The Royal Baths are housed in one of the more impressive structures in Asgard. The tower is taller than the surrounding temples, all draping columns and arches of gold. There are pools enough on the ground floor to accommodate most of Asgard's population, but it's the levels above that would truly awe someone unaccustomed to the sight.
Thor has known such opulence his whole life. He never notices such details, unless someone (usually Loki) admonishes him to look.
The fact that it's now midnight should diminish the view. Thor's always been one for sunlight, and for the way it glints off the golden city, winding into every corner and brightening every column and corridor. Thor's never given much thought to the night. Darkness is for secrets, and what does Thor have to hide?
But as Thor climbs the sprawling staircase to the tower's highest floor, he realizes that the muffling darkness does nothing to lessen the beauty of the baths. The full moon hangs low in the sky, and its illumination glimmers more subtly than sunlight on the surface of the water. The stars add nothing by way of useful light, but the shining walls capture and reflect them just the same, adding somehow to the silent montage.
Thor moves more quietly than usual as he crests the final stair and reaches the antechamber, with its gold-crafted benches and basins. He pauses. Considers. He doesn't need to remove his clothing. He could stride into the main chamber in full armor, it's not as though he's here to bathe himself.
But the more he thinks about it, the more pleasant Thor finds the thought of submerging. He doesn't usually bathe at night, but perhaps there's some pleasant advantage to be had. There must be some reason Loki favors nighttime over the brighter hours of the day.
So Thor strips down. He sets cape and armor aside, then the rest of his garments, folding the fabric carefully onto a wide bench. The air is cool but not unpleasant. Barefoot now, not to mention naked, Thor walks quietly down the corridor that will take him into the vaulted chamber of the topmost bath.
He spies Loki in an especially shadowed corner of the enormous room, and approaches as softly as he can.
"You're a terrible sneak," Loki informs him when Thor is still twelve feet away. "One wonders how you ever learned to hunt."
Thor laughs—he knew even before he tried it that he would never slip past Loki's senses—and he picks up his pace now that he's been called out. He's tempted to take a running leap into the pool, just to see Loki try and avoid the splash, but in the end he decides on a more diplomatic course. He slips into the water a scant foot from Loki, seating himself and offering a lopsided grin.
"Thor." Loki is holding an elegant vial of something (even from where Thor sits, whatever's inside it smells good), and sets it deliberately aside on a silver tray beside the pool. There are other items on that tray. More vials, small jars, a tall bottle. Nearer at hand is a goblet, and it's this that Loki picks up, ignoring Thor long enough to take a drink of whatever wine he's chosen tonight.
"Is there a reason you're here, besides the obvious?" Loki finally asks, setting the goblet aside.
"The obvious?" Thor blinks in confusion.
"To annoy me," Loki clarifies. "Is there some other purpose to your intrusion?"
Thor grins despite the jibe (possibly because of it) and says, "Perhaps I thought you might like company."
Loki gives a dry snort. "You're stupid, Brother, but not that stupid."
"Mother was worried," Thor answers more candidly. "I told her you had expressed no interest in the banquet, but when you didn't show your face she decided something must be wrong."
"She worries too much."
"She is our mother." An obvious truth. Thor wonders how Loki can still be surprised at the force of her concern.
"You can reassure her at your leisure, then," Loki says, leaning back and draping his elbows over the edge of the bath. The movement looks impossibly graceful, and Thor is momentarily distracted by the dark shadows along Loki's throat. There's elegance in the slant of his posture, in the narrow lines of his torso. Thor finds himself wondering what those shadows would taste like, and the thought startles him into a blush as he wonders where that thought came from.
He's wanted to touch Loki before, but never with his mouth. Never like that.
But he can't evade the thought now that it's wormed into his head, and he wonders if Loki can see his blush in the dark. He feels suddenly overheated, skin too tight and pulse racing. Loki is watching him, a curious expression on his face, and Thor is mortified. He can't school his expression. He doesn't know how to deal with the fact that his blood is starting to pool south, to places he desperately needs it not to go.
"Why are you still here?" Loki asks when the silence has stretched too long. "You've needlessly checked up on me. You've delivered Mother's message. You've annoyed me sufficiently for one night. Don't you think it's time to leave me in peace?"
"I…" Thor's voice stumbles ineffectually.
"I mean it, Brother" Loki insists, voice hardening. "Leave. I did not come here because I desired company."
But Thor can't leave now. He can't stand up and get out of this pool. Not without baring proof of the unbrotherly sentiments that have caught him off-guard.
Loki draws in a slow, deliberate breath, then releases it in an approximation of calm.
"Fine," he says. "I'll go." Then he stands, and the water sluices from his skin, catching the moonlight. His body is visible down to his hips now, naked skin and shadow, and an unwilling gasp escapes Thor's throat at the sight.
The sound draws Loki's attention, and Thor can feel the confused weight of his brother's stare. He can't see Loki's face—that would require raising his eyes from the dripping contours of his brother's body—but he can imagine the expression well enough. Eyes wide, lips barely parted, uncertain curiosity in the arch of his eyebrows. Suspecting, maybe. Probably. Loki always seems to know Thor's thoughts before even Thor himself does.
"Brother," Thor whispers.
Loki doesn't speak, but he does move. A step back and away, calculated retreat. He's going to get out of the water. He's going to follow through on his threat and leave.
No, Thor thinks. Not yet. The idea twists and lodges in his chest like panic. Loki can't leave, Thor needs him here.
He moves without thinking, reaching for Loki with vicious speed. Loki stumbles back, but he's not quick enough by half. Thor grabs him by the wrist, twines an arm up around his waist, and drags him down.
Loki lands hard, knees knocking against the submerged stone bench as he falls astride Thor's lap. Thor chokes back a groan at the bare hint of friction, and he tightens his hold when Loki shifts as though trying to slip off and away. Thor's arm is unyielding where it's wrapped around Loki, just beneath the surface of the water. Loki's wrist is slim and shivering in Thor's grasp, and when Thor finally looks up, he finds his brother watching him with wide, unreadable eyes.
Loki's face is a cautious blank. But his pulse is a messy tremble beneath Thor's fingers, his breath shallow and uneven, and Thor knows what he's done is wrong. The glint of emotion behind Loki's eyes could be terror. It could be fury. It could be the shattered edge of betrayal as he notices the hard nudge of Thor's interest between his splayed thighs.
Something fierce and reckless snaps loose in Thor's chest, and instead of letting Loki go he tugs him closer. He releases Loki's wrist, but only to slide his hand up the smooth line of Loki's throat and curl firm fingers around the nape of his neck.
"Loki," Thor whispers, and drags him into a kiss.
In the quickly receding corner of Thor's brain still capable of thought, he expects Loki lash out at him. His brother is hardly defenseless, even if he's no match for Thor's raw physical strength. Loki has his tricks.
But Loki doesn't lash out. He doesn't jerk away or cast a spell to turn Thor into a rodent or a small fish. Loki doesn't precisely cooperate with the kiss, but he holds still as Thor's mouth turns demanding. Loki resists long enough to make a point before opening for him, and Thor groans as he tastes the shadow of bitter wine on his brother's tongue.
How could he not have known how badly he needs this? How is he only now realizing all the greedy things he wants to do to his brother?
The first time Loki tries to break from the kiss, Thor holds him stubbornly in place. Loki's fingers slip on Thor's shoulders, trembling touch as Thor claims his mouth like a conquering army. The second time Loki pushes away, Thor lets him go just far enough to breathe.
Loki's expression is still unreadable, but even in the moonlight Thor can see the flush darkening his pale skin.
"What's gotten into you?" Loki asks. His voice is smooth and soft. "Are you drunk?"
"No," Thor says, then internally berates himself. If only he were capable of dissembling, that would have been the perfect excuse. Too much drink, a lapse in judgment, a conveniently blank memory come morning… Loki would let him get away with it. He wouldn't question.
But Thor is a terrible liar (that's Loki's territory), and anyway it's too late now.
The silence that falls between them is fractured and fraught. Thor can't breathe, he can't think, he can't convince his hands to loosen their hold. He can't stop staring at Loki's lips, swollen from the force of Thor's kiss.
"Let go of me," Loki says.
"I can't," Thor whispers. "You'll run away."
Loki laughs, a low mirthless sound that doesn't reach his guarded eyes.
"Of course I will," he says. "What else would you have me do?"
"Stay and what?" Loki murmurs. The blankness cracks and something taunting filters through. "Let you touch me? Let you violate me? What kind of brother would I be if I did that?"
"Please," Thor begs, voice raw with the way Loki's words are affecting him. "I would have you."
"And what then?" Loki sneers. "Will you invite yourself into my bed at will? Petition Father to make me your consort? Fuck me in front of all the citizens of Asgard?"
"I don't know," Thor whispers, physically shaken by the anger in Loki's voice.
"That's because you do not think," Loki spits, and then he takes advantage of Thor's indecision, slithering out of his uncertain hold and vanishing beneath the surface of the water. When he rises again, several feet away, his hair is slicked flat against his skin. Water pours off him, and he's out of the pool in the time it takes Thor to suck in a breath.
"No!" Thor moves without a plan, rising to follow. Loki is fast, but so is Thor, and he intercepts his brother before either of them has time to think. His hands are quick and sure as he drags Loki to him. Loki's back is slick against Thor's chest, and Thor's arms encircle him, holding him fast. His own arousal is heavy between his legs, aching and insistent, and Loki shivers beneath his hands.
"What would you have me do?" Thor asks, nuzzling Loki's jaw and pressing a tentative bite to the line of his throat. A hiss between Loki's pale, perfect teeth—the first hint that he might not be entirely unaffected by Thor's pursuit—and then Loki twists in his arms.
"I would have you release me," Loki says. "And stop this nonsense." But there's a quaver in the words. Loki never lets fear touch his voice. He's too accomplished a liar for that. This is something else.
Thor glances down and nearly moans at what he sees. Loki's body is more honest than his mouth, and he can't shield his interest from Thor's eyes.
Thor releases him so abruptly that Loki stumbles. He hesitates once he's free. There's retreat in the tense line of his back, and in the jut of his shoulders. But he freezes where he is, not looking at Thor, not running away as he supposedly intends. His back is turned, but Thor knows what he saw. He's not the only one tripping over desires both unexplored and unsated.
Thor considers his brother's failure to retreat. He weighs the mess of his own conflicting urges and tries, for once, to think of what must be going on in Loki's head. If Loki wants this even half as badly as Thor, what's holding him frozen between flight and the decision to let Thor stake his claim?
Inspiration strikes, sharp and clear, and Thor steps forward.
He closes the space between them, curling close along his brother's back. His hands are light this time when he sets them on Loki's arms.
"I'll happily hold you down if you'd prefer," he says. An offer to take away the choice—to take the blame entirely on himself.
Loki snarls to life at the words, whirling on Thor with alarming speed. Thor's hands fall aside, dislodged by the unchecked motion, and Loki stands taut—poised on the edge of a choice Thor can't even try to predict.
He takes the decision out of Loki's hands by yanking him close and kissing him.
He expects further resistance, but finds pliant surrender instead. Loki's lips part for him, Loki's body molds against him. He doesn't reach for Thor, doesn't touch him, but he's docile through Thor's kiss.
The floor is chilly and hard when Thor takes them down, but it's better, it's so much better. He can pin Loki down and rub right against him this way. He can draw a fractured gasp from Loki's throat as the slippery friction fills them both with pleasure. Thor licks a stripe up Loki's throat, biting at the trembling muscle. Loki chokes a wild sound, arching beneath Thor's weight. His hands scramble for purchase, one sliding into Thor's hair and the other to grasp at the bunching muscles of his back. Loki tastes clean and sweet beneath Thor's tongue, and Thor groans without shame.
"Can I," he breathes, nosing at Loki's throat. "Brother, please, let me—"
Loki's legs are already wrapped around Thor's waist, and when did that happen? Maybe while Thor was being distracted by the flavor of Loki's skin. Thor's hips nudge forward without conscious intent, but his brain catches up a moment later, and he knows how this works (at least in theory). He knows what the hot length of his arousal is seeking between Loki's thighs.
"Not like that, you idiot," Loki growls, and Thor props himself on one arm. He finds exasperation clear on Loki's face, despite the wary moonlight and the deep shadows. Loki's lips are parted on a string of panting gasps, but he collects himself and shakes his head disapprovingly.
"Then how?" Thor demands. "Tell me what to do."
He doesn't let Loki stare him into embarrassment. He meets his brother's eyes stubbornly, too determined to back down now. He's desperate to take his brother all the way along this path.
Loki reaches to the side—to where the silver tray sits all but forgotten—and picks up one of the small vials.
"Not really intended for this," Loki mutters, sounding more irate than aroused as he unstops the delicate container. "But it should suffice. Give me your hand."
Thor offers his hand, curious, and watches Loki drip some finely scented oil over his first two fingers. Loki shifts beneath him, creating space between their bodies, enough room to take Thor's hand and maneuver it between them. Loki's legs spread wider, and he directs Thor's hand to the shadowed space between his thighs.
He doesn't explain in words. He doesn't have to. He guides Thor's fingers to the tight ring of muscle, and Thor may not be the smart brother, but he's smart enough to work this out. He presses in with both fingers, and watches Loki's eyes flutter closed.
"You are beautiful like this, Brother," Thor says. Loki's eyes snap open, anger in his expression, but before he can protest Thor drives his fingers deeper. Loki's head falls back, neck stretching taut, throat bared as a moan escapes him. Thor pauses, not sure if he should press deeper still.
But then, if Loki's body can be made to accommodate Thor's cock (and it can, it will, that's clearly what both of them intend here), a couple of fingers should be no problem. Thor slots the digits all the way in, all the way to the final knuckle. He stops with his hand flush against Loki's body, and pauses for a moment. Then he curls his fingers.
Loki curses in several languages, hips bucking off the floor. His fingers tighten and dig into the muscle of Thor's arms, and Thor pulls partway out only to drive his fingers roughly in again.
Loki is mesmerizing like this. His body arches beneath Thor's touch, naked and trembling. Thor feels his breath stolen from his chest as he watches Loki gasp and writhe, as he takes Loki apart with nothing but his hands. Thor will be king of Asgard one day, but he's never felt so powerful as this.
"Enough," Loki finally gasps. "Enough, give me your hand."
Thor withdraws reluctantly from Loki's body and again holds his hand out between them. Loki pours a more generous quantity of oil, this time into the palm of Thor's hand.
"I assume you can work out what to do with that," Loki says, but he's too breathless to sound superior.
And anyway, Thor can work it out. He curls his hand around his own cock, stroking several times until the oil has him slicked.
He doesn't ask if Loki is ready.
They both cry out when Thor ruts inside, but Loki's voice carries louder than Thor's ragged grunt of pleasure. Loki's arms are around Thor's shoulders, clinging with a desperation Thor hadn't known his brother capable of. Loki's breath comes in uneven gasps, warm rush over Thor's jaw as he buries his face against Loki's throat.
Thor's hips stutter forward, uncoordinated at first, but quickly discovering a fierce, frantic rhythm. His hands are rough, and his restless grip digs bruises into Loki's thigh, his flank, his wrists. He holds Loki down even though Loki is rocking to accommodate his thrusts, crying out when Thor angles their bodies just so—Thor shifts to hit that spot every time, and Loki's voice dissolves to ragged gravel.
Loki reaches the precipice well before Thor, and the slickness of his orgasm is sticky between them as Thor ruts more roughly into Loki's body. Loki's ankles lock together behind Thor's back, and Thor drags his brother flush against him as his rhythm finally falters. He spills within the tight heat of Loki's body, and feels a feral thrill at the idea of having claimed Loki so deeply there's no going back.
Loki is his now. His in a way that Thor's women have never belonged to him, no matter how many times he's taken them to bed. Loki belongs to Thor, because what they've done here tonight is a secret no power in the nine realms can ever erase.
These thoughts hit him later, though. Several minutes pass first, when Thor can't actually think in words, never mind such philosophical ideas. His skin buzzes with satisfaction, and Loki's fingers smooth idly through Thor's hair.
"Are you going to get off of me any time before sunrise?" Loki murmurs. His voice sounds tired. There's satisfaction in his tone, but there's something darker, too. More calculated, less confident.
"Maybe," Thor says, but he shifts to pull out at least. His flesh is oversensitive, and he hisses as he does so. Loki flinches, but makes no sound. He watches Thor with careful eyes, the unguarded edge of passion banked and hidden, like it was never there.
Thor should say something. 'Is this all right?' seems a stupid question considering the liberties he's already taken. 'Are you hurt?' won't get him anything but a glare and a sharp shove. 'I love you' gets stuck in his throat and refuses to come out no matter how he tries.
Loki takes pity on him, expression softening (as much as it can in the harsh midnight shadows).
"We seem to have made quite a mess," Loki says, squirming in a way that makes Thor abruptly aware of just how sticky they both are.
"Perhaps a bath?" Thor suggests, and Loki cracks a smile.