Suitcases were ridiculous, Loki decided.
Suitcases were ridiculous. Travelling itself was daft. Midgardian concepts of clothing were utterly backward; despite having invented washing machines, it still wasn't acceptable to wear the same outfit every day. Horses were extremely few and light years between; polluting metal cars were preferred. Housing was chosen for practicality, not splendour. On long trips, instead of using a reasonable means of transport, one must travel by "train" or "plane."
Instead of banquets in a hall, dinners were bought from and prepared in external places, then eaten on trays placed precariously on a table covered in poisonous substances and science equipment.
Or perhaps that was just what happened when you were forced to live with John Watson and Sherlock Holmes.
'This is ridiculous,' said Loki for the fourth time, and at this point John was regretting ever having agreed to, in his own words, babysit Loki.
If John was frustrated, Sherlock was positively infuriated; Loki had done nothing but complain since his arrival at 221B, and was currently making their lives a misery. Technically, it wasn't Loki's fault that they had to bring him along on a case, but that didn't stop anyone from getting angry at him.
'Do you honestly have to bring the alien?' Lestrade had asked when he'd handed them the three train tickets they'd requested. There was no way they were flying to Rome, especially not after what happened the last time Loki had gotten onto a plane.
Loki had scowled at the use of the word "alien" and opened his mouth to debate the fact that in actuality, he was a god and should be treated as such, but John silenced him with a hard stare. Loki's expression remained furious.
Sherlock had, of his own free will, called his brother to complain about Loki coming along with them. Mycroft's sole response (He didn't pick up the phone; Sherlock had to leave a message) was to send what they assumed was an officially accredited passport for Loki.
And now, they were packing, and not a despite a long-held wish to visit Italy, John couldn't have been less excited or more apprehensive to be headed off to Rome if Moriarty himself was dragging him there.
As he watched Loki attempt to decide what human garments to pack into his suitcase, he figured that perhaps this was an understatement.
Loki gave up and pushed the mostly packed, half closed suitcase away from him roughly with his foot before folding his arms and sitting on the couch.
'You do realise you picked out all of those clothes yourself, right?' he asked.
Loki nodded. John resisted shuddering. Clothes shopping with Loki had NOT been a pleasant experience by anyone's definition.
'I simply don't understand why I can't stay here,' said Loki furiously.
John let out a sarcastic laugh. 'Really? You can't see why we've got to look after you after you tried to destroy the planet?'
'I was aiming for domination, not destruction.'
'The point still stands,' John said. We're not leaving you here on your own; god only knows what kind of trouble you could get into.' He tried not to laugh at his now messed-up idea of god.
'Clearly not much, as I'm completely powerless,' said Loki bitterly. John rolled his eyes; he'd been playing the helpless card far too often. He hadn't taken his hands off the sceptre in the entire time he'd been there, as if willing it to return his powers to him.
'You may not have your normal abilities, but you're still the international criminal who caused hundreds of deaths across multiple cities,' John explained wearily for the eighth or so time, 'I'm surprised Lestrade didn't throw you in jail and melt down the key to your cell.'
Sherlock chose this moment to stride into the room, suitcase in tow. Loki scowled instantaneously; Sherlock's suitcase was far fancier than his own, and he detested being treated like an average civilian rather than the extravagant treatment he was used to.
'John, I've told you, Lestrade has offered several times to lock Loki up for the duration of this…'
'No,' said John firmly, interrupting Sherlock, 'I'm not letting him out of my sight, and you shouldn't want to let him out of yours either.'
'I know what he is, but that doesn't mean we're better off with him in a cell.'
'Can I just…' started Loki, before both John and Sherlock interrupted him with thrown out hands and simultaneous 'No's.
Sherlock and John glared at each other until Sherlock finally huffed and grabbed the handle of his suitcase. 'The taxi's out the front,' he said, before walking right out the front door.
John stood up and grabbed his own bag, heaving it over his shoulder. He gestured for Loki to pick up his own suitcase. Loki looked at John in contempt before standing up, grabbing his suitcase, zipping it shut the rest of the way (with difficulty), and harshly dragging it towards the stairs to the street. He carried the sceptre with him, trying to pull it off as a walking stick.
John followed close behind. This was going to be an interesting trip.
No, seriously, screw trains.
That was the thought, with varying levels of profanities, running through the minds of John, Sherlock and Loki as they sat on the train on the way to Paris, their stop on the way to Rome. They were sitting at a table, Sherlock and John opposite Loki, and the first half hour of the trip had been in complete, awkward silence.
John, as one would expect, was the first to attempt to break it.
'So, Loki,' said John, and he could hear the universe cringing just for trying to speak to the man, 'you come from Asgard, right?'
Loki looked up from where he'd been glaring at the table. 'Yes.'
'What's it like?'
Sherlock rolled his eyes dramatically and huffed, leaning out of the window.
'Grand.' Loki seemed to be reluctant to say anything further. Either that or, John thought, Loki simply thought that as mortals, Sherlock and John weren't worth speaking to.
'Ask him about his issues with his father next,' said Sherlock, and Loki's head snapped up to glare at Sherlock. John elbowed Sherlock pointedly, but Sherlock was too busy smirking to notice.
'My father is none of your business, and you'd do well to…'
'Listen,' said John, 'I suggest you start talking about something less close to your heart before Sherlock picks your personality apart and lays it on the table in front of you.'
Loki scowled. Sherlock looked pleased. John knew that this trip was just going to get worse.
'Asgard is beyond mortal imagination,' said Loki, and Sherlock looked exasperated at the dramatic introduction, 'It's made of spires and gold and the wills of gods. The statues flanking the entrance to Odin's castle are tall, as tall as… that tall, pointed tower in Paris.'
'The Eiffel Tower,' John supplemented helpfully. Loki didn't look as he appreciated it much.
Loki paused and stared at John in what looked like contempt before starting again. 'The entire city shines, the banquets are both numerous and carefully prepared, and the people don't dress in the ridiculous fashion you mortals have decided upon; we wear leather, cloaks, metal armour. And until recently, the Bifrost shone with every colour imaginable, and it was that which we used to travel between the worlds.'
None of this was said with fondness and affection; it was chewed through and spat out. Sherlock went back to staring out the window. John was captivated by the idea, though not exactly the retelling of it.
'You said, "until recently,"' said John, 'So, what happened to this… Bifrost, was it?'
Loki scowled. 'That would have been the work of my idiotic brother-by-adoption, Thor.'
'Well, I'm sure he had good reason to,' said John, 'do you know what happened, if something prompted it?'
Clearly Loki did, though he pressed his lips firmly together and refused to speak any more about either Thor or the rest of Asgard. No matter John's entreaties to tell him stories about something, anything; his childhood perhaps, his upbringing, even asking why on Earth he decided to ally with the frost giants and attempt to take over the world didn't entreat Loki to talk.
Sherlock pulled out his phone, Loki started tracing his sceptre delicately, and it was then that John decided it wouldn't be impolite to take out his laptop and start writing the draft of a blog entry.
Luckily the train guards were too busy checking their passports and their tickets to notice the either the sceptre Loki held or the absolutely furious atmosphere that surrounded the three of them. Loki, unsurprisingly, was not a patient man, and despite the train ride being relatively short, he was completely infuriated at his supposed "captivity" whilst on it.
They switched trains to the second one, headed for Marseilles, and walked down the aisle to their seats.
John immediately noticed the problem. They'd been allocated two sets of two seats, both facing the front of the train, and one of them was likely to have to share a pair of seats with a stranger.
There was no way John was inflicting looking after Loki on a stranger. There was no way John was inflicting talking to Sherlock on a stranger. Which presented a problem, because there was no way that John was inflicting on himself the catastrophic consequences of sitting Loki and Sherlock next to each other.
However, there wasn't much of a choice. John moved to sit next to the elderly lady reading some sort of dull woman's magazine and indicated that Sherlock and Loki sit in the pair of seats behind him.
Loki looked furious. Sherlock was incredulous. John pushed Loki into the seat next to the window and glared at Sherlock until he reluctantly sat beside Loki.
'John, this is unnecessary and…'
'Shush,' said John. It felt as though he was doing a lot of interrupting today, but he felt as though he'd earned the right. He sat in the aisle seat next to the elderly lady and took out a novel he'd brought with him for the trip.
There was no way he was letting himself fall asleep. Just in case he woke up and the train was on fire.
Before he'd gotten two pages into his story (though admittedly John was somewhat of a slow reader), he heard frantic muttering from behind him. Refusing to turn his head, he instead turned his attention to the noise, trying his best to decipher it.
'You're being ridiculous,' Loki was saying, clearly angry, 'your knowledge of this is impossible. I know you associated with Thor, and he clearly told you everything you're pretending you found out.'
'It's quite obvious, really.' That was Sherlock, of course.
'It is not,' said Loki, 'your fanciful lies and careful trickery will never fool me; I'm the god of mischief himself, as your species decided to name me. You think I wouldn't realise when someone as absolutely pathetic as yourself was lying through his teeth?'
Had this been just after Sherlock's return, John would likely have hit Loki for suggesting Sherlock was a fraud. As it was, that had long since passed, and he simply rolled his eyes before returning to his book.
'Would you like me to explain?' asked Sherlock.
'You can't,' said Loki, 'as you're lying.'
Sherlock rolled his eyes and stared down the aisle at the other passengers. The train was mostly filled with business men; there was one teacher, taking up a new job and hoping to make a good impression. A chef, by the looks of things, visiting a relative, most likely an elderly grandparent. A political man, foreign minister, spoke four languages and was incredibly proud of the fact. Right across the aisle from them, a television writer, probably a prominent one, working on a script. Sneaking a peek at the script itself, Sherlock saw that his name was Steven.
Loki scowled. He could see Sherlock's eyes flitting between the people on the train, no doubt "deducing" them. He looked out of the window in frustration. It was just his luck that his first enforced experience on Earth was with the most egotistical man on the planet, aside from Tony Stark, and an army doctor who was both far more dangerous than he looked and likely necessary to ensure Loki's protection from either the public that recognised him or the furious onslaughts of knowledge and deductions from Sherlock.
John turned another page in his book. Let the children fight it out, he supposed.
They weren't kicked off the second train, but it was a close call.
The third train was equally as uncomfortable as the first two, though at least this time they were given seating around another table. John was thoroughly enjoying his book, Sherlock seemed to have found something interesting in the century old psychology textbook John had insisted he bring along, and Loki?
Well, Loki was still fuming. It was surprising that he'd managed to keep up being so furious for quite so long, but John was too used to Sherlock's unusual moods to notice anything particularly strange about Loki's five hour moping session.
'How do you do it?' asked Loki eventually.
John looked up, more than happy to talk to the god who'd been sitting there scowling for so long. He'd simply been waiting for Loki to break the silence this time.
'Refuse to cave in, refuse to put me in a jail cell and leave me there until the end of this godforsaken trip. Still maintain decorum despite being provoked.'
Sherlock chuckled, still immersed in his textbook. John chose not to ask.
'It's not that difficult, honestly,' said John, 'you may think you're being difficult, but you haven't seen Sherlock on a week-long break between cases. Compared to that you're extremely obedient.'
Loki frowned at Sherlock and looked back to John, who'd opened up his book again and started reading.
'Really, you're not being difficult,' John assured him when he noticed Loki glaring.
'Is that a challenge?'
'God no,' said John, turning over a page, 'Besides. You'd hardly succeed.'
Loki wasn't sure whether that was a compliment or not, so he went back to staring out the window and sulking. He was still tightly clutching the sceptre.
'You do realise you can't carry that around Rome, right?' asked John, pointing at it.
'And why not?'
'You're not allowed to carry weapons in public, generally. In Europe, anyway.'
'You'd have me leave this sole link to my home in an unguarded room?'
'Look, we'll have to talk about it later,' said John, looking out of the window, 'We've arrived.'
Sherlock looked up from his psychology book to see the station come into view. He stood up quickly, heading to retrieve his luggage from the compartment next to the door.
John sighed and got up. Loki followed close behind, still scowling.
They'd arrived. Finally.