Thor returned from Asgard with worrying news two years after the alien invasion; Loki has escaped. The Avengers had been jumpy and on alert for days before Nick Fury had entered the tower to give them the news that Loki had been spotted in Manhattan. What had surprised them however was the lack of screams, the horror of the god come back to enslave the human race. In fact it appeared that Loki had been on Earth for at least a month before he had come to the notice of SHIELD. And while people had died, it was a small number but they had all perished in various ways that were slightly suspicious. Tony had researched the deceased and told them all of the ironic way these people had died; a paedophile had his genitals chopped off and died of blood loss, a cheating and abusive husband had last been seen entering a motel room with a younger lover before he was found dead in the room with no sign of the lover. But some people hadn't died. There was also a string of traumatised people who had decided to turn over a new leaf; bullies who had been given the same treatment mostly.
It was baffling and no one, least of all Thor, could explain it. So the Avenger's had decided to meet the problem head on. SHIELD's facial recognition program had told them that Loki was wandering the streets of Manhattan so they had suited up and gone to meet him, fully prepared for a fight, minus Bruce who was to remain behind in case the Hulk was needed later on. It was an odd sight that they found. Loki looked perfectly ordinary. He was wearing a fitted green t-shirt under a brown jacket and slim blue jeans encased his long legs, ending in bright green converse high tops. He smirked at them as he watched them approach, green eyes sparkling with mischief and a Mars bar in his hand.
"Loki, my brother…" Thor began but Loki interrupted.
"I am not your brother." it was a common and anticipated response but it was said differently. Usually Loki would spit the words at the god of thunder, fury and hatred in his every move but this time it was stated calmly as though it were a fact holding no emotional meaning. "I have many brothers and sisters but you are not one of them."
Tony stepped forward beside Thor, his heavy armour clanking on the concrete sidewalk. "What's going on Reindeer Games?"
Loki only smirked wider and snapped his fingers, causing everyone to raise their weapon in anticipation but Loki just held out a hand and said, "Skittle?"
Thor stomped forward, ignoring the rest of the Avengers attempts to pull him back and grabbed the shorter man by the collar, slamming him up against the wall of a nearby building. The building shuddered but neither man look perturbed. "Cease your games, brother." Thor growled. "I tire of this charade."
Loki blinked up at the blonde with an incredulous look. "Wow, haven't heard anyone speak like that in ages!" he paused and shrugged as well as he was able with Thor pressing him up against the wall, "Well other than Shakespearian actors. Weird guy Shakespeare." he added wisely.
"Cut the crap, Loki." Steve said, moving to stand beside Thor.
Thor shook the smaller god roughly but before he could slam him back into the building, Loki waved a hand, sending both the god and the super-soldier flying. Loki shrugged as he shook his shoulders, straightening his clothes and looking mournfully down at the spilt bag of skittles. He looked up when Thor yelled out, "No!" but he barely flinched as Natasha's bullet slammed into his abdomen. Loki looked up at her with a pout on his face. "I liked this shirt" he told her seriously, snapping up a lollipop and sticking it in his mouth, somehow managing to keep the pout. Mere seconds later an arrow slammed into the ground at his feet from Clint's vantage point at the top of one of the surrounding buildings. Loki looked down at it curiously, nudging it with a toe. "Better not hit these shoes, too."
"You are not my brother." Thor said suddenly as he stood from the wreckage of a car he had slammed into.
Loki clapped enthusiastically. "Bravo!" he cried, "Bravo! Give the man a medal!"
Thor advanced threateningly, raising his hammer. "Remove yourself from my brother, spirit!"
"Wait, wait, wait!" Tony called, metal encased hands forming a time-out sign as he moved forward. "What the hell is going on?"
"That's a question I'd like answered too." Steve added, standing up from his own wreckage and moving toward the group.
Thor growled lowly, not taking his eyes off his brother. "My brother has been possessed by another entity."
"Well." the thing in Loki's body amended. "Not really possessed. He asked for this."
"He asked to be possessed?" Natasha asked, incredulous.
Loki's head tilted, "Well, not really. We knew each other, see and he knew what I was. We were friends and I found myself in need of a new vessel, and he, well he was desperate for peace."
Thor dropped his hammer, staggering back a step, staring at his brother or at least his body. "You are one of them." he whispered, horrified.
Loki nodded, looking almost sympathetic, but Tony shook his head as his faceplate retracted. "What are you?"
"You would call them angels." Thor whispered. "Loki often spoke of a friend, a fellow trickster, Gabriel. I assume, you are he?"
Loki-Gabriel nodded. "Yep, I'm Gabriel and Loki wanted to sleep, to be free. I though he deserved it after the life he lived, the pain he endured."
"Can-can I speak with him?" Thor asked, moving toward the smaller man.
Gabriel tilted his head, watching Thor and then shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid not. When I found him, he was almost dead from the torture suffered at the hands of the Chitauri who stole him and he welcomed me. I asked if he would like to sleep or to watch and he said sleep. He has sunken so far down into himself that I cannot reach him." Thor looked stricken but Loki's face hardened. "I also believe that you do not deserve the privilege." Gabriel told the god. "You wondered why he went mad, but you never wanted to accept that it was because of you and your treatment of him. Think on your sins, Thor Odinson." the angel smirked harshly which belied the lollipop in his mouth and his bright mischievous eyes, snapped his fingers and vanished.
Thor fell to his knees and stared at his hammer while the other Avengers watched him and tried to digest the meeting that they had just witnessed. All that they knew for sure was this: Loki was gone, Gabriel was in his body and they had no idea what this 'angel' was capable of or whose side he was on. If he was anyone's side at all.