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Balder stretched, languidly, until he spine creaked, reminding them both of Varg’s lucky kick had broken his neck earlier, drawing attention to it. “I should pay you back for that.”

“You should. How do you want me?” Varg grinned in answer to Balder’s lack of hostility. He could figure these people out intellectually, the love of the sheer physicality of a fight, of taking a punch as sure as landing on, but as deeply in his psyche as he felt the joy of the fight too was sheer revulsion at hurting one of his friends.

“I want you to hit me again.” Balder beckoned him over and stood lightly, perfectly balanced on his toes. The dreamscape looked just like the gym. He reminded himself despite his irrational worries how much fun sparring with Balder had been, and how disappointed he’d be if he’d taken an injury in training that he’d shrugged off quickly and never resented and his oath-sworn brother were the one freaking out and avoiding him over it.

Like always, he told himself. Just launch forward and hit him. Balder would probably let Varg tackle into him and slam down into his ribs, combined with a knee to the stomach. Varg would take that, then read his exact balance to throw him.

He forced himself to make the first movement. Just fake it. Fake like he didn’t have a care in the world until they stopped mattering.

He collided with Balder, who barely moved, just redirecting momentum enough to hardly skid a centimeter.

“Weak,” Balder said levelly. Varg ducked his head. “I’m not going to give you a beating like that will make us even. I don’t want to you to stand there and take it because you think you deserve it. I want you to fight me like you did yesterday. I want you to fight me like you did this morning.”

“Sorry,” he said. He hadn’t meant to say that, and it was the wrong thing to say, for not doing well enough now or for that morning. Balder didn’t hit him. He was right, Varg noted, he wanted him to. It would have been easier.

“Don’t bother trying to force yourself. You’re not obligated to train with me. I don’t want you unless you want me.”

No one had ever accused Varg of having a mind that didn’t see innuendo everywhere and an experienced glance automatically assured him that hadn’t been accidental.

A thrill shot through him, the most familiar kind. That’s right, he remembered as if it had been years instead of hours, that’s how it’s supposed to feel. He grinned. “I don’t know about not wanting. Doesn’t sound like me.”

“Then come on and show me what you’ve got.”

He slammed into Balder this time, intent on bringing them down in a tangle of limbs. Balder brought their foreheads together so hard he was pretty sure he felt his skull armor dent and his vision grayed-out. Then Varg was kissing him, teeth drawing blood.

Balder bit back and got a leg over Varg’s hips to grind them together. Varg groaned and used his teeth and tongue on Balder’s neck until he’d gotten him to do the same.

He didn’t usually do it like this. Not just with a guy, of course he’d experimented, but before Valhalla his tastes had been for the soft and sweet type, nice and uncomplicated and everyone knew exactly what was in the offering. Playing rough was no fun in a world where violence was something that just wasn’t done. It took more care and control than going slow and light, it couldn’t be spontaneous because when he let go and did what he really wanted it freaked people out.

He’d worried at first, but he wasn’t much for being uncomfortable with himself. He wasn’t into the sadistic fetish stuff or rape fantasies porn-net AIs always mistook his high VVPS score for, had never in his life wanted to hurt someone he actually liked, and it was no burden to stick to easy and simple sex he was sure would give whoever he was with a good time. Sex was all the reflection of the glory and ecstasy of nonexistent gods that the world had.

Right kink for the right partner, Varg thought and he’d never had trouble figuring out what that was before. Balder was nothing but turned on by his aggressive and was giving as good as he got just as violently. He couldn’t even imagine trading tender caresses with the invincible war-god of Valhalla.

“Thaco suits off,” he reset the scene.

“Good thinking.”

He’d had his hands on Balder plenty before in their sparring, but getting his muscles to clench from the heat building inside and his breath to catch with pleasure was even more welcome. Physicality was wonderful in all its forms, but no secret sex was his favorite. Goddamn did he want to see what he looked like when he came.

Afterwards, Balder told him, “We don’t go again until you beat me in another fight.” Balder pressed their foreheads together, noses bumping, almost a kiss, especially with the bruises around his cranium.

“That’s some incentive.”