Who: Loki and Flash What: Loki gets some schooling in pretending to be a human male from Flash. Where: The mall, yo. When: Recently. Warnings/Rating: None! Pretzels!
Loki was unfamiliar with ‘pretzels’, so he looked them up with his journal as he readied to leave Gwen’s apartment. The thing looked a bit like a very slick tablet - Asgardian technology, just old enough to be able to interface properly with the information network the humans had created for themselves. It was impressive, really, in the way pf ants climbing on other ants in an effort to reach a star.
Pretzels appeared to be simply a local variant of baked bread covered in salt and dipped in melted cheese. Thor, no doubt, would love them. Perhaps he did. He had gone very, very native in his stay on Midgard as a mortal, from what little Loki knew. That was so long ago - or so long ahead, depending on how he looked at it. It was difficult for him to focus on the past for too long. It was an optical illusion, forever shifting back and forth under his gaze. It was enough to make him feel uneasy when he lingered on it for too long.
Speaking to others on the journal had left him with the distinct impression that he was not welcome on Midgard, though really he couldn’t blame anyone for wishing him away. Perhaps when he proved himself useful to the people of this world, they would see things differently. He had yet to quite suss out how that might be accomplished, however. Simply halting petty crimes was better left to the native heroes of this planet. No, there were greater works he might achieve.
And even as the thought crossed his mind, he felt a flicker of unease. Unrelentingly, he always wanted more. He wanted to be more, to be better, to change his legacy by moving so far in the direction of the good that the things he’d done (or had done) would be nothing more than a memory. But was that unwillingness to settle until he had paid his sins back in full just another strain of the ambition that had driven him to madness before?
He wasn’t as young as he looked, though he was younger than he had been, and it was difficult to say what the future might hold for him. At any rate, the people of Midgard were disinterested in his quiet contemplation. A woman elbowed him out of her way as he stood staring off into space through the pretzel stand, breaking his concentration. On second thought, he wasn’t sure how he felt about ‘pretzels’. The cheese stuff looked a little too much like yellow pitch for his taste.
Flash hadn’t been in a mall since he returned to New York. There weren’t many people who bought Hollister shit in Baghdad, so the demand for a giant building for teenagers to dick around in wasn’t very high. This place brought him back, though. The huddled girls with their arms locked like they were stronger that way. The boys who milled around the sporting goods store and scored free food samples. It was high school all over again and oh fuck that really was the theme of his life now. Same bullshit with MJ. Same worrying over Gwen even though the worst she had to endure were boy issues. Flash didn’t know how to talk to Parker anymore. Didn’t want to see Harry because he’d probably punch his face in.
So, worry about some weird little space magician? Yeah, he could do that. Flash was in complete contrast to tiny Loki. He was tall with unnecessary muscles everywhere and a look like he knew a lot of practical things like what to do if your car broke down or which place at the mall served the best burgers. At a glance he didn’t look friendly, but the second he caught sight of the weird kid by the pretzels, he gave a frat boy grin and half-shouted. “Yoooo! Lo-” Flash thought twice about calling someone Loki in the fucking middle of a mall. “Looooobbrrooo.” Was the best he could come up with. “Sup, lobro.” He glanced at the display of pretzels that Loki was eyeing. “You want one, dude? How much allowance did Stacy give you?”
Loki was wearing a loose fitting black hoodie, green t-shirt, and dark jeans that were just a little too big. The t-shirt he had seen on enough pedestrians in the street that he could easily replicate it with the help of his magic and some cloth stolen surreptitiously from Gwen's curtains. In fact, he had stolen the curtains from one of the windows wholesale, reminding himself to replace them later. How difficult could it be to find fabric that hung from a window?
The pants he hadn't been able to replicate. They were too complex, too strangely flexible while having so many pockets, and no one on the street wore the same kind. Instead, he'd worn the clothes he'd brought with him from Asgard under the street clothes he'd made, and purchased a pair of black jeans, his first transaction in this newer, sleeker Midgard. He hadn't been here since the humans had things like computers. Or he had, but it had been the other him, the future/past one that it hurt his head to think about. It took a lot of pained guesswork to figure out which size of pants to buy, and the woman behind the counter seemed mystified by his request for a tailor, helping him instead to find her best guess to his size.
Flash's approach shook him from his vaguely disgusted reverie, eyes fixed on the glue-like cheese product, and he glanced over to the loud approaching presence with a little surprise. This was Gwen's friend? "Lobro?" he asked, almost to himself, and then followed Flash's gaze to the pretzels. "What? Oh, no. I am fine, thank you. The yellow sauce seems somehow...inedible. Like mortar, not food."
“Lobroo.” Flash said again, voice deep and broly like he was greeting an old college friend. “We’ll figure out a new name for you later, dude. For now, bro. Broseph.” He gave a flat smile, his eyes half open and face squinty in a way that made him look more like a giant puppy dog than an actual person. A big, tough friendly guy like Flash didn’t have to worry about looking smart, even to a space wizard. He didn’t have to be smart with a working gunshow and residual popular kid charm.
Flash looked at the cheese goop and laughed with a shrug. “It’s cheese. Cheese is always fucking great. But, suit yourself. Come on, we gotta get you some clothes.” He did a quick look back, eyebrows furrowing as he asked himself if he wanted a frozen lemonade before deciding not to complicate things any further. “So, horns are out of the question, broseph. But, you could probably rock the Hot Topic goth kid look if you wanted to.”
Loki blinked. "Broseph?" he said, arching a brow, running through a dozen of the Midgardian names he'd heard in the past. It sounded a little like a few, but not like any he'd heard. A colloquialism? Flash had an open, bright sort of face. The expression reminded him of his brother a little, actually, all blonde and brawn, and there was a brief twinge. He wasn't sure whether that would be a point in Flash's favor or not, yet. Time would have to tell.
"That substance is made of cheese?" he asked, vaguely indignant somehow, despite how little he cared about food. His family had always teased him for picking bird-like at his food, or forgetting to eat entirely. If Volstagg were here, on the other hand, he likely would have demanded the entire tub of the cheese substance.
Then, it seemed, they were off on their mission. Loki stuck close to Flash's side, glancing over the crowd with his eyes. "Perhaps no horns for the moment," he conceded. He hardly wanted to remind himself of that, of the future he'd made, and there was no reason to draw anyone else's attention to it either. "Hot Topic?" Loki was starting to feel thoroughly behind. There had been a time when he'd come to Midgard with regularity, arriving as a young god and startling the populace to distraction. But some of that old confidence had left him, now, in his peculiar, backward-looking and forward-existing predicament, and all he found himself wanting to do was blend in. At least right now. "I have clothes," he protested, picking at his hoodie. It wasn't perfect, of course, but he'd gotten most of the details right, aside from the lack of a zipper and the fact that it looked like it had been stitched by someone's grandma.
Flash gave him a look. “Dude those aren’t clothes. That’s what beggars wear when they want people to feel sorry for them. You know I thought for someone who runs around in Shakespeare Theatre dresses, you’d be way more into clothes shopping than this.” Now, the lumbering, grinning, cool guy Flash was obviously being something of a hypocrite, but a guy like him didn’t need to dress to impress. He could walk around the mall with a unicorn shirt on and still get numbers. That’s what being handsome and built like an ox was all about. “Man, okay you got a lot to learn. First of all, if you want to score with the hotties, you gotta look fresh. Now, I admit, the whole skinny guy who wants world domination thing is big with some ladies. Mostly smart girls who spend a lot of time on the internet or fucking reading or something I don’t know. But, none of them are going to go for complete dweebo.”
“So, Hot Topic has a bunch of moody looking shit that I think will at least make you look like a normal teenager.”
"I have never been 'clothes shopping'," Loki said. He peered into the shops as they passed, cataloguing the different types of garments inside each store front. He hadn't really paid attention as he came to their meeting place, too busy making sure he knew where he was going. Now that there wasan opportunity to look, however, he was baffled. The store filled with women's undergarments and decorated with portraits of nearly nude waifs was particularly disturbing. He thought about asking what it was for, but he refused to seem even more out of touch than Flash already thought he was.
"The hotties," Loki said. It was a question, phrased as a statement, his brown drawn slightly down. There wasn't much time to consider it, though, as he dodged around people in the crowd. It was a little...over stimulating, this. He liked quiet libraries and private places. This was like going to a market, only a thousand times more bizarre.
Loki missed part of what Flash had said because he was so busy staring into the store filled entirely with lotions, perfumes, and hair unctions, but he did catch something about the ladies that drew him up short. "In short," Loki said, dodging again, this time from the path of an oblivious young girl with her phone glued to her head, "You think these clothes will make me appealing to girls." There was a glimmer of amusement in his voice, despite everything.
They walked by a bunch of middle of the mall kiosks with people selling iphone covers, sunglasses and face cream. Someone stuck out a toy helicopter controller for Loki to try, but Flash waved that shit away with a menacing look before Loki could even figure out what was happening. On one hand, this was a good opportunity to torture the little dude who used to be a tall skinny dude that terrorized his city. On the other hand, he kinda liked showing some weirdo alien wizard the ropes. “Or dudes. I don’t discriminate.” Flash said, obviously proud that he was totally cool with gays being his bro. He was a modern cool guy. Ex bully turned protector of the weird.
“I probably shouldn’t help you get any. Remember back when you turned all the power off to the city? Man that was gunna be my Spring Break! Me and little red were gunna go down to Florida and get nasty, but ohhh no. I had to stay here and play hero.” Through the complaining, Flash was still grinning like an idiot. To him, it was years and years ago when Loki was still an annoying horned god, and time plus not getting laid equals comedy. Then, his smile faded and he put his hands in his pockets. “Are you like,” Flash lowered his voice. “Still into that villain crap? Cause you know it ain’t gunna fly with Gwen.”
Loki reached out for the toy but it was out of his reach before he could so much as touch it. He would have to take some time to do research by himself. He wanted a better idea of what drove these machines, what sort of technology powered them, how they were made. A few days of study and he assumed he would have the general gist of the technological capabilities of this place, and a toy wouldn't have been a bad place to start, really. The kiosks selling objects were mostly foreign - sleeves made from some flexible material, for what purpose? He had no idea. Shields for the eyes which seemed fairly superfluous. If they thought their sun was strong here, they really hadn't gotten very far from their own planet. Provincial.
When Flash asked if Loki remembered when he had shut off power to the city, he dropped his head a little, looking left and right, but no one noticed, and no one cared. No one even seemed interested in eavesdropping, too busy buying and staring at things to be bought. "I remember," he said. "In a sense." He remembered it almost like a story or a play, like watching something happen to someone else.
Loki took a few short steps forward to come even with Flash again, his hands slid safely into the front pocket of his roughly sewn hoodie. "No. No, I'm not," he said. He glanced over at Flash. "She seemed to think that you might be able to help me. Beyond buying clothes, I mean." He was here to do things differently, to make things right, and that had to start somewhere. “She said that you might have something to say about these people, this SHIELD group.”
Flash didn’t understand how someone who did the whole crazy laugh while he made people bow to his magic space powers could easily stop wanting to do that. Maybe it was being brought back as a kid (did he die at some point?). Maybe his horn helmet just didn’t fit the way it used to anymore. He frowned a thought at Loki, eyes squinting a little as if he were trying to tell if the tiny god was telling the truth and the suddenly shrugged. Cause, even if Loki tried something funny, Flash was pretty sure he could totally take him.
“Yeah, dude.” Flash said with a nod, turning his head a little as a pair of hotties passed in those jean shorts with the pockets poking out the bottom. One of them glanced up at him and Flash gave him one of his best cool guy smiles (perfected since Sophomore year, yo). “I think you’re gunna make some guys at SHIELD nervous, but if you play nice and swear to do all the stuff I say they won’t like dissect you or some shit. They’ll want information about your planet that Thor can’t explain cause he a lunkhead.” He shrugged and then a little less casually, “You and your bro cool?”
Loki watched Flash's open, lascivious interest in the barely-clad girl who passed by. He wasn't scandalized by it, per se, but he was accustomed to that sort of thing being reserved for mead halls and the ends of long celebrations, not in the middle of the day on an open thoroughfare. Enclosed or not. "Is that the norm?" he asked, gesturing from Flash to the girl. "To be so open, with..." he fumbled for the word. "Desire?" He had a feeling that was the wrong thing entirely, and he was going to be laughed at, but he really ought to know.
Then Flash was frowning at him, and he returned his gaze with bright green eyes that had changed not at all in intensity, not a whit. "I am not going to be dissected," he said, with finality. There was no threat. It simply wouldn't happen. His brother wouldn't allow it, and if they tried, he had more than a few tricks up his sleeve. It wouldn't even get past the planning stage. He loosened his shoulders. "I could oblige them that," Loki said. Answer questions about Asgard? Easy enough. "The things I'm forced to do because Thor is a lunkhead," he said, imitating Flash's tone with a brief, knife-like smile and a modicum of success.
"We're fine," Loki said, the smile there and gone again. He was practicing imitating the various slang cadences of Midgardian speech. It had a loose, rolling articulation, shortening and combining words that were already so short he didn't really know why they bothered. He thought he was starting to get the hang of it, after a few weeks of implementation. "It's complicated. He remembers a power-hungry megalomaniac. I remember hating him so much I wanted to set him on fire in the town square."
Flash raised his eyebrows as high as they would go at the word desire. People only used that word when they were describing candles and decadent chocolate, right? He fumbled out a laugh and shrugged. “Hey dude, life is too short not to tell a lady she’s hot with your eyes.” Flash held up two fingers, pointed them at his eyes and the wagged them back and forth at another hottie (who wasn’t really even paying attention). “It shows people you’re confident. Or creepy, if you do it wrong.” Another shrug. Flash was too good looking and popular to come across as creepy for checking girls out.
He grinned at the imitation of his voice and a look of approval. A moment passed as he considered Loki’s relationship with Thor, knowing the kind of hate he felt for the man in the same way he hated Spider-Man and Parker sometimes. Friends from SHIELD insisted it was just Venom’s influence, but he didn’t know for sure. He didn’t think it’d be that simple. So, he just nodded. “I get that, man.” Flash sighed. “We’ll figure it out. For now, we’ll work on making you look good for the ladies. Cool?”