Heroes Never Die (628 Words)
Thor flinched. He knew that voice too well. He turned restlessly, trying to force it out of his head. But it was there, always there, in his heart.
Thor’s elbow hit the TV tray. He cursed, throwing a plastic plate across the room.
“Get out!” he shouted. “Go away. Just leave me.”
He didn’t mean it. Not really. But he was tired and the pain was no easier. Loki, that cursed son of an ice giant. He saw him hanging from Thanos’s hand, fighting for air, for life. He heard his brother’s hoarse voice:
“You—will never be—a god.”
His death was too sudden. Thanos had thrown his body at Thor’s feet, so still and broken in a way that Loki was never broken, never finished. It was pretend. It had to be. Thor had bowed beside his brother, praying for some trick, some miracle.
No, Thanos was not a god. Neither were they.
The hand on him made him jerk back violently. Tears ran on his face, his breath constricted with grief.
Loki’s green eyes looked at him. His hand rested on Thor’s shoulder as if it were really there, the pressure gentle but sure. The trickster’s mouth quirked. There it was, that irrepressible tease, touched with flattered warmth.
“You’re crying for me?”
Thor didn’t answer. He stared at this ghost that looked so alive. He stood slowly, stretching his hand to Loki’s face.
He felt real. Real, warm. Thor’s hand fell to the trickster’s neck, his touch careful, remembering.
“Please tell me you’re crying for me,” said Loki softly, “and not one of the Avengers. Please tell me it isn’t Stark or Strange. I’ll grant you Stark was amusing in his way. But you can tell me how Strange died, if you like, in detail. Every detail.”
Thor laughed. The sound was weak as a hiccup.
“You died,” he said.
Loki was motionless, Thor’s hand resting heavily on his neck. Perhaps he, too, was remembering how Thanos had held him and snapped the fragile bone there.
“Yes,” said the trickster. “I died. I’m not dead, brother. Grieve for my memory. Don’t grieve for my life.”
“I don’t understand.”
Loki took Thor’s hand from his neck. There was no tease in his gaze, not this time. “Mother sends her love. And father.”
Thor shook. He reached for his brother, and Loki was there, caught in his crushing embrace. He held him tightly, feeling the breath in the trickster’s ribs, the heartbeat that not even his grief-sick mind could have imagined.
“You tell them,” said Thor roughly. “Tell them that I love them.”
Loki lifted his head. His slim hands pressed Thor’s shoulders. Thor relaxed his grip and was surprised to see the brightness in Loki’s eyes, the wet tracks on his own cheek. There was no grief in those tears.
“What is it like?” asked Thor. “Valhalla?”
Loki laughed. He wiped his cheek quickly. “It’s like—Heaven.”
The simple answer said everything that could not be said. Loki touched his brother’s arm briefly.
“Midgard needs you,” he said. “It needs heroes.”
“There are always heroes.”
“Yes.” Loki considered him. “I would not be a hero, without you.”
He passed his hand gently over Thor’s eyes. That moment of blindness was brief, but Loki was gone when Thor saw again.
Thor stood . He smoothed his tangled hair from his face. Loki was gone, but he still felt his warmth. He went into the bathroom and looked at his disheveled, haggard face, studying the lines of sorrow etched in his strong forehead. There was light in his eyes that hadn’t been there before.
He wondered how he had forgotten that heroes never die.