Chapter Twenty-Six: Nightmare and Thor's Therapy
Later that night…. Loki woke up abruptly, because Natalie was shaking in his arms. He tried waking her up, but she wouldn't even open her eyes. Suddenly she started talking in some language Loki was pretty sure was Russian, and the main word that stood out was 'Tony'.
After another failed attempt at waking Natalie, Loki asked, "JARVIS, where is Tony?"
"Sir is in his room, talking with Colonel Rhodes," JARVIS replied. Loki immediately got up and teleported into Tony's private living room, causing both Tony and Rhodey to jump. "Jeez Reindeer Games, don't do that!" Tony said.
"Natalie is having some kind of panic attack and she keeps saying your name; I need you to come see if you can wake her up," Loki said. "Nothing I've tried is working." Without waiting for a response, he grabbed Tony's arm and teleported back to his and Natalie's room.
They found Natalie curled into a ball, crying. Tony went over and asked hesitantly, "Natalie?"
Natalie's eyes shot open, and she sat bolt upright, startling Tony and Loki. "Natalie, what happened?" Loki asked.
Natalie started talking really fast in Russian, and Tony said, "Um…. Could you speak English?"
Natalie stopped talking, and then said shakily, "Sorry."
"What happened?" Tony asked.
"I-I saw Thanos, and he killed you," Natalie said shakily. "Loki tried to save you, but Thanos did something, and he was frozen, and Thanos killed you. I was seeing this from Loki's perspective, and it was so real…."
Tony pulled her into his arms and said, "I'm not going to die anytime soon, I promise. I thought you said you couldn't get nightmares, though."
"I can't…." Natalie said. "I should call my dad tomorrow; he might have an idea of what's going on."
"Why were you speaking Russian?" Tony asked.
"It's a quirk," Natalie said. "When I'm really flustered or scared, I start speaking Russian. Sometimes when I'm really angry, too. I don't usually notice, though, so thanks for reminding me."
"You're fluent in Russian?" Tony asked, interested.
"Yeah," Natalie said. She was calmer now, and continued, "It came in handy when you and everyone else got turned into children; Natasha didn't speak English, and apparently Phil doesn't speak enough Russian to completely understand her."
"Does Natasha know this?" Tony asked.
"I'm not sure," Natalie said. "I forgot to tell her, and apparently it wasn't in that creepy file Fury made on me, because he was surprised when I started speaking Russian."
She looked guilty when Tony yawned, and said, "Sorry for keeping you up…."
"It's fine," Tony said. "Are you okay now?"
"Yeah, thanks," Natalie said, letting go of him. "You should get some rest; it's your turn for therapy tomorrow."
"Just out of curiosity, do you plan to see Thor as well?" Loki asked.
"I guess I didn't think of that," Natalie said. "I was going to save the weekends for you, but do you think Thor should get therapy too?"
"I think it's a good idea," Tony said. "Point Break's gone through a lot- maybe he didn't have it as hard as the rest of us, but he could still use the help. And he and Loki could both use a mediator to work their issues out."
"Okay," Natalie said. "I'll talk with him about it." She yawned, and Tony grinned, then got up. "See you two in the morning," he said.
"Thanks," Natalie said.
Tony smiled and headed out as Loki climbed back into bed with Natalie. They curled up together and fell back to sleep.
The next morning: Natalie got up as Loki was waking up, and took a shower, then got out her cell phone. "Who are you calling?" Loki asked sleepily.
"My dad," Natalie said. She dialed her parents' number, and waited. After three rings, her father picked up and asked, "Natalie?"
"Hi Dad," Natalie said. "I called because I had a nightmare last night; isn't that supposed to be impossible?"
"Whose point of view was the nightmare from?" Mr. McKenzie asked.
"I was looking through Loki's eyes," Natalie replied.
"That was most likely his nightmare, then," Mr. McKenzie said grimly. "I assume I didn't tell you that you can get other people's nightmares if you've been in their mind?"
"I didn't know that," Natalie said. "Is there a way to stop that?"
"I don't think so, but I'll look at the Book and get back to you as soon as I can," Mr. McKenzie said. "I have to go to work; take care."
"Thanks Dad, you too," Natalie said, and hung up. Loki looked at her questioningly, and she said, "Apparently I can get the nightmares of people whose minds I've been in."
"I don't remember dreaming what you described," Loki said.
"That's because your nightmare was transferred to me before you were aware you were having it," Natalie said. "I'm going to see if anyone's up and make breakfast; come down when you're ready."
"Okay," Loki said. "Is your father going to find a solution to this?"
"He said he'd look, but that he doesn't know of a solution offhand," Natalie said. Loki nodded and headed off to take a shower.
Natalie went downstairs, and found Steve in the kitchen, taking what looked like blueberry muffins out of the oven. Thor was watching him eagerly. "Those smell like heaven," Natalie commented. "Is anyone else up?"
"Just me and Thor," Steve said. "I guess Tony and Colonel Rhodes were up late."
"Doesn't surprise me," Natalie said. She looked at Thor, and giggled. "Thor, you look like a puppy with that expression," she said.
"They smell delicious," Thor said defensively.
"Point," Natalie said. "I was wondering, would you be interested in therapy too? I'm doing it for everyone else, I should have asked you earlier."
"What exactly is therapy?" Thor asked. "We do not have such a thing on Asgard."
"There are different kinds, but I'm trained in talk therapy, which basically means you can talk to me about your problems, worries, fears- anything you want to, really," Natalie explained. "I thought it might help you work through some of the issues you seem to have connecting with Loki. And anything you might have to say is private; I won't tell others unless you tell me it's okay to do so."
"I will think about it," Thor said. "It is not the warrior's way to ask for that kind of help."
"That's probably why Loki was broken almost beyond repair when I met him," Natalie said, sounding bitterer than she had intended to.
The bitterness was not lost on Thor, who flinched a bit. Natalie noticed, but said nothing, instead taking a muffin off the plate Steve had set on the table, and biting into it, good mood dimmed.
Loki, Tony, Rhodey, and Bruce came in soon after, and noticed the uncomfortable silence. "Uh…. what happened?" Tony asked.
"Apparently warriors don't like the idea of therapy," Natalie said. "Makes me wonder how Asgardians live so long….."
"They also believe suicide is the height of dishonor," Loki said dryly. "As is asking for help with problems. It's considered dishonorable to have fears or issues like I do. And most, if not all, of the warriors on Asgard are brainless idiots. The basic battle strategy there is charge first, think later."
"…How exactly do they win wars again?" Natalie asked. "That is quite possibly the worst strategy I've EVER heard."
"Agreed," Steve said. "We at least plan things out here. With that philosophy, you'd think all of Asgard would be dead by now."
"And anyone who fights differently is shunned," Loki said, then added grouchily, "And Thor wonders why I 'fell' off the Bifrost…."
"YOU FELL ON PURPOSE!?" Thor roared.
Loki gave him a dry look and asked, "Did you really think I'd continue on when you and everyone else thought of me as a failure, shunned me, ridiculed me, and beat me? That was the perfect opportunity to end it and still make it look like I didn't commit suicide. To everyone else, it would simply look like I fell. Of course, that didn't exactly work out, and I got captured by the Chitauri, mind-controlled by Thanos and the Other, and tortured by all of the above. Until I met Natalie, I had absolutely no reason to live."
Thor looked completely shattered as Steve asked, "Why did you end up in Natalie's living room, anyways?"
"My best guess is that my magic took me there as a safe place, since I messed up the teleportation by thinking about wanting to be safe rather than focusing on a specific image," Loki said. "I am still amazed that she took me in."
"You had the flu; there's no way I'd kick someone out without at least getting them medical help, and something about helping you just felt right," Natalie said. "How did Thor find you, by the way?"
"I can sense Loki's magic," Thor said, sounding gloomy. "I could sense that he was not far away, and when I got a clear lock on Loki's location, I summoned Mjolnir to take me there." He looked at Loki, and asked, "Would you have preferred it if I had not come to find you?"
Loki looked like he was going to give some kind of snarky retort, but Natalie shot him a Look, and he said, "I wouldn't change what has happened since I returned to Earth. True, I would have been happy with Natalie alone, but now I have other friends- which is a luxury I did not have growing up. Growing up, I only had you and Mother, and that was only when you weren't busy. No one else liked me or had time for me, and when someone did notice me, they would either ignore me right away, taunt me, or beat me up. And eventually, you joined the crowd of people who ignored and taunted me. You and your friends were downright cruel to me most of the time, constantly teasing me about hiding in the library, and not being a true warrior because I used magic and actually thought before charging in. Everyone scorned me because I could not best you at any of the things you enjoyed, and when it came to things I enjoyed, even though I was a prodigy at many things, I was still scorned because I wasn't a prodigy at the 'right' things. I am happier now, with Natalie, then I have been since I was capable of understanding what was going on around me."
Thor looked like a kicked puppy, and Natalie sighed. "Thor, therapy is now mandatory for you," she said. "Let's go. Tony, I hope you don't mind waiting."
"I need coffee," Tony said.
Loki snorted, and Tony glared at him.
Natalie sighed again, and looked at Thor. He sighed and asked, "Where are we going?"
"Anywhere you're comfortable- your room, the training room, I don't mind," Natalie said. "We could even go to my room."
"I think that is a good idea," Thor said. Natalie led the way to the elevator, then back to her room. She noticed that Thor relaxed somewhat when he stepped inside, and filed that under 'think about it later.' "Have a seat," she told Thor.
He sat on the sofa, and Natalie sat down in a chair across from him. She looked at Thor for a moment before saying, "I want you to really think about how you really treated Loki all these years, Thor. I think you don't tend to notice things as much as he does, and from what I've heard, most of your stories about your adventures are greatly embellished. The main problems I see right now are that you are trying to reconnect to Loki, and he's not very receptive to that. I want you to really think about why that would be."
Thor sighed. "I know why he is mad at me, and why he will not forgive me; it just hurts so much that I do not show it," he said. "I have willingly ignored or discredited Loki many a time, I have made many mistakes, one of which led to him losing his children, and when he was being tortured, I was too busy wallowing in grief and self-pity to notice that he was in fact alive. When he fell from the Bifrost, I lost all hope of ever seeing my brother again. When I did see him again, he was different, and I could not see past my belief that he had betrayed me. Had I done so, I might have noticed he was being controlled. I could have saved him, but I was too lost in grief and rage to notice that he was suffering too. I listened to my father, believing he was right in all things, and looking back, I see more and more signs that my father's punishments of Loki were wrong. I let my father lock Loki up and obeyed him when he said I was to come here and get Loki back so he could lock him up again. It took your actions to make me see that my whole life, I had been wrong, and my father, who I thought knew everything and was always right in his decisions, had been more wrong than I. I have done a lot of thinking since I met you, and your impassioned speeches in Loki's defense have made me see how utterly wrong I was to treat Loki the way I did. It may be too late for me to make amends, but I would still like to try."
"Maybe we should ask Loki how he really feels, then," Natalie said.
Thor looked at her quizzically, and she said, "He's been listening outside the door the entire time."
Sure enough, a muffled curse came from outside the room, and Natalie called, "Loki, get in here!"
The door opened a minute later, and a very irritable Loki asked, "How did you know I was there?"
"I can sense when you're nearby," Natalie said, smirking. "So, what do you think of Thor's speech?"
"Can I speak with Thor alone?" Loki asked.
"Sure," Natalie said. "I'll go see if there are any more blueberry muffins." She left, softly closing the door behind her.
Loki sighed and looked at Thor. "Since I know I'll get lectured later, I will tell you the truth," Loki said.
Thor looked at him, and Loki continued, "I don't hate you, Thor. I don't always agree with you, and some things you have done I can't really forgive, but I don't hate you. Maybe I never have, but for a while I was too broken to notice anything but my own pain. I resented the fact that you were always the favorite, and that you chose your friends over me, but I'm not sure I ever truly hated you. I certainly don't right now, and despite our past problems, I've been informed that living in the past is bad for us. You are still my brother, despite our origins, and I would like to rekindle what we had when we were children."
Loki looked aside, blushing slightly- until Thor swept him up into his arms. Loki sighed, but actually hugged back this time as Thor said, "Brother, it is good to have you back."
"I am also glad to have you back," Loki said softly.
It was some time before they broke apart, but finally they stopped hugging, and smiled at each other. Then Thor asked, "So when do you plan to ask Natalie to wed you?"
"I want to propose on her birthday," Loki said. "Mother has agreed to give her one of Idunn's golden apples. Will you be giving her a gift?"
Thor looked worried, and asked, "What should I get her?"
"Why not ask Mother for advice on necklaces?" Loki asked. "I have noticed Natalie likes necklaces. The one she is wearing now is getting rather frayed."
"I shall do so then," Thor replied. "Shall we tell Natalie that we have reconciled?"
"Good idea," Loki said.