Thor was doubtful at first, but he had by now exhausted all his own devices. Beating Loki had not sufficed; neither had remonstrating with him upon his folly, nor pleading: Loki sullenly bore the first, laughed at the second, spurned the last. Thor's desperation was growing: it seemed to him Loki steeped himself ever further in bitterness and rage, and his attacks grew more frequent. And so it was at last he yielded to Natasha's encouragement, and sought the aid of the Avengers therapist.
The woman to whom Natasha presented him seemed ordinary enough, too young to be a proper crone, and her questions did not inspire Thor to great confidence at first. She did not seem to understand why Loki should have been distressed to learn himself a frost giant. "But I have assured him that I love him nevertheless," Thor said earnestly, "despite the evil of his nature," at which she only stared at him in silence for several minutes.
Thor had almost decided to go, when she demanded what evidence Thor had, of frost giants being all of them evil, and Thor was astonished to discover he had none, properly. He could not even recall his father having told him so, despite all his tales of the wars. "But then why should Loki have gone so mad and wicked?" he asked plaintively. He saw no other reason, though unable to quarrel with her point that Loki would have gone mad at a younger age if it had been merely a matter of blood.
She then offered him a lengthy explanation which Thor followed not at all, of Loki's confusion and something internalized and a thing called a psychotic having broken within him: perhaps this last was some Midgardian name for the smaller bone of the lower leg, which Loki had cracked upon a metal strut during their last battle.
Thor knew not how to make much sense of it. All his life, when faced with such circumstances, he had sought Loki and made him listen in his stead and either explain or, more oft than not, assure him he did not need to know, so long as Loki did.
Nevertheless, he said politely, "I thank you," as he was persuaded of her wisdom, though beyond his own ken. "But how may I save him?"
She appalled him then by suggesting that Loki could only be saved by himself, when plainly Loki was in no condition to do so. She heard his protests out and gently said that Thor could only try to restrain Loki from acts of harm to himself and others, and assure Loki meanwhile of his love.
"How am I to do so?" Thor said, seizing upon the one opening which offered him a chance of some action. "I have already told him —"
"I wouldn't really recommend having that conversation again," the therapist said. "I'd suggest you stick to physical demonstrations of affection, to be honest."
"What?" Thor said.
"Give him hugs," the therapist said. "When he'll stand still for them."
Thor wandered out stunned by the idea: it would never have occurred to him. It was all the more valuable for that, and he eagerly attempted to put it into practice the next opportunity which offered. Loki of course did not stand still for the hug, but that difficulty, Thor knew how to address.
"What are you doing?" Loki demanded, after Thor had managed with much effort to pinion his arms to his sides and envelop him in his arms.
"I am hugging you," Thor explained. "That you may know I love you, despite your madness."
Loki—he was craning his head back from the embrace—stared at him. "Oh, I see," Loki said.
"You do?" Thor said in rising hope. He had not dared to believe this might work so swiftly.
"Yes," Loki said, then stabbed a blade of ice deep into Thor's belly. "I see you are a fool," he hissed, as Thor slid to his knees groaning, "who has forgotten I am not your brother."
And so he fled the field.
The therapist sighed when Thor had described to her the failure of the scheme, and said he could not hope for some immediate or swift result: long patience might be required. "Also, nonconsensual hugging is not a good idea," she added, but as Thor could not envision Loki hugging him willingly, he did not pay that much mind, but merely steeled himself for a long effort and also acquired a breastplate which more thoroughly protected his vitals.
The hugging seemed at first rather to infuriate and madden Loki to new heights; it drew also the condemnation of some of his allies. "Thor, no offense," Tony Stark said, "but the love-in is just not working for me. Something about how Loki keeps managing to escape while you're busy hugging him instead of putting him in chains? Also our PR firm is going to quit over having to explain why one of us keeps snuggling the bad guy in public."
Thor persevered, however, until on the sixth occasion Loki's eyes glittered savagely and he hissed, "If you so badly require more evidence we are not kin, I will give it to you," then closed the distance between them and kissed him upon the mouth.
Thor, startled, released him; Loki laughed wildly and vanished. "No!" Thor roared, and flung Mjolnir down in frustration: he had begun to mark his success by the length of time he managed to keep Loki in his arms. He stormed back to the tower, vowing that next time he would not be so easily taken in.
His friends exchanged looks. "Uh," Barton said, "Thor, do you really want to start playing gay chicken with Loki? I don't think that's really the best idea."
Thor made Stark and Barton explain to him the nature of this competition, so he was well prepared the next time, when Loki indeed proceeded from kissing to squirming his hand between Thor's legs and stroking him. Thor blushed fiercely: Loki's fingers were long and deft, and he could not help rousing in a most unbrotherly fashion, but he held fast. "I will not be the first to cry 'chicken,'" he told Loki firmly, "nor will I give over hugging you, brother."
Much to his joy, Loki for the first time did not erupt in rage. He looked at Thor most oddly, and then in something more like his old way, when if they lay about too long idle, Loki would raise his head and propose some mad and delightful scheme which inevitably ended in both glory and disaster, said, "Really? Just how far will you go, then?"
Loki then gave over at once all resistance: he threw himself wholehearted into Thor's embrace and sought his mouth passionately. Loki's hands cleverly sought out soft places between his armor joints, his knee pressed firmly between Thor's legs and rocked against him, and all the while Loki kissed him, lips wandering over Thor's throat and ears, and there he murmured, "Will you let me have you?"
"Loki!" Thor said, shocked. It had never occurred to him that he might be had, by anyone; he was the foremost warrior of Asgard, and its prince. But—and now it struck him with force nearly like a blow—Loki was his equal in rank, and—and he had proven himself a worthy adversary in battle. Would Loki indeed have a claim, if they shared a bed, to take the man's part?
As Thor reeled with this sudden overturning of the world, Loki abruptly squirmed himself free and paused, panting. "Don't lay hands on me again unless you will," he hissed, and disappeared.
Thor wandered back to the tower with his head a-whirl and consulted the therapist again. She did not immediately understand Thor's confusion: she had observed the footage of the battle and seemed to think him distressed by Loki's attempts to pleasure him.
"No, no," Thor said. "I had rather he stroke me than stab me; I have no perverse tastes. But he has asked to have me, and I am not sure: can I allow it, honorably?"
She remained confused, and began to tell him with great urgency that he could not rescue Loki by submitting himself to rape. "He cannot, I am the stronger," Thor said impatiently, "else I would not need to consider whether it might be honorable to yield or not. But strength is not the only measure of a warrior's worth: Loki has many other gifts, and of late he has stood in opposition to me with some success. Never has he won an outright victory, yet to counterbalance this, I have had staunch allies of great strength beside me in our struggles, without whom perhaps he might have prevailed."
"Thor," the therapist said, "even if he had defeated you, that wouldn't make a difference."
"No?" Thor said, perplexed.
"No," she said. "You do not need to let Loki have sex with you. Under any circumstances and in any position. Whether he wants to penetrate you or not. Whether he is your equal has nothing to do with it."
But of course it did: she yet did not understand. "I have given over thinking of such things," Thor tried again to explain. "Since I became a man and took up Mjolnir, no warrior has been able to stand against me in battle, of all Asgard. To yield to another would have been false and dishonorable: what man could I allow to take me, when all would know it was weakness on my part, and not strength on his?"
The therapist was rubbing her face. "Okay," she said, muttered to herself, "remember: alien culture. Thor, are you saying you want to have sex with Loki? Where he's on top?"
Thor had with a great effort barred the image from his mind, but her sharp and forthright question brought it forth—lying beneath Loki, speared upon his cock, surrendered and mastered—he swallowed with difficulty, and felt hot color flood his cheeks. "But I do not want to dishonor myself," he said.
"I—I'm sorry, Thor," the therapist said. "I don't know if I can help you with this. In our culture, we don't consider it dishonorable to take the penetrative position in sex."
"That is not true," Thor said, frowning. "Many a time have I heard Tony Stark declare he has made another his bitch, when he has gained victory over them."
"That's—" The therapist pressed her lips together. "He's not the best model," she said after a moment. "As a society we're trying to grow beyond that."
"I wish you fortune in that endeavor," Thor said kindly, "but that is no answer to my difficulty."
As she could not aid him, he consulted his friends, but their answers gave him little clarity at first. "Are you kidding me?" Tony Stark said, "Loki is never going to beat you in a million years, buddy."
Thor was disheartened to hear him speak with so much assurance, but Natasha said, "He's been close enough five times we've mostly won through luck."
"No such thing as luck," Tony said. "There's only our natural brilliance and massive skills."
She cast her eyes to the heavens, a common gesture in Stark's vicinity. "You're right," she said to Thor. "We do need a disaster scenario plan in case of a victory on his part. I'll talk to Fury."
"Paranoid," Tony Stark sang out.
Clint Barton took Stark's part; Captain Rogers expressed support for Natasha's plan, but professed himself likewise certain that Loki could never prevail. Dr. Banner was silent a long time, and then said softly, "I'm sorry, guys. I'm pretty sure he'll win sooner or later." The others regarded him with dismay, and he shrugged. "We haven't managed to keep him locked up, even on Asgard," he said. "We keep letting him roll the dice, sooner or later he'll throw us snake eyes."
"Then we call a re-roll," Tony said. "End of story."
They were evenly divided, therefore, and Thor brooded upon the matter until that evening, when Director Fury called upon him and drew him to the roof for private conversation. "Agent Romanoff told me about your concerns," he said, walking to the edge and gazing out upon the city, his coat flapping in the wind; his face was grave. "I wanted you to know that we share them, and we've already got precautions in place."
"What do you mean?" Thor said.
"SHIELD maintains defensive strategies against a handful of key criminals like Loki," Fury said. "The worst of the worst, the most dangerous. Whenever they come active, we engage secondary strategies in case the front line fails. In the case of Loki, you and the Avengers are the front line. We've got arrangements in place that we hope would work to activate either the Fantastic Four or the X-Men if necessary, if you fall."
"How do you rank my brother against these other villains?" Thor asked anxiously, focusing upon the most useful part of Fury's explanation.
Fury snorted. "He's top-tier. It's pretty much him, Dr. Doom, and Magneto. They're the ones we track that can take out an entire team."
That seemed promising. "But are you certain that Loki could do such a thing?" Thor said. "Or do you merely take sensible measures, should he by some mischance gain an unfair advantage?"
Fury looked at him. "The X-Men accidentally stumbled over him in South America last year: they got wind of some magic he was doing and thought it was a mutant manifesting out of control. He wiped the floor with them and took off." He shrugged. "To be fair, they weren't expecting him, but we usually aren't."
Thor gazed at him in astonishment. "Why did you not tell me of this before?" he demanded. "This changes all: the X-Men have defeated us."
"What?" Fury said. "When did you have a fight, and why didn't I know about it?"
"Three months agone," Thor said. "You were there yourself: you hurled the first ball!"
Fury frowned. "Are you talking about the charity softball game?"
"Yes!" Thor said. "They defeated us soundly."
"Uh," Fury said, "I don't know that I'd consider that a defeat on the same scale. Also you would've scored a few more runs if you'd run around the bases instead of jumping into the bleachers with the fans each time you came up to bat."
Thor waved that away: he could scarcely have been so churlish as to refuse the beers they had offered him, when he had already knocked the ball out of the field. "What are trials of skill for, but that warriors may measure their skills against one another without blood feud and maiming?" he said. "Of course, upon different ground and in different circumstances, we might well be the victors, but so is true of any such contest. The fact remains: they are proven equals to us in battle. If Loki has defeated them, none can deny so too might he be victorious over us—and therefore over me."
"Thor, I'm telling you, we're not going to let that happen," Fury said. "Even if he takes you all down, there's going to be a second wave."
"Yes, but that does not matter," Thor said. He clapped Fury on the shoulder. "I thank you, Director: you have been of great assistance to me."
Two weeks later Loki resurfaced: two weeks of torment and restless nights. Thor flung himself from the tower at once, before the others e'en knew of Loki's return, and flew directly to the citadel where Loki had reappeared, a ruin standing empty on the island of Roosevelt. Thor could scarce keep his hands from trembling when finally he seized on Loki again, who whirled upon him and snarled, "What did I tell you?"
"Yes!" Thor said, urgently.
Loki paused, frowning. "Yes, what?" he said.
"Yes," Thor said. "I will let you have me."
Loki gawked at him. "You're my brother!" he said.
About to remonstrate with him—why ought that matter now, when it had not the last two occasions?—Thor halted with shocked, uncertain joy as he realized what Loki had said. Loki had not called him so, in all the years since his fall. "You acknowledge it again!" he cried, gripping Loki's shoulders tightly.
Loki was taken aback a moment, and then his eyes were alight with rage. "I do not! I do not, you wretch; is that what this is all about?" He struck Thor a powerful blow across the jaw, enough to ring in his ears, and while Thor shook off the impact Loki shoved him back and spoke a word of magic.
Strange vines burst from the ground, hurling themselves around Thor's limbs, wrists and ankles, and flung him to the ground atop a heap of shattered brick. Thor struggled, startled, and was unable to break them at once; and then Loki was standing over him. His hands were blazing with fire that shone reflected in his eyes, a savage look upon his face, and he bent down and seized Thor's armor and tore it from his body.
"Or did you think you'd have some fun at my expense?" Loki said. "Perfect Thor, noble Thor, spreading his legs, and see if I fell for it?" Thor nearly had wrenched free his arm when Loki lashed him with fire across the face, blinding, and when he blinked his sight clear, fresh vines had wrapped him tightly once again. Mjolnir in his hand could do nothing: even as he tried to flip the hammer forward at his wrist, loops of vine climbed over his fist and pinned it as well, and covered Mjolnir itself.
Loki laughed, a wild mad sound, while Thor strove to tear himself loose. The bricks beneath him crunched and broke, but the vines shifted with them, growing more taut as quickly as he loosened them. "Or was the offer true, and meant for pity?" Loki hissed. "Give in to my vile, twisted desires, and see if that would make me docile again?"
"What?" Thor said, baffled, pausing in his struggle.
"Well, I don't need your permission," Loki said. "If I want you, I can take you," and Loki was kneeling between his thighs as the vines wrenched them wide, and Thor stared at him and realized—realized that Loki was right, Loki had conquered him and had him at his mercy—"Give me one reason I shouldn't, one reason—"
Loki stopped as he tore away the last garments, staring down at Thor's cock leaping urgent and swollen.
"There is none!" Thor said. Loki's hand was frozen mid-air, scarce inches away; Thor groaned and tried desperately to arch near enough to reach his touch.
"You want this," Loki said, after a moment. "You want this?"
"Yes," Thor said. "Loki, please—" He strove again and failed again to reach him, and then, oh then, Loki was upon him at last, frantic as Thor himself felt: Loki heaved up Thor's legs and pressed his cock within, a single long steady thrust which claimed him all at once and at last; at last he was taken, he was claimed.
There was no hesitation: Loki no sooner took possession than he began wildly to fuck him, so hard the bricks crumbled away beneath them on every stroke. Thor moaned and let his head fall back in glorious surrender: his limbs still bound apart, his whole body open and yielding to every thorough, splendid thrust. "Loki," he cried, shuddering and desperate, trying to hold back the rising tide of his pleasure: he did not wish for the moment to end, not so soon. He had burned for this, and yet even in his wildest fantasies had not dreamt of this, of being so wholly subjugated. "Loki!"
His climax took him, a shuddering wave, and his cock spurted between them, long bursts splattering Loki's armor, which he had not removed. Thor collapsed gasping against the bricks, strength gone in a rush from all his limbs.
Loki was yet buried deep within him, holding in place, touching his fingers, shaking, to the wet stains. "You—you truly do," he said, "you truly want— " Abruptly he fucked in again, hard, and Thor whimpered in helpless pleasure; his spent cock jerked against his belly. Perhaps Loki would continue until he roused again? He tried despite the delicious languour stealing over him to move at least a little against Loki's cock.
"But -- but, you—" Loki did start fucking him again. "Oh—oh, you—bastard," Loki said, working upon him, his breath coming ever more swiftly, in gasps. "You've never—you haven't had a man in a thousand years, what—oh God you want to be taken, don't you? You want—and you never let—you've never let—anyone else—"
"No," Thor said, dizzy. The vines were weakening around him, going thin and brittle, and he at last broke his arms free and caught at Loki's shoulders above him. "Who else might I let—"
"No one but me," Loki said. "You let me."
He made a low strangled noise and shoved Thor's legs further up, that he might bend deep and kiss him, hungrily. His thrusts were coming quicker, irregular, and Thor was rising swiftly to meet the challenge, growing hard again. "You're mine," Loki said, panting, between urgent kisses. "Mine—mine—"
Thor nearly wept with joy. Loki slammed within him to the hilt and came, his cock pulsing deep, and he seized Thor's cock in his hand and pulled twice: enough to bring Thor over again with him.
Loki crumpled into his arms afterwards, and Thor after a moment with tremulous hope cautiously put his arms around him. He could not see Loki's face: it was hidden against his shoulder. "Loki," he said softly, letting his hand rest upon Loki's head, and when that drew no immediate protest, he even dared to stroke. Loki did not wrench away from him. Loki was shivering in his arms; Thor tightened his embrace.
"Swear to me," Loki said at last, a harsh whisper against his skin. "Swear to me, Thor, or I will—I will—"
"Hush, enough," Thor said firmly, and brought Loki's hand, which had clenched into a claw upon his chest, to his lips. "I do swear, brother: I am yours." The heaving of Loki's breath stilled, after a little while. Loki gradually went quiescent against him. Thor kept stroking Loki's head and back, his own heart quietly full.
Thor went to give the therapist his gratitude, the next morning, and offered to her a jeweled necklace, the which Stark's lady had assured him was a suitably princely gift, though the auction house had been satisfied with only the handful of Asgardian coin Thor had in his purse.
The therapist received it with pleasure but confusion. "Through your advice my brother is restored to me," Thor explained.
"Restored?" she asked, distractedly, as she gazed upon the chain of emeralds and diamonds.
"Yes," Thor said. "I ought not have been concerned, for in the end he proved he could overcome me by main force, if he wished." The therapist stared at him with an expression of distress, strangely. "And he has agreed to remain with me and do no more evil, so long as I lie with him and him alone," Thor added, hoping to remove her doubts.
The therapist looked at the necklace, then looked at him. "Are you happy?" she asked.
Thor beamed at her. "Beyond all my dearest hopes."
"Then I'm keeping this," the therapist said, and under her breath muttered, "to pay for my therapy." Then she paused, frowning. "When you say remain with you—"
"He is in my chambers," Thor said happily. He had left Loki drowsy and satiated in his bed, and his own thighs yet ached pleasantly: this time he had ridden Loki astride. "You will pardon me," he added, "I think he will wake soon, and I wish to present him to my friends, now as their ally and no longer their foe."
He bowed to her and strode from the room, eagerly, while behind him she spoke into her telephone, "Julie? Pencil in the entire team for this afternoon. And leave a slot for Director Fury if he wants it, too."