It was dark aboard the ship. Darker than Thor had anticipated.
It had taken them perhaps the length of three days, first to realize that they had neglected to allow for nightfall, and then to find that there was a control on the vessel, that – when activated – regulated itself with the approximate length of days, and dimmed the lights of its own accord at what would have been the setting of the sun. They'd had only the sleeping patterns of the children to guess by. None of the adults had had the time to rest or regain themselves since they'd boarded.
It had been – to their best reckoning – three days, but this was only the first 'night' they had experienced.
Food had been found, and lodging, of a sort, for the people. They rested as refugees, sharing cloaks and food, leaning one against another, children in their mother's laps, all finding places of their own amidst the remnant of their people.
Finally, all had been settled, and Thor found that there was at last no other thing that begged his hand.
"Go," Heimdall had smiled at him. "Rest," he'd said, "And I will keep watch." He turned his head away, looking out with his golden eyes on the stars and galaxies that sprawled out before them.
After a moment, Thor had nodded his head. He patted the Guardian's shoulder. "Thank you, Heimdall," he'd said.
And he had gone to what chambers were his own.
He had protested, at first, that he should sleep alone and have rooms to himself when his people were so inferiorly bedded, but Heimdall had counseled him that, just as it was not good for a people to see their king bleed, so also it was not always good for them to see their king sleep. And after a moment's thought Thor had seen the wisdom in that and he had allowed it done.
He met few on his way to his rooms in that first dark. Most were asleep already, exhausted by grief and by trial.
In the silence and sudden seclusion of his own rooms, Thor found he could not rest. He paced in the space that had seemed so vast only days ago. He removed his armor and cast it aside. He sank down into a chair, and he waited for rest to find him.
Impatiently, he got up.
Finally, he left his rooms, shutting the door softly behind him, and he stole out into the darkened halls.
He did not knock when he came to the door, and when he opened it, Loki did not turn, though Thor knew he was aware of his entrance. It was as though both of them had known he would come.
The first time Thor had come to find him here, perhaps the span of two days before, he'd been adjusting to the failings of his new scar, and he'd run his shoulder against the doorframe.
Loki had grinned at him.
"Not a word," he'd growled.
"Did I tell you yet how magnificent it makes you look?" Loki had asked.
And a large part of Thor had wanted to laugh.
Since then, he had become more accustomed to his own utter lack of depth perception.
And this time, Loki did not turn to greet him.
His rooms were toward one of the back edges of the ship, so that the view out of the wide paneled windows opened out to show the stars as they spun out and away behind them.
Loki stood, staring out of the window with his arms folded.
Softly, Thor came across the carpeted floor to join him. He positioned himself so that Loki was on his visible side. He'd made the mistake once before, and had been gently reminded why it was not good to have Loki nearby, yet out of sight.
Loki made no move, and his face was very blank.
Folding his own arms, Thor followed his gaze. The absolute depth of the void spilled out beneath them, with only the paneled glass between them and it. And the stars without were living, writhing globes of light.
The ship dragged forward. It left no sign of its movement among the stars. They only continued to flow by the windows, and to get farther, and farther away. All with the eerie silence of the dead. The only sounds were those of the ship itself, and those were both subdued and rare.
Silence hung over them like a shroud.
"It's gone." Loki murmured.
The silence had been so absolute and the words so softly spoken that Thor was unsure if he had heard them at all. "What?"
"All of it," Loki said. He gave the slightest shake of his head, gripping his forearms, "It's all just… gone."
"Did you expect it to end differently, when we unleashed Surt?"
At another time, Loki might have taken insult at that. He might have turned it to one of his games. Or he might have laughed. But now, with the night hanging its rich folds about them, he only bowed his head. "No," he said, after a moment, "I didn't… But…" he looked again out of the window, and in the weird light of the stars, Thor saw the glint of tear tracks on his face.
The night offered certain allowances that daylight refused.
"But Asgard was always there to go back to, before," Thor supplied. He smiled softly.
In the dark Loki looked at him. Thor did not turn his eye from the stars, and, after a startled moment, Loki only nodded his head, and he turned back to face the glass.
Thor drew a long breath, "Asgard ceased to be my home long ago."
Silently, Loki asked explanation, and reluctantly, Thor continued. "When Father banished me, I thought of nothing but my return. I knew that if I could only get home, all would be well," he said. "But that wasn't…"
Loki wasn't looking at him anymore. His mouth was a slash in his face.
Thor swallowed thickly, hugging his arms, "It wasn't the same. It was a symbol of all that had been, and it continued on…and I," he stopped himself. "That was why, after I lost you on Svartalfheim, I could not stay. Without Mother, without you," he inhaled, "there was nothing to come back to. And I couldn't – I couldn't do it again."
Loki didn't look at him. "If it's any consolation," he whispered, "I had no idea what I was doing."
Thor hesitated, "To…me?"
"Alive." Loki answered. "I," he faltered, "I didn't expect it when I woke up," he smeared the heel of his palm against his cheek, "on Svartalfheim."
Thor didn't know what to say. He stood, and he looked out on the stars.
"You don't miss it, then?" Loki asked.
"As the place where I grew up," Thor answered softly, "yes. But for itself," he shrugged half-heatedly, "I mourned Asgard long ago."
"Where there many lost?"
"She killed Asgard's hosts within the first hour. Fandril, Hogun and Volstagg," he paused, recalling their faces, "…among them. Beyond that," he shifted his feet, "I have yet to tally up the living and the dead."
Yet to tally them, name them, feel their loss. Grief was sometimes a thing slow in coming, and he was grateful for the respite.
"Perhaps it's best we don't," Loki suggested.
"And let them be forgotten?"
"And let them know peace."
Thor looked at him for a moment, then nodded his head, more in understanding than agreement.
Beside him Loki drew a long breath and blew it out. "What will you miss most?" he asked.
There was the hint of a smile in his voice, and the night felt so like the old days, when they had been no more than boys, brothers, and nothing yet had come between them, that Thor gave a soft laugh, "The waterfall," he decided, "that little one, way off on the third island to the north. Father took us there once, when we were very young."
Loki smiled thinly. "Wasn't that the day he tried to teach us to fish?"
"We had many of our first adventures among those islands," Thor smiled at him.
He thought of those times, of the sun warm on his skin, of how happy and innocent he had truly been. He felt them like a phantom's touch.
Loki looked out at the stars.
"I'll miss Mother's gardens," he said then, softly. "And the dunes, where she would take us when we were children." He turned to Thor, "Do you remember them?"
Thor felt the soft picking of tears. He let them fall. "I remember them," he said.
The smile in Loki's eyes faltered and fractured and slid.
"I didn't…" Loki looked away. He took a breath. "I didn't mean to hasten his death," he said, finally, eyes fixed on the glass. "To bring about…this."
"He knew that," Thor answered at length.
Loki looked at him without really turning his head. Thor saw the fresh tears running from his eyes.
Thor glanced at the ground, then, deciding, he raised his head. "As do I."
He smeared the tears off his own face. "I think," he said, "That was actually the closest I ever heard him come to telling you he was proud of you."
Loki jerked a laugh behind his hand.
Thor let himself smile.
Nodding his head as he gathered himself, Loki let the hand fall, "That sounds like us," he said. He wiped his face with his palm.
"He was prouder of you than he let you know," Thor said.
Loki's mouth tugged up in the corner nearer him, "You sound like Mother," he said. He hugged his arms.
"Well," Thor smiled, "one of us should. We're all that's left of them now."
His heart failed him a little then. Between one moment and the next, Thor remembered all that had passed between them. The love and betrayal and redemption they'd both enacted, one upon the other.
He'd lost mother, father and home, and he didn't quite know how to vocalize the sudden dropping fear that blossomed in the pit of his stomach.
Instead of speaking, he put out one hand and gripped Loki's shoulder.
Loki glanced at him. Then, reading him like he always could, Loki softened. He moved and let Thor drag him into an embrace.
Neither spoke, and the gesture lasted no more than a moment, but it was enough.
They stood together, and they watched the stars recede behind them as the ship bore them further toward what Thor hoped would be a welcoming new home for his people. A new start.
And he was happy in that moment, secure in the knowledge that whatever came next, for now at least, his brother stood with him.
They had a second chance.
I know I should be working on other things. Promise I'm working on them. This just wouldn't leave me alone.
I had intended this to be a one-shot, and it may remain as one, but I just as easily may add to it - as a string of PTSD/post-Ragnarok one-shot stories that will have no connection to one another. It's just easier to have a story to dump them in. Thor and Loki did not do what I expected them to in this fic. I expected something more violent. But this is what I got. So, we'll see what we'll see.
Thus far I've only seen 'Ragnarok' once. After I see it again I will probably have new thoughts.
Oh. The title is from a Bastille song. Originally the story was gonna have more connection with the lyrics than it does have. Further reason for me to elaborate with this fic, I guess.
ALSO. As I was writing this one, I started reading sxmmy's fic I Thought the World of You. And chapter two handles this same kind of scene SO WELL, I'm kinda jealous. I haven't gotten past chapter 2 yet, but they are SO worth the read. So find it. Read it. Review. It's awesome.