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we can't go back to what we used to be

Chapter Text

"Almighty Thanos, I... Loki... Prince of Asgard... Odinson... The rightful King of Jotunheim... God of Mischief... do hereby pledge to you, my undying fidelity."

Loki stabbed upwards, and Thor held his breath.

But his knife never found its way into Thanos's throat.

Blue light shrouded him from his blade down to his arm, and no matter how much force and willpower Loki put into it, his knife never found its target.

Thanos smirked. "You got gall, I'm impressed."

"Maw," he said, and strips of iron bound Loki tightly.

Forced to his knees in front of Thanos, Loki looked up spitefully at him.

Thanos stepped forward towards him. "I thought I had been mistaken in seeing potential in you when you lost to those mortals," he smirked, "but I'm never wrong am I?"

He lifted the gauntlet, and the ship erupted in purple flames.

Thanos, the Black Order and Loki disappeared in a bout of blue.

Thor blacked out as the ship exploded around him.

 


 

"Thank you for your kind hospitality," Thor lifted his bowl of soup in point, "but I have to leave immediately. If you could so kindly provide me with a pod-"

"Woah woah woah, leave?" Peter said. "You literally just survived a mass murder."

Thor flinched. He does not want to think about it, of how his people had died, how Heimdall had died.

Loki is still out there somewhere, he reminded himself, and that thought alone brought along a flare of hope.

When he got Loki back things would be alright, he told himself reassuringly. And then he would reconcile with what had happened. But not now, not when Loki needed him.

Peter rocked back on his heels, realizing he has not asked the most important question. "Who did it by the way?"

"Thanos."

"Thanos?!"  Peter spluttered.

"You know of him? Excellent, if you can point me in the right direction-"

"You won't stand a chance against Thanos." Gamora said calmly.

"He took my brother, I have to get him back."

"Thor, it's madness." Gamora said. "If he has any of the infinity stones on hand-"

"He already has two."

The ship went silent.

"Let me tell you about Thanos and what he plans to do with the stones before you decide to go after him." Gamora said quietly.

 

 

-

 

 

"....So we need to stop Thanos. Which means we have to find out where he is going next."

"Knowhere." Thor replied immediately. "Because for years, the Reality Stone has been safely stored, there with a man we call the Collector."

"If it's with the Collector, then it's not safe. Only an idiot would give that man a stone." Peter scoffed.

"Or a genius." Thor quipped back.

He stopped in his tracks. It had not been Father who had placed it there after the battle with Malekith like he thought after all.

His chest ached, Loki had been trying to stop Thanos from getting the stones for years. And what had Thor done? Nothing.

Not only that, he had called Loki the worst brother for taking the Tesseract when leaving it in the destruction of Asgard with no one to protect it would have been a guaranteed win for Thanos.

But the truth was, at that moment of time he had been more angry that Loki had not told him about it. They could have built their defenses better, be prepared for Thanos somehow, and maybe, maybe the remaining Asgardians would have survived.

The train of thought was irrational, Thor knew now, to even defend themselves against Thanos with nothing but the Grandmaster's entertainment vessel filled with refugees that had never fought once in their entire lives. And Loki knew they would not stand a chance.

And the first thing Thor had done when he knew was to criticize him, even though Loki had changed so much for the better.

It also meant that Loki had been prepared to face Thanos alone, even though he knew how powerful he was firsthand. And he never told Thor, never asked for his help against such a formidable foe, taking the burden all for himself, was he planning to sacrifice himself, leave Thor all alone  again-

Tears pricked his eyes. He prayed to the Norns that Loki is still alive, that Thor could get to him on time. And when Thor finally got him back, he would make it all up to him.

He was the only thing Thor had left after all.

"Are you alright?" Peter said. "Getting a little..." he gestured over his own face, "misty there."

Thor mustered a smile. "I'm alright. I was just thinking about Loki." He added on hastily in explanation, "my brother."

"Loki's your brother?" Gamora said in surprise.

"You know Loki?" Thor asked.

"I...." she paused, clenching her jaw. "Don't...don't attack me for what I'm going to say, alright?" She stepped back, creating distance between them as she moved towards the far end of the ship. "Do I have your word?"

Thor frowned in confusion. "Yes, you have my word."

Gamora exhaled slowly. "It was a few years back. Loki seemed to have fallen out of the sky when he landed in Sanctuary, Thanos's domain. Thanos was curious, and he...he thought Loki could be useful." She closed her eyes momentarily, "and he ordered me to torture him."

Thor saw red.

He only came to himself when he realized that Peter and Drax had been trying to stop his advance, but instead were being pushed backwards towards Gamora.

Thor stopped, stumbling backwards, his fists shaking as he tried to restrain himself.

"Learn to calm down big guy! Sheesh!" The talking rabbit said.

Mantis hovered near Thor at a safe distance. "Do you need me to..."

Peter shook his head at her.

Turning back to Thor, he said sadly, "Gamora had no choice."

"It does not excuse her actions!" Thor roared.

"No it does not," Gamora agreed firmly, her body still positioned for a fight.

"What else," he gritted out. "What else was done to him?!"

Loki had only told Banner and him that Thanos had sent him to Earth, suggesting the notion that Thanos had only been an ally in Loki's invasion, not that he had been  tortured into submission.

He thought back on Loki's invasion, how confused Thor had been then that Loki, who played harmless tricks in jest in his free time, would have wanted to conquer Midgard.

Father had explained Loki's drastic difference away with how the Void had changed him, that Loki was not the brother Thor knew anymore, and he had accepted it easily.

Why had Loki not said anything about it? Thor could feel his anger bubbling up again.

Loki had so many chances to do so. If he could not have done it on Midgard, he could have done so when facing Father, or even when Thor broke him out of his cell to fight Malekith.  Hel,  even on Sakaar.

But would Thor have believed him? When he had so easily accepted what Father said?

Would Father? Who had said Loki was no more the brother he knew?

"You should know that when we fought each other in the past, I did so with the glimmer of hope that my brother was still in there somewhere. That hope no longer exists to protect you. You betray me and I will kill you."

Thor felt like his heart was ripped open, and he deserved it. If only he had attempted to figure out why Loki had turned to evil all of a sudden, cared more, listened to him more, had more faith in him, maybe he would not have been kidnapped by Thanos now.

He thought he had changed for the better after his exile to Midgard, and maybe he did, but he certainly did not change the way he had treated his brother.

Gamora nudged Peter and Drax aside gently, and they stepped away warily, staring closely at Thor still in case he tried to attack her again.

"I know saying sorry would not make up for all the things I have done." She shook her head. "But for whatever it's worth, I am sorry Thor."

She curled her arms around herself, shame and remorse evident on her face, and that took out a little of Thor's anger.

Thor nodded stiffly, "I have given my word not to harm you, and I will not break my oath. That does not mean I forgive your actions."

Gamora nodded in understanding.

"I was not the only one," she continued. "There were many, even Thanos himself. He had scoured through Loki's mind..." Thor flinched back, "and knew that the Bifrost was broken, and that Loki knew secret pathways into Asgard from Earth."

"So he planned for Loki to conquer Earth and obtain the space stone, and use it to invade Asgard as well. It was the perfect time when Asgard was crippled without the Bifrost."

"In the case Loki thought he was going to lose, he was instructed to let Thanos's servant, the Other know, and he would enter Earth and invade Asgard first using one of the pathways and after taking over Asgard, take over Earth again from there. But thankfully none of that happened."

She looked up at Thor, "Your brother was very strong. Trust me, few could have resisted Thanos's torture for so long. He had to use the mind stone on Loki multiple times before he would even listen to him. I suspect he had broken away from the influence of the mind stone again when he was on Earth, and lost intentionally without contacting the Other."

She shivered, "If it wasn't for Loki, Thanos would have won by now."

"But if he took Loki back, it means he has found a use for him, so you don't have to worry about Thanos killing him. But if I was you," she looked Thor in the eye, "I would have preferred if he was already dead."

"....... Alright ," Peter said, clapping his hands together and breaking the silence.

"Very dark and dramatic history there," he pointed between Thor and Gamora. Gamora glared at him, and he looked away quickly. "Glad it's all settled-"

Drax frowned, "It is bright here."

"-What are we going to do now?" Peter looked at everyone except Drax.

"You guys head to Knowhere and prevent Thanos from getting the reality stone." Thor said, moving towards their pod. "I'll go to Nidavellir to get a weapon that can kill Thanos." 

He clenched his fist. "He will pay for what he has done."

 


 

Eitri tells Thor that Stormbreaker is "a king's weapon, meant to be the greatest in Asgard" and "could even summon the Bifrost", the kind of weapon that can only be afforded by the King of Asgard.

But Father had always said that Mjolnir's power had no equal, and the only other person who has acted as the Allfather was...

Thor had to excuse himself. He found a dark corner among the debris and let himself cry.

 


 

Spread eagle on a metal table, Loki's arms and legs were bound tightly by thick metal cuffs that damped his seidr. Stripped of his suit, he lay naked against the cool surface.

Loki was not new to torture, especially the Thanos kind. This was one of Thanos's tactics, to utilize humiliation to show his dominance and the lack of power his prisoner had in order to break his will.

And the torture that Thanos was about to subject him to was one that was more painful without any layer of clothing to protect him.

He clenched his jaw tight, determined not to show show any signs of defeat. Not to Thanos, never again.

Footsteps clanged heavily against the metal grail floor.

Loki did not bother to look up. "Came to do it yourself? I'm honored." he said.

"Still masking false bravado?" Thanos smirked, standing next to the table. "No matter, it will be gone in time."

"I know all your tricks now." Loki smirked back at him. "You won't win."

"This time would be different." He leaned forward to whisper into Loki's ear. "You forgot I have seen everything there is in your mind, your weaknesses, your fears..."

Loki kept his gaze steady. "You don't even have the mind stone, you can't do anything to me."

"You're strong, I admit as much." Thanos pulled back. "A fighter, like all of my children. And that's why I have not killed you yet."

Loki went cold. He barked out a strained laugh. "Don't tell me you actually mean-"

"When you landed in Sanctuary it was fate." Thanos flicked a switch on, " Destiny."   

The table hummed to life and it begin to vibrate under Loki.

"You're mad," Loki hissed, "As if I will ever serve you."

The table was getting hotter, and Loki shifted uncomfortably.

"You forget you did, once. And you won't just serve me once I'm done with you. No," Thanos grabbed his chin, a grin on his face. "You would be  happy  to serve."

Loki spat in his face. "Never."

Thanos slammed his head back against the table, and Loki's vision went black for a moment, before the burning heat against his back brought him back to consciousness.

"I wonder." Loki lurched up violently as he tried to reduce skin contact with the scorching heat of the table.

"How long will it take." He was on fire, but he will not scream, he will not give Thanos the pleasure-

"For you to see me." He convulsed against the table. He could smell his skin burning and he imagined them burning off like flakes again.

"As your father?" He cannot think, cannot breathe, the fire, the pain. He hears himself scream.

Chapter Text

Steve gazed steadily at the surge of creatures bounding towards the barrier.

And then all of them stopped simultaneously in front of it, as if waiting for something to happen.

"What the hell?" Bucky said.

A figure walked towards the barrier from the ship, seemingly walking on thin air.

Steve squinted, the figure becoming clearer as it came closer towards them.

"Guys," Steve said over the comm. "That's Loki."

"Wait Loki? The guy who invaded New York?" Sam asked.

Natasha cursed. "He works for Thanos?"

"Loki was actually sent by Thanos to invade New York." Bruce said, sounding apologetic. "Sorry, I didn't mention it because I thought Thanos killed him."

"Killed? So who's side is he on now?" Steve demanded.

Loki placed both hands on the barrier, levitating above the creatures below him. And in a burst of light, the barrier disappeared.

"And there's your answer." Sam said.

Loki turned his head, and noticing Steve staring at him he smirked. What a bastard, he thought.

The creatures rushed forward with a bloodcurdling scream.

"Wakanda forever!" T'Challa roared.

Everyone charged.

Steve blocked the claws of the creature leaping up at him. Slamming it against the dirt ground, he used his shield to smash its skull in.

And just as he got back up on his feet, a wave of energy threw him back into the dirt.

Steve looked up.

Loki was levitating in the air above the battle. He gestured his arms in opposite directions, and the Wakandian soldiers below were thrown towards the edge of the battle, leaving the clearing below him empty.

Ironically, Steve thought it looked like Moses parting the Red Sea. But Loki was no prophet. Far from it.

He gritted his teeth, they were going to lose at this rate.

"Somebody bring Loki down!" he shouted into his comm.

"On it!" Rhodey said, sending down a barrage of missiles.

Loki flicked a hand casually, and the missiles turned back towards him. Rhodey cursed, darting between his own missiles.

Sam swooped in after him, firing and destroying Rhodey's missiles before shooting in rapid succession at Loki.

Loki threw up a forcefield, and the bullets stopped mid-flight, falling to the ground uselessly.

Before Sam could react, Loki threw knives in between the grooves of his wings. They sputtered and he started to fall towards the ground just as Rhodey caught him in his arms.

"I'm down. My wings got busted." Sam said. "How did you guys beat him before again?"

"He wasn't this strong the last time we fought him," Natasha grunted. "Cap, what do we do?"

"We distract him as much as we can," Steve said grimly. "T'Challa, we need whatever weapons you can spare aimed at him. Rhodey you too."

He paused. "Let's hope that would be enough."

 


 

Thor landed in the middle of the battle in Midgard. He had taken a trip to Knowhere first, and seeing the place in ruins, he left with a heavy heart, hoping that the crew that had saved him earlier had survived.

And if two of the stones were on Midgard, there was a high chance Thanos would be here as well, and in extension Loki.

"Bring me Thanos!' He roared.

He threw out Stormbreaker, killing the creatures surrounding him in one go.

A ball of green energy raced towards him, and Thor quickly dodged out of the way. It zipped past him, exploding dirt when it hit the ground.

Thor's eyes widened. He looked up.

Loki was standing above him upon the air.

"Loki!" He laughed, giddy with relief.

"You're alright." He stumbled forward towards him, all the tension from the past few days bleeding out of him. " Norns Loki, I feared Thanos had-"

Loki threw another blast of seidr at him, and Thor barely parried it away with Stormbreaker.

"Loki, what are you doing?!" He scrambled up. "It's me, Thor!"

Loki hissed. "I know very well who you are."

He disappeared from sight, and Thor quickly spun around, holding out Stormbreaker just as Loki's knife clashed against it.

On a closer look at Loki, Thor could see a few bruises and slights burns on his face, all already fading from view.

He should be relieved that Thanos had not harm him gravely, yet he only felt quiet unease settle in his stomach.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

Loki drew back, grinning manically. "Why the sudden curiosity? Is the mighty Thor upset that I might be able to stand my ground against him?"

Thor flinched, recalling how Loki had called him that as well when they fought in the Observatory years ago.

"Loki, this is not you." Thor said quickly. "Thanos did something-"

Loki laughed mirthlessly, "My father only made me better."

Thor went cold.

"Thanos is not your father," he punctuated every word. "Our father was Odin Borson, of Asgard. Do you not remember?"

Loki circled around him, his eyes dark and brooding, a flashback to the Loki during his invasion of Midgard, and so entirely different from the brother that had stood by his side on the Statesman.

He felt his heart stutter. How much more must Thanos take from him?

"How could I ever forget how that old man played me like a fool?" Loki said.

"He loved you Loki!" Thor screamed. "He said it right before he-" Thor's breath hitched, "before he died, did you remember none of that?"

"One line and somehow," Loki swept out an arm, "it should make up for the past ten centuries, is that right Thor?" He sneered.

"Whatever imagined slights you think Father had done upon you, it does not give you reason to fight on Thanos's side!"

Loki roared. He sent his knives flying at Thor. Powered by his seidr, they left green trails behind them as they flew towards him with frightening speed.

Thor deflected them away rapidly with his axe.

"I will not fight you brother." Thor said in anguish. "Never again."

"I am not your brother!" Loki screamed. Numerous copies of Loki surrounded him, and they dashed towards him at the same time.

Swinging Stormbreaker, Thor lifted into the sky. Every copy of Loki vanished as they collided below him but the real Loki was nowhere in sight.  

Thor frowned in confusion just as something collided at him at full force, smashing him against the ground.

Thor groaned, pain flaring up in his back. Swiftly, he rolled away right as a blade struck the ground where he was at.

Loki snarled. Undeterred, he lunged forward to stab Thor again, and Thor rolled to a standing position.

"Brother, you have to fight it!" Thor pleaded.

"Oh Thor," he shook his head with mock pity, "you never change do you? Always a sentimental fool. But," he lifted his knives up, "no more games. I will-", Loki jerked his neck to the side, his eyes widening. He vanished from view.

All of a sudden, a huge shadow loomed over Thor.

He looked up.

Loki was lifting one of the gigantic wheels that were racing along the field, its gears still clinking as it sought ground.

It stopped in the air, levitating right above Thor.

"Loki," Thor shouted above the clamor of the battle, "do not do this!"

It fell.

Thor lifted Stormbreaker, bracing his body against the onslaught. His arms shook from the exertion as Stormbreaker cut it cleanly in half.

He stumbled away, panting heavily. He looked up and around him. Loki was nowhere in sight.

Thor swore. Using Stormbreaker, he flew to the air to scan the horizon.

He spotted Thanos first, walking steadily towards Wanda and Vision across the forest ground. And Loki, by his side, sweeping everyone out of the way with his seidr.

Fury surged up in him. It was Thanos who did this, who once again forced Loki to do evil against his will, and if he killed Thanos...

He roared, swinging Stormbreaker downwards with all his force-

And it stuck itself into Thanos's throat.

"This is for Loki," Thor snarled at him.

Thanos gurgled, stumbling backwards as purple blood sprayed from the gash in his neck. With a heavy thump, he fell backwards onto the grass.

"NO!" Loki screamed, rushing forward towards Thanos.

Thanos lifted a hand shakily, and Loki grabbed onto it. "My son..." he said weakly.

"Father," Loki sobbed, his face pressed to Thanos's shoulder.

No one moved.

Thor looked around the clearing. Everyone who had fought Thanos earlier were gathering warily around them.

Catching Steve's eye, Thor shook his head slowly at him.

Steve nodded, whispering something into the machinery at his ear. He could only hope that they would trust him enough with his brother and not to attack Loki right away. It would not bid well for any of them, including Thor himself.

When Thanos finally went still, Loki had not moved from his position by his side.

He took a cautious step towards Loki, "It's alright," he said gently. "I killed him Loki. You're finally free from that monster ."

Loki jerked his head up to look at Thor, his face a mixture of anger and resentment. "You did this," he snarled.

Thor took a step back."Loki..." he said hesitantly.

A huge blast of seidr hit Thor square in the chest and he was thrown onto his back.

He groaned in pain, but before he could get up Loki landed above him.

"Must you rip away everything that is good in my life?" Loki screamed, tears streaming down his face.

"And now." He conjured a knife in his hand, "you will pay."

He brought it downwards, and Thor squeezed his eyes shut.

But the blow never came.

Loki let out a cry. Two hands were pressed tight to his temples, and Loki spasmed, falling unconscious at his feet.

Wanda stared unbelieving at Loki as if she could not quite believe what she had done.

"I just put him to sleep. I didn't kill him." She said quickly to Thor.

"I..I thank you Wanda."

Thor got up shakily.

He looked at Loki. His hair had fallen across his face, and Thor brushed them away gently, curling them behind his ear.

He looked so innocent now, bared of the pain and hatred Loki had experienced in recent years. Thor wished he could lie to himself that this was the Loki before his failed coronation, a time where everything had been alright between them, a time that seemed a lifetime ago.

A time he would never get back.

His heart ached.

The rest of the warriors had started to inch closer towards them and Thor brandished Stormbreaker quickly.

"You will not harm my brother," He warned.

Some of them looked towards Steve, while a few others looked towards a man in a black suit.

Both leaders looked at each other.

The man in the black suit nodded, and Steve sighed.

He looked at Thor wearily, "Alright. Everyone stand down."

"Give me your word Steve."

"I give you my word that none of us will hurt Loki if he doesn't attack us first. But Thor," Steve looked at him, "you have a hell lot of explaining to do."