The air tastes of ionised emotion, crackling across his skin. The day had belonged to the battle and now night belongs to contemplation. His mortal companion had as always offered their company and their comfort, but Thor keeps his own counsel now. He wants only to be alone.
But even that much is stolen from him. He feels the approach before the touch, like a whisper of prophecy, like an incantation to awaken times long lost. But he does not turn from the lights spread before him, the great never-sleeping city named for the Jórvík of old, Jórvík-across-the-Sea. He will not rise to such, not this evening. It is satisfaction his visitor does not deserve. He has stolen the day. He will not have the night too.
But then day has always been yours, and the night his. This is just the way it is meant to be.
“You are thinking too much.” Amusement coils about his limbs like the lightest touch of manacles not yet closed, the serpentine grace of a familiar body slipping ever closer. “How peculiar! Certainly that is something I never thought I would find myself saying to you.”
“And you are too eager for battle.” Thor swallows, tastes bitter gall and hard truth. “I never thought to say as much to you.”
“How the tables do turn.” In the ironic tilt of his words Thor hears a memory, of banquet tables overturned and feasts gone to waste and ruin. But his mind shies away from such recollection. It is their shared childhood, shared adolescence, shared life of golden spiralling towers and floating architecture and roiling blue seas that fall into aurora-riddled sky.
He can think otherwise when he looks out onto the concrete towers of this new Jórvík, its shadows and squalor made something less by the bright blazing lights the mortals plaster all over it as if to rebel against its inherent darkness. Midgard is different, a realm utterly unlike Asgard. Here, he should be able to pretend. But with the press of insistent fingers upon his arm, the clarion call of Asgard and all he has loved and lost there cannot be ignored.
“You are not looking at me.”
He tightens his lips. “I do not wish to.”
The words are spoken so lightly, yet they burrow deep beneath his skin, burrs pressed against nerve-endings to set them sparking over and over again. “How peculiar, when you are named the Liesmith,” he says, bitter, and Loki’s chuckle burns like fresh-settled frost.
“You say that like it’s a surprise.”
“You have gone too far.” His hands tighten about the railing, fingertips imprinting this memory upon the cool metal. “I will not look at you.”
“Mortal life is cheap, brother.” Breathing the words against his skin, fingers moving to close over his, Loki smiles with deep unfelt sorrow. “Why resent me, for spending so freely that which has so little value?”
He draws back only when Thor turns, eyes blazing with awakened silver fire. Lazily he raises his hands in mock-surrender, taking half a step backward. And yet somehow his words come just half a dozen steps closer, carving themselves directly onto the trembling muscles of his clenching heart.
“Ah, there you are,” he whispers, eyes alight with victory, and Thor turns his back even though he knows it is already too late for them both. For them all, perhaps.
His rough words go unheeded. “You are not my king.” Loki’s own voice is smooth silver rain as he lets the words fall upon his skin in cool even drops of measured malice and glee. “You are not even my brother. Command me not, Odinson – I will go when I’m good and ready.”
Mjölnir is not here now. But it is never far. His hammer-hand clenches, loosens, clenches again. The distant rising charge, its desire to come to his hand – he feels them both like the thoughts of a second mind laid over his own. Together they can break and destroy and erase all thought until frantic focused motion has remade the world into the shape he most wants it to be.
And yet it is Loki who slithers closer, moving from the waist, spine a sinuous curve.
“I want this night. I have killed for it – although all those little lives I took to garner your attention are of no consequence to those such as ourselves.” A hand rises, two fingers twirling idly in the rich gold of Thor’s hair. “They paid for this meeting with their blood and their screams. Would you deny them that absolution and render their sacrifice worthless? Leave them to rot as so much meat and filth upon this rotten ground with nothing to make it seem as though it was done with divine and true purpose?”
Thor shoves him. Hard. The balcony is large and open and they face the railing; Loki goes down on his back, sprawled across the hard paved stone. He had held no weapon in hand to go flying, but they have never needed to be armed with anything but words and fists and memories and a thousand years of history and longing and desperate darkening desire. Loki bares his teeth and he might be smiling but then all Thor’s roiling mind can think of is the insatiable hunger of a wolf bound by the heartstrings of his kin for far too long.
“Might have I this dance then, brother?” Loki says with cheerful abandon. And then he is on his feet and then Thor is on his back and his lips are all tearing grasping biting heat. With a half-swallowed shout he rips free, tastes blood and madness in the iron-tang warmth.
“Get off me, trickster!”
“Get on me, thunderer,” he replies and his laughter dances upon the air like lightning released from a genie’s cursed bottle. “You want this. You’ve always wanted it.”
“Do not touch me.”
Loki presses so hard against his chest Thor feels the creak of ribs above his stuttering heart. “But what bothers you more, brother dearest?” he asks, head tilted in curious fascination. “The fact that you desire me in ways a brother never ought desire another, or the fact that you can only seek out in hate what you believe should so easily be given in love?”
Again, his own blood is bitter and cold when he speaks with half-numb lips. “You do not know what love is.”
“Ah, but I know much of hate.” And Loki tastes of cursed sweet memory when he presses bleeding lips to his, whispering all the while: “And I do so love to hate you.”
The surge upwards is as much invitation as it is denial, and Thor can see the blinking lights of the city through the bars of the wrought-iron balcony. “Leave them out of this.”
Loki follows his gaze, and his mad smile only widens. “Then do not bring your battles here,” he says, dreadful in his sensibilities as he looks back to his brother. “This is a world of mortals, Thor. And we are gods. Come fight with me across the universe, if it bothers you so much to see them pay for the divine glory we so rightly deserve.” The long clever tongue snakes out to play upon those ruined lips, his eyes almost coy from beneath the dip of long dark lashes from beneath lashes. “But then maybe you like it. The sacrifice. Their blood spilled upon the altar where you cannot help but fuck me raw.”
This time Loki allows himself to be shoved side, grasping one balustrade to stop himself from collapsing completely as Thor turns to blunder blindly inside and away. Yet Loki will only allow so much; in the darkness of his room Loki comes upon him like a darker shadow, grasping his wrist so his nails dig deep against the veins he finds there.
“Or shall I fuck you?” he says, spider spinning a suggestion that catches Thor’s breath in his throat, strangles all reply before it can be spoken aloud. “I should like that. Knowing all those little lives were given so that the Almighty Thor might spread his legs for the pleasure of his little trickster brother.”
He roars, turns, but it is too late. Blundering into Loki’s traps, as always – goaded and caught once more. Though he does wonder if it’s really a victory for Loki if he saw it coming and rushed headlong into it anyway. Or perhaps that just makes it twice the victory, that Thor can see the trap and will accept it for what it is.
You want this.
And again he is on the floor with Loki above him, gleaming black and white in his leather and pale Aesir skin even though Thor has never known any other creature with a soul wrought in so many shades of grey. Then Loki actually giggles, the sound bringing with it a sharp gleam of seiðr about his wrists. Mjölnir trembles as his own hand flexes open then closed, though it does not come to him now.
Loki does not. Leaning forward he grants instead a long and slow kiss. When he rises Thor feels as though he is drowning, looking up at a rippling ever-changing face through the surface of the water he is being held under.
“Yes,” Loki says, shark’s grin filled with layers upon layers of teeth. “Yes, I think I shall. It will be so much better that way. No pretence in that, after all.”
A stranger seems to mouth those words, and yet everything about him is familiar: this half-crazed creature is everything he has ever known, everything he will ever know. Loki’s eyes widen, as if reading his mind and rewriting everything there before Thor has had chance to think it for himself.
“Oh, yes,” he whispers again. “I’m mad. You’re mad. Perhaps we might even be ironic about it and just say it runs in the family, yes?”
The manacles loose half a second later and Thor lurches upward, grasping and grabbing at every inch of flesh and clothing he can find. And Loki is laughing, pulling just out of reach. Thor half-stumbles forward, pushes on regardless until he shoves Loki hard against the nearest wall. There is the thump of a head, the crunch of a hand held at the wrong angle and Loki laughs all the harder as he juts his hips back. Thor lets out a gasp, feels bones in a delicate wrist grinding together like broken twigs inside his clenching fist.
“Stop this,” he hisses, even as he snaps his own hips forward.
“I finish what I start,” Loki murmurs, head turned just enough for a single eye to fix upon him like a beacon calling him to a death wrought by a siren’s clawed hands. “And I’ll finish you.”
The tables turn again, with Loki a dervish in his hands. Thor feels his thoughts scatter like so much wasted mead and banquet as he hits the ground hard. Loki is heavy upon him, unnaturally so. This time his face presses against the floor, and even the rich carpet of the mansion seems paltry and cheap compared to the images of bright shining memory-bound Asgard.
And it’s entirely another rich and drunken memory writhing above him, ripping at armour, yanking it free, pulling it away. For a moment Thor feels fear: this is not how it goes. In their couplings he is the one who holds Loki down after the prelude of yes and no and maybe and only if it’s you; it is Thor who tells himself with every thrust and every press of lips to mouth and pulse and trembling throbbing cock that he does this to show love, to show affection, to tell Loki that he is needed that he is wanted and that Thor would do anything anything at all to keep him nearer his own heart.
But this cannot be love, not with those dry fingers twisting up inside him, nails digging into sensitive flesh as Loki leans down close and whispers against the back of his neck, right where the executioner’s axe would fall: “Am I your first, brother? Go on, tell me. Tell me that I am your first – and then I shall be your last.”
But then it is love, and Thor thinks this is why it hurts so much it becomes rich burning pleasure. Because Loki’s seiðr is strong, but not that strong. Thor could say no. He could call Mjölnir to his hand; Loki cannot hold them apart, not for long. And Loki knows that. His fingers leave blossoming purple bruises as he holds him down more with his body that with the magics that thrum within it, and every moment of pain only makes the pleasure tenfold stronger.
“You’re enjoying this.”
Thor wants to laugh, wants to bite. Perhaps he has caught his own tongue on those thoughts because blood fills his mouth and it tastes of life far more than it ever has death. “Not as much as you, I would wager.”
“Hmm, perhaps.” There comes a press of heat against him, hard physical evidence of weeping pleasure not yet taken. “I cannot deny a…fondness, for seeing you this way.”
Fingers fist in his hair, pulling up with casual cruelty. A cry wrings free from his throat, but then stutters with the advent of a greater second coming: Loki has pushed inside, strong and true like a key fitted to its lock. When he thrusts again it is the turning of the tumblers, the lock unleashed and a door thrown wide open to the strange new worlds beyond. His roar shakes the building like thunder, he can feel rain pounding against their skin even though they are indoors and Loki is laughing like the world is ending and everything with it.
“Say my name.”
Thor grits it out between teeth and tongue. “Brother.”
And Loki pulls harder, like Thor is a horse he has a mind to break in more ways than one. “Say. My. Name.”
“Loki,” he breathes, and Loki’s answer is more cackle than true word, the chattering cry of a murder of ravens taking dark wing across the sky to blot out the sun and unseen stars that lurk always behind its blinding brilliance.
“Do you love me?” But he doesn’t wait for an answer, all breathless hysteria and growing grasping delight. “You love me, don’t you. Even as I break you, even as I fuck you, even as I hate you, all you can do to stop me is love me.”
Thor comes so hard he feels as though the world really has ended and there is nothing left but his own hollowed-out husk and the shrieking harbinger of Ragnarök twisting and turning like a storm above. Like that storm he braces his hands, arches back and jerks his hips, pushing up with such violence Loki almost goes flying.
Having expected the languid remnants of post-coital satisfaction Loki is so easily held down beneath his greater weight. Spread open before him now, Thor sees that fingertips and eyes spark both with gold-streaked green seiðr and with wide surprise. Thor looms over him, breathing hard, sweat trickling from hair and temple to sting like false tears against his eyes; blood trembles upon his lip, drips from the ache of his nose. One eye has hazy vision, the swelling around it worsening with each passing moment. Yet he stares, unbroken and not yet finished.
Loki stares back. Already surprise is melting into bliss, his hips jerking upwards with bright inspiration. “I’d ask you to return the favour,” he says, placating taunt like sweet poison upon split lips, “but I don’t think your hammer has charge enough to light the storm, as it were.”
A stinging open-handed slap rocks his laughing face hard to one side. Thor doesn’t bother to wait to see his reaction. Instead he slides down his body to where Loki had opened his armour just enough to free himself, and takes the cock there deep into his throat.
Loki’s hands scrabble for purchase at temple and jaw and the nape of his neck, but nothing will deter Thor from his own pace. Not that Loki appears to care, for Thor works him hard. Every time Loki tries to jerk his hips up to wrest back control, he digs his thumbs hard into the hollows of his hipbones and shoves them down hard with warning graze of teeth along hard length.
Such acts are not his usual wont; there are few men Thor would do this for. But he’s had Loki’s lips on him enough time to divine what it is that the trickster himself might prefer in a partner. Tongue, of course: quick and darting and silver and smooth, lips working to form perfect words of filth and craving that he then whispers against trembling velvet stretched tight over hard stone beneath.
Loki cannot possibly know what it is he says. Thor himself barely understands the words vibrating from throat and up along his brother’s length, but they are a spell as strong any drawn from within ancient tomes of dust and promised madness. He hums deeper, rumbling up from deep within his chest, and Loki comes like sudden winter, cold and furious and aching as he arches up. Thor chokes on it, but somehow seems it could be no other way.
When eventually he does draw back it is only to find Loki still sprawled before him. He doesn’t care that they are enemies by word and by deed, that blood soaks into the carpet in a fashion that promises some stains will never be removed. Not that Thor truly knows whose blood it is. His own, Loki’s; mingled together as it is, it doesn’t seem to matter. But then perhaps it does, because these days this is all the shared blood they have between them anymore.
“Why do you do this?” he asks finally, voice little more than the broken eggshells he walks upon every time he dares come close to his once-brother. “When you want this as much as I do?”
Loki rolls his head back and forth, dark hair dragging through blood and sweat; when he rolls his eyes upward, pupils wide and stark, his smile is all bloodied teeth and broken promises. “You know me. I simply must have my little games.”
“The mortals would not see such games as little,” he says, hoarse, and Loki wheezes out a chuckle that suggests perhaps Thor’s weight had been too much for him. Not that he seems to care as he raises a hand, bruised and bloody, holding it out as if in invitation.
“The mortals see us as gods,” he says, and now he sounds perfectly conversational, as if he and Thor are sitting in the conservatory with the whole of Asgard spread before them like a promise of entwined futures still to come to their waiting hands. “And rightly they should. They are as ants, and we the boots that crush them to dust.” When Thor does not take his hand he moves it forward himself. Pressing against the bruised space just beneath his brother’s swelling half-closed eye, he speaks with near-gentle satisfaction. “You never used to be afraid of who you were, Thor.”
“And yet you still are,” he replies bleakly. It is only the worse when Loki presses low laughter to his lips and smiles into the blood and the bond and the love that is always as strong as the hate that makes everything worth the price they have paid.
“Yes,” he whispers with deep delighted content, “and perhaps that is just the way we want it to be.”