During finals week, someone knocking on a door at seven thirty in the morning was not expected or appreciated by anyone. Even less so when the knocking was insistent and did not let up after five minutes had passed with no answer.
Whoever was knocking would first get applause for their tenacity and then get their head ripped off for the same reason.
Even though Loki had already taken his exam and was working more on his dissertation, he still had many classes to study for, other papers to write, a huge stack of books that needed to be read, and as a teacher’s assistant, papers to grade. Being woken up before the sun had risen was not going to help him. Crawling out of his bed, he did not even bother putting on a shirt before wrenching the door open and snarling.
“What do you—”
“Who the hell—”
The woman before him was tiny. Barely coming up to his chest, she had to crane her neck to give him a disapproving look, as if he failed her expectations somehow. She certainly exceeded his. What kind of person was she that she was properly dressed and while not looking well rested, was at least alert at this time of day? From the way her messenger bag was nearly bursting at the seams, she had much more than a laptop for browsing on the internet and a romance novel to read when she was bored.
“May I help you?”
“Does Gary Smith reside here?” she asked.
“No,” Loki replied.
The woman before him swore.
Well. So much for being articulate as well.
“That asshole. Sorry, he owed me some textbooks of mine, and now I have to hunt the bastard down. Didn’t mean to wake you up.”
Loki leaned against his doorframe.
“He owed you your textbooks, you say?”
She glanced up at him, just as she was about to turn away.
“Yes. I was an idiot for a minute and let him borrow them.”
“Hmm. Suppose I offered to assist you in this quest of yours.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Why?”
“Because this might be amusing,” he replied easily, grinning at how she questioned his offer instead of happily accepted it. “Of course, you can always just go to the dean or someone and tell them about your situation. I hope you have receipts still.”
She scoffed, rolling her eyes. “Of course I do. But if you’re not going to be serious, I have a class in about twenty minutes.”
He let her go this time, watching her march from his apartment and back to the campus, slipping back inside and going to sleep when she rounded a corner and disappeared from sight. There shouldn’t have been anything interesting about her, but there was something that made him want to know what kind of person lent someone her textbooks and then rejected an offer to help retrieve them, what kind of person had classes starting at eight in the morning. There were many students like that, pushing themselves to get demanding degrees in record breaking times, surviving off of coffee and foolish hopes, but…
Whoever this Gary Smith was, he was in for it.
That Loki knew for sure.
Later that afternoon, Loki arrived a little bit early for one of his classes, ready to sit down at his desk and sort some papers before putting them into the bin that the professor so cleverly labeled ‘out’. However, it seemed that was not meant to be.
“I demand compensation!”
“For what? They were old textbooks!”
“That I purchased at the bookstore—and I am not going to get my full refund with them in this kind of condition! I lent them to you with the expectation that you would, oh I don’t know, not ruin them? Return them in a timely fashion too?”
The woman from this morning was looking a thousand times angrier, an enraged flush forming on her cheeks, probably from yelling at the man before her. Though Loki was not sure if he should be called as such, since taking care of a borrowed item was something an elementary school child could easily do.
“I told you, it was an accident!”
“Ha! If it was such an accident, why did you lie about where you lived when I needed them back? Why make up this whole goose chase?”
The idiot gaped and stammered.
The woman hissed angrily.
“You owe me money,” she snarled, poking his chest with each syllable. “I now have your address and anything else I need to locate you—or to help the dean locate you. Don’t even think of trying to get out of this, you bastard.”
Snatching a book from a table, she turned on her heel and headed for the exit, where he was still standing.
Her eyes snapped to his.
“Wait—I thought you didn’t know who he was!”
“I am going to conclude that you only said that because you are still angered. Do you think that a teacher’s assistant would know every single student that his or her assigned professor has? Even with a name or photo?”
The woman gaped and flushed, embarrassed.
“Quite alright. Now, I have to admit that you have piqued my curiosity since this morning. How about we leave this fool and enjoy a cup of coffee together?”
“Hey, I am not—” Gary attempted.
He and the woman both sent him scathing looks at the same time.
“I have a class in half an hour,” she said, turning to him once more.
Loki grinned. “The teacher’s lounge has an espresso machine and is only a short walk from this building. I believe the science buildings are not too far either?”
She considered it for a moment.
“Shouldn’t I know your name first, before you ask me out?”
“Loki. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
As Loki escorted her to the teacher’s lounge—properly, with her arm looped through his, because he knew it would charm her—he smiled to himself.
Anyone with half a brain and attended this university knew Jane Foster upon sight.
While she was not famous world wide or even in the realm of academia, within their science program, she was causing waves of her own that trickled out to the rest of the campus. Arguing with professors, taking more classes than counselors recommended and taking on another one just to spite them when they said she couldn’t handle it, coming up with theories that broke all the laws of physics and sounded more like fiction, but insisting that the math and science was out there… She was a spitfire with her sights set upon the stars and further beyond. If there was anyone who was going to find other realms and not only prove their existence, but find a way to them, it was her.
She was loud. She was demanding.
She was stubborn, determined, passionate, excited about her work…
There were also rumors going around that she was pining for a classmate from high school, who was attending another university across the state. A long distance relationship with his brother was not working out as well as she had hoped.
It was going to be interesting, to see if she eventually remembered him.
But not as interesting as stealing her away from Thor.