Of Fire and Ice

I’m taking it slow
Feeding my flame
Shuffling the cards of your game
And just in time
In the right place
Suddenly I will play my ace


4. Chapter Four

The water was hot against Loki’s freezing skin. He stood in the downpour for a moment before attempting to adjust the temperature. Then he stood there for a long while watching the dirt swirl around the drain at the bottom of the shower. He closed his eyes against the memories, hoping the water would wash them away with the grime. But when he opened them again he found that the pain was still fresh, and his body felt weaker than he had ever felt before.

He took a long time in the shower thinking about how he had ended up in Midgard and what the future might have in store for him there. He hated not knowing what was going to happen or how he could move forward, but he knew it was in his best interest to trust the woman. At least for a time, because at the moment she was keeping him from death, and once he had a solid plan formed—he could be rid of her.

Unless he found a use for her. He had to admit he was lucky to have ended up with her rather than SHIELD. The Bifrost was still weak, and he was lucky that it could only send one person at a time. Perhaps the damage that had been done was the reason she had been able to divert it so easily. She was not strong at all. She was just a woman with secrets, and he intended to unlock every one of them.

When he finally left the shower, he stepped back onto the clean, glistening floor tiles and reached for a dark red towel that hung from a silver bar. A monogrammed S was embroidered onto the fabric, and he ran his fingers over the threads before wrapping the towel around his waist. Then he turned to the foggy mirror.

He ran his hand over the glass to wipe away the moisture that had built up on the surface. His own pale and hollow face looked back at him. She was right about what they had turned him into; a cackling madman with matted hair and skin so pale and thin that the veins beneath the surface were blue like the ice his forefathers were made from. His eyes seemed sunken into his face; the bones of his cheeks were as sharp as daggers.

Loki left the bathroom and returned to the main room. The woman was still in the kitchen though she had abandoned her file on the counter and was now heating something in a loud, noisy machine. Loki cleared his throat loudly and walked into the kitchen, tracking water onto the warmed floor as he went.

“Do you have anything I can wear or am I expected to remain in my prison robes?” he asked. She turned around to face him. Her dark eyes stared into his, but she seemed lost in her own thoughts. It took another moment for her black irises to adjust on him.

“There should be sufficient clothing in the loft upstairs,” she told him. “I expect you know how to dress yourself?” He smiled wryly, and his green eyes glinted dangerously.

“I’ve grown quite accustomed to handmaidens.” She shook her head once and turned to the noisy machine, where something inside was rotating on a disk.

“Welcome to Midgard, where everyone is expected to care for themselves.”

“And I aimed to change that—but no one agreed with me.” He turned toward the small, narrow staircase that led up to the open loft bedroom. But he heard the sound of her soft and hushed laugh from behind him.

The upstairs loft held a small single bed and a dresser. A painting above the headboard showed off a woodland scene much like the wilderness that surrounded the lodge. The raw wooden railing looked out over the living room and those glass windows that still showed the snowfall glittering in the lights from the house.

Inside the dresser, he found clothing fit for a man shorter and wider than he was. So the heavy waffle pattern shirt hung loosely around his torso, and the black slacks were too short by several inches. He felt ridiculous, even by Earth standards, but figured it would suffice until he could find more suitable dressings.

Once he had dried and dressed, he returned to the main floor. The machine was no longer cooking, and she was setting a blood red plate down on the island counter that separated the rooms.

“You must be starving,” she remarked as she returned to the bar. “Long trip from the heavens, I imagine.” She turned back around and ignored him as he took a seat on an uncomfortably stiff stool. He looked down at the meal she had prepared for him in disgust.

“What is this exactly?” he asked as he lifted a silver fork and wondered if it was sharp enough to pierce her throat.

“All they had in the freezer.” She turned back around and offered him a friendly smile. He didn’t return it. The air in the room was heavy with the foul scent of the meal, and despite the gnawing hunger in his gut, he did not want to eat it. So instead, he turned up his nose at her. “It was from a frozen package,” she explained. “They’re always revolting. I’ll try to get better supplies next time I kidnap a God.” Then she turned around, and he allowed himself to smile.

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