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I Remember a Shadow

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Some part of Loki cannot quite believe he has grown—that they both have. Some part of him is still, forever, the child who tried continuously to be as fast, as strong, as loved as his brother but could never measure up. Some part of him is still, forever, the brother who wanted to be near Thor anyway, even when Thor paid him hardly any notice at all. And some part of him still and always sees that older boy when he looks at Thor—a spoiled young prince who got everything he wanted and thought that was the natural order of the world.

And really, it’s not Loki’s fault he still sees that sometimes. In many ways, things have hardly changed. Thor is still the spoiled young prince and Loki is still his adoring little brother forever trailing after him, though Loki’s envy has grown with the years.

And though of course they didn’t always do this. This is a relatively recent development in the centuries of their lives.

Loki remembers the first time, panting as Thor let him sneak a hand down the front of his trousers, wrapping his fingers around soft, damp skin and hard, hot flesh, stroking. Thor had made a choked sound—Loki liked that, his own breath catching at what Thor was granting him, what he was doing—but moments later Thor’s hand had clamped onto his wrist.

"Wait,” Thor said, breathless. "Wait, not here, I want to…”

And when Loki tried to twist out of his grip, stubborn in his desire to continue, to keep going, it had turned into a struggle.

It had ended in a struggle, too. Eventually Thor had won out, dragging Loki back to his chambers before tearing the clothes off them both, only to hesitate, uncertain, once they stood in the middle of a floor scattered with half-ruined garments.

"And now what,” Loki sneered, folding arms across his pale chest, defensive.

They had been nude together countless times, and it never ceased to make him just a bit uncomfortable, the differences between them and how the sight of Thor affected him. How many years he had sneaked glances at the powerful, gleaming body beside his own scrawny one in the baths, full of hunger and awe and envy in equal measure. It now made him uncomfortable enough to snarl and snap despite his own obvious arousal bobbing heavy between his legs.

"If you think I'm going to let you…”

Thor hadn’t let him finish before grabbing him and kissing him, and the kiss was a struggle as well; Thor tried to maneuver them both toward the bed and Loki resisted, just out of principle.

But it ended with Loki pinned beneath Thor against the mattress, Thor growling above him.

"Stop that,” Thor had grumbled. "You were the one who wanted this. You still want it,” he added, grinding hips against him, proving that he could feel Loki’s erection, that Loki couldn’t pretend it wasn’t twitching and leaking against his skin. "Why must you make everything difficult?”

Loki had not answered except to laugh and push his own body up to rut against him, to seal his mouth against Thor’s and grab him by the hair, yanking and swallowing the resulting curses and cries.

They rubbed off against each other that first time, grappling and shoving, until both their thighs and bellies were sticky with sweat and spend.

Thor had collapsed atop him after, and Loki had kept one hand at the small of Thor’s back, simply resting it there.

The pleasure of it, of having his brother in his arms and in his bed, after years of secret longing, was undeniable perfection. Even the struggle, the belligerence of their coupling—he could hardly complain about that. It was everything he’d wanted.

Yet some part of him lay there with Thor’s bulk on him and grew furious.

"Off,” he’d snarled at last, and Thor had rolled agreeably away, laughing at Loki’s disgruntled groans.

*

The part of Loki that cannot believe they are grown is in fact the reason why he’s there the first time Thor lifts the hammer. It is the only explanation. He is tagging along at his brother’s side as if there is nothing of greater interest in all the nine realms than what the great Thor Odinson is doing that day, and when Thor decides that he wishes to test himself against the mighty weapon once more, Loki does not hesitate to follow. Thor had long ago declared that he meant the thing to be his, and Loki had always both been certain that his brother would succeed—that child part of Loki still believes there is nothing Thor cannot do—and equally certain that he will not succeed now. That it is still far in the future, that moment where he will prove himself undeniably worthy beyond any shred of doubt.

So Loki is there the first time Mjolnir accedes to being lifted by the golden prince. Loki’s eyes widen as at first it budges but an inch, then with Thor’s grunting roar comes up off its pedestal. With air beneath it, it is like it has shed its immobility, gravity sheeting from it like water: Thor hefts it more easily to the height of his shoulders, and then he is shouting with joy as he holds it above his head, and at the same instant there is a distant cracking sound so deep it might have come from far under the ground in some great wyrm’s lair.

Thor laughs, swings it lightly, beaming at the hammer as it glints and dances for him—how can such a heavy thing dance?—as Loki stands to one side, forgotten.

Loki feels his own heart pounding in his chest, but he can’t hear it for the steady back-and-forth roll of the thunder.

Word gets around quickly.

Loki seems to blink and the next moment he is in the middle of a crowded feast hall, being shoved at by the elbows of Thor’s friends. He looks over at his brother: Thor is glowing, so much that Loki almost wonders if having finally lifted the hammer changed him. If the lightning got under his skin. Loki notices almost nothing else that night.

But somehow it doesn’t occur to him what it means; his mind simply overlooks what he knows, what he surely already is aware of. He had heard the stories that surrounded the hammer all his life, and somehow he fails to piece the two sides together until it is done for him. Perhaps because it is too huge. Not until someone wonders aloud whether this means the Allfather will at last name his successor. But as soon as the words are spoken, Loki can never unknow it. It is certain. Bitter envy—like an eternal spring inside him—wells up, and when he remembers again that first thunder, it sounds now like doom.  

It is three days—three ale-drunk days of feasting and celebration throughout the city—before Loki can get his brother alone. And he only manages it then by trickery, whispering in his ear and telling him, in a very serious tone, that he is being summoned on a matter of some importance.

Thor comes with him, following Loki out into the relative quiet of the corridor before enquiring exactly who had summoned him.

“I did,” Loki admits with a smirk. Then he leans close to whisper once more. "I want you.”

Thor squirms at that, enough for Loki to know that the idea appeals.

This time, when they reach Thor’s chambers, undressing involves taking the hammer from where it is slung from his belt, and Loki watches that in almost the same furtive way that he used to sneak glances at his brother’s muscled thighs. The sturdy pedestal has already been brought, and Thor sets the weapon there carefully before looking back to his brother.

It is a battle again. All of Loki’s frustration goes into it, and perhaps that is clearer than he intends: when Thor nearly pins him this time he breaks the rules, adds magic to his own strength and uses both to reverse their positions until he is knelt between Thor’s sprawled legs, fumbling beside the bed for some slick and nipping at Thor’s chest with sharp teeth, head down so that he does not meet his brother’s eyes.

"You ought to show me more respect than that, you know,” Thor huffs, in jest or in a frustration that mirrors Loki’s own. "I have the hammer now.”

"Oh yes?” Loki answers. "Of course I was unaware of that, O mighty one. I have not just been surrounded by the evidence of that for days or anything of the sort.”

But it does not come out with as much humor as he intended. He feels his cheeks burning, hates to be so obvious.

"You’re jealous,” Thor says, staring and sounding more shocked than accusing, and Loki does not bother to deny it. It’s better than that Thor should fail to notice.

“I am.”

“Are you not happy for me?”

“I am that as well,” he says, and it is no lie. He is capable of feeling both things at once, the uneasy swirl of them, and his head sinks forward to thump softly on Thor’s chest. “I am. But let us talk about that later.”

For a moment there is silence, Thor’s breaths lifting him and Thor’s heartbeat trembling against his cheek. He feels Thor nod.

Loki has to palm his own flagging erection, urging it back to attention—he needs not to be thinking of anything else but this, needs not to think of anything but the way Thor spreads his thighs wider as Loki nudges forward again, his brother giving in to him, his brother letting him press the head of his cock against his slicked entrance, his brother…

Loki is buried deep, eyes squeezed shut against the intensity of it. He needs this to be a battle. He needs to think it is one he might win. He pushes until Thor responds the way he wants, until they are fucking like it is war. He needs to find them equally matched—or at least near enough for him to deserve his place at Thor’s side.

In the end he sits back on his haunches, hands to Thor’s hips as he thrusts, watching enthralled as his brother strokes himself, body arching, head tossing back and forth and stomach tensing and trembling as he gets closer. Loki’s mouth is dry and he is not sure how it can be that he wants even now, with Thor clenching around him and orgasm but moments away, how it can be that even this is not enough. He wonders if he will ever be satisfied, no matter how much of this he tastes, no matter how much he gets.  

Afterward he dozes briefly in Thor’s bed, and his mind wanders. Some part of him is still a child—a child sneaking back to Mjolnir’s pedestal on his own after Thor had stalked away from it in frustration. He remembers reaching out to touch but he cannot now remember any thoughts he might have had; his mind seemed blank but for nervousness, and he had startled at a distant noise and nearly run but stopped himself, reached out again, put both hands on the haft, hearing someone whispering over and over again… “please, please, please…

Uneasiness swirls in his chest as he lies there staring up at the ceiling. He rolls over to distract himself with the sight of his sleeping brother, the slack mouth and the dim light of the room playing across his cheeks, his nose, the hand curled beside him on the bedding. Completely at ease, with nothing at all to trouble his sleep or keep him from it. Eventually Loki has to leave before frustration can overtake him completely; he slips away, pausing only to tug the blankets up over his brother so that Thor won’t wake up cold.

In some ways, nothing has changed at all.

Loki does not let himself so much as glance toward the hammer as he goes.

*