Chapter 59

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Later that day Odin called a meeting with the entire counsel, Loki was able to convince Trinity to let him attend, and she even went with him. But the meeting did little to elevate any of the stress Loki was experiencing, as of now, all they could do was send a message to laufey and confirm what was going on, and demand a face to face meeting. Odin told Loki that if they were able to arrange a face to face meeting with laufey that it would take place of Jotunhiem , and Loki would not join them. It was an attempt to make Loki stop worrying, but it didn't work at all. It also didn't help when over a week went by and they still hadn't heard form laufey. If nothing was actually going on, laufey would've gotten back to them immediately.  Loki had taken the opportunity to train harder, not only did it get his mind off things for a short time, but it was comforting to know that his fighting skills were improving and he may actually be able to defend himself if Laufey sent another agent.
Thor came to the training grounds every day to watch loki train, and he started to notice a concerning pattern; Loki won a great deal of the time, but whenever he was up against a higher ranking soldier, he'd fail. Even if that soldier was an inadequate fighter. One day Thor decided to do an experiment, he had one of the newest soldiers fight with loki, but he told Loki that the soldier was high ranking. Loki's skill level was a bit higher than his opponents, but Loki still lost. Thor kept tying to figure out what was going on, but he wasn't able to. Thor ignored  it for a while, but then something happened and he knew he needed to fix Loki's problem
"Loki" Thor saw Loki walking to the training grounds and quickly walked to catch up with him. Loki turned around quickly, he'd been slightly more alert since hearing that Laufey had sent an agent after him, and he reacted quickly to things.
"Yes?" Loki asked, adjusting a piece of armor.
"Are you going out to train?" Thor asked him. Loki thought it was a weird questions, what else would he be doing in combat armor?
"Yes, I'm on my way there now, I was going to practice with knives" Loki said. Thor shook his head a bit.
"Do that later, right now I'd like to train with you" he stated. Loki was confused, Thor seemed nervous and tense, but Loki couldn't figure out why. Nothing new had happened. Well, that's what he thought, but earlier that day Thor had found something out that was worrying him to no end.
"Is something wrong?" Loki asked as they headed to the arena.
"I hope not. I'm trying to figure that out" Thor said, which really didn't tell Loki anything at all. But he decided to leave him alone for now, whatever was bothering Thor was his own business, and he clearly didn't want to share it.
Loki and Thor entered the arena and began to fight. As soon as they started Thor went on the offense, and it was clear he wasn't holding back. He was fighting to win just like he would if he was in battle, so loki had to do the same.  The fight was rapid and intense, Thor didn't pull his punches and loki wasn't willing to stay in the defense, he attacked Thor as hard as he could, but eventually, Thor won. Loki had being shifting a defense to an attack and Thor had managed to elbow him in the stomach, Loki was disoriented for a second and Thor was able to pin him.
"Again" Thor said after loki tapped out. Loki pulled himself to his feet and got ready for another round. Normally he could do four or five fights before getting too exhausted.
Loki and Thor fought again, and Thor won again. They fought four more fights, and Thor won each fight, the weird part was that he seemed to get more and more upset every time he beat Loki. When Loki tapped out Thor seemed mad at him, and Loki didn't understand why, why would he be mad if he's winning?
"Stop holding back!" Thor yelled at Loki, who was laying on the ground after another loss. He felt like his lungs were collapsing, his head was ringing, sweat was blinding his eyes, and he couldn't fight anymore.
"I'm no- I'm not holding back" loki panted, pulling himself back off the ground, holding his chest.
"Yes you are. You can do better than this" Thor told him. Loki took a few breaths before speaking again.
"I haven't been doing this for that long. Of course you'll beat me" he panted. Thor shook his head, he was out of breath too, but he seemed more upset than tired.
"No, no you're better than this. I've watched you fight and you can win" he said "and I'm not letting you leave until you do" he added, getting into position for another fight.
"Why do you care? I'm improving, why does it matter if I can't beat you?" Loki asked, he wanted to be done but Thor wasn't going to let him.
"It's not about beating me, it's the reason you won't beat me that bothers me" Thor said, going in for an attack to start the fight. Loki barely had time to react but he was able to evade the attack, then counter strike. This fight was like the others, fast and intense, and left little time for thinking, and Thor offered no break.
"Stop letting me win!" Thor shouted as Loki fell to the ground again.
"I'm not letting you win!" Loki yelled back, he was getting angry too, he wanted to win so he could be done but Thor was forcing him to stay here. "Why would I let you win? That doesn't make any sense" Loki said as Thor pulled him back to his feet and started another fight.
"Because you're afraid to win" Thor said as he went in for another attack, but Loki was so sick of starting the fight on defense that he attacked at the same time and the fight got very chaotic very fast.
"I'm not afraid to win, why would I be?!" Loki yelled as they fought.
"Maybe because you're still afraid of the people above you!" Thor yelled at Loki as he swept his foot out from under him and pinned him to the ground. "You were never allowed to be above anyone before, and I think that deep down you're still afraid to beat someone above you. You're afraid to beat me" Thor said, Loki knew Thor was distracted by talking so he took the opportunity to shove his elbow into Thor's stomach and knock him off.
"That's insane!" Loki shouted, though something Thor said had struck a nerve, and Loki was starting to think that maybe he was right. Maybe subconsciously he was letting him win, maybe his mind wasn't doing all it could to beat Thor because he knows that Thor has authority. He didn't think he'd been doing that, he didn't think he'd been holding back, but maybe his old nature was still lurking in the background.
"I'm not letting you go until you beat me, and I'm not letting you tap out again. You have to pretend this is real battle, so are you going to defeat the enemy, or are you going to die because of fear?" Thor challenged, which got Loki's temper to rise. Loki attacked first  this time, he attacked hard and fast, trying to prove to himself and to Thor that he wasn't holding back. But he was tired from the long hours they'd been spending out here, and Thor was still fighting back strong. They started attacking each other so fast that it was just a knot of punches and jabs, until finally Loki felt Thor's fist connect with his ribs and felt them crack. Loki stopped fighting and collapsed to the ground. Normally he would've tapped out but Thor said he wasn't going to let him.
"Loki, I left myself open for you multiple times, you could've won a long time ago but something in your head is holding you back" Thor said as he knelt down next to Loki. He knew Loki was probably mad it him now, he probably hated him, but thor just wanted to make sure Loki could defend himself.
"Loki I'm so sorry, and I'll understand if you can't forgive me for this" Thor said, his voice and face were full of pain as his fingers locked around Loki's neck. Loki felt Thor's grip tighten until he could no longer breathe, Loki grabbed at Thor's hands to free himself, but nothing was working, soon his vision started to go spotty, and darkness consumed him.
=*****=
Loki woke up hours later. He was in his chambers, in his bed. He felt the bandages around his ribs, but otherwise he wasn't in terrible condition, just some bruises. But when he looked around and saw Thor, he sat up straight, forgetting his pain.
"I'm sorry" Thor said, he was standing a few feet from Loki's bed.
"No you're not" Loki said back bitterly, he couldn't remember ever feeling like this, he'd never felt betrayed before because he'd never had any friends before.
"I needed you to win-" Thor started to speak but Loki cut him off.
"Why?!" He shouted with surprising volume "why does it matter?! Why are you suddenly so eager to make me invincible?! Why do you think it's necessary to beat my fear out of me?! I can't fix a subconscious problem Thor! So why are you trying so desperately to fix this?!" Loki demanded, Thor didn't think he'd ever seen Loki this angry, he'd actually never seen Loki angry at all, Loki was usually pretty quiet, and it pained Thor to know that he'd made Loki so angry, he hated himself for hurting Loki, someone he'd grown to know and love as a brother.
"I am trying to protect you, I'm trying to make you less vulnerable" Thor said.
"And why is it now suddenly so much more important? Why can't you let me take my time with it?" Loki demanded. Thor took a deep breath, he didn't want to tell loki this, he wished he could avoid it, but he had to know.
"Because Laufey is coming to Asgard"

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