The Sun Will Shine
Loki slowly drops to his knees in the middle of a vast expanse of grass. He's vaguely aware that there's a gentle breeze blowing, because he can see the blades moving. But he cannot feel the wind on his skin. He is neither cold, nor warm. He knows that this is not real. Or at the very least, it is a different kind of real.
All around him there is talking and laughing. People are passing him eagerly, pushing forward, going on ahead. A bright light shimmers invitingly in the distance. Loki knows this place. He knows what this is.
A familiar man pauses beside him.
"Why have you stopped?" He asks, softly.
Loki's mind feels slow and odd. It takes him a moment to articulate his confusion.
"Why am I not among the unworthy dead?"
Heimdall regards the question with utmost seriousness.
"Hmm…the simplest explanation is, of course, because you're not unworthy."
"I can't go," Loki insists, stubbornly.
"Look yonder," Heimdall says. He points at the horizon. "Your parents await."
"They're not my parents," Loki whispers. His lips form a petulant pout.
Heimdall's laugh is deep and rich.
"You don't really believe that. Do you?"
Loki's eyes burn with unshed tears. He doesn't answer the question. He can't.
"I'm so ashamed," he confesses, although he can't seem to remember why.
Heimdall reaches for the younger man, his palm open in anticipation.
"Take my hand, child. We shall cross the distance together."
And just like that they are back atop Stark Tower again. They are face to face, grappling and sparring like animals, as the world comes undone around them.
"Brother, help me put an end to this," Thor insists. It's different this time. He's eager, persistent, confident. "We can do it together."
He can see from Loki's face that he knows something is amiss. Something has changed. They should not be here now, like this. These events have already taken place, as have so many other things, some of them dark and terrible. Thor notices that it takes some getting used to, this shifting back and forth through time. He finds it not at all unlike a waking dream. Somehow he expected that it would come more easily to Loki.
"You don't know," Loki rambles. He grips the scepter with both hands, clutching it against his chest. "You don't know…you don't know what he's capable of. This will end his way, one way or another…Thanos will have his way…" He's breathing rapidly and so his words come out in harsh, laborious pants. His eyes are wide and fearful, darting back and forth.
"Loki, please…" Thor begins. "You must listen to me…"
"I can't…I can't…this is madness…it's madness…"
Thor reaches for the other man. But Loki seems so fragile right now, that he's not sure if it's safe to even touch him.
"You can trust me…"
Loki lets go of the scepter with his right hand. His fingers creep towards his own throat, as if to pry off some invisible force.
"Brother, help me. I'm choking…I'm choking…"
Thor's soul aches when reminded of Loki's brutal end. Even with all of the shifting back and forth, it still feels so fresh in his mind. It pains him to know that Loki might be reliving it somehow. He longs to soothe his brother's fears, but he knows they don't have the time.
"Loki you have to calm down!" Thor yells. He must roar to be heard over the din and confusion.
Loki's eyes are immediately shut tight. He raises the scepter in front of his face in a defensive gesture. Thor's heart sinks when he realizes that his brother is anticipating violence.
Softly and gently he reaches for Loki's free hand, and presses the palm of it firmly against his own forehead.
Thor has never given up any degree of control to Loki before, not really. He's learned that it's easier to allow Loki to spy and stalk him from a safe distance, than to simply engage in full disclosure. Certain barriers have always been necessary between them, for both their sake. But today that will not do. Thor knows that today, Loki needs more.
"I invite you to look into my mind, Brother. See that you can trust me. See that I feel nothing but love for you."
Loki opens his eyes. His expression is still one of sheer panic. Thor knows that he doesn't trust people easily, and right now he cannot even trust reality.
Loki swallows several times, as though he is attempting to literally consume his distress. Finally, he lets his eyes fall closed again. His fingers curl, relaxing around the roundness of his brother's head.
Thor can feel the other man entering his mind. Even with permission given, it's still an invasion of sorts. He relaxes as much as he can, trying to let go of any lingering anger or resentment. He descends into the moist depths of his own subconscious. He grabs hold of that which is sweetest and most tender, and holds it up as an offering. Then he waits for Loki to meet him there.
His mind is immediately flooded with images. There's a vast, green field, and a steep cliff, overlooking a deep pool. The colors are so rich and inviting. There are two boys -one blonde and one dark- holding hands and running. They count together, a practiced ritual. They scream and laugh as they leap to the water below. After they land, they race to the surface, gasping for air. They make their way to the shore, scrambling onto the rocks. Their clothes are sticking to their tiny bodies. They slog over to the grass and fling themselves onto it, lying on their backs. They gaze up into the clouds. It's all so bright, so real, and so right now-
"Okay," Loki says. He blinks several times, before slowly passing the scepter to his brother. "Okay."