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A Light in the Heart

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Finding the bar is not the difficult part. The loyal tharls of S.H.I.E.L.D. are always happy to help, even if their intentions are transparent. Thor misdirects the agents already crowding into their black vehicles to Stark's facility as he passes. He tolerates their scrutiny and their curiosity but this night's business is too important to imperil for the sake of delicate human egos.

The tavern, or bar as he must learn to call such establishments, is easily overlooked. The runic charms on the lintel misdirect and perplex. There is a troll at the door, wearing the ill-fitting illusion of a mortal man. The beast bares his tusks and growls. Thor's hands twitch for his hammer but he has learnt the necessity of subtlety in the harshest of circumstances. He will not strike the first blow but by the All-father, if this monster impedes him, Thor will kill him.

The troll's snarl fades a little and he retreats. Thor passes into the bowels of the tavern and looks around. There is a thunderous din that bears only a passing resemblance to music and the lanterns flicker dimly. The floor is filled with crowds of people and the air is thick and humid. The damp heat aside, it puts Thor in mind of Jotunheim; alien and unfriendly.

Thor's mood sours even as he fades into the crowds of warlocks, monsters and Dökkálfar. He is not here to judge, he is here to hunt.

She is in the centre of the room, the tides of the crowd spinning around her without even seeming to notice. Their eyes slide past her, even as they spin to face her and give themselves over to the gravitational pull of her presence. The tides do not acknowledge the moon but are bound to her nonetheless.

The Son of Odin is not so easily fooled.

He steps through the crowd and she turns to face him. Thor wonders if she wants to run, even now and this close. Then she smiles, sharp-edged and daring and Thor is pulled into her orbit. She tips her head back to meet his gaze eye to eye, with her back straight and slick pink lips parted. The bare skin of her hip is warm and soft under his hand as it slides up under the loose shirt and he draws her in.

This close, with the heat in the air and the crowd pushing them together, he struggles to think. Restraint is difficult, contrary to his nature and hers but he must be so cautious. A single misstep and the hunt will begin again with fresh difficulties. Odin's beard, he tires of the game.

Her smile changes but in the flickering light, he misses it. Her fingers curl in his hair and she pulls him down into the kiss. She tastes a little of blood, salt and iron and a little of the clear open skies of Asgard. Underneath, where it cannot be tasted easily, the sweet taste of mead and honey steals his breath.

He is not breathing at all in fact, pressed too close and too tight. Her fingernails scratch along his scalp, forcing him closer still. He drops his arms around her waist and pulls her closer, off her feet, to erase the half-inch of difference in their heights. She gasps, mouth opening and he shoves forward.

Her leg hooks around his hip, pushing them together and riding the beat of the music. He pushes, pushes at her, one hand holding her head as he angles to deepen the kiss. They're both breathless now, so close that they're sharing breath and wrapped so tightly together that even the All-father could not separate them.

When she moves her hips so he is pressing against her, rutting up with every teasing motion, he almost succumbs. Part of him, the dark thunderhead of pride and greed, desires it. He would rip her clothes, bare every inch of her and pleasure her - own her - until she was mindless and hungry and blind to everything but him. Thor is proud but he is no longer a fool.

The arm across her back anchors her to him and he breaks the kiss only long enough to seek the exit he knows must be there. She is dazed, yearning but already the cold light of cunning sparks in her eyes. She might have stepped back but he is long past weary of this game and his strength was ever greater.

Outside, in a fetid alley that reeks of decay, he slams her against the wall. He is stronger but she is no delicate flower. She fists both hands in his hair and drags him back to the interrupted kiss and the pain, brief and fleeting, is like the lightning through the storm: not always necessary but good and tempestuous. He kisses her with all the force he is capable of, hiding nothing for they are past hiding from each other.

He breaks the kiss, looks into storm-blue eyes turned black with lust and feels the pulse of satisfaction when they flicker green. Her mouth is red, lips swollen and wet from him. 'Tis a sight to inspire a dead man to lustful thoughts but Thor breathes and leans in, head angled from her questing lips.

"A fine wench, indeed but not to my taste," her eyes widen, green lost in the turbulent blue. "I am done with the mask. I crave my brother."

She stares, shock supplanting lust and then, then she fights. Thor weathers it, pinning her wrists to the wall and using his greater bulk to smother her writhing struggle. His father has taught him patience and bitter were the lessons but he can wait. He will wait for this is the greatest prize he has ever sought and he will not fail.

He does not see the transformation, cannot note the moment that golden hair turns black and womanly curves harden into the sleek lines of a warrior born. His focus is on the face, blurring by infinitesimal stages back to the narrow well-loved lines he knows.

Loki's lips are red, still swollen even as they purse in a frown. Thor waits only until the last vestiges of the change are banished. Before his brother's words can pass his parted lips, Thor kisses him. He does not hold back, does not seek to hide how the transformation has fired the lust in his blood instead of quenching it. He presses them together, seeks to explain with action what he cannot hope to say in words.

He keeps his eyes open, stares into distrustful green eyes even as he struggles to prove that this is real. That this is where he wants and yearns to be. His hands rove hungrily and Loki is stiff, slow at first to respond as if he expects mockery or disdain.

Thor looks on the Trickster and tries with all the clumsy grace he is capable of, to reflect the beauty that he sees.

Loki stares at him. Then he presses forward, closer and kisses back and Thor exults as the sky overhead fills with storms.