Thor could not remember the first time he’d held Loki by the neck, and he was quite sure that even his brother, with his frightening memory, would have been unable to trace its origin – it would have been, to either of them, like being asked to recall their first breath, or their first steps.
It was a molecule of them. An atom.
When Thor’s eyes landed on his brother, his hand followed them, like thunder after lightning, like his brother after him and him after his brother.
He could, however, remember the first time the hand preceded a kiss – a kiss quite inappropriate for two brothers to share, but so natural when they had leaned into it that it did not occur to them they needed to be grateful for the tall bushes blocking off the garden from the road until after they’d parted for breath.
They had barely been men. In some ways, they had been growing apart.
When Thor, drunk from the mead he’d had at the day's festival, had reached for Loki it was like an attempt to pull his brother back to him.
And Loki had come, guided by the hand, had turned and invaded Thor’s space and their mouths had found a way to commune.
Loki arched beneath him when Thor pushed inside, and Thor was only inspired by this response to pursue the joining of their bodies all the harder and more urgently.
Loki grabbed at Thor’s shoulders and Thor grabbed Loki’s neck. Loki caressed Thor gently and Thor did the same to Loki.
Loki dug his nails into Thor’s skin hard, breaking it, and Thor hissed and squeezed Loki’s throat.
His brother writhed at that, and gasped as best he could with no air to inflate the sound.
The pace of Thor’s hips was punishing, though he could not have said what it was he was taking justice for. Loki rocked into each thrust, his cock bobbing and his face pained.
It was Loki’s throat that was constricted, but Thor was in a haze that did not clear until he came down from the high of his orgasm.
There was a very slight bruise forming on Loki’s neck, and though it wouldn't last long, Thor felt guilty.
“I'm sorry,” Thor whispered to him.
“For what?” Loki asked sleepily.
Thor slammed his brother back against the pillar, gripping him by the neck.
It had been instinctual to grab him that way, and now the old gesture was perverted just like the rest of their relationship had become – it had changed to suit their new needs, whether Thor accepted them or not. Would that please his brother? It certainly didn’t Thor. He ached.
Loki gaped like a fish. Thor was aware in that moment that it would have been all too easy to tighten his hand and crush Loki's windpipe.
Thor removed his hand like it had been scalded.
His brother watched its retreat intently, the look in his eyes too obscure for Thor to decipher, but Thor had to wonder if Loki had sensed his thoughts.
And he had to wonder, if his brother had, what he must have thought in response.
Loki had come back from the dead for the first time with brittle hair and hollow cheeks and a disordered mind.
He had come back from the dead a second time with wine staining his tongue – Thor had tasted it when he’d pulled him aside into an alcove in the throne room to demand more than answers from his brother.
He had come back from the dead a third time with the blood vessels in his eyes burst and the skin of his neck raw and pink. It remained red and angry long after the rest of Loki had returned to relative normalcy.
Thor did not dare touch it, even as he could not stop touching the rest of his brother.
Consciousness came slowly to Thor, but arousal flared to life immediately after it. He rolled over in bed and found his brother sleeping peacefully on his side.
Thor slung a leg over Loki’s hip and jerked them closer together.
Loki murmured in protest, but once he roused to the point of comprehension and realized why Thor woke him he smiled sleepily.
Thor’s heart felt so full, he reached for his brother’s neck, an old, briefly retired but never forgotten caress, without thinking.
They both jerked back at the same time.
“I’m… I…” Thor started.
Loki’s eyes were always strange, and his face often so as well, but then they were particularly so. “Quite alright, brother,” he mumbled, in a subdued tone that might have meant equally that it was not quite alright or that it was more than quite alright, and both possibilities frightened Thor.
His arm made an aborted gesture, reaching to touch his own neck, and then a complete one, reaching out for Thor.
They made love, and Thor was as gentle as he could stand to be.
The irritation that had possessed Loki – and thus tormented Thor – all day dogged them into bed that evening.
Loki undressed them both with little consideration for his own clothes and littler for Thor’s then bullied Thor down onto the bed and climbed on top of him in a pushy way that suggested he wanted Thor to roll them over and give Loki his due.
Thor did that, and for the first time all day his brother looked pleased, but he wasn’t satisfied.
He took Thor’s hand away from his scalp and tried to lower it to his neck, so Thor, confused and further incensed because of it, held both his brother’s wrists captive above his head. He moved his other hand all about his body – attending to his nipples, his cock, his flank, everywhere Loki liked save the one place, trying desperately to make it enough for Loki.
The next time Thor took Loki from behind, the urge to grab him by the front of his throat was strong, but Thor confined himself to tugging his hair, troubled by the idea, troubled by the suspicion that it was what Loki wanted.
It was a familiar game, Loki being unduly rough with Thor, in bed and out of it, physically and verbally, especially, until Thor snapped.
Familiar enough that he knew though his endurance was good it would not, in the end, outlast Loki’s challenge. Familiar enough that he knew how it ended, for it was always the same.
As soon as he jolted awake, heart pounding, Thor remembered his brother was not dead, but he still had to turn to see him, solid and alive and in bed beside him.
Loki must have been disturbed by Thor’s dream. He was rolled over on his side; his eyes were open, his face curious only for a second before he drew the right conclusion.
He reached for Thor’s hand and dragged it to his chest. Thor splayed his fingers out over Loki’s heart, steadying himself by taking deep breaths in time to its regular beats.
Then Loki’s grip on Thor’s hand became firmer, gently insistent but insistent all the same, not to be denied, and their joined hands skimmed Loki’s collarbone before Loki finished leading them to his neck.
His pulse was even and slow, relaxed but not sluggish, and eventually Thor was able to let out the breath he’d sucked in.
Loki’s eyelids drooped shut, and he fell back asleep like that, neck bracketed by Thor's hand
Eventually sleep came back to Thor, too, and this time it wasn’t fitful.
It was expected that right after his brother crawled atop him he would grab for Thor’s hand. Thor was waiting for it.
“Why do you persist?” Thor asked, desperate, mad.
Loki sat back on his heels. “Don’t you miss it, brother?”
Of course, Thor did – Loki knew the answer – but there were many things Thor missed, some never to be regained, and they were rebuilding and building anew enough to satisfy him.
But Loki wasn’t like that.
“It’s dangerous, what you’re asking for,” Thor said.
“Where’s your famed sense of adventure, brother?” Loki asked. It was a taunt and Thor sidestepped it. Loki would give him the truth when he exhausted trickery.
“Should I be glad you keep trying to force your life into my hands?” Thor asked him.
“Perhaps not, but I would rather it be there.”
“I don’t think I can do this for you,” Thor whispered. If he was wrong, Loki would prove it to him.
“Then who should take custody of it? Surely, I have proven myself too untrustworthy for its keeping? Too careless.”
His brother was right. He wanted to take it off Loki’s hands and into—well, his own, for he could take better care of Loki than Loki could, and he would.
Loki pressed on. “I want it to be you.”
When Loki laid back on the bed and bared his throat, Thor knelt between his spread thighs.
There was a slight tremor in his fingers when he extended his arm, but it had left them by the time they closed around his brother’s neck.
“Brother,” Loki said softly, permission and encouragement and reassurance.