"I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Six months had passed since Loki had been standing in Stark Tower with Tony and Steve in the midst of a large thunderstorm. He pressed a palm to his face, wishing he could have actually seen the storm. Thor always was one to show off.
"Wow, that was sudden," Tony said. "Freak storm."
Loki smiled sadly. "He's searching."
Tony and Steve turned their heads.
"Who's searching?" Tony asked.
Loki stared ahead, his emerald eyes flashing with the lightning. Even though The All Father must have told Thor what he really was, his brother was still looking all over the nine realms for him. A lump had formed in the god's throat. Thor still considered him his little brother, and loved him. The thunder that followed sounded almost like Thor's boisterous laugh to Loki's ears.
The god leaned back against the couch, melting into the cushions. The Avengers were on another mission, and even though Loki had been named an honorary member, he was still not permitted to accompany them.
His lack of sight was an annoying thing indeed. Though, he was not completely blind in a sense. He could feel a small amount of magic right underneath his skin, it was there, and yet he couldn't access it. It was a strange feeling, but it did allow him to "see" more or less. Loki could not see a chair as another person could, but he knew it was there. It was a good thing too because before his little magic returned he had accidently ran smack into a wall. Clint had almost hurt himself laughing.
Loki closed his eyes, in hindsight it was pretty funny he supposed.
The God of Mischief didn't even realize he had fallen asleep until Clint's voice cut his dream short.
"I DON'T EVEN- GOD WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS GOOEY?"
The archer stomped noisily into the living room, leaving a trail of green liquid in his grumpy wake. His door slammed loudly making Loki jerk slightly. A second later the rest of the team traipsed in, thankfully not as obnoxiously as Clint. Loki wrinkled his nose at the offending odor.
"Hello," he offered.
Tony huffed. "That was not good."
"It was easy enough," Tony replied. "but when we killed them, the suckers would explode in a storm of green goop."
"Ah, that explains the smell. I was wondering," Loki said softly.
"MY GOD IT'S IN MY EYES!"
Everyone held back a laugh.
"I'll go help him," Captain America sighed, and walked off towards Clint's room. "before he slips and hurts himself."
"Good call, Captain Boy Scout," Tony smiled and saluted.
Cap rolled his eyes.
Loki sniffed around Tony. "How come you are not coved in this 'goo'?" He asked curiously.
"I can fly," Tony said smartly. "And I may or may not have shot a missile at the creatures when Clint was standing too close.
As usual, the team gathered around the large TV to watch a movie. Whoever decided on The Lion King should be shot and then shot again. Halfway through the Disney movie, Loki had abruptly stood and walked out of the room.
Everyone looked around, and the light bulb clicked.
The movie was about two brothers, one was the king and the younger one killed the older one to claim the throne. Then he tried to have the prince killed so no one could threaten his rule. It was almost scary how much the movie and their Norse god had in common.
Tony ran a hand through his unruly hair. "Well, that went well."
About two months ago, Loki gathered his courage and had told the rest of the Avengers about his home, and what had transpired. Nick Fury and Bruce were even there via webcam. He had started with his "adoption" from Jotunheim and Thor's coronation. Loki admitted that when he had let go of Gungnir and fell into the wormhole, he had thought it was the end of him, and he was a little disappointed when that had fell through.
The Avengers had felt sorry for the god. Over the past months they had grown quite attached to the Norse god in their tower. Despite his past he was a very likeable person. The good Captain had spoke up and said that everyone deserved a second chance. He looked around the room, no one on the team was innocent of any crimes, and the way he saw it, Loki deserved a clean slate too. It was after Steve's speech that Fury had agreed to let Loki become an Avenger, once he regained his sight.
Tony found the god at his bar, with a glass of scotch in one hand, and his head in the other. The billionaire sat down next to him.
"Hey, you wanna talk?"
Loki shook his head. "No, I do not."
Tony poured himself a glass also. "You know it's just a stupid movie, right?"
"I know that," Loki snapped. "It doesn't make it any less true."
"We know what you did, Loki," Tony said softly. "and we know that you are sorry. You were hurt and didn't know what to do."
Loki played with his glass.
"I probably would have done the same thing."
The god turned. "What do you mean?"
Tony poured himself another glass and topped off Loki's. "After I was found in Afghanistan, I told you this remember? I wanted to take all my weapons and blow the whole country up, to make up for what I went through."
There was a pause.
"I could have too," the genius said as he ran his finger around the rim of the glass. "I had the power, but it wouldn't have made the situation any better. So yeah, I get it."
Loki laughed a bit. "We really are messed up, are we not?"
"That's what makes us interesting," Tony smirked. "People love the bad boys."
They finished their drinks and stood up. Tony checked his watch, it was nearly midnight.
Suddenly the floor shook violently.
"Whoa," Tony gasped. "I didn't have that much to drink did I?"
Loki lost his footing and fell backwards, landing unceremoniously on the floor.
Tony was going to help him up when there was a flash of light and the roar of thunder filled the tower. The others came running and they stopped as a figure dropped from the sky. Lightning crackled around the man as he stood up to his full height. A large hammer was clasped firmly in his hand, his long blond hair whipping around his face. Blue eyes scanned the room before stopping at the person on the ground.
"Brother," the God of Thunder whispered.
The team froze. So this was Thor, the one Loki had spoken of.
Loki bowed his head, the feeling of shame weighing on him. He felt the need to say something, anything! But the words would not come, it irritated him. All of his power of words and they had left him.
Thor walked over and knelt down in front of his brother, he slowly lifted Loki's chin up so he could get a good look at the one he had feared was dead. Loki allowed his face to meet his brothers. He desperately wished he could see, to properly beg for Thor's forgiveness.
"Loki," Thor said quietly. "I looked all over the Nine Realms for you. I am glad you are safe, brother." The God of Thunder paused, looking into Loki's eyes. "What has happened, brother?"
Tony attempted to step back to give the two gods their space, when Loki's hand shot out and latched onto his pant leg. Loki looked up with his dull, unseeing eyes, pleading with the engineer to stay. Tony stayed, after all, Loki needed the morale support.
"Thor," Tony said. "Loki had a bit of a mishap, and well, he's sorta blind."
Thor turned sharply to his brother, he frowned at his green eyes that did not shine as brightly as they normally did.
"Thor," Loki choked out. "I'm sorry-"
Loki didn't get to finish his sentence before Thor had scooped him up into his arms, in an almost bone-crushing hug. If Loki wasn't a god he would have been flattened.
"No, Loki. I'm sorry." Thor replied. "I'm sorry that I always took you for granted, that I treated you so unfairly. I was arrogant and unable to see that you were hurting. You were right, when you said I was too young and reckless to take over rule of Asgard."
Loki leaned closer to his brother.
"You were so busy trying to gain Odin's praise and favor, that you missed that you were always my favorite."
Loki couldn't hold back his tears any longer. His brother was apologizing to him, when it should be the other way around. He did not understand what was going on.
Thor loosened his grip a bit. "I know you are a Frost Giant, brother."
The younger god froze. This was it.
"I do not approve that Father hid it from you," Thor frowned. "But none the less, you are my brother, if not by blood, then by bond."
It was if a sudden weight was lifted off of Loki's chest.
"Do you remember what I told you on the day of your coronation?" Loki said softly.
"You're my brother and my friend. Sometimes I'm envious, but never doubt that I love you."
Loki smiled. "I never spoke truer words than those."
"Can you ever forgive me, brother?" Loki mumbled into Thor's chest.
Thor hugged him closer. "It is forgotten."
Loki smiled tiredly. They were going to be all right.
"Are these your friends?" Thor asked, looking around the room.
"Yes," Loki answered. He really didn't have any energy left to introduce them. Thankfully Tony has that covered.
"Hey there," Tony said as he helped Loki to his feet. "I'm Tony. The blond one over there is Steve. Natasha is the redhead and Clint is next to her. We have another member of our Merry Band, but he's saving lives somewhere."
Thor nodded politely to them.
"And you've already met our newest Avenger," Tony said, indicating Loki.
"These are some mighty fine companions you have here, brother." Thor boomed.
"Yes, yes they are," Loki said wearily.
Tony looked down at the god and frowned. "Are you ok there Sparky?"
"I'm fine, I just need some-" Loki was going to say all he needed was some rest, when a tremor coursed through his body, followed by waves of pain. The Trickster groaned and collapsed to the floor.
Tony was instantly at his side, checking his pulse. He placed a hand over the god's forehead.
"He's burning up," the CEO cursed. "Steve help me, will ya?"
"What is going on?" Thor growled.
Steve hurried over and put a comforting hand on Thor's shoulder. "He's going to be fine," the soldier said. He gave Thor a small smile and helped Tony lift Loki and carry him to his room. It really wasn't a challenge, Loki weighed next to nothing as it seemed.
They settled him into his bed and Steve went to fetch a cold washcloth from the bathroom. Tony pulled off Loki's green hoodie and threw it in the corner. He changed the god into a pair of shorts and a v-neck shirt and placed the cool cloth on his forehead once Steve returned.
Thor came to check on his brother.
"I'll stay with him," Tony said. "you should get some rest there Point Break."
The thunder god did not understand the reference but nodded. "Thank you."
"Steve'll show you to a spare room. I will wake you if something happens." Tony assured him.
The super soldier led the taller god out of the room and closed the door.
Tony pulled up a chair and settled down. Had it almost been a year since he had almost ran Loki over with his car? Oh how things had changed. Tony absently brushed one of Loki's dark locks out of his eyes. He was quite fond of the prankster. In ways he was just as smart if not smarter than the billionaire and just as quick witted.
He could tell the rest of the team cared too. They had grown into one big family, a dysfunctional family at that, but still a family. He did not condone Loki's previous actions, but he understood, the pain and betrayal. But it seemed like Loki was sorry and willing to change, and that is all that mattered in Tony's book. If he could turn his life around, why couldn't the god?
Loki flinched in his sleep and clenched the sheets between his fists.
Tony placed his hand over his friend's and felt a stab of worry. What if Thor was here to take Loki back to Asgard to stand trial for what he did? The engineer didn't know if he could let that happen.
Correction, Tony would not let it happen.
Tony awoke the next morning with a kink in his back and a stiff neck, but he shrugged it off, convinced that coffee would make it all better. He checked his watch, it was nine in the morning. At first he was confused as to why he was in a chair, and then it all came rushing back.
"Right, two Norse gods in my tower."
Loki stirred, slowly opening his eyes. Tony leaned in a bit closer, examining him.
"Hey there, Sleeping Beauty. How you doing?"
Loki blinked a few times. "I…"
Tony frowned. "What's up?" He asked.
Loki took in the world around him. Tony's hair was sticking wildly every which way and his warm, brown eyes stared at the god as if he had gone crazy. He could see the sunlight shining through the windows, he could see the bed and the sheets around him, and he could also see that his hair had grown quite long these last few months. Loki made a mental note to take care of that later.
"I see you, Tony." Loki smiled.
Tony opened his mouth. "That's great!" He shouted.
Loki made a face.
"Sorry, you're probably still tired."
"My magic came rushing back last night. It was not an enjoyable experience," Loki said and lay back down on the pillow.
"Yeah, I could tell."
Loki's eyelids could not stay open any longer, and he drifted back to sleep. Standing, Tony made his way to the door and quietly slipped out. He leaned against the wood frame, breathing slowly. Loki's magic was back. That was a good thing.
And Tony was the first person he had seen after coming to earth.
A few hours later, Loki awoke to shouting, one of the voices sounded like Tony.
"You are not taking him back there!"
Yup, there was Tony.
"I am sorry, Son of Howard. But I must, he will face our father for what he has done."
And there's Thor.
"Don't call me that! And he's your brother!"
"The Allfather has ordered that he be returned home," Thor replied. "Though I do not wish to see my brother in anymore pain, an order cannot be ignored."
Tony scoffed. "Screw the Allfather. Loki's home is here with us."
Loki sat up straighter, oh my God, Tony was going to get himself killed.
"Stark," Thor tried this time. "the Allfather is-"
"I don't care if he's the freakin' Easter Bunny, he's not getting Loki, not after what he's done."
Thor was silent.
"Struck a nerve?" Tony growled. "He stole Loki, lied about his heritage and raised him to hate himself. He treated Loki like he was second best and he wondered why he snapped. Wow, A+ parenting there, Odin."
"Tony," Steve stepped in between the two men.
Tony rounded on Steve. "What? You're going to let him take him?"
"No, of course not, Loki's our friend," Steve reasoned. "But we should do this more civilly that's all."
"Hold on, let me get my suit," Tony grumbled.
Steve sighed. "That's not what I meant."
It seemed that Loki took this time to appear in the doorway, and peered out into the living room. Thor was at one end near the windows and Tony was standing not too far away. The others were seated on the couch, not wanting to come in between the God of Thunder and Iron Man.
Tony was pissed.
"Tony, Thor," Loki said and walked into the room.
The two turned.
"Oh good, you're up," Tony said and sauntered over to Loki's side. "Now that everyone's here, we can take a vote."
Loki looked at him in confusion.
"All who wants Loki to stay, raise your hand."
The team hesitantly raised their hands slowly into the air, slightly afraid of both men standing in front of them.
"That is four here, I think Bruce would agree, so five, against the Allfather. Democracy wins," Tony smirked. "I love America."
"That is not how things work on Asgard," Thor said.
Tony rolled his eyes. "We aren't on Asgard, are we?"
Thor said nothing.
"I'm afraid he's right, Tony." Loki said quietly. "I must return to Asgard."
"Oh hell no! They'll probably lock you up!" Tony sputtered.
Loki sighed. "I tried to destroy another realm and almost killed my brother. I have to face the Allfather and the court."
"But that wasn't you," Tony turned so he was face to face with the god. Well, face to neck, whatever. "you aren't that person anymore."
"And I have you and your team to thank."
"Tony is not our leader," Clint mumbled, and Natasha elbowed him.
Tony was silent for a moment.
"Then I'm coming with you," he decided.
"What?" Loki asked at the same time as everyone else did.
"I can be your lawyer or whatever," Tony shrugged. "It'll be great."
"Tony," Loki said softly. "humans are not permitted in Asgard."
Iron Man rolled his eyes. "Well then, they better buckle up, because we're going."
"We?" Clint echoed. "I'm sorry, but I really do not wish to be skewered by a bunch of angry Asgardians."
Steve looked thoughtful for a moment. "I'm in, Loki's our friend, and we stand by our friends."
"Even if it means traveling to a different realm?" Clint asked.
"Even then," Cap replied.
Clint raised his hands in defeat. "Fine, I'm in too. Hey, maybe I can meet some of those archers that Loki told me about. I could show them a thing or two," he said smugly.
Natasha rolled her eyes. "Someone has to keep an eye on Birdbrain over here," she said. "I'm in."
"So am I."
Everyone jumped as the screen lit up, displaying Dr. Banner's smiling face.
"Holy mother!" Tony gasped. "Warn a guy next time Bruce!"
"Sorry, that was rude," Bruce said sheepishly. Natasha smirked.
Tony suddenly turned angry. "Were you listening? Did Fury hack Jarvis again?"
Fury's bald head popped up next to Bruce's, he was scowling.
"Yes, Stark, we were listening. This is my team, remember?"
"And this is my building," Tony snapped, emphasizing the "my" part.
Fury glared. "We will keep the world safe until you get back," he said and moved off screen.
"Do you need the Big Guy?" Banner asked.
"Wait, are you coming home?" Clint asked.
"Yeah in a couple days or so."
"Well, we can't wait a few days, Bruce." Tony said.
"Understood," Bruce replied. "besides, I'm not sure how he'd react to being in a foreign place."
"That is true," Natasha said slowly. "he might be a bit upset."
Bruce snorted. "Understatement. Anyway, I will see you when you get back."
The feed was cut and they were met with a blank, black screen.
"Jarvis," Tony called.
"Yes, sir," the AI answered.
"Up our security, so this never happens again."
"Will do, sir."
People messing with Tony Stark's technology made him a bit angry.
"So Hercules," Tony said, facing the Thunder God. "when do we leave?"
"I am never doing that again," Clint muttered as he lay across the rainbow bridge. "Seriously, that was worse than the Millennium Force."
Thor and Loki stood over the poor archer, trying to help him, but they were just waved off. Natasha was unsurprisingly fine and was dragging Clint back to his feet. It seemed that Steve had the harder job of making sure Tony didn't fall off the Bifrost, because of the ridiculous way that the genius was craning his body over the edge. Tony's brain was working in overdrive as it fought to take in everything that it could.
"Tony, c'mon, remember why we are here," Steve yelled. "Stop playing around."
Thor turned to Heimdall, and nodded in thanks.
The Gatekeeper merely blinked, and trained his eyes on Loki instead.
"Loki," he said in his deep, unwavering voice.
Loki bowed. "I am deeply sorry for my actions against you."
Heimdall only nodded. "I know, Trickster, I saw what happened on Midgard. Go, the Allfather awaits."
The Throne Room was very impressive to the eyes of the Avengers, minus Loki that is. He had seen the hall far too many times to care anymore. The God of Mischief walked alongside Tony, which irritated Thor greatly. The blond saw how close the two were.
Odin was seated in his throne and Frigga was standing next to him. Her eyes filled with tears as soon as Loki had appeared through the heavy, double doors. She had tried to hide it, but Loki always had held a special place in her heart, that no one else could compare to.
Against the Allfather's wishes, she rushed down and collected her youngest son in a fierce hug only a mother could provide.
"I am so relieved that you are safe," Frigga whispered into Loki's ear. "I was worried sick."
Loki wrapped his slender arms around his mother. "I'm sorry I worried you, mother."
Frigga released him and ran a soft hand down the side of his pale face.
"I'm glad you are here, Loki, and you still are my little boy no matter what happens."
Loki smiled. "Thank you."
Odin cracked Gungnir against the stone floor, drawing everyone's attention to him. Instantly the hall quieted, and everyone turned.
"Loki Laufeyson," Odin said. "Step forward."
Frigga and Loki both flinched at the surname that Odin had used. Neither believed that the name fit at all. As far as Loki was concerned, he had no last name, and he was perfectly happy about it.
The Allfather gazed at the crowd. "You have brought guests, I see."
Thor stepped forward. "Yes father, these are Loki's friends from Midgard. They insisted they be allowed to come. I had no choice."
Odin stared at them, as if he were trying to see into their souls.
It was creepy.
Loki moved away from Tony, who found that he did not like that very much. He felt that he couldn't protect Loki while he was away from him, which was ridiculous because the guy was god.
"Loki, for your crimes against Jotunheim and Asgard, you will suffer the punishment that will be decided by the High Council," Odin said sternly. "Do you accept this?"
The god was about to open his mouth and reply when Tony decided to butt in. Typical.
"I actually object to this, Mr. Allfather, sir."
Loki turned his head. "Stay out of this Tony," he hissed.
"No can do, Frosty," Tony smirked and walked in front of the god.
Captain America nearly slapped himself, this cannot end well. And it seemed that the rest of the team had the same feeling. Natasha scanned the room for all possible exits and the Hawk wondered how fast he hightail it back to the rainbow bridge.
"I'd like to take this time to address a few things," Tony said as he set his briefcase at his feet. "First, you are a terrible father."
Odin narrowed his eye dangerously, it reminded Tony of Fury, which made it all the more better.
"Midgardian, you dare-"
"Oh, I do."
"No, you listen," Tony shot back. "You lied to Loki his entire life, which I hear is a long time in 'god years', and you wonder why he went berserk? My God, I would have too if I found out that my supposed father stole me from another country to use as a pawn in some sick twisted game!"
If it was possible, Cap's eyebrows rose further up into his hair.
"Also, where I come from, siblings are generally treated with the same love and care. I get it, Thor is your golden boy, your dear prince, but Loki is a prince too," Tony grit his teeth. "And from what I hear, King in another realm. But if you would have listened when he said Thor wasn't ready to rule, none of this would have happened, and I hate to disappoint you, but your precious son was not ready. He would have started war with Jotunheim as easily as he swings that hammer of his."
"Oh, we're gonna die," Clint sighed and crossed his chest.
Tony glared at him.
"Loki was only doing what he thought was right in his eyes, it's not his fault if he wasn't thinking clearly, because let's face it, you did a crappy job of parenting. And don't get me started on the racism thing. You raised him to hate his own people, that's messed up."
Iron Man stood protectively in front of his friend.
"This last year, Loki has been nothing but helpful to us. He has helped us, hell he even stood up to Doom, who is so damn annoying," Tony said, his voice even. "As representatives of Midgard or whatever, I will not allow you to take Loki."
If looks could kill, and by God, Odin was trying, Tony would be dead.
"That goes for us too," Steve said and walked up next to Tony. "Loki is our friend."
Clint and Natasha took their places next to Steve and Tony. They all stared at the Allfather, daring him to move against them.
Thor just stared at the Avengers, his mouth slightly open. Never had he witnessed anyone standing up to the Allfather, and never for Loki. His brother had truly found great friends during his stay on Midgard. He felt his chest swell with pride and strode over next to Clint.
"I also will not allow Loki to come to any further harm," Thor announced. "I believe that he has suffered enough and should be allowed to continue living with the Avengers as he has been for the past year."
Tony eyed Thor for any trace of sarcasm, but it seemed that the Thunder God was incapable of anything but pure sincerity.
Loki caught his mother's eye, who just smiled. She was happy that her son had found his place among the people of Midgard. He had made loyal friends, something that he had never found on Asgard.
The Allfather held Gungnir in a vice-like hold that would have scared Tony, if the genius was a normal human that is.
"Loki," Odin said.
The God of Mischief glanced at him, distrust clearly evident on his face, he wasn't even trying to hide it.
"Thor and I will negotiate with the Jotuns, and the people of Asgard will never hear of this, they must continue to believe that their royal family is stable," Odin spoke, his voice never betrayed any of the anger he was harboring. "you will remain on Midgard, until peace has been restored. Do you accept?"
Loki stared back, unblinking. "I accept."
Odin nodded. "Very well, I will have rooms prepared for your friends, tomorrow you must guide them back. Thor and I will meet with Jotunheim as well."
They bowed and left the chamber.
Clint as it seemed, found a group of archers and instantly hit it off and followed them to the training grounds. Thor laughed and assured Steve that he was in no danger. The crowned-prince mentioned that he would like for Lady Natasha to meet with his friend, Sif later on. No one thought that was a good idea.
Thor was showing them around, when suddenly Loki pulled the shorter man into a deserted corridor and smacked Tony on the back of his head.
"Oww!" Tony howled. "God, Loki, what the hell was that for?"
Loki eyes were on fire. "What was that for you ask? You could have gotten us all KILLED!"
Tony gulped. "Well, I didn't, so no harm done."
"That is not the point, Tony! I am not worth you standing up to the Allfather, of all people." Loki ran his hands through his dark hair.
Tony frowned. "See, that's your problem. You are worth it, Loki."
Loki looked up.
"You may not see it, but I see a wonderful person who is just a bit lost in the world. I was too after I got back from Afghanistan. I made it my purpose to help people to make up for all the lives my weapons stole."
The god was silent.
"You can do it too, help us save the world."
Tony made the god look him straight in the eyes, Loki's emerald ones locking with Tony's chocolate brown. "C'mon it'll be fun, besides, I'm too irresistible to say no to." He winked.
Loki let out a chuckle. "That you are."
"So is that a yes?" Tony asked hopefully, honestly he had never thought about what they were going to do once they returned home, he was just so focused on not letting Odin have Loki.
"Indeed it is, Mr. Stark," Loki smirked. "Whatever would I do without you?"
"Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down." - Socrates