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Sittin' at a Bar

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“Don’t be a fool, Mobius. I was raised a royal on Asgard. A mere mortal cannot out-drink me.”

Mobius chuckled lightly where he sat next to Loki. His arms rested on the bar counter in front of them; one hand was wrapped around a short glass of whiskey, on the rocks. They were in a small bar on the outskirts of a small town smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. It was some time in the 90s, and the Washington Redskins were squaring off against the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins were going to win 35 to 16, but the people honing in on the game at the bar didn’t know that yet.

The TVA analyst looked at the game, mentally playing it a few frames ahead as he ran a finger around the rim of his glass. “How do you know I’m a mortal, huh?”

This caught his dark-clothed companion off guard. He raised his finger for another drink while he furrowed his brows. “ Are you TVA fools mortal? How long is your lifespan?”

“What, you gonna set a timer?

“Another for me too, please,” Mobius said to the bartender right before downing his drink.

A fresh set of drinks were set in front of the pair. Mobius flashed Loki a smirk. “Round three. Go!”

They tossed back their drinks and Loki covered his mouth as his body was wracked with coughs. 

“Whoa, don’t hurt yourself there, kiddo,” Mobius laughed and patted his back. “Just accept that I’m going to win.”

“Don’t be daft, I just...swallowed wrong,” the other struggled to get out between coughs as he swatted Mobius’ hand away. “And...don’t call me kiddo. I assure you I am much older than you...I think. Really, how old are you?”

It wasn’t the first time Loki asked and it wouldn’t be the last. Mobius never answered and he probably never would. He just smiled, his mouth pushing at the smile lines at the corners of his eyes. He definitely wasn’t young. Wasn’t created young, anyway.

They both raised a finger for another glass. Tossed it back, and squeezed their eyes as the alcohol hit. They threw a few light jabs at each other before raising their fingers once more. The glasses hit the counter with a small thud and some of the whiskey lapped over the rims. Loki took his shot and smiled triumphantly when he saw Mobius was just looking at his with a mellow expression.

“I’ll take yours if you give up already,” he declared and reached his hand over. Mobius pulled his drink away and turned his head as though to listen for something.

“Just wait a minute,” he murmured. “The Redskins are about to score their eleventh point of the game.”

“What?” Loki laughed. “A poor excuse for avoiding your drink—”

The point was scored and three things happened simultaneously. One, the people at the bar cheered for the team and raised their drinks in the air. Two, a man slammed his hands on the table directly behind Mobius and Loki as he got up to advance on the woman sitting at the other side. And three, Mobius jumped from his stool and placed himself directly between the man and the shrinking woman.

“What the hell do you think you’re--”

He was cut short when a glassful of whiskey got tossed into his eyes. The man cursed and swung a fist that Mobius avoided effortlessly with a lean back. Then, with as much casualty as though he were setting it on a counter, Mobius brought his glass down onto the man’s head with enough force to shatter it. The guy crumpled to the floor, unconscious.

The woman, fully in shock, gaped at the sight of her attacker sprawled on the floor.

“Are you okay?” Mobius asked as he pushed his hands into his pockets.

“Fucking hell,” the bartender growled and grabbed a shotgun from its perch underneath the counter. 

Loki, who had watched the quick fight with raised eyebrows, now snatched the gun’s muzzle and held its aim away from the analyst. 

“I wouldn’t recommend that,” he said with his green eyes ablaze.

“W-wait!” the woman called out as she got over her shock. “H-he, I think my husband was gonna hurt me.” She looked earnestly at Mobius. “Thank you,” she whispered. “He woulda killed me.”

Mobius nodded and she gave him a small smile before hurrying from the bar, still shaking. The bartender sighed and put his gun away, trying to ignore the chills that Loki’s look had given him. A couple employees struggled to drag the guy’s limp form from the bar while the bartender’s call to the local sheriff to notify him turned into a discussion about the game. It was a small town.

“So that’s what we came here for?” Loki asked when Mobius was seating himself and fixing his brown suit. “Why wouldn’t you just tell me? You just wanted all the glory, huh?”

“Look, Loki,” Mobius sighed as he turned in his barstool to face him. “We’re not here to prevent a nexus event. In fact, I just caused one. We only have one more hour here before Ravonna calls in the Minutemen to erase everything.”

His long-haired friend just stared at him for a few long moments. He placed a hand over his mouth and narrowed his gaze while Mobius began to look a bit uncomfortable. Finally, he spoke: “So what you’re saying is...this ‘mission’ you dragged me on is to create a problem that didn’t exist in the first place? And I was beginning to think you were one of the smarter imbeciles at the TVA!” He scoffed and shook his head at the indignity of it all. “This makes no sense.”

“That woman just told her abusive husband that she’s been with someone else and wants to separate. If everything went according to plan, he would have cut her throat with the knife in his pocket,” Mobius explained a bit woozily. He could really feel that whiskey.

As if on cue, a blade fell from the unconscious man’s shorts pocket while he was dragged by his legs toward the door. Loki glanced at it before laughing humorlessly.

“You’re the TVA. You’ve said it yourself. All the ugly things need to happen if it’s a part of those Space Lizards’ grand plan. What, have you changed your mind about all of that? Prepare to get pruned.” 

“Ha,” Mobius said without any real laughter. Then he sighed and rubbed his eyes. Loki was looking at him with some curiosity, sensing an explanation. Sure enough, the analyst started talking. 

“I had to come here once, years ago, when the woman survived. Y’know, she isn’t supposed to do that.” Loki nodded quietly. “And it was the weirdest thing. Something about this place seemed so damn familiar. It’s stupid, and I haven’t told anyone else about it. I’ve been coming back here ever since, y’know. Just watching the game, saving that woman, having some drinks. Ravonna keeps the nexus event hidden from the monitors so Minutemen don’t ruin my good time. She just thinks I come here because I like the place. It’s not totally untrue.” 

He became silent before stretching with an exaggerated groan. “Just thought I’d show you the place, so we could have a good time together. Plus I’ve wound up with birdshot in my back on a couple occasions, and I figured you’d handle the gun.” Mobius flashed Loki a grin and he looked so much like a drunken fool that the Asgardian couldn’t resist a laugh.

“I’m beginning to think I understand why we get along so well, Mobius.”

“Yeah? Why’s that?”

“You’ve got quite a lot of mischief about you as well.”

They laughed, then drank some more. Mobius spoiled the game much to the astonishment of the other patrons, and Loki saved Mobius’ drunken ass from getting beat up with a bristling glare. Needless to say, the analyst was feeling thoroughly relaxed when he stumbled toward a small stage set in the corner of the bar.

“Karaoke!” he called to no one in particular as he climbed the steps.

“What’s ‘karaoke’?” Loki called back, equally drunk after about three times as many drinks. The bartender was eyeing him while he served others, clearly wondering how he still was conscious. Or alive.

Mobius leaned down and swiped at the black cord snaking across the dirty floor. He got it on the second try and then plugged it into an outlet that snapped with a concerning white spark. The microphone standing at the forefront of the stage responded with a high-pitched whine that left a lot of people wincing and rubbing at their ears. Loki began to feel a sense of dread as the drunk analyst adjusted the microphone toward his mouth. When Mobius flashed him a smile and motioned for him to join him onstage, the other shook his head no and waved for the man to get off.

“I have a song,” Mobius said too loudly into the microphone and people were already jeering at him to leave. Loki suddenly became fascinated with an empty glass and he felt his ears turning red. “It’s a song that hasn’t been made yet and I’m gonna be the first one to sing it,” he continued shamelessly. Loki tried to comfort himself with the fact that this timeline was going to be erased. “I would like for a dear Asgardian to join me... he’s a prince,” he hissed in a false whisper like he was bragging. Said Asgardian was now fully shielding his face with his hands. 

On the stage, Mobius dug a hand into a pocket of his brown pants and pulled out a small square device. “This is an iPod, I got this from 2002,” he called and Loki immediately stood up and brushed off his suit.

“Okay Mobius, it’s time to go!” Loki shouted and began to jog toward the other side of the bar. He hit his hip, hard, on a table on the way there. The men sitting there swore as their drinks shook and Loki barely saved one from tipping over and spilling across someone’s lap. The man quietly thanked him and reached for his drink, then gawked as the long-haired drunk continued his jog with it. He took a quick sip as he reached the steps to the stage; Mobius was squinting with the iPod hardly an inch away from his face as he scrolled. 

“Found it!” he exclaimed triumphantly and tapped something on the screen. The analyst held his 2nd generation iPod to the microphone as the sound of muffled chatter morphed into mellow strums of guitar strings. He noticed Loki as the Asgardian was reaching toward his arm; he snatched the variant’s elbow and pulled him close before beginning the lyrics.

“Barrrrtender, I really did it this time!” he sang with a voice that was amazingly clear, considering the amount of liquor in his system. “Broke my parole to have a good time! When I got home it was 6 a.m...The door was locked, so I kicked it in…” Loki stood there blushed and grimacing like a kid that forgot his line in the school play. Mobius, on the other hand, was having the time of his life as he stood there singing. He pressed Loki tight against his side with a hand latched around the other’s shoulder.

“She was trippin’ on the bi-ills, I swear she was high on some pi-ills! She threw my shit, out into the yard...Then she called me a bum and slapped me real hard!”

A stupid chuckle erupted from Loki’s throat despite himself and he shook his head. Endearment for his knucklehead-friend began to break him out of his embarrassment. He brought the stolen drink to his mouth and tossed it back, then let the glass fall off the stage with a shatter. Loki had heard this song before, Mobius had a habit of singing it to himself when he thought nobody was around to hear it. He was a lot less... extravagant when he wasn’t filled to the brim with cheap whisky. And right now, he was coming up to Loki’s favorite verse…

Sucking up his dignity and feeling his ears turn to an impossible shade of red, Loki leaned into the microphone and cut off Mobius; “I guess it’s meant to be, romance is misery so much for memories and now I’m heading to the Penitentiary, see me on tv, the next cop series...I am a danger, I guess I should’ve done something about my anger! But I’ll never learn, real things I don’t concern! I pour kerosene on everything I love and watch it burn. I know it’s my fault, but I wasn’t happy it was over. She threw a fit and so I crashed that piece of shit Nova!”

Mobius pressed his cheek against Loki’s and laughs crept into their voices as they made a sloppy attempt to synchronize: “And now I’m going back again, back to the pen to see my friends. When we all pile out that county van they’ll ask me where I’ve been! I’ve been at a bar on the inside! Waitin’ for my ride on the outside! She broke my heart, in the trailer park! So I jacked the keys to her fuckin’ car! I crashed that piece of shit and then stepped away!”

They were collapsing in on each other with laughter and dizziness by the end of it. An attempt at a second song was made but they were practically lifted by their collars like kittens and dragged off the stage. Before they could get tossed out into the mud— it had started to rain outside like it always did— Mobius activated the reset charge. Startled at the device and thinking it may be a bomb, the patrons manhandling the duo shouted and scrambled away. The TVA agent placed it on the ground and activated a Timedoor with his TemPad. Mobius gave the startled men an exaggerated salute as he backed into the portal and Loki gave them a lude Asgardian gesture they didn’t understand. The Timeline reset, and in her office Ravonna sighed with relief that she wouldn’t have to call in the Minutemen and then explain her best friend’s antics.

The next morning, or whatever the start of a new day could be called in the TVA, Mobius and Loki couldn’t be bothered. Hungover and in denial over some of what they remembered, they spent most of the day sleeping across from each other at a desk in the Archives. Their brown labrador, Coffee, was fortunately content to crawl into Mobius’ lap and doze the day away with the two of them, with the occasional side adventure when a passing agent quietly took her by the leash. When asked how exactly they’d gotten so wasted, any TVA person would get two contradicting responses at the same time, then two warning looks to leave it the hell alone. 

Their little karaoke night together was never spoken about to others or with each other. Of course, that’s not to imply that it didn’t happen again. Or maybe even many more times. The bar became a favorite place of Loki’s as well: Drinking, fighting, singing, and all of that next to Mobius? In time he’d miss that place almost as much as Asgard, truth be told. Things never stayed the same for long in Loki’s life, or Mobius’ for that matter. But even in spite of the strongest of efforts by the alcohol they drank, they would always have memories from those times spent together, sittin’ at a bar.