loki in your time.”
Thor gives him his confused face. “What?”
“Oh right.” The twenty-year-old Thor was right; Loki hopping around in non-sequential order is quite confusing. He’s already gotten so many things mixed up. “You have a brother, do you not?”
“Take care of him first, little princeling,” Loki replies, “He needs all the love he can get.” His apathetic expression slips and Thor sees the regretful smile Loki dons. “He’s lonely, you know. All he wants is for his big brother to play with him.”
“But Loki’s so little!” Thor complains. “He doesn’t like playing with me anyway; all he likes to do is read.”
Loki remembers crying amongst the tomes in the great library of the palace. He remembers mumbling to his mother—Frigga, he thinks sternly—about how Thor never wanted to play with him. Then he thinks about the happiness that would well up inside of him whenever Thor forcibly dragged him out to play Damsels and Dwarves. He recalls how desperate he was—still is—for Thor’s approval and his attention.
“I promise you; Loki likes playing with you,” Loki says quietly.
Then, he’s back in the void and Loki feels…content since falling off of the Bifrost. There’s something about seeing Thor, but not seeing his Thor, that makes everything seem a little bit better. His relationship with his brother has always been complicated; he never felt like Thor was ever really his. Looking back, he realises with an almost bitter sort of manner that Thor was always his; it was just a different him from a different time that had Thor.
Loki finds it ironic that all these years, he’s been jealous of himself and he didn’t even know it.
He was jealous because whoever it was that occupied Thor’s thoughts occupied Thor’s thoughts. He was always vying for his brother’s attention, trying to be what Frigga was to Odin. He wanted to be the sense to Thor’s recklessness, the dark prince to Thor’s golden king. He’s spent all this time running away from his love, hiding it away in the deepest corner of his heart where none could reach, save Thor.
“And to think,” He murmurs, “all this time, I was jealous because I thought Thor was in love with someone. I never even had a chance.”
Time passes, but Loki is unsure of how long it’s been. But he misses Thor, even if his brother cannot love him the way he loves Thor. He wonders what the point of all this is. Was this the purpose in sending him through time? Realising that he spent years wasted on jealousy and tears when he had no reason to?
(Like one who has an addiction, Loki calls the runes to stop. He picks the one the color of Thor’s eyes.)
Thor is nineteen; Loki is sixteen and twenty-four.
Loki’s content to just watch Thor and himself from a distance.
Thor is sparring with the Loki from his time; large swords and daggers are the weapons that they have chosen, respectively. Though Thor is good with a broadsword, Loki is better with his knives. Both of them are young; they are lanky where they are now muscular (and in Loki’s case, lean instead of muscular.) Watching the two of them, Loki cannot help but notice that the young Loki has had several opportunities to end the spar.
But he sees the way the younger Loki’s green eyes linger on Thor’s biceps as he swings the broadsword at his brother. The knife-wielding Loki barely misses being nicked by Thor many times because the sun shines too brightly on Thor.
He smiles. Like all his other smiles, it reflects the pain he feels in his heart. Loki does not smile easily; he is much more prone to sly words and false grins plastered on to fool others. He’s noticed that whenever he smiles, it’s because he finds himself on the verge of tears or trying to ignore the pang in his chest.
Loki teleports himself to the edge of the Bifrost, where Heimdall is waiting. He looks at the gatekeeper with mournful eyes, “Heimdall, what was the reason for this whole thing?”
“It has happened before, and so, must happen again, Son of Odin,” Heimdall answers. Before Loki can correct him, the other man continues, “You have always known your own motives, young prince, but have you ever considered your brother’s? You always do things based on your own judgment.” He fixes Loki with his burning, golden gaze, “Your own desire to avenge yourself against those who have wronged you led to your fall into the void.”
“What would you know of my heartbreak?” Loki snaps.
Heimdall does not laugh; he’s Heimdall. Instead, his expression is the same as it always is: blinking and calm to the point of infuriating. “I know enough to know the real reason behind your decision to lie to your brother about your father’s death, your decision to send the Destroyer to ensure that your brother would not return to Midgard after he had fallen in love with the mortal woman,” Suddenly, his gaze softens and Loki realises that it’s pity.
“I need not your pity, Gatekeeper.” Loki says stiffly.
“Loki Laufeyson, the lost Crown Prince—no, King—of Jötunheim. Loki Odinson, second Prince of Asgard. You couldn’t have your brother, so you wanted the throne.” Heimdall’s laugh is short and sounds like a bark, “You always had the throne—just not the one you wanted. But there are other things that you have and do not know.”
“Like what?” Loki snaps, but Heimdall dodges the question easily.
“It seems that you will be returning to the void soon.” Heimdall says as he looks up at the stars. “Do you have a message for me to relate to the young Thor before you leave?”
Loki blinks, but he can feel his face lifting into a cheerful smile. It’s strange; he hasn’t smiled from happiness in a long time. “Tell Thor,” He shakes his head as he chuckles, “Tell him that I miss him, always.”
“It seems that I must tell you something,” Heimdall says as Loki begins to fade away, “The colors of the runes correlate to the moment of his life you will pop in on.”
Then it was dark again.
Loki wonders briefly if time moves differently in the void.
It may have been years since he last saw his Thor. It may have been hours. He wonders if Thor misses him at all, but then he remembers that mortal woman—Jane?—and finds both comfort and guilt in the fact that because of him, Thor cannot see her until the Bifrost is fixed.
All Loki knows for sure is that the golden runes must be the ruins that would take him into Thor’s twenties.
The blue ones lead him to Thor’s late teens; the red ones lead him to any year under ten; the green ones take him to the years he makes an impact on his own life through Thor.
He refuses to touch the gold ones.
Loki’s seen Thor over twenty times since the first accidental discovery of what he is able to do in this seemingly timeless, motionless void.
Every single moment, he remembers with clarity. At seventeen, he manages to convince Thor to include the then-fourteen Loki in his hunting excursions. He rationalizes this by thinking to himself that he did not actually find Thor physically attractive until he hit sixteen, so camping should be fine. Then, at nine, he has Thor read bedtime stories to the six-year-old Loki even though Loki probably has better reading skills than his elder brother. In the most recent visit—eighteen—he has finally revealed to Thor that he and the fifteen-year-old Loki are the same person, just from different times. Thor, that self-confident teenager, says smugly that he suspected as much, for how else would Loki know so much about his brother when, to Thor’s knowledge, they had never met?
The one visit that stands out in his mind is the third one—where Thor had been twenty and tried to cover up his verbal mistakes.
But what had that mistake been?
Loki tries to remember, but he can’t. All the years are blurring together in his mind and it suddenly hits him that he cannot distinguish his childhood of a brother that cared and the teen years where he avoided him at all costs from the years he relived with Thor where the other man adores him.
Another realization hits him just as suddenly, but Loki shakes his head.
Thor could never…
“How can I cherish my time with him more than my time with you when he is not the one I—spent years sharing secrets and telling stories to?”
He was going to say something else.
Loki is gripped by the sudden desire to know what it was that Thor was about to say before he tried to cover it up.
(He reaches for a golden rune.)
Thor is twenty-seven; Loki is twenty-four and twenty-four.
“Brother,” Thor looks up from where he is seated. He looks just as defeated as Loki remembers; he is unshaven and bloody gashes mar his handsome face. He looks so much older than his twenty-seven years, the consequences of his actions catching up to his conscience at last. “Why have you returned? Is it something else?”
Returned, Thor said.
That means that the Loki that exists in this time right now has already been to visit Thor. He has already spun his lies and broken the heart of the man he loves in the only way he knows how.
“Thor,” Loki murmurs quietly, eyeing the man in front of him with sad eyes. He brushes a lock of his dark hair out of his eyes. Only moments ago, for him, Thor had been eighteen and happy, ready to take on the world headfirst and so the carefree boy Loki had fallen in love with. “You know what I do. You know what they call me.”
Thor is silent. Of course, he must know what they call his brother. Everyone in the nine realms knows of Loki and the reputation he has. There is no one that speaks of Loki with admiration, save the most commonplace tricksters that wish to emulate him.
Loki Silvertongue, Loki the Liesmith. He weaves lies as if they were truths. He can get out of many bad situations with his silver tongue that convinces the innocent that they are the guilty party, not he.
“Liesmith,” Loki whispers. A tear slides down his cheek and he notices that Thor has suddenly stiffened. He has never cried in front of Thor before. “Rule number one: I always lie.”
“Brother—“ Thor begins, but Loki cuts him off harshly.
“I’m not your brother!”
Unlike the void, his voice echoes here.
But no one will come in; Loki has made sure of that. He watches Thor through tear-blurred eyes and Loki knows that he must look like a sight. He wipes away his tears with the back of his sleeve almost angrily, “What did you mean, Thor? When you were twenty and I asked you why you didn’t cherish your time with the seventeen-year-old me more than the one that only stayed in your life for a few minutes at a time? You were going to say something else, originally.” He glares at Thor with red-rimmed eyes, “I want to know what.”
It hurts him to be this brutal to Thor, but it’s the only way he knows to be. Being back here, seeing Thor like this, looking like a mortal, only brings back memories that he wants to forget.
Thor does not love him.
He feels foolish for even considering it as a possibility in the first place. If Thor had loved him, then why hadn’t he acted upon it instead of ignoring him? If Thor had loved him, why hadn’t he said anything? Thor isn’t known for being subtle. If Thor was in love with him, then why was he in love with Jane Foster?
“You are my Loki,” Thor breathes and Loki feels more tears trying to force their way out. Thor, his golden Thor that is now more tarnished gold than anything, reaches for him, but he steps away. “Loki, you have never refused my embraces before.”
“You have never lied to me before,” Loki hisses in return. He knows how hypocritical he is being; he’s lied to Thor plenty of times.
“No,” Thor murmurs, “I have lied to you for most of our lifetime,” He turns his pleading blue eyes, the shade that he has loved for years and years, to Loki, “I have never told you about…you. I have never told you why I am always so distant with you. I have never told you that Heimdall told me that you are a Jötun. I have never told you that Heimdall told me that you are in love with me.”
Loki physically recoils from Thor, his eyes wide. He’s wondering why he hasn’t returned to the void yet, but he suspects he might be getting closer to knowing what he’s supposed to know and that may be why. “You have not answered my question.”
“I…How could I cherish the time I spent with the you that was of my time more than the time I spent with you when that one was not the one…” Thor inhales sharply, “…that I’m in love with?”
Loki laughs, and it is a bitter sound that resembles a strangled cry than a laugh. “It would seem they named the wrong brother to be the Liesmith.” He steps closer to Thor, “Your lies are clever, brother, but if you are in love with me, then it explains nothing.” Loki steps back again and gestures at the room around him grandly, though it is small and bare. “Explain away Jane Foster and your love for her. Explain away your distance when we were growing up.”
“You were not yet the Loki I loved,” Thor says simply.
“But you were always the Thor I loved,” Loki retorts and he feels so angry and so sad at the same time. He feels vindictive in a way that he hasn’t felt since watching Thor woo his mortal woman. It’s strange how Loki can tolerate fondly Thor at any age except now. He leans in close and sneers at Thor, “You said once, long ago, that you didn’t understand how I travelled through time. I’ll tell you.” He knows he must look mad, but really, he’s just angry. “You will return to Asgard, Thor, and you will fight the me that is out there acting as King.”
“I refuse to fight you,” Thor says and his eyes are sad, tired.
Loki continues as if he hasn’t spoken, “You will use Mjölnir to destroy the Bifrost, leaving behind your precious Jane, and then…” He laughs bitterly, “when we’re both hanging onto Gungnir, I will let go and fall to what I hope is my death because I will realise that you will never love me as much as you love your mortal wench,” Loki pauses to take a deep breath, “And then I will find myself in the void, unable to return, unable to do anything except fall. And when I tire of falling, I will use sorcery to stop, but I will always return to the void. That is how I travel through time, Thor.”
“Knew?” Loki finishes and he laughs. It’s almost a cackle, really. “Of course not. I made sure never to tell you, and I forbade Heimdall. And the best part of all this is that you may think that you can prevent this from happening now that I’ve told you, but the truth is that it already happened. The Loki you loved will only exist after he falls into the void. So really, you have to let him fall.” Suddenly, Loki stops speaking and he is tired. He knows he must look it. “I loved you. I love you still.”
He can feel the familiar fading and he hears Thor cry, “Loki!”
“I’m still falling, Thor, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to you. Not for good anyway.” Loki whispers.
And then he’s gone.
He hates it in here, this never-ending darkness.
He hates that the only thing he can do is weave himself through every facet of Thor’s life, always chasing the storm that is his golden brother. There’s no end to this that he can see and everything hurts right now. Loki wishes that the look of pain that he saw on Thor’s face before he vanished can be erased from his memory. Thor had looked so defeated, so heartbroken.
A bitter laugh escapes him and he’s says chokingly, “I’m part of a love triangle in which the conflicting parties both happen to be me.”
The him that exists but hasn’t traveled through time yet is in love with Thor, Thor is in love with the him that does travel through time, and he is in love with Thor.
“What makes me so different than myself?” Loki questions with a wavering voice. “I am still myself. Thor just never got to know me.” He braces himself for the words he does not wish to say aloud, “Had he gotten to know me, he would have known that it was never I who changed, but he.”
It does not excuse Thor for loving him and loving Dr. Foster, but it does shed a little light. If Thor was in love with the him that never stayed for more than an hour, obviously he would seek fulfillment in his love life from a source that seemed likely to stay. But he remembers the kiss with a burning in his heart.
Had Thor not fallen in love with Dr. Foster, he would not have sent the Destroyer to ensure that Thor would not return. He had not ordered the Destroyer to kill his brother, but in his jealousy, he wanted the human woman to die, thus Thor would never have a reason to return to Midgard.
“I hate you, Thor,” He whispers fiercely, wanting to hear the words spill from his lips. “I am not your brother, nor am I your friend or love. I am your enemy.”
Loki knows that he must find a way back to his own time now, where he can steal away to Midgard and live out the rest of eternity covertly. He cannot stay in this void where he is forced to think about his life and his choices. He reaches out for his magic, and this time, where everything stops, he is surprised to see a single, large glowing rune that wasn’t there before appear.
It is not red, green, blue, or gold. It is beyond colors; it’s almost gold but not quite. Loki can’t quite tell because it’s glowing so brightly it hurts his eyes.
(Instinctively, he throws up a hand to shield his eyes and his hand hits it in the process.)
Thor is twenty-nine; Loki is twenty-six but has not realised it yet.
He tries to teleport away but before he can, Thor grabs him by the elbow and yanks him into a tight embrace. He can still teleport, of course, but the feeling of Thor’s arms around him is something he doesn’t want to forget anytime soon.
When Thor lets go, he’s about to leave, but he notices something different about Thor. The way he carries himself is different than how he carried himself previously; now he has grown into the confidence that he always exuded. Now, he looks like a man who had the world at his fingertips and then watched as it was snatched away.
It’s the scar on one side of his face that gives it away.
He is in Thor’s future.
He has never gone into Thor’s future before. Perhaps that is why the rune that took him here is gold. Mayhap it stands for his bright future?
“You have been gone for years, Loki,” Thor is saying quietly. “I have missed you.”
“I am not here to stay,” Of course, Loki picks the one thing to say that will hurt Thor the most. “I told you once that I don’t know how to.”
“Heimdall says that this time, you will,” Thor’s smile is sad, “But only if I handle this right.”
“We’ll see.” Loki says simply, and he turns briskly to walk around the bush (goodness, a large part of Thor’s life involved shrubbery) when Thor catches up. “You had to have known I was in love with you. When?”
“You were seventeen,” Thor answers. He smiles sheepishly, “I did not know how to handle it. You were not yet the man I loved, but you were the boy I did. But how could I have you? You were so pure and untarnished no matter what came your way. Surely the you I could have was the one who had already known of the worlds and its evils.”
“You speak as if I have changed. I am the same Loki I have always been,” Loki replies and it is something he had confronted in the void only moments before he came here, “But it is you who has. I am a constant. I have always known what I want and had the means to achieve it.”
Thor is silent and Loki can actually see him processing what Loki has just said. Can it be really that simple? That Thor is in love with him in two different times and…no, it’s too confusing even for Loki to think about it.
“I have had…much time to consider myself while you were gone these past three years. I loved Jane, but it was a fleeting love, for she and I were not compatible. She is a good woman, a perfect woman, in fact—just not the perfect woman for me,” Thor begins hesitantly. “I have changed, ‘tis true. When I first fell in love with you, I was sixteen and you were twenty-four. Then I distanced myself from the thirteen-year-old you because I could not bear to see you and know it was the you that you had not become. But when you were eighteen and I twenty-one, I fell in love with you again. I love you.” His eyes meet Loki’s, and the expression on his face is earnest and trusting. Loki knows without a doubt that his beautiful, honest brother has just metaphorically handed Loki his heart. “Do you believe me?”
Loki bites his lip. It would be insane to take Thor at his word, but there is Thor, putting himself out there and offering his heart as he waits for Loki to break it. He has had time in the void to think too, and if Thor had truly thought about it as much as he claims, then there is no reason Loki shouldn’t believe him. “Yes,” he says as he embraces Thor, “I believe you.”
When Loki wakes up, he is not in the void.
Light is streaming through the curtains and illuminating Thor’s handsome features. He sits up, the blankets falling away to expose his torso to the cold morning air. Toying with strands of Thor’s golden hair, he smiles at his sleeping betrothed. Thor is smiling in his sleep and Loki bends down to press a gentle kiss to Thor’s forehead.
His eyes flutter open and bright blue twinkles at Loki.
“Well,” Loki says with a slightly crooked smile, “It would seem that you handled it correctly.”
“No,” Thor pulls Loki down for a quick kiss on the lips. He is smiling and both of them are happy in a way they haven’t been since they were children, “You just finally wanted to stay.”
Loki looks at Thor, disheveled from sleep and glowing with happiness that comes with love. His smile becomes gentler, “Yes, I suppose I did.”