MCU/Thor ficlet
Ice Demon bonus
Hc-bingo- surgery
Warning for some violent imagery

Loki knew it happened. Logically it must have happened. He knew there was a wound across his stomach, but once it healed, it was easy to pretend it didn't happen. Until the acrid smell of the antiseptic touched his nose, flinging him back into the bright, blinding light and the shadowy forms of white-gowned and masked people.

. . .

He knew, looking up, it was different, and different was bad. He was strapped down at the hips and chest now, to keep him still.

One took a scalpel and cut across his abdomen. The cut bit deep, and then again, deeper, slicing through flesh that should have been much tougher and was now merely mortal and fragile.

He bit down on the gag, the rest of him tense against the bonds.

The cut was opened up with tools, and a dispassionate voice made dry observations about everything he saw --- skin, muscle, organs, blood...

Loki remained conscious and too aware, until one of them plunged gloved hands inside.

He screamed until he ran out of air and his heart beat thundered in his ears, and even then he felt every single touch inflaming his nerves.

Until finally, brain and body had taken all they could bear, and darkness closed in and there was the relief of nothingness.

. . .

"Lukas, Lukas!"

Loki grabbed the sound of someone calling his Midgardian name like a man seizing a rope while drowning, and used it to pull himself out of the dark. His breath was still short and uneven, and he opened his eyes to find he was seated on the floor, pressed against the wall.

Natasha knelt before him, her strong little hands wrapped over his, offering her strength.

The reflexive impulse to pull free, straighten up, and pretend he was fine rushed through his mind, but in the end, he did nothing. She already knew, so pride was a bit tardy.

"Hey," she murmured when she had his attention. "What was it that triggered you?"

"The smell." His voice was ragged, and he had to clear his throat. He leaned his head back against the wall, taking deliberate breaths. "They cut me open," he whispered.

That being obvious, she understood what he meant. "You were conscious?" she asked. The question was calm, fact-finding, not incredulous.

He nodded and shut his eyes, suddenly and strangely exhausted, as though he'd actually been through it again, not merely remembered it.

Her thumbs rubbed the backs of his hands, distracting and soothing. "Catch your breath. Remember that you're not there. You're right here."

His smile made a vague stab at genuine amusement before falling away again. "I know. Even if I didn't a moment ago." He regarded her a moment before asking, "You seem unsurprised. Does this happen to mortals?"

"Traumatic flashbacks? Yes."

"It didn't happen before, to me," he said, then reconsidered with a frown. "Well, moments of loss. But nothing like that. By any standard, it was far less terrible, so I do not see why I should react with such force."

"Perhaps the experiences are not separate in your mind, but added together," she suggested. "Lukas –" she hesitated and then said deliberately, calling him by his true name, "Loki. We have doctors, trained in psychological trauma treatment. You should find one to help you."

He snorted and withdrew his hands. "And a mortal would understand my mind? I am not human, Natalya."

She stayed where she was, somber-faced, eyes intently gazing at his. "I know. But you're reacting like one, so perhaps if you get help like one, you might find some healing."

That hit its target. How did she know the right word? Because 'healing' was something he could accept. He needed something, because he seemed to be getting worse, not better. But still, it was difficult to agree to such a thing, touching pride and stubborn resistance that muttered at him that mortal doctors knew nothing, could not help, and he should be above all this...

Yet, he was not. Obviously. Because he had zero memory of how he had ended up on the floor, as if he'd found a crack in his mind and fallen into it.

Taking a deep careful breath, he looked at his hands. "Do you think it could help? Truly?" he asked softly.

Her lips quirked upward, a bit crooked. "It helped me." Going unspoken but he knew: you're not the only one with cracks in their mind. Her hand laid on his knee. "You wouldn't reject a bandage on a bleeding wound, so there's no reason to reject a bandage for your mind, either."

The words caught him, snagged on him when he would have otherwise tried to shrug them away, and forced him to consider them. "You are too wise for your years, Natalya," he said and her smile widened, recognized the admission in his words.

"I'll ask around for someone you can trust." She helped him up, strong fingers curled around his forearm. "C'mon, let's find you a safe place to sit down."

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