Chapter Eight: School
Frigga smiled at him as he left with Natalie. The trip home was uneventful, and soon they were back in Tony's living room. It was dark out, and Natalie asked, "What time is it?"
"9:30 PM, Miss McKenzie," JARVIS said.
Apparently JARVIS had also told the others about their return, because Loki, Tony, Steve, and Bruce all came running in a minute later. Clint and Natasha were apparently working again. "How'd it go? Is Frigga alright?" Tony asked before Loki could open his mouth.
"She is fine," Thor said. "Natalie forced my father to confess that he had sent her to Jotunheim, and Natalie then convinced Sif to take her there and bring Mother back."
"Where were you?" Loki demanded.
"He was having a shouting match with Odin," Natalie said. "Frigga told Thor to take me back and stay until she comes to get him."
"You seriously took SIF to Jotunheim with you?" Loki asked.
"Yes, and I told her to let me do the talking," Natalie said. "Their king seemed to like me."
Loki shook his head. "You amaze me sometimes," he said. "Shall I take you home?"
"Yes please, I have class tomorrow," Natalie said. "Did you figure out what you're going to do?"
"Reindeer Games will be here, learning how to use the phone I'm going to give him," Tony said cheerfully. "What time will you be done?"
"I'll probably get home around 3," Natalie said. "Should I call when I get out?"
"Sure," Tony said. "I'll send Reindeer Games back when you call."
"Thanks," Natalie said.
"Do you need me to call a cab?" Tony asked.
"Nah, there's so many streetlights that we should be fine," Natalie said.
"Or I could teleport you," Loki commented.
"That works too," Natalie said. "I'm tired."
Loki wrapped his arms around her, and a minute later they were in the living room. "Bedtime?" Loki asked, watching Natalie yawn with amusement.
"Yup," Natalie said. "I'm going to get changed in my room; you can use the bathroom."
"Alright," Loki said. He went to Natalie's room with her, and took his pajamas, then left. Natalie closed the door and changed into her pajamas.
The next morning: "Loki, don't smash the alarm clock," Natalie said sleepily, feeling Loki jump when her alarm went off. She reached over and turned it off, then sleepily got up and gathered up some clothes before going to take a shower.
When she got out, she found that Loki was waiting in the kitchen, and that he had set out breakfast for both of them. She kissed his cheek and said, "Thanks."
"You are welcome," Loki said. "What time is your class?"
"It's at ten, but first I have to get there, which takes a while," Natalie explained. She started eating, and when she was finished, she brushed her teeth and went to grab her backpack. She put shoes on, and before she left, she kissed Loki and said, "Have fun with Tony!"
"…Why do I feel like you are mocking me?" Loki asked.
"Must be your paranoia kicking in," Natalie said, and headed out.
The ride to the campus was uneventful, and Natalie met up with her friend Amelia on the way into the building. "Natalie, how was your break?" Amelia asked.
"Fun," Natalie said. "I spent most of it trying to turn my boyfriend into an otaku. My brother Kevin helped when I went home for the weekend."
"You have a BOYFRIEND? Why didn't I know about this?" Amelia demanded.
"I met him over break," Natalie said. "And I believe you were in Maryland during break, which is why you didn't know about my boyfriend. I'll tell you more at lunch; class is starting in five minutes."
Amelia squeaked, and they ran for the classroom, which thankfully wasn't too far away.
At lunch, Natalie got swarmed by her friends, who started asking questions at high speed. "Guys, I can't answer ten questions at once!" Natalie said. "One at a time!"
"What's his name?" Amelia asked.
"Loki," Natalie said.
"How did you two meet?" Natalie's friend Marie asked.
"I found him," Natalie said. "And I noticed he was sick, so I brought him home with me, and things kind of spiraled off from there. And he's living with me now."
"Already?" Marie asked doubtfully.
"He didn't have anywhere else to go, and you know I've always wanted a roommate," Natalie said, shrugging. "He came with me when I went to see my parents, and my dad actually managed to refrain from the 'you will die from sharp pointy things' speech."
"Seriously?" Amelia asked.
"Yup," Natalie said. "My brother is helping me convert Loki to the wonderful religion that is anime."
"Natalie, you're addicted," her friend Katie said.
"Hey, at least I'm not addicted to drugs or smoking," Natalie said indignantly.
"Loki's not addicted to anything, right?" Amelia asked.
"Other than chocolate? Nope," Natalie said. "He's a SERIOUS chocoholic though."
Amelia and the others giggled. "What school does he go to?" Katie asked.
"He's not a student; he's looking for a job," Natalie said. "Considering his…. Background, I don't think he'll be going to college."
"Abusive family?" Marie asked. Like the other girls, she was in the psych program.
"Mainly his dad, but both parents had favoritism issues," Natalie said. "His mom is trying to mend bridges, but his dad kicked him out, which is part of why he's living with me."
"So he has a sibling?" Katie asked.
"Older brother," Natalie said. "I met him, and he's a complete idiot, though he's nice enough in person. He really cares about Loki, though, which is more than I can say for their parents. His brother was basically the golden boy, while Loki was shoved to the side. And this may or may not be related to his home situation, but if you ever meet him, I figured you should know that Loki has PTSD."
The others looked horrified, and finally Amelia said, "That's awful. Must have been really hard growing up."
"Yeah," Natalie said. "He seems a little happier than when I met him, though, so I'm hoping he'll start opening up more."
"Where is he now?" Amelia asked.
"He's with a friend, they're probably talking about science and technology," Natalie said. "His friend is really into that."
"How old is he?" Katie asked.
"He's my age," Natalie said. "Twenty-two."
After that the conversation turned to more mundane things, like class and vacations. When Natalie left the dining hall, it was almost time for her second class. Katie was the only one of her friends in that class with her, which was good because Katie was the quietest of her friends. Amelia and Marie tended to gossip while the teacher wasn't looking.
It was 2:15 when Natalie left campus, and she called Tony's number. "Natalie?" she heard when he picked up.
"Hi Tony, can you let Loki know I'm on my way home?" Natalie asked.
"Sure, he's playing with his new phone," Tony said. "I'll tell him to head over. Don't be too surprised if Thor shows up too; he's following Reindeer Games around like a lost puppy for some reason."
"Oh joy," Natalie said dryly. "Talk to you soon."
"Yup, bye," Tony said, and hung up.
Natalie got off the subway and made her way home from there. When she got back to the apartment, she heard from inside, "Thor, if you do not put Mjolnir away, I will let Natalie castrate you."
Natalie went in, saw Thor and Loki, noticed Thor was holding his hammer, and asked sternly, "Thor, why is that THING in my apartment?"
"I do not go anywhere without Mjolnir," Thor said, as if it was obvious.
"New rule: Mjolnir does not come to my house," Natalie said. "Why did you give your hammer a name, by the way?"
"All great weapons need names," Thor proclaimed.
"It's a HAMMER. I do not see how that is a 'great weapon', but whatever," Natalie said. "Why are you here in the first place?"
"I am trying to convince my brother to forgive me," Thor replied.
"What did you do to him THIS time?" Natalie asked wearily.
"I may have accidentally thrown Mjolnir at him…." Thor said. "But I was half-asleep at the time."
"Note to self; Thor is not a morning person," Natalie muttered. "Loki, are you okay?"
"I'm fine, he didn't manage to hit me," Loki said. "He hasn't been listening to me when I say that, however, which is why he followed me home."
"So Thor and his pet hammer are here because he doesn't listen?" Natalie clarified.
"Exactly," Loki said, snickering.
A thought occurred to Natalie, and she smirked, then asked, "Thor, when's your birthday?"
"The twentieth of May, why?" Thor asked, confused.
"I have an idea for a present," Natalie said. "Loki, c'mere a minute."
Puzzled, Loki came over, and Natalie whispered in his ear, "We are so getting Thor a leash for Mjolnir for his birthday."
Loki started cracking up, and Natalie did the same. They were soon laughing too hard to stand up, and collapsed on the couch, while Thor looked at them in puzzlement. "What is so funny?" he asked.
"You'll see on your birthday," Natalie giggled. "Loki, should we get Tony in on this?"
"Yes, definitely," Loki snickered. "What color?"
"Hot pink," Natalie said- and they collapsed laughing again.
When they finally calmed down, Natalie asked, "Loki, when's your birthday?"
"April first," Loki said.
"That's this Saturday," Natalie said happily. "What do you want for your birthday?"
"Movie night with popcorn?" Loki suggested.
"Sure, it's your birthday," Natalie said. "I was more thinking along the lines of presents though."
"Books," Loki said.
"I'll see what I can find," Natalie said. She suddenly heard giggling outside her door, and said, "I think my friends came over to meet you. Thor, can you PLEASE put the hammer on the floor or something?"
Thor sulkily set Mjolnir down next to the couch as Natalie went to the door. She found Amelia, Marie, and Katie outside, about to knock. "Seriously?" she asked. "You three followed me home, right?"
"Yup!" Marie said happily. "I heard the name Thor; is that your boyfriend's older brother?"
"Yes, and he followed Loki home," Natalie sighed. "I suppose you can come in- though I am curious as to when you're planning to get homework done."
"It's not due till Thursday," Amelia pointed out.
"Fine, come in," Natalie sighed. She let her friends in, and closed the door, then went back to Loki. "Amelia, Marie, Katie, this is my boyfriend, Loki," she said. "And his older brother, Thor. Guys, these are my friends from the psychology program, Amelia, Marie, and Katie- aka the Giggle Sisters."
"You three are related?" Thor asked, confused.
"No, that's just Natalie's nickname for us because we're such close friends," Amelia said. "It's nice to meet both of you. Uh… what's with the hammer over there?"
"Thor's pet hammer," Natalie said. "He's rather obsessed with it."
Loki snickered, and Natalie's friends giggled. Thor looked disgruntled, and said, "Natalie still does not trust me around breakable items."
"With good reason," Loki said, rolling his eyes. "As I recall-"
He was cut off by Thor saying desperately, "Must you remind me of that constantly, Brother? It is bad enough that Natalie will never let me forget I broke her window; must you do it too?"
"Yes, Thor, simply because I enjoy the look on your face every time someone brings that up," Loki replied. "Perhaps we need to get a leash for you as well…."
"While this is highly amusing, exactly how long are you planning on staying, Thor?" Natalie asked.
"I should be leaving soon," Thor said. "Tony said he would buy more Pop-Tarts today."
"You like Pop-Tarts?" Natalie asked.
"He's obsessed, last I checked," Loki said dryly.
"Ugh," Natalie said. "I've never liked those things."
"There will be more for me then," Thor replied. "I will take my leave, but I will be back!"
"If you bring Mjolnir next time I will not let you in the house," Natalie warned him.
"Oh, very well," Thor said sulkily. He glared at Loki when he snickered, and headed out.
"We should go too Natalie," Amelia said. "Thanks for introducing us."
"Sure, have a nice night and I'll see you Thursday," Natalie said. She let her friends out and closed the door, then looked at Loki. "What do you want for dinner tonight?" she asked. "Besides chocolate?"
"Anything is fine," Loki said. "I like all your cooking."
Natalie smiled and said, "I'll make chicken quesadillas then."
The next morning, Natalie had an idea, and when she reached campus early for her TA position, she went to a place where she wouldn't be overheard and called Tony. When he picked up, Natalie said, "Tony, Loki's birthday is Saturday; any interest in helping me plan a surprise party?"
"His birthday is April Fool's Day? That's ironic," Tony commented. "What did you have in mind?"
"I can do all the cooking and bake the cake, I just need someone to keep him busy," Natalie said. "Also, my apartment isn't big enough to hold all of your friends, so if it's not too much trouble, can we do it at your place?"
"What time?" Tony asked.
"2 in the afternoon; Loki said he wants to watch movies all night for his birthday, so I figured we could do a late lunch party," Natalie said.
"Sounds fine; should I order pizza?" Tony asked.
"That might actually be a good idea if it's not too much trouble; I'm not used to cooking in bulk," Natalie admitted. "I'll make the cake though."
"Great!" Tony said.
"I have to go, but call me if you think of anything else," Natalie said.
"Will do," Tony said, and hung up. Natalie smiled and went to the classroom.