“...And he said he’ll only delete it if I set him up with my ‘hot cousin’. That’s why,” Thor concluded, clasping his hands together in a pleading gesture, “you must go on a date with Thrym, Freyja. For me.”
Freyja looked appalled. She wrinkled her pretty freckled nose and tossed back her sunshine hair. “Me? With Thrym ? Because you messed up? You’re dreaming.”
“I need your help, Freyja…” He was truly desperate. “If he posts that video, it’ll be the end of me! ”
At the mentioned of Thor’s imminent doom, Loki perked up. He’d been gracefully reclining with a book on the bed at the other side of the dorm room, but now he abandoned the pretence of reading and set the book down. “What’s in that video anyway?” he asked.
Thor went red in the face. “That’s none of your business,” he mumbled.
Loki wiggled his eyebrows. “Been acting naughty?”
“No!” Thor’s blush deepened. “It’s nothing like that… but I still need him to delete the video.” He turned back to his cousin. “Thrym isn’t that bad. Give him a chance, you haven’t even met him.”
She snorted. “Sure, but he follows me on Instagram. He’s dumb as bricks. Yesterday I posted a pic and he commented: ‘you do realise I can see how many other guys you sent this to, right’? It was literally on my main feed.”
“Please. Are you going to let me die?”
“Ugh,” Freyja said. “Grow up. It’s just a video.”
Thor slumped back on his bed, holding his head with his hands.
“The way I see it,” Loki noted, “there’s only one very obvious course of action.”
“Nobody asked for your opinion,” Thor called angrily. He paused, scratched his head, then seemed to change his mind. “Okay, what is it?”
Loki pointed directly at him. “ You go on the date.”
Thor blinked. “What?”
“You go out with him,” Loki repeated as if it was obvious. “ You messed up and got caught on camera, you fix it.”
“Good idea,” Freyja said.
“But — “ Thor frowned. “Thrym is straight, and hates me, and anyway he wanted Freyja. What even — “
“You two are actually pretty similar,” Loki argued. “Same eyes, same skin-tone, same hair… more or less. Thrym never saw Freyja in real life, and all the photos on her Insta are… artistically blurred. Put a dress on it,” he gestured at Thor’s burly figure, “and he’ll be fooled like that.” He snapped his fingers.
“That’s ridiculous,” Thor said. “Just look at me!”
“Nothing that can’t be fixed by a master artist,” Loki insisted, batting his eyelashes.
Thor narrowed his eyes. “What’s in it for you ?”
Loki shrugged. “Just want to help my roommate in need.” He smiled. “And I get to see the video, of course.”
“No way in hell!” Thor shouted.
“Let it be posted, then.”
“What is it?” Freyja poked Thor’s cheek with a chuckle. “You’re afraid of wearing a dress?”
Thor’s mouth twitched. “No.”
“He just knows he’ll never be able to wear it as well as I do,” Loki explained.
“That’s not true! I can do anything better than you. And I’m definitely not afraid of anything.” Thor stood up and went to stand in front of the mirror. “I’ll do it,” he announced stoically, flexing his arm. “After all, I use coconut-scented shampoo. I am immune to toxic masculinity.”
Loki and Frejya exchanged glances.
“Come on,” Thor ordered. “Get me dressed up. In the meantime, I’ll text him to tell him the good news. The date can be today.”
“No, no, you won’t be ready today,” Loki stopped him.
“Today you’re learning.”
Thor crossed his arms. “What is there to learn?”
Loki’s smile was wicked. “Oh, you have no idea.”
Thor trembled and teetered on top of his high heels. He took a jerking step, grabbing onto Freyja’s shoulder to stop himself from falling.
“It’s not just about the clothes,” Loki said. “It’s body language. Mannerism. Walk more elegantly, will you? Swing your hips.”
Thor pushed his hip forward as if he was trying to punch someone with it, and fell over, landing on his ass. He groaned. “How do you guys do this?”
“We’re naturals,” Freyja said sweetly. “You clearly aren’t.”
“Ugh, I think I liked the part with my voice better.” Thor tugged at his heels. “Can’t I just wear flats? ”
“Absolutely not,” Loki said decisively. “Thrym will get the towering Viking girl he wanted.”
With difficulty, Thor pulled himself up. He tried to walk again. This time he didn’t fall, but there was still something distinctly duck-ish about his gait.
Loki nodded approvingly. “Slowly getting there.”
Thor looked up at the clock. It was already nine in the evening. “How long will this take?”
“Until you’re ready.”
By eleven o’clock they had him in a flowing dress that hid the tightly laced corset underneath.
“Can’t breathe,” he wheezed.
“Yes you can,” Loki told him. “Slow, deep breaths. Stay calm. Anyhow, the plan. We can’t trust Thrym to keep his promise, so we have to delete the video ourselves. We get our hands on his phone, you send me the video, then we delete it.”
“Don’t make such a face, it’s unladylike. Yes, obviously I’m coming with you. Tell him it’s a double date.”
“But you’ll make me UBC.” Thor frowned at their blank expressions. “Ugly By Comparison.”
Loki laughed. “You’re his type, don’t worry.”
“How do you know?”
“Remember the tall Viking girlfriend bit?”
Thor looked paler than usual. “How do we get his phone?”
“It has a case with his own face on it,” Freyja spoke up. She was sprawled over Thor’s bed, eating popcorn from a bag. “He has a mirror selfie as his Instagram profile picture. Why don’t you get a fake? Print a case like that, and you can use my old dead phone.”
Loki nodded. “Good thinking, hot cousin.”
“Thanks.” She grinned. “If you call me that again I’ll hang you from a tree by your intestines.”
Loki flinched. “Sorry. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Okay,” Thor said, “what if he sees through my cover?”
“We resort to plan B.”
“What’s plan B?”
“You punch him in the face and take the phone by force. I hide in the bathroom.”
Thor rolled his eyes. “Great. Good to know someone’s got my back.”
“Don’t worry.” Loki patted him lightly on the shoulder. “It’s not a good look on you.”
The next day found Thor and Loki waiting outside the local Burger Giant.
Loki had on a short black dress that brought out her dark eyes and hair; she had a piercing in her lip and was wearing combat boots. She looked ready for battle.
Thor was wearing a floral dress, pink heels and carefully done makeup. His hair was straight, vibrant and coconut-scented. He looked thoroughly uncomfortable.
They both had dark circles under their eyes from a night of preparation. It went well with Loki’s outfit, but on Thor, it just added to the general feeling of awkwardness.
Thor tugged at the hem of his sleeve. “Is it too late to abort?”
“Yes,” Loki hissed. “I can see them coming. Behind you. Remember what we talked about before.”
Thor turned abruptly and almost lost his balance. “Ah, there you are!” He said in an unnaturally high voice, plastering on a smile and waving.
Thrym was walking towards them with one of his football friends. He had the build of a cupboard and short-cropped hair. His friend was a little shorter and stockier and looked like a knock-off version of himself.
“Freyja, it’s so good to finally meet you,” Thrym said.
“The pleasure is all mine,” Thor said. His voice cracked in the middle of the sentence, becoming a low grumble. He covered his mouth.
Thankfully, Thrym didn’t seem to notice. “This is my friend, Angrboða.”
“Just call me Bob,” said the friend. “And you are?”
Thrym took Thor’s hand and kissed it. Thor looked like he was going to explode, but withstood it bravely. Bob tried to do the same to Loki, but she pulled her hand back before he managed. “Let’s go inside,” she suggested.
They sat down by a greasy table, Thor and Loki on one side, Thrym and Bob on the other. Thrym put his elbows on the table. “I’m so nervous,” he said, looking into Thor’s eyes. “I can’t believe I’m finally on a date with you.”
Thor didn’t reply. He was probably afraid of how his voice would sound.
Loki glanced at him worriedly, then, seeing that he was still silent, she gave a strategic giggle. “I bet poor Freyja is so nervous she can’t even talk. She didn’t sleep at all tonight, you know. She was so excited about this date.”
“Really?” Thrym put his hand to his chest. “That’s so sweet, Freyja…”
“That’s not true,” Thor burst out. “I’m not nervous. Nothing makes me nervous .”
Loki kicked him in the shin.
“Ah, yes!” Thrym raised a fist. “You go, girl. Nothing can stop you.”
An impatient waiter arrived to take their orders. Everyone ordered a standard meal, except for Thor who went for a triple cheeseburger with extra fries on the side. Thrym raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything.
Loki glared at Thor when the waitress left. She tried to communicate her disappointment with her eyes, but Thor seemed oblivious to her attempts. Clearly, he wasn’t going to make their task any easier; she’d have to come up with a plan for getting the phone herself.
Her plotting was cut off when Bob leaned towards her. “Tell me, Loki, what do you do?”
She smiled politely. “I study political science and theatre.”
He whistled. “About as far from each other as you can get.” Then he seemed to reconsider. “But I can see what they have in common.”
Something about the way he said it made Loki uneasy. “You do?”
“Yeah, they’ve both got a lot to do with deceit. You’d make a great con artist.” Bob laughed as if it was a joke.
Loki narrowed her eyes. Did he know? “What do you do?” she asked, trying to steer the conversation back to safer waters. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you around campus before.”
“Yeah, I’m not a student. I teach karate. Thrym was my student once, that’s how we met.” He smiled. “I’ve always wanted to be a drag queen, though.”
Loki gave a tinkling laugh. He definitely knew. “It’s never too late to start,” she told him, already planning her escape route.
In the meantime, Thrym was pouring his heart out to Thor. “My team lost yesterday, and I failed most of the semester exams, and my dog had surgery and has to walk with a cone around its head. Life is hard, but that makes it easier to appreciate the bright sides, like this date. Right, Freyja?”
Thor nodded. He cleared his throat. “That’s harsh. But you’re so brave for talking about this.”
“Thanks for saying that, Freyja.” There was actually a tear in the corner of his eye.
Their food arrived. Before Thrym had even picked up his burger, Thor dug into his meal. He finished his burger and fries within a minute, then snatched Loki’s burger out of her hands, downing it with a coke. He went on to sweep through her fries, ignoring her constant kicking under the table. Finally, he leaned back, gazed with satisfaction at the empty, shining plates, rested his hands on his belly and belched loudly.
Thrym and Bob were staring, wide-eyed. With what looked like a great effort, Thrym managed a smile. “I love a real girl with a good appetite,” he said.
“She was just starved,” Loki replied weakly. “She hadn’t eaten at all yesterday, she was so nervous.”
Thrym grinned. “Aw, you’re really very soft inside, right, Frey-Frey?”
Loki made a gagging noise. She did her best to keep a straight face. From the corner of her eye, she saw Bob looking at her; he looked amused. She had to act, quick. “Hey,” she said, “let’s take a selfie together, guys.”
“Great idea!” Thrym said enthusiastically.
Loki reached into her purse, then slapped her hand to her forehead. “Shoot, I forgot to charge my phone. It’s quite dead. Can I have yours, Freyja? Oh, wait… Right… Sorry, I forgot about that.”
“What happened?” Thrym asked.
“Freyja dropped her phone on the way here,” Loki sighed. “She was just so…”
“Nervous,” Thor finished. He knew the drill by now.
“You can have my phone,” Bob suggested.
Loki hesitated. “I — “
“Take mine.” Thrym handed her his phone.
Wow, she thought. You really made it easy.
Loki took the phone, then promptly dropped it to the floor. “Oh no,” she gasped, “my hand slipped.”
“Let me help,” Thrym suggested. He got up from his chair, but Thor got up at the same moment, clumsily shaking the table and spilling Thrym’s coke all over his white shirt. “I’m so sorry,” he rumbled, “let me help.” He picked up a tissue and began dabbing at Thrym’s collar. Thrym swallowed hard and stood still.
Loki bent down to pick up the phone, showing enough bare leg to keep attention away from her hands. However, when she stood up, Bob was looking directly into her eyes.
I’ve underestimated this guy.
Loki handed Thrym a phone that had his own face on the case. “Sorry. There you go.”
“Loki Lie-smith,” Bob said sternly. “We should hang out alone sometime. We’re too smart for our friends.”
“Hey!” said Thor and Thrym at the same time.
Loki steadily studied Bob’s face for a moment. Then she took a pen out of her purse and scribbled her phone number on his napkin. “Fine.” She stood up, straightening her dress. “And now, I must go to the bathroom. If you’ll excuse me for a moment.”
She walked away, not looking back, and closed the bathroom door behind her.
Thor went back to his chair and sat down stiffly. He kept his eye on his own phone, waiting for the sign.
Thrym still looked dazed. “You know,” he confided, “I’ve always dreamed about a girl like you. A girl so tall I’ll have to look up to.”
A shudder went down Thor’s spine.
“A girl who could break my neck with her bare hands if she wanted to.”
Thor held on tightly to his phone, his knuckles going white.
“A girl— “
A new notification popped up. Loki had sent a thumbs-up emoji.
Thor hastily got up. “I’m sorry,” he said, “my friend needs help. Excuse me, gentlemen.”
He ran to the bathroom, not slipping once. He entered the ladies’ room and locked the door behind him. “Done?” he asked.
Loki nodded. “We have the video, and Thrym doesn’t.”
“Good! Finally. I was losing my mind back there.”
Loki placed Thrym’s phone by the sink for him to find later. He wasn’t bad enough to deserve to have his phone stolen. She tried to open the window.
It was locked.
“Step back,” Thor said.
“I said, step back,” Thor repeated, voice dangerous.
Loki instinctively did as she was told. “What are you— ”
Thor smashed the window with his fist. It shattered into pieces. He removed one of his heels and used it to knock off the shards of glass still hanging onto the window frame. His hand was unscathed.
“Are you even human?” Loki whispered.
“Look who’s talking, shapeshifter.” Thor gestured at the window. “Ladies first.”
Loki pulled herself up to the windowsill, then hopped off. Thor followed with a quick lunge. Somehow, he landed perfectly on his heels without even stumbling.
He beamed. “I did it!”
“You did it!” Loki smiled back. “Now let’s get out of here.”
Back in the room, Loki sat cross-legged on her bed and swiped open her phone. “You were terrible, ” she said. “Eating like that? What were you thinking?”
Thor was standing in front of the mirror, pulling off his feminine pieces of clothing one by one. “Well, say what you want, Thrym liked it.”
“We’re lucky that he has weird kinks. Anyhow, good work. Especially that part with the window.”
Thor smiled and gave her a thumbs-up. “You were awesome.”
“Thanks," she replied smugly. "I know. Now let me watch the video.”
Thor steeled himself.
Loki pressed ‘play’. She watched in silence. The video was about a minute long. As she watched, her eyes grew wide. When she finished, she put the phone down and stared at Thor with disbelief.
“What?” Thor demanded.
“But it’s just — “ Loki said faintly. “It’s just you eating salad and drinking a mojito.”
“Shhh!” Thor put his finger to his mouth. “Not so loud!”
“Thor, you went through all that just because of this ?”
Thor crossed his arms over his chest. “It’s embarrassing.”
“You went on a date with a guy! In a dress!!!” Loki waved her arms wildly. “What’s up with your idea of masculinity? It’s completely upside down!”
“No, it makes sense,” Thor argued. “That corset hurt like a bitch and those heels were a challenge from hell. It was a brave thing to do. A warrior’s act.”
Loki fell back onto her bed, exasperated. “Nevermind. Whatevs. I don’t care.”
“Okay. Now delete the video,” Thor told her.
Loki frowned, confusion returning to her face. Then she started laughing.
“Oh, you’re hilarious, Thor,” Loki wheezed, wiping a tear from her eye. “You really think I’d give up such good leverage against you?”
“Loki! Tell me you’re joking.”
That made her laugh even harder. Her whole body was shaking. She slapped her knee. “I — I can’t even — “
Thor grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. “I thought you were on my side.”
“I’m on no-one’s side,” she giggled. “You should know that by now. Hah! You’re going to have to do whatever I say from now on...”
“I’ll get your phone and delete it myself!” Thor fumed.
“Good luck guessing my password.”
That day, Thor’s roars of rage echoed through the dorms. The students cowered in their rooms with fear. Some of them looked out the windows and were surprised to see blue skies; they could swear they’d heard thunder.