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believe in second chances

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The stash of TemPads and old TVA files that Loki stole all said Thor would return to Midgard following his final fight with Thanos eventually.

It took Loki a good, long time to find when and where Thor would be returning to, but he did find it. The last time he saw his brother, he was being taken back to Asgard in chains following the Battle of New York. The last time Thor saw him, Thanos had choked the life out of him for the final time. Loki still vividly remembers the footage at the TVA of Thor holding Loki’s own dead body; the image of his own lifeless eyes still comes back to him periodically.

Regardless, he’s not sure how well Thor will accept what Loki’s going to tell him. He’s not even entirely certain Thor will believe him in the first place.

He does know, though, that he misses his brother. He’d do anything to be reunited with him. He’s not going to miss this chance to see him again, even if Thor doesn’t believe him, even if it does end up being the last time. He just wants the chance to say goodbye, if that’s all he gets.

Loki waits at home until five minutes before Thor’s ship is supposed to arrive in New York. He can easily transport himself from Malibu to New York; he’s spent years perfecting his magic, and looks forward to years of it still.

As it is, the ship carrying Thor passes overhead exactly when it’s supposed to. Loki is relieved, at least, that these aspects of the timeline remained unchanged.

He teleports himself closer, and closer still, until he’s at the edge of the territory that comprises the Avengers compound, waiting for Thor to step out of the ship. He’s not the first one out, nor is he the last, which makes it difficult for Loki to call to him.

For a moment, he almost forgets to signal to Thor at all. He’s just caught in looking at his brother. He looks different than he had when last Loki saw him, but he’s still so unmistakably himself. The set of his shoulders, the way he walked, the boom of his voice even across the landing field. Loki recognizes all of it, would know his brother anywhere; his breath catches, torn, distracted by him.

Loki comes back to himself before Thor gets inside the closest building, thankfully. He sends an illusion of two ravens flying overhead, hoping that Thor will look up. The illusionary creatures crow in the air, unnatural things that they are.

Thor does look up. Loki holds his breath and watches his brother do a double-take upwards, recognizing their father’s ravens. His head is on a swivel instantly, scanning the tree line for movement. Loki draws a hand up, letting the ravens come flying back to his hands before vanishing in a flash of green light.

From a distance, Thor’s eyes seem to land on him. His body is all turned in Loki’s direction, anyways, and he’s stopped searching, just— staring straight forward. All at once, he drops the huge weapon in his hands and sprints forward.

Loki’s first instinct is fear before he remembers this Thor’s last interaction with him was not the same as his own last interaction with Thor. Rather than turn to run from his brother, Loki breaks from the tree line, allowing himself to come out of hiding, into full visibility for Thor. At this, it seems, Thor picks up the pace, and cries out, “Loki!”

Loki starts running himself, flashing forward a few steps when his magic bursts with excitement. He pulls himself back to the ground just in time for Thor to collide with him, grabbing him up around the waist and hoisting him off his feet.

“You—” Thor starts to say, then chokes up and stops. He sets Loki back on the ground, burying his face in his hair; Loki clutches his brother tightly, unwilling to let go.

“I’m so sorry,” Loki says quickly.

“How did you survive?” Thor demands. He still hasn’t let Loki go, squeezing him tightly in full view of whomever his teammates are, still lingering nearby, confused. “I saw Thanos kill you— Loki, I felt you d—” Thor gets choked up again. Barely, he manages, “How?”

“I’m not the same person you saw die,” Loki tells him, slowly. He feels Thor’s confusion just in his body language; he’s known him for centuries, he knows when he’s thinking.

Thor separates them, looking down into Loki’s face. He seems like he’s scanning him for something, evaluating him, before he eventually announces, “You look almost the same.”

“I got away from you in New York,” Loki tells him. “In my timeline. And I’ve lived a different life since then.”

“In New York?” Thor asks. He looks over his shoulder at the strangers in the distance. For a moment, he considers something; then, he sighs, turning back to Loki. “I can’t let you do that again, Loki. You know that—”

“No!” Loki exclaims, holding up his hands. “No, no, that is not—” He motions viciously behind himself, tells Thor, “That’s done, that’s over with. I’m past all that. I live here now.”

“Here?” Thor asks.

“Well, not here here,” Loki says. “I live closer to the water. Actually, I—” Loki stops, then wonders why he’s hesitating at all. This is Thor, finally giving him the time of day again. The last of his old family. “I want you to come with me. To my home. I want to show you my new life, and— and get the chance to catch up with you, to really talk with you.” He reaches out and takes Thor’s hand. They haven’t done it since they were children, but Thor doesn’t pull away. “Thor, I don’t want us to be…”

He trails off, uncertain of what he wants to say, or what he means, exactly.

Luckily for him, Thor says, “I understand.” He squeezes Loki’s hand, then says, “I would be honored.”

Loki nods. “Thank you. And Thor, I’m— I can’t tell you how sorry I am. For what I’ve done, and for what I did to you in your timeline. I need you to know that I’m sorry.”

Thor studies Loki for another long moment. This Thor is older than the Thor Loki had known. He’s wiser, but also more tired, more experienced. Loki knows he’s been through terrible things. They both have; he can’t imagine how he looks to Thor.

“I’m sorry, too,” Thor says. He pulls Loki in for another hug, holding him tightly, as if he’d never let go. Loki huffs a laugh and hugs him back, letting his brother envelop him.

It takes a bit, but Thor does finally peel himself off of Loki in order to turn back to his teammates. One of them calls, “You okay?”

“I’m fine!” Thor shouts to them. He holds out one hand, and the weapon he had abandoned near the building flies towards him, slamming into his palm. Thor continues, at the top of his voice, “I’m going to visit with family for a while, don’t wait up!”

He turns back to Loki expectantly, holding out his empty hand without waiting for a response from his team. With a grin, Loki takes Thor’s hand and transports them away.

His home in Malibu is one of many on the beach, hidden in plain sight. The house is huge, if only to accommodate the sheer amount of things and people that Loki anticipates the building accommodating in its lifespan. Loki transports them onto the sand outside the back of the house, the ocean stretched out behind them, the sun nearly set and burning golden-red near the horizon.

“This is it,” Loki tells him, releasing his hand. A wave crashes behind them; Loki watches Thor turn to observe the sea.

“It’s beautiful,” Thor says. He laughs, then turns to Loki to say, “I’m sorry, I never imagined you living anywhere but the palace with me.” He motions to the ocean and adds, “If I did, I don’t think it would have been here.” Furrowing his brow, he points to the garage in the back of their house and asks, “What are those?”

“I actually was convinced to settle down here,” Loki tells him. “And those are jet skis.”

“Convinced?” Thor asks. “Who conv—”

“Hey!” Mobius calls from the top of the stairs, silhouetted in the encroaching darkness by their back porch light. Loki weaves around Thor to hop up to the second step, waving up to Mobius. “Hey, I thought I heard you out here. Come inside, dinner’s getting cold.”

Mobius’ silhouette vanishes indoors. Loki turns back to Thor, grinning. Shocking his brother still hasn’t lost its charm.

“You heard him,” Loki says. He motions his brother forward, turning back to jog up the stairs himself. The sturdy wooden things are sprayed with sea salt, leading from the sand to their house above, raised up, high off of the ground.

“Who is that?” Thor demands as he follows Loki up the steps. “Please don’t tell me you brainwashed someone into working here for you.”

“Are you s— No,” Loki says. He teleports himself to the top step, then looks back at Thor, halfway down.

“You could’ve brought me with you,” Thor shouts up to him.

“I did not brainwash him,” Loki calls back down. He crosses his arms over his chest and leans against the top post, waiting for Thor to make his way to the top. Once there, Loki tells him, “I married him.”

“You didn’t,” Thor says without thinking, no hesitation. He hesitates, then says, “Sorry, I’m just— The Loki I knew wasn’t really… Interested in anyone. Well, at the time.”

“Lucky for me, I just so happened to meet him because I split off from your timeline,” Loki tells him. He motions his brother forward, letting him into the back door of his home. The lights are all on, the house blazing like a palace here on the water. “I think you’ll like him. He reminded me a bit of you, when we first met.”

“Did he?” Thor asks, grinning.

“Not anymore, though, obviously,” Loki says, and Thor knocks their shoulders together before throwing an arm across Loki’s, tugging him into his side. “I really do think you’ll like him, though.”

“Does he make you happy?” Thor asks. His voice is low, this time, and he catches Loki in his kitchen, holding him back from making it to his dining room.

“He does,” Loki tells him. Thor’s still searching his face, so Loki adds, “Truly, Thor. I swear. This is the happiest I’ve been in a… In quite a long time, actually.”

Thor studies him for a moment longer before he smiles.

“Married,” he says, incredulous.

“Believe it?” Loki asks.

“Honestly, not fully,” Thor says. “I will when I see it, I’m sure.”

Loki exhales, then. He motions through the kitchen into their dining room, a huge glass room facing the water, and asks, “Would you like to see it, then?”

Thor claps Loki on the shoulder, grinning. He doesn’t say anything before releasing him, heading back through the doorway. He stops short again, and Loki grins himself, snaking around Thor to get into the dining room ahead of him.

“Hello, darling,” Loki says, accepting the kiss Mobius presses to his cheek and the baby he pushes into his arms. To her, Loki says, “And hello to you.”

Loki hears the shrieks of his other children at the table, hears the rough slide of their chairs on the floor as they shove them backwards. He shifts their baby to one arm, using the other to catch their son. Their eldest daughter slams into his legs, hiding behind them when she catches sight of Thor in the doorway.

“Alright, let him get in the door,” Mobius says, kneeling down to pry Frigga off of Loki’s legs. She whines softly, wordless, suddenly shy, unable to take her eyes off of Thor.

“You delight in tormenting me,” Thor comments, astonished.

“I thought this was more fun as a surprise,” Loki says. He can’t stop relishing in the way Thor is looking at him, pure shock and disbelief in every inch of his expression. He only manages to tear himself away to look down at his son, asking, “Bjorn, darling, would you like to go to your uncle?”

Bjorn twists around to look at Thor. He wraps one tiny fist in Loki’s long hair, studying Thor for a minute in silence. Finally, he acquiesces with a nod, releasing Loki and lifting his arms out towards Thor.

Thor, though hesitant, does reach out and take his nephew into his arms. The child looks almost comically small, held by him, but he is barely three years old.

“And this isn’t an illusion?” Thor asks, shifting Bjorn to hold against his side. He settles him in the crook of one arm, then holds up his other hand. Bjorn touches his small palm to the center of Thor’s.

“Not an illusion,” Loki tells him. “Very much real.”

“Where did you find them?” Thor asks. Loki glances to Mobius, who just shrugs, trying to keep Frigga from escaping her chair at the table again.

“They’re ours,” Loki says.

“Ah,” Thor says. He grins, then says, “See, that, I’m not surprised by.” To Mobius, Thor says, “Loki always liked changing forms. He was my sister for nearly a hundred years in a row, once. Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t have any children then, since he was—”

“It's such a genuine delight to have you here, Thor,” Loki cuts him off. “My apologies for being so rude, I just realized I hadn’t made any formal introductions here. Thor, I would like you to meet my husband, Mobius.”

“Hi there,” Mobius says, "Pleased to meet you." He leans over the dining room table to offer Thor his hand, and Thor takes it without hesitation, shaking firmly. Loki feels warm inside, like something settled into place that had previously been adrift, unbeknownst to him. He has to make himself focus enough to motion to Frigga next.

“This is our eldest daughter, Frigga,” Loki introduces her. He nods towards their son, and says, “You have Bjorn there with you, and this is the baby, Hannah.”

“Hannah,” Thor repeats, smiling.

“I told him he had to stop naming our kids after dead and missing Asgardians or they’d get bullied in school,” Mobius chimes in. “No offense.”

“None taken,” Thor replies.

“And so I allowed him to name her,” Loki says. Glaring playfully at Mobius, he says, “A mistake that will not be repeated.”

“I have so many names ready to go for next time,” Mobius threatens him with a smile. “You have no idea.”

“Cruel world,” Loki comments dryly. He steps aside, allowing Mobius and Frigga to more plainly see Thor, and says, “Well, my darling family— This is my brother, Thor.”

"We're happy to have you," Mobius says. Contrary to his words, Frigga stares silently at Thor from the table for a long moment before she gets up to hide behind Mobius’ legs, this time. Mobius sighs, twisting to try and pull her around. Loki lifts his hand; green magic sparks in the air between his fingertips and his daughter, and she raises right up into the air. The magic sets her back in the seat, pushing the chair in until she’s snug.

“Magic is cheating,” Mobius says. A well-worn argument. Loki grins.

“That doesn’t mean I didn’t win,” Loki counters. He motions for Thor to follow, lets Mobius point out his seat to him.

“I made up a place for you,” Mobius says.

“How did you know I was coming?” Thor asks, taking the seat offered to him. Mobius lifts Bjorn from his hold, taking him to his seat at the other end of the table again.

“He hoped you would,” Mobius offers by way of an answer. He lifts a basket off the table and offers it to Thor with one hand, the other still pinning their son in his chair. “Roll?”

“Thank you,” Thor says, accepting three. He looks to Loki, taking his seat at the head of the table, the baby still held tight in his arms. Though the elder two children have hair as dark as Loki’s, she looks blonde — at least, as much as Thor can see of her from his vantage point as she falls asleep pressed into Loki’s chest, face half-smushed in his shirt. Thor laughs. “Honestly, I— I still feel like I’m dreaming. I can’t believe you’re even still alive. The rest of this just feels like complete madness on top of that.”

“I’m—” Loki starts, then stops. He wants to say a lot of things, but he settles on saying, first, “I’m so glad you’re here, right now. With me.”

Thor leans forward to grasp Loki’s shoulder over the table. Loki’s eyes flick to Mobius, locking with his. Mobius smiles at him, such a warm expression, and mouths, “I’m proud of you.” Loki can’t help but smile, too, looking back to Thor.

“I can honestly say I feel the same way,” Thor tells him. He squeezes Loki’s shoulder tightly, then looks to Mobius at the other end of the table, at Frigga and Bjorn. “Now, all of you have to tell me everything about him. In exchange, of course, I’ll tell you about his time with me on Asgard—”

“No—” Loki tries to interrupt, but Thor just raises his voice and talks right over him.

“—As well as everything we did as children,” Thor continues. He grins at Frigga, tells her, “Come on, I know Loki’s daughter can’t be this quiet. What is it? What do you want to say to me?”

Frigga studies him for a long moment before she decides on, “You’re very loud.”

Thor laughs, loud and genuine and just as huge as it’s always been. Loki hadn’t realized how desperately he had missed Thor, and Thor’s joy, and their family, until that moment, when it feels like the weight of it hit him all at once. Overwhelmed, he looks down to Hannah, taking a deep breath.

“That I am,” Thor agrees. “Loki can most certainly attest to that. If it’s too much, though, princess, I do apologize.”

Frigga smiles a little. Leaning forward in her seat, she says, “It’s okay. Hannah’s that loud, too.” With barely a pause, Frigga narrows her eyes, studying Thor, and adds, “Are you gonna stay here?”

“If you’ll have me,” Thor says. He looks to Mobius, then Loki, waiting.

“Of course,” Loki says first.

“Stay as long as you want,” Mobius adds. “I’d love to hear a few of those stories.”

“I’d really rather you didn’t,” Loki comments. Frigga laughs, dropping her chin into her hands. Loki can’t help but smile watching her already start to warm up to his brother.

“I’d like to get to know the man who convinced my brother to live a quiet life,” Thor says. Mobius snorts.

“I don’t know if it’s quiet,” Mobius says.

“Mommy works,” Frigga chimes in. “And Daddy stays at home with us.”

“Lovely,” Thor says. “And what does Mommy do?”

“I don’t know, fighting people with magic?” Frigga says. She looks to Mobius and asks, “Can I have bread, too, please?”

“You’re going to have to tell me all about that,” Thor tells Loki. Loki sighs, reaching for his own water glass with the hand not holding his infant.

“Fortunately, I believe we have all the time in the world,” Loki says. Thor claps his shoulder again before turning back to his new brother-in-law, to his niece and nephew, to continue his interrogation of them. Behind the lip of his glass, Loki smiles.