"I know it's sad that I never gave a damn about the weather,
And it never gave a damn about me.
I know it's sad that I never gave a damn about the weather,
And it never gave a damn about me.
No, it never gave a damn about me.
I know it's mad, but if I go to Hell
Will you come with me or just leave?
I know it's mad, but if the world were ending
Would you kiss me or just leave me?
Just leave me?"
Panic at the Disco, Do You Know What I'm Seeing?
So after the ferry we headed north. We pretended like we were campers, in Norway, in November. I'm not sure how Gunnar pulled that off, since I was wearing flip-flops.
You know... I should have learned Norwegian. Gunnar learned Norwegian. That was really smart. He was the only one of us who took the time to be that smart. And the "park ranger" didn't speak English. That made it really difficult for me to be charming, because I'm only charming in so many languages. Norwegian is not one of them.
I don't really know what Gunnar told the guy about where we were going. But I saw him point at the map, and grin suggestively at me and I figured there was some sort of innuendo there and hoped that was my cue to bat my eyes and bite my lip.
I guess it worked, because Gunnar handed the guy his keys (if I understand correctly, this was as collateral to make sure the guy had some leverage in case Harlan and Gunnar... killed me and tried to dump my body in the mountains? I guess not everyone thinks I look as sturdy as Harlan said) and I put on a parka and we started hoofing it.
Then I gave Harlan a sixteen hour piggyback ride. In flip-flops. Dude would seriously not let go. He wasn't grabby (that I could tell through the parka) but the couple of times I tried to shrug him off and set him down he just fucking hung on like some demented spider-monkey/sloth type creature.
After a long stretch of walking, jogging, and sashaying (I sashayed. Gunnar doesn't sashay) Gunnar saw a guy sunbathing in the Jotunheimen Mountain Range. That part was kinda weird. He spotted him from 700 feet away. That part wasn't weird, that's just Gunnar. Said the guy called himself Jack Frost. I wondered where Rudolph was.
Apparently Jack Frost told Gunnar where we could find the frost giants. We kept walking.
Finally we got to some giants. Who ran away. Said we were Bullets, Axes and Pain and that they meant us no trouble but that Utgar-Loki was right over thattaway and by the way he was expecting us. Of course. It would be nice if we could be Bullets, Axes, Pain and Surprise. But that's probably not going to happen.
Then I finally convinced Harlan that, poor baby, his feet still worked and yes he had to use them. We got into this cave, where there wasn't a whole lot except for a chain and some ice, and Gunnar had the great idea for us to get some rope and use the buddy system. He didn't put it like that. I can't imagine Gunnar using the words "buddy system."
So we tethered ourselves together, and held onto the chain, and Harlan melted away part of the ice with his fiery fieriness, and then holy shit we suddenly had no ground under us. And part of the chain broke because I guess it hadn't been attached in a long time. Or was barely attached. Or was damaged and we didn't see it because oh hey it was buried in ice.
That burning away the ice thing wasn't really a great idea (and I'm officially starting to think that just maybe Harlan, while obviously smart and really good with people, is a terrible tactician and... um, we should... leave the planning to Gunnar? I might wait a while before voicing this theory to the rest of the Band). So we were just kinda stuck koala-hanging onto the chain, with a 150 foot drop beneath us. It was kinda far. My legs talked me out of just jumping from the chain with their strong desire not to get broken.
So one of the guys had the brilliant idea for us to swing over to the the ledge and climb down, and when we got to the bottom there were these massive icy gates... that I had completely, definitely seen before. I mentioned that to Gunnar. These were the gates from that vision.
We started walking towards them, and saw some big ass Tatzelwurms tethered to the walls. Guard dogs, probably. Harlan and Gunnar were in front, I was thinking about how to get around them and I started feeling the familiar pull on my blood, the kind that says there's a barrier here.
I stopped dead, not going through. Gunnar turned, he must have heard me stop.
I told him if I went through with them I wouldn't be able to come back out with them, not after that stunt with the ferry. In that weird, metaphysical sense I felt like I was just too tired and it had worn me out. I'd be stuck in Jotunheim if I went through, for who knows how long.
I wanted to go with them anyway and hope that on the other side I could pull off some trick that would allow me to come back. I almost did go anyway.
I took a tiny step forward and Gunnar started making this face like... it's hard to describe. He closed his eyes tightly and pursed his lips angrily and lowered his head while he shook it and... It was kind of like a face-palm and a wince and the inhalation right before an angry scream and one of those disappointed and heavy sighs, but none of it was audible and it was all just on his face. It was that look that made it sink in, I was about to strand our sons in Jotunheim, and strand myself too and all the while on the other side of the barrier the war would just carry on without me and there would probably be more lives lost on the other side, some of them probably my friends, because I refused to listen to Fate when it was just telling me to fucking "stay."
But I listen to Gunnar.
And more than that, I couldn't think of any reason, any threat big enough that I would want our sons born there, that's for damned sure.
I wanted to hand Gunnar my axe, but I couldn't reach through the barrier and he was already on the other side. He made a move of some sort, but he couldn't reach through the barrier either. I wanted to hand him my necklace, or one of my rings, or anything that would help the the two of them, but I couldn't reach through the barrier. I wanted to kiss him goodbye, but I couldn't reach through the fucking barrier.
Harlan heard what the problem was and kinda grinned at me. "I'll bring your husband back." I'm not sure if he meant that to be reassuring. It wasn't.
"Oh, you fucking better." My teeth were clenched. "Or I will find you."
"I'm sure you will," Harlan just kept grinning. I think. It was hard to tell, he was already breakdancing past the Tatzelwurms. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a brushoff or what. I didn't, and still don't, really care. All I cared about was that if shit hit the fan and Harlan didn't do everything he could to bring Gunnar back to me, I was going to make him so fucking sorry.
Gunnar turned to go with Harlan, after basically telling me to take it easy and make sure I would be able to keep myself out of trouble. I watched his back moving farther away for as long as I could, which wasn't really all that long, and after a while I sat down.
And I thought.
Twelve hours. Just thinking.
I won't lie, somewhere in hour two I started talking to myself.
In the course of my thinking, here's what I came up with: I should have put on more than a parka, and Gunnar is awesome.
No, I didn't take all twelve hours to figure that out. It only took about thirty minutes for me to realize what a badass my husband is, and it's something I need to make sure he hears from me in case we get separated again and one of us can't make it back.
It sucked that I couldn't follow Gunnar into Jotunheim. It was frustrating as hell to encounter a challenge about which I could do exactly fuck and all. Then it occurred to me how lucky I am that Gunnar and Harlan went in anyway. They were willing to finish something I started. Because really, this whole fucking thing is my fault. I shot Marie, I said I'd get her back and as a result we all lost three months of our lives. It's my fault we had to go to Hel, and it's my fault they're going to find Utgar-Loki and I should have planned better and been able to go with them but I didn't and I couldn't and it didn't stop them.
I was really surprised that Harlan went, but it didn't surprise me that Gunnar was going, and that got me thinking about all of the other times I haven't been surprised by the awesome shit he's done.
It reminded me of when I first saw Erzulie through Sibyl. I'd had tears in my eyes that night, and Gunnar said something about how hell would be a vacation, volunteering right off the bat to go with me.
That was the part that put a smile back on my face.
See, a lot of guys will tell a woman they'll go through hell, either with her or for her, or whatever they think she wants to hear so they can get into her pants. Most guys, and this is the stuff I wanna make sure Gunnar knows I'm grateful for, never bother to prove it. Most guys never have to, so those bullshit promises are completely safe to make.
But it's not bullshit, not from him.
He's proved it twice.