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10 September 2014 @ 10:58 pm
MCU Fic: The Wrong Door  
Title: The Wrong Door
Pairing: Loki/Sif
Rating: PG/Teen
Words: 1800

Summary: Sif takes a wrong turn, knocks on the wrong door, finds... someone maybe right?

NOTE: From a list of shippy AU tropes, the prompt: Loki/Sif, knocking on the wrong door au. Because I'm avoiding writing a combat scene in the longfic, have the start of something with way fewer weapons...

The brakes made an unhappy squeal as Sif stopped her Fiat where the lane divided into a Y. There was no indication of which branch continued Abernathy Lane, and which was some other pretty country lane. There was a pole that might have marked the way once, but any actual sign was missing. Both roads looked the same: narrow, paved, unmarked. She looked around, hoping to see someone to ask questions, but all she saw were trees, rolling hills, old field stone walls, and a few cows in the distance. It was beautiful, but would it kill them to put up a sign?

She checked her navigation again, which seemed to not know this second road existed at all. Huffing a breath, swearing that next time she would make Fandral deliver his own papers, she picked the one that went the most straight ahead, figuring that had to be the road.

It got bumpier, knocking her head against the roof hard enough she eased off the pedal. God damn it, why did Ms Collier have to live out here? She must be nearly to Manchester by now. Or fucking Narnia.

Finally there was a wooden gate across the road and she stopped again. There was a lack of signage here, too, except for the sign that said "trespassers keep out". But the gate moved easily enough out of the way, and she closed it again on the other side. She drove between the tall ornamental evergreens lining the road, and the hyacinth and other shrubbery encroaching in more wild disarray so that it was hard to pass. It was rather fancy for the cottage she had been told to expect, but some people had odd ideas about "cottage".

The road passed under a stone archway/gatehouse and into a driveway, and she saw the cottage. "Cottage? Right," she scoffed aloud.

It was a grand house, with two floors and gables, with a main entrance in the middle, ready to receive people in their fancy dress from carriages in a bygone era. On closer look the house was falling into some neglect - the paint was definitely worn and cracked, the highest windows were boarded up, and ivy had covered all the windows on the eastern side completely and was making inroads on the rest. The sporty silver Audi parked to the side made her think that maybe Ms Collier wasn't as old as she was assuming.

She grabbed the envelope and got out of the car. The sun was pleasant on her bare arms, but she'd sweat in the silk shell if she put on her blazer.

There seemed to be no bell, and using the big brass knocker on the door broought no answer. She knocked harder and called loudly, "Hello? Ms Collier? Anyone home?"

Stupid big houses that you could be too far to hear a knock, but still be inside the house. Sif huffed a lock of hair out of her eyes. She was not leaving the place without getting the signatures.

But then she heard a bang from behind the house, some sort of loud pop that she couldn’t identify. But it meant someone was home, thank God.

She headed around the house on a narrow graveled path. She peeked in one of the windows curiously as she passed. It was a library, though there were few books on the shelves. There were however a few other weird things, like what might be a disasembled stereo system spread across a table.

The back of the house was a wide veranda, once for elegant parties overlooking the untended rose garden down the steps. Now it was holding two large tables that looked ugly enough to be WWII-era surplus. They both held electrical equipment, had cords snaking between them and off to another device in the corner, and two laptops open.

There was also a man crouched on the ground, possibly untangling the rat's nest of wires or possibly adding to them, she couldn't tell. He was wearing black, despite the sun, and his hair was black, too. He was definitely not Ms Collier, but hopefully she could give him the envelope.

When he seemed done for the moment and wouldn't be electrocuted if she surprised him - since he seemed to have no idea anyone was watching him - she cleared her throat. "Excuse me. I'm sorry to interrupt--"

He startled and slammed his head on the table hard enough to make her wince in sympathy. "What the hell?" he blurted. Then rubbing his head, he looked in her direction. The open shock was a little funny to see, but it was quick to close up into anger, and he unfolded himself to his feet.

It was a little bit like a magic trick - he got taller and taller as he stood up, topping her by a hand even in her heels. His black jeans made his legs look long and lean, and his hair hung around his face with a careless disarray as if he rarely bothered to do anything with it besides wash it. His skin looked pale by contrast with his hair, but that made his eyes even more striking. They were distinctly green, not blue, even from five meters, and they pinned her with an glare of irritation. "What do you want?"

"Sorry to interrupt," she repeated and gestured toward the front of the house with that little self-effacing laugh that she'd tried to train herself out of. "I tried to knock, but no one answered. My name is Sif, I'm a financial planner from Alban and Drake, in London, here with some papers for Ms Barbara Collier."

He frowned, but seemed less annoyed now that he knew why she was there. "Ah. The Collier place is two miles back at the main turn off for the village. You must've missed it."

"Oh fuck," she blurted. Her heartfelt dismay made his lips turn upward in a smile that utterly transformed his face from icy hostility to a bright amusement and she couldn't help but smile back.

Then she bit her lip, shifted her feet and wondered if she could make it, but it was smarter to ask, even if it were embarrassing. "Um, I realize I'm intruding terribly, but could I possibly use your facilities before I go? It was a long drive, with a lot of coffee."

The request made him arch his brows at her boldness, and he peered at her face as if looking for something, then he chuckled. "Sure. Come in." Then he said, "Oh, I suppose I should have some manners, if I'm inviting you in the house." He brushed his hands on his pants, though that did nothing about the sooty black spots on his fingers as he held his hand out to her. "Loki Laufeyson. Welcome to Jotunheim."

She felt herself staring as she automatically shook his hand. She knew the story - the scandal - that had broken in all the papers a few years ago, that the second son of the CEO of Asgard International, was found not to be his son at all but the lost heir of the Earl of Jotunheim. She might have tried a curtsey - it was not every day she met a peer- but his grip kept her from doing it. His fingers seemed long, wrapping her hand farther than most, and his skin was pleasantly cool, despite the heat of the day.

Loki's smile turned wry and a bit crooked, seeing her recognition, and he said lightly, "Yes, that. Funny, I took down all the signs so the tabloids couldn't find the place, and you stumble on it by looking for someone else."

"Just dumb luck I guess. It's good to meet you. Sir."

He rolled his eyes. "Please. We were getting on so well. I'm not that much of a snob, I promise. Come inside, and you can see my very glamorous inheritance. This way." She didn't think it was her imagination that there was a tension to his face and the line of his jaw as he turned away. She'd always assumed it had been a happy discovery for him; it was like something out of a storybook, after all, to find out that one was the sole heir to an ancient title. But maybe it had been a little less fairy tale than she'd thought.

The French doors were open and he led her inside the house. There were two very lonely mismatched chairs against the wall, in what had once been the large room for entertaining. The ceiling was still a work of art with its ornate molded plaster and a chandelier of tiny crystalline snowflakes.

"They sold most of the furniture to clear the debt, years ago," he explained. "And I have neither money, nor interest, in replacing it."

"It's beautiful," she murmured, head craned backward to look up at the chandelier. "I can imagine what this place used to look like."

"I'm hoping I don't have to sell it. But we'll see." He led her through a narrow door into a passageway and the bathroom wedged into what had been a pantry for the servants to prepare for parties. "There you go. Luckily they modernized the plumbing before it all went to ruin. I'll be outside."

He started away but turned back around in the passage to face her, long fingers sliding on each other in an anxious gesture. She found herself watching those fingers and the muscles in his bare forearms. He asked abruptly, "Would you like to stay for tea? I don't get a lot of visitors so I can't promise anything elegant. There are jaffa cakes and a tin of biscuits left from Christmas, I think…"

He seemed quite in earnest about the Christmas biscuits, until she noticed the twitch in his lips and the gleam in his eyes. "Oh, old biscuits are my favorite," she joked, and he grinned, pleased that his sense of humor had landed. But then she remembered she had dropped in, uninvited, by mistake no less, and everything got awkward again. "But don't go to any trouble, please. I feel terrible for interrupting that… whatever that was you were doing outside."

"Magnetic field propagation," he answered. "I'll explain later, if you want. I'm a professor at UCL when I'm not here."

"Oh." She followed that very clever observation with another, more incredulous, "Really?"

"Yes, really." The dryness of his tone made her cheeks heat with embarrassment.

She groped for something to say that didn't sound as if she was shocked that he had a real job and a brain. "I went to King's for Business and Economics. Sorry, I guess we're enemies," she joked with a shrug, not missing that his eyes strayed downward with her movement. But it didn't distract him either.

"Pity you went to such a second-rate institution," he oozed in mocking sympathy, and then he smirked at his own wit. She shook her head, chuckling. "So?" he asked, "Shall I put on the kettle?"

She considered. He seemed eager for company, as if he'd been alone in the house a bit too long, not as if he wanted to do anything inappropriate, checking her out notwithstanding. It wasn't as if she weren't doing it back, enjoying the way that t-shirt was clinging to his chest and slim waist. He must run, or whatever it was house-poor lords did for exercise, because that was not the body of a sedentary professor. Not that she was considering inappropriate things, because they'd just met. Even if she had looked at his left hand to see that he wasn't wearing a wedding band. There was no harm in looking.

In any case, he was the most interesting person she'd met in quite awhile. She smiled. "I'd like that. Thank you."

He nodded once and headed back outside. She watched him go, and indeed, he fit his jeans as well as his shirt.

Glancing down at the envelope in her hand, she decided that Ms Collier was going to have to wait a little longer.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.