“What are you doing?”
Jane paused, his accusatory tone igniting a spark of anger in her. She sent a glare at him, which seemed to say what-does-it-look-like, before she turned away. She heard his sigh behind her, and then the light taps of his footsteps on the marble tiles, before she felt his heavy presence leaning over her shoulder. Her bent figure automatically straightened and slumped against his chest, like a magnet. In fact, it’s all she ever does ever since he came, looking to touch him and feel him to make sure he’s really there instead of a figment of her imagination. And she probably wouldn’t tire of it, because the feel of him gives her calmness and security.
He adjusted their position so she’d lean better against him and let out an exasperate sigh. His hands were idly running up and down her arm. It was a comforting gesture, for her and for himself. Not that he would admit to it, but she knows how much he needs her to ground him.
“It would not work, Jane.”
“It will this time. Have some faith, Loki.” Jane retreated from his hold, bending over the device on the worktable once more. She’d fixed the measuring device and tinkered with some of the magnetic sensors. She didn’t want to end up in Antarctica again. Safe to say, Loki wasn’t pleased when he found her half-frozen with a shattered transportation device.
And frankly, Jane was feeling exceedingly guilty at her excursions. The fact that he was unable to track her down immediately worries Loki more than it does Jane. She knows he’d get to her eventually but Loki himself is always anxious about losing her that he ends up jumping from place to place until he locates her presence.
“I have said before, you do not have the power necessary to make this device function. Besides, it looks unstable, Jane. I would not say with confidence that it would survive the journey.” Jane looked at him again, her brow furrowed. He had that earnest look, but she could see how his eyes were strained with concern. Her face softened. She did internally agree with him; none of her previous prototypes survived the journey. Either they come apart in her hand, or the sensitive instruments react badly to the extreme temperatures. Once it even exploded upon landing that Jane still has a burn scar somewhere on her forearm. Then there’s the fact that she never lands where she’s supposed to. Loki had given her the coordinates to Alfheim after much pestering, and those were the only numbers she’s ever plotted. But Loki was right – there never was enough power to carry her out of Earth. She was extremely lucky that she didn’t land in the middle of the ocean or inside some active volcano.
“I know you worry for me, Loki,” she began, “but believe me when I say it will work out this time. I’ve fixed it all.”
Loki frowned. “You don’t know that! This is not some Midgardian lift for you to get on one floor and out the other. You could get stuck in between!”
“It’s a risk I’m willing to take, Loki. This – this could be big! Imagine building our own Bifrost… the Asgardians could travel again… ”
“It doesn’t matter, Jane! You’re only going to end up in a whole lot of trouble. I won’t be there every time to bring you home!”
“For God’s sake, why don’t you trust me? You gave me some safe coordinates to follow but you keep getting angry at me for trying to use them. What is the point of it all if I can’t see my hard work pay off?”
“You should try being patient for once, Jane!”
“Patient? You’re telling me to be patient? I’ve been waiting my entire life for this. I’m so very close now. And nothing’s gonna stop me.”
His glower deepened. “Wait, Jane –”
But she didn’t wait. She reached for the device, her fingers blurring with speed as she typed in the coordinates once more. Loki’s fingers only managed to grasp her flannels before they both winked out of the room.
Jane landed face first into something soft. The device had long slipped out of her hands. Disorientation creeped up on her as she pushed herself to her knees. Every breath she took felt utterly chilly. Then she opened her eyes and let out a frustrated sigh. Dammit. It was a snowy landscape again, but dark. The only luminosity was moonlight and that too was dim.
She began to panic slightly. “Gotta find it. Gotta find it…” She muttered to herself, as she began to scour the surface of the snow. It was too dark for her human eyes to see properly and the snow was dense. But Jane was determined. Even if the jump was not a success, she hoped at least that the device had survived. That in itself is a major breakthrough. She’d finally have a stable mini-Bifrost.
“Jane?” She felt his presence behind her well before she heard his voice.
“Wait! I’m looking for it. It must be somewhere here…” She trailed off. It was frustrating. There was just so much of snow. “Ah, there it is!” She exclaimed triumphantly. The glimmer of metal reflected off of moonlight caught her eyes and she lunged for it. “Look, Loki! It’s just perfect!”
“Jane…” He said, taking hold of her shoulders and pulling her up. “I don’t think –”
“See? It’s intact! I told you! I’d fixed it. This is gonna be great. A Bifrost replica. C’mon, let’s go back.” She muttered, trying to change the coordinates.
But the screen never lit up. Jane’s bright face was scrunching up in confusion and Loki was becoming increasingly frustrated. “Jane! We have to leave! Now!”
“What? It’s not… working? Why isn’t it working? It looks fine.” She turned the device over and over again in her hands. “Maybe the circuit is destroyed?” She shook the device. “But there would be some kind of noise. Maybe –”
“Do something, Jane. We cannot be here.” He said, his hold tightening on her shoulders.
His urgent tone finally caught her attention. She looked up at his panic stricken face and spiralled further down into confusion. “Here? Did you offend the scientists from last time and got banned?”
“Foolish girl, look around you! We must go!”
Her eyes darted around to observe their surroundings. “Hey, I know that was stupid but you don’t have to call me… out…” There were trees. Lots of trees. And not a single artificial light in her line of sight. “Alaska? We’re in some sort of wilderness? What’s so dangerous about that?” She raised her eyebrow at him, and Loki looked ready to tear his hair out.
“Valhalla above, when we do get home, I will murder you. It is not Alaska and we need to leave before those monsters find us.”
“What monsters? And the device has malfunctioned, remember? And if it’s not Alaska, are we in Siberia or something? I don’t think snow leopards count as monsters but I won’t judge if you’re afraid of them. Besides,” she shrugged, “If you’re in such a hurry you could transport us yourself.”
But before he could respond, the distant sound of snow crunching and booming steps reached them.
“Shh. Come.” He whispered, grabbing her wrist with a strong grip and pulled her after him. Jane would’ve protested; she didn’t understand his distress. But the sudden raucous inhuman laughter that followed caused her to scramble after him.
They found themselves crouching behind a massive boulder, peeking out the side to study the scene. Jane just noticed that they were in the middle of a narrow valley now that she was on higher ground. Rocks and jagged ice jutted out of the snowy slopes with trees lining them. Loki and Jane had to manoeuvre their way up carefully, lest they send loose snow down into the valley where some creatures now appeared. And they were huge. Jane gasped.
“Giants! They’re giants! Oh my –” Loki clamped a hand over her mouth.
“Keep yelling and they will find us.” He muttered in her ear. She shrugged of his hand.
“They’re blue!” She whispered. It was awe-inspiring, humbling and terrifying all at the same time. “Loki, it’s Frost Giants! That means we’re in –”
“Jötunnheim. Now hush.”
She was internally squealing. It didn’t matter now that the device was broken. She’d just transported herself (and Loki) to another planet in the far reaches of the universe with only her sheer hard work and persistence. It was the second best day of her life. And she couldn’t contain herself.
“What are they doing?” She prompted again, mindful to keep her voice down.
“Hunting. Can you not be inquisitive for once, Jane? I’d like to return home in one piece. Unfrozen. Preferably with you.”
“I don’t see why you can’t just use your magic to bring us back. It didn’t stop you before even when you wanted to tear my head out. Multiple times.”
“What do you mean you can’t?” She swivelled around to look at him. “You call yourself the greatest Asgardian sorcerer and you can’t spare some magic to open a pathway for us?”
“It just means I can’t. Sorcerers have a limit and this is too large a distance to travel. It requires too much magical strength.”
“What did you even do for it to diminish?”
“I don’t know, finding you in uncharacteristic places after running around like a lunatic and whisking you away before you run into more trouble. And don’t forget the fact that I wait for you in Alfheim every time, hoping that you’d finally prove me wrong.”
She bit her lip, her eyes downcast. “Oh…”
“We are stranded here for now, if your device has truly malfunctioned. And as weak as I am, I may not be able to defend us from those monsters. We must be cautious.”
They continued to watch the creatures in silence then, and it was awful. The cold was close to unbearable but her mind couldn’t register it. All she saw was the hunting party succeed in severing the head of a beast with one swing of a blade. Jane hid her face in Loki’s chest, her fingers curling over the collar of his tunic.
She sat between his legs wrapped in his cape while Loki leaned against the boulder. The Frost Giants had left a while ago and Jane could finally breathe without fearing if they could hear her. The fact that the pair of them had no means to defend themselves if the Frost Giants were hostile terrified her, and having Loki with her, that is definitely a given. She wouldn’t deny that Loki is an excellent warrior but she didn’t know how good he can be without his magic.
“How long would it take for you to recharge?”
“Recharge?” He asked, eyebrows raised in confusion.
“Uh, regaining your strength?” She had to crane her neck to look up at him. Her current position would’ve put Jane Foster from Puente Antiguo utterly uncomfortable. But knowing he is there, keeping the both of them in clarity made her relish it. She hadn’t felt that horrible disconnectedness since he came and she wasn’t about to let bitter memories ruin that.
“Ah. I cannot predict a specific timescale. I will feel refreshed and I just know.”
“But now you know you are running low on supply. Very low.”
“Yes. Unfortunately.” He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer. “Do not worry, Jane. Maybe this dull planet does have a use for me. Being here could heal me faster than on Midgard.”
A spark lighted in Jane’s head. A distant memory of something that had slipped her mind. Oh no… “You were born here, were you not?”
He sighed. “An unfortunate occurrence but true nonetheless.”
Jane’s face flushed with guilt and she looked away from him. After what he’d done, it was horrible of her to forget. It was in the back of her mind earlier in the day, when they were still on earth. But after he’d interrupted her and ran his mouth, all thoughts of it had fled her mind. She swallowed.
“Frigga told me when your birthday was.” She felt him stiffen immediately. “And I’m sorry I forgot about it. Honest. I didn’t mean to do it but it just slipped my mind.” She paused. He was silent and rigid and she was scared she’d said something wrong. “Loki?”
“Do not concern yourself with it, Jane. It is a trivial matter.” It was dismissive. And it hurt Jane more than she would care to admit.
“But… it’s your birthday.”
“I have seen many of these days in my lifetime. It does not matter.” She didn’t have to look at him to know that he’s bothered. It only made her more determined to make him feel happy over it.
“But it does! It is the first one with me in it. Well – second, but I just recently found out so it doesn’t count.”
He made a sound between a snort and a sigh that she couldn’t understand whether he was laughing at her or frustrated with her. “I myself have forgotten about it.” He sighed, and she leaned her head back to look at him better. “This birthday affair only reminds me of all the deceits and lies and it is better to not remember at all.”
She frowned at the sadness in his tone. He no longer talked of his Asgardian days with bitterness – it was washed out and all that lingers now is the desolation. She couldn’t fix it but maybe she could make it better.
She cupped his face in her hands. “Then forget them. We’ll make new memories. You’ll have me in them and you can always rely on me.”
He searched her eyes intensely and she hoped he found what he needed.
“If it makes you happy,” he began.
“No! It has to make you happy!”
“But it would make me happy when you are happy.” She beamed so hard. It was the sappiest thing from the most unexpected person.
“Then Happy Birthday, Loki.”
He squeezed her in a hug. “Oh, Jane. If only we were not stuck in this horrid excuse of a planet.”
She laughed, pulling away. “You do know how to ruin a good moment.” He raised an eyebrow, the ghost of a smile still plastered on his lips. “Don’t look at me like you didn’t do anything.”
“Did I?” He inquired and Jane would’ve loved to wipe that satisfied look in his eyes. So she ignored him instead, shrugging of his hold around her. She shifted her position to her knees so that there was some space between them and began to pack the snow there. “What are you doing?”
“Don’t ask me that. It’s what got us into this trouble in the first place.” At his pointed look, she sighed. “I’m making a cake.”
“With snow?” He asked with disbelief.
“It’s what we have. Don’t complain. Hmm there… two layers… What else would you want on this ice-cake?”
“Something worthy of an actual cake?”
She pondered that. “Hmm… oh!” She dug in her back pocket for a moment, hoping that some part of her routine hadn’t changed, and pulled out a chocolate bar in triumph. “There, that should do it.” She placed the candy on top of the sloppy tower of snow she made and sat on her heels, hands resting on her thighs.
He reached for the candy immediately and she was almost struck by the adorable picture he painted with his sweet tooth. That is before she remembered he shouldn’t be taking it yet.
She slapped his hands away. “Make a wish first!”
“This is unfair, Jane. There are no candles.”
“Make a wish. You never know when these will be granted.” She grabbed the edges of the cape, keeping it tight around her. It was a miracle she was still functioning in this cold.
He sighed and closed his eyes, muttering a few things in an unrecognisable language. Jane waited for him to finish.
“So what did you wish for?” She asked, once he opened his eyes.
“The principle of this, say, ritual is to not speak out about the wish, right?”
“Yes, but –”
“Then I cannot tell you, my sweet Jane. Can I retrieve the candy now?” His hand was already outstretched as he asked her permission, eyes glinting with something she can’t comprehend.
“Of course, but –”
But he was quicker than a nimble rat on steroids, the wrapper already abandoned somewhere in his pockets and he snapped the chocolate bar in two, offering her one half. She took it and popped it into her mouth, looking at him with narrowed eyes.
“You are suddenly awfully excited.” And he smiled at her. “What? What is it?”
“Just look up.” She raised her eyebrow at him suspiciously but complied anyway. And was promptly floored.
“A meteor shower. Oh my God!” There they were, little streaks of light painting the clear Jötunn sky. She remembered when she was little and her mother used to tell her about shooting stars. Little Jane would hurry to make a wish. But this time, she was speechless, her mind filled with beautiful pin pricks of light that were mesmerizing.
It lasted only a few seconds but what a precious few seconds it was. Her eyes were tearing a little.
“Was that your wish?” She asked, her voice close to silence.
He scoffed. “Of course not.”
“Then how would you explain that?”
“When the moon peaks here every night, it brings in a haul of space rock into the atmosphere. And you know what happens then. They burn and they create this spectacular night show.” She felt a little bit silly, her cheeks turning red.
“Beautiful.” He muttered.
“The meteor shower. It’s uh, beautiful.”
She shouldn’t be blushing this hard. It was ridiculous. But she was pretty sure he wasn’t talking about burning space rocks.
“Loki…” She moaned. “It’s so cold…”
She had long returned to her position between his legs. It was frankly too cold to be sitting about alone, especially if one does not happen to be a Frost Giant. She wonders how the magic holding his appearance hasn’t flayed and revealed his true appearance. Not that she has ever seen it, but she knows about it and it’s an ever blazing hope that he is one day trusting enough to show it.
His cape was doing its best to protect her but her legs were still not covered. It was a miracle her clothes weren’t soaked through. He must’ve spelled them dry! It was simple magic, right? She hoped it was not draining. Regardless, she was thankful. The cold temperature was beginning to creep into her bones and her breath fogged in front of her.
Her teeth chattered slightly and she clenched them hard to stop it. Jane burrowed closer to Loki’s body heat; it was interesting how much warmth he radiated. Maybe it depended on the form he is in.
She was shifting her position excessively, trying to find that perfect spot that enabled maximum contact with him. The fact that she was rubbing against him didn’t cross her mind.
“Cease your incessant movements, woman. You’re behaving just like a feline.” She looked up at him innocently.
“But I’m getting colder!” She protested, burying her face in the crook of his neck.
“We cannot make a fire. I’ve told you that.”
“Then sharing body heat is our only option.”
“But I’m not cold.” Funny, he’s wrapped around her as much as she is around him.
“Urgh, damn you, Loki.” She curled her fingers beneath his collar again and he took in a sharp breath at the touch.
“What are you doing?” He hissed at her.
She gave him a knowing look. “Warming my fingers, obviously. Unless you want me to get frostbite…” She trailed off.
“I am sure the Norns are thrilled at having stitched you to my side.” He groaned.
She narrowed her eyes at him. “I’d love to scratch you with my feline nails.”
“Usually nothing would stop you.”
She responded with a nick near his vein and he yelped. He glared at her and she gave him pointed look.
“Insufferable bint.” He muttered under his breath.
“What was that?”
“Nothing, my sweet.” She relaxed against him, laying her head against his shoulder. She was silent for a while, just breathing in his now familiar scent of pine.
“Seriously, Loki. We need to make a fire.”
“No, we shall not.”
“A spark to ignite doesn’t use that much magic, right? Look, I’ll even scour for some sticks. Just one tiny spark? My feet are literally killing me.”
He pretended to think, a finger on his chin. “Say the magic word, Jane.”
She rolled her eyes. “Please Loki.”
He kissed the top of her head and snapped his fingers. Green flames erupted in the space where the now deformed cake sat.
She sighed, a little more in relief. Her body was already absorbing the extra warmth and the chill in her bones receded. “Oh, thank you Loki.”
“Hmm…” He eyes were directed towards the fire. Jane watched their depths as they soaked in the green light and glowed. It was like déjà vu; when she’d close her eyes during dark days and dream of sparkling emeralds. Except this time they were real and no longer haunted her.
“Jane?” That green gaze was directed towards her now. Her lips were parted in awe.
“You’ve got gorgeous eyes, you know that?” She saw his eyes widen, and a blush form on his cheeks.
“It’s a first that I’ve been told.” He looked away from her, and she smiled, resting her head on his shoulder. There are many a things she would tell him.
He was tracing the inside of her left wrist. Over and over again his thumb went over the neat black lines of her soulmark. A matching one adorned his left wrist, but the bliss that envelopes him as he does this is transcendent. The fire didn’t make that much of noise but it illuminated the whole area surrounding them and warmed her enough that the cape just sat loosely about her frame. They were lying on the ground, Jane tucked into Loki’s side and her left arm sprawled over his chest. Her limbs were slack after the rush of warmth and she was too tired to even keep her eyes open.
“Loki?” She mumbles against his collar.
“Hmm?” His free hand smoothed down her back and curled over her waist.
“Have you ever been here?”
“Multiple times for fun, in my youth anyway. And for devious times, twice.”
“Can you tell me about it?”
“But you know of that disgraceful attempt –”
“Not that. The fun times. Please?”
He sighed. “What do I get in return?”
“A kiss maybe?” He let out a short laugh. “You don’t believe me?”
“Well, I will strive to fulfil the lady’s request then.” He said, grinning in amusement. “We were not allowed to travel to Jötunnheim without Odin’s strict approval. Even if you do ask for it, it was always a denied request. It was early in my magical training that I discovered a portal that led here. Something that required neither Odin’s permission nor the use of the Bifrost. It was going to be an adventure all on my own. That is until I saw a Frost Giant and realised the terrible mistake I had made.”
“Did they see you?”
“No, but that would’ve been preferable to dealing with Odin’s wrath. You must know, I was still a child then, and the idea of displeasing Odin was not desirable. I had presumed that little excursion was not seen by anyone and returned to Asgard through that same portal and into the palace. So imagine my surprise when Odin was waiting at the palace entrance for me. I was dragged by the ear to my chambers, yelled at and left there for the entire week. I was not allowed to leave those four walls and I was not allowed to train either. That was my punishment.”
“Was it worth it?”
“For a child? Probably not. But it is for me. It made me work harder to hide my presence. That first time, I was naïve, but I wouldn’t make that same mistake twice.”
“And the times after that?”
“I am wary of this place. It is often a last resort to hide here. No one would think to look for me here. And then I forget about the dangers and begin to explore before I remember that I should return. They would ask me for days where I had ventured to. I never deigned to answer.
“And your parents never knew either?”
“Heimdall could not see me. And since his vision extends to Odin, he couldn’t see me either.”
“And if anyone did suspect this place?”
“A confounding spell works wonders.”
“Wow… All that magic at your disposal. What do you even do with that?”
“It is common to Asgard. I know you’ve only been there briefly but magic is a big part of our lives. Which is why Midgardian technology seems so primitive.”
“‘Magic is just science we don’t understand yet. Arthur C. Clarke.’”
“Ah, I was afraid you had forgotten that.”
“You don’t forget things that were drilled in your head since you were three.”
“Your parents were astrophysicists too?”
She doesn’t talk about that with him. She doesn’t talk about that period. “My dad was. Mum was a doctor.”
He squeezed her waist. “And you don’t mention this quote anymore because…”
“Arguing about the correlation between magic and science with you is tiring. There are obviously better things to do than argue with you.”
“But that’s it Jane. Magic and science absolutely do not correlate.”
“Here we go again…” She muttered under her breath.
“Did you speak?”
“Mhm. Do you want your reward now?”
His thumb finally paused on her skin. “I had assumed your offer was just my fancy.”
Her heart skipped a beat. “I did offer it.”
“Well, then. Is it going to be a phantom kiss?”
She planted a gentle kiss on his jaw. “It’s that one.”
She saw his Adam’s apple bob as he swallowed. “Of course…” She was so glad he couldn’t see her now. Her cheeks were flushed and the fact that she was plastered to his side didn’t help.
But then his hand reached for her chin. There possibly was no way she’d blush any harder. Oh no… is he gonna… oh my God! He pulled her face closer to his. “Jane, I think –”
A rustling sound was heard nearby, cutting through their heated bubble. They both froze.
Loki was the first one on his feet, sight already set in the general direction of the sound. Jane was up next right behind him, cape abandoned in the snow.
“Stay put.” He told her, as he unsheathed a dagger and stepped forward.
“The hell I will.” She hissed. She’s not some dainty little flower. Jane glanced around her, looking for something that passes as a weapon and spotted a fallen branch near one of the rocks. She picked it up and rushed back to his side. Not that it would help if it were a Frost Giant but Jane chose to not dwell over it.
“Jane…” He sighed. “I told you to stay put!”
“Shut up, Loki!” She whispered her shout. “That thing is gonna hear us.”
He muttered something unintelligible under his breath, and then, “At least stay behind me.” She hummed her agreement. They slowly inched forward with their respective weapons in hand.
The snow shifted further ahead. Loki held up a hand, signalling her to stop and she obliged. They stared at that spot, waiting for some dangerous beast to spring out. Jane closed her eyes in fear, her heart thudding beneath her ribcage. And she waited for a menacing sound to pierce the silence.
But she only heard Loki’s exasperated shout, a curse in his native tongue. She opened her eyes, perplexed as to what would draw this sort of reaction from him. And saw him grabbing a rabbit by its ears. At least what looked like a rabbit.
Now she understood his frustration. She threw the branch away. A moment ruined again. And then her eyes widened at her thoughts, cheeks flushing again. She was certainly not thinking about a possible kiss between her and Loki. She shook her head of those thoughts.
Next to her, Loki was grumbling at the animal. Was he… talking to that thing? They certainly were face to face; Loki held it high up. The rabbit on the other hand finished chewing whatever it had in its mouth. The picture they painted was certainly amusing.
“It seems we’re in accordance now.” He turned to face her. “Do you want him for dinner?” The animal let out an unmistakeable squeak in response. It probably understood him and it probably was frightened.
“Dinner? What – no! We’re not eating innocent creatures for dinner.” She paused, adding as an afterthought, “Give him to me.” Loki dropped it into her arms, without argument. She smoothed a hand down its back. Its fur was soft and white. “Is this an actual rabbit?”
He pondered that for a moment. “In rough translation, yes. A Jötunn rabbit.”
“Can we keep it?” It was so adorable that she can’t help falling in love with it.
He sighed, shaking his head. “Whatever.”
He went back to their makeshift camp, dousing the fire and picked up his cape. Jane followed, repositioning her arms so the creature was comfortable. Loki sat down in their spot again, pulling Jane into his lap and covered the both of them with his cape.
“Can we name it, Loki?”
“Can we eat it, Jane?” He retorted.
She smiled. “Why are you angry at this little harmless fellow?”
“By the Norns, you find it funny that this ‘harmless’ thing just scared the wits out of us?” The rabbit burrowed further in her arms at his raised voice.
“Don’t be rude. He didn’t mean to.” Loki groaned. “Come on, let’s name him.”
“And what do you propose as a name?”
She leaned her head back against his shoulder, arms loosely around the animal now. “Hmm… I think we’ll call him – Erik!” Jane shouted the name.
The newly named Erik just happened to jump off her arms into the snow again. It rolled around in the white mass, presumably cooling down. Loki’s chest shook with silent laughter.
“Maybe we should’ve eaten him in the first place.” Jane muttered. She could feel the rabbit glare at her.
“I told you so. Are you inclined?”
She sighed, her body slumping against him. “Not really. Don’t you have anything to eat in that endless pocket of yours?”
“Hmm… I do have something for you to eat specifically but not yet.”
Jane was getting frustrated. “Anything edible at all that we can consume now?”
“There is an Asgardian mead that hasn’t seen daylight in years…” She gave him a look. “Alright.” He waved his hand and a bottle appeared in his hand. He immediately set about peeling the cap off.
“Don’t you have cups or something?”
“Highly unlikely.” He offered her the first sip, tipping the bottle to her lips. She parted them, and swallowed the liquid. Her throat burned.
She shook her head, the effect of the alcohol immediate. “That’s some strong stuff.”
He took a swig. “You mean to say strong for you.”
“Argh, you Asgardians and your immunity.”
He was quiet for a while. “I could fix that for you.”
She was slurring already. “Yeah?”
He hummed, tapping her forehead. Immediately, her head cleared and her tiredness faded away, making her feel more awake than she had the entire day. She wonders how long they’ve been lost.
“Did that take a lot of magic?”
“No, it is one of the easier spells. I’ve learned it early during my lessons.”
She allowed him to pour more of the mead into her mouth. “Do you think anyone noticed that we’re missing?”
“I’m sure that noisy – former assistant of yours would presume I had kidnapped you.” Darcy and Loki don’t get along. At all.
“If only this thing worked as it was supposed to.” She took the device out of her front pocket. It was tiny, the size of her palm. “I don’t know how to fix this.” It was frustrating. Sensing her change in mood, Erik rubbed against her knee. She patted him on the head in return.
“It will work out, Jane. Don’t despair.”
“But if I can’t fix it in time?”
“Then we’ll find another way.”
Jane’s confidence was like a roller-coaster. She’d feel down, despairing and then, hope comes crawling back.
Jane was snuggled to his chest, eyes closed in sleep. Loki was humming an old Norse lullaby, his fingers tracing random shapes on her back. Erik was nearby, covered in a blanket of snow and sleeping. It was peaceful, something that Loki never expected of, being stranded in a place he despises.
Jane had drifted off, mumbling and muttering about the stars they could see. It was different from Midgard’s and she was in awe as he described the different stars and constellations that littered the Jötunn sky. It made him feel content as he saw the wonder in her eyes. He was glad he once took the time to learn about this.
Loki himself felt lulled as the soft notes of the tune filled the air. His forehead touched her shoulder, eyes shutting close and body relaxing around hers. It was a quiet night, as it is custom in that cold and dreary realm. For a moment, Loki forgot where they were; all he was aware of was Jane’s warm steady breath on his neck and that sweet scent of hers. It beckoned him to sleep and he complied.
He awoke to a soft but fierce nudging at his knee. He cracked his eyes open, and rubbed the sleep out of them. He was perplexed; when had he fallen asleep? He blinked, looking down at his lap. Jane was still asleep, clutching at his tunic.
The nudging persisted, and he finally noticed little Erik knocking his head against him.
“What is it?” He asked, voice gruff, patting the animals head. His long ears perked, and he turned his head somewhere off to Loki’s left. “What? What’s there?” Erik began jumping and then hopped around in a circle. Clearly the animal was agitated.
Loki frowned. There was only one reason the rabbit would be agitated and that means there was danger. But he was unsure whether it was a predator or it were –
“Frost Giants.” He could hear the tell-tale rumble of their voices and thanked the Norns for that. “Jane. Jane!” She jolted awake as he shook her shoulder.
“What?” She was still drowsy, eyes half closed. “What is going –”
“We have to leave.” He muttered, already getting to his feet. Jane was pulled up roughly, and she glanced around confused as Loki vanished his cape and cleared the campsite.
“Seriously, what’s going on?”
“There is not enough time to explain. We must go.” He said, grabbing her hand.
And then they were running, Erik scurrying along in front of them. Loki had no sense of direction; he followed the rabbit as it made a trail across the slope, hoping it would lead them into safety. He didn’t want to get caught; he didn’t want to fight. Fighting meant he’d be touched. He didn’t want to be touched again. He didn’t want Jane to be touched.
Shouts were heard behind them, and he chanced a look back, only to grit his teeth in frustration. The Frost Giants had spotted them and now were giving chase. It was a mildly disconcerting day and it was now approaching a horrible, horrible end.
He noticed the edge of a forest in the distance and a sliver of relief coursed in him. Good boy, Erik, he thought. “Come on, Jane. We’ll lose them in the trees. Faster – Jane!” Loki yelled as Jane’s hand was wrenched from his. Her foot slipped on exposed ice and she tumbled down the slope into the valley, her scream muffled by the snow that smothered her.
Loki was only a split second behind as he rushed down after her. The pile of snow covered her form and only her hand was exposed. He felt panic rise in his chest as he swept the snow away and pulled her into his arms. She was freezing but breathing and alive.
He cupped her cheeks, sending some warmth into her through the contact. “Are you hurt Jane?”
“No, no, I – Loki!” Her eyes widened as she looked over his shoulder.
“You are not welcome here, Odinson.” They were surrounded.
He steeled himself, getting to his feet and faced the speaker, making sure to keep Jane in his line of sight. The tip of a blade materialised in his fingers and he kept it hidden.
“The Silvertongue does not speak? We heard Asgard was obliterated by Surtur. Surely you have something to say of it.”
Loki gave a wry smile. “I could bring him here, if you’d like.”
“The nerve of you, Asgardian. The Bifrost is no more. How did you venture into our realm?”
He was silent, head held high.
“Perhaps a little encouragement is needed. Tell us, or we seize the mortal.”
Loki remained silent, but his body was wound tight with tension.
“Very well. Fritjöf.” The giant in question stepped forward toward Jane, and was immediately struck down with a dagger to his neck.
“Touch the mortal, and you will wish for death.” His daggers appeared in his hand, and Loki glanced around; it wasn’t a small group. He had to be quick in disposing of them. Before aid comes.
Loki saw another one reach for Jane in his peripheral and he was instantly there, slicing the miscreant’s throat. He pushed the body away and glared at the others who tried to approach.
Jane stood unsteadily, arms wrapped around herself. “Run, when you see a chance.” He muttered to her.
He didn’t wait for her response. He lunged towards three giants that approached him and sliced at their skin. They were elusive but he persisted. He kicked one on the chest and stuck a knife in his ribs. More of them began gathering around him and he couldn’t see Jane anymore. It was terrifying, despite hoping that she had escaped somehow. He was unsure of his magical strength. Using it now meant that they may be stranded longer. He wasn’t going to risk that; he wanted off the planet the first chance he got.
He’d managed to avoid most of their weapons; hunting axes and knives were easier to slip away from. But that ever cursed touch; he felt it and a whole horde of memories he didn’t want flashed through his mind. Things he had buried long ago. He felt the chill rush over his skin as his appearance unravelled. And with that came the blood rushing to his head. The Jötunn was angrier than the Asgardian.
He saw red. His vision blurred as he struck them all down. Fists, daggers, he didn’t know what he used. Only saw that they were reaching for Jane. His Jane. Mine, mine, mine, his mind chanted. There were too many of them. Too many.
Rage mounted, he let out a blast of magic; shards of ice that pierced the giants’ skin and killed them. And then he was silent, staring at the wet ground. It was covered in black blood. The haze slowly lifted and he truly saw what he had wrecked.
“Loki?” He heard the wariness in her tone. She was behind him – behind him! She can’t see anything, she shouldn’t. He raised his palms; the blue slowly receded as he willed himself. The magic of his false skin knitted back over him again, and he let out a pained breath. She couldn’t have seen him like that.
He turned to her. “Are you alright?”
She nodded, stepping closer to him. She reached out for him, hands cupping his face. “Are you hurt?” He shook his head. Nothing that wouldn’t heal. He pushed out with his magic anyway, and felt – odd, to say the least. His magic was replenished, and its strength – he felt almost giddy with it. It was doubled. It was more. It was the despicable horrendous creature he really was. He paused. They had to leave, before more of them came.
“Hold on tight, Jane.” She complied without protest, holding onto his offered arm.
A nudge to his foot had him looking down at the rabbit. He sighed. “I suppose you could come along.” He let Jane pick it up in her free arm.
He waved his hand, and they were swallowed by a glitch in space.