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"We fight every night for something,

When the sun sets we're [all] the same,

Half in the shadows,

Half burned in flames."

-Tamer "Beautiful Crime" 


 

 

It's only been a few hours, but Thor knows when he spots the figure in the corner of the mirror that it's his younger brother. He doesn't need to see the blurred shadow turn into a proper reflection—he just knows. Can sense his sedir, like he has since childhood. (Another one is present as well, but he doesn't really care for that.) Loki is here, illusion or not, and that's enough. Relief slips through him at the sight, and he reaches forward to grab at a flask of something to occupy his hands with. He hadn't expected Loki to come back.

He'd wanted him to, of course, but he didn't think...not really—not after his stupid words in Sakaar—that Loki would come to him. He hadn't meant to let the vindictive snipping slip out so many times, but he's hardly been the ideal sibling since they reunited, so maybe it was to be expected.

Especially not when they finally gained some semblance of privacy and Thor punched Loki in the face. And then the ribs and elsewhere—but, Norns above, he couldn't handle this one more time. Six years he's been on the wrong side of Loki's planning, his scheming, and he is so tired of it. This is not the first time that Loki has pretended to be dead. But, before his failed coronation, Thor has almost always been in on it.

A part of him always knew that Loki was alive, he thinks, which is why it wasn't much of a surprise to see he claimed Hliðskjálf. It was different between the Bifrost and the Kursed. Thor had always been able to sense Loki's faint presence since the Kursed, but after the Bifrost he was just gone. Thor is not nearly as advanced in sedir, or even really trained, but every child is taught how to sense the presence of it.

And he knew that Loki was still there.

As he is now.

Some part of him. An illusion, he supposes; it's really better than nothing, and maybe more than he deserves after what he's done and said in the last three days. Loki has probably come to finalize their goodbyes, and Thor grips the flask tighter to brace himself. He doesn't know why he thought this was a good idea on Sakaar. Why he thought they should part ways permanently.

Only that he did, and wasn't thinking straight when he said it.

Thor's lips part, and he has to work with his tongue before he can say anything. "Maybe your not so bad—"

His voice dies.

All illusions and fantasies he'd warped up about Loki running through Surtur's fire unharmed go with it. He'd stood on the Statesmen and watched Surtur tear his realm apart without even thinking twice about what would happen to Loki. His brother has always been fluid. Always. Thor didn't doubt that he would walk away.

That he would be fine.

And now he can't believe his stupidity.

Loki was in that. Loki was in the middle of Surtur's destruction. Loki was in that.

His little brother is staggering towards him, his limbs shaking and washed out lips parted in the never ending repeat of a word. The clothing he's wearing is little but rags now, charred as it is, revealing the blotchy, black and red skin. There's something clutched close to his chest, almost protectively, and Thor thinks it's an Aesir. He doesn't know if he's holding a corpse in his arms, but Thor doesn't care.

Loki is barely walking.

And he's mouthing "help."

The bottle slips from his hands and smashes into the ground at his feet. The pieces scatter, going in all directions at once and sparkle across the floor. Thor tries to take in the sight, but doesn't find himself fully capable.

He did this. He told Loki to take Surtur's crown. Loki wouldn't have been in there if Thor hadn't told him to do that.

He did this.

The resigned look Loki sent him on the bridge makes sense now. Thor hadn't really thought about it, more focused on their advancing sister and his desire to get the Asgardians to safety. Loki hadn't expected to walk away from this, because unlike Thor, he knew what would happen. At the epicenter of the burning, the chances of Loki walking away were slim.

Very slim.

And it might not have mattered that he did if Thor doesn't move.

Thor kicks glass to the side as he moves forward, nearly barreling into Loki in his haste to reach him. His hands lift to grip Loki's shoulders, but he stops before he makes contact as he sees that the skin is broken and tattered there just as much as anywhere.

Panic wraps around his stomach, giving a hard kick.

He doesn't know what to do.

He was trained by Eir in the arts of healing after a stupid incident in his and Loki's youth, but he doesn't know what to do. Any medical procedure has slipped from his mind, and the only thing he can think to do is let out a loud scream and run for someone to fix this problem. To be the adult, because he doesn't know how anymore.

"Loki..." the word is strangled.

"Help...he..." Loki wheezes, and the sound of his voice spurs the panic up further. "Help...broth…"

"I'm here, Loki," Thor promises, and forces in a hitched breath. Loki's green eyes are wet, but distant. As if he's not really here. Thor flicks his gaze around the space, trying to find somewhere he can set Loki down, and—oh. The person. He needs to take care of that, too.

There's a long couch, about ten feet from them, and Thor reaches out a tentative hand to touch Loki's elbow and guide him towards it. Loki goes with more stumbles, and a soft cry. Thor murmurs apologies, but Loki won't stop repeating that word.

Thor quietly thanks anyone listening that the burns are mostly on Loki's upper body, as if he was leaning down when he got hit face first by flame, and forces Loki into a seated position. Loki's face twists with open pain, and Thor winces, apologizing again.

This wasn't what was supposed to happen.

If Loki was to return, Thor was supposed to throw something at his head and they would trade a few more lines before...Thor doesn't know. A hug? That all sounds so childish now, but given his ignorance of the last few days, his stupidity, he really couldn't have been expecting much more. Now Loki is dying, and Thor is helpless to stop it.

The corpse.

He needs...he needs to look at that. He feels almost dazed, and he tries to shake himself out of it. Loki's broken cries are ignored in favor of leaning forward to gently scoop the equally burned, broken body from his arms. Loki makes a noise of protest, a bit of lucidity slipping into his eyes as he lifts his head up. Their eyes meet, and Loki's hand twitches as if trying to reach for the corpse. "Help...her," he gasps, "she's...she's…"

"Shh," Thor soothes, and tries to give an encouraging smile. "It's okay, Loki."

"Help...help...her."

Oh.

Oh.

Loki has not been repeating "help" this whole time. He has been repeating that. Thor thought some parts of it sounded funny, but assumed so because Loki isn't in prime condition. Something in his chest gives a funny lurch. Loki is dying, and he doesn't seek aid for himself, but this corpse. Woman. Thor doesn't know. It wasn't what he'd expected.

Quietly thanking the Grandmaster's vacuous furniture and financing choices, Thor sets the woman down on the other part of L-shaped couch, and then his eye lingers on her face and he stops. It's really the first time he's looked at her since this whole mess began, and recognition sparks instantly. Black hair has been charred as if it was on fire, making it shorter and more ragged, but it doesn't hide the sharp cheekbones or sunken eyes of his older sister.

No.

No.

Loki couldn't have been that stupid.

Loki couldn't have hated them that much.

Loki couldn't—Loki brought Hela.

Loki saved Hela from Surtur, even though Thor had just told him that the only way to kill her was to start Ragnarok and if Loki saved her than that means that they just blew up their realm for no good reason and Odin would have outright strangled him by now because Asgard was his birthright and whatever Heimdall says that means the realm to, not just the people and, and, and—

Thor drops Hela unceremoniously onto the couch, and whirls on his younger sibling. "What on Helheim were you thinking!?" escapes him before he can stop it, and the lights flicker at his rage. Loki looks up at him, gasping and wheezing, but very much here.

"Br'th'r…" Loki slurs, and blinks several times, hands coming up to press against his chest as if he's trying to protect himself. Thor remembers his rage before they left for Earth, and his temper drops almost as quickly.

Loki thinks that Thor is going to hit him. Even in this state. The half lucidity, he is going off of instinct, and thinks that Thor is going to hurt him. He sobers, and draws in a deep breath through his teeth, trying to make sense of this all. Loki—and Hela, loathe he is to admit it, and probably won't offer it anyway—need medical attention. Medical attention Thor can't give if he's standing here gaping like a fish.

He turns, willing the two to still be there when he looks back and moves to the chest of drawers he was digging through earlier for his surplus of stab wounds and his eye. The Statesmen is bursting with medical equipment and basic survival items that shouldn't be here, and Thor suspects that is by Loki's hand. It wouldn't have taken him long to gather the freed slaves together, but Loki was late, even by his standards of drama—Loki wouldn't have let the Asgardians fight on the bridge in the first place, at least the Loki he knew—and the odd supplies is probably the leading cause in that.

Loki brought aid in more than just soldiers.

And right now, Thor has never been more grateful for that.

He grabs as much medical equipment as he can carry, dumping it in front of the couch before going back for more and returning. He goes about cleaning the burns as best he can, but Loki keeps making awful mewling noises that make him hesitate and are distracting. Loki bound up his wounds all the time, but Thor can really only remember scarce few where Thor was allowed to return the favor. Usually only when Loki was unconscious and they couldn't reach Asgard fast enough.

He can't focus on much more than the fact that Loki is in pain, and Thor is a leading factor in said pain.

He should call Eir, another professional healer—someone who knows what they're doing—but he can't. For one thing, there's the Hela Problem, and that's not going away so Loki can survive this. For another, who can spare a moment for them? The Aesir's wounds are grievous, and the healers will be focused on them first. As they should be.

The Crown shouldn't be the first priority.

(Thor wishes there was someone else here.)

Thor does what he can, but it still doesn't feel like enough. Loki is barely conscious by the time he's finished, but when Thor moves to pull away, Loki's damaged hand reaches out to weakly grab for his wrist.

"Help...her…" Loki murmurs.

Hesitation. Stutter. Stop. Thor snaps his teeth together and clenches his fist beneath Loki's cold fingers. He doesn't even know what Hela has done to warrant his brother's mercy. Hela and Loki barely traded two (one? Norns, he doesn't know) sentences. Hela, a sadistic psychopath, wouldn't have had any problems letting Loki die. Letting any of them die. She stabbed Thor more than six times. She took his eye.

And Loki wants him to help her.

Norns, he can't do it.

He can't nurse her back to health, knowing what she is, and he feels awful for it. Isn't he supposed to be the good guy? Isn't he supposed to be the hero? The one that people can place their faith in and be assured they made the right choice?

Why can't he help her?

This is his blood, and he can't—

Stupid. Idiot. Selfish. Why can't he just do something good? Why can't he just—Thor flicks his gaze towards Hela. All he can see is the death she tried to bathe Asgard in. All he can hear in his head is her whispering that she'll kill every last Asgardian to get to Hofund. Her rage. Her cool blade against his face as his eyeball is violently torn away. The desperation he felt to get Loki off of the Bifrost bridge to both increase his chances of survival, and so, if it came down to it, Loki wouldn't have to watch them all be slaughtered.

"Thor." Loki's voice is fading. Barely above a rasp. "Please."

Thor sets his teeth. "Why?"

He doesn't want to kill his sister, but he doesn't want her to kill all of them. It would just be easier to..."She's...not…" Loki heaves and squeezes his eyes shut further, pinching the raw skin like it will save him from pain. "Not...hopeless."

"What?"

"Not...h'peless..." Loki repeats, slurring. "Help...her…"

Norns.

He can't—Loki sounds desperate. Pleading. Thor draws in a breath, flexing his hand. His resolve settles, and he bites at the edge of his tongue, quietly cursing Loki under his breath. He trusts his sibling's judgement, the last six years aside. Loki isn't stupid, nor is he bloodthirsty. If he wanted to kill them all, he would have just gained their trust first. Loki didn't betray him. He didn't betray Asgard.

He just wanted to save their psychopathic sister.

Thor swallows guilt and shame, moving towards the broken figure of Odin's firstborn. He grabs his meager medical equipment, and tries to pretend that this is just another patient. This is just another soldier with a field injury he needs to wrap up before they can move on with their lives.

It helps, but not much.

Hela's skin isn't as awful as Loki's, but compared to the rate at which she was healing before, it's bad. Didn't their father mention something about Hela drawing all her power from Asgard? With Asgard gone...how much of a threat is she? How much of her power did she keep?

He shakes his head. It doesn't matter right now. Right now, he's dressing the worst of the burns and trying to keep the damage from being permanent. There are some places he knows will scar, but he can't do anything to stop it. Hela's skin is cool to the touch, and her fingernails are blackened. The latter doesn't seem to be by choice.

When all is said and done, Thor sits back on his heals and blows out a heavy breath. The air feels weighted, settling into his lungs like it intends to never let him get up. He thinks he might be too exhausted to anyway. Loki's breathing has quieted, and Thor chances a quick glance at the younger to make sure he's still alive before returning his gaze to the polished floor.

The worst of the danger is over. If they can make it through the next several hours, they should survive the next week. (Yes? No, he doesn't know.) It's what comes after Thor doesn't have a clue about. He doesn't even know what to do now.

There's so much to still to do. He needs to talk with the curia regis. He needs to give them a course of direction on where they're going, needs to settle into his place as king, needs to check on provisions and see how many were injured or lost, needs to mourn with the people, needs to find the Valkyrie and Bruce, needs to keep his brother alive.

He can't tell anyone about Hela. Not now. Not after they've just escaped her wrath. He doesn't even know if he can say a word about Loki, because if he does, Eir will likely want to double check his work and then Hela will be revealed and—no.

This needs to stay between him and his siblings.

(Norns, he has no idea what he's doing).

000o000

A few hours later, Thor checks his brother and Hela over, making sure they still breathe and there's nothing immediate he should stay and monitor. (There isn't). After a bit of debate and anxious pacing, Thor decides that avoiding public suspicion would probably be best. He doesn't need anyone to come looking for him and accidentally stumble on this.

He leaves. He doesn't want to, but he does.

He bumps into Heimdall first, and one thing leads to another and then suddenly he's been "crowned" and they're on their way to Midgard. He barely remembers half of what was said. After pulling up false platitudes and giving far too many smiles than are sincere, Thor's more than exhausted. When he manages to escape the stifling grasp of social interaction, Heimdall pulls him to the side.

Thor panics, irrationally, because Heimdall has to know. How can he not? Loki and Hela are hidden in whatever-that-room-was. Heimdall likely saw and is now going to ask his intentions and reasoning, and Thor won't be able to give him much of anything because he doesn't know. He doesn't. He wishes that he did, but he just...he doesn't. (They're family. His only family now, and Thor can't just let them die).

"Are you alright?"

Thor stops. He has to process the words twice before he understands their meaning, and even then it doesn't seem to make much sense. His teeth set and he looks up at the gatekeeper. "What?" the word slips off his lips readily.

Heimdall's yellow eyes settle on his face, and Thor tries his best not to squirm. For all that he and Heimdall have grown close these last few years (before, when he was a child, Heimdall was distant, but warm), Thor still can't help but be unsettled by the stare. Maybe it's because this time the secret feels ready to bubble out without any prodding on the older Aesir's part.

Thor pinches his lips together.

"Are you alright?" Heimdall repeats. "You look sick."

Oh.

Oh.

"No. I'm fine." Thor promises. His body aches in protest and his eye burns beneath the sorry excuse for a patch he crafted before leaving the room nearly two hours ago. Thor has never been much of a liar, and the disbelief shows openly on Heimdall's face.

The gatekeeper sighs and Thor's apprehension increases ten fold. Does he know? Why isn't he saying anything? Is he acting as a distraction? Would he say something if he knows? Thor doesn't know how Heimdall could have missed it.

...Unless Loki was cloaking them. But Loki is half dead. Could he really have blinded himself from Heimdall in that state? Maybe? Thor doesn't know much about how the spell works, only about its existence.

"Thor," Heimdall's voice is soft. Thor snaps back at it like he's been struck. "Don't be a fool. If you are hurt—"

"I'm fine." He can't keep the bite out of his voice as much as he would have liked. "Heimdall, honestly."

Heimdall's eyes narrow, but he says nothing in retaliation. "Very well."

He turns as if to leave, and Thor's breath squirms in his chest. "Wait—" Heimdall stops, then meets his eye, "—Loki. My brother, have you seen him?" Norns, could he have been more blunt or obvious? Brilliant. Why should he worry so much about being found out if he's going to do all the hard work for them?

It could just be his imagination, but he thinks Heimdall's lips curve down with something close to sympathy. Perhaps even pity. "No, my king—" it's Thor, it's still Thor, don't-don't—"I have not. I'm sorry."

Relief crashes into him so suddenly it feels like a physical weight. His shoulders slump and Thor tries to catch himself as he remembers that he's not supposed to know where Loki is. (What is he doing? What is he doing? What is he—?)

"Oh." Thor forces out. "Alright. Let me know if you see him?"

Heimdall nods once. "I will."

Thor mimics the head motion, containing a wince when the movement jars the ache of his eye socket. It's hollow, but still so raw and painful. Thor's never had a limb severed from his body before. Not like this. Tony once asked him if Asgardian's can regrow body parts, and Thor had laughed at how ridiculous the question sounded. Their bodies are adaptive, yes, but the last time Thor saw through that eye will be in Gullapasset, the capital palace.

He's still standing here. He should go. There's things to finish. Thor gives Heimdall another nod and saunters off, trying not to coil around his stomach in an attempt to ease the pressure there from the wounds he sustained. Asgard is gone, and without proper nutrients to keep up their rapid healing, Thor knows that it will take days, if not a week, for this to heal properly.

And that's only if it doesn't get infected.

It won't.

Thor's an idiot, but he knows how to clean a stab wound.

Things—the things that should be finished. Norns, it's hard to focus. Thor's teeth set tightly and he breathes out, privately wondering when the next time he'll get to sleep is. It feels stupid and selfish, because a good king doesn't place his needs above his peoples'. Sleep can come later. Asgard can't.

Thor tries to pretend he can't feel Heimdall's gaze on him until he turns a corner and slips out of the gatekeepers line of sight.

000o000

He can't find the Valkyrie anywhere, even though she was at his impromptu coronation, and he tries not to be bothered by this, but he is. He avoids as many of the living curia regis as he can and focuses on helping the citizens.

He helps a mother find her children, and a man find his wife, a woman collect rations for the day and hands out as much water as he dares.

All the while the mental clock in his head doesn't stop ticking, alerting him to how long he's been away from his brother and Hela. Four hours. Five. Six. Nine. He wants to believe that everything is fine, but he can't quite get the lie settled enough for him to believe it. It's fluid, and won't center itself.

They could be dead. Loki is a Jotun, he could have succumbed to the heat easily. Hela could have murdered him. She could be on her way here to murder everyone. Loki could have been acting, and the two of them are plotting out how best to kill them. For all that Hela is a loose canon, Loki is so many unknowns now.

"My king?" Thor flinches to the title, mind setting on Odin, and it still feels raw. The young woman stares at him, head tilting slightly. She must be the one that spoke.

Thor remembers he's handing out bottled water and offers a wide smile, thrusting one her way. "Take care of yourself." He instructs, "Water is important."

Important.

Wow.

That's going to sell everyone to this story. (Shut up.)

000o000

Thirteen hours after leaving, Thor returns to the room. It's on the lower levels of the ship, and the space Thor suspects was once a wine cellar, but the Grandmaster had different plans for it. It's not sleeping quarters, and certainly not meant for much else than lounging. Thor doesn't even know what the point of having so many rooms like this is.

The Asgardians are trying to sleep now, but without the familiar twin suns in the sky to dictate day and night, it's hard. Sleeping quarters are cramped, and Thor refused any given to him, deciding that he can survive in the hidden nook for a few weeks.

Weeks is optimistic.

Midgard is months away with the Statesmen. The technology on the ship is old and rusting; if they're losing parts along the way, Thor wouldn't be surprised. It will be a miracle if they can make it to the nearest port without dying. The Statesmen can't use jump points. Without the portals breaking through Sakaar's open space, Thor doubts that he or Loki would have arrived on Asgard in time to be of any help. They wouldn't have had a few hours of delay. It would have been years. Maybe even decades.

As it is, they're lucky.

Loki is still unconscious when Thor checks the worst of the burns and feels for a fever. Loki's skin is burning to the touch, and it's unsettling. His brother is never this warm normally. His skin has always been frigid, almost to the point of unbearable to touch. Thor presses his lips together tightly and breathes out steadily in an effort to calm himself.

It will be fine.

(Because you wish it so? How adorable.)

Thor pulls himself away from his brother and turns to Hela. Her chest is rising and falling with more ease than it did before, and Thor takes what relief he can in that. He moves to the other end of the couch and reaches out to take her hand to look at the deep burn on her forearm. His fingertips have scarcely brushed the edge of her skin before sharp pain spurs through his gut and the world spins.

Thor smashes onto his back, hard, and Hela lands on top of him, pinning him into place and presses a long dagger up against his throat. Adrenaline pours through his limbs, igniting them. He didn't realize she was awake. Norns, he hadn't—stupid, stupid, stupid.

She'd been waiting.

And now she's going to kill him.

"Wait!" his voice hardly holds the authority it should. The power. Their father always boomed everything into a room, easily taking control of the situation and turning it to his favor. Thor can barely get the syllable out without becoming a bumbling mess.

The dagger digs into his neck, applying pressure to his skin. If he swallows, he thinks he'll tear something open. If Hela had wanted him dead, she would have already slit his throat. She hasn't. Her weight is distributed awkwardly, not the way that a proper tackle should be. Pain? Something else?

She looks awful. Her eyes are shaded, burned skin raw and it Thor can barely believe she's awake, let alone upright. She must be accustomed to working through pain, because she hardly seems bothered by this. Thor would have thought, at a first glance, that with her healing rate...she wouldn't know what pain felt like. The choppy layers of her uneven hair are flying around her face now, framing it strangely.

Hela's gray-blue eyes narrow. "Give me one reason I shouldn't, brother." Her voice is barely above a rasp. The title is spat, and Thor flinches, remembering the balcony and the sharp pain of the daggers digging everywhere. The fresh blood pooling beneath his armor and—Tell me brother, what were you—

"I didn't let you die." Thor says quickly. Lightning builds at the tips of his fingers. The edges go numb as his nerves are overpowered by the sedir. The core of energy Mjolnir used to help him focus is wild and laughing inside of him, waiting for the next move.

He doesn't know what to do. This isn't Loki. He could talk Loki out of killing him. (Maybe. That worked so well on the Bifrost, didn't it? I'm not your brother, I never was—). He's never been good at talking his way out of problems. That's Loki's job. He just barges through it and hopes to come out unscathed.

Hela laughs, hoarse and hollow. "And that's supposed to be a mercy?"

Thor hesitates. It's a moment too long because Hela begins to dig the blade in deeper to his skin. His breath catches and panic demands he do something. Thor reaches up and grabs Hela's forearm, ripping it away. It's thinner than he expected it to be.

Apparently not expecting the fight, or simply far weaker than Thor first thought, Hela tumbles onto her side as Thor wrestles the weapon from her grip. It doesn't matter. Hela can summon them from anywhere, so taking one won't stop her, but he does it anyway. Habit. Maybe desperation.

He pins Hela into place, quietly cursing Loki for this whole mess. If he'd just—

Hela slams her fist into his jaw. Thor's head whips to the side, but he manages to keep his arms rooted onto his sister's shoulders. The pain feels distant. The blood pools into his mouth without much constraint. Norns, he has no idea what he's doing. Loki is the diplomat. Thor is the disaster.

A sharp pain smacks into his gut and Thor chances a glance down to see a dagger sticking out of the armor. Another hole to patch. That's inside of him? (He can't feel the pain. He can't feel it anymore and that's not—)

Focus!

"Stop it!" Thor demands, barely keeping the rage in check. "What do you hope to gain by my murder!?"

Hela's face tightens, but her words are slurred. She's in more pain than he first thought. "I'm here, aren't I? You wouldn't have kept me alive unless you stopped Surtur from—"

"Asgard is gone." Thor interrupts, resisting the urge to rattle her back and forth. "Surtur destroyed it yesterday. There's nothing left but rubble because of you."

Hela's eyes widen some, but her voice portrays none of her surprise. "Me? How am at fault?"

How is she not!?

They wouldn't have had to do this if she wasn't trying to kill everyone and everything!

Thor doesn't punch her. He wants to. He wants to let the rage settle over him like a numbing blanket and lose himself to it, but he thinks of Loki flinching back from him yesterday when he thought Thor would hit him, and he can't. Thor's supposed to be better than this now. He's a hero. Heroes don't stay stagnant. They're good. Thor wants so desperately to be good.

Thor shoves off of her. His teeth set with disgust and he looks down at the woman. "Our father created Ragnarok to kill you. Asgard wouldn't have been on a doomed ticking clock if you weren't such a monster. How is this not your fault?"

Hela starts at that, sitting upright as best she can. Her lips curl into a sneer, "Father would be proud. You really are his incarnation."

Thor flinches, panic opening in his gut like a blackhole. "I'm not—"

"Finish this." Hela interrupts, voice hard. "Kill me and be done with it. There's no point in pretending we both aren't aware you want nothing else."

Is he that translucent? Thor shies away from the thought, horrified. He's supposed to be the one that's seeing the best in people now, isn't he? He doesn't want to kill her, it's just a necessity to keep his people—his brother—safe. Prison can be momentary, but death is permanent. "I'm not going to kill you, sister." Thor says firmly.

Hela smiles, but it's without mirth. "You think so?"

"I know so." Thor promises, pulling the frayed edges of his patience together. He needs to sleep. It's been more than forty hours now. He draws in a breath, "Listen. I don't know what you think is going to happen, but no one is killing anyone. Loki didn't let you succumb to Surtur for a reason—" Thor stomach twists with a protective discomfort when Hela's gaze flicks towards their unconscious younger brother "—and I don't want to kill you, but I will; make no mistake of that. So you can either try to be civil about this, or I'll throw you out into open space. You won't die, but it won't be comfortable."

Hela stares at him for a second. Her gaze is searching. "Space?" she echoes. "We're—this is a vessel." Recognition dawns on her face and she looks down at the ground as if it has betrayed her. "You—the escape vessel that the other one brought. You brought me here!?"

His fists tighten. Thor forces out a steady breath, something pinching in there. "Where else did you expect?"

Hela runs a hand through her charred hair, swearing under her breath. Then again. "You idiot. Asgardians do not forgive, has Father taught you nothing? Mercy is the way of cowards. Kill me!"

Will she stop that!? "No!" Thor says, harder. "I'm not an executioner—"

"That doesn't make a difference!"

"SHUT IT!" Thor roars, and the lights flicker, buzzing in and out as if someone is tapering with the intensity of their glow. He forces in a breath, but it helps nothing. Hela's face contorts with rage and she draws a sword, staggering towards her feet. Thor braces himself for an attack, but he doesn't need to.

Hela barely makes it upright before her hand slaps against one of her worst burns on her stomach and she makes a little noise before her eyes roll back and she slumps forward, unconscious. Thor catches her before she can hit the ground and ignores the sword as it clatters against the floor. Hela weighs almost nothing, and he sets her back on the couch, trying to ignore how his hands tremble.

He doesn't know what he's doing.

Norns, he doesn't—

His stomach hurts with a burning fire. Why is it—why does it—? He looks down. Thor remembers Hela's dagger, digging into his gut.

Oh. Oh yes.

That. Thor grabs the edge of the hilt and pulls the weapon from his skin. Blood gushes immediately and his vision spins. Round and round it goes, refusing to settle no matter how much Thor shakes his head or squeezes his eyes shut. Everything hurts. His hand, pressed against the wound, is wet. He doesn't know how much more blood he can lose without the damage being permanent.

He lost a lot yesterday. Lots upon lots of lots.

He—

Thor tumbles to the floor. He doesn't get up.

000o000

"—I don't know." The councilwoman murmurs. "We have to get this under control—find something to help. We can't survive the rest of the journey like this. Midgard is nearly six months time from Asgard. How will we provide for the citizens?"

Thor wishes he knew. It would solve a lot of these problems. He doesn't, and the Asgardians are going to die of thirst. The Valkyrie, once he found her, gave him a basic report of their supplies. Water for at least a week, but food stores, even rationed, will last no longer than three or four days. Aesir can last years without food if the need really arrives, some have even hypothesized they don't need to eat except in their youth or if they have sedir, but water? They need water.

And they have a week.

Thor fidgets in his seat, trying to ignore the Valkyrie's staring. He forces words out. "Are there any nearby outposts?" the question is for Heimdall specifically, but Thor won't complain if someone else knows the answer. The group is what remains of King Odin's curia regis—Asgard's elite council members. Typically, it has twelve members: three women and nine men with the king and queen at the head and the king's adviser (usually a sibling or close friend) as a second in command. Today, it bares the six remaining members from Hela's skirmish, Heimdall among them; the Gatekeeper of the Realm has always been reserved a place on the curia regis.

Heimdall is quiet a moment, and then shakes his head once. "About eight days from here."

Eight?

"That's too far." Lady Pettidottir gasps, pressing a hand against her mouth. "Eight? Surely there must be one sooner."

"There are a few worlds." Heimdall admits, "But not allies of Asgard."

Very few realms outside the Nine are allies with Asgard. Many have a loose acquaintance with them, but Thor is beginning to suspect that Odin's (and Hela, a snide voice in his head hastens to add) reign of terror has something to do with that. Those inside the Nine may not remember much of what happened, but elsewhere isn't so lucky.

"What of Vanaheim?" a different member asks.

"Vanaheim is the opposite direction of Earth." Thor mumbles, rubbing at his chest dully. The Valkyrie gives him a slight kick in the calf and Thor starts, looking over at her in annoyance, mouthing "what?" sharply.

She refuses to meet his gaze.

"Even if we do manage to find an outpost, how will we pay for it, my King?" Sir Borison asks, voice as thin as his lips. "We don't carry Asgard's treasury in our pockets and this...Grandmaster did not leave much on the ship."

Thor...hadn't thought about that. Beyond some alcohol, they don't really have much to trade, either. He bites at his tongue and tries to keep his hands steady. He can't stay upright much longer. He hurts everywhere. Norns. He's—he's...he's…

"I know that Loki stole a great deal from the Grandmaster," Thor murmurs and the eyes in the room flick towards him again. Thor bites harder. "We'd have to look to see if he thought to take any money."

Probably. Loki thinks of things like that.

The curia regis shift uncomfortably. Thor looks at his shaking hands for a moment longer before folding his hands across his chest and stuffing his fingers into the creases of his elbows. He can still feel the tremble. The room is fuzzy. Everyone's gone quiet. Thor lifts his head up. "What?"

"Have...how do you expect us to trust your brother, my King? He lied to us for four years and now he's abandoned Asgard." Lord Arkenson mutters. Thor starts, looking across the room in horror. Wait-wait-wait—

"No. He didn't." Thor shakes his head rapidly. "Loki would never—"

"Where is he, then?" Lady Pettidottir demands. "It's been over seventy hours and no one has seen or heard from him. If he hasn't abandoned Asgard, why didn't he come onto the ship? Where is he—?"

"He awoke Surtur, you idiot. That's where he is." The Valkyrie's voice is flat. Thor's gaze flicks to her face with some surprise. He had expected to have to defend Loki by himself, but she...Norns, he has never been more grateful for her presence. She is steady. Secure.

The room quiets. "So he's dead then." Lord Arkenson says. Thor's jaw tightens as he picks up the small edge of relief dotting the councilman's tone. Relief. As far as they're aware, Thor's only family has been killed in the last week, and they're relieved. No one has even—

Stop. You're not five. You don't need someone to offer you comfort. You're king now. Kings don't get friends. Father told you that enough that you should—

Thor bites back his first response which is to immediately spout out about how Loki's actually on the Statesmen and trying to recover from life-threatening wounds, but he can't. He keeps himself quiet. Remembers that he's not supposed to know where his brother is and looks up, "Loki's not dead."

Another councilman makes a pitying noise.

The Valkyrie sighs and rests a hand on his shoulder. His skin tenses beneath her touch. "Listen, Majesty, the chances of him walking away from that are—"

"You don't know my brother." Thor snaps. Loki walked away. Loki got not just himself out, but also Hela. He was fine. (Half dead, the more realistic part of him points out. Loki still hasn't awakened yet. You don't even know if he'll recover. Shh.)

If the Valkyrie's deterred by his tone, it doesn't show. "Maybe not, but I don't think Loki expected to come back."

Bold move brother, even for me.

Thor tries to hide a tremble, and doesn't think he succeeds. His jaw tenses. He breathes. In, out. He knows that he's on the verge of panicking, but he stops it because he doesn't have time. He wants to sleep. Still hasn't. Not yet. Every time he thinks about closing his eyes he remembers something else that must be done.

He doesn't know where all this energy is coming from. When was the last time he ate? Has he eaten since before his capture on Muspelheim? He...doesn't think so. That would make it what? Three weeks?

He's lasted longer.

He'll be fine.

Breathe.

Thud. Thump. Thud. Thump. Thud—

When he finally manages to catch himself, the council has shifted topics. The Valkyrie's hand hasn't left his shoulder. It seems to be there in silent support, and Thor wilts at that. He's not deserving of anything like that. He hasn't done enough to earn it. He focuses, listening.

"—should we really be trusting funds from Sakaar? It's practically nowhere—will it work as currency here? Time is disjointed around that realm, it could be far outdated." Someone points out.

"The Statesmen runs well enough." Lord Arkenson sniffs.

Yeah. Certainly. Falling apart, but working splendidly.

Lord Fredilson sighs under his breath, "We're all doomed to starvation."

"Indeed." Lord Vili agrees, his eyes narrowing and the thick, bushy white eyebrows he's currently sporting making a show of hiding his eyelids from view completely. "If we had simply thought ahead of the consequences for what this was meant to be, it all could have been avoided."

Thor flinches. Anything Lord Vili has to say is usually negative or soul crushing, so he shouldn't be surprised, but it doesn't make the words hurt any less. He knows that he was acting out of desperation—foolish desperation, because Hela is still alive—but it was the only thing that would have worked. What else was he supposed to do? Hela wasn't dying.

"What's done is done," Heimdall interjects, voice soft, "we must focus on what is now. We will aim for this outpost to gather supplies—make trades if we must. We will find a way to provide for the citizens."

"But what if we can't?" Sir Borison questions, his voice is faint. "We can't give them false hope—we shouldn't, it's cruel."

"It is more cruel to leave them with none." Heimdall says firmly. "We will see if we can find funding the prince may have left and gather what we can for trading in the meantime."

He's so much better at ruling than Thor is. Thor doesn't feel ready. So many years spent under his father's guidance, and he still can't do this. The room remains quiet for a long moment before Lord Arkenson sighs.

"King Thor, you must do something. We can't leave the people to suffer this fate. If we can't find anything to trade or any funds, you must come up with another solution."

Like what!?

Thor nods, because that seems like the proper thing to do. "I will." He promises. It's false, but no one seems to notice the lie.

000o000

The Valkyrie tracks him down after the meeting, looking like she's out for blood. "Answer me something, Majesty," she demands. Thor braces himself, trying to keep himself from openly panicking. She knows. She must know. She knows. She knows.

"What?" he asks.

The Valkyrie jabs him in the shoulder and Thor tries not to visibly flinch. Ow. Ow. "Are you sick?"

"What? No." Thor's brow furrows with confusion. "Why would I be sick? I haven't been sick in decades."

The Valkyrie rests a hand on her hip. He knows it's a common position for women to take when they're angry, but it reminds him so starkly of Jane that his heart twists inside of his chest. He misses her. Norns, it's been too long.

"Yeah." The Valkyrie agrees. "You're many things, but children are better liars."

Thor wiggles out of her grip. "Honestly. I'm fine. I don't see the point of your concern."

"You look half dead?" The Valkyrie asks rhetorically. "Norns, you're an idiot. Have you seen a healer since Ragnarok?"

"Of course." Thor lies smoothly, "I'm just a little tired. I'll get some sleep, I promise."

The Valkyrie doesn't look like she believes him. Thor can't say he blames her.

Thor catches himself falling asleep for hours afterwards, as if the mere mention of going to bed has drained his body's final supplies of energy away. He's been dozing off if he sits still for days (hours?) now, maybe he's just more aware of it.

000o000

"Hey, uh, Thor?"

Thor stops, turning to look back and his eyes widen with surprise as he sees Bruce. "Bruce!" Thor exclaims, relief escaping into his stance. "It's good to see you!"

"Yeah! Hey." Bruce agrees, looking strangely out of place. His hands keep shuffling awkwardly towards the sleeves of his long shirt. It looks like an Asgardian robe, but where it came from is a different story. Bruce looks at him for a second before his shoulders slump with relief. "You have no idea how glad I am to see you." He reassures.

Thor moves forward and gives him a quick embrace doing his best to avoid applying pressure to anything that aches. Bruce's arms come up and Thor flinches at his touch. Is there a part of him that isn't damaged right now? Probably a finger.

"How are you?" Thor questions, pulling away.

"A little tired, mostly hungry." Bruce admits with a slight shrug. "Heimdall found me and explained...about it. I'm sorry about Asgard, Thor." He says sincerely. "I wish we could have found something else to stop your crazy sister."

Thor's expression grows tight for a second. Yes, no worries, she's downstairs. Possibly plotting the murder of everyone here. "Yes. Well. What happened happened and there is no need to dwell on the past." Thor insists.

Asgard is a place, not a people.

More fidgeting with the sleeves. Bruce nods, "All the same, though. I...um, I've been looking for you."

Great. Thor tries to bury the dread and draws up what little bits of energy he can. "What can I do for you?" The last time he saw Bruce or Hulk was at his coronation a few days ago. Hulk was present. No. That can't be right. He thinks he passed by Hulk a few times a couple of hours ago.

How long has it been since Asgard exploded? Days? Hours? Thor doesn't know. Time has blurred to the point it's lost all meaning.

"Hulk. Hulk wanted…" Bruce pauses, and then rewords with: "He smelled blood on you and—yeah. He couldn't do anything about it, but I'm a doctor so, um," he shrugs awkwardly. Thor bites at his tongue in annoyance.

He's fine. Will everyone stop pestering him with it!? Asgard comes first. Asgard always comes first. Thor forces his smile to hold. "It was probably just my eye," he gestures vaguely towards the area, "it won't stop bleeding."

"Oh." Bruce squints up at him. "Do you mind if I…?"

It will get him to stop. "No." Thor assures, "Please."

000o000

He hasn't been in the room for almost sixteen hours and he's buzzing with anxiety when he returns. He's dead on his feet, he knows that, but this takes precedence. When he staggers into the room, he stumbles onto his knees. His head is spinning and he can taste blood. Why does it taste so sweet?

It should be worse. Sour and bitter, like the knowledge of tasting it is.

Move.

Go.

You have things to do. Go. Go. Go.

Loki. Loki. Loki. Thor heaves out a breath, swallowing bile and lifts himself up onto his heals. He doesn't know if he can go any further.

"My, my, little brother, did someone beat you?" Thor startles at the voice, looking up. Hela is on her back, limbs sprawled out across the couch in a position that looks uncomfortable. Her head is tipped in his direction, gray-blue hard. Someone braided her hair. She found a different pair of clothing, and most of the bandages are hidden beneath the long dress she's sporting.

She's awake, and she didn't leave. So what was—?

Loki.

Thor turns his gaze from her towards his younger brother, barely daring to breathe until he can see the steady rise and fall of Loki's chest. He gets something both better and worse: Loki's awake. He's somewhat upright and his green eyes are narrowed. He too, found a pair of clothing. It looks like something he would wear when they were younger, and Thor remembers Loki's cache.

Heat rises to his face in humiliation. He tears his gaze away. The one time he enters and both of them are awake has to be the one where he collapses.

Hela looks far better than she did a few days ago. Loki's skin is considerably less...charred. They look alive. They're going to be okay. Thor squeezes his eyes shut, trying to breathe in. This is good. This is very good. They'll be fine and he can…

Can he…?

He…

"Brother?" Hela again. Thor wants to snap at her, because that's a title that only Loki gets to call him, but he can't get his voice to work right.

"Thor?" Loki's voice is quieter. Scratchy. Does he have any water he can give to—oh no. Oh. Ow. Oh—

Thor stumbles to his hands and knees and vomits. His limbs are shaking and he can barely keep himself from falling into the wretched substance. His throat burns. His chest constricts and he vomits again.

It tastes like blood. Everything tastes like blood now.

A hand touches his shoulder and he crumples. His hands give out and arms wrap around his chest to keep him from face planting. The fingers are cold. They pull him before dragging him up and Thor lands on something soft. The couch. No—wait. He hasn't finished everything he needs to for sleep and he can't do it yet.

Hands move towards the straps of the armor to loosen it before it's being wrestled over his head. Thor shivers and rips his eyes open, trying to focus. His vision blurs. Loki's setting the armor to the side and looking at the various gathering of bruises and mostly-healed scars.

His injuries aren't nearly as grievous as anyone else's.

Time warps, jumping in and out and Thor's vaguely aware of warmth in his stomach. Fingers tap against his face, and Thor focuses, meeting Loki's eyes. "Thor." His voice is drained of patience. "When was the last time you ate something?"

Thor's stomach twists and he struggles to recall the date. "Um," Thor voices, pressing a hand against his stomach subconsciously as the desire to heave rises again. He's not going to vomit all over Loki. "I...I don't…weeks ago?"

Loki shakes his head and lifts up his hand, summoning some sort of fruit Thor thinks is native to Vanaheim. Loki shoves it towards him. "Eat this."

"It won't stay down." Thor mutters, reaching out a hand to grab at the fruit anyway.

"Thor, you lost your focus and have had to expend energy up to what you can't imagine to provide for that. On top of everything you were injured. What possessed you to think going so long without food was a good idea?"

He's not a child. Loki doesn't need to reprimand him like one. He didn't think it was a good idea. It just sort of happened.

Thor hunches, sitting up as best he can and remembers Hela's in the room when he sees her staring. Her lips are pinched and she's quiet. When he catches her gaze she looks away first. Loki pulls himself up with what looks like far too much effort and sits down next to him. They're close enough that their feet brush against each other.

His chest doesn't hurt as much, and a glance towards it shows the bruises are gone. Loki...must have healed him. The thought makes him both warm and cold. Warm because Loki cared enough to do it, but cold because he shouldn't have to. He's such a selfish, greedy—

Thor takes a bite of the fruit. It's almost painfully sour with a salty aftertaste. He doesn't care. It's substance. Once he's swallowed and it's settled in his stomach, he can feel the edge of his headache lesson some. He doesn't even know how Loki knew that was the problem so quickly, but he's grateful.

In an effort to avoid being stared at while he finishes, Thor asks, looking at his younger sibling, "How long have you been up?"

"As of yesterday." Loki's head is tilted.

Thor stills. "Yesterday?" He thought it had only been a few hours. "Wait—how long have we been here? On the Statesmen?"

Hela shifts and Thor can't help the tense that slips between his shoulder blades when he looks towards her. "I've been awake for at least five days." She answers. Her voice is toneless.

That makes six or seven.

Thor thought it'd only been three.

Oh.

Loki nudges him pointedly, and Thor forces himself to take another bite. He stares between his siblings and realizes that they need to discuss...everything. There's really no way around this. He swallows. Breathes. And then, "We need to talk."

Hela rolls her eyes and throws an arm over her face. "Spare me your dramatics."

"I'm serious." Thor insists, hand tightening around the pear-looking fruit. "We need to talk about what happened and what...what we're going to do now."

"You make this seem so complex." Hela shakes her head. "My fate is the chopping block. That's how this works, you ignoramus brat. There's no need to go into a lengthy description of—"

"Sister." Loki's voice is quiet, but enough.

Hela heaves out a breath and Thor wonders what the last day has looked like. Did Hela try to kill Loki when he woke up, too? His insides freeze at that and he forces himself not to shift, taking some relief in the fact that he's in between the woman and his brother. As much as he can be.

"Leniency has never been Asgard's way." Hela says and shifts so she can look at them properly. Her gaze seems haunted. Her face is defeated. Dead. Why is she relaxed about this!? She isn't trying to fight, or run, just accepting an imaginary execution like it's a given fact of life—which it isn't.

So why—oh. Thor may not know much about Hela's reasons for trying to kill everyone, but he knows that she was trying to get Hofund. She was going to finish what Odin started all those centuries ago with the Eternal Flame. But, after Ragnarok, Hela's army is gone. Her only means of accomplishing her goal is dead. She has nothing to lose anymore if she dies.

"Not anymore." Thor says firmly. "I'm king now. You aren't going to be executed."

"You're going to save my soul instead?" Hela sneers. "How quaint."

"Stop it." Loki hisses. "You're helping nothing."

"This is your fault in the first place." Hela's voice has gone cold. "I never asked you to save me and you nearly got us both killed anyway. Genius. Truly, I marvel in your wisdom. One for the books, isn't it?"

Loki laughs, but it's desperate. Wet. "You think that this some sort of game to me?"

Thor hates that his first answer is yes.

Hela hums, small smile split across her lips. "It's certainly a fantasy. What exactly did you think was going to happen, brother? I'd be indebted to you for saving me? Throw myself at your feet and weep my gratitude?"

Loki snaps up to his feet. He's coiled tight like a snake and Thor draws back, wary. "I didn't expect anything to happen, you mewling Ergi." Hela flinches, eyes fixed on Loki's face. Their brother breathes in, out, but his hands are shaking. "And do you want to know a truth, dearest sister? I regret taking you with me."

Thor intakes sharply. The words aren't meant for him, but Norns, he can feel their sting.

Hela draws back, expression going blank.

"Loki," Thor breathes, because what else can he do? The words are awful even if they are directed at someone like Hela. But she's still their sister. (The sister you wished dead a few days ago, hypocrite).

Loki whirls, turning on him, "Oh, don't start. You don't want either of us here. Don't pretend anything different."

Thor chokes, "That's not—"

"Our paths diverged a long time ago." Loki's voice is a perfect mimic of Thor's own and a shudder races down his spine at it. He didn't realize how awful the words sound until they fall from Loki's lips instead of his own. It's basically disownment. Loki hadn't done anything but nod, even though he'd clearly understood their meaning, even then.

I'm not your brother, I never was.

Our paths diverged a long time ago.

Hela laughs, clearly reveling in the tension and Thor's stomach tightens, a rush of anxiety splitting down his gut. He can't. Norns, he can't. No, no, no. Thor jerks up to his feet and storms past Loki, keeping a wide distance between himself and his sister. There's no way to slam a door on the Statesmen, but he probably would have if he could.

000o000

He's drunk and hazy when the Valkyrie finds him. He doesn't know how long it's been or even where he found the liquor, but he's downed more than is strictly recommended when she plops down next to him. She steals the bottle from his hand and takes a swig, wrinkling her lips in distaste.

"Never pegged you as a drinker to this proportion." The Valkyrie notes out loud.

Thor stares forward listlessly. "'M trying to numb it."

The Valkyrie hums, setting the bottle between them. When nothing but silence settles between them, she sighs, drawing out the breath. "Norns, you're going to make me ask, aren't you? What are you trying to numb?"

"Everything." Thor grumbles. His head hurts. It shouldn't hurt when he's drunk, but it does. Curses.

"Specific point?" the Valkyrie presses.

If he hadn't been drunk, he would have come up with something passable. If he'd slept for more than five hours in the last six days, it would have been something believable. If he wasn't injured and the wounds possibly infected, the Valkyrie wouldn't have had reason to doubt. Instead, "my siblings" comes tumbling out, before everything else follows. "Norns, I can't stand them. I'm almost ready to take up Hela's death wish. I was just trying...trying to help and I don't kno'...what I'm doing wrong."

The Valkyrie stills beside him. "Your siblings? Plural?"

Thor nods, not understanding why this is such a terrible thing. He groans and buries his head into his hands. His fingers are trembling. "I feel terrible." He whispers. He thinks he's going to be sick again. (Again? He's thrown up recently?)

"What do you mean—" the Valkyrie's voice breaks, and she has to start again. "Majesty, what do you mean your siblings?"

"Loki and Hela." Thor grumbles, "Do I have any others?"

Not by blood. Except Loki isn't his blood and Thor keeps forgetting that, even after all this time. An insane-sounding laugh bubbles up his throat. He can't remember the last time he laughed properly. Even this one sounds strangled.

"No. You're joking." The Valkyrie's voice sounds weirdly desperate.

Thor shakes his head. "Nope." He pops the "p". "'M bad at jokes. Father said...said that. A long time ago. I think. I mean, I don't. He did. He did, yes. It hurt, but I was young and stupid then anyway, so it didn't matter much, but he was always saying things like that and it made me feel just awful—"

The Valkyrie's hands grab his shoulders, shaking him. "Focus, you dolt. Hela is on the Statesmen?"

Thor squints. His head hurts. The light hurts. He wants to sleep, but he thinks he'll vomit first.

The Valkyrie slaps him, and Thor startles, surprised. She looks anxious. Stressed. What's...what's going on that's causing her so much discomfort? Discomfort doesn't seem like the right word. What would the correct choice be?

"Your psychopathic sister is on the ship!? How!? Where is she!?" the Valkyrie demands, and Thor feels his head clear some as warning bells begin to go off. They rattle him back and forth, insisting that he pay attention to what's being said.

"Wait—how, how did you—" Thor starts to sputter.

Oh no. No, no, no—Thor, you idiot.

"Norns curse it!" the Valkyrie snaps, jumping to her feet. "She can't be here. We didn't blow Asgard up just so you could show her mercy. Where is the demon? I'll take her head." She doesn't have a weapon on her, but Thor doesn't doubt she could simply tear Hela's head from her body if she tried hard enough.

A swear escapes him and he staggers up to his feet. The Valkyrie begins to storm off and Thor nearly topples to the ground again at how much the world is spinning. He's spent too much time on Earth, he'd forgotten how powerful actual liquor is.

"Valkyrie, wait—"

He nearly rams into a door frame she passes through, and does slam against the far wall when it's further away than he thought. Depth perception is best achieved with two eyes. Thor doesn't know how his father fought with only one eye, even after the wide-spread peace that the final war with Jotunheim brought. Thor can barely avoid the all murderous door frame.

He said something. He wasn't supposed to say anything. He was supposed to stay quiet until—what, they reached Midgard? That's almost half a year, and he honestly expected Loki and Hela to stay put in that room for so long? The only reason they haven't left is because they can't. At least, Thor thinks. He didn't get to do a medical assessment before he left last.

Norns, how can anyone trust him to be their king?

He's a disaster.

Thor treks after the Valkyrie for nearly two more halls, words bubbling out that he doesn't understand half of. The Valkyrie's patience finally seems to reach its limits and she whirls, jabbing a hand into his shoulder. "Shut up! You don't get what it is that you've done, do you? We didn't flee the planet because Hela raised the taxes to something ridiculous—she would have slaughtered all of us. What makes you think she's had a change of heart—what made you save her!?"

"I—" Thor stutters. "I didn't. Loki did."

The Valkyrie's expression shifts, but only marginally. The rage is still there. Thor hates that he wants to shy away from it. He's not a child anymore. He should be able to take someone's wrath. The Valkyrie's jaw tightens.

"Of all the stupid, self-centered—" she starts to say angrily, but stops when Bruce—wherever he came from, Thor isn't sure, but he hardly has a clear grasp on his surroundings at the moment—grabs her shoulder.

"Whoa, calm down." He instructs.

The Valkyrie shoves his hand off. "Calm down. How can I be calm about this!?"

Thor squeezes his eyes shut, barely containing another swear or an open wince. He did his best not to imagine what a confrontation would have looked like for his decision to save his sister after Loki had, but this...hadn't made it there. He'd never expected to blab about it because he was drunk.

One mistake. One. And he's ruined everything.

"What's going on?" Bruce looks bewildered, eyes frantically jumping between the two of them. "Is someone hurt?"

"They're going to be!" the Valkyrie seethes. "Move. I have to kill someone."

Bruce's eyes go wide with alarm and he grabs her bicep when she starts to move away. "No—no. Valkyrie, stop. Be reasonable. Who on earth could you need to kill here? There's no threat. It's fine."

Thor's stomach is twisting into impossible knots. The world is still fuzzing. Despite all the stress and tension threatening to be squeezed out of him slowly, he still feels the odd euphoria. He wants to laugh and giggle, curling into a ball of joy and not moving for a long time.

He's just a bundle of bad decisions now, isn't he?

"Thor's been lying to us." The Valkyrie says through gritted teeth. "That is, if it isn't the ramblings of a drunk man, which I really doubt. His siblings are on board the Statesmen, Banner."

Bruce stops, pales, and then turns to him. "Siblings. Plural? You mean…"

"Loki and Hela." The Valkyrie hisses. "He saved the demon from death. Asgard was destroyed for nothing. Hela's going to kill us all, and I'm going to kill her before she gets the chance. I'm just trying to keep us alive. Now move."

Bruce's lips are thinned and his eyes narrow. He hardly seems to have processed the words the Valkyrie said, instead focused on him. "Your sister is here?" He sounds a little panicked. Thor has lived off of nothing but panic and spite the last few days, and a part of him feels strangely vindicated.

He can't get the words to come out. They don't. Instead, Thor offers a grim, twisted smile before pitching forward and vomiting.