1. Three: Crib
Thor was just a baby, three years of age, he had his first nightmare. He sat upright the moment he could, his limbs tangled in the warm sheets that were soaking with his sweat from his ordeal. His baby brother was soundly asleep in his enormous white crib, not a care in the world. In his dreams, Thor had seen dragons and elves armed with fire marching to Asgard, and his first thought was to warn his father. When he burst into his parents chambers to warn them, they merely laughed and showered him with kisses.
"Oh my darling, you must stop eating such treats before going to bed," Frigga had said as she scooped him up and returned him to his own room. "They're just nightmares, Thor, they are not real. Get some sleep, and try not to think of such devious things, alright?"
He agreed, and Frigga gave him one last kiss on the brow before doing the same to the still-sleeping Loki and returned to her room. Thor had tried and tried to sleep, but the moment he felt his eyelids get too heavy, he snapped them wide open again, not daring to see the horrors again. He rolled over and envied his newborn sibling, who had not stirred even once. He wondered how peaceful it must be in that fresh mind, and quietly got out of bed to walk over to the crib. Making up his mind, he grabbed a small stool from the washroom used to reach the sink and placed it beside the high bars of the cribs and clambered over with some difficulty. He landed softly by Loki's feet and very carefully crawled to where Loki's little head lay on the pillow.
"Move over, brother!" he whispered. The sleeping bundle gave no response, and Thor smiled that he had not woken the little one. He laid down beside the small figure and draped a lazy arm over it. With the warmth and scent of the night itself upon Loki's skin, Thor drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep.
2. Six: Bunk
Thor gasped loudly as he bolted upright, struggling to catch his breath. He shivered at the thought of being chased through the graveyard by ghosts, their wails piercing his ears. The winds outside were whipping through Asgard as if the city was sand, tearing at the land and stripping it of life - flowerbeds upturned, gulls swept away, even the large trees were being knocked down. The howling was eerie, it had the roar of a lion and the whisper of child, sending chills down Thor's spine as it reminded him of the ghosts. In all six years of Thor's life, he had never seen such a storm. He whimpered under the covers to himself, knowing Loki was already dead asleep.
Without giving it a second thought, he clambered down from his top bunk, nearly falling off the ladder from his shaky feet and the lack of traction his onesie had to offer. He looked at the small pile of gathered green blankets, and whispered "Loki?"
There was no response, so he jumped up to grab his own blanket before sinking into the bottom bunk with his brother. Feeling the dip in the bed, Loki mumbled "Thor?" in a barely audible voice.
"Can I sleep with you tonight, brother?"
"Whassrong with the top?" he slurred.
"Nothing, it's just... Nothing. It's nothing," Thor said dejectedly as he made a move to back off from the bed. Loki's cool fingers slipped around Thor's wrist.
"S'okay, you can stay."
"Then move over, brother!"
Instead of protesting, Loki promptly rolled over and fell asleep again, leaving Thor smiling at the back of his brother's head as he clambered in beside him and laid an arm over the familiar mass of warmth.
3. Ten: Bed
"Thor, one day you and your brother will watch over the realm eternal, our beloved home. Can you do that?"
"Of course, father!"
"No, Thor. No."
Thor inhaled sharply, the noise barely loud enough to wake someone, but his brother had become a rather light sleeper. As he sat, blinking the tears back form his stinging eyes, Loki rolled over from across the room to face Thor and ask him what was wrong. Not wanting to scare his younger brother, he tried to smile.
"Nothing, it was only a nightmare. I'm sorry I woke you, brother."
"What were you dreaming about? It must have been bad," Loki pushed.
"It was... But it was truly nothing."
"Okay," Loki responded, his naivety and innocence letting him believe Thor's words. "You can come join me if that will help you."
"I'm not a baby any more, Loki!"
Loki just hummed and closed his eyes again, and Thor was left alone to his thoughts. Soon enough, he couldn't bear it. He couldn't sit in his fear and worries and the only person who could make him feel better was already drifting off to sleep again. Thor swung his legs over the bed to pad over to the sleeping beauty.
"Move over, brother," he said gently as he shifted beneath Loki's covers, but not before noticing the faint, sweet, knowing smile the other boy had as he shuffled over to make room.
4. Fourteen: Chamber
Blood. Lots of blood. Blood on the walls, in the halls, over the throne.
Ice. Lots of Ice. Ice on the walls, in the halls, over the throne.
Monsters. Evil. Frost Giants. Everyone was gone. He was next. They were coming for him, and he was so alone.
His cry was raspy, laced with fear, a choked sob at the end. Loki was next to his bed in a heartbeat, flying through the doors that conjoined their rooms, asking him in frantic whispers if everything was okay. Thor realized that the bony hands upon his shoulders were digging into his flesh as he was being shaken fully awake. His brother had grown agile and strong for his stature over the years.
"I - I -saw... I saw..." Thor fumbled.
"It was just a nightmare, do you hear me? Nothing but a nightmare. Whatever it was, it wasn't real. None of it," Loki stated, with as much conviction as possible.
"Right... Yes, of course... None of it," Thor repeated, hypnotically.
"What did you dream of, brother?" Loki asked with concern in his voice.
Thor paused a moment before deciding to be honest with him. He spoke softly, "Frost Giants. They were in the palace... In the throne room, and I was... alone."
"You will never be alone, brother. I'll always be here with you."
"You - you will - will be here with me?"
"Yes, Thor, of course I will. I've always been here when you needed me, haven't I?" He tugged on Thor's arm to lead the older brother to his separate chambers. Thor followed willingly, eagerly, gratefully.
Once settled in the luscious bed, he spread his limbs, relishing the softness of Loki's bed, no doubt in his mind that Loki had enchanted it somehow. He barely got a chance to look over Loki's private room, adorned with spell books and trinkets before sleep was pulling at him. Completely unaware that he had taken up the entirety of the bed, he was jostled awake by a sharp slap to his beefy shoulder and Loki's hissed "Move over, you great oaf!"
Happily, he did a partial roll to allow Loki space to climb in before rolling back, which caused his arm to drape over Loki's warm midsection and the brothers drifted off to sleep together.
5. Eighteen: Healing Room
"AAAAAAAAAAAGH!" came Loki's strangled cry from somewhere in the distance.
"LOKI? LOKI?!" Thor called out in desperation. His brother, where was his brother? The land of Jotunheim all looked the same, barren and blank. He flew desperately, scouring the land for any sign of his brother's stark black hair against the snow and ice of the desolate land underneath him.
"Thor! Brother, go! Save yourself!" Loki shouted over the fierce snow storm, when Thor landed beside him. His chest, abdomen, and collar were torn, blood spilling profusely, entrails hanging out of the open wound. His eyes turned from green to red, red as the blood that was squirting out of him to paint the white snow he laid on. There was blood everywhere, every orifice, even his eyes were pure blood. His brother looked dead in his arms, his legs were bent at awkward angles and his nose was horrible dislocated. His eyes were glassy and unfocused, his fingers completely broken and black with frostbite.
"No! I could never leave you behind to freeze and rot here, Loki!"
"Please, return to Asgard, save yourself, and our friends, you must -nnnng -" Loki winced as he grasped at his open wounds, only to have his blackened fingers catch on his organs and broken bones before his arm fell limply to his side.
"Loki! LOKI! Please, brother, please, stay with me."
"Thor..." his voice was barely a whisper, the barely-there colour from his face drained and his normally pale, fidgeting fingers stilled and coated in thick blood.
"NO! LOKI!" Thor cried, cradling his brother close as he fumbled for the Bifrost site.
"HEIMDALL! OPEN THE BIFROST THIS INSTANT!"
"I cannot... I cannot... I'm.. s'sorry, brother," Loki uttered as his body went limp and his chest heaved no more.
Thor jumped and nearly flew out of his seat before remembering where he was. He blinked against the bright lights of the healing room, convincing himself that that's what caused the tears in his eyes. He looked down at his brother, covered in bandages. They had returned from Jotunheim with a few battle scares, though Loki had promptly fell over in exhaustion from exerting too much energy into the shielding spell that had gotten them out safely. He shook his head to try and clear the nightmare from his mind. Nothing like that would ever happen. Never.
He cursed his mind for thinking of such grotesque, horrific things.
"Move over, brother," he whispered to the comatose patient, smiling softly when he got no response, remembering when he was three again. Having grown into one of Asgard's mightiest warriors, he carefully lifted his brother, too light for his own good, and settled into the tight space of the medical cot, not caring what it looked like to anyone who walked in. He held his brother tenderly, caressing the bruises from their battle before letting his eyes droop again, letting the tears catch in his eyelashes before rolling down his cheeks to land in the soft cloud of raven hair.
"Father is dead."
"Your banishment, the threat of a new war... it was too much for him to bear. You mustn't blame yourself. I know that you loved him, I tried to tell him but he wouldn't listen. It must be so awful knowing that Mjolnir was beyond your reach. The burden of the throne has fallen to me now."
"Can I come home?"
"The truce with Jotunheim is conditional upon your exile."
"Yes, but... couldn't we find a way to...?"
"And Mother has forbidden your return. This is goodbye, brother. I'm so sorry. Farewell."
"Brother, however I have wronged you, whatever I have done that has led you to do this, I am truly sorry. But these people are innocent, taking their lives will gain you nothing. So take mine, and end this."
"Loki, this is madness!"
"Is it madness? Is it? IS IT? I don't know what happened on Earth to make you so soft! Don't tell me it was that woman?... Oh, it was. Well, when we're done here, maybe I'll pay her a visit myself!"
"I never wanted the throne, I only ever wanted to be your equal!"
"I could have done it, Father! I could have done it! For you! For all of us!"
Thor awoke when his body made contact with the cold flooring. He had taken half the bed with him and wrestled free of the blasted sheets, running a finger through his sweat-dampened hair. Sometimes he thought the nightmares would let up, that he would sleep, but he couldn't. He could never escape those chilling green eyes that stared up at him while hanging on to Gungnir for dear life. He could never escape the pain, hurt, confusion, and rejection of those shining eyes as Loki just let go. His brother, his beloved brother, just falling into the vast black abyss. He remembered everything about the moment he lost his brother forever to the endless nothingness of the universe.
A mix of dread and loneliness caused him to get up and make his way down the hall. He knew it was insanity, he knew it was wrong, and he knew it wouldn't help, but he kept going. The halls were dark, only moonlight graced his path, until he finally reached the heavy door, barred with iron and gold, protecting his brother's lair. He remember when Loki first weaved it, enchanting the door to only respond to certain touches. It was frightening, the amount of knowledge and power Loki had, what he could do, and Thor realized all over again how dearly he missed Loki. He reached for the golden handle out of habit, not expecting it to work, but to his surprise he heard the faint click.
With shaking limbs, he stepped inside almost half expecting Loki to be waiting for him. He felt his stomach plummet all over again as he entered to room, empty, and dark.
He closed the door behind him and inhaled deeply, trying to take in the scent of his brother, to find some familiarity, to find a sense of home.
He clambered into Loki's bed, noting it was the same grand bed that he had all those years ago, also noticing that it was not comforting or greeting any longer. It was cold, and no longer comfortable now that it's owner had released his magic upon it. He burrowed himself into the pillows and closed his eyes, trying to remember Loki's smell, Loki's warmth, Loki's words.
"You will never be alone, brother. I'll always be here with you."
"You - you will - will be here with me?"
"Yes, Thor, of course I will. I've always been here when you needed me, haven't I?"
"No, Loki," he sobbed, choking on his words as he let his tears form a steady hot trail down his cheeks.