Disclaimer: These characters are the property of Marvel.
AN: It is unlikely that Loki will see death in The Avengers, but I felt like writing this, anyway. I was kind of inspired by the moment in the Siege comics where Loki realises his plans have gone too far and kills himself in order to buy the team more time to defeat a powerful bad guy. (In Marvel canon, Loki is pretty much immortal as he makes a deal with his daughter, Hela, which involves taking his name out of the books of Hel. So, he resurrects upon death. Whether this is canon in the films remains to be seen.) I will probably be making edits to this in the future as I find more room for improvement.
The black clouds hanging low in the sky swirled morosely, as if waiting for the final blow. Thor had inadvertently caused rainfall. Thick drops of water cut through the layers of dirt and blood on his face, skirting past his wild snarl as he strode forwards along the city road. He stopped by the broken mass on the ground before him and felt the weight of Mjolnir in his hand. One swing and it would be over. One swing for victory.
A flash of green. His mind numbed. There was a moment his consciousness seemed to transcend his body, searching for a haven, a retreat, an escape. He couldn't see. He couldn't think. Actions and consequences tumbled endlessly around his brain. The image of a smiling, dark haired little boy.
Thor's eyes refocused and his body regained feeling as his mind bypassed the shock and grief that had temporarily rendered him immobile. Green eyes. He felt the blood encasing his body and remembered that not all of it was his own. He collapsed to his knees, sliding a shaking hand to the throat of his fallen brother where it gripped weakly. With the other, he raised Mjolnir until it hovered wearily above his head. One swing.
Look at you. The mighty Thor! With all your strength! And what good does it do you now?
"No," he mouthed, his voice failing him. Only moments ago he had been the epitome of anger, seeing only red as he pummelled and roared and cried. The mighty Mjolnir had been the tool of his rage. Neither building nor man had seen mercy, and the surrounding area was completely decimated as a result of Thor's lightning and S.H.I.E.L.D's weaponry. The buildings were crumbling. Every now and then, a chunk of stone or metal would come crashing to the road, or a small explosion would shatter windows. Such devastation meant nothing to him, now. All he could see was blood smeared over pale skin. All he could hear was weak, pained gasps for breath.
A slight laugh. Loki's dulled eyes clenched as he sneered, his lips trembling. "What stalls you, Thor? It will only take a moment to end this. Save the mortals. Save your precious Midgard," he hissed. Thor could see bloody burns and bullet wounds through the shreds of his brother's armour. "You can go home, back into the arms of Odin. Just finish it."
The smiling, dark haired boy grew into a man. Quiet. Clever. He walked in the shadow of his older brother without complaint. He was laughing at one of Thor's jokes now, running his hand through that raven hair, one of the attributes of his being that made him stand out from normal Asgardians. For so long, those bright eyes had been a welcome sight. They were joyous. But now they were empty of anything but pain and hate.
"I cannot kill you," Thor said, his voice barely a whisper. "I could not live knowing my hands had done such a thing. I have loved you all these centuries and I will never stop."
"That is why you are weak," Loki spat. Rain fell into his eyes, mingling with tears. "I could not make Odin love me. So I made him hate me. Why won't you?"
"It is not a weakness to love somebody, brother!"
In the murk of dust and smoke surrounding the two, the rest of the Avengers and other S.H.I.E.L.D agents moved forwards, clutching at various injuries as they ploughed through the darkness. As a mark of respect, they remained silent. But the pause could not last. A superbeing such as Loki could not be allowed to live if he was not sent away from Earth. He was too powerful. Too angry. For now, none dared finish the job they had started in fear of invoking Thor's wrath.
Many of them jumped as Mjolnir crashed to the ground. The hammer lay abandoned as Thor clutched at the sides of Loki's face, tears now streaming down his cheeks. It was a sight many of them had thought they would never see.
"Return to Asgard with me," he croaked, holding the gaze of the man beneath him. "All is not lost. Please, brother."
"Stop it," Loki breathed. "You are a fool, Thor, if you believe I belong anywhere in the nine realms."
"You belong with me!" Thor found his voice. The sorrow pained him to such an extent he could barely move. He could hardly breathe through the exhaustion and pain that gripped his system, but it did not matter. All that mattered was the warm, wet flesh between his hands. He never allowed anybody to give up. He would not fail his own sibling in this regard as long as he lived. "You belong by my side, like always."
"Do not make this so difficult! Why must you? I have hated you! I tried to kill you and your worthless little friends. I have killed scores of these insects you love so dearly. Hate me, Thor. Hate me!" Loki writhed in the pool of blood beneath him, clawing at the hands on his face. Thor just shuddered and wept, lowering his face onto his brother's chest. "You are weak and soft like these humans. I am a monster and yet you insist on calling me your brother." The pained rasp of Loki's voice finally broke as silent sobs shook his body. His arms slid to Thor's head and embraced it weakly. "Hate me … like I have hated you …"
Thor allowed himself to sink into the warmth and comfort of his brother's arms. The thought of what he had done to the man sickened him, as did the thought of what Loki would do to Midgard were he allowed to heal and walk free. He had sworn as a young boy to protect Loki at all costs, even if it meant defying the commands of Odin Allfather, because if there was anything in his life that was certain, it was that he loved the green-eyed, mischievous young sorcerer with all his mind and heart. Back then, he had known he would fight scores of Frost Giants or Dark Elves were his brother in peril. He would travel to the darkest corners of the nine realms were his brother ever lost.
He had failed.
He deserved all of Loki's hate.
Brother, forgive me for whatever wrong I did to you.
"Brother," Thor whispered, raising his head. "I will never stop loving you. I have not been able to shield you from harm, but I will never stop loving you. I promise."
Loki diverted his gaze to the sky and his jaw trembled. Around them, screams suddenly erupted, but Thor barely recognised the sounds. His brother's eyes had fixed on something over their heads. That pale, bloody face was swept free of pain, fear and malice. Green eyes shone in a manner reminiscent of older days. For a moment, he might have been happy.
"That is the greatest gift of all, Thor."
A chilled acceptance crossed his face. Thor's heart leapt as Loki's eyes met his own once again. A smile stretched those thin lips. The sound of rainfall was dimmed by a loud, almost mechanical groaning and creaking, and the screams of the agents grew more manic. They were telling each other to run. Some called Thor's name. Hands tugged at his cape and shoulders.
This is goodbye, brother. I'm so sorry.
A green blur was the last thing he saw before he was launched at an impossible speed through the air. He bellowed in outrage at being wrenched so cruelly from his brother's embrace, swinging his hands in an attempt to grasp something, anything, so he could take Loki somewhere safe. Similar screams pierced his ears. Like him, the Avengers and the agents had been swept off their feet by an unknown force, lifted into the air and violently thrown backwards. Thor finally landed painfully on his chest, his eyes and throat stinging after being forced through the smoke that clotted the city road.
Before he could even roll onto his back, there was a thunderous rumbling and crunching. Thor instinctively rolled into a ball as millions of shards of glass and balls of rubble came hurtling out of nowhere, slamming into the concrete. The sound had been akin to an explosion. A great cloud of brown dust surged through the air and tumbled to the earth, blinding him.
"Loki," Thor tried to yell, but the dust caught in his throat and choked him. Somebody grabbed his arm and pulled him as he stumbled through the shroud of darkness. This was surely a nightmare. Earth had made new feelings known to him, but this was surely one of the worst. Utmost fear. No control.
As a wave of fresh air hit his face, Thor fell to his knees and rubbed his eyes free of dirt. "What happened?" he demanded, slamming a fist into the ground. "Loki?"
"Thor," somebody muttered quietly, "half of that building collapsed. He's under it."
"No," the god said under his breath, looking up to see his team watching him nervously. "Help me get him out."
His sight was naught but dark swirls and dots as he heaved himself to his feet and turned to run back to where he had been mere moments ago. Finding a clearing in the dust, Thor put his hands on the enormous pile of rubble that now barricaded the entire street, disbelief entering his system. Loki had used the last of his power to toss he and the mortals away from danger.
"Help me," he said, staggering about the pile blindly. "Please. Somebody." With a pained roar, the man shifted huge chunks of rubble and metal, tossing them uncaringly behind him. He relied solely on his Asgardian strength to aid his cause as Mjolnir was still buried alongside his brother. There were more grunts and thuds. With a brief flash of gratitude he realised that able Avengers were helping him clear through the concrete. Presumably, they too had realised what Loki had done.
"Loki!" Thor cried out in desperation, his search growing more frantic. He and the others had shifted tons of the rubble. Why couldn't he hear his brother's voice? He couldn't have died, his body was too strong to perish in this manner. At that very thought, Thor's stomach lurched. It wasn't possible. Was it?
"Thor." Tony Stark. He had stopped tossing chunks aside and was staring at a ditch he had created. His voice was uncharacteristically solemn. "Thor. I'm sorry."
"What?" the god breathed. He could feel his knees begin to tremble as he moved towards the armour-clad man, his eyes wide. "You found him? Brother, can you hear me?"
The sight that met him, Thor would never forget as long as he lived.
The pale, unmoving face had been slashed deeply, causing thick streams of blood to gather at his brother's lips and cascade down his neck. His hair, clotted and tangled with blood, splayed out beneath the lax head like a dark halo. The rest of his body was relatively unharmed, aside from his chest. Thor's eyes locked onto the short, metal bar that disappeared into Loki's flesh. It had pierced his heart.
"Loki," Thor muttered, unable to shift his gaze from the grievous injury. He slid into the ditch and slowly knelt, his hands hovering over Loki's face. He did not wish to harm him further. There was nothing that a healer in Asgard could not fix. He would carry him there in his own two arms and sit by him until he was fully healed. Things would go back to how they were. The times when they were two grinning, competing boys. The times Loki would quietly murmur advice and comfort to him when he was troubled. The times Thor would undergo a great victory and turn to find his brother's slight, smiling face, pride gleaming in those familiar green eyes. "Loki, wake up."
The eyes did not gleam. They were empty, now. Dull. They did not stretch with a smile upon seeing Thor. This could not happen. He could not be gone, now, not after all these years. The cunning Loki Odinson, feared and praised, prince of Asgard, Thor's beloved brother. Taken. Gone. Within a few mere seconds. Minutes ago, he had been fine. He could have allowed Thor to take the blow, instead. Thor was sworn to protect him, to love him, he would have done it, were he given the chance.
Do you hear me, brother? There's nothing you can do!
I'm not your brother! I never was!
All I ever wanted was to be your equal!
"Brother," Thor gasped, shifting the body so that it rested in his lap. He cradled the lifeless head as gently as possible, as if it would break at any moment. His trembling fingers traced the soft skin of Loki's jaw and cheeks. He was truly gone. Never again would he talk and laugh alongside him. The hole in his heart would only grow bigger.
He allowed his body to succumb to uncontrollable sobs. He cried out in rage and grief and longing, the emotions overwhelming everything. He rocked back and forth as his tears fell onto the face of his brother. This was wrong. Unfair. It should never had ended like this. Nothing should. But nothing else in the world mattered. His own had been shredded into pieces, his heart wrenched from his chest, not only because Loki was gone, but also because Thor would never know whether he had forgiven him. For now, he was living and breathing because of his brother, and that was something he would never forget. His mouth open in a silent cry, he closed Loki's eyes and buried his own face into the still chest. If he were to remember those eyes, he would remember them bright and full of life, not the deadened orbs they were now, hollow echoes of broken promises.
Like so many times before, Loki had warded harm away from his sibling, taking the consequences for himself.
The black clouds began to ebb away into nothingness.
You're my brother and my friend. Sometimes I'm envious, but never doubt that I love you.