Lights, Leather, & Loki
Fangirls? What fangirls? Oh THOSE glorious fangirls! ~ Loki
Odin and Frigga decided to spend an extra few weeks with Loki and his family, since there was nothing pressing that they needed to return home for and the realm was in good hands with Odin's Council of Regents, Balder and Heimdall. Plus Frigga was having far too much fun with her Laufeyson grandchildren to want to go home right after the holiday. Loki was just glad that with the addition of two adults, some of his responsibility was cut in half. Mandy recovered from the flu and was pronounced with a clean bill of health and returned to her own home next door, though Loki sent Samantha, Hunter, and Belle over for the first two days afterwards to check on her and make sure she was doing all right. Odin was always happy to walk his namesake, and the shepherd was quickly learning to use the grass to do his business on and not the carpet.
Frigga happily watched Max and Aleta when Loki was on the phone with his tech support staff, fixing the glitches in the new game and sending patches around to everyone who had received a prototype. His older children happily re-tested the game, as did Thor, Tony, and Steve, and finding no more major bugs and everything running smoothly, declared it was ready to launch a few months ahead of schedule. Laufeyson Tech did two premieres-the first was a preorder for those die-hard fans who couldn't wait for the official launch at the end of May. The preorder launch also came with a discount of 15% off the retail price and a special fan convention to celebrate it where Loki would sign copies of the game and take pictures and use his silver tongue to sell more of the product. The fan convention was to be held the second weekend after Easter, since everything was running smoothly with the prototype.
In addition to the signings and the question and answer session, Loki also had food vendors from around the city and several art designers selling T-shirts, hats, figurines, and other memorabilia based on the game. He anticipated quite a crowd, especially considering how popular the last game had been. But even he didn't realize just how much the Midgardian women loved both the game and himself, who was considered a heartthrob by half the women in the Tristate area and even across the United States.
A few nights before the con, Lucy came home with a disturbing tale of something that had occurred at school. "Dad, two sixth graders got arrested today at lunch time."
Loki paused from chopping up some green beans. "Arrested? What for? Drugs? Playing with guns?"
Lucy shook her head. "No. They put peanut butter in a girl's sandwich when she was allergic to it and she had to get rushed to the hospital and almost died."
"How horrible!" Frigga exclaimed. "That poor child!"
"And her poor parents," Loki added. "Did those kids who did it know she was allergic?"
Lucy nodded. "Yup. We all did. Every kid with allergies at Riverside has their name on a big sheet outside the cafeteria or their classroom so everyone knows in case they eat something by mistake then they can get emergency help or one of those pen things."
"A pen thing?" Odin frowned.
"She means an epipen, Father. Short for epinephrine, it's a drug that is used to help an allergic child having trouble breathing be able to breathe till an ambulance comes. Sometimes you have really bad allergic reactions to food or bee stings and your throat can close up and you stop breathing. The epipen prevents that." Loki explained. "Thank the Norns none of mine are allergic like that."
"So they arrested them, even though the girl and boys claimed it was just a prank."
Loki shook his head angrily. "That was no prank. Not when it almost kills someone deliberately. That was a criminal offense. If they knew how bad this girl's allergy was then they deserve to be locked up. Pranks are supposed to be funny and maybe humiliate someone, but not truly harm them."
"Was the child all right?" asked Frigga.
"I think so." Lucy said. "It'll be on the news tonight, so we can watch it." Then she rummaged in her purple My Little Pony backpack and pulled out a piece of paper. "Dad, can you look at this? We had to finish writing thirty common proverbs today and since everybody was upset about what happened to Latisha we didn't finish them in class so Miss Merrow gave 'em to us for homework."
"I'll look as soon as I'm done fixing dinner, Valkyrie. Just leave it on the counter."
"Okay, Dad. Gonna go and get changed." She left the paper and ran upstairs.
Loki finished preparing dinner and then turned to see what Lucy had written for homework. He read about halfway down and started laughing uncontrollably.
"Loki, what is it?" Frigga asked.
"It's . . . oh blessed Yggdrasil!" he re-read it and started giggling again. "My kids crack me up! And this isn't even meant to be funny . . . but it is!"
"Are you going to share what has you so amused?" Odin wanted to know.
The puppy lay by his feet, gnawing a large ham bone from last night's supper.
"Umm . . . I will, Father, but first I'd better get you up to speed about Midgardian proverbs so you'll understand why I'm laughing like an idiot," his son said.
"Get me up to speed? Loki, I don't understand . . ." Odin wrinkled his brow in puzzlement.
"Sorry, I forget you're not used to Midgardian slang expressions. What I meant was I need to give you a quick lesson in Midgardian culture." He punched several buttons on his tablet then handed Odin the iPad. "Here, Father. This will tell you what you need to know about proverbs that Lucy was supposed to figure out how to finish. They're like wise sayings, the kind of things elders on Asgard tell their children."
Odin took the device and read the short article about English proverbs and what they meant. He then passed the device to Frigga so she could read also.
"Oh my! Some of these are similar to our own sayings," she remarked.
Loki nodded. "I know. Now here's Lucy's assignment. She was supposed to finish the rest of the proverb. But she's only five and doesn't recall or know what they all are so she . . . err . . . made up her own answers. And well . . . read it and then you'll see why I was laughing so much."
Frigga read the following:
1. When in Rome . . .say hi to Caesar.
2. When the going gets tough . . . call your dad for help.
3. People who live in glass houses . . .need a lot of window cleaner.
4. Never underestimate the power of . . . Mjolnir.
5. The early bird . . . is really tired.
6. Never look a gift horse in the . . . butt they could poop on ya.
7. You can't make an omelet . . . unless you're allowed to use the stove.
8. If it ain't broke . . . don't worry about it.
9. Don't bite the hand . . .you'll give somebody rabies.
10. If you can't beat 'em . . . don't punch 'em.
11. Necessity is the mother of . . . some mythical monsters.
12. A penny saved is . . . a penny who doesn't know that?
13. The grass is always greener . . . before my dog pees on it.
14. Honesty is . . . when your dad asks who did it and you say it wasn't you but you know who did.
15. Children should be seen and not . . . spanked or locked in closets.
16. A little bit of knowledge . . . means you need to go to school.
17. Don't put the cart before the . . . groceries they'll fall all over.
18. Don't throw out the baby . . . unless you wanna end up in jail.
19. When the blind lead the blind . . . they get run over and die.
20. Hindsight is . . . when you have eyes in your butt.
21. If at first you don't succeed . . . scream Help me, Dad!
22. If wishes were horses . . . I'd be a Pegasus.
23. It's no use crying . . . after you're in time out. You just get more minutes.
24. Happy is the bride . . . who loves her husband.
25. You can't have your cake and . . . your sister's too.
26. If you play with fire . . . your dad's gonna ground you forever.
27. Laughter is . . . spelled Loki.
28. The enemy of my enemy . . . better run the other way.
29. Where there's smoke . . . Uncle Thor was cooking again.
30. Nothing hurts like . . . stepping on Legos.
Frigga started laughing. "I happen to agree with 27, dear. And since when does Thor cook?"
"He doesn't. Last time he tried the fire department came over thinking my house was on fire. That's the joke," Loki grinned.
"Loki, what are Legos?" Odin asked.
His son winced. "Torture devices disguised as children's toys," he answered. "Trust me you never want to step on one."
"You're a good father, Loki," Frigga said. "It's plain your children know they can come to you when they need help."
"I try, Mother. There were a few times when one of them didn't but in the end we worked everything out," Loki said quietly, thinking of Hunter and the incident with the stolen money.
"Then that's all that matters," Odin said approvingly. "Is Thor coming over for dinner?"
"I texted him," Loki replied. "But he usually does. He likes my cooking."
"Why wouldn't he?" Frigga said. "I'm amazed at how well you cook, son."
Loki looked pleased. "I like it. It relaxes me. It's like making potions."
"I can see why," Frigga said. "Perhaps I might try it."
"Frigga, darling, we have cooks," Odin began.
"Yes, I know, but that doesn't mean I can't try my hand at it every now and again."
"Mother, ask Grisel to give you lessons. Cooking here on Midgard is a lot different than in Asgard. I wouldn't presume to cook over there." Loki cautioned.
"Then that is what I shall do," Frigga decided.
Loki had just put the ham basted with brown sugar and pineapple juice into the oven when he heard Aleta yelling at Max. "Oh, Nine Hells!" he muttered. "What is going on now?"
Odin was still puzzling over some of Lucy's responses. "What is this 'time out' she is speaking of, Loki?"
"That's one of my punishments," he replied. "You'll see me use it if you follow me upstairs," his son replied. He removed his apron, which was a forest green one that said I Cook What I Want and You'll Eat It and Like It, tossed it over the back of a chair, and took the stairs two at a time.
He found Aleta pointing accusingly at Max and Odin, who was crouching at his son's feet with Aleta's plastic scepter inbetween his paws. Several silk flower petals were also scattered about the room. "It's all your fault, Max! I toldja not to let him in here and now he chewed my magic scepter and my princess crown!"
"He came in here, Aleta! I didn't bring him!" Max protested.
"You didn't shut the door!" his sister snapped, glaring at him.
"So sue me!"
"I oughta punch your lights out!" she advanced on her brother, her small fist lifted.
"Aleta Lenore, don't you dare!" Loki ordered. He quickly stepped inbetween his combative toddlers. "You know the rules in this house, young lady!"
She stared up at him, tears in her gray eyes and her lower lip sticking out. "But Daddy, Max let Odin chew up my Easter presents!"
"I did not, Dad! Odin came in here himself!" Max wailed.
"Enough!" Loki ordered. He pointed to the shepherd. "Odin, kennel, now!"
The puppy whimpered and slunk out of the room, going downstairs to his crate.
Loki picked up the scepter, which had teeth marks in it, and waved a hand and the plastic toy was fixed. "There! Good as new." He set it on the bed, then looked sternly at his youngest. "Aleta Lenore, what's my rule about hitting people?"
"I'm not s'post to hit anyone . . . unless they're kidnapping me," she said, sniffling.
"Was Max kidnapping you?"
"Then you don't hit him," Loki said implacably. "I don't care how mad you are."
"It's no fair! My princess crown is all broken!" the girl howled. Abruptly she burst into tears and threw herself on the floor, shrieking like a banshee gone berserk.
Max covered his ears and ran out of the room.
"By My Good Eye, I'm going to go deaf!" Odin cried. "Loki, what are you doing? Spanking the child?"
"No, Father. I don't hit my children," his son replied, turning and walking out of the room.
"Then what is all that howling?"
"That is my three-year-old having a fit," sighed the Master of Mischief.
"What are you going to do about it?" his father wanted to know.
"Right now, I'm ignoring it," answered his son. "She'll stop once she realizes it's not getting my attention."
"It doesn't seem like it's working," Odin winced, holding his ears.
"It will. Trust me."
"Loki, what is wrong? Is someone hurt?" Frigga called.
"No, Mother. Aleta is just having a tantrum." Loki replied.
"Oh. Thor used to do that when he didn't want to share with you."
"I don't remember that," Odin remarked.
"That's because you were away for most of the time when the boys were little," his wife replied.
Aleta's hair-raising shrieks suddenly became sobs and then Loki returned to her room and stood with his hands on his hips. "Well, young miss? Are you about done beating up the carpet and yelling so everyone in Asgard can hear you?"
His daughter lifted her tear-stained face from the rug and hiccupped. "I'm still mad at you."
"At me? What for?"
"'Cause you didn't yell at Max for ruining my princess crown," she said indignantly.
"Aleta, Max didn't ruin your crown, the dog did. And he's in his kennel. Furthermore, I can fix that." He gestured and all the strewn silk petals were gathered up and rearranged back into the flower crown. "There!" He held the crown in one hand. "Now quit blaming your brother for something he didn't do." He tapped a foot on the floor. "See? You had a fit over nothing. Now go sit against the wall and put your hands in your lap for four minutes. You know better than to throw a tantrum like that."
"M'sorry! I don't wanna time out!"
"Did I ask what you want? Go!"
She gave him a mule stubborn look. "But Daddy!"
"Aleta Lenore. One."
"No! Don't count!" she whimpered.
She went and sat down against the wall with her hands folded, sniffling and pouting.
Odin peered in the room, observing his son and grandchild.
Loki was looking at his timepiece. Aleta was staring at her shoes, looking woebegone and repentant.
When the four minutes had gone by, Loki called, "C'mere, spark."
Aleta got up and ran to him, and her father picked her up and hugged her. "M'sorry I was bad."
"I know. All's forgiven." He held her and kissed her forehead.
His daughter put her head on his shoulder and yawned.
Loki saw and patted her back, walking about the room slowly, until Aleta's eyes shut and he put her in her pink princess bed for a nap.
Odin observed that the simple punishment and subsequent forgiveness had taken all of six minutes and was accomplished without shouting, smacking, or threats of any kind. Yet the little girl knew exactly why she had been punished, was repentant, and was not afraid of her father.
Loki walked towards him, saying quietly, "That's what time out is, Father. But she was overtired, or else she might not have thrown a fit like she did. When she wakes up she'll be her old self."
"I see. What was that thing you did with the counting?"
"That's incentive. If I get to three and my scamps don't listen, they get extra minutes added on and go to bed early. They don't usually require me to go that far."
"That is quite remarkable," his father said honestly.
Loki looked astonished. "Really?"
Odin nodded. "What you accomplished is something I never managed. I punished with fear."
"I learned a different way," Loki explained. "I had to. My children were so damaged that if I ever raised a hand to them, I would lose any trust they had in me. Plus they're too fragile for me to discipline that way. They had enough of that kind of punishment with the orphanage and their real parents, in Max's case. I refused to be like the ones they were afraid of. So I made up my own rules and consequences."
"Frigga was right. You are a good father, my son. A better one than I was to you," Odin said sincerely.
"Thank you," Loki murmured, touched. This week had been full of surprises. He wondered what else the weekend would bring.
Friday morning of the con, Loki rose as soon as the sun peeked over the horizon. He quickly showered and put on his dark Armani suit and midnight silk shirt. Along with his striped green and gold tie. That was for the initial pictures with his Laufeyson tech staff. He would change afterwards into his gamer outfit, which was a blue version of his armor, golden cloak, complete with helmet and staff, like in the game. The armor was outfitted with leather pants and a leather baldric, plus knee high boots with mystic Norse runes stamped on them in gold glitter. He would also carry his two daggers, but they were not real, but props.
He carefully combed his long hair, using a few products to tame the unruly waves so they wouldn't start doing what they wanted in the middle of a photo. Part of it he braided and tied with blue hair ties, pulling the braids back around his head.
His parents would be accompanying Thor, Bruce, and Tony to the con to see for themselves how successful Loki was with his business. So would Max and Aleta. Clint, Tasha, and Steve would be showing up later, they were visiting a children's hospital.
Loki would be going over to the con first, as he had to make sure everything was running as it ought to and there were no issues with security.
He found Frigga downstairs already, having a cup of coffee and a banana nut muffin. They had baked a batch last night and Frigga had been delighted with how they turned out. "Good morning, Mother."
"Good morning, Loki." She eyed her son appreciatively. "You look delectably handsome in that suit, darling."
Loki flashed her a brilliant smile. "You make me sound like something to eat."
"Believe me, son, women will be falling all over themselves like you were the choice dessert at a banquet." Frigga assured him, thinking that out of all her sons, Loki was the handsomest, though she would never say so aloud.
Loki made himself two cups of coffee, one for now and one for his travel mug. He then took two muffins, one to eat now and the other for a snack later. He put the muffin into his insulated snack pack along with some water. Then he sat down next to his mother and joined her for breakfast.
"Are you sure you'll be all right getting Max and Aleta dressed? I've put out their outfits over their dressers, but if they give you a hard time let them wear what they want. I figure Max would want to wear his pajamas and helmet, and Aleta her green dress with her helmet."
"Don't worry, Loki. I'm sure everything will be fine. You just worry about your work." She patted his arm. "Thor will come and pick us up at nine."
"He knows where to go when you reach the convention center, and he has your wristbands and your tickets which will entitle you to free food and drinks for everyone. If you need me, call."
"Quit fretting, Loki. We will be fine," Frigga assured him.
He gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Very well. I'll see you soon." Then he teleported over to the convention center.
He met Derek in the conference hall, and they went over the schedule briefly. There were blocks of time where he could do photo op sessions with fans and two blocks where he would be signing games and autograph books. "Then we have an hour for lunch, and you can meet your family by the food trucks and take a break. We've set aside a room for you and your family so you aren't disturbed by anyone."
"Thanks, Derek. Now let's go and speak with the head of security."
Once had taken care of all those pesky details, he took a few photos with his tech staff, these would be added to the back box of the game. He also signed their copies of the game for their kids. By the time he was done with that, several vendors had begun setting up their booths, and it was time for him to change into his costume.
He quickly placed his suit and shoes in the zippered garment bag he had brought along, then used magic to make his costume flow on him, not wishing to waste time pulling it on. Then he sent the garment bag into the room where he had met with his staff, and walked down the hallway and out into the main atrium where a table was set up for him to begin signing.
As soon as he appeared, women nearly trampled each other to get in line. Security had to make sure everyone was all right and no one was cutting. Women picked up their phones and snapped pictures as he walked to the table, waving and screaming and drooling like starving people at an all-you-can-eat buffet. He waved back and flashed them a smile.
Several girls nearly passed out.
I hope they have insurance.
"Mr. Laufeyson, can you sign my hand?" blurted one sixteen-year-old.
"Why don't you show him your tattoo, Moira?" giggled her friend.
Her friend elbowed her, flushing.
"Mr. Laufeyson, my body is ready."
"Excuse me?" he blinked.
"To have your child," the girl, who was probably near Samantha's age said, fluttering her eyelashes at him coyly.
"Sorry, darling, I have nine already," he replied, thinking Norns help me, I've just been propositioned by a child!
"Mr. Laufeyson, will you sign my game and my cousin's copy?" asked a tall girl.
He held up his hands and said, "Ladies, your attention please!"
Instantly all eyes were riveted on him. He wondered if they were all being mind controlled.
"This is a signing only session. So all I'm doing here is signing on your game or notebook. Body parts are off limits." A low groan was emitted. "I will sign multiple copies of things, however. If you would like a personal message, tell me before I put my pen to your game box. Oh, and one more thing. Please do not act like sharks in a feeding frenzy. You will all have a turn to get something signed. So wait patiently. Thank you."
He turned to his PR rep. "Okay, Monica. Let's have the first one."
Loki lost track of how many things he signed after the first fifty people. But he did engage his customers with a few words and a smile before signing whatever they put in front of him. Once, as he was busy signing a copy of a game for a boy about Nate's age, his little sister crawled under the table and on to his lap!
"Hi!" the adorable blond girl said, giving him a gap-toothed smile.
"OMG, Sarah!" her brother gasped.
"Well, hello there!" Loki chuckled, holding the tot, who was even younger than Aleta, securely against him.
"Pretty!" the child exclaimed, pointing to his gold medallion. It bore the double serpents that were his symbol.
"Oh, Mr. Laufeyson, I'm so sorry!" the harried mother cried. "Sarah, how did you even get over there?"
"I think she crawled under the table," Loki said, allowing the curious child to hold his medallion.
"She has a mind of her own," her mother said ruefully.
"They all do," Loki said easily. He quickly conjured something and reached in his pocket. "Here, sweetie. You can't have mine, but how about this one?"
He gave her a glittery version of his pendant, one made from durable hard plastic.
"Oooh! Pretty!" Sarah cried, and Loki put the pendant around her neck.
"Mr. Laufeyson, you didn't have to—"
"It's nothing. Just a souvenir for her to play with," Loki waved off her protests.
"Sarah what do you say?"
"Fank you!" the child lisped, then she reached up and pulled his face down to give him a kiss. "Mmmmaa!"
"Aww! You're a real charmer, aren't you?" he laughed.
"Come on, Sarah, we've taken up enough of Mr. Laufeyson's time," her mother said. Loki handed her daughter back, and the child waved at him. "Bye!"
Loki waved back and blew her a kiss, which made half the women on line sigh in envy and fan themselves.
The next woman who came up to sign, a young one in her twenties, asked, "Can I sit on your lap too, Mr. Laufeyson?"
"Only if you're two years old," he returned, and quickly signed her game.
After the first block of signing was over, Loki went back to the room he had stored his suit in and took a quick break, drinking the water he had brought and eating half a muffin. Then he brushed the crumbs off and looked at his phone. There was a text from Thor. Brother, we're here. Mother shopping.
Loki smirked. Of course she is! he wondered though what would appeal to her at this con. And if Frigga were shopping, then Aleta and Max were too. Odin and the guys were probably eating.
He rose and returned to the atrium, this time walking on to the large stage and having his PR Director use the PA system to announce that Loki wanted to say a few words about the special raffle that would be held today. "If you could all direct your attention to the stage, please."
People bolted over to where Loki was standing with the microphone.
They all began clapping, cheering, and chanting, "Loki! Loki! Loki!"
Odin jerked his head up from where he was standing towards the back of the overcrowded hall, eating a Cinnabon. "What is happening now?"
"Loki's about to announce something and all his fans are going a bit nuts right now," Tony laughed.
"He's very popular. Women love him," added Bruce.
Loki allowed the adulation of the crowd to sweep over him. It flowed through him like a draught of sparkling mead. Then he held up his hands for silence. The crowd grew still as if he had cast a spell upon them.
"Just watch this," Tony whispered to Odin and Thor.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to thank you all for coming here, and for your enthusiasm over my new release of Asgardian Quest 2," he began. Cheers followed this statement. "However, I'd like to bring your attention to a raffle we are doing today. You can purchase tickets over in the green booth, and for every ten dollars you spend you will receive a chance to win this prize package." He held up a large basket. 'In this package are both VR games, signed by me, with a special helmet that is only available with this package-it has green edging and the double serpent symbol on either side." Gasps of longing filled the air. Loki held up a hand and the room grew still again. "Also included in this package is a special T-shirt, a mug, three figurines, a pendant similar to this one I have on-" he held it up. "And a commemorative photo of me and my design team. All proceeds are donated to Columbia Presbyterian Children's Hospital for research on childhood diseases such as lymphoma, diabetes, and so on. Now if you want to win, please donate because we all should help eradicate these horrible diseases and safeguard our children. And remember, even if you don't win, your donation can help save a life. What do you say?"
The response was deafening. "We love you, Loki!" several fans screamed. Then they all made their way over to the green booth in ones, twos, and threes to donate.
"By the Nine!" Odin exclaimed. "I've never seen anything like that. Are you sure they aren't enchanted?"
"Not like you mean," Bruce laughed. "It's just the way he is."
"But what has he done to gain this-this adoration?" the All-Father queried.
"Nothing except show up," Tony said. "And talk."
"My brother has always had a silver tongue," Thor remarked.
"Buddy, this is way more than that. These women are mostly from New York and persuading a New Yorker to part with money is like trying to take candy from a baby. Unless you're Loki. Then you'd give him your firstborn without even blinking an eye." Tony laughed.
He pointed to where several women were shaking Loki's hand and afterwards looked as if they had been hit over the head, a rapturous expression on their faces. They saw Loki head towards the photo op screen, followed by two security guards.
'What are they following my son for?"
'Those are his bodyguards. He needs them or else some of those women would be mobbing him, trying to touch him, hug him, and rip his clothes off." Bruce explained. "Loki's like Elvis."
'That was a famous rock star," Steve explained, coming up behind them.
"I think there's even more people at this con than the year before," remarked Clint.
"Which is good," Tasha said. "It means more money for research."
'What does my son do with all the money made from here?" Frigga asked, joining them with her arms full of shopping bags and Max and Aleta clinging to her hand, each holding a new stuffed toy. Max had a green and gold dragon and Aleta a white and silver unicorn.
"He donates about seventy-five or eighty percent of it to charities," answered Steve. "Some he puts away in trust funds for his kids. And the rest goes to the people he employs as bonuses."
"You wouldn't know it by the house he lives in, but Loki could own Manhattan if he wanted," Tony told them. "He could live in one of those huge mansions on Park Ave with gates and guards and servants."
"But he doesn't," Frigga observed.
"By his own choice. He said he doesn't want his kids to grow up thinking the world owes them and they should be waited on all time. He also likes his anonymity. It's why he sends his kids to public school. One of the best in the city but still public."
They watched as the head of Laufeyson Tech did photos with all of the women, children, and some men who had attended the con for the day. One of the great things about this photo op was there was no charge to get a picture taken with Loki. His PR rep had suggested they charge a fee and Loki flatly refused. "What for?" he'd said. "I'm not a celebrity, I'm a video game designer. It's just a picture taken on someone's phone." He allowed people to take up to three pictures during the photo session, in case the first one didn't turn out. His staff grumbled about that, but he silenced them by reminding them that part of their salary was due to the customers who bought the games, and they quickly shut up.
"He seems to be having fun," observed Frigga.
"He is," Thor agreed. "He says he likes this part of the con the best."
After the photo session they decided to break for lunch and Loki was happy to escape his adoring public for awhile and hide away in the private room reserved for him, his family, and friends. He had Monica order food for everyone from the food trucks. "Just get something from all of them and bring it here. We aren't picky, we eat everything."
In ten minutes his PR Rep returned with several other staff members bearing food from every food truck there was and drinks also. Max and Aleta sat next to him eating chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and some mac and cheese. Loki had BBQ beef brisket tacos and a salad. There were funnel cakes and caramel corn also. He listened with half an ear to his children prattling about their grandma buying them new stuffed animals as playmates while eating.
"So how are you enjoying this so far?" he asked Odin.
Before his father could reply, Loki's phone rang. Loki would have ignored it, but the ringtone, which was Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" made him reach for it. Oh Hel, that's the school calling! "Excuse me, Father. The school is calling me. Perhaps one of my kids is sick." He rose and answered the phone moving to the other end of the room. Or in trouble.
"Hello, Laufeyson speaking."
He listened gravely as the principal's secretary Miss Winters detailed that an incident had occurred involving his son Vince and some older children.. "I understand. Yes, I'll be there shortly."
"What happened?" Thor asked, seeing the dismay on his brother's face.
"I need to go to the school and pick up Vince. Apparently he beat up a fourth grader. But there's something else going on here. Vince doesn't normally pick fights."
"Go. We'll wait for you," Tony urged.
"Can we come?" asked Max.
"No, scamp. You need to stay here with Bestefar and Bestemor. I'll be back soon."
"Loki, you haven't even finished eating," Frigga objected.
"Don't worry. This shouldn't take long. I can eat when I come back," her son said. "I need to speak with Monica."
After telling his PR rep that there could be a brief delay, Loki slipped down the corridor and teleported back to Riverside.
Loki was in such a hurry to resolve the issue and hurry back to the con that he forgot he was still wearing his leather pants and armor costume. He had removed his cloak and helmet when he went to eat lunch, but the rest of his costume was very noticeable. He strode down the hall towards the principal's office, his boots tapping out a swift march when he passed two seventh graders coming out of the girls' room.
"So I said to John-holy hot damn!" one girl gasped, her mouth hanging open, her eyes glued to Loki's leather pants. "What does he teach?"
"Whatever he teaches, sign me up!" her friend sighed rapturously. "I'd fail class just so I could retake his course!"
"Quick, Maria! Take a picture on your phone!"
There was a swift click and then the two girls were leaning against the wall, their eyes glued to the phone screen. "OMG! Can I die now?"
Loki glanced back and saw them. "Girls, shouldn't you be in class?"
"Um . . . yes, sir!" one said, and she dragged her friend down the hall, whispering, "He TALKED to me!"
"He LOOKED at me!"
This was followed by squeals and giggles.
Loki just shook his head. "Norns spare me from hormonal teenage girls!"
A door opened on the right hand side of the hallway and a teacher pushing a rolling cart with a TV and a mounted video camera walked out. She was saying to another staff member, "So many of these kids nowadays have no appreciation for works of art or sculptures of-sweet baby Jesus!" She stopped the cart dead in the middle of the hallway and grabbed the video camera, panting as if she had run a mile in a hundred degree weather.
"Corinne, what the-" exclaimed her colleague. She began fanning herself with her copybook. "I think my ovaries just exploded." She shoved her colleague out of the way. "Let me see! Don't hog the view all to yourself!"
They both peered avidly through the video camera. "Woman, I hope you are filming this!" hissed the second teacher.
"Of course! It's like watching Michaelangelo's David get up off the pedestal and walk!" drooled the art teacher.
"I don't know about you, honey, but he's way hotter than any old marble dude!" She began fanning herself again. "I need some oxygen!"
"Ahem! Something wrong with your equipment, ladies?" inquired a cold voice behind them.
"Eep!"gulped the art teacher. "Oh no, Mr. Lightfoot. We were just making sure everything was working with the lens."
"Yeah you never know what you're gonna see with the way these machines work," added the second teacher.
"Carry on then," Lightfoot said stiffly. "Come along then, Laufeyson," he beckoned to Hunter. "By now my secretary ought to have contacted your father and told him about the incident with you and your brother."
He practically frog-marched Hunter down the hallway.
By then Loki had reached the office and gone inside.
"Blast! Figures old Lighten-Up would have to come along and ruin everything, the old bat!" muttered Corinne.
"Tell me you stopped filming," begged the other teacher.
"I sure did! Who wants to see HIS wimpy ass?"
Loki opened the door to the principal's office when the secretary looked at him and he swore she was drooling.
"Hello, Mr. Laufeyson," she said as she quickly wiped the drool from her chin and Loki sighed.
"Hello," Loki said then looked at the door to the main office. "I assume my son, Vince, is in with the principal?"
"Yes, Sir," and Loki headed for the door to the inner office. "We are just waiting for Principal Lighlfoot to bring the other boys who were involved in the fight."
Principal Lightfoot entered the office with Hunter in tow and then said to his secretary, "Becky, tell Nurse Morse that when she finishes putting ice on Mr. Tanner's lip to send him over here." He frowned.
"Of course, sir." she patched through a call to the nurse's office.
"Yes, please send Matthew Baker and Carl Tanner to the principal's office," she said then ended the call and looked at Loki.
"Are those the boys my son was in a fight with?" Loki inquired and she nodded.
Then she asked curiously, "Were you at a Ren Faire, Mr. Laufeyson?" She indicated his costume.
"Blast," he said as he looked down at what he was wearing and she swore he was blushing. "No. I was at a convention. I am promoting my new video game..."
"Asgardian Quest 2?"
"My brother loved the first game!"
"But why are you dressed like that?"
"This is my gamer outfit."
"Ah," she said with a nod then sighed. "I'm sorry we had to pull you away from the convention."
"That's alright. My children come first."
The door opened behind him when Loki turned and looked at the two boys heading toward him. They both gave him a startled look as he leaned against the edge of the desk and crossed one ankle over the other. "Hello," Loki said, but the boys didn't answer.
Just then Lightfoot returned and said, "Mr. Laufeyson, gentlemen, let us adjourn to my office." He gave Loki a disapproving icy glare as he gestured for them to proceed him into the inner office, where Vince and a young Muslim girl and her father awaited them.
"Dad!" his younger son exclaimed. He had a faint bruise on his left cheek.
"What happened, Vince?" he asked concerned.
"I didn't duck quick enough," his son answered candidly.
"Hunter, why are you here?" Loki turned to his older son.
"Because, Mr. Laufeyson, both of your sons were involved in this fight." Lightfoot said coldly. "It appears that trouble follows your family like the plague."
Loki's eyes narrowed. "Why don't we discuss what happened before you start assuming this was my sons' fault, Lightfoot?"
The principal harrumphed, then looked at the other two boys. "Mr. Baker and Mr. Tanner, where are your parents?"
"My mom's at work," answered the taller one.
"My parents are away," replied Carl. "Only my housekeeper is home and she doesn't drive or speak much English."
"Very well." Lightfoot looked over at the girl who was sitting modestly in a chair beside her father. "Miss Rashid, suppose you tell us what occurred at recess that led these four to get into a fight over you?"
The girl blushed. "Mr. Lightfoot, they were not fighting over me. Carl and Matthew were . . . were teasing me and making fun of my hijab and they-they called me names and were trying to look up my dress!" Her eyes glittered with tears.
Beside her, her father looked furious. Loki also scowled.
"Gentlemen, what do you have to say for yourselves?" the principal demanded.
"We were trying to see if she had a bomb strapped to her," replied Matthew. "Like those terrorist that blew up the concert over in Florida."
"And we pulled off her scarf to see if she was hiding anything under it," added Carl. "My dad says we need to protect ourselves from terrorists."
"My daughter is not a terrorist!" objected her father. "We are citizens of the United States. She was born here!"
"I told them that, Mr. Rashid," Vince spoke up. "Aliyah is in my class and we have social studies together. But they just laughed at me and told me to mind my own business if I knew what was good for me!"
"Did you throw the first punch, Mr. Laufeyson?" demanded Lightfoot.
"No, sir. I told Carl and Matthew to leave Aliyah alone, and they kept on tormenting her. So then I went to tell one of the monitors and Matthew jumped on me and knocked me down."
"Liar! You punched me in the eye!" Matthew snapped, indicating his black eye.
"That was after you knocked me in the dirt and told me you were gonna break my nose because I was a traitor," Vince snapped. "Just ask Aliyah."
Lightfoot looked at the Muslim girl. "Miss Rashid?"
"What Vince says is true. He did not start this, but he was defending me."
"That was when I saw what was going on and I went to help my brother," Hunter declared. "I pulled that sneaky snake off him and asked him what he thought he was doing picking on my little brother."
"I got up and hit Matthew and Carl tried to hit Hunter, but Hunter ducked and Carl got me instead," Vince explained. "I told Hunter they were picking on Aliyah and making fun of her religion."
"So I asked those two what was wrong with them, picking on little girls, and they called me terrorist lover and tried to beat me up," Hunter informed the principal. "Only they forgot they don't know how to throw a punch and I do. So I beat THEM up."
Loki could tell none of his sons were lying about what had happened. Neither was Aliyah. The other two, though, had lied twice.
Lightfoot was eyeing Hunter with displeasure. "Are you certain that's what really happened, Mr. Laufeyson? Because I know you have a reputation for being an instigator and you were once a member of a gang. So how do I know you're telling the truth?"
"I am!" Hunter cried.
"Wait a moment, Lightfoot. What point do you have in bringing up my son's past when it has nothing to do with what went on today?" Loki interrupted, his eyes suddenly becoming shards of emerald ice. "Hunter is no longer in a gang, and hasn't been for three years. In any event, that's neither here nor there. What's important is that these two young men were caught tormenting and insulting this young lady because she's Muslim and my sons came to her rescue."
"While I agree that Mr. Tanner and Mr. Baker were at fault, that doesn't excuse your sons' attacking them," began the principal.
"They were defending each other," Loki objected hotly. "Since when is that wrong?"
"School policy forbids fighting of any kind," Lightfoot declared smugly.
"Fine! Suspend us then," Hunter said rebelliously. "But we were right to help Aliyah. Dad taught us any boy who hurts girl is a coward, and we should respect everyone no matter what religion they are."
"Call me a coward again, and I'll rearrange your face, Laufeyson!" spat Baker, rising to his feet, his fist clenched.
"Sit down!" Loki ordered sharply, in a voice that no one ever disobeyed.
The boy gulped and dropped back into his seat like a shot.
"I give the orders here," Lightfoot began, flushing. "Mr. Baker, you will refrain from attacking another student, no matter how provoked you feel. Furthermore, you and Mr. Tanner as suspended from school for a week for fighting and for insulting another's religion. After this you are to leave Miss Rashid alone." He turned to the girl. "Miss Rashid, you may go."
Aliyah rose to go and her father nodded stiffly and followed her out of the office.
"As for you two, you are also suspended for three days for fighting. I suggest next time you inform a teacher instead of settling things with your fists like hoodlums."
Hunter flushed and Vince opened his mouth to protest. Loki put his hands on their shoulders and squeezed gently, warning them to watch what they said.
Both boys lowered their eyes and muttered, "Yes, sir."
"You may go, your suspension begins tomorrow," Lightfoot declared.
Loki ushered them from the office, biting his lip to keep from calling the principal a few choice terms.
Just as they walked into the main office, Mr. Rashid came up to Loki. He held out a hand. "Please accept my deepest gratitude, Mr. Laufeyson. I will ask Allah to watch over you and your family and keep them safe for your sons have acted like brothers to my daughter and protected her modesty and upheld her rights." He shook Loki's hand firmly.
"You are welcome. My sons were glad to be of service. My name is Loki."
"I am Najid. All honor to your noble house," Mr. Rashid said, and gave Loki a brief bow. "I must go, I have patients waiting back at the office. I am an orthopedic surgeon."
"I too have to get back to my convention." Loki said, smiling. "Come, boys. I was in the middle of lunch when the school called. Are you hungry?"
"I'm starving," Hunter said.
"You're always starving!" Vince laughed.
Loki walked past the secretary's desk. Abruptly he turned and said, "As long as I'm here, why don't you take a picture with me, Becky?"
Becky looked as if she were about to fall off her chair. "Thanks, Mr. Laufeyson!" She patted her hair into place then stood up and came to stand beside Loki.
Loki put his arm about her and said, "Hunter, take her phone and take our picture."
Hunter did so, then took two more. He handed Becky her phone back. "Here, Miss Turner."
"Thank you, Hunter," she said, beaming. "You just made my day!"
Loki grinned. Then he handed her a business card. "Email me and I'll send your brother a signed copy of Asgardian Quest 2."
Becky sank down in her chair, staring at her phone, a stunned yet delighted look on her face.
The boys trailed their father outside, where they found Steve behind the wheel of the Caddy waiting for them. "I figured it'd be quicker if I came to get you," he said and opened the door for them to get in.
As they drove back to the convention center, Vince asked, "Dad, are we in trouble for fighting at school?"
"You are, but I've decided to mitigate your punishment because you were defending a girl's honor and that never deserves punishment in my book. I'm proud of you and Hunter. You did what was right, not what was easy. So you'll be doing a few chores for me at home and that'll be all."
The boys let out relieved sighs.
Then Loki said, "Hurry, Rogers. We're all starving and my fangirls are waiting."
Steve smirked. "Okay, keep your pants on, Loki!" He stepped on the gas while Loki rolled his eyes and in the back seat the boys burst out laughing.
A/N: Hope you all liked and please review if you'd be so kind. Thanks!
accolades to ninewood and Kat King for their ideas!