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“I’m here.”

The words rang like a promise in Thor’s ear, but when he crossed the room to envelop Loki in his arms, all the God of Thunder could do was count the seconds before the other man relaxed. Once, their embraces softened Loki instantaneously. Now, the bond between them ached – raw and fragile, and perhaps – more than perhaps – Loki watched the tether wear long before Thor even realized what lay between them.

Pulling back, the blond slid his hand along Loki’s jaw, brushing the dark hair aside to wrap around the side of his brother’s neck as he’d done so many times before. The space between them sparked. Stretching his neck and tugging Loki close, he pressed his lips to his brother’s. An act done less time ago than it felt.  Only a fortnight before his coronation, Thor had taken his brother to bed. They’d fucked over the centuries and slept together far more times than that. He’d informed Loki he’d have to be wed, and when Loki cocked a brow and lifted to move off him, Thor held his brother in place, stating his desire to enjoy themselves one last time. He held so tight. Not out of a desire to not let go – he’d never realized how serious the bond was between them then. No, he mourned his freedom – while celebrating his prowess – lamented the need for propriety – while questioning how anyone could think what he had with his brother was serious…while never telling a single soul what went on between them behind closed doors.

Now – now they were brothers, but they were not. Thor reigned, and no one could advise him wed. Despite this, a wedding bloomed to life in his imagination. He and Loki – a ribbon bound their hands. Perhaps flowers woven into Loki’s hair as he’d done time and time again as a boy when Loki wanted to read, and he ignored his brother’s desires to drag him – and whatever tome – from the library to the field.

However, Loki pulled away. “You are you,” he said, repeating Thor’s words. “And I am me.”

“Yes?” Thor frowned. His brows furrowed.

Loki  smiled – a small and fragile and true expression. “I can’t change you.”

“Nor I you.”

A flutter of lashes, and Loki was out of his arms. “I don’t desire to leave again so soon,” a conditional – a possibility, always with Loki the chance of change, “I believe it would be best if we were just brothers.”

“I do not understand.”

“This,” Loki gestured between himself and Thor. “It doesn’t work when we’re more. I can’t change you. When we were younger…I used to be the one you listened to – even with the Warriors Three, you’d listen to me, and I didn’t let myself think to hard about how you only did so when I told you what you wanted to hear. I thought I could change you, and when someone else did better than I’d done in centuries with you, I took personal offense,” Loki explained. Crossing his arms, he met Thor’s eye. “We will both be better off if we communicate clearly and avoid toeing into areas which aren’t mutually beneficial.”

Thor’s heart fell. Loki did not want him. Suddenly, having his brother back seemed a pittance compared to the yawning hole which opened between them. Their paths – though now crossing – still were not united.

And Loki did not want them to.

“I understand,” Thor relented, forcing his gaze to not flee to the ground.

Loki’s eyes narrowed. Distrust and disbelief sparked as he asked, “Do you? Really?”

“Yes,” Thor straightened himself to his full height, but still the room stretched wider. “We are brothers. You are you,” Thor repeated, hoping it meant for Loki all it entailed when he first said those words on Sakaar, “And I am me.”

Not a dismissal but an acceptance. A desire to express how he saw Loki – all of him now. The stubborn refusal to acknowledge their differences died with Loki’s second death. Loki was his own person. He had his own wants and needs. All those years of assuming his brother would remain at his side – without any clear return beyond Thor’s own presence – they were foolish assumptions made in the belief that Loki was his shadow, and only when Loki spoke such words back did they come to haunt Thor. In their centuries together, people treated Loki as an afterthought – a reflection of Thor or Odin. Only Frigga, truly at all times, considered Loki in full. When Odin scolded Loki’s inability to match Thor’s strength, Frigga taught him to dance with daggers. So clear it once had been that Loki was someone who could betray but never be betrayed, who could incite anger but never be angry, who could cause pain but never be pained.

“Good,” Loki smiled – bright and tentative and honest. “I have missed you, brother.”

Missed what? The closeness? Or the anchor to belonging? The one who touched and took and gave pleasure before walking away to use the lessons on another? Thor shook his head. Such thoughts served no purpose here. “And I you.”

In the weeks which followed, they did not share a room – though there was little space. Thor knew better than to ask. Loki had his ways. When Banner was himself, Loki and he stood side by side in the healers’ rooms. They dressed wounds with magic and science, and soft words passed between them. At first, they were sharp remarks – softened only by their making into whispers. Thor caught only a handful of these. Always busy with ruling. There wasn’t enough food – Loki found a way to resupply. There was an issue with the engines – Banner fixed it. Heimdall guided them through debris from an exploded planet while Loki and Banner ensured the engines ran smoothly. Never had Thor felt so useless. A god of nature – trapped in space.

The further Loki pulled away from Thor – the closer to Banner and even striking up a strange training partner relationship with the Valkyrie – the swifter a coldness descended upon the King of New Asgard. While his advisors ranted about resupplying at an upcoming planet, Thor wondered if Loki had felt so bereft every time Thor left. He’d dismissed their relationship being more for so long – but they’d been committed to each other. Most nights spent together, many in coitus, and yet – if they were truly engaged, how many times had Thor betrayed Loki? How many others – even if they were never for more than one night – did he take to his bed? Their bed whenever another wasn’t beside Thor within it. How many times had he betrayed Loki, yet Jane broke his brother’s once seemingly endless patience.

Loki’s words echoed in his ears. His brother attempted to teach him, but he would not learn. When faced with a human life, he’d had no choice, but Loki’s words from the Bifrost tugged at his thoughts, and it was them which pulled him to take Loki aside once more to speak, and only as they sit sharing a meal did he realize the quiet comfort Loki’s presence had once been.

“It was not Jane,” Thor informed him, and Loki chuckled into his food. “No, brother, hear me out. She didn’t change me. Being human changed me. You spent centuries as the only one who saw me and saw fit to attempt to teach me anything of use. She had Selvig and the Lady Darcy. The Son of Coul and Barton also assisted – they taught me I was not always the strongest. It was not her alone, and if you hadn’t taken the steps which sent me there, I would have never learned.”

“I have no desire to have you stroke my ego,” Loki retorted. He smiled all the same.

Thor nodded – once down and curt. “I believed you needed to hear the truth of the matter.”

Loki regarded him. His green eyes survey Thor before the dark-haired one shrugged. “I see.”

“Do you?” Thor reached out. The hall buzzed around them, but they sat in a corner, left alone by Loki’s doing at Thor’s request. When the thunderer’s hand brushed Loki’s , the seidrmadr pulled away.

“It changes nothing, Thor. You are still you. I am still me”

“I did not mean those words to be a punishment.”

“Nor do I,” Loki informed him. “They are simply the truth.”

Though they resumed taking meals together in the crowded hall, Loki spent more time speaking with Banner and Valkyrie than his brother. The whispers turned to compliments – soft jokes shared with dark eyes, and when Heimdall warned of the Hulk’s emergence, Loki sends him back to sleep – after spending a day being carried around – practically cradled – in the green giant’s arms.

In a gap between meetings, Thor snuck away. Down to the healers’ rooms, he waved and smiled before slipping into the back to seek Loki. A shimmer of magic, and Loki frowned back at him. Though Thor pretended not to see, the look of wonder and enchantment on Banner’s face told him enough – more than enough with the glimpse of blue he’d caught as Loki resumed his As form. A beast burned in Thor’s belly. Many looked at Loki that way once – and only once. There had been a time when Thor would beat anyone who dared, and another when he’d laugh and suggest Loki taken the fool to bed. Even if Loki did the latter, the men and women always lost that wonder, and though Thor never understood entirely why – because he’d never grown bored of Loki – he encouraged it only knowing that to be the case. However, Banner’s eyes sparkled with fondness for weeks – and if Loki could trust the doctor with his Jotun form, they’d undoubtedly slept together at least once.

This was it. Loki would be lost to him forever.

Drowning his sorrows and lost chances in ale, Thor did not question when someone requested entry to his room, and when Loki stepped inside, he kept his frown as neutral as possible even as his cock ached at the sight of Loki’s pale skin.

“I believe it’s time I tell you of Thanos.”

“I know of the Mad Titan. You mentioned him before.”

Loki pressed his lips together. “I have, and I haven’t.”

“What do you mean?” Thor sat back, spreading his legs as if Loki will see and slip between them. Once – he would have. Now, he sat across from Thor.

“Banner encouraged me to inform you of the full truth.”

“Then where is he?”

Loki sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Last time he heard this tale, he went green. I thought to spare us all the noise.”

“I see.”

Whatever that phrase had come to mean, Loki took it as a signal. Torture and cruelty unlike anything Thor might have ever imagined unfolded in Loki’s tale. Drunk and exhausted – of hiding his love and of ruling – Thor wrapped his arms around his brother. The younger folded into the embrace, and a shiver ran down his spine. Only the slight dampness exposed Loki’s tears.

“He will never harm you again,” Thor promised though he now knew how empty such promises were.

“There is more,” Loki murmured. Pulling away, he revealed the Tesseract. “I used it to escape the fires…I would not be here if I didn’t, and if it had been exposed to Surtur’s flames, neither would any of you.”

Thor bowed, pressing their foreheads together. “I would not care that you’d taken it either way,” Thor admitted. “However, knowing you are alive for having it does take some of the sting of our prior battles away.”

“Good.” Though the war headed their way was anything but, Thor smiled in agreement at Loki’s response. Green eyes sparked in half-merriment as Thor couldn’t.

“I love you,” Thor professed.

“You know I love you, brother,” Loki replied, and his brow furrowed in mirror of Thor’s own. “What?”

“I want you by my side. I wish to make love to you, marry you, see you grow gravid with our children…I was a selfish lover. I have betrayed you more times in matters closer to the heart than I could count,” Thor shifted forward, running his thumb across Loki’s bottom lip. Letting his hand fall away, Thor stepped back, sitting in his chair once more. “You wished for me to be honest with you, and I have not been. That is my wants, Loki. You and I – kings of New Asgard. Lovers – for the rest of our days.”

A laugh startled the king, but nothing prepared him for Loki to sit on his lap. “You are rather clever, brother. I must admit – I shouldn’t take pleasure in knowing you are as easily manipulated in these matters as I am, but the thought of you yearning to fill my belly with your heirs…” a shiver traveled down Loki’s spine as he ground his hips down into Thor’s. Their hard cocks rubbed together, and from the heat in Loki’s eyes, there was a quim between his brother’s legs – his own – the paired genitalia owed to his Jotun form.

“Loki? Do not play games with me now,” Thor warned. His hands rested heavy on his brother’s hips.

“Like the one you played when you told me I’d be better left on Sakaar?” Loki retorted, and Thor cannot respond. Reverse psychology had been something Stark and Banner once discussed. An amusing matter and one which proved surprisingly fruitful in his endeavor to reclaim his brother. Now – with Loki straddling him and speaking of bearing Thor’s children, there were no words which would thank either human enough. Licking his lips, Loki leaned down – his cool fingers trailed over Thor’s neck as his hot breath fanned around the blond’s ear, “If we were to join tonight, it would be well timed for such things.”

Loki needed to say no more. Flinging his brother onto his bed, Thor peeled off his armor as Loki used magic to send away his own. As well as he’d once known Mjolnir, better yet did Thor know Loki’s body. Slow would match the love which Thor desired to demonstrate, but speed betrayed the need which ached beneath his breast. Like a dance, they pulled together in quick, quick – slow movements until – like a king upon his throne – Loki sheathed the full length of Thor’s cock within his dripping sex.

“No one else,” Thor promised as Loki rode him. “We are one after tonight.”

“Perhaps a more formal proposal first,” Loki teased.

Thor laughed, kissing every inch of skin he could reach. “In the great hall – before all of Asgard.”

Loki hummed. “And Heimdall shall wed us.”

“That would undoubtedly show a united front,” Thor agreed. His hands traced Loki’s abdomen. “It will take time to do right. You will be heavy with my seed by then.”

“Fitting.”

Throwing his head back, Thor groaned at the tight heat calmly working up and down his cock. If this was how Loki wanted to conceive their first born, Thor would not argue. A marriage signaled permanency, but this – the way Loki’s body opened around Thor. The flush across his brother’s cheeks – a child between them would hold Loki faster than anything else, and Loki wished to bear one with Thor.

Months later – married and content though bearing more scars and – as these great evils seem wont to do – more friends, Thor rested with his back against a tree. Loki leaned back against Thor’s chest. Their hands joined over the swell of their children, and though any day could bring the twins, they speak of how soon Loki will be healed enough to conceive the next. A royal repopulation effort, the trickster joked even as Thor grew hard at the image.

Loki was Loki, and Thor was Thor. A hundred children would not keep the two together if Loki did not will it, but Thor found no qualms in being cautious nonetheless. Perhaps a hundred and one would.