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What I Once Was

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The table displayed a lavish spread of dishes from which both Loki and Thor eat enthusiastically. While it wasn’t the Asgardian feasts the pair were used to, both had to admit that Midgardian food wasn’t half bad. They ate privately on Thor's floor of Avengers tower, where Loki's room was located as well. Loki had been with the Avengers for almost a month now, serving his sentence and the only constant in his day was having dinner with his brother. He hadn’t been able to find any other sort of routine since arriving and the others hadn’t been at all welcoming. Loki remained convinced that if his brother were not here then the Avengers would have happily thrown him into a prison cell.

Not a single one of them was happy with Loki being there and they didn’t try to hide the fact from him. He could practically feel the waves of hatred pouring off of them. They especially hated the fact that he seemed to have gotten off with an easy sentence, that the decided punishment was ‘rectifying the mess he had made of New York’. It hadn’t helped that Thor had done a very bad job of explaining exactly what had occurred. When telling his friends the sentence Thor had made it seem that the punishment was for the attack. In reality, Loki was being punished for not having been strong enough to resist the torture he had undergone at the hands of Thanos. The All-Father felt he hadn’t fought through it as a warrior should have. Thor hadn’t divulged that information and Loki wasn’t going to correct him. Not with the hate-filled glares, he was already receiving, they would never believe him anyway.

Loki put up with the animosity and just focused on doing his job. Which was a lot more difficult than he had first imagined. Shield had demanded his magic be bound before he was allowed to set foot on Midgard although he couldn’t imagine how they expected him to rebuild their city if he didn’t have assess to his seidr. But that was their problem, not his. So far he had mainly been helping the cleanup crew with giving out supplies to those made homeless by the attack. And always with an Avenger close by.

The two Gods were just finishing up their meal when Thor spoke out. “Loki, I will be returning to Asgard tomorrow for Father needs assistance in settling some disputes about the realms. I should only be gone for a few months. Father says you are to stay here and fulfill your sentence. When the city is back to its previous state then all will be forgiven and you too will be welcomed back to Asgard.”

Loki didn’t even bother to hold back a snort. He had never been welcome in Asgard, to begin with, and now that they all knew about his heritage, the hatred aimed towards him would be all the worse, he shivered just thinking of how the guards had treated him when he had been in the dungeons after Thor had brought him back.

“Brother behave.” Thor said although his voice was filled with amusement. The two finished up their meal before retiring to bed.

Loki slept fitfully and woke up feeling more tired than when he went to bed. Thor woke early and Loki filed out to see his brother off. Along the way, Thor reminded Loki to ask Dr. Banner to check his injuries in a few days time. Thor had been monitoring Loki’s wounds as Loki had expressed concern about having anyone else that close to him. Loki nodded, though he had no plan to ask the Avengers for any form of assistance. Besides all but the worst wounds and breaks had healed by now anyway.

Thor departed and Loki felt at loose ends, he wasn’t needed with the recovery crew until two and wasn’t sure what to do in the meantime. The rest of the Avengers made sure he knew he was unwelcome with them, glaring at him when he hesitated in the communal room. Shrugging it off, he pretended he wasn’t at all bothered by the icy attitudes and made his way back to Thor’s rooms. There wasn’t any amusement to be found so he ended up just lying down, which in turn ended in his falling asleep. He still found himself exhausted, even when he hadn’t done anything and while he knew the reason why, that he was still recovering without any aid from his magic, it still frustrated him.

He awoke with a shout as Steve shoved his shoulder to wake him up. His first reaction was to lash out though he managed to contain that, instead growling out a command for the captain to not touch him. Steve raised an eyebrow but held his hands up just the same.

“We leave in fifteen minutes. Make sure you’re ready.” And with that, the captain left the room. Loki groaned and rolled over. He blinked blearily and saw that it was indeed a quarter to two. Slowly he got out of bed, attempting to comb his hair back. Failing to tame it without the use of his magic he gave up and tied it back in a sloppy ponytail. The overall effect made him look tired and ill.

He shuffled his way through into the shared living space and saw that Steve was leaning against the counter, already waiting for him.

“You ready?” Loki nodded and they left. The captain walked swiftly into the elevator that would take them to the ground floor exit. Loki swallowed the pain fast movement caused and followed the captain with his head held high. Just because he was healing, didn’t mean he was better yet, this was the first time he’d been left to heal without the assistance of his magic. The suppressors had been placed on him as soon as the captured him after the invasion. Then he’d been sent to Midgard directly after the trial leaving no gap in between where he might have recovered. Plus he also had the addition of the wounds from his time in Asgard's dungeons.

The Captain didn’t speak to him on the whole journey over. The Shield man in charge go clean up that day treated Steve warmly upon arrival and led them to their section. Today they had been assigned to the group clearing the rubble of destroyed buildings off the road. There were bright yellow skips all around. Loki vaguely heard the discussion in the background that they couldn’t use machinery to clean this but he wasn’t sure of the reason why it didn’t make much sense to him. They set to work.

Loki’s mood worsened as the day went on. He wasn’t used to manual labor in the first place, let alone with an injured body and no magic to reinforce his strength. Manual labor. Loki thought. When all I would have to do is click my fingers and the whole building would be restored.

He continued grumbling in his head until the clock hit five and all the teams were called in. The volunteers were thanked. Loki was given many glares. Then they were off again, heading back to the tower. Once inside Steve headed straight for the dining room and joined the rest of the team at the table. There wasn’t a place for Loki, but the God shrugged it off. He didn’t care to eat with them anyway so it’s not like it mattered. He stacked a plate high with food from the kitchen and retreated into his room.

Without Thor there the food seemed to have lost some of its appeal and he ate with a lot less relish than before. He made his way through third helpings of the main dish, a sort of pasta, before polishing it off with several pieces of fruit from the bowl on Thor’s kitchen table.

By the time he was finished, he felt bloated. Leaning back on the settee he ran a hand down his stomach, growling when he realised there was a slight bump there. It wasn’t very noticeable but considering his stomach normally caved inwards he wasn’t happy about it. He had obviously eaten far too much that evening so he decided to retire to bed and sleep it off.

Once again he slept fitfully, waking many times throughout the night. His dreams kept returning over and over to the darkness of the void. He shuddered. It was still dark when he woke but he knew he wouldn’t get any more sleep that night. He pottered through his morning routine, doing everything mechanically until he was undressing ready to shower when he had caught sight of himself in the floor length mirror.

At first, the normal reflection stared back at him, pale skin covered in scars. Then he noticed the roundness of his stomach hadn’t receded overnight but that was not all. As he looked closer he saw that his thighs now touched as he stood, he could no longer see the outline of his ribs and worst of all his arms wobbled when he poked them. His hips were no longer angular and the conclave space between them was gone. He shuddered in disgust.

He couldn't comprehend what had caused this change in his body. Never before had he had a problem with weight gain. In fact, he had eaten more in Asgard than here and had always remained worryingly underweight. Even those times when he had tried his hardest to pack on the pounds, desperately trying to build muscle mass, it had never worked.

In his younger years, Loki had been ashamed of this, self-conscious in front of his well-built brother, but as he had grown he’d realised the advantages of being slight. It allowed him to sneak around, gather information that no one else knew. He’d learned to be happy with his body the way it was, to feel confident in his lithe form. Now, however, he couldn’t bear to look at himself. Something needed to be done.

Over the next three days, he continued observing the fat on his body, putting together many theories on how it could have happened. He scribbled them down on a piece of paper.

He was overeating.

The first statement written was crossed out after Loki thought how unlikely it was, he had eaten in much greater quantities on Asgard.

The food here was processed and fatty.

He wasn’t as active.

Although he was still doing physical work, every day he was dragged down to the city to help with ‘clean up’. His body wasn’t holding up well to that. The work was aggravating the more serious of his injuries that still lingered, every time his ribs got close to healing he would be forced to do physical labor and they would break once again. The same with the others that were still healing. If anything he was too active.

He re-wrote overeating.

If only his magic was back, he would be better in an instant. His magic? Did magic stop you from becoming fat?

Magic burns fat.

The last sentence was soon underlined and, as he pondered it more, he circled it.

In the week that followed, Loki spent all his free time doing research. Among the few belongings, he had brought with him were several old books, ancient books on the workings of seidr. Everything became strewn about the room in a frantic mess. Generally, Loki was a neat person but whenever he got caught up in a project then the research materials would be on every available surface.

This new behaviour was brought to the attention of the Avengers when Natasha came in to collect Loki for the days' work. She took silent notice of the foreign material and brought it up at the team meeting later that day. That is why, when Loki can back the day after, it was to see all of his materials, books, and calculations, being boxed up and taken out of Thor’s suite.

He stood stock still as everything was removed. When the shock wore off he felt anger begin to build. It started slowly and then burned brighter in his mind until the only way he could let off the excess emotions was to hurl the furniture around the room. It took half an hour to work out his frustrations and by the time he finished the whole place was a battered mess. Chairs lay in splintered parts on the floor, the wardrobe door hung on its hinges and every mirror was smashed to pieces.

It was only as he calmed that he felt the pain wash over him. Slumping to the floor, he pulled his shirt off. It seemed he had reopened all of his old injuries. The cuts were bleeding sluggishly and the ribs were definitely re-broken. The others that hadn’t had a chance to heel yet, like the broken ankle and torn tendons felt a million times worse.

He found a flannel to wet so he could wipe down a particularly profusely bleeding cut on his side. As he put his hand to his skin he froze. Under his hand was a roll of fat. He couldn’t believe it. No. He wouldn’t believe it. He wobbled to the full-length mirror in the bathroom, that had escaped his manic anger, and his reflection showed the way the fat bunched up when he lent forwards or twisted.

Nausea welled inside him, a cold sweat broke out over his skin and his hands started shaking. How could he have let himself get this out of shape? He felt hideous. Forgetting his agitated injuries his went for his notebook, that he’d hidden under his pillow and had not been seized by the Avengers. Shakily he flipped through the pages until he found his list. Staring out at him was the many underlined phrase, magic burns fat.

He had nearly completed his research before they took it away and from what he could find it seemed that magic burned through energy created from food. So if he didn’t have his magic then his body just stored the excess calories. The solution, therefore, seemed simple, he told himself while taking deep breaths, he just needed to cut down on food. If he did that he’d be back to normal in no time.