Kennedy watched as Karya exited, the door closing behind her – not quite a slam, but with enough force to imply that the other woman was more than slightly miffed about something, though the guesses were short and unnecessary, Magni flipping the lock, the bolt sliding home as soon as it was secure. “Well, that was enlightening.” Her statement bordered on a query, more than a little off-balance by the appearance of the Valkyrie, along with all of the other changes that seemed to have happened while she was gone. Then again, only 18 months had passed – she was still mentally adjusting to losing 10 years that were steadily fading, much like steam from a mug of coffee.
Magni turned to her, dark red hair glinting in the spotlights by the door, frowning slightly at her tone. Advancing, he invaded her space, hands cupping her chin, cradling her face. “Kennedy, I don’t want her and she is no substitute for you, in any shape or form that this world can create. I wouldn’t accept that you were gone, but my grandfather refused to even look, no matter how much I begged. But you’re here, back, with me and I refuse to let you leave just yet.” Large, capable hands dropped over shoulders, skimming down her back, pulling her closer, flush to him. “Ask me, Kennedy; ask me into your bed.”
Kennedy shook with silent laughter, held fast by the look in his eyes. “Isn’t this your place? Shouldn’t you be inviting me in, asking me to share your bed?” She hated the small quaver to her voice at the end – after all, she’d been deposited here by Russell, coming in uninvited to Magni’s new place. She felt rough, dirty, an invader to a new realm. Her clothes were the same ones she’d left in after that last-minute summons to go on that fateful mission – now torn, ripped, barely there in some places, hanging by the thinnest of threads in others. She should have, at the least, gone home, showered, changed clothes, be presentable to the public eye, not some ragamuffin urchin on the street corner.
“Kennedy, will you come in? Will you share my bed, my life, with me?” Magni’s voice dropped, husky in her ear, so different from the other’s she’d known, the Magnus’ and other variations of the man in front of her. Even if he wasn’t the same Magni, her Magni, she was satisfied that he was similar enough to nod, her throat tight with emotion. She had to believe that she was home, really home.
Her pants were unhooked, pooling on the floor, his hands running down her legs, up from calf to thigh. The fabric of her shirt ripped, was discarded along the floor, flotsam that was swept away. He lunged, movement quick and blurring in her vision. His mouth didn’t merely take but possessed while large hands raced over her body, igniting raw, primitive need.
She tugged at the hem of his shirt, at the buttons, exposing flesh that she wanted, needed. Muscles jumped under her fingertips, the rough and smooth angles burning under her touch. Need leaped to craving as she tried to satisfy it, her mouth on his throat where his pulse beat, heavy and fast, her teeth on his shoulder where muscles tensed like wire. And the need only grew.
Magni could have taken her there and then, hard and fast, a tribute to the Vikings who had worshipped his family. She begged, pleaded for him to do so, to sate the craving before it consumed her. He swept her up, a sensation more akin to being dragged than carried, and she thrilled at it. When she was under him, she arched up, pressing urgently against him.
“Now. Now, now, now.”
She shouldn’t have wanted so much. But lust was brutal and she was a storm raging, slashing under him, around him, over him, a clash of light and dark, male and female, fire and thunder. Need, want, crawled along skin that warmed at the merest touch, fingertips that alternated between the barest of touches to that of clawing, scraping away, baring raw emotions that threatened to tear them both apart. Almost everything about him eroded at her self-control, the control that had seen her through ten long years, and she let it slip away. She needed more before she took it all.
Not to savor, since savoring would perhaps drive her mad, but to consume in great gulps of need.
Nails dug into the skin of his back, hips, as mouth and hands roamed, possessed. His hands were rough, ruthless for her, for himself. He wanted to see her break, shatter, for him. She cried out, nails digging deeper as she broke and he plunged into her.
She cried out, a strangled sound that gasped out pleasure. That pleasure whipped through her like a gale, again, again, until there was nothing else. Lost in the speed, drowning in the sensation, she drove as she was driven, with a kind of dark fury, clinging to him as he moved, as she was rendered into something small and mortal; a bright, burning fire that threatened to consume the immortal with its bright incandescence. Thunder sounded and lightning flashed, leaving something that dazzled behind the eyelids for moments after. He thrust deep; she rose high, their bodies sheened with the sweat of effort and greed. She saw his face above her, the tumble of red hair around it, burning blue eyes fixed on hers.
She tried to speak, to tell him…something. But all that would form was his name.
She lay stunned under him, breathless from the storm and from the full weight of him. They’d torn each other to bits, she thought, in every way but bloody. This had been more akin to a pitched battle with but one goal.
Give me all you’ve got, then give me more. Which, she concluded, explained the sensation of mild shock and smug satisfaction.
She stretched, languid, a mixture of contradictions – fire and shadow, candid face and female mystery, limbs tangled with his, the dim lighting catching the hint of rosy glow of her skin, the moonlight coming in through the skylight above turning the rest into silver, muting the copper of her hair. Magni held her close, face buried in the crook of her neck and shoulder, not willing to let her go even then. Kennedy relaxed against his warmth, wanting it as much as she had needed him earlier.
“In almost every reality, you were there.” She spoke softly, slowly, bringing to the fore the memories that were still there. “In the first one, you were a Roman gladiator and freedom fighter, in love with another woman. You weren’t there in the next one…or maybe, you were, but I didn’t have time to find you – it was the 1940’s, all nostalgic patriotic times and the impending doom of World War Two. The next was some odd place, a city with doors that led to other realms, but nothing like Asgard, with the doors leading back to the same place you left. But you were there, in the last one. Magnus, of the Horsemen.” She paused, remembering that other man, the one dazzled by the version of her there, following her to the surface world, joining the Troubleshooters as a reserve member, asking her to be his queen, to rule by his side. The one who had been the closest to the one who held her.
“Magnus of the Horseman? How odd. Were you in love with him?” He had to ask, hearing the note in her voice, fearing the answer but needing to hear it, no matter what she said. Though, would their reunion be as the way it was if she’d been with another? He rose on one bent elbow, studying her face, her eyes.
She shook her head, running a hand through his locks, feeling the shape of his head beneath her fingertips. “I came close, if that’s what you’re asking. Ten years there, with no way of knowing if the same amount of time was passing here, with no way of knowing if we’d ever come back. Ironhide refused to give up hope while Wire gave in after a year and a half. Hendricks and Neutrino were stuck in the bodies of children, growing up over that time. Magnus saw me, pursued me, much like you did, and I was tempted. But, in the end, I couldn’t, no matter how similar he was to you. I can only hope that the version of me that I left behind can do what I couldn’t. I hope that he’ll still be in love with her without me in control, in synch with that world.”
He nodded, moving, lifting her left hand to rub his thumb across the ring she still wore, light glinting on the metal of the band, fire shimmering from the gemstone there. Fingers curled around his, slim tapered tips slight, fragile next to his, yet able to lift tons, to crush rock almost as easily as he could. She, in turn, felt that way next to him, around him, something soft, tenuous, a phantom that threatened to be dispersed if he looked too closely. After the team had disappeared, he’d stepped up to be the symbol that they couldn’t, though the hopes of the world depended on them. Time had passed and there had been no word but the attacks had ceased their world no longer in danger from tearing itself apart and hopes had risen that they had been successful, that they’d come back to acclaim and gratitude.
But the heroes hadn’t appeared and fears arose that the victory had come at an unforeseen, feared, disastrous outcome. Families had solemnly prepared arrangements for their fallen, friends and strangers bonding in the common bond of sorrow. Dedications had been made, memorials given, with talks of a statue to be created of the ones who’d given their lives for them all. He’d stood by, taken part, and witnessed as the families of the ones who’d made their identities public, mourned with those of the ones who weren’t, her family at the forefront of that small group. He was the fiancé, the enigmatic man who claimed to be a Norse god, the one that their daughter was in love with. He was also another hero, a person with powers they couldn’t comprehend. He’d had to step back, to do his own mourning for the girl who’d shared so much with him. It took courage to stand up to Odin All-Father, to defy the mightiest of them, but she’d done just that, standing her ground when she’d arrived in Asgard. Now she was back, home, and had come to him first.
“We watched, waited, despaired. But you made it back here and we’re no longer in danger. The world is safe once more, thanks to you and the others.” He ran the hand up, down her arm, assuring himself that she was real, not some very realistic fantasy he was indulging in. Gods who dreamed could change reality with such beliefs. Her skin was warm beneath his, pulse beating faintly at her wrist before their fingers interlocked again. He rose, bent his head to kiss her again, plundering, taking, needing more. A mortal who had his heart, something that was still sending the Aesir into rounds of debate that could take until Ragnarok happened. “Why don’t we take round two a little slower?”
Kennedy smiled, linking her hands behind his neck, drawing him down. “Why don’t we?”