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Hugging his brother for a hasty few minutes is not enough to siphon away the anxiety prickling through him. Thor finds himself turning from his conversations the rest of the evening to catch Loki out of the corner of his eye, to see he is there — charming people and drinking and keeping a wide berth away from Hulk — and not burning in the ashes of Asgard, or on his merry way somewhere without Thor. Loki sees him looking more than once; twice he lifts his eyebrow at Thor; three times after that he rolls his eyes and stalks over to Thor, holding a glass in one hand and reaching out to pinch Thor’s upper arm viciously with the other.

“Oh, look, I'm still here,” Loki says, widening his eyes over-large.

“Shouldn't I be the one pinching you?” Thor asks. Loki favors him with an incredulous look down the length of his nose, before walking off again to the little cluster of people he's been absently healing of minor wounds.

They've figured out the quarters situation, at least. Loki has a separate room, but when it's time to retire, Thor doesn't even pretend to consider it: on thumping feet he follows Loki, who seems to be pretending he's gone suddenly deaf, until they get to Loki’s door. Then Loki turns to look at him, and gives a world-weary sigh.

“Oh, alright,” Loki says, throwing the door open and ushering Thor in. “If you steal the blankets, I'll stab you while you're sleeping.”

“Promise not to snore and I'll consider it,” Thor says happily, and makes himself comfortable on one side of the bed.

“I do not — ” Loki begins, in tones of great affront, before cutting himself off as he gets into the other side. “Shut up, I'm not doing this with you. I'm exhausted.”

You're exhausted,” Thor says as Loki turns off the light.

“Yes, I am,” Loki retorts. He rustles around in the darkness, tucking himself into the blankets. “I did a lot of running to save the day today, if you remember.”

“I lost an eye,” Thor says complacently.

There's a pause. “I hate you,” Loki says with feeling. “This is how it's going to go from now on, isn't it? We're arguing, and then — bam! ‘I lost an eye, I win’.”

Thor grins faintly. “Are you going to be around to be bothered by it?” he says; if there's an all-too-naked search for reassurance in his voice, well. He doesn't mind being obvious if it'll get him what he wants.

“Don't tempt me,” Loki says darkly. But he turns toward Thor to sleep, and lets Thor’s outflung hand brush his side, and even, stealthily, moves ever-so-slightly closer.

Thor falls asleep like that. He wakes once in the night, but Loki’s soft snoring fills his ears before he registers anything else. They've moved closer together while sleeping, and Thor’s hand is clutching the front of Loki’s shirt. He relaxes back into a pure, undisturbed sleep.

 

Morning is a different story.

Thor comes awake with a jolt as he hits the floor, a pain flaring in his hip. He tries to move his arms and blinks in confusion when he can't, before he realizes all his limbs are trapped in a cocoon of blankets.

Over the edge of the bed, Loki scowls down at him. His hair is a tangled curling mess; there's a pillow-crease cutting across his cheek.

“I warned you,” Loki hisses.

Thor just wraps himself up tighter; Loki clearly didn't think this through. “These are mine now,” he informs Loki.

The blankets wind around and around him, trapping his limbs further and nearly stuffing themselves in his mouth, before he manages to get his head free. Then Loki throws both pillows at his head for good measure.

“Have fun with them,” Loki says, smirking down at him.

“Oh, fine,” Thor says, glaring. The blankets’ grip eases slightly. “I have work to do, anyway.”

Loki yawns delicately, and then reaches down to draw the blankets back up toward him, hand-over-hand like a fisherman lifting a net. The pillows float up after them. “How sad for you,” he says, tucking himself back into a roll atop the bed.

Thor leaves him alone, after swatting his upturned rump and dodging the green bolt Loki aims at him in response. Loki will join him soon enough; if nothing else, his inclination toward lounging around and critiquing Thor’s every move will prove too great a draw to remain in bed much longer.

Thor shuts the door to Loki’s room behind him, and then looks up and down the hallway, trying to remember the best way to the center of the ship. He sees three of his people passing by and smiles at them in greeting; he gets three very odd looks in response, before they seem to remember themselves and smile hesitantly back as they continue walking. Perhaps Thor’s been away from home for too long, if his people seem this hesitant to talk to him.

Oh well. It's nothing a long journey in a creepy dictator’s stolen ship can't fix.

Thor shrugs it off and follows them down the hall.

 

By midday, or as best as he can gauge it in space, Thor has met with Heimdall, looked over the star charts to review their course, visited the wounded, and received no less than twelve versions of the odd looks he'd gotten this morning.

They aren't interested or admiring in nature — not to get too big a head, but Thor knows what that looks like. The missing eye hasn't hurt him there. No, these seem inquisitive, accompanied with furtive whispering and wide eyes.

(Thor checks three times to make sure there isn't something stuck in his teeth, just to be safe.)

For now, he puts the mystery out of his head. Perhaps later he'll track down Loki and make him put his sly little talents to good use.

Thor sets up a table in the mess with ease — it feels good to do something tangible — and then turns and promptly walks hip-first into another one, jabbing straight into the bruise from his rude awakening this morning. He winces and rubs his hip.

“Are you alright, sire?” Gytha asks, fixing him with her clear brown eyes. She has a clearer sense of duty: Thor had offered up his services and found that she had no problem telling her new king when he was putting something in the wrong place. Thor had promptly put her in charge of the rest of the setup in that wing.

“I'm fine,” Thor says. “Loki just kicked me out of bed this morning.” He presses again against the bruise on his hip and starts forming vague plans for revenge.

“I see,” Gytha says, a strangled note in her voice. She coughs.

“You're not falling ill, are you?” Thor says, concerned.

“Oh, no,” Gytha says. “Just a cough, sire. Carry on.” She retreats and leaves Thor to his work. He’s on his sixth table when he feels his feet start to slip out from underneath him, and hastily puts the table down before he can drop it.

“Loki,” Thor says under his breath, and turns to see Loki perched atop the table behind him.

“What an excellent use of your time,” Loki says brightly, looking around.

“I'm doing other things too,” Thor protests, and then does his best to bury the petulant edge to his voice only Loki can bring out in him. “I thought we should get this sorted quickly.”

“Food would be the first thing on your mind,” Loki says, amused. He pulls an apple out of his pocket and splits it neatly in half with a fingertip, offering one piece to Thor. “Here. We can't have our king fainting from hunger, can we?”

Thor gives him a very suspicious look. Loki bears it with all appearance of endless patience. Finally Thor takes the apple half and eats it in four bites, tucking the core into his pocket.

Loki eats his half while Thor finishes working, sucking all of his fingers clean when he's done. Then he waves a hand at Thor imperiously.

“Help me down,” he says.

Thor rolls his eye, but clasps Loki’s hand to pull him down from the table. Loki trips down and falls into Thor, pressing them together from shoulders to hips.

“Whoops,” Loki laughs in Thor’s ear quietly, and pulls away. Clasping Thor’s shoulder, he says, “I'll leave you to it,” and leaves.

Thor squints after him for a moment, before shaking his brother's odd behavior out of his head. If the years have taught him anything, it's that nothing Loki does can be explained until he wants it to be.

 

During dinner that evening, Thor sits at the end of one bench next to Loki. For some reason Loki is pressed so close to him their thighs touch; perhaps Loki doesn't want to move any closer to Valkyrie, lounging on his other side with a flat, amused look on her face.

Thor spends the meal making bemused conversation with Korg, and trying to seem approachable to the two Asgardians sitting next to him. It doesn't seem to be working from the wide-eyed half-glances they keep sending him. Valkyrie eats her meal in silence, repelling conversation with the narrow-eyed, watchful cloak around her.

Loki finishes his last bite. “Well, I think it's time to retire,” he says, rising from the bench. Getting up requires a clinging arm around Thor’s shoulders, apparently. Then he bends his head and presses a long, lingering kiss to the curve of Thor’s cheek.

“Good night,” he says, smiling very sweetly, and leaves.

Everything in Thor’s head grinds to a halt. When he looks around the table, no one looks confused or shocked — just amused, or interested, or a little wide-eyed.

Thor isn't confused either, or shocked, when he thinks about it for a second more. He knows exactly what's going on.

“Excuse me,” he growls, and gets up so fast he almost turns the table on its head.

The door to Loki’s room swings open when Thor puts a hand to it. Loki is sitting on the bed, pulling the ribbon loose from his hair, a wicked laugh tucked into the corners of his mouth.

Thor pulls the door shut behind him. “What are you doing,” he says, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

“It's your fault, you know,” Loki says, smirking and leaning back on his hands. “Leaving my room in the morning; your inability to think about what comes out of your mouth.”

Thor’s ears are burning. He determinedly ignores them. “And you're encouraging this because — ”

“It's excellent rehabilitation for my image,” Loki says, widening his eyes. “They love you, and because of that they'll trust me. You wouldn't ruin this for me, would you?”

Thor glares at him.

Loki’s mouth twitches. “Also, it's the funniest thing that's ever happened to me.”

Thor slams the door behind him and storms away, nearly knocking over four children playing in the hallway.

Loki. Loki and his endless, irritating little games.

Thor falls asleep alone in his room that night, shivering from the cold; he wakes three times, sweating and searching for something he can't see the shape of, hands empty and grasping in the sheets.

 

The next day finds Thor more problems than the previous. Instead of questioning looks, this time Thor is surrounded by concerned ones. When she sees him, Ingrid, who used to work in the palace kitchens once upon a time and now rules their makeshift one with an iron fist, pats his shoulder.

“You shouldn’t sleep apart,” she says sagely, putting a steaming roll of bread in front of Thor; apparently he looks pathetic enough to warrant it. “No problems were ever solved that way.”

“We’re not — ” Thor begins, before sighing and giving up, shoving the roll in his mouth. He’s already tried denying their relationship three times today; all he’s gotten in response are disappointed looks and earnest reassurances: “Sire, we may not have trusted Prince Loki before, but you needn’t deny your heart for our sake!”

“Thank you,” Thor says finally, through a mouthful of bread. There are some battles he can’t win.

 

“I believe you,” Valkyrie says, standing next to Thor and looking out into space with him at the front of the ship.

“You do?” Thor says pathetically.

“Yeah,” Valkyrie says. “Your brother’s always starting things, I get it. But I’ve got to tell you — it’s kind of your fault too that people believe him. You guys are weird.”

“We’re not — I’m not weird!” Thor says, indignant.

Valkyrie gives him a pitying look. “You two really have to stop insisting he’s adopted if you don’t want people to think you’re fucking,” she says.

Thor gapes at her wordlessly as she picks her nails clean with a little knife, and then wanders off with a bracing clap on his back.

 

“It’s just so hard,” Loki sighs, a thick, despondent note in his voice. Thor freezes at the entrance to the room where they’ve kept their wounded, and hangs back half-hidden behind one side of the doorway. He watches Loki smoothe a salve down a woman’s arms with careful hands, head bowed slightly, looking up at her through his hair. “We’ve been through so much; I’ve tried to prove myself, but — perhaps it’s a lost cause. Perhaps I should just stop trying.”

He’s immediately surrounded by horrified gasps.

“Oh, no,” a young man with earnest blue eyes says, leaning in to Loki. “I’m sure His Majesty will come around — you can’t give up!”

“I hope you’re right,” Loki says. He sounds sad and weary enough to fall to pieces right in front of them.

Over their heads, Loki finds Thor. There is a bare flash of a smirk in his eyes, in the curve of his lips.

Loki’s voice rings in Thor’s ears, invasive and relentless, as he stomps back down the hallway.

 

Thor thinks about asking Heimdall for his help, for a minute.

“I see everything that happens,” he imagines Heimdall announcing, “and your king is most definitely not sleeping with his brother. I swear it!”

He finds Heimdall watching their warriors sparring, and gets so far as to open his mouth to speak.

Heimdall turns to face him with a look of such patient, knowing amusement it could have been lifted straight from Frigga’s face.

Cheeks burning, Thor swallows his words and leaves.

 

That night, in his room, Thor hears an insistent knock at the door. When he opens it, he sees Loki standing there with his arms crossed and a faint scowl bunched between his brows.

“I’m not going to have them think you’re the magnanimous one who always reaches out,” Loki says sharply, putting one foot in the door. “We’re sleeping in your room tonight.”

When Thor looks at him closely, there’s a sallow tinge to his skin, a faint hint of bruising beneath his eyes that suggests his sleep might have been as disturbed the night before as Thor’s had been. The wild look on his face practically dares Thor to say something about it.

Thor pushes the door further open.

“You have to do something about the snoring,” he says.

“You’re delusional,” Loki replies, as Thor shuts the door behind him. “I don’t snore.”

Thor is hyper-conscious of the heat of Loki’s body as they lie down together in his bed. Even with the inches separating them, he is fever-hot; he lies with his back to Thor, a rigid line screaming of tension.

Thor knows what he searches for in the night when he wakes. Here, in the darkness, he is brave enough to hold it.

Loki stiffens under the arm Thor slings over his waist. After a sharp, expectant moment, he relaxes down, and scoots back one careful step at a time. Thor’s knees fit perfectly into the bends of Loki’s, his chest a scant distance away from the span of Loki’s back.

They won’t talk about this; and they don't need to. It’s enough that they can sleep, through the night, and free of dreams.

 

Thor wakes the next morning with new resolve. There are ways and ways to combat Loki’s mischief; if he can’t stop him where he stands, he will simply have to play his game, and beat him at it.

“I’m trying my best to move past everything,” Thor says morosely, chin propped up in his hand. “I just — I want to believe he’s here for good, but I’ve done it so many times before. I guess I’m worried about being burned again.” He summons a determinedly stoic look, underpinned by quivering pain; it’s a combination that always served him well as a child, wheedling sweets from the kitchens after being punished for some bout of trouble.

“Oh, I can’t imagine,” Ingrid says tearfully, patting his head softly. “Trust is such a hard thing to rebuild.”

“It is,” Thor says, sniffling faintly.

Loki finds him at lunchtime; when he enters the room, he is followed by narrowed eyes and judgmental looks, though his upturned chin says he notices none of them.

Thor knows differently:

“Well done,” Loki says quietly, venomously, as he sits next to Thor.

“I thought so,” Thor replies. He keeps the smirk off his face, containing it to the crinkle of his eye as he turns his face toward Loki. Then he raises his voice: “Won’t you join me?” he says, injecting a faint tremor into his voice.

The thin press of Loki’s lips promises murder, but if Thor looks closely, he can see a spark of humor deep in his eyes.

“I’d love to,” Loki says solicitously. He spends his meal spooning choice bites onto Thor’s plate and, beneath the table, stepping on Thor’s feet with a vicious heel.

Thor puts up with it through most of his lunch — the flush of victory is heady indeed — but near the end he drops his hand onto Loki’s thigh and sends a sharp, warning shock of lightning through him.

Loki jolts in place, and then catches himself. The look on his face could melt iron.

“I’ll see you tonight,” Thor says brightly, and bends his head to kiss the corner of Loki’s mouth as he stands up.

Loki’s skin is marble-pale, but warm as the sun beneath Thor’s lips. As Thor retreats, he turns to see Loki staying in place, stiff-backed and set-faced, one hand touching his mouth.

Loki can start what he wants; Thor has no problem escalating.

 

“Do you know what you’re doing?” Valkyrie asks. Her voice is filled with mocking amusement, but oddly fond, for all that.

“No,” Thor says, one hand over his face. “Give me another drink.”

The world quakes beneath Thor; when he takes his hand away from his face, he finds Hulk sitting next to him cross-legged, smiling beatifically at Valkyrie.

“THOR LIKE PUNY GOD?” Hulk booms inquisitively.

“Uh, I like him, sure,” Thor says awkwardly. It feels a little wrong to lie to Hulk about this; Hulk and Banner, hiding inside him, are his teammates after all. “I mean, he’s my brother.”

Two women pass by them on the other side of the room, apparently not noticing the three of them lurking in the corner, surrounded by Valkyrie’s impressive stash of alcohol.

“Can you believe he’s loved King Thor for centuries?” one of them sighs, clasping one hand to the side of her face. “Isn’t that so romantic?”

“And sad,” the other one says. “His feelings going unnoticed, unrequited for so long…” Their voices trail off as they continue down their path, leaving the three of them alone.

Hulk claps Thor’s back so hard he falls forward. “THOR MARRY PUNY GOD,” he says decisively.

“I — need to go,” Thor says, and knocks back his drink, hoping it will help. He pretends he can’t hear Valkyrie’s stifled laughter as he leaves.

 

Thor buckles down and does the kind of organizational work he’s always run from, but is so much of what he needs to do now: he goes over their meagre budget, reviews the building plans for their new settlement when they land on Earth, and smooths out a conflict over working space between their healers and their engineers. Then he rewards himself with a visit to the sparring ring.

It proves nowhere near as relaxing as he had hoped.

“My wife and I have had our ups and downs,” says Brandt, who looks barely old enough to have a beard, let alone a wife. “Her family’s never thought much of me, and for a while she didn’t say much to them to support me, and then one time I thought she might be seeing my brother behind my back but it turns out she was planning a surprise for my birthday instead!”

“Loki faked his own death, and never bothered to tell me he was alive until I found out for myself,” Thor says, and then presses his lips together, surprised at the very real bite in his own words.

Brandt gives him a sympathetic look. “That’s a hard one to get past, sire,” he says. When Thor looks around the ring, he sees he is receiving sympathetic looks tenfold, from all corners. He hides a sigh.

“Let’s try three of you at once,” he says, and readies his sword. It won’t be anywhere near a challenge, but it might just be enough to clear his mind for a precious few moments.

An hour later, Thor leaves the ring, sword sheathed at his side and wiping the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. He stops in his tracks when he sees Loki, leaning against the wall with one foot propped up against it.

He doesn’t say anything; neither does Loki. There’s an odd, crackling fire in Loki’s eyes, visible even with the distance separating them. Then Loki takes a step forward, and another, and another yet. He stops in front of Thor and lifts a hand to Thor’s face.

Thor’s breath catches in his throat. Loki carefully stops a bead of sweat from coursing down Thor’s cheek with his fingertip, swipes another away from his hairline. Then he wipes his fingertips neatly on the front of Thor’s shirt, adjusts the fall of his collar; turns on his heel, and leaves.

 

Thor wakes in the middle of the night with a cry caught in his throat. He scrambles to put a hand over Loki’s face; it isn’t until he can feel the faint puffs of breath leaving Loki’s nose that he is able to breathe himself, closing his eyes and willing his heart to slow down.

Loki comes awake under Thor’s hand. He can feel the ripple of awareness roll through his brother from head to toe. Loki turns on his side to face Thor; the room is so dark that Thor can only see faint outlines of Loki’s features, and he can’t imagine Loki can see much more, but it must be enough: Loki says nothing, but reaches down to grab Thor’s hand. Loki spreads open the fingers of it, and places it square over his heart. Thor feels the strong pumping of it beneath his hand and wishes suddenly he could reach into Loki’s chest and curl his fingers around the organ itself, to know the truth of its vitality. He removes his hand and puts it under Loki’s shirt this time, pushing up. The thump of Loki’s heart coupled with the living warmth of his skin is a comfort that sinks into Thor’s bones; he falls asleep like that between the beats he can’t help but count.

When Thor wakes the next morning, Loki is still asleep, chest rising and falling beneath Thor’s hand. His skin is smooth and faintly slick with sleep-sweat in the burrow of their blankets.

Thor bites his lip hard enough to jolt himself fully awake. Then he carefully withdraws his hand and gets up from the bed, finds his boots and makes his way to the door.

He stops with one hand on the door. Inside their quarters they’ve formed a sanctuary of sorts: a wordless space, where everything is ignored except the things that matter most at that moment. Outside, it’s a different story altogether.

Thor lingers in it for a moment more, before he lets himself out of the room on silent feet.

 

Things are quiet for the first half of the day; but by lunch Thor notices a resurgence of the half-hidden whispers that have surrounded him these past few days, accompanied by glances that rapidly dart away. No one tells him what new ground Loki has struck in this contest of theirs, and Thor is not yet so pathetic that he will go and ask.

Before he gets to that point, Korg finds him working in his chair-throne at the front of the ship, and pulls up another chair from somewhere to sit next to him.

“Hey, man,” Korg says, bumping his shoulder against Thor’s and sending his pen skidding across the paper. “How’s it going?”

“Uh, good,” Thor says, shaking his arm out and trying to see how much he can salvage on the page. “How about you?”

“Good, good,” Korg says, nodding his head. “I just wanted to say, I had the same problem with my girl back in the day, before I learned better.”

“...What problem,” Thor says.

Korg bends his head conspiratorially. “I mean, when you’re a big guy and you’re young you think you’re supposed to be in charge or whatever, but she taught me to be a giver. You need to be a giver, man.”

“What,” Thor says.

The set of Korg’s face is sympathetic. “It doesn’t sound like your brother is too, uh, satisfied. If you get my drift.”

What,” Thor says; and then he shakes his head sharply, and holds up his hand to stop Korg from saying anything more. Through the white-hot outrage rising in him, he spares a brief moment to be very thankful he isn’t having this conversation with Ingrid, at least, before he gets up so fast his papers fall off his lap. “Alright, I’m — leaving. Bye, Korg.”

“Communication is the key to a good relationship!” Korg calls after Thor as he stalks off to find his brother and kill him very, very slowly.

 

As luck would have it, Loki is in his room when Thor finds him. This way no one will be around when Thor kills him and throws his body into space.

Loki takes one look at his face and starts laughing so hard it devolves into coughing midway through. He claps a hand over his mouth to contain it, shoulders shaking.

Thor throws a spark of lightning at Loki; the little shudder that rolls through him barely takes the edge off the burning indignation rising in Thor’s chest.

“This would be the thing that gets you,” Loki says, voice still wavering with laughter. “Oh, I’m a genius.”

“You’re a lying little snake,” Thor says.

“I thought you loved snakes,” Loki says, batting his eyelashes. Thor throws his boots at Loki’s head.

“Now everyone thinks I'm a bad lay!” Thor says.

Loki affects a tremulous, brave little smile. “Oh, I suppose I'm just not yet used to your brutish ways — your lack of reciprocity — perhaps in time — ” He starts laughing again when Thor tackles him back on the bed and sits on top of him, trying to smother him with a pillow.

“You go back out there and tell them I'm the best you've ever had,” Thor says, tightening his thighs around Loki to stop his wriggling.

“Listen, I know I'm a liar, but I don't think even I can pull that off,” Loki says.

Thor lifts the pillow again — and then pauses.

There's a goading glint in Loki’s eyes, a challenge in the expectant sprawl of his body; the minute Thor sees it, he recognizes it for what it is.

There's no way you can get across that river, Thor; and Like you can sneak into Father and Mother’s room without them noticing; and I bet you're too scared of our tutors to skip lessons today. Dare after dare after dare: the things Loki doesn't want to do first, or alone.

Thor sees it, and lets the pillow fall from his hands.

Ah, well. Such are the trials of being the elder.

“Then I guess I'll have to prove it to you,” Thor says, and bends to kiss Loki’s smirking mouth.

There is no hesitation in Loki’s response: his mouth softens under Thor’s as he fists his hands in the front of Thor’s shirt and yanks him down until he's fully sprawled on top of Loki.

Loki’s mouth is wet and greedy. He traps Thor’s tongue and won't release it for a long, suckling moment that tightens a fist of need in Thor’s belly. The strange sparking newness of this could throw him off, if not for the blood still pumping hot in his veins that won't let him think too hard, if not for the fact that he has a challenge to take up.

Loki tries and tries to bring fury to their kiss; instead, Thor catches his head in both hands and gentles it, teasing Loki’s mouth further open with the tip of his tongue, sucking the curve of his lower lip until it's plum-tender and swollen. Loki squirms beneath him, trying to get more — but then he gives, slapping Thor’s hip in one last lashing-out before he goes boneless, letting Thor have his mouth.

When Thor finally releases Loki, he's flushed and swollen-mouthed and wild-eyed, panting for breath.

“I hate you,” Loki says. His voice is syrupy-thick with swallowed heat.

“I know,” Thor says, wiping his mouth dry and letting a little — only a very little — smugness come through. He doesn't want to drive Loki to stab him, after all; just throw him a little off balance. Then he tugs the collar of Loki’s shirt away from his long, pale neck, teasing the hollow of his throat with his fingertips. “Get rid of our clothes,” he says.

Loki looks for an instant as if he might refuse just to be contrary; but then his hands make a sharp gesture between them and they are both bare. The long, skin-warm press of their bodies is a heady thing. Thor catches Loki’s wrists in one hand and holds them tight as he kisses his way down the length of Loki’s throat, nipping softly to feel Loki shudder beneath his mouth. He investigates the slope of muscle down Loki’s shoulders, the hard wings of his collarbones, the tight pebbled buds of his nipples: nothing of his brother's he hasn't seen before, but fascinating and dizzyingly new like this. A pink flush rises up and washes down Loki’s marble-pale skin; Thor teases it brighter and brighter across his heaving chest, biting the planes and dips of him until Loki growls and winds his legs around Thor’s hips, rubbing the hard dripping curve of his cock against Thor’s belly.

Thor keeps Loki’s wrists in one hand. With the other he grips their cocks together and strokes them once, shuddering at the hot friction of it.

Loki wrenches his wrists against the grip of Thor’s hand, but doesn't break free. “Do not make me ask,” he snarls.

“Have I done that yet?” Thor asks, lifting an eyebrow. He releases Loki and then flips him onto his belly. Loki glares at him over his shoulder, but fists his hands in the sheets and arches his back up when Thor kisses down the length of his spine.

“Oil,” Thor says, tapping Loki’s hip.

“I see I have to do everything around here,” Loki grumbles, but he snaps his fingers, and oil pools slowly in the curve of Thor’s palm.

Thor opens Loki up as slowly as he himself can stand; it's too slow by far for Loki, who bucks back to impale himself further on Thor’s fingers, cursing Thor’s name.

“I'd hate to be accused of having brutish ways,” Thor says reasonably, and twists his fingers just as Loki looks like he might be summoning up the composure to kick Thor somewhere tender.

Eventually it's too much for even Thor: he slicks up his cock with the remaining oil and fucks Loki open, hand slipping off Loki’s hip until he wipes it clean of oil on the sheets.

Loki is stubbornly quiet, though Thor can read volumes in the minute shifting of his limbs and his clenching hands. Thor fucks him in slow patient thrusts, tipping his hips into different angles until finally Loki exhales sharply, slapping the bed with one hand.

“There,” Thor says aloud, and proceeds to fuck Loki as thoroughly and tenderly as he knows how; the curve of Loki’s back fit to Thor’s chest is a familiar thing now, but the way he responds to Thor’s mouth on the back of his neck is not.

The hold Loki has on his tongue finally breaks. “Damn it, fuck me harder,” he snaps, clenching around Thor’s cock as if he can take it himself.

“This isn't enough for you?” Thor says in his ear, solicitously. He reaches under Loki and palms the stiff length of Loki’s cock. Loki’s hand flies up to grab the back of Thor’s forearm, nails digging in. He doesn't let go, even as Thor strokes him to completion — he just digs his nails in harder, and squeezes around Thor so tight Thor has to bite the inside of his cheek hard, the bright copper flash of blood clearing his head enough that he doesn't just follow Loki right over the edge.

He watches Loki pant for breath, head bowed and hair falling around him; he watches him realize that Thor is still inside him, still hard.

Loki turns his head to look at Thor over his shoulder, eyes burning bright. “You and your bruised ego,” he says. “You're so predictable.”

Thor pulls out halfway and thrusts back in, startling a little moan from Loki’s throat.

“Is it too much?” Thor says, thumbing the ring of Loki’s hole stretched around his cock.

“Like I can't take whatever you give out,” Loki scoffs.

“Oh, good,” Thor says.

When he fucks Loki this time, he is just as slow, just as gentle; but Loki, oversensitive from coming, can't stop shivering and shivering beneath him. Twice Thor even draws from him something that sounds like a sob.

Thor puts a hand on Loki’s come-slick belly, running his hand up and down it as Loki’s cock slowly rises hard again.

“I need — ” Loki starts, voice failing him halfway through.

“I know what you need,” Thor says. He rolls his hips forward, pulling Loki back toward him at the same time. Loki cries out and puts a hand on his cock; releases it immediately like it's too much, but then starts stroking himself again like he can't even help himself. Thor fucks Loki into coming a second time — squirming and moaning throughout, trembling like he doesn't know if he wants to get away or wants even more.

Finally, Thor lets himself go: he finishes buried deep inside Loki, coming so hard there's a dull roaring in his ears, popped like he's been through a pressure change. His face feels winter-numb.

When he pulls out, Loki almost falls forward, before Thor catches him. Then he finds himself distracted by the spread of Loki's cheeks, his swollen hole slowly leaking drips of Thor’s come.

Thor bites his lip, hard. Then he turns Loki carefully onto his back and lies down next to him. If he has to look at Loki’s thoroughly fucked ass any longer he might actually lose his mind.

Loki has his eyes closed like he's sleeping; Thor looks at him, wet-mouthed and come-slick and still panting for breath, and then touches two fingertips to Loki’s soft parted mouth.

“I think we should tell everyone you cried, it was so good,” Thor says, smirking.

Loki opens one eye and looks at him sidelong. “I think you can go around tomorrow as palpably smug as you plan to be, and count yourself lucky that I'll let you,” he says waspishly.

Thor leans over to nip the base of Loki’s throat, the soft skin under Loki’s jaw when he throws his head back to make room for Thor. Then he says in Loki’s ear, “I'll accept your counteroffer,” and draws him closer into his arms.

 

The next day, Thor enters the sparring ring and sees everyone immediately jump to their feet. For a brief confusing moment there's a cacophony of noise around him, before it resolves into roughly thirty of his people trying to shake his hand or clap him on the back at once.

“Congratulations, sire!” he hears in ten different voices, and lets his hand be pumped up and down by an earnest, beaming Brandt.

“Marriage is a wonderful thing, sire!” Brandt says. “You'll see — why, my wife and I...”

The rest of his words trail off to Thor’s ears as he stops listening. Across the room, he sees a flash of green that solidifies into his brother, leaning against the wall and smirking.

Loki meets Thor’s gaze; winks, and slowly disappears.