|nishka//loki (nishka) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-09-11 13:02:00
|Entry tags:||freyr, loki|
The North Remembers
Who: Nish and Rafe
What: Game of Thrones night turns weird...
Where: Nish’s apartment
When: Backdated to July 23, 2017
After last week’s successful get-together with the premiere of Game of Thrones, Nish felt a lot more confident with what she would serve Rafe this week. Jen had been tutoring her on how to make some of their favourite dishes, and now she had a reason to really pay attention and try to mimic what they made together - to impress Rafe.
She knew, of course, that there was no getting back together for them. But she wanted them to be friends, and she wanted him to see...how much better she was now. That she wasn’t the same woman he’d broken up with. That she’d changed. She was sober now, stable, and while she was positive she couldn’t take all the credit for that, she felt better about herself than she had in years, and she wanted to show him that.
Last week she’d made a tuna-noodle mushroom casserole for them with a light green salad (which Jen had helped her prepare and then promptly disappeared so they could be alone together and Nish could take all the credit). This week was tabbouleh, hummus, pita and seasoned chicken they could build their own shawarmas with.
She was just setting out plates for them when she heard a knock at the door. With a smile and maybe a little bit too much eagerness, she headed to the door, shooing Bear away from the kitchen as she went and opened the door. “Hey,” she greeted him happily, “you’re just in time, dinner’s ready.”
Rafael beamed a bright smile. "I brought dessert," he said, lifting a box emblazoned with the Rosemary & Thyme logo. "Key lime." Nish cooed and smiled happily at the box and closed the door behind him.
He slipped into the apartment, moving toward the kitchen with the easy confidence of one familiar with the place. He set the cupcakes aside on the counter, then returned to the table where he cast an eye over their feast. "This looks and smells delicious," he said.
Nish laughed and pulled the store bought pickled turnips from the fridge. “I hope it is, it’s my first time making it by myself,” she said. She pulled the warmed pita from the oven and set it on the counter near the rest of the food. “It’s build your own...if you need anything else, let me know.” She took one of the pita from the pile and put it on her plate, spreading it with hummus and tabbouleh and topping it with chicken strips and turnips. Carefully, remembering how Jen had done it the other night, she wrapped it up, doing not nearly as bad a job as she had then.
“So all the ingredients are fresh from the store today; something ransacked my kitchen again last night. I still haven’t caught whatever’s doing it, but I have one little piece of evidence,” she said, gesturing to the large iridescent feather up on the nearby shelf.
With furrowed brow Rafael glanced up to the all too familiar souvenir. One corner of his mouth began to turn down, but he curbed the expression before it could fully form. What had happened in Gabe's apartment was far too odd—even considering all the other things that had gone on in this place—to bring up now, on what was supposed to be a quiet evening in.
"That's strange," he said, and shrugged. "There's probably pests in the building again. Maybe feral cats. Although I haven't seen any of them around for a while…"
Nish gave him a look that showed how much she didn’t believe what he was saying (or that he believed it), but chuckled. “Well, whatever it is has made Bear afraid of the kitchen,” she said with a sigh. As if to back her up, Bear was sitting on the carpet just outside of the kitchen, watching them. Even the chicken on the counter in plain view wasn’t enough to draw him in. Rafe tore a small piece of chicken from his own meal, and walked it over to the cat. Kneeling down, he set it on the floor in front of Bear. He quickly gobbled it up, audibly purring in appreciation of the gift.
Once they were both finished filling their plates, she led him into the living room, where she already had the coffee table set up with placemats, glasses and a pitcher of sweet tea. “It’s lime and mint,” she said, pouring them both a glass, and then flicked on the tv. He raised his brows in a pleased little look, and downed a sizable sip for himself. “So have you heard anything about this one? I haven’t even watched the previews yet,” she said, navigating the menu to her pvr and finding the new episode of Game of Thrones.
"I am completely unspoiled," he said. "I don't even read fan theories or anything, and I stay away from the hashtags on Twitter. I prefer watching it with a completely blank slate, you know?" She grinned and nodded in agreement, sipping her own tea and settling next to him on the sofa.
He nestled into the cushions, taking another sip of tea before tucking into his food. After a bite, he nodded appreciatively over to his host. "This is delicious," he said. "Very well done. What's got you all interested in cooking now? And all fresh things, at that," he teased.
She smiled, a hint of a blush creeping over her cheeks as she ducked her head, picking at the corner of her wrap. “I...my…friend and I have been cooking together,” she said, looking back up at him. “She found out I couldn’t cook and made it ‘my mission to see to it that you can feed yourself’. Her words,” she added with a little laugh. She didn’t particularly mind if he knew about Jen, and he had seen her once or twice already, but she wasn’t sure if he was aware of the nature of their relationship. She wasn’t embarrassed about her girlfriend, but she worried about what Rafe would think - that she’d jumped too quickly into another relationship after theirs had fallen apart, or that he’d ‘made her gay’, both of which were the furthest thing from the truth.
But Rafael only laughed, nodding his approval. "Good," he said. "She's right. It's a good skill to have. And it can actually be fun, too. You'll see." He speared another bit of food. "I can share some recipes with you if you'd like. Just a few simple things at first, to see what you enjoy cooking. And eating." He smiled, and dabbed at his lips with his napkin. "Is there anything you particularly think you'd like? Seafood or vegetarian or…?"
“Food,” she grinned, “I like food. But since I’m so new to the preparation part of it, easy recipies are good right now,” she said, hitting play on the pvr and watching the title credits start on screen. She leant forward and took a bite of her own wrap, delightfully surprised that it seemed to have turned out just like when she and Jen made it last week.
Her attention was caught by the tv, and they fell into silence as the episode started. About halfway through, just after she’d finished her dinner and was sipping thoughtfully on her iced tea, she heard something heavy fall in the kitchen, causing her to jump in her seat. Bear suddenly zoomed out of the area and down the hall, as if he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. “What the…” she watched her cat and then looked over at Rafe with wide eyes, quickly pausing the video.
Rafe turned to see where the cat had gone. His brow furrowed, he stared back toward the kitchen, some part of him already knowing the cause of that awful sound. "You don't have another cat, do you," he said, half-joking. Nish stared at him for a moment, a flicker of fear in her eyes, but she shook her head ‘no’ and forced a half smile for his benefit. He set his food aside and started to rise from the couch. "Um. You have anything I could take in there with me? A baseball bat or a heavy book or something?"
That seemed to draw her out of the fear for a moment, and she looked around them for something suitable that could be used as a weapon. She didn’t own a baseball bat, or anything else similar, but…
’There,’ a vaguely familiar voice said, dimly, as if from deep under water. She felt a jolt at the sound, a sense of unreality, and at the same time her eyes fell on a desk lamp nearby - solid wood with a fairly uniform shape. She got up and removed the shade and bulb, yanking the cord out of the wall and wrapping it around the base. Not a baseball bat, but close enough. She handed it to Rafe.
He wrapped his hand tightly around it and headed into the kitchen. Sharp scraping sounds carried from within. He recognized those sounds, recognized the hoarse squawks that came after, though he badly wanted otherwise. He remembered all too well how difficult it had been to rid Gabe's apartment of that interloper; he prayed this one would go more quietly into that good night.
"If I get hurt," he said, "just call 911, OK? Don't come in after me."
She shook her head and put a hand on his arm, but he pushed open the door and made his way inside. The harpy sat on the countertop, an overturned bowl of fruit being aggressively juiced between scimitar talons. Rafe's shoulders slumped. "Well…" He disappeared inside the kitchen, swinging the little lamp hard.
Nish stood on the other side of the door, listening to the commotion inside, but a strong sense of ‘this is wrong’ was making her itch to do something. ‘I can’t leave him in there by himself,’ she thought, to no one in particular, but she got the sense that something was indeed listening to her. She heard another loud thump and a screech of some horrible bird, making her flinch and look around herself again, not finding anything else suitable to use as a weapon. On the bookshelf she had a rather heavy volume of California Statutes which she pulled off and hefted with her into the kitchen.
There was a pause when she watched the struggle in the room as if it was in slow motion, and then she saw an opening, while the thing was grappling with Rafe and the lamp, its back was to her. She lifted the book and brought it down as hard as she could onto the thing’s head. There was a terrible screech, tapering quickly off to a small warble of pain. The bird-woman collapsed, and Rafael swung what remained of the lamp once again.
The creature rose on unsteady legs. She raced drunkenly out of the kitchen, leaving the door swinging closed behind her. Close on its heels there came a sound of crashing glass. Rafael's brow furrowed, and he followed after the beast, but when he entered the living room there was nothing else there.
He returned to the kitchen, sweat-slick but unharmed, and motioned for Nish to join him. "I'll pay for the lamp," he said. "We can probably ask Stephan about the window…"
Heart pounding and out of breath, Nish let the book drop to the floor of the kitchen and followed him out on legs made unsteady from spent adrenaline. She shook her head in protest of his offer. “You’re not paying for the lamp,” she said with a wry grin, pressing a hand to her heart and willing it to slow. “That...what was that thing?” she asked, not really expecting him to know, but still grappling with the mere existence of that creature. And poor Bear...no wonder he was afraid of the kitchen!
She looked over at him. During the struggle in the kitchen, her eyes had shifted from warm brown to icy blue, and the surface of her skin had grown cold to the touch. Rafael looked at her, brow furrowed, and struggled to explain what he saw now. He blinked, as if he might clear this strange vision from his sight. But when he stopped, her changed image was still there, a replication of something he had seen only in their shared dream.
"I don't know," he said, cautious. He took a small step toward her, staring openly now. "Nish, do you feel all right? You, um… you don't look like yourself..." He gestured vaguely, feeling rude even as he did, but unsure how else to deal with this, how else to properly explain.
She frowned just a little, raising a hand to touch her face. “I'm fine…” she said, though her heart was still racing. “What, did it scratch me?” She turned, closing the distance to the small mirror hanging by the front door. And stared, openmouthed. “...Rafe…?” she finally tore her eyes away from the sight in the mirror, meeting his from across the room.
He shook his head, dumbfounded. He had no answers to give her, no idea how this could have occurred. It frightened him, though he could not have said why. He closed the distance between them, approaching her with evident caution. But nothing else changed in her, and no other threats appeared, so at last he extended a hand to his friend.
"It's like the dream," he said. "Do you… do you feel any different?"
She took his hand, and his felt weirdly hot to her touch. “The dream I can’t remember…” she said, frowning. “About...Loki?” She’d read about him since then, and she didn’t like what she’d found out. “He’s a villain, Rafe,” she said, letting go of his hand and crossing her arms over her chest. Her eyes drifted back to the mirror, inspecting their strange colour with the beginnings of panic rising in her throat. “If he was here before...well, I don’t remember, but I’m glad he’s gone now.”
"Me, too," he admitted. He reached out to her, his hand brushing over her arm, trying to console her as best he could, even as he tried to ease his own unsettled feelings. He studied her image in the mirror, telling himself the differing hue of her eyes was all in his imagination. He knew better. "That's right," he said, knowing it for the lie it was even as he spoke it. "He's gone now. Just a little more weirdness from our building is all. Right?"
She looked over at him, her lips quirking in a sad smile. His touch, which had at first almost burned with heat, was now slowly fading back to its normal warmth, just as her eyes started to slowly fade back to their normal brown. “Do you really believe that?” she asked him, meeting his eyes again. She paused, chewing lightly on her lip. He held his silence, unable to lie yet again. “I’m scared,” she admitted finally, her fingers digging into her arms, hugging herself tighter.
"It's OK." Rafe pulled her into a tight hug, warming her all the more. She gratefully leant into the embrace, resting her cheek on his shoulder briefly before pulling away. He searched her eyes, now back to their natural shade, and told himself that neither of them had anything to fear. But it was difficult to ignore the nearly audible voice within, telling him to back away, to leave, to distance himself from the thing that was rooted within her. So after a quick, tight squeeze, he drew away from her, putting a single step between them. "Don't be scared. It's just a little weirdness, that's all. No stranger than anything else that's happened here."
Nish let out a short, unsure laugh. “Yeah, right,” she said, still gripping her arms, but slowly letting her hands unclench.
He tipped his head toward the living room. "Come on," he said, his voice as cheerful as he no longer felt. "Let's finish this episode, at least. Take your mind off things..."
She nodded and followed him back into the living room, pausing in her stride to glance over at the wreckage of her window and the trail leading into the kitchen, but forcing herself to let it be for now. She’d call Stephan first thing in the morning to get it sorted out. For now, she pulled the throw blanket off the back of the couch and wrapped it around herself, settling onto the couch close beside Rafe and letting her head fall on his shoulder as the rest of Game of Thrones played out on screen.