So, I saw the Avengers recently and realized that I am in love with Loki too. Gah, what has that man done to the female population! He didn't hook me that much in Thor, but I love him now. So I had to beat him up, naturally.

For those of you who know my work, I do plan to finish Pawns in His Hands, hopefully soon. So thanks for sticking with it!

There is an illustration I did for the first part of this story that is at my Deviantart Account under Firebound, if you are interested. It's called Brothers.

This story simply started out as an excuse to explore Loki whump and brotherly love, but it kinda ran away from me. Sorry about that...

Muspelheim was unlike any realm that Thor or Loki had yet encountered. Which made Thor that much more excited and bone headed, and Loki that much more nervous. Exploring was one thing. Exploring with his brother however...well. That was a completely different game.

If Loki decided he wanted to go trekking around in one of the other realms, he would go quietly, move through it like a shadow, and skillfully evade almost any threat that crossed his path.

Thor, for lack of a better comparison, was an avalanche. No matter how Loki tried to show him this, it would, without fail, be mere minutes in a new (or frankly, for that matter, old) territory before Thor attracted either drink and women or something to fight. Usually it was the latter, though, to be fair, Loki cringed at either one. And both ended in mass amounts of destruction. It wasn't so much that Thor was intimate with the women- he was more reserved in that area, but he did feel the need to show off and have them fawn over him. Afterward he would leave them swooning to deal with the giant he'd annoyed half hour prior.

And Loki would sigh dramatically and join in, if for no other reason than to do damage control.

This is the exact situation Loki found himself in mere seconds after Thor and he had fully come out of the bifrost. A very large, very angry looking fire salamander three times the size of Slepnir was standing directly in their path, and the wormhole activity had sent it into fight or flight mode. It seemed, much to Loki's chagrin, to be very like Thor in that it chose the 'fight' option out of the two.

Loki could feel the excitement radiating off of his brother. "Thor, we should- oh, why do I bother..." He finished, muttering to himself even as Thor crouched and attacked. Loki gathered himself, adrenaline suddenly surging as the creature's lava-hot tail came flying towards him, allowing him to jump over it and skirt around to its other side. Immediately, Loki began calling up all his energy towards a cold spell he'd been perfecting, knowing that if he could freeze any part of the creature it would put out much of its fire and subdue it considerably. The flaw in this plan, was that the spell took a great amount of focus and time to conjure, and half of his attention was constantly on the creature, skirting around the edge of it as it snapped at him with its jaws, going for him because Thor was annoyingly out of its reach as he straddled its back.

"Thor, just finish it!" Loki cried desperately as he dodged another tail swing, frantically trying to complete the spell.

"I cannot, I shall hold him and defeat him with my hands!"

"What do you mean you cannot? You are near enough to its head," Loki protested, running up its side and flipping off, splitting himself into several apparitions. "just finish it!" all five of him said as he scattered.

"I lack my weapon, the fight would be over too soon otherwise!" Thor laughed from the creature's back, clinging to it with his arms part way around its neck.

Loki's stomach dropped as he looked up, the creature momentarily confused by the sudden appearance of multiple opponents. Thor had, indeed, left Mjolnir sitting near the bifrost site, too stubborn to simply use it to drive the creature away.

"Are you mad!" Loki exclaimed as he continued to move, his body streaming sweat. Muspelheim was much, much hotter than anything he was used to. "If it throws you off you could land in a stream of liquid fire!"

Thor's only response was to laugh uproariously and ignore his younger brother's warnings completely. Loki found himself gasping for breath as he continued to evade the creature's lashing tail, claws, and head. He was starting to panic. Thor was having too much fun to end it quickly, and his spell was taking much longer than it normally would. One by one his copies flickered and disappeared, his waning strength giving out on them. Moments later, he was down to one, and the salamander seemed to have figured out which one of him it wanted. With bone crushing force, the creature flung its tail into his chest, flying him backwards so far that he felt the back of his neck sear with heat, his hair nearly catching fire from the close proximity to the stream of lava near where he landed. Adrenaline surging again, Loki leapt to his feet and gathered all that was in him to push towards the creature, a frosty chill enveloping its features. Thor sensed Loki's magic on its way and leapt free just in time, rolling away as the salamander hissed and spewed smoke and water vapor as it froze from the inside out.

Loki slumped, his chest heaving as he gathered his breath back and got shakily to his feet. Thor, not even winded, approached him angrily.

"I had him, why did you have to cut it so short? I was in no danger, and you were holding well." Thor demanded.

Loki glared at his brother, hand pressed to his chest where it still throbbed from the creature's tail. "If you hadn't been so bone headed, we would never have had to fight it in the first place!"

"It's not my fault that it was right by the bifrost, do you think I summoned it on purpose? You're the only one who can do that, brother. Blame yourself." Thor answered back, towering over Loki. "That's all you can do, is conjure and run. Why did you even come if you didn't want to fight? You are panting like a child, are you so weak that you cannot take one fight any longer?" Thor sneered, his annoyance with Loki for ending the fight so soon turning biting.

As Loki's anger flared however, he realized that Thor was right. He was still gasping for breath, and instead of recovering from the fight, he seemed to be weakening. His vision was dimming and suddenly he felt like he was so hot he could hardly remain conscious.

"What, nothing to say? You've always had the constitution of a maiden, Loki. I shouldn't have brought you." Thor snapped, turning away from his brother and heading out further into the landscape.

Loki was so weak he didn't even register what Thor had said to him. In a daze, he tried to follow Thor, or even go in some semblance of a direction, but his legs gave out and he hit the ground with a thump, his breath coming out in clogged breaths. Strangely, he noticed that his breath was fogging in the air...

Thor turned around when he heard the soft thump behind him, and his anger evaporated in an instant. Sprinting back to his brother, Thor fell to his knees and began examining Loki's body, searching for an injury. "Loki! Brother, what happened, are you injured?" He asked urgently, even as his brother's eyes fluttered weakly and he shuddered. His whole body seemed to be in turmoil, and his breath came out in foggy clouds that clung like frost to Thor's beard before sizzling away in the hot atmosphere. Loki's skin felt dry and hot. His sweat had evaporated and he'd stopped producing more. Thor could feel panic rising inside him. There was no blood, so he had no idea what was wrong or what he could do about it. The back of his neck prickled with fear as he scooped his brother into his arms, praying that he could keep Loki away from the Valkyrie. Loki's breath was dangerously shallow, and his body convulsed weakly in Thor's arms, the Asgardian's pulse fluttering too fast at the base of his flushed throat.

Heimdal sensed Thor and Loki's approach long before they appeared through the bifrost. The moment that he had seen Loki weakening, Heimdal sent word to Odin and then waited to open the bifrost, anxious to get the two princes back home. Though Thor could tell that Loki was gravely ill, Heimdal could see much clearer just how sick the young prince had become. The clatter of Sleipnir's hooves raced to the bifrost chamber just moments after Thor came through, carrying his unconscious brother, and looking more frightened than he had since he'd been a child.

"Father, I don't know what happened, he just fell- he's not wounded, I didn't mean-" Thor said haltingly, his chest tight and restricting speech.

"It's all right Thor, he's going to be alright." Odin said, dismounting from Sleipnir and coaxing the younger prince away from his older brother. "You must let me have him Thor." Odin said gently, worried at how still Loki looked and how shell shocked Thor was behaving. "We will get him to the healers, go ahead of us and tell them what has transpired."

Thor nodded numbly in response, just barely able to let Loki go. Odin stood solemnly and re-mounted Sleipnir, taking off with his unconscious son in his arms. Thor shot up into the air and flew back towards the healing room.

Thanks to Heimdal and Thor, the healers already knew the situation and were preparing to care for Loki, no matter his illness. Even with the preparations however, no one was prepared to see what presented them as Odin came through the infirmary doors. Loki always looked frail compared to many on Asgard, but held limp in Odin's arms as he was, flushed with an unnatural amount of color, he looked as if a touch too harsh would shatter him. His body had the appearance as though he'd been badly burned, strange patches of flushed skin mottled in with glistening patches of what looked like red ice that kept trying to form and then melted, causing bloody water to ooze down Loki's skin and onto the floor. Odin didn't have to speak a word. The healers cleared a path and immediately surrounded Loki, working to remove his armor once he was on the bed. Soon, they had him stripped down completely, save for the cloth that served to preserve his modesty.

Odin stood by, Thor with him, allowing the healers to do what they could. His presence, however, stood as a silent statement; if Odin put aside his other duties to stay near his son, it was no mistake that Loki was near death. The healers could sense Odin's presence as they moved, his determination challenging the Valkyries to try and take Loki away from him. There was no doubt that Odin wouldn't let that happen as long as he could help it.

"Is there not anything I can do for Loki?" Thor asked, breaking the silence with his panic.

"The healers have him under their hands. There is no more for you but to wait." Odin said calmly, though his stance showed clearly how he felt to any who knew him.

"But what happened to affect him so?" Thor asked, distraught. "We were merely exploring Muspelheim when we fought with a great salamander. It hit him in the chest, but he seemed uninjured-"

Odin nodded quietly, waiting for the verdict from the healers. "It was not your fault Thor. Though you should not be so foolish as to leave your hammer behind for the sake of sport when you are in a new place. There are many things about Muspelheim that you do not know. You would be wise to leave your wrestling and sparring for the training arena."

Odin's words were soft, but the reprimand still stung. Thor could think of no reason for Loki to be as sick as he was unless it was his fault. "I should have noticed." Thor protested. "I was too busy ridiculing him to realize that there was a reason for his weakness. I should have helped him!"

"You've done what you can. Go speak with your mother, and be gentle with her. She doesn't yet know what has transpired."

Thor nodded quietly, unable to speak. Silently, he worked his way over to his comatose brother. Loki looked so much worse. And it had only been moments since the incident had happened. Or at least, that was how it felt. Knowing he neede dto leave, Thor took one last glance at Loki, slipping the other man's hand into his own. "Forgive me brother. Please, fight. Fight for all you have." His scarlet cloak swished quietly as he left.

After a half hour of work, the chief healer stepped aside, approaching Odin with a look of severe worry on his face. "Prince Loki is suffering from far too much heat in his core. The problem is, I do not know how to treat it. Normally for heat sickness, I would cool his body with water and ice and liquids, but his body seems to be sweating blood and freezing it. This is nothing like anything I have ever encountered before. My only course of thought is to guess that something else happened that Prince Thor did not realize. This can only be the result of some kind of sorcery or poison or sickness- no Asgardian has ever reacted thusly. I fear that if I try to cool him down in the usual ways, the stress will cause his heart to still."

Odin nodded. "Watch over him. Do all in your power to cool him down and ensure he does not lose any more blood. I will return shortly."

The head healer nodded solemnly, bowing to Odin's command. His face told Odin all- he had no idea how to heal Loki.

But the All-father did.

"Are you certain it is best to go back there? You know how Laufey will behave if you seek audience."

"I know Frigga, but what else am I to do? I cannot tell the healers that Loki is part Frost Giant, and without help from the Frost Giant healers, he will die. The only course is to take him to Jotunheim and beg audience with Laufey. Somewhere in his heart he may chose to help us. Loki is, by birth, his son."

Frigga gripped her husband's arm "A son he left to die in the cold." She cupped Odin's face, looking at him with grief and concern. "We are the only family Loki has ever had. We are the only ones who cares if the Valkyrie claim him. Laufey was glad to be rid of him."

Odin looked back on his wife for a long time before he spoke. For the first time since the death of his father, his voice cracked as he spoke. "I have no other choice."

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