mjolnir_retriever: Thor stuffing half a pancake in his mouth with more enthusiasm than table manners (OM NOM NOM)
Thor, son of Odin ([personal profile] mjolnir_retriever) wrote2012-06-03 07:42 pm

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Thor steps through the door from Milliways, and he finds himself where he expected to be all along: in the bleached-bright sun of a Midgardian desert, surrounded by the dull grey stone of the lot where this hospital's conveyances are stored. Midgard's sun is so different from Asgard's, as if the light itself is stripping color from the world.

He strides out across the square. No need for skulking now. He'll blend in best by looking confident, and in any case he's outside the hospital now, and will soon be beyond its demesnes. Soon he can--


Thor reflects dazedly, from his newly prone position, that these rumbling machines move backward without warning.

"I'm so sorry!" cries a half-familiar voice. "I swear I'm not doing this on purpose!" There are people bending over him. He shoves himself up, thinking for a moment to fight his way free -- but they're not offering any threat, and he recognizes these faces now. Two fair maidens, one of whom is Darcy from Milliways, who bore the weapon that first struck him down. And an old man with the air of a scholar. The maiden next to Darcy, at least, speaks of swearing truth, which marks her more a person of honor than any 'doctor' he's met so far.

"Who are you?" he demands.

The maiden crouching next to him winces. "Yeah, um, you know what?" She casts a quick, worried glance back at the hospital. "I think we'd better answer that in the van."

"Very well." Thor rises. Darcy and the old scholar trade looks, and scramble to follow.

They explain in the van, a rattling box of a contraption that makes acceptable speed for a lazy day's travel. Thor doubts it would be battle-worthy, but perhaps it could be pushed to true speed. Perhaps not, though. Midgard's technology has come far since last he visited, but its knowledge is yet limited.

Jane Foster, the maiden who seems both the friendliest and the most worried about him, introduces herself. "I'm a scientist," she says. "An astrophysicist. Right now I'm studying Einstein-Rosen bridges, like the one that accompanied that atmospheric disturbance last night...?"

She waits for an answer. Thor watches the unfamiliar terrain roll by, flat and sere, and does not give her one. She sighs. "Anyway, well, this is Erik Selvig. Dr. Erik Selvig, my mentor." A scholar, as Thor had thought. Erik nods to him, not unfriendly but wary. "And this is Darcy. My assistant."

"Yo," says Darcy from the front seat, and gives him a little backwards wave. She insisted on driving, on the grounds that Jane had hit Thor twice ("legally your fault! Again!") and that Jane was going to "go all science-y and question him and probably steer off the road, don't argue, you know I'm right." A strange maiden, but a friendly one. Thor smiles back.

Thor can't remember if he spoke his name in last night's anger and shame. In Milliways, Darcy knew his name, but she said she was from his future; there was recognition in her gaze, deeper than this Darcy's bemused amiability.

Either way, it's polite to introduce himself in turn. "I am Thor," he says.

Odinson still doesn't feel appropriate, for all that it will never be untrue. He is no prince right now, in bare feet and borrowed scrubs, unarmed and unarmored, in disgrace. To proclaim his father's name is to call upon Odin's house and Odin's banner, and Thor feels (in an awkward, uncomfortable way he doesn't want to think about) that he shouldn't in propriety do that right now.

They don't seem surprised, or awed. Perhaps it's the lack of the Odinson, or perhaps just Thor's current limitations. Erik Selvig's face holds the same dubious look Loki's often does, when he doesn't want to speak his doubts. The others just nod.

They take him to a place with huge windows looking out over a flat desert vista. The architecture here is just Asgardian enough to be familiar, and yet still boxy and Midgardian. The place where they do their work, Jane says. "Well, I mostly don't gather my data here, but here's where we work with it and see what results we get. Um. Let me... try to find you some better clothes."

In the bathroom, Thor strips off the flimsy blue things they call 'scrubs' for some reason, and trades them for a pair of black trousers Jane Foster calls 'jeans.' He adds a dark blue shirt, once Jane peels off a tag with someone else's name. (An ex, she says, but Thor doesn't really care whose. It's not proper for a prince to wear another's name branded across his belongings, as if he belonged to another master.)

He requires sustenance. Even after Milliways, this mortal form grows weak swiftly. Erik and Darcy trade another one of those looks, but they find for him a box of thin pastries called Pop-Tarts. They're delicious, but tiny. When the box is empty and his stomach rumbles its hunger again, they stare at him -- apparently Midgardians still have tiny appetites to match their small frames -- but they give him boots and a brown jacket against the cold and take him across the street to a feast-hall belonging to a lady Isabella.

They ask him questions, too: where he came from, how he got inside the cloud, what that storm was and the meaning of the patterns it left on the ground. Thor doesn't answer them, for all Jane's persistence. It would take too much explanation for a Midgardian, even a clever Midgardian scientist, to understand the nature of the Bifrost, and he has no proof of what he is. These Midgardians are friendly, but they think him human and perhaps mad. They want his answers, but their silence is all doubt and indulgence.

Besides, there are some matters Thor doesn't want to revisit for a curious audience who knows nothing of Asgard. Milliways was enough, and there he gave less detail than Jane would demand. She is as curious as Loki, but where Loki is oblique and wry, Jane is as forthright as Sif.

At the feast-hall -- a 'diner', they call it, as if the building itself eats too -- the lady Izzy gives him eggs and fluffy thick syrup-drenched cakes and a dark, bitter drink. It's delicious. But when Thor shows his appreciation and requests another, the humans act as if he'd insulted his host to her face. "No more smashing!" snaps Jane, after she's hastily scooped up the largest shards of the mug. Who makes dishes out of something so breakable, anyway?

But he gives his word. If this is the custom of the realm, so be it.

Perhaps it is only the custom of this hall, or this corner of the realm. At Milliways, Darcy too acknowledged it a strange custom, worth warning a newcomer of. But the matter is unimportant.

Two more humans enter. Regular visitors, from the way they casually greet the lady Izzy. Thor listens to their conversation with half an ear, though Jane and Erik are attentive. They speak of satellites crashing, and a festival out in the desert. His pancakes command more of his attention.

"Oh my god, this is going on Facebook. Smile!" Darcy commands him, laughing and holding up a small device, and he smiles cheerfully until it clicks. Midgard is strange, but its food is delicious and its people are kind. And he has food in his belly and clothing of a reasonable weight and sturdiness again, both of which to a long way towards bringing a man comfort.

"I don't know anything about satellites," one of the men is saying thoughtfully, "but it was heavy. Nobody could lift it."

This is what Thor has been half-listening for. He finishes the last bite of his pancakes (still delicious!) and rises, to startled looks from his table-mates, as the men laugh and turn back to their own food.

Thor clasps the man's shoulder, surprising him. "Which way?"

The man stares up at him for a moment, then shrugs a little and gestures. "'Bout, uh, fifty miles west of here."

It will serve. Thor nods, and turns away.

"But I wouldn't waste my time!" the other man calls after him. "It looked like the whole army was coming when we left."

An army could not keep him from Mjolnir. An army could not stand before Thor with Mjolnir in his hand. Thor steps out into the thin sunlight beyond Isabella's diner, heading west.

The human cars and trucks screech and swerve around him, but Thor is unconcerned. They move around him, do they not? He strides down the middle of this dusty human road as if it were one of Asgard's gleaming thoroughfares, and the cars make way before him.

Jane catches up to him at the end of the block. "Where are you going?" she demands.

"Fifty miles west of here," says Thor, patiently. Isn't it obvious?


"To get what belongs to me."

"Oh, so you own a satellite now?" Jane scoffs. She thinks him mad, he knows. Darcy and Erik, hurrying towards them both, think the same.

"It's not what they say it is," he explains.

"Well, whatever it is, the government seems to think it's theirs," Jane informs him, as if this is a compelling argument. "So... you just intend to go in there and take it?"

Thor halts, the better to converse. Jane is tiny and can't match his strides without jogging. "Yes," he says, honest and unruffled, and she gapes at him. Multiple protests, he thinks, are doing battle behind her eyes. Thor considers the time it will take this mortal form of his to walk fifty miles without a steed, and he says, "If you take me there now, I'll tell you everything you wish to know."

It derails Jane, as he'd guessed. But he would not have made the offer were it not sincere. "Everything?" she says.

"Yes," he assures her. "All the answers you seek will be yours, once I have reclaimed Mjolnir."

"Mew-mew?" Darcy chimes in, with interest, and Thor tries not to wince at the butchering of his hammer's honored name. "What's Mew-mew?"

Erik, cool-eyed and wary, draws Jane aside. They have a hushed, urgent conference. The end of it is that Jane says, "I'm sorry, but I can't take you."

Thor regrets that, but without much surprise. "Then this is where we say goodbye." He kisses Jane's hand, because she has been kind, and she is truly lovely. She giggles and thanks him and giggles more, all her scholar's self-possession dropped away, and he smiles down at her. She is lovely; he's sorry their roads are parting so soon.

"Jane Foster," he says, and turns to include the others. "Erik Selvig. Darcy. Farewell." He bows to them, slight and formal, in the manner of a prince, and they return the courtesy -- awkward and unpracticed, perhaps, but nonetheless polite, which makes awkwardness no shame. Darcy looks charmed; Erik, doubtful still.

Thor watches them leave, for a moment. Then he sets out again upon the road to Mjolnir.

He passes square dull buildings, flat lots, more cars that squawk and veer around him. He has no guide but west, but it doesn't concern him. He sets the morning sun to his back, and walks on.

Eventually he comes to a collection of buildings around a central parking lot -- shops. One of them is named Pet Palace, by large letters above its door. A place where animals are kept.

Good. This will hasten his journey considerably.

He enters. "I need a horse!" he calls to the thin young shopkeep, whose poor clothes and saturnine air mark him as perhaps one step above a servant.

The shopkeep just stares. "We don't have horses," he says after a moment, in a slow blank voice that means either he's slow-minded as well as low of status, or he believes Thor is. "Just dogs, cats, birds..."

Midgard's posthouses are very strange. "Then give me one of those large enough to ride," Thor commands.

Whatever reply the shopkeep might have made (and he is, Thor fears, probably slow) never comes, because a car honks outside, and then Jane's voice yells, "Hey!" He turns to see her leaning out the window of her boxy van. "You still need a lift?"

He doesn't know what made her change her mind, but he's glad of it. Jane Foster, even if she doubts his sanity, is far better company than any steed. He's smiling again, bright and glad, as he opens the van's door.