Sigyn opened her eyes to thunder rolling in the distance. The morning sky was mottled with shades of grey and dark blue, and the air was heavy with an oncoming storm. A storm. The realization knocked the wind back into her lungs and she shot upright. Pain laced along her ribs with every breath of cold air. Cracked. The fall had cracked her ribs and she would need to heal them before she could go much further.
And Sigyn could have sworn the thunder sounded like a war drum.
Find shelter now, or a few cracked ribs will be the least of your worries.
Her pack wasn’t far from where she landed, and she managed to crawl over to it. She could hear the small creek behind her, and the trees towered above her on all sides. As she moved –more like crawled—closer to the creek, she could see rocks through the trees, and in the rocks was an opening. The water only went up to her knees, and by the time she crossed it and crawled up and over the rocks to the small opening, her knees and hands were scraped and muddy. The trees outside her cave moaned and creaked with the wind, and when the storm finally did come Sigyn wrapped Loki’s cape tighter around her shoulders and prayed it wasn’t Thor looking for her.
Once the storm had passed there was no sign of an Asgardian army coming after her, Sigyn began the long and painful process of healing her injuries. Several ribs were cracked, three to be precise. Her left shoulder had to be popped back in using the rough cave wall for leverage. There was the sickening sound of bone grinding against bone as they slid back into place, and she realized the fear of being found had kept her from feeling the pain until now. Then there was the gash than ran down her left cheek. Sigyn healed it as best she could but decided to let it finish healing it on its own, along with the numerous other scrapes and cuts. Her major injuries had drained her of so much energy that she didn’t want to waste what little she had left. Exhausted, cold, and in pain, Sigyn finally allowed herself to fall into an uneasy sleep.
Loki had been a constant presence in her dreams since his fall, and now was no different. They were back in Asgard, and Loki snuck into her room and crawled in bed beside her as he often did. His breath ghosted along her ear as he whispered, “Find me…”
Sigyn woke with a gasp. She could still feel the chill in Loki’s breath and the way his arm had wrapped around her. Outside the rain had stopped and there was only the steady drip as droplets fell from the trees. Ignoring the pain as she moved, Sigyn grabbed the bowl and made her way outside. The late afternoon sun fell through the trees and the ground squished beneath her boots as she knelt next to the creek and filled the bowl.
The only thought in Sigyn’s mind as she went through the spell, the bowl spinning faster and faster above her hands, was Show me Loki. Please. Just let me see him.
As it had been in Asgard, the bowl showed her Loki but nothing more. Nothing that gave away his location. Nothing that could help her find him. She couldn’t even hear him, though she could tell he was talking to someone. For once she was frustrated with his ability to cloak himself so well. He looked different, though. Leaner, paler, with longer hair and a fiercer gaze and a wolf-like snarl.
“My Loki…what has happened to you?”
It was close to midnight and Jane was tired of going over the data for the fourth time trying to make sense of it. Her eyes were tired and her head ached the more she thought about it. Deciding she wasn’t going to get anywhere tonight she started gathering up her papers, hoping she’d have better luck tomorrow.
The monitor in front of her beeped twice and for a second there was a sudden spike in energy on the map. It was too quick for her to get an exact location other than it occurred far to the north of them. Then it was quiet.
“Darcy, did you see that?” Jane asked as she turned around, only to find her assistant typing away at the essay that was due tomorrow but that she’d put off until tonight, music blasting through her headphones. Of course not.
As each minute that passed without a repeat occurrence, Jane’s hope dwindled more and more. If it had been the Bifrost, there would have been higher readings and it would have lasted longer. This was either some other sort of naturally occurring anomaly or her equipment was on the fritz.
Either way, it wasn’t Thor.
Frustrated and disappointed, Jane moved running a thorough diagnostic on her equipment to the top of her list of things to do tomorrow.
For three days and three nights, Sigyn remained in the cave, biding her time while her injuries healed and her strength recovered. Casting any more spells was out of the question, and she couldn’t focus on her reading for long before succumbing to exhaustion. Given that her body was still recovering from the fall told her she’d done something wrong. The wrong words. Not enough blood for the sacrifice. Or maybe it was Loki’s Jotun blood and his vast knowledge of magic that had allowed her and Loki to slip between the worlds as easily as walking through a door. Whatever the reason, her patience was starting to erode under her anxiousness. Three days she could have spent searching for Loki were wasted, and the delay left her feeling sour.
She awoke just before dawn on the fourth day feeling something like her old self. Her chest still ached when she breathed and her joints creaked from days of inactivity but her head was clear. And she needed out of the cave, away from its rough, dark walls that seemed to swallow her. Grabbing her things and pushing herself to her feet she stumbled out into the morning light. Her skin prickled from the cold, so she wrapped Loki’s cloak tighter around her. Suddenly feeling very exposed, Sigyn climbed upon the nearby rocks until she was on a boulder with a flat surface high enough that it provided her with enough height to keep her from anything—or anyone—that passed, but low enough that she could climb down easily.
Sigyn pulled everything out of her bag and laid them out before her. Where to start, and with what, was overwhelming. Four books, one of which wasn’t really a book but a leather bound journal half-filled with spells and information taken from a dozen different books in the archives. The other three had more useful information than could fit into one journal. The bowl. A long dagger that she really wasn’t sure would do her any good in a fight but was at least a useful tool. Then there was the dwindling supply of dried meats and fruits she’d brought with her.
Did she continue searching for Loki here, or did she find somewhere safer, somewhere civilized with food and a warm bed, where she could continue the search from there?
The sharp rumbling in her stomach and a glance at what little was left of her food supply made up her mind for her.
From this particular boulder, Sigyn couldn’t see any roads, and could only rely on the position of the sun for directions. Which was pointless if she didn’t know which way to go in the first place.
“Damn it.” She was more lost here than she had been in Asgard and she slammed her fist against the rock, adding new scrapes the faded, half healed ones. Sigyn watched as the lines slowly turned her knuckles bright red. Then she caught sight of the bowl and an idea took shape.
Blood. Neither she nor Loki had ever used blood, only water. The thought of cutting her hand open again for another sacrifice, though, wasn’t particularly appealing to her. But she was covered in enough scrapes and cuts that maybe she wouldn’t have to make a new one. She cracked open one of her books and flipped through the dry pages until she found something that might be of use to her.
“…blood is an amplifier in divination…best when used with another medium of some kind… locations are difficult to scry and it’s best to use something of where the practitioner is located as an aid…”
Sigyn closed the book and dragged a hand through her hair with a sigh. She picked up the bowl and studied it for a moment, thinking back on all the times her and Loki had worked with the thing using only water. How they hadn’t even thought to use anything else. Climbing down from the rock with the bowl in hand, she walked back over to the creek and filled the bowl once more. She then grabbed a small bit of dirt and sprinkled it into the water, watching as it darkened the water slightly.
The gash on her cheek was just starting to heal, itching just beneath the fresh scab. It wasn’t her first choice, but most of her other cuts had healed to the point where they were too small and too shallow to yield enough blood. She took a deep breath to ready herself, then peeled part of the scab off with a grimace and flicked it aside. Pain blossomed on the side of her face and stung when she tentatively touched her fingers too it. They came away with just enough blood to cover her fingertips, which she dipped into the water and watched as the blood began to disperse.
I need safety and shelter to find Loki. I need to find a starting point.
As she hummed and held this thought in her mind, the bowl spun faster and faster above her hands until suddenly it stopped and lowered itself back into her hands. The blood and dirt slowly started to congeal, coming together in shapes that slowly became more recognizable. Runes. And Sigyn could have wept with joy at the single word they formed. Finally something that could help her. A direction.
For the first time in several nights, the sky was clear enough to see the stars. Jane sat on the roof as she so often did and picked out each constellation she could see. It helped clear her mind when she hit a block. Her notebook was in her lap and open to the rough drawing of Yggdrasil Thor had sketched out, her fingers absently brushing over the one he labeled Asgard. Soon she wasn’t identifying constellations but started trying to figure out which out of all the stars was Asgard. If it could even be seen at all.
“Jane?” She turned around to see Darcy come up onto the roof, a small gift bag in hand. “Everything okay? You’ve been up here almost all night.”
“Yeah, I’m just…thinking.”
Darcy sat next to her and peered over at the open notebook. “Any luck?” She shook her head. “What about that…weird thing…that happened with your computer the other night?”
“I think it was just some sort of weather anomaly. Whatever it was, it hasn’t happened since.”
“Maybe you have a virus or something. My computer kept giving me the blue screen of death last time I had one.”
“The diagnotics showed everything to be normal.” She eyed the bag still in Darcy’s hand. “What’s that?”
“Oh! This is for you,” Darcy said, handing the bag to her. It was a little heavy, red, and practically stuffed full of red tissue paper that she had to dig around in until her fingers hit something solid. Two things actually. When she pulled them out she gasped. In two simple black and silver frames were pictures of Thor. One was Darcy’s infamous Facebook picture of Thor at the diner with his mouth full of pancakes. The other was one she had snapped in secret while she and Thor were making breakfast for everyone.
“Darcy, these are great. Thank you.” Jane couldn’t help but smile at Thor’s dopey mouth-full-of-eggs grin, but it was the memories of the second photograph that made her heart flutter. It’d been almost a year, and every day she missed him more.
“You’re going to find him, you know,” Darcy finally said when the silence stretched too long between them. “If anyone could open a portal to another world for a guy it’s you.”
Jane laughed and looked up at the stars again. “God, I hope you’re right.”
Sorry, this chapter took a little longer than I hoped. But there is something different at the end.
It took Sigyn less than a day to find any sort of civilization, though it certainly wasn’t what she was hoping to find. This town was small, little more than a handful of roads and buildings and so quiet that for a moment Sigyn feared it was abandoned. When someone came out of a building with the word ‘Diner’ in glowing, flickering script above it she nearly jumped at the sudden disruption. A quick glamour concealed the cut on her face and altered her clothing to make her clothing look less Asgardian.
The diner was nearly empty when she entered, a single bell announcing her arrival. A woman with greying red hair came out from the back. “What can I get for you, honey?”
When Sigyn opened her mouth the words wouldn’t come. It had been many years since she’d last been to Midgard and suddenly she felt very lost. Something as simple as ordering food shouldn’t be this difficult, but contact with anyone after days of paranoid isolation left her overwhelmed.
“Hey, you alright?”
The loud clang of dishes being cleared at a nearby table brought her back to the present. Out of the corner of her eye, Sigyn saw a man sitting at the counter pay a young woman who looked like she could be of an age with her and she cautiously approached the counter. “I…just soup will be fine. And something to drink.” Her own voice sounded thin and cracked and so very unlike her.
The woman looked her up and down for a moment before disappearing into the kitchens and she sat at the counter. She could feel other eyes on her and pulled her pack into her lap, hugging it to her. Minutes later, the woman, Vicki according to the tag pinned to her shirt, returned with a bowl of red soup, two crusty rolls, and a cup of black liquid. “You look like you could use something warm to drink.”
“What is it?” Sigyn asked.
Sigyn dipped the rolls into the soup and fought to keep from wolfing them down. The coffee was strong, but it warmed her through and she decided she liked it.
“You heading to Boulder?” Vicki asked. “Most people who stop here are on their way there.”
Sigyn had no idea where she was, much less where this Boulder was or if she should even go there. South. I’m going South. “Perhaps.”
“Ah. Family trouble?”
For a moment she thought her family, the mother and father and sisters she never said goodbye to. Then of Thor and Frigga and the compassion they had shown her when others hadn’t. But mostly she thought of Loki, the man she loved and had been so close to marrying and starting her own family with, the man for whom she had forsaken her family and her home to be by his side once more.
“Of a sort. How would I get to Boulder from here?”
“Y’keep going south on this road. Shouldn’t take you more than a couple hours. It’ll be dark soon, you sure you don’t want to wait for a ride?”
Sigyn shook her head. She was certain she could move faster than any mortal and preferred not to spend too much around them if possible. “No, thank you. I’ll be fine.” She reached into her pack and created a few bills similar to the one she’d seen the man use earlier and placed them on the counter. “Thank you for the food.” They were staring at her, she could feel it, but she avoided eye contact with anyone as she left.
Halfway down the street, the wind picked up and a chill went down her spine that Sigyn wasn’t entirely sure was from the wind. The hairs on the back of her neck and on her arms stood upright and she stilled.
“It’s not safe for a young lady to be walking alone. Especially not so close to dark.”
Sigyn couldn’t bring herself to turn around. Surely her and Loki weren’t the only ones to walk between worlds without the Bifrost; Odin must be able to as well or at least send someone after her. “I’m fine. Really.”
The footsteps grew closer. Heavy, clumsy, but definitely mortal. “Wouldn’t feel right just letting you walk all the way to wherever you’re going. Roads can be dangerous.”
Not entirely sure of his motivations, Sigyn chewed at her lower lip as she decided what to do. Talking him out of it might not work and would take too long anyway. But…
She hadn’t practiced a lot of magic since she came to this world, just working with the bowl and her healing spells, and her fingers itched to do something else. Something more like what her and Loki used to do.
With a subtle flick of her fingers, Sigyn’s original glamour crumbled and a new one built itself in its place. She couldn’t see it, but the way the man’s face paled when she turned around, his already large eyes blown wide in horror and his jaw slack in a silent scream, was enough. “Still want to give me a ride?”
The man scrambled back, muttering and stammering about demons, before tearing off in the opposite direction. Sigyn finally caught a glimpse of her reflection in the window. Her eyes were pure white and framed by dark circles. Her face was pale, gaunt, cracked along the gash in her cheek so much that the lower half of her face and neck were painted with blood. It wasn’t bad for something she made up on the spot.
The glamour vanished and Sigyn broke into a run, weaving in and out of shadows as she made her way south.
Boulder was a significantly larger city nestled between the mountains, and she arrived well after dark. It. Sigyn found a motel on the edge of town and created enough money to buy herself a couple days.
Her room was bare, sparsely furnished, with a single bed, chair, table, a dresser with a black box on top and an adjoining bathroom. The bed was especially tempting, and even if it wasn’t the most comfortable compared to her bed back in Asgard, after days of sleeping on rocks and travelling through the woods it was a welcome comfort. But even as she sank onto the mattress, she couldn’t sleep. Her gaze kept going back to the bowl. Yes she had her direction but it wasn’t enough.
With the bowl refilled, Sigyn sat cross legged on the bed and made a small cut on her finger before squeezing a few drops of blood into the water. A direction needed a destination; she had to find her starting point.
She didn’t even have to spin the bowl this time. As soon as the blood hit the water it took shape. A four pointed star, each point made up four lines. A yellowish color seeped out from the center of the star, slowly coloring the water until the star was on a field of gold. Sigyn set the bowl down carefully so as not to disturb the image, grabbed her journal and sketched it, scribbling quick notes along the edges.
Sigyn watched as the image dissolved. Perhaps the bowl was feeding off her anxiousness to find Loki and acted on its own? The image’s meaning was lost on her and she was too tired to make sense of it now. The door was locked, chained, and warded before Sigyn sank into bed and slept, dreaming of Loki and blood red stars.
Loki hadn’t thought about Sigyn since his fall. A bit before that actually. The moment he had locked her in her rooms (for her protection, he told her), his focus had been on the frost giants and destroying Jotunheim. Then Thor came back and…
Well, when he let go of Gungnir he let go of everything. His ‘family’. Asgard. So it made sense that he let go of her, too.
Why he thought of her now, he wasn’t sure. Perhaps it was how the serving girl looked at him as she passed. She bore no true resemblance to Sigyn, but the look –that coy gaze from under the lashes when she wanted them to be alone—was too similar. Or maybe it was that his ‘hosts’ were taking too long discussing the proposition he’d given them. Loki could be a patient man but right now said patience was wearing thin.
Have they told her what I am? He’d kept the truth from her, so afraid that she would call him a monster. Of course, they had to have told her. All of Asgard must know by now. Would she be horrified knowing she’d let a Jotun touch her? Kiss her? That she’d let a monster into her bed?
The wicked glee he so often felt when he imagined Thor and his friends’ reactions to his heritage turned to ash when he thought of Sigyn’s. Her anguish and disgust brought him no joy, but rather something dangerously close to sadness until he crushed it into nothing. Missing her was pointless; he would never see her again. Nor would he make whatever wounds he’d left her with worse.
A messenger told him his hosts were ready to discuss the plan further and Loki banished all thoughts of Sigyn from his mind. For both their sakes, he would commit one final act of kindness, the very thing he’d done when he let go of Gungrir.
He would let her go.
Sorry this chapter took longer than planned. Life and writer's block and all that.
Boulder turned out to be the starting point Sigyn needed. No one questioned the sudden appearance of a strange, young woman, and when people kept asking her if she was a student at the nearby school she saw no reason to tell them otherwise. If asked, her name was Vicki (since it was the first Midgardian name that came to mind), though she found she liked the full version, Victoria, better. A new glamour turned her hair from dark blonde to dark red and covered the scar on her cheek. A new identity for a new city.
The library attached to the school was her refuge. It paled in comparison to the palace archives but it was better than nothing.
Her first priority had been to find out the meaning of the red star. Sigyn poured through books on stars, but these people called their stars strange things. Red dwarves. Red giants. Most of it was of no use to her. And all the pictures she found looked like they could have been taken from the Bifrost. Do these mortals not understand they’re looking at Yggdrasil?
The books on symbolism were worse. It seemed a thousand different cultures and religions held the red star in some sort of high regard. That meant a thousand possible leads, or none at all.
After days of coming up with nothing, Sigyn decided on something different. It wouldn’t help her search for Loki but it would satisfy her curiosity. Piled in front of her were books on Norse mythology. The first was a children’s book, bright and colorful and simplified. Loki’s hair was the color of flame, and Sigyn remembered when he had insisted on wearing his hair like that.
The second, third, and fourth books were interesting. She knew, as did most of Asgard, that what was written about them in the legends was wrong. No, more like distorted. Bits and pieces of the stories were true. Some came close to the truth, with only a detail here or there that had been changed. Others just felt exaggerated. It was almost funny to compare the myth and the reality.
Ragnarok though... Sigyn slammed the book shut and flung it across the table with an air of finality when she read about that. The mortals are wrong.
The last book was larger, and covered mythologies from all over Midgard. Sigyn made a point of ignoring the section on Norse mythology, and skimmed through other areas. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, none of it mentioned a red star that matched what she’d seen, and hopelessness settled like a heavy stone in her chest.
Somewhere in the middle of the book, just after the Asian mythology section, something caught Sigyn’s eye and she went back. It was the Native American chapter, and she flipped through the pages one by one. It caught her off guard, and her gasp drew the attention of nearly everyone around her. The Zuni sun symbol stared back at her just as it had in the bowl. Blood red on a field of gold. The fine print underneath it read: The official flag of New Mexico.
It took all of her self-control not to scream and cheer and cry and collapse in sheer relief. Her hand shook as she wrote her findings down; her knees wobbled as she returned all the books to the cart. The young man behind the desk just looked at her strangely when she demanded to know where New Mexico was and the fastest way she could get there.
“Did you hear me? I need to know where New Mexico is and how to get there.”
“I heard you, it’s just…how would you not know where it is? Never mind. It’s a couple hours south of here.” As she turned on her heel to leave, he added, “The bus would be fastest. There’s a good bus station out of Colorado Springs.”
South towards a red star. “I see. Thank you.”
The bus would have been easier, not to mention quicker, but after acquiring a map and realizing exactly how large New Mexico was, Sigyn decided on walking…again. The bowl gave no mention where in New Mexico she should look, and Sigyn mentally kicked herself for not paying enough attention to Thor talking about his time on Midgard. She left at first light, leaving the room as though she had never been there.
It took her days to reach New Mexico, travelling day and night. Occasionally, someone would slow down and offer a ride to wherever she was going. One day, as the sky opened up to pour chilled rain down on her, she nearly took an older man in a truck up on his offer. Instead, she just ran faster until the rain stopped and she was soaked to the bone.
As she passed a sign that read Welcome to New Mexico, Sigyn kept to her plan of ‘new place, new look’. Black hair this time, like Loki’s only longer, she thought with a smile. She even decided she would go back to being called ‘Vicki’ rather than ‘Victoria’.
It wasn’t until she abandoned the highway and found a small lake that she decided to rest and regroup. New Mexico was too large and too unfamiliar for her to just roam about aimlessly. She could consult the bowl again but…after reading about Ragnarok she was wary of it. The book may not have mentioned this bowl specifically but it still chilled her to even look at it. Instead, and she admitted that this was a poor alternative, she spread out the map she ‘acquired’ (more like stole but who would notice one map missing?) in front of her.
With only a vague idea of where she was, Sigyn tried to piece together what Thor had mentioned while he was here. He’d described mountains and flat, dry land but…had he mentioned trees and forests? Rivers? Important land markers she could use? She didn’t think so but he could have mentioned those things when she wasn’t around. Regardless, she crossed out the few areas of green on the map. That still left…most of the state.
Frustrated, she ignored the chills as she picked up the bowl and filled it with water from the lake. When the spell was complete she opened her eyes and expected to see something. So long as that something wasn’t her reflection staring back at her.
So she tried again, dumping the water and filling the bowl anew. Again nothing. Dump, refill, spell. All with the same result. The bowl was silent.
“Damn it, where are you?” she screamed as she tossed it aside, and the bowl hit the grass with a muted thud. “Was there a point to being stranded in this gods forsaken realm?”
Her screams startled the local wildlife, a couple birds flying out of the nearby bushes. It was after she sank to her knees and stayed there, willing herself not to cry in frustration, that one of the birds approached the water. A magpie. Loki’s favorite. It ignored her for the most part, flitting around the water’s edge.
She laid on her back and closed her eyes, feeling the breeze caress her skin. For the first time it occurred to her that he may not miss her the way she missed him. If at all. Thor did say he let go of Gungrir. The thought dogged her as she tried to keep her mind clear.
“What are you looking for?”
The voice, high pitched and clipped, came from beside her. Another magpie, the first was still tittering around the edge of the pond. Sigyn really should have been surprised a bird was talking to her, but after a lifetime spent between Vanaheim and Asgard with the mysteries both realms had to offer, a talking bird on Midgard really didn’t disturb her.
“Did Loki send you?” It was a stupid question, and one that sounded even dumber when she said it out loud. The bird must have thought so too, since it just tilted its head at her. “I’m looking for someone. Someone I love.”
“He is lost and so are you.”
Sigyn frowned in confusion and annoyance. “I know that. I need a way to find him.”
The magpie was silent, hoping over to where the bowl lay discarded and poking at it with its beak. “Your answers may be at the old bridge yet, if the winds have not changed.” With that, the magpie flew off into the trees, followed shortly by its partner.
Sigyn didn’t move for a long time after, mulling over the magpie’s words. When the sun began to dip below the horizon and the sky turned a dusky pink, she gathered her belongings and decided to continue south along the highway.
After all, how many old bridges could there be in one state?
It was well past one in the morning before Jane was able to drag Darcy out of the bar. Her assistant wasn’t that drunk—she could still stand, walk, and play around on her iPhone at the same time—but she thought she would at least make sure Darcy got back safely. And besides, it wasn’t as though Jane was asleep at this time of night or anything.
Darcy snickered as she scrolled through some page on her phone. “The Rocky Mountain Demon…”
“What are you talking about?”
“This guy…I think he was from somewhere in Colorado…says he saw a demon.”
“A demon?” Jane asked, eyebrow arched.
“Yeah,” Darcy held the phone close to her face and quoted whatever she was reading, “She was a blonde, real pretty, and I asked her if I could give her a ride since she said she was headin’ to Boulder. Then she turned and her eyes were all whited out and it looked like someone had ripped the side of her face open.”
“Don’t tell me you believe all of that?”
“You never know! I just think it’s a stupid name and if I was this demon or ghost or whatever I’d be pissed that I’d been given such a lame nickname,” Darcy said, suddenly defensive in her drunkenness. “Besides, you’re hardly one to talk, miss ‘I-have-the-thunder-god-for-my-boyfriend.”
Jane’s cheeks suddenly felt hot. “Thor’s not…” What was Thor, exactly? And was he her boyfriend or…? “He’s not a god.”
Darcy rolled her eyes. “Fine. He’s an alien or an inter-dimensional being or whatever. My point is you have no business knocking the supernatural.” She paused, “Especially not if you’re going to be kissing it like that.”
Jane had to admit that Darcy had a point, and she honestly never thought they’d agree on something like that. “Okay,” she said with a smile, “Show me proof this demon exists and I’ll consider that it’s not some guy making it up.”
They turned a corner and honestly with the streetlight Jane should have been able to see the other person coming but they practically appeared out of the shadows at a dead run and collided with her. All three of them hit the ground with a thud and the sound of…stuff… hitting the pavement. Jane felt the cement scraping against her palms and elbows and Darcy squealed something about her phone.
When she sat up, she got a good look at the young woman who’d run into them. She was hunched over on her knees, her face obscured by the angle and her long black hair tied in a messy braid that fell over her shoulder. Whatever had hit the ground must have been hers, as she was scrambling to put everything back into a large leather bag. Jane’s own notebook lay nearby.
“Are you alright?” Jane asked.
“Never mind the drunk girl lying on the sidewalk!” Darcy called.
“I’m fine.” The young woman stood, and Jane got a slightly better look at her. Everything from her face to her hair to her clothes looked like it was covered in dirt and dust. “Sorry about that.” She looked around, and it reminded Jane of a wild animal that had somehow wandered into the city. “What is this place?” And hell if there wasn’t something familiar about how she said that.
“New Mexico? Puente Antiguo? A very boring place if you’re not drunk?” Darcy said without getting up from the sidewalk.
The girl looked at each of them curiously, and nodded. “Thank you.” Then she took off running down the street.
Jane picked up her notebook before helping Darcy to her feet. “Well, that was weird.”
“Yeah, really. But hey, my phone’s still intact.”
“That’s good. Let’s…let’s just go home.”
The streets were empty and silent as they walked back, save for Darcy who continued to talk about the new game she’d installed on her phone, and the odd girl they’d crossed paths with was all but forgotten.
A quick note on spoilers, since the movie is coming out this Friday. First this chapter doesn't have any. Second, I had planned to keep this story as close to the movie-verse as possible, so eventually events from the movie (most likely the beginning since that's where I planned to take this). However, given my rate of actually updating this thing it'll be a while before I probably hit any spoilers. Also, I'll be sure to put 'spoilers' in the notes so you'll know which chapter to avoid until you see it.
The book wasn’t hers.
Sigyn cursed herself for a fool a thousand times over as she tore through the pages in a near panic. Instead of spells and notes and all her findings, there were more pictures of stars and complex math equations and things she didn’t understand.
The mortal she ran into must have it, or another; Sigyn wasn’t sure which was worse. Her hands were shaking. The thought of all that knowledge and all her work, all the things she thought would point to Loki, in the hands of another --a mortal-- made her sick.
Sigyn looked back towards the town, silent and barely touched by the early morning light. She was perhaps an hour or so out, and there really wasn’t any other choice. She had to go back.
Darcy yawned as she left the little diner, shielding her eyes from the sun with her. Thanks to Jane’s schedule she’d become accustomed to waking at an early hour, even if she wasn’t needed. Though of course she was still staying up late which left her feeling like something out of a zombie flick until she had her coffee. And the diner did have really good coffee.
There was the sharp squeal of tires when someone hits the breaks and the blaring of a horn just down the street and Darcy, along with several other people standing on the sidewalk. This girl was just standing there, staring at the car with a deer-in-the-headlights look in her eyes, and she didn’t seem all that concerned that the man driving the car was yelling at her.
“What a weirdo,” Some guy said as he was leaving the diner. “She was wandering around earlier this morning. Muttering to herself about something. Not even sure if it was English.”
Then the girl looked right at Darcy, or right through her, she couldn’t tell. Whatever it was gave Darcy a hinky feeling and she didn’t like it.
The old car dealership that Darcy liked to call their base of operations was empty; Dr. Selvig had been gone for a while working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Jane...well, she didn’t know where Jane was now but she assumed she was off gathering more data or some other important work Darcy didn’t entirely understand but was getting there. It felt a little like a fishbowl at times with the glass walls but she got used to it after a while. And it wasn’t like there was anyone around who looked in on them or anything. She picked up her laptop, ready for her usual routine of Facebook, Twitter, then Youtube.
It was after watching a video of a ‘drunk’ cat that Darcy saw something out of the corner of her eye. The girl who nearly caused a traffic accident was standing in front the glass, staring at her, hand poised like she was going to knock on it.
Darcy wondered if her taser was nearby.
“You’re the drunk girl on the sidewalk from last night, yes?” She called, and Darcy had to pull the memory from the drunken haze last night was before she knew what the girl was talking about.
“And if I am?”
She pressed something to the glass. “I have something that belongs to either you or your friend, I think.”
Jane’s notebook. Darcy practically jumped out of her seat and bounded over to the door. “Where’d you get that?”
“She must have dropped it when we collided last night. And I think she has mine because I have one similar to this.”
Whoever she was, this girl didn’t appear all that dangerous. “Well, um, Jane’s not here right now. I mean, she’ll probably be back soon once she realizes she doesn’t have that but I could call you when she gets back.”
She looked at Darcy like she was trying to piece together what she was talking about before saying. “I don’t...have a phone. Or any way for you to call me.”
That was odd, and it certainly didn’t make Darcy feel any better about what she was going to offer next, but Jane would flip if she lost track of the girl with her journal.“Well, I suppose you could wait here, then,” she said as she opened the door.
The girl looked relieved, thanked her, and stepped cautiously into the dealership. Now that she was sober she could actually get a good look at her. She looked about her age and was taller than Darcy by a couple of inches. Her dark hair was in a mess, the braid falling apart and covered in dust. The rest of her wasn’t much better; her face and hands were speckled with dirt, and her clothes had the same thin layer of dust her hair did.
“Jeez, did you walk through the desert?”
“I might have.” She looked at Darcy peculiarly, like she was trying to remember something, before extending her hand out towards her. “Vicki Anderson.”
“Darcy Lewis,” she said, shaking her hand. “Look, um, I’m gonna call Jane and tell her to come get her book back. If you want to get cleaned up or something we have a bathroom you can use.”
Vicki nodded, her fingers playing anxiously with the bag’s strap over her shoulder before she placed on the ground, propped up against the leg of the table. “Thank you,” she said and retreated to the bathroom.
Jane’s phone rang four times before going to voicemail, so Darcy tried again before leaving her a message that could be summed up as ‘you probably want your journal back and this chick wants hers so get your ass back here’.
Just as Darcy pressed the ‘end call’ button, Vicki stepped out of the bathroom without a speck of dust or dirt on her. “Did you talk to Jane?”
“Um, no. She probably has bad reception wherever she is. But I did leave her a message so she’ll probably be here soon.”
Vicki nodded and there was a heavy awkwardness in the air. She was looking around at everything, the curiosity and the discomfort plainly written on her face.
“So...what brings you to Puente Antiguo?” Darcy wasn’t sure which was more awkward, the silence or attempting small talk, but she hated silence so talking it was.
“Just passing through on my way south.” Vicki was walking around the little kitchen area, her gaze falling on the coffee machine, which was empty, then the bag of Doritos still on the counter. “May I?”
“Yeah, go for it. So where’re you from?”
Vicki paused as she opened the bag, her mouth open for a moment like little kid who remembered she shouldn’t tell strangers personal information or something like that, then answered, “Boulder.”
Darcy’s jaw dropped.“You walked all the way from Boulder?! That’s like...a six hour car ride!”
“No. I mean, I didn’t walk the whole way. I...I took a bus part of the way but there was this guy who kept staring at me so I go off a couple miles back and walked the rest of the way.”
“Weird.” Which was how Darcy could pretty much describe this whole situation.
Hours passed with no word from Jane and Vicki pretty much just kept to herself. The entire bag of Doritos was gone within an hour, and she kept flipping back and forth between news channels and soaps and cooking shows while Darcy found herself back on Youtube. Eventually Vicki wandered over to her, and soon they were both watching weird videos about giant spiders and people doing stupid stunts and lyric videos, and for a moment the awkwardness was gone and for a moment the whole scene almost seemed normal.
Still, she had a good idea of where he taser was.
Her phone was dying, so she asked Vicki to get the white cord from the desk while she pulled up the next video. It was a thirty second task at most, but by the time the video had loaded and she’d been waiting for at least several minutes before turning around.
“Is it there? I swear that’s where I last put it.”
Vicki was staring at something on the desk, her eyes blown wide and the color drained from her face. When she got closer, she saw it was one of the pictures she framed for Jane--the one she put on Facebook to be exact.
“Hey, is everything alright?”
“Yeah, I...” her voice was quiet, shaking, “I thought I recognized him.”
“You thought you recognized Thor?”
At the mention of his name, her vulnerability was gone, slammed shut like a door closed in the wind. “Thor?”
“Yeah, he’s...well, that’s what he called himself anyway.” Strange as this girl was, she doubted Vicki would believe her that the thunder god himself had been there.
“Then I was mistaken. I don’t know anyone who calls himself that.” Vicki picked the cord up off the table and handed it to her. “I...I need to use your bathroom again. Excuse me.” And before Darcy could answer, she’d already disappeared.
Darcy wasn’t sure how anyone could mistake a face like Thor’s, even if he called himself something else.
As soon as the bathroom door was shut, Sigyn slumped against it and slid to the tiled floor. Her heart pounded like a wardrum against her chest. Her breath came in shallow gulps, hitting her with a fresh wave of nausea each time.
Of all the mortals to find that book...why his?
Sigyn dared to peek up at the ceiling, as though with that one look Heimdall would see her though all the building’s metal and plaster. Loki’s pendant was still protecting her; she could feel the magic thrumming beneath her hand as she clutched it. She wanted to run, to leave this place as fast as she could, and maybe they all would forget about her.
They couldn’t forget about her if they had her book, though. If Jane was half as smart as Thor made her out to be she could have all her secrets within days. All her sacrifice and work for nothing.
Sigyn closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, slowing the persistent pounding in her chest. She reminded herself that once she had escaped Asgard and the royal palace. Surely she could outsmart a couple of mortals.
Darcy was bored. Vicki had been in the bathroom for a half hour and she didn’t know if she should ask if she was alright.
Five more minutes. Then she’d check.
Darcy swung her legs back and forth like she used to do when she was bored as a kid. Her foot caught on something and there was the soft sound of a bag falling over onto the floor. Vicki’s bag.
The leather bag was laying on its side, flap open and contents half spilled out. Darcy cursed under her breath and knelt by the bag to straighten it out. Partially because it was the nice thing to do, but also because if this girl is freaking out over a picture and a book, Darcy didn’t want to see her if she saw her bag like this.
Though it had to be the weirdest collection of things Darcy had ever seen anyone travel with. There were other books bound in leather and that looked older than anything she’d ever seen in an antique shop, and probably most museums. In the bottom of the bag she could make out some folded green fabric. But the weirdest thing, and the most difficult to put back as it had been, was the wooden bowl, with its oddly familiar knotwork she kept staring at despite the fact that Vicki could come out of the bathroom at any moment. It was unique, not like most Celtic knotwork one could buy over the internet or something like that. Seemed like something Thor would like.
Thor. That’s where she’d seen it. Or at least at the Bifrost sight. Jane had taken what felt like a thousand different pictures of it after Thor left and Darcy, as her assistant, had to catalogue all of them not only once but twice. Grabbing her phone from the table, she quickly snapped a few shots from different angles before quickly shoving the bowl back into the bag. She propped it upright again, like nothing had happened.
A quick comparison of the pictures on her phone to the ones on her computer confirmed it; the markings were too similar to be coincidence.
Of course, Vicki walks out of the bathroom just as Darcy makes this realization, and she practically jumps out of her skin.
“Feeling better?” Darcy asks as she closes every picture on her computer.
“Yes, much better. Have you heard from Jane yet?”
Suddenly Darcy really wanted to know what was in the journal Jane had. “Not yet. Actually, I was just going to step outside and call her. Sometimes the reception in here isn’t so good, either.”
Vicki nodded and Darcy picked up her phone, trying to look like she wasn’t running out of the dealership as she dialed Jane’s number.
This time Jane picked up after only a few rings.“Darcy, is everything alright?”
Darcy wanted to laugh. There was quite possibly another Asgardian or other inter-dimensional being on Earth and Jane had her book. “Have you gotten a good look at your notebook, lately? Or checked your messages?”
“No. Why, what’s,” There was rustling on the other end and then silence. “Oh my god...this isnt’...”
“It’s not your book, I know. Listen, the girl who’s book you have...She’s here and she has your journal.”
“Oh thank god. Darcy just keep her there, I’m leaving now.”
“That’s not going to be a problem but there’s something else....”
“What is it?”
“I think,”Darcy bit her lip and looked back towards the dealership. Vicki was sitting in front of the T.V. with another bag of Doritos, and she couldn’t believe what she was about to say. Her voice dropped to barely above a whisper.
“I think she’s from Asgard.”
Very slight spoiler warnings (?): There is a very brief mention of the alien race and who leads them. I don't think it's anything too spoilery, though; it's not real specific.
Jane agreed to meet Darcy at the local grocery store so that they could discuss what to do next in private. She pushed the cart while her assistant picked up several bags of Doritos, at least one of each flavor they had.
“Do we really need all of this?” she asked as Darcy chucked a can of barbeque Pringles into the cart as well.
“Dude, this girl eats like she has the worst case of the munchies. Of course we do.”
While Darcy darted into other isles and grabbed a bunch of miscellaneous junk food, Jane flipped through this ‘Vicki’s’ notebook again. She should have noticed that it wasn’t hers sooner; it was bound in leather and a bit heavier than hers, but with getting Darcy home safely she hadn’t noticed.
“So what’s in mystery girl’s book of shadows or whatever?” Darcy asked, a box of strawberry Pop-Tarts tumbling into the cart.
“I don’t know actually.” Most of it clearly wasn’t in English, some of it in runes and some of it not. And the handwriting wasn’t easy to read either. “What I can read is just...random. There’s stuff about red stars...a lot of it. Astronomy, symbolism, religion, mythology...”
Darcy took the book and flipped through it a few times while Jane put a couple things back. “Too bad my school didn’t offer a class in ancient Nordic runes. Might have been helpful.” She handed the book back to Jane and tried to sneak one of the bag of chips back into the cart.
“And you’re certain she’s from Asgard?”
Darcy nodded as she scrolled through her phone. “Remember how Thor’s speech was all formal and he walked in front of cars without thinking? Same thing with this girl. She eats like him --which by the way if your theories are accepted in the next few years I am so writing a dissertation on Asgardians and junk food. She claimed she recognized Thor, but then got real cold when I mentioned his name and hid in the bathroom for a half an hour, and then there’s this,” she said, practically shoving the phone in her face.
The bowl definitely had familiar knotwork going around the top. “It’s like the Bifrost site.”
“That’s why I called you.”
She zoomed in on the picture, examining it closely before giving it back to Darcy. “Something still doesn’t make sense, though.”
“What are you talking about? She’s got the Bifrost bowl and the Asgardian appetite and the odd mannerisms. It’s like...an interdimensional checklist and she fits each one.”
A woman gave them strange looks as she pushed her cart past them, and Jane waited for her to pass before continuing, quieter. “When Thor first came to Earth, one of the first things he did was announce who he was.”
“Yeah, right before I tazed him.”
“And he kept insisting he was Thor. Same with his friends when they came here. They didn’t hide their identities. If this girl really is from Asgard, why is she giving us a false name?”
“Maybe she has a really ugly name and wanted a change?”
Jane pushed the cart towards the check out, Darcy pulling all of the food onto the belt. In the corner right above the door was an old security camera, boxy and obvious. It had a definite ‘you are being watched’ feeling about it that made Jane’s skin crawl.
“She doesn’t want to be seen,” She said, so quiet she almost didn’t realize she’d even said it. Then it hit her. “Darcy that’s it.”
“What is?” The cashier was giving them the same strange looks the woman had been in the snack food aisle.
“Whoever she is, she doesn’t want to be found. She’s in hiding.”
Darcy handed her one of the bags as they left the grocery store. “Great. An Asgardian fugitive.”
“Or refugee.” Jane had always believed that no matter what sort of trouble Thor had gone back to Asgard to fight, he had won. Now, she had doubts, that perhaps Asgard had fallen or was under the rule of a tyrant and this was the first of many people who were fleeing.
“Or that, too.” Darcy shrugged. “So how do we find out which one she is? It’s unlikely she’ll just tell us.”
The beginnings of another storm could be seen in the distance and Jane smiled.
It had been far too long since Darcy left and Sigyn was starting to get uncomfortable. The building was too open with all its glass walls, and she felt like someone’s pet. Dark clouds were rolling in off the horizon like a black wave. Another storm was coming, she could feel it the hollows of her bones and her magic twitched beneath her skin like an itch.
She kept the volume on the television quiet as she flipped through the channels. It had taken her the better part of an hour one night in her hotel in Boulder, but in the end she figured out how the device worked, even if she didn’t understand the purpose for half of what she watched. News was important, though from what she could tell from it the mortals fought each other more than Vanir used to before the All-Father sent her father and the armies to quell the uprisings there. Everything else made little sense so she kept the volume low and just watched the pictures, waiting anxiously for the others to return.
It was near sundown before a van pulled up in front of...wherever she was...and Darcy and Jane hopped out.
“You must be Jane Foster,” she said, tossing her empty bag of Doritos into the trash.
“I am.” She extended her hand and Sigyn shook it. “Thank you for bringing my notebook back.”
The tension in the air was thick, palpable. Here, standing in front of Thor’s mortal, Sigyn was struck near mute in her apprehension. Something dark and writhing whispered at the edge of her mind, So this is the girl Thor chose over Loki?
“Well you have something that belongs to me, as well. So an exchange is probably in order.” She just wanted her journal back and then run away as far and as fast as she could. She tried to mask her abruptness with a smile.
“Right, just give me a minute.”
As Jane searched through her bag, the low rumble of thunder came closer and Sigyn had to still her breathing, to remind herself that Thor wasn’t on Midgard, that without the Bifrost he was trapped in Asgard.
Still, she wanted to outrun the storm. Lightning split the sky in the distance, followed the soft rumble of thunder like a great beast just awakening just as Jane handed her journal back to her. If the Norns thought this was some sort of jest, then Sigyn thought it a poor one.
She clutched the book to her chest as she practically shoved Jane’s notebook back to its rightful owner, who looked entirely too pleased about the oncoming storm.
“Don’t mind Jane; she always looks this lovestruck when it thunders.” Darcy was in the little kitchen area, pulling some round, flat food out of a box.
“I do not!”
“Is it because of the one you believe is Thor?” Sigyn asked even though she knew she shouldn’t. She should be running away by now.
“Dude, we don’t believe. We know he is.”
Jane smiled almost sheepishly as she put her book on the table. “He, um, did make a very convincing argument.”
That was enough. Every instinct was screaming at her to go go now, and it took a great deal of composure not to just grab all her belongings and run. “I’m sure he did.” She tucked her own book into her bag and slung it over her shoulder. “Thank you, Jane Foster, for returning this to me.”
She hadn’t taken two steps before Jane said, “You’re not leaving, are you?”
“Do we have further business?”
Her answer was another flash of lightning brighter than before soon followed another wave of rumbling thunder and Sigyn knew her moment had passed.
“Well, there’s a storm coming for one and you don’t have a car or any safe way to travel.”
“Plus we got enough pizza for the three of us,” Darcy added.
“And I should repay you somehow for bringing this back to me.” Jane said, placing her own notebook on the table.
If she wanted to blend in with the humans, she’d have to act like them, even if it meant waiting out the storm with them. Indeed the Norns have the most peculiar sense of humor.
The pizza, as Darcy called it, was interesting and very, very good, as were the wide variety of chips she brought back, all of which felt something like a peace offering.
“What are you smiling about?” Darcy asked and Sigyn didn’t even realize she was grinning.
Bribing a goddess with snacks. Interesting. “Nothing.”
They wanted to know more about her, and she had to make up answers for their cordial curiosity: Where was she from (Boulder), what was she studying (Anthropology with a minor in Astronomy, at least that’s what they called it), where she was headed (Santa Fe, to do some research at a university there, which is what she needed her notebook for), and if she was alright after walking so far in the desert (Yes, I’m used to it, my family does a lot of camping and hiking).
And they kept bringing up Thor. Darcy was fond of mentioning that Thor adored Pop-Tarts and Jane explained how Thor had saved her notebook the first time and that it was ‘convincing argument’ that got her her research back from S.H.I.E.L.D., whatever that was. Of course she had heard this story and the thousand different variants it produced in Asgard, so she had to act like she hadn’t heard all of this before, even as she fought from squirming in her seat.
“I have a story about Thor,” she finally said just as Darcy was encouraging Jane to elaborate on the kiss they had shared before his return to Asgard. Thor had left most of the details out of that part but Fandral had not.
“I thought you didn’t believe he was the god of thunder?” Jane asked.
“I don’t. I’m an anthropology major, remember? I know a great deal about mythology.”
“Dr. Selvig gave us a crash course in Norse myths after Thor left,” Darcy said before taking another bite of pizza.
“Did he tell you about the Lay of Thrym?” The look on their faces told her he hadn’t. “Once, a frost giant named Thrym managed to steal Mjolnir, and he would only give it back if he could marry the goddess Freya. When Thor asked if she would marry Thrym, she told him not for all the gold and silver and gems in all the Nine Realms.”
“Wow, Thor...rude, asking a girl to marry a giant so you can have your magic hammer back.” Darcy said, and Sigyn smiled.
“Indeed it was. Thor was so enraged that everyone feared that he would tear the palace apart. But it was his brother, the trickster Loki, who devised a plan. Thor would disguise himself as Freya and Loki as one of his handmaidens and they would go to Jotunheim and retrieve Mjolnir themselves.”
“Wait...that was their big plan?”
“What happened next?” Jane asked.
“Well, Thor made a beautiful if not modest blushing bride and Loki a very lovely handmaiden, and they went to Jotunhiem. Thrym remarked that ‘Freya has both eaten and drank twice her weight in food and mead, to which Loki replied that she had been fasting in her...excitement. When he commented on the fire in Freya’s eyes, Loki explained that her joy in marrying Thrym had kept her awake at night. The feast ended, and Thrym placed Mjolnir in her lap as a wedding present and... Thor revealed himself, striking down all the frost giants. And with his hammer back they all went home.”
Jane and Darcy were staring at her, mouths agape and silent. Loki would have drawn the story out, embellished it with far more details and threw his voice from the deep rumble of a frost giant’s to Thor’s own deep voice trying to sound like a woman’s. Sigyn lacked his gift for story telling, though, and settled back into the cushions, her lips curling into a self-satisfied grin.
Darcy was the first to laugh. “Oh my god, it’s ‘Ye Olde Little Red Riding Hood’...with vikings!” Jane made the connection and soon even she was giggling.
“You never heard of Little Red Riding Hood? ‘My grandma, what big teeth you have’ ‘all the better to eat you with, my dear’?”
Sigyn shook her head and Darcy proceeded to tell her the whole story, even explaining about various endings. Even the gruesome ones she thought Loki might like and she committed them to memory.
“Something doesn’t make sense though.” Jane was on her computer again, muttering something about an email from work. “Only Thor was able to lift Mjolnir. So how was Thrym able to steal it?”
Sigyn gave a slight shrug. “It’s just a story.” One that Loki had started as revenge after he and Thor had quarrelled over something miniscule and lost to time, and then took on a life of its own in the centuries that followed. “Details change.”
The storm, which had to be the worst that Sigyn had encountered since landing on Midgard, and she found herself growing tired. Tired enough to overlook every shred of sense that told her she should not be there in favor of one night’s respite. The distance she’d traveled in the short amount of time in which she did left her drained. Even an immortal needed rest once in awhile.
Darcy mentioned something about making another pizza and watching some movie and Sigyn decided that for one night she could stop. Perhaps in the morning her head would be clear enough she could continue her search and actually get somewhere with it. Loki, I will find you I promise, but I have run myself ragged.
“You coming, Jane?” Darcy asked.
Jane didn’t look up from her computer, but answered, “Yeah, just, gimme a few minutes. I want to finish something up. Then I’ll join you guys.”
Darcy nodded and turned to Sigyn. “Here, help me make this pizza, then we’ll watch a couple movies. You ever seen The Lord of the Rings?”
Jane crept into the stairwell that lead to the roof while Darcy and Vicki were working on the pizza, dialing Erik Selvig's number. Technically he wasn't supposed to have any contacts but since S.H.I.E.D. benefitted from her research an exception was made for her. The phone rang several times before Erik answered.
"Jane, is everything alright?" there was excitement and concern in his voice; she'd said she would only call him if there was big news or something was wrong.
"Yeah, I think so at least. I have a question of a mythological nature."
"A mythological nature ?"
"Yeah, the Norse goddesses. Wikipedia's list is too long to go through and I'm short on time. Which one had the bowl?" No answer, just the faint sound of breathing and people working in the background. "Erik?"
"Idunn...was said to have a basket in which she carried her golden apples. Perhaps if it's a large enough bowl..."
"This thing couldn't carry more than three apples."
"What are you talking about?"
She chewed at her lower lip, listening to make sure Darcy and Vicki still were still working. And they were; she could hear Darcy asking how Vicki had never had pizza before.
"There's this girl here," she said quietly. "Darcy says she reeks of Asgard and I think she's right. "
"She has a book filled with runes and weird writing and astronomy and mythology, and a bowl with knot work identical to the bifrost site. Erik, if you saw her you'd understand. It's like when Thor couldn't quite grasp how to act on Earth, that's what she's like."
Another pause. "Did she give you a name?"
"No, well I mean yes but it's not her real name. Vicki Anderson."
The next lull was so long Jane thought the call had been dropped. "Nothing comes to mind but I'll keep looking. Let you know if I think of anything. Oh and Jane...” The silence that followed this time was different, heavier. “Be careful with her.”
In the next room, the opening music from Lord of the Rings blared and Jane figured that if Darcy could get Vicki to watch all three movies she would have at least until dawn to figure out who she was.
Loki retreated to the far corners of Selvig’s mind, never fully leaving but enough to let the man work. Sometime later, the mortal emailed Selvig two pictures; one of a familiar wooden bowl and one of an even more familiar face half covered by dark brown hair he once remembered as blonde. Instinctively he reached out and touched the screen (through Selvig), fingers gently tracing her cheek, before he yanked his hand away and deleted the emails.
Let her go. You let her go. Remember? That had been easier when he believed her in Asgard. Safe.
An icy horror slithered down his spine. Sigyn would be there when his army conquered Earth, another face the Chitauri would see as a foe and destroy. Yet to place her under his protection would place an even worse target on her; it would bring her to the attention of his...benefactor. And he would not allow that to happen.
Perched on this desolate rock in some far flung corner of space, Loki had no way to contact her. To warn her. At least not any way he dared use.
“My foolish girl,” he whispered, with no one to hear him but the stars. “What have you done?”
Sigyn didn’t remember falling asleep, and she certainly didn’t remember how she ended up sprawling out face first on their little couch, her face smothered in the cushion and her hand brushing the floor. The bright, mid-morning sunlight nearly blinded her as she peeked one eye open. Everyone muscle throbbed with a dull ache as she pushed herself upright.
“Morning, sleeping beauty.” Darcy and Jane were sitting at one of the tables, a laptop open in front of them. “There’s still coffee if you want some.”
Her gaze darted around the room, looking for her bag. "Thank you, but I really should be on my way."
"Leaving so soon?" Darcy asked, not looking up from the laptop and Sigyn felt something like a doe during one of the great hunts, about to be cornered by the hounds.
"Yes, I still have a long way to go."
"Who did you say you were working with again?" Jane looked up at her and she felt a brief twinge of panic. They hadn’t asked for anything specific the night before.
"Dr. Williams, in the Anthropology department." It was a name she had heard in passing in Boulder and she hoped it would carry over to Santa Fe.
"See, the thing is there is no Dr. Williams in the Anthropology department. Not according to their website."
Every nerve was alive and on alert and she would have bolted if she could. "Where is my bag?" She snarled when Darcy pulled it up from under the table. “Give that back.”
Darcy just smiled. "Tell us where you’re from and I will."
"I already told you I'm from Boulder."
"Except that you're not," Jane said. "When I opened your book, half of it didn't even look human, and the rest-”
“You dared to open my book?” For the moment, she was tempted to reach across the table and crush Jane’s throat, Thor’s wrath be damned. “What gives you the right to look through my findings?”
“Who even talks like that?” Darcy asked almost whimsically to herself. “I mean really.”
“Where do you think I’m from, exactly?” Sigyn interrupted, folding her arms across her chest as though she could shield the truth from them. “Is there a point to any of this?”
Jane and Darcy exchanged glances, but it was Jane who spoke. “We think you’re from Asgard.”
The dread that had been swelling inside of her popped with a laugh that seemed to bounce off the windows and rattle the room. “You’re delusional.”
That was when Darcy reached into her bag and pulled out the bowl. Sigyn’s fingers curled into a fist and the feeling of dread coiled in her stomach again. “That’s it? Some wooden bowl I bought at an antique shop is your proof that I’m from Asgard?”
Jane turned the computer around and Sigyn froze. In big letters at the top of the page was her name: Sigyn. Beside it was a small article summarizing what she had read in the mythology books, as well as several pictures of what she assumed was her mythological counterpart holding a bowl over...Loki...while a serpent dripped venom over him. Her chest tightened and her tongue felt like lead. She opened her mouth to deny it, to throw some caustic barb about how Jane was so deluded in her search for ‘Thor’ she’d lost her senses, but no sound came out.
“You’re Sigyn, aren’t you?” Jane asked.
She could always lie, spin another tale that would throw them off her scent, but all the little details needed to make it real slipped through her mind and were lost. She cast a quick, furtive glance upwards. Her cloaking spell would stay intact, as would her glamour, and perhaps Heimdall wasn’t looking in this direction at this precise moment. Surely Thor would not have the great gatekeeper of Asgard watching his mortal all the time. And besides, she was tired of hiding, of chasing one clue after another like a dog after its own tail. She needed the moment to ground herself again.
“Thor was right; you are clever.” She paused. “Much too clever for your own good, I might add.”
Caught between excitement and surprise, Jane just stared, her mouth agape, at Sigyn’s confession. “Wow, so um, Sigyn...”
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use my real name so much. Don’t want to draw too much attention to myself.”
“What, are you like the Asgardian Bloody Mary?” Darcy asked. Jane could see her fidgeting with her taser beneath the table. She’d been against her bringing it; if Sigyn was still immortal a taser would just piss her off. But Darcy agreed to keep it hidden so the taser stayed. “Say your name three times and some ghost shows up?”
“I don’t know who that is, but the consequences would be worse than that.” Sigyn showed no emotion as she touched the screen in front of her. She couldn’t see it, but she imagined that she had touched one of the pictures of Loki bound beneath the serpent.
“If you’re...you know,” Jane asked, “Then you know Thor?”
She didn’t look up, though from the tone of her voice the room felt about twenty degrees cooler. “Fear not. Thor still lives.” A pause, and then Sigyn swallowed hard and her voice shook just slightly. “My Loki is dead, though.” Sigyn’s eyes hadn’t left the computer screen until she finally closed the laptop hard enough that both Jane and Darcy flinched. “The Bifrost was destroyed and he fell from it into an abyss.”
“Oh God...I’m sorry,” Darcy said quietly. The hard lines in Sigyn’s face softened for just a moment before she turned away and marched into the kitchenette area.
Jane’s stomach tightened into knots. The Bifrost was destroyed, Thor was alive but stranded in Asgard and they were separated by billions of miles with no way to bridge the distance.
And yet this girl, this Sigyn, had come to Earth after the it had been destroyed...
“How did you get here, then?”
“If there’s no more Bifrost, how did you get here?”
Sigyn was pouring herself a cup of coffee, her back turned towards them. “That is my secret to know.”
Erik’s warning, be careful with her, came back to her but the question came tumbling out before she had a chance to change her mind, “What would it take for you to tell me this secret of yours?”
"You mean like a price? You want to know the price for my secret?" Jane nodded, edging forward eagerly in her seat. She waited for a few, long moments, before she turned around and answered. "Jane, not for all the gold and silver and gems in all the nine realms would I tell you how I got here."
And just like that all the hope that had been rising in her chest fell like a brick.
"You sure you're not Freyja?" Darcy muttered under her breath.
"Why not? Is there some Asgardian law about not telling humans about your magic?"
Sigyn drummed her fingers against her cup. "One, I'm an Asgardian, and the journey nearly killed me. It would probably kill you and I would prefer not to incur Thor's wrath for putting you in harm’s way."
Jane’s eyes went wide in shock. “He wouldn’t really hurt you, would he?”
Sigyn shrugged, staring into her cup. “He would be angry, which in and of itself is a terrible thing to behold if you’re on the receiving end of it. Maybe he would, or maybe he wouldn’t; either way I’m not anxious to test that theory.”
The awkward silence that followed was suffocating. How could she even respond to that? She’d seen the lengths Thor had gone to to save her and Puente Antiquo --both dying and destroying that machine-- and how he had single handedly broke into a S.H.I.E.L.D. parameter, but the thought of him in a blind rage...
Darcy, thankfully, broke the silence. "What's number two, then?"
"What?" She asked, looking up sharply.
"Well, when you started your whole rant you started with one, implying that there was more than reason. So what's reason number two?"
Sigyn stared at Darcy, absently taking another sip of coffee. "Thor never mentioned that you were clever as well. Perhaps he should have." There was a pause as Sigyn seemed to mull the question around in her head. "Number two is that I have no intention of returning to Asgard. At least not for a long while."
Sigyn arched an eyebrow at them, as though the answer should be obvious.
Jane put it together, though. "You're Loki's wife. If he lost the battle, then that makes you-"
"A highly undesired figure in Asgard. And I wasn't his wife, not yet."
“But you were close to him. Close enough to know what he was planning?”
Sigyn shrugged, the barest hint of a smile on her lips. “In Asgard they believed I was.”
“But were you?”
Again, she shrugged. “The truth didn’t matter there; why should it here?”
“So what are you doing here?”
That hint of a smile turned into a full serpentine grin, and suddenly Jane was glad that Darcy had her taser. “Why, I’ve come to destroy your pathetic realm in revenge for my Loki’s death,” she hadn’t even finished the word death before Darcy had her taser pointed at her and Sigyn was doubled over laughing. “It was merely a jest!”
“That’s your idea of a joke?” Jane had her phone in her hand, ready to call S.H.I.E.L.D. should Darcy tase her.
“Well, to court the god of mischief, I suppose one would have to have a slightly...different...sense of humor. Please don’t shoot me with the...the...whatever that is. I’m assuming that’s what you shot Thor with?” Darcy glanced sideways at Jane, not lowering her taser, and nodded. “Well, you need not worry. I’m merely a refugee.”
“Or a fugitive.” Darcy said, lowering her taser slightly.
“Semantics,” Sigyn corrected with a flippant hand wave. “My point is I’m here to lay low for a while.”
“And I suppose it’s only a coincidence that you came to Puente Antiguo, where your boyfriend just so happened to drop some sort of robot that damn near leveled the town and killed Thor?” The memory of Thor lying in the dirt, bloodied and dying, was still too fresh and raw in her mind, and Jane wasn’t going to cover her anger.
Part of her expected Sigyn to lash out and was surprised when she didn’t. She just stayed in the kitchenette, leaning against counter. “That...thing...malfunctioned. It was never supposed to come to Midgard, much less attack Thor.” She folded her arms over her chest. “As for why I’m in Pointe Aguio or however you say it, I’m only passing through. I don’t stay in one place for too long.”
“Puente Antiguo,” Darcy corrected. “Spanish for ‘old bridge’.”
The only way Jane could describe what happened was that it was as though someone had flipped on a light switch within Sigyn. Or rather switched off. The walls came crumbling down; she was pale and her eyes were wide, mouth parted slightly as whatever witty retort she had died on her tongue. It was unnerving, to see her change so fast. She and Darcy exchanged worried glances, while Darcy held up her taser again.
“What did you say?” she asked, her voice was different, softer and trembling. Not the voice of a goddess but of a girl.
“Puente Antiguo is Spanish for ‘old bridge’. Why? Does that mean something to you?”
Sigyn said nothing. She wasn’t even looking at them, but rather past them into the desert.
"Magpies," She whispered, then broke the silence with a short, sharp laugh that made them jump. Jane was surprised Darcy didn’t taze her then.
"Tell me Jane, how is your search for Thor going? I can imagine not very well if you're asking to know how I got here."
Darcy was shaking her head, and Jane contemplated giving her some half-assed, dodgy answer. In the end, she figured lying to her might not be the best idea. “You’re right. I...seem to have hit a dead end in my research.” Beside her, Darcy’s head drooped in disappointment.
Sigyn walked around to each piece of equipment, each telescope, each computer, inspecting them without actually touching any of them. “What if I told you I’d reconsider telling you how I came here?”
“I thought you said it was dangerous, that it nearly killed you?” Jane asked, wary.
“And you said you didn’t want to test your ‘Thor’s wrath’ theory,” Darcy added.
Sigyn frowned, her rant from earlier seemingly forgotten. “I said I’d tell you, not show you. Who knows, maybe you’ll even figure out where I went wrong.”
“In exchange for what?” Tempting as the offer was, Jane knew better than to accept it without at least asking. “There’s always a price.”
She was fixated on a particular telescope, the largest one she had. “My price...will be the shared use of your equipment. Mutual cooperation. I help you with your research, you help me with mine.”
“Jane...” Darcy yanked her by the sleeve so that they were close. “I’m getting a really weird vibe off of her. Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“What choice do I really have? I mean, yes she’s strange but...” Jane peeked up at Sigyn, who wasn’t looking at them probably out of courtesy, though she could probably still hear everything anyway. “She could help fix all the holes in my research.”
Darcy’s look told her she still wasn’t comfortable with the idea but was letting it go. Jane turned back towards Sigyn, who was waiting patiently, her hands clasped neatly in front of her. She knew should have been more uncomfortable with all of this than she was. They knew very little about Sigyn, her relationship with Loki, or with Thor, or what really drove her out of Asgard. She shouldn’t even be contemplating any of this; she should have let Darcy tase her a couple of times before calling in a squadron of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.
Except that S.H.I.E.L.D. would probably lock her up in a government facility in the middle of nowhere. Then all information she had to offer would be lost. And something told her that if Sigyn could survive whatever brought her to Earth, a couple of federal agents wouldn’t be much of a threat to her, either.
If there was a chance that she could help her find Thor, help her open a portal to Asgard, then Jane was willing to risk whatever she needed to with this strange alliance. “Before I agree...what are you looking for?
Siygyn looked out towards the desert again, and her voice was distant. “A way home.”
“I thought you said you weren’t wanted in Asgard?” Darcy asked.
“Asgard is not my only home. And even if I don’t plan to return there for some time, I don’t want to be stranded on this one forever, either.”
Jane stepped forward, still not entirely sure of who or what she was dealing with, and extended her hand. “Then we have a deal?”
Sigyn stared at her hand for a moment, and for a moment before taking it. “You have yourself a deal, Jane Foster.”
“Wonderful,” Darcy muttered in a deadpan voice behind them. “I’ll go make up a bed for her.”
Your answers may still be at the old bridge, if the winds have not yet changed.
Sigyn decided once and for all that the Norns really did have a twisted sense of humor. As did the magpies.
They had set a up a little room for her with just enough space for her to have privacy. Yet sleep did not come easily to her. She tossed all over air mattress, her legs tangling in the flimsy blanket they provided. She was uneasy about her decision to tell Jane the truth --well, her version of it-- and the agreement to help her. But all options had risks and this one, she figured, would at least have risks she could control.
But something else was keeping her awake. It pressed at the back of her mind, yet it would dissipate like smoke whenever she tried to grasp it. Familiar whispers just at the edge of her hearing that alternated warm and cold, soothing and urgent, but she couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying.
It was her exhaustion, she reasoned. She was on the verge of sleep at last, the edges of reality fuzzy and blurred in the place between dreams and waking. Yes, that was it; she was exhausted.
Sigyn. Loki’s voice was fractured, like light refracted through a prism. Sigyn, what are you doing?
She bolted upright, her breath coming in ragged trembling gasps. Her eyes adjusted to the dark quickly as she looked around the room, trying to determine if every shadow was just that, a shadow, or if Loki was hiding in them. The sound of his voice was already fading and Sigyn clung to it desperately. Losing it, after so long without hearing it, was like having him ripped away from her again.
“Loki,” she mouthed, praying it would somehow summon him and he would emerge from the shadows. When he didn’t--
“Just a dream,” she whispered.
Sigyn pulled his cloak out of her bag. The green fabric was still relatively clean; she hadn’t the heart to pull it out and actually use it. She held it close to her chest, the way a child would with her blanket, and curled back up on the mattress.
As far as Darcy was concerned, the jury was still out on Sigyn.
Sure she was the former girlfriend of Thor’s crazy half-brother, and had never acknowledged that sending a giant robot to destroy a small town was wrong, which Darcy still found unsettling. But since he was dead and she was willing to help them find answers and complete Jane’s research then Darcy was at least willing to give her a chance.
That first morning Darcy found her curled up on the air mattress, some dark green blanket that she didn't remember giving her clutched to her chest and wrapping around her arms and legs. She was sleeping in the same clothes she'd probably worn since Boulder. So before her and Jane got too into the research, Darcy organized a quick road trip to the nearest thrift store. Sigyn didn’t object and by the end of the day, she had at least a few days’ worth of clothes.
Jane gave her a crash course in how to work all of her equipment. That hadn’t been horrible; Sigyn picked up on technology fairly quickly. In return, Sigyn explained the basics of magic, which still pretty much went over Darcy’s head. Something about energy and will and runes and incantations and other dizzying things. But Sigyn always dodged the question of how she came to Earth, or anything to personal. Like she was giving them the Spark Notes version of Asgardian magic. Darcy had never seen Jane get so frustrated so quickly.
On the second day, Jane wanted answers. “Alright, you promised me answers. You said you’d tell me how you got here.”
Sigyn had both a star chart and her own notebook in front of her, neither or which she looked up from. “I opened a portal.”
Just like that. Like opening a door. Darcy could already tell that this was going to be a fun afternoon. “Real helpful there.”
“Yes, but how?”
Sigyn let out a long, heavy sigh before looking up. “Very well. I went to a place of power, made a sacrifice, said the words and the portal opened. I stepped through and landed here.”
“A place of power?” Jane asked.
“A sacrifice?” Darcy sometimes wondered what Jane’s priorities were. “You mean like a goat? Oh please tell me you didn’t sacrifice a goat or some weird shit like that.”
“What? No! The sacrifice was a small amount of my own blood.” Sigyn ran her thumb across her palm and Darcy supposed that was a little better, though still weird. She turned to Jane and said, “As for the place of power...the Bifrost is the safest and most expedient way to travel between realms, but there are places where that veil is very thin. And Asgard has several of them in the forests outside the palace.”
Without saying anything, Jane got up and started going through some of her papers. Sigyn looked to her and Darcy shrugged. “She does that sometimes. You get used to it.”
Jane came back moments later with a print-out of some energy readings and a map. “You said you came from Boulder. Is that roughly around where you...came through the veil or however you call it?”
“More or less.”
“And you came here about a month ago.” It wasn’t a question and Sigyn looked vaguely uncomfortable.
Jane placed the graph in front of her and pointed to a particular energy spike. “That was your arrival. This level of energy was picked up in northern Colorado and then just disappeared.” Sigyn didn’t say anything and Jane pressed further. “Is this one of those places of power?”
Sigyn shook her head. “No. It’s complicated but they really only work one way. Like...if you walk through a door, but then when you turn around the door vanishes behind you. Midgard has a few such places but I do not know where all of them are. And even if I could remember where they were I wouldn’t tell you. Last thing I need is for you to accidentally end up on Jotunheim and freeze to death.”
“You said you’d help me.”
“I am helping you. Slipping through the realms is not as easy as it sounds and could kill you.”
Oh yeah, a real fun afternoon, Darcy thought.
Jane and Sigyn went back and forth, arguing over what Sigyn should or should not be helping her with. Jane wanted her to show her the proper way of using the secret paths so there would be no danger. Sigyn was hell bent on not letting Jane get to Asgard using the way she had left it. She was too calm though. Darcy wished she would just scream or show some kind of emotion. It would be less creepy.
“You say it nearly killed you. How do we know you’re telling the truth?”
Sigyn pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. “Fine.” She shimmered gold around the edges and it was like watching the sun come out from behind the clouds. Blonde started at the roots and worked its way to the tips. Her skin brightened. Except there was a long dark scar that ran from her temple to her jaw, and smaller ones like it were visible on her arms.
“Whoa,” Darcy whispered.
Jane moved in closer, inspecting her scar. “How did you get that?”
“The portal dropped me out of the sky. I had more broken bones and cuts than I care to think about.” Another shimmer and the sun went back behind the clouds. Her hair went back to dark brown. The scars blended seamlessly into her skin. A shadow passed over her and Sigyn looked mortal again.
There was a heavy silence in the room and the subject of how exactly Sigyn came to Earth was dropped for good.
"You said the Bifrost was destroyed." Jane said, and Sigyn flinched ever so slightly.
Sigyn wouldn’t look at either of them and answered, “Ask Thor to tell you when you see him again.”
The pain was evident on her face, raw and exposed and vulnerable. Jane was about to push further, but Darcy put her hand on Jane’s arm and shook her head. “Loki.”
Jane got it and lowered her gaze. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t pry like that.”
“It’s...it’s alright.” Sigyn shook her shoulders, like shrugging off an old cloak. “Just know that when I left, construction for the new observatory was well underway. So Thor will be able to return to you soon.”
There was something off about the way she said his name. “Do you hate him?” Darcy asked. “Thor, I mean.”
“No.” Sigyn smiled slightly. “At first Loki and I kept our relationship secret. Or at least we thought we had. Thor found out somehow. Loki he...he was so worried about his brother’s reaction; he thought Thor would be upset we kept this from him. But...the next time I saw him, Thor comes running up to me in the hallway, his arms thrown wide and yells ‘Sister!’ in that booming voice of his and practically crushes me in a hug. And ever since he has been more of a brother to me than my own siblings. So no, I don’t hate him. But after everything that’s happened...”
Darcy’s glasses slid down her nose and she pushed them back up. “Alright, we’re taking a break.”
“What?” Jane and Sigyn said together.
“You heard me. We’re taking a break. It’s been non-stop science and magic since eight in the morning with you two and maybe it’s just me but my brain is fried.”
“You haven’t done anything,” Jane said.
“Watching you guys is giving me a headache. I was thinking we could have Chinese for dinner or something.”
Jane frowned. “The only Chinese place you like is a half an hour away.”
“Exactly! Our friend here has been on Earth for a month and she’s never had The Golden Dragon’s General Tso’s chicken. It’s practically a crime and reflects poorly on our hospitality.” Darcy grinned proudly at the surprised (from Jane) and impressed (from Sigyn) looks she got. “What? I did my homework. Read up on old Norse hospitality.”
So Jane ordered several orders of General Tso’s, and extra egg rolls, and left to pick it up. That left Darcy about an hour.
“Alright, we’re going to talk.”
Sigyn looked a little stunned and tilted her head. “About what?”
Darcy took a deep breath. “The 800 pound gorilla in the room.”
The look on Sigyn’s face was priceless. “Where?”
Right, she has no idea what that means. “No, no.” Darcy was trying so hard not to laugh she was shaking. “It’s just a saying.”
“Oh.” And now Sigyn was trying to play it off like she hadn’t been two seconds away from blowing the place up, which was even funnier. “Then what do you really wish to talk about?”
Darcy supposed she should be asking that question. She had taken only one psychology class (Psych 101) and she’d gotten a B in it but that was only because her professor had been dull and monotone and at 8 in the morning (and who the hell schedules a class like that at 8 am?). And her mom and grandma were obsessed with watching Dr. Phil so she’d seen enough episodes to wing it. Besides, it wasn’t like traditional psychology would work a goddess-immortal-whatever.
Her whole body went tense and her hands trembled. Darcy almost regretted bringing him up. “Why do you want to talk about him?”
“Because you obviously do. Because it’s pretty clear you miss him and are still mourning him and that’s why you’re having a hard time working with Jane. You’re running from Asgard and she’s running right towards it.”
Her fists clenched. “There is nothing to talk about. Loki is dead.”
Sigyn chewed at her lower lip and then pulled a necklace out from under her shirt and held it between her fingers. “You’re right,” she said quietly. “I do miss him. I never got the chance to say good bye and Asgard mocked my grief, save for Thor.”
Darcy’s couldn’t help but feel bad for her, even if she did feel conflicted about the whole thing. Parts of the town were still being rebuilt. She still had nightmares about that robot thing that Loki had sent down, of the creaking of metal and fire melting the sides of building. People had been hurt and Thor had died.
But they had also seen Thor come back from the dead. Sigyn would never have that. Nor would Thor and his parents. Loki’s death was final, and Darcy could only imagine how painful mourning must be for centuries old gods or immortals or whatever they were.
“I’m sorry.” That much Darcy meant. “Look, I know this isn’t easy on any of us. You lost Loki, Jane misses Thor, and I don’t understand half of what you two talk about. So how about over dinner you can tell some more stories about Thor and Loki because you’re in a better mood when you talk about the crazy shit you guys did, and then it can go back to being the science channel around here.”
“Why are you doing all of this?”
“Well...I’m not a fan of what he did to the town but you’re not him but... I don’t know the whole story about what went down is Asgard so I’m not going to judge. I just want to you keep your word and help Jane.” She paused. “And maybe ease up on the ‘ooh, I’m some sort of advanced being so all I’m going to give you are cryptic answers’ thing.”
The tension went out of Sigyn’s shoulders and she smiled. “Thank you, Darcy.”
Darcy put the T.V. on and they waited for Jane to come back with dinner. Sigyn was curled up in one of the chairs with one of her books in her lap. It was old and bound in embossed, dark brown leather. Darcy imagined it probably smelled like dust, with brittle yellow pages and faded ink.
At one point, Sigyn looked up from her book sharply, the way Jane would when she finally put all the pieces of an equation together. When she asked what it was, Sigyn only told her that she wouldn’t understand any of it and insisted on watching the news for a few minutes. Her eyebrows scrunched together as she watched footage of another uprising halfway around the world before Darcy changed the channel. Sigyn kept flipping through her book, occasionally looking up at the screen.
Jane returned with their food, which Sigyn decided was delicious and Darcy was glad they bought the extra egg rolls.
Darcy was about to pass around the fortune cookies when Sigyn suddenly said, “Jane, I wanted to apologize for being difficult earlier. So I’m going to make it up to you.”
“Oh, um, okay. We’ll just start fresh tomorrow.”
She cocked her head to the side, a curious smile on her lips. “So you don’t want to see Thor?”
Jane’s jaw dropped, as did Darcy’s. “What?”
Sigyn got up and grabbed the bowl from her bag. “This is a divination tool. Its nature is...unpredictable but I might be able to show you him if you want.”
“Yes!” Clearly it wasn’t going to take a lot to convince her. “Yes, absolutely.”
Sigyn tossed a small knife on the table and went to fill the bowl with water from the kitchen. “I will need something from you, though, for the spell to work.”
“What do you need?” Sigyn sat on the floor and gestured for them to sit as well. They tried to sit in a circle but it ended up looking more like a triangle instead.
“Just a few drops of your blood.”
That got her attention. “Why? Why do you need my blood?”
“You’re the one who wants to find him. It has to be yours,” Sigyn said as she retrieved the knife. “And it has to be given freely.”
Darcy could see the apprehension in Jane’s eyes as she weighed the prospect of using some kind of blood magic against the chance of seeing Thor. “And it’s only a few drops?” She tentatively extended her hand and Sigyn nodded. “Alright.”
Blood welled up in the tiny cut Sigyn made in Jane’s index finger, and she squeezed a few drops into the water.
“I thought you said you feared what Thor would do to you if you hurt her?” Darcy asked.
But Sigyn ran her finger over Jane’s cut and the wound sewed itself shut. No scar. No evidence that the skin had even been marred. Darcy thought of the scar on Sigyn’s face beneath her magic and wondered how bad it could have been it if she hadn’t been able to heal it like this. “Now he never has to know.” She picked up the bowl, the water already beginning to darken. “Both of you think about Thor. Only about Thor.”
At first it was easy. Darcy thought about tazing him, of his dopey grin as she took ‘the Facebook’ picture’, the ‘ANOTHER!’ moment. Jane was almost certainly imagining that kiss.
And then Sigyn began to hum. It started quiet, so quiet that Darcy almost couldn’t hear it. Or maybe she had always been humming it; it was hard to tell exactly when she began. A haunting melody that seemed as old as the Earth itself. Then there was the vertigo, and the feeling that the ground had dropped out from under her. And why did the room smell of pine and wet earth and moss covered stone when there wasn’t exactly an abundance of any of those in this part of New Mexico?
Thor. Think of Thor. Think of shirtless Thor.
The humming stopped, the vertigo stopped (though she still felt a little nauseated), but there was still the faint smell of pine and earth. Darcy didn’t realize she had closed her eyes and slowly opened them. The bowl was floating above Sigyn’s hands, spinning, like the earth had been cut in half but the bottom part still kept rotating.
“Look.” Sigyn’s voice was hushed and wavering.
Both she and Jane leaned forward, and Jane let out a small gasp. In the water’s reflection they could see Thor as clearly as though he was standing there. Or at least in high definition. He was with his friends in a golden room with a crackling fire in the middle. She recognized Fandral sitting next to him. The doors, gold and embellished with knot work, opened behind to a balcony that overlooked what Darcy imagined was the city of Asgard. Even though he laughed with his friends, there was a sadness in his eyes.
“Can he see me?” she asked.
“No. Nor can he hear you or you hear him.” As she spoke, the bowl began to slow and lower itself back into her hands, and the image began to fade.
“Wait! Can you bring it back?”
“Another time, perhaps. If the bowl lets us see him again.” Her eyelids were droopy and she sounded a little weary. Darcy wondered what the price she paid to do this. “But first I have to dispose of this.” She held up the bowl a little.
“Sigyn.” Jane looked wonderstruck and grateful. “Thank you.”
She stood and nodded, “We’ll start fresh again tomorrow.”
Darcy watched as she carried the bowl out of the dealership and out a little ways into the dirt. “That was something. Did it suddenly smell like a forest in here or was that just me?”
“Yeah, I smelled it too.” she was still grinning. “What was all that?”
“I don’t know. But it felt very Beauty and the Beast with the whole magic mirror vibe.”
“I’m going to find him, Darcy. No matter what I have to do, I’m going to find him.”
Now more than ever, Darcy was certain of it, too.
The desert sky was a blend of pinks and blues and reds and violets, the sun itself a bright red gem in the sky. Sigyn kept from smiling until she was outside. She didn’t really need to empty the bowl out here; in the hotel she’d discarded the water in the sink. But she needed to be away, lest she burst with happiness unbecoming of a grieving widow.
Mortal blood often makes for poor divination, her one book had mentioned. But there are exceptions. Great heroes of the mortal realm. A mortal who dares to take a token from a god. Their blood can produce great visions.
Jane had been the one to kiss Thor, according to Fandral and Darcy, and a kiss could certainly be considered a token. Her hands trembled and she poured the water into the dirt. The spell itself had never left her this drained before, nor had it been accompanied by the sensation or smells from earlier. And never had she seen Loki as clearly as she had Thor and his friends.
Darcy poked her head out the door and yelled something about fortune cookies and stargazing once the sun went down. Grinning madly towards the sky, Sigyn called that she would be back in a moment.
As she returned to the others, Sigyn pressed her hand to mouth to stifle a giddy laugh. Her experiment had worked.
Jane would help her find Loki, one way or another.
Quick Warning: Movie spoilers at the end? Sorta? Not really big ones or anything. Also a very, very brief mention of sex somewhere. Not really explicit at all. Just in case
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Sigyn delayed using the bowl to look for Loki, though not for lack of wanting to do so. Her experiment seemed to have strengthened Jane’s drive to find Thor. While Sigyn waited, impatiently, to make her next move, Jane had thrown herself into her work. Which meant that all other tasks were delegated to her and Darcy? Whatever caught her attention had it in full; she hardly spoke to them unless it was during dinner, and even then it wasn’t much. Thus getting another blood sample from her was a difficult task.
It was days later, while Sigyn and Darcy were organizing particle data for her, that Jane came running up to them. “I’ve got it.”
Darcy turned down the music on her computer. “What?”
“I know how to open a portal to Asgard.”
Dread coiled itself around a singular thought in Sigyn’s mind: No. It was too soon; she was closer to finding Loki but still not quite where she needed to be. “That can’t be right.”
“What do you mean? I haven’t even told you how I figured it out.”
“Right,” she said, trying to keep herself calm. “How, then?”
There was a heavy silence and then Jane said the words that everyone knew she had wanted to ask for days. “I’ll need you to use the bowl again.”
And there it was, the question that had lingered between them was now out in the open. Ever since her experiment, it had been obvious Jane wanted her to use it again. The only reason she didn’t ask was because of Darcy. The mortal was more observant than she realized, having picked up on how drained the whole thing had left her, and always kept the topic of conversation away from the bowl.
She was grateful, though, for Darcy’s involvement. Sigyn was hesitant to use the bowl too often, and not only because of the amount of energy she used in the spell. The consequences of a spell of that strength were unknown, and her greatest fear was that it would eventually reveal Loki to them.
She had stalled long enough. More of Jane’s blood would be needed if she wanted to find him herself so for now she would humor Jane. “And what would you have me scry for?”
“The stars around Asgard.”
Well, no one could say Jane Foster wasn’t ambitious. “The entire night sky? All the stars and constellations and worlds that can be seen? Why?”
“So I can compare it with other known star charts and planets. If I can find Asgard’s location in relation to ours, then I can find a path.”
“Even if you found a path to Asgard, how do you plan on getting there? Humanity doesn’t have the technology for interdimensional travel.”
“We have earlier Bifrost energy readings. We’ll make another one here.”
“You mean to recreate the Bifrost?” That was certainly a new idea. And risky, more so than opening a portal to get here. But since she’d already talked Jane out of that idea and she didn’t have another option for her.
“Is that even possible?” Darcy asked. “Can you just make another bridge like that?”
Both of them were looking at her expectantly, as though she had all the answers to everything. And she supposed that, to them, she might as well. “It’s...never been done before. Heimdall has been the sole keeper of the Bifrost, save for the All Father himself. However,” she paused, toying at the edge of the papers in front of her. “That isn’t to say it couldn’t be done.”
Jane's face practically lit up. "You mean that?"
"No guarantee that it will work. But you can try."
"My promise still stands." Jane said, noting the hesitance in her voice.
Ah yes, their new accord. Jane swore that she wouldn't have to be present when they left for Asgard. Nor would she mention Sigyn's involvement. She nodded.
"Great. Then when can we start?" Jane asked eager.
"A few days. I need time to prepare."
Jane looked a little disappointed but said nothing and went back to her research. Darcy opened up her laptop, pressed a few buttons, and the room filled with music. It varied in style; Darcy had explained to her the different kinds: rock, pop, hip hop, alternative, Latin. She'd even downloaded some Celtic music, thinking Sigyn would like it. Which, admittedly, she did.
"You really think it will work?" Darcy asked, returning to the particle data. Jane was standing in front of her cork board covered with pictures and data and notes, seemingly oblivious to them.
"Probably. Like I said, it’s never been done before."
If there was one thing Jane was it was determined. Her drive to find to Thor mirrored her drive to find Loki. It bred a sense of kinship with her that Sigyn hadn't expected, and Darcy she found to be entertaining company.
"Will it be any more dangerous than your way? I mean, at least people have used your way before. And I'm sure most survived."
She shrugged. “I don’t know.” Whatever she may feel about Jane and her apprehension about working with her, Sigyn hoped that it wasn’t dangerous. She found that she didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. Whether that meant she succeeded in finding a way into Asgard or not.
In the days that followed, Sigyn spent whatever time she wasn’t helping Jane or hanging out with Darcy (she insisted they needed time to relax and Sigyn didn’t wholly object to the breaks) reading over her books. The more she thought about it, the more she doubted that Jane would actually be able to generate the kind of power needed to create another Bifrost that lead to Asgard. But she would let her try, let her see this plan through to its inevitable, unsuccessful, end.
The book in front of her was about as helpful as all the others had been. Her plan had been to slip between the worlds once she found where Loki was. The state the last trip had left her in only meant that she had to be damn certain of where she was going because she wasn’t sure she had it in her to make multiple trips. But to open another portal like the Bifrost hadn’t been at the top of her list. So she had nothing else to offer Jane anyway.
As for her own research, it wasn’t entirely at a standstill. Without another sample of Jane’s blood, the bowl would give her no other answers but she did still have access to Jane’s equipment. Looking through one of the telescopes was how she finished most of her nights. Tonight was especially clear, and Sigyn abandoned her book to relocate in front of one of the telescopes.
She hadn’t been looking at the stars for very long when something blue flashed across her vision. It wasn’t big, nothing more than a quick wiggle of blue light between the stars. She ignored it; it was probably something with the lens or she was tired or --
Then she saw it again. And again. A brief ripple that vanished as quickly as it came. Sigyn pulled back and looked up at the night sky. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be seen from the ground. Or maybe it wasn’t happening at all. It was getting late, and her eyes were exhausted.
She rubbed her eyes with the heel of her hands; she had not slept well since she performed the spell. Her dreams were...strange. They were dark and cold and barren. There was always the sense that Loki was near, his breath ghosting along her neck. But whenever she turned around to face him he was gone.
She walked away from the telescope and returned to where she left her book. Hovering and rotating slightly above the table, was a small glass vial. The glass had a touch of iridescence that made it seem to glow in the light, topped with a solid, spherical stopper. The glass itself was imbued with magic, which made it stronger.
Now to convince Jane that she needed enough of her blood to fill it. Because that was going to be an easy task.
Weary, Sigyn draped Loki’s cloak over her shoulders and headed outside, specifically to the roof. Thankfully she was alone tonight. Jane was in the RV, and Darcy had her headphones in as she worked on the computer. Once on the roof, she curled up on one of the lounge chairs Jane kept out there. Loki’s cloak kept the chill in the air at bay, and she wrapped it tighter around herself.
The stars were brighter out here, more so than in Boulder. Her eyes were closing, and she didn’t think she’d mind falling asleep out here.
Whether she was dreaming or not she wasn’t sure. The air was still cool but it felt damp, like there should be mist surrounding her but there wasn’t. On the edge of the roof, perched delicately on the ledge, were two magpies. They were chirping quietly, their heads tilted as they moved side to side. Sigyn eased off the chair and edged towards them so as not to frighten them off, Loki’s cloak still wrapped around her shoulders.
“Hello,” she whispered.
One hopped forward. “Have you found what you’re looking for?” Its voice was high pitched and sounded like glass tinkling.
“No, but thank you for guiding me in the right direction.” They may have a twisted sense of humor but it would be wise not to offend them.
“He is lost and so are you.” She frowned at the echoed words. She hadn’t liked them the first time she heard them and she didn’t like them now.
“But not for long. I will find him again. I swore I would.”
“And if he does not want to be found?” The second one’s voice was different. It still had a glass like quality but it was deeper. Masculine. Familiar. Her lip trembled and she clenched her jaw to stop it as the possibility she’d refused to acknowledge was placed right in front of her.
“Then...then I suppose I’ll just have to keep looking.” Because what other choice did she have now?
The two magpies fell silent again and stared at her. Shiny things. They like shiny things. So she took her earrings out (they had been two dollars at the thrift store so she didn’t mind parting with them) and placed one in front of each magpie. The one with the high pitched voice picked up the earring and flew off. The other one lingered.
“That which you seek may find you.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” she murmured.
“Who’re you talking to?” Sigyn whirled around to see Darcy standing by the stairs, two cups in her hands. The feeling that she was surrounded by an invisible mist vanished. What was left was a prickling feeling of panic. How long had Darcy been there, and how much had she heard?
Glancing to the ledge she saw that the magpie was gone, along with her earring. “Oh, um, nobody.”
Darcy arched an eyebrow and came towards her. “Right I’m just going to assume that’s some Asgardian habit. Here.” She handed her one of the mugs. “I made you tea since you’ve been up here a while and its cold. Then I made one for myself.”
There was a brief moment of silence as they sipped their tea. Then Darcy asked, “Was that Loki’s?”
Sigyn swallowed hard, wondering if Darcy had seen the birds as well. “Pardon?”
“The cape? Was it Loki’s?”
“Oh.” She pulled it a little tighter around her shoulders. “Yes, it was. Or at least one of his. It’s not as though he and Thor only have one cloak.”
Darcy nodded, and there was a thoughtful, silent pause. “Tell me about him.” Sigyn just blinked at her. “You never told me how you two met.”
Discussing the particulars of her relationship with Loki with them had never really come to mind. “You really wish to know about him? About us?”
“Well yeah. I mean it’s nice that you only tell stories about the adventures that he and Thor got up to. I know Jane likes it. But you and Loki? That has got to be one of the craziest love stories ever. Better than any rom-com or Lifetime movie.”
As with most of Darcy’s references, Sigyn had no idea what that meant. She was fidgeting, shifting her weight from side to side. Each detail was carefully chosen; not even Thor knew all their secrets. “He’s... was, ” she corrected. “He was devilishly handsome. And charming; they called him Silver tongue for a reason, and he could always make me smile. Yes, he was wild and a trickster and something of an outcast but he had his moments of absolute sincerity... and you knew he was so much more than all that.” She stopped, her longing to be with him again was making her chest hurt and reveal more about him that she wanted. “We met...ages ago, at some banquet I can’t even remember what it was for. I had admired him for several weeks and...And at this banquet he finally asked me to dance.”
“That’s really sweet.”
She tilted her head. “Were you expecting something different?”
“No! I mean...I don’t know. Given who you both were I guess I was expecting something more...juicy.” Sigyn gave her a blank look. “You know. Risqué. Dangerous. Sexy.”
The laugh bubbled up from her throat and she couldn’t help herself. “Very well,” she said, regaining her composure. If Darcy really wanted a ‘juicy’ story, she could oblige. “Whenever Loki and I were on Vanaheim and we...” Damn, was she blushing? “...we made love outside, the ground would shake. Confused the hell out of Thor and his friends.” That was pretty much common knowledge, at least among their group. She and Loki hadn’t even realized what had happened until they returned to the campsite, disheveled and sated, and Thor mentioned something about the quake. It took the rest of them three more times before Hogun and Sif figured it out. Darcy’s mouth was agape. “Juicy enough for you?” she asked with a smirk.
“Wait, are you serious?”
“I swear on my honor.” Not that her honor was worth much but that didn’t matter to Darcy.
“Wow.” Darcy plopped herself down in one of chairs, squeaking when a bit of tea splashed out of her cup and onto her shirt. “So, this Vanaheim. Is that your other home?”
“You could say that.”
Darcy rolled her eyes. “I thought we agreed no more of this cryptic goddess talk. So what is it like your vacation home or something?”
Sigyn wasn’t about to explain everything about her past to Darcy. “My family...does have a couple homes there.” Homes given to them by the All Father as reward for her father’s role in the Vanir wars but she didn’t feel like giving a history lesson tonight. Darcy was content to just listen to other stories about Loki and Thor and Vanaheim and Asgard.
Jane was not particularly patient, but she never pestered Sigyn to use the bowl. A couple days later, when Darcy went out to the grocery story that she decided to bite the bullet, as the mortals say, and perform the ritual again, even if it wouldn’t help.
“Jane?” she asked, taking one of the headphones out of her ear. Darcy had let her borrow one of her older iPods, filled with random songs. The background was an early 20th century artist’s rendition of Loki eating a roasted heart, or at least that’s what Darcy said. “How much blood would you be willing to sacrifice to find Thor?”
It was blunt question, one that had clearly taken Jane aback if the shocked look on her face was anything to go by. “I...well, not all of it.”
“Of course not.” Sigyn pulled the small vial out of her pack. “Enough to fill this.”
Jane’s eyes grew even wider. “You need that much?”
“Doubtful. I just thought this would be easier than me constantly healing you all the time should I need more. This way, I only have to heal you this once.”
She was still skeptical, not that Sigyn could blame her. They remained like that, gazes locked, until Jane sat next to her and extended her hand. “I hope this is worth it,” she said as Sigyn took out her small knife.
“If you want to move heaven and Earth to find the one you love, be prepared to shed a little blood for the cause.” The blade sank into Jane’s palm, not too deep but enough to draw a significant amount of blood. Then she held her hand over the bottle, letting it drip slowly into the bottle.
“So does this mean you’re going to use the bowl again?”
Sigyn nodded. “Soon, though I’m not sure how you intend to see a whole bunch of stars in something that size.” She paused; something had been bothering her. “When you first confronted me, you said you knew how I was from the bowl. What did you mean?”
“The knot work going around the edge. It’s practically identical to the Bifrost site.”
Sigyn was halfway through her healing spell when Jane’s answer hit her. “Identical?”
“Yeah, at least similar. Hey, finish healing my hand!”
She muttered an apology before finishing the spell, setting the bottle aside and picking up the bowl, running her fingers over the intricate knot work carved into the wood. How could she have not noticed this before? Then again, how many times had they actually looked at markings the Bifrost left behind?
“What is it?” Jane asked.
“I think I have an idea. Take me to the Bifrost site.”
They waited for Darcy to come home, since she probably wanted to see this too. The RV rattled along the dirt road, which only jostled Sigyn’s nerves more. She held the bowl in her lap, her hand squeezing it so hard her knuckles turned white. In her other hand was the vial, the one that Darcy had eyed skeptically when they got into the truck. It was the topic of what she and Jane were discussing in the two front seats. She was in the back, not really listening to them.
In under an hour, the RV pulled up to some desolate patch of desert, light brown and dusty. There were signs that said ‘no trespassing. Government property’ but they walked right by them, Jane saying that technically they worked for the government.
Sigyn had seen plenty of Bifrost sites in her lifetime, and this one was no different than the others. The intricate knot work was burned into the ground, with only minimal damage from wind and elements. Magic radiated from the circle like heat off a fire.
“So what was your plan again?” Darcy asked.
“Use the Bifrost site as an amplifier. We’ll see more of the surrounding stars if we have a bigger canvas...I hope.”
She stepped into the middle of the circle, Darcy and Jane following behind her. Darcy handed her a bottle of water, and she filled the bowl, and then dropped a few drops of blood in, and almost instantly it began swirling. “You two ready?”
Darcy and Jane had their cameras ready and she told them to think of Thor, same as usual. As for her, she had the task of imagining all of Asgard. The golden palace, the surrounding lands, the oceans, the mountains, the night sky.
Her heart pounded wildly in her chest. Doing this level of magic around a Bifrost site had to be a beacon, even if she herself couldn’t be seen. She had a limited time to work, a limited number of times she could do something like this before too much attention was drawn to her.
The magic swirled around them like a vortex. She hummed the old spell and the air smelled of pine again. The world around her was spinning, and she feared what she might see if she opened her eyes. Darcy’s and Jane’s voices were distant, and they moved around her like moons in orbit. When she finally opened her eyes her breath caught in her throat. It was as though as semi-transparent curtain the color of dark blue-violet ink had been drawn around them. Stars were bright points arranged in constellations.
Her hands were shaking. Her stomach felt as though it was being flipped over and over. She was dizzy and tired. And mostly she just prayed that Darcy and Jane would hurry up and take their pictures so she could stop this. A third voice called to her in the distance. It flashed between sad pleading and pained anger. Sigyn. Sigyn please. Stop this. And she wanted to. She wanted to end the spell and collapse in the dirt. But Jane and Darcy were still orbiting around her.
His voice was clear and loud inside her head and all around her, so loud that she feared the others would hear him. It was enough to break her concentration. The sky surrounding them fell, the air cleared, and they were back in the desert. The only sound was her breathing, heavy and shaking.
“What happ-” Jane started to ask when Sigyn’s knees gave out from under her. Water splashed out of the bowl as it clattered to the ground. They were by her side almost instantly. “Are you alright?”
“Please tell me you have everything you need,” she rasped. She was on the edge of tears and so help them if this had all been in vain.
“Yeah, yeah, we got some really great pictures.”
“Good. Because I will not be doing that again.”
The drive back was tortuous, and Sigyn sat in total silence. Jane and Darcy tried to talk to her, even driving through some place for tacos, thinking food would help her. But the smell of ground beef and spices and cheese made her stomach turn. Darcy crawled into the back with her, tried to get her to talk, to eat, to do anything. But her words sounded like she was underwater. All Sigyn could think about was Loki’s voice, and whether she had made things better or worse.
“We pushed her too hard tonight,” Darcy said. Sigyn had fallen asleep in the RV and they decided to leave her there rather than wake her.
“I know.” Jane wasn’t looking at her; she was looking at the pictures she took.
“I’m serious. I want Thor back just as badly as you do, but we can’t keep asking her to do this.”
“We won’t need her to. Look at these.” Jane was scrolling through the pictures on her camera. “We have a completely new star alignment here. I’ll compare them to the stars from when Thor-”
“Jane!” She loved Jane like the older sister she never had, but her priorities . “She’s not in a good place right now and we’re the ones who put her there. We don’t know how much energy or whatever she sacrificed to work that spell tonight.”
Jane put her camera down and nodded. “You’re right. We should check on her.”
They were about to walk out to the RV when Darcy had an idea. She’d seen her curled up with Loki’s cloak on mornings she woke before Sigyn did. If it was a comfort to her, maybe she’d want it now. She grabbed the cloak from Sigyn’s sleeping area and brought it out with them.
Sigyn hadn’t moved from where they’d left her, still curled up in her corner or the RV. Darcy draped the cloak over her like a blanket.
“Think she’ll be alright?” Jane asked, and Darcy honestly had no idea.
When they were children, a travelling festival had come to the town that surrounded the palace. Their father had forbidden them from going, but that hadn’t stopped them from sneaking out disguised as servants. It had been one of Loki’s first disguises, and not a very good one at that, but for children it would suffice.
The town had been more alive than usual. Dancers and musicians performed in the streets for coins. Venders sold inexpensive jewelry and flowers and other crafts. But most importantly there had been games. Some were games of skill and power, others were games of chance. Loki had liked those best. He and Thor had gotten separated and he found himself standing by a woman who shuffled cups with a marble hidden underneath one of them. Loki spent what seemed like hours watching her, watching the cups, until he was certain he knew how to beat her at her own game. Which he did at least twice before Thor found him again, along with several palace guards. Their father had been furious, but those couple hours had been invaluable to Loki learning how to perform tricks. Later his magic.
And now, as his benefactor and that lackey of his put him through trials both emotional and physical to deem if he was ready to lead the Chitauri, he would have to use those skills again. He had to shuffle so many things around, make them follow one train of thought while he moved another out of sight, because he was not going to let them pick him apart entirely. So many cups and marbles to keep shuffling.
Sigyn was only one of the marbles. Reaching out to her had been risky. He shuddered to think what would have happened to her (or to him for that matter) if they had found out he had contacted her. But he would not let her make a target out of herself. Loki didn’t know who he should be angrier with: her for putting herself at risk and or himself for risking everything he planned to protect her.
The ‘trials’ (he knew them for what they really were: torture) had nearby broken him. He’d nearly called for her, for Thor, for their father (no Thor’s father, not his). No, the All Father would not come for him, nor would Thor (Why would they? They’d thrown him into the abyss after all. No use saving something you don’t want). Nor would Sigyn (She must hate him too, and herself for bedding a Jotun).
But Loki had endured and survived that, as he had the pain of falling through that vortex, and had come out stronger for it. And more knowledgeable, for he had seen what the Tessaract was truly capable of. He would not let his ‘benefactor’ touch her. Sigyn was his and his alone.
The Other summoned him, and he obeyed, though in doing so his stomach churned. He was a king and did not like being summoned like a common servant. But he would go along with it for now. He needed the scepter and the Chitauri so he would play the part they wanted.
Loki had seen his benefactor once, maybe twice. Everything else was done through the Other. Now counted as a third time. Not that he could see him well . He sat atop the flight of floating stairs, his face half shrouded in shadow, as always, that obscured his features. The Other was coming down those steps, a bladed scepter in his hands.
“You are ready, Asgardian. The Chitauri are yours.”
His hands curled around the cool metal of the handle and grinned.
The picture that's on Darcy's/Sigyn's iPod http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Loki_finds_Gullveigs_Heart_-_John_Bauer.jpg
I'm sorry this update took so long; this chapter was particularly difficult, especially getting into Loki's head. I'm thinking this story will probably go to the end of the Avengers...which means more chapters than planned :)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Sigyn didn’t emerge from the RV until almost noon, looking like those pictures Darcy had seen in National Geographic about people who wander the desert, shuffling towards them with Loki’s cape still wrapped around her. Both she and Jane were silent as she made her way inside, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat at the table.
Whatever the spell had done to her, Darcy didn’t like it. Dark circles were blooming underneath her eyes, and her whole body seemed weighed down with exhaustion. They tried to talk to her, to ask if she was alright, but each time she just shrugged or nodded.
Jane finally sat across from her, and Sigyn waited a moment before looking up. “I know none of this has been easy for you and I just...I wanted to thank you for everything you’ve done.”
Sigyn managed a small smile. “You’re welcome, Jane.” Content with that answer, Jane went back to the board where she had pinned blown up pictures from last night. Sigyn sipped at her coffee, tapping her nails lightly against the side of the mug.
“Did either of you...hear something? While I was working on the spell, that is.” She was shifting uncomfortably in her seat, and wouldn’t look at either of them.
“I didn’t. What about you Darcy?” Darcy shook her head. “Should we have?”
“Did you hear something?”
Sigyn didn’t answer right away. “That much magic has a cost and it has side effects. It’ll play tricks on you if you’re unprepared for it.”
“If I had known it would do this-”
“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t even know it would react.” She got up and walked back to her little corner where she kept her belongings. Jane took it as a hint to leave her alone, but Darcy couldn’t let it go, so she followed Sigyn.
“You sure you’re alright?” she asked as Sigyn knelt next her mattress. She reminded Darcy of some sort wild animal when an intruder accidentally stumbles into its nest. Her whole body tensed, coiled like a spring that would be sprung at any moment. She should have been nervous, except Darcy was 90% certain that Sigyn wouldn’t bite her.
“I said, I’m fine,” she growled. Make that 75%.
“Look you’re just really on edge and if you need anything or want to talk about it I’m here because it’s not good to keep all that bottled up, you know.”
Sigyn let out a heavy sigh. “I heard voices of those long gone.” The look she gave her only meant one thing: Loki.
“Wait,” Darcy whispered, “Are you hearing ghosts or something?”
“Not ghosts. Just echoed memories.” And damn, if that didn’t break Darcy’s heart a little.
After that it was back to work; Sigyn had pulled out more of her books, Jane was pouring over her new data, and Darcy was just doing whatever she wanted her to do. For hours they were silent, and Darcy was glad for her headphones otherwise she might have gone crazy. The sun started to dip behind the horizon and Darcy felt her stomach growl.
“Time for another break you two.” Jane waved at her dismissively. Sigyn had her headphones in and ignored her all together. Darcy walked over and pulled one of her headphones out. “Come on. I’m starting to get hungry and you two should eat too.”
“I was just going to make myself something here, or run into town and get something quick,” Jane said. “But if you two want to go get something you’re more than welcome to go.”
“Well, that settles it.” Darcy was tired of constantly working all day and then doing nothing at night. She didn’t consider herself a party girl but the dealership could get pretty stagnant at night. “I’m taking Sigyn drinking.”
The bar was noisy, though Sigyn had experienced worse during any of the great feasts hosted in Asgard. And it was dimly lit, save for the neon lights on the walls. After a couple of drinks, Darcy’s cheeks were flushed. She was giddy and her speech rambled from topic to topic.
"This is so not fair. You're not even drunk."
"Immortal, remember? One sip of Asgardian mead and you'd find yourself passed out on the floor."
"Should bring that to my next birthday party," she said. Sigyn sipped at her beer, which tasted pretty bad so she ordered something else that was fruity and bright blue.
She had remained too long on Midgard, too long in the company of Jane and Darcy. She was becoming comfortable with them and each day she spent with them was another day she wasn't looking for Loki. She would have to leave them soon. With a vial of Jane’s blood and a better understanding of the magic at the Bifrost site, she should have an easier time finding him.
One of the young men who had been at the pool table came over and started blatantly flirting with them. And he was doing a poor job of it as well, too drunk to stand or respect personal space. Fandral had better chance with the Valkyries. Despite both of their initial rejections, the oaf was still pestering them, Darcy in particular, trying to buy her a drink.
So Sigyn did something she hadn't done since the last time her and Loki travelled to Vanaheim. As he insisted on placing a bottle in front of Darcy, Sigyn twitched her fingers beneath the bar and the bottle broke as soon as it hit the table, all the beer miraculously splashing only onto him. The bartender apologized and gave him another on the house. And then another. And then another. Each bottle broke on impact, even though he tried to place it as gently as he could. Finally, the bartender, convinced he was doing it on purpose, had him thrown out covered in beer.
"Was that necessary?"
"I have no idea what you’re talking about, Darcy."
"You’re a terrible liar."
"I’m not the god of lies."
“No, you just slept with him and broke Vanaheim.”
Darcy ordered some onion rings that were a little greasy, but crunchy and flavorful, and mozzarella sticks because she believed the grease from the food would counter-act the alcohol. A couple of hours later, Darcy felt sober enough to leave without falling all over the sidewalk (unlike the first night they met, which she pointed out).
It was a short walk back to the dealership, but Sigyn paused as soon they stepped out into the night air. Something was off. The air itself was too cool, and breeze had the faintest scent of metal and ozone. It was electric, and then it was gone, fluttering away in an instant.
“What’s the matter, Lassie?” Darcy asked, and Sigyn realized that she had her nose in the air the same way a dog would during a hunt.
“It’s nothing.” She ignored Darcy’s reference (as she did with all the others she didn’t understand). “Let’s just go back.”
Her fears were confirmed when they returned to the dealership. Three black cars were parked outside. One was a van. The other two were smaller, sleek and gleaming under the lamp lights. She froze where she stood, tensed and ready for fight or flight.
“Huh, I wonder what S.H.I.E.D. is doing here?” Sigyn shot her a questioning look, so Darcy explained further. “That government agency Jane and I technically work for. They’re the only people around here who drive cars like that.”
Sigyn’s stomach twisted into knots. “Will they be a problem?” she asked, trying to calculate how many people could fit into each car, how far apart they were, and how she and they could get out of this situation.
“I don’t know why they wou-” Thankfully, Darcy was sober enough to figure it out. “Oh, right. You and Loki. Gotchya. Just keep to the whole ‘Vicki Anderson’ alias. It’s a common enough name.”
Inside was a small cluster of men in dark suits. The leader was a tall, lean man with thick blond hair, and he was talking to Jane, who looked like she had just woken up herself. Two men in identical suits stopped her and Darcy before they could enter.
“It’s alright, they’re with me. They’re my assistants.” Jane protested, but the two agents still didn’t let them pass. It took them only moments to identify Darcy but they didn’t let either of them pass. Sigyn had to fight the temptation to just push past them.
“I’m sorry, but we only have clearance for Miss Foster. You’ll both have to wait outside.” It was the leader who spoke to her.
“This is bullshit.” Darcy protested.
Sigyn nodded and grabbed Darcy’s arm. “We understand. Come on, Darcy. Let’s go back to the bar.” She practically dragged Darcy around the corner. When she tried to protest again, Sigyn covered her mouth with her hand.
From where she stood, Sigyn could see all her notes, her journal, her bowl, all spread out on the table. “Stay here.” she whispered. It had been a long time since she’d done this, but with a few muttered words she turned herself invisible. It felt strange, like ice cold silk travelling over her skin.
She really wanted to make sure that none of them got into her things, but her curiosity (and concern) was piqued. She walked right past the two agents by the door and lingered in the far corner. Jane looked particularly sour.
“What, exactly, is this all about Agent Harrison?” Jane asked.
“Miss Foster, we need you to transfer to another of our observatories for a consulting position.”
“And where is this observatory located?” She was pinching the bridge of her nose.
“Tromsø.” When she didn’t respond, Harrison added. “In Norway.”
That was a name Sigyn hadn’t heard in quite some time, nor did it leave her with a particularly good feeling.
“In Norway?!” Jane’s voice was high enough Sigyn was surprised glass didn’t shatter. “But all my research and work is here.”
“And you will be well compensated for your time.”
“Oh yeah? How?”
Harrison took a pen and a little notebook out his pocket, scribbled what Sigyn assumed was a number, and then showed it to Jane. She couldn’t see how much it was, but given that Jane’s jaw fell wide open she concluded that it was substantial.
“As I said, you’ll be well compensated. Not to mention you’ll be relocating to one of the top observatories in that country.”
Jane chewed at her lower lip. Whatever amount Harrison offered her was enough to make her reconsider. “What about Darcy and Vicki? Can’t they come too?”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible. This assignment is classified.” She started to object but Harrison continued. “We have a private jet standing by to take you within the hour if you accept.”
Sigyn frowned. Shuttling her off to an obscurely remote location in secrecy with a reward raised all sorts of suspicions.
None of them seemed particularly interested in her belongings so she slipped back outside. She needed to talk to Darcy and Jane without all the agents present. The vehicles were all parked facing the building, their tails pointing towards the desert. As she walked past each one, she placed her hand on the hood and the front lights would turn on. The metal warmed beneath her hand as the engines turned on. Each one went slowly rolling back into the desert with a gentle push.
It didn’t take long before all the agents to come running out after their cars, including Agent Harrison. As Sigyn turned to return inside, her boot turned over a couple of stones. Not as smooth as river pebbles, but about the same size and not entirely jagged.
“What did you do?” She heard Darcy whisper. She scooped up a handful of them, grabbed Darcy’s arm again, and headed inside.
“I hear you’re making a journey,” she said, the invisibility dripping off of her.
Jane practically jumped out of her skin. “Damn it don’t do that! How long have you been there?” she asked. “And are you the reason the cars started moving on their own?”
“Just a little mischief. So, Tromsø?”
“Where?” Darcy asked.
“Norway,” both she and Jane answered.
“Yeah.” Jane looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, but I have to take this. They pay alone...”
The shared look implied that she knew as well as Sigyn did that they didn’t really have much of a choice. “No need to apologize.”
“Have you ever been to this Trom...place?” Darcy asked.
“Not for quite some time. I’d say about...900 years. Once every Asgardian considered a god and then some traveled through the lands we were worshipped in at least once. Tromsø was the farthest north we ever went.”
“900...years ago. How old are you?” Jane asked. The look of recognition said that Jane had never really, truly thought about how old the man she kissed in the desert was.
“Well over a thousand.”
“Do you just…laugh at bartenders when they ask for I.D.?”
“And Thor?” Jane asked.
“He’s closer to fifteen hundred,” Sigyn said impatiently. They didn’t have time for this.
Jane looked shocked for a moment before asking. “What’s it like?”
“I don’t have time to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of immortality with you right now.”
“I was talking about Tromsø.”
Oh…“It’s…pretty. Cold. Right now, it will be bright for most of the day. When I was there last it was mostly small, scattered settlements; it’s probably bigger now. Hopefully.”
Sigyn still had the pebbles in her hand, and she picked two of the best looking ones. “You should finish packing; they’ll be back shortly and probably not in a good mood.”
Jane gave her a curious look but hurried off anyway. Darcy tried asking her something but she shushed her. She closed each hand around a pebble; the spell seeped through her skin into the stones. When she opened them again, each stone had a glowing rune on it. One had the symbol Algiz to ward off evil; the other had Raidho to guide her both in her travels and her search.
In the distance Sigyn could see the cars turn around and start heading back towards them. So much she still needed to tell Jane and so little time to do so.
Jane was practically throwing her clothes into an open suitcase. “Here.” Sigyn held out the stones to her. “Keep these with you at all times.”
“What are they?”
“Runestones. For your protection.” She took them, admired them for a moment, before thanking her and putting them in her jacket. “There’s more. I don’t know what’s in Tromsø anymore or where this observatory is located.” Sigyn hesitated, knowing how crazy this may sound. “There...may still be creatures of legend out there. Trolls, huldas, nøkken. Some of them could have been driven north as the south became more settled. If the area is remote then your chances of running into one go up even further.” Jane looked especially shocked, not that Sigyn could understand why. This is the woman who had kissed the god of thunder, seen the Bifrost centuries after the last mortals had, and allowed the goddess of fidelity to perform all sorts magic to (unbeknownst to her) find Loki. Nothing should surprise her at this point.
“Listen,” she said, placing her hands on Jane’s shoulders. “Just be careful. Do some reading during your journey, but if you see any of these creatures, treat them with respect, but do not make deals with them or go with them. And definitely be wary of any man or horse that comes out of a stream.”
Jane nodded then did something didn’t expect. She hugged her. Sigyn froze then hugged her back lightly. “Thank you, Sigyn.”
Sigyn swallowed hard, suddenly a little uncomfortable. “I hope you find Thor.”
The agents returned shortly thereafter and after Jane declares that she and Darcy were helping her pack, the agents didn’t throw them out. Sigyn observed the agents closely, to see if they take an interest in her or her belongings. Which they didn’t. Unless they were dealing with Jane’s equipment, which she insisted be handled with absolute care, they were practically frantic to get her out of there. When the time came for Jane to leave, she and Darcy were almost teary eyed as they say goodbye. Sigyn had an unexpected and uncomfortable lump in her throat.
Mercifully, the goodbyes were quick. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents whisked Jane away, the black cars disappearing into the night. Sigyn and Darcy were left in the empty dealership.
They gathered the rest of their meager belongings and Darcy drove them twenty five minutes into Santa Fe, where they pulled into an IHOP, since it was the only place still open. Darcy ordered a stack of pancakes and Sigyn ordered an omelet stuffed with bacon and cheese, which she only picked at. Her appetite was gone.
“I can’t believe they just...took her away like that,” Darcy said. Sigyn could, and the whole situation left her feeling uneasy. “Why Norway, though? Seems a little far don’t you think?”
“Isn’t it obvious? Showing up in the middle of the night and whisking her away on a private plane without a choice-”
“They did give her a choice. They paid her well and Jane accepted.”
“Don’t be naive, Darcy.” Sigyn took a bite of her omelet. “That was just to make it look like she went of her own accord. I guarantee if she had refused they would have taken her and her equipment regardless. Think about it. Remote location practically on top of the world, private jet, excessive payment, yet they show up in the middle of the night saying she has to leave right now? They’re hiding her.”
The color drained a little from Darcy’s face. “From what?”
“I don’t know.” Whatever it was, it had to be close. The air practically tasted of magic.
“Oh God, don’t tell me it’s the zombie apocalypse. I haven’t packed my survival kit yet.”
“Pardon?” Sigyn couldn’t tell if Darcy was being sarcastic or not.
“You know...the walking dead?” Sigyn blinked at yet another reference she didn’t get. “Never mind. So what do we do now?”
Sigyn was quiet for a moment. “You should go home, go back to your family.”
“You coming with me? My mom would like you and let you stay with us for a while.”
She shook her head. “I’m afraid this is where we part ways.”
“What? Oh come on. You’re leaving just because you and Jane’s research got put on hold. I’m sure you two can pick up once Jane gets back. She might even have more evidence for you to work with.
No, she had gotten all the information she could from them. And remaining with them too long would bring her to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attention, which she couldn’t have. She still had a vial of Jane’s blood in her bag; it was time she used it to find Loki. And she needed to find him soon. “This has nothing to do with the research,” she said. “This business with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Jane...I don’t like it. For your own safety, it might be best if you and I are separated.”
Sigyn took out two more pebbles and made the same symbols on them she had for Jane, and then handed them to Darcy. “Keep these with you.”
“This is really bad, huh?” she said as she took them.
They finished their meal and Sigyn tried to give her back the iPod, but Darcy insisted that she keep it, saying something about how she had an upgrade anyway. Darcy even agreed to drive her at least part of the way to the Bifrost site, stopping at the closest gas station. While Darcy went inside, Sigyn gathered up all her belongings, checking and double checking to make sure she had everything. When she turned around Darcy was behind her.
“I got you these.” Darcy placed two miniature bags of Doritos in her hands. “For the road.” When Darcy hugged her, she didn’t pull away, rather she hugged her back. “If you get bored or decide it’s safe again, my family lives in Blacksburg. In Virginia.”
Sigyn nodded. She wasn’t sure if she would see Darcy again, and the thought made her a little sad. “Be safe, Darcy.”
Darcy hugged her one more time before getting in her car and driving off, leaving Sigyn alone under the harsh gas station lights. It was still a while until dawn. Sigyn took off running towards the Bifrost site.
Her breathing was ragged by the time she reached it. The air was practically electric and tingled along her skin, and the hairs on her arms stood on end. Something had changed, and she didn’t think standing in the middle of the circle was the wisest idea this time.
Sigyn knelt a few feet away from the circle and went through the spell’s ritual: water in the bowl, followed by a few drops of Jane’s blood, the humming and the bowl raising above her hands. This time it didn’t start to spin slowly. It spun so fast that Sigyn feared the water would spill out of it.
The air smelt of ozone and pine and she was cold. A faint ring of white light formed where the water touched the bowl.
“Loki,” she said, not bothering to whisper; who was around to hear her? “Show me Loki.”
The ring of light turned blue and soon engulfed the whole bowl of water. It was nearly blinding but she refused to look away. There were flashes, and this time she could hear bits of Loki’s voice. “I have it…pull over…”
“Show him to me,” she said through gritted teeth. Hot tears streamed down her face.
The light faded to a soft glow, still blue but less blinding. And there he was. Riding in the back of some truck, a silver case in his hand. It came to a stop and he yelled, “Where are we?”
She shouldn’t have been able to hear the next voice at all, and definitely not as clearly as she did, but a distinctly male voice answered, “New Mexico, sir.”
Those three words made her heart race and a grin split her face. New Mexico. He was in New Mexico.
Then it was gone. The light continued to dim and Sigyn frantically tried to make the bowl spin again. “No no no, come back.” But it didn’t. The bowl settled in her hands and the water went still. She screamed and threw the bowl on the ground. She wanted to cry. She had come this far, come so close, and now he was gone again.
The soil didn’t absorb the water. It beaded and congealed on the surface like quicksilver. Sigyn touched it, and her fingers made a tiny indent but it didn’t separate. So she pressed her hand against the dirt. The earth itself practically hummed with energy, individual veins of magic that flooded her senses. It was the lifeline of the world’s magic. Something had amplified it; she shouldn’t be able to feel some of the veins as strongly as she was.
The water bubble was glowing, a faint light blue that seemed to pulsate in time with the magic in the earth. If Sigyn poked and pressed on it, however, it gave a little but never broke.
Needs more force to break it. Sigyn rose, stuffing everything else back into her bag. With a powerful stomp, she brought her foot down on the bubble. It ruptured and sank into the earth. For half a moment there was nothing but the desert wind and Sigyn feared she had destroyed something valuable.
Then the veins in the earth lit up.
The weaker ones were bright at first but faded the further they stretched from her. The strongest one was a thin, jagged line of pulsating blue light racing into the distance.
She had her path.
Information on the runes mentioned in this chapter can be found here http://www.sunnyway.com/runes/meanings.html The mythical creatures mentioned came from cruising through Wikipedia's pages on Scandinavian folklore. If anything seems glaringly wrong, let me know and I'll do my best to correct it.
Finally, it's THE chapter, the one I know people have been waiting for :)
I listened to I Am Hers, She Is Mine from Game of Thrones season 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkQXZSQqFag) pretty much on repeat while writing this.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Sir, we really should keep moving."
Barton had driven them deep into the desert, where at Loki's order he had pulled over beside a large cluster of rocks. Not the best cover, but for the moment it would do.
"We have time." The dust had kicked up into the air when the truck stopped, and Loki coughed as he breathed it in.
"S.H.I.E.L.D. will be on our tail soon. We shouldn't linger in any one place for too long."
“Then find us someplace to lay low for a while.”
“We’ll need guards should S.H.I.E.L.D. find us again." Barton was looking around anxiously as though Director Fury would materialize out of the desert.
"And I’ll need more scientists to work with me on the Tessaract." Selvig said.
"Then find them.” Loki snapped. Did they expect him to do all the work? “Surely you are competent enough to do that?”
Barton and Selvig looked at each other before Barton pulled out his phone and started making calls. Loki stumbled out of the truck none too gracefully. His legs wobbled, and he clung to the side of the truck. He made sure he was alone before wandering off a ways from them. His arrival had not been a pleasant one, nor had it completely unaffected him. Dizzy, nauseated, and alive with energy and magic, he needed a moment to collect himself. The scepter he left in the truck. It gave off the strangest interference, like broken fingernails clawing at his frayed nerves.
Free of it for the moment, Loki took this brief moment to breathe in the desert air and enjoy the reality of his plan set in motion.
There was a chirp from down by his feet, and then another one. Two magpies were hopping around his feet, looking up at him expectantly.
“Well, I had not thought to find you two here.” During one of his many travels to Midgard, Loki had enchanted two magpies because he could. His father had Hugin and Munin, why shouldn’t he have two birds of his own. Except these two were not Hugin and Munin. Whether these two knew anything or not, they only spoke in cryptic messages. So Loki gave them their freedom. Last he heard they were with the Norns, who found them charming. Odd that they should be back on Midgard.
“She searches for you.” One said, a voice like breaking glass.
Loki didn’t need to be told who ‘she’ was. Just how many knew Sigyn was here? “Where is she?”
“She is lost and so are you.”
“Sir,” Barton said as he came up behind him. “We have a place to go. It’s not far but we need to go now before S.H.I.E.L.D. catches up with us.”
Loki nodded and when he looked back towards the birds they were gone.
Dawn broke over a crater larger than any Sigyn had seen in quite some time. The remains, a building too new to be any sort of ruin, were clustered at the bottom. It was as though the earth itself had split to swallow it whole. Men in dark suits and dark cars circled the damage and kept everyone at bay. Not that there were many people there at this hour. She asked someone nearby as to what happened.
"Don't know. The suits said it was a planned demolition."
The veins had led her here, and for a moment she feared she was too late, that the recovery crew would find the corpse of a tall, unknown man with black hair. Now, everything was silent.
The "suits" looked very much like the agents from the night before. The pieces began to click into place. Whatever happened here had spooked S.H.I.E.L.D. enough to move Jane to the top of the world. She skirted the perimeter, keeping her distance from the agents who probably just assumed she was there to gawk at the damage.
Whatever magic that had drawn her here was diminished. Until she reached a faded, smudged set of tire tracks.
In the bowl, Sigyn had seen Loki riding in the back of a truck. There were tire tracks everywhere from agents and cleanup crews, but only this particular set went deeper into the desert and in the opposite direction than all the others. She wouldn’t risk performing the ritual this close to all these S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and she doubted the magic was strong enough for it to be worth the risk. She had the tire tracks and that would be enough.
Whoever had been driving this truck was clearly skilled at making sure they weren’t followed. She wasted most of the day following the tracks as they meandered and looped and backtracked through the desert.
Barton had indeed brought them to a better hiding spot. Deep underground, it reminded Loki vaguely of the dwarven caves of Nidavellir. And he had the archer’s assurance that S.H.I.E.L.D. would not be able to find them here.
Many of the people Barton had called had not yet arrived; a couple scientists to work alongside Selvig, more guards and mercenaries, which meant more security and weapons.
He had, somewhat reluctantly, handed the Tessaract over to Selvig. He knew, logically, he had to in order for him to work on opening the portal. But after everything he had gone through at the hands of his benefactor and with it being the key to him taking Midgard, he was a touch paranoid about it leaving his possession.
There was a commotion in the other room. Barton was on the radio with one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents he had turned, demanding for more details and locations.
“What is it?”
“We have a visitor.”
His whole body tensed. There weren’t enough of them to fight off anyone underground like this. “Is it S.H.I.E.L.D.?”
“Don’t think so. It’s just one person. Looks like it could possibly be female.” Sigyn. Every fiber of his being was practically screaming that it was her. “Should I have Roberts take them out?”
“No!” He said, harsher than he meant to for he was sure it gave away more than he intended. “No, that won’t be necessary. I will deal with her.”
“She a friend of yours?”
“Just have your men stand down and clear the area.”
“That’s not a good idea, sir.”
If Barton feared him, he didn’t show it. Loki’s voice was calm, but colder than Jotunheim. “I don’t care if it’s not a good idea. You will do as I command. Tell your men to stand down.”
Barton nodded and spoke into the radio, commanding what few people they had back into the base. Loki made sure he was thoroughly disguised before venturing out into the twilight.
The desert was too quiet, the air too still. The sky was a muted violet that bled into an inky black, with only a few stars poking through. Sigyn realized with a startling clarity that she was well and truly lost. Turning back was no longer an option.
In an effort to keep herself calm, and in order to break the deafening silence that surrounded her, she started to sing. Quietly, so as not to attract any unwanted attention (though who would be around her to hear?). It was an old song, one she used to sing when she lived on Vanaheim. She wandered further into the desert, each moment the air growing colder. She had to keep going, had to keep following the tire tracks.
“I haven’t heard that song in a while.”
That voice stopped her in her tracks and silenced her own. A voice not heard for what seemed like a lifetime. Behind her, she could hear the footsteps coming closer. Finally, after several agonizing breathless moments, she worked up enough courage to turn around.
Standing there, dressed all in black leather and smiling that wolfish grin of his, was Loki.
Her breath caught and all she could do was stand there and gape at him. Sigyn realized that she had never planned what she would say to Loki when she found him. In the long stretch of silence between them, his features softened slightly.
Amused, Loki placed his fingers under her chin and gently closed her mouth. That little bit of contact was all she needed to make her voice work. “Loki…”
Something in him shifted again and his gaze narrowed. He yanked his hand back and stepped away. “How did you find me?”
“I used the bowl you gave me all those years ago.”
Now that he was closer she could see how lean he was; all razor sharp angles and dark, sunken eyes. He looked almost feral and snarled as he asked, “Why?” His voice was clipped and it set her on edge. “Have you decided to be a hero and come to slay the monster?”
“Slay the-?” The accusation stung. This wasn’t how she wanted their reunion to go. What were you expecting, Sigyn? “Loki, I thought you were dead. I mourned you to the point of madness. Then I see you alive in this stupid bowl and…and what the Hel else was supposed to do when I found out the man I love is still alive?”
“You’ve wasted your time, Sigyn. Go home.”
She felt as though her knees would turn to water and give out beneath her. “Tell me you wouldn’t have done the same if it were me.”
“No, I wouldn’t have,” he said, his voice like ice and it chilled her to the bone. He showed no emotion when he looked up at her. “I don’t love you.”
Loki had learned long ago that each lie had its own unique flavor. Some were sweet, like the confections of Alfheim. Some had a sourness to them, and others were bitter. He’d developed an appreciation for each nuanced flavor, except for this one.
This particular lie tasted of rancid meat.
Judging by the confused look on Sigyn’s face, it had at least been an effective lie if not vile tasting. “Loki…”
“I don’t love you, Sigyn. I never loved you.” He said quickly, infusing each word with new (albeit false) venom; the faster he spoke the faster he got the taste out of his mouth and would be done with this. “All I ever cared about was what was under your skirts.”
Hate me, he prayed. Hate me and return to Asgard crying about the monster who hurt you.
Tears were already streaming down her cheeks and it made Loki’s stomach turn into knots. “Why are you telling me this?”
“To tell you how utterly stupid you are for coming here!” he screamed. “What foolishness could have possessed you to wander Midgard in search of me? What use could I possibly have for some simpering, lovesick girl following me around like a lapdog? I have more important things to deal with than you!” There was a glimmer of truth to the anger behind the lies. She was in danger just by being here, and Loki wasn’t certain he could keep her safe.
The wind rushing through the desert was the only sound in the otherwise silent void that stretched between them. Loki braced himself for the screaming of ‘I hate you!’, her calling him a monster, crying that she never wanted to see him again, maybe even throwing that bag of hers at his head. Those he could bear. What would twist the knife further into his gut would be the sight of her walking away hating him. But it was for the best and he had prepared for it. He expected it.
It’s for the best.
What he hadn’t expected was for Sigyn to start laughing. Some sort of soft chuckling sound started in her chest before erupting past her lips in a mad, almost cackling laugh.
“Oh, Loki.” She wiped some of her tears away. “I’ve known you too long for you to lie to me.”
A rapidly growing panic shot through him. “I’m not lying to you.”
“Of course you are. You’re the God of Lies.” Sigyn still looked like she was just able to contain herself from bursting into tears. “You contradict yourself.”
Loki frowned and took a menacing step towards her. “You’re delusional.”
“If you truly never loved me, you would not have bothered to seek me out in the middle of the desert to humiliate me. More likely you would have just killed me or left me to die out here.”
Loki moved quickly, his hand flying to her throat. He didn’t squeeze, but he could feel her rabbit’s pulse beneath his fingers. “I still might.”
Sigyn looked up at him, far too calm for his liking. “But you won’t. I know you won’t.”
“You know nothing about me.” This time he gave the slightest squeeze, not enough to impair her breathing, more like a gentle flex of his fingers. He hated the way Sigyn’s eyes widened just the slightest bit in fear. He never wanted to give her reason to fear him.
“Either you were lying to me then, in which case you wouldn’t need to meet me out in the middle of the desert. Or you’re lying to me now to get me to leave. It can’t be both.”
Now that he was close enough, Loki could make out the faintest gold glimmer around her neck. Without removing his one hand from her throat, he gently pulled the necklace out from under her shirt. A treasure long buried and long forgotten.
“Where did you get this?”
“Your…the Queen gave it to me after you fell. She said it was to be your betrothal gift to me.”
“It was,” he whispered. Too many memories he didn’t want or need came back, and Loki dropped the necklace and removed his hand from her throat. “You should not wear it.” Sigyn had the pendant between her fingers. The question was on her lips, but he cut her off. “I will not marry you.” Loki stepped back; he needed to be away from her. “Go back to Asgard.”
In the brief silence that followed, Sigyn’s whole body tensed. Back straightened and shoulders squared, she reminded Loki of a venomous snake ready to strike. “No.” And, oh, there was an edge to her voice he had not heard in ages.
Her fists were clenched at her sides. “Do you have any idea what I had to do to get here? I opened a portal and fell out of the sky. I had to recover from that fall and all the injuries I sustained in a cave, then walk who knows how many miles just to reach anything even remotely close to civilization, went to college, and had to rely on the kindness of mortals, all to follow some cryptic messages in a wooden bowl that I prayed would lead me to you, just to track you to the middle of the fucking desert!”
“All the more reason you should have stayed in Asgard!” The image of her lying broken and bleeding in some remote, desolated patch of land like this fueled his anger. Worse still was the thought of her interacting with the mortals.
“Oh yes, because Asgard was such a wonderful realm,” she sneered. “Few understood my grief and even fewer were sympathetic towards it. Nor did they understand that maybe I didn’t want to celebrate in the usual Asgardian fashion of drinking and feasting myself into a stupor. My parents were even talking about marrying me off to some warrior just weeks after you fell.”
“Because that would have been so terrible for you,” he spat back, with venom in his voice he hoped masked the jealous rage he felt at the thought of her being with another. “Being betrothed to a proper Asgardian.” Loki had always known Sigyn to have a quiet sort of strength, but this was the first time in centuries he’d seen her fight with the ferocity of a cornered bear.
He suspected no one told her about his true parentage. Why else would she so vehemently reject to a new marriage? “I’m a Jotun, Sigyn. Laufey’s son. Stolen and lied to and denied my right to be king. One of the monsters we grew up hearing about. You would rather have that?”
“I know what and who you are, Loki. It changes nothing. You’re not a monster to me.” He snorted at her words and turned away from her.
“So that was it? The people of Asgard didn’t miss their Jotun prince enough and you didn’t want to be married to some berserker with more muscles than brains? For that you put yourself in danger?”
“I was already in danger, Loki.” His blood chilled and his anger left him in one breath as he spun back around. “The Einherjar were following me all the time, there were already whispers that I was involved with whatever you were doing with Jotunheim. It was only a matter of time before I was brought before the All-Father and questioned, or worse. It was your mother who first suggested I leave the palace for my own well-being. I just took it one step farther.”
He was too stunned to correct her that Frigga was not his mother. He had gone to such lengths to keep her out of that plan. He glanced towards the sky as another thought came to him. “Then they’re probably looking for you. Which means Heimdall…”
“Heimdall can’t see me.” Sigyn smiled as she looked down at the necklace again. “I made sure of that.”
Clever Sigyn. He thought as he stepped closer. “I still say you are a fool for coming here.”
“And I still say you were lying about not loving me.” She grinned.
Loki chuckled as he brought his hand to her cheek, and brushed the remnants of her tears away. “I am the God of Lies, after all.” Her presence was soothing, a balm against the irritating effects of the scepter. And deep down, he knew that he had missed her, even when he tried to keep her from his thoughts. “Soon, I will be king of Midgard. And… I will need a queen.” His mouth curved into a wicked grin just as he leaned forward and brought his lips to hers.
Sigyn responded with such eagerness and fire that it nearly threw him off balance. A year apart had left them starved for touch. Arms tangled around each other to grab at clothes and hair, desperate to be closer and to claim more. Even when they needed air, their lips were still barely touching.
“If you ever grab my throat again…” she panted, and Loki didn’t need to hear the rest of her threat to know that she would make him pay dearly. Instead, he whispered promises against her skin as his lips traced along her jaw down to where his hand once had been.
Sigyn had her hand underneath his shoulder armor, trying to tear it free, and he already had one hand pushing up her shirt, when the sound of something flying overhead pulled Loki out of the moment. He looked up, thinking S.H.I.E.L.D. had caught up with them already.
“Loki?” Her hand came up and cupped his cheek. “It’s just a plane. You don’t have to hold on so tight.”
He didn’t even realize that, instinctively, his arm had tightened around her waist. She wasn’t safe anywhere. In Asgard she faced persecution. If he failed, and his benefactor found him, she would be the first to suffer for his failure. Like him, she didn’t have anywhere else.
Sigyn belonged with him.
“We should move this inside, darling.” He tangled his hand through her hair and he couldn’t help stealing another kiss from her. “We have a world to conquer.”
This isn't the final chapter. :) There's at least a couple more, that will go to the end of the Avengers.
Sorry this chapter took so long. Real life, writer's block, constant rewriting of...everything...got in the way.
I used the extended version of this scene because, well, I liked it :)
The first thing Sigyn noticed about Loki’s hideout was a distinct lack of privacy. The place was practically crowded with scientists and mercenaries and guards carrying large guns. The artificial light was harsh and yellow and made a faint buzzing noise she didn’t like. Loki had his arm through hers and kept her close to his side.
Sigyn never saw the man who addressed them. Loki materialized his cape and had it draped around her, covering her line of sight, before she could turn around.
“What is it?”
“Who is she?” She felt Loki tense before the man continued. “Will I need to get an extra protection detail or is she the type that can take care of herself?”
Loki’s arm curled tighter and brought her closer to his chest. “You don’t need to concern yourself with her yet. And we’re not to be disturbed.” Then she was being dragged along some ways before a door closed and Loki dissolved his cape.
“Don’t need to concern yourself with her?” she repeated, giving him a teasing smile.
“Not ready to reveal you to the masses just yet.”
They were in a small room with a cot that would maybe fit the both of them if they were practically lying on top of each other and not much else. The light was dimmer here, most likely due to a dying bulb or two. The only other piece of furniture was a crude table, and atop it was a golden, bladed staff with a glowing blue gem. Sigyn dropped her bag and took a step towards it.
“I wouldn’t touch that,” Loki said, slipping his arm around her waist and pulling her close. His lips brushed her ear and it sent a shiver along her skin.
“What is it?” Whatever it was, it was practically radiating some sort of irritant that scratched just at the edge of her nerves.
As though he could sense how it affected her, or maybe because it had the same effect on him as well, Loki waved his hand and the staff disappeared. “Just my weapon.”
She must have had a dozen questions about that staff --what it did, what made it give off that kind of energy, where he got it—and was just about to ask them when Loki’s lips found her neck.
Suddenly all the questions she wanted to ask didn't seem so important.
She turned around, her arms wrapping around him, and brought her lips to his. Loki's hands roamed eagerly along her hips, her sides, before one made its way to her hair.
"Oh now this is different," he breathed with a smirk. His fingers worked through her hair, breaking the glamour that had turned her hair dark brown. It was an older glamour, and stubborn to remove; it felt like he was lightly tugging on her hair.
"The new color suits you. Just allow me this moment of nostalgia."
The clump of hair she could see in her peripheral was dark blonde, and Loki was grinning.
Until he touched her left cheek.
"What’s this?" Sigyn couldn't speak, didn't have time to before he was removing that glamour as well. She winced; this one was older still and felt like a layer of skin was being ripped away.
Loki's silence was far more unsettling than anything she imagined he could say. She could dissect his lies, his subtle body language and facial expressions, but his silence was still an enigma.
"How did it happen?" He was unhappy. His voice was flat, clipped, and sharp. No, unhappy was a poor word to use. Loki was furious.
She swallowed hard before answering. "When I opened the portal, the other side opened and dropped me out of the sky. This is the only one of my injuries I couldn’t heal properly."
"How many did you have?"
"A few cracked ribs, a dislocated shoulder, some scrapes and bruises." Perhaps if she said it calmly enough, like reading off an ingredient list, he wouldn't worry. “Nothing I couldn’t handle.”
“Foolish girl. You could have been killed." Loki was tracing her scar, from cheek to jawline. The scar tingled where he touched it "You exhausted too much energy on your other injuries before you could get this one. Or this happened inter dimensionally. Either way I can't heal it completely either. Doesn't diminish from your beauty, though."
Loki’s hand was underneath her shirt again, ghosting along her skin. With a sinful look, he had her back pressed against the cool stone wall, his lips to her neck and nipping at all the places he knew would make her sigh and moan. Oh, she had missed this.
“Loki,” she breathed. She ginned, her fingers tangling in his hair, and she pressed her lips to his ear. “My king.”
Those, she knew, were the magic words, and she was rewarded when Loki kissed her with renewed fervor. They clawed at each other’s clothing. Her over-shirt ended up discarded on the ground while she struggled with his armor.
Then Loki went still, his forehead touching hers and breathing hard. “Damn,” he murmured, slamming his fist against the wall. He pulled away and kissed her forehead. “Stay. Here.” She wanted to argue that she wasn’t a dog that could be ordered to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ but he continued. “Just for right now, Sigyn. Stay here.”
The door shut, and locked behind him as he left, leaving Sigyn alone in an unfamiliar, cold stone room.
For several long minutes after his conversation with the Other ended, Loki just sat there, letting the warning sink into his mind.
You think you know pain. You will long for something sweet as pain.
His head still throbbed and he remembered the ‘trials’ they had put him through, to see if he was really worthy to wield that accursed scepter and command the Chitauri. It had been worth it, he’d thought, once he had the Earth. If he failed…
They will peel off her skin and carve her flesh from her bones while you watch. Before doing it to you. Much as he loved her, she was a liability. Away from him, he’d always worry that someone, be it S.H.I.E.L.D., the Chitauri, or his benefactor, would find her, and he couldn’t afford that much of a distraction. Taking her with him would put her right in the thickest part of the danger, but at least he’d know where she was.
“Sir?” Barton said as he approached him. “Selvig’s close to figuring out what he needs to keep a stable portal open.”
The news, coupled with his earlier ‘discussion’ with the Other, had the adrenaline pumping through him. “Let me know when he has something.”
There was more Barton wanted to ask. Loki could tell by the way he hovered for just a second before turning to leave. He wanted to know about Sigyn, be it out of sheer curiosity or because he wanted to know if he needed to reorganize their security. The reality of too many people knowing of her existence was dizzying and he didn’t need this now. He had too many other things to worry about.
Loki dropped the scepter off in the secure area around the Tessaract, it was too much of a distraction, and returned to Sigyn’s room, praying she had listened to him.
Loki didn’t look well when he returned. He barely looked at her as he came through the door. Sigyn knew from experience that bombarding him with questions, even though she was practically bursting with them, would get her nowhere. So she sat cross legged on the bed as Loki picked up her bag and started going through its contents.
The books he treated with reverence, carefully flipping through the first couple of pages before setting them down on the table. Her journal he took more time with but never asked for an explanation to any of its contents.
“Who’s is this?” he asked as he held up the vial of Jane’s blood.
Sigyn picked at the think blanket covering the cot. “Just the blood of a very foolish mortal.” He didn’t need to know about Jane’s involvement. It was a conversation that wouldn’t end well and one that could wait. “It’s been useful though.”
He looked at her for the first time as he held up the little knife she’d brought. “This is your only weapon?” She nodded, and he frowned. “You came to a strange world without any means to defend yourself?”
“You know I’m no warrior.” Sigyn wasn’t a child who needed scolding. And Loki should know her well enough to know that just because she didn’t have a weapon didn’t mean she was powerless. “Besides, it would have been a little obvious, walking around Midgard with a sword. Not to mention being followed sort of makes stealing a weapon from the armory kind of difficult.”
But it was the bowl that really kept his attention. He rotated it in his hands, studying each detail as though he were committing it to memory. “And you were able to find me using only this?” She explained how, sensing that was going to be his next question. The chant, the blood, the vague clues, everything but Jane and Darcy’s involvement. “Then it is clearly more powerful than I thought.” He smiled at her, and for the first time since before Loki’s fall she felt the warm, fluttering feeling in her chest. “And you are quite clever for figuring it out.” He placed the bowl back into the bag. Already lost in thought and staring at the ground, Loki fell into a worrying silence.
“Loki…” she crawled over to him. “My love, what is it?”
“Nothing.” Another lie.
Sigyn glanced towards the door as she heard the pounding of a pair of boots running in the hallway. “Is this rabble is your army? This is how you’ll conquer Midgard?” She knew enough of history to know that a large army did not guarantee victory, and that a small group could bring down whole kingdoms. But this was Loki, her Loki, and she would feel better if he had a whole army greater than the Einherjar at his back.
“Of course not, darling.” He hesitated, then his voice dropped to barely a whisper. “You’ve heard of the Tessaract?”
The Tessaract was a legend among gods, supposedly one of Odin’s post powerful treasures. It had long since been lost to history and myth. Some in Asgard even doubted if it ever really existed.
“Well, yes. Every child in Asgard has. It’s just a legend.”
“You and I both know that legends always have some truth to them.”
The realization slowly crept up on her, slowly curling itself around her chest and squeezing. Loki was serious. The Tessaract was real and it was his. “Then…what the Hel are you doing trying to take Midgard? You could take back Asgard, or Vanaheim, or any of the Nine Realms and you choose--”
Loki was on her with the speed of a predatory cat. His hand clamped over her mouth hard enough that she let out an involuntary whimper.
“Don’t ever suggest such a thing. I have a plan, Sigyn, and I’ve come too far to change it.” He slowly dragged his hand away from her mouth and kissed her lips. “One day, soon, when this fight is over and the earth is mine, I will explain everything.”
Sigyn wasn’t as naïve as people—including Loki at times—believed she was. There was more to this; whatever it was it wasn’t good, and she doubted he would ever tell her the whole truth. She brought her hand to his face and stroked her thumb over the sharp—so much sharper than she remembered—angles of his cheeks.
“You just seem much changed, my love. And I worry about you.”
“Do you?” He smiled, and for half a moment things seemed as they always had been. “Then you are the only one in the Nine Realms that does.”
No, your brother and mother and father did too. They mourned you, Loki. She wanted to correct him, to tell him how rarely Frigga smiled anymore. How Odin held court less often. How Thor made it storm for weeks on end because he was so utterly lost without his brother. The words were on her tongue until she bit it. Centuries ago, she had learned not to intervene in the brothers’ battles. It was their cycle: Thor and Loki would fight, push each other to their limits, reconcile, and then start the cycle over again. This time…this time was just worse than all the others that had come before. Loki would realize that truth one day. And no matter what chaos he wrought until then, Sigyn would not leave him.
“Hmm,” was all she said. Loki seemed to relax a little under her touch. His eyes were half closed and his breathing evened out. Finally, she dared to ask the question that had lingered in the corners of her mind ever since she learned Loki had survived. “What happened after you fell?”
Loki’s mouth tensed, forming a thin, firm line until she brushed her fingertips down along his jaw. “I…experienced a great deal in my exile. I saw the Tessaract’s true power, and I learned what my purpose is. These mortals, they kill each other by the thousands in petty wars. They lack leadership, and I mean to give them that.”
Sigyn couldn’t deny that; she had seen the news reports and footage of the wars and poverty that ravaged all corners of this world. Although she didn’t remember Loki wanting to rule anything. He didn’t until Thor’s banishment.
“Then I suppose it’s a good thing I came here. You’ll need me.”
Loki’s gaze refocused back to her. “Pardon?”
“You’ve forgotten my heritage,” she said with a coy smile. “I do remember a little of my father’s rule of Vanaheim before the All-Father called us back to Asgard. And he made sure to teach us what we were too young to remember.”
“Ah yes, the warlord’s daughter. Who snuck spell books into her history lessons if I remember correctly.” His arm slipped around her waist and pulled her close. “You would be my victory bringer?”
“Why?” There was still a touch of coldness in his voice, like he still didn’t believe that everything she would still risk everything for him. Perhaps he never would.
Because if making you a king keeps you alive then so be it. Loki was too proud to accept that. Sigyn may not have Loki’s innate talent for lying, but she had learned a couple things from him. “Maybe I want to be queen.”
He laughed, low and rumbling, and pulled her into a kiss. A kiss that was quickly deepened as Loki was drawing her into his lap. His hands roamed freely, starting at her thighs and travelling up over hips and sides and arms before one brushed along her cheek and buried itself in her hair. With a soft moan he pulled away, and Sigyn whimpered in protest.
“Later, my love.” He nipped playfully at her neck. “This battle will not be lengthy.”
Reluctantly, she slid off his lap and stood. Something felt different though. In her peripheral vision, her hair looked darker, like it had been since she arrived in New Mexico. Looking down, she found herself in Asgardian clothes: black pants, long green tunic, accented with bits of bronze armor. It all screamed Loki’s.
“Midgaridan clothes don’t suit you.” Loki said, a wicked grin crossing his lips.
Loki led her through the facility, keeping her close to him. To anyone who looked at her too long, he either glared at them until the averted their gaze, or he physically put himself between her and them to block their sight. Most though, ignored her, as she followed Loki to a sectioned off area. At his command, the handful of people there scattered. Loki opened a silver case.
“That, my dear, is the Tessaract,” he said, grinning proudly. “This will bring me the earth, and possibly more. Its powers are…”
“It interferes with the earth’s magic.” The color was the same as the veins of magic that lead her to Loki.
“It…it draws the magic energy in the nearby area towards it. That’s how I was able to find you in the end.” It was, simply put, wondrous to look at, a legend made real. It radiated raw power and flooded all of her senses. Loki deserves this, she thought with sudden clarity. He deserves to be king. Loki’s hand settled on her shoulder and she said, “Just hurry up and take the Earth, Loki.”
“Don’t worry, my love,” he said as he closed the case. “I intend to.”
Sigyn followed Loki away from the Tessaract as a few people started filling back in. He’d fallen into one of his unsettling silences, and it remained until they had ducked into an alcove. She was backed against the wall, Loki’s body flush against hers and his hands gripped firmly—but not painfully—around her arms. “You really wish to help me?” he murmured, his face just mere inches away from hers. She nodded. “Then you will do exactly as I tell you.”
“I mean it, Sigyn.” He held her chin lightly in his fingers and forced her to meet his gaze. “For your safety as much as my own.”
“Sir,” It was the same voice that greeted them when she first arrived. Loki stepped out of the alcove and in front of her, shielding her from the other’s view.
“What is it?”
“Selvig has something.”
“I’ll be there in a moment.” The footsteps faded before Loki looked back to her. “You are to stay out of sight until I tell you otherwise.”
His voice was lower, commanding. This wasn’t Loki speaking as he normally was; this was Loki speaking as the future king. And even if she wanted to argue, that tone stilled her tongue from doing so. She nodded, and as soon as Loki’s back was turned, she let the invisibility spell wash over her. She kept her distance as he spoke with two men near the Tessaract, one of whom she assumed was Selvig.
Even shielded as she was, Sigyn still pressed herself against the nearest wall as Loki rounded the corner with one of the men in tow. “Is that why you failed to kill him?” Judging by the man’s answer, or really his voice, it was the same guy Loki had shielded her from.
“I want you to tell me everything you know about this team of his. I would…test….their mettle. I’m weary of scuttling in shadow. I mean to rule this world, not burrow in it.”
The hairs on Sigyn’s arms raised and she got a sinking feeling in her gut. Loki was best at working in the shadows, at being that voice that manipulates people from the darkness, but now he wanted to abandon his greatest strength to claim Midgard? And then there was this…team the other man spoke of. She didn’t like any of this. Nor did she like how Loki so enthusiastically agreed that what he was doing was a risk.
“If you’re set on making yourself known…might be useful.”
“Tell me what you need.”
“I need a distraction…and an eyeball.”
Loki grinned that half mad grin of is and looked directly at her. “You can come out now, dear.” Sigyn shrugged off the invisibility spell off and materialized a veil to go over the lower half of her face. If Loki was insistent on keeping her identity secret, she would at least stick to that. The other man looked straight at her as she stepped out from her hiding spot.
“Who is she?”
As soon as she was close enough, Loki griped her hand tight. “She’s…” Loki was struggling with what to call her. Wife? But they weren’t married, not officially. Lover? That wasn’t any of this man’s business. Her name was off limits as well. “She’s my companion.” Sigyn smiled beneath her veil.
“She’s coming with us, then?”
“Then we better get moving. If we’re going to get this stuff, we need to leave soon.”
The staff materialized in Loki’s hand, and the small bag with her belongings appeared in hers. With it came a sudden, cool clarity. This was real. This wasn’t one of Loki’s schemes that he started, made preparations for, and then abandoned out of boredom or on whim. They were going to war. “Where is this iridium?”
“Germany. Stuttgart to be exact.”
Loki looked over at her, smiled and squeezed her hand. “Darling, I think it’s time we have a proper celebration of our reunion.”
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The jet gave a rocky lurch, and Sigyn gripped the sides of her seat, her stomach flipping over and turning itself into knots. The veil still covering most of her face was a blessing, as it shielded her obvious discomfort from the others. She would not allow herself to look weak.
Loki sat beside her as Barton explained each of these so called Avengers in great detail. The man from another time. A billionaire genius with a suit of armor. The man whose experiments on himself went horribly wrong. A woman with a dark past. S.H.I.E.L.D., which she was already familiar with, and their flying fortress, the Helicarrier. It seemed Midgard had no shortage of champions, a fact which did nothing to ease her tension.
“This…Captain Rogers? You’re certain he’ll be the first they send?” Loki asked, and Sigyn could practically see the wheels turning in his head.
“Most likely. Even after being frozen for seventy years, he’s still the strongest person working for S.H.I.E.L.D.”
“And the others? Stark and Agent Romanoff?”
“Stark doesn’t follow orders well; he’ll show up if he wants to. I’m not even sure Fury will call him in right away. Agent Romanoff,” he paused, and there it was. That slight pause gave him away; of all the people Barton mentioned, this Romanoff was the only one with whom he had a history. She smirked beneath the veil. “She could be there as well, if she’s back by then.”
If Loki caught the look that crossed Barton’s face he made no mention of it. There was only one member of this group that worried Sigyn. “What about this Dr. Banner? And his…other form?” she asked, keeping her voice calm and regal, and her gaze focused on Barton even though she could feel Loki’s on her.
“Natasha will have to bring him in from Calcutta; there’s no way he could be here by now. Nor would they risk putting him in such a populated area after the Harlem incident. No, you’ll most likely face Rogers.”
“And do you think this mongrel group stands any chance against me, or my army?” Loki asked.
“It’s possible. Though, they’ve never met before, and their personalities don’t exactly make for good teamwork.”
There was one more person no one had mentioned; it left a gaping void that seemed to encompass the entire jet. Thor. But Thor would not be a problem, they knew, unless the Bifrost had been repaired or the All-Father found a way to get Thor to Earth somehow. Not impossible, but unlikely. At least that’s what Sigyn kept telling herself.
Loki had this thumb lightly between his teeth, as he often did when he was formulating one of his plans. The silence stretched throughout the jet in long, tense cords, and Sigyn didn’t dare to breath too loud for fear of disturbing them. Every so often she could feel Barton’s gaze linger on her for a moment, as though he was trying to calculate what effects her sudden addition to this group would bring. Or perhaps he was merely curious about the strange, lone girl beside the god of chaos.
“I’m going to let them capture me.” Loki finally said, and Sigyn’s head whipped around so fast she felt the muscles strain.
“Are you sure that’s wise?” she asked.
“Whoever said I was wise?” he said with that smirk of his that offered her little comfort.
“Your companion’s right,” Barton said. “I know I said it would be useful to make yourself known but-”
“If Fury is gathering these…Avengers…then I will need to break them, turn them against each other. I can defeat them on their own, and could if they were together but it will take longer than I need.” He paused, putting the fine point details onto the larger plan. “If they are as volatile as you suggest, all it would take is a little push to bring them crashing down. And Banner will do nicely for that.”
Sigyn wanted to grab Loki by the jacket collar and shake him, screaming ‘Are you crazy?’ Loki was a more than capable warrior and master sorcerer, but the thought of him willingly getting captured by the enemy still made her feel ill. Even if she could respect the plan on a logistical level. “Am…I to go with you as well?”
“No!” Loki said, louder than he probably meant to but it was loud enough to make Barton and several of the other mercenaries look up. “No, you will go to with Barton.” That made her heart sink; she had just been reunited with him and now they were to be apart again. As though he could read her thoughts, he leaned in closer and whispered in a voice only she could hear, “We will only be parted for a short while. Then I will make up for all the time we’ve spent apart.”
Sigyn wanted to believe him, and perhaps he wanted to believe himself as well, and she pushed down the nagging feeling that this wasn’t a good idea, and nodded. Barton’s displeasure was silent but obvious, his brow furrowed and deep lines set into his forehead.
He and Loki hammered out the specifics of his plan during the rest of the flight. Loki would cause a distraction and get ‘captured’, and during his imprisonment would slowly pick apart these Avengers and turn them against each other. Barton would then ‘rescue’ (though Loki said that would as though the very taste of it was bitter), him, which would be the final blow to the group.
The rendezvous point was another matter. “Selvig said we need someplace with enough power to run the Tessaract,” Loki said.
“The only place can think of short of a nuclear reactor plant that can generate that much power is Stark Tower.”
“If you take down Stark, his tower would be defenseless,” Sigyn offered. Jane liked to turn the news on when Darcy (who found all of it rather boring) wasn’t around, and there had been some big story that construction on the tower was nearly complete. That…and surely the mortals had more security around their power sources than one man had around some tower.
Loki seemed to be following her train of thought. “Defeat him, and then summon my army on top of the ostentatious symbol he chose to represent himself. It’s…perfect,” and his mouth twisted into a lupine grin that sent shivers down his spine.
“Stark Tower has advantages a reactor doesn’t, height being one of them,” Barton added, and it was settled. Selvig would be directed towards New York, once Barton had the Iridium he would drop it and Sigyn off with Selvig before retrieving Loki from S.H.I.E.L.D. and returning to Stark Tower. It was as solid of a plan as any, but nonetheless Sigyn’s stomach still felt as though it was twisted in knots.
The jet finally landed in Germany, and Loki pulled her away from the prying eyes of Barton and the rest of the men. “You will do exactly as I say, understand? When I tell you to stay out of sight or to run, you do so. No questions, no arguing.”
“I’m not a child, Loki,” she said, suddenly irritated. “I know what’s at stake.”
“Yet, you’re also stubborn and a touch foolish,” he said. He pulled something out of his jacket, and pressed it into her palm. It was flat and sharp and cold. Looking down, she saw that it was one of his throwing knives. When her thumb ran over the flat edge, the knife fanned out into five separate knives, each one just a sliver of metal.
“I was right. Too foolish to bring a proper weapon to a strange realm and too stubborn to accept one when it’s given.”
“You need it more than I do.”
Loki smiled at her, like one would smile at a precocious child, and Sigyn wanted to smack him for it. “I have the staff, and can make more of these knives as needed. You came here with naught but a knife hardly sharp enough to cut bread much less flesh. You need this.” He finished by closing her hand around the knife’s handle. “As you are armed only with a pretty face.”
“This pretty face disarmed you once or twice,” she quipped, and Loki smiled as he pulled the veil from her face.
“Your concern for me is touching, but there is no need for it. The mortals are nothing, and even their champions won’t be able to stand against me.” He leaned in and kissed her deeply. When he pulled back, his jacket and armor glimmered around the edges and morphed into a sharp, black suit, and she in a gown of forest green. The only accessory was the pendant she wore around her neck. “Now, let us enjoy a few moments of luxury before parting.”
Stuttgart had changed quite a lot since Sigyn was there last. The rural landscape gave way to modern roads and architecture. Instead of the horse farms the area was known for, there were factories where cars were built instead. But beneath all the modernity, beneath all the concrete and steel and plaster, were the echoes of magic long forgotten but not gone completely, from a time when the mortals of the area worshipped some Asgardians along with their local gods. This, unlike New Mexico, was familiar ground, and Sigyn let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.
They didn’t have much—well, hardly any—time, but Loki still took a little time to walk them around the area surrounding the museum. Loki would kiss her hand, the inside of her wrist, the corner of her mouth, and Sigyn would in turn rise up on her tip toes to place a kiss on his jaw or his lips if she could catch him off guard. For a few brief moments, she forgot that soon he would be gone again. But, every so often they would pass by something that resembled a camera, and months of avoidance would make her shy away from it, while Loki would practically smile into it.
“Must let these Avengers know where to find me,” he said, grinning that mad grin of his. Slipping his arm through hers, he led them in the direction of the museum. Some selfish part of her wanted to rebel, to dig her heels into the stone walkway, and refuse to let him go after everything she had done to find him.
“I wish you would let me go with you,” was all she said, quietly, with her head high and gaze fixed on the museum a head of her. Loki had set his mind to this, and he had made it perfectly clear there was talking him out of it. And she would absolutely not throw a tantrum because she was worried. Terrified. “I could be of use, you know. Invisibility and walking in the shadows and all.”
Loki frowned and shook his head. “And put you in harm’s way? You’re foolish to think I would do that. Besides, I need someone with the Tessaract whom I can trust.”
“What about Selvig and Barton?”
“Controlled by this,” he said, holding up his staff which had been transformed into a very fashionable cane. “Some are controlled, others are just S.H.I.E.L.D.’s enemies that Barton could find. I would feel better if you were there.”
The thought that Loki actually needed her, that he wasn’t just sending her away because he believed she would get in the way, eased her nerves and some of the tension left her body. “Then I will guard it as carefully as the Dwarves guard their crafting secrets.”
He grinned and pressed his lips to her temple. “I know you will.”
The main gallery of the museum was packed with people, and in the center stood an altar of sorts, ancient and still carrying trace amounts of magic since its last ritual. A small band was playing in the corner, the sound vibrating off the stone wall. She followed him to the second floor, where they looked out over the crowd from a secluded place.
“When the time comes,” he murmured, his breath cool against her ear. His arm was slipped around her waist and he held her close. “You will slip away in the commotion and meet up again with Agent Barton. He has orders not to leave without you.”
Sigyn wondered why Loki didn’t just leave her at the jet, or had her accompany Barton to begin with. After all, her skills would have been useful to break in and steal a rock. The only reason she could come up with, given how Loki was practically walking her through each step of his plan, was that he wanted her to see this.
“Just come back, and come back victorious,” she said, turning in his arms, grabbing him by his scarf and bringing their lips together in a deep kiss. Loki responded eagerly, wrapping his arms tightly around her and practically picked her up.
“Fear not, beloved, this won’t take long,” he said, kissing her again. The band started playing a new song and Loki pulled away from her, his gaze distant as though he was calculating something. “I do believe Barton’s almost ready.” He hesitated for a moment as though he was going to say more but for once his silver tongue was silent. His cool fingers traced her cheek and down the line of her jaw, and he gave her a wink that she nearly missed before he turned away.
Loki descended on the gallery, swiftly and silently as the winds of Jotunheim. The crack of his can as it came in contact with the guard’s jaw silenced whatever song the band was playing, the only melody was the soft gasps and murmurs of the stunned patrons below. In a few short strides, Loki had dragged his prey to the altar and flipped him onto it.
Loki always did have a penchant for the dramatic.
All of this felt…off. What shook Sigyn wasn’t the claw-like instrument Loki pulled out, the coldness with which he plunged it into the man’s eye, nor was it even the look of pure, maniacal glee on his face as the crowd broke apart into screams; she had seen Loki be cruel before, though not with her. No, it was that there even was a crowd, that Loki materialized his armor while there were still people fleeing.
I am weary of scuttling in shadow. Loki’s words were still freshly branded in her memory, and she shook off the shiver of dread that went down her spine at the thought.
The dress Loki had her wear was ridiculous: too long in length, too tight around her hips, and low cut in the back. With a flick of her wrist, she changed her clothes into something more practical: black jeans, a simple black shirt, and a black jacket with a hood similar to the one she had seen Darcy admiring on her computer. Sigyn darted down the steps, careful not to look at the guard or the scientist lying discarded on the ground and altar, and out into the open air just as she heard sirens coming…and Loki blasting one of the cars away.
She should be gone by now, meeting with agent Barton, but her feet were rooted to the ground, though his shout nearly sent her running. She lingered through his speech despite her better judgment. Loki raised his staff toward an elderly man…and was promptly knocked off guard by a man in blue and red and white. Rogers. The throwing knives were cool and lightweight in her hand, and she itched to throw one at him except that her aim was not nearly as true as Loki’s, and she had another task.
Running wasn’t an option yet. The crowd remained on their knees, watching and if she ran now she risked being caught. Her break came from the roar of the jet overhead, a woman’s voice booming through the speakers and the lowering of a gun. Loki fired, and the crowd separated into screams and the pounding of feet on concrete. This was her chance. With one more glance back at Loki just as he swung his staff at Rodgers, Sigyn turned and ran, melding into the fleeing crowd. Another whoosh and a bright flash from above brought with it a song she’d never heard the likes of before in any realm until she met Darcy. “Shoot to thrill…” She nearly turned back around except she’d be of no use against whoever it was, and Loki needed her to guard the Tessaract. So she ran until her legs burned, and then ran even faster, praying that the blast she heard hadn’t been aimed at Loki.
The jet was hidden not far from where Barton and his men had stolen the Iridium. Not bothering to materialize a veil, Sigyn pulled the hood up so that it covered her eyes. The guard waiting outside the jet stepped aside to let her on before the ramp came up. Barton was sitting in one of the seats, a hunk of shiny, pewter colored metal suspended in a glass tube beside him. “Did everything go as planned?” he asked.
Sigyn nodded. “Loki encountered Rodgers, just as you said.” She quickly detailed the fight, including the strange craft that moved fast than she could see and the song it brought with it.
“That was probably Stark. Seems they went all out to bring your companion in.”
“You don’t seem very concerned about it.” Barton was too calm, while Sigyn’s heart felt like it was pounding in her chest.
“My job is not to be concerned. He knew the risks, and still planned it this way. My job now is to bring him back.”
Sigyn took a deep, calming breath and sat in one of the seats opposite him as the jet lifted off the ground. “I take it that this…diversion wasn’t in vain?” she asked, sitting a little straighter.
He held up the tube before handing it to her “See for yourself.” Sigyn rotated the tube in her hand; it was heavier than she expected, so she held it in her lap. Several sets of eyes were on her, including Barton’s, and she wondered just how fast this jet could get her to her destination.
“Do I get to know who you are?” he finally asked. “Really.”
“Nobody. I am nobody.”
“Yet, you keep your identity hidden and clearly have Loki’s protection. Not exactly the marks of a nobody.”
“He already told you; I’m his companion. You don’t need more than that.”
The rest of the flight passed in relative silence. Sigyn tried not to fidget, to keep some sort of regal composure. But what she really wanted to do was crawl out of her skin. All she could think of was Loki in captivity, her mind conjuring all sorts of images for her beloved’s imprisonment.
“What will happen to him,” she finally asked, not liking the faint quiver in her voice, “While he’s in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s custody.”
“Hard to say,” Barton answered, not looking up from his arrows, which he was meticulously cleaning. “Probably try to get information out of him.”
“How?” She already knew the answer, but needed to hear it anyway in hopes the specifics would keep her imagination from running wild.
He paused. “By whatever means Fury deems necessary.”
Torture. Sigyn swallowed hard, dangerously close to vomiting. The jet gave a soft thud as it landed. She rose, cradling the tube under her arm.
“Agent Barton,” Her voice carried just enough bite to make him stop arranging his arrowheads in his quiver and look up at her. “Make sure he comes back in one piece. Or you will be answering to me.”
“Pretty big words coming from a nobody.”
With her free hand, Sigyn carefully pushed the hood back enough so that her face was visible. In a streak of cruelty that must have been a gift from Loki, she answered, “For every wound he receives, I will create its twin on someone dear to you.” Barton’s face was blank and uncaring, a result of the scepter’s influence, and Sigyn’s fear and frustration twisted her face into a snarl. “Or perhaps I’ll do the same to you. I would keep that in mind.”
Cradling the tube in her arms, she didn’t look back as she left the jet, not until it had pulled up the ramp and was lifting off the ground. She allowed herself a moment to watch as it ascended into the night sky. “Bring him back to me,” she whispered, before walking towards the waiting van.
Sorry this chapter took so long to update. Between the holidays, applying to grad school, and sickness it's just taken me longer to get this one done. I'm hoping the next chapters won't take as long. *coughcough* might also add a steamy scene next chapter don't know yet *cough cough*
*shuffles feet* I apologize for this chapter being so late. This chapter went through what felt like a dozen rewrites and real life got in the way a bit...
The footsteps were so quiet Loki barely heard them over his own. Soft—definitely not his brother’s; he’d know those great, lumbering steps anywhere—and unassuming. Not the steps of a leader, which ruled out Fury and Rogers and even that insufferable egoist Tony Stark. Which left…Sigyn wasn’t foolish enough to follow him again, was she? No, he knew the tempo and rhythm of her walk, and this was off too, much to his relief.
“There’s not many people who could sneak up on me.”
And so Agent Romanoff had come sooner than expected, not asking him about his plan, his army, or the location of the Tessaract. She came asking about only one thing, one man: Barton.
“Is this love, Agent Romanoff?”
“Love is for children; I owe him a debt.”
Love and debts were not so dissimilar. Both bound two souls together and could not be shaken off, broken, or forgotten—whether one wished it or not.
Loki had expected lies from Agent Romanoff, but the tale she told rang true with the one Barton told him. Hers was a life debt, and he didn’t envy her. “And what will you do if I vow to spare him?”
“Not let you out.”
“No, but I like this.” He leaned forward, grinning at her. “Your world in the balance and you bargain for one man?” Was there not a more perfectly encompassing definition of love? To do the foolish and the unspeakable for one person?
Naïve, that was the only word that came to mind in regards to her, naïve to think that one good deed born of love would cleanse everything she’d done. “Your ledger is dripping, it’s gushing red and you think saving a man no more virtuous than yourself will change anything.” And your death came by the son of Odin. “This is the basest sentimentality; this is a child at prayer. Pathetic!” Do the frost giants still live.? “You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers.” You are ready, Asgardian. “You pretend to be separate, to have your own code, something that makes up for the horrors.” No, you took me for a purpose. “But they are a part of you. And they will never go away.” Laufeyson…
For that half a second, Loki felt his chest tighten. Too close, he’d dug too deep without realizing it. There was too much familiarity in his speech, like looking at his reflection in rippling water. Sudden vulnerability didn’t suit him, and Loki followed his instinct and lashed out.
He didn’t have to dig as deep for his weapon as he slammed his fist into the glass, quite satisfied with the way she jumped. “I won’t touch Barton, not until I make him kill you.” Sigyn’s screams are muted, as though she were screaming underwater. He can see her but doesn’t react. “Slowly. Intimately. In every way he knows you fear.” There’s fire and sharp tools, but everything is a dull shade of grey-blue, and he simply does not care. “And then he’ll wake just long enough to see his good work, and when he screams I’ll split his skull.” It is not until color and sound return to the world that he realizes what he’s done. Her eyes are cold and his hands are painted crimson with her blood. And when he screams there is laughter in the distance. “This is my bargain, you mewling quim!”
It was an oddly cathartic feeling to project and twist his own fears onto her. He was leaning against the glass, flecked with some of his spittle, and panting. Cathartic. Liberating. She had her back to him, and he relished the way her voice quivered when she called him a monster.
The monster parents tell their children about at night.
On rare occasions, his tongue spoke before his mind had the chance to choose the right words for it, and now was just such an occasion. “Oh no, you’ve brought the monster.”
Loki barely processed what had happened before Romanoff was calling the others together, and had the audacity to thank him before leaving, with him snarling after her like a feral beast in a cage.
The van was silent as they made their way towards New York. Selvig had asked for quiet while he worked, so the only other sounds were the hum of the engine and tires rolling across the pavement.
Relaxing was nearly impossible. Sigyn was surrounded by strangers, the only vaguely familiar face was Selvig’s, and even that was only because of the picture Darcy and Jane kept of the three of them, while a man she barely knew and trusted even less was rescuing her beloved. Her nausea was worse and her hands were shaking, but she remained in her seat, arms resting on her knees and fingers laced so tightly together her knuckles were white.
By the time they reached New York, it was still early morning. The sun was just starting to peek over the buildings. Sigyn wished for a few hours of darkness but this would have to do.
The side entrance they found was locked but one of the mercenaries hacked into it with some sort of device. Everything was too quiet; Sigyn expected there to be more guards but instead this particular hallway was empty.
“Bring the truck,” she whispered.
“Don’t have to take orders from you.”
He tried to push past her, but despite not having Thor’s brute strength, or Sif’s for that matter, but she was still an Asgardian and she put her hand on the door frame and was able to keep him from passing.
“You will do as I say. Have someone bring the van. The rest of you keep watch while I find the nearest elevator.” Before he had time to argue with her, she let the cool, liquid feel of invisibility wash over her, and gave a pleased grin at the slight raise of his eyebrows.
Fortune was on their side; the service elevator wasn’t far, and looked large enough for all of the equipment, plus her and Selvig. When she returned, the van was pulled up to the door, back doors open and they were already pulling it out. As soon as it was ready and onto a cart, she pressed her hand to it. The invisibility slid off her and enveloped the device and the cart it sat upon. Keeping the spell on both of them would drain her of too much energy and require too much concentration for her to do anything else.
The whole time her stomach was in knots. Everything was too easy, and she expected a guard to turn the corner at any moment and find them. Yet she, Selvig, two other scientists and a couple of the mercenaries were able to get the device and the Tessaract to the elevator without anyone stopping them. Getting the device to the very top of the building couldn’t be done by elevator, so she dropped the invisibility and made the strongest mercenaries carry them up several flights of stairs, while she, Selvig, and the other scientists followed behind.
Setting up the device was for Selvig and the scientists, as they were the only ones with any knowledge as to how the thing worked. The ease of this mission gnawed on the edges of her concentration, taking over until all she could think about was the ‘what if’.
“Come on,” she said to the mercenaries. “Go make sure this building is secure. Report back to me when it’s done.”
Most of the floors directly below the roof were what Sigyn assumed were Stark’s personal living quarters. None of it was of particular interest to her, so she kept going down, stopping in the living room. The sound of her boots on the slate floor reverberated off the walls, and there was a chill in the air that bit through her jacket.
The whole of New York City could be seen from the window. It was entirely too calm, both out in the city and in the apartment. Sigyn wondered if this was what her father talked about in all his stories about the war: the calm on the eve of battle. Terror and excitement mixed together and tingled at the edges of her senses. This would be her first battle, and she took a deep breath to stop the feeling that her insides were shaking.
She pressed her hand to the glass and looked down at the streets below, trying to imagine the battle that would sweep through them. Would it be quiet, without much of a fight, or would it end in fires blazing and screams and blood? Would it be drawn out, lasting for weeks or months or years? Or end in a single blinding flash? And just how big was Loki’s army anyway?
She thought of Jane, safe in the far reaches of Norway, and of Darcy, safe in…somewhere that was at least far away from this place. When this was all over and Loki was king (and when she was queen, and she was still becoming accustomed to that thought), she would find them and place them under her protection. They had done her a kindness, provided her shelter and aided her in getting here. She would honor her debt and ensure their safety.
Sometime later, her communicator gave off several beeps, and the mercenary’s voice came through. The building was secure. The silence that followed was maddening. It was reminiscent of a cave she explored when she was a girl, only now it felt like she was waiting for the bear to come back and find her in its home.
Too much quiet, and Sigyn didn’t like waiting. Her bag laid forgotten in one of the chairs, and in it her bowl. She had not used it since she found Loki, too occupied with everything, but now, standing in the proverbial lion’s den, the temptation to use it was too great. She needed reassurance of the battle’s outcome.
She filled the bowl with water from the nearby sink, and pricked her finger with Loki’s dagger, letting the droplets of blood drip into the water. It spun in her hands, as it always did, but slower than usual. Show me Loki’s fate at battle’s end.
The blood darkened and turned an odd shade of green, billowed out and clouded the water. Fine, dark lines started reaching out from the center, spreading the way cracks appear in shattered glass. The cracks continued to spread before convalescing into the shape of an eagle, black as one of Odin’s ravens, before it started to fade.
“No, no, no,” she said through clenched teeth, willing the image to return, to show her more. “Please. That can’t be it. Please.” The more she pleaded the faster the image faded until it was nothing more than a few drops of blood swirled through the water. “Damn it!”
Perhaps it was too much to hope for that the bowl would give her any sort of easily understandable answer. It had taken her hours of research before to make any sort of sense, hours she didn’t have. It wasn’t until…
Sigyn rushed over and grabbed the vial of Jane’s blood from her bag but stopped just before she poured some of it into the water. Cryptic clues were frustrating, but if really did show her the future…what if it was one she didn’t want to see? If it showed her Loki’s death now…
“Trying to divine the battle’s outcome?”
Loki was standing by the fireplace, a bemused smile on his face, and Sigyn had no idea how long he’d been standing there. She swallowed hard before answering. “There’s no point. It’s being more cryptic than usual.”
He walked over to her just as she shoved the empty bowl and vial of blood into her bag. His arm wound around her waist and pulled her flush against him. “It doesn’t matter what it says. Victory, my love, is imminent.”
Sigyn’s fingers carded through his hair, tilting her head back to bare more of her neck to him. Much was made about Loki’s silver tongue—which was soothing over sensitive, bitten skin—but his hands were just as clever, having already slipped under her shirt and teasing the skin along her waist.
“Would that we had enough time to celebrate,” he breathed.
“Celebrate?” The battle hadn’t even started yet.
“The Avengers are scattered…the Helicarrier is falling into the ocean as we speak. That alone is reason enough to celebrate. But,” he kissed her again. “I have a feeling we won’t be alone for long.”
Each second brought the battle closer, and her insides felt like they were shaking again. Not feeling any better about all of this, Sigyn grabbed him by his jacket collar and kissed him hard and deep. “You will return.” It wasn’t a question, but a command.
“I will return a king,” he said, and this time she smiled. Even though she only felt a little more at ease.
Loki’s gaze was focused on the distance. “What is it?”
“We have company.” If she looked hard enough, there was a bright spot in the sky and it was coming closer. “Go, find someplace safe. I should greet our guest.”
Someplace safe was one floor up, in a sparsely finished guest bedroom that offered and excellent view of the level below, where she could see Loki waiting.
Stark landed on a platform that took him inside and Loki followed, the both of them disappearing inside. The bear had returned to its cave, and Sigyn felt sick to her stomach.
She should wait, should stay right where she is until it was safe, but Sigyn hadn’t been very good at doing what she should so why start now? She crept out of her room and lingered at the top of the steps. Stark and Loki’s conversation could be heard, though what they were saying remained muffled, and she was scarcely breathed lest she be heard as well.
It was the sound of glass breaking that had her down the steps and powerful sound of a blast that stopped her. Peeking around a corner, she saw Loki picking himself up off the ground as Stark flew higher.
“Loki!” she whispered, and he whipped around to face her.
“Stay hidden! No matter what you hear don’t come out until the battle is won.” Then he was gone, walking towards the same platform Stark had been on minutes ago. With no other choice she ran back up to the room.
The window offered her a grand view of the city, but it also gave her the first look at Loki’s army. Creatures she couldn’t identify descended from the sky on golden vehicles, but she couldn’t see anything like a ship that was holding them. Approaching the window, and praying that his army didn’t see her and fire on her, she craned her head up to see the portal opening above New York City, a gaping wound of black and blue and purple.
There was another thud below and Sigyn let out a small scream that she quickly covered with her hand when she saw Thor.
Thor pulled the knife out of him and chucked it aside. For but a moment, he was certain he had gotten through to his brother, that they would fight on the same side once more. But that was gone, and he looked out at the army wreaking havoc on the city, still trying to grasp that his brother had started all of this.
"Thor!" That voice was one not heard in over a year but not one forgotten. He’d hoped he was imagining it but when he turned around he saw Sigyn running down the platform Loki had just been standing on, and his heart sank.
"Sigyn?" She should be in Asgard, in her self-imposed exile. All that time he spent combing through Asgard’s forests, worried for her when no word or trace of her appeared for months...and here she was. There were too many questions he wanted to ask and too little time. "What are you doing here?"
She leapt off the platform and landed in front of him, and at first he thought it was another of his brother’s tricks, to keep him distracted. She was real, though. He could feel it in the way she gripped his arm. "Thor...brother please...stop this."
"I'm not sure how; he won't listen to reason. Maybe if you could talk to him."
"No!" Her hand squeezed tighter around his arm. "Call off your attack."
Thor blinked, not sure if he'd heard correctly, and he would have been certain this was one of Loki's tricks except the pleading in her voice was too real. "Call it off? Look at what he's done!" He pointed out towards the burning city. Her gaze followed, and he couldn’t read her carefully blank expression. “Look,” he continued carefully. “at the chaos he’s created.”
"Please.” Her voice cracked on her plea. “Call off your avengers. The Midgardians like you; tell them not to put up any resistance and the damage will be minimal. Let Loki become king."
"Sigyn, I can't do that. These people have done nothing to him and he will rule them with an iron fist."
"One that I will temper with mercy when needed."
Thor pulled his arm way from her grasp, a temporary flash of rage at her naiveté. "Do you really desire to be queen? Is that what he's promised you in return for your support?" Loki would never allow her to be merciful, or he would just continue his cruelty away from her.
"My support is born of love and concern for him."
"As is my opposition. This deal he made for the Tessaract…someone else is pulling the strings here. Loki is being used whether he knows it or not. And I think you know that." She must...she couldn't bring her gaze to meet his. He placed his hand on her shoulder. "I only want to keep my brother safe. Let me do that; let me end this and take the both of you home."
It was the wrong thing to say. Whatever progress he'd made with her was lost when she broke away and looked up at him, incredulous. "Home? You would take us back to Asgard? What will happen to Loki if you do?"
Thor dreaded this conversation, even more now with so little time to explain to her. "My brother has to answer for what he's done."
"And what will become of me?"
Once, Thor might have been able to protect her. But for her to show up on Midgard with him, remaining as loyal as ever...he wasn’t so sure anymore. "I don't know." She took another step back and he reached out to take her arm. "Sister..."
"Don't." she stumbled back. "Don't Thor..." She looked out towards the city as more and more Chitauri descended from the sky. "You better hurry." Her voice was cold but he could see the tears in her eyes. "They’re going to need you."
Thor wanted to grab her, hug her, promise her that all would work itself out and things would be as they were, but she was right. They would need his help with the Chitauri.
And he would not lie to her.
Sigyn watched as Thor flew from the balcony, her fists clenched by her sides. Once, and not all that long ago, she felt she could count on him as an ally, as a brother. Now the same brother who had done his best to protect her from the cruel whispers in Asgard would now drag them back to that, to an unknown punishment. Angry tears stung the corners of her eyes, and she turned to go back inside. There was nothing more she could do out here.
Loki’s scepter lay discarded by her feet, and Thor was forgotten. He would need that, wouldn’t he? She scanned the distance, trying to see if Loki was on any of the vehicles that flew by. She knelt to pick it up, to keep it safe until Loki returned for it.
The scepter was heavier than she expected, and awkward to hold with only one hand. The metal warmed under her hands, and the slight tingle in her palms soon turned to sharp pinpricks. Her knuckles turned white as her grip tightened, feared that she would drop it.
How can Loki stand to hold this?
One of the vehicles flew closer, and Sigyn let out a sigh of relief. It flew towards her, and then turned sharply…but it wasn’t Loki that jumped onto the balcony. One of the Chitauri landed several feet from her, and raised its weapon.
“I’m not your enemy,” she said, standing a little straighter. If it could understand her, that would be a miracle in itself. She held up the staff as her proof of her allegiance. “I’m with Loki.” When it didn’t respond, she snarled. “I am your queen.”
There was a bright flash of blue light and Sigyn was thrown onto her back before she could register what happened. The breath had barely returned to her lungs when she saw the creature raise its weapon again, and just barely rolled away as it fired at her again. Lifting the scepter to aim it was agony, and despite the energy she could feel surging through it, nothing happened when she tried to fire at it.
Sigyn wasn’t a warrior. She wasn’t a queen. She wasn’t even a trickster, just a minor sorceress who stood wholly insignificant before a creature that didn’t care if she was the lover or wife of its king or that she held his scepter. Her shoulder felt as though it was on fire, but she wouldn’t look at it until this thing was gone, lest she lose her nerve.
“You don’t like that I’m holding this, do you?” she asked, glancing at the scepter. “Or are you just a dumb creature…too stupid to do anything other than attack?” It made a terrible screeching, hissing sound, and her lip curled up. “Come get me then.”
The Chitauri lunged at her and Sigyn spun to the side. The staff may not respond to her, but it was still a weapon. She used the centrifugal force the scepter gave her to swing it into its side. It staggered toward the ledge, and with a powerful kick she pushed it over the edge. It tumbled down towards the street below, screeching and grasping at air.
The scepter slipped from her grasp, landing with a clatter on the balcony, as Sigyn sank to her knees. Her shoulder and her side were in agony, and she finally dared to inspect the damage. Both her shoulder and her side were burnt, the skin bubbled into an angry shade of red, and a few specks of black she feared was her skin but turned out to be residue from the device. One touch had her nearly in tears.
The pain hit her hard, and she left the scepter on the balcony rather than drag it with her. By the time she was inside, she couldn’t even stand fully and had to crawl along the floor until she reached the bar and hid herself underneath it, though not without grabbing a bottle of an amber liquid. She wanted to pass out from the effort just to get this far, and this time the tears did come as she trembled beneath the bar.
Her fingers touched the burnt skin on her side—she’d been lucky the Chitauri missed otherwise there was a chance she might not have made it this far—and it was as though a thousand flames licked and bit at the wounded flesh.
With a deep breath, she took a long drink from the bottle before muttering a healing spell. The feeling of her skin repairing and knitting itself back together was worse than the burn itself and she screamed and screamed.
It was so quiet Loki almost didn’t hear it. There were so many screams they all sounded alike. Except he knew this scream, and it wasn’t coming from the city below. It was in his head, and it was Sigyn’s.
There wasn’t any time to go back; the Chitauri were useless unless he lead them. So he tried to ignore Sigyn’s screams, even though they were a distraction.
Then he saw agent Romanoff, steering one of the Chitauri’s vehicles, and she was heading straight for Stark Tower. For Sigyn. He turned his own vehicle as best he could and followed after her.
It took longer to heal herself than Sigyn planned; she had to stop a few times simply because it hurt so badly. She wasn’t even sure she had healed all of it, but she had to be careful not to push herself too hard. Half of the bottle was empty, and it dulled some of her pain.
She didn’t know how long she remained under that bar. But the more time that ticked by, the more she just wanted the battle to be over. She wanted Loki safe and victorious.
Outside there was a thud, and Sigyn held her breath. A roar and the sound of more breaking glass soon followed.
"Enough!" Loki. "You are all of you beneath me. I am a god you dull creature. And I will not be bullied by--" and then he was cut off. It sounded as though the ground was being broken, and beneath that were Loki's whimpers and pants. Sigyn pressed her hand to her mouth to keep from screaming.
The attack was brutal but quick, ending with the beast leaving...but not before tossing an insult in Loki's direction. Had she been in better shape, she might have attacked it, but it took a great deal of effort just to move from under the bar and it was long gone by the time she emerged.
Loki was too still, surrounded by the cracks that bore too much familiarity to the ones shed seen in the bowl.
He’s dead. Sorrow and shock were already settling in her bones as she crept forward. I have already mourned him once. Please not again.
Then he wheezed, high pitched and pathetic, and Sigyn almost cried in relief. “What the Hel kind of noise was that?” she laughed even though it hurt to.
Loki barely turned his head to look at her, and she leaned over him. “You don’t look much better.” He frowned. “I thought I told you to stay hidden. What happened?”
She shrugged, and quickly realized her shoulder wasn’t fully healed. “Your Chitauri don’t like their queen.”
His eyes widened, and he struggled to reach up and touch her shoulder. “They did this to you?” She nodded and he growled. “They weren’t worth the price I paid for them.”
Thor’s warning that Loki’s deal for his army had more to it echoed in her head, and she wondered just what price he had paid. “The battle’s going poorly then?”
“These Avengers are more…formidable… than I thought. And this army is weak. It doesn’t take much to kill them.”
Sigyn glanced toward the window. The Chitauri never stopped coming. “We’ll just have to hope that their greater numbers will work to our advantage,” she said as she brought his hand to her lips.
He let her kiss his palm before he cupped her cheek. His skin felt rough against hers, but she nuzzled against it anyway, grateful for the contact. “I’m afraid,” he said with more tenderness than she expected from him. “We have to consider the possibility that we won’t win this.”
He is lost and so are you. Sigyn shook the magpie’s words from her mind, and took a trembling breath. “No. This isn’t over yet, my king. Your army still arrives in droves. This…this is just a battle wound… a minor setback.”
Loki’s laugh was little and broken, punctuated with coughs and wheezes. “Your faith is inspiring. But if I fail…”
“If I do… You will have to meet me in Asgard.”
Oh, that was worse than running. At least if they were on the run, they would be together. “Loki…we can’t go back there. They’ll bring you before the All-Father and make you answer for what you’ve done.”
“He won’t kill me. He still sees me as his son.”
Sigyn couldn’t be sure of that, and it was not a risk she wanted to take. “You’ll still be imprisoned. And I…I don’t even know what punishment I’ll face. I don’t have the protection you do.” Loki shifted in the crater, and Sigyn helped him up so that he could sit beside here. They were both in pain, and they both ended up leaning on each other. “There is another matter,” she murmured, her arm slipping around his waist to hold him up. “I do not think I have the strength to make it back to Asgard.”
Loki’s hand pressed to her shoulder, and then to her side, each time a heat spread through her. He wasn’t much of a healer, but he’d finished what she started. “You should now,” he said quietly. “We will be safest there should this fail. He won’t be able to get us there.”
Since she didn’t have to heal herself, Sigyn had enough energy to work on some of Loki’s injuries, at least the major ones. “Who won’t be able to get us?”
His answer wasn’t a name or an explanation but a kiss. Soft and familiar, it wasn’t like their others, when he’d try to distract her. It was like whenever he and Thor went off on one of their adventures. It was like how he kissed her before they went to Jotunheim, before his fateful battle with Thor on the Bifrost and he never returned. It was a farewell kiss.
Sigyn’s arms wound around him and clung to him fiercely, the stubborn part of her still refusing to let him go. Outside the battle still raged on, and Sigyn prayed it would go on for days, prayed the Avengers would tire themselves out under an endless onslaught and they would be safe.
His fingers trailed down her cheek, along her neck, before picking up the pendant around her neck. The one he had been meant to give her for their engagement. “I make no promises that I will be a good husband,” he breathed against her lips.
“I don’t expect you to.” Once, before he fell, she might have. Before Thor’s coronation she had nothing but rosy visions for their eventual marriage. That everything would be perfect and happy. Now, sitting in the crater in the middle of Stark’s apartment, both of them battered and injured, she no longer held such visions.
“You could leave, you know. Tell everyone that you found me, and once you saw what I had done wanted no part of it.”
It was a tempting idea, to spare herself the pain of what was sure to follow. Even if she never married and devoted herself to her studies or healing the sick... But that was another rosy vision, much like the ones she’d had about finding him in the first place, of things returning to the way they were, or of her and Loki hiding in some far flung corner of the realms only to emerge centuries later with the hopes that the past would be forgotten.
There would be no peace for her in Asgard, or anywhere else for that matter, with or without Loki. That was her hard learned lesson, to see the reality of her situation. She’d seen what Loki was truly capable of…of just how far he’d fallen. She’d seen what lengths Thor was willing to go in order to protect Midgard. And she’d seen what she was willing to allow Loki to do, whether or not she agreed with it. Loving Loki was no easy thing, and it was a rough path for her to follow. Yet this was her reality, one she could not and would not run from.
“I’ve made my choice. I stand with you.”
For a moment he was silent and simply blinked at her, as though he was still shocked that after all this she would still stand by him. “Foolish girl,” He murmured, kissing her deeply.
There was a loud rip, and Sigyn looked down to see Loki tear away a long, thin strip of his cloak. An almost reverent silence fell between them as Loki held her hand in his, and started wrapping the fabric around their hands. No vows were exchanged because none needed to be said. Words were Loki’s weapon, and this silent action spoke louder and truer than any vow he could make. It was the shortest, simplest wedding Sigyn had ever seen, but a small smile came to her lips regardless.
Loki placed a soft kiss on her lips and rested his forehead against hers, his breathing still raspy and wheezing. She placed a hand to his chest, using the last of her magic energy to heal him further. He pulled away with a grunt and started undoing the fabric around their hands, only to wrap and tie it around her wrist. The fabric was surprisingly smooth and light against her skin, yet its weight was so much more.
“This is your protection,” he whispered. “You are now of the house of Odin, and you will be given similar treatment as I, whatever that may be.”
Loki was having a hard time remaining upright on his own, so she let him lean against her good side. Her fingers gently combed through his hair, and they remained in silence. Outside the battle raged on, the portal’s distinctive roar the underlying melody.
And then it stopped.
Still a little weak herself, Sigyn got up and went to the window. The Chitauri lay crumpled in the streets, or crashed as though they’d fallen from the sky. When she craned her head up, she no longer saw the edges of the portal, and her heart plummeted.
“It’s over,” Loki said. He was leaning back on his elbows again. “You have to go.” He smiled, though he winced when he moved. “We will be together again. I think you’ve proven that there’s not a thing in all nine realms that can keep us apart.”
She knelt before him and kissed him again, her hands gently cupping the sides of his face, and he let her have this moment before he pulled away. “Hurry. They’ll be here any moment.”
Her touch lingered on his cheek for a moment before she forced herself to step back and retrieve her bag. She couldn’t trust herself to speak, but she did kneel next to him again and placed another kiss to his forehead. His fingers touched her cheek, and wiped away the few tears he found there. “I will see you in Asgard…my wife.”
Sigyn choked down a sob, and her voice shook when she answered, “And I will be waiting for you, my husband.” Her farewell was one final kiss, and she couldn’t look back at him at him as she left, otherwise she never would have found the strength to leave his side.
While she had kept a brave face in front of him, Sigyn had wiped at tears which never ceased to fall as she walked away.
When Sigyn was gone, Loki allowed himself to fall completely onto his back. He was alone with his defeat now, his failure mocking him in the silence.
He regretted sending Sigyn away. They could have hidden in some far flung corner of the nine realms and licked their wounds and plan their next move from there.
But he would forever be looking over his shoulder, waiting for his benefactor to creep out of the shadows. Asgard would be a miserable place for them, but they would be alive.
Wedding her had been an impulse. He hated that she loved him, and that he loved her. That his chest felt warm when she called him husband, the same way it used to when Thor called him brother. That he couldn’t stand the thought of something terrible happening to her, even though keeping her close to him would guarantee that happening. He was Loki, son of Laufey, and he had no family. She would realize that one day. Tear that bit of fabric from her wrist and throw it at him. Scream that she was no longer his wife. But at least, for a little while, she would have that protection.
His back ached (well, everything ached, but his back more so than the rest), and Loki crawled away from the crater that creature had used him to make. He didn’t know where he was crawling, only that he needed to get away from it.
Loki heard them first: the heavy thud of the Hulk’s steps, the clang of Stark’s armor, even his brother’s familiar, thunderous gait. Three more that only registered as mortal. He turned, and found himself face to face with Barton’s arrow.
At least I can lose gracefully. “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll have that drink now.”
Everyone else was looking (more like glaring, or smirking in Stark’s case), except for Thor, who kept glancing around the room.
“Where is she?” he asked, as though the rest of the Avengers weren’t looking at him like he’d gone mad.
No. He can’t know she was here. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Thor stepped forward and pointed Mjolnir at him, and Loki would normally have laughed at the futility of threatening him given the state he was in, had he not been so stunned.
“I am in no mood for your lies, brother. Where is Sigyn?”