A/N: You can ask Gabrielle Day... I'm not the most patient of people. One of the things I'm really not patient about is crappy systems that like to eat the work I've put into them. Yes ff dot net, I mean you. My apologies to those that had an alert of the update and were disappointed. This is what you were SUPPOSED to see.


Part Two

"Loki!" The name left his lips as a plea the second time, and not the command of the first.

A third time brought the sound he hoped for as Loki gasped for breath. Thor rolled him on his side as he choked up water and rubbed his back. His panic lessened and he murmured quietly, words or merely sounds he did not know. Loki drew breath once more. Loki would live. That was all that mattered now.

Loki gave a shuddering sound as he gasped. Green eyes fluttered open and he felt his brother's large hand on his thin shoulder. He reached up, shaking still, and grasped a hold of it. His mind raced and tried to remember the last thing that had happened and, eventually, what had brought him to the place he was lying in now. His chest hurt, he was soaked to to bone, and he was cold. Well, chilled, being that he rarely was ever truly cold.

He had been looking for an escape. He swam down and had found it too dark to be able to see the rocks and then they had shifted. Slowly he reached a hand to the back of his head, feeling a bump. He gave a low groan. "Well," he rasped, sitting up very slowly, "that's not our way out."

Thor's fingers found the bump next, gently probing and Loki hissed but did not pull away. The blond god frowned. It was a sizeable lump and the hit would most certainly leave him with a headache soon, if not already. Loki with a headache was never a promising way to spend an afternoon, especially not trapped in a cave. Thor had absently begun stroking the dark locks, instinctively avoiding the injury.

"You could have been killed." He grumbled. I should have gone. This would not have happened to him if I had. Thor sighed. His gaze drifted to the back of the cave and the opening that now awaited. "We shall have to try the back of the cave."

Loki leaned into Thor's hand against his head and scoffed at the suggestion. "Have you gone mad?" his voice was still raspy. "We know not where that goes, if anywhere. We could be trapped forever. Or it could shift again and bury us."

Thor shrugged. "We have no choice."

Loki fell silent, mainly because he know there was no point in arguing. Thor was right, damn him. The way they came was blocked from this side of the cave, possibly for good. They had not the equipment or light to dig out underwater. That left only the back of the cave and whatever had rumbled beneath them. Loki closed his eyes, the dull throbbing in the back of his head starting to spread. He sighed.

"We should go," Thor said softly, shifting to that he could stand. He winced, hand going to one of the deeper wounds that he had almost forgotten about.

The trickster did not miss the movement and with a softly spoken word the orb of light reappeared in his hand, lifting up so that the brothers could see each other. They looked a pair, with blood soaking Thor's tunic from freshly reopened wounds as well as some that were already beginning to dry again. They were both soaked through, hair plastered down against unnatural pallor that seemed to mirror one another.

Loki bit his lip bottom lip, eyes shifting from his brother to the terrible looking opening. "Fine," he murmured softly, feeling as if he were sealing their doom in his agreement.

Thor gave a small smile and they started for the opening. The walls were leaning inward in a precarious fashion, looking very much as if they spoke one wrong word around it they would be buried. The blond did not miss his younger sibling's uneasy glance at the boulders as they shuffled their way through. "I'll protect you, little brother," he said lightly, giving a very light shove.

As Thor took lead, winding down into the darkness below, Loki muttered under his breath, "If you do not kill me first."

If Thor heard him he chose to ignore the comment, and knowing Thor as he did, he knew his brother ignored nothing. He let his shoulders relax. He needed to remain focused on keeping the path as lit as possible, keep the dark thoughts of strangling his brother for getting them into this mess away for now. He could kill Thor when they lived through this labrynth of rock and slime and darkness.

"The next time I ask you if we cannot merely stay in the library for the afternoon, you'll smile and nod and say 'That sounds like a wonderful idea, oh most sensible brother of mine, the wise and benevolent Loki,'" Loki informed Thor's back.

Thor laughed deeply. "As you say, most wise and benevolent one."

"Quite right." Loki grumbled.

After what felt like an eternity, they hit a plateau that opened into a wide room. The floor was like polished glass, and sharp, dark stalagmites hung from the ceiling. "This must be what Aegir's living room looks like." Loki murmured.

"Only his are more likely to fall and spear you in place." Thor agreed, mimicking the posture of a harpooned body.

Loki could not stop himself from smiling a little.

Thor grinned, mood elevated by the positive reaction. After a few more moments of dramatic motions Loki rolled his eyes and swatted at him. "Enough," he grumbled good-naturedly.

"That should be our next grand adventure."

Loki walked past his brother, eyes shifting to look at him as he did so. "Being harpooned into the floor in Aegir's living chambers?"

"Well... getting in, not the harpooned part, naturally."

"I'd venture to say that one wouldn't come without the other." The dark haired god sighed and levitated the light towards the high-vaulted ceiling. The higher it went, the easier it was to see the hanging pieces of rock. They too looked to be made of glass, though much darker. They refracted the light as it cast shapes against the walls, capturing both brothers' interests for a few whole moments.

"What's this?" Thor called out, eyes following the light to something that the smaller prince could not see.

"What's what?" Loki sighed, deciding it was pointless to try to stop the blond as he darted across the room. It was only when he began looking for small niches to fit his hands into and climb upward that fear began to creep back in. "Thor... You're going to hurt yourself. Again."

"I saw something!"

"That's nice. Please come back down. I can't carry you out of here, you know."

"If I fall from here there will be no need to carry me out." Thor said.
Loki blanched, the thought of Thor falling to the ground making him queasy. "As you wish. I will tell everyone at home you slipped on some dew covered daisys and were stabbed by a passing porcupine."

Thor actually paused. "You would not dare."

Loki looked at him evenly, one eyebrow raised. "No one would find your body to disprove my claims. And I would be so distraught that no one would have the audacity to question me anyway."

Thor started his ascent again. "Sometimes you are downright unnerving, little brother."

Loki watched him climb, his stomach and heart sinking with each foot his brother gained. "Never unnerving enough, it would seem." he said.

Thor reached his destination, hanging precariously by one hand as he reached for the crevice he wanted. Loki wanted to look away or run back up the hall with his fingers in his ears so he would not have to hear the sound of Thor hitting the glassy cave bottom in his magpie pursuit. He could not. It would not be behaviour befitting a prince, for starters, and should Thor actually live through his stupid stunt, he would never let Loki live it down for running away.

"I think I've got it!" Thor cried.

He pulled his hand out with something grasped tightly in it and scuttled back down to solid ground. His blue eyes were wide as he stared at it and Loki couldn't push back the curiousity. He joined Thor in his gazing to find a deep crimson coloured jewel in his hand. It was like none that either had ever seen before, glittering in the dim light as if the whole sun were packed into it. They stood and marveled for a moment before Thor snapped his fingers shut around it. "Well, I've got something to take to Mother."

"I should just like to get out of this all alive."

"Don't be like that. I think it's all gone rather well so far."

"Yes, with the exception of you getting buried under a pile of rocks that tried to rip you to shreds and me nearly drowning... This has been a lovely jaunt. Let's not do it again."

Thor rolled his eyes and tsked. "We've had worse."

"Name a time."

Thor blinked, mind obviously working to pull something. "Plenty of times," he said at last. "Too many to count."

"Then just name one."

"Too many to choose from."

"Uhhuh. I see." Loki started forward again, tired of waiting. No jewel, no matter how pretty, was worth tarrying any longer.

"There're bound to be more, Loki. Don't be sour over it."

"I'm not sour over it," his brother snapped. "I'm sour over my head throbbing. I'm sour over you ignoring the fact that you could have been killed back there and you won't even acknowledge it!"

"What would you have me do? There's no use it worrying over it now, and there's no stopping us from taking a little something to remember this adventure by."

"I think i shall remember it well enough."

"Maybe the gods will smile upon me and the knock on your skull will make you remember to be nicer." Thor said, turning his back to his brother to consider the wall again. Behind him, Loki fumed.

"Nicer?" Loki hissed. "Maybe the gods will smile upon me and let the next knock on my head be my last! It would be better than being dragged hither thither and yon as part of your ridiculous escapades that get us bruised, beaten, chased out of villages, and in trouble with the All Father."

"Maybe the gods will let the next knock be the last. It would spare me be nagged at by this harpie of a woman I keep trying to have adventures with as I keep mistaking her for my brother, a son of Asgard!" Thor snapped. "And we were only chased out of a village once!"

Loki nearly saw red. He picked up a rock and flung it at Thor, who was halfway back up the cave wall. It missed wildly, shattering to the left of Thor's head.

"And you throw like a maiden!" the blond shouted.

"You can just stay up there because if you do not fall and come back down I will finish you myself." Loki growled.

"Oh? With your pebble throwing of doom?" Thor taunted.

Below them, a rumble stirred.

Loki's eyes shifted downward where small pebbles began to dance this way and that, moving with every jolt the ground gave. He watched them with morbid fascination, as if that were all that would be moving. He could feel the tremors growing stronger and he looked up to where his brother continued to climb even higher. "Thor!"

"Oh enough," the blond called back down. He might have noticed the shifting rocks but he paid them little mind as he grabbed up and over a ledge, pulling himself upward. "Loki ! You should see all of this!"

The younger brother gave an irritated huff as he scrambled after the elder, knowing that they would never leave until he did so. Thor was marveling at the gems that made the one he had found earlier look like a child's play thing. They glittered brightly as Loki's orb of light followed, shining so brightly that the trickster had to shield his eyes.

"I told you there had to be a dragon in here," Thor said triumphantly.

"Just because there is a treasure does not automatically mean there is a dragon. It could be thieves or any sort like that."

"So, thieves keep that?"

Green eyes followed to where Thor was pointing, coming to rest on a large egg nestled into the corner. He felt the breath leave his body before he forced it down his throat and into his lungs once more. He had to remain in control. "There are still possibilities," he argued. "There is no dragon this close to ho-"

The trembling of the earth increased, but this time the sound came with it. Both brothers looked down and towards the entrance of the room. She was massive, with her golden scales and horns. Her wings spread out as she gave a loud bellow that shook the ground so hard that both princes found themselves seated very suddenly and staring in awe.

"You were saying?" Thor managed.

"Well damn."


TBC

A/N: Well, initially we did not plan on having them face a dragon, but Thor wanted it so badly that who were we to deny a prince of Asgard? XD