The Lake

Loki was drowning again. The memory of that experience was just as vivid as ever. He was trapped under the ice, not strong enough to break through and reach the air he needed. But something about the nightmare changed.

He broke through the ice. Frantically, he took a breath. The ice held as he half-pulled himself out of the water. Then something grabbed his right leg and pulled. He shrieked in surprise and somehow managed to dig his fingernails into the thin ice. Trembling, he tucked his head against his chest, terrified.

A pair of boots took a step into Loki's line of sight. It was Thor.

"Brother!" Loki held a hand up. "Help me!"

Thor looked at him coldly. "Why? You are just a second son, father has no need of you. The realms and I don't either."

The thing in the lake pulled Loki in a few inches more. "Brother, y-you don't mean that." He stuttered.

Thor didn't say anything.

Suddenly Loki was underwater again, being pulled under the lake. He looked up through the break in the ice where Thor still stood, watching.

Even underwater he could still hear Thor say "Goodbye Loki."

Then Thor walked away. Brother… Tendrils of blood wafted up by him, his blood and the water turned red.

His scream echoed in his ears as he snapped awake, the line between reality and dream blurred to him. The raspy sound of his breathing was loud in his ears, as loud as his heartbeat. Sweat ran down his face and somehow he had gotten tangled in the sheets.

His doors slammed open and Loki grabbed the first thing he could reach and threw it at Thor.

"Ow! Hey, what? Loki!" Thor stumbled back from the assault of Loki's boot.

He banged his head against the door, and dropping his sword. For a moment Thor was about to shout at Loki, but his breath caught when he saw the terror on his little brother's face.

Slowly, that terror faded. "Brother?" Loki whimpered.

Thor forgot his sword and raced over to Loki. "Are you alright brother? What attacked you?"

"Attacked?" Confusion replaced terror as Thor's idiotic question fully returned Loki to reality.

"You screamed brother," Thor explained. "Loudly. It awoke me. I thought something was attacking you…"

Loki looked past Thor to his older brother's discarded sword lying near his boot. "You-you came running in here for that?"

Slítas flipped himself over, having been kicked off the bed by Loki and landing on his head. He hissed softly, crystals an annoyed pink, but realized that now was not the time to snap at Loki.

"Of course," Thor replied confidently.

Now that he was not under attack by Loki's boot he could see that his little brother had just had a nightmare. He wasn't surprised considering what Loki had been through this past week first with almost drowning, and then Nira.

Loki started babbling about the lake and Thor and goodbye.

"At ease brother, it's alright, everything's fine." Thor soothed, trying to remember what mother did when he had nightmares.

Loki clung to Thor's nightshift muttering words Thor couldn't hear. Thor stroked Loki's head, making soothing noises.

Loki relaxed by degrees and finally let go of Thor and leaned back. "You wouldn't have let me drown back at the lake if you could have reached me, would you?"

"Let you… Brother where did you get such an idiotic idea?"

Loki almost babbled out his nightmare. The memory of Thor walking away stopped him, but it didn't stop his trembling. Thor pulled him close and held him in a hug – not one of his infamous rib-bruising ones – but a gentle one.

"I'll never let anything happen to my little brother," Thor promised. "Even if the silvertongue is learning to take care of himself."

Loki nodded numbly, glad Thor hadn't called him a lie-smith like Sif had. The way Thor put it, he made Loki's ability to lie himself out of trouble a good thing.

Thor stayed there a while longer, until he was sure that Loki was alright, and then left.

Loki waited until he was gone before kicking his sheet back and pulling up the cloth of one of his pants. There, on his right leg, were abrasion marks as if something had grabbed him.

Back within Chitauri Space, Chthon nodded in satisfaction as Thor left Loki's room and returned to his own. Loki was sufficently terrorized. Chthon knew that this dream an other's like it would plant the seeds in Loki's mind that Thor would betray him.

Thor never would, but if Chthon wanted to get Loki - and Loki's power over the Tesseract - under his control then he needed to separate the brothers. This was a good start.

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