Boltedfruit Archive

Falling

Published: 2021-07-17

Category: M/M

Rating: M

Words: 1,462

Fandom: Thor

Ship: Thor/Loki

Characters: Thor, Loki

Tags: Alternate Universe – Human, Astronauts

Summary:

Anyone else and there would have been mistakes.

 

He never allows for it. He can’t.

 

Not when it comes to Loki.

Author's Note

This one lands in the chunk of writing I did from 2014-2015.

The first time it’s two weeks. Simple repairs. He’s back with hardly any tissue damage. The recovery is quick and Loki’s eyes shine a little brighter. His smile is a little wider, as he considers the possibilities.

 

“You were right, Thor. You were right, brother,” Loki tells him, as soon as they’re in their own bed together again.

 

Thor smiles, easy and unafraid.

 

The second time is a month. Thor hardly sleeps and he wakes with his heart racing, sheets soaked through with sweat from horrible dreams. Dreams where he can’t hear Loki. Dreams where Loki falls, endless. Dreams where Thor fails to catch him. He spends more hours at work and sees more sparks bounce off metal hulls than he does sleeping. Loki’s words echo in his mind, repeat through his dreams, and it’s nearly too much.

 

The third time it’s three months since he’s seen Loki.

 

Three months of eating alone and sleeping in an empty bed. It’s a little easier with each day.

 

One secret he keeps is that he always rumples the blankets when Loki is gone. That he hugs a pillow and one of Loki’s jackets to his chest to trick his mind into sleep void of nightmarish wanderings of endless black and silence. To trick himself into thinking that Loki is there, in his arms, scent still clinging to his cold pillows and sheets.

 

Three months of staring up at the sky and wondering.

 

It’s been three months and he has to wait another four hours before Loki is cleared fit before Thor can go in to see his brother.

 

Three months and Loki can barely lift his arms, body confined to a wheelchair, and Thor has tears in his eyes and a grin on his face. Tired, thin, and weak, but alive with his fingers twitching for Thor to come to him.

 

Thor hears his name on Loki’s tongue, soft, just as Thor bends down to hug him, and it’s worth the time spent apart.

 

 

Thor works long hours, and he’s busy almost constantly. His rank and allowance of a team gives him the freedom to the keycodes to the facility he works out of. He builds engines.

 

He worked on the boosters that shot Loki up into the sky and it’s why he can fool himself into sleeping peacefully most nights these days. He knows exactly what it is that Loki is strapped to, what is propelling him and his team ever upward. He knows his math is never wrong, and that his calculations are right.

 

Anyone else and there would have been mistakes.

 

He never allows for it. He can’t.

 

Not when it comes to Loki.

 

 

Each time Loki comes back Thor takes care of him. Each time Loki is a little weaker. A little more sick. A little less himself. But his eyes glow with the memory of starlight and sometimes Thor can see him just looking up into the sky. Gazing. Wondering.

 

Thor never asks what it is he sees.

 

He just knows that he never sees the fear. Not anymore. 

 

Each time Loki is more amenable to Thor’s affections. He allows Thor’s hugs in the morning, his easy kisses throughout the day. He doesn’t like sex right away, once he is well enough, and so Thor is happy to wait. Loki is always quiet for a week or two after he returns but he always seems to want Thor’s arms around him, his hand on a thigh, or his cooking at the very least. They cuddle. They bathe together. They watch movies and lie together on their couch, back to belly and listen to music.

 

Loki calls his name in his sleep, panicked, and Thor is always there to wake him, to soothe him.

 

He doesn’t ask Loki about his dreams and Loki never tells him, but Thor can guess.

 

Falling is a terrible thing.

 

 

The last time, just before Loki has to leave, his gaze is dark, heavy.

 

It’s been twelve years since Thor has seen fear in his brother. Twelve years since that first night. Something ancient replaces it now, painting over it, like reverence to a forgotten thing. Reason forgone in the face of black, endless absolute might. Something like awe, only now it seems rotten and housed in a ruin.

 

“Loki?” Thor asks him. He tries to convey in his tone that he’s worried. That it doesn’t feel right.

 

Loki blinks once and turns his back to Thor slowly, looking out the window. He has to leave in an hour. In the morning, Thor will watch the news as Loki shoots off into the sky.

 

Then, so quietly, “It doesn’t feel like the other times.”

 

Thor swallows hard. Something has shifted and Thor feels a shiver rake through the fine hair over his arms, his neck.

 

He goes to Loki and Loki is distant, off. He sways, loose-limbed and eerie as he stares off at some point over Thor’s shoulder as Thor embraces him. The sigh that leaves Loki is mournful to Thor’s ears. So slowly, Loki allows his head to fall along Thor’s shoulder, breath gentle.

 

His arms come up around Thor but it isn’t how it should be. His touch is light, controlled. Loki’s thoughts are somewhere else entirely.

 

They drive to base. Loki doesn’t respond to Thor’s goodbye, instead giving him a strange, confused look. Like he doesn’t know what to make of it. Like he doesn’t understand the hard waver in Thor’s tone. Why it’s there in the first place.

 

“I—” Thor tries, after an odd pause. But the words fail him and so he bites his tongue hard. He tastes the sour tang of blood and feels the pain of it only after Loki drops his gaze, switching it instead to the sky.

 

Each time Loki looks up into the sky, the wonder is replaced by a small darkness. If Loki looks up and can count to two million stars, then it’s only fair he counts one more for each and every shadow.

 

The wonder is replaced by resignation.

 

By resolution.

 

By drive.

 

By ancient, ruined exhaustion.

 

 

Thor thinks that each time Loki comes home, he loses a piece of himself upon reentry.

 

Something finite that burnt up in the atmosphere. An infinitesimal piece of debris, lost to the orbit of their planet.

 

He thinks each time Loki forgets that his home is here, with Thor, and not left behind to the far reaching stretch of space, the flickering light of pulsing stars.

 

Thor feels like he’s watching Loki lose himself to that impossible wonder.

 

He feels forgotten.

 

 

Once, the night before Loki’s first launch, he’d whispered something to Thor. Something quick and anxious and too much the little brother Thor had grown up with.

 

“It’s stupid, but I keep thinking of every sci-fi film I’ve ever seen.”

 

Thor had laughed. “And what exactly are you thinking of?”

 

Loki buried his face in Thor’s neck and to Thor’s shock, he felt warmth roll over his skin. Tears.

 

“That the sun will burn us up. That I’ll lose my tether, or it will snap. That I’ll fall out of orbit because I’m too careless with my thrusters.” His laugh is weak as Thor smoothes his hands over his shoulders.

 

“I’m being stupid. But it’s always that I fall. I always fall in my dreams.”

 

Thor took a deep breath. “It’s like first day of school nerves. Anxiety is good. You have a reason to be afraid this time. It’s scary shit. But nothing is going to go wrong; they haven’t had an accident in decades.”

 

“I had a dream two nights ago the shuttle exploded in takeoff.”

 

Thor had squeezed him. “Bullshit. I helped build it. It’s not going to explode.”

 

Loki wept quietly against his neck as Thor shushed him, soothing him with soft sounds and caresses of his hands. Loki’s arms had come up to settle over his chest, his fingers winding tight and clinging in his long hair. Thor turned over to settle against him, belly to belly.

 

Thor had kissed him firmly and smiled. “I helped build the monster that’s going to carry you up there, and then carry you back. To the ground. To me. I’ll be right there with you, every moment. I’ll deliver you back home, in one piece.” Loki had shaken his head, eyes wide.

 

“I’m afraid, Thor,” he’d said.

 

Thor held him.

 

“You’ll fall in love with the stars. There’s no reason to fear them.”

 

Loki let out a broken laugh and asked why. Asked, how could he possibly know.

 

Thor’s answer was quiet and sure, and it soon had Loki calm enough to slip into his last night free of the lure of space.

 

“Because I know you aren’t afraid of me.”