This does not follow from the first chapter. It's a one-shot in it's own right, along very similar lines to the first.
I'm sorry. I can't help myself.
I take it back. I'm not sorry at all.
I do what I want.
Named for a Florence and the Machine song.
This takes place at the very end of the movie.
So much had happened. So much lost.
Weirdly enough, somehow, Thor felt – in the moment – that he'd won.
He knew it would not take long to wear off.
His brother had come to speak to him, and he stood, framed by the door that stood open just behind him.
Thor eyed him. The edges of the stopper felt sharp in his fingers. "I might even give you a hug if you were here," he said. And he threw the little silver thing.
His aim was off. The stopper would have flown straight over his shoulder had Loki not caught it. Dismay pricked in Thor's breast. He ought to have expected that it would take him longer to adjust to his wound.
Then, with a pang of surprise that was entirely different, Thor saw that Loki was smiling, holding the stopper in his raised hand. "I'm here," he said.
Thor had been half-joking, when he'd spoken. He had been so certain that Loki would not have come. After everything…
After everything. In spite of everything. Thor was glad to see him.
In three strides he closed the distance between them and dragged Loki against him.
He was solid. He was real.
Giving a soft, startled laugh, Loki returned his embrace.
Thor drew back, keeping his hand on the warm skin between Loki's neck and shoulder – an old, familiar gesture between them that Thor had learned from their father.
Odin had been their father, at the last. Even Loki would have admitted it.
Hadn't he claimed Hela as sister alongside him?
Searching Loki's green eyes, Thor gave a soft smile.
Loki's expression turned mocking, "Sentiment, Brother, after everything?"
Thor smiled. "So much so, that at times like this," Loki's neck was warm against his hand, solid, present. "I think I might forgive you all of it, even though I knew you'd only do it all over again."
The look in Loki's eyes changed utterly and the laugh that passed his lips was forced. "You…" his gaze fell away, and he swallowed thickly before flicking his eyes up to meet Thor's again with a little, rueful quirk to his mouth, "You don't understand what you're saying," he said.
Feeling that old annoyance flickering to life in his breast, the annoyance that had been his more truly than anger when he had found that – after all this time – Loki was still alive, hiding behind the guise of their father, Thor smiled thinly. "Then why don't you explain it to me."
He came between Loki and the door, and he shut it.
Loki was looking at him intently from a few paces deeper in the room, his face white in the strange light aboard ship.
Settling on his feet, Thor folded his arms. "Well?"
Loki shook his head. "You're not going to make me do this."
"You started it." Thor prompted.
Loki's eyes flicked from the door behind Thor's back, to Thor, to the wide window that was on his right. "You said it yourself," he admitted, finally, eyes on the glass. "I'll never change." Meeting Thor's eyes he gave a wide shrug, and a thin, false smile.
Thor nodded his head. Then he took two steps forward. "That's not the whole story, I think. What is it, Loki, that you are still not telling me?"
Loki had taken a step back, farther into the room and away from Thor. "Would you have me go back farther than the last two days?" he asked bitterly.
"Stop hiding behind my words." Thor said. Then, rubbing his face with one hand, he sighed, "Loki…"
"No," Loki interrupted him.
Loki's face was white, his mouth a slash in his face. "You accused me of killing our father," he said. "You accused me of unleashing our sister on Asgard. I," his voice rose to a shout as he jabbed himself in the chest, "am the reason Asgard has fallen and out people have no home. I led our people to ruin. I," he gave a half caught-back laugh, "Father kept me in the dungeons for a year because of my crimes on Midgard. Do you remember none of that?"
Thor only watched him, his hands lowered, his brow drawn and his expression wary.
"I let the frost giants in on the day of your coronation," Loki said. "It was I who orchestrated all the greatest tragedies of your life, Thor. I faked my own death –"
All the years, Thor had not known Loki's hand in his disrupted coronation. He startled, and Loki laughed.
"Oh, so Father never told you that either?"
"Loki," Thor's hands closed into fists, "Stop this."
"I killed her." Loki said.
Thor's blood ran cold. "What?"
"As you, flew, from the front lines," Loki said. His breath came unevenly, "did you not know that if you only had a few more moments you would not be too late?"
Thor remembered. He'd woken countless times with his heart in his throat, knowing that if he had been only moments faster, he might have saved their mother. He felt the electricity run along the nerves in his arms. "Loki…" Thor's vision swam, "Loki, enough with the lies."
"Lies?" Loki laughed. "You're tired of lies?"
Taking up a chair that was the nearest thing to hand, "I told you it was enough!" Thor threw it at him.
Cold air washed over him like a door opened on a blizzard and Thor flung up one arm to shield his face. The blast lasted no more than a moment and Loki stood before him in the form of his birth, his skin dark and ridged, his eyes glowing red in the dim room.
"Everything we were raised on was a lie!" he shouted. "I told the Kursed where the Control Room was and set him on his path!" he railed. "If it hadn't been for me, you might not have been too late!"
Thor felt the electricity rise and surge only just barely within his control. It licked about him like a rising tide in his blood.
The blast burst out of him and when the light faded and Thor had blinked the last sparks out of his eyes, he found that Loki had been thrown against the far wall. He was in his own form, sprawled on the ground, his eyes dazed.
Breathing hard, Thor closed the distance between them.
Loki's chin tipped up and he looked wordlessly at Thor. His eyes were clear. Nearer, Thor could see tear-tracks on his face. Blood trickled from one nostril and he raised one hand to smear it off. He seemed startled to see that it was blood.
He was dazed more than he was injured.
"Stay here." Thor decided.
Whirling on his heel, he did not turn before he'd flung the door shut behind him.
Korg was running up to meet him from the left side of the corridor. Thor had no wish to stand and talk. His jaw set, he started off toward the right. All he had intended to do was to extend affection to his brother, after all that had befallen them. He should have expected Loki to react as perversely as he always did.
Not as he always had, Thor thought harshly, but as he always did. He didn't want to remember anymore the boy that Loki had been. Hadn't Loki told him himself that it was best to just let him go?
"I killed her."
It didn't take the Kronan more than a moment to catch up with him.
The tips of Thor's fingers buzzed with residual energy. He closed his hands into fists.
"Is…" Korg tipped forward to peer into his face, "everything all right, your majesty?"
"Yes of course," Thor growled. "Everything's fine."
"Well…" the Kronan said, "I only ask because I was down the hall, a little ways – checking supplies you understand – and from all the way over there," he gestured the direction he'd come. Thor didn't break stride or encourage the Kronan in any way. "I heard this big whoom. So I came running – you know – to make sure everything's all…hunky-dory."
"Yes," Thor gave him a tight smile. "It is."
They walked in silence down the deserted hall for nearly a minute, before Korg leaned down again. "Is," he asked, "everything hunky-dory?"
Glancing at him, Thor sighed. He decided it would be better to confide in someone, then to bear his frustration alone. "It's my brother," he admitted.
"Your brother went whoom?"
"No, I –"
"You went whoom?"
"Yes." Thor bit out.
"On your brother?"
"Yes, I –"
"I can see that he has that effect on some people."
"Yes," Thor said, half-turning to face the Kronan. Unexpected relief surged in his breast. "Exactly."
"So, what happened?"
"Well," Thor said, "I…well. He came to see me, and he was really there, which surprised me," Korg nodded understandingly, "so I hugged him, and then he got all 'oh, I killed our father', 'oh, I destroyed Asgard', 'oh, I tried to kill all your friends' – and then," Thor gave a grim chuckle. "Then, he turned himself into a frost giant,"
"Oh my God,"
"I know, right? Well, then he told me that he's responsible for both our parents' dying, so I…" Thor rubbed the back of his neck.
"You went whoom."
"Yeah," he shrugged, "sure."
They walked together in silence for several moments.
"So," Thor said, finally, "what do you think I should do?"
"Well," Korg said helpfully, "I think if you ever plan on writing that down, you should invest in a really patient editor, because you have a true problem with run-on sentences, my friend."
Thor took two steps.
"I meant," Thor said, "about Loki."
"Oh," Korg said. "Right. Sorry. It sounds to me like you're trying really hard to have a good, probably misguided, relationship with this really screwed-up brother of yours. Are you serious that he killed both your parents? And then blew up your planet?"
"Well," Thor allowed, "It was my idea, actually, to blow up the planet. You were there."
"Oh, right. 'Course I was. It's a funny story, really – because I like you and all – but I had no idea where you'd run off to and a strange aversion to blowing-up planets, and then he just pops up and told us where we were going, and there we were. Right on your…rainbow…bridge…thing-y. Before it exploded."
"And he didn't directly kill either of them. To be fair," Thor scratched his chin, "he couldn't have known how it would turn out…. With our parents," he explained, "He's not a witch…"
"But he did try to kill your friends."
The skin at the edges of his eyepatch was unused to the constant chafing of the leather. He rubbed it absently with one hand as he nodded. "Most of them."
"He seems like kind of a reserved guy."
Thor looked up at Korg's face, uncertain – as he was often made by the Kronan – if he meant the statement to be taken seriously.
Korg shrugged. "I barely know the guy. But he seems to me to be the kind to try to push all his emotions down and then, when you least expect them…"
Thor nodded his head thoughtfully. "Whoom."
"Yeah," Korg laughed, giving his shoulder a light nudge with the back of one hand, "Now you're catching on. Love to talk more, but that's Meek,"
A gadget on the Kronan's belt beeped.
"…I did leave him in kind of a sticky situation, so I'll be seeing your majesty later."
Afraid – after what experience he had with Korg – to ask what the 'sticky situation' was, Thor lifted one hand in a wave.
Thoughtfully, he walked down the hall alone. It became more populous the farther he went. Aesir bowed or greeted him reverently. He smiled and inclined his head in return, and he wondered at Korg's unexpected insights. He wondered if they might be true.
"You still don't trust me?"
"No. I wouldn't."
After a time, he came to the main room of the ship, the largest room, with its great, convex window that faced out into space.
Earth hovered – a gentle, blue spec – ahead of them.
Heimdal stood alone before the window, watching the stars.
Thor drew up behind him.
"You are troubled," Heimdal said. He did not turn around.
Stopping beside the Watchman, Thor folded his arms. He blew out a long breath. "It is only Loki." Thor said. Then, wryly, "Again."
The barest hint of a smile could be seen in the corner of Heimdal's mouth.
Thor accompanied the Guardian on his watch.
Stars and galaxies oozed by the window as they crawled through space. Thor watched them.
"While he might not have done good," Heimdal said, lowly, after some time, "during his time as king of Asgard," he turned his eyes for one moment from the stars to meet Thor's. "It is worth mentioning that neither did he any true harm."
Startled, Thor followed Heimdal's gaze back to the stars. He thought of Loki's time on the throne during his banishment on Earth, and his attempted destruction of Jotunheim. He remembered Loki's attack on Earth.
Thoughtfully, he compared them with his quite reign in Odin's stead these past years.
"It changes little," he said.
It startled him that the words, once spoken, bore a sound of reluctance.
"My sight does not carry into the hearts of men, but there is much that I do see that others do not."
Thor's temper flickered, stung by the riddles of the gatekeeper's speech. Wearily, he laid it aside. "What is it that you have seen?"
"I sought you," Heimdal said, "where you had last been sent, in Svartalfheim. But you had already gone. I found your brother, as I watched. And he was loathe to be woken and among the living."
"He," Thor faltered, "Heimdal, are you saying that he didn't fake his death?"
"Not in the beginning," Heimdal's mouth slid up a fraction in the corner visible to Thor. "Not always are the proofs there, but this was a time I was inclined to trust my eyes." Heimdal glanced from the stars for the briefest moment. "Would you see it?"
Thor frowned, "The moment he woke?"
"I can retrieve certain images, stored within the gem I carry in my breastplate. This of which we speak, amongst them. I do not show it lightly, but I would be willing should my lord, the king, ask it of me."
Thor looked out at the stars, then, grimly, he nodded his head.
"So be it."
Thor gasped as the world turned inside out. He was confronted with the arid planes of Svartalfheim. Cliffs flanked the horizon.
His heart retreated in his breast, cringing from the memory of death that haunted the place. He had to remind himself that Loki was not dead and this place should hold no more weight over him.
Abruptly, he recalled why he was here, and he turned.
He watched as Loki woke. Thor had never seen magic like that. He winced to see the pain that it inflicted on his brother. He screamed, though Thor could hear nothing. His ears were muffled with distance.
The healing left Loki collapsed and shaking in the gravel. Thor watched as he began to return to himself, to recall what had happened and to realize his situation. He saw Loki hurriedly draw his hand out of his tunic, failing to find the wound that should have taken his life. He saw despair on his face. And Thor believed for the first time since he'd learned of Loki's lie that Loki had truly wished for death on that day.
To die in battle was to gain admittance to Valhalla.
To join their mother who had only just gone before.
"Did she suffer?"
With a roar the world vanished and the stars spread before him on the far side of the glass. The sounds of the people, and of the ship, reached him as a constant hum.
"Roads lie yet before us all," Heimdal said lowly. "One will often take longer than another to find his way upon them." He turned his gaze for one moment on Thor. "Have you seen enough, my king?"
Thor nodded. He drew a long, shuddering breath. Recovering himself, he summoned a smile. "I thank you, good Heimdal," he clapped the watchman on his broad shoulder. "You are ever the wisest of my councilors."
"Wisdom is quick to see itself in any mirror," Heimdal told him. He nodded his head. A smile that was part proud, part weary spread his mouth. "You will be a wise king."
Thor shrugged. "We'll see about that."
Thor left Heimdal. He went back to his rooms, his steps certain and direct.
He opened the door to his rooms.
Part of him was surprised to find that Loki was still there.
He was in a chair toward the back of the room with one elbow on its sloped arm, staring at the far wall, with the side of his fisted hand against his mouth.
When he heard the door, he flicked a glance in Thor's direction and straightened a little without rising. He let out a long, uneasy breath.
Carefully, Thor shut the door behind him. Folding his arms, he leaned one shoulder against the doorframe. "Why didn't you leave?" he asked, finally.
Loki didn't look at him. He let his hand fall. "You…" he shook his head like he knew what he was saying was beyond belief but could think of nothing else and shrugged despondently, turning one palm up, "told me to stay."
"That hasn't stopped you," Thor pointed out, "any other time."
"No," Loki replied, more forcefully. He pushed himself upright in the chair, "No, it hasn't."
Thor felt his mouth begin to creep up in the first beginnings of a smile.
Deliberately, he removed himself from the wall. He cleared the space between them, and stopped in front of Loki. He rested both hands on the arms of the chair where Loki had no choice but to offer good view of his face. Loki kept his face turned to the wall.
"Maybe, you are capable of change," Thor allowed. "And you're just too afraid to admit it."
Loki's chin jerked up and their eyes met. Loki's glinted in the light.
"I'm sorry," he said abruptly. The tears spilled over silently onto his face.
"I know," the place behind Thor's eyes stung.
Searching Thor's face, Loki seemed to find whatever he'd been looking for. A very faint smile just began to touch his mouth.
Tipping his chin up with two fingers, Thor pressed his lips to Loki's forehead. The kiss of a king. Loki's hands came up underneath his arms and Thor pulled him to his feet so they could embrace one another properly.
And this time, neither one of them was quick to allow the moment to end.
Subtitled: In which Thor is lonely, Loki doesn't handle affection well, we decide that Thanos should just go away so Korg can go to Earth and become a therapist, Meek wins the patience test, and Heimdal is less of a jerk than he could be.
In the first draft, Korg was not there. He just happened. I laughed my ass off as I wrote it, so it stays. I will not apologize.
I'm also - unashamedly - obsessed with redemption arcs. Specifically for Loki. He might not be a hero, but I don't think he's evil. In the early versions of TDW, Loki's death was real, and I LOVE the angst of that - just the soul-crushing despair he had to feel waking up, and then the choice he had to make, between admitting to Thor that he was alive and the vulnerability of that admission, or to stay dead and work in the shadows for a while - be safe from EVERYONE who's hunting him (I mean, it's not like he has a lot of friends right then). I LOVE the regret that would have to go with that decision (assuming he cares for Thor AT ALL - which I do). (The best fic I've read yet that deals with that choice is Lady Charity's Esau and Jacob Say Their Goodbyes. Heartbreaking, but well worth the investment.)
This fic started with an image I've wanted to play with from the beginning of Loki showing Thor his Jotun form.
The last straw was Clarra-Night's The Things I Miss, The Things I Don't. It's an AMAZING story that takes place at the end of 'Ragnarok'. Definitely give it a read. She's a phenomenal writer and her handling of Thor's grief in the aftermath of that movie - and the complications of his relationship with Loki are portrayed flawlessly.
Long note aside, thanks for reading, and let me know what you think ;)