They are young – young in mortal terms, young as in inexperienced and new to the world of gods and shining things, of immortality and the weight that comes with it. They are – if Loki searches for some Midgard equivalent, some quantifiable number to speak – sixteen and seventeen: bodies lithe, faces fresh, innocence dirtied finely as if to say, ‘they are just children’.
Looking back now, Loki hates his brother more thoroughly at this age than in all their history, for he still possesses some remnants of sanity to speak of, some pieces of untarnished truth to hang on to – we are brothers.
It is at sixteen he slips a poison in Thor’s drinking horn, placing it beside his brother’s bedside, and watches as Thor – seventeen and golden and arrogant beyond any reason – invites the maiden beside him into his room, as gracious as a true prince. She laughs and Loki suddenly likes her because they both see through Thor’s charade. He remembers her well now – her skin had been milk-white, her hair the colour of tree bark falling around her shoulders.
Both of them slip inside the room and Loki takes this moment to creep from the shadows and ease the door open, watching as Thor offers her a drink and she politely declines, before he takes a sip himself.
The reaction that follows is something fascinating. Thor’s skin loses all the brilliance and his complexion turns ashen, his face suddenly drenched in sweat as he tips over, cracking his head against the floor, his body going limp as the poison works its way through his veins. The shadows around the room play over the lines of his brother’s body – the sweat shining like metal, the life in his eyes darkened.
He is like you at death – a creature of black and silver, thinks Loki, before he takes action. Loudly, he calls for the guards and sweeps into the room, expression worried and hysterical as the girl is grabbed and immediately taken away as a suspect. Loki is the prince’s brother, of course – no one would ever suspect Loki – and he follows as Thor is escorted to the healing chambers.
The girl is executed for treason against the crown prince, and Loki feels but an inkling of remorse as he sits at Thor’s bedside.
His fingers trace his brother’s cheeks, soft and pliant, before kissing his brow and tasting the salt poison in the sweat. This is how much it takes to kill him – the immortal golden son, the one who holds you. It is a lovely discovery.
(From that day on, Loki drinks first of Thor’s cup, and imagines he taste like all the metallic poison things to his brother when Thor licks the rim at the end of each draught. For if Loki is to be but a shadow to his brother, he would like to be the most dangerous one.)
The second time comes during a period of Vanir war.
Odin marches the Aesir over the beaches where Njord lies, watching as he brings wave after ruthless wave to kill. Freyr, the crown prince of Vanaheim, is like Thor, Loki remembers hearing from one soldier to another – but more beautiful, more fierce, more mature.
Odin teaches one son to be a warrior and the other seidr. Loki knows the runes to blunt swords and turn arrows and promise a man victory when he throws a blade of grass over his battlements and has it turn into a spear.
It is no wonder that an unerring spear that had chased over miles wounds Thor – a screaming weapon that tears through the air before finding the joint in his brother’s armour – right where shoulder plate met breastplate.
In the healing tent where Loki finds him, Thor sits with his torso bare, bleeding, as some nameless servant hastily tries to stem the bleeding. Loki watches from his bedside, his face blank as the white of the bandages drink in the red.
‘You do not seem worried, brother,’ laughs Thor, face twisted in pain. When he gets no response, he grabs a dagger from his belt and leans forward, slicing a long cut across the back of Loki’s hand.
‘Thor!’ yelps Loki, pulling away, teeth bared in shock and annoyance. ‘What is wrong with you?’
‘Ah, so we both do bleed red,’ chuckles Thor, deep and rumbling like the thunder he embodies.
‘Of course we do, you oaf,’ mutters the other, stringing together a charm of runes for healing in his hand, ‘we’re brothers.’
Thor’s face is oddly contemplative. ‘Though we have grown distant. It seems you seek the shadows and death more frequently than my company now. To think how eagerly you volunteered to join in this war.’
Loki murmurs the runes and watches as his skin stitches back together, back to their white smoothness, before glancing up. ‘Your time is occupied with father and kingly duties. I dare not interrupt. As for this war, perhaps I wish to simply protect you, Thor.’
He is not surprised at the laughter that erupts from Thor. ‘Me, brother? I am more worried for you with your seidr and weak form.’
For a moment, Loki stares at Thor’s wound heavily, voice soft. ‘It is the harm you cannot protect yourself from that I am interested in.’
Thor does not reply, but he watches his brother with that worry in his eyes – as if Loki will disappear into the wild and never return. It becomes more common as time passes on, as the Vanir make peace and spit, as Freyr and Freya join the court and the centuries drift – as endless as the waves in an ocean.
It also serves to note that Thor learns to exercise more caution in battle after recovering from his wounds.
(And time provides Loki with more lazy afternoons when the sun dips into the horizon, a perfect moment to think of ways to kill Thor. Sometimes it is as simple as asking the man to hold something – a large tome, maybe even Mjolnir – and tip him down a cliff or high tower. Sometimes it goes on for a long, convulted episode where Loki will disguise himself as a visitor – a beautiful elf from Alfheim – and seduce his brother to the point where Loki himself can wrap a scarf around the neck and choke the life out of Thor without any resistance.)
Physical combat has never been his forte so it is a wonder he even tries.
‘FIGHT ME!’ he screams at his brother, who looks so delightfully lost, wounded, betrayed – and Thor does fight, bless him.
It ends with Loki hanging onto the end of Gungnir, seeing his father’s face and knowing he is no Odinson, he is nothing and Thor has every right to own him and Loki will never escape – oh – oh –
He remembers falling for a long time after that.
(In hindsight, this is the problem – that Loki is owned by Thor. That all of Loki’s faculties, be it mental or physical, can easily be used for Thor’s sake if he was asked. His brother feels like the pair of shackles around his wrists, the fetters on his ankles, the chokehold on his hear – throat.)
In the mortal’s floating castle, where the green monster rages within the dungeons, destroying, he sees his brother and tricks him once more with an illusion, letting Thor slip into the cage and threaten to fall the thousands of feet below into the salt sea where Jormungandr lies, coiled and ready to swallow.
He drops Thor and watches with some remote curiosity as to how it will turn up. Will Thor end up dashed upon the rocks like a mortal, his body cracked open for vultures to pick at, for Loki’s son to drip poison into and dissolve Thor upon the soil and sea?
Somewhere else in his head – where it is sane and is not filled with Chitauri and torture and stolen magic relics – he realizes, quietly, that Thor falls for his illusions because Thor loves Loki – loves him utterly and wants him back and –
Ah. I see. A smile on his mouth – half-quirked and bitter for it is a bit late for this realization. The fact is there is a part that Loki owns in Thor. There is part Loki can hurt in Thor.
(His hatred comes from jealousy and from love, from favouritism and a need to please, from being the shadow in Thor’s sun, the dark to his brother’s light, from feeling claimed by a person he wishes to escape from but cannot. It is a relief that perhaps Thor might hate him in return, that they can be equal and free on these terms and these alone.)
On top of the Stark Tower, once more, Loki decides physicality is the best way.
It is brutal and messy – Thor’s hits feel like thunder, his merciless violence knocking Loki down repeatedly. Warrior born and bled is his brother and Loki wonders why he does this – why he wants to be close to his brother with bloodshed between them. It is only at the end, pressed against Thor, seeing the electric blue of his eyes in stark detail –
Stop that – stop loving me – stop please you can’t I’m not yours I’m not I’m not I’m –
He stabs Thor’s ribs with a small knife to distract, an age old trick, so he can slip one through Thor’s throat right under his jaw and kill him, swiftly, and yet - yet –
‘Sentiment,’ he says, in a breath, feeling his eyes well and he cries and Thor lets go – finally –
(Nursing his wounds, it comes to him, in slow trickles, that for all his hatred, for all his attempts, it would only be okay if Thor dies away from him – far, where Loki’s eyes cannot reach, where he will not have to see his brother actually lose his life. Poison and spears, knives and falls – all away from Loki, where Thor can limp off and die, where Loki will simply never have to see that fateful day his world falls apart and ends.)
Thor bleeds on the pavement and Loki is present and it is the most horrible feeling – he feels unbearably young again because he doesn’t know what to do and a little bit of him just wants to stand aside and watch because Thor cannot actually die –
The rest of the mortals gather around him, touching him softly, delicately, his face, his arms, the blood on his torso. Loki wants to scream – kill them all for who has the right to touch a god but another god?
He descends the air, letting the carnage hang still for a moment, in order to approach the crater his brother lies within. The air is silent and he feels the mortal Doctor Doom watch intently, waiting for Loki to make his move.
Loki knows he has convinced everyone that he means his brother harm and he does, there is nothing to deny it. Yet here, now, with death hanging in front of him, there is something that screams ‘no’, that wishes anything but a final end to Thor. Again, he is victim to sentiment, again, he must pay for these feelings.
When they see him approach, the mortals gather in a defensive position around the body of his brother and Loki sneers.
‘Out of my way before your beloved god dies.’
One of them – he cares not who – responds, ‘And what – we move and you’re not going to kill him?’
‘He is my brother,’ snaps Loki, ‘if he dies today because you did not let me near him, I will hunt you down individually and slaughter you so cruelly that you will beg for death days before you receive such a blessing.’
There is a pause in the air, and it hangs low and heavy upon them all. He can feel their tiny, human brains work through the possibilities and prepares to slaughter them all now anyway in case they refuse. Thankfully, such musings end when one of them murmurs, ‘let him,’ and the mortals accede – stiffly and with many a wary look – moving aside for Loki to pass through and kneel by his brother’s side.
Thor’s eyes flutter – blue and still so lovely – and his beard is smeared with drying blood from his mouth, his chest wounded heavily. Loki hates this. Even at the brink of death, Thor can call Loki to his side. Even now, he can make Loki ache.
‘I know runes, I have seidr,’ he tells Thor quietly. ‘Let me.’ For healing magic only works when one wishes and acquiesces to it, they both know. Thor – warrior born and bled – had been conditioned to be wary of magic, because that is how seidr was always thought to be – woman’s magic, Freya’s wiles, and only the All-Father was the exception. And so, consent would be needed from his brother if Loki wanted the process to go unhindered and with success.
‘Loki,’ coughs out Thor, and his eyes are warm despite Hel’s hands reaching for him.
‘Don’t speak my name,’ snaps Loki, irritated at how his brother wastes his breath with such idle words. He hopes Thor cannot see him like this – worried and dangerously close to tears. ‘Say yes.’
‘F-For you, yes,’ says Thor, and Loki wishes he could have simply turned his back and left to a place far from Thor’s death, far from a place as horrible and mangled as this. Nothing hurts like Thor’s power over him – nothing pains like the fact that Loki would do many a thing for his brother if he was asked.
With gritted teeth, he murmurs charm after charm, runes slip-sliding on his tongue with familiar ease – this to stem the bleeding, this to knit the bones, this to clean the wound, this to slide skin and muscle together, this to leave no scar, this to protec –
‘No, not that one – ’ says Thor, ‘I don’t want – ’
‘To be protected? You stupid man,’ sighs Loki, feeling tired and seidr faltering. It is a large wound and it will take time and energy. He cannot be damned about the mortals and presses a hand to Thor’s brow, leaning over to whisper in his brother’s ear, ‘this would be best done elsewhere,’ and Thor breathes out a ‘yes’, before Loki coats them with invisibility.
The mortals predictably have small breakdowns over the sudden disappearance as Loki silently limps along with his brother out of the crater unseen and takes him to a hotel five blocks north and four blocks east. Disguised and familiar with the customs needed, Loki gets a room and promptly enters it, pushing his brother onto the bed and casting away the illusion of Midgardian clothes.
‘You will need to recuperate and not re-open your wounds,’ he says, dropping his armour and sitting beside his brother in his tunic and trousers, toeing off his boots.
‘You are soft with me today, brother,’ wonders Thor aloud, running a hand down his chest plate and skirting around the edges where it is caved in.
Loki stares at the far wall, face blank. ‘Your death via a mortal’s creations would be unseemly.’
‘Is that it?’ With a groan, Thor undoes the clasps of his cloak and armour, pulling them off and dropping them onto the side of the bed. He lies back down in his tunic and trousers, exhausted, watching his brother with a contemplative look.
‘Rest here and heal and return to your mortals. Do not succumb to such tomfoolery again,’ says Loki, standing up and moving away, but Thor’s laugh makes him stop.
‘I see,’ says Thor, grinning unabashedly, and Loki grows irritated.
‘I see? What? What does someone as stupid as you see?’
Thor watches him – smiling and warm – and Loki would do anything to stalk over and strangle his brother, but he doesn’t. He can’t. Therein lies the problem.
‘It is a relief to know you do not wish my death.’
‘Oh, but I do!’ growls Loki in frustration, ‘I wish nothing more to kill you, my darling not-brother, except I cannot, do you understand? Perhaps it is a curse fath – the All-Father has put upon me. His seidr has always been stronger than mine.’
‘A curse named love, I would guess,’ says Thor.
‘Ah, but love is pure and forgiving, Thor. It is supposed to dignify us, exalt us,’ says Loki, his smile becoming bitter as he turns to face his brother, ‘my love for you is anything but.’
There is a challenge somewhere in those words, and his brother finds it, the way those crystal blue eyes harden and sharpen as if accepting the gauntlet. Thor’s gaze tracks him, heavy with curiosity and he says, achingly slow, ‘then show me.’
Loki moves as a predator, approaching his brother who lies stock-still upon the bed. Quickly, he straddles the man’s waist, careful not to touch the newly healed wound on Thor’s chest, and bends over, so close that he can count the number of lashes that fringe the electric blue of his brother’s eyes.
‘You do not know what you ask for,’ he says, voice low and quiet as his warm breath washing over Thor, who does not move a muscle.
‘Which is why I ask,’ he replies, soft, and Loki’s eyes flutter shut before he presses his mouth against Thor. It is soft and warm, and his brother responds immediately, no hint of hesitation as his hands slide around Loki’s throat and cradle his skull as they kiss.
Loki flicks his tongue out, tasting the metallic tang of blood, and Thor lets out a huff, his own pulling Loki deeper, demanding to be tasted. Loki has never been able to refuse his brother and now is no exception – he dives, tracing the sharp ridges of Thor’s teeth, feeling the puffs of breath through the man’s nose as he slides his tongue alongside Loki’s.
Somewhere in this Thor makes a sound, like a whine, and Loki knows this is where he owns his brother – right in the place where love resides, the most vulnerable part, the part that makes Thor oblivious that he could have died under Loki.
Loki’s fingers pull the hem of Thor’s tunic upwards, pulling back from the kiss, his lips swollen and wet, and Thor lifts his arms so Loki can toss the tunic away. Leaning down on his brother’s waist, Loki can distinctly feel the heat of his brother’s cock against his thigh, and he traces it under the trousers, feeling it curve and twitch.
‘Is this dignifying? Do you feel exalted?’ murmurs Loki, and Thor catches it anyway.
‘Loki, I lov – ’
With godly speed, Loki presses his hand against Thor’s mouth, his expression pained. ‘Do not say these words. Not now.’
Thor frowns, but he gives a stiff nod, and Loki retreats, pulling his fingers back to skate over his brother’s sides to the strings of his breeches. He unties them swiftly, lifting himself to slide the trousers down and expose Thor’s half-hard cock.
‘So you will take this love of mine, is it?’ wonders Loki aloud before he pulls off his own tunic and trousers, tossing them aside. He tilts his hips forward and their cocks brush, pleasure singing up Loki’s veins and Thor groaning in turn.
He repeats the motion, rutting against his brother, the friction spiking up his spine relentlessly as he moans, hands framing Thor’s face and his mouth open and panting above Thor’s own. Thor tilts upwards, kissing him to swallow up his moans, and his hands grip Loki’s hips, pulling him closer, tighter.
Loki pulls from the kiss, seeing the blown pupils of his brother, and groans. ‘Circle your – ah – hands around us, do it.’
‘Your fingers – hn – are longer, brother,’ pants Thor, smirking to tease him, and Loki bites at Thor’s lips, breaking the skin and lapping up the blood. In return, Thor’s fingers on his hips tighten and Loki has to smile.
He props himself up on an elbow beside Thor’s head, mouth tucked in the crook of his brother’s neck, as his other hand snakes between them and circles around both their cocks. His grip pulls them together from base to head, so he feels their glans kiss and part with a line of precome each time Loki shoves up against his brother.
‘God, brother, brother,’ moans Thor and Loki drags his teeth across the skin of his brother’s collarbone, leaving lines of red to show his place. He leans up, nipping at length of Thor’s jaw, feel the bristle of beard under his mouth and groans, spilling filth into Thor’s ear as he moves his hips.
‘Do you want my hand tighter, brother?’ he asks, mouth curved into a smirk, ‘want me right up close, so close you can’t breathe, and have my cock against yours, slip-sliding in your come.’
‘Loki,’ growls Thor, and Loki tightens his fingers, the cord of muscle in his arm coming into view as he balances and thrusts, cocks rubbing up against each other, precome mixing in with one another as Loki feels his rigid cockhead catch against the tip of his brother’s dick and slide back down, making him gasp.
‘Like this, close to you, finally having you, Thor,’ pants Loki, ‘on equal ground, yes, oh – ah, hah – ’
‘Brother – please – ’ and Thor’s whine catches in his throat when Loki thumbs the head of his brother’s cock, pressing against the slit.
‘Don’t come yet, Thor,’ says Loki, face now serious and voice low, hips stilling. ‘I want you to understand – this is how we work, this is how we will always be.’
‘Loki,’ sighs out Thor, voice pained, ‘I love you.’
‘Don’t – don’t – ’ he stutters, ‘don’t say that.’
The hands on Loki’s hips begin to tighten as Thor bucks upwards, sliding his cock against Loki’s once more, over and over, ‘listen, brother, I love you, I love you, I love you – ’
And Loki is shivering in his own grasp, moaning as he moves along with Thor, rubbing up against him, feeling the heat at the base of his spine and how it pools into his gut, making his thighs tremble. ‘You don’t, Thor, I’m nothing to you – not a brother, not a lover, not anything – ’ he says, in a rush, in a breath, and he buries his face in Thor’s neck, breathing hard, his eyes burning.
‘Loki, Loki, Loki,’ says Thor – the name a rune, a charm, magic that wraps around Loki’s bones, makes his rhythm become messy as he ruts shamelessly against his brother, waiting for his orgasm to finally crest.
‘Don’t – you don’t understand – ’ he breathes against Thor’s skin, feeling it in the tremble of his thighs as Thor fucks into his fist, his cock hot and thick against Loki, pressing against him, the friction now ruthless and pleasurable to the point where Loki cannot hold back.
‘Loki,’ says Thor, his voice the low rumble of thunder into Loki’s ear, ‘you are my everything.’
And Loki comes.
He shudders and feels his cock twitch, coating Thor’s abdomen in semen as he rides it out, feeling Thor gasp and shiver out his own orgasm, and he feels warm and drained and good.
He collapses beside Thor, body pressed up against him, and Thor curls an arm around his brother, pulling him right close.
‘You will leave me in the morning,’ he murmurs over Loki’s brow, lips skimming the hairline and leaving kisses.
‘Yes,’ replies Loki, because he will not be the one to lie. Then: ‘let me cast the protection charm, Thor.’
‘No.’ He shakes his head. ‘No, it would be unfair of me to use your seidr for my cause.’
‘Stupid oaf,’ snaps Loki, but his tone is light and he feels too drowsy to be angry. It is, of course, a small surprise that Thor doesn’t seem to understand how Loki would do anything for him – and if that meant use his seidr, he would. Perhaps it is a power best kept from his brother, thinks Loki, just as he knows it is best he does not acknowledge that he owns Thor in turn for being owned by him.
‘Sleep now, brother,’ says Loki.
‘But you will be gone when I wake.’
‘And I will come back.’
‘Aye. That you will,’ and Thor kisses Loki’s brow once more, soft and lingering, and Loki feels a ball in his throat, eyes burning, because no one can claim him the way his brother does. No one can have him so completely and absolutely.
(He casts the charm in the dead of night where Thor’s breaths are deep and the only light is cast by the electricity of Midgard, and his tongue flicks over the runes quick and low, and he presses his name at the very end - Loki – protector of Thor, guardian and watcher. The only who can kill Thor. But he never will, and that is where the power lies.)