“Hey, your car just pulled up in the driveway.” Lyn said, unenthusiastically. This trip Loki was going on filled her with dread and anxiety. She didn’t mention it to him, but her imagination churned endless images of disaster and woe, and she feared the worst for him. She also didn’t want to admit to herself how she dreaded being alone now, when at one time being left alone was what she craved the most. Having Loki around changed that for her. His presence changed so much for her, which was why she feared it’s absence.
The driver came up the front walk and knocked on the door. Lyn sighed as Loki opened it, and handed his luggage off. This meant he was really leaving.
“Well, looks like I’m off. I’ll be back on Sunday evening.” He said, shouldering his laptop case. He smiled at her and expected to be out the door without another word.
“Like I’m not going to walk you outside!” Lyn said and followed him out the door, even though he rolled his eyes at her.
As they reached the front gate a brown car pulled up behind Loki’s ride in the driveway. Thor got out of the passenger’s side and came up the walk to meet them.
“What’s this about?” Loki said, irritation obvious in his voice. “Don’t tell me you’re worried too.” He remarked dryly as his brother joined them.
“Who was that?” Lyn said, noting the brown car leaving.
“Uber!” Thor said brightly, smiling at his frowning brother and sulky friend.
“Fabulous.” Loki said and went to push past Thor. “I was just leaving.”
“Why are you here? Something wrong?” Lyn asked.
“Jane sent me. She said you might need moral support.” Thor said, the bright smile never leaving his face.
“Whoa whoa…hang on there! You can’t just like…leave.” Lyn exclaimed to Loki, stopping him in his exasperated tracks. Then she turned back to Thor and told him, “Jane probably just wanted you out of her hair while she was trying to pack, right?”
“I am going to be late…” Loki growled.
“OK, don’t be an asshole. Come here…” When Loki was close enough, Lyn hugged him tight, burying her face in his chest, murmuring, “I’m going to miss you so much, you better come back in one piece and you better call the MOMENT you get on the ground in California.” She looked up at him and said, “Promise, OK? Don’t make me get all worried and shit, because I hate that.”
“I promise.” Loki said, noting the wetness in the corners of her eyes. He didn’t understand the woman’s anxiousness, but he decided to give her a break. This was obviously troubling to her. His arms encircled her and he gave her a fast hug. “You won’t even notice I’m gone.”
“Yeah right.” Lyn mumbled, releasing him.
Loki looked up at Thor and gravely told him, “Brother, keep a watch on my Lyn. I’ll also be expecting her in one piece on my return.”
“Of course! We’ll watch over each other. All will be well.” Thor said. He thought he caught a glimpse of genuine concern in Loki’s eyes before he turned away. It gave Thor hope that perhaps Loki was coming to care for Lyn, or, hell, starting to care about someone besides himself. Loki had never been close to anyone besides Frigga. For over a thousand of Lyn’s years, Loki had been a one man army. Thor wondered how many mortal lifetimes that would be. The thought saddened him slightly, but never one to dwell in dark thoughts overmuch, he didn’t let it get him down. The present was what mattered, and presently Loki’s new friend was telling him how handsome he looked and giving him various pieces of advice on dealing with airport security and airplane air and creepy people sitting next to him on the plane.
Finally, Loki got in the car and waved at Thor and Lyn as he pulled away. As soon as the car turned the corner, Lyn burst into tears.
“There, there.” Thor said in a very un-Thorlike voice. “He will be fine.” He wrapped an arm around Lyn’s shoulder and gave her a supportive squeeze. “How about we go inside and give Jane a quick call. I’d like to check on how she’s doing, and she’d probably like to talk to you.”
Lyn nodded and allowed Thor to guide her into the house.
“I’m sorry man..” Lyn said, still crying. “Dammit, I didn’t think I’d DO this…” she angrily swiped at her eyes with a tissue. “Fuck.”
“Not a problem!” Thor said, already in the kitchen, pulling out a beer for each of them. Jane had been right. SHE had certainly known Lyn was going to do this. Thor knew too, actually. That was why they agreed that someone should be there with her when Loki left.
“Geez, I want a cigarette. None here though. I haven’t even cheated since the day I quit ya know?” She looked up at Thor with red eyes. “I promised him…” just that much mention of Loki made fresh tears come to her eyes. She took her beer into the living room and sat in Loki’s place on the couch.
Thor sat in his usual spot and called Jane. They talked for a minute or two before Thor asked, “Would you like to talk to Jane?”
“Sure, put it on speaker.” Lyn said, and Thor did, setting the phone on the couch between them. “So, did you send Thor to watch over me?”
“I hope you’re not mad!” Jane said sheepishly. “I figured you’d need a shoulder and I was trying to get packed up to leave in the morning.”
“Nah. Not mad. Loki was pissy with both of us so I guess we got ours. I started crying like a little bitch, I swear…how the fuck old am I again? At least he was gone before I started up. It’s stupid to be so worried about Loki, he’s a grown man.”
“You care about him, and you two are really close. This is the first time he’s been away from you in, what…a couple years now? That’s kind of a big deal. You’re entitled to feel apprehensive.”
“He was a bit apprehensive too!” Thor called out, then smiled and took a swig of his beer.
“This guy!” Lyn said. “I don’t want to keep him from you, you guys probably want to, ya know…say goodbye too.”
“Oh it’s fine! I’m just running around in here because I procrastinate. It’s better he’s not here to distract me, otherwise I might sit on the couch and put it off even more. Blah! Play your game or watch some TV! Send him home when you’re tired of looking at him, OK?”
“Thanks Jane. Really. I owe you.” Lyn said quietly.
“I know how it is. Hey! You’ve got to babysit Thor on Saturday at that concert too. Make sure he doesn’t crowd-surf or do too much dancing.”
“I’ll try my best.” Lyn said. She spoke to Jane for a little longer before telling her goodnight and letting Thor take over. While he finished talking to Jane, Lyn put on the TV and looked for either Spongebob or South Park, both favorites of the God of Thunder. She found Mr. Squarepants on Nickelodeon, and Thor’s night was made. Loki wasn’t one for watching these kind of shows, and usually neither was she, but oddly enough the goofy little show was just right and eased Lyn’s worried mind.
After a few minutes of watching Spongebob, she checked her phone and found a text from Loki. It read, “No tears and don’t let Thor drink ALL the beer!”
She took a picture of Thor with a beer in his hand and Spongebob on the TV in the background and sent it to Loki.
“It’s as I figured.” Came the reply.
Lyn wanted to tell him how much she missed him and how she couldn’t wait to see him, but knew how he really didn’t care for so much sentimentality. She’d fussed at him enough already. She simply replied with a string of silly emojis and let that be that.
The two of them sat on the couch all evening, watching various shows until Lyn’s phone rang and it was Loki, dutifully telling her he had landed in Los Angeles and he was off to his hotel.
“How was the flight?”
“That sounds about right. Your bro’s on his last beer, and I’m about to fall asleep.”
Loki sighed in annoyed Loki fashion. “He’s STILL there? What are you two doing, keeping a vigil in case of my demise? Are there candles and incense lit as well?”
“Yeah, friggin’ smartass. We read your diary too, so how ‘bout dat?” Lyn joked.
“That would be a good read for the both of you. You’d do well to use it as a reference in matters of social finesse and grace.”
Lyn dissolved into laughter and exclaimed, “Fuck YOU! Oh my God you’re SO obnoxious!”
“Loki must be well.” Thor commented. “Tell him I said hello!”
“I heard him, as well the entire neighborhood must.” Loki grumbled. “Tell him to go home and stop guzzling our beer.”
Lyn turned to Thor and said, “Loki said hello and he’s glad you’re still here and to drink all the beer you want, he’ll buy more when he gets back!” Which made Thor smile and Loki groan.
“After that, I need a martini. I’m going to stop in at the bar here and have a nightcap before bed. Do you not have work tomorrow? Go to bed!”
“Geezus! Yes MOM. Well, now that I’ve heard from you I feel much better, guess I’ll be turning in soon.”
“Such a worrier you are.”
“You miss me.”
“You miss ME!”
The only response was a low chuckle from Loki’s end of the phone and then silence.
“You and he are quite entertaining to listen to.” Thor said from his light beer haze at the end of the couch. Lyn blushed at that, but tried to hide it. “I guess I’ll call an Uber and head home.” He added, feeling confident at Lyn’s lighter mood that at least she wouldn’t worry herself to a sleepless night.
“OK. Hey…if you want to come hang out tomorrow evening too, feel free. Beer’s on me. Bring your laptop and we can game a little?”
Thor nodded and said, “That sounds agreeable to me.”
Loki hung up the phone, sighed and sipped on his martini. The place made a halfway decent one, and he stretched his legs out, finally. He found air travel to be utterly ridiculous, but Midgard had little else to offer as far as a faster means of getting from place to place. He actually could have used magic to get where he was going, but felt a strange obligation to try to be ‘normal’ for Lyn. This was also partially for his own selfish reasons too. The more he carried on normally, the less questions she would ask. He didn’t fear her stumbling on to the object he’d found. Part of its own cloaking device was making itself hard to find when not being manipulated by a magic user.
Manipulated was not a good word though. This…entity was more like something to be consulted. The thing had a strange consciousness to it, it was hardly an inanimate tool. It knew what he wanted to see and showed it to him. Oh he couldn’t wait to get back home to speak to it more! He’d already seen into the doorways of several other realities. He’d seen other Lyn’s and Thor’s and even more of himself. A few of the scenarios he saw upset him, and one was…inconceivable. The current events surrounding his present reality were very favorable for this distasteful probability to come to pass here as well. To meld with it, and possibly absorb it. If so, it could take away everything he’d worked at, and destroy the lives of others he felt some sort of…duty to.
He charged his drink to his room and headed to the elevators, his stylish Tumi luggage whisking along behind him. On reaching his room, he pulled his phone out, took a picture of the lovely late twilight view from his window and texted it to Lyn, who he thought would probably like to see it. She loved sunsets.
Did he miss her? What a preposterous idea!
He assumed she was in bed now, or hoped she was. There was a two hour time difference between California and home. She was no more fond of early rising than himself. He did decide to text his brother though, and let him know all was well. He felt more uneasy about Thor getting close to the object in the bedroom than Lyn. Thor might be able to feel something amiss, even though he’d have trouble pinpointing what it was. This was part of the reason he’d avoided showing Thor where he worked or talked much about what he did. He didn’t want Thor to meet Sophia either. He felt confident he could keep that scenario from happening. Thor had no reason to go to the gallery, and he didn’t seem overly interested. Thor had no reason to go upstairs at the house either. He’d be distracted all weekend with the concert and Loki would be back by Sunday night, and Jane the following day.
Loki felt confident he had a good grip on the situation until he could ascertain the best course of action. Once that was worked out, he would have to involve Thor. Thor would be integral to the success of this mission, but it all had to be handled delicately. Finding that course of action was the difficult part. He would need several more ‘consultations’ with the entity the object represented before he was sure of what was next. He needed to be able to sell Thor on the situation and the action being taken so he didn’t suspect there were any other motives or outcomes added in to the plan. Not like it was hard to keep things from Thor though! Loki had always been good at distraction, especially when it came to big brother.