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Strangers to Ourselves

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Clint” Steve barked on the coms, giving up on any ominous innuendos. “It's not just a strength-enhancing serum – it's sex pollen ! Loki will go into a frenzy and you're just – you're just human ! He'll kill you !”

Not if I take it too” Clint said calmly.

Everyone just stayed speechless for a second.

“Clint – ”

“You think I'm having fun here ?” the archer spat.

 

Clint rolled on his back, tangling up in the sheets. His head briskly jerked on the side, his fingers clenched ; but he did not wake up.

 

I'm not – we're not going to fuck. Not with you. No way in hell !”

He couldn't breathe, he was hot, too hot, as though his skin was catching fire.

“Let's just – let's just get away from each other. Until it's over...”

But Loki grabbed his arm and licked a long stripe up his bicep –

 

Clint was covered in sweat ; his eyes were moving restlessly behind his eyelids. He was still moving with sudden, jerky movements. And he was still not waking up.

 

“Let's make a deal” Loki whispered against his skin.

“What – what deal ?”

 

He choked in his sleep and arched in the bed, panting and radiating heat.

 

“Let me fuck you – and I will show you first why they call me Silvertongue.”

 

Clint clenched his jaw and let out an inarticulate whimper, trembling, his fingers instinctively slipping down his boxers –

 

He wanted it, he wanted it, he needed to be filled, to be stretched, he missed it as though he would have missed a part of himself, and when Loki straddled him, when he pinned him down, he screamed for it, he begged for it, and it hurt and it burned but Loki forced him to take it and he came and he came and he came –

 

– and he came before he could even touch himself, with a shameless, obscene groan, shaking uncontrollably in abandon.

He rolled on his side, breathing with deep, heaving gasps. His orgasm had woken him up, but the powerful afterglow made it very difficult for him to come round. Pieces of his dream lingered in his mind on the way out, extreme close-ups of Loki's face, memory of the strong grip of his hands as he dragged him up in his lap.

 

“You were good, Barton.”

He was wrung out, and Loki's voice as he praised him was clear and perfect like a sharp diamond. The god's hands manipulated him, controlled his every move as though he was just his puppet. Just his fuckdoll. There was a hand in his hair, petting him.

His head dropped down in overt submission, and he stammered with heartfelt, desperate sincerity, “Thank you, sir.”

 

Clint rolled on the side, still panting, his heart rapidly calming in his chest, his groin a hot, sticky mess. He grabbed his alarm clock and stared at the digital numbers for a long minute as the dream finished unraveling in his head.

 

Then he closed his eyes and threw it to smash against the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“I'm not gay.”

“I know, agent Barton. It's all there in your file.”

Sitwell patted the folder with a lenient smile, and Clint repressed the urge to punch his teeth down his throat. Sitwell hesitated, then slightly pursed his lips at the archer's combat boots resting on his pretty suede desk blotter.

“Could you get your feet off my desk, please ?”

“'Fraid not.”

Clint crossed his arms and gave the man his best blank look. Sitwell – SHIELD agent ; SHIELD headshrink ; pain in the ass on a free-lance basis – smiled again, and the archer was glad to see it straining at the edges.

“Very well. Let me ask you again, then.” He entwined his fingers together and stared back. “Did you experience sexual pleasure during your encounter with Loki Laufeyson ? Yes or no.”

Clint gritted his teeth. “Yes, but I'm not – ”

“Ah-ah” Sitwell said, raising a finger. “No buts, agent. Yes or no. Did you have penetrative sex ?”

The archer's hands tightened around his own arms. “Yes” he growled.

“Were you on top ?”

“No.”

“Was it your first time with a man ?”

“Yes, I told you, I'm not fucking g – ” Clint bit his lip until he tasted blood. “Yes” he spat.

Sitwell smiled again. That was the reason the archer hated shrinks – the whole I-am-your-friend routine. None of this could possibly apply in such fucked-up situations. Sitwell was just a goddamn bureaucrat who insisted to play by out-of-date rules.

Also, he was really pissing Clint off.

“Do you understand that none of it can be blamed on you ? That you were both under the influence of a very powerful drug ?”

“Yes, for fuck's sake, I'm the one who made the goddamn call !” Clint exploded.

Sitwell stared at him, but didn't correct him. Clever move – Clint would have felt compelled to tighten the agent's tie a few hundred inches otherwise.

“Do you have anything to report on the intercourse ? Speak freely.”

You love this, Barton.

Clint clenched his jaw.

Next time, I will make you beg for it.

The muscles in his thighs clenched instinctively, even though he was way past the awkward age of unwanted hard-ons.

Thank you, sir.

“Agent Barton ?”

The archer's gaze snapped up. Sitwell was studying him intensely from the other side of the desk.

“Nothing” Clint said blankly.

The agent nodded patiently. “Very well.”

Clint was already getting his feet down to leave when Sitwell said, “One last question.”

Clint froze in distrust, both feet planted on the carpet. “What ?”

“Do you – in any way – connect this encounter with your compromising during the invasion ?”

The archer's entire body grew taut as steel. When he spoke, though, it was in a very calm voice, the words distinct and clear.

“Fuck you.”

Sitwell gave him a last, genial smile. “That'll be all, agent Barton.”

 

*

 

Natasha was waiting for him outside the door.

“So you're cleared for duty ?”

“Of course I am” Clint growled, striding up the corridor. “Don't get started.”

“Edgy” she noticed with a slight smile, effortlessly keeping up with him. “At least you got your revenge on all the shrinks who harassed you since Manhattan.”

He frowned at her without stopping. “I did ?”

“Well yes.” There was a nasty smile quivering in the corner of her mouth. “They're used to deal with blockheads and smartasses like you. But they were never trained to analyze the God of Chaos.”

Clint glanced at her. “You're not serious.”

“Oh, but I am.”

“They sent Loki to a SHIELD psychiatrist ?”

“Steve felt guilty for letting Doom trap the both of you like this” she said lightly. “He insisted Loki might need help. Thor concurred because he is equally selfless and equally oblivious. Tony concurred because he is a dick.”

Clint barked a quick, joyless laugh.

“I think Thornton is actually on therapy now” Natasha added. “Loki broke him in only fifteen minutes.”

Good. Thornton had been the most ruthless of Clint's analysts after Manhattan. For him to have a taste of his own medicine was just karma, and the archer was certainly not going to waste any time crying over him.

“Thus rejoice” Natasha concluded in a pretty bad parody of Thor – her cold, ironic tone did not really match his booming voice. “For your enemies are tearing each other apart.”

“Yeah, alright, this is pretty good news” he said, quirking a smile.

The look she gave him quickly wiped it off his face. “Oh God” he groaned, “you have bad news too.”

“It's customary to ask which ones you want to hear first, but I forgot” she admitted.

He squared his shoulders and said, “Alright, shoot.”

“Loki will be living in the Tower until we find a better arrangement.”

Clint gaped at her, but she kept staring forward, avoiding his gaze.

What ?” he uttered eventually. “A better arrangement – how about a fucking cell in a dungeon ?”

“As it turns out, Stark Tower is the best dungeon we have” she said. “It's a sentient building. It won't hold Loki better than an ordinary cage would, but at least it will warn us at once if he escapes.”

“You mean when.”

“Thor will be there to watch him.”

“How can you – Nat, he'll kill us in our sleep !”

“No” she said. “I understand him well enough, and it's obvious that he moved on.”

“Moved on ? He's dangerous, he's fucking insane – ”

“ – but we're not his priority anymore. I think he's trying to mend things with Thor, and killing us would be a bad move in this line of thought. Especially since he's staying under Tony's roof. I understand attacking your host is a great dishonor on Asgard.”

“Is he a prisoner or a goddamn VIP guest ?”

“Depends on who's asking.” She gave a slight sigh. “Look, I don't like this either, but I've worked with enemies before. I dated the murderer of a friend of mine for a year and a half. It's easy enough if you don't let them get to you.”

She finally glanced at him, her eyes cold and neutral. “Of course, you don't have to keep living in the Tower. But you won't leave, will you ? Since Sitwell is in Fury's office right now, assuring him that you're coping marvelously well.”

Sometimes, he hated her.

But she was right. If he wanted to get back on the field for good, he couldn't afford to be disturbed by Loki. He was a professional and he would snark his way through this, just like he had made fun of the thousand crappy situations he had encountered before.

– leave you unsatisfied, until you sob, until you beg for it –

He shook his head briskly.

In terms of crappy situations, this one probably deserved a fucking Golden Globe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clint actually managed to avoid Loki at first. The demi-god remained locked inside Thor's quarters, and the archer himself hardly got off the shooting range. It felt like he could never burn enough energy.

Natasha was right, he thought as he notched another arrow. He could deal with this just like he had dealt with everything else. He had worked with complete bastards during his circus years, and here he wasn't even required to actually work with Loki.

To have him near still ruffled his feathers more than he cared to admit ; but the sad thing was that he could not even blame Fury here. Loki was not an ordinary criminal ; he was a first-class villain, powerful and clever beyond belief. That meant that if they had only the slightest chance to turn him into an ally, they had to seize it, regardless of his previous actions. This hero business tended to overlook a lot more than the public liked to believe, and Fury was not the last to look the other way. Everyone had red in their ledger ; Stark alone had probably killed more people than Loki, to say nothing of Bruce or even Thor.

So Clint understood, and his own understanding set him on edge, because now he could not even find himself a scapegoat for this shitty situation.

Everyone was enough of a gentleman not to mention his mind-controlled episode or Doom's sex pollen, though ; so he could pretend everything was alright. And everything was alright – just like he had sworn it a thousand times to the likes of Thornton. He was fine ; he was not disturbed at having found so much pleasure in a man's arms ; Doom's perverted serum was entirely to blame, for every aspect of their “encounter”, as Sitwell liked to call it.

Clint lowered his bow and looked at his target with an irritated sigh. He had been shooting for hours now ; still he felt edgy, nervous, as though he had stayed behind a desk all day and dying for the open air. He had felt like this ever since they had gotten out of Doom's base. But today, it felt like he was finally about to explode. His restlessness had grown to the point of having him slightly, but continuously shaking ; the more he let off steam, the more it accumulated, raising his inner pressure, making him feel like his veins were about to blow. He could not focus either – his thoughts were a tangled mess, he could not keep off his unwanted memories anymore and his ability to think had just gone out the window. He felt feverish, he felt frantic, he felt as though – as though he was missing something.

Not in an emotional kind of way – this he could have dealt with, thank you very much. He completely lowered his bow, frowning as he tried to dig through his messy thoughts. No, this was a physical lack. He wanted – he missed – something. So these were in fact...

He looked at his shivering hands, realized just how tense and incoherent he was, and it dawned upon him. These were actual withdrawal symptoms.

The serum, he thought instantly.

There were plenty of twisted drugs out there that caused addiction from the very first use. Doom's pollen must be one of them. Oh, great – Clint Barton was addicted to artificial sex frenzy. Awesome. Just fucking fantastic.

But it was impossible, he realized. For every shrink trying to open his head and peek inside, there had been a doctor doing the same to his body, with more noticeable success. As it was, his tests had revealed that he was clean, both from any kind of alien disease due to unprotected sex – which was a relief – and from any remnants of Doom's twisted concoction.

So what was he addicted to ?

He glanced at his bow and ended up staring at it for a long minute. Eventually, he unbuckled his quiver, slowly set it on the floor and untied its black strap. He hesitated for another second, then wrapped it around his wrist, stuck it in his hand, rolled it around his other wrist, and twisted his hands together to tense it.

His blood pressure instantly decreased in response to the mock bond digging in his crossed wrists.

He waited for a heartbeat in fascinated horror, then opened his fingers and quickly worked himself free – the untied strap fell down to the floor in a matter of seconds. He stared at it without seeing it really, suddenly too busy dealing with a rush of merciless memories. Loki's hands heavy on his hips, pinning him down. Loki forcing him open and taking him. Loki's hand heavy on his neck, his words heavy in his ears.

You were good, Barton.

Thank you.

Sir.

He took a very deep breath and closed his eyes.

Okay. Okay. He was a professional SHIELD agent and he would absolutely not panic over a late-blooming kink. So what if he had a submissive fantasy ? It didn't quite fit his tough, snarky reputation, but he could withstand a dent in his personal image, especially since he was the only one to know. He had no problem with himself – no problem at all, he thought firmly. He was Clint Barton, codename Hawkeye, agent of SHIELD and Avenger, and he might like being tied up in bed. That was a fairly common kink. That was nothing compared to Tony Stark who had, to quote Pepper Potts, “done everything and everyone.”

But Clint was still staring at the black strap on the floor, and eventually, he ran out of lies to tell himself.

This was not just a kink. He could feel it, obviously, physically – this was far worse, far more intimate and deeply rooted than a mere fantasy. This was a physical need, a craving that might make him ill if he didn't fulfill it. Just like he might get ill from not drinking or eating enough. Only a few days and he was already on the verge of going crazy.

He was not a complete ignorant – he had completed some weird-ass missions for SHIELD, and he knew what a real-life submissive was. Except he had never felt like this before in nearly forty years of life – so why now ? Why the hell now ?

Suddenly, he felt like he had in fact caught an alien disease. It was so sudden that he could only connect it to an infectious illness. He felt tainted, dirty – ashamed. No one must ever know. At least Loki had promised never to tell anyone, and he had sounded sincere enough at... the... moment...

Clint's train of thought sputtered and came to a halt.

Loki.

Could it be an alien disease – in other words : a spell ? Fuck, Loki had submitted him to his will before, hadn't he ? Yes – yes, of course ! It was all clear now – this was just another, even more twisted version of his goddamn mind-control !

A logical objection struggled to be heard at the back of Clint's brain, but he rejected it before it could even be formulated. His growing anger triggered a warning for self-preservation, but he dismissed it all the same. His rational thinking had short-circuited, overwhelmed by a deafening fury.

Loki had caused this. Loki had debased him, finding pleasure in connecting Clint's ability to function normally with him fulfilling a beastly need in a shameful way. The bastard had done this, and thought he could get away with it. He was probably laughing his ass off, all nice and comfortable in his luxurious floor, imagining Clint twisting with lust and begging to be whipped like some bad pornographic cliché. The archer had never felt so humiliated in his life, and his wrath grew in proportion. This was the last straw. Loki was going to pay for his bullshit – and he was going to pay right fucking now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clint's state of nerves had grown into an actual fever by the time he had come up to Loki's floor. He knew he hid it well enough, but he was more frantic and confused that ever ; that may be the reason why the thought did not occur to him, not for a second, that it would be Thor who would open the door.

Of course – the godly brothers shared a floor, both so Loki would not be left unsupervised, and so they could slowly learn to get along again. Still, when the door opened not on the twisted image of a sniggering Loki his ill mind had produced, but on the large, broad-shouldered silhouette of the golden prince of Asgard, Clint was so stunned that part of his confused fury deserted him for a second.

“Agent Barton” Thor nodded. “What troubles you, my friend ?”

Clint fought off a feverish shudder, but he could feel goosebumps raising on his skin.

“Hey, big guy” he said, managing to keep his voice level. “Just wanted a few words with your brother.”

Thor frowned. “Did Loki misbehave ?”

Clint almost burst out in hysterical laughter. Misbehave ? Misbehave ? Do you know what that fucker did to me ?

But his stubbornness kept his mouth tightly shut. This was a matter between him and Loki, and he was too ashamed of his own state anyway to start explaining. He shook his head.

“No, we're good. I just want – I wanted to discuss some things with him in private.”

“Well” Thor hesitated. “I am positive my brother means you no harm, but still, would you consider –

“Who is it ?” Loki inquired dryly from behind him.

Clint's head snapped at him. The demi-god got up from his chair by the window and approached the door with long, elegant strides, like a jungle cat. When he caught sight of Clint, he came to a halt, and his gleaming eyes slightly widened.

“Agent Barton” he whispered, and there was the hint of a delighted smirk playing on his lips.

Clint thought he had ruptured an artery and his wrath was now shedding directly out of his veins and in his flesh, poisoning his entire body. He struggled not to snap and said, “Seriously, Thor. This won't take long, just – ”

“Very well” the thunderer nodded. “I had some matters to discuss with the doctor Banner anyway.” He glanced at Loki. “Brother, do not forget that you are under the watch of two powerful guardians.”

“Yes, yes, off you go” Loki said in a breath, his bright eyes still fixed on Clint.

Thor furrowed his brow one last time, but let Clint in without another word and left, closing the door behind him.

And suddenly, the archer was face-to-face with Loki and for all his anger, he could think of nothing to say. His mind was empty and blank, and he was quivering like a leaf in the wind.

“So” Loki said in a low voice. “To what do I owe the pleasure ?”

His lips shaping the word “pleasure” made Clint tremble with hatred – yes, hatred, nothing else, there was nothing else, this was a spell, a fucking spell.

“Like you don't know” he spat.

The demi-god studied him for a second. “As a matter of fact” he said slowly, “I have no idea what you mean.”

“No idea ?” the archer growled.

A sudden spasm coursed through his body and he had to brace himself not to curl up and scream. He felt feverish, sweaty, confused, his brain a maddening murmur of chaos, wild whispers in his ears.

“Stop” he groaned, screwing his eyes shut. “Stop this – right now !”

Barton” Loki said, stepping forward with a frown. “I do not – ”

That was when Clint snapped.

Before Loki could even finish his sentence, he grabbed the heavy wooden chair on his left and swung it as though it weighed nothing to smash it across that tall, haughty, proud silhouette. He had been too swift and violent for Loki to react – not to mention that the demi-god probably didn't expect this at all – but instead of breaking the bones and slicing the skin, the piece of furniture exploded against him, just like Clint's alarm clock had shattered against the wall a few days ago. The impact still forced Loki to take a step back ; for all the raging madness in his mind, Clint was one the best fighters in the world and he didn't make the mistake of punching him. Instead, he took advantage of his circus skills ; he dove on the coffee table, kicked back to stand on his hands and, without losing momentum, imparted a spinning movement to his body and hit Loki with his whole weight. He had aimed for the throat and wouldn't have missed – if not for the demi-god grabbing him mid-leap just as he threw himself forward.

The entire world turned upside down and Clint's breath was knocked out of him ; the back of his head violently hit the coffee table and everything went dark.

 

*

 

“That was interesting.”

Clint winced with pain and struggled to raise his head. His whole body felt so heavy that he couldn't move an inch. He was sitting on what was probably another wooden chair, stiff and uncomfortable, Asgardian style – according to Tony Stark, anyway, and since the resident gods hadn't complained yet...

Asgard. Chair. Loki. Right. Right.

Clint winced again as he rushed back into awareness. He tilted his head on one side, then on the other. No concussion. He wriggled a little, trying to straighten up, and realized that the reason he couldn't move had nothing to do with the heaviness of his limbs – he was tied up.

His ankles were firmly strapped to the legs of the chair, and his arms were crossed and bound at the wrists behind the thick wooden back. The sharp edges of the piece of furniture were digging into his thighs and his upper arms ; he had been restrained so tightly that he was in dull but constant pain, the ropes imprinting red marks in his flesh.

His training compelled him to keep twisting and tugging at the bonds, to test them and see whether he could get them to loosen. But they were implacable and unyielding – it must have taken Loki at least ten minutes to bind him so expertly.

He realized a strange heat was pooling in his groin and instantly stopped tugging at his bonds. He let his head fall forward with a pant ; he hadn't realized he was breathing so fast, and he tried to slow his breath for a minute or so. Eventually, he opened his eyes and raised his gaze to look at Loki.

The demi-god was seated on what looked like a much more comfortable chair, just across the room. He was leaning forward, his elbows resting on his knees and his long fingers laced together, staring intently at Clint as though the archer was an enigma he tried to solve.

“Are you calming down ?”

Clint gritted his teeth and braced against his bonds again without thinking.

“Obviously not” Loki noticed.

He got on his feet and walked to the archer, stopping just before the heavy chair. “Good thing I secured you. Struggle all you want ; when you are exhausted, maybe we can finally talk this out.”

Heat flared brightly in the pit of Clint's stomach again, but he pushed it back angrily. He couldn't help noticing that he felt indeed calmer, though – his head no longer a mess of static. The ropes were keeping him in place, firmly forbidding him to use his body, and it was as though his mind had been forced free – if that even meant anything.

“Barton.”

Clint repressed a shudder at the hint of threat in Loki's voice.

“I would really appreciate an explanation.”

The archer's muscles grew taut again. “Stop pretending you don't know, you fucking – ”

The rest of his sentence got lost when Loki slapped him across the face. It stung like a bitch and left Clint's ears ringing, but he knew that the demi-god could have sent his head flying if he had really tried. He didn't really have the time to dwell on it thought, since the next second Loki had fisted a hand in his hair to jerk his head back.

Clint's eyes widened and he let out a gasping sound that had nothing to do with pain. He stayed still, without trying to escape Loki's grip, chest heaving and limbs trembling as they strained against the restraints.

“Now” the demi-god said. “Are you going to behave ?”

Clint swallowed thickly and licked his lips, then resumed his panting. It felt as though Loki was holding his life tight as well as his hair, as though he was the only thing keeping the archer upright.

“Please” he stammered without thinking.

The grip tightened and he bit back another moan.

“Explain” Loki ordered calmly.

The archer hesitated, then cried out when Loki almost tore his scalp, the pain of his neck curving back and the tight ropes biting into his flesh adding themselves to the mix.

“I said – explain.”

“You don't know” Clint mumbled, breathing fast. “You really don't know. It wasn't you.”

He started laughing, even though he was still trembling with pain – and that was just plain nonsense, he had been tortured before, he had taken much worse, why was he so oversensitive – “If it's not you, then I'm just screwed.”

Loki's fingers loosened just enough for the pain to stop flaring white behind Clint's eyelids – he hadn't realized he had closed them. His eyes blinked open and he sagged slightly in his bonds, exhausted with physical and emotional turmoil.

“But it has to be you” he murmured. “It has to be. It just doesn't make any sense otherwise.”

“What doesn't make any sense, Barton ?” Loki said, his voice only a little less sharp.

“For me to change” Clint uttered. “To change like this. I never needed this before. It's like you turned me inside out all over again.”

He could feel Loki's hesitation ; then the demi-god completely released him, and Clint's head fell forward, his shivers growing more alarming before slowly dying out. Loki took the time to walk around him back to his own chair, and it was enough for the archer to notice just how twisted his position was – if he sagged forward, the ropes dug cruelly in his wrists ; if he straightened up, the sharp edges of the back of the chair threatened to cut his bare upper arms. This was a discreet but very real position of torture. Loki could have left him there squirming for hours.

That thought briefly took his breath away.

The next second he thought, I'm doomed. Just completely fucking screwed.

“You haven't told anyone ?” he mumbled.

Loki looked a bit exasperated. “What are you talking about now ?”

Clint glared a little. “You promised me something after that clusterfuck with Doom.”

He waited for a heartbeat, then rolled his eyes. “I don't know why I thought you would remember.”

What you said – what you did – I will not tell a soul. You have my word.

Loki stared him for a long minute.

“I do remember” he said in a strange tone.

He paused again, studying Clint so intensely that the archer shifted with uncomfortableness – as much as his bonds would allow.

“Submission” Loki said slowly, thoughtfully.

Clint stopped breathing.

“That is what you need. What you never needed, before.”

The archer averted his eyes, then on a sudden second thought, looked up at him. Loki met his gaze with his usual blank, slightly disdainful eyes.

Suddenly, he got up and went to a nearby table to get a glass of water, as though he had lost interest in the situation. Clint heard the flowing sound and swallowed instinctively, his throat dry and raspy. He had spent too many hours on the range without hydrating himself.

Loki took his sweet time with it, and eventually, Clint's sharp eyes noticed that the glass was beautifully chiseled, and the table itself was of a wood just as dark and heavy as the chair he had shattered on Loki's head. He vaguely wondered whether really Tony Stark had played with his idea of Asgardian royalty here, or if the trickster had actually crafted it all himself by magic.

After what felt like an eternity, the demi-god finally turned back and studied the shivering, destroyed silhouette of the archer for another minute.

“Now I see” he said, the glass untouched between his fingers. “You crave subservience and it troubles you. And you are blaming... me – why, if I may ask ?”

Clint raised an eyebrow. “You've been known for triggering interesting changes in people.”

“I have nothing to do with this particular one.”

“Oh, come on” the archer scoffed. “Like it would just happen. Thirty years of vanilla sex, and suddenly I'm a real-life submissive ?”

Loki hummed thoughtfully.

“Sex and submission are indissociable to you. That is worth noticing.”

The archer's anger rose again. “Listen, you – ”

“For Hel's sake, Barton” Loki said in exasperation. “I am trying to help you figuring it out.”

He suddenly walked to Clint and grabbed his hair again. The archer couldn't even huff in surprise before the edge of the glass was pressed to his lips.

“Drink.”

Clint tried to shy away, but Loki's hand could as well have been of iron. “Drink, Barton. Or I will let you choke on it, then try again.”

Another of these shudders of ice and fire coursed through Clint at these words. He was at the demi-god's mercy anyway. Without further struggling, he opened his mouth and let Loki guide him into drinking it all, till the very last drop. The demi-god instantly let go again, and Clint took a great lungful of air, slightly shivering once more.

“What – what was that ?” he panted.

“Only water.” There was a smirk in Loki's voice. “You thought I would poison you, Barton ? Here and now ?”

He went to the carafe to pour another glass, which he drank for himself. “Manhattan is behind us. I have no interest in tormenting you further.”

“You're still doing a pretty god job of it” Clint said in a dry tone.

“No” Loki said calmly. “You are the only one at work. You are so horrified with yourself that you would rather blame me, but the truth is that it is completely possible to become suddenly aware of a deep-rooted inclination towards submission – or dominance.”

“Bullshit.”

“You are not thinking clearly” Loki sighed. “Maybe I should tighten these ropes even more. It seemed like it did help you clearing your head.”

The archer shivered again and hated himself for it.

“Do you seriously believe” the demi-god went on, “that my greatest dream was always to murder my own brother so I could have the throne ?”

“Wouldn't surprise me” Clint said flatly.

Loki smirked, but didn't comment and went on, “It is a natural phenomenon, Barton. One day, you are gifted with a present you never knew you craved ; and suddenly, you are the prey of a neverending hunger. The first taste is all it takes.”

The archer closed his eyes, but he couldn't escape the truth in Loki's words. When he had taken Doom's serum, when he had let Loki pin him down and fuck him, he had tasted true, complete, willing submission.

And now he needed it like he needed air.

“So what do I do now ?” he said bitterly. “I join the nearest sex dungeon and let Mistress Sophie call me her bitch once a week ?”

“I suppose that is one possibility” Loki shrugged, putting the glass away. “I am not familiar with Midgardian standards on the subject.”

The archer looked up at him, ready to snap, but he found with a vague surprise that his anger was gone. He just felt weary now. Just so tired with all of it.

Shit, he hadn't asked for any of this to happen. He didn't deserve this. He didn't need this in his life, didn't need the humiliation and the thousand problems it would cause. Could he even keep working for SHIELD with such a twisted dependency ? He couldn't do any more missions undercover, that was for sure. What about the Avengers ? He was already struggling to prove he was up to it – after all, he was just human, just a guy with a bow.

A guy with a bow and a fucking submissive complex...

Loki was near him again ; Clint stiffened when he put a hand on his strained shoulder. The fingers trailed over the painful muscles for a second, then slid it up Clint's neck to clench at the short hair of his nape – and tug. Once again, the archer couldn't help hissing with pain even though it didn't sting much. He screwed his eyes shut not to let them water.

“There is another option” the demi-god said.

His fingers wrapped at the back of Clint's head – and he crushed their mouths together.

The archer's eyes snapped open with astonishment and he let out a muffled sound in Loki's mouth, struggling to escape him – but the ropes were tight, as tight as the firm hold on his neck keeping him in place, and he could only take it as Loki's tongue forced his lips to twist and push in his mouth. And suddenly he was trembling, and moaning, short pleading sounds that made him feel more humiliated than if he had pissed himself in front of a crowd. Of all the people to hear him like this, it had to be Loki ; and worse, he was the one enforcing it on him. It was a rough, fierce kiss, made to make him feel dominated, and Clint was almost expecting the demi-god to assault him further, make him beg and plead, make him take it until he screamed and sobbed for mercy, and leave him there, still tied up and reduced to a quivering mess, unsatisfied and sullied with my seed –

And suddenly it was over, and Clint's mouth hurt and he could still taste Loki and he was taking deep, shivering breaths, and the dull ache of the tight ropes and stiff chair was spreading into his entire body.

He slowly realized that it was not just him – Loki's hand was slightly trembling on the back of his neck.

Oh shit.

 

Of course, you fucking idiot.

 

No wonder Loki had so much to say on the subject. He was twisted just like him ; but what he craved was dominance. Well, hello – enslaving people and trying to kill his big brother ? Hell, he had had a whole crowd kneeling before him and it still hadn't been enough.

For him to take interest in only one mortal was all the more weird. But maybe he needed a pastime. Or maybe – and yeah, that was more likely – he was just fucking with Clint for the sake of it.

There was no contempt in Loki's eyes, though ; only the same distant haughtiness as he released Clint and straightened up.

“Consider it” he said, turning away to leave the room.

The archer was breathless as though he had ran a marathon. He swallowed thickly and uttered, “In your dreams,you sick bastard.”

Loki did not answer verbally, but the ropes holding Clint untied themselves to fall on the floor.

The archer instantly got up on his feet and made a beeline for the door, ignoring the screams of protestation of his aching muscles – and the renewed feeling of withdrawal already nagging at him.

He slammed the door behind him, then sagged against the wall of the corridor and started trembling violently, mercilessly, as though someone was shaking him like a ragdoll. When he raised up his hands to run them across his face, he saw the deep red marks engraved in by the rope.

God.

He needed a long, long, long shower – and if he was lucky, it might be enough for him to dissolve and be washed down the drain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, Clint thought after two showers, a good night of sleep, and an entire day virtually spent trying to think of something else. So what are my options ?

Usually, to ask yourself this pretty much meant you were stuck between a rock and a hard place already, but the archer chose to ignore that fact. What were his options ?

The answer was awfully simple. He needed help – professional, or unprofessional help : those were his options. He thought again of what he had yelled at Loki as though it was the most unrealistic choice in the world – a sex dungeon.

Seriously. It sounded ludicrous even in his head. He wasn't going to dress up in ridiculously tight rubber or leather clothes, this already happened too often in his line of work (spandex, anyone ?) and he was certainly not indulging in role-play or any other fetish. The mere word of “mistress” made him snigger inwardly. He understood kinks, he accepted them, but it all looked so unnecessary and laughable to him. He hadn't grown fond of latex suits overnight – now that couldn't have been anything else than a spell in really poor taste. What he craved was something rawer, something – purer. No need for all this bullshit.

He rubbed both hands over his face. He really did not know much about BDSM, but just like everything else, it probably came in many colors. There had to be places that would prove themselves better than his grotesque, caricatured vision.

The problem was that he had no idea how to find them. He also did not have the time – or the money. The Avengers' schedule was not exactly predictable ; and regular, private sessions would cost him an arm and a leg anyway. He doubted Stark's hospitality extended itself to escort services. Although you could never know with that man.

Maybe he could just do nothing. Maybe the craving would go away like it had come.

Yeah, you wish.

No. He could feel it very clearly. It was subdued for now, but it was still something raw and new and he had absolutely no control over it, and he just knew he would have to fulfill his need, at least until he learned how to master it. It was like his own personal Hulk.

A bitter smile tugged at his lips. Maybe he could ask for Banner's help on this one. After all, the good doctor was all about control. He might not have the taste, but he certainly had the need for dominance. Of course, there was the Hulk problem when it came to the bedroom, so Clint might have to pass on this one. Maybe a teammate wasn't such a bad idea, though – same schedule, plus hey, team-bonding, indestructible trust welded by shared near-death experiences, that kind of thing.

Steve Rogers. Steve had the whole super-soldier schtick going on, he was the leader of the first team of superheroes in the world, and he possessed the superpower of the Stern Look Of Disapproval. Heck, he was the one ordering Hulk around. Yeah, your typical Alpha male, right there – but once again, not because he liked it, but because he had to do it. Somehow, Clint couldn't picture him or Banner getting off on bending someone to their will. Beside, he doubted that any of those two would be willing to help him out ; and he wouldn't have insulted them by asking, anyway. They had too much history, too much troubles of their own, and most of all, they were probably not interested at all.

Oh hey yeah, the gay thing, Clint remembered briefly. He had just considered two very male teammates without batting an eyelid. He had been so busy dealing with the submissive side of himself that he still hadn't dwelt on the fact that okay, maybe he was not as straight as he used to think. Frankly, at this point, he couldn't even give a shit ; and he didn't know if he ought to laugh or cry about it. In doubt, he shrugged and moved on.

Stark.

Now that was more of a possibility. The playboy billionaire might be more open-minded in bed than the seventy-year-old virgin and the guy with anger issues. Still did not mean that he was a proper dom ; besides, Clint regarded him too much as an equal – well, they did have the same twisted sense of humor – to consider getting on his knees for him. It would have felt too weird.

It left only Natasha, and he knew he had purposefully kept her last.

Maybe she was his best option. They never talked much about sex, but he was about certain that she would enjoy a bit of dominance in bed. The problem was that he didn't need a bit of submission – but he could discuss the specifics after he had talked it out with her. The idea of letting a woman dominate him could have felt weird, but it didn't – mainly, he suspected, because that woman was Natasha Romanov. She must be the dominatrix fantasy of a fair half of SHIELD. He tried to imagine her with a whip, towering above him as he knelt at her feet ; but he didn't quite feel the stir of raw want he had felt when Loki's hands had pressed on his hips to pin him down.

Because in the end, it would be just a game, and that would never be enough for him. Still better than nothing, though. Besides, this was not something he wanted, he reminded himself. This was just a mistake that needed to be taken care of so he could feel normal again.

But it was such a shameful flaw. He wasn't sure he could ever confess it to Natasha. What would she think of him, the man who had once gave her a second chance ? How could she not despise his weakness ? He tried to imagine it the other way around, Natasha coming to him to admit his secret wish to be spanked, and found himself torn between laughter and disbelief. Of course not – Natasha wasn't one of these people.

And he shouldn't have been one of them, either. But there he was, and it disgusted him.

How could she see anything else in him than a twisted pervert ? And him, how could he ever say the words ? Hi, Natasha. I need you to whip me and humiliate me and tell me what a little slut I am. Don't worry, it's a medical prescription.

Ridiculous.

Clint buried his face in his hands. He could feel, deep inside him, minuscule tremors that he knew would grow and grow until he went mad again. For now, they were kept at bay by the red marks on his wrists and the very recent memory of...

Loki.

 

In your dreams, you sick bastard.

 

But Loki already knew about it. And Loki wasn't a friend ; he and Clint already had a strong relationship of mutual hatred and contempt. And it meant that the archer wouldn't have to disappoint anyone. Natasha and the others would never know ; this would remain Clint's dark, dirty secret. Besides, Loki lived here now, and it wasn't like he had anything better to do. And of course, there was no doubt that he would enjoy it.

And it was wrong, so completely wrong, because the idea of Loki getting off from Clint on his knees was enough for something to stir in the archer's groin. In a very vivid flash, he suddenly remembered the sharp sting of Loki tugging at his hair, the kiss he had forced on him – and he almost let out a moan.

No, he begged himself. You wouldn't stoop that low. It's Loki. It's Coulson's murderer.

The heat calmed down a little at these words, and he was able to breathe a little more freely. Coulson's murderer, he repeated sternly. There was no way he would ever submit to Loki. It might be a sad thing to say, but he would have considered it despite the mind-control, the mass-murder, everything – SHIELD knew when to look the other way, and Clint was SHIELD. So he got it.

But Coulson ? – no. That was personal. His dead handler was the only thing that protected him from Loki right now, but he made a very good job of it, and the archer felt a bit reassured when he understood that this specific barrier wouldn't break.

He would ask Natasha. All things considered, she was his best choice, and no matter how much he hated the idea, no matter how badly he dreaded the incomprehension, the contempt, the barely disguised smile that he knew would come, he would just have to ask.

 

*

 

She was reading a book when he knocked at her door, and maybe it was that detail which doomed him. Or her curls softly flowing on both sides of her face when she looked up, or the feeling of unquestionable trust and familiarity in her eyes.

“Clint ?”

He swallowed, throat dry, and he couldn't. Couldn't let her see him differently. What they had was good, strong, indestructible. He couldn't endanger it. He didn't want to – he prized it too much, he hadn't that many friends, and he didn't want that flicker of uncertainty in her eyes when she realized that things had ceased being normal, that he needed her in a different way. Besides, if he did ask here, there was no way that their renewed relationship could possibly stay sealed inside the bedroom. If he submitted to her, if he simply admitted that he needed to submit, nothing would ever be the same. Their banter, the way they looked at each other – all of it would be tainted.

No other options, he reminded himself. You want to go suck the dick of Coulson's murderer ? Yeah, that's what I thought.

“Clint ?” she repeated, putting her book away. She knew that something was off now. Better spit it out and be done with it. Better not make this torture last.

Clint opened his mouth and heard himself say, “I think Coulson's alive.”

 

Uh ?

 

She looked at him calmly, and nodded. “Yes, you may be right.”

What.

Just. Wait. What ?

“I took a look at his medical file. Loki stabbed him in the chest, but hit the lung, not the heart. It would have taken him several hours to die ; but he was declared only minutes later.”

Clint didn't know what astonished him most – the fact that he was so messed up in the head that he couldn't think of that himself ; the fact that Natasha had rolled so casually with his assumption ; or the fact that he had made that assumption in the first place. Where the hell had that come from – and whatever had happened to his confession ? Got lost in the mail ?

“Fury probably kept it a secret so we would function against the Chitauri” Natasha thought out loud. “That's what I would have done. But we're a team now, so there's no need for it to go on.” She stayed thoughtful for a second. “And Tony and Steve could certainly use a bit of cheering up.”

Clint's urges were apparently nagging at him even more when he was confused. He struggled to push disturbing images away and focus on the matter at hand. “So – what – what are you saying ?” he said with a effort. “We just – hack SHIELD and find out ?”

“I'd be glad to help” Jarvis chimed in.

The archer glared at the ceiling. “Tony's a bad influence on you.”

“Jarvis, call director Fury” Natasha said calmly. “Say it's me or he won't pick up.”

Clint stared at her while they waited for the call to go through. “What are you doing ?”

Before she could answer, Fury's deep voice dropped from the ceiling.

“Romanov ?”

“Hello, director” she said calmly. “We were wondering whether Coulson accepted any visitors.”

A glaring silence answered her ; then Fury's sigh, like a gush of wind.

Look – I don't want to know how you found out. Don't tell anyone else until next week. I'm asking you as a favor.”

Her lips curled up. “You owe me, then.”

Fury repressed another sigh. “Yes. Now don't you go bragging about it.”

“Never, sir.”

The communication ended.

“I can't believe he fell for that” Clint said incredulously. "I can't believe it was that simple."

This time, her grin was sharp and dangerous. If black widows did smile, they would probably look like this. “People never expect to be tricked by a cliché. Sometimes the oldest tricks are the best.”

“Heh. No need to tell the bow-and-arrow guy.”

They exchanged a smile.

And for a second, Clint just felt normal and at ease again, as the incredible news sank in - Coulson was alive. This was real good news, a good simple thing to just enjoy ; and it didn't happen so often in their line of work.

 

Then he remembered what he had told himself only minutes ago, and fridge horror took his breath away.

 

His dead handler was the only thing that protected him from Loki.

But Coulson was not dead.

 

The shivers inside him made themselves more insistent. He was growing confused again. He was aching to be filled and held down. He wanted to be grounded.

He was hungry.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Another day of running in circles, of trying to ignore it, of trying to be firm, another day of running away and trying to shield himself, trying to will his screaming body to shut up, to deaden, to be nothing but efficient and numb.

But of course, the fault wasn't in his body.

By the end of the day, Clint was about ready to claw his skin off. Cursing a blue streak, he locked himself in his room, ripped his clothes off and went into the shower.

“Icy water” he said out loud. “The coldest you have.”

“Are you certain, sir ? The risks of hypothermia – ”

“Hit me.”

The sudden waterfall felt like an ice titan had crushed him under his foot. He cried out and braced himself against the wall, squaring his shoulders to endure it, breathless with pain and cold. He did his best to clean himself, then tried to stay there as long as he could, but there was only so much coldness he could endure. The water was drumming on his back like so many stones. He suddenly fell on one knee and realized he had to cut it out.

“E-enough” he stammered.

The cold shower kept pouring on his shoulders like strands of fire – like claw cuts – like whip lashes

“STOP !” he shouted.

The water instantly turned itself off and Clint slumped forward completely, trying to catch his breath. He stayed there for long minutes, naked and shivering with cold and utterly disgusted with himself.

“Sir ?” Jarvis said after a while, his tone slightly worried.

“Yeah” he panted.

He uncurled himself and sat on his heels. “Jarv, what time is it ?”

“Eleven pm, sir.”

“And where's L – ” he cut himself off. “Where's Thor ?”

Mr. Odinson left for the Helicarrier two hours ago. I believe it is his intention to spend the night there.”

Yeah, what a formidable coincidence. Clint cursed under his breath and shivered violently, goosebumps raising on his skin. His stomach churned unpleasantly and he almost curled up on himself again.

“Should I call him ?”

“No” Clint mumbled. “Thanks, Jarvis.”

“Always, sir.”

He stood up with an effort. Fuck, if he was at the point of going fetal in his bathroom, he might as well admit his defeat.

He dried himself up and dressed himself with jerky movements, putting on black jeans and a tank top, then took a deep breath and got out.

 

*

 

He wasn't the type to think twice ; yet he stopped several times on his way to Loki's floor. He would just stand there in a completely awkward way, struggling internally before his body began marching forward again against his better judgment. He felt like a moth flying towards a flame, unable to escape his too predictable fate.

Eventually, he found himself at Loki's door. He knocked before he could spend another half-hour squirming in indecision, then waited as he would have waited for a bolt of lighting to strike him down.

The door opened silently and he walked inside, squaring his shoulders.

He was not in a state as bad as last time, so he actually took the time to look at his surroundings. He was obviously in the living room. The coffee table was still there, along with a comfortable couch and dark, heavy pieces of furniture that looked ancient and baroque. Something like Renaissance with Gothic influence – funny what eclectic knowledge he had gathered along his missions. Not that any of it was of any use to him right now. His gaze swept across a tall, stiff chair and he quickly looked away.

“Agent Barton” Loki said.

Clint managed not to startle and turned to his right. The demi-god was obviously coming out of his bedroom. He was not even slightly disheveled, though, his hair and clothes perfectly neat as usual. The rooms were only dimly lit, the city obscure out the windows ; it should have looked warm and comfortable, but the dark furniture and dark atmosphere only reminded Clint of a dungeon. Not a sex dungeon – a real-life lair, gloomy and threatening all at once.

“Your mind seems clearer than last time” Loki said, coming closer. “A welcome improvement.”

He gestured towards the couch. “Have a seat.”

Clint was taken short by the offer – why wasn't the demi-god offering him the tall, cold chair ? Was it a trick ? Was it a double trick ? Was he just over-thinking it ?

In doubt, he shook his head. “I'd rather stand.”

“Very well” Loki said.

An uncomfortable silence settled in and stretched – stretched – stretched until Clint couldn't stand it.

“Alright” he snapped. “You win.”

To say it out loud felt both excruciating and strangely relieving ; after all, giving himself away also meant giving away his responsibilities. “I accept.”

He expected Loki to smirk and say something grand and arrogant along the lines of “It was only a matter of time, agent Barton” or “How foolish of you to think you could escape me” or “You were made to be ruled”, yadda yadda. He also wouldn't have been surprised, though, if Loki had laughed in his face and told him that it was a trick, that he had no interest in him whatsoever, and that he only wanted to see just how far Clint would go.

But Loki did none of these things. If there had been a smile on his lips, it was gone now ; he was studying Clint with shrewd, serious eyes.

“You are offering yourself to me” he said eventually.

From his tone, it was clear that he wanted the archer to repeat the words. Clint clenched his jaw, then complied, pushing the words out of his throat. “I am offering myself to you.”

“Why ?” Loki said.

Clint closed his eyes and exhaled deeply, trying to repress his shivers. “Because I need it. Because you've already seen me at my basest anyway.”

“But – ” Now that was weird : Loki sounded actually disbelieving. “Do you trust me ?”

“Hell no” Clint spat.

Loki raised an eyebrow. “Do you have a death wish, then ?”

The assumption was only partly ironic.

“I don't think you would kill me” the archer muttered. “I don't think you would maim me. I'm not worth losing the trust of Thor and the others, no matter how much you'd enjoy it.”

The demi-god huffed a short laugh. “Stellar reasoning.”

He came closer and stopped inches from Clint. The archer forced himself to stand straight, even though all he wanted was to drop on his knees and let go – or, for the part of him that wasn't fucked up in the head, run the hell out of here and never come back. Loki was still way taller than him.

“No killing, no maiming” he repeated ironically. “I suppose I could work with that.”

He stared at Clint for a minute.

“But you would let me torture you” he said under his breath. “You would let me get...” his hand raised up almost instinctively, and Clint lifted his head a bit so it wouldn't brush his chin. “...creative.”

Clint shivered in anticipated, nauseating fear.

How could he even do this ? He must be crazy – he really was a pervert, in the literal sense of the term, for getting himself into this. Fuck, he of all people knew what Loki was capable of. He knew the demi-god wouldn't play by the rules – he was Asgardian, he didn't even know them. Not that he would have followed them anyway ; on the contrary, he would take pleasure in breaking him, slowly, intimately, in every way I know you fear. Clint ought to get out of here before he couldn't go back.

But it was already too late.

“Yeah” he breathed. “I would. As long as I can stay functional on the field.”

Loki stared at him for another second, then dropped his hand. His expression was unreadable, and once again, the maniacal smirk Clint expected wasn't there. He looked focused and thoughtful, almost as though he was having second thoughts of his own.

“Very well” Loki said.

He held out his hand to seal the deal, and without thinking Clint reached out to take it.

He never saw it coming – he was smacked hard across the face, so violently and unexpectedly that he fell down on the carpet. He let out a gasp that was more surprise than pain, even though his hypersensitized skin started burning like hell the second after. In hindsight, he thought as he straightened up, that cold shower had been a very bad idea.

When he looked up again, there was finally a slight smirk on Loki's lips.

“There will be much to learn” he said in a low, threatening voice.

Clint shivered, trying to block the pain, the fear, and the heat pooling inside him. The first two were rapidly fading anyway, leaving only a craving for more. God, he was really fucked up. A perverted wreck. But he didn't have time to let it get to him, because Loki's cool voice was echoing again in the calm room.

“Undress yourself.”

Fear flared bright in Clint's stomach. He got up slowly, took a deep breath, then peeled off his tank top. He dropped it on the floor, then flicked open his jeans and pulled them down, without putting on a show. He would have liked to be able to go into lockdown, like he had done on the few occasions he had had sex for the sake of a mission ; but here it felt too raw and real for him to hope for a way out. He was going to live through every second of this.

His hands hovered over the waistband of his boxers, hesitant.

“All of it” Loki said calmly.

Clint gritted his teeth, then pushed it all down. He kicked the rumpled heap of his clothes away, then stood there, his hands balled into tight fists, his gaze somewhere around Loki's chest. He felt as though his whole body was sunburnt. Terror and need were lurching together in his stomach.

Loki came even closer, stopping just before he could touch him. Then he put a hand in the center of Clint's chest.

The archer couldn't help holding his breath. Most people would have read this as a tender gesture. But he wasn't most people. He knew that Loki's fingers could have dug right through his chest like iron rods. He knew that the demi-god could feel the furious pace of his heart. And he remembered the first and last thing Loki had ever said to the man he once was.

You have heart.

They stayed in that position until Clint couldn't stand the humiliation and the pressure anymore.

“Please” he rasped.

Loki's answer was but a whisper. “Please what ?”

“Please – let's get done with it.”

The demi-god smirked. “If you insist.”

His hand went up to Clint's throat, brushed it pensively, as though trying to grip something that was not there. Eventually, he just dropped it and gestured towards the door he had come out from, which opened silently.

“Go. Kneel on the bed away from the door, and wait.”

Clint almost protested – waiting was the one thing he wouldn't withstand at the moment. And of course, this was how Loki chose to torture him. He should have known better. The demi-god could see right through him – he was going to rip him into shreds by the end of the night.

He nodded dryly and was turning away when Loki called him back.

“As long as your mouth is free, you will answer me verbally, Barton.”

Clint licked his lips. “Yes.”

The short answer sounded disrespectful even to him, but he couldn't get himself to add a “sir” afterwards – oh great, now he didn't feel like submitting anymore. Exactly what was fucking wrong with him ? Maybe he did have a death wish. He was self-destructive, that was for sure.

Loki didn't add anything, though, so Clint stayed silent as well and quickly went into the room, relieved to escape him for a second even though he knew the anticipation – and Loki's eventual return – would make it ten times worse in the end.

He tried not to look too much at the bed before climbing on it – he knew it wouldn't help ; he still noticed that it was very large and not overly soft. He took a deep breath, then complied to the orders. Away from the door. Kneeling. Okay. He instinctively bowed his head and crossed his hands behind his back.

And waited.

He was getting cold, acutely aware of the fact that he was naked, and he would have given anything not to be there. But it was a bit too late for second thoughts.

Of course, Loki let him stew for hours.

It felt like hours anyway. Clint guessed it couldn't actually have been more than ten minutes, but what did he know ? He was there, shivering, growing more tense by the second, nauseous with apprehension. He was glad he hadn't eaten anything in a while.

Finally, the bed dipped under someone else's weight, and Clint snapped his eyes open – he hadn't realized he had closed them. That simple fact spoke volumes as to exactly how bad his state was. If Hawkeye would rather not see anything...

Loki's hands settled on his shoulders and stayed there for a second. The archer felt the slight brush of a rolled sleeve against his back ; the demi-god was still dressed. At this point, he couldn't tell if it was a good or a bad thing.

Then Loki's thumbs dug into his shoulder blades and he let out an involuntary moan, because – his whole body was stiff like a piece of wood, and Loki's strength wasn't exactly something to be underestimated. The thumbs pushed again in the muscles, the other fingers clenching hard around Clint's upper trapezius, and it was so painful that the archer had to focus not to groan again. He would stay silent as much as he could – that would be the last stronghold of his dignity. Loki pushed again with his thumbs while pulling with his other fingers, forcing Clint to straighten his spine and open his shoulders. The movement brought him very close to the demi-god, whose breath ghosted on his neck.

“Lie down on your stomach."

Clint licked his lips, then did as he was told, trying to breathe deeply. Loki rearranged his position until it satisfied him – by the time he was done, Clint's hands were flat on each side of his head, his legs slightly open, his body tauter than ever. He knew he was completely vulnerable, open, offered, and the thought would have made him hard, had he not been so so awfully sick with stress.

Then Loki's hands were on him – but not where Clint expected them to be. It was his back again, but this time, Loki made him realize that he had been gentle before – he pushed so hard in the muscle that Clint cried out despite his will to keep quiet. The demi-god did not stop for a second and kept kneading his shoulders, then his back and lower back, then his shoulders again and upper arms, with brisk, almost professional movements, that pierced Clint like so many stabs of a blade. The archer could feel the thousand years of experience behind it as Loki worked him like a piece of meat, tenderizing him, forcing the tension out of his body, the almost unbearable pain eventually fading into dull relief.

After a while, he went up on Clint's neck and worked the muscles and tendons with movements more precise, but not less harsh. For the second time, the archer was deeply aware that it would only take a slight pressure for him to end up crippled or dead ; but his body had been worked so thoroughly that even the prospect of his death could not get him to tense up again. Loki took his time, turning Clint's head from time to time, as though he would have manipulated a puppet. Eventually, he brushed down his neck, then his back, then his sides, grabbed his ass and squeezed – once, before sliding down to his thighs and getting to work on them. The pain there was a thousand times worse than in his back, and Clint muffled his scream in the mattress. He clenched his jaw, trying to relax – and succeeding eventually. It would have been impossible not to, actually. The pain was dulling again, even faster than before, and his whole body felt warm now. A powerful shiver rippled through him. He felt soft, pliant ; as though he could not move his limbs on his own will anymore, as though he was a rag doll. And his brain was leaving the building too, his boiling thoughts finally calming down. There was something there, something deep and almost frightening, as though he was on the edge of an abyss, as though he had never suspected just how calm he could get, and only began to see it now.

Loki hummed with satisfaction, then came back up, grabbed Clint's shoulders and turned him on his back. The archer looked at him with his eyes ajar, a remnant of his crippling fear churning in his stomach, but honestly, it was so much easier not to think.

Loki put a hand on his cheek, then slid it down his neck, and at the middle of his chest again, opening his hand flat against his heart. Clint was in a daze, the cool touch a bright spot in the numbing warmth of his body. The demi-god grinned, then ran his hands all over him. First both his arms, following the veins along his biceps, wrapping his fingers around Clint's wrists to hold very tight for a second, like a quick promise ; his chest – he suddenly pinched the archer's nipples and smiled at the hiss he got in return – his ribs, then navel, his hips – at this point he hoisted him up on his knees to grab his ass again, knead it for a bit longer this time, before sliding two fingers in the cleft, without pushing inside, just to touch, to intrude. Clint let out a pant ; Loki slid down his hands to grip the inside of his thighs ; one of his hands then braced around his hip again, while the other cupped his balls, then quickly squeezed his cock. The archer panted again and groped around, trying to hold on to something ; he ended up clenching at Loki's shoulders, even though he would have preferred to lean on about anything else. The demi-god forced him to spread his legs, ran his fingers between his ass cheeks again, pushing inside the crack, exploring him. Clint was breathless with shame. It would have been easier if Loki had just raped him, but this slow, light touch was all the more intimate. It kept things on the surface and forbade Clint to block it out in a whole. Loki's fingers felt like they had their own will, teasing, prodding, until Clint was squirming and trembling with humiliation – and painfully erected.

Loki smiled a nasty smirk, then grabbed his cock again and jerked him off with the same violent, efficient movements he had used to knead his body. Clint shivered and gripped his shoulders tighter, trembling all the more. The heat flaring inside him was a bit different than raw excitation, but he hadn't been able to come in more than one week and it didn't take long for him to find himself on the edge. He thought Loki would stop at the last second, make him beg for it, something – but the demi-god just finished the job and let him come all over his fingers. Clint slumped forward, panting, his body a tension-free heap, his mind a blissfully blank void.

“On the floor” Loki breathed.

Clint slid down as though he was in a liquid state ; when the demi-god grabbed his neck to press his face against his crotch, he did not resist it, inhaling the discreet scent of Loki's arousal. He felt undisturbed by all of it, his mind and body in the same, peaceful place. He felt like nothing could harm him, whatever happened. The demi-god kept him there for a second, then wished his own clothes away in a brief flare of golden lights. Clint barely had the time to open his mouth before Loki pushed inside him and down his throat.

He was so mellow and dizzy that it felt like a distant dream. He had crossed his hands behind his back again without thinking ; Loki used him with deep, slow thrusts, letting him breathe from time to time before going at it again. Clint had to get on with the rhythm and focus not to choke – and not to retch ; and it was pretty much calling up every functional neurons he still had. Eventually, he felt it building – throbbing against his tongue, hardening even more – and, surprising himself, he sucked deeply around the cock in his mouth. Loki let out a barely audible sound then pulsed inside his throat, his hand suddenly firmer behind Clint's head so he wouldn't have a chance to pull back ; he was apparently less preoccupied with his own orgasm than with Clint swallowing it all. The archer did, shuddering at the degrading intimacy of it – last time, there had been the serum ; this time, he wasn't quite himself either, but he was still on his knees and swallowing the sperm of another man.

Loki finally released him and Clint took a deep, gasping breath, shivering at first then quickly calming down, falling back into his state of warm numbness, the taste insistent in the back of his throat. He felt good. He felt... evened out, somehow. He felt as if he was on the ground zero of everything.

The demi-god's hand trailed across his hair again.

“That” he said in a low voice, “was the first lesson.”

Clint nodded hazily – and instantly felt the weight of Loki's disapproval. “Out loud, Barton.”

“Yes” the archer said in a voice he didn't recognize.

“You will remember it.”

“Yes.”

“For now, get up, dress yourself, then go back to your own room and sleep.”

Clint nodded again. “Yes.”

He felt a slight pang of uneasiness at repeating this single, small word a third time, as though he was too stupid or uninterested to think of something else ; but it faded when Loki failed to comment on it once again.

He got on his feet, his mind a flat line, then did exactly as he had been told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clint opened his eyes.

The simple shock of being there kept him lying on his back with wide eyes, breathing deeply as the assessed himself, staring at the ceiling with exposed beams – one of Tony's whims, of course. You see better from a distance, that it ? You'll be able to build a sweet nest up there. Clint wasn't sure he had actually put these beams up there only because of that joke older than SHIELD, but with Tony Billionaire Snark, nothing really surprised him anymore...

His train of thoughts slowed down as he realized he was thinking normally again.

The hunger, the static, the confusion and pain – it was all gone. His mind was clear and running again ; his body felt fitting and strong.

Memories of last night flashed before his eyes. He remembered everything ; but believing it was another story.

It was incredible to imagine that he could have simply done something like this – it seemed so stupid and reckless. He had willingly offered himself to Loki. He had willingly offered himself to Loki ! Jesus Christ, he was too dumb to live. The demi-god could have raped him, tortured him, hurt him in a hundred different ways.

But he hadn't, though. Instead he had been strangely, unexpectedly...

...nice ?

Nice doesn't fit Loki. And the demi-god was obviously enjoying himself the most when he was forcing Clint to give him head – or making him squirm in shame as he exposed him. But he could have been a lot more brutal about it. And at the time, the archer didn't mind – the memory of his own state frightened him. Loki's long, strange and somehow violent massage had gotten him in an unsettling place, calm and pliant, faraway from his usual self. And he had gotten there fast, considering his breathtaking terror and his maddening confusion at the beginning of the evening. Loki could have done virtually anything to him.

I guess I got lucky this time.

He wasn't going back anyway. He still had a hard believing he had slept with a man – submitted to a man – submitted to Loki. And on his own free will. He had been extremely confused at the time. But he was back to his normal self now, and he wouldn't take such a insanely stupid risk again.

I can't believe I did this.

He tossed the covers away and went into the shower, relishing the way his body responded to him fully and automatically again. He asked for nice, good warmth and closed his eyes under the flow of water, willing it to wash away the memories of that strange night.

I can't believe I did this.

 

*

 

The thought still pursued him all day. He was shooting at the range – and it suddenly seized him as he notched an arrow. He was taking a Quinjet to the Helicarrier – and it hit him again. He was discussing strategics with Steve, and all he could think about was how he had gone to Loki's floor, hoping for something... that he hadn't really gotten, now that he thought about it. Not entirely. He had imagined the demi-god would be more violent. More inflexible. For instance, that 'talking out loud' thing – Clint was pretty sure he had forgotten about it once or twice, and Loki hadn't punished him for it. Hadn't mentioned it. He had seemed too... soft, somehow, and it almost frustrated Clint, as though he hadn't received everything he had paid for –

“Clint ?”

He blinked at Steve. “Sorry, Cap, I didn't quite catch that.”

“Please, try and stay focused. If Doom does leave Latveria, we must be prepared to – ”

Steve kept talking and, while Clint did focus on the strategy, a part of his mind was still in shock with himself.

You are actually regretting Loki didn't rape you.

No, no, that was just not true. He had been scared to death when Loki had ordered him to undress. But still, the feeling of lack remained.

That, Loki's voice said, was the first lesson.

Clint gritted his teeth. Yeah, well, nobody's getting seconds, buddy. Loki could rot in his fancy cell for all eternity. The archer would not go back there. He had gotten what he wanted. No – what he needed. Now he was cured from this twisted illness, and everything would be fine. Just fucking fine.

 

*

 

He lasted five days before facing the truth again.

When his own shivers awoke him from a feverish, sick dream, he couldn't lie to himself anymore. He got up on wobbly legs and went to the bathroom, leaning against the sink.

“Okay” he breathed to his reflection in the mirror.

God, he even looked ill. He was pale, with dark rings under his eyes, trembling and twitching like a junkie. It was unbelievable just how low this shit could bring him.

He usually avoided talking to himself, but he really needed to settle things right now.

“Okay” he repeated. “I do need it again.”

The admission helped him a little. It was obvious that it was not a one-time thing. He needed it, on a regular basis, and yeah, sure, why not consider it like a medical condition if it helped ? Still better than a drug. He wasn't in need of a fix, but of a remedy.

He certainly didn't trust Loki as a doctor.

Loki. The memory of Loki's cock in his mouth suddenly overflowed him, and he could barely breathe for a second, shivering with raw need. He wanted that place again. Wanted that peacefulness, that certainty again. Like when he shot an arrow and there was nothing but his next target.

Like when Loki had brainwashed him.

He closed his eyes, then suddenly fell on his knees, groped around until he found the toilet bowl and violently emptied himself in it. He hovered above his own filth for a second, trying not to breathe the acid smell, shuddering and sweating.

Nobody could know about this. He just couldn't survive the shame. He wouldn't ask Natasha. He wouldn't ask anyone else. He would make it work. He just would –

– he vomited again, his whole body clenching and contorting, and stayed there for even longer afterwards.

Eventually, he winced, then pushed on his arms and got up.

 

*

 

“Barton, my friend !”

Oh shit.

“It is certainly a surprise to see you down here again.”

Oh shit oh shit.

“How can I be of assistance ?”

Oh shit oh shit oh shit.

Clint was pretty sure a deer in the headlights looked smarter and more educated than him at the moment. Thor, idiot, he had completely forgotten – again – that Thor would be there.

“I – ” he stammered. “I'm – here to – ”

The thunderer frowned. “Does it still concern Loki ?”

“No” Clint blurted. “I mean. Yes. But it's no big deal. I just – ”

“Let me guess” an unimpressed voice said behind the thunderer. “This about your quiver yet again.”

Clint froze and looked up Loki. The demi-god was there and slightly raising his eyebrows.

“Yes” Clint said dryly. “You've delayed it long enough, don't you think ?”

Where the hell are we going with this ?

“What about Barton's quiver ?” Thor said, frowning at his brother.

“Stark and I were discussing the possibility for me to enchant it” Loki shrugged. “So it would never get empty.”

“Oh” the thunderer said with mild surprise. “That would be very... kind of you.”

“I am all about kindness lately” Loki smirked.

Clint couldn't help shuddering slightly at those words.

Thor huffed slightly, then turned back to him. “But where is your quiver ?”

“In my room” Clint said. “It's recharging, and I'm going to train in a few hours, so I can't bring it here.” He raised an eyebrow at Loki. “Are you coming or what ? I'm a busy man.”

Thor opened his mouth, probably to save Clint from evisceration, but Loki rolled his eyes and said, “It is fine, Thor. Remember – I am kind now.”

Thor could have hardly looked more dubious, but he still stepped away from the door. Loki gave a long-suffering nod in thanks, then followed Clint in the corridor.

“Don't be too long” Thor called out sternly.

“Jeez” the archer said between his teeth once they were out from hearing range. “Is he always like that, or is today the Asgardian holiday for Over-Protectiveness ?”

A slight smirk stretched Loki's lips. “It's not me he's protecting.”

“It's not protection I need from you” Clint retorted.

His own words surprised him, as though they had been spoken by someone else. Loki's smile grew more feral and he said with a dangerous edge in his voice, “Duly noted, my dear bowman.”

The archer shivered instinctively, and almost jumped when Loki put a hand behind his neck in what started to be a familiar gesture of possession. They had arrived to the elevators ; Clint swallowed and forced himself to stay motionless.

“You are back on the edge.” Loki's words were barely audible.

“That's pretty much where I live” Clint muttered.

He shrugged the hand away. They stepped inside the elevator whose doors silently closed on them.

“You still managed to react swiftly enough to the quiver lie” Loki noticed in his cool voice.

“Was it just a lie ? I could really use something like that, you know.”

“You came to me again.”

Clint stiffened.

He was not looking at Loki, but he could hear the smirk in his voice. “You must be so desperate.”

The archer didn't answer, but Loki's hand gripped the hair of his nape and he could not help taking a sharp breath and going very still again.

“Oh, yes” the demi-god murmured. “You crave it. It is written in every one of your nerves.”

Clint sharply broke free just as the doors opened on his floor – and Loki caught him right back, tugging him close.

“You forgot your lesson, Barton” he breathed in his ear.

Then he shoved him forward so violently that Clint was thrown down on the floor on his stomach. He caught himself just in time, but the wind was still knocked out of him. He took one gasping breath, pushed on his arms – but a booted foot came over him and crushed him back down, forcing his head to the floor.

He went completely still, hardly daring to breathe.

“You let yourself go until you got almost sick with need again” Loki said, pressing down. “And now you expect me to unknot you once more ?”

He squashed Clint's neck.

“Am I your whore, Barton ? Am I prisoner here only for your personal use ?”

He twisted his foot again and the archer convulsed, acutely aware of his vertebrae ready to crack. “Answer me.”

“No” Clint breathed hurriedly. “No, you're not.”

Loki hummed, then released him, only to start walking around him like a panther. Clint waited, face-down in the carpet, his eyes wide open, still barely breathing.

“I was too easy on you” Loki said.

He stopped in front of Clint's head. “On your knees.”

The archer swallowed, then complied.

Loki hummed thoughtfully. “Let's see.”

He started walking around Clint again. A few minutes passed in silence. Loki must be pondering something, but the archer had no idea what it was, and no patience anyway – he felt like he was about to break in half.

“Please” he breathed.

Loki stilled. “What ?” he said, very calmly.

“Please” Clint repeated. He might be dooming himself here for all he knew, but at this second, he didn't give a fuck about the consequences. “I'm sorry. Next time, I won't... I won't wait for so long.”

Loki waited and the archer realized he had to go on. He licked his lips and said nervously, “You're not here for my use. You're – you're doing this to help me. You're doing me a favor.”

“And ?” the demi-god said, in the same even voice.

“And I should be – I should be honored. I'm sorry. I was ungrateful and selfish.”

Loki emitted a small mocking sound.

He let him shiver for another minute, then said, “You are a mess, Barton.”

“Yes” Clint agreed wholeheartedly. Loki was the God of Lies, but that was the plain obvious truth.

Loki made that sound again, more thoughtful this time.

“Take off your shirt.”

Without waiting for him to comply, he turned away and grabbed a leather jacket discarded on the bed. Before Clint's eyes, the garment lost its form and morphed into – snakes ? No – it was still plain leather, but shaped in long forms that fell in coils on the floor from Loki's long fingers. The sleeves went first ; Loki let them fall into a heap, but kept the rest of the changing leather in hand as it finished its metamorphosis. Withing a minute, he was holding a long, flexible whip, that swayed gracefully in his hand like a living animal.

Clint let his own shirt slide on the floor, staring at the whip. He had apparently forgotten how to breathe. Loki glanced at his creation, then looked down to smirk at the archer.

“Hands up” he said.

Clint would have gladly swallowed, but his throat was just too dry. His stomach was knotted with a sentiment he couldn't quite define. It was not fear – because fear would have meant he wished to get away. But it was a very close thing. Apprehension, probably, except that word was a thousand times too weak to describe the petrifying, electrified feeling that wired him from head to toe.

He raised his hands ; Loki picked up the remaining coils of leather and tied Clint's wrists together, tightly enough for the restraints to bite into his skin. It took everything the archer had in him to stay still ; Loki took his sweet time, lacing the bonds around his wrists in a complicated pattern – so Clint could absolutely not break free ; but also in a particularly twisted form of psychological torture. Because the archer damn well knew that the demi-god was tying him up to whip him – and he was just letting it happen. His nerves were screaming at him that he ought to struggle, to try and free himself while it was still time. Yet he stayed there, holding his hands up so he could be restrained and tortured. It demanded a tremendous amount of will from him, and left him more acutely aware than ever of his submissive state. He wouldn't have had to deal with such excruciating inner struggles if Loki had just clasped cuffs around his wrists and proceeded with the beating. Of course, the demi-god knew about it, and relished the slow growing of Clint's maddening apprehension.

“Get up” Loki said when he was done. “Face the wall.”

Clint slowly got on his feet – he was so tense and ready to snap that it wasn't such a small feat – and turned around. Loki grabbed his tied hands and brutally pulled them up ; another rope of leather flew from his fingers – now it really looked like a snake – and firmly secured him to one of Stark's damn exposed beams.

Loki took a step back. Clint wasn't really hanging from the ceiling – his arms were extended enough for it to be painful, but his feet were flat on the ground. He felt even more thoroughly exposed knowing that the demi-god was watching him, relishing his helplessness. He could feel the muscles of his back straining and flinching under the skin, as though trying to escape. His fists clenched convulsively in the restraints. His breath was ragged, but he managed to keep it quiet.

The demi-god ran a hand over his back, slowly, taking the time to appreciate the feeling of untouched skin under his fingers. Probably his way of reminding Clint that it wouldn't stay that way for long.

“You were surprisingly eager to apologize” he murmured.

Clint thought he sounded weird. Almost too pensive – but at the next sentence, the smirk in his voice was back. “I would hate to disappoint.”

He took another step back, and Clint only had the time to brace himself before the whip cracked into the air and hit him. He jumped and tugged hard at his bonds, the pain of the restraints around his wrists helping him breathe through the burning sting across his back. It wasn't as much painful as unexpected, but he still had to grit his teeth not to make a sound.

He heard Loki pacing the room, then the whip hissed and hit again. Clint kept his mouth shut with an effort and squared his shoulders, not sure whether he was exposing or hiding himself.

Again with the soft sounds of Loki's steps ; then the whip came down for the third time, cruelly bit his lower back, where the pain was the most unbearable – and this time, a short, raw groan of pain forced its way past Clint's lips. As though it had been a signal, the demi-god stopped waiting a few seconds between the blows and got into a more thorough rhythm. In the back of his mind, the archer noticed how precise Loki's aim was. He was excellent with a whip ; he followed a regular pattern, shoulders, lower back, diagonals, breaking it from times to times just so Clint would always be held in uncertainty. The archer was clenching in a spasm whenever the whip hit him ; he panted his suffering almost every time now. The pain was white and red and hot, thin strands of fire crisscrossing his back, but he could still take it.

And it only made his frustration grow until it was even more overwhelming than the buzzing pain, because it just wasn't enough, and exactly how fucked up was he ? Because this hurt, this really fucking hurt, this wasn't sublimating into pleasure or any of the bullshit he'd heard people say – yet his mind still boiled with a feverish craving for more.

Then Loki apparently decided to remind him that he was not exactly your average Midgardian.

The previous blows had been nothing but fragile caresses compared to this. It cracked and hit and sliced Clint's world right in half – and he screamed, loud and long, everything gone except for the branding line cutting through his body and mind. Everything pure and intense and excruciating and too much for him to endure.

Loki smirked – and brought the whip down again with even more strength.

Clint screamed some more, absolutely unable to control the sounds he made. He wasn't Hawkeye anymore, he wasn't an Avenger or a SHIELD agent ; he wasn't even sure he was Clint Barton. He was pain, only pain, and he wanted it to stop but he also wanted it never to stop because everything was so simpler. Loki had complete control over him ; he could torture him all day long if such was his will. Clint was powerless, with no choice but to endure it – and scream indeed. There was nothing else than the pain Loki gave him and the quick, immediate sensations that flashed white-hot through his body. Nothing was required of him, but to take the torture.

Loki resumed his pattern with that unearthly strength, and each time he hit his lower back, Clint felt on the verge of blacking out, the whole world flaring white behind his eyelids. He wasn't sure he could take much more without actually fainting. He wondered whether, if he lost consciousness, Loki would keep hitting him until the pain woke him back up.

The thought made him rigid with that sensation too pure to be analyzed – not pain, not terror, not pleasure either – not really ; just an intense, compelling feeling of sharpness, of vivid reality, like the edge of a knife on a winter morning. The exact feeling he had missed ever since SHIELD had extracted them both from Doom's compound. It was back in all its glory, the split second before he shot an arrow, the peak of arousal, the taste of lime, the coldness of a frostbite, the burn of a branding iron. Everything that made him feel alive, everything that he couldn't get back by himself because he was deficient, because he leaked reality somehow, it was escaping him and he couldn't control it, he was weak and pathetic – but with this, he had it all back.

The whip hit one last time, then stopped. Clint waited for the torture to resume, his breathing so ragged it sounded like sobs, his arms taut and trembling in the restraints : but the blow wouldn't come.

Loki stepped closer and his hand brushed the archer's back again, no doubt tracing the lash marks. Clint shivered and let his head fall forward, breathing in huge lungfuls of air. For some reason, although his eyes had remained dry throughout his ordeal, the pain of Loki's fingers lightly sweeping over his abused, burning back made him blink to hold back tears.

The whisper in his ear was vibrant with cruel pleasure. “That is a good look on you.”

The bonds holding him up suddenly untied themselves and he would have fallen down, if not for Loki bracing a strong arm around him, to let him kneel slowly enough on the ground. Once he was settled down, his wrists still tied together in front of him, Loki's hand slipped back up to cup his chin, and make him look up.

“So” he said, calm and elegant, as though he had just beaten Clint at chess. “You took it well enough.”

Clint swallowed thickly between his shivers.

“Thank you” he breathed, again with that strange, echoing voice.

He knew Loki wanted him to speak, but it was very difficult to him right now. Besides, there was nothing else he wanted to say. The pain was morphing into a duller, but not less excruciating feeling in his back, like embers in the ashes. He was vaguely conscious of his painful erection trapped in his jeans, but the feeling was overshadowed by the powerful serenity that had seized his mind. The pain grounded him – tied him down to the here and now – and he could not have been more grateful for it.

Loki stilled for a split second, as if he hadn't expected that. When he spoke again, his tone was smooth and cold and raised goosebumps on Clint's skin.

“I would enjoy taking you now.”

His fingers quirked briefly under Clint's chin. “Holding you down, my nails planted in your back, and fucking you dry. I am rather fond of your screaming, Barton.”

Yes, Clint thought, trembling. Yes. Please. Yes.

He wanted it – there was nothing he wanted more, even though he knew he would most definitely black out if Loki raped him after this ; which was probably the reason he hadn't said it out loud. He couldn't take anything more. But he wanted it. He wanted Loki to use him. He wanted him to be satisfied.

So badly.

Loki's hand slid away from his chin, though ; Clint's head fell forward again, and only then did he realize he had been holding his breath.

“You are wrung out” the demi-god said with slight annoyance. “I hope you will remember that lesson. You will return to my floor the day after tomorrow.”

“Thor will – ”

Loki slapped him violently and Clint's head was jerked on the side. His startled pant turned into a hiss when the demi-god gripped his hair and pulled his head back. Loki stared down at him for a second, his blue eyes serene and cold.

“Do not worry about Thor” he said calmly. “I don't want to hear you say anyone else's name while were are together. Understood ?”

“Yes” Clint breathed.

Loki let him go and turned away.

“Two days, Barton. I will be waiting.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

When Clint craned his neck the next morning to check his back, he didn't find it encrusted in blood like he had feared – Loki had not cut him, although it had damn well felt like it. His skin was still striped with welts and lash marks, which would last for days.

His stomach twisted at the realization, but the feeling wasn't unpleasant. He was still too relaxed and focused to be ashamed of that strange pride. Each stripe was like a lifeline holding back a bit of that diamond-like sharpness he had encountered at the peak of torture.

He put on a shirt and realized the welts stopped just at the edge of his short sleeves ; he wouldn't have to worry about hiding them.

Lucky coincidence.

He tried to look at himself in the mirror, but couldn't get himself to cross his own gaze.

 

*

 

“Hawkeye.”

Clint looked up and slightly raised an eyebrow. “Problem, director ? You look like Captain America started collecting Coulson vintage cards.”

Fury glared even harder and Clint made an apologetic gesture. “Sorry, sorry, too soon. Weren't you going to tell them that he's actually alive ?”

“In a few days” the director growled. “Until then, keep your mouth shut, Barton.”

“You'll want to be more specific that that, sir.”

“Sitwell wants to see you.”

Clint's grin vanished instantly.

“Now” Fury said, raising an eyebrow.

It was an amused order, but an order nevertheless. The archer gave a dry nod, then walked out of the room. He thought he was done with psychiatrists – what could Sitwell want with him ?

An image of himself flashed before his eyes – bare-chested and kneeling, shaking and panting with perverted bliss, Loki's pale hand under his chin.

His stomach contorted like a living animal. No. Of course not. Nobody knows about that.

Except Loki.

Don't be ridiculous. Loki has no interest in talking.

But then again, how could he know that ? Thor had known the demi-god for a thousand years, yet still failed to understand him. Loki was the freaking God of Chaos. And Clint had actually no idea why he complied with what could only be a little game to him. Was he just bored ? Was it all part of a greater plan ?

It was more than likely. Clint ought to get away from him, he knew that, but he couldn't – he simply couldn't. Because Loki had told him to come back and he couldn't disobey him. It was a deep-rooted feeling, resembling loyalty, with a hint of moral obligation and gut instinct. He knew what it was.

Submission.

He stopped before Sitwell's door and let out a deep breath. Maybe he should simply tell the agent that he was compromised. Again. That Loki had bent him to his will, again, and that he was a danger to others – again.

 

Do you, in any way, connect this encounter to your compromising during the invasion ?

 

The same answer blurted in Clint's mind before he could think about it.

Fuck you.

He was not a liability. He was bent to Loki's will, yes, but only when it came to himself this time. The demi-god could not order him to act on others. Even when Clint had been at his lowest, he knew he would have not gone to kill Stark or anyone else if Loki had tried to talk him into it. He knew without a doubt that should he have to choose between his dirty secret and anyone's life, he would throw away his dignity without a second thought.

Screw you, Sitwell. This is my shit, and I'm dealing with it just fucking fine.

He knocked at the door and went in without waiting for the answer.

“Agent Barton” Sitwell smiled.

Clint managed to slam the door just on the rude side of too hard. The agent raised an eyebrow, tapped his precious desk blotter, then decided not to comment and nodded towards the chair.

“Please, sit down.”

“No thanks” Clint said. “What do you want, Sitwell ? If this is an informal, non-mandatory session, I think I'll just pass.”

“I just want to know how you're doing.”

“Marvelously well and the kids are fine too, thanks for asking.”

“And what about Loki ?”

Clint stared at a pencil on Sitwell's desk and wondered how it would look stuck in the agent's nose.

“Oh, he's wonderful. He walks the dog, feeds grandma and waters the plants.”

“Joking is always your first defense mechanism, agent Barton” Sitwell said. “But I would appreciate an honest answer.”

“Fine. I lied. We don't have a dog.”

“Does his presence disturb you ?”

“And here I thought psychiatry was a subtle job.”

“Subtle questions are inefficient against people like you, agent. You're used to be interrogated. To be turned inside out. This is not what I'm trying to do.”

“The resemblance is uncanny.”

“Have you talked to Loki ?”

“Yeah, of course. He's crafting me an enchanted quiver.”

“You are not helping your case.”

“Oh – I have a case now ?”

“You've always had. Ever since Manhat – ”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP !” Clint exploded, slamming his fist on Sitwell's desk.

To the shrink's credit, he did not startle – but did turn a bit paler. Clint stayed very still, his grey eyes planted in Sitwell's.

“Listen to me” he said in a very low, controlled voice. “Fury trusts me to be on the field, and that should be enough for everyone on this fucking ship. So from now on, I won't be taking anymore of that shit from you.”

Sitwell managed a faint but daring smile. “You nearly broke my desk in half and you expect me to believe nothing's wrong ?”

“I am a professional assassin” Clint said. “Violence is part of my job.”

“There's a difference between violent and aggressive” Sitwell retorted.

The archer's nostrils flared, but the agent went on before he could react. “You are solitary.”

“I'm an Avenger and a agent of SHIELD. That not enough for you ?”

“You are secretive and withdrawn.”

“I'm a fucking spy.”

“You're supposed to be a functional agent. When was the last time you trusted someone ?”

Clint was taken aback.

“When was the last time you opened yourself to someone ? Completely, unrestrictedly – without hiding any part of yourself ?”

The stripes on the archer's back suddenly burned him as though they had just been carved into his skin with a branding iron – as though they were eating away the material of his shirt for all to see.

He suddenly straightened up, trying to control his hammering heart. “I'm not a fucking twelve-year-old girl” he heard himself say dryly.

“Where are you going ?”

Clint didn't turn back, his blood pounding in his ears. “We're done here.”

Sitwell pushed his chair back, but the archer had already slammed the door behind him.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clint hated himself. Not because he was about to knock on Loki's door, but because he knew he would have done it even if the demi-god hadn't ordered it so.

His conversation with Sitwell the other day had left him on edge, his mind and blood buzzing in the same maddening noise. His thoughts were just running in feverish, endless circles in his head. More than anything else, he craved the peace, the calm waters of that high, cold place he had managed to reach – once in pleasure, once in pain.

The door clicked open. He hadn't even realized he had already knocked.

“Agent Barton” Loki said with a small, polite nod.

The rooms were empty behind him. Clint almost asked where was Thor, but bit his tongue right on time. He walked inside with a sinking feeling that only deepened when the door closed behind him. He could never get used to the fact that although it was an animal need, it required a conscious decision from his part to fulfill it. He craved submission, but had to take the decision to submit. And each time made him lose a little more faith in his sanity.

Loki had walked behind him ; his hand set on his shoulder in an fairly harmless gesture, but Clint still flinched violently. The demi-god raised his eyebrow, but did not comment. His hand slipped under the archer's shirt to crawl up his back.

He hummed thoughtfully, appreciating the slight tremors of the muscles as he brushed the abused skin. Suddenly, he planted his nails in the rawest stripe.

“Does it hurt ?”

“Yes” Clint said stiffly, staring ahead.

Loki's hand slid away, then he turned around the archer again to face him. He looked down at him for a second – he was tall, damn it – then cupped his face, slightly rubbing his thumb on his cheekbone.

Clint kept looking somewhere between the demi-god's clavicles. He could endure a whipping, but such intimate gestures still made his skin crawl with shame. The fact that Loki knew exactly what effect it had on him made it even worse.

“It has only been two days” the demi-god remarked lightly. “Yet you are on edge again.”

Clint swallowed ; as though it had been an invitation, Loki's hand slipped down his face to brace against his throat. He wasn't really squeezing his neck – his long fingertips still rested somewhere behind Clint's ear, but his thumb was pressing at his jugular, forcing Clint to raise his head, and he could have broken the archer's spine with a clench of his hand. The archer tried not to swallow against his palm.

“What happened ?” Loki demanded in his calm, icy voice.

“Sitwell” Clint answered, before realizing that it wouldn't be enough when Loki's fingers tightened around his throat. “A SHIELD shrink. Not important.”

“We met” the demi-god reminded him, in a tone that expressed that indeed, Sitwell was of the non-important kind. “And you let that man get to you ?”

His tone could not have been heavier with disdain – and disappointment, somehow.

Clint felt himself flush with anger and shame. “I'm sorry” he articulated.

He must not have sounded completely sincere, and Loki's gaze grew even colder. “I don't care for your apologies.”

He let him go. “You are not worth my time.”

A pang of pure panic flared in Clint's chest at these words. Without thinking, he finally crossed the gaze of Loki, who smirked victoriously at his distress. “Oh, worry not, you will still be taken care of.”

Clint blinked at him, but Loki's smile only grew wider and nastier. “This way” he said, turning away.

The archer followed, his head a boiling cauldron of manic anxiety. What did that mean ? Surely there was nobody else in the suite with them – but what else could that mean ?

“Strip” Loki said as he entered the bedroom. “All of it.”

Clint was trembling with nervousness, but he took off his battle gear without a word – he had come directly from the range and his muscles were still flexible and warmed up. This time, he did not hesitate and took off his boxer briefs along with the rest of his clothes.

He was ready to climb on the mattress when Loki's piercing gaze rooted him to the spot.

“Did I tell you to get on the bed ?”

A nervous twitch clenched Clint's chest, but he stepped back and murmured, “No.”

Loki only emitted a short hum in response, and looked Clint up and down. The archer wasn't one to blush, but he still thought he could feel his cheeks burning under the demi-god's thorough examination. He clasped his hands behind his back to resist the urge of hiding his groin, took a deep breath and stood straight. Loki walked around him, slowly, and smirked when Clint's welts came in his line of sight. He faced him again and ordered, “Kneel. Keep your hands behind your back.”

Clint swallowed, then did as he was told. Loki walked behind him again. The archer saw moving lights reflecting on the wall and just like last time, ropes fell down in seemingly endless coils next to him. Loki crouched behind him and grabbed his wrists. He pushed them up and together against his back, as though trying to break the bones, but stopped long before the archer was actually in danger of injury ; his arms were still higher than what was comfortable, his forearms horizontal across the middle of his back. Loki picked a rope and tied them there, securing Clint's wrists together ; the archer was forced to keep his shoulders clenched since the bonds did not allow him to let his hands hang behind his back.

Loki then took a longer rope and tied his upper arms to his chest, pinning them to his sides. The archer could not move an inch above the waist, and he could feel his shoulders begin to strain already. He waited, his heart hammering against his ribs, then startled when Loki caught his arm and forced him to lift himself up on his knees. Another second of staring at the wall – he could have killed to know what Loki was doing ; then two ropes slipped together between his ass cheeks and he couldn't hold back a small sound of surprise. The demi-god huffed a smirk in return and Clint flushed with anger at himself.

Loki tied the twin ropes solidly around Clint's inner thighs, tight enough so they would part his ass slightly and chafe at his entrance. The archer squirmed in humiliation, but the worst was yet to come – Loki suddenly pressed against his back and slipped an arm forward to grab his hardening cock.

The archer struggled not to let out another moan – he would not yield to this bastard, dammit – but when Loki stroked him to full hardness, he had to screw his eyes shut to keep his panting breaths silent. Loki's thumb rubbed at the head of his cock, collecting pre-come, then suddenly released him. Clint reopened his eyes and saw it coming to his mouth.

His face contorted in disgust and he tried to jerk away ; but of course, he wasn't going anywhere. Loki's other hand caught his hair in a painful grip, and the slicked thumb pressed at his lips, rubbed pre-come against them, before forcing its way into his mouth. Clint trembled in revulsion and fury, but he was helpless. It wasn't just the tip, but the full digit that pushed in, and Clint could not help tasting the salty, sticky drips on his tongue.

Loki chuckled, then pulled out his hand and gripped Clint's cock again – the archer's hips jerked up involuntarily and he let out another loud pant, which made him hate himself all the more. Loki picked up the four ends of the two ropes wrapped around his inner thighs and chafing inside his ass. He brought the ends together in front of his crotch and tied them all – around the base of Clint's cock. He wrapped them several times around his balls as well before tugging and tying it all up, very tightly.

The archer convulsed in protest, biting his lips – verbal threats would only make it worse – but Loki did not care, and took a cruel pleasure in tightening the knot until Clint let out an inarticulate plea.

The archer's cock was harder than ever, throbbing in pain, and each throb pulled the ropes a little further inside his ass. He realized he was instinctively struggling against his restraints, his wrists twisting and shoulders straining in the ropes ; he only managed to make them chafe around his chest.

Loki hummed, then picked two other ropes, tied them to the restraints already torturing Clint's groin, and knotted their other ends to the archer's ankles on each side of his body, so Clint was forced to sit on his heels. He then used yet another pair of ropes to secure again his double bent legs in the middle of his thighs, as to make sure he could not unfold his limbs.

Clint thought it was over ; but Loki had mentioned, that first day, that he would get creative. Two other ropes dropped in a collar around Clint's neck.

The archer went completely still, slight tremors running through his body. Before the prospect of Loki strangling him could actually make itself clear in his mind, the ropes tightened – but never pressed against his Adam apple. Loki had not knotted them in such purpose ; the whole thing was loose like an unused slipknot around his neck. The demi-god tugged it down and tied it to the restraints cutting in the middle of Clint's thighs.

The archer had no problem breathing since his throat was free of any pressure, but the ropes chafed behind his neck, pulled at his thighs – and mostly, he had to bend forward even further, so much that his forehead was almost touching his knees. He was tied in a begging position, and the realization made his stomach churn with that intense, adrenaline-filled sensation that was neither terror nor pleasure.

“Do you think we are done ?” Loki asked somewhere above him.

Clint trembled so much that he had to try several times before he could answer a dry, short, “Yes.”

He could hear Loki's smirk. “You are wrong. Open your mouth.”

Before the archer could actually comply, a thick leather bit, like the handle of a whip, was shoved between his jaws and secured tightly behind his neck. He let out a muffled moan and panted his way through another powerful, full-body shiver.

“Well” Loki said, getting up, his a voice a few notches higher, as though he was drawing a conclusion. “Enjoy yourself, Barton.”

What ?

Loki had already turned away and a few seconds later, Clint heard the click of the door shutting behind him.

You are not worth my time.

Bastard, Clint thought, screwing his eyes shut. Bloody bastard.

He tried to find a comfortable position – not that he could take many of them in his situation ; but of course, even among his restricted range of choices, there was none. If he let his head fall forward, the weight of his body pulled at the ropes chafing in his ass, opening him up. If he tried to relieve that particular discomfort by straightening up, he was stopped by the restraints digging into his neck and thighs, and his abs ended up straining and fluttering in effort anyway. And of course, the cock ring was a constant, throbbing pain, a materialization of Loki's cruelty and Clint's humiliation – because he didn't think he had ever been harder in his life. The predicament was already unbearable, but he had a feeling he was in for the long haul this time.

He bit hard in the leather gag, straightened up as much as he could, and willed himself to endure it. He managed to stay still for several minutes ; but after a while, he found himself slumping back into the other position, the ropes digging in his ass ; then back to the first one when he couldn't endure the humiliation anymore, even though no one was there to see him. He was unable to keep himself from trying to find a comfortable position, even though he knew it was pointless. Eventually, his body began shivering violently with the effort and he leaned forward yet again, almost resting his forehead on his knees even though it opened him up more thoroughly than ever, the ropes pressing at his hole, as though his ass was aching to be fucked...

He quickly pushed that thought away. He would not give Loki that pleasure – even though logically, what he thought or wished for didn't matter, since the demi-god had no way of knowing. But logic had left the building a long time ago.

The leather gag was beginning to feel heavy in his mouth. He had swallowed several times already, but he could not keep himself from drooling, and it started to drip down his chin. His cock was on fire and the pain would have made him scream, had he not been muzzled ; as it was, it could only draw from him low, muffled moans that he tried to cut off instantly. His shoulders hurt ; his arms hurt ; his wrists hurt ; his thighs and calves hurt. His whole body was a giant ache, to the point that the stripes on his back were actually the least painful zone he could think of.

The ropes shifted against his rim again and he couldn't hold it in – he moaned, loud and halting, even though it did nothing to relieve his torment. His untouched cock was pulsing against his stomach. He had tried to straighten up again, and fell back down once more, squirming in his unforgiving restraints.

The door clicked open and he went absolutely still, branding anger renewing his strength. He waited, only slightly shivering as Loki's soft steps grew louder. The demi-god stopped just before him, then crouched and gripped his hair to lift his head.

The movement forced Clint to straighten up beyond what he could bear, and he had to bite the gag not to yell in pain when the ropes cruelly dug into his thighs and neck. Loki huffed his satisfaction, then tilted his head to study Clint. He let out a mock tsk of disapproval at the sight of the trail of saliva on his chin.

“Manners, Barton. This is really off-putting.”

Wrath churned in Clint's stomach, but there was nothing he could say or do. Loki smirked, then wiped the dribble away with an inexplicable handkerchief. The archer could only close his eyes against this new humiliation.

Loki waited a few seconds after he was done, then sighed. “Why not yield now and save us some time ?”

Go. Fuck. Yourself. The branding hatred in Clint's eyes probably made up for the words he could not speak.

Loki smirked again. “Suit yourself.” He glanced at his throbbing erection. “Your body's the wisest.”

Clint blushed and averted his eyes. Loki actually laughed, and cruelly tugged at his hair so their gazes would meet again. He had this wide-eyed, completely insane expression Clint had seen on the footage of the glass cell.

“What is the point” he said with delight, “of looking away, when I have such an obvious manifestation of your pleasure just before my eyes ?”

He suddenly leaned forward so he could speak under his breath, right into Clint's ear.

“You are loving this, Barton. And you cannot hide it. Not from me. Not from yourself.”

Clint managed to break free in a sudden twist of his shoulders – which he deeply regretted the next second, when the ropes bit into his skin all over his body like furious snakes. He fell back in his hunched position, panting through his nose, feeling with renewed acuteness just how much the restraints worked him from behind for Loki's pleasure.

Fuck me and let's be done with it, for Christ's sake.

But Loki got up – and turned away.

“Have fun.”

The door clicked shut again and a shudder of disbelieving fury shook Clint from head to toe. He squirmed indignantly in his restraints. He wanted to shout at Loki to get his ass back here. Fuck, he thought it was over !

You are not worth my time.

Clint cursed a blue streak in his head and screwed his eyes shut in despair. He spent countless minutes twisting in his bonds yet again, twitching helplessly, unable to relieve himself in any way. The clock was ticking and it infuriated him all the more. He was not staying here for another hour, no way in hell, as soon as he was free he was going to kill that motherfucker and right now he really really wanted – needed – to –

No, Clint thought suddenly, briskly cutting his own train of thoughts.

He pressed his forehead against his knees and willed it away with all his strength. But the movement only opened him up more, and the ropes pressing at his entrance made him – snap.

God, he wanted them inside. He wanted those fucking bonds to stop teasing and finally breach his abused rim. He wanted something, anything, to fill him, he wanted a cock up his ass, he wanted to be taken, right now, right fucking now, he couldn't deny to himself anymore, it was as though a dam had broken, and he was so ashamed, he would have hurt himself in self-loathing if not for the restraints, the restraints were forcing him to face it, he was alone with that devouring thought, he screamed inside to escape it, he wanted to be dead, he wanted not to feel anything more again, but he was tied down, he couldn't move, and he was trembling with need, aching to be taken, begging wordlessly to be fucked, and his cock was throbbing and twitching in its restraints, and when he invoked Loki's memory, when he called forth that precise moment when the demi-god had pushed into him –

– he came, with a muffled, halting groan, pulsing only once since he was still mercilessly trapped in the cock ring.

He let his head slump forward, shaking uncontrollably, and almost missed the sound of the door opening again. He didn't fail to notice Loki's hand, though, when it grabbed his hair in that now horribly familiar gesture, to force his head up. The demi-god was crouching next to him again ; he had a slight, nasty smirk on his lips as he raised his other hand to unlock Clint's muzzle.

The gag leaving his mouth was both a huge relief and a greater pain. The archer let out an inarticulate sound and worked his jaw, trying to swallow the excess of saliva, but Loki didn't leave him any time ; he pushed the archer's head down to make him bow – tightening his wedgie to the point of torture – bow so low, that Clint could have licked the floor.

Which, he understood when he saw the stain of his own come, was exactly the idea.

He jerked his shoulders in protest, but he was still implacably tied up and Loki's hand was heavy and unyielding.

“Clean it.”

Clint was trembling in his restraints ; Loki pushed him ever further down and the ropes squeezed the archer's abused body all the more, making him bite back a scream.

“Clean it.”

The archer shivered, a last spark of rebellion dying off behind his eyelids. He was too exhausted. He just wanted it to be over.

He leaned forward to cover the last inch and licked the still warm come, shaking with ugly, repulsive shame. The taste wasn't unpleasant, not that he cared much at this point. He licked it clean, like Loki had said, until there was nothing left, and swallowed down.

 

And suddenly that was it.

 

He could not have been more humiliated. He could not have debased himself more. The ropes could not have been tighter around his body. His shame and pain were so thorough that they just melted together and snapped – like a balloon bursting, He was beyond suffering, beyond humiliation ; and beyond was this dazzling, intensely pure place. This state of the mind where everything was equal and even, and sharp, and cold – and perfect.

The ground zero. The bottom of all things.

He went boneless, setting his forehead on the floor, and exhaled a long, shaky sigh. He realized, from a distance, that he was shuddering uncontrollably ; Loki's hand was not painful in his hair anymore. The fingers were rubbing circles in his scalp.

“Finally” the demi-god said.

Clint's mind was completely burst out with endorphins, and it was already a miracle that he had registered the word. As to process it, it could wait until later. The whole world could wait until later. 

He realized he was being pulled up on his knees, but that it didn't hurt his thighs nor the back of his neck ; he still didn't figure out that Loki was actually untying him until he head the soft sounds of ropes falling into heaps on the floor. The one connecting his thighs and neck had been indeed the first to go, then the one circling his upper arms and chest – he could instantly breathe a lot better. The bonds tying his ankles to his upper thighs were quick to follow. The rope that had served as a cock ring went off, and although Clint had not come completely, he felt nothing but relief – he was not hard anymore ; not painfully, anyway.

Everything was settling inside him, like clouds of sand falling back at the bottom of the sea after a storm.

Eventually, Loki untied his wrists, and Clint found himself completely free. He made a clumsy movement that was stopped by the hold of the demi-god.

“Too eager” he murmured with an eyebrow raised. “As always.”

Clint shivered, but it was a good shudder, of fatigue and satisfaction, because Loki was in charge, and Clint just had to let him do whatever he wanted. He was still marveling at the unearthly serenity that had seized him. It was like being high – except no drug could ever have brought him that far. Each touch was perfection ; each beat of his heart a pulse of well-being. Although his feelings towards Loki were about as powerful as before, they were not of hatred anymore. Far from it. He was incredibly, impossibly grateful, as though his heart was about to explode. He worshiped the hands that were now rubbing his aching limbs in slow gestures. He worshiped the warmth of the body he was pressed against. He worshiped the shoulder his head was resting on.

“Thank you” he sighed in Loki's neck. “Thank you. Thank you.”

The demi-god did not answer for a very long time.

“That man” he said eventually. “He knows nothing of your real strength.”

It took everything Clint had left to realize that this strange sentence could be heard as a praise. He thought maybe he ought to say something, but everything was fading to black. He closed his eyes and just stayed there, in a completely peaceful, satisfied state.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Clint drew his bow until his left hand almost brushed his ear.

He took a deep breath, then exhaled, long and slow. He did not take another one.

That was the secret. One of the many secrets. You do not block your breathing. It makes you shiver and strain. You just stop the process of breathing. You live without oxygen for a little while. Everything slowly begins to die inside you. Your blood stream comes to a halt. Your heart only beats out of habit. Everything settles and focuses towards the aim of your eyes. You grow deaf. You grow mute. You are out of yourself. You are where you look. You are the target, the bow, the arrow. You are within, without, betwixt and between. When your fingers open, it is too fast for all to see ; but you are the one dashing through the air, and you know, long before shooting, that you already hit the bull's eye.

Things often got confused on the battlefield. Thor and Tony had a tendency to make the weirdest things explode, and Bruce was not exactly stealthy either. Steve and Natasha tended to be on the more discreet side, but the occasional mayhem on a big scale did not frighten them – Natasha had once managed to make every fire hydrant in New York burst open at the same time, and Steve's shield had an uncanny habit of cutting through vital wires, thus provoking the explosion of the various tanks, spaceships or robots hat happened to find themselves on its way. It was like fireworks – everything bursting, breaking, deafening, dazzling. And Clint on top of the world to watch it all unravel at his feet.

Sometimes, even though he would have never admitted it, he felt overwhelmed. Sometimes – like that first time in Manhattan – he fired every arrow he had and found himself swarmed and forced to save himself through dangerous and unnecessary means. The Hulk had caught himself more than once, and one day it had even been Stark, knocking the wind out of him and cracking his lower ribs. Sometimes, he just could not escape the fact that he was human, and that most of their enemies were intelligent enough to figure out that he was the watcher, and try to take him down.

Not today.

He had not even fired one explosive arrow once ever since the fight had begun. Explosive arrows – they are everything a sniper dislikes. They are messy ; they blur the view with flames and smoke ; they are made to hit on a large scale, not for precision shooting – and then what's the point in being the world's best marksman ? But today, the archer hadn't got a single one of them out of his quiver. Not one. His sight was sharper than ever and he could see the tiniest details, see the wire he ought to cut, see the chink in the armor. His arrows were deadly, silent, and every hit was a good hit. Nice, clean work. Old-school. Surgical strikes ; massive results.

“Hawkeye, was that you ?”

Clint smiled. Even Tony couldn't follow.

“Yep” he said, notching another one.

“You're everywhere” Steve said.

The surprise and pride in his voice only made Clint's grin wider. He had been smirking to himself for a while now. It was like setting up a prank. He had taken the Doombots out in a strategic way, so the wrecks would pile up in the streets and block the retreat. He could have almost gotten them to spell out his name.

“Almost done here” he murmured.

“There's one getting away on the Fifth – ”

“Got him” Clint said, and shot without looking.

He didn't have to look. He knew he had hit it. He had glanced at the robot a second before, and he never had to look twice – everything his eyes caught was printing in his mind like a real-time animated map.

“It's over” he said, and lowered his bow.

“They regenerate, so we should – ”

“They don't anymore” Clint said. “Third wire below the neck. You cut it, they fall and don't get up.”

An impressed silence answered him. The silence in himself was impressive too – proving Clint's point. Nothing was moving. It was indeed over.

Clint was not even breathless, but he felt like he was. His pupils were dilated, his mind sharp and clear like a crystal. He had never been so focused, so aware. He felt good, at ease in his body and mind.

He felt in his element.

 

*

 

“That was a hell of a show, Hawkeye” Steve said. “I think Tony's still trying to wear off his frustration – you took out all the fun for him.”

Clint smiled and shrugged. “What can I say, Cap. I just kept getting windows.”

He clinked their beers and swallowed his in two gulps. Steve smiled, then patted his shoulder and walked away to go talk to Tony. Clint was about to follow him when a weird laugh caught their attention in a corner of a room.

“My friends – I believe you ought to see this.”

They all gathered around Thor, except for Clint who stayed behind the counter for one minute to grab another beer. Jarvis had opened up a floating screen and Thor was watching it with a huge grin on his face, his eyes twinkling with unusual mischief.

“What you got there, big guy ?” Tony said, leaning behind him on the couch.

Clint didn't have to get closer to see, and his stomach churned.

He put down the beer on the counter, untouched. He was suddenly shivering like a leaf in the wind.

“Stalking your brother ?” Natasha said, raising an eyebrow at Loki's thin silhouette on the screen. “I thought you were sharing a floor. Isn't that enough ?”

“I do not usually trace his every move, but I have been wondering what he was doing while he was left alone.”

“And what was he doing ?” Steve said, interested yet sounding like he preferred not to know.

They had grown more or less used to having Loki around, but that was mostly because he never left his floor. It was easy to forget about him.

Thor was still grinning, though. “Just watch.”

Clint was petrified behind the counter. He felt like his heart was going to beat out his chest. He felt like he was standing on a beach with a tsunami crashing towards him, knowing that he could neither escape nor survive.

Thor started the video again.

Loki was walking inside the common rooms, looking around with quick glances that didn't seem like him at all – the demi-god always behaved as though he owned the world, and he usually managed to fool most people, unlike Thor who could be more awkward than Captain America at times. When he was alone, his armor of assurance apparently cracked – ever so slightly. It was so weird to see him hesitate, and a strange feeling contracted Clint's gut. He did not notice it, though, busy as he was trying to remember how to breathe.

“Here” Thor said. “Look.”

Loki was sitting on the couch and saying a few words to Jarvis. A second later, the same screen they were currently watching opened up in front of him. A bright dash of red-and-gold darted across it.

“Is that – ”

“Yes” Thor said, sounding like he was barely containing his laughter.

“He's watching us on the news” Steve breathed.

Natasha let out a small sound of repressed joy.

“No way” Tony said as though Christmas had come six months early. “Jarvis, record that in my personal files, quick !”

“I just did, sir.”

“He's watching us on the news !” Tony repeated – then broke into incredulous laughter.

Everyone else joined him in his hilarity ; Clint just stayed there in the background, vaguely noticing he was breathing again, feeling as though a piano had fell from the 42th floor and missed him by only a few feet.

Idiot. Idiot. Bloody moron.

Of course the footage wasn't about him and Loki. Thor wouldn't have laughed. He wouldn't have called the others to see. He would have pummeled his brother into a wall and demanded a personal explanation from Clint. He wouldn't have watched a session of torture like a fucking lolcat video on Youtube.

Natasha glanced at him and Clint forced himself to quirk a grin, as though he appreciated the joke from a distance. That was what he would usually do, so the Widow was quick to return to the footage. Clint finished his beer, then dried his suddenly damp hands on a rag and left the living room.

He roamed the corridors with long strides for a minute, then suddenly stopped and looked at the ceiling. He exhaled, then said, “Jarvis ? Can you broadcast that video – right here ?”

“Certainly, sir.”

A floating screen opened, hovering next to the wall, and the security footage began playing. Loki stepped inside the living-room yet again, sat on the couch and watched the news indeed, with a slightly bored look on his face. Clint tried to stay away from the Avengers press as much as he could, but he was familiar with the jerky, blurred images people recorded during battles – it had become some sort of dangerous sport for the daredevils and the adrenaline junkies. They were now sold thousands of dollars on the Internet, and the broadcasting companies were falling over themselves to get the gem of the day into their news first. What Loki watched wasn't of a very high quality. A bad recording of the Hulk falling down a building and jumping back up right away ; Iron Man dashing past in less than one second ; Thor's billowing red cape between two skyscrapers.

Then him. Hawkeye.

Clint thought he had taken a blow to the plexus. There were never videos of him usually – he was the sniper, the guy who fought from a distance, unnoticed like a hawk in the sun. But this was one long motherfucking footage – and of excellent quality, too. Thankfully, he was wearing his sunglasses, not that a few pictures of him weren't already out there. He realized he could hear the newscaster's voice in the background.

...This exclusive video has been taken by an urban drone. The super-sniper certainly outdid himself today, taking down more than half of the enemy strength by himself in a matter of hours. Experts claim that...”

Clint never heard the rest of that sentence. He was hypnotized by Loki's face.

The demi-god was leaning towards the screen as though he was about to extend a hand and push his fingers through the hologram. He looked absolutely fascinated by Clint's image. His eyes were shrewd, with slight crinkles in the corners.

He was fighting back a smile.

You're crazy, Barton. Completely out of your goddamn mind.

But then Loki did smile. It was slight, but real, without the usual edge of irony or cruelty to taint it. A powerful shiver ran through Clint's entire body at that sight.

He's proud of me.

The sudden thought made him scowl at himself. That was an even more ridiculous assumption. Loki had no reason to be proud of Clint's brief turn in the spotlight, and Clint had certainly no reason at all to be happy about it. But the footage went on, and the demi-god was still sitting on the couch and leaning forward, his eyes definitely fixed on Clint's image. The archer's throat went very dry, and he licked his lips nervously.

He realized his whole body was singing with need. He realized he felt jealous of his image onscreen.

Fuck.

“Thanks, Jarvis” he said, turning away, his blood pounding in his ears.

 

*

 

Clint blinked up and realized he had been staring at the wall for almost an hour.

He ran his hands through his hair, then dropped them with a low curse. This wasn't good. He was going downhill again – that damn video had only accelerated the process. He didn't even know what to think anymore.

He thought submission to be just an animal need. But this was beyond physical sensations. He hated bowing ; he hated debasing himself. Yet when he finally did, when he finally let go, he was happier than he had ever been in his life. And the odd memory of a caring Loki at the end of their last session only added to the confusion.

No use staying there driving himself crazy. He shook his head briskly, trying to shake himself up, and got on his feet. But as he walked into the elevator, the same thoughts kept running in circles in his head.

This wasn't like he had gotten drunk and forgot everything but the pleasure. He remembered the frustration, the pain, the humiliation. But – as though it had happened to someone else. What he recalled clearly, what still made him gasp with need, was the brilliant acuteness of his mind, like a sparkling, newly sharpened knife. And the peace which had followed, lasting for more than two days this time.

Loki's expression in the security footage kept tormenting him. That small, proud smile made his stomach churn with a strange heat. Made him want to drop on his knees and into his pool of serenity.

He shook his head again, gritted his teeth, willed it away. He just needed a fix on a weekly basis – he wasn't going to submit again so soon, for Christ's sake. But he had kept going mindlessly and when the doors of the elevator opened, he found himself in front of Thor's door.

He stared at it for a second ; but before he could even decide what to do, it opened on Loki.

“Ah, here you are” he said offhandedly – and grabbed his jacket to pull him inside.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Clint didn't even have the time to ask – Loki closed the door, then dragged him through the dark living-room towards the door of his bedroom.

“Hey” Clint said, trying to jerk away. “I'm not here for – ”

Loki pushed him inside, slammed the door and pinned him to the wall, pressing a hand to his mouth just as Thor's voice echoed outside.

“Brother, are you ready ?”

“In a minute” Loki said, grinning at Clint.

He pressed his palm harder against his lips, and his fingers dug into his skin ; he twisted his wrist, forcing the archer to turn his head on the side, exposing his neck. Clint looked at him, chest heaving.

“We cannot be late” Thor called.

“I know” Loki said lightly.

He pressed his lips on the archer's neck.

Then suddenly opened his mouth – and bit.

Clint convulsed and reflexively tried to push him away, but Loki was still impossibly strong. He crushed him against the wall and bit all the harder, sinking his teeth in the flesh and muffling Clint's scream in his hand. Blood began to drip down the archer's shoulder ; Loki's tongue darted out, licking it with quick swipes like a cat. Clint moaned against his palm and thought his knees were going to give out.

Thor knocked again, sounding exasperated. “Brother – we must go.”

“For Hel's sake” Loki said, managing to sound like his usual, haughty self, even as he was licking Clint's blood off his lips. “We are gods. SHIELD can wait a while longer.”

He smirked, then bit Clint again right next to the first bite mark, even more fiercely. The archer struggled, but his writhing was pointless and his yell implacably silenced by Loki's palm. The demi-god licked the wound again, leaving him to pant harshly, raggedly through his nose, then casually went on with the conversation.

“What does Fury want me for, anyway ?”

His saliva must be more coagulative than a human's, since Clint had stopped bleeding already. The bites were clear and deep in his flesh, though. He was slightly shivering, and the imperceptible scent of Loki's skin, pressed under his nose, was driving him mad for some unfathomable reason. The demi-god palmed him through his jeans with his free hand, and smiled when he felt the obvious bulge.

He hummed in Clint's ear.

“You” he whispered, “are going to wait for me.”

He lifted his hand, just enough for air to circulate again. Clint drew in a hoarse breath, then mumbled, all rational objections gone out the window, “Yes.”

“Good.”

Outside, Thor was enumerating the apparently many reasons his brother had to answer Fury's call. Loki fisted a hand in the archer's shirt and tore it down. Clint blocked his breath, then suppressed a moan when the demi-god ripped his pants and underwear to shreds in the same lightning-quick, aggressive movement. Loki smirked, wrapped a hand behind Clint's neck and manhandled him towards the bed. He forced him to his knees and produced a rope in his free hand.

“Behind your back.”

Clint clasped his hands together as ordered, staring at the floor, his mind in a feverish, fascinated state. The bonds wrapped magically around his wrists and tightened to the point of making him wince in pain. Loki grinned, then produced a strange leather strap – thick and black, with a steel ring. Only when he fastened it around Clint's neck did the archer understand what it was.

The collar was just heavy and tight enough for him to be conscious of it. Loki twisted his hand and a leash appeared in his hand – it was obviously a very real leash, not just a piece of rope, except for the fact that it was twice shorter than it should be. Loki clipped it to Clint's collar and fastened the other end to the foot of the bed.

He cupped Clint's face and made him look up. The archer blinked at him, a bit disconcerted. The bites were still burning, but his punishment had been so thorough and sadistic last time that this situation seemed rather comfortable in comparison.

Loki smirked at him.

“Disappointed ?”

Clint gritted his teeth furiously and looked down. Loki hummed again, but instead of demanding an answer, he stabbed two fingers in the archer's bite marks. Clint startled in pain but managed to bite back his scream.

“S-sorry” he uttered instead.

Loki gave a nasty smile.

“You could beg” he suggested lightly.

The archer stiffened. Loki's hand left his wound and went up his face again, smudging red on his jaw. Clint closed his eyes and turned away, but Loki's possessive touch followed his move.

“If you want more” the demi-god went on. “You could just try and implore me.”

Clint clenched his jaw stubbornly and looked straight ahead. Loki chuckled, and it was sharp and threatening and ominous and everything a chuckle should not be.

“Spread your legs.”

The archer's eyes went slightly wider, but he did not move. Any second now, Thor was going to knock again, and Loki would have to leave.

But instead, the demi-god just slapped him hard across the face.

“Do I have to say it again ?” he said in an even tone.

And Clint heard such promises of pain in his calm voice that he swallowed and, still kneeling, spread his legs. His cheek was burning fiercely. Loki smiled, let go of the leash and crouched to be at eye level. He gestured in the air, and instead of a rope or a collar, it was his spear that appeared with a flash to rest in his hand.

Clint stopped breathing. Loki pushed the blade against his throat, forcing him to lift his chin, and tilted his head on the side to study him. They stayed in that position for a frozen second, Clint's eyes closed, his lips pressed tight, trying to control his panic. No killing, no maiming. He would be fine. For God's sake, Thor was just behind the door.

He knew he would not call for help, though.

“Wider” Loki breathed eventually.

The archer swallowed again and spread his knees further apart. Loki emitted a tsk of irritation, then grabbed Clint's thighs and forced them open until the archer though his ligaments were going to snap. He almost uttered a plea, but managed to bite it back. Loki raised an amused eyebrow at his stubbornness, then set the spear on the floor, turned it to a simple rod of steel and produced two more ropes to secure it to Clint's knees, so he could not close his legs again.

“There” he said, getting up. “That should keep you entertained.”

He turned away in a billowing of leather, just as Thor started knocking again. Clint encountered a split second of pure panic when Loki just opened the door, but it thankfully hid the archer from Thor's sight. Then the demi-god left, and Clint found himself alone.

 

He had thought his position was more lenient than last time. He had been completely, painfully wrong.

This was not at all like last time – whatever Loki had said, he had kept his attention focused on Clint while the archer was squirming under the torture of the ropes. But today, the demi-god was going to the Helicarrier ; he had others things in his mind. Clint could have very well waited in his room – he didn't even need this today. God, he had only lost his mind for a second when Loki had bitten him, but now his thoughts were clear again, and he was furious at himself.

Loki wanted him naked and tied down at the foot of his bed. This was not about pain, but sheer humiliation. Clint was not even worthy of a proper torture. He was put back in his place, left to wait like another piece of furniture adorning Loki's bedroom. And he hated it even more than he had hated the previous ordeals.

Besides, his position was not that comfortable. He was used to be on his knees by now, but his leash was so short that it restricted his every move, forbidding him to sit or straighten up too much. The metal rod was painful against his knees.

And the fact that his thighs were spread so wide was more than uncomfortable. The last time, there had been the ropes in the cleft of his ass. This time, he had nothing, and the spreader bar only stressed that absence all the more. Clint was wide open, ready to be taken, but Loki had no interest in that. He would rather let him stew and enjoy the thought of him writhing helplessly while he was away. Maybe he wasn't even enjoying that thought ; maybe he wasn't thinking about him at all.

Clint closed his eyes and pressed his head against the wood of the bed, twisting his wrists in the restraints, hoping that the pain would distract him for the burning need in his groin. But of course, it was not enough.

 

*

 

The sound of the door closing made him flinch in self-disgust at his own uncontrollable surge of hope, like a fire suddenly flaming bright in his belly.

Loki came closer and stopped before him with a smirk.

“So” he said. “Are you ready now ?”

Clint just stared daggers at him.

Loki's booted foot slipped with ease between Clint's spread legs to press against his balls. The archer stiffened, hardly breathing, his mind suddenly a blank, terrified void.

“I asked you a question” Loki said calmly.

“Sorry” Clint breathed.

The demi-god grinned – and crushed him anyway.

Clint howled and curled up on himself, his face contorted in pain. “God... !”

“Ah, yes” Loki conceded. “Painful, isn't it ?”

He crouched and grabbed the archer's leash to tug him close.

“Not a good day for testing me, Barton” he murmured in his ear.

Clint could only pant in response as the breathtaking pain started to recede.

“Now” Loki said, straightening up. “Are you ready to beg ?”

“Yes” Clint gasped. “Yes.”

“I'm listening.”

“Please” the archer said hurriedly. “Please, I...”

He bit his lips in a last burst of dignity, then bowed his head, trembling in pain and furious shame.

“Please fuck me.”

He hated himself for debasing himself like this. Hours of frustration had done nothing to bring him closer to that strange state of complete submission – on the contrary ; not to mention he hadn't been nearly as low as the other times when they had started this. He was more acutely aware than ever that Loki was Loki, and that he was taking an immense pleasure in Clint's pain and humiliation.

And of course, his anger and rebellion showed.

“You call that begging ?” Loki sneered. “I will just leave you there for another six hours.”

The feeling of the spreader bar suddenly short-circuited Clint's wrath for a second. “No !”

The demi-god stopped. “No ?”

“Please” Clint tried again. “Please, no more. I am – I am ready. I will be good. Please, I need – I need it. I will do everything you say, just... don't leave me here, fuck, please, I'm – ” he gritted his teeth. “I'm begging you.”

Loki raised an amused eyebrow.

“Better” he said.

He came closer. “But not nearly enough.”

And Clint understood.

He closed his eyes for a second, hating himself for what he was about to do, then bent forward until his forehead almost touched the floor, echoing his submissive position of last time.

Please” he uttered in the carpet. “Please, fuck me. Take me, use me – any way you want. I implore you.”

When he glanced up, he knew he had hit the bull's eye. Loki grinned at him, then made a sweeping gesture with his hand ; the ropes around Clint's knees untied themselves, freeing him from the spreader bar. The demi-god grabbed his leash and yanked.

“Up.”

Clint flushed in humiliation, but got up. Loki smiled, then tugged him forward. The archer followed, twisting his wrists nervously.

Then he saw what was on the other end of the room and stopped dead. Loki grinned fiercely and tugged again, making him stumble forward. The archer could not take his eyes off that thing.

It was a chair, like a throne, with arm rests – except there were straps waiting for his wrists and ankles ; and a massive cock carved into the polished wood, fully erect on the seat, glistening faintly under the light.

Loki noticed his sudden paleness and smirked. “Problem ?”

Clint gritted his teeth.

“No” he spat.

The demi-god had probably crafted this thing himself – there was no way this was usual Asgardian furniture. Exactly just how insane was he ?

Loki's smile grew wider and more mocking. Suddenly, he pulled Clint close and cupped his face.

“Why so appalled ?” he breathed. “You did beg for it.”

The archer clenched his jaw. Loki smirked against his neck, his breath ghosting above the bite marks. “We will take it slow.”

The archer was shivering. “Thank you” he muttered stiffly.

“Hm.” Loki's hand slid down and suddenly pinched the head of Clint's erected cock, making him jump. “Are you ready ?”

“Yes” Clint growled, because what else could he say ?

His wrists untied themselves and Loki dragged him forward by his leash, letting him go with a last shove in front of the chair. He unclasped it from the collar and ordered, “Climb.”

Clint did, crouching on the seat and leaning on the arm rests, then on the back of the chair to position himself above the dildo. It twisted his arms behind his back, and his thighs were already trembling from their long and brutal spread. He could not hover for long. But fuck, this thing was huge – as in, horrifyingly huge. This was not intended for pleasure. This was an actual torture chair. Maybe it was your typical piece of Asgardian furniture ; after all, the Spanish Inquisition had built a few of these monstrosities in their own time, and the Asgardian law was thousands of years old. Clint hoped Loki did not expect him to take it all the way, but whatever awaited him, he had no choice.

Loki stood in front of the chair and grabbed Clint's hips to position him. The archer felt the wooden head brushing against his hole and stiffened.

The demi-god pulled him down ; the rim of muscles resisted at first, then the head popped in – and Clint's hands tightened on the wooden back as he threw his head back and clenched his teeth in mute suffering.

To his great surprise, Loki pulled him upwards immediately, partly relieving him from having to support his own weight.

“Relax” he ordered.

Clint was so conditioned to obey him that his muscles went slightly softer. He took a deep breath, then held it as Loki let him sink down again.

The dildo pushed into him, making him wince ; before the sensation could become unbearable, though, the demi-god had already hoisted him back up. This time, Clint looked at him with clear disbelief on his face.

Loki smiled. “I told you” he said. “Slow.”

Clint swallowed, then nodded. He still had to grip the back of the chair, behind him, and his twisted shoulders were beginning to tremble in agony.

“Can I – brace on you or something ?” he blurted out.

He instantly stiffened, persuaded that Loki would impale him right down as a punishment for speaking up without permission.

But, he realized, Loki wanted him to speak. All that time, ever since their first 'encounter', Loki had never told him to shut up – not once. He wanted him to speak, and not only when he was asked questions or required to beg.

A half-smile tugged at the demi-god's lips. “Of course” he said.

Clint swallowed again. “Thanks” he mumbled, throat dry.

His hands settled hesitantly on Loki's shoulders, whose hands braced around Clint's hips, thumbs rubbing circles on his hipbones. “Ready ?” he asked again, looking up at him.

Clint licked his lips, feeling a tiny bit more assured. “Yeah.”

“Well then.”

The archer closed his eyes when the wooden cock pushed into him. This time, Loki was a bit harsher, forcing him to take about a third of the thing before he allowed him to pull back up. Clint was shivering, but his grip was firm on the demi-god's shoulders, and the pain was bearable – it burned like hell, but he wasn't tearing up.

And he wanted it.

He had tried to ignore it because the thought made him just too ashamed, but as soon as he had seen this frankly sick chair, need had begun to boil again in his groin, the same aching need that had seized him when he was struggling against the ropes, tied down next to this very bed ; the same aching need that had made his cock throb and twitch during the six hours he had spent with his legs spread.

It was still just ridiculously too fucking big.

Loki let him sink down again, and the cock pushed inside him, slow, slow, stretching him.

“Please” Clint moaned.

The demi-god stilled, his fingers digging bruises in his hips as he held him half-way up. “What ?”

“Please” the archer repeated, panting. “Can you make it... slicker. Just – spit, oil, lube. Anything.”

Loki grinned dangerously. “Why, Barton” he said. “You are making progress.”

He hoisted him up harsher than necessary and Clint cried out when the dildo chafed inside him on its way out. Loki put a hand on the wooden cock and slid it down, covering it with a silky liquid – and to see that pale hand pumping around the dark wood like this made Clint's own cock jump and twitch all the more. Loki smirked at him and the archer looked down, flushing with shame.

“Again, trying to hide ?”

Loki grabbed his hard shaft and Clint moaned between his gritted teeth.

“What – do you want me to cut it off ?”

Clint licked his lips. “No.”

Loki pinched the head once more – except that this time, he twisted it until Clint could not hold back a groan of pain. “Please !” he panted. “Please – I'm sorry.”

Loki smirked and stopped. “Shall we ?” he said, lining Clint up again.

The archer nodded ; he bit his lip – then snapped his eyes open when the dildo entered him with incredible ease, sliding into him as though it had been made for him. At some point, though, it became too much again, because this thing was obviously not calibrated for a normal guy. Clint squirmed, then struggled against Loki's hands on his thighs when the demi-god kept pushing down. “Stop – stop. I can't take anymore.”

Loki smirked and obligingly pulled Clint up ; but before the cock could leave his body entirely, he pushed him back down, slowly, slowly, letting him impale himself on the giant dildo.

“No” Clint choked in panic, scrambling to brace against his shoulders. “Too big – please !”

“Tell me more” Loki purred, bringing him further down.  “Tell me how it feels.”

“Wrong, God, please, stop, it's too – it's too much !” the archer screamed.

Loki actually stopped. Clint looked at him, trembling, feeling his flesh strain and stretch around the wood. The demi-god waited with him. When Clint's shivers began to subside ever so slightly, Loki resumed his pushing, forcing Clint to take it, inch after inch. The archer tried to squirm – and cried out when it only increased his awareness of the giant toy stuck inside him.

“Please !” he said with each pant, “please, please, please, please, please !”

Loki sighed, then dug his fingers into Clint's hips again and hoisted him up, with the help of the archer himself who pushed on his shoulders. Clint could still stand on the chair, but his legs were trembling.

"Thank you" he sighed, shivering. 

“Brace yourself” Loki only answered.

Clint's eyes widened but before he could said anything, Loki made him take it again, in one go - he let out an inarticulate cry, able only to feel the cock sliding inside him, impossibly stretching him, opening him up more thoroughly than he could believe.

“Ah” Loki observed calmly. “There we are.”

“Please – ”

But Clint cut himself off with shock when he felt the seat of the chair brushing against his ass. Loki grinned, then forced him another inch down – and that was it.

Clint was trembling uncontrollably when Loki strapped his wrists, thighs and ankles to the wood, as to make sure that he could not possibly raise himself up. His body twitched in the torture chair, trying on its own volition to escape the ordeal. The giant dildo was simply overwhelming, short-circuiting his mind and panicking all his senses. He could feel it, inside him, deeper and wider than he could have ever imagined – fuck, that thing was going to kill him.

The archer forced his eyes open, held on to Loki's gaze, panting, straining against the leather straps. His naked body was glistening with sweat.

“Now” Loki said, cupping his cheek, smiling when Clint closed his eyes. “That is a proper stretch.”

The archer let out a close-mouthed groan and arched in his restraints, panting, his mind frozen with sensory overload.

Loki's nails grazed his jaw. “Still not enough” he mumbled pensively.

He grabbed Clint's collar and tugged, forcing the archer to lean forward – making him gasp when the giant dildo stayed still inside. He yanked again and Clint cried out even more loudly, but did not beg and clenched his fists in the restraints, trembling furiously.

Loki gave a nasty grin, then grabbed Clint's leaking cock and rubbed a thumb on the head – before pushing his nail in the slit. The archer's hips buckled and a full-body shiver electrified him.

The demi-god pushed his nail deeper, twitching it cruelly in the flesh. “My patience is wearing thin.”

He gripped the engorged flesh, hard, then forced Clint to lean forward again. The archer was trembling so much it felt like he was having a seizure, both from the giant toy ploughing his ass and from the implacable grip on his shaft. Loki's lips brushed his ear.

“Time to break you.”

He unclasped the straps and heaved him up brutally – the toy was ripped out from his ass and Clint screamed an animal cry. Loki threw him face-down on the bed, then pinned him there and twisted his arms behind his back to tie his wrists again. Clint realized he could feel his hole fluttering and twitching around nothing in a wanton, obscene manner. He pressed his face into the covers and thought he would die with shame.

“Missing something ?”

Two fingers shoved into him and Clint moaned in the mattress, because it felt too damn good – it was unbearable being empty after such a thorough stretch. He was panting with arousal, his cock hard and throbbing, trapped under his body. Now that the discomfort was gone, he was left with only an excruciating craving to be filled again.

A third finger pushed in, then a fourth. “What is this ?” Loki said with wicked triumph, twisting them inside him, making him squirm. “You are too loose. Gaping, Barton.”

The archer gritted his teeth and pressed his face in the covers again. His eyes were burning with tears of shame and fury.

“Oh, worry not” Loki mocked.

A golden glow gleamed through Clint's eyelids and he snapped them open, suddenly on the lookout.

“I just have to make you clench again.”

He pulled him back until Clint was kneeling on the floor, his chest flat on the bed, his arms still twisted and tied up. Loki spread his legs and took a step back.

Clint heard the hiss a split second before the cane hit him with a sharp slap across his ass. He muffled his scream in the covers, every muscle in his back and legs taut almost to the point of snapping. Loki put a cool hand on the burning welt, then slipped a finger inside him, grinning when he felt the rim clench with pain.

“See ?” he smirked. “Already better.”

He took a step back again and Clint screwed his eyes shut.

Just like he expected, the next blow was three times harder. He gritted his teeth and convulsed in agony. Loki hit him again and he yelled, sobbing into the mattress.

He thought maybe the demi-god would taunt him or something, but Loki did not bother and just kept hitting him with hard, sharp blows, falling one after the other on Clint's reddening cheeks and on his inner thighs. He was not playing anymore. He aimed to hurt as much as possible, and the archer had completely lost control of his mouth – each strike pushed an inarticulate scream out of him. He had sworn himself that he would not break, that Loki would not have his way with him this time, but there was no fight left himself him. He would have begged again, would have crawled, would have done anything – had he believed Loki would listen. But the demi-god was not going to stop anytime soon.

He did pause once, to dig his fingers painfully in the archer's hair and turn his head on the side. Clint glanced at him hazily.

“If you faint” Loki said calmly, towering above him, “I will kill you.”

His nails cut into his scalp.

“Understood ?”

Clint was barely breathing. His anger had vanished. He felt liquid. He felt drugged. Out of his mind with pain. He could not remember ever suffering so much in his entire life.

“Yes” he breathed, his lips barely moving.

Loki released him, stepped back – and it started again. Clint's ass was burning and crisscrossed with welts. His world was fading to black at each blow. He snapped his eyes open, chest heaving against the mattress. He must not faint. He must not faint. He must not –

The cane hit and he screamed, writhed in his bonds, sobbed and screamed again. And suddenly, Loki was leaning over him, cupping his flaming ass with cool, cool hands. Gold shadows gleamed in the room again ; without any warning, the demi-god's fingers clenched to part Clint's ass – and he thrust into him, burying himself up to the hilt in one go.

Clint arched and let out an incredible sound – so distorted with pleasure that he could not recognize his own voice. This was crazy. This was insane. He had never felt – never felt anything like this. He was still in unbearable agony, but his own pain increased the pleasure tenfold, thousandfold, as though his bleached-out brain was now just as defenseless against bliss : as though he had been flayed alive, only to be bathed in acidic pleasure.

Loki thrusted a second time and Clint choked on a deformed gasp again, unable to physically voice the intensity of his ecstasy. This was not about prostate or friction or anything – the simple knowledge that Loki was fucking him, taking him, was enough for him to almost pass out from pleasure. The demi-god fisted a hand in his hair, and he was breathless, for the first time since they had started these sick games.

“Getting there, Barton ?”

“God – fuck – yes” Clint panted, completely shameless. “Goddammitpleasedon'tstop ! Fuck me – sir – please !”

Loki stilled.

“Sir ?” he repeated, as though half-convinced he had misheard.

And Clint had struggled not to use this word, never again – just because he needed submission to stay healthy did not mean he respected Loki. This was a sick, unavoidable deal, and once the serenity wore off, he still found himself flushing with shame, unable to understand his own behavior while deep under. But today – today – he could not deny it. Not anymore.

“I am – I am yours”  he said. “Fuck, I – I belong to you, this is what I need, what I want, I'm your fucktoy, your pet, whatever you like, you fucking own me, alright ? I admit it – I just – I can't – ”

“No” Loki said.

Suddenly, his voice was not victorious or wicked anymore. He sounded strangely bitter. Almost weary.

“Stop lying this instant.”

“I am not – ”

“Maybe not at the moment” Loki said. “But you will forget as always, Barton. You will return, yes ; but reluctant and stubborn. Until I tame you again.”

“No sir” the archer gasped. “Not this time. You broke me, you broke me for good. I am your slave.” He shivered. “I am your slave. Please, sir.”

Those degrading, despicable words only brought him further down. He was out of himself. He couldn't stop wanting more. He felt Loki shiver inside him – a powerful, full-body shiver. Then the demi-god began thrusting again, slow, deep thrusts, gripped Clint's hair, jerked his head back to murmur in his ear, in a strange tone, both delighted and wishful : “My slave.”

Clint came with a strangled breath, pleasure crashing through him, came so impossibly hard that he would have blacked out if not for Loki's order. As it was, he struggled to stay conscious, barely making it through the powerful wave of his filthy bliss. It had never been so strong before. He didn't even know it was possible to feel so much pleasure. When Loki smirked and kept using his limp body, the archer nearly came again. It lasted for another minute or so, then Loki stilled and groaned, a deep-throat growl as he spilled inside Clint. The archer was panting, face-down against the bed, his wrists painful in the bonds. Complete submission. Ground fucking zero. He had never made it so thoroughly and absolutely before – apparently, the harder it was to get there, the more complete and overwhelming it was.

Loki owned him, and not only because he had just fucked him into the mattress after nearly eight hours of torture. Clint could feel him looming over him, both in body and soul. At this instant, the demi-god possessed him entirely, even more thorougly than he would have possessed a pet or an object, since the archer embraced it. The feeling of his own submission pulsed in his veins and it was nothing but bliss, to feel so owned, so tamed.

The demi-god stayed there for a minute, catching his breath, then pulled out and gripped Clint's wrists. The archer thought hazily that he would rather not be untied, but he was so out of himself that he couldn't have spoken to save his life. Loki just cut the rope holding them together, though, and left the bonds to dig into his skin. Clint let out a soft sigh and closed his eyes.

Loki's arms came over him, wrapped around him, held him tight against a hot, sweaty chest. Clint's world spun for a second and next thing he knew, he was lying down with the covers over him. Loki was with him in the bed, lying on the side, his eyes wide as he watched him, his lips parted, his own chest heaving.

Clint stared back for a second. He hadn't thought he could want while being in this unmoving, serene state, but there was still something he craved for. He hesitantly inched forward, then stopped himself with anxiety.

Loki's pupils blown. He parted his lips wider, licked them ; Clint just stared back, breathless, expectant. The demi-god waited for a split second, then decided himself – wrapped a hand behind the archer's neck and pulled him close to crush their mouths together.

Clint moaned against his lips and felt like he was exploding with ecstasy – like someone was setting off fireworks in his head. He melted with heat and a pleasure that had nothing to do with sex this time. He kissed back, as possessive and eager as Loki, hungry for him, claiming his own submission – if that made any sense. They were kissing, kissing each other, and it was infinitely more intimate than anything they had just done.

And it felt just like that time.

Clint had repressed the memory. Tried to bury it down like his most shameful secret. But after that clusterfuck with Doom's serum – after they had fucked it out of the other's system, they were waiting on the roof for a Quinjet to come and get them. And they had kissed again, almost by mistake. As if out of habit, as if it was normal, automatic, like magnets drawn together.

And now, it all made sense.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

When Clint opened his eyes, he was in his bed.

 

He stared at the ceiling for a stunned second, then cursed and sat up – which made him curse some more. His whole body ached, and he would not have been able to sit if not for the softness of the mattress. He moaned in pain and gave himself a minute to breathe, but his body was not really not his main problem right now. What the hell was he doing in his room ?

Had Loki carried him there ?

Last night came back at him in flashes and briefly took his breath away. It had lasted for hours. Hours. And he had never been put through so much pain and humiliation before – although he had been no stranger to torture, long before he had started to like it...

A muscle twitched in his face and he shook his head briskly, as thought trying to chase a bug or catch a thought. No. He was not liking it. And this wasn't his usual denial – on the contrary, more like an epiphany. When Loki had tied him like a dog at the foot of his bed, he had felt nothing but hatred. When he had forced him to sit on that perverted chair, it had been painful and humiliating. When he had beaten him – with a fucking cane, Clint would not be able to sit for days – the pain had been unbearable. But only then had he snapped and broken. Only then had he...

...accepted it.

The realization was appalling.

Loki was being more and more ruthless and – not because he was blood-thirsty, but because Clint was. Like a virus evolving to resist antibodies, the archer required more and more pain, more and more humiliation, to access the ground zero. He was resisting it, because he was refusing it with all his soul, stubbornly denying the fact that he needed to submit – needed it physically and psychically.

Shit, it had taken death threats from Loki to get him over the edge.

He had blamed the demi-god until then. Insisted that this was his fault, that he was the perverted, wicked one. But, truth be told ? Clint had come to him in the first place. He had initiated it, and he was the one who kept demanding more, even though he remained in stubborn denial about it for increasingly long lengths of time.And this escalation of violence had to stop. If he kept going on like this, the demi-god would actually have to kill him if he wanted to bring... him... to...

Whoa.

 

Whoa.

 

Exactly how had Clint not realized that before ? Loki had never tortured him for the sake of it. Not once – he was always trying to get him into the peaceful state of mind he needed. It was a bit hazy, but the archer still remembered him muttering, “Finally” every time he went boneless, panting with shame and sweet, blissful acceptance.

God, this made no sense. This made no sense at all. What was Loki getting out of this ? He obviously enjoyed torturing Clint, but just as obviously, their sessions weren't all about his pleasure. Why not ? Why was he doing this ?

The archer had no answer. But the other issue, he could resolve by himself.

Yes. He knew what he had to do.

He tossed the covers away and got on his feet. He was in pain, but Loki had kept him functional, as promised. And there was another promise the archer needed delivered.

 

*

 

“Barton ?”

“Hi, big guy” Clint said, a bit breathless. “Can I come in ?”

Thor nodded and moved aside. “Certainly.”

He gestured to the couch. “Please, sit.”

Clint swallowed, but he could not afford to be rude. He complied, mentally bracing himself. Oh shiiiit, shit, fuck, that hurt.

He did not bat an eyelid, though. He could take a lot more pain than that...

...provided that Loki was not the one delivering it.

Thor noticed nothing, sitting on the chair facing him with a weary smile.

“Everything alright ?” Clint frowned.

The thunderer nodded. “Yes. Fury was quite demanding yesterday, and I do admit reinstating the long-lost relationship between Midgard and Asgard is no easy task.”

“That why Loki went with you ?”

“Yes.” Thor rubbed a hand on his face, but did not comment further. Clint sensed a story here – and a unpleasant one. The demi-god dropped his hand and sighed. “What can I do for you, my friend ?”

At this very second, Loki walked into the room.

When he saw Clint talking with Thor, he stopped dead and his eyes widened. He did not look frightened, though – more like thunderstruck. Clint held his gaze with a strange mix of defiance and triumph, as though he had jumped in a lion's den and waited for the beast to come at him.

Thor looked between them and apparently drew dreadful conclusions from their shared silence.

“Barton” he said in a low voice.

Clint did not move.

“Please, my friend. Loki's situation is extremely precarious” Thor said. “Whatever he did, I am certain we can talk it out.”

Clint had almost forgotten he was even here, but the raw worry in his voice made him snap out of it for a second. Thor's blue eyes were so anxious it made his heart clench.

He had not thought about it, but as someone who deeply loved his lost brother, Thor was in a hell of a shitty and stressful situation. Loki might be Tony's host for now, but SHIELD was not the only player in this game. If he lost Fury's protection, there would be not much hope left for him, and Thor's hands would be bound. As it was, the demi-god could only wish Loki would behave, and God knew that was a bit of a long shot, which explained his great anxiety right now.

“Hey no” Clint said. “Don't worry. That's exactly why I'm here – to talk. I'm not gonna report to Fury.”

Thor relaxed ever so slightly. “If you told me what he did or said...”

“I'd rather have it stay between us” Clint said, glancing quickly at Loki. “But I won't report against him whatever happens – you have my word. Okay ?”

The thunderer nodded with obvious relief. “Very well. Thank you, my friend.”

“Don't mention it.”

Clint stared at Loki again, and only after an awkward second did Thor realize he had to leave the room. He got up, looked like he was about to say something, then decided against it. He brushed Loki's shoulder on his way out.

The demi-god just stood there, staring at Clint.

“Why are you here so soon ?” he murmured eventually.

Anger flared in the archer's chest. “Okay, what the hell ?” he said in a low voice. “Did yesterday happen, or was it just a really fucked-up dream ?”

Loki just stared at him some more.

Suddenly, he broke eye contact and went to sit on the chair Thor had just left. He crossed his legs, all uncertainty gone from his cold gaze.

“You were out of your mind with endorphins, Barton. I did not take your words for granted.”

Clint gritted his teeth. Loki was a sadistic son of a bitch – who respected his victims' mental boundaries. Why wasn't anything simple ?

Ah, to hell with it. It wasn't about Loki, anyway, but about what he needed from him. The archer might be stubborn, he might prize his dignity, but he was not stupid. He had taken a big step the day before, and however crazy it might look to a third party, he knew it was in the right direction. He could just feel it. That was the reason he was an agent of SHIELD – and an Avenger. He adapted. Aliens ? Sure. Billionaire sugar daddy ? Awesome. Superheroes ? Count him in.

 

Submission ? As in complete, willing, permanent submission ?

 

Hell. If that was what it took – and it was, he just knew it was.

Flexibility, Clint. Flexibility's the key, whatever your position. That was what Barney used to say all the time, with a huge guffaw so people would think it was a sex joke. But Clint knew better. This was the only clever thing his brother had ever said.

 

He cleared his throat. “Yeah, well, no. I meant it. And I still do.”

Loki raised a thin eyebrow.

“You hate me” he said calmly, as though he would have stated the weather.

“Yeah” Clint said, rubbing his hands. “Doesn't change the fact that I need you.”

He glanced at him. “I can't live without you. Literally. So I might as well admit it right now, save us some time.” He quirked a smile at himself and looked away.

Loki stayed speechless for a long minute.

“But do you trust me ?” he asked for the second time since they had met.

Clint looked him square in the eye, irritated. “What ? Oh, come on – I'm telling you I want to be your slave for the rest of my goddamn life. And you want to know if I trust you ?What do you think ?”

Loki said nothing, but he went very pale and his eyes very dark.

Clint swallowed.

“Look” he said, suddenly very uncomfortable. “I've, uh, I've only made assumptions so far. I assumed you would want this.”

“I do” Loki said calmly.

Those two words made heat flare bright in Clint's chest. He stared at Loki, suddenly a bit breathless.

The demi-god still looked very guarded. “I am not playing, Barton. You must understand the meaning of that word.”

His licked his lips and articulated, “Slave.”

Clint shivered.

“No will of your own” Loki said. “No things of your own. Everything you have will belong to me.”

Clint's throat went dry.

“Forbidden to take your own decisions” Loki insisted. “Forbidden to choose your food, your clothes, your entertainment.”

He paused.

“And no going back, of course. The rest of your life – it is not just a figure of speech.”

The archer felt his pupils blow away to hell. Yeah, that was what he talked about. Absolute submission. Of course no one else than the crazy mass-murderer could give him that.

“Is this what you want ?” Loki said under his breath.

It's what I need, Clint almost corrected. But although true, it was not completely true.

He swallowed. “Only if you want me.”

They stayed there, staring at each other in mutual fascination. None of them realized they were imperceptibly leaning forward in their seats.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“A week to think, Barton.”

Clint notched an arrow and exhaled deeply.

“If you still want it in seven days, come back to see me.”

He opened his fingers. Bullseye – but it only frustrated him more. His current state forbade him to find pleasure in shooting, and it was driving him crazy, like a prize behind unbreakable glass. God, he used to need nothing and nobody. He was always the one in the shadows, the one at the back, the lonely hawk up in his nest. I see better from a distance. Live better from a distance, too. Everything was easier from afar.

Natasha was the first real friend he had had in his life, and even with her, things were not this simple ; they were both too secretive and lonely (fuck you, Sitwell) to confide in each other. They just relied on each other, and even that was quite big of a step. The Avengers were a thing too ; Clint enjoyed Tony's snark, had a great admiration for Steve, and the same strange fondness for both Bruce and the Hulk. But always – from a distance.

Maybe this was his punishment.

He took a deep breath. He wasn't sure Loki understood just how feverish and incoherent a week on his own would leave him. Or perhaps it was a ruse, so Clint would grow so insane with need that he would throw away his freedom without a second thought.

Except for the fact that he had reached this conclusion before losing it.

He forced himself to sleep, knocked himself out with pills, tried to wear off his agitation in every imaginable way. He had never shot so many arrows, never did so many laps in the pool, never spent so much time in the gym. At least he managed to sleep for a few hours every night. But it had been six fucking days and he was on the verge of unraveling. Fuck, he really had it bad. He was certain there were many, many “subs” – was that the official term ? – out there that only needed their fix once in a month. Or every few months. But him – he needed it almost daily, craved it with unprecedented eagerness.

He tried not to jerk off – it only relieved his need for a while, then increased it tenfold. God, he hated this, hated that he was so dependent on someone else. People. People were just too unreliable. Too changeable, too unpredictable. To say nothing of Loki. God of Chaos. How could Clint let him be his foundation stone ?

Didn't matter. Didn't matter. He just knew he needed it. It was even more obvious now. Maybe it was a foolish thing, but he just couldn't stay like this. He wanted to be settled inside himself again. He wanted to feel solid again, and if the only way to find his balance was to lean on someone else, then so be it.

He made it until the end of the sixth day ; at midnight, he threw his bow on the floor and ran out of the room, discarding his quiver on the way.

 

*

 

“Yes” he panted before Loki could even speak. “Still a yes.”

The demi-god studied him for a second, then stepped aside. “Come in.”

Clint did, and the mere fact that he actually appreciated finding himself in the gloomy living-room spoke volumes about his current state. Thor was nowhere to be seen, and the archer did not even ask himself where he was.

“What happens now ?” he mumbled. “Do we shake hands ? Do I sign something ? Do you still want it ?”

“Calm down” Loki said.

The archer took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Loki cupped his face, and he leaned into it, desperate for more.

“Ideally” the demi-god murmured, “I would take you away for your breaking in. We would spend months together, until you were knocked into shape. I would make you forget even your own name. Satisfying me would be the only thing left in your mind.”

Clint shivered violently – and nearly came. Just like that. That was ridiculous. But the idea of Loki spending months doing just – God, he was in a bad state, a really bad state, he needed to – to – he didn't even know anymore, he couldn't even think...

“But given the circumstances, I cannot afford to claim you publicly” Loki said. “I will mark you, though. Your life as a free man will be nothing more than a façade afterwards.”

He grinned. “Thankfully, you are used to work undercover.”

“Yes” Clint breathed.

Loki brutally released him. “Kneel.”

The archer hurriedly sank to his knees, staring at Loki's boots planted before him.

“I am taking you, Barton” he said, and his voice sounded like it was falling down from the skies. “You no longer belong to yourself. You are mine to hurt, to maim, to kill. You are my property. Do you understand ?”

“Yes” Clint stammered.

He was painfully hard, but he could barely feel it over the rush in his ears.

“Up” Loki said. “Take your clothes off.”

Clint was naked in a matter of seconds. He expected Loki to tie him down or put him on a leash again, but the demi-god only motioned him to follow.

The archer walked through the dark rooms, fidgeting and flinching with nervousness. He expected ropes, or a whip, or that fucked-up chair again. But when Loki guided him inside his bedroom, there was none of it.

Instead was a great wooden cross with manacles for his wrists and ankles.

Without a word, Loki pressed Clint's naked body against it and fastened the restraints around his limbs, tightening them until the archer was spread-eagled, unable to move. He was turning his back to Loki, and the polished wood reverberated his ragged breaths.

The demi-god grabbed his hair and made him turn his head. The archer looked at what he was holding in his right hand – and his stomach sank.

It was a branding iron.

It was not actually branding yet, but its purpose was clear. It was long and dark, like the ones used to mark cattle. A strange symbol was embedded in the rim.

“This is my personal rune” Loki said.

Clint did not react ; he could not take his eyes off the iron. He didn't know if he was petrified with constricting terror or something else entirely.

“Barton” Loki said calmly.

The archer licked his lips. “Yes” he said, automatically.

Loki was going to mark him. The greatest part of him wanted to break free from the leather straps and run the fuck out. But the smallest part, the more focused core of his soul, was going insane with desire. Mark him. He would actually belong to someone else. The scar would be here to testify. Loki's name embedded in his flesh. God, how he wanted it. Wanted to be a slave. Wanted to be taken. It was lucky he was so completely out of his mind with fever – he didn't know if he would have been able to look forward to that in any other circumstances.

...Had Loki made him wait seven days on purpose ?

He swallowed. It didn't matter. He looked away and pressed his forehead against the wood, taking a deep breath.

Satisfied, Loki let go of his hair and began muttering strange words under his breath. Clint heard the hiss of metal turning from black to grey, then blue, then red, then white. He held his breath and braced in his manacles.

Loki came close, and Clint felt the mad heat of the branding iron ghosting over his skin, already making it crawl in horror.

“Do you want to be gagged ?” the demi-god said softly.

Clint thought about it for a second. He was pretty sure he would manage not to bite his tongue off. As for the rest, it wouldn't make much difference.

“Whatever you want” he mumbled.

Loki paused for a moment ; then Clint heard him smirk. “I do love hearing you scream.”

The archer shivered and began breathing faster. God, Loki was going to brand him. Like a cow. Without thinking, he struggled in his bonds, please don't, but he was also struggling against himself, please do ! The internal battle was exhausting for his already overwhelmed mind. One way or the other, he wanted it to end.

Loki took a step back. “No muzzle, then” he said lightly. “Prepare yourself, Barton.”

Clint almost laughed – as though it was possible to be ready for this. But in a strange way, he wondered if this wasn't Loki's way of leaving him a last chance to renounce, despite everything he had already said.

He braced himself, tugged at the manacles, gritted his teeth in apprehension. His body was glistening with sweat, whether from terror or from the radiating heat of the iron, he did not know.

“This is going to hurt” the demi-god said with cruel delight.

And he pressed the branding rim into the small of Clint's back, where he knew he was the most sensitive.

The archer threw his head back and screamed, screamed, screamed himself hoarse and screamed some more, unable to think, lost in white-hot suffering, struggling like mad against his restraints, but they were unyielding, he was pinned there, quartered under Loki's branding iron, and nothing else existed except for this spot of insane pain, as though his soul was sucked inside the scalding rim, and he could feel his flesh burning to cinders, he could feel every inch of the metal rim engraving itself in his skin, and he was screaming, maybe sobbing and begging for it to stop but it lasted, Loki was twisting it and pressing it further in his flesh and Clint writhed again and shouted, screamed, struggled – and blacked out.

 

*

 

His own suffering woke him up only moments later – when the branding iron was finally removed. He was hanging limp on the cross, sobbing with pain, his face streaked with tears and sweat, his shoulders straining, his back forever disfigured by the shameful mark.

The manacles unclasped themselves and Loki grabbed him under his shoulders to let him sink to his knees. Clint felt in a haze his own hands clasping themselves behind his back, and slumped a little when a bond secured them together. He was still gasping with pain like a fish out of water.

“You did good” the demi-god murmured, crouching down with him.

Clint was too overwhelmed to answer, but thankfully, Loki didn't hold it against him. He was rubbing circles into the archer's sweaty, strained shoulders. Clint was shivering uncontrollably with shock. The pain throbbing in the small of his back made him nauseous. He felt like he was about to scream or vomit or both. The demi-god's hand slid down his wiry muscles to brush against the burn, and he flinched violently.

Loki grinned, and brought his hand back to frame Clint's face and make him look up.

“You are mine” he breathed.

Clint just stared at him in fascination through his haze of agony. So far, he hadn't understood a thing as to Loki's motives. But his dilated pupils and his wicked glee finally made him realize something. The demi-god wanted him, he really did. As to why, he still had no idea ; but there was no doubt as to the sincerity of his desire ; he wouldn't have gone through all this trouble otherwise. He had marked Clint permanently, with his personal symbol, which was an immense risk in his situation – the archer could have gone right to Fury and have Loki in shackles by the end of the day.

But he wouldn't, of course. Because that mark was also the undeniable evidence that Loki possessed him – and that thought made the pain a hundred times worthwhile. This was exactly like when Loki had fucked him, or whipped him. The suffering was real, and Clint's screams were not fake ; but the harsher the pain, the clearer his consciousness of being owned. And to him, that particular awareness was better than any orgasm in the world.

He vaguely realized that he was thinking and reasoning normally again, but before he could even relish it, he had fallen past this state of mind and into his subterranean lake of serenity. Unmoving waters. The branding had brought him down in record time ; it would have almost been worth doing it again. Almost.

“Thank you, sir” he panted, bowing his head, his voice hoarse and cracked from screaming.

Loki's pupils devoured his irises ; the next second, he forced his head up and kissed him harshly. Clint shivered and let himself be claimed – the demi-god would not allow him to kiss back, this time ; he was invading his mouth, pushing and pressing eagerly, drawing soft moans out of the trembling archer between his pants of pain. Eventually, Loki allowed him to breathe and Clint took a gasping, shaky breath, unable to be ashamed of the trail of saliva that connected their lips for a few more seconds.

“Excellent” the demi-god murmured.

Clint's entire being lit up with the praise. He wanted to please him, so badly. This was his only goal in life – to be good for Loki. The demi-god looked down at him, strangely thoughtful, his breathing deep, as though his own adrenaline rush was dying off, letting him realize the enormity of what they had just done.

Then his finger brushed Clint's throbbing cock, and the archer hips jerked up despite his state of exhaustion and agony.

“Just what I thought” Loki smirked. “You are not coming on the night of your branding, Barton.”

He produced a leather strap and fastened it tightly around Clint's cock and balls. The archer gasped again then went limp against him, panting and squirming with torment, his body shuddering violently.

“There” Loki said in his soft, elegant voice. “You can faint now.”

“Thank you, sir” Clint repeated – and passed out.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

“Lie down on your stomach.”

Clint obeyed, crossing his arms under his head and letting out a slight sigh – Loki's bed was really soft under his nude body. He was stark naked, but it had never embarrassed him much before, and he felt completely at ease now. After all, Loki owned him.

This was such a strange thought.

Waking up the very next morning, he had been more preoccupied with the excruciating pain in the small of his back than with the consciousness of his eternal submission. But as days went by and the burn healed, he found himself thinking more and more about it. Especially since Thor, who had been traveling back and forth between New Mexico and Stark Tower, was allowed to leave for good, since Loki had behaved for months. He had instantly run to his beloved Jane Foster, and Clint and Loki suddenly had all the time they wanted for themselves.

Besides, Clint had asked Tony Stark and discovered that there were in fact no cameras in the bedrooms – are you crazy, Barton ? I could get sued for that ! – only in the common spaces, which made everything a lot less stressful.

Everything was so easy it was a little unsettling.

What disturbed the archer wasn't the fact that he had chosen to become Loki's slave. No – it was precisely the fact that it didn't disturb him. This had been a calm, solid week, without any nervousness or confusion. He was slowly coming back up to the surface of his pool of serenity as usual, every day a bit closer from the agitation and fever that waited for him outside this sacred bubble, but the pain in his back was enough to keep him down there for a while longer. And every time Clint dwelt upon his new-found state, he kept being worryingly okay about it.

He was a slave, but a willing slave, and maybe that was what made it all different. In doubt, he ended up shrugging it away and moving on. Everything was going on as before anyway. Loki had not demanded of him to move into his floor or something, since they must keep it all a secret. In the end, it was almost as though nothing had changed ; but they knew it had, and that was enough for them.

Loki's hand pressed against the sensitive brand and Clint startled, brought back to the present. The demi-god grinned.

“Hurts ?”

“Yeah” Clint mumbled.

Loki's hands massaged his back in circles around the rune. “It looks good on you.”

“Thanks.”

The demi-god shifted back and said, “Up.”

Clint sat up. Loki smiled at him. “Undress me.”

The archer swallowed, but did not make any comments and complied. Loki was not wearing his armor, thank God. Clint still had a hard time unlacing his tunic. He knew Loki could have just willed it away, which made the task all the more frustrating, but the demi-god's pale, chiseled chest was enough of a reward.

Wait – when the hell had Clint started actually getting aroused by the male body ? Or was it just Loki ?

The demi-god noticed his interest and wrapped a hand behind his neck to press the archer's face into his chest. Clint breathed in his strange, heady scent, not daring to press his lips to the smooth skin.

“You are not done” Loki reminded him.

Clint swallowed. “Yessir.”

He unlaced Loki's leather pants and pulled then down. Loki waited until he had peeled them off entirely ; Clint had naturally come to kneel at his feet to get them off. The demi-god sat on the bed.

“You can stay there” he grinned, and spread his legs.

Clint licked his lips reflexively. Loki grabbed the back of his neck and guided him between his thighs, but as the archer opened his mouth to swallow his cock, he was stopped by a brutal tug of his hair.

“No” Loki said. “Further down.”

Clint flushed furiously and stilled. The demi-god grinned.

“What ? Is that beneath you, Barton ?”

The archer clenched his jaw, but answered nothing. Loki smirked and tightened his grip on his hair.

“Get to work.”

Clint sucked in a breath, then closed his eyes and pressed his mouth against Loki's rim.

Thank God it was clean – but still, he had never done anything more degrading in his life. He licked it experimentally and felt Loki's hand tighten in his hair. He followed the circle of muscle with his tongue, feeling completely awkward and burning with shame.

“Brace on my hips” Loki ordered.

Clint would have rather have his wrists tied in his back as usual, so he could at least pretend that he was forced to service the demi-god in this shameful way. But of course, Loki knew exactly how to drive him mad. The archer stiffened in anger, but said nothing and slipped his hands on each side of Loki's thighs to brace on him as ordered, then pressed his face into his ass and licked, deeply, pushing his tongue into the rim.

Loki arched with a strangled pant and almost tore off Clint's scalp ; the next second, he pressed him even more thoroughly inside, and he obviously didn't give a shit whether the archer could breathe or not. Clint lost himself in what he was doing – it was easier than thinking about it, really – and licked all the more, tracing the rim in quick circles, pressing inside and sucking, licking, making him wet. Loki's ragged pants were going straight to his cock – he had never heard him so disheveled. But of course, part of his arousal derived from Clint's humiliation. And sadly, Clint himself was painfully, throbbingly erect.

He braced on the demi-god's hips all the more to mold his mouth against his ass, eating him out, trying to make him moan, trying to hear his voice instead of just his panting breaths. Loki's thighs were clenching and unclenching, and he could feel the powerful muscles fluttering around his head, covering his ears at times when the demi-god's legs closed in a spasm, encasing him in a world of muffled, obscene sounds. Loki was everywhere, around him, and in his mouth, and at the back of his neck where his hand pressed hard, still unyielding, and Clint was the one who was moaning now, muffled sounds in Loki's ass as he kept rimming him.

Then suddenly the thighs opened and the hand jerked him back. Clint actually whimpered, his fingers clenching around Loki's hips. The demi-god chuckled, although it sounded a bit breathless.

“Enjoying it after all ?”

Clint flushed, but he was well on his way to subspace already. “Yes, sir.”

“I had to ask you twice, though.”

Loki's voice was suddenly ominous. The archer licked his lips nervously. “Yes, sir.”

The demi-god gestured in the air, and the long, flexible switch he had used that first time appeared in his free hand. He brushed Clint's cheek with the lash, and the archer felt his stomach churn in apprehension. But the feeling got ten times worse with Loki's next words.

“On the bed, Barton. Hold yourself open.”

The archer's breath caught. “I – ”

“What ?” the demi-god said calmly.

Clint bit his tongue, the leather cool and smooth against his cheekbone. Pleading would only make things worse. He screwed his eyes shut, then bowed his head. “Nothing” he said through gritted teeth.

“Well then.”

Clint got up reluctantly, then climbed on the bed and knelt, face-down in the covers. He took a shaky breath, then reached behind him and held his ass cheeks apart. He hated this – hated this with a passion, that made him shake and fume with wrath. But this was exactly the point of it all. He needed to be evened.

This was his breaking in.

The switch cracked in the air, then hit him right on his rim and Clint muffled his yell in the mattress. Jesus, he had forgotten just how good Loki was with a whip – he had not even brushed his hands or ass. When he hit again, it was just as precise, and Clint choked with pain and humiliation, exposed and violated in his most intimate place, the sensitive skin of his hole burning and already swelling – and what kind of sick bastard would whip him here ?

Then the lash slapped on his balls and Clint found himself unable to think anymore – he just shouted himself hoarse in the mattress, his mind short-circuiting with pain for a second. Loki hit him again and the archer thought he was going to throw up, the screams coming choked and halting out of his mouth ; the fifth blow landed on his hole again and his whole body convulsed. Loki hit again and again, making him writhe and squirm, the sheet rumpling under his sweating body, until he had Clint begging for mercy through ragged sobs.

He put down the whip and rubbed his thumb in his raw cleft. The archer buckled violently and gritted his teeth.

“Sensitive ?” the demi-god asked in a mocking voice.

Clint started shuddering uncontrollably with aftershock and fury. Loki grabbed his wrists, then twisted them in his back so they would cross just over his brand. He tied them solidly, then let his hands trail on Clint's hips.

The archer froze. Hell no. Now way he was getting fucked after this.

Loki chuckled, as though he had guessed his thoughts. “Will you not spread your legs ?”

Before Clint could answer, the head of Loki's cock pressed against his abused hole. “Even better” the demi-god breathed with a smirk, then pushed into him. Clint panted and struggled against his bonds, clenching with pain.

“Ah” Loki hissed, “yes. Fight it. Make me force it into you, Barton.”

Clint's cock throbbed violently under him and he could not keep Loki from sliding in, breaching him, and the feeling of his cock pushing into his body was just brain-melting even though it hurt like a bitch he was going down rapidly he was overwhelmed it was so good he could not even – think, he had to think, he should – Loki snapped his hips and Clint moaned loudly, then even louder when the demi-god leaned forward to grab his cock.

“Yes” he gasped. “Please, sir !”

Loki pounded into him mercilessly, as though it was just another punishment, but he was stroking Clint in tune with his thrusts and he was over him, crushing him into the mattress, taking him, and it was so fucking good, felt so fucking right, his hand heavy on his hip, pinning him down, and Clint was so ecstatic to be used, to serve him, to please him, that he did not even whimper when Loki squeezed him mercilessly just as he was about to come.

“Keep count” he said in an amused voice.

“One” Clint answered hazily.

Loki was rolling his hips again in deep, languid thrusts, and Clint writhed in pleasure under him, Loki's other hand was holding him down and the bonds were cutting in his wrists and the brand was burning him and it was so perfect –

“Two” he gasped, convulsing when Loki cut him off once more.

Loki chuckled, then mercilessly started building up Clint's orgasm again, hitting his prostate with every thrust now – each time it felt as though stars were exploding under Clint's eyelids, then as though the explosion reverted back, as though it was on the verge of happening, each time a bit closer, closer, closer, closer –

“Aah – three !” Clint cried out. “Fuck !”

Loki's hand was like a fucking vice around his cock ; and the archer could feel his balls tighten in his own efforts to come, his dick throbbing and leaking pre-come.

“Please” he panted.

He knew Loki was grinning, but the demi-god did not answer and started thrusting again, damn him, and Clint was so close he could have cried, it was right there, perfection in body and mind, perfect bliss, ground zero in flesh and soul, just below his reach and he just had to –

– he arched and yelped and sobbed, “Four !” in the covers. “God... !”

“Maybe I should stop” Loki said with cruel delight. “Maybe this hurts too much. After all, you are just raw from your whipping.”

He had stilled, but Clint could feel his cock throbbing up his ass, impossibly hard.

“I don't care” he panted.

He didn't know much about Loki, but he had gathered by now that the demi-god loved it when he talked, even when it was just drugged ramblings. After all, Loki was the Silvertongue, words were his territory. Clint was a silent, sullen man, but when he was this close to bliss, his barriers broke.

“I don't care, sir, you can beat me, you can – torture me, you can do anything you want, I'm on my knees for you, I live to serve you, sir, I want you – I want you to be pleased, sir.”

Loki chuckled.

“You are going to be so ashamed you said that.”

Clint quirked a smile of his own, panting against the mattress, his tied wrists twisting against the brand in the small of his back. “True” he said breathlessly. “Doesn't matter, sir.”

“Do you think one day you will begin with saying such things ?” Loki asked, kneading Clint's hip pensively.

“Live and learn, sir” the archer breathed.

Loki smirked, then began fucking him again, hard and fast and there were stars trembling at the edge of Clint's vision again, and the demi-god snapped his hips, slid all the way home and Clint went rigid with a shout, that turned into a halting groan of abandon when Loki kept fucking him right through his orgasm, and followed him over the edge in a burst of raw pleasure.

 

*

 

It was not always about sex.

Sure, they fucked a lot. Clint had honestly never had such an active sex life as a free man – hello, godly stamina. Not that he minded really ; Loki was disturbingly good at tormenting him into orgasm. It wasn't all pink unicorns puking rainbows, though. Just because Clint had recognized his need to be an actual slave didn't mean he was suddenly completely okay with Loki using him like a cheap whore.

Except when he was.

God, it was complicated.

The best part was that he felt completely normal again. Stabilized, as though his main organs had been finally reconnected after months of internal bleeding. The simple fact that he was Loki's slave kept him in a permanent mental state of submission. Even when he rebelled, when he cursed inwardly or struggled against the demi-god's grip, he was still a slave and nothing would change that. Nothing would erase the brand in his back. And that certainty anchored him, for good. He could have gone for months without a fix now.

The demi-god had instructed him to be there whenever possible, as to make up for the Asgardian tradition that demanded of a slave always to shadow his master. Clint had always been on the lonely side, even after the Avengers Initiative, and nobody was surprised to hear him announce that he was going back to his room early in the evenings.

He really was a slave undercover, like Loki had put it. He tried not to neglect his friends ; he did care for them ; but he would always crave, deep inside, the coolness of Loki's dark room.

And really, it was not always about sex. There had been that one time when they had not shed a single piece of clothing. Clint had just sunk to his knees next to Loki's chair and stayed there, his head bowed, his hands crossed behind his back, while the demi-god read quietly, without paying much attention to him, but aware of his presence, of his mute submission. Things were as they should be then, each of them in their place, and Clint had never slid down into subspace more serenely and naturally.

Loki had kissed him again, pulled him up on his feet and pressed his lips against his, Clint's hands still clasped behind his back, but his head tilting to fit his mouth better on Loki's.

 

The kisses were always what disturbed him more afterwards, in his waking moments alone, as he lay on his back in his obscure room, pressing his arm to his forehead and staring blindly at the ceiling. Because he still felt shame and incomprehension at himself sometimes. What they had was working, but other people did not need this. Clint was complete, but only because Loki completed him.

And when they kissed, there was too much fondness and care from the demi-god's part for Clint not to stay awake at night. It provoked too much interrogations and doubts.

 

It was easier to take a beating.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Neither Clint nor Loki saw it coming.

 

“Breathe, Barton.”

Clint obeyed, taking in a deep breath, his eyelids fluttering shut under Loki's tip-toeing fingertips. He was kneeling with his shirt off, but his black jeans still on, and his hands tied in his back again - in what had become his favorite position, although he preferred not to dwell on it.

This was another of these peaceful, slow sessions. The archer appreciated it, not particularly because there was no pain, but because he was sliding down to ground zero very fast and stayed basking there for hours while Loki played with him, manipulated him, made him move or speak at leisure.

Subspace came in different colors, he'd noticed, although the principle stayed the same. When he was forced down through torture, it happened in a snap, like an orgasm, and it was overwhelming – his mind going blissfully blank, his body limp like a ragdoll. This slower version allowed him to keep thinking, although the train of his thoughts was very languid, like a river of ice. It also meant he was acutely conscious of his own vulnerability – in the violent version, he was too burst out with endorphins to care. Here, he felt like a porcelain doll.

But he did trust Loki. Even though it hurt to admit, the demi-god had been flawless at this from the beginning.

“Breathe” Loki repeated, and trailed his hands on Clint's sides to feel his ribcage expanding.

Clint inhaled, more and more, heady with oxygen overload, and gasped when Loki's brushing hand stopped to suddenly twist his nipple. The sudden pang of pain was clear and cold ; immediately after, his flesh was soothed by these feather-like touches again.

Clint licked his suddenly dry lips. He was still breathing in and out, but something was wrong.

The coldness of the pinching wasn't fading. It was slicing through his cocoon of warmth like a sharp blade. Clint struggled to fall back into equilibrium. This was nothing. Just a roadbump. Soon it would be smooth and quiet again, soon the ripple would die at the surface.

What did the Tesseract show you, agent Barton ?

Clint licked his lips again, panted. Loki's fingers stilled over his heart whose rhythm was rapidly increasing.

“Barton ?”

“It's fine” he uttered.

He remember running to his bathroom and puking his guts out the last time he'd made that connection. But it wasn't the same. It really wasn't. He would be fine. He just had to calm down.

Have you ever had someone take your brain and play ? Take you out, and stuff something else in ?”

“It's fine” he repeated in a gasp.

You know what it's like to be unmade ?

“No” he mumbled “No, it's not – it's not the same – ”

“Barton” Loki in a low voice. “Look at me.”

Clint did.

Loki.

He killed eighty people in two days.

I gotta flush him out. How did you get him out ?

He shook his head in a quick jerk. “No, I don't need – ”

What about Loki ? Sitwell asked directly in his ear, as though he'd been right there taking notes. Does his presence disturb you ?

“Shut the fuck up – ”

“Barton" Loki repeated, "snap out of it !”

You nearly broke my desk in half and you expect me to believe nothing's wrong ?

“Nothing's wrong, nothing's wrong” he panted. “It's not the same, I'm not – I'm not compromised, I know what I'm doing – ”

When was the last time you trusted someone ?

Clint stopped breathing, his eyes wide and blind.

“Barton !”

Do you trust me, Barton ?

 

“BARTON !”

I told you I wanted to be your slave for the rest of my life. What do you think ?

 

No” he panted in a strangled voice, his tone more and more frantic, “no – I'm not a traitor, I'm not his, it's just a game, it's just a lie, I flushed him out, I flushed him out, I did – I did, I did, I did, please – ”

Loki slapped him across the face and he felt like he was breaking inside, like everything he had rebuilt ever since the serum was shattering and crumbling in painful shards. He blinked, panting, shuddering, and finally zeroed on Loki's face, Loki's blue eyes, wide and somehow terrible. He realized what he had just said and panic crashed through him, a screaming feeling of complete frenzy, freezing his gut and taking his breath away.

“I'm sorry” he stammered in terror. “I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean it, I'm sorry, I'm sorry !”

“Barton – ”

“I can still – I can still be good, it was a mistake, just a mistake, please, let me – ”

Tears were running down his face and he was struggling against his bonds. “ – let me show you...”

“No, Barton – ” Loki said softly, and opened his mouth to go on – but Clint only heard that first word and completely broke down.

“Please, sir, don't leave me – don't leave me !” he begged desperately. “Please, I didn't mean it, I'm yours, I am, please don't give up on me, I can still serve you, I will do anything – ”

Barton !” Loki snapped.

Clint shut up, shuddering with all his body, tears falling down in an endless stream. His mind was no longer a lake of quietness, but a screaming pit of despair, just as overwhelming, as absolute, and the only feeling left was the implacable consciousness of his worthlessness.

And he was worthless, he was, he had let Loki down, he hadn't been strong enough to repress his doubts, doubts he shouldn't even have had, he had failed him, he was nothing but a despicable –

Loki came down on the floor with him and hugged him.

There was no other word for it. He wrapped his arms around him and held him tight, and this was so unexpected, so strange, that Clint's screaming thoughts came to a stuttering halt.

“No” Loki repeated – but this time, Clint got to hear what came next, “you did not do anything wrong, Barton. You are not allowed to think otherwise.”

“But I – ”

“Believe me” Loki murmured. “You were good. There is nothing wrong.”

Clint let out a shuddering pant. The demi-god tilted his head to speak in his ear.

“Now” he murmured. “I need you to tell me – do you want to be untied ?”

The archer tensed again in panic. “No” he stammered. “No, please, sir, I can still – ”

“Hush” Loki said. “I wanted only an answer. Everything is fine.”

“But – ”

“Hush” the demi-god repeated. “I am fully satisfied, Barton. You were perfect.”

“I was ?” Clint said in a lost, hopeful tone.

“Yes” Loki said unreservedly.

The archer shuddered in his arms.

“What – ” he gasped, “what do you want from me, sir ? Name it. Name it, I'll just – ”

He needed to prove him. That he was still good. That he had not derailed. Needed to show him that he just wanted to please him, really, there was nothing else –

“I want you to breathe” the demi-god murmured. “As we did just before. Do you remember ?”

Clint swallowed. “Yes, sir.”

“Good. Breathe in for me.”

Clint did.

“Now out.”

He let out a shaky, shallow breath.

“In.”

In.

“Out.”

Out.

Anxiety flared again in Clint's chest and he began to struggle and gasp againbut Loki pulled back and framed his face, making him look up. “Eyes on mine, Barton.”

Clint licked his lips. “Yes, sir.”

“Now breathe in.”

In.

“Now out.”

Out.

“Excellent, Barton. In.”

In.

“Out.”

Out.

Loki wrapped his arms around him again and held him close. “I will stay with you until you find your way out. And you will, because there is nothing wrong. Say it.”

“There is nothing wrong” Clint repeated mechanically.

“Indeed. Now in, then keep going.”

In.

 

Out.

 

In.

 

Out.

 

“Very good” Loki murmured, rubbing soothing circles in his back.

 

They stayed there for what had to be hours.

Very slowly, Clint's shudders started to recede, and he finally began to shake himself free from his paralyzing, panicking feeling of – inferiority. Worthlessness. Yes, that was it. Very close from submission. Easy to mistake them. Hard to hit one while missing the other.

Even for Hawkeye, apparently.

It was like poison in his system. He took a deeper breath and sighed profoundly, shivering again in Loki's unfaltering embrace, but it was a shudder of release and not the deep, short tremors of shock that had paralyzed him for hours. The demi-god had been so motionless during that time that he could have been asleep. But of course, as soon as he felt Clint move, he spoke and the murmur in the archer's ear was clear and soft.

“Are you back ?”

Clint swallowed. “Think so.”

Loki pulled back, just enough so they could look at each other.

“How would you feel about being untied ?” he asked calmly.

The idea was still unpleasant, but at the same time, Clint really did not want to give into his submissive urges right now. They were too tainted with that sickening, crushing feeling of being worthless, a miserable piece of shit in the gutter.

He nodded without a word and the bonds fell down. He brought his trembling wrists in front of him and rubbed them mechanically.

“Sit down” Loki said, slightly pushing him back.

Clint did, clumsily sitting cross-legged instead of kneeling. Loki mirrored him with much more grace, his blue eyes staring at him in earnest.

“What happened ?” he said in a calm, low voice.

Clint drew in another shaky breath and quirked a self-deprecating smile. “Nothing” he said, still rubbing his wrists. “I just remembered who you were.”

Loki went very pale.

The archer stared at him and the demi-god stared back, his features perfectly blank.

“Do go on” he said eventually in an even voice.

“It just hit me again” Clint said under his breath. “How it felt exactly the same. This quietness, this... certainty.”

Loki nodded. Of course, he understood perfectly what Clint talked about. They both understood only too well.

“Would you want me to apologize ?” he asked calmly.

Clint blinked.

“Because I will not” Loki went on with a hint of sharpness in his tone. “Never. I have no remorse, Barton. Not for the blood on my hands ; not for the blood on yours.”

The corner of Clint's lip twitched. So be it, then. It was even easier that way – he didn't have to ask himself if he ought to forgive Loki or not. They were still enemies, in the end, despite the brand in the small of his back.

The demi-god shifted slightly into an even more elegant position.

“Regardless, you can be certain of one thing. The spear did induce submission ; but it was artificial. It was never yours.”

“I've been told that a lot after Manhattan” Clint sneered.

“I am the owner of the spear” Loki said simply.

The archer stared at him for a second, a bit baffled.

“Okay, point” he murmured.

Loki smiled, but it was bitter and weary. “Selvig is a scientist” he said. “His goals are numerous, scattered and hidden. He likes to be ahead of things, to have an all-encompassing sight, to understand, tear apart, take control. He does not have a submissive soul.”

His fingers laced together. “He bent to my power nonetheless.”

Clint swallowed his anger down.

“You, Barton, are a sniper. Your targets are single and well-defined. You enjoy the quietness. The certainty. You have – ”

“A heart, but no brain” Clint scoffed. “That what you're saying ?”

Loki sighed. “No. Your heart and mind are irrelevant here. Weaker, dumber men than you have been known to crave dominance. It is your soul that matters, Barton. Nothing else.”

Clint stayed silent for a long time. He started shuddering again. He felt like complete shit. Like his blood had turned sour in his veins. Like the entire world had deemed him worthless.

“Why are you doing this ?” he asked eventually, anger and bitterness simmering beneath. “All of this ? And don't fucking lie to me.”

Loki stared at him calmly. Then he got up on his feet, his leather coat falling back perfectly along the lean lines of his body.

“You are dismissed for today. You can use the shower before leaving.”

“You didn't answer me.”

“You didn't want to hear a lie” Loki said without turning.

 

The door closed quietly behind him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“I insulted you” Clint blurted out when the door opened.

Loki just blinked at him.

“Barton” he said in a low voice. “This is the middle of the day.”

Clint didn't give a fuck. He was looking at him square in the eye, his whole body taut and shaking, his saliva thick and bitter in the back of his mouth.

“I was disrespectful” he said, breathless. “I gave you orders. I forgot my place.”

Loki said nothing. He stepped back and let him in.

“Clothes off.”

He tossed him a bottle of lube. “Open yourself up. You have five minutes.”

Clint swallowed, then did everything as ordered.

When the five minutes were over, Loki grabbed his arm to manhandle him up and dragged him into the bedroom. The torture chair was already there, polished and gleaming in the dim light.

“Climb.”

Clint did, bracing himself on the wooden back. Loki grabbed his hips like last time and pulled him down, but without pausing this time, in one long, slow, deep thrust that made the archer grit his teeth and writhe in suffering, then moan, groan, and finally scream in halting yells, the sensation just as overwhelming, as wrong as last time.

Loki strapped him mercilessly to the arm rests and seat. He produced a cock-shaped gag of the same dark, polished wood.

“It's – ” Clint began.

“Open your mouth or I will break your teeth.”

Clint shuddered, then complied. The wooden dick pushed into his mouth, heavy on his tongue, sliding down and stopping just before it could trigger his gag reflex. The leather strap was fastened tightly behind his neck. He let out a helpless moan around the cock in his mouth, already driven half-crazy by the other one ploughing his ass.

“There you are” Loki said, his voice cold and snappish, without any trace of pleasure. “Filled.”

He brutally turned away and left without another word.

Clint shuddered in the torture chair and moaned again, uselessly fighting his restraints. Tears rolled down his face, but his gag was so choking that he could not taste them. He tried to close his legs to ease the pressure on his stretched rim, to raise himself up to relieve his invaded body, but he was mercilessly strapped down. The cock in his mouth was perfectly sculpted, made to make him feel like someone was endlessly using him, and he couldn't help sucking it in an attempt to adjust it in his mouth, which made it all a hundred times more humiliating.

He moaned once more, arched and shut his eyes against it, burning tears falling down his face. He wanted to sob, but the gag would make him choke if he did. He had to fight his distress and let it out in slow bursts of tears, like pressurized steam out of a cooker.

The artificial cock was rock-hard and too straight in his ass, too wide in girth, too long. It felt just wrong to be so opened, to have his insides so stretched and explored, as though he was prepared to be turned inside out like a glove. The leather straps were too tight around his wrists, thighs and ankles. Last time, he had only sat on the chair for a minute, after a very slow build. He did not think he could have lasted another second anyway. But now he was impaled there, and Loki had left him alone for who knew how much time.

He moaned and squirmed and kept crying. He couldn't help hearing what he had told Loki, hearing it over and over again.

I just remembered who you were.

And the fact that it was the truth, the plain truth, made it a thousand times worse. Of course, they were both aware of their common past, and of Clint's first time as a slave – an unwilling one, artificial one, but still. Loki had bent him that time, and the parallel was excruciating. He couldn't keep Sitwell out of his mind either, their endless sessions where he would have given anything to get out of here, where he would have been ready to blow his brains off only to make the headache stop. But Sitwell had tormented him mercilessly. Did you have any control over your actions ? Do you still understand your own motives ? Do you remember your own state of mind ?

Of course he did. Nothing, and the next target. Quietness, certainty, and the next target. Everything clear and precise like a map, with the overwhelming certitude that Loki could be fully, entirely, unconditionally trusted. His work for him was unquestionable. Clint had been taught at a very young age to ignore his own qualms anyway. You gotta do what you gotta do, boy. Someone's gotta pull the trigger. If it ain't you, it'll be someone else.

And your aim is so fucking good, maybe you can actually save people as well.

Bullshit. He was a killer. He'd been Fury's killer, he'd been Loki's killer – and it had been no different. Sure, Loki had made him murder innocents. But nobody is innocent, when you look at them from the right – or the wrong – angle. You can always find a good reason for people to die.

And for the first time in his life, he was not submitting as a soldier. Not as a killer. He was submitting as himself, on his own personal volition, and it felt so fucking right that he could have cried. It was so good to be stripped even of his name, to be brought down to his very essence. What he had found was truly unique and more perfect than he'd thought possible.

Loki was Loki, but nobody else had ever been able to give Clint what he needed in such a thoroughly satisfying way. So what if people had died ? Denying himself wasn't going to bring them back. And perhaps Loki was insane, perhaps he was a cold-blooded murderer, a soulless, heartless chess master. But he was not like that with Clint. The archer still remembered his weird embrace, the words whispered in his ear. You were perfect, Barton. There was nothing wrong.

He choked on a sob and swallowed around the gag. He had failed him. He wanted to make him proud. To please him. If he had Loki's full approval, nothing else mattered in this world.

Except he could not allow himself to have it, because he was an Avenger. It kept him away from true submission, because he wasn't ready to give everything up, in the end. He had to keep his balance between the two halves of his life. He wasn't a traitor, and Loki knew it ; he had never brought the conversation in dangerous places, where Clint would have been torn up between his two loyalties.

Clint had been the one to remind them both of this state of things.

He shouldn't have. He had ruined their already incomplete relationship. And he needed to suffer for it.

He twitched in his restraints and let his head fall down, tears rolling down silently on his burning cheeks.

 

*

 

He had almost passed out when the door opened. He forced himself to look up, feeling on the brink of unraveling from repressed sobs and suffering.

Loki's gaze was still cold as ice. He unstrapped him with brisk, efficient movements, then hoisted him up and threw him on the bed. Clint landed flat on his stomach ; before he had even stopped bouncing on the mattress, Loki grabbed his arms and twisted them so painfully he screamed around his gag. He tied them up with a leather bond that cut into the archer's skin ; he grabbed his legs, bent them in his back and tied them to his crossed wrists. Clint's ass was painfully empty, fluttering from overstretch, but Loki could not have cared less. He rolled the archer on his side, then grabbed his nipple and pinched.

Clint closed his eyes, then bit around the cock in his mouth when Loki twisted, pinched, almost torn his nipple off – then suddenly clamped something on the flesh, some kind of metallic thing that bit like a bitch. Clint's eyes snapped open ; he let out a weak moan and arched when Loki did the same to his other nipple.

Then Loki grabbed his cock and Clint froze, chest heaving.

He locked eyes with Loki and let out urgent, pleading sounds, muffled by the dildo in his mouth. Loki looked down at him with eyes of ice, then ignored him completely again and put the clamp on the head of his cock.

Clint tried to kick and trash in his bonds, but his wrists and ankles were strapped together, and he had no way to shield his body. His dick was throbbing with pain, tears rolling down his face again. Loki produced four other clamps and clipped them to his balls, one by one, two on each side of his cock, cruelly biting in the sensitive flesh.

Clint screamed like mad behind the gag, struggling against his restraints. When Loki put another clamp along his length, he thought he was going to lose his mind. But the demi-god then put another one and another one, and Clint was not even thinking anymore, trashing and struggling and screaming and drooling around the cock in his mouth. His tortured parts were rigid with pain, and his nipples were like two drops of fire in the middle of his chest. He began letting out pleading noises again, but Loki ignored his wordless begging and got up.

He did not leave the room this time, but went to a chair in the corner of the room and sat. Clint let his head fall down on the covers, panting through his nose, unable to hold back his tears. The pain was vicious and relentless, and he still felt thoroughly stretched from his previous torture, his hole gaping in an unnatural, horrible way. The clamps on his dick and balls made him feel more exposed and vulnerable than ever. More naked than ever. He could feel Loki's merciless eyes on him, tried not to squirm and moan, but he could not help it, even though he was being watched and it made him burn with nauseating shame.

Loki let him there for what felt like an hour. Clint was panting heavily, his eyes glassy and ajar, when the demi-god finally got up again and rolled him on his side once more – Clint had fell on his stomach in his attempts to free himself, only trapping the clamps beneath the weight of his own body, pushing them further into the flesh. Loki took them off, one by one, watchful of Clint's full-body shivers every time he removed one. Eventually, he reached behind his head an unclasped the gag. Clint choked on its length one last time as it left his mouth and began taking deep, gasping breaths, as though he had just been saved from drowning.

Loki untied his ankles from his wrists, but left his hands bound. He took a step back and stood tall.

“Kneel before me” he said in an icy, commanding voice, the same he'd used in Stuttgart.

Clint shuddered with pure submission. He would have done anything at this very second.

He got up clumsily, his whole body aching and numb, then sank to his knees in front of Loki.

“Why did you come here today ?”

“To be punished, sir.”

His voice was hoarse, but not halting, and he was glad he wasn't stuttering at least.

“Why ?” Loki asked calmly.

“Because... it was right, sir.”

He literally felt a wave of anger radiating from Loki and hunched on himself.

“Spare me those idiocies, Barton. Why did you want to be punished ?”

“To please you, sir.”

Loki slapped him so hard his neck cracked.

“Last chance, Barton. Fail this again and you'll spend the night on the chair. With the clamps. Understood ?”

Clint was frozen with fear. “Yes” he gasped.

“Why did you want to be punished ?”

The archer flushed in shame.

“So I could be your slave again” he uttered.

Loki nodded. “Yes, Barton.”

Clint relaxed ever so slightly.

“And this was the reason I punished you” the demi-god said.

He gripped his hair and forced him to look up. “I branded you. Did you think my mark would erase itself if you disobeyed ? Did you think you could regain your freedom so easily ?”

Clint swallowed. “...No, sir.”

“Whether you satisfy me or not” Loki said, “you are mine.”

Clint relaxed in his grip. “Yes.”

“Fear torture, Barton” the demi-god said in a voice still cold, but somehow softer. “Fear punishment. Do not fear abandon. You will remain mine, as long as one of us lives.”

The archer nodded, mellow with the aftershock of relentless torture and the insane relief suddenly weighing on him. He was wary of that intimate space after last time, now that he knew how awfully wrong it could turn, but he could not really stop himself from sliding down. And it was all right anyway. It was quiet and calm, as it should be. His crippling doubts were gone ; only the consciousness of the brand in his back was left. When Loki cupped his face, Clint leaned into it and closed his eyes.

“I'm sorry” he murmured, still breathing heavily although it started to calm down. “I was unfair.”

Loki sounded mildly taken aback.

“What do you mean ?”

“I fucked up last time” Clint said. “And you still helped me.”

“You already told me such things once” the demi-god said, raising an eyebrow.

Clint quirked a small smile. “I was just trying to get your foot off my neck at the time.”

There was a silence. When he spoke again, Loki sounded strangely subdued.

“What are you saying, Barton ?”

The archer sighed and shuddered as he settled inside himself. “Just thank you, sir.”

He kept his eyes closed under Loki's hand. The demi-god said nothing for a very long time, grazing Clint's face as though he only discovered now how he looked like.

Eventually, he crouched and grabbed Clint under his tied arms to heave him up on the bed. Through his eyelids, the archer saw dancing golden shadows, but he did not open his eyes to see. He knew what was happening.

He expected Loki to turn him on his stomach and take him, but the demi-god kept him seated there ; he climbed on the bed as well, spread Clint's legs and let them wrap around his waist, then grabbed the archer's hips to slightly lift him off the bed, and slowly penetrated him. Clint tilted his head back without a sound, only parting his lips to breathe in. It did not hurt at all – he was still extremely loose from the torture chair. Loki slid home effortlessly, then began rocking his hips with slow movements, and it felt just nice and right to be filled again.

Clint shivered, then gladly leaned forward when Loki's hands wrapped behind his back, pushing his forehead against the demi-god's shoulder. They were moving together, and it was as natural and good as though they had been molded after each other. The demi-god's breath was ghosting over his ear, and he was about to speak, but for a very long time, his lips only shaped the words without quite deciding themselves to let them out.

Eventually, he whispered, “Barton – ”

 

The door banged open on Tony Stark.

 

Clint was too far down to startle, but he vaguely realized what he must look like. Limp and pliant, eyes hazy and unfocused. Shivering, a tear-streaked face, hands twisted and tied up.

And Loki buried inside him.

A repulsor blast rushed past him like a branding iron and hit Loki square in the eye. The demi-god had a spasm but did not make a sound, and managed to pull out before he fell blindly on the floor, holding his face.

Clint had been thrown on his side on the bed. He watched Loki convulse with pain in a haze, and all he could think of was that how wrong it was to see him on his knees.

Stark blasted him again, and again and again until the demi-god was huddled on the floor. He was protecting his head, his eyes still open, his expression strangely serene and weary.

He would not fight back.

And it was just wrong wrong wrong wrong WRONG – and a chasm of despair ripped open inside Clint – this place he had found inside himself, a chaotic abyss of screams, a pain he never thought he could even experience –

“Loki !” he breathed, and he didn't know if he wanted to help him or if he was himself calling for help –

“It's alright” a voice said. “Don't worry. It's over.”

It was intended to be soft, but it just sounded metallic and inhuman.

“It's over, Clint.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

“...going on for weeks. I can't believe it.”

Clint drew in a shaky breath. When had he passed out ?

God, everything was spinning around him. He was sweating and shaking. His hands were untied ; he was still on the bed, with a sheet drawn over him that clung to his glistening body. He felt trapped, too warm, his skin too narrow. There were people around him, their voices echoing cruelly in his head. He had no idea what happened, where he was, why he was there – everything felt threatening and scary, but it was like a nightmare he couldn't wake up from, he was helpless and naked under the sheet, surrounded with ominous shadows. He felt nauseous, swelled, as though he'd been force-fed liters and liters of warm milk, as though his throat was clogged with a clot of saliva, as though someone was twisting his bulging stomach – and he could only roll on himself in time to throw up over the edge of the bed.

There was a hand on his shoulder and someone was talking to him, but he could not make out the words. Eventually, the other shut up and just stayed there, the hand unmoving on his shoulder, as though it didn't know what to do, while Clint shook with spasms, his mouth burning with acid. The sheet was a tangled, constricting shroud around him. He was drooling and felt burning drops run down his face, and he didn't know whether it was sweat or tears.

The person over him talked again and this time, he heard.

“Maybe we should bring him to the hospital – ”

“No !” he gasped, hoarse and distorted. “No don't - don't move me !”

If they moved him, if they lifted him – the mere idea made him vomit again, although there wasn't much left to throw up. He was shaking frantically. He was going to unravel, he was falling to pieces, he needed help, he needed to be pieced back together, held down together, needed the focus and the coldness – he needed help, please, he would beg, he would crawl, he would do anything, if he could only get help –

“We're here” someone said, and he shut up, realizing for the first time he wasn't fully aware of what he was saying, and that these people shouldn't hear it by default – because no one knew about him and Loki, it was a secret, it was their secret...

“You don't have to keep it a secret anymore” a soft voice said.

Shit, he was still talking, there were no filters left between his mouth and his brain, he had to think of something else, but he had no control over either his mind or his body, he could not help thinking of –

“Clint” the other said above him. “Clint, you've got to help us out here. Do you hear me ?”

This must be torture, Clint thought. Not the torture he needed, not the pain that grounded him and kept him there, but torture like he'd encountered on a mission. He couldn't remember, but these people were trying to make him talk. To make him disclose the secret. To make it all end – it's over, someone had said it was all over. He bit his lip, held it between his teeth until he drew blood, for security, and finally allowed himself to think about Loki – he couldn't have held it in any longer, Loki Loki Loki, he was breathing Loki, tasting Loki, needing him so bad he ached, and he let his mind fill with the image and memory of him, until he felt like he got a lid on it, until he was certain he would be able not to talk. Only then did he release his lip, swelled with the pinch.

Someone brushed his shoulder again.

“Clint...”

“Get away from me” he rasped.

“I don't think he recognizes us” someone else said.

“We have to ask Loki exactly what he did to him” a worried, mild-mannered voice said.

Banner. The name popped in his mind out of nowhere. Banner, Romanov, Stark ?

Oh, God, yeah, he was beginning to remember, but it was so damn hard with the mess that had become his mind. Stark. Stark had barged in just when...

“You want to know what he did to him ?” Tony yelled above him. “He fucking raped him ! Tortured him for months in my own fucking home, and none of us noticed a goddamn thing !”

“Clint” Natasha's voice said, very close from his ear. “Can you hear me ?”

He swallowed thickly, felt the acid taste at the back of his throat. “Yeah” he breathed in a shaky voice. “Nat.”

He reached blindly for her and felt her smaller hand fit in his and clench, tight.

God, what a clusterfuck. He needed to think. Think of Loki. Think of the brand in his back. Whatever happens, you are mine.

He drew in a deep breath and repeated to himself, I'm his. Whatever happened. It was an oath. He tried to remember how they had been just before Stark broke it. Fitting together like the pieces of a puzzle, Loki's arms wrapped around him, his lips brushing his ear. His name. He'd say his name, in a strange tone. He'd been inside him, and it had felt so right. So fucking right. Clint was settled again then.

He had to hold on to the feeling, because Loki could not help him now, and Clint was the only hope the both of them had left.

“Nat” he repeated hazily, clenching harder.

“He's coming back” he heard her say from a distance.

There was some shuffling and eventually Bruce was crouching in front of him, unfazed by the acrid smell of sweat and vomit that weighed in the air.

“Hi, Clint” he said. “Recognize me ?”

Clint let his head fall back, and, despite everything, smiled a little. “Yeah, I do, big guy” he mumbled. “Sorry if I was... out of it for a minute.”

“It's – understandable” Bruce murmured.

His strange decency somehow awoke in Clint the weird urge to cry. The doctor sounded so raw. He tried to imagine how he would feel if he'd walked in on him – or Nat, or Tony, or even Steve – in his position, and it was enough to make him breathless with horror and guilt. He'd never wanted this. He had tried to protect them from this shitty situation, but now everything had burst in their faces.

“Clint – ” Bruce said, very softly. “If you're... in pain, I can get everyone out and take a look.”

The archer stared at him through his haze, trying to understand what he meant by that. Then it dawned on him. Tony must have covered him up the second after he'd thrown Loki to the ground ; nobody had examined him during his few minutes of unconsciousness. Bruce was in fact very gently trying to ask him if he had torn up.

Clint shook his head, the bitterness of shame overcoming the acid taste in his mouth. “No” he murmured. “It's okay.”

“Okay” Bruce said with a certain relief. “Tony said he saw bruises..."

“That's taken care of too” the archer mumbled.

He pushed on his arms and sat up, wrapping the sheet around him. Now that he remembered everything, the urgency of the situation helped him gathering it together. He was still edgy and in need of control, but the knowledge that he would lose control for ever if he didn't get a hold of himself now gave him a hell of a boost.

“Hey, take it easy – ”

“I'm fine” he said firmly.

He planted his grey eyes in Bruce's to let him see how clear they were.

“My clothes should be in the other room” he said in a low voice.

Bruce hesitated, then nodded and got up to fetch them. Natasha had let go of Clint's hand at some point ; she sat cautiously on the edge of the bed next to him, like she had done after Manhattan. And God, did it feel like Manhattan. Except that this time, he wasn't compromised – or if he was, it was by choice, and he had no idea how to explain it without ending up in jail, or in a straitjacket.

When he looked up, he realized Tony and Steve were here too – the latter was actively trying to get the former to calm down. Clint remembered once more the whole scene through Tony's eyes, and winced.

Natasha pushed a glass of water in his hand and he drank it slowly, but gladly, his eyes never leaving Tony. The billionaire finally realized Clint was staring at him and pushed Steve away.

“Hey” he muttered, coming closer. “How are you feeling ?”

“Got worse, then better” Clint said honestly.

Tony nodded, looking overwhelmed. “Shit, Barton, I'm... we should have seen it coming. I don't know how we ever imagined that we could trust him. I'm so fucking sorry.”

“How did you find out ?” Clint asked in a low voice.

“Nat was looking for you. Jarvis told her you'd been here for hours.”

“But – you told me there were no cameras in the private floors.”

“There aren't, but Thor's rooms were rigged with sensors to watch Loki. They, they detected your body heat as well.”

Clint swallowed thickly.

It was all his fault. He hadn't been able to bear his own guilt or to face his own mistakes. He had demanded of Loki to take care of him in the middle of the day, even though their sessions were usually held during the night. Daylight only witnessed their more peaceful times, when Clint remained dressed and could get up from his kneeling position in a flash if someone barged in.

He had fucked up once more, and Loki had indulged him.

Why ?

God, it was too late to think about that.

“Where's Loki now ?” he asked.

“Don't worry about him” Steve only said, but there were worlds of threats in his voice. “Thor came back this morning. They should be leaving soon."

Clint felt a sting of panic, although he should have expected as much.

“So he'll go back in the dungeons of Asgard” he hesitated.

“No” Natasha said evenly. “He's going to be executed.”

The archer felt like his whole body had turned to ice.

“What ?” he breathed.

“He crossed the line” Steve said in an unusually fierce tone.

“Here” Bruce interrupted, coming back from Loki's dark living room where Clint had shed his clothes.

The archer took them without thinking. He quickly slipped the tank top over his head, then put on his black combat pants without bothering with underwear.

He got up, buckling his belt, barefoot on the cold floor. Natasha stood with him, as though expecting him to fall, but he was more and more grounded. There was still this edginess, this agitation inside him, but it was overcome by the more frantic scream that Loki would be killed. He had to act, and he had to act now.

“I've gotta see him” he said.

Everyone sort of made the same forward movement of Jesus-he's-still-out-of-it-let's-get-him-seated. Clint shook his head.

“No” he said. “I know what I'm doing. I know what I'm asking. Please.”

He looked at them one by one, let them see he was sane and in control and conscious of what he wanted.

“I have” he said, weighing his words, “to see him. And you must all be there too.”

They exchanged looks. Lots of looks. But he wasn't shaking anymore – although he could feel them, those small tremors that he'd miraculously tamed with the memory of the brand, but which would drive him crazy, eventually, eventually – and they all wanted to leave this horrific room anyway.

“Please” Clint repeated, breathless, desperate, because if they refused – “I'm not dangerous, it's not a trick – you can restrain me if you want -”

“Don't be ridiculous” Tony snapped.

Steve nodded slowly. “If you're really sure...”

“I am” Clint said instantly. “Please.”

The super-soldier kept nodding, his eyes fixed on his. “Okay” he said. “Come on. He's in the other room.”

Clint swallowed thickly. God, this was a terrible idea. He was digging his own grave, and Loki's, too. But his frantic mind wouldn't let it to rest. The demi-god was going to his death anyway. And Clint had to save him. He had to. He had to.

He followed Steve like he would have followed an executioner.

 

*

 

Thor was in the living room ; he spun round when Clint left the soiled bedroom. He looked as pale and disheveled as the archer himself must look, his eyes wide and too clear, their color washed away by shock.

“My friend” he breathed.

He stepped towards Clint, but the archer wasn't seeing him. He was rooted to the spot by what was huddled at the thunderer's feet.

Loki was clothed with a ripped black tunic and pants, as though he had tried to invoke his armor but had been cut off after the first step. He was trying to catch his breath, but the heavy muzzle that locked his mouth shut wasn't making it easy for him. His hands were bound in front of him with silver shackles. Mjölnir was heavy in Thor's hand and pressing at the back of his head, forcing him to look at the ground. He was shaking brutally at times, in single, violent spasms, as though he was struggling furiously to repress bursts of terror or anger or God knew what. His brow had burst out and a river of deep red blood was washing down in the snow of his face. His hissing breath made it obvious that he had broken ribs, and the way he held his right arm wasn't natural either.

Clint knew he would be expected to rejoice. After all, Loki had left him tied and bound to suffer more than once.

But he really must not be normal, since he only felt horror.

“ – Clint !” he heard, and realized Tony had been trying to talk to him for a while now.

He looked up, and something in his expression increased the billionaire's concern. “Okay, guys, this was a bad idea – let's get him out of here.”

“No” Clint said in a wan voice, repressing another wave of nausea.

At the sound of his voice, Loki looked up.

The archer felt slightly better when he saw that his gaze, at the very least, wasn't broken. Loki's eyes were an order.

Silence.

“They're going to kill you” Clint said in a subdued voice.

The trickster kept staring at him, and the authority in his gaze didn't waver one bit. Thor must have interpreted it as a threat since he let Mjölnir slide down a few notches, forcing Loki to bow so brutally Clint thought he heard a vertebra crack. The demi-god couldn't hold in a muffled sound of pain.

“Stop” Clint breathed, stepping forward thinking. “Fuck, stop, he's – he's innocent !”

His words were followed by the heaviest silence he had ever heard.

 

Loki closed his eyes.

 

Tony grabbed Clint by his arm. “What the hell are you saying, Barton ?”

“He didn't do anything” the archer said, breaking free.

“Clint” Nat murmured. “You're not yourself. What Tony saw...”

“Wasn't rape” the archer cut off. “Granted, it was – very rough, but he wasn't forcing me.”

“He's not himself” Bruce said. “Loki must be manipulating him again.”

“No !” Clint snapped.

He took a step back when Steve came forward. “Stop right there, Cap” he said. “I'm perfectly sane.”

That's actually open to debate, I guess, but we get the general idea.

“Then how can you insist on Loki's innocence ?” the super-soldier said calmly.

“Clint” Natasha said in a warning tone.

She was going to take him down.

“Look, I'm sorry” Clint told Loki, stepping back nervously. “I've got to tell them.”

“Tell us what ?” Steve murmured.

Clint found himself backed to the wall – they had surrounded him without him even realizing it.

“We didn't have a choice, okay ?” the archer said. “There was no other way.”

“What are you talking about ?”

 “The serum” Clint said.

 

Everyone froze.

At Thor's feet, Loki snapped his eyes open.

“Doom's serum” the archer repeated, blood pounding in his ears. “It just keeps kicking in.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Loki was looking at him as though he had never imagined someone else than him was able of lying. Clint took a deep breath and lowered the hands he had raised in an instinctive barrage against his increasingly threatening teammates.

"The serum ?" Steve repeated.

"But... it's been months since the incident" Tony said.

"And you were tested. There were no remnants in your blood" Natasha added.

"Ever heard of drug flashbacks ?" Clint said through gritted teeth.

Judging by their looks, they all knew what it was – even Steve.

"HPPD" Bruce murmured.

They all looked at him.

"Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder" he explained.

"Sounds about right" Clint said, a bit breathless.

His voice was shivering with the very efforts he was putting into keeping it even.

"Look" he said. "We've managed for months. You were never supposed to find out. Loki's really innocent – alright ? I know those words don't sound like they fit together. And you know I'd be the last one to defend him. But I'm not enough of a bastard to let him take the blame."

He glanced briefly at the demi-god. "Besides – I need him."

"But why him ?" Steve exclaimed. "Clint, you're under the influence of – of sex pollen, and the person you go to is Loki ? Why didn't you tell us – anyone else ? Why didn't you ask for help ?"

"I was ashamed !" the archer yelled.

They all shut up.

"Can't you understand that ?"

He didn't need to lie for this part.

"Can't you realize how humiliating this is ?"

He could feel Loki's eyes on him.

"Can't you see why I didn't want anybody else to know ?"

They all stared at him in astonishment while his shout echoed in the room.

"But – " Tony said. "You went into shock, you... "

"Because you interrupted us !" Clint snapped. "It's like waking up a sleepwalker, Tony. It's... it's a trance, and you broke it."

He pressed a hand to his temple. This lie really sounded like the goddamn truth – nothing was different, except for the cause, and Clint really hated the parallel he had drawn between a mental disorder resulting from a perverted drug, and his own personal needs.

"Fuck" he mumbled with a wince. "Fuck. You were not supposed to know."

"Clint – " Bruce said, brushing his shoulder.

The archer jumped as though he'd been shocked and the doctor snapped back in surprise. Clint thought he had seen a hint of green in his eyes, but whether or not it had been real, it was gone the next second.

"Sorry" Bruce whispered.

"I'm fine" the archer said. "It's... can we focus on Loki for now ?"

Everyone turned back at the demi-god, who was still shaking with pain but didn't even seem to notice, staring at Clint with a strange, intense expression rendered unreadable by the muzzle on his face.

"I don't forgive" the archer said, looking him in the eye and slightly shivering himself.

He looked up at the others. "But he didn't rape me. And he's no more in control of this than I am."

Another lie.

"Thor" Clint said. "Thor, you can let him go."

Thor was still very white. He startled and lifted Mjölnir from his brother's neck, then took a step back, looking horrified.

A golden cloud rose around Loki. Freed from the blocking power of the hammer, he was healing himself. Clint heard the bones snapping and cracking as they shifted back in place, and scowled. Thor crouched next to Loki and undid his muzzle with trembling hands. As soon as the gag and shackles fell, though, the demi-god spat : "Out."

"Loki – "

"Barton stays" Loki hissed. "The rest of you – out !"

His eyes were burning with madness. "OUT !"

"Clint – " Steve said. "Maybe you should – "

"No, it's okay" the archer said. "It's... it's nothing I didn't see before. I'll talk him out of it."

His own talent for playing blasé surprised himself – because holy fuck, he had no idea what was happening. Loki had never been so frantic before. He was always such an icy bastard, always so refined even in cruelty. Something was horribly wrong and it was scaring the shit out of Clint.

He should definitely get everybody out while it was still time.

"I'll answer all your questions after" he said. "Please, Cap. We just need a moment here. It'll be okay – I know."

Steve only looked half-convinced, but it was obvious that nothing he could do was going to get Loki to calm down. He looked at Clint for another moment, then decided himself.

"Guys, let's leave. We need a moment to process this anyway. Clint – we'll meet on the common floor in fifteen minutes. Alright ?"

He was looking right in his eye, his blue gaze deadly serious.

"And if you're not here, we're coming back for you. Jarvis's monitoring your vitals anyway."

The archer stared back and nodded, looking as assured as he could. "There's no problem, Cap."

Tony caught his wrist. "Are you sure it's okay ?"

Clint let him look in his very grey eyes, then averted them.

"I know it is" he said in a low voice, twisting free. "But thanks, Tony."

The billionaire nodded, but there was more confusion and even anger in his eyes than actual worry. He stared at him for another second, before turning away, slowly, walking almost backwards. Bruce followed without a word.

Natasha hadn't said anything. She gave Clint a shrewd glance, then left, and the door closed on them all.

*

Clint stayed there for a second, breathing heavily. He couldn't believe he had actually gotten them all to leave.

He shook his head, but now that the immediate danger was gone, the haze was coming back with a vengeance. He was swaying on his feet. He took a deep breath, then caught Loki getting up on his feet in the corner of his eye.

"I'm – sorry" he said, trying to fight his dizziness. "This is – "

The demi-god grabbed his collar – then crushed him against the wall and swallowed his cry of surprise and pain in his mouth.

Clint struggled instinctively, but Loki had never been so brutal – he was kissing him as though it was a punishment, as though it was rape, and the archer soon stopped wasting his strength and let himself be taken, trying to breathe between Loki's harsh claims.

 

And for the first time, he realized that the demi-god was just like him.

 

Like him, in a sense that his need for dominance was a deep-rooted thing that he didn't control any more than Clint controlled his own urges. The archer had hit the bullseye once again,  without even realizing it, when he had told Steve that the demi-god was just as lost as him. This was why Loki wanted him – for the same reason Clint wanted him. It must feel different, but it was an animal urge just the same.

And Loki had just been rendered powerless by the brother he hated, just been forced to bow under the very weapon that deemed him unworthy and proclaimed Thor's glory to the skies. He was in pain, like Clint had been only a few hours ago, and his need for power, for control, had been increased tenfold by the humiliation he had just endured. He was lost in his own inner hell.

He pushed Clint against the wall, pressing, crushing, choking him with his kiss, and his right hand slipped between the archer's thighs to palm him, to knead him – not to pleasure him but because Clint's body was his object, his possession, his own.

He suddenly pulled back and forced the archer to his knees ; ropes came out of nowhere, wrapped around his wrists and chest ; others tightened around his groin and inner thighs, trapping him in his combat pants, and clenched like living snakes to torture him, to make him hurt, and Clint didn't try to repress his harsh pant of pain. Loki let out a sharp breath in answer, almost a hiss ; he grabbed the archer's hair, made him look up, looming over him, mad with a feral thirst. He pressed Clint's face against his crotch, let him know what awaited him – then he unlaced his gaiters, brought the archer back against the wall again and pushed into his mouth.

Clint was completely powerless. He was on his knees and pinned to the wall with his hands bound ; Loki was using him brutally, gracelessly, and he could only try not to retch, and attempt to angle his head, to breathe between two particularly deep thrusts. The demi-god's fingers were clenching on his scalp, drawing tears to his eyes, and any Avenger could have come back into the room.

But none of them gave a flying fuck. Clint had come to Loki in the middle of the day, because he needed him too much ; and now Loki was ready to blow the frail cover of Clint's lie, because he had too, for the first time, completely lost control over his own urges. He had always kept a lid on it until then, torturing Clint with a detached cruelty, a cold pleasure ; but at this second, he didn't care whether he was actually raping the archer or not.

Clint should have been revolted – or at the very least humiliated. Furious. And this was how he would feel usually, until Loki gradually managed to bring down into a state of acceptance.

But today, it was absolute. Black and white. Complete power, master and slave. Loki wanted him ? Loki took him.

Period.

And when Loki crushed him even more against the wall in his brutal desire, when Loki braced on his hair to thrust deep into his throat, Clint convulsed and moaned and – came. Untouched, tortured, yet overwhelmed with pure ecstasy ; he came in his pants, his trapped cock straining against the fabric of his jeans ; he came, from the sheer knowledge of his pure, unsullied submission. He was taken, owned, and it was so good, after the roller-coasters of the last twenty-four hours, that burning tears of gratefulness ran down his cheeks. This was better than any of Loki's promises – nothing could have made him feel more like a slave than this moment. And it fitted his needs so perfectly, he was tearing down with bliss.

Loki thrusted a last time and climaxed with a long shudder, bracing against the wall and pressing deep down his throat. The archer swallowed it all and almost burst with gratitude again. He wanted everything Loki would give him. He wanted to crawl at his feet and please him.

Was Loki pleased ?

When the demi-god pulled out, Clint slid down a little against the wall and looked up, utterly breathless, seeking his gaze. He was worried, deeply worried, like Loki himself had been a few hours earlier. He needed to know for sure that the demi-god had gotten what he needed. That his equilibrium was back.

Loki stared back at him for a second, disheveld and almost scared, his eyes wide. He put a hand on the archer's eyes, making his eyelids close ; then his finger pressed on Clint's lips for a second, like a seal.

The archer understood ; he bowed his head, eyes and mouth shut, and let Loki regain his composure in privacy and silence.

Eventually, he felt his hand in his hair and knew he could have looked up again. But he didn't, happy to stay there for another minute, secured and limp, breathing deeply and slowly now that the storm had passed. When Loki's hand came down to cup his face, he leaned into it and brushed his lips over the palm in a reverent gesture.

And for the first time, it was Loki who said it, in a breathless, shivering murmur.

"Thank you."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

It took Clint a long time to catch his breath. Eventually, the world lost its shiny colors and inner brilliance ; everything became a bit duller, a bit sadder. The archer wiped his mouth and sat down from his kneeling position, then looked up at Loki.

“You're like me” he said, his voice hoarse.

The demi-god was sitting on the edge of the couch, a fist pressed to his closed mouth. He did not answer.

“You're exactly like me. It's not that you enjoy it. You need it.”

Silence.

“So about Manhattan...” Clint murmured.

Loki did not move, but his eyes snapped at him – and his glare was so venomous the archer cringed.

Yeah, they were definitely alike. None of them wanted to hear that their respective urges could have influenced their actions in any way. But the plain facts were painfully obvious – during Manhattan, Clint had submitted, and Loki had taken control. While Clint had tried for months to convince himself that he had been coerced all the way and did not enjoy it, not in the slightest, Loki had done the exact opposite – trying to persuade himself that his cravings were only conscious choices, and that he had not enslaved an entire planet – or fought his brother, or sought the throne – only because of an animal need for dominance.

As it turned out, the archer wasn't the only one in denial.

He would point that out another day, though, because Loki looked like he would actually kill him if he kept talking. He averted his eyes ; the demi-god let out a pressured breath, then rubbed long fingers on his temples.

“You managed to lie” he mumbled out of the blue. “You were this far down and you still crafted a lie.”

Clint shook his head. “It worked for now, but it won't explain the brand. Tony must have seen it.”

“He can't see the brand. Nor could he see the chair, or your welts.”

The archer stared for a second. “You concealed them ? With – like, a spell ?”

“How careless do you think I am ?” Loki said dryly. “It is not a very demanding glamor anyway – much slighter than mine.”

“Yours ?” the archer frowned. “What are you hiding ?”

The demi-god stiffened for a split second, as though realizing he had spoken without thinking.

“Irrelevant” he murmured eventually.

He got up, but there was an unusual stiffness in his gestures.

“I wanted to tell them the truth” the archer said out of nowhere.

Loki was facing the wall.

“Lie to them” he said eventually. “Never lie to me.”

“I'm not lying” Clint snapped. “I hate being like this, it's true. But when you force me to love it, I wish they all knew.”

The demi-god went very still and said nothing.

To see him standing there, turning his back on him, tall and slender in his dark clothes, reminded Clint of what he had seen right after they had slept together for the first time, under the influence of the drug. Loki had been the same then, alone and thin on the edge of the roof, as though he was about to jump. And although it was really stupid, Clint couldn't help thinking that he looked frail. Deeply unhappy.

He suddenly realized Loki just had a brush with death and had shrugged it off with frightening casualty. Thor, his brother of a thousand years, had believed him to be a rapist and had been ready to execute him without further ado. And the demi-god was not indignant in the slightest, as though this was normal, as though he was used to be deemed a monster.

Sure, he had wreaked havoc on Manhattan and tried to kill Thor more than once. But after the whole serum business, the thunderer had insisted that they could start over. And it had almost looked like it could work – until now. Thor had not granted Loki the benefit of the doubt ; not even left him a chance to explain himself.

For the first time, Clint thought he could catch a glimpse of what the demi-god's life had been – always submitted to his Thor's whims, always in the shadows, always mocked, the younger, weaker brother. Always Mjölnir's weight looming over him, making him feel less.

Clint thought of Barney and ran a hand over his face.

And always, Loki's throbbing need for control, his craving for power growing, pulsing like a disease, until he finally got a chance to have it all – and suffered a crushing defeat that left him more destitute than ever.

“I'm yours” Clint said out of the blue.

He licked his dry lips.

“And it would - feel right. If everybody knew.”

The demi-god finally turned to stare at him, looking mildly surprised. The archer took a silent breath, rubbing a hand over his face again. I'm yours. Jesus, he never wanted to utter those words again in his normal state.

“But they would kill you if they did” he concluded, dropping his hand.

The demi-god gave him a long look. Eventually, his lips quirked slightly upwards.

“Aren't you a very practical man.”

Clint shrugged, a tad defensively, and Loki's minute smile widened a bit, although it still looked tinged with a certain weariness.

But maybe it was just the dim light playing a trick on the archer's eyes.

 

*

 

“Ah” Steve said in relief, getting up on his feet as Clint and Loki entered the room.

Thor did not move, but his eyes instantly fixed themselves on his brother.

“Told you it would be fine” the archer pointed out.

Loki stopped almost as soon as he had crossed the threshold, crossing his arms with an icy glare. Clint sat heavily on the couch and laced his fingers, turning his back to him – it would be easier if he didn't have to look at the demi-god. He knew Natasha was staring at him, but he kept his gaze fixed on the floor.

“So what's the verdict ?” he mumbled.

“No – there's no verdict, Clint, it's not a trial” Bruce said.

The archer glanced up at him. The doctor looked distressed and tense, as though he was empathetic to the point of pain. Clint's heart clenched again. God, he had wanted to spare them all. They had enough problems of their own. If they could only forget about it and leave him be.

“We just want to help” Steve said, before looking around and adding, “Look – you obviously...” He glanced briefly at Loki. “You obviously managed on your own. And you've been more than perfect on the field in the past months. Nobody's blaming you for anything.”

“Thanks” he said, honestly appreciating it, although it came with a slight pang of uneasiness.

“So we all agreed it would be better not to bring Fury in.”

“Yeah – yes” the archer said in a hurry.

“But you have to go to Sitwell” Natasha said in a low voice.

Clint's head snapped at her. She stared back.

“I am not telling anything to this creep” he spat.

“Chronic HPPD is a mental disease, Clint” she said calmly.

“Fuck, Nat, you think he's going to help me ? He'll just ask if – if – if it hurt, if I came, if I took it from behind, if I sucked cock and liked it !”

He sniggered at the various reactions of unease he got. “Oh, I'm sorry – am I making you uncomfortable ? How would you feel about being asked this twice a day, every day ? Because that was the ratio I got after Manhattan, after Doom's serum, and I am not going through this again !”

His own violence suddenly struck him. And at the same time, he remembered Loki was in the room. He bit his lip and tried to calm down.

After having been made to wait for Loki to rape him that first time, he thought he knew everything of apprehension. But the sickness that seized him at the thought of Sitwell's endless sessions was enough to make him nauseous.

He would do anything to escape this.

“There's no need to push me into the crazy pit” he said. “Why would Loki have the exact same symptoms ? The problem's not with me – it's with Doom. His serum's a weapon. It – it was probably meant to linger like this.”

Lying to them had made him cringe last time, but it was like murder – gets easier after your first.

“That's what I think too” Bruce said softly. “It's a weaponized drug. Maybe I could...”

His voice trailed off and he grew slightly paler. Tony put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it briefly.

“Maybe we could find a way out of this ourselves, but we'll need to experiment on you” he developed, before glancing at the door. “And Loki, if he will.”

“No” the demi-god said calmly, without looking at anyone.

“Figured” Tony snorted. “That leaves you, Barton. But it might be demanding. We won't force it on you.”

“I'd rather be your lab rat than Sitwell's” Clint mumbled.

Bruce was still pale, but he nodded minutely, regaining his composure. Steve snorted.

“I think it would be faster to ask Doom himself.”

He straightened up, and his eyes had turned a steely blue.

“He's in Latveria right now, and we cannot attack upfront ; but some of us are familiar with more unconventional methods.”

He glanced at Natasha, who nodded serenely.

“No” the archer snapped.

They all turned to him.

Clint's heart was pounding in his ears. No way he was sending Natasha to infiltrate fucking Latveria looking for something that couldn't be found. His dignity, his reputation, weren't worth it.

“That's an obvious trap” he said. “If he planned it all, he'll be waiting for us. I'd rather wait myself and trust Bruce to find a solution.”

Not that he can trust me.

He felt like he was drowning. But it didn't matter how low he fell, as long as his teammates were alright. He was already lost anyway, trapped in his own web of lies, tangling in more with every move.

Suddenly, he thought of Loki again.

He screwed his eyes shut with a wince. Fucking nonsense. Exactly what was wrong with him – how could he pity Loki in his situation ? The demi-god liked deception. He had never experienced the powerless unease of the unwilling liar. He enjoyed his lies and tricks and traps. There were no parallels to be drawn.

“Alright” Steve nodded. “But Clint, I'm sorry – you must go into psychiatry as well. We can't brush it aside.”

Clint stiffened.

“Cap – Steve – I can't.”

“That's the very reason you should.”

Sitwell would make him burst. Sitwell would gut him open. He would see through the web. And there was too much focus on Clint already.

“It's procedure” Natasha murmured. “You can't let an agent on his own after serious trauma.”

“It's not – ”

Clint cut himself off. Steve and Natasha wouldn't let it go. Even Bruce and Tony didn't seem opposed to the idea.

He had to derail them again.

And he knew just the man for the job.

He addressed a quick prayer for forgiveness to Natasha, then nodded. “Alright” he said. “Alright. I'll talk to someone. But not Sitwell.”

Steve nodded. Luckily, Sitwell had been his shrink too, albeit for only a few short sessions – the super-soldier had been declared back on the saddle after Manhattan. And as though the Universe needed balance, Clint had then taken his place on the crazy couch. Steve, though, must remember Sitwell's nagging questions and his unfaltering smile.

“Fair enough" he said. "But who else do you have in mind ?”

Clint licked his lips, then said, “Coulson.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Coulson" Tony repeated.

"Yeah" Clint said calmly, although his heart was pounding against his ribs. "He knows me. He knows Loki. He'll be unfazed by it all and he'll keep a cool head."

"Clint" Steve murmured. "The agent Coulson is dead."

The archer looked up and played Crazy Bingo. Steve was a hundred percent sure he had lost it. Tony looked like he wasn't certain. Bruce had already understood – smart guy. Thor was still staring at Loki. And Natasha was unimpressed with his stunt. Hopefully, she would think Clint had only disclosed the secret because he really hated Sitwell's face.

"Eh..." Clint winced. "No, he's not really dead."

"Yes, he is" Steve said softly.

"No he's not."

The super-soldier stared at him. "Jesus" he said after a while. "He's not dead."

"I did wonder" Bruce murmured. "On the footage, it looked like the spear pierced through the lung."

"It was the lung" Loki confirmed in a cool voice from behind Clint.

Thor glared terribly at him, but the archer didn't have to turn round to know that Loki only smirked in answer.

"What the fuck" Tony said, very pale. "Why did Fury let us believe – "

"You shouldn't have told them" Natasha groaned.

They all turned to her. "You knew ?"

"Of course" she said, a bit wearily. "The director wanted to keep it a secret. A dead operative is always useful."

"Well I need him now" Clint shrugged. "It's not like they're going to shout it from the rooftops anyway."

Natasha sighed heavily. "I can try and contact him" she said.

"It will be easier to keep it off the record if Sitwell's not involved" Steve pointed out. "I'm sure Coulson won't mind reporting to us directly."

The archer laced and unlaced his fingers nervously. "You know" he muttered. "I appreciate your concern and all, but you could just have asked me how I was doing."

"How are you doing ?" Bruce asked instantly.

Clint's eyes snapped at him. The doctor stared back, serenely.

Loki let out a imperceptible scoff, as though saluting Bruce's move, and Clint knew he had lost. Because even with the best will in world, he couldn't answer that he was fine.

He dropped his head. "Alright" he mumbled with a gesture of defeat.

Steve hesitated, then glanced behind Clint at Loki. "About what you need... I mean, physically, the drug flashbacks – "

"That's" Clint cut him off, "something I'd rather discuss with Coulson, not with my team leader."

His throat tightened when he realized that he was probably off the team for now. Steve didn't confirm it, though.

Didn't contradict it either.

"No problem" he nodded. He paused for a second, then added, "Of course, if Loki needs help in any way – "

"No" Loki said.

Thor straightened up. "Brother, you ought – "

"Shut. Up" the demi-god said with terrifying composure.

The thunderer fell silent. Clint wished he could have dismissed people's concern so easily. Loki's pride had been sensitive even before this whole clusterfuck ; people would tip-toe around him even more now that they thought they knew his most intimate secret.

This was really humiliating. Loki had not resented Clint in the slightest for his lie, though. Which meant the truth was even more shameful to him.

And God, did the archer understand. Because he knew that he would have deemed himself insane only a few months ago. It wasn't something you could really accept when you weren't feeling it. Heck, even now, Clint couldn't be a hundred percent sure that it wasn't a mental illness.

But submission – true willing submission – was such a precise, demanding, complex thing. Almost an art, really. And so fucking rare. Most people wouldn't even dream of it – it required such unbelievable amounts of trust, too. It was so easy for it to derail. So easy to get on your knees and think yourself less, think yourself weak. So easy for it to eat you away from the inside, days after a session, to let it invade your life, to feel only shame and incomprehension towards yourself.

And it hadn't been like that with Loki. Or rather it had – only once, because of Clint himself. And Loki, god of Chaos, Earth's greatest threat, had held him and reassured him and told him it would be alright.

Clint rubbed his eyes. Maybe he did need to talk to someone.

But he wouldn't be able to talk about what really mattered, and in the end, it would only make things worse.

 

*

 

The rest of the day slipped past in a haze. Tony and Jarvis dug through SHIELD's files and were quick to find evidence of Coulson's survival. The billionaire made an angry phonecall to Fury who just sighed and told him to keep the secret and agreed for them all to come and visit him sometimes, "but it doesn't mean in any way that I upgraded your global level of clearance, Stark." To which Tony snorted and brutally hang up and that was it. Resurrection was kind of a simple business after all.

Although it could have been much, much worse, Clint felt pretty depressed. Sure, Loki would live and Sitwell would leave him alone. But his teammates thought that he had a mental disease and needed to be fixed.

He knew, he knew he had lied to them and that therefore he couldn't decently be hurt by their misplaced concern. But it didn't make much difference. He was quite sure it would have been even worse if he had told them the truth. They were horrified enough by the idea of unwilling urges ; what if he was to tell them that it wasn't the serum, but himself, merely himself craving torture at the hands of his arch enemy ?

What worried him the most, thought, was that it was indeed over. Clint was absolutely certain Tony would now monitor his floor as well to protect him from what he thought was reluctant – at best – intercourse. For now, the archer felt okay – dejected and gloomy, but clear-headed enough. Maybe he was finally getting more hardy.

It couldn't last forever, though. And Loki would get fidgety as well. His months at the Tower had been surprisingly quiet. But now that he had lost his main source of distraction, he would seek dominance in other places and hell would very likely break loose again.

One way or another, Clint would have to reveal the truth eventually, and it made him sick in advance.

 

*

 

Clint had hoped he could eat alone, but Natasha was already in the kitchen. The night had fallen already. The archer heated up the first thing he found in the fridge and sat down.

Natasha wasn't saying anything. She was probably waiting for him to speak first. But what could he say ? She already knew whatever justifications he could utter – not that he would elaborate on a lie anyway. He didn't have any apologies to make. Neither did she. There was nothing to be said.

Clint dropped his plate in the sink and took a deep breath.

"I'm going to bed."

"Good night" she said softly.

He just left.

 

*

 

He took a long, burning shower. It didn't really help, but the scalding water was enough to break his train of thoughts if only for a few minutes. Clint dried himself, then face-planted in his bed and tried to sleep.

He must have succeeded, since a slight brush woke him up. He frowned slightly, began to turn – and an iron grip pinned him to the mattress, choking a surprised breath out of him.

Loki's legs blocked his own as he straddled him, and his arms got pulled and twisted in his back. Clint let out another pant and struggled against him.

"No – hey !" he breathed. "You can't be here !"

"Why not ?" Loki said calmly.

"Tony's monitoring your body heat – he'll know you're -"

The demi-god's hand gripped his hair and crushed his face in the mattress.

"Barton" he said. "I intend to take you and you have no objections to make."

Clint was certain he ought to retort something to this, but Loki's vice-like grip was already beginning to knock his very thoughts into a submissive shape. "I – " he tried. "It doesn't – "

"Worry not" Loki murmured. "I left an imprint in my floor. Enough to fool the sensors."

"What about the sensors in this floor ?" Clint breathed – then bit back a yell when Loki tightened his grip with that inhuman strength.

"Stop thinking" the demi-god said. "Raise your head."

The archer obeyed, tilting his head back ever so slightly. Something soft came over his face, then tightened around his eyes.

Clint stiffened. Not this – not a blindfold. A blindfold was his greatest power taken away from him. He shifted his head without thinking, trying to take it off.

"Stop" Loki said calmly.

Clint was beginning to breathe faster. He shifted his head again in a jerky movement. The demi-god pressed him down, grabbed his hair to keep him in place – and bit him between his shoulder and neck, sharp, harder, harder until Clint muffled a scream in the mattress.

Loki stopped sinking his teeth in, but kept them around the flesh and licked the trickling blood. The archer shuddered with all his body and let out another broken noise, but although his breathing was very fast, it wasn't accelerating anymore. The bite reminded him very effectively that he had other ways of knowing what Loki was doing. As he was, lying on his stomach, he couldn't have seen much anyway. He let his head fall back on the pillow, panting and closing his eyes under the blindfold, trying to gather as much information as he could. He could feel the weight of the demi-god, the hand crushing his wrists together in the small of his back, and the other clenching in his hair.

Loki finally loosened the vice of his teeth.

"Tonight you are blind."

"Yes, sir" Clint breathed.

He thought he could feel Loki's lips stretching in a smile, but he was so confused he couldn't be sure.

Fingers brushed over his mouth, then pushed a ball-gag against his lips, forced it between his jaws. Clint opened his mouth to accommodate it, but he couldn't help twisting his wrists nervously and tensing again. First the blindfold, now this. Loki had never muzzled him before when they were together. Something was definitely off.

The demi-god strapped it tight behind his head. Clint squirmed and worked his jaw around the rubber ball, feeling himself beginning to drool already. Was Loki worried he would make too much noise ? But nobody could hear them here – Clint had a whole goddamn floor to himself. He was much more concerned about the heat sensors which could betray them at any –

wait.

He went very still, panting through his nose, the bite aching and burning in his neck. And yes – the demi-god was definitely getting colder. At first, his skin was pleasantly fresh ; it grew icy in a matter of minutes, as though there was a core of stone radiating coldness beneath the flesh.

Clint swallowed around the gag and resumed his harsh breathing. What was happening Loki didn't want him to see. And he had gagged him because he wasn't allowed to ask.

"Spread your legs" the demi-god murmured.

The archer shivered, and complied. Loki released his hair ; a strap of leather wrapped around Clint's crossed wrists before the demi-god released them as well. His hands trailed down Clint's body and cupped his ass, kneading it with long, cold fingers.

Clint squirmed again and let out a muffled sound. Loki huffed a small laugh, then without any further warning, pushed two fingers inside. Clint jumped and tugged at his bonds, confused with the simultaneous burn from the stretching and the coldness emanating from Loki's skin. The demi-god shoved the digits as far as he could and Clint buckled again, shivers running through his body. He swallowed again around the gag and struggled almost by reflex.

Loki's other hand landed flat between his shoulder blades and pinned him down with that inhuman strength, choking the breath out of him for a minute. It was terribly cold as well, like a piece of ice in the middle of his back, slowly desensitizing the skin. Clint tried to catch his breath, then moaned when a third finger pushed in. Loki scissored them, opening him up slowly, obviously reveling in the way Clint jumped each time the icy digits moved inside him.

It was weird, the sharpened contact making it feel all the more intimate, all the more degrading, and Clint was driven half-crazy with curiosity – the other half being all sensory overload. To know that Loki was going to fuck him with this body of ice wasn't making it any easier.

The demi-god pushed in a fourth finger, making Clint clench and flutter around them. Then suddenly it all grew even colder, as though Loki had brutally lowered his inner thermostat. The archer squirmed and struggled against the hand pinning him down, which now felt like it was sucking the breath right out of his lungs. It was so cold it burned – fuck, he was going to get chilblain ! What the hell was Loki playing at with this goddamn spell ?

The fingers crooked inside him and he buckled again, moaning loudly behind his gag. The demi-god gave a nasty chuckle, then pulled out, braced on his hips – and took him in one thrust, making him arch on the bed. It was cold – cold cold cold, all the way inside, and it was such a foreign sensation that Clint just stopped thinking and struggled like mad to get the demi-god off him. Loki shoved even deeper in retaliation, making him cry out behind the gag. He leaned forward and his chest was like a plate of ice against Clint's back.

"Cold enough for you ?" he breathed with a fierceness the archer didn't understand.

He was pinned down and quartered against the mattress and there was definitely a missing piece here, but there was no way he could solve the puzzle with Loki buried into him and that deadly coldness going up his veins as though he had been plunged in the Arctic ocean. When the demi-god snapped his hips, Clint screamed behind the gag – then screamed again, with an obvious begging undertone.

Contrary to all expectations, Loki stopped.

He stayed still for a minute, breathing heavily, as though coming back to his senses. Clint was shivering with cold and shock beneath him, goosebumps appearing and disappearing on his skin. Suddenly, Loki let go of his bruised hip and put his cold fingers on the bloody bite in his neck.

The sudden relief caused Clint to relax despite himself. Immediately after, he realized the winter was receding, swallowed back into Loki's core. The demi-god was still abnormally cold, but it didn't hurt anymore. When he started moving with slow, deep thrusts, Clint's toes curled and he moaned in bliss behind his gag. He shouldn't have been able to switch from pain and near panic to ecstasy so fast. He was completely submitted to Loki's whims – to his defense, the discrepancy between the demi-god's cool skin and his own inner heat was just brain-melting.

Loki kept it slow and careful, as though trying to make up for his former brutality. After a while, he pulled out. He must have come, but Clint was so out of it he hadn't even noticed – or maybe it was the cold numbing him from the inside. The demi-god's hands were still delightfully heavy on his hips.

He suddenly slapped Clint's inner thigh hard, making him jump awake from his haze.

"Up on your knees."

Clint complied, suddenly very aware of the blindfold again now that Loki wasn't touching him all over anymore. He knelt with his hands tied in his back and bowed his head. He was rock-hard, and the thought of Loki staring at him while he was so exposed did not help him get a clearer mind.

His bonds fell and Loki let go of him completely. Clint stayed on his knees, blind and mute, and he was very rapidly tensing again with the awareness of his blind, helpless state. It was all too confusing today.

Eventually, Loki's voice fell down like a sentence.

"Touch yourself."

Clint's breath caught somewhere in his throat. He didn't move, frozen with surprise and apprehension.

He should have expected it, but of course he couldn't see it coming – the slap jerked his head on the side. He could almost feel Loki still boiling with repressed energy, simmering anger, as though he was taking a long-awaited revenge.

"I said" he hissed, "touch yourself, Barton."

Clint swallowed back his humiliation and grabbed his shaft, collecting pre-come at the head to lube himself roughly. He hated this with a passion – he couldn't even be sure that Loki was indeed staring at him. Maybe he was gone, leaving him to jerk off alone. The archer was almost tempted to take off the blindfold, but if Loki was still there, he would torture him to death for that. So he gritted his teeth and began to move his hand, feeling the silky skin move around the hard limb.

"Go on" Loki said in a low voice.

So he was still there. Clint sucked in a breath and let his head fall down in a foolish attempt to hide something of himself – but his eyes were already out of sight, and as to the rest of his body, there wasn't much he could do.

"You are mine" the demi-god growled. "And you will do everything I say. Now keep going until you come."

Clint almost moaned and tightened his grip.

"Faster" Loki hissed. "Harsher. One day, I will make you torture yourself, Barton. Today I want to see you falling apart before me."

His voice was like a poison injected right in Clint's veins and increasing his arousal tenfold with each word.

"You have no idea how you look like, do you" Loki said with a smirk in his voice. "And this is what drives you crazy, Hawkeye. I will blindfold you every time from now on. Maybe I will strike you with a spell to make you blind, and have you beg to retrieve your sight."

Clint would have liked to struggle against Loki's words like he could struggle against his bonds ; but at the moment he was free, he was the one inflicting pleasure on himself, and he had no way to shield himself from this torment. An intangible vice was even worse than actual ropes.

"For there will be other times" Loki went on. "You thought Stark could stop me from claiming you as my own ? Sort out your own lies, Barton ; but never forget that the truth is with us. If there is only pain to remind you of it, I will brand you again. If you can only say my name when you are screaming..."

Suddenly, his lips were brushing his ear. "...then I shall make you scream."

Clint went rigid and came in his own hand with a helpless pant, shaking uncontrollably as he pulsed all over his fingers, breathless and disheveled.

Loki unclasped the gag and grabbed Clint's wrist to raise his soiled hand between them. The archer shivered and parted his lips by reflex, feeling that craved sense of perfection pulsing together with his heartbeat. The demi-god kept him there, though ; his grip was still very cold, but the archer had stopped asking himself about it.

"That was all I wanted to say" Loki murmured.

He let him go.

"Now lick it clean. When you are finished, you can take off the blindfold."

He got up and Clint heard his footsteps fading away.

He stayed there on his own, puzzled with his sudden freedom.

Only a few weeks ago, he would have wiped his fingers on the sheets. But he thought of his friends, to whom he had lied. He thought of Coulson's office waiting for him the next day. He thought of Fury and Sitwell.

None of these people could ever understand why he sucked his fingers clean, then kept his eyes closed as he took off the blindfold and went to sleep with a heavy sigh.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clint felt like walking through a landmine field as he went up the corridors of steel. The Helicarrier had once been the closest thing he had from a home. Then Manhattan had happened and everything had kept going downhill from here.

Coulson had been the first one to trust Natasha after Clint had brought her in. He had been their handler ever since. The archer couldn't remember ever having a conversation with him that hadn't been about a past, ongoing or future mission. What they had developed over the years was not friendship. Not even mutual respect, since this had been there from the beginning. They were just... functional. SHIELD cogs, enjoying their respective parts, each on one end of the coms. Coulson making the call, Clint shooting the arrow.

The archer stopped dead and rubbed his face with a wince.

He had told himself that his urges had come out from nowhere after the serum thing. But he had been actually fulfilling them for years without realizing it. He remembered Coulson's voice in his ear, manipulating him from afar. The serenity that seized him during the missions, the strange contentment in knowing that he was like a remote-controlled puppet, the enjoyment of their shared smoothness.

He had missed it terribly after Manhattan ; and he was only realizing it now, because he had forbidden himself to mourn. He remembered Fury dropping it on him after the battle.

Coulson didn't make it.

He hadn't even resented Loki at this second – the hatred had come later, and only to feed what he already felt in the wake of the mind-control. No, he had just felt empty, and he had told himself that it was his weariness choking down his very pain. But it was actually the cogwheels stopping and bursting like an old watch.

Something had died there that couldn't be revived, not even through Coulson's actual resurrection. Clint wasn't a SHIELD agent anymore, and he wasn't a hitman either – he was a superhero, he was supposed to be Captain America's equal ; and although Steve was the leader, Clint had never been freer on the battlefield. It had nagged at him more and more until Loki's hands pinning his hips down had made him burst in frenzy.

He had always needed it. It just had gotten a lot clearer in the past months.

He wondered how it would feel to get on his knees for Coulson. To let him take control again, this time in mutual awareness of the game. He tried to remember that calm voice in his ear, making him notch and draw and shoot.

But Phil Coulson had never reached out, never taken that final step Clint didn't even know he craved. He had never gripped the archer's hair, forced him down and declared him his. And why would he have ? He wasn't fucked in the head. The thought of owning people had most likely never crossed his mind ; he was too respectful for that.

Loki knew better. He knew how dark desires could get. He knew that some people wanted to crawl and whine, to be left drenched in sweat and drool and tears. He knew that those people would never admit it to themselves, and that hence they should be taken without their consent. He knew that respect sometimes ought to be removed from the equation, that violence was a part of the world and that good didn't necessarily meant right.

And it was a horrible thing to say. Loki had forced and tried to force people and it was a good thing that he was stopped.

Except this was what Clint needed. If he had been among the crown in Stuttgart, he would have bolted up on his feet – in hope that Loki would strike him down.

How could Coulson – how could anyone – ever understand that ?

 

“Agent Barton ?”

 

He blinked and realized he was still standing in the middle of the corridor. He gave a dry nod at whoever had just talked to him and began walking again until he found himself before Coulson's door.

He knocked and heard that calm, unfazed voice he remembered so well.

“Come in.”

 

*

 

Okay, that was weird. That was a very special brand of weird.

On the right corner, Phil Coulson, SHIELD agent, phlegmatic extraordinaire, took a spear to the chest only half a year ago, woke up from a deep coma only three months ago. Right.

On the left corner, Clint Barton, Avenger, supposedly victim of prolonged exposure to a powerful drug which had left him mentally damaged. Okay.

Both of them standing in Coulson's impossibly neat office, Clint in his battle gear, Phil in his suit.

“Coffee ?” the agent offered, and Clint thought he could hear common sense sobbing in a corner somewhere.

He nodded without a word, then sat in front of the pristine desk.

Coulson poured him a mug and handed it to him with a thin smile, before taking one for himself. Clint took a sip. The coffee was very good and very black ; it did wonders to clear his head, but this was still fucking weird.

“Looking good for a corpse, sir” he muttered.

“You're not too bad either” Coulson said, watching him above the rim of his mug.

Clint nodded absently.

“So” the agent said.

He put down his coffee and smiled without a trace of pity or worry in his eyes. Clint felt only a tiny bit grateful for it. Coulson had never assumed Clint Barton was damaged, not even that time when the archer had almost passed out from blood loss – they had done the debrief with the archer lying down on his stretcher and Coulson holding a medipack against his wound. Maybe his trust in Clint's toughness was what had helped him being tough.

“What should we talk about ?” his handler said.

“You tell me” the archer said. “Are you even a proper therapist ?”

“You're the one who requested me specifically.”

Clint shrugged. “Guess I wanted to see how you were doing.”

He looked up. “How's it like, being dead ?”

“Not so different” the agent said with a thin smile. “A bit less paperwork.”

“Now that sounds tempting.”

Coulson smiled, then took another sip. Clint sighed.

“I don't have much to say” he mumbled. “I'm faring well, sir.”

“Faring well” his handler repeated.

He glanced up at him. “You were regularly coerced into having sex with the alien that enslaved you, nearly killed me, and succeeded in killing thousands others. And you are faring well.”

Clint worked his jaw. “No other choice.”

At least this wasn't too far from the truth.

“You'll be happy to know that Steve Rogers still wants you on his team” Coulson said lightly. “Because you are indeed faring well. When he briefed me, he made a point in saying that you've done an excellent work these past few months.”

The archer nodded dryly in thanks. Coulson finished his coffee, then put the mug on the desk with a soft clack.

“We can hire a professional to fulfill your needs” he said. “At least until Stark and Banner figure out a solution. As a last resort, be sure that we will question Doom. We've had our eye on him for a while now anyway.”

“Even I know that to attack Latveria over me would be stupid” Clint snapped. “As for my needs, sir, thanks but I'll manage.”

“With Loki ?” Coulson said as though it was nothing.

Clint took a deep breath.

“I'll manage” he repeated. “And he'll manage as well, I guess. It was simpler before is all.”

“Simpler with him” his handler said. “Smoother.”

The archer breathed out calmly. A sudden flashback struck him – tied and bound in a begging position, Loki's hand under his chin, Loki's nasty smirk, a pulsing hatred in his stomach.

“I wouldn't say smooth.”

“I bet you wouldn't” Coulson said in a low voice. “But you did – ”

“ – fare well. Yes, sir.”

“So why do you need me ?”

“I don't, sir. You can't help with the serum.”

“Indeed I can't.”

“And it's not a mental disease.”

“I never thought it was.”

“So I have nothing to do here.”

“Since you're faring well.”

Coulson smiled at him.

He laced his hands together. “Well – you're dismissed, Barton.”

Clint instantly got up. “Thank you, sir.”

He had already grabbed the handle when Coulson said calmly :

“Same hour tomorrow.”

 

Clint closed his eyes.

 

“Why...” he began.

“You just thanked me for dismissing you” his handler said. “Loki taught you well, but there's still hair-thin cracks in your lies.”

The archer felt like a nuclear bomb had exploded in his stomach and spun round without even realizing it. “Loki didn't teach me how to lie !” he yelled.

And just as brutally, he stopped.

Coulson was smiling calmly, but his eyes were etched with weary crinkles.

“Oh” he said softly. “What did he teach you then ?”

Clint said nothing.

“You can't expect me to believe that this was purely practical sex” his handler went on. “You can't expect me to ignore what I hear in your answers.”

“And what do you hear ?” Clint breathed.

“There is something you need help with” Coulson said quietly. “There is something still nagging at you. I just don't know what it is yet. But we'll figure it out.”

He smiled.

“Same hour tomorrow.”

 

*

 

That night, Clint didn't even try to sleep. He was sitting on the bed, fully clothed, rubbing the crook of his elbow where Bruce had drawn his blood a few hours earlier. Coulson's words were still echoing in his head.

There is something you need help with.

The door opened behind him. Clint didn't turn, listening to Loki's soft footsteps as he approached. He did not react when the bed dipped under the demi-god's weight ; nor did he move when the unearthly cold hands fastened a blindfold over his eyes.

Loki's hand trailed over his lips. The archer obediently parted them and sucked the cold digits. It was like licking an icicle in winter, except it wasn't melting in his mouth.

Loki pulled out his hand, then got up to walk around Clint still sitting on the bed. When he faced him, the archer heard a faint rustle of clothes ; and he knew exactly what the demi-god was doing – reaching out to grab his hair.

His left hand darted up blindly and gripped the demi-god's wrist first.

“No” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Loki froze.

“No ?” he repeated, as though he ignored the meaning of that word.

“I'm not bowing to a coward” Clint said.

The silence which followed was deafening.

“A coward, Barton ?” the demi-god in a deceptively calm tone.

“How else would you call a man hiding from his slave ?”

Silence.

“I am not hiding.”

Clint's hand tightened on Loki's wrist. “Then let me see you.”

The demi-god did not answer and this was what shocked Clint the most. What he heard, in this wordless hesitation, was true fear.

Then Loki snapped his hand free.

“Who are you to question my deeds ? If I want you blind, blind you shall be.”

“Oh sure, let's pretend it's just a kink and – ”

Loki punched him in the face. Clint tasted blood in his mouth ; he spat, then grinned and wondered if his teeth were red. “Hitting a blind guy” he said “That's low, even for you – ”

The demi-god grabbed his collar and twisted it, nearly choking him. They stayed still for a few seconds, breathing heavily.

“I saw Coulson today” Clint said. “He offered me help.”

Loki's hand clenched around his collar.

“Help” he repeated in a low voice.

“Yeah” the archer breathed. “So maybe I should tell him everything – ”

Jarvis's voice fell from the ceiling.

“AVENGERS ASSEMBLE.”

They both froze.

Clint was still grinning ; he had no idea how Loki could look like at the moment.

“Well that's unfortunate” he said. “You gonna let me go ? Or are we playing hide and seek for a bit long – ”

The end of his sentence got lost when Loki lifted him from the bed and slammed him against the wall. Clint's feet were only slightly brushing the floor. The demi-god's breaths were like clouds of pulverized ice on his skin.

“Gonna kill me then” the archer gasped. “That's another option. Better than whatever it is that we have, anyway.”

Loki's free hand forced its way between Clint's thighs and grabbed his balls through his jeans. The archer froze.

“Impertinent mortal” the demi-god hissed.

“Gonna crush me ?” the archer panted. “But you won't crush me for real. You don't have the guts. You never go all the way. Whatever you do. You lack conviction.”

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE.”

“It's you” Clint breathed. “Coulson was right – there's still something that doesn't work, and it's you. Every time we've got to start over. Every time you've got to make the same promises.”

He struggled, trying to catch his breath. Loki pressed him against the wall.

“Come on !” the archer yelled. “You've always known what I needed until now. And you're the only one who can give it to me. Or so I thought.”

He felt Loki's fingers around his crotch, knew they would squeeze, wanted them to – but nothing happened.

“Can't do it ?” he panted. “Won't do it ? Are you not like me ? Are you just playing another game ?”

“AVENGERS ASSEMBLE.”

“You are insane” the demi-god murmured in a simmering voice.

Clint stopped, sucking in shaky breaths, still hopelessly blind under Loki's hopelessly cold grip.

“I'm insane” he said.

He let out a mirthless little laugh.

“Maybe. Maybe I am. At least I'm coming to terms with it. You...”

He pushed against the wall – and Loki actually released him.

“...you had a thousand years to cope and you still can't let me look at you.”

“You have no idea what you are talking about” Loki spat.

“Yes I do. You think I don't recognize shame ? Fear ? There's something you don't want me to see. I gave you everything. Yet you won't fucking take it !”

He waited, breathless.

“Coward” he hissed.

He half-expected another blow, but nothing came. The archer breathed in one, two, three times, then grabbed his blindfold and ripped it off.

 

Loki was nowhere to be seen.

 

“AVENGERS ASSEMBLE.”

“Fuck” Clint growled, then ran out of the room.

 

*

 

“Where the hell were you ?” Steve yelled at him.

“I'll explain later” the archer said, jumping into the pilot's seat to buckle down.

The Quinjet blasted off along with Iron Man towards the cloudy skies.

 

Somehow, only eight minutes later, Clint found himself on his own, on the edge of a roof, watching his best friend fall to her death.

 

“NAT !” he screamed.

 

“Hawkeye, get Widow, get Widow now –”

He was aiming at her, but he was petrified, she was falling down – a hundred and thirty stories, Jesus Christ – and she couldn't stabilize her fall, and he couldn't make the call, couldn't shoot a grappling arrow at her, he'd have to put it through her collar and it was just impossible, not with how tight her clothes were, with the way she was spinning on herself, black body and red hair, and he was Hawkeye, he should have been able to take the shot anyway but he couldn't see a thing, it was all too fast, too chaotic, blurry lines and –

– Thor – Thor ! Thor, bless him, Clint fell on his knees on the roof and looked at them, down, so further down, the red hair and the red cape swirling together, and he put his head against the burning cement and closed his useless eyes...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It wasn't your fault.”

Clint shook his head. His own arms were wrapped around himself and his whole body was shivering violently.

“Nobody could have taken that shot” Coulson said softly.

“I could have” the archer said in a low, dry, angry voice. “If I hadn't been...”

He shut up and pressed his face against his hands.

“Clint” Coulson said. “It was unprofessional of Steve to ask you this. He should have known it was an impossible call.”

He gave him a tiny smile. “You got him used to miracles.”

“Yeah, well, I'm not a miracle-worker anymore” Clint muttered.

Coulson frowned slightly.

“What do you mean, anymore ?”

The archer sighed, then scowled. He could feel it inside him, that sensation of internal bleeding again, as though he had disrupted something vital. He had risen up against Loki and now he was unbalanced, just like Loki himself had been after Thor forced him down.

“Remember what you said about me needing help ?” he mumbled.

Suddenly Coulson was very still.

“I remember” he said.

The archer rubbed his face again, then unzipped his tactical vest and lifted the hem of his shirt.

“I don't know if you're gonna be able to see it” he said, turning his back to his handler. “It's supposed to be hidden, but after what happened...”

“I see it” Phil said.

His voice was completely neutral. He reached out and the archer stiffened. “Don't.”

Nobody but Loki should ever touch him there.

Coulson dropped his hand. “What does it mean ?” he murmured.

The archer swallowed and pulled his shirt down.

“He told me it was... his personal rune. So that's his name, basically. In Old Norse. I guess.”

“You were conscious ?” Coulson asked unblinkingly.

A full-body shiver shook the archer again. “At first, yes.”

His handler grew a shade paler. He reached out, as though he wanted to lift Clint's shirt again to soothe what could not be soothed anymore, but his hand dropped again.

“I bet he enjoyed it” he said, and the dark undertones in his voice gave Clint the chills.

He could not deny that. He was chained to the wooden cross at the time, but the arousal in the demi-god's voice had been unmistakable.

“I was willing” he muttered.

Coulson stared at him.

“Excuse me ?” he said after a long while.

“It was consensual” Clint said in an even lower voice.

Shame was clawing at his stomach like a living animal. He shivered again. All he could think about was how Loki had not hurt him a few hours before – had not resisted Clint's struggles, had not shut up his insolent mouth, had not made him bow and beg for forgiveness. It was a physical pain, a feeling of emptiness, a blood-filled hole in his body.

“I don't understand” Coulson said. “This can't be an effect of the flashbacks...”

“It's not.”

His handler paused.

“There are no flashbacks” he said slowly.

Clint shook his head – it looked like a spasm.

A heavy silence followed.

The archer closed his eyes. He felt like complete shit, and not only because he was such a mess he had almost let his friend die. Coulson had been his handler for years, and yet, Clint had barely felt any remorse until then for having willingly offered himself to Loki.

“I'm sorry” he said in a low voice. “I wouldn't have done this if you'd stayed dead.”

“You would rather betray me than betray my memory ?” Coulson said, very pale but very calm.

Clint took a deep breath.

“I wouldn't – ” he said, but his throat dried again almost instantly, so he had to stop and cough. “I would never have allowed it from your murderer. That's all.”

Coulson gave a minute nod, but he lost a bit of his paleness.

“Thank you” he said. “I suppose.”

He waited for a while, gathering his thoughts.

“I'm trying, Barton, but I can't think of a logical explanation” he said eventually. “You hated him. And you were straight.”

“I still do” Clint said automatically. “I still am.”

“Then I'm even more lost. You're going to have to tell me.”

The archer stayed silent for a long time. Eventually, he looked up, but averted his eyes immediately.

“I'm – ”

He swallowed.

“I'm a sub.”

God, those three little words felt as though he had vomited his own guts with them. He started shaking uncontrollably and tightened his self-embrace.

“A submissive” he spat. “Do you know what it is ?”

“I think so” Coulson murmured. “You enjoy... taking unconditional commands."

Clint nodded jerkily.

“You like to be... restrained ? Hurt ?”

The archer screwed his eyes shut.

“And you went to Loki ?”

For the first time, Coulson's calm voice had cracked – and it strangely soothed Clint's nauseous stress. Because what horrified his handler wasn't the fact that Clint had felt the need to be branded, whipped or raped ; no, it was his complete lack of self-preservation. As usual, actually.

“You should have asked for professional help !”

“No” Clint snapped angrily. “I didn't want you to know. Any of you. I didn't want you to think – ”

He shook his head. “ – to think of me like that.”

“But Loki ?” Coulson repeated, as though hoping Clint would suddenly realize what he had done if he put enough emphasis on the name.

“He owned me once before” Clint muttered, rubbing his face. “He already knew everything about me. Even the ugliest parts. I had nothing – nothing to lose with him. And I certainly didn't give a shit what he would think of me. He could give me – what I needed.”

“To be branded ?”

“To be owned.”

Coulson stayed silent for a long time.

“Barton – ” he murmured. “He could have killed you.”

“No” Clint said. “Wasn't in the contract.”

“The contract ?”

“We have – had – an agreement. There were some things he couldn't do. No killing, no maiming.”

The branding had rendered it obsolete, but Coulson didn't have to know that.

“And... what could he do ?” his handler said, sounding half-horrified, half-fascinated.

“Anything else” Clint said. “As long as I stayed functional. Anything he wanted.”

He took a deep, shaky breath.

“Jesus” Coulson muttered.

Clint curled on himself, grabbed two fistfuls of his hair as though he was about to rip it off.

“It's like... it's like an actual drug” he panted. “I need it. I need it so bad. Fuck, Phil, I'm sorry – I'm so sorry. I don't know why I'm like this.”

His handler stared at him for a long minute. Around them, SHIELD agents were running at their stations now that the immediate threat was gone. There was a blue-and -red stain at the edge of Clint's vision – Steve – but when it started coming nearer, Coulson waved it away.

“Clint” he said softly. “I watched you on the news.”

Clint's throat tightened.

“You've been even more efficient in the past months and I didn't think it was possible” Coulson went on in a subdued voice.

The archer nodded stiffly. “Thank you.”

“Don't thank me. It's just plain facts.”

Clint looked up, and they stared at each other for a long while. The archer wondered if this wasn't actually what disturbed Coulson the most. Not the fact that his agent claimed to be in need of submission, but the evidence that the fulfillment of his needs grounded him and made him stronger, sharper, better.

“Well” Coulson said. “What I told you yesterday still stands. We could find you a personal... coach.”

Clint shook his head. “Thanks” he repeated in a despondent voice. “But it's not gonna work.”

“Why not ?” Coulson's features darkened. “If this is a spell – ”

“No – the brand's not – magic. It's... look, I don't think – I don't think you understand. A game would do nothing for me. What I need – it's beyond... pain or restraints. I need abuse, Phil.”

He had never phrased it so clearly, not even to himself.

“And nobody decent can give me that.”

Loki had let him catch a glimpse of what true submission could have been. For a second here, Clint had believed in his own status as a slave - Loki had fucking branded him. In the end, it was unraveling, because of his own greed - but he had tasted it and now he couldn't help wanting it all. True submission - no professional could ever give him that ; he would always know he could make them stop if he wanted.

“Clint” Coulson repeated. “It really might be a spell.”

“No – I thought about it, and I realized... Before Manhattan, I was already...”

He swallowed. He really didn't want Phil to know the part he had played unconsciously all these years. “It wasn't this strong yet. But it's not magic. It's not PTSD. It's... it's me. I'm wired like that.”

Phil stared at him.

“Do you need it ? Right now ?”

“Yes” Clint said in a wan voice. “Yes. More than anything.”

“I can try” Coulson offered.

The archer just gaped at him.

But at the same second, he had the confirmation that he was trapped with Loki until the end of his life. Because Coulson had asked the permission – and it was enough to ruin it before it had even started. Loki would have taken him on the spot, and it would have been real – for his pleasure, not Clint's. Or not only Clint's.

Coulson could do a lot of things and he certainly could have pulled off a good dom impression. But he couldn't derive true pleasure from the humiliation of others. He couldn't abuse.

“It means a lot” Clint muttered. “Really, that's... thank you, Phil. But I'm...”

Loki's.

He took a deep breath. “It wouldn't work out.”

Coulson nodded, and in his eyes there was a relief he couldn't hide.

“Okay” he said. “Look – I'll take you to him. But we'll have a lot to discuss afterward.”

“I'm sorry” the archer repeated desperately. “I'm sorry.”

“You are not allowed to apologize again today” Coulson said calmly. “You are not allowed to tell anyone else everything you just told me.”

Even that slightest hint of discipline helped Clint feeling imperceptibly better. He nodded and swallowed thickly.

“Thanks.”

Coulson's screen wrist suddenly emitted a tiny beep.

The agent gaped at it for a second. “Shit” he murmured.

Coulson swearing was horrible news. “What ?” Clint said hurriedly.

His handler looked up at him.

“Loki's gone.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Agent Barton ?”

Coulson did not look up. “He's in session.”

“It's an emergency.”

“It'll be over in four minutes. Please, have a seat.”

Sitwell sat in front of him and stared. Coulson didn't look up ; he serenely flipped through a folder before putting a stamp on it.

“Mandatory discipline” Sitwell blurted.

Phil tapped a stack of sheets and put it on the desk.

“So you found out” he said lightly. “Good for you.”

“You've put Barton through this for weeks. And all under Fury's nose.”

“That is correct.”

“This time, you're going down, Coulson.”

“I hope you haven't told the director yet” he said composedly. “He has a lot on his mind already.”

“You bet I will tell him !” the shrink barked. “You'll never work as a handler again. I'll make sure you're stuck in the Antarctic base with clearance level 0 for the rest of your life.”

Coulson smiled at him. “Not much sense threatening a dead man, Jasper.”

Sitwell blushed, then paled. “You think this is a joke ?”

“No, but you obviously do.”

“I'm not the one playing with an agent's sanity. You think indulging in his sick games will make him better ?”

“Is BDSM a sickness to you ?” Coulson said lightly. “Then I won't ask you what you like in bed.”

He looked up. “It's been two months since Loki vanished, Sitwell. Barton told me everything the very day he escaped.”

“That Loki enslaved him again – I knew it. I was right all along. There never were any serum flashbacks. This is the reason Banner is getting nowhere !”

“Yes, very good” Phil said with a bit of impatience. “The point is – I've done my homework, Jasper, and I'm not sure you did.”

He opened another folder. “I was a field agent for a mission in Oslo, two years before Barton joined us. I had to infiltrate a sex club which was actually a cover for X-genes smugglers.”

Sitwell scowled involuntarily and Coulson gave him another warm smile. “Yes, it was a nasty little business. We took them down, of course. They were sick people, Jasper. But their cover wasn't.”

“Is that really what you thought at the time ?” the shrink growled.

“No” Phil admitted. “I didn't understand much of it, to be honest. But like I said, I had to do some research lately, in order to protect Clint Barton the best I could. And I think this submission business is starting to make a little more sense.”

His fingers tightened slightly on the page. “Although the depth of it does frighten me.”

“This is not about this BDSM crap” Sitwell barked. “This is about Loki ! Barton was exposed to him for months – and now that he could finally break free for good, you choose to make it last ? He needs to break the streak, for Christ's sake !”

“I am not sure you know what he needs” Coulson said in a mild voice.

“I don't care what he likes” the shrink said in exasperation. “I'm talking about control and how you're not helping him recovering from deep trauma !”

“Look who's talking” a dry voice said.

Sitwell jumped and spun round on his chair.

Coulson only smiled a bit wearily. “Morning, agent.”

Clint was standing in the doorframe. His breathing was deep and a bit too measured ; his bare arms were very slightly glistening with sweat. He was slipping a cuff of black cloth on his left wrist, which could have easily passed as a fashion choice. On his still-exposed right wrist, though, the tender skin was red with ligature marks.

“How was your session ?” Coulson said in a subdued voice.

“As usual” the archer said between his teeth.

He put on the other cuff to hide the rope marks, glancing at Sitwell with that sullen, displeased expression he mastered so well. “I thought no one was supposed to know. Especially not him.”

“Jasper is surprisingly persevering when it comes to you” Coulson said.

Clint shut the door with his foot before leaning against it. He rubbed his nose for a few seconds, then crossed his arms and planted his grey eyes into Sitwell's.

“You're not telling Fury” he said calmly. “You're not telling the Avengers.”

Sitwell flushed. “Barton, if you think – ”

“Shut the fuck up and listen” the archer snapped. “You've always thought I was damaged. Nuts. And you know what – maybe you're right.”

His eyes were hard as stone. “You should piss your pants all the more. Because if I suspect for one fucking second that you're going to report on me, I'm gonna take you down.”

He straightened up. “And I'm the best, Sitwell” he murmured. “They'll never know what hit you.”

The shrink froze, then turned to Coulson, who just raised his eyebrows.

“Really ? Death threats ?” the shrink choked. “And you insist he's fine ?”

“He won't go that far” the agent said softly.

He's still in the room” Clint said through gritted teeth.

Coulson glared at him, then back at Sitwell. “But you have to understand that the agent Barton does not require your help anymore. We do thank you for your work.”

“You can't dismiss me like that” Sitwell spat.

“Actually, I can” Coulson said with a hint of danger in his voice. “I am officially dead, Jasper. I answer to no one but the director himself.”

He leaned forward ever so slightly, causing Sitwell to lean back and jump when he felt Barton's presence behind him.

“I don't think you can win against the both of us” Phil murmured.

Sitwell visibly swallowed.

“You wanted to get me away from Loki” Clint said in a blank voice. “And it's fucking done. Thanks a lot. I can handle the rest on my own.”

The shrink glanced up and tried a last card. “Why do you sound like you regret him ?”

“Because I do” Clint said.

He trembled ever so slightly. “Because he marked me and I can't erase it.”

He took a step forward. “You think you can help me ? You don't understand. Nobody does. You think you can fix me ? You don't grasp how fucked-up I am. You lack scale and dimension.”

His hands shivered again, clenching and unclenching.

“You don't get it. I'm going to burst, Sitwell – ”

“No you're not” Coulson said firmly.

Suddenly, his voice was hard as steel.

“That's enough, Barton. Now here are your orders. You don't have permission to talk about this to anyone. You don't have permission to harm yourself in any way. You have fourteen hours until the next session. Now go get some rest.”

Clint stayed still, still slightly shivering. He rubbed his cuff for a second, then dropped his hand with a helpless gesture of frustration that he didn't even carry out. “Yeah” he mumbled. “Alright. Thanks.”

“Now go. I'll take it from here.”

“Sure” he mumbled, shaking his head.

He turned away and left.

Sitwell stared at the closed door for one second, then turned back to Coulson.

“What was that ?” he murmured.

The agent was rubbing his nose. “Mandatory discipline keeps him sane” he said. “But sane's not enough.”

He sighed. “Please, Sitwell” he said. “I'm trying to save my best agent here. Please don't make this any harder on me.”

“I... just want to help” the shrink murmured.

“You can help by not telling anyone.”

“Coulson, you have to take him off the field at the very least. He's a liability.”

The agent shook his head. “No. He's done an incredible work these past months, and you can't find evidence against it.”

Sitwell tightened his lips, but said nothing.

“Being on the field helps him. It's a form of self-discipline. What we must fear is idleness ; because even though I know what he needs, I can't give it to him. It's beyond us all.”

The shrink stayed silent for a long time.

“It's funny” Coulson said eventually.

“What is ?” Sitwell groaned.

“That what's the most abnormal to us isn't magic, aliens or superheroes, but misfits.”

He sighed.

“You have to stop trying to make Barton fit into your molds, Jasper. Understand that you'll break him - or, what's more likely, he'll break you.”

“This can't go on for much longer” Sitwell growled.

“I know” Coulson simply answered.

He looked up.

“I need to make a call.”

 

*

 

Clint took only a few steps in the corridor before he stopped and leaned against the cold steel with a deep breath.

The smooth metal felt good against his bare arms. His wrists were slightly burning him under the soft cuffs. He had just gotten out a two-hours session and already, he needed more.

Loki had disappeared very quietly. Jarvis had only reported that he was nowhere to be found in the Tower, and that was the last time anybody had ever heard of him. For an alien mass-murderer, he hadn't made much of a fuss.

Clint raised his right arm and traced the very thin scar wrapped around it, like the memory of a snake.

He had used the chain of his dog tags. He wasn't supposed to wear any, but he had infiltrated the army three years ago and kept them as a joke.

It hadn't been a joke when he had locked himself in the bathroom and wrapped the chain around his forearm – just like he had wrapped the black strap of his bow around his own wrists, ages ago. His hand had just done it on its own volition, and he was left staring at it with the sole feeling of lack inside him.

He had hesitated for a second, sitting on the toilet seat ; then pulled, pulled it tight, until the links dug into his flesh and he felt like he was pieced together again – when really he was deepening a bloody wound that Loki's magic wasn't there to hide.

It had only taken Coulson three days to notice.

 

“What's that ?”

Clint snapped his arm free. “Nothing.”

“Barton – ”

“I know what I'm doing.”

“Me too, I know what you're doing” Coulson had murmured.

His hand opened. “Give me the chain.”

The archer looked away. “Drop it. I'm not a fourteen-year-old girl cutting herself.”

“Give me the fucking chain, agent.”

His composed voice made the swear sound all the more weird in his mouth. Clint quirked a crooked smile and untied the chain, then threw it to his handler.

What now ?” he said. “You're like Sitwell, Phil. All you want is to hide the symptoms.”

No” Coulson declared. “This is a deal. You give me this...” He closed his fist on the blood-encrusted chain. “And I'll get you some help.”

Clint knew what that meant. He shook his head. “We talked about it. Not gonna work.”

“And this did ?”

The archer dropped his damaged arm. “A little.”

“I'll take it from here” Coulson said. “I'll help you get through this.”

Clint nodded. He would never get through 'this', because 'this' was what he was. But they both knew it already, so he didn't point it out.

And he was so desperate for someone to take charge.

“Just lock me up” he murmured. “Just declare me unfit for duty or something.”

No” Coulson repeated. “You will carry on, Barton. The Avengers still need you.”

He stuffed the chain in his pocket. “You'll report on the Helicarrier for daily sessions.”

Sessions ?”

Mandatory discipline” the agent said. “I'll pass them as therapy and serum-relief sessions.”

The shadow of a smile played on Clint's lips, then vanished.

“You ?” he asked bitterly.

“Of course not” Coulson murmured. “You'll need someone who knows what he's doing.”

Clint shook his head.

“Would you prefer a man or a woman ?” his handler asked.

The archer screwed his eyes shut. “Whatever. Phil... you don't get it. This isn't how it works for me. You're giving me a choice and it's already... already ruined.”

“Better than nothing” Coulson said.

His fist tightened around the chain in his pocket. “Better than this.”

 

“Mandatory discipline session n°1” the man said. “Report.”

“Agent Clint Barton” the archer murmured.

“Agent Barton, I need you to pick a safeword.”

Clint closed his eyes and felt like he was dying inside.

He was disgusted. Disgusted with himself and with this fucking sham. But Coulson was trying to help. And there was nothing better to do anyway.

“Quiver” he mumbled.

“Excellent. Now get on your knees, agent.”

He did, and felt absolutely nothing.

 

Nothing.

Nothing was what he kept feeling even after two months. Coulson had been partly right, though ; no matter how fake it was, the discipline kept him grounded enough for him not to go completely ballistic. The dom was good, too ; respectful and professional, not overly dramatic or into ludicrous roleplaying that would have ended up in Clint punching him in the face.

But it was all so stale.

 

“Take off your clothes.”

“Quiver” Clint mumbled.

The man nodded and didn't insist.

 

“Open your mouth.”

“Quiver.”

The man nodded and didn't insist.

 

“Pick up the riding crop.”

“Quiver.”

The man nodded and didn't insist.

 

The safeword was like a fucking stonewall that nothing could break. Clint kept invoking it, in hope that one day the dom would get frustrated and ignore it and force those limits the archer imposed to him. In hope to get a hint of true dominance. But of course, it never happened. The man was a professional and a good person. So in the end, the archer stopped hiding behind his quiver, and let himself be tied down and ordered around. Even whipped once, on a particularly bad day. But he could not allow any sort of intercourse.

And he had never called him sir. The word just wouldn't leave his mouth.

 

Clint swallowed thickly, and even his own saliva had an insipid taste to it.

The steel wall had heated up beneath his body. The archer straightened up and began walking again, but the feelings of withdrawal was still there, nagging at him in a lukewarm torment that brought tears to his eyes. He didn't even know if he was supposed to hate Loki at that point. Clint had asked him for all or nothing, and the demi-god had picked nothing.

The brand in his back and all the pain that had come with it were now meaningless. This was what hurt the most, just like the thin scar around his forearm – bitter memories of how sick he was and of how impossible it was for him to just carry on.

He had tried to be normal and to get on with it. But he was just too tired of pretending. He wanted to be what he was, and not in an undercover, incomplete submission. He wanted to give it all, no matter how disappointed his friends would be, no matter how shameful, despicable, selfish it was. He didn't care about the demi-god's crimes anymore. He didn't care about his own shame. He was so weary of it all. He just wanted to let go.

But Loki was gone. And if it had been all a scheme from the beginning to make him truly hurt, to take revenge for Manhattan, then it was an outstanding fucking success.

 

He thought of the mandatory sessions ; and the discrepancy with everything Loki had given him was excruciating. Coulson was keeping him alive by pumping air in his lungs, but they both knew that Clint Barton was the kind of guy who would prefer to be unplugged from a deep coma.

 

He traced the serpentine scar on his forearm again, then shook his head and walked on.

 

*

 

“Thank you for coming on such short notice. Please, have a seat."

Thor sat down and gave Coulson a shrewd look over the desk. The agent smiled at him.

“I think we should talk.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Son of Coul” Thor said, baffled. “I am very pleased to see you again, but your request – I do not understand.”

“It's very simple” Coulson said patiently. “I'd like to see your brother.”

“But I – ” the thunderer began.

He took a second to calm down. “Why seek him ? He has posed no threat ever since his departure.”

“I'm well aware of that” the agent said.

“He has no interests left in Midgard, son of Coul.”

“I happen to think otherwise.”

Thor shook his head defensively. “I do not know where he is.”

“Yes, you do.”

The thunderer stared at him. Coulson just smiled back.

“How would you know ?” Thor muttered.

“Well” Coulson said. “You are not out there looking for him. I believe the last time he was far away from home, you crossed the entire Universe to retrieve him.”

He raised a hand to his chest and ended up adjusting his tie, as though it was just a mechanical gesture. “We both remember this little episode.”

Thor's face went slightly grimmer. Coulson kept smiling.

“It's alright” he said. “I won't report on you. Honor is such a complicated business, isn't it ? You're SHIELD's ally and an Avenger, but you've been Loki's brother for a thousand years. I don't blame you for hiding him.”

“He was falsely accused” Thor said almost desperately. “He needed help and I... I could not refuse.”

Coulson smiled.

“I understand. I'm only asking you to help us meet.”

Unearthly blue eyes stared at him and he felt a tinge of electricity in his neck when they landed on his heart.

“Are you not afraid ?” Thor said in a low voice.

“He's got no reasons to attack me this time. Not when I come with a bargain.”

“A bargain ?”

“Yes. I have something that might interest him.”

Coulson smiled a bit wearily.

“Something with his name on it.”

 

*

 

“Clint.”

The archer turned and gave a small smile. “Hi, Cap.”

“Walk with me” Steve said, grabbing his arm.

Clint let himself be carried away in the elevator. “What's wrong ?”

“You tell me” the super-soldier said as the doors closed.

The archer looked at him. “Did I screw up on the field ?”

He honestly couldn't remember. The missions were such a blur lately. He was trying to be good, but he was more and more unfocused, despite the mandatory discipline he endured every day. The time of miracles was long gone, and the time of heroism was unraveling as well. Clint remembered that day when he had missed.

Twice.

This was the day he had let the dom whip him. He had bit his tongue during the whole session and ended up tasting blood for a day.

It hadn't really helped.

“Look, I'm sorry, Cap” he said in a dejected voice. “I'm trying to pay attention. It's just – sometimes – ”

“It's not that” Steve said in a low voice.

The doors of the elevator opened and he pushed the archer out.

“What – ”

The doors closed back and the archer found himself alone in a room plunged in the dark.

“Cap !” Clint yelled. “What the hell ?”

He spun on himself. Something was wrong. He closed his eyes for five seconds, unmoving. When he opened them, he had gained two things. A better vision in the dark ; and the certainty that there were at least two more persons in the room with him.

The lab, he realized when he caught the faint gleam of a steel bench. He knew this place only too well for having spent hours in it, with Tony and Bruce prodding about with his blood and cells, seeking to cure an imaginary disease. The lab sessions were tiresome, but mostly because of Bruce's painful carefulness, which spoke volumes about his past.

“Okay” he said out loud. “It's the lab, so there's Tony.”

A faint rustle of clothes confirmed him he was right. Most people couldn't refrain from reacting unconsciously when hearing their name.

“And it's about me, so I'd say Nat.”

“You're good” she answered immediately.

He froze, trying to locate her in the darkness. “What the fuck are you playing at ?”

“You tell us” she said.

He turned around again, but he couldn't see shit in here.

“Are you trying to scare me off ?” he scoffed. “I'm not afraid of the dark.”

“Actually, you are” Tony said. “Or rather, you're scared of blindness. You even sleep with your eyes open sometimes.”

Clint stayed still, closing his eyes as if to prove him wrong.

“So what's the point of it all ?” he asked.

“Doom's clever” Tony said. “I have to give him that.”

The archer stopped breathing. What did Doom had to do with this ?

“His serum was a masterpiece. There were a few drops left in the syringes you and Loki used when this all started ; Bruce and I only completed the analysis a few days ago. Trying to help you. And guess what ?”

A light turned on above the table in the middle of the room and Clint opened his eyes. Tony was sitting there, holding out a vial of golden liquid.

“No flashbacks” he said sharply. “It's a very clean drug. Doom's not a messy guy. Almost everything he builds self-destructs so we can't reverse-engineer it.”

Clint tightened his fists, but didn't move.

“Was it fun ?” Tony asked in a caustic voice, setting down the vial to get up. “Sending Bruce on a witch hunt ? Watching him work his ass off for two months, struggling against his PTSD the whole time ?”

“His PTSD” Clint mumbled.

“You've read his file, genius” the billionaire groaned. “How would you think he'd feel, experimenting on someone ?”

Okay. This was why Bruce wasn't part of this whole intervention shit. Clint screwed his eyes shut.

“I didn't mean – ”

“To lie ?” Natasha said calmly.

Her own light turned on in the other side of the room, casting a soft glow on her bouncing curls.

“If you don't have serum flashbacks” she said, “then why the mandatory sessions ?”

Clint turned away and strode towards the elevator. “If you think I'm going to stay around for this bullshit – ”

The doors opened on Steve again.

He took a step forward and the archer took a step back – he only realized now how menacing he could look.

“You're not going anywhere, Clint” he said calmly.

Clint let out a mirthless snigger and turned on himself to look at them all. “So I've stopped being a poor little rape victim now ? I've turned into Loki McDoom ?”

“Speaking of Loki” Tony said calmly.

He got up and walked towards Clint. “What did I see this day ? It wasn't rape. It wasn't a drug either. So what was it ?”

“You want to know what it was ?” Clint growled.

He was slightly shivering already. His blood was starting to boil, shaking and scattering his thoughts in his head, breaking down the frail shield the discipline had helped him piece back day after day.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to me” he spat. “And you fucking ruined it.”

He still had nightmares about it. Loki was about to tell him something at the very moment before Tony barged in. They had been so perfect then. It all could have been so right.

But Tony had barged in. And Clint had drowned in lies, complicated it all, and eventually blamed Loki for the unraveling mess, for – hiding ? What a stupid accusation to make – hiding, as though Loki owed him, when all the demi-god had done was go out of his way so their time together wouldn't come to an end. It was always the same thing, always Clint demanding more and more – until eventually, he had asked for more than the demi-god could offer.

And Loki had left.

“The best thing” Steve murmured. “Clint, could I see your eyes ?”

“They're fucking grey !” the archer shouted, turning to him.

Steve almost took a step back, but Clint wasn't going to be done anytime soon – fury was running through his body and rattling his teeth.

“And do you want to know the truth ? They've always stayed grey underneath ! People think I don't remember what happened during the mind-control. But I do. I told Tasha when I woke up. Maybe you didn't pay attention” he said, looking at her, “but I told you. You asked me if I knew what his plan was, and I didn't tell you I couldn't remember. I told you I didn't ask. You wanna know why I didn't ?”

He was looking at Tony now. “Because I didn't care. Because I didn't want to ask. Sitwell was right this whole fucking time. I never got over Manhattan. I never got over how – how right it felt.”

His own words frightened him and he shut up. They all looked at him in a silence so heavy and thick Clint could feel it moving around them like deep waters.

“Did it feel right” Natasha said calmly, “trying to kill me ?”

Clint closed his eyes. “No” he mumbled. “No, no, no, Nat... I love you. You're my oldest friend. But it felt right – not to think.”

He longed for his ground zero. For the cool waters of absolute serenity, beyond the wastelands of pain and humiliation. But he was stuck there, the coldness forever out of his reach.

“Not to think” he panted again.

“You're worth better than that” Tony growled.

“What if I don't want to be better than that ?” Clint muttered.

He looked up and stared at them all again, suddenly strangely calmer.

For the first time since Manhattan, he was not lying. Not to the others ; not to himself.

It felt so strange.

“We fought him” he said, sounding a little lost. “We stopped him from enslaving Earth. And it was the right thing to do.”

He swallowed. “But what if I don't want to be free ? What if I want to let him win over me – only me ? Does that automatically make me fit for a straitjacket ?”

“Clint” Steve said calmly. “Listen to yourself.”

“Are you listening ?” Clint exclaimed. “Are you even trying ? I'm telling you it's my decision. Is it so unnatural, wanting to let go ?”

“So let me get this straight” Tony spat. “You're just tired of your responsibilities ? You want someone else to take charge ? But you're a fucking hero, Barton ! That's what we do – killing ourselves for everyone else ! You don't get to be lazy ! You don't get to take the easy road !”

Clint barked out a laugh. “The easy road ? The easy road, Tony, was telling myself that I was stronger than that ! That I was normal !”

He wondered if he sounded as desperate as he felt. “But truth is, I've always wanted to kneel.”

His fists clenched again. “And I don't think admitting it to myself – to you – qualifies in any way as the fucking easy road !” he shouted.

 

“Excellent” someone called out.

 

Clint's nerves became of ice and fire and he spun on his feet.

Loki was standing right behind him.

 

It took everything the archer had not to kneel on the spot.

He couldn't breathe. He couldn't think. The demi-god was glorious in the dim light, haughty and tall in his unearthly grace. And Clint's blood just screamed of want and tingled in his veins as though he had been wired to a battery. As though he had been fed nothing but Doom's serum during these damn two months.

“Avengers” Loki greeted in a low voice, staring right through him. “Did you miss me ?”

“Fuck you” Tony spat. “Get away from him ! You won't fool us with any serum bullshit this time !”

“It did take you a very long time to understand” Loki said. “I was growing bored.”

“You were – you were waiting for them to figure it out ?” Clint breathed. “But why ?”

“I am talking” the demi-god said loudly, still staring at Tony. “Know your place, Barton.”

The thrill that ran up Clint's spine lit up his blood in his veins like never before. He swallowed, pupils blown.

“He's not your slave” Steve growled.

Loki's slight smile grew wider.

“Actually, he is” he said. “Want me to prove it ?”

Clint's breath caught in his throat. Everyone froze during a heartbeat.

Loki was still looking at Tony when he ordered, “Barton, on your knees.”

Clint hesitated for a split second. Although nobody was looking straight at him, they were all petrified, waiting for him to choose. And there was still something rebelling inside him, because – Loki had never brought him down in front of an audience before. Not to mention in front of his friends and teammates.

But he had waited for too damn long for this. And he knew, without a doubt, that this was what he wanted. No matter the price. He had lost too much already to care for what was left.

He sank down, and it was a truly physical, bone-deep relief, so much that he took a little gasping breath. Even Natasha's look of horror couldn't taint it.

Much.

He closed his eyes. He wanted her to understand. So badly. But he had no way to explain.

“Clint” Steve breathed, and he sounded so lost that it made it a thousand times worse.

“You Midgardians have such misplaced concerns” Loki said with a smirk.

He reached out and gripped Clint's hair, twisting it so hard that nobody could have guessed the tears in his closed eyes were of ecstasy. He breathed out shakily.

“Barton, for example, kept clinging on the illusion that he had something to protect in this world” Loki went on. “That he owed it to you. Even after I left, he struggled against himself in the sole purpose of serving his beloved team.”

He smirked at them. “Now – why could he not he serve me instead ? Is it such an illogical thought ?”

“We're not slave masters” Natasha spat.

“And that is your mistake” Loki grinned. “You should have embraced it.”

Clint was breathing very fast in his grip. He had to struggle not to beg for more, and struggle even harder against the reaction of his own body. Only the consciousness of his appalled teammates was helping him keeping it together.

“Why are you even here ?” Tony growled.

“To see the look on your face, mainly” Loki retorted with a dark smile. “I never did repay you for that blast in the eye.”

He jerked Clint's head back so hard his neck cracked loudly, echoing in the whole room. The archer scowled in pain and froze ; from the corner of his eye, he saw his friends take the same step forward.

“Don't – ”

“Why not ?” Loki said calmly.

He shifted his fingers in Clint's hair, and the archer closed his eyes again.

“What use do you have for him anyway ? You will not let him on your team anymore. Not after his confession.”

“He's our friend” Natasha murmured.

Her voice sounded small. Almost vulnerable.

It brought awful tears to Clint's eyes.

“A slave has no friends” Loki said.

He brutally let Clint go.

“Only a master.”

Loki looked directly at him for the first time, panting and down on his knees. “Is it not better this way, Hawkeye ?” he asked. “Truly, you are unfit for the art of lying. To hide yourself tore you apart. But today I offer you the truth. Should you not be thanking me ?”

Clint swallowed thickly and nodded.

Loki's spear set just under his chin.

“The rules, Barton” he said softly.

The archer swallowed again, trembling and humiliated, and uttered, “Thank you.”

A tremendous blast echoed his words – Tony had lost it and shot Loki with his right hand which had somehow armored itself while the demi-god was looking away. Loki deflected the blast with his spear in a swift movement and smirked.

“You shall find it more difficult to harm me when I actually fight back.”

“We're taking you down, asshole” the billionaire spat, his hand still smoking.

“Are you” Loki smirked dangerously.

“Please don't” a calm voice interjected.

Everyone stopped and turned.

 

“Jesus fuck” Tony muttered.

 

Coulson smiled at him like a fucking ghost in the dim light.

“Hi” he said. “Long time no see.”

Clint vaguely thought that it must be even weirder for the others, who had not seen Coulson again ever since his fake death. The agent stepped closer, and smiled.

“I wished we could have talked about this with a cup of coffee” he said. “But we never seem to get a break, don't we ? Not even in death.”

He smiled at Clint, who winced.

“Coulson” he panted in a low voice. “What are you – ”

“Oh, Loki and I have an agreement” he said composedly.

“An agreement ?”

“I sold you to him” Phil declared.

The silence was deafening.

 

“Phil” someone said.

It was Natasha.

“Phil, what the fuck.”

It was as though she could not even muster the strength to phrase it like a question. Her eyes were wide and she was very pale – Clint had never seen her like this. Coulson smiled wearily.

“If we can all stop to try killing each other for a few seconds, maybe I can explain.”

“Sure, as soon as Clint gets his ass over there” Tony spat.

“Barton stays where he is” Loki said, nonchalantly taking a step forward so Clint would be kneeling right at his feet.

“Tony, shut it” Steve said as the billionaire opened his mouth again. “Coulson, explain.”

“It's very simple” Phil said calmly. “While Barton here apparently qualifies as what is called in certain circles a sub or submissive, Loki Laufeyson possesses a pathological need for control.”

Loki's fingers tightened around his spear, but he didn't push it through Phil's chest, which was both a surprise and a great relief. They must have discussed it beforehand, Clint realized.

Coulson and Loki scheming together ?

“I'll explain to you how we've come to this conclusion” Coulson said, “but I took this case to the director himself and we both agreed that Clint Barton should be handed over to Loki in exchange for definitive peace. The mission of a lifetime.”

“This isn't Coulson” Tony said under his breath. “It's one of Loki's tricks.”

“Tony” Phil said wearily.

He looked proud of him though, somehow.

“You once made Pepper a strawberry omelet. You stabilized one of your creations with a prototype of Steve's shield. You offered me help to go meet 'my cellist' and we once ate chili tacos together.”

He smiled. “I can get you more proof. All the details you want. I can do this for any of you. It's me, Tony. And I've spent the last two months trying to help Barton, in vain.”

He looked at him. “Clint ? Can you speak ?”

The archer licked his lips, utterly baffled by what was happening.

“...Yeah.”

“Can you give your consent ? To me ? I know this isn't how it works for you, but I'm not your dom. I just want a reassurance that I'm not sending you to hell.”

He was looking at him with strange, almost embarrassing sentiment. “Do it for them, too” he said softly. “Do it for all of us.”

Clint swallowed, then nodded. “Yeah” he repeated, looking at them all one last time. “Yes, I want this. I'm sorry. I want this.”

He thought he felt Loki shiver next to him. He must be imagining things.

“We thank you for your years of service” Phil said softly. “We thank you for completing this ultimate mission.”

Clint looked up and their gazes finally met.

“Don't worry” Coulson murmured. “I'll explain everything to them. Or I'll try.”

The archer felt tears welling in his eyes. He couldn't express the magnitude of what his handler had done for him in this instant.

“Thanks, Phil” he muttered.

Phil smiled sadly, wearily. “You're welcome.”

They stayed like this for a split second. Then Loki's hand settled on his shoulder.

“Say goodbye” he ordered from above.

“Goodbye” the archer breathed obediently.

“And farewell” Loki murmured with an edge of triumph in his voice.

The next second, they were both gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world spun for a while until Clint found himself still on his knees on a cold stone floor. When he looked up, he saw nothing that could give him a clue as to where he was. There were no windows, a large bed, a heavy table and a few pieces of furniture scattered around.

He looked up at Loki, who had turned away from him to discard his leather coat on a nearby chair, which resembled a lot those of his floor in Stark Tower.

“Where – where are we ?” the archer murmured.

“Asgard” Loki said absently.

Clint's stomach tightened as though physically compressed by a cold hand.

Asgard.

Suddenly, he was glad there were no windows – a look outside would have probably made the realization a thousand times worse. As long as he was inside, he could still pretend it was a lie. And maybe it was – maybe the demi-god was just fucking with him for the sake of it.

Still, what just happened hit him like a ton of bricks. SHIELD had officially sold him to Loki. Like a tool. An expendable.

He was a slave. He wasn't an American anymore – wasn't an Earthling anymore. As from now, he belonged not to somewhere, but to someone. And he would never see his friends again.

“I – I thought you were banished ?” he mumbled in an attempt to distract his mind from this horrifying thought.

“It is all part of the agreement” Loki said darkly, still busying himself with other things and turning his back to Clint. “I was carrying out my punishment on Midgard, but Midgard absolved me in exchange for a promise. Hence as long as I do not commit new crimes, I can live again in the land of my choosing.”

Despite his own distress, Clint raised an eyebrow at the bitterness in Loki's voice. “You don't seem very happy about it.”

Loki snorted, but didn't comment any further.

“Get up, Barton.”

Clint did, doing his best to stand straight despite his slightly wobbly legs. Loki finally turned to him. He was still wearing his usual clothes – leather pants and tunic – but he had discarded every single piece of his armor. His forearms were bare, his neck and clavicles weirdly exposed without the golden chestpiece, and it frightened Clint all the more, because those garments were indeed what Loki would have worn at home, in a place he owned and where he felt relatively safe.

This wasn't a lie – he had left Earth. Without even realizing it. He closed his eyes and winced when Loki's hand cupped his chin to make him raise his head.

“So” the demi-god said coldly.

The archer waited, clenching his fists and tensing his muscles not to shiver, but there was no fighting away the building panic in his gut.

“What do you know about Jotunheim ?”

Clint blinked at him, taken short. “What ?”

Loki stared at him for a second.

Then he backhanded him across the face, sending him right back down. Clint convulsed and spat blood ; he winced, trying to push on his arms to get up – but Loki's leather boot landed flat in the middle of his back, pinning him violently to the floor.

“You know nothing” he said in an icy voice. “Just another dumb ape looking up to the stars, and hiding in fear when they finally approach him.”

He squashed him down, chasing the air from his lungs and almost breaking his ribs.

“Having second thoughts already ?” he sneered. “Regretting your muddy home, far away from the monster ?”

Clint clenched his fists, and instead of suffering, instead of crying or fearing, he remembered that he fucking hated Loki.

“I'm not afraid of you” he spat. “And I know what Jotunheim is !”

Loki's boot stopped pushing him down.

“Do you” the demi-god said, in a highly doubtful tone.

Clint could hear the irony in his voice. “Impress me then.”

“One of the Nine Realms” the archer groaned. “Land of the Jotnar – Frost Giants. At war with Asgard most of the time until a thousand years ago.”

Loki's silence sounded like genuine surprise. Clint scoffed and pushed on his arms again, although he knew he could not lift Loki's boot off his back. “I was on the field when your big brother first fell down on Earth” he said. “I did my homework, studied Norse mythology for days on end – and Thor filled in the gaps himself after your little Chitauri stunt.”

“I see” Loki muttered after a while.

His foot pressed down again.

“What did he tell you about me, then ?”

“Not much” Clint panted. “What, you think you're so interesting ? He told us you were adopted. Told us you lied to seize the throne and failed miserably.”

He expected Loki to squash him again for this, but the demi-god just shifted his boot on Clint's back. “Did he not tell you why I rebelled ?”

The archer took a breath, then held it as he realized that even through the leather, Loki's skin was becoming colder.

 

And just like that, it all clicked in his head.

 

Jotunheim.

 

His eyes widened as his heart began to beat faster. Thor had been adamant – the Jotnar are monsters. Odin had been highly regarded for attempting to make peace with them. But how could he hope to achieve that exactly ? He needed a link. A pawn...

He discovered he was adopted, and it simply drove him mad.

Clint had despised Loki for his weakness then, for what he could only see as a temper tantrum. Fucking Thor. Was it out of shame at his own mistakes, at his own obliviousness ? Whatever the reason, the thunderer hadn't told them the most important part. He hadn't told them that Loki had been not only an adopted child, but also a war prisoner his whole life. Living a lie for a thousand years.

A Jotun. He was a Jotun. He was the big bad wolf of Asgard, the monster mothers told their children about at night. This was what he was hiding. What he didn't want Clint to see, because he was so ashamed.

Loki's body was now radiating a coldness that pierced even through Clint's battle gear, but the archer's hatred and fear had been erased by the sudden revelation. The demi-god removed his foot, then walked around Clint – sending waves of cold air as he moved – and stopped in front of him.

“On your knees.”

The order was even colder than the lips that had uttered it. Clint slowly knelt up, took a deep breath, then raised his gaze.

He studied the blue skin and the deep lines with a distant feeling of bafflement. The burning red eyes were a true shock. But what petrified him the most was Loki's expression. As though he was fighting back a scream or a roar or God knew what. Teeth clenched, hands balled into tight fists, spine stiff and nostrils flaring.

As though his very existence was a challenge against the world.

“You wanted to see” he spat in a tone dripping with self-hatred.

Clint would have mistaken it for his usual haughtiness, had the circumstances been different. But now he saw. Now he heard.

Loki opened his hands with a sneer – his teeth were very white in his dark blue face.

“Thus behold” he said with somber irony. “The beast you have been handed over to – with full knowledge.”

He let out a mirthless snigger. “Make no mistake, my brother knew what I was. He still let your precious Coulson unfold his little plan. They abandoned you to be this monster's plaything.”

Clint then realized he still wasn't afraid. He was just angry. Angry at Thor for hiding this. Angry at Coulson for throwing him into the lion's pit so lightly. But mostly, angry at Loki for trying to scare him off now.

He had wavered the second before, but now his resolution was back and ten times stronger. He was alone on Asgard ? Fine.He would never see his teammates ever again ? Fucking fine. He had lost everything several times before. He was used to it.

Loki thought he was so damn impressive. Clint would show him – show them all – that he might be a sub, but he wasn't a fucking wimp.

“I'll scream when you make me scream” he spat. “And if that's all you've got, we won't go very far.”

The red eyes stared at him. Loki's tight fists unclenched ever so slightly.

Clint took the opportunity to get up again. “Seriously” he said. “Do you remember what you did to me ?”

Loki just looked at him, but made no move to stop him – or answer his question. Clint scoffed loudly.

“Do you think I liked you before ?” he insisted. “Well, news flash : I didn't wait for you to turn blue to call you a monster.”

He gestured at Loki. “I can see you're doing your best to blame it on your race – nice try, but you're not fooling me. I know you, and I can tell you that you're an asshole, regardless of the color of your makeup.”

He took a deep breath and realized he was trembling slightly. “But you already know that” he said. “I said it all the day I chose to be yours. And I thought this was something you would carry out instead of mistaking me for one of your racist little friends.”

Loki still stared at him, his blood-red eyes even wider than before.

“You” he murmured after a while. “You are willing to be a Jotun's slave.”

Clint scowled.

“No. I'm willing to be your slave. And that's fucking crazy enough for me.”

Loki's pupils slowly blown. He grabbed Clint's arm and pulled him close, looking at him with quick glances, as though he expected him to unravel in the air for some reason.

Then he wrapped a hand at the back of his head and suddenly crushed his cold lips on his.

The archer shivered violently and opened his mouth. Nobody kissed like Loki – like he was already forcing him open for his pleasure instead of sharing a tender gesture. And the heat Clint thought he'd forgotten bloomed in the pit of his stomach. He kissed back with a shameless moan, kissed the monster with naked eagerness, trembling, desperate to get on his knees and take whatever the demi-god would give.

He felt Loki grow rock hard through the leather in matter of seconds.

“Kissing me” the demi-god breathed when he released him.

He chuckled disbelievingly, then grabbed Clint's hand and raised it to his blue, carved-in cheek. The archer's fingers trailed timidly over the lines in the cold skin, and the red eyes closed in response.

“Touching me” Loki murmured.

And despite Clint's blood singing for pain and violence, his heart clenched.

Then the demi-god reopened his eyes and grinned fiercely. “You are so blessedly ignorant.”

He suddenly kicked his legs and made him fall on the floor again. Clint caught himself on time, but the shock still rattled him ; when he looked up, the red eyes were flaming like embers in blue ashes.

“Strip” Loki said in a simmering murmur.

The archer swallowed, then complied. He discarded his bow and quiver with unease – he didn't know what would happen to them. Loki would probably destroy them.

Or make him do it himself.

He pushed the thought away – now wasn't the time to be anxious about the distant future. His clothes went off with more ease. When he was completely naked, the demi-god gripped his hair and jerked his head back, then pressed something to his closed lips – a tiny blue, cold sphere covered in microscopic runes. It tingled with cold and magic and Clint shifted his head to escape it, his Midgardian instincts filling him with repulsion.

“What is it ?” he breathed.

“Swallow it” Loki said, tightening his grip on his hair.

“Tell me what it is first.”

The demi-god grinned. “Do you recall what I told you about slave training in Asgard ?”

Clint waited for a split second, then remembered. Weeks devoted only to the breaking in.

His breath caught in his throat.

“I left you for two months” Loki said in a low, delighted voice. “I shall keep you for two months. Until every last drop of dignity leaves your shattered body. Until you are truly the Jotun's slave, begging to please the monster, desperate to humiliate yourself.”

He gripped Clint's hair, then put the blue sphere away and gestured in the air. A metal device appeared in his hand, which looked like a pair of scissors with curved, horizontal blades.

A mouth spreader.

Loki pushed it between the archer's lips and blocked it between his teeth, then forced his jaws open. Clint let out an inarticulate moan and struggled to break free, although he knew only too well that the demi-god's strength could not be matched. Loki grinned at his efforts, the red eyes narrowing into slits.

“You grew feral” he murmured.

He took the little sphere and pushed it in Clint's mouth. The archer moaned again, tears of humiliation and refusal escaping his eyes. Magic. He could feel it, and it horrified him despite himself. A mortal's gut instinct. He tried to spit it out, but Loki took out the mouth spreader and blocked his jaw shut, his other hand massaging his throat. Clint choked and retched and ended up swallowing the sphere by sheer reflex. He felt it sliding down his throat, a pin-point of coldness in the heat of his body.

Loki released him and he slumped forward, panting.

“What was that ?” he gasped.

Loki smiled and didn't answer. He gripped Clint's wrists and clasped leather cuffs around them, then produced a leather collar with a D-ring on the front and fastened it around Clint's neck. He grabbed it to hoist him up on his feet. His other hand slipped between the archer's thighs and played with his balls, his fingers sliding up the crack of his ass, poking and prodding. Clint stiffened – Loki hadn't humiliated him like this in a long time even before the two-months gap.

“Uneasy ?” Loki smirked.

Two more leather cuffs wrapped themselves around Clint's ankles. Loki wriggled his fingers, and chains came out from the ceiling and floor to fasten themselves to the D-rings like metal snakes. Only then did Clint understand that this entire room was stuffed with torture devices Loki could invoke at will.

The demi-god smirked at his expression, then twirled his fingers again. The chains began to retract inside the walls, spreading Clint's limbs until he felt like his joints were going to pop. He clenched his teeth, trying to resist the quartering, then let out a scream when they kept pulling.

“Please !”

Loki smirked and the chains stopped. Clint was breathing heavily, the sphere still cold in his stomach, spread-eagled naked in the middle of the dark room.

“Regretting your friends ?” the demi-god whispered.

He grabbed Clint's collar and pulled him as close as the chains would allow.

“Yet they put you here.”

“No” Clint growled in defiance. “I put myself here.”

He might be Loki's slave, but he would cling onto the memories of his past life, even though his teammates probably felt nothing but incomprehension and contempt towards him at the moment.

“Did you” Loki chuckled.

He gestured in the air again, and a long whip appeared in his hand. Clint couldn't help closing his eyes for a second.

“Oh yes” the demi-god grinned. “You will suffer, Barton. You will scream.”

He cupped his cheek. “And in the end, you will be little more than an obedient pet molded to my will.”

“Promises” Clint muttered.

Loki blinked, then burst out laughing.

“Very well then” he said.

He made the whip hiss and crack like a clap of thunder. Clint couldn't help startling in his chains.

“No, no, no” Loki smiled. “You cannot be afraid – not after all your bravado. In fact...”

He brushed the inside of Clint's thigh with the whip. “...you will be the one asking for it.”

The lash went up his thigh and pressed against his balls.

“Beg me” the demi-god breathed, his red eyes sparkling. “To whip you bloody.”

Clint froze. He remembered the very few times when Loki had whipped him. He had never drawn blood and it had still hurt as fuck.

He gritted his teeth and said nothing. The demi-god smirked.

“I am waiting.”

Fuck you, Clint thought. 

The sphere was still cold in his stomach. He could not ignore it. In fact, it almost felt like it was growing colder.

He went paler and Loki smiled at him, raising an eyebrow in amusement at his slow understanding.

Clint tried to fight his chains, but his limbs were spread so wide he could hardly move. He felt the coldness pulsing in his belly, almost to the point of burning. He wanted to say something, but he couldn't think of anything in his confusion.

“I am waiting” Loki repeated, and the sphere emitted a wave of ice that caused Clint unbearable pain – his insides were actually beginning to freeze. He let out a broken, inarticulate cry and writhed in his unforgiving bonds. The demi-god started walking around him, making the whip hiss in the air. The shard of winter in his gut was driving Clint crazy.

“Stop” he panted. “Make it stop !”

“You wanted to know what it was” Loki said thoughtfully, still walking in slow circles. “It is a fragment of my essence. As long as you carry it, I will know where you are, whether you are alive...” He smirked. “...and whether you are in pain.”

Clint let out a loud noise through gritted teeth, then threw his head back. “Make it stop” he begged. “Please – it's killing me !”

“Is it ?” Loki said in an amused voice. “How unfortunate.”

The shard pulsed even stronger and colder.

“Whip me !” Clint yelled, twisting in his chains, but there was no way to fight what came from the inside –  “do whatever you want, just – stop it !”

Loki's whip cracked in the air. “I said beg.”

Clint lost it.

“Please !” he panted. “Please, whip me bloody. I'm begging for it, I'm aching for it, I'll do anything – whip me raw, please, please, please !”

The unearthly coldness receded, leaving Clint to breathe in loud, shaky gasps.

“You asked for it” Loki breathed in his ear with cruel delight.

He took a step back and the next second, the leather lash violently bit into the archer's skin. Clint buckled and gritted his teeth, but at least he didn't feel like his gut was freezing anymore, and the burning pain of the whip was almost welcome after his panic.

Loki hit again, printing an angry red mark across the archer's back, who couldn't even pull at his chains with how quartered he was. He dropped his head, trying to breathe slowly, but tensed violently again at the third strike. The fourth landed on his upper thighs – he jumped and let out a short yell. Loki chuckled, brushing his balls with the whip again. He raised it in the air, made it hiss and crack – then brought his arm down and cut Clint across his lower back.

The archer writhed and shouted in insane pain – and for one second, he thought he would rather die than endure this.

But the very next second, the exact opposite thought struck him. He had just screamed his lungs out without thinking of how he would sound. Without bothering with what would come after, with who might hear him, with justifying his throat ache afterwards.

He just had to take it. And he had missed that – the simplicity, the smoothness – so fucking much, it was almost worth the pain.

“Fuck” he panted under his breath. "Fuck."

“Ah” Loki said in approval, as though he had recognized his tone.

He brushed the lash against the bleeding cut in his back, making him jump in stinging pain.

“What do you say, Barton ?”

The archer gritted his teeth and shifted in his chains, bowing his head, breathing deep. “Please more” he murmured.

He knew Loki was smirking behind him. “It will be my pleasure.”

Clint squared his shoulders and waited for the whipping to resume. Loki didn't let him down. He stopped waiting in-between his blows to measure the archer's reactions and started beating him with short, violent strikes that made Clint buckle and pull at his chains. His strained limbs and abused back were wet with sweat. The floor was splattered with blood.

Loki didn't cut him with each strike of the whip, though. He was perfectly in control of his own strength and obviously enjoyed making Clint suffer while still holding him in fear of an even greater pain. And the archer could never predict which strike would cut him open and tear an insane scream out of his throat. The deepest cut was in his lower back – Loki was so talented he had managed not to slice the branded rune – ; two of them were drawing a big X across his shoulder blades ; his ass hadn't been spared either, and thin wounds were crisscrossing his thighs and calves in bloody diamonds. The archer was shaking and gasping - and letting out raw screams with each new strike. His chains were the only thing holding him up.

Lost in a haze of suffering, he barely reacted at the soft sound of the leather lash falling in coils on the floor – he was only conscious of the blessed pause in his ordeal. When a different hiss made itself heard through the air, though, his exhausted brain caught up that something was wrong.

The next second, insane pain exploded across his back and he screamed louder than ever before, eyes and mouth wide, tugging at his chains like mad, almost flaying his wrists raw. His breath came in and out in violent, choking sobs.

Loki brushed the multiples lashes of the flogger across his bloody back. This was a cat of not nine, but a hundred tails, with small beads of steel at the end of each.

“More ?” he asked with cruel delight.

“Please” Clint panted between two sobs. “Please – ”

Loki struck him again and the archer screamed and sobbed when the flogger dug into his already raw flesh, deepening all the cuts at the same time. It came down on his ass, then on his thighs, then his back again, beating his entire backside raw, like promised, making the world flare red, white, black behind his closed eyelids. He was going to faint, not this time but surely the next, or the next, or the next –

And then suddenly, the flogger stopped coming down.

The archer would have hung limp if the tight chains had allowed it. His entire body was crisscrossed with bloody welts. He was moaning with each breath out.

Loki walked around his shaking victim and pushed the handle under Clint's chin, forcing him to raise his tear-streaked face towards the dim light. The archer was shivering so hard his teeth were chattering, tremors coursing through the torn muscles of his back, warm blood trickling down his skin to fall in soft drops on the floor.

“Did I beat a little of that arrogance out of you ?” Loki asked calmly.

“Yes” Clint moaned. “Yes.”

“Show me.”

The cuffs opened themselves and the archer fell hard on the floor. The shock almost made him scream again ; he gritted his teeth, but managed to push on his arms. Slowly, painfully, he crawled forward to kneel at Loki's feet. The demi-god ran a hand through his hair damp with sweat, and the discrepancy between the soft, casual gesture and the relentless torture he had endured almost made him sob again. His body was impossibly aching.

Loki was very obviously hard, but he made no move to bring Clint's mouth to his crotch. He pressed on the archer's neck to make him bow in the begging position, until Clint's forehead brushed the floor, outstretching the abused skin of his back, torturing him by the mere chafing of his folded legs – the cuts of his thighs against the cuts of his calves. The demi-god's boot came over his neck to make him bow even lower.

“Say my name.”

“Loki” Clint murmured against the floor, unmoving under his booted foot.

He shivered violently with a release that was absolutely not physical. His relief was disturbed by the excruciating pain though, burning and stinging like bees in the wounds, making him jump and tense in quick spasms every time his body threatened to go limp.

The demi-god waited for a second, then crouched down and grabbed Clint's collar to hoist him up on his feet. The archer muffled a strangled cry and let himself be manhandled towards the large, dark wooden table he hadn't examined before, ominously thick and with straps in the angles.

Loki didn't tie him down again, though, but made him lie down on his stomach, splaying his limbs until he was exposed there, naked and bloody like a vivisection patient. The archer's breaths were quick and shallow, and he was getting dizzy with blood loss.

The demi-god let him there for a second, then suddenly pressed something cool and slick against his back. Clint had such a violent spasm that Loki gripped his hair and pressed his face against the wood.

“Do that again and I will strap you there for the night.”

Clint fought back his tears and swallowed. “Yes, sir.”

He took a deep breath and tried to control himself. He gritted his teeth not to scream when Loki's cold fingers rubbed against the deeper cuts, pushing mercilessly inside the wounds.

Then miraculously, the pain started to recede.

He let out a surprised breath. Loki slicked both his hands and rubbed ointment on Clint's thighs, going up and down, then lower on the calves, behind his knees, up his thighs again. He kneaded his ass for a long time, then went up his lower back, spent quite some time there, then up to his shoulder blades. Whatever he was rubbing on him was extraordinarily efficient. Clint began to breathe more easily after minutes. The pain wasn't quite disappearing, and the cuts weren't magically healing, but the bleeding edge was taken away.

And like an orgasm, like a tidal wave, it finally crashed onto him – his pool of cold serenity, pulling him down into the abyss with the low tide of adrenaline and the insane relief which washed through his abused body.

He let out a deep, shivering sigh, almost like a soft sob. He felt so insanely good. As though everything was right in the immense Universe. Whether he was on Midgard or Asgard, Loki stayed the same.

And he was right here with him.

“God” he breathed without thinking. “I missed you.”

Loki chuckled slightly above him. “I nearly flayed you alive, Barton.”

“I missed you so damn much” Clint murmured.

Loki didn't laugh this time.

His clever hands had tended to all his wounds. He helped Clint sit on the edge of the table, and put an immense, black blanket over his shoulders. It was so soft it didn't stick to his slicked skin, didn't hurt his raw flesh. The archer shivered with gratitude and soothed cold, then finally looked up.

The red eyes plunged into his own. He stared back, without any fear or disgust. He could see the resulting confusion in the crimson irises, and it made his heart clench again.

Loki took his face between his hands, pausing as though to check whether Clint would pull away in disgust. After a second, he wrapped a hand behind the archer's head and guided him slowly to his chest. Clint let himself be pressed against the cold skin, brushing his lips along the lines carved into the flesh, and sighed with contentment as he relaxed in Loki's embrace. He felt unmoving, his body limp and mellow, warm under the soft cover. Undisturbed.

In his rightful place.

The demi-god's fingers rubbed melancholic circles in his neck.

“Will you not long for Midgard ?” he murmured.

It was a strange question, coming from him. But Clint knew what it was about – Loki wanted to be sure he controlled him entirely. That there were no bonds left between the archer and his past.

And in this instant indeed, there were none.

“Don't worry about me, sir” he breathed.

The coolness of Loki's skin was heaven against his flushed-hot cheek. “I'll just...”

The demi-god's fingers carded through his hair. “What ?”

Clint shook his head minutely.

“Speak” Loki ordered.

The archer licked his lips.

“My bow” he murmured. “Please don't break it. It's... it's like a part of me.”

The demi-god laughed a little. "Break it ? Tell me” he said. “Where would be the fun in enslaving a slave ?”

His fingers tightened briefly in Clint's hair, like a dangerous promise.

“You will never cease to fight, Barton. This is what you were born for. And I have plans for your use.”

He trailed his other hand across his wounds, smiling at the little tremors awaking in his path.

“Do not let me down.”

“Never, sir” Clint murmured with insane relief.

He pressed against him and sighed, “Thanks. For... everything.”

Loki's arms wrapped around him. The archer let his head fall against his chest and closed his eyes with a sigh. It was so perfect, and he had waited for so damn long. He worshiped him. He adored him.

He was his.

 

*

 

“...so I went to the director in the end. And he agreed with me.”

Coulson's spoon was tingling faintly in the cup. He had gotten that coffee after all.

“You have to understand that Barton was in pain. This was the only way to help him. And we had the chance to neutralize Loki once and for all.”

“Exactly how is he neutralized ?” Bruce asked softly.

He looked quite shocked, but he hadn't been there to see Clint kneel and turn away, so at least he could still speak. The other three had settled for angry glares. They were blaming him, of course ; and Phil couldn't blame them.

He wished he could have made them understand that he was mourning Clint's loss maybe even more than them.

“Clint's his hostage” the doctor insisted. “Loki will just use him in further battles.”

“There won't be further battles” Coulson said. “Hopefully.”

He drank a sip of coffee. “You see” he said, “you can't try and help a sub without gathering knowledge on dominance as well. And I had a long talk with Thor. The thing is – Loki has very strong dominant tendencies, yet he's never been allowed to own anything. He was a destitute from the start. He doesn't even know his birth name. He has no family – they cast him out. He was once heir to the throne, and Thor took it from him as well. He tried to please his father and ended up losing everything.”

He set down his cup. “And think about when he first came here. The army wasn't his. The victory wouldn't have been his.”

He smiled slightly. “He couldn't even kill me.”

“Are you telling us you're pitying him ?” Bruce said.

“No” Coulson replied curtly.

He laced his fingers. “But think about it, doctor. You of all people would understand the need for control. Loki's withdrawal has been building for centuries.”

He looked into the doctor's eyes. “To own a person – it's impossibly huge. You can own the world, pretty easily, actually. But a single person ? I'm not talking about inane slavery, which is just violence and fear. To own a sentient being, completely, unrestrictedly ? That's almost a paradox.”

He sighed. “Loki needed something of his own. To achieve this miracle – to provide him with a person willing to kneel – will mean more to him than any incomplete ownership achieved through meaningless battles. Truth is, Loki and Barton were meant to find completion in each other. And I'm not talking about love” he didn't dare to look up at Natasha – “but of much stronger bonds. Even without the serum, I think they would have realized it. It would just have taken much, much longer.”

There was a silence.

“What if you're wrong ?”

It was Steve.

“You know Barton and you know what he needs” he said. “But what if you're wrong about Loki ? What if he's just a maniac ?”

His blue eyes were hard as steel. “You took a bet” he said. “He was your best agent and you left him defenseless on a hunch.”

“Not just a hunch” Coulson said softly. “And he's not defenseless.”

“Yeah ?” Tony growled.

His fingers clenched convulsively around the armrests of his chair – he hadn't touched his cup. “Loki took him to fucking Asgard. Who's gonna help him up there ?”

“Thor” Coulson said unblinkingly.

That seemed to derail them a little.

“He left this morning and promised me to report regularly.”

He looked up at them all, and he was a bit pale. “Look, I don't know if Barton will be safe” he said. “I can't be sure this wasn't the biggest mistake of my life as a handler. But this was...”

He gave a dejected smile. “...the least unreasonable thing to do.”

“We will never see him again” Natasha said.

It was the first time she talked ever since Clint had vanished. Her voice sounded frail and trembling, absolutely un-Natasha like.

“He was my friend.”

There was a heavy silence.

“He's still your friend” Coulson said.

“No, Loki made that clear” she answered sharply, suddenly back to her usual self.

She got up, then very calmly spilled her coffee on the floor. Slowly. Until the last drop.

When the cup was empty, she said :

“A slave has no friends.”

She let it crash on the carpet, then turned away and left the room. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Clint had no idea just how much time he had spent in Loki's embrace. He was in such a warm, serene state of mind that he almost didn't react when the demi-god lifted him off the table to carry him to the bed.

Loki lay him on his stomach ; then, to Clint's hazy delight, he secured him to the bedposts – with gentler restraints that did not quite quarter him like before, but still effectively kept him unable even to fold his limbs. The demi-god then took a step back, no doubt drinking in the sight of the tortured body of his slave, exposed and helpless. He could have taken Clint then ; but he merely turned away and the soft sounds of his steps died off.

This had probably been the longest day in the life of the archer. But now he was tied down, where his master wanted him to be, so he had nothing left to worry about.

For the first time in two months, he fell asleep effortlessly and rested with no dreams and no nightmares.

 

*

 

“Up.”

Clint's eyes blinked open. He felt...

He felt really good. Fuck, had he known, he would have asked to be tied down to the bed every night.

A sharp slap on his abused thighs made him jump in stinging pain.

“Up.”

Only then did he realize that he wasn't restrained anymore. He pushed on his arms and got up, scowling when his entire body protested very vividly – he hadn't been so seriously injured in a while. Loki was looking down at him with a smirk in the corner of his mouth. He was wearing his Aesir glamor again, but his eyes flashed red for a second in Clint's memory, and he remembered everything.

A slave. A Jotun's slave, in Asgard.

He was still in too much of a calm state to give into his conflicting emotions, even though Natasha's memory in particular was nagging at him. The welts had already begun to heal, but the pain was true and deep-rooted, like a permanent buzzing under his skin, flaring sharp each time he moved.

Loki's smirk widened as he dropped the restraints he had just removed. “Do I really have to ask a third time ?”

Clint swallowed and quickly got out of the bed to sink to his knees in front of Loki.

“Sorry” he said, throat dry, bowing his head.

Weirdly, the demi-god froze for a split second, as though he had not expected such immediate submission. Clint did not resent him in the slightest for the torture, though. He wondered what that made of him, then decided to just drop it.

Something soft and heavy fell down on his head and he startled. Loki huffed a laugh above him as Clint extricated himself from the pile of cloth – clothes ? Loki had dropped clothes on his head ?

“Dress yourself” the demi-god confirmed. “Then come eat.”

He stilled for a second, then pushed Clint's head down, forcing him to round his back. He slid his hand down, tracing the two deepest cuts across the archer's shoulder blades.

“We have a busy day before us” he added softly. “If you slow us down with even the slightest complaint ; if you let your discomfort show in any way...”

His voice was low and intense. “I will chain you again and take care of your front side.”

Clint swallowed so hard he was certain Loki heard it. “Yessir.”

“Good.”

Loki's hand slid away. “Do not make me wait.”

The archer stayed still until he was gone, then exhaled. Fuck, he was already half-hard.

This wasn't right. This wasn't right at all. Most people would have broken down in sobs of terror, or attempted suicide or something, as to escape this living hell with at least a sliver of dignity left. But no, Clint Barton was beaten bloody and all excited about it.

It wasn't just him though. Although Loki had tried his best to appear nefarious and wicked as usual, the way he had unceremoniously dumped the clothes on Clint and his too-wide smile betrayed a surprisingly sincere joy.

Clint had never seen him happy before.

It had been but a quick spark of glee and it didn't suit him anyway, but the archer still stifled a smile of his own as he unfolded the clothes.

 

 

Surprisingly, they were really nice. Leather, of course, but the underside was soft suede, merciful on his raw flesh. Thankfully, they were tight enough not to chafe – the archer hated loose clothes which got in the way of his shooting – but not ridiculously tight either ; these were true, practical garments, not the humiliating outfit of a sex object. Clint wondered about it for a second, but it seemed that Loki hated unnecessary displays as much as him. The archer wasn't meant only for his sexual pleasure ; he was Loki's slave in every way, and there was no need to rely on such trifling details as clothing to reaffirm it.

Those clothes were actually very similar to his battle gear – only with less pockets and a more alien cut, with asymmetric lapels and a sharp-looking collar. They were still his colors though, black and dark purple, only duller than before. They were comfortable and fitting and decent and Clint shouldn't have been so satisfied over clothes, but the submissive part of him was literally swooning as he slipped them on – for someone else to pick even his clothes really made his enslaved state all the more real.

He got up, wincing when his wounded skin stretched and almost tore again ; but he had endured worse than this now dulled pain, and Loki had ordered him to ignore it anyway. He quickly wiped out his expression of discomfort and went into the other room.

“Sit and feed yourself” the demi-god said when he came in. “You lost quite a lot of blood yesterday. I will not have you fainting.” He smirked slightly. “At least not until the end of the day.”

Clint snorted softly, then sat down. This room was much more pleasant that the first one, which was probably the dungeon or torture chamber or whatever Loki chose to call it. There was a big window piercing through a sloping ceiling, and a rather cold light washed through him. Clint thought he could see trees outside, but he wasn't sure; they were mostly shadows.

It was a bit weird at first. After what Loki had said the day before about slave training, Clint thought he would stay locked in the dark for two months, kneeling and naked at all times, eating scraps from Loki's hand. He was glad for the demi-god's leniency, even though he suspected it wouldn't last.

Well, it wasn't so surprising. Loki wasn't the type to edict rules ; he was the God of Chaos who basked in uncertainty. Clint would have to adapt, think ahead, guess, and mostly – be quick on his feet.

Once again, he was used to it.

He repressed a smirk of his own. There was a dark irony in the fact that his life as an orphan, then a SHIELD agent, then a normal human in a team of superheroes had apparently prepared him to the status of slave. Or had his past subconsciously trained him to yearn submission ?

As always, questions he couldn't answer. He followed Loki's lead and focused on the food instead ; he ate some meat and a small loaf of bread. It tasted strange, but not alien strange – more like ancient strange, as though he was eating at a medieval fest or something. He had honestly had much worse.

This was even weirder now. Loki bringing him down was almost normal, considering how their relationship had started – you have a heart. But eating breakfast with him, without any pain or ropes or dark secrets involved, now that felt strange. Domestic.

The stress of the day before growled in his stomach and he winced slightly.

“Um” he mumbled. “Is there, a... uh... bathroom ?”

Loki nodded absently. He wasn't eating much, but it still seemed to plunge him into depths of contemplation.

“This way” he said, pointing at a small carved door.

Clint nodded, then got up, feeling even more nervous. Now how the fuck would Asgardian toilets look like ? What if he had to ask Loki to explain him how it worked ? He was pretty sure the demi-god's leniency wouldn't stretch that far. Clint wasn't here as a goddamn tourist, and Loki had added nothing to the Jotunheim story the other day. He must be supposed to work it all out by himself.

He still had trouble believing he wasn't on Earth any more, but the confrontation with the Mighty Shakespearean Loo might represent the shock he needed. He pushed the small door and went inside the room – and instantly let out a quick laugh of relief.

It was a brook. A small stream of water, coming out of the stone floor to disappear beneath it again a few feet further, like a carved-out waterfall. Very simple indeed, very elegant, and about as clean as it got.

Clint relieved himself, then washed his hands in the icy, running water, with a vague smile still playing on his lips. Maybe he shouldn't assume this too quickly, but he had a feeling the Asgardian world would be easier to grasp for a Midgardian than the opposite...

A sharp sting of coldness from the inside suddenly made him think otherwise.

He put a hand on his belly. The little blue sphere he had been forced to swallow had not left his stomach. He pictured it, anchored to the walls inside like a parasite, and it made him his skin crawl as though he was covered in spiders – gave him the sudden urge to commit seppuku and rip it out of him. He couldn't help it. He hated magic, so much that it felt like a phobia, or PTSD.

And maybe it was, after what Loki had done to him.

 

When he got out, all the food had vanished from the now pristine table. Well, that meant Clint wouldn't be used for the dishes or the housekeeping. Magic was kinda useful that way. He wasn't horrified by Loki's change of clothes either, come to think of it. So he only hated it when it was inside him, which he supposed was not bound to happen very often.

Still.

“Ready ?” the demi-god asked him, coming his way.

“For what ?”

Loki stared down at him for a split second – then slapped him hard across the face, quick as lighting and brutal as an iron bat. Clint let his head jerk on the side and fought his own urges to hit back ; after a second, he eyed Loki carefully, raising a hand to his red cheek.

The demi-god smirked at him. “Ready ?” he repeated.

The archer swallowed down his anger. “Yessir.”

Loki gave him another small, slightly mocking smile, rookie mistake, Barton – then grabbed his arm and sent the both of them away without further ado.

 

*

 

Okay.

So maybe now Clint believed he wasn't on Earth anymore.

Thor had told him about the Bifrost, sure, but to actually witness it was something else entirely. The archer had never been a big fan of rainbows, but this was incredibly beautiful, a river of sparkling crystal sailing through the endless Universe, each of its atoms catching a different color, as though it was holding within the seeds for a billion more worlds in the making. The abyss below was terrifying ; the skies above, magnificent. And it was all so immense.

Endless. Clint had never truly grasped the meaning of this word before now.

He swallowed thickly and clenched his fists convulsively. He had always loved open spaces, infinite landscapes, but he couldn't appreciate this particular place now, because – it suddenly all crashed on him, everything that had been kept at bay by the pain and the thick walls of Loki's closed house, his old life was over, he had burnt everything to start anew, and there were still so much he would have wished to see, so much he hadn't wanted to lose – he hadn't even thanked Coulson properly, hadn't even hugged Natasha even though she would have punched him, hadn't even shaken hands with Steve, hadn't even jokingly flirted with Tony, hadn't even ruffled Bruce's hair just to see him blush...

His eyes were burning, but Loki had ordered him not to show his pain, so he swallowed it back and clenched his fists harder. His body was taut like a coiled spring, and he felt as though his ribs had clamped on his lungs, like a carnivorous plant, cutting the oxygen off.

“Barton.”

He looked up at Loki and hoped his legendary sullen expression would not fail him now. But there was distant sentiment in the demi-god's eyes – it was strange how soft his features could get when the madness deserted them.

And Clint knew he was out. He winced and looked down, bracing himself for another blow.

Loki's hand cupped his cheek, making him shiver.

“Down on your knees” he murmured.

The archer blinked, frozen for a second.

Then he mechanically sank down. Loki's fingers buried themselves in his hair and pressed the archer's face to his thigh. Clint took a deep, shaky breath, and his wrists crossed behind his back on their own volition.

Loki's thumb was rubbing his scalp, going down to trace the outline of his jaw, and Clint should have hated it, being petted like a dog at his master's feet, but he couldn't fight a wave of desperate gratefulness for the demi-god grounding him when he needed it the most.

He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply the scent of leather and ancient winters. He could already breathe better, and remembered what he had told himself the day before – he would be fine. It would suck sometimes, but he would be fine. He could feel it. He trusted Loki with all his soul, even though he knew how unwise it was.

“Sorry” he breathed.

“No” Loki said lightly. “It's alright.”

Clint took a deeper breath and nodded. His body relaxed and he pressed his cheek against the leather, letting Loki's fingers trail across his hair.

They stayed like this for quite some time. The archer slowly fell down to a state of perfect serenity. Sometimes this was all it took – Loki reminding him that he was in charge. He was settling, his breathing slowing down, warm gratitude filling his body and mind, chasing everything else out.

After a long while, Loki scraped him slightly to jar him out of his haze. Clint was so close to him, so connected, that he knew something big was happening even though he had heard nothing and seen nothing.

“On your feet, Barton” the demi-god murmured. “Do not speak, unless spoken to.”

The archer nodded. That was a strange order from the Silvertongue and had he been in his normal state, he might have asked what was going on – and taken another harsh blow for speaking out of turn. But as he was, Loki could have told him to stand on his head, and he would have done it.

He got up, the pain in his lacerated back and thighs nothing more but a distant hum in the background of his soothed soul. The skies were still endless and crushing, the constellations still foreign to his eyes, but he felt like he could exist in this landscape now, through Loki. He accepted calmly what he saw – the twinkling stars, the simmering bridge, the two riders in the distance.

Thor, he recognized, before thinking distantly that he was lucky to be so down under, or he might have freaked out. He had no idea the thunderer had followed them to Asgard, and he didn't know what it might imply. The hundred questions that would have swarmed his mind were effectively nipped in the bud, though, by the implacable calmness reigning over him.

He had never seen the other rider, but he could guess who he was easily enough. Old man with one eye. He thought distantly of Fury, because it was easier than telling himself that he was about to meet Odin All-Father.

They were in no hurry, the horses walking slowly on the sparkling glass, and it took them maybe ten minutes to reach them. On the other hand, Loki had only waited for them to come forward, like a prince in his court of colors and stars.

Eventually, they met. Half-way between the strange round building behind them, and the golden city in the distance, right where Loki had teleported them. Thor came down from his mount and walked towards Loki, but stopped after a few steps.

“Brother” he nodded. “Thank you for meeting us.”

“Why, it was my genuine pleasure” Loki said in a voice dripping with irony. “And your father came along, how charming.”

Clint was focused. Sharp. He saw everything. Heard everything. Felt everything.

He saw Thor's fists clenching, heard Odin's sharp intake of breath, felt Loki's bitterness and anger beneath the veil of off-handedness. Your father.

And he thought he had a fucked-up family. He wondered if Barney knew about his new-found state as a slave. Probably not. His brother was someone he had lost long before coming to Asgard anyway.

“I understand Midgard absolved you” Odin said dryly. “Why is that ?”

“Oh, probably my rakish charm” Loki muttered. “Mortals – always so vain.”

Clint saw Odin's teeth grinding, heard Thor's slight exhale of frustration, felt Loki tense more and more next to him.

“Thor is telling me you promised them peace and enslaved one of your victors in exchange.”

“Clint Barton” the thunderer mumbled under his breath, his anxious blue eyes fixed on the archer.

Clint stared back, unmoving.

“That... is the relative truth, I suppose” Loki said.

“I cannot allow it” his once-father snapped.

Clint saw Thor staying still, heard Odin's armor shift as he braced himself, felt Loki stiffening like freezing water.

“Humans” Odin growled, “are not your plaything, Loki. Midgard has been off-limits for thousands of years.”

“But did you not breach that taboo yourself ?” Loki said, raising an eyebrow. “Banishing Thor on these muddy lands, did you honestly think your oaf of a son would leave them undisturbed ?”

You disturbed them, Loki. You brought chaos and mayhem with you, as you always do !”

Clint saw Odin's anger, heard the objections Thor did not speak, felt Loki's feeling of injustice, his need to scream, to tear this old face apart, to take control, to take power over this man who had deemed him unfit and unworthy for a thousand years. Thor was the one who had attacked Jotunheim in the first place, but this episode had been completely forgotten, as it seemed. Only Loki was blamed, as always.

“What do you want, old man ?” he said, finally losing patience. “Surely, you did not arrange this meeting only to recall those past wastes.”

“Release the mortal” Odin growled. “No one shall bow before the likes of you.”

Loki clenched his fists. “You have no power over me, All-Father. Not anymore.”

“I cannot banish you indeed” the All-Father hissed, “but I will not allow you to humiliate those who are a hundred times worthier than you !”

Clint felt Loki ready to explode – and said, “Hey, Thor ?”

 

The three gods startled and turned to him.

 

The archer simply stared at Thor.

“Do you mind setting your hammer down ?” he asked calmly.

Thor hesitated, gaping at him.

“I – ”

Clint saw his urge to look at his father for guidance, felt his reluctance to do so in front of Loki, heard him swallow before making his choice and setting his hammer down on the shimmering Bifrost.

“May I ?” Clint asked.

The question was directed both at Loki and Thor. None of them reacted, so he took three steps forward and wrapped his fingers around the handle.

He knew what to do. In this instant, he knew everything.

He closed his eyes and thought of the look of betrayal on Natasha's face, repeated his own lies in his mind, relived the despicable sessions he had participated in, thought of the people he had killed for SHIELD, remembered that he had just broken an oath right now by talking without being talked to.

And he pulled, didn't just pretend but pulled, trying to lift the hammer with all the non-negligible strength of his arms built by decades of archery.

 

Mjölnir didn't move an inch.

 

Clint straightened up with a small smile, which wasn't long to slide off, though. He felt simply content again, and still absolutely quiet as he went back to his place next to Loki.

Then he looked up to Odin, and the words escaped his lips.

“Your turn.”

The All-Father paled terribly. Thor looked like a deer in the headlights. Even Loki's breath hitched.

“What did you say, mortal ?” Odin choked out after a second.

“What ?” Clint retorted, impassive. “Why not give it a try – what are you afraid of ?”

He raised an eyebrow in mock doubt. “You can lift it, right ?”

“Barton” Loki said in a low but amused voice. “Enough.”

Clint bowed his head and said no more. But he had seen Thor's dumbstruck expression, heard the repressed laugh in Loki's throat, and felt the incredible power of the All-Father ready to crush him like an ant for his insolence. He felt his force, his age, his fury, like a tsunami pushing behind a frail dam, and what a stupid, stupid thing to do to insult the most powerful being of the Nine Realms.

To be fair, this guy was kind of a dick.

“Apologies” Loki said, barely hiding his glee. “He is still in training.”

He grabbed Clint's arm. “I believe we are done here” he smirked. “I do thank you for your interest.”

The shimmering colors and the sparkling night sky vanished as they wished themselves away.

 

*

 

“Sir.”

“Wha' ?” Tony mumbled, curled up in the couch.

They had waited all night for news, Tony drinking glass after glass until Steve had stopped him after the second bottle. Natasha had drank most of that one, though. She still looked absolutely sober, her eyes gleaming the dark, a murderous expression on her lovely face. Next to her, Bruce looked completely disarmed, and more ruffled than ever from the lack of sleep. Coulson was dozing off in his chair, his suit just as neat as usual, his features calm, but weary somehow. He looked... dead.

Steve shouldn't think like that, but this was by far the worst night he had ever lived through ever since his awakening in the 21st century. Coulson's 'death' had been a shock, but at the very least they had been able to build upon it. What had happened to Clint – with Clint – was just impossible to rationalize. This wasn't a matter of kinks, like Tony had put it, but a problem of trust, of fear, and anger. Here they were, shouting at Clint for lying to them, for not trusting them with his suffering – and the next second Loki was taking him away forever. They couldn't know whether Coulson's insane plan would work. They couldn't know whether Clint hadn't been coerced somehow into playing this sick game. Where was the truth, where were the lies – they had no way to find out now.

And they couldn't be sure he was still alive. He was at Loki's mercy, and God knew the Trickster didn't foster much of that.

“Sir” Jarvis repeated, for what must be the fourth time.

“What, Jarvis ?” Steve mumbled.

“A message from Mr. Odinson.”

Everyone just startled awake. Coulson's eyes snapped open and he straightened up in his chair, as though he had never been asleep at all.

“Finally” he murmured.

“Wait” Bruce said sleepily. “How – how can he reach Jarvis all the way from Asgard ?”

There is a manifestation of supernatural origin in the lab, doctor” Jarvis answered. “I'll take the liberty of displaying it here.”

Thor's face appeared on the screen, slightly gleaming with the power of the magic transmission.

“My friends” he said, in a voice strangely distorted.

“Barton” Coulson snapped immediately. “Have you seen him ?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“Did he talk to you ?” Tony blurted. “Did he say anything ?”

Not at first.” Thor sighed. “He wasn't allowed. But he overstepped the order to address me.”

“Overstepped” Coulson murmured. “He'll be punished.”

Thor's wince was eloquent. Tony looked at Phil, then at Thor again.

“Why – how did he look ?” he asked hurriedly. “Was he injured ?”

The thunderer hesitated. “I did not see any wounds...”

“But ?” the billionaire snapped. “Come on – what is it ?”

I... did smell herbal salve on him when he stepped forward. Our healers use it to treat serious injuries.”

Everyone weighed that for a moment. Clint was being tortured. Clint was also being looked after.

Steve's fists clenched. Of course Loki would want to drag it out.

“What did he tell you exactly?” he asked before the panic and wrath he could feel bubbling around him exploded.

Thor frowned at him.

“You said Clint spoke to you” Steve insisted. “What did he say ?”

“He asked me to set Mjölnir down, so he could try and lift it.”

A heavy silence fell again, for a different reason.

“...Why would he do that ?”

“I think...” Thor looked like a teenage girl trying to announce her pregnancy to a very cantankerous stepmother. “I think he wanted to prove he was no worthier than my brother.”

He winced even more. “And he insulted the All-Father, by asking him whether he would be able to wield it. He was lucky my father didn't kill him, and he most certainly lost whatever protection he could hope from him.”

They all exchanged puzzled looks. Steve doubted any of them honestly knew what to make of that. This could have meant anything, from defying Loki to serving him blindly as to avoid new tortures.

“Guys” the super-soldier said. “He's alive, alright ? We should focus on that for now –”

“Thor” Natasha called out.

Everyone fell silent.

“Did he look happy ?”

She sounded so weary, Steve thought sadly. She sounded like a true widow now. Not even bothering to hide her pain. Seeking comfort in the oddest places, looking for a reassurance that could not be obtained.

“I – ” Thor murmured. “I could not tell, my friend. He was very... calm.”

“Calm ?”

“Serene” the thunderer confirmed.

"Drugged" Tony breathed.

“Resigned” Bruce mumbled, as if he would know.

Natasha clenched her fists until the knuckles turned white, but didn't add anything.

“Can't we see him ?” Tony asked brutally. “Can't you make him look into your magic mirror ?”

“I am sorry” Thor said. “But Loki has him. And I do not think he will allow it.”

They must look awfully miserable for him to add, “I will try.”

His image wavered, and the next second, Jarvis was only displaying footage of the lab's desperately blank wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

They reappeared in the dark room – and before he could know what hit him, Clint was slammed on his stomach on the polished wood of the big table.

He let out a choked breath of surprise ; a golden glow rose around him and okay, magic clothes, and the next second he found himself naked. The demi-god twisted his arms in his back and strapped them firmly together, then brutally locked his mouth shut with a tight leather muzzle. He grabbed Clint's ass, fingers digging in, spreading him open ; the archer could only feel the dripping head of his cock brushing at his entrance – before Loki gripped his hips and violently took him.

Clint arched and choked. He hadn't been penetrated in nearly two months ; he had used his fingers maybe once or twice, but it never did help him. He was tight like a virgin, like the first time Loki had held him down to soothe his drug-induced lust. It was a miracle he wasn't tearing up, but it still hurt as fuck – he moaned loudly when Loki thrusted deep into him, impaling him mercilessly, his hands like a vice around his lacerated hips.

There had been no explanation, no foreplay whatsoever – and wasn't that the proper way to fuck a slave. Loki pounded into him, panting with pleasure in echo to the archer's inarticulate moans, quartering him on the thick table. His breath started to hitch with each thrust ; Clint heard him lick his lips, then moan harshly – and suddenly, he stilled and came with a long shudder, pushing deep into the archer to spill completely into his ass.

His breathing did not slow down, though ; and the next second, he started moving again, with deeper, less feral thrusts, which were somehow even more maddening – because it meant he was taking the time to enjoy the sight, and Clint knew how he must look like, helpless and pinned down on the dark wood, choking on his gag, struggling in vain against his bonds, his back and abused ass a painting of bloody lashes. In the corner of his eye, he noticed the stains of dried blood on the floor. Loki could have made them disappear in a flash, but he obviously loved to keep evidence of past tortures. He literally fed off Clint's suffering.

The archer wondered how the room would look after two months.

A sudden snap of Loki's hips shattered his thoughts, and he buckled – then shouted under the gag at the next harsher impalement ; it must please Loki, since he did it again, and again and again, ramming his hard cock into Clint's ass until his screams eventually brought him over the edge for the second time. This time, his seed dripped out of the archer's ass, sticking to his inner thighs, making him shudder with humiliation. Clint hated it, hated to feel the proof of someone spilling inside him – but of course, in his present state, he loved what he hated.

Loki stayed inside him unmoving for a second, chest heaving, then flicked open Clint's muzzle while he collected come on his inner thighs with his other hand. The archer squirmed and let out a muffled plead, only too aware of what was coming – but of course, his reluctance only excited the demi-god more. He ripped off the gag and pushed his fingers into Clint's mouth. The archer felt tears welling in his eyes, but still licked the demi-god's come off his fingers, with quick swipes of his tongue, trembling and still softly whimpering from his punishment.

Loki's last pant sounded more like a huffed laugh ; and indeed, a moment later, he began to laugh ; not an ominous laugh of doom, not a bitter little snigger, but a true, liberating laugh of unsullied joy, as though he only realized now that he was alive.

“Oh” he panted after a while, slumping forward, his voice still colored with mirth. “In Hel's name, Barton.”

Clint huffed through his nose, because – that really sounded too much like an exulting praise, and not just because Loki had just come twice in five minutes. He didn't know whether this had just been really a punishment for speaking out of turn, or a reward for humiliating Odin All-Father of all people. He did know, though, that he was throbbingly hard under the table, whose edge was beginning to dig seriously into his hipbones.

He startled violently when Loki's hand wrapped around his twitching cock. Okay – this was a reward. Why would Loki react so intensely – had Clint really been the first one to tell Odin to fuck off in two thousand years ?

“Yes” he gasped desperately. “Yes, please, yes !”

The demi-god grinned and squeezed him, bending over him to nibble at his ear, sending thrills down the archer's spine. With the weight of Loki's body pinning him down and the edge of the table digging in his bones, it only took four or five strokes for Clint to fall apart with a completely obscene moan, coming so hard he was incoherent for a second, his thighs trembling and his feet kicking under the table. Loki finally pulled out and the archer stayed there, still tied up, utterly devastated and breathing in shivering pants that almost sounded like sobs. He could feel his hole gaping and twitching after Loki's brutal breaching.

He was beginning to see what constant submission felt like – he had woken up this morning still thoroughly shaken up ; Loki had brought him very deep down on the Bifrost ; and now, this. Yes, he could feel the continuity.

And fuck if it wasn't worth selling his soul.

He thought he would get a break, but even after two rather considerable orgasms, the demi-god wasn't done with him – his level of arousal had really hit the roof. Clint regretted nothing. Hell, he was still trying to gather his thoughts after his own storming climax. Maybe he should insult the king of Asgard more often.

When Loki grabbed his hair, he just hissed between his teeth and let himself be manhandled into climbing entirely on the table. He was pushed on his stomach and Loki tied him down, using the restraints in the angles and tightening them until he nearly couldn't move. He pushed the gag between the archer's jaws again, smiling at his soft, pleading moan, which he ignored completely ; he then parted his abused ass and pushed a plug inside. Clint thought of Loki's come still inside him and moaned softly against the table – louder when the demi-god pushed the toy all the way inside him. He fisted the archer's wet hair again and laughed a little when he felt the tremors wracking his body. Punishment, reward – it seemed like he didn't know which one to choose and gleefully mixed them both.

“Well” he mused in a subdued voice, twisting his fistful of hair until tears welled in the archer's eyes.

He dropped his hand and smirked. “I could use a long bath.”

He turned away, sweat glistening in the crease of his immaculate back and curling his black hair, and left the archer there to moan and grind hopelessly against the wooden surface, his abused body damp with sweat and come.

 

*

 

Clint spent maybe four or five hours straight strapped to the table. When Loki came back for him, he nearly whimpered with anticipated relief.

The demi-god looked rested and positively healthy in his perfectly neat clothes. Clint made a grim contrast, incoherent and hazy, bathed in his own filth. Loki chuckled slightly, then untied his ankles but left his wrists spread, and hoisted his hips up so he would kneel with his head bowed and his arms extended like a man in prayer. Clint shuddered at how thoroughly exposed he was in this position. He remembered having his rim whipped. He had grown hard again almost immediately after Loki had left him alone, and such thoughts didn't help.

Loki cupped Clint's ass, then ripped the plug out. The archer tensed as though he had been struck with a whip – screwing his eyes shut – then relaxed again. The demi-god chuckled, then dropped the plug and slid two fingers inside, smirking at the archer's immediate reaction. Clint was in so much pain from his lingering erection that would have begged and implored shamelessly if not for the muzzle on his mouth. Being plugged for hours had left him extremely sensitive ; when the demi-god pushed his fingers further and crooked them to press on his prostate, he buckled and let out a muffled plea, closing his eyes with a long shudder when the demi-god rubbed his spot with small circling motions.

Loki grinned, then suddenly pulled out and gave a harsh slap on his ass. Clint startled with the shock and bit in his gag – then groaned when the demi-god hit him again, making him jolt. Loki cupped his flaming ass for a second, then smacked him again – then again, and again, and again, making the archer buckle more violently with each blow. The ruthless spanking went on until Clint's pants turned into moans of pain and the deepest cuts on his ass reopened, adding blood to the sticky mix of sweat and come on his inner thighs.

Only then did Loki grab his cock and jerk him off so hard it was almost an ordeal in itself. Clint closed his eyes and tugged on his restraints, twisting in his position of utter submission, face down, ass up, unable not to bow his head – he was exhausted by the hours of torture, and when he came for the second time, he felt like he had spilled every last drop of his energy along with his seed. He began shaking uncontrollably with relief and exertion, moaning behind the gag.

Loki left his come to dry on the polished wood ; he untied Clint's wrists and let him slide down on his knees to the cold floor. Grabbing his cuffs again, he clasped them to a chain hanging from the ceiling which retracted slowly, until Clint had to get up on his feet, then on his toes ; he was too tired to keep his balance though, and let himself hang in the chains, still shivering with exhaustion.

Something warm and wet brushed the small of his back and he jumped.

Loki sharply pulled his hair. “Stay still or stay there for five hours more.”

Clint couldn't have taken that. He very carefully avoided to move when the damp cloth came over him again. Loki cleaned his back, ass and thighs very carefully, mindful of the welts, then wrung the cloth in his hair, warm water dripping onto Clint's forehead and down his cheeks. He wiped his face softly, did his nape and throat, came down on his arms, his chest and stomach, then slipped the warm cloth between his thighs and spent a long time on the cleft of his ass, on his balls, and on his dick. The archer closed his eyes with humiliation, but he was so tired and the spreading warmth felt so good that even Loki's soft laugh awoke no anger in him.

“Aren't you sweet” the demi-god mocked, pushing between his ass cheeks to rub at his rim. “My little domesticated hawk.”

In this instant, Clint was tamed indeed, trembling and pliant, his mind and body at Loki's complete mercy. The demi-god discarded the cloth, then finally unbuckled his muzzle, making him moan in relief ; he framed his face in a strange, tender gesture, waited for a few breaths then pressed their mouths together. Clint whimpered softly against him, unable even to kiss back. He let his head fall down when Loki released him, hanging limp in his chains. His shoulders were in agony, but the next second, the demi-god scooped him up and lifted him off the floor. The chain unclasped itself and the archer exhaled a shaky breath of relief, clumsily wrapping his arms around Loki's neck.

He let his head rest against Loki's shoulder and sighed deeply when he was carried to the bed and laid down on the blissfully soft mattress. His legs and arms got outstretched and tied down again but with more length of rope this time, allowing him to relax.

He felt so mellow he didn't even react when Loki spread his legs. One minute later, the demi-god was pushing into him again, using his loosened hole with slow, deep thrusts. He had lubed himself beforehand and it was slick and easy, and although Clint had already come, he took it hazily, without pain or even discomfort, humming in dull pleasure at a sharper thrust. He felt still warm and limp from his cleaning. After a few minutes, the demi-god pulled out and came over his ass and small of his back, painting him with warm trails of come, dirtying him again as though he didn't want to leave him too clean.

He smeared come on the brand mark with his thumb.

A full-body shudder went through Clint and he felt himself drifting off. The warm hands kept rubbing him, massaging his strained shoulders, careful to avoid the lacerations though. His mind was a fog of good, good, good. He closed his eyes and passed out, or fell asleep, or both.

 

*

 

Loki's fingers in his hair woke him up a few hours later.

The demi-god untied his loose restraints while the archer slowly came to his senses. His internal clock told him it was late afternoon ; he was still tired, but he had a feeling not much more of him would be demanded today.

“Dress yourself” Loki said, “then come eat.”

Clint straightened up and realized he was, in fact, ravenous. He had done marathon sex once or twice before, and there had always been pizza involved. He didn't know what to expect now, but he knew Asgardian food wouldn't let him down.

Indeed, when he came into what he now called the living-room – this wide, open place where cold daylight flowed – everything smelled delicious. Loki was already eating and didn't make any comments when he sat down. Clint hesitated, unsure whether he needed his permission to eat, but once again he realized that Loki mostly despised such details. He grabbed a leg of – turkey ? and devoured it in seconds, then started eating more slowly.

“How does it work ?” he suddenly asked.

Loki raised shrewd eyes upon him and Clint realized his question might sound like he was asking his dom for precise rules, which was not how the demi-god functioned – nor how Clint himself functioned, for that matter.

“How does this place work ?” he developed quickly. “With all the food and the instant furniture and... you said Asgard, but I don't even know where we are exactly.”

The demi-god shrugged elegantly, but deigned him with an answer.

“This is my house” he said. “I built it over the years. Each room exists in a different place, and they are all linked by magic.”

“You can do that ? Jumping from one place to another all the time – isn't it... demanding ?”

“Such magic is usually consuming” Loki agreed. “But I am not required to personally teleport – otherwise, you would not be able to cross the thresholds, Barton. It is the house itself who does it, thanks to the spells I embedded in the walls.” He took a small bite. “A long-term investment, if you will.”

Clint gaped at him. He didn't know shit about magic, but that sounded like tremendously hard work – and it was a real proof that the demi-god was far from being all about destruction. On the contrary ; Loki had spent a lot of time and efforts in creating a place that would welcome him at all times, which was telling enough as to his general life.

Even though, the rooms gave an overall cold and Spartan impression. It was all stone floors, empty spaces and dark furniture. Suffocating with loneliness. As though the demi-god had tried desperately to build a home, but came across his own nature in the process.

“It's amazing” Clint heard himself say.

He looked up and saw Loki staring at him with surprise.

“What ?” he murmured.

“This place is amazing” the archer repeated seriously – and it felt weird to pronounce such words in such a grave tone. “I can't imagine how hard it was to build.”

The demi-god just looked at him and said nothing. Clint began to feel vaguely embarrassed.

“Does – ” he bit back the name just in time, even though he didn't know himself if he had been about to say Thor or Odin. “Does anyone know about it ?”

“Er – no” Loki said, still looking a bit baffled. “Only me. And you now.”

He looked down at his plate, stared at it for a second, as though trying to remember what he was supposed to do with all this. Then he stabbed a small piece of meat and resumed eating in silence.

Out of nowhere, Clint felt the weird urge to hug him. He lowered his eyes and quickly stifled that inane thought.

He still couldn't ignore the fact that the demi-god had shared his two biggest secrets with him the very day he had brought him here. And that if what the archer knew of him was to be believed, Loki had never owned anything he hadn't created himself – until Clint Barton.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clint was tied down again on his stomach that night – because of his injuries, he suspected. The demi-god was a lot more mindful than he looked. The archer almost wondered whether he would join him in bed, but Loki just locked him alone and went on his way. After all, this was the torture room – and it looked more and more like it, what with the blood-stained floor, the chains hanging from the ceiling, and the dark table smeared with white and red.

But this couldn't be the main reason for Loki's defection. Jotnar, just like Aesir, probably didn't need to sleep much ; if Loki's disguise had managed to fool everyone including himself for a thousand years, it meant the two races were practically identical except for how they looked.

Funny how nobody else seemed to do the math.

Clint sighed and pulled on his restraints ; comforted by the bonds digging slightly in his wrists and ankles, he drifted off into a dreamless sleep, which he was very thankful for.

 

*

 

The next morning, he found his clothes waiting for him along with a loaf of bread. He ate it in two bites while getting dressed ; he knew what that meant. Seriously, it was ridiculous just how many mechanisms of his old life he re-used – always eat early before a busy day. Loki had plans for him.

He went into the living room as soon as he was done.

“Catch” Loki said just as he entered.

Clint's reflexes were even more sharpened by the fact that the demi-god had thrown him his bow and quiver. He tried not to look too overjoyed, but he couldn't keep his lips from stretching into a small, true smile as he looked down at them, that oh-so-familiar weight in his hands, when he had thought for a second that he would never be allowed to touch his weapon again.

He quickly buckled it in place and felt the line of his shoulders relax minutely. Despite everything, it felt good to have a piece of home.

His stomach churned and he pushed the thought away. Better not go down that road.

“Now come” Loki said, turning away with his leather coat billowing at each step.

Clint followed him, finding comfort in his well-adjusted uniform and the weapon strapped in his back. The pain in his body was seriously subsiding ; Loki had probably washed him with a healing water, since only his deepest cuts threatened to reopen now, the others reduced to thin scars crisscrossing his back and thighs. Healing so fast was nice ; this was how Steve must fell all the time.

But he shouldn't be thinking about Steve.

Loki led him to a room where there was absolutely nothing. When he shut the door, it disappeared as well, leaving them both in a completely empty cube. Clint looked around curiously – now that was new.

“There is an old Vanir saying” the demi-god declared, “which can be translated as, 'art is when you listen to the Universe ; magic is when the Universe listens to you'.”

He turned to encompass the blank walls with satisfaction.

“I built this room so it would listen unconditionally. A trained sorcerer is virtually omnipotent inside it – I think even you could use it partly, with a bit of practice.”

Clint blinked at him. “Me ? But I don't have any powers or shit – I'm 100% human.”

“Magic is about exterior sources – but that is not my point” the demi-god cut himself off.

Sometimes, he reminded Clint of Bruce Banner – filled with a tremendous sum of knowledge he was compelled to hide, but which still escaped him in small bursts sometimes, like puffs of steam.

He fidgeted with his bow and tried not to think of Bruce, or anyone else.

“Let us begin” the demi-god said.

He snapped his fingers and the walls undulated – suddenly, they found themselves on a floating platform with thousands of small spheres flying around them in erratic circles. Clint startled, but quirked a smile shortly after.

Yeah, alright – it was a simulator. The X-Men had those too, and they seemed like a lot of fun. Of course, Loki probably had a different idea for the use of...

He looked at the floating spheres and thought again. No – Loki planned to use it for exactly the same purpose. He looked at the demi-god, who nodded in confirmation.

Clint snapped open his bow and took out an arrow, ready to aim at one of the little drifting spheres, but stopped again with a hesitant frown.

He turned to Loki.

“Are you asking me to show off ?”

“I am ordering you to 'show off', Barton” Loki said, setting the spheres in a faster motion by twirling his fingers. “Let me see how useful you can be.”

He hadn't finished talking that the first sphere was already bursting out.

 

*

 

Clint Barton saw better from a distance. He always fell one step behind his teammates. He watched everyone's back. He was a shadow, a spy, a hawk in the sun, and although he had happened to enjoy reactions of surprise and awe at his aim, he didn't get to shine so often.

If it was an order, then by all means – he would show the fuck off.

He never got to let himself go except on the range, which grew boring real fast - even though it had improved slightly since Tony Stark had provided him with a few drone targets for his amusement.

This was so much better.

The spheres were just floating at random at first, but after he took down the first hundred in the blink of an eye, Loki took control of them – and they started to fight back. This could have been all fun and games, the master playing fetch with his pet ; but Clint had never felt less humiliated, never more challenged as an agent and a free man.

He did begin to fear for his life, though. Not a word of praise escaped Loki's lips ; he was as merciless in his tests as he was in everything else, and every time Clint hit a target, the demi-god just raised up the bar. At first the spheres were empty ; five minutes later, they would burst with acid, spikes or fucking snakes every time the archer hit them. Their round form morphed into razor-sharp edges, like so many flying blades, and Clint couldn't just stand and shoot anymore – he had to dodge and roll and run despite the protests of his abused body if he didn't want to be cut into pieces. He was having tremendous fun – his quiver never seemed to get empty, his blood was thumping with adrenalin, his mind was sharper than a newly cut diamond, and he just felt so fucking good. 

He didn't even realize that he hadn't missed a single of them from the beginning, didn't even realize that he had escaped every single weapon thrown at him, didn't even realize that Loki was now trying his best to kill him and that he still survived – didn't even realize just how impossibly good he was.

Then an umpteenth sphere blew up in ; red hair whipped his face.

 

Something shattered inside him and the next second, a sharp pain burst through his chest.

 

He looked down, his trembling breath the only sound in the thick silence.

It wasn't hair.

It was feathers.

Red feathers strapped to the poisoned dart piercing through his torso. He choked ; his blood curdled in his veins, and he fell down. The millions of spheres were twirling in silence around him.

Clint choked again when the poison made his lungs swell in his chest.

He was crying, but it wasn't with pain. He had let the dart hit him because he had seen something else instead for a split second. Someone else. And he knew Loki knew it, because this sounded like something the demi-god would do.

Using his lost friends as targets.

And why wouldn't it be part of his training ? Why wouldn't he be brain-washed again against them, this time without any hope of ever being brought back ? Why hadn't it been Tony, Steve or Bruce falling out of the spheres to attack him ? If the archer served Loki, he might face them eventually. He must forget them anyway.

He fell on all fours, unable to breathe through his swelled windpipe, staring at the red feathers through a veil of tears. He was crying, because when he pictured himself with a knife on Natasha's throat and Loki ordering him to kill her, he couldn't tell how the story ended.

And it terrified him.

Suddenly, the dart disappeared along with the rest of the illusion ; the air flowed back in his lungs as the poison vanished from his veins, and he slumped forward, panting and gasping desperately through his sobs.

Loki stayed where he was, tall and dark in the white room. Clint could feel the weight of his deadly disapproval even through his suffocating despair. He had fucked up. Really fucked up. What Loki prized the most in him was his complete submission, and Clint had just given him the proof that Midgardian roots were still embedded deeply in his mind.

“Get up” the demi-god said in a low, razor-sharp voice.

Clint swallowed again, then complied. He forced himself to stare into Loki's eyes and felt his stifled sobs receding as the blank, sullen persona he had built himself through countless missions took over, like an armor, and wiped the emotion off his face.

He couldn't wipe the wetness off his cheeks, though. This time, he was in real trouble.

Loki's order fell like a scythe.

“Strip.”

The archer said nothing and unbuckled his bow and quiver before shedding his clothes. Loki invoked a leather collar and strapped it tightly around his neck, forcing him to raise his chin ; he then cuffed his hands behind his back with a single, long cuff that blocked his arms parallel to each other, like a single sheath for two blades. He clasped a leash to the O-ring and invoked the door, which opened on the torture chambers.

He led Clint into the dim-lit room, and the archer instantly noticed the gleaming cage next to the bed. It was very narrow, crafted especially for his discomfort ; he wouldn't be able to stand, nor could he lie down otherwise than folded on himself.

“No” he mumbled.

It wouldn't be of any use, because he would never let go of their memory, no matter what he endured. He couldn't allow that to happen again.

The demi-god tugged at his leash, forcing him to put a knee down, then both knees, then his face and shoulders, exposing his ass like he was begging for a spanking. Clint felt Loki's fingers prodding at his entrance ; two of them pushed in and he screwed his eyes shut when they scissored inside – then snapped his eyes open, when a dildo of non-negligible size was forced inside him. He squirmed and got himself a sharp slap on his lacerated ass as a reward. Four straps were attached on the other end of the cock ; Loki secured them around his upper thighs so there would be no chances of it slipping out of Clint's ass.

He let the archer kneel up and opened the gleaming metal door.

“Get inside.”

Clint crawled inside reluctantly. Even more than the toy ploughing his ass, he hated the thought of being caged like this, like a disobedient pet. The bars were cold.

Loki locked the door, then straightened up. The archer looked up at him in silence, more humiliated than ever. His tears had not dried out yet, but there was no mercy in the displeased eyes of the demi-god.

He grabbed the metal cage and lifted it – it must weigh a ton, but he lifted it nonetheless and slammed him on the table, causing Clint to hit the bars painfully. The demi-god reached inside and grabbed the archer's leash to tie it to the bars above his head, forcing him to kneel up as high as he could not to get strangled. He spread his thighs and strapped them to the bars on each side, keeping Clint effectively open, unable to move in any way.

He then reached inside again and placed a metal cock ring on Clint's dick and balls, tightening it until the archer felt like his parts were going to be cut off – he didn't let out a sound though, didn't moan or beg. He wouldn't break. Not this time.

So you think, an unpleasant voice said in his head. After all, he was being knocked into shape. Others slaves must have thought the same during their own training at the hands of more lenient masters.

I won't break.

He startled when Loki grabbed his cock and started to stroke him. He grew hard in a minute, although the cock ring made it extremely uncomfortable. The demi-god stopped, then started again, stopping every time he felt the orgasm build, then beginning again, stroking in a dull, obsessive rhythm.

At first, Clint didn't get it – he thought it was only orgasm denial, which didn't matter since he really didn't feel like coming right now. But that wasn't it.

He had never been milked before. It took a lot of knowledge and instinct from the torturer to make him come without any pleasure, but of course Loki knew how to do it. After a few minutes, Clint sucked in a breath and ejaculated without feeling a thing, neither pleasure nor relief, as though his cock belonged to someone else, pulsing like he was pissing himself. It was a horrible feeling, only adding to his humiliation as he emptied his come into the bowl Loki had placed under him.

The bowl ?

The demi-god placed it in the corner of his cage. Clint almost barked an insult at him. If that bastard thought –

– the big dildo in his ass began to buzz like a crazed hornet and the archer buckled down, almost strangling himself in his own collar. 

“Learn your place” Loki said coldly.

Clint bit back a retort and let his flaming eyes speak for himself. The demi-god stared back.

“Your pride” he said in a low voice. “I will rip it off you, Barton. You will beg. You will break.”

“Not this time” the archer panted fiercely – he couldn't help himself.

Loki didn't bat an eyelid. “We will see.”

He untied Clint's leash from the bars, freed his thighs as well, then nodded at the bowl. “Eat it.”

The archer rested on his calves and didn't move. 

“I am in no hurry” Loki said. “You will lick this bowl clean of your filth, Barton.”

He turned away and left.

Clint shifted a little, but his back instantly met the bars when he tried to kneel up. He was still cuffed, still collared, and he felt wrecked with despair. The huge dildo buzzing in his ass, right against his prostate, was driving him crazy. After long minutes, he grew hard in the cock ring again – he couldn't help it – but his arms were still mercilessly bound ; he couldn't relieve himself. The bars were making his breath hitch with claustrophobia, made him want to scream at being caged like a rat.

Fuck, the day had started so well. He had endured worse tortures, though ; the difference was that he wasn't disposed to let go this time. What if he still thought of his friends ? It didn't change anything. He was Loki's. He just wouldn't obey him if he ordered him to hurt them in any way.

But that was the problem, of course. A slave that plans to disobey even a single order is no slave at all. Clint needed to be trained. To be broken.

He closed his eyes and shielded himself.

I won't break.

 

When Loki came back several hours later, the archer was in great pain from his stiff muscles and spine. He screwed his eyes shut while the demi-god milked him again, disgusted with himself as he pulsed his warm seed into the bowl. Loki stared down at him with cold eyes.

“Eat it.”

Clint didn't move. Loki simply turned away and left him to his predicament.

The archer fought back his tears – and arched with a terrible moan when the vibrations of the dildo strapped up his ass increased in power. He pressed his face to the bars, breathing deeply. He wouldn't break. He wouldn't break.

 

When Loki milked him for the third time, adding another load to the cold seed in the bowl, he couldn't keep scalding tears from rolling down his face. He refused to eat once again, his stomach churning at the mere thought of it. His ass was getting raw from the merciless pounding of the toy. He was more and more uncomfortable in the narrow bars, his stiff arms, back and legs aching all over.

He didn't say anything and the demi-god left once again.

 

Clint spent two entire days locked down in the cage, fed nothing but his own come.

He was getting awfully thirsty. Loki had milked him more times than he could remember, and his body was completely wrung out. The bowl, on the other hand, was nearly full now.

I won't break, he thought hazily, but he couldn't remember why he had these thoughts. He was nothing but pain. Why not give in to his master ? He wanted to be good. He wanted it to stop.

Nat, he thought desperately. But it was stupid. She wasn't there. Loki had never even ordered him to hurt her. He just wanted Clint to obey him without question. Without thinking. He wanted him to be his weapon, his soldier, his fucktoy, his pet. His slave.

He had barely slept, curled up between the uncomfortable bars. He was in agony, his body stiff and bent and aching. The toy in his ass was a torture in itself, the rim now bleeding with the endless vibration, red drops rolling down his trapped balls. He was so desperate and so cold, trembling uncontrollably, disgusted with the grime covering his body, tears rolling endlessly down his cheeks. He couldn't take this anymore. He just wanted it to end.

He had withstood torture for days more than once before. He should have been stronger than this. But the torturers hadn't made him feel guilty. This time, he was wrecked with shame at having disobeyed even in thought. At having being so stubborn. He had brought this upon himself and he deserved every second of the torture.

He was Loki's slave. What was he doing ? He was Loki's slave.

“Sir” he rasped when the demi-god came to milk him yet again. “Please. Sir. Please.”

He was half-crazy with dehydration and sleep deprivation.

“I'm sorry” he sobbed. “I'm so sorry. Please, sir, let me out. I will do anything.”

“You know what I want” Loki said without an ounce of pity.

The archer swallowed his tears. He was shaking like a leaf in the wind.

He crawled an inch forward on his aching knees, then bowed his head and lapped his own stale come off the bowl, like a dog, like an animal, sobbing all the way, swallowing in quick little gulps which made him retch, then licking it clean until there was nothing left. He swallowed the last drops thickly, almost gagged, then put his forehead on the floor and stayed there, shaking with sobs.

He didn't even realize the demi-god had opened the cage and pulled him out. When his arms were untied and the toy unstrapped and pulled out from his ass, the pain was too intense for his exhausted body ; a spasm coursed through him and he blacked out.

 

 

 

 

 

When he woke up, he felt like he had slept for years.

 

 

All the pain was gone. He wasn't thirsty anymore. He wasn't even tied to the bed, and a blanket covered his naked body entirely.

Loki was sitting next to the bed, his blue gaze fixed on him.

Clint sighed. Tears were already pricking at his eyes again. To think he had never cried since his teenage days, until Loki came along.

“I thought I would have to kill you, Barton” the demi-god said composedly.

The worst part was that Clint wasn't even blaming him. Speaking out of turn was one thing. But what had transpired in the simulator threatened their entire relationship. Clint had to learn how to kill his friends. How to be Loki's weapon and instrument of pain.

Unfortunately, he knew this simply couldn't be.

He shifted slightly under the sheets. “Have you never had something you wanted to protect, no matter the price ?” he asked desperately. “Something you would die for ?”

Loki simply stared at him. Clint waited for his answer, but nothing came.

When he couldn't bear those blue eyes on him anymore, he closed his own. “I'm sorry” he rasped. “I took myself hostage. I deserved the punishment.”

“You chose your life over your dignity after all” Loki shrugged.

The archer clenched his jaw. He didn't want to remember his days in the cage and how far he had fallen in the end.

“Yeah, but – if I must be honest” he uttered, “even now, I can't... I couldn't hurt them.”

He looked down with a defeated gesture. “So kill me off.”

Loki stared at him for a minute, then rubbed two slender fingers on his pale face.

“Barton” he said. “Just how stupid do you think I am ?”

Clint blinked at him.

The demi-god stared at him for a second, then looked down and sighed.

“Some masters enjoy placing their slaves between a rock and a hard place” he said. “They trick them into being faulted just so they can punish them.”

His voice had never been so cold when he went on, “They are just shameful, pathetic beings who refuse to admit how much they enjoy bringing pain. They try to find themselves excuses, justifications other than their sheer pleasure. But blaming it all on the slave is petty and despicable.”

He chuckled without smiling. “Not to mention dangerous – many of these pathetic lords found their end at the hands of torture pets they had let live for just a day too long.”

He paused, then laced his fingers. “I know you once loved, Clint Barton” he said simply. “I am not enough of a fool to threaten what you loved.”

Clint was amazed.

“But – ” he stammered. “If there are orders you can't give me...”

“Who says I can't ?” Loki said.

He leaned back in his chair.

“Make no mistake, you have no say in the matter. I can force you to aim at the one target you refuse to hit.” He shrugged. “But this would be a foolish order to give, because I will give it knowing that you will miss on purpose, and that I will then have to torture you to death for your disobedience. We both lose. You are mine, Barton ; which means I must be clever for us both. Make the choices for us both.”

A heavy silence stretched as Loki's words sank into Clint's mind.

Yes, he understood now. He also understood that Loki was much wiser than people gave him credit for. The demi-god might be a skilled liar, but at least he was honest about the pleasure he found in torturing the archer. And some people could have deemed him a monster for it, but Clint was in a better place to judge, and he realized just how important it was that neither the sub nor the dom be in denial. Even slavery – or especially slavery – had its subtleties ; they must both embrace their end of this pain exchange for it to work without poisoning them. And they must both understand what was expected from them in their respective roles. For the slave to obey, of course ; but also for the master to be worthy of the power he had. Loki was doing everything so they could function in complete, doubtless efficiency at the end of their two months.

“Wow” the archer muttered, taken aback.

He blinked once or twice. “Wow” he repeated, lower. “I'm a real moron.”

“No” Loki said lightly. “You were right to put up a fight for your friends ; and I was right to break you in retaliation.”

Clint nodded, throat dry. Maybe the demi-god should have told him those things earlier – but no, the archer wouldn't have been able to understand then. In this instant though, he fully realized how it meant to be in training – he was really being taught lessons in submission, he was learning and actually changing.

Loki had made it clear, though – Clint was meant to keep fighting always. No fun in enslaving in a slave ; no matter how paradoxical it might sound, Loki wanted a free man to own. He had no interest in hapless rags. What he wished to possess wasn't a whimpering, broken animal, but Clint Francis Barton, former agent of SHIELD, fully dedicated to serve him with every fiber of his being.

This was the difference between true slavery and crass subservience. Clint could see the beauty, the difficulty of it now.

And he was eager to follow that road.

“I get it” he murmured. “I think I get it.”

The demi-god smirked. “Let us hope so” he said. “You looked good in a cage, Barton, but I would rather not starve you again if I can avoid it.”

“Yeah, you and me both” Clint muttered.

Loki straightened up in his chair. “Speaking of which. Are you hungry ?”

The archer's stomach unfolded a little in disbelieving hope. “Fuck yes.”

“Beg” Loki said brutally.

The archer didn't miss a beat. “Please let me eat, sir.”

His own swiftness surprised them both. Loki smiled again and Clint felt his stomach flutter for a whole different reason.

“Well” the demi-god said, getting up. “Come along, then.”

The archer got on his feet – and wavered when a powerful dizziness seized him. Loki grabbed him by the arm to keep him from falling down, but a huffed laugh escaped him when he felt the tremors coursing through the archer's body pressed against his. He had tortured Clint into exhaustion, and freaking loved it.

Fucking psychopath.

But that made him exactly what the archer needed. So he just leaned against him, and let himself be helped into the living room, to the feast awaiting them both.

 

*

 

“Oh, I nearly forgot” Loki said a few minutes later between two bites.

He smirked at Clint.

“Congratulations on your first week.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

This had been a very, very agitated first week – as expected, Loki pulled no punches. The fact that he loved torturing Clint certainly did not help. But after the rather excruciating ordeals the archer had been put through, he found the next days to unfold a lot more easily. His lacerations were now completely healed ; his ass and back didn't hurt anymore either. The soiled cage had been left next to the bed, just like all the other evidence of his tortures, but Clint didn't see them as taunts from Loki ; rather as reminders that he had been through all this, and got something out of each of his screams of pain, or sobs of humiliation. He could almost feel his mind beginning to shape itself like Loki wanted, his serene state every time easier to reach, just at the edge of his consciousness. His submissive soul loved to bits the idea of someone else molding him like clay.

I'm yours, he thought with delight when Loki brought him to his knees the day after the cage incident. Yours, yours, yours. And when the demi-god ordered him to open his mouth, when he pushed his heavy cock on his tongue, Clint sucked eagerly, loving every second of it, nearly climaxing himself when Loki came inside his mouth and held his hair in a firm grip until he had swallowed. The demi-god's smile was still wicked, still carrying the promise of tortures to come ; but it was also tinged with pride now at Clint's progress. The archer thought less and less of how he would have looked to his friends or his old self.

Loki opened two new rooms of the house to him. First, there was the bathroom, with floors of polished stone and boiling hot water. Clint wasn't allowed to bath for more than fifteen minutes each day, and he tried to make the most of it.

Second was the library.

It was really impressive, with dark shelves that could withstand an earthquake and thousands of books from every corner of the Nine Realms. Clint was very surprised to find even French, Russian, Japanese and English literature.

“You read Midgardian stuff ?” he asked that day.

Loki had stayed at the door, watching him explore his library with a small smile, which widened at the question.

“Why not, Barton ?”

“I thought... I don't know.”

Indeed it made sense. Loki had seemed to know everything about Earth from the beginning – while Thor had adapted only through many cultural clashes, either funny or disastrous. Clint kept looking and found a few more books of fiction from South America, along with German philosophy, and more. All the good stuff, I guess.

“I take what is worth taking” Loki said in answer to his unspoken question.

Clint looked at the thousands of volumes.

“You've been doing this for some time, didn't you ? Scavenging the other Realms for knowledge.”

“Not just knowledge” Loki murmured. “But yes.”

Once again, the archer was struck by the painful loneliness the whole room seemed to carry. Nobody knew about Loki's fantastic collection. Nobody knew about his endless research.

What was he looking for anyway ?

“The general facts about Yggdrasil are on the bottom shelf of the Asgardian section” Loki said, pointing at it. “Read it. Then start reading the rest.”

Clint nodded. This was just briefing and cover-building, only on a whole new level. He had read tons and tons of books for SHIELD and he was not surprised to be asked the same now, considering his thick Midgardian ignorance of the Nine Realms.

He took out a heavy volume and flipped through it. He knew this was just theory ; true lessons were learned on the field – how to walk, how to speak, how to blend in a crowd. But he was locked inside Loki's house for another month and a half ; he better use his time to gather as much knowledge as he could.

The library was divided in eight sections, in decreasing order : Asgard – the widest by far, with several hundred books – Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, Niflheim, Midgard, and Hel – only one volume, which Clint couldn't help opening, only to come across unreadable runes. Luckily for him, the Asgardian section was written in All-Speak, along with a few volumes from Vanaheim and Alfheim, not to mention the Midgardian books he could read, except maybe the Japanese ones.

It was only at the end of the first day that he realized something.

There was no Jotunheim section.

 

*

 

“You are fidgeting” Loki said.

Clint looked up from his book. He had been tapping the cover nervously without realizing it. He swallowed and felt them, small tremors coursing through his veins like short pangs of electricity. The demi-god studied him for a minute with a small smile.

“Stop it” he ordered, then returned to his own book.

The archer swallowed and tried to concentrate on the heavy volume. It was fascinating, but the words were just dancing before his eyes. He had been so busy reading and exploring that he hadn't realized that Loki had not touched him in nearly two days.

In only two days, he corrected himself. Come on, seriously ? He was stronger than this. And the violence of the first week should have kept him grounded for at least five days, if not more.

“Last warning” Loki said calmly without looking up.

Clint realized he was restless again and froze. The need for restraints flared bright in his mind, something to ground him, to dig into his flesh, sharp pain to scatter his thoughts. It must be all that studying, he realized. The more he filled his head, the more he ached to empty it.

Loki was reading with a small smile, the bloody bastard. He was perfectly aware of Clint's state. Maybe the whole library thing was an experiment to see for how long the archer could go on with only peace and quiet, like normal people.

Clint took a deep breath and tried to keep still. It wasn't simple, it really wasn't. How could he explain even to himself that he craved torture, but that at the same time he was desperate to avoid it for as long as possible ? Those few days of peace had been real nice, especially after that excruciating first week – the whipping, the day-long pounding, and the cage. The thing was, Loki beating him couldn't be reduced to good or bad. It dealt with feelings and sensations that were beyond this dichotomy. Logic was wired differently in subspace, and Clint couldn't grasp it as long as he wasn't down under ; couldn't understand what he remembered from his previous experiences while he was in his normal, fully conscious state. This was why he wasn't begging to be hurt and never would, no matter how bad he needed it – not before he was brought down far enough.

He blocked his breath altogether. He knew he would surrender at some point, he was on the slippery slope already, and Loki knew it and was toying with him, tauting him with calm and silence, asshole – but maybe he could hold on for a bit longer, maybe he could spare himself for a few more hours. He tried to remember the horrid pain of the whipping, the deadly discomfort of the narrow cage. But while his normal self shuddered at the thought, it had hurt so fucking much, nobody could want this, nobody – his animal urges tugged at him all the more, made him want, made him need, made him crave –

Loki slammed his book shut.

“I warned you” he smirked.

The next second, Clint found himself pinned down to the stone floor without any idea of how he'd gotten there – he only knew there was no air left in his lungs and Loki was above him, tearing down his clothes which dissolved in soft puddles of light on the floor. Before he could catch his breath, the demi-god tied his arms in his back, then clasped a heavy collar around his neck with a gleaming chain fastened to it.

He got up and hoisted Clint on his feet, nearly strangling him, holding the chain very close from his neck. The archer wasn't used to such a tight leash and was still trying to catch his breath anyway.

“Since you are bored, let us entertain you” Loki mocked. “I have something new I wanted to try.”

Clint froze, panting. That couldn't be good.

“I will not have you in the library though” Loki went on, in the politely disgusted tone of an Englishman offered coffee instead of tea. “Let us go back to the breaking chambers.”

He crossed the threshold which led them exactly there. Clint had noticed the doors had a tendency to lead them exactly where they wanted, instead on always opening on the same room. Right now, this little trick wasn't helpful to him – he could have used a few seconds to gather his panicked thoughts.

Loki dragged him inside and slammed the door shut. In the dim light, Clint saw something he didn't recognize. It was some kind of empty, vertical wooden frame with shackles in the corners, and wooden panels around it. Loki led him there, still holding him on a tight leash, then tied his wrists and ankles and tensed the ropes until Clint was so spread-eagled he couldn't move. Only then did he remove the leash ; on second thought, he wrapped it around the archer's balls, tightening it cruelly before trapping his cock as well. Clint let out a short pant but nothing more. He twisted his neck nervously to look at the wooden frame. It looked like there was some machinery beneath and around it.

“What the hell is that ?”

“I do believe your Spanish Inquisition used it” Loki smirked. “They were so full of ideas.”

Clint's breath hitched – now that was an excellent reason not to find out what this thing was actually for.

“Please” he said. “Couldn't we...”

“Do you want to be opened ?” Loki offered, not listening.

The archer swallowed. He knew he wasn't escaping this anyway ; better not waste his breath on useless pleading when the demi-god offered him a bit of preparation.

“Yes” he mumbled.

Loki squeezed his balls and he jerked in his chains. “Sorry” he uttered quickly. “Please – please, sir, breach me.”

The demi-god smiled, then lubed his fingers and pushed them into Clint's ass, toying with his balls with his other hand and rubbing his prostate until the archer was painfully hard in the cock ring, breathless with humiliation and arousal. Loki wriggled his fingers, scissored them, pushed them deeper inside, wriggled them one last time, sending little jolts of pleasure through Clint's body ; then lubricant just gushed out into the archer's ass and flowed on his thighs, silky and warm, dripping on the floor.

“Well” Loki said, pulling out his hand and shamelessly licking his fingers. “Let us hope this will do.”

Clint was hypnotized by his clever tongue darting around the wet digits. He even forgot the frankly alarming quantity of sticky liquid flowing on his inner thighs. The demi-god smirked at him and flicked his throbbing cock.

“Hold that thought” he said. “It might ease the process for you.”

“Ease what process ?” Clint breathed.

Loki just grinned, then twirled his fingers and the wooden frame came to life.

The planks opened up beneath Clint's feet and let out a fucking iron rod. It was very, very, very big, nearly matching Loki's two fists in girth, and perfectly straight. It was elevating slowly in the dim light and there was no doubt as to where it was heading.

“Fuck” Clint breathed, writhing in his chains, “are you out of your damn mind ? – this is going to kill me, I'm not even kidding, I can't – I can't take it – ”

“I would worry more about the panels” Loki smirked.

What panels ?

Clint looked up just in time to see the wooden panel approaching ; the next second, it crushed him against its twin which had suddenly appeared in the archer's back. At the same moment, the iron rod brushed his rim, began to press, press – and everything stopped.

Clint stayed there, barely breathing, his legs spread and ready for the impalement, quartered in the frame and between the two panels which only put slight pressure on his back and chest for now.

“I believe the idea was indeed to see what would kill you first” Loki said from the outside of the box, sounding very amused. “The rod or the crusher.”

Clint struggled in his chains, but before he could beg to be let out, the awful machine came to life again. The panels pressed so slowly Clint barely felt the increase ; he could still breathe well enough ; but he was completely trapped, would have been even without the shackles. The iron rod was penetrating him equally slowly, for the moment only stretching his rim. The archer squirmed and realized that he was amazingly hard.

Fuck.

Fuck, he liked it.

“The dilemma I am more interested in is the following” Loki said behind the crushing box. “In the end, will you beg for your life, or for your pleasure ?”

His voice, hoarse with wicked arousal at witnessing Clint's torment, had probably something to do with the archer's frankly scandalous erection.

“I don't – ” he gasped, but then the iron rod popped in and he twisted between the panels of wood. He had wanted to feel grounded and boy, had his wishes been answered. If the frame hadn't been designed to kill him, he would have felt perfectly safe, pinned in place as he was. The wood pushed his hard cock against his abs, pressed his ass flat from the other side, slightly parting his cheeks in addition to the iron rod pressing more and more into him.

It was all so fucking excruciatingly slow.

“You were so restless earlier” Loki said in a low voice. “I will teach you patience, Barton.”

The invisible gears were still turning. Clint took a deep breath and tried to hold it, but the crusher was slowly pushing the air out of his lungs, still slow, slow like the iron bar stretching its way into his ass, and he felt already so full he trembled.

“It hurts” he moaned. “It fucking hurts !”

“Oh, cease your whining” Loki said with a short laugh.

Clint heard him drag a chair and sit down. He imagined him, pulling out his cock and stroking himself with slow movements to match the archer's slow torture. He gritted his teeth and pulled at his shackles, then squirmed and let out a inaudible moan when the wooden panel pressed flat on his chest, starting to bend his ribs. The iron rod hit Clint's first sphincter and he buckled, trying to will himself to relax, to ease the way, but the task was nearly impossible since he was being fucking crushed to death.

The regular, uninterrupted rhythm of it was driving him completely mad. It would keep going no matter what, Loki just had to watch the show, and the thought of being submitted to a mindless vice, to a machine, made Clint even harder despite his panic. He screwed his eyes shut, tried to breathe out but ended up moaning then yelling as the rod kept pushing in indeed, raping him, and God but this thing was really too huge – but before he could complain about it, his attention got caught again by the crushing panels which were beginning to seriously chase the air out of his lungs, forcing him to take only quick, shallow breaths. It was overwhelming, attacking him from every side, narrowing his universe down to a crushing box of panic, both his insides and outsides under duress.

He tried to calm down once again, tried to breathe as much and as slowly as he could, but the thick rod kept forcing him wider and wider open – and he cried out again, longer and louder, stopping only to save what little oxygen he had left.

He pressed his temple against the wood, breathing fast, tears welling in his closed eyes. He was going crazy, the whole predicament was just impossible to endure without – the rod pushed and pushed and pushed –

– he screamed, writhed and struggled, trying to escape it, but his ankles were firmly strapped and his legs spread open, leaving him at the mercy of the fucking machine which kept doing its bloody job, fucking him indeed, ploughing his ass, impaling him and fuck, he was hard, he was so hard, his throbbing dick now crushed against his stomach by the wooden panel, the closeness of his own death made everything sharper, everything more intense, every sensation and thought of pleasure magnified hundredfold, thousandfold, and his ribs were beginning to seriously hurt but it didn't matter, what mattered was that his prostate was so far deep into his body and the rod was slow, so slow and so wide, Clint's pelvis would probably dislocate before he could come and wanted to come, so badly, he was heady, he couldn't breathe at all now, his ribs were going to break, so heavy on his chest, the room was spinning around him, leaving him only conscious of the insane pleasure swelling in his groin, pooling hot, and wasn't that a thing, erotic asphyxiation, he must have heard about it somewhere but God, God, God this thing was huge, huge, huge, it was so good, he felt so full, the torture so perfect he could have sobbed with perverse bliss, he was trapped, hopelessly fucked, he was going to die, and only Loki could release him, only Loki could save him from his ordeal, Loki, Loki, he wanted Loki, needed him, fuck it was so – so –

overwhelming –

“Please” he moaned in a distorted voice. “Please – I want to come !”

“Ah” Loki chuckled outside.

The machine stopped brutally, leaving Clint painfully stretched around the rod, barely breathing in the crusher.

“But are you not lying just to make it end, I wonder ?” the demi-god mocked.

“No time for – ” Clint gasped, “it's too fucking good, please, I need – I'm going to die if – please make me come, sir, please, I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready !”

He twitched and felt the obscene girth of the rod forcing his ass. “Please” he nearly sobbed. “Sir, I need you, sir, please !”

The panels trembled, then began to recede, must faster – the iron rod, though, stayed unmoving. Loki grinned at Clint as the stepped inside the opening frame, glancing appreciatively as his rim forced open, translucent lube sliding down the smooth metal. The archer couldn't feel the humiliation, couldn't speak, could only stare, gasping for air but mostly for release, quartered and impaled for the demi-god to feast his eyes.

Loki smirked, wide and just on the worrying side of insane – when he was aroused like this, when he was feeding off Clint's suffering, his pupils were blown like he wasn't completely there. He came forward, trailed his nails on the archer's jaw, then suddenly licked his tears on his cheek. And licked again.

Then, to Clint's astonishment, he got on his knees and suddenly took him in his mouth.

The archer should have thought about something then but – his mind just fucking exploded. The wetness, the heat, it was just too much, and when the rod started pushing in again, Clint arched and writhed like an animal and screamed, screamed, then sobbed as Loki took him deep, sucked his whole length as though he had never tasted anything better, then bit the head hard before swallowing him whole again, sucking him relentlessly like it was just another torture, working his throat then his tongue up and down, and a tidal wave of fire was flaring in Clint's groin, flaring, coming up building up, setting his entire body ablaze, and it was like Loki was keeping him alive, like Loki was pumping his very blood with the wicked rhythm he was forcing on him, Clint was entirely lost into it, into the beat of it, he was crying out with each pulse and he felt it building and building and building until he was ready to tear

– and he came, came, screamed and sobbed and – came, spilled into Loki's mouth who took it all with a smirk and kept going until he had sucked him dry.

He got on his feet and spat Clint's load on the floor, then wiped his mouth. His lips were very red, his eyes gleaming with excitement as he stared at the archer wracked with pleasure, nearly passed out in his chains, moaning with each breath out.

The iron rod violently pulled out and the shackles opened ; Clint fell hard but didn't feel the pain, still convulsing with the last waves of his fantastic orgasm. He felt through a haze Loki grabbing his collar to drag him on the bed. The demi-god tied his wrist-cuffs together, then pushed him on his back and penetrated him violently – the torture mustn’t have lasted so long as Clint believed since he was actually still tight enough and twitching around him.

The demi-god held him down and took what he wanted, pounding into him, and he wasn't long to arch with pleasure but when he came, he didn't soften, didn't stop ;he just spread the archer wider and fucked him again, fucked him into the mattress until Clint didn't even know where he was and what was happening and Loki climaxed again, going rigid and gripping Clint's hips to bury himself up to the hilt as he pulsed into him.

And then he pulled out, breathless, laughing through his harsh pants. Clint was nothing but a whimpering heap on the bed, completely fucked out, feeling like he could never get it up again.

Loki laughed once more and fell next to him on the bed, pulled him close ; he was drenched in sweat, his black hair slightly curly at the ends with dampness, and breathing just as heavily as Clint. When he found himself pressed against his chiseled chest, the archer licked the trickling sweat on an impulse. Loki hummed in approval so he kept going, collecting the salty beads on his tongue, loving the taste of it, loving every bit of Loki right now, trembling with the urge to make him feel adored, to make him feel worshiped, to please him.

“Fuck” he murmured, shivering as he licked between his well-defined pecs, and it was too much, too perfect, there was this pressure in his chest like he was going to burst into tears or explode with joy, he didn't know, he was trembling, breathing in gasps, tears pricking at his eyes, “Fuck – fuck.”

The demi-god chuckled, more softly, and trailed his fingers through Clint's hair. The archer's hands were still tied in his back, but he certainly didn't mind. He would have gotten on his knees, had he been strong enough to will away the tremors wracking his body. He felt lost, almost panicked, because this was too good and he could not get it out.

“Please” he mumbled, shaking, in desperate need of more guidance, more discipline, “please tell me – what to do.”

Loki's wrapped his arms around his trembling body and held him tight, rested his chin on Clint's damp hair.

“Just rest” he murmured, sounding quite exhausted himself.

Clint went limp in his arms, shaking uncontrollably. He felt too warm, too good, like his very blood was still pulsing with pleasure, and still there was this tension inside him, this tear-raising perfection, like a crystal glass on the brink of breaking.

“Sir” he panted shakily, because he had to tell him, even though he had no idea what to, how to say what he, “sir, that was... I can't... I don't know how...”

The demi-god kissed the top of his head and held him tight, so tight Clint couldn't actually shiver anymore.

“Sleep, Barton” Loki sighed with satisfaction. “Sleep.”

The archer closed his eyes and did just that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Barton. Up.”

Clint opened his eyes, then pushed on his arms and slid off the bed to sink at Loki's feet. Where he was meant to be.

His near panic in the face of perfection has deserted him with the night. He felt now perfectly evened, his thoughts like a ironed cloth, everything in order. The chaotic knowledge he had gathered in a few days was now clear and vibrant in his mind. He breathed out, bowed his head and waited.

“Aren't you pliant today” Loki said above him.

“I live to serve you, sir” Clint replied instantly.

He was deep down, perfectly calm, perfectly aware of his own desires and of his own place, all doubts blown away. The demi-god didn't say anything, but Clint felt a wave of approval coming from him, and slightly shivered with delight.

“Then you will not mind going into the cage while I'm away” Loki said. “Will you ?”

Clint froze. “The cage, sir ?”

“Yes. I must leave, and I will not have my house untidy in my absence.”

There was a cruel smirk in his voice. The archer swallowed, then bowed his head further down. “As you wish” he mumbled.

“Very well.”

Clint was still collared ; Loki gripped the O-ring and heaved him on his feet, then dragged him to the cage and forced him on his knees, opening the door. The archer crawled inside and curled up uncomfortably in the narrow space, averting his gaze. He still hated this with a passion, but this was what Loki wanted, and he was eager to please him.

The demi-god stood there in his leather armor for a second, reveling in the sight of his slave naked and huddled in a cage at his feet ; then he turned, and left.

Clint closed his eyes and prepared himself for a long wait.

 

*

 

He managed to sleep a few hours more. It was easier when he was mostly okay with being behind the cold bars. His back and limbs were beginning to seriously ache when he woke up, and he scowled as he stretched his neck in an attempt to soothe the pain ever so slightly. Loki had untied his hands before locking him up, and he could wrap his arms around his knees to curl up on himself.

The hours passed in a haze. Clint was simply waiting, clearly aware that he was where he was supposed to be, and that to endure it was what was demanded of him. He swallowed back his humiliation, his impatience, and just stayed there.

 

He spent the whole day in the cage.

Eventually, the sound of a door slamming in the distance awoke him from his slumber. He pushed on his trembling arms, scowling when his left leg raged with pain – he had rested on it and it was now completely asleep. He clenched his muscles, gritting his teeth against the prickling feeling of a hundred needles in his skin, completely stiff and worn-out after so many hours in the narrow cage.

The door of the torture room opened and Loki walked in.

He looked exhausted and in a very dark mood. His jet-black hair was disheveled, his eyes marked with dark rings, his movements slower and stiffer than usual. He discarded his leather coat, then walked to Clint's cage, opened the door and pulled him out.

The archer bit back a scream when his weight came to rest on his left leg ; Loki understood and wrapped an arm under Clint's shoulders. He helped him to the bed, made him sit on the edge and tied his hands behind his back again. Then he took his face in his hands, looked deep into his grey eyes, like he was checking something. Clint couldn't help thinking again that he looked really weary. More worn-out that the archer himself.

The demi-god tilted his head and pressed their mouths together.

Clint closed his eyes and opened himself to the unusually soft kiss. Loki tasted, like always, of winter – that tingling sensation of frost, like biting into an ice cube, a sharp taste the archer knew from nowhere else. When the demi-god pulled back, he put his hands on Clint's thighs and squeezed, hard, before starting to knead more softly. The archer took a brisk inspiration to fight the pain in his left leg – and his nostrils filled with the matching smell, wind and ancient winters.

Loki's strong fingers weren't long to set the archer's blood running again, and the excruciating pain receded quickly. He didn't stop though, worked the tremors out of his legs, then pressed him against his chest and wrapped his arms around him to knead his back and shoulders from behind, softening his aching muscles in what Clint understood was a silent reward for his patience.

He let himself be taken care of, dizzy with so much gentleness after his day in the cage. The demi-god's embrace was somehow heavy ; he must be exhausted, for him to rest like this against the archer, even as he rubbed the pain out of him. Clint breathed him in again and snowflakes twirled inside his blank mind.

“Were you in Jotunheim ?” he murmured.

The words had escaped him and he felt Loki stiffen against him.

It lasted for a breathless second. Then the demi-god went even limper than before, his hands now simply hooked on Clint's shoulders.

“Yes” he murmured. “Yes, I was.”

And Clint realized something. Since it had all begun, he had asked himself – and been asked several times – whether he trusted Loki ; and grown to trust him indeed, with his soul, body and life. But the demi-god had only started to trust him very recently ; and for him to answer Clint's question, for him to let his tiredness show by resting against him, spoke volumes about how much things had changed.

The archer didn't know what had driven Loki back in Jotunheim, but he knew, just by breathing him in, that it was a lonely, dark land. This was why he exhaled such a soul-deep sickness. To go there must have revived his desperate hatred and vehement contempt for the Jotnar.

For himself.

Clint very gently pulled back, just enough so he could look into Loki's eyes.

“Sir ?” he asked softly.

The demi-god stared at him ; and he looked so weary, every single one of his thousand years of life carved into his eyes.

“What ?” he murmured.

“Please let me see you.”

Loki stared at him again, for a much longer time.

Clint just waited, his heart pounding in his chest. He was terrified the demi-god would let go of him and stride out, or worse, punish him for asking. But it had been the right thing to ask, he knew it. If only Loki could feel it too.

The demi-god opened his mouth to refuse.

Then closed it and sighed.

This time, Clint got to see it happen. The color bloomed on Loki's face and hands, like frost blossoming on a cold window. His eyes turned red as though someone was injecting them with blood. He was still the same underneath though, with his sharp cheekbones and black hair.

When he spoke, he exhaled a burst of cold.

“Now what, Barton ?”

He sounded bitter and tired, but he had been too proud to dodge Clint's demand.

And his question was sincere. He had taken his true form twice already with the archer, but always in violence, once in sex, once in torture. Always brutal and relishing pain, like monsters do. In his blue skin and amidst the softness, he was lost, completely disarmed. They just didn't click together and he didn't know what to do now.

Clint leaned forward and kissed the cold lips. Loki closed his eyes and let him, with a shiver of fatigue and maybe something else. He was very stiff though, like an actual block of ice.

“Please untie me ?” the archer asked against his mouth.

He had never expressed such a wish before, and maybe this was the reason why Loki complied without question. He didn't open the cuffs though, merely unclasped the D-rings holding them together – Clint was grateful for that. He needed the pressure, the grounding, to help him through this.

He licked his lips nervously, then buried his fingers in Loki's cold, black hair, and kissed him again. He let his hands trail down the demi-god's armored back, feeling the thick leather and smooth metal under his sensitive fingertips. It felt all the more strange to touch him like this in his clothes of war. He wondered if the demi-god had killed while he was away. He wondered if people had tried to kill him. Thor had told him once that armors were only for show in Asgard, but Loki wore his own all the time.

Always expecting mayhem and death wherever he went.

“Can I undress you ?” Clint whispered.

There was a long silence. Then Loki's answer, nearly inaudible.

“Yes.”

The archer swallowed, then got to work. It took him ages, but he was in no hurry, and Loki stayed perfectly still while Clint unlaced his chestpiece and pauldrons and all the other parts he didn't know by name. Each of them melted into light once dropped on the floor. He got on his knees to get Loki out of his gaiters and boots, but climbed back on the bed right after, and looked at him. Really looked.

The deep lines carved into Loki's very flesh were even more visible on his chest, underlining his muscles with mystic drawings. They ran along his arms, and on each of his fingers, curling on his forehead, inside his palms, around his hips. His skin was a deep, rich blue, his eyes red like blood on bitten lips.

Clint kept staring until he felt the first, ever-so-slight telltale sign of Loki's discomfort ; he then leaned in again and kissed him, kissed him deep, running his hands along his cold back, his sharp shoulder blades, the wiry muscles in his chest and arms. He had never initiated anything with Loki before, but he didn't feel out of place. His devotion for him had never been greater. He wanted to do this for him.

They were both very tired, Clint slightly dizzy for not having eaten, shivering from the lingering contact with Loki's ice-cold body. He pressed against him anyway, white skin against blue skin, pressed their chests together, hooked his arms under the demi-god's shoulders and pulled, crushed them together like he was trying to warm him up, but Loki was stronger as always, sucking up the warmth from the archer's blood, leaving only a deadly cold in return. Clint tried to repress his shivers even though Loki could probably feel his goosebumps, and kissed the carved lines enhancing his collarbone, followed them up his throat, his breath steaming over the glacier of his skin. He was now shivering violently, but he wanted to go on, wanted to kiss and touch and hold. When his teeth started chattering though, the demi-god grabbed his wrists.

“Enough” he murmured.

His voice was soft, but also slightly hoarse. Clint looked up and saw a tear trail down the blue cheek.

By the time he realized what it was, it was already gone. Loki's skin was so dark, and the archer himself so exhausted. It had been lighting-quick, like a shooting star. He could have been mistaken.

The demi-god got up and turned away stiffly. For a second, Clint thought the moment was lost, but then Loki said, “Come” in a low, dry voice.

Clint followed him without a word.

Loki opened the door on a steaming room – the bathroom of smooth marble, filled with clear, burning water. They went in together ; the heat seemed to wash Loki's blue skin away, but the archer guessed he had willed the glamor back himself, so he wouldn't freeze the baths.

The demi-god went down the marble stairs, his now very white body marble-like itself in the translucent waters. For the third time since he had met him, Clint thought he looked frail. His slender, tall silhouette exuding loneliness from every pore.

He had never thought he would one day come to pity Loki, or simply understand him. But whatever crimes the demi-god might have committed, whatever hatred and madness he had nurtured, his stiff back also spoke of a thousand years of sadness. And maybe even him deserved to be given a break sometimes.

The archer went in after him, repressing a sigh of bliss when the steaming water chased the cold out of his system. He looked up at Loki again and felt the renewed urge to hold him, to comfort him, to help him feel better.

“Can I wash you ?” he said softly.

Loki stared into the water, still turning his back to him, then murmured his agreement again.

He closed his eyes when Clint touched him. The archer started with his chest, retracing the now invisible paths he had just followed, then tracing new ones, trying to relax the taut muscles, without really hoping to succeed – the demi-god was too damn strong, and his stiff body was like stone under Clint's fingers. The archer was powerful and decided, though, and didn't give up until the flesh started to soften ever so slightly under his hands.

He took care of him, with a reverence he didn't know he had in him, his throat very tight for a reason he couldn't analyze. He finished by washing the demi-god's hair, enjoying the long black strands gleaming with water as they slipped between his fingers. Quietness was sinking down into him like a rock in a glacial lake. His eyes were burning.

He used to hate Loki.

 

When they were done, they got out, put on dry clothes and went into the living room. It was dark outside ; there was food on the table. They ate in silence, Clint distracted from his plate even though he was hungry from his fasting, Loki plunged in his thoughts.

Then the demi-god looked up. He looked up with absent eyes, like he was staring into space, but looked up at him nonetheless.

“Thank you” he said in a calm voice.

Clint stayed dumbstruck. By the time he thought of saying something back, it was too late to answer in a polite way, or any way at all.

As it seemed, though, Loki did not care for an answer.

 

After dinner, he tied the archer to the bed with silk restraints, gentle on his wrists and ankles.

Then he took a switch and beat him fiercely, without a word, spanked him with harsh blows until Clint's ass was crisscrossed with burning welts and he was muffling his screams in the pillow, tugging in jerks at his bonds, his body jumping at each strike.

He understood.

A thousand years of self-hatred weren't going to vanish in a single night of peace. Clint had looked at him, touched him, witnessed his weakness, and Loki needed to make him pay for it ; to punish him for what he had seen, touched and witnessed. Because he was a monster and although Clint had wanted only to ease the pain, his very will to do so had been an acknowledgment of that pain. He had made come true what Loki could still deny when he was alone. It wasn't surprising then that the demi-god should be so angry at him, despite whatever gratefulness he might foster at the same time – in fact because of it.

Loki had looked into the abyss of truth for an unusually long time ; now he needed to take back his control, to rebuild his castles of lies – needed to inflict pain to soothe his own inner storms, needed to crush someone to regain what little esteem he had for himself. So Clint took his punishment without trying to speak for once, muzzling himself when the torture was too much.

When Loki was done, though, he stayed there in silence for a long while, catching his breath. Then he cupped the archer's abused ass with his cool hands, soothing the throbbing lashes. 

And Clint mumbled his thanks in the pillow wet with tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“It's been nearly thirty days.”

“I know.”

“No news from Thor.”

“I know.”

“Don't you wonder ?”

“Do I wonder if he's dead ?” Coulson said, never looking away from the window.

He sighed softly.

“All the time, Stark.”

He smiled at the darkness outside. It was a thing he shared with Banner.

“How could you do this without at least telling us before ?” Tony said bitterly, walking towards him but stopping in the middle of the living-room. “He needed help. He needed our help.”

“Help ?” Coulson repeated a bit more coldly.

He finally looked at him. “Jasper Sitwell thought Barton needed help. Barton claimed to know himself well enough to realize that what he felt was a part of himself. Not a distortion due to past events.”

“I'm not talking about submission” Tony said. “I've heard of true subs, Phil. I've been with one once.”

“I'm sure you have” Coulson said, without the slightest hint of contempt.

“I could tell she needed it. I saw the effect I had on her, even though I was doing this just for fun – for the kick. They're vulnerable, Phil. Not weak – vulnerable, because they need to be in a position of weakness and do you know the amount of trust you need for that ? The fucking balls of steel you need for that ?”

“I do” Coulson said in a soft voice.

“Could you put yourself in that position ?” Tony asked brutally.

Phil honestly thought about it for a second. “Maybe” he said. “With someone I knew like myself.”

“Well I couldn't” the billionaire said angrily, like he was ashamed of it, or proud, or maybe both. “But Barton could. And you gave him to Loki.”

Coulson held his gaze.

“Barton needed constant submission” he said. “He also needed violence. Abuse, in his own words. Not roleplay, Stark, not fake punishments under false pretenses. True discipline and true enslavement, things that are not allowed in our world anymore.”

He smiled ruefully. “You know, in this line of work, you come to know your enemies like they were your friends. Sometimes they're the closest thing from friends you have.”

He took one step away from the window. “You might not like or believe it, but Clint and Loki bonded. They bonded in violence, in abuse, twice – once from Loki's own mind-control, once from Victor von Doom's drug.”

Tony's eyes were dark and hateful, but he listened.

“Clint wanted what he thought only Loki could give him, because he was an enemy. Because he knew he would be merciless. Does that make him sick ? Does that make him mentally ill, unable to assess the situation clearly ? Think before you answer, Stark. Think of how he never failed you on the field all that time.”

Tony said nothing. Coulson smiled again.

“They are two lines of thought” he said. “Some side with the likes of Sitwell, other trust Clint Barton.”

“And you would be in that second group, I guess” Tony murmured.

“Until my last breath” Coulson confirmed lightly.

The billionaire stared at him.

“So you're positive he's alive, then ?” he blurted.

For the first time, Coulson's smile wavered.

“That's what it means, isn't it ?” Tony went on aggressively. “You say you trust him, and you say he chose Loki. It means you're certain that he made the right call.”

He opened his arms wide. “Say it to my face, then” he said with violence. “Tell me, that you're 100% sure he's okay, that you can swear he's fine, that you saw it written in the fucking stars !”

Phil said nothing. For the first time, there was nothing he could answer.

The billionaire dropped his hands.

“Fuck” he concluded.

He looked at Phil as though still expecting him to speak.

“Fuck” he mumbled again eventually, then strode out of the room.

 

*

 

“Asgard ?” Clint repeated in mild bafflement, buckling his quiver.

“Not the city in itself, Barton. There is more to this land than the royal palace.”

Loki smirked and gripped his spear.

“Ready ?”

Clint didn't make the mistake of asking for precisions again. “Yessir” he mumbled.

He hadn't been let out since the Bifrost episode. For almost three weeks, he had kept immersing himself in Loki's library until he grew restless again and was dragged into the torture room for various lengths of time, from one hour to three days. He was curious at the thought of seeing the lands he had read about, but also quite anxious, as though leaving Loki's house would break the continuity of his training.

The demi-god was in command, though, and when he opened the door on a vast green, sun-lit field, Clint had no choice but to follow.

He filled his lungs with golden air and looked around. They were coming out of a small, wooden shack, a hunting house no doubt, with thick beams carved with runes Clint didn't understand.

“So – this is your house. Bigger on the inside, uh ?” he said, studying the shack. “Like the TARDIS.”

“I have no idea what you mean, but no” Loki smirked. “The house exists beyond space. It is a hub, if you will. I need a door to access it – ”

“Like Monsters Inc.”

“ – and I must use a different door to leave, which will then lead me anywhere I want – ”

“Like Howl's Moving Castle.”

Loki raised a thin eyebrow at him and Clint swallowed down his comments. “Sorry. Helps me fix things in my mind.”

“Midgardians” the demi-god mumbled, walking away.

Clint followed with a smile. So Loki could go wherever he wanted through a mere game of doors. He had found a way to master teleportation between worlds while saving himself the trouble to cast the exhausting spell himself every time. His house really was fantastic ; no wonder he kept escaping their cages back on Earth.

Clint's smile suddenly slipped. Could Loki access every Realm through his house ?

Any Realm ?

He shook his head and willed himself to think of something else.

He followed Loki through the tall grass dancing in the wind. The sky was blue with immense, plump clouds, and he couldn't see much else, so it all felt familiar enough for now ; but there was a slight sense of foreignness in the air, from the smells or maybe the light itself, making everything brighter, sharper. Loki moved with grace through the savage lands of his youth, and it felt impossibly strange to see him like this, in this alien country, as though Clint had gone back in time to be the invisible witness of a happier era.

A low, vibrant sound was heard through the fields, breaking his train of thoughts.

“Bilgesnipes” the demi-god grinned.

Clint nodded ; he'd read about them. In short, big, mean hybrids between a moose and a cow. The hunting book insisted strongly that they must be avoided at all costs by any group smaller than five strong warriors.

See if Loki cared.

“We'll need the leader of the pack” he said.

He climbed a grassy hill and smiled down at something Clint couldn't yet see ; he quickly reached his side, and the bilgesnipes came into sight.

They were really huge, maybe the most imposing animals Clint had even laid eyes on. Although they were munching the tall grass, they moved like predators, their powerful limbs like coils under the tons of meat and fur. They had immense antlers towering above their heads – large, flat heads with wide, bloody nostrils. Every gush of wind made the whole pack jerk in alert ; but they reacted to even an imaginary danger not with fear, but with fury, ready to trample whatever threatened them.

“There she is” Loki murmured.

He looked at a massive female a bit on the side, raising her heavy head under the burning sun. Built like a bison, nervous like an antelope, and fierce like a fucking puma.

“You know” Clint muttered as he pulled out an arrow, “we meek Earthlings would rather hunt the young. Or the elders.”

“We are not hunting for meat” Loki smirked, without taking his eyes off their prey. “But for strength.”

The archer notched, then drew. He exhaled and felt the cogs of the Universe coming to a halt. He had used his bow for hunting before, but never something that big or threatening.

His fingers opened.

The bilgesnipe let out a horrible cry when the arrow stuck itself into her tiny golden eye. She shook her sharp antlers, charged, stopped, charged again and howled louder, causing the others to scatter in panic. The ground shook with the stampede.

“Do not kill her” Loki murmured. “Bring her down.”

An imperceptible tremor went up Clint's spine, but he took out another arrow. The bilgesnipe was shaking her heavy head back and forth in agony ; he waited for the exact second – opened his fingers and hit her other eye. She let out another monstrous roar and charged. Another arrow to slice the tendons of her left forefoot, then her right, and she fell heavily in the grass, groaning and trying to raise herself up.

Four arrows, four hits, despite the fact that the archer's target had been charging blind in wrath.

Loki smirked at him, then said, “Come on.”

They went down the hill. The rest of the pack was long gone ; the big female remained, huffing heavily through her flaring nostrils, shifting her head to try and see. She felt them coming and stiffened, then growled, low and rumbling like an earthquake.

“You put up a good fight” Loki told her amiably.

He put his spear between the antlers and a blue glow pulsed along the length. She froze, then with a long sigh, put her head down on the ground and stayed still, all pain and panic washed away.

Clint was thunderstruck.

“That's... cheating” he mumbled numbly, even though he knew how pathetic his objection might sound.

Loki removed his spear and looked down at their catch.

“It would be” he said. “Arguably. But you took her down by the book beforehand, did you not ?”

The archer looked at the calmed beast. He knew her eyes would have been blue, if not for the arrows making them cry red tears.

“Yeah” he muttered.

When Loki had brainwashed him, he had been cheating indeed, twisting him into subservience. But now, Clint was taken down by the book too, his eyes and mind unsullied. He had chosen to be there, and nobody had forced him to shoot the bilgesnipe.

“Yes” he repeated in a clearer voice. “Okay.”

Loki smiled, then opened his hands.

“Come, sacrifice” he ordered with a wide grin. “Show us your strength.”

The bilgesnipe huffed louder, then got up again, raising herself high despite her sliced legs. Her antlers were so sharp they could have cut the blue fabric of the sky.

Loki led her through the fields to the small hunting shack. Clint opened his mouth – was he bringing her back into the house ? – then thought twice and locked his lips. The demi-god smirked at him, then pushed the door and the coldness of the stone chased the golden sun away.

Between four walls, the beast seemed even more imposing, her flanks pulsing, her antlers scraping the ceiling. Big drops of black blood fell from her eyes and legs on the ground, slowly soaking her fur.

They were in the torture room, Clint realized. He still had no idea what Loki intended to do with their catch, but he didn't like this one bit.

Loki lowered his spear, and the beast went down, huffing steam as she rested on the floor. The demi-god leaned his weapon on the wall, then turned to the archer with a smirk Clint knew only too well.

“Strip” he said. “Entirely.”

Clint swallowed. With an intense effort, he managed not to ask anything.

He unbuckled his bow and quiver, then quickly discarded his clothes. The demi-god gripped his hair tight enough to make him wince, then brought him to his knees, causing Clint to twist his spine since he didn't want to look away from the beast.

Loki tied his arms in his back, collared him and connected the leather strap to a ring on the floor, on a leash short enough for Clint to stay curled up on himself. That damn begging position – except it wasn't torture this time, but something designed to make him stay still. Loki restrained his ankles as well, slipped ropes around his shoulders and waist – then anchored them all into the ground. Clint could not move an inch, strapped down to the stone. He began to tremble slightly with the efforts he made to keep his head up and look at the bilgesnipe. The beast was completely calm, huffing quietly through her flaring nostrils.

Loki seized his chin to push a ball-gag in his mouth, but Clint closed his lips against it. “Please” he blurted.

The demi-god smirked a mocking smirk, but still said, “What ?”

Clint swallowed.

“Please tell me what you're going to do to me.”

There was a silence.

Still grinning, Loki rubbed his thumb on the archer's cheek.

“I'm just making you a little harder to kill.”

“How – ”

Loki forced the gag between his jaws and buckled it behind his head. Clint let out a muffled moan then kept quiet.

The demi-god then got up and went to the bilgesnipe to tie her down to the ground as well. He used heavy chains and locked her jaws shut with a leather strap ; she let him, blind and pliant, blood still flowing from her gouged eyes. Clint felt a brief pang of pity, quickly drowned into his own maddening anxiety.

By the time Loki was done, both his victims were mirroring each other, bound and muzzled, one very calm – yet unwilling ; the other on the brink of panic – yet having agreed to bow. The demi-god took back his spear and pressed it between the great antlers again.

Clint saw the exact moment the spell stopped. The bilgesnipe let out a rumbling howl that shook the entire room, and strained against her chains which tensed like a whip. She roared and struggled and fought furiously, in vain. Loki smirked and came forward, grabbing an antler and jerking the beast's head back like he did with Clint – and how insanely strong was he, to be able to do such a thing ?

“Now” he murmured with delight, setting the sharp blade on the pulse point in the bilgesnipe's throat.

He was going to love this. Clint could barely breathe, could only look in morbid fascination.

“Die” Loki whispered. “Give me everything.”

He pushed and sliced and ripped her jugular open – and the blood gushed out along with a terrifying howl of agony, spasms coursing through the enormous body.

Red splattered on Clint who buckled in his restraints – and suddenly the bilgesnipe was screaming a human scream, and suddenly there was an animal roar coming out of his own throat –

– and the world turned upside down.

He felt it, steam huffing through his nostrils, flanks heaving with his powerful panting, life pouring out of him in a crimson river. He could smell two creatures in the room, cold, warm, but everything was fading away as his blood gushed out, and he left with it, flowed into another heart, coursed through foreign veins, fused with the life pulsing there, waiting there, electrified it and suddenly he could see again, see the walls and the chains, see his own corpse lying there, gored on the stone floor, and he convulsed with incomprehension and lowed behind the muzzle –

– then his eyes cleared and he was Clint Barton again, only stronger, filled with a fire he never knew existed. He was still staring at the dead bilgesnipe ; he realized he could still smell Loki's cold scent even through the metallic stink of blood. He realized he was hearing the smallest sounds and seriously hurting himself from pulling at his restraints.

His gaze was irresistibly drawn to Loki, his wide smirk and his palms red with blood. Making you a bit harder to kill.

Making him. Like he was really God. Like he decided of what Clint should be.

And he did. He owned him, could do whatever he wanted with him, and Clint had never felt it more clearly and thoroughly than in this instant, still tied to the ground with the force of the beast running through his body. This was how Steve must have felt like after the serum. Maybe more feral though – it hadn't been a neat little bottle, but crude strength poured right into his veins, blood magic forced on his very essence.

Loki walked between him and the dead beast. Clint was trembling at his feet in the restraints, and he knew without a doubt that the demi-god was making it clear that no matter how stronger, faster he might be, he remained nothing but a slave, enhanced for his master's pleasure.

The gag unbuckled itself and the archer spat it out, gasping.

“How are you feeling ?” Loki murmured.

“What” Clint panted, “you're not sure it worked ?”

An amused, predatory grin flashed on the demi-god's lips and put the blade of his spear on the archer's throat, forcing him to raise his head until he couldn't move any further away.

Loki pushed the blade just deep enough for Clint to start panicking, then removed it. “I want to know if you felt what happened” he repeated.

The archer wasn't going to tempt fate twice. “Yeah” he huffed. “Fuck, yeah, I did. Still do.” He shook. “How long – how long will it last ?”

The demi-god smiled. “As long as you're alive. Worry not, you will get used to the feeling.”

The ropes tying Clint to the ground vanished, but the collar remained and his hands stayed firmly strapped in his back. Loki cupped his jaw to make him look up.

“Now, Barton” he said. “I believe you can eat this.”

There was a golden apple in his hand.

The archer stared, still trying to fight his violent tremors, but that sight didn't help him one bit. Idunn's apples. By now, Clint knew what they were, of course. He also knew that a Midgardian like him should not even have been looking at one from so close.

“I'm mortal” he said nervously, trying to pull away. “It'll kill me.”

“You are not entirely mortal anymore” Loki corrected.

His lips stretched in a nasty smirk. “And you will always eat what I give you anyway, Barton.”

Clint took a sharp breath. “Yessir.”

If he didn't die, then he would stop aging. Loki really was molding him, body and soul, for the long haul. It should have been a dilemma to Clint, choosing whether he wanted to live longer, to stay behind, but Loki owned him and owned all his decisions too.

So Clint opened his mouth and let the demi-god push a slice of apple between his lips.

It burned like an ember and the archer retched and jumped with the shock and would have spat it out if not for Loki blocking his mouth shut and immobilizing him until he swallowed and the pain vanished. Clint slumped forward, gasping. His body had been strong enough to accept the fruit, but it had been a fucking close call.

“You still are Midgardian” Loki grinned. “It is against the rules.”

He tightened his grip on Clint's hair. “Ready for another one ?”

The archer was retching and crying as though he had eaten a whole pepper in one bite.

“Yes” he still gasped. “Please, sir, one more.”

Loki smiled with satisfaction, then pushed another slice between Clint's lips. The archer gagged again and the demi-god held his mouth shut until his convulsions had stopped.

“Ah” he said softly. “How badly it must hurt.”

“Please” Clint choked, tears and sweat running down his face.

He couldn't do it. It felt so wrong. It made him want to cry like a baby. Like he had done everything he had promised himself he would never do.

“Yes ?” Loki murmured, raising his eyebrows.

The archer fought a sob. “Please... one more.”

Loki grinned and pushed a third one in his mouth, causing him to cry silently. It was already easier, though. By the fourth, Clint managed not to retch anymore, and the fifth and sixth were less and less painful. The seventh was normal. The eighth almost tasted good.

He waited for the last slice, but nothing came. Instead, Loki untied him completely and let him catch his breath for a long minute.

Eventually, he whispered, “Stand up.”

Clint did, slowly, feeling like his whole body had been turned inside out then put back together. He was drenched in sweat and shivering. He swallowed, calmed down his chills, then looked at the ninth slice in Loki's open palm.

He raised his gaze at the demi-god who nodded in confirmation.

He took the slice himself, and ate it slowly without any discomfort. When he looked up again, the demi-god was watching, but his wicked smile was gone.

“There is no good or bad” he said. “There is only what I tell you to do.”

The archer nodded.

Loki slapped him hard and he corrected himself. “Yes, sir.”

His cheek was pulsing with pain – which he never let show, looking respectfully at the ground, his hands clasped in his back – but the rest of his body was still bursting with energy. His strength. His life.

It would take some time to adapt. It felt so good now, though. Like he belonged in the sunny fields of Asgard now. Like he was strong enough to walk among the gods, when he had once thought he didn't even deserve to be part of a group of Midgardian superheroes.

“It is the first week of the second month, Barton” Loki said lightly. “I would say your breaking in is going on quite well.”

Clint kept staring at the ground. “Thank you, sir.”

“But we still have a month to go.”

Loki took the archer's chin to raise his head up and look into his eyes, and the light contact was infinitely more threatening than the most constricting of restraints.

“I cannot wait” he smirked.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Clint could tell the end of his training was near.

There was not much left of him to sacrifice on Loki's altar, and as a result of the apple episode, neither the demi-god nor the archer felt the need for violence during quite some time. Even after hours of study in the library, Clint was satisfied just to kneel next to Loki's chair while the demi-god absently trailed his fingers across his hair, holding an open book in his other hand.

The archer was still tied to the bed at night, though ; it was a ritual he would have cruelly missed by now. Loki made him wear the collar at all times now, sometimes with a leash dangling from it, tied to the chair Clint was seated in, to Loki's own chair, or wrapped around the demi-god's fingers for him to play absently with. They both enjoyed it. It was a routine without really being one – because where there was Loki Laufeyson, there could be no routine.

Then two weeks or so later, the whole situation took a weird turn.

After hours of having him reading in silence, Loki would suddenly get up, bend Clint over a table and take him harshly, or force him down on his knees and make him suck his cock, coming in a few minutes, which would have been Clint's idea of heaven – if the demi-god hadn't been systematically bypassing his slave's pleasure. It went on and on, this weird mix of study and denial, until one day, Clint was forbidden to touch a book again. When he asked why, he only got a slap that nearly tore his head off and the interdiction to speak as well.

He was furious, cursing a blue streak in his mind ; but he didn't dare speaking up again. There must be a point to all this, he thought. Loki had always encouraged him to speak up until then ; he wouldn't have changed course so abruptly for nothing.

Still. When the demi-god put a blindfold on him, he had to bite his tongue not to ask.

He would kneel at all times now. Sometimes, Loki would just get up and leave, but the archer had to stay there, where he had been left, until the demi-god wished to take him again and did so without a word. Clint was not allowed even to jerk off. He would just dress himself back and kneel again, catching his breath, always in the dark while the demi-god went on with his own business. And again, he was left to wait for hours in the same room, until Loki wanted to fuck him or it was time to eat or sleep.

There was a time when Clint would have gone crazy with frustration and anger. For a while there, it was the case ; but Loki's relentless use of his body eventually ironed out his thoughts, flattened his objections, killed the questions bubbling behind his sealed lips. He grew used to being ignored like this – only acknowledged when Loki needed to use him, and forgotten instantly afterwards. Even the blindfold stopped bothering him. His silent humiliation left him in a constant state of buzzing submission, fed by the pain in his knees, the taste of Loki's come in his throat or the feeling of it slowly dripping out of his ass. He sank further and further down in subspace, his mind a flat line.

He didn't realize Loki was keeping him down on purpose. He didn't realize that it was all part of his preparation for the last ordeal.

After two weeks, he had completely stopped to think.

 

*

 

“Up.”

Clint barely had time to open his eyes – the blindfold was gone ? – before he was brutally pushed on the floor. He landed hard on the stone, unable to understand what was happening or why the demi-god was waking him in the middle of the night.

A bucket of icy water splashed over him and he cried out, gasped and convulsed, his whole skin flaming with coldness. Before he could recover, Loki twisted his hands in his back and tied them together, then grabbed his collar and hoisted him all fours, slapping him when Clint nearly panted a question in his confusion ; he forced his shoulders down, then turned around him and gripped his balls to clasp a yoke of wood around then, which he locked behind the archer's thighs. A humbler.

The archer buckled instinctively – then bit back a scream when he nearly tore himself off. Idiot. Loki let out an unpleasant laugh, then tightened the vice until Clint felt on the verge of tearing even at his most curled up on himself. The demi-god got up and let it all sink in for a second. Clint was panting loudly against the floor.

“So” Loki said, pacing around him with slow steps.

Clint's thighs were trembling with coldness and his efforts not to hurt himself ; every time his body relaxed, his balls were pulled and the pressure made him jerk, causing him to bite back a moan and hastily curl up on himself again. Icy water was still dripping from his hair. Loki gripped the humbler and Clint froze, barely breathing, his eyes wide.

“Do you have any idea how much I restrained myself ?” the demi-god murmured. “All that time I owned your mortal body. Do you know how hard it was not to kill you ? How careful, how meek I was to remain ?”

He let go of the humbler. “I gave you a long time to heal” he said. “Weeks to get used to your new form. Weeks to prepare your mind.”

“Prepare to what ?” Clint panted.

He couldn't help it, although fear was pulsing in his stomach. His own voice sounded strange in his ears ; he hadn't spoken for almost two weeks. Loki grinned above him.

“Careful, Barton” he said in a dangerous voice. “Soon you will wish you had stayed hidden into your pliant state.”

He brushed his tortured balls which pulsed in agony under his touch. “I made you stronger, but I must warn you” he said in a low voice. “Even Asgardian slaves have been known not to survive the Mad Hours.”

His voice dropped down a notch. “And I am tired of watching myself.”

Clint twisted his wrists in his bonds, breathing deeply. For the first times in weeks, his mind was sharp as a diamond – sharper that it had ever been, actually. The further down he dove, the higher up he jumped out.

And he understood it was the end. The leap of faith. The last ritual of passing, the conclusion of his training. The reason he had been treated like a sex object during two goddamn weeks – so he would be numb enough, pliant enough to undergo that thing. The Mad Hours.

Because it wasn't about him – what Loki had just said made it obvious. It was the master's turn to push his limits. To know himself fully, completely, so his slave would know him too, so they could close the deal.

The realization made Clint forget himself – he slipped forward and let out a panicked noise when the humbler cruelly reminded itself to him. He scrambled upwards again, but already, the enthralling development was seizing his undivided attention. He both feared and yearned what was to come. He was terrified of what Loki might do to him, but at the same time he wanted so bad to see him let go. Completely let go for once. Who knew what he might see, what he might find inside, beneath Loki's thick shell of lies and snark and bitterness.

The demi-god was obviously following the same train of thoughts.

“Let's see” he hummed, still walking around him. “What do I want ?”

He crouched next to his head and trailed his fingers through his short hair.

“I want...” he said in a low voice, “...to see how much pain you can take. I want to make you scream yourself mute. I want to see you on the verge of breaking irretrievably.”

Clint shivered.

Loki's hand closed in a fist around his hair. “And maybe I do want to break you” he said, his voice so low they both could barely hear it.

He sounded thoughtful, as though he was really questioning himself, sounding blindly the depths of his own soul. “Maybe I want to torture you until there is nothing left to do but put you out of your misery.”

Clint thought of how the demi-god had sliced the bilgesnipe's throat. Of what he had murmured to his victim, just before he did it.

Give me everything.

His blood curdled in his veins.

“Sometimes...” Loki murmured, and there was an edge, a tremor in his voice.

 

Then he released Clint's hair, his usual smirk back on his lips. “Ah, well. We shall see.”

 

He got up in a fluid motion of leather and walked around the archer, then suddenly put a boot against his ribs and pushed him on his side. Clint fell with a jerk of panic – to be manhandled in a humbler was a very unpleasant experience ; Loki turned him on his back, grabbed his ankles and spread his legs until it pulled and the archer screamed and begged for him to stop.

The demi-god grinned, then gripped the archer's cock. Despite his fear, it was half-hard, as always when he felt himself restrained and bound to Loki's will. Still smirking, the demi-god invoked in his other hand a strap large enough to be wrapped around Clint's entire dick – and studded with pointy beads on the inside.

“Let us not take any chances.”

He put it in place and tightened it until the points pushed into Clint's throbbing flesh. The archer gritted his teeth and moaned, pushing his head back on the floor, very decided not to break but fuck, it hurt so bad, and it was only the beginning.

Loki grabbed his cock again and pushed a nail into the slit, causing Clint to jerk his hips – and yell in agony when the humbler tugged mercilessly at his balls. He froze, trembling and breathing hard ; but when he found something pushing at the hole at the head of his cock, he couldn't help twitching again despite the pain flashing through him.

“Please !” he gasped.

Loki gave a mocking chuckle. “Not tonight.”

He angled Clint's dick, then pushed a metallic stem inside, just a little too thick but smooth enough to glide in easily. Clint moaned through his closed lips, his eyes wide open as the demi-god sounded him. It felt heavy, cold ; Loki loved torturing his cock, but he had never gone that far before. He grinned at Clint's obvious reaction and moved the sound inside him, making him twitch and throb in pain, the prong cock ring and the unforgiving humbler never letting themselves be forgotten. Clint honestly thought he was going to go mad when Loki sounded him deeper and squeezed the prong ring around him – and let out a pleased hum at his scream.

“Very well” he said, then grabbed Clint's shoulders and violently spun him until he was face down again. The sound weighed all the more heavily inside his cock and a spasm made him buckle in the humbler – pain flashed through him like an electric shock. He was shaking uncontrollably. Loki pressed his thumb against his rim and he froze, barely daring to breathe ; his eyes closed tightly when the demi-god pushed inside.

“Loose enough” he said appreciatively. “You ought to be.”

Clint remembered Loki fucking him mercilessly during almost two weeks, taking him sometimes six or seven times a day, and never letting him come in the end. All this, preparation for this day.

Loki was either very considerate, or very scared of himself – of what he might put Clint through.

Strangely, Clint's breathing calmed down at the thought. Despite everything, despite the merciless torture, the archer realized he, for one, didn't believe that Loki would maim him. They had learned together during those two months. Killing him – what the demi-god was obviously scared of – would have been indeed an ultimate act of possession ; but he had faith it would never happen.

Then again, he had been wrong before.

“How far can you stretch, I wonder ?” Loki said with a wicked smirk in his voice.

He pushed something cold and metallic into him, as far as Clint could take – most of it still remained outside, though. There was the click of a button – and with a low buzz, it came to life, slowly opening inside Clint's body like a flower of steel. The archer resisted for a second, he really did, then a scream bubbled in his throat and exploded out of his lips, came out halting as he tried to reign it in. He felt it all – the sound, the spiky cock ring tight around his tortured dick, his balls cruelly trapped in the humbler, and a fucking choke pear slowly stretching him wider than ever before – even wider than the torture chair, even wider than the crusher's rod. He choked with pain and struggled not to sob.

“Now that you are ready” Loki smiled above him, “let us begin.”

Begin. Clint let his eyelids fall shut.

The folded end of a riding crop brushed his face, came over his nose, followed the curve of his eyebrows.

“God” the archer mumbled against the floor, shaking. “Don't. Please.”

He knew begging was only increasing Loki's arousal. The demi-god took a shivering breath of anticipated pleasure and slipped the switch under his chin to make him look up, no doubt delighted with the sight.Clint swallowed, let out a hitching breath when the choke pear stretched him a notch wider. He screwed his eyes shut again, panted in his restraints. The sound was heavy inside his cock, the spikes digging into his tender flesh. His balls were twitching in agony, forcing him to huddle always more on himself – it wasn't called a humbler for nothing. He was disgusted with how wide open his ass already was. He knew his body was supposed to be stronger, but as he was right now, attacked on every front, he didn't feel it in the slightest. He was crying, he was submitted, ready to do anything Loki wanted – yet still the demi-god wanted more.

He thought of what Loki had said, of the Asgardian slaves who had died during the last row of merciless tortures. The curled leather of the crop pushed into his mouth and he whimpered around it, breathing fast.

Then it got out and Loki walked around him. Clint heard the switch coming hissing down and braced himself –

It hit his tortured balls and he screamed and jerked – and screamed again when he nearly tore himself off. Idiot, idiot, idiot. He pressed his forehead on the floor, gasping and already almost sobbing with pain.Loki let out a breath of pure bliss, almost a moan, then hit him again – right on his throbbing testicles under the pear, which clicked a notch wider the next second. Clint sobbed and thought he was indeed going to go mad – mad with pain overload, and the efforts he had to do not to jerk forward again. Then Loki hit a third time and all his thoughts exploded in a burst of white pain, and he screamed long and loud, throbbing in the cock ring which bit him mercilessly in return. The sound alone would have been maddening, more intrusive and tormenting than anything he had ever experienced – prodding where nothing should ever have prodded, spreading a relentless discomfort inside him like a slow poison. He only ceased to hate it when the demi-god whipped his balls and his mind burst again in sheer suffering. It went on for quite some time, the scattered rhythm of it due only to Loki's near orgasm at each of Clint's screams – the archer was nearly sure he had come once already, just from putting the torture devices on him and watching him squirm and moan.

“Please” he rasped again at the – fourteenth, fifteenth hit ? – he knew it was useless but “ please, please, please !” he sobbed.

He had screamed so much his throat was burning him. Mute, Barton. Loki chuckled, then suddenly his hand was in the archer's hair and he was gripping it tight to hoist him up, causing Clint to groan and twitch as he tried to get on his knees without injuring himself. By then, his ass was so wide open the demi-god could have fucked him without touching the walls.

Clint finally managed to rest on his heels, tears rolling down his face. His breathing was so chaotic even he couldn't tell whether he was gasping or sobbing. Loki was naked, standing tall, the clear blue of his eyes nearly white with arousal. He pressed the archer's face against his cock, like it didn't matter whether he sucked or not, like he only wanted Clint's head between his thighs while he was gasping in pain.

The next second, though, his order fell. “Get at it, Barton.” The switch brushed Clint's face. “And I would advise you not to lose your focus.”

The archer buckled and struggled against his bonds when the pear opened him even wider with a horrible c-c-click. He felt awful, quartered, like he was about to be turned inside out. Kneeling like this, he couldn't help pulling at his balls, and he had to stay very tense not to tear anything. It was exhausting, his muscles fluttering with the effort, and the fucking sound was still there, and he would have given anything to be rid of it, at least the sound, to have it out, out out out out, and he stopped thinking about it all and took Loki's cock in his mouth before anything could get even worse.

He did good, sucked like his life depended on it, with small whimpers of eagerness, forcing himself to take in the whole length, sucking hard and fast until he felt Loki clench harder at his hair and spill in his mouth.

“Very good, Barton” the demi-god said, a bit breathless.

He pulled out – then struck him across the face with the switch.

Clint's head whipped on the side. He whited out for a second ; the next, he had been pushed face-down again.

“You said – ” he blurted, then shut his mouth and cursed himself for being so gullible. His punishment came soon enough anyway : the switch hissed and whacked his ass and he screamed and sobbed and begged.

Loki wasn't satisfied with one single hit – he whipped him again and again and again, striking his balls every three hits, and Clint had nowhere to go, nowhere to run, he was struggling against his bonds and his mind was swelling and swelling with madness and suffering, he was choking and sobbing and shouting so much he couldn't even breathe with too much and enough enough enough and –

– something burst, something tore and suddenly he was in a different place.

Suddenly, it felt good, not only through his body's reaction, but consciously – the more it hurt, the more it was excruciatingly, overwhelmingly blissful. As though wires had disconnected and reconnected inside his body, but in the wrong order, channeling everything into the fuck yeah zone of his brain.

Sublimating into pleasure.

He had always thought it was complete crap. He knew, by now, that he was a true masochist, but he had a complex relationship with pain ; what hurt really hurt, but eventually he went beyond the suffering, into the calm lands of subspace, and this was why he needed it, as a bridge, as a push of adrenaline over the abyss. However this time, it wasn't his mind, but his body which had made the leap.

What a shitty fucking timing. Loki was running wild and now, whatever he chose to do, Clint would approve wholeheartedly. The demi-god could have torn his nails, could have cut his fingers off – he could have cut his balls off, and the archer would have moaned like a porn star and climaxed like there was no tomorrow, because he couldn't make the difference between pain and pleasure now. Everything was bliss. Every single sensation was lava in his maddened body.

No, no, no, this was bad. Bad, he thought with in a last burst of consciousness, as he tottered on the edge of no return. He remembered, a long time ago, struggling against the serum in the same way. A battle lost in advance, all the same. But one of them had to stay conscious of himself and this time, just this time, it certainly wasn't going to be Loki, and Clint had told himself he trusted him but who knew how he might end after –

– the switch came down and Clint buckled and nearly tore himself and buckled again and felt the spikes and the sound and the stretcher and the humbler – and shouted,in insane ecstasy, screamed his approval, screamed at Loki to go on, to go harder, it was so good, oh God oh fuck oh yes, it was so fucking good, sobbing uncontrollably with pleasure, oh please again, again, please more, more, more, more, harder, harder, harder, HURT ME !

And suddenly he was on his back, he didn't know how he had gotten there but there he was with his thighs spread open, and the pear and the humbler and the cock ring were gone, and the demi-god was fucking him, his hands in his damp hair, two vibrators into Clint's ass and Loki too, fucking him, wracked with tremors of pleasure at every thrust, so violent it looked like he was having a seizure, or maybe the shudders were the archer's own, he didn't know, he was out of his mind, out of his body, and Loki was biting him, biting his chest and neck and shoulders, sharp bursts of cutting pleasure, blood on his teeth, and between each bite he breathed I love you, Clint must be crazy but this was what he heard, I love you, I love you, I love you, blood on his lips, and the bites burning on his chest like flaming stars of bliss, Loki biting and biting as he thrust into him, I love you, I could kill you, Barton and yes, now that was him talking even though he had no idea how to talk, yes, you can kill me, you can kill me if you want, Loki, Loki, Loki and he heard say my name again, say it, never stop and he begged say mine, please say mine, please sir, Loki please and suddenly Clint, Clint, Clint, Clint, Clint, endlessly, a bite between each word, the consonants clicking on Loki's silvertongue, and their minds a mess of stars, and their bodies a chaos of light, electricity running from Loki to Clint to Loki to Clint to Loki, and I love you, with each thrust, blood trickling, blood flowing from bites or kisses or both, I love you, I love you, I love you, and it all fused, it all exploded in white and gold –

and the old world came to an end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

For the first time, they woke up in the same bed.

Clint slowly came back up to the surface of consciousness. He was unbound, his body still deeply sore, but clean and warm. Loki was holding him tight, his nose buried in the short hair, his leg nestled between the archer's, with nothing to stand between their skins.

Clint breathed in, simply breathed ; and the dozen bites on his neck, shoulders and chest stretched to life, sparkling short-lived pain which left as the air left his lungs. Then flared again at his next inspiration.

He remembered.

He remembered thinking for a second that Loki's deepest wish was indeed to kill him. As to own him, in the most final way he could think of. And last night, in their shared delirium, Clint had begged him, cried out to the skies, kill me if you want, because at the time, at the time, he could think of nothing more delightful, more erotic, more absolute than dying at Loki Laufeyson's hand.

But then.

Then there had been Loki's teeth sinking in his skin, as though he was spelling his words in bloody runes scattered on his body, branding him once again with red ink.To own him, in the most final way he could think of. And he had thought of something different – something Clint wouldn't have imagined in a thousand years.

Was love stronger than death ?

The kind of sappy question musicals would ask. But here it was deadly serious. Clint asked himself again, feeling like he was floating between both ends of space, lying here next to Loki. When it came to own someone, was sentiment a stronger leash than pure and simple murder ?

Obviously, the demi-god thought so. And he knew death. He had killed others ; he had killed himself once, but the darkness at the bottom of the abyss was not the oblivion the expected. He had walked with death for a long time, very recently too, bowing under Thor's hammer, only an inch away from his passing. He had stopped to care. He did not single it out like most mortal beings do.

But love ?

Love he was unfamiliar with. He had been fooled with the illusion of it for a long time – or so he thought, and really, only what he thought mattered here. Clint knew Loki had personally tried to kill Thor twice during Manhattan. Obviously, this was what he feared the most. So this was what was to be found at the bottom of his well of dark desires, the most forbidden, the most dangerous, the most perverted thing of them all. Sentiment.

He must have been scared breathless to speak the words.

Or maybe he had been like Clint at the time, the archer no longer fearing death, and the demi-god similarly free of his distrust, if only for one hour of madness. Both free to say the unspeakable. For Clint to accept, kill me. For Loki to admit, love you.

And the archer felt it again, this excruciating feeling of too much, swelling in his chest like he was about to explode, pushing burning tears out of his eyes, because this weight against him was not just flesh and bones, it was someone, someone he was linked to with his mind and heart and soul and life and body and everything, everything, and this meant, he had never grasped the magnitude of it but this must mean –

“I don't want to love you” he breathed in panic.

Loki's long fingers briefly came to life on Clint's shoulders ; they shifted minutely, the gesture so small the demi-god could have very well done nothing. He didn't open his eyes, didn't flinch or stiffen.

“I can make you” he simply said.

Clint shivered. The demi-god just held tighter until the archer winced again from the bites, and pressed his lips against his ear. “Barton” he murmured, “there is nothing of you beyond my control.”

The archer closed his eyes against Loki's skin. He felt hollow, but not in a bad way. Like he was a blank page waiting for someone to write on it. None of this was his problem anymore. Loki would decide of everything. And Clint was ready to trust him, until the end of the world.

The demi-god sat up and looked around, then smiled a little at the archer in a way that showed there was indeed something to be seen. Clint pushed himself up – and blinked.

The torture room was stripped clean of all evidence of his pain. No chains hanging from the ceiling. No blood splattering the walls. No heavy smell of arousal and sweat lingering in the air, no dried fluids on the now pristine table, or on the unsullied stone floor.

He looked down at his own body. The bite marks were an angry red against his skin.

“I will let those scar” Loki said.

Clint glanced up at him, then around again. This was so weird, that stains of blood and echoes of screams should have made the room into the most lively place of Loki's house. Now it was cold and dead just like the rest. It was over. It was the end.

 

He had never thought about what would come next.

 

“Plans ?” he asked.

Loki grinned next to him, sharp and wide.

“Many.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clint opened his bow and shifted very slightly on the beam.

 

Below him, the guests were entering the ball room, chatting pleasantly, fine ladies and handsome gentlemen from outer space.

He retreated further in the shadows, which engulfed him with ease. The wide room was lit only by candles, the roof was high up above the noblemen and women and their sparkling smiles, and his clothes were almost black now – Loki had turned them a shade darker after the end of his training a few months ago.

Of their training, Clint knew he should say. He still dreamed of the last night sometimes.

He shook his head. Not now.

His eyes quickly scanned the room. They had been tracking the Other for some time now. He was there somewhere, between the fancy ladies and the smart lords.

The archer had supposed he would serve the demi-god in his tricks and pranks and ploys. That he would bring chaos and mayhem in complete disorder. But as it turned out, Loki Laufeyson was more precise and rigorous in his complex plans than anything Clint had ever seen, and focused on a single target. He was at war.

The Chitauri ? Clint had said, surprised. They're all dead.

Of course not, Barton. You thought I was given an entire race for my army ?

The dry retort made sense, obviously. But one word stood out that Clint couldn't ignore.

Given.

He hadn't dared phrasing it like a question, but Loki had nodded.

Given, Barton.

The archer was only beginning to understand that Loki's attack on Earth had been a much, much bigger business than any of them suspected. What had happened after the demi-god's fall from the Bifrost, Clint still didn't know ; but something was at stake here that went beyond Midgard, beyond Asgard, and maybe beyond Yggdrasil in a whole.

What do they want ?

Power, Loki had said. He seeks power, always.

He.

Who was he ? Not the Other ; this one was just a pawn, as Loki had been. He was Him. The Titan, Clint called him in his mind, because obviously, someone had been pulling Loki's strings from the beginning, someone he had met down in the abyss, someone even more powerful than him. It became more and more evident with each day and each one of Loki's commands. He was trying to fight back against something he had once cooperated with. Namely, the Chitauri – and their shadow master, and whatever his final goal may be.

The reason for this turning, Clint didn't have to ask – Loki's arrest by the Avengers had ironically forced him free from the Titan's orders, and the archer was well placed to know that the demi-god had decided never, ever to bow before anyone else again. So here he was in a one-man war with absolutely no allies.

Asgard's cold breeze came in from the open windows. Clint exhaled slowly. Christ, nobody in this room was less than six-feet-tall. High up in the beams, he was even taller than them, though. Still looking for the goddamn Other.

“I can't see him” he mumbled. “They're all wearing glamor and shit.”

He shifted on the beam and crawled a few feet forward to get a better angle. Below him, a blond Asgardian invoked a white rose in his hand and offered it to the nearest lady with a deep bow.

“I thought you said there was no magic allowed in Idunn House” Clint murmured.

No major spells” the demi-god corrected.

His voice was not spilling in his ear, not even in his brain, but directly in his nerves, relayed by the little blue sphere still anchored inside Clint. The archer could still feel it, even months after, always that pin-point of cold never warming up to the temperature of his blood. He had gotten used to it, though, like one gets used to a tinnitus.

He huffed through his nose and scanned the crowd once more.The situation was pretty simple. A : they had tracked the Other down to Idunn House, a ancient place of great power for every inhabitant of the Nine Realms to rest. B : No major spells (apparently did not include : glamor spells, communication spells, flower-bullshitting spells) were allowed in the sacred home. C : Loki Laufeyson was granted access regardless of his past crimes, which meant C': the Other was an authorized guest too, and C'' : as an authorized guest, Loki could not break any of the house's rules – practicing magic and attacking another guest, for instance – without facing dire consequences. Unless he did not care for Asgard in a whole turning against him.

And Clint was slowly coming to realize that although Loki did his best to hide it, he was trying above all to protect his homeland, and desperate to be a part of it. Which meant that between those walls, he was tied and bound – while the Other was not. Luckily, he was the God of Mischief, Lies and Chaos, so there was a catch.

D : as an uninvited guest, Clint Barton wasn't part of the whole honor-for-life equation.

 

Now if he could only locate the damn target...

 

“I see him” Loki suddenly said. “This is what I thought. He came for the Ruby.”

There was a time when those words would have meant nothing to Clint, but his training hadn't been made only of physical breaking. Idunn's Ruby was the most ancient treasure of Asgard, and component of the Infinity Gauntlet which had mysteriously disappeared from Odin's vault a few years earlier.

“Where's the Ruby ?” the archer murmured.

“Already in his hand. We must be quick.”

Clint finally spotted them – Loki a tall, slender silhouette in the far end of the room. He was staring at what looked like a sturdy, brown-haired Asgardian. The demi-god was pale with tension, but he couldn't attack his enemy or Idunn's roof would fall on his shoulders. Clint drew his bow, bringing the string to his ear, aiming for the heart.

But before he could shoot, the Other simply vanished.

Loki cursed in Old Norse ; the guests cried out at such a blatant violation of the house rules, and a powerful vibration rang through the air in reaction to the forbidden spell. Usually, the demi-god would have jumped right after the Other, but his powers were bound –

“After him !” he ordered.

It took Clint a second to understand the order.

“What – how ?”

“You have the keys to my house, Barton, use them !”

Clint didn't think anymore and let himself fall from the beam, making the guests yell all the more ; he rushed to the nearest door and opened it – walked not into the next room, but into Loki's library, and behind him, the House of Idunn screamed again at this breaking of the rules. He was banished from Asgard – shame he had never been a part of it in the first place. He slammed the door behind him and left through another exit to find himself –

– on a sunny field, with the Other a few steps ahead. The house had somehow guided him.

Clint blinked, then gathered himself and shot an arrow at his neck ; but the alien avoided it with insect-like swiftness and showed black teeth as his Asgardian disguise disintegrated. He disappeared again ; Clint turned back instantly, jumping from the field to Loki's house to –

– a gloomy city under a red sky, and this time the archer shot the Other's hand without missing a beat, and the Ruby was ripped out from his claws ; Clint flew through Loki's house, door library door, and he was now behind the Other and caught the Ruby before it touched the ground. He rolled in the dust and closed his fingers on the cold stone, panting with adrenaline and sheer excitement.

“Got it” he murmured.

“Run !” Loki instantly said from very far away.

The archer did not argue that he could take the Other down, did not even pause to acknowledge ; he turned away and – door, house, door – he was in a great savage land, but the air shivered and the Other appeared right in front of him, his empty eyes fixed on him and Loki had said run so Clint ran, door house door but the Other was still at his tail, this guy was unfortunately very good, matching Loki's house in swiftness and precision, and Clint jumped again door house door to the Bifrost.

And everything calmed down.

He caught his breath, a bit dumbstruck with the surrealistic chase, staring at the marvels above. Odin's palace was glowing quietly in the distance, the rainbow bridge ever so wonderful under the night skies.

Then the Other appeared behind Clint and sent him flying across the bridge.

The archer fell hard and kept moving, sliding on the bright glass away from the Gate and nearly fell into the abyss, catching himself at the last second. The alien came towards the edge, grinning.

Clint scrambled not to fall, but it felt like the void was sucking him down. He looked up at the Other, panting ; the alien put a booted foot on his fingers, both pinning him in place and readying himself to push him into the great nothingness beneath. Stupidly, Clint thought of the Lion King.

When he finally spoke, his voice sounded like crushed cockroaches.

“Hand me the Ruby, mortal.”

“Behind you” Clint gasped.

The Other sniggered. “Do you sincerely believe I will fall for such – ”

A black man in a golden armor came from behind and slammed him down on the simmering Bifrost. Heimdall, Clint thought, pulling on his arms to climb back on the bridge.

I am leaving Idunn House” Loki suddenly said in his mind. “I can see the gates, I will be here soon – RUN, Barton, jump again !”

The Other roared and struck Heimdall across the face. They were fighting right in front of the door Clint needed to reach. Great. He hoisted himself up on his legs, ready to run for it. The Gate, its door, Loki's house were only a few feet away, but the hideous alien was proving himself stronger and certainly meaner than Heimdall, pushing him towards the terrifying edge before the guardian managed to regain a bit of ground. Clint understood now why Loki had ordered him to flee. He had not a single chance, but they were still in front of the goddamn door and the Other was winning, kicking Heimdall in the stomach – Clint took an arrow – raising his weapon to impale him – Clint notched and drew –

– and Loki appeared out of nowhere to thrust his own spear between the Other's shoulder blades just as Clint's arrow dashed through the air to pierce the Chitauri's eye. The latter arched and shrieked horribly ; Loki gaped at the arrow, then back at the alien when, unbelievably, the latter wrung himself free from the blade with a repulsive noise and turned to fight back with renewed fury.

The archer took his chance, ran to the Gate, door house door to –

 

– whoa.

 

He stopped, catching his breath, eyes wide.

 

After a while, he put the Ruby in his pocket and looked around, silencing his breath. It felt surreal, soundless, the sounds slowly growing louder as though he was coming back to the surface of the ocean. The street was crowded despite the late hour, people running about without caring about him or his strange clothes.

Somewhere, he knew, Loki was fighting a heinous Chitauri side by side with Heimdall. But he had told Clint to run with his precious charge ; and the house, which had guided the archer through Realm after Realm, had now brought him here.

Of all places.

Shit, Clint thought. Shit. He knew what he wanted to do, had thought about it for a long time, from the beginning of his new life maybe. But he was under a spell, hypnotized by this average street of New York as he had once been by the magnificent Bifrost. It was so surreal. He felt like he hadn't seen it in hundreds of years, while it had only been something like six months really. It felt so weirdly alien and yet so familiar.

 

Home.

 

An ambulance rushed past, blaring in the night, and Clint snapped out of it.

Suddenly breathless, he ran across the street, earning himself infuriated honks ; he stopped, looking around, and rushed into the nearest bar. He still felt like he was in a dream, or a nightmare.

“Hey” he panted. “I'd like a beer and a phone I could use. Please, it's an emergency.”

He was stared at suspiciously ; but there were many stools and customers between him and the door, and he had ordered something to go with his request, so eventually an old Nokia ended up in his hand. He gave a brief nod in thanks, already snapping it open. He was running out of time so quickly, he could feel it.

He dialed the number – bless SHIELD for their justified paranoia : the agents always did their paperwork on paper, and never trusted their phones for phone numbers. It had stayed engraved in his memory even months after.

“You have reached Stark Tower, leave a message.”

Clint took a deep breath like he was about to jump the edge of a cliff.

He stayed hanging for a second, suddenly not knowing what to say. Then the words flowed out of his mouth ; he spoke in a panting murmur, bent over his mandatory beer so no one would hear. He had thought a lot about it, thought of what he would tell them if he had the chance. But it was all either too long or simply too big for words. There weren't that many things to say anyway.

In the end, his message was a lot shorter than what he had first intended. Fifteen, maybe twenty seconds. He waited, trying to think of something else, but nothing came so he pressed the red button to end it.

 

Only when he hung up did he realize the room had fell completely silent.

His blood curdled in his veins.

 

“Having fun ?” someone hissed in his ear.

Cold fingers wrapped around his neck. The barman gaped in horror but didn't make a single move. The fact that the newcomer was six-feet-tall and covered in blood and holding a long, vicious spear probably had something to do with it.

The archer closed his eyes.

“Kindly return this phone to its rightful owner” Loki breathed in a voice colder than ice.

Clint put the phone on the bar without a word. The demi-god made him stand brutally ; the scraping of his stool against the floor was like a gunshot in the complete silence. They walked through the room – and crossed the door.

 

*

 

Hey” Clint said, his voice breathy and slightly hoarse, as though he had ran for a long time.

Tony's full glass slipped from his fingers and shattered on the floor.

I won't be around for long, so don't bother coming for me, okay ? I hope you're all fine. I just wanted to – I didn't say it well enough last time so here it is. I'm sorry. I'm not sorry I kept you out of my shit, but I'm sorry I lied and I'm sorry it had to end like this.” Breath.“It's not the end of me though. If you're worrying, don't.”

Another breath, like he wanted to say something more.

Then a click.

Tony was in his suit before the message ended, in the air before Jarvis finished tracing the call and in the bar before the armor powered down completely – the door was ripped off its hinges when he walked in.

Half the patrons spilled their drinks and the other half ducked under the tables.

Scan” he ordered, then let his face-plate slide up. “You”he said, pointing at the barman. “Someone used your phone exactly four minutes and a half ago.”

He moved forward, punctuating his word with the whirr of his gait. “Where. Is. He. You have three seconds, starting now.”

“I don't know” the guy squealed. “He left with some black-haired guy, a freak with a fucking spear, didn't even touch his beer, man, I swear it's the goddamn truth !”

The others customers approved feverishly – then the room fell into an anxious silence again.

Tony looked down and saw blood stains on the floor.

He turned ; the splatters formed a line from a drawn stool to the destroyed exit. There was an untouched beer on the bar above the stool, still glistening with condensation.

“Scan complete, sir” Jarvis said regretfully in his ear. “No results.”

The billionaire let his eyelids fall shut.

He granted himself one second, then nodded stiffly.

“Bill me for the door” he said dryly to no one in particular. “Sorry about...”

He looked at Clint's abandoned beer on the bar. The archer's fingers were still silhouetted on the damp glass.

“...the mess” he murmured.

Jarvis’s voice chimed in again.

“A call from Director Fury, sir.”

“Block” Tony said, turning away to stride out.

“A call from Agent Coulson.”

“Block” he said, letting his face-plate clang shut.

“A call from Agent Romanov. A call from Captain Rogers.”

“Block them all” he spat, then thrust upwards and disappeared into the night air.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

The door slammed and the cool, dark atmosphere of Loki's house enveloped them.

Before his eyes could even adjust to the light, Clint was thrown on the stone floor and Loki violently kicked him in the stomach. He let out an animal cry and tried to curl up, only to convulse again when the demi-god hit even harder, trampling him like the archer wasn't even worthy of his fists. He pushed him on his back then pressed his boot between Clint's legs and crushed him mercilessly.

The archer's scream was brutally cut off when Loki seized him at the throat to hoist him up like he weighed nothing and slam him against the wall. Clint gasped and grabbed the demi-god's wrist with both hands by reflex, but did not try to break free – struggling would have made it all worst.

The cold blue eyes pierced his own for a second ; then looked him up and down.

“You are not injured” Loki said in a deceptively calm voice.

The archer had a feeling he wouldn't stay that way for long. He still shook his head in confirmation. Loki released him and he couldn't help coughing violently, pressing a fist to his lips to muffle it. His body was still trembling in pain from the beating, his crotch sending waves of nauseating weakness through his groin and legs.

“What were you doing still on the Bifrost, Barton ?” the demi-god said in a low, threatening voice.

Clint's ragged breath hitched with surprise.

“I – what ?”

Loki grabbed him at the throat again and slammed him against the wall, nearly lifting him off the floor. “I told you to run” he hissed.Why were you still there when I arrived ? Why did you shoot ? Did you think you could take on the Other by yourself ?”

“No – no !” Clint choked.

His vehemency took Loki aback, and he slightly loosened his hold, allowing the archer's toes to brush the floor.

“He nearly threw me off the bridge and when I climbed back, they were blocking the door !” Clint exclaimed, throwing his last supplies of oxygen in the battle. “I was trying to shoot my way out.”

The demi-god's eyes dissected him for another second ; his fingers were like a claw of steel around Clint's throat, and the archer knew they could both feel his frantic pulse. Then the adrenaline seemed to leave Loki's system, and the fire of his fury died out.

“Alright” he mumbled, then brutally let go of Clint again.

The archer coughed and gasped some more, then stayed slumping forward, breathing heavily.

“That's all ?” he croaked after a while.

Loki just stared at him.

The archer wanted to avert his eyes, sink to his knees, beg, but he needed to hear it from Loki's mouth first. The disappointment. The anger. The demi-god made him wait though, staring him down as though he was wondering whether Clint was even worth crushing.

Then, surprisingly, his features softened – it was a minute shifting of the hard lines of his brow and jaw, but it made it seem like the blue of his eyes had cleared.

“I never forbade you to contact your friends” he finally said.

Clint blinked again. He straightened up minutely, then froze, afraid it was all a trap.

Loki's voice was very calm, though.

“It was chance that brought you to Midgard, Barton. You did not reach it on purpose, and you did not seize the opportunity to cry for help.”

He turned away. “Had you done so, you would be dead by now. I cannot tolerate a slave pretending to bow.”

His words were still perfectly cold and even, as though he was reminding Clint of well-known maintenance instructions. “But we both know that this is not the case here, do we not ?”

He glanced at the archer again with a small smile. “Have a little faith.”

Clint realized he knew this was a lie. Loki could not possibly be indifferent to his slave rushing to contact his former teammates as soon as he had the chance. Yet he was letting him get away with it.

Because Loki Laufeyson had nothing to long for. Whatever fond memories he might harbor from his youth, he had ditched them in a whole after the revelation of Odin's betrayal. It had all been negated as an illusion. When the demi-god had fallen into that abyss, he had lost everything up to his past life ; he did not know regret and melancholy, only bitterness and hatred.

Clint, though, Clint was not broken in this way. And Loki would let him have it, because if he admitted how threatened he felt by ancient friendships, he would admit that he didn't trust his own power over his slave. So he was acting as though it was no big deal. Have a little faith – the words were meant more for him than for Clint himself.

The archer swallowed, throat tight with guilt ; he wanted to explain, wanted to say sorry, but as his gaze trailed across the floor in search of courage, he found himself following a trail of blood specks. Looking up, he saw what he should have seen right away – large flowers of blood blooming on the dark cloth covering Loki's chest, almost invisible on the green-and-black.

Every other thought instantly vanished from his mind.

“You're hurt” he breathed.

Loki looked mildly surprised, then glanced down at his own chest. “Oh” he said, “No. The blood is not mine.”

He leaned his spear against a chair and walked towards Clint. “Heimdall was wise enough to accept my help. The Other ran away before we could settle things, though.”

He smirked.

“Left me with a craving.”

Clint didn't hesitate. “Anything you want, sir. I'm sorry. It didn't mean – I just wanted – I'm sorry.”

“I don't need your apologies” Loki dismissed. 

His smirk widened. "“Nor do I need your permission, Barton.” 

He braced his hand around Clint's throat again, but his fingers didn't dig in this time, simply held him against the wall while his lips came to brush the archer's ear.

“The Ruby, if you will.”

The archer had almost forgotten about it. He twisted his arm to get it out from his pocket and handed it to Loki, who quickly wished the stone away with a flick of his wrist.

“I don't think you realize what you did” he murmured, his breath curling against the archer's skin. “You stole Idunn House's most prized treasure and walked away unharmed. A feat never before accomplished.”

He grinned. “Heimdall will testify and his word is precious to all. People were already murmuring about you across the Realms ; today granted you fame.”

He pressed Clint against the wall even more and his free hand came between the archer's thighs to palm him. “The Hawk” he said, making the k click on his tongue, “as they say.”

His hand tightened around his balls, adding pressure until the archer let out a moan – which Loki swiftly strangled by crushing his throat a bit more. Clint stayed still, breathing fast. Loki spoke slowly and with delectation, chiseling the consonants like frames around the vowels.

“I want to see you writhing at the end of a cane. I want to take you until you sob for mercy.”

Clint shuddered. Loki pressed even closer. “And I will do both these things –but not as a punishment. Merely because you are my slave and it is my wish to hear my slave scream.”

The archer squirmed a little and Loki squeezed his throat a notch tighter, grabbing him through his pants with his other hand. “What was that, Barton ? Do you think it unfair ? Do you think you deserve a reward instead ?”

“No, sir” the archer breathed, very stiff with his chin raised.

“Why not ?” Loki asked.

He swallowed against the hand strangling him and said, “Because I am your slave, sir.”

“So ?”

Clint licked his lips. “You don't reward a hammer for hitting a nail.”

Loki grinned. “Now isn't that an accurate metaphor.”

The archer closed his eyes and threw his head back with a pant when the demi-god squeezed his crotch again, sending a jolt of pain through his body. “Thank – thank you, sir” he managed.

He was really, really hard. He hadn't even felt it building, lost in Loki's words and in the words Loki made him say.

The demi-god stepped back, freeing him. Clint's clothes vanished ; at the same time, Loki's spear turned into a short, flexible cane, which he smacked against his palm. The archer stared at it and swallowed silently. Canes hurt the most. The demi-god licked his lips, his eyes gleaming at the thought of what was coming.

Clint took a breath, then turned around and braced against the wall, pushing his palms flat on the stone, spreading his legs a little. He bowed his head and waited, ready for his punishment.

Except it wasn't punishment – he knew he was about to suffer for no other reason than his master getting off on it, and the thought sent a thrill up his spine. He wasn't required to feel shame or guilt. Only pure, vicious pain. He could not understand the pleasure Loki would get out of it though, just how Loki could not understand Clint's own willingness to be tortured. It was strange, how such opposites came to fit so perfectly together. Strange, that he felt nothing but a heady sense of perfection in this moment.

Then the cane hissed through the air and landed with a sharp slap across his ass, and all his thoughts were short-circuited. He held his breath for a second, then let it out in a groan. With only a little strength from Loki, the jolt of pain was already significant, concentrated in a thin hard line against his naked buttocks. The demi-god hit again, rough but not unbearable yet. He was building this up. The archer clenched his jaw again and focused on his palms pressed against the wall. It was much easier to take a beating when he was tied up, but he would not be given that chance today.

The cane hit again and Clint almost squirmed in impatience, because – even him could have struck a lot harder. This stung, but the lighting-quick sensation only left him burning with impatience.

“Please” he said, staring at the wall between his flat hands – but Loki's chuckle cut him off before he could even formulate his plea. Another hit against his ass, even lighter than before.

“Impatient ?” the demi-god mocked. “How unfortunate.”

Clint gritted his teeth and said nothing. Loki kept hitting him with sharp little slaps that left his skin buzzing with pain, striking hard but not nearly hard enough for Clint to even begin the descent into subspace – on the contrary, the archer was growing more and more unnerved and edgy with this superficial beating. He knew canes were the worst when it came to pain – to him, anyway – and the discrepancy between what he felt and what he could have felt was incredibly frustrating. Even after all this time, the demi-god still managed to make Clint hate him in record time.

After five long minutes, his ass was pink and flaming hot, but there was still no sense of accomplishment whatsoever, only a disconnected pain that was getting him absolutely nowhere. He briefly thought of his milking, weeks ago, and let out a long breath through his nose.

Then without any warning – Loki whacked him with all his strength.

The hard blow on Clint's already raw skin increased the pain thousandfold and he screamed in agony, nearly deafening himself, and almost fell down before he remembered he had to hold himself up. The demi-god smacked him again and God – Clint could not remember for the life of him why he had been eager for this just before. The cane came down on his ass and thighs, neat, well-defined blows that fit Loki's elegant cruelty perfectly, angry red stripes blooming on the pink skin.

It was so painful Clint couldn't even groan with each strike – only choke on it and gasp like a fish out of water. He was doing his best not to scream again, but he lost that battle fast enough – his ass was already tremendously sensitive from the long, frustrating beating, yet Loki was caning him as though Clint hadn't been touched in a year.

The harsh slaps against his skin were driving him crazy – he could feel the shock rippling through his flesh every time. He still had to lean against the wall himself, and his arms were shuddering violently with his efforts not to collapse. At first, they had been extended ; now his forearms were flat against the wall and he was pressing his forehead against it, screwing his eyes shut and breathing fast between two blows. He desperately wished for restraints, for something to hold him up, but Loki was having too much fun. The archer knew he was not supposed to fall, but to hold himself upright was becoming harder and harder –

– the cane leaped and hissed and whacked and Clint screamed, screamed as though he was never going to stop and felt his chest constrict and choked, gasped – but his sob was cut off by Loki suddenly crushing him against the wall, tearing a cry of surprise out of him instead.

“No” the demi-god murmured with an awful tenderness, ruffling his hair damp with sweat. “Ssshhh. It's alright, Barton.”

Clint whimpered and jolted when Loki squeezed his raw ass, digging his nails into the burning flesh. “Don't cry” he soothed, as though he was not torturing Clint at this very second.

A wicked joy seeped out in his voice. “You are not allowed yet.”

Clint gasped another not-quite sob and cried out when he was crushed harder against the wall in retaliation. He felt the demi-god's erection pressing against him.

“I am just getting started” Loki whispered in his ear, predatory. “Do not ruin this for me.”

“No, sir” the archer whined. “I'm sorry, sir.”

The demi-god grinned, then took a step back and let Clint slide down the wall to fall on all fours. He could feel his blood pulsing on the abused skin of his ass.

Loki clipped a chain to his collar, then the cane tapped his hip.

“Over here, Barton.”

Clint shivered, then crawled after him. Loki took place in a deep, comfortable chair, then raised the archer's chin with the tip of the cane.

“Good” he smirked. “Now.” He angled his hips. “Let us do what you hate.”

He yanked Clint's leash to bring him between his thighs and against his rim.

The archer nearly moaned in anticipated pleasure, then hurried to open his mouth and lick at the tight pucker. Loki's thighs instantly jumped on each side of his head.

“Hmm” he exhaled, tugging at the chain, “aah – yes, how thankful you are. How glad to be put back in your place – hm – ”

He nearly moaned when Clint pushed his tongue inside his hole and licked eagerly with broad strokes. Loki was never this vocal, except when he was rimmed indeed. The archer was rock-hard – a few simple words and he was twisting with lust. What he was being forced to do wasn't helping either. For some reason, Loki's fluttering thighs against his temples were driving him insane ; he braced on them to push his face deeper between his legs. There was nothing but Loki's body and the pleasure at the tip of his tongue, and the sick bliss Clint found in his own humiliation.

The cane was tracing slow circles on his sweaty back ; it suddenly left – and came down on his ass, slapping him so hard he moaned desperately between Loki's thighs. The demi-god chuckled and did it again. From where he was, he could only hit the sides of Clint's buttocks and not nearly as strongly as before, but the archer's skin was already beaten raw and even the slightest caresses would have hurt as fuck. Those strikes were like jolts of electricity, making his entire body jump and twitch. Loki's hand wrapped behind his neck and pressed his face in his ass, so deep he couldn't breathe.

“Focus” he said playfully, tracing circles on his back again.

Clint whimpered in answer but kept going, eagerly licking Loki's rim, whining again when the hand pulled his hair to make him go up. His lips met the base of the demi-god's cock and he licked and sucked all the more, cried out when the cane struck him and struggled not to let his eyes water.

“Hush” Loki said in mock gentleness, brushing his cheek. “I know it hurts.” He struck him again and murmured another “Hush, hush, you will be fine” in answer to his cry of pain, hit again, let him buckle and whispered “Ssh, Barton – be brave, it'll be over soon enough” and hit even harder – and Clint felt him grow fully erect just from this sick little game. The discrepancy between his soft reassurances and the relentless torture was absurd and maybe more wicked than anything Loki had ever invented before.

When the demi-god grew tired of it, Clint was pressed against his cock again. Loki firmly gripped his hair and made him go up, up, until the tip of his dick found its way between the archer's lips. This time, Clint couldn't hold back a moan. He sucked eagerly, took it all in his mouth, and realized at the taste that Loki had already come once – just from beating him. 

His spasm of arousal turned into a jolt of pure pain when the cane struck so hard his skin broke – a thin red line in the middle of a long, already blackening bruise. He moaned around the demi-god's cock and lost his focus. He tried to get at it again, then lost the rhythm once more at the next blow.

The next second, Loki murmured “Here, let me help” and straightened up from his sprawl, effectively ramming his cock deeper into Clint's throat. He dropped the cane, gripped the archer's head with both hands and fucked his face, making him choke yet again.

“Ah, much better” he panted. “You are so easily – ” he rolled his hips, pushed all the way down – “distracted.”

Clint gagged and writhed, making him laugh ; when tears jerked out from his eyes though, Loki pulled out and slapped him so hard his head whipped on the side.

“Not yet” he hissed.

Clint coughed and tried to catch his breath without letting a single tear spill ; the demi-god made him turn brutally and strapped his wrists together in his back. The archer let out a pathetic little sound when Loki gripped his neck and pushed him down with his abused ass up in the air. He struggled against his bonds.

“Please, sir – ”

Loki gripped Clint's hips, careful to dig precisely in the bloodiest welts – bastard – lined up and penetrated him slowly, breaching his bruised ass, relishing every single of Clint's moans and tremors up to his final spasm when the head of the demi-god's cock brushed against his swollen prostate.

“Does it hurt ?” he said cruelly.

“Yes” Clint moaned.

“Not enough then” Loki answered, and gripped and twisted his abused flesh again until he had Clint panting little cries and twisting desperately. Only then did he start moving – the archer was able only to breathe out incoherent sounds every time Loki pushed in. The demi-god fucked him deep and slow, grabbing Clint's shoulders and kneading the muscles, both holding him down and massaging him, the gesture so tender and so cruel that the archer shook his head in a brisk shudder to escape it. Loki only chuckled and fucked him even deeper, way past Clint's prostate, as though the archer was only a hole for him to jerk off. Clint's head lolled to the side, his eyes hazy and unfocused. He didn't even wince again when Loki violently pulled his hair.

“Falling asleep ?”

Clint was in such a haze from the relentless abuse that he could only pant when Loki's hard cock impaled him even more harshly – then scream when a slap landed on his worst bruises. When the demi-god's nails dug and scraped his raw flesh again, he whined and bit his lip hard to chase tears.

“Oh, you can cry now” the demi-god said lightly.

The archer let out another distressed breath, then a strangled cry at the next impalement. It was too much – being taken after a caning, and Loki was taking his sweet time too, setting a regular rhythm as though he didn't intend for any of them to come. Clint wanted to beg for – he didn't even know what for, the obsessive rhythm was scattering his thoughts, and he had lost the ability to speak anyway. He could only moan, and whine, and cry out at each of Loki's now very much harsher thrusts, helpless, shameless, sobbing – was he sobbing ? – sobbing in tune with the wicked rhythm, and the demi-god was brushing his spine with light strokes, murmuring soothing words even though he was pounding more and more violently into him, and that Clint couldn't bear anymore and he begged, sobbed for him to stop caring, to stop playing, to have mercy. Loki always managed to break him in the end.

Only when he heard him beg in halting sobs did the demi-god drop the tender act and free them both by pinning him down to fuck him hard and fast. Clint let out an incoherent noise of relief and approval. He went completely limp and just let it happen, let Loki's cock slam and slam into him, let it wash through him like a tidal wave – he felt it coming and it burst through him, pushing a desperate cry of ecstasy out of him which took Loki over the edge immediately after.

The demi-god pulled out, breathing deeply, then just leaned down and rested on Clint, unmoving and warm. The archer closed his eyes and let out a sigh.

They caught their breath for what felt like a very long time. Clint never minded that part. The demi-god was heavy, but in a good way, and none of them certainly felt like moving. The archer felt sated and in peace, and to know that Loki was satisfied as well made it all as perfect as it could ever be.

Eventually though, they cooled down and the archer started feeling cold – he was lying down naked on a marble floor after all. They must be in the living-room ; he hadn't paid attention after Loki had brought him back from Earth.

The demi-god must have felt the beginning of his shivers since he pushed on his arms to sit up. Clint whimpered slightly when Loki helped him to straighten up ; he wavered and leaned against him for a second, his arms still tied in his back. After everything – Idunn House, the chase with the Other, the shock at finding himself on Earth, his brief moment of total terror when Loki had come for him in the bar – he felt like he had been literally wrung out.

Loki's fingers trailed across his hair.

“Bath ?” he whispered.

“Yeah” Clint rasped.

He swallowed, trembling. Loki's come was dripping down his inner thighs. “Yes, please, sir.”

“Come on then.”

The demi-god got up and the archer did the same – and stopped.

There were marks on Loki's stomach he hadn't had the chance to see before. Pink crescents slowly fading away, like the stabs of a curved blade.

He looked at the coat drenched in blood and felt his own stomach churn. God of fucking Lies.

He didn't think he was meant to notice it, though, so he said nothing, and looked up to meet the demi-god's eyes. It was strange, standing there face to face naked, as though they were equals. And they were, in a sense ; not in similarity, but in complementarity. Loki looked pretty out of it himself, his gaze quite vague and with a dizzy sense of completion.

“Come” he repeated, and grabbed his leash very close from the collar to drag him into the steaming bathroom waiting behind the door.

Clint had to repress a moan of bliss when he entered the hot room ; he couldn't hold it back when he got down into the water a moment later. He let himself relax, and what little tension was left in his body hovered away with the steam. Loki cleaned him thoroughly, making him squirm in shame ; only when the archer was mute with submission did the demi-god untie him.

He let him rest then, and cleaned himself without requiring his help. The archer was grateful for it, no matter how good his lover's skin could taste.

Lover.

He repeated the word in his head, studied it in the clear, calm zone of his present state of mind. His sobs and the white-hot pain had washed him clean, like acid sharpening a diamond. Such controlled violence, such calibrated abuse could not decently be linked with something as vague and relative as love. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate Loki – the time of hatred was long gone, even after such merciless sessions. But he simply didn't think love should be even considered as part of the equation here. What they had had nothing to do with sentiment.

“Midgard” Loki said out loud.

Clint startled slightly and looked up.

Loki was staring in space, as though trying to read a hidden message in the twirling fog.

“Maybe you did not end there by chance” he whispered.

Clint's peace rippled like calm waters under a gush of wind. Was Loki implying that the archer's subconscious wishes had somehow led the door to open on his old home ? Was he doubting him again ?

The demi-god caught the glimpse of worry in the archer's eye and shook his head minutely. “My spell was following the Other, Barton.” He stared into the steam again. “Yes” he muttered to himself. “Yes, there is no other explanation.”

“Wait” Clint said.

Loki smiled at him. “You got it already, didn't you ?”

“The house took me to his final destination. He is targeting Earth.”

“Thanos is, yes” the demi-god murmured darkly.

Clint stared at him for a long while.

“That was him, wasn't it ?” he said softly.

Finally, a name. He came a bit closer, the water sending dancing lights on the wall. “The man you met down there.”

“I would not call him a man” Loki said under his breath. “But yes.”

The admission rendered Clint silent for a few seconds.

“Were you forced ?” he asked in the same low voice, as though they were both trying not to speak over the quiet sounds of the rippling water.

He needed to know. Loki could have drowned him like a helpless cub, but he needed to be sure.

“Were you forced to attack us ?”

The demi-god stared at the opposite wall as though he planned never to look away. He did eventually though, turning to gaze to Clint.

“No” he said. “I was not.”

The archer stared at him for a long time, then nodded. He knew Loki had just told him the truth.

He also knew Loki could not see the entire truth from where he was – that Thanos had seen through him, seen his hunger for control and used it to manipulate him... No wait, on second thought – of course he had realized that.

Why else would he be fighting now ?

“I still do not regret what I did” Loki added with the slightest hint of threat.

Clint gave a mirthless little chuckle. “I'm sure you don't.”

“But” the demi-god said, staring at the wall again.

He took a deep breath. “But. It was... messy. It was inelegant.”

Yes, it was. Loki was clever and smooth even when it came to bring pain – especially then ; Clint had the scars to prove it. And he remembered the Destroyer sparing innocents in New Mexico. The attack on Earth, though, had been brutal and rough, with only a tiny bit of slyness that had backfired in the end, and hundreds of casualties. Messy indeed. The archer was familiar with that kind of confusion, with the mind and body burning in the same deafening cry, until everything else was blurred and halting and it all seemed to spin out of control.

What Loki had just said was as close as an apology as Clint would ever get, and he knew it.

They stayed silent for a long while, until Clint took a deep breath. “Well – I'm sure you have something very elegant in mind right now.”

The demi-god gave a short chuckle. “Sadly, no” he said. “I have been looking for Thanos for way too long. I am unprepared and he already has five gems. There is no time.”

His tone was dejected and resigned. It didn't suit him – Loki always had a back-up plan.

“We can only face him and fight.”

“But we have the sixth gem” Clint countered.

“He might come after us for it indeed” Loki said, making the Ruby appear with a twist of his fingers and staring at it pensively.

It vanished after a few seconds and he closed his hand. “But the Ruby is only for power. The roughest of all six. Thanos can have the Gauntlet functioning with another source of energy if he finds one.”

“Like the Tesseract ?” Clint said.

Loki just stared at him and the archer had his answer.

He gritted his teeth, then closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. Jesus, so that was the reason. The true reason behind Manhattan. The true spark at the origin of the explosion that had shaken his life upside down.

“But – it's in Asgard now” he said eventually. “The Cube, it's in Asgard.”

“Indeed” Loki nodded. “And heavily protected. Which is why Thanos is targeting Midgard again instead.”

“But what source of power is there on – ”

Clint cut himself off and remembered where the door had led him. Not just any place on Earth. Fucking New York.

And five minutes from Stark Tower.

“No” he breathed.

He looked at Loki in panic. “We're stopping him, aren't we ? We're really going to fight him ?”

“Yes” the demi-god said, serenely.

Clint stared at him in fear and confusion. Loki had made it clear not an hour ago that Clint's attachment to his old friends was not to be perceived as a threat to their relationship. But that did not mean that suddenly he was going to save the Avengers, just because his slave wished it so.

“Why ?” the archer breathed. “Why would you want to protect the Earth ?”

Loki blinked, then looked at him again in amusement. “This is what disturbs you ?”

Clint's confusion increased, tearing a huffed laugh out of the demi-god.

“Not the fact that you will be fighting a Titan with nothing but a bow ?” he elaborated. “Not the fact that I am sending us both to a certain death ?”

“Why would an order from you disturb me ?” Clint said, raising an eyebrow.

Loki just kind of gaped at him.

His shocked expression took Clint aback, and he might have actually blushed if not for the heat already flushing him hot. Never before had Loki looked like that – simply gobsmacked that Clint could have faith in him to the point of not even questioning a suicide order.

Yeah, alright, he guessed not many people had been willing to trust the demi-god blindly until now. He just hadn't... really thought about it.

“I don't want to protect Midgard” Loki finally answered him as though on automatic mode, his eyes still a bit too round. “With the Gauntlet, Thanos threatens the entire Universe, and I am a part of it. I must fight and Midgard happens to be the battlefield. That is all there is to it, really.”

Clint gave a nod, but he hadn't really listened to the explanation – the expression he had just caught on Loki's face was branded on his inner eye, like a memory of the sun. It made something twist painfully inside him. It reminded him of the loneliness oozing from the very house, of Loki standing very close from the edge of a roof. Just like he had once stood too close from the edge of a shimmering bridge.

He closed his eyes. Loki thought he was going to lose.

When he reopened them, the demi-god was very close, the water still softly rippling around him.

“Barton” he murmured.

He framed his face, looked at him for a second. Then he tilted his head and kissed him. Softly at first – then all of sudden hungrily, ravenously, wrapping his arms around the archer's gleaming body, as though they hadn't just banged each other's brains out, as though he would never stop wanting him, as though he was actually able to love like a normal, decent person.

Clint held him, Loki's shoulders slippery under his fingers, and recognized it for what it was – it was that particular kiss that said, We might die soon. No choice but to fight and according to Loki, no choice but to die.

He kissed back feverishly, licking his way into Loki's mouth, and it said, for now we're alive.

“For now we're alive” he breathed against Loki's lips.

The demi-god grinned and grabbed Clint's hips underwater, lifting him so the archer's legs came to wrap around his waist.

“Show me” he murmured.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“Nothing ? Nothing ?”

“I do not know !” Thor exploded, so loud the magic transmission jumped. “I have not seen Loki in over three months !”

“Weren't you supposed to ?”

“Perhaps you ought to try – when Loki means to hide, not even Heimdall can see through his shadows ! And I was never in charge of Clint Barton ! I am not to blame for his loss !”

“Because I am ?” Tony shouted indignantly.

A razor-sharp voice cut them both short.

“Stark, shut up. Thor, calm down.”

Not even Steve could have gotten Tony to lower his voice, but Natasha's icy tone made him freeze as though he had been actually petrified. He stared at Thor's image, chest heaving, words bubbling behind his sealed lips.

Coulson, Steve and Bruce entered the room behind her. Jarvis had all warned them of Thor's message but Tony had of course gotten there first and now that Natasha had effectively scolded Iron Man and a god, she was wordlessly put in charge.

“Thor, it's good to see you” she said dryly. “As Tony might have told you, Barton appeared on Earth and left us a message on voice mail before Loki took him away again.”

Thor took a deep breath and nodded in acknowledgment.

“Anything to do with you contacting us today ?”

He worked his jaw for a second, then broke eye contact with Tony and ran a hand through his long hair. “I suppose so” he said. “There have been several sightings of Barton through all of Asgard during the past months.”

“And you're only telling us now ?” Tony growled.

“There were sightings of Loki really” the thunderer explained despite the billionaire's more than aggressive tone. “Each time there was someone at my brother's side ; more likely Barton, but it could have been a trick – and I would not be a vessel for it.”

“Okay” Natasha said firmly before Tony could react. “Go on.”

Coulson went across the room and grabbed the billionaire by the arm to whisper a few words to him while Natasha and Steve kept listening to Thor.

“What made you tell us this time ?” Steve asked.

Thor inhaled deeply again. “Barton and Loki infiltrated Idunn House.”

It was probably meant as a dramatic declaration, but he only got dumb looks in answer.

“Asgard's most sacred place” he insisted. “One of our two vaults for ancient treasures, along with my father's palace.”

“Are you saying Barton attempted to steal something ?” Coulson called out from across the room.

“I am saying he succeeded. He disappeared with the Gem of Power and nobody knows how.”

“Well Loki must have magicked him away” Tony said in exasperation.

“No” the thunderer said sternly. “It was absolutely impossible – even my brother would not defile Idunn House with an act of magic. Barton did this alone. But there is more.”

He clenched his jaw. “He somehow reappeared on the Bifrost along with a Chitauri. That is when Heimdall saw him and was able to identify him.”

Natasha blanched, but said nothing.

“Loki appeared a few seconds later and fought side by side with Heimdall, while Barton ran again.”

“To end up here” Bruce said pensively.

They startled at the sound of his soft voice ; for some reason, they had all forgotten he was there.

He looked up. “Jarvis, let us hear that message again.”

“Certainly, doctor.”

Clint's voice rose in the room, so loud and clear he could have been there.

I won't be around for long, so don't bother coming for me, okay ? I just wanted to – I didn't say it well enough last time so here it is. I'm sorry. I'm not sorry I kept you out of my shit, but I'm sorry I lied and I'm sorry it had to end like this.” Breath.“It's not the end of me though. If you're worrying, don't.”

“Does that sound like he was running away from Loki ?” Steve wondered out loud.

Natasha's lips were a tight line. “Can't tell” she said. “It does sound like he's running out of time.”

“And Loki came to abduct him the second after” Tony murmured.

“But they fought against the Chitauri on the Bifrost” Bruce said. “What are they doing ? What's Loki's plan ?”

“Whatever happened, they have the Gem” Thor said hurriedly. “And the Chitauri leader escaped. We should expect – ”

A monstrous noise shook the entire building and all lights – including Thor's glowing image – started flickering erratically.

Coulson was the first to get on his feet ; he looked out the window.

“Well” he murmured calmly.

Five armored Leviathans were crossing the sky.

Screams of terror were already coming from the street. Phil turned to them. “The end of this conversation will have to wait.”

“Holy shit” Tony breathed, very white.

“Hell no” Steve growled. “Not again.”

He jumped on his feet. “Iron Man – out there, distract them, give us as much time as you can. Agent Coulson, I trust you and SHIELD to evacuate the civilians now. Widow, with me in the Quinjets. Doc...”

He looked at Bruce who nodded with a small smile, then folded his glasses and put them on the coffee table. He took a deep breath, then just went, opened a window and jumped out. The others scattered in a flash before he had even hit the ground, but heard the tremendous roar of the Hulk seconds after.

“How can they be here ?” Natasha hissed. "There is no door and no Tesseract."

"They must have come physically" Steve said. "I mean - they're kinda spaceships. Someone sent them to fly here a long time ago."

"But why ? And who ?"

“I don't know” Steve said, throat dry.

He knew she was asking herself whether Barton had something to do with all this and he knew she was trying not to ask herself that – knew it because he was exactly the same right now.

“Let's go” he said.

 

Emergency protocols, what a wonderful thing” Tony said not fifteen minutes later. “Not a single civilian in the streets.”

“Thank God” Steve groaned.

His Quinjet banked brusquely to avoid a Leviathan's tail. They had all learned how to fly SHIELD's aircrafts and he was certainly not regretting that decision.

“Where's Bruce ?” he yelled.

“Two blocks east last time I saw him” Tony said.

A powerful roar came form the south.

“Shit, he's moving fast.”

“Widow, what's your position ?”

“Right behind you” she said. “We can't take those things down with only two Quinjets.”

“I think the Hulk already mashed one into a tin can” Steve said.

He did not know for sure though. Everything was moving fast, too fast. They needed a steady pair of eyes to direct them on the battlefield. They should have replaced Barton the second he had disappeared, but somehow they had been unprofessional enough to delay it and now, now...

“I can still...” Tony started.

“No” Steve ordered sternly. “You are not doing the Jonah maneuver again, Tony, not until –”

“CAP !” Natasha yelled.

His stupid instinct made him turn to see who needed help – and he only realized too late that it was him. He did a barrel roll to avoid the monstrous mouth of a Leviathan – and Natasha's Quinjet, right behind him, took it to the left rotor. It started spinning on itself in an erratic course faster and faster until it just shattered mid-flight.

“No” Steve muttered in panic as the Widow plummeted to her death, “no no no no – ”

The Leviathan was turning back behind him, opening its tremendous oven of a mouth again, and something thin and black crossed the air like a meteor and snatched Natasha moments away from the ground.

“What the fuck is that ?”

Displayed on the Quinjet screens, Jarvis zoomed on the silhouette, but there was nothing to be seen – a man on a Chitauri flying jetski, black leather and a helmet with smooth lines that curiously resembled Tony's, except that instead of the slight fangs of the Iron Man armor, it was a sharp beak that covered the newcomer's mouth.

 

Clint remembered last time only too well.

Natasha had been falling and the archer unable to catch her. That day he had told Coulson everything, and that day Loki had left him.

He dove down like his flying jetski was going on free fall. The wind was whistling then roaring at his ears. He was getting closer, closer, closer, and Natasha from the ground closer, closer, closer – all incredibly fast, red and black against a moving canvas of colors, and he reached out – he reached out – pushed the engines as fast he could, the ground rushed at him – and he grabbed her arm and jumped out of the small aircraft which crashed on the asphalt. Clint rolled on the ground with Natasha held tight against him for what felt like a goddamn mile.

As soon as they came to a halt, she kicked him in the stomach and jumped to her feet to face him, pulling out a gun. Her bottom lip was cut, the right side of her face was completely scraped and covered in gravel, she was disheveled and breathless and ready to fight to death and absolutely stunning.

He got up slowly, hands up.

 

Natasha caught her breath feverishly ; the steel helmet stared back at her. Who the fuck was this guy ? Not human anyway – a kick like that would have sent any normal person on his knees and puking his guts out. A mutant ? He looked Asgardian – animal helmet and black leather – but he was too small, and the way he stood –

A tremendous roar made her look up. The Leviathan dove towards her, smashing the buildings around with its swishing tail as its spiked spine curved downwards.

“All that for me ?” she panted.

Sass wasn't going to save her though. And it was too late to run. Next to her, the stranger moved, too swift for her to react – and snapped a black bow open.

Nothing else could have made her look away from the gigantic alien. She gaped at the man as he took out an arrow from the quiver in his back.

“No” she breathed.

The helmet didn't turn to her ; the man notched and drew carefully.

“You can't be" she said.

The arrow darted through the air at the planet-sized monster coming at them – and took off its whole head.

Nice and clean, no explosion, no debris ; it simply disappeared, a nice round piece chopped off as though it had never been there.

 

“You're fucking kidding me !” Tony screamed on the coms. “Antimatter arrows ?”

The Leviathan's body shook the buildings on their axis when it fell ; Natasha thought the Empire State Building was coming down to crush her. The immense shadow stretched over her and there was still nowhere to run. Next to her, the masked warrior seemed to hesitate, then grabbed her arm.

“Close your eyes” he said.

She just gaped at him. Blood was filling her mouth, warm and metallic, and she spat it on the floor.

“Nat” he implored.

She cringed, but didn't try to shake free. Not just yet.

“If you ever trusted me, close your eyes.”

She couldn't believe it. She couldn't believe any of it. So for once – for maybe the first time in her life – she acted on a hunch.

She closed her eyes.

 

Clint tightened his grip around her wrist. Loki was going to kill him for this.

He turned and ran to the nearest building and

door –

suddenly for an absurd moment he was running with Natasha through the cold rooms of Loki's house, the white light, the walls of grey stone, her hair a flaming speck of color in that gloomy place and –

door –

they got out on a nearby rooftop.

 

Clint took a shivering breath and let go of Natasha. A few blocks away, the Leviathan corpse was falling slowly.

“You can look” he breathed.

She opened her eyes just as the monster which should have killed them crushed three buildings in its fall.

They stayed here side by side for a long minute – an eternity on the battlefield.

Eventually, she turned to him. He thought she was going to ask how he had done this – what had happened to him – or something, but she didn't speak. Instead, she reached inside her pocket and took out something he recognized immediately. A com piece. SHIELD agents always carried spares.

Clint stared at it for a good thirty seconds. Then he took it and clipped it underneath his helmet. She parted his lips open – and a deafening roar shook the roof. They turned ; another Leviathan was coming down the street.

He just stepped over the edge and leaped.

 

“CLINT !” she yelled.

 

Tony saw it all – the masked warrior jumped impossibly far, his legs moving as though he was running through the air ; he should have crashed down but he went up in a graceful curve over the street, did a perfect somersault and landed on the Leviathan's back. He drew his bow and shot three arrows at point blank between the steel scales. A powerful blastwave shook the monster which shrieked like nails on glass and –

 

“That's not Barton. No way.”

“I heard him, Stark, he called me by my name – ”

“He used to jump off buildings, not over them – ”

“FOCUS !”Clint shouted on the coms.

 

Steve was running from the smoldering ruins of his Quinjet. He shouldn't be on the ground. The Hulk roared in the distance but there was no one to help. He was going to –

 

The Leviathans were not Clint's main problems, not by a long shot. The Tower was waiting for him. It was very far away, but he could reach it easily with such a body and such a bow - his former self couldn't even have drawn the string. He took out the special arrows and got to work. Notch, aim, shoot, notch, aim, shoot, notch, aim, shoot, notch –

 

“Barton, is that you ?” Tony yelled. “What the hell is happening ?”

“Not allowed to speak” Clint panted.

“Aren't you doing it now ?”

“Not allowed to speak” he repeated. “Not allowed to tell you the fourth Leviathan's coming up the Fifth.”

Fuck – ”

 

Was that Barton ? Steve yelled on the coms but apparently, no one could hear him. Too confusing, everything happening at the same time, run run run –

 

“Fuck it, Jarv', let's go brush this whale's teeth.”

“Sir, I must disapprove of – ”

The burning mouth engulfed Tony and the Leviathan shook as the tiny armor wrecked its insides –

 

I must warn them, Clint thought, notch aim shoot, but Loki had forbidden him to speak, forbidden him to reveal his identity and what a fucking success that was, really –

 

Natasha straightened and saw STARK in red letters wavering in the distance, blinking and buzzing until it went off completely.

“The Tower – ”

 

Steve rolled on the side and looked around in desperation. He must find a way to go up again but climbing emergency stairs would take too darn long. What was this ? It looked like a Chitauri aircraft half-buried into the ground, something the masked warrior had used to –

 

“Only two Leviathans to go, guys, we're almost – ”

“The TOWER !”Natasha screamed. “Something's draining the ARC reactor !”

 

Clint caught his breath and looked in the distance. It was beginning. Was everyone safe ? Was everyone out of the way ? Hulk – over there. Tony – still tangled in the charred remains of his titanic victim. Natasha – on the rooftop. Steve –

Steve, Steve, where the fuck was Steve ? Oh shit, still two Leviathans left, that couldn't be –

 

SMASH ! NOT GOOD – THE AIR CHANGING – SOMETHING COMING, SOMETHING BIG – KILL IT ALL THEN THINK – THINK FAST – EVERYTHING GOING TOO FAST –

 

Okay, only one Leviathan left, God bless Bruce Banner and where the fucking hell was Steve ?

There – oh Jesus, there – the last whale –

 

Steve turned a corner and thought he had flown right into hell. He tried desperately to bank to avoid the monstrous mouth opening to catch him –

 

Clint didn't think – he jumped over the edge and bumped Steve out of the way, taking his place on the deadman's path. The Leviathan howled and bowed its massive head down ; it came over him like an avalanche and smashed him mid-fall to send him flying through the nearest building.

He had never quite felt concrete cracking under his body before. He thought his limbs were being torn apart. The shock rattled through his bones like a blastwave and ejected the soul out of his body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barton.

 

Something was flaring cold in his stomach. Cold, cold, cold.

Not yet, Barton.

His heart sputtered and coughed. His entire body ached so bad he must be dead.

I said no.

So cold. An ice star inside him. A needle stabbing through him and pinning him down to life. There was energy rushing through his veins in a fast-flowing torrent, chasing the pain and the terrible numbness of his limbs. The apple.The life-stealing spell. And Loki's will. The voice of his master.

Show me.

His heart began to beat again – every beat a world of pain. He squirmed a little. Remembered the hot water rippling around them, his arms wrapped around Loki's shoulders, Loki's teeth closing around the tender skin between his shoulder and neck as he plunged into him.

He heard only the whisper coming from the depths of him.

 

Show me.

 

He took a deep breath and pushed on his arms.

 

“I'm here” he panted. “Sorry, sir.”

“We have no time for this” Loki said, but his voice was gentle. “Have you set the trap ?”

His voice was the ghost in Clint's shell. He held onto it and found the strength to get on his feet.

“Barton.”

“Yessir” he breathed, leaning against the wall. “Yes, I did. Are you coming in ?”

“Rather getting out” the demi-god whispered.

“I'll meet you up there."

“No” Loki simply ordered.

The communication ended.

 

Clint looked out the window. His sharp eyes caught sight of a purple silhouette on the top of Star Tower. Then of a much slender form, in green and black.

Then the arrows Clint had stuck all around the building activated – and the Bifrost opened to swallow the entire three top floors into the stars.

He fell on his knees, pain sawing through his bones. Loki was gone in a flash. He doubted anyone had caught sight of him or Thanos. To anyone here it was just another Chitauri attack. But he knew the truth. He knew the plan.

He imagined the head of the building crashing on the rainbow bridge, chunks of concrete falling into the endless chasm, Stark's name flickering red as nothingness swallowed its glow.

The plan was simple. Thanos was sending the Leviathans to distract people from the Tower, so Loki would not worry about the Leviathans. Thanos was interested in the Tower only, so Loki would set a trap in the Tower itself. Thanos wanted to avoid Asgard, so Loki would lead him there.

Thanos was coming from the abyss – so Loki would send him right back down.

 

Or die trying.

 

There was still one Leviathan left. Clint's orders were to take them down and not worry about the rest. Under no circumstances was he allowed to follow Loki for the last fight. He imagined the demi-god facing his former master on the bridge. He pictured Thanos striking him down, breaking his bones, laughing all the way. He could almost hear him. You thought you had a chance ?

But Loki must think he had a chance, right ? He wouldn't have abandoned Clint there otherwise. He would have taken his slave to die with him – Loki wasn't the type to leave people behind for their own good.

 

Right ?

 

The archer stared at Tony's decapitated tower, then up at the skies.

“Sir ?” he murmured.

No answer.

“Loki ?” he said, throat tight.

But the racket of voices in his earpiece could not hide the fact that the demi-god was not answering.

And to Clint it sounded like the deadliest of silences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuck it. He had already disobeyed a thousand orders today.

The archer took off his helmet ; but before he could even move, a crash startled him. Spinning on his feet, he saw Steve coming through the already broken windows on the aircraft Clint thought had shattered on the ground.

“Clint” the super-soldier breathed, half-falling out of the jetski. “Jesus Christ, it's really you !”

The archer was dumbstruck. Natasha was one thing – but to see Steve, to hear him calling him by his name as though Clint had never been ripped off from his normal life was tremendously weird.

“My coms are dead” the super-soldier said, running towards him. “I couldn't ask – are you alright ? What's happening ?”

Clint snapped out of it and shook his head. “Not allowed to speak, Cap.”

Steve looked at him for a second, then his eyes narrowed. “What if that's an order ?”

Despite everything, the archer gave a small smile. Steve was not nearly as slow on the uptake as people would like him to be. His unique situation had actually made him even more flexible to brutal changes.

“You're not my master” he still said. “Sorry.”

Steve clenched his fists. Clint knew he was wondering whether he ought to strike him down, and it was so strange to know that the odds were in his favor now. He was stronger than Steve. Stronger than any of them, except maybe Bruce.

But he wasn't here to fight. Not against them, anyway.

“Thanks for bringing back my ride” he said.

He threw his com piece at him. “Here, mine still works.”

“Clint – ” Steve said, sounding as lost as the last time the archer had seen him, when Loki had brought him down in front of everyone.

“Sorry” he muttered again. “Gotta go.”

He stopped, winced. “I can tell you this. After you take down that last space lobster, you win.”

“What about you ?” the super-soldier said.

Clint looked at him with mild surprise. Steve was very pale. “Do you win ?” he breathed.

Clint gave a crooked grin. “I think I lost already.”

But if I hurry, I can still lose as a proper slave should.

He was careful not to say this out loud though. He let his helmet fall on the floor. “Take good care of them, Cap.”

“No” Steve groaned. “I'm not letting you – ”

He gripped Clint's shoulder and the archer didn't think – a swift move and suddenly Steve was on his back and struggling to fill his lungs with air.

So much for not fighting.

“Sorry” Clint repeated.

He climbed on the jetski and kicked the floor so hard that he ejected his ride out of the broken window and dove on freefall in the street. He dashed for the glass door of a mall and suddenly thought that this might simply not work – because Loki had died and his house with him.

Have a little faith.

He closed his eyes and smashed through the door –

a rain of shattered glass, like scintillating snow covering the library, sparkling white on the ancient books –

door of the Bifrost Gate which was too small for the aircraft, and the archer just forced his way through in a scream of golden metal and a rain of silver shards. He landed brutally on the simmering bridge and scraped it brutally as he came to a halt.

 

It looked like the end of the world.

The biggest chunks of ruins were still hanging unsteady on the Bifrost, under the night skies which looked even greater and colder than before. Heimdall had collapsed not far from the gate, a hand dangling in the abyss. Blood was oozing from his ear, but Clint could not stop and check for a pulse.

Thanos was standing on the edge of the bridge.

Clint hadn't had the chance to take a good look before – he was hideous, about as big as the Hulk, his skin a dark purple.

Loki looked almost small in his hand.

His armor was torn in long shreds of leather. He looked like a dislocated puppet, limbs dangling, head tilted back. Thanos was letting him hover above the abyss, with a feral grin on his face.

And it was a billion times worse than seeing Loki kneel under Tony's blasts. Because at least that last time, he had chosen to surrender. But now he had fought and lost, and Clint's only pillar was broken. Loki was defeated, and Clint was left with nothing to hold him upright

Then the demi-god squirmed a little in Thanos' hand – and smiled.

Clint's stomach did a somersault.

 

Have a little faith.

 

He had it wrong. He had it completely wrong. Loki Laufeyson might not always win, but he always lost on purpose.

And this time was no different.

Heimdall was dying. Loki was dying. Thanos was at Asgard's gates with no one left to stop him. And what was going to happen now was so obvious. Yet Thanos wasn't seeing it. The bastard was so delighted in slowly crushing Loki, so convinced he had won – because he had, he had, Loki was dying – that he didn't even realize the eternal night was clouding over, rumbling, menacing clouds, lit up in unearthly blue and white from the inside, like auroras of doom.

What fell from the sky was not a blast of lightning.

Clint could feel Thor's signature, but the demi-god was not alone in this – it was even rawer and even more powerful, unbridled crude wrath, like a rain of fire. Clint recognized it. He had tasted it once, ages ago, as it threatened to crush him for his insolence.

Odin All-Father was supposed to be neutral.

But this was his home. And Loki had gotten Thanos to forget it for just a single second. Loki had gotten Thanos to wander at the core of Odin's realm – Loki had brought chaos and mayhem with him, as he always did, so beautifully.

The blast struck them both, reducing them to trembling black silhouettes in a flood of white light. The cataract of power flowed down for two seconds or so, spilling over the rainbow bridge like it was actually liquid.

Then it stopped. Thanos slowly fell on his knees, then forward. Head first into nothingness.

Loki grinned one last time ; the monstrous fingers opened and he could have caught the edge of the bridge then, could have saved himself.

But for the second time, he didn't. And for the second time he fell into oblivion.

Clint didn't think – didn't even check if his aircraft was still working – he just kicked himself over the edge. Luckily, as he threw himself down after Loki, he was not falling but indeed flying, flying down in a spiral and leaving the beautiful colors of the bridge behind. Thanos was falling faster than the both of them ; he was already but a purple stain against the darkness. Loki's golds and greens made him easier to see, just like the drops of his blood falling in little wobbly spheres after him.

Clint pushed the engines. Everything seemed to move in slow motion down here, yet if he had turned to look over his shoulder, he would have seen how far the Bifrost already was. Nothing more than a rainbow line drawn in nothingness. But he wasn't looking over his shoulder. He was only staring at Loki as he sank down the deep obscurity. It was so cold here. So cold and lonely and dark. Nobody deserved this. Not even Thanos deserved this, but Clint wasn't here for him.

Loki had fallen once already and no one had caught him.

Clint extended his hand. It felt like a dream. He was Clint Francis Barton, an orphan with a bow and arrow, grew up in a fucking circus, killed bad guys for a living. Not worth much. He was a weapon, nothing more, had been all his life. A regular human with regular problems.

Now he was dashing through the stars of another world, at the pursuit of Loki Laufeyson, who had just saved the entire Universe without anyone taking the time to notice it. Not even Loki himself. He had done what any hero would have done, and now he was letting himself fall as though it hadn't even occurred to him that someone might reach out to help him.

Clint opened his fingers and brushed Loki's cold, white hand. The blue eyes fluttered open.

They were still falling slowly, slowly down ; there was no light except for the distant twinkling of the silver stars. Their fingertips were barely touching. So close and yet so far. It was nothing like trying to catch Natasha ; the archer felt like the darkness was material, gooey, slowing down his every move. Loki looked at Clint with distant, hazy eyes, as though he couldn't understand what he was seeing.

The archer wanted to scream at him to react, to make some noise so Loki would understand that this was really happening, that someone had come to save him at long fucking last, but the darkness was smothering all sounds.

The archer pushed the engines at their max, soundless like everything else, and let go of the commands to grab Loki's wrist. They must be falling at several hundred miles per hour now, but he couldn't feel it ; the air wasn't whistling by his ears, no tears were being drawn from his eyes by the wind, almost as though there was no atmosphere at all to breathe. Not that he would have noticed his own asphyxiation. He only felt Loki's narrow wrist in his hand and he was never, ever letting go.

For a wild second, he thought the demi-god would try to break free. Because death was nothing to him. He was the darkness and the cold, and sentiment made him cringe in fear. Clint was the hope and the warmth, and death made him recoil in terror. And it was a mute fight between them as they looked at each other, falling vertically into the abyss.

Then Loki closed his eyes and tried to pull himself up. He was very weak, but Clint could be strong for them both and dragged him up, inch by inch – or maybe he was dragging himself down, but it didn't matter. What mattered was that their bodies were getting closer, closer, until finally Loki was pulled inside the aircraft. Clint wrapped an arm around him ; Loki let his head fall against his chest. The archer held him as tight as he could and straightened his small spaceship with one hand, looking for the hair-thin line of the Bifrost above them.

Just as he realized he would never find it, the engines sputtered and abruptly died.

 

They hovered for a split second ; then the darkness swallowed them both without a sound, like a rock sinking down black waters.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

No, Clint screamed silently.

He looked down at Loki ; the blue eyes were glassy and unmoving and for a second, Clint thought he was dead. The visceral terror that seized him surpassed even his unspeakable fear of the abyss. He took Loki's face between his hands, slid a thumb down on his pulse point. The demi-god was alive, but unresponsive. He was in deep shock. From the fight against Thanos, from falling again into nothingness or both, Clint couldn't know.

He tried to murmur a reassurance but he was still voiceless. Loki closed his eyes very slowly and shook his head minutely. There is nothing to be done.

No. They were alive. There must be something to be done, the archer thought desperately. But what could you do, when you were alone with the great, empty Universe ?

The Universe. Loki had said something about that once. Magic, Barton, is when the Universe listens to you.

Well nobody was listening now, that was for sure.

Except they ought to. Fuck, Loki Laufeyson had just tricked the king of the Nine Realms into defeating the most powerful being of the Universe, and saved that same Universe in the process. Was that not bound to draw some kind of attention ? Did nobody out there believe that Loki ought to be rewarded ?

You don't reward a hammer for hitting a nail.

Bullshit, Clint thought furiously. That worked for him, not for Loki. Except there was a point there – the Universe had no intention. How could it ? It was a tool, a mass of inertia that either let itself be molded, or imposed an already existing shape. The Universe was the hammer and Clint had to hit the nail.

But I'm just human.

He had used Loki's house though, hadn't he ? And the demi-god had told him something like this once. Magic is about exterior sources. All it took was will. And Clint had that in spades. Like when he had challenged Odin to lift Mjölnir – he was burning with indignation on Loki's behalf. Fuck anyone who would let Loki fall to his death twice. Fuck anyone who didn't see that Loki was worthy of being served. Of being trusted. Of being saved and honored and loved.

In this instant, Clint's state as a slave was incredibly empowering. He was acutely aware that he was entirely devoted to his master without any regard to his own life ; and that it was as it should be. It was as he was meant to be. He was a vessel for something greater than him, for a faith that would have meant nothing if he hadn't been able to direct it at Loki. He felt it running through him like a beam of light, incredibly more powerful than what he could have wielded for himself. He was in complete harmony with it all, and since everything was falling into place, he just had to set the cogs in motion.

He decided the aircraft was flying again, and the engines came back to life, hauling him and Loki back up.

Holy fuck, it's working. He held Loki tight and clenched his jaw, and ordered the Universe to hoist them higher, to get those fucking engines running and pull the aircraft away from the great darkness. The thrill of his own power and the despairing terror of the fall were struggling inside him, trying to tear him apart. For a very long time, he couldn't even figure out whether they were actually moving. There was nothing but obscurity and distant silver stars only moving minutely as eras passed by. Clint kept wishing, with all his will. He felt like days were going by. He felt Loki growing colder and colder against him. But he did not lose faith. He never let go, not of the man he was trying to save, not of his own conviction that he could save him. None of this was for himself. Every drop of eternity, every flare of his energy, they were all sacrifices to the God of Lies he held in his arms.

And after what felt like an eternity indeed, something appeared in the distance – a thin line in bright colors, like a crack in the darkness.

The Bifrost ! Clint exclaimed with all the force of his hope, but he still had no fucking voice. Looking down, he saw Loki's eyes were open again. The demi-god was huddled against him, pressing his face in his chest like a little boy, his gaze empty and vague. Clint tightened his one-armed hug and kept telling the Universe they were going up, and the Universe kept listening, like a placid beast of impossible proportions.

As they came closer, the bright light of the bridge descended on them and shone like a friendly warmth on their freezing bodies, painting them in a thousand moving colors. Loki actually blinked, then looked up slowly. He stared at the Bifrost like he had stared at Clint – as though he could not understand what was happening.

“Almost there” the archer panted, and startled at the sound of his own voice. “Come on !”

The aircraft bounced up like a nervous horse and Clint – amazingly – gripped the edge of the Bifrost.

"Yes !" he yelled.

The aircraft instantly lost all power and slipped from between his thighs, but it didn't matter - Clint was strong enough to hold on for the demi-god and him both. Holding Loki close, he lifted them on the simmering glass and suddenly they were rolling over the edge and lying on their backs, breathing heavily under the stars, the forgotten aircraft swallowed again down the abyss and rapidly fading into nothingness.

“We made it” Clint said, utterly amazed. “We made it.”

He sat up like a drunk man and grabbed Loki's shoulders. “Hey” he said. “Are you alright ?”

The demi-god hoisted himself heavily and raised those same hazy eyes on him – only then did Clint realize his own clothes felt damp, heavy and clinging to his skin. He looked down at himself and froze.

He was drenched in blood.

He opened his left hand, the hand which had wrapped around Loki's waist, and saw bright sticky red covering his skin. He looked up in horror, just in time to see the demi-god's eyes closing again.

Loki slowly leaned forward against Clint's chest, like he was falling asleep. His clothes were so saturated with blood that it was oozing right out of them, as though the very garments were bleeding.

“No” Clint choked.

He twisted his hand under Loki's tunic, felt the gaping hole in his stomach and pressed his hand against it, no matter how futile. He held the demi-god against him, tight, and screwed his eyes shut.

The demi-god had been too proud for it, but there was no pride left in Clint. Only his desperate devotion for the man dying against him. So he did what Loki had never done.

He called for help.

“Please !” he shouted at the skies. “Please, help us ! Help him ! Don't let him die here – not like this ! Not after what he's done ! Please, I'm begging you, I'm ready to do anything, but just – save him !”

There was a soft flutter of cloth behind him. He turned, blinking to chase his tears – when had he started crying ? – and saw a grand, magnificent silhouette wrapped in a crimson cape. He thought he was dreaming for a second ; it was too much, the colors too bright.

“Thor ?” he breathed, and didn't recognize his own voice.

“I apologize” the thunderer said.

He smiled sadly. “For being so slow.”

“Can you help him ?” Clint stammered. “Can you save him ?”

"Let go of him, my friend."

“No.”

“Our mother can help. Let him go.”

Thor bent down and grabbed Clint's wrists, carefully prying them apart from Loki's body. “You must let him go.”

“No” Clint slurred again, “no – no, I can't – I have to – ”

But darkness was invading him, the same darkness he had kept at arm's length during their slow ascent. He had not realized how drained he was. Loki's blood was cooling on his skin, evaporating what little heat he still had in his body and it dragged him further down, wove a cocoon of numbness around him, and it was cold, black, and he thought he was falling again.

 

*

 

“Loki ?” he murmured.

He opened his eyes on a very high ceiling. Looking around him, he realized he was lying down on some sort of futon on the floor. The room was Asgardian, he could tell as much – the furniture in Loki's house had been similar, if colder in aspect.

He propped himself up on his elbows, then staggered to his feet. He had to find him. He was dressed with some kind of beige tunic, that once again resembled the clothes Loki had given him – except it was warmer, softer, duller too.

“My friend” someone said.

He spun on his feet. Thor was sitting there, having apparently slept next to him for an undetermined amount of time. These must be his chambers ; there was a big, crimson bed in a corner and Clint wondered for a second why neither of them had used it, then dismissed the question.

“Hey” he said in a hoarse voice. “Where's Loki ?”

“In the healing rooms” Thor said, getting on his feet to come closer. “Our mother is taking care of him. She worked all night, but I am confident he will live.”

“I have to see him.”

“She cannot be disturbed.”

“I have to see him now.”

“I've just told you – ”

Fuck you, I'm not leaving him to – ”

The blow was so sudden and so violent that Clint was almost too surprised for it to hurt. He stumbled back and Thor caught his arm to keep him from falling, even though he was the one who had just roughly smacked him behind the head.

“Watch your tongue in a prince's presence” he said. “Your training must have been terrible.”

Clint just blinked stupidly at him. Thor's grim expression fell into something more embarrassed. The archer understood now why he hadn't been sleeping in a proper bed – or why he was wearing such plain clothes. That Thor should treat him as a true Asgardian slave was oddly... warming. And it was the best proof that Loki was indeed still alive.

He let out a little laugh and realized then he was still wrung out. “He'll be alright ?” he murmured, trying not to sway on his feet. “Thor, he'll really be alright ?”

“Yes” Thor murmured. “I swear on my life. Sit back, Clint Barton, you are exhausted.”

Clint gladly obeyed that order and sat cross-legged on the thin mattress. He raised an eyebrow when Thor sat down with him, but made no comment.

“I apologize” Thor murmured.

“What, for the slap ? I've had much worse, you know.”

Clint almost laughed at his own understatement, but he restrained himself – partly because he would sound hysterical, but mostly because of the look on Thor's face as he shook his head in a slow, painful movement.

“I apologize” he repeated, “for letting Loki trick me once again as to his actual goal. Thanos is well-known among the Nine Realms ; he is not spoken of, though. I had no idea Loki had been his thrall, nor did I know he was fighting back all that time. Father led me to believe your appearance on the Bifrost was yet another scheme. But when Loki fell again...”

He sighed. “As always, I was too slow to see the light.”

“Why didn't you come ?” Clint mumbled. “Why didn't you come after us ?”

Thor hunched more on himself. “I – ” he scowled. “We were so certain nothing could defeat the void. And I cannot thank you enough.” He swallowed thickly. “It was not your place to repair my mistakes, yet you did. You accomplished what no one thought was possible – you escaped the abyss.”

“That's nothing” Clint said, suddenly angry again.

Now he was the one stealing Loki's turn in the spotlight ? No way in hell.

“All I did was my fucking job. Loki defeated Thanos. He sacrificed himself for the sake of the world.”

“I know” Thor said, still looking down. “It shall no go forgotten, Barton, be sure of it. The Hawk and his Falconer are celebrated throughout the Realms already, and will be for eons to come.”

Clint had heard only one word. “His what ?”

Thor looked up and smiled, radiating with sincere warmth. “My brother's newly given nickname. I find it rather more pleasant than Liesmith.”

The archer was speechless for a second.

“How – ” he said. “How do people already know I'm his ?And – how did you know we were back from the chasm in the first place ?”

“Heimdall, of course.”

The golden, broken silhouette flashed through the archer's mind. “But he was...”

“In one month, he had time to recover” Thor said.

Clint gaped. “A month ?”

“The sense of time is warped under the Bifrost” the thunderer said. “To escape the chasm is impossible, Barton. No one has the will.”

He smiled proudly. “Yet you did. Never again will an Asgardian look down on humans after such a feat.”

The archer gave a small smile back.

“Now get some rest” Thor said.

“I'm good.”

“It is an order, Barton.”

Clint crooked a weak grin. “Well I am not your slave, am I ?”

Thor looked immensely embarrassed. “Actually...” he said. “Your master is too injured to take charge, which means I, his brother, hold responsibility over you – or the All-Father does, if you should wish it so.”

The archer froze. “Uh, no” he said. “No thanks.”

“Of course, we do not have to do this” Thor said softly. “You are a friend and a brother-in-arms above all. I still consider you my equal and always will.”

Clint nodded. “Thanks, buddy. But... for now, I don't know what Loki wants, so let's do this by the book – I can't dishonor him.”

Thor stared at him. “He did train you” he said slowly.

The thought seemed to both fascinate and scare him. Clint wondered whether he knew about the tradition of the Mad Hours.

Probably.

The archer knew Thor was trying to understand how a grown adult could be turned into a submissive thrall in only a few months. He knew the thunderer feared his faithfulness had been beaten into him through relentless torture and thorough brainwashing. And it was one way of seeing things.

Not Clint's, though.

“Please” he said. “Will you bring me to him ?”

“Do not beg” Thor groaned.

The archer huffed a hoarse laugh. “What should I do then ? I don't think I've been taught regular slave behavior.”

Thor snorted slightly. “Stay silent. Fall three steps behind me. Do everything I say without question.”

“Oh” Clint said. “So that's the basics. Sounds pretty boring, actually.”

The thunderer smiled at him. Then the glow of his features slowly died like a smothered candle.

“Your teammates think you dead” he said, quietly.

The archer paled.

Thor sought his eyes. “I had to tell them, my friend. After you fell in the abyss... well, I knew it had not killed Loki that first time, but I was not cruel enough to let them hope.”

Clint swallowed.

“I can reach them now” the thunderer murmured. “I can tell them the news.”

“Don't” the archer breathed, feeling nauseous.

Thor blinked at him, then frowned.

Clint shook his head in defeat. “Maybe it's better this way.”

“My friend – ”

“No, Thor. Just... you tell them I'm alive and then what ? They'll want to see me. They'll ask thousands of questions, they'll worry sick, they'll torment themselves with how they failed me and I can't have that. I can't let them have that.”

He rubbed the back of his neck, feeling suddenly heavy with a sour sadness he knew he would taste for months and even years. “I'd rather have them at peace for good. Let them off the roller-coaster.”

“You mean to keep them away from the truth ? To let them mourn in vain ?” the thunderer said in a low rumble.

Of course he would react like this, after Loki had died on him twice. “To lie and cause only pain, to protect them like small children – that is not your decision to make.”

“No, it's not” Clint admitted. “Nothing is my decision to make.”

He looked up and crossed his gaze. “It's all Loki's.”

And for all his power over him at this moment – or precisely because of it, because Clint was a slave – Thor could find nothing to answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Thor grabbed Clint's shoulder and gently shook him awake.

“Barton” he murmured. “The All-Mother is done.”

The archer sat instantly and it took him a second to remind himself he was kind of Thor's slave at the moment.

“Permission to go” he breathed.

“Of course you – ”

Clint was out before Thor could finish his sentence. He heard him yell in the corridor, “You do not even know which room he is in !”

Except he did. The shard of winter was pulsing in his stomach, telling him where to go. This was a link on which only Loki had pulled until now, but Clint had learned a thing or two in the abyss. He didn't pay attention to the great halls in red and gold and silver. He only wanted the blue peace of his inner space – of Loki. There was no difference between the two. Loki was what brought his true essence out. Until him, Clint had only been a stranger to himself.

And when he pushed open the door of the healing chambers, he knew the same could be told about Loki Laufeyson.

The demi-god was not as pale as he should have been. He seemed almost at peace in his crimson bed, like a child sleeping in his parents' room after a nightmare. It occurred to Clint that maybe he wasn't the only one to feel the loneliness that emanated from his house. Loki was home here, in that moment where his family had finally gotten around taking care of him. He had longed for it desperately, although he could never admit it to himself.

Clint got near the bed and very carefully drew the covers down. Loki's torso was naked under the sheets ; there were no bandages on his stomach, but only a deep, pink scar that would not heal. The archer put the covers back and let himself fall at the foot of the bed with a deep sigh.

He waited there, for maybe several hours. The distress welling in his tightening chest was soothed by Loki's nearness and his regular breaths in the silence of the richly decorated room.

He was falling asleep again when a soft voice jolted him awake.

“Clint ?”

He jumped on his feet. “I'm here, sir.”

Loki slowly turned his head on the side to stare at him. His eyes had never seemed so blue or so wide. He looked at Clint and the archer thought he would be pulled down for a kiss, or pushed on his knees for Loki's hand to trail in his hair.

Instead, Loki's eyes closed with a slight wince, and this slight move was like a bucket of ice water to Clint.

“Where are we ?” the demi-god mumbled.

“In the palace. Your mother treated you.”

“She is not my mother.”

“Yes, she is,” Clint said softly.

Loki's eyelids pressed even more tightly shut, but he said nothing. Clint wanted to lace their hands together. To hold him. But he didn't dare. Even after everything they had been through, he could not do this single thing, not with the wall of ice Loki had just built between them.

“So I failed,” the demi-god murmured.

Clint blinked. “What ?”

“Thanos did not die,” Loki said, his lips barely moving. “He will be back sooner or later. Odin did not strike hard enough.”

His face briefly crunched in a scowl. “This old fool cannot be trusted even in what he does best.”

“I think Thor held him back,” the archer said, throat dry. “I think he did everything he could to spare you.”

“I should have expected it from this oaf !” Loki scowled. “Could he not see I was dying anyway ?”

“So that was the plan ?” Clint said very coldly.

Loki reopened his eyes and looked at him.

“You told me we might die in this fight,” the archer said in a calm voice. “But dying was actually the plan.”

The demi-god's eyes narrowed slightly. “Are you questioning me, Barton ?”

He sat up with an effort and began speaking a little more irritatedly. “Did you have maybe a brilliant idea that would allow us to defeat a Titan while preserving our own lives ? Did you think maybe you knew him better than I did ?”

“You left me behind” Clint spat.

Loki was taken short. “...What ?”

“You left me behind to live while you ran to your glorious death,” he went on, his voice sharper and sharper. “Am I some fucking lame sidekick ? Am I a whimpering princess you ditch when things get too serious ?”

The demi-god just stared at him, dumbstruck.

“Even if dying's the fucking plan,” Clint said, almost yelling now, “will you be so kind to make me a goddamn part of it ? Don't you know how it feels when you're set aside by the ones you – ”

He cut himself short and gripped his own hair, then turned around briskly, taking deep breaths. There was a long silence.

Clint knew they were both reliving the long fall in the abyss. He had been holding Loki then. It would almost been worth it, to go back there, if only to find that amount of trust again. Only a minute ago he felt only fondness and the proximity of peace, but now it was all gone.

“Do you have a death wish ?” the demi-god murmured.

The archer felt his anger spike up again.

“Fuck, you asked me that before.”

“And I am asking you again. Do you have a death wish ?”

“No.” Clint breathed through his nose. “Do you ?”

A faint smile ghosted over Loki's lips. He lay back down with a sigh.

“I will not be fully healed before a week” he told the ceiling. “I want you to use that time.”

“Doing what ?” Clint said, puzzled at this turn of the conversation.

Loki told him.

There was a deadly silence. The archer could not believe what he had just heard, but Loki obviously wasn't joking.

“Are you testing me ?” the archer eventually managed to utter.

He clenched his fists. “After everything we've been through ?”

“No. I am giving you an order and you will not question me.”

Clint pressed his lips in a tight line. Then he just decided, to hell with it.

He leaned down and kissed Loki on the lips.

The demi-god opened startled eyes and did not respond ; it was more about making a point than kissing anyway. It was clumsy and awkward and cold and everything Clint hated in a kiss. He felt Loki's muscles clench and wondered if the demi-god was fighting an urge to pounce on him, or to push him back.

He pulled back eventually, throat tight without quite knowing why. He wanted to add something, but his mind was blank with anger and longing and frustration, so he just walked out the room before any of them could say something.

 

*

 

“Tony.”

The billionaire didn't look up.

“Hey” Bruce said, closing the door of the lab behind him. “I've made onion soup.”

Tony wanted to ignore him, but the traitorous smell made his stomach gurgle and moan. Suddenly, nothing seemed more desirable than the big mug the doctor was holding.

“Not fair” he mumbled.

Bruce knew him a bit too well.

“Come on” his lab partner said softly. “You've been in there all week.”

“And you just brought me fuel for another week, thanks. Just put it there.”

“I'm not moving. You'll have to come and get it.”

Tony reached out mechanically, but Bruce took a step back, leaving the mug just out of his reach. The billionaire looked up, frowning. “Are you seriously luring me out with onion soup ?”

“I don't know, is it working ?”

The billionaire smiled, but somehow his mouth did not follow his intent and failed about half-way in the process. His stomach grumbled again.

Somehow, this was about Barton. Everything had been about Barton ever since Thor's image had flickered in the living room to inform them that the archer and the trickster had fallen to their deaths, in what Tony could only picture as a black hole. A darkness that swallows even light.

They were the Avengers, woven together by the pretended death of a loved one, so of course the real death of Clint would not be their undoing. But Natasha, which had slowly started opening to them after Manhattan, was now closed and cold and business-like at all times. Steve and Bruce... they knew how to cope. Like losing someone was fucking nothing. Bastards who made him feel ashamed for hiding in his lab all day.

“Come on” the doctor repeated. “Coulson's here. He brought the Princess Bride.”

Tony sniggered. “What do you mean, brought ? Like an actual DVD ? Are we still in the Middle Ages ?”

“Tony.”

The billionaire shook his head. He had honestly no idea why he was taking this so hard – maybe because he had struggled to help Barton from the beginning and only managed to make it worse every time. Or maybe he was just weak.

“You're not” Bruce said quietly.

He knew him far too well.

“Tony” the doctor went on. “You're always allowed to hurt. It's just – ”

“Stop right there,” Tony snapped. “Or so help me, I'll shoot you in the head.”

Bruce just smiled sadly. “So are you coming ?”

He sighed. “Yeah. Whatever.”

 

*

 

Five minutes later, they were all curled in front of the giant TV, but it felt wrong somehow. Ever since Manhattan's second coming or whatever shit name people called it, there had been this tension between them that kept them rolling though battles but never stopped even during the peaceful times. Natasha was looking straight in front of her as though she was on a perpetual mission. Steve had lost even more of what little innocence he had managed to salvage from his coma. And Bruce, well... Bruce just made himself even smaller. Until he changed – and then the Hulk was nothing but a howling machine of destruction and there was no reasoning with him, not anymore.

Coulson though. Coulson still looked the same. With that damn little smile. He was too good at this, even better than Natasha. Because Natasha was a hard wall of ice ; she had cracked and she had to stay still to let the breach repair itself. Phil Coulson was flexible. He had absorbed Barton's death and his features had regained their usual composure all the same.

“Mr. Stark” he said. “Nice of you to join us.”

“Agent” Tony growled. “Seriously ? The Princess Bride ?”

Phil smiled and the billionaire hated him for one burning second, because really, this was all his fucking fault –

Guys, Clint said in his mind, kneeling at Loki's feet like a slave. I'm sorry. I want this. I'm sorry.

He had apologized so many goddamn times. In the voice mail too, that was literally all he had done, apologizing, apologizing. Why couldn't they forgive him ? Why couldn't they tell him there was nothing to forgive ? They had just been freaked out by the razor-sharp beak of his silver helmet, and by his fluid gait and his impossible leaps, and by the evidence that Loki had changed him somehow and it might not be the same Clint they had known.

But how the fuck could they find out for sure now ? He was dead. There were no more questions to ask.

Tony sighed and plonked himself on the couch, then patted the cushion in an irritated gesture. Since Coulson had brought the DVD, let's watch the motherfucking DVD without a word and in awkward stiffness and then go to bed wishing for aliens to attack just so the buzzing tension could be put to good use. Party hard.

“No thanks” Coulson said quietly. “I'll sit on the chair.”

“Does this mean there's still room for me ?”

Tony opened his mouth to bark of course, now get your ass over here and let's get done with it, Bruce.

Except it wasn't Bruce.

It wasn't Steve.

And it certainly wasn't Natasha either.

Tony froze, not daring to breathe, not daring to think and ask himself wait –

“Sir ?” Jarvis said, unsure. “...Security breach.”

They all turned to look at the elevator.

 

There was a moment of complete stillness while Tony only heard the beating of his heart against the reactor.

 

Clint Barton was standing in the white light, looking like he had been through nine shades of hell, with only fear and worry in his grey eyes as he watched them anxiously. When he spoke though, it was in his normal, sullen, slightly disabused self, and the discrepancy between how casual he sounded and how broken he looked was what really convinced Tony that it was him.

“I don't think I've ever seen the Princess Bride.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Coulson was the only one who wasn't gaping at him like he was a fucking ghost. He looked simply deeply happy to see him, in a quiet, appeasing way. Like he had always believed Clint would show up again, but could not help tormenting himself with anguish all the same, until this second. He had this little smile and these crinkles around his eyes, and it was so warm and so fond that the archer almost cried. He swallowed and blinked and swallowed again.

“No,” Steve said.

His baby blue eyes were impossibly wide. “Thor told us you were dead.”

Clint took a deep breath and looked at the floor, because he simply couldn't face them any longer. “I was,” he mumbled. “Sort of. It was dark and cold and lonely and time had no meaning, so I guess death's as good a name as any.”

“You fell into a black hole,” Tony mumbled.

He sounded like he was about to faint. Or explode. Or both.

“It's easier to get out of these things when you've got someone to pull out,” Clint said with a small, apologetic smile.

“Loki,” Bruce instantly caught up. “He's alive too ?”

“Yeah,” the archer mumbled. “He, uh, sent me here, actually.”

He swallowed. “I didn't want to. I wanted to let you think I was dead. Thought it might be easier for everyone.”

“Easier how ?” Natasha said in an impressive whisper.

Clint's breath was physically taken away. He swallowed, cringed when something clenched inside him. “Nat...”

“EASIER HOW ?” she shouted.

None of them had ever heard her scream before and it was more terrifying than the fucking Hulk. Her voice echoed in the room for what sounded like forever.

The archer screwed his eyes shut. “I... Because of what I did. What I choose. You were so worried. I thought, if I was gone... it'd be over. You wouldn't have to feel like this anymore.”

“And how do you think it worked before ?” Bruce said softly.

Clint shivered slightly, but kept staring at the carpet.

“When you were falling off buildings and shooting arrows at the Hulk ?” the doctor insisted. “You think the Avengers can't handle the stress of worrying for a friend ? Of losing a friend ? You wanted to protect us ?”

The archer swallowed again, but his eyes were burning. God, he had yelled at Loki for leaving him behind but he was no better.

“I'm sorry,” he said. “From the beginning I just... kept fucking you up. Just by being me. I never meant...”

He couldn't finish his sentence.

“Why were you sent back, then ?” Coulson asked calmly, and Clint hanged on to this softness like a lifeline.

“I don't know,” he said, tears rolling down his face now. “Loki... Loki told me to go and that he'd come for me. It's a test, I know it's a test but now that I'm here I don't... I don't know what he...”

He raked a hand through his hair and laughed so it wouldn't sound like a sob. “Can I stay here for a while ?” he asked miserably. “Can I come back home ?”

“Dr. Banner,” Coulson said. “I think the Agent Barton is in urgent need of a mug of onion soup.”

“Of course,” Bruce blurted, bolting on his feet to run in the kitchen.

“Don't just stand there,” Tony said, but he still sounded like he was on automatic snark mode, his voice blank and unfitting. “You came that far and you're gonna stay in the elevator ?”

Clint smiled. “I'm sorry.”

He looked down again – and for a second, he desperately wished for a pale hand to clasp on his shoulder – or better : around his throat – for cold lips whispering cruel words in his ear – for long fingers to wrap around his wrists and secure them together.

Then Bruce was back with a steaming mug that smelled fucking delicious and so very Midgardian and he was urged on the couch and hands squeezed his shoulders and shook his own hand, and it was so warm and so good to see them again that Clint forgot about Loki, for just a second.

 

*

 

Just like the darkness that invades us when a loved one dies, the light that shines bright when a loved one is saved cannot be let through. Despite its blue window, Tony's body was just too opaque, unable to express properly what should be expressed.

He was suffocating. He had not known how to justify his pain even a month after Barton's passing, and he was now equally unable to comprehend his own relief and happiness. So he just drank his soup and burnt the back of his throat and tried to domesticate that overwhelming feeling that filled the whole room and made him shake like his very nerves could not handle another resurrection.

“Fucking SHIELD” he mumbled. “Is that what they teach you at school ?”

Barton managed to grin at him. Bruce's soup really was made of the stuff of miracles. “Don't tell me you haven't pulled that stunt already, Stark.”

“Well yeah, we all did, but I stayed dead for what – five minutes ? Ten ? Not a whole fucking month.”

Tony was trying to look into his eyes, but Clint wouldn't meet his gaze and smiled that sad smile everyone thought was reserved for Bruce.

“What happened ?” Steve asked.

The archer's grin was more like him. “At what point ?”

“The voice mail” Tony said. “Let's start with that part – what were you doing here ?”

“Thor hasn't told you ?” the archer blinked. “Thanos and the Other – ”

“No, we do know about that part” Coulson said. “What were you doing on Earth ?”

“Oh. Well. It wasn't planned, actually. I just ended up here by mistake and... I seized the chance to let you know I was fine.”

Fine ?” Tony groaned. “The barman told me how Loki dragged you out.”

The archer smiled. “He wasn't mad at me about the phone call.”

He looked up at them, his guard suddenly up, as though he had realized that they were in circle around him and leaving him no way out.

“Guys” he said. “Are you still thinking Loki's been forcing me ?”

There was an embarrassed silence.

Of course, Tony was the first to snap. “The bastard kept you locked up for at least two months and we know enough to realize it wasn't a fucking holiday. He isolated you. He changed you – for all we know, he brainwashed you again. He made you into property. He basically pushed you into this goddamn black hole and it doesn't sound like he's the least bit sorry about it – now if you want to tell us exactly how he's a nice guy, be my goddamn guest !”

To everyone's surprise, Clint barked a small, genuine laugh. “A nice guy ?”

He grinned at them, the old spark twinkling in his eye. “He's a wicked, twisted, vicious fucker, not just mischievous, but outright cruel – a sadistic bastard who gets off on inflicting pain and he's completely unashamed of it.”

His grin shrunk. “But he's not a rapist.”

They all stared at him a little wide-eyed.

“Look” Clint said, looking weary now. “I need you to accept the fact that I'm okay with what he did to me.”

“But he changed you” Steve said. “During the battle, it was obvious – you're... different.”

“Funny you should be the one to point that out, Steve.”

Tony gritted his teeth. “We're not talking about Erskine's serum here. He had no right to do this to you.”

“Yes, he had” the archer said sharply. “Because Steve was willing and so was I.”

“Willing ?” Bruce asked in a soft voice. “I thought that word wasn't part of your vocabulary anymore.”

The archer pressed his lips tight, turning his mug in his hands.

“I'm free not to be free” he said eventually.

He looked up, looking very tired again. “That's what I'd like you to understand.”

“We do” Steve interjected. “Maybe we don't grasp it, but we trust you, Clint.”

“Do you though ?” the archer said with a crooked smile. “Last time, it mostly looked like you thought I was batshit crazy.”

“We didn't know.”

“You still don't know” Clint murmured.

He stared in space for a minute, then put his mug down and stood.

Without another word, he grabbed his shirt and took it off, slipping it over his head.

Weirdly enough, it was Clint's body that Tony noticed first. The archer had always been sturdy and fit – drawing a bow took a lot more strength than people imagined. But now his chest was almost as chiseled as Steve's, a lot less bulky but perfectly defined and tense with coiled power.

The scars, though – the billionaire was pretty sure Steve didn't have them.

The round ones caught his eye first. They were studding Clint's pecs mostly ; a lot of them on his trapezius too, and two or three scattered over his abs. When the billionaire realized they were bitemarks, a chill ran up his spine. They were so deep, each of Loki's teeth could be made out even in the dim light. Tony's eyes trailed down Clint's arms ; he saw faint pink and brownish lines across his wrists, like burns. Chafing of ropes.

Tony's own memories supplied the feeling of helplessness, the desperate twisting of the wrists in the restraints that kept digging in, the violent shudders of the body at each pang of pain. Then the archer turned around, and it got worse.

His back was covered in lash marks, some long and thin like solitary roads across his shoulder blades, some gathered in sheaves like a rake had dug into his flesh. They were a brilliant pink on his tan back, but there were a hundred others underneath, thin white lines crisscrossing their way down to the small of his back and even beneath the belt. But Clint had kept his pants on and even if he hadn't, Tony couldn't have looked further down – not with what he was seeing.

No matter how he looked at it, it was a brand mark.

Loki Laufeyson had taken a white-hot iron and pressed it into Clint Barton's flesh and held until his skin melted.

Tony thought he was going to be sick. He felt dizzy and there was a rush in his ears. Then Clint put his shirt back on and the horror vanished.

“This is what I need you to accept” he said softly.

They stared at him for a good minute of thunderstruck silence.

“Clint – ” Steve breathed.

“The brand mark is five months old” the archer said calmly. “That's two months before I even left this place. And I had agreed to it, just like I agreed to everything else. All this time I had to hide it from you. I'm not going to anymore.”

His hands pushed down his pockets. “I'm not on a mission that's gonna stop someday. I'm Loki's.” He paused. “Which means he could kill me and I'd be okay with it.”

He gave a thin smile. “Now tell me it doesn't sound like I'm brainwashed. Or insane. Or both.”

They stayed silent.

“See” he said. “I should have stayed dead. Simpler for everyone.”

He turned away and left the room. Without a word, Coulson stood up and followed him. The rest of them stayed there, dumbstruck, Clint's scars carved into their minds behind their eyes.

 

*

 

“That was brutal,” Coulson said softly as the doors closed on them.

“You don't sound too fazed.”

His handler sighed. “I doesn't meant I understand, Clint.”

The archer raised an eyebrow. “You knew about the brand.”

“I knew you were a sub. This is something else entirely.” He looked pained, the corners of his eyes wrinkled with weariness. “Those scars...” He shook his head. “Has he done anything else than torturing you in three months ?”

Two months,” the archer corrected quietly. “My training lasted two months, Phil. After that, we started living for good. He still... takes me often enough, but” he smiled, “there's a lot more to it.”

Looking up, he saw that Coulson couldn't help looking deeply disturbed by what he had just said.

“Look,” the archer said. “You're thinking outside Sitwell's box and I'm grateful for it. But you just built a bigger box around it. You're trying to squeeze me into the BDSM world where they have rules and safewords and anyone can say stop.”

Coulson looked at him. “Don't you wish you could say stop ?”

Clint smiled. “All this time, all this – ” he gestured at himself underneath his clothes “ – and I never thought about it. Not once, Phil.”

That could have been untrue – he had been terrified the first time he had walked into Loki's room and got told to undress. He had been scared to death during the Mad Hours. And how many times had he begged for mercy under the whip ?

The point was though, he had never wished that Loki would stop being his master. He had never wished for a safeword that could break the illusion and restore him as a free man.

“I've always craved... grounding,” he said. “A place where I was certain to fit. To be wanted.”

“You were wanted at SHIELD,” Coulson murmured. “You were wanted among the Avengers.”

Clint snorted. “You know perfectly well Fury trusted me about as far as he could throw me. Why else would he have kept Sitwell on my back ? And as for the Avengers...”

He sighed. “Phil, I've always had an inferiority complex and you know it. Loki – he wanted me, from day one. I'm not saying I forgave him for the mindfuck. I never will. But when he hurts me, Phil, since that's what worries you, when he tortures me, I can see in his eyes that there is nothing in his mind but me. That I own him just as much as he owns me. Because I'm the only one who can give him what he wants. And that makes him the only one who can give me what I want.”

Coulson looked at him for a long time. “I've never heard you speak so much” he said softly.

The elevator stopped with a small ding.

“Where's Loki now ?” he asked as the doors opened.

“In Asgard,” Clint said. “He sent me here and I couldn't figure out why at first. But now... I think I'm starting to see.”

His floor was right as he had left it – the exposed beams and the purple bedsheets. He stepped out of the elevator with a sigh. God, he was tired.

“Good night, Phil. Thanks for... trying.”

 

*

 

The doors closed on the agent, who looked at the ceiling. “Did you get all that, Jarvis ?”

“Certainly, sir.”

“Will you let the Avengers hear it ? They might be interested.”

“Right away, sir.”

 

*

 

It was half past four when the door of Clint's room opened silently.

Without moving, without breaking his breathing pattern, he awoke and listened intently to the faint brush of bare feet on the floor.

When the sounds stopped, he was ready. He rolled off the bed a split second before a dark silhouette landed on it, absorbed the bouncing and used the momentum to throw itself at him. The gleam of a knife cut through the darkness ; Clint grabbed the wrist – and the hand let go of the weapon, twisted out of his grasp before he could break the bones. The attacker retreated in the shadows like a cat, fluid moves that merged into the dark, then jumped again. This time, Clint wasn't swift enough to catch the blade ; he dodged though, and the other backed off instantly, before attacking again and retreating again, in an endless dance, like a cobra oscillating on its tail. This adversary knew very well that its prey was stronger and it aimed to kill at the first touch. Clint caught his breath, then released it. At the next onslaught, he raised an arm to protect his heart – and the blade dug deeply between the bones, sending an electric discharge up his nerves. He grabbed the hand that held it and tugged violently ; the other stumbled and fell on the carpet. Clint straddled his attacker whom he pinned to the ground with his wounded arm ; his other hand twisted the knife free from his own flesh – and pressed it to Natasha's throat.

She stared at him in silence for a long minute, breathing heavily under the blade. His arm was bleeding profusely but quietly, blood trickling down his wrist in tiny streams.

She scowled and muttered, “Get off me.”

He did so without a word. She wiped his blood off her collarbone. “That was a stupid move.”

“It would have taken all night otherwise. You're still a better dancer than me.”

“But now you're stronger,” she said.

Before Loki, he could have never pinned her to the ground like this. He didn't weigh much more than her, and her muscles were like coiled steel springs. But now the strength of the stars was running through his veins.

And it terrified her.

“What the fuck has he done to you ?”

The were still sitting on the floor. She wasn't really turning her back at him, but their gazes still couldn't meet.

“He enhanced me,” Clint answered honestly.

“How ?”

The archer realized he didn't want to talk about the golden apple. “A sacrifice.”

“He killed someone so you could be his weapon ?”

“Not someone. Something. A bilgesnipe – you know.”

Thor had told them at length about those.

Clint took a silent breath, then looked down. “And I've always been a weapon, Tasha, you know it.”

“You used to be more than that,” she said. “You used to fend for yourself.”

She sounded like he was on the verge of tears. No, that wasn't true – she sounded perfectly calm and composed, but Clint knew. He knew her so well, even now.

“I still do. You tried to kill me just now, you weren't playing. Am I dead ?”

She stayed silent for a long time. “No.”

“So...”

“What kind of idiot gives up control ?” she hissed.

He fell silent.

“Banner would give anything for a little control over his life. Stark and Rogers too, for that matter. And me – you know me. You're the only one who does.”

Her fists clenched. “I fought for control all my life. I fought not to be changed, not anymore, and you – after Manhattan – after you woke up, you were sick. You hated him so much for what he'd done to you. And now... you're asking for it. Who gives up control ? Who gives up freedom ?”

“What's all the fuss about control ?” Clint said. “Have you ever asked yourself that ? Why is freedom a thing ? Why is it so fucking important ?”

He raked his fingers through his short hair. “We value control,” he went on more calmly, “and freedom, and strength, and power, because we can never trust the ones with power. Because to submit is to take the risk of being hurt.”

He shifted uneasily. “Look... I know this is going to sound stupid after today. But I know for a fact that Loki will never hurt me.”

She scoffed loudly and he made an impatient gesture. “No, screw my scars, Nat, see them as a kink if it helps you. I'm talking about what we fear. About the reason we crave control in the first place.”

He took a deep breath. “It's... difficult to talk about it, but I've been in a situation where Loki had no control over himself and absolute control over me.” He saw her tense up and smiled. “Yeah, it was fucking terrifying. But he didn't kill me, Nat. He didn't hurt me – not in the way I don't want to be hurt.”

His wound was really stinging, but he only registered the pain as a distant phenomenon, like it was happening to someone else. He had always felt pain that way – except when Loki was the one giving it. Then it was intense and sharp and nothing short of overwhelming.

“Freedom is just insurance,” he said in a low voice. “Control is just a tool. And submission is a fucking tool too – and it serves the exact same purpose. They're just at opposite ends of the spectrum. Either you have power, either you have enough trust to accept that you don't. And Loki... I found that I could trust him. I've never trusted anyone else before.” He smiled. “Except maybe Coulson, but with him it was incomplete.”

Natasha was listening intensely, but at this point she shook her head, still not looking at him. “You can't trust anyone but yourself with your own life.”

“Maybe you can't,” Clint whispered.

She clenched her jaw.

“You trusted me with your life,” he said, in an even lower voice. “When I told you to close your eyes ? You weren't even sure it was me.”

She said nothing, but even in the way she was turning her back to him, there was a softness now.

“I knew it was you,” she said eventually.

He smiled. “You see then. I didn't change – not really.”

“You weren't like that before.”

She wasn't talking about his enhanced body.

“I was,” he said quietly. “I just didn't know it myself. It opened and it grew and – I took flight, I bloomed or some shit, I don't know. Whatever floats your boat.”

“Bloomed” she repeated.

He saw the corned of her lip quirk up. “That sounds so gay, Barton.”

“Well I'm gay,” he said. “Apparently.”

She sighed, then finally looked at him. Her eyes flicked down at his arm.

“You've stopped bleeding.”

He shrugged. “Enhanced healing.”

“I can't accept it,” she said, and he knew she still wasn't talking about his body, or his preferences for that matter.

“Can you accept that I can ?”

She stared at him.

“I don't know” she said softly. “No. I don't – know.”

She grabbed his arm and he let her trail her fingers along the veins under the skin. Her nails grazed the rope burns on his wrist, then closed around it and held very tight.

“You're alive,” she said, in that voice heavy with tears, like she only realized it now. “You're alive.”

There was no one in the room and no one spying on them. So he held her and she held him, and they stayed like this for the rest of the night, without moving, without sleeping either, just breathing together in the dark room, with a gleaming knife stuck into the wall and another lying next to them on the blood-stained carpet.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Natasha left at dawn, without a word. She slipped from Clint's arms and he did nothing to stop her. He just watched her go.

After maybe an hour of staring into space, he decided that he was sore from sitting on the floor all night, and that he ought to get up, and that if there was one thing he had missed during his training, it was a good shower.

So he dragged himself into the bathroom, shedding his clothes along the way.

The sight of a mirror stopped him.

His face hadn't changed, not really. His features seemed maybe a little more... defined. As though he had been slightly blurry before. Now his eyes were so sharp they could have cracked the mirror itself and made it explode into silver shards.

His body looked like it had grown to the best of its capacities. Muscled but agile enough, and still undoubtedly his. The scars were kind of a shock to him – he had looked at them a lot, caressed them with fingertips like he would have traced roads on a map, but he had always been looking down at his own torso. To face them like this was new. He remembered Tony's shocked, horrified look, and tried to understand that disgust, tried to make it his if only for a second.

He felt only pride and a stirring of lust. To be marked. To have suffered for it ; to have earned it. To have twisted in pain and pleasure, and to bear permanent reminders of it. He stroked a bite mark and closed his eyes, the sharpness of Loki's teeth briefly exploding again in the back of his mind. But just like he couldn't understand his friends' horror, they couldn't understand his well-being. Two separate worlds.

He reopened his eyes. Was this was Loki was trying to tell him ?

Because there was a reason behind this. He was certain of it. But he had the strange feeling that, for once, he might be a step ahead on the demi-god. Why had Loki cast him away ? The first word on his lips, the second he woke up, had been Clint.

Clint ?

Suddenly it clicked.

Loki had only called him that once. Clint. In an endless murmur, as he engraved into his slave's flesh the bitemarks he was caressing now. Clint, Clint, Clint. The archer remembered the trickling blood, and shivered. But he couldn't have that now. An enigma was separating him from Loki and it was his to solve. How had he answered Loki's confession ?

I don't want to love you.

That had not been a rebuff, but a declaration of intent. From the very beginning of their strange, twisted relationship, Clint had tried to cram the madness of it all into a tight scope of reason. Going to Loki because it was convenient. Offering himself because it was unavoidable. Enslaving himself because this was what he was meant for. What would make him happy in the end, if he could achieve the feat of renouncing to his freedom. Yes, there had been simply no place for sentiment in this from the start. Even when he dove in the great void to rescue the demi-god, it was not an act of despair – not a heartbroken lover jumping off a cliff after his lost love, but a servant dead set on saving himself and his master both.

And that was precisely what the demi-god had wanted to find out. Clint ? he had asked. Not Barton. He wanted to know. Why had his slave jumped ? Was it Clint at the foot of his bed, or the Hawk ? Had his slave sacrificed himself mindlessly, or had it been a hero coming to his rescue ? Had Clint acted out of passion, or reason ?

As it turned out, the answer was reason. And that was what Loki hadn't been able to bear. Opening his eyes, he had seen before him a powerful fighter claiming that Loki had failed him as a master. And he had been scared.

There was no other explanation. The demi-god had been adamant Clint was meant to fight ; but perhaps he had never truly believed he would, not until this moment. And maybe... – but that would imply Loki had afterthoughts ; and you needed a heart for that – maybe he had also felt shame. He owed his life to the man he had tortured with unashamed delight for months. Suddenly, Clint Barton was a hero again, and Loki a despicable villain once more.

So he had sent him home. What else was there to do ? Be it out of fear, shame, or a surge of respect, Loki had felt Clint couldn't be his slave anymore and sent him back to his old life, to be a hero again.

“You idiot,” the archer murmured.

He wasn't talking to his reflection though. He wished his eyes could actually pierce the mirror and reveal Loki to be watching. He could reach him, though. The shard of winter was still firmly stuck in his stomach, although its pulse was growing weak and slow, like it would soon be flushed out.

“Hey,” Clint growled, pulling at the link. “I know you're listening. And guess what – I wasn't done yelling at you after all. Yes, I jumped to save you. Sorry I'm not the suicidal pet you always dreamed of.”

He felt the connection fading and held with all the strength of his mind. “Still not done,”he hissed. “But hey – doesn't it surprise you that I can do this ? Work a – a fucking magical link like I was always trained for it ?”

He put a hand on his stomach. “You think I got this knowledge by thinking ? By reasoning ? You thought you were the only one to panic in that fucking black hole ? If you pulled your head out of your ass for five fucking minutes, you'd realize that what I did, I couldn't have done it for anyone else. I'm human. I'm not supposed to bend the laws of reality. You think I only did it out of common sense ? Can't you see that I...”

He shut up and stared at himself, breathless. What was he saying ? It was just him now, anyway. The coldness had faded entirely. If Loki had ever been listening, he was gone now.

Clint looked at himself for a good minute. That was it.

He swallowed, then suddenly bent down to grab his clothes. Fuck the shower. The sun was coming up and he needed to breathe.

 

*

 

“Hey” Tony said.

Barton was sitting on the very edge of the roof. He had always seemed at ease with the heights even before... everything. He was dressed in dark clothes Loki had obviously given him to wear. When he heard Tony, he turned with a half-grin.

“Stark” he greeted him. “Don't worry, I'm not here to jump.”

He looked a bit weary. Obviously, Tony was here to ask questions and demand answers, just like Coulson and Natasha, and everyone else on the team.

“Sorry I crashed the party yesterday,” he added softly.

Tony sat next to him and let his legs dangle over the edge. He wasn't afraid either.

Not of the heights, at least.

“Well it's not your fault if we can't rejoice at a resurrected friend like normal people,” he said.

Clint blinked at him. His grin morphed into something warmer, but it was still a bit wary of Tony's real intent.

“I, uh, I looked for you” Tony blurted.

He winced and scratched the back of his head. “I mean, we all did. But I went... kind of crazy with it. When you left that voicemail – I got there like, four minutes later, but you were already gone. There was only this fucking beer left. Laughing at me. I broke their door. That was before I saw the beer, but well. All the same.”

Clint was looking at him, but he said nothing. He wouldn't have shut up before ; he used to match Tony in rambling. Loki had taught him silence. And patience. And reflection.

The billionaire thought for a second about how exactly Loki Laufeyson would teach patience to a slave, and he shivered again – thoughts of darkness, of chains, of delighted lips brushing a bloodied ear.

“You said you screwed us up” Tony went on, in an attempt to get his mind back on track. “But I screwed you up. From day one maybe. I always knew you thought you were the only regular guy on the team.”

The archer's eyebrows raised slightly, like he hadn't expected anyone else to make that connection. He probably didn't know about Coulson broadcasting their private conversation on the speakers.

“I basked in it. Which makes me kind of an asshole, I guess. Because I'm a regular guy too, Barton. A man in a can.”

“You're a genius,” the archer said softly.

“And you're not ? You can hit a motherfucking moth ten miles away while back-flipping off a robot dragon and you're Average Joe ? Jeez, wouldn't want to meet actual superheroes then.”

Tony gritted his teeth. “If we'd gotten around showing you that a bit earlier, maybe none of this would have happened. But it did. And I was the one who made it worse every time. When I walked in on the both of you. I'm pretty sure you remember that.”

Clint huffed a silent laugh through his nose, but still said nothing.

“The way you looked – ” Tony began, but then his voice cracked.

The way Clint looked.

He thought of his heavy eyelids on half-closed eyes. His hands tied in his back. Not a sign of violence, but of trust. The way he was arching back as Loki penetrated him.

“My point is,” Tony breathed.

Yeah, Tony, what is your point ?

“My point is...”

He took a deep breath.

“My point is, I'm sorry. And I'm here to tell you that I'm out of fucks to give. It's about time we trust you. Even with this.”

He tapped the small of Clint's back and an electric tingle went up his finger.

He quickly looked up at the archer. Clint was staring at him with a sightly surprised expression, but there was a gratefulness in his eyes he couldn't hide.

“I trust you not to die” Tony said. “I trust you to handle Loki, I trust you to be a grown-ass superhero, I trust you to save the Universe and... I want to try something,” he blurted.

Clint's eyebrows shot up. “Now ?”

“Well, you'll be leaving very soon.”

“I've only been here for two days.”

“Yet you've already figured it out. Haven't you ? When you walked through that door yesterday, you looked completely... fucked up. Lost. I don't know. And now, you look like you own the world and I'm pretty sure you do. I think you figured out the answer to whatever Loki's problem was. I think he's coming back for you and I think he's coming back soon.”

The archer blinked again.

“So can I try something ?” Tony insisted, throat tight.

The way Clint looked at him, Tony was pretty sure he knew. But the archer only nodded.

The billionaire leaned forward and kissed him.

Clint opened himself entirely, but there was nothing unresponsive in the way he let Tony own him. It was like he was guiding him through this dominant thing, but how was that logical ? After a moment of confusion, the billionaire understood – it hadn't happened to him in an eternity, but his partner there was actually way, way more experienced than he was. The archer knew everything about how to submit, and with a simple kiss too – the way he tilted his head so Tony's would be slightly on top, easier for him to press down ; the way he teased the billionaire's tongue with the tip of his own, only to let himself be invaded in return. Tony raised his hands, framed Clint's face, gripped his hair, without daring to pull, but he knew he could have. He let go and let his fingers trail down until they found Clint's wrists, held tight and crossed the archer's arms behind his back. Even in this position, Tony still felt like Clint was leading this whole thing, if only because the archer was so strong he could have broken free in the blink of an eye. Fire rushed through him and he pushed into Clint's mouth, twisted his tongue with his own, trying to get him to moan. Of course it didn't work, but he could still feel it – the change in balance. This was nothing like vanilla sex. He let himself think about hurting him, about tearing a sound out of these proud lips, and the thrill he felt was so powerful it was like flying the Mark II for the first time.

Tony pulled back ever so slightly, panting. Clint was looking at him with eyes ajar. The billionaire dug his nails into the tender skin inside Clint's wrists and gave a tug upwards like he was trying to break his arms. The archer stiffened slightly, but Tony knew he was just being polite, really.

“That's what you like ?” he panted against his mouth. “That's how it should be ?”

“That's a good start” Clint murmured.

The billionaire let him go, but stayed close. “I feel like I missed out” he mumbled. “You know ?”

He knew, though, that whatever Barton had awoken inside him was nothing like what Loki possessed. Clint was strong and powerful and confident now – something only Loki had been able to teach him. Somehow. Tony tried to picture Clint's strength broken down, tried to imagine this spirit taken apart, and didn't succeed.

Loki could do this, though. Loki could hold this incredible man in his palm, and crush him like he was nothing. Better – he could have him lying down with his heart and lungs out, and Clint would still trust without a doubt that he would be sewn back in the end.

Tony felt very small.

Quite breathless too.

He pulled back completely and of course, of course, said, “Well. That was... kinda gay.”

Clint huffed a laugh. “You think ?”

“Hey, I kissed guys before. Don't go thinking you're so impressive or something.”

The archer just smiled. “Found what you were looking for ?”

“Eh,” Tony winced. “I... think I'll still have to work on the details. But it was...”

He raised to fingers to put them on Clint's lower lip. “...really nice.”

He stayed there for a heartbeat, then he let his hand fall down and knew he was never going to touch the archer again. Clint wasn't his. He had granted him access for a second, though, and Tony was very grateful for it.

“Hope your boyfriend isn't going to kill me over this,” he winced.

“You should hope indeed” a cold voice said.

Tony was still so engrossed in the moment that he didn't startle, nor did he feel any fear. He turned, and there he was.

Was it because he looked paler than usual, or because his clothes, though very elegant, were simpler and darker than what he normally wore ? Whichever the reason, Tony still wasn't afraid. What he had felt while he was kissing Clint – the depth of it ; the tremendous power that linked him to Loki – wasn't going to be threatened by a moment of intimacy.

And indeed, the demi-god didn't look furious. Not even slightly angry, actually ; only distrustful, and very displeased in the way he stared at Tony, like he expected him to be a nuisance.

“Hey,” the billionaire said. “Space cow. Now would be the time when I ring the alarm and threaten you and stuff.”

“An old tradition indeed,” Loki said.

Tony straightened up.

“Well, you know what ? I'm not going to.”

He scratched the back of his head. “Hear that, Jarvis ? Leave the man alone.”

“Is this wise, sir ?” the elegant voice said from the inside of the building.

“Well, he kinda saved the Universe, Clint says. And that would make him – a hero ! Right ?”

He waited for a split second, then went on, “Right. So – I'm gonna trust you with Birdbrain here.” He patted Clint's shoulder. “That's the second blessing you get from one of us. Maybe one day you'll have the entire collection.”

He stood up for good. “Think about letting him write home though. I'm asking you as a favor. And that's something, coming from me. You see, the thing is – he might be yours, but he's still family. I guess that makes you the awful in-law no one likes. But we're not giving up on him, and you gotta learn how to live with that, my friend.”

Loki stared at him for so long Tony started to believe the All-Speak was malfunctioning.

Eventually, he said coldly, “Leave.”

“Alright,” Tony said.

All in all, it was the nicest exchange they'd ever had. Before he did leave though, Tony felt he had one more thing to say. He stopped and turned to Loki, who raised an eyebrow at him.

“I meant it” he said calmly. “I trust you with him.”

His eyes grew darker. “You don't want to let me down on this. Remember our name. Remember what happened last time.”

This time, Loki didn't say anything, but nodded slightly.

Tony wisely chose to count it as a win and left them both under the rising sun.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“Well,” Loki murmured dryly. “I see your friends welcomed you with open arms.”

Clint said nothing.

He wasn't ashamed of what he had done. Kissing Tony had been... weird. He had felt explored and used, but not in an unkind way. Stark was a mechanic. This was how he did things – taking them apart to understand them better. And experimenting, too, a lot. Clint had felt his curiosity morphing into something more visceral, though. For the second time in his life, he had imagined kneeling for Tony Stark, and this time, the picture was believable. He could return to his old life. Loki had almost let him go already. He just had to shake free, and everything he had once wished for would come back to him.

The keyword being 'once'.

“Why are you here, sir ?” he asked.

The honorific got Loki to relax a little – he was still taut as a bowstring though. Clint had never seen him so flustered in a place where people might see him.

“You said a week,” he went on.

“It must be nice,” the demi-god said sourly, ignoring him. “Such certainty. There is no other place in all of the Nine Realms which would be so kind to a Jotun's slave.”

“Why are you here ?”

“To settle this,” Loki hissed. “Once and for all.”

“Glad to hear it.”

Clint got up. Loki was so used to losing things, he was convinced his slave was lost to him. Already, the old fire of madness was burning inside his eyes and making his jaw clench. He hadn't been furious before, but he was now.

“You were mine,” he growled, forgetting what he had just said. “You were mine !”

He was going to throw him over the edge. Clint just knew. Loki was seething with a sadness so deep, its sublimation into anger was only an act of self-defense. Loki hated, so he wouldn't hurt. Loki broke, so he wouldn't hope.

Clint didn't know if he wanted to yell at his master for such a poor display of trust, or sink to his knees and beg to be taken. Loki wanted him.

So fucking badly.

He swallowed thickly. “No, it's okay,” he muttered, maybe more to himself than to the desperate man in front of him. “It's over now.”

Loki grew significantly paler. “What did you say ?”

“I said it's over,” Clint said louder. “Sorry it took so long. You win.”

Nothing else could have kept Loki from killing him on the spot. He actually flinched like he had been slapped, and blinked at him.

“I win ?” he repeated.

The sun shone bright over the rooftops in the distance. Loki looked so frail, once again. Clint thought maybe nobody else had ever gotten to see the demi-god like this – unsure, desperate and terrified. Only him. Loki had broken him so many times, but in this second, Clint could have broken him, too.

Except he really, really didn't want to do that.

“You win,” he repeated. “Game over. Moving on. What's next ?”

“I win,” Loki stammered – actually stammered – like he didn't even know that word. “What do I – what do you mean ?”

Clint smiled. “Come on,” he said softly. “You did hear me talking to that mirror, right ?”

He looked directly at the rising sun – his eyes could withstand it now. He knew other suns were rising and setting in the immense Universe splayed out over their heads ; and yet this infinity, those stars and planets and worlds, they all fitted somehow inside Loki's house.

“I was so lost when I got here yesterday,” he murmured. “I asked if I could come home. But this isn't home.”

He looked at Loki again. “Not anymore.”

The demi-god's lips twisted into a scowl. “Your friends – ”

“There's nothing left to say,” Clint cut off. “They saw all of me. I did everything I could, I reached out as far as I could. Now, it's up to them. ”

Loki was looking at him so intensely Clint thought it could set his skin on fire.

“Sir,” he said. “Remember the end of my training ?”

Loki's dilated pupils didn't quite fit with the powerful light of dawn. “I certainly do.”

“Remember what you told me that morning ?”

His master said nothing. Oh, he remembered.

“You win,” Clint murmured again.

The pupils grew even larger, ate up the blue irises. Clint felt his own heart beat faster. He opened his mouth to repeat, “You w – ”

The demi-god gripped his hair harder than ever before to crush their mouths together. He backed the archer against the edge of the building, pushed so hard it dug in the small of his back through his clothes ; and here, kept from falling to his death only by the hand in his hair, Clint lost the last flicker of his freedom.

Loki claimed his mouth like he would claim the entirety of him, with the brutality that came with indestructible faith. What Tony had tried in vain to do, Loki achieved in three seconds flat – Clint was letting out pleading moans in his mouth and clawing at his shoulders. The demi-god pulled back and violently slapped him across the face.

“I win,” he spat, holding him over empty space. “You just expect me to believe you ? You think I will be satisfied with having my victory handed over to me ?”

Oh, how he needed to break something. Clint felt no fear. Only a craving so intense it was unbearable.

“Take it then,” he panted. “Claim it.”

Loki's eyes narrowed.

“Show me you won,” the archer breathed.

He tilted his head back so the sky would take the place of the ground. Loki's grip loosened slightly. If he let go now, Clint didn't think he would survive. Two hundred stories were a lot, even for his new body.

Loki brutally tugged him back and let him fall on his knees. Before Clint could even catch his breath, golden lights came over them both and transported them to a cold room of stone.

The archer closed his eyes, and thought, Home.

Loki must have read it on his face since he abruptly stopped what promised to be an outburst of violence. He stood there, panting with his fists clenched tight.

“Strip,” he breathed eventually.

Clint discarded his clothes in four seconds flat, then sank down into his kneeling position again. Loki picked up his gear and flicked open the sheath of the hunting knife Clint carried around ever since he had painfully discovered, in his youth, that bows didn't make for excellent close-combat weapons. The blade of the knife gleamed in the dim light when Loki took it out.

He glanced at it, then back at his slave. If he was looking for fear, he was going to be disappointed again.

The corner of his lips twitched ; then he gripped Clint's hair and dragged him to the great bed. He made him face it, still on his knees, then grabbed Clint's wrists and secured them to the bedpost. He crouched behind him then, vanishing completely from his line of sight.

Clint was left breathing alone for maybe a minute. Then his master's fingers dug into his scalp again, and tilted his head back so violently that tears welled up in his eyes. Again, he was left in that position like time had frozen around them.

The blade felt feather-light when it touched his throat. He could feel his own pulse against the razor-sharp edge, the blood ready to gush out of his veins. His eyes fluttered close.

“I win,” Loki hissed – and suddenly pushed the blade into Clint's throat.

 

*

 

“They're gone,” Tony announced.

Coulson didn't turn, but the billionaire knew he was smiling.

“Are you still mad at me, Stark ?” he asked softly.

They both stared in space as the remnants of dawn slowly morphed from their blazing uniqueness into a plain blue.

“Maybe not,” Tony admitted.

He cleared his throat and blinked rapidly.

“It's strange though, isn't it ?” he muttered. “It's – strange.”

For a long time, he thought he would get no answer.

“Well,” Phil murmured eventually. “It's a strange world.”

 

*

 

Clint took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly.

 

The blade had dug into his flesh by maybe half an inch. A drop of blood was making its slow way down to the collarbone. He had never been so still.

 

 

Loki's cold lips brushed his ear.

“Almost,” he whispered. “Maybe one day, Barton.”

 

Clint swallowed, then resumed his deep breaths. Imperceptible tremors were running through his body, coming out in goose-bumps.

“Death,” he said hoarsely. “Death is boring.”

Loki hummed, then gave a slight chuckle. “You are right.”

He tugged Clint's hair so violently his slave cried out. “Then let's have fun,”  he hissed, and dug the knife between his shoulder blades to cut him all the way down his spine in one go. Clint arched and screamed his lungs out, awaking endless echoes in the torture room.

He expected flows of blood to trickle down but nothing came ; his back felt slick with a gooey warmth. Loki must have oiled him with an anticoagulant. There was no mess, no gore, only the pain – sharp and vivid like a strand of white-hot fire, narrowing Clint's world down to a red line studded with crimson beads.

The point of the knife dug again, then sliced him up in a parallel line on the other side of his spine. Clint whined and twisted his wrists in his restraints, sobbing without tears in violent, bursting breaths.

“Shh,” Loki soothed him, pressing his lips against Clint's burning cheek. “You are supposed to be liking this, Barton.”

He had never sounded so delighted in his cruelty before. The pain was so intense Clint's stomach churned and heaved when the blade finished its path and dug in again.

“Can you see ?” the demi-god murmured as he cut out a curve in his slave's flesh, then another, and another. “Can you feel it ? Tell me what it is.”

Clint closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, exhaling violently. The pain was so extreme it narrowed down to only sharpness, like the edge was a sensation in itself. Loki was cutting out a picture in Clint's back. Long lines, big and small curves connected to the same axis, probably blooming a dark red across his shoulder blades.

Blooming...

“What is it ?” Loki said ferociously, digging the point in.

“A tree,” Clint gasped, arching back. “A tree !”

Loki hummed in approval.

“It needs leaves” he murmured. “Are you ready ?”

Clint swallowed and tugged at his bonds to ground himself. “Yeah,” he gasped. “Yes, sir. Hit me.”

Loki said nothing for a few seconds. His fingers trailed across Clint's hair again, and the archer braced himself for the sharp pain of a harsh tugging.

Instead, Loki very gently made him turn his head ; he wrapped his hand behind Clint's neck and kissed him, slow and warm, like it would never end.

The archer opened himself with a hazy feeling and moaned slightly when Loki's tongue pushed inside. He was still trembling, but it wasn't in pain now. Loki's kiss made him cry. His master was so torn, he could hear the turmoil that was his thoughts. Was he not a monster, for finding such a genuine joy into torture ? And Clint Barton, was he not a saint ?

A hero ?

Loki pulled back ; his fingertips brushed Clint's lips and the archer sucked them in, curling his tongue around the cold digits, in a show of submission, in a silent plea for more. He felt the demi-god relax behind him.

His cold forehead pressed against the back of Clint's neck ; strands of his hair tickled the top of the red tree, sending tingles along his nerves.

“'Do you know how they call me now ?” Loki whispered. “The Falconer.”

His fingers slid out, but Clint pressed a kiss on the tips before they could leave him. Loki kissed his neck in return, almost reverently.

Then he murmured, “This is going to hurt.”

Clint tensed his arms, then inhaled sharply as the knife dug in again.

“Alright ?” Loki whispered.

The archer managed a laugh. “Yeah,” he gasped, “go on, sir, please go – ” the last word bubbled up into a scream which he tried to stifle in tearless sobs again.

“Scream,” his master hissed, “scream for me,” and cut a shape on the left of his lower back with nine deep slices of the knife, and the archer shouted and sobbed and hurt himself tugging at his bonds.

Loki was trailing his fingers through Clint's sweat-damp hair now ; when the knife dug in yet again, this time on Clint's right shoulder blade, Loki gripped tight like he was feeling Clint's pain, and helping him through it. The archer was in such agony that he could barely think straight ; in fact, his mind was on the verge of unraveling, cutting one by one the threads that linked it to Clint's flesh and bones. The slave felt something buzzing under, an undulating layer coming up like a high tide, bubbling beneath the thick glaze of pain. His body had released an incredible amount of endorphins but they couldn't kick in, not just yet, not while it was still so excruciatingly intense. He writhed, panted, begged for his release.

Loki got up and untied Clint's wrists from the bedpost – left them secured together though, and pushed him lying face-down on the mattress, knees still on the floor. Clint heard a fluttering of clothes ; when he looked up, all he could see was his own crossed wrists, but through his haze of suffering, he understood that for the first time, Loki was actually undressing himself.

When cold hands cupped his ass and kneaded, Clint flinched – he was shuddering endlessly, the pain burning like ice through his entire back, violent tremors wracking his body, teeth chattering, scrambling on his knees for his feet to find support, twisting his tied wrists for his hands to hold onto something.

“Please,” he begged. “I can't. It's too much. I can't !”

Loki parted his cheeks, and the head of his dripping cock found Clint's rim, pressed against it. His slave let out a sob. “Please, sir !”

“Please ?” Loki repeated, holding Clint's hips down and pushing slowly a few inches in.

The archer gasped and remembered – he was a different man then, golden lust running through his veins, and those same hands pinning him down, that same unbearable, invading sensation. And ultimately –

“Please ?” Loki said again with dark irony, grinning now as he forced Clint open.

The archer gasped and sobbed again, but when the head of his master's cock brushed his prostate, the resulting jolt of pleasure sparked off a chain reaction inside him – like his pain had been fuel poured right in his veins – and it had just been lit up into flames.

It was too overwhelming even for him to shout. He fell into subspace so abruptly he actually blacked out for a few seconds. Loki's first thrust brought him back into a world of bliss, and the pleasure was so great it was actually the most painful of it all, so unbearable Clint prayed for this agonizing ecstasy to end soon. Then Loki thrust again and Clint's wishes dissolved into unsullied felicity. His master rammed into him, once, twice, took him all the way, deeper than he had ever been. Clint arched with a strangled cry then let his head fall back on the mattress as Loki resumed his thrusts. He was completely incoherent with pleasure, delighted with the weight of these hands pinning him down, holding him in place, where he was meant to be. Where he was meant to be.

Loki rolled his hips and arched above him with a uncontrollable moan through gritted teeth – and this sound, this utterly ruined noise of pleasure sent Clint over the edge in an outstanding explosion of stars. He shouted, cried and shouted some more as Loki pulsed his scalding seed inside him, and yelled something he didn't remember, something that might not even have made sense, but he didn't care, he didn't care as long as the world came to a standstill for a few seconds more.

 

*

 

When he woke up, he was untied and tucked under the covers, which didn't stop him from shivering. Loki was with him, holding him, his face pressed into the archer's hair, his chest still heaving with deep, slow breaths.

A heavenly light was washing through Clint's mind. He was transcending time and space, he was everything and nothing, and could have gotten them out of a hundred black holes, he could have turned into an actual hawk, he could have been everything. And nothing.

For him.

“Hey,” he said, in a voice so hoarse and trembling it sounded like it was someone else entirely. “You win.”

Loki's arms wrapped him in a tighter embrace.

“Yes ?” he breathed.

Clint smiled.

“Yes.”

 

*

 

O hear my song, as I sing fire

and ice,

and Loki Laufeyson, the shadow of this world ; everywhere at once, doing as he pleases,

leaping across the stars, bringing tides and chaos

to the Realms of gods and men.

As I sing the Hawk, the shadow's shadow ;

Forever the Falconer's thrall ; what spell binds him remains unknown, just like his name

his race

or age.

Only are known the sharpness of his eyes, and the swiftness of his bow,

and the strange scar in his back.

 

They say it's a drawing in thin silvery lines, more subtle and precise than any engraving ;

They say it's shaped like Yggdrasil itself,

 

with a hawk on the higher branch,

 

and a lonely man down under the foliage, looking up in expectancy.