Chapter 7:

Oh, how he wishes they could just simply kill him.

These pathetic, weak mortals. If simply had they the strength to end him, then mightn't he go with honor and glory to those hallowed halls of his fallen brethren? Mightn't he go to where she doubtless now rests, deserving above them all of her place amongst brave and unyielding warriors? Mightn't he find her there, and be with her again, so that in this one wrong among countless coating his hands red, he should find the release of forgiveness and to only tell her he is sorry?

Sorry, sorry… he is so unspeakably sorry and Mother… Mother… he wants to cry upon her shoulder that she is his Mother.

But no, he thinks, as he feels the lurching impact of heavy metal slugs crushing against his chest, feeling as they only deflect off him to ricochet another direction, leaving him with naught but likely ugly bruising, even were these humans able to fell him in the heat of battle, he would not find the gates of Valhalla to greet him. Only the cold, unforgiving ruins of Hel. For he is the monster, and they, in all their sorrowful frailty, are not.

Honor and glory are things never meant for monsters. Never meant for the likes of him.

But oh, how he wishes.

Perhaps were it the Avengers, but no, this is not their Kingdom. Here they hold no power. And so only have they sent this lands sad excuse for guardsmen to stop his swath of destruction. He wants to laugh at the absurdity of it. He hasn't yet stepped foot outside this concrete square with its empty, metal boxes, but these men are utterly terrified. He thinks soon they will turn and run away, until greater forces can be gathered to smite him.

Let them come then. It matters not.

Loki knows true, even were the team of misbegotten Midgardian hero's to come, they could not end him. They could do nothing, really, were he to desire their end.

It is only Thor then, only Thor who can now snuff out his misery. Or perhaps Heimdall, were he to come, or were he to send a company of soldiers from Asgard to neutralize him.

Perhaps, Loki wonders detachedly, Thor has already gone off to rescue Odin from the wastes of Svartalfhiem, and the All-Father himself will grant Loki the death he now so desperately seeks.

Odin, of them all, could kill Loki with surety and ease.

He doubts not the All-Father's wish to do so now, after he was so wholly deceived by the one he had once called son.

When Loki had drawn him to the world of the Dark Elves, and then left him, weakened and shielded from the eyes of the gatekeeper. For even Odin did not know the secret paths as Loki did, and unable to take his sleep, the mischief god had known, he would find himself without the strength to conjure enough dark magic to bring himself back to Asgard.

It would not have lasted, this too Loki understood. Eventually, even without the sleep, Odin would have recovered enough strength to free himself.

But it had been the best of his petty revenge Loki could manage. He had not the power to destroy Odin.

Loki knows, even had he, he would not have…

… He could not have…

Something hot and burning rips across his jaw, turning his head aside with the force of the impact, and Loki is drawn brutally back into the present, realizing he's just been shot in the face.

It barely hurts, but for the unpleasant heat and bruising depth of the blow.

Still, his temper rankles at being so directly assaulted, and he turns, finding with his eyes and pinning the man who had fired the shot. His eyes glow with the power of his siedr, his hands involuntarily curling to fists as they, too, are engulfed by the blinding glow of green and gold magic.

The man's eyes widen, suddenly aware of the god's attention on him, and he steps back, his grip on his weapon wavering as he seems to realize his own, impending demise.

"W-wait…" he sputters, voice trembling noticeably.

Loki takes a step nearer, and then he pauses, scenting it in the air long before he ever catches sight of his lightening or hears the boom of his thunder.

A moment later, and Thor comes falling out of the sky, landing with a shuddering impact between him and the terrified mortal, the pavement cracking under his feet.

"Loki." He says, his hammer hanging loosely from his fingers at his side, his eyes hot blue white, the surge of his power through him.

And Loki lets loose a laugh too like a sob. His own hands come up, held out and inviting, leaving himself a true and sure target. He leers at the older god, and he feels mad.

"Come you so quickly to end my misery?" He asks, and his voice is rough. "You do me a mercy Thor. Had I but died the first time I meant to. Please Thor. I want to die."

"Loki, stop this." Thor says back, and Loki knows he must be imagining the pained stripe through his brother's voice. Imagining the lined brow, and his crumpling expression.

"I want to die." Loki says again.

And now he turns from Thor, and he steps away. He makes it two steps, before at once, he collapses to his knees, and his hands come over his head, and he bends forward, his forehead to the ground.

"I want to die… I want to die… please…" he entreats in a wavering voice. "if only this one mercy you could grant to an undeserving beast as I am Thor. Do not let me continue as I am. Do not let me live."

"Loki, stop this, please." Thor pleads, and his voice is thick with anguish. "Please, brother. Do not speak so."

There is a hot sting against the backs of his eyes, and Loki blinks furiously against it, fingers burying in the thick locks of his dark hair.

"Brother?" He breathes out, and confusion floods his mind. His head shakes. "You seek to deceive me Thor." He says.

"Loki, no." Thor presses, stepping forward, cautiously. "No, I…"

"I thought you too simple minded, too pure hearted to harbor cruelty within you Thor." Loki cuts him off. "But the mortals are a corrupting force. I suppose it not beyond their power to nurture cruelty within you. When in you then instilled humility, and I could not. I could not, in a thousand years of trying."

"Loki, please, listen to reason." Again Thor entreats, stepping closer.

And like a wave, the rage comes over the younger god, feeling the encroachment of his once brother.

Abruptly, he turns, a roar tearing from his throat as his hands lash forward, a surge of magic erupting from his fingertips.

The blast crashes dead on into Thor's chest, blasting the thunderer back some fifty meters, his sailing body barely missing the human policeman behind.

And then Loki is on his feet, stalking towards Thor with long, fast strides, hands clenching and unclenching at his sides, pure magical energy crackling within his palms, waiting to explode. And that's all it takes to send the mortals running.

Within moments, the lot is clear but for the two gods.

Thor is struggling to his knees, head spinning with the impact of landing so hard. His chest burns with the heat of Loki's attack, his armor singed and broken apart in places.

Loki hasn't hit him with a blast of power so strong in longer than Thor can recall. Not of his own magic, and never before intentionally, as now.

And Thor's worry is at once deep.

"Lok…" he begins, and is cut abruptly short as he's forced to dodge another blast of magic, rolling back up to his knees. And now he knows Loki is far from jesting, and he scrambles to his feet as quickly as he's able.

"Why do you insist in continuing in this farce!?" Loki snaps, sharp, curving blades forming in his hands. He turns, coming back around and letting fly the one in his right. Again, Thor barely manages to dodge the projectile as it whizzes past his arm, taking a chunk of fabric with it.

Not a second later, Loki releases his other blade, and this one strikes true, burying half deep into Thor's thigh. The thunder god roars with pain, his hand automatically going to the knife and ripping it free, tossing it angrily to the ground.

When he looks back, Loki is still coming at him, his eyes wide and wild and desperate. They are thick with a wet sheen, and tears spill unrelentingly from them, down his pale face.

"Loki, I do not want to fight you!" Thor tries frantically to make his little brother hear him, stepping back as Loki advances.

"Why do you not kill me then!?" Loki barks in response, his voice pitching high. "Why does no one… no one let this end for me?!"

Another conjured knife, another near miss. Loki doesn't hesitate to follow up with another blast of magic, and Thor isn't quick enough to maneuver out of its way as it tosses him with ease onto his back, rolling him several turns.

He's reminded bitterly of why Loki was always so much more formidable a foe than others ever had the grace to give him credit for.

"You and Odin…" Loki is sneering, moving towards him still. "the two of you. You claim to love me, beseech my return and my loyalty to your Realm. You pursue after me when you think me out of your control, only it is when you have me that you cast me aside and rid yourselves of the reminder of my existence!"

At once, there is a wooden staff conjured in Loki's hands, and he is upon Thor now, swinging the bow around and nearly smashing the butt of it into the larger god's temple, Thor only just managing to dodge below the attack.

He realizes he's going to have to defend himself, or Loki is going to just keep on as he is. And so he counters the missed blow, bringing his fist up against his brother's now exposed ribs. It isn't a hard hit, but it's enough to throw Loki further off balance, a small grunt escaping the trickster as he stumbles to the side.

"Loki, stop this madness and let me speak!" Thor bellows desperately.

And Loki laughs, a tortured wreck of a sound, half mad and edging towards maniacal as he regains his footing and turns back to face the thunderer.

"Let you speak?" He asks, leering at Thor. "Oh, you mean as I was so graciously allowed upon my return to Asgard?" He throws out another energy blast, lazy and slow, and Thor dodges it easily. He realizes his mistake an instant later, when Loki brings his staff back around and cracks it hard against his face, knocking him off balance.

"Do you know Thor, what my trial consisted of?" Loki seethes, more tears slipping down his cheeks. "But of course not. What an inane question. Since, after all, you were no where present at the time."

Another blast of magic, and Thor takes hold now of Mjolnir, holding it up to absorb the energy.

"Well then, allow me to enlighten you to the specifics. I was brought up before the All-Father, chained like some wild beast, and made to listen as he disavowed himself of me entirely, as easily as if I had never mattered to him at all, before he proceeded to make clear to me that I should be dead! That I had no right to have lived as long as I had before banishing me from seeing the light of day for the next four thousand years! From seeing even my own… my own Mother! The greater mercy would have been to end me. Oh, but are those not the words of a loving, grieving father, Thor? He asked me not even how I had come to be as I was! No one asked me!"

His voice cracks and wavers with emotion before he jumps in on the thunder god suddenly, turning the staff again and jamming it upward to sink into Thor's abdomen, and now Thor is reminded of how brutally fast his brother is as he doubles over from the strength of the blow, the wind momentarily knocked out of him.

"Do you know… do you know what they… they did to me?" Loki says, and abruptly his attack ceases, the tension in his frame seeming to slack for an instant. "What they did…" he says again, voice quieting to almost a whisper.

He looks away, shaking his head, his hand coming up and wiping viciously against his eyes.

"No one asked me." He repeats brokenly. "No one cared. I was… was simply condemned. No one needed to know…"

The mischief god's eyes shift back to Thor then, glowing green hot with the power of his seidr, his teeth bared, face lined in agony.

"No one ever even… e-even acknowledged any wrong… any wrong had been done to me." He says, voice thick now with his tears, running in streams still down his face. "It was only me wh-who… who was to bear the weight of, of, of guilt. Of fault. No one ever even told me th… they were sorry for deceiving me, for letting me believe my own race a race of monster for a th-thousand years! A thousand years and more! Fo-for… for allowing my entire life to b-be… be nothing more than a lie! Oh, the god of lies indeed! Only I am not the deceiver, but the deceived."

With the sudden lull in his attack, Thor knew this was perhaps his only chance to speak to his brother, to perhaps make him hear, and so he took it, stepping forward, one hand upraised in a sign of peace.

"Loki, brother, please listen to me. I am listening to you. I hear your words. You are right. Do you understand me? I acknowledge your grievances as right."

But Loki only narrows his eyes at the older god suspiciously, and almost instantly, the despair upon his features turns back to rage, and in the next moment, he is again attacking.

Blow after blow he rains down on Thor, the offensive maneuvers in such quick succession, Thor is given no choice but to fall fully into defense, parrying and blocking and dodging what he can, and still too many blows find their mark, until Thor feels himself beginning to reel.

"How have you grown so cruel Thor!?" Loki spits through gritted teeth as he presses his advantage, never letting up for a moment. "Why will you not kill me!? Show me this one mercy, you fool! You utter fool! Do you not see I wish to die?! Do you not see it?! Why will no one give me relief from THIS LIFE!?"

"Loki, STOP!" Thor at last bellows when he feels one of his brother's blade's slash open a cut along his palm. He's had enough of this now. Loki has lost his mind, he at last realizes, and needs to be put down forcibly.

And so he does.

Ducking below another attack, he sweeps Mjolnir in an arc, aimed for Loki's knees, and in one motion, sweeps the smaller god's legs out from beneath him. Loki lands hard on his back, and Thor wastes no time, leaning down and placing his hammer upon the tricksters chest, leaving him immobile.

Loki snarls like some wild animal. Still gripping the wooden bow in his hands, he lashes upward with it, intent on raking the weapon across Thor's face, but Thor catches his wrist then, and squeezes hard, until Loki's fingers go numb and the staff is dropped.

Thor kicks it away, grasping Loki's other wrist and leaning down, pinning his little brother's arms to the ground, above his head.

"Stop." He says through gritted teeth, staring into Loki's face.

And Loki stares back, eyes wide and startled. Slowly, Thor sees the magic slip from his eyes, leaving only his shockingly green irises in its wake, and from those eyes slip more tears still, free and unceasing.

Loki breaths hard, his chest heaving beneath the weight of Mjolnir, and gradually, Thor feels the tension drain out of his body, until he is lying limp and defeated, and he turns his face away, eyes closing.

"Please," he begs in barely a whisper. "please, just kill me. I w-wish… I wish to die."

"Loki, no you don't." Thor presses.

"I do." Loki says. "I do. I do. I k-killed her. Don't you see? I killed Mother. I am a monster good only fo-for dying. Kill me."

"Loki, Mother's death was not your doing. Do you understand me?" Thor says in return, voice almost pleading. "You cannot blame yourself for that."

More tears slip past Loki's lids, and he shakes his head.

"I told… I told that monster where… where to go to bring down the palaces shields." He chokes out. "It was my fault Mother died. It was…"

"No, Loki," Thor presses again. "it was not your intent. You were angry at Odin and me. You let that anger and bitterness drive you towards a thoughtless decision. But it was not your intent that Mother be hurt. You must understand. Malakith and his forces were already upon us. They had already infiltrated our guard. Kurse had already infiltrated the walls of the palace. There was nothing you could have done then to stop him."

Again, Loki shakes his head, and he won't look at Thor.

"I am a monster." He cries.

And Thor's face crumples, his heart sinking deep.

"Oh brother, brother…" his own, great head shakes in despair, and he moves Mjolnir away as he gathers Loki up, holding him against his chest and rocking him gently, his own eyes thick suddenly with tears.

Loki gives no protest. He doesn't fight. Only hangs there limply, unmoving.

Thor cradles the back of his head, pressing his face to his shoulder and closing his eyes, burying his own to Loki's crown.

"My poor brother…" Thor cries, and he has never meant words more than those.

/

AN: As always, a huge thank you to all of my readers and reviewers! Hope you liked the chapter and let me know your thoughts!