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Read Each Other in the Dark

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When Valkyrie woke in the morning, the sun wasn’t quite risen yet, the sky only just beginning to lighten—and Loki was gone, the bed back to its normal size. She wasn’t surprised. If anything, the fact that he’d stayed the full day had been more unexpected than him disappearing before the morning.

She might have wished they’d squeezed in one more round—something more in line with the fantasies she’d been having—but they had not. Loki had licked his own come out of Natasha, eaten Valkyrie once more while Natasha directed him, and then Valkyrie had rewarded him by jerking him off while Natasha watched. By that point, it had been dark, and Valkyrie had felt lethargic.

She frowned at the memory, at all the lost opportunities, and rolled over to find Natasha awake as well, scrolling through something on her cell phone.

“He didn’t sleep here, did he?” Valkyrie said, propping herself on her elbow.

Natasha shook her head, not glancing up. “He was up and gone before I even drifted off last night.”

“Huh.” Valkyrie flopped back down.

“He’ll be back,” Natasha said.

“You really think so?”

Natasha set the phone aside. “We’re not done with him, and he knows that. And I don’t think he’s done with us either.”

Good, Valkyrie thought, although she said nothing. She might not have been surprised by him leaving, but she was surprised by how disappointed she was.

But she didn’t want to dwell too much on that. Not today, when she felt sore and raw from sex and when Natasha was still lying beside her, beautiful and even more suited to Valkyrie than she could’ve imagined.

“Do you want to train?” she asked instead.

Natasha sat up, tossing the sheets off of her. “Sure. You brought your sword, didn’t you?”

Valkyrie had, and it was with Dragonfang that they sparred: Valkyrie first letting Natasha hold it, showing her how the Valkyrie had been trained to wield their weapons, before she took it back, Natasha retrieved a thin metal club that crackled with lightning, and they fought.

Natasha’s stick lasted longer than Valkyrie expected, but it still wasn’t a match for Dragonfang. Valkyrie struck it once in the very center, and it cracked. Another hit in the same place, and it broke right in two, which made Natasha chuckle.

“Tony designed it,” she said. “I’m looking forward to showing him what you managed to do to it in ten minutes.”

“Make it twenty,” said Valkyrie, “and let’s see what I can do to the remaining pieces?”

Natasha agreed, but only two or so had passed before a shimmering gold silhouette appeared in the corner of the boxing ring and morphed swiftly into Loki. He wore his armor again and looked more clean and refined than he had last night, his hair neat and all of his regal confidence restored.

Valkyrie tried not to show how shocked she was that he was back so soon. If Natasha felt the same, she at least recovered more quickly.

“This part of the buildings is off-limits. How did you get in here without setting off the intruder alert?”

Loki waved a hand like he was dismissing a fly. “Much as I would love to reveal all of my secrets, I…well, I would not, actually. I was disappointed to return and find you both gone. I went to fetch us all breakfast.”

“No you didn’t,” said Valkyrie, approaching him. “You panicked and ran.” On a hunch, she slashed her sword through his chest. His image rippled like a reflection on water but was not damaged. “And you’re still not even here.”

“Of course not. I’m at the apartment. I brought breakfast,” he said, as though repeating that fact would somehow sway them. Then, as Valkyrie tried to decide how to respond to that: “You’re upset.”

Valkyrie didn’t even have to think about that: of course she wasn’t. Perhaps she should have been. They had brought him into their bed, and he hadn’t even said a proper thank-you before he’d fled. But, since it was nothing she hadn’t expected, she couldn’t be upset about it.

Before she could answer, Natasha said, “That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?”

Loki blinked. “I… What?”

Natasha only said, “We’ll be back in a bit. Can you keep breakfast warm for us?”

He was still baffled, clearly, glancing between them like he was trying to figure out their play, but he said, “Yes,” and flickered out of sight a moment later.

When Valkyrie opened her mouth to ask what that been about, Natasha made a cutting gesture in the air with her hand. Did she think Loki was still around, his reflection having gone invisible to hear what they said about him? Valkyrie supposed it was a possibility.

“Want to go a little longer before we stop?” Natasha asked.

“Of course. I still have to pulverize those things with Dragonfang, don’t I?”

When they were finished and rinsing off in the shower, Natasha said, as she ducked the back of her head under the spray of water, “We never really talked about what this was with him. If this would be an occasional sex thing or something else.”

No, Valkyrie realized. They hadn’t. It seemed obvious. “What’s there to talk about? It’s Loki. He does what he wants with no particular care for anyone else. Besides, I didn’t think you’d want anything…well, permanent, with him.”

“I didn’t. Like you said, it’s Loki. But I’m wondering now if I might’ve misjudged his motivations.”

Valkyrie saw where this was going. “You think he might actually want something more.”

“Not exactly.”

They switched places, Valkyrie wetting her hair under the showerhead while Natasha stood back and watched. Valkyrie liked her hair when it was wet. It was darker, and only looked red where a few strands clung to her skin away from the rest, like thin rivulets of blood down her neck.

It made Valkyrie wonder, not for the first time, how glorious Natasha would appear in the true heat of battle, when she was fighting to kill.

“I think he might want us to want something more,” Natasha said. “Anything beyond that…your guess is as good as mine.”

Valkyrie considered that, rubbing her scalp to make sure all the shampoo had been rinsed. “Do we want that?”

Natasha hesitated. Valkyrie thought she might have felt the same as Valkyrie did: that because she hadn’t immediately flinched away from the idea, maybe there was something more there than she’d realized.

“I think,” Natasha said, speaking slowly, “we can’t answer that until we know for certain what he wants.”

Valkyrie snorted, then stepped away as Natasha reached for the conditioner. She didn’t apply it to her own hair, though, but to Valkyrie’s, massaging her scalp and making her want to purr with contentment. It took a great deal of concentration and restraint to return to the conversation at hand. “Well. Mmm. Good luck getting it out of him.”

Even though Natasha stood close enough that their bare, wet bodies brushed and Valkyrie was nearly melting under her touch, her expression was faraway.

“You have a plan,” Valkyrie guessed.

Natasha shook her head and led Valkyrie back under the spray to rinse. “Not a plan. At least not the kind where I have a particular goal in mind.”

“But you’re thinking of something.”

Natasha’s half smile was suggestive to the point of filthy. “Oh, I’m thinking of several things.”

She leaned forward, rubbed her nose against Valkyrie’s, and they kissed briefly but hotly. Valkyrie didn’t even care that she was nudged backward slightly, and that water was now pouring down her face, stinging her eyes.

Natasha drew back. Her hands framed Valkyrie’s waist, just under her rib cage. Valkyrie didn’t know if she wanted her to stroke up or down.

Natasha chose up, trailing her fingertips over the curve of Valkyrie’s breasts, her collarbones, settling her palms on either side of Valkyrie’s throat. “I think we should break him,” Natasha said. “Exactly like we’ve talked about.”

Valkyrie snickered even as her stomach swooped with excitement. “You really think he’ll let us?”

Natasha smiled fully and brushed their lips together again. “I think we can try.”



When they returned to Natasha’s apartment, Loki was on the sofa, his feet tucked under him, with a book in his lap. He wore a long, heavy green tunic that overlapped in the front—and therefore seemed to Valkyrie like more of a dressing gown than a shirt—and black trousers.

He didn’t look up from his book as he said, “Did you have fun hitting each other with sticks?”

“Did you have fun running with your tail between your legs?” Valkyrie asked.

It got her a short, unimpressed glance before he went back to pretending to read. “I did not run. I simply realized some of the…possible consequences, shall we say, of leaving Thor unexpectedly during the first stage of his new rebuilding plan.”

Natasha approached the coffee table, which housed a number of bags and plates and cups that smelt of coffee and sugar. “I guess that explains why you’re reading about architecture.”

It did—and Valkyrie was impressed that she’d been able to piece together any of what he was reading from a distance, even such a small one—but Loki seemed flustered by the comment and quickly dismissed the book from this dimension with a wave of his hand.

Natasha sat on the floor, with the table and the food between her and Loki. Valkyrie thought it might’ve been a subtle indication that she was meant to sit on the sofa, but she’d much rather join Natasha—and did.

If Loki was bothered by being alone, he didn’t show it. If anything, he seemed pleased to have the full sofa to himself.

He’d brought an assortment of breads and pastries, with still-steaming coffee for Natasha and something cold, sweet, and delicious for Valkyrie. They ate silently for a time, and Valkyrie’s thoughts wandered back to what Natasha had said: “I think we should break him.” They’d talked more on the drive back about what that meant—practically this time, the two of them planning rather than dissolving into fantasy, although the fantasy was tempting. If Loki not only allowed it but responded like they hoped he would…

“You like your carbs, huh,” Natasha said, startling Valkyrie from her reverie. When Loki only narrowed his eyes at her, she added, “There’s no hidden meaning in that, I promise. But back to rebuilding, how is New Asgard? I heard Thor’s decided to recreate aspects of Asgard here.”

That was news to Valkyrie. The plans he’d given her before she’d left had indicated nothing of the sort. Perhaps that was what all his scribblings had been for.

“Only some,” Loki said. “The palace, for instance, albeit on a smaller scale. Although, the longer we are here, the more he seems to…to miss Asgard. With not just Stark but King T’Challa now as well showing interest in the engineering and technology of Asgard, he may grow even more maudlin and change his mind yet again.”

“What was Asgard like?” Natasha asked.

The silence that fell was long and heavy, and even Valkyrie had to set aside her food and drink as memories waited in the corner of her mind, like a dog at the door howling to be let inside, to take over the house for itself. She didn’t want those memories, not now at least, and anyway the Asgard she had known was no doubt different to the Asgard that had been destroyed. And Natasha wasn’t asking her; she was asking Loki.

Finally, he said, “Golden. Beautiful. Elegant in a way that Midgard is not.” His lip curled as he lifted his own drink. It didn’t steam or smell strongly like Natasha’s coffee, but the cup’s lid prevented Valkyrie from seeing if it was the same as hers.

“There’s elegance on Earth,” said Natasha. “Maybe not that you’ve seen in the places you’ve attacked, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

Even before he’d brought the cup to his mouth, he set it down again, sneering fully now. “They weigh on your mind, do they? My crimes against your realm.”

“About as much as they seem to weigh on yours.”

Loki planted his feet on the floor and leaned forward, his expression bitter, and Valkyrie decided she didn’t want to watch them do this today. She and Natasha were meant to be breaking him, but not like this. So she said, with a sigh, “She keeps bringing it up because you keep reacting. Stop and so will she.”

Natasha shot her a fleeting smile and nudged their elbows together. “You think you know me so well,” she said, teasingly, so Valkyrie teased back.

“Don’t I?”

“You’re nauseating,” Loki said. He turned away with an exaggerated grimace. “The both of you. I don’t know how anyone tolerates it.”

Valkyrie hesitated, torn about whether to bring him into the teasing, then decided to at least try. “Well, I do aspire to make you uncomfortable, so that’s not exactly a deterrence.”

“Do you?” he said lightly, still not looking at them. “You say so, repeatedly, but you haven’t lived up to your claims.”

Valkyrie shared a Well, that was easy glance with Natasha and stifled the urge to grin triumphantly. Only to pause a second later, wondering if he knew somehow what they’d discussed, if he was the one toying with them now.

Doesn’t matter, she thought. Between the two of us, it’ll be easy enough to turn the tables.

“Why, Loki,” Natasha said, “that sounded like a complaint. Or maybe a request.”

“Did it? Well, it was neither.” He turned back, and his expression was impassive. “Just a…reminder that you have declared certain things on which you have yet to deliver.”

“Are you sure you want us to deliver?” Valkyrie asked. “It wasn’t so long ago that you didn’t think you could handle it.”

Natasha said, “And that’s a challenge,” and Loki arched an eyebrow.

Then, slowly, a grin spread across his face like a tear in wet paper.

“A challenge,” he said, “that I accept.”

Which was good enough for Valkyrie, but Natasha added, “First, we need a safe word.”

He scoffed. “I thought a simple ‘no’ was suitable for your purposes.”

“You argue and fight,” said Natasha, “just for arguing and fighting’s sake. I think if I take the first signs of struggle genuinely, you’ll be disappointed, maybe even angry. Or am I wrong about that?”

Loki said nothing, but the way he glanced away, jaw clenching, was confirmation enough.

“Uh-huh.” Natasha sounded amused. “So. Safe word?”

“Mistletoe,” he said. No hesitation. He’d already been thinking about it. Or perhaps he already had one, from someone else in the past. Either way, it was a good sign.

Valkyrie shoved the remaining breakfast pastries aside so she could lean on the coffee table, letting him see exactly how pleased and eager she was. “Mistletoe. Good. Now, here’s what we’re thinking.”

“I don’t want to know,” Loki said quickly. He still wasn’t looking at them, his face turned to the side, giving them the perfect view of his pinking cheek. “I… I don’t—”

Valkyrie had expected as much but still thought she should try, just in case. “Fair enough. Anything we should avoid, then?”

He spun back to them, his scowl seeming to say How dare you, like they’d offended him by assuming he had preferences and limits.

Natasha spoke up. “You know, I’ve never cut off someone’s penis before. I’ve always kind of wanted to.”

To Valkyrie’s surprise, Loki didn’t seem disgusted by that, but rather thoughtful. His gaze became unfocused, like he was considering the possibility. “I might be able to grow it back, eventually… Although I take your point. Fine. No amputations, please. And I would prefer to avoid vivisection if at all possible.”

Valkyrie wrinkled her nose, a little alarmed that that was where his mind had gone, even if Natasha had sort of gone there first. But Natasha barely blinked.

“Noted,” she said. “Too messy anyway, and I think we should save the edge play for when we know each other a bit better.”

It didn’t escape Valkyrie’s notice that she’d implied this little arrangement would continue for at least a while longer, but if Loki did as well, he gave no indication. He rested his elbows on his knees and stared down at the carpet, rubbing one palm with the thumb of his other hand.

“Whatever you’re thinking,” Natasha said, “just spit it out.”

“I would not argue,” he said, “if you avoided chains.”

“Chain restraints?” Valkyrie said.

When he inclined his head once, Natasha asked, “But other types of restraints are fine?”

He didn’t respond immediately, rubbing his palm harder before he dropped his hands altogether and sat up, his lips twisted downward. “If there are not…” He gestured vaguely, an aborted wrist shake like he was trying to shoo something away.

“The weight or the sound?” Natasha said when it became clear he wasn’t going to say anything more.

Loki’s throat bobbed, and his lips curled even more. “Sound.”

“Okay,” she said and then, after a beat, like she had to remind herself: “Thank you for telling us.”

Under the coffee table where Loki couldn’t see, she touched Valkyrie’s leg briefly. Valkyrie understood. They’d discussed Natasha’s leather cuffs in the car, but that wouldn’t work. The cuffs had metal rings and hooked together with a metal connector; they rattled when they were moved.

Valkyrie stroked the back of Natasha’s hand, trying to communicate that she understood and it was fine. They didn’t really need to restrain him anyway.

“And pain?” said Valkyrie, which was most of what she cared about. Most of what she had come to fantasize about. Watching Natasha captivate and control him, and being allowed to hurt him herself. “You don’t mind if I knock you around a bit?”

Loki peered at her, his head cocked, and then he gave her a smile that was equal parts sunny and devious. “Oh yes,” he said, practically purring. “Please do.”



Valkyrie knew the benefits of starting slow, of working them all up to it—not to mention the benefits of lulling Loki into a pleasure-filled haze before they started to shatter him—but still, it was difficult to not just get right to the point.

Natasha, though, seemed to have no such trouble. She stripped down to her panties and tank top, then helped Loki undress completely, slowing him every time he tried to rush until it became the most listless striptease Valkyrie had ever witnessed.

Listless, yet lovely. Every inch of Loki’s skin bared was accompanied by Natasha’s sure hands nudging the clothing away, stroking him, teasing him. He was puzzled by the treatment. Valkyrie could see it on his face, just as the not-quite-smile on Natasha’s said she was enjoying herself.

She likes this, Valkyrie thought. Putting him off-balance, playing with his mind. She realized, too, that Natasha couldn’t have this with Valkyrie alone. Not like this. Valkyrie would want to play back, wouldn’t just stand still and go along with it, even in some attempt to figure out what Natasha was up to, which was precisely what she suspected Loki was doing.

Then, when Loki was nude, Natasha turned her attention to Valkyrie, undressing her as well—or trying to. Valkyrie waved her away, chuckling, and finished the job herself while Natasha lay on her back on the bed.

Seeing her like that, her elbows bent and lifting her upper body while her lower stretched out across the mattress like a feast, Valkyrie couldn’t help but follow. Cover Natasha’s body with hers. Slot their mouths together as Natasha wrapped her legs around Valkyrie’s waist, drawing her down.

There was nothing slow or listless about the kiss. It was as much teeth as tongue and lips, and their hands moved ceaselessly throughout it: Natasha mapping Valkyrie’s back while Valkyrie groped her front, shoving Natasha’s top up so she could stroke bare skin. Natasha wore no bra, so there was nothing to stop Valkyrie from cupping the underside of her breasts, strumming her thumbs over Natasha’s nipples.

Natasha broke their kiss to arch her neck with a sigh, and suddenly Valkyrie remembered that there was meant to be a third person here.

Loki was where they had left him, still nude, staring at them with dark eyes. Because he just wanted to watch? Because he didn’t think he was welcome?

“Get over here,” Valkyrie told him.

He hesitated briefly but obeyed, kneeling on the bed beside them. As soon as he did, the mattress stretched as it had last time, large enough to accommodate all of them with ease. “I must confess,” he said, his voice rough, “this was not at all what I envisioned when you asked if I would allow pain.”

“I guess your imagination is lacking,” said Valkyrie. “Take my place.”

Because Natasha seemed to have an unexpected knack for making him comfortable, or at least making him respond like they wanted. This time was no different. Although his expression was pinched with suspicion as he bent over Natasha, it soon went slack with pleasure when she got her legs around him, her hands in his hair, her mouth moving wetly against his.

He sagged against her, crushing her into the mattress in a way that Natasha usually didn’t like but tolerated now. He made muffled humming noises as the kiss deepened, and his hips rolled almost lazily against hers.

When Valkyrie reached between them, making them still and part slightly, Loki grumbled in protest but groaned when she grasped his hard dick and laid it flat against the front of Natasha’s panties.

“Can you feel that?” Valkyrie murmured. “The way she’s soaking those panties.” She couldn’t see them herself, but she didn’t need to. She knew Natasha and how messy her arousal could get. “Do you think we could get you excited enough to soak the other side?”

He moaned, soft and breathy, then seemed to rally his control again. “My, you certainly think highly of yourselves. You spend so much time telling me what you could do, one begins to wonder if you’re actually capable.”

Natasha slapped him. The sound of her palm striking his cheek echoed in the room like the bang of a gun. Although it startled Valkyrie, it didn’t startle her nearly as much as it apparently did Loki, who went rigid and gaped at Natasha.

Norns, Valkyrie thought, shuddering as pleasure bloomed in her abdomen. Hit him harder next time.

But Natasha didn’t slap him again. She only lifted an eyebrow and said, “What? You didn’t think I’d do it, even after you’d just taunted me? What’s your safe word, again?”

Loki blinked down at her for several seconds and then glanced at Valkyrie, who grinned and ran one hand down his spine. The touch surprised him just as much as the slap, making his whole body jolt like it’d been hit with an electric blast, even though he’d watched her do it and surely had seen the contact coming even before she’d made it.

“Mistletoe,” he said, looking back to Natasha.

“Good,” said Natasha, and although she didn’t so much as acknowledge Valkyrie kneeling beside them, somehow Valkyrie knew that was a cue.

Or perhaps she just hoped it was. Regardless, she leaned until she could reach Loki’s neck and bit the side of it, holding only enough of her strength back that she didn’t break skin. He jolted again, but the cry he let out—as much bliss as shock—was beautiful and only served to spur her on. She bit again, lower this time, closer to the shoulder, then again over his shoulder blade. With each cry, he arched into the pain, practically begging for more.

Valkyrie had to stretch and contort a bit to reach the sensitive skin of his nape, but it was worth it. The moment her teeth sank in, he collapsed onto Natasha with a low, keening moan as if in that one simple move Valkyrie had rendered him as weak and helpless as a newborn kitten.

“Oh,” said Natasha, “he likes that. Keep that up.”

There were only so many times Valkyrie could bite the same spot, though, before she got bored, so she trailed her mouth down his back instead, leaving angry red rings in her wake. She considered going lower, marking up his ass as well, but decided against it. They would get to that soon enough.

Loki was breathing heavily, still lying flat on Natasha, who looked amused.

“Is he making a mess yet?” Valkyrie asked.

“Oh yeah. He’s dripping.” Natasha tucked a piece of his hair behind his ear. “Easy.”

He lifted himself onto shaky forearms and hauled himself to a seated position, his face flushed. “Is that it, then?” he said haughtily, as though he hadn’t just left whitish smears on Natasha’s panties. “A safe word”—he sneered—“for a bit of teeth and filthy words?”

“And just for that,” Natasha said, sitting up as well, “you get even more gentleness.”

The kiss she gave him was positively sweet, even loving, her hands holding his jaw so tenderly, and she kept it up even when Loki snarled and tried to fend her off. Valkyrie joined her, kneeling next to them and brushing her lips against his earlobe.

“Shh,” she said, and he may not have liked it, but he still shivered at the rush of her breath against his skin. She kissed his neck, putting only the tiniest bit of space between her mouth and the first bite mark she’d left. “I tried to warn you. Way back at the beginning. She likes control.”

Natasha drew back and nuzzled his sternum instead, and Loki took advantage of his unoccupied lips to say, “There are words for someone like that.”

“Yeah?” Valkyrie said. “Is one of them ‘hot’?”

He huffed, but he’d stopped fighting, sitting still as Natasha licked down to his abs. Valkyrie took his mouth, keeping him quiet, forcing him to feel. He jerked away with a gasp, though, when Natasha sucked his cock down her throat.

Valkyrie would have liked to watch that more closely, how easily she took Loki’s full length, how plump her lips looked as she dragged them up and down the shaft, but Valkyrie kept her focus on Loki, kissing him, touching his face and shoulders. She tried to stay soft and gentle, but her hands strayed almost without her knowledge to his back, skimming over the bite marks, which had gone hot and swollen.

The little hint of pain seemed to draw him in and settle him. He whimpered and leaned into her, kissing Valkyrie just as sweetly as Natasha had kissed him. His knuckles brushed against her arm, so faintly and shaking slightly like he was only testing whether he could.

When Natasha pulled off and sat back on her heels, wiping her mouth, Loki bit his lip and looked at her. Valkyrie could see him mentally scrambling for his composure, trying to seem just as calm and only slightly affected as Natasha did.

“I would have thought you’d pretend to be above such a thing,” he said.

Natasha barely blinked. “I’m full of surprises.” To Valkyrie, she said, “The rubber one, I think.”

Valkyrie didn’t know what “rubber” was, exactly, but she could hazard a guess. She climbed off the bed, went to Natasha’s closet, and found the items hanging on the wall. She chose the flogger that wasn’t leather but a sort of shiny, lighter material that felt as though it would sting quite badly.

It had been ages, quite literally, since she’d wielded a flogger, and she’d never wielded this particular one. The sensible, responsible part of her, which had been raising its head more and more since she’d been on Earth and sober, had concerns about that, but Natasha apparently didn’t share them. “You were a Valkyrie and he’s a god,” she’d said in the car. “Even if I didn’t trust your aim, I’ve seen him recover from the Hulk slamming him around like a rag doll.”

When Valkyrie turned back, Loki was crawling backward to the end of the bed with Natasha’s help, her hand on his chin keeping him from glancing back and seeing what Valkyrie was doing.

Watching Loki’s pale and unmarked ass coming closer and closer, Valkyrie was nearly vibrating with anticipation. She wanted this with a fierceness that was almost frightening and in a way she didn’t completely understand.

Nor, she thought, did she care to try to. It was Natasha’s flogger she was using, after all. Whatever she felt, at least she wasn’t alone in it.

When Loki came to a stop, Natasha sat in front of him, her legs tucked under her, and said, “We’ll start on your hands and knees, like this. If you need to go lower and rest your limbs, let me know.”

“That won’t be necessary,” he said.

The bravado in his voice was plain to hear, and it made Valkyrie grin and long to snap him like a twig. If it was pain that calmed him, made him agreeable and pliant, then she would flog him until he couldn’t manage words at all.

He practically jumped out of his skin when she touched his hips to shift them, and Natasha had to grab his chin again to keep him from turning.

“You didn’t want to know what we were going to do,” Natasha reminded him. “I thought you meant even beyond just that moment. Did I misunderstand?”

“No.” There was a pause. “Does Barton know the sort of things you’re interested in? Do any of your friends? I can’t imagine what they would think of this.”

Natasha rolled her eyes, and Valkyrie did as well before she gave the flogger an experimental flick into the air. She didn’t think about the noise it would make until Loki jumped again and let out a strangled sound.

Valkyrie covered her mouth to muffle her snicker, and Natasha broke into a genuine smile. “I don’t care about their sex lives,” she said, “and I’m sure they don’t care about mine.”

Except maybe Tony, Valkyrie thought but didn’t voice it. Instead, she said, “You have your safe word, but for this time at least, I’m going to go ahead and honor anything that sounds like ‘no,’ ‘stop,’ and so on.”

He tried again to look over his shoulder, and again Natasha stopped him, this time snapping, “Loki,” so harshly that even Valkyrie flinched. Then, not wanting to waste any more time with talking, she flicked the flogger once more, relishing the way Loki still jumped, although she hadn’t hit him yet, but went otherwise still and quiet.

She took three practice swings, aiming at his ass but not making contact, more out of a desire to keep messing with Loki’s head than any true need for practice. Natasha had been right. It was easy enough for her to get a feel for the weight and the range of it.

One more practice swing, near enough that he could surely feel the movement of the air against his skin, and Loki sighed, frustrated, “Oh, for—”

Valkyrie hit him in the center of his right ass cheek, and his yelp—out of surprise more than anything, she thought, since it had been a light swing—was one of the most satisfying noises she’d ever heard. His body rocked forward enough that Natasha had to catch him by the shoulders and keep him steady.

Giving him no time to recover, Valkyrie aimed for the left cheek this time and struck him just as lightly. She didn’t know what sort of punch this flogger packed—not to mention they’d not given him much of a warmup—and thus resorted to starting weakly, building strength as Loki proved he could handle it.

No, not just handle it. Want it. And he did seem to want it. Once the initial shock had passed, he was shoving his ass back, inviting the blows, and the cries he made reminded Valkyrie of when he’d fucked Natasha. Long and whining, pained and yet undeniably blissful. She hit him harder, and he pressed his face into Natasha’s shoulder and sobbed.

Eventually, he went silent, upper body sagging slightly, and Valkyrie made herself stop. She realized only as awareness descended on her like a rainstorm that she’d gone into her own head. She felt now that her arm was complaining about the repetitive movement, that she was throbbing and wet between her thighs, and that her breathing was fast.

She felt…drunk, she thought. No, not drunk. The world was too focused, too vivid for that, but it was good in the way that inebriety was.

Loki’s ass was a mottled palette of reds, and he was trembling, somehow managing to cling to Natasha even without using his arms.

“All right?” Valkyrie asked.

Natasha was the one who nodded, while Loki moaned and swayed.

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Natasha murmured, stroking his hair from his face. “All those endorphins. You’re wishing we’d done this from the beginning, aren’t you?”

He moaned again, more weakly, and lowered himself slowly, shakily, his head in Natasha’s lap but his ass still lifted. “Don’t stop,” he said.

Valkyrie wanted a break, actually. A chance to appreciate what she’d done to him and revel in how it felt. She came closer and set the flogger on the mattress to Loki’s left, then ran her fingers over the bruising skin. He jerked once with a whimper but stayed still otherwise, allowing her to stroke back and forth over the lines the flogger’s tails had left on his ass.

“I can beg if I must,” Loki said, more strongly. He turned his head and glanced over his shoulder. His eyes were half-lidded but sharp. “Is that what you want? To hear me beg to be hurt more? I—”

Valkyrie borrowed from Natasha’s repertoire and smacked him to shut him up, her palm striking him in the middle of one wounded ass cheek. He buried his face again with a wail. She examined the welts, not being kind or gentle, digging her fingers and even her nails in whenever possible and drawing all kinds of tortured noises from his throat.

She wished she could have seen his face. And from how intensely Natasha watched her poke and prod, she guessed Natasha wished she could see the view Valkyrie had. But there would be other times—she felt fairly confident about that now.

Loki wiggled his hips, and something about the motion drew Valkyrie’s attention away from his ass cheeks and to the cleft between them. That was part of their plan too, and even though it might be skipping ahead a bit…

She spread him open until she could see the sprinkling of wiry black hair that surrounded his asshole. So small and tightly shut, although it visibly clenched as she stared at it. Intentional? Involuntary? It didn’t matter. She licked one of her thumbs and swiped it along his perineum first before she pressed it to the wrinkled rim.

He shivered but didn’t make so much as a sigh as Valkyrie stroked back and forth over it.

“Okay?” she asked.

Natasha looked down at Loki and, when he didn’t answer, said, “Loki, what’s your safe word?”

That got a reaction. He lifted his head with a snarl. “Damn you,” he bit out. “I don’t need a safe word. I am perfectly—”

Valkyrie slipped the tip of her thumb inside, and he cut off with a groan. When he glanced over his shoulder again, there was no mistaking the want in his expression, no matter how much he tried to hide it. I despise you for doing this, he seemed to say, but please, don’t stop.

Natasha tapped his cheek, half smiling. “Safe word,” she said.

He licked his lips, still watching Valkyrie. “Mistletoe.”

“And you don’t need to use it right now?”

He shook his head and turned away, and Natasha scooted backward.

“Good,” she said. “I’m going to get something from the closet to make this a little easier. I’ll be right back.”

He said nothing, only moaned haltingly as Valkyrie wriggled her thumb a tiny bit deeper. He was warm inside—not hot, not as she’d been expecting, but warm—and snug. She could hear Natasha rummaging behind her but, knowing what she was doing, paid little attention. Her clit ached. If she’d had a dick, she thought, she might have been tempted to just thrust right into him.

Then Natasha appeared beside her, a bottle of lube in one hand, which she gave to Valkyrie, and the harness in the other, which she kept for herself. Valkyrie withdrew her thumb, flipped open the cap of the bottle, and drizzled her pointer and middle fingers with the cool, clear liquid.

He preferred the slickness, if his sighed “ohh” as she slid one finger inside was any indication. His head snapped up, although he kept his gaze forward, and the way he panted more than breathed said his jaw had dropped, his mouth wide open.

“Jeez,” Natasha muttered, having paused to finally remove her tank top and her panties. “Now that’s a sight.”

Yes, it was. The welts and marooning blotches on his ass, the still-red bites on his back, and his hole loosening up for Valkyrie’s finger. She gave him a second one, and he accepted it with the same breathy “ohh” as the first.

When Natasha nudged her, gesturing with her head as though to say Go, I’ve got this, Valkyrie almost didn’t want to stop. But she also recognized that she’d gotten her fun; now Natasha could get hers.

She slipped her fingers free and laughed when Loki griped, “Just get it over with. You’re going to fuck me, yes? There’s no reason—”

He shut up quickly when Valkyrie joined him on the bed, and she realized after a moment that he’d probably expected Natasha to return, not her.

She’s going to fuck you,” Valkyrie told him cheerfully. “Yes.”

She didn’t take up the exact same place Natasha had been in, sitting back a little farther so that Loki was in front of her rather than in her lap. He stared at her dumbly while, behind him, Natasha attached the dildo and buckled the harness around her hips.

“Are you embarrassed?” Valkyrie said, tickled at the idea that that was why he was still looking at her like that. “Because now two people get to look into your face and see exactly how much of a slut you are for what we’re doing to you?”

“Don’t be insulting,” he snapped.

“Oh, I’m really not. Do you know, I think it’s actually your best quality.”

“Too high,” said Natasha. “Come down and put your feet on the floor.”

Loki complied, but not quite quickly enough for Natasha, who grabbed his thighs and yanked him flat on his stomach. Valkyrie would have appreciated another yelp, but he only hissed and glared over his shoulder like a furiously offended cat.

“If you’re going to bark orders,” he said, “at least wait for me to follow them.”

Natasha, slicking up the dildo, didn’t answer, and he turned back to Valkyrie, his cheeks red.

“Big, isn’t it?” Valkyrie said, scooting closer. “Are you sure you can handle it?”

She realized only after she’d moved that by scooting her ass across the bed, her legs splayed open, she’d basically flashed her cunt to Loki. He seemed spellbound by the sight, staring with his lips parted hungrily.

“You’ve had nothing,” he said, fluttering his lashes coquettishly at her. “Given so much but taken nothing since we’ve been in here. You—”

But then Natasha shoved the tip of the dildo into his ass, and he could only moan, his hands scrambling at the sheets like he needed something to hold on to.

Valkyrie hadn’t planned on it—had in fact intended just to keep an eye on him like Natasha had done—but the sight of him, wordless and desperate, as his hole was filled was temptation enough. Legs wide, Valkyrie shimmied even lower until her vulva was so close he could probably smell it.

He reacted like he’d been expecting it, diving in and bathing her labia, her clit, everything he could reach with his tongue. Not good enough. She clutched his hair and held him where she wanted, made him lick right over her swollen clit where it felt the sweetest, where it made her thighs tremble and her cunt flutter. He moaned, and it felt even sweeter.

She watched Natasha, who watched back, thrusting so gently, almost languidly, into Loki. Valkyrie realized it was as much for her sake as for his: Natasha not wanting to risk distracting or jostling him too much and interrupting. That, as much as the sight and the knowledge that they had him quite literally between them, was enough to send Valkyrie over the edge.

When she was done, she tugged his hair to lift him and scooted lower, until he could cling to her, if he wanted, and hide his face in her shoulder like he’d done to Natasha. She didn’t actually expect him to, at least not immediately, but he did. He wrapped himself around her, pressed his face into her neck. As soon as he was there, Natasha picked up the pace and started to pound into him in earnest.

It was both brutal and beautiful. Natasha fucked him hard enough that he and Valkyrie, not to mention the entire bed, were jolted with it. Valkyrie found herself digging her nails into Loki’s back for purchase, and he went quickly from muffling soft cries against her skin to full-throated wails.

Inspired, she clawed up his spine, her fingernails occasionally catching on the still-puffed bite marks, and he fell silent and just shook against her. Ah. It’s a good thing when he goes quiet, she thought, feeling a dribble of warmth near her belly button and realizing his cock was leaking onto her.

She scratched him again, even harder, and he twitched and lifted his head. His eyes were unfocused, his pupils wide.

“I bet it hurts, doesn’t it?” she said. “Her hips are slapping right against the welts I gave you.”

Loki’s face twisted, and she thought for a terrible second that he was actually going to cry, but he didn’t. He only gave a single guttural moan, his eyes squeezing shut, before he went silent again.

“Can you come like this?” she asked.

He shook his head, his lips going tight and small. Maybe it was an effect of that moment when she’d thought he was about to cry, but suddenly she felt…protective. Possessive. Tender like they were actual lovers who shared something more than, well, this.

She kissed his temple and sank her fingers into his hair, digging the nails into his scalp. He shuddered and dropped his head to her shoulder.

“Good,” Valkyrie told him. “You’re taking her cock so well.” Then, when he trembled harder, letting out a series of quiet wounded noises: “That’s it. It feels so good, doesn’t it?”

“Please,” he said, panting into her skin. “Please, I…”

“You want to come?” said Natasha. She was gripping his hips, driving him back onto her cock at the same time that she fucked into him.

“Please,” he said, practically sobbing—which, somehow, made Valkyrie keen to push just a little harder.

“Switch me,” she said.

“No!” Loki said frantically, raising his head. His face was red, his eyes wide. “No, you misunderstand me.”

Valkyrie laughed, and—yes, maybe it was a bit like being drunk, she thought. That feeling of invincibility, of boundless confidence. Except there was no blurring the edges here; if anything, she felt even sharper, hyperaware. And she would remember this when she woke up tomorrow.

“No,” she said. “I understand you perfectly. I still want to be back there.”

Although Loki grumbled and groaned in protest, they switched, Natasha handing over the strap-on. Valkyrie didn’t wear it, though. She worked the dildo free and dropped the harness on the floor.

“She’s going to want you in me,” Natasha said, taking Valkyrie’s place under Loki.

Valkyrie paused, still holding the dildo. She hadn’t been intending that, actually, although she knew why Natasha thought so. The fantasy she’d shared during their phone conversation, of Valkyrie fucking Natasha with Loki’s body. She hadn’t forgotten the idea—but other things had taken its place.

But if Natasha was willing to take Loki’s cock again, Valkyrie certainly wasn’t going to argue.

“Do I have a say in this?” said Loki, although he sounded weak, shaky, not at all like he usually did.

“You’re not thinking very clearly, are you?” Natasha said. “We’ve had this conversation before.”

“You have a say,” Valkyrie added. “It’s called a safe word. If you want to use it…”

The only response Loki gave was a whining “uhnm” with an aborted thrust of his hips as Natasha eased his prick inside her.

“Hold still,” Natasha said, uncharacteristically gentle. She stroked his hair when he struggled to comply. Valkyrie wondered if she felt it too: that odd sort of tenderness toward him now that they’d so very, very nearly broken him.

His asshole was gaping now, puffy and still slick from Natasha’s fucking. When Valkyrie pressed the tip of the dildo to the rim, it slipped in easily with a squelch that made her start to ache again. Loki took the full length in one smooth slide with an arch of his spine and a long, rapturous groan.

When she let go of the base and the toy began to fall out, she realized the problem with her plan.

“Can you keep that in somehow?” she asked.

Loki sighed, the muscles in his back tensing. The light played over his skin, and Valkyrie realized that she had broken skin with her nails before. Lines tipped with blood mingled with plain red, swollen scratches and the ringed bruises from her teeth. The sight both satisfied her and made her hungrier.

When she let go of the base again, the dildo stayed in place.

“The spell won’t hold for long,” he said, his voice ragged. “If my concentration slips…”

“That’s fine,” she assured him, reaching for the flogger. “Just as long as you can.”

She ran the tails through her fingers, marveling that it already felt familiar, that she thought it might end up being her favorite of Natasha’s toys no matter how good the others were.

“If you hit me by accident,” Natasha said, shooting Valkyrie a forbidding look over Loki’s shoulder, “we’re going to have problems.”

“Oh, Norns,” Loki moaned, sounding strangled, probably realizing what Valkyrie had in mind. “Oh, fuck.”

“You know your safe word,” Valkyrie reminded him, and Natasha rocked her hips, clutching at his back, adding, “You can come whenever you want.”

Valkyrie hit him, and he wailed, jerking in Natasha’s arms, his hips thrusting, driving his cock deeper into her. He did the same when Valkyrie flogged him again, and again, falling into a figure-eight movement of her arm, back and forth, striking one cheek and then the other, as effortlessly as if she’d been doing it for years.

The dildo slipped out eventually and plopped onto the floor, but Valkyrie ignored it and struck him again. The welts on his ass, already a maroon-like red, darkened to purple in places and even deeper, an almost blackish shade.

He went silent just moments before he came, humping frantically into Natasha twice before his whole body seemed to swell and heave with his pleasure. Valkyrie stopped and let the flogger fall beside the harness. She pushed her groin against his ass, felt the heat of his beaten skin against her own, and he let out a startled cry and pressed back against her.

“Good boy,” Natasha murmured, at the same time that Valkyrie crooned, “That’s it. Fill her up.”

He rocked back and forth between them as he came down and then collapsed, gasping, against Natasha.

Valkyrie joined them on the bed and reached for his shoulder. He shrugged her away and, with a grunt, lifted himself off Natasha and rolled to the opposite side.

“A moment,” he said. He was trembling, Valkyrie saw, and his eyes were red and bright. “Just…a moment.” When they both remained where they were, watching him warily, he snapped, “Don’t stare!”

At a loss for anything else to look at, Valkyrie gazed down at Natasha. Her skin was flushed where he’d been lying, and her legs were still spread, her cunt loose and so, so wet. With her own wetness, yes, but also—even if it hadn’t dribbled out quite yet—with Loki’s come.

“Might as well,” Natasha said, her mind apparently having gone in the exact same place as Valkyrie’s.

Taking care to use the hand she hadn’t fucked Loki with, Valkyrie shoved four fingers into her as Natasha sighed with pleasure. Valkyrie felt Loki’s come, thick and sticky, and allowed herself a moment to dwell on it, to think This is where I made him come in her, before she ignored it and focused instead on the change in texture that marked Natasha’s sweet spot.

She ground her fingertips against it, more harshly than she intended. Natasha bucked with a groan, so she did it again, even more roughly. She felt like she was battering it, but Natasha started to rub her clit and came quickly, writhing against Valkyrie’s hand like she couldn’t get enough.

When they eventually separated, Loki was on his side, watching them. His expression was so raw, so unguarded, it hurt to look at.

“All right?” Valkyrie asked.

Before he could answer, Natasha said, “We need to put cream on his ass. Hang on.” She climbed off the bed and disappeared out the doorway.

Valkyrie turned back to Loki, who looked at her like she was the shore and he was a boat at sea, adrift but hopeful. I guess we did it, she thought. We broke him. And now we need to put him together again.

“Can I come over there?” she said.

He moved his head in something that wasn’t quite a nod, but she decided to take it as one. As she was sidling closer, curling up beside him, Natasha returned, carrying a white tube.

“All right. Turn over and I’ll—”

“I don’t require ‘cream,’” he said, screwing up his face like the entire concept was deeply offensive. “I am not mortal. I don’t have your…fragilities.”

“Humor me,” Natasha said dryly.

“I think I’ve rather done enough of—”

Valkyrie sighed. “Just do it and stop being difficult. You’re ruining the afterglow.”

Loki wavered, no doubt trying to weigh whether it was worth it to give in so easily. Then, with a sullen purse of his lip, he rolled onto his stomach, folded his arms, and rested his head on them, facing Valkyrie. His churlish expression faltered the moment Natasha touched him, and soon his lids were lowered, his spine curving as he pushed his ass into Natasha’s fingers. If he were a cat, he might’ve been purring.

The urge to say See? Not so bad, is it? was great, but Valkyrie resisted.

When Natasha was finished, she set the tube aside and propped her hip on the edge of the mattress on Loki’s other side. “Turn. Give me some room.”

His eyes went wide and then narrowed, but he did as she demanded and rolled onto his side toward Valkyrie. As Natasha lay next to him, nearly spooning him, he glared at Valkyrie as though to say What in the Nine Realms is happening?

Valkyrie didn’t know, but she liked it and scooted just a bit closer so that Loki was mashed between them. Or would have been, if they’d been touching him more, but they were not, giving him space. If they’d tried to hold him, Valkyrie thought he might have panicked.

“Why are you doing this?” he said. There was as much bewilderment in his tone as there was suspicion.

Valkyrie knew what he meant, of course, but she could be difficult too. “Lying down. I’d think that would be obvious. Did I hit you too hard?”

“Don’t be tiresome. You know precisely what I mean. Why are you…here? Why bother with any of this? Why—”

Natasha interrupted him. “Because you’re letting us, mostly.”

Loki bristled, although Valkyrie didn’t know what could have offended him in such a mildly spoken statement. “Oh? Then I could just as easily not let you.”

He tried to sit up, and both Valkyrie and Natasha reached out to stop him.

“That wasn’t meant to be insulting,” Natasha said as he settled again, still scowling. “We approached you. You responded.”

“But why?” he said. Again, he started to sit up, and again, they stopped him, but this time as he lay back down he looked almost…frightened?

His back is turned to her, Valkyrie realized, and he doesn’t like it.

She inched backward until Loki had enough room to change positions, which he did, although he chose supine, which she hadn’t expected. He hissed and grimaced as his ass made contact with the bed.

“Undoing all that work I just did,” Natasha tsked, propping herself up on her elbow.

“Unnecessary work,” he said. “As I told you. Now answer my question.”

“Why did we approach you in the first place?” Valkyrie said, and he shot her a waspish glance that seemed to say Yes, of course, you idiot. What else could I mean? She had to stifle a smile. “Is that not…obvious? We wanted you.”

“It is not obvious,” he snapped. “It also doesn’t explain why you…wanted me in the first place. I have no illusions about what I am to either of you.” He looked at Natasha. “I killed your people, insulted you, threatened your realm with war, and harmed your friends.” His gaze swung to Valkyrie. “And you… I mocked your pain and behaved immeasurably cruelly towards you.”

“You did,” said Valkyrie, choosing her words carefully. This could go very, very wrong very, very quickly if she spoke without thinking. “But you also helped us defend Asgard when you could have slunk away instead. You could have left when that was done, but you’re staying on Earth and helping us rebuild.”

She’d chosen poorly, apparently, because that only seemed to incite him. He scrambled to get into a seated position, spitting as he said, “Do not try to pretend that you feel anything for me aside from tolerance and perhaps the barest sexual attraction.”

Natasha grabbed him and yanked him down with a strength that apparently surprised him, if his awed expression was anything to go by. “Calm down,” she said. “No one is confessing love for you, or anything like that.”

He flinched but at least stopped struggling. Valkyrie noticed that Natasha didn’t quite let go of him, keeping one hand on his forearm like she was fully prepared to keep dragging him back, no matter how many times it took, until they were finished.

“No,” Loki said, baring his teeth. “Of course not. Are either of you even capable of such emotions? An assassin and a spy, and an alcoholic bounty hunter.”

“And you’re a mass murderer and an egomaniac,” Natasha said, her tone flat. “Do you really want to play this game?”

Valkyrie jumped in before he could respond to the bait. “Look. I’m not going to lie. I like Natasha better than you. A lot better than you, actually. And I’m pretty sure she likes me a lot better than you. But part of that is because you try so hard to make yourself so damn unlikable.”

“Well. At least I’ve succeeded in something.” His voice was icy, his eyes even more so. “Is that why I am here, then? The best thing to do with an unlikable beast is to beat it until it is compliant?”

“Why are you here, Loki?” said Natasha. “You don’t trust us. You’re suspicious of our motivations. Yet you got on the jet with Valkyrie, you came here, to us. And not just then, but this morning too.”

He said nothing, looking from one of them to the other with his jaw tight, his expression guarded.

“Do you know what I think?” Valkyrie said, thinking back to what Korg had told her, beyond the part that had stuck out to her then and begun this whole thing. “You joined me and the other Asgardians even though it meant seeking refuge in a realm where everyone hates you. Your brother, your fiercest supporter, has little time for you now that he’s king, so you spend your days alone.”

“That is not—” Loki began, but Valkyrie talked over him.

“You died. Literally died, and came back, and finally realized how much time you’ve spent pushing everyone away. Then, when two people actually tried to draw you in for once, you liked it enough to not want it to stop. But you also don’t trust it. So instead of enjoying the fact that you have a woman on either side of you, happy to pay you attention for once, you’re lying there arguing with us.”

“I have told you,” he said, “repeatedly, that I will not be your pet. Nor will I be your—your loving third partner.”

“No one is asking you for that,” Natasha said.

“Then what do you want from me?” His voice cracked, and he sounded so genuinely distraught and confused, with no attempt to hide it, that it pained Valkyrie to hear it.

“Honestly? Just the same thing I ask of Valkyrie,” said Natasha. “For you to come here when you want to and leave when you need to. Anything beyond that is up to you, just like it was up to her.”

It was strange to realize that that really was what their relationship was. Natasha was happy when Valkyrie visited but never demanded it. There had been no explicit expectations, no boundaries. They had simply come together almost on a whim and continued to stay together because it worked.

And, she supposed, following that line of thought, when she had brought up Loki, Natasha had gone along for the same reason—because it seemed to work.

I adore you, Valkyrie thought, watching her. But it wasn’t nearly the right time to say so, so instead she said, “The truth is, this started as a random comment, a one-off masturbatory fantasy that just sort of…grew. I don’t know why. I don’t think Natasha even really understands.”

Natasha shook her head and added, sounding reluctant to admit it, “We just wanted to see what happened.”

“And it was good,” Valkyrie said. “The sex was great. The conversation needs a little work, but nothing is perfect.”

Loki was squinting at the ceiling now, deep in thought. Probably trying to find the lies, Valkyrie thought ruefully. “So,” he said eventually, “if I leave and do not return?”

“Then that’s it,” Natasha said. “We leave you alone.”

He wanted to say more. Valkyrie could feel it somehow, could almost hear the words sitting on his tongue. But he didn’t seem willing to speak them, so Valkyrie did it for him.

“And if you stay, or at least keep coming back, then…I guess we’ll keep seeing what happens.”

He stayed silent for much longer than Valkyrie would have liked, but she waited him out, as did Natasha. They looked at each other over him, Valkyrie trying to communicate Was that okay? and Natasha smiling back at her, a full sweet smile that made Valkyrie feel warm and at home.

Loki rolled onto his side, toward Valkyrie, although try as Valkyrie might she couldn’t quite read him. His face was impassive as a brick. The jerky, almost petulant, movement seemed clear enough though. Immediately, Natasha edged up behind him and spooned him properly this time. One arm went around his waist, her chin over his shoulder. Even though he rolled his eyes, Valkyrie couldn’t imagine that it wasn’t precisely what he’d been inviting.

“You needn’t…keep your distance,” he bit out, “out of some misguided fear of hurting me.”

“Why, Loki,” Natasha said, smirking, “are you asking me to rub against your ass?”

He huffed. “I am saying—”

But he shut up quickly when Natasha closed the distance she’d kept between their lower halves. The soft “unh” he let out was pained, but the “mmm” that followed was not.

“Slut,” Valkyrie told him playfully, joining them, throwing her arm over Natasha’s and huddling close.

“Brute,” said Loki, just as lightly.

“Children,” Natasha sighed, but there was humor and fondness in her tone.

They remained like that, the three of them cuddled together, for long enough that Valkyrie began to doze, warm and content.



They didn’t fuck again that day—although Valkyrie happily would have, especially with how gingerly Loki was moving and how he would pause occasionally, his lashes fluttering, like one of his wounds had just felt really good—and when she woke the next morning, the bed was back to its usual size and only she and Natasha were in it.

Again, she was disappointed but not surprised, and especially after yesterday, she didn’t think much of it. Loki would return if and when he wanted.

Instead, she turned her attention to Natasha, who was still sleeping beside her, facing away, a slight hunch to her shoulders. Valkyrie fucked her awake, filling her cunt from behind and making Natasha gasp and moan into the pillow.

Afterward, Natasha returned the favor, albeit more gently and with only one finger instead of three, and when Valkyrie came, rocking between Natasha’s hand and her own touch on her clit, Natasha kissed her neck and murmured, “God, I love the way you feel.”

Then, while Valkyrie recovered and toyed with the idea of continuing, Natasha lifted her head abruptly. “Do you smell…bacon?”

They threw on clothes and hurried to the living room, where Loki was on the sofa almost exactly as he had been yesterday morning: his legs under him, a book in his lap. The coffee table was covered in white containers this time, instead of bags, although the cups were the same: one in front of him and two on the other side.

“Finally,” he said, not looking up. He turned a page. “You’re finished. Did you enjoy yourselves?”

“If you’re going to hang around and listen to us have sex,” Valkyrie said, “you don’t get to complain about it.”

His smile was wicked, his eyes gleaming as they met hers. “Oh, that was not a complaint.”

“At least you got protein this time,” said Natasha. She was popping open the food containers one at a time; they were filled almost entirely with different types of eggs and meat. “Although you might have swung a little too far in the opposite direction.”

Loki sighed heavily and set his book aside. “So demanding. I’ll have to try even harder to meet your exacting expectations, I see.”

“Well, the good news is that since you’ve barely tried at all, there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Valkyrie sat on the sofa this time instead of the floor with Natasha, and although Loki seemed surprised, he didn’t comment on it.

“You paid for this, right?” Valkyrie asked. “You didn’t just…take it?”

He peered at her, his expression suggesting What do you take me for? Which wasn’t exactly an answer, although she let it go for now.

“I have been thinking,” he said. “If I am going to join your little group of heroes, then I have several requests.”

“My… The Avengers?” Natasha had been lifting her coffee to her lips, but she set it quickly down. “You’re not joining the Avengers. Valkyrie isn’t even part of the Avengers yet. That wasn’t what we were talking about yesterday.”

“Not now, certainly,” he said. “But after bringing me on as a ‘consultant,’ surely even the most dim-witted members of your team will see the value I can provide.”

“No one is bringing you on as a consultant,” Natasha said. “That was purely hypothetical.”

He ignored her. “If I can be ‘of use’ to you, wasn’t that it? I assure you, I am very useful. Training your witch, providing guidance on mystical matters, helping Stark improve his frankly appalling security measures, giving the two of you an outlet for your poorly repressed violent and controlling tendencies when we’ve nothing else on…among other things.”

Valkyrie took a drink, hiding her smile, happy for the moment just to watch the two of them go back and forth. He was playing with them, of course. Even if his tone was earnest, the barely-there upward quirk of his lips gave him away, just as the perfect arch of Natasha’s eyebrow gave away that she saw it too and was, perhaps despite herself, amused.

“Uh-huh,” she said. “And you have requests?”

“Of course. I am not, by nature, a person who excels in a team environment, so this would require a great deal of sacrifice on my part. It’s only fair that I be compensated for the difficulty. I shall provide my list of requests in writing…presuming, of course, that at least one of you can read.”

Natasha snorted. “That was weak, Loki. Your insults are usually at least passably clever.” She looked at Valkyrie. “We might have made a mistake with him.”

“Oh, you made a tremendous mistake,” he said airily. “And, even more unfortunately for you, when I tried to provide you with a convenient out, you refused to take it. So here we are.”

“Yes,” Valkyrie said. “Here we are.”