(A/N: I am not back. I promise you that. I want to be, but I just have too much stuff going on in my head for that to be a reality. I'm not really getting anything done with my life right now and I don't know when that is going to change, but when it does, I will be back to you good folks much more regularly. Anyway, I don't own the Avengers and I never will. This is ThunderFrost with just a touch of CapCoulson and Science Boyfriends. On with the show!)
The Scars of Asgard
Loki had joined the Avengers to finish up his punishment for the Manhattan incident. He had done so willingly and seemed genuinely happy to be a part of their team, to have them call him friend, and to be away from Asgard. They had not asked why, at least not to his face, and they had only received dark, worrying looks from Thor when they dared to ask him what had been done to his brother.
They had no idea what had happened until one particularly tough battle in which Loki was grievously injured whilst defending the downed Hawkeye and Black Widow. He had been unable to see to himself and so Bruce had taken up the task (once he had come back to himself of course) and had nearly lost control at what he found. The injuries from the battle were lacerations, three to his back and two more to his torso, all deep enough to warrant stitches. But what he found beneath blood soaked clothing were old injuries, skin shiny and red from burn scars and acid wounds, raised ropes of white scar tissue from lashings and cruel blades. There were no less than three permanently damaged bones in his left arm and hand and another four in his right leg and foot. Bruce, with shaking hands and little control to spare, had discovered severely damaged lungs and a half-functioning liver and wondered how the God had been able to fight at all.
"You are not well Doctor; does my brother's treatment not proceed as planned?" Thor asked and glanced between Bruce's green gaze and Loki's prone form. He hesitated for a brief moment before reaching out to smooth Loki's hair back, running his knuckles over a bruised jaw in a feather light gesture of affection.
"You should have told me. You…you should have told me. Do you know what happens to the Hulk when someone hurts 'the Little Green God'? He gets defensive, and defensive is worse than angry. Right now…" Bruce swallowed thickly and was grateful that Tony was not there to see him in such a state. "He wishes to tear Asgard down stone by stone until he finds the one that did this," Bruce said at last and blinked hard as his eyes turned a slightly brighter shade of green.
"It was Odin's decree. Allfather believed that you would wish to see him punished," Thor said though there was a harsh bitter edge to his voice. Bruce shifted his gaze to the X-ray films and the pages and pages of stats from blood work and a number of other tests before turning back to look at Thor.
"The Hulk couldn't break a single bone in your brother's body when he beat him into the floor like a rag doll. Not a single thing we did was capable of marking him…and here…there is such damage. I don't know yet whether it can be reversed, Tony is working on finding specialists…He didn't deserve this. How…how does he keep going?" Bruce said as he felt himself breaking down, anger giving way to desperation. The Hulk had few favorite people, Tony by virtue of their relationship, Agent Coulson for sheer determination, and Hawkeye for his fearlessness when it came to the Hulk and Loki because he was also harboring a monster within him. In that sense the Hulk tolerated Thor because Loki loved Thor and Thor loved Loki and they made each other happy.
"His magic carries him through. A Jötunn is a tough creature to kill, and though Loki resents the blood and fears the monster within him, it keeps him alive. When we are alone, my brother wears the form of his blood right and that eases his pain somewhat. He would not have the rest of you look on him as a monster and so this is the way he chooses to be much of the time," Thor said as he caressed the side of Loki's face, not worried that his brother did not wake. He had been told that Loki ought to be kept asleep for some of the testing and so he had agreed.
"The Hulk wants me to remind you that he is welcome among the group. Loki is no different. If it eases his pain then he should do it. He will still be Loki. He will always be Loki," Bruce assured and forced a smile when Tony ducked into the room. But Tony was observant and Bruce's green eyes were a pretty good tell. The billionaire walked over and wrapped the doctor in his arms, briefly planting a kiss against dark hair before checking Loki's vitals himself.
"Fury will not allow us to allocate SHIELD funds for his treatment. So I told him where he could stick his appropriations budget and got us the best I could find. Just don't answer any calls from Dick Fury for the next…ever. I may or may not have burned that bridge," Tony said and the pun on their commander's name was enough to break the cycle of the Hulk's anger. Thor smiled and took the chair beside Loki's bed, carefully clasping his brother's hand.
"Thank you man of iron for your willingness to help, and you Doctor, for your wisdom," the blonde man said softly as he laid his head beside Loki's arm, watching their joined hands. Bruce ushered Tony away so that they could gather the information that their new specialist would need.
Days later much of the team was in the main living room, eyes glued to the television for a rather high-stakes set of hockey games (not that they gambled, of course not) when Phil Coulson walked in, pitched his SHIELD credentials into the fireplace and kicked Clint out of the space next to Steve. The archer merely perched on the arm of Natasha's chair and went right back to watching the game. Steve wrapped his arm tightly around his boyfriend and readied himself for a lengthy conversation as soon as the game was over.
The only one that acknowledged Thor and Loki at first was Tony who was manning the bar. He made a brief quip about Loki's favorite Mountain Dew being the same color as his skin before providing said God with a can of said Mountain Dew and a bag of Doritos and waving the pair of them out of his line of sight. He had about five grand that said the Bruins were going to trounce the Rangers in the exhibition game on the left side of the screen and 6 more that said the Blackhawks were going to make mincemeat of the Hurricanes in the exhibition game on the right side of the screen. He really didn't want to hear it if the Bruins lost, he'd had quite enough of being called a traitor to New York and wanted validation fiercely.
Bruce pulled himself away from cheering for a particularly amazing shot on the Ranger's goalkeeper long enough to assess the state of Loki's injuries. Though blue and quite cool to the touch, he still bore the injuries he'd gotten in battle and the scars he had received in Asgard, though he did seem much more comfortable than before. Once he was certain that Jötunn skin reacted the same way to salve as human skin did, he leaned back and returned to the game.
"So…" Clint's eyes were fixed on Loki in consideration of an unflattering nickname and the God smirked "Does being big and blue exempt you from basic hair care…or does Thor just like the windswept look in oversized smurfs?" the archer said and Loki narrowed his eyes before reaching out and poking the side of Clint's neck with one frigidly cold finger, earning a yelp and a reflexive twitch of the head from the other man.
"I don't know, does the Widow prefer her men to yelp like puppies?" Loki retorted and Natasha snorted in laughter, pulling Clint back to his perch before he could further lose face. Loki sat back against Thor and smiled, comfortable at last among his teammates and with the help of his specialist, on his way to recovery from what Odin had done to him. Even back on Asgard he had never felt such a part of a family as he did with the Avengers and that healed more wounds than he could count.
He had already readied himself for a stream of comments about him rigging games in favor of the teams he liked because it would not be long before they worked out that he could manipulate ice, winter was coming after all. And because he wasn't above cheating when it suited him, he had a title to uphold.
The games ended a short while later with a triumphant 'Ha' from Tony and Bruce and nearly all of the Avengers feeling an empty pit where their bank accounts used to be.
(A/N: And my love of Hockey rears its head once again. I do not own any rights to the Bruins, the Rangers, the Blackhawks, or the Hurricanes. I am just looking forward to seeing them play. I almost put the Bluejackets in there…but after the season CBJ had last year…I felt it might be cruel. Anyway, I know that it might not be up to par, but I have never covered Jötunn Loki before and felt that this was a good way to do it. Tell me what you thought.)