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No Common Thing

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In a nondescript tavern on a nondescript street in a section of the city that was neither too prosperous nor too seedy, there was an innkeep with an affable yet forgettable face. If one were to enter this tavern for drinks and a warm repast, one would find the food pleasant enough, the ale and mead adequate, the innkeep himself polite though not quite warmly friendly. A completely unremarkable evening would pass.

If, however, one were to enter this tavern—casually, of course—and approach the aggressively ordinary innkeep, and tap on the bartop twice—so, so, casually—followed by an absent scratch of the nose and a blasé “I’m not sure what I’d like today. Do you offer tastings?”...well, then the innkeep would wipe his hands on his apron and say “of course, of course” and lead the way to the small tasting room right next to the kitchen.

“We have several fine vintages,” he’d say, while simultaneously twisting the cork on several of the casks in the room, in a seemingly random order. “I hope you’ll find at least one to your liking.”

And then he would leave, and there would be a whirring sound, and a small door in the floor would slide back to reveal a hidden set of stairs.

At the end of these stairs was a passage, long enough to take one out of the city, and at the end of the passage was a door with a certain illusion-banishing enchantment on it, guarded by a very large man with a very large axe who only had ears for one particular word.

And past all of this, tavern and passage and door and guard, there was a brothel.

It wasn’t just any brothel, of course. If it was, there would be no need for the secrecy, the security.

At this brothel, the clientele were all people who had a lot of money and something to lose should their activities become known. At this brothel, the workers were all gifted with small amounts of seidr—enough to cast illusions—and trained as actors. At this brothel, one could fuck whoever one wanted to.

Loki, Prince of Asgard, less favored son, second in line to the throne, God of Lies, Mischief, and Deceit, brother of Thor, stood cloaked in invisibility outside the nondescript tavern on the nondescript street of the city with his hands on his hips and watched the door swing closed and wondered who it was, exactly, that his brother wanted to fuck.

*

The existence of this establishment (often just called “the establishment,” for it had no name) was a more or less open secret among Asgard's higher echelons. Loki had figured out how to get into it ages ago, via a combination of flattery, eavesdropping, and good old fashioned blackmail. He'd never availed himself of its services, though, and as far as he knew, neither had Thor—at least not until quite recently.

Loki assumed it was quite recently, at any rate. Certainly Thor had never scuttled around so furtively (and thus, obviously) as he had the past month or so. The great oaf was terrible at secrecy. It was embarrassing, really; Loki should give him lessons. Although Thor would probably scoff if Loki tried, citing his prowess as a great warrior and claiming he had no need to skulk in the shadows like his poor weak little brother.

Anyway, Thor’s complete inability to be clandestine had piqued Loki’s interest, and it had coincided with a disturbing trend of Thor avoiding him for the past month as well, so tonight Loki had followed him and—ta da. Here they were.

Loki found himself perplexed. Thor was in no want of bed partners; usually he had to fight them off with a stick. If Thor wanted to tumble someone, he just did it, to Loki’s unending eyerolling. Who was it that Thor wanted and couldn’t actually have? Loki’s mind raced, considering and discarding possibilities. Everyone or thing that Loki could think of was too sordid for his brother’s tastes, he was sure of it.

Who, then?

It was a riddle, and Loki hated unanswered riddles.

He cloaked himself in invisibility and cast a charm to silence his breath and his footsteps. The next time someone went through the tavern door, Loki slipped through with them. He was just in time to see Thor disappearing down the hallway to the “tasting room”, and he quickened his pace to slide through that door as well.

He followed Thor down the hidden stairs and into the long passage. At first he stayed behind Thor, shadowing his footsteps, but he wanted to know what Thor was thinking and all he could see was his backside—which, objectively speaking, was more than attractive, but did nothing to reveal Thor’s inner thoughts. So Loki hurried ahead of him and walked backwards so he could see Thor’s face.

Thor looked...nervous. And guilty? And the hand that he raised to run through his hair looked far shakier than Loki had ever seen before. How incredibly intriguing. His normally self-assured brother, looking as nervy as a cat in a dog kennel. Loki’s curiosity spiked, and so did a disquieting jealousy. Of what, Loki wasn’t quite certain. That someone other than himself was able to discomfit Thor so? That Thor had been ignoring him lately for this yet-unknown fantasy?

Thor’s avoidance actually rankled even a bit more than it normally would, come to think of it, because right before it had started they’d been on an extended hunting trip together—with Thor’s friends at first, but they had left part way through and so Thor and Loki had been alone together for at least the last week and a half of it—and it had been...wonderful. They rarely got time alone together like that anymore to just have fun without anyone else around or any other duties to attend to, and it had been the best ten days Loki had had in a very long time. Being the center of Thor’s attention was always Loki’s favorite thing.

He’d thought that Thor had been having as good of a time as he was. He’d certainly seemed to. They’d barely stopped smiling the entire time, whether they were teasingly mocking each other, or jesting, or sparring, or actually even hunting once or twice.

But it seemed now like Thor hadn’t had a very good time, and in fact couldn’t wait to get home to do this with...whoever he’d apparently been thinking about the entire time he’d been traveling with Loki instead.

Loki’s jealousy burned even higher.

Briefly, Loki spared half of a thought to wonder why he was tailing Thor instead of simply asking him about it. But it was only half a thought, and quickly banished.

When they reached the man with the axe, Thor gave him the password. The man grunted and waved him through the illusion-breaking door. This bit was slightly more tricky. Loki would be visible for just a flicker before he could vanish himself again. Hopefully Thor wouldn’t notice since Loki was behind him. Loki let his finger touch axe-man’s wrist lightly as he stepped under the doorframe and whispered a feeling directly into his mind—your eyes are so tired, you need to rub them—and the man did, and then Loki was safely through, undetected.

Sometimes Loki regretted that so many of his tricks would never be properly appreciated just by their very nature.

So, this was the establishment.

They were still underground, so there were no windows. Everything was rich dark wood and gold and looked expensive in a way that spoke of real wealth and not just the flashy display of it; not only fine materials, but also exquisite craftsmanship and excellent taste. There was no seating, just an open staircase then led even further down, and several ornately carved doors.

A woman draped in shimmering samite appeared from somewhere and met Thor with a smile.

“Your Highness,” she said, inclining her head. “Would you like the same arrangement as last time?”

“Yes,” Thor said.

Not even a ‘please’ or a ‘thank you.’ Thor must be in a high state indeed. Loki felt that spike of jealousy again, and impatience. Suddenly he just wanted to know who, immediately. And to leave this place and his great stupid aurochs of a brother and go home and find out everything he could about whoever it was, and take that information and do something highly regrettable and yet entertaining with it. Turn them into a frog in public maybe, or push them into a manure pile “accidentally”, or ruin their reputation at court with a few well-placed words, or—

Why? his subconscious whispered.

Well, why not?

Thor’s attentions belonged to him and nobody else.

The woman gestured for Thor to precede her down the stairs, and Loki trailed behind them. There was no one else in the halls. Loki didn’t really expect there to be. He was sure there were other more discreet ways to get around in here. They couldn’t have the whores prancing around, after all, not when the clients were paying to pretend that they weren’t just that.

She brought them to a door at the end of the hallway that opened silently into a richly furnished bedroom. There was a large four poster bed with attractive red drapery, a couch wide enough to fuck on comfortably (for surely that was its purpose), several small tables of various heights (to accommodate even more fucking, Loki supposed), a full length stand mirror, two chairs, a wardrobe, a dresser, and a cheerful low fire with an incredibly plush and inviting looking rug in front of it. A door to the right appeared to lead to a bath. There was another door to their left that was closed.

“Please make yourself comfortable,” the woman said to Thor. “He will be with you shortly.”

He?

Thor nodded, his jaw tight and his eyes distant, and started unfastening his cloak.

Loki followed the woman instead of staying with his brother. He was going to get a look at this person now. Perhaps he could even leave before the “show” began—because he suddenly realized exactly what he was doing, namely skulking around in the same room where Thor was about to fuck somebody, and Norns, this was a bit much even for him. The woman went through the doorway on the left and Loki slipped through with her.

This room was smaller. It appeared to be a dressing room of sorts, with a mirrored vanity full of various makeups and perfumes, and racks of clothing. A young man with long red hair and pretty cheekbones was lazing on a chaise, looking bored and painting his nails.

“Look lively, Halvar,” the woman said crisply. “His Highness is here again.”

“Which one?” Halvar said, studying the pinky he’d just varnished.

“I said ‘again,’” the woman said.

Halvar made a face. “Same show?”

“Same show.”

“Lucky me,” Halvar said, voice dripping with sarcasm.

Loki wanted to shake both of them. Why weren’t they saying a name? The tension was mounting in his chest. Who was this man about to turn into? Would Loki recognize his face? Why was Halvar acting so put-upon? Who could possibly be worth all this to Thor? TELL ME he wanted to scream, but instead he balled his hands into fists.

“I better not hear about a speck of that attitude following you in there,” the woman said, taking Halvar by the ear and shaking him until he squirmed. “It’s your job to provide, not give commentary.”

“I know,” Halvar groused. “But you have to admit…”

“I admit nothing. Do your job.”

Halvar sighed resignedly, rubbing at his ear. “Yes, mum.”

The woman touched two places on the wall and a secret door slid back, which she left through after throwing Halvar one more pointed look. When the door closed again, Halvar heaved himself to his feet, scowling, and went to stand in front of the mirror. Loki moved behind him so he could see the reflection.

Loki was fairly dancing in place at this point. Exactly how perverse was Thor? He’d never dreamed that his brother could harbor any secret like this, never dreamed that Thor’s appetites might be anything less than orthodox...who WAS this man Thor wanted to fuck, Loki wanted to see his face RIGHT NOW so that he knew just whose hair to go light on fucking FIRE for DARING to make Thor want to FUCK HIM and—

Halvar glimmered aquamarine and then Loki was staring at himself.

His blood ran cold, then hot, and his vision narrowed alarmingly, and his breath caught in his lungs. The man who looked like him turned towards the clothes rack. Before Loki knew what he was doing, he threw an arm around his own chest and pressed his hand to his own forehead and SLEEP he yelled directly into his doppelganger’s brain, SLEEP NOW. He watched himself go down like a ton of bricks, and he stepped back, gasping.

He looked so peaceful, there on the floor. Nothing like the turmoil currently going on in his breast.

Thor wanted to fuck him. The truth of it felt simultaneously like a bolt from the blue and like it was something he’d known his whole life. Loki forced his trembling limbs to obey him and go still and to think. This didn’t make any sense at all—no, that was a lie. Loki didn’t want it to make any sense at all.

Because the truth was he and Thor always been so close, so volatile. And Thor had never been able to control his appetites—for lust and violence especially. This must be just a particularly sordid way for him to take out all the pent up frustration that so frequently simmered between the two of them. Bend Loki to his will. Force him to take whatever Thor wanted to dish out, without any risk of repercussion. There was no way this was an act of love.

And it hurt. It hurt terribly. Because while Loki may have at times doubted the strength of his brother’s love, he’d never before believed that Thor actually hated him.

Loki’s shock began to give way to the first twinges of anger.

How dare Thor? How dare he?

He wanted to fuck Loki? Well let him try.

Loki was going to go out there and play the part and get all of Thor’s filthy secrets from his own lips, and then Loki was going to reveal himself, and Thor was going to be ruined. Because then he’d know that Loki knew everything, and he’d been in Loki’s debt for the entire remainder of his long, miserable existence.

Taking a deep breath, Loki lifted his invisibility and silencing enchantments and dissolved his clothing. He took an emerald green robe off the rack, a lovely silk thing covered in delicately embroidered flowers that fell to mid thigh, and belted it around his waist. Stepping over the body on the floor without looking at it, he went to study himself in the mirror for a moment and school his features. Wipe off his distress and replace it with insouciance. There. Dressed appropriately and with an alluring half-smile on his face, Loki turned and faced the door.

Time for the “show.”

Thor was on the bed, already naked, lying on his stomach with his head pillowed on his arms. When he saw Loki his face broke out into a sweet smile and Loki’s stomach flipped. It wasn’t right, that Thor should think so incredibly little of him while looking so beautiful and smiling at him so wonderfully. Those incredible smiles were all that Loki had ever really wanted, had gone to great lengths to win, and here Thor was giving them out for free to whores. Loki’s guts twisted with ugly jealousy.

“Hello, brother,” Loki purred, his voice honey and his heart cracking. He leaned into the word brother, wanting to see if Thor would flinch. He didn’t.

“I’m so happy to see you,” Thor said. He may as well have stabbed Loki in the chest.

Loki paced slowly inside the room, running one hand lightly over the top of the dresser, biting his lip. He didn’t know how Halvar had played it the previous times, so he hazarded a guess.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” Loki said. He tried to put a little sway in his hips. Norns, his blood was on fire. Thor was laid out on the bed looking every inch the golden god that he was, and he was just staring at Loki, unmoving, just looking at him, and Loki knew he wanted to...he wanted to…

“How do you want me tonight?” Loki asked, pitching his voice low to hide the tremor. “Sweet or rough? Shall I praise you or curse you?” Thor pushed himself up to sit on the edge of the bed as Loki moved closer. “Make you cry my name in gratitude or in anger? Shall we make love or war? How would you have me...brother?”

At the last word Loki finally drew between Thor’s spread legs. Thor’s nakedness was nearly inconsequential at this point. Loki just needed to know what he was thinking, needed to know exactly which way his heart was finally going to break completely. He cupped Thor’s cheeks with trembling hands, searching his eyes. He was throbbing, body and heart and mind.

Thor said nothing and Loki found himself talking more to fill the silence. He wanted something from Thor, anything.

“Will you open me slow and easy or take me dry and screaming?” he rasped, his throat tight. “Tell me. Tell me just how you would put me in my place.” Tell me how you think of me when we’re sparring, when we’re arguing, when we’re laughing together. Tell me what kind of armor I need to build to save myself from how much you hate me. He wasn’t even angry anymore, he just...ached. Just needed.

“Why do you speak such words?” Thor asked softly. He put his hands on Loki’s waist and squeezed, and Loki swallowed a gasp. It felt intimate in a way that none of Thor’s touches ever had before, and it overwhelmed his frayed senses; Thor’s hands were so big, and they were holding him so gently. Loki’s robe was open nearly to his navel, a stripe of his pale chest exposed, and Thor raised his hand and let two of his fingers slide down the bare flesh. It made Loki shudder, and his eyes fall shut. It was the touch of a lover, and not one he had ever thought to feel from his brother, and he felt it stirring things in him that he’d never known existed.

“I would have you as I always do,” Thor murmured. “Between my thighs, giving me everything I always dreamed of.”

Loki was so distracted by Thor’s hands on his waist and chest that the words didn’t register for a moment.

When they did, his eyes flew open.

Thor was looking at him, his own eyes blue, so blue, and full of longing and a pain for which Loki had no name. Everything that Loki thought he knew rearranged itself in an instant.

Thor didn’t want to take him.

Thor wanted to be taken by him.

“Brother,” Loki breathed, disbelieving.

Thor leaned in and kissed Loki’s bare chest, right on his sternum, and nosed the edges of his robe aside to nuzzle his cheek in against Loki’s skin as well. Loki found himself holding onto Thor’s shoulders and wondering how his life had completely ceased to make any sense whatsoever.

“Will you call me your golden knight again?” Thor asked, wrapping both arms around Loki’s waist and holding him tight. “I liked that very much last time.”

Loki was torn between tears and hysterical laughter. “My golden knight”—Loki hadn’t called him that since before their voices had dropped. Thor wasn’t paying for someone who looked like Loki to humiliate and denigrate and hurt. He was paying for someone who looked like Loki to make love to him while calling him tender childhood endearments.

Loki should reveal himself now, he knew it. He had the upper hand right now. Thor had just embarrassed himself thoroughly. Had shown how despicably soft he was under all his bravado. Loki should end this charade, take his winnings, and leave. Mock Thor about this for the rest of their lives. Hang it over his head. Use it to his advantage. If he were a harder man, he would have.

Instead, he held Thor closer. Hugged Thor’s head to him with both arms.

Thor didn’t hate him.

Thor loved him.

Thor was, perhaps, in love with him.

It should horrify Loki. Send him screaming into the night.

It didn’t.

“Brother,” Loki said again, voice shaking.

Thor looked up at him and Loki looked down and they held each other’s gazes for an agonizingly long moment. And then Thor was reaching up and pulling Loki down into a kiss, and Loki didn’t resist it.

Loki’s entire world collapsed and rebuilt itself in that moment. He found himself kissing Thor back, the corners of his mouth so unsteady that it was only the pressure of Thor’s lips against his own that kept him from breaking down entirely. It was almost a relief, like something inevitable had finally come to pass, something long glimpsed in the distance and yet never discovered until now.

It was Thor who broke away first.

“I’m sorry,” he said, taking his arms away from Loki’s waist. Withdrawing, taking his warmth with him, pulling back into himself and leaving Loki cold and empty. Not meeting Loki’s eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said again. “I can’t...it’s not your fault. I can’t do this tonight...I can’t...I’m sorry.”

“What’s wrong?” Loki croaked through a throat gone thin and scratchy.

“You’re too good,” Thor said, his voice shaky. He passed a hand over his face, ran it through his hair, laughed weakly. “You must have been practicing. I’m sorry, I...the illusion was never so perfect before, I could always tell there was something off, that you weren’t actually...but tonight...you’re too real...I can’t...it’s like you’re really him…”

“And you don’t really want to make love to him?” Loki asked, controlling his voice as well as he was able. He took a step away from the bed. He didn’t even know what to feel. Thor had kissed him. He had kissed Thor back.

Thor looked at him despairingly. “If I have this now, how could I ever see him again and not want him so badly I would either die of it or do something unforgivable? I’m sorry. I’ll pay and leave.”

“Thor,” Loki said, his voice pathetically weak and soft. Thor was already pulling his breeches on and reaching for his shirt. “Don’t go. Thor.”

“I’ll tell your mistress I was fully satisfied—”

“It’s me,” Loki said. His throat was so tight he could barely force any air through it. “It’s me. Don’t go. Don’t leave me...”

“You don’t have to pretend any longer,” Thor said, harshly now. “Please.”

Breeches up and shirt untucked and boots in his hand, Thor started towards the door. Loki found himself reaching for Thor’s arm and grabbing onto it with desperate fingers. His heart felt far too large for his chest. The thought that Thor could kiss him like that and upend his whole life and then just leave was unbearable. He had no plan anymore, just his oldest and simplest desire; Thor’s love.

“Enough!” Thor cried out, anger giving his voice an edge. Loki found himself slammed up against the wall, Thor’s forearm across his sternum and his eyes flashing fire. Thor’s softness and vulnerability from moments ago had left Loki floundering, but this Thor was one he was familiar with. It let him gain back the slightest feeling of control, although he suspected that both of them were completely lost right now.

“You know it’s me,” Loki said, going lax under Thor’s arm, not fighting back. “You said so yourself.”

Their gazes locked for a moment, Thor with his jaw still hard and his nostrils flared, Loki with his eyes going soft. Loki watched the realization spread across Thor’s features, anger swiftly melting away, longing and panic replacing it for an instant before an awful blankness slammed down like a shutter.

Thor fell back, let his boots drop to the floor. Covered his face with one hand, held the other out like he was pushing Loki away. He looked like Loki had struck him, like he was reeling from some mortal blow.

“Wh—why?” Thor choked out.

“I followed you,” Loki managed to get out through the constriction in his throat. “To see who had driven you here—”

“What have I done?” Thor whispered. He staggered back another step and sank to his knees. “You let me say—You let me kiss you—Oh gods—”

Loki pushed away from the wall, rubbing at his chest where Thor had shoved at him, searching for something to say, anything. His tongue, usually so glib, was tied completely. Instead, he reached for Thor’s shoulder. Thor flinched away like his touch was poison.

“Don’t touch me,” Thor said brokenly. “Leave me. Go. You never have to see me again, I swear. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”

“Thor,” Loki said, more sharply than he intended. His brother’s groveling at any other time would have pleased him immensely, but right now all it did was fill him with a sick, sad sort of heaviness. “I’m not angry, if you haven’t noticed.”

“Please no more tricks,” Thor said to the floor. “I can’t—I don’t have—”

“It’s not a trick,” Loki said. Again he reached for Thor’s shoulder, and again Thor shrugged away, and Loki huffed in frustration. “Why do you shrink from me?”

That got him only a self-deprecating scoffing noise.

“So you’ll give all your tenderness to a stranger and not to me?” Loki said, unable to keep the hurt out of his voice.

Thor barked out a sound that was more like a sob than a laugh and finally looked up at him. “Loki,” he said with a quiet despair that Loki had never heard in his voice before.

Loki was fairly certain he hadn’t been in control of a single one of his words or actions since the moment he saw Thor’s whore turn into himself. It had left him, simply, entirely stunned, and his brain’s higher functions had shut down completely. All he had left right now was instinct and emotion, perhaps the truest that either had ever been, without the constant buzz of his too-busy mind to get in the way. That instinct set him into motion again now, sinking down on the floor behind his brother’s back and leaning into him and putting his arms around his waist. He felt Thor inhale sharply, and he pressed his cheek against the back of Thor’s shoulder and squeezed his eyes shut.

“It’s no trick,” Loki said again. “I swear it.”

Thor’s hand covered his and squeezed and then Thor was shaking, and Loki realized he was crying. He blinked back tears himself and held him through it. He’d half thought that Thor would fly into a rage when Loki revealed himself, his inevitable guilt transmuted into anger like so many of his emotions were. But this? He hadn’t seen Thor cry since they were little boys. Princes of Asgard weren’t generally permitted such things. It cut Loki to the quick that Thor was letting himself break down like this in front of him, and he hugged him all the tighter.

Thor shook silently while Loki counted his heartbeats and held him, waiting. He still had no idea what he was doing, but this felt right, somehow. Thor loved him, and maybe that love had taken a turn that Loki hadn’t seen coming, but…

He felt shaky and unmoored and lost, but he wasn’t alone. He had Thor here with him. That alone was enough to give him courage. “Come,” he said when Thor had finally gone still. He rose and offered his hand. Thor stared at it a moment before taking it and letting Loki draw him to his feet as well.

Thor's eyes were still looking dangerously wet, and he rubbed at them harshly.

“You didn’t come here tonight to ruin me, then,” Thor said.

“No,” Loki agreed. “I came to find out who you wanted to fuck so I could light their hair on fire.”

Thor barked out a watery laugh. “What changed?”

Loki took his hand again and laced their fingers together.

“Everything.”

“Make me understand,” Thor pleaded.

Thor let Loki lead him over to the bed and they sat down on the edge with their knees touching, still holding tightly to each other’s hands. Loki took a deep breath and collected his thoughts. Painful honesty like this was not something he was comfortable or familiar with, but he felt that if he didn’t give it to Thor right now, that things would be broken between them irrevocably. And so he tried.

“I won’t apologize for following you here,” he said first. “But when I found out it was...me...I...I came in here myself because I wanted to understand. I was thinking the worst, most awful things about you. That you wanted to h-hurt me, or f-force yourself on me, or—”

Aghast, Thor tried to cut him off. “Gods, no, I—”

“Shh, I know. And then you didn’t, and...you kissed me and…” Loki’s eyes fell closed and he shuddered all over his body. “...and I never wanted you to stop,” he whispered.

He realized as he was saying it that it was true. That it was what he wanted. That Thor should never again spare any thought for a person who was not him, should give himself to Loki just as he wanted to; that Loki desired to do the same; that suddenly he couldn’t imagine ever not having wanted it.

“If this is one of your deceptions,” Thor said roughly, “then better just to kill me now and be done with it. It would be kinder.”

“No deceptions,” Loki said, as earnestly as he ever had. “No tricks.”

“I’ve been tormented for so long,” Thor said. “Do you know how many nights I lay awake cursing myself? Knowing you were right there, next to me or around the corner, never suspecting the monster that shared your blood and your name? I thought the shame would kill me, I thought that I was a better person than this—every day I feared I would wake and Mjolnir would no longer answer me—”

“Why did you come here and not to me?” Loki asked, his throat tightening again. “Why would you give yourself to a stranger?”

“I thought I was saving you from me.”

“You’re a fool,” Loki said. “All I’ve ever wanted is to be with you.”

Thor turned his face away, eyes closed and the corners of his mouth downturned, his cheeks still damp with tears. Loki took him by the chin and forced his face back around.

Thor opened his mouth to say something, but Loki put his fingers flat on Thor’s lips to quiet him.

“Kiss me again,” he whispered.

Thor simply looked at him, helplessly. And so, for once, Loki proved himself less a coward than his brother, and he leaned in and kissed Thor himself.

For a moment, Thor didn’t kiss him back. Loki put both his hands on Thor’s neck, cupping his jaw, and threw himself into it even more fiercely. Thor’s hands touched his waist. It was probably to hold him up, as Loki was becoming dangerously unbalanced, but Loki made an involuntary noise in the back of his throat at the contact. The next thing he knew, Thor was wrapping him up tightly, crushing them together, and his lips were desperate and hungry on Loki’s own.

They broke apart gasping.

“What—” Thor said.

“I don’t know,” Loki said, his voice breaking halfway through. “Do it again.”

Thor didn’t hesitate this time. He covered Loki’s mouth with his own, and he was the one who groaned this time, and a fire ignited in Loki’s belly. Thor’s lips tasted like salt, and Loki supposed his did too. Loki climbed into Thor’s lap, straddling him, wanting more. He tilted Thor’s face up to better stroke his cheeks and nip at his lips, and Thor kneaded at Loki’s waist and dragged his hands up his back and pulled him closer. A burning hot, mad desire swept through Loki like a wildfire.

“Would you still let me take you?” Loki panted into Thor’s ear as Thor pressed hot kisses to his neck.

“We can’t,” Thor groaned, holding him tight.

“We can. Who will stop us?”

“We shouldn’t…”

“When has that ever stopped either of us before?”

Thor pulled back to look at him.

“You don’t hate me?” he asked. “You aren’t disgusted by me?”

“Thor,” Loki said, rocking their hips together where they were both, unmistakably, hard. “You’re an idiot.”

A thread of anxious anticipation underlaid Loki’s burning lust. He was no blushing virgin, but he wasn’t terribly experienced either. He’d lain with others a dozen times, perhaps, none of them for love, and each time he’d found his nerves overshadowing his pleasure. It was hard to let go when his brain wouldn’t stop yelling at him—that his partners were humoring him, or that they were merely after his fame and wealth, or that they would take tales of his coming undone back to their friends and spread them around Asgard until he was ashamed to show his face in public.

And though he had taken other people before, he’d never taken a man. The thought that Thor would be his first left him dizzy.

Already his body was more aflame than it had ever been before. Just imagining climbing between Thor’s legs, Thor welcoming him there, pushing into his golden brother’s body, giving of himself while he was taking pleasure, giving Thor pleasure as well—the two of them, finally fully belonging to each other in a way he never could have dreamed—

He needed it. He needed it more than he’d ever needed anything before.

Clumsy in his haste, he pushed Thor onto his back and fell on top of him.

“Let me fuck you,” Loki pleaded.

“We shouldn’t do it here,” Thor said, his objections growing progressively weaker and completely belied by his actions, as he was currently groping at Loki’s backside and grinding their cocks together.

“Why not?” Loki said, wriggling against him. He kissed Thor’s neck and dragged his hands down Thor’s front, squeezed his ample chest. Gods, Thor had the most exquisite breast. Loki’s hands were completely full of him. “You’re paying for the room, aren’t you? I can’t wait, I need you, brother, please.”

Thor groaned low in his chest.

“Call me that again.”

“Brother.”

Thor pulled Loki down for another kiss, hard and messy and full of urgency.

Thor tried to pull back and talk even though Loki was pulling at his lips with his teeth. “I never thought...I never dreamed…that you would...that we could…mmm.” The last because Loki had finally succeeded in subduing his lips completely and pushed his tongue into Thor’s mouth.

Thor melted into him for a moment, but he finally did push Loki away and held him at arm’s length. He took a deep breath.

“I can call you ‘brother’ here and it doesn’t turn your heart against me?”

“Why should it?” Loki asked. “It’s what we are.”

“But this…” Thor trailed off uncertainly. “It’s no common thing.”

“And we are not common men,” Loki said softly.

“Brother,” Thor murmured, like he was trying out the word in his mouth. Filling it full of new meaning. His eyes were so tender, nothing like the fierce glare of the battle-hardened warrior that Loki knew he was, and thus all the sweeter for it; and that tenderness was for Loki, and Loki’s chest ached. Yes, they were brothers, and now they would be lovers, and what of it? Loki had ever been a boundary breaker and this boundary was absolutely begging to be broken, especially when such riches waited for them on the other side. They were above such foolish conventions.

“Yes,” Loki said, “and yes and yes again. It will always be yes, so stop worrying like an old woman. Let me fuck you.”

“But—”

Thor.” Loki grabbed Thor’s collar with both hands and ripped his shirt open straight down the middle. “Stop talking.”

Somehow in the ensuing tangle of arms and legs and their complete unwillingness to separate at the mouth, all of their clothes made it to the floor. Loki wrapped his hand around Thor’s cock before he saw it, and the girth of it was shocking, so much so that he was startled into looking down.

“Norns, what do you do with this thing?!” he blurted out without thinking.

That got him the first real smile of the night, a sunny thing that lifted the corners of Thor’s eyes, and Loki couldn’t help it, he abandoned Thor’s cock to kiss at the little wrinkles at each eyelid, and he realized he was smiling himself.

“A great many things,” Thor said, arching his brow knowingly and giving the base of his cock a squeeze himself.

It made Loki blush to imagine. He could stack both of his hands on top of each other and the head of Thor’s cock would still peek out. How far his mouth would have to open around it, how it would feel on his tongue...how much he’d need to stretch himself before taking Thor into him...no, how much Thor would need to stretch him, he wouldn’t even have to do it himself...yes, he could trust Thor to do that when he’d never trusted anyone before...gods…

Part of him was glad he wouldn’t be expected to do it tonight, though.

“On your back,” Loki said authoritatively, playing at confidence. Thor settled back, his hands on Loki’s waist where he was kneeling between his legs.

There was a little pot of oil sitting on the bedstand, because of course there was. It was what this room was for, after all. Loki slicked his suddenly trembling fingers.

Thor’s hands tightened on his waist when Loki brought a finger to his entrance and let it rest there. Loki took a breath to steady himself. He had no idea how to actually do this to someone else, but he’d done this to himself before, it would be fine…

“Ohh,” he said when his index finger slipped all the way in as easy as a dream.

“I’d already, ah...gotten myself ready,” Thor said.

“Fuck,” Loki swore, and added a second finger.

Thor was so hot inside, and silky soft, and Loki couldn’t quite believe that this was happening.

He kissed Thor’s stomach as his fingers worked in him, and the crease between his leg and his groin. His nose skimmed over the velvety skin of Thor’s cock, so he let himself nuzzle up to the head of it and drop a kiss there as well.

“Hurry,” Thor urged, squirming.

“Oh, now you're the impatient one?”

“I've been waiting years for this. You told me to stop worrying, so I’m stopping. Hurry.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Loki said.

“You won’t.”

Loki popped his head up to give Thor a dubious look, and Thor combed his fingers through the hair at Loki’s temple.

“I’ve done this before,” Thor said, smiling. “You won’t, I promise.”

“Have you done it...many times?” Loki asked.

“That depends on how you define ‘many,’ but...yes.”

“Oh.”

“You haven’t, though.”

Loki’s fingers stilled. “Was it that obvious?”

“Not in a bad way.”

“Norns,” Loki said, his cheeks on fire.

Thor tugged him up by the hold he had on his hair and Loki went until he was hovering over him face-to-face. Thor kissed him sweetly, and with his other hand reached down between them and took hold of Loki’s cock and guided it between his legs.

Loki made a thoroughly embarrassing noise when the head of his cock slipped into his brother’s body.

“I love you,” Loki said, the words just slipping out of their own volition. Gods, it was both embarrassing and yet a hilarious understatement. He burned for Thor to say it back. It wasn’t as though he’d never heard it before, but it would be different this time.

Loki felt Thor clench around him.

So different.

Thor cupped his cheek tenderly and arched up into him. Kissed him again.

“Say it,” Loki heard himself begging.

“Say what, little dove?”

Loki’s breath caught at the endearment, the twin to “my golden knight.” They were the names they used to call each other when they were boys, tearing around Idunn’s orchards, saving each other from imaginary monsters; sharing golden apples, their faces and hands sticky sweet with the juices; before they had become men and given up their innocence. When Thor had been Loki’s hero, and, occasionally, Loki had been Thor’s.

Loki couldn’t say it again and so he begged with his eyes instead. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe for Thor this wasn’t love. Maybe it was just a monstrous lust. If it was, he thought that when this was over he might just lay down and die.

“You’re terrible at listening,” Thor said, though his voice was warm. “I feel like I’m speaking very loudly right now.” He rocked up into Loki as he said it. When Loki’s expression didn’t change, he took pity and his face turned serious. “Words have never been as easy for me as they are for you. But...I love you too. I do. More than I know how to say. Which is...why I probably don’t say it enough.”

“Ohh,” Loki said, and let his head dip down til their foreheads touched and their breath mingled. His heart was so full and light he thought he might float away.

His hips slid forward another inch and it was like nothing he’d ever felt before. It was tight and hot and slick, fluttering and grasping, and it was Thor, and Loki was inside of him. His whole body felt shaky to his core. Thor wanted him here. Wanted to be the center of Loki’s need. To have Loki be the center of his. This was how it was supposed to be. They were the only two people in the world, in the universe, and the world and the universe were both theirs.

They began moving together, an easy gentle slide. Thor held him. Wrapped arms and legs around him both. Never let him go even for an instant. Urged him on with breathless encouragements, promising that he wouldn’t break no matter how hard Loki took him. Loki couldn’t quite believe it, held himself back at first, but he found himself growing more and more desperate as the heat in his belly flared hotter. Like he was gathering charge for some kind of explosion. Thor was making the most devastating noises under him, each little huff and moan and gasp a revelation. Loki needed more, and more, and more.

Moving on instinct, Loki raised up to his knees and grabbed onto Thor’s hips and began slamming into him, his hair falling messily around his face. Thor was right, he didn’t break. Instead, he groaned happily, his legs falling open around Loki’s hips, and then Thor took hold of his own thighs just under his knees and held them up. His head was thrown back, his chest heaving, cock bouncing, every inch of him glistening in sweat. Loki raked his nails down Thor’s chest and left ten angry red trails. He was wild, an electric storm waiting to happen, dizzy with the intensity of everything that had come to pass tonight.

“You’re mine,” Loki growled, thrusting into Thor, hard. “No one else’s. You’ll never come here again. You’ll never let anyone else take you like this.”

“No—no one else—gods—brother—”

“Mine,” Loki said, his voice breaking. Not growling anymore. Pleading. “Mine.”

“Yours,” Thor gasped. And then, begging, “Touch me.”

Loki grabbed hold of Thor’s cock and Thor whimpered, a sound that Loki had never heard from him before and one that he wanted to hear over and over. Every day. Maybe he could...the thought was absolutely intoxicating. Thor was struggling beneath him, trying to buck into his fist at the same time he was trying to drive himself onto Loki’s cock, and Loki had never felt more powerful in his life.

When Thor came, he cried out, his whole body going rigid, his hands flying up to fist in his own hair. His cock spurted in arcing ribbons, all up over his chest to drip down his ribs. The look on his face twisted Loki’s heart; ruined, red and sweaty, his mouth open and his eyes squeezed shut, utterly open and vulnerable. He was undone, and it had been at Loki’s hand. It wrecked Loki completely.

The storm that had been building inside of him finally unleashed and he fell forward over his brother’s chest, heedless of the mess, shaking and moaning as a blinding white-hot pleasure overtook him and he spilled deep inside Thor’s body. He’d never come so hard before, never let himself go like that...never found such pleasure anywhere as he just had between his brother’s thighs...and wasn’t that what Thor had said that had started this whole thing? “I would have you as I always do. Between my thighs, giving me everything I always dreamed of.”

It turned out to be everything that Loki had always dreamed of as well. Suddenly he knew, intimately, why people fought and bled and killed for the sake of this. He would never be the same. He was changed, now, irrevocably.

Thor’s arms were tight around him and Loki let himself just lay on top of him for a moment, boneless, certain that Thor could take his weight. The past hour or two had been such an emotional whirlwind that Loki found himself emotionally spent as well as physically. Speaking any more or even moving even a finger seemed impossible.

And yet...they were in a brothel. They couldn’t stay.

“We should—” Thor started.

“I know,” Loki sighed. “Just give me another minute.”

“I would give you a week if I could,” Thor said, kissing the top of Loki’s head, “but unfortunately I can’t.”

“Thor—” Loki closed his eyes and let himself just enjoy Thor playing with his hair for a moment. The feeling of their slick bellies pressed together. “Is this—I mean—what do we do now? Are we—?”

“Do you mean do I want to do this again?”

Loki nodded against his chest.

“Mmm. I think a better question might be, how are you ever going to get me to stop? I fear you may have unleashed a monster, brother.”

Loki laughed, and sniffled, and pressed tighter against him.

“Do you...you do want to, right?” There was a note of uncertainty in Thor’s voice.

Loki nodded against his chest again and burrowed his face in this time. “Yes,” he whispered.

They broke apart finally, and Loki vanished their mess. Thor held up his ripped shirt with a resigned sigh. Loki fixed it for him, then dressed himself again with magic as well. Loki didn’t know where to look, what to do with his face. There was nothing in his experience to draw on for how one should act when one had just fucked one’s brother. A tiny thread of tension coiled around his heart. Happily, a distraction offered itself.

“Oh!” Loki said. “I almost forgot. I left your friend snoozing in the other room. Maybe we should put him in the bed…”

It was still bizarre to see himself sleeping on the floor. Loki was used to looking at his own doubles, but Halvar’s illusion wasn’t anywhere near as perfect. His nose was just a touch wrong, and something about the set of his mouth, and forget about the freckles entirely; they were in all the wrong places. Thor regarded the man for a moment, then shook his head and hefted him over one shoulder and brought him into the other room to drop him on the bed.

“I still can’t believe you did this,” Thor said. “Following me all the way here and taking his place.”

Loki shrugged slightly self-consciously. “Well I still can’t believe you did this,” he countered. “Paying for someone who looks like me to…”

Thor cut him off, laughing. “Alright, alright. We’re both a bit touched in the head.”

Loki found the corner of his mouth going up. “I fear you may be right.”

The slight tension that Loki had been feeling melted away. They were fine. They were better than fine. They were both crazy, and in this together. Thor stepped into his embrace and kissed him again, long and melting, until Loki was clutching at his arms to hold himself up.

“I’ll have to go invisible to sneak out again,” Loki said. “I’ll be right there with you, though.”

“Will you follow me all the way home?” Thor asked. “To my chambers?”

“Do you want me to?”

Thor smiled. “Yes.”

Loki smiled too, and shimmered invisible.

His voice floated into the space between them.

“Then lead the way, brother mine.”