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The Western Shore

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“Loki, please?”

For the ninth time that night, Loki rolled his eyes at the question. “No.

Still, when he looked over at the prone form of his brother lying in his bed, gloriously naked and streaked with white from their previous three orgasms of the night, he had to fight back a smile. It didn’t help that Thor was looking at him with such big, pleading eyes that would put a puppy to shame.

But Loki wouldn’t take the bait. “First of all, you should have been asleep two hours ago. You can’t attend your own coronation ceremony struggling to stay awake. As your brother, that’s my job.”

“Hang on!” Thor protested. “Who was it that invited me to his bedchamber tonight, with the promise of ‘such delicacies befitting a future king?'”

“What was I supposed to say in front of Mother and Father? ‘Fancy sucking your brother’s cock when you’re finished with dinner?’”

Thor smirked. “I would have paid a handsome sum to see the look on Father’s face if you did.”

“Right,” Loki scoffed, “like I need another reason for him to be disappointed in me.” He could feel Thor about to argue that point, with the familiar reassurances of ‘He’s not disappointed in you,’ and other such niceties that older brothers are supposed to say. Well, maybe not just older brothers. Maybe that was just a Thor thing.

Whatever. Loki didn’t feel like hearing it. He was getting sidetracked, anyway. “Second of all, you have been perfectly content with my mouth and my ass for the last four hundred years. Why you need to add a third hole to your prized collection is beyond me.”

“That’s not what this is about!”

“Then what is it about?” Now Loki was heading away from gentle exasperation, and more toward true annoyance.

At his tone, Thor grew sheepish, and shrugged. “It’s special.”

Loki’s eyes started hurting from how hard they rolled at that. “Why do we bother praying to the Norns at all? We might as well build temples to vaginas, the way every man seems to worship them.”

Thor laughed at that. “I don’t recall any complaints about how I’ve worshipped yours.”

Loki hit Thor with the nearest pillow, which worked well to distract Thor from how hard that made Loki blush. Oh, how arrogant Thor could be about his skills in bed!

The worst part was that he had every right to be arrogant. Thor was a master at deepthroating a cock, and an artist with his tongue when he ate out a cunt. Loki had never had anyone half as talented between his legs, and he used to bed Fandral!

“But in all seriousness,” Thor said, though he looked prepared to flinch from another pillow assault promised by Loki’s warning glare. “That’s not what I meant, that penetrating your cunt is special in itself. Well, it is. But it’s because it’s with you.

Loki raised an eyebrow, in an expression of What bullshit is about to come spewing out your mouth now, Brother Dearest? But he didn’t say anything, thereby allowing said bullshit to continue unchallenged. For now.

Thor started caressing Loki’s thigh, the gentle touch enough to make his skin break out in gooseflesh. “It’s such an intimate act, shared between lovers. I would not want to share it with anyone but you. And since this is our last night as two princes, I wanted to make tonight special. That’s all.”

Right. That’s all. As if the ideas of intimacy and equality and feeling special to someone weren’t the wishes carved into Loki’s heart. All it took was someone speaking them to send that heart racing. Particularly if that someone was his stupid perfect idiot of a brother.

Well, if he could get the one concession from Thor that was required, then…maybe…

“If we were to do this-”

Thor jolted upright and lunged for Loki’s lips. But Loki stayed him an inch away with a hand on his chest. “If we were-”

Thor nodded eagerly.

“Will you promise to pull out?”

Loki caught the microexpression of disappointment on Thor’s face before he could cover it up. But he quickly said, “Of course, of course, Brother!”

Ah. So that was an important part of it for Thor, as well. Loki couldn’t entirely blame him for it. It always felt so much better to have an orgasm while clutched in another’s clenching heat. Loki had done that with enough men and women to know that, Thor included.

And on the receiving end, he welcomed that spreading heat inside him when Thor released his seed deep in his bowels. He’d never had it in his cunt from anyone, but he imagined it would feel just as good.

However, though they were not mortals and therefore had no venereal diseases, there was one potential side effect of Thor coming inside his womb that Loki most certainly did not want.

“I mean it,” Loki said. “I’m not negotiating on this.”

Thor was already climbing on top of Loki. “I will not spill my seed inside you in this act, Brother. I promise I will pull out.”

But just as Loki tried focusing on relaxing his vaginal muscles, preparing for Thor to take him, Thor leaned down and licked a long stripe up the middle of his quim.

For the rest of his life, Loki would deny that he ever made such an undignified yelp as he did in that moment.

Thus began another of Thor’s masterpieces, brushing and licking and delving and circling all the right spots in Loki’s feminine sex that had Loki mewling for mercy. He had always tended toward oversensitivity even long after an orgasm. And Thor knew it, damn him.

Thor didn’t tip him over the brink, just kept him on that edge while coaxing out Loki’s generous offerings of slick. He’d pump Loki’s cock every so often as well, keeping both his sex organs fully interested in the proceedings. Norns damn him.

Finally, Loki couldn’t take another second of teasing. “Fuck me, Thor, fuck me, fuck me now, you insufferable-”

And just like that, Thor’s mouth left him. That was even worse. But Thor didn’t leave him bereft for long.

He leaned over Loki’s body, guiding Loki’s thighs along with him, till his knees were near Thor’s ears and he was bent almost in half. Loki grabbed Thor’s hair and yanked him down, kissing him hungrily. Thor growled into it as he kissed back.

And Loki shouted into it as Thor penetrated his cunt. He didn’t draw it out, either, just pushed in and took him in one smooth motion. Loki wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Thor paused there when he was fully sheathed. Loki could feel him trembling with the effort to hold still. If Loki had been at all coherent, he would have rolled his eyes for the eleventh time that night. Now was not the time for chivalry, now was the time to pound into his little brother without an ounce of shame!

Loki tried to voice that sentiment, but all he managed was “Fuck, go, just fucking go-!”

Fortunately, Thor got the message. He started pistoning into Loki’s cunt in smooth, powerful thrusts, grunting with each one. Loki met each grunt with a moan of his own.

He could hardly keep his eyes open, as the pleasure kept dragging them closed. But when Loki could catch glimpses through delirium-blurred vision, he could see Thor in all his glory. His rippling, bulging muscles, his sweat-damp skin, his mane of golden hair that rocked with their lovemaking…

But it was his eyes that did it more than anything. Thor’s usual sky-blue eyes were blown black, his lids heavy with desire. And all that passion, all that devotion and raw lust was aimed squarely at Loki, as if he were the only person in the world who mattered.

That, combined with the sweet burn in Loki’s cunt as it stretched to accommodate Thor’s impressive girth, sent Loki hurtling toward an orgasm faster than he’d ever experienced before. He was almost there, almost almost almost-

“Loki, I’m…” Thor panted between thrusts, “I’m close, I’m-”

Yes yes yes good yes-

Then Thor started to pull out. No! Why was he leaving, why?

Loki did the only thing he could think of in that moment: snap his legs around Thor’s hips to pin him inside his cunt. “Don’t you dare pull out, or I’ll cut off your cock and you’ll never come again!”

Thor paused. Loki whined in need. “Thor, please, please give me your seed, please!”

Then Thor was kissing him again, and he was fucking him again, yes right there just like that yes YES!

Loki had learned over the years that neither one of them was very quiet in bed, so when this secret affair had begun, he had doubled the strength of his silencing spells in his chambers. Once again, they came in handy, as he and Thor screamed out their orgasms together for the fourth time that night.

xxx

The next thing Loki knew, Thor was shaking his shoulder. “Loki?”

Loki’s brain might have been made of molasses. He couldn’t even summon the effort to open his eyes. “Mmm?”

He heard the rumble of Thor’s chuckle. It usually turned him on, but the state he was in, his nerves were far too devastated from the force of his orgasm to even think about more sex. “Just checking you’re still alive,” Thor said from somewhere next to him. “I’ve never seen you come so hard you passed out.”

Oh. That explained it. He’d passed out. That had never happened as a result of sex. In his usual state of mind, he’d curse Thor because the oaf would never let him forget this. But at the moment, he was too blissed out to care.

He chuckled lazily as he curled toward Thor’s hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright?” Thor asked. He sounded concerned. What in Hel did he have to be concerned about? “I know you said I shouldn’t-”

Loki rolled toward Thor, still laughing in his pleasure-drunk state. “F’course m’alright.”

He felt the heave of Thor’s chest as he sighed. “Alright,” he said, though he didn’t sound convinced. “Just let me know if-”

But Loki was already asleep.

Chapter Text

“NORNS DAMN YOU, YOU IMBECILE!”

Loki hurled the fifth cup of wine at his bedchamber wall. It shattered and spilled everywhere, joining its four brothers on the floor.

He was shaking as he seethed over the spilt mess. He’d probably pop a vein in his forehead if he kept this up.

Of course Thor hadn’t been there when he woke; today was Thor’s Special Big Day, which was even more important than every other one of Thor’s Special Big Days. He was off getting each hair combed perfectly into place, while every speck of dust was polished off his armor.

Loki should have been doing the same right now, except he’d not allowed any of the servants in. Not that they were forlorn about it; none of them ever liked being assigned to the second-best prince. Considering the frightful mood he was in, maybe he couldn’t blame them.

But how else was he supposed to react, when he woke to find the dried remains of Thor’s semen where it had trickled out of his cunt?

Out of his cunt? In other words, it had been inside his cunt the night before?

And how the Hel had it gotten there, except that Thor had put it there, WHEN HE HAD SPECIFICALLY ASKED HIM NOT TO?

Loki stalked over to his workbench. He had brewed many a poison and cursed many an object here to take revenge on those who slighted him, Thor included. But this? This called for something special.

Weeks ago, he’d promised a few Frost Giants the chance to steal the Casket of Ancient Winters. They would never actually succeed, considering the Destroyer guarded it, but that was why Loki had specifically said the chance to do so. He’d told them that, should events work out in their favor, he would send them word no later than this morning that the plan was a go.

He’d been waiting to see if he wanted to ruin Thor’s day. After all, Thor had been remarkably well-behaved lately. He’d be a terrible king on his own, but there had been a chance that, if he kept listening to Loki as he’d done in the last few weeks, he might have done alright.

But then he’d gone and ruined it all last night. No matter how good of an orgasm he’d given Loki in the process. He also might have given him something far more terrifying.

Loki decided to ignore the voice in his head that told him this wasn’t the worst predicament he was in. He’d memorized the ingredients to a contraceptive potion centuries ago, ever since Mother had explained to him how babies were made. It would be simple, and take no time at all. He could nip this in the bud before it was too late.

But that wasn’t the point. The point was that Thor was an arrogant, greedy, selfish lout who needed to be put in his place. Loki would show him. He could make the potion tonight, once it had all played out.

He picked up the scrying mirror and murmured the required incantation. The message would get to the Frost Giants. Loki just hoped they would act before Thor was crowned king.

xxx

The Frost Giants did act before Thor was crowned. But that was the only part of the next three days that went according to plan.

It was amazing how Loki had lived for over a thousand years, and yet three days could hold such significance in his life. More had happened to him in that span of time than had happened for the last century.

He wasn’t Odin’s son.

He wasn’t Frigga’s son.

He wasn’t Thor’s brother.

He was a Frost Giant of Jotunheim. His entire existence was built on a lie.

And even when he’d tried to make things right, tried to settle the royal family’s mess by killing Laufey and the rest of his race, it still hadn’t been enough.

Now, as he held onto Gungnir at the edge of the Bifrost, trying not to look at Thor’s pleading face in favor of Odin’s hardened stare, he begged the Allfather to take him back in. Childish, perhaps, but he had no further recourse. “I could have done it! For you, for all of us!”

And then, the two words Loki had heard all his life, which had crushed his spirit each time he heard them. The words Odin threw away like brass trinkets, though they cut like iron in Loki’s heart.

“No, Loki.”

That was it. All he would ever amount to. A simple 'no.'

Thor must have seen his decision on his face, for he started pleading so prettily. “Loki, no!”

But Loki had no home anymore, no family. There was no hope left for him. Thor couldn’t mean for him to keep living. He couldn’t.

So he let go, and let the void of space take him, trying not to hear Thor’s screams follow him down.

xxx

He fell for what felt like eons. Maybe death took longer to arrive in space than he’d calculated. Maybe his Jotun blood kept him from freezing in it.

It didn’t matter. He’d keep falling till he died. There was no other option.

But that wasn’t what happened. He’d expected to fall till he couldn’t feel anymore. He didn’t expect to land.

He landed so hard he couldn’t move. It must have broken bones.

It didn’t matter. He’d die from exposure out here. One way or another, he would die.

His eyes were jolted open when a harsh grip dug into his chin. His gaze met that of a bald woman with blue skin. One of her eyes had some cybernetic components surrounding it.

She smirked. “Dad?” she called out in a voice that carried echoes of machinery. “This one’s still alive.”

Chapter Text

Thus began The Routine.

He had a small cell he’d be thrown into, left for a few minutes or a few hours at a time. There wasn’t anything in there - no bed, no sink, no toilet - so Loki relieved himself in one far corner, and slept in the corner opposite.

He wasn’t in there very often. Most of the time, he was being tortured.

How he was tortured varied widely. It depended on who was doing it.

A huge hulking beast named Cull would just beat him. It would break every bone in his body and rupture his internal organs with the fragments. Still, it was the easiest to deal with. He’d faced similar on hunts or in battle, and healed within a few days.

Once they realized that, he didn’t see Cull as often.

A man and woman would drag him out of his cell together sometimes. They’d take turns deciding which part of his skin they wanted to electrocute next, laughing as he convulsed in agony. While terrible, he’d been on the receiving end of far more power from Mjolnir, so he could bear this with relative silence.

But the worst was the one they called ‘the Maw.’ From what Loki could tell, he worked with pain the way a sculptor worked with clay. He was a master of his craft.

He yanked fingernails from Loki’s digits. He sliced off toes from each of Loki’s feet. He peeled strips of skin from Loki’s chest. He poured acid into Loki’s eyes. Each time, though he tried so hard, Loki couldn’t stay silent. He’d scream, and scream, and scream.

One day in this realm of eternal night, Loki was horizontally suspended in midair by the Maw’s telekinetic powers. Glass-like needles were inching toward his face. He trembled, though he knew it wouldn’t help matters.

The Maw crept toward him, just behind the needles. “Do you know why we have not killed you yet?” he asked in his reedy, serpentine voice.

Loki didn’t answer. He had asked himself that very question between bouts of agony, but didn’t feel it was useful to ponder.

The Maw stopped a foot from Loki’s face. His gaze down at his captive was almost kind, were it not for the instruments of pain he was aiming straight for Loki’s cheekbones. “My master has noticed that your looks and durability are distinctly Asgardian. He requires information about an Asgardian artifact you may be familiar with. But first-”

A needle pierced Loki’s left cheekbone, and he couldn’t help his whimper at it.

“-I must discern whether you would possess such knowledge of Odin’s weapons vault.”

The needle pressed in, and in, and in. The Maw calmly regarded Loki’s attempts to steel himself against the pain, knowing that such efforts had never worked. “Tell me, young one-”

More needles pierced him, and Loki groaned.

“-what is your name?”

Loki felt tears escaping his eyes, felt blood dripping from the needles’ punctures. The first needle at his cheek just kept going. Was it going to pierce his skull, cut into his brain?

The pain kept mounting, and mounting, and Loki couldn’t take it. “Loki!”

All the needles paused with that one word. The Maw grinned. “Loki, what?”

Loki panted through the pain in his face. The needles had stopped, yes, but they hadn’t been withdrawn. They burned now.

“Laufeyson,” he gritted out. “Loki Laufeyson.”

“He’s lying.”

The Maw turned, and Loki looked toward the newcomer, as well. It was a green-skinned woman he hadn’t seen before. From one of her hands dangled a burlap sack, which glowed faintly with a golden light.

Her eyes narrowed at Loki. “Laufey was the King of Jotunheim,” she said. “He was killed three lunar cycles ago by an Asgardian agent.”

Three lunar cycles ago? Loki had been here for three months?

The Maw tilted his head at Loki. “Why claim to be the offspring of a deceased Jotun king, Asgardian?”

More tears gathered in Loki’s eyes as the needles resumed their movement inward. “It’s true, it’s true!” he pleaded. “I am a Frost Giant, I only look Asgardian, please!”

The needles paused again. Loki gasped in relief.

But the Maw’s leering smile at him was no cause for rejoicing. “Show me.”

Loki’s eyes closed in despair. He’d never worn his true skin except when in contact with a soldier or artifact of Jotunheim. He’d never forced the transformation by himself.

Still, the Maw wasn’t giving him a lighthearted suggestion. So he had to try. He called up all his dwindling reserves of magic, and poured his power over his flesh. Trying to undo whatever enchantment he’d unknowingly worn his entire life.

He immediately felt heat in his face at every point of contact from the needles. Indeed, the whole room felt warmer.

When he opened his eyes, the Maw was looking at him with triumph in his gaze. Loki knew it must have worked. He tried not to think about what he must look like now.

“You see?” the Maw said to the green-skinned woman. “He speaks the truth. A Frost Giant at least, if not Laufey’s son.”

The woman smiled. But all warmth in it ended before it reached her eyes. “Still. There’s something else he’s not telling us. He did have an Asgardian appearance for some reason.”

She turned to the Maw. “Find out why. My father will want to know.”

The Maw grinned wider. “Oh, I shall find out, don’t you worry.”

The woman left, and Loki’s heart sank lower with each click of her shoes.

xxx

It only took three more days for Loki to tell them everything.

He’d always known he was less sensitive to cold. He hadn’t ever realized it was because, as a Jotun, his body was designed to live in sub-zero temperatures.

He also hadn’t counted on the opposite being true, that he was even more sensitive to heat.

Now he knew. Once the Maw learned he was a Frost Giant, he’d designed several new tortures for him.

He’d pressed more heated blades into his skin. He’d branded him with hot irons. He’d even arranged to have the temperatures in his cell raised to hover just on the edges of his comfort, so he was slowly being cooked as he slept.

It was when he was suspended an inch above a sheet of searing-hot metal, while molten steel was dripped onto his back, that he broke.

“What is your name?” the Maw was crooning over Loki’s screams. “The name you held in Asgard, what is your name?”

“ODINSON!” Loki wailed. “LOKI ODINSON!”

Chapter Text

Fully dressed once more, he was thrown onto the rocks at the feet of a floating throne. “Behold!” the Maw crowed. “You now gaze upon the might of your master! In your captivity, you have been raised up to the honor of becoming a servant of Thanos!”

Loki trembled as he caught a glimpse of the gigantic being sitting on the throne. The creature must have been at least eight feet tall, with golden armor contrasting with his purple skin.

“So,” the being named Thanos rumbled, “my honored guest is a son of Odin.”

Honored guest? Is that what he called it?

Loki swallowed that retort. He didn’t want any more pain, which would surely come if he gave voice to it. So he bowed his head, and stayed silent. It was difficult to do so when his stomach kept roiling with pain.

Thanos leaned forward. “You will be familiar, then, with the object I seek. It was the crown jewel of Odin’s treasures, though it was lost over a thousand years ago.”

The pain in Loki’s abdomen mounted. He could hardly think through it, let alone summon a reply to Thanos’s words.

A sudden flash of golden light broke through Loki’s haze. He looked up to its source. Thanos was holding up a small yellow jewel, which glowed so brightly in this barren realm.

“This is one of six,” he said with a smile. “My dear daughter was able to find this one. One of its sisters is contained within a cube, which can summon portals to anywhere in the universe. Do you know of what I speak?”

Just as Loki was about to reply, a sudden wave of pain wracked his abdomen. He bit back most of his whimper, but some of the pathetic noise escaped his throat.

Thanos frowned. “Perhaps it would be easier if I showed you.”

The yellow jewel glowed brighter, and Loki saw.

He didn’t physically see, however; he had used enough memory-glimpsing spells to know that these images were being shown directly to his mind. But it was so much more potent than his spells. This jewel carried powerful magic to be utilized thus.

He saw just as Thanos had described: a luminous jewel, identical to the yellow stone except for its blue light, encased in a cube-shaped structure. When activated, the cube sent its blue light to a fixed point several feet away, creating a portal to the other side of space.

The Tesseract. Loki had heard the story of its uses in Asgard, long before his people built the Bifrost. He had also heard of how its power was so great, Odin had hidden it away on Earth, to protect it from being found by power-hungry tyrants seeking to conquer other worlds.

Perhaps this Thanos was one such tyrant.

But Loki couldn’t focus on that for long, for his pain-induced delirium started loosening his grasp on the visions Thanos was trying to show him. At the thought of Odin and Asgard, his addled mind started bleeding into memories of home.

Reading stories with Odin as a child. Learning magic from Frigga as an adolescent. Sparring with his friends as an adult. Sharing secrets with Thor at all ages, chasing him through the palace, chastising him for his follies, inviting him into his bed each night.

Was it all a lie, considering they had never been his family in the first place? Had he lost such happiness, or had it never been his to begin with?

All at once, the memories faded from his vision. Thanos leered down at him from his throne.

“So,” he said, “the Tesseract is on Earth.”

Loki blinked hard through his blurring vision. His abdomen hurt.

Something softened in Thanos’s face. “You have suffered a great many losses, Odinson. And in so short a time.”

He rose from his throne. Loki quivered.

But Thanos was gentle as he tilted Loki’s chin up to face him. “I can help you claim a new home. You could have a new world that would love you. If you are willing to help me in return, to claim that which I seek.”

Home? A new world? Love?

Loki tried to open his mouth to say something. What he was going to say, he wasn’t sure, because it was suddenly stolen from him by a fresh roil of pain, worse than the previous ones. All that came out of his mouth was a harsh gasp.

Thanos smiled. “I’ll give you some time to consider my offer.”

He backed away from Loki, returning to his throne. The Maw’s power started pulling Loki away.

“Consider it carefully,” said Thanos, with a smile that promised what would happen if Loki did not.

xxx

Once he was thrown into his cell again, Loki didn’t bother holding back his cries of pain. He clutched his abdomen, as if that would provide any relief. It didn’t.

The pain only worsened. Loki had been leaning against the wall, but eventually he couldn’t even manage that. He collapsed onto his hands and knees, panting.

He’d suffered such pain at the hands of his torturers, but it hadn’t been concentrated in his stomach like this. Even when the man and woman aimed their electrocuting staffs directly onto his abdomen, the pain mostly abated once they were withdrawn.

The only time he’d felt anything close to this was when he’d been five hundred years old. That was when he’d first started menstruating. His cycles had been terribly irregular for the first several years. Every few weeks, he’d be laid up in bed, unable to do anything but moan and complain.

But this was so much worse. And the pain was only growing.

Not only that, it was moving downward. Into his lower abdomen. Was it his bladder? His intestines? His uterus?

A sudden stab of pain made him scream. Something was seeping between his thighs. Definitely his uterus, then.

He hadn’t been menstruating the entire time he’d been here. Presumably from the torture, not to mention the lack of regular meals and sleep. Now it seemed his body was deciding to catch up on three months’ worth of bleeding, and was letting it loose all at once.

He soon lay down on his side, facing away from the transparent forcefield that served as the cell’s door. He just had to bear through this, as he’d borne through all the other tortures in this place. He could do this.

He didn’t know how long he lay there, writhing through the pain. More and more blood and menstrual tissue kept running down his thighs. His uterus and vagina kept shooting such agony through him as they worked to dispel their contents.

Eventually, so much blood had soaked into his clothes that they clung too tightly to his skin. He clambered to his knees again, and fumbled to slide his trousers and smallclothes down partway for some relief.

Once he did, another stab of pain ripped through him. He screamed. He clutched a hand to its center in his lower belly.

This was the worst one yet. He could only watch as more and more blood started collecting on the floor. But it felt almost like something was lodged inside him, working its way down. A larger clot than he’d ever passed.

When it finally fell out of him, Loki saw what it really was. But his brain couldn’t comprehend it.

No.

No, it wasn’t.

No. No. No. No. No. No no no no nonononono…

Loki didn’t realize he’d started babbling the word out loud. He collapsed on his side again. Tears flowed freely down his face.

Three months he’d been here. Without menstruating. With little food, though he’d kept the same weight. So he would have been gaining weight otherwise.

Three months ago, Thor had planted his seed in Loki’s womb. And now Loki had lost it. He’d truly lost everything now. No part of Thor belonged to him, not even this part he didn’t know he’d had.

It was so small, hardly two inches long. Loki could barely see it through his tear-blurred vision. He could hardly breathe, he was choking so hard on his sobs.

Something compelled him to touch it. He regretted it as soon as he did so. It was so small, and wet from the blood. Still, he kept his hand covering it, as if that would suffice for more protection and sustenance than his womb could provide.

The cramps - he would not call them what they really were, another word starting with a c - kept coming. More blood trickled out of him. Loki kept screaming, sobbing, howling in agony. His hand stayed in its protective position on top of what he’d lost.

He heard a gasp behind him. He stiffened. He hadn’t known someone was watching him.

With dread, he turned his head to look behind him. It was the green-skinned woman who called Thanos her father. She was looking at him, at the blood, at what his hand was trying to cover.

“Please,” Loki whispered. He didn’t know what he was pleading for. Whatever it was, he knew he wouldn’t get it. That’s not how things worked around here, not for him.

The woman’s mouth drew into a thin line. She stood motionless for several seconds.

When she moved, it was to remove her leather jacket and hold it out to him. Her arm was able to breach the forcefield without resistance.

He was too stunned to react at first. She shook the jacket in her hand. “Take it.”

Somehow he found the will to move. He grabbed it with a shaking hand. The hand that had been covering…

Her eyes widened as she saw what he uncovered. Loki didn’t understand why she wasn’t reacting with delight, as she and his other captors had done when seeing him in pain.

She drew herself up taller, as if resettling herself in her own skin. “Clean yourself up,” she finally said. “My father will want to speak with you soon.” And she left.

Loki didn’t follow her advice right away. He let the jacket fall next to him. He curled up into as small of a ball as he could manage, and wept.

Chapter Text

When he was brought before Thanos again on his knees, tears were still racing down his cheeks. He tried to stifle his sobs, but a few kept rattling out of him.

Thanos sat in silence. The Maw stood behind Loki, while the green-skinned woman and the blue-skinned bald one stood by their father’s left side.

The blue-skinned one was tilting her head at Loki, as if curious about his state of devastation. The green-skinned one was looking down at her feet.

Finally, Thanos spoke. “Gamora told me what happened.”

Loki looked up, barely making out the blurry image of Thanos through his tears. He blinked, clearing them a bit.

Thanos was looking at him with solemnity. There was no glee in his captive’s suffering, none that Loki could see.

“It was your brother’s child, I take it.”

Loki sobbed again, as much of a confirmation as he was able to give. The blue-skinned woman raised a robotic eyebrow. The green-skinned one - Gamora, was that her name? - darted her eyes to him, with a look Loki could almost call pity. But she lowered them again before he could tell.

Thanos rose from his throne. “I know what it’s like to lose a child. Many of my children have long since perished. They could not endure what was required of them.”

Gamora’s jaw clenched.

Thanos must have noticed, for he smiled lovingly at her. “I am fortunate that my favorite daughter was strong enough to survive. If something happened to her…” He touched a hand to her face. “…I would never forgive myself.”

Gamora looked up at her father with a smile. But Loki did not see the same love reflected in it.

Thanos lowered his hand and turned back to Loki. Loki didn’t flinch. He was already in the worst agony of his life. What else could they possibly do to him?

“If you are to help me claim the Tesseract,” Thanos said, “you will need to put this loss behind you. You cannot allow such emotions to cloud your judgment.”

Loki tried to speak through his tears. “It…it was all I h-h-had of…my brother-”

“He is not really your brother,” Thanos said. “Isn’t that what you learned in the days before you came to us?”

Loki sobbed again.

“You will need to forget him, Loki. Clinging to such memories will only bring you more pain. And pain will draw your focus away from what needs to be done.”

Loki drew in a shuddering breath. He found himself nodding. Whether he would agree to help Thanos willingly, or would be physically forced to do so, it would be better in the long run to forget all that came before. He’d go mad otherwise, sitting with all this pain.

But how does one forget the love of one’s life? Loki had no answer to that.

Thanos must have been on the same page as him, for he smiled. “I can provide you with the help you need to forget. In time, Thor Odinson will only be a name to you, nothing more.”

His grin rose to the Maw. “Bring him to the Outriders. Make sure they treat him well.”

Gamora sent a startled glance her father’s way. Her blue-skinned sister’s eyes widened.

“Of course, Exalted One,” the Maw said. As his power started dragging Loki away, an unsettling feeling grew deep in Loki’s core.

The Maw sounded delighted. Which only promised one thing for Loki.

More pain.

xxx

The Outriders, as it turned out, were vicious, mutated beasts. The Maw said they were bred for physical prowess in all things. At first glance, Loki took that to mean as soldiers in battle.

But as he soon found out over the next several months, it was also meant in terms of sexual activity. They were meant as beasts of pleasure as well as instruments of death.

At least, that was what the Maw had promised. In reality, all they brought Loki was more pain.

He was left alone with the creatures for months. All the sustenance he received was their filthy seed in his mouth. All the sleep he could claim was when he was too exhausted by the continual rape to stay conscious.

They ravaged his mouth and ass, but it was his cunt they gave the most attention. They didn’t care for his cock, or for giving him any kind of physical pleasure. All they did was hurt him.

Their seed tasted sour and acidic. It burned Loki’s teeth and throat when he was made to swallow it. When Loki saw it running down his thighs in between rounds, he couldn’t tell if it was colored black or red. The red could have just been from his own blood. It was as if they were pumping black bile into his body.

He never stopped bleeding from his cunt the entire time. And each time it wasn’t occupied, small pieces of something were falling out of him.

It took him a good month and a half to realize that it was pieces of his womb.

But they were blackened and smoking. They looked like the charred remains of a roasted pig, rather than parts of one of his living organs.

The cramps never stopped, either. It was as if he was trapped in a constant state of menstruation. Except this wasn’t healthy bleeding; it was draining him.

When this had first started, Loki had worried they might impregnate him, and that he’d be forced to carry one of these creatures’ hideous offspring. But he soon realized the opposite was happening. They were killing his womb from the inside, tearing it to pieces that fell out when they withdrew. Ensuring he would never carry any man’s child for the rest of his life.

Months later, Loki had stopped screaming. His mind had fragmented enough to block out the intense pain. What remained of his consciousness was focused on what he would say to Thanos next.

He would take the deal, of course. A realm that would worship him was his due, yes? And the Tesseract was a fair asking price.

He would need an army, however. Perhaps one of the creatures right now choking his throat with its vile cock, while two more were stuffed into his cunt? They were certainly vicious enough; the Earth would never stand a chance.

His mind was made up just as the creature in his mouth released its acrid seed. He swallowed it all down as best he could. Once his throat was clear of the burning sensation, the other two in his cunt had come, as well. He tried not to focus on the dull ache as the semen ate away at his insides.

“I’ll take the deal!” he shouted hoarsely, hoping the Maw or Gamora was somewhere nearby to hear him.

All at once, the creatures backed away from him, letting him fall to the floor. He coughed as the sudden movement unsettled his stomach.

Once he was settled, he tried to reach for his magic. It took some focusing, but he managed it. He summoned his clothing, creating as regal an ensemble as he had ever worn. He might as well try to reclaim some dignity for this.

As his armor settled into place around him, the Maw appeared. He was grinning at Loki. “What was that, now?”

Loki rose to his feet with shaking knees. He could feel another piece of his uterus descend into his vagina. He ignored it.

He drew himself up to his full height. “I said I’ll take the deal.”

The Maw grinned wider. He beckoned Loki to follow him with a curled finger. He didn’t use his telekinetic powers to drag Loki along. This was a good sign.

Even as he felt the thumbnail-sized piece of his womb fall out of him, and roll down his trouser leg to fall on the floor in his wake, Loki knew he’d made the right decision.

xxx

He was given the Mind Stone in an elegant scepter, which Thanos had designed specifically for Loki’s use. Which meant he’d been counting on this particular method of torture to work.

With the scepter, Loki could send his consciousness across vast distances that he couldn’t manage with his usual projections. He did so to search for the Tesseract’s location, as well as to scout for potential threats that would hamper the invasion.

There was a biologically-enhanced soldier with durability approaching Asgardian levels. Loki made a note of him.

There was a man who had attempted to replicate such an experiment, but something had gone awry. He now transformed into a green behemoth whenever his adrenaline levels spiked. He could be a problem if provoked, but he might be useful if Loki played his cards right.

There was a man who claimed to have ‘privatized world peace’ using his own technologically-enhanced suits of armor. Loki didn’t foresee too many problems from facing him.

Most interestingly, there was a large organization full of people with specialized skill sets. They were used to fight and manipulate other humans, but they were the closest thing to a planet-wide army that Earth had. And they were the ones who had located the Tesseract.

He used one of the human scientists who was researching its abilities. Dr. Selvig was his eyes and ears, even if he wasn’t aware of it. He would be a useful pawn once Loki got on the ground.

Thanos was not going to give him the Outriders. He had, however, set him up with a mysterious masked creature who only referred to himself as ‘the Other.’ He commanded a war-hungry race called the Chitauri. They would easily win Loki the Earth.

As for how to actually get to Earth in physical form, Thanos had instructed him to use the Mind Stone to call out for the Tesseract. The sister jewels could sense one another, and could be used to locate each other with relative accuracy.

As Loki used his magic to don more casual armor (though it was no less regal), Thanos peered at Loki’s face. “Are you prepared for this, Asgardian?”

Loki took a deep breath. He was still sweating from the aftereffects of the heat-based torture exacted all those months ago. His body was still recovering from its repeated reproductive traumas. He was still shedding small, blackened pieces of what remained of his womb. He probably looked quite the worse for wear.

“Of course,” he said with a smile. “Within two days, the Tesseract shall be yours.”

Thanos grinned. “And the Earth shall be yours.”

He left the unspoken threat hanging in the air, of what would happen if Loki should fail. Loki suppressed his shudder.

He called out with the Mind Stone, and the Tesseract answered.

Chapter Text

Though he kept stumbling as he walked, his plan set off rather smoothly. None of the humans he encountered stood a chance against him, especially with the scepter.

He decided the enhanced humans he’d noted in his reconnaissance would be most easily put down if he pitted them against each other. They certainly had the egos for it. So, he allowed himself to be captured and brought onboard their floating base.

But before he got there, he hit the first snag in his plan.

He was strapped into one of their smaller flying craft, and two of the humans were bickering already. But as they flew through the night air, thunder started to roll all around them.

It made the plane shake. But as the lightning kept flashing, over and over again, Loki got the prickling feeling that there was more to this storm than the usual Midgardian weather.

It couldn’t be…

He looked around nervously as another lightning strike illuminated the skies. The enhanced soldier turned to him. “What’s the matter, scared of a little lightning?”

“I’m not overly fond of what follows,” Loki replied.

Sure enough, a telltale thud echoed on the roof of the ship. Loki’s heart started to sink.

The armored man opened the jet’s back entry ramp to meet this threat head-on. But Loki knew it would be useless.

And there, at the back of the jet, dropped the one person Loki had hoped to never see again.

Thor.

xxx

Thor was not gentle with him. Loki decided he preferred it that way, rather than Thor trying to cajole him back to his side with tender declarations of love. Such a love did not exist, anyway. They were not brothers.

Loki said as much when he mockingly asked if Thor mourned him. Thor said he did, they all did. Pfft. A likely story.

Thor even said “Our father,” which Loki could not tolerate. “Your father,” he hissed. Thor looked stricken, but Loki took the opening to brush him off.

Still, as he kept talking to Thor, he was confused by how much Thor clung to the idea that they were still brothers. Or at least, that they were still something. Loki cut him off at every turn. To acknowledge those words with anything other than derision would stir those pangs of longing in Loki’s chest that he had silenced long ago.

It will only bring more pain. And pain would draw your focus from what needs to be done.

So he did what needed to be done. He boasted of conquering the realm Thor loved. He jeered the name "Odinson" to emphasize their separation. Sure enough, it got the rise out of Thor he’d counted on, as he yelled at him to give up his bid for power.

But then he did something Loki did not expect, what Loki had dreamed of having through each stage of his torture. Thor placed his hand on the side of Loki’s neck, and gently pleaded with him. “You come home.

Home.

What Loki had longed for for months, even if he no longer belonged on Asgard. Where his brother would jest with him, and laugh with him, and whisper softly to him. Where he would bring Loki such comfort, and pleasure, and joy.

Loki realized too late that his mask had slipped. Still, he quickly recovered himself, and returned to speaking of the Tesseract. “I don’t have it.”

It worked. Thor let go of him, and reached for Mjolnir. Back on schedule.

xxx

In the end, he failed.

The mortals were broken apart, only to rejoin together stronger than before. With Thor among them, they were easily able to overcome the Chitauri, close the Tesseract’s portal, and beat Loki into the floor.

So not only had he lost possession of the Tesseract, he’d lost the Mind Stone, as well. Thanos was down two Infinity Stones for his trouble.

Knowing what he would probably do to Loki should he ever find him again, Loki decided that his best bet was to cut his losses, and surrender to Thor.

He and the Tesseract went back to Asgard, locked in their separate vaults. Two stolen treasures, safe among the hoard.

The one thing he dreaded was having ample free time to contemplate what he’d suffered at Thanos’s hands. But it turned out most of the pain from that time was deadened. So what if he twitched thinking about molten steel dripping onto his back, or shuddered each time he imagined blood and mangled pieces of his uterus falling from between his legs, or tried not to scream as he remembered what a tiny little thing it had been-

No. It was fine. Most of the time, he didn’t think about it, anyway.

But once the Dark Elves came and went, he was of course overcome with grief when Frigga was killed. But his selfish heart was also concerned with his own welfare.

If Malekith and his forces had so easily overwhelmed Asgard’s defenses and killed Odin’s beloved queen, how easily could Thanos and his forces do the same, with their sights set on one of Odin’s prisoners? A least-loved prisoner at that, whose birthright was apparently to die anyway.

As long as he was Loki, even Asgard could not keep him safe.

So, when Thor came asking for his help, Loki began formulating a plan of his own. If he couldn’t be safe as Loki, he could be safe as someone else.

xxx

He didn’t expect the full force of Thor’s grief, crying over his supposed dead body. That waif of a mortal ended up having to drag him away from Loki.

He also didn’t expect how easy it was to bewitch Odin and send him to a retirement home on Midgard. But, when he saw into the mighty Allfather’s mind and saw such immense grief for a wife and son, the ease of the ensnarement made sense.

Loki tried not to think about how Odin grieved for a wife and a son. Even though he knew Loki wasn’t really dead, he grieved the loss of a boy he could have saved. He wished he had broken the truth of Loki’s parentage in a gentler way centuries ago.

Well, Loki had once wished for a reality in which he could marry his brother, and that wish never came true, either. Wishes from the heart were always too little, too late.

But in posing as Odin, Loki was allowed too much time to be alone with his thoughts. He couldn’t even scream out his frustrations, because they wouldn’t make sense coming from Odin’s mouth.

So, he hid himself in the ornate bedchambers of the king, and screamed there. Screamed, and wept, and cursed, and thought.

Everyone who heard of it assumed Odin was grieving Frigga. And that was in part true for Loki, as well.

But he wasn’t just grieving his mother. He also grieved his own chance to be a mother.

Did he even want that?

His mind traveled down dangerous roads spurred by that notion. Odin could have reached out to him in his moment of need. He could have gently coaxed Loki back from the brink, rather than coldly rejecting him on the Bifrost that night. Loki would have found out he was pregnant in a less painful manner. Thor would have been overjoyed, and would have convinced their parents to let him keep it.

Maybe with the knowledge that they were not brothers by blood, but both still of royal stock, they could have been permitted to marry, and make the child Thor’s trueborn heir. But even if Loki had to raise a bastard child, and pretend to all others that Thor was the uncle, it wouldn’t have mattered.

They could have had a family. The child would have had a chance at life, a chance at being loved. Not dropped on a cold, stone floor months before it could survive, before either of its parents knew of its existence.

Loki cried as he remembered what it had looked like. What it had felt like as it left his body.

It was too much to remember, and far too much to dream of what could have been. But Loki couldn’t stop himself.

Over the next four years, the immensity of the pain faded, as the grief worked its way out of his system. But he never forgot. He probably never would. His one and only child would haunt him for the rest of his days.

xxx

Of course, Thor caught onto his ruse eventually. And once he did, he dragged him along to find Odin.

Loki found that he didn’t really mind. Some part of him yearned for Thor’s presence, which he never thought he would again.

Though Thor was angry with him for appearing to die (again), and tricking his way onto the throne (again), and bringing Midgard into his plans (again), he was gently chiding him the way they used to do when they still thought they shared kindred blood. Even the jest that he dressed like a witch in his choice of mortal attire was so achingly familiar.

Maybe, one day, they could be something like brothers again. They would never be lovers, though. Loki would never be prepared for that. He was far too broken.

But once they found Odin (no thanks to an arrogant mortal who called himself a sorcerer), Odin decided it would be a great time to die in front of his sons.

And, in typical Odin fashion, he had one last family secret left to spill. Another of his children who had been cast out for trying to conquer other worlds.

Never mind that Odin was the one who had raised them all to think that conquering other worlds was a noble endeavor. He’d died without suffering the consequences of his parenting methods, leaving his children to deal with the fallout.

So, when Hela’s attack left Loki stranded on a foreign planet at the edge of space, he decided the best way to deal with this fallout was to make a new life for himself here, far from Asgard.

Chapter Text

He wormed his way into the parties of this planet’s ruler easily enough. He quickly gathered that the man - who went by such a gaudy, ostentatious title as ‘the Grandmaster’ - was a lunatic who could smile at you one moment, then murder you the next. Loki couldn’t let himself fall victim to that. He just had to work out how to win the man’s favor.

That part was easy. But the follow-through would prove more difficult. Because the way to win the Grandmaster’s favor was through sex.

Six years ago, this would have been the easiest game for Loki to play. While his cunt had been a virgin before that night with Thor, the rest of his body had been anything but. He was a Prince of Asgard, after all, and not one above playing games of seduction to get what he wanted.

But after what Thanos’s creatures had done to him, the thought of anyone touching him like that made his skin crawl. There was the risk of too many painful memories overwhelming him with a vengeance.

What other options did he have, though? To wait until the Grandmaster decided he wasn’t worth keeping around, and threw him to his scavengers for their next meal? Or to be thrown into the arena, where he’d be torn to shreds? Or to just be vaporized with the aptly-named ‘Melt Stick,’ which by all accounts was among the most painful ways to go?

No. Loki would just have to buckle in, seduce this Grandmaster at tonight’s party, and hope for the best. He’d survived far worse, after all.

With his goal in mind, he conjured as much sleazy confidence as he could muster, and headed over to the Grandmaster’s synthesizer. A few partygoers had crowded around, cheering at whatever inane riffs the man could come up with on the spot. It sounded godawful to Loki’s ears.

He listened politely to the next melody, and when it concluded, he clapped along with the rest. “That was fabulous, Grandmaster!” he said.

Sure enough, the Grandmaster heard him. “Oh, look who’s joined us! It’s…wait wait, don’t- don’t tell me!” His finger gesticulated wildly as he paused to think. It was quiet among the group for the most awkward fifteen seconds as he thought.

At last, he said, “Lionel?”

Loki shook his head no.

“Lucas?”

Again, Loki shook his head.

The Grandmaster tapped his blue-streaked chin. “Lucy? No, no no, what am I thinking! That’s a girl’s name!” Everyone laughed, and Loki politely joined them.

“Of course,” continued the Grandmaster, “unless you’re one of those progressive parents!” Everyone laughed harder. “Okay, okay, okay, give it to me, c’mon! I give up!”

“It’s Loki,” Loki said with a grin.

“Aha!” The Grandmaster clapped his hands in delight. “Loki! That’s right, that’s the sneaky little devil, I gahahahah…” He started babbling senselessly as he tweaked Loki’s chin. “Now, we were just jamming over here, giving a few riffs a go, and I was wondering, do you think you could, ah, help me lay down a beat?”

Loki cringed inside at how ridiculous this man was, but he didn’t let that show. “I would be honored.”

And so Loki and the Grandmaster started doing what the Midgardians called ‘beatboxing’ together. They went back and forth for a few rounds, with the Grandmaster soon adding his synth to the mix. A growing crowd started flocking to the strange performance.

When they finally concluded, everyone applauded. The Grandmaster was laughing at it all. “Wow! That was just peachy!” He grinned at Loki with a certain twinkle in his eye. “You’ve, uh, you’ve got quite the talented mouth!”

Yes! The Grandmaster had left him an opening, to see if he’d take the bait. And Loki was a fish more than willing to be caught by this particular hook.

“So I’ve been told,” he said with a coy smile.

The Grandmaster grinned wider. “Really? Who’s told you, who’s told you that?”

“Oh, a great many people,” Loki said. “I’ve lost count, really.” He started stroking a finger over the edge of the synthesizer. “I could show you just how talented, if you have a place we could, ah…talk.”

The Grandmaster waggled his eyebrows. He truly did not possess a single bone of subtlety in his entire body. “Now, I like the sound of that! Say, uh, Topaz?”

The woman in charge of the Melt Stick walked over from another conversation.

“Why don’t you take over the synth for a little bit,” the Grandmaster instructed her, “I’m ah, gonna be a little bit…well, a little bit occupied for a spell!”

With that, he grabbed Loki’s elbow and whisked him away from the party.

xxx

When he’d made it into the Grandmaster’s tackily-decorated bedroom, he decided it was best to let the Grandmaster set the pace with what he liked. Of course, he wanted a show. Loki could have guessed that, considering the man pit warriors to the death for entertainment purposes. So, Loki obliged.

The Grandmaster sat on his lavish bed in nothing but his golden bathrobe, while Loki stood by the foot of the bed and slowly, playfully stripped. Before he started, the Grandmaster halted him, and reached for a remote on a side table. One press of a button started some slow, sultry music that could have come straight out of a Midgardian porno.

Loki took the hint, and stripped to the beat. With each garment he eased off, he threw it over to the Grandmaster with a smirk. The Grandmaster chuckled as he tried to catch them.

As Loki revealed more and more of his skin, he started feeling a low heat in his belly. Though all of this - the gaudy interior decor, the cheesy music, the fact that he was doing this so he wouldn’t be brutally killed - wasn’t the most ideal of circumstances in which to be exploring his sexuality again…

…it wasn’t the worst thing, either.

When he flung his smallclothes at the Grandmaster, he purposely missed in his aim. They landed on the edge of the bed. The Grandmaster blindly fumbled for them, never taking his eyes off Loki. “I’m gonna…” he said as he grabbed them, “…I’m gonna hold onto these!” He shook them up at Loki’s amused grin, laughing. “You ain’t getting these back, baby!”

Loki laughed in return. “Whatever shall I do?”

“Well,” the Grandmaster said as he set the undergarments on the side table with the music remote. “You could start by, uh, parking yourself over here, on, uh…” He patted his lap. “Over on the bow of this, this ship.”

“Mmm, I could,” Loki purred, and crawled over the bed like a cat to his destination. When he took up his seat of straddling the Grandmaster’s lap, he took a chance, and leaned in to kiss him softly.

The Grandmaster giggled into his mouth, and responded in kind. It was…nice.

But the Grandmaster quickly broke it. “Now, that is…” He gestured between Loki’s legs. “That is quite the package deal you’ve got on offer there! Is that…” He picked up Loki’s half-hard cock to start squeezing it, while his other hand snuck further back to feel Loki’s cunt. “Wow. Is that something all of your species has? A double feature, so to speak? On, uh, Yodel High, or wherever?”

Loki chuckled at the Grandmaster’s mispronunciation. “It’s Jotunheim. And I…” He gasped as the Grandmaster’s index finger pushed into his cunt. After so long without these sensations, he was quickly becoming overwhelmed by it all.

But he quickly forced himself to focus. “…I’m not sure. I was kidnapped as an infant and raised on a far-off planet. My only contact with them was-ahh!”

He was caught off-guard when the Grandmaster’s finger found that spot in his cunt that made him see stars. The Grandmaster laughed. “There you are, my little minx. There. You. Are." He pumped his finger in and out with each word, pressing into Loki’s G-spot.

Loki lost his balance from the force of the pleasure, and fell forward to brace himself on the Grandmaster’s shoulders. The Grandmaster took the opportunity to steal a kiss, which Loki gave freely.

“What was that?” the Grandmaster murmured between kisses. “Your only contact with your people?”

“Oh,” Loki said, both to reclaim his train of thought and in response to the pleasure. “It was when I tried to kill them all.”

The Grandmaster’s finger stopped. Loki bit back his whine at the loss of pressure. But when he noticed the sparkle in the Grandmaster’s eyes, he knew he wasn’t in imminent peril. Especially from the sound of the man’s warm chuckle.

“Y’know,” the Grandmaster said, “I thought I would like you, Loki.”

Loki grinned in response. He hadn’t counted on regaling the Grandmaster with his tales of near-genocide, but it made sense why they appealed to such a man.

To show his appreciation, Loki clenched his internal muscles as best he could around the Grandmaster’s finger. He felt a rush of his own slick leave him. The Grandmaster withdrew his finger, and kissed Loki deeply. Loki reciprocated with all he had.

“So,” the Grandmaster crooned, “shall we, ah, get this show on the road?”

Loki smirked. “And which road would you like to travel tonight?” He rose slightly on his knees, hovering his nether regions over the Grandmaster’s hardened cock. The meaning of his question was clear: my cunt, or my ass?

The Grandmaster grinned wider at the offering. “Oh, right, well…that is a tough one, but here’s what I’m thinking, let’s start with Main Street first, see how that goes, and then…” He snaked a hand around Loki’s ass to squeeze one cheek. “…Then we’ll see if we can sneak around back later, if we’re feeling up to it.”

That was fine by Loki. His cunt would take less time to prepare, anyway.

But just as he rose further, gripping the Grandmaster’s cock to line it up with his dripping cunt, the Grandmaster stopped him with a hand to his hip. “Woah woah woah, this won’t, um…this won’t get you knocked up, will it?”

Loki froze.

“Not that I’m not good with kids, it’s just I’m not sure if I’m ready for that kind of commitment, y’know whaddamean?”

Loki had to breathe. He had to stay calm.

Somehow, he managed it. “I’m afraid that’s not possible for me. Not anymore.”

If the Grandmaster caught any of the sorrow in Loki’s voice, he didn’t offer any sympathy. “Oh, okay then, let’s get this started!”

And he bucked up into Loki’s cunt, making Loki shout in surprise.

It wasn’t a bad surprise, though. Not bad at all.

That night, the Grandmaster had Loki’s cunt twice, and his ass once. Loki only had a single climax to the Grandmaster’s three, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to attain a position in the Grandmaster’s inner circle. He’d have been satisfied with that even if he didn’t come at all.

Beyond that, the one thing he’d been worried about was how it would feel when the Grandmaster spilled inside his cunt. The Outriders’ semen had burned him, had eaten away at his insides. He’d worried some of that pain would come back.

But it didn’t. He didn’t feel any heat from it, either, not the way he had with Thor on that first night so long ago.

He didn’t feel anything. His nerve endings up there had likely been damaged beyond repair. He’d never feel that particular source of pleasure again.

xxx

Of course, Thor had to show up a few weeks later and ruin everything.

He had to go and fight the Grandmaster’s champion directly (who of course turned out to be the creature who had traumatized Loki on Midgard). He also just had to break out of his Sakaarian chambers and launch an escape attempt. Thor was so single-minded in his determination to die on Asgard fighting their demoness of an older sister. Loki could have admired it if he weren’t so exasperated with it all.

But deep down, he had to admit that he was so, so, so glad that Thor was alive. He’d thought for sure that Hela had killed him in the Bifrost. Without his hammer, what chance did he stand?

Well, Loki knew that Thor could have unleashed his natural powers of the storm. He knew Thor had that in him. But Thor was only starting to learn that himself.

And yet, though he was glad Thor was alive, and eventually agreed to help him return to Asgard, there were some bridges between them that they just couldn’t mend.

Loki’s fingers nearly slipped on the wrong keycode buttons when Thor said, “We should talk.” Loki brushed it aside again, and again, and again. He was probably talking too much, but it was the only thing he knew that would protect himself against the topics Thor was sure to bring up.

But eventually, it became clear that Thor knew Loki, in some ways better than Loki knew himself.

Thor said his piece, saying Loki should stay here on Sakaar. Loki’s eyes nearly welled with tears when Thor said “I thought the world of you.”

In an impulse of revenge against that, Loki made to spring his trap for Thor. But Thor sprang a trap of his own. Leaving Loki writhing in the hangar bay as Thor left for Asgard.

As he lay there at the mercy of one of those damn obedience disks, he couldn’t stop thinking about what Thor had said. Life is about growth, it’s about change.

You could be more.

Was he really going to be stuck in these same patterns for the rest of his life? Acting out on childish impulse every time he perceived a slight? Cringing from the memories of his immense losses? Pushing away the one man whose affection he had truly hungered for all his life?

Was that all Loki was? A simple ‘no’?

Suddenly, the electric current stopped, and the obedience disk fell off his back. He groaned in relief.

He saw a group of the gladiators the Valkyrie had liberated standing nearby. They must have turned off the disk. “Thank you,” he panted.

Their nominal leader was a large and surprisingly soft-spoken Kronan. He happily accepted Loki’s offer to lead their little band in their escape attempt.

As they flew out of the hangar and into the Sakaarian skies, the Kronan named Korg turned to him. “So, which one of those holes in the sky are we goin’ out of, man?”

Loki looked at them. Two caught his eye.

One was a wormhole he knew led to Xandar. It was the capital of a prosperous and cosmopolitan empire, full of wealth and resources. Loki could set himself up nicely there.

But he knew now where his heart truly lay. Rather, with whom it lay.

And today, he would not say no to that man.

So, he pointed to the largest wormhole in the sky. “We’re going through the Anus. The Lord of Thunder needs our help.”

xxx

It turned out Thor really did need his help. In a typical Thor move, he’d had the brilliant idea to go up against Hela on his own, and had lost a fucking eye for his trouble. And he had the nerve to walk up to Loki with his bleeding hole of an eye socket, and simply say, “You’re late,” by way of an explanation.

He may still be an idiot. But he was Loki’s idiot.

Allfathers, give me strength, Loki prayed.

Fortunately, fate was on their side that day, as Thor had the actually-brilliant idea to purposely trigger Ragnarok once the Asgardian people were evacuated. And he tasked Loki with starting it all.

Loki didn’t have time to think about what that act of trust could mean. His feet flew under him as he raced to the weapons vault.

But as he picked up Surtur’s crown and headed toward the Eternal Flame, he paused as a familiar blue light caught his eye.

He’d never wanted to see the Tesseract again. It reminded him too much of the worst days of his life, and the Titan who had caused them.

Who would still be looking for him. And who would still be looking for the Tesseract.

It had been safe in Asgard’s vault. But that vault was about to be blown to smithereens. Not the Space Stone, though. Infinity Stones predated the universe; nothing in that universe could destroy them, not even the world-ending power of Surtur. The Space Stone would be floating in the wreckage until Thanos arrived to collect it, easy as plucking an apple from a tree.

And if Loki left with Thor today without any kind of insurance, Thanos would just come to kill him, and who knows how many other Asgardians. Even Thor himself wouldn’t stand a chance.

Whereas, if Loki had the Tesseract, he could at least have something to bargain with.

He could at least save Thor’s neck, if not his own.

Chapter Text

After everything settled that night, after Asgard-the-Place was no more, after they set a course for Earth, after they decided to leave the necessary organizational tasks for when they’d all gotten some sleep, Loki was invited to the king’s quarters. Thor’s quarters.

Loki wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Thor had been so warm and familiar with him when he’d stopped in here a few hours ago. Yes, he’d thrown a bottle stopper at Loki’s head, but he hadn’t thought Loki was actually there. Not until Loki had caught it.

Loki slid the doors closed behind him. Thor was pouring two drinks. Loki didn’t know why he felt so nervous. “I hope you’re not going to throw one of those at me again,” he said offhandedly.

He caught a glimpse in the mirror of Thor’s smile. “I hope you don’t give me a reason to.”

Well. That was a fair point.

“Still,” Thor said, as he set the bottle of alcohol to the side, “that’s not why I asked you here.”

“Then why did you?”

Thor finally looked over at him. It was still so disconcerting for Loki to see his older brother like this. His usual bright mane of hair had been neutered into a dark blond shadow scarcely an inch long. The eyepatch startled Loki, though he’d seen it mere minutes ago. There were more lines on Thor’s face gathered in six years than there had been in nearly fifteen hundred.

Where there had been a wayward prince, there was now a wiser king. But it was still his brother in there. And he didn’t look bad at all. Far from it.

Especially when Thor gave a mischievous smile that might have been stolen from Loki’s face. “Because, as I recall, you still owe me a hug.”

Loki couldn’t help his grin. He also couldn’t help a rolling of dread in his stomach. That last one he couldn’t explain.

Thor put their drinks down, and crossed the room. Loki braced himself for one of his brother’s bear hugs, which he would always loudly protest but secretly crave when they were younger. But just as Thor came up to him, he stopped.

For a second, Thor just looked at him, his one remaining eye flitting over Loki’s face. Loki quickly became uncomfortable with the scrutiny.

“Every time I lost you,” Thor murmured, “I told myself I’d remember every inch of your face. So even if you never came back, it could be like you’d never left me.”

The admission took Loki’s breath away.

But then Thor gave one of his dazzling smiles. “But my mind’s eye could never do you justice. Not the real you.”

Norns damn Thor and all his sentimentality!

Then Thor was touching Loki’s face. Not just his neck, which was intimate in itself. But his face. It couldn’t be explained away as brotherly affection. It was a lover’s touch.

But just as Thor inched closer to Loki’s lips, Loki broke the tension by hugging him. Maybe the contrarian in Loki hadn’t vanished entirely.

Indeed, Thor sounded surprised, almost petulant. “What are you doing?”

“Hugging you,” Loki said into Thor’s shoulder. “Isn’t that what you asked me here for?”

Thor chuckled. Norns, Loki could feel it in his chest, and it did things to him. Wonderful things. “Um…” Thor said, “technically, yes, but I was hoping for…something more besides-”

“Would you rather I stabbed you instead? Because I still haven’t ruled out that possibility.”

“Okay, okay,” Thor laughed. Loki found himself laughing with him. And it felt so good to do so.

He pulled back to look at Thor again. But his arms were still around Thor’s shoulders, so he was much closer. There was hardly an inch between them now.

And the closer Loki got to Thor, the less sense it made to not go ahead with the ‘something more besides’ that Thor had tried to initiate.

“But maybe you’re right,” Thor said.

Loki sighed. Their intentions had just crossed over at the same time. Could they never be on the same page?

Thor shrugged. “Maybe we should talk first.”

Was he fucking serious?!

“What in Hel would you want to talk about?” Loki asked.

Thor’s face reeled back a bit at the question. “Seriously? After all we’ve been through the last few years, you really think there’s nothing to talk about?”

“I think there’s too much to talk about,” Loki said. “Too much to be so easily solved with a single conversation.”

He felt Thor start to deflate in his hold. He knew Loki had a point. “Still, we have to start somewhere.”

Loki shrugged. “True.” But then he smirked. “So how about starting with this?”

And he softly pressed his lips to Thor’s.

Thor responded against his mouth, which sparked such heat in his veins. But just as he really started to get into it, Thor withdrew. “I thought you didn’t want to do this.”

Loki resumed the kiss. “I changed my mind,” he said between kisses.

Thor hummed a laugh. Still, he murmured, “You’re sure?”

Loki surged his lips even harder against Thor’s. “What part of this-” Another kiss. “- gives you any indication-” Another kiss. “-that I’m not sure?”

At his next kiss, Thor overwhelmed him with his mouth, delving his tongue in past Loki’s teeth. Loki moaned into it without meaning to. He’d forgotten how good Thor was at this!

The next thing he knew, Thor had walked him backward onto the bed, and was smothering his little brother’s body with his bulk. Loki was fully prepared to lose himself in the ecstasy that Thor was promising him tonight. Then, once they were sated and curled up languidly together in their post-coital haze, then they could talk.

Or they could just fall asleep afterward and rest for the next three days. That was an acceptable option, as well. They’d have months of this voyage to Earth to catch up. What was the rush?

Thor quickly bared his own torso, which had Loki salivating. Thor then started fumbling in Loki’s clothes for the fastenings. “Why do you always create outfits that are so difficult to remove?” he grumbled.

Loki snickered. “To watch you grow frustrated trying to remove them.”

Thor shoved his shoulder. “You have magic, don’t you? Use it.”

“But then what would be the point? Maybe watching you work for what you want turns me on.”

“And maybe seeing you naked as quickly as possible turns me on.”

Loki smirked. “No can do. You want this, you play by my rules.”

“Oh, right, like you don’t want this too?”

“I’m willing to bet you want it more.”

“Take your damn clothes off, Loki!”

You take them off, you impatient child!”

Somehow the warmth in their banter had given way to true irritation. They stared at each other in wordless challenge, waiting for the other to give in.

Well, for maybe five seconds. Then they burst out laughing. Laughing and laughing so hard they couldn’t stop.

Thor soon fell forward to hold Loki as he laughed. The force of it turned Loki’s laughter into more of a wheeze as his breath was squeezed out. Sometimes Thor still pretended he didn’t know his own strength.

“Okay, okay,” Loki said, and slapped at Thor’s shoulder to get him off. Thor obliged, allowing him to breathe. “Fine. How about this: I’ll take my shirt off, but my pants are your problem.”

“Fine,” Thor said. As soon as Loki twisted his fingers to vanish his upper half’s clothing, Thor’s hands were on him.

“I should warn you, though,” Thor rumbled as he nuzzled along Loki’s jaw, “I might just resort to ripping them to shreds.”

“Might you?”

“With my teeth.”

Loki shivered at the darkening lust in Thor’s eye as he said that. He suddenly felt lightheaded as all his blood rushed south.

“Is that a promise?” he asked in an unsteady voice.

Thor slowly grinned, and the darkness in his eye was morphed from mere lust into pure, undying love. “Yes,” he breathed. He leaned closer to Loki. “And so is this.”

His next kiss was so sweet that Loki was sure he would die from it.

Fortunately, Thor took pity on him, and left his lips to suck kisses onto his neck. Loki’s breath could hardly keep up with his body’s demands.

He only panted harder as Thor’s mouth traveled further down, tracing his midline past his chest, to his stomach. His hands kept pace with his mouth, stroking and squeezing and caressing all the places he knew Loki loved. Loki had almost forgotten what kinds of touches in which places turned him on the most, but Thor certainly hadn’t.

It felt strange, knowing that his own body was more of a stranger to himself than it was to Thor. Especially considering Thor had missed out on some crucial events in that body’s recent history.

Just as the thought crossed Loki’s mind, Thor’s lips had descended past his navel, right above the waistband of his trousers. His hands, meanwhile, had traveled to knead at Loki’s thighs.

Loki broke out in a cold sweat.

“Stop.”

Thor’s teeth gently gripped Loki’s waistband, preparing to tug.

“Thor, stop!”

Now Thor heard him. He immediately let go with his hands and teeth. Loki sprang into sitting up, forcing Thor further down the bed.

Loki couldn’t look at Thor. He turned to swing his legs over the edge of the bed, and hunched over his knees. He felt far too exposed even with his torso bare, so he twisted his hand to conjure his shirt again.

He conjured Thor’s too, for good measure. He didn’t need to be tempted right now.

He heard Thor’s sigh of irritation when his own upper half was suddenly covered again. But Thor didn’t give voice to it beyond that. Instead, he asked, “Did I do something wrong?”

Loki scoffed. But the sting in his retort petered out quicker than he’d intended. “You’ve done nothing wrong. Not tonight, anyway.”

He waited for Thor to prod further, but he didn’t. He let the quiet sit for a while. It helped Loki get more settled in his skin, for his breathing to calm down.

When Thor did speak again, it was soft. “Maybe we do need to talk first.”

Loki was on his feet before he knew he was doing it. “Or maybe,” he snapped, “we could not do that.”

But before he could take two steps, Thor had grabbed his wrist to hold him back. Loki glared at him. His anger was only stoked by the firmness leveled back in Thor’s gaze.

“I thought these days you were prepared to let me go,” Loki hissed.

But Thor was as unmoveable as his erstwhile hammer. Still, some distant pain crept into the edge of his eye, giving the iron in his gaze even more weight.

“We’ve been shutting each other out for the last six years,” Thor said. “What good has that done, for either of us?”

A thousand retorts readied themselves on Loki’s tongue. They all died before they made it out the gates.

Because Thor was right. Damn him.

Thor must have seen his acknowledgement of that fact, as he let go of Loki’s wrist. Loki slunk back to sit on the bed, like a beat dog returning home with his tail tucked.

But just as he sat down, Thor left the bed himself. Loki panicked. “What the Hel are you-”

Thor picked up the two drinks he’d poured earlier, and held them up with raised eyebrows to say See?

“Oh,” said Loki. He felt so foolish for thinking Thor was leaving. But if they were going to talk, alcohol was probably a good idea.

Thor settled back in, sitting propped up against the headboard. Loki mirrored the position. He downed half his drink in one gulp. Thor did the same.

They nursed the rest of their drinks in silence for a while. Loki did so out of spite. Thor was the one who wanted to talk, right? Let him make the first move.

Loki wasn’t staying quiet because he was scared of this type of conversation. Because he wasn’t.

Fortunately, Thor was the one to break the quiet. “I suppose it was foolish to think we could just pick back up where we’d left off.”

Loki let his silence speak for him. Yes, it was foolish, on both their parts.

“We’ve both changed,” Thor continued. “We’re different people now.”

Loki half-laughed at that. “You’re you and I’m me,” he quoted. Usually throwing Thor’s words back in his face was a cause for triumph. But there was no victory in this.

There was a sudden heat where Thor took Loki’s hand. It was such a simple gesture, but Loki’s heart ached from it.

He looked up at Thor. Thor was looking at him with a slight smile. “That may be,” he said. “But whoever you are, whatever you are, I will always see you as the most important person in my life. Just as you always have been.”

His words made Loki feel more naked than when he’d had his shirt off. Even if it was a confession from Thor, it was Loki who was made so vulnerable by it.

He tried to stave it off with a snide remark: “That’s not saying much, seeing as most of your family and friends are dead.”

But it immediately backfired, as such pain bloomed in Thor’s face from it. Loki reeled back from it, as well. He hadn’t intended to wound so much with his words.

So why had he even said it?

He cursed himself. He knew exactly why: to protect himself from getting too close to Thor. Even though he craved exactly that.

He looked down at his lap. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “That was unkind.”

Thor shrugged. But he squeezed Loki’s hand, in wordless thanks for the apology. Loki knew he was lucky to even get that.

“I’m sorry, too,” Thor murmured. Loki was puzzled at what he meant by that, so he looked back up at Thor to figure it out.

Thor was looking down at what remained of his drink. “Six years ago, you thought you had lost all your family and friends.”

Loki frowned. “I did try to take over the Earth.”

“I’m talking about right after I was banished.”

Loki’s eyes widened. Thor met them, and gingerly proceeded. “You never lost us, though. Not really. You didn’t fail us because of who you were born to.” His gaze softened, with a sting of regret filling its depths. “We were the ones who failed you, when you needed us most.”

Loki looked down to Thor’s shoulder. He was suddenly seized by an impulse of a little brother to bury his head there. He barely managed to refrain.

“Mother and Father failed me,” he said. “They knew the truth, and kept it from me until it blew up in their faces.” He shrugged. “You were lied to just as much as I was, and not only about me. Look at what we just survived, because Father failed to mention he had a murderous daughter locked away all these years.”

Thor raised his eyebrows in agreement as he took another drink. Loki’s eyes were drawn to Thor’s eyepatch. Some of the skin around its edges was still an angry red. Loki wondered if it still hurt.

When Thor put down his glass, his voice was soft. “Still. I don’t suppose it was memories of our sister that caused you to tell me ‘stop’ just now.”

Loki’s face drew inward. He’d really hoped he could avoid talking about this tonight. But fate wouldn’t ever be that kind to him.

But just as he opened his mouth to start scrambling around with his words, Thor asked, “Was it the Grandmaster?”

Loki froze, his mouth gaping open like a goldfish.

Thor was looking at him with such concern. “You need not be ashamed, Brother, if he hurt you-”

Loki couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing.

Thor’s concern quickly became bewilderment. “Wait, Loki, what are you-”

“The Grandmaster?” Loki howled with laughter. “Oh, Thor, you- I can’t believe you just-”

Thor started to relax, and grinned. “Okay. So I was wrong. That’s a relief, then.”

Loki wiped at his eyes. “You really think he, what? Forced himself on me? Played some sadistic game with me in his bed? Oh, brother, you slay me.”

As if in triumph, Thor drained the last swallow of his drink. And Loki couldn’t resist. “Now, don’t get me wrong, he did fuck me.”

Thor spat out his drink, spraying it everywhere. “W-what?” he spluttered.

Loki shrugged with a shit-eating grin. “I had to gain the Grandmaster’s favor to survive. How else do you think I managed it?”

“I-I thought you meant you whispered the right words in his ear, or something!”

“Well, I did, but then I also gave him a strip-tease and let him pound my ass.”

Thor ran a hand over his face. Loki could hardly keep from giggling at how worked up Thor was getting over this.

“So wait, you…” Thor said, his hand still on his face, muffling his words, “…are you telling me you enjoyed it?”

Again, Loki shrugged. “It wasn’t bad.”

Thor peeked at him from between his fingers. For a moment he looked almost like a child, as if he weren’t an Asgardian king in his prime with the weight of his people’s destiny on his shoulders. “That’s not the same thing as enjoying it.”

“What do you want from me?” Loki shot back. “I found some pleasure in his touch. I even got to come once. And it ended with my survival, which was what I was after.”

Thor didn’t say anything in reply. Loki knew he was in the right here. How they’d started arguing about this, he wasn’t sure. But even when they’d assumed they were brothers by blood, it never took them long to reach that point.

He saw Thor open his mouth, then close it. Swallowing his words. Loki sighed. “What?”

“Nothing.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “What was it you said about shutting each other out?”

He threw back a swallow of his drink. Meanwhile, Thor said, “Forget it, it’s stupid to even think this.”

“Well, you are stupid,” Loki said, and playfully cuffed his fist against Thor’s head. Thor gave a halfhearted smile. “C’mon, what is it?”

Thor heaved a sigh, staring at his lap. “Was he better than me?”

Loki went still for a second, before he snapped out of it and looked at Thor. Was Thor really being so insecure that he was comparing himself to that madman?

Loki let out a single breath of a laugh. “Thor,” he said, and waited until Thor looked at him before continuing. “He could never hold a candle to what you can give me.”

Thor’s smile found a proper home on his face then. The whole rest of the room seemed brighter for it.

Loki glanced quickly at Thor’s lap. “Your cock is bigger than his, anyway.” Thor laughed. “I mean, not by much, but still!”

Thor whacked his shoulder at that, but Loki could tell Thor was preening inside at the compliment. Loki let him, with an exasperated brand of fondness reserved for the big lug sprawled next to him.

“So,” Thor said, slapping his own thigh to punctuate the transition, “while we’re on the subject, are there any other recent sex partners of yours I should know about?”

Again, Loki froze. His heart stuttered in his chest. Back to that again.

Maybe one day, he could tell Thor about the Outriders. He probably wouldn’t be ready to for centuries, but it was still possible. What had happened in the cell, however…

He only now noticed Thor peering closely at him. “Loki?”

Loki knew right then that what happened in the cell needed to stay hidden for the rest of his days.

Not knowing how else he could talk his way out of this, he said quietly, “I don’t think I’m prepared to answer that question tonight.”

Thor was caught off-guard by that answer, he could tell. They’d pivoted again, from playful banter to balancing on a tightrope. Maybe it would always be that way with each other.

But Thor said, “Okay. That’s fine. We can talk another time.”

Yes. Another time. Hopefully in a thousand years.

Loki levered off the bed then. He took Thor’s empty glass along with his own, replacing them on the table with the liquor bottles. After that, he took his chance to head for the door. He might as well try to find a place to sleep on this ship.

“Aren’t you staying?”

Loki stopped in his tracks at Thor’s question. He tried to play it off with a laugh, saying, “I’m not fucking you tonight, Thor. Nor will I fuck you in the morning.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Thor said. “I just meant to sleep.”

Loki sighed. It did sound nice, to fall asleep beside the brother he had felt so safe with for so many centuries. They’d shared a bedchamber as children, and even when they were separated at a certain age, they would always sneak into each other’s rooms at night anyway. For playing pretend games of adventure as children, and for sex as adolescents and adults.

All told, Loki had spent more nights of his life with Thor than without him. It was his default sleep setting. Although, if the last six years had taught him anything, it was that his previous status quo no longer applied to him.

“Besides,” Thor said, “we haven’t yet assigned permanent sleeping spaces for anyone but me. I doubt you’d find a place with the solitude you crave.”

“I wouldn’t get that by staying with you, either,” Loki retorted.

But he already knew he would give in and stay here. He knew it, and Thor knew it.

Still, Thor put in one last plea. “Stay, Loki. Please.”

Dammit. Thor just had to use his soft, vulnerable, I-need-you-so-much-I-can’t-stand-it voice. The same tone he’d used on the cliff on Midgard, when he’d said “You come home.” Loki could never refuse Thor for long when he used that voice.

“Fine,” he said. “Just don’t snore.”

Thor rolled his eye at the familiar complaint. “I can’t control if I snore. Because I’m asleep when I do it.”

“Prop yourself up, then,” Loki said, even as he twisted his fingers to conjure pajamas for them both. “If I wake tonight from one of your thunderous noises, I will bury a knife between your ribs.”

Thor set his eyepatch on the side table nearest him. “You do that,” he said as he climbed under the covers, “and I’ll electrocute you so hard your hair will be sticking up for a week.”

Loki’s mouth twisted as he climbed in after Thor. “Fuck you, Lord of Thunder.”

“I thought you said that’s off the table.”

“You know what I mean.”

But Thor was laughing at his own jest. “Goodnight, Brother.”

Loki sighed. All their empty threats dissipated as soon as they’d been established. He reached over to his own bedside table, to slide his finger over the Sakaarian runes that controlled the room’s lighting. The lights dimmed into nothing as his finger reached the table’s corner.

“Goodnight,” he said softly.

He was facing away from Thor, but Thor soon reached an arm around his middle, spooning him from behind. Loki huffed in a token show of protest, but he didn’t move away.

Thor’s breath tickled at the back of his neck when he whispered, “Hey.”

“Mmm?”

A pause. Then, “I do love you, Loki.”

Loki froze yet again. He’d had a record number of those reactions tonight. His brother’s open affection tended to do that to him of late.

“No matter what you’ve done,” Thor continued into the darkness, “and no matter what’s happened to you. I love you.”

Loki’s face felt quite warm. And he knew the thermostat wasn’t to blame. Or the blankets, or Thor’s body heat.

He could hardly hold his voice together enough to ask, “Why did you have to say that?”

“Because I don’t think you know that sometimes,” Thor whispered. “And I want you to know. I love you.”

That was the third time he’d said that in the span of thirty seconds. Loki didn’t know which he would prefer: to never hear Thor say that again; or to hear him keep saying it, over and over, for the rest of Loki’s life.

He wondered if Thor expected him to say it back. He knew his brother hoped for it, but a hope and an expectation were two very different animals. Particularly where Loki was concerned.

In the end, he didn’t. All he could manage was holding his brother’s hand where it lay on his chest. Thor squeezed it in acknowledgement.

They drifted to sleep like that. And somehow, that gesture felt like it had been enough.

Chapter Text

Loki woke up in the same position, with his brother plastered against his back, snoring softly. It was such a familiar feeling that Loki couldn’t help but relax into it.

Indeed, just being back with Thor was soothing. They so easily fell into many of their old rhythms, gently teasing each other as they did when they'd thought they shared blood. Loki didn’t expect to have missed this so much.

But he did. And he knew this meant he might screw this up. He couldn’t let that happen.

And yet, the makeshift council meeting that day did just that.

Thor picked those he trusted most, and those with the most experience in essential areas of knowledge. Heimdall, the Valkyrie, Banner, and Korg; navigators, healers, and technicians. And Loki, of course.

They picked a schedule of sleeping and waking. They delegated those who would inventory their food and fuel, to later calculate how they would ration them and when they would need to stop and resupply. They determined how disputes would be moderated, and how they would assign sleeping spaces. (Loki stayed mum on that last issue, and thankfully, Thor let him.)

It was when they were discussing how they might honor the dead of Asgard’s destruction, that an elderly gentleman spoke up. “Although we must make do with what we have, traditionally the Allfather and Allmother would preside over such memorials. My king, have you anyone in mind to take up the latter position?”

Silence descended over the table for a beat too long. Thor blinked. “What?”

The man leaned forward over the table. “I mean to say, have you anyone in mind who might make a suitable queen?”

Loki had to tamp down hard on the urge to vomit, though he tried to be discreet about it.

He must not have been discreet enough, however, as the Valkyrie raised her eyebrows at him. But she quickly turned to Thor again. “Yes, Your Majesty,” she said in that cheeky tone she always said the title in, “which lucky woman would you like to sleep with for the rest of your life, so we can adhere to tradition for a single day’s funeral?”

“It’s a legitimate question,” the man who had spoken up said. “Now that Thor is king, he must have heirs. The future of our people is at stake.”

Loki stood up before he could think about how prudent such an action might be. Everyone turned to him. Loki purposely avoided the eye of his idiot of a brother-king seated next to him.

He gave a slight laugh, preparing to let his silver tongue do the talking for him. But before he got the chance, Thor spoke up. “I may have a solution.”

Don’t you dare, Loki thought, as if Thor could hear him. Don’t you dare, don’t you fucking dare.

“However,” Thor said, “it needs to be discussed with the party involved. I will report back when I have an answer.”

The man who had brought it up nodded graciously. No one else had anything further to add, so the meeting was adjourned.

Loki promptly ran out of the room.

xxx

Loki had developed quite the talent in his youth of avoiding Thor. No matter where they found themselves in the universe - in the halls of the palace, in an encampment of a military campaign, or on this Norns-forsaken spaceship - he could always put it to use.

Unfortunately, over the years, Thor had also developed the skill of finding Loki. And Loki hated him for it.

Loki played his part under the guise of staying useful, finding a myriad of tasks he could assist with. Over the course of the afternoon, he’d inventoried half the medical supplies, helped install a privacy curtain between two families’ living quarters, and rewired a shorted circuit in the engine room.

He was on his way from this last task that evening, magicking his hands clean of engine oil, when the Valkyrie intercepted his path. “Oy, Lackey!”

Loki rolled his eyes. She knew his name was Loki by now. “If you call me by what my name actually is, I might be inclined to answer you.”

“You did just answer me,” she said as she sauntered over to him. “And if you’ve got a minute, there’s something we need your help with on the other end of the ship.”

Loki sighed. He considered giving a scathing reply, but he was in search of excuses to not return to his and Thor’s sleeping quarters. So, he instead replied, “Lead on.”

She took him through a circuitous path, which Loki knew wasn’t the most direct way to the other end of the ship. Eventually he stated that fact, but all she said was, “Nearly there.”

Loki followed her round a corner, and found himself face-to-face with Thor.

He froze. Thor did not look amused.

But before he could attempt an undignified escape, the Valkyrie had caught his wrist. He reacted on instinct to fight off her grip.

One headlock and several contusions later, Loki remembered how bad of an idea it was to fight this woman.

Thor’s firm grip on his bicep was all it took to release her chokehold. “Enough. I’ll take it from here.”

“As you wish, Your Majesty,” she said, and with a smirk at Loki, she headed back the way she’d come.

“I thought you didn’t help anyone!” Loki couldn’t help yelling at her retreating back.

She turned on her heel, walking backwards as she leered at him. “I do if it means you’ll get knocked down a few pegs!” She flipped him off, and disappeared around the corner.

Without warning, Thor started dragging Loki toward their quarters. It wasn’t far from here. No wonder the Valkyrie had been leading him on such a peculiar path; it was to disorient him.

Loki tried to stammer his way out of it. “Thor, I really don’t think this is the best way to-”

Too late. Thor had shoved him inside, and closed the door on them both. Dammit.

Loki looked at the door at Thor’s back, gauging whether he could sneak his way around his mammoth of a brother before he got his ass kicked. It didn’t look like it.

So, he fixed his ire on Thor. “Is this your way of handling our reconciliation?”

“It is when you leave me no other option, by hiding from me the entire day like a child.

Loki did not deign to acknowledge that comment with a response. Mostly because there was no arguing with it.

So, he smirked, stepped away, and headed over to Thor’s (and his?) vanity to fiddle with a silvery instrument atop it. He wasn’t retreating. Of course not.

“So,” he drawled, “you have me here. What could you possibly want to say to me that is worth our beloved king’s undivided attentio-”

“You know what.”

Loki’s fingers paused in their movements. Of course he knew. But that didn’t mean he was at all prepared to broach the subject of Thor’s fantasies. “You’re going to have to be more specific, Brother, if you want to have a conversa-”

Thor’s hand was suddenly shoving his shoulder, spinning him around to face him. He was now effectively pinned against the vanity by Thor’s intoxicating bulk.

But Loki was ready. He summoned one of his daggers to his hand, and held it to Thor’s jugular quick as blinking.

Thor was breathing hard through his nostrils as he attempted to keep his frustrations in check. They were so close that Loki could feel each exhale against his face. He had to use all his focus to suppress his shiver.

“You know what I’m talking about,” Thor growled. “What Drunnar spoke of at the meeting.”

His pretense now stripped away, Loki gave the matter a single laugh. “And this is how you decide to bring it up with me? By tricking me into meeting with you, and cornering me until I hold a knife to your neck?”

You forced my hand when you-”

“And why do you think I’ve been avoiding the subject?” Loki bit out. His own frustrations were overtaking him now. It caused his knife hand to quiver. The blade only grazed Thor’s neck, hardly even a tickle, but it was enough to make Thor hold still.

Good. Let him be on the defensive for once.

But it didn’t achieve that end entirely; it just let the wind out of Thor’s bluster. Made him soften his approach. Which, for Loki, was even worse, because it had the most chance of being effective.

Thor sighed, and moved his hand from Loki’s shoulder, to hold the side of his neck. Loki stiffened. He should have sliced open Thor’s throat while he had the chance. Now he was done for.

“I don’t want to start a fight over this,” Thor said softly. “I just want you to consider this option.”

“And what option is that?” Loki hissed.

Thor’s eye started sparkling, becoming even bluer, if that were possible. “That we could marry.”

For a horrifying second, tears started to spring to Loki’s eyes. He quickly blinked them back down. But he couldn’t be sure if Thor had seen. Knowing Loki’s luck, he most likely had.

Thor kept talking. “I know we used to talk about it when we were young-”

“We were literal children,” Loki retorted.

“And we had a king for a father who would never allow it,” Thor said. “But I am king now. I can allow this if I want to.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “If that’s the perspective you have about ruling, you’ll make a terrible king.”

Thor grinned. “I know. But I think I have a better idea now of what to allow myself.”

“That’s up for debate,” Loki said. “How would you imagine our beloved citizens would take it, when you tell them you’re planning to marry your brother?”

Thor was quiet for a second. He shrugged. “I don’t think they’d care too much.”

Loki reeled back at that. “Seriously?”

“Even if they would care in any other circumstances, they just lost almost everything they had,” Thor pointed out. “All the rules we used to live by are now up for debate.”

Loki was reminded of what he’d once said to Sif, back when Thor was banished. Our people need a sense of continuity, in order to feel safe in these difficult times.

Sure, at the time he’d been giving a flimsy excuse to not reverse Thor’s banishment. But the idea was not without merit. Could Thor marrying the only other member of Asgardian royalty, one who had already held tenure over the throne for several years, count as ‘continuity’?

“Besides,” Thor said, “everyone knows we’re not brothers by blood. The incest taboo wouldn’t really be broken by us having children.”

All the blood drained from Loki’s face at that last word.

Thor must have seen his reaction, for he bit his lip. “Loki, I-”

“Is that why you’re doing this?”

Thor stumbled back at the sudden tongue-lashing. “I’m not-”

“You think you could trap me in here, whisper a few sweet nothings, and I’d fall at your feet and agree to become your baby-making machine?” Loki seethed, slowly advancing on Thor with the dagger till he had him backed against the opposite wall. “Is that what you thought would happen?”

“That isn’t why I want this!”

“Isn’t it?”

“Well, it’s not the only reason!” Thor shouted. “And it’s not like I have much of a choice! I’m king now, I have to have children!”

“Then have them with someone else!”

“I don’t want them from someone else!”

“WELL, YOU CAN’T GET THEM FROM ME ANYMORE!”

Thor opened his mouth to shout his reply, but he cut himself off before he could get any words out, as he realized what Loki had just said.

Unfortunately, it took Loki seeing Thor’s reaction to realize the same.

Thor’s brow creased. It took a few tries for him to get his words out. When he did, they were so quiet. “What do you mean, ‘anymore’?”

Loki’s jaw stuttered on any retort or deflection. He hadn’t meant to say the last word. Why had he? How could he have been so utterly foolish?

He shook his head. “I’m not doing this.”

He tried to push past Thor to head for the door. But Thor wasn’t having it; he shoved a hand onto Loki’s chest and forced him to stay still. “What do you mean, ‘anymore’?”

The look in Thor’s eye was so concerned, hopeful, and terrified all at once. But Loki had nothing to offer him to soothe any of it. “Let me go, you animal.”

“Only if you answer my question, Brother.”

Loki’s jaw set. But he knew he wasn’t getting out of this. The only way he was escaping this room was if he tried to fight or trick Thor, and neither of those options had worked recently.

So, it looked like he would have to fight Thor with the truth.

“Fine,” he snapped. “You want the truth, I’ll give it to you. And when I do, you’ll wish I had given you lies. Just remember, you asked for this.”

Thor gave a nod. But Loki could detect the uncertainty in it. Good.

To his credit, Thor dropped his hand from Loki’s chest. But he didn’t move away from his proximity to the door. Just in case Loki tried to make a run for it.

Well, by the end of this tale, Thor would probably be the one bolting out the door.

Loki turned away from Thor, and vanished away the dagger. He took a breath to steel himself. “Did you ever wonder where I ended up when I fell from the Bifrost?”

He waited, but Thor gave no reply. Probably because Thor expected him to just give his answer.

So he did, as he ambled across the room, toward the large window that yawned out at the universe. “It was not a pleasant place. A barren crevice of a realm. It was the domain of a powerful being named-”

He stopped. Why did he stop? It was only a name. A name that had haunted his mind for the last six years, but still just a name.

“Thanos.” He ended up whispering it.

He looked up, over at the distant stars near the top of the window. Any one of them could have contained the rocky little world he’d fallen to.

“He had his minions torture me,” he said softly. The phantom sting of molten metal sent a shudder down his back. “They wanted information about the Tesseract, and thought my Asgardian appearance meant I could furnish them with such knowledge.”

He let the silence settle for a while. Maybe waiting to see if Thor would accuse him of the damage he’d caused on Earth, for revealing such information. But Thor didn’t say a word.

Loki knew it was because Thor was still waiting for his explanation. Yet his next words stuck in his throat.

So he chuckled, which ended up prying them loose. “It took them three months to find out I was really a Frost Giant. Then they started torturing me with heat. In the end, that was what broke me.”

He realized he could see his own reflection in the window, if he looked at it right. He looked away, fixing his attention to the stars again. “I think that’s also what brought it on. I thought they were cramps, at first. I hadn’t bled for three months, but I thought it was because of the torture. I hadn’t known-”

He had to bow his head as he remembered it. Remembered how much it had hurt, and what it had finally looked like when-

He shook his head. “I hadn’t known we had conceived a child until it fell out of me.”

He felt cold inside as he said that. He didn’t feel like screaming, though, not like he had the previous times he’d thought of it. The fresh edges of the sorrow had granulated in. Now he was just numb.

“Do you know how big a three-month-old fetus is?” he found himself asking. There was no sting in his words, no spiteful glee at hurling them at Thor’s face. There wasn’t anything.

He answered his own question, by showing the size between his thumb and pointer finger. “About this long. It fit under the palm of my hand.”

He waited. But Thor stayed silent.

So, with a deep breath, Loki crossed his arms and pressed on. “Thanos found out, of course. And he said I needed to forget, so I could focus on finding the Tesseract. He had a rather…unusual solution in mind.”

Now came the revulsion, as he remembered what those beasts had done to him. How loud he’d screamed the first time they’d raped him, knowing it would go on, and on, with no end in sight.

“He gave me to a race of beasts he’d bred.” He kept his voice neutral well enough. “They raped me in every hole I had, and they did it for months. I think their seed was acidic, because it burned inside me. And…”

He could almost feel that ache in his lower belly right now, remembering what that seed had done. “…And eventually, small pieces of my womb started falling out of me. They were blackened and smoking. And they kept falling out, even when I fought you and your little friends on Earth. It didn’t stop till I was in Asgard’s dungeons.” He looked down at where that womb would be. “I don’t know what’s left of it. Probably a mangled mess, suspended with my viscera by a thread. Or maybe there’s nothing left at all. Maybe it’s closed off, with just a mass of scar tissue where my cervix was.”

Now more bitterness crept into his tone. “I haven’t bled since then, so if my ovaries are still in there, they’re not functioning. Clearly, I can’t bear you any children.” He turned to face Thor again. “So if you’d be so kind as to put these inane fantasies out of your hea-”

His words were stolen as he laid eyes on his brother.

Thor’s eye was closed, and one hand was clasped over his mouth. His shoulders shook as he tried to contain his near-silent sobs.

It would have hurt less if he’d kicked Loki in the chest. Loki wasn’t sure what reaction he’d expected, but certainly not one as painful as this. He didn’t know what to say or do in response.

He ended up crossing the room to Thor. Thor didn’t seem to notice; he was still quietly sobbing with his eye closed. Loki hesitantly put his hands to Thor’s shoulders.

Thor’s eye flew open, and there was such immense grief and sorrow in its depths that Loki wanted to run from it. Run far away, the way he’d done with his own pain for so long.

Thor’s hand left his mouth. He gasped in another sob. “We…we had a child?”

A lump rose in Loki’s throat. His eyes stung. All he could do was nod.

Thor started crying in earnest. Before Loki knew what was happening, Thor had locked him in a desperate embrace, as his tears started falling without restraint. Such broken sounds tumbled out his throat, and each one hurt Loki’s heart all over again.

He returned the embrace, and let his brother cry against him. There was nothing else to be done.

xxx

They ended up on the bed together, holding each other desperately. After nearly an hour, Thor was still shuddering with sobs, though he’d pushed through the worst of it.

Loki also had some tears running down his face. But they hadn’t been forced out by sobs; they’d just fallen of their own accord. He didn’t remember shedding them.

Thor’s head was tucked into Loki’s neck, which meant he was staining it with his tears. Loki couldn’t bring himself to care.

“I’m sorry,” Thor was whispering. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

Loki wasn’t sure what Thor was saying that for. It could be a number of things.

I’m sorry I’m crying on you. I’m sorry I got you pregnant. I’m sorry I let you fall from the Bifrost. I’m sorry you were tortured, and raped, and forced to miscarry. I’m sorry you were alone with all this. I’m sorry you’re infertile now. I’m sorry I can’t marry you.

Maybe he meant all of them, and more besides.

“If I had…” Thor said through his shudders, “…if I could have stopped you from letting go-”

“Don’t,” Loki whispered.

“If I had said something that night, if I could have convinced you to hold on-”

“You can’t do this to yourself,” Loki pleaded. Already he felt that ache in his belly returning. To distract from it, he started stroking his fingers over Thor’s scalp. He used to play with his brother’s hair in years past, but there was so little of it left. The spiky strands he had now would have to suffice.

“You can’t go through every permutation of how things could have been different,” he murmured, “or what we could have had, or what she would have been like. It won’t change what really happened.”

Thor stiffened in his arms. He didn’t understand why, until Thor choked out a single word:

“She?”

Fire burned in Loki’s throat as he realized what he’d said.

He’d tried so hard to forget that detail, by calling her an ‘it’ in his head all these years.

Thor seized up in his arms with a fresh wave of sobs. This time, Loki joined him.

Chapter Text

Loki woke late the next morning - or at least, what they’d decided to count as ‘morning’ when they’d set up the ship’s schedule. The first thing he was aware of was fingers stroking through his hair.

He opened his eyes. Thor was looking at him with such melancholy. Last night came rushing back.

Loki just looked at Thor. Thor just looked at Loki. What was there to even say, after a night like the one they’d had?

Though every cell in his body protested, Loki moved to sit up. He couldn’t rest in this atmosphere for long, or he feared he’d never rouse from it.

Besides, his and Thor’s more romantic attachment now had an expiration date. It had to, what with Thor’s reproductive mandate and Loki’s reproductive abilities now rendered incompatible. What could be gained by prolonging this?

But Thor followed him into sitting up. And reached to hold his face. Loki closed his eyes, as if that would shut Thor out.

It didn’t, of course. A fact only confirmed when Thor kissed him. It wasn’t on his lips, but instead landed on the corner of his mouth.

“I still don’t want anyone but you,” Thor murmured.

Loki’s eyes flew open, to his brother’s tender gaze less than an inch away. He huffed. “You know that’s not possible.”

Thor’s response was a beat too late to be sincere in its hope. “We’ll figure something out.”

“Thor-”

“If I have to find a wife, I’ll have thousands of years left to do so. There’s no reason I need to right now.”

“So I’m to be your harlot until you cast me aside for someone more fecund?”

“Loki,” Thor sighed. He suddenly looked so tired. “Don’t twist my words.”

As he said that, he reminded Loki so much of Odin.

Loki quickly moved past that observation. “What about the memorial?”

“We don’t need an Allmother for that,” Thor said. Something in his face shrank in as he added, “I don’t even know if I count as an Allfather.”

Loki’s brow quirked at the admission. Yes, Allfathers usually reigned from the golden throne of Hlidskjalf in Asgard’s Great Hall, anointed with the dark sorceries needed for rule. Whereas Thor had no Bifrost-opening powers, no palace, and hardly even a throne.

Still, Thor was being foolish to doubt his position. “You are the King of Asgard,” Loki said. “That makes you the Allfather, whether you like it or not.”

Thor gave him a sad smile. And something spiteful in Loki’s pain reared its head, causing him to quietly add, “At least you get to be someone’s father.”

The smile vanished. Loki cursed himself. Why did his tongue always betray his heart like this?

Thor reached to cradle Loki’s neck, but Loki couldn’t stand this pretense of being welcome here any longer. He levered off the bed and fled the room.

xxx

He made himself scarce over the next few days. He even found a small storage closet he then repurposed as his new sleeping quarters. At first, he made sure to avoid the Valkyrie, as well as Korg and Heimdall, in case they were roped into Thor’s efforts to find him. But surprisingly, none of them came seeking him out for veiled purposes.

Which meant Thor was leaving him alone. He’d hoped for it, but it still crushed his heart to arrive at that realization. If Thor gave up hope on something, it meant there was no hope left.

But, the memorial for Asgard’s fallen came upon them soon enough. Even Loki couldn’t avoid it. So, he put on a neutral expression, and eased into the gathering.

They had no orbs of light they could float into the air, so they made do by holding Sakaar’s version of flashlights. Nor did they have the wooden boats to be lit aflame for each fallen loved one. Instead, they collected a pile of tattered clothes and blood-stained bandages discarded in the battle’s aftermath, and lit them into a blazing pyre in the center of the bridge.

Thor led the proceedings alone, saying the words that brought the fallen souls to Valhalla. Everyone offered the names of their slain loved ones. The room grew heavier with each one. Loki could hardly stand it.

There was a pause after everyone had said a few names, the silence punctuated only by a few sniffles. “Are there any more names to be offered?” Thor asked.

Loki looked around. None were offered. But then his eyes landed on Thor, to see his brother staring straight at him.

Oh. That’s what Thor was asking him.

He barely reclaimed the wits enough to shake his head. He’d never named her. What would be the point? To make the loss feel even more significant?

It still took a few seconds for Thor’s eye to leave him. “We bid you all, named and unnamed, to take your places in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave shall live forever.”

“Nor shall we mourn, but rejoice,” every Asgardian said in unison, “for those who have died the glorious death.”

Loki stared at the pyre as it ate up their words. Thor’s choice of phrasing was not lost on him. Named and unnamed.

Was that tiny little thing in Valhalla now? Had it - she - died in battle? Had she been brave?

Loki turned from the pyre and ducked into the nearest corridor. There was one thing he knew, which Thor could never understand:

Her death had not been glorious.

Chapter Text

Long after everyone had fallen asleep, Loki still couldn’t. He found a large porthole with enough of a ledge for him to sit on. There he sat, curled up the way he would in the window seats of Asgard’s palace. Watching the stars around them.

“A beautiful view you’ve found.”

He didn’t look up to Heimdall’s voice. “I thought even you needed to sleep sometimes.”

“Sometimes, yes,” the former gatekeeper said as he joined Loki on the ledge. “But tonight it eludes us both, as we mourn our losses.”

Loki’s eyes shot over to Heimdall. He was met by exactly what he’d feared: a knowing look, with such sorrow on its edges.

“I was sorry to hear of what you suffered,” Heimdall said.

Loki didn’t quite know how to respond. There was a chance that Thor had said something to his friend, but it was unlikely. He and Loki had kept their affair a secret for so long, it was now a reflex to hide it from others.

Which meant Heimdall had seen into Thor’s quarters the night Loki had told him. Loki hadn’t thought to cast the usual concealment spells around the room that night. Now he was paying for that carelessness.

Come to think of it, he hadn’t hidden them from the Allsight the first night on this ship either, when he and Thor had almost fucked for the first time in six years. So Heimdall may have seen that, too. Lovely.

“How long have you known?” he asked. He might as well find out how long he’d been deluded.

“About you and Thor?” Heimdall asked. “Since the first night on this ship.”

Phew. That was better than the alternative.

“But I suspected for centuries.”

Fuck.

Loki’s brow crawled up his forehead at that. But before he could ask why, Heimdall answered that very question. “Every night you would enter each other’s chambers, I could not see what transpired inside. Which meant you had something to deliberately hide from my sight.”

“That could have been anything,” Loki pointed out.

Heimdall smiled. “Yes. But from the way you both are with one another, it was easy to guess the truth.”

Loki couldn’t easily refute that. He and Thor were almost always at each other’s sides when they were younger. Even if they spent half that time at each other’s throats, the other half was often spent, well…down each other’s throats.

“And you saw no reason to report this to Odin?”

“There was nothing to report,” Heimdall said. “I could not see into your chambers. And I did not look often.”

“No?” Loki bit out. He found that hard to believe, considering all he had done over the years behind Heimdall’s back.

“No,” Heimdall said. “Believe it or not, I am not in the habit of spying on the royal family I serve.”

Loki was about to argue that point, but Heimdall’s next words cut him off: “Nor will I do so tonight.”

Loki was left there with his mouth hanging open, as Heimdall rose to leave. It was only when he was headed back down the corridor that Loki managed to ask, “What will happen tonight?”

Heimdall stopped, and looked back to Loki. “That’s up to you.”

Loki shut his mouth. Heimdall nodded a goodnight, and left.

xxx

Loki didn’t stay long at the window seat after that. He wandered the corridors, traversing the ship’s length and back twice over.

What did that mean, ‘it was up to him’?

It wasn’t anymore, nor was it up to Thor. Thor needed a sweet little queen who could give him children. Loki was neither sweet, nor able to give him that.

Ever since that Frost Giant had touched his arm that day in Jotunheim, nothing in his life had truly been up to him. Not his identity, not his power, not his body. Not even now, when he was faced with the choice of staying on this ship or leaving. He couldn’t realistically go anywhere without risking Thanos finding him.

Everything terrible about the last few years was because of that madman. He was even preventing Loki from being with his brother the way he wanted.

And oh, how he wanted.

As a child, he’d always believed that going to Thor would make everything better. And in truth, he’d never really grown out of that belief. Not even now.

He realized he was standing outside the little broom cupboard he’d commandeered as his own. It was nothing special: a few blankets made into a pallet, some fairy lights magicked into the air. He’d made his peace with its lack of extravagance. After all, he didn’t do anything in there but sleep.

But looking at it now, he realized it was about the same size as that cell had been.

He shuddered. And looked down the hallway. Toward where Thor’s quarters were.

It was probably a bad idea. He was setting him and Thor up for eventual heartbreak. He didn’t even know if he could go through with it tonight.

But he wanted to try. He wanted.

He was heading down the hallway before he could talk himself out of it.

xxx

He was silent as he slid the door open, then closed it behind him. The room was dark, but not in total darkness. The stars through the window provided some sparse illumination.

As Loki’s eyes adjusted, he saw Thor asleep in his bed. His chest was bare, and Loki wondered if the rest of him was, as well. Thor usually slept naked when the option was available to him.

He padded over to sit on the edge of the bed. He had planned to shake Thor’s shoulder to wake him up, but he found himself doing something even gentler.

He stroked a hand over the side of Thor’s face. “Thor,” he breathed.

Thor shifted toward the touch, even when asleep. But he soon rumbled awake, both eyelids fluttering open even though only one eyeball appeared. That eye blearily focused. “Loki? What is it?”

Loki swallowed. Last chance to turn back.

He let that chance pass him by, as he pressed his lips to Thor’s.

For a few seconds, he worried that he’d harbored false hopes. But soon, Thor was gently responding to the kiss, just as he always had.

Loki only broke the kiss so he could straddle Thor’s lap. He rejoined their lips when Thor sat up to meet them. Thor’s hands held his face, and that tender touch was enough to make Loki gasp into the kiss.

That’s all they did for a few minutes, though their tongues started weaving together before long. But as they did, Loki began to feel that familiar simmering low in his belly, as his cock started to stir and his cunt started to unfurl.

He ground his hips down into the sensations. The action was met by Thor’s length poking him from under the sheets. Definitely naked, then. Good.

Loki twisted his fingers to vanish his own clothing. Upon realizing that, Thor clutched onto Loki’s back, running his hands up and down the now-exposed flesh. “Loki,” he whispered into Loki’s mouth. “Loki.”

There was so much tenderness and longing in the way he said Loki’s name. Loki bit back his sob at the sound.

He busied himself with moving back just enough to remove the sheets from Thor’s lap. Thor let him. He clutched Loki close when they were both completely bared, moaning softly as skin met skin.

Loki could feel the usual wetness now. His cunt was soaking Thor’s lap. Both their cocks were drooling on each other’s stomachs. He rutted forward for some friction on his cock, and couldn’t help his small moan at how good that felt.

Thor reached down between them, probably intending to take both their cocks in his hand, but Loki grabbed his wrist to stop him. “Not like that,” he whispered.

Thor nodded. He didn’t offer anything further, though. He was letting Loki take the lead with this.

And Loki knew what he needed tonight.

He rose up on his knees, and took a gentle hold of Thor’s cock to line it up with his cunt. He had to take a moment to revel in having Thor’s firm cock throbbing in his hand. He hoped it would feel half as good inside him.

But just before he could sink down and find out, Thor paused him with a hand on his hip. “Wait.”

Loki stilled, panting. “What?”

Thor glanced down to Loki’s genitals, then back up to his face. Some concern was lurking in his too-blue gaze. “This won’t hurt you, will it?” he murmured.

Loki’s heart beat even louder in his chest. His cunt pulsed out another offering of slick.

He shook his head. “You won’t.”

Some distant longing came to the fore in Thor’s eye. Loki wasn’t quite sure what to name it.

So instead, he braced himself on Thor’s shoulders, and sank down onto his cock.

Thor probably couldn’t help his quiet “ah!” as Loki’s heat engulfed him. Loki certainly couldn’t help his own whimper.

He had to stay put once he was fully seated. Thor was generously endowed, and Loki could feel every inch of that endowment, splitting him open as his cunt fluttered to accommodate it all. For a moment, all he could do was focus on breathing as his body scrambled to adjust.

It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Thor’s hands started rubbing on his flanks, gentling him through it. Thor was breathing just as hard as he was. He could feel Thor’s heartbeat pounding in his cock, pulsing at such a frantic tempo.

How Thor was able to wait so long for him to move, Loki had no idea. But he was eternally grateful for it.

It may have only been thirty seconds, though it felt like three hundred years. But eventually, Loki was able to rise back up a few inches, and lower back down.

Thor groaned at the sensation. Loki cried out with such a vulnerable moan. He was unprepared for the sharp pleasure that came from having Thor dragging inside him like that. How had he gone so long without this?

He was soon able to work up a steady rhythm, though it was still much slower than he would have liked. Thor probably thought so, too. But it was all Loki could manage right now.

But then Thor’s hands moved up his back. Up, and up. Though his cock was impaling Loki over and over again, his touch was still enough to make Loki shiver.

Thor brought both his hands to hold Loki’s face. Loki looked at him. Pleasure was casting a haze over Thor’s eye, but it just made his gaze that much more intense. His mouth was hanging slightly open as he gasped with Loki’s movements.

His whole attention was fixed on Loki’s face, with so much devotion and yearning and love reflected in it. It overwhelmed Loki even more than the pleasure itself.

Then Thor started to move with him.

Though it was a gentle movement, it punched Loki’s breath out of him with a small “Oh.” But he kept moving with it, meeting each of Thor’s thrusts with his own.

Their lovemaking was not usually this quiet, nor this tender. But tonight, this was what they both needed. Loki drowned himself in the slow dance, as he and Thor twined together and shared breath. Moving together as one being, reunited after six years of anguish and loss tore them apart.

Loki’s orgasm took him by surprise. He’d kissed Thor, then saw Thor looking at him, mouthing his name but unable to get the word out. And Loki was lost.

Thor held him through it, rolling his hips in slow circles as Loki spasmed around him and spilled between them. Loki’s small, high-pitched cries soon tapered off in the darkness.

But Thor wasn’t done. His cock was still so hard inside Loki it must be painful. But he didn’t try to take his own pleasure right away. He just kept holding Loki close, peppering uncoordinated kisses to his jaw.

Loki returned the favor with a blind kiss right above Thor’s mouth. “Go,” he whispered.

Thor did, resuming his slow thrusts into Loki. Loki let himself be moved by them. His own orgasm had left him oversensitive, to the point that this almost hurt. But he needed to feel this. Needed to feel Thor recarving his place inside him.

Thor’s thrusts grew a bit sharper toward the end, and he groaned with each one. Loki knew he was close. He clutched Thor’s head where it was buried in his neck, and clenched around Thor’s cock, trying to milk out his brother’s climax.

It worked. Thor shuddered, and went still in his hold with a low cry, as he spilled deep inside Loki.

Loki gasped.

He felt it.

He could feel the splatters of Thor’s seed inside him.

It was warm.

But it was only there for a flash. Then it was gone. Loki might have imagined it. Maybe his memory was filling in the gaps of what it used to feel like.

Thor was groaning into Loki’s neck with his own aftershocks. Loki held him through it, pressing a kiss to his temple.

Tears started to prick Loki's eyes.

He didn’t know where they were coming from at first. There had only been a few times in his life when he’d cried after sex. Yes, they had all been with Thor, because of course they were.

But those moments had come from a heady mixture of pleasure and deep shame about that pleasure. Because he’d received it from his brother, which at the time was an idea with which he’d still been trying to reconcile.

Whereas now, there was no shame in this at all. There was everything else.

There was the immense relief that they’d finally shared this after so long without. There was the grief of their losses that had driven them apart in the first place. There was the opening of the pressure valve on Loki’s emotions, from handling that grief on his own for so long.

But now, he could finally grieve with the one person who mattered. With Odin’s other son, with Frigga’s other son.

With his daughter’s father.

With his brother. With the love of his life. With Thor.

Thor sniffed. Loki reached to Thor’s chin to tilt his head up. Thor blinked at him through his own tears, as much of a mess as Loki was right now.

Loki kissed him. Thor cradled the side of Loki’s head as he kissed back. He tasted salty from their combined tears. Loki didn’t care.

Even when they broke apart, they just breathed together. Holding each other close. Together at last, the way they’d always wanted.

Chapter Text

“Are you alright?”

Loki broke from his reverie to focus on Bruce Banner’s words. “What?”

Banner looked like he was about to dart away from him. The man usually looked quite pathetic, but even more so when he was unsure. Especially wearing Tony Stark’s clothes. “You just…you’ve been a lot more…smiley lately.”

“And that means I’m not alright?”

“Either that, or it means we might not be,” Banner said. “Just…the last time you were this happy, you were trying to take over my planet.”

Loki smirked. Of course, Banner wouldn’t know that Loki had been anything but happy during his bid for power over Midgard. But Loki wasn’t going to let on about that. Besides, it was much more fun to string this little mortal along, provided he didn’t piss him off.

So, he put his feet up on the array of instruments he’d been sitting in front of on the ship’s bridge. “You’d rather I was irritable or dissatisfied?”

Banner’s eyes widened comically. “No no no, I think that’d be worse. Well…I don’t know what would be worse. Just…” He drew his palms close together in a narrowing motion. “Maybe stay more toward the middle, okay? Y’know, neutral.”

Loki gave a single laugh. “Forgive me if I don’t think it wise to take advice on emotional regulation from a man such as yourself.”

“Hey!” Banner said, stepping forward. “You wanna try insulting me? See how far that gets you before we go for Stark Tower 2.0.”

Loki scoffed, even as he stiffened at the reminder. The only reason that beating hadn’t knocked loose half his uterus was because it was nearly all gone by that time.

Still, he found his smile quickly returning to him. It had been doing that the last several weeks.

Banner was just staring at him. “You’re doing it again.”

Loki just hummed in acknowledgement. His thoughts were drifting far away.

It made Banner shift uncomfortably. “What are you even happy about, anyway?”

That recaptured Loki’s attention. He arched a brow at Banner. For a second, he considered telling him the truth: I’m imagining my brother’s fat cock splitting me open, like it’s been doing the last few weeks.

But, while Thor was convinced there would be no consequences from their citizens if they knew the truth, Loki wasn’t so sure. Besides, he could still pull an amusing reaction from Banner if he kept his answer vague.

So, he settled for giving the man a sly grin and saying, “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

Sure enough, Banner looked horrified. Norns only knew what complicated scheme to destroy them all he thought Loki was cooking up.

But before he could express his concern, a familiar voice rumbled from across the room. “I didn’t know you two were on speaking terms.”

Loki’s cock twitched at the sound. He grinned wider.

Banner turned to Thor, and pointed an accusing finger at Loki. “I’m about ninety-nine percent sure he’s plotting something.”

“Plotting?” Thor asked, as he made his way toward the two of them. “Brother, I thought you weren’t going to do that anymore.”

“I’m not,” Loki said. “Your friend just thinks I am.”

Thor pushed at Loki’s feet, nudging them off the navigation instruments. Loki shot him a spiteful grin.

“I mean…” Banner said, “he didn’t exactly say it, but…” He gestured toward Loki’s smirking face. “Look at him! When has he ever been happy about something that didn’t involve stabbing people?”

Thor tilted his head in consideration of that point. But Loki could see the amusement lurking in Thor’s eye. He knew exactly what was making Loki so upbeat of late.

“You have a point,” Thor said to the mortal. “A grin like that on Loki’s face is not to be trusted.”

Though it was meant to be part of the facade, Loki couldn’t help his eye roll. So what if he tended to backstab his way into positions of power whenever he wanted? He had the right to smile if he felt like it!

Still, he let Thor manhandle him out of his chair. “I think you and I had better have a talk, Brother,” Thor growled. Loki put up a show of huffing in reply, and let Thor drag him away.

As he did so, he gave Banner a menacing grin. Just to keep him on his toes.

He could hardly resist giggling the rest of the way to his and Thor’s quarters. By the time the door sealed them inside their bedroom, he was flat-out belly-laughing.

Thor interrupted his laughing to kiss him. Loki allowed it, though he still giggled into Thor’s mouth.

“Why do you feel the need to antagonize everyone you meet?” Thor asked him between kisses.

Loki hummed his next chuckle as Thor started walking him backward toward the bed. After another kiss, he replied, “Because it’s fun.”

“But Banner?” Thor asked him. “You really think it’s wise to get on his bad side?”

Loki reclined back onto the bed he’d felt behind his knees. A twist of his hand was all it took to vanish their clothes. “He didn’t turn into the Hulk, did he? It was fine.”

Thor gave a long-suffering sigh, even as he leaned down to shove his tongue down Loki’s throat. “You’re far too reckless, Brother,” he murmured between kisses.

“Oh?” Loki said. “And who could I have gotten that from?”

Thor chuckled. But as he did, he suddenly withdrew from Loki’s lips. Loki was about to complain, but Thor’s purpose was made clear soon enough, as he flipped Loki over quick as blinking, manhandling him onto his hands and knees.

If Loki’s cunt was wet before, it was positively drenched now. He couldn’t help his wanton trembling in the anticipation of what Thor would give him next. Sweet, playful, rough, teasing - he didn’t care. He wanted it all, and even more after that.

He felt a dip in the mattress as Thor knelt behind him. Then there were calloused palms on his back, rubbing up and down in easy strokes. Gentle, then. Loki could roll with that.

Thor leaned over his back. Loki could feel his brother’s hardened cock against the back of his thigh. Oh, yes.

“We don’t need holes smashed into the floor of this ship,” Thor chided into his ear. “Loki-shaped or otherwise.”

Though Thor was being more dominant, Loki could hear the undercurrent of desperation in his voice, how it shook with the force of his desire. It made Loki grin, even as he shivered.

Not that his own voice was doing that much better as he retorted, “Why don’t you tell that to your friend?”

He gasped as Thor smacked his right ass cheek.

“Banner’s not the one who will start something,” Thor uttered into Loki’s ear. “You, on the other hand…”

He swatted the left cheek this time. Loki whined.

But Thor’s next touch was back to gentleness again, as he rubbed both cheeks to soothe the sting away. “Was that too much?”

It took Loki a second to realize what Thor was asking. He was almost insulted. Why would getting spanked twice be too much for him? It was still quite vanilla by their standards, and even the more risky practices they’d experimented with throughout the years couldn’t be counted in the realm of physical torture.

He glanced over his shoulder to Thor’s concerned gaze. “You stop now,” Loki growled, “and I’ll cut your balls off and wear them around my neck as a trophy.”

Thor was already grinning halfway through Loki’s threat. By the time Loki had finished, he had brought his hand back down onto Loki’s ass. Loki groaned with delight.

Thor didn’t let up. It took a good twenty or so smacks before he stopped. By that time, Loki had lowered onto his elbows, and was moaning and drooling into the sheets, delirious with the endorphin high.

And though he welcomed the soothing motions of Thor rubbing his reddened flesh afterward, Loki didn’t want a break. He pushed back on Thor’s hands. “More,” he pleaded, “more, damn you, give me, I want-”

Thor grabbed Loki’s hips, and yanked him back onto his cock. Loki howled out his rapture. “Yes, yes, yes!”

Thor hardly paused to groan his relief before he was pounding into Loki’s cunt at a frantic pace. The slapping sounds of skin on skin echoed around the room. Each fuck inside him punched another moan out of Loki.

He’d missed this so much. The passion, the frenetic pitch of their desire, the animalistic way Thor could express his devotion. It spoke of a deeper and more unyielding love than the most lavish gift or most saccharine poetry ever could.

And yes, having a large cock that could split him in two helped. But when that large cock belonged to the brother who knew him best, whom he would love for the rest of time? There was nothing better.

Eventually, Thor hauled him up from his elbows, pulling him into an upright kneeling position with his back flush against Thor’s chest. Thor was moaning just as loudly as Loki as he hurtled them both toward their peaks. Loki clutched a hand over Thor’s on his chest, and the other dug into the meat of Thor’s ass, spurring him on.

Loki didn’t bother touching himself; he knew he’d come from the fucking alone. But he didn’t want to hurry it along. He staved it off as long as he could, while clenching around Thor’s cock with each thrust inside him. He still needed to see if…

Thor’s thrusts became more erratic, and thus even more jarring inside Loki. Loki welcomed it all. Almost there, almost-

There it was. Thor yelled into Loki’s shoulder as he came in violent spurts. He pushed hard into Loki’s cunt as he did, which would have hurt if it weren’t so goddamn perfect.

Loki closed his eyes as he felt it. The unmistakable rush of warm semen inside him. With it came a different kind of euphoria, one that had him moaning brokenly into the room. In the end, that was what made him come untouched onto the sheets, as he went taut in Thor’s hold and shivered through it with hoarse cries.

They were both panting as they came down from it. Loki realized belatedly that he might have drawn blood from where he’d clawed into Thor’s ass. Well, now they’d both have trouble sitting down. At least they were equal in their debauchery.

Thor was careful as he pulled out. As he did, a trickle of his come slid down Loki’s thigh. Loki didn’t know if he preferred being marked with it everywhere, or if he wanted to keep it all inside him.

Either way, he slumped onto the pillows as soon as Thor stopped holding him up. Thor followed, collapsing next to him. He still held Loki close with an arm around his waist as they caught their breaths.

Loki was the one to stir first. He looked over to Thor’s blissed-out face and said, “You’re becoming downright mischievous.”

He could tell Thor’s eye was only now coming back into focus. When it did, Thor gave him a lazy grin. “Now, who could I have gotten that from?” Loki weakly chuckled with him in response.

They lay there together for a few minutes more, neither of them moving except to absently caress each other. Loki let himself drift. He hadn’t felt this happy in a long, long time.

Thor stirred after a while. He rolled Loki more on his side, and used a corner of the sheets to start cleaning off their drying come. Loki sighed at the gentle treatment.

But no matter how gentle it was, he still hissed with oversensitivity when Thor started cleaning between his labia. “Sorry,” Thor murmured. He settled for cleaning the remains of slick and spend from the outside of Loki’s vulva, and left it at that. Loki assumed Thor would clean the rest of it later.

And knowing Thor, he’d probably do it with his tongue. Loki smiled at the thought.

“Banner’s right, you know.”

Loki looked up to Thor at the comment, watching as his brother settled back down onto the pillows. Thor was looking at him with a curious expression. “You have been abnormally happy the last few weeks.”

Loki raised an eyebrow at him. “Well, I have been getting at least three good orgasms a day.”

“I gave you three good orgasms a day for centuries,” Thor pointed out. “And you were still a moody prick half the time.”

Loki opened his mouth to protest, but no words came out. Because Thor was right about that.

“And it’s not just that,” Thor said. “You’ve been almost bouncing off the walls. You have more energy, more of an appetite.” He gave Loki a lopsided grin. “Not that I’m complaining, because I want you to be happy. It’s just…different.”

Loki shrugged. “It’s been a long time, I suppose. My cunt hasn’t been properly fucked in six years.”

Thor stiffened. It took a second for Loki to realize why, and it made him regret his last comment.

Yes, his cunt had been fucked in the last six years. But with the Outriders, and even with the Grandmaster, none of it was entirely his choice. Perhaps instead of saying 'properly' fucked, a better qualifier was 'consensually.'

“That’s another thing,” Thor said softly.

Loki braced himself. It still wasn’t completely comfortable for either of them to talk about. Loki would rather avoid the subject altogether. It had happened, and it was over. That was that.

But Thor went somewhere else entirely, which caught Loki off-guard: “It doesn’t always have to be you getting fucked.”

Loki shot him a quizzical look. Thor clarified: “Since we’ve started this again, I’ve always been the one to fuck you. I just want you to know that I’m willing to do more than that, if you want. You can use my mouth, or you can have my ass-”

“No!”

Thor was struck dumb by the vehemence in Loki’s tone. Loki was surprised by it himself.

“No,” he said again, softer this time. “I’m perfectly happy with our current activities.”

“It’s just been one activity.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “I know that. Weren’t you the one who said penetrating a cunt is something special?”

Thor scoffed. “I was mostly bullshitting you that night, to get what I wanted.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Loki asked, raising an eyebrow. But he grinned at Thor, who grinned back, as they each remembered Thor’s arrogance and foolhardiness in those days.

Loki shrugged again. “But you might have been onto something. It does have a certain…appeal.”

Yes, a certain appeal. Such as relieving chronic pain he didn’t realize he still had. Such as reviving nerve endings which he thought had been destroyed.

Thor reached to pull him closer. “Okay,” he said, “if you’re sure.” He pressed a kiss to Loki’s forehead, then met his eyes. “But if you ever want to come inside your brother’s ass, you let me know.”

Loki laughed. “Will do.”

But he knew he wouldn’t want to. He was addicted to the feeling of Thor’s semen pulsing against his insides, how warm it was as it ran down his leg. Even pushing his cock into Thor’s warm body couldn’t compare.

xxx

And so it went for the next several weeks. Loki kept getting fucked by Thor, and always in his cunt. Every night, most mornings, and even some afternoons, they’d seal themselves in their quarters, losing themselves in each other’s flesh.

As the weeks went on, Loki felt stronger and healthier than he’d ever been. He had a spring in his step. He smiled more. His usual sparse appetite approached what was considered ‘normal.’ He slept more soundly through the night, curled up in Thor’s arms.

Thor even joked that Loki’s hair looked healthier. “It’s shinier!” he’d said one morning, as Loki magicked it dry after their (shared) shower. “It looks like the Lake of Mimir did in the late afternoon sun.”

“If you think flattery will get you another quick fuck, think again,” Loki shot back. “I just showered, and we only get one of those a day.”

Thor chuckled. “I’m not just flattering you.” He tucked a lock behind Loki’s ear. “It looks good, that’s all.”

He did get another quick fuck that morning. Loki had semen staining his thighs for the rest of the day. He could have cleaned it off with magic. But he didn’t.

Yes, he was healthier, in every way. And more than that, he was happier. Which was throwing off everyone around him.

Banner kept looking at him with confusion. So did the Valkyrie. She cornered him one day near the medical bay. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you,” she intoned an inch from his face, “but if you’re planning to make anyone’s life a living hell anytime soon-”

“Nothing’s gotten into me,” Loki lied smoothly. Nothing except my brother. “I’m simply adjusting well to life on this ship.”

She looked him up and down, trying to pinpoint his subterfuge. When she couldn’t, she sighed and said, “Maybe. But you’re just acting weird. So don’t get any weirder, or try anything. Unless you want to answer to me.”

Loki fought hard against the urge to roll his eyes. She would probably break his nose if he did. “Understood.”

She raised her eyebrows at him in a challenge, and let him be.

That night, he told Thor about it. Thor laughed and said, “And I thought it was strange that Heimdall keeps smiling at us.”

“Oh, I didn’t tell you?” Loki panted, gasping as Thor gave a particularly hard thrust inside him. “Heimdall knows about us.”

Thor stopped fucking. “What?”

“I forgot to use my concealment spells the first night on the ship. He absolutely saw us about to fuck.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this?”

He almost pulled out, but Loki snapped his legs even tighter around Thor’s hips, trapping him inside. “I…forgot?” Thor scoffed at him. “Well, he wasn’t even upset about it! I don’t think he disapproves. He said he suspected for centuries, after all, and never did anything to put a stop to it.”

Thor was shaking his head with an incredulous laugh. “You amaze me, Brother, with what you think is worth telling me.”

“Just as you amaze me, Brother,” Loki retorted, “with how you think now is a good time for talking, instead of fucking.”

Thor grinned. He was so beautiful that Loki nearly came right then at the sight.

Thor didn’t say anything further after that. He leaned in to kiss Loki, and started rolling his hips again. Loki sighed into it.

When they both came, Loki lost consciousness.

When he came to, Thor assured him it was only for a few seconds. He cuddled Loki close, pressing kisses to his brow. Loki let the warmth in his limbs and heart tow him under, and fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Three months into their journey to Earth, they stopped to resupply at a trading post on a small, gray planet. It was dusty, windy, and desolate. Loki hated it.

But, they were only going to stay for two days, to trade for fresh supplies and to stretch their legs. The children were happy to play in the dunes on the outskirts of town. Even the adults were relieved to have fresh air, and scenery that wasn’t the empty void of space.

They’d scrounged together enough valuables salvaged from Asgard worth five hundred thousand units. Loki’s silver tongue managed to sell them for seven. But that still wasn’t enough; the supplies they could buy with seven hundred thousand units wouldn’t last until the next stop they’d planned. They would have to adjust course in the coming days.

After the two days were up, everyone boarded the ship with a heavy heart. Rations were even more limited to last till the nearest inhabited planet. Still, the Asgardian people were a resilient, hardy bunch. They mustered smiles for each other, even in these leaner times.

That is, until some of the children started getting sick.

What started as a few runny noses and sparse coughing turned into fevers, chills, and vomiting within three days. The healers did all they could, but they’d skimped on medical supplies at the trading post in favor of more fuel. All they could do was hold the children close, and tell them it would pass.

But then some of the adults started to fall ill. They also got fevers and vomiting, but a few started breaking out in red, itchy splotches on their faces and necks. One older woman even started growing lumps in her abdomen. If they hadn’t built a modified soul forge in the medical bay to detect it early, the poor woman might not have made it.

Though no one had died, almost a quarter of their citizenry was bedridden within two weeks. Thor decided to quarantine anyone who showed signs of illness to one end of the ship.

Loki snuck in to tend to the afflicted several times before Thor caught him. “They’re in quarantine for a reason,” Thor told him, grabbing his arm to stop him entering the infected ward. “There’s nothing more we can do for them, anyway, besides give them food and wait for it to pass.”

“Banner and Korg are helping,” Loki pointed out.

“Yes,” Thor said, “because one’s a human, and one’s a Kronan. And only Asgardians have gotten-”

He cut himself off, as he realized what he was saying.

Loki raised his eyebrows, as if to say, You forgot about that, didn’t you?

Still, Thor sighed. “I don’t like it, Loki. Frost Giants are more similar to Asgardians than they look. You could still get sick, and it could be even worse-”

“Who are you, my wife?” Loki snapped at him. “Stop nagging me. I’ve been helping for the last week, and haven’t caught anything. I’ll be fine.

With that, he yanked his arm out of Thor’s hold, and went to feed some children more broth.

xxx

The next morning, Loki was hunched over the toilet bowl, puking his guts out.

He’d tried to be quiet so Thor wouldn’t hear. But it was hard to control the volume of an involuntary reaction. Soon enough, he felt a warm hand on his back.

He heaved again. Thor held his hair back as he suffered through it. It was still another thirty seconds before it stopped.

Loki coughed when it was done. “Can you-” More coughing. “Can you get me some water?”

Thor obliged without a word. Loki drank some, and used the rest to rinse his mouth out. Some of the vomit was still in his nose, so he blew it clear as best he could on some toilet paper.

After he’d flushed it all down the toilet, Thor quietly spoke. “You need to go to the med bay.”

“No,” Loki rasped, “I’m fine.”

“You just threw up last night’s dinner!”

“I don’t have a fever, or chills, or a cough.”

Thor put a palm to Loki’s forehead. Then he used the back of his hand. He frowned. “You’ve always run cold. I can’t tell what’s normal for you.”

“Well I can,” Loki ground out. “And I’m telling you, I’m fine.

“Loki.”

Loki heaved out a measured breath as he scowled at Thor. But there wasn’t any smug I-told-you-so hiding in Thor’s gaze. There was just worry.

Loki looked down, considering. “If it happens again,” he said quietly, “I’ll go to the med bay.”

Thor didn’t say anything. He just squeezed Loki’s hand. He knew it was a large concession on Loki’s part to agree even partway.

xxx

Over the next three days, Loki stole away to throw up no less than eleven times. The twelfth time, Thor caught him.

Once he’d helped Loki rinse out his mouth and blow his nose, he’d hauled him to his feet. “Med bay. Now.” Still lightheaded from the sheer force of the vomiting, Loki couldn’t do anything but comply.

The young woman who counted as the head healer looked exhausted. Her face fell even further when she saw who her next patient was. “I had hoped the royal family would not be affected by this,” she lamented.

“So did we,” said Thor. He guided Loki to sit on the metal examination table, where he was subjected to the usual tests.

But each one puzzled the healer even further. Loki had a slightly elevated temperature for a Frost Giant, but no fever. He had no dizziness, no fatigue, no swollen lymph nodes. Everything seemed normal, except for the vomiting.

When she directed Loki to lie back on the table, Loki started getting nervous. “What for?”

“For an internal scan. We’ve been checking everyone for cysts after Nali came down with them.”

An internal scan. Oh, Norns. “I don’t see why that’s necessary, I’ve only been vomiting-”

“It’s just a precaution, my prince-”

“Loki, let her do it-”

“I don’t see the point-”

Thor grabbed his shoulder as he tried to sit back up. He glared at Thor, only to be met with that soft concern in his brother’s face.

Thor’s hand started rubbing his shoulder. “It’s alright,” he said, “I don’t mind seeing it.”

The healer, meanwhile, was looking back and forth between the two men, clearly unsure as to their meaning. Well, it would become clear soon enough.

Loki looked away from both of them, down at the polished metallic floor. “I want you to leave, Thor.”

“Loki, it’s fine.”

“That’s not for you to say.” Loki still didn’t meet Thor’s eyes. “If you want me to get the scan, you have to leave.”

He heard Thor blow out a long sigh. But then he felt Thor squeeze his shoulder. “Okay,” he murmured. Loki heard his slow footsteps carry him toward the door.

Only when he heard that door close did he let his held breath out. “Go on,” he said to the healer.

She nodded, and started operating the soul forge.

Loki had been checked over by such a machine enough times in his youth to be familiar with it. His whole body tingled as his essence was imaged above him. Then, each part of his body would vibrate more intensely as the healer imaged it in more detail.

She started at his head, and went down from there. Since the images were above him, staring at the ceiling wasn’t an option. So, Loki looked to the side, to stare at the room’s far corner.

The dread started mounting once she started on his chest. He knew his abdominal cavity was next. He couldn’t help tensing to prepare himself.

“Please try to relax, Your Highness,” the healer said.

Loki huffed, and tried his best. But once his belly started tingling more, he tensed all over again. Especially when it went down to his lower abdomen.

“Oh, Norns.”

The healer’s voice was soft. Loki closed his eyes.

“Did you know of this, my prince?”

Loki let out a joyless chuckle. “Well, I was there when it happened, wasn’t I?”

A pause. Then, “I suppose. And this would explain your nausea and slight temperature increase.”

Hm. Loki wasn’t so sure about that. If his remaining uterine tissue had given him an infection, it would have done so years ago. It didn’t make sense that it would happen now.

“Have you been making the necessary changes to your diet?”

Okay, Loki was seriously beginning to doubt this woman’s know-how as a healer. “And what changes would those be? More nutrients aren’t going to grow my uterus back.”

There was a longer pause this time, before she said, “What do you mean, ‘grow it back’?”

What? Could this woman not operate a soul forge?

Maybe there wasn’t anything left of his womb at all, and she didn’t know he used to have one. “I’m assuming you know I was born with both sets of sex organs? I’m supposed to have a womb, but as you can see, it’s not all there anymore.”

“Your Highness, what are you talking about?”

He sighed in exasperation, and looked over to her. He made sure to do so quickly, so he could avoid looking at the image above him. “Can you not see where my vaginal canal leads? Or at least, where it once led?”

She reeled back a bit, though she looked more amused in her confusion now. “Perhaps you should look at what I’m seeing, my prince.”

He rolled his eyes. It wasn’t his job to show her how to do hers. But, if it would get this over with, he would have to.

He looked. And squinted.

There weren’t any blackened bits, no pieces hanging lifeless near his pelvis. Nor was there any scar tissue. If he hadn’t seen the remains falling out of him years ago, he would have thought his abdomen in perfect condition.

She must not be showing him the right cross-section. “Why did you move the scan detail?” he asked.

“I didn’t,” she said. She pointed at the image floating above him. “That is your uterus. And not any pieces of it, mind you. Your whole uterus.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Loki said. “Such a thing is not-”

But as he looked at it, he realized she was right.

There was his uterus. The cervix, the body, the fallopian tubes, the ovaries…

All of it. Undamaged. Whole. Just as she’d said.

He put a hand to his abdomen, and gave it some pressure. Sure enough, the image above him flexed slightly as he pressed on the organ.

“That…” he stammered, suddenly feeling quite lightheaded, “…that should not be possible.”

She smiled. “Do you see what else is there, Your Highness?”

He blinked at her. She returned her attention to the soul forge, zooming in slightly. He could feel the tingle in his belly grow even more pronounced.

“There,” she said, pointing at a spot within his womb. “Do you see?”

He propped himself up slightly on his elbows to get a closer look. Perhaps there was some evidence of the previous damage that could explain his womb’s sudden reappearance.

But once he saw what she was pointing at, his mouth fell open.

“Congratulations, my prince,” the healer said with a smile.

What had she said? Congratulations?

Her next words were a blur, something about “eight weeks or so” and “healthy placenta,” but she might as well have been speaking to him from the other side of the ship. His mind couldn’t hold onto anything but the image in front of him, trying to understand it.

Abruptly, it disappeared. He sat up, trying to see where it went, but dots swam into his vision as he went up too quickly. He had to lie back down again.

“Deep breaths, my prince,” the healer said. “I imagine it’s a bit of a shock.”

She headed toward one of the cabinets on the walls. Loki just breathed. Once he felt enough blood return to his head, he levered back up. Slowly.

As he did, the healer returned to his side, proffering a few paper pouches. “I know there’s not much variety in our food stores at the moment, but we do have these supplement packs for the first trimester. Sprinkle them in your food at each meal. I’m told they should be tasteless.”

He grabbed them with a nod. Both the action and the gesture felt automatic.

“I’ll see you in four more weeks for another scan?” she asked.

Again, another nod. He was on autopilot now. Everything else was happening in a fog.

As he stood from the table and started to walk to the door, the woman called out to him, “My prince?”

He stopped.

“I wish you and the king the very best.”

Not enough of his brain was working in the conscious realm to understand her meaning. But enough of it was to keep him from acknowledging the truth.

He didn’t say a word. He just continued on his way out the door, nutrient packs clutched tightly in his hand.

Chapter Text

Of course, he’d forgotten that he’d sent Thor out of the room only moments ago. Even worse, he’d sent his brother out while he was concerned. Which meant that he’d been standing in the hallway right outside the door like a hopeful puppy.

He should have pissed Thor off, so he would’ve gone somewhere to sulk. At least that would have given Loki time alone to process what had just happened.

But instead, as soon as the door opened, Thor looked up and crowded Loki. “Is everything alright?” he asked.

Loki just looked at him. Blinked once, twice.

Thor looked down at what he held in his hands. “What are those?”

He tried to grab one of the packs, but Loki snatched them away, clutching them against his chest.

Thor frowned. “Ooo…kay.” He paused, probably bracing for a snide remark from Loki. But Loki had none to offer.

Thor peered closer at Loki. “Did she find out what’s been making you ill?”

Loki swallowed. Yes, she had indeed. And it wasn’t an illness.

Somehow he found his voice, though it shook as he said, “We need to talk.”

Thor tensed. “What about?”

“Something private.”

Thor just tensed even further at that. Perhaps anticipating an unpleasant conversation.

But Loki couldn’t bring himself to care about how he was being perceived right now. He just started walking in the direction of their quarters. If Thor didn’t follow him, it would at least give him time to think.

But soon enough, he heard Thor’s footsteps behind him. Apparently, this was happening now.

xxx

As soon as Thor shut the door to seal them in their quarters, he sighed and said, “Alright, what is it?”

Loki didn’t say anything. He focused on going to their dresser, and finding a drawer with enough space to stow the nutrient packs. His brain was in a haze, to block out all the emotions threatening to overwhelm him. Putting up his usual walls was all he could do to keep them at bay.

Was he stalling? Maybe. But if anyone had advice about how to tell one’s brother that one is carrying his child, after both parties thinking that an impossibility, Loki was all ears.

Apparently not satisfied with this silent treatment, Thor spoke again. “Loki, what happened?”

The question was much softer this time. It made something tender in Loki’s heart squirm toward the sound.

Sentiment. Weakness. Distraction. A reaction only made more intense by his hormones.

There was a hand on his shoulder then. A surge of adrenaline shot through Loki, making his walls waver. It took all he had to bury the impulse to draw his daggers.

But instead, he made the mistake of looking at Thor. At the concern worn on that handsome face. At that eye so blue it shouldn’t be possible.

Would their child have eyes like that?

Loki looked away. Shrugged out of Thor’s touch. Walked across the room. He couldn’t do this!

“Loki,” Thor growled. His patience was clearly fraying. “You said we need to talk. So why won’t you talk to m-”

“Do you remember what I told you about the Grandmaster?”

Loki didn’t know why he’d started with that. But it finally made Thor pause, if only for a few seconds. “You said you let him fuck you to gain his favor.”

Loki decided to ignore the tone Thor said that with. It seemed his brother was still a tad jealous of that lunatic. “Yes. And did I tell you what it felt like when he spilled inside my cunt?”

Though he wasn’t looking at him, he could practically hear Thor rolling his eye. “No, you didn’t tell me, and why would you even bring that-”

“I didn’t feel anything.”

That shut Thor up again. So Loki continued. “I didn’t feel pain, the way I thought I would after the Outriders. And I didn’t feel pleasure. There was no sensation whatsoever. The monsters’ seed probably burned away all those nerve endings.”

More quiet. Then, “Loki, why are you even telling me this?”

Loki sighed. “I’m trying to tell you why, you idiot.”

“Well then, get to the point, because I don’t want to hear about how some other man fucked you!”

“I’m trying to.”

He dared to look at Thor. Thor seemed to realize how much of an asshole he was being, as remorse bloomed on his face. “I’m sorry,” he said sheepishly. “I imagine it must be difficult to talk about.”

“No shit,” Loki muttered.

Thor levered off the dresser then, heading over to Loki. Loki tensed. But Thor went to sit on the bed a few feet away. “You were saying, about the Grandmaster?”

Loki scoffed as he looked up at the ceiling. “I was saying I couldn’t feel his seed inside me.” He paused, chewing his lip. “But I could feel yours.”

Thor’s eyebrows shot up. “What?”

“It was only for a second,” Loki said, “on that first night. Then it was gone. But every time since then, I’ve felt it more and more. Now it’s just like it was the night before your coronation.”

“Really?”

Loki nodded. “And it’s not just that. Every time you do it, I feel like…a weight has been lifted from me. Like some long-held pain was suddenly soothed. Actually, that’s exactly what it is. I didn’t realize it was still hurting me because I had gone so long without relief. I got used to it. Until it was gone.”

Thor’s eye listed to the side, as if the explanation was sitting across the room. “Okay, so…what does that mean?”

Loki let out a long breath. He’d been wondering the same thing for the last few months, and knowing its end result now, his wildest theory was now the only plausible one. “This is going to sound mad.”

He walked toward Thor, stopping a foot in front of him. He tapped his hands on his thighs as he thought on how to go about this. He settled on, “When you were on Earth, did you ever look into what the mortals wrote about you in their mythologies?”

Thor grinned. “A little. There were some quite amusing stories about the two of us.”

“Yes, but did you ever read what they worshipped you as?”

Thor’s brow creased. “What do you mean? I was the god of thunder and lightning, just as I am to them today.”

“Yes, but what else?”

Thor could come up with nothing but a shrug. Which meant Loki would have to explain it. “Well, I looked into it.”

“When you were trying to take over the Earth?”

“Yes, when I was trying to take over the Earth!” Loki snapped. “Does that even matter right now?”

Thor held up his hands in concession of that point. So Loki continued. “The point is, you were not just a god of thunder and lighting to them, you were-”

Loki cut himself off. This was fucking insane, to think this was the reason for the changes in his body. But what other explanation could there be?

“You were a god of fruitfulness,” he said quietly. “Of fertility. In the region we were worshipped, people would sacrifice to you for plentiful harvests. At their marriage ceremonies, they would place replicas of Mjolnir in the bride’s lap, to consecrate her womb so it might give her many children.”

Thor was looking at him thoughtfully as he took in this information. But he also looked totally lost as to Loki’s point.

“When I read of this,” Loki continued, “I thought it was a symbolic belief. Your storms watered the fields, bringing life to their crops. It could also double as a metaphor of seed fertilizing a womb to create life. Mjolnir was quite the phallic symbol, after all.”

Thor smiled sadly at that. But Loki didn’t have the mental wherewithal to acknowledge the loss of his brother’s precious hammer. Not now.

Instead, he quietly said, “But I think they might have been right. I think…I think you have been…healing me.”

“Healing you?”

Loki nodded. He closed his eyes, and as quickly as possible, he murmured, “I think your seed has been healing my womb.”

Thor did laugh, in disbelief. “Wait, what do you mean?”

“It makes sense, doesn’t it?” Loki asked, looking at Thor again. Trying to make him understand. “It’s why I’ve had so much more energy. Why my strength has returned, why even my hair is shining more. Why my nerve endings in my cunt have been regenerating, while my chronic pain has been eliminated.”

Thor opened his mouth to say something, but stopped. Closed it again. He looked down in thought.

When he looked back up, the puzzle pieces must have clicked into place. He looked startled. “So…I’ve been healing you, by coming inside you?”

“By coming inside my cunt,” Loki clarified. “I don’t think it works anywhere else. Not in the same way, at least.”

A slow grin spread over Thor’s face. “Is that why you’ve been passing out after sex?”

Loki flushed scarlet. “That’s not-”

Wait. Shit, it probably was. For four hundred years, Thor had come on his skin, inside his mouth, and deep in his ass. It had been mind-blowing, but he’d never passed out until…

…Until the night before the coronation. The first time Thor had come inside his cunt, when there was nothing inside him that needed Thor’s healing powers. Those powers had overwhelmed his neurons instead. And several months ago, he’d started passing out again.

No, wait. Not several months ago. Two months ago.

Exactly eight weeks ago.

Loki realized too late that his mouth was hanging open. He stared at Thor, who was grinning at him in triumph of his realization.

“Shit,” Loki murmured.

Still grinning like a fool, Thor rose, and brought his hands to Loki’s shoulders in a gentle grip. He was looking down, Loki realized. Down at where his womb lay hidden.

“Did the soul forge show you this?” Thor asked softly. “That your womb has been healing?”

With his mouth dry and his head spinning with all these revelations, Loki nodded. “Not just healing,” he said. “Healed. Completely. Like nothing ever happened to it.”

Thor laughed again, but this time it was from such unadulterated joy that Loki couldn’t help grinning in response. Especially when Thor crushed him in a hearty embrace.

“I’m so glad I could give you this,” Thor said. “I mean, I didn’t know I was doing it, but nonetheless, I’m so, so glad I could help your body to heal.”

Though Loki could hardly breathe from the force of Thor’s hug, he somehow managed to wrap his arms around Thor in return. Silently thanking him for this gift.

Thor chuckled into Loki’s ear. “So I have a magic healing cock, do I?”

Some of Loki’s joy withered into irritation. “No, you have magic healing semen. So be careful how you use it.”

Thor hummed another laugh. “Don’t worry, Brother. I intend to only give it to you.” Loki couldn’t help preening inside at such a promise.

But, he knew there was one piece of this he still had to tell Thor. His stomach knotted as he thought of it.

Some part of him berated himself for being so nervous, but a larger part of him knew why he was in such a state. It was such a vulnerable moment in someone’s life, to tell their partner this sort of news. Regardless of how likely a positive reaction was, it still didn’t negate the weight of it.

Still, there wasn’t any avoiding this. So, still wrapped in Thor’s embrace, he murmured in his brother’s ear, “That’s not all the soul forge showed me.”

“Oh?” Thor murmured back, still full of such mirth. “What else did it show you?”

Loki’s mouth twisted, though Thor couldn’t see. “Now that my womb has fully healed, it’s functioning the way it’s supposed to.”

“That’s good,” Thor said. His hands started rubbing Loki’s back.

“And now there’s something growing inside it.”

The hands stopped.

Thor was frozen in place for all of five seconds. When he moved, it was to slowly relax his hold on Loki, drawing back enough to look him in the eye. The usually-golden Thor had gone pale, his eye glassy in its socket, as he comprehended what Loki was telling him.

“Can…can you…” Thor stammered, “…can you tell me exactly what you mean?”

Yes. Clarity was needed here, lest Thor overreact to something that wasn’t real. Loki understood that.

But he was still terrified to actually say it. Somehow that made it even more real.

And yet, after a good ten seconds of his mind staying stuck in his fear, some deep part of him that was braver than the rest spoke up:

“I’m pregnant.”

And just like that, their world was changed.

Thor took in a deep breath through his nostrils. A hand clasped over his mouth. Loki just stared at him, trying to get a read on his brother’s reactions. The only answer he came up with was 'overwhelm.' But whether it was positive or negative, he couldn’t be sure.

Thor was staring down at his belly again. Where their child was. He was staring like he’d been given a new set of eyes.

And Loki still couldn’t tell if he was happy or not.

“Can you tell me…” Thor murmured, muffled by his hand, “…how you feel about this first?”

What? Thor wanted his reaction?

Maybe that made sense from far away, Thor not wanting to be happy if Loki didn’t want this child, but not wanting to be upset if Loki did. But it didn’t console Loki in the slightest. If there was one thing he hated, it was looking at his own emotions. Particularly if it involved family.

“Nervous,” Loki breathed. Thor nodded.

Family. What had always hurt him, even before he knew he was adopted. Where he’d never quite belonged.

“Terrified.”

But now he and Thor were bound together by blood. They could have a new family, all their own.

Loki didn’t realize he was crying until Thor was stroking away his falling tears. But when he blinked through them to look over at Thor’s concern, a laugh bubbled out of him.

“And I’m delighted.”

Thor sobbed out his own laugh. “You are?” Loki could just nod, as his delirious joy at this new development finally overtook him.

It was overtaking Thor, too: he was hugging Loki again, kissing his face, his cheeks, his nose, his lips, murmuring, “So am I, so am I, so am I,” and all Loki could do was laugh.

Thor smoothed his hands down Loki’s face, cradling his chin in both palms. “You’re really-” He sniffed. “You’re really pregnant?”

Loki nodded with a grin. “About eight weeks in.”

“Eight weeks,” Thor whispered. His gaze wandered down to Loki’s abdomen again. This time one of his hands went with it, settling in a reverent touch just below Loki’s navel. It felt protective, and something like pride.

“You know,” Thor said, “I still think it’s a good idea for you to stay away from the sick ward. Even if you’re immune to the disease, it could transfer to the child.”

Loki didn’t have it in him to protest. Instead, he took Thor’s face in his hands and kissed him soundly. Thor eagerly responded. Even when they broke apart, they just looked at each other an inch away, with such nervous excitement boiling between them.

“We’re going to have a baby,” Thor whispered with such joy.

Loki grinned even further. “We are.”

Chapter Text

They’d decided to keep the news to themselves for now. Loki wasn’t showing yet, which made that easier. Of course, they would need to reveal the truth eventually. Thor still wanted to marry Loki, so everyone would know they belonged to each other.

Surprisingly, Loki wasn’t sure he wanted that anymore. He’d dreamed of marrying his brother since childhood, but that was when the throne and Odin’s approval were the dominant forces in his life, when legitimacy of birth was a primary concern of the royal family. But with Odin dead, the golden throne destroyed, and Asgardian law now stripped to the bare essentials required for an immigrant people, was marriage even necessary for them?

Besides, he carried Thor’s child inside him. What better way to prove that Thor belonged to him, and he to Thor?

Still, though they were keeping this a secret for now, Thor was over the moon with pride. If he weren’t already so practiced at hiding their relationship from everyone, he probably would have told half the ship about the pregnancy within twelve hours.

Loki was inclined to let him one day. But, he wanted this to himself for a while. He was nothing if not a selfish man.

The one concession he agreed to was that Thor could tell Heimdall. The guardian of Asgard already knew about their relationship, and Loki’s previous reproductive traumas. The news would likely be met with nothing but happiness.

Sure enough, a week later, Loki found himself sitting with Heimdall at the bridge, as they worked on the course corrections for their next pit stop. As they worked, Heimdall said quietly, “I must offer you my congratulations.”

Loki glanced over to him. Heimdall gave him a small smile. “You know that I am sworn to protect and serve the royal family of Asgard.” His golden eyes briefly flitted down to Loki’s belly. “That includes all members of the royal family.”

Loki allowed himself a grin in return. “Thank you.”

Heimdall nodded, and they returned to their work.

They told no one else. But over time, as people noticed Loki’s continued vomiting, his covert sprinkling of the nutritional supplements onto his meals, and his unusually radiant complexion, they started approaching him with strange offers and knowing looks.

Women started telling him stories of how their previous pregnancies went, and what one in that position would need to watch out for. Men would speak to him of their deceased loved ones, emphasizing their names, in a not-so-subtle attempt to have Loki consider naming his child after them. Children flocked to him as a babysitter, saying their parents thought Loki might want some ‘practice.’

As far as Loki knew, they didn’t know who the father was. That is, until Korg said something.

They were eating dinner in the mess hall one evening. Thor had captivated the entire hall with the story of his first Syriak hunt. It was a tale Loki had heard at a thousand different feasts, and it grew more and more outlandish with each telling.

When he’d finished, the Valkyrie insisted that no Syriak she’d ever seen could have its hide pierced by a single dagger. As she and Thor started arguing about it, Korg tapped Loki on the shoulder.

“Hey, man,” he said. “Just wanted to say a big congratulations on your new baby.”

Loki hesitated for a second to respond. He’d never confirmed to any well-wishers that he was indeed pregnant. But, the Kronan was well-intentioned in all things, so he figured it couldn’t hurt in this case. Besides, with Thor and the Valkyrie taking up the hall's attention, no one else would hear his reply. “Thank you,” he said quietly.

“Yeah,” Korg said, “I wasn’t sure if you really were, since I couldn’t tell if Asgardians had an egg pouch or grew their babies on the inside. I guess it is on the inside, since you do not have an egg pouch.”

“Well-spotted,” Loki said.

Korg giggled. “Also, speaking of things I didn’t know about Asgardians, I didn’t know that the word ‘brother’ actually means ‘life partner’ to you guys.” He laughed again. “This whole time I thought you and Thor were related.”

Loki stilled as he calculated the best way to respond. In the end, he decided on the truth. “The word ‘brother’ does mean a familial relation. I was adopted, though I only found out a few years ago. Before that, Thor and I were raised together as brothers.”

“Oh,” Korg said. “So Asgardian siblings are allowed to reproduce?”

“Not usually,” Loki said. “We do have an incest taboo.” He shrugged. “But Thor and I never really cared about that.”

“Huh,” Korg said. But then he also shrugged, with one of his soft smiles. “Well, I guess you guys are happy. So I hope you both stay happy. Not like my sister, who kicked her boyfriend out of our house because he kept betting on Namerian races. Yeah, cost them a lot of money.”

As he let the Kronan talk about his family, Loki realized that his and Thor’s relationship had actually been well-received.

Indeed, over the next several days, he noticed others were giving Thor congratulations and advice, as well. No one explicitly said anything about him and Loki being together the way Korg had, but Loki could tell that was the assumption.

Even the Valkyrie said something to Thor when Loki was close enough to overhear, when they were all cleaning up Miek’s latest egg plasma spill. Thor beamed, and said, “Yes, I’m excited to be an uncle.”

“Right,” she said. “An uncle.”

She let the silence hang in the air for a few seconds. Thor squirmed in it. Loki considered speaking up, before the Valkyrie just scoffed and said, “Look, the royal family’s been weird for generations. I’ve given up trying to change that.”

Thor gave her a cautious smile, and they continued scrubbing the floor.

Once they’d cleaned up the worst of it, they headed back to their quarters for the night. Thor was grinning at him as they walked. “I told you others wouldn’t care too much.”

“Yes, yes,” Loki said, “you just have to point out when you’re right, don’t you?”

Thor took a hold of his arm to stop him. He smiled at Loki tenderly, reaching to hold the side of his neck. “Isn’t it a good thing to be right about?”

Loki huffed. But the irritation quickly deflated as he grinned back. “I suppose.”

Thor kissed him. Though he probably meant it to be a quick kiss, Loki found himself dragging it out. They stood there in the hallway, arms and lips wrapped up together, with Loki’s not-yet-protruding belly nestled between them. For those fleeting moments, Loki nearly forgot where he was.

He remembered as soon as they withdrew: they were in a public hallway. Someone could walk in on them at any moment. It would be better to continue this in their quarters.

But as he turned to start walking again, he locked eyes with Bruce Banner, who was staring at them from several feet away.

Banner’s mouth was hanging open. His eyes kept darting back and forth between Thor and Loki. He tried several times to say something, though no words came out. He looked like his brain had short-circuited.

Finally, he said, “You know what? This isn’t even the weirdest thing I’ve seen today.” He pointed behind him. “I’m gonna…go now.” And he turned on his heel and left down the hall.

As soon as he was gone, Loki burst out laughing. He was still laughing by the time Thor dragged him into their quarters.

Chapter Text

Before he knew it, Loki was due for his twelve-week scan. Thor insisted on coming with him, as he wanted to see the baby himself. Loki saw no reason to refuse. His insides were now a source of pride rather than shame.

The head healer gave Thor a knowing look when he said he wanted to stay in the room. It made Loki wonder how long people had carried suspicions about their relationship. Had it started when he became pregnant? Or when they’d first begun their journey on this ship? Or had it gone back even further, to the centuries on Asgard when they’d stolen to each other’s beds each night?

Loki had always prided himself on his ability to keep his own secrets. If people had suspected this for some time, it was quite the blow to his ego.

He brushed aside those concerns as the healer started up the soul forge. He was looking forward to seeing how much the baby had grown in the last month.

When he saw it, he froze.

It had grown substantially in the last four weeks. It now bore more resemblance to a person than an alien blob. “Oh, Loki,” Thor breathed. “There it is.” His hand reached to the edges of the projection, as if cradling the little one in his palm.

The healer was checking different measurements and energy readings, saying that this or that looked healthy and on track. Thor was entranced by the image of their child in his hand.

But Loki felt like he was being strangled.

Though the baby was larger than it had been a month ago, it was still so small. It was maybe two inches long.

Loki had seen this before.

“Stop,” he said. But they didn’t hear him. The healer kept talking about weight gain and cravings beginning. Thor kept asking questions, and kept tracing his fingers around the edges of the image.

It could fit under the palm of his hand.

“Turn it off!”

The healer and Thor startled, and turned to Loki. “My prince?” the healer asked.

But Loki couldn’t explain what was happening, what his memory was dredging up. He just started sitting up, saying, “Turn it off, turn it off, turn it off…”

Thor reached to Loki’s shoulder, though it was unclear whether it was to soothe or restrain him. “Loki, she still has to check-”

“I don’t care!” Loki screeched. A tear fell down his face, though he hadn’t been aware they’d been gathering in his eyes.

Upon seeing that, Thor’s eye widened. Loki couldn’t tell if he understood. Nonetheless, Thor turned to the healer and said, “Give us a moment, please.”

The healer looked at Thor, then Loki, then back to Thor. But she nodded. “Yes, my king.” She turned off the soul forge, and left.

Loki sat up on the table, his back turned to Thor. He sniffed deeply, wiped at his eyes, took deep breaths, all to stem the flow of his tears.

Thor sat next to him on the table. Loki wished he would just leave him alone. He could never understand this. How could he?

But Thor did the exact opposite of leaving him alone: he tried to hug Loki. Loki shrugged out of it. So Thor tried again. Before long, Loki was fighting against his hold, telling him to just stop, but Thor wasn’t having it.

Loki was soon forced to give up, wilting into Thor’s strong embrace. Thor didn’t say anything. He just held him there.

He held him for a long time. Loki’s tears stopped falling. He tried his best to lose himself in his brother’s embrace, but the images wouldn’t leave him alone.

Thor only released him partway so he could look at Loki’s face. Loki looked away.

So, Thor had to settle for kissing his forehead. “It won’t be like the last time,” he murmured. One of his thumbs started stroking down Loki’s cheek. Loki shivered at the touch. “This isn’t like the last one. You’re not being tortured. You’re safe here.”

“I know that,” Loki ground out. He cursed inwardly at how unsteady his voice sounded.

Thor just nodded, and kept stroking Loki’s face. “I know you don’t need to rely on me to protect or take care of you. But you do have me for that, if you ever need it.”

Loki let out a long breath through his nose. He was glad Thor had phrased it like that. If he’d just said ‘I’ll protect you,’ Loki probably would have just stabbed him and stormed out of the room.

Deep down, he was grateful for the offer. He’d grown up with the innate knowledge that his older brother would look after him if shit really hit the fan. It was good to have that back.

But an even deeper part of him knew that, if their first child’s killer ever found him again, even Thor wouldn’t be able to protect him.

xxx

He did end up letting the healer finish checking what she needed to on the soul forge. He just kept his eyes closed. He was still shaken by his reaction, but he bore through it.

They left the med bay with Thor’s arm around Loki’s shoulders. Loki was glad Thor didn’t say anything further about what had happened.

As they walked toward their quarters so Loki could lie down, they had to stop when a rather large someone blocked their path.

A large, green someone.

Loki’s heart started pounding even faster. Thor let go of him, but it was only so he could move in front of him. “Hulk, what are you doing here? I thought you agreed to let Banner take control while we were on the spaceship.”

The Hulk huffed. “Hulk want out.”

“Yes, Hulk,” Thor said, taking on a tone he would use to talk to a child, “I know you want out. But you tend to break the spaceships you’re on-”

Hulk shoved Thor down. “Hulk. Want. OUT!”

As Thor tried to scramble to his feet, Hulk walked past him. Toward Loki.

Thor saw where he was going. “Hulk, wait!”

Loki was frozen stiff as the green beast stopped right in front of him. What was it Thor had said about protecting him?

The Hulk pointed a fat, green finger at Loki’s face. “Puny god.”

Loki was sure he was quivering. He hoped it wasn’t too obvious.

Then the Hulk lowered his finger, pointing at Loki’s abdomen. Loki’s hands threaded around his middle, as if that would be enough to protect that part of him.

The Hulk grinned as he pointed. “Even punier god!”

What?

Loki trembled as he looked up at the Hulk. The beast had the proudest grin on his face. He kept pointing at Loki’s belly, looking at him expectantly.

Loki tried to draw himself up to his full height. “Yes,” he said. “Even punier god.”

The Hulk roared with delight, clapping his hands. Loki flinched at the sound.

“Hulk,” Thor shouted. He had gotten up by now, and made his way over to Loki’s side. “Yes, there is a punier god growing inside my brother. But if you’re too loud, the punier god will be scared!”

But the Hulk wasn’t listening. He started running back down the hall, chanting “Punier god! Punier god! Punier god!” as he went.

“Shit,” Thor said. “He’s going to destroy half the ship if he’s not careful!” He started running after the Hulk, before he stopped. Realizing Loki might need him more.

But Loki waved him on. “Go on, be a responsible leader. I’m going to lie down.”

“I’m not abandoning you!” Thor yelled back, even as he was walking backwards, away from Loki. “I just need to-”

“I know,” Loki said. “I’m not made of glass!”

“We’ll talk later!”

“Go!”

With a last remorseful look at Loki, Thor turned and ran after the Hulk. Loki sighed. He supposed it wasn’t outrageous for Thor to overthink his potential abandonment of Loki, given their recent history. But it still sounded ridiculous out loud. Of course Thor wasn’t abandoning him.

And yet, once he’d made it to their quarters and flopped down on their bed, it felt like exactly that.

He blew out a breath toward the ceiling at his own idiocy. For a man so hellbent on his own independence, he really was hypersensitive about being abandoned and unloved. Maybe that was to do with Odin, always holding his full approval just out of Loki’s reach.

Or maybe it went back further than that. It was hard to say whether being left to die as an infant had any long-term psychological effects on him. Maybe starting out life so insecure and helpless made him more susceptible to feeling that way.

He looked down the length of his body, where the little life within him was growing. He slid a hand over his belly and rubbed it gently.

He would never abandon this baby. His little one would never feel unloved. Ever. He’d try his damnedest for that not to happen.

“Well, today was shit, wasn’t it?” he said.

He was surprised he was talking to the baby. He didn’t think he would be the type to do so. But something was compelling him to.

“That’s two heart rate spikes in the span of an hour,” he said. “And I’m sure the soul forge feels strange to you, too. It makes my body tingle, but at least I know the reason for it. I’m sorry if it scared you.”

He knew the baby couldn’t actually hear him. It didn’t have enough of a brain developed to process the vibrations as sounds, let alone to understand the words’ meaning.

But, as Loki kept talking to it, he could feel his own heart rate slowing back to its baseline. His cortisol levels were probably going down, too. Such changes were probably easing the burden on the baby’s cells, even if the person itself couldn’t comprehend it.

“You’re a bit of a captive audience,” Loki mused. “Right now, every part of your wellbeing is dependent on my own. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but that’s the way it is for the next six months.”

Six months. It seemed like no time at all. In half a year’s time, he’d be holding his child in his arms. It could breathe on its own then, have its own heartbeat. Its life wouldn’t necessarily end when Loki’s would.

What a relief that would be.

“I’m not going to let anything bad happen to you,” Loki promised. “I swear it. I would swear it on my life, or on your father’s, but I’ve tried to kill both those people before. So you’ll just have to trust me on this one.”

He spent the next few minutes talking to the baby, still with his hand over where his womb was. After a little while, he’d relaxed himself enough to start dozing.

xxx

When he woke, Thor was curled against his side, with one hand absently stroking Loki’s abdomen.

Loki shifted so he could look at Thor. Thor’s eye darted to him. “Hey.”

Loki yawned and stretched a bit. “How long was I out?”

“If you fell asleep right when you got here, about an hour,” Thor said.

“An hour? That’s all it took to get the Hulk under control?”

“It’s not as difficult to accomplish nowadays,” Thor said. “He’s matured in the two years he spent on Sakaar. He can be reasoned with, to an extent.”

Loki raised his eyebrows skeptically. He knew the Hulk was now more capable of speech, but he still was not impressed with the beast’s cognitive abilities. “So the ship is safe?”

Thor chuckled. “Yes, the ship is safe.” He started caressing Loki’s stomach again, in a wordless promise of who else was safe. “And I’m sorry, about earlier. I should have known it would upset you to see the baby at this stage.”

“Thanks for the reminder,” Loki muttered. But he knew that was a low shot to take, so he put his hand on top of Thor’s on his stomach. “It’s not like the baby can help being the size it is right now.”

“So you would want to see it at the next scan?” Thor asked.

Loki stiffened. “I don’t know.” It came out as little more than a whisper, so he cleared his throat and said, “At this point, I don’t think I want to see this baby at all until it’s born.”

But Thor kept pressing the issue. “At all? Not even at twenty weeks? Or thirty?”

Loki glared at him. Thor relented. “Okay. Sorry.”

Silence settled between them. Thor kept caressing Loki’s stomach. He also tried an appeasing kiss to Loki’s cheek. Loki allowed it.

“It’s fine if you don’t,” Thor said after a while, “but I will tell you, seeing what I saw today…” He smiled. “It’s the most miraculous thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Mm?”

“We made this child, Loki. Together. And now it has both our flesh, both our features, blended into an entirely new person.”

“Yes, Thor, that is how reproduction tends to work for multicellular lifeforms.”

Thor laughed. “You know what I mean. We made a miracle together.”

It was the most sickeningly sentimental thing Loki had ever heard. But he couldn’t help the smile that tugged at his lips in response.

When Thor kissed his cheek again, Loki turned to kiss him properly. Thor hummed in contentment.

And they kept kissing. More, and more, and more. Lazy and sweet, but still with the fire Loki always felt kindling when he was around Thor. A constant simmering of desire, flaring when they were close and smoldering when they parted. But nothing ever doused it.

Thor’s hand was still petting his stomach. But then it started wandering lower, till his fingertips had dipped beneath the waistband of Loki’s trousers.

But Thor stopped there. Making his intent known, but asking permission for it.

Loki answered by sliding his trousers down past his hips.

Thor grinned. He pulled back from the kiss as he wrapped his hand around Loki’s cock.

Loki couldn’t help his hitched gasp. Every one of Thor’s calluses felt so good on his flesh, as his brother slowly coaxed him to full hardness.

He looked at Thor through hooded lids. Thor was looking at him the same way, but with a small smile that jumped up whenever he provoked another gasp from Loki.

Growing up, Thor had always been so pleased when he succeeded in taking Loki apart. But the difference now was that Loki wasn’t annoyed by Thor’s smug satisfaction. Now he knew Thor wasn’t pleased at having power over him. He was pleased Loki felt so good from it.

Maybe that knowledge spurred some generosity from Loki. Maybe his pregnancy hormones were urging it on. But regardless of the reason why, Loki reached to unlace Thor’s trousers.

Thor used his free hand to help him get his garments out of the way. When his cock sprang free, already fully hard from what he’d been doing to Loki, Loki rolled on his side to bring their groins flush together.

“Fuck,” Thor gasped. And, well, Loki agreed.

He and Thor each wrapped their hands around both their cocks. From the amount of pre-come they were both leaking on each other, their hands soon became a slippery sheath they could fuck into. Now Thor was gasping along with Loki.

Still, they were in no hurry. They rubbed together at a languid pace, moving and breathing and sighing. The rhythm only faltered when Loki hitched his leg over Thor’s hip, giving himself more leverage for his thrusts.

It also happened to open his legs enough for Thor to reach his cunt. It took some maneuvering to free the arm Thor had been lying on, but it was more than worth it when his fingers started sliding between Loki’s folds, delving inside him and caressing everywhere else.

Thor had once admitted he’d always been jealous of Loki’s cunt, just as Loki was jealous of Thor's massive cock. But Loki had never understood Thor's feelings about it. His cunt gave him the pain and bleeding of menstruation. It gave him the vulnerability of potential sexual assault that all women must carry in the back of their minds. It made him different, a man with the parts of a woman.

But now, as he edged toward an orgasm by both fucking and being fucked by Thor’s hands, he understood why Thor was jealous. These dual sensations were divine, and no one but him had the privilege of feeling it.

They both came within seconds of each other, with low moans and messy spurts of seed on both their hands and stomachs. Loki’s cunt shuddering around Thor’s fingers made it feel even better.

Since Thor didn’t release inside his cunt, Loki didn’t pass out. It was the first time in a few months that he was able to pant his way down from it with Thor, their breath mingling an inch away from each other.

Loki soon became too sensitive for Thor to be touching him, so Thor withdrew his hands from both cock and cunt. But one of his hands still found its way to Loki’s, fingers entwining loosely near their softening erections.

Loki just breathed, nearly dozing in contentment. It occurred to him that he’d just subjected the baby to yet another heart rate spike. But, with how relaxed he was now, curled up with the baby’s father, perhaps the oxytocin now flooding his system was worth it.

“This is all I ever wanted,” Thor murmured.

Loki’s eyes slid open to Thor. His brother was looking at him with that gentle love in his eye, which always made Loki squirm. So, he deflected with a smartass question: “What, a handjob?”

Thor breathed a chuckle, not letting his earnestness be deterred. “Being by your side. Facing the world with you.” His unoccupied hand tucked a sweat-plastered lock of hair behind Loki’s ear. “Making love with you. Starting a family with you.”

A memory rose unbidden from the haze of Loki’s childhood. He’d barely mastered the ability to walk, and was toddling around after Thor. Thor had run up to their mother and asked, “Mama, when do I get to marry Loki?”

Frigga had laughed, probably giving a simple explanation that no, brothers do not marry their younger siblings. But Thor had yelled, “But I love Loki more than anyone else!” and had scooped Loki up in his arms, bounding them away together as if he were kidnapping a new bride.

They had been too young then to feel true sexual desire. But even back then, Thor had known his fate, and had accepted it wholeheartedly. Even when Loki looked at his brother now, though maturity and wisdom had tempered the wildness, he still saw that calm certainty in Thor’s face that fate would give him everything he wanted.

Loki used to hate that side of Thor. But he reveled in it now, because what he wanted and what Thor wanted were now in perfect harmony.

He smiled, and rolled closer to Thor with a sigh. Thor happily took the hint to hold him closer with a kiss to his forehead. For the first time in a long while, there was no animosity or resentment between them. There was only love, as simple as it was in their childhood, as it always should have been.

Chapter Text

The peace held for another three weeks, which may have been a record for them. Yes, they kept having to course-correct for their next fuel stop, and more and more of their citizens were falling ill. But they led their people through it together, and it worked.

But of course, it didn’t last.

Loki had kicked Thor out of the bathroom this morning and barricaded himself inside. Thor thought he was being ridiculous. They’d bathed together hundreds of times, and relieving themselves in front of each other wasn’t unheard of, either. There wasn’t any part of each other’s bodies that hadn’t been thoroughly explored.

Except now there was. And Loki wasn’t comfortable with it yet, so he didn’t want to let Thor in to see it.

He stood in profile to the bathroom mirror with his shirt off, examining these new contours from every angle. One of these new shapes he was delighted for, but two of them were not entirely expected.

He was almost to sixteen weeks now, so his belly was just starting to protrude. It still only looked like he had overindulged at dinner, and only if one really looked for it. He had been letting his tunics out slightly to accommodate that growth, so the baby’s presence was still well-hidden.

But what had Loki so self-conscious was the two slight lumps above it. Yes, that’s right, Loki Odinson, Prince (Consort?) of Asgard, a rightful king of at least one realm if not two, was growing breasts.

Well, not quite. His chest probably looked no different to anyone else. His pectoral muscles, while nowhere near as impressive as Thor’s, were still well-defined in their own right. So far, they still looked like a man’s.

But Loki could feel the difference. They felt swollen in his skin, like they were on the cusp of a growth spurt. Especially his nipples.

He rolled his fingers around one of his areolas, wincing at the sensitivity. They felt harder now. Had they grown darker, too? His were usually a pale pink, had they changed any?

It was hard to tell. But he couldn’t deny that something was different there. Which meant they would only change more and more with each passing month of this pregnancy.

Wait, it would probably be even longer than that. Once the baby was born, his breasts would have an actual purpose, and that purpose was…

He had to sit down on the toilet lid at the thought. He was now imagining holding the baby in his arms for the first time, and then nursing his baby.

He hadn’t even considered that as a possibility. And he hadn’t counted on what a delight it was to contemplate the prospect. He broke into a wide smile, and looked down at his belly. “It looks like I might feed you, too,” he said.

Yes, he was still talking to the baby. No, Thor didn’t know about that, either. And no, he wasn’t planning on telling him anytime soon.

He spent a few more minutes sitting there, cupping his chest muscles and caressing his belly. He could feel the beginnings of softness everywhere, as his body was redistributing its fat for the second trimester. He was sure Thor would notice soon, the way he pawed at Loki every chance he got.

Speaking of his brother, Loki should probably let him in to shower.

But when he opened the bathroom door (after reconjuring his shirt and cape), he wasn’t met with a disgruntled scowl from Thor. He was met with an empty bedroom.

Loki frowned. He went out into the hallway, but that just yielded more questions.

People were milling toward the front of the ship. Loki just stood there watching them for a few seconds, before joining their progress. As they saw who was in their midst, the growing crowd parted to let him pass.

They let him through all the way to the bridge, where Thor and his council were gathered at the instruments. Some static-filled noise was coming from the inter-ship comm link. The other citizens and former gladiators were also crowded around the room, all listening to the incoming signal.

Heimdall was the only one to look up to Loki’s approach. He shifted to one side, allowing Loki a space in the gathering. A space that happened to be at Thor’s right side.

Thor stood in the center of it all, one hand on his chin as he stared intently at the comm link’s speaker. Loki could hardly make out the words that broke through the cosmic static. Something about ‘under attack’ and ‘all in the area.’ So it was some kind of distress signal.

But then he heard ‘Nova Corps,’ which surprised him. The Nova Corps were always able to defend their territories, even against that Kree warlord who had attacked Xandar several years ago.

But now, the frazzled Xandarian on the other side of the comm link was telling a different story. “The Nova Corps are overwhelmed, I repeat, we are overwhelmed. We request all transport ships in the immediate vicinity to begin evacuating our citizens. We have children who are-”

Then there was static again.

They stood there for several minutes, trying to parse more words within the static. But the voice just kept getting more garbled, and fainter, until static was all there was.

“Heimdall, can you see Xandar?” Thor asked.

Heimdall looked out the large window into the stars. The muscles around his eyes tightened. Loki knew it took no physical effort for Heimdall to see across any distance, so the strain must be an emotional one.

At last, Heimdall said quietly, “It is as they say. A massacre has engulfed the planet. Even now they-”

He cut himself off. Everyone but Thor looked to Heimdall for the cause, and were met by such sadness in the guardian’s face.

“What is it?” the Valkyrie asked.

After a moment, Heimdall said, “Xandar has been destroyed.”

“The entire city?” an Asgardian woman asked.

Heimdall shook his head. “The entire planet.”

Hushed murmurs filled the bridge.

“What of the Infinity Stone?” Thor asked. Loki turned to him, his stomach churning with dread. He hadn’t known Thor was so knowledgeable of the Stones’ locations.

Heimdall’s reply was grave. “It was the cause of the destruction. Taken by a large warship that has now concealed itself even from my sight.”

Loki’s breath started picking up speed. He could feel himself growing paler. Before he knew it, he had turned on his heel and fled the bridge.

xxx

Loki was frantic.

He’d intended to retreat to his quarters at first. But he’d changed his mind halfway there, as he couldn’t stand the thought of Thor walking in on him in such a state. The only place he could think of for some privacy was the broom cupboard he’d slept in several months ago.

Once he’d secured himself inside, his hyperventilating got the better of him. He slid down to the floor, clutching his knees to his chest. Trying and failing to keep himself together.

Thanos was making his move on the Infinity Stones. He’d already taken the one that would make him the strongest. Any other Stone he acquired would now have its power amplified by its sister.

And if he was hunting them down across the universe, which Stone made the most sense to go after next, which would give him instant access to any location in that universe?

With a shaking hand, Loki reached into his pocket dimension and withdrew the Tesseract. Its ethereal blue light illuminated the entire storage closet, as if it were mocking him by advertising its presence so.

But why was he resisting this so much? Hadn’t he known Thanos would come for him in the end? Isn’t that why he took the Tesseract from the vault in the first place, so he could at least save Thor’s life, in place of his own?

He closed his eyes at his own folly. When he opened them, he was looking down at his stomach.

At the reason why he couldn’t just throw away his own life anymore.

He could feel tears of frustration threatening to spill over. But he kept them in with deep breaths. They wouldn’t change the situation.

He would have to save himself now. By getting him pregnant, Thor had unwittingly signed his own death warrant.

His decision made, Loki tightened his grip on the Tesseract. That power called to his blood as much as he wished he could ignore it. The entire universe was at his fingertips. He could open a portal to any point in space with no more than a thought’s effort. It was the freedom he’d always hungered for!

Wasn’t it?

As soon as that doubt entered his head, Loki looked away from the Stone. Not only were there emotional reasons he couldn’t just run, there were practical reasons, as well.

The Stones could sense each other. Using the Space Stone would probably just alert Thanos to its exact location. And even if Thanos collected other Stones first for some reason, he would eventually come for Loki.

And then Loki would have to face him alone. Either alone while pregnant, or alone with a baby. Regardless, both Loki and his child would die.

Sure, it would be sparing the lives of Thor and the other Asgardians. But Loki didn’t even try convincing himself that those lives mattered more to him than his child’s. It was irrational, and selfish, and he wouldn’t change his feelings about it even if he could.

Whereas, if he stayed here, he and the rest of the ship could put up a fight. And maybe that would buy them enough time to escape.

It might be good to work on his projections, then. One of his doubles could talk Thanos in circles, making empty promises and threats till no one knew what to believe. And, if he made it solid enough to get a few hits in, it might be convincing enough to put Thanos off his trail for good.

Even as he came up with the plan, Loki had a shallow laugh at how flimsy it was. If he was relying on tricking Thanos, he was doomed.

But, he only had to trick him for long enough.

He vanished the Tesseract once again, and rose to leave the storage room. He could figure this out.

He had to.

Chapter Text

The next week was spent covertly practicing his corporeal body doubles. They took a great deal more concentration than his usual non-solid illusions. But the larger problem was, the more energy he used on these now, the less he’d have in reserve when Thanos actually showed up.

Another problem was Thor. He seemed to have put the distress signal from Xandar out of his mind once they’d decided there was nothing they could do to help. At least, if Thor did think about it, he wasn’t bringing it up.

But because Thor wasn’t thinking about it, he would grow suspicious to see Loki practicing. So, Loki did so after Thor had fallen asleep.

Or in moments like this, when Thor was out of the room. Tonight, Thor had been called out to help restart the heart of someone in the sick ward. Whatever plague they’d picked up on that gray planet still hadn’t slowed down; now it was half their population that was quarantined in the rear of the ship. This was the first time someone had come close to dying, though. Fortunately, their king’s recently-awakened lightning powers meant he could be used a walking defibrillator.

But it had gotten him out of the room. Loki, meanwhile, stood at their bedroom’s window, and tried creating another projection.

It appeared readily enough. And when he touched its arm, it held. But three seconds later, he felt it give.

He sighed, and worked his fingers in complicated patterns to weave the appropriate layers of augmentation spells. But just as he went to touch the double again, the door to his quarters slid open. It was Thor, of course.

Loki and his double both looked to Thor, who narrowed his eye. “Is this your way of telling me you want to have a threesome?” Thor asked.

Loki scoffed, and vanished the double. “You know they’re not solid.”

Thor laughed as he slid the door closed behind him. “I know. But that didn’t stop us from trying it that one night, if you recall.”

“If you recall,” Loki countered, “it was a complete failure.”

“So we had a twosome instead of a threesome,” Thor said. “That’s far from a complete failure.”

Loki had to fight hard to suppress his grin at the memory. They’d been adolescents, newly in love and eager to enact every fantasy they’d ever had about each other. Unfortunately, Loki hadn’t had the grasp on his projections that he did now. Every new Thor or Loki he’d tried to conjure would vanish under their lips.

“Well, if it’s not that,” Thor said as he walked over to Loki, “what were you doing?”

Loki grinned smoothly. “Practicing.”

He met Thor’s lips when they were offered. It occurred to him that, between their expecting a child and their affair not requiring the utmost secrecy anymore, he and Thor were becoming entirely too domestic.

Although, Thor’s reasons for ending the kiss so quickly may have been due to his growing suspicions. He raised an eyebrow at Loki. “Practicing? What for?”

Loki grinned again. “In case I need them.”

He tried to kiss Thor again, but Thor turned away to the window with a sigh. Loki knew he could tell the whole truth wasn’t being revealed.

When Thor turned back to him, his gaze looked far too knowing for Loki’s comfort. “Is this about Thanos?”

Loki couldn’t school his features to a lie quickly enough, so he knew there wasn’t much point in trying.

Especially when Thor reached to hold Loki’s bicep and said, “He’s going after the Infinity Stones. He’s not coming after you.”

“I lost two Infinity Stones for him,” Loki said.

“That doesn’t mean-”

“He’ll make time for me.”

From the way Thor blinked at him then, he didn’t expect the edge in Loki’s voice at those words. “Well,” he said, “even if he does, you’re not going to be facing him alone this time. And-” -he spoke over Loki’s eyeroll- “-I don’t just mean me!”

Loki turned away from Thor to the window. He wasn’t in the mood for Thor’s remaining arrogance tonight. “We don’t have many warriors on this ship, Thor,” he said.

“I’m talking about Earth.”

Loki’s brow knit in confusion at that. “Earth?”

“Yes, the Avengers,” Thor said. “We even have a new team member who’s made of an Infinity Stone! And the other Stone on Earth is wielded by that sorcerer. I know neither of us like him much, but if he’s as powerful as his title makes him sound, he’ll be useful, too!”

Loki let out a slow breath at all that. He had nearly forgotten that there were two Stones still on Earth. And they weren’t just idly sitting there, waiting to be captured like the one on Xandar. They were being actively used to defend the planet, by beings who knew how to harness their powers.

But Thor was a fool if he believed a few humans could keep Thanos away from what he wanted.

It didn’t matter much, though. They were still months away from reaching Midgard. It might make more sense for them to settle on a closer planet that had more defensible positions.

Besides, Loki had more personal misgivings about their final destination, though he hadn’t brought them up with Thor. Well, maybe he’d listen to them now.

“Do you really think it’s a good idea to go back to Earth?”

“Yes, of course,” Thor said. Loki hadn’t realized his brother had adopted the same stance of looking out the window. “The people of Earth love me, I’m very popular.”

Okay, then. Thor was oblivious to Loki’s meaning. What the Hel did Thor’s popularity have to do with it, anyway? “Let me rephrase that,” Loki said. “Do you really think it’s a good idea to bring me back to Earth?”

If he was expecting Thor to waffle around with a reassurance, he was wrong. “Probably not, to be honest,” Thor said. But he grinned at Loki, who couldn’t help grinning back, imagining Thor trying to explain to his mortal friends that he and Loki had produced a child together.

“I wouldn’t worry, Brother,” Thor said, turning back to the window. “I feel like everything’s going to work out fine.”

Loki’s lips flickered in an imitation of a smile. Maybe Thor was right. Maybe they’d be left alone until they reached Earth, where the Infinity Stones at their disposal would be enough. Maybe Loki was overreacting to the potential danger because of his painful memories.

But no sooner had the thought crossed his mind, when something blotted out their view of the stars from their window.

As he and Thor looked up at it, Loki realized what this was.

“What the-”

Thor couldn’t finish his thought, as the warship fired its first shot. It rattled the entire ship so much it knocked both of them off their feet.

Loki grunted at the sharp pain in his elbow where he’d landed. But looking down at it, he realized it was because his arms had instinctively curled around his middle. In that light, he welcomed the sting in his elbow.

“Loki.” Loki looked to meet Thor’s eye. His brother looked so concerned when he asked, “Is this…?”

Loki just nodded. He could feel himself turning pale as he realized that yes, this was it.

This was him.

Thor’s mouth set into a grim line. “Right.” He hefted himself to his feet and sprinted for the door.

“Thor, wait-”

But Thor was gone.

xxx

This was stupid. This was madness. Each shuddering of the ship as more and more volleys battered their shields proved it.

And yet here Loki was, trying to follow Thor as he shouted orders to everyone. Something was compelling him to try to explain the situation to Thor. Even if it meant wasting precious seconds, and even if the last thing Thor felt toward him was disappointment.

Thor had sent Heimdall and other warriors to the bridge, save for the Valkyrie. To her, he said, “I need you to start evacuating the sick ward.”

“I’m one of our best warriors,” she protested. “You’ll need my help in this.”

“I know,” Thor said. “Our people will need you defending them if the fight makes its way to the stern.”

Her mouth shut. She knew Thor had a point. Loki knew it, too. “Fine,” she said. “I’ll get the escape pods ready.”

Thor nodded. “Take Korg with you, he’s good in a fight.” As she headed toward the stern without another word, he added, “And take Loki, too!”

Loki rounded on him. “What?”

“Don’t argue with me,” Thor said. “You know why I’m doing this.”

He turned to leave for the bridge. So Loki prowled after him. “I’m not going,” he called out to Thor.

“Loki,” Thor growled as he kept walking, “now would be a great time for your self-preservation instincts to kick in.”

Loki yanked Thor’s arm and whisked them into a side corridor. “Is that all you think I care about?” he shot back. “Myself?”

“No, I don’t,” Thor said. His face was deathly serious as he glared at Loki. “I think you care about our child, too, which is even more reason why you should do as I ask in this.”

“And what, you think you going up against Thanos on your own is in the child’s best interest?”

“If it buys you time to escape-”

“So you’ll die facing an undefeatable foe, so I can-”

“It’s better than the other way around!” Thor bellowed in his face. Loki flinched, both from the volume and the words. Thor looked away and back quickly. “I can’t lose you again,” he said, more softly this time. His eye flitted down to Loki’s barely-protruding belly. “Either of you.”

Loki pushed past that sentiment. “It’s me he’s after.” He had to force his next words out of his throat quickly, or he would continue holding onto them. “Or rather, I have what he’s after.”

At Thor’s furrowed brow, Loki lowered his eyes, and summoned the Tesseract to his hand.

It took a few seconds for him to muster the courage to look Thor in the eye again. When he did, Thor’s initial shock soon gave way to something murderous. When he spoke again, his rage was just barely contained. “If you weren’t carrying my child right now-”

“Well, I am,” Loki said. “So here we are.”

Thor shook his head in disbelief as he looked up at the ceiling. “I should have known,” he said. “I should have known you’d never abandon your old ways entirely.”

Loki’s heart thudded louder, though this time it was with anger of his own. “What do you-”

“C’mon, Loki, what did you think would happen?” Thor snapped. “What did you think would happen when you brought the Tesseract with you? My only question is, did you plan to let him kill us all and trade it for your own life from the beginning, or-”

“It’s not my life I planned to trade it for.”

Thor’s next words were stoppered by that admission. That, and another rattling as the ship took another hit. This time the lights started to flicker. Thor and Loki’s faces, however, were still illuminated by the Tesseract held between them. Lucky them.

Loki took the moment of silence afforded him to grip Thor’s arm. “If it’s a fight you want, let me help you with it,” he said. “But if we are defeated, you must let me bargain with the Tesseract. It may be our only chance.”

Thor looked to him, then to the Tesseract. Another distant boom shook the walls.

“Fine,” he said. “But only on two conditions. One, you help evacuate everyone. You stay away from the fighting.”

After some hesitation, Loki nodded. Besides the potential damage to the child that a fight would risk, he also couldn’t bargain with Thanos if he was killed before he got the chance.

“And two, if it comes down to it, you trade it for your own life.”

Loki’s face withered into such fear at that. “What? No, Thor, listen-”

“No, Loki, you listen,” Thor said, his hands grasping Loki’s shoulders. “If I die, it’s just my life. But if you die, it’s two lives lost.”

That should have made perfect sense to Loki’s mind. Indeed, some instinctual side of him was screaming that very sentiment, to protect his child at all costs.

One of Thor’s hands rose to cup Loki’s face. “I will live on through our child,” he murmured. “But that child can’t live if something happens to you. If it comes to a choice, you have to let him kill me.”

Loki swallowed hard. That should have been the choice the Prince of Lies planned on making from the beginning. How easily had he decided to sell Thor back into slavery on Sakaar, or to aim all of Gungnir’s power at him on the Bifrost? He was the God of Mischief after all, out for himself before anyone else.

But he wasn't just the God of Mischief anymore. He was more than that now.

But before he could answer yes or no to Thor’s request, another blast rattled the ship. This time he heard distant screams.

“Promise me, Loki,” Thor urged through the Tesseract’s glow.

Loki’s gaze stuttered up to Thor’s. He just nodded, not trusting his voice to remain steady.

Thor kissed him quickly. Too quickly. “Go,” he said. “Help the Valkyrie with the escape pods.”

As Thor left for the bridge, Loki managed to say, “Don’t do anything stupid.”

He didn’t know if Thor had heard him.

xxx

As Loki raced to the quarantine, he collided with Bruce Banner. For a terrible second, a green hue started creeping up the human’s neck, but thankfully, he forced it back down.

“Hey,” Banner said, “what are you doing back here? Aren’t you gonna help Thor?”

“Thor asked me to help here.”

Banner looked confused at that, before he looked down at Loki’s stomach. “Ohhhh,” he said, “that…that does make sense.”

“Are you helping here, too?”

“Me? No, no, I was just…the big guy doesn’t really…” He trailed off from his thought. “Anyway, it doesn’t matter! Last I checked, I’m not pregnant, so I’m gonna go help Thor up front.”

He started running off the way Loki had come. Loki had to admire the little man’s bravery, even if he was well-equipped to handle enemies three times his size.

Wait…

…the Hulk was equipped to handle large foes…

“Banner, wait!”

Banner skidded to a halt. “What?”

Loki paused, calculating at light speed of how to best play this to their advantage. Thanos would only expect to fight Asgardians; he wasn’t expecting a raging beast as large as him. And with how much resistance Banner had shown in recent days to transforming into the Hulk again, Thor may not expect it, either.

“Stay in reserve,” Loki said. “Don’t bring out the Hulk until I give you a signal.”

Banner’s eyes shifted. “You mean, like a surprise attack?”

“Precisely. It may be Thor’s only chance.”

Banner looked behind him, in the direction of the bridge. Then, back to Loki. Loki could see similar calculations in his eyes, but Loki was sure they were about whether or not to trust him.

Thankfully, Banner responded by asking, “What will the signal be?”

“The Hulk’s name.”

Banner nodded. “Alright. I’ll hang back until then.”

Loki nodded back, and continued on his way to the quarantine.

He hadn’t been here since he’d known he was pregnant. The afflicted citizens looked a lot worse than he’d remembered. Still, he didn’t recoil from helping the Valkyrie, Korg, and the head healer shepherd everyone onto the escape pods.

When the last of the sick ward left, the healer realized she’d forgotten some of the medical supplies. The Valkyrie was going to escort her, but Loki volunteered instead, telling the Valkyrie and Korg to escape themselves. The encroaching danger meant there was no time for them to argue about it.

As the healer and Loki rushed to the last escape pod at the stern, arms laden with healing supplies, the healer turned to him. “I hope you’re coming with me, my prince.”

Loki shook his head. “I need to help Thor face this threat.”

“But my prince, your condition-”

“I know what my condition is!”

She stepped in front of him, pursing her lips in disapproval. “Then you’ll know that the king will understand why you must escape with us now.”

“There’s no time to argue about this,” Loki snapped. “Believe me, as much as I wish I could-”

There was another blast. Another shuddering. A sickening crack.

Then a rush of air as the ship broke in two, right before Loki’s feet.

He was jerked toward the vacuum before he could brace himself. The supplies he’d been carrying scattered to the stars. Presumably, so had the healing woman.

In a blind panic, he reached his magic out to the nearest edge of the ship he could see. A beam of green light erupted forth, connecting him to it.

He pulled with all his strength, till he was in the hallway he’d been standing in prior to the blast. But it was far from a secure position, as the air was still being sucked out of the open end of the corridor.

He clung to his anchor point with all his might, crouched at the edge of the hallway. He was getting lightheaded from the thinning air. He knew he’d survived two falls through empty space before, but he wasn’t sure how long he could stay in this spot.

But just as that thought left his head, the air suddenly stopped whooshing past him. He gasped in a breath, then another. There wasn’t as much oxygen now, but at least it wasn’t going to get any thinner.

He rose, and turned to see what had happened to the hole. In its place, there was what looked like a mess of debris from the other half of the ship, crushed together to form a barrier against the opening. If Loki hadn’t known any better, he would have thought it the improvisational work of a telekinetic being.

A high, reedy cackling approached from behind him.

Loki’s heart started hammering. He broke out in sweat, as he remembered the sting of molten metal.

“I did wonder where you had run off to,” that serpentine voice crooned behind him. “You were nowhere to be found on the battlefield. That is, if you can call your people’s efforts at the bridge a ‘battle.’”

Loki swallowed. He didn’t know where he found the courage to look behind him.

The Maw grinned at him. “Come,” he said. “He is waiting for you.”

Chapter Text

Soon, Loki was stepping over bodies. The Maw had been right. It had been foolish to try mounting a challenge against Thanos and his servants.

Dying groans and muffled sobs were all that broke through the silence. That, and pained gasps every so often, as Loki saw the staff-wielding couple stabbing those who still clung to life. Efficient, and brutal.

The Maw started crooning out his usual proclamations of becoming Thanos’s children. Loki did his best to tune him out. He kept moving. He only faltered for half a second when he saw Heimdall, lying in his own blood, shuddering as he bled out.

Loki kept scanning around the bodies, looking for a glimpse of spiky blond hair or a bright blue eye. But he couldn’t find Thor. Conflicting sensations of relief and dread surged in his chest with each body that wasn’t his brother.

It turned into sheer terror when he saw the Titan himself standing on the far side of the room. Loki came to a stop at the sight, and probably couldn’t have moved if he’d tried.

But he had to breathe. He had his bargaining chip, and without proof of Thor’s survival, he could trade it for his own life as agreed. No problem.

“I know what it’s like to lose,” Thanos said. The way he said it, he might have been commenting on the weather, not surrounded by a slaughter of his own making. “To feel so desperately that you’re right, yet to fail, nonetheless.”

He kept talking, but a flutter of movement at the Titan’s feet drew Loki’s attention. His heart dropped as he saw who it was.

Thor, defeated in battle. Thor, helpless at the feet of Loki’s previous torturer. Thor, usually so strong and full of life, now hardly able to move from his spot.

Until he did. But not of his own doing; from Thanos picking him up by his breastplate, dangling him in one hand as he limply struggled. Like a fish caught on a hook.

Some distant part of Loki was glad he was so shocked. It was keeping his face neutral, so Thanos couldn’t sniff out any weakness. At least, he hoped that was the case.

He didn’t hear what Thanos finished his speech with. But he did see the Power Stone glowing in the Gauntlet he’d set it in. Its violet light would have been beautiful, if its implications weren’t so terrifying.

Loki’s focus was stolen again, as Thanos shifted his grip on Thor, holding him up by the head. Thor coughed up a bit of blood and rasped out, “You talk too much.”

Not now, Loki silently pleaded. Don’t be an idiot now, Thor. Not today.

Thanos, on the other hand, made a smart move. “The Tesseract, or your brother’s head.”

Loki could hardly breathe as he watched the Power Stone edge closer to Thor’s face.

Here was the choice.

Thor had told him to make it. But Loki hadn’t thought it would come to this so soon.

But Thanos wasn’t going to wait long for an answer. “I assume you have a preference,” he said dryly.

Well, apparently Thanos expected him to be heartless, with a comment like that. So Loki played to the expectation, though he had no idea where he found the voice for it. “Oh, I do. Kill away.”

Thanos’s eyes widened, but he complied.

But the worst part was how he chose to carry out the deed. He used the Stone, pressing all its power into Thor’s temple.

And Thor started screaming.

Loki tried to smile, at first, as he watched Thor’s face start fracturing along violet lines. He tried smirking at the sight of the king who had taken his throne, crying out in agony as he was tortured to death.

When his smile started to fade, he tried reminding himself that this was better than the alternative. It could be him in Thanos’s grasp. Or worse, it could be his child.

Their child.

The one he’d made with his brother.

That was his brother screaming, his brother dying, the one he loved above all others being tortured and ripped apart-

“Alright, stop!”

Thanos released Thor. But Loki’s stomach still dropped, as if it were a resounding defeat. He closed his eyes. Fool, you sentimental fool.

“We don’t have the Tesseract,” Thor slurred. “It was destroyed on Asgard.”

Loki opened his eyes again, to his fool of a brother. A last-minute act of deceit wouldn’t do them any good. Thanos clearly didn’t believe it, the way he still looked expectantly at Loki.

So, out of options, Loki drew the Tesseract to his palm.

Thanos’s eyes lit up in glee as the blue light reflected in them. Though Loki’s hand shook, he tried to keep calm as he stepped toward Thanos. He made the mistake, however, of meeting Thor’s look of disappointment.

“I assure you, Brother,” Loki managed, “the sun will shine on us again.”

Thor just looked at him helplessly. Probably due to his eyepatch, he didn’t see the mass of green skulking in the wreckage on the far side of the bridge. But Loki caught it in his periphery. He just had to get Thanos into position.

Thanos smirked. It still terrified Loki to see it, a reminder of a phantom pain in his lower belly. “Your optimism is misplaced, Asgardian,” Thanos sneered.

“Well, for one thing,” Loki sneered back, clinging to a sheen of bravado, “I’m not Asgardian. And for another…”

He took a steadying breath. “…We have a Hulk.”

Right on cue, the Hulk roared. Loki jumped as the Hulk did, grabbing Thor and rolling them both away from the ensuing fight. The Tesseract clattered to the floor, forgotten.

Thor was gasping from the lingering pain in his head, and from who knows how many internal injuries sustained from the battle. Loki dragged Thor into the wreckage to hide them from the brawl. The Hulk’s battle cries resounded throughout the ship. For once, the sound brought hope to Loki’s heart.

Thor tried to rise, but Loki forced him back down. “Shhh,” Loki hissed, “You’re in no condition.” He smoothed a hand over the left side of Thor’s face, where lingering burn marks from the Power Stone were still visible. He quickly put his magic to use, healing Thor’s body as best he could. It wasn’t a thorough job, just enough to get Thor on his feet for their escape.

But then there came a terrible sound. Instead of the Hulk’s angry roars, he gave a groan of pain.

Thor’s head whipped to the sound. The wreckage they were hidden behind prevented them from seeing what was happening. But as one groan became two, then three, Loki could guess how the fight was concluding. His heart sank with each sound.

Then, there was a large crash. A sound of an enormous body hitting the floor. There were no more cries from the Hulk after that.

Thor, now healed enough to rise, clambered to his feet. Adrenaline surged in Loki’s chest. “You idiot-”

But Thor didn’t listen. He grabbed the nearest blunt object available - a metal pipe - and staggered toward Thanos.

Loki only made it to the heap of wreckage so he could peer behind it. It was enough of a glimpse to see what happened next.

The Hulk was either dead or unconscious on the ground. Thor, in all his reckless stupidity, threw the pipe at Thanos. It was as effective as throwing a pillow at a brick wall.

Thanos, not at all bothered, smacked Thor across the room. As Thor tried to rise, the Maw raised several metallic beams to wrap around him, trapping him in place.

Loki’s heart was beating so fast it might burst. When Thanos’s focus had been on the Hulk, they’d had their window of escape. Now, with Thor’s idiotic move, attention had turned back to him. And the Maw, the one who had tortured everything out of Loki all those years ago, now had Thor in his grasp.

Loki prayed they would kill the Hulk first. It would give him time to move to Thor’s aid. If they went after Thor first, all was lost.

But then, he got the chance he needed. The Bifrost was summoned to life, whisking the Hulk away.

Loki knew who had done it. And he knew what now awaited Heimdall. But he couldn’t afford to think about it. He had his chance, he had to get to Thor now.

He darted forward to crouch behind Thor. His magic started feeling out the binds that held the metal around his brother. It was strong, much stronger than he’d ever encountered from a telekinetic being. He would need all his concentration to break through it.

But before he could begin, he heard the unmistakable sound of a blade piercing a body. Followed by Thor’s despairing scream.

Loki squeezed his eyes shut against it. For all their past differences, Heimdall had been a good friend, to him and to Thor. And now his last act was to protect them, as well as their mortal companion.

But Loki couldn't grieve now. He had work to do.

He had to pause his work, however, when Thor started raving about how Thanos would die for what he’d done. The Maw returned his attention to his captive, now adding a makeshift muzzle to the bonds. A strange surge of gratitude for the creature flared in Loki’s chest. Now that the Maw had shut Thor up, Loki wouldn’t have any more distractions.

So he began to work. Still crouched behind Thor, he worked his fingers in complicated patterns at a dizzying pace. He muttered incantations to seep his own magic into the metallic bonds, all while trying to remain undetected. Fortunately, Thanos and his servants appeared distracted for the moment, leaving Loki to his task.

He was thrown off for a second when a shock of blue light pulsed throughout the room. Distantly, he surmised it was from the Space Stone. Don’t think about that. You just have to get Thor free. Focus.

But now, his peripheral awareness realized that Thanos’s servants were being assigned new tasks. And one of those tasks could be to dispose of Thor.

And with the Hulk and Heimdall gone, Loki had run out of allies to provide him with diversions. So he had to conjure his own.

With a fortifying breath, he twisted his fingers to summon the best solid projection he could muster. He made it arrogant and quick-witted, to draw as much focus as he could.

It was quite the task to maintain both the projection and his spells to undo the Maw’s hold on Thor. Loki could feel his energy stores draining away. But he was getting close. Just a few more seconds, he just had to work for a few more seconds, and-

-He froze.

He couldn’t move his fingers. He couldn’t move his arms. He couldn’t move his legs, he couldn’t turn his head, he couldn’t-

He flicked his eyes down at his arms. And his throat clenched in terror.

His arms were glowing blue on the edges. Held in the power of-

-the Space Stone-

-no-

Loki’s heartbeat spiked with each heavy footstep he heard thudding his way. He could see Thanos in his periphery now, leering down at him. In a panic, he tried to struggle free, but his limbs wouldn’t fucking move-

“You always were full of tricks,” Thanos said. Then there was a hand - an ungloved hand - around Loki’s throat. Then it was lifting him, dangling him in the air in front of Thor-

“But,” Thanos said with a soft smile, “you never could trick me.”

The hand tightened around Loki’s throat. Squeezed.

Loki struggled for breath. His lungs wouldn’t fill. His vision blurred.

All his throat managed was pathetic, weak noises.

He clawed at the hand, his legs kicked out of their own accord. But it was no use.

Until…it was. When the hand suddenly relaxed.

Loki gasped in air, again, and again. All he could focus on was his breath. He didn’t know what had caused Thanos to let him have it again, but he would take it.

When his head had cleared enough to notice Thanos, he saw the Titan shaking his head with an amused grin. He was chuckling. The sound made Loki’s guts twist in knots.

Finally, Thanos gave voice to his amusement. “Why is it, whenever our paths cross…” He fixed Loki with a knowing stare. “…you’re carrying your brother’s child?”

Loki’s eyes grew wide with fear.

He wasn’t- his stomach wasn’t showing enough to- but Thanos had seen-

Thanos’s grin widened, as he slowly and surely raised the Gauntlet. The Power Stone gleamed brighter.

He brought it to Loki’s belly.

Loki howled.

He sobbed, babbled out pleas for Thanos to stop. His limbs spasmed from the sheer energy being pumped into his body.

This pain was far worse than what had happened in the cell. He was going to fall apart, it was going to incinerate him-

It seemed like eons that Thanos pressed that power into his abdomen. When he released it, Loki was still wailing and convulsing in his grip.

A familiar wave of pain wracked his belly. A cramp. No, worse, a contra-

No…

But Thanos wasn’t done. He raised the Gauntlet again. This time the Space Stone lit up. What purpose could the Space Stone have now-

A blue-rimmed portal appeared next to Thanos’s hand. And a trickle of blood dripped out of it.

Thanos reached his gloved hand into the portal. Loki screamed. Something was inside him, what was-

When Thanos withdrew his hand, Loki felt something rip from him. He howled as it tore from his insides.

Through his tears, he could barely see what Thanos was holding in his Gauntlet-covered hand. Just that it was small, and wet, and dripping blood.

Loki wailed himself hoarse as he realized what it was.

Still with that leer in his eyes, Thanos threw it to the ground. It landed with a wet splat at Thor’s feet.

Only then did Loki register Thor’s muffled screams.

When Thanos dropped Loki to the ground as well, he hardly felt the impact. It was nothing compared to the agony that still wracked his body from the Stone. He shuddered, his eyes unseeing.

He knew Thor and…what else Thanos had dropped…were behind him. At least he didn’t have to see either one.

Still quietly sobbing, he didn’t hear much of what Thanos or his minions said next. He heard the Maw’s voice, asking a question. But he did hear Thanos’s smirking reply: “They’re both dead already.”

Then they vanished. Violet flames consumed the edges of Loki’s vision. The Power Stone’s energy, engulfing the ship.

He tried heaving in breath through his sobs. It was still hard to draw in air. His throat, chest, and belly still hurt. Everything hurt.

He felt a hand on his chest. Then a rasping, broken voice whispered, “No, Loki.” His brother’s voice. He clung to it in his mind, his last shred of sanity before the end.

Thor clung to him, too. Through each of their sobs, Thor rested his head on Loki’s chest. Holding his little brother close as their world exploded around them.

Chapter Text

Everything hurt. And something was pricking his arm.

He kept fading away from the edge of consciousness and back. All he was aware of was the pain. Then he started hearing something; it took him a few tries to realize it was different people’s voices.

“How the hell are these dudes still alive?” That voice was whiny, from a younger man’s.

“This one is not a dude. You’re a dude.” That voice was deeper, older. “This, this is a man. A handsome, muscular man.”

“Yeah?” That voice was slimy, more nasal. “What about that one?”

The deeper voice again: “That one is too skinny for my interest.”

“Your interest?” That one was a woman’s voice. It sounded familiar to Loki, but not in a good way. “Drax, what do you think we picked them up for?”

Deeper Voice’s reply sounded defensive: “I was merely stating my opinions on what they look like.”

“I’m muscular!” Whiny Voice whined, trying to recapture everyone’s attention.

The others started to bicker with him, but Loki couldn’t hold onto their words long enough to understand them. He was fading again. Good. Maybe the pain would fade, too.

But, as ever, the universe wouldn’t even let him have this reprieve. Soon a hand touched his forehead, and a voice spoke inside his mind: “Wake.”

His consciousness snapped back to him at full force. When his eyes flew open, it was to meet five pairs of eyes looking down at him. Two men, one woman, an insectoid, and some kind of furry mammal.

“You good?” one of the men asked him, the one with the whiny voice. “You lost a lot of blood, we had to use one of our Transfusion Packs on you. Hope it was the right type.”

Loki looked to his arm. Just as Whiny Voice had said, a half-empty Transfusion Pack was attached to his elbow crease. That explained what was poking his arm.

The mention of blood loss brought back the memory of what was causing his pain. But he managed to stifle his sob, and blinked away the tears that sprang to his eyes. He wouldn’t do this in front of strangers.

Though his body protested, he tried to sit up. But the protests won; he started gasping in agony as his abdomen burned with each movement.

“Loki.”

Strong hands were on his shoulders then, easing him back down. Loki started shaking with all the grief that was stirred to life upon feeling those hands, and hearing that voice.

He couldn’t fight the strength of Thor’s hands forcing him to lie down again. All he could manage was to avoid looking at him. That at least gave him some form of protection.

“Get him something to elevate his legs,” Thor said. Loki hated how he could catch the trembling in Thor’s voice.

The others managed to find some box to position underneath Loki’s feet. The shifting made him realize his trousers were soaked in blood. He could conjure some new ones when he regained his strength. For now, all he could do was lie helpless, as the transfused blood worked its way to his vital organs.

Thor’s hand stayed anchored on his shoulder. Loki wished he had the strength, let alone the courage, to shake that hand away. All it did was remind him of everything.

“He’ll be okay,” the woman said to Thor. “Would you like something to eat?”

Speaking of reminding Loki of unpleasant memories, he suddenly remembered where he’d seen that woman before.

It was the green-skinned woman. Thanos’s daughter. Gamora. The one who had given him her jacket when-

“Yes, thank you,” Thor murmured. He sounded distracted. His hand tightened on Loki’s shoulder.

“Your brother will be okay,” she said again, as if reassuring Thor in his troubled state.

“Brother?” the older man asked. Loki thought he remembered him being called ‘Drax’. “What are you talking about, Gamora? It is obvious they are lovers.”

Gamora didn’t respond. Neither did Thor. It made for a few seconds of awkward silence.

Loki suddenly felt a different hand on his shoulder. It was the insectoid woman. Her antenna moved forward and glowed on the ends. From what Loki could see of her, she was also reaching a hand to Thor.

Her head tilted as she looked down in thought. Tears started collecting in her wide-pupiled eyes. All of her companions seemed to be anticipating her words for some reason.

“They feel many things for one another,” she said. “Love, strong love. Affection. Lust. Jealousy. Loss, and guilt. And anger.”

Loki closed his eyes. As if it weren’t bad enough to feel all those emotions, he had to have them spelled out in front of him, Thor, and a room full of strangers. Just brilliant.

“I cannot tell,” she continued, “if their love is of a brotherly or a romantic nature.”

Thor knocked away her hands. “Then why can’t you just ask us?” he growled. The woman’s antenna drooped at the chastisement. She shuffled away.

Loki heard the clattering of a spoon in a bowl. Gamora must have given Thor the promised food. That must be why his hand left Loki’s shoulder, to take the bowl. He loudly slurped down some of the victuals.

“If you must know,” Thor muttered, “we are both. Brothers and lovers.”

It was quiet for a beat before the nasally-voiced mammal said, “Ooo…kay.” Another pause. “Well, if you’re gonna be freaky like that, might as well stay here in the freak show for a while.”

xxx

Loki eventually regained the strength to sit up. He’d conjured new trousers for himself, and magicked away the rest of the bloodstains on his skin. He sat against the wall of this small ship, arms clutched around himself. Holding himself together.

He caught himself several times reaching to caress his belly. He had to stop himself each time, as he remembered there wasn’t anyone growing inside him anymore. No one to soothe or talk to.

It still didn’t feel real, that his baby was gone. That it had been ripped out of him. He wasn’t feeling the immediate devastation that the first one had wrought. He didn’t feel anything but a slow, creeping ache deep in his soul.

If that ache had its way, he knew the agony would tow him under and devour him piece by piece. He wouldn’t be able to handle it. He’d lose his mind and never regain it. So, he would stave it off for as long as he could. Hence him silencing his silver tongue, sitting quietly in the corner.

He shouldn’t be alive right now. This little band of marauders should have picked up Thor and left Loki for dead. It would have been easier than this. But fate never gave him the easy route.

He looked around the little ship. The whiny-voiced man was a half-human named Quill. He kept giving Thor dirty looks. Loki understood it. It took a man comfortable in his own masculinity to be around Thor and not squirm in his presence. Thor radiated power and dominance, even in his most vulnerable moments.

The man named Drax seemed to understand that. He kept sweeping his eyes over Thor’s arms and chest in clear admiration. It might have bothered Loki if he weren’t grappling with this black hole threatening to swallow his heart.

A small, tree-like creature was lounging in a chair near Loki. He was a Groot, though he must be only a teenager. He was absorbed in some handheld game. He hadn’t acknowledged Loki’s or Thor’s presence.

The insectoid woman - Mantis - and the mammal - Rocket - were listening to what Gamora was saying. Once Thor had told them that Thanos was the cause of the Asgardian massacre, she had started telling them what she knew of that monster.

Loki didn’t care much about whether or not Thanos wiped out half the universe. His own universe had already split at the seams.

His breath nearly caught on a sob at that thought. He forced it down. It would hurt too much to sink into the loss.

That was why, this whole time they’d been on this ship, he hadn’t looked at Thor. He knew Thor was trying to catch his eye, looking at him every so often to make sure he was alright. Loki avoided his gaze each time.

But he was shaken from his thoughts when Thor mentioned Thanos again, and Drax indicated Gamora, saying, “This is the daughter of Thanos.”

The air in the ship changed, becoming sharper, as Thor glared at Gamora. Even when he was in an environment without an atmosphere, Thor’s emotions could still charge static in the air.

“Your father killed my son,” he uttered lowly, as he rose and prowled over to Gamora.

He ended up comforting her about her unfortunate family life, only to be interrupted by an insecure Quill. But Loki couldn’t hear their conversation over the roaring of his own heartbeat.

A son.

He hadn’t seen. But Thor had.

Why did that detail carry so much significance?

He wanted to break down screaming and crying, clawing at the walls and blasting everything away from him with his magic. He wanted the universe to howl with the agony he felt.

But he forced it down. He couldn’t let it consume him. Not here, not now. He trembled as he tried to contain it, but at least that was the only outward sign of his anguish.

Quill kept insisting he knew Gamora’s pain of family tragedy better than Thor, saying, “No, I feel your pain!”

“No.”

The voice came from Drax. Loki hadn’t realized he was standing so near to him. The man was looking from Loki, to Thor, and back again, with a solemnity in his face Loki hadn’t before seen in him.

“I am the one who feels pain like yours,” Drax said softly. He looked down. “I too have lost a child to Thanos.”

Loki’s throat clenched with that knowledge. But at least it had shut Quill up.

“My daughter was too young to know of the horrors lurking in the universe,” Drax continued. “She did not understand what was happening. That was my only consolation.” He looked at Loki again. A quiet grief lurked in his eyes. “I hope your son was also too young, so his life was filled with only happy memories.”

It took a great effort for Loki to breathe evenly after hearing that. His voice trembled as he replied, “He was too young.”

Drax nodded.

“He had spent seventeen weeks in my womb, before Thanos ripped him out of me.”

Everyone looked to him in shock.

Rocket winced. Mantis’s antenna drooped; she looked like she might start crying. Even Groot looked up from his game with a concerned expression.

Gamora looked down with a defeated sigh. Loki could guess her thoughts: It had happened again, and I couldn’t stop it.

“Jesus Christ,” Quill murmured, the fight for dominance temporarily suspended, as he looked at Thor and Loki in sympathy.

Drax touched a hand to Loki’s shoulder. His eyes were laden with sorrow. “I am very sorry, for your loss,” he murmured.

Loki just nodded. What else was there to say?

Thor, apparently, was on the same page. Rather than saying anything, he stood up and headed over to the control panel at the rear of the ship. Muttering to himself as he tried to guess the access code to the attached pod.

When the others asked him where he thought he was going, Thor explained his plan: go to Nidavellir, have the dwarves craft a weapon to kill Thanos, and face off against the Titan again. He even smiled as he spoke to Rocket about him joining the quest.

Something cold grew in Loki’s heart as he saw that dazzling grin. It wasn’t eased when Thor put a hand on his back to usher him into the pod.

Thor wasn’t going to grieve with him. He’d abandoned Loki to that task.

Chapter Text

The pod was even more cramped than the ship, even with fewer people on it. Loki didn’t mind too much, though. He was still sitting in one spot, at the back of the pod. With each star they passed, he wished they could stop at one of them, find a barren asteroid, and hide there for the rest of time.

Instead, they were preparing for another battle. One they would surely lose. And yet Thor’s mind had been set to the task, so there was no talking him out of it. Loki knew his brother well enough to know that.

But Rocket didn’t. He tried talking to Thor. Loki sighed inwardly, and angled his body further away from the pair. Throwing himself out the airlock might be more bearable than listening to another self-righteous speech from Thor.

He was surprised, though, to hear Thor recount their losses.

Son and daughter, dead.

Father and sister, dead.

Mother, dead. Best friends, dead.

People, half-dead. Home, destroyed.

Loki’s heart grew colder with each one. But he felt a flicker of warmth when he heard Thor’s voice start to break when speaking of it all. Loki really was a terrible, selfish man, if proof of his brother’s heartache was all that soothed his own grief.

“You’re sure you’re up to this particular murder mission?” Rocket asked Thor. Loki wondered the same thing.

But if he was waiting for Thor to break into sobs, he was disappointed. All Thor broke into was a wide grin. “Absolutely! Rage, vengeance, anger, loss, regret - they’re all tremendous motivators. They really clear the mind, so I’m good to go.”

Loki wanted nothing more than to punch Thor in his perfect face. Maybe yank out his remaining eye. Because the idiot must be blind already, if he thought everything was ‘good to go’!

Rocket expressed similar skepticism. Loki was starting to like the creature more and more, even with how crass and unrefined he was. And when he mentioned how powerful the new hammer needed to be, Thor stilled. Finally.

“You know, I’m fifteen hundred years old,” Thor said. “I’ve killed twice as many enemies as that, and every one of them would have rather killed me, but none succeeded. I’m only alive because fate wants me alive.”

At that sentence, Loki knew this was going nowhere. When Thor started talking about how he was favored by fate…

“Thanos is just the latest in a long line of bastards,” Thor continued, “and he’ll be the latest to feel my vengeance. Fate wills it so-”

“Will you shut up?”

Thor and Rocket both startled to Loki. Loki knew he probably looked pathetic and weak, curled up against the windows with his arms around himself. But it didn’t stop him from glaring at Thor.

Rocket started backing away. “Yeah, you two probably have a lot to talk about,” he mumbled. Clever creature.

Thor looked away from Loki with a barely-suppressed sigh. Loki’s jaw clenched. Two could play at that game; he also looked away, back out the windows.

“Am I wrong for wanting to kill him?” Thor asked.

Loki scoffed. “You’re wrong for thinking it’ll solve everything.”

Thor’s answering silence scored Loki a victory. But only for so long, when Thor said softly, “There’s not anything that can bring our children back. But they both died because of Thanos. We kill him, and our family will be safe.”

“Our family?” Loki was incredulous enough to face Thor again. When he saw the caution in Thor’s face, he knew Thor was insinuating what he’d thought he’d heard. “Do you really think I’d ever want to risk going through this again?”

“Loki…”

“I can’t do it, Thor.” Fuck, his voice was the first to waver. “I can’t.”

He had to look away, lest Thor see the tears threatening to spill over. Thor had probably heard them in his voice, anyway.

Thor sighed, and shifted to face Loki more directly, even though Loki didn’t look at him in return. “I’m not saying we have to decide that now.”

Oh, Loki was ready to murder him at that comment.

“Right now,” Thor continued, “we just need to-”

“To what?” Loki spat. “Take revenge?”

“What else is left for us to do, after he killed our son?”

Loki’s eyes closed at that last word. When he’d composed himself as best he could, he slowly turned to Thor.

“Our son?” he uttered.

Thor just looked at him. Until finally, finally it dawned on him what he’d said. What knowledge he’d inflicted on Loki.

“Loki, I’m so sorry,” he whispered. “I didn’t think-”

“You’re right, you didn’t think,” Loki snarled. “You never do!”

But watching Thor recoil from the cruel words didn’t help. Loki looked away, shaking his head. He felt so helpless.

“You want to take revenge, to try to kill Thanos, fine,” Loki bit out. “Just do it in a smart way. You know what he’s capable of now, and with each new Stone he obtains, he’ll only grow stronger. Running at him with just a replacement for Mjolnir is nothing short of suicide.”

Thor’s eye flitted down. When he looked back up, Loki saw for the first time since Thanos’s attack how broken Thor was inside.

“At this point,” Thor said in an unsteady voice, “what more could I lose?”

Loki just stared at him as Thor wiped away the beginnings of tears. He understood now why Thor’s behavior was making him so angry.

“And what about what I could lose?” Thor looked at him, his mouth set in a guilty, flat line. But Loki didn’t let up. “Did you ever stop to think of that?”

Thor swallowed. He opened his mouth to reply (this better be good, Loki thought), but before he could say anything, an alarm went off at the front of the pod. Thor ‘reluctantly’ left to go see what it was.

Loki went too, against his better judgment. He hadn’t laid eyes on Nidavellir in a few hundred years. Hopefully, it was as incredible as he remembered, so it could furnish Thor with the weapon he needed.

xxx

Well, the good news was that Thor had a new right eyeball.

(Sure, Loki had to mutter a cleaning spell over it as Thor stuck it in his face. And it would take Loki some getting used to, as Thor’s eyes were now two different colors. Infuriatingly, he still looked gorgeous. Damn him.)

Nidavellir, however, was shaping up to be another disaster for them.

The neutron star had gone dark, and Eitri was all that was left of the dwarves. Thanos’s cruelty had even reached this near-mythic corner of the universe. And yet Thor still thought it a good idea to try forging the legendary Stormbreaker regardless.

Loki stood by Eitri as they watched Thor and Rocket start up the forge again. When they managed it, Eitri remarked, “Your brother is still quite the headstrong boy.”

“‘Thick-skulled’ is the way I would put it,” Loki replied. “But, yes.”

Eitri chuckled. “And you are still quite the silver-tongue.”

A beam of pure sunlight blasted into the smithy. Eitri grinned up at it, but Loki shuddered. Even from this distance, his Jotun blood cringed from the intense heat. He could almost feel the molten steel dripping onto his back-

Then he felt relief. But not for a good reason; the star had gone dark again.

As Thor and Eitri shouted out to each other about it, the dwarf looked ready to give up and slink back into a depression. Loki felt a kindred spirit in him.

But then Thor gave voice the stupidest idea of his entire life:

“I’m gonna hold it open.”

No. He’d never be able to do it. He couldn’t survive it. Eitri told him as much, but Thor was adamant it was what needed to be done.

But then the truth came to Loki, of what really needed to be done.

“Throw me out to him,” he told Eitri.

Eitri nodded, scooping Loki up into his giant hand. “Perhaps you can talk some sense into him,” he said, and threw Loki toward the pod.

Well…Loki wasn’t sure ‘sense’ was the right word for it.

He managed to land neatly on top of the pod. Eitri must have played sports as a child, with an aim like that.

As soon as Thor saw him, he frowned. “You’re not talking me out of this.”

“Thor-”

“We need that axe, and the only way to make it is if I hold the forge open.”

“You’ll never survive it.”

Thor didn’t say anything to that. He just turned away from Loki, preparing to jump to the star’s gates.

So Loki finished his thought: “Not if you do this alone.”

Thor froze. When he moved, he slowly turned to face Loki, his mouth agape.

When his wits returned to him, he shook his head. “No.”

“I can give you the few minutes you need to-”

“I’m not letting you throw away your life on this.”

“And what exactly were you about to do?” Loki shot back.

“You’re-” Thor lowered his voice, hesitating. “You’re a Frost Giant. It’ll kill you before it kills me.”

That was enough to also make Loki hesitate. He knew Thor was probably right. And it wouldn’t be a quick, painless death.

But his being a Frost Giant was the key to all of this. “I’ll be able to cool you down, so you’ll have a chance.”

“Loki-”

“You’re the King of Asgard,” Loki said. “You’re the one who will be able to wield the axe.” He shrugged. “You’re the one who has to survive this.”

Thor looked away. He didn’t say anything to that for a while. He probably didn’t want to have to admit that.

When he did speak, it was with a humorless chuckle. “It might be that neither one of us will survive this.”

Loki chuckled too, and it was just as joyless a sound. “Well, we’ve survived up to this point, haven’t we?”

Thor looked back to him. It was with a slight grin. Loki met it with his own. He knew as much as Thor did that they were both smiling to hide how scared they were.

Still, Thor nodded in agreement of the plan. He held out his hand to Loki.

Loki took it, and they leapt to the forge’s gates together.

xxx

When Loki heard Eitri’s reply to Thor’s comment ‘Only if I die,’ he muttered under his breath, “Thank you, Eitri.”

Thor glanced at him out the corner of his new eyeball. “For what?”

“For assuring me I’m not the only one who thinks you spout the most inane bullshit.”

Thor chuckled. But it quickly faded. “You ready?”

There was no real answer to that. Even if he wasn’t a Frost Giant, and even if he hadn’t been tortured with heat before, Loki would probably never be ready to take the full force of a star through his skin.

But, he would be exposed to this heat for a purpose. And he wouldn’t be facing it alone. So he gave Thor a tight nod.

They braced themselves on each other, with one arm slung around the other’s back. Loki’s other palm was already sweating as it clutched his side of the gate.

“On three,” Thor said. “One…”

Loki tightened his grip on the gate.

“Two…”

He tightened his grip on the back of Thor’s neck. A wordless promise.

“Three!”

They wrenched open the gates together. And immediately, the agony ripped through Loki, as the star began charring his skin off his bones.

He had to bully his Jotun flesh out of hiding. In his Aesir skin, he wasn’t as sensitive to heat, so he would last longer as a pale Asgardian than a blue Frost Giant.

But the moment he heard Thor’s screams beside him, any doubts in Loki’s mind were silenced. He dredged up his true flesh and focused all his energy on Thor. Willing the ice to coat his brother’s back to protect him.

But it burned. It burned! It burned like the Maw had kept burning him, pressing red-hot blades into his body to brand him. His desperate nerve endings kept trying to sheath themselves in ice, trying to regenerate ahead of the incineration, but that just made it hurt worse…

All he could do was scream. Hold onto the gate to keep it open. Hold onto Thor to protect him. And scream.

He could feel his flesh bubbling in purple blisters, peeling away to reveal his bones and sinews on his back. It hurt, it hurt! He couldn’t keep doing this!

His vision was tunneling. He kept his focus on where his hand clasped Thor’s neck. Thor was screaming too, gripping him just as tightly, anchoring him to his purpose.

He could keep going. Just a little longer. Just stay alive a little longer, for Thor, for the axe, for their babies…

He didn’t register his hand slipping from the gate, or how his center of gravity shifted when he pitched forward, falling into the smithy. All he noticed was when he let go of Thor’s neck, before everything went dark.

Chapter Text

There was a clump of grass in front of his face. Its sweet, earthy scent filled his nose with each breath. Sunlight was shining behind his closed eyelids.

He opened them. There was the grass. And a few feet away, there was Thor, also lying in…

…in the field in Norway?

That was where they were. But how the Hel had they gotten here?

Loki rolled onto his side. He was surprised how none of his movements hurt him. The Power Stone’s effects, and that of the neutron star, no longer hindered him.

That didn’t make sense, until he saw who was standing several yards away from him and Thor.

“No matter how many times you would fall,” Odin said, “you always managed to pick yourself up.”

Loki was knocked speechless from seeing his father. He still wore the same plainclothes they’d seen him in last. Before he’d…

Oh. That’s why Loki and Thor were here.

He rose up to one knee as he looked around. This didn’t seem like the Valhalla of the songs. There was no golden feasting hall in sight, no fallen warriors of a thousand generations welcoming their arrival. It seemed the afterlife was just as disappointing as what came before.

Thor seemed to be on the same page. “Is this Valhalla?”

Odin just chuckled. He looked around at the field with a certain wistfulness.

“This is the realm of the Allfathers,” he said. “A place where my father spoke to me in my moments of peril, and his father spoke to him. A king needs strength to carry on. And sometimes only another king can provide that strength.”

“And sometimes,” came a voice behind Odin, “it requires more than just a king.”

If Loki weren’t dead already (which he couldn’t tell if he actually was), his heart would have stopped upon hearing that voice.

Odin smiled, and took Frigga’s hand when she walked over to his side. She also wore the clothing she had died in. Though her Asgardian gown and breastplate contrasted sharply with Odin’s Midgardian attire, they still fit together perfectly.

Frigga smiled down at Thor and Loki. “My sons, you have come so far. I am so proud of you both.”

Loki’s breath caught. There was so much he wanted to say to her, to both of them. “I’m sorry-”

She held up a hand to hush him. “You needn’t be,” she said. The way she looked at him then made him feel like she could stare into his soul. “Of all the deaths in our family the last several years, neither one of you were responsible for any of them.”

Loki had to struggle for his next even breath. Some long-buried wounds in his heart ached a little less at her words.

“All the deaths?” Thor asked.

Loki looked at Thor, who glanced back at him. Loki then realized which tiny lost lives Thor was referring to.

And the secret they’d hidden from their parents for so long, implied by the existence of those little lives.

But when they cautiously looked back up to their parents, they were met by expressions of calmness and warmth. Not looks of approval, exactly, but more of a…lukewarm acceptance.

“It is not the business of the dead,” Odin said, “to thwart the hearts of the living.” His smile turned more earnest. “Nor that of a father, to impede the happiness of his sons. I have assumed that role for far too long.”

Loki didn’t know what to say to that. He’d never expected to hear his father speak of his past failings out loud.

Odin and Frigga looked to each other. Loki knew that look, as did Thor; it was when their parents were silently debating telling them something.

They must have decided to go ahead, for Odin looked back to his sons. “We decided against bringing them here. Their spirits are still too fragile. But we wanted you to know that they are with us, in Valhalla.”

“Who?” Thor asked.

But Loki gasped in a sobbing breath, as understanding dawned on him. A second later, it dawned on Thor, as well.

“They are not suffering anymore,” Odin said. “We are taking care of them.”

Frigga’s composure broke, as she burst into a smile and her eyes grew misty. “They are so beautiful,” she half-whispered. “Both of them.”

Loki had to bow his head as his first tears fell. They slid along his nose, and landed in the grass beneath him.

Thor took his hand. When Loki looked at him, his eyes were also welling with tears.

“Thor,” Odin said. Both Thor and Loki looked back up to him. “When you were last here, I told you that you are stronger than me. And that is true. But now, as your greatest battle is still before you, you must be stronger still.

“So remember, both of you, where you are the strongest. Whether as brothers, as warriors, as leaders, or as parents.”

He smiled. “You are each strongest when you are together.”

He let his words sink in for them both, before he and Frigga began to walk away.

But Loki shook his head, as something still didn’t make sense. “If this is the realm of the Allfathers…”

His parents turned back to him.

“…why did I come here with Thor? I don’t understand.”

Odin and Frigga grinned at him. Frigga raised an eyebrow. “Do you not?”

Then they were fading away from him and Thor. The very landscape was stretching, as their parents passed beyond their reach.

But Loki couldn’t help reaching out to them, nor could Thor. Even as white light obscured Loki’s vision, and a newfound strength flowed into his veins, he tried to call them back.

Until something answered the call of his outstretched hand. But it wasn’t his parents.

xxx

It was the handle of a large axe.

The axe. The one they’d nearly died to create.

Or rather, half of it. Eitri’s mold had been for two pieces of uru, a blade and a hammer, joined together by the handle. This weapon only had the blade, which crackled with arcs of his green magic. And the handle looked suspiciously like one of Groot’s arms.

But that was Loki’s only concern in his current situation. He felt more alive than he’d ever been. A new power flowed through his blood.

Judging by his ability to wield the axe, it was the power of the Allfathers.

Looking around him now, that power had wrought many changes while he and Thor were near death. It had clothed them in their battle armor and royal capes, for one. And it had summoned the Bifrost, as Eitri had said it could, bringing them to where they were needed.

From the look of their surroundings, it was somewhere on Earth. Not the happiest of places for Loki to be, but he could handle it. He felt like he could handle anything now, like some magical potential in him was unlocked for the first time.

He glanced at Thor. He looked so radiant, so unstoppable. More of a force of nature than he’d ever been, even more than at the Battle of Asgard.

The battle around them had stopped, as humans and monsters alike looked in awe at their (no doubt impressive) entrance. Loki noticed that the Outriders were among them.

Oh, this was going to be fun.

He and Thor headed out toward the battle. “Bring me Thanos!” Thor roared. Loki joined him in charging headlong into the fray, Rocket and Groot right behind them.

Loki leapt with Thor into the air, hovering over a mass of Outriders. Apparently they could fly with these weapons. Good to know.

As they rose, Loki called on all his power. His magic as a sorcerer, and his ice powers as a Frost Giant, flew out in green-white waves all around him, mingling with the blue-white of Thor’s lightning.

With matching battle cries, they brought both halves of Stormbreaker down with all their might onto the battlefield. Their combined powers incinerated every Outrider in a hundred-foot radius.

However long this battle had raged, it would be over soon. The Kings of Asgard had arrived. And they would have their revenge.

Chapter Text

Loki had grown up fighting side-by-side with Thor. They had honed their skills together, compensating for each other’s disadvantages and blind spots as they destroyed their enemies in a flurry of magic and lightning. That was also why they were so good at fighting each other: they knew each other’s weak points.

Now they were back on the same side. Though this wasn’t a fight.

This was a dance.

They weaved through the battlefield, meeting, parting, and meeting again. Thor clobbered Outriders left and right with the hammer end of Stormbreaker, and threw lightning at those he couldn’t reach. Loki cleaved them in two with the axe, shooting ice shards and magic from his fingertips.

They would throw their halves of Stormbreaker to each other when they needed to dual-wield them. Loki could summon his own blades, and Thor got on well enough just punching Outriders across the field. Their respective storms provided them enough cover in the meantime.

Some part of Loki was surprised he didn’t freeze once he saw the Outriders. But with the power he now possessed, and with Thor by his side in equal strength, he had nothing to fear from them. He relished how he could slice them to pieces now.

At one point, he met up with Thor on the battlefield once again, where they destroyed a column of twenty Outriders in a row. They split them all in half, gushing their black blood everywhere.

“These things are disgusting,” Thor commented.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Loki said. As he passed by Thor to head for another group of monsters, he murmured in Thor’s ear, “Their seed was what burned away my womb years ago.”

His words had the predicted effect: a second later, Thor’s lightning was exploding out across the battlefield, unpredictable in all but its sheer destruction. Loki later saw him hammering an Outrider’s brains in with vicious delight.

Loki was of a similar mind. There was something so satisfying about slaughtering the beasts that had tortured and violated him for months on end. His and Thor’s vengeance against Thanos would be for their children, but each Outrider he slew was avenging another piece of his womb they’d burned away.

But as they thinned the Outriders’ ranks, Loki started noticing the other side of the battlefield. Though technically, he supposed it was his side, too.

The humans were looking at him in awe and confusion. Awe, because of his power; confusion, because they’d last seen him trying to conquer their planet. He wasn’t supposed to be one of their last-minute saviors.

Loki paid them little mind, at first. But he soon stumbled upon familiar faces.

Agent Romanoff looked up at him once. He made the mistake of catching her eye. She might have given him an unsure smile before he flew away to another corner of the battlefield. He was too far away to be certain.

Tony Stark’s colonel friend was flying around the fray as well. When Loki intercepted a leaping Outrider about to claw him from the sky, the man did a double-take in his mask. “Shit, man, you’d better not be about to triple-cross anyone today!” was all he said, before he took off again.

Bruce Banner was of course more enthusiastic about seeing Loki again. Loki wasn’t sure why he was in a gigantic version of an Iron Man suit rather than just being the Hulk, but he didn’t care enough to ask.

“Hey, man!” Banner called out to him, waving a giant robotic hand. “You and Thor are kicking ass!”

“I thank you for noticing,” Loki said dryly.

After he took out another bunch of Outriders, Banner asked him, “You sure you’re okay to be out here fighting, though?”

Loki looked at him in confusion. What did he mean by tha-

Oh.

That’s right. Banner had left the ship before…before it had happened. He didn’t know.

But Loki was not about to have an emotional breakdown in the middle of this fight. He didn’t care enough about Banner knowing, anyway. Let Thor handle that if he wanted, after this was done.

So, he stabbed an Outrider in the gut with one of his daggers, sliced another in half with his axe, and flung the bodies into three more with a blast of green magic. Banner just gaped at the display.

“Do I not look okay to be fighting?” Loki asked the mortal.

He didn’t wait for a reply to the rhetorical question; he flew away to vent his frustrations on some more of the creatures.

The creatures he chose happened to be near Thor. When they dispatched those in the vicinity, Thor grinned at him. “I asked the rabbit a few minutes ago about why there’s two axes,” he said.

Loki decided to ignore Thor’s ridiculous mislabeling of Rocket’s species. The man had lived on Earth for two years, how did he not know what a rabbit looked like? “And?”

“He said Tree-” -again with the odd nicknames- “-gave one of his limbs for the handle, but he couldn’t hold onto-” -they slew a few dozen more Outriders- “-the heated axe head long enough to bring it together.”

That made sense. Stormbreaker had been the same temperature as the star that had nearly killed them. Groot was brave for even attempting to touch it.

“So,” Thor said, as Loki froze some Outriders for him to smash, “I was thinking we should divide the name in two.”

“What?”

Thor shattered the frozen beasts. “Storm and Breaker! So who gets what?”

Loki just gave him a long-suffering look. Thor looked like a child asking his mother for an extravagant gift for Yule, all wide eyes and a hopeful grin.

Loki rolled his eyes. He knew which one Thor preferred. “You’re the God of Thunder. You can have Storm.”

Thor’s face lit up. Figuratively at first. Then it lit up literally when he released more lightning onto an approaching bunch of Outriders. “Thank you, Brother!”

This was a battle, but for a moment, Loki had never felt more turned on in his life than when he saw Thor’s eyes glow with his power like that.

They kept moving through the battlefield together. At another lull in the fighting, Thor greeted Captain Rogers. Loki almost didn’t recognize the man with his beard (which Thor of course attributed to himself).

Rogers politely introduced himself to a nearby Groot - which Loki smirked at, considering Groot had actually said “I’m gonna shove my maplewood dick right through these motherfucking jizzwads’ assholes!” as he killed several Outriders in a row. Though he supposed Rogers had no prior exposure to speaking Groot.

Then Rogers turned to Loki. “So what, you’re on our side now?”

Loki tilted his head at him. “Is that a problem?”

Rogers looked around at the carnage of the battle. “The way I see it, I’ll take all the help we can get.”

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m doing this to help you,” Loki said. “I’m sure Thor is glad to do so. But we came here for a far greater purpose.”

“Which is?”

Loki hurled a conjured dagger over his shoulder, killing a charging Outrider in one shot without even looking. The body rolled forward with its momentum, till it stopped at Rogers’ feet.

“Vengeance,” Loki said. And he took to the skies again to find more blood to spill.

xxx

The fight was winding down now. This meant that spilling more Outrider blood would put him in more direct contact with the humans on the ground. It irritated Loki. If he had his way, he’d kill every living soul in the vicinity, no matter the side. But he knew he’d never hear the end of it from Thor.

Instead, the more Outriders he killed, the more the humans would see him as a hero. Would they expect him to go around protecting them from every invading army after this, solving all their pathetic problems like they expected from Thor? Would they want him to join the damn Avengers now? Infuriating. It could not be borne.

At least none of the regular human soldiers on the battlefield were stupid enough to approach him here. That is, except one.

He’d sliced the heads off a few more Outriders, then took a moment to survey the field, searching for his next quarry. And then he heard a loud laugh approaching him, saying, “Aren’t you the one who attacked New York City?”

Loki sighed. He figured it was only a matter of time before someone was foolish enough to ask him that. Though, when he got a look at him, perhaps this man had found little in his life to intimidate him. He was quite large for a human, perhaps a decorated warrior among his people.

“It was a long time ago,” Loki said.

“Yes,” the man said. “But I remember you! The angry little man. Challenging for a throne he was never meant to have.”

He had come right up to Loki, showing no hesitation. A true warrior then, if a damn fool.

“Everyone here in Wakanda was shocked that day,” the man said, “except for my tribe. I told them, ‘If there are other lifeforms beyond our planet, of course some of them are colonizers!’” He laughed. “So tell me, colonizer, what made you stop fighting for that throne you wanted so badly?”

What had stopped it? Loki would be hard-pressed to remember all the events of the six years since then, and distill them all for this human before they returned to the fight. So, he gave the simplest explanation he could offer: “I claimed a place beside that throne, which suited me much better.”

The man laughed again. But it didn’t sound mocking at all. “As have I,” he said.

Loki wasn’t sure what he meant by that. But he knew this part of Earth they’d landed in wasn’t in the same country as New York City, so perhaps Wakanda, like Asgard, was a monarchy.

The man extended his hand, and gave his name: “M’Baku.”

Strangely, Loki found himself shaking M’Baku’s hand. “Loki.”

M’Baku nodded a warrior’s respect. But a second later, he gave Loki a cheeky grin. Perhaps there was a spectrum of tolerability among the humans, and it ranged from M’Baku to Tony Stark.

But before Loki could contemplate that for too long, a sudden explosion from a faraway grove of trees drowned everything else out.

Loki and M’Baku looked out at the trees. “They must have destroyed it,” M’Baku said.

“Destroyed what?”

“The Stone.”

Loki shot him an skeptical look. “You can’t just destroy an Infinity Stone.”

“The Avengers can,” M’Baku said. “I heard King T’Challa speaking of it. They brought a woman with them with the power to do so.”

Loki thought on who that could be. He knew Thor had once told him of two humans who had been experimented on with the Mind Stone to unlock their own sorcery. But Loki had only been half-listening to Thor at the time.

Loki then saw the strangest thing happen before his eyes. The explosion…reversed itself.

Which, if it had been from an Infinity Stone, meant only one person could have caused such a thing.

“Loki!”

Loki looked up. He’d last seen Thor destroying the ships which housed the last of the Outriders, but now he was flying toward the trees.

“I can see Thanos!” Thor shouted. “Pass me Breaker, I’ll only have one shot!”

Loki broke out in sweat at the mention of Thanos’s name. But he quickly complied, throwing Breaker to Thor’s waiting hand.

He could only watch as Thor channeled his lightning down to a spot within the trees. When a multicolored beam of energy shot back at him, he threw both Storm and Breaker to intercept it.

And the axes beat it back. They beat back all six Infinity Stones.

Loki grinned with pride as Thor followed the weapons into the trees. Vengeance was theirs.

“You know,” M’Baku said, “for someone who doesn’t get along with his brother, you do look awfully proud of him.”

“He did just kill the most powerful being in the universe,” Loki said. But then he added quickly, “Don’t tell him I said that, though. It’ll go right to his head.”

M’Baku chuckled, though it was with a more muted joy. Loki quickly saw why, as the man looked out at his dead and wounded kin left on the battlefield. “Thanos’s forces killed many of my brothers and sisters this day. The man who kills him should enjoy his victory.”

He left Loki’s side then, to help one of the female warriors nearby lift one of their wounded brethren. Loki could understand his sadness. But he didn’t share in it. Humans died all the time; it was why they were called ‘mortals.’ Loki felt no sorrow upon witnessing it.

And it was a good thing, too. Because the next thing he knew, both the female warrior and the wounded soldier vanished before his eyes.

M’Baku stumbled. He looked at his hand, which had been lifting the soldier only seconds ago. All that was left on it was…

…Were those ashes?

M’Baku looked to Loki, in a wordless plea for an explanation. But Loki had none.

Loki looked around. Everywhere, more and more humans were turning to ash, blowing away in the wind. There was no cry of pain preceding it, no sign it was about to happen. It just happened.

Loki knew all sorts of ways to kill people, and they all pointed to different motives. A single slice to the throat was an efficient, coldhearted murder. Burn marks from a blast of magic could be an unplanned act of self-defense. Frenzied laser fire past the point of lethality spoke of rage and vengeance.

But an otherwise-unexplained, painless vanishing?

This was calculated and dispassionate, but not cruel. As if the deaths were regrettable, yet necessary.

Which left only one perpetrator Loki knew of. Thanos had done what he’d set out to do, as Gamora had explained on the ship. Half of Earth’s population was turning to ash, all over the world.

No, that wasn’t right. Not just half of life on Earth. Half of all life in the universe.

Loki kept staring at his hands. He kept expecting for his own body to start crumbling away. He had failed Thanos once, after all. Surely the madman had him on his kill list.

But it never happened. He stayed in one piece. Thanos must be more steadfast in his conviction than anyone Loki had ever met, to be truly leaving the selection of his victims to chance.

Wait.

If he had actually snapped his fingers after acquiring all six Stones, then Thor hadn’t-

Oh, no.

If the killing was truly random…

Loki took off running across the battlefield, heading for the trees. He had to find Thor. Now.

Chapter Text

Once Loki saw the Avengers, he slowed to a walk. He was afraid of what he would find.

He passed Rocket sitting on a log, quietly weeping. Captain Rogers was sitting on the ground nearby, next to the body of some gray humanoid creature. Banner, Romanoff, and the flying colonel were standing around him. They were all reacting as every other human was: reeling in shock, trying to process what had just happened.

“Where is Thor?” Loki asked them.

They looked up to him. They didn’t say anything. Loki hoped it was just from their inability to comprehend what had happened.

“Where is Thor?” he repeated. He hoped his voice didn’t waver. They could probably hear his heart hammering, it was beating so loudly.

Rogers looked away. No. No no no no no…

Loki looked around the forest. Surely Thor was standing nearby. This was where Thanos had reversed the explosion, where Thor had thrown their weapons. He had to be here somewhere, he had to be…

It was quiet. Far, far too quiet.

But Loki had to stay calm. He would comb through every square inch of this forest until he found him. He would find him. Of course he would.

It turned out he didn’t have to look far. He saw Storm and Breaker lying on the ground, the uru heads smeared with purple blood.

And standing beside them was Thor. Staring down at the weapons. In one piece. Alive.

Loki gasped. Thor turned to the sound. He also gasped when he saw Loki.

Loki ran to him, not caring about how it might look. He ran into his brother’s arms. They clung to one another so tightly they might squeeze the life out of each other.

“I thought-” Thor said, his voice breaking, “I thought you had-”

“I know,” Loki said into his shoulder. He sniffed. “I thought you had, too.”

Thor just hugged him harder, as if making sure he was really there, that he wasn’t going to crumble away. Loki ended up doing the same to Thor.

Loki just stood there for a long time in Thor’s crushing embrace. Thor was alive, and so was he. The world wasn’t alright, let alone the universe. But in this moment, Loki’s world was whole.

He opened his eyes, looking at their weapons lying beside them. “What happened?” he asked. “Were you too late?”

Thor didn’t reply for a while. “No,” he finally mumbled, “no, I…I managed to strike him. But then…then he snapped his fingers and-”

“It’s alright,” Loki hushed him. “He had all six Stones. I’m surprised our weapons could even pierce his skull.”

Thor went so still in his arms then. “I…”

But then he stopped talking. Though Loki was loathe to let him go in any capacity, he loosened his arms around Thor to look him in the eye. “What is it?”

Thor was looking down, avoiding his gaze. He tried several times to summon his voice again. “I…I hit him in the chest.”

Loki’s face fell.

Now it was his turn to fumble for words. “Wh…what?”

Thor finally met his eyes again. This was the first time in a while Loki had seen true fear in their depths. “I wanted you to be able to-”

Loki sliced him across the cheek with a dagger.

Though Thor took it, he looked shocked when he looked back to Loki. “Brother-”

“Don’t ‘Brother’ me!” Loki shouted. “You knew what you were doing when you threw it! You’ve been throwing Mjolnir around for centuries! Why didn’t you aim for his head?”

“Why?” Thor asked. Now his own fire was rising again, even as blood welled from the dagger wound. “Why do you think I did? It was for you!”

Loki tried to cut him again, but Thor caught his wrist. So Loki just shoved at him instead with his free hand. “Don’t you dare act like I had anything to do with this! This was your doing, it was your fault!”

“And what he did to you was his doing!” Thor shouted.

“Shut up-”

“I wanted him to suffer for what he did to you! For what he put you through, what his monsters put you through, how they tore away at your insides-”

“You think this was about my honor?” Loki bellowed, his vision swarming with red. “You think if I had been the one to throw the axes, I wouldn’t have dealt him a killing blow? After what he did to me, how could I have wanted him anything other than dead as soon as possible?”

“I TOOK REVENGE!” Thor roared in his face. “FOR YOU, AND FOR OUR DAUGHTER, AND FOR OUR SON!”

Loki just glared at him. He was shaking, seething with rage. “Tell that to the parents all over the universe,” he uttered, “who lost their sons and daughters today. Because of what you did, Thanos killed them.” His next words were sheer poison, but he didn’t care: “And just like us, they won’t even have bodies to bury.”

Thor’s jaw trembled. Loki could see the pain burning in his eyes, along with brimming horror at his actions.

But Loki didn’t care. Thor deserved it.

He stalked away, uncaring of the other Avengers watching him. He picked up Breaker and took to the sky.

xxx

The wailing was terrible.

Loki knew there wouldn’t be any escaping the sound. It was a wail of mourning, and the entire universe was mourning tonight.

He and the Avengers had been given rooms for the night in the palace of this land’s rulers. Unfortunately, they now had room to spare. Loki would have been mildly impressed with Wakanda, as it was quite advanced (for a human country). But he couldn’t feel anything tonight beyond his low-simmering anger at Thor.

He wasn’t in his room. He doubted he’d sleep at all tonight. He was standing by a large window in the throne room. It provided a vantage point for the humans’ funeral rites.

What was left of the country was gathered outside. They were performing their ritualistic dances, though many of them kept wailing their sorrow.

Watching it all was the Wakandan princess and her mother. Apparently, their king had been among those turned to ash. The princess (or was she technically the queen now?) was trying to keep her tears in check. It was difficult, for one so young.

How many funerals were happening right now, across the universe? How many traditional rites were being enacted, for how many trillions of people?

And all because Thor had wanted to avenge Loki's suffering, and their children’s lives.

Loki still steadfastly maintained to himself that it wasn’t indirectly his own fault too, as the one Thor had tried to avenge. But it was proving more and more difficult to tell himself that, as the night went on.

Captain Rogers walked up to the window at some point, standing at his side. Loki didn’t have anything to say to him. Rogers stayed silent, too, as they watched the funeral together. In his periphery, Loki could see that the man had been crying.

Loki couldn’t stand the silence for very long. “Did Thor send you to check on me?”

“No,” was the reply. “But I did just talk to him.” Damn Rogers and all his barefaced honesty. What was he looking for, a medal? “He’s taking this really hard.”

“Well, he should be,” Loki bit out. “Look what he caused.”

Rogers let that sentence sit for a while, as he looked out at the funeral. “It wasn’t just him,” he ended up quietly saying. “We all came up short on this one. Thor came closer than any of us.”

Loki rolled his eyes. That’s right, it was ‘we’. Everything was ‘we’ with Captain America, wasn’t it. “Yes, he came the closest,” Loki said. “But he could have done more. He could have done it, for all of us.”

“Maybe,” Rogers said, “but what he ended up doing, he did for you.”

“Don’t you dare start with that,” Loki snapped. “I thought you were at least wise enough to avoid provoking me. An enhanced mortal you may be, but still just that. A mortal.”

Rogers sighed. “I know. If today made anything clear, it’s that everyone’s lives are fragile. It doesn’t matter who you are. And that’s why we need to be there for the people we love, while we can.”

Okay, that hurt. Loki knew what Rogers was getting at; they were looking out at hundreds of people who couldn’t be with all their loved ones anymore.

Still, Loki tried to deflect. “What gives you the impression that I love Thor?”

“The fact that, as everyone vanished, your first instinct was to look for him,” Rogers said. “And when you saw he was alive, you hugged him.” He paused again, before he added, “And he did mention you two had children.”

Loki’s face grew warm. He’d forgotten his and Thor’s argument had been in front of the other Avengers. Great. Now he’d be facing their judgments on top of everything else.

“I’m surprised Dr. Banner didn’t tell you about us when he returned to Earth,” he said.

“He did,” Rogers said. “But he only told me and Natasha.”

“Well, if you’re expecting me to care about your judgments-”

“I’m not judging you.”

For the first time in the conversation, Loki turned to look at Rogers. His look of surprise made it out the gates before he could filter his reaction.

Rogers looked back at him, and shrugged. “I always knew, in a way. Thor mentioned you a lot in the two years he stayed with us. More often than his girlfriend.”

Something warm kindled back to life in Loki’s heart at that last bit. He was more successful at not letting it show this time. “I am his brother.”

Rogers just nodded, and looked down. He suddenly looked so tired.

“Look,” he said, “I know it’s not exactly the same, but…I know what it’s like to love someone who the world doesn’t want you to have.”

He took a long pause. Let out a deep breath. It sounded like grief to Loki.

“And when you do,” he continued, though his voice was tighter, “you have to hold onto them even harder. Because they’re all you have. You can try keeping your distance, pushing them away, but it’s not gonna make your life any easier. It makes it even worse.”

Those words landed far too close to Loki’s heart for comfort. Rogers could have been reading from Loki’s biography.

“Go talk to Thor,” Rogers said. “He’s in a lot of pain right now. None of us have been able to get through to him. If anyone can, it’s you.”

Loki’s gaze slid down. He didn’t agree verbally, but maybe Rogers could tell these things.

“And I’m sorry,” Rogers said. “About your kids.”

Loki’s face set in stone.

“Rocket told me what Thanos did to you,” Rogers continued. “No one deserves that.”

Loki scoffed. “Not even me?”

Rogers paused. It was just for a beat, but it spoke volumes. Still, he said, “Not even you. And you know, even if you’re not that good of a person, you’re not half as bad as you think you are.”

Loki didn’t know how to respond to that. So he didn’t.

“I don’t know if you can,” Rogers said, “but try to get some rest tonight. We’re gonna need all hands on this in the morning.”

He turned to leave. Loki was bewildered by his words’ implications. “All hands for what? You really think it’s possible to fix this?”

Rogers’ footsteps stopped. “Maybe not,” he said softly. “But we have to try.”

Again with that ‘we’. Loki was swiftly growing to hate the word. “And when you find you can’t fix it? What then?”

Rogers didn’t reply for a while. But when he did, his voice was iron. “We’re not called the Avengers for nothing.”

With that, he left. And if Loki weren’t a god, or a king, he would have been terrified of what Steve Rogers’ determination could make him capable of.

xxx

Under normal circumstances, Loki would not have done as a human bade him. But tonight was anything but normal. So, Loki was soon closing Thor’s bedroom door behind him.

Thor was sitting on the side of his bed. His back was to Loki, his broad shoulders hunched over himself as he leaned over his knees. He hardly moved, but Loki could tell what that tension in his frame meant. He had been crying.

Loki’s heart clenched at the sight. It scared him to see that constant figure of strength falling apart. Not least because it was his words that had partly caused it.

But Thor needed him now. So Loki would lend his own strength, as best he could.

He padded over to sit beside Thor. Even in profile, lit only by moonlight, Thor was quite the sight. His eyes were red and puffy, tearstains and snot streaking his face.

He looked so much older than the boy who had nearly been crowned king just seven years ago. Loki’s heart ached seeing him like this.

Loki took his nearest hand. He wasn’t sure what to say. ‘I’m sorry’ seemed like the obvious choice, but he wasn’t sure if that mattered much. However cruel his words had been, they had been true. That was what had cut Thor the deepest, even more the healing dagger wound on his face.

It turned out he didn’t have to say anything; Thor spoke first. “I failed,” he croaked. “I failed everyone. I failed you.”

Loki swallowed. Thor wasn’t used to failure the way Loki was. This could make his current mindset dangerous.

So Loki moved from his seat, to kneel in front of Thor. He still held Thor’s hand; his other hand cupped Thor’s wounded cheek. “So we’ll do better next time,” he murmured. Thor sniffed deeply. “Next time, we won’t hesitate.” He tilted Thor’s chin toward him, encouraging him to meet his eyes. “And we’ll kill the son of a bitch who stole our future from us.”

Thor’s eyes burned into him with their pain. But Loki held his gaze steady. Thor was the one who looked away. “Our future,” Thor whispered. He shook his head. “I thought we would be arriving on Earth months from now. I thought…”

Loki could see the direction he was headed, and almost cut him off.

“…I thought we would have our son with us…”

Loki’s eyes closed.

“He could have grown up here,” Thor said, his voice breaking on sobs. “We could have taught him about Earth, about Asgard, and about Jotunheim. He could have been a child of three worlds.”

Loki could feel his own agony creeping up on him. He understood now, why Thor had kept deflecting his own grief when they were on their way to Nidavellir. It was much less painful than giving into it.

But there were no more axes to forge, no more battle to be fought to direct their pain outward. Now they would drown in it.

Thor’s hand tightened around Loki’s. Loki looked at him, at those guilty, heartbroken blue-and-brown eyes.

“I understand now,” Thor said, “why you didn’t want to look at him before he was born. It…it was so horrible to see…”

Loki choked on his first sob.

“He was so small-”

Loki crumpled under the weight of that image. He sagged forward till his face was on Thor’s thigh, shuddering out his mounting sobs.

Thor’s hand settled in his hair. “I wanted to protect you both,” Thor cried.

“And I wanted to protect you,” Loki sobbed. “You told me to trade the Tesseract for my own life, but I couldn’t- I couldn’t watch you die like that. I’ve never lost you, I’m not strong enough, I can’t-”

Thor reached to his face then, lifting his head up to look at him again. “You’ve never lost me,” Thor whispered. “Never.”

Loki sobbed again. He climbed into Thor’s lap in order to hold onto him, squeezing his breath away. Thor held him just as tightly.

For the rest of the night he cried with Thor, grieving their children, their home, and the future that had been ripped away. It kept hitting Loki how many traumatic events had happened to them both in the last seven years. Not just his own losses, but Thor’s as well.

That was why Loki had come to Thor’s bedroom tonight. The world had tried to break them apart for years now. And each time, they kept coming back together. Thor kept choosing Loki over his own comfort, and more recently, Loki had started choosing Thor. So after everything they’d been through, after all they had lost, how did calling it quits now make any sort of sense?

Thor had asked what else he could lose. Loki had often wondered the same thing about himself in his moments of self-pity. But the answer was always clear, even if they wouldn’t admit it.

But they wouldn’t lose each other now. Not when they were all they had left.

Chapter Text

The coming weeks were a blur. From the moment Loki had awoken in Thor’s arms the morning after the Decimation, they were working with the Avengers at their compound to undo that terrible day.

They found new allies. A man with access to spacetime travel (which the humans called ‘the quantum realm’). A woman from Earth who had been infused with cosmic power from fighting in the Kree-Skrull wars. Tony Stark flew in late to the party from space with Thanos’s blue-skinned daughter, Nebula.

As much as Loki didn’t care for the humans, he had to admit they were quite resourceful. Not to mention brave, as they never once hesitated to make their sacrifices when they needed to. Then again, half the universe was at stake.

He and Thor, however, made a promise to each other before they set out, regarding specific kinds of sacrifice. “No more dying in my arms, Brother,” Thor said.

“Then no more suicide missions for you,” Loki replied. “Not without including me, that is.”

They held eye contact. They knew their words were anything but a joke. They would either survive this together, or they would die together.

Thor’s hand covered Loki’s on top of the table. It prompted a range of reactions from the others, from uncomfortable squirming from Stark and Rhodes, to merely averted eyes from Romanoff. Agent Barton - still unforgiving of his mind-controlled stint at Loki’s hands, and thus less than happy with Thor for ‘shacking up’ with Loki - left the room. Most of the others followed him.

Rogers, Banner, and Rocket, however, stayed behind. Rogers gave them an apologetic grin. “I would say give them time, but-”

“We don’t have time,” Thor said quietly. “Besides, that’s assuming I care what others think about this.” Loki didn’t bother covering up his grin at those words.

“So,” said Rocket, “if you two are all finished getting your incest on, are we all ready to head out?”

Everyone stood. Thor and Loki picked up Storm and Breaker, respectively. Loki had given up trying to change the names. They had stuck by now. Storm and Breaker it was.

They stepped outside. With one last look at each other, they called down the Bifrost, and hurtled themselves to their first destination.

xxx

Loki knew there would be a cost to undoing the Decimation. He knew the humans were prepared to sacrifice themselves. But he hadn’t counted on them actually following through with it.

Thor mourned them. Loki wasn’t sure if he did or not. He didn’t examine his feelings on it for too long.

The point was, Thanos was dead. Nebula had avenged her own suffering at his hands, and had cut his head clean off. Loki regretted not being involved in the deed. But as they prepared to part from one another, she stopped him.

“One moment,” she said in her mechanized voice. Then she tilted her head parallel to the ground, and started hitting the side of her skull.

Loki just stood there watching the display, growing more and more confused, until something dropped out of Nebula’s ear into her waiting palm. A computer chip.

“Here,” she said, holding it out to him. “I made a few copies of the recording, just in case. Figured you and your brother would want it.”

Loki took it. He had a feeling he knew which decapitation was recorded on it. “Thank you.”

They just stood there awkwardly for a few seconds. Loki hadn’t really spoken to her about her role in his torture, and she hadn’t spoken about specifics of what Thanos had done to her. Intellectually, they knew it was all Thanos’s fault, not theirs. But it was still unsaid between them.

Loki broke the silence. “Are you headed to Vormir, for your sister?”

She nodded. “I owe her a debt. If everyone in the Soul Stone was released, that’s where she’ll be. And you?”

Loki turned to Thor. He knew where his brother wanted to go. But Thor just looked expectantly back at him, waiting for his answer.

“We’ll go back to Earth,” Loki said. Thor grinned. “I think the Kingdom of Norway owes us a debt.”

He was sure Nebula knew nothing of their mythological impact on a few countries of Earth, and thus had no idea what he meant. But she didn’t ask. “Good luck,” was all she said. And she went back to her ship.

Loki turned back to Thor and his beautiful grin. “You’re sure?” Thor asked.

“I mean, we’ll have to find some building materials from other planets,” Loki said, “because I’m not planning on living in a wooden hut for the rest of my life.”

Thor chuckled. “Fair enough.”

And they opened the Bifrost again, to present Oslo’s government with their request.