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the sun did not yet know

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Steve takes the fall on his right shoulder, rolling into it to protect his throbbing left shoulder. He lands hard on a cold floor anyway, temple glancing off the stone hard enough to hurt but not enough to move the blindfold. Rumlow’s gloved hand in his hair pulls him back up to his knees, head bent back so Steve can barely breathe, but at least now Steve knows where he is to spit at him again.

“Here you are, your Majesty,” Rumlow says, satisfied. “Captain America.”

“This is not the warrior your masters promised,” someone—your majesty—says, from in front of them and above. Rumlow’s men shift around them, the sound making Steve vaguely queasy as chills chase over the healing lash marks across his back. He can feel air moving around them, cold with his chest bare, but he can’t tell how big the space his, how far your majesty is, whether there’s anyone else besides Rumlow’s men.

“The very same, my lord. The rainbow bridge took some of the shine off, but it’s still him,” Rumlow says, pulling the blindfold off Steve, jerking it roughly where the knot’s caught some of his hair.

Steve takes a shuddering gasp despite himself, almost physically struck by the unearthly size of the room. The Nazis would like this sort of thing, gold for miles and your majesty nearly lost in it, a solid bear of a man up on a dias of gold, on a low throne of gold. Schmidt would wet himself for such a gaudy grand thing.

Steve gets one more shaky breath as he takes in the full size of the room, craning his neck but unable to see the ceiling, catching sight of people—what must be a court—behind them, and guards besides Rumlow’s men, looking small and drab in their black uniforms. Steve’s never felt so small in his life, never mind the seasick imbalance of finding himself pigeon chested and skinny again after the queasy disorientation of however they landed here.

Rumlow throws Steve down by the hair again and Steve doesn’t go any more gracefully than the last time, catching his chin on the inlaid stone, hands still tied tightly behind him. He hisses and starts to push himself back up to his knees, only to get Rumlow’s boot in the middle of his back. “So what’ll it be, your majesty?” Rumlow says conversationally, perfectly at ease even as he slowly presses the breath out of Steve, boot grinding into the barely healed lash marks. “We kept our end of the bargain, the rainbow bridge is your problem.”

Your majesty makes an annoyed noise far above them and Steve does his best to glare a hole in the side of the boot he’d polished yesterday. “I’ll discuss it with your masters, errand boy.” A snap of fingers, loud in the sudden frozen silence of Rumlow and his men gone rigid. “Take the slave away.”

It’s so absurd Steve nearly doesn’t understand until he realizes that the hands hauling him up aren’t Rumlow or his mens’—a pair of the strange guards haul Steve up in the midst of them, towering over not just Steve but Rumlow and the other SS goons too, taller than Steve’s mind had been prepared to accept. Steve sways on his feet from more than just the pain, legs gone jelly under him if not for the hard hands on his arms.

“See you later, Cap,” Rumlow says, reaching out to pat Steve on the cheek. Steve spits in his face, the guards dragging him off as Rumlow wipes his face.

What exactly the Nazis sold him off for is clear as soon as Steve’s unceremoniously chained to the foot of a massive bed and left there to contemplate his sins. The chain’s just long enough to allow him to be bent over the bed, bigger than some rooms Steve’s rented, but not long enough to let him reach anything else in the ridiculously large room; just the fireplace alone is bigger than some rooms Steve’s rented.

Even with the thin collar around his neck, the guards didn’t bother to untie his wrists, but Steve can’t stretch to the end of his chain far enough to reach anything to chafe the thin cord against. Trying to rub his wrists against the carved posts at the foot of the bed just gets him sore wrists and a sorer back, the lash marks burning to match his wrists rubbed raw. The floor is stone like everywhere else, covered with the fur of some kind of huge, unrecognizable beast, wooly and thick enough that Steve can feel for the first time how cold his feet are as the rest of the hurt starts to sink in.

Steve’s just slid down onto it, leaning against the foot of the bed to rest his back, when he hears a door unlatch somewhere out of sight. The set of rooms, what Steve saw as he was dragged kicking though, are sprawling, hung with rich fabrics and oversized furniture, though Steve tries not to think about or look at the bed he’s leaning against, and the size of man who would need such a thing. An improvement over the cells and labs the SS kept him in, or Rumlow’s spartan officer’s quarters, but only insofar as Steve doesn’t know exactly what your majesty intends to do with him yet. Rumlow had started out kind, too.

Your majesty finally steps into view, arms crossed over his chest, and he’s bigger than he looked on the dais, broad shoulders made ever broader by the heavy drape of a cloak brushing his heels. If not for the long hair and the close trimmed beard, he could be a poster for the Reich’s Ubermensch, blond and strong-jawed as they come.

“So,” your majesty says. “You are still a disappointment.”

Steve stiffens; as though it’s his fault the Nazis traded him away like a show pony with a limp.

Your majesty crosses the room in three steps and he’s bigger yet looming over Steve, leaning down to haul him up by one big hand around his arm. Steve tries to kick away as he’s pushed down over the bed, heart racing even though he knew to expect it, panic clawing at him with the easy way he’s held down with one big hand in the middle of his back. The blankets smell like smoke and wool and Steve feels like he’s suffocating, no leverage to get away or even fight back with his hands tied, the bed too tall for his bare feet to touch the floor like this.

“Be still,” your majesty snaps, and then Steve’s wrists are free and he’s up, scrambling back across the bed as far as the chain allows. Not far enough; just barely past the foot of the bed, not even out of arm’s reach.

Steve breathes fast and shallow. He’s made a misstep already, your majesty’s face dark. The thin collar bites into the back of Steve’s neck as he leans away, wound tight even though this has been inevitable since Rumlow blindfolded him. Inevitable, maybe, since he let the Nazis take him alive, even though he’d been barely alive enough to do anything about it and half blind with grief over Bucky besides.

“You are a filthy disappointment,” your majesty says, frowning at him. “Come.”

Steve’s breath catches; it’s not that he’s scared, exactly, but he freezes where he is. At least with Rumlow he’d been more than a match, even if it hadn’t mattered in the end, but your majesty could break one of Steve’s wrists without thinking much of it.

“You will obey me,” your majesty says, one hand on the chain to Steve’s collar, the threat clear enough.

Steve lifts his chin, heart beating fast. “And if I don’t?”

Your majesty looks him up and down slowly. “Then I will make you obey, or I shall send you back to your masters on Midgard.” Back to Rumlow, back to Zola’s lab table, away from whatever chance at breaking out of this gilded cage he might have.

Except—Midgard. The wrongness of it all hits him physically, like a punch in the gut, because this gilded cage is as far from home as he could possibly be—the Nazis had traded him away to— “Asgard?” Steve says, his throat thick with what he’d overheard of Zola and Schmidt’s plans. “This is Asgard.” And your majesty’s not just an Ubermensch wet dream, but Thor himself, king of Asgard.

Yes,” Thor says, annoyed. “Come, so that I may release you for a bath, as we do on Asgard, and tend your wounds, as we do on Asgard.” Steve’s stomach growls in the silence and Thor raises his eyebrows with half a smile. “And I shall feed you, as we do on Asgard.”

That gets Steve to move; he might not be the size he was, but he hasn’t eaten since last night and the mention of food after the queasiness of landing here makes him light headed. He makes himself inch closer along the bed, legs still jelly from being thrown around and the heady shock of finding out all that Ahnenerbe nonsense to be true.

Thor catches him with one big hand around Steve’s arm again, gentler this time, but Steve still flinches back despite himself. Thor puts his hand to the chain where it attaches to Steve’s collar and brings it away with a quiet click, no key that Steve saw. Steve pulls away without thinking about it, but Thor keeps a hand on him, like he thinks Steve’s going to bolt. And maybe he is, even if he has no idea where he’d go. Steve hates himself for the raw stink of fear and sweat on him, worse now as Thor tugs him down to stand and Steve barely brushes his shoulder in bare feet, Thor looming in boots and fully dressed. Next to the smell of Thor in clean clothes and what can’t possibly be aftershave, Steve smells himself like he hasn’t since the Nazis got him, feverish hot and panicked since the disorientation of finding himself small again.

Thor loosens his cloak and lets it drop to the floor, pushing Steve ahead of him as he steps over the fabric.

The door beyond is a bathroom, palatial with its sunken tub and wide, high windows, the sky already tipping towards twilight. Steve balks, because how do they do baths on Asgard, with a tub big enough to fuck or drown in, but Thor propels him forward, hand on Steve’s shoulder. He startles back against Thor as the faucet starts of its own accord, surprising a huffed laugh out of Thor, who squeezes his shoulder before releasing him.

“Strip,” Thor says, turning his back on Steve for the first time. The door’s closed; the windows are too high; if Thor means to fuck him then Steve may as well find out how sooner rather than later, even if his heart hasn’t stopped racing. He swallows convulsively, hands on the drawstring band of the thin hospital pants they’d put him in, cuffs rolled now that they’re ten sizes too big for him.

He takes a breath and unties them, stepping out of the fabric as Thor turns back to him, towels and a few small jars in hand. Thor presses a small cloth and round ball of soap into his hand but doesn’t otherwise touch him, gesturing at the tub, where the faucet has stopped but the water steams.

Steve looks between the water and Thor apprehensively, hand tight around the slippery soft ball of soap.

“I have already bathed. And I do not care for blood in my bathwater,” Thor says.

Steve catches sight of himself in a large, silvered mirror on the other side of the room; even in the hazy dim reflection Steve’s all pale skin blotched with red blush, his knees scuffed and one of the lash marks across his back oozing blood slowly where the thin skin of it broke open. The welts across his ass and thighs are nearly gone, just dark bruises now. He ducks his head, blush spreading down his narrow chest for all that his feet freeze on the cool tile.

Thor gestures at the bathwater again and Steve finally steps down into it, wary even though Thor stays where he is, still fully dressed. The water, when Steve finally steps into it, is only just to his knees, not enough to hide him if he stands. Not enough to hide much if he sits, either, but he glances at Thor anyway and gets another indulgent wave of the hand.

Steve sits with his back to Thor, as if he’s had any privacy or dignity since he joined the Army, but unnerved anyway, being watched intently like this. The hot water stings on the open lash mark and darkening welts, but Steve unravels more than he’d thought, his knees and feet and back aching after being thrown around roughly. His left shoulder throbs, but he can’t feel anything out of place or see any bruising as he rinses, Thor still watching him intently.

Steve scrubs his hair and what he can reach of his skin, dawdling if he’s honest about it, uncomfortable in the hot water and under scrutiny, but not about to get back in arm’s reach sooner than he has to. He rinses his stinging back, worrying his lip raw at the thought of an infection here, so far from home, and here, back in his skinny frail body.

The respite, if that’s what this is, doesn’t last long, Thor dipping his hand in to test the water, starting to go cool. “Come here,” Thor says, sitting placidly on the stone floor. Steve hesitates for half a heartbeat; there’s no chain this time, but he hasn’t got the shadow of a doubt that if he balked this time, he’d find out what made to obey looks like.

Steve steps up out of the tub slowly, acutely aware of his nakedness as the water chills on his skin and the collar retains the heat of the bath, thin and warm at the base of his throat. He hadn’t gotten a good look at it when they put it on him, but it’s light, nearly forgettable if he doesn’t touch it.

Thor unfolds himself from his spot on the floor, a large towel in hand as he approaches Steve slowly, like an animal he’s trying not to spook. Steve lets himself be enveloped in it, shivering with the effort of holding himself still as he’s rubbed dry, brisk and efficient despite the forced intimacy of it. Thor goes gentle with his bleeding back and his left shoulder when Steve hisses and flinches from his touch there. When Steve’s dry but still naked, Thor takes his face in hand, turning his face back and forth like he’s looking for something.

Whether he found it or not, he nudges Steve over to kneel against a chest, wrapped in the damp towel. “This will hurt, but it will make you heal faster than your Midgardian medicines,” Thor says, showing Steve a little pot of ointment before making him lean forward against the chest.

Steve braces for it, watching his own reflection and Thor’s in the mirror, but the pain never comes. It stings across the split skin of the opened lash mark, but otherwise the only pain is from the bruising pressure of the ointment being rubbed into what will probably be scars. Would never have been scars if he’d stayed his other size, would have healed fast enough on their own if he wasn’t suddenly back in this fragile body.

Even if he were in his new body, Thor’d be more than a match for him, broad and likely taller than Steve. Though it’s hard to tell, like this.

Thor works slowly, rubbing cool ointment into the lash marks across Steve’s back. “Who did this,” Thor says without pausing.

“Who d’you think?” Steve snaps, patience worn thin.

Thor puts a hand under his chin, tipping Steve’s head up so they make eye contact in the mirror, so that Steve’s breath comes short and he can feel his thready pulse pick up under Thor’s hands. “I do not care for willfulness.” He holds Steve like that for a beat, and then releases him so that Steve tips forward, gulping for breath.

Steve leans on the chest and hangs his head. Contrariness buys him nothing, if he can make himself simper and fawn the way he couldn’t before. “Rumlow,” Steve says eventually.


Steve bites back his first response, because it doesn’t matter why Thor wants to know. Steve’s strung tight with pain and hunger and fear when he admits it to himself, but maybe cooperation will buy him what contrariness won’t. “About a week ago,” Steve says to the floor.

Thor makes an annoyed noise at that, but otherwise says nothing.

“Don’t you have—people for this?” Steve says, hissing at the cold dab of ointment on his sore shoulder. “My lord,” he adds as an afterthought, if he’s going to make the best of this until he gets out of here, dependent on Thor’s good graces.

“Yes,” Thor says, not pausing in his work. “But you are a very pretty disappointment. And you may simply call me master,” Thor says magnanimously. Steve does his best to not stiffen; worse after Thor taps his ass. “Up,” he says.

Steve swallows, his belly twisting around nothing. His knees shake despite himself as he pushes himself up and allows himself to be pushed forward across the chest, knees nudged apart. The stone tile hurts his scraped knee; the edge of the chest bites into his stomach; he tries to concentrate on that and not look at the mirror as he waits to be fucked.

He flinches hard enough to crack his knees against the chest when Thor brushes a dry thumb across his sore hole, Steve’s nails digging into his palms as he waits. No pressure, not yet, but there were enough of them last time that this time will hurt no matter what.

“Who did this?” Thor says, sharper than last time, his other hand coming to rest on Steve’s ass, the warmth of his palm making the welts sting. It must look as bad as it feels, to be worth asking about. Steve wonders if Thor’ll get his money back for damaged goods, or just return to sender.

“Rumlow,” Steve says, forcing himself to not cringe away, to stay still. “And his men. Last night.” He swallows, making himself stop babbling.

The sound of his own breathing is suddenly loud, chills chasing down his back and thighs.

“Stay,” Thor says after a long minute, and gets up. Steve lifts his head to see where he’s going, if he intends to fuck Steve with something else instead, but catches sight of himself in the mirror, naked and knees spread, just waiting obediently. The little collar is gold like everything else in this fucking place, barely anything but Steve can see it shaking in the mirror as he tries to get himself under control.

Thor puts a heavy hand on Steve’s ass when he comes back, the sound of another little glass jar being put down on stone as Steve closes his eyes. His knees hurt from kneeling, his back aches, and his thighs shake despite everything. Steve squeezes his eyes shut; no matter what, it can’t be as bad. There’s only one of him, and he’s at least not a talker.

More ointment into the welts down Steve’s ass and thighs. The shivers won’t stop now, full body shudders that he can’t get under control, chest aching like he can’t breath.

Thor smoothes a warm hand down his thigh, absurdly gentle like Steve isn’t ass up over a crate like he had been last night. It’ll be fine; Steve’s lived through the same and worse. It has to be fine, because there’s no alternative.

Thor’s fingers are blunt and huge when they finally press into Steve, first the tip of one and then another, slick and cold. Steve shakes convulsively, like a fever he can’t push down. It’ll hurt less if he can make himself relax but he can’t, not after last time, not even with his eyes squeezed shut trying to will himself anywhere else.

It’s slow and inevitable, the pressure and stretch familiar and wrong as Thor works him open slowly. Steve should be grateful for it, because a man as big as Thor has to have an even bigger cock, but what’s it matter when it’ll hurt no matter what.

Except that Steve can feel his own cock start to pulse and thicken the longer it goes on, hot and shameful. He tips his forehead against the wood cover of the chest, bracing for Thor to notice, to say something about it. He can’t not. It’s nerves; it’s the pressure of thick fingers working his ass open; it’s Steve’s mind playing tricks with his body trying to pretend he’s anywhere but as far from home as he can possibly get.

And then it’s just—over. Thor sits back on his heels to wipe his hands on a cloth, and then he’s hauling Steve up to stand. Thor looks him up and down, giving Steve’s half hard cock a long look before turning to wash his hands in the basin. When he turns back, though, it’s to dump a soft gray tunic in Steve’s arms, so big it has to be Thor’s own, and Thor huffs a laugh as Steve struggles into it, holding it up so Steve can get into it straight.

He swims in it once it’s on—on a man as big as Thor, it’d be barely an undershirt, but the look Steve gets of himself in the mirror is like a child in a grown man’s shirt, the collar opening wide enough to slip off his shoulder and the shirt hanging down to his knees. Steve picks at it irritably, annoyed with the blue embroidery around the opening, annoyed with the way it doesn’t hide the collar, annoyed with his shaky legs and growling stomach.

Thor picks him up bodily, like he weighs barely anything, striding back towards the bed purposefully. Steve knows better than to kick, but he scrambles to right himself when Thor dumps him unceremoniously on the foot of the bed, hooking two fingers into the collar to keep him from going anywhere. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s uncomfortably tight, promising worse as Steve pulls against it, like he’s actually a match for Thor’s strength like this.

But Thor just reconnects the chain without a word, and as soon as his back’s turned, Steve slithers off the foot of the bed. The rest is bad enough, but in a choice between the bed and the floor, he’ll take the floor. He tucks his legs against his chest and presses his back against the post of the bed, like that’ll give him any kind of protection, as if he can do anything about any of this.

Thor comes back with a bowl and cup in hand, looking Steve up and down again where he’s huddled on the floor. Steve lifts his chin and knows it’s a challenge he can’t back up, but he’s got nothing left besides his pride. Better at this point to know the consequences.

But Thor doesn’t take the challenge, unperturbed the way Rumlow would never be. “You are too skinny,” he says, and pushes the bowl and cup into Steve’s hands.

The bowl’s a big, unwieldy thing carved of wood, too big for Steve’s hands, and he puts it in his hand to pick at the buttered bread and smoked fish suspiciously. The wooden cup, though, is full of beer, and that Steve drinks greedily and damn the consequences. He hasn’t been drunk since before Bucky died, and if this is the price of it, it’s as good a time as any.

Thor pulls a chair by the dark fireplace to watch him, a bigger cup of beer in his own hand and more bowls on the little table beside him. Steve ignores him as best he can, inhaling the fish and buttered bread faster than he meant to after however many months of Hydra’s gruel and thin soup. Rumlow used this against him too, real food after weeks of starving, but he can’t help showing weakness with the way his hands shake as the food hits his stomach, bread still warm and soft and the butter salty and perfect.

“At least you eat like a man,” Thor says, dry. Steve blushes hot, the beer gone straight to his head. Not drunk, but enough to wish he could be and escape from all of this, for just a little while. “Come here and you may have more,” Thor says, holding out another piece of buttered bread.

Steve hesitates, but what he got was enough to make him more hungry, not less. The chair is just at the edge of what Steve can reach with the chain, and Steve blushes hotter when Thor gestures for him to sit on the plush fur covering the floor, but at least with his back against the leg of the chair he doesn’t have to see Thor watching him eat.

Thor gives him another cup, this one of thick, dark stew with actual meat, and Steve eats it greedily with the bread without stopping to wonder if it’s an animal he’d recognize. The bread and butter tastes the same, so the rest of it doesn’t bear thinking about. By the time he’s done eating, the windows are full dark, soft lights coming up from glass globes around the room that Steve also tries not to think about. The whole place is unnatural and the disorientation of wondering about it isn’t worth it.

Thor hands him a cup of beer when he’s finished, the same one Thor had been drinking from, only a quarter full. Steve drains it anyway, exhausted enough to not realize that he’s leaning against Thor’s leg until Thor takes the empty cup back and starts combing huge fingers through Steve’s damp hair. Everything hurts, and Steve hates himself that having his hair petted, sitting here on the floor like a toy, like a pet, isn’t enough to make him want to risk moving away. He’s warm enough and full enough for the first time in months and he hates it, hates the way he feels heavy and stupid and tired enough to allow Thor to lay Steve’s head against his knee to keep petting him.

“You may sleep,” Thor says, magnanimous again, and Steve bristles. Thor’s got a book on his knee when Steve glares up at him but doesn’t pay him any attention, just going on with his reading and carding fingers through Steve’s hair.

It’s warm, and quiet, and Steve keeps his eyes open for as long as he can. He stays where he is, leaning against Thor’s knee, because there’s nowhere else to go with Thor’s hand heavy on his hair and the collar around his neck, light as the chain is. He definitely does not doze or close his eyes, not even for a minute.