What: Thor and Loki land on an unfamiliar planet. Loki is unconscious and refuses to wake up.
When: Set directly after the movie.
Word Count: 2,300
Warnings/Notes: PG-13. WIP, spoilers for Thor 2011, mild language. All characterization is based entirely on the movie. Inspired by a prompt from my good friend sin_unforgiven. Sorry for taking so long to get this one out, but hey, it's nearly three times the length of the last chapter~
Thor hits the ground running.
Thor hits the ground running.
To be entirely blunt, Thor hits the ground, winces as his shoulder pops out of socket, takes stock of his situation with an inebriated air -- drunk on the slowing effects of a bone-deep cold slowly receding from his limbs -- and realizes that about ten odd looking men are now surrounding him and his-- oh, is that limp bag of bones laid out in a tangle of broken tree limbs Loki? Yeah, him and his brother.
With a mighty roar inherited from his father -- honestly, Odin was king of mighty roars -- Thor leaps to his feet, deduces that the men are more men-like than anything else, that the pointed spears waving in his and Loki's direction are a threat, and that the hungry stares and lip-licking sounds are even more threatening, and does what he does best: kick ass and take names.
Which would have been easier, really, had his brother not been an allegorical pig in a blanket and, oh yes, that nasty matter of his dislocated shoulder.
Thor hoists Loki up with his good arm, to the unintelligible shrieks of angry hostiles, throws him over his shoulder, and that's when he starts to run.
Those frantic Aesir survival instincts of his had kicked in the moment he'd blinked open his blurry eyes, and now his veins are rushing with a ferocious want to fight. There is, however, his brother's well-being to think about, and Thor, though certainly not the silver-tongued trickster of the family, is smart enough to know that dumping Loki's unconscious body on the unfamiliar forest floor and attempting to fight off what appeared to be vaguely humanoid cannibals -- all while nursing a dislocated shoulder -- is not, in any way, shape, or form, an especially good idea.
So he thrashes through the forest, desperate for some kind of cover, only realizing, in that moment, that there is very little cover to be had.
His mind, upon first awakening, had only registered one thought: Warmer. Which did not, in fact, mean warm. The dead branches of impossibly tall trees embracing the sky, the pleasant crunch of winter snow beneath his feet, even the half-frozen streams with their time-locked curves of ice sitting above a shimmering crystal waterway were all warm compared to the chilling effects of the Bifrost.
Thor's perception had been warped; had been wrung by starlight and hung out to dry.
Now, his breath is fogging up his vision, and the more the blood pumps through his veins, the more aware he is of his exhaustion. He feels sluggish, slow, though he's already yards ahead of his pursuers and is gaining ground fast. The frantic pants straining his overworked lungs are each a silent entreaty -- a plea to slow down, to stop.
He shifts his injured shoulder, wincing at how loudly the damned thing protests.
Useless. He can't fight like this.
Loki is still dangling precariously from his steely grip, tossed around like little more than a rag doll. Thor would've felt bad if he'd had the time.
As it is, he can hear the sounds of his pursuers losing ground, takes stock of the delay between his footsteps and theirs -- a splash through a cold trickle of water takes them five seconds, the snapping twigs another seven. Every footstep pulls him a little farther away.
When the dense, dead forest opens up into a meadow, Thor rockets off to the left and prays to Odin himself he'll gain enough distance to start formulating how to cover up his tracks.
His adrenaline is pumping too fast for him to feel the biting wind, but Loki's fingertips have gone blue with what could only be numbness, and Thor will be damned if his attempts at valiant escape prove to be futile.
He pushes harder, faster; covering more ground, taking longer strides. He recites in his head the lyrics to an old song him and Volstagg used to sing around the dinner table:
Give me twenty roosters
Four and thirteen pigs
Fill my cup with beer and wine
I'll give you fifty swigs
It takes his mind off the pain, the pressure clamping down on his chest, the certain, assured realization that he's going to collapse, and the cannibal humanoids are going to catch up, and Loki's going to die.
It's that last thought that pushes him harder, turns his plight from frantic to determined.
He almost lost Loki once.
The sounds have faded far into the distance, and after a few more forward strides, Thor is aware that the creatures have finally given up their pursuit.
He doesn't stop.
He runs, another step here, another step there, just ten more paces, okay-- now ten more after that. Done? Twenty, left-right-left-right-- his shoulder is on fire. But Loki.
It's another ten minutes before Thor's body finally says fuck this shit and gives out.
He collapses onto the ground, wincing as Loki slides out of his grasp and lands in a mound of snow.
Well, at least he hadn't thrown his brother face-first into the trunk of a tree. He would've never heard the end of that.
It takes a second or two for the nervous laughter to bubble up, but when it does, Thor is rolling with it.
He'd jumped into outer space without even a contingency plan to console his mottled brain, and now he's stranded in a hostile environment with a bunch of animals trying to eat him and a brother who, before sentencing himself to the broken Bifrost and taking an ill-deserved nap, had tried to kill him.
Thor blinks back the tears of sheer amusement brimming at the corners of his eyes and wipes them away with an undignified chortle.
He leans back, stretches his long limbs out across the lightly dusted terrain. His bright red cape is a bloody gash cut across the land, seeping from his side in dirty waves. For a long two minutes, all he can hear is the steady, frantic beat of his overworked heart before an oozing silence overtakes his senses and he's finally able to concentrate again.
They need to make some sort of shelter, and quick.
Nodding once to himself, Thor sits up with a groan, acutely aware that his one arm (it just had to be the right one, didn't it?) is still useless, and he can't put off setting it back in place for much longer. He grinds his molars, preparing himself for the painful inevitability his life has become.
If one were to describe getting struck by lightening, he might use the words electric, and burning, and overpowering agony. Thor, with clenched teeth and closed eyes, would use the same words to describe the eerie sensation of forcing his own joints to snap back into place. He doesn't cry out, but when he's done he can't stop shivering. A cold sweat breaks out across his forehead, and his healthy skin has gone clammy.
He thinks, for a moment, how infinitely grateful he is that Loki is unconscious and therefore unable to smart off on Thor's uncontrollable display of weakness, but then he remembers Loki is unconscious and all pleasant musings come to an abrupt halt.
Thor remembers Loki's blue fingertips like the first whisper of hypothermia caressing his frantic mind, and sets about building a temporary shelter for the both of them to keep the cold out.
Which, in reality, translates to a single motion, i.e. his steady hand grasping at the empty space taking up the area Mjolnir used to occupy.
Oh. Right. He'd dropped his hammer back in Asgard.
Thor rubs his hands together, cursing beneath his breath.
Okay, this isn't too bad. He's just a little more human than normal -- probably why he'd dislocated his shoulder in the first place. Nothing to worry about. He can find a shelter, harsh terrain or no. He doesn't have to make one.
Mind set, Thor lifts up from the ground, legs as shaky as a newborn calf, and trudges through the snow over towards his brother.
Loki doesn't look too well. His extremities are turning the faintest hint of blue, and Thor is acutely aware of how few breaths he seems to be taking over the course of a minute.
He has to hurry.
Instead of throwing Loki over his shoulder like last time, Thor is attentive enough to stoop down and cradle his brother in his arms, using his wide chest as a buffer against the wind.
He walks in a straight line for a few miles, comes to another clearing and skirts along the edge, stumbles upon a stream that's more thawed than frozen and lays Loki gently down by a tree before falling to his knees in front of the trickling water. His hands are shaking from the cold when he scoops up a handful of water and drinks it down, droplets sticking to his beard.
Ever the attentive brother, Thor repeats the motion -- hands cupped, icy water lapping against the lines of his hand -- and brings the water to where Loki lays. His fingertips gently part the other's lips, and he tips his hand just enough to allow the water to slide off his skin and into Loki's mouth.
A numbness grips the base of Thor's spine when, from this angle and at this close of a distance, he notices how blue the other man's lips have gotten.
Not a good sign.
Thor grabs his brother, hauls him to his chest, then travels onward.
The planet is not nearly as harsh as Jotunheim, but it's little more than a sheet of ice when held next to the lush beauty of Asgard. In all of Thor's studies, he hasn't come across anything that even much resembles the land he's stranded on now. The trees are tall and sinuous, winding up and up and up to graze the clouds with their sharp, empty branches. They feel like intruders, like living creatures with yellow-rimmed eyes simply watching, waiting for someone to slip up, anticipating the moment they can sweep away their latest victim with a curl of their wooden fingertips.
The unsettling feeling quickens Thor's pace.
He's at least four more miles in and is starting to have repetitious arguments with the state of his tired body when something of a small grotto cutting a fine gash in the dense forest draws his attention.
It's a bit of boulder and block sitting broken and dilapidated at the center of a small break in the trees, elevated slightly atop a snowy knoll. The cave itself, from a distance, has a low overhang short enough to require someone of Thor's superior height to duck before entering, but the inside seems to curve upward in a smooth glide, like the belly of a whale.
Thor's smile brightens the darkness of the woods, and he glances down at his brother, words of success brimming at the back of his throat.
Loki's eyes are closed, his eyelashes a thin, sickly wisp over gaunt cheeks.
The words die before they are born, and Thor is trekking up the hill to his latest conquest before he's even aware his legs have started moving.
When Thor surveys the inside and confirms that nothing is living there -- that no living thing has lived there for quite some time -- he sets Loki down in a comfortable position near the entrance of the cave and sets about covering up the messy tracks he'd made.
There's a little voice in the back of his head that tells him things he doesn't want to hear.
Loki isn't going to wake up.
If Loki wakes up, he's going to kill you.
If Loki wakes up and doesn't kill you, Odin is going to find you and kill you harder.
Thor runs a hand down the side of his face, starts snatching up dead twigs to take with him back to the shelter, and pointedly ignores the thoughts racing around his skull.
When he returns, Loki is still asleep, and something within Thor snaps.
He drops his cultivated kindling onto the floor, strolls almost leisurely towards a particularly large rock milling about at the back of the cave, sits down, folds in on himself, clutches his hair with a desperation he's rarely ever shown, and tries his best to stop hyperventilating-- Stop it, Thor, stop it right now.
It's been a day, but it feels like a week, like a month, and if Thor is entirely honest with himself, he'll admit that it's been years. Years he's let this slithering hatred curl its sinuous coils around his brother's heart. Years he's charged forward, brandishing his own bawdy thirst for adventure without once sparing a glance to see his brother's opinion on the matter. Years he's blindly accepted his roll as heir to the throne, first-born, "favourite", and unknowing that not a scrap of the glory has gone to Loki.
It's his fault.
Loki tried to kill him and it's all his fault.
Tears are brimming his bloodshot eyes, and he allows one to fall before damming up the flow.
"Thor," croaks a voice from the front of the cave, and the Aeiser nearly sprains his neck with how quickly he twists around to stare at the slight man now struggling to sit upright.
Loki looks like he was hit by a car (twice -- Thor's familiar with the feeling), but he still has enough strength to add a sprinkling of seething derision to his words, "Are you crying?"