Chapter Seven: Thor and Sif
The rest of the time Natalie and Loki spent with her family was spent talking and for Natalie, Loki, and Kevin, lots of anime marathons. Loki seemed to like Naruto a lot, though he wouldn't explain why. Natalie personally thought it might be because he identified with the main character, but kept that to herself.
By the time Sunday morning came around, Natalie's family had gotten used to Loki. He seemed to like them, though he was still resisting Mrs. McKenzie's determination to 'fatten him up' as she put it. The first time she said that, Loki's response was, "You are not planning on feeding me to something, correct?"
This did not deter Mrs. McKenzie in the slightest, not to mention her mother hen mode was on the entire time Loki was there.
As Natalie and Loki headed out, the last thing they heard was, "Natalie, try to get Loki to eat more!"
The minute they were at the end of the driveway out of earshot, Natalie burst out laughing. "Your mother is obsessed," Loki said dryly.
"True, but she has a point," Natalie giggled. "When I first met you I could practically see your ribs. That's not healthy."
"…Point," Loki admitted. "So we are headed back to your apartment now?"
"Yup, and then we need to go grocery shopping," Natalie said. "And classes start for me tomorrow. Do you know what you'll be doing while I'm gone?"
"I admit that I did not think of that," Loki said. "Do you have any suggestions?"
Natalie thought, then said, "Maybe you should debate science vs. magic with Tony. He seems like the type to be interested. I don't really know if it's a good idea for you to get a job, since the main job openings this time of year are in food service, and I don't think you'd enjoy that."
"Do you have a job?" Loki asked.
"I'm a teacher's assistant, so yes," Natalie said. "My parents pay for most of my expenses though."
The rest of the way home was pretty quiet, but as Natalie let Loki in, and closed the door, Loki asked, "Natalie, what do you think of Thor?"
"He's an idiot, but I think his heart is in the right place," Natalie said. "You're wondering if he is only pretending to love you, right?"
"I do not know how you do that, but yes," Loki said.
"I don't think Thor is actually capable of deceiving you that way- or anyone, for that matter," Natalie said. "He's far too open and impulsive to effectively trick people. I think that he really loves you, and that he does think of you as his brother, even though you're not related to him by blood."
"You do not think he hates me for being a Jotun?" Loki asked.
"I don't think Thor is capable of hating you, no matter what you are," Natalie said. "Maybe you should try to reconnect with him at some point; he obviously spends at least some time here, and I won't always be home. You should think it over, and maybe talk with him. I don't mind being there as a third party to help you two get over the issues that you have."
"I will think about it," Loki said.
Natalie smiled and said, "Good. Should we go grocery shopping now?"
"Does that mean more chocolate?" Loki asked.
"Fine, I'll buy you more chocolate," Natalie said in fond exasperation. "You are obsessed."
Loki smirked. "I know."
Grocery shopping was achieved with minimal hassle, despite the fact Natalie had to repeatedly check the cart to make sure Loki hadn't put in something she couldn't afford. She also made him put back a package of Oreos, not wanting to deal with an Oreo addiction on top of the chocolate addiction he had.
As they finished putting the groceries away, Natalie was about to ask what Loki wanted for dinner when her cell phone rang. She immediately picked up when she saw that it was Tony, and asked, "Tony, is something wrong?"
"Thor just arrived with some chick he called Sif, and said he needs you and Loki to come over, but he won't explain why," Tony said.
"We'll be there soon," Natalie said.
"Thanks," Tony said, and hung up.
Natalie looked at Loki, who had that emotionless look again. "I guess we'd better go," Natalie said.
Loki sighed and followed her out. They walked briskly to Stark Tower, and JARVIS let them in. They found the Avengers and a tall woman with black hair in the living room. The woman, who Natalie assumed was Sif, looked sour when she saw Loki, but said nothing.
"So what's going on?" Natalie asked.
"Queen Frigga has gone missing," Sif said. "I believe that Odin had something to do with it, but I can't confirm that. One of the Council members said something that made Thor think that Odin had banished Queen Frigga, and he enlisted my help in trying to figure out where Queen Frigga may have been taken. We have found nothing so far, and her handmaidens either don't know what happened or are not talking out of fear of Odin, who has become very unreasonable as of late."
"So how can we help?" Natalie asked. "Last I checked, Loki and I were 'never to darken Asgard again', according to Odin."
"We have a plan," Thor said. "True, it would be very dangerous for Loki to go back. However, Lady Natalie would not have the same problems, for she would be underestimated by everyone."
"What is the point you're trying to make?" Loki asked.
"We want Natalie to make Odin so angry he admits to where Queen Frigga is," Sif said. "The last display turned out the way she wanted it to; Odin unintentionally set Loki free and has no way of getting him back without losing face in Asgard. Thor suggested that if Natalie were to make Odin angry enough, he could slip in a few questions about Queen Frigga and Odin would, in a fit of rage, answer them."
"Why did you not ask Heimdall where Frigga is?" Loki asked. "Surely he can see her."
"He has been forbidden to speak of her whereabouts by Father, he told us that much," Thor replied. "That means Father knows where Mother is."
"Surprisingly perceptive of you," Loki said scathingly. "However, that scheme is insane. I do not see how making Odin want to kill Natalie will help us."
"We will protect her with our lives if need be, but we need her skill to get Queen Frigga back," Sif said. "She is your mother too, you realize."
"Loki, they may be right," Natalie said. "When people get really angry, they often say things they didn't mean to. If I can help, then I will."
"I cannot stop you, can I?" Loki asked.
"Probably not," Natalie admitted.
Loki sighed and said softly, "Be safe."
"I'll be as safe as I can," Natalie promised.
"We have to go before Father realizes we snuck out," Thor said, slightly apologetically.
"If anything happens, I hold you responsible," Loki warned him.
"We know," Sif said. She took Natalie's shoulder, and a minute later, a portal opened up and swallowed them.
After they crossed the Rainbow Bridge, Natalie asked, "Exactly how are you going to get me into the palace?"
"We'll pretend we found you sneaking in and are bringing you to Odin for trial," Sif said.
"Fine," Natalie said. She walked between Thor and Sif as they went to the palace, and as they got close, Thor took her left arm and Sif took her right. The guards didn't question them, though they appeared curious.
As they were walking through the halls, a young woman came up to them and said softly, "Prince Thor, Lady Sif, Queen Frigga has returned- but there is something different about her. Be careful."
"Thank you," Sif said.
The woman bowed and hurried off, and they continued on their way. "What do you make of this news?" Thor asked Natalie.
"Possibly an imposter," Natalie said. "Either that or she's been brainwashed. My first guess would be that someone is impersonating her, and I know how to tell."
"How?" Sif asked softly.
"Last time we met, Queen Frigga told me she was eternally grateful to me for what I did for Loki," Natalie said. "If she doesn't recognize me, or acts differently than she did before, then I think it's safe to say she's not Queen Frigga."
"What do we do if you're right?" Sif asked.
"Thor should act as if everything's normal, and that will buy me enough time to see if I'm right," Natalie said. "And since I can't exactly talk without getting noticed, I'll tug my right arm twice, which will look like I'm trying to get free, but it actually will mean that Frigga has been replaced. If I only tug once, it means it's the real Frigga."
"Good idea," Sif said. "We're here."
Natalie looked up, and saw the doors to the throne room. The guards looked at her, and one of them asked, "Prince Thor, isn't that the Midgardian girl?"
"She snuck in," Sif said. "We have brought her to the Allfather for questioning."
The guards opened the doors, and the three went in. Odin was there, and next to him was a woman who appeared similar to Frigga, but Natalie immediately noticed that her eyes were a different shade of blue; they were paler than before. She was also glaring directly at Natalie, and while she didn't say anything, she didn't have to. Natalie tugged her right arm twice as Odin boomed, "Thor, why have you brought this girl back?"
"She snuck in, Father," Thor replied. "Sif and I found her and brought her here."
"Natalie McKenzie, what have you to say for yourself?" Odin asked menacingly.
"I'd like to know where you're keeping the REAL Queen Frigga," Natalie said, smirking as a brief flash of panic flitted across the imposter's face. "It's quite obvious to me that the woman who sits next to you is an imposter. Her eyes are two shades lighter than the last time I saw her, and judging by the way she's looking at me, she's never seen me and probably hates me too. The real Queen Frigga knows perfectly well who I am, and she does not hate me. I ask again, what have you done with Queen Frigga?"
This had caused a stir among the court, and many were whispering and looking at the fake Frigga. Thor took the initiative, and shouted, "Father, what have you done with Mother? I demand to know!"
"I have done nothing to your mother," Odin replied, regaining control. "You would believe the word of a Midgardian over that of your own father?"
"I trust Lady Natalie," Thor replied, eliciting a surprised murmur from the spectators. "Her skills in spotting lies and deception are far greater than that of any mage, yet she has no magic. She can read Loki as one might a book, and you say she is wrong in her observation that the woman who sits next to you is an imposter?"
"Do not mention the Jotun runt to me!" Odin snarled.
"Is that what happened?" Natalie asked. "I'm guessing that Frigga mentioned Loki in your presence, and you had a temper tantrum and either locked her up or sent her off somewhere. Real mature, Odin. Just because someone mentions Loki doesn't make it okay for you to punish them. I get that you don't like him, but I don't get why you would punish your own wife for mentioning him. You are acting like a child, and I suggest you do something about the fact that Frigga is missing, before you lose all respect anyone in this realm has for you. Though judging by the looks on everyone's faces, you are on your way to losing not only respect, but your throne too. Maybe once we find Frigga we should let her take over your position; you don't seem to be doing a very good job of it."
"ENOUGH!" Odin roared.
Before he could get any further, though, Natalie smirked and asked slyly, "Ooh, did I make you mad? Jeez, you should take anger management classes or something; it's unbecoming for a politician of any stripe to act like a six-year-old child whose favorite toy was taken away. Maybe Frigga is better off away from you; you might be a bad influence. Which also means you're a bad influence on your children. Too bad Asgard doesn't have Social Services; you'd have been thrown in a cell and had your children taken from you a looooong time ago. I still have trouble believing that these people LISTEN to you; you're a horrible child abuser who probably locked his wife up simply for making him angry."
"I did NOT lock her up," Odin snarled.
"Oh? Then what did you do with her?" Natalie asked. "It better not involve harming her, because I will be more than happy to castrate you."
"I sent her to Jo-" Odin broke off, realizing what he had done, but too late.
"JOTUNHEIM!?" Thor shouted. "You sent Mother to Jotunheim simply for mentioning Loki in your presence? You have gone too far, Father!"
While Thor was shouting at Odin, Natalie said, "Sif, do you know how to get to Jotunheim?"
"Yes…. But what are you planning?" Sif asked warily. "The Jotun race do not take kindly to us."
"I am not one of you," Natalie said. "Help me get to Jotunheim, and let me do the talking if we meet someone. I'm well aware there is no love lost between your two races, but I'm human, not Aesir or Jotun. Let Thor distract Odin, and we'll get Frigga back."
Sif was obviously torn, but finally said, "Alright, but you're going to need a warmer outfit. The realm is solid ice and snow."
"Let's go find a coat, then," Natalie said.
Sif still looked unsure, but she led the way out of the throne room. No one except the guards outside noticed them leave, and they backed off when Sif glared at them. Sif led Natalie to a bedroom, and took two heavy fur coats out of the closet. She handed one to Natalie, and put the other one on as Natalie did the same. The two women left the palace, and Natalie followed Sif to the Bifrost, where they found Heimdall standing there as if he had been waiting for them. He said nothing; simply opening a portal for them to Jotunheim. They were swallowed up, and landed a minute later in front of what seemed to be an ice palace. Two blue giants stood in front of them, blocking the way. "What is it you want?" one of them asked warily.
"We have learned that Frigga, Queen of Asgard, was sent here, and we wish to bring her back," Natalie said politely. "Do you know where she is?"
"Lady Frigga is in a guarded room as per the request of Odin," the guard said, sounding bitter. "We would gladly hand her over, but we have orders from our king. I will take you to him."
"Thank you, we appreciate your help," Natalie said. She followed the giant, and Sif reluctantly followed. Natalie noticed Sif's hand kept twitching towards her sword, and sighed, then grabbed her right hand and said quietly, "Stop twitching, they'll think you're going to attack them."
Sif sighed and settled down. Natalie let go of the woman's hand as they reached what she assumed was the throne room. The guard with them knocked, and a male voice replied, "Enter."
The guard opened the door, and went in, followed by Natalie and Sif. The guard went down on one knee, and said, "My King, these two have come for the Lady Frigga."
"How did they know?" the giant on the throne asked.
"I do not know," the guard said.
Natalie took a step forward, bowed, and said, "I mocked Odin until he became so angry he accidentally revealed Queen Frigga's location. Then I convinced Lady Sif to bring me here and get Queen Frigga back."
The king eyed her, and finally turned to the guard. "Send someone to bring Queen Frigga here," he commanded.
"Yes, My King," the guard said. He went to the door guards and spoke in another language, and one of them left.
The king looked at Natalie, and said, "You are not Aesir."
"No, I am human, from Midgard," Natalie replied. "Lady Sif and Prince Thor brought me to Asgard in hopes that I could get the truth of Queen Frigga's location from Odin. I know your people and those of Asgard do not get along, and I apologize for bringing Lady Sif. I would have come alone, but I did not have any idea of how to get here."
"You are unusual," the king said thoughtfully. "Most look at my people with disgust, yet you do not."
"There is no reason why I should," Natalie replied. "I would be a hypocrite to be disgusted by you and not Loki."
"Loki?" the king asked sharply. "How do you know of him?"
"He's my boyfriend," Natalie said. "And he has been banished to Midgard by Odin, so he lives with me now."
"What is your name?" the king asked.
"My name is Natalie McKenzie," Natalie said, just as the doors opened and the guard came back with Frigga. Frigga spotted Natalie, and asked incredulously, "Natalie? Why are you here?"
"Thor brought me to Asgard to make Odin mad enough to tell us where you were, I succeeded, and then I convinced Sif to help me bring you back," Natalie said cheerfully. "And no offense, but we should get back before Thor comes looking for us. I think he'll probably notice we're missing soon."
Frigga looked at the king, who said, "You are free to go, Queen Frigga. Lady Natalie, thank you for your politeness while in my realm."
"You're welcome," Natalie said, bowing. The king inclined his head, and Natalie left with Sif and Frigga.
When they returned to Asgard, they went straight to the palace, and went to the throne room. They heard the shouting from the other end of the hall, and Natalie sighed. "This ought to be fun…" she said sarcastically as the guards let them in.
They found Thor still shouting at Odin, who was shouting back just as angrily. The others who had been in the room had long since vacated it, as had the woman impersonating Frigga. Natalie took off the coat she was wearing and hung it on one of the chairs in the room, then went over to Thor and Odin, and shouted, "OI!"
Surprisingly, they both stopped shouting, and Thor looked at Natalie questioningly. "Sif and I got Frigga back, so can you stop shouting and take me home?" she asked.
Thor looked over at his mother, who said, "Thor, take Natalie back and stay until I come for you."
"Very well, Mother," Thor said. "I am glad you are safe."