Most people, Loki has discovered, are profoundly stupid. It’s not that they don’t try, it’s just that they never seem to understand.
Jealousy, they whisper, trying to decipher the look in his eyes, the squaring of his shoulders. He’s jealous of Thor. Maybe even resents him.
Loki tries to be impartial; the way a good king should be. He tries not to take things personally but he can’t help but hate those who think he feels anything but love for Thor. He loves Thor more than anyone; more than anyone can even understand. He has Thor as a brother, a companion, a friend, and that is one precious he has that nobody else ever will. He knows his brother’s moods, he anticipates Thor’s thoughts just as well as if he could truly hear them, and they’ve been side by side for years, learning each other, learning their differences and their similarities and how to complement one another.
Thor is Loki’s other half; he is the one that fills the emptiness within with warmth, with adventure, with love.
(It’s a pity that Thor is too perfect, too whole to need Loki in the same manner.)
So despite the whispers that are never meant for Loki’s ears, he never aspires to best his brother. He desires only for Thor to see him the way he sees Thor; he doesn’t need to be bigger, he doesn’t need to be stronger and he cares not about their birth order. All Loki wants is for Thor to look at him, and need him.
Thor’s eyes are pleading, too bright, too pale in these artificial lights of Midgard. They are wet, red-rimmed, and they speak of the pain that Loki feels within himself. Removing Thor from his life—from Asgard—is like removing a limb; just as painful, just as difficult.
It is necessary, Loki reminds himself. He needs to do this. For Asgard. To prove himself. This is all entirely necessary.
The whispers don’t call him the God of Lies without good reason. Deceiving himself when necessary is something he is good at, second only to deceiving Thor.
(Distantly, he thinks that perhaps this is why he’s never before noticed his preference for the cold, for his ability to withstand temperatures that would make others bundle themselves in thick pelts. It’s too late for that now.)
He speaks not a word of truth to his brother. Not when he apologises, not when he bids Thor farewell. They’ll see each other, somehow. Loki knows this in his bones and it is the only reason he can turn and leave.
(Loki remains, unseen, for just long enough to hear Thor’s goodbye. There’s something fulfilling about knowing his brother—brash, foolish, no longer perfect—will fall for his lies.)
No, he thinks. I’ve been falling for quite some time.
Thor will be king someday. Thor will be king and there will be no room for a prince; a Jotun relic that has lost its worth.
Thor will be king and the people of Asgard will celebrate him, look up to him with the same intensity with which they feared and mistrusted Loki.
Thor will be king.