what i became (because of you)
Loki cannot believe his luck after the All-Father’s glorious send off. He holds his mother close, comforting her with sweet words and his gentle embrace. When her tears have dried, he broaches the subject of Thor. His mother has always been difficult for him to read.
“Though much of Father’s magic is unknown to me,” he says quietly, for her ears alone, “I am certain I could lift Thor’s banishment.”
Frigga looks torn but she shakes her head. “Odin meted out Thor’s punishment for a reason,” she says finally. “Go to Midgard, tell him of Odin’s funeral. Tell him his punishment stands until the conditions can be met.”
Loki has wanted many things (his father’s love, a place he could be himself, Thor’s regard) but he’s never wanted the throne. (He only wanted Thor never to claim it as he was.) All that he is, frost giant, stolen child, he is man enough, Aesir enough to step into Thor’s considerable shoes. He was always the better son.
(When Thor came of age, during the ceremony in front of the whole of Asgard, he was given a gift to show his rise to adulthood. He was given the mighty Mjolnir. Less than fifty years later when it was Loki’s turn to be gifted one of Odin’s glorious treasures, he was offered a small pouch that held within an ever lasting supply of the finest throwing daggers ever made. Though they were endless and he never missed his mark, he could hear the Warrior’s Three laughing about his proclivity for ranged combat.)
Now he wields Gungnir, a fitting treasure for his rise to glory.
The Warriors Three, and their leader the Lady Sif do not understand why Loki will not retrieve his beloved brother. They cite fear and petty jealousy as his motivators for keeping Thor away.
(On one hand, they aren’t wrong. But on the other, Loki still turns to share jokes with a man who isn’t there, still causes harmless pranks just to see Thor smile. The absence of that smile eradicates any jealousy that might have been.)
It’s Frigga who sets them straight. It’s Frigga who forbids Heimdall from opening the Bifrost to send them to Midgard. He should feel nettled that his so-called friends and closest subjects don’t defer to his words but his mothers, but in truth, he’s glad Frigga stopped their endless pestering.
It takes him a shameful two weeks to visit Thor on Midgard. It’s jarring to see his bright and vibrant brother so subdued and quiet. He sits alone in a small room, hands cuffed at the wrists on his lap. He is filthy and soaked to the skin, and Loki cannot tell if the dampness on his face is the rain he hears outside or his brother’s tears.
“Hello brother,” Loki says quietly, revealing himself only to Thor. Thor’s eyes fly to him, taking in his Midgardian clothes, and the glimmer of Gungnir at his shoulder. His lips part but he makes no sound. “So silent, Thor?” Loki says, a hint of old brotherly mockery in his voice. “I am no illusion.”
A wry grin twists Thor’s lips. “I have heard that - and fallen for that - before,” he mutters.
So Loki crouches in front of him, level with Thor’s knees, and clasps their hands together. “Father...” Loki says, and finds his voice choked, much to his surprise. “Father is...”
“In the Odinsleep, I know,” Thor concludes softly. “He put it off for much longer than I can ever remember him doing.”
Loki shakes his head. “No, brother,” he says quietly. “Father is dead.”
Thor goes pale with shock. “What?” he swallows hard and makes a visible effort to lower his voice. “How?”
Loki shakes his head again, a concession not a refusal, and says, “The matron of the Healing Houses says it was the stress of putting off the Odinsleep...” (It might even be true, Loki had never felt such anger as he did when he held the Cask of Ancient Winters, he felt as though he could have killed Odin with all the wrath of his Jotunn blood. In the end, all he did was yell.)
“She mourns, but is otherwise well.” Loki takes a deep, hesitating breath. “I am now King of Asgard.”
(It hurts to say it.)
Thor’s fingers clench around Loki’s. “Good,” he says firmly, honestly. “You would be a better king than I. Father’s spell?”
“It stands,” Loki says. “Even if I could figure out how to reverse it, Mother is furious... she ordered me to leave you until Odin’s conditions were met.” He looks up at his brother. “I know not his conditions, brother. I cannot help you.”
When Thor blinks, two tears trail down his cheeks. (The last time Loki saw Thor cry was in their three hundredth year. He can’t remember why, not after so long, but he can remember holding his brother close as he cried himself to sleep in Loki’s bed. It was the last time he’d ever seen Thor vulnerable.)
“It is no less than I deserve,” Thor chokes out. “Thank you for coming and telling me.”
Loki can sense the mortals coming closer to the small room where Thor is being held. “I must go,” he says, letting go of Thor’s hands and standing fluidly.
“You will make a fine king, brother,” Thor asserts softly, eyes on the floor.
Loki nods once. (Thor isn’t wrong.) “Good-bye Thor.”
His brother’s head comes up then, eyes bluer than Loki can ever remember them being. “May I ask one request of my King?” Thor questions.
(It should sound mocking. It doesn’t.)
“Ask,” Loki responds.
“Will you come and visit me here?” Thor asks, all in a rush. “Father is dead, and I have lost our mother’s love as a consequence. Will I also lose yours?”
Loki has everything he could ever want. (He has his due glory. He has beaten his brother. He is first in the eyes of their mother and he stands free from shadows.) He should say no, he should crush his inconsiderate brother’s spirit with words alone. All he must do is say no, and he will rule Asgard in peace. “Yes,” Loki says, his voice cracking with some unknown emotion. “I will come to you.” (Even Loki, god of mischief, is not that cruel.)
Thor looks stupidly grateful and he reaches out for Loki’s hands, the chain holding his wrists together clinking gently. “Thank you, brother.”
(They are not brothers. Loki knows this. But he cannot break Thor more than their father already had. That is not his part to play.)
The state of their relationship is a tale for another day. (Perhaps never.) “I must go,” Loki repeats, pulling his hand out of Thor’s.
“Good-bye,” Thor whispers as a mortal walks through the door and Loki’s magicked image vanishes.
He watches unseen until Thor is released from captivity into the arms of an old man and two young women. Thor, the mortal. The breakable, fallible, decaying mortal.
(At least he is safe.)
“Do you watch him?” Loki asks, leaning heavily on Gungnir.
“Yes,” Heimdall response, voice rumbling through his chest. “He misses you greatly.”
Loki doesn’t know what to say to that. All his powers, all his abilities and renown as a Smith of Lies, and he can’t even open his mouth to placate a god that likely knows him better than he’d like.
“May I offer a suggestion?” Heimdall says, voice rumbling over him. Loki nods once. “Go to him.”
One corner of Loki’s mouth twists up. “That was a suggestion?”
Heimdall’s chuckle sounds like thunder. “Yes. The Jotunns will care little if you go to Midgard. And you and I both know that you do not require my services to go to Midgard. Your mother is powerful, she will hold the throne for you.”
Loki snorted. “The last I saw him, I gave him most distressing news. Are you so certain he wishes to see me?”
Heimdall turns to him with a sardonic expression. “Yes.”
“Of course you are.” Loki tightens his grip on Gungnir and turns to walk away. “I will send word, if I decide to adhere to your suggestion, Guardian.”
Thor is bored. It is not a feeling he is used to. Before, when he would grow restless, he could always count on his brother to find a way to entertain him. He would find a ruin for them to explore, or an elaborate trick that was harmless in effect. His brother is not here now, not for four long months that have dragged by, hour by hour.
Though his presence has, in effect, alerted the Midgardian’s to the idea of other worlds, and their current leader, the Son of Coul has him training the newer ‘Agents’, he misses his brother terribly.
Jane is very busy building an synthetic bifrost. And there, he is no help.
“Hey,” Darcy says to him, flopping down next to him on the couch, disrupting his train of thought. “Why so glum?”
“I have yet to hear from Loki,” Thor says, in a reasonable approximation of an inside voice. “I fear he may merely have been placating me when he swore to visit.” He picks at a loose thread on his plaid over shirt. “He is my last link to my old life.”
Darcy bites her lower lip. “You’re bringing the whole vibe down here dude,” she informs him, not unkindly. “Go beat up some new recruits.”
Thor chuckles. “Darcy the Pragmatic,” he calls her fondly, tugging on a lock her hair. “The son of Coul has forbidden me from the ring until his newest agents can regain their shattered pride.” She laughs lightly and Thor smiles. “I will take my leave, so my vibe will cease disrupting you and the Lady Jane’s work.” He brushes a hand over the hair he’d just pulled. “Thank you my friend. I will go to the diner.”
“They still don’t sell poptarts!” she hollers after him.
Mood significantly improved, Thor wanders out of the complex where Jane has taken up a residence for S.H.I.E.L.D. He jogs down the road back to town, stomach growling. When he opens the door, Dennis, the afternoon fry cook waves at him. “Your usual?” he calls over as Thor sits down.
“If you would be so kind,” Thor says brightly, but his smile fades when Dennis turns back to the grill. He stares out the window, and suddenly he hears, “Truly, why so morose, brother?” and Loki’s form coalesces in the windows reflection.
Thor nearly upsets the table when he whirls. “Loki!” He embraces his smirking brother enthusiastically. “I feared you had forgotten me.”
Loki scoffs, sliding into the seat across from Thor. “Thor,” Dennis calls over, “your guest want anything?”
When Thor glances at Loki, his brothers shrugs one elegant shoulder. “He’ll have what I’m having,” he calls back.
Raising one eyebrow, Loki smirks a little wider. “Come here often, do you?”
“Often enough,” Thor says ruefully. “I am not smart enough to help the Lady Jane, or the Lady Darcy with their equations. I am instead used to train the probationary agents for the defense system of Midgard.”
Smiling, Loki says, “that sounds like something you enjoy.”
“It is. For the most part. But even this mortal form is much stronger than the average mortal.” He says it without arrogance, because it’s true. The probationary agents have all been sent away from his training room with broken bones or bloodied noses.
If Loki is surprised he doesn’t show it. “Sif and the Warriors Three send their regards,” Loki offers up when Thor stops talking.
Thor nods. “Send mine back.”
The silence between them is painfully awkward. “I miss you,” Thor says after Dennis leaves them their food. “I have had much time to fight but more time to think, something I don’t oft do well. You were right, brother. I would have made a poor king, and I was an even poorer brother.” Thor pokes at his pancakes with his fork. “I would not begrudge you your anger with me, for I imagine it must be great indeed.”
Loki’s face softens a little around the edges. “Not a poor brother as all that,” he admits.
“How are relations with Jotunheim, now that I am banished?” Thor asks carefully.
Pulling a face, Loki stabs at one his pancakes. “Shoddy, at best. It is why I took so long to visit. I could not afford to leave mother alone.”
“I understand,” Thor says. “You are king and I am not even Asgardian.” He sighs. “Tell me something. Anything.”
Loki grins, the mischievous grin from their childhood that Thor has missed seeing. “Volstagg has gained even more girth that previously seen. He says his appetite belays his apathy. Fandral has gotten no less than three palace maids with child and is often found hiding by my side as to avoid their angry fathers.” Thor laughs long and loud when Loki pauses. “Hogun speaks less than usual but refuses to spar with any other than I. I believe he misses you at our practices.”
“Sif spends much time with Mother. She grieves for you.”
Thor looks away. “I grieve for her too.”
Loki places his hand over Thor’s. “There is still hope,” Loki tells him. “The All-Father’s conditions on your exile...”
“Are unknown, even to you who keeps all the secrets of Asgard,” Thor interrupts. “Mjolnir, she does not come to my hand. I call for her, day and night and she ignores me. I am not worthy to wield her, and therefore I am not worthy to return to the hallowed halls you reign. I am not even good enough for her.”
Loki’s mouth twists. “I am sorry brother.”
“As am I, Loki.”
They exit the diner together, and Loki turns to Thor to embrace him. “I will try to return soon,” he promises. “Do not lose hope.”
“Do not forget me,” Thor asks.
Thor wonders to himself as he wanders back to the complex how much of his conversation with Loki was truth and now much of it was lie. He used to be able to tell but Loki is god and Thor is nothing but a man.