I've never written anything like this before, so my apologies if it's not very good. I am madly in love with Loki and the Avengers, and I've been writing like crazy lately (mostly because I'm stressed out about school and college.) Here it is!

Tony Stark opened another bottle of scotch, much to Steve's disapproval.

"Another one won't kill me, Spangles."

"Keep thinking like that and you'll die of liver cancer."

Rain beat on the windows, glistening in the moonlight as Tony took a long gulp. "Lighten up, Debbie Downer. Why don't you have a drink?"

"Not really my thing, Tony. And anyway that stuff has little to no measurable effect on me."

Tony made a noise of mock horror. "Sentenced to a lifetime of sobriety. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

"I'd wish it on you. When was the last time you were sober three days straight?"

"Erm..." Tony realized he didn't have an answer. "Don't know, Cap. I tend to block out unpleasant memories."

"You mean you can't remember that far back."

"Oh, give it a rest," Tony sighed as he returned to his computer screen. "The stuff helps me think."

Steve snorted. "I'm sure."

"Hey, studies show-"

"Yeah, yeah, you've told me. But I think they meant a glass at dinner, not three bottles an hour."

"Semantics," Tony retorted, already lost in planning the new rapid-fire laser for his iron suit. They lapsed into a comfortable silence, Steve working hard on the newspaper crossword while Tony designed his weapon. Tony had tried to explain to Steve how the thing operated, but the captain had quickly lost interest, cutting Tony off at the first available opportunity.

Some time later, both men were startled by a distant thud - it sounded like an impact on the roof - that rattled the equipment and made the lights flicker. Tony looked up in annoyance. "If Thor's making it thunder again because he and Jane are-"


"What? He almost destroyed several airplanes the last time Mjolnir got too excited."

"Keep it clean, Tony. And I don't think that was thunder; it was more like something hitting the roof."

"Why are you always right?" Tony reached for the scotch. Steve snatched it away. "Don't get your spandex in a knot," Tony grumbled. He reluctantly followed Steve from the lab.

Torrents of rain lashed the tower as Tony and Steve emerged onto the roof, squinting through the storm to see what, if anything, had landed. Lightning flashed, and Steve had a momentary glimpse of a human-like figure sprawled on the concrete.

"Hey, Tony! Over here!" he yelled, stopping in horror once he reached the body.

Blood ran in watery rivers from deep gashes across the man's face, chest, and arms, all of which were bare and covered in cuts and bruises. Unnaturally pale skin was stretched alarmingly tight over a gaunt, bony frame. His only clothing was a tattered, bloodied pair of black pants, through which Steve and Tony could see more injuries. His eyes were closed even though he shivered violently in the cold rain.

"Who is he?" Tony said hoarsely. "And how the hell did he end up on my roof?"

Steve had bent over to examine the man's face; he drew up sharply. "Tony."

"I mean, unless he fell from the sky? 'Cause the government does weird stuff, but even SHIELD doesn't just go dropping bodies-"

"Tony." The billionaire stopped. Steve was using his official voice. His listen-to-me-or-I'll-lecture-you-on-American-values voice. A good cue to shut up.

"It's Loki."

"What?! Loki? How in the name of - Thor never - how do you know it's him?"

Steve gestured to the man's face, and with a jolt Tony recognized the graceful, aquiline form, still visible in spite of the emaciation. Inky black hair splayed out onto the concrete, wet with rain and blood. Tony's heart missed a beat at the battered grey muzzle still clamped over the haggard face.

"Steve... the muzzle..."

"I know."

"How did... why is he on my roof? What is going on here?"

"No idea. Looks like he's not had the kindest treatment since Thor took him back," Steve said, and Tony heard indignation in his voice.

"You seriously feel sorry for Real Power here? I mean, the whole beat him up with his mouth glued shut is horrible, but he did try to kill us and take over Manhattan a year ago."

"I know, Tony. I was there. But Thor said he'd face fair justice. If this is what Asgard calls fair..."

Tony swallowed. He'd wanted to punch Loki's conceited face many times since the invasion, but he had to admit Steve was right. This was wrong. The memory of his torture in Afghanistan burned on the edges of his mind.

Steve crouched beside Loki's trembling body. "Hey? Loki? Can you hear me?" He pressed his hand to Loki's neck, feeling for his pulse. Loki's eyes shot open, filled with terror when he saw Steve above him. He made a strangled choking noise, hastily crawling backwards before collapsing on his injured arms, face drawn with pain.

"Whoa, there, Dasher," Tony said quickly, caught off guard by Loki's reaction. "We're the good guys." Loki's terrified eyes flashed between the two of them, his body tensed; wanting to run but in too much pain to move. Steve held up his hands.

"You don't have to be afraid of us. We won't hurt you. You look like you need help pretty badly." There was a note of pity in Steve's commanding voice. Loki didn't seem at all assured; Steve's words seemed to only frighten him more. His bare, bleeding chest rose and fell at too rapid a rate, air wheezing through his nose. Skeletal hands shook in their death grip on the concrete. "Tony, go get a gurney," Steve ordered.

Tony obeyed instantly, unable to stand the sight of Loki cowering. It reminded him to forcefully of his own ordeal in Afghanistan. He had a horrible feeling that whatever Loki just endured was much, much worse.

Steve moved a little closer to Loki. "You don't have to be afraid of us, okay? We're just trying to help." Loki shook his head, almost involuntarily, then flinched, backing away several more feet. Steve's stomach twisted into an uncomfortable knot. What happened the the proud, embittered god who had fought them with so much contempt only a year before? "Look, I can see you're scared, but all I want to do is get you out of the rain and look at those injuries. If you stay out here, you'll get sick. It's too cold."

Tony reappeared with a gurney. Loki eyed the two of them, terror in his eyes, before releasing a little tension in a subtle, wary acquiescence to Steve's request. Steve approached the trembling god slowly, keeping his hands in view. He slid his arms under Loki's knees and shoulders, trying not to be affected by the way Loki cringed horribly at his touch or how he shook like a cornered animal when Steve carried him, hardly relaxing when he was lowered onto the gurney. Tony quickly wheeled him inside, throwing a blanket over his quivering body as they entered the elevator.

Bright lights greeted them in the infirmary, and Loki grimaced, screwing his eyes shut at the flourescent glare.

"Jarvis, put the place on low lighting, will you?" Tony said to the air, the Artificial Intelligence system obliging as the bright glare reduced to a muted glow. Loki relaxed very slightly, eyes cracking open to observe the two men.

"Uh- I need to pick you up," Steve said with hesitation, afraid to scare Loki more than he had already. "Is that okay?" Loki's eyes flashed to Steve's face, making contact for a split second before averting to the ground. He gripped the gurney, shaking, then, after several moments, gave a curt nod. Steve slipped his arms under the trickster god, biting his lip at the involuntary flinch, and lifted Loki onto the hospital bed. Loki quickly shifted to the far side, putting as much distance as possible between himself and the two Avengers. Tony and Steve looked at each other. The next part wouldn't be easy.

"Loki-" Tony began, searching for the words least likely to frighten the wounded god, "I know you hate people touching you and everything, but Steve and I really need to clean you up." New fright leapt into Loki's emerald eyes, mixed with something else - confusion. Loki backed onto the very edge of the bed, shaking his head furiously as his hands trembled.

"It's all right, Loki, we don't want to hurt you, okay? But you have broken bones and you're bleeding all over the place. Please let us help you." Steve's voice was pleading, but Loki only appeared more terrified, eyes darting between him and Tony.

"If you think we're still sore over the whole take-over-Manhattan thing, then don't worry," Tony said quickly, "We're not. Clint already told us the Chitauri were at least partially controlling you, and this is more than anything you could have deserved. We're not holding anything against you." Steve's and Tony's frustration increased as Loki remained unconvinced, shaking and clutching the bed so hard that his knuckles were white.

Tony took Steve by the elbow and led him into the corner, where they could speak out of Loki's earshot. "Any ideas?" Tony muttered, glancing at the bed. Steve shook his head, looking queasy.

"I've never seen anything like this, Tony. People straight out of concentration camps were in better shape than him."

"Tell me about it. He looks like he's been through a sadistic meat grinder. I can't believe Thor would do this to his little brother. To anyone, for that matter."

"If I'd known this is what he'd get, I'd never have let Thor take him back. What he did here was not okay, but even Clint admitted that he obviously had severe family issues and that the Chitauri weren't exactly kind to him. Whatever he deserved, it wasn't... that."

Tony sighed. "So how do we get him to stop having a seizure every time we try to touch him?"

"I have no idea. If we had time, we might be able to show him that we're harmless... but he needs attention now. If we could at least get that muzzle off..."

They were both silent, Loki's ragged breathing the only sound in the room. He was still petrified against the head of the hospital bed, stiffening as Tony and Steve approached. Both were careful to keep their movements deliberate and visible, seating themselves several feet from the bed. Steve spoke first.

"I don't know what you think we're doing, Loki, but I swear we only want to help you. Whoever did this to you... is a monster. This is torture, and I don't care what anyone's done, that's never okay." Loki knit his eyebrows together in bemusement. Tony and Steve looked at him hopefully, but he still appeared unconvinced, and they didn't want to push him too much.

Tony asked a question that had been bothering him since they found the god. "Did this... happen to you in Asgard?"

Loki stared, nodding quickly, then cringed horribly as though expecting a blow for his admission. Tony and Steve were appalled. "Loki, you can be honest with us," Tony said cautiously. "We're not going to hurt you. I don't know what they say is okay in Asgard, but here it's not cool to torture people." Loki unbent slightly at his words, though he didn't seem to quite believe them.

"Did Thor-" Steve began, but at the mention of the thunder god, Loki made a gut-wrenching noise of fear, scrambing off the bed and into the corner, where the shrank against the wall, hugging his knees to his chest and covering his head with his scarred and lacerated arms. Steve tried to run forward, but Tony held him back. "Probably best not to talk about Asgard," he muttered as Loki cowered in the corner.

Steve collapsed back onto the chair. "What do we do now?"