Norse Roulette

Chapter Two

The air was brisk and David tucked his coat beneath folded arms, eager to lock out the cold and get his mind off the warmth. He glanced up and down the street, wary of what he might see, as he struggled to recall the vague dream he'd had the night before.

He could remember the freckles, the brown eyes, like it was only yesterday, and all of his senses (save the common one) were assuring him that it had been – that Luke had really shown up, late at night. And then …

And then what? He had fuzzy recollections of fireworks burned on his eyelids as he drifted off to sleep, warm sparks sizzling the air a safe distance from his dormant face. But that was years ago, during simpler times, when he hadn't a single worry. Nevermind the fact that his best friend was a deity.

In the morning, Luke was gone. A dream, not a dream - David knew togo to the abandoned lot. The ground was littered with old balls, splinters freckling the gravel, the remainder of overused bats standing at attention as David crunched over the crumbled ground. He took in the ocean of broken glass, cigarette butts, and, in the reigning silence, remembered his childhood.

It was too early for aspiring cricket players to be raiding the pitch. It was deserted. Like old times, when David would come just to get away from the relatives, just to be alone when he struck the match …

David fingered the lighter, igniting the small flame and waiting.

And waiting.

The same dull fog, rolling over the streets from early morning until early afternoon, meandered by, the moist air sizzling in the flame of his Zippo. Nothing had changed. Same lot, same cigarette butts, same solitude.

Sighing, he replaced the lighter, turning to leave.

"Honestly, I thought you were supposed to be the patient one."

And there he was, same as for years ago, not a hair's difference, not a freckle out of place. He wasn't the same as the night before, though – that Luke had been older, taller. A good build, Astrid had commented, for a firefighter. This Luke … this Luke was David's.

Somehow, Luke managed to catch him at eye level, and David breathed in the air, thinking "Of course. We've gone back in time. What else could I expect?"

They hadn't, but that wasn't the point.

Luke handed him a bat, seemingly pulled from nowhere.

"Wanna play?"

An hour later, they sat on the kerb, grateful for the cool morning air. There'd been a comfortable silence between them as they'd taken turns with the bat, but David could feel the increasing sense of self-doubt and betrayal.

"Why didn't you ever come?" He asked, uncomfortably aware of how young his voice sounded. Luke smiled like he'd just told a particularly funny joke, putting David at ease.

"You never called, you know," Luke shrugged. "Not really. There was more to it than just lighting a match."

David thought about this, his mouth agape in protest.

"But, the lighter-"

"Stupid!" Luke called without reproach, "I gave you the lighter so you could start your own fires. So you wouldn't need me so much."

David lowered his gaze, feeling the indignation of adulthood conflicting with the comprehension of youth.

"Start my own fires?" He asked, his grown-up side winning over as he crinkled his brow in confusion. He'd spent most of his time with Luke trying to put fires out. It was exactly why he'd gotten tired of the friendship in the first place.

"Yeah," Luke frowned, sitting up and managing to look several years older in the blink of an eye.

"You're right about Astrid's guy," he confessed, running a hand over weary eyes. "How are you gonna deal with it?"

David arched his back, contemplating the question while feeling stupid. He'd wanted Luke to do something about it, of course. He didn't have time for chasing down chaotic gods – he had university to work towards, and a future to accomplish.

"I don't know," he admitted. "He's the god of chaos, so fight him with order, I suppose."

Luke looked offended.

"Why?" David asked, quick to appease. "Is that wrong?"

"Haven't you ever heard of fighting fire with fire?" The giant grumbled, looking slightly meek in his sulkiness. David allowed himself a grin, daring to hope.

"Does that mean you'll fight him with me?" He asked, lightly. Luke, for a brief moment, looked horrified.

"He's the god of chaos! I'm the god of mischief, David – it's like comparing a pit bull to a great dane." He looked especially sour as he said this, obviously feeling cheated with his lot in immortal life. David patted his friend on the shoulder.

"We'll think of something," he said, wondering why it was him comforting Luke and not the other way around.

"Because you want it that way," Luke said, reading his mind. David nodded.