Chapter 23

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Loki snapped out of his sleep with a gasp for air as he was woken up from another nightmare.
Loki's day hadn't gone very well after he was left alone. First, his headache didn't go away at all, in fact, it got far worse. His head was pounding so badly that he felt like someone had repeatedly crashed rocks over his head. It lasted all day, he kept trying to close his eyes and relax to get rid of it but... he couldn't relax. Every time he laid down in bed he felt like he was sinking, he hated living in this room and sleeping in this bed, he was got stuffy all the time, he felt like the blankets were suffocating him and his clothes were strangling him, but he was afraid of doing anything about it. What if someone came in and found him out of bed? He was told to stay put, not to move, not to do anything that caused pain, so if he tried to get out of bed and get comfortable he could be caught and he'd get in trouble for disobeying. So he spent all day laying in bed, head pounding, wounds throbbing from where he healers did their work, and totally unable to do anything to help himself. By the time it finally got dark he tried to sleep, but the bed was even larger and softer than the other room he had been staying in so it was harder to get to sleep. And then when he did he was haunted by nightmares of his past, this time they were about Ilkay.
Ilkay liked to torture Loki just as much as Laufey did, just in a Different way. She always pretended she was doing him a good service, She was the reason he was afraid to let anyone be kind to him. she would say the words of a mother, she would tell him she was going to take care of him, that he'd be okay, that everything was alright, and then she'd proceed to cut open his stomach or force acid down his throat, all the while speaking calmly. She was creepy to Loki in ways laufey wasn't, and now his dreams reminded him of what she did
His dream was still a memory, but this time it was only one, and it was much clearer.
"Don't worry, I'm going to take care of you" Loki heard his mothers voice as she came into the cell. He was laying on a table, strapped down by his wrists and ankles so that he couldn't move. As soon as he heard Ilkay's voice he felt panic and stared trying to struggle to get free. Earlier that day Laufey had forced him to eat something that was infected with some nasty disease, it caused his skin to erupt in patches of infectious blisters and boils. His entire body was covered in red painful patches of skin that had infection bubbling under the surface, any form of movement caused pain and that obviously made doing his work very difficult. After indicating that he was in pain Laufey had him beaten and then dragged him to his cell and had him bound on a table, telling him that he'd have Ilkay come to take care of the boils. Loki was even more terrified now, Ilkay always found horrible ways of 'taking care of' a problem. Often times she would perform surgeries without giving him anything to ease the pain.
When Ilkay saw Loki trying to struggle to get away from her she smiled an evil smile.
"Oh don't do that baby" she said as she stroked his blister covered cheek, he clenched his jaw in pain as she ran her fingers down his face, breaking the infected skin on the wounds and exposing raw skin that she continued to touch. "I'm going to take very good care of you" she added as she went over to her tray of tools and picked up a small scalpel. By now Loki had learned that the phrase 'I'll take care of you' meant 'get ready to scream in agony'
"Laufey said the boils were hurting you" she said as she looked closely at his blister covered body "I'll remove them for you" she added, before Loki could beg and plead for her to please not do this she dug the knife into a blister and cut it out. Loki's throat already felt raw from all the screaming he had done when laufey flogged him earlier that day, but he screamed again as she dug her knife deep into his flesh and slice off boil, leaving a large patch of open skin.
"Don't scream baby, mommy doesn't like it when you scream" she faked the sweet mother voice as she often did, but her eyes glistened with evil that told him if he made noise during this he'd be in for more torture. He whimpered and panted as he bit down hard, trying not to scream as she moved on to a second blister and performed the same painful procedure to dig it out. Loki was now realizing how many blisters covered his body. His whole chest was bumpy and enflamed, and she was cutting then out one by one, he couldn't keep himself quiet, he kept his mouth shut but his face contorted with agony and he screamed in his throat unable to swallow the sound.
Ilkay continued cutting out the blisters and leaving his skin open and even more vulnerable to infection and injury. After every few boils she would painfully mop up the puss and blood off Loki's skin, but the rags she'd use were rough and dirty and stung as she wiped his open flesh. After a long time She stopped for a moment to wipe the blood off her knife and Loki was able to breathe for a moment.
"P- please- stop- please-" he was trying to make her stop but but his voice and breathing were ragged and weak from all the screaming he'd done that day. Ilkay turned on him and abruptly put her hand over his mouth to silence him as she towered over him.
"You shouldn't complain if you don't want people to take care of you" she hissed as she got in his face. "I'm not going to stop until every one of these blisters is gone, and if I hear another sound come out of you I'll cut out your tongue as well" she said with a dark tone, completely loosing the fake kindness. Loki didn't make a sound, he knew he'd just have to lay there and take it, but he didn't know if he'd be able to keep his eyes open much longer, he was starting to see spots in his eyes because the pain was so great. But he knew that if he passed out he'd only be woken by her dumping salt water on him. There was even a bucket in the corner for just that.
Ilkay worked very slowly, prolonging the pain as much as she could until finally every one of the boils had been sliced out. Loki wanted to scream in pain and it took everything in him to stay quiet. He was panting and every breath felt like he was swallowing shards of glass. After Ilkay finished she unbound his wrists and ankles, he was shaking and wished she'd leave so he could be alone with his agony and deal with it his own way, but she didn't leave.
"Now you can scream" she said as she tipped the table, making him fall to the ground. He fell onto the rough rocky ground and wouldn't have been able to hold back his cries in pain even if he tried, the rough rocks dug into the open wounds, making the pain even worse. he wasn't holding back, but his voice was so weak that his screaming just sounded like strangled groaning.
"No, I want to hear your pain, show me that you're in agony" Ilkay hissed at him as she got down and dug her long fingernails into the spots of raw skin, she knew full well that his throat was dry and damaged and that he couldn't scream loudly, but she'd still punish him for not doing what she said. She said to scream and he wasn't, which means he gets punished. Loki screamed as loud as he was able, hoping that she would be satisfied and stop hurting him, but he was weakening with every moment.
"Please- stop" He croaked through his panting, she took her hand off him but was about to do it again. "please I- I'm begging- please don't- don't do it- again" he pleaded as sweat beaded on his face.
"I like it when you beg" she sneered as she raised her hand and slapped him hard across the cheek. she then stood up and picked up the bucket of water. before he could make another sound she poured the salty water over his open wounds, the salt stung in the patches of raw skin and he let out another strangled scream.
"Now get up and get back to work, Laufey has other jobs for you" she ordered. he tried to get up but he could barely move, his muscles tightened and he couldn't concentrate enough to put the pain aside and get up like she ordered.
"I said get up!" Ilkay shouted as she grabbed her knife again and went to slash him across his face, but as soon as the cold metal of the knife touched his burning skin his eyes shot open and his surroundings changed. He woke up panting and gasping, he was back on Asgard in his room, he was sinking in his bed and sweating quite a bit. But what really startled him was when he saw Frigga. She had heard him making noise in his sleep and pulled him out of the dream. Loki jumped when he saw her and tried to move.
"Loki it's okay, it's okay" she said as she tried to calm him down and stop him from falling out of bed. "It's just me, you were having a nightmare" she said calmly. He still looked shaken up but he stopped trying to pull away. He remembered that Frigga was someone he could trust.
"Did- I didn't- I'm sorry-" he stuttered but Frigga stopped him when he apologized.
"Stop saying you're sorry for everything... you did nothing wrong" she said quietly and she brushed his cheek with her fingers, he was half expecting it to hurt like in the nightmare but it didn't. All that pain vanished when he woke up. He swallowed hard, even though the pain in the dream hadn't been real, his throat was still dry and he wanted a drink. As if reading his mind Frigga reached over to the bedside table and filled a glass with water, then propped him up and put the glass to his dry lips. He gulped down the whole glass in a few seconds and then Frigga laid him back down.
"Are you alright?" She asked him. Loki nodded a bit but didn't say anything. Frigga gave him a look, she knew he wasn't fine, he was soaked with sweat and his breathing was still a bit uneven. Loki Then remembered the hug Frigga had given him a few days ago... she let him cry on her shoulder, she didn't mind when he was scared, she didn't mind when he showed it, she didn't mind when he wasn't okay. After a second he shook his head, changing his answer. Frigga moved his damp hair off his face and helped him to sit up.
"Do you want to talk about it?" She asked, but Loki wasn't ready to relive it for a third time so he shook his head.
"Do you want me to stay here with you tonight?" She thought that Maybe if someone was with him he wouldn't have those dreams. But again, he shook his head.
"No I'd- I'd rather be- alone" he said. Frigga nodded a bit, she wanted to stay and make sure he was alright, but he requested to be alone and her goal is to make him comfortable.
"Alright then sweetie... if you change your mind just send for me alright?" She said. Loki nodded, though he had no intention of sending for her. Frigga stood up and left the room so Loki could be alone. As soon as she was gone he sat up and shoved the blankets off him him. He then stumbled out of his bed, he knew he'd get in trouble if he was caught but he knew himself, he'd wake up early and get back in bed before anyone even knew he left. As soon as he was out of bed he started trying to get his clothes off, it was difficult because he was still very bandaged and they restricted his movements, and his clothes were wet from sweating so much and they clung to his body. But after a few minutes of struggling he was able to get them off so he was only in the shorts he wore under his clothes. He didn't care that he was almost naked like he had always been when he was living with laufey, he was just glad that he could finally breathe.
After a few minutes of catching his breath and calming himself down a bit he went and opened the door to the balcony a crack, it let in the cool night air which felt good, he was glad he didn't have to be so hot anymore. Once the room cooled down a bit he laid back down on the floor and closed his eyes to sleep. Sleeping on the floor was familiar to him, so it didn't take him long to drift off to sleep

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