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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Thor fic: Winter Winds (1/2)

December 23rd, 2013 (03:21 pm)
hopeful

feeling: hopeful

Title: Winter Winds

Disclaimer: I do not own Thor.

A/N: For lena7142, who made me fall in love with these characters. And now she puts up with me while they make me flail. This is currently unbeta’ed. This will also serve as the wild card square for my hc_bingo card.

Spoiler: Set pre-Thor.

Summary: Loki was still grappling with the overwhelming fact that he’d been kidnapped from his home and taken off for likely nefarious purposes with nothing but a well intentioned and overly confident oaf at his side.



-o-

“I do not see the value in this venture,” Thor said with a mighty sigh. “It is an incomprehensible waste of time.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “This is an important spot in Asgardian history,” he said.

Their tutor smiled patiently. “That is correct, Loki,” he said. “This is an ancient ground of enchantment, which is said to be the birthplace of much of the power of our race.”

Thor raised his eyebrows, looking around the place. “It looks useless,” he said. “The walls are caving in, and it has no practical value. It would be better off demolished and rebuilt.”

“We have to appreciate our history,” Loki objected. “Even ruins have value, and not just for what they could be but for what they were. We have to understand what came before in order to make the best choices in what is to come.”

The tutor nodded proudly.

Thor rolled his eyes. “I cannot believe we are taking an entire day away from the palace for this,” he muttered petulantly, kicking an errant rock across the ground.

Loki sighed, though none of this was unexpected. His brother never cared much for his studies. Unless there was talk of battle or a sword in his hand, Thor was often quickly bored. He failed to appreciate the nuances of ruling, how a firm foundation was the cornerstone to wisdom and success. Besides, the past was powerful. History made the future, even when one did not understand enough to see it.

Loki could see it, though. Loki could see many things Thor could not. He could see the power of knowledge; he could see the value of restraint. He had learned patience and persistence. Thor could battle; Loki could reason.

And yet, neither of them saw it coming when the structure shook and a powerful blast sent them both flying to the ground.

-o-

Loki’s vision tunneled precarious, and his ears rang. Blinking, his body felt strangely disconnected, and the only thing he was certain of was the pounding of his own, frantic heart.

Something had happened.

An explosion.

Their private trip to the ancient ruins, to learn about their past, to discover their roots. Father had wished them well; Mother had reminded them to not give their tutor too much trouble. Loki had been looking forward to it; Thor--

Loki startled, inhaling raggedly as he flopped onto his side. Thor--

His brother was here. Thor was always here. There was nothing more constant in the universe than Thor.

The explosion.

Thor.

Swallowing, his head cleared enough to sit up, although the small movement sent pain exploding through his chest. He winced, keeling forward slightly before a strong hand steadied him.

“Brother,” Thor said over the rising din. “Are you injured?”

Loki looked up, too pained to be sarcastic. Each breath was a struggle -- the force of the blast must have had a magical element, and Loki can feel it coursing deep in his bones. This was no accident; this was an attack.

Probably an attack on them.

They were the sons of Odin, Princes of Asgard. They were no small commodity, which was why their father had guards with them wherever they went. Attacks were not common, though threats were prevalent. Loki knew his mother worried, though Father always assured them of their safety.

The All-Father was never wrong, though Loki suspected he lied from time to time as all creatures with a brain were wont to do.

Loki had just never surmised that his father would lie about this.

For their guards had fallen, and there tutor was unmoving. The tendrils of magic were unmistakable now, and even as Loki regained his composure, he was filled with a certain sense of dread.

Eyes wide, Loki shook his head. “The explosion…”

Thor’s jaw hardened and his gaze narrowed. His grip tightened just for a moment, strong and reassuring, but before Loki could say anything more or explain his suspicions, Thor was gone.

On his feet, pulling a sword from one of the fallen guards, and yelling.

Charging into a battle he had no hopes of winning.

-o-

By the time Loki was sitting on his own, Thor was already engaged in battle. With the sword, he had felled the first line of defenders -- nameless marauders from across the realms. They were nothing more than pirates, seeking their own fortune. Bounty hunters. Dangerous, but not in the land of Odin.

And truly, they fell before Thor easily. His brother was not of age yet, but he was excellent in his training. Their trainers said Thor would probably be the best warrior Asgard had ever seen, once given the chance to prove his valor.

Loki knew now they were right.

But he also knew that something was too simple. The blast had been unforeseen, and it has laid waste to their entire contingent of guards. Marauders were capable of such acts of violence, but they did not usually have the skill to cast spells like the one Loki had detected.

Which meant these men were nothing more than hired soldiers, sent off in the front line as a….test? A distraction?

Thor was winning for now.

Loki’s eyes darted to the smoking crater in the side of the decimated wall.

The real battle hadn’t even started yet.

Still getting his bearings, Loki was so focused on sensing the source of the power that he barely saw the attacker until he swung a club wildly at him. Frightened, Loki rolled away, yelping as rock and dirt sprayed up at him. The man grunted, lifting his club again, bringing it to bear faster this time, leveling it straight at Loki’s head.

It was instinct. Yes, he had the same combat training as his brother, but such things had never come naturally to him. No, in times of danger, Loki reverted to the safe and familiar.

He turned to magic.

His spell was sloppy but effective, creating an illusion that gave him time to duck out of the way. Confused, the man missed badly, and Loki scurried back away from the fray.

Tucked against a fallen pile of debris, Loki tried again to situate himself, to make sense of this. Thor was still advancing, and the marauders were fighting, but…

Not exactly. Clubs and blunted blades. Designed to hurt, not to kill. This was a distraction. This was a trap.

And Thor was walking right into it.

His spells forgotten, Loki ran from his hiding place, his brother’s name on his lips.

But then the blue light filled the air.

Before it coalesced and fired -- right at Thor.

The force of the blast knocked Thor back. For a moment, his eyes went wide as the pulse of energy held him. When it dissipated, his face went blank, eyes rolling up in his head as his knees buckled and he went down.

Loki screamed, climbing past the bodies toward his brother, who was splayed lifelessly on the ground, golden hair limp about his face.

Not Thor.

Not Thor.

But before he could reach his brother, he saw a hint of movement and a glint of metal. He turned to deflect, but this time the club came down hard on his back, sending him sprawling into the dark.

-o-

Consciousness returned with the sense of movement. Waking up was difficult, though, far more so than it seemed like it should be. It took several moments to realize his eyes were even open, and then several more to make sense of where he was.

A cargo hold, dark and dreary and not very large. They were on some kind of aircraft, Loki deduced, if only because he could feel them rising in altitude. He was on the floor, head throbbing and chest aching, with his wrists tied together with a strong rope.

There was a shift and a rattle, and Loki was thrown back slightly as the ship seemed to leave Asgard’s atmosphere, hurtling them into the unknown.

Loki blinked rapidly, refusing to let himself cry. He was hurt, and he’d just been kidnapped.

The realization was cold and hard in his stomach. For all the dangers their father had warned them over, Loki had lived a safe life, secure in the palace walls. His greatest hardships were keeping up with his brother and proving his father that he had worth all his own. And Thor was the one who liked battle and adventure. Thor was the one--

Memory jogging, Loki sat up more, turning around frantically for any sight of his brother. It was awkward and tight, but as Loki worked himself to his other side, there was Thor.

His brother was shackled, just as Loki was. He was lying on his back, head tilted away, blonde hair falling in his face. He was still…

So very still.

Heart in his throat, Loki maneuvered his way closer, reaching out with his bound hands. “Thor,” he hissed, too aware that their captors may be close. “Thor!”

Under his touch, the older boy stirred faintly. Loki felt a bit of fear unclench his chest, though the relief was meager in comparison to their plight. “Brother, please,” he tried against, glancing back desperately at their cramped cargo hold.

At that, Thor roused further, his eyelids fluttering. It took time for his eyes to focus, and even when Thor looked at Loki, he seemed dazed and confused. The force of the blast undoubtedly had left its mark, and when Loki tentatively scanned his brother, he could feel the residual magic from the weapon that had been used against him.

“Loki?” Thor asked, the name thick and slurred.

Loki forced his fear back, attempting to smile. For if Thor were injured, what chance did they have? If Thor was weak, who would be strong?

He swallowed. “Finally,” he quipped, hoping the waver in his voice was not as pronounced as it sounded in his own ears. “And Father says that I am the one who is difficult to get out of bed.”

Thor’s brow furrowed. “Loki?” he said again, a bit clearer this time.

“Yes,” Loki said. “We just covered that--”

Thor wasn’t listening to him, though. This time, he sat up abruptly. “The ruins,” he said. “We were attacked--”

He cut off, his face paling as he faltered, almost falling hard back to the ground except for Loki inching closer, using his shoulder to prop him up. “Yes,” Loki said heavily. “An attack from which you are still not fully recovered.”

Thor breathed heavily, shaking his head as he attempted to sit up more slowly this time. “Have you seen their faces? Have they spoken to you?”

It took his self control not to roll his eyes. Thor was groggy and tied up, and yet his mind was already crafting a means of approaching the situation -- likely at his own peril. “No,” Loki said. “I have only just awoken myself.”

Thor looked at him, with concern now. “Are you well?” he asked, sitting up even more and using his bound hands to balance himself. “Did they injure you?”

Loki’s head was still throbbing -- he had been spared a magical blast but the club to the back of his head had certainly not been pleasant. However, he knew his brother’s temper. And truly, they had bigger concerns. “Nothing that will not heal,” he replied honestly.

Thor nodded, taking the answer at face value as he tried to get to his knees, just to falter again.

Loki hisses, reaching out to stabilize Thor once more. “You, on the other hand, were incapacitated with a blast of magic,” he said. “You should relax.”

Thor shook his head. “We have been captured and taken as hostages,” he said, looking past Loki toward the door of their small hold. “I will not relax until that has been rectified.”

“The sentiment is brave, no doubt,” Loki said, his voice hushed. “But we are hardly in any position to do anything. Perhaps it is best if we wait--”

“For Father?” Thor asked. “We do not know what leverage our captors seek to leverage with us. It is entirely possible that they will ask Father to compromise the well being of all nine realms--”

“Which he will not do,” Loki said. “He’ll rescue us.”

“And if they mean to kill us first?” Thor asked.

Loki blanched. “Surely not--”

“They have taken the sons of Odin as a means of bargaining,” Thor said, his certainty betraying his still-pale complexion. “But it is them who will soon find more than they bargained for.”

-o-

Thor was so convincing that Loki wanted to believe him.

But certain facts remained.

“Thor,” Loki said, inching closer to his brother. “We are bound; we are injured. We know not who has taken us or where. We are in no position to mount any kind of offensive.”

“Do not be silly,” Thor said, testing his bonds no. “This is exactly the right position for an offensive.”

“We will undoubtedly lose,” Loki said.

“We have trained with the best in Asgard,” Thor said, wriggling his fingers with a look of consternation.

“For a few years,” Loki said. “Neither of us have seen real combat.”

“But we have the skills,” Thor said. “And more than that, we have the bravery and valor necessary.”

“But we don’t even know how many captors there are!” Loki said, his face flushed now. He did not relish imprisonment, but the idea of suicidal escape was hardly more appealing. “We have to be able to overpower all of them and gain control of the ship--”

“See,” Thor said. “It is not so hard.”

“But you cannot even undo your bonds!”

Thor looked up, flashing him a grin. “Not on my own, I can’t.”

Loki opened his mouth, ready to object. But Thor was smiling; his eyes were twinkling.

He was stupid and brash and hurt.

And Loki found himself unable to say no to him.

Sighing, he said, “What would you have me do?”

-o-

Thor’s plan wasn’t even a plan.

He believed that they should overpower the guards, take control of the craft, and fly back home.

He said it with such certainty that Loki wanted to believe him.

But Loki had his limits.

“That’s it?” he asked, not hiding his incredulity. “That’s your plan?”

Thor shrugged. “Our purpose is to return home,” he said. “If we wait until we are taken from this craft, we lose our mobility.”

“Sure,” Loki said. “But aren’t you forgetting several key details?”

Thor blinked at him.

“Like how we’re going to do all this?” Loki asked.

“Your cunning and my force,” Thor replied.

“These things cannot just happen,” Loki said with an air of exasperation now. “You need to assess your enemy, layout the battlefield, take precautions--”

Thor nodded, smiling. “And that’s why you’re here.”

Loki’s mouth dropped open. “But we’ve been unconscious in a cargo hold!”

“We’ll figure it out!”

Loki groaned, lifting his bound hands to press against his forehead. “This is ridiculous, even for you.”

Thor’s face darkened. “Well, do you have a better plan?” he asked petulantly.

Loki huffed, but said nothing. For the fact was, he didn’t. Loki didn’t have any plan; Loki was still grappling with the overwhelming fact that he’d been kidnapped from his home and taken off for likely nefarious purposes with nothing but a well intentioned and overly confident oaf at his side.

Bravery was a trait for the dead, as far as Loki was concerned.

Cunning was the way of the living.

Pity that one of them was brave and the other could only feign cunning.

If their father didn’t come rescue them, they were as good as dead.

Before Loki could say anything, though, a sound came from the door. Startled, Loki looked up just in time to see a flash of movement as the handle moved before Thor moved in front of him and held his head high.

Loki was still too surprised to object to such babying, and when the figured entered the room, he found himself too numb to speak.

For he knew this man.

From the pages of a history book, a lesson Thor had skimmed over quickly and Loki had tried to go back to. The faces from a war long past, a victory long one.

The face of one who lost, suffering defeat at the hands of Odin.

The man standing, smirking at them now.

-o-

“I am glad you are awake,” the man began, coming in just far enough to the small room for the door to shut behind him. “I was worried we might have been too rough with you.”

Thor’s back was stiff. “If you were truly concerned with our welfare, you would not have kidnapped us.”

The man’s smile was polite. “Do not mistake interest for concern, Odinson.”

Thor squared his shoulders, lifting his head even as Loki shirked farther back. “If you know who we are, then you realize what an error you are making.”

The man lifted his eyebrows. “Judgement has yet to be passed on this endeavor.”

Loki shifted uncomfortably, feeling more unsettled.

“Kidnapping is a serious offense, especially when it concerns the sons of the All Father,” Thor said readily, apparently oblivious to the danger of their plight. Only Thor would prod a hungry predator -- and think it to be a smart idea.

At this, the man’s smile grew dark. “History is written by the victors, though,” he said. “What I do here is not decided until we know who wins.”

Thor scoffed. “You speak as though there is any doubt what the outcome will be.”

“You are foolish in your confidence, Odinson,” he replied. “You should learn to hold your tongue, much like your brother.”

Loki shuddered at the mention, feeling cold as the man’s eyes shifted to him.

He smiled again. “Your brother is too dull to recognize me, but I see a spark in your eye,” he said to Loki. “You know me.”

Thor growled, inching closer to Loki. “Leave my brother alone.”

“Your bravado is almost amusing,” the man commented wryly. “Come, though, Loki. Enlighten your brother. Tell him what you know, and for once I will make him listen to you.”

Thor was tensely coiled, ready to say something undoubtedly stupid. Loki had no desire to engage a madman in his madness, but he also did not relish the idea of seeing his brother talk a criminal into murder.

“You are Clovis, of the Alfheim rebellion,” Loki said, reciting the passage from the textbook almost by word.

Clovis’ face brightened. “Very good!” he said. “Though surely you know more than that.”

Loki swallowed, feeling somewhat emboldened now. “You led your clan against an innocent colony, ransacking their homes and businesses before setting up your own, primitive government. You were executing defenseless farmers when the All Father came to their aid and drove your kin from the land. It is said that you were slain in battle.”

Clovis made a face. “That is but one fact your history got wrong,” he said.

Thor turned toward Loki. “I know not of this battle.”

“It was a relatively minor skirmish,” Loki said. “Our tutors did not stress it--”

“Of course not,” Clovis interjected. “For your history is as skewed and rudderless as the king you serve.”

“You attempted to annihilate a peaceful people,” Loki said. “Odin was merely responding in their defense. Your hardships were brought on by your own ends. One cannot enter war without the possibility of defeat.”

Clovis narrowed his eyes. “Your lessons do you a disservice,” he said. “For they did not mention that we had every right to that land. How the colonists stole it from us and pushed us out, relegating us to the mountains where we knew not how to live. Odin sided with blind conquerors and deemed them more worthy than the land’s rightful inhabitants.”

“You were striving for genocide,” Loki said. “Alfheim was no colony; it had been settled for nearly ten thousand years. Those people were born there, raised and fed off that land. Their history was there, just as much as yours.”

“But our history was crying out,” Clovis said, fist clenching. “Our history demanded justice.”

“Who are you to decide justice?” Thor demanded, wholly unhelpfully.

“And who are you? Who is your Father? But the victors of wars,” Clovis said. “History can tell you lies, and your All Father creates a world by his own choosing. You do not question this because it has only ever been in your favor. But not all of us are so blessed.”

Thor snarled. “He is a good and righteous king,” he said. “Speak his name with reverence.”

Clovis curled his lip. “Or what? What will you do, tied up and defenseless?”

Loki groaned inwardly. It was bad enough to be kidnapped, but now the man was baiting Thor.

As if this day could get any worse.

Thor, true to form, did not seem willing to let it go. “Then unhand me, and we will see what I am capable of.”

“You are a mere child,” Clovis said, flitting his hand through the air.

“And I would still kill you where you stand,” Thor seethed, wriggling in his bonds.

“You are not merely a child, but a pathetic, delusional one,” Clovis remarked. “Your father spoils you.”

Loki pressed his shoulder against Thor, hoping to make his brother listen, to show restraint.

Thor did not notice.

Nor did he show heed.

“Are you afraid then?” Thor roared. “Afraid to fight a child? And you call me delusional, yet you are the one still pining over a speedy loss a millennia ago. Of the two of us, I find you to be the pathetic one. Whatever rights you had to your land were lost for your stupidity.”

Clovis’ gaze flashed. “Be wary, Odinson,” he hissed. “For the benefit of two princes is that you only need one--”

Loki’s heart skipped a beat.

Thor lifted his chin. “Only a coward lobs such useless threats--”

“You can only hope they’re useless--”

“Then prove me wrong!” Thor insisted.

Clovis came forward, his hands clutched together among the folds of his cape. There was a faint glow Loki recognized, and he felt the sudden surge of magic like a cold bucket of water on his head.

The weapon from before, but stronger now and at closer range. It had dropped Thor immediately back on Asgard. This time…

Loki’s stomach turned, the strength of the magic making him sick.

This time, it would kill Thor.

Clovis was a man with nothing left to lose, and he was counting on the fact that Odin had much to lose. So did Thor, even if he did not realize it.

Loki realized it.

By all that was good in the nine realms, Loki realized it.

Clovis shifted, the weapon glinting with blue energy as it was pulled from its sheath. Thor leaned forward, away from Loki as the weapon whirred.

Clovis fought for history.

Thor dreamt of the future.

Loki just wanted to survive this moment -- with his brother, no less.

There was no other choice.

There was no other choice.

The magic built; Thor did not flinch; Clovis narrowed his gaze.

And Loki pulled his strength inward so hard and fast it made him scream until the bonds fell free from his wrists and he was on his feet, taking the weapon in Clovis’ hands. He wrenched it to the side, away from Thor, before pouring himself into it. The blue turned green then surged red, moving back as the weapon imploded, the magic doubling back on its source. The surge spiked, and Clovis’ eyes went wide as his entire essence thrummed with the energy.

Then the weapon went dead, hot in Loki’s cold hands.

He pulled his grip away, and it clattered to the floor, useless.

Only a second passed before Clovis fell after it, dead.

-o-

Loki stared down, shocked.

He had only come to defend his brother; he had only acted to save both their lives. Clovis was not a good man, and he had ill intentions against Loki, Thor, the All Father and all of Asgard.

Even so, Loki had not intended…

His shock turned to horror.

He had not intended to take a life.

He was supposed to be back on Asgard, touring ancient ruins and learning more about his family’s history. He was supposed to be bickering with Thor, practicing his magic, mastering his lessons.

Not getting kidnapped and accidentally committing murder.

From behind him, Thor said, “Brother! You have done well!”

Loki blinked, turning back to where Thor was struggling to his feet. His older brother still looked worse for wear, but he was smiling inexplicably again. “What?” Loki asked.

“You have defeated him,” Thor said, sounding more than a little impressed. “I had not realized your magic was so advanced.”

Brow furrowed, Loki looked back at the fallen form of their captor. “I did not mean--”

“Hush, Loki,” Thor said knowingly. “You did what you had to do in defense your own life and mine.”

“But--”

“But we must act now or this will be for naught,” Thor said, somewhat insistent now. “Loki--”

Loki lifted his gaze again.

Thor held his gaze earnestly. “Please, brother,” he said.

Loki had no qualms with tricking his brother or lying to him when necessary, but saying no to his brother was a near-impossibility.

Especially now.

For Loki did not long for battle, and for once in his life, he did not wish to vie for supremacy.

It was Thor’s turn.

By all the magic in the universe, it was Thor’s turn.

With a shaky breath, Loki lifted his hand. Just like that, the bonds on Thor’s wrist fell away.

“Okay,” Loki said shakily as Thor rubbed his wrists absently. “Now what?”

Thor looked up, almost smiling with resolve. “Now,” he said, stepping forward and taking the weapon from Clovis. “We win our freedom.”

-o-

It occurred to Loki, while they were stealing weapons and charging blindly out of their cargo hold, that they still did not have a plan. As Thor wielded the weapon to down the first set of guards, he realized this was probably still suicidal.

As they progressed, marauders falling in their wake, he thought to stop Thor.

The problem was, however, that it was working.

In truth, Loki wasn’t sure who was more surprised -- him or the marauders, who were falling before children. The only person who wasn’t surprised, of course, was Thor, who charged forward as though this outcome was a given from the start.

It figured. Even the fates preferred Thor, though this time Loki could not truly object. When it came to being a hostage and earning his freedom, he would take the latter every time.

Except something was wrong.

Something was off.

History, Loki realized.

This was history in the making. The things that would form them, that would dictate their future. This mattered.

The outcome would define them. Their victory would make them men.

Or their failure would taint their legacy.

Thor didn’t think about failure, though. For once, Loki was inclined not to either.

Until the last guard in the cockpit anticipated their approach and ducked Thor’s shot. Thor followed up, but the marauder was too fast. He wrested the weapon from Thor, turning it back before Thor growled and lunged. Their bodies were locked, and Loki was too afraid at their proximity to dare try magic to separate them.

There was no time.

The weapon went off -- once wide.

Twice singing the bulkhead above Loki’s head.

The third time into the marauder’s gut.

It was over.

Thor stood, breathless and pale. “Loki?”

Loki blinked, looking from Thor to the marauder. “We did it,” he said, not sure if he believed his own words.

History, he thought, daring to smile.

Until a light flashed in the cockpit and an alarm blared.

“Impact alert. Impact alert.”

Because history wasn’t done yet.

-o-

It was Thor who acted first. He stepped over the fallen guard and made his way to the pilot’s chair, sitting down and starting to flip the controls with nary a thought of how they might function. The ship hissed and shimmied, and Loki nearly fell over before he remembered himself.

Stumbling, he made his way over and took the seat next to Thor, swatting his brother’s hand away from touching another control. “Do you wish to kill us?”

“I am trying to fly--”

“You are not trying very hard,” Loki snapped, looking carefully over the controls before picking out a few of the foreign buttons that looked similar to the crafts he’d observed back on Asgard. “Sometimes a little caution is not a terrible thing.”

“But we are crashing, Loki,” Thor said, just a hint of panic coloring his voice.

Loki gritted his teeth as the craft bounced reckless, more alarms starting to sound. “That is because you killed our pilots!”

“They would have killed us!” Thor objected.

Loki managed to bring up a control panel, showing the specifications of the ship. “The result may very well be the same!”

“Better we die in this manner than as pawns in their game,” Thor bellowed.

“Don’t be an idiot!” Loki yelled. “Death is death, and if you think there is glory in piloting ourselves into the ground--”

“I can see the ground,” Thor announced, pointing out the window. “Is that--”

Loki’s stomach flipped, the white landscape unmistakable. “Jotunheim.”

“There would be no better place to hide,” Thor observed.

“It is also an apt graveyard,” Loki grunted, tapping through the configuration and wincing at failing systems in their uncontrolled free fall. They were too fast; they were too low; and the hull had been compromised with the errant discharge of the weapon.

With more time, the descent could be stopped. With more skill, the fall could be reversed.

They had neither.

They were two boys, far from home, and the ground was coming up too fast.

“Loki,” Thor said, his voice low and strained. He looked to Loki.

Loki looked back, the apology inherent in his eyes. He could do many things; Thor could do many more; but neither of them could do this.

Sometimes history was inevitable.

All he could do was hold the controls back and hope for the best.

(While always suspecting the worst.)

-o-

It was white.

Glaring and vast, the snow was crisp with ice, creaking and cracking as the brittle expanse broke into a million pieces.

On Asgard, history was built into the building, laid like goldwork on the walls. It was everywhere, vibrant and warm even on the coldest nights.

Here, though. History is frozen, immortalized in solid ice and covered with layers and layers of snow. Perfectly preserved, but no one dared to come close enough to learn it.

On Asgard, Loki thought of history as rich and full, stretching back into the blackness of the dawn of time.

Here, it buried him alive, suffocating him with its truth of things he didn’t know, things he didn’t want to know.

Here, it was white.

-o-

Loki’s eyes snapped open, and he inhaled sharply. The air was brisk, and he could feel it burn in his lungs. His body was bruised and sore, and when he shifted, his head wound flared up. His face was pressed up against something hard and metallic, and his body was twisted and smashed, his legs and arms positioned awkwardly against what he could only determined to be the floor and wall.

It hurt, and it was uncomfortable.

At least he was alive.

Given that they’d just crashed their ship on Jotunheim, that much had not been a given.

From behind him, Loki heard groaning. Something shifted, and the entire cockpit shuddered violently, letting in a fresh gust of frigid air.

“Loki,” Thor’s voice came. “Loki, are you well?”

Suppressing a grimace, Loki started to untangle himself. Every movement hurt, and he realized he’d been tossed about in the crash, and he was pressed beneath the flight controls. He struggled against the mess of wires and the bulk of the pilot’s chair, trying not to cry out while his wounds protested.

“Loki,” Thor said again, more urgent now. There was the sound of footfalls before the chair shifted in front of him. Then, with a mighty roar, it was gone and there was a loud ruckus as it crashed to the ground on the far side of the cockpit. In its place was his brother.

Loki squinted up, swallowing painful. “Thor?”

His brother looked grim. His blonde hair was disheveled, and there was fresh blood running down the side of his face. His tunic was torn and stained red, though Loki found he could not recall how much of that damage had been incurred in their kidnapping.

Thor, however, did not seem to notice. Instead, his gaze was fixed intently on Loki. “Have you been injured?”

Loki groaned, rolling his eyes as he extracted himself from the tight spot. Thor reached down, hefting him up and steadying him even while Loki shook his head in disgust. “We crashed,” he said with an air of annoyance. “You needn’t ask such stupid questions.”

“Fine,” Thor said, the words clipped. “Then tell me how are you hurt.”

Loki blanched at that, but he quickly saw no point in denying it. Not with Thor. “Bruised and sore,” he admitted, even while his brother’s strong hand steadied him still. “But remarkably well, all things considered.”

Thor smiled. “Your work at the controls made a difference, I believe,” he said. “You are proving quite useful in battle; Father will be pleased.”

Loki snorted, pulling away somewhat. “You sound surprised.”

“It is untested ground,” Thor said. “It is not what I had imagined, though. Is it for you?”

Loki hesitated, for he knew not. He read the stories in the books, of glory and battle, and he had craved the celebrations only. He had dreamed of his own name, emblazoned in gold, and the stories people would tell children at night.

He had not dreamed of battle, though. He had no dreamed of marching on the enemy or defending the greater good. He had not dreamed of taking up arms or casting down those who would take his life first.

He had never craved this.

He wanted only to go home.

Looking away, his jaw tightened. “This is not battle, Thor,” he said, nodding toward the shattered window of their craft. “This was a kidnapping.”

“Which we thwarted,” Thor said, chest puffing out. “You with your magic and your cunning. Me with my brute strength. We are unstoppable!”

Loki gave him a sideways look. “You seem to be forgetting a few relevant details.”

Thor looked positively uncertain as to what Loki was referring.

Loki sighed, gesturing toward the window. “That we’ve crashed,” he said. When Thor merely blinked at him, he jabbed his hand harder. “On Jotunheim.”

Thor finally looked toward the window and nodded. “Then this is a battle and an adventure,” he said resolutely before turning and winking at Loki. “Let us make it one for the annals of history!””

-o-

Thor was enthusiastic.

Loki was less so.

He was hurting and he was tired and he was stranded on Jotunheim in a foreign ship.

Worse than all that, it was a ruined ship.

Loki shook his head, prodding the buttons again. “The entire thing is dead,” he said with a sigh. “I can’t even get a signal out of it.”

Thor frowned seriously, looking over the control panel before smacking it forcefully.

The entire cockpit rattled and the snow shifted outside.

“Excellent,” Loki said dryly. “Because crash landing on Jotunheim isn’t fun enough, maybe we can cause an avalanche for our recklessness.”

“Recklessness did not bring us here,” Thor responded.

“And it certainly will not get us out,” Loki said.

Thor’s frown deepened and he let out a heavy breath, a puff of smoke in the thin air. “Which is why I want to leave this place with all due haste.”

Loki made a face, ignoring the dull throb in the back of his head. “This is Jotunheim, in case you have forgotten,” he lectured. “Did you not read what happened to the Asgardian soldiers when they fought here? More died of hypothermia than any wound.”

“Which is why we cannot stay here,” Thor said. “This ship is dead, you said it yourself.”

“It has no communications or life support, but it is a shelter,” Loki argued. “And for all we know, Heimdall has already seen us and Father is on his way.”

“There is no easy path on Jotunheim, and this ship is imbued with magic,” Thor said.

“It is still safer--”

Thor shook his head. “Do you not feel the chill? It aches already down to my bones.”

“All the more reason to stay,” Loki insisted.

“To stay here is suicide,” Thor said, his voice rising in the settling snow as he pulled himself to his full height and loomed over Loki. His body tensed, fingers tightening into fists.

Loki startled at the suddenness of it, for his brother was brash and harsh but rarely so with him. There were few times he had incurred Thor’s wrath, and Loki realized for the first time that Thor was still pale, the starkness of the blood on his face plainly visible.’

More than that, his brother was shivering.

Strongest and mightiest of his peers, Thor was cold.

Chagrined by Loki’s lack of reply, Thor withdrew, blinking rapidly. “I am sorry, brother,” he said, softer now. “But I can feel the cold taking hold already. If we stay here, if we are still, we will both perish before the day is done. That is a risk I will not allow us to take.”

There was no reason to suspect Thor of lying or even manipulating the truth. His brother was many things, but clever was not one of them. And the cold was written all over his face, showing on every feature and the minute trembling of his body. Funny, Loki could not feel it the same way.

He had been a bit preoccupied.

“Thor,” he said, more gentle himself now for when his brother was emotional, responding forcefully tended to go poorly. “With the wind and the exposure to the elements, it is dangerous. Here we have shelter--”

“And no means of warmth,” Thor said, his eyes pleading now. “I cannot sit idle, now more than ever. I do not want to die here.”

“So you would die out there?” Loki asked. “On the fields of Jotunheim?”

“I would die fighting, brother,” he said, earnestly now. “With you by my side.”

Loki would rather not die at all, but Thor had a point. They had no guarantee of safety either way. And history favored those who acted, not those who waited idly for their fate.

History was made.

And today the sons of Odin would make theirs.

Wearily, Loki nodded. “All right,” he muttered. “But if you start to freeze, I will leave you to the ice. No regrets.”

Thor grinned stupidly. “You are not as good of a liar as you may want to think” he said. “I think you would miss me greatly.”

Loki grunted. “That doesn’t change the fact that you are stupid.”

Thor reached out, his cold fingers tousling Loki’s hair. “Come now,” he said. “We have a long journey ahead of us.”

-o-

Thor’s confidence was easy enough to follow, and as they went about the ship, Loki was able to envision a scenario in which this course of action may not end in disaster. For they had weapons and provisions, and Loki even managed to find some warmer clothing and a few packs.

“They were at least well prepared,” Loki commented, feeling a bit bitter.

Thor happily pulled on a cloak before stuffing another bit of food into his pack. “They are all dead,” he said.

“But look at their supplies,” Loki said. “They thought this through.”

Thor pulled the pack onto his back. “Again, brother, they are dead. History does not bode well for them.”

Loki pursed his lips, adjusting his own oversized cloak. “And you think it will be better for us?”

Thor nodded readily. “I have every confidence,” he said.

Loki sighed, picking up his pack. “Somehow that does not make me feel better.”

-o-

Thor’s confidence meant nothing, though, when they stepped outside. It was a perilous climb out, for the ship had been partially submerged in the ice. Loki struggled to get his footing, slipping onto his backside once before he managed to make his way out.

On the outside, Loki was sore and hurting, squinting into the sunlight, which glinted almost painfully off the ground.

And around them was a sea of white, a frozen bed of snow and ice that stretched for as far as the eye could see.

Suddenly being taken against his will didn’t seem so bad.

“I would venture to remind you that leaving our only shelter here could have devastating results,” Loki said as a cold wind flitted through his hair, lifting his cloak and brushing it across his legs.

Thor inhaled deeply, settling his shoulders higher even as he scanned the desolate landscape. “Come,” he said. “We should move while we still have light.”

With that, he took a step out across the ice, the snow crunching under his heavy boots. He traveled several paces before Loki sighed and started to follow.

-o-

In most physical arenas, Loki was used to be second rate to Thor. His brother, after all, was everything a young Asgardian should be: strong, capable, stout. He never wavered, and his physical prowess far excelled Loki’s own. He was not so much able to admit that as he was completely unable to deny it.

Yet, on the vast plains of Jotunheim, Loki finally found some even ground. Thor did not slow or hesitate, but his pace was slower than normal, and Loki found his long legs easily keeping stride.

“It’s not as bad as I thought,” Loki said, lifting one foot gingerly to avoid breaking through the top layer of snow.

Thor’s heavier step made such efforts moot, and he huffed as he looked at Loki with a smile. “Are you admitting that I was right?”

Loki smirked, taking another step forward ahead of his brother. “We are not out of here yet.”

Thor trudged behind him. “I have never seen anyone so in want of calamity.”

“You are the one who wanted to leave our safe shelter,” Loki reminded him.

“This is Jotunheim,” Thor reminded him, his grave voice accentuated by the garish sight of blood on his still pale face. “There is nothing safe that emanates from this realm.”

To that, Loki had no argument.

Even as his stomach panged with fear.

-o-

They traveled on.

The wind was rough against his face, but Loki hardly felt it. He breathed heavily, but kept his feet light, finding that he could outpace his brother with this tactic.

Thor, for his part, did not slow. He moved ahead with determination in his blue eyes, even as the frost collected on his golden hair.

They stopped to eat late in the afternoon, and Thor hardly waited before devouring his portion. Loki thought to lecture him for his carelessness -- they might need to ration -- but his brother looked so desperate for food that Loki found he could not begrudge him that.

Instead, he picked slowly at his own meal and squinted out across the landscape. “We are not far from nightfall,” he said. He nodded to the distance, where tall mountains had just started to appear as a smudge against the horizon. “We will want to find shelter.”

Thor swallowed, drinking greedily even as the water turned to frost on his chin. “We will continue until the light is gone,” he announced.

Loki nodded. “You know, I think from the maps we are on the Eastern Plain,” he said. “Those mountains may not yet be in reach, but I suspect we should be hitting some of the rocky foothills soon.”

Thor grunted, shoveling another handful of food into his mouth. “I care not for geography, brother.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “Yes, but with rocks there will be caves,” he said in exasperation. “With caves, we can find shelter. Unless you plan to travel all night.”

Thor looked at him, too dense to be chagrined. “I think we both need rest,” he said. “A cave sounds very appropriate.”

Loki hummed a little to himself, finishing another small bite as he looked back from whence they came. Their tracks across the snow were the only visible sign of life. Even their crash site if far behind them. “Do you ever consider what it was like?” he asked quietly. “I always thought Jotunheim to be desolate.”

With a small chuckle, Thor nodded to their surroundings. “Do you think it not so?”

Brow furrowed, Loki studied the expanse once more. “It is cold and wind blown, but it is not desolate,” he said thoughtfully. “It is merely a different kind of life. I think it could be beautiful in its own way.”

“Nothing good has come from this place,” Thor said decided, before taking another drink of his water. “And I cannot leave it behind soon enough.” He stowed his provisions and pulled his pack again. “Come, we must make haste.”

Loki sat for a moment, quiet as his brother collected his things to leave. He felt numb, somehow.

He told himself it was just the cold.

-o-

They traversed the next section in relative silence. Loki found his tongue strangely idle, and Thor was so focused on moving that he did not seem interested in conversation. Loki was able to reflect, after all, they had been through much in the last day. Was it only this morning that their mother scolded Thor’s manners at the table? That their father had lectured Loki on his training?

Was their tutor alive? Had Heimdall seen them? Would rescue come? Perhaps they could spend the night in their own beds, tucked safe and warm on Asgard. The journey had gone well so far, maybe Thor was right.

Loki looked at his brother’s back, watching as Thor took determined steps forward. Thor did not doubt; perhaps Loki had no cause to either.

Maybe everything would truly be okay.

-o-

The ground hardens as the sun drops, and Loki feels the rock beneath the ice. He kept his footing light, even as Thor started to skid, and Loki found himself amused.

“Jotunheim does not suit you, brother,” he said. “It favors the light of foot, not plodding oafs like yourself.”

Thor grunted, trying to retain his balance over a slippery incline in the foothills. “Only monsters are suited to this realm.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Loki said. “Father fought and won here. The history tells nothing of him slipping.”

Thor growled. “You said it yourself, history is selective,” he muttered, skidding again with a cut off curse.

Loki chortled gleefully, treading easily over the ground. “If that is what you must tell yourself.”

-o-

It did not seem so long when Thor finally stopped, just as the sun disappeared behind the mountains. He made no preamble when he dropped suddenly, sitting heavily on one of the rocks.

Loki paused, not certain if his brother was ready to stop or simply taking a rest.

“Here,” Thor said gruffly. “We stop here.”

-o-

Loki picked out a rock of his own with due haste, and then took off his pack. With his magic, he made a quick tongue of fire, putting it between them on the ground. As a wisp of magic, it offered no heat but the dancing light was helpful as Loki set about finding something to eat.

With his lighter lunch and their long walk, Loki found himself rather hungry. He deftly took out a portion of his provision, taking several bites before he realized Thor was still sitting idle.

He frowned, looking at his brother curiously. “Hesitation? With food?” he asked. “I believe that is something I have never witnessed before.”

Thor inhaled raggedly, but he did not lift his head.

Loki’s stomach churned, his own food momentarily forgotten. “Thor?” he asked. “Are you all right?”

With another shuddering breath, Thor finally lifted his head. The long strands of his blond hair were tousled and loose, some falling over his eyes. Other locks were still matted to his head by the blood, which was dark against the pallid hue of his skin.

Pallid was an understatement. In the wan light, Thor was colorless, his normally ruddy complexion sallow and stricken. His eyes, normally vibrant and energetic, were dull.

“Thor?” Loki asked again, reaching out. When his finger brushed against Thor’s shoulder, he could feel the shaking, even through the layers of his cloak. “You’re freezing.”

Thor nodded, letting out a puff of air. “Not as bad as I might have expected for Jotunheim,” he quipped, but his voice was thin and quiet. He offered Loki a small smile. “I just need a moment.”

It was a surprising admission of weakness, not only because his brother often seemed impervious to physical limitations. But because Loki had not felt the cold this strongly yet. Yes, the cold air was evident, but the icy gusts did not numb him. If anything, it felt invigorating in his lungs. Thor looked truly horrible; Loki felt more upbeat than usual.

“Perhaps the blast from the magic affected you more than we realized,” Loki ventured thoughtfully.

Thor’s brow furrowed. “Do you not feel it too?”

“Of course I do,” Loki said. “But I do not feel as drained as you do.”

“Magic?” Thor asked, a bit slower than usual. Thor wasn’t as clever, but he wasn’t exactly dumb -- at least, not this dumb.

Loki pressed his lips together in worry. “Or we could simply attribute it to my mental fortitude,” he said. “I always did tell you that the mind was more powerful than the body.”

If the barb landed, Thor showed no sign of it. Instead, he clutched his cloak tighter, pulling in on himself as the wind whipped around them.

“Here,” Loki said, scooting closer to open Thor’s pack. “You always feel better after you have eaten.”

Thor watched him but made no attempt to move until Loki had unwrapped his provision and offered it up.

Then, Thor lifted his hand heavily, his fingers clumsy as he reached for it. The exposed skin brushed against Loki’s, and Loki found himself shuddering.

“You are like ice!” he exclaimed.

Thor took the food. “Everything is ice here,” he said, slowly lifting the food to his mouth and taking a bite. “If the realms fall, it will be by ice, brother. Mark my words.”

Loki retreated back to his seat, eating his food with more reservation. “There would be worse ways to perish.”

Thor grunted. “No,” he said, taking another hard-earned bite. “I think not.”

-o-

Dinner was quiet. As the light vanished, the winds picked up, making Loki’s small flame bounce and waver before snuffing it out entirely. He considered making a new one, but it was late and Thor was tired.

Thor was exhausted. His normally stalwart brother was almost docile, and when Loki suggested they sleep for the night, he did not offer any objection. He even allowed Loki to lead him just a ways off to a small outcropping, where a ledge would protect them from the worst of the wind.

Still, the rock beneath them was like ice, and their cloaks too meager. The packs beneath their heads made for awkward pillows, but there was no better option.

Loki watched as Thor settled down, his body laying heavily on the ground. His eyes were shut almost instantly, and Loki had not had a chance to lay down himself before his brother’s breathing deepened with sleep.

Thor often slept heavy, and he often slept fast, for Thor knew nothing of worry. He knew nothing of thought or angst; he did not stay up at night, wondering how to make life better. He did not struggle to prove himself, and lay plagued by doubts of who he could not be. For Thor, life was so easy.

No wonder he thought all things possible for him. He had never faced hardship before.

True, Loki lived a charmed life as a Prince of Asgard, but he knew what it was to work hard and gain little. He knew what it was to be lesser than his peers, and to know he was left wanting. Often, he had envied Thor, not for his brutish countenance or his simple reasoning, but for how easily he was accepted.

Here, though, that privilege was stripped away. Here, his brother is weak and needy.

Loki had always thought such a shift would be welcome.

But there, on the frozen fields of Jotunheim, Loki could not feel glad.

In fact, he knew not what he felt as he lay down close to his brother, curled up and went to sleep.

-o-

The wind was like a lullaby; the cold air the softest blanket. Loki fell asleep fast and hard, and in his dreams he saw victory like those he’d read about.

Only instead of Thor standing triumphant, instead of his father’s jubilant conquering, Loki stood atop them all, glistening like freshly fallen snow.

It was the best sleep Loki had ever had.

NEXT

Comments

Posted by: Lena7142 (lena7142)
Posted at: December 24th, 2013 05:42 am (UTC)

Eeeeeeeee this is amazing. You're amazing. I adore you. Young Thor and Loki! Being brotherly! and in peril! With hypothermia!!!

You're awesome.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: February 9th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
thor hair

Yeah, I'm a bit slow here. But thank you :) Writing for you makes me happy.

2 Read Comments