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Rosewater and Cayenne

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Loki looked out over the coffee shop, studying the assembled. It was almost time for finals at the university, and there were students everywhere, hidden behind computers and thick books. Loki couldn't decide if he envied or pitied them. High school life was beyond boring, even as a senior, and every day that Loki spent there was a waste of his time. On the other hand, the college workload was less than appealing, even though Loki knew that if it were him, there would be no chance that he would be slaving away at this late a date.

Despite how sunny it was outside, the cold was still seeping in through the doors and windows; Loki pulled his hoodie closer around himself, somehow unable to get warm despite the coffee in front of him. Then again, that might have been because the coffee was almost gone, bits of a scone sitting forlornly next to it.

Loki sighed, looking down at his Moleskine. His writing wasn't coming along, not as he'd hoped. Perhaps it was time for a change of scenery.

Before he could even reach for his backpack, though, someone was approaching. It was Sif, two cups of coffee in her hand; Loki looked around for Thor or the rest of Thor's friends, but they were absent. Sif looked as cheerful as she ever did- well, as cheerful as she ever did without a baseball bat in her hand; her hair was pulled up into the high ponytail she preferred, swinging slightly as she walked, the color of her thick, warm sweater bringing out her eyes.

Not that Loki thought about her eyes.

"Loki," she said, smiling. "It's good to see you."

"I was just going, actually," he said.

She put one of the coffees down in front of him, setting the other one across from him and sitting down. "Now you can't go. You have coffee to drink."

He looked at his backpack, then back at the coffee. It was cold outside, and another cup of coffee sounded so appealing. "I suppose I can stay for a little while," he said. The company may or may not have had anything to do with his decision.

He pushed his notebook to the side and pulled the coffee towards him. He held it in his hands for a moment, feeling the warmth radiate through his palms. The baristas here were not particularly known for their latte art, but someone was getting better; there was a little snowflake drawn in the foam in his mug.

He finally picked it up, lifting it to his mouth. It smelled good, though unfamiliar; he took a little sip, wary of burning his mouth.

It was a good thing Loki managed to put the coffee back on the table despite the way he choked, nearly doing a spit-take.

"What is this?" Loki managed to sputter.

"Cinnamon, cardamom, and cayenne," she said. She frowned. "Why, don't you like it?"

"Wasn't expecting it," he said, coughing.

"Do you want to trade?" Sif asked. "Mine is rosewater and mint."

Loki really hated to admit weakness, but there was a line; he made a beckoning motion, and she switched the mugs. Sif's mug had a sun in it, completely with slightly lopsided sunbeams. It was much, much more to his taste, thankfully. Loki couldn't decide whether or not she'd been trying to embarrass him, but she cheerfully drank the intensely spicy coffee without choking.

He really didn't know what she thought of him at all, honestly. The rest of Thor's friends, Volstagg in particular, had never really hidden their distaste for Loki; they acted as if it were harmless to make fun of him, as if a little bit of backpatting and reassurance that they were joking made it acceptable. They were older, though, older than Thor, but Sif was younger, only a freshman at the university. Sif had always been more sympathetic towards him; she didn't exactly stand up for him all that often, but she didn't mock him either.

"What are you writing?" Sif said, nodding at the notebook on the table.

"Nothing," Loki said quickly, covering it with his hands.

"Is it your journal?" she asked.

"No," he said. "Just a notebook."

"Can I see it, then?" she said.

Loki frowned, thinking it over, not quite sure what to do. His writing was all good, of course, and he'd shown it to people before. Something about this situation made it different, and he wasn't sure why or how.

"You don't have to if you don't want to," she said, though she looked a little disappointed.

Loki finally opened the notebook, flipping through it. "Here," he said, flattening the notebook against the table, turning it around to slide it to her. "You can read this one."

Sif moved her coffee to the side, taking the notebook. Instantly he rethought his decision, but he didn't say anything; snatching it back would be far worse than her reading it. She didn't say anything as she read, just smiled a little smile that Loki couldn't decipher the meaning of.

"It's good," she said when she looked up, passing the notebook back to him. "I like it."

"Thank you," Loki said; he thought he might be blushing, but he certainly hoped not.

Sif picked up her coffee mug, sipping it slowly. She leaned in, giving him a conspiratorial look. "So, who's it about?"

"What?" Loki said.

"The girl in the poem," Sif said. "Who is she?"

"She's just a girl," he said. "I didn't have anybody particular in mind when I wrote it."

"Come on," she cajoled. "All great poems are about beautiful women."

"Really, it's nobody," Loki said, shaking his head.

Sif smiled. "That's too bad."

Loki was still boggling over that statement when she stood up. "I think I need some sugar," she said.

"What?" Loki said.

"For my coffee," she said. "It's not sweet enough." Before Loki could spend too much time feeling like a total idiot, she leaned over, kissing him on the cheek. "Be right back."

Loki stared after her as she left.

He had about three minutes to figure out what was happening here.

He didn't have a hope in the world.