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"Jane, you should rest. My brother and I need to have words," Thor says through clenched teeth, his angry glare fixed upon Loki.

They have been traveling for two days and Loki has been goading both Thor and Jane the entire time, clever insults delivered with an affable smile that makes it that much more infuriating. Though Jane puts up a brave front, Thor can tell that Loki's carefully aimed barbs are wearing on her. They are wearing on Thor too, despite the fact that he's had centuries of dealing with Loki's tricks and should probably know better by now.

"Was it something I said?" Loki asks. His face is the picture of innocence, as if he hadn't casually insulted Jane's intelligence and character five times in the last hour alone.

They're camped out by a cave in the woods and have just finished their evening meal. The hour is late and everyone is tired and on edge. Jane's face is pinched and her limbs are heavy with exhaustion; though she doesn't complain, Thor knows it must not be easy for her to keep up with two gods.

The dying embers of firelight reflect off of the gold of Loki's chains, which Thor imagines are the main cause of his brother's ire.

"Loki, I would ask that you cast a protective spell upon the campsite in our absence."

Loki hisses, his maliciously cheerful demeanor dropping for brief moment to reveal the rage simmering beneath the surface. But even still, he quickly composes himself and there's a brief flash of gold as he complies with Thor's request.

He could say no if he truly wanted to, but his freedom from prison is contingent on him helping Thor on this journey. Loki cannot even use his magic to try and escape; the runes on his chains have bound his magic to Thor, only to be used in Thor's service and at his discretion.

Loki pretends like he doesn't care but Thor has seen him fiddling with the chains from time to time, surreptitiously checking them for weaknesses. He knows that Loki must hate the chains, as there's nothing he despises more than feeling powerless. Thor hates them too. He wishes things were different and that he could trust his brother as he once did. It was Odin's idea and Odin's seiðr that made it possible, but Thor offered no objection to the plan. There's just too much at stake. He needed Loki's help and he could not see any other way of ensuring Loki's compliance.

Thor sighs. He supposes it's just another thing Loki will never forgive him for.

"Thor, are you okay?" Jane asks, her brow furrowing with concern.

"I will be fine," Thor says as he reassuringly strokes her cheek. "Sleep now. I will return shortly."

"Goodnight Jane," Loki says in an cloying voice.

Jane glares at Loki and looks as if she's itching to slap him again, but instead she goes to lie down in the cave.

Thor turns back to face Loki and the smug smile on his face makes Thor's blood boil, even though he knows he's playing right into Loki's hands. With a low growl, he grabs Loki by the chains and starts dragging him off toward the woods. Though Loki's footing slips a few times, Thor's pace does not falter as he drags his brother through the dirt.

When they reach a clearing Thor throws Loki down on the ground and Loki laughs as he skitters across the forest floor. By the time Loki manages to maneuver himself to his feet, Thor has already closed the distance between them. He tries to stare Loki down, but Loki merely offers him a little smirk, as if daring Thor to shove him again.

"You will leave Jane alone," Thor says, and his voice is firm and final.

Loki laughs. "Why should I? She's most amusing. I'm quite fond of the way she pretends she doesn't fear me."

"She has nothing to fear from you. I will not let you harm her."

Loki shakes head. "And if she believes that such a thing is within your power then she's an even bigger fool than you are."

"I will not let you harm her."

Loki shrugs. "If you say so," he says, but Thor knows that there's a very real threat that lies beneath Loki's flippancy. It enrages Thor even further that Loki would dare be so callous and casual about it.

Before Thor can think better of it he's gripping Mjolnir's handle, electricity prickling on his skin as he takes advantage of the magical link between the hammer and Loki's chains. The runes on the chains light up and Loki cries out and shakes as the electric shock goes through his body. When Loki's shudders subside, he does not look cowed at all. Instead he merely looks over at Thor and licks his lips.

"Oh come now, surely you can do better than that, Thor."

Thor growls and struggles for words, resisting the urge to claw out his own hair. "Loki... why?" Thor asks, and there is so much weight held in that single word.

Why did you leave me? Why must you be like this? Why must we fight each other?

They were so close once and though Thor can finally see all the broken pieces, he still cannot figure out how it all fell apart. Loki was his brother, his lover, his closest confidant. He remembers the times when he was injured and Loki sat with him in the healing chambers, gentle fingers smoothing back Thor's hair while he berated him for his recklessness. He remembers stolen kisses, fantastic adventures, and mingled laughter after well-played pranks.

But now violence seems to be the only bridge between them.

"This will not end until one of us is dead. You know this, Thor," Loki says, and his tone is oddly gentle. Thor crosses his arms and sighs because Loki does not understand.

Death is such a small thing to a god. Thor has no desire to die, but he doesn't fear it. It is the fear of losing Loki that truly haunts him.

Sometimes he thinks it would hurt less if Loki actually were dead, but he knows he's just fooling himself. Even as he mourns the loss of their old relationship, even as Loki hurts him over and over again, he knows he does not want to live in a world without Loki in it. Broken and twisted though he is, Loki's mere existence is a balm to Thor's soul.

If one of them dies, the other will live half a life, always acutely aware of the empty hole inside them. Despite Loki's statements to the contrary, not even he would be immune to such a thing.

And when both of them are dead, Thor feels certain that their spirits will find each other somehow. The bond that tethers them to each other is bigger and deeper and darker than any death could ever be.

"I hope you're enjoying having me as your little attack dog," Loki says. "You do know that it won't last, don't you?"

"So you would have us destroy each other then?" Thor asks, his voice rising in frustration. "You would welcome oblivion?"

"I would welcome many things to finally be free of you," Loki says, his voice low and venomous. "But I suppose it won't be long now. This mission will be a failure and you know it, Thor."

Thor clenches his teeth. "All is not lost, Loki."

Loki laughs, his eyes full of malicious glee. "Still holding on to the delusion that you can save everyone? Truly your arrogance knows no bounds. How you can you expect to accomplish such a feat when you could not even stop your own brother from falling into the abyss?"

Loki's words cut Thor like a knife, expertly targeted at his deepest regrets and fears.

"Just because you can smash things with a hammer doesn't make you a king. Your mortal woman, your mortal friends... they will all fall right before your eyes. Forgive me if I do not shed a tear for them," Loki smirks, and in that moment, Thor is so angry that he can't even stand to look at Loki's face.

Thor grabs Loki by his chains and drags him across the clearing before shoving him face first up against a tree. He pins Loki's wrists to the tree with one hand and uses the other to unceremoniously yank down Loki's pants, leaving him exposed in the cool night air.

The first blow claps like thunder when Thor's hand comes down hard on Loki's ass.

"Ah, so now you're no longer content to chain me like a dog, you must punish me like one too?" Loki laughs. "Oh Thor, hitting doesn't solve everything," he says, and the smug tone of his voice makes Thor's anger burn just that much hotter.

"I beg to differ," Thor says before smacking Loki hard a few more times.

He keeps Loki pinned, spanking him over and over again in a red haze of anger. Even in his rage, Thor finds it hard to accept that this is Loki, his brother who used to tell such beautiful stories and had such a command of language. Pain and anger seem to be the only languages Loki understands now.

Thor gives Loki a sharp smack on his left ass cheek and Loki cackles, mad, wild laughter echoing through the forest. While at first Thor varied his slaps in speed and intensity, in the end he gives up all pretense of finesse, striking Loki hard and mercilessly with every blow.

A couple more minutes pass before Loki calls out Thor's name in a broken voice, his laughter turning into sobs.

"Thor," Loki chokes out again, but Thor does not heed him. He holds him in place, even as Loki's legs tremble and he tries to squirm out of Thor's grasp. Loki courted this punishment with his vile words, and now he will have it until Thor deems it to be over. Thor can see how red and raw Loki's ass is in the moonlight. Though Loki heals fast, his backside will likely be painful and uncomfortable as they travel tomorrow and Thor cannot say he's truly sorry for it.

Thor smacks Loki a few more times before he finally stops, his hand running soothing circles over the heated flesh. He reaches down between Loki's thighs, completely unsurprised to feel that Loki is hard. Thor's own cock is painfully hard in his pants, and Loki hisses when Thor presses his crotch against Loki's raw backside.

Thor releases Loki just long enough to remove Mjolnir from his belt and yank his own pants down to his thighs, freeing his cock and balls.

"Oil," Thor says in a rough voice. There's a small flash of golden light and then Thor reaches for the small bottle now conjured in Loki's bound hands.

Thor doesn't bother spending much time opening Loki up for his cock. It will hurt, but Thor knows that Loki would have it no other way.

They both groan as Thor slides in, stretching Loki open wide. Once he's buried balls deep, he pins Loki's wrists to the tree again. He uses his other hand to grab Loki's hip, positioning him so that his back is arched and he's forced up on his tiptoes, ass cocked up at the perfect angle to take Thor's dick.

When Thor starts thrusting, he doesn't hold anything back. It's rough and primal from the start, Thor's balls smacking against Loki's ass obscenely with every powerful thrust. All Loki can do is moan and take it, struggling to maintain his balance as Thor ruts into him. Thor grunts with each hard snap of his hips because Loki feels so good, so impossibly hot and tight inside.

"I always knew you were a beast, Thor," Loki manages to choke out. Thor responds by pressing Loki's face up against the bark of the tree, muffling the rough little moans escaping from his lips.

It isn't long before Thor feels his orgasm building in the base of his spine, but he isn't ready for it to be over just yet.

"What are you doing?" Loki hisses when Thor pulls out and turns Loki around, pressing his back up against the tree.

"I want to see your face when you come on my cock," Thor says, and he feels like the minute shudder that passes through Loki at the words. Thor makes short work of removing Loki's pants entirely and tosses them on the forest floor. He pins Loki's wrists again and hikes his legs up, making Loki cry out when his sore ass makes full contact with the tree bark.

Loki wraps his legs around Thor, and Thor slides into him again in one long stroke. He resumes his brutal pace from before, taking Loki hard and fast. Thor can feel Loki's hard cock between them and the warmth of Loki's breath against Thor's face with every gasping moan.

Loki's face is streaked with tears from the spanking and one side of his face is abraded from the tree bark that had been pressed against his cheek. His expression looks more open than Thor has seen it in a long time, his usually controlled demeanor torn to shreds.

Loki tries to turn his face away, but Thor grabs his chin roughly. "Look at me."

Loki continues to struggle, but Thor is undeterred. "Loki."

Their eyes lock and a myriad of emotions wash over Loki's face. The anger and hatred are there, but there are other things too. Softer, more familiar things.

Loki sneers. "No one else can bring you to this, Thor. Fucking your own brother in the woods while your mortal wench sleeps. Just look what I've reduced you to," he says, a note of triumph in voice that reads more like an attempt to save face.

His words wound Thor nonetheless because he is not proud of his actions here. He's not proud of the fact that Jane will be hurt when she finds out (because he knows Loki will make sure that she does). Or the fact that there's a part of him that likes this, that wants to hurt and punish Loki as he has hurt Thor. It is the height of selfishness to play these games with Loki when the world is crumbling and he should be thinking of the greater good.

And worst of all, given the chance he would make the same choice all over again.

Thor feels like he's drowning in the pain and pleasure of it all, but he knows Loki is right there alongside him, just as lost. But while Loki has played his hand, Thor has yet to truly play his. So Thor slows his thrusts and leans in closer, his gaze boring into Loki's.

"You can fight and destroy everything in your path. You can poison yourself and everyone you touch. You can spin a thousand lies or even manipulate your way out of these chains," Thor says as he shakes Loki's wrists. "But in the deepest core of your very soul you will never stop yearning for me. Never."

Loki offers Thor no words, only an angry, feral noise as he attempts to claw at Thor despite being too thoroughly pinned to move. Loki's eyes blaze as he glares at Thor, the rage of a pathological liar who is confronted with irrefutable truth.

Thor covers Loki's mouth with his own, and they both moan into each rough, biting kiss. He sighs and presses his tongue further into Loki's mouth, as if he could take some of his brother's rage from him and swallow it down into himself.

Thor picks up his pace again, roughly fucking Loki up against the tree while Loki arches and grinds back against him with every thrust. The whole world melts away as Thor loses himself in Loki's eyes and the warm, welcoming grip of his body.

Loki is close; Thor can tell by the way his breath hitches and his legs tremble around Thor's waist. As always, Loki looks so beautiful on the edge of his release: disheveled hair, wide eyes, slack mouth, and every line in his body raw and wanting and yearning just as Thor said he would.

"Thor..." Loki moans before his eyes squeeze shut and his body shakes and shudders in climax.

All of the fighting and spanking and fucking has been for this, this one moment of honesty from Loki. Thor briefly wonders how high the cost will truly be before he's coming hard, groaning desperately as he pours his seed into Loki's body.

When it's over, they both gasp for air, bodies still joined as they stare at each other in the dark. Thor presses his forehead against Loki's, feeling the warmth of his skin and breathing in the smell of his sweat. And it's all so wonderfully, painfully familiar that Thor has to swallow over the lump in his throat.

Another moment goes by before Thor pulls out and releases Loki, who holds onto the tree to steady his trembling legs. This twisted game is over, but there is no real triumph in it for either of them.

Thor pulls up his own pants and then helps Loki with his. Thor's touch is gentle on Loki's abused skin, but Loki refuses to meet his eyes.

"You will leave Jane alone," Thor says in a firm voice once they start walking back to the cave.

"Why Thor? You still have not given me a satisfying answer."

Because I love you and you love me, Thor doesn't say.

"Because if you do not, I will consider our agreement null and I will throw you back in the dungeons myself."

Loki gives Thor an appraising look. "You're getting better, Thor. For a moment, I almost believed you," Loki says, but his smirk seems half-hearted and doesn't quite reach his eyes. Though Loki thrives on their endless conflict, it seems that there are moments when he is just as drained by it as Thor is. It saddens Thor that a desperate fuck in the woods is the closest they can get to a truce.

"Just keep walking, Loki," Thor says, and it's bittersweet to be walking side by side in the dark, just like in the adventures of their youth.

Thor knows it's only a matter of time until Loki gets out of the chains, but he also knows that for better or worse, Loki will always come back to him. The chains around Loki's wrists are nothing compared to the chains they have around each others' hearts.