Chapter 39

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Loki had seconds before the lion creature would have him pinned, as soon as the animal lunged, Loki grabbed hold of the chains that had previously been binding him, then with all the strength he possessed he swung the chains and hit the creature in the head. It was only enough to distract it though. It went tumbling to the side and gave Loki a few extra seconds, but he had just made it mad. The crowd seemed to love it though, they went wild with cheering at the excitement. Half of Loki just wanted to let the thing kill him so that he wouldn't satisfy the crowd, but his stronger half wanted to live to see tomorrow, so he kept fighting. The animal growled and jumped at Loki, Loki tried to defend again but he wasn't fast enough, he got knocked off his feet and the animal was on top of him. It started clawing at him and biting him and it's knife like scales dug into his body, he was able to beat it off with the chains again but that only lasted for a second, soon it was right back on top of him trying to eat him. Loki knew Laufey was angry now, Laufey hated it when Loki was taken down so quickly, but he had no strength left to fight, he knew he'd be loosing this one and Laufey would have him beaten.
He was able to get the chains around the creatures neck and was trying to choke it to death, but it was just simply stronger Than him.
"Fight harder Loki!" He heard laufey's rage filled voice shouting at him through the crowd. "People are betting on you Loki! Now fight or I'll have you skinned alive!" He threatened. But something clicked in Loki's mind; Laufey called him 'Loki'. That's impossible, Laufey never knew that name, he never had a name when he was with Laufey. Everything else was right, everything else was a horribly perfect image of his past memory, but Laufey couldn't have said that name.
"It's a dream" he heard another voice, it was coming from the lion creature that was pinning him, except it wasn't a lion anymore, it was Thor. And he wasn't pinning him down to attack, he was just leaning over him. "Wake up Loki" as soon as Thor spoke those words Loki woke up with a gasp for air.

Thor was leaning over him just like In the dream, he seemed to be trying to wake him up.
"You were having some crazy dream" Thor said as Loki sat up rather quickly.
"I was- Jotunhiem.... and- the arena" he muttered, Thor assumed he was talking more to himself, it made no sense to him.
"Nightmares about Laufey?" Thor asked him. He could tell by how frazzled Loki looked that he had visited his home world in his sleep. Loki rubbed his face a bit as he nodded.
"Always... it's always Laufey..." he mumbled. Thor wasn't sure how to make it any better for him.
"Want to talk about it?" He offered. But Loki shook his head.
"Not really..." he said quietly.
Thor noticed the three slashes across Loki's chest, Frigga told him that Loki had been out all night, but she never mentioned any attack.
"What happened to you?" Thor asked him. Loki immediately looked around for that shirt he'd thrown aside the night before.
"I- I went to find the horse and.... got attacked by something in the woods" he told him as he grabbed the shirt and pulled it on. His hands were still shaking and his mind was a little fuzzy to reality, but he was able to snap out of the dream more quickly now than he had been able to before.
"You should have Trinity take a look at you, it looks pretty nasty" Thor advised.
"I'm fine" loki said quickly, but it was pretty clear that he wasn't fine, he still looked upset, Thor knew that he had woken him up from some nightmare, and it was clear that he was still pretty shaken up by it, he looked upset, and thor could see how tight his fists were, like he wanted to hit something. It was understandable, Loki was probably getting fed up with Laufey invading his sleep every night, who wouldn't be angry?
"Want to punch something?" Thor offered, which didn't make sense to loki at all.
"What?" How did Thor know that that would make him feel better?

"You look mad, which is fine. But we have a place for exercising and training, you should go punch a bag" Thor suggested "you could let off some steam without hurting anyone, and you should probably start getting more physical activity in, so it's a win-win" he added as he stood up. Loki hesitated, but then he stood up too, it would be a relief to vent his pain, he had a lot of it built up and he wanted to release it onto something.
Thor let Loki get dressed, and then they left the room.
Thor brought Loki down some stairs to a lower level of the palace, and then showed him to a large room set up with various equipment for exercises, and also with an area for combat training. To Loki's great pleasure, the room was empty. Thor went over to a large bag that was hanging from the ceiling, he grabbed onto it to hold it in place, then waved loki over.
"Come on, punch it" Thor told him, Loki came over and stood opposite of Thor so that he was in front of the bag.
"Just... punch it?" He asked, he felt a bit awkward now, he was just going to go crazy on a bag while Thor held it still?
"Yeah, it'll feel good. I know you're upset and you've never been allowed to get anything off your chest" Thor told him. He knew loki wanted to hit something from the way he was clenching his fists. Loki took a deep breath and then punched the bag with surprising force. Thor was expecting Loki to throw pretty weak punch, but he hit pretty hard.
As soon as Loki punched the bad he forgot that Thor was in the room and all his hesitation evaporated, he had a lot of pain built up and once he started hitting the bag, he felt an odd satisfaction that he didn't think he'd be able to feel again after killing the animal in the forest. He didn't know why this made his memories easier to deal with. as he punched the bag, his mind jumped to different horrible memories of Jotunhiem. He remembered the arenas, he remembered all the times he begged his mother to stop torturing him, he remembered all the mockery, all the pain, all the agony Ilkay and Laufey had caused him.

And each time a new painful memory found its way to his mind, he became more and more aggressive with his punches. Suddenly he became very aware of just how many scars he had, how many scars Laufey had left him, not just in his body, but on his mind.
Thor stayed quiet and didn't try to question loki or make him stop, he didn't ask why loki had been sleeping on the ground, or what the dream had been about, even though he was curious. he just let him punch the bag as long as he wanted. After a long time loki was feeling an unpleasant level of exhaustion, he had put all his energy and strength into hitting the bag, and now he was drenched with sweat and his lungs hurt from trying to breathe. He finally stopped and stood there panting for breath, he had been so lost in his thoughts that he'd almost forgotten that Thor was there at all. He looked up at him and took another deep breath.
"Thanks" he said tiredly. Thor nodded a little bit.
"Any time" he said "you have good form, where did you learn to punch like that?" Thor asked him, he thought it was a safe question, and he wanted to shift the subject away from Loki's pain and onto something easier to discuss.
"I payed attention when other people were punching me..." Loki said, his tone was bitter, as Thor would have anticipated. "One time I punched back.... it didn't end well, but I know how to punch" he added, which Thor found surprising. Loki didn't normally volunteer information about his past.
"How would you feel about learning to fight?" Thor asked as he tossed Loki a towel so he could dry the sweat from his face.
"Fight? What kind of fighting?" Loki asked, the only fighting he'd ever done was in the arenas, but he'd gotten to know Thor well enough to know that that's not what he had in mind.

"Like the warriors. With weapons, or just For self defense. You should be able to defend yourself if the situation were to arise, and you're stronger than people might guess" he said. Loki wasn't sure what to think of the idea... he would love to feel that he could defend himself, but it would be yet another new thing to get used to. Thor could see that he was thinking very hard about what to say, so he decided to give him a break.
"don't answer right now. Just think about it, and if you decide you want to learn combat skills, I'll teach you." Thor said with the friendly hand-on-Loki's-shoulder gesture. Loki was glad he had time to think about it, he knew he'd probably want to learn eventually, but not right now, he was still learning to read and write, and he thought it might be Better if he got used to speaking to people before he learned to fight them.
"Can- will you teach me how to use the rest of this stuff?" Loki asked as he gestured around the room to the various equipment. Trinity told him to exercise, and the physical exertion felt good. If he knew how to use this stuff on his own then he could come here whenever he needed to. He could finally learn to make things easier for himself.

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