Jane knelt by Loki's side but Loki waved her off, his vision spinning. Blood still dripped to the floor from his cut arm and the effects of blood loss were compounding with his exhaustion. He forced himself to sit up anyway and realized he was in his Jötunn form. "You, you are not scared of me?" he asked Jane next to him.
Jane was caught off guard by how different he looked and took off her denim jacket. "If you meant any harm you've had ample chance to do something." She tried to put the jacket on Loki's wound but he jerked back, eyeing her like a wild animal would. "Asgardian or Jötunn, I'm going to assume you need blood to live and you've lost a lot. We need to stop the bleeding," Jane challenged.
Warily, Loki held out his arm and let Jane wrap the jacket around the delayed wound.
"That was so cool!" Darcy called as she got out from under the counter and stood up. She helped Angborn to his feet, blushing, and then stepped back once Angborn had a grip on the counter. "You were all like I'm not scared, I mean he looked scared. And you made him leave! You beat a whatcha call it? Eden God?"
"Elder God," Loki corrected quietly.
Darcy didn't seem to hear him. "In all the stories I read a prince is supposed to be the strongest and warrior and you were! You're real clever. You even tricked him! Oh, I bet he doesn't like getting played."
"Does she always do this?" Loki asked Jane.
"You get used to her," Jane promise. His appearance is scary compared to a normal human but he didn't seem like a monster to her. Not after how he had just fought. Nothing is black and white, Jane reminded herself, and Loki seemed to be many shades of gray. "Darcy!"
"Huh, what?" Darcy stopped babbling.
"Go into the bathroom and get the first aid kit," Jane spoke calmly. "This doesn't look like it's going to stop bleeding anytime soon. I need real bandages."
Loki's expression became somber and he pulled his arm closer to himself. "Delayed wounds have a curse interwoven with the strike. Until I nullify it, it won't stop bleeding. No, I'm not taking any more of your energy," he added to Angborn without even needing to turn around.
"I didn't say a word," Angborn complained.
"You didn't have to," Loki promised. He pointed to the sofa, "sit."
Angborn grumbled something as he limped over and sat.
Loki waved his uninjured hand and Angborn's armor shifted to gold light and vanished. Angborn jumped a bit but relaxed when he realized Loki was simply phasing his armor – shifting it to another dimension so Angborn could look at his wounds better.
"Darcy," Jane repeated without looking up from where she worked on Loki's arm.
"I'm going," Darcy promised and took off.
Darcy opened the cupboard door underneath the sink and looked around until she found the white box with the red plus. She took it out and stood, kicking the door shut. As she did so she caught sight of her reflection and looked over herself. Not too crazy of a mess all things considered.
Then she saw it. She was still wearing her headset. Slowly she reached up and took it off. It was undamaged and the little red light that showed it was recording was still on.
"It's still on," she whispered. "I never turned the recording off. I just – I just got all of that on video. I just got all of that on video! Jane!"
The temperature rose as Loki shifted back to his Asgardian form. He sat on the floor, focusing his magic to one hand and setting that on the poorly wrapped arm in an attempt to nullify the curse. Angborn was checking his own injuries but most had stopped bleeding. Jane was standing near the counter, letting him work unhindered. What an absolutely insane day. She picked up Darcy's Taser and put it in the drawer.
Jane jumped suddenly at a crash and heard Darcy shout, "I'm okay!"
She got so clumsy when she was hyper.
A moment later Darcy zipped in. "Hey! Hey! You won't believe it!" She tossed the first aid kit to Loki with one hand and waved her headset around with the other. "I never turned this off! I just got all that on video! Where's my laptop?"
Angborn cleared his throat and motioned to a laptop on the ground, "is that a laptop?"
"Yes!" The screen was badly cracked when Darcy opened it and it was clearly unsalvageable but the headset's program still recorded. She moved the mouse and clicked the button to end the recording and then closed the program and ejected the headset's flash drive from the laptop, waving it around. "I think it's all here."
At Angborn's puzzled look Jane added, "She started recording just before you two got here." She raised her voice, "I think SHIELD will want that," she held out her hand and Darcy gave her a sad look. "Before you post it on YouTube."
Darcy huffed and handed it over. She reached to the silver chain on her neck and pulled it out from under her shirt and over her head. On it was another flashdrive. "I better back up my laptop now considering it's so dead." She put it in her laptop and brought up her program to transfer the information from laptop to flashdrive.
Angborn leaned back against the sofa, but was unwilling to relax even though the adrenaline had faded enough for the pain to be felt again.
"Angborn," Loki called to him.
Angborn glanced his way, "yes sir."
Loki slashed his hand across the air, emerald sparkles trailing from his fingertips, "go to sleep."
Angbon's eyes closed and he blacked out on the sofa.
"Do you have a spare room where I can lay him down in?" Loki asked Jane politely.
"Um, yeah," Jane stood. "There's a guest room next to Darcy where you can put him. You…"
"I don't need the sleep," Loki promised. The scratches on his cheek were still red. He shrugged off his duster with one arm, tossing it onto the table. Slowly, he rolled up the blood-soaked sleeve and opened the first aid kit to get the bottle of alcohol disinfectant. This is mortifying, he thought to himself. First, I have to get saved by a mortal and now I have to bandage myself up like one.
Jane couldn't tell if the scratches on his arm were still bleeding or not. The wound was deep though, and the blood around it was black. It looked like he had been burned as well as cut. She didn't offer to help; she had a feeling Loki didn't want any from a mortal.
Loki stood and leaned against the table. Then he poured the alcohol along the wound, washing away the blood but couldn't stifle a small curse of pain. He closed his eyes, trying to block the pain as the alcohol bubbled and burned away the bacteria in the wound. Ow.
The pain must be immense, Jane thought, how is he still on his feet? It must have taken a long time to build up such a high immunity, Jane realized suddenly, and that meant he would have had to spend a lot of time in pain.
"You're correct, it takes practice," Loki replied quietly, setting the alcohol on the table and picking up the gauze. "I've been in worse shape." He wrapped the gauze around the wound neatly.
Jane gave him a blank look.
"Your question," Loki explained, "you nearly shouted the thought at me." He pulled the bandage tight with his teeth.
"You can read minds?" Jane demanded.
Loki snorted and ran his fingers along the bandages as they began to turn red again. "Hardy. All mages have some capacity to mindspeak. I am near you and you shouted that thought so it was hard to miss. Humans are the only race without mages so you have very few telepaths, if any. Because of that, you have no discipline with broadcasting your thoughts."
Darcy was staring at him. Loki ignored her. He closed his eyes again. Well, he noted, I've got enough blood left, but Angborn's heartbeat is still slowing.
He walked over to where Angborn slept and waved a hand over the floor. All of the blood on the floor – all of Angborn's blood – seemed to ripple and vanished. After a moment Jane saw Angborn's veins turn red as his blood was returned to him.
"How did you do that?" Jane asked.
"I just purified the blood and returned it," Loki checked Angborn's pulse with his magic and was pleased that it had stabilized. "That way he won't need a transfusion. His blood is O- and neither of you have that type."
"Asgardians have O type blood to?"
"All of the races of the Realms have the same eight blood types and they're all red. Transfusion between races – like he's Asgardian and I'm Jötunn – aren't encouraged since complications tend to rise, but they can work if needed as long as it's the same time." Loki shrugged at her baffled look. "All the races were made by the Elder Gods. Over ninety percent of our DNA is identical. Where is that room?"
"This way," Jane was unsure if Loki wanted help, but he ignored her and simply picked Angborn up as Angborn had him not long ago. Jane led him down the hallway opened the door for Loki to carry Angborn in and pulled the sheets back.
Loki laid Angborn down and pulled the sheets up. He whispered something and waved a hand above Angborn's face. Jane saw the air shimmer oddly as Loki's sleep spell took effect. Right now, Angborn needed rest and that sleep spell would ensure he got some.
He doesn't want to talk to me, Jane noticed. I don't blame him all that much I guess, it must be weird being so, so mortal compared to how he usually is. Is Loki embarrassed because I'm seeing him when he's weak?
Jane warily went back into the kitchen and looked at the remaining mess. The rest of the blood, Loki's blood suddenly vanished, and she didn't have to turn around and look at Loki to guess where it went. The glass wall that had been destroyed suddenly filled in, freezing over as a plane of ice. Jane didn't turn around to look at Loki though she was sorely tempted.
Her eyes focused instead on the cell phone laying on the floor by her destroyed monitor station. It was an encrypted line straight to SHIELD. Should she call them? No, she decided. It would be better for everyone if she waited until her guests left before calling SHIELD. It was not like they were going to stay here any longer then they had to. "Do you want something to eat? It's about dinner time?"
"No," Loki said quietly. "We'll be gone by sunrise."
Jane finally turned around to see him disappearing up the stairs that led to the roof. She didn't push it.
Jane wasn't exactly sure why she woke up but she realized she was awake. She lay in bed for a minute and stared at the plain white ceiling. He throat hurt. I might as well get a drink since I'm awake. The clock on her nightstand said it was a little after 4am.
The nights got cold in the desert so she put on her slippers before she headed for the kitchen. On her way there she took a detour and quietly opened the door to the guest room. Angborn slept on. She closed the door silently, and went into the kitchen. After a moment of rifling she found a cup and filled it up. The cool water soothed her throat.
Jane paused as she looked at the door that lead to the stairway to the roof. Loki hadn't come back down yet. It was clear he wanted to be left alone. He must have a lot to think about. The way he said it, he didn't know how vulnerable Chthon was to water. That's probably frustrating that a human managed to figure that out by accident when he couldn't. This entire day had to have been pretty irritating for Loki.
I better go check on Loki, just to make sure he hasn't fallen asleep or something. Jane set the empty cup in the sink and opened the door to the stairwell, walking quietly.
It was cold out and Jane regretted not getting a jacket. The stars and moon were blotted out by storm clouds. She hugged herself and looked for Loki. He was sitting on the edge of the roof, looking out over the desert.
"You're going to get cold, humans can't take the cold very well," Loki warned without looking away.
"I wanted to make sure you were alright."
"Why would you care? I attacked New York and killed four million civilians and then nearly got your home destroyed," Loki tossed out nonchalantly as if doing all of that didn't matter to him.
"The way Angborn tells it, I don't know everything about New York so I have no right to pass judgment. As for my lab," Jane shrugged, "I'll call SHIELD after you leave and they'll rebuild it again. You did stay and help us fight Chthon…"
Loki didn't look towards her but his shoulders were tense.
I think I surprised him by not calling him a monster, Jane noted. "You didn't eat anything either. There's leftover in the fridge if you want some."
This mortal is not going to go away until I answer her is she? Loki asked himself. He kicked a plastic carton towards her. Originally it had been half-full of strawberries but now all that was left were the stems.
Jane blinked at it. So that's where all the strawberries went. She had wondered why the carton hadn't been in the fridge. "You like strawberries I take it."
Loki didn't answer. There, I responded to her question. Now will she leave me alone?
Jane paused when she realized that Loki had no answer forthcoming. "You're just as stubborn as Thor said."
"You can't exactly be a pushover yourself if you plan on having a serious relationship with Thor. He's worse than me."
Jane felt her color spike slightly at Loki's mention of 'a serious relationship.' He turned slightly and Jane could see his smile. Oh, he's trying to embarrass me and he's doing a good job… She turned away. He didn't have to tease so.
"Here," Loki said quietly.
Jane turned and something hit her in the face. She jumped back and grabbed what it was. Midway to throwing it away from her she recognized it her denium jacket that she had used to try and bandage Loki's arm. All of the blood had been cleaned away and the wear and tear it had from Jane wearing it so often was gone. "It-it looks like new."
Loki raised his right arm. His clothes were fixed and clean as well. The sleeve of his jacket was repaired and the gold armguard was neat and new-looking as if he delayed wound had never happened.
I guess being able to use magic has its advantages, Jane admitted. She put the jacket on. "Thank you."
What little light that came through the clouds was dim but she could tell she had surprised Loki and he didn't respond. "Why are you surprised? Don't people thank you when you do something nice for them?"
Loki shook his head. "I see why Thor likes you so much."
"You're trying to change the subject," Jane accused.
"Did it work?" Loki asked innocently.
Jane blinked in surprise, "no."
Loki shrugged and looked back out over the desert, rubbing his sore arm. "It wasn't the hardest fight I ever fought," Loki added.
"I have been through a war before," Loki muttered. "We were teenagers, about seventeen by your time." He fell quiet.
"Are you going to tell me about it?" Jane asked when Loki didn't continue.
"Do you want me to?" Loki asked.
"No reason why not," Jane spoke quietly. "I don't think i'm going to go back to sleep."
Loki thought for a moment before he spoke. How to word what was such common knowledge to most, unknown to humans so a human could understand? "There are many races outside of the Nine Realms. One race is called the Celestials. They had a staff, their superweapon - sort of like my scepter - and it came to Midgard. They followed it."
Scepter? The one he used at New York? Jane thought. Um, why is he thinking about New York?
"Tilaria and I found it here and brought it back to Asgard. The Celestials wanting it back and confronted Odin. He gave it to them to avoid war. I realized a little later what the staff could do…" Loki's voice trailed off.
Loki noticed Jane inching closer to him, eyes focused on his every word. He paused dramatically. "Their staff can kill reduce planets to asteroid fields. The energy of everything living on that planets is taken and the Celestials feed off of it. It makes them stronger. I warned Odin about it, but he brushed me off and said the Celestials wouldn't come back."
"But they came back, didn't they?" Jane asked, "The Celestials?"
Loki nodded. "They tried to attack Midgard, the most vunrable of the realms. Asgard wouldn't let them." He smiled from a fond memory. "I stole their staff from them in the middle of the battle and hid it. They weren't too happy with me, and decided they wanted it back. I had told no one where it was hidden though, so they caught me and tried to torture the information out. I was held prisoner aboard their ship for three weeks while the war between the Celestials and the Nine Realms raged." He touched a small scar above his lip on the left side, lost in memory.
"How did you escape?" Jane asked.
"I didn't," Loki replied ruefully. "Tilaria, Thor, and a group of insane Asgardians invaded the Celestials flagship and freed me. With me out of their hands the Celestials lost any chance they had of getting their staff back and so were forced to surrender. Odin accepted their surrender and let them limp away." A note of venom crept into his voice – well, another note.
"You're not happy about that," Jane guessed as she sat on the edge of the roof across from him.
"A race like the Celestials isn't going to be happy with losing their weapon and I still have the staff hidden. I told Odin that they were a race that would regain their strength and then come back and start the war all over again. They still got to leave."
It was quiet on the roof for a time. "Who is Tilaria?" Jane asked suddenly. "I have heard her mentioned before but never any details."
Loki tensed and clenched his hand into a fist, lowering his head what Jane thought was in grief.
"Uh, you don't have to answer that," Jane said quickly.
"What do you know about her?" He asked quietly.
Jane was surprised again, although this time it was because the subject stayed the same. "She was a Dark Elf, one of the races native to the Realms. Her father Malekith was the King's nephew so she was royal. Thor said that all the Dark Elves died millennia ago and that she was the last."
"Half Dark Elf," Loki corrected. "Her mother was Asgardian. She was a fire mage and a telepath, very different from me." Loki let his Jötunn magic rise slightly and turn his fingertips blue before making it fade again.
"Did she really have pink eyes?" Jane asked. Having pink eyes sounded pretty neat.
Loki gave an absent-minded nod. "The color of a mage's iris is identical to the color of their magic so there is quite a variety. All mages have gold dust in their eyes. The more gold, the stronger the mage. Her hair was gold," Loki said without paying much attention. "It was long and so fine and bright. She had fangs to and I never did figure out why blood tastes so sweet to her. In battle she just jumped into the fray with her sabers and only bothered with magic if her blades failed to deal with the problem."
I know that love-struck, wistful look, Jane noted. It's kind of like the one Darcy's been giving Angborn but much truer. He still loves her – deeply. She remembered Thor telling her how Tilaria had disappeared. What a horrid way to end a relationship and now she's-
"She's not dead!" Loki shouted, surprising himself and Jane. "She can't be dead," Loki repeated. He looked back at the desert away from Jane and closed his eyes to slow his heartbeat.
He heard my thought again, Jane realized.
Loki stood unexpectedly. "Angborn's awakening. We'll be leaving shortly."
Jane was pretty sure she was relieved, but she wasn't sure.
Lightning crackled across the clouds and Loki glanced up curiously. A bit of rain started to fall to the ground and Loki gulped, frozen in place.
"Loki?" Jane asked quietly.
Her voice seemed to snap him out of his daze. "It seems I underestimated Heimdall," Loki sighed. "He's already got the Bifrost fixed and he just activated it."
Those insane Asgardian were the Raven Blades. Freeing Loki forced Odin to make the Ravens a squad.