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naught but blood and bone

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He settles down on the cliff, looking down at his brother.  He should be escaping - he should be making a run for it, of course, but this is too good to not watch.  It is not often that he saw Thor fighting with his full strength for something other than his father's name - Thor's father, not his - and he cannot pass it up.

It is not, he tells himself, because his ribs need time to knit back together after the impact of hitting the ground.

When Thor calls back his hammer, his eyes flick up to where Loki rests, and Loki smiles, because this time Thor is fighting for him - not for Odin or himself, but for the chance to rein Loki in and control him, something that he had for only moments before.

It's madness, to sit here and await what they are trying to do to him, but it would be more mad to pass up the chance.

Thor has always loved a good fight over anything; practice, an insult to him or his family, for a battle, for the right to fuck someone; to see him like this, fighting for Loki, sends a chill down his spine and he smiles again, resting his chin in the palm of his hand as he reclines on the rock, content to watch.

Thor brings Iron Man down with a smash of circuitry and metal and even Loki winces, for the man is not a god as they are and it will take time for him to recover.  He doesn't move from where he rests on the forest floor but Loki knows that Thor would not kill a man if he did not have to do so, and his seidr tells him the same.

Captain America takes more time - perhaps because he has that shield, something not quiet normal - but all the same, Thor brings him down with a blast of lightning and then he is still on the forest floor.  He tries to get up once, but Thor looms over him and Loki can hear over the forest noises as Thor tells him, "If you follow, I shall kill you without pause.  You have been warned."

The Captain raises his hands in supplication - a mirror of Loki an hour before - and Thor turns to look back up at his brother.  Loki thinks, now is the time to go, but before he can move Thor's there, wrapped around his throat again and pulling him up.

"Will you fight me, brother?  Or will you come quietly?"

Loki smiles and asks, "Which would you prefer?"

Thor growls - and oh, does Loki love making him angry - and pulls him close before they take off in flight.

When they land, Loki does not know where they are but there is a cabin and it is raining, lightning crackling overhead, and Thor shoves him into the building before slamming the door shut.

Thor whirls and knocks Loki to the ground - and Loki thinks, I must have been more tired than I thought, as this is the only reason why Thor has bested me - and then Mjolnir is pressing against his chest, weighing him down.

His legs rise up and Thor is propelled off of him to slam against a table, breaking it, and Loki writhes under the hammer, trying to escape, because he's pinned, pinned, and the void is returning and he's going to - to -

fall

fast -

and

hit

hard -

And it sucks the breath from his throat because the hammer that he can never hold, never capture, presses down and is unable to be shifted by none other than Thor, who seems only capable of watching him struggle.

His nails scrabble and press against the engravings and he can feel them tear at the pressure, and if he could he would claw at it until his fingers were naught but blood and bone.  He tries to arch his back, shifting it like that, but all that happens is that he hurts, and his palms are bleeding from the corners of the hammer.

Thor doesn't move until he lets out a thin wail - "Thor, please," - and then the hammer is gone and Loki curls onto his side, not crying, he tells himself, he's not, but all the same he cannot stop the tears.

"Loki," Thor says, "what did they do to you?"

Loki's tears turn to laughter, brittle and broken, and he answers, "You have no idea what they are capable of, Thor.  If I do not complete my promise, if I do not rule this realm, all will be lost."

"Lost?"

"Do you not understand the word, you fool?  Lost, broken, burned - choose your term, for it shall happen!  They hold more power than you could ever even imagine!"  Loki sits up, angry now, wiping the tears away harshly.  "You think I have caused chaos?  You have no idea what will happen if I do not deliver my end of the bargain."

Thor's eyes dart between each of his, as though he is not sure what to think - and Loki knows that Thor thinks that he is lying, that he is not telling the whole truth, but for once, for once, this is all that there is to say - this is all that Loki knows.  Might the Chitauri have other plans that they have not - and wisely so - informed him of?  Potentially, but Loki does not think so.

"You swear this?"

"Yes."

"You swear this on your seidr?"

Thor knows that is the one thing that Loki will not compromise - the one thing that Loki would never put into jeopardy - and this is his way of making sure that Loki is not telling falsehoods.

"I swear it."

Thor nods - and ordinarily Loki would complain about Thor being easy to believe him, but in this case Loki is relieved, because this means that he will not die this day - and sets Mjolnir on the remains of the broken table.

"Then we must find a way to stop this madness.  We must find a way to fix what has been done."

"You think I have not done this?  You think I have not tried to find a way to make this stop?  I never wanted this.  I never wanted to rule this way."

"But you were a king."

"I was a king."  Loki says it flat, because it is true, and nothing Thor can do will change that.  Loki was a king, and then he was nothing, and now he is perhaps even less than that.

Thor rests a hand on his shoulder and Loki almost flinches away, flinches from the touch, but Thor just presses down a little harder, thumb fitting in the hollow of his throat.  "We will fix this, Loki.  We will."

"Not brother?  Given that up?"

Thor smiles, as he knows that Loki is goading him, and just squeezes, making the leather and metal squeak in protest, but he does nothing other than pull him up from where he kneels on the floor and brushes the stone and wood splinters from his armor.

"It suits me better, perhaps, if we are not related.  And it does not please you well.  So I will call you what makes you happy, for I have not been able to do so for such a very long time."

Loki rolls his eyes.  "It did not stop you when you did call me brother.  Nothing has ever stopped you.  Not even banishment."

He means for the last part to sting, but Thor only smiles a little and squeezes his shoulder again.  "Call it a lesson learned, then.  Something not easily done, and to think - Father took the credit and yet, it was your doing."

He steers Loki into a bath and sits on the sink.  "Wash.  Tend to your wounds.  Then we will talk."

"Shall I not get some privacy?  I swore."

Thor looks him up and down.  "You swore that you were not lying.  You did not swear to help."

This time it is Loki who smiles.  "Well met, Thor.  I'll have you trained yet."

Thor does not let him out of his sight.  When he cleans his wounds, magic sparkling in the low light of the candles Thor has lit, Thor watches him still, cleaning Mjolnir and then his armor - and then Loki's, even the helmet, and it's more surprising to Loki than many things.

When Loki is pleased with the state of himself, he tends to Thor's hurts with only a moment of hesitation.  He is not sure that Thor will let him - because what cause has Loki given him to trust him, but Thor lets him, one hand resting on the hilt of Mjolnir in silent warning.

"Where will we sleep?"

"Where do you think?" Thor retorts, nodding his chin in the direction of a large pile of furs in the corner.

"Barbaric," Loki mumbles, but makes his way over nonetheless, as close to the wall as he can manage, still comfortable but far away from Thor.  He does not think that he could stand to be close to the man right now.

But as usual, Thor has no regard for personal space or choice and crowds against him, invading him, one arm thrown over his waist and knees lodged behind Loki's.

"Must you?"

Thor chuckles.  "Think of it as your punishment.  For lying to me.  For leaving me.  For not coming home.  For our hurts."

"Our?"

"You think I do not know that you hurt more than I to let go?  You think that I did not miss you?  We have always been each other's, and I was without you just as you were without me.  Loki and Thor, Thor and Loki - without you, I was but a shade."

"A shade," Loki whispers, fingers curling into the fur of whatever animal Thor brought down that covers them.

"But you are home," Thor says, nudging his nose behind Loki's ear, "and I am whole again."

"Sentiment," Loki mumbles, but the smile on his face belies his words.