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apples, wolf's teeth, a weight against the fall

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Loki picks his belt up from the floor, straps it around his waist, pulling the leather tight around the loose fabric of his tunic. He grabs his cloak from the back of a chair, his eyes scanning the room for any belongings he has forgotten.

Thor's hammer is lying on the table in front of him, still and quiescent in the soft light of guttering candles. He can't help reaching his hand out, running his fingertips over the smooth metal, slowly tracing the pattern of runes, reading the shallow grooves by touch. The weapon – forged from an element he has yet to encounter anywhere else – is never quite cold to the touch, and he imagines he can feel it warm further, as if to reflect the heat of his body, the flush lingering in his veins although his pulse has already evened out.

“It likes you, brother,” Thor says, and Loki turns his head to throw a glance in his direction. Naked on the bed among a tangle of sheets, relaxed and in effortless possession of his space, unselfconscious as if unaware of the splendor of his body. Loki cannot remember a time when he ever felt that he was capable of looking his fill of him, or a time – even as boys, playing wild in the gardens and halls of the palace, reckless and unknowing – when he didn't sometimes feel as though one look might burn him clean through, like gazing into the forge-fires of a sun; the light too strong, too warm, for someone like him to receive it. An infantile notion, and he always made himself look, regardless.

Thor's expression now is pleased, smiling and gratified.

Loki shifts his gaze back to the hammer.

Mjölnir is an object of deep and powerful magic, connected to Thor on a level so profound that it lies beyond even Loki's own vast understanding of such things. He doesn't doubt that Thor has a sense of the hammer as something more and other than dead matter, that he somehow feels the nine realms as they reverberate through the unknown structure of its molecules, that this communication is as real to him as the testimony of his eyes.

Loki doesn't doubt any of that, but nor does he doubt that in this instance Thor is seeing what he wants to see, projecting his own uncomplicated joy in having his brother back – alive, by his side, in his bed – onto the thing he loves most. If the hammer can sense Loki – his magic, the essence of his power – then certainly it sees him far more clearly than its owner does.

“I still can't lift it,” he points out, conversational, trailing his fingers along the handle, over the rippled metal of the grip. He won't close his hand around it again, not when he knows it to be an exercise in futility. He has his pride, even now.

“That doesn't mean that it doesn't welcome your touch,” Thor says, and Loki can hear him, sweeping the sheets back, his bare feet touching the floor. “As I welcome it, brother.” Another few steps, and Thor is at his side, and Loki turns to face him, eye to eye, but his hand lingers on the hammer and Thor's hand goes out to settle around it, squeezing his fingers down around the handle, held between metal and flesh. Thor's gaze slides over his face, slides past it to land on the point where they touch. “I did not know how I would miss you,” he says. “How I would ache at night. If Father had not accepted your apologies, if he had turned you away on your return... I do not know what I would have done.”

Thor's grip is light, yet the ridges of Mjölnir's handle are digging into Loki's palm. A pattern being engraved across the lines of fate, ready to fade from the moment he lets go.

“I trust you would have been a paragon of emotional restraint, brother,” he says. “As ever.”

Thor laughs, as intended, immediate and delighted. Honest responses honestly, foolishly shared. His thumb strokes over Loki's knuckles.

“Stay until break of morn?” he says, his smile a simple invitation. Asking without second thought for what he thinks he wants.

Loki lets his cloak drop to the floor, lays the palm of his free hand against his brother's chest. Quirks his lips with a certain intimate sarcasm.

“Well, since you have so missed my touch...” he says, making sure the tease is as merciless as if they had never battled, never been apart.

The metal of the hammer is very warm in his grip. Thor's gaze is warmer.

He holds still and makes himself meet it, regardless.



It is late at night when they return to Loki's chambers, the moon low outside the windows, Mani's chariot descending in its arc across the skies. Thor throws his hammer almost uncaring onto the broad window sill as he passes, undoes the girdle from which it hung and drops that on top of the stack of books lying open for cross-reference on the table in the center of the room. On a sideboard, there is a pitcher of water, and he pours himself a goblet, drinking deep, his head thrown back, Adam's apple dipping with each swallow.

Loki turns his back on him, crossing to the window, letting the cool air wash through his lungs. He isn't drunk, as Thor is – in as much as Thor is ever more than not-quite-sober, regardless of how many flagons of mead he downs – but he feels worn out with the act of pretending to relax, of feigning letting his guard down and enjoying himself among friends. Thor might choose not to see the looks of resentment the lady Sif sends him whenever they're in a room together, the distrust emanating from the Warriors Three even when they clink their cups with his in a shared toast in their leader's honor – or perhaps forgiveness simply is so easy for his brother, such a straightforward act of forgetting and moving on, that he cannot imagine anyone else holding on to anger, anyone wanting to remember where harm and sorrow sprang from or guarding against it striking again – but Loki knows better than to think that because opposition to his return is no longer voiced in Thor's presence, it doesn't exist.

He rests his hand absently on the head of the hammer, running his thumb along its edge. In the distance, he can make out the shining orb of the new gate to the bifrost, where Heimdall keeps watch.

Perhaps Thor is the only one, these days, who refuses to acknowledge that Loki doesn't belong here, that he never did. But then, perhaps that isn't any different from before. It wouldn't be wrong to say he's lived his entire life in this realm with his guard up, knowing the blows were bound to fall, trying to anticipate them. Knowing that a love like his brother's was made to shatter in disappointment, that the hammer was always fated to come down. And a wise man should know that because a thing has come to pass once, that does not mean it will not come to pass again.

He strokes his palm across the flat of the hammer.

His brother is many things, but wise is not among them.

There is the clink of Thor depositing the goblet on the table, soft steps as his brother comes up behind him. Loki lets him; keeps still, amenable, as Thor presses up against his back, lays his hands on his hips, stroking up and down across the ridges of his hipbones. Thor tucks his chin over Loki's shoulder, nuzzles at the side of his neck. He smells of too much mead, of thunderstorms and rainclouds, the metallic tang of electricity. His cock is a hard length, thick against Loki's backside.

Loki's fingers flex, nails scratching at the surface of the hammer.

“Hmm,” Thor breathes, a purring in his ear. “It gives me pleasure to see you touch it. It must sound strange, but... It is not unlike seeing your hands move on my own person, but at one remove, so that I may watch from a distance.” He's talking as if not quite listening to himself, tongue loosened by drink but mind focused on the desires of his body, his shared thoughts an accompaniment to the grinding of his hips, the flick of his tongue against Loki's earlobe. “You've always touched it as you touch me,” he says, and there's a hunger in his voice, a satisfaction.

And how is it you imagine I touch you? Loki would ask, but the adverbs tumble into his mind like rocks in a landslide, and he doesn't want any of them spoken aloud.

“Perhaps then,” he says instead, tone sharp with sarcasm, “it behooves you to return the favor, brother.”

He grips Thor's hand, pulls it around to press against his own growing hardness.

“Greedy as ever,” Thor says, smiling against Loki's neck, but his fingers squeeze down, eager, and at least that descriptor is a true one. Loki has always been greedy for Thor's hands, for the strength and size of them, for the steel of Thor's cock. For the strength and size of Thor's heart, ever large enough to let him in, warm enough, even now that Thor has seen that all Loki will bring with him is the cutting frost.

Sometimes he doesn't know if it is triumph or defeat, that Thor is generous with everything that Loki covets, whether to take it as an insult or a prize.

In this moment, with Thor's fingers undoing the laces on his pants, he is willing to concede, if only to himself, that he doesn't care.

Thor's hands inside his clothes, cupping his balls, squeezing his cock, stripping the foreskin back to run a thumb in slow circles over the head. Sweet and perfect and proprietary in a way he loathes, in a way he dreamed about every night that he spent in exile.

He wonders what Thor dreamed of, in his exile, there in the desert land, among his mortals, if it was ever this.

“By the realms, but you are fair, my brother,” Thor says. “You cannot know how much I wish to have you, how much...” His voice breaks on a groan, his hips thrusting uncontrolled against Loki's behind. “Do you feel how hard my cock is for you? Heavens and stars, it wants you, Loki. Do you want to ride it, ride the thick spear of it? You take it so deep, so beautiful and strong, filled with me. Let me fill you, brother, let me...”

A stutter of Thor's body against his, a clench of fingers round his balls, and Loki's whole being shudders, arcs, grinds against Thor's cock, a betrayal of want, and somehow both his hands are on the hammer now, bracing his weight, pressing against unmoving metal to push him back against Thor's unmoving flesh, his breath escaping in heavy pants.

Thor's hand leaves his balls, reaches to stroke his fingers where they meet the hammer. On the plain side of it, carved patterns that were hidden bleed into existence, fine lines of power, wrought and twisted round each other, turning, turning always beneath the surface, rising now to the naked eye, to Loki's touch when he slides his fingertip across them.

A tremor brushes through the marrow of his bones, where sometimes his magic flares like sudden frost, drifts like mists of snow.

“Ever touching it,” Thor says, softly, with something resembling awe. As though the idea of it kindles flames within him, stokes dark embers into burning. “As if you can't keep away. Like a cat, getting your scent all over...” A breath expelled, harsh against Loki's cheek, lust thrown into light like a world flashed white in the throb of a lightning strike. Helpless. “Oh, Loki. All over it.” And the hammer moves, without Thor's hands pulling it, slides swift towards them across the stone of the window sill, draws up sharp at the edge of it. And Thor strokes Loki's cock again, and lets go, and when his fingers slip away there is warm metal pressed up against the underside of Loki's erection, the short end of Mjölnir flat against his standing flesh, and Thor thumbs the head of his member, rubs it against the engravings on the hammer's angled edge. “Like this, brother, if it pleases you?”

It's a question, hesitant and eager, weakness in how much it reveals, and Loki can see Thor's jugular exposed, bared for him willingly as in that cell on Earth, can feel how his fingers fit around it, were meant to fit there, like no one else's.

There are ways he could squeeze down, if he wanted to, easy ways to twist and crush.

He summons chill into his voice from that hollow inside where it waits, summons sharpness, the dignity of distance. He isn't Thor, and he can't afford to give himself up without holding something back, setting something apart. He isn't stupid.

“And I who was awaiting that promised ride on your mighty spear,” he says, with scathing irony.

Thor laughs, grinds the entire length of his cock against Loki, making sure he feels every inch. Reminding him, as though he could forget the size of it.

“As long and hard a ride as you could wish for,” Thor says, his fingers tugging at Loki's pants, peeling them down, and the laughter is in the words, in his voice. They've known each other their entire lives, and he is well aware that Loki's sarcasm is not a no any more than his mockery is a rejection. And he's always so happy to get what he wants, so easily pleased, so honored and grateful for the smallest favor given. It would be pathetic if it weren't so artless. Or, no: it is pathetic because it is artless. It's just that if Loki were to turn his head, here and now, he knows he would see the simple joy in Thor's eyes, and the only word he would have for it would be beautiful.

But, of course, there is no call for him to turn his head.

He closes his eyes, instead, and concentrates on the sensations. On Thor's hands on his bare skin, coaxing him to spread his legs, leaving and returning slicked with oil from a vial Thor must have brought with him from the other side of the room. On fingertips stroking into the cleft of his ass, pressing inside him. No finesse, just the blunt stretch of Thor's eagerness, asking his body to open, and every fuck of his fingers angles Loki's hips forward, into the solid pressure of the hammer, his cock dragging against it, and Thor is breathing, quick and wet in his ear, and, oh, his fingers are good, but they aren't enough.

“Now, Thor,” he demands. And then – because he can't even remember when he first learned to turn Thor with his words (They were so young, and it came as naturally as magic, as the first fumbling kiss in Idun's garden, the first inevitable act of reeling Thor's body in towards his own to press him up against the trunk of an apple tree, to block out the sunlight dancing on the leaves.) but he knows what Thor needs the words to be, here, like this, knows the exact tone in which to say them to get them both what they want – he adds: “Please, brother.”

Soft and impatient, and Thor's fingers flex inside him and fall still, a spasm of reaction, and Thor's head dips against his, forehead against the back of his skull, resting there, exhales hot on his prickling skin, brushing his nape beneath the collar of his shirt.

“Loki,” Thor says – just that, his name – and Thor's body is taut with all the longing of the nine realms kept in check, arced and weighted with it like the string of a bow, like a branch heavy with fruit: the tension before the fall, stillness like the held breath between worlds. Heartbeats in the quiet, and Loki's head suddenly swims with the kaleidoscope of spinning through the void, memory vortex-sharp behind his eyelids, waiting for the impact, gravity and fear and all that loss gathering momentum, speeding him towards the crash.

And then Thor moves – fingers slipping from him, rushing to tear away clothing, stumbling on laces – and his brother's cock is at his entrance, pushing in, thrusting in, and his eyes snap open and the tension snaps and of course they're both falling, they've never known how not to fall, but the ground that first time in the garden was thick with grass to catch them, and Thor fucks him now the way he's always fucked him, every thrust harder, deeper than the one before, every thrust gentler, and his cock grinds against the hammer, again and again, and he's going to have bruises, inside and out, and he loves that Thor holds nothing back, because that means he'll feel the ache and burn for days, but no amount of bruising will cover the marks of Thor's tenderness and the grass is too soft for him to break, and he can't get away, and Thor bites at his ear and that sensitive spot beneath the head of his cock catches against the edge of the hammer and he's stretched so wide and he hears himself ask for more and Thor just keeps giving, keeps always giving, and when he comes he can't tell what is pain and what is pleasure, what is contempt and what is love, all of it washed out in the brightness of the fall, and he knows he should never have come back.

He feels Thor spasm and spill within him, face buried in his shoulder, hands clenching at his hips, a fevered clutch and release, bruises gathering fresh as storm clouds. Thor will find them later, with eyes and lips, will treasure them as he treasures his own marks from battle, distinctions of his honor, and Loki will want to crawl out of his skin to escape them, to escape the pride they raise on his brother's face, in his own feeble heart; but for now they're only shadows, harbingers of tempests yet to come, and he takes Thor's hand, stills it flat against his chest, and lets himself lean back into the deep hum of satisfaction Thor breathes against his neck, lets himself be held.

A long, tight squeeze of Thor's arms, a bear hug of contentment, effortless delight in pleasure shared, in closeness lingering. Inside him, Thor's cock hasn't even softened yet, and he is filled and wanted, cared for, and it would be too easy to believe that this is safety, this is a belonging that will last. Too dangerous.

Then Thor laughs, a shaky sound, and shifts, and Loki looks down to see his hand go out to the hammer, his fingers brushing across the metal, through the thick splatter of Loki's semen spilled there – spreading it, rubbing it into the tracks of patterns and runes. Seeing it makes Loki's cock ache, desperate to get hard again, his heart throb, desperate for more things than he can name.

“I should make you come like this every time,” Thor says, amused at his own discovered predilection, and, beneath that, trembling with it.

He kisses Loki's jaw, begins to withdraw. His hand lifts from the hammer.

Loki snatches hold of his wrist, movement so quick, grip so tight that it freezes Thor into stillness.

He lifts Thor's hand to his lips, licks at the strings of his seed sticking to his brother's fingers.

Thor's cock jerks inside him, a sharp swell back towards hardness.

“Stay,” he says. Controlled, commanding. Squeezes his muscles tight around Thor's member.

“Not done with me, brother?” Thor asks. Pleased. Needy.

Loki runs his tongue along his finger again, metal and bitterness and the electricity of Thor's skin. Outside the window, the moon is nearing the horizon, its crescent sharp, with edges honed against the black of night. The wolf of Hatred is chasing it, ever, but its teeth have yet to sink in.

“Not done,” he says.

Thor growls, his free hand sweeping the hammer to the side like a toy, and shoves him flat over the window sill.

Loki closes his eyes. He can at least trust his brother to fuck all the thoughts from his head.


Loki's door is barely closed behind them when Thor grabs him, yanks him around. His body is still wound tight for battle, magic quivering like a living thing just beneath his skin, and for a moment it is a struggle more than anything else, his instinct to resist, to snarl and jerk away.

He shoves at Thor's chest, twisting against his grip, and the rag in his hand that he's held pressed to the side of his face slips against his brother's armor, leaves a wet, dull smear across the shining black – the blood dark on dark, colorless. It feels fitting – amusement bitter as the irony of a poisoned well – that he can't tell whether it is red or Frost Giant blue.

Thor's gaze stumbles on the exposed cut on his cheek, hangs there, his face going rigid, jaw muscles stiff with rage, fear, frustration.

Loki stills, their bodies suspended at arms length, held by the equal forces of pulling close and pulling away. His mouth is dry: adrenaline and the void beneath his feet.

“Thor...” he says. Trying to placate, to reassure, but he doesn't trust what comes next.

Thor makes a noise – rough, impatient – and grabs him by the shoulders, bears him backwards with sheer force and little direction. Loki's hip glances off the edge of the table, jostles it. A plate jumps, clatters, a bowl of fruit overturns. Thor takes no notice, steps over fallen apples without missing a beat, eternity rolling golden-red across the sunlit floor, unmarked as if beneath attention.

All Thor sees is him, and Loki will never understand his priorities.

His back hits the wall, and Thor is there, crowding him up against it, his hands suddenly light, fluttering over Loki's body as if not knowing where to touch. Settling at last on his face, strong palms cupping it, thumb stroking his cheek, a line parallel to the wound.

Byleist, son of Laufey, keeps a sharp blade, and the cut is clean, even-edged, a surface scratch that will heal in days, leave no scar if magic is applied. Which is more than can be said for the injuries the Jotunn himself has been left with. But of course this has nothing to do with the severity of the wound.

“I should have claimed his life for this,” Thor says. Low and fervent and close as the brush of his thumb.

Their bodies are practically pressed together, their breaths quickened, mingling. Thor smells like sweat and strength, rain so hard it breaks the ground. The heat of him is like a crushing weight.

And Loki knows this, all of it familiar from so many times in the time before. How Thor is nothing but emotions, overflowing, how he knows no way to handle them if his body can't act, can't unleash them. How he needs Loki to direct them, tell him what he can do.

If there is something new in Thor's eyes, an edge of a different desperation, he chooses to ignore it, as he is ignoring the thing that beats insistent in his own heart.

“I'm here, brother,” he says, as he might have, before. “Thor, I'm still here.” He slips his hand between them, slides it down. Between his legs, Thor is as hard as Loki knew he would be. His cock flexes against the fabric of his pants, strains into Loki's squeezing fingers. “Yes,” Loki says, approving. His own balls have drawn tight with an urgency he has to fight to keep out of his voice. “Yes, that's it. Fuck me and make sure.”

Thor shudders, groans. Curves his body around Loki's, neck bent so that their heads rest together, forehead against forehead.

“Brother,” he says. “I want...” His words cut off, voice choked, his fingers tightening around Loki's face, trying to say what his mouth cannot. His mantle is falling red around them both, his heartbeat a throb like thunder reverberating through his fingertips. Loki imagines he can feel it, blood to blood despite the barriers of skin, as though shared in truth, the way he'd always thought. His to hear, to read and interpret.

Once, when he was fourteen, he took a bad fall from his horse. The healers confined him to his bed until their magic could take effect. That night, Thor came. Slipped beneath the sheets and tucked his arm around him, pressed along his side. Fingers flexing against his ribs as if not knowing if they dared to clutch, to hold. In the dark, all Loki could see of him was the light mess of his hair, spilled across the pillow. Against his hip, he felt Thor's cock, hard and so hot through his nightshirt. All the brightness and the warmth of the garden where they'd already lain together in sunlight, wrapped around him, waiting, shielding. Needing everything and asking nothing. When he turned, the shift of his body made Thor gasp, and the rush of power was a drug against the pain in his healing bones. Brother, you're hurt, Thor said when he reached his hand down beneath the sheet; trying to object. It struck him with a sudden clarity that Thor was afraid, his brother who feared nothing. It made the universe dizzyingly vast around them, confined it to the circle of his fingers where they closed around flesh; made his heart race, deep inside where he was never warm the way Thor was warm, never easy. This was easy, though: seeing his brother's need, turning it like a key. A universe of doors and opening the one he wanted. Thor, I didn't break my hand, he said, tone exasperated as if explaining to an idiot, and Thor laughed, let himself thrust into his grip. The simplicity of it made him almost sick with arousal.

His hand still fits around the back of Thor's neck, his thumb still knows the spot to stroke to calm him, ease him back from the edge.

“Tell me,” he says. Softly, firmly. “What do you want?”

A huff of laughter against his face, a sound like Thor shaking his head at himself. A sound of frustration.

“Too many things at once. I want to kiss you. I want to put my hands on every part of you. I want to take your mouth, to press you into the mattress and hold you there, keep you there as I... I want more of you than I know how to reach. I...” His hips jerk, uncontrolled, grinding him into Loki's palm. The motion sways their bodies, the hammer at his side shifting with the swing of a pendulum, bumping against Loki's thigh. Punctuation. “Loki, please.”

Pleading for Loki's direction, and Loki knows then, knows what he wants, what Thor will want the moment he puts the thought in his head. The clarity of it is startling, the stab of hunger for it in his own gut sharp beyond reason, terrifying and impossible not to embrace.

More of you than I can reach, he thinks, and the thought is bitter as the void. But there are so many things he can reach, if only for this moment.

He squeezes Thor's cock and lets it go. Runs his hand across to where the hammer hangs, lays his fingers on top of it, the back of his thumb against Thor's hip, making sure he can feel what he's doing. He can't help the way his own hips angle forward, seeking Thor's thigh to rub against.

“Remember what you said?” he asks. It's barely more than a whisper, their faces are so close. “When I touch it, it's like watching me touch a part of you, seeing my hands on your body. If that's true, then surely it can be arranged for you to have me in more than one way at the same time.”

He half expects Thor to grind him into the wall – he can feel the movement contained, neck muscles trembling beneath his hand – but this is Thor, who is, always and beneath everything else, noble, and it's not a surprise when instead he pulls back, far enough that he can look Loki in the eye, search the intentions on his face.

“You should not say that if you do not mean it, brother,” he says. Incredulous and hopeful, and still there is that edge in the blue of his eyes, a shadow of pain beyond the need of the moment. It very near makes Loki falter, but he is committed now, has offered what he can't wish to take back.

“Would it not please you, then?” he asks. A hint of a smile, teasing. Challenging.

Thor does not take the bait, his face remaining serious.

“You know that it would,” he says.

He strokes Loki's cheek again, a broad sweep of his thumb, a gentleness that brings the sting of the fresh cut into sharp relief. Loki's fingers tighten around the back of his brother's neck. If that touch were something he could keep...

He snuffs out that thought before the flame of it has a chance to flare.

“Then you know that I mean it,” he says. The earnestness is calculated, as he calculates everything – it makes no sense that it makes his chest constrict, his stomach drop.

Thor kisses him, then, and that does make sense: the heat of it and the care and the urgency, all predictable. For a long moment, he lets himself forget that there is anything else.

When Thor pulls up for air, he pushes him back, a firm hand to the center of his chest. For a brief moment, Thor's weight rests against his palm, as if his will is the sole opposing force that keeps gravity from crashing them together, Thor from falling into him. He can feel it, bending his wrist back, a strain in the bone, like a fracture waiting to happen. Then Thor catches his balance, and Loki sweeps past him. Head high, spine straight, not looking back.

“Bedroom,” he says, walking towards the door with measured, steady steps. He can practically hear Thor shake himself before he follows, a dog on his heels.

He stops by the bed, turns. Points at the wooden boards beneath his feet.

“Here,” he says. “On the floor.”

He sounds chilly, in control.

He can barely hear himself over the pounding of blood in his ears.

Thor steps closer, undoes the hammer from his belt. Bends to place it on the floor at Loki's feet. As if that's nothing. Or, no, as if that's natural. It hurts to look at, the ease of it. All the things it is and isn't.

He grabs Thor by the upper arms, guides him to the bed.

“Sit,” he says, and turns away. Begins to unfasten his clothes, mantle first, working downwards, dropping each garment on a chair in the corner of the room. He closes his eyes, tries for a calm in his breathing that will keep his hands steady.

He's naked by the time he thinks to look at his face in the mirror on the dresser. The cut has stopped bleeding. The smears of dried blood are very dark against his pale skin, a red that doesn't belong. He finds a towel in a drawer, dips a corner of it in the pitcher of water for washing that stands by the mirror.

“Brother,” Thor says behind him, and Loki looks up to see his reflection in the glass. Seated on the bed, half-naked now, too, mantle and armor discarded to leave his upper body bare. Where he sits, he's mostly in shadow, but a streak of sunlight from the window touches his hand where it rests on the blanket, shimmers gold in the fair hairs on his forearm. “Let me.”

It takes no thought to step across the room to him, to kneel down next to the hammer and offer up the towel, offer up his face. Thor takes them both, tilts Loki's chin between fingers and thumb, presses the wet cloth gently to his cheek. It's such a simple thing to give him, with so much advantage to gain – in the currency of Thor's trust, Thor's instincts to protect – that pride doesn't even enter into it. He can be still for this.

Thor's care is thorough, lingering. His touch is like that spray of sunlight on his arm.

There are jokes they should be making, barbs they should trade, as reassurances.

Neither of them says a word.

When Thor is done, he wipes the damp from Loki's skin with the dry end of the towel and then, for the longest minute, his hand simply stays there, still against Loki's face, palm against linen against cheek. It feels as if he's on the verge of breaking the silence, but whatever his thoughts are, they don't find their way past his lips. Loki is suddenly, unaccountably afraid to hear them.

He lifts Thor's hand away and plucks the cloth from his fingers, throws it on the bed. Leans across to his bedside table and grabs the bottle of oil he keeps there. Pulls the stopper out. Turns Thor's hand in his, palm upward, and pours oil into the cup of it. Thick, honey-yellow liquid, to the brim and overflowing, drops falling from Thor's fingers onto the floor.

He guides Thor's hand to the handle of the hammer, looks up to meet his eyes. Thor is bent forward to reach. Their faces are very close together. He squeezes Thor's slicked fingers in to curl around the metal shaft.

“Ready it for me,” he says.

Thor pulls in a quick, sharp breath. His eyes are wide, ripped open with lust. His fingers flex.

Loki pushes them downwards, a twisting slide of their joined hands down the length of the handle.

Thor's gaze snaps to the motion, staring, his tongue wetting his lips. His hair is falling forward, a curtain across his cheek. Loki reaches up and tucks it behind his ear, sweeps his thumb lightly along the shell of it. His erection had begun to flag, but now he is so hard he isn't certain he can bear it.

“Keep going,” he says, letting go of Thor's hand.

His own fingers are sticky with excess oil, but it won't be enough for this. He pours some more from the bottle onto them. Parts his knees and slips his hand back between his legs.

Thor is watching him now, watching him work himself open, but he can't take his own eyes off the hammer, off Thor's hand, large and firm on its grip, still moving, spreading oil over every inch of it, the metal turning slick and dripping under his touch. The muscles in Thor's arm shift with every motion, thick and sleek beneath the skin. Loki wants to lick at him, wants to rub his face against all that unbendable beauty. Wants...

His fingers brush up against his prostate and a low sound escapes him; a gasp, a whine, just beneath his breath.

“Loki,” Thor says. Fallen still. Pleading. Offering. “Take it. I know you can, brother. Let me see you.”

Something snaps in him, then, the steel wire of his control, and he scrambles to give what Thor's eyes are begging for. He pulls his fingers out, moves to straddle the hammer, one hand on Thor's knee to balance himself as he kneels up, shifts to find the right angle. He doesn't look up, keeps his head bent, his eyes closed, discovering by feel how his body will be able to fit with the object beneath him. The end of Mjölnir's shaft is blunt, flat; he has to use his fingertips to guide it inside, hold himself open. It's awkward, tricky, his muscles trembling with the effort to do it properly, to not give in to the impulse to simply slam himself down, to not be rushed by the wanton hunger to be filled. Then Thor's hand is on his shoulder, a tight, steadying grip, and he leans into it, and cants his hips, and just like that, the hammer is inside him.

“Oh,” he says, a much smaller sound than any he would have cared to make, filled with something like wonder. He traces the rim of his opening, the place where metal now sinks into flesh.

“Brother?” Thor asks, and he sounds concerned, on the verge of assuring him that it's all right to stop, that he doesn't need to do this.

But it isn't, and he does.

Realms and tree, but he needs this.

He straightens up, and sinks down.

Both his hands on Thor's knees, fingers digging into thighs, and he would have expected Thor's eyes to be on the hammer, watching it slowly disappear inside him, but they're on his face, flickering over it as if trying to take in and catalog every expression. He doesn't know what there is to see, beyond his body's response to the penetration, reflected, and that much is all right, he isn't trying to hide that at all. He doesn't know if he could.

The shaft isn't wide, but it's long, reaching deeper inside him than even Thor's cock has ever been. Straight and hard and he can feel every ridge on the grip, sliding one by one into the tight clutch of his hole, inch after inch of metal, stroking places within him that have never been touched. It's far too much, and he's leaving bruises where his fingers cling to the solid muscle of Thor's legs, his heart beating with an undercurrent of fear, but still there is the greed inside him, the hunger that won't be satisfied with anything less than all. So he takes it deeper, and deeper still, pushing against the burn that is too sharp to be pleasure, too overpowering to be anything but. Until at last there is no more left to take, and he is seated on the head of the hammer, his ass resting on the bulk of it.

He takes a slow, shuddering breath, holds still, gives his body a moment to adapt. Inside, he feels his muscles twitch against the press of metal. He clamps deliberately down, deliberately relaxes. Trying to mold himself around the presence inside him, and it works, it more than works.

Thor must see it in his face – how good it feels, how he has to do it again, and again, massaging his insides against the unforgiving surface of the handle – because he says,

“Yes.” He says, “Oh, Loki, that is...”

And his left hand is still on Loki's shoulder, thumb pressing in beneath the curve of his collarbone, close, so close to the hollow of his throat, but his right hand is between his own legs, squeezing his own hard cock through his pants. Fingers bent around the thick shape of it, rubbing as if he's not even aware of what he's doing, holding as if he has to rein himself in, weight himself down not to...

“Don't,” Loki says, reaching out to pull Thor's hand away, to undo the fastenings on his pants. “Let me.”

And then Thor's cock is hot in his palm, slick with moisture under his thumb when he eases the foreskin back, and he leans forward, drawn, needing to taste, to feel his lips stretch around it. Bending at the hips, moving without thinking.

But of course the hammer does not bend, the hammer does not move.

It is not for him to move it.

A sharp pull inside him, a sting of sudden pain that cuts him off short, forces him back.

He gasps out loud, discomfort and fear and something else, something entirely different.

In his mind's eye, clear, there is the moment on the bridge, lying on his back, his brother standing over him – in anger, in hurt – placing the hammer on his chest. Trapping him.

He tries never to think about that notch in time, about being caught there, beneath the one thing in all the realms that his trickery cannot shift, around which his magic cannot maneuver.

Sometimes, that moment is the only thing he can think about.

He rearranges himself again, into a position the hammer inside him will allow without injury. Speared on it, pegged and pinned, and he shifts his weight, a mere fraction from side to side, feeling how it restrains him. His breath is coming in quick, shallow pants. His cock is dripping. There is an ache in his chest like a branch about to crack, fissures spreading through white, living wood, hurtling towards an unknown breaking point.

Thor scoots forward on the bed, to the edge of it, closing the distance between them that Loki cannot bridge. The dark head of his cock bobs as he moves, released from Loki's hand, slaps against the flat planes of his stomach. Loki can't take his eyes off it.

“Fuck, yes,” he breathes, bending his neck, his back. “Come here.”

Thor takes himself in hand, angles his shaft towards Loki's mouth. His free hand settles on the back of Loki's neck. The tip of his cock slides along the curve of Loki's lower lip. Soft as a kiss, a first taste of what is coming, teasing them both. His thumb touches Loki's cheek.

“Loki,” Thor says. “Loki, I...”

He makes a sound, a growl of frustration.

His cock springs back from Loki's mouth as he lets it go, and then both his hands are on Loki's face, thumbs hooked under the edges of his cheekbones, tilting his head back.

Eye to eye, and his expression is so serious. Heartbroken.

A slow, slow caress, tracing the line on Loki's cheek where the wound has faded into nothing more now than a shadow of pain.

“When he cut you,” Thor says, and the words come haltingly, as if he has to search for the right ones, “I saw you falling. The memory of how you fell, into the space between realms. That's why...”

He pauses. Bites his lip and looks away. Beat after beat of silence.

“Brother...” Loki tries. Lays his hand on Thor's knee again, another point of contact. Reassurance he doesn't feel.

“You let go,” Thor says, turning back to him, and it's a sense of betrayal, an anger and a helplessness, wet in his blue eyes. “You let yourself fall. And you came back, you did, but in here -” His fingertips press against Loki's skull, hard as if they want to pierce through, reach inside. “- in here, you are still falling. Ever falling away from me. And I cannot bear it, but I don't know...”

“So keep me, then,” Loki says. The words rush from his lips before the thought has formed in his mind. “Hold on harder, hold me in place. Nail me down.”

It could be challenge, or mockery, sarcastic contempt. It's the last thing he wants, to stay here, waiting for the inevitable moment when he'll be cast out, found wanting.

It comes out a plea.

A raw, angry hope.

“Show me,” he says. “Show me I can't get away. Make me feel it.”

Or, no, perhaps it is a challenge after all, something in his tone a spur, sharp-pointed, boring into just the right spot. Because Thor growls again, his fingers twisting in Loki's hair, and he's fumbling – hurried, uncoordinated – to grip his cock, shove it against Loki's lips. And Loki opens his mouth to receive it, Thor pushing his head down with a desperate, sobbing force that sings in his blood, the blood they will never share, Thor thrusting in, thrusting home, making him gag, making him struggle to pull air in through flaring nostrils, fighting it, instinct thrumming his heart through his chest with rabbit adrenaline, getawaygetawaygetaway, and his hips tilt, and his whole body catches on the hammer inside him, fish on a hook, pleasure like a stab, dagger like a lightning bolt, and he gasps, opening wider, and Thor is in his throat, effortless, familiar angle, a fullness to be swallowed down, embraced and treasured, and the hammer is the tree against his back, the grass beneath his head, and Thor is everywhere, wrong-blooded brother hot like gold molten in his veins, weighing him down towards it.

The room is darker now, sunlight gone, Thor's hands suddenly gentle – not holding but caressing. Stroking his hair, his ears, his neck, his cheeks, his shoulders, the corners of his lips where they curve to take his length in. Quick, shallow thrusts, thick heat in his mouth, wanted, Thor saying his name, calling him brother as though the meaning of the word has never changed, could never change, and he hears the rain just before he feels it. Before he feels the hammer reach for Thor, magic expanding, pouring outwards, and his own magic is there, a conduit – not ice, not now, but coldest metal – vibrations like electricity, electricity like the music of storms, coursing through him, until the circuit closes, an unbroken line of power, flowing through Thor, through him, through Mjölnir, which is Thor, who is him, everything connected.

He is aware of Thor's hips moving, pistoning off the bed to fill him. Aware of his own throat tightening, his tongue shifting against flesh. Aware of his hands, curled around Thor's sweat-slicked hip bones, demanding him closer. Aware of his body grinding against the hammer inside him; jarring, rhythmic ripples of hunger that he cannot stop. Aware of the thunder, rising in the distance, aware of the rain, aware of the sounds Thor makes on every in-stroke. Aware of all of it, every detail, but all he can feel is the magic inside him, the thread of it along his spine. Anchor-line, life-line, and he is going to fall, he will always fall, it was known from the moment he was brought to this place where he can't belong – inevitability, apples to the ground, wolf's teeth around the moon – but this, this is the always that will catch him. Just as certain: the circle he is a part of, the bond that cannot snap, not blood but stronger, heartstrings deeper than veins. A weight that cannot be budged or lifted, shaken free. A counter-point to gravity, a pull to drag him back home. Regardless.

When the lightning strikes, it's there, in the core of his bones. A taste on his tongue as Thor spills, a cinch of pleasure in his balls, burning him dry, a shaking as the earth shakes underneath the cloud.

In the quiet afterward, there is only the rain falling.

He is still.



Later that night, he lies on the bed, beneath the covers, and Thor lies behind him. Skin against skin, heat curved along his back.

He thinks about being fourteen, about seeing his brother's fear in the dark. About that heady certainty, knowing that it belonged only to him.

Thor's beard scratches at his neck, his hand strokes down his hip, trails deeper along the edge of sleep, dipping into the crack of his ass. A tentative touch at his opening, a deep in-drawn breath. Loki pulls his bent knee a little closer to his chest, allowing. He still feels loose and open, more sore than is comfortable.

“Tomorrow morning,” Thor says, “I want to fuck you awake. Put my cock right here where my hammer has been.”

Loki isn't sure he could take him right now if he wanted to, and Thor's cock is soft against his backside, anyway, spent and licked clean and nestled safe in the space between their bodies. All the same, his hole flutters at the suggestion, flexes against Thor's fingertips.

“Yes,” Thor mumbles against his shoulder, the word half lost in a kiss. “You will like that.”

He will, of course, and for once he doesn't feel like arguing the point.

He gives a non-committal hum instead, and settles further back into Thor's arms.

Somewhere far away beneath the rain the thunder is still rolling, echoes of a storm that doesn't die away. Thor's hand drifts back up around his waist, tugging him closer.

When he was fourteen, it had been the strangest revelation: Thor's fear of losing him a bright leash to lead him by, and to have that power, undeserved.

Strange that he never truly saw how any leash must be as strong from either end.

“You shouldn't worry,” he says, flippant, mocking. Taking Thor's hand in his where it lies against his chest. “If I were ever to vanish again, you are far too possessive not to find me. If only to put your various belongings up my ass.”

Thor squeezes him tighter; a long, silent press of muscles and warmth.

“You should hold that as a promise, brother,” he says at last. “If only because your ass was clearly brought into the realms to be filled by my belongings. As often as can be arranged.”

Loki makes a disbelieving scoffing noise, but the lightning is still in his veins, thunder still rests with the frost in the hollows in-between his heartbeats.

Tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, Thor's promise will begin to chafe at his thoughts, he knows that. A too-tight snare. An oath based on conditions that of course he cannot meet. He will want to escape it. He won't trust it to hold his weight, the weight of his actions.

But tonight, there is rain drifting across the deepest reaches of ice that have never been touched.

Thor's breath against his back is all the counterweight he needs to keep him, and he doesn't fall further than asleep.