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Loki's Incredibly Busy Day

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He opened his eyes only to find out that he is in some sort of a large cave. Shadows were pooling in every crevice, every corner, and t he air was full of terrible damp smell, like mould and rot and…

Well, well, well,” said a woman’s voice behind him and he felt a shiver run down his spine. “What have we here...”

He straightened his back and turned around, facing her in the dim light that seemed to be coming out of everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Sister,” he smirked and inclined his head. Not a bow. Definitely not a bow. “I wasn’t expecting you here.”

You weren’t expecting me in my own domain?” she asked.

She looked way worse than the last time he’d seen her. She was even paler, her hair dishevelled, her clothes torn. She looked positively weak.

He wasn’t going to be fooled by her looks.

Your domain?” he frowned. “I thought… I thought I was going to Valhalla.”

Oh, really, brother?” She cocked her eyebrow in amusement. “And what made you believe that, dear Loki?”

I...” He bit his lower lip. Could this be some sort of a test? Something to prove that he’s worthy? “I died in battle. As a hero.”

You were strangled,” she smirked, “like a complete idiot. Stupid, meaningless death. I really thought you were better than this, brother. I thought you were the one to have some sort of a beautiful, elaborate plan...”

Well, I’m really sorry that I didn’t have time to think of a beautiful, elaborate plan when my worst nightmares were coming true and an unstoppable psychopath was killing my people for the second time this week!” he growled. “No offense. Sister.”

Excuses, excuses,” she laughed. “You just don’t deserve Valhalla, Loki. So welcome to Helheim and prepare yourself to spend the rest of eternity here. Well, unless...”

Unless?” he frowned. “Is there a way to reach Valhalla? Some sort of a test? A sparring match with a sweaty, smelling warrior?”

She shrugged.

And since when am I a ruler of Valhalla?” she asked. “I’m not. I’m a ruler of Helheim. And the Goddess of Death.”

Loki narrowed his eyes.

Death… and the dead,” he murmured. “And your realm is a place where the dead go to. Oh, of course. Thanos, right?”

He has a plan that will wipe out half of a universe,” Hela said. “Trillions of lives ended in a second. Do you understand what it means?”

It means that if he succeeds, you will suddenly have quite a few subjects. My queen.” This time, he gave her a mocking bow. “And this place will become pretty crowded. Where are you keeping your other dead, by the way? I can’t be the only one.”

You are the only one I wanted to talk to,” she said with a tiny, bloodthirsty smile. “I have a deal for you, brother.”

Loki gave her the exact copy of that smile.

I’m listening.”

 

And then I woke up only to find out I’m floating through space. My neck hurt, I couldn’t breathe… But I realized that I am right next to The Commodore, beautifully, wonderfully intact… The ship, I mean, not me. Well, both of us, actually. So I hopped in and here I am, but the ship’s nearly out of fuel, there’s barely enough to run the systems for a few hours and when they fail, I’ll run out of oxygen and I’d rather not suffocate here and die again, so… help?”

Thor blinked at his brother’s slightly transparent clone. He couldn’t believe his…

Wait,” Loki said. “How did you get a new eye?”

Thor really couldn’t believe his eyes. It was Loki. Incredibly pale, with ugly dark bruises around his throat, visibly shaking, but very much alive.

Brother...” Thor whispered.

Yeah, yeah, we’ve been through this,” Loki said, rolling his eyes. “I have just explained. Please, don’t make me repeat it, because this ship isn’t the only thing that’s running out of fuel. I’m tired, Thor. Even breathing hurts. My magic hurts. Just… please tell me you can come for me.”

Brother, if I find out that this is another of your tricks...” Thor growled.

Whatever,” Loki shrugged. “Just throw me into a supernova, as you wish. Anything but throttling me to death. I can tell you that’s not my favorite way to die.”

The clone closed his eyes, clearly exhausted. It occurred to Thor that it was very strange for Loki’s copy to reflect the actual physical state of its creator. His brother’s clones were usually perfect, with not even a hair out of place…

But then of course, Loki was probably only concentrating on projecting himself across half of the galaxy.

What was Hela’s deal, Loki?” he asked.

Loki smirked.

You and Odin to torture for the rest of the eternity.”

What?!” The air was suddenly full of tiny electrical sparks. Loki’s image wavered, but not before rolling its eyes.

Oh, calm down, you oaf. I’d rather stay dead. That’s actually what I told her, I’d rather stay dead. I also told her I was fully expecting to spend the rest of eternity among a bunch of sweaty, smelly warriors, so even if her realm fills up with souls of trillions of dead, it will actually be an improvement. I told her that if she just brings me back to life, I will make sure she gets rid of them. She tried to refuse, but when you lot screwed up and they started showing up… She stood no chance.”

And that’s all?” Thor frowned. “Forgive me if I don’t believe you.”

Any deal we may have,” Loki sighed, “it doesn’t concern you. You are safe. Father’s soul is safe. There’s no risk to Asgard or the universe. Trust me. It’s just a little… favor.”

Trusting you isn’t always the best idea, brother,” Thor sighed.

Perhaps,” Loki shrugged. “You won’t know until you save me.”

If I do, will you help me stop Thanos and repair the damage he’s done?”

Thor. He killed me and utterly destroyed the collar of my armor. I am going after him whether you help me or not.”

 

It was a perfect morning in Thanos’s new (perfect) realm. The sun was shining (perfectly), everything was (perfectly) nice and peaceful…

Just as he had always imagined.

He stood in front of his (perfect) house and watched his kingdom with well-deserved pride.

And then the Bifrost suddenly opened right before him and all the perfect was gone.

Thanos growled, but waited. If the Asgardian idiot wants to get killed so desperately, well, Thanos might just grant him his wish – but he will do it on his own terms.

The rainbow lights disappeared and of course that Thor was standing there, axe in hand.

Thanos,” he said. “I have come to avenge my brother’s death.”

Again?” Thanos asked.

Well, they say third time’s a charm or something,” Thor shrugged.

Didn’t it occur to you,” Thanos sighed, “that it might be a better idea to come in secret and try to kill me in my sleep? How did you find me, anyway, little god?”

You realize that gauntlet of yours is like a beacon for anyone at least slightly magic-sensitive, yes?” Thor asked. “And trust me, I am. After a few hundred years of Loki’s magical traps… I had to learn.”

Thanos closed his eyes briefly. He just wanted to enjoy his moment of victory. Did this stupid godling have to come and ruin it?

You must have truly loved him,” he said. “What a shame he felt nothing but hate for you, even in his last moments.”

The air grew thick with electricity. Thanos could hear thunder, but the sky was still clear.

Liar,” Thor growled.

You can ask him when you meet him in your afterlife,” Thanos grinned. “Now, do you want to fight me or not?”

Well, technically… No, I don’t,” Thor said.

Thanos blinked.

Excuse me?”

Oh, where do I begin… All right, you must understand one thing. I didn’t want to say what I am going to say right now, but he made me do it.”

He?”

Thor shrugged.

Yeah. I’m really, really sorry, but...” There was a flash of green light and Thor’s bearded face changed into Loki’s clean-shaved one. “BLEURGH, IT’S ME!”

And then Thanos felt a sharp stab in his abdomen. He looked down. Then up again, as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

And he laughed.

You are just like Stark,” he said, prying the knife out of his wound. “I don’t know how you came back to life and I don’t want to know. But did you really think you could kill me?”

Oh, no,” Loki grinned, shaking his head. “I know I cannot. He on the other hand...”

Before Thanos could even think about it, he followed Loki’s gaze – which meant turning around, as the god was currently staring somewhere to the Titan’s left .

The next thing Thanos saw was Thor, the real one, who grinned at him, and the next thing was the gleam of his axe.

You told me I should have gone for the head,” Thor said to the body that tumbled to the ground in two neatly separated pieces. “You can’t say I don’t learn from my mistakes.”

Loki nodded, wiping blood from his eyes with his free hand.

You know, I like this weapon way better than your stupid hammer,” he said. “Just look at it. You have a body and a head. Much nicer than a body with a mess of blood and skull and brain tissue on top, isn’t it?”

Well, it was you who always complained about being covered in blood.”

No, I complained about being covered in blood and pieces of skull and brain tissue, because those are impossible to get out of your hair,” Loki smirked.

Like you would know. You just wiggle your fingers...”

That’s not entirely true, but...” Loki frowned at the dead body. “Let’s finish this conversation later, brother, because we have more important things to do. Like finding that gauntlet of his.”

True,” Thor nodded. “It would be unwise to leave it here for any power-hungry madman to grab.”

Oh, yes. Very unwise.”

Thor rolled his eyes and swung his axe. It went straight through Loki’s body – with a tiny golden flash and absolutely no resistance. The illusion grinned, shrugged and disappeared.

LOKI!” Thor growled, just as his brother himself walked out of Thanos’s little hut, holding a gauntlet in his hands – or the blackened remains of one.

I believe it looked better the last time I saw it,” he frowned. “Do you think it will still work?”

Are you suggesting we should use it?”

Are you suggesting we should not? And if we should not, then why, pray tell, did we just kill Thanos?”

To… get revenge?” Thor said, a little uncertain.

Revenge. Cute,” Loki smirked. “Tell me, brother. Do you trust me?”

Always,” Thor replied, without a moment of hesitation.

Loki uttered a tiny laugh before he could stop himself.

No matter how many times it will prove to be an absolutely horrible idea?”

Well… I’m waiting for the one time when it will turn out to be the right decision,” Thor shrugged. “Besides, there’s no Tesseract for you to steal now, is there?”

True,” Loki whispered. “Are you ready?”

For your inevitable betrayal?”

Idiot,” said Loki, his eyes sparkling. Then he closed them and slipped the glove on his hand.

The next second he gasped, a wide grin spreading on his face. He flexed his fingers, moaning softly.

Uhm… Loki?”

Shut up. Oh, this feels good. I didn’t expect it would feel so good.” The grin grew wild and hungry. Loki opened his eyes, bright and shining with inner light. “All that power at my command...”

Oh, fantastic,” Thor muttered. “Please don’t tell me I have to kill you too.”

Loki shook his head, the light in his eyes diminishing. He laughed.

As if you ever could, especially just after getting me back. But don’t worry, my dearest brother. I have everything under control.”

And can you… use it?” Thor asked, nodding in the general direction of the gauntlet, which suddenly gained back its original gold color. “Ah. You can.”

It would seem so,” Loki murmured, licking his lips. “And it feels amazing. I can do anything with a mere snap of my-”

Don’t!” Thor yelled.

Loki blinked, clearly surprised by his brother’s completely unexpected and sudden reaction.

Excuse me?” he said.

Whatever you do, just… don’t snap, right? That’s what he did,” Thor said, nodding towards Thanos’s headless body and bodiless head. “When he did it. He snapped his fingers. So it kind of… brings bad memories.”

Loki grinned.

Oh, does it now?”

You are going to snap with every spell now, aren’t you?” Thor sighed.

Of course not!” Loki actually sounded offended by the idea. “What a terrible brother I would be if I did! Now shut up, because I have to concentrate. Where was I? Oh, yes, I can do anything. So I can bring back everyone the giant space raisin killed.”

Loki...”

Shush. Concentrating.”

Loki closed his eyes again. Thor watched him slowly waving his fingers in complicated gestures. Thor knew they weren’t needed for the gauntlet to work, but he supposed it was a habit for Loki. His brother had spent centuries using gestures to cast his spells, so why should he stop now?

It was definitely better than snapping.

Thor wasn’t sure if anything was really happening. Everything looked just the same to him. Was Loki really saving the universe, or was he just showing off?

Then his brother took in a deep breath and opened his eyes again.

Done. Everyone this gauntlet killed is alive again. As is everyone who was killed during Thanos’s hunt for the Stones. Oh, wait a minute.”

The massive body of the universe’s wannabe savior dissolved in a puff of green smoke .

Loki! What have you done?!”

Oh, just… scattered him all across the universe,” Loki shrugged. “In about… a million pieces or so.”

Oh. I suppose that he deserved it.” All of a sudden, Thor frowned, as if something occurred to him. “Wait. Could you… also restore Nidavellir? He destroyed it in order to get the gauntlet. But I got my new axe there, so… Please?”

You know I hate the dwarfs,” Loki sighed.

Yes. That’s why I said ‘please’. Please, brother?”

Loki snapped his fingers. Thor growled.

Done,” said Loki. “Anything else?”

Thor bit his lower lip.

You said that everyone Thanos had killed during his hunt for the Stones is alive. Does it mean...”

Hush now. We really should go find your dear friend Stark. You said he was missing and Thanos mentioned fighting him. I should think it means they fought on another planet. And we don’t want Stark wandering through the universe just like that, do we?”

I… suppose so?” Thor blinked. “But Loki...”

Loki smiled at his brother… And snapped.

Chapter Text

Tony Stark was furiously working on the blue girl’s (Nebula, she was called Nebula) spaceship in a pretty much vain attempt to make it fly again (at least enough to get them from this goddamned planet!), when he felt something change.

Nebula was currently cursing silently and kicking every innocent stone in her vicinity, when she felt pretty much the same thing.

Both turned their head just as the first person appeared, seemingly out of thin air.

Tony dropped the nanobotic screwdriver when he realized…

Peter,” he breathed out.

Alive. Apparently confused. But alive. Not dust. Alive and not dust.

Peter!” Tony yelled. He didn’t even realize he was running before he stopped before the boy (still confused, but alive) and wrapped him in a tight, tight embrace.

H-hey, Mr. Stark,” the boy muttered. “I...”

If you say you don’t feel so good again, I swear to god...

Oh. Then I guess… I’m okay. My rib might have cracked, though. Just… a little.”

Tony laughed. He couldn’t help it.

God, I thought I’d never see you again. I thought… I thought...”

I’m fine,” Peter muttered. “I swear I’m fine. Mr. Stark...”

Before Tony could reply, though, they heard another voice.

So you have done it?”

Tony reluctantly let go of Peter and turned to the only mildly confused Doctor Strange. Oh. So the fucker knew they were coming back. Well, thanks for the warning.

The Guardians were back, too, and all of them were looking at him, completely silent. Even Quill. The death must have been a real shock for him.

I haven’t done anything,” he said. “You were only… gone a few hours. What was I supposed to do? There wasn’t even enough time-”

You haven’t...” Now he was confused. Good for him. “No. No, that’s wrong. I saw… every possible future. This was the only one where we win. The only possible one. But...”

Perhaps there was another future,” said another new voice. “One that was impossible when you looked, but it sort of… changed later? Like when my sister brought me back to life. I must admit, that was a bit of a surprise, even for me.”

Tony would have laughed at the expression of utter and complete shock on Doctor Strange’s face, if only he didn’t recognize the voice. It had been a long time since he heard it, but he knew it instantly.

As I said, Thor,” the voice continued and Tony finally turned his head to its source. “Your friend is here. Hello, Stark. Oh, and hello, sorcerer,” Loki, who looked much more cheerful than the last time Tony saw him, grinned and raised his left hand to wave at Strange.

Hand… Wait.

The Gauntlet!” the sorcerer yelled, once again summoning those weird golden circles of his and aiming his hands at Loki.

Tony sighed. He was too tired for this, he had no energy left to try to defeat another lunatic…

Of course, this was the moment Thor decided to get involved. And holy hell, when did he get rid of his hair and why was he holding that massive axe?

Don’t worry, my friend!” he told Strange. “It’s all right. Loki has mended his ways, he is with us now! And he is using the Gauntlet with my permission!”

You have given that madman a permission-” Strange started.

All right, I’ve had enough of you,” Loki said and with a tiny gesture of his hand, Strange was suddenly gone. Tony gulped. He didn’t like the guy much, but hey, when somebody gives their life for you…

Please,” Thor sighed. “Tell me that you at least sent him back to Earth.”

It’s horribly boring to be a good guy,” Loki said. “But yes, I did. The Arctic. Not very pleasant, true, but I suppose he will be able to get back home. And I won’t have to listen to his horrible whining.”

Thor grinned, his whole face lightening up. It looked like he’d swallowed a light bulb, and just because his crazy little brother had sent the sorcerer to Earth instead of killing him. Talk about low standards.

Tony had to admit it probably was an improvement, though.

Right,” he nodded. “Good boy, Reindeer Games. Now, could one of you explain, what’s going on? Because I must admit I’m a bit lost here. You have the gauntlet, so Thanos is...”

Defeated. Dead. Body scattered across the universe. Utterly, completely gone with no chance of resurrection unless I decide to resurrect him… And believe me, I won’t. The only thing I regret is that Thor had the pleasure of killing him, but well, he is the one wielding a giant Thanos-killing axe.”

Brother! Your help was vital to the plan!”

Naturally, since it was my plan to start with,” Loki shrugged. “But...”

But you swore to kill him yourself one day,” said a woman’s voice and Loki’s eyes went wide.

Nebula?!” he gasped and turned to the blue girl, who had went unnoticed for the past few minutes.

Hello, Loki,” she smiled.

Star Lord blinked.

W-wait. I need a moment,” he said. “You two know each other? And more importantly, who the hell are you?!”

My friend! This is Loki,” Thor said before Loki could even open his mouth. “My dead brother! Hello, by the way. I am glad to see you alive.”

Dead… Right,” Star Lord nodded. “Yeah, and hi. Nice to see you, too. Now back to your not-so-dead brother knowing Nebula...”

We became acquainted during my, uhm… stay with her dear late purple father,” Loki said, biting his lower lip. That was a nervous gesture Tony wouldn’t quite expect of him.

He means when Thanos was torturing him to force him to attack Earth and get the Space Stone,” Nebula said.

Right. That explained everything. Or at least most things. At least the lip-biting thing. And the invasion. Sorta.

And so you swore to kill him?” Tony heard himself saying. “I’d tell you to get in the fucking line-”

That is what I told him. Apparently, he didn’t listen,” Nebula smirked. “Please, at least tell me it was slow and painful.”

A quick decapitation. I’m sorry,” Loki sighed. “We couldn’t let him try anything. The last time Thor decided to play with him instead of killing him straight away, it didn’t end well.”

Thor nearly jumped when Loki snapped the fingers of his right hand.

Do you really have to do that?!” he growled.

Yes,” Loki smirked. “Now where were we? Oh, right. We have the Gauntlet, or precisely, I, Loki have the Gauntlet. I reversed what Thanos did, brought everyone back, and also everyone he killed while he was searching for the Stones in the first place. Well, except one, but only because I still needed the Soul Stone, so I couldn’t release her just yet. Luckily, she agreed to help me, so I didn’t have to kill Thor. That would have been unfortunate.”

Wait!” Star Lord snapped. “Who are you talking about? Are you talking about Gamora? Is… Is he talking about Gamora? What do you mean you couldn’t release her?!”

Just yet,” Nebula said. “What do you mean by that?”

I mean,” Loki sighed. “That I have no idea if the Soul Stone would keep its powers if I released her from it. And the price of the Soul Stone is the life of a person you love. And as much as I hate to admit it, for me, it would mean… Oh, stop grinning like that, brother. Don’t make me regret this!”

The important question,” Nebula said, “is if you can release her now.”

Re...lease,” Quill said. “Wait. Does that mean he can bring her back?!”

I really have no idea what she sees in you,” Nebula growled. “Yes, obviously he can bring her back! Loki?”

If I may,” Tony suddenly said. “And I’m aware you will probably kill me just for suggesting it, so if they do, Reindeer Games, please, bring me back, thanks a lot. But I think that if there’s a risk the… thing won’t work when Gamora is released from the Stone or whatever, we should… head back to Earth first. See what needs to be done. I mean… if there’s anything we might need the Gauntlet for. And to decide what to do about it in the first place. Just in case. Not that I want to use it, hell no, the only thing I want is to never have to see it again, but… others might not share this sentiment.”

I assure you that they do,” Thor said. “But I agree with you. We should make the decision together. Then Loki can release the trapped girl.”

Yeah, but is it like… safe?” asked Peter, trying to hide behind Tony a little bit and definitely not looking Loki in the face, no sir. “I mean, this is Loki. The New York Loki, right? Should he really be the one keeping the glove for now? Shouldn’t we perhaps… give it to the wizard or someone like that?”

Wizard?” Loki growled, slowly raising his left hand. “Do you mean that wannabe sorcerer, boy? The one I just-”

All right, all right, everybody calm down,” Tony said, raising his voice. “Loki, if you send Peter to some crazy place on Earth, I will kick your royal ass, Gauntlet or not. So don’t. Peter, it’s okay. He’s had the Gauntlet for like… fifteen minutes already. Maybe twenty. If he really wanted to enslave humankind, he would have already done it. Well... I think. That’s what I would do. I definitely wouldn’t go save my brother’s stupid friends.”

Maybe I just want you to witness the ultimate destruction of your beloved planet. To see it crumble and fall apart...”

Loki. Enough,” Thor sighed, making Loki turn to look at him. Thor’s face was dark, not with anger, but with simple, raw sadness.

What?” Loki asked. “Do you think the joke was too much for your dear friend? Or does it make you miss Asgard too much?”

Loki...”

Yes, I know. It had to be done, Asgard is not a place, it’s a people, blah, blah, blah,” said Loki, rolling his eyes. “It’s a nice sentiment, I must say. But personally, I think it would be much better to have both.”

Thor looked round himself, frowning. There was no one else talking, no one demanding an explanation about Asgard (and surely Tony would…?). No one moving an inch. They all looked like statues.

Loki? What have you done this time?”

Nothing permanent, don’t worry. Merely stopped time. Well, time on this wretched planet, anyway. They don’t need to know we are going to be gone for a few moments, do they?”

Gone?” Thor blinked. “Where are we going?”

Loki rolled his eyes.

Where do you think, you big oaf? I told you...”

 

...the sun would shine on us again.”

Thor blinked once again, this time to give his eyes (well, eye) a chance to get used to the sudden change of scenery.

Because they most definitely weren’t on Titan anymore. They were in a place Thor knew all too well. They were standing, side by side, on one of many balconies of the royal palace, looking down at Asgard.

Asgard .

Beautiful as ever, with no single sign of its former destruction, and bathing in the light of a bright morning sun.

Loki,” Thor gasped. “What have you done?”

Kept my promise. For the first time in my life, most likely,” Loki smiled. “How do you like it, my king?”

For a few moments, Thor found himself unable to speak. A tear was stinging in his eye and his throat felt impossibly tight.

But… how?”

Loki rolled his eyes, clearly deeming the question unworthy of his answer.

Thor gave up pretending and let the tear roll down his face.

And… the people?”

Oh, yes,” Loki said. “I brought back everyone in all the realms but I completely forgot my own people.”

I… I mean...” Thor didn’t want to say it out loud. He didn’t want to know the answer.

You mean to ask if I brought back every survivor of Hela’s madness, or… everyone?” Loki leaned on the balcony’s rail. “Asgard is the same as it was before our dearest sister showed up here. Everyone lives, including your beloved friends. Well, I made a few… minor adjustments, but other than that...”

Minor adjustments?” Thor frowned.

I think that as Asgard’s savior, I deserve to be properly recognized, don’t I?” Loki smirked.

Properly… Loki, you already have a giant golden statue right in the middle of-”

Yes. It is a little bigger now.”

Oh, dear.”

There is also a smaller one in the throne room.”

What have I ever done to deserve this?”

And I have an idea for a new play… Thor, what are you doing? Thor, let go of me. Thor!”

Despite all his protests, Loki found himself wrapped in his brothers tight and incredibly strong embrace, Thor’s face buried into Loki’s shoulder, his fingers digging into Loki’s flesh as if he wanted to make sure his brother was real and not going anywhere.

I’m glad you are back,” Thor murmured softly. “I’m glad you are not dead, Loki. I thought that this time, I’d lost you for good.”

Loki took a deep breath and considered resisting, but in the end he decided to just relax into his brother’s embrace.

Don’t worry, you big oaf,” he muttered. “You won’t get rid of me so easily.”

I love you too, brother,” Thor whispered. “I love you too.”

And if this wasn’t all that Loki had wanted for the past years…

Oh, and by the way,” he said, unable to bear the hug any longer. It was way too sweet for him. At least he told himself so. “Your dear friend Valkyrie is here, too. Probably in the first tavern she could find. If you see her, please, convince her not to kill me for bringing her here, will you?”

I will,” Thor laughed, finally letting Loki go. “And thank you. Shouldn’t we… go back to my friends?”

Thor. We have all the time in the universe,” Loki said, rolling his eyes. “Shouldn’t you… make some arrangements, first? Don’t forget that you are a king now. And Asgard has been back for less than an hour. Your people should know they’re not alone.”

I am a king?” Thor frowned.

Yes?” Loki said. “Has Thanos managed to damage your brain and memory? Hello, saving your people from Hela, escaping on a spaceship, you sitting on a throne… Yes, you are a king, brother.”

I remember that. I just thought that your… minor adjustments...

What, that I made myself king? No, thank you, I have had enough. Besides, I just died and came back to life, I deserve some… time off, as Midgardians would say. You are Father’s heir. Enjoy it.”

Thor nodded and sighed.

In that case, I think… we should find Heimdall.”

An excellent idea,” Loki nodded.

The next moment, everything around him froze, just as it did on Titan. But this time, even his brother stood completely still.

But I need to visit someone else, first,” Loki muttered and promptly disappeared.

 

The cave was bigger this time. And kind of nicer. Definitely way less mouldy.

Back already?” asked Hela’s voice.

I am not dead and you know it, dear sister,” he smirked.

Careful, because it might change quickly.”

Of course. Forgive me,” he said, bowing to her mockingly.

What do you want, Loki?” she sighed, rolling her eyes. “I told you to never come back unless you’re dead, didn’t I?”

Oh, yes. Right after I told you that I am not Odin’s true son, but merely a Jotun runt he found in a temple in Jotunheim. It seemed to… distress you.”

Are you here to inquire about my mental health?”

I don’t think there’s much need for that. It’s probably just as bad as mine,” he laughed. “No. No, I just wanted to make sure that you consider my debt paid. I kept my promise. I brought everyone back to life. I granted you the ability to control this whole realm, not just the dead people. Well, except for being able to create a way out, sorry about that. I even threw in an extra gift...”

Fenris,” she nodded, smiling fondly. “Thank you for him.”

Don’t mention it. All I want is your word that we’re even now. I want to be sure you won’t show up one day and demand payment for resurrecting me. I want to know I can… live my life as I wish.”

We are even,” she said. “There are no debts between us.”

Very good,” he smiled. “In that case, I suppose I will leave you to… enjoy your realm. Goodbye. My queen.”

Goodbye. Loki.”

He closed his eyes, focusing on returning to exactly the same moment he had left (he would have to go back, un-stop time and get them to Heimdall immediately, as if he had never left), when he heard her voice again.

And if you ever do want to stop by – before you die, I mean – feel free to. Especially if you happen to have any amusing gossip about my brother.”

I will keep that in mind,” Loki muttered without opening his eyes.

The next second, he was gone.

Chapter Text

Everything happened so fast afterwards.

Bring Thor to Heimdall. Let him issue some orders. Resist the urge to issue your own orders, because that man seriously needs to learn how to rule, damn it.

Then take Thor back to his friends. Take him and his friends back to Midgard. Wakanda, precisely.

Resist the urge to laugh. The chaos there is not funny. (But isn’t it really?)

Stand back while the old Avengers and all their new allies (stupid sorcerer included, unfortunately – he clearly was able to find his way from the Arctic) argue what should and shouldn’t be done about the Gauntlet.

The only thing Loki wanted was to find the nearest bed, no matter who it belonged to, and sleep for the next few days. He was exhausted. He realized it the moment he took off the Gauntlet. (Or did he just become exhausted once he did it? He wasn’t sure. He wasn’t sure of anything. He wanted to sleep .) Still, he was forced to stand there in the corner, pretend to pay attention and give his opinions.

His opinion was that they definitely shouldn’t destroy all the Stones as almost everyone suggested, but it was not an opinion they wanted to hear, so they ignored it.

His opinion was that if they were to destroy a S tone, it should be the Time one, since it was able to reverse the destruction of all the other s . It was not an opinion the sorcerer wanted to hear and the only thing that saved Loki from being suffocated by a very angry red cloak was Tony Stark’s voice commanding Strange to kindly control his pet outerwear.

His opinion was that the discussion could definitely wait until the next morning, as it was highly unlikely they would be visited by another madman who wants to wipe out half of the universe. It seemed that Thor was inclined to agree with him, but no one else was willing to listen.

So Loki stood there. And waited. And thought they were all just a bunch of idiots.

“You really don’t think we should destroy them?” said a voice by his side, just as he was watching Doctor Strange argue about the importance of his precious Time Stone.

Loki turned his head to see Tony Stark handing him a giant mug of black coffee.

“Thank you,” Loki muttered and took the mug.

“You looked like you needed it.” Tony smirked, nodding towards the main group, where the Gauntlet was pretty unceremoniously lying on a table where Loki had dropped it. Almost as if everyone was kind of afraid to touch it. “So? You really don’t think we should?”

“I can see the point of getting rid of them,” Loki sighed. “But the way I see it, you would be getting rid of a strategic advantage. Something you could use to get rid of potential enemies without too many casualties. Can you imagine what would have happened in New York if you had had one of the Stones and someone capable of using it properly? Just one would have been enough to make me regret ever setting a foot on your precious planet.”

“Really?” Tony frowned. “Which one?”

“It doesn’t matter. They’re all incredibly strong.”

“Yeah? And didn’t you have two of them back there? Just asking.”

If looks could kill, Tony Stark’s death would be almost instant, but probably also agonizingly painful. You can squeeze lots and lots of pain into a single second. At least that was what Loki’s eyes told Tony.

And Tony was really grateful that Loki had already taken the Gauntlet off.

“I was… not myself during the invasion,” Loki said, his voice cold as ice. “I wasn’t able to fully control them. I was under the influence of the Scepter, drunk on the Tesseract’s power…”

“Wait. Under the influence...” Tony started, but Loki shook his head.

“Thank you for the coffee, Stark. It’s really good. And you were right. I needed it.”

“You’re welcome, sweetheart. Can’t have the savior of the universe fall asleep on his feet.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have a doughnut for your savior, too?”

“A doughnut?” Tony blinked.

“A muffin would also do, but I prefer doughnuts,” Loki shrugged. “I’m hungry. Starving, actually. I haven’t eaten since my resurrection. And for quite a few hours before my death.”

“Right. That’s bad. I’ll see what I can do,” Tony nodded.

Loki was just opening his mouth to thank him, when he was cut off by the voice of Steve Rogers.

“Excuse me,” the voice said. “But are you discussing something more important than the fate of the universe?”

“I am deeply sorry, Captain,” Loki said, smiling politely, but the smile never reached his eyes. “I was merely asking Stark for some food, as I am starving to death. To death, Thor,” he added with a glance towards his brother.

Who, as Tony noticed, went slightly pale and asked T’Challa to have food brought in immediately. Tony had to fight the urge to start laughing. Loki definitely knew how to get what he wanted.

“Wonderful. The universe is at stake and you talk about food,” Steve sighed.

“No. Sorry, Cap, but the universe is not at stake,” Tony said. “The universe was at stake. The universe went to hell. And it was saved. Everything is fine now. We’re just trying to decide what to do with those stupid Stones. And I’ve already said I wanted them destroyed forever, because we know that hiding them just doesn’t work.”

“And I have already said,” Loki added, “that we should destroy the Time Stone, so that-”

“That is not an option,” Strange growled.

Loki sighed. This was going to be a very long night.

 

In the end, they came to a decision and Loki wanted to scream. Human stupidity. Fucking human stupidity.

Of course that they would destroy them all. Of course that they wouldn’t take the opportunity lying within their reach and begging them to take it.

(“It’s like with Boromir and the Ring, you know,” Stark had said. “Yes, technically speaking you could use it against your enemies, but it’s just not worth it.”)

Loki wanted to scream, but when they asked him to free Gamora from the Soul Stone, he took the Gauntlet without a single comment and did what they wanted.

Then he took the Gauntlet off once again (because evidently, he couldn’t be trusted to wish it out of existence) and placed it on a table, complaining that it’s interfering with his own magic. He shook off the tiny green sparks from his fingertips.

He briefly considered running away, because he really didn’t want to see it, but in the end he decided to stay.

At least the stupid sorcerer also seemed affected by the decision. He definitely didn’t want to see his precious Stone destroyed.

Loki sighed and closed his eyes when the one they called Scarlet Witch raised her hand to perform the spell.

“It really is for the best,” said a voice next to him. “Please, don’t go all vengeful god on us, I’m just starting to think you might be a good guy.”

“Oh, really?” Loki smirked, opening his eyes and focusing on the man next to him. “You or the beast, Banner?”

“Both?” Bruce tried. “Come on, Loki. Stay calm. Breathe in, breathe out. Would you like a nice cup of melissa tea? It’s good for your nerves.”

“Thank you, but I have already had a coffee.” Loki sighed again. “And don’t worry, dear doctor. I promised my brother to be nice. Well, or at least pretend to be nice.”

“Yeah, Thor told me so. You’re really good at pretending, I’d like to say. He said something about Asgard being restored, everyone alive...”

“That’s a part of the plan, actually,” Loki smirked. “Lull my brother into a false sense of security, then attack. He will never see it coming. I’ve used this tactic only, uhm…”

“Like a hundred times?” Bruce laughed.

“Probably,” Loki smiled. “All right, I might have made a little mistake. I should have left Asgard in ruins and Mjölnir in pieces...”

“You’ve restored his hammer, too?” Bruce whispered. “What did he say?”

“Nothing. He doesn’t know it yet,” Loki shrugged. “It’s waiting for him in the throne room. He should notice it when he comes back to Asgard, but you know Thor, he’s not the sharpest sword in the armory...”

“I was right,” Bruce said, placing his hand on Loki’s shoulder. “You are a good guy.”

Loki merely turned his head and glared at Bruce’s hand until Bruce removed it and made a hasty escape.

And only then he smiled to himself.

 

Several hours later, Tony was standing in his makeshift lab in the far corner of Shuri’s currently deserted workshop. Technically, it wasn’t even a lab. Just a quiet place he was given to look at the readings of the Gauntlet and the Stones.

(“Why do you need that?” Shuri had asked. “It’s all gone now, there is no reason to-”

As if you’re not gonna take a look,” he said. “Come on. I’m a scientist, too. I don’t care it’s all destroyed, I want to examine it, I want to understand.”

All right. As you wish,” she shrugged. “Tell me if you find anything interesting.”)

And he did find something really interesting. Shame that he was definitely not going to tell her. Nope. Definitely not.

In fact, he wasn’t going to tell anyone.

Especially not Thor.

“I have news, boss,” said a quiet voice in a little earpiece he was wearing.

“Listening,” Tony murmured, as quietly as possible.

“It seems that Captain’s quinjet has just been stolen.”

“Oh. Really?” Tony smirked.

“Yes, boss. It seems the system was overridden by a burst of energy of unknown origin-”

“It’s fine. Just say magic.”

“As you wish. Magic.”

“Where is it now?” asked Tony, flicking his gaze towards the door.

“It has just left Wakanda, boss.”

“Right. Be a dear and find me the nearest open window,” Tony muttered, already tapping his arc reactor to activate the nanobots and suit up. “We’ve got a god to catch.”

 

All right, more like to catch up with. Tony had no real intention to actually capture Loki. He just wanted some answers. And then Loki was free to go wherever he wanted. Really.

Just a few answers and then he was Thor’s problem once again. And speaking of Thor…

“Friday, does anyone know Loki’s gone? Except me, of course,” he added before his AI could give him one of her smartass replies.

“No, boss. It looks like everyone is under the impression the quinjet is still where it should be. Even the people who walked into the empty hangar seem to… see the jet that’s not there.”

“Fuck you and your illusions, Loki,” Tony smirked. “And the radar? Come on, an aircraft leaves their airspace and they don’t notice? I thought Wakanda was supposed to be technologically advanced.”

“It is, boss. But probably not as advanced as Loki’s magic.”

“Then how do we know he’s gone?” Tony frowned.

“Because I’m more advanced than Loki’s magic, of course.” And Tony swore he could actually hear the smirk in her voice.

“Right,” he said. “So do you have any idea where is he headed?”

“Europe.”

“Could you be a tiny bit more specific?” Tony sighed. It had been thirty minutes since he left Wakanda. He could have caught up with the quinjet a hundred times, but he didn’t. He was curious. He desperately wanted to know what is Loki up to. That was absolutely the only reason he had for hesitating.

“Sorry, boss, I can’t read his mind.”

“Damn,” Tony muttered. “Let me guess, you will be able to give me a better answer once we get closer to Europe?”

“Exactly.”

“Fine. I’ll be waiting.”

Then he focused on keeping the safe distance between him and Loki’s jet.

Just out of curiosity, of course…

 

Two hours later, just as he was trying not to think about a horrible cramp in his left leg, Tony got an unexpected call from the quinjet.

Unexpected, because even though he was pretty sure that Loki probably knew about Tony following him, Tony would never have thought Reindeer Games would actually try to communicate. But Loki did.

“Please, tell me, Stark,” Loki said, drawing out every syllable. For some reason, Tony immediately started to feel like a little mouse who tried to be clever and sneak up on a cat, only to find the cat waiting for it with its claws drawn and a hungry expression in its face. “Are you going to stalk me to my destination in your silly metal suit...”

Oh, fuck, Tony thought. This is not good.

“...or would you rather come in and sit down in your normal clothes?”

Oh FUCK, Tony thought again, bud louder.

“Uhm,” he managed to say. “I’m not following you, actually. You just happen to be heading in the same direction.”

“Oh,” Loki said with an audible smirk. “And what exactly is your destination, may I ask?”

“Spain,” Tony replied without the slightest hesitation. “I’m gonna take a few days off. Sunbathing, swimming, drinking colorful cocktails with those little umbrellas, you know the drill.”

“Are you really?”

“Yeah. After this shitstorm, I really need a break.”

“And some sex on the beach?”

“Please, tell me you’re talking about the cocktail.”

“Wouldn’t that be incredibly boring?” Loki laughed. “Seriously, Stark. Come in.”

“Uhm, no, thanks, I’m good.”

“Stark.”

“I’d rather not spend a few hours trapped in an enclosed space with a crazy god who’s already tried to kill me once.”

“I’ve told you I was not myself during the invasion. And I only did it because you were mocking me. If you refrain from questioning my virility again, you should be safe.”

“Oh, so I can’t say you only keep stealing the Tesseract because you probably have a really small-”

“Should I remind you that this… quinjet of yours is armed? And even though the weapons are not deadly, they certainly sting.”

“Uhm, actually, I think they’re pretty deadly if you’re not a mighty alien godling.”

“Are they? I will keep that in mind.”

Tony sighed. His left leg was killing him, his neck was getting pretty stiff and he was tired and definitely not in the mood to spend the next few hours in his suit if there was a perfectly good chance to get out of it.

Besides, Loki knew he was there. There was no point in hiding anymore.

“All right. Let’s say I might have been following you…”

 

When Tony got into the quinjet and out of the suit, he really tried not to seem too nervous. This wasn’t like New York. Not at all. For three reasons.

Reason number one: There were no windows nearby.

Reason number two: Tony’s nanotech suit only needed seconds to fully form around his body. No delays, no need to deploy it. Quick, effective. And Tony’s vital organs could be protected within a heartbeat.

Reason number three: Loki was currently sprawled in the pilot seat, sipping a bright green cocktail through a straw. A cocktail decorated with a tiny neon pink umbrella.

“And where the hell did you get that?” Tony asked, pointing at the cocktail.

“Spain?” Loki smirked. He waved his left hand and another cocktail appeared, floating in the air just in front of Tony’s eyes. This one was orange, with a yellow umbrella. “Want some?”

“Sex on the Beach? Seriously?” Tony frowned, but he reluctantly raised his hand and took the glass. “I thought it was me who owed you a drink.”

“We can say you owe me two,” Loki grinned. “And please, sit down. You’re making me nervous.”

Tony nodded and sat down on the nearby bench, focusing on keeping safe distance between him and Loki. He might not think Loki was going to kill him, but he wasn’t taking any chances.

“So,” he said. “Care to tell me why you felt the need to steal the quinjet?”

“Care to tell me how you are doing?” Loki countered.

“Oh, sorry, are we exchanging civilities now? I’m fine, thanks. Absolutely peachy. I mean, my life’s falling apart, my relationship has ended just before my wedding, but hey, the universe is safe, so I guess I’m just ecstatic.”

Oh, fuck. And this is what happens when you want to be a little sarcastic, but you get carried away.

Because he hadn’t meant to say any of that, absolutely not, never to a sort-of-crazy-and-sort-of-attractive god in front of him, but for some reason, he did.

And Loki actually frowned at Tony.

“So Miss Potts didn’t forgive you for your little trip to outer space?”

Tony sighed and took a sip of his drink.

“I’d rather not talk about this.”

“That means no.”

“That means hell no, and I don’t blame her,” Tony muttered. “What woman could spend her life with a man who’s always willing to go and put his life in danger to save the planet? Who’s always willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good?”

“A warrior?” Loki raised his eyebrows. “Almost every Asgardian woman spends her life with a warrior. Some of them are warriors.”

“She just… She just doesn’t want me to get myself killed. Or explain to our kids why is their dad never coming home again. I guess.”

“When you two got together, did she know you were a hero?” Loki asked, stirring his drink with a straw.

“Well… Yeah. But back then, it basically didn’t involve the whole Universe at stake and my life constantly in danger.”

“Hmmm.”

“That’s all you’ve got to say to that? Helpful,” Tony smirked. “Look, I don’t even know why I’m telling you this.”

“I have no idea. You were the one who started it.” Loki shrugged, trying to suppress a grin. “All right, change of the subject. Can you explain to me why are you the only person hunting me down, instead of all your Avengers?”

“Well, first, the Avengers are… not avenging now. Second, you kinda stole their quinjet, as you might have noticed, because we’re sitting in it.”

“Oh, yes,” Loki grinned. “And third?”

“Third, they don’t know yet. Probably don’t know yet. You see, illusions, messing up with the radar… that gets people confused.”

“Does it? That wasn’t my intention at all. How come you weren’t… confused?”

“No idea. My AI is probably better than your magic.”

“You think very highly of yourself, Stark.”

“Yeah. Or...” Tony frowned, blinking as a thought suddenly struck him. “Oh, no. No. Tell me you’re kidding?”

“Excuse me?” Loki said, trying to look confused and innocent and failing at both.

“You allowed Friday to see you getting away. You made me come after you!”

“And why would I do that?”

“I have no idea. Revenge for New York?”

“Just because I am in a team called The Revengers, it doesn’t mean I want revenge.”

“What… The Revengers? You have a team-”

“Thor does. And the name was his idea. I just became an honorary member after I showed up at the very last moment with a large ship to save Asgardian refugees. It’s actually a beautiful story if you are interested...”

“So why did you lure me in here?” Tony asked.

“I did not. I wanted to see what you would do. I honestly thought you would assemble your team, or at least get my brother. The fact that you came alone is… interesting.”

“I wanted to see what are you up to before raising an alarm.”

“And if I was up to, well… murder? Like your murder?”

“Well, I would be fucked. But I’m lucky it’s not a problem, am I not?”

Loki laughed. It sounded a bit maniacal, but overall, Tony kind of liked it. It was nothing like the absolutely crazy villain laughter from a few years back.

“Yes. Yes, you are,” he said.

“Right. So… Where are we headed?”

“Oh, Stark,” Loki grinned. “I am so glad you came alone...”

 

“What the hell do you mean Loki’s gone and Stark went after him alone?!” Natasha growled.

T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, actually tried to look completely invisible.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “Shuri is looking into it, I swear. She is trying to find their locations. I cannot do more at the moment, but-”

“How did this happen?” Cap asked.

T’Challa started to regret taking those two to the lab. Shuri was shooting death glares in his direction.

“May I suggest we take this upstairs?” he said. “We could find Thor. He might have an idea where Loki is.”

Cap and Natasha exchanged a glance.

“Right,” Cap nodded. “Let’s find Thor. Shuri, keep working on that location, just in case. We need to find Stark before that maniac kills him.”

“Please, Shuri?” T’Challa said, doing his best to look apologetic.

“I’m working on it, I can’t work faster. No, wait, I can. With an empty lab,” she growled.

“Right,” Natasha nodded. “Upstairs.”

 

Tony gingerly peeked out of the quinjet. For a moment, he thought about getting back inside the suit, but it seemed the area was perfectly safe.

It was just a cliff. A perfectly ordinary cliff. Green grass, sea, sky. Nothing dangerous.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” he said.

“There is no need. I swear.”

“Right. So… What exactly are we doing on a cliff… in Norway?”

Loki sighed and reluctantly took a few steps towards the edge.

“I just wanted to see it again,” he said. “This… This is where my father died.”

“Shit. Sorry,” Tony muttered, following him. “When you say father, considering you’re adopted...”

“I mean Odin. My adoptive father,” Loki sighed. “And you don’t have to say you’re sorry for my loss. We didn’t have the best relationship, you know.”

“And that makes it even harder, doesn’t it?” Tony raised his hand and squeezed Loki’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. Really.”

“Thank you.”

Loki closed his eyes for a moment and Tony kept his hand where it was. If Loki hadn’t already cut it off, it meant he didn’t mind it being there, right?

“So… What’s the plan?” Tony asked when the silence between them was beginning to get awkward. He finally lowered his hand. “What are you gonna do now? Because if I were you, I wouldn’t be staying on Earth right now. You stole Cap’s quinjet. He’s not gonna be happy about that. And he might think you’re currently planning to take over the planet again, so...”

“Don’t worry about it. Staying here was never the plan.” Loki shook his head and opened his eyes, gazing at the horizon. “You see, I had an incredibly busy day. Less than twenty-four hours ago, I died. Then I came back to life. I got my revenge on Thanos… Well, sort of. I saved the universe. I saved Asgard. Again. I turned my life around and became one of the good guys, apparently. It just makes you think, doesn’t it? And I think I need to… go away for a while. Travel. See the universe.”

“Right,” Tony nodded. “The stolen Space Stone should help you with that.”

Tony fully expected Loki to feign ignorance, deny everything and lie like his life depended on it. But the god just laughed and this time, there was nothing maniacal about it. It was just pure, unadulterated joy.

“So you know about that, too?”

“Well… Yeah,” said Tony, taken aback just a little. “I’ve seen the readings. When you freed the green chick, what was her...”

“Gamora.”

“Yeah, when you freed Gamora, the energy of the Gauntlet changed. You could tell the power of one Stone was missing. But right after you placed the Gauntlet on the table, the energy changed again, and this time, it was two Stones.”

“Clever, clever Stark. And how did you know it was Space?”

“Lucky guess.”

Loki turned his head to focus on Tony. His eyes were thoughtful and a little sad.

“I have… a proposition for you, Stark.”

“Could you stop calling me Stark? It makes me nervous.”

“As you wish. What was your name again? Oh, yes. Anthony Edward Stark.”

“I’m kinda flattered you remember that, but it’s Tony.”

“No, I am sure it’s Anthony.”

Tony rolled his eyes with a sigh.

“Just call me Stark. And… What proposition?”

 

Thor was pretty much cornered by Cap and Natasha. And all he wanted was to have a cup of coffee after those last few horrible days. Loki had already gotten one, so why not Thor? He was almost at the coffeemaker, this just wasn’t fair...

“Could you… say it again?” he sighed.

Natasha’s glare was possibly even deadlier than any of her weapons.

“Your brother is missing,” Cap said. “And my… uhm, our quinjet. We’d like to get it back and we’d like to know what he’s planning to do with it.”

“Oh,” Thor nodded. “But if you get it back, you won’t need to know what he was planning, because he won’t be able to do it anymore, yes?”

“No,” Natasha growled. “He stole our jet-”

“Yes, well, you should consider yourself lucky, because when we were on Sakaar, he stole this giant-”

“Thor. Please,” Cap sighed. “I just want to know he won’t try to crash it somewhere important and kill thousands of people. Besides, Stark went after him, and what if Loki tries to hurt him?”

“My brother probably just wanted to take a little break. And I don’t think his daggers stand a chance against Stark’s armor,” Thor said, glancing at T’Challa, who stood a little behind the two Avengers and hadn’t said anything so far. “My cat friend! Surely you could lend a jet to Captain!”

“Surely,” T’Challa nodded. “But I would like to know how did your brother manage to fool all our security systems.”

“All right. I’ll see if I can find him,” Thor muttered. “Can I at least...” He nodded towards the coffeemaker.

“No,” Natasha said, so firmly that Thor didn’t even try to protest.

“Fine. Where can I find the nearest balcony?”

 

“So let me get this straight,” Tony said, sipping his second Sex on the Beach. It didn’t seem weird at all that he was doing it on a cliff in Norway. “You’re planning to go on some kind of a space trip, see a few planets, meet a few aliens…”

“Exactly,” Loki nodded.

“But you don’t wanna go alone. You want company. And so you chose… me.”

“What? No. Not at all. I offered you to come with me, because I think that you might also need a few days off. Just a few days. Then I will bring you back home and you can try to repair the relationship with your girlfriend, if you want to. I am offering you a little break, nothing more.”

“Yeah. Sure you are,” Tony smirked.

“Are you implying I won’t go if you won’t? Don’t be ridiculous, Anthony. I don’t need you, you need me.”

“You wish.”

Loki grinned. “Should I take that as a no? I know it’s not Spain, but-”

His next words were cut off by a roll of thunder. The sky instantly darkened and filled with lightning.

“You have got to be kidding,” Loki groaned.

A stream of rainbow light appeared and disappeared the next second, revealing Thor, who was standing a few steps away from them.

“Oh. So Stark is also here. This will make things a lot easier,” the blonde nodded when he noticed the two men in front of him. “Captain wants his quinjet back, brother.”

“See? Told you,” said Tony.

“He can have it,” Loki shrugged. “I don’t need it anymore. He can also have Stark if he wants.”

“Hey!”

“What? I thought you didn’t want to come with me on my little space trip, Anthony.”

Tony rolled his eyes and turned to Thor.

“Tell me, Point Break, is your little brother always such a little piece of shit?” he asked.

“Believe me, this is nothing,” Thor replied, focusing his gaze on Loki again. “So, brother, can I tell Captain that you weren’t planning any mischief with his beloved jet?”

“Definitely not. And for the record, I didn’t exactly plan to kidnap Stark, he just kind of… happened.”

“Just like the Space Stone in your pocket did?” said Tony, raising an eyebrow.

Loki froze. Thor blinked. Tony admitted to himself that he probably shouldn’t have mentioned that.

“The Space Stone,” Thor repeated. “Again, brother?”

“I have no idea what the crazy mortal is talking about,” said Loki, denying everything, just as Tony had expected earlier, when he told Loki that he knew. But Thor must have noticed the horror in his brother’s face when Tony said those words. He wasn’t exactly the idiot he sometimes liked to pretend to be.

“Of course,” Thor sighed. It was a long and very weary sigh. A sigh of a man who’d seen too much of this shit. “Just… promise me you will not use it to destroy or conquer any planet.”

“Thor. I had it in Asgard’s vaults, my vaults, for years. Did you see me conquering any planets?”

Thor shook his head, but a smile was already tugging at the corners of his lips.

“Oh, brother. You just can’t help it, can you?”

“What can I say?” Loki smiled. “I am Loki. The Prince of Asgard. Odinson.”

He held out his right hand to Tony, palms up, and raised an eyebrow questioningly.

Tony was speechless. Was this really happening? Was Thor seriously letting Loki go, just like that? And was Loki thinking Tony was really gonna go with him?

“The rightful King of Jotunheim,” Loki continued, his smile growing into a wide grin.

Tony closed his eyes and took the god’s hand.

“God...” said Loki, raising the other one. A little blue stone appeared just above his fingertips. “Of Mischief.”

Snap.