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Trump Card: Strength

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“You want me to do what , mate?” Loki stares blankly at Luka.

“Don’t act like that, kid,” the other man sighs, leaning back against the wall, “It’s just. You’re close to Bayonetta, right?”

“Define close .”

“Look, if you don’t want to help me, just say so,” Luka shakes his head, mumbling under his breath, “Knew better than to ask a bratty kid for help.”

Loki holds his hands up defensively, “Hey, wait,” he shifts awkwardly, “So you just want me to? What? Pretend you’re Bayonetta and…” he has to look away, feeling his ears heat up, “ Flirt with you?”

Luka can hear the disbelief still in Loki’s voice and he frowns, “Don’t get me wrong, kid! I’m great with the women but… Bayonetta is a witch! You know more about all this crazy shit than me. In all your godly knowledge,” he unciates the word with finger quotes before throwing his hands up,  “you gotta know, I don’t know, some secret Umbran seduction ritual that will drive her wild!”

Loki crosses his arms, face still expressionless, “One thing first, mate.”

Luka’s shoulders slump, “What?”

“I’m not a kid .” Loki growls.

Luka relaxes, “Sure, whatever, kid.”

Loki puffs out his cheeks but surrenders. He puts his arms behind his head and saunters over to take a seat at the table in the middle of the room.  He kicks his feet up onto the table and pulls out a card to fidget with. There’s a slight pause where Luka watches him, still leaned up against the wall across the room. Bayonetta and Jeanne wouldn’t be home from killing angels for at least a couple more hours.

“So…,” Loki starts, keeping Luka in suspense, “You got the hots for a witch? More than just the normal perverted ones?”

He rolls his eyes, “You wouldn’t understand. It’s an adult thing.”

Loki hisses and a card flies past Luka’s face and embeds itself into the wall right next to his ear. A few stands of his hair float to the ground. He flinches but is able to keep himself from cursing aloud.

“Hey, you’re gonna have to tell Jeanne why there’s a hole in her kitchen wall.”

“Who even let you in here?” Loki already has another card in his hands.

“Bayonetta gave me a spare key.”

“You’re a horrible liar, mate.” He uses his card to motion to the breeze coming from the pried open window in the room behind them.

“I thought you said you were gonna help me. Unless you’re as clueless about women as you look,” Luka sneers.

“Mate, I bet I’ve swooned Bayonetta more than you.”

Luka stares, mouth slightly agape before he quickly regains himself, “I’ve ‘swooned’ a ton of women!”

“And how many of em were witches?”

Silence.

Loki laughs, “Okay, okay. Fine. I’ll give you some pointers,” he watches Luka grab out his pen and journal and shakes his head with a smirk, “Witches are apex predators, mate. They can smell fear, so don’t show it, but never let your guard down. You should be scared of em, got it?”

Luka looks up and nods. Loki leans his elbow on the table, spinning a card on its corner.

“Don’t act like a lost pup neither but she’ll be able to read your face as plain as day, mate.” He pauses and sighs, “This is dumb. Just be yourself without being a total idiot.”

Luka frowns, “I’ve been trying that!”

Loki is shuffling his deck now,  “No, mate, you haven’t.” He doesn’t look up but Luka crosses his arms. Loki falls silent, holding his breath, before he adds, “Around Bayonetta you try too hard. Act like you are now.”

He rolls his eyes, “And what is so good about me right now?”

Icy eyes glance up before shooting back to his cards, “You’re relaxed. Funny. And you aren’t wasting time staring at tits.”

“Ain’t not tits to stare at, kid.”

“Hey! I said

“You aren’t a kid, I know !” Luka pushes himself away from the wall and walks up the table, “But really. Do you see me? What is there for Bayonetta to like?” He motions to himself in over exaggeration.

Loki remains silent, just watching Luka.

“See. That’s what I thought. Nothing,” his shoulders fall in defeat, “I thought you could, I don’t know, do something with those powers of yours. Shit, I’m so stupid sometimes...”

Loki slides a card across the table. Luka raises an eyebrow and flips it over. It shows what looks like a witch using her hair to summon a demon.

“Strength,” Loki says, “When upright it means...well strength but also courage and compassion. Something you have an abundance of, mate,” Luka opens his mouth to object but Loki keeps talking, “When reversed, the same card means weakness or specifically: self-doubt.”

Luka furrows his brows while analyzing the card. “You said it meant courage?” He laughs and it sounds bitter. Loki flinches.

“You carried me all the way to the top of Fimbulventr. That’s courageous, mate.”

“Sure, whatever you say, your holiness…”

“What I’m saying, mate, is turn yourself upright. It’s two sides of the same card. Stop trying to change yourself, or whatever,” Loki’s voice trails off.

Luka is silent for a long time before he hands the card back to Loki. “Didn’t take you for the philosophical type.”

“Fuck off, mate. I’m trying to help.”

Luka laughs and it’s slightly more wholehearted than the previous mood. “So I’m strength, am I?”

Loki’s face burns, “Maybe practice the ‘control’ part of the card.”