Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, worlds, things, etc. Too bad, that would be fun. :) But alas, 'tis not meant to be. :'(

The world was reduced to nothing but a blur of color and motion, shouts and whispers, gentle touches and rough shakes. Although sometimes, it would be quiet and dark. Those were the times Loki held on to. They were the only times he could think, the only times he was not aware of the sharp pain consuming his body.

He had no idea how much time had passed. But he figured it was better that way. Loki did not really want to know how long he stayed this way; he knew it was too long. He should have been worried; but he was not. That was just how things were here. He felt nothing. He just floated on in endless silent darkness.

Loki felt himself being called back to that awful state of partial awareness. He did not want to go back. He wanted to stay here where it was peaceful. Lately, it seemed he had been allowed to rest here longer than usual. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew this was not a good thing.

But this time was different. He could say no if he chose to. Before, Loki had always been forced back into that painful state of semi-consciousness. Now, he could resist it; he could choose to stay here where it was quiet if that was what he wanted. However, that little thought in the back of his mind stirred and forced him to acknowledge it. It told him that if he was to make that choice now, he may never be able to take it back later. He would stay in this empty state, forever.

To stay here would be to surrender all that was left to him now, his mind.

To stay here would be to give up on himself.

To stay here would be to die.

Loki opened his eyes.

The world was strangely in focus now. It was no longer just a massive blur of too vivid colors and blinding lights. It hurt his eyes as he tried to look around.

He was in his room, lying in his bed. He was not alone, but there were not nearly as many people as there had seemed to be the last time he had been awake. While of course, he had been so disoriented and dizzy that he had no sense of what had actually been going on around him, Loki still thought he had heard more than a single voice. But there was only one person here with him now, and he was silent. The visitor stared at Loki with worried eyes, waiting anxiously to see what would happen next.

Thor had been present when Loki awoke many times in the past couple of weeks. Each time, he and everyone else would hope against hope that the boy would stay conscious this time. But he never did. In the short times he was awake, he was unresponsive, and they were almost certain Loki was unable to comprehend anything they did or said to him. Everyone had expected him to stay asleep this time; they no longer waited for him to wake up again. They had already done all they could to help him, but he had been in pretty bad shape. If he pulled through or not was solely up to him now. Once he stopped waking up regularly, they started giving up hope on him though. Now all of them left him in peace, thinking it was only a matter of time until Loki left them completely. All of them except Thor that is. Thor stayed by his damaged little brother's side at all times. As long as Loki kept breathing, Thor wouldn't give up on him.

Thor watched with great interest as Loki's eyes opened now. It had been two days since the last time Loki had been awake, and that had only been for a few agonizing minutes before he faded out once again. Thor watched as Loki's eyes closed again only seconds later. He sighed and hung his head; he refused to give up on his brother, but he was certainly having his doubts. But Thor looked back up a few minutes later, and he was shocked to see that Loki was watching him now. The boy's eyes were half closed, but Thor could see enough of them to be able to tell that they were much clearer than they had been before. Loki's eyes had been glazed over during those increasingly rare occasions when they had been open; seeing without truly seeing. From the way Loki was staring at Thor now, he couldn't help but wonder if his brother was maybe really looking at him.

But then Loki closed his eyes, and after a few minutes passed, he had still not opened them again. Thor assumed he had lost consciousness again. However, the clear look in Loki's eyes had been enough to restore some of Thor's dwindling hope.

"It is too bright here."

Thor thought he was imagining things for a moment. He must be. It was miracle enough for Loki to open his eyes these days, let alone his mouth. Loki hadn't spoken since they had returned to Asgard. To expect him to be speaking now was beyond even Thor's foolish optimism.

"Think you may be able to change that?"

Thor was shocked...It had been Loki! He was actually awake, and talking! Stunned into silence, Thor simply jumped up from where he sat and rushed to do as Loki had asked. He drew the coverings over the window so that the only light left in the room came from the candles he had forgotten to put out this morning.

As soon as the painfully bright light was gone, Loki opened his eyes once again. That was much better. As Thor returned to his chair near the bed, Loki could not help but to laugh at the look of utter shock on Thor's face, even though he knew it was well justified. He was also slightly disturbed by how weak his own laughter sounded. He had allowed himself to slip even further than he had realized...His voice was weak, and his body was even weaker. Had he stayed in that dark place much longer would he have made it out at all? Only now was he finally hit with the fear of just how close he had been to death.

Loki shivered and closed his eyes, trying to compose himself. He focused on his breathing and tried to calm himself down. It helped, somewhat.

"Are you alright?"

After a few more deep breaths, Loki nodded and reopened his eyes to look at his brother. Thor smiled now, relieved.

"It's about time came around. You've given us quite a scare."


"The others...didn't expect you to wake up again."

Loki gave a slight nod in answer and looked away from Thor.

"I can go find someone else for you if you'd like? I could go find father?"

"No. Do not trouble him over me."

"Trouble? But wouldn't he be happy to see you're better?"


Thor sighed. Arguing this point with Loki was pointless. His little brother was convinced that Odin saw him as nothing more than an added burden and that he wasn't even liked nearly as much as Thor himself was. Well, it was true, even Thor had noticed all this, but he still didn't like hearing Loki say it. But now was not the time for pointless arguments, so Thor let the comment go for now.

Loki did not feel up to arguing either anyway. Thus, he redirected the conversation. "So...What have I missed?"

"We killed those frost giants!" Thor said, a smile beginning to creep across his face again. "You got one too!" Expecting Loki to share in his excitement over this, Thor paused. But when his brother failed to be interested, he went on. "Father was angry when we first got back. But when he saw you were hurt, it was like he just forgot. I don't think we'll even be in any trouble!"

Loki smiled a little, finding an odd sense of humor in this. Glad my nearly dying helped you avoid getting in trouble.

"Laufey brought frost giants into Asgard! He didn't seem too happy. He and father went away somewhere and talked for a long time. I tried to follow to listen, but a guard stopped me." A look similar to childish anger appeared on Thor's face at this part. "So, I don't know what it was they discussed, but there shall be no war. Laufey still looked really angry when we he left though, but nothing else exciting has happened since then."

"I would have thought you to have had your fill of excitement for a while?"

Thor smiled a little. "I'm content, for now."

"For now." Loki laughed. There would most definitely be no complaints coming from him if Thor did not want to go on any more 'adventures' for a while.

"But don't you worry. I'll have some new ideas in no time!" Thor already wore a bright smile just thinking of what new exciting adventures he could find now. Loki's only answer was to shake his head and keep laughing.

But as his laughter died down, Thor noticed there was something different about Loki. Something in his little brother's eyes had changed. They no longer held the same childish innocence they had only a few short weeks ago. After all that he had been through - journeying into Jotunheim, killing a frost giant, coming very close to death at the hands of a couple of Jotuns - Loki had in fact grown up a lot because of this adventure. In place of the innocent and ever-happy air that always hung about him before, there was something more serious and somewhat dark about him now.

Thor suddenly regretted dragging Loki to Jotunheim...Not only had he almost gotten his little brother killed, but he'd also forced him to grow up much more than had been intended. He had said the adventure would be good to help the boy grow up a little, but this was too much. The look in Loki's eyes was not something that should belong to someone of his age. The look in his eyes showed a darker side of him - a side that knew pain - a side that knew death - a side to fear...

Loki blinked his eyes, and just like that, that look which troubled Thor so much was gone. Replaced with a cheerful look that was close to that of his old self. It was close, but not the same. That new being Thor had just caught a glimpse of still lurked in him somewhere, but for now, Loki was back to the mischievous kid he'd always been.

Loki knew there was something different about himself now too. And he could tell from the look on Thor's face that he didn't like it. He wasn't so sure he liked it too well either. He figured it was best to push it down and try to ignore it for now. He was getting tired, and this was a problem for another time.

"Help me up. I would like to go outside for a short while before it gets dark. I think I have been inside more than my fair share lately." Loki said with a bright smile on his face. Thor returned the smile as he moved to help him up.

The two brothers headed outside towards the gardens where they had played when they were smaller. It was nice to be in such a familiar place after all the chaos they had been through recently. Here, they were safe. Able to cast their troubles aside for the time being, Loki and Thor talked and laughed as if nothing bad had happened and as if Loki had not been dying only a short time earlier. Loki was alive, and Thor had not lost his little brother. For now, the two brothers would simply enjoy this company they had come so close to losing forever.

Author's Notes: The end. :')

The end of my first story...both a happy and sad moment here... I really enjoyed writing it, and I hope you enjoyed reading it as well.

I'm wanting to start on another story soon, but I don't know what to write about yet. So, if anyone has any ideas or suggestions for something you would like to see written, feel free to let me know in a review or message or just whatever works for you.