Some days, his thoughts become too loud in the silence of his expansive hall and everything becomes difficult. Sitting on the throne with its velvet cushion and arm rests, wearing the golden crown on his head, and walking with a scarlet cape trailing after him becomes unbearable. The soft fabric become spikes, and his bottom and arms bleed. The weight on his head reminds him of all the right decisions he could have made but was too blind to see, and every second with it on makes him feel inadequate. He feels as if he will trip on his cape when he walks, and he cannot have that embarrassment when he is the leader of the realm. So, he chooses to sit upon spikes until his work is finally over for the day.
Then he tilts his head at his subjects as he walks slowly into his chambers without taking any supper, and peel off the decorations on him that make him the king. He sits in the dark. He looks around at the rich curtains and furniture, brightly colored and shining, a sign that it is always going to be looked after and cleaned by someone other than himself, a full length mirror with an intricately carved border by the best metalsmith in Asgard, and sees only himself, weary eyes a darker hue than what they once were in childhood, sitting alone on a bed big enough for three, and he heaves a heavy sigh.
There is no way he can do this alone.
When the last of the sun falls for the moon to rise, he leaves the bed and walks towards the rainbow bridge, to where Heimdall is waiting for him, ready.
No words need be exchanged, and as he passes Heimdall, he wonders how he looks to the eyes which see everything everywhere. He will never ask, Heimdall will never tell, and he will never know. He does not want to know. He sees himself, and that is enough.
He feels the rush of the Bifrost working, and in seconds the change in the air. In Asgard, the air is always comfortable. It may not be warm or cold, but it is always perfect. He never feels anything when he is there, even if he straps on his armor and spars for hours. But now he does - he feels the frosty wind that blows at his tanned skin, and he shivers.
He loves the reaction from cold weather.
This time, he makes a mental note to thank Heimdall when he goes back, for Heimdall had probably seen the lifelessness in him and granted him mercy by sending him in front of palace doors. It is dark, always night here, and it is just as he wants. He knows better than to walk into the hall despite the obscurity, so he goes down a secret path he’s memorized hundreds of years ago.
His pace begins to quicken, some life returns to him, and he finally pushes a boulder out of the way. Candlelight, soft and yellow as it is, blinds him temporarily from the darkness he’d just come from, and he instinctively brings an arm to shield his eyes.
“Your visits are becoming more frequent.”
The voice is amused, tranquil and flattered all at once. He blinks countless times before his eyes adjust to the light once more, and he sees the body to which the voice belongs, sans superfluous ornaments on his body that make him king as well.
“Laufeyson.” He greets, voice shaking.
There is a scoff. “You come all the way here and cannot say my name? What are we, Thor? Politicians or lovers?”
This catches him off guard, because they are neither. Is it meant to confuse him? Were he back on his throne approached with this question, he would not have had the ability to answer. Except he isn't - he is away from all that, and his mind begins to work faster now.
He knows the best rebuttal is not words but action, so he looks into green eyes, also darker than they were when he first saw them, and suffers a spasm of anguish at the thought. They both grow old with each year that passes, but they are not allowed to die together, much less die at all.
Cold fingers touch his cheek when lips press softly on his. He lets himself relax, and shifts so he can properly hold Loki when the kiss deepens and becomes tongues twisting around each other. When they pull away to catch their breaths, Thor murmurs the name and receives a smile in return.
“What shall we do this time?”
The flickering candles create just as much shadow as light, and, annoyed, he blows a few out. He feels lips twist into a smirk against his skin and hears a chuckle.
“Will you lie with me?” he asks quietly, though there is no need to. There are no guards outside the door and the walls are thick, but he is tired and does not trust himself to raise his voice.
The laughter that comes next is bitter. “Would you have me in the dark, my liege?”
He jerks away.
“I am not your king, and I do not plan on having you tonight.”
“Then you would talk?”
“I do not wish to hear your voice,” he says viciously. Though he curled his lips distastefully as he said it, he knows it is a lie. He wants so much to have the smooth voice in his ears sighing his name and only his name, without titles and epithets. He wants to feel the shiver that runs down his spine, a different and more pleasurable feeling than what the cold wind gives him, and he wants to fall asleep to a body pressed close to his.
“Then I shall do as you wish.” comes the reply, and it is beyond agitating. He knows Loki is being purposely obedient.
“What sort of king takes orders from another?”
“What sort of escapism is this if you insist on bringing in status?
This quiets and humbles him. The rest of the candles are put out by magic, which he has always been both fascinated and intimidated by, but the frost giant next to him is so yielding that he puts aside all the insecurities he’s ever felt, and presses kiss after kiss along a cold arm.
They find each other’s lips again, and he moves so his hands begin to undo the strings on top of Loki’s shirt. He feels vibration when a sound escapes, and it sounded like it came from Loki, but they’re pressed so tightly against each other, it may as well have been him. He continues untying, enjoying how even with the power to make his shirt disappear with a blink of an eye, Loki allows him to do it manually. He likes to think that it is because it means extra skin contact, which Loki tries to get as much as he can before Thor must go back.
“Why have you come? It has not even been a month since you were last here.”
He blinks in the darkness since he has never been asked that. Most times, his reasons were obvious, but in the past, there had been decade long intervals before he would walk alone to the Bifrost. He stretches out his arm and makes circles on Loki’s stomach with his thumb.
“Do you not know?”
Loki laughs. “You are an old, old man, weary of your kingship, and none in Asgard have eyes to see it.”
He should be offended, but he has lost the pride he once felt for his kingdom and his people, and he wants badly to agree, laugh with Loki, but he when he opens his mouth in preparation for the laughter, no sound comes.
“The look in your eyes is enough.” Loki says, wisely like the sages that come to his council.
“How can you see me?”
Insecurity seizes him. “Shall I cease these visits, then?”
Loki makes a thoughtful sound, and reaches to cover Thor’s hand with his own. “It matters not to me. Let us say that you are making up for all the times I would have come to you, had I my own Bifrost.”
That is answer enough for him, and he smiles for the first time in days.
“I did not want to talk,” he admits. “Just to be here.”
“Attached, are we?”
“Yes.” He nips at the bottom of Loki’s lip and then kisses him fully.
They lie together in silence, listening to the wind whistle outside and hold each other in the dark. He feels he has a purpose when he’s on this bed, though smaller than his and less lavish, Loki lies on it and that is all he needs. For a long while, he forgets all the weight of his reign and feels only Loki’s weight on him when he throws his leg over.
“Thor.” Loki murmurs, and breaks him out of his thoughts.
He turns and finds that he can see the outline of Loki and other objects in the room more clearly than before. He sees the marks on Loki’s skin and traces them.
Loki cranes his neck and kisses the skin behind Thor’s ear, then moves to capture Thor’s lips. He responds immediately and brings his hand up to grab Loki’s hair, jet black and so fine when he feel it that he lets go a little, in fear that he is hurting Loki.
They curl around each other and feel each other inhale, exhale, twitch, and shiver.
“Will I wake to see you here still?” Loki whispers and kisses his chest.
“Loki,” he says, voice full of regret. “You know I cannot.”
Loki repeats his question.
“I don’t know.” Frustration seeps into his tone, and he cannot bear to look at Loki, so he turns his head.
He has responsibility of a kingdom, citizens to look after, laws to make and see enforced, treaties to be written, visits to be made, war heroes to congratulate, Heimdall to thank.
He doesn’t want to go back to any of it. Why should he? In his hall stands soldiers with sharp spears and gleaming armor, but he knows, as he is sure his forefathers knew, that his kingdom was merely gilded, and been for millennias, though outsiders could never tell. He knew they are no better than the ones they cross swords with in battle.
He had sworn. He had gotten down on his knees and, in front of all that could fit in the hall, swore to his father and mother he would fulfill all his duties as king, and it had never occurred to him that being king, wielding Mjolnir, hearing the constant shuffle of servants around him, seeing the forced neutral looks on the lords, and feeling the stuffy air in Asgard would exhaust him. But Loki wouldn’t understand; he could only comfort.
“I have obligations.” he answers, and regrets how pathetic it is.
“Oh,” Loki breathes. “Fallen king, I apologize. I did not realize your allegiance was so strong.”
“Loki,” he warns. “I will not have you turn this into a joke.”
“But it is exactly what you need,” Loki kisses him innocently.
“I need you.”
“Then why do you deny yourself?”
He wants to protest, wants to tell Loki all the reasons why he can’t, except that it means he has to start from the beginning, and the story would take days to tell, days which they don’t have. So he presses his lips into a thin line to show his displeasure.
“Obligations can wait one morning, can they not?”
They can, but there is the guilt. He is the proper king, and he had promised to be so until he had an heir old enough to succeed him, but he has had no heirs or consorts. Only women who come and go, and Loki who he sneaks off in the night to hold. He has a realm depending on him and his decisions, and one morning off has amazing potential to be disastrous.
Opposing guilt is everything else, especially the comfort he currently is experiencing -- he feels at home, serene and clear headed, and his mind is worn. He can no longer bear making decisions that determine the life and death of other beings; he feels he has no right to it anymore. Whether Asgards loses or wins, blood stains his hands. He has done his job, his kingdom was at peace -- for now.
When his people begin to rally in support of a new war, he will have to take in a deep breath and prepare himself for bloodshed.
He rests his cheek on the nape of Loki’s neck and breathes in.
Loki is frowning; he knows this without a doubt. It was unfair to ask him to stay, and he would hear no more of it.
He should have known better when Loki presses the issue, for he said it himself. Loki is the Jotunheim’s king, and he would not be ordered by another.
“Sleeping in does no harm.”
Just as Loki need not listen to him, he need not listen to Loki. He wonders what will happen now, possibly a battle of wills? He grimaces - he did not come here for a fight, so why must Loki insist?
“My decision is final.”
“Your decision,” Loki mocks. “Here I was under the impression you no longer wanted to make decisions.”
“Loki,” he says, pained. He truly does not want to do this.
“How long has it been since you first stole into my chambers? I had just matured, and since then, you have not stayed a full night, ever.”
Guilt gnaws at him now. “I am sorry.”
“You are not.”
If he does as Loki asks, then he will have succeeded in convincing Loki he is sorry and that he does care, and Loki means more to him than he could ever say. Loki is the one that holds him up, and he is the one that holds Asgard up.
“Just once.” Loki sounds as if he is straining to not beg.
“It will become a habit.”
“Did you say to yourself when you first blackmailed your gatekeeper into sending you here?”
He had, and look where he was now.
Loki snorts. “Then do as you please, great golden king, and leave me to wake on my own.”
He has no response for that. The desire to say yes and agree to stay amplifies, and suddenly he thinks less of the people who wait for him. He’s had too much time to command others, and finds that he loves when Loki commands him - he craves it.
“Tell me to,” he whispers, and it is an admission of a secret he’s kept for countless years, one that only Loki would know.
Loki takes his arms and pulls him so that he’s on top and nuzzles at him. “Stay,” he orders in a surprisingly deep tone Thor has never heard before, and it resonates in him.
He feels for Loki’s face and kisses the closest part his lips can reach. He doesn’t want to speak, and Loki knows. He has acquiesced to Thor, and Thor will comply with anything Loki demands.
Habits are not all bad, and he has had harmful ones in his youth, rough as it was, but Loki was not a habit - he was an addiction.
Heimdall would have no choice but to pretend to understand if his king showed himself the following morning, or maybe even the following day or week. He will stay for as long as Loki desires.