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King of Fools

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Loki is quiet, he's always been quiet, sliding into spaces without sound. Thor doesn't hear him, but there's a difference between a room when he is in it, and when he is not. A tension, something quietly patient, an itch behind his eyes, the faintest pressure against his instincts. It's hard to describe, but it's Loki, in a way that's as familiar to Thor as his face. It's more than enough, and Thor's awake before the settling of weight against his stomach, and before Loki's shadow blocks out the muted glow of the torches.

He open his eyes to the new dark, and finds his brother scowling down at him. He thinks Loki believes himself threatening. If he saw himself in a mirror he would be surprised, or perhaps he would be horrified. Because it's not so different from the face Loki wore as a child, when he'd come to Thor, after dreams of giants eating his insides.

He watches Loki for a minute without speaking. Content to let him stare down at him.

"Did we have plans I wasn't aware of, brother?" he asks eventually. Though he knows for a fact they did not. Loki seems compelled to haunt his rooms whenever he has nothing better to do. Sometimes it feels like punishment, though Thor is unsure which of them he's punishing. The cold distance between them is Loki's choice. Thor bears him no ill will. He never has.

"Perhaps I've come to do you harm," Loki says quietly.

Thor does his best to nod from his position. "Then hurry up and get on with it. I was dreaming of gloriously defeating an army of demons."

The silence stretches.

"Or do you intend to stare me into submission?" Thor asks. "If anyone could accomplish such a thing I believe it would be you."

"Don't mock me." The words are sharp, but there's a sliver of desperation. Loki's fingers tightening where they press into Thor's skin. He leans closer, as if he might dig into Thor's chest and force his attention, shadow stretching across the bed. Loki never used to have so many edges. Thor thinks another him would choose to dislike this newer, darker version of Loki. But he's never felt so much like he could reach out and touch him. The tangled, jagged insides Thor's never been able to see. New pieces to a puzzle he thought he'd finished long ago. Perhaps he'd be cut to pieces if he tried, that changes nothing about the temptation. 

But Loki has not yet given him permission to touch. Thor is not sure that he ever will.

"You're being overly dramatic, you deserve it," Thor says roughly. He doesn't have the wits to argue with his brother at the best of times. But he pushes himself up to his elbows, pillows shoved aside. One tumbles from the bed, with a sound almost too soft to hear.

"You're a fool to trust me," Loki tells him.

"It's not the first time I've been called a fool, and it will likely not be the last," Thor admits. "I should be offended how often it comes from your mouth, offended, though not surprised." He has been through too much to react to childish insults. Especially ones that are thrown so lazily. Loki has far sharper weapons.

"I will lie to you." Loki makes it sound like a threat rather than a statement of fact.

"You've always lied to me," Thor reminds him. "I can count on one hand the number of times you've volunteered a truth. I do not care, keep your truths, if you must."

"I will harm you," Loki adds, quiet and steel-edged. But Thor's taken more grievous wounds from Loki's tongue.

He brushes the threat aside. "We're brothers, we will try to bruise each other until we're both dust."

"There is more between us than bruises." Loki's voice rises in volume, harsh and cutting, as if trying to convince Thor of something he doesn't see. His eyes are tight and dark, wounded somehow. Thor's seen more of that lately than he cares to. But even if he asked, he doubts Loki would share.

"We're gods, we fight more energetically than most." Thor counters the sharpness of Loki's tone with softness. Which leaves a frown on Loki's face, pale in the dark. All planes and angles that shift and turn, too many to see.

"I would not forgive so easily." He makes it sound like a fault.

"It is not your choice to make," Thor says stubbornly. "And I trust you, no matter how many times you come to my rooms and try to prove you will murder me in my sleep."

Loki's mouth twists, as if it unsure whether to smile or snarl.

Thor rises further, sheets sliding around his waist. Loki's hands slip free, lost somewhere under the folds of it. He doesn't pull back, he stays where he sits and stares down at Thor's face. There's a frown between his eyebrows now. As if Thor has perplexed him. Thor thinks he should remember this day, for that does not happen often.

"I've noticed that you haven't yet," Thor says when Loki seems strangely unwilling to say more. "Murdered me, that is," he finishes.

"I may, if you continue to speak." The sharpness in Loki's voice softens on every word, grudgingly. Though there's still a threat, Thor can see it in his eyes, something vicious that swells and recedes like a wave.

Thor decides that he has no hope to win this with wits and words. He lifts his hands and catches Loki's pale face, pulls it down. He's ready for a struggle, for teeth and spite and complaint. But there's nothing, against all his expectations, Loki does nothing at all to stop him. The one time Thor expects him to fight -

The room is silent, save for the almost inaudible shift and drag of Thor's fingers in Loki's hair, troubling the lines of it into disorder. There are long, cold fingers on his face, but they're gentle, careful in a way that gives away too much. It continues for far too long, this wordless conversation, faces tilting, finding an angle that's pleasing, and then heated - and that's when Loki stretches and breaks away.

"You are a fool." Loki's voice is softer, closer, warm against Thor's mouth.

"You are my brother," Thor says, ending the matter once and for all.