“What are you doing here?”
Steve spun around and saw Thor at the door frame, face obscured by the darkness. Chill ran down his spine as he looked back at the bed at the wall.
“I heard noises...and I thought there were some rats, so I came to check,” Steve said, eyes riveting to the picture in front of him.
On the bed there was a man being strapped down, ankles and wrists bound to the bed posts with leather cords as thick as belts. His dark head turned as he looked at the two blonds in the room with a glazed eyes as if he was miles away. Even from afar, Steve saw that there was nothing behind those eyes that looked like just two holes burned into the ashen face. And what almost made Steve gag was a gag over the man's mouth.
“Th—Thor...what...what the hell is this?” Steve asked, his voice shaking with an unnamed fear.
“This?” Thor stepped into the light and Steve saw the face he came to love in the past ten months. Warm baby blue eyes were worried as Thor frowned and cast a glance at the man strapped on the bed. “This is Loki, my brother.” His voice was laden with sadness.
“Your brother? The crazy brother?” Steve felt cold all over. “What the hell is he doing down here!?”
Thor looked as if Steve had just asked him the stupidest question. “He's sick, so I keep him here.”
“Thor! You don't treat mentally ill people like this! This--” Steven pointed to Loki. “You told me you have a 'crazy little brother', and I thought...no, Thor, this is...this is insane!”
A corner of Thor's lip sloped into a small, sad smile. “Oh I know, love. That's why I need to keep him like this, right, brother?”
Steve watched as Thor walked towards the bed and leaned down to stroke Loki's head. “My brother has been like this for a long time, and my parents tried to put him away. They never understood that I was the only person who could keep Loki calm.” He carded his fingers through Loki's hair and Loki never blinked an eye as his big brother touched his head like a pet.
“They never understood what was wrong about him.” Thor went on, not seeing the horrified look on Steve's face. “He was...restless and hungry. The more we grew up, he became even more uncontrollable.” Thor smiled and rest his hand on top of Loki's head, looking back at Steve. “I was the only one who could calm him down. That's why I have to keep him like this. It's for his own sake.”
Steve swallowed, his stomach flipped as he forced out a question. “What happened exactly, Thor? Why do you think you can help him like this?”
Thor sighed. “You wouldn't believe me, but Loki totally drove us insane. One minute he's telling jokes, oh yes, when he is not screaming or cursing me so that I need to put something in his mouth, we talk. Then the next minute he will be shouting obscenity and cursing me to go fuck myself or wish I would be eaten alive by a giant snake. Such an imaginative boy.” Thor gave Loki a fond smile and received a glare in return. He went on. “And many times, he will be...asking, pleading to be helped, um...relieved.”
Steve was dread but he had to ask. “With what?”
Thor made a pained face. “This urge in him...It's unbelievable, but I'm the only person who can stop it, even if just for a moment. Otherwise it will eat at him and he will claw his own eyes out.”
He then looked back at Steve. “But don't worry. I keep him strapped down so you don't have anything to fear...” Thor's frown deepened. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“No, Thor, you can't keep him like this. He's not well and he needs a doctor!” Steve shouted, his hands trembling. He pushed past Thor and bent down to untie the cords. The moment his hands contacted with Loki's wrist, it was as if a switch had been flicked and Loki's head snapped to look at the short-haired blond. It looked as if a mist was blown away in his glazed green eyes, and they widened as he registered Steve.
Loki started shouting through the gag and it reminded Steve of a caged animal.
“NO!” Thor shouted almost at the same time. He grabbed Steve on the shoulder, threw him away from his younger brother and he was covering Loki with his body.
“Thor!” Steve was breathing hard, eyes scanning the room and looked for something that can be used for a self defense. “I'm just trying to help!”
“How?” Thor barked. “Take him to the hospital? It doesn't work that way!”
Steve looked at the two before him. Thor lifted Loki's body up and started cradling his brother in his arms. “You don't understand.” Thor pleaded, his face twisted with fear that wrenched Steve's guts.
He realized that moment that Thor was sick. His mind whirled and he quickly said.
“I just want him to be ok, Thor. We will take care of him together, all right? Just let me...let me help.” Steve walked towards the two men, reaching out to place his hand on Thor's trembling shoulder. He felt Loki's piercing green eyes on him all the time and he stole a glance. Loki's eyes were impossibly wide as if he tried to say something. Steve silently promised that he would salvage this situation.
“We will take care of him, won't we?” Steve put a hand on Thor's that rested on a cord around Loki's wrist. “Please, Thor, please let me help you. You don't have to do this alone. You've got me, love. Let me help you.”
Slowly, Thor nodded. Relief washed over Steve and he crouched down next to the bed to start untying the cord. Thor rose to his feet and took a few steps away from them.
Steve undid the bondage as fast as possible. “There, Loki.” He started on the other wrist. “It's ok now. We'll take you to the hospital.” Steve glanced over his shoulder and saw Thor standing motionlessly in the middle of the room. He had this saddened expression on his face as he dropped his head. Making sure that Thor didn't move to stop him, Steve returned to work on the third cord. “It's all right.”
Loki was shouting and Steve turned, but it was too late. The sledge hammer came down too fast for him to get out of its way.
The blood sprayed on Loki's face and made him flinch. One of his hand was free and he grabbed the loosening cord shakily, trying to pull it apart as he struggled to get free.
Thor stood behind Steve who was now laying still on the floor, small blood trail creeping from him like a red snake.
Thor kicked the body out of his way, dropped the hammer and knelt down next to Loki. His brother swung a fist at him, but Thor caught it easily as if it was just a passing butterfly. He held Loki's wrist in a vice grip, then using the free hand to wipe the fresh blood stain from Loki's cheek.
Loki screamed as Thor started tying him back on the cords. He screamed and tears were flowing down his face, mingling with the blood.
“Shh...brother. Loki...shhhh....shhhhh...” Thor secured the cords. “I hate to see you cry, little brother. Shhh....it's gonna be all right...shhh...”
Loki kicked and screamed, his anguish muffled by the gag. His eyes dashed to the body, willing the man to just get up to his damn feet and....and the man's body was surrounded by a beautiful red pool of blood.
Like the red their mom and dad were lying in years ago.
He screamed, kicking, buckling, writhing, struggling.
“Shhhh....” Thor nuzzled his hair. “Baby brother, you're unwell. I will take care of you.” Thor moved to Loki's ear. “Let me take care of you, Loki.” Thor whispered as he held his brother's trembling body tight.
Loki screamed as Thor kissed his neck, once, twice. He screamed until his voice died down in his throat and his eyes saw nothing but red.