Well hello again.
That last chapter was a bit experimental, so I would love your opinions on it(she says pleadingly)!
Blahbbity-blah, on with the show!
Songs you should be listening to right meow -
Fix You by Coldplay
We Come Running by Youngblood Hawke
Octopus by Bloc Party
I own nothing but Adriana and Tazia.
I watched my toes wriggle a bit as they poked out from the edge of the down-filled comforter. The flicker from the fire – though across the room – gave them a familiar warm, orange glow, causing my mind to replay the events of the last hour.
Once I had melted down all of the ice we had on hand, I stayed in the water for a while. Our guest – Loki, as his name was – had left the room not long after I showed my gratitude. Tazia had made him go down to the living room to start a fire in the sitting room below. Though he complied, it was not without a pause.
I was actually starting to notice some habits of his. Whenever Tazia had asked him to do something, no matter how simple the task, he would hesitate. Loki's jaw dropped the slightest amount, putting the bottom row of his snow-white teeth slightly visible. Despite being visually vexed, he followed.
His expressions were becoming frighteningly familiar to my own – I hated him for it. Someone like that wasn't supposed to be like me. Loki was stubborn, rude, and I couldn't shake this sense of dread that he carried. It wasn't his own dread that he conveyed, it was the threat of infliction.
Once he left, I exhaled again. Alone, eyes closed, I allowed myself to really feel the sensation of the icy water, focusing all my energy on the process of cooling down.
It occurred to me that this was truly the first time since I found Loki in my garden that I was able to be left alone with my thoughts. There was no way that I wasn't taking advantage of that.
I thought about all the work that could be done around the house. The walls and floors could benefit from some attention – the walls were beginning to chip, and the flooring was dangerously cracked and bent in some places. The old kitchen had left me wondering about the possibility of rewiring the whole of the electricity. Just turning on the food processor caused the lights to dim dangerously. The plumbing was fine, and the fridge and freezer were in fine condition.
All of this to consider, but it was the fireplace that concerned me the most. The fireplace was dirty from neglect, full of cobwebs and old soot. This upset me the most. There was never a television here when I was a kid – or rather, I never took to it. Grandmother Maria had one in her bedroom so that she could keep up with the news and she probably watched her fair share of soap operas. I never really liked the contraptions, they had this awfully robotic blue glow to them. It gave me the creeps. I much preferred the fire, the hearth. I felt almost welcomed there.
There were the odd nights back in those years that Maria and I would watch movies – the old ones. When she learned of my discontent for the small screen, the old bat had invested in a restored projector, circa 1932. The machine required to be turned tediously by hand, but we never minded. We pushed back all of the furniture until we got a clear view on the wall before us, and cranked out films 20 minutes at a time.
What simple fun I had here...
I must have spent 45 minutes in that bath, maybe even twice that. I let myself soak and reflect until my flesh was reconstructed from the pile of charcoal I once thought it was. The cold had invaded every inch of me, to the point where I was close to shivering.
The gauge on my wrist read a dull 105 degrees – a bit below what I had desired, actually. Being a bit chilly wasn't bad, but I preferred to stay at about 140 Fahrenheit, 125 at the least.
With a melancholy sigh, I twisted the metal stopper out from the drain and watched the water swirl slowly downwards. Taz left out a few of Grandma's old towels, possibly the plushiest sheets of fabric known to mankind. All I had to do was let my fingertips brush the top of one, and my wet clothes were off in an instant, replaced by a soft terrycloth cocoon.
Twenty minutes in the towels, a good blow-dry, and a set of dry clothes later, I was only up to 120 – I could do better. I should do better.
Out of the bathroom and into the hall, I stopped just before the stairs. I leaned forward slightly, trying to listen in on what stirred below.
Muffed rambling – There was always, that thanks to Tazia – followed exasperated sighs. What an odd little pattern this was becoming...
I backtracked to my room, wrenching the billowy comforter off of my queen-sized bed. I dragged it down the hall, then along the stairs like a toddler. Halfway down, I could hear the drabble a bit more clearly.
"...So, like, we should get you some normal clothes, y'know? I mean, I can just picture you in a nicely-tailored suit, oh my God, would you look se – Aidie!" My little sister's face lit up instantaneously. She leapt up from the chair opposite Loki's and ran towards me with arms open. Weakly, I smiled, cringing away from her impending embrace.
She squeezed the breath out of me.
"You're all better!" Taz rubbed her face into my neck like a toddler would her mother's leg. I sighed, prying her off of me one arm at a time.
"Just about, yes. Im a bit cold now, actually." I took my place on the chaise in between the two of them.
"That's great, I just started a fire anyways." Taz beamed at the small pile of ember and sparks that she had been able to muster up.
"That is a..." I smiled, forcing words back down my throat. "Thank you, Taz." She smiled, loping over to poke at the hearth with the conical iron rod. I sighed, picking the comforter off of the chaise and swathed myself in it.
I covered all but my head and toes, which I let warm up exposed to the heat of the 'fire'. I pitied the poor thing, really...
I drowned my mind in my thoughts before I realized that Tazia was talking again. It was her usual prattle, about clothes and movies and such.
"So Loki, you never told me – Where are you from?" It was at this, that I tuned in. I looked at him, a bit coldly now that I think about it.
"Yes," I chimed in, "Where?"
I wanted to hear something sensical come out of this man's mouth. New York, California, Vermont, France – Oh I could believe anything at this point, I just wanted to hear something human... I don't know why I wanted it, but I did.
"I am of Asgard." My shoulders fell. Still insane.
"Never heard of it, is it in like, Wales or something?" I laughed under my breath at her simplicity.
"No Tazia, it's not." They both looked at me – Tazia with a look of disappointment that she found herself wrong, and Loki with that look that I couldn't tell was curiosity or hate. A bit of both, probably.
"Well where is it then, Canada? The Netherlands?"
"Give it up Taz." I warned. She waved me off and looked to Loki, signaling him to continue.
"...Asgard is not of this realm. It is-"
"Stop, just please, stop." Loki gave me that glare again. "If you're going to lie to us, at least tell us something probable."
"Aidie, he sounds pretty serious to me-"
"They always do!" I stood, feeling no chill left in my body. "The best lunatics always sound honest." Loki rose from the chair.
"You brand me as dishonest?"
"Of course! You expect me to just trust someone who I find laying in my garden in the middle of the night? And then attacks me?"
"I never attacked you Adriana." I'll admit, I was a bit taken aback by hearing my name come from him.
"You could have fooled me." My arms crossed cheerlessly.
"Whoa, what?" Tazia decided to chime in.
"Leave." I ordered.
"I said leave, Tazia." I glared – directed towards my sister, but without taking my gaze off of our guest.
"Pfft, fine. It's not like anyone tells me anything anyway-"
"Tazia!" With a grunt and a few muttered curses, she left through the kitchen door.
The only sounds left in the parlor room were to dull crackling of a poorly built fire and the breath two vexed individuals.
"I do not take kindly to those who call me a liar." Loki apprised me.
"Oh, but you do it so well." I let myself get closer to him, my face just inches from his own. I had to tilt my head back a bit in order to let him see the full expression in my visage.
"Do not perceive me a gentile soul." Loki inched closer intimidatingly.
"So long as you give me the same courtesy." He smiled, almost as if I had told him some great quip.
"As I recall, I was the one who just carried a quite feeble girl into a bath of ice." I glowered at his words. He smirked at my lack of retort. Loki's eyes glanced down at my hand, taking in between his own cold palms. "Odd, isn't it, for one so feel so very thermal, hmm? Perhaps we all have something we're hiding." I jerked my hand out of his grasp, tempted to make it strike that loathsome face of his.
"You admit you are hiding something, though." He chortled, remaining silent. There was a pause. Neither one of us backed down from our stance, and I became increasingly aware of the narrow divide.
"Listen," I started, planting two fingers oh is broad chest, "You're infuriating-"
"Shut up. You're infuriating," I continued, "But Tazia has taken to you. As much as I despise your being here, I can't change her mind. If I kick you out, she'll never forgive me. So I'm stuck with you." His wicked grin widened.
"What a shame, to be forced in the company of someone as lovely as yourself." He taunted.
"Don't even try that – with me or Taz. If you are to stay here unscathed, you have to abide by what I say. This is my house." His grin disappeared. Gained a shred of respect, have I?
"..." I took my hand off of him, relaxing my gaze.
"Do not fill her head with your rubbish. She's trusting. Too trusting for her own good. I don't want to hear her start to believe whatever lies you cook up. I could care less about where you're from, what you do, who you are, what you are – but she will."
"And what, exactly, am I supposed to tell her?"
"I don't care. As long as it's remotely human. And if you can't do that, don't speak at all."
There was a small adjournment to our conversation. Loki took in a pestered breath, returning to his chair, sitting in a very uncalled for regal manner.
"You make all these demands," Loki rested his cheek in his hand, propped up by his elbow on the arm of the beige chair. "But how are you ever to reassure that I'll comply to them?"
There were many things I could have said – I could have said nothing at all.
I found myself striding over to where he was seated.
Then I leaned over him, close to his face.
"You seem quite durable..." I placed one hand on the back of the chair, near his head, and the other on his leg. I focused most of my energy to my hand, trying my best to make it dangerously hot. I wasn't sure if it was due to the adrenaline I could feel coursing in my veins or just freak chance, but it worked.
I tilted forward, letting my lips fall right next to his ear.
"...Who says you can't still burn?"
Did you know I'm utterly insane?
BlackImp – Ggaaaaaaaaah thank you for so many nice things! I worked hard at the very beginning to make Adriana as non-mary-sue as I could. And vincible. You don't have to be sorry, freaking out is applauded – if not encouraged! Eeep!
Guest – Okay. 'Em is comin'.