The day Thor became a man, there were ceremonies and celebrations and speeches. Everyone said how proud they were of Thor. Everyone looked at him, and under their gazes he swelled and glowed until he was a shining sun of a man. Loki joked at the feast, and did magic tricks to make his brother laugh.
After a few hours, Thor slipped out with Sif and the Warriors Three, to go to a tavern and properly celebrate his manhood. Thor didn't invite Loki.
But Loki's quick eyes caught Thor's touches and low mutters to his friends. He followed.
Loki moved quiet and unseen, the flickering shadow to Thor's light, all the way into the city and the loudest, lowest tavern Fandral could find. Loki watched from outside the window as they settled in. Thor roared for mead, though he'd already had more than he was used to, trying to keep up with the older warriors.
Still, that he hadn't felt Loki's presence... Had they so lost their boyhood bonds?
Loki's fists clenched as he watched. He felt shame heat his cheeks at the knowledge of what he was doing, hovering out here and watching Thor with his friends.
And he wouldn't even get the chance to make Thor pay in the practice rooms. Thor was a man, and Loki wasn't. Thor wouldn't train with him now.
Well, what did it matter. Loki was getting better with magic all the time - he could change his own form now, he was a shapeshifter! Nearly. He didn't need to practice with swords when he had this. Even if everyone else thought Thor's talents were better. He and Loki had always been opposites.
All these thoughts collided at once in Loki's head, and he saw how to make Thor pay attention.
It hurt. The reshaping of bones, the shifting of flesh, the change from his core outwards. Loki curled round himself, panting in pain.
After long minutes, he straightened, feeling his changed centre of gravity. He waved a hand in lordly fashion, and watched his clothes change: leather into silk.
The underthings and dress and stockings felt strange against Loki's skin as he left the alley he'd ducked into. A drunkard turned his head, and for a moment Loki felt the cold certainty of oncoming laughter.
Then the man dragged his eyes down Loki's new form, and smirked.
Loki smirked back.
He walked into the tavern. Loki wasn't brave enough to sashay, or toss his hair. But he didn't need to. For the first time in years, just being there was enough; Thor's eyes hit him and fixed there, unblinking.
"Come here! Have a drink!" Thor invited.
Loki smiled and accepted. Fear twanged in his chest as he sat down, waiting for one of them to look at him and know. But it didn't happen. Thor simply talked, telling Loki of his great adventures and manly escapades; and Loki sat, soaking in the warmth of his brother's attention.
Soon Loki became brave enough to experiment with this new source of power over Thor. He laid a hand on Thor's arm, and leaned in to show off his new cleavage. Loki catalogued each reaction, the hitch in breathing and the reddened face and the ever-brighter smile.
After another boisterous toast, Thor threw down his mug and slung an arm around Loki's waist. It stayed there, warm and heavy, holding Loki inescapably against him. Thor kept recounting tales of his bravery, but Loki's mind was full of his skin prickling as Thor's fingers stroked over the curve of his hip.
Thor kept going, spreading goosebumps over Loki's skin. Loki felt his breath hitch as Thor touched him. Thor always did this. He was so simple and predictable and strong in ways Loki could subvert, given time. But somehow Thor kept surprising him.
Case in point: "The hour grows late," Thor said.
I'm not losing to you over this. Not when you don't even know we're competing.
Loki met Thor's eyes, and slicked his silver tongue over his lower lip. He was blushing, but managed to say, "perhaps you'd like to stay the night here with me, my lord?"
Fandral and Sif burst into boisterous laughter. Thor simply grinned. "Of course."
Victory filled Loki's chest like a sunburst.
Then Thor leant down, his scruff brushing Loki's sensitive skin as he leaned in to murmur in Loki's ear. "This form is very charming. But perhaps I might have my Loki back, once we get to bed?"
Loki felt his heart stop. He'd relaxed into Thor's grip without knowing it, but now he jumped, his body tensing. But Thor smiled, his old kind smile: not a predator for now. "Did you think I would not feel you in your touch, brother?"
"I thought... you wouldn't expect me. So you wouldn't think to recognise me." Loki managed softly. His brain had frozen, but Asgard would crumble before Loki couldn't talk.
"I always expect you, Loki. Even now - I always expect to feel you at my shoulder. Right behind me, every time."
"Even now you're a man?"
Thor's blue eyes changed, growing almost feral. He trailed the back of one finger down Loki's neck. "Especially now."
Loki leant closer still, until their lips almost touched, until Thor was breathing in his words. "Then perhaps it's time you made me a man, too."
They went back to the palace and sneaked through the hallways, pink-cheeked, like when they were younger and first trying strong drink. Thor kissed Loki through the door of his bedroom.
Thor tumbled Loki onto the bed, and he hit it with an oof. Thor's enormous, heated body was so close. His heavy thighs parted Loki's, his mouth stung Loki's skin, his stroking hands drew Loki's body up into a helpless arch. Thor, unwittingly ruthless as ever, touched and rubbed and forced Loki over the edge, until he was thrashing under Thor's body.
And Thor never looked away.