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Making It Up As We Go

Chapter Text

He doesn’t spend much time in his quarters, but gets to know the innards of the ship very well, those first few weeks. There’s something about the idea of sleep that makes him feel vaguely... unsafe. He does his best to avoid the decks where the people are housed. Does his best to avoid people entirely, as a matter of fact, but especially during ship’s night. He has the oddest feeling that getting to close to anyone in the dead of night might wake his sleeping demons on the world.

The only person he sees consistently is the Valkyrie, and she’s usually in one of two places: either in the officer’s lounge, raiding the wet bar, or else on the bridge with a drink in her hand. Loki is wary of her fists and anyway he’s never been a big drinker. Just another way he’s different from everyone else: he’s got the alcohol tolerance of a sparrow. So he avoids the lounge and the bridge at night, and sticks to the navigation deck. He pours over maps and star charts, ransacks the ship’s mediocre library, and goes through endless cycles of combat exercises in the gym-cum-sex dungeon. He knows he has to sleep sometime, and if he’s lucky, if he exhausts himself enough, maybe he can keep the demons asleep long enough to get some rest of his own.

One night, the Valkyrie is waiting for him on the mat. “Need a sparring partner?”

“No.”

“Good, me too.” She lashes out with a foot to his jaw before he has time to think of a sarcastic reply, and all he can do is react. And react, and react. Holy shit, she’s fast.

Finally they drop to the mat, flat on their backs, gasping and sweating. His hair is a rat’s nest. She’s at right angles to him, with her head pillowed not-very-comfortably on his chest. “Well,” Loki manages, after a bit, “I hope that was good for you.” Valkyrie lets out some noncommittal noise. It might be a laugh, he’s not sure. “What brought that on?”

“I needed something else to do besides drink, or else the ship’s going to be dry long before we reach Earth.”

“We’ll figure something out. Maybe we could rig up a distillery.”

This time she definitely laughs. And he wonders if perhaps the Valkyrie has demons she’s trying to keep dormant, too. Hence all the alcohol.

“We need to get up,” Loki says, not moving.

“Mhmm... I could do with a shower. Care to join me? We could have some fun...” she murmured, before nodding off.

“Oh,” Loki sighs, slipping into a deep, dreamless sleep, “that sounds... lovely...”

Chapter Text

Nothing existed before that moment, Brunnhilde thinks. She didn’t exist, the Valkyrior were nothing, before that moment. How she had come to that moment, she couldn’t remember. How could she, when there had been nothing before?

And in that moment, nothing else existed in all the universe, except her, Brunnhilde of the Valkyrior, and Frigga, respected and honored among the leaders of the Valkyrie, wise, merciful, just, and the press of their lips as they stood molded together on the battlefield.

When they parted, Brunnhilde stared up at Frigga in awe. The golden, queenly warrior smiled and touched Brunnhilde’s face, and then the world rushed in on them, and they ran back into the battle.

Chapter Text

“Why are you doing this?” Brun demanded, panting, from within the cage of Loki’s arm. (She could break free, if she wanted to.) (So why didn’t she?)

He laughed, soft and low against the side of her neck, his breath and his amusement and his arousal sending ice and fire dancing over her skin. “Because you need it,” he said. With his free hand, he stroked delicate circles over her clit, not stopping her hips when they jerked to meet him, but not obliging her, either. “I need it when you chain me up and use me like a tavern whore, and you...” He dragged his lips lightly across her shoulder. “You need this.”

“You don’t know...” (Norns, he was so gentle, when had he become so gentle and why did it feel so fucking good?) “You don’t know that...”

“Don’t I?” He left off teasing her, and she whimpered, embarrassingly loudly, at the loss. Loki lifted her thigh and slipped into her from behind, filling her in one smooth, perfect stroke. “Don’t I always know what you need?”

And he did. Damn him, he did.

Chapter Text

“Mac.” Phryne Fisher nudged her friend. “Look over there.”

Dr. Macmillan looked. She saw a brown woman of about middling height, dressed like a dockworker, sitting at the bar of the unlicensed establishment for ladies of particular persuasions, her sleeves rolled up and her elbows on the counter, drinking alone, putting away shot after shot of questionable rum. “What about her?” she asked, hoping Phryne was not about to try and set her up with a date for the night. Phryne’s taste in men was unerringly entertaining, but her choice of women was not exactly up to Mac’s standards.

“She looks familiar.”

Mac looked again, a little more closely. The woman’s complexion was certainly a little unusual in that particular establishment, so she thought she would have remembered seeing her there before... Then Mac spied the odd tattoo on the inside of her left forearm. “Oh my god. Yes, I do remember her. Hilda something? Something Hilda? I don’t even know... but it was that tavern in Provence, after the armistice.”

“She got us out of a hell of a scrape,” Phryne said ruefully.

“Yes, one that you got us all into, as I recall. God, I’ve never seen anyone fight like that, woman or man.”

“As I recall, Mac, you practically swooned in admiration. And then didn’t come back to the hospital that night.”

“You’re delusional.”

“Was she good?”

“Oh Christ, yes. What’s she doing in Melbourne, I wonder?” Mac winced inwardly as Phryne stood up. “Don’t. She really doesn’t look like she’s in the mood for wartime reminiscing. Or for renewing old acquaintances.”

“Come on, Mac. She did save our necks. I’ll just buy her a drink. For old time’s sake.”

Mac groaned, and then bowed to the inevitable. “All right. One drink. That’s all.” Even though as soon as Hilda looked up and met her eyes, and smiled, she knew damned well that wouldn’t be all.

Chapter Text

“You’re my Wednesday night special.”

“And Thor’s Thursday. Cute.”

“He insisted.”

“Of course he did.”

“Jealous?”

“Oh, just disappointed. I’d hoped you had better standards.”

Valkyrie rolled her eyes and handed him a full glass. “If I can see my way to screwing you once a week, my standards are already too low.”

Loki’s lips compressed into a thin line. “Did I really deserve that?”

“Probably. But that says more about me than it does about you.”

Chapter Text

The prince is learning her style of fighting, faster than she can learn his, and Valkyrie doesn’t like that at all. Loki’s slippery, like oil on her blades, and more than once he’s shucked her daggers out of her grip, twisted her legs out from under her, and planted his boot on her chest.

For no more than a second - she gives him that much time to gloat - before her heel meets his balls and brings him down. But he’s getting the best of her, and she doesn’t like that.

But what is it he’s always saying? ‘Cheaters live?’

So the next time they spar, Valkyrie plays him, dancing just out of reach, teasing him. Loki doesn’t like to be toyed with, or so he says. Then a one-two feint, and a jab, and her lips are on his.

For no more than a second - she gives herself that much time to savor him - and then he’s on the floor with her knees on his chest and her knife at his throat. And then he laughs.

This? This, she likes.

Chapter Text

They had ended their affair mutually. It was over and done with and for the best. She was tired of Loki’s secrets (“Just tell me.” “It’s none of your concern!”), he was tired of Sif preferring his brother over him (“I don’t!” “You do.”). This was better. Apart would always be better for them.

Except…

Except when there was too much ale around the campfire or too little sleep in the saddle. Except when the night watch was long and uneventful and lonely. Except…

Her hands in his hair were strong, his lips on hers were soft, and their eyes spoke so many words they could never say aloud.

And then the sun came up.

And apart was better.

Chapter Text

The shot from the Ravager's gun missed them entirely, but it tore a hole through the bulkhead and sent shrapnel spewing everywhere. They flew to duck and avoid it, unsuccessfully. "Gah, fuck!" Loki shrieked, clutching his thigh.

Brun pulled him close and then pushed him behind her, hiding him in the alcove of a utility closet and crouching down to shield him with her body as the Ravager approached to finish them off.

"Don't move," she muttered, hunting her leathers for something to push against the wound, to stop the bleeding.

"Damn it, go!" he snarled, pulling long square scraps of cloth from out of his sleeves. It took Brun a second to realize that they were the silk handkerchiefs he sometimes used to entertain the refugee children. He balled up the scraps and pressed them against the shrapnel wound, snagging the thin fabric against the metal protruding from his leg. "I've had worse, I'm fine, just go kick his ass for me!"

The worry in her eyes stayed, but she nodded quickly, and the grin he gave her had all his teeth in it.

She prowled forward on her hands and knees, waiting for the invader to get closer. Behind her, Brun couldn't see clearly what Loki was doing, but she didn't think he had his daggers. Amid the chaos of the firefight, she saw the heavy boots of the Ravager approaching. Closer and closer, as she grew more and more tensely coiled, preparing to spring. She readied her finger on the trigger of her gun, and shot.

And missed his head by a foot, catching the pirate in the shoulder instead.

"Fuck," she muttered, diving back into the alcove as he ran to finish her off. Brun landed hard on her elbows and knees, and then flipped around, gun pointed where she hoped the Ravager's head would be. But then he was there, kicking the weapon from her hands and planting his boot on her chest.

Suddenly, a sound she'd never heard an Asgardian make burst from behind her, and at the same moment, a blaze of green fire shot out from somewhere behind her, slicing the pirate in two from hip to shoulder. The pieces of him fell to the deck plating, still writhing and screaming.

Brun rolled over, ready to attack if she had to, and saw Loki, one hand hand thrust forward, and his lips peeled back from his teeth. He jerked his hand upwards in a slashing motion, and another blaze of seidr took off the Ravager's head, silencing him.

Carefully, Brun pulled herself into a crouch and crept towards him. There was something animalistic in the way he breathed as she approached, with his eyes glowing an unnatural green.

"Sometimes I forget you're actually dangerous."

Loki tried to laugh, and then gasped and gritted his teeth. He pressed her hands down hard on the blood-soaked silk. "Hold still," he ordered tightly, and without giving her another second to think, he gripped the protruding piece of shrapnel and pulled.

His eyes rolled back in his head, and he slumped against the wall, unconscious. As Brun sponged away the blood, she saw the jagged wound glowing green, and watched as the deep cut filled in and the edges knit themselves back together.

When the all-clear sounded, Brun carried the unconscious prince to his quarters. She laid him on his bunk and peeled off the bloodstained clothes. The wound on his thigh had scarred over nicely and would likely be entirely gone by tomorrow. There was a faint green glow about it.

"Very dangerous," she murmured admiringly.

Chapter Text

“Please don’t,” said Loki quietly.

Valkyrie glanced at him through the glass wall, one eyebrow raised. “This isn’t right. I can get you out of here, make it look like an accident.”

“They’ll know.”

“I’ve taken out all the cameras.”

“Accidentally?” Loki laughed softly to himself. His hands were folded behind his back, and somehow he’d managed to make the Earth-issue prison jumper look like it had been tailor-made for him. “Fury’s expecting something like this, you know.”

Valkyrie didn’t step away from the control panel. “It’s not right. After everything you did, for Thor to just give you up like this—”

“He didn’t. This was my idea.” The prince of what remained of Asgard smiled, almost serenely, at the last of the Valkyries. “Earth was going to want collateral, in exchange for letting us settle here. I knew that. So did Thor. It makes sense for it to be me.”

“So... what. You’re just going to stay in a giant fishbowl for the rest of your life, as some sort of assurance of Thor’s good behavior?”

“It’s better than the alternative.”

“Which is...?”

“My execution.”

“...I can still make that happen, you know,” Valkyrie said, after a moment. Though she had not moved, a dagger suddenly gleamed in her hand. “I’ll let you out, and... right here. You won’t feel a thing. You don’t deserve this, Loki.”

“That won’t look very accidental.” But he suddenly looked very touched. “You called me Loki.”

“Yeah, well. You’ll forgive the sentiment.”

“I will, yes.”

A hand touched Valkyrie’s shoulder. She whirled around and laid the edge of her blade against the intruder’s throat— “You... son of a bitch.”

“What, you didn’t think I’d really put myself in a glass cage, did you? Again? No thanks.” Loki smirked and pushed her hand away. “It’s an impressive double, don’t you think? Completely autonomous.”

“How long will it last?”

“Oh, until I get bored with the joke. Then Fury will have the honor and privilege of telling the God of Thunder that his brother died in SHIELD custody. Accidentally, of course.”

“Does Thor know?”

“I’ll tell him. Eventually. Once I’m done enjoying myself.”

Valkyrie raised her dagger again. “I’m coming with you.”

“That’s not really necessary—”

“I say it is. You know. Just to make sure you don’t get into too many ‘accidents’.”

“...You know, perhaps that is a wise idea.” Loki curled a very respectful arm around her waist. “Shall we?”

The two of them winked out of existence, just as the SHIELD technicians repaired the fault in the surveillance system. The cameras in the detention level winked back on, showing Loki in his cell, standing at the glass and smiling at nothing at all.

Chapter Text

“No. No! Let me say it again: no. I am not sharing a room with you, Lackey.”

Loki rolled his eyes ceiling-ward. “No, as a matter of fact, I’m sharing a room with you. And I’m no happier about it than you are. But apparently there are a finite number of berths on this ship. We’re not the only ones who have to double up.”

“Okay, but why do we have to bunk together? Go share a room with your brother.”

“Because A: he’s bunking with Bruce, and B: Thor has refused to share a bedroom with me since we were ten years old.”

“Probably because he thought you’d stab him in his sleep. Which is exactly why we’re not—”

“I’m not going to stab a Valkyrie in her sleep – what are you doing?”

“Taking the bed. You can have the floor.”

“I think not,” Loki said, with a laugh and a winning, warning smile. “You may be the last of the Valkyries, but I’m still a prince of Asgard. I outrank you. You can have the floor.” Loki glared at her, but she didn’t move. “I said, get off the bed.”

Valkyrie calmly folded her arms behind her head and laid down, crossing one leg over her bent-up knee. “A: Make me, and B: make me, your highness.”

“...I’ll take the floor.”

Chapter Text

“I need you to do something for me.”

Loki’s smile curled up his cheeks. “Gladly.”

“I need you to let me talk.”

“...All right...”

“And to not interrupt me,” Valkyrie added, staring at the ceiling.

Loki slid his hands beneath the sheets and pushed himself into a sitting position. Valkyrie rolled onto her side, away from him, so that all he could see was the line of her spine, screaming tension and disappearing under the covers.

He licked his dry lips. “I’m listening,” he said coolly, his fingers gently stroking that tense, curving line. She flinched at his touch and he drew back with a silent curse. Well, it had been fun while it lasted.

“I think...”

We should see other people, Loki’s mind supplied, complete with sneer. Well, you’ve got a whole ship full of possibilities. Happy hunting.

Savior of Asgard or not, he couldn’t imagine who among their number might want to take her place. Or anyone who possibly could.

“I think I’m in love with you.”

Loki’s bitter internal monologue promptly dropped dead of shock. I beg your pardon? “I beg your—” She kicked back viciously at his shins. “Ow! Sorry, sorry.”

Valkyrie curled into a tight ball, still turned away from him. “I think I’m in love with you,” she whispered again. “And I’m... terrified.”

“...Of me?”

“Of... me.”

Very slowly, Loki laid back down, and curled his long, lean body protectively around the Valkyrie. “That makes two of us,” he said huskily, and kissed her shoulder.

Chapter Text

Brun cracked one bleary eye and looked over at the man who she vaguely remembered having enthusiastically dragged into her bed at some earlier point in the day. "Loki," she muttered, "what the hell's the matter?"

He stopped his squirming at once. "Nothing."

"Then stop wriggling and go to sleep. Or go into the bathroom, if you need to get off again."

Loki didn't blush often, but when he did, it was a full-body flush, in a very attractive shade of pink. "It's not that. I've, er... got an itch between my shoulder blades."

"And what, you can't reach it? With those long arms?"

"Apparently not." He squirmed again, trying to rub the sensation away against the sheets, which were far too smooth to provide any kind of relief. "And normally, I'd just spell it away, but magic's out of the question right now."

"Why?"

"Well, someone wore me out..."

Brun grinned at the compliment. "Here, turn over," she said, scooting closer.

Loki hesitated for a second and then obeyed, exposing the beautifully-muscled shoulders and back that, frankly, she didn't get to see often enough. "I need to get you on your knees more," she murmured, gently scraping her nails down his spine. "Let me know when I hit the spot."

"Uh... down? No, sorry, up. Right... right... now left..."

"Make up your mind!"

"It's moving! I – oh fuck, there, right there." Loki arched against her fingernails, practically writhing under her hand, and making the most delightfully indecent noises Brun had heard in... well, since about half an hour ago. "Stop, stop," he panted.

"You good?"

"Mhmm." He flopped onto his back, still gasping. "Norns, that was almost better than sex." He rolled onto his side and pulled her close for a cuddle, burying his face in the spot where her neck and shoulder met. "All the poets and singers of my youth did nothing but rabbit on about the raptures of the heart and the delights of the bedchamber. Not one ever mentioned the bliss of having someone around to scratch your back."

Brun snorted and pulled his arms more tight around her middle, pressing back into his embrace. "They missed something important, then."

"I'll say. Barking mad, the lot of them." He brushed his lips lightly across the side of her neck. "Of course, as the saying goes, you scratch my back and..."

Sleep was a long time coming.

Chapter Text

"...What happened?" Valkyrie asked, after someone moistened her cracked lips with a damp cloth and dripped a little water down her throat.

"You don't remember?"

"Not really... there was a fight?"

"There was, yes." She felt a familiar hand, long and sure and slightly callused, stroke her forehead. You drank too much."

"...That can happen?"

"Brun, you literally drank a tavern dry." She heard footsteps from somewhere behind him. Boots struck metal, and she realized she was on the ship. Whoever it was approached and then retreated. "And then you drew a knife on the bartender, tried to fight six burly Vanir guards at once, punched Thor in the face, and ended up electrocuted for your troubles."

"...'kay, I guess I had that coming. But why do I feel like I've been turned inside out and shaken?"

"Eir and Bruce had to pump your stomach." She carefully opened one eye in the direction of his voice, and was startled by the worry she saw on Loki's face.

"Hey," she said, trying to smile. But everything about her face hurt. "I'm okay."

"You were suffering from acute alcohol poisoning, which I didn't even think was possible for Asgardians."

"You know me... over-achiever."

"You could have died, Brun."

His voice was utterly calm and level, even disinterested.

He was terrified.

"...I'm not okay," Valkyrie whispered, closing her eyes again, this time against tears.

Chapter Text

Through the rush of her climax she heard a high, startled groan and then two sharp snaps, and Valkyrie opened her eyes just in time to see Loki reaching for her and pulling her down. He kissed her hard, his hands tangling in her hair, and then he rolled them both over. He knelt into her and Valkyrie writhed against the sheets, sprawled on her back with her thighs hooked over Loki’s hips and his hands gripping at her ass.

"Nice," she said drowsily, afterward, and because she was warm and half-asleep and pleasantly drugged with sex, she didn't much care that he had come inside her twice, once by accident and once on purpose. Instead she just grinned at him and touched his lean face with a hand that was almost fond. "That was nice."

He stretched out slow, his full weight pressing her into the mattress. His hands with their metal cuffs caught her wrists and pinned them to the pillows. His spent cock moved inside her gingerly, and the eyes that looked down at her were confused and soft.

This was different. Valkyrie felt a frisson of pleasure jolt through her and didn't know if it was hers or his. His smooth cheek rubbed across her jaw as he bent to kiss her throat. She couldn't move him off, even if she'd wanted to... There was a curse in her throat, an angry cry, a demand that he get the fuck off of her, that this wasn't the deal, but she just felt so damned safe that she swallowed her protests and kept meeting each slow thrust of his hips with one of hers.

***

"Touch me," she said, hoping he would hurt her during sex that night. Instead he treated her like glass, like she might shatter beneath him if he took her too hard, and his hands and lips were almost too tender for her to bear.

"Damn you," she muttered when she came down, shuddering in his arms. Hot tears oozed from under her eyelids and dropped onto his chest. She hoped they burned through his skin. "Why can you ever just give me what I want?"

Loki ghosted a hand over her stomach. "Do you not want this?"

He knew. Of course he knew. Valkyrie pushed away. "Bastard."

Leaving his touch was like peeling off a layer of skin, and she heard it in his voice when he spoke. "I won't force you."

"Liar." The weight of his eyes bruised her.

He ignored the question. "What do you want from me?" he asked. "I've done everything you asked."

"Except leave."

"You never asked me to leave. You only asked why I didn't. And you know the answer to that. So what do you want?"

She didn't know. Didn't know what she wanted or was supposed to want. Didn't know who she was or even what she was anymore. She wanted to go back to hating him, and couldn't, so she crawled back to his embrace instead. "Love me," she begged, beginning to shiver.

"Always have," Loki said, kissing her.

And that was the truth, Valkyrie knew, as much as either of them could understand it.

Chapter Text

Valkyrie shook, and clutched at his head and back for balance. Her fingers slipped through his long, tangled damp hair and she could feel his blood pounding through veins in the thin skin of his scalp. She held him, with his ear pressed to her lips. “I love you,” she whispered.

Loki’s sigh and smile on her collarbone were like a secret. Valkyrie gritted her teeth. “I love you, but it doesn’t change a thing. If you fuck us over, I swear, Lackey, I will cut out your godsdamned heart.”

His soft laugh ghosted over her skin, and the sound and the touch of his palm pressed to hers made her want him again. “Wouldn't make much difference.”

Chapter Text

Valkyrie stared at the open door of the safe. “All right, I have to know: how did you do that?”

“Trade secret,” Loki smirked. “If I tell you, I’d have to kill you, and I don’t really want to do that.”

“No?”

“Oh no, you’re much too beautiful.”

Valkyrie rolled her eyes. “All right, you get points for that. It’s been a while since I heard a pickup line quite that obvious.”

“‘Obvious?’” said Loki, quite affronted.

“But you have to tell me how you managed it.”

He offered his right hand. “I’ve got eyes in the tips of my fingers,” he grinned as Valkyrie studied the digits and palm.

She glanced up briefly, her brown eyes suddenly sparking with mischief. “Is that a promise or just a boast?”

His smile only widened. “Oh, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.”

Valkyrie traced the line around his thumb. “You cracked that safe in under two minutes with no magic and barely any tools—just an antique set of pick-locks.”

“You almost make me want to blush.” It was only half a joke. It had been a long time since he’d gotten a compliment like that. “It’s not really the tools that make a successful cracksman, you know. Or a master sorcerer, for that matter. It’s the hands holding them.” Valkyrie looked up and tilted her head to one side, listening carefully. She was still lightly gripping his hand. “Opening a lock or undoing a spell is more than just forcing a laser tumbler or blowing a ward open. It's about understanding who built the lock, what they built it to protect, why they designed it the way they did. It’s mostly brains and patience and fine muscle control. Once you’ve got all that, the tools become secondary.”

She nodded begrudgingly. “No small wonder I’m not in your league. Patience is definitely something I lack.”

“You and everyone else I know,” Loki grumbled. “No one has any respect for fine work anymore. It’s always ‘Loki, get this door open in fifteen seconds or we all die!’”

“Anyway, you’re good at it.” Valkyrie looked him over appraisingly. “It’s nice, getting to see a master at work.”

“Oh, now, I don’t like this.” Loki pushed the credits safely into a dimensional pocket and sat back on his heels. “All this flattery doesn’t sound quite on the up-and-up.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I think you’ve got an ulterior motive.”

“Maybe I do,” Valkyrie shrugged. “Maybe I’m asking you for a night out.”

Loki thought about it some more. "Well, as it’s you, that sounds rather terrifying... but as I’ve done all the hard work tonight, it also sounds rather pleasant.” He raised her hand, still on his own, to his lips.

She really did have lovely eyes, especially when they crinkled up in a smile, like they were now.

Chapter Text

"You're joking."

"Nope." Brun held her glass up to the light, appreciating the play of colors and feeling very content with life. "Not a bit of it."

"You have got to be joking."

"Look, you repeating that over and over doesn't make it true. And I get that you're jealous, but first off, you weren't invited, and secondly, Sam wouldn't have been interested."

"Yes, that's what he keeps telling me." Loki smirked. "He'll come around eventually."

"I doubt it. He says he's already got two crazy white boys and that's his limit."

"Well, if it's crazy Sam Wilson wants, I can do that much better than Steven can."

"You're just jealous because you weren't there."

"I beg your pardon? I can have Steven or James any time I like!"

"But at the same time? He hates that you call him 'James', by the way."

"Yes, at the same time. Frequently."

Brun raised her eyebrows at that. "But recently?"

"I... well, no..."

"And with a third good-looking, nicely-hung man in play? And with me in bed with you all?"

Loki crossed his arms over his chest and looked very put out. "All right, all right, you can stop bragging now."

Brun leaned back in her chair and grinned. "It's not bragging if it's true. And just because you're still orgied out from Sakaar doesn't me I have to limit my options."

Chapter Text

Loki draped a blanket around Valkyrie’s shoulders and pushed a mug into her hands. Then he immediately snatched it away before it could tumble from her shaking hands and shatter on the deck plating. Instead, he crouched down before her and held the mug to her lips.

Valkyrie felt a sarcastic retort rising in her throat, but it shriveled and died under his steely gaze. Shivering, she allowed him to feet her the hot medicinal tea, drop by drop.

When the mug was empty, Loki finally smiled, and leaned forward to kiss her forehead. “Rest,” he murmured against her skin. “You're safe now.”

Chapter Text

Loki turned groggily and wrapped his arms around Steve’s waist.

Great, Steve thought. Just great. “Hey, d'you mind? I need to–” He put his hand on Loki’s head, to push him away, but Loki only curled his legs up on the quinjet’s seat and clung to Steve more closely. He let out a sound of immense sleepy satisfaction.

“Oh my god,” Tony muttered from across the jet, “is he purring?”

“Don’t get up,” Loki said, still more than half-asleep. “I’m comfortable like this.”

Steve sighed, and shot a stern glance at Tony and Clint, who looked like they were about to pass out from holding in their giggles.

Chapter Text

Valkyrie turned the prone prince over onto his back with an ungentle foot and then planted her boot hard on his chest. "How have you made it this long without someone throwing you out an airlock or something?" she demanded, her voice hard and her eyes annoyed.

Loki laughed, a bit hoarsely for the treads grinding into his sternum, but still cheerful enough to put Valkyrie's hackles up. "Do you have any idea how many things I've been shoved out of or thrown off of? I think an airlock would almost be anticlimactic, at this point."

Chapter Text

Steve paused as he passed the open French doors that led to the balcony. There was a man standing out there, a single slim man dressed in a well-cut black suit, his long, lightly-curling hair slightly ruffled by the early evening breeze. He made a very pretty picture, the black form silhouetted against the liquid red-gold of the sunset.

A very princely picture.

He swallowed and started to continue on his way.

"Please stay." Loki's voice was soft and infinitely gentle, and held a depth of sadness that Steve would never have expected. "I'd like some company."

Steve's jaw tightened in thought for a moment, and then he turned back and walked slowly out onto the balcony. He came to a stop beside Loki, who was leaning on the metal rail with both hands.

To Steve's surprise, he could see the obvious traces of tears on Loki's cheeks.

He touched the back of the prince's hand with the tips of his fingers, just briefly, and then slid his palm over Loki's hand, covering it entirely.

"It's gonna be okay," Steve said simply.

Loki's tear-stained face creased into a wry smile, and he even laughed a little. "Ah, Captain. I wish I had your confidence." He glanced briefly at their joined hands, and then returned his gaze to the sunset, leaning ever so slightly into Steve's touch.

Chapter Text

"Please tell me you know how to diffuse a bomb," Loki muttered through clenched teeth, trying to keep his pain to a manageable level.

"Can't say that I've ever needed to before, so... no," said Valkyrie, as her fingers flew over the ship's control panel. "I'm surprised you don't, though, Mister 'I've Got Eyes in My Fingertips.'"

"Oh, I can, but unfortunately, I'm also currently busy trying to keep my internal organs from spilling out of my stomach."

"Y'know, Lackey, you get yourself gut-stabbed so often, I'm beginning to think you've got a fetish." Valkyrie slammed the heel of her palm onto a touchscreen, and a few moment later, Loki felt the ship shake as the shockwave from the ejected bomb hit their hull.

He sighed in relief and slipped into the blissful warmth of unconscious healing seidr, and the last thing he saw before he slept was Valkyrie glaring over her shoulder at him with a comforting mixture of love and concern that he would die before she could kill him herself.

Chapter Text

"Ugh." Loki reached for his water glass and chugged half of the contents, trying to wash the foul taste from his mouth. "Why did I eat that?"

"Uh, because it's all I have on-hand?" Darcy looked up briefly from her laptop to glare at the Asgardian... prince? Criminal? Alien supervillain? – sitting at her shitty kitchen table. "I stopped stocking anything more substantial than Pop-Tarts after Jane told your brother to take a hike."

"And he ate these willingly?" Loki looked at the box in disgust. "I always knew Thor had no taste. Apparently he also has no sense of taste."

Darcy rolled her eyes and clicked through the AirBnB listings, hoping to find one that had neglected to include the now-standard 'Super Person Insurance Fee.'

Chapter Text

It was often said of the Valkyries that they were wedded to the throne.

Thor wondered if that had been as true in the past as it seemed to be now. Then he remembered who had been king before him, and decided it was best not to dwell on such things.

Besides, he was comfortable.

"I could spend all day between your legs," he murmured, tangling his hand in Brunnhilde's hair and kissing her slowly.

"Mmm, you could," she agreed, with a sly warm smile. "But you're a bit heavy for that."

"Ah, what's a little weight to a legendary warrior?" And he moved his hips with clear intent.

But she only laughed and pushed him off. "No heavier than a feather, Your Majesty. But I have a date with Prince Loki tonight, and you know he hates to be kept waiting."

"You and your determination to play fair. This would be easier if you'd pick one of us and have done with it."

"Easier for you, maybe. But insulting to Loki, and far less fun for me." She grinned and slapped Thor's thigh. "Now off! I need to shower."

He raked his eye longingly over her limber brown body. "Just once more, my lady. Please?"

Brunnhilde looked at him and slowly grinned. "The king is begging for my favors, hmm?" She laid back and looked at Thor appreciatively. "Well. I suppose the prince can wait a bit longer, after all."

Chapter Text

"Hey. Stay. Please."

Loki stopped halfway through the act of pulling on his shirt. "Why?" he asked suspiciously.

Valkyrie shrugged. "Maybe I just want some company." She filled two glasses, knowing that he was watching her very closely, to see if she was adding anything to the drinks.

"It's a big ship. Full of people. People far less dangerous to life and limb than I."

"I... honestly can't tell if you're proud or ashamed of that." She held out one of the glasses.

After a moment, Loki shrugged the rest of the way into his shirt, and took the drink.

Chapter Text

Loki paused in the doorway of the practice room. Watching Valkyrie train was, he had to admit, as much of a thing of beauty as she was. There was a sense of serenity that flowed around her and through her, as she moved through the martial arts forms, that he rarely saw at any other time.

Oh, he saw her in motion all the time. When she fought, when she trained the youths of the ship, when she drank after work, when she straddled his hips and rode him to Valhalla and back. But there was always an aggression there, always a need to maintain control of her surroundings and to master them.

Loki didn’t mind that a bit. It was why he loved her. She had mastered him the very first time they crossed blades, and he’d been in her thrall ever since. He had found a strange kind of peace, in Valkyrie’s arms. It was terrifyingly consoling to know that he had placed himself in the power of someone who was only interested in taking as much as she gave.

But seeing her like this, in supreme control only of herself, and knowing and trusting her surroundings entirely, was something different. It was so beautiful that it made him hurt. Perhaps someday she would trust him like that.

Confident that she knew he was watching, and that she was watching him in turn, Loki stepped onto the mat. She met his eyes briefly but never stopped moving. “Thor and I are taking a quick stop-over on Spectra,” he said, ducking easily under her sword. “Apparently the farmers there are in need of a good rainstorm, so the king’s going to play weather-god for a few days.”

“And what’ll you be doing?” Valkyrie asked, jumping and landing a complicated somersault, which Loki had to drop and roll to avoid.

“Playing the patter salesman, probably.” He flicked out a dagger to block her sword as a matter of course, but didn’t follow through when she twisted her blade free. Loki smiled. “Excellent form, my dear, as always.” He ducked in and stole a kiss, tasting the sweat beading on her upper lip. “See you when I get back?”

Valkyrie never missed a beat of her intricate dance, but her grin seared his soul. “I’ll keep your bed warm while you’re gone.”

Chapter Text

Sif had thought herself well-traveled. On her first journey to Midgard, there had been nothing about the planet to impress her, and her subsequent visits had not altered that. The people frequently surprised and amazed her, but the world itself was nothing special. It had cities and oceans and beaches and deserts. The sky at midday was blue and so was the sea. To her eyes, the place was... mundane.

Then again, she had never come to Earth for pleasure, let alone to stay, and so had not truly been looking at the myriad varieties of natural phenomena. And now that she called the realm her home... now that she was a queen as well as a warrior, a leader of her people as well as a wife and a mother... her eyes found new and great things to marvel at.

Lying on her back in the long, cool grasses of the meadow, with her infant daughter curled up asleep on her chest, Sif gazed up in wonder at the night sky over Ydalir. "This is incredible," she murmured to her husband. "I've never seen anything like it. The colors, I... it's beautiful."

Sitting beside her, Thor smiled and stroked a hand lightly over her long dark hair as it mingled with the grasses. "So I thought as well, the first time I saw it."

"What is it?"

"The humans call it an aurora. It happens when the planet's magnetic field is disturbed by solar winds. Normally, in this part of the world, they are a winter occurrence."

Sif tore her eyes away reluctantly from the ribbons of green and blue swirling overhead like the flames of a driftwood fire, and gave her king and husband a knowing look. "And yet, it is mid-summer."

Thor grinned. "So it is."

"You are doing this?"

"I am." He leaned over and pressed a warm kiss to her lips. "You need not worry about adverse effects upon the atmosphere. Earth and I are becoming very well-acquainted, and using my powers in this way for a short while will harm nothing." He stretched out beside her and gently shifted Astrid from Sif's chest.

The baby girl snuffled and yawned, stretching her tiny limbs. She opened her blue eyes, expecting to see her father's face, and then blinked in astonishment at the sight above her.

Thor chuckled and cuddled her between them. Sif stroked the girl's tow-colored hair, and then her husband's darker gold hair, admiring the way the lights played over both of their faces.

Chapter Text

Steve was more than a little nervous, when Loki brought the baby home. After all, he knew nothing about being a parent, and as far as he was aware, neither did Loki, even if Loki had the advantage of having more experience with the children in the new settlement. But a four-month-old baby?

“He’s got no one else,” was Loki’s only explanation. “His mother died on the voyage, and anyone else who could care for him is already overwhelmed.”

“What about his father?”

“Couldn’t tell you.” And Loki turned away, with baby Fenrir tucked protectively into the crook of his arm. “I presume he died on Asgard.”

For a few seconds, Steve wasn’t entirely sure how to process that. “Look,” he began gently, “if he’s your son, just say so.”

“He is not.”

“Is that the official royal statement or…?”

“No, Steven, it is the truth.” Loki brushed his fingers lightly over Fenrir’s downy head. “But his mother and I became friends, during the trip here.” He glanced at Steve and grinned slightly. “I know, so shocking that I should be able to form attachments that are neither sexual nor exploitative.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“No, but I am sure others will, when my adoption of this orphaned pup becomes more widely known. He will not thank me, when he is grown, for making him the son of such a creature as myself.”

“Loki,” Steve chided, coming up behind him and gripping his shoulders.

Loki leaned into the touch briefly, and then straightened up. “I do not ask you to take up this task with me,” he said abruptly matter-of-fact. “Our… arrangement, such as it is… if you wish to end it, I will understand.”

“Oh, like hell.”

“…I beg your pardon?” Loki turned with an uncertain expression.

“This stopped being an ‘arrangement’ on about Day Three. This is a relationship. A partnership.” Steve’s smile was small and cheeky, the one he knew got under Loki’s skin the most, in the best way possible. “And you made your friend a promise. It’d be pretty awful of me to walk out on you for wanting to honor that promise.”

Loki started to reply, then shook his head and sighed. “You are entirely too noble to be real. Sometimes it’s disgusting.” But he stepped into Steve’s arms and accepted the embrace without a murmur. “It’s more than I deserve.”

“I don’t deal in deserves, I don’t get paid enough for that. I’m just trying to do what’s right.”

“You are a sentimental idiot and you delight in inviting trouble.” Loki rolled his eyes dramatically, but there was gratitude in his kiss. “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

She wonders if there is such a thing as night on Sakaar. Oh, there is sunset, of a sort, and darkness of many kinds, but Sif never sees the stars anymore. The light pollution is too intense.

She misses the stars. But there is a little bit of Asgard’s light in this honorless place, and as she turns back to the bed that she sometimes shares, she muses on the whims of the Norns, to have landed her in this place and led her into the arms of a fallen hero.

What the woman’s name truly is, Sif does not know. She knows only that once, she was a Valkyrie. Now, she is a shadow, but she still fights like hell and drinks like a fish and screws like a guilty dream, and she’s willing to share her bed sometimes and hold Sif when she cries for her old life while she’s desperately looking for a new one.

Sif crawls under the blankets and presses close to Valkyrie’s back. The smaller woman turns and wraps her arms around Sif’s slender body. “Looking for the stars again?” she asks sleepily.

“No.” Sif kisses her and rests her cheek on Valkyrie’s hair. “I found one tonight. It’s enough… it’s enough.”

Chapter Text

The man Steve knew as Luke Allard didn’t even bother looking up when he walked in. “Into the tub, Steven,” he said absently, turning a page in his book.

Steve rolled his eyes as he hung up his coat. “What, you think I come to you stinking and sweating? I had a bath already.”

“The public baths provide a level of hygiene that is significantly below my standard of cleanliness in a lover. Bathtub’s full. I want you in it.” One green eye flickered up at him. “And I’m not paying you to run your mouth.”

“Nah, you pay me to do other things with my mouth,” Steve said, a small grin tugging at his lips. His sense of shame tried to dig at him, but it had long since been buried under a need to pay for his mother’s treatments. “So come on, let’s go. I’ve got other things to do tonight.”

“Not as of right now, you don’t.” Luke turned down a corner and closed his book. He rose and came forward slowly, towering over Steve, in a way that always made Steve’s hackles rise. Luke cupped Steve’s cheek in a not-quite-possessive hand and ran his thumb over Steve’s lips. “You’re hungry.”

“Job first,” said Steve firmly.

Luke chuckled. “So conscientious.” He bent his tall back and kissed Steve with quick, nipping motions that gave lie to his elegant calm and told Steve how eager he really was. “Well then,” he murmured huskily, loosening Steve’s tie. “Into the tub with you, if you’re so determined to work for your supper.”

“And my twenty bucks.” It was a crazy lot of money for easy work, but Allard was willing to pay it. Better than two bucks a blowjob in a back alley. Easier on the knees.

“Of course, my starveling,” Luke soothed, running his hand down the front of Steve’s shirt, as the buttons seemed to melt open beneath his palm.

“Don’t call me that. And what’s with the bath?”

Luke’s smile was infinitely gentle, and it made Steve shiver from his hair to his toenails. “I don’t want your mouth tonight. I want my mouth on you.”

“You, uh… where?”

“All over. All over,” he repeated, with quiet emphasis.

“I…” Steve gulped. “Right. I want an extra ten for that.”

“You always undercharge me.” Luke kissed him again, licking into his mouth, making Steve arch against him until his feet nearly left the floor. “Tub, my starveling. Now.”

Steve went into the luxurious bathroom and stripped. He was still shivering, but the hot steam did wonders for his lungs.

Chapter Text

My Lady Executioner stood and surveyed the slaughter. “A good day’s work, in all.”

“Yes, Highness,” said Brunnhilde, her voice as neutral as she could make it. She was tired, and she stank of blood and battle. She wanted a bath and a stiff drink and her woman and a bed, and most of all she wanted to get as far away from Hela Odinsdottir as possible.

At least until the next battle.

Hela - no one was permitted to call her ‘princess’ - turned and smiled at Brunnhilde with one eyebrow raised in challenge. “You seem unimpressed, Valkyrie.”

“No, Highness,” she said stoutly, aware of her sisters at her back and Thrud, her leader and lover, at her side, all of them holding their breath. “Only weary. It was a long campaign.”

“Oh, it was,” Hela agreed with a satisfied sigh. “And I think we’ve all earned a little rest.” She turned and regarded Brunnhilde with a calculating air, and then before the Valkyrie could react, she had pulled Brunnhilde forward and pressed her mouth to hers.

Brunnhilde did her best not to react, but every muscle in her body was screaming. The executioner’s lips were warm and yet somehow lifeless, even as Hela deepened the kiss to something approaching passion.

When she drew back, it was with a dangerous smirk. “What do you say?” she purred.

“…Thank you, Highness.”

“Good girl.” Hela patted her cheek and then looked past her to where the tall, fair leader of the Valkyrior stood stoically. “You don’t mind, Thrud, dear, do you.”

“No, Highness,” she said quietly.

“Good.” Then she raised her voice and hefted her ax. “A glorious battle, ladies, as always. Until the next one.” And she sauntered away.

It took every ounce of willpower Brunnhilde had to hold back the overwhelming urge to vomit, until the goddess of death was out of sight.

Chapter Text

When he got the message that Brun was in London and wanted to meet with him, Loki was surprised, to say the least. It had been some months since they had last spoken, let alone seen each other in person. That last night at Ydalir had been… something to remember. But she had a much more public role in rebuilding Asgard than he could ever have, and after spending so long on the ship with nowhere to run to, Loki had needed to get away.

He was a little nervous about inviting him to his apartment… but her message said ‘somewhere private’, so the coffee shop down the street was obviously out. He tidied the living room, making sure all of his papers were neat and out of sight, and waited.

The sight that greeted him when he opened the door was… “Hi,” he said, absurdly.

Brun’s grin was lopsided. “Hi.”

Loki stared at her like a mannerless schoolboy for a good twenty seconds before he remembered to invite her in.

He’d known she was expecting, of course. Thor had told him months ago, and Loki had sent his congratulations and some expensive baby things, the same way he did for every child born in the new settlement. There had been no mention of a father, and Loki assumed that either Thor didn’t know or that Brun herself didn’t know. Either one was possible. She was a private person, but also not an especially monogamous one.

Loki could count on one hand, the number of adult Asgardians she had not slept with, and those only because they didn’t care for women.

He offered her a drink, and when she refused, stood before her chair, just looking at her.

“Something the matter, Lackey?”

“No, nothing, you…” He laughed a bit, feeling shy. “You look exquisite.”

“God of Lies, still practicing your trade. How’s the play coming along?”

“Fair to middling. We start previews next week.”

“Great, that’s fantastic.” Brun’s hands drummed on her knees.

Loki frowned. “So, what did–”

“Look, about the baby. It’s yours.”

Loki opened his mouth, shut it again, blinked rapidly, and then said the first inane thing that came into his head. “Oh?”

“Oh. Yeah. Yours.”

“I… how can you possibly be sure?”

“Seriously? How many Frost Giants made it to Earth with the rest of us?”

“…All right, that’s fair…” Loki leaned forward with his elbows on his knees, and folded his hands and concentrated on the way his fingers locked together. “And you’re telling me because…?”

“Because I want you to come home.”

He rolled his lips together against the wild emotion rising in his chest. Be it for good or ill, it was going to be intense, and he did not want to give way to it. “Why? We’re not… we’re not good together, Brun. We’ve proved that over and over. We’re good at fighting and fucking but we’re shit at actually functioning as a couple. I can’t imagine you’d actually want me around your child, after all of that.”

“It’s your child too. And okay, we made a bad couple. But we always made a good team. And I kind of think, maybe, that’s where we went wrong. We tried to be the perfect couple, like Thor and Sif. But we’re not perfect. We’re fucked up beyond belief… and we understand each other better than anyone else can.”

The air shifted as she leaned forward, and then he saw her hand slide over his clasped fingers. “Nothing’s been the same, since you’ve been away. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep… and I could really use some.”

Slowly, Loki raised her hand, and brushed his lips over her knuckles. “Me too,” he whispered, tears in his eyes.

Chapter Text

Thor looked from guilty face to guilty face. “Who wants to start?”

“Steve does,” said Valkyrie.

Steve grimaced. “So, Tony had these brownies…”

“Hey, is it my fault that you all neglected to mention that Reindeer Games has a hard-on for chocolate?”

It took Thor a moment to put together the pieces, but he had lived on Earth long enough – and been exposed to enough Midgardian mass media - to understand. “You gave Loki marijuana?”

“In our defense,” Steve said, pointing at the figure of the crown prince of Asgard, who was huddled under the coffee table, “that was not the reaction we were expecting.”

Thor rubbed his forehead for a moment, and then crouched down. “Loki? Are you okay?”

Loki peered blearily up at his brother with watery red eyes. “Thor, you… you’re a walrus. Why are you a walrus?”

“I… what?”

“Yeah, he said the same thing to me,” said Tony. “I think it’s the beard.”

Chapter Text

Thor knew he'd been preoccupied since leaving what remained of Asgard. Preoccupied, worried, overwhelmed and more than a little sleep-deprived. But even taking all of that into account, he knew damned well that small furry canines had not been on the original passenger manifest. "Loki," he demanded, nudging a fluffy black ball away from his boot, "where did all these puppies come from?"

Loki, who was seated cross-legged on the floor of his quarters with a lap full of squirming furry things, rolled his eyes. "Don't look at me like that, I didn't make them."

"I wasn't suggesting..." The king sighed. "But nobody brought a dog on board."

"Clearly, someone did. Or else she was just in the crowd of refugees and snuck aboard with everyone else."

"Hmm." Thor crossed his arms and grinned at Loki, who was trying to keep one very determined blue-black puppy from licking his face off. "My, but they like you."

His brother grimaced. "They seem to be drawn to magic. Which gives me a very good idea of who their sire was." He glanced up with a perturbed expression. "Apparently our sister's demon wolf had his way with one of the kitchen bitches."

"...Please tell me you're talking about dogs and not servants."

"Thor, if there were women aboard giving birth to puppies, there would be a bit more of an uproar." Loki jerked his chin to the corner of his bedroom, where a large gray dog was lying stretched out on a pile of blankets - blankets, Thor noted, that had clearly come from Loki's now-denuded bed - with her swollen teats exposed. There were two or three pups contentedly nursing, but the others were happily crawling all over Loki. "What are we supposed to do with a litter of half-undead wolfdog pups?"

"Well, we do have quite a few kids aboard, I'm sure they'd appreciate a dog."

"Their parents most likely won't."

"That's why they're going to be presents from you," said Thor, his grin widening. "They can't get mad at the God of Mischief for doing his job."

The blue-black pup saw his opportunity and leaped at Loki's face, bowling him over and scattering the other pups.

"You can keep that one," Thor added, very generously.

Chapter Text

Brun closed the door silently and leaned on it with a sigh. “Asleep, finally. And hopefully she’ll stay that way.”

“There are certain advantages to being married to a sorcerer,” Loki commented with an attempt at a smirk, though there were deep circles under his eyes as well. “But I have to say, I hate doing that to her.”

“I know.” Brun went and flopped onto the sofa, resting her cheek on his thigh. “I can’t really worry about the potential developmental side effects of baby sleeping potions, at the moment. It’s quiet.”

Loki chuckled, but was interrupted by a yawn. “Apparently I was the same way as a baby. Never wanted to sleep. Mother said it was as though I was afraid of missing something.”

“Oh hell,” said Brun.

“What?”

“That means it’s genetic.”

“Afraid so.” Loki set down his book and worked his fingers through her hair, smoothing out the knots and massaging her scalp. “Look on the bright side. The next baby might take after you, and be entirely dead to the world at night.”

“‘Next baby?’ Who said anything about a second one? And I’m not always like that.”

“No? You have been ever since I’ve known you.”

“Used to be such a light sleeper, someone sneezing a mile away would wake me up.”

“So? What happened?”

Brun was silent for a moment. Then she wriggled her arms free and snaked them around his waist. “Fell in with you, I guess. No point in sleeping with one eye open when I’ve got the most crazy-protective bastard in the universe in my bed.”

“That… may just be the most back-handed compliment you’ve ever given me,” said Loki, with a broad, delighted smile.

“Mmm… love you.”

“I love you too,” he husked out, his voice sending sleepy little shivers down her spine. “And may I just say, that is a very tempting position you’ve put yourself in.”

Brun cracked an eyelid and saw that she was level with the fly of his pants. “Y'know, Lackey, if I wasn’t so damned tired, I’d agree with that. But I can think of an even more tempting position.”

“Stretched out in bed, snuggled under three blankets and lots of pillows, with your furnace of a husband underneath you?”

“Yes. Oh god, Loki, talk dirty to me.”

He laughed, yawned again, and then picked her up and carried her into their room.

Brun was asleep before he laid her on the bed.

Chapter Text

“Why me?”

The question was out of Steve’s mouth before he could call it back. And he badly wanted to call it back. No point in ruining the moment.

Loki raised himself up on one elbow and looked at him with a closed, careful expression that was entirely unlike the unfeigned, unrestrained pleasure that had enveloped them both only a few minutes before. His smile was different now, too, almost cruelly casual.

“Why not you?” he purred, shrugging lean bare shoulders.

There was a bite mark over his left clavicle that Steve had very much enjoyed putting there. It had been viciously red after Steve had muffled his climax there, but it was already fading. “It’s not as though there was anyone else behaving so receptively to my advances.”

Steve refused to blush. He also refused to contemplate how long it had been since he had gotten laid. “No, I want to know. Why me? You could have anybody.”

Loki’s eyeroll was truly something to behold. “Thank you for the flattery, Captain. I fear that you are vastly overrating my desirability.”

“Oh, it’s ‘Captain’ now? What happened to ‘Steven’?”

His attempt at flirtation had the intended effect: Loki’s smile widened, became something a little less cruel and a little more… not fond, but at least playful. “'Steven’ got what he wanted, which was to know what a god’s arse felt like. If you want me to call you that again, I want you on your knees this time.”

“You want me on top?”

“No,” said Loki, the perpetual growl in his voice coming to the fore as he twisted half over Steve’s chest and licked hungrily at his still-swollen lips. “I want your mouth on my cock.”

“Mmm, I’ll think about it. When I’m ready.”

“Do that. Or don’t. But don’t take too long. Patience is not in my nature.”

“Answer my question and I’ll suck you off so good, your head’ll spin.”

“That is… an interesting prospect,” Loki drawled, after a moment’s confused blinking. “I must admit, Captain, your confidence is quite… intoxicating.”

“That why you like me?”

“I never said I liked you. I offered, you accepted.”

“So you’re saying you don’t have standards. You’ll just fuck anyone who says yes.”

“Generally, if I’m asking in the first place, I’ve already decided I want to fuck them.”

“So? Why me? Why not someone from the Asgardian settlement?” Steve tucked a hand behind his head and looked up quizzically at the lean pale face hovering over him. “Or one of the million groupies you’ve managed to attract?”

Loki shrugged again. “None strike my fancy. Or they said no.”

“You’ve got magic, though.”

“I do, but I don’t use it for that.” Loki’s eyes darkened. “Do you believe that I’ve forced you?”

“No,” said Steve firmly.

The green eyes lightened a fraction. “I have never attempted such seidr, and have no wish to. There is a cost to all magic, and the cost of forcing someone into sex or love is… too great.”

“Yeah, it doesn’t sound like it’d be worth it.”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t worth it, I said the cost was too great. Some are willing to pay that price. I am not.” He kissed Steve carelessly and sat back. “Why did you decide to take my offer?”

This time, Steve did blush. Just the tips of his ears, but he felt it. “I, uh…”

dark hair. strong hands. long legs. lust in your eyes. fuck-me voice. fuck-you smile. sad eyes. you don’t know how much people care.

“Dunno, really.”

“Well,” said Loki after a moment, with a warm, indecent smile. “At least that’s honest.” He threw off the blankets and beckoned to Steve. “Now that I’ve answered your question…” He gestured to his eager erection. “On your knees, Steven.”

Chapter Text

"How's the leg?"

Loki looked up at the questioner for a moment before answering. "Mending. I should be fine in a quarter of an hour or so."

Clint nodded once and walked away.

The former would-be conqueror of Earth sat on a pile of bashed-up concrete and watched, warily, as Clint picked his way through the remains of the warehouse, retrieving his arrows. "You could have shot me, you know."

"Mhmm." Stooping briefly, the archer picked up a carbon-fiber shaft, examined it, grimaced, and discarded it.

"I was completely at your mercy. You could've had your revenge--"

"Yeah," said Clint shortly, "I know. Stop reminding me."

"So why didn't you?" Loki's voice was a soft growl, almost gentle, slipping through the hush that always fell after a battle like something shadowy and grim. "No one would have blamed you, Barton. Not even my brother."

"I kinda think he would have. Before all this started, Thor told me that you're gonna be a dad soon. You knew about my wife and kids. You could've used them against me. You never did. ...I figured I owed you one for that."

"Please, Barton," Loki scoffed. "I never even needed to make the threat. You were too willing to do my bidding for it to ever be necessary."

"That what you did to the woman?" Swiftly, Clint nocked one of his remaining arrows and drew it back, glaring down the shaft at him. "Tell me she wasn't willing, and I'll give you an empty eye socket to match your brother's."

Loki raised his hands – slowly – and gingerly rose to his feet, trying not to put too much weight on his injured leg. "Whatever crimes I am guilty of, and even I agree they are numerous, on that account, you need not trouble yourself. It was entirely her decision. And truly, I'm as astonished as you are."

"Hmm." Clint lowered his bow a fraction. "I guess we'll see."

Chapter Text

Brun stopped short, spun around, and planted a hand firmly against her husband's sternum. "Look," she said shortly, "I know you're excited about this baby. I know you want to help, and I know you're terrified that something is going to happen to the baby or me. And I understand all of that, Loki, I really do. But I am only going to say this one more time: stop following me to the bathroom."

"I am not 'following' you," Loki retorted, entirely unrepentant. "I am walking with you."

"It's the same damned thing, now knock it off." Brun's hand strayed to the belt round her expanding waist, where she kept her most obvious daggers.

Loki, not being blind, saw the gesture very clearly. "I don't mean to impose," he said cautiously, raising his hands and backing away a step. "But we still know nothing about how a half-Jotunn child will affect you. An unexpected reaction could overwhelm you without warning. I only want to be prepared."

"You know what? You're right. You know what else? I don't care. This is a tiny goddamned house, you can hear everything that goes on without moving from the bedroom. So you go back to bed, and let me piss in peace."

With one last ungentle shove, Brun turned and stormed the rest of the way to the bathroom alone.

By the time she got back to bed, her annoyance had passed and she felt guilty for snapping at him. "Sorry," she said sheepishly, curling up against his side. "I just hate feeling so reliant on you for everything."

"I can understand that." Loki helped adjust the pillow that Brun needed to have between her legs, to support her spine. "I absolutely loathe relying on you."

Brun snorted and kissed his sleep-tangled hair. He refused to pull it back before he went to bed, and it always turned into a rat's nest well before morning. "I love you, too. So give us both back a little independence, and stop getting up with me every six minutes."

Chapter Text

Loki stood in a corner of the healer's chamber, his hands folded tightly in front of him, his back pressed against the wall as he fervently wished to melt into nothingness. He struggled not to cry. Thor would not cry, in his place.

Thor was not crying now, even though he was lying on a treatment bed, stripped to his waist, surrounded by Healer Eir and by Mother and Father, and looking very pale and in pain. From where he stood, Loki could not see the wound, but he knew where it lay between Thor's ribs. He tried not to think about the bloody tunic the healers had cut off his brother, in order to treat him, or his own blood-stained clothing and hands. He had refused to leave Thor's side and return to his rooms to wash and change, so one of the under-healers had given him soap and a basin and a spare shirt of the kind they clad the sick in. It would do, for the moment.

"Thor," Father was saying, his stern voice brooking no refusal, in spite of his son's injury, "you must tell us who did this to you."

Thor's blond head turned on the pillow, first one way, and then the other. "No," he whispered.

"You must name them," said Mother, her beautiful face drawn with worry. Her expression was almost worse than Thor's pain, and for a second, Loki wanted to run to her, to bury his face in her skirts like a baby and cry and tell her everything. "My son, we need to know who hurt you. Who did this horrible thing?"

"You need have no fear of them, Thor," Father pressed. "I will not let you be harmed again, by this traitorous coward who attacks my son."

Loki felt the blood drain from his thin cheeks. Traitorous?

"I will say nothing," Thor insisted, a little more strongly. "It was an accident. I do not want anyone punished for an accident."

"Can you not at least say who it was?" Frigga smoothed her son's blond hair from his hot forehead. "So that we may tell them you will be well?"

But Thor was adamant. "It is a matter of honor," said the prince stubbornly.

Father looked grave and annoyed and, Loki thought, worried. He turned his eye on Loki, and Loki straightened abruptly in his corner. "Stay with your brother, my son," Father directed. "Perhaps you can make him see reason."

"I'll try, Father," Loki promised fervently.

Father nodded once and swept out. Loki let out a tight, nervous breath. Then he bit the inside of his cheek hard to hold back his tears, when Mother came and bent down (only a little; he was tall for his age) and kissed him. "That was a very brave thing you did today."

Loki tried to smile. "It was nothing, truly."

"You found your brother grievously wounded in the gardens and carried him here--"

"Well, dragged, really."

Mother pressed a finger to his lips. "Your actions very likely saved Thor's life. I cannot say how very proud I am of you, Loki."

A few tears escaped in spite of his efforts. "Thank you," he forced himself to whisper. The words were ashamed and sour on his tongue. "I... I want to talk to Thor, please. Alone."

Mother stroked his cheek for a moment more, and then rose and left silently, like a gentle breeze, glancing with maternal concern at her injured eldest.

"You may speak together for a short while," Eir told the younger boy, "but then the prince must rest." Loki nodded and looked miserable. "Thor will be well," she added, resting a hand on his shoulder. "The blade did not penetrate as deep as all that. He will be up and about in a day or two."

"But he almost wasn't well," Loki retorted, the frightened lump in his throat becoming nearly unbearable.

"A miss is as good as a mile," said Eir philosophically. "And Thor is too strong to be ended by as meager a thing as a dagger to the liver." She patted his shoulder once more and strode through a doorway to attend to other patients and give the princes their privacy.

Loki crept up to the side of Thor's bed. His brother looked up at him with tired, triumphant blue eyes. "I didn't tell, you see? I swore I would not. I'm glad they left, though. It's hard, lying to them. I'm not as good at it as you are."

"You should have told them the truth," said Loki, choking. "That it was me, that I'm the traitor who stabbed and nearly killed you--"

"Loki," Thor groaned. "It was an accident. You've been stabbing me for years and it's never done me any harm. We were careless." He shrugged, and then hissed in pain.

Loki burst into tears. He bent and pressed his forehead to Thor's shoulder, sobbing. "I'm sorry," he wept, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

Thor reached up a hand and carded it through Loki's thick dark hair. His fingers snagged a little on the stubborn curls that refused to be entirely tamed, through pomade or magic. “Brother. I’ll never tell,” he vowed. “But… perhaps you should leave off stabbing me in jest. At least until we are bigger.”

Chapter Text

"Please don't shoot," pleaded Loki tiredly, his voice muffled by the pillow his face was half-mashed into. "I swear I'm not up to anything, I just needed to get away."

Brunnhilde lowered the gun a fraction. "Away from what, the boss?"

"Him and his constant needs. I haven't had a full night's sleep since I got here."

"That's the price you pay for being popular. Doesn't mean you get to break into my apartment and roll around naked in my bed." But she couldn't help feeling a little pity. He'd gone from absolute nobody to the Grandmaster's personal favorite in barely two weeks. No wonder he was tired.

"Look, can't you just tell him you've borrowed me for a few nights? He likes you, he'll allow the liberty."

"He probably will... but he'll be pissed if we don't screw around." She holstered the gun and looked at him with a sigh. "Doesn't matter how good I lie to him, either. He'll just know."

Loki groaned and rolled onto his back. "I know." He scrubbed his hands up his face from chin to hairline, until his arms covered his face like the bars of a cage. "It's fine, you can fuck me, just... just fuck me, all right? Nothing weird or kinky or... him."

The feeling of pity increased, which annoyed her. But the Grandmaster's mind games had to get exhausting, particularly when someone had worked their way into his favor that quickly. "I can work with that. You..." Brunnhilde frowned and sniffed the air. "Did you do my laundry?"

"Just the sheets. When the hell was the last time you changed these things?"

"Best not to ask."

Loki pulled a pillow over his face. Brunnhilde went to get ready for bed.

"Is that my shirt?" he asked, when she returned and jabbed his thigh to make him move over.

"Well, you didn't wash any of mine," she retorted. "And I'm not getting naked with you here. Nothing personal," she added, tugging down the long sleeves of the snug black top he wore under the blue leather jacket. "I never bare all in front of men."

He nodded and then lay back with a resigned expression. "Have at it, then."

Brunnhilde winced to herself. Outwardly, she rolled her eyes and stole a pillow back from him. "Sleep first," she ordered. "Sex later."

"...Are you serious?"

"My bed, my rules. You're no good to me half-dead."

A hint of a sincere smile flickered through his eyes. "Thank you... do you have a name besides Scrapper?"

"Not for you, Lackey." She flopped down and curled up on her side, facing away. "Get some sleep."

He didn't argue further, and in a minute his breathing told her that he was off. She would have gotten up and slept on the sofa, not trusting him enough to want to spend the night unconscious with him in her bed... but the sofa was disgusting. And in another moment, he'd rolled over and spooned behind her, and the arm he draped over her waist was warm and firm and felt... almost protective.

It was a comforting feeling. Brunnhilde didn't trust it one bit. But she was asleep before she could do anything about it.

Chapter Text

A chair plunked down in front of Loki. He looked up from his meal in confusion. “Something I can help you with?” he asked Valkyrie.

She straddled the chair and crossed her arms over the back. “We need to talk.”

“…I…see. What about?”

“The horse.”

“The… horse.” Loki frowned. “I’m afraid you’ll have to be a little more specific. There have been a lot of horses.”

“Really?” She couldn’t keep the bewildered expression from her face. “So this is a common thing for you?”

“Oh, yes. I like horses. I’m very good with them.” He grinned and resumed his breakfast. “I have something of a way with stallions, in particular.”

Valkyrie recoiled in shock, and Loki burst out in nearly hysterical laughter. “Oh, you… I hope you’re proud of yourself for that, asshole.”

Immensely,” he crowed, wiping the tears from his eyes. “Hell, love, I wish you could have seen your face.”

“Excuse me for not being amused that my boyfriend likes to be fucked by horses,” she retorted with a growl.

“Sorry, those are your words. I never said anything about it one way or the other! You just inferred the worst!”

“What was I supposed to think?”

“You could have given me the benefit of the doubt,” Loki shot back, “and perhaps not believe that every outlandish rumor you hear about my nefarious past is the literal truth?”

“Except that most of them are?”

Loki turned bright red. “That’s not the point! I do not fuck horses – or fuck myself on horses.”

“So where’d the rumor come from? An aspiring groom who was jealous of your ‘way with stallions’?”

“More likely a disappointed stable hand upset that I turned him down in favor of someone with better endowment.” Valkyrie blinked, and Loki grinned. “Horses, no. Horse-sized cocks? As often as I can get them.”

Chapter Text

Loki groaned pitiably, throwing one arm over his flushed, sweaty face. “Fandral,” he grumbled, a great yawn interrupting him and nearly dislocating his jaw, “was that really necessary? I was sound asleep, for pity’s sake! And you know damned well how hard it is for me to fall asleep.”

“You are the only man I know who doesn’t sleep better after a good fuck,” Fandral sighed.

“And yet, despite knowing that, you thought it was a good idea to wake me up by sucking me off, and then turning me over to pound me into the mattress?”

“…Well, obviously.”

“You really couldn’t have waited until morning?”

“I absolutely could not wait.”

“Ugh, and you also have absolutely no shame,” Loki muttered. He rolled over and buried his face in his pillows, and prayed that he would be able to fall back to sleep quickly.

Chapter Text

Valkyrie had learned a number of things about Loki, since first meeting him on Sakaar. Shockingly, the fact that he was a Frost Giant by birth was the least interesting thing about him.

“Look,” she said, with rapidly decreasing patience and a renewed loathing for her vows of loyalty to all of the remaining royal family, “I know you have A Thing about not sleeping when there’s someone else in the room. I completely understand. I get it. And normally, I’d be more than happy to accommodate you. But I need to sleep.”

“Then for mercy’s sake,” Loki groaned, playing catch-and-toss with a small ball of green-gold seidr, throwing it into the air over and over again, as he lay on his back, “sleep, woman. I’m not hindering you.”

Valkyrie reached over with a growl and snatched the little globe of light out of the air before it could reach his fingers. “Because I have A Thing about people watching me sleep.”

“Then we appear to have reached an impasse.” He snapped his fingers sharply, and the ball of light vanished. “If you won’t sleep while I’m awake and I won’t sleep at all while you’re here. A pity we can’t simply ring a bell and demand that our host provide better accommodations.”

As one, they turned and looked in annoyance at the door of their cell.

“This is your fault.”

“Which part? The part where we got captured and have to wait in prison while Thor comes up with a ransom, or the part where we have to share both a too-small cell and an entirely too-small bed?”

“Both.”

More time passed, with Valkyrie getting more irritated and Loki getting more jittery in the almost total absence of light (for he dared not rematerialize his toy), and the two of them getting progressively more and more tired.

“We can’t stay awake until Thor turns up with the money,” Valkyrie eventually pointed out, reasonably enough, she thought. “We’re going to go crazy.”

“Too late for me, I’m afraid.”

“Right, okay. Let me make myself absolutely clear: if you don’t go to sleep, I am going to kill you.”

Loki’s chuckle was strained. “Well, you’re welcome to try, as always. You know where all the soft vulnerable spots are and how best to – heurgh!”

Without warning, she was suddenly astride him, with her thighs tight on either side of his hips and her hands wrapped around his throat. “You. Need. To. Sleep.”

“Fuck. No.”

She growled and kissed him with all her teeth, precisely the way she knew Loki liked best. “You can sleep willingly or I can choke you until you pass out. You’ll enjoy either.”

“…Are those my only options?”

“Anything else has to wait until Thor gets us out of here, because I’m not fucking you for the guards’ entertainment.”

“You won’t sleep in front of people, you won’t fuck in front of people…” Loki bucked his hips sharply and, when she gasped, grinned wolfishly in the dark. “Isn’t there anything you’ll do in public?”

“I’ll tear your throat out with my teeth, does that satisfy you?”

“It, ah… does rather the opposite, actually.”

“Good.” Valkyrie removed her hands from his throat and then laid her head down on his chest. “Now shut up.”

“What…?”

“I said shut up. It’s not like I’ve never been on top of you in a bed before.” She wriggled a bit, trying to find the most comfortable spot on Loki. “Anybody who tries to get at you while you’re sleeping will have to go through me. And anyone who tries will regret it.”

“…Yeah,” said Loki, rather inanely, frantically blinking away the unexpected wetness from his eyes before it could fall on Valkyrie’s head. “That’s… yeah.” Unsure of what else to do with hands, he placed them rather awkwardly on her back.

Chapter Text

It had been a long, plodding, teeth-grindingly dull day, and by the time Thor called a temporary halt to the proceedings, Loki was thoroughly ready to end the negotiations by disemboweling every member of the trade delegation.

He glowered his way through the corridors of the ship, silently daring anyone to cross his path while he was in such a foul mood. It had been a while since he had stabbed anyone, and at that moment, he didn’t much care who.

But by the time he reached his quarters, his rage had leeched away, and all he wanted now was a wash and his bed. He hit the entry panel with a sigh, and when the door slid open, slipped inside with his hand on his collar, his mind already leaping ahead to his pillow and unconsciousness. Then Loki paused. There was a lump in his bed, and a very familiar lump at that.

All in a rush, the remainder of his anger and annoyance drained away, leaving Loki with a soft feeling of fondness for the small, angry Valkyrie who had broken into his quarters yet again and fallen asleep in his bed while waiting for his return.

Quietly, he prepared for bed, peeling off his grubby clothes, scrubbing off the psychological grime of the negotiation table, swallowing painkillers for the headache stabbing him between the eyes, and every so often, checking on Valkyrie to reassure himself that she was still comfortable. The two of them both suffered from frequent and terrible nightmares, and she might need him at any moment. But she remained in a state of calm, peaceful sleep.

When he was finally ready, Loki paused before climbing into bed, and for a few moments, he simply looked at her, with an expression of adoration that he would never have allowed to show if she was awake.

And she did wake a little, when he got under the covers, and sleepily started kissing and fondling him. Tired as he was, Loki had to chuckle.

He rolled onto his side and slowly stroked Valkyrie until she was wet, then covered her body with his own and made love to her gently, not wanting to wake her too much.

They finished together with a long low sigh. Valkyrie kissed him and snuggled close, and Loki stayed right there, lightly stroking her face with his fingertips, until she fell back to sleep.

Chapter Text

“I have to confess,” Fandral said from the bed, “I’m not altogether certain about this.”

Loki sighed and paused in his tightening of Fandral’s restraints. “This was your idea,” he reminded his sometime-lover, more than a little peevishly. “You told me very clearly in no uncertain terms that you delighted in being trussed up and at the mercy of your bedmates. So if you’re changing your mind now–”

“I didn’t say I was changing my mind, I just–”

“–I can only assume that it is because I, and not one of your stable of young ladies, am the one tying you up.”

“No! That’s…” Fandral squirmed in his padded cuffs. “Fine. I lied.”

The very naked prince raised an eyebrow. “You what?”

“I lied. I don’t love being tied up during love-making. I’ve never done this before at all.”

Loki’s dark expression lightened, and to Fandral’s surprise, he smiled. “I was wondering how far you would let me go before you admitted you had no idea of what you were doing.” He ruffled Fandral’s hair with a fond roll of his eyes, and kissed him, softly at first, then more hungrily, with quick clasping motions of his lips. “You are altogether too nervous at the sight of chains, my friend. To say nothing of being as limp as a rope,” he added, glancing pointedly at the front of Fandral’s breeches.

“Get me out of these cuffs and I will astonish you with the speed of my arousal,” Fandral vowed, his blue eyes beginning to snap and dance with his infamous vigor.

“Answer me one question first, while I have you as a captive audience.” Loki bent to work, removing not Fandral’s restraints, but his breeches. “If this manner of entertainment is not to your liking, why did you insist to me that it is?”

A very attractive blush rose on the swordsman’s tanned cheeks. “I was under the impression that it was to your liking, and I suppose I was trying to… freshen things up, you see. And your capriciousness with your lovers is well-known - you get bored so easily, and… Well, a man has to look out for himself, you know. ”

“Of course,” Loki murmured, a small, surprised, but rather pleased smile playing about his lips. “Really, though, Dash–” He ignored Fandral’s theatrical groan at the inane pet name. “–I am deeply flattered that you’re making an effort to maintain your position as a royal concubine–” Loki neatly avoided the sudden kick and tugged Fandral’s breeches the rest of the way off. “–but it’s hardly necessary. ‘Boring’ is not something you could ever be accused of being.”

“Glad I am to hear it,” Fandral joked, trying to keep the profound relief he felt from showing on his face. Against his better judgment, he had become deeply fond of the younger Odinson, and had not relished the thought of a day when Loki’s brilliant green eyes would look elsewhere for pleasure. “Now, if you’ll just get me out of these things…” He trailed off as Loki knelt between his legs and took his flaccid cock in his mouth.

The sudden rush of blood to his groin drove all thought of speech from Fandral’s mind for the next several hours.

Chapter Text

Loki had, or so he thought, a fairly wide-raging intimate knowledge of various beings and aliens – mostly within the Nine Realms but once or twice beyond it. He’d bedded men, women, and genders he had no context for, learned how to pleasure an astonishing variety of genitalia and to cope with all of them being inserted into his various orifices (though not all at the same time, thank heavens), and had (he felt) an instinctive knack for quickly picking up on what his partner or partners wanted from him.

And he hadn’t been on Sakaar more than twelve hours before he realized that all his thousand years of knowledge and experience meant absolutely nothing.

The Grandmaster knelt naked between Loki’s thighs, working busily at his hole, stretching and lubing him with something that looked clear on the immortal’s skin but left orange and blue streaks on Loki’s stomach when he wiped his fingers clean.

Loki strained to keep the sudden pain off his face. The stuff burned like a lash across his belly but felt marvelously warm and relaxing in his ass, and the last thing he wanted to do was to make the Grandmaster think he wasn’t enjoying himself. Whether he was or wasn’t, well, that wasn’t really the point, but if nothing else, Loki was very good at keeping up appearances.

He finished tying Loki’s calves and thighs, the one to the other, with strange silky crimson cords that felt soft as cream, smelled vaguely of seaweed, and felt like a thousand tiny warm fingers massaging his shin. Then the Grandmaster spread Loki’s thighs even more, until Loki thought his legs might actually pop out of their sockets.

he is in pieces at Thanos’s feet. his arms and legs are pulverized, dust in the air. his ribcage is burst open like a hornet’s nest. his organs decorate the rocky ground. his shredded entrails fan out around him

“You’re so tense!” the Grandmaster chided, putting Loki’s bound and quivering thigh with a reproving expression. “What is it? You have to have done this before.”

“Sorry,” Loki gasped. His arms were pulled back at forty-five-degree angles from his shoulders and his wrists were cuffed to… something. He hadn’t gotten a good look at the bed before he’d ended up naked and on his back. “I’m just… having trouble breathing.”

“Oxygen really is terribly over-rated, you know. I never touch the stuff, myself. Except,” the Grandmaster laughed, “when I want to remember what it feels like to do without it. You know?” He loomed his body right over Loki and curled his hand lightly around Loki’s throat.

his lungs are jelly in Thanos’s fist. his eyes float in the vacuum around Sanctuary. he still has his tongue. somehow, though his chest is a broken hornet’s nest and he has no lungs, he can still scream. but there is no one to hear

“Nope, now there you go again!” The Grandmaster’s sigh was annoyed. “You know, you’re pretty, but if you’re going to spend all that time inside your head, well, I’m going to get upset. And nobody wants that. So. How many times do I have to tell you to relax before you’ll actually do it?” His tone was light, even joking, but there was a very clear implication of ‘Don’t make me say it again.’

Loki swallowed a nervous whine and forced his body to ignore the adrenaline pulsing through his blood. Finally, he sagged limply against his many bonds.

The Grandmaster smiled genially. “Now, see? Isn’t that better?”

Chapter Text

“I’m here.”

Loki’s eyes widened in mingled hope and fear. “You’re not here,” he said, sitting up in bed and trying not to clutch the blankets to his chest like a maiden disturbed at her rest. “You’re dead. Hela killed you. You can’t be here.”

Fandral spread his hands in a gesture of such blithe uncaring that Loki broke into laughter. Choked, tear-filled laughter, but laughter all the same. “Yes, the goddess of death killed me. And then you went and killed the goddess of death, so who the hell even knows what the rules are, anymore? Besides, I might say the same thing of you,” Fandral retorted, shaking a scolding finger at his erstwhile lover. “Four long years you carried on your little jest, and never a word of consolation for your favorite swordsman?”

“Lies of that magnitude tend to collapse, the more people know about them,” Loki pointed out, dry and crisp as cider. If this was a ghost, or (heaven help him) another hallucination, at least it was a good-humored one. “And you carried on quite well enough without me, I noticed.”

“Well, really, what was I supposed to do? Swear off sex out of love for you and take myself off to some remote hermitage in Nornheim? Think of all the broken-hearted maidens I would have left behind!” Fandral’s smile bloomed cheeky and bright over his golden face, but faded quickly. “Besides, I needed some way to distract myself from your loss.”

Loki’s bare skin flushed all over with sudden and horrible embarrassment. “Dash,” he began.

“We mourned for you,” said Fandral sharply. “The entire kingdom. The Warriors Three. Sif. Thor. We cried for you. I missed you, Trickster. And you never saw it, never even suspected, did you?”

“I’m sorry,” Loki said, and looked away. What else could he say?

A gentle callused hand on his cheek forced him to look back. “Always so wrapped up in yourself, you could never see what was right in front of you,” said Fandral gruffly, and pulled Loki in close and kissed him hungrily.

Loki practically melted under his attentions, too confused and heart-sick to do anything else or question any further. Fandral had usually been content to let him take the lead in bed, but when Loki needed someone to take control, Fandral had always been there, to hold him, to worship him with his mouth and his body and reassure Loki, as many times as needed, that he was wanted.

Perhaps, even, that he was loved.

He lost count of how many times he came, from Fandral’s hands, Fandral’s mouth, Fandral’s cock moving deep inside him. But every time he climaxed, when the fog cleared, Fandral was still there, pushing sweaty blond hair out of eyes that crinkled at their corners and shone with a warmth to make even Loki’s bruised heart feel cherished and healed.

“You’re here?” he asked, voice and fingers shaking as he touched Fandral’s bearded cheek. He felt the same, exactly the same, but how could that be? “You’re really here?”

Fandral turned his head slightly to kiss Loki’s palm. “I am really here,” he promised. “The Norns alone know how - maybe I gave one of them a fabulous night of passion, at some point, when they were visiting Asgard in disguise.” Loki snorted, and Fandral smiled and pressed his lips to Loki’s for a time. “For some things in life, it’s better not to ask questions, but to accept the gifts we are given.”

“Yes, that’s always been your philosophy, hasn’t it?”

“It served me very well in life,” Fandral pointed out. “It brought me you.” Loki’s eyes welled with sudden emotion, and he hugged his lover tightly. “Though I admit, I never dreamed it would serve me just as well in death. Or that it would bring me the same prize.”

“How long can you stay?” Loki asked, with his face buried in Fandral’s neck.

“Hell if I know.” He pulled back a few inches, to look at Loki softly. “Or if I’ll be able to return again. We’re in uncharted territory here, Trickster.”

Loki grinned. It didn’t quite reach his eyes, and his hands clenched Fandral’s sides even tighter, but it was a valiant effort in the face of the unknown, of the sort Fandral himself had been famous for. “It’s you and me, Dash. Where else would we be?”

Chapter Text

Steve’s pace slowed as he got closer to Loki, and slowed, and then finally stopped. A look of deep uncertainty crossed his face.

Loki saw it plainly, but as was his custom, he smothered the sudden frightened feeling in the pit of his stomach and sauntered forward with an extra bit of swagger. “Hello, Steven, it’s been a while.”

“A while, yeah.”

The silence stretched out between them. Loki’s stomach began to churn in spite of his assumed confidence. Steve had already learned of his survival, of course, when the Asgardians had contacted Earth some weeks before, to ask for sanctuary. In Loki’s opinion, he hadn’t been all that surprised – far less surprised, in fact, than Thor had been to discover that his wayward little brother and Captain America had a clandestine relationship in their joint past.

There had been several long discussions over the space channels after that, and several realizations that in spite of the passage of years and the little matter of an attempted conquest of Earth, there were still feelings there, and Loki and Steve had agreed - tentatively - that it might be a good idea to try again, and this time with rather fewer obfuscations on Loki’s part. (Well really, what ought he to have done? Told a sickly American artist that he was sneaking away twice a week to fuck a pagan god from outer space?) So Loki had hoped, rather pathetically, for a slightly more affectionate greeting from his old friend.

“What, no kiss?” he teased into the increasingly painful silence.

Steve crossed his arms and tipped his head to one side, not quite sure what to make of the beast at Loki’s side. “Y'know, when you said you were bringing a dog back to Earth and would I mind having him in my apartment for a little while, I was kind of imagining something… smaller.”

“Wha… ah! Well… Yes, well.” Loki patted Fantur’s black head, which was roughly level with his ribs. Fantur licked his master’s hand with a tongue the size of football and whined at Steve in the friendliest manner. “When I acquired him, I had no idea how big he was going to get.”

“‘No idea’? Loki, he’s the size of a horse!”

“He is not - have you ever even seen a horse up close, city boy?” Unaware that Loki was trying to speak on his behalf, Fantur suddenly reared up on his hind legs and planted massive front paws on Steve’s shoulders in order to better make his acquaintance. Steve actually staggered under the giant dog’s weight. Loki rolled his eyes and grabbed Fantur by his luxuriant shoulder ruff, and hauled him off. “I suppose this is a bad time to mention that he’s actually the runt of the litter?”

“Oh dear God,” Steve muttered, scrubbing the slobber from his face.

“Now, Steven, there’s no need to call me ‘dear’ yet. I know you’re uncomfortable with endearments at this stage.” Once again, Loki’s attempt at levity fell rather flat. “Of all the reasons I imagined this reconciliation falling flat, I didn’t think it would be about the dog.”

“What? No, that’s not – Loki, he’s just a really big dog.”

“…And?”

“And I think you’re over-estimating the size of my apartment!” Steve’s grin was wry, a little impish, and oh, Loki had missed the things that smile did to his nervous system.

“It’s not as though I’m asking to move in,” Loki retorted, slightly dry-mouthed. “Just to bring him along on visits. I… well, he’s a handful, I grant you, but… he helps me sleep.”

He suffered a wave of shame, admitting those words to a man he was so embarrassingly eager to impress, but to his surprise, Steve’s entire attitude suddenly gentled. “So he’s kind of like your service dog?”

“I… something like that, yes. He goes everywhere with me.”

“That’s different, then. Of course you can bring him. And we should probably get him a vest.”

“A vest, of course.” Loki made a mental note to have his enormous undead dog appropriately registered, however he needed to, to ensure that they were not separated. “I – wait, we?”

“For fuck’s sake, Loki,” Steve groaned, “shut up and kiss me already.”

Loki practically threw himself into Steve’s arms. In the middle of their passionate embrace, Fantur barked.

“Oh hush,” Loki ordered, barely bothering to remove his lips from Steve’s. “You already got to snog him.”

Chapter Text

“It doesn’t make you look any worse, you know.”

Thor glanced over his right shoulder, grimaced, looked over the left shoulder, and when he still didn’t see what he was looking for, finally gave up and turned around. “Maybe not, but it’s still taking some getting used to.” He took the glass that Valkyrie offered him, and chose to ignore that she was helping herself to his liquor. “And doesn’t anyone knock anymore? First Loki, now you – these are private quarters, you know.”

“Oh, please,” she scoffed. “You think kings get privacy?”

Thor tried not to grimace as he drank. She did have a point.

“Anyway, I meant it, about the eye patch. It doesn’t hurt your godly good looks any, if that’s what you were obsessing over in the mirror just now.”

“I wasn’t,” said Thor, perhaps a shade too emphatically. “But, uh… thanks.” He toyed with his glass. “So, you… don’t think it looks bad?”

Valkyrie paused with a bottle halfway to her lips and gave him an utterly world-weary side-eye. “I mean, no, but my standards aren’t exactly the highest in the universe. But if the below-decks gossip is anything to go by, there are at least five hundred willing and able young maidens on this ship who are all desperately hoping you’ll start looking for a queen sooner rather than later. It’s your duty as king, you know.”

“Ah, yes. My ‘duty’.” Thor let his mind drift to Jane Foster for a second or two, then to Lady Sif, before regretfully hauling his thoughts back to the present. “Well, perhaps by the time we get to Earth and find somewhere to settle, I will have met someone new.”

“You sound like you’d rather rush headlong and naked at an advancing army.”

“I would – and I’ve actually done that! It is a far less terrifying prospect than beginning a courtship with someone I haven’t even met yet, and who’s never gone into battle with me or gotten drunk with me or saved the world with me…"

“Yeah,” Valkyrie agreed softy. She put down the bottle abruptly, rattling the other glassware on the little side table, and met Thor’s gaze with an expression of such uncertainty that he never would have dreamed of seeing on the face of a legendary warrior. “Yeah, starting over is… really hard. And scary.” She swallowed hard and then reached up and took the drink from his hand, swallowing its contents herself with an air of steeling herself. “But worth it. Especially when you don’t have to go it alone.”

Thor looked at her for a second or two, and then took the empty glass from her and set it down with a decisive clink. His skin, where his fingers had brushed against hers, tingled with something more than electricity. “Yes,” he rumbled softly.

Chapter Text

The heart monitor attached to Loki’s chest beeped slowly. Bruce looked at the readings, squinted, and sighed. “I wish I knew if these results were good or bad for him. It was hard enough getting this thing calibrated to Asgardian physiology, let alone whatever weird variety of blue alien he actually is.”

Valkyrie placed her hand carefully on Loki’s bandaged chest, over his heart. “Feels normal, for him,” she said, after a moment. “As far as I can tell.”

Bruce’s reply, when it came, was extraordinarily gentle. “Well, you’d know better than anyone, I guess.”

“I’ve gotten to know this heartbeat very well,” she agreed grimly. There was a noticeable catch in her voice, and circles under her eyes.

“You should maybe think about getting some rest, you know. You took a hell of a lot of hits yourself.”

But she waved him off. “I’ll be fine. I’ve had worse, believe me.” She dredged up a smile for him, but her eyes clung to Loki. “Thanks for looking after us, Bruce. I know you and he aren’t exactly friends.”

“Yeah, we’ve got our differences. He invaded my planet, I broke a concrete floor with his face… But after everything that’s happened… I mean, between Sarkaar and Asgard, and now Earth… I mean, he just helped save the universe. Even I think that’s got to count for something. And he’s not as bad as all that. I mean, the Hulk still hates him, but I don’t much mind him anymore.”

“He still has nightmares about Hulk,” Valkyrie admitted, knowing that Loki would have her hide for telling Bruce. “Sometimes he wakes up crying from phantom pain, because he dreamed that the Hulk tore his legs off.”

Bruce’s mouth tightened. “Yeah, well. He might want to see a therapist about that. Anyway, I still have an obligation to treat him. Doctors on Earth, we take oaths. And I try to keep mine. Even if the Other Guy makes it kinda hard, sometimes.” He looked at the heart monitor again and let out a tired sigh, and scrubbed a hand through his hair. “Look, I need some sleep.”

“You go get some shut-eye. I’ll stay with him.”

“You sure you’re okay?”

“I’ll live, Bruce.”

So he left, and then she was alone with her unconscious lover, her increasingly dark thoughts, and the slow, impersonal beep of the monitor. Her hand was still on his chest.

“I almost lost you,” she whispered. “After everything we’ve been through, after defeating the actual literal goddess of death and escaping from pirates and Ravagers by the skin of our teeth, I almost lost you to a genocidal purple psychopath. And that’s…” Valkyrie trailed off, unable to speak for the lump in her throat. Choking on her tears, she leaned over his prone, battered body and brushed a kiss over the single patch of unbroken skin on his cheek.

“Just wake up, Loki. That’s all I want.”

She broke into awkward, exhausted weeping, and fell asleep crooked over in that uncomfortable position, with her head on his pillow and her hand laid over his heart.

When she awoke, some hours later, she had a hellacious crick in her neck… but Loki’s hand was curled around hers.

Chapter Text

"Loki." No response. "Loki," she said, a little more emphatically.

Finally, he stirred. "Nnngh?"

"Get up."

He groaned pitiably. "Not without a blood transfusion. I may never have an erection again."

"Maybe next time you'll think twice about inviting an entire ambassadorial party back to our quarters. I've been at Sakaarian orgies that weren't that intense."

"You are a liar and a fraud, and I'm going back to sleep."

Valkyrie was pretty damned tempted herself to just lie down and pass back out. Unfortunately she'd promised to honor her responsibilities or some such bullshit. Well, that had been a mistake. "Sorry, sweet thing," she grumbled, throwing off the blankets and climbing over him to get to the edge of the bed, and not being very careful about where her knees and elbows went, "but it's time to rise and shine. You've got to finish the talks you started yesterday."

"What the hell do you think I was doing all last night?" demanded Loki peevishly.

"Uh, dipping your wick wherever there was a convenient hole?"

"I -- besides that." Loki snatched the covers back from her. "It's all taken care of, I assure you."

"You are so full of shit," said Valkyrie, not unfondly. "You didn't do anything last night except make sure that nobody on this deck slept."

Loki pulled the blanket over his head and rolled into a tight ball. "I secured the fuel and the parts we needed, and at a very good bargain. The ambassador's staff probably has the paperwork drawn up by now. All Thor has to do is sign it."

He peeked out at Valkyrie's astonished face. "What? Diplomacy happens best at night, you know."

Chapter Text

Loki slid down the wall, where until a few seconds before he had been plastered, in the grip of a sleepwalking nightmare, and crumpled into an awkward heap in the hallway. “Fuck,” he muttered, pushing a hank of hair out of his face. “I’d hoped I had left these behind.” He pulled his legs to his chest and let his forehead thunk against his kneecaps. “Stupid of me. Foolish, hopeful… stupid.”

He felt Valkyrie’s eyes on the top of his skull, and could just imagine her expression. “What?” she said blandly. “You do one good deed and you think that entitles you to a clear conscience and a decent night’s sleep?” There was a quiet metallic shink as she shoved her dagger back into the sheath in her arm guard. “I’ve got news for you, Lackey.”

“No, I know. There’s no such thing as a clear conscience. Not for a son of Odin.” Loki drew in a deep breath and tried to let it out slowly, without it snagging in his chest. He wasn’t entirely successful. “And especially not for me.”

Valkyrie’s boots shifted on the deck plating, and then she slowly lowered herself into a sitting position next to him, with an inch or two of space between them. He could feel her body heat radiating into the air, and fought the urge to lean either closer or away. “I’d say there’s no clear conscience left for any Asgardian,” she replied. “None of us have any excuse anymore.”

“…Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

“Making you feel better is so not my job. But it’s not exactly like you’re alone in being… in having regrets. In having done things you can never forgive yourself for.”

It was late in the ship’s night cycle, and no one passed them by. The engines hummed throughout his body, through nerves that had been stretched and stripped raw so many times that the acuteness of the sensation was almost painful. But it was too much effort to get up. “I appreciate you stopping before you stabbed me,” he said, after they had sat in silence for some time. “I didn’t realize I was attacking you.”

“Who’d you think I was?”

Loki’s whole brain recoiled from trying to recall the dream. “I don’t really know. Something… something terrible.”

He felt the currents around him shift a split-second before she touched him, but he didn’t have the energy to react, so when her arm went around his shoulders, he could do nothing but freeze. “Wh-what?” His voice was small, weak. Vulnerable.

“C'mere. Come on, come here.”

A brief memory flitted through Loki’s mind, of being a boy and trying to make friends with one of the nervous little palace kitchen dogs. “Come here, I won’t hurt you. Come on… that’s it…”

“I’m not some whipped pup who needs comfort,” he snarled, trying to regain the tattered rags of his dignity.

Valkyrie promptly set fire to those rags. “Yes, you are.” She scooted closer, closing those few inches of buffer space, until her hip was pressed to his. She coaxed his head down to her shoulder - rather ungently but still with more care than he was used to - and her arm was firm around his back. “Breathe, Loki.”

“I… can’t, I–”

“I know. Look, I…” But whatever it was, she either couldn’t or wouldn’t say it. “Just breathe.”

He shuddered violently, and then he sagged against her with a hoarse sigh. He drew in a breath, let it out, drew in another one. The roughness in his chest was still there, but it felt lessened, somehow. She felt… safe? He turned his face into her neck and flinched at the sudden contact of her bare skin against his, and was about to draw back.

She took his arm and pulled it across her stomach so that it rested on her waist.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Hugging you to keep you from freaking out again. Or trying to. You’re not making it easy.”

“…Ah.” Loki closed his eyes against a strange stinging sort of feeling and, hesitantly, nuzzled his forehead into the warm, dark juncture of her shoulder and neck.

Chapter Text

If she had reached out, just a little, she could have snatched him from the Void mere seconds after he let go. It amused Hela, and sent a trickle of warmth into her disused heart, to imagine the look on Odin’s face, the realization, the horror, that he had not only driven his chosen child to suicide, but in doing so, had sent him straight into the arms of his forsaken child.

She could have done it, and far more easily than Odin could have suspected. He was weakening, after all, and would not be long for the world of the living. And when he faltered… But she had to bide her time, hide her gathering strength, and especially, hide away the Frost Giant whelp. Her brother. Strange, really, that the cuckoo Odin had foisted upon Asgard should look so much more like him than his natural son did. He could have passed for Hela’s own child, had it ever been in her to be a mother.

But she was the goddess of death. And death needed no heir and served no master.

Still, it was always good to have a back-up plan.

So she shrouded herself in shadows and patience, and waited while Loki fell. And fell, and fell. She had learned patience, in her exile. He would have to do the same.

She waited and she watched, as the nothingness of the Void froze and blistered him by turns, and twisted away first his Asgardian flesh, and then his Jotunn hide, stripping him bare. It turned him inside out and mangled him, and all the while, Loki was falling. He had no conception of up or down, of touch, of sound or time. He saw nothing, and his eyes sickened and died from disuse. He screamed until his voice splintered, and his hands, so nervous and beautiful, tore at his own skin for the sake of feeling something.

But oh, he was strong, this prince of two realms, abandoned by both. He was a survivor. He was like her.

Too soon, she took him. She would have left him to the mercies of the Void a little longer, to break the last bits of hold that Asgard had on him (he clung to one memory, of the witch, Odin’s wife, who had reared him up by hand, like a child to a votive trinket), but there was someone else watching - the Titan, the mad one who so bedeviled her. He had plans for her brother.

If Thanos thought he would give Hela her own chosen player as a prize in exchange for her favors, then there was a lesson to be taught. Death favored no one.

So she reached out through a gap in the cold dark mists where Odin had thought to abandon her forever, and deftly plucked Loki from the endless space between the stars.

There was very little left of him, but he was not dead. Only dead enough. She could repair him. He would not perish at her feet for want of the Eternal Flame. And besides, she wanted more from him than the mindlessness of one more draugr.

“Oh, you poor thing,” she crooned, caressing what remain of his cheek, as he lay like crumpled wreckage on the flinty riverbank of Niflheim. The knell of her deep voice sounded, loud and hollow, in Loki’s long-disused ears, and his moan was one of astonished agony.  Hela knelt beside him, tracing a finger up the exposed line of his breastbone. “You brutal, murderous, abandoned thing.”

He stared up at her blindly, eyes wide and wild, and she felt a stirring of something akin to compassion, for his sightless eyes were the same vibrant glowing green of her beloved Fenris.  

She bent over his mangled body and pressed a kiss to his forehead. The touch sent her power coursing through him, and he screamed as his bones and skin began to be violently reassembled. Blood boiled in his veins and breath seared at his lungs, and even the unending dull of Niflheim’s twilight was too bright. He tried to fling up his hands to cover his eyes, but his newly-remade muscle fibers had forgotten how. His nerve ending fired randomly, making him twitch and jerk. His handsome face was a rictus of pain.

Hela stroked his black hair fondly as he lay whimpering before her, and smiled.

Chapter Text

"Where's Loki?" Thor asked, bracing himself for either an awkward answer or an unpleasant one.

Bruce and Valkyrie both shrugged. Korg set off on a rambling recollection of the prince's movements that basically boiled down to 'no clue'.

Finally, Thor sought out a sane person.

"He's asleep," said Heimdall, looking out over the stars out the enormous transparent bulkhead in the 'throne room' of their idling craft. "It's been days since he's had any rest, so I sent him back to his quarters for a nap."

"Exactly as you did when we were children," Thor said dryly, though inwardly he was deeply relieved. He still feared that one day he would turn around and find that, for whatever reason, Loki was no longer there. "So he's in his cabin?"

"In yours, actually." Heimdall looked sideways at his king, as a grin tugged at his lips. "He wasn't able to make it to his own before he passed out."

Poor Loki, Thor thought, as he made his way to the habitation decks to find his brother. He had always put off sleeping for as long as possible, from the time that they were children. As boys, it had been because he was perpetually afraid he might be missing something important or interesting. In later years, Loki had foregone sleep in favor of reading or working to master arcane spells and potions, sometimes for days on end. It had driven Frigga to distraction, and more than once, Thor suspected she'd bespelled her second son in some way and compelled him to sleep.

As the worldly older brother, Thor had once or twice resorted to more overt methods - by sending the favorite maiden of the moment to Loki's chambers to wear him out so thoroughly that he had no choice but to sleep.

But in the years since, he wondered if Loki had other reasons to want to avoid closing his eyes. Sometimes he would find Loki at the helm, slumped in his chair with his cheek leaning on his hand, and every so often his head would jerk up sharply. Then he would look around with a sort of wild panic, and his eyes would light upon his brother. "Don't let me do that again!"

The ship could perfectly well fly itself, and they both knew that. But Loki always needed something to do to keep his hands busy. To keep himself from falling asleep...

Quietly, Thor keyed in the code to open the door of his cabin. He had not bothered to tell Loki the code, in case of an emergency, simply trusting that his crafty brother would figure it out for himself, and he was not mistaken. There on his bed, curled into a tight ball, was Loki, sound asleep.

Thor stood and looked at him for a moment. His chest tightened hard, and then relaxed into fondness and worry. Loki looked... at peace, for the first time in years. Perhaps in centuries. Gently, he placed a hand on Loki's back, and when his brother didn't move, Thor removed Loki's high boots and drew a blanket over him.

Chapter Text

“We should go,” Steve murmured, rolling over in the grass, his naked body only half-covered by his lover’s green cape. “We’ve been here all night, and it’s—”

Loki’s lips descended on his and cut off his words. Steve’s mouth was warm, familiar, and even comforting. A strange thing to admit, after everything they’d all been through, and with Steve knowing everything that Loki was capable of.

Perhaps that was where the comfort came from. There was a bizarre sort of freedom in knowing he couldn’t trust the man he was sleeping with, at least not with anything more than his body. It was far safer than the alternative, of believing in someone so fully that their inevitable betrayal would tear his heart out.

He did not trust Steve one iota more than he had to, one night at a time. One climax at a time. One kiss at a time. And he didn’t want to let him go, not yet. “It’s what?” Loki growled, pushing his fingers into Steve’s hair to keep him close.

“Almost - it’s almost - morning,” Steve managed to say, in between kisses that were soft and insistent and oh so hungry. “And we’ve been camped out here all night.” Reluctantly, he wrapped his hands around Loki’s lean bare shoulders and pushed him away. Only an inch or two, but to Loki, it felt like light-years. “They’re gonna come looking for us.”

“Ah, and we mustn’t have that, must we?” said Loki lightly, preparing to cloak in derision the unexpected and unwelcome hurt of (once again) being someone’s dirty secret. “Mustn’t have Earth’s Mightiest Heroes discovering their golden captain tangled up with—”

But Steve surprised him, rolling his eyes and jerking Loki against his chest, kissing him with a firmness that tipped Loki’s head back and a force that made him whimper eagerly. “I don’t care if they find us together,” Steve said huskily, when he broke away, leaving Loki flushed and hard and gasping. “I’m not trying to hide you, or us. Whatever we are.” He stroked the pad of his thumb lightly over Loki’s swollen lower lip, and smiled crookedly. “Just trying to enjoy the secrecy while we can.”

Loki swallowed. “Oh?” he smirked, with far more cheeky bravado than he felt.

“Yeah.” Steve’s hand slid up to cradle his jaw, and this time, his hiss was almost sheepishly gentle. “Maybe I like having you to myself.”

Chapter Text

Valkyrie raked her gaze appreciatively over the long, lithe, utterly feminine form reclining in her bathtub. “Well,” she drawled, after few seconds of confusion before realization kicked in, and a few more seconds of hungry, contemplative staring, “this is a surprise.”

Loki smirked. “A pleasant one, I hope,” she purred, trailing wet fingers languidly over her breasts. Her nipples were a deep coral color and very erect, and Valkyrie realized that she’d been toying with them long before the unexpected interruption. Her mind immediately darted into sharply-focused imaginings about what else Loki might have been doing, and her mouth went dry.

“Oh, pleasant enough. I can’t really complain about finding a gorgeous naked woman in my bathtub.”

“Somehow, I didn’t think you would…”

“Though I am a little surprised to find that woman to be you.” Valkyrie tipped her head to one side, studying Loki critically. “Is it you? Or is this another one of your illusions?”

The coy smile on Loki’s lips faltered a bit. “It’s me,” she said quietly. “Through and through.”

“I didn’t know you were like this.”

“No. It’s not something I bandy about casually. It’s not a state of being that was highly thought of, on Asgard.”

Valkyrie felt a sour taste come into her mouth. “What, being a woman?”

“Being both man and woman at the same time.” Loki shrugged. Her hair was longer in this form, and it drifted aimlessly in the gently steaming water, and clung to her elegant pale shoulders. “I could never seem to be satisfied with simply picking one or the other, and sticking with it. Although somehow, I doubt that I would have gained anymore acceptance from Odin if I had decided to be a princess, rather than a prince.”

“Probably not,” Valkyrie agreed gently.

The pitying, awkward silence quickly became too much for both of them, and it was Loki who broke it. “He definitely wouldn’t have been happy to find me in a Valkyrie’s bathtub.”

“Probably not,” Valkyrie said again, this time with a ribald grin and an eye that smoldered enough to make Loki blush all over. “But like I said, I can’t complain.”

Chapter Text

The huddled Asgardians flinched and pressed closer together at the sound of approaching footsteps, and for a moment, a shadow loomed large and frightening against the walls of the shattered building where they were hidden. But Brun grinned – a savage and somewhat desperate grin, but it heartened those under her protection. There was nothing to fear, that smile told them. To Brun, the shadow told an entire story in a moment, long before it crept resolutely closer and shrank and resolved itself into a slim woman in a hooded cloak.

Sif had always been very good at making herself appear larger than life.

“What’s the news?” Brun asked, as Sif crouched down by the bonfire to warm her hands.

“The king lives. He is injured, but I trust his new… compatriots… to look after him adequately.”

“Good. And Loki?”

“I am not sure. He gave himself – and the tesseract – for Thor’s safety.”

Brun cursed the prince of Asgard fluently in fifteen different languages. Sif was only familiar with about half of the tongues, but she caught most of the gist of the tirade. “So what are our orders?” Brun asked, when she had run out of epithets.

“We are to get the people to safety, and to go with them.”

“…What, and just leave the tesseract with Thanos? And leave Loki to the mercies of the Black Order? Like hell. Thor must know us better than that.”

“Those were not Thor’s orders,” Sif replied, shaking her head with an expression that Brun did not want to get on the wrong side of. “They were Loki’s.”

“Well, fuck that. I don’t take orders from him.” Brun drew her sword, already glowing an eager, eerie blue in the light from the fire. “Shall we?”

Sif let out a tired chuckle and rose to her feet once more, proud to be in such worthy company as she went back into battle. “Gladly.”

Chapter Text

Stretched out atop Loki’s warm lean body was a far more comfortable position than Sif had first imagined. There was just enough of him to make a suitable platform for a woman of her size, and the muscles of his thighs and stomach and chest molded beautifully to hers. They fit together, she mused, a little uneasily.

She folded her arms across his chest to make a pillow for her chin, and thoughtfully contemplated her lover of the night. Loki, feeling her eyes on him, tore his gaze away from the subtle movements of his chamber’s painted ceiling. “Well?” he said.

Sif blinked, surprised at his harsh tone. “Well what? If you will demand answers, Silvertongue, you’ll have to ask questions first.”

Loki scowled and returned to his examination of the ceiling. “And if I don’t actually care?”

“Loki.”

“I only wondered… but it hardly matters what I think, after such an evening. In any case, I assume you were satisfied with my performance. I can only hope I was good enough for Lady Sif’s time, as Thor was not available for the pleasures of your company.”

Sif narrowed her eyes and clenched her muscles around his cock, which was spent and soft but – given Loki’s size – still mostly inside of her. The abrupt tightness forced a sudden sharp burst of air from Loki’s lips, and he gaped at her in breathless surprise. “I... yes?”

“I take my pleasures where I find them, Loki, whether they be lasting or be they fleeting, so long as I can feel the joy of them for a time. You know as well as I do, how hard it is to find.”

“Let alone to feel,” he murmured, glancing at her with a fleeting sort of longing, and then looking away again. “And I try, Sif. I do try...”

“If I had wanted to take Thor to my bed—”

“You do. You’ve wanted to for centuries.”

“I mean tonight. If I had wanted Thor tonight, I would not have settled for ravishing you in his place.” She stroked a tender hand through Loki’s tangled, springy hair, not so different from hers, but it did nothing to allay his suspicions.

But she knew him of old, knew that he looked askance at gentleness from almost everyone, so she twisted her fingers tightly into the black strands and tugged firmly, forcing him to meet her eyes. She was rewarded with a soft gasp and an expression of sharp, clear attention.

“Sif, I – you – please, you—”

She leaned in and kissed him hard, rolling her hips over his cock to make him whine. She kept his lips trapped while she rode him. He pleaded so much more eloquently with his hands.

Chapter Text

“Too much,” Loki mumbled, kicking off the light sheet, shrinking away from the bodies on either side of him, and trying his best to curl into a ball. “Hurts.”

Steve and Valkyrie glanced over his shoulder at one another.

It had been a process, getting Loki reacclimated to physical contact after Sakaar. His naturally sensitive nerves had been over-used and over-stimulation to the point of hyperawareness by the constant sex and drugs the Grandmaster had plied him with. And then he had been captured by the Black Order during the recent… unpleasantness with Thanos, and all Valkyrie and Steve’s patience and Loki’s hard work had been shredded down to a fine powder.

“This is worse than when he left Sakaar,” Val admitted with a sigh. “He could at least bear to be touched.”

“But he’s not scared of us,” Steve murmured. “That’s an improvement.”

Loki seemed not to hear them, which worried Steve. In trying to quiet his burning nerve endings, Loki was turning inward and retreating into the depths of his own mind, which was not a good place for him to be. “Loki.” His lover’s pale green eyes stared back at him, but there wasn’t even a flicker of recognition there. “Loki, I need a response here.”

“Hm.” Loki blinked and saw Steve. “Hm?”

“I’m gonna touch your hair, okay?”

He waited for a reply, but for a time, there was only Loki’s labored, shallow breathing. Then, “Go ahead.”

Steve laid a very light hand on Loki’s head and stroked his hair with just the tips of his fingers. Loki let out a small, broken whine but stayed where he was. “Too much?”

“No, I… no, it’s fine.”

“Loki.”

“It’s fine.”

Steve caught Valkyrie’s eye and nodded.

“Lackey, hey. Gonna start on your back.”

Loki swallowed hard and screwed his eyes shut. “If you must.”

“Don’t smart-mouth me,” she replied warmly, and placed her hands on his shoulder blades. She drew long, light lines up and down his back, and made small soft circles that grew larger and more firm as she continued.

Eventually, Loki relaxed. His breathing leveled and he uncurled from the fetal position and slumped into their embrace. “I hate this, he muttered, turning and burying his face in Valkyrie’s neck.

“Trust me, we do, too.”

Steve winced, worried that Loki would take that personally, but he took it in a spirit of solidarity, chuckling weakly and then reaching behind him for Steve.

Molding himself against Loki’s back, Steve pressed a kiss into Loki’s hair. “We’ve got you,” he promised. “Not letting go.”

Chapter Text

Brun dismissed the rest of her trainees and sent them off to supper. "You can come out now," she called over her shoulder.

A shadow detached itself from the shelter of the trees that ringed the training yard and glided forward over the ground, where the trampled grass was rapidly fading into pounded earth. The shadow wrapped itself around her, and after a moment, solidified into the shape of the prince of Asgard.

"How did you know?" Loki asked, one eyebrow raised, and a glint of amusement in his always-guarded eyes.

The Valkyrie snorted and curled her hands around the lapels of his Midgardian-style suit jacket. "I always know when you're around, Your Highness."

"...You know I hate it when you call me that."

"Mhmm, I do." Brun drew his head down and kissed him eagerly. His long lean frame melted tremulously into the security of her arms, but he seemed to be holding back.

"This feels so real," Loki murmured against her lips. "I... Is it? Or is this some new torment, I wonder?"

"It's real," she promised him, not for the first time, and not for the last.

"How can it possibly be? It's everything I've ever dreamed of. Respect, admiration, love – all the things I want most, and yet somehow, I have them all. How can it be real?"

His eyes widened in fear, and inwardly Brun screamed in frustration. Most of the time he seemed to be making such good progress, and yet other times... "What brought this on, love?" she asked, sighing, and threading her fingers through Loki's hair.

"Oh, nothing, really." Loki shrugged, and with the motion he seemed to be trying to shrug off the irrational fright at the same time. "I was in the common house, reading, and I walked outside for some air. I could hear the children shouting and laughing as they left the school yard, and smell everyone cooking supper in the village, and it all just swept in on me how unreal it all seemed."

He shook his head. There was a faraway expression on his face. "How can any of this be real? What could I have possibly done to deserve any of this in my life?"

Brun smoothed his lapels and rested her forehead briefly on his chin. "I don't have any answers for you, Loki. If we all got what we deserved in life, I wouldn't be here, either. But I am here, and so are you, and I'm hungry."

Loki smiled, a little shakily, and ghosted his palms down her biceps. "Then let's go find some supper."

Chapter Text

Loki stared at her with some uncertainty. "I'm... not entirely sure about this," he said, finally. "What you're asking, well... it's a bit odd for you, isn't it?"

"Yeah," said Valkyrie, through gritted teeth, "I know."

"And I have to confess, it's a bit odd for me, as well. I, er..." He stopped, hunted awkwardly for a delicate turn of phrase, and then laughed softly at himself. "I'm almost never the dominant lover in bed. Certainly not when I'm in bed with a woman."

"Believe me, I know that, too. Look," she said, heaving a sigh of intense frustration, both sexual and self-loathing, "it weirds me out and I do my best to ignore it, but sometimes it's just... need to not be the one responsible and in control. It's what I need, okay? So you can either say you'll do it, or not, and if not, you can get out of my way so I can find someone else."

"Oh, no, I'll do it. And very gladly." There was a look in his eye that Valkyrie couldn't quite put her finger on, and it made her uneasy, but not uneasy enough to rescind the offer. "I'm sincerely honored that you trust me enough to ask this of me."

"I trust you enough in bed to do this. Outside the bedroom, Lackey, well... don't press your luck."

"Wouldn't dream of it. Shall we start now or...?"

"I'll swing by your quarters tonight."

"I'll be ready."

When she arrived at his room after dinner, she was prepared for nearly anything. She had been fucking Loki up one side of the ship and down the other for weeks, and she knew more than she cared to about what he'd gotten up to on Sakaar – she knew what his tastes were. But she was older than he was by at least two thousand years. Whatever he could dish out, she could take.

And it sickened her, how wet she was for it.

"You're sure you want to do this?" he asked, after they were both naked and painfully aroused.

"Yes, I'm sure. Damn it, get on with it."

He kissed her with an eager little growl and pushed her down on the bed, and then turned to grab a set of cuffs. "Last check. Is there anything I should avoid?"

"You know my hard-and-fast rule: the bed is not a toilet and neither am I."

"Of course. Eww."

After a question like that, Valkyrie expected intense and perverted thing that Loki learned during his brief but educational time on Sakaar, especially after he not only cuffed her to the bed, but blindfolded her as well.

What she got was hours of slow, careful, unbearably gentle lovemaking that was almost too much for her to handle, and more orgasms than she knew what to do with. She lost track of how many times she had climaxed, or how many different, careful slow methods he used to make her come, and every time harder and more shatteringly than the last.

And every time she came, he held her close, radiating a silent sort of smugness. His kisses were feather-light, his hands were like gossamer, and every nerve in her body was on fire. It wasn't at all what she had wanted, but now it was, and it was torture.

Somewhere along the way, as he was helping her gulp down water that tasted like paradise, a question swam through the fog that constant orgasms had made of her consciousness. "Do you want to stop?"
Valkyrie said... something. Probably a yes, because his long fingers parted the folds of her cunt again, and then she felt the flat of his tongue flutter against her clit. She strained against her bonds and jerked her hips, trying to find more of his mouth, but his hands held her down. He spread her legs even wider, and nuzzled his lips deeper into her flesh. He sucked delicately and she had to hold back a shriek.

"You don't... have... you're not... have to be so gentle with me."

"Have to? No. Want to?" He turned his head briefly and husked a warm laugh over the skin of her inner thigh that made her want to sob. "When else were you ever going to let me touch you like this?"

Chapter Text

"Come on," Fandral urged. Then, a few moments later, more desperately, "Come on!"

Loki did his best to stifle a snort of laughter. He could have done better.

"This is not in any way amusing," Fandral grumbled. He fell forward with his hands on either side of Loki's chest, and glared down at his lover. "Someone's going to walk in on us at any minute."

"The door's quite safely locked. And even if it wasn't, and someone saw us, what of it?" Loki dragged his fingernails up Fandral's ribs and smirked at him. "We're not doing anything wrong."

"Oh, no? My cock buried to the hilt in your arse isn't going to start tongues wagging?"

"If they're not your tongue, and it's not in my mouth or on my cock – or elsewhere – I don't much care." He clenched his muscles around Fandral and grinned wickedly at the groan he got in return. "And you shouldn't, either."

"I don't care," Fandral lied, "I just – want to get you off, is all!"

Loki rested his hands on Fandral's hips, and his smile turned fond. "You never have learned how to take your time, have you?" He stretched up in amusement and kissed Fandral playfully. "Fandral the Dashing, so impatient... more like a dash."

Fandral scowled and snapped his hips, shocking a deliciously wanton moan out of the prince. "Perhaps you're not the only liaison I have scheduled for the evening."

"Is that so?" Loki's tone was still light and playful, but it went abruptly cool. "So Fandral the Dashing is trying to hurry his way through one lover to get to the next. I see how it is."

"Loki, no, I..." A sheepish blush mantled to the roots of Fandral's blond hair. "The fact is, I... rather overbooked myself, tonight, without meaning to. There was a woman at the feast tonight, a glorious red-head of enormous... presence, and we got to talking..."

"Yes, I remember seeing you and her, 'talking'. Rather a lot of hands in that 'talking'. I fully expected you to cancel our engagement tonight in favor of her – I rather wish you had, if you'd prefer to be with her tonight. Well, go on, then." And Loki sat up and started to push Fandral away.

"Damn it, Trickster, I don't want to!" Fandral wrapped his arms around Loki and kissed him hard, rocking into him. Loki gasped sharply and dug his nails into the muscles of Fandral's lower back. "What I want," Fandral growled, closing his hand around Loki's cock and stroking him ruthlessly, "is to spend the rest of the night fucking you into your fine mattress, but it's a matter of reputation, nothing else. I won't have it said that I disappointed anyone I contracted to bed. And certainly not you, your highness."

Loki arched beneath him and shot off over Fandral's hand. The pressure of his climax was too much to bear, and a second or two later, Fandral followed, spilling inside him with a groan. "Finally," he sighed, collapsing onto Loki's chest.

"So I suppose you're going to dash off now?" Loki asked, after a few minutes of silence while they caught their breath. "Fandral the Dashing, dashing off to the next bed-mate?"

Fandral sighed tiredly. "You are never going to let that one go, are you?"

"Nope."

"Oh, fuck you."

"Have we time? Don't you need to dash away?"

Fandral glared at Loki's innocent question, then pulled out of him, slid down, and wrapped his lips around Loki's spent cock.

Chapter Text

He's on Sakaar for a grand total of three weeks, but it doesn't take him more than a few days to fall arse over tip in love with her. He doesn't even know her real name. The Grandmaster calls her by her designation, Scrapper-142, and she never corrects anyone who calls her by it. Even when she drags Loki into a convenient corner or closet, or just fucks him behind the nearest potted plant, she never asks him to call her anything else.

Hell, she can't even get his name right. Or won't.

But even before he knows, before he fights her, before he sees the mark of legends on her arm, he loves her, as anyone would love something ferocious and beautiful and just out of their reach, and it hardly even matters that he knows he doesn't have a chance in hell.

"That's still not my problem," she tells him shortly, after he's accidentally moaned the words - again - while buried inside her. She untangles her legs from around his waist and lets her feet drop to the floor with a sturdy thump. Loki's knees are trembling, and he has to lean one hand heavily on the wall while he catches his breath. Scrapper-142 zips up her pants and looks at him with frustration and a little disgust. "I told you not to fall in love with me."

No, it doesn't really matter... not really. It's not her name, after all, or her lack of one, that stalks his dreams when he's passed out in the Grandmaster's bed, or who's burned into his vision like an afterimage, watching him when he's putting in good service on the Commodore, like a ghost.

Perhaps he ought to have guessed then, who and what she is. The Valkyries were supposed to select the most valiant souls to bring to Valhalla, weren't they? Then again, if he'd known earlier, he never would have believed it. What would a Valkyrie want with him?

Chapter Text

"I wondered if you were gonna leave without telling me."

The second he opened his mouth, Loki spun around, daggers in hand, tense and ready to attack, but he whisked them away before Steve was halfway through his sentence. "I ought to have known it was you," he said, smoothing back his ruffled hair. "You're the only one who can sneak up on me like that."

"Not even I can sneak up on you. When you're paying attention." From his place in the doorway of their bedroom, Steve gestured at the disarray Loki had caused. The closet and the dresser were both open and the room strewn with clothes, and the books and papers that always littered Loki's desk were conspicuous by their absence. There was no luggage, but he'd never needed it. He had other places to store things. "Something's on your mind. Where's he sending you?"

"Who?"

"Fury."

Loki's expression of bland innocence was so perfect it was painful. "Nowhere."

"Yeah? Where's that?"

"...Technically, on the edge of explored space, but you're entirely mistaken, Steve. Fury doesn't give me solo missions, you know that."

"Mhmm. I also know that if he did, nobody would tell me."

"Well, you do have a history of, shall we say, unauthorized interventions?"

"Meaning," said Steve, with a brittle smile, "he doesn't want me going after you if something goes wrong."

Loki let out a frustrated noise. "Fury has nothing to do with where I'm going. He's not the one holding my leash, never has been."

"Then who...?" Steve blinked and then straightened in alarm. "Loki."

"Father's called me home. And not for any warm welcome back into the family fold, you may be sure." Loki fiddled with a book that he hadn't been holding a second before, and in another few seconds, it was gone again.

"What's he want?"

Loki turned away. "I don't know."

"...Royal duties?" Steve tried to suggest.

"More likely, a mission of too great a chance of dismal failure to entrust to his usual stable of warriors. If I fail, at least it will be of no loss to him."

Steve stared at the tensely held lines of Loki's shoulders and back. Loki's hands were balled into firm, determined fists, but then as he watched, he unclenched his hands and lifted them to about stomach-level. Steve couldn't see, but he knew Loki and his habits and tics well by now. He was picking at his hands. He was nervous.

"You do know what he wants."

"I... suspect."

"And it's bad?"

"'Bad' is probably the best I can hope for. Steve, I... may be gone for some time," said Loki softly.

"No. We agreed, no more running off without me."

"You can't come with me. Not this time. I have to go home alone, and whatever it is that Odin needs me to do, I have to do that alone, as well." He laughed, a soft and bittersweet thing. "As always."

Steve bit back an instinctive retort. Loki's distance felt like a bruise already, and he was only on the other side of the room. Crossing the space between them, Steve carefully wrapped his arms around Loki's waist, and laid his chest on Loki's shoulder.

"Please..." said Steve huskily. "Don't go where I can't follow. You're no good on your own, you know, and... I don't know how many more people I can stand to lose."

A shudder passed through Loki's body, but he said nothing, only laid his hands briefly over Steve's.

A soft whisper chased over Steve's lips, over the back of his neck, something warm and tender and inexpressibly sad.

He never felt his lover leave his arms, but when he opened his eyes, Loki was gone.

Chapter Text

“You cheated,” Thor said sourly, dropping his spear and net next to where Loki was crouched at the riverbank.

“I did no such thing,” his brother replied, not looking up. “I merely used the abilities I had at my disposal.” His nimble hands were making short work of the fish he had caught, slitting and scraping and cleaning the flesh to be ready for the fire when Fandral and Hogun returned with the firewood.

“You turned yourself into a giant fish and swallowed all the smaller fish, and then regurgitated them on land.” Thor grabbed one of the still thrashing salmon and dispatched it with his knife, too annoyed to be happy that they would all feast well that night. “That is not only unfair, that is disgusting.”

“Then don’t eat them,” Loki retorted, grabbed the fish out of Thor’s hands. “You and Sif didn’t do poorly. Go eat your own catch, if you’re so particular. It’s not as if I haven’t known you to eat worse,” he added, under his breath.

Thor wasn’t entirely sure if that was a reference to his eating habits or to his sexual partners, and he absolutely did not want to ask Loki to speak plainer.

“Why couldn’t you have just used nets and spears like the rest of us?” he complained, tossing a rock into the river.

“Because if I had, then everything the six of us caught would’ve ended up going down your and Volstagg’s gullet. I swear, brother, you two eat and drink enough to cause famines across Asgard. Be careful,” Loki teased, prodding Thor’s stomach with the butt end of his knife, “or you’ll end up with a belly like Volstagg’s as well, before you’re king.”

Thor flushed to the roots of his yellow hair. His weight was a tender spot with him just now. Mother insisted that he was still growing, and that soon what was now an embarrassing plumpness would become hard muscle, but all the same, it was not becoming for a prince to be quite so round. “Perhaps I am eating in your stead as well,” he shot back, needling where it would annoy, “since you hardly ever eat enough to keep a gnat fit and healthy.”

Loki scowled. “I eat enough for my needs, Mother.”

Thor cuffed his shoulder and stalked off into the tree line.

Five minutes later, he returned with an armful of kindling to start the cooking fire, and bearing a sheepish expression on his broad face. “Sorry,” he muttered, dropping to his heels and beginning to arrange the wood in a stack for firing. “You know I get very vexed when I’m hungry.”

“Yes, brother, I know,” said Loki dryly. But his eyes twinkled with mischief and fun. “Well, nobody’s perfect. No doubt you’ll grow out of it eventually.”

Thor threw back his head and roared. “Now who sounds like Mother?”

Chapter Text

There aren’t many ways to pass the time in a dungeon, especially when there isn’t a speck of light to relieve the pressure of the darkness, and the only things Loki can feel are the cuffs binding his wrists to the ceiling and his ankles to the floor, and the screaming pain in his shoulders and chest from the – hours? Days? – of withstanding the strain of his body weight hanging suspended in this rock-lined hole in Nornheim.

All he can do – and thankfully it is something he is extremely good at – is to escape deep into his own mind, into memory and fantasy, where bright, white-hot dreams of what his wife could do with him in handcuffs distract him from the molten burn of his splintering muscles.

Loki envisions himself on a bed, horizontal, the mattress warm and soft beneath him, his limbs pulled taut and snug. Sigyn stands at the foot of the bed, gloriously naked save for the cascades of her golden hair, and the thin strips of the harness belted securely around her waist and through her legs. A stiff cock of oiled leather with its base braced against her mound stands up proudly. She strokes a hand down the dildo and arches an eyebrow at her husband.

In his dream, Loki pants with eagerness. He wants this, he needs this, and Sigyn laughs. She knows.

She kneels on the bed and slides her hands beneath his lean thighs, slides her fingers, slick and warm, between the cheeks of his buttocks.

The vision is so intense that in his cell, Loki feels her breach him, and comes hard from that and nothing else.

His spend spatters on the floor, in the dark, and for a few minutes the afterglow of the orgasm blunts his pain.

Chapter Text

Loki wrapped the thick fur coat more tightly around his shoulders and gazed out of the ice cave where they had taken shelter until the storm blew over. Strictly speaking, he didn’t need it; he had always had a peculiar tolerance, even affinity, for the cold, long before anyone had spoken of his Jotunn heritage. But the heavy weight of it felt good, grounded him a little bit more in reality, in where he had come from and where he would be returning to when his mission was done.

“You okay? Hey, Loki.” A hand grasped the fur beside his neck and tugged lightly to get his attention. “You okay?” Steve asked again. “You seem a bit…” Loki raised a slightly imperious eyebrow and he hesitated. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d say nervous.”

“And just how well do you think you know me, Captain Rogers?” Loki shrugged off his hand. “A few clandestine tumbles, a few against-the-wall knee-tremblers, and suddenly you think you know my mind and emotions?”

“It’s got nothing to do with the sex.”

Yes, Steven, keep telling yourself that. And I’ll keep insisting that it’s entirely about the sex. And with any luck, we will still be having this argument when the universe undergoes heat death, and we will both meet oblivion mercifully never having come to an answer.

“Something’s bothering you. Is it the delegation we’re supposed to meet? I thought you and these people were on good terms now, after you and Thor came here to… make amends.”

You cannot make an accord with a monster, my dear captain.

“No,” said Loki, turning away from the sight of Jotunheim, its crevasses and ancient volcanic upthrusts of rock and ice, and somewhere in the distance, the place where he had been left to die. “It’s only the wind here. It grates on the nerves so terribly.”

He couldn’t make out Steve’s expression in the low light from the small fire at the back of the cave, but it felt disbelieving. Pitying.

“Then come away from the door,” was Steve said, holding out his hand. “It’s quieter in back, anyway.”

Chapter Text

It is years before he seeks Thor’s bed again. Years after New York, and Svartalfheim, and the end of the world and Thanos and the rebirth of everything.

It isn’t shame. Being ashamed of his pleasures is not something Loki has ever wasted time on. But there is a certain… hesitation.

Thor has become fickle, in his choice of lovers. Ever since Jane Foster had done with him. Women, men, none of them seem to make much of an impression on the king. He and the Valkyrie have a daughter, who is Thor’s heir, but they do not keep to one bed, or even to one household.

And though it has been many years since the king had two eyes for admiring, the one he has left still lingers kindly on the long limbs and nimble hands of his brother.

There are rumors, of course. Always have been, ever since they were boys, and thought fonder of one another than was appropriate or proper. But he and Thor had laughed, and said they didn’t care, and found places where they could be alone. Places where they could be together, as brothers. Lovers. Friends.

As children.

And there had come a day when Thor turned his head away from Loki’s kisses, put aside his hands, and left their hiding places behind.

Nothing in Loki’s life had ever felt quite… right, since that day.

It had all been the blustering of a confused boy on the cusp of manhood, he realized that now. But at the time, he had been too hurt to understand Thor’s actions. And though he had acquired some wisdom over the centuries, that hurt lingered, at the base of his heart, a puncture that refused to fill.

“Go to him, you idiot,” Valkyrie urged. “He talks about you all the time, when we’re alone. He misses you.”

“I’m right here,” Loki says simply. “I always have been. He was the one who left.” Who always leaves. “If I am wanted, he can damned well tell me so. But I won’t be what the others are.”

“Others?”

“Yes, his rotating stable of warm bodies. I won’t go to sleep in his bed after he’s had his way with me, only to find that someone has taken my place.”

Valkyrie looks out over the restored waters of Asgard. The Infinity Gauntlet had been put to good use, at the end. It had not been able to resurrect their people, but it had given them back their home, to make of it what they would. “Maybe that’s why he won’t ask. Maybe he’s afraid…”

Loki snorts under his breath. “Afraid? My brother?”

“His nightmares are no less horrific than yours are. Or mine, for that matter. But… yes, I think he’s afraid to ask. I think he’s terrified that if he takes his brother back to his bed, spends a night of pleasure with him, that he’ll wake up in the morning and find that it was all a lie. That someone has taken your place.”

The old hurt twists beneath his heart. “After all this time,” he murmurs gruffly, “he still doesn’t trust that I’m whole again.”

“Do you?”

Loki grimaces, and strides away. The golden halls of the palace are as bright and shining as ever they were in the past, but they seem less artificial than the walls and pillars and painted ceilings he remembers from his boyhood. Thor has made reparations to the other realms for the gold that Odin stole, and returned artwork and artifacts and treasures to whichever kingdom demanded them. There is more honesty about the place now.

As the god of lies, Loki tends to shy away from such earnest truthfulness… but it is no lie to say that he breathes more easily about the place now, than he could before Thor returned what was stolen.

The only thing that has not been returned to the place of its origin is Loki himself, though the Jotnar asked, and Loki had offered to go, feeling it part of his punishment.

But Thor refused all their demands. “I could not part with my brother and my friend,” he told the Frost Giants.

Brother and friend. But there had once been more.

Loki steels himself, bandages the hurt in his heart, and finds his way to Thor’s bedchamber. It is hours until the king will retire, and when he does…

The prince’s bravado fades as he trails his fingers over Thor’s pillow, and his face creases in wistfulness, remembering. He wraps his arms around the pillow and breathes in Thor’s scent, and waits for nightfall.

Chapter Text

Drowning, this time. That’s new.

The small buried part of Loki’s subconscious that the Black Order had not yet been able to obliterate (though he was sure it wouldn’t be long) was tired. All of Loki was tired, although most of his waking mind was too overwhelmed by pain and terror to even realize it, and the rest of his subconscious was constantly being drilled into and ripped apart and seared away, warped and blown like glass in a furnace, into something new.

Something brittle, and fragile, but until it fell and shattered, he would be untouchable. Everything his enemies threw at him would simply slide away, like water off of glass. He would see sunlight again, the sunlight of Earth, and it would refract off of him and char his enemies down to the ground.

Until then…

Vivisection. What, again? This must be the twentieth… twenty-sixth time? I really must find a better way of keeping track.

It would have been easier, so much easier, simply to submit. To give the Titan what he wanted: information about Asgard and the rest of the Nine Realms, to tell him of Mjolnir, of the Casket of Ancient Winters, about Earth. Loki could not understand why Thanos of all beings would care about a miserable little swamp like Midgard, but it didn’t matter.

All that mattered, in the midst of the first time they killed him, was that Thanos needed to know.

So Loki was not going to tell him. Out of some perverse misguided loyalty to the family that had cast him out, or through good old-fashioned spite, he would not submit. And if it meant his death, well then, so be it. He would show the Norns that Loki was a true son of Asgard, no matter who had gotten and whelped him.

He could be brave, in darkness, with no one to see. He could be worthy.

Impalement? Ow, ouch. Crude, but effective enough, I suppose. Fuck it, though, I’m so tired… I’m so tired… I should just give up. Give in, give them what they want… Damn Midgard anyway… always was my own worst enemy… never did know when to bow out of a fight… no, that’s Thor… be strong… be like Thor…

He could be worthy…

Chapter Text

Sometimes Loki woke in the middle of the night, and looked down at the woman sharing his bed, and his rib cage and lungs would ache so much that breathing became a nightmare. It terrified him, at first. She terrified him, always, from the very first time she put her hands on him.

Only some kinds of terror were acceptable. The kind that went straight to his groin, for example.

The kind that wove a snare around his heart and waited until the dead of night to tighten, was not.

Her dark brown hair had come loose from her braids during their love-making earlier, and wild strands of it rose and fell lightly over her face as she breathed. The warmth of her skin tone in his eyes and the warmth of her skin against his and the heat of her mouth on his cock… it had almost been too much.

She was too much. And he… he wasn’t enough.

“I am known for being fickle, you know,” Loki said, his words so soft and low he could hardly hear them himself. He felt them, vibrating in his throat and in his gut. “Hard to please. Impossible to satisfy. I am… incapable of sincerity, either of expression or of feeling. It would be simple enough, to tell you that I hate you, and make you believe it.”

Wouldn’t it?

He wrapped his arms tightly around his bare torso, almost whimpering at the dull, persistent throbbing ache that his enormous and sudden love for the Valkyrie had caused.

“I could do it. I could. I could… If I told you that I hated you, would you go away?”

She could not have heard him, it was impossible. But it was at that moment, that she rolled over, flung a hand over his chest, and buried her face in the space between his neck and shoulder.

Loki sighed and stroked her hair with a resigned hand. Tears slipped down his cheeks.

“Of course,” he said without speaking, “that wouldn’t work. No one I hate would give me the satisfaction of leaving. It’s only the people I love who insist upon going away.”

Chapter Text

“Is this really the best we can do?” Thor demanded, frantic with worry for his brother but trying not to show it.

Sif and Fandral finished hammering together the makeshift table, and Sif pushed a sweaty handful of hair out of her eyes and glared at the prince. “We are miles from the nearest settlement, without decent supplies, and none of us has more than the scantiest amount of healing ability. This is absolutely the best that we can do.”

She threw down her mallet and stalked over to where Loki had been laid, gasping and trembling, on a horse blanket on the softest patch of ground they could find. Hogun had cut away his leggings to reveal the horrid wound on his thigh, where he had been bitten after falling into the adder’s nest, and Volstagg was doing his best to massage both water and the strongest liquor they had down Loki’s throat, to help him bear what was to come.

“We were fools to venture so far without preparation or supplies,” Volstagg muttered bitterly.

Despite his simmering panic, Thor felt for the fat warrior. He was the eldest of all of them, a married man with a family, and though no one would ever call Volstagg a coward, he was typically second only to Loki in his caution when venturing outside of the Realm Eternal. Of course he would take some of the blame on himself for Loki’s accident and injury.

Especially if Loki died.

“We have to cut this out,” Hogun said bluntly, pressing at the rapidly graying flesh with quick, experienced fingers. No one thought to contradict him – Loki had been bitten by Vanir adders, after all, and only the prince’s quick reflexes and terrified teleportation spell had saved him from being savaged to death by the whole nest of them. “Another few minutes and he will lose his leg.” He looked up at Thor. “Another fifteen minutes and he will be dead.”

“Hurry,” Thor barked.

They hauled Loki onto the table. He cried out when they touched him, shrieked when his back hit the table, and then shook so violently that he nearly fell to the ground again.

“Someone hold him,” Hogun growled.

Thor stepped forward, shouldering both Volstagg and Fandral aside, and planted his hands on Loki’s chest. “Cut quickly,” he said, and closed his eyes to Loki’s screams.

Chapter Text

There were too many dead to have only one night of funerals. For days after Lorelei’s defeat, the pyres floated away from the city and over the edge of the world, carrying thousands of Asgard's finest and bravest warriors into glory in the golden halls of Valhalla. The normally shining, gleaming buildings were draped in black banners, and the heads of the women and the shoulders of the men were all bowed and cloaked in a dark, weary heaviness that went beyond the black fabric they had cloaked themselves in.

To Sif, it seemed as if the entire realm, and all of the Nine Realms, were shrouded in mourning.

No one in the royal family had seen Loki since Lorelei’s final stand, on Muspelheim. Something had happened, during the battle, to incapacitate the prince, and his bodyguard had brought him back slung over her shoulders. Since then, he had refused all contact with family, friends, even servants – he would see no one.

“It must be a fine thing, to be a prince,” she said, from her perch on the marble railing of his balcony. “To be able to shut yourself away whenever something hurts you, and hide your grief.”

Loki glared at her with bloodshot eyes that had plainly not known sleep in weeks. “Get out.”

“We got your brother back,” Sif continued, as though he had not spoken. “It was a near thing, though. A very near thing.”

“Yes. So the king informed me. And no thanks to me. He’s already made me aware of that, as well, so you can save your breath, Lady Sif. I already know the general opinion as to my uselessness and cowardice, I do not need to hear your undoubtedly very detailed and specific thoughts on the matter as well. Now get out of my chamber, before I call the Einherjar to...” The threat choked and died in his throat, and he turned away.

Sif slipped from the balustrade and came to stand behind him. “I know you, Loki,” she said quietly, “and I know that you would never have countenanced me and the Warriors Three riding off to rescue Thor and bring Lorelei to justice without you, if you had been able to join us.” He did not respond, but there was a tell-tale trembling of his shoulders that threatened to shatter all of Sif's carefully-held composure. “If you had not been struck down by grief.”

Loki drew an unsteady breath, and when he spoke again, there were tears in his voice. “Who told you?” he asked hoarsely. “Was it Sigyn?”

“She told me nothing, nor did anyone else. But... it is not hard to see that you mourn for someone.” Sif laid a tentative hand on his slender shoulder. “As do I.” She took a deep breath of her own, refusing to give way to tears. Not yet. “Haldor is dead.” Loki turned slowly, an expression of horror on his pale, wet face. “We... could not save him.” Sif focused on Loki’s pain, his astonishment and dismay. It was easier than remembering what had happened to her betrothed. “He was too far gone.”

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, beginning to tremble. “I never thought it would come to this. I should have... I’m sorry, Sif. I’m... why have you come to me?”

Unsure if she was doing a wise thing, but at least sure it was the right thing for that moment, Sif drew him closer. She wiped the tears from his face and kissed his lips. It was a restrained caress, but she could feel the want humming under her own skin. “I need, for one night, for you to pretend that I mean something to you. Something more than a shield-friend to trade barbs with. I need to feel... that someone cares whether I am alive or dead.”

“But... Thor? Surely he—”

“I traded Haldor’s life for your brother’s. I can’t go to him for this... I can’t.”

Loki let out a helpless little sound and slid his fingers into Sif’s hair. “Then I am here,” he promised softly.

Chapter Text

Fandral eyed the prince with ill-concealed worry. The diplomatic summit was only in its first day, and Loki was putting on a brave face, but it was clear that his energy was already beginning to flag. He watched like a hawk while Loki made his charming, courteous way through the sea of ambassadors, doing the job the Allfather had sent him to do: promote Asgard’s interests, remind the realms of the bounties and beneficence of the Realm Eternal, and secure promises of loyalty from the more recalcitrant factions in Vanaheim and Ljosalfheim.

All of which Loki was singularly well-equipped to do, but Norns, was this conference ill-timed. They had all only just returned from their disastrous adventures in Myrkheim, and Loki was in no way recovered from his injuries, no matter what he had told Odin.

“Ancestors,” Loki wheezed, some hours later, after Fandral had helped him to his fine guest room, where Loki had taken two steps on his own and promptly crashed to the bed. “I think I’m dying.”

“Possibly,” said Fandral mildly. He poured wine for them both. “And it would serve you right. Why did you tell the Allfather that you were well enough to come along on this endeavor?”

Loki snatched the goblet from his friend’s hand. “Because I am,” he snapped, and then drank the wine thirstily.

“Mhmm. How are the ribs?”

“Oh, fuck you.”

“Not in that condition, you’re not.” Fandral sipped his own wine with a thoughtful frown, while Loki dropped his goblet to the flagstones with a clang and flopped back on the bed. “Sincerely now. How do you feel?”

“Like I’ve been crushed under a very heavy building made of solid rock.”

“Well, that is what happened, so I’m not especially surprised.” Sitting down on the edge of the overstuffed mattress, Fandral pushed away Loki’s protesting hands and gently unbuckled the heavy formal armor, lifting it off to allow the prince to breathe more easily. “You might – perhaps – want to rethink lying directly to the king’s face in future,” he advised, wincing at the sight of Loki’s abraded, darkly bruised torso. “You should be home in bed, recovering. You nearly died, if you’ll recall.”

“I’m trying very hard not to recall, and you’re not helping with that. And I didn’t lie to Father, I never said I was completely well. I simply said that I was well enough to attend the summit in his place.”

Fandral chewed the end of his mustache for a moment. “You don’t have to pretend that everything is all right,” he said quietly. “Not with me.”

Loki looked at him for a moment with hooded eyes, and then the aloofness disappeared, replace by a mask of pain. “Everything hurts, Dash,” he whimpered.

With a curt nod, Fandral rose to fetch cool water, clean clothes and ointment from his satchel, and stronger wine from the sideboard.

It oughtn’t to have come to this, he thought to himself, as he cleansed and bandaged Loki’s aching chest and ribs. He knew damned well that Odin had planned to attend the summit, in person, up until the moment he was told of Loki’s condition. And it was entirely in-keeping with Odin’s character to want to test his clever younger son’s dedication to the diplomatic role he was being groomed for by tempting Loki with a chance to display his abilities. And entirely in-keeping with Loki’s character to jump at the opportunity like a starving dog to a bone, without even questioning his father’s motivations.

And Fandral, who was a good eight hundred years older than either of his princely cousins, had a certain distance from his uncle the king’s affections that allowed him a degree of objectivity that neither Thor nor Loki possessed.

“There are another three days of this,” he pointed out, when he had finished, and the sweat droplets stood out on Loki’s forehead from the strain of not crying out as he worked. “Do you think you can bear it?”

“I’ll have to,” Loki gasped, letting his head thud against the pillow. “I can’t let Father down.”

Fandral’s lips tightened, but he said nothing. Loyalty to a king, that he understood. But not having had much of a father himself, well… he was ambivalent about them, in general.

He started to rise, but was arrested by Loki’s hand on his arm, tugging him back down.

“I’m glad you’re with me, Dash,” the prince muttered, pressing a tired kiss to his lips. “I don’t think I could stand anyone else right now.”

Fandral smiled and kissed him back. “Get some rest, Trickster.” But inwardly, he was worried. Three more days… he’s not going to make it.

Chapter Text

Ljosalfheim was beautiful in summer. Of course, it was always summer in Ljosalfheim; the Light Elves could not be bothered with ‘lesser seasons’. The days were warm, the nights were cool, there was always food and drink flowing in abundance, and in the evenings after the day’s adventuring and politicking was done, the carousing would start and never seem to stop.

In fact, to Sif, it often felt like the nights simply grew longer, to accommodate the feasting and the fighting, the merry drinking, the singing and flyting and trysting.

In former years she had gladly taken advantage of that. Now, she longed merely for dawn, or at least an excuse to slink off to some opulent bed, and sleep.

An empty bed, more than likely.

As she stood on the veranda, gazing up at the Ljosalfar stars, she became so lost in thought that she did not notice the man creeping quietly up behind her until he had wrapped his great arms around her middle. “Do you tire of revelry so soon?” Thor rumbled, resting his chin on her head.

Sif flushed absurdly, and for a moment she felt a hot stab of wounded pride that anyone should have been able to sneak up on her so. “I think I am perennially tired of elven revels,” she said, when she could speak to her king without snapping. “Even drunk, they are too elegant for my comfort.”

“Mm.” Thor pressed a kiss to her hair, and Sif had to work hard not to shiver. Their arrangement, whatever it was, was still new and raw, and she could not fit pretty words to any of the turbulent things she felt when Thor held and kissed her so. “You will enjoy parties on Midgard, then. They only pretend at elegance. Once they’re in their cups, they’re as prone to brawling as you or I, and as prone to bawling as Loki.”

Sif had to snort at that. But the mention of Earth raised her guard. “I was looking at the stars, and missing home,” she confessed. “And wondering how long this would last.”

“How long what will last?”

“This. You and I. We stumbled into bed together as a balm for our hurts, and the hope I’ve long nursed… but I know your heart is given elsewhere. You should return to Jane Foster, when we reach Midgard.”

“Mm,” said Thor again. “And what of my hopes?”

Sif frowned and turned in his arms. His eye rested on her with a shy ardor that made her breath stutter.

“I won’t go where I’m not wanted,” said Thor, with only a touch of sadness in his voice. “Jane is brilliant and will shake the foundations of her world one day… but I have given my heart into your charge already, and it is well-loved there. And I’ve seen enough planets shaken to their core for one lifetime.”

Sif lifted a hand to his face, and ran her fingers over the short beard and the small scars around his eye patch and the lines that the burden of kingship was already carving into his brow. “Shall we return to the feast?” she asked, her voice remarkably steady for the emotions humming in her bones.

Thor kissed her fingers and shook his head. “Let’s just look at the stars for a while.”

Chapter Text

"I lost him again!" Loki wailed. "Amma, help me!"

Frigga sighed and let the healing spell that she had been practicing dissipate. How was it possible that her son kept misplacing his pet?

She had thought from the beginning that the wolf pup would be more trouble than he was really worth, but Fenrir had been a gift from Odin from one of his own pet wolves, and Loki had been so overwhelmed and delighted that he had immediately devoted himself to the tiny puppy's care.

The greatest problem thus far was that Fenrir was so very small (a small boy himself, Loki got very angry at anyone who dared to call Fenrir a runt), that it was surprisingly difficult to keep track of him. He got into the oddest little holes and crevasses, and then, unlike every other canine that had ever crossed Frigga's path, he did not howl indignantly untl someone came to get him out.

Which mean, if Fenrir had escaped from under Loki's sight again... he could be anywhere.

The queen steeled herself for another afternoon of searching, then turned to face her worried son. “There now, it will be all right,” she began. “We will--” Frigga blinked, and then she smiled. “Loki?”

He looked at her with wide, frantic eyes.

“Turn around. Very slowly.”

The boy frowned but did as he was told, and then exclaimed in delight. “Fenrir!” He scooped the little gray-and-black pup up swiftly into his arms. “Were you there the whole time?”

Frigga laughed as the puppy licked his master's face happily. “He was keeping close to your heels,” she said, glad that the search had ended before it had begun, “like the faithful hound that he is.”

Chapter Text

“Might I have a word, Captain?”

Captain Sigyn Styrkarrsdottir of the Queen's personal guard looked up from her reading in some surprise at the voice. “Of course, highness.” She rose and made her respects to the prince, and bade Prince Thor enter her office and be welcome.

The tall, fair firstborn of Odin was as cordial and easy-going as always, and blithely accepted the ale she offered him, but he seemed oddly distracted. “I hope I do not take you away from some important duty.”

“All my duties are important,” she reminded him dryly, “though most are more tedious than exciting. Just now I was familiarizing myself with your mother's itinerary for her trip to Ljosalfheim next week.”

Thor made a face. Sigyn knew why, of course; he had wanted to go, as he always wished to go whenever his mother or father traveled to another realm, be it for royal business or mere pleasure. But Loki had won in the drawing of lots this time, and would be accompanying Frigga. However, as befit her station, she kept her amusement out of her expression. “Is that why you wished to see me?”

“Well, if you were feeling generous, you might put in a good word for me with Mother...”

“A good word for you is a word against your brother, and he did win the drawing fairly.”

“I'm not so sure of that,” Thor grumbled, but good-naturedly.

“I am,” Sigyn returned, her bright blue eyes twinkling, “as I held the lots. Now, my prince, what is on your mind?”

“Oh, can a man not simply visit with a valued member of his household?”

“You are nowhere near the liar that your brother is, and even he can't lie to my face and get away with it. Thor, I have know both you and Loki since you were in swaddling clothes, and you have not been in this chamber these three hundred years past.” She perched on the edge of her desk. “Something vexes you. And as you have come to me, I must assume that this has to do with Loki.”

Thor colored up strangely and took a deep draught of his ale. “Captain... is Loki... well... I saw him with one of the Einherjar. Harald, I think he is called.”

“Ah. ...And? Surely that is no shock to you, at this late date.”

“No, it is not that, specifically. Only that I saw... rather more than I had intended to, or wished to.”

Sigyn raised an eyebrow. “Well, that is certainly an awkward situation in which to find yourself,” she said neutrally, still not quite understanding his concerns, “but why come to me? Surely Lord Fandral would have been more commisserating in the matter of two men coupling—”

“But Loki was not a man!” Thor blurted out, and then turned bright red, right to the roots of his yellow hair.

“...Oh.” Sigyn rubbed her forehead and quietly cursed her lot in life. “Oh, that.”

“Then you knew of this... this preference of his?”

“It's all right?” Loki asked, every muscle in her neck taut with the strain of revealing herself to her teacher. “This isn't... unnatural?”

A cruel hand squeezed Sigyn's heart. The poor confused boy, now a girl, so doomed to go through life with so little understanding of who or what they were. Sigyn knew, from her clandestine trips into Jotunheim, that it was not unusual for Frost Giants to possess a certain fluidity of gender, and she knew from personal experience that it wasn't unheard of for Asgardians to experience the same. But she also knew full well what Odin Allfather would say if he discovered that his adopted child was even more ergi than he already thought.

“Not unnatural at all,” she assured her student, squeezing her hand.

“And... you won't tell Father? Or Mother?”

“I will keep your secrets, Loki,” Sigyn vowed.

“I know something of it,” she said carefully, “yes. And now so do you.”

Thor opened his mouth to retort without thinking, as was his wont, but then something made him stop. He looked down into his ale cup, chewing on the inside of his cheek as he turned over in his mind what he had seen. “What do I do?” he asked, at last. “If I say nothing of this to Loki, I know he will find out somehow. Not from you!” he said hastily. “He simply has... ways! Of finding things out!”

Sigyn's lips twitched. “Indeed he does,” she agreed. And he learned many of them from me. “I think,” she said, after a moment, “that you should go to him, and tell him simply. And then let him decide what he needs from you.”

Chapter Text

Slowly, the Avengers picked themselves up from the forest floor and made their bloodied, numbed way towards the city. The warriors of this place, wherever they were, tended to their dead and wounded in a kind of dazed shock. The rabbit, distraught over the loss of the tree, fled into the woods.

Thor could well understand all these reactions. The first blow was always the worst. Soon would come the realization of loss, the grieving, the renewed determination to destroy their foe.

He felt none of it anymore. He had failed, after all his trials, and he was tired.

Steve Rogers was the only one left, still sitting in the uncomfortable twisted position he had crumpled into upon the loss of his friend. He looked as though the very heart had been torn out of him.

Thor understood that, as well.

He left his mighty ax, his king's weapon, where it had fallen, useless in the first, and moved to Steve's side. When the captain did not look up, Thor sighed and lowered himself to the ground, half-expecting to see tears on his friend's face. But there was nothing. The burden of his loss was too great.

Steve glanced at him, seeing him and yet not. “I tried. I tried so hard, I tried everything, to keep him safe. And now just...” His fingers curled into the flakes of brown ash that had been his metal-armed friend. “Nothing. Everything. It's all been for nothing.”

From very far away, Thor heard a voice – his own – roaring in outrage at such shameful giving up. This phantom Thor was shouting at the top of his lungs to reject that declaration, and insisting that they would rally again, they could still defeat Thanos, perhaps even find a way to bring back those they had lost to the Gauntlet.

But what of those simply lost?

Thor had no words to offer Steve, either of encouragement or of comfort. He had failed Steve's friend. And Steve. He had failed all of them.

“I wish I could weep,” Thor murmured, putting his arm around Steve's shoulders and venturing to press a kiss into his hair. “But I have nothing left.”

Steve nodded, and then he turned pressed his face into the hard shoulder guard of Thor's armor.

Chapter Text

“Do what you like with me tonight, brother.”

Loki blinked. “Are you serious?”

“Entirely. I’m tired, it has been a very long year away on royal business and I’ve missed you. I want you and sleep, in that order.”

That put a smirk on Loki’s face, and it remained there despite the increasingly heated kisses and the shedding of clothes and the roaming of hands. “Pick a number.”

“What?”

“Pick a number. Preferably between one and ten, but I can probably manage higher.”

Thor wasn’t entirely sure he liked the sound of this, but he had missed Loki and was willing to play along. “Uh... nine?”

“Nine it is,” Loki purred, the light of mischief bright in his eyes, and almost pounced on Thor.

“Well?” Loki asked later, after he had fucked his brother into the mattress and made him orgasm nine times in the space of perhaps an hour. “Was that what you were missing?”

“Mmm.” Damn him to Hel, he sounded only a little breathless, while Thor was over-sensitized and sore and so thoroughly wrung out of cum that his last few climaxes had been little more than spasms. “It’s a very good thing,” he mumbled, his face half-mashed into Loki’s pillow, “that I don’t go away from you more often, brother.”

Loki chuckled and tugged fondly at Thor’s sweaty hair. “Agreed. You wouldn’t survive many more welcomes like this.”

Chapter Text

Amidst the celebrations both wild and somber, Thor saw Loki slip away from the festivities, and worried for his brother. Even though he knew Loki had never been a man to seek out drunken feasting for its own sake, surely in this case, he should want to remain a little longer.

He caught Valkyrie's eye and jerked his chin at the door in a silent query. She nodded once and frowned; yes, she had seen Loki's departure as well. Inwardly, Thor's worry grew. But he shook his head in response to the unspoken question in her raised eyebrow. He would follow Loki himself.

The Wakandan palace was of a strange and beautiful design, easy for a foreigner to get lost in, and once or twice Thor had to address himself to the guards and ask if anyone had espied an unspeaking figure in green and black pass by. Most of the guards had seen nothing (which was not a slight against their skills; Loki was as adept at not being seen as he was at making his presence known), but finally one woman, one of the Dora Milaje tasked with keeping drunken revelers out of the royal family's quarters, told him what he needed to know.

"The sad-looking white boy with the greasy hair? Yes, he went that way." She gestured with her spear. "Towards the promenade."

Thor thanked her and went where she pointed, struggling to hide his giggle at that description of his brother. Loki's hair had been the bane of his existence, in their boyhood.

The corridor widened out and then opened onto a broad, flat expanse of glittering white granite and smooth silvery metal. Glinting energy shields curved up high over the head, allowing for an unfettered view of the night sky above, full of riotous stars, and the brilliant multicolored city below.

Even this high up, the sounds of singing and music and joy rose to find the ear, and for a moment, Thor was back on Asgard. Back home, walking through the windowless long galleries that linked the towers of the palace and listening to the singing and carousing in the feasting halls below.

He blinked back tears and scanned the promenade for his brother.

Loki was a black blot on the white stone, lying on his back, and for one terrified second, Thor thought he had been attacked, or that he might have done something drastic—

Then his chest rose and fell, and a hitching sound carried to Thor’s ears. He rubbed the back of his neck briefly in embarrassment and thought about backing away, to give Loki space in which to weep in private. But... if he had wanted privacy, would not his quarters have been better?

Thor thought for another moment, and then walked slowly to Loki’s side, making no attempt to quiet his footsteps, and laid down on his back beside Loki on the stone.

“Brother,” said Loki, eventually, not turning his head.

“Your absence was noticed,” Thor told him. “Valkyrie wanted to come and find you.”

“Thank you for stopping her.”

“Are you injured, or ill? Or... did you simply want some time alone?”

“I’m always alone.”

“No,” said Thor softly. “Not always. Not anymore.”

Loki drew in a long breath, and let it out slowly. He did this twice more before he spoke again. “I’d hoped it would be you who followed me,” he murmured. “I’ve barely gotten a moment alone with you, and...” He let out a choking sort of laugh. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

Thor glanced over and saw the tears streaming down Loki’s cheeks.

“You could have just asked.”

“I... didn’t know how.” The corner of his mouth twitched. “And you know how it is about asking for things.”

“Better to beg forgiveness, eh, brother?”

“Mmm… do you?”

“Always.” Thor nudged Loki’s fist with the back of his own, and gazed thoughtfully up at the stars. “And I’m here now.”

Chapter Text

Steve gave up on fiddling with the motel room’s belligerent air conditioner and climbed back into bed. “No luck,” he said to his companion. “It’s stuck on cold. Full-blast.”

“It’s no bother to me. But I know you find this sort of temperature uncomfortable.”

It was more unnerving than uncomfortable, but Steve was feeling far too mellowed to want to argue semantics. “You’ll just have to keep me warm,” he teased, snuggling close.

“So that’s why you like me,” replied Loki with a smirk. “For my glorious body heat. I knew it had to be something impressive to attract the attention of Captain America – my apologies, the former Captain America,” he added, when Steve flicked an annoyed glance up at him.

“I’m still trying to wrap my head around something called a Frost Giant being this hot to the touch…” Steve stretched up an inch or so to swipe his tongue along the line of Loki’s neck, eliciting a low, helpless little moan. “And I’ve told you before: it’s no one thing.”

He wrapped his arms more tightly around Loki’s waist and pressed his chest and groin against Loki’s side.

Loki hesitated, and then laid his hand on Steve’s hair, combing through the dark brown strands with deft fingers. “We should at least discuss it,” he said reluctantly. “Your… colleagues will want an explanation, and it would be as well to be able to tell them something.”

Steve smiled against Loki’s pectoral muscle. “Listen to you, wanting to be honest and upfront with people.”

“I only lie when it is convenient. That simply happens to be most of the time. But not, I think, this time.” Loki tucked his free hand behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and concentrated lightly, sending a piece of his consciousness out into the wider world. “They are worried about you,” he said when he returned to himself, ten or so minutes later. “Natasha and Sam, in particular. And Bucky, of course. Although I think he is less worried and more…”

Steve lifted his head, frowning. “More what?”

“Oh, more simply missing your company. And worried that you are getting your arse beaten in a back alley somewhere, without him to watch your back.”

He felt Steve relax against him, felt the silent chuckle that rippled through him and into Loki. It was a delicious feeling, the sensation of someone’s laugh.

He hated to ruin the moment. “Steve.”

“Hmm?”

“You mentioned, some time ago, that you wanted to keep this between us for a time, to enjoy the secrecy and the newness.”

Something shifted in Steve’s expression. His eyes went from guarded but playful to guarded and sad. “It… sorry. I just… wasn’t ready to share this. To share you.”

“Ohhh,” Loki purred, deep and warm in his throat, “and believe me, I have been more than happy to be your dirty little secret.” Steve started to protest at the description, but before he could get so much as a word out, Loki pulled his head down and kissed him, all wet mouth and insistent tongue, with an energy and an earnestness that shot down Steve’s frame, back up and into Loki.

“You’re not,” Steve insisted, when he reluctantly pushed Loki away in favor of a few gulps of air. “Not dirty. Not… wrong.”

“Are you sure? Because I have sometimes wondered if the only reason you like me is because you’re not supposed to. After all,” Loki added, his hand in Steve’s hair a little firmer now, tugging just a bit, “none of the other Avengers know I’m still alive, not yet. Thor hasn’t told them, and you, well, when have you had time? And you haven’t been able to give me a single reason why you decided to initiate this little… arrangement.”

Steve bit back most of a moan and almost managed not to grind himself against Loki’s hip.

“Because if it’s just the sex, I have no problems with that. After my last such situation, you are an absolute balm to my soul.” Loki’s eyes darkened briefly, then he shook his head. “But I would like to know where I stand with you now. It will make a difference later, when your associates invariably discover my continued existence.”

“Renewed existence,” Steve corrected cheekily, and was rewarded with a sharp tug on his hair.

“Pedantic tonight, aren’t you…”

“Must be the company I’m keeping.” Steve’s jaw tensed for a second. “Do you want it to be just sex?”

“I suppose that depends entirely on you. Why are we doing this in the first place, Captain Rogers? Why are we still doing this?”

Steve groped for an answer, but didn’t have much luck – he wasn’t even sure what Loki was looking for. “I told you already,” he said at last, feeling his cheeks and ears beginning to burn, “it’s – it’s no one thing.”

He shook off Loki’s hand and buried his face in his neck instead.

After a moment, he felt Loki’s hands again, on his back and shoulders this time, stroking lightly.

Chapter Text

“I think he’s coming round.”

Loki… Loki? How is… am I dead?

No, not dead. In a slow trickle, the memories came back. The final battle with Thanos, the sudden and unexpected appearance of Stark and a very angry blue cyborg on the field, the even more sudden and unexpected appearance of a band of exhausted and pissed-off Asgardians soon after them, led by Loki, of all people - Loki, who had tricked them all once again and made his grandest return from the dead ever.

And at the height of Thor’s bloodthirsty delight, something hard cracked down on his head, and he knew no more.

“Lo… Loki?” Something cold and wet touched the side of his head. It stung. “Ah, fuck!”

“Hey, hey, easy. Don’t swat at me when I’m tryin’ to help you.”

Thor opened his eyes - his eye, the artificial one did not seem to be working - and smiled. “Thank you, sweet rabbit.”

“…Thor, that’s… He’s not a rabbit–ow!”

“Shut up, Lackey, this is no time for your fucking pedantry.”

Thor smiled. “Hello, Valkyrie.” He raised his arm from the pallet and she gripped his wrist firmly. “We won.”

“We did.” She had a scorch mark across her forehead and a bandage on the side of her throat, and she looked exhausted. But she was alive.

And Loki was standing beside her, looking smug and full of mischief and utterly unconcerned about the relief written all over his face.

“We won,” Valkyrie repeated. “Yeah…”

Thor frowned. There was something about her tone… “What? What? Is there something else?”

Loki and Valkyrie traded a glance. It was not a serious glance. In Thor’s opinion, slightly addled though it was, it looked almost… mischievous. “We’ve got a surprise for you,” Loki announced.

“I hate surprises,” Thor groaned. Then he reconsidered. “Except surprise fellatio. I like that.”

“What the hell is ‘fellatio’?” Rocket asked, while Valkyrie rolled her eyes.

“It’s a fancy word for a blowjob.”

“Oh, whoa, dude,” said Rocket, backing away and shaking his head. “Too much info.”

“That clout on the head must have destroyed your small allotment of good manners, brother. That’s not normally something you’d say aloud. But it’s definitely not a blowjob.” Loki grinned. “Not that you’re in any condition to enjoy one right now. Still, it might make your head feel better. Could be worth a try, at least…”

“Loki,” said a familiar voice from outside Thor’s field of view, “you’ve teased him enough.”

This time, Thor genuinely did doubt his senses, because that voice ought to have been gone beyond all hope of return… “Sif? Sif?!”

He sat up sharply and his vision tilted and swam so badly that his stomach turned over, but though her outline was hazy, it was her. Thor reached out and she took his hands.

“I’m here, Thor. Your Majesty,” she added, with grief and humor warring in her voice.

“But how? How? Asgard–”

“I wasn’t on Asgard.” Sif gripped his hands tightly. “I was away on royal business. When I tried to return home…” She swallowed, her hazel eyes gone dark with remembrances. “I’d been trying to catch up with all of you since Ragnarok. Then I heard the distress call.”

Thor frowned and turned to Valkyrie. “Then…?”

“She came to our aid, after Thanos attacked. If it wasn’t for her, there wouldn’t be any of us left.”

“Not even me,” Loki added dryly. “And wouldn’t that have been a tragedy?”

Valkyrie punched him in the arm again, but Thor didn’t notice. He had wrapped his arms around Sif’s waist and buried his face in her neck, crying with relief.

Chapter Text

Royal training came in handy at the strangest of times. If Loki hadn’t spent most of his life as a prince, attending boring court functions and being part of long, tedious military campaigns, he wouldn’t have known how to force himself to keep going, to direct the escaping gladiators onto The Statesman, to quickly single out the ones who had some knowledge of piloting and navigation and put them at the helm, and to do everything possible to keep himself upright and in charge until it was safe for him to collapse.

He’d learned all of that, at the same time as Thor. No one had ever expected him to use those skills, least of all himself.

He sat slumped in a corridor, his back to the wall, trying to ignore the vibrations of the ship as it passed through the Devil’s Anus. (He couldn’t even fault the Sakaarians for that particular bit of vulgarity; he’d heard worse nicknames for things from Asgardian soldiers all his life. To say nothing of their nicknames for himself…) He couldn’t even begin to contemplate what might await them on Asgard. All he wanted at that moment was to not vomit all over the deck plating, and maybe find a corner where he could curl into a ball until the shivery, feverish waves stopped pummeling him.

“Hey man, you okay? You, you don’t look so hot.”

Loki rolled his head back and raised an exhausted eyebrow at the Kronan gladiator. “I just spent the fuck knows how long with this thing on my neck–” He held up the obedience disc. “–frying me from the inside out. Precisely how am I supposed to look?”

“All right, then, you do look so hot. You look very hot. I might even say, overheated.”

“You might, yes.” Loki gave up trying to look intimidating and dropped his head back between his knees. “I don’t handle heat well.”

“You need a hand?”

Loki tried to answer, but the ship chose that moment to slam into a passing gravity swell and he pitched forward.

When his vision stopped swimming, he was sitting slumped against the corner of a sofa in one of the Stateman’s lounges (he couldn’t remember how many there were). The lights in the room were mercifully dim and when he felt the jet of cool air from the vents, he could have cried.

“No,” he said, though, when Korg tried to hand him a glass of something. He was very much not having anymore glasses of something for a very long time. “I’m fine.” He sat up slowly, clenching his teeth and his jaw and every muscle in his upper torso. He needed to be in something at least resembling fighting trim when he got to Asgard, and that meant overcoming the heat-induced nausea and not vomiting up everything he’d consumed in the past day… mostly alcohol, which wasn’t helping with the nausea very much.

“Is this what ‘fine’ looks like for your species? I’d hate to see what 'kicked in the teeth’ looks like.”

“That depends on which species you mean,” Loki muttered.

“Half-breed, eh? That’s rough, buddy.”

“Adopted, actually,” Loki almost said. It was an automatic response, ingrained and bitter.

But he wasn’t sure it really mattered anymore.

“Are we still on-course?”

“Yeah, as far as I know. Where’re we headin’, anyway?”

“Asgard.”

“Asgard? Hey, that’s where Thor’s from! You’re from there, too? D'you know each other?”

Loki leaned back against the couch cushions, stretching to feel more of the cool air on his face. He caught sight of an ice bucket on the side table and grabbed a clumsy handful, and rubbed the ice cubes over his gasping skin.

“You could say that. Thor is my brother. And we’re going to Asgard to help him.”

The rock giant’s eyes went wide. “Yeah? Wow, that’s - hey, Ghost, c'mon, you’d better have a little water, at least.”

“'Ghost’? How ominous. And potentially prophetic.”

“Those discs’ll fry your brains out, if you’re not careful.”

“It hardly matters, at this point. I don’t matter.” But Loki slipped a half-melted piece of ice into his mouth, tucking it in-between his cheek and his teeth to let it dissolve there. “But there are people on Asgard who do matter, so I suppose I need to not collapse and die just yet.”

Korg smiled serenely. “That’s the spirit!”

Chapter Text

Many nights, as Thor slept, in his solitary stateroom in the palace of Wakanda, his arms automatically reached for someone who was not there.

And that lack would jolt him into a state that was neither waking nor sleeping, steal his breath away and leave him gasping and clawing at the invisible hand around his throat, as though he had been the one strangled by the Titan, and not Loki.

And Thor would fight the night terror, as he had once fought Dark Elves and draugr, with the phantom of his brother at his side, until he lay shivering in bed, drenched in a cold sweat.

He had no tears left to weep, for Loki. There had been too many tears. If only he could forget the manner of Loki’s death… of all of his deaths. If only…

If only Loki could be there, in the bed, when Thor reached out to hold him.

Although… truthfully… in the past, when he had been there, he had rarely stayed in Thor’s bed long enough to be held…

“There’s only one thing I want from your embraces, brother,” Loki said, in between kisses that were more teeth than tenderness, “and that is not gentle hands and sweet words. Not that you would know sweet words if they bit you on the–ah!”

Thor might not have the silver tongue that Loki had been born with, but it was a talented tongue nonetheless, and if he could not speak with the charm and eloquence of a poetical trickster, he had tricks enough of his own to make his brother lose all semblance of speech.

There were others, for each of them. Neither of the sons of Odin were made to keep to one bed. But they always returned to one another, growling and kicking over their traces, laughing at their own predictability and jeering at one another’s insatiable hunger.

“Can’t get enough, can you,” Thor taunted, his muscles straining to hold back from coming, though Loki was doing everything possible to torment the cock pounding him into the mattress. “You always say you’ve had your fill, but you always come back–”

Loki arched his back and laughed, squeezing Thor with every ounce of strength in his beautiful lean sweat-plastered body. A sudden thunderbolt clapped over the palace, out of the blue, drowning out the strangled roar of the elder prince of Asgard.

“I’m not the one who always leaves in the morning,” Loki teased back, twisting his fingers into Thor’s wet blond hair, as his brother slumped over, panting, against Loki’s chest, “stealing away like a thief in the night, as though you were ashamed of the taste of me on your lips.”

Thor looked up with a shaky grin, intending to make some jest about Loki’s irrestable flavour – and then the expression in those green eyes like stained glass stopped the joke in his throat.

“Ashamed, brother?” Thor murmured, reaching up to curl his hand around the side of Loki’s neck. “Never. But you would not have me back, if I told all the realm that you prefer my cock over that of any other warrior… and that I rate all of your charms, both male and female, over those of any other being.”

“Possibly not,” said Loki after a moment, blinking away a sudden shimmer. “But I would certainly not object to being told such things in private…”

Thor banished the sweet boyhood memory and turned to a more recent seduction, the night they had fled from the ruins of Asgard. Their first night on the Statesman. Their last night…

“How can you possibly still want this?” Loki gasped, his breath a desperate hitching moan in response to Thor’s oral exploration of his chest and stomach. “After everything I’ve–”

“Loki,” the king chided, his remaining eye as dark as a storm cloud. “Only say that you do not want this, and I will stop. Otherwise… is it so hard to believe that I have missed you? That I still want you?”

“Well, you did choose Jane Foster over me. But I suppose as that’s all done with now, you at least have me to fall back on–oh, fuck…”

Thor swallowed his cock down with practiced aplomb and silenced his nonsense for a good five minutes.

“You never… could get enough of the taste of me,” Loki murmured, breathing hard as he came down from his orgasm. He reached down to wipe a bit of his own cum from the corner of Thor’s mouth. “You always say you’ve had your fill, but…”

“Come back to me, brother,” Thor murmured gruffly, as silent tears soaked his pillow. Not so done weeping for Loki, then. “You’ve cheated death before. We’ve defeated death together. Play your greatest trick one last time, and come back to me. I swear, there will be no more hiding, no more shame, no more… The sun will shine upon us both, you have my word, if you will only come back.

“You always come back…”