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“Wait, what is going on?”
Kelda grabbed me around my neck, and Sif started stripping me down. “Hey!” I cried, as Sif smiled. “This could look a bit odd if someone walked in,” she noted with a smile.
Outside the tent, the heroes standing around, waiting, would probably have heard a loud splash, a scream, some metal things clanging together, and a rip as fabric tore. They would have been wearing hilarious faces, standing in weird places, and would likely have been very, very confused.
Agea walked in, laughing. “Your boyfriend is so worried that Kelda's like, brutalizing you.”
“She is!” I cried.
I looked up at her, though my eyes were covered in film from Kelda's magic shampoo, the one that made my hair so soft and shiny before. Agea handed me a tiny gold candy, and said, “eat it. It'll make you all radiant and sexy.”
“I still don't get why I have to be all radiant and sexy to start with.”
“Because, Anthy, you have to go out there and be a symbol and junk,” she shrugged. I handed the candy back. “I can't, Ags. You know me as well as I know myself, and I know that I can't take that.”
“Alright, fine, deny yourself the flavor of concentrated ambrosia,” she teased, and she popped it in her mouth. “Is this the thing?”
She lifted up a grayish blue cape, and I stared at it. “Is that a cape. . . ?”
“Aye,” nodded Sif. “Although I suggested scarlet would be more appropriate.”
I was dried and got dressed, my favorite jeans and a black t-shirt, then Kelda handed me the cape. “It is cold,” she noted. “A mortal such as yourself would. . . would not be used to such climes.”
The cape was light, but soft and warm. I pulled it on and thanked her, then Sif grabbed me by the shoulders and turned my towards her. “Listen to me now, Protector, for you are close to Thor, as I am. I do not know what the future brings for Asgard. But I would be proud to call you my own should Thor do so as well.”
Jacob's was wearing a black hoodie under his leather jacket, so that his head didn't have to be on fire.
“Asguardian!” he smiled (which was a little creepy) as he caught my hand in a hi-five.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“Nemesis called, I answered the phone, then stopped the bleeding in my ear and came as fast as I could,” he joked, and Agea slapped him on the back of his flaming head. “Ungrateful little --”
I turned from them as they Agea started harrasing Jacob, then looked at Thor, Iron Man and Cap. “Sorry about your nose. . .”
“Thy mighty elbow struck hard, Asguardian. Though the break has healed, the bruising lingers. You must not rush so fast into battle, Anthy,” said Thor sternly. “Again I have warned you against doing such a thing. Again you disregard me. Is it to always be this way? You are a dutiful child in every other sense, Anthy, and I could not bear to see you hurt.”
“Thor, this was different. This was. . . it was Void.” I had to change my story quick, because I didn't want it out there that the reason I'd broken Thor's nose was because I had to run off and save Balder. Thor sighed.
“Forgiving you is perhaps the only thing to do. I would have likely done much the same in your place.”
“I guess. . . I get a little crazy when I see . . . people I care about getting hurt.”
“It is a wise madness. Come, I see that you are called for.”
He guided me with a hand on my shoulder, as we walked with the other Avengers towards a gathering of other heroes. Balder was standing among them, listening as Tyr spoke.
“You know as well as I that the Voidess will long have warned Doom of our gathering. Any hope of a surprise attack has long passed.”
“I didn't even know that you guys did surprise attacks,” I whispered in Thor's ear, hovering next to him.
“Perhaps it was suggested by another,” he said with a shrug.
“Captain America, you are wise in the ways of mortal battle, what is your council?” Balder asked Cap. Hearing him speak like a king was, well, kinda hot. Cap started talking about battle strategies that I didn't understand, but Balder did, and nodded.
There was something about a pig's face, or what it a boar's snout? And then something else from Cap about sending in the powerhouses first, then something from Iron Man, and anyway I started getting so nervous that I actually had trouble focusing.
The group dispersed so that they could spread the word about the strategy, but Thor and Balder stayed with me, looking concerned. “Are you well? You look pale,” asked Balder.
He crossed his arms, but his eyes did the same work as a hand on my back to soothe. “Just nerves,” I promised. “It's. . . it's scary, all this. The Voidess was a hard fight, and I don't know if I can do much better. I'm just wondering if the Norns were really. . . right.”
“You have been trained by the best warriors in Asgard!” bellowed Volstagg as he came up behind me. I looked behind me just in time to be engulfed by a flabby pink wall! “You have nothing to fear!”
“If you say so. . . just stop crushing me. . .” I grumbled, and when he let me go, I gasped.
“You'll do great, kid,” said Ags as she slapped me on the back. “The trick is to imagine that their all Forbush Man.”
“Hey!” I heard from somewhere behind me.
“Or that we've got random sharks!” she continued. “You've got nothing to be scared of.”
“Except the fighting, the violence, the blood, the death, and Dr. Doom!” argued Sophie. “Plus the prssure of somehow rising to be a greater hero than the Avengers.”
“Sophie, that's a time out!”
I sighed as they walked away.
“We move at sunrise,” Balder told Thor, and Thor nodded, walking away. I turned to follow him, then saw Kelda staring at me with a weird look on her face. Her lips were pursed and her eyes were wide, and then, suddenly, all my girl friends were staring at me like that, with their arms crossed or their hands on their hips, and then Fandral was there too, and (though I couldn't see his face) Spidey.
“Okay, okay, I get it!” I hissed.
Faces split into huge grins, and high-fives were shared, while I turned around and watched as Balder watched heroes prepare for battle. People I knew from Broxton were helping all they could, learning to sharpen weapons and strapping on armor onto mammoth Asgardian warriors.
“Soo. . .” I trailed off awkwardly, standing next to the aformentioned son of Odin. “Everyone seems to be getting along.”
“You come from a wise and charitable people. They have been greatly helpful to us. Though they have been pushed from their homes, they show no hostility. Though they are in as much danger as my own people, they are strong.”
“I think they're pretty great myself,” I smiled.
Balder was quiet. “You love your people,” he noted.
“Yeah,” I said. “You love yours.”
“Two different peoples.”
Looking at me, he said under his breath, “are we to continue? I dare not to wait 'til the battle has begun. What will become of us?”
I smiled, though the situation was very serious. “I. . . I don't know. I can't give you a straight answer right now. But if we live, I'd love to discuss it over dinner?”
WHere does an Asguardian king take a mortal girl to dinner?! Will our heroes prevail in the battle!? Will Anthy keep the cape!?