Thor smiled at the nurses who gave him directions to the room he will be visiting that warm Monday afternoon. He frowned when he noticed two doctors standing outside a large window talking. He felt sorry for the person who couldn’t have privacy while in the hospital. Then he saw that the number next to the window was the same one he was visiting. ‘That can’t be right. Loki said he was here for the flu.’ He went over to the doctor, “Excuse me. I think I have the wrong room. I am looking for Loki Odinson.” The doctor gave him a sad smile and gestured for his collogue to leave. “I am Mr. Odinson’s-“ “Doctor.” Thor said, the doctor looked at him strangely. “Loki is a doctor. Not like you, he is a scientist trying to cure diseases.” The doctor smiled and nodded, “Of course, I am Dr. Odinson’s doctor.” He fought to not laugh and how odd that sounds. “I am Dr. Grey. I was wondering if you have alerted the rest of your family of Dr. Odinson’s condition.” Thor frowned as he answered. “Yes they know he came here because he had the flu and it wasn’t going away.” Dr. Grey gestured for him to sit in the chair in the waiting room. “When did I get here. I didn’t even notice we were walking.’ “Mr. Odinson, I am afraid it isn’t the flu.” Dr. Grey told him. “What?” “”Dr. Odinson has something called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis.” Thor had no idea what that was but he knew toxic was never a good thing. “What is that?” “It is an allergic reaction to certain drugs.” “My brother is no druggie.” Thor argued. “Not those types.” The doctor told him. “You said your brother was working with diseases.” “Yes, last I checked he was trying to improve the vaccines for HIV.” “That might be where he got it from.” Thor felt his throat swell up. “From his work?” The doctor nodded. “Will he be ok?” “We don’t know ye. We have him on fluids and are giving him some medication that should work. But the rash has spread very quickly and he is is showing signs of sepsis.” Thor hung his head and felt the books he brought for his brother slipped from his hand. His little brother who studied to become a scientist so that he could cure the world of diseases and help children was sick with something that he never even knew existed. He wiped his face of the tears that were fighting to leave. “Can I see him?” he asked. “I am afraid you can’t be allowed in the room but we did put him in a room with a window that allows you to see and talk with him.” Dr. Grey told him. “I brought him these books because I knew he would be bored. He always used to get sick when we were kids. I think that why he wanted to make cures.” Thor says. He doesn’t know why. Maybe if he treats this like another cold, or another flu, his brother will get better like he always does. “I can give them to him if you like.” Thor nods. The doctor leaves and Thor pulls out his phone. He needs to call his parents. His mother cried. They try to book a flight to come over but they won’t be here for a week. He forces himself to stand up and walk to Loki’s room. He sits down and sees Loki through the glass. He is reading a book. If Thor tries hard enough Loki would look like he is on their couch wearing sweats like every other day. But the image fades and instead it is Loki in a hospital gown on a too white bed, covered in wires surrounded by too white walls. Eventually Loki notices him and smiles, but Thor could see the thinly veiled pain. “Hello brother. So now you have come to visit me. To what do I owe the honor.” Thor rolled his eyes as he answered. “You owe the honor to the fact you can never stay healthy for longer than three month.” Loki pouts and he puts the book aside. “That is not true. I remember one summer I manage to stay healthy through.” “You got sunburn.” “That isn’t an illness. Just a horrible reminder that the sun hates me.” Loki argued back. “Is that why you never leave the house unless it is for work?” Thor asked. “Maybe.” Thor laughed and hoped that just like all those other times Loki will get better. He will stay here with him until he does. Though Loki is too smart for his good. Even with their friendly banter Loki can feel the pain from his skin melting together. If he knew this is what happens when you drop a beaker of untested drugs he promises from now on to be more careful in his lab. Thor new Loki was hurting. Even if his brother tried to hide it he could see it on the edge of his smiles and the way he clenched his hand on the blankets. He will try anything to make sure his brother is as comfortable as can be even behind the glass wall. But the thing he wants most is to be able to go inside the room and hug his brother until every gets better. On one of his visits Loki is on his side facing away from the window. Even though Thor can see Loki is awake he doesn’t say anything just sits down and waits.
Loki feels so useless. He hates it here. He hates the pain and way everyone looks at him like he will break any minute. He looked at his chart when the nurse forgot it one day. He knows there is little chance he will make it. Still if he could just study the disease like he always did, maybe, maybe he could save himself.
But he knows it is useless. He is going to die. So he cries. He cries for himself, for his mother who believed he would change the world, his father who held him in his arms whenever things got too hard for him, and Thor who will have to see him become a shell of the person he was.
But mostly he cried because there wasn’t anything he could do now. He pulled the covers closer and cried until he heard Thor sit down. Then he tried to pretend he was sleeping. Eventually he fell asleep.
Thor talked to Bruce the day after he caught Loki pretending to sleep. He asks him about the chances his brother has. Even though he didn’t understand most of it Thor asks for cures and remedies. He knows there isn’t much that the doctors haven’t tried already.
He explains most of it to Loki who halfway through begins to cry. “Loki?” Thor asks.
Loki laughs and wipes his tears. “Oh Thor, how about he forget about that. Let’s talk about something else.”
“Something else?” Thor asks.
“Yes, how are things going at that new job for you in Stark Industries?” Thor understood what his brother was doing. He wants to ignore the illness for now.
“They are great, Bruce is cool, and Steve is kind of strict but fun to be around. I met Tony Stark.” He could distract his brother for now.
They kept talking the next day. Thor finding new things too talk about with his brother. They talked about his work, his crush on the cute girl from the coffee shop and Loki’s book. Somehow both brothers were able to forget about the wall of glass that separated them and connect on a deeper level.
When Thor left that Sunday Loki smiled at him in a way that he hasn’t seen since they were boys. He wonders how he never noticed. Thor would be leaving to pick up their parents from the airport.
Somehow a voice tells him to burn that smile into his memory. He listens to that voice. He is glad he did. By the time he is back with his parents , Dr. Grey pulls them aside.
Organ failure, they say. We did everything we could. Not enough. He doesn’t hear the rest just the sound of his heart breaking and his mothers cries if horror. He thinks back to his last moments with Loki and his smile.
The last smile that is what he will remember. Not the cold white room. Or the glass wall. But the smile that shows pure happiness and is maybe guiding children to a world without illness and pain.