Title The Long Way Home, 1/6
Rating PG-13/T for language and violence
Summary When Loki is reincarnated as a child on Midgard with dreams for memories, Thor searches to re-awaken his brother. When he finds him, he makes an executive decision. Instead of taking him to Asgard, he takes him to Avengers Tower. Journey Into Mystery & Avengers (Movie) AU.
Disclaimer Characters belong to their creators (Marvel owns everyone I love).
In the end, Loki died for Asgard.
This is what Thor told everyone, disbelief etched clearly into their faces. Some were furious that Loki (the liar, the usurper, the traitor) should redeem himself so in his final act, at least in the eyes of his noble brother and few others. A great trick, Volstagg said magnanimously at the feast, borrowing his brother’s turn of phrase and laying a heavy, consoling hand on Thor’s shoulder. His last.But Thor had no stomach for pretty words meant to lift his spirits, for they were spoken for his sake and not for Loki’s. He grieved for him, and then he missed him, and he could not believe that his brother was truly gone.
The battle had been fierce, and long, and seemingly victory-less before his brother’s scream had echoed across the fields of Asgard. And then it had simply ended, the next moment soundless and still; Loki had fallen. Loki had vanished. In the aftermath, Odin slept and Heimdall kept his weary Eyes over all – but Loki’s fall, even Heimdall had not foreseen, and this deeply unsettled the powerful stargazer. Something remained amiss in his Eyes, but it was difficult to See a non-entity, a blotch of black over a canvas of more black, but he felt it, this non-entity, and he sought it out.
It is nearly one Midgardian year later that he happens upon it, like a smug audience member who catches the street magician tuck a coin swiftly behind his ear. He does not smile, not really, but it is a near thing. No, his eyes soften a little in satisfaction, now that he Sees what he has missed for so many months.
Odin sleeps, and so he calls for Thor.
It is dusk in Paris, the street lights flickering and casting a golden glow to the old, winding streets. All around Thor shops are closing up for the night, while the cafes and restaurants open their doors, enticing would-be diners into their cozy-scented warmth, safe from the crisp night. The street is crowded enough that at times Thor must wind his bulk around a chattering group, taking great care not to misstep or slam anyone against his hammer slung in a shoulder bag across his back. He is mostly inconspicuous in his simple shirt and jeans.
Thor is not interested in the food and wine on display, though he has yet to taste the much lauded cuisine of the Midgardian French, and wonders absently what Volstagg would make of the child-sized portions of meat and other foods that he can see through the windows of the eateries on the mortals’ clinking plates. He is interested in something else entirely.
“He is there,” Heimdall spoke to him when Thor responded to his summons. “But he is not as he was.” The Bifrost glittered beneath their feet.
“Who is there?” Thor asked, though his heart beat erratically with the answer already.
Heimdall inclined his head, great golden horns bowed to his Prince, and said, “Loki.”
Heimdall said, “He is young. A child. He remembers nothing. On the path he follows now he may never remember, though he dreams. But there are many branches in the tree that is Yggdrasil. What branch would you have him follow? What path?”
Thor considered. Loki was inherently a shapeshifter, and who else but he would find a shape with which to avoid a permanent death? Though his brother had turned to wicked ways and had spent vast amounts of energy threatening everything Thor held dear, it was as a grain of sand in a desert. The past few Midgardian years at each other’s throats could not overshadow the millennia they had spent as children, as brothers, as princes, delighting in the other brother’s company. One could not exist fully without the other. For many moons now he has felt like a man without his shadow.
Thor remembered Loki as a child, and smiled, and though later he might think himself selfish, he answered, “I would have my brother returned to me,” and Heimdall let him pass.
And now on this street Thor feels it in his being that his brother is near, like a tug in his navel or a spice for his nose to follow. He wanders until the stars are bright against an inky sky, and then he turns a corner and sees a boy, leaning conspiratorially over a low table in the space between two buildings, a green hood pulled over his head so that all Thor can make out are some curls of raven hair. The boy is gesturing with his fingers, handling a trio of cards with practiced skill, flipping them over and under and over again. And his voice – unmistakable though the language is foreign to Thor – easily carrying through the crowd high and sweet and lilting, poetic and persuasive, inviting the group of young women gathered around the table to play his game.
The women coo at him, smitten, inching forward. Thor moves closer, too, and when he is close enough he realizes that it is not a foreign language at all that the boy speaks, but English accented by the vowels and consonants of French. “Let’s see if Serrure gets lucky tonight,” he hears. “No tricks, ladies, just my cards and your cash.” The women titter, exchanging amused exclamations amongst themselves in English – so they are tourists – and one of the group points to a card on the table. Serrure pouts.
It is then that Thor feels a tug in the back pocket of his jeans, and instinctively he reaches behind him, grabs at the scrabbling, panicking form, holds it up by the scruff of its neck like a misbehaving pup – it is another boy. A boy who yells, wide-eyed, “Serrure, cours!”
The boy behind the table bolts. Thor drops the other, giving chase.
Oh, but how nimble and sure-footed this Serrure is! Thor grins despite the effort as the boy vaults easily over a fence in the alley they have turned into, his little body tumbling in the air and expertly rolling back into a run once he reaches the ground. His hood falls away as he spares a glance back, sharp green eyes widening when he sees that Thor has just as easily jumped the fence. “You’re crazy!” he shouts. “Why are you following me? What do you want? Money?”
Thor grunts, “No,” putting on a burst of speed and extending his hand, that green hood just within his reach -
Serrure leaps again and disappears down the stairs into Paris’ underground metro. “Excusez-moi,” Thor hears in its depths. “Pardon.Ah, you are looking lovely tonight.” He follows, suddenly reminded of a time when they were both children, dashing through the forest on quick feet, hunting small game. They had been given small, delicately crafted bows and a quiver of arrows each, playing at the hunt while Odin was away on a real one.
He reaches the bottom of the steps just as he hears a gasp, a crash, and a, “Thanks for the fare,” and there is Serrure jumping over the gates, his footfalls loud in the echoing space. Enough play, Thor thinks, slowing to a walk, paying the fare and following behind the boy at a distance.
Eventually, Serrure slows as well, occasionally glancing back behind him, but Thor remains just out of sight. They pause on a platform for a train going out of the city. The boy hunches over, catching his breath, but even at a distance Thor can make out the lightness in his eyes at the game he has just had. Loki always had loved to make Thor come after him.
In two breaths he is before him, arms crossed, imposing. Serrure looks up, expression wild. “Are you – is this a joke?” He bounds away again, down into the tracks, meaning to escape; he even says, “You’ll never catch me!” but Thor is through giving chase, and in one bound he is before Serrure again, who drops abruptly to his bottom, stunned. Thor has Mjolnir in his grip, his helm over his head, his red cape over his shoulders. Serrure gulps. “Look, sir, monsieur. Big blond guy. I’ll give you back your money. Heck, you want to try doublingit, even? We can –“
“I have no interest in Midgardian coin,” Thor rumbles as gently as he can.
“Midgard – what – that’s not – you’re not speaking French!” the boy pants.
“Neither, my boy, are you.”
“I’m not? I’m not! Then what – “
“You speak the All-Tongue. Every man hears it as his native language. It is the language of the gods, and of Asgard, and youare a son of Asgard, as am I.” The boy starts to stand, hesitant, perhaps thinking that Thor is crazy after all. Thor continues, for he must get this boy to understand, “You are Loki, son of Laufey and Farbuti, child of Odin, son of Bor, and brother of mine.* Your past lives have accumulated many sins, but in all of them you have been my brother, and in this one, too, I cannot be without my brother.”
“That’s…insane.” Serrure presses his lips together, the expression on his face unfamiliar to Thor. “I couldn’t be – I’m not a god.” He screws his eyes shut, and when he opens them again they are glistening. “But I – I don’t remember anything. Just the street, and playing card tricks for money. I have no memories. Where did I come from? But I have dreams, and they are horrible, and in these dreams I’m older and so wicked and the things that I’ve done. Oh, you wouldn’t believe–“
“I would,” Thor says, voice soft, and Serrure’s breath hitches as he glances up. “Every man has ghosts in his past, things that he regrets, things that he wishes he could change. Let us say that you have been given a chance, a gift, yes?” He holds out Mjolnir, her magic shivering in his grip.
“What do I – will this help?” Serrure still looks unsure. Thor could still be insane. He bites his lip. “Do I just grab it, or what? This is crazy.”
“This will not erase the past, but it will bring our paths together for the future. You will no longer be alone. But it is your choice, and once you make it, there is no returning to this simple existence.”
“I’m afraid,” the boy admits. Yes, that is the expression that Thor could not place on the boy’s face. It has been a long time since Loki has shown fear. “What if my dreams are my memories? What if that’s who I really am?”
“You are my brother, and you have nothing to fear,” he assures him.
Serrure narrows his eyes, determination in his features. “Well,” he mumbles mostly to himself. “What have I got to lose?” and he reaches out, grasps the handle of Mjolnir in one small hand, and the station is filled with a blinding, white light.
It is like electricity is slowly coursing through his veins, and with the slow buzzing creep comes the assurance that he is Loki, but not that one. He is Serrure-Loki, child-Loki. He has many years before he grows old and he has no intention of becoming that vengeful, that spiteful, that wicked. He remembers some things, but not all. These memories are like old faded photographs in a shoebox under the bed; they are aged and worn and nearly forgotten, but he is assured of their existence. The electricity – the magic – fades, the light recedes, and when he blinks his eyes open again he sees his brother, his Thor, and the smile that splits across his lips comes of its own accord. Thor smiles back.
He looks down at himself and sees his Midgardian clothing has transformed into a green tunic with gold accents, a gold circlet sits upon his head, his feet are in leather boots, and – leggings? Yes, those are leggings. He is somewhat relieved that he still has a hood, though it is not green but the color of canvas. “Wow,” he states simply, that smile still upon his face.
Thor reaches out a hand. Loki takes it. Together they climb back onto the platform to the gasps and mutterings of the mortals watching, stunned. Some have taken out their phones to snap pictures. Casually, they walk back to the gates, exiting the train station and climbing back up onto the street. Some onlookers immediately recognize who is in their midst and still others voice uncertainly to each other, “Is that Thor, and is that – is that Loki?”
“Now I am returned to myself,” Loki states to Thor, ignorant of or else ignoring the whispers around them. “Now what? To Asgard?” He pulls the name of their home from memory and their immediate conversation, pleased, but Thor shakes his head. He has given this great thought. Loki would still be unwelcome in their home, even by Thor’s side. And a child has no need to experience the bitterness left behind by an adult, even if they are – technically – the same person.
“No, that will come later. For now, I have friends that I would like for you to meet, though they may be wary of you at first. They are a courageous group of mortals, very accomplished in battle and other arts. You may even be familiar with them already.”
“Who? Who are they?” Loki asks, interest piqued, even as Thor bends to scoop Loki up about the waist, putting him over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. He yelps a little, but there is not much he can do against Thor’s strength.
Thor grins. “The Avengers.”
He swings Mjolnir, and Loki’s cry of excitement follows them into the air.
*Yeah, that bit’s directly from the comics. The Mighty Thor #617.
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