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Intermission

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An electric current climbs up Loki’s spine and to the small metal disk at the dip of his shoulder blades as he passes through the high archway into the “Champion’s Quarters”. He winces and thumbs at it tenderly, unlike the contenders, his disk is merely intended for communication with the Grandmaster. It vibrates and lets out a high-pitched noise when the man decides he wants Loki’s presence. It doesn’t settle well with Loki. It makes him feel not unlike a servant being summoned at the sound of a bell.  

The room is large and luxurious, decorated in cream and scarlet geometric shapes over the walls. One entire length of the room is lined in floor-to-ceiling windows, though Loki knows for a fact that the glass is reinforced heavily to be able to withstand just about any show of force. He suspects some sort of sorcery, through from what realm, he is unsure.

A soft murmuring sound draws Loki’s attention to the corner of the room opposite him, in which a steaming sort of bath sits, and he spooks to find that the Champion—the Hulk is settled in its bubbling depths, watching Loki with dark eyes. He swallows back the panic rising in his throat—puny god rings in his head like a warning—and dips his head slowly to the creature.

“I come to tend to my brother,” Before, Loki may have antagonized and taunted this creature. Now, his tone conveys only benign respect. “May I be permitted to do so?”

The creature is silent for a moment, before it snorts. “He friend,” It gruffs.

“I understand,” Loki says, even though he doesn’t, not really. How can this thing call Thor its friend after keeping him just barely alive on the battlefield? “Which is why I am just here to tend to his wounds.”

“No hurt?”

“No hurt,” Loki agrees. “Only to help.”

The creature is silent for one heart-wrenching moment that has Loki contemplating how he’s going to take on this creature if Thor could hardly do it, before lifting one humongous green hand and gesturing at the bed in a way that Loki guesses is assent.

It’s a gaudy piece of furniture, made in what seems to be the cradle of some great beast’s skull. Thor is sprawled on the crimson sheets, and Loki doesn’t notice the wounds he’s sluggishly bleeding from until he gets up close, as they seem to blend into the silk itself.

His brother is out cold, and has obviously been for quite some time. His shorn hair is dark with a mix of dirt and blood, (Loki vows vengeance on whoever committed such a blasphemy), and he sports multiple bruises and contusions across his face along with a blackened eye. Loki decides to start there, settling on the mattress and crossing his legs before carefully lifting Thor’s head to rest on his thighs, being sure to support his brother’s neck. It’s been a long while since Loki has physically manifested his healing magic, as for years he has only had to tend to himself. He takes an equalizing breath and digs deep, relieved when he feels warmth travel from his core down his arms and into his finger tips. When he opens his eyes, his hands are alight with an aquamarine aura.

Thor frowns at the gentle touch to the blackened skin around his eye, but does not wake as the bruise fades from purple to green to yellow to the same golden-tan of the rest of his skin. The other small injuries to Thor’s visage require almost no concentration on Loki’s part to heal, and Loki is a little in wonder of himself as he watches the skin stitch itself back together. Frigga had begun Loki’s tutelage in seiðr exclusively with the healing arts, and even the patron lady of medicine had been impressed with how quickly Loki took to it. Both Thor and Odin had made their opinions known on the matter: why teach a prince how to heal? Surely that was another’s job, Loki should be learning dexterity on the battlefield so as to accompany his brother some day on campaigns of war. And though Loki had trained for physical combat, learning to use his speed and quick mind to his advantage rather than brute force, he always found himself called back to sorcery at the end of the day. And Thor and Odin had both been begrudgingly grateful when a botched campaign in Svartalfheim left them bloodied and battered, and Loki had oh-so-graciously agreed to tend to their wounds (though they both whined like great children at the time).

A quick flick of Loki’s fingers through Thor’s hair sets it back to its normal lustrous, (if not somewhat darker), state. Settling back into the soft pillows behind him, Loki takes a deep breath and a moment to rest, surveying the work that is still to be done. There are multiple wounds on Thor’s abdomen that are caked with dried blood, and Loki won’t know for sure until he takes Thor’s armor off, but he’d bet money that a few of his ribs are broken. Thor’s left hand is settled at an odd angle by his side, likely a broken wrist, and a large, deep wound is still open along the length of one of his thighs.

Crackling his knuckles as his fingertips spark to life again, Loki carefully maneuvers Thor so he’s laying on his back with his head cushioned in a pillow. The trickster carefully rises on his knees, straddling Thor’s waist, but mindful not to put any weight on the body below him lest he cause more damage. Brushing his knuckles against the shoddy armor Thor had been outfitted with, he watches the metal disappear and then reappear next to the bed with a solid thud.

Loki winces. It’s worse than he thought, some of the blood he’d seen through Thor’s clothing is actually coming from where one of his fractured ribs has broken skin. Bone sticks through golden skin like broken glass. This will likely take a more advanced spell, and Loki wracks his brain for the ancient runes that he had spent many a late night studying in solitude. Pressing his hands together, he closes his eyes and lets them roll off his tongue, melodic and ringing through the otherwise-silent room.

When he opens his eyes, he swears Thor’s expression has shifted from that of pain to a more peaceful one, but he shakes his head and focuses on the task in front of him. His hands now glow with white light, and when he parts them, his seiðr stretches between them like the sweet-smelling taffy he had seen confectioners make in the city markets outside the palace when he was a boy. Though Thor cannot hear him, he murmurs a warning anyways.

“This is going to hurt,” He says softly, before raising his hands and bringing the magic veil swiftly down against the broken bones. Thor’s responding cracked shout causes the creature Loki had nearly forgotten was behind them to stand abruptly, shaking the floor as it does.

“You hurt,” It roars, and Loki’s seiðr peters out of existence as his concentration is broken. He turns quickly, hands up in placation.

“I’m setting the bone,” He says as calmly as he can, though his heart is damn near in his throat and his hands are shaking where they’re by his ears, open-palmed. “I did not mean him harm. This will help him heal.”

Loki forces himself to stay still (and to not look down) as the entirely naked, dripping wet creature stomps over to the bed, apparently set on seeing Thor for itself. He closes his eyes and winces as a drop of water falls on his face from above, and tries to control his own breathing as the creature huffs out air from somewhere over him.

Apparently appeased, the ground once again shakes as the Hulk lumbers back over to his bath, creating a great splash as he settles in. Loki nearly goes limp with relief, remembering at the last second to keep himself up and off Thor, lest he upset one of the wounds.

After he calms himself, Loki surveys his work again, pleased to see that the bone is now re-set and encased once more under new, slightly pink skin. If Thor’s face hadn’t relaxed before, it has now, and he seems to slumber a bit more peacefully. Rubbing his hands together again, Loki has to bring himself back into that still place before his seiðr sparks into existence once more, tickling at his fingertips in what Loki knows is exhaustion. It has been a long while since he has used this much healing seiðr at one time.

The bone in Thor’s wrist sets much more easily, and Loki sets to closing up the wound on Thor’s thigh, deciding the other hurts are less of a priority, though he can return to them after if he still possesses any leftover magic. Once that is dealt with, leaving only slight dark scarring running parallel across the corded muscles, Loki allows himself to settle some of his weight on the tops of Thor’s thighs as he finishes tending to his brother. He’s leaned over Thor’s chest, working on a nasty-looking bruise over his collarbone, when he feels the touch of a hand on the back of his thigh.

Loki startles and looks up, green eyes meeting hazy blue that are now open and blinking sluggishly at him. Thor’s face, which is currently framed by Loki’s dark hair, splits into a dreamy smile. It sets Loki’s heart racing.

“I knew it was you,” He says quietly, voice rough. “I heard your voice.” His other hand comes up and his thumb smears across Loki’s cheekbone in a messy caress. It sets Loki off-kilter, which he tells himself is why he doesn’t move away as Thor strains up to gentle a kiss across his lips.

“You buffoon,” Loki murmurs after he pulls away, but his voice lacks the venom Loki had meant to put into it. “Rest now. Don’t go and sully up all the work I just did on you.” For you, some stupid little voice crows in the back of Loki’s head.

“You’ll stay?” Thor asks, but his eyelids are already drooping again, helped along by the sleeping spell Loki is currently weaving behind his back.

“You know I can’t,” and there’s a bit of regret to Loki’s voice, and also something else that he can’t place. He watches Thor’s eyes close with something heavy riding on his heart. When his brother wakes, Loki hopes, he will think of this as a dream.

“I’m going to get us out of here,” He murmurs against Thor’s temple as he dips to brush his lips against the warm skin, before standing and leaving, acutely aware of the Hulk’s gaze on the back of his head the entire time.