Who: Thor, Loki What: post-dusting bickering and brotherly resolution. When/Where: Tony Stark's penthouse, the evening the emergency order was lifted. Rating: Green.
It had been a long two days, indeed. Still at Stark's and having a need to speak to his brother, Loki tried to catch him during a moment alone with no one else around. Not an easy task, at all.
Not to mention the thought of Thanos in this universe getting ahold of the stones, and halving the universe again. A thought that - no matter how much Thor said things would work out - discomforted him greatly.
"Thor, a moment if I may," asked Loki, as he approached. "I do apologize. I briefly informed Darcy that she can not go about demanding vows of allegiance from our valkyrie, and calling herself a queen. I believe she was trying to make a point, and did so poorly in a way she did not understand. I told her it was ill-advised and bad form. Not to mention treasonous."
Loki was neglecting to mention he sometimes pondered taking over the Jotunheim at some point or other. It was his throne by birthright, after all. And it's not like he hadn't tried to wound a brother before, so killing two brothers that he didn't care about would only make things easier. If only that planet wasn't a dying wasteland left in ruin and subjugated by Asgard.
Ahem. He smiled like he wasn't thinking that at all, saying rather conversationally, "She was really was quite contrite about it? After all, Darcy is usually attempting to instill reason unto me. In repayment, I am steadily driving her to the point of insanity, and perhaps unwellness. She's rather depressed by her lot in life or has been, and oft feels ignored. Which I tend to feel as well."
He made an 'eh' face and shrugged a little. God of Chaos, too. Ooops? Who'd have thought it. He was hard to get along with.
That all said, Loki looked at Thor. As though he was sliding out a verbal knife from its sheath, he wondered aloud, "So. Who is teaching you to be kingly?"
Thor was grateful that Loki had brought it up, because once Val had mentioned it to him … well, he was glad he was in space and not on Midgard. It was borderline treasonous, but it seemed to be par for the course for Darcy. In a short time, she’d made her claims very clear, and while Thor enjoyed her company, it was only in short doses. To be honest, he found Loki and Darcy’s relationship to be exhausting, and had no idea how his brother managed it.
As for the other matter, Thor gave a short laugh. Was Loki being serious right now? He wondered if this was Loki’s way of offering assistance, but Thor was reticent. After all, Val had also told him about the intrusion of her dreams by Loki, something which Thor would be bringing up. How could he trust his brother as an advisor when he did these kinds of things? With a shrug, he brushed off Loki’s question. “Why do I need to learn? I'm a natural.”
It was quiet. Loki was giving his brother that look, the same one he gave Thor while having rocks thrown through him in that 'prisoners with jobs' freaky tunnel holding-cell. Everyone knows the look. As though Thor can NOT be serious.
"Are you. Truly," Loki replied, not sounding convinced. His hands were resting on his hips.
Thor turned and looked back over the city from his position on the roof. “I have learned many lessons in my years,” was all he would say.
The truth was, Loki loved his brother. He truly did. He didn't like earning Thor's disapproval, but after a lifetime of trying to be noticed, any attention was absorbed like a sponge. Even the negative publicity type. He was trying to be good as of late, with several stumbles in the wrong direction. Of course.
Despite all that, he was also frustrated with his brother and was sure that the feeling was often mutual. He was supposed to be advising this dunderhead. That was what role he was assigned by their father...Thor's father...the All-father. Yes, that fits.
"Thor," by the tone of Loki's voice, it was clear he wasn't jesting or taunting. "Your years were spent courting war. You have little idea of what it might take to weather royal intrigue or other threats, nor that it takes a great deal of time to make sure your subjects needs are heard. When our people return, you can not be gallivant off whenever you like. And another thing? I am bound to an Infinity Stone. With roughly half of the population gone, even Stephen Strange's shielding is not going to prevent the fact that I will be easier to find now that more are not around me on this planet.
"I know these things do not occur to you. While you are off doing....I know not what else? The very least you could do is....no, do you even want to be king? Do you know we must set up a diplomatic process to be recognized on Midgard?"
“Do you think I am not aware of this?” Anger was slowly creeping into his voice, annoyed that his brother found him to be that much of a buffoon. “I’m sorry -- when am I supposed to be doing all of this? Now, when half the universe has been transported to who knows where? Or maybe later, when I’m trying to ensure everyone in this building has eaten, is taking care of themselves. Or actually, I think during the one or two hours of sleep I manage to get a night. Yes, that is the perfect time to plan and create systems and diplomatic processes and all of those things that I loathe doing since I clearly do NOT want to be King!” He could feel the electricity growing in his fingers, and clenched his hands around the blue sparks. “Is this your way of asking for the throne again? Because, I’m finding it slightly out of character for you to be so direct. Don’t you enjoy going into people’s minds and making decisions for them? I’m surprised you haven’t tried that one yet.”
Loki looked every bit the serpent when he recoiled back a step. His eyes reflected hurt at first, only to be replaced with seething anger soon after. As everyone knows, a serpent only recoils to either slither away from danger or to strike. It seemed that Loki was taking a second or two to deliberate which point he wanted to sink his fangs into, first.
"Oh shut up about that. I don't covet your throne any longer, you fool," he finally said with a snarl, fists clenching at his sides.
The truth was, he really didn't. Thor was off galavanting about the nine realms, hitting things with his hammer, oblivious to the goings on in Asgard. To the point where Loki replaced Heimdall and banished Sif, as both were an imminent threat. An imminent threat to Loki eating grapes and writing plays in his free time, or what little of that he had. As for the rest of it? Oh, of course he was fine being second in line to the throne. Of course, he was great at all the speeches and writing treaties, artfully navigating bickering nobles while juggling trade and finance. The reason why he was good at these tasks was because he liked luxurious fine things, wealth, and recognition. Of those three things, he craved recognition most of all.
That's why the mention of slipping into people's minds was a bitter draught to swallow. Technically speaking, he had taken liberty by slipping into their mysterious Valkyrie's mind, the night prior. The other time was a mere seed, a speck of his magic he had no connection to when he wove it into the sleeping spell in their home. It wasn't his fault that seed went rogue on him, and he gleaned no information at all from it being there. There was only one time that was deliberate and a misguided mistake. A foolish decision he had apologized for more than once, even if the damage was done. And yet he must keep paying for it, with the one person he craved the most recognition from.
Very well then? If having a grand total of one close friend was this much trouble, he was doubting the worth of it at all. He didn't know how Thor managed it, having so many friends.
"The matter with the Valkyrie has been settled," Loki said firmly, his eyes as cold as glacial ice. There was no trace of a smirk on his lips, not even the ghost of one. "It will not happen again. Indeed, I shall keep a wide berth, and let you sort out what's in her head. Along with all the rest of these things, if you do not want my help nor my council. All of which must surely keep you awake at night prior to this latest catastrophe. At least I had the sensibility to remain at home. Meanwhile, you had scampered off to Jane Foster's side, for days."
He pointed at Thor, accusingly.
"Don't you dare punch me in the face again for saying so," added Loki, irritated and tense and just as willing to wield his words as weapons. "I do not begrudge you! Yet we have much to worry over, brother. What is done is done. They are gone. The matter now is that this universe's Thanos did not have the stones to do so. The other Thanos did, and we are paying the price somehow. If this Thanos gets the stones....one of which is locked into me....he will happily half us all again to make sure his desire is fully met. I'd rather not die a second time, nor see you about to. This should be on your mind, as well as finding the half of a half of our people that are left. Asgard's finest warriors and guards might be gone. But a single handful of Asgardian volunteers with only half the training? One would still measure up to a hundred of these mere mortals. A fact you should well know."
Loki tried to stamp down every hurt feeling he could before pointing out, "I do not even know if you want me as an advisor. But I shall do what I was raised to do, nonetheless. Others eating is not your job, nor your forte. Darcy and that Scott fellow have been seeing to others eating. Darcy is working on setting up a diplomatic option. One which I have helped with, and mother has provided information for. There is no hope for me. Yet she will make certain you and Asgard are recognized by her government."
His brother infuriated him. Less than four days. Four days. That was the extent of time he had given himself to be with Jane, and even that was extended by one day due to his mother’s odd locking spell. Out of years of duty and loyalty, and his brother begrudged him those few moments of happiness? Thor was sorely tempted to tell his brother that he did not want a snake in the grass as a counsel, but how could he say something that he would never be able to take back?
Instead, he did what he knew he was supposed to do: he listened to what Loki was actually trying to say instead of reacting. And it was one of the more difficult things he could do. He was already planning a flight to a fjord after this, and destroying an iceberg or two.
“Loki. I do not wish to argue with you. You know the needs of the people as well as I, and it is my role to assist. I recognize no one here requires my minute and useless aide; however, here I am, and here I will remain until Steve Rogers says otherwise. I may be a King, but I am still an Avenger and he is my Captain. I will go through my day-to-day and do my best not to offend you with my ridiculous actions. Once I have a chance to speak with Darcy -- who by the way is also overwhelmed but with your leave, I will simply pile more on her -- we will work on securing a place for our people to stay in what I hope will eventually be a fresh start on life.”
He gave a smile dripping with ice to match the coldness in his natural eye. “Now. I will no longer presume to know what is in your mind, so please -- do not presume what is weighing on mine. If you’ll excuse me, I have some gallivanting to do. Perhaps I might go and spend a few hours with Jane, and help her with her lab work which, by the way, is not code for anything. You see, I cannot afford such luxuries in my life, as you are so apt to remind me of.”
Loki was quiet. These days, it was never good when Loki was quiet. It was when he was younger, because he had his nose in a book, or was hatching a prank for fun. After the weight of what he was broke him to pieces, he had been scrambling to pick up and put himself back together ever since. Quiet was a profoundly bad thing. It was an unwatched cauldron threatening to boil over, sure to leave a mess behind.
Of course, he took everything personally. He always had. Every word, every deed, every act was meticulously added to a long mental list of slights, which became tinder for the fire under that cauldron. He knew this. He was trying to fight it ever since he arrived in this accursed universe. With the added burden of the hidden Tesseract, no less. It truly was tiring.
Of course, Thor was right on some points, yet he felt that his brother consistently disregarded his concerns...often with a 'this will work out fine somehow' ideology. What stung is that he also knew Darcy was stressed and depressed. That she felt slighted when they acted as if she should know her place and not speak out of turn to them, and that made her temper flare as well. He and Darcy were similar that way. How they were dissimilar was that she wasn't Asgardian, and they should not expect her to treat them thusly. She was an ally to Asgard, someone who wanted to help. She was fully, unflinchingly Midgardian. They spoke their minds freely and their society changed swiftly compared to Asgard's past stagnation. They did not look at people as Kings and Queens but as equals, and treated them thusly.
In a way, Loki envied that. Because, although he liked the power and prestige, that sort of equality was something he never knew before. Now - more so than before - he doubted he ever would.
"Ah, I see. So the eternal disappointment with me continues. Ever am I in the wrong, no matter what I say, or do, or try to do." He shook his head while retreating back a step further. "I merely wanted you to know that Valkyrie had need of you after her arrival. She was left with me. That...apparently was a mistake. Worry not. I know my place or lack thereof. I shall tread carefully, and only burden Darcy when she is ready for it. Which you are right, she is not. We are all overwhelmed and I, over-eager to...."
...help fix it, he supposed. He was trying to fix or cover as many fronts as possible, because Loki liked plans and counterplans. Not that it mattered now, if it mattered ever. He could tell he was not wanted or needed, and Thor was still unwilling to ask or acknowledge he wanted his help. At all.
Loki left that all unsaid as his jaw clenched tight. He gave a curt nod to Thor, turning to depart and feeling summilary dismissed.
Thor growled. Rubbing his hands frantically in his hair, he sighed. “Brother.” Like all other times in his life, he had to be the bigger person, the older brother. Everyone else could sulk, but not him. So be it. It was his destiny to be the eldest, the heir, the responsible one.
“For once in your life, stop with the plans. Stop thinking ahead of yourself. Right now, we need to focus on what is happening in front of us. I will seek your counsel, don’t fret about that, but I will do so when the time is right. You will walk with me as my second, I assure you of that. It’s what we were raised to be, and so it shall be.” He gave another sigh. “You cannot fix anything today, nor in the near future. Neither can I. I don’t even know if this team can do it, but we will try, one step at a time. One step. And no more.”
Was that caring? He hoped it was. He was tired of fighting, tired of distrusting his brother, tired of feeling shame for pushing Loki away. All Thor felt was guilt for his brother’s actions, as if he was supposed to know and do something about it. And even though he knew that he should let Loki know how he felt, tell his brother that he loved him and valued him, it was harder to get the words out than he wanted.
Standing up, he strode towards his brother and pulled him in for a hug. “I meant what I said earlier -- I am thankful you are still here standing, and we are able to have these arguments. It is only with confidence of our position that we are able to speak so freely with one another.”
Up until that hug, Loki had been frozen in place. He was stuck between the urge to skulk off to brood privately or arguing that he always planned ahead, in some capacity or other. His game was chess. He was good at it. Sometimes he won, sometimes he didn't. In this instance, he was outmaneuvered by Thor at the last second.
Loki didn't look too upset about it. He might hate being outwitted, but he also grudgingly respected those able to do so. A faint frown was present, but his gaze was softened. The hard edge was gone. It was a good thing that his chin was on Thor's huge shoulder, so any unsightly displays of endearment couldn't be seen.
Stupid older brother. Stupid surprisingly adept words of wisdom (that he wanted desperately to hear). Stupid hugs. That perhaps weren't all that stupid, considering he was hugging Thor in return, without complaint nor signs of letting go.
It, too, was difficult for him to get out the words that he wanted to say. Not without a bevy of childhood fibs, idle threats, and sarcasm tainting the moment. He said nothing at first, not trusting his venomous tongue to follow what his sentimental heart wanted to let out into the open.
"Very well, brother. I will heed your council if you will bear mine in mind for the future. In the interim, will you let me manage some tasks that are too tedious for you?" he asked, tentatively. "I mean, once this...tragedy...has settled more into grim acceptance."
"You have my leave to do as you wish." Thor pulled away and turned his attention back on the sky.
It was surprisingly calm, with the sunset peeking through the clouds, basking the city in the gentle oranges and pinks that belied the tumultuous nature found below.
"But please remember: treat those as you wish to be treated. Not everyone has ulterior motives, Loki. Face value is surprisingly the norm, not the exception." He glanced over his shoulder at his brother. "Once we have the all clear, I expect you to head back to the manor with our Mother. Protect her, for I will be called into battle soon." The god of thunder looked back to the sky, debating if he should change the weather to match the moods of everyone. "I swear, once this is resolved, we can start looking towards our future."
It wasn't an official dismissal, but it was close enough.
As his brother started to move away, Loki looked skyward. This, despite the fact Thor just stated not everyone had ulterior motives. It was a quick weather check, to make sure that his brother's mood truly matched his words.
It was. The sky was almost as beautiful to behold as it was on Asgard. Almost, but not quite. He almost chastised himself for thinking anything else otherwise. Beyond slapping a compliance disk on his back, Thor was much more honest out of the both of them. He wished, though, that he could warn him that others they had yet to face might not be so forthright. It was better to suspect and be cautious, than to trust overly much.
Despite such thoughts, Loki let out a nearly silent sigh of relief.
"If you go into battle...." 'I should be with you,' he almost said, then stopped short. Thor was right. He had to mind the manor and their mother. He had to watch over Darcy. He had to mind his steps around Valkyrie. Some avoidance there might be a necessary precaution after too many previous trespasses. If anything, Loki's years of playing tricks meant he was well-versed in avoidance and sneaking around. "You are right. I will take care of your requests, brother."
He left in a different direction, to go find Darcy. He would let her know what transpired and that his mind - for the time being - was more set at ease.