Isn't Matantei Loki a manga for good children? We have been deceived!
Heimdall stared up moodily at the cupboard door, far beyond his reach. If I were in falcon form, he thought, I could fly to the door and open it - but then, how could I take out the tea canister? As he pondered this puzzle, as he had every day of his miserable exile in this city, behind him he could hear the clacking of tools and the droning, tuneless humming of his current roommate, who was tinkering as usual with some daft contraption.
My . . . roommate. He shuddered, glancing back over his shoulder to survey the small apartment they shared. How, he wondered, did this differ from any urban junkyard, with its random piles of scrap electronic and machine parts, draped here and there with his roommate's carelessly discarded laundry? The propped-up door to the building's hall and the burnt wall only added to the overall ambiance of chaos. Imposing order had become Heimdall's hourly struggle.
All because of him. If not for Loki, Heimdall would still have two eyes. If not for Loki, Heimdall would be standing alone on the Bifrost Bridge even now, in that cold silence he'd enjoyed for eons. If not for Loki, Heimdall would be a god - not cast out as a school-child into this world where he needed an adult roommate to maintain the apartment. Although, in Freyr's case, "adult" was a misnomer.
If not for Loki, Heimdall would not be living with Freyr.
How Heimdall would enjoy killing Loki.
Heimdall savagely kicked the kitchen stool into place, trying to ignore how the Doraemon on it always appeared to be laughing at his predicament. Planting his foot firmly in Doraemon's face, he boosted himself onto the kitchen counter.
"Walking on the countertop is unhygienic," his roommate opined, adding, "You may be the size of a pet, but you're not one."
"I didn't hear you offering to help," Heimdall snarled, pawing off one of his heavy leather gloves. He tucked it in his waistband, and hooked the door's handle in a curving claw. As he sorted through the odd assortment of cans and boxes in cupboard, he heard the off-key humming begin once again. He gritted his teeth.
"Oi. Freyr," he said at last. "What have you done with the tea?"
The humming paused. "Tea?"
"Yeah. Tea. For drinking."
Heimdall digested this information. "We're out," he repeated slowly. "We have no tea. You knew that."
"That is what Freyr said, yes." Then, with a mildly interested air, Freyr cocked his head to study him. "Has Heimdall now become hard of hearing as well as half blind?"
A brown cloud of powder puffed gently into the air as the box within Heimdall's grasp collapsed beneath his grip.
"And now there is no cocoa either," Freyr pointed out with asperity. "Really, Heimu. You must learn to be less messy."
But Loki was an old grievance, Heimdall decided, and could wait a little longer. Particularly when current needs were far more pressing.
How Heimdall would enjoy killing Freyr.
After a few moments' worth of pleasant fantasies in which Freyr suffered a succession of grisly deaths, common sense reasserted its mastery: Heimdall still needed Freyr alive. He would simply have to settle for making Freyr as miserable as he was. Heimdall slid down off the counter. "Freyr," he said. "I am going out for more tea. While I am out, you will deal with that." Heimdall pointed at the apartment's door, propped over the entry to the hallway.
"What on earth do you mean, 'deal' with it?" Freyr said, annoyed.
"You will apply your tools to fixing the door," Heimdall said carefully, as he would to a child. "So that the door will no longer be broken. When you are finished, the door will open. The door will shut."
"Freyr did not break it," Freyr said.
"I am . . . aware of that," Heimdall ground out. Thor, who was too dim to figure out the difference between doorbells and home invasion, had kicked it in the day before. "I fail to see why that matters."
"You fail to see," Freyr repeated. "You fail to see? How could you even suggest this?" His chair tipped backward into the parts pile with a clatter, as Freyr leapt to his feet and assumed a dramatic pose, arms flung wide. "Do you not realize what this means? You would have devastatingly handsome Deity of Romance Freyr, supremely artistic Phantom Thief Freyr, Technological Prodigy Freyr stoop to the level of mere handyman?
"I am filled with woe!" he cried, cradling his eyes in his palm, as the petals of cherry blossoms drifted down mysteriously from the ceiling. "Witness Freyr's misunderstood genius! If only Mayura-chan, my Yamato Nadeshiko, were here to comfort me in this, my time of need!"
And witness Heimdall's hell. Heimdall cupped his own hand over his empty eye socket as his ever-present, lurking headache threatened to rage out of control. "Yes," he persisted, "I would have you do this, if only because I'm tired of the neighbors watching our every move. Aren't you?"
"I hadn't noticed," Freyr said, peering out into the hall, where even now the elderly woman from two doors down was bowing politely to them around her armload of shopping bags. Freyr awarded her with a stunning smile and gracious wave. She swooned on cue.
"Of course you haven't," Heimdall said wearily. Having a vain, maniac fertility god in residence meant he'd grown accustomed to Freyr parading about in the all-together after his baths, but Heimdall didn't think their neighbors would take that in stride. "Just fix the door, dammit. I'm going out for more tea."
Heimdall chose to not hear the croon of "Ahhh, the nasty one is gone - alone at last, my Gullinbursti LX Special Edition!" that followed him into the hall.
As Heimdall shuffled down the block to the shop, he fingered open the fish-mouth of his change-purse and considered its contents gloomily. His allowance from Asgard never stretched to any extravagances. Perhaps he could persuade Freyr to take his damned guitar and go busking in the subway again? Freyr generally did quite well with that, Heimdall had noticed; people were downright generous if it meant Freyr might stop playing and go home.
Still, Heimdall mused, there were worse fates. He could be living with Thor, for instance. Seeking information to use against Loki, he'd once tried breaking into that one-room cesspit of Narugami's when he wasn't home. But the 'breaking in' part hadn't been necessary - the door had fallen in the moment he'd tried knocking, leading to the conclusion that Narugami considered kicking in doors the ideal solution to lost keys as well. Idiot.
And 'wasn't home' might not have been accurate either. Amid the hanging sheaves of wrinkled laundry, and towering heaps of empty, moldy ramen cups, okonomiyaki boxes, and cat food tins, Heimdall found it impossible to discern whether Narugami was present or not. For all he knew, he might have overslept and been snoring away somewhere beneath the garbage. Slovenly idiot.
In the end, discretion had been the better part of valor - nothing could be gained from ransacking Thor's dump except exotic diseases and a fur allergy. Yes, Heimdall decided, rooming with Thor would be worse. Why Loki allowed that freeloading dolt to dog his heels was beyond him. Didn't Loki ever get tired of being reduced to this? To being surrounded by fools?
With every plodding step to the convenience store, another grievance sprang to Heimdall's mind to be brooded over. The stolen eye. The child body. The betrayal by Odin. His living arrangements. His tight money situation. His unfinished homework. His molting falcon. Those interfering Norns. Those bastards Thor and Loki. That lunatic Freyr.
And now this. As Heimdall stared at the shelf of tea, he realized that his change purse was short the amount he'd need. He'd have to go back to the apartment and ask him for the money. That idiot who was too self-absorbed to even consider buying more tea himself after he'd drunk the last of it. That idiot who he knew would still be sitting there cuddling his damn pig and wouldn't even have glanced at that broken door after Heimdall left.
Heimdall found himself shaking in anger. He couldn't take this any longer. His existence was doomed to be 40 yen short.
"Hey! Isn't it Higashiyama Kazumi-kun?" Heimdall started in alarm. "I haven't seen you in a while!"
"Wha?" Heimdall looked up, to meet a delighted smile. "Mayura-chan?" he stuttered.
"Oh no. What's wrong, Kazumi-kun?" Mayura knelt down to his level, and regarded him with grave concern. In a stage whisper that carried down every aisle, she asked, "Don't you have enough money with you?"
Too much. I'm a god, Heimdall despaired, and an object of schoolgirl pity. He wanted to be long gone from this city, from these people, from all of it. He wanted to be back guarding the gate with the only ones who had ever truly appreciated him.
"The falcons," he sniffled, "an,and the eagles, and the hawks!"
"What?" Mayura-chan was blinking up at the shelf beside them, confused. "Birds?"
"I, I -" He swallowed hard on the lump in this throat, and to his utter mortification, Heimdall burst into tears. "I want to go home!" he wailed.
So where he was going wasn't truly home, but for now it would have to do, Heimdall reflected dourly. Her bag with soda and his own bag with the tea canister swung off Mayura's other arm, and he allowed her to tow him down the street, his leather-clad fist tucked into her slim hand.
Heimdall sucked moodily on the lollipop that she'd bought him, and let the flow of chatter wash around him. He really had no idea what she was going on about. Something about turnips? But it didn't matter. He had no dignity left to salvage, and Mayura-chan always chose good candy.
"So that's why I think it's a such horrifying mystery!" she was saying excitedly. "Don't you think so, too, Kazumi-kun?"
"Uh." Heimdall pulled the sucker from his mouth. "Uh, sure."
"I knew it!" she said, beaming down at him. "Loki-kun doesn't appreciate these things at all, not like you and I do."
Heimdall smiled, for the first time that afternoon. He didn't even care what he was supposed to be appreciating - to beat Loki at anything was worthwhile.
"Ah, good, you're feeling better, aren't you?" Mayura asked. "Are you sure you don't want me to walk you the rest of the way?"
Heimdall considered, at ponderous length, the historic consequences of one Mayura Daidouji appearing anywhere in the vicinity of a certain stupidly besotted Vanir. It took him all of a half-second. "No," he said, "I'm fine. Thanks for helping me."
"No, it was my pleasure, Kazumi-kun," she said, "it's so good to talk to someone sympathetic, who appreciates real mysteries for a change." And then she leaned down to loop his bag over his arm - and in a flurry of hair and skirts, she whirled off, frantically waving back at him, calling, "Enjoy the tea! See you later!"
Much, much later, Heimdall waved back, embarrassed, and then glanced up. He hoped that Freyr hadn't been looking out a window during any of that conversation.
As it turned out, he needn't have worried. The apartment was empty of all life except his falcon and Gullinbursti, wallowing in mechanical bliss among the cables in the corner. And the front door, he was astonished to note, had not been fixed - it had been replaced entirely. And this new door had been standing wide open.
"What kind of a pathetic excuse for a Phantom Thief doesn't even lock his own apartment door?" he fumed to Gullinbursti, who emitted a few beeps and flashed a few colored lights in response. "Ungh, his insanity is contagious," Heimdall muttered. "I'm asking the opinion of a stupid toy pig." He ignored the squeal of angry protest.
But perhaps Heimdall was being unfair; he'd just been opening the window to let out his falcon for the afternoon, when his eye was caught by the white box sitting in a cleared space on the table. "Patisserie d'Amor," the name of the local bakery, was printed on the side in sloping script.
"Nice gestures from Freyr? Very suspicious," he stated aloud, but this time Gullinbursti, still insulted, ignored him. In looking at the contents, Heimdall thought they looked normal enough: six frosted teacakes with slim sticks of chocolate as garnish.
He picked one up and tentatively sniffed it, half expecting pepper, horseradish, curry, or worse, which was what he himself would have used, but it only smelled of perfectly ordinary cake.
So an apology after all, then? Weirder things had been known to happen in his life lately; Heimdall shrugged. "Itadakimasu."
The door slammed open, bouncing back against the wall, announcing the return of the roommate. Heimdall sighed; at this rate, they wouldn't need to wait for Thor to drop in again.
"How can this be?" Freyr moaned, leaning in a despondent droop against the door jamb. "Freyr was so certain he'd had a glorious vision of his Yamato Nadeshiko, but by the time he had descended to the street, she had vanished!" In a more prosaic tone, he added, "Nor was Mayura-chan in any of the nearby shops."
"Yeah, I've heard that delusions are one of the symptoms," Heimdall muttered.
Freyr snapped to attention. "Heimdall! What are you doing here?"
"I live here, too," he pointed out. Then he added, grudgingly, "Thanks for fixing the door."
"There is no need to thank Freyr," Freyr said with a sniff. "He would never sully his hands with repairs when there are peons for such work."
"Peons," Heimdall said, "don't tell me -- we don't have the money for --"
"Taken care of," Freyr said, cutting him off with expansive gesture. "The bill has been sent to the responsible party."
"But Thor's a pauper!" Heimdall shouted.
"The Enjaku Detective Agency," Freyr said, "will be receiving the bill."
Heimdall stared at him. "You sent the bill to Loki," he said flatly.
"Of course," Freyr replied.
"They're dunning Loki for our door," Heimdall said.
"Yes. Freyr did say that."
"Loki's paying for our door," Heimdall said, "but that's so . . ."
"Brilliant?" Freyr said, flashing a gleaming smile.
"Actually, I'd been thinking 'petty'," Heimdall muttered. But, all in all, he felt warmer about having Freyr around -- literally warmer, as the indoor temperature had seemed to crawl up slowly from the moment he'd arrived.
As if in response to that thought, Freyr announced "It is far too hot in here!" and doffed his cape with a flourish.
"Nuts," Heimdall said, "it's freezing." He shuffled back into the kitchen alcove and kicked the stool over to the sink, where he proceeded to fill the kettle as Freyr puttered about in the other room.
"Heimdall!" promptly came the command. "Come out here this instant!"
"Now what?" Heimdall mumbled sourly, hauling the kettle over to the stove and flipping on the burner. He hopped off the stool and trotted to the doorway. "What?" he demanded.
"Gullinbursti," Freyr said, "is made from the finest components."
"Hanh?" Heimdall gawked, as Freyr brandished a machine part off the tabletop. Freyr's screws apparently weren't just loose but had shaken out entirely. "The finest components courtesy trash pickup day. What's this?"
"Don't interrupt," Freyr snapped. "As Freyr was saying, the finest components. For example, this part has undergone specific magical enhancements." He cradled it in his hands lovingly.
"I didn't touch any of your stupid --"
"That is not the point! Under certain stress conditions, my cute Gullinbursti LX Special Edition, can absorb, store, and build upon the kinetic energy of impacts."
"Uh, whatever," Heimdall said hoarsely, staring the tube of metal Freyr was now stroking slowly with his fingers.
"Notice how the piston shaft is lubricated to ensure less fiction," Freyr said, demonstrating the motion as he continued. "How easily it slides into the cylinder. How with each stroke of the piston, each thrust of the cam will build the pressure until . . ."
"Until?" Heimdall prompted, his mouth feeling unaccountably dry.
"Until magical energy is ejected from the nozzle," Freyr finished triumphantly, "triggering a burst of blinding emergency power!" He dropped the part onto the table with a thud, and glared at Heimdall, a narrow-eyed scrutiny. "Freyr suspected as much. You ate one of his teacakes!"
"Wha?" Heimdall shook his head to clear the fog. No question about it: Freyr was weirder than usual today. "So the tea's not ready yet. What's the big deal?"
"The big deal?" Freyr shouted, incensed. "Freyr is not fond of children!"
Here we go again, Heimdall sighed to himself. "I'm not a child, damn it."
"Freyr is not fond of Heimdall!"
"The feeling's mutual, believe me," Heimdall muttered, stumping back into the kitchen. Evidently the box hadn't been a peace offering after all. "Look, if you didn't want anyone to eat your damn cakes, why did you leave them out on the table?"
"Alas, at this moment, Freyr is a god to be pitied, not censured," the other exclaimed, tucking his face into the crook of his elbow. "But he appears to be up to this task. Far too up!"
Heimdall rolled his eye, determined to ignore the latest drama. Although, he had to admit, the occasional shimmer of sparkles that Freyr was adding to the blossom cascade this time did seem rather tasteful.
No. Heimdall drew himself up short -- he had not just used two mutually exclusive terms, 'tasteful' and 'Freyr', in the same thought, had he? He made a fist and pounded his head to purge the notion.
"If discipline is required, Freyr-sama would be happy to provide it," the suggestion floated in his wake.
Heimdall glanced back, startled, and saw that Freyr's expression had shifted from outrage to something almost predatory. He shivered, a sliver of ice working its way down his spine. That was . . . definitely weird. Then he shook it off. The huffs from the teakettle were informing him that it wanted his attention.
Heimdall stepped back onto his stool and reached for the burner dial of the stove -- only to have another hand close over his own, twisting the dial for him.
"As Freyr said, he is happy to assist."
"Freyr?" he yelped. How had he managed to sneak up behind him like that? And what the hell was he doing now?
"You know, Heimu," Freyr said, in a conversational tone, "if you wear these heavy gloves all the time . . ." and with a hard yank, Freyr pulled off Heimdall's glove, and tossed it aside, "your hands are bound to be left very sensitive."
"Wha wha wha?" Heimdall stuttered.
"So, tell Freyr. How does this feel?" Freyr inquired, lacing his fingers through Heimdall's and rubbing the pad of his thumb over his palm.
Heimdall's fingers curled in reaction, claws clattering frantically across the stove enamel. "Cut it out," he gasped, shuddering. "Are you out of your mind?"
"Not yet," Freyr informed him sadly. "We must work on that."
Distracted, Heimdall hadn't even noticed until just then that Freyr had snaked an arm around his waist; it was like standing in front of a furnace, and Heimdall had even been leaning backward in reaction. He straightened abruptly.
But Freyr had reached down to cup the front of Heimdall's shorts. "Satisfactory progress," he pronounced happily.
"Wah!" Heimdall jumped backward in reflex, only to be met by the solid wall of Freyr.
"So impatient," Freyr's warm breath stirred the hair on top of Heimdall's head, as he murmured silkily, "Higashiyama-kun is anxious for Freyr-sensei to instruct him, isn't he?" Freyr executed a smooth roll of the hips as punctuation.
Stunned by the sheer corniness of that line, Heimdall didn't notice until too late that he'd been nodding and pressing back into Freyr in agreement. With a yelp of dismay, Heimdall started to untangle himself, when Freyr grasped him firmly under the arms, lifted him, and planted him firmly on the counter with a thud.
"Wuh!" Heimdall shouted, flailing for balance as Freyr pushed his legs apart.
"Lesson one," Freyr announced, brushing back Heimdall's hair.
Then Freyr began to kiss him, complete with aggressive deployment of tongue. Freyr's really . . . good at this? Heimdall's thought processes evaporated in a single puff of steam.
"Haaah!" Heimdall gasped, mouth freed at last as Freyr turned his attention to browsing along his neck. "Freyr! Oi! This joke has gone far enough. Damn it, cut it out!"
Freyr paused. "Joke," he repeated blankly.
"Quit trying to, to . . ." Heimdall stumbled over the idea.
"Seduce Heimdall?" Freyr supplied helpfully.
"That, yes! I mean, no! Lemme go!"
"Freyr is not trying," he said, annoyed, "he is succeeding." He added, "And I believe that protest is Freyr's line."
Heimdall noticed with a sinking heart that Freyr was strictly correct -- he had a stranglehold on Freyr. He stiffly jerked his arms back. "Freyr is not succeeding!"
"Freyr is forced to wonder why, if Heimdall does not want Freyr, he asked for him?" Freyr demanded. Then he answered his own question: "Ridiculous. Everyone wants Freyr."
"I don't!" Heimdall spat back. He wrapped his arms around himself for good measure, to stop them from straying back to disturbing locations. "What the hell are you babbling about?"
But Freyr's miniscule attention span had already lost interest in any discussion, and he was fumbling with Heimdall's shirt. "Heimdall," he asked querulously, "why must you always wear so many layers of clothing? It is not convenient."
"Le,leave my layers alone!"
"Fine." Freyr stepped back abruptly, and Heimdall had to catch himself on the counter. Freyr crossed his arms and began to tap his toe impatiently. "Heimu will take them off. Hurry up."
"Yeah, okay . . ." Heimdall started to peel off his jacket, then stopped, appalled. "I'm not taking anything off!" he said.
"Yes, you are. Freyr prefers his partners naked," Freyr said. With that, he reached up and began unfastening the clasps on his own tunic.
"I'm not a, a partner," Heimdall said, frantically. "I'm a kid!"
"'I am not a child,' he said," Freyr reminded him.
"I take it back!" For good measure, he yelled, "Help! Mommy!"
Not that Heimdall thought anyone would hear him. Freyr was a fertility god who now had all switches jammed in the ON position. Heimdall might have the stubbornness of a god, but he predicted that everyone else in a full block radius had long since passed out in the afterglow.
Freyr paused in his own disrobing to study him. "Could it be? Heimdall is . . . shy?" He considered that a moment. "Yes. Freyr finds shyness very cute."
"I am not cute!"
"Freyr would agree," Freyr muttered darkly. Before Heimdall could respond to that, Freyr had drifted back to the counter -- entirely too close for Heimdall's comfort. "Heimu has nothing to be concerned about. This body," he said, stroking Heimdall's bare calf, "is small and has no experience. However, Freyr is fully qualified in all positions, in his original area of expertise. As Heimu well knows."
"Tha,that's not it!" Heimdall argued, trembling.
"No? So if Heimdall is not, in fact, shy, then what is his problem?"
"My problem?" Heimdall croaked. Not even Freyr was this dense. Was he?
Or had a miracle occurred, was Freyr actually making sense for a change? For Heimdall couldn't fathom why his own treacherous body was responding so eagerly to every overture from Freyr. Heimdall had lost enough battles since the beginning of his exile to recognize all the signs of another failure in progress.
"I see, I see," Freyr was saying, holding his chin thoughtfully and nodding. "So you are issuing a challenge to Freyr's skills. Very well, then. Freyr accepts!"
"Don't accept! I mean, no, it's not a --!"
"Freyr finds resistance quite exciting," he breathed, leaning in. "Freyr also finds cooperation exciting. In fact, Freyr is not difficult to arouse at all -- luckily for Heimdall."
Heimdall gave up. He marshaled his last shreds of self-respect to flick out a single claw.
"I see. This is disrespect to your tutor, Higashiyama-kun?" Freyr purred, his hand closing around Heimdall's wrist. "Freyr-sensei will take great pleasure in punishing you for it. Most harshly."
"Guh." Heimdall swallowed. "Go to hell, Freyr-sensei," he rasped, as his legs parted of their own accord.
"Excellent," Freyr assured him, "Higashiyama-kun is a very bad boy indeed." He flicked open the button at Heimdall's waistband and smiled, and there was no mistaking the predatory intent in it this time.
Heimdall was having the oddest dream. In it, he was lying naked and thoroughly uncomfortable on the floor in the midst of an assortment of electronic parts while the sharp, pointed toe of a shoe was kicking him vigorously in the shoulder.
"Ow," he decided.
Heimdall opened his eye and blearily peered at what indeed turned out to be the pointed toe of a red, stiletto pump. These shoes were topped by shapely ankles, and a set of slim legs that extended vast distances to a daringly short skirt and untamed waves of blonde hair.
"Nooo," he moaned. "Not the other one."
"Heimu," she said warningly. "Are you peeping up Freya's skirt?"
"Go 'way," he groaned.
She tucked her fists cutely under her chin and shrieked, "Iyaaan! How very perverted of you. Although," she added in a more judicious tone, "it could actually be construed as a more normal interest."
"You know, they have a term for this here . . . what was it again?" Freya tapped her perfect pink lips with a perfect lacquered nail. "Ah, I remember! 'Shotacon,' isn't it?"
"Sexual interest in little boys," she explained brightly. "Onii-sama's hobbies have always been so varied." With that, she hopped over to the table to look into the box. "Oh, you have teacakes?"
"Wha? What, what are you talking about?" Heimdall sputtered, sitting up. "And I'm not a little boy!"
"Of course not, Heimu," she said pityingly. "I'm sure you must have been adequate."
Heimdall followed her gaze downward, and heat rushed to his face. He shoved aside the arm that had been draped across his waist as he scrabbled for a pile of circuit boards to dump into his lap.
He gulped, and chanced a look beside him. And he blanched -- suddenly recalling in full force everything he'd happily forgotten while sleeping. "Freyr! What the hell did you think you were doing?" he snarled. He grabbed up the nearest object, which turned out to be his other glove, and began to soundly pound the other over the head with it.
Suddenly Freyr sat up as well, a coil of cable dangling off his head. "Freyr is not fond of children," he announced automatically. "Also, he has a headache." Freyr peered at the owner of the glove: "Heimdall. What are you doing here?"
"I live here, you moron!" Heimdall shouted.
"But I don't," Freya said. "Good afternoon, Onii-sama!"
"Is that . . . could it be . . . ?" Freyr said, stunned. Then he burst into tears of joy. "Ah! How Freyr has longed for this day! Freyr's beloved, adorable little sister Freya-chan has come to visit him at last!"
Heimdall groaned in disgust.
"Freya is not visiting, she is investigating," Freya corrected him. "The news reported that very suspicious activity was disrupting the neighborhood in this area, but Loki said it wasn't worth looking into. He said it sounded like it was only Onii-sama 'enjoying himself at the expense of others again.'
"I see he was absolutely right," she burbled. "Isn't Loki brilliant?"
Freyr and Heimdall scowled and chorused: "No."
"But Freya is not impressed by the evidence," she said, waving a teacake. "At all. We can cross pastry decorator off Onii-sama's list of skills."
"Perhaps Freya-chan has sampled one, Freyr hopes?" Freyr suggested.
"Don't be ridiculous," she said witheringly. "Such sloppy work. Even someone half-blind would notice they're here."
"What's there?" Heimdall said.
"And," she added, pointing at the chocolate strips decorating one cake, "Onii-sama, what awful writing."
"I was distracted by a vision of beauty," Freyr muttered, wounded.
"What writing?" Heimdall said. He noticed Freya was studying him critically; he glared back at her.
"No no, not him!" Freyr said. "My lovely Mayura-chan."
"Oh, I see." She snorted. "Still, berkano and berkano reversed would already be overkill, and you didn't even finish the last one, so you got wunjo reversed. And you should have known it would have twice the impact on a god."
"Wait. Berkano, wunjo, those are runes," Heimdall pointed out, confused.
"Of course they are," Freyr said, airily. "Berkano, desire for a love affair combined the reverse for lowered inhibitions. Very simple."
"Only you wound up with arousal and intoxicated enthusiasm," Freya giggled, "Onii-sama, that's such a funny mistake."
"It was, it was," he agreed, laughing ruefully.
"And how fascinating!" Freya suddenly donned a thick pair of glasses and a mortarboard hat, and held up a pointer. "Clearly, accidents are the mother of invention," she lectured, pulling down a chart to illustrate. "As we can see, with two gods, the runes were being transmitted outward and reflected back, like sonar. Ping, ping, ping!"
At that, Gullinbursti in the corner clunked to life and began to grunt along happily.
"Hold it!" Heimdall shouted over the din. "You're not saying that this idiot used runes on teacakes?"
Both of them stopped to stare at him as though he were the idiot.
"Heimdall did not notice them?" Freyr said.
"But they're perfectly obvious," Freya said.
Individually these two were bad enough, but both at once? Heimdall seethed. "Why," he ground out, "would anyone look for runes on a teacake?"
"But does that mean you didn't eat it on purpose?" Freyr said, surprised. "Heimdall doesn't lust after Freyr's body? How odd and perverted that you should not."
"But weren't you already having odd and perverted sex?" Freya said. "Just yesterday, Thor said he and Loki had dropped over for a chat, and that --"
"That bastard kicked in our door!" Heimdall roared. "And just what did he say?"
"Well," Freya said thoughtfully, turning her pointer to Heimdall, "that makes it all the more amusing, you know. If Heimdall would study harder and stop depending on others for high-level rune magic, this wouldn't have happened at all."
"Freyr must agree," he said, nodding sagely. "It is amusing. And Heimdall is slow."
"Yeah. It's a riot," Heimdall said grimly. He mentally scribbled down another addition to his wish list.
How Heimdall would enjoy killing Freyr and Freya.
"Other than that, the theory seems to be sound, and the test subjects have proved that it's effective," Freya mused to herself, now ignoring them both. She slapped a fist to palm. "Yes. Freya will give it a shot." With that, she palmed a teacake and tripped lightly back to the door. "Sooo sorry to have disturbed you. Do carry on!"
"But, but, but . . . Freya-chaaan!" Freyr wailed, scrambling after her.
She turned and neatly hooked him under the chin with a high-kick. "Onii-sama, thank you for being a guinea pig. Perhaps I'll see you again some time," she said cheerfully and slid outside.
Freyr landed on the floor in a daze. "Freya-chan was in Freyr's apartment," he said, marveling. "If that could happen, next time, Freya-chan might even appear in Freyr's --"
Heimdall smacked him hard in the face with the glove before he could finish that thought. "It's my apartment, too, and I don't want you fetching her back."
"What's this?" Freyr said, bristling in offense. "You don't find Freyr's adorable little sister attractive?"
"Not as attractive as you seem to," Heimdall said, adding under his breath, "you freak." He hoisted himself to his feet in a clatter of electronics. "Anyway, this isn't exactly the ideal time for visitors -- haven't you even noticed that neither one of us is wearing any clothes?"
"Freyr's body is perfect in every respect, inspiring awe in all who view it," he said, striking an exhibitionist pose. "Heimdall's body is, is . . . er," he finished lamely, "of great scientific interest?"
Heimdall gloved him again. "Shut up," he said.
"Oof," Freyr said. "Freyr's perfect features may be marred if Heimdall continues to take out his own inadequacies upon him."
"Who are you calling inadequate?" Heimdall snapped. "'Freyr-sensei' was all over me a couple hours ago."
"That," Freyr said with great dignity, "was all Heimdall's fault."
"The teacakes." That reminder sent Heimdall darting for the table. "They're mine."
"No! Freyr's teacakes!" he wailed mournfully, clutching at Heimdall's ankle. "They are meant to spark romantic interest in my lovely Yamato Nadeshiko, not to incite lust in underaged, irritable dwarves!" Gullinbursti immediately began to squeal in sympathy.
"Oh, shut up, both of you." Heimdall massaged his aching, empty eye-socket and sought patience. Sanity was past hoping for, and he still had to live with this particular lunatic. "Fine. I'll make it up to you," he said. "You can have pity sex."
"Really?" And to Heimdall's horror, Freyr instantly looked bright-eyed and bouncing at the prospect.
"Later," Heimdall snapped, evading the grasping arms and planting his foot squarely in Freyr's face. "Right now, I have a headache."
Four cakes left, he thought, examining the box, but that would be more than enough. Freyr had packed each cake in this botched batch with quite a wallop, and, as Freya had pointed out, the effects were spectacular when one went down the gullet of a god.
Loki wouldn't be fooled for an instant by whatever Freya pulled. But that ass Narugami spent half his life raiding the pantry at Loki's home, didn't he? And he'd eat anything, wouldn't he?
Two birds, one teacake. Revenge, Loki, will be sweet.