evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
Title: Building Bridges
Author: [personal profile] evening_bat
Pairing: Gen
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: ~ 3500
Warnings: Nothing worse than would be found in either canon.
Summary: Thor’s search for his brother leads him to a meeting with a new brother-in-arms.
Notes: Goes AU after the Thor movie and early SPN S5, respectively.


Building Bridges


The battle was going poorly for the beleaguered human warrior when Thor arrived on the field. Rumours of attacks by monstrous creatures had drawn him back to Midgard on his quest for Loki, vanished into the void between realms after their father’s denouncement of his actions. But yet again, it seemed that whispers of dark magic had led him astray; there was no sign of his brother in either the vicious beasts or the human around whom they circled. Well, then. At least the scene presented a deserving target for Thor’s frustration.

Thor dove into the fight with abandon, Mjolnir whirling at his side and electricity crackling in his wake. He tore into the midst of the foul creatures and sent them scattering, leaving the human to stumble to safety. Thor paid sufficient attention to be sure he’d cleared the strike zone of both hammer and lightning before he allowed his focus to narrow to dispatching the monsters. It was the work of only moments for the last of them to fall.

When the last of the creatures’ reflexive twitches had eased into final stillness, Thor glanced over at the human whose life he’d intervened to save. He’d pressed his back to a tree but seemed uninjured, barring the rapid blinking of his eyes, no doubt dazzled by the lightning Thor had summoned.

“Are you well, fellow warrior?” Thor inquired, granting the human the honour of the title due to the fearless stand he’d made against an overwhelming number of stronger foes.

He seemed startled to be thus addressed, eyebrows raising before he squinted at his rescuer. Thor noted the steadiness of his hands with approval, as well as the ready ease with which he held his firearm. Prepared but not dangerously paranoid, then. Very impressive.

“I’m good,” he finally answered. “And hey, thanks for the save. That was quite the show.”

Thor inclined his head proudly.

“But I gotta ask, dude,” he continued, eyes narrowing further as he examined Thor more closely. “What’s with the metal suit? And the hammer? And the flying? ...What did you say your name was again?”

“I had not yet granted you my name,” Thor corrected, “but I give it freely now. I am Thor Odinson and you are welcome ‘for the save’.”

“Thor,” the human repeated flatly. “As in, Thunder God Thor?”

“The same,” Thor assured him wryly. New Mexico had taught him better than to assume the stories associated with his name were still respected on Midgard, even with the recent battle as evidence for his existence. But the human surprised him.

“Of course you are,” he sighed, tucking his firearm under his leather jacket. “Now we’ve got Viking gods running around the place?”

“You believe me?” Thor asked, startled.

The human grinned. “You aren’t even the strangest thing I’ve seen this week,” he replied. “And the name’s Dean. Dean Winchester.”

“Well met, Dean Winchester.”

“Uh, right. Well met to you too,” Dean said. “So what’s a thunder god doing hanging around these parts? Other than frying those fugly bastards?”

“That isn’t reason enough?” Thor answered lightly. “Though it was indeed these creatures I sought. I had hoped they might lead me to my brother, who has gone missing and whose hand can most often be spotted in magical goings-on.”

“You’re looking for your brother?” Dean’s expression softened into something akin to sympathy.

“I am,” Thor confirmed, swallowing past the tightness in his throat. “Loki is lost and I wish to find him.”

“Loki, huh? Well, who else were you expecting?” Dean muttered under his breath before he raised his voice. “So what happened?”

“We wronged each other. And though the first offense may have been mine, Loki struck the harshest blow.” The admission was painful -- both that he’d failed his brother so badly and that Loki had lashed out so fiercely in return. “Before I could set things to rights between us, he was gone. Fallen from the Bifrost and vanished between worlds.”

“Fallen from the what now?” Dean asked.

“The Bifrost. The Rainbow Bridge that connects Asgard to the other realms,” Thor explained shortly, tightening his grip on Mjolnir in a futile effort to override the sensation of Loki’s hand slipping from his.

“So -- what?” Dean scoffed. “You just let him fall?”

Let him?” Thor bristled at the scorn in his voice. “I did no such thing! I did everything I could to stop him!”

“Like hell you did!” Dean shot back. “If you did such a great job, then where is he?”

“Have a care, Dean Winchester,” Thor warned, anger in his voice echoed by a rumbling overhead. “You speak of matters beyond your understanding.”

Dean snorted, completely unintimidated. “What’s there to understand? I don’t know how you fucked up or what he did to you. But I do know that if your brother falls off of some bisexual bridge, you jump off after him! You don’t just let him go!”

Rage whited out Thor’s vision and swept away the last of his restraint.

“I tried!” he roared. “My father held me fast to the bridge. And yes, I tried to break free. So hard that I wore the bruises of his grip for weeks!”

And none of it -- none of it -- was a comfort against the memory of the utter desolation on Loki’s face as he let go.

“Do not presume to tell me I did not do enough,” he whispered hoarsely. “I would tear the worlds apart to see him safe again.”

Silence stretched between them for a moment, then Dean smirked. “Good. That’s more like it.”

His approval was oddly warming and Thor smiled wanly but the sound of shouting prevented him from finding a response.

“Dean! Dean! Where are you?”

Dean’s expression widened into a full grin.

“Over here, Sam!” he shouted over his shoulder. “My brother the troublemaker -- and my personal pain in the ass,” he added by way of explanation.

Ah. That went a ways towards explaining his earlier outburst.

Curious now, Thor turned his attention to the sound of someone approaching the line of trees behind them.

“Where the hell have you been?” Sam demanded as he emerged into view, gun clenched in a white-knuckled hand. “You were supposed to be -- whoa!”

His eyes went wide at the broken and scorched corpses littered around them and flicked assessingly over Thor before he focused on Dean, examining him with concern.

“What happened? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Thanks to the big guy over here,” Dean assured him breezily, slapping a familiar hand against Thor’s shoulder. “You out here alone?”

“No,” Sam replied distractedly, kicking lightly at the nearest body. “Weird. These things don’t look anything like the descriptions in the lore. And he’s back at the car. He freaked out a bit when the weather went nuts.”

“He’s responsible for that, too,” Dean said, jerking a thumb back at Thor as he moved forward to catch Sam by the elbow and tow him back the way he came. “You mind if we move this little chat? We’re taking care of a stray these days and leaving him alone for too long isn’t a good idea.”

“A stray?” Thor inquired, following them agreeably.

“Yeah. Poor bastard was at ground zero for something nasty,” Dean explained. “He got a bit, uh, scrambled. We’re taking him to a friend, see if he can help him out. Sam, stop staring. Guy showed up out of the blue -- literally -- to save my ass and wasn’t even a dick about it. He gets a paranoia pass.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Because we have such luck with trusting miraculous rescues?” he sniped.

“Better than the other kind,” Dean retorted smoothly but Thor didn’t miss the tightening of his shoulders.

Sam’s expression darkened for a moment before he sighed in apparent regret. “Yeah, true enough,” he conceded quietly.

Dean scrubbed a hand over his face. “Let’s just get back to the car. No offense, dude, but this isn’t a story I feel like telling twice.”

“I would imagine that it becomes no easier with repetition,” Thor agreed cheerfully, unable to follow the undercurrents of their conversation and unwilling to risk disturbing them further.

“Not so much, no,” Dean said as they stepped out of the trees.

There was a sleek black vehicle waiting at the edge of the forest, gleamingly discordant with its sylvan surroundings. A lean figure was perched on its nose, face tipped up to the sky.

“Another victory for the forces of free will?” he asked without taking his eyes from the slow-moving swirl of clouds overhead.

If Thor had had any breath left to lose, the light question would have knocked it out of him. But he’d faltered the instant he’d seen the man leaning back on his hands as he stared up and out at the heavens. He’d know that profile anywhere.

“Loki.” The whisper slipped past his lips unbidden but its effect was electric.

“No way!” Dean breathed even as Sam cut in with a sharp, “What did you say?”

Thor ignored them, distantly grateful that Dean intervened and dragged Sam back and out of the way. His focus had narrowed to Loki, gone totally, terribly still.

Thor checked his reflexive surge forward when a miniscule flinch cracked Loki’s frozen stillness. In that moment, he wanted nothing more than to rush to his brother’s side and reassure himself that Loki was here and alive but even without moving, Loki had drawn back into himself and was braced tightly, as if for a blow.

“Loki,” Thor repeated, unable to keep the rawness out of his voice. Never before had he missed Loki’s knowledge and deft understanding of people as he did now. Delicacy had never numbered amongst Thor’s gifts; his hands had always been more suited to battle and rough affection. He’d always had Loki to aid him navigate situations that called for a more refined touch.

How like Loki to present him with an impossible challenge, Thor thought as he stared helplessly at the visible edge of a too-familiar closed off expression. That the only person who might help him span the divide and reach his brother was Loki himself would no doubt amuse him, were he in a position to laugh about it.

“Loki, please,” he finally said softly.

Thor didn’t have a sufficient command of words to persuade his brother to speak with him. He’d never followed the subtleties that Loki manipulated so effortlessly and recent events had forced him to recognize that perhaps he knew his brother far less than he’d assumed. No, Thor would not win Loki over with words. But Thor loved him still and he trusted -- hoped -- that despite Loki’s recent flirtation with madness, he would still hear and respond to the naked appeal Thor had just made.

His heart leapt at Loki’s quiet sigh and the infinitesimal slump of his shoulders. Thor held his tongue as Loki slowly straightened where he sat, carefully shifting his seat on the polished metal. He was alarmed at how gingerly Loki moved, holding himself as one who had been grievously hurt and had yet to recover. It left him swallowing a lurch of concern at the memory of Dean’s offhand explanation that their stray had been “scrambled” by some unpleasant encounter. That his journey through the void hadn’t killed Loki outright was a joyful surprise; Thor expected that thinking he might have survived it without injury was a naive hope.

He took the opportunity offered by Loki’s shuffling to examine him, alert to any sign of what his brother might have suffered before encountering the Winchesters. He was attired in clothing similar to that which the Winchesters wore, reminiscent of what Jane had lent to him after his own fall. To Thor’s immense relief, Loki appeared whole, but he was thin and paler than Thor had ever seen him. Worse, he seemed diminished, fragile in a way that could not be explained by the wariness in his expression as he cautiously lifted his eyes to Thor’s.

“Hello, Thor,” he offered at last. “Come to take me back to Asgard, then? Or are you to carry out my sentence where you found me?”

“What? No!” Thor protested, even as the Winchesters inserted themselves back into the conversation.

“Wait - what?” Dean demanded, planting himself between Thor and Loki.

“Will someone please tell me what the hell is going on here?” Sam asked crossly, even as he followed his brother’s lead and positioned himself in front of Loki.

“You all right?” Dean checked with Loki, who shrugged.

“That remains to be seen.”

“Seriously,” complained Sam. “Would really like to be tossed a clue, here.”

“Because no one said anything about passing sentence!” Dean continued.

I certainly didn’t say anything of the sort,” Thor commented dryly, folding his arms across his chest.

That brought everyone up short, leaving them all trading glances in a suspicious, awkward silence, before Loki’s frigid calm gave way to rusty chuckles.

“I don’t know what’s more absurd,” he managed, “you standing there like a scolded puppy or these two thinking they have any hope of stopping you.”

“Hey!” Dean replied, stung.

“Though your concern is appreciated, of course,” Loki added smoothly, favouring them with a sweet smile.

“Oh, I should have seen through you weeks ago,” Dean commented appreciatively. “Loki, huh?”

Loki dipped his head in silent acknowledgement, quirking a grin at Sam’s wide-eyed stare and whispered curse.

“I thought you said your name was Lukas?” Dean prompted, affectionately accusing.

“When I first met you, you were carrying false government ID and you introduced yourself as Agent Hagar,” Loki pointed out.

“Touche,” Dean conceded easily. “Though I think ‘secretly a Norse God,’ trumps ‘secretly a badass hunter’.”

“You say ‘badass hunter’, I say ‘suicidally reckless’--”

Anyway,” Dean interrupted hastily, “for what it’s worth, I think you ought to give the big guy a chance.”

Loki’s skepticism was evident but Dean shook his head.

“I mean it,” he insisted gently, laying a careful hand on Loki’s narrow shoulder. “We talked a bit before and he said he was here looking for you. Seemed pretty sincere about wanting to make sure you were okay.”

That Loki seemed surprised at this assertion left Thor’s chest feeling constricted and he was grateful for the momentary respite offered by Dean cheerfully bullying Sam away from the conversation.

“We’ll go make sure there’s no more of those whatever the hell they were hanging around!” he called as he hustled his brother back into the trees. “You two play nice! And don’t hurt my baby!”

“Really, Dean?” Sam grumbled, tugging at his arm, securely in Dean’s grasp. “They’re Norse gods with communication issues and you’re worried about the car?”

“Well, how else are we going to get back to town? I’m not in the mood to walk thirty miles of dirt road. Are you? Besides, I thought you wanted to know what was going on?”

“Well, yeah. But --”

“Okay, so you know how the weather went kind of psycho a while back?” Dean stared, blithely talking over Sam’s protests as they vanished from sight.

Good men, these Winchesters. Thor owed them a debt for the care they’d taken with Loki.

Loki, the brother he’d failed. His brother, who’d extracted his own vengeance in blood and fire and ice before leaving Thor bereft. Loki, who was watching him now with carefully affected caution. Thor had always known that Loki ran deeper than any of his artless surface displays but he’d often failed to see past them. Even now, with so many of Loki’s defenses stripped away, and the painful memory of that last, earnest battle between them, it was a struggle to read the emotion that flickered behind his pale eyes. Thor remembered Loki’s face on the Bifrost, twisted in rage and grief and spite. He sought traces of them now, searching as deeply as he could see.

But Loki just looked tired. Tired and resigned and lost. And for a split second, as his eyes darted away from Thor’s, ashamed.

Thor spared a moment to wonder if he was being manipulated -- Loki was more than capable of it, he knew that -- but decided that it didn’t matter. For all the injuries they had done each other, there could be no recovery from that if there was no trust between them. Getting his brother back, Thor decided, was worth leaving himself vulnerable. He’d never been averse to taking risks, this would hardly be the time to start.

Besides, Thor wanted a word with whomever had brought his brother to this point. Loki had been hurt -- Loki was hurting still -- and that was unacceptable. Loki had been hurt enough.

“What happened to you?” Thor asked, voice low and rough with the effort of suppressing the need to do something.

Loki breathed out a sigh. “The void is perhaps somewhat less empty than its name would imply,” was all he said.

Thor’s imagination balked at the question of what manner of creature might inhabit the emptiness between worlds, but from the haunted abstraction their memory called to Loki’s face, Thor knew they could be nothing but unpleasant.

“And after?” Thor prompted softly. “The Winchesters said that you ran afoul of ‘something nasty’ here and were dealt further injury.”

Loki chuckled in answer, the sound darkly amused. “Midgard has its own spectrum of powers, and they are readying for war,” he explained. “I had the misfortune of catching their attention when I...arrived. Both parties were quick to impress upon me the importance of choosing the correct side.”

The skies above had darkened during Loki’s carefully neutral recitation, and Thor forced himself to breathe past the growing anger triggered by those uninflected words. He did not dare guess at the means by which these beings might have attempted to convince his brother to join them, not when Loki still bore the signs of their attention in addition to the mark the void had left on him.

“Are you all -- no, that’s a foolish question I’ve the eyes to answer myself. Will you be all right?”

“I am recovering,” Loki allowed, straightening where he sat, tipping his chin up to meet Thor’s eyes again. It had ever been Loki’s way to use displays of weakness as strength in disguise, and Thor was relieved to find him unchanged in this. “Given time, there will be no lasting effects.”

“This is most welcome news,” Thor said, the words a meagre expression of the joy singing through his heart. He had finally found Loki, safe and reasonably sound. Very little else could have been this welcome.

“I expect you are amongst the very few that would say so,” Loki returned evenly. “I doubt few in Asgard would welcome my return, save if you have indeed come to fetch me home for proper judgement.”

“I would do no such thing,” Thor declared, lifting one hand and wrapping it carefully around the back of Loki’s neck. Loki shivered under his touch but didn’t protest the contact. “Not even if Father himself ordered it.”

“No?” Loki inquired, tilting his head carefully within Thor’s grip. “Even after your recent lessons in obedience?”

“It may have been my disobedience that earned his ire but Father sought to teach me wisdom, not servility. And that he had cause to punish me proves that yours were not the only mistakes made in this matter, Loki. I would not see you suffer further for the errors of others,” Thor told him.

Loki’s breath hitched at Thor’s words and he swallowed hard. “I see you have changed. Perhaps Fa - Odin’s lessons took root.”

“We’ve both changed, Loki,” Thor said sadly. “But maybe such changes were necessary, at least in part. We could not stay children forever.”

Loki nodded slowly, eyes searching Thor’s face.

“I have seen many things since the Bifrost,” he said finally. “Both out amidst the stars and here on what I had, until recently, thought just a backwards ball of mud. Things both beautiful and terrible, capable of breaking a mind or inspiring a heart.”

Thor blinked wetness out of his eyes and tightened his grip, anchoring Loki here.

“But I find,” Loki continued, reaching up to clasp a hand around Thor’s wrist, “despite all that has passed between us and everything I have experienced since then... I find that it is good to see you, brother.”

Beyond words, Thor wrapped his free arm around Loki and drew him tight against his chest. Loki sagged against him, one arm wrapping with desperate strength around Thor’s waist. Thor simply cradled him close, pressing a fiercely protective kiss to the crown of his brother’s head. Much remained unspoken between them, and Thor suspected matters with the Winchesters were not yet concluded, but those questions could wait. The princes of Asgard were reunited and had been granted another chance to make things right, a chance that Thor was determined would not go to waste.

Their enemies would do well to enjoy the respite.

Fin


Notes: Thanks to the lovely ladies over at Word Wars who encouraged and enabled this self-indulgent bit of crossover madness. :)
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