"When did Loki ask for me Angborn?"
"Yesterday," Angborn sighed, "just after dinner."
Thor stopped walking along the cobbled street to the palace. "It is near diner again, a day has passed. He will think I'm ignoring him."
He knew that Loki was so willing to see the darkness that he was often blind to the light.
"I was only able to ask Odin this morning," Angborn explained.
"Why the delay then?" Thor frowned.
Angborn almost told Thor that he had just disobeyed a direct order but held his tongue. "Some things came up with the squad."
Thor nodded. "You should return to them Angborn. You have duties of your own."
Thor turned and stumbled, bumping into Angborn before straightening. "Eh…"
"It is alright my prince," Angborn promised.
The two split up.
Angborn continued on his walk to his squad's barracks. He was almost there when he leaned back, hands on his hips. One hand rested on his sword hilt and the other was nothing. Frowning, he stopped and looked down. Like most Ravens he'd picked up Loki's habit of keeping at least one dagger with him. His was on his right hip, but the sheathe, was empty. "Where did my dagger go?"
He thought about it. Then he realized where. "Thor!"
Loki was in the same position as he was at the start of the week. Slítas hadn't moved either, still curled around Loki's arm. Well, Loki sighed I shouldn't be surprised that Thor isn't here. He thinks I'm a monster just like everyone else does.
"I said, let me pass!"
Loki raised his head, slowing opening his eyes. That voice… Two guards were in front of someone and he looked mad.
Thor glared at the guards that were blocking his way with their swords. "Just because I am dressed like a mortal does not mean I am one," he warned. "Move before I throw you down the stairs!"
The Guards hesitated. They had Odin's orders to keep the former brothers separated, but it was hard to obey that when Thor was in front of them. Reluctantly, they lowered their swords and stepped aside enough for Thor to stomp past them.
Loki finally stood, but stayed in the same spot. He watched Thor stalk over. Thor had come.
"Loki," Thor whispered, still in a bit of shock that Loki had summoned him.
It surprised him again just how much Loki had seemed to have aged. In the span of a year he had aged decades and his eyes were colder than ice, curious, but cold.
Why does he want to talk to me? He can't say much with that muzzle on. Thor walked over to the control panel and changed the settings. The forcefield wavered, turning from solid to liquid to allow someone to enter. Thor did so.
Again, he and Loki were face to face. Thor stepped towards Loki and Loki stepped back. He stepped forward again and Loki backed up. Too many more steps and Loki was going to walk into a forcefield and get burned. "Loki, hold still. Let me take off your muzzle."
Loki blinked in surprise and reluctantly held still. Warily, Thor approached him and raised his hand to remove the muzzle. Loki flinched. Thor lowered his hand slightly, caught off guard by his little brother's reaction, curling his fingers to his palm. He flinched because I raised my hand near him. What does he think I'm going to do, hit him?
He does. Thor felt his anger spike. Like a dog who's been beaten by its master too many times, all he expects now is to get hit again. He stepped closer, sharply, ignoring Loki's reaction and yanked the straps holding the muzzle in place loose.
The instant the muzzle was free Loki ducked away from Thor's touch. He couldn't resist taking a deep breath of fresh air.
Thor dropped the muzzle to the ground. "Why did you wish to speak to me brother?"
"I am not your brother," Loki rasped, voice rough from lack of use.
He rubbed his throat, realizing how thirsty he was. His muzzle hadn't been removed since New York.
Thor sighed slightly. This was obviously not going to be an easy conversation. "Loki stop fighting me, please."
"We're not fighting we're talking," Loki clarified smartly.
"Sir!" One of the Guards on patrol, another Blood Wolf, had finally realized what Thor was doing.
"What is it?" Thor asked. "Can't you tell we're trying to talk here?"
"But sir you're…" The Wolf hesitated, out of his league.
"I'm what?" Thor asked, raising his eyebrows.
Loki had to bite his tongue to keep from answering the question himself.
"What do you think Loki's going to do?" Thor asked the Wolf again, "take me hostage?"
Loki narrowed his eyes.
Thor saw Loki apprising him and he glared at him, exasperated. "I was not being serious!"
Loki smiled slightly, a predator's smile.
"You're not strong enough. You've been without food or drink for a month and you're cuffed."
Loki raised his cuffed hands. "What makes you think this will slow me down?"
Thor shook his head, "plenty. You can't use your hands."
"At least I use my brains when I fight."
"I do to think!"
Loki moved suddenly. Thor had forgotten exactly how fast Loki was and was thrown against the wall by Loki's double handed swing. He caught himself so he didn't fall and touched his lip. It was bleeding.
"If you do, then not very well Æsir," Loki said with an arrogant smirk, turning away.
Thor narrowed his eyes, pushed off the wall, and swung at him.
Loki ducked, and spun to one side.
He saw my attack coming! Thor thought as he tried to stop the swing. His fist brushed through Loki's hair. Off balance now, it was easy for Loki to kick him behind the knee and end up with Thor flat on the ground.
"You were saying Æsir?" Loki hummed as he stepped back. What a hothead, Thor had walked right into that.
"You say that like I'm an enemy Loki," Thor stood again.
Thor couldn't sense that shadowy presence around Loki. Without it , he should be able to talk some sense into his little brother.
Loki stared. "Fool, I am a Jötunn. You Asgardians are my enemy."
Thor gazed at him softly. "I never got a chance to thank you for interrupting my coronation before Loki. I would have made a terrible king."
Again, Thor had managed to slip past Loki's defenses and catch him off guard. Loki shook it off. "I tried to take control of your precious Earth." He smiled again slightly. "I would have liked to meet your dear Jane Foster. What about her intrigues you so? I suppose I would have figured it out eventually."
Thor tensed. Bringing Jane into this was a guarantee of a fight.
"Sir you shouldn't be-" the Wolf tried again.
Loki shook his arm and Slítas fell to the floor. Knowing what was coming next, the cobra slithered to a corner so he wouldn't get stepped on. "I suppose I'll have to wonder," Loki shrugged, "but if I do get the chance… To put up with you she'd have to be very stubborn but I think my scepter could sway her thoughts to me. A king does need a queen."
"Leave Jane out of this," Thor ordered. "You want to fight with me then fine, fight with me. I'm right here."
"Yes," Loki promised, "I did notice."
"Why do you wish me harm so?" Thor asked.
"You threw me off the Bifrost for one thing," Loki growled.
"I did not. You-you forced me to destroy it and I told you to hold onto Gungnir. I would never hurt you."
"Fine words. The sad part is you truly believe that you've done nothing to hurt me," Loki gave a twisted smile.
"When did I harm you then? I might have given you a few bruises in sparring but I never meant to," Thor demanded. He and Loki stepped, starting to circle each other like wolves.
"Bruises heal you stupid Æsir, but words cannot be taken back. You and Odin, both of you, ignored me. I was just some well-kept secret, the son Odin paraded around when he had to and ignored the rest of the time. All you were interested in was battling something and every time I was foolish enough to protect you. That's why I was always in the Healer's Ward because I was protecting you. I should have let you die. You never once thanked me for it, never seemed to notice, you just went on to your next misadventure."
"You were my brother, "Thor implored, "I never thought I had to thank you for looking out for me. I was a fool when I was younger but that was then."
"Oh and you're what now exactly?" Loki demanded. "Odin refuses to crown you, to make you king. He does not believe you are ready yet."
Thor hesitated. He had been wondering why these past few months Odin had not tried to coronate him again. Forget it, Thor scolded himself. "Part of it might be because the last time he tried Jötunns got into the Weapon's Vault."
"Yes and you instantly assume I let them in didn't you?" Loki demanded. "Everyone else did. Well, I did let them in so I suppose jumping to a conclusion like that is all right."
"You… you did?" Thor blinked.
"Of course I did," Loki snarled, "isn't that what you assumed when you learned I was a Jötunn monster?"
"No," Thor replied softly.
Loki leaned back a little. Thor didn't? "You were the only one naïve enough not to."
"I trusted you," Thor demanded, "You were my brother! Jötunnheim is one thing, but to attack Midgard solely because you knew I cared for it? Those are the actions of a child, and you were never one to act so foolish!"
"You sound like Chthon," Loki growled.
"Like who?" What did Loki just say, Chthon? He had heard that name before somewhere but he wasn't quite sure where.
Loki shook his head. Smart, you weren't supposed to mention him. "You want to know why I did it all Thor? Why I chose to stand by the Chitauri, Jötunnheim, New York?"
"I did it because of you brother," Loki sneered the affectionate term. "All of it, because of you."
"You," Loki repeated. "My entire life I have lived in your shadow, the second son. While you received all the praises and glory I was just a shadow, the little brother. Realms Thor, most Asgardians when they saw me didn't recognize me as their Prince! You, oh of course they knew what you looked like but me? 'Yes, I do recall we had two princes but I can't quite remember the smaller one's name,'" Loki mimicked. "I have heard that said before while I was there!"
Loki clenched his hands and looked away. "I got tired of living as your shadow, the constant disappointment of Odin. Nothing I ever did was good enough for him while everything you did was. I just got tired of it. Now Thor, now everyone knows who I am. They know my name, I'm not just some half-forgotten thing that used to be mistaken as a servant's child when we were younger. Now I stand free from your shadow. Now I stand in the light."
"In the wrong way," Thor shook his head.
"At least now someone recognizes me!" Loki spat, "and don't you dare pity me son of Odin." He added at Thor's look. "We are not kin, we share no blood. You said it yourself, 'were my brother.' Even you give up on carrying on that ridiculous lie Odin fed us as we grew up."
"What do you want to do Loki?" Thor demanded. "Do you want to kill me? Because I stand before you!"
"No," Loki shook his head. "That is far too gentle. I want you to know what it's like to lose everything you believed in, everything you trusted, just like what you and Odin did to me."
"I did not lie to you Loki," Thor promised, "I learned only we were not kin a month ago. That does not mean we are not family."
"Why don't you just kill me then, if you believe that will cure all of your wounds?" Thor asked.
Loki half-turned towards him, his eyes partially hidden by his messy black hair. "I think I just might take you up on your offer, if only to shut you up."
The Wolf reached for the control panel. Enough was enough.
"Please deactivate my cell," Loki asked the wolf, back to him, not turning. "Without its barriers and my voice free I'll be able to use some curses."
The Wolf hesitated, that wouldn't be good. What was he supposed to do, let those two attack each other? Both princes, one of Jötunnheim, one of Asgard, obviously thought so. They engaged.
Loki's fighting style had changed some from his year aboard the Chitauri ship and having to fight cuffed altered it even more. Despite that, the two had grown up together and they knew each other's fighting style as well as they did their own. That meant the same thing would happen just like it always did: Loki was too fast for Thor.
Thor backed up, fairly positive he had some bruised ribs now. He hadn't been fast enough to block Loki's kick let alone land a hit of his own. Loki's fighting style was like an elf – you can't hit what you can't catch.
"Sir!" The exasperated Guard could see Thor wasn't fast enough.
"Right," Thor spat, coughing up blood, "and this is the same warrior that got beat by a group of humans and one Æsir." He shook his head, "I thought New York was too easy. You didn't use any magic, didn't even fight other than with me. Why did you let me defeat you at New York?"
Loki punched him again, breathing hard. His off the charts stamina had dropped to near zero. Thor put an arm on the wall, coughing, breathing ragged. Three hits and I'm almost down. The accuracy of Loki's hits, the right force, the right angle, the right elevation, done so perfectly…
"Sir, get out there!" The Wolf ordered.
Thor glared at the guard, "can't you see this is a family affair?"
"We're not family!" Loki shouted as he tackled Thor.
Thor let out an oof as he hit the wall again, face first. He swung an arm, backhanding Loki handing across the face. Something metallic clattered to the ground. Not noticing, Thor shoved Loki back and turned around, hitting the metallic object with a boot and sending it spinning.
Loki stopped and stared. The object was a dagger – a sharp one.
Oh no, Thor scrambled for the blade. Loki's speed gave him the edge. He dived, rolled, and came up with the blade in hand, falling into his stance like it was second nature. Now Thor was in trouble.
Forget the curses, the Wolf thought, I'm out of time. He started typing in the deactivation code but he was panicking and in his rush kept typing the wrong code.
Thor dodged Loki's first swipe with the blade, stepping back. The second grazed his arm and he had to step back again. He could feel the forcefield on his back. It would burn him if he stepped back anymore. Is Loki going to kill me? The coldness in Loki's eyes said yes. Glittering, the dagger went up.
"NO! Loki stop!" Angborn shouted as he ran down the stairs, shoving past the guards there.
Loki paused slightly and then shoved Thor back the last step to the forcefield. He pressed the blade to his brother's throat, eyes eager for a kill. The blade didn't cut. Why can't I do it? – Loki frowned. Just a flick of the wrist and he's gone… The one who made me such a shadow will be gone… Thor's sapphire eyes were barely a foot from his own, calm and trusting against all odds.
Finally, the Wolf got the forcefield down. Without it there, Thor stumbled back, falling down the step to the ground. Instinctively he tried to grab something to keep from falling, but the only thing in reach was Loki.
Both crashed to the ground. Loki raised his dagger above Thor's face meaning to bring it down but Thor caught his brother's arm, keeping the dagger in the air. In a test of strength Thor always won.
Thor managed to twist Loki's arm and knock the dagger down the hallway. Loki punched him again and Thor hit back. The brothers scuffled on the floor just as they had hundreds of times growing up. All the Wolf could do was stare.
"All right," Angborn growled, "break it up you two."
He grabbed the collar of Thor's shirt with one arm and Loki's with another. Thor punched him. Angborn released Loki and hit Thor back. Then he grabbed Loki and threw him back into the cell.
"If you would," his eyes fluttered to the Wolf.
The Wolf got it and reactivated the forceshield. Loki ran forward but managed to bring himself to a screeching halt before he crashed into the forceshield. Again, he was again trapped. Loki swore and spun around, punching air in his frustration.
Angborn let out his breath. He picked up the fallen dagger. "Why did you take my dagger Thor? Just how stupid are you?"
Loki raised his head. Take… He looked at the dagger, at the design on the hilt, the carving on the metal blade. It was Angborn's. "Thor, you, you dropped it on purpose! You played me! You wanted to see what I would do! And you say you care!?"
Thor stepped to one side of Angborn so Loki could better see him. He had hesitated to kill me… That is still my little brother.
Loki banged his hand against the shield and it lit up gold. He had to break contact quickly, hand burned. Thor could nearly see Loki's eyes shimmer red from anger as his Jötunn blood spiked.
"Loki," Thor whispered, "broth-"
"Don't you dare finish that sentence Odinson!" Loki spat. "We are not family! I killed the only family I had. If you claim to be kin then I'll kill you to." His voice was the sort of emotionless calm that sent a shiver down Thor's spine.
"You know nothing about my family Odinson." He looked down suddenly, anger replaced with something far different. The memory came back again, Laufey hesitating to strike back after Loki had led him to Odin and double crossed him. Laufey let me kill him rather than risk hurting me – his son – in a counter attack. He cared for me.
"I said go away Thor!" Loki shouted. His anger came back with an extra force behind it that hadn't been there previously. "Go away and let Odin kill me! Run away from the Jötunn monster like everyone else does."
Thor stepped forward. "I'm not running away."
Loki's razor sharp eyes turned onto him, dark as oil, "Again. You just flittered off to Midgard and you ran earlier to, all the way to Jötunnheim and if you hadn't done that none of this would have happened!"
Thor couldn't find the courage to meet Loki's gaze.
Loki turned away. "You claim to be family Thor."
"I am Loki," Thor replied on instinct.
"You can say that all you want but words are just words. It's very easy to say something and not mean it." Loki smiled, a twisted thing, "I'm an expert at it."
He said no more after that and the Wolf finally tried to escort Thor out of the dungeon. Thor picked up Loki's muzzle and left with it.
Loki: "The only reason I hesitated was because Angborn surprised me! That's it! I want Thor dead!"
Pengping: "I didn't say anything else... yet"
Loki: "I can hear you, you know."