evening_bat: Bat in flight, silhouetted against the moon. (Default)
[personal profile] evening_bat
Title: Holding Pattern
Author: [personal profile] evening_bat
Fandom: Thor
Rating: G
Warnings: Nope!
Word Count: ~ 2450
Prompt: All these storms gave this OP an idea. What if, when Loki fell at the end of the movie, he fell upon Midgard. Upon falling, his memory and magicks are sealed. Thunder storms always make Loki smile but he doesn't know why. Thor doesn't give up looking for his little brother and those thunder storms that roll on by are him looking for the God of Mischief.


Holding Pattern


They told him later that they found him amidst the ruins of a violent early spring storm, so pale and still they feared him dead. He’d surprised all of them with the fact that he was breathing when they managed to pick their way through the debris to him. When they’d realized he was still alive, they’d untangled him from the branches and other wreckage and carried him to the nearest vehicle before hurrying to the local hospital. They’d turned him over to the doctors and then ended up milling around town waiting for news. No one knew who he was, so they weren’t sure who to inform about his condition - besides, this was the most unusual thing that had happened in years.

Like so much else, he remembered nothing of it. Everything was a complete blank before he’d woken up in the small hospital and found himself surrounded by a group of well-meaning strangers. Some kind of amnesia, the doctor had declared. Like something off the tv, his rescuers murmured. He didn’t remember anything about that, either.

What he did and did not remember quickly became the central question of his very confused existence. He could speak and read and was generally capable of taking care of himself, to his vast relief. He didn’t remember anything about television or movies or music or anything about the world, really. He didn’t know how to drive or use a cell phone or buy a copy of the local paper. They asked him if he knew how he came to be where they’d found him and he had to admit that he didn’t even know where he was. Worse, he didn’t have any recollection of where he was supposed to be - or who might be waiting for him there.

Since he couldn’t tell them his name, they called him John - because what else would you call a man with no name? - and they packed him in an ambulance for transport to a larger medical facility a few hours away. Symptoms like his required diagnostic equipment beyond what they had on site. Utter bewilderment gave him the patience to endure the testing and scanning and endless questions from the doctors and the police who’d been called. The police took what information they could and told him they’d be in touch when they heard something back from their inquiries.

Complete retrograde amnesia, the doctors eventually confirmed. Potentially psychological, he overheard when they conferred with each other, due to the lack of physical injury. He wasn’t sure what difference it was supposed to make if it was all in his head given that it was the only thing in his head. Still, the hospital staff insisted as they discharged him, he was lucky that he wasn’t suffering from any life-threatening injury. Injured or not, he really didn’t feel all that fortunate as they showed him out into the waiting room.

He nearly tripped over his own feet when an elderly couple rose from their chairs as he emerged. He recognized them as two of his rescuers - Matthew and Alice, and what a welcome novelty familiar faces had become! - but before he could decide if he should approach them, they’d already crossed the room to meet him. They inquired after his health, clucking sympathetically when he repeated what the doctors had told him. To his surprise, they ushered him out to their car and informed him that he’d be coming home with them until he could sort himself out. He’d been found on their property, they insisted, and that made him their responsibility. He wasn’t entirely comfortable with their casual generosity but neither did he have many options, so he accepted.

Unfortunately, the task of putting himself to rights proved impossible. The authorities hadn’t found a scrap of information about him, no one had responded to any of their inquiries and “John’s” own memories proved stubbornly elusive. Things might return in their own time, everyone encouraged him, but he privately doubted it would be that easy. The emptiness in his mind remained profoundly impenetrable. He made a few dutiful attempts to prod knowledge out of the blankness but found himself largely unconcerned. Whatever life he’d disappeared from, it didn’t seem to want him back with any urgency.

Though clearly disappointed for his sake, Matthew and Alice told him not to worry about it. It was early spring yet and not a good time to travel. He was more than welcome to stay with them until he’d completely recovered. A few more weeks would see the weather greatly improve and give him time to make some sort of arrangements. He was less reluctant to accept this time, now that he knew them well enough to recognize the genuine welcome behind the invitation. He’d slipped into their lives with remarkable ease and was in no rush to abandon the comfort he’d found.

Staying put turned out to be a very good decision. The storm that had deposited him was only the beginning of a string of violent weather, the likes of which the area had never seen. Even the oldest of the local residents admitted they couldn’t remember a worse season. It seemed that no sooner had one storm abated than another one darkened the skies and the rumble of thunder seemed constant. Aside from giving everyone something to talk about, the weather gave John the first piece of the identity he was slowly assembling. It taught him that he liked storms.

John’s evident pleasure in the dramatic weather seemed to worry Matthew and Alice. They teased him about not having enough sense to come in out of the rain and were quick to ensure he was safely inside whenever a new bank of clouds gathered on the horizon. Their poorly-hidden concern convinced him to allow them to hustle him under cover, with no more than an occasional mild protest that his unorthodox manner of arrival didn’t mean he’d be swept off by the next swift breeze. They seemed resigned to letting him watch at the window, staring out into the rain for hours. Whenever the lightning showed him his own reflection, he always found he was smiling, no matter how violently the storm was raging overhead.

Summer was well under way by the time the storms began to slacken. The break in the weather brought the tourists out, the thin trickle of visitors quickly becoming a welcome flood of fresh guests and spending money. John had begun to consider moving on, certain he’d outstayed his welcome, when Matthew and Alice received a frantic phone call from Gisele at the Trailside Restaurant. One of her usual waitresses had run off to the city with her boyfriend and the poor girl left to cover the rest of the work was overwhelmed by the rush of tourists. Gisele had called all over town to find someone to help out at the restaurant when she remembered Matthew and Alice’s boarder and wondered if he’d be interested in a few days’ work?

He would. Whatever he decided to do, any extra money would be welcome. (As was the chance to put aside the question of just what to do next.) He’d never waited tables before - that he knew of - but agreed to give it a try. To Gisele’s delight, John proved to be a huge hit with the customers. Before the end of his second shift, she offered him the job for as long as he wanted it.

No one was more surprised than John at his way with people. It rarely took more than a glance for him to know whether he should be warmly friendly, play deferential or turn up the charm. He didn’t know where this ability to play people’s responses had come from but couldn’t deny that it was useful. It led to some tense moments at first, when the girls he worked with teetered on the edge of jealousy over his success with the customers. He won them over the day that a table of overly demanding jerks made shy little Annie cry and John managed to embarrass the arrogant group into repentance without any of them appearing to notice the manipulation. Thus occupied, the end of summer came far more quickly than John was expecting.

When autumn arrived and the Trailside closed with the tourist season, it left him bereft. The work had been an excuse to stay. The prospect of leaving was no more appealing now than it had been seven months ago. He’d grown comfortable in this simple life and felt no push to toss it aside and venture out into the world. He approached Matthew and Alice, intending to broach the possibility of staying in town when they surprised him with a suggestion.

Winter would be here before long and as they’d said at the beginning of the year, it wasn’t fit to travel during that time. It was a hard season and his help would be welcome around the house, if he were interested in staying a few months longer. They weren’t young, after all. They’d be happy to have him until the next spring brought another season of possibilities. They kept their tones light and he knew that they were trying not to influence his decision but they needn’t have worried. He’d grown fond of them, these people who’d given him a home when he’d had nothing. He’d be happy to stay here and he told them so, smiling to see how pleased they were with his choice.

One year turned into two turned into five and instead of leaving, he slowly became part of town life. Not just “that guy that the storm blew in” but “John, down at Matthew and Alice’s place.” The feast and famine rhythms of the tourist season became second nature and he found places to fit in there, too. He took his turn standing rounds at the tavern and at Tim’s, when the coffee chain finally came to town. Everyone joked mercilessly about that one time he uncharacteristically let a beautiful dark-eyed brunette take him back to her hotel room during that centennial Heritage Festival. He made sure no one ever found out where he spent the night the time he followed a blue-eyed, blond hiker back to his rented cabin. The seasons turned, life went on and John was...content.

He knew that Matthew and Alice sometimes worried that he’d given up too much when he decided to stay. It was in all their sidelong glances during idle moments, every cautious question about his plans for the future. They didn’t want him to leave but they couldn’t help but think he was missing out on a chance for better by settling for this. He shrugged off their concerns, assured them that he was happy with what he had. He might have been capable of more, as they continued to insist, but he didn’t want more. What he’d found in this life was enough to fill the emptiness he’d confronted when he woke in a hospital bed with no idea who he was.

The spring that Matthew got sick gave them something more urgent to worry about, reducing him to a frail body gasping for breath while Alice clung to his hand and John hovered beside them and wished for some way to help. The days passed in strained bedside vigils, the nights filled with Alice’s murmured prayers and the clicking of rosary beads. It was over a week before the doctors declared him out of danger and days more before he showed any signs of being on the mend. After one particularly long day at the hospital, John snuck out to call Alice’s sister. As planned, Eileen bustled into Matthew’s room later that night and gently bullied Alice into coming home with her for a respite.

Alice protested, of course, but both John and Matthew waved her off. Matthew would be fine and waiting for her tomorrow, he promised. John cheerfully declared that he could certainly take care of himself for a night or two. John stayed a little while longer before leaving Matthew to his rest. He drove back to the house on automatic, mind thoroughly occupied by the events of the last couple of weeks. It was only after he’d pulled up in front of the house and the wind nearly pulled the car door from his hand that he thought to look up.

Dark clouds roiled overhead, churned relentlessly by the freshening wind. Blue-white flickers traced the path of lightning as it crawled across the sky, thunder grumbling slowly and quietly in the distance. His breath caught as he stared up into the storm, wind tugging at his hair and clothes. He knew he should get inside before the weather broke in earnest but he couldn’t resist the urge to stay out a bit longer. For once, there was no one to rush him away and he took the opportunity to linger outside and let the storm fill his senses.

He wasn’t sure how long he stood outside, head tipped back as the weather worsened. The energy of the storm practically crackled in the air and his nerves were thrumming with it. A scatter of early raindrops had just pattered across his cheeks when he heard the crunch of feet on the gravel behind him. He bit back a sigh of disappointment. No doubt some well-meaning neighbour had braved the weather to see that he was all right. Readying a sheepish smile and an apology for whoever had ventured out into the storm to shepherd him into the house, he turned around. He found himself facing a stranger.

He looked like one of those American superheroes from the magazines Madelaine at the bakery was always twittering over. John’s eyes widened as he took in the sight of him, blond and strikingly handsome in gleaming armour and a flowing red cape. He practically glowed in the dim evening light. Where had he come from? And what was he doing here? John thought he was perfectly justified in staring but he didn’t understand why this man was looking at him as if he were the unusual one.

John found himself frozen, caught between the urge to put distance between them and an irrational desire to step in closer. The stranger’s breath hitched and John was amazed to see him blink wetness out of his blue eyes. He lifted one hand, carefully and deliberately reaching out. John held himself very still as his cheek was cupped in a huge, warm hand. An indefinable frisson went through him at the simple touch. An incandescent smile spread over the man’s face.

“At last, brother,” the blond man said, voice shaking with emotion, “I have found you.”

And Loki remembered.

Fin


Written as a response to a prompt over on [livejournal.com profile] norsekink and originally posted there.

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