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not your fault

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Loki knew something was wrong.

He'd only just revealed to Thor that he was alive, but he could tell:

Something was seriously wrong.

Not that Loki was concerned. Thor was untouchable, up on his pedestal of bravery- nothing could hurt him, nothing ever would.

"Loki?" grumbled Thor, entering the room. A bottle was raised to his lips.

"Thor, must you always drink?" snapped Loki. "It's all you do. What ever happened to saving the world? Being your oh-too-noble self, hmm?" Loki stood up from the table and snatched the alcohol from Thor's grip.

Thor stared at him. "The world doesn't need any saving. Not now." 

"The Mad Titan-"

Thor shuddered, and Loki stopped talking.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing, Loki, I'm just- tired. That's all. I'm going to take a walk, clear my head."

Loki sighed. "Clear your head of what, Thor? You've been sitting around all day. Is- is there something you're not telling me?" 

Thor didn't answer.

He just left.

"Where's Thor?" Valkeryie asked, without bothering to knock. She dropped a stack of papers on the table. "He has to look over these."

Loki sneered at her. "Hello to you too, Brunnhilde."

"Where's Thor?" she repeated.

Loki shook his head. "He left to take a walk two hours ago."

Valkeryie frowned, walking over to take a beer out of the fridge. "Two hours ago? That's-"

"A long time, I know," Loki finished. "Maybe I should go look for him."

"Worried, are you?" Brunnhilde teased. Loki glared at her, smoothing back his hair. 

"Of course not. It's Thor. When has he ever needed anything?"

Brunnhilde winced. "You- you clearly missed a lot, alright? Just. Find him, please."

Loki strolled down the streets of New Asgard, the smell of fish melting into the air. 

He spotted a large shape sitting on the dock, legs hanging off- a childlike motion, perhaps it was Thor.

He approaches the figure. "Thor?" Loki asked, recognizing his unkempt hair. 

No answer. "Thor," said Loki with more force. And then-

Thor whimpered. He actually whimpered. "Loki- I-"

Loki's brow furrowed immediately. "What in Odin's name- Thor, what's going on?"

Thor's head whipped around, and his eyes were unfocused. Tears streamed down his cheeks. 

"What the..." Loki stumbled to his knees. "Thor, what- are you- crying?" stammered Loki, unable to believe it. Because no, this was Thor, the Mighty Thor, hurt by no one. No one.

"Loki, I- something's wrong. He's- I chopped off his head," Thor rambled, "What if he still has children out there? They're- they'll kill me. Worse, you. I can't see you die again, Loki, I can't-" A violent shiver cut him off. Loki's eyes widened.

"Thor, they're all dead," he tried. "I promise, I- they won't get us here." 

Loki was definitely concerned. This wasn't the Thor he knew. Thor, who always took care of everyone else. So who... who was taking care of him?

"I should have been a better brother," Thor muttered. "He would have never found you. Midgard would have stayed out of this- you would be okay-"

"No, no, Thor, I am okay, see?" Loki insisted. This wasn't supposed to happen. Why was Thor apologizing? He hadn't done anything wrong, Loki knew that now. He grabbed Thor, gently, by the shoulders. "Please, Thor, you need to slow down. Listen to the ocean, breathe. I need you to listen to me, okay? I was horrible, quite terrible to you, but I never wanted this. You were never horrible to me like I was to you. Do you hear me, Thor? None of this is your fault. Thanos is not going to get you."

Thor nodded. "I'm sorry. I keep- I'm embarrassing you, aren't I? Look at me. The former king. Ha," Thor said, his voice dry and humorless.

Loki frowns. Took a breath, and said "I can't believe I'm saying this but no, Thor. You're not embarrassing me. Just please. Don't- don't put this blame on yourself."

"You don't blame me?" Thor asked quietly. Loki looked uncomfortable with the question. He fidgeted.

"I did, once. But now? I could never. You are an oaf, you know that? But," Loki continued, "I couldn't blame you for anything. You're too... too Thor. Too kind, too good of a brother to have ever meant to do me harm. I'm sorry I wasn't here for you."

Thor waved him off. "Not your fault."

"No," Loki pressed. "I should have realized- it's clear to me now, alright, brother? You need- you need help. I'll try. To help you, I mean."

"No leaving?" Thor said, trying to sound tough, but failing. 

"No leaving," agreed Loki.

Thor smiled. "Thank you, brother, it means so much to me."

I know, thought Loki, I know.

I just wish I'd known that all along.