When Clint leaves Natasha’s room Loki and Steve are still in the living room, Loki reading and Steve sketching him, so Clint swings by the infirmary to visit Thor.
The God of Thunder is laid out on a hospital cot in a powder-blue smock, and unfairly still looks pretty damn badass for all that he’s unconscious. Clint has it on good authority that when he’s out cold he generally looks like some variety of shit.
Mjolnir is on the floor next to Thor. After some experimentation they’d discovered they could get the hammer from the site of the battle back to the mansion by wrapping Thor’s hand around it and basically using him as a proxy, but it was awkward, of limited usefulness, and it’s not like Mjolnir’s doing any harm sitting there.
“I never look that good unconscious,” Bruce says from behind him.
“Well, you might now,” Clint points out. Bruce doesn’t know how to do Natasha’s hair or her makeup and wisely hasn’t tried, but she’s a gorgeous woman even when she’s covered in debris and bits of other people’s entrails. It takes more than a lopsided half-ponytail to make her look unattractive.
Bruce rolls his eyes. “Has Loki ever asked you about Thor?”
Clint frowns. “Not really.” That seems weird, actually, now that he considers it. For a kid who seems to worship his older brother so much, Loki hasn’t even asked to visit him. “Maybe it’s too much of a disconnect for him - he just can’t think of this Thor as his brother.”
Bruce shrugs. “It’s possible. I had Steve get me some books on Norse mythology when they went to the library.”
“Does it actually seem to correspond to what we know?” Clint asks, honestly curious. He’d always gotten the impression that Norse mythology was basically what happened when a huge guy in fancy armor showed up and shot lightning over the heads of a bunch of drunk Vikings.
Bruce grimaces. “Maybe. Kind of. It’s hard to tell without corroboration, but there’s some stuff that makes sense. For one thing, Odin goes into a kind of healing coma from time to time which might be why Loki’s taking Thor’s situation so much in stride.”
Clint racks his brain. “I think I remember Thor saying something about that. I thought he was being metaphorical.”
Bruce grins. “I admit that is a danger with Thor. But no, I think that one’s real.”
“Did you find anything about why Loki went bad?” Clint asks hesitantly. “Thor never seems to want to talk about it.” He’s said a few things since he joined, generally along the lines of Loki being a good guy at heart and how he’s really just misunderstood, which his teammates have understandably always taken with a grain of salt.
“Well...” Bruce hesitates. “That is partly why I asked Steve to get me that stuff. And maybe I did. I don’t know - like I said, it’s hard to tell what’s true or not, or even what was created in a completely different cultural context for a specific purpose and is being totally misinterpreted by us now.”
“But...?” Clint prompts.
“But... frankly, Loki got a pretty raw deal, mythologically speaking,” Bruce says, all in a rush. “He was a troublemaker just like you’d expect and he did do some awful things, but they came down on him hard for it. He got his mouth sewed shut once, another time he was tied down by the entrails of his own child and then tortured. He had a habit of shapeshifting into things and then getting knocked up, and every time his children were taken away from him and killed or imprisoned somewhere, and some of his kids were monsters but they usually seemed to be taken away because the Asgardians objected to Loki. Once he came to Earth as a woman, got married, had kids, and wasn’t doing anything wrong until Odin showed up and killed the whole family, just because Loki was perverted for turning himself into a woman. That horse, the eight-legged one Odin rides? That’s supposed to be one of Loki’s kids. I know - I know this is all mythology and probably made up and every pantheon needs a scapegoat but it’s hard from a... from a modern standpoint to read all that and not come down on Loki’s side. Or at least feel sorry for him.”
“So you think it wasn’t so much a one-time event turning him evil as him snapping after a lifetime of abuse?” Clint says, wide-eyed. “Jesus. I guess that kind of explains why he freaked out so much in the hallway that first night.” Since his biggest connection to Asgard is Thor, Clint’s always had the impression that Asgardians are all boisterous, lovable giants with a baffling but harmless love of battle. It’s easy to forget that it’s a warrior society and they absolutely would have started their kids out young.
Imagining a smaller version of Thor learning to swing Mjolnir for the first time is very different from picturing the quiet, too-smart Loki upstairs being shoved into an arena full of kids with weapons. God. When they’d talked about the playground Loki had said that kind of play usually ended in broken bones.
“I don’t - “ Bruce gestures vaguely, upset. “Yeah. If any of that was true, then yeah. I think it’s possible, theoretically, that he’d just taken all he could take. Oh,” he adds, trying for a lighter tone. “Also, apparently he’s not really Odin’s son and it’s possible he’s actually a frost giant.”
“Grain of salt.”
“Grain of salt,” Bruce agrees. “I really wish Thor was awake. I can’t believe none of us ever had a comparative mythology discussion with him.”
Despite the conversation, Clint snorts. “Yeah, that’s what I can’t believe.”
Bruce smiles reluctantly. “Shut up.”