mjolnir_retriever: Thor talking, with a serious expression and slightly furrowed brow (more than a little bemused)
Thor, son of Odin ([personal profile] mjolnir_retriever) wrote2012-08-05 05:18 am
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Jane, now swathed in a large pale sweater, leads him along the wet streets he carried Erik down not long ago, and back to the building where they do their science work. Thor wonders at this, since he remembers no yard or garden there, but he follows willingly. Jane asks him a little of the evening's events, of the army called SHIELD and Erik's actions, and Thor does his best to answer all she asks, but mostly they walk in silence.

Her plan becomes clear when she leads him inside and up the stairs, past their rooms of equipment and windows, and through another door to the roof. Jane pauses at a lump covered in blue -- fabric, he thought at first glimpse, but it's more of the plastic Midgard is currently so fond of -- and pulls back the covering to reveal a stack of firewood.

She gestures to some odd chairs, and goes to light a fire in the small brazier in the middle of the roof. She knows what she's doing, so Thor leaves her to it, and sits down for lack of anything more useful to do.

This is the first open fire he's seen since he came to Midgard. Thor's father's palace (his brother's palace, now, a palace in mourning) contains blazing hearths and braziers in all but the hottest weather. This little fire she's kindled is relaxing in a way he hadn't thought to miss until Jane Foster provided it.

The chairs Jane keeps here are long and low, something like very flimsy couches. The material is strange, but sitting on them is comfortably casual, like sitting on one of the tiers of stairs leading down into one of Asgard's feasting halls. How often has Thor sat so, rank and ceremony set aside, his forearms on his knees, curled forward in relaxation with his friends?

He can't decide if it's a comfort or a pain to find these small echoes of home. He wraps one hand around the other wrist and focuses on Jane beside him, dainty and human and full of changeable moods, and on the un-Asgardian fragility of these foldable chairs.

Above them stretch Jane's stars. None of them are Thor's familiar constellations; he learned Midgard's stars once, but long ago, and he has forgotten most of their shapes. He would be in difficulty if asked to navigate by them now.

"I come out here sometimes," Jane is telling him, and the small fire crackling in its brazier before them. "When I can't sleep, or I'm trying to reconcile particle data, or when Darcy's driving me crazy..." She laughs a little, relaxing into the sound of her own voice. "I come up here a lot, actually, now that I think about it." Thor smiles slightly, trying to find his own good humor again on the slipstream of Jane's, but even as he tries she takes a deep breath and turns to him. "I'm really glad you're safe," she tells him seriously.

He's struck all over again by their generosity. Hers, and Erik Selvig's, and young Darcy's. What has he brought them but confusion and trouble? "You've been very kind to me," he says. "And I have been far less grateful than you deserve."

"Well," she grins, "I hit you with my car a couple times, so I think that kind of evens things out."

Thor laughs with her, and finds it easier this time. Jane has a lightness about her, an ease, that gladdens his heart even in these dark times. "Perhaps I had it coming," he points out, light and smiling, and aware of the truth beneath.

Perhaps he earned a great deal more than that.

The silence that falls isn't uncomfortable. But it reminds Thor of what's tucked inside his overshirt. He made sure Jane's notebook was safely secured before all the drinking with Erik, but it still shifted around while he was lugging Erik home. He fishes it out, and hands it over.

Jane's eyes go wide. She nearly snatches it from his hands, holding it up to the firelight as if checking on every speck of its construction, exclaiming her disbelief. Her joy and shock make Thor laugh a little, taking pleasure in her pleasure.

"It was all I could get back," he says, for all of that. Her disbelief says volumes about the worth of Thor's assurances on this world, and the worst of it is that that's justified. She had no true cause to think he would be able to retrieve all her belongings, and indeed he failed to. "I'm sorry it's not as much as I promised."

"No, no, this is great!" Jane beams at him, clutching her notebook in both hands. "This is... I don't have to start from scratch now. Thank you."

She meant it. But her face is slowly falling, in the firelight, from that first astonished joy through a more sober gratitude and down into more concerning emotions: thoughtfulness, and then worry, and then something like the start of pain. Thor watches this, and he can't discern the cause. "What's wrong?"

"SHIELD," she tells the fire, and the honest anger he heard before is mixed now with despair. "Whatever they are -- they're going to do everything in their power to make sure this research never sees the light of day."

"No, Jane." Jane's brave spirit is quailing before the prospect of these dark-suited men, as it did not when they were mere thieves and thugs to her. Thor will never see her again after tomorrow, but he can't bear to watch this: her courage bowed, her truth-seeking undone. He leans closer to her, urgent. If she were one of his old friends, he would touch her arm, clasp her shoulder, show the strength of his conviction with gesture as well as voice, but these humans of today seem to barely touch each other, and he holds back in courtesy. "Listen to me," he says. "You must not give up. You must finish what you've started."

Jane turns red, weary eyes on him. "Why?"

"Because you're right," Thor tells her, with certainty no human on this Earth can match. This is conjecture to them, but Thor is of Asgard, not Earth, and he has seen the Bifrost from within and without and learned the structure of the Nine Worlds from his childhood, and he has seen reflections of these truths in Jane's little notebook of scribbles and clippings and pasted-in pictures. "Here," he says, "look," and he takes the notebook from her hands and pulls the pen from its binding, and flips through to a page he remembers from the long car ride with Erik.

It's a drawing, a rough sketch in simple pen like the four-color one he holds: nine worlds, scattered across the paper, in familiar configuration. "Your ancestors called it magic," he tells her, "and you call it science. Well, I come from a place where they're one and the same thing."

He clicks out her pen -- such a funny little implement -- and starts to sketch simple lines for Yggdrasil superimposed on this world-map of Jane's. The connections, the missing piece of this diagram. He's no artist and no scholar, but he can show her this.

"What is that?" Jane asks, hushed. He's not sure if she truly believes him yet, but he'll tell her what he can, and she'll see. Now, perhaps, or later when she reconciles her data as she so loves to do, and compares it to this.

"My father," he starts, unthinking, and then has to make himself finish the sentence without a change. "--Explained it to me like this." Jane nods, and he hurries gratefully on. He can't bear to think of his father's affection and patient explanations, when Thor was a child and the future seemed bright and simple. "That your world is one of the Nine Realms of the cosmos, linked to each other by the branches of Yggdrasil, the world's tree. Now you see it every day without realizing. The images glimpsed through, ah--" Where was that picture? Here it is. He knows these realms, Muspelheim red and expanding, Jotunheim ice-white; he knows this view from another angle and the Bifrost's gate. "What did you call it? Ah, this Hooble telescope."

"Hubble," Jane corrects, soft and laughing with tears still in her eyes, and he accepts the correction.

He tells her of the different worlds, of how they lie strung along Yggdrasil's branches. It is and isn't a tree, which is a complex matter Thor has always understood little. What's important is the cosmos, and the branches, and the linkage. He names for Jane Foster the Nine Realms, and tells her of Asgard. He tells her all he can of where his knowledge touches her own.

He wants to tell her of his home, too. Of his mother in her garden, in her library, with hands warm on her sons' brows; of Odin his father, stern and wise. Of Loki, before he was burdened with the throne, when that was Thor's destiny and Loki stood beside him as advisor and prankster and beloved brother, his vast knowledge countered by his fondness for cheats and tricks. Of Sif and Volstagg and Fandral and Hogun. Of Asgard's golden halls and warm air.

He can't bear to. It's not for Jane's sake that he holds back; it's for his own. He has lost all this, every piece, every person, and by his own stupidity. If he speaks of them now, he will weep like a child.

So he tells her of Yggdrasil, and of worlds and stars, until he has run out of words she understands and Jane's eyelids are drooping closed. Then he gives her back her little book of knowledge, Jane Foster's own runebook, and she smiles at him sleepily.

Thor's not tired. Not yet. But he feels, for this moment, quiet too, and almost content to be here on this Midgardian rooftop.

He'll leave tomorrow. But tonight, at least, he has friends here.

He's ready to gather Jane up and carry her back to her trailer, but when he asks about returning, she laughs and shakes her head. She sleeps up here often, she says.

Of course, Thor remembers. The blankets she fetched, the ones he thought might be for warmth -- she has a sweater, and the fire, but humans are so thin-blooded in this century -- they must be for sleeping on these chair-beds, whose shape abruptly makes more sense. And Erik Selvig is in her bed. Her quarters are so small; she must truly not have another bed but this.

Well. Thor has no objection.

He fetches Jane her blankets, so she need not force her exhausted body to stand, and she thanks him with another small warm smile. He returns it.

When Jane is asleep, he tucks the blanket more closely around her shoulders, and turns over to stare up at her stars.

He remembers his father telling him of Midgard, of its people, of its stars. Thor never cared overmuch for any part of Odin's tales but the battles. He can't remember the names of Midgard's constellations, but he remembers his father's voice saying them.

Thor doesn't expect to sleep any time soon.