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The MacIntosh of Discord

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The door to the seedy hotel room was locked, but Loki waved his hand over it and it opened. The room’s occupant leveled a gun at him, but lowered it when he recognized the intruder.

“I mean you no harm, Mr. Holmes,” Loki announced calmly.

Sherlock put the gun onto the end table carelessly and sat back, regarding Loki with a piercing gaze. “No, you don’t. You’re here to tell me that you’ve been dismantling Moriarty’s organization for the past three weeks.”

Loki tilted his head, studying Sherlock for a second before replying. “And how do you know that?”

“Why else would a reformed supervillain from outer space be dropping in on me? You don’t need me to solve a case for you, you have a genius level intellect yourself and are too arrogant about it to ask for help. Your apparent reformation has been all over the news for months now. Whatever your objective in joining the side of the angels is, you won’t jeopardize it just to harm one human with no connection to yourself. In the past nineteen days, on three occasions I’ve arrived at Moriarty’s nests only to find that they’ve already been cleared out before I got there. My brother is part of the clandestine brain trust that chartered the terms of your parole. Making my affairs part of a supervillain’s redemption arc is just the sort of thing he would do.”

“There you are wrong. I offered."

Sherlock steepled his fingertips. “And you’re enjoying the fact that I’m wrong about something.”

Loki shrugged and smiled, showing his teeth. “This is where you usually show off your deductive skills, but they won’t do you much good with me; we lack a shared cultural context.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure.”

“Really. Surprise me.”

Sherlock studied him for a few more seconds, then began to speak rapidly. “To the uninitiated your accent sounds upper-class British, but it isn’t quite right and as you're an alien there's no reason for you to speak with an accent humans would recognize. You chose a manner of speaking which, along with your perfectly tailored designer clothes, suits your self-image as a sophisticated, elegant villain, a gentleman fiend. But in fact, you aren’t even speaking English at all, are you? You’re using some sort of alien magic Babelfish.”

Loki’s right eyebrow quirked. “True.”

“You’re enjoying your supposition that despite my fame as a prodigy of deduction, I won’t be able to deduce anything about you because you are from an alien culture. You don’t believe any mere human could ever equal your intellectual achievements, but that isn’t really true, is it? Look at how much progress Dr. Jane Foster has made in only a few years towards understanding how Asgard’s rainbow bridge worked. How far have you gotten with that?”

Loki no longer looked amused.

“And your reaction just now tells me that you’re threatened by more than Dr. Foster’s intellect. You resent the influence she has over your foster brother. You’re very possessive about your family, you don’t even like sharing them with each other, and she’s able to influence Thor in a way that you aren’t.”

“Dr. Foster is no longer involved with my brother,” Loki said icily.

“But you still resent her. And if you weren’t recently reformed, you’d probably blast me to bits for pointing it out. You said you offered to take out Moriarty’s organization. Why would you do that?"

Loki spent a moment reining in his temper before replying. “Because I know what it is to miss one's lover and one's brother." He allowed himself a fleeting smile. "Now you may return to them."

"I don't miss my brother." Sherlock’s tone was disdainful.

Loki was beside him in a flash, and his hand shot out too swiftly for Sherlock to see the movement. He only felt fingers as strong and cold as iron around his neck, not tightly enough to hurt, just a warning. Just a reminder of his mortal fragility. "Human lives are not long enough for this foolishness, Mr. Holmes. Reconcile with your brother while you both have time."

Sherlock held Loki's gaze, seemingly unconcerned with the implicit threat. “You don’t know what he did.”

The god of mischief laughed aloud. “Is that supposed to impress me? I could tell you a few stories about how much one can forgive a brother.”

"I don't believe your motives are so sentimental. You don't have an altruistic bone in your body."

“True. My brother got all of those.” Loki released him. “But I do have a sense of... fealty. Your predicament is partly my fault.”

“And resolving it will curry favor with my brother, who is one of your current masters.”

Loki pointedly ignored this. “Moriarty used to work for me - that is how I knew where to find his minions - until I realized how insane he was. I prefer to be the craziest person in the room.” He smiled toothily. “Generally that isn’t a problem.”

"He was too insane for you?" Sherlock’s voice was mocking, not incredulous.

“I really should have killed him when I learned the extent of his madness, but….”

“But you sympathize with the insane and homicidal?” Sherlock offered.

Loki sauntered to the dresser and picked up a small bottle that stood upon it, turning it over in his hands as if he were curious about what it contained. After a moment he spoke in a tone of idle curiosity. “Have you any sense of self-preservation, Mr. Holmes?”

“A question I might well put to you, Mr. Laufeyson.”

“Moriarty showed such promise, but in the end he killed himself to impress his nemesis. The things people will do for sentiment.”

“So you didn’t help me out of sentiment.”

“Certainly not. You once did a favor for a friend of mine."

Sherlock's eyes narrowed and he looked Loki up and down. "A woman."

"One might even say, the woman."

“You were one of her clients?"

"Don't be tiresome. She's a friend. I would have come to her aid myself, but I was in Alfheim. I didn’t know she had been in peril until I returned.” Loki turned and walked to the door. When he reached it, he paused and spoke over his shoulder. "Dr. Watson has remained faithful to you since your supposed death. No doubt he'll be angry when he learns of your deception - they do get upset when you return from the dead, but they get over it." With that he left.

Sherlock sat without moving for over an hour. When he did move, it was to fetch his violin. He played it without stopping until well after dawn.