This Could Be the End of Everything

Recognition

Friday night makes way for a weekend and Loki lays awake in bed with Christmas lights that framed his headboard illuminating his room in a soft glow. Aunt May had brought up things meant for trash and he couldn’t let these things go despite some of the bulbs not working. He also snuck away a glow ring and a light ball for himself; his eyes becoming greedy in the show they performed. Loki huffs at himself, anxious. Aunt May had pretty much drained him emotionally, yet his body was more restless then exhausted. Loki tosses and turns to try and sleep if only a few hours. He had fallen asleep, if only barely, but a dream still flittered through his mind. At first, all he sees is sleep's fog. A fog that then makes a more pronounced look of clouds and the clouds were then brought to life by light. Moments after the light a boom that shook Loki to his core sounded. He could feel himself waking already but before his mind could fully awaken red covers his vision that flows away like cloth. A figure in the distance takes form. The cloth flowed from him and Loki reaches out towards the man. He opens his mouth to speak but is drowned out by the thunder. The blonde figure starts to turn but his face is blurred by lightning. When Loki regains his sight he sees red eyes and pale blue skin. A cruel smile is aimed at him that makes Loki hyperventilate. He tries to scream but nothing comes out. He thrashes until he feels a falling sensation and his eyes snap open when he hits something hard. He opens his eyes to find that he fell out of bed and is in a cocoon of blankets. He untangles himself and gets up quickly shaking violently and jumping at shadows. He shakes his head, peace gone from anything he felt a few hours ago. Loki grabs a pair of sneakers and leaves the house still only in a black hoodie and green sweats. He walks. All he knows is that he needs to move before the walls suffocate him. He walked for miles not thinking, not seeing, only feeling dread leave him till he grew numb. Once at a bus station, he looked up seeing a big billboard on the wall. It had a man with a goatee and mustache with a glowing circle on his chest. Tony Stark was written in big letters. Loki looked at it for a bit, déjà vu grabbing at the back of his subconscious and then realized, he had no idea where he was. He had no way to contact Peter either. He curses, sitting on a bench and just stares in a brooding slump. He had no idea what to do now as he watches an ant crawl into a crack. He mentally yells at himself for being so stupid about a nightmare; growling outwardly in distress.

"You ok Loki?" He jumps looking up to see none other than Gwen.

"What are you doing out so late?" Loki asked. She giggles.

"I could ask you the same thing. I had to pick up a friend at work. She lost her wallet so needed some way of getting on a bus. Can’t just leave her alone after an all-night shift." Loki hums showing he gets it. She looks at him expectantly.

"I took a walk and got lost." Her eyes grow wide, intrigued.

"Why so late?" He gets up and stretches.

"I'd rather not talk about it." She hums out an ok and loops her arm through his starting off in a direction. "What are you doing?" She keeps walking with the same fast pace.

"Getting you back home obviously. I swear, boys just have no sense of direction." She teases. Loki smirks.

"Sorry but I have a bit of a head injury so my memory is not so good." She looks at him with worried big eyes, almost alien in their beauty.

"Oh, sorry, I forgot for a moment that was very rude of me." Loki waves her off deciding her honesty wouldn't be fun to pick at. They walk in silence for a bit and Loki feels embarrassed by how far he had walked. He sees a building with a clock and sees its five twenty five.

"Do you have a way to get in contact with Peter?" Gwen pulls her cell phone out of her purse.

"I have him on speed dial." Loki looks at it intrigued. "Do you not have a cell phone?" Loki shakes his head with knitted brows. Gwen smirks with a secret. "So did you want to call him?" he shakes his head.

"Leave him a message. I still need some air." She nods.

"Alright, let's go get breakfast and then we can head to your house." Loki is then lugged across the street then to the left, back to where they came. He just lets himself get swept away in the whirlwind that is Gwen. She is honest and warm. All Loki seems to look for is light and warmth, surrounded by people who exude just that, and yet he still feels cold. He looks around himself and sees lights on buildings that glow in different colors and remembers how they looked when he was above them. Gwen stops in front of a building that says café on the windows in golden fancy letters. "Do you like coffee?" Loki nods, thinking back to the first time he drank it was when Aunt May prepared the breakfast for him while he slept his first day in the house. Gwen takes him inside and orders two caramel macchiato coffees for them and two breakfast sandwiches with two big chocolate chip muffins. They sit down next to the window in a booth. Loki smells the air and likes the bitterness of the coffee mingling with all the creamers in the small building. His stomach growls and he starts to eat what Gwen bought him. Half way through the sandwich he speaks to Gwen who is sipping on her coffee.

"Thank you for the food, and sorry I couldn't pay myself." She waves him off with a smile.

"Don't worry about it, a friend of Peter's is a friend of mine." Loki snorts at the simple statement. Two friends in three days and he doesn't even know who he is himself. He looks out the window taking a sip of the coffee. It was sweet with a small bite to it. He watches as people start to slowly wake up, filling the streets in a new production on the stage of life. The city lights that filled the streets during the night slowly go out one after the other to make way for the stage light that fills the streets with blinding strength. It was breathtaking to see the sun reflected off the many windows. This morning had pink tones to it that flirted with the buildings before being overtaken by the pure golden light that will later turn white when the sun centers itself above them all. Loki couldn’t help but stare, forgetting his own meal. Gwen’s phone goes off with a rooster crow bringing Loki back from his thoughts. She smiles, answering with a breathy hello. It was Peter and judging by how she was trying to calm him, not happy to find him missing so early. She finally gets him to quiet down enough to explain that Loki is indeed fine and they are having a nice early breakfast together. Loki sips his coffee and takes the last few bites of his sandwich when Gwen hangs up.

“Hang out with me till lunch and we can all eat together. Maybe Peter and I can finally get passed him stalking me and back to a possible relationship.” Loki stops unwrapping his muffin. She shrugs his questioning eyes away and he then takes a bite of the hot, chocolate muffin.

“It is so sweet.” He stated licking some chocolate from his fingers. It mushed in his mouth in a sweet goo that was heavenly for him. Gwen laughs and devours her own muffin. A sweet lover like Loki, however she was a bit messier and Loki had to politely hand her a napkin. She blushes once she wipes the glob away that was on her cheek. Once they finished their desserts Loki sips his coffee till the café started filling up with sleepy eyed patrons. He saw a mug on one of the stands that said ‘Don’t talk to me till this mug is empty.’ He points at it for Gwen to see and she laughs.

“I so need that in the mornings.” He raises a brow in question. “What? I am not always this perky I swear.” He finds a hard time believing that but leaves it, coffee finished and ready to go. They walk in a comfortable silence as traffic sounds fill the streets louder than what was at night. “What do you want to do?” Loki stops and looks at her. She sees by the cocked hip and crossed arm that she asked a bad question. “Ok, bad idea. You don’t even know the city you are in.” she bites her lower lip. Loki thought it was cute on her and once she released it from her teeth she is alight with an idea. “There is a huge street market fair going on downtown. Let’s go check it out.” He motions for her to lead the way and they make the journey downtown via taxi. She once again paid and hops out of the car hopping a little in excitement as the cab pulls away and Loki walks to stand beside her. He holds out an arm and Gwen slides her arm through it with little prompting.

“You are very energetic.” She pulls him into the street of vendors. The cops had to direct traffic away it was so big.

“You are a gentleman. Thank you for the arm.” He smirks at her.

“I cannot just let a beautiful lady such as yourself wander alone.” She looks at Loki in mock agreeance.

“Yes, because I am so defenseless being such a beautiful dame.” Loki shakes his head chuckling.

“Now I didn’t say that. Just don’t want other men to step in on someone Peter loves. He would be even worse to deal with.” She shakes her head but smiles approvingly. She wanders to a vendor that made purses and handbags. Loki looks at the bags in appraisal at the artwork, yet again, ignoring women ogling him with their eyes shamelessly. Gwen thanks the woman and continues on to the next vendor. Loki winced wondering if she would stop at all of them. There had to be more than a hundred here. Luckily she only seems to stop at ones she would want something and quickly browses the others. Loki lets her lead, simply looking with little interest till she passes a blade vendor. He stops her, being his turn to browse, and she watches him in interest. His eyes land on a set of throwing knives on the side of the table and he looks them over in want. He thinks of the possibility he once wielded weapons such as these but dismisses it. Probably was just a collector. Why would he wield such things in modern day? He sighs though, before the vendor could try and talk him into buying it with no money to his name he tries to walk away. Gwen on the other hand was looking at them intently. “Don’t you dare!” he warns.

“How much?” the vendor comes over like a rubber band let go after a forceful stretch.

“Sixty five miss. I’ll even throw in the holster for them.”

“I’ll take it.” She yelps. Loki grabs her wrist before she can pull out the wallet.

“No, I will not be a charity case. I didn’t mind the food and I let the cab fare go but this is not necessary. Why would you do this?” she tilts her head as if the answer were obvious.

“Because we are friends. I just want to make sure you are happy. This isn’t hard on me. OSCORP pays very well. I can spare it. I know you are not a charity case. It is just what friends do.” He bites his lip looking away. Slowly his grip relents and she proceeds to get him the gift. Once wrapped for travel they leave to go to the next one. It has pastry decorated phone cases and she immediately grabs the one with pandas sitting on teal frosting.

“Are you joking?” she puffs up, offended.

“Can I not have a girly moment?” Loki puts up his hands in a placating motion. “Besides, they are strong enough to withstand being run over by a car. I would like my phone to be safe.” Gwen looks at her phone once she puts the case on. “We should go ahead and tell Peter where to meet us. There is a cute diner across the street.” Loki holds his arm out again and they go off toward the diner. The waitress welcomed them warmly and showed them to their seats.

“What can I get you to drink doll face?” Loki does a double take at how she addressed Gwen. She merely tells her a sprite mixed with coke. The older woman jots it down in what Loki notes, a scribble. “And, for you handsome?” Loki looks at her for a moment realizing she is doing it without thought and simply says a water.

“Oh and can you make mine two? We have another coming and he likes it too.” She nods and walks to the back with extra swing to her hips. Peter shows up not long after that. Loki knows he took to webbing here from the speed and slides out to give him a spot, then plops down on the outside. He gives a lopsided grin to Gwen and she returns it with a knowing smile. The waitress returns with the drinks and they order some cheeseburgers, ordering Loki one as well with his lack of knowing what said food is. After a few more minutes of awkward silence, mainly because of Peter, Loki clears his throat.

“Both of you outside. You are to talk about your undying love and I am not leaving till I see you two snogging out there.” Peter wasn’t sure how to take this and realized when Loki stepped out of the booth that he was serious. Gwen just snorts and walks out. Loki grabs Peter and the boy follows Gwen fumbling all over himself. Just as they leave two males enter the food joint. Loki noticed one being the guy from the sign, Tony Stark. The other was a shoulder length blond that for all intents and purposes, was a wall. Loki sips on his drink, looking out the window to watch the two stutter and fidget at one another in what Loki thinks was supposed to be a conversation. Gwen does a lot of nodding and fish impressions to help Peter talk and he watched Peter motion wildly, probably making insane faces in what Loki has designated as his mating dance for the girl. Loki snickers at the two, just glad they are out of his radius with all that teen angst. Despite his moment of jest at the two, he feels his skin start to prickle. Someone was looking at him intensely. Loki looks around and spots the blonde wall staring at him. His face then lights up with recognition and disbelief. Loki attempts to make himself small, wanting nothing to do with any kind of confrontation. He wonders if it might be friends of the guy from last night.

“Loki,” a whispered gasp comes from beside him. Loki jerks his head up to have a towering brute looking down at him. Stark was coming up behind him, also confused and having eyes of recognition on him. He couldn’t help it, he stood. He felt boxed in and his hands twitched toward the shopping bag with the daggers. “You are alive, but how brother?” Loki jerks back as hands come up toward his shoulders. He swats them away, heart pounding in his ears. Who were these people? And this couldn’t be his brother. They look nothing alike.

“I don’t know who you are but you need to back off. I don’t want any trouble.” Stark comes up closer.

“We can’t really believe that Loki after all that you have done.” Loki jerks at the accusation. What did he do?

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” He grabs the bag and pushes the blonde back so he could grab Gwen’s bag.

“Loki, I am Thor. Do you not know your own brother anymore?” he stiffens at the pain that was showing for all to hear. Loki looks out the window and he sees the two embracing one another. That was close enough for him at this point. Loki grabs his bag and turns to go but is grabbed by Tony Stark.

“You need to come with us. You have a lot to answer for.” Loki shakes him off, red filling his vision at being touched without a warning. Thor seems to have known the mistake as if seeing Loki react like this before. He didn’t know him. He didn’t, did he? Even if he did, he felt threatened and was going nowhere with these two.

“Keep away from me. I want nothing to do with you.” He looks toward Thor with raging ocean blue eyes. “My name is Loki but I am cousin to Peter Parker.” With that he shoves past Stark, almost knocking him over. Before they could follow him, some teens came over, fans of the Avengers and ask for autographs. Tony politely tells them they are working as Thor maneuvers around them to get to Loki. Once outside, Loki grabs Peter. “I’m glad you guys made up, kiss later. I have freaks coming after me and I want to go home.” Peter is momentarily lost until a blond behemoth charges out.

“Loki please, these games are killing me, come back with me.” Peter and Gwen’s jaw drop.

“Thor? What are the Avengers doing here?” she asks. Loki has no idea what they are talking about and is losing his patience with lack of concern on their part.

“Midgardians, please relinquish-” Loki grabs Peter forcefully and sprints away. Gwen is left stunned and debating to go back inside and eat or leave. She ops to leave due to her crazy level getting too high. Thor was just about to chase them till Tony grabs his arm.

“Perhaps we do not know what is going on. It is probably best to regroup at the tower. You had said Loki was dead, yet here he is. I don’t think he is hanging around a hero intentionally when he could be so easily found out.” Thor nods, looking back to where the figures had once ran and his heart starts to break. Tony leads the god back to the car and they make their way back to Avengers Tower. Thor doesn’t speak. He barely even moves once seated. His thoughts are everywhere and yet nowhere. It enrages him gripping Mjolnir painfully to quell the storm in his mind and the one forming on the horizon. His thoughts begin with Jane as he looks at the massive buildings Stark speeds by. He loved her dearly and they spent so much time together he almost forgot where his life ends and where hers began. The city holds so many memories of her and him when they first met and yet they hold many other painful ones now. Thor shakes his head, gritting his teeth. He decides to steer his thoughts to Asgard and the state it is in. He doesn't regret his decision to live on Midgard, leaving his rights to the throne for Jane but he does wonder. Are Lady Sif and the Warriors Three getting along? Is father fairing fine after mother passing? He also thinks of Loki; the pain of mother’s death still etched between them. He pinches the bridge of his nose. At least it was. Loki now claims no knowledge of his centuries of life. How could one forget such a time span? Gods do not fall victim to forgetfulness no matter how old. No one will give this matter proper thought but him. His friends hate him, which he cannot hold against them after what he had done. When he tried to explain why he would become sad on occasion Jane just couldn't understand and never will. It is clear she does not wish to. No one really does anyway, they never knew him when he was good. The young man he once knew, whom he shared everything with, the friend and brother. He remembers the long hours he would pray for his soul to have reached Valhalla after such a heroic fight he had taken part in. Not for Odin, not for his own gain. He sacrificed himself for him. Thor still remembers the sight of light leaving his eyes and the golden Asgardian glow turning to nothing and a pale gray taking its place. They never could find the body. Thor went back himself. Could someone have saved him? Placed him here for a second chance? It isn’t unheard of for lost souls to have new life breathed into them to try again before another death takes them. Tony parks the car and they exit together to take the elevator to the common area they use as a briefing room when it was unofficial. Tony walks in, having informed Steve of what happened on the way here without Thor’s notice. The three gather on the couches and chairs of the sitting area and start figuring the next course of action.

“First are we certain it was Loki.” Thor bulks at Steve. Offended they did not believe him.

“I know my own brother Rogers.” Tony puts a hand on his shoulder from the couch they shared.

“Easy there, he wasn’t there. We also know how tragic it was for you to see him die.” His sincerity was a bit stiff, Thor understood his indifference after Loki trying to take the city he calls his home, but he was not pleased regardless. Steve clears his throat to gain their attention again.

“Since it was Loki we will need to bring him in. We will try to take him voluntarily but we will arrest him if we have to.” Thor stiffens. Steve cuts him off before he can even utter his disapproval. “Nothing unnecessary will be done. We just need to get him here so we can have the full story.” Thor stands abruptly and stalks out yelling over his shoulder.

“All you see is the villain but I see my brother who needs help. You never knew him like I did." Steve jogged after him letting Tony do his own thing now that a plan was made. He was worried and knew where Thor was coming from. He entered the elevator and Steve pushes his way through. Thor pins him against the wall. “Do not test me further Rogers, I am burning with rage and am trying not to fight.” Steve holds the fists that have his shirt and tries to calm him down. They all seem to be touchy on the job no matter how calm they are on their own time.

"Thor, I only want to talk. I am in your shoes, so to speak. I still see Bucky as my friend. Even when I had to fight him to save the city I couldn't forget our friendship. I even tried to make him remember. I know how you feel. No one else knows him like I do and it’s frustrating.” Thor lets go of Steve. Smoothing his shirt in a silent apology. "He was your brother, it's understandable." Steve sees Thor's eyes start to glisten despite the attempt of fighting them with rage. He was still mourning his brother even though he finds him possibly alive today.

"He died for me." He whispers. “I want him back. He is right there and I can’t reach him.” Steve puts his hand on his shoulder and squeezes. Thor rubs at his eyes and coughs a bit. The elevator door opens on Thor’s floor. Thor exits but holds the door open. "Your friend was known as a good man before his fall from grace. Loki was never given that opportunity. I am the only one who can cherish who he truly was properly." Steve smiles at him. One filled with promise for the words he says.

"Tell me about it and I will cherish his memory with you." Thor looks shocked then he smiles appreciatively at the Captain.

"You are a good man Rogers. I would love to share my stories with you this day." He removes his hand from the elevator and Steve walks with him. Thor’s thoughts drag to the boy Loki now lives as and can’t help the hope that fills him as he and Steve walk to his private sitting area stories already beginning to form on his tongue.

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