Thor is a spoiled brat.
This is what Loki contemplates for long hours after his release, and what he has contemplated for even longer years in his immortal lifetime.
He's waiting in his old chambers, thrumming his fingers against the surface of his reading table, a book crumpled in the vicious grip of his other hand. He isn't reading, not really —they gave him plenty of books in prison which he read over and over again until the little symbols on the pages felt like daggers poking into his brain— nor is he pretending to read. He just needs something to strangle.
It's a little disconcerting, sitting here alone in the same green prison tunic, no less; with no seidr, no armor, a little piece of bread in the middle of a gold tray and a few purple grapes. The jug of water went dry an hour ago. The servants don't like him very much.
What was that thought again? Ah, yes. Thor is a spoiled brat.
Thor. Bright, shiny Thor. Precious little prince Thor, who even after all these years, all these centuries, still gets pampered and treated like a newborn pup.
Loki tosses the book aside. It hits a wall and somehow bounces out of the window with an almost comical flap of its worn pages, and Loki stifles a laugh to frown. Even though he's done some terribly wicked things over the course of a decade, when Thor had suggested they release him in order to assist with the war against the Dark Elves, Loki somehow imagined better treatment than this. A little pity, even. Some soft glances from the common-folk for a godly prince fallen out of grace.
No such kindness followed once Loki stepped outside. They ushered him to the All-Father for a quick public ceremony that was more procedure than actual necessity, made him swear under oath that he would be loyal and willing, and that if he were true, his crimes would be forgotten and his reputation somewhat restored. Asgardians looked on in silence, their eyes furious.
For the first time since Thanos, Loki had felt frightened and alone. And Thor, perfect, stunning Thor, had been the only one to look at him with something close to pity, strong body clad in bright new armor, with the braids of a warrior in his hair, Mjolnir at his side, that unruly pack of animals he calls his friends standing close.
Frigga's eyes still shone with warm love for Loki, but for Thor, they shone brighter.
The feast they threw in celebration after that was one that Loki was not invited to. He was taken to his room, fed, watered, washed like the servants wanted to get as quickly away from him as possible, and tucked into bed; with the excuse that his imprisonment had left him weary and weak, and that he needed rest immediately, not a feast.
In the morning, when Loki awoke, he suspected that someone had mixed a little sleeping potion into his drink.
That was three hours ago, and no one has visited since, except a servant girl timidly making her way to the table with that golden tray and a fresh pitcher of water.
He idly toys with the grapes, his fingers itching for contact, ripping them from their stems and lining them up in strange little formations, and no matter what he does, he can't wipe away the image of beautiful, kingly Thor lying about in the palace somewhere, with servants tending to his every need and braiding his hair, feeding him purple grapes.
His hands form fists and he doesn't even realize the tray is on the floor until the ear-piercing clatter of metal fills his chambers. He's panting, his fingertips stained purple.
There's a knock at his door and whoever is on the other side doesn't even wait before barging in, and it's Thor —of course it would be Thor, who else would it be— eyeing the mess on the alabaster floor and giving Loki a look, that look, as if Loki were the spoiled brat instead of him.
"What do you want?" he asks bluntly, because Thor already has everything he wants; he doesn't need Loki to be courteous, too.
There's a slow pause as something dark shadows Thor's features. Sharp, sudden rage flashes across his eyes before his expression softens into something brotherly and sweet, and then he's walking towards Loki, slightly tip-toeing over the grapes to reach him and Loki has to stifle a laugh. Thor hands him a book: leather bound, worn pages. He makes to say that he has more than enough books and people's assumption that he has no other interests is ridiculous, but he stops himself midway. It's the book he had been reading —or strangling— earlier.
"This tome is older than both of us combined." Thor says, smiling, as Loki takes the book from his hands, "Do try to go for the less important ones when you are feeling upset, brother. Mother will not be pleased to know you've been throwing ancient books out of windows."
"I didn't throw it out. It fell." Loki corrects with an air of annoyance. When Thor arches a brow, Loki reciprocates by glaring, until he's certain he could burn into Thor's flesh if he glared just a little harder.
Thor doesn't pursue the matter. Instead he gives a bright little smile, like he did when they were children and Thor thought that he could fix everything just by smiling, before Odin made him realize how foolish it was. He crosses and uncrosses his arms awkwardly when Loki doesn't even respond to it. He gulps harshly, looking to the ground as though Loki had inadvertently reminded him of Odin's harsh words that day, and Loki shouldn't feel guilty because Thor, blue-eyed, red-lipped, spoiled, beautiful Thor, has everything he could ever want.
"What ails you, Loki?" Thor asks of him, his voice softer, lower.
Loki's speech fails. He rests the book on the table, unsure of what lie to give this time. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Thor gritting his jaw in frustration, biting those full red lips. Loki wants to tell him how insignificant he feels in Thor's presence, how unfairly he's been treated all his life, but he remembers Thor's words on the mountainside. 'Imagined slights', is what he said when Loki finally confessed.
Loki won't make the same mistake twice. He needs something more potent, something that'll make Thor stop looking at him with those big, questioning eyes, as if Loki were only three decades young again, weak and foolishly naive.
"I want to renegotiate my terms."
He doesn't know why he says it. It isn't something he's thought of before. Thor's gaze is all but burning holes through his flesh and Loki just wants to make him angry enough to leave, to go back to soaking in the royal baths or abusing other warriors in the arena.
"Renegotiate? What else do you need?" Thor booms, gesturing wildly with that big, meaty hand of his, "You have your freedom. Will that not suffice?"
Loki's jaw aches. Thor's gaze falls to his mouth, watching the muscles visibly clenching and unclenching there, as if Loki were fighting to hold back a tidal wave of insults before they slipped freely from his lips. "Do I?" he growls, slowly, and Thor looks like he's taken the accusation personally.
Loki wants to renegotiate. He wants to bombard the All-Father with silly little requests, ridiculous, extreme demands until the whole of Asgard calls for his imprisonment again. He wants his isolation and his boring books and he wants Thor to hate him, to stop looking at him with that barely-restrained feeling of betrayal, that broken affection, like Loki hadn't initiated mass specicide merely a year ago.
"Loki, you ask for too much."
"I have asked for nothing yet."
"Whatever it is, Odin will not hear of it." Thor warns, and that wide hand cups the back of Loki's neck. Thor was always so typical with little gestures of affection. "Asking him to free you was the last request for the both of us, for all of Asgard.The time for negotiating is over." Thor's hand burns against his flesh. "I cannot let you do this."
Loki growls, ripping his hand away. He turns his back on Thor and makes his way to the balcony, fingers gripping the cold railing hard enough to put a dent into it. It feels like Thor's hand has left a fiery imprint on his skin. The ghost of his touch lingers, warm and comforting, and Loki feels a dreadful urge at the pit of his stomach, an urge no brother should have for his own kin.
Not kin, Loki reminds himself. Not kin.
"If Odin will not hear my demands," he begins, swallowing the lump in his dry throat, "then perhaps you will."
He turns to find a puzzled look on Thor's face. Suspicion slowly creeps into those bright, electric eyes, darkening their color to a deep ocean blue. The sharp scent of coming rain suddenly overflows the room.
"I have not the power to grant you any favors." Thor says, his voice alarmingly low. "That authority lies with the All-Father. Do not ask me for something you know I cannot give."
"Oh, but you can." Loki grins, licking his lips. He wants it to be suggestive, he wants Thor to be disgusted and sickened and afraid, to want to stay as far away from him as possible, because Loki cannot stand this any longer. His cup has been brimming with this secret for ages, full eons alone, ever since Thor threw away his childhood toys for swords. And he wants Thor to know now, wants to see the bitter rage flash across those wide eyes and snuff out the ever-fading light of love Thor has for him, because it is only an illusion, not something palpable or true.
Contrary to popular belief, Thor isn't stupid. Sooner or later, he will put this together piece by piece until it all falls in place, and the broken remains of what they have here are ripped completely apart.
Thor eyes him with growing suspicion. He knows already, Loki realizes, has probably tried ignoring it for years until this very moment, yet he still refuses to believe.
Loki takes a step closer. He has always been subtle in his mannerisms, but never when it comes to Thor. Bright, golden, blue-eyed Thor, with the power of a thousand storms brewing beneath those thick muscles, with lips as red as berries. Loki imagines their taste to be magnificently sweet, and equally poisonous.
"I want something from you," he begins, his entire frame tense —and he finds himself wishing for a blade or a weapon, anything at all that he can use for protection, because he knows Thor will lunge at him for this, knows Thor will go mad with blinding rage— "Something you have never given anyone else before."
"Brother, if you speak of Mjolnir, I—"
"No, Thor," Loki sighs, "It is not an object. It is not something you can grasp or own or see. You can only give it away once. And then it is no longer yours. Or anyone's, really." he completes after a pause.
He delights in Thor's discomforted look, because this is Thor, spoiled, coddled, immaculate Thor, who kept Loki's toys for himself and took Loki's swords and Loki's throne and Loki's sanity—
"You speak in riddles. I am in no mood for your games."
Thor's hands are clenched in fists as he turns towards the doors. He's forgotten about the grapes, evidently, because he steps on most of them on the way out without even noticing, or if he does, he doesn't care.
"My loyalty in exchange for your gift, Thor," Loki shouts after him, "You wouldn't want to wake up one night and find me gone, now, would you? And Odin would be so disappointed in you, for trusting me so much as to let me loose on the world again, isn't that right?"
Loki can practically smell Thor's rage.
It's perfect. Thor will never agree to this. He will take it to the All-Father, demanding that he be taken back to his prison for oath-breaking, forced to spend a lifetime encaged as a traitor, and Loki will enjoy it. He will enjoy the look on Thor's face as he finally sees him without the facade of fabricated brotherhood, for what he really is; and for once, greedy, petulant Thor will not get what he wants.
And Loki, severed free of the illusion of Thor's love and as far away from sight of Thor as possible, will finally get over this unearthly obsession. Apart from a few more eons of imprisonment, Loki sees no holes in this otherwise flawless plan.
Thor stops at the doorway. "You know Heimdall is watching," he states, turning to lock eyes with Loki.
The younger god only smiles. "Don't be foolish, Thor. I shielded these chambers from the Gatekeeper's gaze a very long time ago."
The crudely veiled trepidation in Loki's eyes is a mirror image of Thor's.
He regrets it.
It is dusk in the dinner hall of the Aesir, and Loki is idly poking at a bit of wild boar on his plate, slowly coming to the realization that yes, there is more than one hole in what he thought to be a flawless plan, and yes, he very much regrets it.
It isn't sentiment that does it for Loki; not exactly. An emotion of sorts, yes —that being primarily fear, doubled with a dose of paranoia and a smaller portion of rage, all layered one onto another like sedimentary rock formations at the base of his spine— because now he remembers why he's cherished Thor all these years, why he has laid down his life more than once for him in this lifetime and the one before.
Because, he remembers, without Thor, he is nothing but meat for wolves.
The Aesir at the table are deadly quiet and equally dangerous. They talk amongst themselves in whispers, occasionally throwing a quick glance here and there to make sure the All-Father and Mother aren't listening, but Loki hears well enough. It isn't that Loki is upset that he is the subject of their conversations, or that they aren't exactly praising him, so to speak —he's accustomed to people talking behind his back and expressing their displeasure with his existence— but that according to them, evidently, his imprisonment is not enough, and neither bars nor banishment are sufficient for the son of Laufey.
They speak of executions and a great snake nesting in a grove in the east, where they plan to convince Odin to send him once the war is done.
And Loki begins to understand how fortunate he was in that glass cage, when Thor was still his only willing protector, when Loki was safe from the hands of his enemies only because they feared and respected Thor, great, beautiful, kind Thor, who would have sacrificed his own good reputation for Loki's sake.
Thor isn't at the table and it kills Loki to know that the one plan that actually worked is the one he regrets ever creating. He has torn down his only defense against this pious mob of conspirators with his own bare hands, and his cruel, malicious words.
As much as Loki hates to admit it, even though he is jealous of Thor's power, and has been so long enough to make him spiteful and aggressive towards the would-be king, the very same power is a benefit that extends to Loki, too.
He tries to think of what compelled him to turn his only ally against him. An image of red lips and sharp eyes comes to mind, and oh, he has been such a fool.
Loki sighs, impaling his meal with a gilded fork.
Rising to his feet, he gives a small courteous bow to the king and queen sitting at the far end of the table, which goes unnoticed in the cacophony of the feast. He all but glides out of the hall unseen, his hands clenched in vicious fists, silently cursing himself for his current predicament, and hoping that there still may be time to reverse this before the damage fully takes its toll.
He practices apologies as he makes his way to Thor's chambers, tries to think of honest-sounding words that would touch Thor's heart without making Loki seem weak. He swears he isn't holding his breath when he knocks on Thor's door.
"Brother? It is I." he says, but after a long, chilling pause, no answer comes from within. Loki knocks on the door again and waits.
And waits. And waits. He knocks again, twice, three times before the unforgiving metal bruises his knuckles to the bone. He growls in frustration, clutching his hand in pain. Eventually, he tries the handle, and as presumed, the door is sealed shut.
It's a lost cause.
With angry steps, he storms back to his own chambers, the air cool on his burning cheeks. If he still possessed the sentiment he had years ago, Loki assumes that at this very moment, he would be furiously wiping away his tears and trying to conjure up some secondary wicked plan to teach Thor a lesson, because lessons are what spoiled, ignorant, selfish Thor needs most.
He tries to ignore the fact that the entire situation is his own fault and focuses on growling insults under his breath, cursing childish, needy Thor, who always gets what he wants while Loki falls behind, pious and pompous and egotistical, thick-headed, brutish, beautiful—
The words die on his lips as he walks into his chambers to find Thor there, waiting, clad in a plain dark blue tunic that seems impossibly soft to the touch.
"What are you—" and he has to stop himself mid-sentence because his voice comes out low and harsh, thick with a sudden hunger, and Thor doesn't fail to get the meaning of his reaction. The blush on Thor's cheeks spreads to his neck, to his ears, splotching what little Loki can see of his chest through the unbuttoned garment a vibrant red. He coughs and clears his throat to speak again, but Thor beats him to it.
"Enough." Thor barks. His eyes are glinting daggers in the soft pale torchlight, sapphire jewels in the shadows of his face. There is an unspoken violence in Thor's entire frame, a quivering rage Loki has only ever seen in battle, and he is now certain that it is too late for apologies.
Thor's first steps towards him are sudden and swift, like a crack of lightning in a winter storm. Loki cowers, not because of the shock of it all, but because this is Thor, —powerful, gargantuan, deadly Thor— and Odin has yet to unbind his magic or return his armor or his weapons, and hand-to-hand combat is not one of Loki's finest traits.
"Silence. Keep your poison to yourself," and Thor's hands fist into his tunic, grasping, burning. His warm breath washes over him as he speaks. "You have tricked, manipulated, deceived me time and time again, yet I have always forgiven you. I have always called you my brother. Never again."
Loki imagines that if he could see himself right now, he would be staring back into the wide, shocked eyes of a frightened little boy.
And Thor is screaming at him, shaking him in his hands as if he were nothing but a sackful of feathers. "Never again," he accentuates with another rough shake, and Loki's head spins. "Never will I let you betray me."
A hard push brings an end to Thor's rage. The back of Loki's head smacks against the wall with enough force to send a mortal man sinking to his knees, but Loki doesn't even register the pain. The expression on Loki's face must truly be shameful, because Thor looks at him with those pitying eyes, the same pitying eyes that Loki refused to meet when he had returned to Asgard in chains.
Thor's hands are still hard fists on his chest and Loki is certain that Thor can feel the quickened thump of his heart against his knuckles. Thor takes a deep, calm breath before he speaks, his face solemn. It gives Loki even more to fear. "You think your words unnerve me?" he mocks, in the lowest, most threatening tone Loki has ever heard, and Loki tries to press himself further into the doors behind him as if he could somehow melt through.
"You think me cowardly enough to refuse your challenge?"
It's the hand on his cock that sends the message through him like a violent jolt.
Thor is palming him through the fabric of his breeches, his other hand still fisted in his tunic and keeping him pressed to the closed doors, and Loki doesn't even know how they got here: how Thor has gone from being one inch away from beating the life out of him to breathing hotly against his neck and bringing him to full hardness with only a few skilled tugs of that rough hand.
"This is what you wanted, is it not?" he growls into his ear, "In exchange for your loyalty? Would you swear to me," he pauses briefly, only to pull at the laces of Loki's pants and push his hand inside, and Loki all but hisses in contentment, "Swear to me that you will never betray me again."
Loki's knees quiver at the feel of that calloused palm against his bare, rigid flesh. He gasps, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, his cheeks red, and Thor finds the chance to steal a kiss, as rough and demanding as the rest of him.
"Swear to me," he whispers against Loki's lips, "and I will give you everything."
The trickster's mouth hangs agape. A visible tremor wracks his entire frame from head to toe, as if Thor's actions have triggered an earthquake in his very bones, and his hands, shaking and twitching at his sides, seem torn between eagerly touching all Thor has splayed out for him, or staying where they are.
Loki cannot find his voice yet, not after this. No, this... This is his undoing. Not the glass cage, not his enemies, not the vast armies of the Chitauri looming at the dark edge of the universe, waiting for a chance to strike—
This. The feeling of Thor's scalding heat on his flesh, the massive weight of him keeping them both in place, all that power and strength directed toward him, for him; and it is all Loki can take.
"Swear it." Thor growls, and his teeth nip at the skin of Loki's throat, wet and sharp.
Loki groans in response because no words can come to mind now, not like this, not with Thor pressing his thumb against the slit of his cock just hard enough for him to savor the pleasure of the pain— and this is utterly humiliating because Loki knows five hundred languages and their respective dialects, yet not a single one can wedge its way out between his lips to speak in agreement with the other god.
"Ah," he gasps instead, bucking his hips against Thor's burning palm. Just as he begins to surrender to this pleasure, to close his eyes and let his most basic senses take over, the firm pressure of Thor's hand around him disappears, and Loki parts his eyes in surprise.
Thor's steel gaze meets his own. The expression on Thor's face is utterly severe, save for the warm flush of his cheeks and the swell of those red, sinfully red, lips. "Swear." he spits harshly, fists clenching at his sides, as if Loki's refusal would consequently be Loki's imminent battery.
Loki has to take a series of deep breaths before he is able to speak. His hips still arch in Thor's direction, subconsciously, following the ghosts of his touch like he's starving for it. "Yes," he moans, pressing a hand against himself to ease the pressure a little, "Yes. Please, I... Yes."
"Say it." Thor commands.
"I swear." Loki breathes, his voice utterly wrecked, "I swear that I will never betray you."
The silence that follows is akin to that of the aftermath of a battle. It's as if all the blood in Thor's veins has run dry, wreaking a deathly pallor on his golden features. The shock in his widening eyes is not something Loki was prepared for, not after all this, because Thor is the kind of person who would challenge a bluff, but not the kind who would make one of his own.
This, Loki realizes, is what happens when a challenge reaches a precipice.
It is but the sound of their labored breathing, rhythmic and uncomfortable, and Loki doesn't want to take the next step. He believed Thor was being sincere. He thought they had an agreement. He didn't expect to find out that Thor was counting on him to refuse.
"You... You swear?" Thor stammers, his brow knit. It must be quite a shock for him, too, Loki laughs bitterly, because the trickster has never made an oath since they were children and mother made him swear to stop turning Thor's bedsheets into stingrays at night, and Loki has never broken that oath once.
The Midgardian sea creatures were utterly harmless to Thor, however terrifying in visage. This, on the other hand, might hurt more than venom ever will.
"I swear," and Loki hates that he has to repeat it now that Thor will take it back anyway.
Those sharp blue eyes, wide with shock, soften at the words. A gentle smile visibly threatens to upturn the corners of Thor's supple mouth and Loki is truly afraid —afraid of the unpredictable nature of current events— because he's always been able to estimate the outcome of a situation from early on, a form of controlled chaos, but this... This is purely chaotic.
Thor stops himself mid-sentence. His smile suddenly falters; an expression of downright surprise takes over his features, shock and something very close to disgust filling those sapphire eyes, and Loki is certain that Thor has just been hit with the realization of what they have done here.
A bitter taste settles at the back of Loki's throat and his first instinct is to laugh. It is a cruel, sharp sound that leaves an echo in the chambers long after Loki begins to speak, muttering under his breath and spitting every variation of insults he can pertain to the thunder-god. "Selfish, impertinent, brutish..." he growls, spittle flying from his lips, "You call me liar, yet you are no more truthful than I. Why do you toy with me so if you desire my loyalty? Is this but a game to you?"
The shock in Thor's eyes is all too soon replaced by rage. Somehow, his hands find themselves twined in Loki's garments again, pulling and pushing in both directions, as if Thor were a spoiled, malicious child ripping its doll apart.
"Halt your tongue, trickster. Do not make me the villain of this," and Thor's heat is upon him once more, solid and constricting, pushing Loki against the door.
Loki cannot help but smile bitterly: Thor was always quick to anger.
The mocking grin on Loki's thin mouth only succeeds in feeding Thor's rage. The fists on his chest tighten, ripping the air out of Loki's lungs and pushing against his heart, and only then does Loki feel how quickly it is beating.
"You speak as if your loyalty is something I have not yet earned." Thor begins, his voice low and steady, "Are we not brothers? Would we not die for each other? I should not resort to this to have your loyalty." he gestures between them, those sharp eyes raking across Loki's slender frame, and Loki suddenly remembers Thor kneeling at the foot of Odin's throne, sworn and ready to be king, and the memory is like a cold blade tracing each knob of his spine before plunging deep.
"Believe what you will, brother," he spits, finally mustering the strength to push Thor away and watch him stumble. "But rest with the knowledge that one day, you will turn to me for aid— and I will not be there."
He straightens his clothes as Thor looks on in barely-concealed hurt. Loki pays no heed to it. He steps aside and gestures to the door, keeping his eyes firmly on the ground. Odin and Frigga may fall for that look of childish innocence, the one that always seems to get Thor what he wants, but Loki is no fool. He knows that if he looks at Thor now, torn and confused, with eyes like a sad little pup, the guilt will wash over him like an ocean; and he will not subject himself to it.
Out of the corner of his eye, he watches Thor slowly make his way out of his chambers, dragging his feet, as if all the weight of the world has just been placed upon his shoulders.
Loki cannot help but flinch as the door clicks shut.
He cannot fall asleep that night, nor the next, and every heavy breath he takes reminds him of Thor's heat on him, the pressure, the feel of those full, red lips mouthing at the long line of his throat.
Thor avoids him as much as he can. He takes his meals in his chambers, wastes his time in the arena. There are hordes of younger warriors waiting in line for Thor to train, barely in the first eons of their immortal lives, and Loki cannot help but picture them all lying cold and bloodless in the mud.
At sunset, Thor sheathes his blade and leaves the court behind, bruised and battered and deliciously aching, much to Loki's contentment, as he watches the sweat run down the thunder-god's powerful frame. He feels a little foolish, having to peek through his window like a young boy in the throes of adulthood, secretly lusting over everything and nothing all at once, but Thor always had that effect on him.
And whereas Thor seems to desire nothing else but for Loki to leave him be, Loki cannot say the same.
He follows Thor like a shadow through the palace, being wherever he is, doing whatever he does; because this is Loki —cunning, mischievous, mad Loki— who feeds on other people's discomfort like a fly feeds on rotting flesh. It is in his nature to provoke, so when Thor retreats to the bathing rooms, grimy and sweaty, his blood still singing with war, Loki cannot help but follow, silent in Thor's footsteps.
The look Thor gives him as he enters is one of absolute raw fury. He's halfway through stripping and Loki really shouldn't aggravate him in his current condition, but that familiar feeling coils at the base of his gut like a slimy serpent, and Loki stares, transfixed, as if Thor isn't readying to attack only three feet away.
"If you are here to negotiate again, I suggest you leave." Thor tries his best to seem unfazed as he rids himself of the last article of metal. It hits the marble floor with a clatter that is almost lost beneath the sound of water splashing. The god disappears in the shallow depths of the hot pool, and Loki, with deceivingly steady fingers, begins to strip himself down to nothing.
He dives in before Thor has the chance to resurface, and when the thunder-god finally does, he seems a little surprised.
"Thor, you think very poorly of me." Loki sighs, feigning disappointment, "I only wanted to spend a little quality time with my darling big brother. Is that so wrong?"
Thor huffs under his breath. His eyes refuse to meet Loki's, and there is something else in Thor's stance other than disgust that Loki cannot identify, a silent reprimand of sorts, yet Thor keeps silent, his jaw clenched viciously.
And Loki shouldn't, he really shouldn't, but he slowly inches his way towards the other god, watching the ripples on the water spread and travel wide until they reach Thor.
"What are you doing?" Thor tenses, as if Loki were a threat.
There's a slow pause as Loki sits on the steps beside him. "Nothing," he whispers, a brow arched innocently. "Don't get excited."
It takes every single morsel of restraint in Loki's whipcord frame not to laugh at Thor's appalled expression, and then "What do you mean?", and Loki cannot help but grin a little.
"Nothing," he says again, a small hint of secrecy in his tone that makes Thor stir uncomfortably, and Loki delights in it. He licks his lips before parting them to say, the corners of his mouth turned slightly upwards, "It's just that..." he pauses, breaking Thor's glare, "You seemed very eager a few nights ago."
"Eager?" Thor's voice booms across the walls. It's exactly the reaction Loki wanted. This is what he loves in Thor: how easy it is to push, to hurt, until Thor pushes back a thousand times harder. Their childhood games were nothing more than ruthless bullying.
"Oh, don't be coy, Thor. Not when we both know how well you can handle a cock."
"Yes, yes, I know." Loki sighs, waving a hand in dismissal. It must infuriate Thor, having to hear this and knowing for once that Loki is choosing to humiliate him, not with lies, but with the truth. "But that doesn't change how you swore to give yourself to me while you had one hand down the front of my trousers."
Loki is choking on salted water before he even realizes Thor has made a move. His lungs fill with it in seconds and he thrashes, his dark hair in Thor's fists as he is pushed below, and Loki thinks for a minute that he could take a deep, filling breath, just to see the shame on Thor's face afterwards.
Thor lets go before he has the chance.
When Loki makes it to the surface half a second later, sputtering and coughing, Thor is but a flash of gold and red in the blurred corners of his eyes, and Loki is left alone, heaving in the overwhelming silence.
At night, Loki has his dinner served in his own chambers, certain that if he were to sit among the Aesir even for one more quarter of an hour, viciously poking at his food as they all but defile his very name, he might have to kill a few of them to put his mind at ease.
Thor comes knocking just as he is cleaning the last crumbs from his plate and Loki is strangely unsettled because Thor —thick-headed, stubborn Thor, who would rather give his soul to Hela than encourage Loki's mischief— wouldn't have any desire to be here after what happened.
Even more unsettling is the look of pure determination on the god's face, yet Thor stays silent, standing in the corner with his arms crossed like a child wrongfully scolded for another's prank.
"Is there something you need?" Loki asks softly. There isn't much in Thor's silence to interpret, other than a little remainder of his past rage. "I was just preparing for bed, you know," he pushes, because anything is better than nothing, "Can this wait until the morning or are you going to force me to stay awake?"
A half-smile tilts the corners of Thor's mouth and settles there, warm and inviting. "You might find it important." he says, with a visible gulp, and suddenly his face twists into something solemn and serious that has Loki clenching his fists in defense. "It concerns your terms of renegotiation."
Loki's eyes sharpen. "What of them?"
Thor takes a step forward.
There's a timid spark in his eyes that says certainty and hesitation all at once. It is something Loki is more than familiar with: long, sleepless hours in the dead of night, huddled under the stars, waiting for the first light of dawn and the sound of battle horns. He knows that look. He's seen it a thousand times before battle, a nervous excitement that Thor would never in his life admit to but nonetheless chills him to the bone.
There's a long moment of silence that stretches out between them for what seems like an eternity. Loki's shock remains well-hidden under a guise of apathy, but his blunt nails have dug into the soft flesh of his palms, hard enough to break skin. He can hear his own heart, beating furiously beneath his thorax, feel the blood running through his veins boiling-hot and merciless.
"Consent to what?" he asks, his tone all too sincere.
Because Thor would never agree to this, no— not big, strong, dominant Thor, with the throne ripe for his taking and a thousand willing warriors ready to lay waste to the trickster if they ever knew what Loki asked of their future king.
Thor smiles weakly. "Come, now, brother. It is no jest." He takes another step forward, his gaze locked with his. Loki takes it as a challenge, one last testament of Thor's resilience and his unwillingness to admit defeat, and Loki smiles, too, because he knows better than to take a step back from this.
"Consent to what, Thor?" he persists, only to have Thor take another step, and another, until Thor has made himself into a living barricade, pushing Loki against the wall with the same strength he used a few nights ago.
Loki's breath hitches at the feel of Thor's burning palms on his hips. None of it makes sense.
"To this," Thor groans, his breath warm on Loki's cheeks. "I have decided..." as he presses their bodies flush against each other, "... to give you the gift you so desire."
And Loki is certain that this is a jest, a cruel, malicious jest, and the Warriors Three are standing just outside Loki's chambers, laughing to themselves. He hates it. He hates it because this is everything he ever wanted, —Thor willing to give him everything, anything, to splay himself out like a banquet meant only for Loki— yet it's all a lie. Thor is mocking him, he is certain.
Much to Thor's visible surprise, Loki pushes him away.
"I'm afraid it's too late, Thor," he plays along, "The offer no longer stands."
"No." Thor interrupts, "The offer stands. You swore, if you recall. You took an oath in these very chambers, you swore to me that you would be loyal."
He points a finger in accusation as Loki looks on in wariness, still unsure if this is all a great cosmic joke or if Thor is being sincere.
"We had an agreement, trickster. Should you now decide to break it, I would have no option but to put an end to you and your schemes— for the safety of Asgard and its people."
Loki gulps. He stares, wide-eyed and silent, as he lets the words sink in. To Thor, Loki is certain that the shocked expression on his face would seem like nothing more than fear of Thor's threat, but Loki isn't foolish enough to take that seriously. It is Thor's sudden willingness that unsettles him, his almost aggressive desire for Loki to stick to his word that makes Loki all the more certain that this is a mockery.
He laughs softly, defensively. "Don't use my oath as an excuse, brother," he mocks, because two can play at this game. "And do not take me for a fool; I've seen the way you look at me, I know your little secret. It isn't just my loyalty you desire, is it, Thor? You've been waiting for this moment for years, centuries, lusting over the thought of letting your darling little brother take you apart. Big, strong Thor; what would the Aesir think if they saw you now?"
In moments of weakness, one's best defense is to reverse a truth.
Loki knows his accusations are as void as air, merely projections of his own disgraced state, but something harsh glimmers in Thor's bright blue eyes, something far too akin to shame, and Loki is shocked to find that he has struck a chord.
"You want this, don't you, Thor?" he pushes, irritatingly persistent, like he's picking on an open wound. "All your life you've wanted it. You told yourself that we were brothers, that the risk of being caught was far greater than the pleasure of giving in; but we are no longer brothers, are we? That's why you're here. You weren't sure before, but now..." he pauses, long enough to drag his gaze across Thor's entire frame, licking his lips, "Now that you've had a taste, you want more."
Thor looks furious.
The scent of coming rain fills the chambers, and Loki's skin prickles, as if a gentle torrent of electric power had just decided to run along his form. Thor's eyes are far too bright in the dim candlelight. For once, Loki wishes he hadn't cast that shielding spell over his quarters, that Heimdall could see them here and call a thousand Einherjar to Loki's aid. He is certain that he has gone too far this time.
"Damn you, Loki." Thor growls, his big, powerful fists drawn, lightning toying over the knuckles, and Loki's eyes grow wide.
It all happens far too quickly: Thor all but throws himself at him, his eyes lightning-white and lethal. Loki feels lucky that Mjolnir isn't here, that she's resting on her stone pedestal somewhere in Thor's locked chambers, but then again this is Thor —deadly, ruthless, destructive Thor— who could burn him to ash without the power of magic.
And Loki's seidr has yet to be unlocked. He has no protection against this, no ammunition.
He expects thunder, lightning, the smell of his own burnt flesh sizzling in the aftermath of Thor's rage; he expects a hard mass of Aesir flesh breaking his jaw and crushing his lungs, turning the most powerful sorcerer in the Nine Realms into a useless bag of sinew, and ten guards rushing in to try to put an end to a rage not even the All-Father could curb.
He doesn't expect Thor to grab him by the neck and throw him on the bed with a strength usually reserved for war, to climb on top and pin him to the sheets.
"Damn you." he repeats, over and over again until the words seem like a foreign language, whispered into Loki's skin.
Their clothes are ripped apart in haste. Thor latches onto him like a leech, sucking the breath from his lungs and dragging his teeth across the pale expanse of Loki's chest, nipping at the red buds with fervor.
"Thor..." Loki gasps, but his words go ignored. Thor peppers his skin with wet kisses, feathery touches, worshiping him as if he were the heir to the throne of Asgard instead of Thor himself, and Loki cannot help but fall back on the pillows and let him do as he wishes.
That sweet, red mouth makes its way to Loki's lips, and Thor's eyes are watching his every move. He grins, weakly, in an attempt to assert his dominance, to prove to Thor that this is exactly what he was expecting from him, but Thor is smarter than that. He brings their lips together in a bruising kiss, his fingers tight around Loki's throat, while the other hand moves between them like a promise.
"I never pictured you as pliant, brother." Thor teases when they part.
Loki doesn't fail to see the challenge. An icy cold blossoms at the base of his gut and spills through his veins, chilling and merciless, a reminder that this is Thor, —kingly Thor; Thor with a hundred blessings on his plate, with a mother and a father, a home— and Loki cannot let Thor win another battle here, too.
The growl catches in his throat. He's seething with a sudden surge of power as he flips them both over, pressing Thor beneath him. This is where he belongs, Loki thinks. He can have the kingdom, he can have the Aesir in his favor, he can have the power to rip the earth from its foundations and hurl it to the skies; but here, he can only have what Loki gives him.
And Loki plans to give him everything, nonetheless.
"Pictured me?" he growls, the corners of his mouth twitching, "So you admit it. You've thought of me like this before." His hands twine in Thor's blonde locks, pulling his head back to bite at his neck, to whisper in his ear, "You've touched yourself to the thought of it, haven't you?"
Thor all but purrs beneath him, a deep, low, content rumble that makes Loki's universe tremble. It excites him beyond limit, having all that strength under his control, watching each and every huge, powerful muscle twitch at his touch.
He wraps a hand around Thor's arm and chuckles when his fingers don't even reach halfway around.
"Oh, Thor. Who would have thought it..." he fades as Thor's gaze settles on him. Thor's eyes are almost black, dark with desire, save for a thin ring of electric blue wrapped around the pupils, and Loki is startled because Thor has never looked like this, has never looked at him like this, so raw and open and utterly wrecked; and Loki doesn't really know what to do with what he has.
"Loki..." Thor's voice is rough, ruined like the rest of him, his entire face flushed down to the neck. "Please."
And Loki never really knew that Thor was capable of pleading.
Thick, strong thighs part and spread wide, like an unspoken invitation. An even darker blush settles on Thor's cheeks and Thor bites his lip, his eyes practically watering; and no, no, this isn't pleading at all, not in a hundred years— this is begging.
"Please..." he groans again, and even though Thor is the one at his mercy, it is Loki who gladly obeys. Timidly, he leans closer to Thor, letting his lips brush against that chiseled chest, like carved marble glistening under the soft glow of an Alfheim sun. He can feel Thor's heart pulsing against his lips. "Please..."
Thor arches beneath him with a simple swipe of his tongue against a nipple. A stream of curses leaves Thor's lips, his eyes welded shut, and Loki lets out a shaky exhale at the violent reaction. He feels Thor twitch against his thigh as he laps at it again, biting playfully, scattering kisses here and there in hopes of finding some other sensitive spot, just to watch Thor fall apart again.
The scent of rain thickens as Loki trails lower. He hears a deep rumble from the skies, sees a sudden flash of lightning behind closed eyelids. Thor is coming undone, slowly, steadily, ripping apart at the seams like silk under too much pressure, and Loki hopes Thor can feel him smiling against the jutting bone of his hip.
He teases Thor on end, tracing the dips of his abdomen with his tongue, infuriatingly close to his arousal, before pulling away to sink his teeth into the soft flesh of his neckline. Thor complains with grunts, frustrated little growls that turn into whimpers when Loki touches him just right, baring his neck in response, and it takes everything Loki has to carry on with this slow torture when he, too, is just as painfully hard.
"Enough, Loki." Thor finally says, his lips red and swollen from biting them to stifle his own cries. "No more games. Do what you swore to do."
Loki isn't sure whether he is the one in control after all, but it doesn't matter. For once, he will have something no one else has, something he hasn't stolen through war or mischief, something Thor has given him willingly.
"Very well, my king." he mocks, watching the anger flash across Thor's eyes in amusement.
It's a short-lived burst of rage. Loki's long fingers wrap tightly around the base of Thor's cock, a thumb pressed against the prominent vein on the underside with just enough pressure to set Thor squirming, with those big, meaty thighs of his spreading farther apart as Loki takes him in his mouth.
He arches like a bow, like a tall bridge made of gold and lightning as it buckles under the power of an earthquake. Thor is shivering, dripping wet as if this is the first time he's ever been touched in a thousand years; and Loki tries to trick himself into believing that Thor has been saving himself all these years, all these centuries, just for this very moment. Just for Loki.
Thor's fingers twine in his hair, pushing him down, fucking into his mouth, and Loki lets him because this is more than he'd ever imagined in the first place. "Please..." Thor moans again, his hips stuttering. Loki isn't quite sure if he's still begging or if the words are just hopelessly stuck to his throat. He looks up to make sure and Thor is staring at him with those piercing eyes, his chest heaving, mouthing the same plea again like he's suddenly forgotten how to speak.
And Loki can take no more.
He lifts Thor's legs from under the knees and throws them over his shoulders, letting the god's weight press him down. Loki relishes the sight of Thor turning a darker shade of red. He leans forward and runs his tongue along the hard line of Thor's length, his own cock twitching uselessly against the sheets, desperate for a touch, and Loki is certain that he could come just from the sight of Thor biting his lip like a shy virgin, like he isn't the mightiest warrior Asgard has ever known.
"You truly want this, don't you?" Loki gasps, turning his head to lay a kiss on the inside of a thigh. He sees Thor nodding through the corner of his eye, feels him shiver. "For how long? How long have you kept this from me?"
It's raining hail outside.
Thor doesn't answer. His hips thrust in Loki's direction, itching for contact, as Loki holds his gaze and waits. "How long?"
"Years, Loki. Years." Thor finally whispers. There's something melancholic in the way he says it, the way he looks away when Loki's eyes grow wide. For once in his life, Loki doesn't push it. He places another kiss to the junction of his hip and thigh and slides lower, making up for centuries of lost time.
The shiver that washes over Thor when he tongues that little pucker of flesh below his manhood is something Loki realizes he will never be able to forget. Thor whispers his name between pants, between half-moaned approbations of 'brother' and 'more', tightening his thighs around Loki's neck until the trickster has to gasp for breath.
He's so invested in the noises pouring from the god's lips that he barely notices Thor rummaging through the contents of his bedside drawer. "Here," Thor says, handing him a small vial of oil, the crystal stopper already removed and discarded on the floor. Loki gives him a wide-eyed look of mild surprise as he takes the vial hesitantly. "Do it." he commands; and Loki has to smile.
"I told you..." Loki groans into his skin, letting his hot breath wash over the wet, glistening opening. He laughs, softly, and looks at Thor with a playful sort of mischief as he says: "... eager."
Thor blushes a fetching shade of crimson. He cannot help but smile, too, because there's nothing malicious in Loki's words; and Loki is already dribbling oil onto his fingers with equal enthusiasm —greed, even— to kindly tend to Thor's request.
He prods lazily at the pink nub, watching with fascination as it opens just slightly at his touch, loosening around the tip of his finger and then clenching to pull him in. Loki remembers how it felt when he first tried it on himself, the dull ache of it, the heaviness of his limbs and the emptiness that followed, and he's quite surprised at how easily Thor is giving way, before it hits him.
"You've done this before, haven't you?" he gasps.
Thor is looking at him with that same treacherous blush, his mouth suddenly twisting in a snarl as he growls at Loki, "Be silent," with his eyes as pale as lightning, "Be silent and take me."
Thunder booms just outside Loki's chambers. The curtains flap noisily, ripping themselves apart on the strong wind. Loki imagines the Aesir sitting in their homes, gazing listless at the dark skies, thinking that this is but a fraction of Thor's rage translated into a storm, that their future king is once again putting the trickster in his place. He imagines their cold, shocked faces as they see what Thor is really doing, what Loki is doing to him, buried three fingers deep into their big, strong prince as he begs for more.
Thick thighs squeeze around his neck before parting wide, and Loki looks up to find Thor urging him on with those impossibly blue eyes, like a frustrated yet obedient pup. A dark sensation coils at the base of Loki's gut. He decides that his own arousal has been ignored for far too long, and with shaking arms, he rises to his knees, letting his fingers toy with that wet little opening for a moment before moving to his own cock.
He sighs at the first touch. There's a little oil left in the bottle, just enough to slick himself up, and Loki suddenly has to squeeze the base of his cock hard to keep his orgasm at bay because Thor is looking at him touch himself like he's salivating for it.
"Alright, brother," he groans, suppressing a shiver. Thor's lips look impossibly red in the soft light, bitten and plump like a written invitation. He arches gently as he waits, his hands moving to grip the headboard of Loki's bed, the muscles of his big arms straining wonderfully. Beads of sweat form on his wide chest and Loki wants nothing more than to bury himself in all that heat, to let it swallow him up like a drop of rain falling in the sun.
He lines himself up and thrusts to the hilt in a single fluid motion just to see the blinding shock of pleasure flash across Thor's face. The thunder-god comes undone so easily, so sweetly under Loki's weight.
And Loki gasps, burying his face in Thor's neck, kissing his shoulder, trying to keep his knees from quivering at the feel of Thor's tight heat stretched around him. He brings their lips together once more before he moves, slowly, intimately, taking his time, his hands pushing Thor's thighs against his chest as he folds over him.
Outside, the storm has all but flooded Asgard.
For a moment, Loki fears that Odin will either send his guards or come here himself, concerned with the state of his son, looking for reasons as to why Thor has brought this violent storm upon the realm. He fears that he will find them like this; find Loki defiling his only remaining heir, and break Loki's skull where he lies; and Loki doesn't even remember locking the doors—
"Loki, more." Thor moans, undulating beneath him like an ocean breaking its waters on the shore. And Loki realizes he doesn't care.
He doesn't care because Thor is fulfilling every dream he has had for thousands of years in a single moment, because Thor is looking at him with those half-slit eyes as if Loki is all he ever wanted.
So he surrenders himself to this, places his life in Thor's hands like so many times before. Thor is urging him on, pushing back against him with every deep thrust and splaying himself out for Loki's sharp gaze to rake across, and Loki thinks this is all a dream.
Thor's muscular legs wrap tighter around him. "Harder, brother," he growls, before claiming Loki's lips in a bruising kiss, stealing his breath. A strangled moan catches in Loki's throat. His fingers dig into the meat of Thor's thighs and he allows himself the pleasure of complying, driving himself deeper into Thor, harder, and the rapture on the thunder-god's face as he does is worth the extra effort.
Like this, Thor looks more the god that he is, that power-packed body glistening in the dim light, his hair a golden veil spilling across the dark pillows. The firm muscles of his abdomen tighten more and more with every sharp thrust, and Loki can see how close they both are. Thor's eyes have slid shut completely, as his red, sweet mouth hangs agape, whimpering filth, gasping Loki's name over and over again until it sounds nothing like a language of this world.
"Mine, you're mine..." Loki begins to mutter. His hands are running over every inch of skin he can grasp, across Thor's chest, his arms, his thighs. The heat of Thor's body feels unbearable, like scalding fire burning into his bones. Sweat drips from Loki's skin, running down his chest where he and Thor meet, and he feels as though he could snap in any second. "Mine." he says, knees weakening at the feel of his own cock throbbing in Thor's slick warmth.
"More." Thor growls again, so far lost into the pleasure of it all that the storm outside is shaking the earth. Loki wants to give him everything, utterly, completely, until they're both nothing more than particles of warm dust in the cold air, but the sensations are already far too much.
He wraps a hand around Thor instead, gently tugging at the hard flesh, but it's all it takes.
Thor comes with Loki's name like a blessing on his lips, arching, gasping, a hard spasm wracking him from head to toe and Thor bucks against him with enough strength to send him backwards. It's like a revelation. Loki's eyes grow wide in his skull, his motions cut short as Thor's tight heat squeezes around him like a vise.
A blinding light fills his vision for what seems like an eternity. He feels light-headed, his skin a few inches too tight around the chest, and when it's over, Loki finds himself sprawled over Thor, panting, whimpering as though he'd nearly died.
No one ever finds out.
The All-Father calls Loki to the throne the very next day, alone, with a small group of Aesir sorcerers lingering silently in the shadows. Odin doesn't say a word as he restores his seidr. He looks at Loki warily, one pale eye locked on him like a hawk, but it is only the accustomed warning. He doesn't suspect a thing.
It appears that whatever reasons Thor might have had for unleashing that storm, Odin blames it all on the impending threat of war.
Loki doesn't see Thor for another two days, until the horns of battle echo through the lands and set the Einherjar in motion, and when he joins Thor at the fixed edge of the Bifrost, both of them are eerily silent. Loki can tell that Sif senses something between them, in the way Loki keeps his slander to himself for once, in the way Thor seems unnecessarily tense. Her grey eyes glow as though she knows, but if she does, she keeps it to herself.
The bright pull of the Bifrost carries them all like little sparks of blue in a river of hot sunlight. Stardust washes over them, cold, beautiful, putrid in taste as if the dead star it had come from had carried a billion mortal bodies as it burned, and Loki shuts his eyes to keep the harsh opposing wind from blinding him.
The noise of the bridge is deafening.
When they land, Loki feels the soft crunch of snow beneath his feet, and the cold, sharp breeze of an ice realm cutting across his cheeks. He breathes in deeply and smiles.
They don't get much of a warning before a dagger slices through the blizzard, luckily embedding itself in Sif's shield. The shieldmaiden answers with a roar, and by the time the first Dark Elf appears through the thick curtain of snow, she has already cut his neck.
Evidently, they are outnumbered. The creatures coil around them like a dark mist, an endless wave of pale, void faces, and they ascend without formation, foolishly counting on combined mass rather than cunning. Loki grins as he reaches for the blades tucked in his sleeves. It is no great challenge. They cut down half of them without having to take a breath, and Loki would never in his life admit that the most Dark Elves who fall under his blade are those that get a little too close to Thor.
Thor seems a little annoyed in the aftermath of the battle. Loki figures he's upset that Loki took most of his kills, because that seems fitting to Thor, —greedy, selfish Thor— who yearns for things even when he knows they might cause him harm.
"What were you doing?" he demands, his voice hoarse with unfulfilled bloodlust.
Loki only smiles and looks at him from under dark, frost-speckled lashes. He imagines how he would look to Thor now, covered in spatters of black blood, and a wild, faraway look in his sharp green eyes, as though he's still half-caught in the lingering throes of battle. He licks his lips before he speaks to Thor, tasting ice.
"I was keeping my word."
He turns around before he has the chance to see the expression on Thor's face change, and begins to walk through the snow. He hears footsteps behind him and knows Sif and Thor are following. By sunset, they reach a cave beneath the mountains, and the pale storm-beast they find inside, they slay and roast on a makeshift spit. Sif takes the first watch outside the cave while they rest, huddled close to keep warm. They both ignore the fact that Loki doesn't need heat in order to survive.
"Did you mean it?" Thor suddenly booms, and the echo in the vast cave pierces through their ears. Sif turns at the sound, giving Thor a half-aggressive, half-annoyed glare that makes him smile innocently in reply. She shakes her head before looking away into the distance, gripping her sword tight. Thor is still smiling when he presses his body harder against him, searching for warmth, while Loki feels like he's already melting.
Thor suddenly looks a little severe. "Did you mean it?" he repeats, his voice colder than usual, stern and detached. The echo isn't as deafening this time, but when Loki looks at Thor, he thinks of avalanches and his broken body lying buried under leagues of snow. "Did you mean it when you took that oath?"
It's so easy to say yes, only because this Thor, —strong, kingly, powerful Thor, whose insatiable greed Loki now realizes he likes to feed— but he doesn't. He won't. Predictability is against his very nature.
So he smiles at Thor instead, feels the quickening thump of his heart through that big, muscular chest, through four layers of armor. He reaches under the fur blankets for Thor's hand and twines their fingers together, squeezing a little, and hoping Sif doesn't look back and notice.
"You'll see," he says, running his thumb back and forth against the back of Thor's hand. The wind is howling outside. "You'll see."