Boltedfruit Archive

Fire Sky

Published: 2021-07-17

Category: M/M

Rating: M

Words: 2,621

Fandom: Thor

Ship: Thor/Loki

Characters: Thor, Loki

Tags: Post-Apocalypse, Alternate Universe – Human, Angst with a Happy Ending

Summary:

It began with a flash of light.

Author's Note

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

The sky is on fire and Loki’s hand is cold, crushed in Thor’s own. Loki can’t keep his fingers from giving away the nervous twitch of his pulse, too fast, flighty.

 

Behind him, Loki is saying something but he cannot look back for long. He cannot hear what his brother is saying, what anyone is saying. Just this constant, cacophonous whirl of sound, chaotic and burning in his ears, scrambling thought and making his throat go dry.

 

Thor chokes on his words, every one, and squeezes Loki’s hand tighter as he fights through the swarming crowd for both of them.

 

There is a mass of people ahead, forcing them to pause for a split second as they decide which way to shove through next. Which way is safest.

 

There is a moment, just one. A lull in the chaos.

 

Loki’s soft sigh of breath reaches through the din, through to his ringing ears.

 

When Thor turns to see what Loki is staring at, he sees a woman on fire.

 

Her children are screaming.

 

 

Thor wrenches Loki forward so hard he thinks he must shock his brother’s shoulder. Loki’s small cry of pain only drives his theory.

 

He doesn’t want his brother to see such misery.

 

 

It began with a flash of light.

 

They’d been barbecuing in the backyard, drinking beer and talking about school when the sky lit up like a bulb twisted too tight. Thor saw Loki’s skin reflect pink, then red, then it was gone. The sky gone black even though it was only early evening.

 

Thor laughed to Loki, elbowing him when Loki couldn’t take his eyes from the sky. It was a joke, come on, don’t be so cowardly. Just a little lightning…

 

They finished cooking, ate their food, and went to bed in their shared, tiny home.

 

 

The next day, the sky lit up again, but this time it reflected swimming lines across the ground, across building tops. Like a bubble or, or—

 

“It’s like sitting at the bottom of a pool,” Loki told him, staring up into the cloudless day.

 

But the sun was still shining, so it was still just a joke.

 

Thor felt like he was walking in a dream.

 

 

It took four hours for the air to stink with ammonia.

 

He saw Loki tying one of his scarves around his face, covering his mouth. When he saw Thor, he hurried over to do the same to him.

 

Thor shook his head. “I think I still have some face masks from a couple months back, when you got sick, remember?”

 

Loki had frowned at him. “Already checked, we threw them out.” Thor allowed Loki to cover his face.

 

Loki had stared at him, those impossible eyes too wide and frightful for Thor to fully recognize he was looking at his brother.

 

He looked like he knew what he was doing.

 

 

Loki is pulling back, trying to turn around, or go another way. Trying to do the opposite of what Thor is. Thor is trained forward. He must continue on. He has to, or they’ll die. He’s done this before, he’s bled for crowd control before. He has the scar on his side to prove it.

 

Thor knows they must keep looking ahead, for if they fail, if they turn back, it will be death they see. Pain. Terrible things.

 

Thor’s gone through a war already, he didn’t come back to see his brother kill himself.

 

When he pulls Loki again, Loki wrenches away. Thor feels his heart plummet, too fast, too flickering, skipping—

 

“Loki!” he screams over the blood frenzy rush of the fearful crowd. Bodies are pressing in on him from all sides, panic, anger, fear of the greatest kind. Parents losing their children, lovers separated by frenzy, and siblings torn apart by prying arms. Arms that lead to fingers who only want so desperately to reach their own family.

 

Thor is thankful Loki is nearly tall as him, and so when he searches the crowd, he sees Loki’s head clearly enough. He’s being pushed back by the surge of bodies. He’s being lost.

 

And Thor can see in his eyes when they land on Thor’s that he didn’t mean to tear away. Didn’t mean to let go.

 

Didn’t mean to lose each other.

 

But Thor knows the way a crowd in a panic can go. He knows they’ve already stepped over fallen bodies, people trampled to death in the rush. They want only to escape the fear, the threat.

 

But how can you escape a sky falling down on you? These great burning embers. Cloud-bits on fire, catching on your clothes, your hair, everything and everyone you know, too terrified to focus on the ones you don’t?

 

“Concrete! The buildings!” he tries to yell, but Loki can’t hear him. It’s too much all at once.

 

Then Loki is yelling back to him, and Thor can read his lips. Loki is shouting Thor’s name.

 

Then the mass of bodies moves and Loki is pulled under.

 

The thing about surviving is that you never expect to be alone for it. You always think you’ll have whoever is closest to you. Your parent, your sibling, your lover, your child.

 

The ones who expect to be alone are maybe the best prepared of all.

 

The most terrible of people.

 

 

Thor sees them over the years, the ones who’ve survived. The ones who always knew. The ones who learned quick, kept their heads above the floodwaters. Thor feels like he’s been treading water for what seems a decade, head barely above the waves, towering as they are.

 

It’s hard to find them, at first.

 

They hide well. In corners, in the dark, in the spaces between floorboards. They know where to keep scarce and where is the most easily accessible.

 

Thor learns from them. From his run-ins with others, few though they are.

 

 

Thor kills someone for shelter, once.

He doesn’t sleep for eight days and he wonders constantly for the first time in a long time where his brother is. Hopes he’s dead.

 

Hopes Loki’s been dead for a long time. Hopes that he never had to see this.

 

See what the world became.

 

 

When they were little, Thor would often catch Loki collecting insects. Studying them, staring at them for hours and filling up his sketchbooks with wonderful drawings of them

 

The years went by, they got taller, Thor shaved for the first time, his brother dated around and made a reputation for himself, they got in and out of trouble and had their family name known well within the local police department for delinquency and mischief.

 

Thor noticed it slow. Almost too slow. His brother went from drawing delicate things to picking them apart. Ripping the wings from creatures of flight rather than admiring them for days on end, wondering at their small might.

 

Thor hopes Loki died before the world could become him.

 

If Loki is alive, Thor is afraid of what his brother would do, has done. Of what Loki would be capable of doing.

 

 

Thor dreams often of his brother’s face, cast in shadow and stained with small dots of blood. The spray of night-terror bright in the dark against his hollowed cheeks.

 

Loki still cries in his dreams.

 

 

He braids his beard. Feels old, too old for his thirty-something years on the planet. Feels too well fed for the situation the world finds the human race in.

 

He feels like he’s serving some ancient purpose, some historical birthright. Walking around with a nicked sledge hammer and sporting braids to keep his hair neat and clean as possible, away from his face and mouth.

 

Thor wonders what Loki would look like.

 

 

Thor sees them often enough. They look old, older than they must be.

 

People with scarred faces, burnt flesh having healed over years before. The skin a wrinkled, pink mosaic of rigid flesh, molded. Left behind from the first days, when the sky still fell.

 

Now, the sun is dangerous. He feels like some creature of the night, avoiding beams of light.

 

Doesn’t feel so out of place when he sees others clinging to shadow, like him.

 

The sun is a dangerous thing now.

 

 

Fires still crop up here and there. Thor will come across whole fields painted black, burnt up and ruined. Trees fallen and long ago turned to ash. The world waiting to fall apart.

 

He’s in some part just north of his home state, driving some old gas guzzler to forage abandoned homes, when he sees a man flanked by two others. Women. One is naked and pregnant.

 

They aren’t talking and Thor watches them for a long time, just walking into the fields like they are. He doesn’t realize he’s gripping his hammer tight until he has to blink away tears.

 

He can’t save anyone anymore.

 

He keeps driving.

 

 

Thor wakes to metal clashing on cement. He knows the echoing clang before he even sits up fully. He sleeps in a warehouse, alone, away from the other hideouts he’s discovered. He’s made them over the years, spotting the signs of human life. He never wanted to raid others, hurt others. He simply wanted to survive. He doesn’t really know why.

 

But when he blinks it’s someone standing there, in his home. The home he hasn’t ever let been found by anyone else. No one has ever thought to house in such an empty, wide space. No place to hide if it came to a fight; for food or anything else.

 

And he has to hold himself up with his arms because his legs just went numb and his throat has gone dry, too dry. Too dry for words.

 

Thor is staring at him, at how he looks like he wants to flee almost. He has a scar curling from his throat to up along his jaw and it looks awful, healed but incorrect. Scarred and re-scarred.

 

His hair is longer. He has a close-clipped beard hugging his face. He looks so different, but the same too.

 

Then Loki drops his crowbar and is collapsing to the floor.

 

 

Thor’s legs scream at him as he wrenches himself to standing, stumbling and nearly falling as he runs to where Loki is lying unconscious. He’s still breathing though, and that’s enough for Thor.

 

He hauls him up, gripping him tight around the shoulders and chest and pulls Loki into his lap, cradling him where he sits. He sobs and Loki’s breath brushes his face.

 

 

Loki is only asleep for a few hours. Thor counts them in his head, he’s gotten very good at it. It’s the only thing that’s kept him sane, but he still misses some hours. He feels like he misses entire years sometimes.

 

Loki looks older. He has little lines around his eyes, his nose. Thor spies thin creases around his mouth and he wants to scream. Wants to cry out for the years he missed, the years he wished his brother dead, rather than live through this nightmare.

 

Part of him is thankful he was wrong, that Loki is alive. That they found each other again, inexplicable and wonderful. But he knows the world and what it’s turned into and now he thinks Loki knows it even better than he does.

 

Loki always was the faster learner.

 

 

When he wakes up, he stares at Thor for a long time. So long, that Thor only realizes he’s been holding his brother in his arms for hours when Loki reaches up and wraps his arms around Thor’s shoulders. When Loki buries his face in his neck and Thor feels his skin go wet.

 

He almost asks if he’s still dreaming.

 

“I’m sorry, Loki, I’m so sorry—”

 

Loki cuts him off by kissing his neck and making a wounded sound. He lifts his head, presses his forehead to Thor’s. Thor feels lips touch his own and then Loki’s shuddering breath, relief. He’s sobbing now and Thor doesn’t know what to do with him. He just keeps holding him, keeps squeezing him, hoping it’s some comfort.

 

Not a dream, then.

 

 

Loki is content to sit on Thor’s makeshift bedroll and watch Thor as he goes about living. He makes Loki eat, is allowed to go through Loki’s small backpack of things. He has a pair of scissors and Thor boggles.

 

“Want a hair cut?”

 

Loki just keeps staring at him, like he doesn’t really hear the words. Thor moves to sit behind him and gathers long inky strands up, separates the sections as best he can. He feels like a child again, playing with his brother’s hair.

 

Thor ends up forgetting he’s holding the scissors. When Loki speaks, he notices he automatically made two small braids starting at the base of Loki’s skull.

 

“I was saving them,” he says, so soft.

 

Thor suspects. It’s in the lingering pause after his words, his voice too low, too dazed to mean anything not sinister.

 

Thor feels anger flare, desperate and much missed inside him for too many years.

 

“No,” he snarls, grabbing Loki and whirling him around. He takes Loki’s neck in his hands, shaking him mildly. “Never that. Don’t you dare, after living through all this. Don’t take yourself from me again.”

 

Loki’s eyes slowly widen. Then he’s smiling, something manic, something sick. He’s looking at Thor like he’s insane, someone he doesn’t know.

 

“I’ve tried, tried so many times. But it never worked, never worked in the slightest. What is that supposed to say about me? Too dumb to kill myself, too smart to let the sky do it for me. Too smart to avoid the others who hide in their dirty bunkers.

 

I have nothing.”

 

Thor’s hands move to Loki’s face, his cheeks, fingers sliding over eyebrows, over the mess of Loki’s hair. He’s holding him as close as he dares and he doesn’t know why it makes his heart race like it does.

 

“It’s been seven years, Thor.” And Loki’s voice catches.

 

He had assumed something around ten.

 

“And we lived through it. Found each other again.”

 

Loki nods, eyes far too large. “Yes, I suppose we did.”

 

That draws a sudden, choked off laugh from Thor. Loki grabs at Thor’s waist, moves to his knees. He closes in and Thor lets him.

 

Loki kisses slow, sucks at his lower lip until Thor feels his pulse quake. Loki squirms into his lap, straddling him. He’s warm, warmth and pressure and Thor hasn’t felt anything close since this all started.

 

They’ve never done anything like this. Thor can’t tell if this is something new, pushed to the surface out of too much time spent alone in their own heads, or something much older. Something edged out through relief and survival and desperation at having each other again.

 

Loki breaks away and Thor doesn’t panic, not like he should. Loki moves to mouth along his jaw, feeling Thor’s beard with his lips, his tongue. He presses a dry kiss to Thor’s cheek, then skips down entirely to Thor’s neck.

 

Thor leads him back up, bending down and asking for his mouth. Loki seems more eager to meet him this time, and he licks into Thor’s mouth, finding Thor’s tongue and sucking. His hands are everywhere, all over his back, and in his hair, pulling, squeezing and tugging.

 

Eventually, Loki slows, they both do. Then Thor is just holding Loki, hugging him as close as he can. Loki is fingering his hair, undoing braids that Thor forgot he left in.

 

“You don’t have nothing,” Thor says. He hears Loki’s sad, small sigh. “You have me. You’ve always had me.”

 

Loki’s voice drifts in the warehouse, echoing just enough to feel off.

 

“Yeah,” he murmurs, slow. Then, “You’re my brother.”