circ_bamboo: (kirk_saltshaker)
[personal profile] circ_bamboo
Title: Hardest of Hearts (also on AO3)
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Pairing/Characters: Bruce Banner/Loki; they're the only ones who show up
Summary: This is, yes, the Bruce and Loki Canadian Shack-Snowstorm-Oh No There's Only One Bed story you never knew you needed in your life.
Rating: NC-17/Explicit
Word Count: 13,600 total
Content notes/warnings: Nothing I can think of but please comment if I'm mistaken.
Author's notes: Written for [ profile] jou. Thanks to [ profile] feels_like_fire for beta work and also encouragement, and the title, which is from a Florence + the Machine song. Also, the book summarized in there somewhere is Vision in White by Nora Roberts.

Back to Part 1

He woke up alone again the next morning, which was just fine with him, because he was wrapped around a pillow again and he strongly suspected he'd spent some percent of the night wrapped around Loki instead.

Well, not entirely alone, as he could hear Loki in the kitchenette, and a moment or two later, he could smell tea and toasted bread.

"Good morning, Bruce," Loki said, sounding cheerful. Bruce lifted his head an inch or two and saw that indeed, he did look cheerful, to boot. "Would you like breakfast?"

Well, yes, and no: it was early, and the bed was warm and he didn't really want to move, but food. Food he didn't have to prepare himself. "Sure," he said, and swung his legs to the floor.

He rounded the end of the bed and took the plate and mug that Loki held out, and was heading for the table when Loki said, "May I join you?"

"Of course." The words were out of his mouth before he could think, or more accurately, before he remembered yesterday, but strangely, he didn't want to take them back. Instead, he set the dishes down, pulled out both chairs, and gestured to the one closer to the fire.

Which, apparently, Loki had stoked, as it wasn't freezing cold in the cabin. He'd also swept the floor at some point; the wooden slats didn't have the faint layer of grime that came from impurities in the melted snow. The rugs looked cleaner, too, but that wasn’t possible; there was no vacuum cleaner and Loki obviously hadn’t taken the rugs outside to beat them.

He’d cooked; he’d cleaned; he’d built up the fire—and Bruce was waffling over whether to let him sit at the table with him or not. Damn, Banner, you’re an asshole.

And not just that morning, either—looking back, he realized that in trying not to ask any questions that Loki didn’t want to answer, he’d crossed the line into rudeness there, too. He hadn’t asked any questions at all, and had stifled all but necessary attempts at conversation. Until last night with the physics, but even there, he’d tried to nip that discussion in the bud. It wasn’t as if M-theory was exactly a contentious topic, anyway; at least, not in the current context. Definitely an asshole.

He could fix this, though. “Thank you,” he said.

Loki raised both eyebrows at him.

“For breakfast. And for taking care of the fire, and for cleaning, since I guess you did some of that, too.” He sighed. This was difficult; then again, human interaction always was, for him. “And everything else you’ve done that I didn’t notice.”

“Invading your solitude and propositioning you multiple times?” Loki asked, only one eyebrow raised now.

“Well, not that,” Bruce said. “But, you know, it occurred to me that I’d passed the line from ‘taciturn’ into ‘surly jerk,’ so.”

“So,” Loki echoed. “Your apology is accepted, and you’re welcome.”

Bruce nodded, and took a sip of his tea.

That having been accomplished, he still wasn’t entirely sure of the next step. He couldn’t think of a single thing to say to start a conversation that wasn’t inane or likely to garner him only a one-word answer. The food was simple and self-evident, and the weather was exactly as it had been for the last day and a half. So he didn’t say anything, which didn’t appear to surprise Loki.

He finished his English muffin and tea in what felt to him like a more companionable silence than before, but he couldn’t say how Loki felt. Collecting his own plate and mug, he held his hands out for Loki to stack his dishes on top, and Loki gave him a quick, artless smile in exchange.

Afterward he fled to the bathroom, remembering his clothes this time, at least, and took a quick shower. As he dressed, it occurred to him that he hadn’t actually seen Loki take a shower, and while the man was, obviously, doing things while Bruce slept, he hadn’t seen any wet towels, either, and his soap and shampoo were always exactly where he’d left them.

So maybe he should have pointed out that Loki was welcome to use the shower a day and a half ago, yeah, but how did one do that without making it sound like the other person smelled or looked gross? Loki didn’t look or smell gross; his hair was essentially identical to the first time Bruce had seen him, and he still smelled faintly of whatever cologne he’d been wearing.

Still. Showers were showers, and they were good for sore muscles even if not needed for cleanliness.

He left the bathroom, and Loki was on the bed again with another new book, this one by Nora Roberts. “The water pressure is surprisingly good,” Bruce said, “and the hot water lasts for a good ten or fifteen minutes, if you wanted to take a shower.”

Loki looked up over the edge of the pages. “Are you suggesting I might need one?”

Bruce was definitely glad he’d thought of a response for that. “Whether you do or not, hot water feels good.” He gestured. “You know where it is.”

“I do,” Loki said. “Thank you. I might, later. In the meantime, I am enjoying this story too much to stop now. Unless there was something you needed me for?" His tone rode the line between innocence and innuendo so skillfully that Bruce almost didn't realize that the words could have been read multiple ways. It was impressive.

Still, he responded to the literal meaning. "Nope."

He went over to look out the window, and it had either stopped snowing or was in the middle of a brief break. There were snowdrifts as far as he could see, and he really should go out and shovel some, but honestly, he didn't want to. Maybe after lunch. He sat down at the table with his laptop, one foot tucked under him, and tried to connect to the satellite internet.

Some hours later, Loki closed the book with a pleased sigh, and said, "That was very satisfying."

"It's a romance novel," Bruce said, looking up from his laptop screen. He'd gotten about twenty minutes of connection to the satellite internet before it had crapped out again, which was enough time for him to download a fair number of new articles from a couple of college websites. "They're supposed to be."

"I have never read a romance novel before," Loki said. "Also, I believe it is the first of four?" He flipped over the book and looked at the cover. "Yes. Perhaps the others are on the shelves as well."

"Mm," Bruce said noncommittally. He hadn't been particularly impressed with the random book selection, but maybe. If not, Loki could certainly find Nora Roberts books almost anywhere.

And then he remembered his resolution not to be an asshole. "Er. What was the book about?"

Loki raised an eyebrow. "Four women who run an all-in-one wedding business. Do you actually care, or are you trying to start a conversation?"

"Is it a problem if it's the latter?"

Loki chuckled. "No. But I'm certain you can find a better question to ask."

"All right," Bruce said. "Um. Seen any good movies recently?"

Loki shook his head. "Try again," he said.

Well, okay. Time to try something even more basic. "Where are you from?"

Loki outright grinned at that, somehow both joyous and sharp. "Asgard, or perhaps Jotunheim, depending on how you consider the matter."

"I don't know where those are." If the internet had been working, he'd have googled them; they sounded Norwegian or maybe Icelandic, and geography wasn't his finest subject. "Iceland?"

"No," Loki said, and he sounded amused. "Your world is Midgard. The world of the Aesir is Asgard. The world of the Jotuns is Jotunheim. I am Jotun by heritage and Aesir by upbringing."

Bruce blinked. "Wait, what?" Because it sounded as if Loki had said something, well, absurd. Impossible.

"Your world--this one--is Midgard," Loki repeated patiently. "There are other worlds--nine of them in total--and I am from a different one. Two, possibly."

"Okay." Apparently he was stuck in a Canadian cabin with a man suffering from delusions, which, well. It was nice that he didn't know that until the third day.

"I can tell you don't believe me," Loki said, and got off the bed, walking over to Bruce. As he did, his skin--turned blue? With odd markings, and small protrusions near his hairline.

Wait. Who was suffering from delusions now? Bruce took off his glasses--he'd been looking over the top of them anyway--and rubbed his eyes.

"You aren't seeing things, Bruce," Loki said. "Well, if you want to be precise, you are seeing things, but they are true things."

"You turn blue?"

"Not as you turn green," Loki said, and now he was close enough that Bruce could reach out and touch him if he wanted to.

He did, he really did, really wanted to see if the blue skin felt like human skin--not that he really knew what Loki's skin felt like anyway--wanted to trace his fingers over the markings, which looked like scars this close up. But he didn't, because Loki hadn't told him he could. So. Blue.

There were really three possible explantions for this. Well, four. Bruce still hadn't ruled out hallucinating himself. He surreptitiously reached down and pinched his leg. He couldn't really feel it through his lined jeans, so he pinched his wrist--ow. Well, not asleep, at least. It could be a really good hallucination. (He'd tried drugs before that made him hallucinate--it was an experiment, damnit--and it hadn't felt like this, not at all, but still.)

"Mutant?" he asked. He knew of a genetics researcher in upstate New York who was blue. Blue and furry, but still, blue.

"What is a mutant?" Loki asked.

"Someone with the X-gene," Bruce said, "or--well, it gets complicated. But a human, essentially, with extra abilities."

Loki shook his head. "I am not human, no."

"Were you born like this?" Bruce asked after a moment, because he'd realized that did someone do this to you? was sort of a rude question. Besides, he'd turned himself into a monster; who was he to deny anyone else's agency?

"Yes," Loki said.

All right. Probably not the result of some sort of scientific tampering, unless it was before he was born, and he'd heard horrible things about--"Are your parents like this?"

"My biological family, yes, they have blue skin and horns."

Ah, yes, Bruce hadn't recognized the horns for what they were until Loki pointed them out, but there they were.

So yes, probably not the result of science. Which left--science that hadn't been explained yet. He wasn't willing to call it 'magic,' even though lord knew that by the standard laws of science, he should have given everyone on the planet cancer by now. "So these nine worlds--"

"Asgard, Jotunheim, Midgard, Svartalfheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Muspelheim, Nidavellir, Niffleheim," Loki recited, in roughly the same voice that Bruce would have used to say, my very educated mother just served us nine pizzas. (Or, well, noodles now that Pluto wasn't a planet. But he digressed.)

"They're--" Bruce waved a hand generally in the direction of the ceiling. "Out there somewhere."

Loki nodded.

"So how did you get from there to here?"

"Normally by the Bifrost, which is a bridge, but most recently, I was--er--thrown." Loki looked uncomfortable. "Or I fell. Nonetheless, there was nothing, and then I was on Midgard."

"Can you go--home?"

Loki shook his head. "The Bifrost is closed to me now."

"Oh," Bruce said. So Loki was stuck here. "So what are you doing here? I mean," he said, "in my cabin specifically, not on earth--Midgard--generally. I don't believe that you just randomly ended up here before a snowstorm."

"And why should you," Loki said, "for it would be incredibly convenient. No, I heard of you from a colleague of yours, Erik Selvig, and I wanted to see for myself."

"You want to see me turn into the Other Guy?" Bruce asked, and he felt a little distant inside his own head.

"No," Loki said. "Of that, I have no need. I was, I will say, evaluating your usefulness as an ally."

"An ally? For what?"

Loki stared at him impassively. "Revenge."

"Against whoever threw you?"

"Among others."

"Ah." Bruce understood revenge, although it was yet another thing he'd had to set aside when he'd fled for Canada. "I can't help you with that."

"I know," Loki said.

Bruce frowned. "You know?"

"I see things," Loki said. "I cannot create illusions without seeing to the heart of the matter first."

"Oh," Bruce said, although that didn't make any real sense.

"I was content at the idea of having your other self for an ally until I realized it would cost me this self as a--" Loki closed his mouth with an audible click.

"As a what?" Bruce asked, although he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know what the end of that sentence was. Also, it was slowly sinking in that Loki had trapped himself in a cabin with him with, essentially, the intention of testing his control to see if he was good to use as a weapon, and that was . . . not good. Not good at all. He stood, to move more than a couple feet away from Loki, and said, "Don't answer that. I don't need to hear the answer right now."

"Why not?"

Bruce turned to give him a hard look, and Loki swallowed and took a step back. "What do you need from me?" he asked, tone even.

"Silence," Bruce said. He had more control than this, he really did. He went to the kitchen sink and ran the water until it was hot, and then washed his hands for a few minutes. Grabbing a yoga mat and a blanket, he set them down near the fire and added a log before replacing the screen.

He spread out the mat and rolled up the blanket, sitting on it, facing the fireplace, far enough away that he could feel the warmth on his face and knees but not so much that it would be uncomfortable any time soon. The fire crackled loud enough to cover any incidental noises from the rest of the room, but Bruce was doing his best to pretend that Loki wasn't there.

He'd had a good deal of practice blanking his mind over the last year--over the last six years, for that matter, but it was only in the last few months that he'd actually had a significant amount of success.

He had to be successful today.

Spreading out his fingers, he rubbed his palms on his knees until his hands were warm and tingling. He angled his tongue in his mouth and listened to his breaths hiss through the back of his throat as he did for more serious yoga practice. Counting to five for each inhale and exhale, he concentrated on his breathing until it smoothed out.

He closed his eyes and waited a few more minutes, until he knew he had control, and then he opened them, staring at the flames as they danced for a few more minutes. Only then did he stand and turn to look at Loki, who was sitting very still in the center of the bed, skin still blue. "What do you want from me now?" he asked.

"I don't know," Loki said.

"Okay," Bruce said. He turned and went to the sink, filling a glass with water and draining it before returning to the fire to re-roll his yoga mat and return it and the blanket to their places.

"I would like your friendship," Loki said suddenly, into the silence, and Bruce turned.

"Is that all?"

Loki shook his head.

Bruce sighed. "I'd thought this would be obvious by now, but I can't."

"Can't what?"

"Have sex."

"You can't?" Loki asked, looking surprised. "The parts seemed to work all right."

Bruce felt his face turn hot, but he said, "It is by far more of a risk than I've ever been willing to take. If I transformed during sex, it would be guaranteed death for my partner."

"You've never even tried," Loki breathed.

Bruce shook his head.

"Hm," Loki said, and a speculative look took over his face.

"No," Bruce said.

"But you've only contemplated sexual relations with a human before this, correct?"

Bruce blinked. "Well, obviously."

"Well," Loki said, lips curling up into a smile, "I am not human."

"That . . . doesn't actually make me want to have sex with you," Bruce said, grimacing.

Loki rolled his eyes. "You have seen me nude," he said. "I am made the same as you, in effect, and I am certainly of an intelligence level comparable to yours. I am perhaps alien, but I'm not incompatible."

"That's true," Bruce said, relenting a bit. "I could still kill you."

"You cannot," Loki said. "You forget--your people worshipped me as a god."

"Well, not mine exactly," Bruce said; he didn't think he had any Scandinavian heritage. "But I understand what you're saying." He wasn't willing to concede the point yet. Also, he wasn't sure he believed that Loki was a god, or even an alien, but he wasn't sure he didn't believe him, either.

"I believe the phrase here is, 'try me,'" Loki said.

"What?" Bruce said. "No. I don't . . . intentionally hurt anyone."

"And I am saying that you will not hurt me because you cannot," Loki said. "But that’s not what I meant. I meant that we should try amorous activities, because I apparently believe in your control more than you do."

"You can't mean that," Bruce said, his hands clenching into fists. "You've seen me almost lose it just from--from conversation with you."

"You haven't even come close to losing control," Loki said. "And if you did, I can handle it."

"You can't," Bruce said. "That's what I keep trying to tell you." He wanted to go look in the mirror, to see if his eyes were green, because he thought they probably were, but he couldn't leave. He needed to convince Loki of this, that he was dangerous, and that it just wouldn't work.

"Who are you trying to convince," Loki asked, tilting his head to one side in an uncanny echo of his thoughts, "me, or yourself?"

"You," Bruce said without hesitation. "I can't hurt myself. I can hurt you."

Loki disappeared; winked out of apparent existence. Bruce took a step backwards and looked around him. "Loki?" he said. He took three steps forward and ran his hand over the bed.

"Over here, my dear doctor."

Bruce spun around; Loki was leaning up against the door, arms crossed. "How did you do that?" he asked.

"Magic," Loki said, "or perhaps incredibly advanced science, if you wish. At best, if you lose control, you will lose the cabin, which, I admit, has its charms." He gestured lazily at the cabin. "But nonetheless, I feel I can guarantee my own safety."

"Oh," Bruce said, and then again, "Oh." He paused, let Loki's teleportation or whatever it was sink in, and then said, "So you can--you can escape."

"I can escape in the blink of an eye," Loki said, "and from what I have been given to understand, your transformation isn't as instantaneous as that."

"Oh," Bruce said again, and he was aware that he was repeating himself, but he couldn't think of what else to say. "So you--you could the whole time."

"I am not actually disappearing, merely misdirecting, and it works best via line of sight, but yes, I could have concealed myself from you and left the cabin at any time. And yet, there is still snow and I am woefully underprepared for . . . roughing it." He wrinkled his nose. "So," he said, "should you actually wish to try, I am the safest, ah, lab partner, that you could get."

Bruce smiled faintly at the phrase 'lab partner,' but went over to the table to sit down. "If I--if we do this," he said slowly, "the, ah, the greatest danger would be at climax."

Loki shrugged, an elegant gesture, and came over to lean on the back of the other chair. "You've not even tried to bring yourself to climax?"

"Uh, no." Bruce flicked his gaze up to Loki's and then back to his hands. "In the beginning I had no control and then it . . . stopped being important."

"Ah." Bruce looked up again, and Loki was surprisingly not smirking. "Well, go ahead and try, if that would make you feel more comfortable."

"You think I should--" Bruce refrained from making the obvious crude gesture. He raised an eyebrow at Loki, his mind whirling, but really, he'd already decided. Now he just had to figure out how to make it work.

And actually, Loki's suggestion wasn't a bad one. If he could retain control by himself, he'd definitely feel a lot better about his chances of retaining control with another person, and that would, of course, give him better control overall. "Okay," he said. "But there's one, uh, problem," he said.

Loki raised his eyebrows. "And what is it?"

"I'm not exactly nineteen anymore," Bruce said. "By which I mean, I'm middle-aged, for a human. I assume you're a little older than forty Midgardian years but you look much younger than I do." Get back to the point, Banner. "Anyway, uh, I mean, if I get off now, it might take me a while to get it back up again."

Loki shrugged. "I can wait."

"Even until tomorrow?" His refractory period had been a little better than that--well, a lot better--last time he'd tried but he really had no idea anymore.

Loki shrugged again. "Well, if it is going to take that long, I might request your hands or mouth, or maybe I shall seek my own pleasure, but it still isn't a deterrent."

"That's awfully generous of you," Bruce said, the side of his mouth quirking in a half-smile. What the hell, he thought. Reckless endangerment of property a go. "Okay."

"By which you mean, you will achieve climax on your own, and then I shall join you?"

"Yes," Bruce said. At first, the idea of masturbating with someone else in the cabin, even if it was someone he was planning on later having sex with, sounded a little strange, but the more he thought about it, the hotter it sounded. "Is now a good time for you?" he asked, and his voice sounded a little strangled in his ears.

"Well, I believe it's lunch time, but I'm not particularly hungry. Are you?" Loki had a mildly-inquisitive look on his face, as if he were actually thinking about lunch, and Bruce smiled and shook his head.


He stood up just enough to be able to lean forward and press his lips to Loki's, at least as much a promise as an actual kiss, and oh, was that a good idea, because it was the spark that lit the tinder somewhere deep inside Bruce. He got hard in record time, somewhat uncomfortable in the confines of his jeans, but he'd fix that as soon as he could stop kissing Loki, who tasted sweeter than he expected, with just a hint of the tea he'd been drinking.

Finally Loki stopped the kiss himself, with a hand on Bruce's cheek and a thumb placed gently between their lips. "That was lovely," he said, and smiled without a trace of irony. "I think you and I will get on quite well together. But in order for that to happen, I believe there is something you must do first."

Bruce smiled. "Yeah," he said. "Where, uh, will you be?"

"Where would you like me? Out of your sight?"

He thought about it for a moment and said, "No, I think I'd like you nearby."

Loki's lips curved. "How nearby?"

"Not touching me," he said, "but close. Still on the bed, I guess." He wasn't entirely sure he'd be able to relax enough with Loki right there, but it was worth a try. Having him in the bathroom wouldn't be more relaxing.

"May I speak?" Loki asked.

Bruce looked up at him, eyes wide, and had to swallow twice before he managed to say, "Yeah. Yeah, let's do that."

Thirty seconds later he was undressing, while Loki turned down the bedsheets. He seemed to be hesitating, hands smoothing over the sheets in a strangely nervous gesture, and Bruce said, "Is something wrong?" while he balled his socks together and set them on top of his jeans.

Loki looked over at him, but a little past him. "Would you prefer that I wore my Aesir form?"

It took Bruce a moment to translate that into something he understood, but once he did, he said, "No," immediately, and then backtracked. "Unless you'd like to? I mean. I like blue," he said, realizing it was ridiculous even as he said it, and winced. "Well, that was racist."

"Perhaps," Loki said, and Bruce shook his head a little at the understatement, "but also honest, I suppose. I like blue, as well, but I also like brown." His skin didn't change color, though, and Bruce finished undressing, stripping off his layers of shirts and pants and then sliding between the sheets.

Which were, of course, a little cold against his bare skin, and he shivered for a moment until he warmed up. Loki lay on the bed to his right, still fully dressed, propped up on one elbow, watching Bruce, who felt a little self-conscious until he read the heat in Loki's red eyes properly. "It's too cold to let you watch," he said apologetically.

Loki shook his head. "I am more than satisfied to watch your face," he said.

Oh. "Well, then," Bruce said. He closed his eyes for just a moment and ran his hands down his body in a way that he hadn't in longer than he wanted to think about. He settled his breathing down to a rhythm as best he could, and heard Loki match it, which helped, and also warmed him inside a little. He reached down and cupped his balls, which felt good, and then wrapped his hand around his cock, which felt better.

"What are you thinking about?" came Loki's voice, quietly.

"Nothing?" he said, and then realized that that wasn't particularly flattering or sexy, but damn it, he was hoping Loki would do all the talking because he was kind of bad at it. Dirty talk, that is. "Nothing yet."

"What do you normally think about when you touch yourself?" Loki asked. "Former lovers, nameless fantasies, people you have never met?"

"All of the above," Bruce said. "And, uh. Hopefully potential future lovers, too." He rubbed his thumb just below the head of his cock and opened his eyes to look at Loki.

Who was staring at him with a sort of intensity that made him want to curl in on himself and come at the same time. Bruce's cock jumped in his hand, and he licked his lips, squeezing a little bit.

"You should," Loki said. "You should be thinking about me, about my hands, my mouth, the heat of my body. The touch of my skin. The weight of my cock in your hand, so similar to yours, and yet different."

"Oh, fuck," Bruce said, and his eyes shut again, not entirely of his own volition. He started pumping in earnest, fingers tight around himself.

"You should be asking yourself: do I want him on top of me, riding me so I can see every inch of him? Or below me, on hands and knees, spread for my pleasure."

"Mmf, oh, God," Bruce said, crying out; the images Loki described played behind his eyelids, and he wanted all of them, now, as soon as possible.

It occurred to him that he was losing control, but it wasn't in the least about the Other Guy, and that knowledge settled through him slowly but surely, even as Loki whispered about seductive images, about Bruce's tongue tracing lines on Loki's shoulders and Bruce's fingers sliding slickly inside Loki's body, and other, filthier things that Bruce--ohh--wanted to do right now.

He brought his hand to his mouth quickly and spat into his palm, his saliva providing just enough slip to make it perfect, and now it was all about keeping up the rhythm and digging his heels into the mattress and hearing Loki's voice in his ear and then--and then--

"Oh, fuck."

It had been so long that coming almost hurt; it felt like he shot out his heart and lungs and brain as well as seven years' worth of need and longing and two and change days of intense frustration. He kept stroking himself even through the aftershocks, shaking against the sheets; Loki had helpfully held them up over his groin without Bruce asking, so he thought he'd probably missed messing them up too badly. He sighed in pleasure and reached for the box of tissues on the bedside table.

"May I?" Loki said as Bruce folded the covers down, a little overheated now.

Bruce nodded, even though he wasn't entirely sure what Loki wanted to do, but when Loki leaned down and licked an errant drop of come from his chest, Bruce gasped, and took a moment to give thanks to whoever was listening that he'd managed to test a drop of his own pre-come once, finding out that it was no more toxic than his saliva.

Of course, Loki was a god, or an alien or something, so he could likely survive a bit of gamma radiation, but it wasn't worth taking chances.

"That appeared to work," Loki said, as he finished mopping the mess off of Bruce and threw the dirty tissue onto the nightstand.

Bruce laughed, still a little--a lot--drained. "Yeah," he said. "That definitely worked. It's going to take more than a couple minutes to recharge here."

Loki shrugged. "As I said before, I can wait."

"Do you want to--" Bruce bit his lip, because he wasn't really sure that Loki was the cuddling type.

Loki apparently was able to guess, though, and maybe he was or maybe he was just willing to oblige Bruce at the moment, because he said, "Let me remove my clothing first."

Bruce mustered enough energy to raise his head and watch Loki strip, and yes, the markings formed a pattern everywhere, one Bruce wanted to trace with his fingers and his tongue. But not yet. Maybe when he'd regained some energy and everything wasn't hazy around the edges.

Loki joined him in the bed a moment later, curling up against his side, head on his shoulder, horn carefully not poking into Bruce's neck, and one hand on his chest. "I enjoyed the show," he said a couple minutes later.

"It wasn't much of a show," Bruce said, "but, uh, thanks." He smoothed his hand down Loki's back, feeling the slight ridges under his hands. He followed one line absently with a fingertip before asking, "Is this okay?" Now that he thought about it, he could be falling into all sorts of cultural taboos without knowing it, and he froze.

"Indulge yourself," Loki said, with a warm puff of laughter against his neck.

So Bruce did, finding the patterns on Loki's back with one hand and, when he couldn't reach any farther, on his shoulder and arm with the other, tracing concentric circles and maze-like lines.

Finally Loki sighed in mock exasperation and rolled over on top of Bruce, straddling his waist before sitting up. "Here, so that you may use both hands," he said, catching both Bruce's hands in his and placing them on his ribs, just above his hipbones.

Bruce stared for a moment in wonder and awe, looking at the contrast of his own olive-tan hands against Loki's blue skin, and said, "You're gorgeous."

"Thank you," Loki said. "You are, as well. Now touch me."

Bruce snorted. "Pushy, aren't we."

Loki leaned down until he could place his hands on either side of the mattress by Bruce's head, and said, "You have no idea."

That . . . shouldn't have been as much of a turn-on as it was. Bruce swallowed, and then slid his hands up Loki's sides, rubbing thumbs across his nipples to see if he was sensitive there.

He was, exquisitely so, if the way his body arched under Bruce's hands was anything to judge by, and Bruce circled again and again, just to get that reaction. He'd try his tongue as soon as Loki would let him up, or as soon as he had enough energy to move that far. He followed every single line on Loki's chest and abdomen that he could find, down to the cut of his hips and the sparse black hair at his groin. He avoided Loki's cock, hard and heavy and dark-bluish-purple and, yeah, a little weird, but not off-putting for all that; nonetheless, he wanted to touch Loki a little more before he went there.

There were more lines on Loki's hips and thighs, and Bruce found all of them, or tried to, spreading his fingers to span the narrow width of Loki's quads. "Shall I shift, so you can reach every last inch of me?" Loki said, and there was a hitch in his voice between a couple of the words. Bruce loved it, loved that he'd put it there, and ran his nails lightly just inside the ridge of Loki's hipbones.

"No," Bruce said, realizing he hadn't responded. "I like you right here." He reached for one of Loki's hands, which were resting at his sides, and traced the lines up his hand and arm. "Unless you want to move?"

If he'd just been listening to Loki's words, he might have thought that Loki was humoring him; that it was a burden, or uncomfortable in some way, to have Bruce running his hands over him, but it obviously wasn't. In addition to his erection, unflagging the whole time, his breaths had gotten faster, and his face was still heated, expression intense.

Loki's expression twisted into a wry smile, and he shook his head. "No, I'm quite comfortable right here." He shifted from side to side, and Bruce groaned, because . . . Huh.

"You appear to be rising to the occasion," Loki remarked.

"Apparently," Bruce said. It had been maybe a half hour, which was a little fast for him seven years ago. It may have been his new favorite gift from the Other Guy. He chuckled at the thought, and tugged Loki down to kiss him.

Loki held himself a breath away from Bruce's lips and slid backwards until he was pressed against Bruce full length. Despite the disparity in height they were chest to chest and groin to groin and oh, it had been too long, and the heat was building fast, touching another person skin to skin. Bruce tilted his head up just a mere fraction of an inch and took Loki's mouth again.

He wasn't careful, or studied; he was a little desperate, and he knew it, and he really didn't care. It wasn't as if Loki didn't know that it had been a long time since he'd kissed with intent and had known that something would come of it. His hands roamed up and down Loki's back as he mapped out the inside of Loki's mouth with his tongue and let him return the favor; he pushed his hips into Loki's and groaned in his chest at the feeling.

He reached down and cupped Loki's ass in his hands; there were lines there as well, but there were none on his cock. The scientist part of Bruce's brain noted the difference, catalogued it, and then went back to rest.

"Please tell me that somewhere in this cabin there is something that can be used as lubrication," Loki said against Bruce's lips, and Bruce huffed a quiet laugh.

"Yep," he said. "This cabin is apparently a favorite of a certain, strange kind of honeymooner, so there's some in the nightstand."

"Hm." Loki rolled over, opened the drawer, and said, "Hm," again.

Bruce leaned over and looked in the drawer; inside were several boxes of condoms and four or five different kinds of packets of lube. "Huh," he said. "Pretty good selection." He picked out a plain lubricated condom and a couple packets of lube that would work with it and checked the expiration dates. "And they're still good."

Loki still looked bemused, and it occurred to Bruce that Loki might actually not know what they were. "Condoms," Bruce said, holding up the packet. "It's a . . . very thin sheath. Assuming you still want me to top, you don't need to worry about it; I'll handle it. These are lubricant." He held up the other packets. "And, well, frankly, I can handle those too." He smiled at Loki. "I'd like to, if you'll let me."

Loki nodded. "All right," he said. He pushed Bruce flat onto his back, and straddled him again. "Can you, from this position?"

Bruce nodded, and ripped open one of the packets of lube. Coating his fingers, he reached behind Loki and rubbed a slippery finger over his asshole before dipping a fingertip in.

He really had to think very hard about everything but what he was doing, prepping Loki for sex, because if he did think about it--think about what was about to happen--he'd probably be overwhelmed quickly. So instead he concentrated on discrete impressions--heat around his fingers, Loki's hair falling on his face, one of Loki's hands sliding into Bruce's hair--and counted his own breaths.

"I think," Loki said, panting, "that I am ready now."

Bruce looked up at his face, which showed only pleasure and a little impatience, and crooked his fingers to try to find Loki's prostate, if he had one--which he apparently did, based on his abrupt movement.

"I am definitely ready now," Loki gasped, and wrapped his hand around Bruce's wrist, pulling his fingers out.

Bruce let him, but before Loki could line himself up over Bruce's cock, he stopped him, and said, "Kneel up for a moment."

Loki did, and Bruce shifted himself forward enough to roll the condom onto himself. "Cunning," Loki said, watching him, and Bruce laughed.

"Yeah," he said. "You won't notice it, and I barely will."

"Do we need to discuss the matter any further?" Loki asked, running a finger down Bruce's cock. "Because I would rather like to get back to what we were doing."

"Yeah," Bruce said. "Yeah. Please."

He reached for Loki's hips, but Loki pushed his hands away and said, "Lean back."

Bruce did, and watched very closely as Loki lined himself up and sank down an inch. Oh, fuck, it was better than he'd even imagined, better than he'd dreamed, better than he'd allowed himself to picture while jacking off and even while fingering Loki minutes ago. Loki was hot, oh so very hot, and tight, and his muscles were standing out in sharp relief as he strained to hold himself up. It was so very hard to hold still, but he did, didn't jerk up into Loki's body, didn't so much as shift his feet until Loki had taken him all the way in.

When Loki's ass met Bruce's hips, though, Loki just smirked down at him and said, "Hold on, my dear doctor."

And that was nearly all Bruce could do, his hands resting on Loki's thighs just above his knees, watching as Loki lifted himself nearly off Bruce's cock altogether before lowering himself back down. It was slow and measured for perhaps three or four strokes, and then Loki was off and riding.

It was hard, and fast, and it was exactly what Bruce wanted, needed, and damn, he was glad he'd gotten off so recently, or otherwise he would have exploded in a minute or less. As it was, he still had to hang onto his control by his teeth and toenails, hoping he could just last long enough to let Loki finish first--

As he thought that, Loki's hand went to his own cock, stroking up and down in counterpoint to his hips moving, and Bruce watched, mesmerized, as Loki finally threw his head back, cried out wordlessly, and came, spilling all over his own hand.

The sight of it--Loki so abandoned above him--and the feel of Loki clenching around him was irresistible, and Bruce only had to thrust into Loki's suddenly-pliable body a few more times before he gasped and shuddered, emptying himself again, hard and intense and so, so good.

Loki pitched forward, his lips seeking out Bruce's in an uncoordinated kiss, and Bruce returned as best he could, despite the fact that he couldn't seem to make his limbs do anything he wanted them to. "I presume you enjoyed that," Loki said, his voice hoarse, and Bruce only laughed in response. He lifted Loki off of him as gently as he could and removed the condom, fumbling his way through tying it off and throwing it in the general direction of the tissue pile. Holding his arms out, he watched Loki's face soften a little before he curled up against him again, sweat-slick skin sliding against each other.

"Yes," Bruce said, a couple minutes later. "I enjoyed that very much. You?"

"Even more than I had expected," Loki said.

"It'll be better next time," Bruce said. "It always is. At least, in my experience. That is, if you wanted to do it again." His tongue was getting ahead of his brain, and he needed it not to do that or he'd be professing eternal love in the next half hour.

Not that he loved Loki, but, well, he was pretty fond of the man--alien--Jotun--whatever.

Loki chuckled. "Did you really think I would let go of you so easily?"

"I'd hoped not," Bruce said. His eyelids were starting to grow heavy, but he was also starting to get hungry, and he wasn't sure which would win. "Are you leaving once the road gets plowed?"

"Do you wish me to?"

"No, not particularly," Bruce said.

"Then I suppose I shall stay," Loki said, as if it didn't matter either way, but the tension draining from his muscles said otherwise.

Bruce felt almost drunk between being tired and post-orgasmic, and that was probably the only reason that he was able to say, "I still can't help you with your revenge."

"I know," Loki said, and he didn't sound mad, not that that really meant anything. “I can wait.”

“I’m not going to change my mind on that.”

"Please bear in mind that I am over a thousand Midgardian years old. If you could wait years for pleasure, I can wait for revenge."

"Oh," Bruce said. "Oh."

"Indeed," Loki said. "Sleep. There will be food when you awake."

"I knew there was a reason I kept you around," Bruce said. He closed his eyes, and slept.


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