|Ben Reilly (teamclone) wrote in the100,|
@ 2016-02-16 23:01:00
|Entry tags:||!log/thread, ben reilly / spider-man (94), loki laufeyson (616)|
Who: Ben Reilly and Loki (and Loki and Loki and Loki)
When: Monday, Feb 15
Where: a clearing outside
What: Loki takes Ben out for show and tell of one of his worries.
Warning: Don't think so? Their brand of schmoop.
“This will do.”
Not that Ben knew what for, but this was, as a matter of course, a perfectly Loki thing for Loki to do. The face value offering was company during an outdoor excursion, and that wasn’t a lie. There just happened to be more than one truth behind pulling the Spider away from Mount Weather.
Besides, if Ben didn’t suspect that much by now, he had to be half asleep. There was a certain predictable quality to individuals of an unpredictable nature. You didn’t have to know the details of what would happen, but there was a point in time when you had to know something was going to happen.
Loki finished a quick survey of the immediate area, then nodded her head. It was a clearing among bare trees. The sun had a clear shot down to the snow such that it had receded to a more manageable few piles strewn around the otherwise wispy patches of grass.
She pointed to a spot beside her, to the right of center of the clearing, then looked over at Ben as if this was completely business as usual. “Stand here.”
His eyebrows raised slowly as Ben glanced around the clearing. Well, there was confirmation on something going on, not that it gave any extra clue of what that something was. This was definitely more than just the usual walk, but still, he wasn’t going to pass up any chance to go outside. He still stuck by the ‘any excuse was a good excuse’ where that was concerned.
Even if the primary why for the excursion was still a big old question mark. To him, the clearing looked like nothing special. Standard for the area. Usual trees around usual snow and grass combo that could really be found anywhere around the mountain. No tingle of danger or even that low level subconscious ‘hey, look at that’. His chin raised slightly as he took a deep breath in and meandered towards where Loki pointed. Nothing out of the ordinary in that new sense territory either.
His walk was slow, but he made it to the appointed spot all the same, the last step more of a hop to plant both feet firmly beside the goddess. “Do I need to close my eyes next?” he asked as he kept looking around for some hint of what was going through Loki’s mind. “Hold out my hands?” His nose wrinkled slightly as his attention turned fully to the goddess. “Is this going to be a magic on me sort of thing? Just yes or no warning. For the literal sense at least.” A smirk tilted his lips as he leaned in towards her. “I don’t need a heads up for figurative magic.”
“If you want, but it won’t do anything,” Loki was quick to reply. “You know me. Live your life how you want, do what you want,” she added, giving a small twirl of one hand in the air. She stepped away from him, roughly ten paces, then spun around and notched her scepter against her shoulder.
A grin lit up her face before she shook her head. “Magic, yes. Magic on you, no. See…” Loki let out a small sigh, head tilted skyward for a second. It was clearly a choose-your-words moment. “Whatever you wish to call this, I have a vested interest in what happens and what happens to you. That said, magic appears to run clear off the tracks more often than anyone would like here. Normally I would welcome the chaos, but I know I am not immune to it. And…” She narrowed her eyes. “And that could mean something bad.”
Ben stayed put, his weight shifting from heels to toes as his gaze strayed to the trees again. Magic might not be his favorite thing, but he was getting a better appreciation for it and he couldn’t help but wonder how the location factored into whatever trick Loki was planning.
At least until that… was it really a confession? Whatever specific label it got, the broader ‘serious talk’ category definitely applied. His heels thumped back onto the ground, squarely planted, and his attention focused fully on Loki. The second part was the main part. Another admittance of vulnerability to add to the fact that his magic didn’t always work the way he meant it to.
But that first bit…
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not good with words in regards to this in what counts as boring, normal for us and…” A duck of his head as he laughed. “Well, we already know how much I fail at English where you’re involved, but pretty sure at the bare minimum, that counts as friends. Which is really, really the bare minimum.”
A wave of the hand before he tilted his head curiously. “Not as much fun when you’re not the driver of the chaos train, huh?” He got it though. Whatever truth thing that went on that they missed, well, that one wouldn’t be so bad. Might make for a cranky Loki because she couldn’t give the truth the way she wanted, but of the big ‘magic’ things, not that bad. But the others… If someone else had been playing with switching people around, well, he knew Loki wasn’t standard for her race. Who knew what’d happen if they pumped up the frost giant aspect or that power went to someone else. And the last adventure… His lips pressed together. “How far back can you actually go?”
Loki raised her brow at Ben. She drew up one hand and drew up some lazy quotation marks. “‘Friendship.’ If you want to go with the barest of minimums,” she agreed. “Regardless, you have free passport to my apartment, and I don’t give that to just anyone, not even if they happen to be family. I grew up with Thor. Really, it’s better that family visits and does not stay. Forget that he doesn’t ever use a coaster before he sets drinks down. Mjolnir dings up every damn table.”
She stopped. “Which is a tangent, but no less true. Anyway, I think you caught my meaning. The answer to your question, then…” An arm was stretched out, and so appeared a man beside her with large golden horns. His clothes were bright: green and yellow. A ponytail of blond hair fell from the back of his helmet.
“They never really leave. If they did, how would I ever know what not to do again?” She asked, which immediately earned a sneer out of the older man to her side.
“I had a good run, so don’t --”
“Yes, I’m sure you would say that much, but who exactly misses you?” Loki shot back.
“We can talk about the max later,” Ben mumbled absently. “And you haven’t seen what a mob boss can do to a bathroom.” The retorts came easily. Years of practice of dodging and talking at the same time. His eyes were locked on the familiar figure. Despite what Loki had been doing in her world recently and what she’d been doing here, he knew that the man in horned helmet was the image most of their combined worlds attached to the name Loki.
His body strung a bit tighter and his attention keeping better track of the possible blips to his spider-sense, he shook his head slightly. “Memories, what’s up here,” he tapped his temple. “That’s one thing though. You could have the memory of something he did, but not the capacity to go back to that point. At least if we’re talking about getting made younger… and…” His eyes narrowed. He didn’t care about Loki being a copy as she put it. But he knew how others could use that against you, especially when they were different versions or ‘originals’. “Or we delving into a whole new level of magical worries here?”
“That’s just it --” Loki started, but she was cut off.
“You can always go back,” the other, older Loki supplied, bearing a cruel, ugly grin. At his side appeared a much smaller boy with a simple gold crown. His arms were crossed and he was staring moodily off to the side as the taller man leaned down to tap his shoulder. “Isn’t that right? Where there’s a will and some bending the rules…”
“Knock it off,” Loki snapped, sighing loudly. “I’ve dealt with you,” she continued, as the young boy turned a angered gaze in her direction. “I’ve dealt with you both, and you’re both only here for the sake of demonstration.”
A fourth voice, this time on Loki’s other side chimed in. “Actually,” it began, as the three other Lokis turned to see what now. “That was me.” The owner of the voice had to be in his late teens or early twenties, and he clearly had a helping more of vanity if you noted his neatly-painted nails and the perfect way his hair fell as the sides of his face.
“So much for gratitude,” the polished young man continued with exasperation. “I gave myself up so you could be you.” He turned to Ben, crossing his arms. “Has Loki ever mentioned me?”
There were points in your life when you gained a new appreciation for the weird hardships you had to go through. This was definitely one of those moments and, really despite everything, it was still pretty civil compared to most of his experiences. Easier to tell them all apart too. Ben recognized the newcomers from Loki’s old phone the ‘Pod God’ had gifted him. And compared to clones and even the universes of Spider-Men, the Lokis at least had a distinct flavor and style to each of them.
He risked a glance towards his Loki, checking for any ‘oh no, this was a bad idea’ tell-tale signs and making sure the goddess still had things under control. Then he turned his attention to the Loki who looked like he could have easily come from a boy band. “Yeah, she has. Often,” he responded with a smile. “Including that bit. That you gave your life so he could come out the other side of the Void as who he needed to be. I’ve seen pictures.” He made a face. “Of you. You too,” he added, waving towards the child Loki. “Not of the whole Void experience.”
“To be fair, it is a void. There really isn’t much to take pictures of,” Loki replied with a casual ease that suggested she had this all under control. Which, as a matter of fact, she did. She raised a hand to the three others, and with a quick gesture, they vanished. Only the older man seemed to see that coming and lunged to protest. He disappeared mid-motion.
“You can tell them everything you would like in my defense, but they are what they are, Ben. And two of them are more inclined to understand what I’m doing than the dozens of others I didn’t bring out for walkies just now.” Loki took a few steps towards Ben, then stopped again. “I want you to listen and listen good. Every Loki I have been or might be… that is my potential. I obviously would prefer to be here for as long as I am able, but any good story has its twist. I cannot say what any other Loki would do when the majority find me to be an abomination as far as Goddesses and Gods of Mischief go. Do you follow?”
“It’d make for great modern art though.” Auto-joke-reply. Ben was listening though. Listening and processing not just what the goddess just said but also the bits and pieces he’d gathered. Half said truths. Throw away comments.
He nodded slowly, his eyes going over the empty clearing where the other Lokis had been. “It’s not just making sure you don’t stray from your version of the straight and narrow… The other versions of you might be physically gone, but…” His brow furrowed slightly as he nodded again. “You said your form and your magic influence each other. You change and your magic changes and vice versa.” He frowned. “Or maybe not quite vice versa because that just sounds depressing.” He waved a hand. “Anyways, everyone has a past, everyone has memories, but all that they were, that magic’s still there.” He looked over at Loki. “Right? It can’t just disappear. So… he didn’t say whose will and bending the rules could change things. If one of them tugged on the right strings. Or…” He waved his hand in the direction of the mountain. “Someone pops out some magic that interacts the wrong way. It could shift the balance.”
He tilted his head curiously as he took a step towards Loki. “Is that a good follow or did I jump tracks?”
A few seconds ticked by in silence before Loki shrugged. “I mostly meant that should any of them get control, they may go after you because they are quite the bunch of sore losers. Not that anything you said is wrong -- at least as far I can tell -- but it may be several feet deeper than what I was aiming for,” she admitted, giving up the notion of distance and crossing the remaining gap to stand in front of him.
“Scientists,” she lightly chastised, a finger prodding him in the chest. “Always trying to explain everything. My story never was linear, so you have the idea. If balances get shifted, if I lose my hold… whatever it might be, but if one day I am not here, then you stand to be among the first in the line of fire. I may not be able to stop that.”
Ben ducked his head, a sheepish grin quirking his lips as he shrugged. “You can take the scientist out of the lab, but blah blah blah,” he joked, swaying back with the prods. Reaching up, he captured Loki’s hand, tapping the tip of his pointer finger against Loki’s. His grin slid into an amused smirk as he looked up to meet Loki’s eyes.
“Oh, sore losers coming after me? Only that? Sounds like a Thursday,” he pointed out. But if there was something he knew well, it was that worry, whether it was external or internal forces. He still fought down that fear each full moon, even if he knew Loki was fully capable and the good her presence did to his recovery. He knew wanting to protect and he knew even what it meant to admit this sort of situation. It’s the sort of thing that could send people running. “Who else would be on that first target list?” he asked softly.
“Sore losers with enough magic to turn you inside out or else put someone else up to the task. More likely the second,” Loki corrected, her expression holding fast to a sullen, grim frown. “Last time, Verity was let off the hook because it hurt me more to alienate me from her. Besides, my adversary happened to be a version of myself who did have the general understanding that wrecking everything meant his own quest would go up in flames. Literally.
“I am…” Loki heaved another sigh, this time giving the ground a frustrated look. “I am usually my own worst enemy, not to put down the rest, try as they may. Should things go south, I would advise you to get Verity and yourself to safety. No solo acts of heroism, please.”
“Again, sounds like a Thursday.” His eyes went skyward and his mouth twisted up in thought. “Although, ok, usually with the use of fists and lasers and whatever other fun devices they can find, but still… That’s a Thursday.”
His gaze meandered back down to Loki. Reaching up, he tucked his hand under her chin, gently nudging to get her attention focused not on the ground. “I’ll keep her safe. I promise. But I’m not going to leave you alone to go through that or at the mercy of whatever part of Mount Weather decides to intervene.” Stubborn steel entered his voice by the end of the spiel. The inhabitants of their new home were too bloodthirsty for his liking and he doubted anything would change his mind about that. Even if they might be justified depending on the Loki that popped up, leaving those decisions in their hands could very well undermine whatever chances there were to get this Loki back in control. “I told you I have your back.”
There was another brief silence. “Has anyone ever told you that your life is insane, and that brick walls are more yielding than your will?” Loki finally asked. She looked up at his soft plea, recognizing that stubborn and immobile decision. “Although, it may be best to watch my back if you mean to stop anyone. Surely a stab through the shoulder blades would be the best course of action if it comes down to a fight. If anyone is able to get the jump on me, of course. If this whole scenario ever becomes reality.”
Another pause. “I know I can’t tell you what to do, but at least grant me the peace of mind that you would not be actively trying to die. Pulling anyone back from Death is nearly impossible and my relationships with those who could help are strained at best, if I could even reach out to them.” She raised her hands, locking both on Ben’s shoulders. “No. Dying,” was the command, given with an equally intense stare.
“At least three times a week. Should probably up it to once a day just for that first comment,” Ben mused before shaking his head. “And that’s not happening. If- if we get worst case scenario, no one’s getting stabbed like that. Hopefully not stabbed at all, but I just know one of the cooks would pick that moment to cut themselves while making stew just to spite me if I said definitely no one is getting stabbed at all…”
Letting out a heavy sigh, his look softened. His free hand covered one of Loki’s, squeezing it reassuringly. “Despite what going out and fighting and all of that implies, I really am not actively trying to die. I swear. Haven’t tried anything like that in years.” He turned his head just enough to brush his lips against Loki’s wrist. “So, I promise. No actively trying to die. I’ll do my best.” He tapped his thumb lightly against Loki’s chin. His mouth opened a moment, ready to point out that he didn’t really have control over that though. But that command and intense look, no matter how ridiculous it might be considering he was just human and a clone at that, had him changing his mind.
Instead he nodded. “I promise, Loki.”
She held Ben on the spot, still transfixed on his face. If the gentle and affirming touches were easing her careful vigil, she didn’t show it. But, finally, there was a nod given by Ben, and she relented. Her expression eased, at least insofar as a Goddess ever looked satisfied with the situation presented to her. A grin started to shape up once again.
“Good,” Loki replied. “Good. If you ever happen to be dying somewhere, you’ll recall this conversation and kindly dismiss yourself from the moment.” She looked down at their hands next, then turned to take a step, leaving one hand linked with Ben’s so he would know to follow with a simple tug.
“Come on. I suppose I can keep you, after all.”