A short story follows in response to a prompt in LJ's Norsekink:

So, you know that scene in the movie where Thor throws Loki out of the flying ship without any warning? The one that's played for laughs?

Instead of Loki just brushing it off, he is heavily triggered by such a sudden and unexpected fall. He flashes back to falling from the Bifrost and falling through space (where word of god says he went through tons of shit before the events of the Avengers). When Thor and Jane join them, they don't find a Loki ready with a quip, willing to lead them to Svartalfheim. They find a Loki who is either going through a full blown panic attack or a Loki who is almost catatonic while reliving that moment.

To make things even worse, all of Asgard is still on their tails.

Same Difference

Thor couldn't deny a bit of vindictive glee at Loki's shout of alarm, giving way to a cry of panic as his brother was propelled out of the ship into the open air. I thought you liked tricks!

On the floor behind him, Jane was shaking her head, trying to pull herself upright. "Don't worry, just hold onto me," he urged as he scooped her into his arms.

Groggy as she was, she sucked in her breath and squeaked, "Wha - what're you - " when she saw them heading for the open door.

"Another ship awaits us," he assured her. Rather than give her time to process it and become truly afraid, he jumped. In the time it took her to gasp, they plunged down onto the deck of Fandral's skiff.

Jane blew out her breath little puffs against his neck as she looked up at the now-abandoned Svartalf vessel, still pursued by Asgard's sentries. Fandral was laughing as he piloted the skiff for the cover of the mountains. "I see your time in the dungeons has made you no less graceful, Loki!"

"Let's go!" Thor ordered, glancing briefly at his stunned brother on the deck before turning to settle Jane on a seat.

But then... "Uh, Thor?"

He looked back. At the tiller, Fandral was frowning. Loki had not risen, nor even moved from where he'd landed by the look of him, slumped on the deck. "Loki? No, stay," he cautioned Jane, feeling her still unsteady from the Aether's power. She sat back against the seat, and he turned his attention to his brother.

"I didn't think he'd hit his head, though he landed rather hard," said Fandral apologetically.

"Probably just winded. Come on, Loki, we - " Thor went to shake him and froze. He'd expected to find Loki limp, struggling to get his breath back if he'd come down wrong, but his brother's body was utterly rigid, and shaking so hard and rapidly that he seemed to be vibrating. "Loki!"

The skiff lurched as one of the other sentries worked out their gambit and returned; Fandral swore and veered them hard into the mountains. Thor shook Loki's shoulders furiously. If it had been anyone else, he would have been worried. How like Loki to insist on playing ridiculous games at a moment like this. "Stop this stupidity! You agreed! Get up and help us!"

"Thor - " Jane's question broke off in another gasp as they swerved again, and when Thor looked back, her eyes were clouded with the Aether's power. Damn, damn, damn!

Why had he ever thought Loki was trustworthy in anything? Especially with Frigga gone - it was like a white-hot lance of his own lightning to remember that - what reason had the God of Lies to aid them or do anything other than make their aim as difficult as possible. He shook Loki harder and slapped him full in the face. What was the trickster doing? Just dissembling or was this some magic in progress in the glazed, vacant eyes and stiffened limbs?

"Our mother trusted you!" he bellowed. Loki paid it no notice.

The universe was awash in red and black... dark and stifling. Jane drifted in the dark with no control over her limbs and no purchase for her feet. Time - time had no meaning, nor space... she was on the ship but drifting in the red at the same time - here-there-future-past-present-up-down-air-void - she would have screamed but there was no air in her lungs. No air anywhere. The only reason she didn't die was because she couldn't. The red sustained its host until the host herself burned away.

Driven by the dark elf's rage, it consumed and blotted out the stars. Secreted away by the Aesir, it rested and waited. Before-after-now-then blended into each other. Worlds drifted past, light and dark. Stars were born, stars died...

Something drew her human gaze - something familiar... no, someone. Plunging through the void, drifting and falling as worlds pushed and pulled him, never enough to bring him back to solid ground... the void was too vast. His limbs flailed helplessly, lips parted in a silent scream of misery and terror, eyes squeezed shut against the torment of falling... falling... falling...


Then and now converged again and she blinked through the red. A red cloak, golden hair, sweaty and dusty, angry shouts - but in his grasp, that same face, that same horror -


Jane ripped free of the Aether's sight with a shriek and tumbled off the seat. She vaguely heard Fandral exclaim in surprise and Thor's meaningless protest, but she was already up on her hands and knees, scuffing her palms on the wood as she scrambled towards them. "Stop, Thor! Stop it!"

Thor stared at her, releasing Loki in confusion, but Loki didn't react. Jane had no doubt he had no idea where he was. Thor caught her as she unbalanced into him when Fandral swerved them again to dodge their pursuers; Loki was so stiff he stayed upright, seated against the railing where Thor had pulled him.

"My lady, I wouldn't," Fandral warned, but she ignored him and seized the sides of Thor's brother's face.

"Loki," she said urgently. "Listen to me. You're not in the void."

"What?!" she heard Thor blurt.

"You're not falling, you're not, we're on a ship - " They lurched when another shot grazed them; she inadvertently dug her fingernails into his temple. No reaction. Damn it. "We have to land!" She finally gave a serious look to their surroundings: forest and mountains. "Can you lose them long enough? Thor, we need to land; he's having a flashback!"

Thor looked completely confused, but gave Fandral a helpless shrug. "This path of his is in the mountains; that's all I know. If he can't guide us there..."

They lurched again, and Fandral laughed. "Let us stop playing the wild goose, then! Hold on tight!"

Jane grabbed railing with one hand and wrapped her free arm around Loki to brace him. Thor wrapped his arms around both of them as the ship went into a dizzying dive. She nearly lost the contents of her stomach and couldn't guess what that maneuver did to Loki. She hoped he wasn't aware of it. Trusting Thor to keep them from flying overboard or sliding into a wall, she let go of her own hand hold and pulled Loki's face into her shoulder. "It's okay, it's okay," she chanted into his ear. "It's o - GOD!"

They swerved around a peak and went straight at a cliff face, and she couldn't hold back a scream, but they spun violently and dropped once more with a thud... coming to rest between massive, carved crags of rock up against a solid stone wall. In the sudden silence, over her thudding heart and ragged breathing, she could hear the engines of their pursuer as it came shrieking around the mountain after them and passed on. Fandral jumped deftly onto the rocks and peered between them. "They think we dove into the trees. Perfect. We should be concealed enough for a while." He wrinkled his nose and jumped back onto the deck. "What ails him?"

Jane sat back to examine Loki and found him still unresponsive: stiff, unblinking, a fine tremor in his muscles. "He fell. He fell before, through space, and you just pushed him out of a ship!"