- Rough Draft
- Work in Progress
- Character Bashing
- Dark Themes
- Discussion - Rape
- Discussion - Torture
- Disturbing Imagery
- Explicit Sex
- No Beta
- Rape - Off Screen
“An imperfectly remembered life is a useless treachery.” -Barbara Kingsolver
Tony cursed as his HUD showed that another fruitless hour had gone by. He, and the other Avengers were tracking an energy spike that showed similarity to both the Tesseract, and the Bifrost. The alarms had gone off at an ungodly hour of the morning, not long after Tony had headed to bed after a 4-day research binge. He’d wanted to go back to bed, but Steve had made the point that the Iron Man suit was the most ideal and fastest way to track down who might have landed on Earth. Bruce was in the lab and was working on directing Thor’s slower flight to the area of the energy spike over the comms. The rest of the Avengers were on the Quinjet nearby waiting to see if they were needed for a fight.
Still, Tony was sure that they were chasing ghosts. He’d been in the air over the site of the energy spike for more than three hours now doing a grid search and nothing had yet been out of place. To be fair, the energy wasn’t exactly anything ever observed before, and the area they were searching in was quite large, and not exactly easy to examine by foot or by air, given the geography and topography of Northern Central Thailand. There were hundreds of mountains, all riddled with caves and covered by dense forest and jungle depending on the altitude. Still, they had to search, given that the only two people in existence to have used both the Tesseract and the Bifrost as modes of transportation were Thor and his missing brother Loki.
Thor had been on Earth since the debacle with the Dark Elves that had almost killed his lover Jane Foster, and his mother Frigga. Loki, himself, had been missing for months before then, broken out of his cell beneath Asgard by an unknown party. No one was sure if Loki had arranged it, or had been taken forcibly. There had been quite a large amount of blood, and destruction in the cell, suggesting that Loki had fought, but no one put it past Loki to have staged the scene himself. Whatever had happened, Loki hadn’t left a trace in more than two years; and Thor was torn between worrying for his brother’s safety, and hoping that his brother was not plotting something worse than his invasion. Tony was just grateful that Loki hadn’t done anything yet.
The past two and a half years had been hell; with Killian, the fall of Shield, and then his own folly in creating Ultron. Not to mention the personal distractions of Pepper calling their relationship quits and Cap and Falcon’s successful hunt to find the Winter Soldier. To be fair, once Barnes had come out of the brainwashing and remembered Cap; he’d been pretty easy to handle between his willingness to do anything Cap asked, and his horror of what he’d been forced to do as the Winter Soldier. Tony had taken Cap aside and given him the number of the psychologist that Pepper had forced him to see after the events of Ultron. Most days he didn’t actually like the female psychologist, but he did know that his nightmares and panic attacks had gotten much better and that he’d started making less dumb decisions with his health and his tech.
Too bad, that Pepper had liked this version of him less than she had liked the person he had been before he’d started going to therapy. Tony would have given up SI to make her happy. Hell, he had, to a point. But nothing was going to make Pepper Potts like Iron Man. Tony would be damned if he was going to give up Iron Man. So now Pepper was his CEO and their friendship bordered around how recently Iron Man had been needed/seen in the media. It wasn’t perfect but it was working.
Tony was pulled from his maudlin thoughts when his HUD showed residuals of the energy that they were hunting. It left a straggling and meandering trail up a mountainside through very dense forest. Tony would have to land and follow on foot if he wanted to search the entire trail thoroughly.
“JARVIS, patch me into the comms.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Hey, team, I found the trail. I’m going to have to land and follow by foot. There’s just too much foliage to do it by air. JARVIS will send you my coordinates so Thor can follow me if needed. I’m going to leave comms open for now.”
Cap replied back, “Acknowledged, Iron Man. Be careful, we don’t know if there might be any surprises left across the trail by our visitor. Bruce is sending Thor to the coordinates that JARVIS just sent us.”
“I hear you, Cap. Proceeding with caution.”
Tony touched down lightly and started following the path highlighted on his HUD. It didn’t take long to realize someone had walked this path before him. There were little tells, like broken twigs and branches, half a footprint in the dirt, as well drops of a strange purplish substance that Tony had never seen before. The farther he moved up the trail, the more obvious it got, both energy wise, and sign wise. Tony was far from surprised when the trail led to a cave entrance. The entrance had footprints and pools of the purplish substance and single hand-print on the entrance wall as if someone had braced themselves there.
“Cap, I’ve tracked our new friend to a cave. I’m going to go in loaded for bear in case this is a trap. I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Okay, Iron Man. Thor is fifteen minutes behind you. Be careful.”
Tony followed the drips and foot and hand-prints deeper into the cave. If he didn’t know better he’d say the purple stuff was blood, but he didn’t know of any species that had purple blood. Well except Klingons, and while that might be cool, the amount of the purple substance was quite alarming if it really was blood. It was deep enough in the cave now, that he had to turn on a suit flashlight for his HUD to pick up anything. Tony followed the trail around a blind corner and stopped in horror. Tony ripped off his helmet, turned around, and threw up everything in his stomach. After the dry heaves passed, he wiped his mouth, and approached the body on the floor of the cave carefully. It looked like the Avenger’s guess had been right. It was Loki, or at least most of him. The man before him had scraps of cloth on but they were not even covering the most private of his parts. He was surrounded by a pool of purple blood which was seeping from the marks of torture that covered him, some so deep that Tony could see bone. Tony removed the gauntlet off of his right hand and reached down to check where a pulse would be on Thor. It took him several seconds to find it, as weak and erratic as it was. Tony slammed his helmet back on and switched to Cap’s line instead of the team-wide one.
“Cap pull Thor back now!”
“I found Loki, or what’s left of him. He’s been shredded by torture. I’m pretty sure this answers the question whether he was taken or escaped. Thor can’t see him like this! We’re going to need a full medical team here ASAP. There’s no way I can move Loki without killing him.”
“Acknowledged. I’m recalling Thor now. I’ll send a medical team and get Bruce to set up a med suite in the Tower. You’ll stay with Loki to make sure he isn’t faking?”
“I will Cap. But I don’t think he is. No one, not even someone as crazy as Loki, would do this to themselves voluntarily. I’m sending you an image now. Hold on to your stomach. I didn’t.”
Tony sent a still image to Cap’s console on the Quinjet. It was a few minutes before the comm line opened again.
“Iron Man, this is Black Widow. The Captain is indisposed at the moment. However, we both agree Loki isn’t faking it. The medical team is in a Quinjet and will be at your location in 30 minutes. Do you think Loki will make it that long?”
“He made it this far as injured as he is. I think the odds are about 50/50. He could have used the last of his strength, but on the other hand, his willpower might keep him alive. Have the medics given the security password when they approach. If Loki escaped from whoever did this to him, they could be looking to take him back.”
“Will do. Widow, out.”
Tony replaced his gauntlet and moved between Loki and the tunnel leading to the cave entrance. He looked back once pity, sympathy, and rage mixing inside him. No one deserved what had been done to Loki.
Several long minutes later, Tony watched as the medics approached. They were former members of Shield, some of the few that had not been Hydra. Still, it would pay to be cautious. The first of the medics, Adam Holzer, stopped three feet away and gave the security password. Tony nodded at the correct password and then stood aside so the medics could pass by him to reach Loki. Tony opened the line to Cap.
“Cap, the medics are here. I’m going to stay with them, and then guard their transport back to the tower. How long do you think you can stall Thor?”
Tony wasn’t sure what Thor would do when he found out about Loki’s condition, but it was likely to be rather explosive. Tony couldn’t blame Thor for that though. If someone tore Rhodey up like this, Tony would rain hellfire down on them. Their great grandparents would regret ever thinking of procreating by the time Tony was done seeking vengeance.
“Iron Man, I’ve sent Thor back to the Tower to assist Dr. Banner in setting up security for the medical floor. Hopefully, Loki will still be alive when you reach the Tower, and possibly be looking better than he is now. I think we’ll have to let Thor sit in on Dr. Banner and Dr. Misra’s treatment of Loki. It might help keep him calm, seeing Loki be healed.”
“I agree with that Cap. I’ll give you a status update when we are ready to move him. Iron Man, out.”
Tony turned and headed back to where Loki was being treated. The medics had connected a pulse/ox monitor to watch Loki’s vitals, started an IV, and were starting to bandage the worst of the open wounds on Loki’s front. Tony squatted next to Loki’s head and opened his visor to view Loki with his own eyes. Strangely enough, Loki’s face and neck were mostly unscathed but everything from the shoulders down was a mess of cuts, bruises, welts, burns, and puncture wounds. There was enough blood pooled around Loki that it was hard to tell which wound the blood was coming from.
Shortly the wounds on Loki’s front were bandaged and the medics went to turn him Loki over. The two men tried to lift him carefully but were unable to lift him. Tony blinked in surprise as he knew both men were fairly strong. He pulled down his visor and waved them back. He was surprised again when the HUD showed that Loki, even in this state, weighed in at over 400 pounds. He stepped around to Loki’s side and as gently as he could he turned Loki over. His stomach turned at the sight of not only the condition of Loki’s back, and skull, but the streaks of blood down the backs of Loki’s legs coming from Loki’s ass.
Tony made sure the medics didn’t need another assist before he strode off back toward the cave tunnel. He wanted to scream but knew that it wouldn’t help. Tony knew he was on the verge of either a flashback or a panic attack and started doing the breathing techniques that Dr. Darrow had taught him. It took several long minutes for the tight feeling in his chest and throat to subside, and Tony blinked his eyes to clear them of the tears that wanted to fall. Feeling calmer Tony swore to himself that no matter that Loki had been his enemy, had once been the whole world’s enemy, that the person who had done this would be destroyed.
The HUD informed that someone was approaching from the rear. Tony turned and saw the other medic, Alex walking towards him.
“Iron Man, Loki is as ready as he’ll ever be to be transferred to the medical Quinjet. However, we can’t lift him onto the gurney. We’ll need your help.”
Tony nodded and head back into the cave. He used the suit to gingerly put Loki on the gurney and watched as he was strapped in. After the gurney was wheeled outside and onto the Quinjet he shot into the air to watch from above. He was planning to escort the Quinjet back to the Tower to prevent interference. He opened the comm line to Cap.
“Cap, the Quinjet carrying Loki is about ready to take off. I’m going to shadow them in the air until we get back to the Tower. I’ll let you know if we get any guests.”
“All right Iron Man. We’ll head back as well. Keep me posted.”
“Will do Cap.”
Tony closed the line and watched as the Quinjet rose into the air and started heading east towards the Pacific and North America. He flew after it, trying to shake the feeling of trepidation. Things were about to change in a major way. He only hoped no one got hurt.
Tony stood with the rest of the Avengers in a viewing room of one of the three medical floors of the Tower. They were all watching carefully as Queen Frigga of the Asgard finished healing Loki. Under normal circumstances, he would have been healed by the end of the first day, but the substance that had turned his blood purple had slowed his healing below even normal human parameters. Bruce and Doctor Riya Misra had flushed Loki’s system but his wounds had still refused to heal.
Thor had gone to Asgard and fetched Queen Frigga. There had apparently been a loud “discussion” between the King and Queen of Asgard over Frigga’s decision to come to Earth and heal Loki. Seeing as Frigga was here and doing just that, Tony presumed that Odin had lost one way or another. Frigga’s hands were glowing green edged in shining gold as they moved over Loki. Tony would have found it fascinating if it weren’t for the fact that Frigga was weeping, and that her voice kept cracking and hitching while she chanted the healing spell. Her heartbreak was palpable and all of the Avengers, even Barton, were clearly affected.
Tony let out a deep sigh when Frigga finished, and, before leaving the room, tucked Loki in, stroking the hair from his pale face. Frigga walked over to Bruce and Dr. Misra, and held out a shiny, metallic gold apple to Thor.
“He is sleeping naturally now. He should wake in a few hours.” Her voice was strained and hoarse from the hours of chanting and crying she had done. “He’ll need to eat the apple to replenish his reserves of healing.” Her eyes welled up again, but she continued on. “I must return to Asgard. Heimdall will be able to inform me when he awakens. Thor will return home in three days time to receive the Allfather’s word on when Loki,” her voice choked, “will be returned to the dungeons of Asgard. Thank you all for finding him and trying to heal him. I will not forget this.” With that, she turned, and taking one last look at Loki, left the room to take the elevator to the roof where she would summon Heimdall.
Three hours later, and the heart rate monitor started to pick up. Tony and the other Avengers looked up from their Stark Pads and books, and their eyes zeroed in on Loki’s room. They all got up and walked into Loki’s room, ready for him to attack. Loki’s eyes blinked open and shut, and then reopened and he seemed to focus on the ceiling before looking around his room. The Avengers all tensed, fully expecting him to either make a cutting remark or come off the bed swinging. Instead, his forehead wrinkled as if in confusion and Tony guessed it was because he hadn’t expected to wake up healed in the company of his former enemies.
Thor edged closer to the bed, “Brother, why aren’t you speaking?
To Tony’s shock, Loki just looked more confused.
“Brother? You are my brother?” Loki seemed uncharacteristically hesitant.
Thor frowned, “Of course you are my brother, Loki, even though sometimes you try mightily to deny it.”
Loki looked puzzled, and then to Tony’s surprise slightly frightened, “Loki? Is that my name?”
Tony felt his jaw drop, and saw the rest of the Avenger’s jaws do the same. Loki couldn’t remember his name!
Tony watched as the Avengers exploded all at once. Barton was exclaiming loudly that Loki was trying to trick them. Thor was even more loudly defending Lok.i and all the others were taking sides. Movement caught Tony’s eyes. Loki was shrinking back against the head of his bed looking like he wanted to puke or to run, perhaps both. His green eyes were widened in fear. Tony felt his brain screech to a halt at his last thought. Since when did Loki have green eyes? Tony felt several missing pieces of a puzzle that he had been mulling over for years slot into place, and he just knew that he had the whole picture now. Tony’s anger at Loki’s torturers reached new heights.
Wanting to settle the argument and get on with helping Loki recover; Tony made a certain hand gesture. JARVIS did the rest by emitting a piercing noise that had everyone wincing and clapping their hands over their ears. As one the Avengers all turned to glare at Tony, knowing very well that he’d ordered JARVIS to make that noise. Tony just smirked and rocked back on his heels, before waving the Avengers out of the room to start his inquiries.
“Now that I have your attention, I think I have a way to at least partially settle this dispute. Thor, without looking at Loki, tell me what color his eyes are.”
Thor looked perplexed but answered quickly, “Green, as they have ever been.”
Tony smirked again at the flabbergasted looks that Steve, Natasha, Bruce, and Clint gave Thor. “To clarify, Loki’s eyes have always been green? What about during the Chitauri invasion?”
Now Thor looked very confused. “Truthfully, I did not pay attention. Loki’s eyes have ever been green, why should I have looked for a difference?”
Tony watched Natasha’s face twitch slightly in the way that always signaled she was exasperated with someone. He turned to Clint and Natasha.
“What color were Loki’s eyes during the invasion?”
Natasha as ever was composed as she answered, “Blue.”
Clint, however, was grinding his teeth in anger, “Blue.”
Not content that his point had been made, Tony turned to Bruce, and Dr. Misra. “What color have Loki’s eyes been since he was brought here?
Bruce looked apologetically at Clint, “Green.”
Dr. Misra looked fairly clueless as she also answered Tony’s question with the color green as well.
Tony looked back at the two doctors, “Amnesia can be caused by physical or psychological trauma, correct? Would you say that Loki has had enough of both to cause such a phenomenon?”
Bruce and Dr. Misra both nodded and looked over and through the glass into Loki’s room. Dr. Misra was not only certified in emergency care/surgery but psychiatry as well. Tony had pulled out all the stops when recruiting a doctor for the Avengers, knowing that the fewer outsiders involved the better.
Dr. Misra stepped forward, “Either the extreme nature of the trauma to the back of his skull, or the physical, and sexual torture he underwent would be enough on their own to cause amnesia on their own, much less compounded together. As with most cases of amnesia, he could recover his memories in days, weeks, months, years, or, the worst case scenario, never. However, it is likely due to the nature of his torture that he will still have triggers that cause panic attacks, nightmares, or sudden unexplainable fears, even if he never has full flashbacks. Given his physical strength and his history of magic use, I would suggest being very careful not to startle him as the results could be damaging for all parties.”
Clint, still fuming, interrupted, “So because Tony has this “theory” that Loki was mind controlled we just accept it as fact? A sharp blow to the head brought me out of it, but Loki’s eyes were still blue after the Hulk dented Tony’s floor with him. Who’s to say he didn’t change his eye color during the invasion just in case he got caught after escaping Asgard?”
Tony had been anticipating that very question. “Loki was able to sit up within ten minutes after a beating that would have killed even Cap. He was standing not even five minutes after that. He never lost consciousness. But whatever the fuckers who tortured gave him retarded his healing, that was why Queen Frigga had to come heal him, remember? He was definitely unconscious when I found him in Thailand.”
“Besides, the Chituari Invasion could have been 1000 times worse. If he was able to move the tower’s arc reactor from deep in then Hudson River to the roof; he could have moved it to somewhere with no radar or population, and let the whole armada through. Then it could have shown up en masse anywhere in the world, and toppled cities like dominoes. There was no reason for him to bottleneck the armada in a place within easy reach of the Helicarrier, with both a police force and the national guard on the ground. There were also at least five air force bases within ten minutes flight for combat jets. Thor has said repeatedly that Loki is a master strategist, so how the fuck did Loki makes such a big mistake? I can’t see it unless he made it deliberately. Just like I can’t see Loki fucking himself up this badly just to claim amnesia.”
Tony watched the effect of his words. Clint still looked mulish; but the rest of the Avengers, even Natasha, seemed to be agreeing with him if only a little. Clint opened his mouth to argue and Tony cut him off before he could get a word out, his anger at Loki’s situation boiling over a bit.
“I don’t think Loki is faking. I don’t think Loki was in control during the invasion. And frankly Clint? I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Loki will be comfortable and happy during his time here; because even if he was in control of the Chituari Invasion, I see no reason for him to be punished more than he already has. If he really does have amnesia, then it’s utterly pointless, and extremely cruel to punish him for something he has no recollection of. So this is going to be a case of ‘If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t open your fucking mouth.’ Now Thor and I are going to go back in there and explain to Loki a very limited version of how he ended up here and then we are going to set him up on a guest floor. If anyone has any objections I suggest you keep them to yourselves.”
With that, Tony stalked away from the rest of the Avengers assuming that Thor would follow him.