That's What Friends Are For

June 08, 2018:

Loki and Emma chat. Because they're wonderful friends. And that's what wonderful friends do.

Emma Frost's Penthouse

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: That's What Friends Are For


Fade In…

Six Months Ago

It may not appear to the casual observer into Emma Frost's life—of which there are very few—that she's been very busy. The woman has taken great pains to keep her comings and goings quiet in the weeks leading up the charity gala, which has meant leaving her butler with full paychecks but diminished hours and enormous gaps in her executive assistant's knowledge of where she's been.

There have been weekend trips to Massachusetts. There have been countless off-the-books visits to HFC members of particular hold and sway. And there has been far too little time at home.

Which may be precisely why, in a perfectly mundane way, Emma invites a long-overdue guest into her humble abode for an afternoon tete-a-tete. Sunlight pours through the windows and French doors from the patio balcony, drenching the expanse in a warm, golden glow. There's a tray that Emery had been so kind as to prepare in advance, leaving Emma with only the very simple task of not burning the water for the tea she's supposed to brew.

Fortunately, Emma thinks she is up for that particular task, at least.

So it is that she looks as domestic as she's likely to ever look it, carrying a tray of fruit and various other tea-friendly snacks that could survive overnight in a fridge over to her coffee table in the vast snowy expanse of her decadent penthouse apartment.

Her guest will come whenever he will come.

If there is one thing to be said about Emma Frost's guest for the evening, it is most certainly this:

"You know, I'm rather enamored with how obsessed some of you mortals seem to be with tea."

'Loki Laufeyson goes where he wishes, when he wishes.'

Case in point: there's no announcement to the Asgardian's arrival into Emma's home. No indication, no ostentatious heraldry, not even a simple ringing of a doorbell. He's just there, sitting comfortably in one of the chairs of the White Queen's self-indulgent home, one long leg crossed over the other in the very picture of poise. By now, it's likely expected, like a tale often told — but one told with effortless aplomb, if the ever-present smile on the trickster's lips is any indication.

"There's many things in Asgard that man could only dream of emulating one day, but you all certainly have them beat in food preparation and variety. The average Asgardian palate is rather tragically stilted if you don't have an overbearing predilection for drowning yourself in mead." The god clucks his tongue once, in faint, solemn disapproval, before those green eyes brighten once more as easily as they had dimmed with that tragic lamentation.

"Well! Enough about that, hm? You called, and here I am, like a true and loyal friend. Promptness I reserve for only my most promising of allies." Nevermind the fact that he technically came in without permission — the way he manages to spin it like a compliment is almost effortless as he layers his hands over his lap, head tilt at his approaching host.

"So, Miss Frost, whatever do you need from your most humble ally? Whatever your needs may be, you may be rest assured that I will listen to it with every ounce of my attention and due concern for exactly as long as yonder fruity snacks may last."

Note to Self: Get Bell for Loki Laufeyson.

Even on the best of days, Emma has never considered herself to be a great lover of surprises. True, that may have a great deal to do with the fact that surprises - in her experience - are rarely pleasant or to her benefit.

Take the here and now, for instance, where there is a slight start that rattles plates and cups on her silver tray. And that slight start is but the ripple atop a deep pond, where in the depths an overwhelming urge to do unpleasant things to retaliate for the unpleasant sensation that stirs within her, and then is quelled by an exercise in self-restraint.

Because they're such very good friends.

The blonde, wrapped in a pair of white jeans and an unseasonably summery white blouse with shoulders comprised entirely of spaghetti string, fixes a smile on her ruby lips before turning to face the new arrival. "Ah, but you see, it's not what I need from you, but rather what I would like to offer to you." After a pause, she crosses her arms over her waist. "Other than this delightful brew that is most decidedly not mead."

Her sculpted eyebrows lift. "Would you like a cup?"

A subtle start, that hints to so much more without ever showing it, like the tip of an iceberg showing in a cold and indifferent sea. The corner of Loki's mouth twitches upwards faintly, but of course, he says nothing. Nothing at all. Because, after all, they are such very good friends.

Shards of sunlight glint off the errant gold of Loki's otherwise black and green Asgardian attire, formal affairs of a different style from the Midgardian trappings the God of Mischief presented himself in at their earlier meetings. Gone are those splendid horns for now as the trickster leans comfortably back in his seat, shifting his weight about almost testingly. It's probably both a testament to the quality of the furniture's construction and Loki's deceptive weight that it groans in protest but little else as he moves.

"Hmm. Very sturdy. Mortals have come such a long way." Really, it's complimentary. "I must say, you paint a compelling portrait of the woman who has everything, Miss Frost."

It's a musing that falls by the wayside, however, when Emma makes her very important correction; Loki pauses, peering at the blonde. A dark brow nudges upward to complement the curious cant of his head. And then — the trickster smiles as tricksters do, brightly and baring white teeth in his delight. "Ah, is this that oft-spoke of friendship ritual of 'give and take' I've heard ever-so-much about in the myths of various team-building tomes? How exciting! I do believe we are making alarmingly swift progress in deepening our bonds of camaraderie, Miss Frost. Perhaps soon we can even partake in a legendary spa day."

Truly, splendid.

Still, the God of Mischief gestures broadly — politely — at Emma's offer, before it is held out, expectantly ready to accept that cup. "I'd be delighted, of course. Really, a refreshing change of pace. You do know that the sacred mead was originally made of of godspit, don't you? But maybe that's a story for a day when the tasty cakes look less tasty." Let it never be said Loki is not considerate.

"So! Just what do you have to give for me to take today, friend?"

Spa Day. Yes. Spa Day is definitely at the top of the agenda.

Except that it's most decidedly not.

"I'm so glad you approve," comes the saccharine reply of thoughts to the CEO's image, eyelashes batting to betray coquettish insincerity.

Emma gives the cup over as expected, her slender hands releasing the fragile china into her guest's care. The tea within is not a popular selection, perhaps, but strong and bitter and mildly smoky. Fruit is a stark contrast in its sweetness.

Once that exchange is done, she begins another. With a long, swaying stride, the telepath makes her way to the mantle over the fireplace opposite Loki's fine and sturdy perch. And there, tucked up beside a candlestick, a fancy envelope of some weight. "I thought you might appreciate an invitation to an event I'm helping to arrange. Our mutual friend Mister Stane will be there, among others. And yes, yes, you could come on your own anyway, I've no doubt. But it's so much nicer to be invited, isn't it?"

"And how could I not? It's quite clear the amount of work you've put into it, after all."

Slender fingers slip around china with all the delicate care in the world, feeling the heat of the liquid inside soaking into the porcelain like a comforting warmth as the God of Lies lifts the edge of that cup to his lips.

"And yet the tragic truth is one can never quite have everything, can they? So terribly often we are missing something so very fundamental."

Siiip.

"Ah! But nothing a good cup of tea can't cure, right? What a delightfully bitter taste!"

And he'll continue to blithely enjoy his tea as the Hellfire matriarch makes her way over towards the fireplace, taking a nice long sip of that bitter draught. Fruity snacks come next, of course, pleasantly and politely consumed up until the god's attention is called to the presence of an envelope. An invitation.

It's so much nicer to be invited, isn't it?

A smile touches at his lips.

"Oh, indeed. It's quite the honor. You have my most sincere gratitude, Miss Frost." He takes another sip of that bitter brew, his smile easy and placid as he sets the fine cup of tea aside. "Everyone wants to feel appreciated, after all, don't they? Or so I'm told! You mortals can be quite complicated, sometimes." Shoulders lift in a helpless sort of shrug.

"I am, of course, deeply honored, and it would be terribly rude of me not to accept the personal invitation of a friend of such good and noble character. And to what are we celebrating for your event, pray tell? Or mourning, perhaps? Or parading around in a good faith effort show of support for? Either way, I'm sure it will be a party for the ages. Relatively speaking, of course."

Such distinctions are often important.

"Poor people and sick children, mostly," Emma says, her smile straining a little, but it might be difficult to ascertain whether the cause is the subject or the commentary just before. "It's a charity event."

A pause, and then the woman perches in the chair next to Loki to prepare herself a cup of the tea in its dark and unadulterated glory. "But charity events bring some interesting bodies. So it might be worth your time."

She sips gingerly from her own cup, eyes closing and not immediately reopening. "But I've a question to ask."

Brows lift, green eyes watching Emma in that almost languid way of theirs as the edges of her smile seem to fray against unseen strain. Loki considers, his expression nettled with sympathy. Or a convincing enough facsimile.

"A good show it is, then. I'm sure it'll be a lively celebration of the mercy and generosity of you modern day royalty! And I do enjoy a watching a good back patting session from time to time. And even if not… don't worry, it's quite fine," the God of Mischief assures, leaning back comfortably in his seat as his gaze strays towards that letter. "I am sure I'll find a way to keep things interesting."

Still, curiosity dominates his features when that green gaze rolls back Emma's way. His head tilts, for a moment — and then Loki smiles, plucking up his teacup to bring to his lips.

"Oh? Far be it from me to stifle your curiosity. Hit me, as they say!"

Emma makes him wait as she takes another sip from her cup and savors it. Certainly, there are few things that the woman in white can actually control in this particular situation - although, she at least recognizes that one or two of those things might be self-soothing illusion. But she can make him wait.

And so she does. Not long enough to be rude by any stretch, but certainly long enough to show that she’s no intention of being rushed.

“Now that it’s just you and me… “

The blonde gingerly places her cup back on its saucer and balances it on the knee that rests atop its match when she crosses those long denim-wrapped legs.

“What do you want, Loki? Really?”

Because such very good friends should know these things.

And she never really gets an answer. She really isn’t all that surprised.

Six Minutes Ago…

So much had changed since the gala. The registration debate’s vicious return. Genosha’s collapse and early forays into reconstruction. The growing threat of Trask’s technology. And that was just on the mutants’ battlefront, although it touched with no small tangential line every creature that called itself more than human.

Which is the perfect time to revisit old investments, isn’t it?

She still doesn’t know what on earth he’d want—nor why he’d come when invited—but Emma Frost sends out the request to one of the only beings she can trust to be harder to pin down at any one point than herself. She can’t help, really, but to be a touch tickled by the notion of someone actually considered to be more generally untrustworthy than herself.

She’s not big on the comparison game, but—if she were—there would be joy found there perhaps.

Instead, there’s a muted amusement as she sips her chilled white wine, basking in the glory of spring halter sundress, her penthouse condo’s terrace, and the container garden there. It’s two in the afternoon, and she’s very busy pretending that there is no world beyond the tall reach of the arborvitae perimeter.

No world, that is, aside the corner of it from which her guest must of course come, since he isn’t here yet.

A difficult time to be a mutant. Then again, of course, when isn't it? The sad tale of of homo superior, a dizzying roller coaster that seemingly has no highs. Just a dizzying variety of lows. Terribly tragic, of course.

But tragedy, too, has merit.

"My, my. Wine, at this hour?"

From certain perspectives.

He isn't here yet. Even when his voice reaches, his body is not — echoing everywhere through the terrace that Emma Frost has comfortably situated herself at, and yet nowhere, as if his voice had simply lost track of his body. But of course, he comes, upon request. Where has he been since? What has he been doing? Certainly not the part of this particular tale to be focusing on. A story for another time. The important thing is, he is here. Of course.

Like a true friend.

But as that disembodied voice continues on, it gets more weight, more presence behind it. Coniferous plantlife shudders, and tiny, glowing green lights are shed from their many branches like so much pollen to be loosed to the skies. Motes of emerald churn upon a spontaneous breeze, swirling, coalescing…

… until they eventually start to mold together into a familiar, tall figure, bedecked with most gloriously gilded horns.

"Of course," continues on Loki, God of Mischief and Assorted Sundries, "I was never quite clear on Midgard customs — Asgardians, you see, just drink all the time. They hardly need an excuse, though I'm quite sure it helps. So! Is this a wine to drink for celebration, or rumination, I wonder?"

“I just like Pinot Grigio when the weather turns warm,” Emma replies, not startling as badly this time as she did the time before. Maybe it’s the slower arrival. Maybe it’s her awareness of Loki’s thoughts and presence just before he speaks.

Regardless, her eyes remain closed as she basks in the warm sunlight and the perfume of the late spring blooms that erupt out of various urns and raised beds. She’s comfortably wrapped in a gauzy dress that cuts low in the neckline, high in the hem, and drapes with a contrasting generosity over her arms in a large puffed sleeve tapered in at the wrist. Her legs are wrapped in the straps of a Gladiator-style stiletto, crossed at the knee.

She occupies her seat, a generously padded and sized wicker armchair, and very slowly opens her eyes to face her newly arrived guest as she unfurls her slender hand in the direction of a wrought iron table bearing the tray with the ice bucket, wine bottle, and set of glasses.

“Join me if you like. It’s five o’clock somewhere, as they say.” The smile she offers the dark haired Asgardian follows a beat later. “It feels like forever since we’ve had an opportunity to talk.”

"Well, isn't that refreshingly mundane?"

The words come so light and airy that one might struggle to picture them, or their owner, having any weight at all — a fact that might just be true, for a time, as the green-eyed trickster all but flows into existence as if making himself a body out of nature itself. But they are there, just as he is — smiling that equally light smile of his as pollen-spun fingers coalesce to flesh just as they clasp behind his back.

"And here was I, quite thoroughly prepared to engage in a philosophical conversation on alcohol! I had a delightful anecdote about Emperor Charles IV tucked away for just such an occasion. Alas! Perhaps next time." Shoulders lifting in a pseudo-exasperated gesture, that smile never quite leaves Loki's lips as he makes his way over towards that bottle of Pinot Grigio, plucking it up to inspect the bottle with a critical virid eye.

"Hmmm… not too bad. I think I will do just that. You always did have better taste in the poisons you pick than most. It's why we are such enduring friends!" The tip of a bottle sends white wine spilling into a crystal clear glass as the would-be Prince of Lies speaks, voice kept at a conversational lilt. "The mark of quality in a person is their choice of mead, or such is what my dear father always shouted at me when he felt I was associating with a 'bad crowd,' as they say."

'Bad crowds' being things like fire demons, dark elves, and/or agents of Ragnarok.

But that's neither here nor there for this particular tale.

"Oh, it's been an age! Relatively, of course. I'd likely call it more of an eyeblink, but," Loki seems to consider this, and then rolls his shoulders in a languid shrug, "tomayto, tomahto." Lifting that glass to his lips, he pauses before his first sip, keen gaze slipping Emma's way. "I do hope you have been keeping yourself well. It must be difficult! I hear tell your little homo superior community has been, as the wise sages of the internet say, the source of 'all the drama.' But!" He looks around his surroundings, considerate. "You seem to be doing rather well for yourself despite it! Good for you."

Emma’s long-lashed lids blink a few times through a hum that dances over the edge of her cup as she takes a deep, long sip from her glass. “Oh, you know how it goes when all the bigots around you are too busy underestimating you to realize that you neglected to share a few salient details about actually being one of the homo superior community.”

Slender shoulders shrug.

“It helps the little dears feel better, and I am very magnanimous that way.”

Whatever slight was drawn from her guest’s commentary is dismissed with an airy, contented sounding sigh over the downing of more wine. “I take it that you remain unscathed by the whole thing. That you’ve been well?”

"Well," muses Loki, swirling his glass of wine before taking a measured sip of its contents,

"If you don't mind me saying, you wear the sheep's clothes well, for a wolf. Though I dread to imagine the chafe!"

There is a reaction there, brief and ultimately dismissed though it may be; but if the God of Mischief takes note, it does not show on his well-pleased expression. The (technical) Asgardian instead just seems to mull over the wine that has just drifted across his taste buds, dark brows lifting in unison.

"Isn't that a quaint taste," he decides, before those green eyes flit back Emma's way with the curious cant of his head. "Hm? — Oh! Yes, I suppose I have. To be honest, droll as these affairs tend to get - it's like watching one of your 'soap operas' sometimes, I see where the inspiration comes from! - I decided to take a much-needed vacation from my vacation. So I've been…"

Loki Laufeyson seems to consider his next words for a moment, before he takes another, long sip of his wine, his free hand doing the explaining for him in a most vague of wrist-swiveling gestures.

"… elsewhere." There. That'll do.

"But that's wholly unimportant; a story for another time, I suppose. Perhaps I can take you with, next time! It'll be a regular girls' night out. You'd love it, I'm sure. Quick question: how well do you take to the heat of a thousand thousand suns?"

Considering this for a moment, ultimately, the would-be deity just lets his shoulders lift in a shrug. "Well, we'll come back to that. I wonder — is there anything you need in these trying times, dear Ms. Frost?"

She wears the clothes well. She smiles blandly. “Why, thank you,” Emma coos back, her head tilting several degrees to one side.

The glass in her hand is swirled slowly and pensively, however, as the next question is levied against her. “You are very kind to offer,” she tells him with a voice that purrs in its insincerity. It would be kind, perhaps, if she didn’t feel the nagging weight of a presently unknown price to pay.

“I suppose you could always poke at the human supporters of those ridiculous legislation. Make them look even more moronic than they already do. They’ll do just that eventually, of course,” she concedes with an airy shrug of one shoulder, “but there is a timetable. People considering. Watching. Judging.”

There’s a pause as Emma sips.

“This legislation has the capacity to negatively impact my quality of life. And I really can’t abide that.”

Little layers of lies, friendly faces of falsity. It's a dance that Loki knows the steps to so well, and so a purr of insincerity is met with a little smile like someone sharing a secret. Or, perhaps, a joke. It's a kind offer.

So it deserves an equally kind price, doesn't it?

"Ah, of course! You have built up quite the nice life for yourself here — I have to say, I've grown quite fond of the amenities of being within your orbit, as well. It has a certain sense of charm." The swirl of white wine accompanies the sweep of Loki's arm as if to indicate the comforts of Emma's life.

Or perhaps just the comforts of her wine. It's hard to say.

"And what manner of best friend forever would I be if I did not at least see to it that said comforts remain deep and abiding?" And here, Loki dips his head. In respectful deference, to a dear friend.

Make them look more moronic than they already do.

"Your wish is my command, Emma Frost. Let's see about making the wheels of bureaucracy turn a bit faster, for your liking."

After all…

"What are friends for?"

“Precisely this,” Emma agrees with a glass-smooth lie, lifting her mostly empty glass in a toast to her guest.

“You’re very kind to agree to help me. Thank you. You’ll need let me return the favor someday, should this all work out according to plan.” Leaning heavily to one side, the woman drapes herself over the arm of her perch as she drains the contents and sets the goblet aside.

Her eyes then resettle, pale and clear, upon Loki to consider him once more before she rises from her seat to replenish the glass. “You will come calling if such a thing comes upon you?”

A glass lifts. And its second rises to join not a moments later, in toast.

To Emma's good fortunes over having such a dedicated friend, of course.

"Oh, gratitude is unnecessary," assures Loki magnanimously, "though by all means, feel free to go on!" Tone effortlessly glib, he drains the rest of the contents of his glass, considering the empty, crystal clarity of it afterwards with a curious green eye. "Honestly, all you really need to do is keep supplying me with actual, decent drinks. Most mortals just don't have a sense of taste when it comes to things like this. No offense. Hashtag Not All Mortals, etc."

But as Emma rises, as she offers her little request, Loki Laufeyson's response is the dip of a most graceful bow, head canted to the left and right hand pressed so earnestly over where his heart rightly should be.

"Should," when, "that day come, don't worry!"

And by the time Emma returns… Loki is gone; that wine glass, clean and polished, once more rests at upon its tray, exactly in the position it was before the trickster arrived. As if he was never even there.

With only the God of Mischief's voice to offer his friendly reassurances in the empty air.

"You'll certainly know."

It's that bond between best friends, after all.

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