Continuing Tales


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 23 of 26

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

Fandral raises his own sword.

Loki pulls out a Midgardian glock - with ammunition provided by the dwarves. Assuming the stance Steve taught him, he smiles.

The fire ettin women stop their advance. One of them snickers. "My my, what is that?" Another laughs - light and feminine, if it didn't reveal the sharp points of her teeth it would almost be attractive.

But the third hangs back. "That one's crazy; be careful."

Swinging back her blade, the first one lunges forward. "That one will be on my plate tonight!"

Holding his position, Loki pulls the trigger. She's about four paces away, and he hits her squarely in the face.

For a breathless moment she just keeps coming. Out of the corner of his eye, Loki sees the second lunging at Fandral. He can't follow where the third has gone, the first is just a pace away and if he doesn't move quickly, she'll take off his head.

And then she stops, her eyes dazed. Loki can just barely see where the bullets penetrated her skin. Instead of exploding her skull, like they would have done to a human, the bullets look like they just slipped in, there's barely any blood.

Without a shout, or even a sigh, his would-be-attacker collapses, her eyes rolling backward.

There is a cry of rage from beyond where she lays, and the third ettin woman comes forward, sword raised in one hand, a small boulder in the other. Loki is momentarily confused by what she intends to do with a rock, and then the boulder goes red hot. She hurls it at Loki, and he throws himself to the ground, feeling the heat of it, even through his fire resistant armor. Rolling backwards he raises the glock and fires. His aim this time isn't as careful, and the bullets crash against her armor chest plate. Ignoring the bullets she rushes forward, sword upraised.

He fires until the clip is empty. He thinks he has done no damage, and that he may have to waste precious magical energy on teleportation, but then just as she is above him the armor on her chest cracks, and instead of swinging the sword forward, her body falls forward instead. Loki barely rolls aside in time.

As she falls to the ground, he catches sight of Fandral, sword still out, panting over the prone body of an ettin. Pulling out his own glock he catches Loki's gaze. "Well, at least we know the dwarven ammunition works." He narrows his eyes at Loki. "Wonder how they got the idea for that in the first place?"

Loki says nothing. Gunfire is still echoing in his ears.

Wiping the sweat from his face with the back of his arm, Fandral turns his head towards the mesa. His eyes go wide. Running over to Loki he holds out a hand.

Loki takes it, his ears still ringing.

Pulling him up without meeting his eyes, Fandral says, "Run."

Loki looks in the direction Fandral is looking. It isn't the echo of gunfire he is hearing, it is a stampede of fire ettin women running in their direction.

Loki and Fandral run.

A few minutes later they are tumbling through the branch of the World Tree that connects the Adirondacks to the realm of fire. The cold autumn air of the New York mountain range hits Loki like a balm as he crashes onto the leaf covered ground, Fandral beside him.

Panting, Fandral says, "Well, this is why we do reconnaissance."

Loki closes his eyes. It is the first time in centuries he's checked on the gate between Muspellsheimr and Idunn's orchard on Asgard. He covers his head with his hands. He should have come before, as soon as he and Darcy became engaged. But he's just been so...happy.

He felt like he deserved a bit of a respite, after last time. He had his fun with dwarven ammunitions of course, but other than that, he hasn't focused on this quest. He's confined his mischief to Midgard and nipping at the heels of any villain who has gotten too arrogant - or caused too many police and fire alarm sirens to wail by his window at 3 a.m. And he's been busy travelling with Darcy, in Midgard and the universe at large. He hadn't realized how limiting travelling as a prince was until he travelled as a commoner. It's true; magical creatures immediately sense how dangerous he is, but Darcy is not magical, and so open and approachable. He has found himself getting tours of the greatest monuments and libraries, not to mention pubs, inns and street celebrations in Alfheim, Vanaheim, Jotunheim and Svartálfaheimr as Darcy took pictures for her "Other Worlds" travel book series. And on her book tours he's seen much more of Midgard as well. It's been like a honeymoon. He doesn't remember a time in his life that has been so terriblyfun.

He wipes his face. And it's only been 6 years...the blink of an eye.

But then Nari almost died.

Now he remembers what is in store for everyone he cares about. Darcy, Thor, Jane, Nari...even Fandral.

Maybe the real reason he has hesitated is fear? Forget the fire ettins having him for dinner - if Odin catches him Loki will be lucky to only be skinned alive.

Loki pulls himself up with a deep breath.

Still on the ground, Fandral says, "After one faction of fire ettins emerges victorious there won't be another rematch for a decade or so." Climbing to his feet he adds, "Our humans are still young...we can wait another year to cross."

Loki closes his eyes. Some branches of the world tree remain open all the time. Other branches close and open again with the spinning of the galaxies. The branch between Muspellsheimr and Idunn's orchard is one such branch.

They begin walking through the forest. The trees are bare of leaves, and the sun is bright over their heads, but it is still cool.

Fandral is right. There is no way the small team they're thinking of can get through an army of fire ettins with battle lust, even with dwarven ammunition.

Loki's jaw clenches. But to wait a whole more year...

Fandral must see Loki's agitation, because he says, "We have a month before the World Tree branch between the orchard and the sparring grounds opens. Let us enjoy the Feast of Thanksgiving with our families...and then decide."

Loki nods.

They walk on in silence until they reach an open meadow where Fandral's man Doug has landed a private helicopter on loan from Stark Industries. Doug takes one look at the two of them, and says, "Christ! Minor fire spell practice? How did you manage not to catch the forest on fire?"

"Erm..." says Fandral.

"Interdimensional time pocket," says Loki smoothly. "Only accessible here. But yes, it could have been quite dangerous, hence our journey to the access point for the pocket."

"Alright, Doctor Who," says Doug. He doesn't believe Loki; Loki can feel it.

"Doctor who?" says Fandral.

Groaning Loki, opens a door to the helicopter and gets inside. Not for the first time he wishes travelling between worlds didn't leave him so exhausted.

"Dr. Who," says Doug, slipping into the cockpit.

"I asked you," says Fandral.

Loki sighs. If only he had a TARDIS right now.

x x x x

"It's the day after Thanksgiving. How is there no food in this house?" Darcy shouts.

Loki forces his eyes away from the video game he is currently playing with Franz, Max and Nari - Battlefield Asgard, the Aesir versus the Vanir. Loki loves video games. All the action of battle without the blood, guts, shit, sweat, pain, or practice.

Even Steve and Thor, who see enough action in their day jobs to theoretically be sated find gaming 'relaxing'. Darcy and Jane theorize that it is a Y chromosome 'thing'.

Steve is actually here now, watching them play. At Darcy's words he straightens on the couch. He has a quarter of the remains of a turkey sandwich in his hands. It was cobbled together with the butt ends of two different types of bread - the only bits of bread remaining as of twenty minutes ago.

Steve is currently between girlfriends, again. He spent Thanksgiving with them, and came back today not long after 11 a.m.

Now at Darcy's words, Loki finds himself meeting four guilty sets of eyes. Two magical creatures, a super soldier, and two active healthy, young male humans - they did make short work of the larder.

Clearing his throat, Franz says, "Well, it is nearly 5 p.m. We did make it through most of the day."

Walking over, Darcy puts a hand on her hips. "Two pies, two turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes..."

"...I think there is some cranberry relish left," says Max.

"And I believe I saw a quarter of a head of lettuce in the cool box," says Nari.

"Ummmm..." says Steve. "I actually ate that."

"Which?" says Franz.

Steve blushes. "Both?"

Loki smirks. "I think I've found an alternate reality where you are childless and unmarried, Darcy, I could steal some food from -"

"No!" come five separate voices.

Loki sighs dramatically.

Darcy laughs, and Loki smiles at her. As he suspected, she was never really angry.

"I suppose we can order Chinese for dinner tonight?" Darcy says.

"Cool," say Max and Franz in unison.

"That would be swell!" says Steve not even bothering to wait to be invited.

"Chinese?" says Nari.

"Very fattening the way they make it in the U.S.," says Loki to his son. Nari lost some weight in the past few weeks, but he is getting his color back. His natural form is Aesir, like his mother, Sigyn; and his cheeks now are a healthy pink. He seems to have given up on that ridiculous idea of going to Oxford and studying law, and hopefully his naive dreams of reforming Asgard as well. Odin, the Diar and the old Asgardians - the old "Gods" as they like to call themselves, will never share their power with the young.

"Oh, good," says Nari. He actually sounds somewhat enthusiastic - a good sign.

"I think I'll go to the store and pick up some staples, though," says Darcy.

"I can come with you, if you wish," says Loki. Although, he'd really rather be chopping off Freyja's virtual head. He's still angry at her for claiming it was his magic that convinced her to sleep with those three dwarves.

"No, no, no, that's okay," says Darcy. "I wouldn't mind escaping all the testosterone in here for a while."

Loki shrugs.

Max grins. "Too much testosterone in here? What do you mean?" Turning to his brother and holding out a finger he says, "Franz, wanna pull my finger?"

Loki tilts his head in confusion. But Steve laughs, and Franz looks sideways at his mother and grins. "Man, that joke never gets old." He doesn't, however, pull Max's finger.

Rolling her eyes, Darcy looks at Max and says, "I can't believe you graduated from med school." Looking at Franz she says, "Or that you are an engineer."

Both boys laugh and it reminds Loki so much of how Nari and Valli share jokes...He blinks, and swallows, though his mouth is dry.Shared.

Loki looks quickly to Nari. Nari has his eyes trained on the television screen, a slight frown on his face. He sees Loki's eyes on him and he shrugs, and focuses on the game.

Darcy walks towards the door. From behind, she looks even more youthful than when they first met. She walks more gracefully, and taller, more self assured. She's become more careful about her exercise regimen, and her diet as she's aged. Although she claims part of it isn't care but that sweets don't taste as good anymore, and being stuffed doesn't feel as fun.

He tilts his head; he still finds her beautiful from every angle. He's heard some mortal men remark that they don't quite see their wives as their real age, they see them as the age they fell in love with them. Loki has found he feels this way too. He muses if this is really what it means to be 'blinded by love'.

Just as Darcy reaches the door Loki and Nari both shout, "Don't forget your keys!"

"Got them," says Darcy, jingling them for all to hear.

The door closes, and Franz says, "And back to the game..."

"Watch me friends, as I decapitate Freyja for impugning my father's honor!" shouts Nari, and Loki smiles a little at seeing him distracted.

It's a rather happy ending to a rather happy - if simple and unexciting day and a half. Loki knows why he hasn't ventured to Idunn's orchard yet. Even when he is doing nothing he is just so very comfortable. He belongs. He is sufficiently mentally stimulated most days. He has a woman who understands him, he has a family - and Steve, Fandral, Doug and Jessica must count as extended family. Everything is just perfect, sometimes so much so he thinks he may still be chained to the rocks, and it all a figment of his imagination...except that Valli is gone.

He hazards another look at Nari; his son is wrapped up in stabbing the virtual Freyja. As well he should be. Loki relaxes.

They're still playing Battlefield Asgard when Darcy comes home. It's nearly 6:30 and Loki's got the Chinese menu in his hand while Steve takes his place on the virtual battlefield.

Coming into the living room Darcy says, "Loki, the store was so crowded! And some woman was so rude to me, I was so upset..."

She pauses, groceries in her arms and says, "Steve when did you get here?"

Steve stops playing. So does Max. "Mom," Max says, his voice quiet. "He's been here all day."

"Oh," Darcy blinks. "Oh...and who is your friend?"

Now Franz and Nari stop playing. When Nari looks up, Darcy blinks again. "Oh...Nari?"

Loki looks for tell tale signs of magic on Darcy but there are none. Confused, he looks to Steve. Steve's eyes are on Darcy too, his face writ large with concern. But what is really frightening is the look on Max's face. He looks utterly grim.

x x x x

There is no such thing as perfection. Loki knew that. How could he have deluded himself even for a moment?

He sits in a deceptively cheery office, talking to a Doctor Elamm. She is older than Darcy by a decade or more, but her eyes are sharp and clear. It's unfair. Utterly unfair.

Early onset Alzheimers. Loki didn't even know what Alzheimers was, Max had to explain it to him. It's a genetically dominant trait. Darcy's mother is healthy, so her father must have had it, but he died young, in his 50s, and it was never detected.

The doctor has been talking to them for quite some time. Most of it washing over Loki like water.

The only thing that stands out clearly in his mind is the prognosis. With new medicines patients' lives have been extended to as much as 15 years. The doctor says that as though 15 years is a long time.

And how long will Darcy be cognizant of who he is...who she is, during that time? The doctor cannot stay for sure. It depends on how Darcy reacts to the medications.

He can't focus or think. He squeezes Darcy's hand to remind him and her that he's still there. He cannot heal this, and it is beyond Thor's power too. It is genetic, and too deep.

"Do you have any questions?" asks the doctor.

Loki has only one. "So this is essentially, for Darcy, a disease of aging?"

The doctor sighs. "Well they say if we live long enough, we will all get Alzheimers." Loki's jaw tenses and the doctor says softly to Darcy, "Yes, I'm afraid Ms. Lewis, that you are facing this earlier than most. I'm sorry."

Loki takes that in, not looking at his human lover. She's often told him that he doesn't really understand what aging is, so asking to marry her isn't reasonable. Now he is facing it. Earlier than either of them expected.

On Asgard humans are mocked for letting themselves wither away in old age; it is perceived as cowardice for anyone to not die on the battlefield. But he feels now that a warrior's death is easier and quicker. The thought makes him seethe internally.

Odin could have shared Idunn's apples with humans long ago - and with frost giants and dwarves too. But only Odin's elite warriors, the Einherjar, have been granted the honor of immortality, by rules Loki doesn't understand or care to understand. He only follows rules when they suit him.

His eyes narrow. In a way, this makes everything easier. This year or next year - there is no decision to make. He will find a way to fight off an army of fire ettins.

The door to the orchard will open in Asgard's spring, not harvest time. So apples aren't his target, and he doesn't have time to waste.


A Marvel Movieverse Story
by startrekfanwriter

Part 23 of 26

<< Previous     Home     Next >>