It's Darcy who decides to stay.
"I met this guy," she says as Jane boggles at her. "Name's Ian. Took me like three weeks to remember that, which made it kind of weird in bed—"
"I didn't need to know that."
"—but I thought maybe I'd stick around for the summer. Get some milage out of him. And I've totally mastered this driving in London thing, anyway, so it would be kind of a shame to waste it."
"Mastered? You keep running over curbs."
"Better than running over people." Darcy takes a break from stacking textbooks to give Jane a quick hug. "If you don't have a new roomie by the time I get back," she tells her, "send me a text. You keep things interesting."
That's one way of putting it.
She spends her last night in the country with Thor.
Jane's never had goodbye sex before. It's a concept that doesn't seem like a particularly good idea in principle. But then, she's never had someone to say goodbye to, so what does she know?
And, like everything else, Thor's great at it.
"Are you mad at me?" she can't help but ask. They've naked and have the covers thrown off and the windows open, but Jane's still covered in sweat and trying to catch her breath. She's going to miss this. She's going to miss him. So much.
"Of course not."
"There's no of course not about it. Everything that's happened — how things are right now — and I'm just… leaving. It's selfish. You have every right to be angry."
Thor brings her hand to his mouth and kisses her palm. "I knew it was a long shot," he says. "And what good could result if you stayed and regretted the decision? I'd be as unhappy as you."
Jane can only shake her head. "You're too good to be real, you know."
"It's your doing, Jane. And I will always be grateful for it."
Jane's still not sure she believes that. However Thor used to be — and she still can't imagine he was as bad as everyone says — it sounds an awful lot like he started rethinking things well before she ever came along.
Sounds like it happened right around the time Loki left, actually.
She wonders if either of them are ever going to realize it.
"And besides," Thor continues, "I'll not be alone. I have friends… and family."
True. And Jane's still not sure how she feels about that. She thinks it's a good thing. Depending.
She hasn't seen Loki since the funeral. He didn't turn up for the final exam.
This is dangerous territory, but… "Will you tell your brother goodbye for me?"
"Have you not heard from him?"
Thor plays with Jane's fingers for a moment before saying: "He is in love with you."
Maybe, somewhat, in a weird, unbalanced, Loki kind of way is the most accurate response to that. But what she replies is: "I know."
"Did you…" Thor takes a deep breath, then looks at her with those frighteningly honest blue eyes. "Were you aware of how he felt before the party?"
Oh, such dangerous territory. "Yes," she whispers.
Honest, earnest blue eyes. "How much is there to this story that I haven't heard?"
She could tell him.
But she won't.
Jane cups his cheek and looks him straight in the eye. "There's nothing else," she tells him. "I swear."
And never, in all the years to come, in all that comes to pass, does she doubt she did the right thing.
Before she leaves in the morning, she tells Thor how much she'll miss him. He tells her he hopes their paths will cross again. She winds up running late because they make love one last time in the back of his car.
Heathrow is a really bad place to be behind schedule.
Especially when one is trying to catch an international flight.
Especially when one spends twenty minutes trying to find the right security line.
Especially when one spots a person one really, really wants to talk to — sort of — lounging against a wall next to said security line like he doesn't have a care in the world.
Jane checks her watch, weighs her options, recognizes it would be incredibly stupid to leave the line just as she's about to make it to the metal detector, and ducks under the rope anyway.
"Just a minute," she tells the guard, who frowns at her.
"You'll have to go to the back of the queue."
"Yeah, I know."
Loki looks completely unrepentant as Jane makes her way through the crowd towards him, getting hit in the shins by luggage more than once. "You really had to wait until now?"
"I've been here for ages."
"Then why didn't I see you?"
"I grew bored, so I went to get a pastry. You're the one who's late." Loki looks her up and down, a smirk curling the side of his mouth. "I see my brother was very thorough in his farewell."
Jane glances down at herself. "Oh, God, is it that obvious?"
"Only to me."
"I'm serious, Loki, I'm about to spend eight hours on a plane, and if I smell or something—"
"There's nothing that would be noticed by anyone who hasn't had you in the past. So unless you've been even busier than I realized and happen to be sharing the flight with another man — or woman — that you've been—"
She smacks him.
His smirk is now positively wicked. "There. I knew there was some reason I hovered around a security station for three hours."
"There is something so incredibly wrong with you."
Jane frowns. "Excuse me?"
"Don't go." Loki says it like he's not doing anything more than suggesting which beer she should pick at whatever pub they're studying at for the night. "Stay."
"I—" What? "I already said no."
"You said no to Thor, after I spent a great deal of effort manipulating him into making the request on my behalf and believing it was his own idea. There are occasionally merits to the more direct approach. Stay."
"Oh, my God, you pick the worst times for these things."
"Possibly. Stay." His smug, disinterested expression hasn't changed in the slightest, but something flickers behind his eyes. "I would appreciate it if you did."
For half a second — just half of one — she considers…
…before shaking her head. "No, Loki." She says it as gently as possible. "No."
There is a very long pause.
And then — and then — that familiar grin flashes into place. Yes, I am an unrepentant liar, that will never change, and I dare you to stop me. "Damn. I see I really will have to find an entirely new method by which to torment my brother. Have you no consideration? Nothing else will ever measure up."
Oh, for the love of— "You are the most awful person in the entire world," she snaps. "And if you don't lay off of Thor I will come back here and I will kick your ass."
"You do realize what an incentive you've just provided me."
"Then I'll send Darcy after you. I'm not kidding, Loki. At all. You don't have to be a completely different person, but you don't have to be cruel, either. And your mom wouldn't want you to fight."
He shrugs. "She wouldn't exactly be shocked," he says, but there's a tinge of concession in his tone.
That's about the best she's going to get. And she knows it.
After a moment of hesitation, Jane stands on her tip toes and quickly kisses him on the cheek. "Look after yourself," she says awkwardly. "Or let Thor look after you, or… just be looked after, all right?"
"Well, heaven knows I wouldn't want Jane Foster to lose sleep over my well-being."
"Thank you. Because I would."
He blinks at her.
There's really nothing else left to say. She heads back towards the security line — she is seriously cutting it close with this flight — and doesn't look to see if he's gone. She doesn't want to know.
Then she hears him curse — loudly — and call her name.
Oh, come on. "I'm going home, Loki," she says exasperatedly, turning around, "and so should you—"
He's right there. Holding her passport in front of her nose.
She reaches into her purse instinctively.
He stole her passport.
He stole her passport.
"You stole my passport!"
"Yes, but I'm giving it back."
"But you stole it!"
"And I'm giving it back."
"Do you have any idea what would have happened if I—"
"Of course I do, which would have been the point, and is also why I'm giving it back. This is a first. You should feel very special."
Jane snatches her passport from his hand. "I hate you," she tells him.
He smiles. "Would you believe me," he says, "if I said I've decided I'd rather you didn't?"
"I don't know," she tells him. "You're incapable of sincerity, Loki. I'm not sure you even know what the truth is."
He leans in. Close. For a moment she thinks he's going return her kiss on the cheek, but instead he brings his lips close to her ear. And he whispers: "Until we met at the restaurant, I really, truly, honestly had no idea you were with Thor."
When he pulls back she can only stare at him. "I can't tell if you're lying or not," she says.
"And I suppose you'll just have to live with that, won't you?"
Then he's gone.
When she shows her passport to security, she sees that written across the stamp — the very first stamp she's ever had, too — is a phone number. And below that, in spiderweb handwriting: In case you're defeated by yet another class.
She has to run to catch her plane.
It's not until after takeoff, when she pulls out the first of her three Sudoku books bought especially to keep her busy on the trans-Atlantic flight, that she discovers every single one of her pencils are gone.
When she gets home she checks her email. She passed the class.
And Jane Foster, extremely jet-lagged future astrophysicist, stargazes until dawn.
A/N: So… this happened. I never expected this DRABBLE to get much of a response, so I'm greatly humbled by those who stuck with it to the end, angst and indecision and drabble-style and all. Thanks, guys.