Loki knows the power of desire.

A flutter of lashes, a coy smile, a carefully calculated casual glance... That always draws the mark closer, and then there's the payoff. He's done this so often it doesn't affect him anymore when the mark curls an arm about his slender waist and pulls him close, or when the mark whispers lewd promises in his ear, or when the mark kisses him sloppily. He knows - it's ingrained knowledge - that it's all a show, and the payoff's what matters.

Loki knows the power of desire.

He can keep his mark on the edge for hours, begging to be taken or to be released. He can croon sweet nothings until the mark is on his or her knees. He can lash and cut and bind them until they are wrecks, and they will still crawl back to him, begging, begging for more, and then Loki may just reward their devotion. He can do all this without ever removing his clothes, for he knows the power of desire is in the yearning and the craving for more. He knows that desire resides in the head and the heart and the blood - rich and thick and full of life - and desire overrides all logic if given enough fuel.

Loki knows the power of desire.

He understands that it is desire that draws him towards the little apartment on the fourth floor. He goes only on Thursdays, and only on Thursdays does Loki acknowledge that he himself is a creature of desire. Delirious and dreamy every time Thursday approaches, he understands that he is destined to come back every week, to enter that little apartment with its thick red drapes and gold-accented furniture. It is lightning singing in his soul and heat pulsing in his veins that pulls him into the room on the right, and there is the heart of his desire.

The tall, blond man will turn to regard him, always sounding a little surprised, as if Loki hasn't been coming here for years and years and years on Thursdays, shedding his clothes as he saunters from main door to bedroom, and will always stand before this man in his completeness. This man will gesture for Loki to come closer only after looking Loki over for signs of hurt or injury, and Loki will always amble over with a calmness he never feels.

He understands that he will always belong to this man. This man with his bright smile and dark blue eyes, the broad shoulders and gentle touches.

"Terence is gone," says Loki, tilting his face up. They are almost of equal height; the breath of the other man washes over his face, sweet and beer-tainted. "They will not find him until next Friday."

"That's very good news."

Loki shivers as the man runs a hand along Loki's spine. It is a gentle touch by a hand which has probably broken dozens of backs; it is a tender caress by a hand which has signalled men to open fire on a shipping container full of refugees. It is a hand that has pulled triggers of weapons and been sprayed with hot crimson blood countless times.

It is a hand that can easily kill Loki, and Loki understands that he will give in should it ever happen.

And then Loki closes his eyes and gives in to the delicious madness of passion when the large man pushes him to the bed, looms over him as he has always done. The man will kiss him, and they will make love, and just when Loki thinks he will be driven entirely insane he will hear this man whisper the one word - ("brother") - that drags him back to reality and sanity, enough for Loki to go on one more week playing others' desires against themselves, knowing all the while that his own is a knife angled at his willing throat.

Loki knows very well the power of desire.

So does Thor.