Infinity War is so close, yet so far! The wait is killing me! But in the meantime, here's chapter three! I hope you enjoy it!

(Only 16 days!)

Stephen howled in pain. Not for the first time that day, nor the last. Ebony Maw has decided on a new form of torture. Due to this, the doctor was strapped to a metal chair, his hands tied to a metal table. It was ice cold to touch.

"Oh, am I hurting you?" Ebony's sickening voice rumbled in his chest. He dug his tiny, wickedly sharp knife deeper into the back of Stephen's hand. It was tracing an already-existing scar, one from his crash. Similar fresh cuts outlined more of his scars, crisscrossing across his whole hand and his fingers.

Stephen screamed again, and thrust his shoulders forward against the leather strap that bound them. Ebony noticed, and chuckled, a hoarse, hollow sound that sent chills skittering down Stephen's spine. His eyes blurred with tears as the torturer set down his knife and picked up Stephen's right hand in his own, roughly rotating his wrist so his palm was facing upward. Stephen prepared himself for more pain, but what Maw did next was much worse.

"What pretty hands you have here, doctor," the child of Thanos purred, stroking his fingers down Stephen's palm, through his fingertips. The salty waterfall that had been building at the back corners of Stephen's eyes spilled over, tears streaming down his cheeks. Ebony purred and stroked his hands again.

"S-stop!" The sorcerer managed to say through his sobs. Ebony's grin grew.

"Well, if you insist," he drawled after one more stroke, a wicked glint in his eyes. He set the doctor's hand back on the table and strode over to a small box on the far side of the room. He reached in and extracted a small, steel hammer, and brought it back to where his prisoner was bound. He raised it and tapped the head against Stephen's hand, which had twisted back to palm down. The hit wasn't too hard, but it wasn't light either, just enough to send lightning bolts of pain up Stephen's arm and wrench another shriek out of his throat. It was not enough to break the bones.

Ebony frowned. "Stephen, it almost seems like you don't like my efforts. Your hands were pretty before, you should fully support us making them beautiful." And with that, he brought the hammer down on the human's other hand, his left. Stephen heard multiple bones crack, and his sobs reverberated around the open room. Blood tainted the formerly spotless hammer head, but Ebony didn't seem to mind, bringing it down again and again, on each of the doctor's fingers and a few more times on his hand. Then he repeated the process with the right. By the end, Stephen was sobbing uncontrollably, thrashing in vain against the straps that bound him in place.

Ebony stood up, discarding the hammer. He glided around the table until his face was inches from the doctor's. Stephen froze at the change of distance. "Don't fret, my puppet," he purred, tracing a mangled finger down Stephen's jawline. The action made him shudder, and Ebony grinned at the level of Stephen's discomfort. "We're almost done."

Ebony pulled away, back to his dreaded box, grabbing the hammer along the way. He replaced the hammer with a foreign object, a black pole of sorts, about a foot long and with a hole in the end. Ebony pressed down on something, and blue flames leapt out of the opening. A blowtorch.

Stephen's body reacted instinctively the second he saw the fire. He resumed his struggling, and fresh tears carved new tracks down his cheeks. Ebony cackled, the spidery sound echoing around the torture chamber. He slowly moved the flickering inferno towards Stephen's fingers. It was just uncomfortably hot at first, but discomfort soon turned to pain as the flames got close enough to lick his fingers like an eager puppy. An eager demon puppy loyal to the being that was trying to kill him, Stephen corrected himself.

At once, the member of the Black Order thrust the blowtorch toward the sorcerer's hand, and the fire bit into his skin. Stephen wailed, and he heard the sizzling of burned flesh when blisters began to appear. A wave of nausea washed over the doctor, and it was all he could do to yank his head to the side before he retched, spilling the meager contents of his stomach all over the stone floor.

"Oh, Stephen," Ebony shook his head, pulling the blowtorch away. "I really did think you could hold out longer. You seemed so much stronger than my normal subjects, but we aren't done here." He clapped his hands, and two black robed figures appeared with a mop. "This could end, you know, if you give me the stone." Ebony suggested. Stephen shook his head venomously, and the child of Thanos laughed. "Well then, we have a bit more work to do." He attacked with the blowtorch again, and Stephen's hopeless screams resumed. The world blurred, and the doctor thought he was going to pass out from pain. He dry-heaved twice more, but there was nothing in his stomach to throw up.

After what seemed like eternity, two rough sets of hands grabbed Stephen. They undid his binders and dragged him out of the chair. He did not have the energy to get up on his own. "Bye bye, my little puppet!" Ebony called predatorily as Stephen was dragged out of the room. He barely remembered the journey back to his cell, only registering the fact that he was giggling hysterically. Laughter stemmed from the exhaustion that flooded his veins combining with his keening shrieks to fill the hallways with resonating madness. The sorcerer realized that he was in his cell by the pain of the impact when the unfeeling guards tossed him unceremoniously back into his prison.

When Strange came back, he was a laughing and sobbing mess. Loki hadn't seen the sorcerer break down yet, so it was mildly disturbing to see him choking on his own tears. His hands were so bloody that the Trickster could barely make out the trembling scars that swirled around his digits. Most of the scars were outlined by long incisions that traced along their perimeters. Stephen looked beyond traumatized and heartbroken.

"I can't do this again," the doctor whispered hoarsely, his wild laughter ceasing abruptly to make way for more waterworks. "It took me so long to recover the first time! I can't- no. No, I…" he trailed off and trembled so hard that his hair shook. "Loki! Loki you h-have to do something!" When the god of Mischief continued his involuntary vigil, Strange's breathing quickened. "No, no, no! No, I can't live like this! I can't do this again. Please not again!"

Stephen broke down to the floor in a heap, cradling his ruined hands. Fresh tears trailed down his cheeks. "He-he called me puppet," the broken sorcerer hiccuped through his sobs. He glanced helplessly at the silver-tongued god. Loki, still very shaken by his own torture session, motioned for him to come within reach of the chains, the first he had reacted to the sorcerer's fit.

Stephen half walked, half crawled over to Loki. When he was well within the reaches of the heavy chains, the Liesmith led him over to the wall and sat him down, back to the concrete so he was supported. He then sat down cross-legged across from Stephen, grasped his green cape in his hands and ripped a large section off of the bottom. He then tore that piece into smaller strips, which he set on his knee. Next, he reached out and took Stephen's wrist between his fingers, guiding it towards him. Stephen glanced up. Loki could see the surprise in his eyes, and the tears, while still frozen on his cheeks, were no longer flowing. The god gingerly lifted a scrap of his cloak and began to wrap it around the bloodied fingers of his cell mate. The man in question hissed in pain, but his eyes seemed grateful for the silent support. Loki quickly encased the rest of his injuries in impromptu bandages, earning several more grunts of pain.

"Thank you," Stephen whispered when the job was finished. Loki just nodded and stood up to go back to his own corner, but Stephen motioned for the Lord of Lies to sit down next to him. The silver-tongued illusionist relented and joined the sorcerer, dragging his chains out of the way with an ear-splitting clamor. Stephen flinched at the noise.

Loki lowered himself ungraciously to the ground, until he was seated next to Stephen. The other leaned into him, desperate for human contact, and the trickster, while not returning the action, let him. They sat there for more time than Loki could measure, until he was summoned for his own session of agony. Once the chains were dismantled, he got a clear view of the sorcerer's small form cradled against the wall. He looked so fragile, and a foreign protective instinct twanged in Loki's chest, but a masked figure yanked him out the door, and Stephen slipped out of view.

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