4 Times Loki Didn't Break Down and Cry, and 1 Time He Did

Word Count: 10k+

Characters: Loki, Thor, Sif, The Warriors Three, Gamora, Frigga

Trigger Warnings: Descriptions of violence in Part IV, and LOADS of angst. I mean it.

Status: Complete

Part I

Loud, boisterous laughter echoed off the walls gaily, and overlapping merry voices could be heard from all the way down the hall.

"I swear, Thor, the look on your face!" cried Sif, with a lively peal of laughter, the flames of the red-orange firelight flickering over her beautiful face. "Oh gods, I'm never going to forget it, am I?"

Thor laughed with her, though he didn't really know what he was laughing at. He was overwhelmed with a warm sense of belonging and fun, gaze flickering over the gay faces of his closest friends. He felt at home here, and at that moment, all would be right in the world if it hadn't been for the absence of Loki.

Idly following the good-natured bickering of the Warriors Three and Sif, Thor's thoughts wandered off to his younger brother. Loki and Thor, while not in a fight, were beginning to drift further and further away from each other. It was natural, Sif had assured him. They both had entirely different interests and while Thor was very sociable, Loki was more of the quiet sort and preferred being alone.

Thor wasn't an idiot, he knew life wouldn't be like how it was when they were kids, with Loki always at Thor's heels. But why did he feel so empty inside? More than once, he had caught himself about to say something to a Loki who should've been at his side, but wasn't.

"'Evening, brother," murmured a silvery, smooth voice. Fandral and Volstagg quieted their voices, and all eyes fell on the slender, graceful figure that emerged from the shadows.

Thor felt glad at the sight of his brother, though the atmosphere in the room visibly tensed, fun and lightheartedness draining away. He smiled in answer to Loki.

Loki was lightly clad in his customary colors of black and green, and on lithe feet he walked over, and sat down next to Hogun. He courteously nodded his head to the Warriors Three and Sif.

"Greetings, Loki," said Volstagg at an attempt in conversation, "Finally ventured out of the library?"

Loki turned his cool, assessing gaze to Volstagg. "I'm surprised you even know what a library is," he returned, "since it doesn't relate directly to anything edible."

Thor and Fandral burst into hearty laughter at that, and Sif rolled her eyes and Hogun sighed. "You should've come with us, Loki," said Thor after composing himself. "It would've been fun, and another set of hands would've been useful."

"Not really," said Fandral. "Loki doesn't use hands, he just uses his tricks, doesn't he?"

Well, way to dampen the mood, Fandral, thought Thor. Loki was sensitive about his so-called 'tricks' and Thor learned not to tease him about it, but others didn't catch on much later.

The tightening around Loki's lips was visible. "I wouldn't call my magic tricks, Fandral," said Loki, rage barely suppressed in his voice. "Since it left you on your rear during training, just last week."

Thor was relieved, because he could tell that Loki was clearly making an effort to keep the peace instead of biting back with his hurtful remarks. Sif, who had considerably less to drink than the others, was frowning thoughtfully at Loki.

But Fandral, on the other hand, had far too much to drink. "At least I fought honorably," he answered carelessly, oblivious to the dangerous gleam in Loki's eye. "Not like a weak coward depending on his tricks."

Thor winced. "Fandral…"

Loki, ignoring Thor, was already up on his feet, the reflection of the flames outlining his face dramatically. "Tricks, Fandral?" He hissed bitterly. "You call this tricks?"

With a twist of Loki's hands, the flames in the fire hearth rose up, rising and swirling in a deadly dance.

"Loki," began Thor in an attempt to pacify Loki, resting a palm on his shoulder. "Fandral is just.."

But Loki was too far gone. He brushed off Thor's hand savagely, glaring with a frightening intensity at Fandral. The flames danced up higher and higher. No one laughed or made a humorous comment.

The flames twisted into the shape of a lion's face, then melted into a ferocious dragon that snarled viciously.

Loki's conjuring grew more and more sophisticated, transforming the fire's flickering tongues into all sorts of complicated designs. Sif was biting her lip, looking at Loki thoughtfully, Volstagg and Fandral were staring stupidly at the fire, Hogun's face was unreadable, and Thor was just plain worried.

But that's when it all fell apart.

Thor wasn't sure what Loki had been trying to do, exactly, perhaps a blossoming flower? Yet that's not what came out.

The fire roared and doubled in size, heat and intensity, emitting a large, black puff of smoke. Sif, Thor, and the Warriors Three stared wide-eyed at the dysfunctioning fire.

Then to the watchers' alarm, the fire exploded in brilliant light before dying out. The blast of heat knocked Loki backwards, and with a yelp of alarm the unsuspecting prince landed on his rear.

Silence existed for an impressive two seconds.

The room positively burst with laughter, more loud and raucous than before, even Hogun himself chuckling in amusement. Fandral and Volstagg were roaring with merriment and slapping their knees, but Sif and Thor were at least attempting to calm themselves down.

"Brother, are you all right?" Thor asked, trying and failing to keep the amusement out of his voice.

The sight of Loki himself sobered him a bit, however. His younger brother was hunched over, on hands and knees with dark head bowed.

"I'm fine, you oaf, I just burned my hands," said Loki through gritted teeth, rising to his feet. His brilliantly green eyes, clear and exotic as always, were bright with unshed tears of fury and rage.

Fandral just laughed all the more. "Exactly what enemy are you going to be defeating with your tricks again, Loki?" he answered between gasps of chortling. "Maybe your enemies will die of laughing!"

That just tickled Volstagg and Fandral's humor all the more, and once again, they were off. Hogun had settled for a small smile, Sif rolled her eyes, but Thor was looking at Loki with concern in his eyes.

"Brother, are you…" He began, but without sparing him another glance, Loki whirled around and left the room.

Thor felt guilty for laughing, but at the same time he felt annoyed with Loki. Couldn't he take a joke against himself? If Thor was in that position, he knew he would've laughed at himself. And anyway, it was Loki's fault for getting himself in that position in the first place. If Loki just wouldn't get so worked up over everything…

In that frame of mind, Thor wasn't sure if he could comfort and soothe Loki, while withstanding bitter, curt, but hurtful remarks the whole while. But duty as the older brother compelled him, and the Crown Prince of Asgard rose to his feet.

Thor was relieved—and felt guilty for the emotion afterwards—when Sif seized his arm and pulled him back down. "Leave him be," she said, voice low. "Loki just needs some time to himself."

Despite the softness of her voice, Fandral's sharp ears picked it up. "He'll be fine, Thor," he said. "Aesir skin is stubborn and strong. He can go to the healers if it's too bad."

After those words left Fandral's mouth, however, everyone knew that Loki would never go to the healers, not even if there was a knife in his side.

And anyway, it wasn't for Loki's hands that Thor felt obliged to go after him. But perhaps Sif was right, Loki probably just needed some space.

With a sigh, Thor settled back more comfortably in his chair.

Loki wasn't sulking.

No, he was just mildly displeased with the entire world and just needed a little bit of space.

He paced back and forth in his room, face flushed with humiliation and anger, and filled with the vehement desire to just murder somebody.

Loki needed to calm down a bit. His mind started to drift off towards Fandral's words, but he didn't dare focus on them. Then the voices would come back, and they were the last thing he needed right now.

Just tricks. Just fucking, stupid tricks. Who the hell was Fandral to say such things? Who the hell were all of Thor's friends to laugh at him, when they can't do the basics of what he could?

Calm down, Odinson, Loki though, pressing his hands to the sides of his head. It's nothing.

And anyway, Loki shouldn't care so much about what a blond idiot who's convinced he's God's gift to women. Fandral was a fool, and Loki was a fool as well for taking his half-drunken words to heart.

Sighing, Loki pulled out his spell book. It was a very valuable one, his tutor had said, full of great spells and potions, but the problem was the huge volume was in Elvish. Loki wasn't terribly good at the almost dead language, and his tutor refused to translate it, saying it would be good practice. So for several hours everyday, Loki had to endure the mundane task to meticulously looking up each word or phrase in his translator, and copying it onto another blank volume.

Because Loki didn't want anyone to think he was sulking like a child, he flung the door open, then bent his head and began working.

An hour later, Loki's hot head had cooled considerably, and he was in a far better frame of mind. He slid off his seat and headed out the door, filled with good intentions of spending the rest of the night with Thor and pretending as if the 'incident' had never happened.

The sun had already set, and large, silver stars were glittering in the night sky. After popping a handful of sweets in his mouth from the kitchen, Loki headed off in the direction of Thor's room.

He halted in his tracks at the sound of his brother's voice, and Loki's gaze fell on Thor and Sif.

They were standing together on the balcony in a silvery pool of radiant moonlight, figures silhouetted. Loki felt a bitter taste in his mouth at the sight of them, with Thor in all his majesty with blood red cape falling behind him, and the beautiful Sif standing next to him.

Literally, all of Asgard saw what was happening between the two….expect for Thor himself. If Thor hadn't been Loki's brother, the whole thing would've been amusing. As it was, though, Loki felt responsible for Thor and kept trying to convince Thor that Sif was head-over-heels in love with him.

Sif would be the ideal queen. She was strikingly beautiful with ivory skin, midnight tresses, dark blue eyes and red lips. She also had a cool head, and often guided Thor gently out of foolish plans. She was sensible, practical, intelligent, and a fearsome, accomplished warrior besides.

Thor and Sif would be an absolutely beautiful couple, much like Frigga and Odin in their younger days.

It would either be Sif—Frigga's choice—or the princess Freya of Vanaheim, for political reasons only—Odin's choice. Loki hated both options, but encouraged Thor towards the former because the thought of some foreign woman being Thor's bride was unbearable.

The thought was probably childish and idiotic, but Loki felt some stupid inclination that the moment Thor got married, Loki himself would be left in the dust. Well, of course that is what would happen, but Loki didn't need to be such a child over it. He preferred Freya because it would be a little while (if ever) for Thor to fall in love with her, but if he actually fell in love with Sif….

But Loki was just being a child, now. Thor's happiness was what mattered, not Loki's, and for his older brother's sake Loki hoped he would fall in love with Sif.

As his mind had wandered, Loki noted with some annoyance that he'd been standing behind a pillar, watching them for quite a while. He blinked, and made to go and interrupt their 'moment'. Thor may eventually fall for Sif, but that didn't mean Loki could prevent it for as long as possible.

The sound of his name being mentioned, however, was enough to keep him rooted to the spot.

"…something funny about Loki," Sif was saying, looking annoyingly gorgeous in the loose, flowing silver-blue gown she was wearing. "He's acting kind of strange, isn't he?"

Thor frowned, and Loki gave Sif a confused look. Everyone, even the Warriors Three, knew that gossiping about Loki to Thor never ended well.

Loki felt even more confused when Thor didn't brush her off. "What do you mean by strange?" Thor asked her.

"I mean, he's just a little…" Sif gestured helplessly with her hands, "I don't know, hasn't he been acting a little moody lately?"

"What do you mean." Thor's voice was flat.

Sif gave him one quick look. "It's like this, Thor," she began. "When Loki was younger, he played pranks. A lot of pranks. It's in his nature—he's mischievous, he's playful."

Thor made an discouraging noise at the back on his throat.

"He's growing up, Thor, and he will continue too," said Sif. "And grown men don't play pranks. They take it to a new level."

"Your point?"

"Thor, your little brother is going to get himself into a shitload of trouble," said Sif, plunging right in. "He's not like you. When someone gets you angry, you get all worked up. You yell at them, maybe fight them, but by the next week or two it's all over. Loki isn't like that. I bet you like anything he's going to act like that never happened the next morning."

"Fandral may apologize," Sif continued, "but the whole thing won't be over, not for people like Loki. He's going to carry that in his heart for much longer, and he's going to remember."

"What's wrong with that?" said Thor, but it wasn't defiantly. Just weak and resigned.

"Thor, I'm going to be frank," said Sif. "Loki's going to hold up all these grudges and act as if he doesn't care in the least bit, but he will, so very much. But one person can't hold that, and one day, Loki's going to explode."

Her blue eyes were focused intently on Thor's. "And Thor, explosions affect those all around them."

Loki's lips were thin. Absolutely idiotic of Sif to say all that to Thor, thought Loki, even as he tried to push away the truth of her words. If Thor's rebuke and dramatic exit weren't cruel enough, Loki would have to figure out some kind of prank to play on the future queen of Asgard.

But nothing could've prepared him for Thor's next words.

"I know."

Loki was frozen and in denial, No, I probably heard it wrong, Thor would never…

Even Sif seemed somewhat shocked. "What?"

"I said I know!" Thor snapped, voice hollow. "Everyone thinks I'm a fool when it comes to Loki, but I'm not. I know how much he lies, more than he speaks truth. I know how much pure spite are in the jokes he plays, rather than just fun and mischief. And I know how jealous he is of me too."

"Thor," started Sif, brushing her fingertips over his arm, but he was already walking away, cape whirling behind him.

Sif just stared out into the sky for a while, then turned and left too.

Loki would've left, if he could have. But he couldn't move. He was frozen, hands shaking as he slid to the floor, face white with shock.

He didn't cry.

Instead, he took Sif's words, pulled them into his heart, and remembered.

528 years later, on the SHIELD Helicarrier….

I guess this is what Sif would call my bursting point, thought Loki, hand paused above the fateful button that would send Thor spiraling to his doom.

Thor was staring at him out of wild eyes, sweat and perspiration beaded on his forehead. Loki met his gaze head-on.

Swallowing down any resistance, Loki pushed the button.

And as he watched the cage tumble down in the blink of an eye, Loki exploded.

Part II

Loki was very young when he had his first crush.

And he was also very young he had his first broken heart.

Natalya Rue was her name, Loki recalled. She was very lovely to look at as well, rich chestnut coils with even lily-white skin and large hazel pools for eyes. Loki had been absolutely infatuated with her.

She was the daughter of one of Odin's advisors, and so she ran about the palace often if she didn't have lessons. Sif, Fandral, Volstagg, Hogun, Thor and Loki were accompanied by Natalya on various days…and that was when all the troubles began.

Loki didn't know what love was, at that innocent ripe age, but he did know that how he felt around Natalya wasn't how he felt around Sif or the other girls. His stomach would start to flutter and his pulse racing, blood rushing to his face and he would begin to stutter. His eyes would be drawn to certain things on her face, like the dimple that flashed in her rosy cheek when she smiled, or the way her eyes glowed when she laughed.

After talking to Thor and subtly asking about crushes and 'love', (obviously not mentioning any names) Loki was thoroughly certain he was in love with Natalya.

So Loki watched her carefully, searching desperately for any sign that the young girl reciprocated his feelings.

Natalya was merry and gay in nature, and it was hard to find her without a smile on her face. But she could be a chatterbox and a gossip, and there was a spiteful streak in her nature at times. Yet love has made many a boy blind, and in Loki's opinion, Natalya Rue was a perfect angel surrounded by a halo of light.

But back in the day, Loki was very shy and not very forthcoming. He desperately longed to tell Natalya how he felt or make some move, but he was too afraid of rejection to move forward.

And after much consideration, Loki finally took Thor into his confidence.

"Thor," said Loki earnestly, green eyes large in his narrow face. "If I tell you a secret, do you promise you won't tell anyone?"

Thor nodded his head fervently, greedy to hear the 'secret'.

So Loki told Thor. When they were younger, Loki had no such qualms about pouring his heart out to Thor, and Thor was far less prone to teasing or making fun, although he wasn't the greatest at knowing the right words to say.

"But now I don't know what to do," Loki confessed. "Should I just tell her? Do you think she likes me?"

Thor's gaze went mischievous and he leaned over. "Well," he said softly, "I have seen her give you many glances, more than strictly necessary, and she does laugh more loudly than called for at your jokes."

Unconsciously, Loki's cheeks began to redden. "Are you for certain?"

With a smirk, Thor ruffled up Loki's hair the wrong way, and Loki usually hated that, but now he couldn't care less. "I'm positive, brother."

"Loki?"

Loki's heart skipped a beat, and he resisted the urge to whip around, stomach churning. He turned as casually and slowly as possible, gaze falling on Natalya.

She was smiling at him, and Loki answered with a flustered smile. "Yes?" He managed, mouth dry.

Natalya gave him a knowing look, and beckoned to him. "Can I…talk to you?"

Loki unconsciously gave Thor a quick glance out of the corner of his eye. His older brother was grinning hugely, blue eyes teasing and full of mirth and fun.

"Um, yeah, yeah, ok," Loki mumbled.

He followed her out of the little group of friends, until they were alone in a little corner.

She turned around to face him, and Loki's heart nearly stopped. Never in his life had he been so close to her. He could count the splash of caramel-colored freckles on her nose, and he was close enough to see the flecks on green in her eyes.

"So, Loki," she said, eyes dancing gaily, "can I get some advice?"

Come on, Loki, no girl will fall for a tongue-tied fool, Loki thought fiercely. "Depends on what the advice is," answered Loki with a merry wink.

Natalya seemed pleasantly surprised by his lack of stammering. "There's this boy I sort of like," she explained, blushing slightly, "and I wrote him a sort of note. I'm not sure if it's too sappy or whatever."

Loki could barely breathe. "Well, the letter's going to depend on who it's for."

Natalya mock sighed. "Surely you've already figured it out," she said with a teasing smirk. "I thought I'd made it pretty…obvious."

Odin's beard. Loki's head was in the clouds right now, and he was almost dizzy at that point. "Very well," he managed, "I'll look it over."

She handed him a neat, crisp slip of pale green paper, lightly scented. Green was Loki's favorite color, and nearly everyone knew that as all he wore was green.

It was a wonder that Loki could read through the whole thing, considering that Natalya's shrewd eyes were fixated on him the entire time, and even more of a wonder that he actually understood what he was reading.

"It's very good," Loki gasped out, cheeks reddening. In truth, while it wasn't exactly rubbish, the poetry in the note was a little sappy and prone to exaggeration, but in Loki's eyes, that note was one of the greatest things in the world.

Natalya looked pleased. "You think so?"

Loki nodded fervently, and that seemed good enough for her. Natalya thanked Loki, took the note back and left, leaving Loki hopelessly, desperately in love all over again.

"Are you sure that's what flirting is, Thor?" Loki asked doubtfully, pacing back and forth fretfully.

Thor was flopped on Loki's bed lazily, limbs all splayed out in a most ungraceful manner. "Lo, I know all about flirting," Thor said somewhat smugly. "Girls can be rather odd at times when it comes to wooing men, but I know for a fact that Natalya means that note for you."

"Yes, but why didn't she just give it to me then?" demanded Loki.

Thor shrugged absently. "Girls are weird."

With a sigh, Loki flopped on the bed next to Thor. "You are not a help at all, you big oaf."

There was a pause, then Thor rolled over so he was facing Loki. "Loki, it's not the end of the world," he said. "Natalya will be an idiot if she hasn't fell for you already."

Loki smirked, and poked Thor in the side, drawing out an undignified, high-pitched squeal, but then his face grew serious. "Thanks, Thor," he said.

Thor smiled sleepily. "Anytime, little brother."

"Oh look, what's this?" Thor gave Loki an amused look, waving a white envelope around, with the words To Thor on the front. "Guess you're not the only one with a secret admirer, Loki."

"I bet it's Laurel," Loki teased happily, poking his head over Thor's shoulder. "C'mon, open it!"

"I will," answered Thor, and with a quick twist of his wrist he ripped open the delicate wrapping.

Loki froze.

The paper was green.

Thor, who was oblivious to Loki's frozen, shocked state, read the entire note in a quick scan, and burst out laughing. "I've got a rather silly girl, this time," he said with a mirthful grin. "It's unsigned, though. I wonder who it is."

His gaze fell on Loki's paper-white face. "What is it, Loki?" Thor asked good-naturedly, fluffing up Loki's hair absently.

With more spite and bitterness than usual, Loki pulled himself away. "It's nothing," he ground out, ignoring the growing lump in his throat.

Loki didn't let himself think but kept running as fast as his feet would take him. Don't think, don't think, he kept telling himself.

He slowed to a stop once he felt he was far enough, standing in the woods that stood outside the palace. Loki dropped so his hands rested on his knees, closing his eyes.

What a fool he'd made out of himself.

All this time, it had been Thor Natalya had wanted. And it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Of course she would prefer Thor, everybody did. Thor was handsome and strong, funny and kind and sweet and loving. Nobody wants Loki, strange, pale, skinny Loki who preferred using magic instead of honorable, true fighting.

No one was ever going to want him when Thor was around.

"You were the one who sent me the note?"

Loki froze at the sound of Thor's incredulous voice, faint and distant but still audible.

Silently, he picked his way through the trees toward the sound of his brother's voice. Natalya was saying something in response, but her voice was too quiet to be understood.

And as Loki walked right in, his heart shattered. Because in the middle of a little clearing, Thor and Natalya were standing together.

More specifically, they were kissing, Natalya's pretty rosebud lips on Thor's, her fingers tangled in his blond hair.

Yet that could be talked off. Natalya jumped on Thor, Natalya startled Thor, Thor didn't want to kiss her but before he could think Natalya was kissing him…

But what couldn't be explained was the fact that Thor was kissing back just as fervently, one hand on her hip and one in her dark hair.

Struck with the terrible feeling of betrayal, Loki wasn't able to stop his choked cry, tears blurring his vision.

Then, like the coward he was, he turned and ran, ignoring Thor's exclamation of, "Loki!"

"There you are," said a sharp, bitter tone as Natalya poked her head into the tree Loki was currently in. "What the Hel are you doing here?"

Swallowing down his retort, Loki blithely dropped out of the tree and landed on his feet with feline grace, a grace he most certainly did not feel at the moment.

"Are you happy now?" Natalya asked in disgust, wrinkling the nose Loki had once considered the most beautiful nose in the entire world. "You just ruined my kiss with Thor."

Loki could only gape at her audacity.

"What's it to you, anyway?" Natalya said, with distaste and annoyance lacing her voice. "You literally approved the stupid note I wrote for him. The moment you ran off, Thor went all ballistic and guilty and made me search for you."

For fear of either screaming in agony, laughing hysterically at his own stupidity, or bursting into tears, Loki kept silent.

"By the Norns," breathed Natalya, staring at Loki. "Did you think…the note was for you?"

Then, the thrice-damned girl did the worst possible thing. She started laughing as if Loki's error was the most hilarious thing in the Nine.

"Is there something wrong?" Loki asked icily.

"Something wrong?!" Natalya said disbelievingly, still smiling. "You actually thought that I'd fallen for you. You being the pathetic, scrawny freak who doesn't live outside the library that you are? You fight like a coward and depend on tricks to fight. You don't hold a candle to Thor."

Her face was inches away from his. "Don't take this the wrong way, but I think a part of your brain may be missing."

Loki was trembling with rage. "Well, this is me," he hissed, fingers tingling with wisps of green seidr, "taking it the wrong way."

With a mighty flourish of his fingers, Loki teleported her to Heimdall knows where.

And then all of the fight left Loki, and he collapsed onto the ground.

Thor found Loki sitting in the middle of the fresh-smelling grass, head hung dejectedly.

You pathetic, scrawny, freak!

That was all that echoed through Loki's head. Was that really what he was? Was that all he was?

You fight like a coward.

He had heard this many times before, but never had he taken them to heart as much as he did at that moment. Did he fight like a coward? Was he pathetic? Was he weak?

"Loki!" cried Thor in alarm, dropping next to his younger brother. "By the Norns, Loki, I am so, so sorry….I didn't mean it, I didn't know it was her, she just took me by surprise, and I wasn't going to…"

Once again, the pangs of betrayal crept over Loki, but more than anything Loki wanted what Thor was saying to be true. So he decided to test his older brother.

"It's fine," Loki brushed off, sitting up and bringing disinterest and indifference in his gaze. He forced a smile. "I'm just getting over it, but I'm fine now."

He grabbed Thor's hands. "Thor," he said, keeping his voice as nonchalant as possible, "I want you to be honest with me. When Natalya—when she kissed you…did you like it?"

Thor swallowed hard, and it was a while before he spoke again. "I swear, Loki, when you told me how you felt about her, I was sure all I felt for her was just sisterly feelings," he said hesitantly, reluctance all over his face. "But after the talk in the glen, and the kiss…" his voice trailed off as he looked at Loki with earnest sorrow.

Loki's mouth was dry. "Do not be so considerate of my feelings, Thor," he said lightly, lying through his teeth. "I do not care whether or not you…" he gestured vaguely with his hands, "become, er, romantically involved with Natalya."

Although Loki said it guilelessly and flawlessly, the lie did not hold a ring of truth, and he waited with dread for Thor's answer.

Thor clapped Loki on the back. "I would never dream of betraying you like that," he said openly, face honest.

Of course, Loki, Thor would never do such a thing, Loki told himself in relief.

Loki had never been more wrong.

In less than two months, nobody would say, 'Prince Thor', but now it was always, 'Prince Thor and Lady Natalya'.

And Loki? Well, the first time the couple kissed passionately in front of Loki, the youngest Prince of Asgard excused himself to his room.

He curled in on himself into a small ball on the corner of his bed, wishing the ground would swallow him up. He screamed and beat the walls with his fists and his view of Thor as his perfect, heroic, golden older brother was beginning to change.

But in all of that, Loki didn't dare cry.

Because crying was something a weak, pathetic coward would do.

Part III

"Another!"

Thor's boisterous voice rang out loudly through the large, golden Asgardian hall, and his demand was accompanied by the sound of a glass cup being smashed into a thousand pieces.

Loki, standing aside in a much more formal manner, winced as he stared at the remains of the expensive glass. He didn't want to sound like a sappy environmentalist person who was concerned for the welfare of all Asgardians—because he wasn't—but Loki couldn't help but think that glass probably could've fed a homeless family for a week. At least, until Thor utterly destroyed it.

Apparently he wasn't the only one having that thought (or at least something similar to it), because several cooks and stewards were hovering around, looking annoyed.

Any other day, nobody would've cared. But this was the day, the day before Prince Thor would be referred to as King Thor. Yes, tonight was the night before the Crown Prince's coronation, and all of Asgard was rejoicing.

And today being what today was, the most expensive, most beautiful glasses were out. Those glasses had been out for Odin's coronation, for Odin and Frigga's wedding, and for Borr's coronation. And here was a drunken Thor, destroying them like they were nothing.

Loki was tempted to let the paranoid stewards stew (A/N - See what I did there? So proud) for a little bit, but now Thor was really acting drunk. It was amusing, and any other day Loki would've just watched, but he was going to practically destroy Thor's special day tomorrow so Loki felt he owed it to Thor to escort him to his room.

Except for Loki and the disapproving stewards, nobody was really sober anymore. Frigga and Odin had excused themselves a while ago, and Loki couldn't really blame them. He himself couldn't understand why people enjoyed getting drunk.

"Thor," Loki called loudly, walking up to the staggering warrior. "Don't drop the cups like that."

Thor turned bright, mocking eyes on Loki. "What cups?" he slurred together, raising the next glass in his hand. "Oh…this one?" And with a teasing grin, Thor threw the glass on the ground with all his force.

A steward gasped before he could stop himself, but although Thor was quick in his drunken state, Loki was quicker. He caught the falling glass deftly with his magic, twisting his hands as he guided the glass back safely to the table.

Loki snapped his long fingers in front of Thor's face. "Thor, you are drunk," he said firmly, voice low enough so the gossiping maids wouldn't catch it. "You must go to your room now."

"But the party's barely started!" exclaimed Thor stupidly, obviously unaware of the fact that it was currently half past one in the morning.

Yet Loki would get nowhere arguing with Thor about what the time was, precisely, so he just went with it. "I know," said Loki soothingly, "but you are to be crowned king tomorrow, Thor, and how will you enjoy the best day of your life with a splitting headache?"

Loki helpfully excluded the fact that Thor would probably already have an awful headache by the time he was crowned given the buckets he was drinking, and he also omitted the tiny little detail that tomorrow would not be the best day of Thor's life, if things were to go at all Loki's way.

"Fine," grumbled Thor, and unthinkingly he used Loki's arm to drag himself up, with only resulted in the two of them spilling onto the ground in an undignified tangle of arms and legs.

"Fool!" snapped Loki, brushing aside a nervous servant's help and dragging all of Thor's heavy bulk up painstakingly.

It took a great deal of work, but eventually Loki managed to pull Thor all the way up to his room. "You're welcome," mumbled Loki, opening the door and shoving Thor in there unceremoniously.

After watching Thor fumble around with his clothing with a sardonically arched brow, Loki scowled and stepped into the room after his older brother.

"You can't do anything without me, can you?" he asked, not expecting an answer.

Struggling Thor into his clothing was surprisingly hard, especially when the Thor in question was utterly drunk and refusing to cooperate. But at last Thor was out of his ceremonial armor and dressed in his simple nighttime tunic and trousers, and Loki hurriedly got him into bed.

"Goodnight, you big oaf," said Loki at last, turning to leave. "Tomorrow's going to be a very important day in Asgard's history, and I'm locking the door to make sure you don't drag some random girl in here. I swear, if you bring some poor maid in here, it'll be written all over Asgard's history books."

There isn't a reply, and with a feeling of satisfaction Loki realized Thor was asleep. But he was proven mistaken when Thor's voice called him back.

"Loki," began his older brother's hesitant voice, "will you stay with me?"

Loki's eyebrows shot up alarmingly. It had been a long time since Loki had last slept in Thor's bed, and he'd rather not do it tonight, for fear of being overwhelmed by sentimental feelings. Loki could spare no room for sentiment for what he had to do tomorrow.

But Thor seemed to guess where his thoughts were going too…a drunk Thor wasn't a fully stupid Thor. "Not here in the bed," Thor said sleepily, forcing himself to sit up, "but when I'm king. I can't do everything myself, and I'll need your help. You won't go wandering off like you always do?"

Loki felt something unwanted and bitter rise in his mouth. Of course that was how Thor would want it. Thor would prance around in all his glory and might, the handsome, brave, strong King of Asgard and Protector of the Nine Realms. Whereas on the other hand, Loki would be backstage, making all the hard decisions with the tact, skill and diplomacy Thor did not have but lacked badly, and Loki would receive none of the credit and remain in the shadow of Thor's greatness.

There was a time when Loki would've spat out exactly what he thought about Thor's inconsiderate words, but now he was more restrained. "That depends," said Loki lightly, masterfully steering them out of an emotional, brotherly conversation he did not need to have right now.

"Depends on what?"

"On how much you show your appreciation for me," said Loki with a sly wink, preparing to ask for the envied daggers Thor had gotten from Vanaheim.

Thor's reaction surprises him. Brilliant blue eyes teasing and locked on Loki's, Thor slides down to the floor on one knee and presses a palm flat on the ground. "Prince Loki Odinson of Asgard, Dearest Brother Mine, with all of my heart, I humbly beseech thee as…"

Loki should've felt some smug satisfaction at the sight of Thor on his knees before him—mockery though it was, yet all Loki could feel was a strong sense of wrongness, and bile rose in his throat.

Quickly, Loki put out a hand and yanked Thor to his feet. "Get up, you idiot," he said dryly, ignoring his racing heart. "If this is what you call charming, it's a wonder you get any girls in your bed."

Thor winked at Loki. "You'd be surprised," he said. "Why, there was this one…"

"Ah, ah, ah," Loki cut him off loudly, "I really don't need to hear about my older brother's sexual exploits."

A familiarly large, rough, calloused palm threaded its way into Loki's hair and fondly rumpled it up. "I love you, Loki."

What was this sudden lump in Loki's throat? "Me too," Loki managed, mouth dry.

The fact that Thor was drunk suddenly crashed down on Loki. And when Thor was drunk, he had the tendency to be far more open with his feelings.

"I don't know if I've wronged you somehow," Thor was saying earnestly. He was pressed up close to Loki, and his hand was resting on its familiar place at the back of his neck. It was a childhood gesture meant to soothe, but all Loki could feel was its heavy, heavy weight. "You've been so distant to me lately, Loki," went on Thor, "have I done something? Is there anything I can do to fix it?"

Oh goddamnit, were those tears prickling at the back of his eyes? At least Thor wouldn't remember this in the morning.

Anything to fix it? You've already done enough, Loki wanted to spit in Thor's face. But he kept his voice cool. "It's nothing, we're just growing up, Thor," he lied fluently. "You can't expect me to tag behind you forever."

Thor didn't answer and stepped back from Loki, still pinning his younger brother with the weight of his gaze. "I'll always be there for you, you know?" he asked, voice soft. "If you ever need me, I'll be here."

Loki was seething inwardly. You fucking dare to say that? After all you put me through…

He forced himself to calm down. This wasn't for revenge, it was for the good of Asgard. It was very likely that Loki was the only one not blinded by Thor's radiance enough to see how incapable and naive the Crown Prince was.

Loki probably should've said something about how he would be there for Thor always, too, but all he could manage was a weak, "I know."

And before Loki could ooze out more disgusting sentiment, he whirled around and left the room, as he should've done ten minutes ago.

Loki couldn't sleep.

That obviously was explainable, considering he was committing treason and basically destroying his brother's coronation, and if he was fretting about tomorrow going perfectly, it was understandable.

What wasn't understandable or acceptable was the fact that he was stressing about Thor.

One drunken night's sentimental rumblings shouldn't strike out decades, even centuries of hurt, confusion, pain and bitterness.

Or can it?

With a bitter snarl, Loki leapt out of bed and began pacing. He hated Thor, right? Using his magic to project the images, he summoned up his worst memories of his brother—Thor going out riding with the Warriors Three and Sif without considering asking Loki, Thor laughing at Loki whenever his 'tricks' failed, and Thor, furious when Loki cut of Sif's hair but amused when Fandral burned Loki's spell books.

Loki stared at the projection on the wall, feeling a surge of wild, fierce, bottled-up anger just waiting to explode. There.

He was about to remove the flickering set of moving images, but before he would stop himself the memories slipped into golden ones—Thor refusing to go on a strongly-anticipated journey with Tyr and his friends because Loki was sick, Thor recklessly risking his life for Loki on an ill-fated adventure gone wrong, Thor in all his rage when he heard village boys mocking Loki.

Loki was the god of lies, but he wasn't going to lie to himself now. He hated Thor….and loved him too.

He would poison Thor then spend every waking minute nursing him back to health, Loki would throw a knife at Thor then rush to intercept the blade's path with his body.

Was it even possible to love someone so much, and hate them so venomously too?

But this wasn't going to change anything, Loki told himself, gazing out of his window into the moonlit grounds outside.

He took in a deep, shuddering breath, and let it out slowly, a rumbling shudder shaking his frame. By the Norns, he wasn't going cry, was he?

And for a moment, it seemed as if Loki would.

But he didn't. With another slow breath, Loki wiped away any last trace of emotion and steeled his nerves. This sentiment was absolutely ridiculous.

Thor would never be king as long as Loki was alive, and the burden of the throne will fall to Loki.

With a savage, feral grin, Loki tore himself away from the window. He would need to get his rest.

Tomorrow would be a big day.

Part IV

"Sweet dreams, Asgardian scum."

Loki hadn't the strength to answer with a snarky reply as the Chitauri soldier threw him unceremoniously into the small, dark cell. White hot pain exploded in his abused side as it collided harshly with the ground, but Loki had already screamed himself hoarse and now, there simply was no energy left to scream again.

The heavy metal door closed with a slam. There was the rattle of thick chains, the turn of a key, and then Loki was left in silence.

His internal magic was working at top rate, and any other time Loki would've been healed within the hour. But the Chitauri had found it amusing to see his magic mend broken skin or knit bones back together, and now Loki's magic was utterly drained. It would be well over a day before it could summon the strength needed to heal.

The Chitauri could be handled, Loki knew, but once they had their 'fun' with Loki, he'd been tied up under a giant, venomous, snake-like creature that was deep in sleep, and acid drops of burning poison dripped from its fangs, poison that could eat away at a person's skin.

Any mortal would die an agonizing death after the first five minutes. Yet Loki's magic-both a blessing and a curse—kept healing him after each drop, but after the worst hour Loki had ever endured, his magic slowed down considerably.

Loki pulled himself up to a halfway sitting position instead of his humiliating slouch on the ground, the quickening of his harsh, ragged breathing being the only testimony to his pain.

He'd been in this hellhole for God knows how long. The days were endless, long, and utterly awful, and Loki would've wasted away if it hadn't been for the one bright spot in his life—Gamora.

She was a strange being, supposedly the 'daughter' of Thanos but Loki knew Gamora didn't consider him her real father. She seemed to be an odd mixture of Thor and Loki himself, possessing Loki's sharp wit and quick, intelligent mind but also unfortunately containing Thor's brash arrogance and compassionate heart underneath all that indifference.

The green-skinned assassin was too clever for Loki to manipulate, and there was no hope of escape through her. So Loki contented himself with her company, appreciating the existence of someone who wasn't going to beat him just for the fun of it. Gamora would torture if the need arose, but she took no pleasure from it.

His thoughts were unfortunately beginning to drift to Thor now, his stupid, idiotic, imbecile of a not-brother. Right now, Thor probably knew of Loki's origin and true parentage, and there was no doubt that his once older brother now despised him.

But there was hope, hope deep within Loki, hope that Thor at least cared for Loki a little bit. It was foolish to hope, yet Loki did anyway. Pain was real, Loki knew that all too well, but so was hope, if only Loki clung to it.

Maybe it was just Loki, but it was getting uncharacteristically cold in here. Loki let out an involuntary shudder, hastily retracting his fingers from the now-cold floor.

Okay, now it definitely wasn't just Loki. The damned room was absolutely freezing, and Loki was huddled in on himself in an attempt to conserve as much body heat as possible. It was growing harder to feel his fingers, and Loki bit his lip anxiously, not needing to add frostbite to the list of injuries he currently had.

Not to mention the fact that the cold air was feeling awful on the sores and bruises all over his body. There was a way to end all of this right now….but Loki stubbornly refused to even consider it.

Well, that mindset was going to change fast. The temperature was dropping very quickly, and the choice was now a matter between Loki's life or Loki's pride.

In the end, the argument that eventually won him over was the fact that resisting was probably something the prideful Thor would do. With a long-suffering sigh, Loki exhaled slowly and let his skin shift into its original color.

Rich, violet-blue slipped quickly through the milky-white of Loki's skin, contaminating it like some kind of disease, and Loki knew without looking that his eyes had changed into that horrible, blood-red ruby color.

But Loki didn't have time to fret over that when he gasped audibly in relief, the cold air nothing to him. As a matter of fact, it felt rather good, the way an Aesir Loki felt when sliding into a warm bath. Jotun skin, too, was apparently quickly mended. The cold now soothed his wounds instead of irritating them, and Loki felt his magic stir with a new invigorating energy.

The problem was, now that Loki was no longer in such overwhelming pain, the humiliation of being in this form caught up with him. What would all of Asgard say if they saw him in this state? They would be shocked, horrified, and mutter about how they always knew there was something wrong with the second Prince of Asgard. Thor would look away, utterly repulsed. Frigga may be kinder to him, but it would all be out of pity, hiding her disgust at her Jotun so-called son. And Odin…Loki didn't even want to think about the All-Father's reaction.

Loki wished with all his heart that he could just fall asleep now, but his mind simply wouldn't allow it. He felt overcome with a sudden hysterical urge to either laugh, cry, scream, or do all three simultaneously.

Was it just Loki, or was it getting warmer in here?

Loki cursed Thanos, the Chitauri, Nebula, or whoever was doing this to him. Unfortunately, he didn't have the body of a Fire Giant (or whatever the hell they'd be called) stashed away somewhere.

After the temperature grew even moderately uncomfortable for Loki's Jotun skin, he all-too-gladly slipped into his Aesir skin. It was a little chilly, but Loki had the feeling it was going to get warm fast. Maybe a little too warm.

That was the understatement of the century. The temperature when from a sunny winter day to a cozy summery day, to a hot summer's day, to a blazingly hot desert summer's day.

Loki closed his eyes in agony, chest heaving as his body screamed for water. The temperature was rising steadily, and the ground was burning to the touch. Not that there was much Loki could do about that, considering he had to stay on the ground.

Loki was growing dizzy now, head aching horribly and stomach churning nauseously, and the front strands of his hair, once matted with dried blood, were now drenched with sweat and stuck to his forehead. His face was flushed red, pulse abnormally quick with skin sweaty and clammy.

Thick beads of sweat slipped down and stung Loki's eye, and all he could see was tinged with red. Loki moaned helplessly, head falling to one side as his eyes fluttered shut. Everything hurt and his head was aching, gaze swimming and palms burning.

"Loki?"

That voice. Loki's eyes opened sluggishly, heart rate quickening unintentionally when he saw who it was.

Odin.

Loki too far gone to bother figuring out how the King of Asgard appeared in his cell, seemingly by magic. All he knew was that he needed out of here, and Odin could help.

"Odin King, Father," Loki begged, adding the endearment at the end as an additional plea, "Please, I beg of you, get me out of here."

Odin just smiled at Loki, ignoring his pleas. "Loki," he said, single blue eye filled with amusement, "I am very proud of you."

"I—" Loki began, preparing to snap something sharp back, but Odin beat him to it.

"My whole purpose in taking you from Jotunheim," Odin plunged on, voice flat and emotionless, "was to brighten the light of Thor in front of your shadow, and I can't believe how well you've done. You were a pathetic, weak, cowardly child, and you went beyond my expectations and committed treason, killed innocent mortals, and attempted to kill Thor." A rare twinkle shone in his eye. "Really, Laufeyson, you shouldn't have."

Loki's jaw dropped as he stood stock-still. Of all the things he expected Odin to say, this wasn't it.

And damn, he was surprised at how much it hurt, stomach churning within him. He opened his mouth, but his silver tongue failed him, and Loki could only stare dumbly at Odin.

With a harsh chuckle, Odin disappeared.

"Loki?"

Once again, another voice calling out his name struck a chord.

"Frigga?" Loki mumbled weakly, voice parched and dry, with hope rising unintentionally in his throat. "All-Mother, Amma, please, get me out of here, I beg of you."

His heart sank when he saw the derisive, disgusted look on Frigga's beautiful, regal face. "Amma?" Frigga spat out incredulously. "How dare that word fall from your filthy Jotun lips?"

Loki's world was flying into hundreds of pieces. No matter what Odin would say, Frigga was the one person who would understand, who would insist Loki was still her little beautiful baby boy even as Loki insisted he was the monster.

Never had he imagined it would be the other way around.

"You are no son of mine," Frigga spat out haughtily, and she, too, disappeared in a shower of golden sparks.

If Loki's magic wasn't so depleted and useless already, he would've conjured up a dagger and stabbed himself.

Everything in the room began to grow fuzzy, and when Loki blinked, suddenly, he wasn't in his cell anymore. He was standing in the middle of a whirling blizzard on Jotunheim, sharp bits of snow stinging his face. The stink of dead bodies reached his nose, but Loki had become so accustomed to it in Thanos' halls that he didn't retch.

"Loki!"

Out of the swirling, spinning snow, a dark shape could be made out. "Thor?" Loki tried, far too afraid of his reaction to call him 'brother'. "What are you doing here?"

Thor completely disregarded his question, finally becoming fully visible as he stopped in front of Loki. He was dressed for battle, leather and armor caked with fresh Jotun blood, and as he swung Mjolnir at his side, she sang with bloodlust.

A faint smile was hovering over Thor's lips, and he smelt of blood, sweat and ozone, crackling with electricity. Staring at his brother, Loki couldn't help but feel a dawning sense of horror.

Smirking, Thor spun Mjolnir idly in his hands until all that could be seen was a rapid grey blur. "Why do you look at me so?" Thor asked, amused. "I've already defeated all of the enemy."

Thor was stepping closer to Loki now, blue eyes half-playful but toned with solemnity. A rough, calloused hand cupped Loki's jaw and gently pulled it up to meet Thor's eyes, thumb brushing over Loki's frantically beating pulse.

"Well," said Thor with a light chuckle, "perhaps not. I believe I missed one."

The hand dropped, and Thor smiled before raising Mjolnir to deliver the final, killing blow.

Loki awoke with a shout.

More accurately, a scream.

His nails dug into the now-cool ground as Loki writhed helplessly, screaming, half from pain and half from despair. Everything was on fire, burning and forcing scream after scream from Loki's raw throat.

Oh Norns, no, he was going to cry….

Suddenly, there were footsteps, but Loki didn't want to hear it. "Leave, Thor," he gasped out between cries of pain, "I swear, I won't…"

"Shh, shh," a gentle, female voice was murmuring soothingly, and Loki was aware of a presence dropping to the ground beside him.

That didn't placate him at all.

"Frigga," he managed in his delirious state, scrabbling away, "I'm sorry, I'm so, so, sorry, Mother…" Loki cringed inwardly as that unintentional affectionate term slipped from his lips.

A cool hand was rubbing his hair lightly. "I'm not—" began the voice, but Loki interrupted.

"I know you can't call me your son," he said stupidly, fully aware of the act he was blabbering, "and I know I'm a monster, but…"

"You're not a monster, Loki," Frigga said softly. "And you'll always be my son."

"But you said…" Loki started frantically.

"You were hallucinating," she contradicted, "it was the heat."

It was as if a huge weight was taken off his shoulders. "Really?" Loki sounds like a child, but he couldn't care less.

"Truly," answered the mollifying voice. There was a sudden, erratic pause. "I love you, my son."

Loki let out a contented sigh, happy despite the extreme, taxing pain his body was in. "I love you too, Mother."

As Frigga rose to leave, it may just have Loki's feverish state, but he could've sworn he saw a flash of green skin.

+1

"You couldn't allow me to see her funeral."

Thor was wrapped in a dark cloak, dark blond strands of hair spilling over his shoulders. Grief made his eyes dark, but there was a steely resolve and determination behind them that wasn't usually seen.

"I asked Odin," said Thor after giving Loki an undecipherable look, irritating Loki as he wasn't able to read Thor as well as he was able to before. "But he said no."

Loki offered Thor a cold sneer, staring at him through the golden barrier that separated them. "I can't imagine you tried terribly hard."

"I didn't," answered Thor bluntly. "Because I knew what the answer was going to be. You made your choices, Loki. We can't risk the lives of all the other Asgardians."

Loki didn't answer. With a heavy sigh, Thor bowed his head wearily.

"Why are you here?" Loki asked finally.

Silence. The weight of it rested heavily on Loki's shoulders.

Much to Loki's relief, Thor broke it at last. "I know not myself," he said, voice laced with bitterness and sorrow. He let out a harsh, dry, curt bark of laughter. "Perhaps a part of me hoped that I could grieve with my little brother."

Loki swallowed hard, mouth dry as sawdust. "Perhaps," he said. "But then that part of you would be wrong."

And that was when Thor exploded.

The filmy golden barrier, the only thing protecting Loki from Thor's rage, vanished with the push of a button. Then Thor was inside, a hand roughly gripping the front of Loki's shirt and forcing him backwards.

An involuntary groan escaped Loki's lips as his back collided painfully with the wall of the cell. "Do not dare to act so indifferent, Loki," said Thor in a low voice, filled with barely suppressed rage and anger. "She loved you. How many times have I seen our mother crying for you, spending hours explaining a spell to you, comforting you? Frigga loved you like a son."

Thor's furious words were affecting Loki far more than he would admit, so he had to say something, something to say he didn't care. "She may have loved me like a mother," answered Loki, voice so soft and dry it didn't sound like his. "But she wasn't. Frigga was never my mother."

Thor let out an enraged cry and slammed Loki against the wall a few more times. The prisoners surrounding them watched idly with fascination, enjoying the show and secretly glad they weren't in Loki's face. The rage of Thor was certainly a sight to behold. But this was Thor and Loki's moment, and in the spur of the moment Loki used what little magic he had to set up a barrier around them, shielding them from prying eyes.

There was a time when Thor would've hurled Loki onto the ground, screamed at him, maybe even kicked him if he were angry enough, and then left. But now, since Thor was disgustingly sentimental, he took a few deep breaths to calm himself, head dropping.

Loki chanced meeting Thor's gaze, and froze. Surely those weren't tears swimming in his brilliantly blue eyes?

"Do you remember," Thor said, voice thick and head still stubbornly down, "what she would always say when we would fight?" There was a bitter, ironic smile in Thor's voice. "Sometimes you will grow angry with each other, and there are times when you absolutely must fight it out. But never, ever say cruel things you never mean…."

"…because cruel words hurt far more than any punch," Loki finished with Thor, green eyes bright with embarrassing, unshed tears. Loki chuckled. "And look at us now."

Loki expected to be chastised for that, maybe another few head-slams against the wall. But Thor had no strength left in him. He crumbled to the ground, knees buckling under him.

Looking surprisingly like a child, Thor buried his face in his knees, heavily built frame shaking with overpowering sobs. Loki, after a moment's hesitation, dropped his knees beside Thor, and clumsily rubbed Thor's back in an awkward attempt to soothe him.

Loki called up an illusion of Frigga, standing with a radiant smile on her beautiful face, rich golden hair surrounded by a halo of light. And that was Loki's breaking point.

He bowed his own head and began to sob along with Thor, no longer caring about embarrassing himself or his pride.

He was a student, mourning his instructor. A prince, mourning his Queen. A villain, mourning the woman who offered love he carelessly refused.

But most of all, he was a little boy, mourning his mother.