To be honest, I don't really know where this came from. I shouldn't even be writing this; I'm not even finished with the others.
The sound of boots striking the marble floor echoed off the walls like church bells. Odin looked up at the sound and saw his eldest son skid to a halt.
"You already know," Thor said accusingly as he stared at his father who sat heavily on his throne. "Loki is missing from his cell and yet you do nothing."
"There are things that even I cannot help," Odin replied wearily. He was slumped on his throne like the weight of his authority was too much to bear.
"Tell me where he is so that I may retrieve him."
The AllFather shook his head. "It is not so simple as that."
Thor took a step forward, clenching Mjolnir tightly in his hand. "Tell me," He demanded in a growl. "By Asgard's gates, Father, you could pretend he matters."
Odin was on his feet then, face twisted in a mask of rage. "Insolent boy," He thundered. "Your brother means as much to me as you do."
"Then help me find him."
Odin sat back down with a heavy sigh and held his head in his hands. "Leave now. Be thankful you have no children to hurt your heart."
Thor hefted his hammer, drawing comfort in its familiar weight. He cast one disappointed glare at his father before he left.
"No, I will not help." Sif said hotly.
Thor looked around to the rest of his friends who turned away under his stare. "I have never before been ashamed to call you all friends. Loki has fought beside us all in many battles, saved us on occasion."
"With his tricks," Fandral muttered. "What makes you so sure that he hasn't merely escaped?"
"My father speaks of some unknown danger," Thor replied. "He will not tell me anything more."
"All the more reason not to get involved." Sif crossed her arms over her chest. "Let him suffer the consequences of whatever mess he has gotten into now."
The blonde's face bore a scowl of disappointment and contempt. "If I had not said it before then I say it now: I am ashamed to call you friends."
With a low growl of rage, Thor brought Mjolnir down on one of his bed posts. Shards of wood flew across the massive room and skidded to a halt on the marble floor. Then he saw it glinting in the light that filtered through his window, the small charm in the shape of a wolf's head. It was attached to thin cord to fashion a necklace. Loki had given it to him when they were children, but he had outgrown it and left it beside his bed to remember the day when the glory of battle was all that was important. Thor held the charm tightly in his fist and lowered himself onto the floor, leaning against the bed for support.
"You once said there was magic in this," The god whispered, squeezing his eyes shut as he drew his knees to his chest. "Please, Loki, let that be but the one truth you've ever spoken and let me find you." He sent out a wordless prayer to everyone and no one, willing with everything he had for his brother's safe return.
In the middle of his silent plea for help, Thor felt exhaustion suddenly envelop him before the silence was pierced by a wailing scream, muffled only slightly by the thick oak doors. The god leapt to his feet just as Mjolnir flew to his hand, and he ran through the hall to where the cries were originating from.
He stopped in front of the throne room where a crowd had quickly begun to gather. As he pushed his way through, he heard Loki's name circle the crowd in a whisper.
"You, prepare the Healing Chamber," Odin's voice commanded, ringing off the gilded walls and high ceiling. "Wrap him in a blanket. Stand aside, I will take him myself."
"Father," Thor shouted to be heard over the screams, "what—"
At the bottom of the stairs leading up to the throne was a rail-thin Loki, writhing and thrashing on the unyielding floor. He was completely naked and every inch of him was covered in dried blood. As he went to the younger god, he was pushed out of the way by guards coming to wrap the fallen prince in a thick blanket. Odin ignored his eldest son and his questions, picking Loki up in his arms to carry him to the Healing Chamber.
"Father, what is happening?" Thor asked as Odin laid Loki down on the floor beside the healing bath.
The AllFather ignored him again, peeling back the blanket as Loki alternated between crying out and strangled moans. He looked up only when Heimdall entered, dragging a massive container filled with snow behind him. He dumped the contents into the normally steaming bath and they watched as a thin layer of ice immediately covered the water and crept up the edges.
"Father," Thor said sharply, "what can I do?"
Odin looked up as if really noticing him for the first time. "Remove your armor."
With a confused expression, Thor quickly did as he was told. Heimdall left as quietly as he came.
"Now, get in. You must hold him under until I say otherwise, but be careful you do not touch his bare skin above the water."
The blonde got into the water, breaking the thin film of ice, and immediately felt his body go numb. He lifted his brother, careful to use the blanket, and held him in the bath which came to his hips.
Loki was still screaming but neither Odin nor Thor could make him stop to even hold his breath. The screams were swallowed by the freezing water, rising up in large air bubbles for only a moment before they rose infrequently, the time between each growing longer with every passing second.
"Father," Thor said, his voice heavy with worry as the minutes ticked by, He could feel and see his brother writhing in his arms as he held him under.
"Wait." Odin watched the water intently.
Loki began to still and panic bloomed in the older brother's chest. He cried out to his father once again with more urgency.
The water around them began to bubble suddenly and filled the air with a hiss and sharp cracks. When all went still, Odin gave the hurried order for Thor to pull Loki up. Even though their father's voice held that same controlled calm, there was a hint of desperation and his eye gazed at his youngest son sadly.
When Loki came up, his mouth hung open, trying to determine whether to scream or gasp for air. He scrabbled for purchase on Thor's tunic with frenzied desperation and wretched violently. The blood seemed to slide from his body in one solid mass and sink to the bottom like a living thing. The younger god's eyes locked with Thor's for hardly a second, his eyes bloodshot and wild. He didn't really see any of them. Pained grunts escaped through clenched teeth but he was otherwise still, attempting to curl in as tight a ball as possible.
"He is still hurt, yet I see no injuries anywhere," Thor said as he handed his brother to Odin before pulling himself out. He took Loki from his father to hold him close just as the older god rose to his feet.
"You must leave immediately," Odin ordered. "I will send you back to Earth, and you will stay there until it is safe here."
"No, Father, how will they help Loki? Their medicines only go so far and he is still…a god."
"Find a way. I will strip you of your powers. Hopefully, it will be enough to disguise you. Should you have need of assistance, call and Heimdall will come." Odin laid a hand on both his sons.
Before Thor could protest again, a great blackness overwhelmed him and Loki. It seemed as though the floor fell from beneath him and they were falling quickly through an abyss. Thor clutched his brother close to his chest, pressed their foreheads together and closed his eyes.
"Holy crap," Steve cried as Tony yelled, "Holy shit."
There was a static tinge in the air accompanied by what could only be described as the smell of decay. The next second, Thor appeared before them with Loki in his arms, strangely reminiscent of the statue of Mary and Jesus. Except Loki was no savior.
The god looked up at the Avengers helplessly. "Please, friends, hel—"
Loki rolled out of his arms in that moment and doubled over on his knees as he made a horrific sound somewhere between gasping and choking. Loki clenched his fists so tightly his knuckles paled. He pressed his forehead on the floor, spit and tears mingling. Tony rushed to him to press his fingertips to the carotid artery, but before he could touch him, Loki sat bolt upright and an animalistic grunt started deep in the back of his throat. His fingernails raked against his throat so hard welts appeared and droplets of blood dotted the paled skin. Thor held his brother's hands fast to prevent him from doing any more damage. The brunet struggled like an animal caught in a trap. Suddenly, Loki vomited a thick rise of bile and blood that spread slowly on the polished floor.
"We have to get him to the Med Lab. Now." Tony whispered a curse that was quickly followed by a short silent prayer to a god he did not believe in.
"Wait," Thor ordered. He had realized that the charm he had held on to earlier was wrapped around his wrist. He snapped the thin cord and pressed it into Loki's palm, hoping that it was the reason he was brought back, and that just maybe, there was some magic left in it.
But Loki didn't heard Thor tell him to use it to heal himself. He didn't even feel the charm being pressed so tightly into his palm it left an impression. Loki did feel an all encompassing pain, like that of every bone shattering, every muscle torn and every cell burning with the heat of the sun. There was a deeper pain in his stomach that brought a mild sting in the back of his throat and in his lungs where he prayed every breath could be his last. But he was choking now, on bile and blood and spit. He could feel that there was no magic to keep him alive and he was so completely grateful that he could feel that glimmer of hope.
Without the faintest concept of setting, Loki could feel himself being dragged up, his bottom pressed against something firm as he was forced to bend double. Something hard, rough…fingers invaded his mouth against the bodily fluids that seemed stuck in his esophagus. Two callous pads pressed against his tongue, working their way to the back of his throat until he vomited again. Harder. So much harder, his spine hurt in a way it hadn't before. Loki felt as if his insides were collapsing in on themselves. It was suffocating.
"What that hell are you doing?" Steve watched with a slightly horrified expression as his friend stuck his fingers down the god's throat.
"What's the matter, Cap?" Tony replied absentmindedly, an arm wrapped firmly around the god's torso to steady him. "Never been to a frat party?" When Loki wretched harder, the billionaire removed his fingers and shook his hand, bile and blood splattering on the floor with a sickening smack. Tony shifted his grip to hook his arms under Loki's arms and dragged him with long ungainly strides to the elevator where the doors opened as soon as he drew close.
Loki's head lolled back on Tony's chest and he only saw searing bright lights. There was no other option in his mind that Thanos was still torturing him. Had it really only been two days? Two rotation of their planet and marked by the fading of light to dark. It felt like years.
"Banner," Tony cried into the speakers of the elevator.
There was a split second of silence then Bruce's voice floated in asking, "Why are you yelling?" And they could all see him in their mind's eye pausing from his files on biometrics to look up at the ceiling with a puzzled expression.
"I need you, Doc," Tony replied. His voice shook slightly and he adjusted the much taller man in his arms, shaking his head when Steve offered to take him. "Med wing. Immediately."
"Is…I'm on my way."
Thor had moved aside to let Tony take the reigns but, as they waited for the elevator to descend the tower, he placed a hand the side of his brother's face. His pained expression only deepened when Loki flinched violently, his breath stuttering after the violent bout of vomiting.
"Brother, can you hear me?" Thor pressed them charm into Loki's hand once again, this time keeping it closed with his own. "If there is any magic left in this then please heal yourself."
Loki's lips did move and he whispered in a language that neither Tony nor Steve understood. But Thor did and he fell to his knee with tears clinging to his lashes when he heard it, still holding on to his brother's hand. Tony kneeled as well, side by side with the god in the small space.
"Thor," Tony asked quietly. "What did he say?"
"He thinks he is dying. He begs for it." Thor clenched his teeth. "Had I the knowledge and the power to cast magic myself…"
Tony opened his mouth ask a question but the doors opened he was rushing to the med station, barely keeping up with Rogers' and Thor's long strides.
"Whoa whoa whoa." Banner cried as Tony deposited Loki on a bed. "What the hell is going on?"
"I need a full work up. Everything. MRI, CTs. I need blood, Doc."
"I'm feeling a bit like Frankenstein." Banner studied the injured god out the corner of his eye even as he got everything prepared. "What happened?"
Thor felt all eyes go to him and he shook his head only once. "I do not know. He went missing from his prison and returned only after I found his amulet."
"This thing?" Steve held up the necklace. "You guys dropped it in the elevator. It's been kind of…humming?"
"You can feel its magic?" Thor stared at Steve so intensely, the Avenger took a step back.
"I don't know about any magic. It's just buzzing…like one of those cell phones."
Thor dragged him by the scruff of his hoodie, amid sounds of protest, closer to Loki. "You must try."
"He could be dead in a minute," Tony whispered. "Do something. Anything."
Steve looked warily at the god who had tried to rule the world, who devastated New York. But then he looked at Banner who, leaning over the bedside, gave a single nod that was both understanding and a gesture of the positive.
Steve nodded and gripped the amulet tightly with one hand, the other hesitantly touched Loki's shoulder.
"I don't…" Steve faltered, a sudden fear gripping him as he watched the god writhe beneath his hand, his breath slowing and blood dribbling from between his lips. "I don't know what to do."
"Shout Alacazam for all it matters." Tony growled as he took Loki's pulse and found it slow and erratic.
Captain shook his head. "That's not right. I can't…he needs to have it." The necklace was pressed once again into Loki's hand and this time he held on so tightly they could hear his knuckles crack.
Tony grabbed Loki head and shook him slightly. "Open your eyes, damn it." He ordered in a vicious snarl. "Loki, look at me."
Loki could hear a voice emanating from the red backdrop of his mind and a pressure on his head that made him flinch. He could not move his hands to fight and his body was like lead sinking into the long awaited peace of death.
"You are not dying. Not here." Tony took hold of the hand that held the amulet and gripped hard. "I know you can feel it, Reindeer Games."
Loki felt a pulsing sensation rising out of the pain. He focused on it, willing himself to locate it. But in the final instant, he gave up so completely. Loki surrendered himself to the end, aware that there was no Valhalla for him, no Elysium fields or pearly gates. It was ok though because there had to be an end to this, this pain that went beyond pain, this thing that was crawling inside his mind and tainting every thought. He hadn't believed before when Thanos promised him torture if he should fail. He was too proud and thought himself strong enough for anything. That this misery would end was simply beautiful.
"He's not breathing," Banner whispered.