Loki’s nose curls with distaste as the smell of trash and body waste hits him as he materializes in what appears to be a filthy Midgardian alley. He sneers as he reaches out and finds that his magic hadn’t steered him wrong, that Thor is here. Even powerless Thor still succeeds in pulling him low. Walking deeper into the alley, careful not to touch anything, it takes Loki longer than he cares to admit to realize that the pile of rags curled up in the farthest corner is a person.
Crouching down slowly before it, Loki casts his magic out. Surely this can’t be—Loki freezes as though stricken, his hand outreached, as the bundle moves, sitting up, revealing all too blue familiar eyes in a face that he barely recognizes. Thor’s hair is knotted, lank, and greasy, dark with filth, his beard in a similar unkempt state, and his face is gaunt, startling thin. His lips are cracked and bloody, his nose crooked and both eyes are bloodshot and glassy.
It should bring him elation to see his brother in such a state. This is what he wanted, isn’t it? His mind goes strangely staticy, buzzing with it as he—a shockingly strong hand wraps tightly around his wrist as Thor’s desperate eyes focus on Loki, a painfully familiar smile stretching across his face.
It takes Loki a painfully long moment to realize that there are no recognition in those eyes, that Thor has no idea who—
“I’ll blow you for a twenty.”
Loki’s world comes to an abrupt halt, his brain stumbling over the words, what’s being offered. And why shouldn’t he take Thor up on his offer, a part of him whispers. The feel of hands between his legs, reaching for the fastenings of his pants, the sight of Thor’s arms, so very thin, break the siren’s call, and before he realizes what he’s doing, he teleports away, staggering before he collapses to his knees and fights the urge to be sick, his stomach roiling.
Surely Odin can’t be unaware. Surely Heimdall has seen and told him, yet they’ve done nothing, allowed Thor to slip into the horrible state, offering himself like a whore. It’s Loki’s actions that brought Thor to this though, a traitorous part of Loki points out. But this isn’t what he’d wanted. He’d only meant to teach him a lesson, to show him that he wasn’t ready for the crown, that his cocky impulsiveness and temper would only ruin him.
And maybe they had. Loki can picture it now, Thor with no memories, no support, but always resourceful, trying to find a job, never knowing when to back down, starting fights, whether intentionally or accidentally. Loki is sure that it wouldn’t have taken long for Thor to anger the wrong people. It’s only now that Loki remembers that beneath the scent of filth, Thor had smelt like a brewery. Thor had always liked his drink, and now with a Midgardian constitution, he’d be even less able to hold his liquor or his temper. And desperate for money, Thor had turned towards the oldest profession. He’d always enjoyed sex, so it took no stretch of the imagination to believe.
Maybe Thor had made good money at first, but Loki can imagine that as he fell into the bottle as his state worsened that the money began to dry up. Loki shouts, punching the wall, shouting again as he feels bones snap. Odin should have seen this, should have stopped this. Mother should have—a hand on his shoulder, causes Loki to spin, his angry snarl dying as he comes face to face with Frigga.
“How could you—” Loki breaks off with a yelp as her hands close over his broken one, glowing with magic, the warmth of it easing his pain as his bones realign, his flesh mends. The familiar pulse of her power should have calmed him, but instead it brings with it the mantra of betrayer.
A long year he’d been trapped in the walls of this palace, by the magic of not only Odin but also Frigga. “You’ll come to understand in time,” she’d said, her eyes glassy with tears when she’d woven her magic with Odin’s, wrapping around his neck like a collar, like a dog chained to its master’s beck and call.
For a year he played the dutiful son beneath Odin’s mistrustful gaze each day while he ignored the sadness beneath Mother’s smiles as they wove together in the evenings, his tapestries more of a disaster than normal. And each night he’d delve into their vast library seeking an escape. It was only a month ago that he’d found the book he needed, lying so innocuously on the table as though placed there just for him. And maybe it had been.
“How can you stand by and do nothing? Or did you enjoy watching your precious son whore himself—” Loki’s head turns to the side with the force of his mother’s slap, shocked more by the action than by the pain. She’d never raised a hand to him before. Betrayer he named her as he turned to look upon her again, shocked by the mask of anguish and anger, the tears that stream down her face.
“Do not speak of that which you do not understand. I have examined every thread, followed every branch and fork for millennia seeking another route, another way, and there are none. If I had gone to your brother, if I had let you go sooner, if I had told you this before now, it would have meant ruin for us all. Not just Asgard or the Nine Realms, but the entirety of our universe.” She cups his reddened cheek, still stinging from the blow, and warmth fills him again, as what she’s saying sinks in, the implication of what she’d seen in her weaving.
Frigga’s hand covers his mouth. “Shh, I won’t ask for your forgiveness. I know I don’t deserve it, I only hope that someday you’ll come to understand that everything I did was for you and Thor. A mother wants nothing more than to see her children happy.” She sniffs and gives him a watery smile. “Go. Your brother is waiting for you,” she says before she places a kiss on his cheek and turns, taking her leave of him.
Loki stares at the corner she disappears behind for a long time, his mind whirling as Frigga’s words continue to echo through his brain. Her foresight is unparalleled, yet Loki knows that she doesn’t interfere unless she must. He knows that she would not even stand in the way of Ragnarok, so for her to do this, Loki cannot even begin to imagine what she’s seen. But now it’s important that he knows the reason of her betrayal. Has she been playing the long game with him all along?
It doesn’t matter right now though. She’d certainly been counting on a lot of things; Loki’s drive for knowledge, his perseverance and tenacity, and—with a snarl, he teleports back to the alley he’d left Thor in, cursing as he’s immediately soaked to the bone by a heavy freezing rain—his love for his fool of a brother outweighing his jealousy and hate.
Thor is still there, curled in the corner, looking impossibly small as he shivers violently, each breath rattling in his chest. Loki deadens his sense of smell as he lifts Thor, shocked by how light he his, feeling each of his ribs beneath his fingers as he holds him tightly against his chest. What future did their mother see that made this right?
It’s easy to find an empty apartment high up in one of the towers overlooking the city. With a wave of his hand, the tub fills with steaming water. Loki wastes no time in stripping the rags masquerading as clothing off Thor’s shivering form, not allowing himself to look away from Thor’s emaciated frame, the scars and wounds that litter his body. He did this, caused this, pushed Thor so Father and Mother would see, but he’d never meant for it to go this far, never meant—a startling heat in his pocket drawls Loki from his spiraling thoughts. Reaching in, it takes Loki a moment to realize what he’s looking at, that Mother must have slipped it into his pocket, knowing he’d need it, and he laughs an ugly sound as he realizes what it is.
It’s the tiniest piece of a Golden Apple, Asgard’s most coveted commodity, barely the size of his fingernail. He’d not had one since he’d reached maturity. He pops it in his mouth, and chews the tough flesh as he lowers Thor into the hot water. The taste is nearly ambrosia, and it takes all of Loki’s self-control to not swallow it for himself. Cold as Thor is, the temperature of the water is enough to rouse him slightly, fighting against Loki’s hold, but it’s easily enough to slip into the huge tub beside him, magicking his clothes away as he holds his brother securely, preventing him from sinking beneath the water.
Thor’s eyes are dazed and confused, barely able to focus on Loki when Loki presses his mouth against Thor’s, feeding him the apple mush. As soon as it hits his tastes buds, Thor surges against him, fingers gripping Loki’s arms tightly as his tongue pushes into Loki’s mouth, seeking out more of it.
And just as suddenly Thor goes limp in Loki’s hold, his eyes falling shut once more. But already Loki can see the effect of the apple on him, the way that the rattle of his chest ceases, the way the pallor of his skin takes on a more healthy color, his wounds scarring over. Loki desperately wishes for more though, wishes to see his brother healthy and whole. Easing himself behind Thor, Loki begins to wash him, scrubbing Thor’s body free of dirt and grime and things that he’d prefer not to consider until he all but glows pink. He changes the water twice before he moves onto Thor’s beard and hair.
Loki doesn’t even consider the fact that it would be a simple enough task to fix both with his magic, and he sinks his fingers into Thor’s wild mane, and begins to work through the knots. Loki isn’t sure how much time passes really, unconsciously changing the water each time it grows dirty and reheating it as needed.
Thor’s hair and beard are still a bit wild when he finishes, but Loki will trim it later. Exhaustion hits him suddenly, and he realizes that the sun had risen at some point, well past dawn now. They’re both shriveled and pruney when Loki lifts Thor out of the tub, and dries them before he finally tucks them both into the massive bed, wrapping himself around Thor as though he’ll disappear at any moment.
Loki awakes to pleasure, something warm and wet around his cock, and he moans as he weaves his fingers through long hair, pressing himself deeper into the skilled mouth as his balls draw up. Eyes snapping open, Loki comes to the sight of his brother’s mouth wrapped around him, his throat massaging him as he drains himself down Thor’s throat.
Reaching down, Loki hauls a smug Thor up, his eyes surprisingly lucid. “You fool. Why would you—”
“I know you.”
Loki doesn’t know what to say except, “Yes.” The magic that his father had used to steal Thor’s memories is beyond him, and his research had found nothing relevant to the matter.
“I thought you were a dream when you disappeared.”
“Do you often dream of disappearing men?”
“Sometimes. And other times I wish for the power to make them disappear.”
Loki doesn’t wince, but it’s a near thing, his fingers tightening in Thor’s hair enough that he makes a protesting sound. “Sorry,” Loki murmurs as he forces himself to relax.
“You know me,” Thor says, his tone accusing. “I’d given up hope of finding my past, but you know me, don’t you?” Thor presses Loki down on his back again, looming over him, his eyes wide and wild.
Loki wonders what it says that he doesn’t even consider lying to him. “Your name is Thor, and you are my brother.”
“Thor,” Thor repeats with wonder, trying out the word before he laughs, an ugly sound. “I just sucked your cock.”
Loki hadn’t planned on doing this, but what’s done is done. He waves Thor’s concern away. “It’s far from the first time.”
Thor’s eyes go wide and he laughs again with startled amusement. “I don’t even know your name, but it feels like I’ve known you forever.”
“I am Loki. And we were once inseparable.”
“Loki,” Thor repeats before his brows furl in confusion. “Were? But no longer?”
“As youth we were rarely apart, but as we grew older our paths diverged. You chose physical pursuits while I preferred the academic. You’re the oldest, groomed to be king.”
Thor barks out a laugh. “King? Me? You must be joking.”
“I do not just jest. It is our father who sent you here, who stripped you of your powers and memories.”
Thor pulls away, shaking his head and rises to his feet unsteadily. “You’re lying. That’s not possible.”
An ugly smile crosses Loki’s face as he’s called a liar in this. “I may be called Silvertongue, but my words in this are true. We angered our father and he cast you out and chained me to his side. It was only last night that I managed to escape the spell he cast on me.”
Thor turns and sits heavily on the edge of the bed. “Your words speak of impossibilities, but I find myself believing you. Perhaps this is just a drunken dream.”
With a wave of Loki’s hand, the sheet rises, twisting into the familiar shape of Mjolnir and floating to land on Thor’s lap. Thor watches with wide-eyed wonder, and Loki gets a sudden thrill realizing just how much he can teach him, that everything will be new to him. The sudden urge to kiss him is too much for Loki to pass up, and he leans towards Thor, pressing his mouth against Thor’s.
Much like when Loki had fed him the apple, Thor surges against him, mouth hard and desperate against his own, and Loki returns it with equal fervor, not realizing just how much he missed this, missed his brother. In truth, they hadn’t done this very often, but Loki had never gone more than a handful of days without seeing or speaking to his brother. The past year had been a hell the likes of which he’d never thought possible
This Thor might not have his Thor’s memories, his body too thin, but he’s still Loki’s brother, and Loki will take him however he can get him. They’ll figure out how to return his memories, and make new ones together, and figure out how to save this universe from whatever horror their mother had seen. Together.