Chapter 16: Christmas Sleepover
I had had a good evening with my mom. We watched Christmas specials, had homemade pizza for dinner and wore our pajamas all night. It was like any other Christmas Eve. Since my dad left, this is what we would do, every year, even though I was too old for Christmas specials that I had seen since birth, and could recite by heart. It had become our tradition, and nothing was stopping me from keeping my traditions! After being transported to another realm and living there for a month trying to get used to their norms, I needed something familiar.
The only difference this year was the fact that I was unused to wearing the plushy jammies with penguins that I loved and talking about Asgard. In between commercials I would catch myself telling my mom about my room there, or the library, or the gardens, or Frost. Anything that had to do with Asgard was brought up. Especially Loki.
Even though I didn’t want to talk about Loki and how I felt about him, I couldn’t talk about my life in Asgard and leave Loki out of it. I spent time with Loki every day, learning magic, talking, riding, and reading. He was my best friend, though Sif took a solid second for being my only girlfriend. He came up in almost every topic of Asgard, everything I had to say. If my mom got tired of hearing “Loki thinks this” or “Loki does that” or “One time, Loki and I”, she didn’t show it.
Eventually, we got tired and went to bed. Well, I actually dragged myself to bed. The Bifrost tired me out and I didn’t nap at all after getting here, since I wanted to catch up with my mom. I flopped into bed, pulling the comforter around me and snuggling in. For the first time in a month, I was going to sleep in, lounge in bed for a bit before opening presents. I saw them under the tree, and I knew my mom got me something. I would take my time tomorrow, and relax.
I wonder what Loki is doing right now. I thought, turning to my side. It would be a bit earlier in Asgard right now than here, so I assumed he was still up doing something. Probably in the library. And I hoped he wasn’t going to continue acting strange around me, or avoiding me when I got back. Was it really because I was leaving Asgard? Was he upset that I wanted to be home for a bit? I highly doubted that, but who knew? I just hoped we could go back to normal. I wasn’t sure if Loki liked me the way I liked him. Sometimes I thought he did, other times I didn’t think so. But I had resolved one thing: I was his friend, and I wanted to continue being his friend. If Loki didn’t like me the way I liked him, being friends would have to be enough for me. I usually didn’t settle for anything less than what I wanted, but Loki was different. I wanted to be around him. He made me happy, he made me laugh, and he was kind and made me feel like I belonged. And if the only way I could be around him was being his friend, that would be okay for now.
I knew one day Loki would find love. IF it wasn’t with me, I would have to get over it, somehow. I wanted him to be happy too. I hoped against hope that he would realise he would be happy with me.
I was jerked awake by a strange noise. Our apartment made noise all the time, pipes shifting, water flowing. That was normal. But this, this noise I just heard, was not part of that. I listened, trying to slow my breathing to hear better. I heard someone walking, that was sure. It wasn’t my mom though. The steps were heavier, and sounded like boots.
What the hell is going on? Who the hell is in my house?!
I slowly got out of bed, wondering where I last put my can of pepper spray. I thought for a second, until I remembered it was under my bed. I don’t know why I kept it there. When I first got it when I was younger, I probably put it there in case someone tried to rob our house and we were home, and under my bed would be the last place they looked.
I crouched, and slid my hand under my bed. Feeling a cool cylinder, grabbed it, pulling it out. I gently took the cap off, and ensured that the nozzle was facing away from me. I had seen too many videos of people accidentally spraying themselves because they were too panicked to remember that part. I shuffled to the door, which was half open. I was glad I didn’t shut it all the way, because I could peek out to assess my situation.
The hallway my room was in had the bathroom in it, and led to the second opening on the kitchen and the living room. My mom’s bedroom was on the other side of the apartment, a door just off to the living room. The noise seemed to be coming from the living room, so I crept down the hall, the pepper spray poised in front of me, ready to shoot. I was almost to the living room when a dark, tall figure appeared at the entrance to the hallway. I froze for half a second, before shouting.
“Who are you?! Get out of my house!” I yelled, hoping to wake my mom. Maybe she could call the cops, or our neighbours, or someone to help me take this creep down. The figure put their hands up, and approached me. What the hell is this guy doing?
“Calm down Noelle.” The figure whispered. I kept shouting things. My mind was going into overdrive, trying to figure out how to take this guy down, trying to figure out who it was. My mind kept going to Garrick, and wondering if he brought more thugs to get me and my mom. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t recognise the voice I clearly knew until he was shouting too.
“For Odin’s sake Noelle, it’s me!” Loki yelled at me, pulling me up short. “Now put your weapon down and let me explain why I am here!” He sounded annoyed.
“Loki?” I reached for a hallway light, flipping the switch. The lights flooded on, and it was indeed Loki standing in my hallway, his hands in the air with a look of annoyance on his face.
“Who were you expecting?” He asked, putting his hands down. I lowered the pepper spray.
“No one! What are you doing here?” He was supposed to be on Asgard! “Does the All-father know you are here? Were you sent here? Is something wrong in Asgard?”
“If you are finished with bombarding me with questions, I will explain.” He said. “You are still as curious as ever.”
“What is going on out here?” My mom came through the hallway, wearing her pink bathrobe. Which is when I realised: I was in my pajamas too. She had her arms crossed over her chest, and looked half annoyed, half intrigued. She probably wasn’t going berserk because she recognised Loki’s clothes as Asgardian.
“Hey mom…” So the guy I liked was standing in my hallway, my mom was standing in her pink robe, and I was in my pjs. This was awkward. “Um…this is Loki…And I have no clue why he is here yet.”
“I am terribly sorry to have come at an untimely time. I was not aware of a time difference in this realm. I have simply come to ensure the Lady Noelle is safe during her time here.” He bowed a bit towards my mom. I had to admit, Loki was charming and gallant when he needed to be. “I am Loki, of Asgard.”
My mom was obviously impressed by Loki, because her annoyance cleared from her face. “Well, this certainly is a surprise.”
“Yeah. It is.” We all stood in the hallway, silent.
“Well, Loki, you are welcome to stay here if you must ensure Noelle’s safety. Noelle, set the cot up in your room?” She said, turning to go back to bed. “I will see you both in the morning.”
When she closed the door to her room, Loki turned to me, smiling. “Well, that was simple.”
I was in total shock. My mom just gave me permission to have Loki stay for four days in my room! What was going on? I mean, I didn’t think Loki was going to try anything, but what the hell happened to ‘proper parenting’ or something? “One second.” I said to Loki, and went off to my mom’s room. I knocked on the door first, before going in. The room was dark, and I let light in from the entrance.
“What is it Noelle? The cot is in the same place it was last time you were here.” She said.
“Mom, are you really letting Loki stay in my room?” I asked incredulously.
“Do you not want him to stay with you?” She asked, her voice amused.
“Well no, it’s just-” When I thought about Loki staying in my room, it wasn’t that I didn’t want him to. I mean, it made me giddy. The guy I liked was sleeping in the same room as me. I kept having visions of us cuddling, though it probably wouldn’t happen.
“Then share a room with him. It’s only four days. Now, I would like a little sleep, since I have extra cooking to do tomorrow.” She chastised.
I smiled. “Alright. Goodnight mom.” I gently shut the door, and went back to Loki who was still standing in the hallway. I opened the linen closet across from the bathroom and pulled out a box. “Come on.” I told him, going into my room. He followed me in while I lugged this box, and pulled out the contents.
A cot was a portable bedframe they used in the army. My mom went out and bought one at an army surplus store, in case I wanted to have sleepovers. I pulled out a rolled up mattress, and began setting the cot up a few feet from my bed, while Loki looked around my room. I was glad it wasn’t as messy as it had been earlier. I had actually shut the closet and tidied up a bit. “These are your chambers?” He asked, looking at the book shelf.
“They are.” I said, still focused on setting up the cot. I couldn’t find the instructions, and I couldn’t remember for the life of me how to set this thing up.
“What is that contraption? A metal trap?” Loki sneered.
“You really have never been to earth, have you? It’s a portable bed. It’s what you will be sleeping on. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to set this up for you, despite the late hour.” I was getting irritable, all I wanted to do was set this thing up and go to sleep. I didn’t need to deal with Loki’s attitude as well. My annoyance must have shown through, because he changed his tone quickly.
“Do you require assistance?” He asked, crouching down to where I sat on the floor. Well yeah, I require a little sleep too.
“Yes.” I sighed in defeat. I was too tired to try and figure this out or to be snippy with him.
“Go back to sleep. I shall take care of it.” Loki waved me away. I didn’t object, climbing into bed, pulling the covers up a bit. I watched while he figured out how to put this thing together. He had more success than I had, getting it together in 10 minutes. He put the mattress on and I remembered he needed blankets and a pillow.
“Here.” I tossed him an extra pillow, while getting up. We kept an extra bed set in the linen closet, so I pulled it out, tossing it to him. “So why exactly did you come here?” I sat down on my bed as he pulled the comforter I gave him onto the cot.
“I have already told you: to ensure your safety while you remain here.” He didn’t look at me while speaking.
“That was what you told my mother. Why wouldn’t I be safe here? It’s not like it’s my first time on Midgard.”
“My father was worried for your safety.” He said carefully. Loki was definitely fibbing here.
“Odin was worried for my safety? Really? He’s the king of Asgard, protector of the nine realms. He has a lot more to worry about then the little Halfling in his court.” I remarked. Loki was definitely fibbing here.
“Well, there are…bandits on earth…and you were attacked here.” He said slowly, still turned away from me, running his hands along the comforter, smoothing out non-existent creases. “And your attacker and his men are still at large…”
It was silent between us. Until I broke that silence with my realisation. “You were worried for me?” I ventured.
“It is late. We should be off to bed.” Loki said quickly, ending the conversation. I smiled, knowing he was avoiding my question for a reason. Then he took off his vest, and began undoing his shirt underneath. I watched for a few seconds, mesmerized at what I was seeing. Before snapping to my senses.
“What are you doing?” He turned, his chest bare. I had to admit, Loki was pretty cut. I tried to look anywhere else.
“Going to sleep?” He looked extremely puzzled.
“Are you planning on changing into anything? To sleep in?” Did Loki even sleep with pajamas on?
“Women may wear nightgowns, or whatever you seem to be wearing at the moment. I do not sleep with garments on.” He said it as if it was something I should have known about him.
“Um…Alright then. I’ll just uh…” I turned away, facing the wall of my room to give him privacy to…uh, undress. “Could you shut the lights off too?” I asked him. He might as well, since he was closer and standing up. The lights switched off, and I heard the cot creak, the comforter swish back. “Will you be comfortable? Warm enough?”
“It is nothing compared to Asgard, but it will do. For now. I have slept on worse and besides, I did not give you much notice on my arrival.” I turned back to face Loki, who was laying on his back, his arms underneath his head.
I frowned. “Uh-huh. I didn’t get any notice. So you have slept on things worse than a cot?” It was amazing to me how Loki and I could fall into easy conversation. It was late, we were probably both tired and wanted sleep, but we could still end up talking about nothing all the same.
He nodded, the dark silhouette of his face turning to look at me. “I have. Though it is a story for another time. It is late.” I nodded, and he stared at the ceiling of my room. “Goodnight Noelle.” He whispered. I have never heard him whisper before, but it sounded so gentle and soft.
“Goodnight Loki.” We were quiet, but I could tell by his breathing he wasn’t asleep yet. Which I was happy about, since I had something to tell him. “Loki?”
My heart pounded a bit in my chest. “It’s okay to worry about me. I don’t mind.” Part of figured he would just claim to not be worried again, or not respond. I mean, I was being a sentimental sap right now. From what I had seen, Loki wasn’t a sentimental guy.
The room was quiet again. “I was worried about you Noelle.” He confessed. My breath caught in my throat from hearing him admit it. He was worried about me.
“Why?” I tried not to sound too giddy. I felt like a teenage school girl here, fawning and fainting after my crush.
“Your attacker is still out there somewhere. If he were to find out you were here…” He shook his head. “I do not wish to think on it. You are vulnerable here on your own. I could not risk it.”
“I would have been fine. He doesn’t know where I am now. And besides, I do have combat training-” I didn’t get to finish my sentence when Loki interrupted me.
“It would do no good against five grown men with weapons. You do not have much experience in real combat.”
“It would still help me if I were to be attacked again. I’m going to be more careful now anyways.”
“Yes, you will, now that I am here to watch over you. You will be much safer with me around.” Loki smirked. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
“You are quite confident of your abilities Loki. But I doubt we will be seeing my attacker anytime soon.” I hated calling my attacker, Garrick by his name. I didn’t want to give a name to the madman who beat me mercilessly. It made him seem more human to me, and I didn’t think there was anything human about him. I doubted I’d see him around though. He was probably hiding somewhere, or left or maybe he just went nuts. He knows I got away. Whether he knew where I was a different question. All I knew was that I didn’t want to run into him. I just wanted to spend time with my mom here, and get back to Asgard.
“You are awfully quiet.” I had figured Loki would have gone to sleep by now, but I guess that wasn’t the case.
“Just…thinking.” I yawned. I turned toward the clock on my desk and saw that it was nearing one thirty a.m. No wonder I was tired. A trip with the Bifrost and a late night was really doing me in.
“Perhaps it is time for you to sleep.”
I nodded. “Tomorrow is a big day.” Well, it was in my opinion. We probably wouldn’t do much. I snuggled into my blankets a little more, closed my eyes and waited patiently for sleep to come. At first it was weird, just lying there trying to sleep with Loki doing the same a few feet from me. Eventually the butterflies in my stomach ceased and I started to find comfort in the fact that he was here with me. Loki seemed to me to be a carefree person. Well, almost carefree. He didn’t put a lot of worry into other people, or what they were doing, or where they went. He didn’t bother his mind with other people very often. I knew there had to be a few exceptions, but he had never made them known. It made me happy to know I was important enough for him to worry about. I had been in his thoughts, if only for a fleeting moment.
Just as I was about to go under for sleep, his melodic voice interrupted me. “You are getting very good at hiding your thoughts. I cannot hear a thing.” He said it so casually, so conversationally. Like I wasn’t trying to sleep.
I groaned a bit. “Loki, I thought we were supposed to be sleeping. It was your idea. And why are you attempting to hear them now anyways?”
“We are. I am merely entertaining myself until sleep comes.”
“Well, sleep was basically there for me. Aren’t you exhausted from the Bifrost?” I sighed. How did he still have the energy to read thoughts?
“The Bifrost does nothing to my energy. It was built by Asgardians for Asgardians. It would have no effect on myself.”
“Well, it tires me Loki. May I please go to sleep?” I was feeling irritated again, and I didn’t want to be cranky towards Loki. It was taking all I had not to throw a pillow at him to keep him quiet.
“You do not require my permission, little Halfling.” He teased, laughing at me. As I shut my eyes, and his quiet laughter was the last thing I heard before I plunged into sleep.