Chapter 1: Thor
Six months after his arrival on Earth, Loki sat in a deck-chair on the sand, sunglasses shading his eyes from the bright sunlight. He was considerably more tanned than he had been six months earlier – he’d finally begun adjusting to the warmer temperature – and dressed in a pair of shorts and a brightly-coloured Hawaiian shirt that Lilo had picked out for him. It was rather garish, and not something that Loki would have picked out for himself, but rather than hurt Lilo’s feelings Loki had resigned himself to being seen in it.
Sitting on a beach towel next to him, Stitch was wearing his own pair of sunglasses, enjoying the heat. The two of them watched lazily as Lilo ran around in the surf in her swimsuit.
Nani and David were both working today, but it was Loki’s day off, which meant that it was his responsibility to ensure that Lilo and Stitch didn’t get into too much trouble; Jumba and Pleakley did their best, but they just weren’t as good at babysitting as Loki was. Lilo had insisted that she wanted to go to the beach, and Stitch had felt the same, so Loki had agreed that a walk down to the beach was in order.
Stitch snickered gleefully as a large wave drenched Lilo. Loki leaned forward in his deck chair, concerned for Lilo’s welfare, but relaxed when she emerged from the water, spluttering but unharmed. She looked up, noticing Loki’s gaze, and smiled, waving at him.
Loki returned the smile, and waved back. Overall, Loki was enjoying a pleasant morning, which was no doubt why the fates chose that moment to interrupt the domestic idyll.
“Loki!” A voice bellowed from the near distance, and Loki’s heart almost stopped.
No… it can’t be…
With a mixture of anticipation and dread, Loki slowly turned his head, to see a familiar armoured figure bounding across the sand.
“Brother!” Thor roared, nothing but honest delight and joy on his features, and before Loki could react, he was being pulled up out of his deck chair and relentlessly hugged.
Loki stood stiff with shock, trying to pull his scattered wits together.
“Thor?” he asked faintly.
Thor moved back a little, his hands resting on Loki’s shoulders, and beamed at him.
“Loki! You are alive!”
“Of course I’m alive,” Loki retorted, his mouth running on autopilot, his mind still moving in stunned circles. “Thor–”
Thor pulled him back into another hug.
“We believed you dead,” Thor said into Loki’s neck. “Heimdall searched the realms after your fall, but did not find you until this morning. I came at once.”
Loki was momentarily lost for words in the face of the genuine emotion in Thor’s words.
“I… but what of the Bifrost?” he managed. “Surely…”
“It is still broken,” Thor confirmed, looking at Loki as though his eyes couldn’t get enough of the sight. “But Father knows of other methods of travel, and used one to send me here.” Thor smiled, a deep gladness in his expression. “It is good to see you alive and well, Loki.”
Loki took a step back, bumping into the deck chair, shaking off Thor’s hands.
“Thor, have you forgotten what I did, the last time we spoke?” Loki protested. “You act as though nothing has passed between us.”
A look of pain crossed Thor’s face.
“Your actions were misguided, but I know you meant no real harm,” he insisted, and Loki let out an incredulous laugh.
“Meant no real harm? Thor, I let Frost Giants into Asgard, I slew their king – I would have destroyed all of Jotunheim had you not stopped me–”
“But I did,” said Thor, grabbing hold of Loki’s shoulders again and giving him a gentle shake. “I know not what madness entered your head, but–”
“I’m Jotun,” Loki blurted. Just like that.
Thor’s brow furrowed in confusion.
“Odin found me, abandoned, as an infant, at the end of the war with Jotunheim,” the words tumbled from Loki’s lips, “and adopted me, to further his schemes. He dreamed of a puppet king on the Jotun throne, loyal to Asgard alone. I am not your brother, Thor. I am not even of Asgard. I am Jotun.”
To emphasise the truth of his words, uncaring of the human tourists all over the beach, Loki pushed Thor’s hands away and let himself shift into his true form, all blue patterned skin and red eyes.
Thor looked horrified and shaken.
“This – this is some trick–”
“No trick, Thor,” said Loki, the desire to laugh bubbling up in him. He gave way to it, his laughter bitter and a little desperate. “Behold, my true self.” He spread his arms in display, so that Thor could see him better.
“Since when are you blue?” a childish voice asked.
Loki and Thor both looked down, to see Lilo standing in her swimsuit, frowning up at him. She reached out a curious hand, as though to touch one of the swirls that decorated Loki’s skin, and Loki hastily reverted to his Asgardian form.
“I told you that this is not my true form,” he said, crouching down to better meet Lilo’s eyes. “When I am truly myself, I am blue. But you must not touch me when I look that way, because my skin will burn you, do you understand? Promise that you will not touch me when I am blue. Promise me, Lilo.”
“I promise,” Lilo agreed, still frowning. “Is that why you used to think you were a monster? Because you’re blue?”
Loki’s smile was pained.
“Yes.” He ruffled her hair. “But you and the others have convinced me that being monstrous is not in my nature, no matter what my parentage. As Professor Dumbledore says, it is our choices which show us for what we truly are.”
“Who is this Dumbledore?” Thor rumbled. His eyebrows were drawn together, but he looked thoughtful rather than angry. “He sounds wise.”
Thor’s words surprised a laugh from Loki, and he straightened up. Thor looked at him, his expression still shaken and uncertain, but free from the anger and disgust that Loki had expected.
“I did not know of your heritage, Loki. But you must know – this changes nothing. You are still my brother. Please. Come home with me.”
Loki felt warmth spread through him at Thor’s words, but he shook his head, smiling a little ruefully.
“No, Thor.” He held a hand up before Thor could protest. “Asgard is not longer my home. Earth is. But if you wish, I will introduce you to my friends.”
“Friends?” Thor repeated, and the surprise on his face was a little insulting.
“Yes, Thor, friends,” Loki replied, allowing irritation to enter his tone. “People who enjoy your company, whose company you enjoy also.”
“Brother, I apologise – I did not mean–”
“This is Lilo,” Loki interrupted, before Thor could put his foot in his mouth even further. “Her family has offered me their hospitality during my time on Earth. Lilo, this is my adopted brother, Thor.”
Lilo stared up at Thor, looking a little shy.
“Hi,” she said, offering a small wave. She tugged on Loki’s shorts, and Loki crouched down so that she could whisper in his ear:
“Is he a prince too?”
“He is,” Loki agreed solemnly. “What gave it away, the golden good looks, or the armour and cape emsemble?”
“Both.” Lilo stared up at Thor again. “You’re even taller than Loki, and he’s really tall.”
“I suppose he is,” said Thor. “But to me, he will always be my little brother.”
“He’s your big brother?” Lilo asked Loki. “Is he worse than Nani?”
“Much worse,” Loki agreed, enjoying the look on Thor’s face at the exchange. “He’s awfully bossy.”
“Bossy – I am not bossy–” Thor looked affronted.
There was the sound of someone clearing their throat. Everyone looked around to see Stitch still sitting on his beach towel, regarding them over the top of his sunglasses in a manner so reminiscent of Cobra Bubbles that Loki’s lips twitched as he repressed a laugh.
“And this is Stitch, Lilo’s closest companion,” Loki added, gesturing towards Stitch.
Stitch looked up at Thor, appearing unimpressed.
“Hi,” he said finally.
Thor looked disconcerted, but inclined his head politely.
“Greetings… Stitch,” he said, somewhat uncertainly.
“I’m happy here, in a way I never was in Asgard,” said Loki, and Thor looked back at him. “I have no intention of ever returning, not when I am accepted here for who I am.”
Thor’s expression showed only bewilderment, and Loki felt a little sorry for him. But only a little.
“So you will not come home,” said Thor.
“As ever, you have a keen grasp of the events around you,” Loki said sarcastically.
Instead of losing his temper as Loki was used to him doing, Thor only sighed.
“I do not understand,” he said honestly, “but if you are happy here, I shall not attempt to wrest you away from that happiness.”
“Thank you,” Loki said with dignity.
There was an awkward silence as the two of them looked at each other.
“You should hug now,” Lilo whispered loudly.
Thor broke into a laugh, bright and amused, but followed her advice, pulling Loki into yet another hug. This time Loki hugged back, and admitted, at least to himself, how much he had missed Thor.
“You must tell me of your time here,” Thor ordered comfortably, as they broke apart. “What have you been doing with yourself? Up to mischief, as usual?”
Loki was about to deny it, when a few choice incidents flashed through his mind. His lips twitched.
Suppressing a smile, Loki began to recount some of his experiences on Earth, while Lilo and Stitch chased each other into the water.
Chapter 2: Assemble!
Two days into Thor’s stay, a black car pulled up in front of the Pelekai residence.
Lilo, pressing her face against the glass window, broke into a smile and called out, “Mr Bubbles is here!” A moment later she frowned, and added, “And he brought some other guy. That’s a lot of leather.”
Nani and Loki exchanged raised eyebrows, and moved to peer out the front window. Sure enough, following behind Cobra was another black man, wearing an eyepatch, his long leather coat flapping in the breeze as he walked.
Nani opened the door before Cobra could knock.
“Hi, it’s good to see you,” she told the former-CIA-agent-turned-social-officer. “I wasn’t expecting you until Thursday. What’s going on? Is something wrong?”
“I’m afraid that would be my fault,” said the man behind him. He and Cobra looked quite alike, Loki observed. “Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD.”
“SHIELD? What’s SHIELD?” Nani asked in confusion, while Loki’s heart plummeted.
“Ah,” he said, watching Fury warily.
“Loki?” Nani looked at him. “You know what SHIELD is?”
“I believe it is a global organisation dedicated to the protection of the Earth,” Loki said carefully, never taking his eyes off Fury. “Including, if necessary, from extraterrestrial threats.”
“What?” Nani exclaimed suspiciously. “If you’re here about–”
“Nani, relax,” said Cobra. “It’s not what you think. You too, Loki. Mind if we come in so Nick here can explain?”
Both men waited patiently, so after a moment’s hesitation, Nani let them both inside. The small group walked into the living room, where Lilo and Stitch were poking each other and arguing. They stopped at the sight of Cobra and Nick Fury.
“Wow,” said Lilo, staring. “Are you guys twins?”
Nani snorted behind her hand, while Loki didn’t bother to hide his amused grin.
“Cousins,” Cobra said briefly, taking a seat on the couch. Fury sat down next to him.
“Cousins, right,” said Nani, raising an eyebrow. “You want to explain what he’s doing here?”
“First of all, I don’t suppose Thor’s around to be here for this discussion?” Fury asked.
“How did you know Thor was here?” he asked.
Fury met his gaze calmly.
“This residence has been under observation for some time,” said Fury. “Normally we’d be a bit more hands-on, given that there’s a bunch of aliens living here, but Cobra convinced me that things would go more smoothly if SHIELD kept their distance.”
‘Got that right,’ Stitch muttered in his native speech, eyeing Fury with mistrust and hostility.
“SHIELD has encountered Thor before,” Fury continued, “although he didn’t exactly stick around long enough to help with the paperwork. He was in New Mexico about six months ago, when the town of Puente Antiguo was attacked by alien weaponry.” He looked straight at Loki. “As I recall, you had a hand in that situation.”
Loki did his best not to shrink into his seat as everyone turned to stare at him. Stitch clapped and offered encouragement.
“Stitch, I don’t think that helps,” Lilo told him.
“Loki?” Nani asked, giving him a worried look. Loki took a deep breath, resisting the urge to bury his face in his hands.
“I was in a state of considerable mental agitation, at the time,” Loki said, choosing his words with care. “It is not an exaggeration to say that my decision-making process was… somewhat impaired.”
“So you launched an alien death machine on a small town?” Fury raised judgemental eyebrows.
“Yes,” Loki admitted. “It seemed rational at the time. I was quite mad, you understand. I assure you, I greatly regret my actions.”
“Uh-huh,” Fury said dubiously. He let the subject drop, however. “So where’s Thor?”
“Still upstairs, I presume,” said Loki.
“I’ll get him for you,” Lilo told Fury, and then bellowed at the top of her lungs, “THOR!”
Everyone in the room winced.
“Lilo, if Mr Fury wanted someone to simply yell at great volume for Thor, he could have done so himself,” Loki said testily, but was interrupted from an answering bellow from upstairs.
“AYE!” Thor’s voice called out. There were footsteps on the stairs, and a moment later Thor appeared.
He’d borrowed a pair of drawstring shorts from Loki, as well as the pink-and-purple Hawaiian shirt that Lilo had insisted that Loki buy. Loki hated it, and was quite glad to foist the thing off on Thor. Thor, for his part, seemed happy enough to wear the gaudy shirt. Loki had to admit, it looked a lot better on Thor than it did on him. Still, the overall effect was ridiculous.
“You called for me?” Thor asked Lilo with a smile, looking around the room curiously. “Who are these men?”
“My name’s Nick Fury,” he began. “I’m the Director of an organisation named SHIELD. You’ve met my agents before.”
“Indeed,” Thor agreed, never losing his good-natured smile, although Loki knew him well enough to see the sudden alertness in his eyes. “As I recall, SHIELD stole my companion’s research.”
“A misunderstanding,” said Fury smoothly, without breaking eye contact with Thor. “Dr Foster works for us now.”
“I see.” Thor took a seat opposite Fury. “Then there is no reason we cannot be friends.”
He smiled his most disarming smile, and Loki had to stifle a snort. Thor was capable of doing some very stupid things at times, but that didn’t meant that he was always an idiot. He was actually quite intelligent – when he bothered to use his brain, that was.
“I was hoping you’d feel that way,” said Fury, inclining his head. “The fact of the matter is, SHIELD needs your help.”
“Oh?” Thor’s tone was polite, but not particularly interested.
“Several hours ago, an object known as the Tesseract was stolen from SHIELD by a being calling himself Thrym,” said Fury grimly, and Loki sat bolt upright.
“Loki?” Thor asked, glancing at him.
“You had the Tesseract?” Loki exclaimed. He had read about the powerful item, back on Asgard, long before he fell from the Bifrost. “Do you have any notion how dangerous it is? You’re lucky you haven’t destroyed the planet by accident.”
Fury’s single eye regarded him unblinkingly.
“I take it you’re familiar with the Tesseract,” he said.
“Familiar enough,” said Loki. “It resided with Odin, once. Tell me more of this being who took it.”
“As I said, he called himself Thrym,” Fury replied. “About eight feet tall, blue, red eyes –”
“A Frost Giant,” Thor muttered darkly, then glanced apologetically at Loki. “Not that all Frost Giants are bad, of course.”
Loki almost rolled his eyes, but restrained himself.
“Yes, thank you, Thor, although I believe that we can safely assume that this particular Frost Giant has less-than-benign intentions, given his theft of the Tesseract,” Loki said, a little snidely. He glanced back at Fury. “But that’s not all, is it?”
“No,” Fury agreed. “This… Frost Giant… used some kind of magical spear to take control of several of my people. He still has them.”
“I think Lilo and I should probably leave you to finish this discussion alone,” said Nani, getting to her feet and taking Lilo’s hand. “Lilo–”
“But it’s just getting interesting!” Lilo protested, digging in her heels as she was dragged from the room. Stitch smiled menacingly in a way that made it clear that anyone trying to make him leave the room would very much regret it.
No one tried.
“I assume that you refer to some kind of mind control,” said Loki intently, and watched Fury nod. “Interesting.”
He’d read about objects of power that could do such things, of course, but had never actually encountered one.
“‘Interesting’ isn’t my word for it,” Fury said gruffly.
“Of course; my apologies,” Loki said smoothly. “But I must ask: how do you expect us to help?”
“We’re assembling a team of… special people to go after him and retrieve the Tesseract,” Fury explained. “I was hoping that the two of you would agree to be part of it.”
Loki hesitated, feeling torn. On the one hand, he felt very little desire to become involved, but on the other, an object as powerful as the Tesseract in the wrong hands meant trouble for all the Nine Realms, Earth included.
Loki sighed, and looked at his brother.
“As you are unfamiliar with the ways of the Jotun, I am willing to lend my expertise in capturing Thrym and reclaiming the Tesseract and your people. The risk of leaving Thrym to his own devices is too great. Thor?”
Thor looked a little surprised at Loki’s capitulation to Fury’s request, but nodded.
“Loki is right. The threat Thrym poses is too great,” he agreed. “I will also lend my aid.”
“In that case…” Fury began, getting to his feet, but Loki held up a hand.
“I assume that you wish us to leave immediately, yes?” he asked. “Then Thor and I must retrieve our armour, and I must say goodbye to my friends.”
“Of course,” said Fury.
“Loki going to stomp invader?” Stitch queried, peering up at Loki, his ears raised in interest.
“Quite possibly,” Loki confirmed, smiling faintly at Stitch’s phrasing.
“Stitch come stomp too,” Stitch decided.
“Excuse me?” Fury raised his eyebrows at Stitch, half taken-aback, half-challenging.
Stitch stared up at him.
“Stitch strong, and very good at fighting,” Stitch told him. “Clever, too.” His enormous eyes gazed at Fury without blinking.
“From what I read in your file, you also have an inclination towards causing chaos and stealing everyone’s left shoe,” responded Fury, his eyes never leaving Stitch’s.
Stitch gave a shrug.
“Stitch will be good. Mostly,” he added, with a grin.
“Come now,” Loki said, a smile tugging at his mouth. “You’ve already recruited the God of Mischief. Why not add a little more chaos to the mix?”
Cobra cleared his throat, and Fury glanced at him.
“Stitch could be an asset to your team,” he admitted grudgingly, “although controlling him is another matter altogether.”
Stitch agreed brightly in his native language.
Fury gave Stitch a long look, then glanced at Loki.
“He steps one toe out of line, and I’m holding you responsible,” Fury warned.
“Ah. Well.” Loki gave Fury a rueful grin. “Fair enough, I suppose.”
He exchanged a look with Stitch, whose own grin was devious.
“Loki and I will fetch our armour and say our goodbyes, and then we shall join you,” Thor told Fury, and he and Loki headed for the staircase, Stitch trailing after them on all fours.
Upstairs, Loki changed out of his current garments and into his armour. It felt very strange to be wearing it again, after so much time wearing Earth clothing.
“Do try not to get me into too much trouble,” Loki commented as he checked his reflection in the mirror, while Stitch climbed up his back and peered over his shoulder. In response Stitch merely hung off one of the horns on Loki’s helmet, cackling gleefully.
Loki wasn’t particularly reassured, but felt that this was the most positive response he was likely to receive. He rejoined the others downstairs.
Thor was once again clad in his gold armour and red cape, and he smiled at the sight of Loki in his own armour.
“You look like yourself again,” he commented. Loki bit back an acerbic comment.
“Are you really going away?” a forlorn voice asked, and Loki knelt down so that he was level with Lilo.
“Only for a little while, Lilo,” he said calmly. “Mr Fury needs my help with something important. I shouldn’t be gone more than a few days, at the most.”
Lilo looked at Stitch, riding on Loki’s shoulder. In a small voice she asked,
“Is Stitch going too?”
“Ih,” Stitch agreed. “But Stitch come back.”
“Promise?” Lilo asked, her expression vulnerable.
“Lilo ohana,” Stitch assured her. “Ohana means–”
“Nobody is ever left behind, or forgotten,” Lilo chorused with Stitch. She moved forward to hug both Loki and Stitch, and Loki wrapped his arms around her.
“We’ll be back, Lilo,” he told her. “That’s a promise.”