A/N - Okay, so I have lots of things to say, but I'll try to make it quick. One, thank you so much for your encouraging reviews, readers, they're what made me finally get my shit together, sit down, and write this chapter. Two, this chapter was supposed to be a lot longer. Like, three times as long, and it was supposed to be finished too. But I kind of just gave up and decided to publish it as it is. Three, I'm really sorry for my lateness, but as far as excuses go I don't think mine is half-bad? I kind of got sucked into the hellhole that is the Supernatural fandom, and believe it or not I binged the show in two months (I would not recommend doing that, I skipped a ton of filler episodes too) and now I'm fishing through all the Destiel fan fiction there is. I'm also trying to write a supernatural fanfic, but I shoved that to the side so I could finish this. Many thanks to all the readers who stuck with me!
Thor woke with a start.
He was in a clinical, airy, crisp little room, lying down comfortably. He was sleepy, warm and hazy, but most decidedly wasn't dead.
He sat up sharply, everything coming back to him in a flash. He was shirtless, and instantly his fingers lightly ran over the spot on his chest where the wound should've been.
It isn't there. All that remained of it was a faint scar.
Thor falls back onto the plush, white pillows with a sigh, closing his eyes. Apparently the wound wasn't quite as serious as Thor had thought.
"They did a good job," said a familiar female voice.
Thor blinked, and his gaze fell upon Natasha. She was leaning back in a leather armchair next to his bed, dressed comfortably with supple legs crossed.
Thor sat up with a groan. "What happened?" he asked, voice hoarse. He bit his lip. "Where's Loki?"
Natasha sat up as well, resting her elbows on her knees and surveying him with her intense, keen stare. "After the…accident," she said carefully, "Loki, Tony and Bruce spent all day working on you, and worked on you all through the night, too. To be fair, I wasn't much of a help, but I just managed to bustle them all to bed now. I wouldn't advise you to go waking Loki up now."
She pressed the tips of her fingers together. "That's not all," she said. "The dagger which struck you was poisoned, and apparently it was Loki's."
Thor resisted the urge to groan aloud. He needed to think of a good, believable lie to fool everybody, unless Loki had spun up his own version of the events. In that case, Thor should probably keep his mouth shut until he spoke with Loki.
He sighed. "I expect you want answers," he said.
Natasha raised an eyebrow. "Answers?"
"About why Loki turned up, alive," Thor pointed out, "after I clearly told you that he died."
Natasha let out a short laugh. "Thor, I doubt there's an Avenger here that doesn't keep secrets," she said. "I keep secrets, too, probably more than you'd ever guess. I'm not going to worm your secret out of you."
She gave him a serious look, but stood up to leave. Then she paused, hand poised above the doorknob. "A wise person once told me that, It's your life," said Natasha at last, a small smirk gracing her full lips. "You make your own choices." She opened the door, and flashed him one last, searching look.
"But remember that after the choices, then come the consequences," she finished. "Just make sure that the choices are worth the consequences."
Natasha smiled at him. "I"ll be just downstairs if you need me," she said, then stepped out of the door and walked away.
After Natasha left, Thor awkwardly changed into the neatly folded clothes that were lying by his bed, trying not to think about what Natasha had said. Of course Loki was worth the consequences.
Thor didn't want to lie in the bed all day like some invalid, so he attempted to get up. He was only faintly nauseous, and all that remained of the wound was an ache. Bearable, but painful nonetheless.
He swung his legs to the side of the bed and gingerly lowered himself to the ground. Biting back the wave of dizziness that threatened to bring him to his knees, Thor somehow managed to stumble out the door.
No. Thor wasn't going to walk out of this room, staggering like a drunk idiot. He inhaled deeply, then let it out as slowly as possible. You are fine, Thor, he told himself. Now just breathe.
No doubt Stormbreaker was still lying outside. He swung open a window, stretched out his hand and called her to him. She chose the path of least resistance, and fortunately, without a single crash, Stormbreaker landed in his hand.
Her firm, steady grip in his grasp steadied him. Thor swung her a couple of times, and forced himself to keep doing it until the nausea wore off. He finally hooked her onto his belt and leaned against the wall, trying to make some believable lie as to why he was almost fatally stabbed with Loki's dagger. Natasha may've surprisingly accepted his wish of privacy, but the others most certainly wouldn't.
While Thor was pondering his dilemma, and sincerely wishing he had Loki to help him, a voice caused his head to jerk up suddenly, cursing the guilty look that was almost certainly on his face.
"Thor!" said Bruce in surprise. "I just came to see how you were doing, but you shouldn't be up yet. How're you feeling?"
"Just peachy," answered Thor with a wide, false smile. Damn it, here come the inevitable questions. Thor was going to hold them off for as long as he could.
He refused to look weak and use the wall for support, so he stood upright. "Natasha told me you and Tony were working on me all night," Thor said. "Thank you for that. You've done an amazing job, I honestly feel as good as new." Well, that wasn't exactly true, but maybe buttering up Bruce'll do the trick.
Thor chose to omit Loki's name on purpose, despite knowing from Natasha that his brother helped Tony and Bruce. Drawing attention to Loki's name would only be unwanted.
However, there was a reason Thor wasn't named the god of lies. Omitting Loki's name, as Loki himself could've told Thor quite easily, will only cause Bruce to mention it.
"Loki helped too, quite a bit," Bruce said, and Thor cringed inside. But Bruce wasn't asking the questions quite yet. "I doubt we'd have been able to patch you up so well if it hadn't been for him."
"He didn't look too good, though," Bruce added as an afterthought. "You might want to see if he's okay."
A pause. Bruce sent him a searching look. "Thor, about what happened earlier…"
Thor really wasn't in the mood. The thought of how stressed out Loki must be at the moment had just occurred to him, much to his shame. But Thor couldn't snap at Bruce like he wanted too—Bruce had likely just helped save his life, and he deserved better.
"Bruce, I really need to talk with my brother right now," he cut in. "And I don't want to explain everything right now. It's a long story." Thor was struck with a sudden inspiration. "But I just told Natasha about everything," he lied. "Would you mind asking her?"
There was no doubt that lie would backfire on him later, but getting to Loki at the moment was all Thor cared about. He sent Bruce a beseeching look.
"Yeah, yeah, of course," said Bruce. "Where is she?"
"Upstairs," lied Thor again. "And do you happen to know where Loki is?"
With luck, Bruce'll wander around upstairs for a while before eventually coming downstairs and finding Natasha.
"He's in your room," Bruce said. "There wasn't time to get him his own." Thor nodded distractedly.
"Thanks," Thor said, before walking away and bracing himself to face the music.
The music…turned out to be even worse than he expected.
The moment Thor stepped into his room, he was roughly taken and shoved against the wall, a deadly, sharp blade held to his throat. The hand that held the blade was shaking badly.
"Loki?" Thor ventured, but Loki cut him off with a hiss.
"What. The. Fucking. Hell. Have. You. Done." Loki's voice was razor-sharp and left no room for excuses.
Thor swallowed. Trying to bluff his way out of it was foolish, but he had to try. "What—what do you mean?" said Thor, mouth dry.
Loki's glare was heated. "My magic is off, moving like syrup through my veins, like an element foreign to me," he bit out fiercely. "You are acting like a jumpy rabbit around me. Then I suddenly black out, and when I wake up my dagger is buried in your chest. Now tell me, brother. What have you done with me?"
Thor opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it and pressed his lips together stubbornly.
Loki swore. He opened his mouth to further interrogate Thor, but then closed it, apparently getting a better idea.
Thor got an uneasy feeling. "Brother?" he asked, stomach knotting.
Loki sent him an almost sad look. "I'm sorry," was all he said, before tapping Thor's forehead.
And in a few moments, the two of them tumbled into Thor's memories.
"I know what it's like to lose.
To feel so desperately that you're right, yet to fail nonetheless. As lightning turns the legs to jelly, I ask you, to what end?
Dread it, run from it…Destiny arrives all the same. And now, it's here.
Or should I say…I am."
Thor's breathing was heavy, hoarse and erratic. "You talk too much."
Thanos turned away from Thor as though he were no more than a pesky insect. His gaze fixated on Loki, who was standing stiffly in front of him.
"The Tesseract, or, your brother's head. I assume you have a preference?"
Loki smirked, a cruel edge to it. "Oh, I do. Kill away."
As unimaginable pain built in Thor's head, tears began to form quickly in Loki's eyes. His face was unnaturally still and impassive, and he was resisting the urge to turn away.
"All right, stop!"
Thanos stopped instantly, and Thor gasped in relief. "We don't have the Tesseract," he managed. "It was destroyed on Asgard."
Neither Thanos nor Loki looked at him. Loki's face was heavy with guilt, and the Tesseract formed in Loki's hand.
"You really are the worst, brother," said Thor, trying to hid fear and panic bubbling up his throat. Thanos had the next Infinity Stone in his grasp.
Loki finally met Thor's eye. "I assure you, brother," he said, voice unusually soft, "the sun will shine upon us again."
Thanos scoffed. "Your optimism is misplaced, Asgardian."
"Well, for one thing," replied Loki, "I'm not Asgardian." His eyes narrowed. "And for another, we have a Hulk."
Everything else happened in a blur, the defeat of the Hulk, and the death of Heimdall. Thor was barely watching, trying to form some sort of escape plan. He couldn't simply sit here while half his people lay slaughtered.
Ebony Maw held out the Tesseract to Thanos, and his cruel voice rang out as he sank to a knee. "My humble personage bows before your grandeur. No other being has ever had the might, nay the nobility, to wield not one, but 2 Infinity Stones. The universe lies within your grasp."
Thanos crushed the Tesseract in his hand, revealing the radiant, blue Space Stone, and placed it onto his Infinity Gauntlet. He looked up.
"There are two more Stones on Earth," he said. "Find them, my Children, and bring them to me on Titan."
Proxima Midnight inclined her head. "Father, we will not fail you."
Then a familiar, smooth, sly voice rang out. "If I might interject," interrupted Loki, stepping forward, "If you're going to Earth, you might want a guide. I do have a bit of experience in that arena."
Once again, fear settled at the back of Thor's mouth like a bad taste. What was Loki doing? Didn't he know who he was dealing with?
Thanos sneered. "If you consider failure experience."
As always, Loki was quick to answer. "I consider experience, experience," he retorted.
He continued walking forward to Thanos. "Almighty Thanos," Loki declared. "I, Loki, Prince of Asgard, Odinson," he sent Thor a quick, almost apologetic look. A long blade is forming in his hand, and Loki is making sure Thor sees it.
Ice-cold horror trickled down Thor's spine. No, Loki wasn't supposed to do this. He was supposed to sneak around on the sidelines, waiting for an opportunity to strike. He wasn't supposed to do this.
To attack Thanos.
"The rightful king of Jotunheim," Loki continued, turning back to Thanos, "God of Mischief…do hereby pledge to you my undying fidelity."
With a flick of the wrist, Loki thrust the long blade at Thanos with all the strength he could muster. Thanos stopped it easily, smirking. "Undying?" he asked. "You should choose your words more carefully."
If there wasn't that damned strip of metal gagging him, Thor would've begged, and he never begged. He would've begged Thanos for Loki's life, to take his instead, to spare Loki in exchange for anything.
He never got the chance.
Too soon, Thanos' huge hand was around Loki's neck, choking the life out of him. Thor was screaming and trashing and sobbing all at once, kicking out wildly. Loki was gagging, but somehow he managed to speak.
"You…will never…be…a god," he choked out, and Thor sobbed harder. Loki let out one last, gasped-out cry, and then he stilled, and Thor with him.
With another smirk, Thanos threw Loki's body in front of a stunned, horrified Thor.
"No resurrections this time," he taunted.
That was the last thing Thor remembered before he opened his eyes and met Loki's green ones.
Thor had no idea what to say. He doubted there was a right thing to say at all.
The knife that had been pressed against the delicate skin on Thor's clattered to the ground. Loki barely seemed to have noticed, but stood there, stock-still and struck numb.
Thor swallowed, mouth dry. "Loki…"
Loki finally met his eyes, green eyes bright with unshed tears. "So I—I died, then." His voice was flat and had an odd, unnatural ring to it.
Thor didn't answer, but it must have been written plainly on his face. Loki let out a slow breath.
"Why did you bring me back?" His voice was quiet and soft, almost deceptively so.
Thor knew that when it came to Loki, trying to come up with something Loki might want to hear would never end up the desired way, so he decided to say the truth, the only thing he could say.
"You're my brother, Loki," he said, raw honesty in his voice. "I can't—I can't imagine living without you."
Loki stiffened but said nothing. The silence was tense.
"Amora did it, I'm guessing," he said, voice hollow.
Thor nodded, watching him anxiously for any flickers of emotions on his face.
"It all makes sense now," Loki murmured to himself. "The strange feelings. The cold shudder I get at sudden times. The whispers in my ear…the failure of my magic." He turned his eyes to Thor. "You raised me from the dead."
Thor bit his lip. "Yes."
Loki stepped back from his threatening stance against Thor. He leaned back and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Thor," he said, voice dangerously gentle. "You can't do that. You can't just…bring me back like that."
Immediately, Thor went on the defensive. "And why not?"
"Because that goes against the very laws of nature!" Loki cried out suddenly. "Don't you think I wanted to do that? For Mother? But bringing back someone from the dead is defying the very way of life itself, it's defying the Fates, the Norns. It's twisting the very fabric of reality to suit your own purposes and needs. Even you have to see there's something vaguely wrong with that!"
"The only thing I see wrong," retorted Thor, "is that the Norns took you away from me. I'm just taking you back."
"Is that for you to decide though, Thor?" Loki snapped, voice hard and bitter. "Have you even considered the idea that I'd want to be dead? Do you think I didn't know Thanos would see through my foolish attempt to kill him? Of course I knew I was going to die, but I did it anyway!"
Thor said nothing. He wanted to snap back that it was Loki who'd asked to be brought back, but mentioning that would only cause Loki unnecessary pain, so he stayed silent.
But Loki didn't. "You didn't do it for me at all, you selfish bastard," he bit out in disgust. "You did it for yourself. You can't live without me, your damned little brother, so you brought me back. You can tell yourself you're noble, or whatever the hell makes you sleep better, but the fact remains. You brought me back for your own selfish reasons."
"You begged me to!" Thor roared impulsively. "I don't know how, but you came back, Loki, and you begged me not to let them take you away. What was I supposed to do?"
The words stopped Loki in his tracks, and he paused, mouth half-open with eyes glassy.
"I hate you," Loki spat. He turned to leave, back tensed and fists clenched.
"Loki—" Thor said, voice trailing off helplessly. He stretched out an arm towards Loki and grabbed his shoulder.
Loki shrugged Thor's hand off. "Fuck you," he said, with such vehemence and hatred in his voice that Thor recoiled.
Green eyes glittering, Loki stormed out the door.
A/N - The ending may seem rushed, but it is what it is. I, like most fanfic writers, live off reviews. I appreciate every single one of them :)