Stupidly Heroic - A Thorki WWII AU
Inspired very heavily by the amazing hadeshorn's work. She was totally cool with me poking my finger into her work and wiggling it around. C:
It rains the day Thor leaves. It starts off gently in the morning, just faint patterns of droplets on the window. By the afternoon the sky is grey and there’s the foreboding rumble of thunder.
Loki curls up on his bed, tucking his knees to his chest. Through the pitter-patter of rain against the window he can hear his parents say goodbye. Words of encouragement, assurance. They know Thor’ll be fine. Return with medals weighing down your breast - make your father proud. He wishes the rain was loud enough to drown out their voices.
They go silent for a moment, hugs from Mother and a firm handshake from Father. Loki lets his head fall to his knees, breathing. He’s not supposed to get excited, it’s not good for him, the doctors say. Too much for his heart, his lungs. He’s too pale, his hands are too clammy. I’m sorry son, you know the Red Cross can always use more hands. You’re not what we’re looking for. Too frail, he’s got that hungry look, it’s no good, you see, won’t stand the stress. Such a shame.
Loki snaps his head up. Thor stands against the light in the hall; he’s dressed in his uniform, hair cut and brushed back with his garrison cap resting neatly on his part. He reminds Loki of the picture of Father that hangs in the hall.
Thor looks just like a soldier. Jealousy curdles in his stomach.
“Come to say farewell?” He spits out with a sneer, and regrets his tone immediately. Thor looks down at himself, sighing.
“Don’t, brother. I’m sorry,” Loki unfolds himself and swings his legs over the edge.
“I would have you marching beside me if I could,” Thor says, taking Loki by the hand and hauling him to his feet.
“Of course you would. You know you wouldn’t last a day without me.” He feels tears catch at the back of his throat, but Loki swallows them away. His hands have started shaking and he smooths the collar of Thor’s jacket to hide it.
Thor laughs for him. It’s warm and Loki tries to hold on to it. He knows that this will be the last time he hears it for a long time. The dryness in his throat has returned. Loki looks down because he doesn’t want Thor to see him crying.
“Don’t do anything stupidly heroic, Thor.” Loki says to his shoes, his grip on Thor’s collar tightening.
“Do not worry, brother, I will return.” Thor’s hands, strong and warm cup his face, thumbs brushing at his cheeks soothingly. It’s too much. To lose Thor’s touch on his back when they make their way through a crowd, his laughter when it’s late and they’ve found themselves on the roof looking at the stars, the victorious grin he gets when he snags the last piece of Mother’s shepherd’s pie.
To be left behind.
“I know you will.” Loki’s voice is a whisper.
Thor kisses him then, to say all the words they can’t force out. He holds his lips against Loki’s forehead and Loki clings to his wrists. If he holds tight enough, Loki thinks, maybe he can go too. Or maybe Thor will stay. They’re brothers. They’re supposed to do these things together.
“Dry your eyes brother, please.” Thor’s breath is hot against his skin. His thumbs brush the tears away from his cheeks. “Come see me off at the station?”
“So I can be reminded of what I am not able to do?” Loki’s voice is still bitter, and now a little bit broken. Thor’s hands fall to his sides.
“You know I would have it differently.”
Loki takes his brother’s hand in his own and squeezes it, hoping to rid the hurt from his brother’s voice. “Of course I’ll come.” He can’t say no to Thor.
The hallway’s light is harsh against Loki’s eyes. Thor leads him down the stairs with a prideful gait, his bag heaved over one shoulder. They pass by the family portraits on their way down; Loki avoids looking at them.
Father and Mother are sitting in the parlour. Thor drops his bag at the door frame for a final goodbye. Mother hugs him tightly and hides her tears behind her weaving. Father offers him a final handshake and growl of advice that Loki can’t make out from the doorframe where he stands. They say nothing to him, but he can feel Father’s eyes on his neck as they leave. Disappointment. Anger. Shame, maybe?
At the door Loki fishes out the umbrella from its spot in the corner of the closet.
“Can’t have you ruining your uniform already,” he says, opening it as they step outside.
“You coddle far too much, Loki.” But Thor stays under the umbrella anyway, pressed close to Loki’s side.
There’s a spot in the garden that dips below the rest. When it was sunny out it was their trench; silly war games with wooden swords. C’mon brother, let’s go another round. The bad guys can’t get us down here. See them, on top of the bush? Isn’t that Mrs. Parker’s cat? No, that’s the bad guy.
The rain is flooding it now, drowning the blades of grass.
They walk towards the station to the sounds of rain hitting puddles and the gush of too many collected as they run towards the drain. The train station is just a little ways away from their house; past the homes and the school Loki had been too ill to attend when they were young. The business streets taper towards the station like a funnel and the windows of the businesses are plastered with propaganda;
Fly with the Best. Men; we need you! Do your part, join the army! Keep ‘em flying. Your help is needed! Save a life, finish the job. You could take down Hitler. We need you. I want you!
But not you.
“Are you nervous, brother?” Loki asks, gazing at one of posters. It’s of a man, thick and tall and blond, hands at his hips. Anything for Freedom it says.
“When have I ever been?” Thor grins, and the street they’re on opens to the station. Billows of steam rise up from the trains, mixing with the rain. They aren’t the only ones with umbrellas, and Thor isn’t the only one with a uniform. NCOs whispering sweet encouragements to their gals. Mothers squawking at their sons to remember their manners. There’s a toddler running through the crowd, trying to clasp their father’s hand one last time.
“How do I look?” Thor steps out from under the umbrella and straightens up.
Impeccable. Straight out from the posters, just what Uncle Sam was looking for.
“Your tie is crooked.” It’s not. Loki holds the umbrella with his elbow, and reaches out to straighten it anyway. “There.” He smooths his hand down the breast of Thor’s jacket one last time. “Just like a hero.”
The train whistles then, jarring the fond smiles from their faces.
“It’s time,” Thor says with a nod, shifting the bag on his shoulder.
“Brother,” Loki breathes, heart clenching at the finality of it all. He’s not ready for this. Don’t go where I can’t follow. Please, let me try one last time. I’ll falsify my records, I’ll get in. Please wait. “I may be envious, but never doubt how much I love you.”
Thor opens his arms and pulls Loki into a hug, the umbrella left forgotten beside them. Loki rests his face against his neck, memorizing the feel of the fabric, the bit of stubble he missed when he shaved. “And I you, brother.” Thor says into his ear, and pulls away.
“I expect you to write.” Loki says. One more kiss, brother, please. One more before you go.
“I’ll try my best, brother.” Thor picks up the umbrella, and hands it to him. The trainer conductor has stepped out to the platform, waving his hands. “This isn’t farewell.”
Loki stands beneath the umbrella, and watches his brother’s back as he makes his way towards the train. He’s lost in the sea of uniforms, but Loki stays where he stands, scanning the train windows. There’s a baby crying and the wind bites at him through the cotton of his sleeves. He’s not supposed to be out in the rain like this, but he ignores the faint rattle in his lungs.
The train’s started to move already, the faces in the windows obscured, hands stuffed through the open parts in at the top in a desperate wave good bye. It’s almost gone and out of the station when Loki sees him. Face pressed to the window, hand waving frantically like the rest of them. His garrison cap has gone askew.
Loki waves back until the train’s gone.
Did you miss me? I wasn’t gone long. Can I come next time, brother? I don’t know, Fandral plays rough. Please brother, I’m not weak. Why does everyone think I’m weak? Sorry, brother. I love you. I love you.
He hands the umbrella to a soggy young woman standing alone. Mother will be furious when he returns soaked, but the rain cools his cheeks and he can’t tell if he’s crying or not. Fists shoved deep into his pockets, Loki makes his way back up the towards the streets. One of the shops has a radio on and the singer’s soft voice floats out through the door as he passes.
‘Till the sun comes shining through again, ‘till we see a sky of blue again, ‘till I’m back with you, my love, ‘till then it hurts to say goodbye…’