Okay, so, I have no idea why I wrote this. The only explanation I have is that I'm a glutton for heartbreak, and I can't stop myself from indulging in it from other writers and, apparently, from myself either. You've been warned. This story does contain major character death.
Please let me know what you think, and thank you to everyone who takes the time to read.
Do You Remember the Stars?
"Do you remember the stars Loki?"
He had asked his little brother, when he was nineteen years old, and he twenty-five.
"Do you remember the stars?" He had asked, when Loki could no longer speak.
When he was too weak to sit up on his own. Too weak to lift his head from his pillow.
And Loki had looked at him, eyes rolling back to find his face, and Thor could see he saw him. Could see he had heard. Even if Loki was too weak to even smile. Too weak to give any response beyond.
And so Thor had smiled for both of them, even as his throat had constricted so painfully, he could barely swallow past it. He had smiled at Loki, and held his skeletally thin hand in his two massive, strong ones, squeezing tightly, but not too tightly for fear of hurting his little brother.
He thinks how stupid that was, now. He thinks how stupid, when Loki could not have been more hurt than he already was.
And Loki had stared up at him, Loki had watched him as Thor smiled, and told Loki of long past memories of their childhood.
As he had told Loki of his memories, of Loki holding him by the hand and staring up at him, as he did then, and smiling bright, and begging him to come outside so they could look up at the stars.
Memories of laughing, and nodding, and letting Loki take him outside. Of how Loki would pull him down onto the grass of their front lawn, and lie on his back, and tell Thor to do the same. And Thor would. And Loki would tell him about the stars.
He would show him the constellations, and tell him all the names of the stars, tell them which galaxies they belonged to, tell him their stories.
And Thor remembered wondering how it was a boy so young, so, so young could know so much.
How such a little boy could have a mind so burning bright.
He had asked Loki if he remembered, and Loki had looked up at him, eyes dry and red, for he no longer had the strength to cry, and Thor had squeezed his hand between his own, massive strong ones, and Loki hadn't looked away.
And then Thor had bent down, and pressed his lips to Loki's forehead. He had pressed his lips to Loki's cheek. And Loki had kept looking up at him. He hadn't looked away.
And Thor had known then.
He had known it wouldn't be long.
He had known.
And so he had gotten down off the chair he sat in, and gotten down on his knees, and he had rested his head along the pillow, next to Loki's, so Loki wouldn't have to use what strength he had to lift his eyes.
He had laid his head next to Loki's, and looked into his little brother's face. And Loki had looked back.
And Thor had said "I love you Loki.". He had said "I love you little brother.".
And Loki had been too weak to talk. But he had looked at Thor, and Thor had known he understood.
Thor had known, if he could, Loki would have told him he loved him too.
It had been three years when he got the call.
Three years since he'd spoken to Loki. Since Loki had found out by pure accident he wasn't really his brother. Not by blood. Wasn't really the son of Odin and Frigga.
Found out Odin had lied to him his whole life, and he'd had a massive falling out with all of them, and left home for good, he'd said. Left home, and moved away, and none of them had known where he'd gone.
Three years since he'd spoken to his baby brother, but Thor thinks now that whatever rift that revelation had seemed to cause had, in truth, been building for years before.
When he thinks now, and remembers a distance between them, when Thor had graduated middle school, and Loki, prodigious and brilliant, had followed him into high school, and Thor had made new friends. And with those new friends, Thor remembers, he had forgotten his little brother, the two of them once inseparable.
He remembers now, pictures of Loki calling out to him in hallways, and he not sparing a glance his way. Loki coming to him during lunch break and trying to sit with him, be with him, and Thor saying not a word to him at all.
Loki coming to his room, wanting to sleep in his bed, afraid of the night, and Thor remembers… he remembers telling him he was a baby. Telling him to stop crying and leave him alone. Until finally, Loki had.
Thor remembers. Thor had forgotten him, and Loki had grown withdrawn, and distant, and eventually absent, so that Thor saw him hardly at all.
So that by the time Loki had discovered his adoption, it was almost as if the two of them knew each other only as strangers, and Loki had left home, and Thor hadn't thought to go after him.
He'd told himself he didn't care.
He had been a man. He'd had a life.
What Loki did with his didn't matter.
And then, three years after, he had gotten the call.
His mother over the phone, crying into the phone, telling him Loki was sick.
Nineteen years old, and Loki, his little brother, had cancer.
Thor had flown from California to New York that day.
He'd dropped everything, and he'd come back home.
And Loki had been there, and he'd been smiling.
And Thor remembers how he'd laughed, and shrugged when asked about what had happened.
How Loki had said to him, "I don't even feel sick.".
How he'd told Thor not to worry, because he was going to beat it.
"I'm going to beat it Thor." He'd said, and he'd sounded so sure. He'd sounded like he knew. And Thor had believed him, because Loki was so, so smart.
Because to Thor, it seemed like Loki always knew everything.
But those days had passed, and with them, Loki had grown less.
He had grown thinner, and thinner, already so small his entire life.
He had grown frail.
So frail, until he could no longer walk on his own. So frail, he'd been confined to a wheelchair, and it had been Thor and Frigga and even Odin who had started needing to take him to use the bathroom. Who had taken turns, when Loki could no longer lift himself up, and sat him the bathtub, and washed him.
Like a child. He'd had to be taken care of like the youngest of children.
And at first Loki had been so angry. He'd been so awfully, viciously angry, screaming at all of them to leave him alone, insisting he could do it, insisting he was strong enough, that he didn't need their help.
And when he'd driven them away, forced them to let him go and step back purely through his rage, they'd watched as his arms had shaken near uncontrollably in just his effort to sit up straight. How tentatively he touched his bare and swollen feet to the floor, and Thor had had to look away.
He'd had to look away, for his inability to stand it. And he thought himself a coward.
Loki, his brave, sweet, strong little brother. His little brother, who was then so frail, he could barely sit up.
And then Loki had fallen.
He had fallen to the floor, and it had been Thor who rushed forward, as Frigga had gasped in dismay and turned from the sight, sobbing into her hands, and Odin had stood, stiff and hard, face lined in unspoken agony, arms crossed over his broad chest as he watched.
It had been Thor who rushed forward and dropped to his knees. Thor who had lifted Loki under his shoulders and cradled him, and Loki had turned his face away and sobbed.
And then he had grown frailer still.
So frail, until he was down to ninety pounds, and he couldn't even sit up anymore. When he couldn't make it to the bathroom anymore, and he'd begun to pee in his bed. And Loki had wept about it.
Until they no longer could handle him at home, even when he'd cried and begged them not to put him in the hospital.
When they'd weeks since given up on chemotherapy, because the doctors had told them it wasn't working, and Loki didn't want to go anymore. He didn't want to go.
And they'd managed a week more before they put Loki in the hospital, and Thor and Frigga stayed with him.
They took turns staying with him.
And then one day, not long after, when Loki couldn't sit up anymore, when he couldn't even lift his head from his pillow anymore, and his once silverquick and clever tongue had been reduced to naught more than monosyllabic speech, he had told Thor he was afraid.
"I'm scared Thor." He'd said in a whisper. "I'm scared."
And Thor had held onto his hand, and he'd swallowed painfully against the knot in his throat, nodding, blinking hard as his eyes stung with thick tears.
"I know Loki." He'd said to his little brother. "It's okay." He'd said. "It's okay to be scared."
And Loki hadn't said anymore after that.
Thor can't remember if he'd said anything again after that at all. If he'd ever spoken again.
He can't remember now, and he wishes he could.
He only remembers, in the days before, Loki's voice had finally left him completely.
He only remembers his little brother, too weak to say a single word, and how he had sat by Loki's side, and held his hand, and spoken to him instead.
Spoken to him of their childhood. Spoken to him of better days. Happy days. And Loki had watched him as he spoke. Loki's eyes had never left his face.
Until one day, he'd woken from falling asleep at Loki's side, holding his hand in his own, massive strong ones, and Loki's eyes were on him. Loki's eyes were on him, but they didn't see.
They didn't see.
And Thor had known then.
He had known Loki was gone.
And he had sobbed as he hadn't since he was a child himself.
He swallows now, sitting on his knees, thick fingers kneading the tufts of grass below him, dry and dead with the winter months coming.
He swallows back the tears in his throat, and glances up at the name across the granite stone.
Glances at the dates beneath.
"Loki Odinson" it says. Nov. 21st 1993-Oct. 8th, 2013
He reaches out a wide palm, and presses it to the stone. Fingers splaying over the name of his little brother.
"Do you remember the stars Loki?" He asks. "Do you remember the stars, little brother?"
It is only the wind which whistles to him in response.