i. the first day
A month after Thor turns the young age of four, his parents bring home a little green bundle of squirming limbs and nasally cries. "What is it?" the boy asks, nose crinkled in distaste. The babe is shrieking and crying incessantly, and Thor wants it to shut up so he can return to playing with his toys.
"He," his mother corrects him. She sounds vaguely disapproving, but it's overpowered by the affection in her voice. She isn't looking at Thor, but at the bundle in her arms. She rocks the child gently, whispering words of comfort, eyes filled with a mother's love. The cries do not subside. "He is your new brother."
His name is Loki. Thor sounds the name out, but he can hardly hear himself over the baby. Anyway, he is sure that the name sounded strange being said out loud - what kind of a name is Loki?
"You're his big brother now, Thor," says his father, clamping a hand on his shoulder. He squeezes, but even he is not looking at his eldest son. "You must be there for him as he grows up."
Thor does not know why they are so fixated with the crying thing, but he passes it off as one of the many things he cannot understand yet at his age. So he simply nods, because it seems like that's the sort of response his father wants to hear, before toddling off back to his blocks. For the rest of the afternoon, Loki cries, and then through the night. Thor lies curled up in his bed, fingers jammed into his ears, thinking, Be quiet, be quiet, you-
ii. and the next
The next day, Thor wakes to his father jostling his shoulder. "Morning," he's greeted; there's a large box behind his father. "There's breakfast downstairs, go join your mother and your brother."
What brother? Thor almost blurts, and then remembers how many times he had been roused that night, unable to sleep soundly with the cries of a baby ringing throughout the house.
The boy thinks nothing of the box and just nods, still a little groggy, and goes downstairs. His mother and Loki are in the kitchen, the former cradling the latter in the crook of her arm. Loki is quiet, and for that, Thor is glad. "Come see," his mother whispers, smiling.
Thor walks over, and she bends down to let him see the babe. "Tiny," Thor says. He touches a small hand; it twitches.
"Of course, he is still a baby." His mother laughs.
Thor has never seen her this happy before.
iii. the crib
The box turned out to be a crib, which is now set up on the other side of Thor's room. Now he does not have as much space as he used to have, and when he wants to play with his blocks, he cannot build towers as wide.
The most frustrating part is that Loki is scarcely even in his crib. He spends most of his time in his mother's arms.
When he is in the crib, he is often sleeping. Thor puts a chair against the side and peers over the edge, studying the foreign creature that is apparently his new sibling. It is a new concept for him, to have a brother. He is not used to sharing his room, nor his parents' attention.
iv. every night
-and cries and cries and cries-
v. another first
"Loki is very fragile, Thor. You mustn't pick him up unless your father or I is with you, and when you are handling him, you must remember to be careful."
Loki has bright green eyes and tufts of hair as black as coal. Compared to his own fair hair and light blue eyes, Thor wonders how on earth they are brothers. "Strange little thing, you are," he murmurs down to Loki, sleeping as usual in his crib. "First you declare yourself my brother, you take my room for practically your own, and then you refuse to let me get any sleep. You are unfair, Loki." He pouts when Loki fails to answer and clambers down from his stool.
Sometime later, as Thor is placing the last block of his grand block-palace, he hears a noise from the crib. He immediately calls for his mother, knowing that Loki must have awoken. She arrives and takes Loki away, Thor calling after him, "Look, mother, I built a palace!"
When she returns, Loki's diaper is freshly changed and he is wearing a shirt that apparently used to be Thor's, when he was a baby. But it is too big on Loki and it hangs off of him like an oversized sack.
His mother places the infant across from Thor, who carefully starts taking apart his tower, knowing he will get scolded if Loki might get hit with one of the blocks. As he is putting the bag of blocks back underneath his bed, he hears a cry of surprise from his mother; when he turns, Loki has managed to push himself up on all fours. His falters and wobbles and moves as if to start crawling forward, but his arms prove to be too weak. Loki's chest hits the soft carpet, his limbs giving out beneath him.
His mother's hands are there in an instant, and she's trying to assess the damage when Loki giggles.
It's this sound that Thor has never heard before, and it feels like there is something melting in his heart.
vi. and another
Loki speaks for the first time: "Thow."
He points at Thor and looks positively delighted with himself. "Mother!" Thor calls quickly. "Mother, he said his first word!"
"Thow," Loki says again, and this time it's accompanied with a giggle. Little fingers curl into Thor's shirt and he realizes that Loki is not just saying any word, he is saying his name.
"Good job, little brother," Thor, now five, crows. He presses a kiss to Loki's head, and he has never felt prouder.