It was snowing outside. Ava loved the cold, it meant she could curl up in countless blankets and still feel comfortable. So warm, nice, fuzzy.
And it meant Odin wouldn't bother her for a few hours.
Ava couldn't work yet. She couldn't make money for herself, or really do about half the things she would need to do to live by herself legally. She was only fifteen. Fifteen and on her own in the world.
All alone. Except for Odin.
Odin was a few years older, and was in a few of her classes, and when he heard by the spread of rumors around that her parents were gone, and she had nothing but what their government provided her, it worried him. He couldn't really imagine what it would be like without his family, much less his parents or a place to live for most of his life. Not to mention that this was Ava of all people, this tiny, quiet girl who's probably too naive to even know what the world can shove her way.
Odin considered Ava and him to be at least acquaintances. When he asked Ava if she needed a place to stay, she couldn't lie. Why lie to someone who you don't particularly care what they think?
Of course, when she did confess that she had no place to live, Odin thought about how awful it must be, to have nothing to look forward to after school; no one to come home to that could talk to her. He had empathy for the girl, and he decided that he could at least try to provide for her, and invited her to live in his apartment. Ava was naturally reluctant, but this was such an opportunity, finally getting a roof over her head! Odin gladly took her in as his roommate. He couldn't possibly think that someone like her would be that hard to care for. Ava was living with him, and she didn't have much of a choice to do otherwise.
A few months had passed since Ava came to live there in the summer, and it had been about nothing but stress for Odin. Who knew teenaged girls had to eat so much, and got sick, and needed a lot of other stuff? It helped that he had already gotten some college credit from some dumb art classes, so he would be able to work at least somewhere to cover them for awhile. It left Ava alone for long periods of time after school, where she would lay down and think until he came home.
Today was just like any day for Odin: Get dressed, clean up, go to work. Ava, however, due to the weather, didn't need to leave. School was out with the snow. Ava sighed. The building that she lived in was old, and when things got this cold outside, the heaters would work too hard and burn themselves out. When the heaters went out was when every basket and every bed was raided of its blankets and piled around Ava. It was always so comfortable and fluffy, and sometimes it even lulled her to sleep.
Her red hair spilled over the side of the wall of blankets as she scrolled through pages and pages of cliché winter posts on her phone. With school being out, social media was booming with pictures and videos of people playing in the snow, or heavily filtered photos of someones hot coffee, usually in an effort to try to make the viewer jealous. Sometimes Ava wished she could play in the snow with a friend, but the ground around the apartment was mostly gravel and the chainlink fence hugged the property pretty tightly, so even if she did have someone to go into the snow with, there wouldn't be much good snow to really play with. Ava didn't mind all that much. Maybe when Odin got home, she could try to convince him to play in the snow with her, even though he would probably say no and spend the rest of the night in his room, trying to ignore her. Ava scoffed. He would end up being a huge let down in the snow anyway.
Ava's old friend, Maggie Lacivi, was one of the girls who was posting pictures of herself doing things in the cold, usually throwing big handfuls of snow into the air, or making a snow angel. Ava sometimes thought about inviting her over to do something, maybe even to just sit and talk, but she knew that they hadn't really talked since the third grade, and who knew what Maggie even thought of her now? Ava knew she was better off avoiding her altogether, instead of trying to face her again and fully embarrassing herself.
The flood of memories was put to an abrupt halt when her phone began to buzz in her hands. Odin was calling. She groaned quietly, pressing the button to dismiss him. As she scrolled through another classmate's collage of winter activities, he called again. Ava knew he could be persistent when he wanted something, and she also knew she wouldn't hear the end of it when he got home.
"What the heck do you want, Odin?" She flinched at her own words. They seemed a bit snappy for beginning a conversation.
"Wow, uh, h-hello to you too, Ava." She groaned in reply. There was no use in fueling his sarcasm. He paused, then continued.
"Well, h-hows your little 'day off' going f-for you?"
"It's alright, I mean I still haven't gotten outside or anything yet."
"R-really? Wouldn't expect anything like t-that from you, 'Miss Introverted.'"
She groaned again. "Well I can still have fun out of the freezing cold, in the apartment."
"Oh, r-really? What classifies as fun for you?"
"Well, I have been looking through some friend's winter albums and seeing what they've been doing, so—"
Ava was cut off by the sound of Odin's laughter, gradually getting louder in the phone.
"T-thats fun t-t-to you, Ava? W-watching other p-people have f-fun? Th-thats the f-funniest thing I-I've heard all day!" Odin barely squeezed out the last word before laughing again. Ava shouted in annoyance, throwing the phone on the floor a few inches away from her.
When she picked it back up, she yelled into it angrily. "What do you want, other than to have a little laugh before you go back to work, you stuttering pansy!" Odin had to slowly collect himself before replying. "J-just wanted to make sure y-you had gotten something for lunch. I-I'm not fixing anything when I get home."
Food. Ava had totally forgotten about it. "Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Leave me alone so I can get something, okay 'Daaad'?" She stretched out the last word for emphasis and abruptly hung up and rubbed her legs, reaching them out of the blanket pile. Chills shot through them as she realized just how cold the apartment really was. It must've really been coming down outside, she thought, pulling her sleeves down and ruffling her dress. She walked into the kitchen, trying to step around quickly because of how chilly the tile had gotten. Pacing over to the cabinet, she jumped up onto the counter, opening the little doors and pulling out some crackers. Ava was never really a 'eat a big meal and be done' kind of person, more of a 'snack until you aren't really hungry anymore' kind. Holding the box close to her and running down the hall, her feet greeted the warm carpet as she reached her room. She picked up all the blankets and piled them on her shoulders as she sat down. Nice and warm again, with snacks this time around.
When she had gotten back to her winter-activity browsing, she noticed Maggie had just put up a few more pictures, now with Gil Marverde in the mix. Ava scoffed. Gil was sweet, and always pretty kind to her, but when you got him really talking, he could get pretty passionate and pretty annoying really fast. Ava didn't know if it was really all of her opinion, or part of Odin's opinion of him influencing her, since he always complained about the things he talked about and what he believed in.
Ava reached her hand into the box of crackers, pulling a handful of them out and stuffing them into her mouth. She did her best not to make a huge mess, because she knew how little Odin cleaned anything, and it always agitated her having to step around on crunchy carpets for a month. She laid her head down on the edge of the blanket mound and ate a few more. Ava hated feeling bored, but what she hated worse than that was feeling lonely. It was pretty relaxing being left alone for a few hours, just her and the apartment, but when the day seemed to stretch on, and she had no one to talk to, she would resort to the one person she had. Pulling up her messages, she texted:
Odin are you there? No response.
Im really bored. When are you getting home? Nothing.
Ava groaned, and tapped away at her phone angrily. If you dont text back Ill never talk to you again.
After getting no reply to that, she simply gave up, deciding the only way to conquer this boredom and loneliness was to just shut her eyes and sleep through the rest of the afternoon.
When Ava awoke, it was still pretty cold in the apartment. Her blankets were still piled on top of her, keeping her comfortable and warm. After a few seconds of consciousness, she slowly realized she wasn't on the floor in the blanket pile she fell asleep in, and was actually tucked nicely in her bed, with the slight whistle of water running. She didn't remember crawling into the bed, and she definitely didn't leave any faucets on, so that really only left one thing possible—Odin was home.
Ava ripped the covers off of herself, rubbing her legs to keep them from shivering as she walked down the hall. She listened for the sound of the running water and followed it to the bathroom to find Odin, hunched over the sink, washing his hands. At first he didn't notice her, until she cleared her throat in annoyance, where his head turned to look at her. "Hey Ava." He murmured, barely acknowledging her and returning back to his hand-washing. Ava waited there silently, not quite enjoying getting nothing out of him after being alone all day; barely even getting a word from him. Crossing her arms, she stood there silently, staring at him as she waited for a response. He looked again as he shut off the faucet, rolling his eyes tiredly.
"What, is this ab-about me not texting you back?"
Ava shook her head, grunting under her breath. Her annoyance with him had been stewing in the back of her mind since he called her. Why did he coddle her so much, and then ignore her when she got home? Why did he feel the need to move her from where she was perfectly comfortable to her bed? Obviously, if he cared enough to do that, maybe he could spare a little bit of his precious time doing absolutely nothing to talk to the girl who had been completely alone all day. She bit her lip, saying the first thing that came to her mind.
"Why... Why did you even touch me while I slept?"
Odins eyes opened wide and his face bent into a very concerned expression. Oh my god that could have been worded so much better. Ava shook her head vigorously. Now he thinks I think he molested me in my sleep. Great.
Odin opened his mouth to say something, but Ava cut in, her face turning a bright red. "I meant pick me up, like moving me to my bed, alright? Stop taking stuff so wrong!"
She knew she was just digging her hole deeper and deeper, and before she knew it Odin was smirking at her, and she stormed off to her bedroom, screaming in annoyance as she slammed her door shut. Crawling back into her bed, she burrowed under her covers, hoping that he would totally forget about it and leave her alone. Thats all she ever wanted in the very first place. To be left alone. To not have to even hear Odin try to talk to her.
Of course, nothing ever goes exactly how Ava wants it to. After a few minutes of silent, frustrated bliss, Odin did end up coming in, attempting to open the door quietly, but his heavy steps failing his efforts. Ava didn't speak, and just covered herself in the blankets even more.
He sat on the edge of the bed in silence for a few seconds, then spoke. "H-hey, I really just d-don't know what I did, but I'm s-sorry, okay? I w-wont do whatever I did again."
Sometimes it was hard for Odin to understand Ava and all of her fifteen year-old emotions, but he found out all it really takes is to just apologize. Gently placing his hand on her shoulder, he waited for her response. Ava tensed up, but relaxed, deciding there was no reason to really fight him now.
"Fine, Odin, I just... I don't like it when you baby me like a child, like your child, but I don't like it when you just don't care, y'know? I want to talk to you, but I don't want to be babied." Turning onto her back, she looked up at him. He was looking down with a pretty neutral expression, but closed his eyes and smiled.
"Alright, alright, j-just don't give me mixed signals again okay?" He said, turning his head to her and opening his eyes. "Y-you were being all reject-y, so I thought you d-didn't want to deal with me, but th-that obviously made things w-worse."
Wrapping the covers around her, she sat up, sighing an apology and bringing her knees to her chest. She didn't care what had happened earlier that day. She just liked that Odin was talking to her like a normal person for once.
"L-listen, I don't want you to be mad anymore okay?" He said giving her a pat on the shoulder, turning his head and smirking. "A-and don't let me fo-forget to give you a l-lesson on using your f-filter."
Ava rolled her eyes and grunted quietly in annoyance, resting her chin on her knees. She knew she always said the wrong stuff at the wrong time, but hey, looking back on what she said, it was a little funny, and it made her smile for a moment or two. "I don't need to be reminded, Odin, trust me, I—"
She was cut off with a loud shudder in the ceiling, followed by the quiet purr of the heaters turning back on. Warm air filled the room and hit Ava, making her feel nice and comfortable again. She sighed, turning her head to Odin.
Odin stood up, looking back at her, all tucked nicely in bed, and he shrugged.
Ava laid back in bed, maintaining eye contact, pulling the blankets up to her cheeks.
"Can you fix some dinner now?"
"L-let me guess, you w-want me to bring it in h-here for you to eat in bed, P-Princess?"
Ava nodded, and Odin rolled his eyes.
He turned and left to get something, leaving Ava underneath the covers. The steady noise of the heater was so calming to her, and the warmth hugged her tight, and it made her sleepy.
When Odin came back with her plate, she was already knocked out. He sighed, backing out of her room, closing the door quietly, chuckling to himself.
"More for m-me, I guess."