You woke up because your leg jerked. Your heart skipped a beat and your eyes flicked open. It was one of those annoying little half-conscious falling-off-a-cliff dreams, except it was weird because it felt like morning. It felt like you had had a full night's rest.
Then you noticed you were pretty darn sure it was morning, because the room was very light. That's when you noticed there were no windows. "Then how the hell...?"
"Mm, you're awake?" a gravely voice mumbled into your ear. Then he whispered, "Good morning."
"How do I know it's morning?" you asked, voice dry and cracked. Well, that's one way you could tell.
"How do you mean?"
"It's light in here. But there aren't any windows."
You felt his arms shift around you, pulling you tighter as he pressed his cheek between your shoulderblades. You cuddled back into him. "Darling, with magic, there are some things you just have to trust."
You huffed at that, but then remembered how difficult his explanation of the mome raths had been. You supposed it really wasn't that important to know every mundane detail about magic.
But you wanted to understand something else.
"Why did you want me?" you asked. He gave you a light squeeze.
"Come now, haven't we already been over this?"
"Well, no, I meant..." You bit your lip. "Why us? Why me? Why Virginia? Why Lynda?" You intentionally deepened your voice on Lynda's name, going for mock-sultry to get your point across.
His chuckle was silent and blew hot air over your neck. "Ah. I see. Well, I can tell you it is much easier to gain female followers than male. Men tend to be very stubborn in their sense of ally versus enemy; on the other hand, women can be as well. I suppose what attracts them is the underlying fight, not of good versus evil but of brains versus brawn."
"Or maybe I'm just s'darn good-looking." His breath teased your ear and you squirmed, tucking your head.
"Yeah, or you're just a perv and you recruit chicks so you can ogle tits and ass every day."
You couldn't hear his laughter this time but it shook your whole body, and you started to laugh, too. Grabbing his wrists, you pulled his arms still tighter around you and he chuckled, giving you a squeeze.
That's when you noticed a definite absence of barrier between the inside of your shirt and your bare skin.
You let go of his hands. "Where's my bra?"
He drew a breath and held it. "Buhhh...bra? It's, ahm..."
Face heating up, you looked down at the shirt you were wearing. Different from what you had on last night. "Loki did you undress me?" you raged, throwing his arms off you and tumbling out of bed to the floor, right onto your hip. Ouchie. You sat up and glared, and then realized your nightshirt was the only thing covering your panties. "LOKI!"
"Y-you fell asleep in your clothes!" he stuttered, sitting up in the bed and leaning over to offer you a hand. You waved it away and stood up, tugging at the hem of your shirt. "It...it...you were squirming and obviously uncomfortable. I was helping you out!"
You stumbled over to the bag at the end of your bed, still trying to pull the hem of your shirt down to your knees, and dug through your clothes.
"I swear that's what happened."
"You didn't, like..." you stuttered, panicking a little.
"Gracious, no!" he insisted. "Off-screen and with you unconscious?"
"Just...guh. Don't even talk to me right now," you said, deciding you really didn't want to hear any of his explanations. You stormed briskly out the door, closing it with a bitter mumble of the word "pervert" before heading to the bathroom to change.
Once out, you bumped right into Lynda.
"Excusez-vous!" she sneered.
"Uh...d-desole?" you offered. She blinked at you, a bit confused at either your French or your lack of backtalk. She shook it off.
"Loki 'as told me to tell you zat 'e will be back in a couple of hours. 'E said to tell you 'stay, and be a good girl.'"
"Wait, what?" You chucked your clothes down the hall, heading the other way. "He's just gonna leave me again? With you?"
"'Ay! Well I am not exactly 'appy wiz it, eizer!" she grumbled, following you. "I am not a bebesitter!"
Taking offense to that, you wound your way through glittery rooms and hallways, Lynda hurrying to keep up and calling out "Hey!" every once in awhile. You stopped at a flight of stairs that led up to a very heavy door. A very promising door. Possibly an exit door.
You stopped to catch your breath, and a hand clapped your shoulder. "You cannot go out zer!" Lynda panted. Most of her weight was leaning on you.
"So that is out."
"Don't you dare!"
Ignoring her, you sprinted up the stairs and grabbed the heavy doorhandle with both hands, tugging it toward you. You gasped, taken by surprise with the sickly landscape in front of you. Dead trees and distant, jagged hills, everything clay colored, including the sky. There were brambles and tumbleweeds and what you stepped out onto was just an eroded stone pathway on a little plateau bordered by a pair of walls not even waist high to you.
A distant boom distracted you from your view-gazing and you turned around, searching for the top of the fortress--so that's what it looked like on the outside--with your eyes. You could see nothing but sky, burnt orange sky. And suddenly another boom, closer. The structure shook. Then another boom, and crackling, shouting--
"Aah!" He flew backwards over the wall, flailing, and you threw a hand over your eyes and looked away--but you didn't hear him make contact with the earth. Curious, you peeked over at him through your fingers to see him giving you a curious look, and then his attention was drawn to whatever was casting that large shadow on the ground. You looked up, too, when you heard a very familiar electronic whine.
Your eyebrows pulled together in confusion as you saw a black-and-white humanoid figure. That wasn't...Iron Man?
Well whether it was or wasn't, you didn't get to find out right at that moment because a giant grey beast leapt from the top of the fortress to the ground on all fours, only barely missing Loki...'s clone. The creature didn't see you so you backed up slowly toward the fortress, looking up and over your shoulder to where the real Loki was panting, and arguing with the flying figure.
"WHAT WAS THAT?" he roared, bent over with his hands on his knees.
"No time," said a female voice. Well it wasn't Iron Man...
The creature on the ground had turned around and coiled back to leap, but again you heard the electronic whine and a--you thought it was called a "repulsor blast"--shot from the figure's hand, knocking the creature right between a pair of yellow eyes. It made a sound like a mournful roar and you saw Loki appear behind it, concentrating on some sort of incantation you could see moving his lips, but the creature vanished in a flood of yellow particles. Loki cursed.
"No! Bad wolf! Bad!" He made sort of a pathetic groan. "You were supposed to let me finish you off, you foul creature...And you!" he shouted up at the fortress. You looked back at the Iron-Man-esq figure as she landed on the wall. "Hey! You were supposed to be protecting me! WHAT ON EARTH WAS THAT?" She disappeared behind the wall and out of your sight.
"And I told you..." You turned back to face Loki, who was advancing at you with a very unamused expression. "I told you to stay!"
"And I told you I'm not a dog!" you fired back, crossing your arms and straightening up as he stormed toward you. "And I don't like being kept on a short leash! Hey!"
He had grabbed you firmly by the arm, nearly shoving you at the door. "Inside."
"By the way, nice castle, Bowser," you grumbled as he took you down the stairs.
He huffed angrily, and did not say one word to you by the time you had reached your room. Chamber? Wasn't that an appropriate word for this atmosphere?
He pushed you at your bed and your knees hit the back of it; you struggled not to fall onto it. "I told you not to go outside!"
"So what, you wanted me to just sit in here with that French bitch while you go gallivanting off--"
"Yes, I do!"
"--fighting some unknown monsters that could kill you and I don't even get a heads up--"
"I am a perfectly capable warrior!"
"--and in the mean time I have no idea what to do or what's going on, because you kidnapped me--"
"I was trying to keep you safe!"
"--and you don't even consider the idea that I might want to help you out!"
He looked about to grab you and shout right in your face, but he backed off, clenching and unclenching his fists and letting out a very heavy breath. "As much as I...appreciate your concern, you don't know what you're messing with."
"Looks to me like you don't, either," you muttered. He glared at you. "So then, what was that thing?"
He faltered. "I...I don't know."
"Do you know how to defeat it?"
"I don't know."
"Where did it disappear to?"
"Why did you leave when I told you to stay?" he roared, stepping into your personal space.
"And who was that woman with you?" you pressed, not daring draw back and so betray any hint of submission. "And why wasn't she protecting you like you said?"
It took him a moment to figure out what to say. "That was...ah...that was Virginia."
You crossed your arms, assuming dominance as his shouting stopped and he calmed down. "I'm listening."
"She means to betray me, as I've told you. She wants to 'give me the chance' to rise to power, I believe, so that she can take me down and be seen the hero." His eyes left you and he looked puzzled. "Only...she would need me alive for that..." He began to pace, slowly, across the small room.
You held your ground, physically, but your mind was telling you all sorts of things you thought were bad ideas. You found the urge to want to protect him; or at the very least, figure out why Virginia was so unconcerned about his safety, whether she was planning to betray him or not.
"Well then, for your own protection, you can't leave me locked up in here."
He stopped, looking at you as though you had just said you were part rhinoceros. "Explain yourself."
"I want to fight," you found yourself saying, "with you. Alongside you. I want you to show me magic."
"No! No, no, no, no, no," he said, speaking quickly to flood out any argument. "That isn't going to happen, because I need you here and I need you safe and I'm pretty sure I can handle things on my own. Furthermore, I can't just 'teach' you magic; it takes patience and dedication. Another thing--wait, have I missed something?" He paused for you to interject.
A ridiculously joyful grin spread across his face. "Did I miss your little transition from hating me to willingly joining my side?"
Oh. Snap. You blushed. "Might as well call it Stockholm syndrome...ah!"
He grabbed you by the shoulders and beamed, pulling you into a hug. "Oh, you're fantastic! Come with me, I need to teach you stuff."
And then he dragged you out the door with the biggest toothy grin on his face that you ever did see.