Random oneshot I wrote today for no particular reason other than the fact that my contact lens in my left eye has been giving me major problems, thus I was inspired to write this. Normally I don't publish oneshots on FFnet anymore unless they're very very edited/revised but I kind of felt like sharing this one. Enjoy!
And here they are again.
There had been legends of eternal battles. Of wars that foolish kings struck that lasted until the sun died and the earth fell apart. Their mother had told them of this legend in the dark folds of nighttime, and all this time they thought it an allegory. A metaphor about the consequences of hatred and the other darker sentiments. Nothing to be taken literally; nothing to be feared.
Yet here they are, fighting the hopeless battle against each other, striking blow—blow—blow—blow—
Thor fights with his storms, his lightning and thunder that frighten children until they weep—the cruelest crime.
Loki fights with fire and ice, with nature's teeth and tongue.
They leave scars on each other. Some of them will heal on the surface in time. Others are stains on their pallor, which stretch and sting without warning at night and discolor their dreams into nightmares, but that ache is little compared to the sting of emptiness in their stomachs when they look upon it with waking eyes and pained memories.
This is nothing new.
Thor no longer cries for Loki to listen to reason, to come home, to lay down his arms and let Thor be his brother again. Loki has long stopped listening.
(Maybe Thor has long stopped loving)
Loki fights—again, he does not remember why. He doesn't remember if he is angry, if he is threatened, if he is just bored, if it is either fight Thor or fight himself and the latter would be a sure defeat.
All he knows is that there is always something to fight, something that needs to be defeated, something that leaves Loki running away in fear and pain because it will never leave him. Striking against Thor is as close as Loki can get to feeling as if he can truly protect himself from everything.
The heavens and earth scream in agony. The brothers leave gaping wounds on Earth's skin until she bled flames.
The Avengers are nothing compared to the two gods whose battle was set the moment they were declared brothers. Loki does not know where they are, if they still fight or if they stand in awe of the wrath of the son(s) of Odin.
Thor's hammer comes frighteningly close to Loki's head and reminds Loki once again that Thor will no longer try to miss. Too many battles of staying his hand has made him weary.
Fire consumes, stretching through the gaps. It builds walls, builds cathedrals, builds jails.
Loki throws a dagger. Thor stumbles—his guard falls and Loki does not hesitate, does not stop and think, does not cry yield.
Loki gathers his flames, his unfailing power, and brandishes it forth until it lashes out against his brother with savage hunger.
Thor falls back at Loki's blow and Loki almost smiles.
Thor falls to his knees and he lets out a scream. Loki holds up his thirsty knife.
Why does Thor clutch his eyes? Burns cover his torso, his arms, but he nurses his head like a dazed child. He is shaking, lips contorted in a silent cry. He blindfolds himself with his palm. Fire surrounds him, wolves preying on an unfortunate soul.
Loki would scream, Get up, you bastard! Would have laughed. But he stops when Thor lets out a choked cry. The knife disappears from his fingers.
He watches Thor, watches his big brother press a shaking hand against his eyes. Beneath the soot and ashes and gruesome burns, he weeps blood.
Loki feels cold and realizes just how very far his fire had reached, digging its claws into Thor's face and destroying his eyes.
Thor, someone is screaming. One of the humans. Thor. Thor. Thor.
Thor, he whispers.
Thor rises on unsteady feet, a hand still over his eyes. Blood is seeping between his fingers. He faces not Loki, not anyone, and his grip on his hammer shakes. He breathes in smoke and exhales fear. Fear.
Thor, says Loki. Stop this weakness. Stop this playacting.
He almost steps toward Thor, who sways like the flapping flames. Thor's screams are guttural and send chills into Loki's chest.
The fires shudder and Loki releases them from his control. They laugh and dance around him, taunting, saying, look what you made us do.
Look what you made us do.
He doesn't remember if he had lost control.
Thor lowers his hand, lowers the bloodied hand from his face, and Loki runs before he could see.
Before he could see that Thor could not.
It does not surprise Loki that Thor is rendered blind.
The good doctors, after understanding that they could do nothing, spoon out the shriveled eyes from his skull and leave empty sockets. Thor's face is wrinkled with burns and scars, his hair is singed off, his cheeks are sunken.
Or, Loki imagines so. He has not seen Thor since, and he knows that Thor has not either.
We'll find something, says the humans, with soothing hands and soothing words that make the darkness no softer. They and their painful optimism and their familiarity with temporariness. We'll find something.
Loki knows they curse him in their minds. They shake their fists to a wrathful god and swear nonbelief. And perhaps so. He has blinded Thor, after all. He expects little else.
In the darkness of his solitude, Loki tries to smile. Now, he tells himself. Now Thor matches Odin in even more ways. Idunn's apples do not fall far from the tree.
But in the darkness, where he hides, where he lies in wake from Asgard and Midgard and every other living creature that exists in the universe, he runs a finger over his eyelids, feeling the marble bump of his eyes. He grazes a finger over his eyelashes. He opens his eyes—and blinks. Darkness upon darkness within darkness. His eyes adjust and they see the ceiling, the walls. The corners. Empty phantoms along the floors.
It is no less than what Thor deserves, thinks Loki with gritted teeth and chilled breath. He who should have been blinded from his own glow ages ago. He who had been blind for many a century when Loki desperately needed him to see his hurt. He who had once loved Loki, and stopped.
When Loki fights the humans again, Thor is absent. He nearly forgets why.
He cannot quite put a finger on why he flooded the bay until waves rose and toppled bridges. Cannot really give an answer why he tried to drown the mortals, as deities seem oft to do. He can say, however, that it reminds him of cleansing, of washing away stains from armor and leaving a worse mess.
When the mortals fight him, they strike with so much anger it is as if Loki has already killed Thor and they reek with vengeance. Perhaps he might as well have.
He remembers how Thor was the only one who never looked upon him with hatred. Perhaps hatred comes not from the mind or the heart, but the eyes.
Sometimes Loki thinks he can hear Thor's cries in the night when he is supposed to be sleeping, can hear the thump of Thor's foot when he bumps into a corner he once learned to avoid, of the crashes when he falls and for all he knew he could have fallen into a hole in space and down, down, forever because it was so black and he saw no end to it. His brother never liked falling, and Loki knew Thor would be afraid.
He has done Thor a favor, Loki tells himself. Life is hideous, and if Thor thought the world beautiful, Loki saved him the disappointment before he could take a closer look.
When Loki lets himself in the sun one time, alone and invisible until even his shadow cannot find him, before he could be chased away from his own reflection, Loki remembers the golden prince and tries to laugh, because the golden prince could not even see his own gild.
Blindness is a blessing, he thinks. In darkness, skin could be blue or brown or polka-dotted and it makes no difference.
When he sees one of the mortals—the woman assassin—out in the open, he is half tempted to ask how Thor fares.
She spits in his face. For some reason, he wonders if Thor ever visited his mortal woman again.
Perhaps she is beautiful, and Thor will eventually forget that.
Blindness is a shelter, Loki thinks, when he sees his reflection on a broken mirror, how it splays across the cracks and blatantly shows the phantom face Loki fears the most. He does not dwell on the bruises along his eyes or the dried blood down his cheek, but on the hollow and deadened eyes that stare challengingly at him. There is no need to fear the dark when one could never see.
He cuts himself on the fingertips and watches the blood run down his hand. He wonders if Thor ever cries in pain, or shame, or in mourning now. If Thor can still cry at all.
Perhaps grief comes not from the heart or the mind, but the eyes.
It is nighttime when Loki finds himself here. When Asgard blinds itself with sleep. Only the stars keep a watch over the people like loyal servants, never blinking, never turning away. They almost soften the darkness.
He wishes he did not come, but he knows that is a lie.
The room is empty, save one. Thor is on the bed;. Loki cannot tell if he ever moves from it. The blankets are worn and Thor's limbs are wan. The sheets are heavy and Loki wonders if the others had tried burying Thor and performed the funeral rites already. What good is a blind warrior, a sightless king?
There is no bandage over his face. The scars remind Loki of Frost Giant engravings on their skin.
He steps forward, silent, barely breathing. Watching his older brother sleep. If he is not always sleeping in the first place, because at least in sleep he can still see his dreams.
In the dark, he cannot see tear tracks.
Look at me, he whispers. He almost laughs.
Thor makes no move. It is almost impossible to tell if he truly sleeps when he can never open his eyes.
Look at me, says Loki. He reaches and gently turns Thor's head on the pillow towards him. The empty eyelids are flat and reddened. Why nature did not grace eyes with bones as shields, Loki does not understand. Perhaps sight was never meant to stay.
Loki shakes his head.
Fool, said Loki. You are defeated, for once. I have beaten you—I have beaten you, and only I can see my victory. You are not dead, and yet you are defeated. You can live with your shame—your darkness.
Eir cannot reverse the damage of magic not hers. Loki can see the remnants of her magic attempts along the corners of Thor's eyes. They gathered like tears.
Darkness, says Loki. Golden prince, with your endless riches as the sun smiles upon you, as blessing shines out your every pore. This is darkness, you see. You see.
He kneels next to Thor's bed. If Thor would wake, would he be tempted to open his eyes? If he should wake, would he know Loki was here? Or could Loki hide in both the darkness of the night and Thor's personal blackness? Could Loki hide at all?
This is the darkness I know, that I see and live and breathe, whispers Loki. Don't you see? This is the darkness of the Void that I have died and resurrected in. Of my mind.
He grips Thor's wrist and half expects Thor to blearily open one eye and give Loki a lazy grin, just as he did as a child. Did he even smile, anymore, if he could not know what it looked like?
Thor, says Loki. Thor.
Look at me.
(There was only once when Loki did not hate his reflection, and that was when he saw it in Thor's eyes)
He almost convinces himself that Thor is already dead, and that he should run, run before others find him and bind him and secure him in a dungeon so dark and so cold that he thought himself blind, until his mind painted monsters more terrible than anything he could ever see—
This is the darkness I know.
He places two fingers on each of Thor's eyelids. He remembers battles, for some reason—an image of when his father bent down next to a fallen soldier, whose eyes were still gaping in death and yet saw nothing, how his father slid shut his eyes with two fingers. Loki never understood why, because such a small act could not hide the death so blatantly evident.
They are empty pouches under his fingertips—that which breathed in images were gone from his skull. He wonders if memories come not from the mind, but from the eyes.
Look at me, look at me, look at me, and the burns smooth down beneath shaking fingers. Loki quakes in his place, sight blurring as tiredness floods him. He waits for Thor's eyelids to swell underneath his magic, for his burns to crumble away and leave the fresh familiarity Loki recognizes. But Loki cannot tell. It is nighttime, and far too dark to tell.
Look at me again, thought Loki, and he asks himself—finally—what difference it makes.
He remembers how once, Thor looked upon him with tears welling in his eyes, how he once said, come home.
(stars burn and fall, fall into the Void)
When Thor wakes the next morning, the sunlight from the window is so strong it burns his eyes.
When Thor wakes the next morning, he blinks the morning dew from the corner of his eyes, eyelashes crusted with dried sleep.
He gives a cry, he rises on wobbling feet, he runs a large hand over an unscarred face. His fingers graze the corner of his eyes and he knows he recognizes the magic. It is like a signature, a lingering scent—a scar, how recognizable that magic is.
He turns to the mirror in the corner of his chambers. He hangs behind, afraid of what he may see, before he braces himself and steps in front of his reflection.
He cannot stop crying and he is afraid to look away.
When Thor wakes up the next morning, his eyes are green.
Loki finds himself curled on the forest floor of a realm he does not remember. It smells like Alfheim, but could easily be Vanaheim. Maybe even Midgard. He let the folds in space take him where it would. He cannot recognize it.
It must be raining. He is cold and so very tired. There is something wet on his closed eyelids.
He breathes in the scent. This was Vanaheim indeed. He knows the smell of the dew, the grass. He can hear rain falling in the familiar creek. It reminds him of Frigga; her face swims in the haziness of his mind and flakes away into shadows.
He wonders if it is night, and tries to feel the burn of the stars from the sky on his skin. He only feels very, very cold.
He rolls onto his back, arms outstretched on either side. He digs his fingers into the wet soil as if that could latch him onto the memory of faces he could not see, onto solidity, and keep him from falling further, further, further past Yggdrasil's branches, past the Void, past his mind.
Rain is crying on his face. Loki wonders if the sky has eyes.
He laughs, because he cannot tell.