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Thorfinn wants to see Canute cry.

The prince isn’t calm, not at all, when faced with Ragnar’s corpse, but the fact that the spoiled little fragile brat’s eyes remain dry sets Thorfinn’s neck and chest afire with rage. 

When Askeladd and Bjorn bring back Ragnar’s body, his shrewd eyes read guilt in theirs and Thorfinn is suddenly back on that ship again, screaming for his father, and crying. 

So, when Canute doesn’t, when saltwater doesn’t spill unbidden from his eyes and his face doesn’t grow moist from grief-stricken snot, Thorfinn gets angry. He gets embarrassed.

Canute needs to cry. 

Thorfinn doesn’t have the sense to understand what he’s starting, but it starts with silent teasing nonetheless, mean-spirited and petty. A small pinch to the side of the neck that makes Canute flinch and let out a surprised yelp. A hard elbow nudge to the hipbone, one that Thorfinn knows will leave a sensitive ache in its wake. Canute is offended and bothered and on edge and it’s so goddamn unsatisfying . “Stop it,” Canute whines under his breath as they bob along in their cart, “stop being so mean.”

Thorfinn grits his teeth and scowls and doesn’t respond, and he has to turn his head to the side and force himself to look directly into the chilling howl of wind so that he can blame the weather on his sudden, frustrated tears. 

Canute starts retaliating, a slap to the offending hand -- meek at first, but quickly growing more vicious as his annoyance grows. In one instance, Canute actually catches Thorfinn’s hand in his own as it makes its way to up to his earlobe to twist it roughly in between his index finger and thumb. Thorfinn looks at his hand, held suspended in midair by one that’s paler and softer than his is, and he’s glad for a moment that Canute is the one holding onto him because it suddenly feels safer to him not to let go. 

When Canute does let go, he thrusts Thorfinn’s hand back toward him with an overly exasperated vehemence that feels staged. 

Everyone else is too preoccupied dealing with their own impending dooms to notice that Thorfinn and Canute can no longer keep their hands off of each other. Thorfinn supposes that it escalated pretty soon after Canute caught him in the act, the teasing touches lingering, the need to get back at each other swapped for a sudden unexpected yearning -- the realization that it was now possible to touch and be touched, to externalize some of it all, to foist it onto someone else for a second or two: Thorfinn resting his hand at the back of Canute’s head for a few beats after he tugs at his hair. Canute's thumb rubbing into Thorfinn's pulse point as it wraps around his wrist to try to push him away from him.

It doesn't stop that night either. Thorfinn and Canute get up in each other's personal space, hidden from the world under layers of thick fur. Thorfinn shoves his knee into Canute's back and Canute hisses, pressing cold toes up against Thorfinn's calves. Their hands join the fray and Thorfinn regrets that his nails are as blunt as they are -- they don’t leave a pink sting behind in their wake like Canute’s do. After one particularly egregious raking of nails across his shoulder blade, Thorfinn growls and pins Canute beneath him. He can just barely make out Canute's eyes, the subtlest glint in them reflecting moonlit snow. 

They're still too fucking dry. 

Thorfinn claps a hand over Canute's mouth and leans down, baring his teeth. His heart jumps as his teeth clamp down on the top of Canute’s shoulder and he feels Canute’s mouth open against his palm in a long, desperate, drawn-out whine. Thorfinn doesn’t let go, just bites down harder until the prince is trying to squirm out from underneath him. With his weight pressing down against him, Thorfinn feels a brush of something dense against his hip and immediately sits up, eyes wide and face beet-red. 

Canute doesn’t let him get far though, following Thorfinn’s trajectory upward and catching his lips in a kiss that freezes Thorfinn in place. Even though it’s been snowing for as long as Thorfinn can remember at this point, his body feels uncomfortably hot and he’s trembling, unsure how to move or react. Canute guides him, pulling him back down until their bodies are flush together, and there’s no mistaking what Thorfinn feels pressed almost urgently against his thigh. 

A swipe of Canute’s tongue across Thorfinn’s lower lip and he’s all but forgotten his dacryphilic obsession; he’s the one who’s on the edge of overwhelmed tears now. Canute’s hands venture underneath Thorfinn’s clothes, raking gently over scarred and bruised skin. Thorfinn doesn’t know what to do, so he just kisses back, uncouth and messy, but Canute seems to like it, his hands becoming more insistent, venturing lower. 

At the press of Canute’s hand to a bare hipbone Thorfinn lets out a long whine, which Canute swallows greedily before nudging Thorfinn’s face to his neck. Canute’s fingers ghost across his shaft and Thorfinn bites down instinctively to muffle an unexpected moan. Canute pumps him slowly with one hand, teasing, while his other hand disappears down his own pants. Their hips start to move in sync.

Every time there’s another brush of fingers over his shaft, every time Canute cups his hand over Thorfinn’s sensitive head, it gets that much harder to pretend that he’s in control of any of this. He bites down harder to try to relieve some of his own overwhelm, but that just makes Canute’s grasp on him tighten, and before Thorfinn can realize what’s going on tension is being pulled out of the deepest parts of him and he tastes saltwater as his tears drips down onto Canute’s skin. 

He pulls back again, lips trembling as he looks down at Canute, whose cheeks are mottled pink and whose breath is coming out in short bursts. He swats Canute’s hand away from his own pants and replaces it with his own. He lets out a soft gasp when he feels Canute in his hand, velvety soft and hotter even than the rest of his body. He tugs it free from Canute’s pants and Canute turns his head to the side, bashful. Thorfinn sniffles -- the tears are still flowing -- and pulls himself out, taking both of them together in his open fist. Canute’s is longer and thinner than his is and it feels like heaven to rut up against, soft hot friction sending sparks of sensation from his groin up the length of his spine. He’s so distracted that it takes him a moment to register Canute trying to pull his face down to meet his again. 

“Do it again,” Canute whispers, voice high and breathy and wavering, as if, Thorfinn realizes with a jolt, he’s on the verge of tears. “Bite me,” he whines.

This time it’s just Canute’s earlobe, nothing harsh or mean-spirited. It’s just a small, gentle nibble, but he hears Canute let out a quiet sob in response, head curling in to meet Thorfinn’s.

His orgasm is background to the shared tears that somehow find their way into their open-mouthed kiss. It rolls through him shortly after Canute’s does, and he presses closer to the prince with a stifled whimper. He doesn’t move until a draft catches under their furs and they both shiver, necessitating that they both tuck themselves away. 

It will be a bitch to get cleaned up in the morning, but neither of them care. Their eyes are swollen and puffy, the drying snot and raw edges of their nose a more immediate concern. So they burrow into each other and fall asleep deliciously empty of tension, their tears evaporating against each other’s warm skin instead of freezing in the lonely night air.