tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us. (x)
”Tell me a story,” Thor says, voice heavy like he’s holding smoke in his mouth.
He rolls over on the bedding, half-drunk still. Loki is sitting on the window sill, bathed in moonlight, sharp echoes of light cutting across his body. Thor’s breath catches. This is the first time. They are in their thirteenth summer. They are getting to know each other in other ways, ways that are not always innocent. Ways that are sometimes ugly.
“I don’t know any stories,” Loki says.
Loki turns from the window to watch him, annoyed. Annoyed because Thor is drunk. Annoyed because Thor drank with the Warriors Three and not him. Annoyed because he’s worried Thor will get caught. Perhaps none of these things. Perhaps all of them. Thor stretches a hand out and beckons to him, limbs loose. And Loki comes.
When he gets within arm’s reach, Thor grabs his wrist and tugs him closer, trying to pull Loki onto the bed with him.
“Tell me a story.”
“Mother could tell you a story.”
“No,” Thor says. “I like your voice better.”
There is a sigh.
“What kind of story?”
“Any kind.” Thor yawns. “Just talk.”
He closes his eyes after he says it, waiting for the smooth lull of Loki’s voice to fall over him, comforting, familiar.
“There were once two brothers,” Loki says.
Thor cracks an eye open. “Is this about us?” he says.
Thor’s eyes close once more.
“There were once two brothers. One was named Sun, the other, Moon. They never saw each other, except for when one set and the other rose, for then there were a few minutes they both occupied the sky at the same time. Sun was bright, safe, and the people worshipped him. But Moon could never give off that much light—people feared him. One evening, just as Sun was beginning to set, Moon called to him from across the horizon—”
Loki doesn’t finish. The door to the room opens and Frigga comes in, hand on her hip. Thor scrambles to hide himself under the covers, but Loki just watches her. He knows when he’s been caught.
“There is no reason for you two to be up at this hour,” she says. “Loki, go to your room please.”
“Yes, mother,” he says, pulling away from the bed to obey.
Thor braves a peak from under the covers, but keeps his mouth covered, lest his mother smells his breath. He watches Loki as he exits, Frigga’s hand on his shoulder, and notices for the first time that Loki is smaller than he is.
“Tell me a story,” Thor says, with the sheets pooled around his waist.
He holds Loki’s ankle with his hand, holds Loki’s heart with his own. His brother, who moments ago he was inside of, his brother who cupped his cheek and let him. His brother.
“Must you ask more of me?” Loki shifts and pokes Thor’s chest with his toes. “Once, there was a maiden—”
“No, no,” Thor says. “The story you told me when we were boys. About Sun and Moon.”
Loki pauses, thinking, but Thor knows he remembers it well. His hair is still limp with sweat and wild around his head, and Thor wants to keep him like this forever. With his cheeks still flushed, Thor wants to keep him.
“Moon called to Sun from across the horizon,” Loki says, voice softer now. “He said, ‘Brother, why am I not as bright as you?’ But Sun was only confused. ‘You are,’ Sun said. Moon knew this wasn’t true, but he couldn’t ask more, for Sun had set entirely now. He would ask again, he thought, in the morning. So, at dawn, when Sun was just beginning to rise, Moon called to him once more. ‘Sun,’ he said. ‘I want the people to love me as they love you.’ And Sun smiled at him and said, ‘They do, but in a different way, my brother.’ Then Moon could ask no more, for he had set—”
Thor leans down and kisses Loki’s neck, lips trailing upwards. Loki pauses and then grunts.
“I thought you wanted a story,” he says.
“I want you,” Thor says.
Loki pulls him forward by his shoulders and kisses him open-mouthed. They will do this for years, and neither will ever think to name it, or talk about it for anything other than what it is. Thor nudges Loki’s legs apart with his knee. He likes how responsive Loki is to him, how in these moments, he can read Loki like he should be able to.
“I love you,” he says.
There’s a palm on his face and then Loki is pushing him away, just enough so he can look Thor in his eyes.
“Do you?” He sounds amused by it, but honestly curious.
“Of course,” Thor says, like there’s never been any reason to doubt.
He fucks Loki on his back and Loki is still wet and open for him, arching up into Thor’s touch. Thor forces himself to keep his eyes open because he likes to watch the way Loki’s eyebrows knit together before he climaxes, the way he tightens his thighs around Thor like a snake around its prey. Thor has had Loki every way, but he likes this way best—he likes to see.
“Do you doubt that I love you?” he says, hips thrusting forward faster.
“No,” says Loki, and it sounds like an afterthought.
“Shall I tell you a story?” Loki says.
He watches Thor through a cell door, thick barred shadows painted across his face. All Thor can really see is the bloodshot eyes. Everything that has led to this moment has been his fault.
“I don’t think now is—”
“Nonsense. Now is the perfect time.” Loki shifts, standing, walking closer. “You remember the story about Sun and Moon?”
Thor doesn’t have to answer that. Of course he does. The story Loki never seemed to be able to finish. It’s been years since the moment Loki told him more of it, years full of moments that were never as happy as that one. It’s been too many years. Thor says nothing, and Loki takes his silence for an answer.
“Moon believed Sun when he said the people loved him, because Sun was so beloved to him. He knew that Sun would never betray him.” There’s a shift and Thor hears something that sounds like a chain. “But as time went on Moon started to realized that Sun had lied to him. So he talked to the stars. He said, ‘Why do the people fear me? Why don’t they love me as they love my brother?’ And the stars said, ‘Because you are something to be afraid of.’”
“Loki,” Thor says. “Enough.”
“I’m not finished.” Loki speaks like he’s chewing on steel. “The next time Sun rose, Moon confronted him: ‘People fear me,’ he said. ‘They do not love me.’ Sun did not look at him. ‘How could they?’ he said. ‘As long as the Sun rises, they never will—”
“Enough,” Thor says, this time slamming his hand against the wall.
Loki goes silent, and Thor thinks of everything that has led to this moment, this moment where Loki is a prisoner and criminal. This moment, where Loki is still his brother, but a brother Thor does not remember. He wonders if Loki remembers anything besides what he wants to, any of the years spent wrestling in mud as children, and later years spent wrestling in the sheets.
“I know a story too,” he says. “Of a brother not burdened by darkness. You are not that moon, Loki.”
“If you spend too long staring at the sun you will go blind.”
“What does that mean,” Thor says.
There is silence. He asks again, but Loki doesn’t answer.
When Thor opens the cell, Loki is gone.
(Sometimes Loki would tell him other stories, stories about dragons and dark elves and magic. He would braid Thor’s hair while he told them, and there were always sliced apples to eat and kisses to steal. Sometimes Loki was happy, and sometimes Thor pretends he can only remember that.)
“Tell me a story,” Thor says, and coughs up blood.
Loki presses his hands to Thor’s chest and he looks panicked but Thor doesn’t understand why—he caused the wound, after all.
“Don’t speak.” Loki’s voice is quivering. “Brother, do not move.”
Thor never realized how warm blood was before. It pours out of him like a liquid blanket now, sliding across his chest and down, down. He is not afraid. He never has been. But he is tired, oh, he is so tired now. How long, he thinks, have he and Loki done this dance? How long?
“You never finished the story,” he says.
Something green glows and he recognizes that it’s magic, Loki’s magic. He is trying to heal him.
“The one about Sun and Moon,” Thor says.
Loki is shaking along with his voice, so Thor folds a hand over his own. The hand is covered in blood. Thor knows that blood is not Loki’s.
“I want to know how it ends.”
His brother sobs.
“I don’t remember. Thor, I don’t—”
They aren’t talking about the story anymore, at least, Thor doesn’t think they are. What he does know is that his hands are heavy and his body is heavy and this, it had to end somewhere, didn’t it?
“The sun and moon can never coexist,” he says.
“No,” Loki says. “They can.”
He’s stopped using magic, but the air around them smells less like blood and more like home. Thor realizes that Loki’s teleported them somewhere where else. Somewhere comforting.
“You see, this is how the story ends: Sun never wanted his brother to feel that way again, so one evening he did not set, and the people yelled and screamed, and the sky howled, but he would not set. So when Moon came, Sun told him, ‘Never again will we be parted.’ And they weren’t. Sun never set, but neither did Moon, and each night, one bows to the other. But they are always in balance.”
Thor smiles. He is pretty sure he smiles, but he can’t be sure of anything right now except Loki’s hand in his own and the warmth he feels around him. It’s a different warmth now, the kind that makes you feel light, invincible. The next thing he feels is Loki’s lips over his own. They feel strangely cold. Thor says this.
“A moon can’t exist without a sun,” Loki says.
He is still crying, and for a moment, Thor can’t see him at all, but then he recognizes Loki next to him, mimicking his form. And then he realizes too late what Loki means.
He wants to stop him, but he tells himself his mouth is too weak to move. One of them should live, Thor thinks, or maybe neither of them deserved to in the first place.
“I am glad it was you,” he says, or maybe he doesn’t say anything at all.
The light becomes too bright so Thor shuts his eyes, but when he opens them again the light is just softness, just warmth, and he can feel Loki by his side but he can also see him. Loki, his brother, who is smiling and still crying, but no longer looking like he regrets. Something golden shines around them. Thor realizes it’s them.
He shuts his eyes again and knows Loki will still be there when he opens them.
That is the last thing he knows.