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 Somewhere Over the Rainbow, (Open)
Loki
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 11:07 AM


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His enemy was defeated, an illusion distracting the ill-fated foe from Loki’s true form so that the Asgardian could deliver the fatal blow. No one noticed among the field of battle, and perhaps it was better that way. Loki’s choice weapon, a staff with a curved blade on the end very unlike a spear, was wicked and unforgiving as it fell solidly onto his enemy’s neck. A blow from behind, a coward’s blow, aided by a veil of sorcery that Loki had used as a child. Surely, the warriors would not recognize this triumph, seeing it as inglorious. It did not matter, however, as Loki was fighting for scraps of glory, but he was also raising his arms as a duty to his people. Each fallen foe may be dismissed as a defeat of fortune, but it was a defeat garnered in the name of the Asgardians.

After a brief glance around to survey the battle, Loki returned to the fight, teleporting out of the way of a foe’s attack with the images of flashing metal - Asgardian armor and weapons - and the age old dance of war in his mind. A quickly summoned shade of an Asgardian drew his new enemy’s attention, and only the thud of heavy steel into the ground and a roar of disappointment and rage marked another successful deceit by Loki. Two of the green-and-gold clad trickster approached now, a feint from both sides that the enemy could not hope to fully block. The closest Loki was the easiest to reach and most threatening, so his enemy took a calculated swipe of a blade before shifting his stance to deal with the second Loki, only to find that the Asgardian was real and far too close for comfort. His weapon allowed Loki to drive his triumph home and stay out of his foe’s reach. Another victory for the second son, undoubtably doomed to be overshadowed.

This was what Loki remembered. It was not about glory. It was not about survival. It was not about duty. It was not about a lust for war. This battle was about everything and nothing for Loki, another brutish clash of powers in an age-old struggle that he was honor-bound to participate in. And that was all, for the honor for which Loki fought would surely not be his own. Many battles before had proven such - the mighty Thor exalted, the lady Sif proclaimed proud and true and strong, the warriors three toasted for the honor of their ancestors who bore such noble souls from their line, and Loki was forgotten, fading despite the glare of his armor and the keen glint of his gaze.

The battle was mechanic, then. Ring of steel against steel, the automatic movement as threat whistled toward vulnerable flesh. Blood and sweat and filth was not glorious, sparking instinctual fear just like the sounds of the battle. A war cry was only effective if you did not hear the spluttered ending as throat as windpipe or lungs or chest were ripped open. What valor was there in rending your enemy into pieces, torn flesh, destroyed armor, shattered bones, fragments of skull, a mist of blood and sweat? It was messy and inelegant, and Loki would have much preferred letting his dim-witted and bloodlust driven brethren lead Asgard into victory, but as a Son of Odin, that was not an option. He was expected to woo the valor of battle, just as Thor was. He was expected to fight, to prevail, and with his sorcery, Loki did.

A thought formed another illusion, the creation fading into life-

- and then it was gone. The battlefield was replaced by an overwhelming feeling of nothing, a green and painful nothing. Loki could almost feel the white spots behind his eyes, nonexistent as they were. It was a nothing that rapidly and surprisingly evolved into something, a crescendo of lights and sounds and feelings until it was becoming too much to bear.

Once again, a change hit him, green and piercing and painful light leaving his head swimming and spinning for a few moments, as if Thor had challenged him to another contest of strength and succeeded, before his thoughts settled into a natural calm. Calm was just a description that only served as a comparison to its previous state, for Loki was beside himself in confusion. Even a fool would have noticed the nakedness he felt and the distinct lack of anything battle-related assaulting his senses, and Loki’s eyes shot open as soon as he managed consciousness and control. Ah, it seemed that a bit of the last overwhelming flash of pain had held actual pain instead of his mind’s interpretation of whatever just happened. Loki found himself staring at a patch of blue sky bordered square metal shapes of structures and twigs and leaves from the bush he was lying in.

Judging by the scratches and soreness Loki felt, he had somehow teleported himself into this bush - or had been teleported by some other sorcerer of his strength, a being that would feel his calculating and rising wrath. With a muffled noise - Loki saw no reason in muting himself when there were no sounds of evident battle around - the Asgardian peeked over the edge of the well-trimmed shrubbery to spy a gilded gold statue... and behind that, a city unknown to Loki. It was fairly obvious that he was not in Asgard anymore, and he could only surmise that he was in another realm (or possibly an illusion world, as Loki was not against this dismal possibility). But why? The sorcerer was brought to mind, and Loki’s irritation and concern rose once again. First thing was first, he needed to hide. If an enemy power had done this to him, it was clear that their intentions were not innocent. Stealing an Asgardian away from the field of battle and his brethren was a fool’s errand, and only a dullard of a sorcerer would capture Loki, God of Mischief, an Asgardian with powerful magic.

With a sense of irritation, Loki pulled himself out of the bush, stone beneath his feet and the familiar gaudiness of the statue in front of him. Asgard was not necessarily known for modesty, and neither was this place, it seemed. The statue was only one indicator of this, the other being the structures surrounding this plot of space, tall and metal and glass and prominent, as they reached up for the skies. A brief smirk was replaced by an intense stare toward the statue as Loki made the decision to change his appearance. His enemies would be looking for Loki, not for this... brute. ”More apt for Thor than I, but this form will suffice.” Muscled and stupid looking. Nothing that Loki was, and nothing that his enemies would expect.

His stare toward the statue quickly turned into a look of shock as nothing he wished occurred, and Loki glanced downward toward his body in an attempt to answer this fresh concern. He had no magic, no power. The shapeshifting and following illusion Loki wished to employ had absented itself from the Asgardian, and it was with a spike of rage that the man addressed this issue. There were people who noticed the naked god now, but Loki ignored them momentarily while he thought, intending fully to make his desires known after he formed an explanation that would suit his mind. This must be another magic placed upon the Asgardian. The teleportation, a limit, though there be no mark upon him that Loki could see to indication bondage of power.

Now, he had his answer. Now, he turned his attention to these beings around him, a harsh and commanding tone issuing from his lips like the order of a proper Son of Odin. ”What realm is this?” Loki demanded, ignoring his nudity because even without clothes he still had the right of his lineage, the right of his title. ”What sorcery is your realm working? Do you dare challenge Asgard in a contest of power?” He had been a fool to assume that his enemy was not watching, and it was with narrowed eyes Loki surveyed the beings around him. He would find whoever had committed this aggrievance, and they would pay dearly.

(Loki landed in the bushes at the Rockefeller Center, and this is what he sees.)
Black Widow
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 12:04 PM


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In the country of her birth - where everything seemed to be the colour of stone and steel and dirty snow, at least in the eye of her memory - Natasha would have stood out now, with her heart's blood red hair and the clean paleness of her skin, the way said skin was bared outside of a tight vest and even sleeker jeans (this morning's light sweater having long since been tied around her waist because fuck you fashion, Natasha made anything work) as opposed to layer upon layer of thick cloth to fight back the cold. She remembered Russia as being either a place where the poor scuttled this way and that outside, chastened and cowed, or sang with riotous gusto within the warmths of small and cosy houses and nowhere in either of those pictures did the graceful, dangerous ghost that was Natasha Romanoff fit in.

In New York though...

Here, in the big city, everything was glossy and shiny and brightly coloured. The streets were dirty sure, the buildings a bit smog-stained, but the right parts of the city felt as if they bled money and character in equal quantities. With tourists filling the street, rubbing shoulders with natives and businessmen, the brightest areas of the city were vicarious, vibrant melting pots. And, here, it didn't matter how unique you were because no one cared. Trying to stand out just made you a part of the crowd, one of the masses crying for attention, and individuality was an illusion.

Natasha liked crowds. She liked this city. The average New Yorker, when faced with something out of the ordinary, couldn't have cared less unless it was going to get in their way somehow. They had little patience for anything other than the ground in front of their feet, their newspapers, their destinations. People rarely bothered to look at things that stood out and that meant that Natasha herself was always going to blend right in.

As with all things, though, there were of course always exceptions.

Attracted to crowds as she was, this particular event in Natasha's life was, for once, a coincidence. But because it was her job to pay attention to things, maybe she saw the flash of light first, before the people around who were less invested in anything other than their own lives or the tourist attraction they'd just come to see. That being said, even in a city where publicity stunts and flashing lights were normal, this was an eye-catching one. Though, wow, not quite as eye-catching as the naked guy who suddenly appeared in the bushes right in front of the woman.

Natasha was used to naked people in New York. There was the crazy cowboy in Times Square, the provocatively dressed people down in the Village, the drunk guys sprawled on steps in the mornings after a too-adventurous night out, the crazies. So her main response would have been normally to just raise an eyebrow, roll her eyes and walk away from the idiots. But that light, that noise...

She watched from behind overly-large sunglasses, the reflective surfaces conveying anonymity to her face as well as a certain ridiculousness. Other people were paying attention to the naked man as well, more so perhaps than in other places because the Rockefeller Center was such a family attraction and, besides, he was actually in the bushes. There were probably some kids who were going to leave the family holiday needing therapy now and that was a number that was increasing rapidly as the guy extricated himself from the bushes....and then started, seemingly, talking to the statue of Prometheus. Or at least taking offence with it.

(Yes, definitely one of the crazies.)

Natasha snorted to herself, aware of the growing crowd, and rested a casual hand on the arch of one hip. Not having found the statue to be decent in conversation, apparently, Mister Tall, Dark and Mysterious Green Light turned to the crowd and, hmm. Natasha pushed her sunglasses down her nose and gave the man a look over their brim, updating him to Mister Tall, Dark and Ye Olde English and, oh, Did We Mention Naked? The nudity didn't bother her, but the green light (and she was so glad that she'd been looking in the right direction to witness that as she'd killed time for a snack here) in conjunction with a loss of clothes and the fact that he seemed eloquent enough for all that he spoke like something out of a Renaissance Fair...well, it was her job to pay attention to things. To pick up on odd details and try to see what they meant. And even if it had just been a trick of some sort and he actually was crazy, or just some of stunt, well, even ex-spies took lunch breaks every now and then.

"The realm where you'll be arrested for public indecency soon if you don't cover your junk," she said dryly, sending a pointed look at his crotch and looking suitably unimpressed even if he was about a foot taller than her. Around her, the crowd seemed torn between outrage, fear and amusement (there were definitely some cameras flashing) but Natasha herself looked as coolly composed as ever. "As for a contest of power, I'll only accept arm-wrestling you if you put some clothes on." She arched her eyebrows at him, giving him one of those innocent-and-yet-completely-not looks even as she failed to completely hide the calculating expression in her eyes. "You're not from around here, are you?"

(Funnily enough, she was just being ironic and didn't actually know how right she was with that one...)
Loki
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 01:49 PM


Unregistered









The people of this realm seemingly refused to answer him, some cowering back and shuffling off as if Loki was diseased, some laughing aloud and openly mocking him, some simply watching. Only one of these responses actively angered Loki - he did not react to being scorned very kindly - but it was the lack of a response at all that quietly twisted the warped strings of Loki’s soul to dismiss anger and replace it with irritation and a quiet fear. These people were not acting as if they understood. Just as he stared at them, they stared at Loki with blank eyes and confused thoughts, or so he could guess. He was quick to form another set of demands in his mind, but a girl interrupted him and Loki turned his attention to her.

Any answer, any information was better than nothing, and the Lie-Smith was clever enough to take this knowledge with careful consideration. These people might not seem knowledgable of his situation, but there was nothing Loki could take for granted, even the twittering of this woman. She spoke, and Loki watched with calculating eyes, sorting explicit and implicit information and tossing out the parts that were unimportant. The particular form of her speech did nothing to hide the woman’s sarcasm, which in and of itself could be considered a universal language. Derision was always understood.

Loki’s first reaction was anger, as an insulted god should react; however, he knew that with these seemingly dull creatures he would need to remain calm and make use of his silver-tongue. Any being worthy of note knew about the nine worlds, and this particular realm seemed to be unaware of this fact. He sought help for patience in the depths of his soul and mustered as much calm and composure as he could before turning a careful and distinctively non-judgmental eye to the woman. Non-judgmental on the exterior. ”And what would be the name of this realm?” Loki asked, straightforward with a keen edge of exasperation that he could not seem to remove. Stress was doing nothing good for the god. In a moment of foresight, he corrected his words, tentatively offering another suggestion. ”This world.”

The trickster already had sneaking suspicions that he was on Midgard, or, as mentioned before, in an illusion world. Obviously, Asgard was out of the question, as was Jotunheim. Surely this could not be Hel, and Alfheim and Svartalfheim and Vanaheim were not taken into consideration. These beings looked too much like Asgardians for this to be Muspelheim or Nidavellir - which left Midgard. Although he was unaware of some of the nine worlds, he knew that Midgard was the only logical choice. Elves or dwarves or giants, these were not.

The phrasing of “public indecency” meant only what Loki could decipher from the words themselves, and certainly he could ascertain the meaning of the word “junk” after the woman pointedly looked at him. ”It is no fault of my own that I lack proper clothing.” Because even Asgardians did not wander around society naked on a regular basis, and Loki could understand the woman’s point. He was attracting far too much attention as it were, which spoiled Loki's plans for blending in, especially with his lack of sorcery. ”So unless this realm,” Loki made a point to emphasize this phrase and sound and a significant gaze to imply that by “this realm”, he meant the woman objecting to his nudity. ”intends to provide a solution, so I will remain.”

Surely, he could find clothing, but Loki was much more concerned with the name of the realm, with being proved right unfortunately, than anything else. The cheeky woman was his only option at the moment, as the remainder of the crowd seemed uninterested in replying to the god. After that was ascertained, he could begin figuring out how to return to Asgard and to his brethren.
Black Widow
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 02:18 PM


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Member No.: 402
Joined: 27-April 12



Curiouser and curiouser.

And, laughable as the idea of Natasha ever being compared to an archetype such as Alice was, there were parallels that could be drawn here. Not that she was the one who seemed to be lost down the rabbit hole, but still. Everything was mad today, it seemed, between the varying reactions of the crowd and the haughty, naked man currently watching her with an expression that was almost disturbingly like their own.

Huh.

He did not look aggressive or scathing in the way he assessed her, but Natasha couldn't shake the bearing of an odd sort of carriage - some inexplicable way in which his stance, his expression, the way he bore himself all combined into a sort of subtle and yet unquestionable confidence that one rarely saw today. It was an unusual sense she got from him, but not in itself a threat. Still, it made Natasha reach up to fully remove her sunglasses, baring the delicacy of her features and the far stronger look of consideration that they wore, so as better to study him. He was interesting, she'd give him that much, and she had the feeling he would have been anyway even if he was wearing clothes. Though, she had to admit, it was the not-so-big bang that had thrown up a red flag for her more than anything else. Naked men she'd seen before...that light? Less so.

She had her theories. Obviously, it was logical to assume that he was some sort of mutant who clearly hadn't mastered...whatever power it was that involved bright lights and teleportation and losing one's clothes. And, if that wasn't it, Natasha's specialty was in people who weren't technically mutants, but had powers nonetheless. And she wanted to know under which category Captain No-Pants fell.

Hence why she was willing to talk to him when no one else was. Hence why she felt free at least to smirk a little up at him and make eye contact with his gaze rather than, ahem, anywhere else. Because he had information she wanted and, okay, in that sense maybe she was Alice because Natasha was ever the curious one.

Realm. That was an interesting choice of words. Natasha could appreciate odd vocabulary choices if English was not his first language, but he sounded comfortable in his eloquence even if it was archaic. And if 'realm' had been odd, 'world' actively made Natasha's eyes narrow. For once she was unsubtle and you could practically feel the moment her interest sharpened as she honed onto something, anything out of the ordinary.

"...This city is New York City, if that's what you're asking," she said slowly. "The country is the United States of America. And, funnily enough, that's on Earth." She spoke casually enough, but her mind was racing and she glanced around at the watching crowds. It was suddenly clear to her that this guy was odd, more so than usual, and - possessive as ever - she wanted to be the one who had access to him, to him and his oddness and his answers.

That was what prompted her to take a step forwards, closer to him - even if the crowd's attention clearly wasn't going to be taken away any time soon, she didn't want her words to end up audible to anyone else or, heaven forbid, on youtube. It was already bad enough that she was being photographed now, for all that she kept her head pointedly turned away from as many crowds as she could.

"I'm guessing you don't have any money then," she said dryly. "Or, if you do, you're not keeping it in any place that I'm then willing to touch it once you've got it out. So...." Her mind moved at its usual rapid place, cataloguing the crowd, the nearest stores, the fact that Saks Fifth Avenue was just across the street from here, but that he'd never get past any security guards dressed like this...

Ah. Starbucks. Of course.

She looked squarely up at him. "If you want clothes, I can get them for you. But we'll need to hide you somewhere first and you'll have to stay there until I come back with something to make you decent." Obviously, she was a stranger and he had no reason to trust her (smart move where Natasha was concerned anyway, really) but she was also aware that she was the only person seemingly willing to talk to him. More than that she wanted to get to the bottom of this and that wouldn't be possible if he ran off now, or... "Well, that's option number one anyway." She shrugged, a study in boredom. "Option two involves the authorities coming to take you away. I'm sure some outraged Christian has called them already." There was that delicate eyebrow raise again. "Your choice, mister...?"
Loki
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 04:42 PM


Unregistered









Loki took the brief pause in-between his exhausting interchange with this woman to survey the area more, paying less note to the people and giving his attention to the buildings around him. Asgard was certainly no stranger to the large and flashy ornamentation of their city, especially where it concerned gold and metal, but this city was different. From where Loki was standing, he could not clearly see the cars and such that passed by, or at least he refused to see them. His attention was focused on deciphering this world, picking out clues here and there to give him a yea or nay for Midgard. There were likely to be clues if this was an illusion world, but even a master of illusion and trickery could not possibly know the workings of another sorcerer’s mind. He could only rely on what he observed, and observe Loki would.

It came to his attention that he bore no blood, no dirt, no filth on him from the battle previous, and Loki raised an arm to check for a slight wound he had received. Nothing. No wound, no scar, only memory. Intriguing, yet concerning. The god furrowed his brow as he stared at unscathed skin, rubbing a thumb along his jaw before the girl distracted him yet again. Later he would return to this train of thought. Loki retained scratches given to him by the bushes, but he had no mark from the battle, not even scent. Even the greatest form of teleportation did not change the current physical attributes of the sorcerer or the target of the magic. It stood to reason that some kind of healing sorcery had been laid upon him, or... something else, Loki was not sure what.

It did not sit well with the god, not knowing what magic had been cast upon him, what manipulation he had been forced into. He was the god of mischief, and some clever sorcerer had mischief’d him. What pride Loki lacked in his fighting capabilities and physical strength he placed in his intelligence and his magic. Now, it seemed that someone was playing games with the trickster god, challenging Loki on his own territory. Like any threat, Loki did not take this lightly.

The woman’s words brought him the confirmation he needed, after suffering through what could only be area names until the word “Earth” was brought into play. Aha, Earth. Midgard. The other names were of little importance to him, but Loki filed away the words, just in case they proved useful later in this trial. Loki knew little of Earth, and it seemed he would begin to understand more and more as time passed by. The way the woman told him the names of her world indicated to Loki once again that these people were likely unfamiliar with the nine worlds, or at least this common class was.

Loki cast a watchful eye on the woman, looking away from a spot in the distance he’d been watching as he thought to see why the woman stepped closer, and to make sure she was not going to pull any tricks. There was no tensing of muscles, as some of the warriors might do, but Loki was prepared regardless. Naked and powerless left him at a temporary disadvantage, but he could at least fend off any attack from this one woman. The crowd, however, was another story entirely, and Loki chose his passive, manipulative side instead of acts of aggression that would surely anger the Earth beings. He had to rely on this woman, for now.

Even though she was not watching him, Loki continued to observe as whatever inner-workings she was toiling through ran their course. Soon enough, she was speaking again, but Loki saw no reason to acknowledge the absence of money when it was clear that all he had was flesh and blood. Apparently, getting clothes entailed hiding. Considering the amount of attention Loki was receiving for doing absolutely nothing but standing, he agreed that reducing his presence in Midgard would be an necessary measure until he could properly blend in. This woman seemed to be the only one taking him seriously, and Loki would rather take his chances with this woman than make an effort to find another so willing to help.

Besides, he did not care to deal with the authorities of Midgard when this was an Asgardian matter, and Loki was not too keen on dealing with any “Christians” given the context. Though the woman seemed to suggest his name was needed, Loki answered without giving it. ”Clothes are necessary, if I am to remain here.” And that was all.
Black Widow
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 05:13 PM


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This was what Natasha did best, reacting on the spot to a situation that might have baffled or paralysed others. Instead of wasting time staring or worrying about what was possible or not, the redheaded woman tended to just take things in her stride (metaphorically, given how she didn't have the longest legs of any woman.)

Even naked, ridiculously tall Brits who didn't seem to know what planet they were on and who posed a threat to shrubbery by teleporting badly.

But that was what Natasha was good at, not really letting anything surprise her, or at least not for long. She recovered fast from most shocks, always had, because surprise was what got you bested or, worse, expelled killed. And today was no different.

So while this conversation hadn't taken all that long, people behind her were clearly still only just working out what they should do or say in response to the nudist that had appeared in such a public place, and it was their slower reactions that Natasha wanted to avoid now. So even as her instincts were to hurry, to exit the scene before anyone else was brave or foolhardy enough to try and muscle in on their conversation, Natasha maintained a cool and composed exterior. It was one thing to have her attentiveness noticed, quite another to let any other of her emotions play over her face. Those she automatically kept closer to her chest.

And, indeed, he proved to at least not be a moron (so far) and Natasha's response was to nod briskly. Good, he'd agreed. No time to waste then, not when security around popular tourist destinations like this were much better in this city than others because of the political climate.

"Glad you agree then," she said crisply, hands already reaching down to untie her sweater from around her waist. It was thin and far too small to have been offered to him as a garment designed to cover anything important, but as a piece of cloth adequate to shroud the bare essentials? It was good enough. "Here." She handed it to him. "Cover what you can, but more importantly, follow me closely. Once we get indoors, if we get stopped just let me talk to them, you carry on towards the back of the building where there should be a restroom--" Damn, if he didn't know what planet this was, would he know what a restroom was? "--a door with an icon like a person on it." God, she hoped it would be empty. "Wait for me to catch up and then we can lock the door and, that way, you won't be blinding anyone anymore."

She may not have been military, but Natasha was more than capable of being bossy and her words were as authoritative as they were lowly and quickly spoken. A glance up at him, another at the crowd around them, and then she nodded at him before turning on her heel and stalking quickly away. There was a look she'd perfected over the years, an aura that she'd built up, one that said 'get the fuck out of my way' and it was surprising how menacing a little redhead could look sometimes.

Unsurprisingly, for the most part, people got out of her way and Natasha just hoped that her naked friend was following.

Two minutes later (thank God for Starbucks aiming to convert every other building in any North American city) Natasha was sliding the lock of the restroom door into place and exhaling slightly. They'd earned looks, lots of them, and one barista had even raised his voice as if he was about to try and turf them out, but luckily Natasha's dangerous expression quelled him as she swept him by and no one had tried to stop them.

And now she was in a bathroom with a naked guy. How awfully familiar. Except Natasha wasn't flirting or playing here and her gaze was entirely business-like as she turned back to him, for all that there was an element of smugness there as well. "Right," she said, "that's you hidden for at least a little while now. It'll take even the cops a while to find you here and you can lock the door after I'm gone. That'll slow them down hopefully at least until I'm back with something to wear." Her head tilted in a coolly questioning manner. "You okay?"
Loki
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 06:41 PM


Unregistered









He had not expected the woman to magic clothes out of nowhere, especially since all his references to any sorcery had earned blank looks from everyone involved. Was it possible that this realm was free of any magic? Loki mentally shuddered at the thought, his distaste of the idea remaining in his mind only. So, it was with no protest that he accepted the scrap of cloth - Loki hardly thought it clothing, especially considering the garb the “lady” Sif wore on a regular basis - and proceeded to do as told.

Loki was not stupid. He recognized that this was a foreign realm where he was underpowered and ill-informed. There was a quiet addition to these statements that his speech patterns were significantly different from those of the natives and that certainly his idea of clothing lay nowhere near that of Midgard, but these things were easily remedied with practice and access to goods. Besides, he was comprehensible, correct? That was what mattered, as all other aspects could and would be answered by this girl if she proved to be useful.

So far, the woman had proved herself worthy. Loki questioned trusting her, but that was a natural act for him. The only things he relied upon were standards of actions from his brethren and now from the Midgardians. If a person could be relied upon to react in a certain, predictable manner, then Loki did not need to trust them. He could predict them, but not trust. The burden of being a habitual liar and manipulator, perhaps, but it served him well.

They passed through the crowd, Loki noting with amusement how the red-haired woman managed to force people to move without saying a word. He didn’t have to see her face - the startled looks on the others’ faces were enough to prove his guess, especially when they did not protest moving out of the way. Loki once again ignored the rest of Midgard’s inhabitants. He had plenty of time to garner attention later, but if these authorities were any sort of governing body, Loki did not plan to meet them, though there would be no need to explain Asgard. He was a lie-smith, after all.

The stone turned into another, smoother but more textured substance as the pair made their way to their destination, and colored metal things moved about here and there, carting people around on the new surface. Loki assumed it was simply another type of stone and he paid more heed to those around him, this time giving Midgardians his attention. The first thing Loki noticed was the lack of armor. Of course, this woman he was following was the first victim of this observation, but Loki could hardly judge a world on its armor when he was stark naked.

There were other things, of course. A wider variety of colors in the actual clothing, which was thin and sparse and bore symbols that perhaps indicated alliances or something of the like. He would find out later. The people walked on the flat stone surface that was white-brown, while the things that they travelled inside moved about on the black surface. People walked everywhere, but there was a pattern in the things; however, Loki only watched them for a few moments, not enough to get a complete idea.

The more interesting observation brought him back to the lack of armor, since a lack of armor was emphasized by a lack of weapons. And no sorcery, if not by that name? This was a sad realm indeed. A small part of Loki was appreciative for the evident lack of a warrior culture, desiring to de-power Thor and his dull friends in a manner like he was suffering and see how they survived. Without his magic, Loki was certainly less capable, but he had his lies and his deceit. He would survive.

They had very little issue getting to their final destination - the red-head was certainly fierce, but it did help that, naked as he was, Loki held himself in a manner that did not suggest any shame in his nakedness and he had a look on his face that was perfect for a god of mischief. He would take no quarrel at this time. Loki was also significantly taller than some of these Midgardians (especially the protesting man in the small shop), so that helped, too. They moved into the small room that the woman found, and Loki waited patiently for further explanation, bothering less and less with the cloth the girl offered since it was noted that there would be no issue in this space. Questions, though helpful to the still-confused Asgardian, were not relevant to the instructions he desired.

Analytic as always, Loki’s thought processes concerning these “cops”, which he related to the aforementioned authorities, were interrupted by a question from the woman, which he could only assume to be a statement of concern as he judged by her body language, since “okay” meant nothing in particular to him. Since he saw no need to delve into the personal subject of “how in Odin’s name am I on Midgard and what do I do now?”, Loki simply blinked once before responding to the woman. ”Why would I not be okay?” This was a jump, as Loki was only partially confident that the word meant as he thought, but the woman’s next response would clear any doubt.

He was naked, in a foreign realm, with a stranger as a friend - alone, with no magic, no weapons, and the authorities were most likely after him. Loki was doing fantastic, by his standards. No one had tried to kill him, yet.
Black Widow
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 07:27 PM


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In hindsight, it had been a somewhat foolish question. More than that, Natasha didn't actually care if the guy was okay. She didn't tend to care about the 'okay' levels of anyone other than herself. But it was just what one asked and, for once, her mind had been preoccupied with other thoughts, causing her to have a momentary lapse in practicality.

Her response was to eye him a little as she gauged whether he was being sarcastic or not (because that was her territory, obviously) and then decided that he wasn't. So she shook her head a little, red hair flying this way and that, and started rummaging around in a pocket.

"By 'okay' I meant 'I hope you're going to hold it together long enough that I'm not going to come back to you curled up in the corner rocking back and forth because five hundred tourists just saw your junk'," was her somewhat flippant response even as (with the difficult normally associated with extremely tight jeans) she extricated one of her temporary cellphones, the ones that had certain...modifications to them. "It's not like you can call me," she said as she held it out for him to see, even as she touched the screen a couple of times and pulled up a particular app, one that looked like a comical big red button, but... "Still, if you get into trouble, or you think someone's about to come in to try and get rid of you, just press that." Appropriate pointing and miming went here. "And I'll be back."

The phone got handed him and Natasha didn't bother sending him a reassuring smile or any of that bullshit, but her expression was level and direct as she looked up at him. "I'm not going far, I'll be ten minutes tops." Then she looked thoughtful, stepped closer and held a measuring hand just up over the top of her head as she tried to accurately quantify how tall he was in relation to her. She was good at guessing, but if she had a second or two to judge it by her own body when, let's face it, it wasn't as if the restroom as a big place, she might as well.

Data assimilated into that ever busy brain of hers, she nodded (more to herself than to him) and stepped back, her hand tracing an ironic little salute before she did so. "Try not to get into any more trouble while I'm gone," she warned, finally looking almost amused as she unlatched the door and began to slip out. "Play Angry Birds if you have even the faintest idea what that is. And lock the door behind me."

Her exits were always swift and smooth, like water slipping down a drain, and there was a certain element of haste to the situation now. Natasha wasn't averse to working fast, though and, exactly ten and a half minutes later, she was knocking on the Starbucks restroom's door again, a few bags in hand...
Loki
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 08:04 PM


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The flat device handed to Loki indeed bore a large red button on the front, and it did not take much thought to understand that whatever he was holding reacted to touch. With that in mind, the naked god held onto the phone with an almost gingerness, not terribly keen to press the button by accident. The symbols on the thing were foreign to him, but Loki noted that whatever this was, magic or something else, it held other information. And who was the god of mischief to deny himself the pleasure of information about a new realm?

It was less important that his definition of ‘okay’ had been right, save for another catalogued piece of knowledge. Instead, Loki turned his attention to the directions of the woman once again. ‘Tourists’ was assumed to be in reference to the people of this realm, though what it meant was still lost to Loki, but the point of the woman’s statement was clear. The same could be said for “ten minutes”, as if that statement meant anything at all to the Asgardian. If Loki were to judge by the context, he would have guessed distance, but the purpose of the phrase was that the woman was not going to be far away.

Loki idly wondered why this woman cared, since certainly his only investment in a stranger in his realm would have been to gather information, but he once again elected to remain observer and save judgment for a time when he could accurately understand Midgard.

Again, the woman stepped closer to Loki, and the Asgardian remained still for what seemed to be a measurement. She was significantly shorter than him, but in her air of confidence, Loki assumed that he could rely on her judgment when it came to clothing in Midgard. At this point in time, even attention attracting clothing was better than nothing. So, he watched as the calculating look on the woman’s face met his eyes, another attempt at placating Loki on her lips.

Then she left, Loki nodding his agreement and twisting the lock on the door when she was gone, before settling himself on the seat here in this ‘restroom’ and looking at the device in his hand with interest. It was black and flat and thin and the front was lit up with that red button the woman mentioned. She seemed to have implied that its use was more than just the button (however, all Angry Birds commentary was lost on Loki since the woman failed to mention it was something on the device).

Loki stared at it more before deciding to tinker, as per usual. He could not simply let things be, no, that was too simple. Though the language of Midgard, written only, it seemed, was foreign and indecipherable to Loki, he could understand symbols, and the two small buttons at the bottom were the only ones that made any kind of sense to him. A square piece with lines and a curved arrow. With only a moment of thought, Loki pressed the latter button, assuming that an arrow that circled back to the start probably signified ‘go back’ or something of the like. He knew there were other images this device could display besides the button, and Loki eyed the grid-screen of pictures while he thought.

The concept of touching something to make it change was interesting, but Loki was much keener on figuring out what was in this thing before figuring out how it worked. With his lack of language, Loki assumed he would be better off following the symbols first. Pressing another symbol brought up a different screen, and pressing the arrow again brought him to the former once more. Definitely a ‘go back’. He pressed various symbols until he found the one the woman had brought up, then set the device aside and waited patiently. The language barrier was proving to be too much for any real information to be gathered, so Loki was going to have to rely on the spoken word.

Soon enough, there was a knock at the door, and a moment of hesitation preluded Loki opening the portal slightly, unsure if the being outside was the woman or not. It was, and Loki allowed her entry, waiting once again for answers. ”I did not need this... thing.” He said, handing the device back to the woman with a neutral air despite his lingering curiosity. ”As you claimed, it did not take long to find appropriate clothing.”
Black Widow
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 08:28 PM


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Natasha made a point of sliding fluidly around the door when it was only open a sliver, rather than letting it swing open and bare the interior any more fully. So far, no one seemed to be too worried, though there were a few people waiting impatiently for the bathroom who'd glared at her as she bypassed the line (a too-sharp, too-bright smile and a "Fashion emergency" had quelled most of the muttering) and the uppity barista she'd terrified before certainly wasn't going to argue with her twice.

Display of nimbleness aside, she wove her way past him and waited for the door to be closed before nodding approvingly and depositing her bags on the ground before taking her phone back. "I told you I'd be back soon," she said as she pocketed the thing. "And I hate shopping, so any excuse to be fast..."

She knelt then, conscious of the air-conditioning in here and how it was raising goosebumps on her bare arms, but it wasn't as if she particularly wanted to put her sweater back on right now. Instead, she began to rummage efficiently through the bags, pulling out garments in a logical order.

"Here," she said, handing him a pair of dark jeans that she'd estimated would fit those ridiculously long legs of his. "Try these on." A snort. "Not that you have much choice, here, I was only paying for one outfit."

And even that had been the first display podium she'd seen in Saks in the menswear sections, one of the ones with a mannequin sporting a complete outfit and all the components on the table around it. She hadn't been shopping with the aim of being fashionable here, she'd just wanted to be fast and to end up with something that wouldn't make him stand out any more than a tall, razor-cheekboned potential-mutant would in the average crowd. So long as he was clothed in something that wasn't too ridiculous or ugly or eye-catching, that was a definite improvement on...well, the nudity.

There was no underwear or socks in the bags, those had been in a completely different section and hadn't been worth the hassle. But, in rapid succession, she pulled out a fairly innocuous if fitted dark t-shirt and a paler shirt to go over it, then a pair of the plainest shoes she'd been able to see and she was far more dubious about the fit of those, but that was why she'd been relieved that they were sandals. And, finally, because it had been there, one of those dark scarves she'd seen so many hipsters wearing of late.

In that, the guy would fit in perfectly in this city.

Laying them all out for him (and for her own sake not looking up too much while she was down at crotch level) Natasha retreated then, not bothering to turn away but at least giving him some space. That involved sitting down on the toilet with its closed lid, crossing her long legs and then studying him from beneath half-lowered lids, her face thoughtful until something occurred to her.

"Oh...you do know how to wear those, right?" she asked with a certain amount of caution. Natasha was used to dealing with people, but never before with someone who seemed quite so...confused by every-day life as this guy was.

God knows, she didn't particularly want to have to dress him.
Loki
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 09:06 PM


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Loki could not judge the citizens of Midgard due to his inexperience, but this red-haired woman was not making a bad impression on him. Assuredly, having a social background in the realm’s culture and a base understanding of their purpose in life would have proved to be useful, but beggars could not be choosers. Loki was almost grateful for any help he received. Most of Asgard received his resentment, especially since the rumors about Thor’s little brother circulating did not paint Loki in a favorable light. On Midgard? Loki was not Thor’s brother. He was nobody, and even a nobody’s voice was heard above the ill-favored. That was one of the satisfying realizations that Loki had about his adventure. Thor’s might and power meant nothing here, which meant that Loki had a chance at being something other than who he was currently.

Of course, returning to Asgard was his top priority, but who was to say that Loki could not leave his mark on Midgard before he left?

Assumably, this meant he needed clothing first. The woman questioned his ability to put on said articles of clothing, and with the garb looking more familiar (and foreign) as Loki looked at it, he quickly responded with an answer. ”Assuredly, these are less complicated than your,” His efforts at denying his overwhelming confusion with this realm and his lack of knowledge faltered here, and Loki simply gestured to the device he had been using earlier.

He hated this stupidity of his. Knowledge was his power, and Loki was tripping over this society left and right and proving himself to be as useful as a beast on Midgard. Except, apparently, to scare these “tourists’. Whatever they were. The God of Mischief knew the unsaid rules of the universe. Those dim enough to believe lies or half-truths were the ones manipulated, and they deserved it. Loki, at this point in his life, could not tell you a television from a teaset, and he was feeling very threatened by the idea that this woman, or anybody, could manipulate him and he would never know it.

A quick survey of the actual clothing led him to put on the pants first, as suggested. He had the presence of mind to face the opposite direction from the woman, but only so that she did not note his moment of confusion concerning the zipper. A useful mechanism, but one foreign to a “man” who was used to laces or ties. They fit well enough, especially since Loki had experienced some very ill-fitting clothes over the years, usually practice outfits. The shirt was easy, as a dip in the front of the article of clothing was practically universal. This was fitted fine, as well, and Loki mentally praised the woman’s observations. Because, those small details are the kind of stuff liars and spies remember.

The other shirt was put on in order of placement, Loki taking cues from the woman’s organization so he would look less the fool than he already did. The Asgardian was momentarily challenged by the shoes, but it was simply because of their lack of straps or any kind of binding. Hrm. The scarf was quickly recognized as a scarf, since cold was another universal truth, and Loki pulled that over his neck before looking down at the results. Save for the shoes, it was not bad. Certainly less ostentatious than his usual garb, but on Midgard that was a good thing. Loki needed time to absorb information before he could start garnering attention.

With that over and done with, he turned back to the woman, his stance from before unchanging even after he was clothed. Loki extended a word of thanks, as the Midgardian had done nothing but be helpful (and justifiably condescending at times, but Loki could not blame her there). ”I appreciate your aid, lady-?” With this, Loki gestured toward the woman, expecting a name even though he had given none earlier.
Black Widow
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 09:31 PM


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People had vulnerabilities. Some people had more of them than others, some less. Some just hid them better than the rest of the world, while others wore them on the sleeves, over their hearts, practically advertising their weakest points. Knowing another person's weak spot while keeping your own secret, that was the most basic formula that went into being successful. That went into winning.

And Natasha wanted to be a winner.

It was why she watched people so much, because knowledge was power. There was the reason they said that the devil was in the detail and Natasha was usually said devil, small and pert and overly-fond of the colour red. All she lacked was the tail and a jaunty pair of horns.

More importantly than that, Natasha was good at looking for tells, taking details and extrapolating their meaning out of them. It was part psychology, part experience, part an innate sort of instinct that went into always trying to be one step ahead of the other person, to having the advantage.

And, right now, as far as pertinent knowledge went, Natasha was superior to this man.

He'd asked about the world. Had seemed baffled by her vocabulary. And, now, he didn't even know what to call a phone, was admitting that it was complicated to him. And that was important, the degree to which she had knowledge that he did not. Knowledge that, her calculating mind pointed out, he would need to fit in.

It wasn't personal, what she did, the way she automatically tried to assess how to gain the upper hand in any situation. It was her training shining through when she sought to manipulate people, or to ensure that she had something that they needed, rather than any malice. Because she was a survivor and a woman with her particular skill-set did that by making sure that she had power over people that had nothing to do with physical strength or fighting skill or money, though she had adequate amounts of all three.

So even as she ranked herself against him and became all the more keenly aware of just how great the gulf between her knowledge of what counted as everyday for her, she made sure to keep a neutral expression on her face. Internally, she was leaping for joy, or at least the avaristic part of her was. The part of her that was less spy and more practical was...well, not sympathetic. She didn't do that. But trying to imagine herself so vastly out of place, stripped of the advantage that she tended to have in the world here of knowing more than other people...

In very American terms, it sucked to be him.

"...a phone," she said finally, her tone level and carefully lacking in any sort of emphasis. She wanted to avoid sounding judgemental here until she'd fully decided how she was going to handle him, this...stranger who was like no one she had ever met before. "It's for communicating with people. If they also have one, at least." She'd save the finer functions of smart-phones for another time; he didn't look prepared to handle twitter just yet.

He turned and she raised an eyebrow at his ass behind his back before it went away. She still studied him though as he showed he could in fact work out what went there, though her assessment was not at all physical and instead focussed on her trying to put the pieces of it all together. Mutant or superhuman explained the teleporting, the light, maybe even the nudity. But the memory loss? Or, no, not memory loss, a seeming lack of comprehension of anything modern about this world, or even where they were, while still displaying an awareness of the notion of planets?

That was the jarring note in the melody. The piece that didn't fit. Natasha had met people who'd been brainwashed before, wiped clean by men in white, people with both natural and artificial amnesia. She'd talked with crazy people, of varying scales, and talented liars. And, aside from the last one, none of them felt like him. And if it was the latter...why?

Or was there something else?

Such was the main question in Natasha's head when he finally turned back around, fully clothed now and wasn't that a relief? She didn't bother standing up, just smiled at him - wolfish and sharp - when he asked for a name that he hadn't given her earlier. But, in this case, she knew so much more than him that she felt uncommonly benevolent.

"Natasha," she said, an ironic little wave being traced in the air before she deigned to stand up, if only to start gathering up the empty bags. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm leaving before people turn up asking where the naked guy spotted coming in here went." She tossed him an inquiring look, one with a subtle smile accompanied by it. "So are you coming with me for a crash course in fitting in in this city, or are you going to wing it?" The smirk grew a little. "I'll even buy you a frappuccino if you're thirsty. That can be lesson number one."
Loki
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 10:44 PM


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The funny thing was that on Asgard, Loki was the observant one, the cold and calculating, the manipulative, the devil out for his own good. Here, on Midgard? He had the same traits, but one could only do so much with the cultural knowledge of a child. The look in the woman’s eyes, Natasha’s eyes was a reflection of his own, but her gaze was clear, as she knew what Loki lacked. That, in and of itself, was painful, but Loki felt... fortunate to have come across this woman in his time of need. He had his doubts, ever present, but he was fairly certain that this woman knew how the world worked.

Which meant that Loki was undeniably in a bad position, but as much as he lacked trust for this woman, he could only rely on her for the time being. She had helped him. She was informing him. Even though he doubted her interests were sincere - a sentiment mirrored in Loki himself - she seemed to be his only source of information, and given that Natasha was already aware of his lack of knowledge, it made this learning curve easier to handle. Besides, where else was he going to figure out how their payment system worked and get an interpretation of their written word?

Not the “tourists”.

He catalogued the knowledge of a phone into his memory, mentally noting it’s use and questions he had pertaining to it, but Loki would answer these himself. As nonjudgmental as Natasha appeared, there was no doubt that she was criticizing him, just as he did to her. It was a natural thing for any being to do, especially those in Loki’s - and assumably Natasha’s - trade, whatever that may be. There was no warrior, no artist, no anything that had the same look that a deceiver did, and neither did they act the same. As the Earth saying goes, it takes one to know one, and regardless of what the woman would undoubtably say - or not say - she was nothing but a deceiver.

Moving onward to a happier note (relatively), Natasha’s extension of an invitation for some more Midgardian lessons was a tempting proposition. It was not as if Loki had anywhere to go, and even if he planned on returning to Asgard, he would need to figure out how, and that endeavor was pointless if he knew not of their culture and abilities. Besides, Loki was not too keen on returning to battle, especially when there was a foreign realm ripe for the picking.

Parts of Natasha’s invitation made very little sense to Loki (crash course, wing it, frappuccino), but the gist of the words was evident. Only a slight narrowing of Loki’s eyes marked any kind of hesitation, but it was dismissed in favor of a blind acceptance based on a gamble. Could he trust Natasha? Certainly not, especially if she was a deceiver. Did he have a choice? Not at all. Was he going to? Yes.

”As tempting as it may be to face tourists and cops, my chances seem to fare better with you than otherwise.” That was as close to a “yes, please, thank you, please” as Natasha was going to get, and it was with a note of sarcasm that Loki said this acceptance. He tugged at the clothes, strange but valid, before looking at the woman and giving her a quiet, smirk of a smile. ”Onward then, shall we?”
Black Widow
Posted: Jul 3 2012, 11:24 PM


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Natasha's brain worked in terms of odds and probabilities, likelihoods and best- and worst-case scenarios. She operated based on predictions of what people would do, how they would respond. Sometimes, she even worked on failed predictions because all data was valuable, everything was useful at some point even if it was just part of building up the bigger picture.

And yet she hadn't been sure, for all her seeming nonchalant confidence, whether he would come with her.

It was the smart move, she thought. So far, she proved that, you know, she was a sane (well...) member of this society and culture who knew how to survive the average day in NYC and that she was at least willing to not abandon him in his ignorance. She hadn't proved she was trustworthy (Natasha didn't believe in such a thing) but, so far, she had a straight track record of reliability. And, to abuse an over-used phrase, beggars couldn't be choosers.

But she also had to ask herself what she would do, suspicious bitch that she was, if she felt one person had all the power. Out of stubbornness or a desire not to owe one person too much, to rely on them too much, she might have opted to walk away then, to find a nicer, more naive sucker than someone like herself. Because she got the feeling that like spoke to like. In many ways, he reminded her the most of another agent or operative. It was just a feeling, based loosely on his guarded nature and the way he carried himself even in the face of seemingly knowing so little about this place...but, she had to be realistic here. If she sensed that in him, he'd probably twig that she wasn't a nice person, that it wasn't altruism driving her. Maybe he'd want to avoid her for that.

Or, maybe, they could just both accept the unspoken fact that they wanted things from each other.

So, even as her eyes were languid and casual, there was an attentiveness behind them, a curiosity as to which path he would take. Certainly, to satisfy her curiosity (and because something in her suggested it would be a good idea to try and monopolise this particular mystery) she had an answer she would prefer and--yes, there it was.

Natasha was too smart to obviously gloat, so she just nodded once, satisfaction lending a certain cast to her pale eyes. "I'm positively reeling over here from the weight of all that flattery," she said, equally sarcastic in response while she made sure they had everything and straightened herself. "And I think we've spent long enough hiding in a toilet for one day now so, yes, let's go." Her smile was sharper-edged than him, but at least it had an element of something that wasn't quite respect to it, but a more honest look of consideration or bluntness than most people got from her.

It was time to see how bright a pupil he would be.

(And, also, to stare down the probable line of people outside waiting for the bathroom who would assume they'd snuck in for a quickie or something, wonderful.)

"Now, how about something to call you by in return for the clothes..."
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