IMPORTANT: ! READ PLEASE!
if you have not read the edited version of the previous chapter, you will be confused by certain aspects of this one.
I read over the timeline of Thor I once more before typing up the entirety of this chapter, and in doing so realized that I had mixed two different occasions in my head, causing a lapse in what could happen canonically in conjunction to where I want the storyline to head.
That being said, I have removed Thor from the previous chapter, making it so that he is with the SHIELD agents in the desert, being held by them after he attempts to take back his hammer, and I have replaced him with Erik Selvig as he and Jane plot how to get Thor back. If this causes any confusion, feel free to google the thor timeline yourself, watch the movie, PM me, or review this story. Thank you!
Hela was looking at her with an odd sort of fascination as she finished explaining why, exactly, she hadn't been able to explain to Jane everything she had wanted to.
"I didn't expect such an...intense..." Hav paused to mull over her word choice, taking a bite of the golden apple held in her fingers, "intense reaction. I expected, of course, some sort of indignation- from my information, though. Not from-"
She waved her free hand frustratedly in the air in front of her face, then sighed and covered her face, her eyes tired. "Apparently," she continued, "SHIELD took all of her research - collected over the past few years- because of Thor's appearance. I didn't know that, though- did you?"
Hela shrugged, unbothered. "I did. However, I thought it wisest to appear as SHIELD, because no other organization has their fingers so deep in matters similar to Thor's." She paused. "I did not think she would respond as she did. My apologies."
Hav stared at her for a moment. "Why on earth couldn't I have just claimed association with Thor? He remembers me- couldn't I have just explained everything and backed it up with an 'I know that hunk you've been hanging out with?"
Hela rolled her eyes, setting her skelatal hand on her exposed jawbone. "No. Jane already thinks he's insane - she's tolerant of the idea of 'other worlds,' more so, dare I say, than many of you Midgardians - but still, I do not believe she is tolerant enough to take your word seriously with only Thor's approval to back it. She would take it in to consideration, perhaps, but until she gives Thor more credibility, she will not give anyone associated with him too much of a benefit."
Hav dragged her hand off of her face, taking a last bite of her apple and wiping her hands off on the sides of her skirt, deigning not to respond and instead stare at her surroundings.
It was around four o'clock in the morning, and the two of them were situated on the top floor of the Empire State building, a floor past the main observation balcony. Both sat crosslegged, Hela with more dignity. New York was sprawled out beneath them, the smell of smog and cigarette smoke layered into the sounds of cars and trains and the breath of the wind around them.
"What're we going to do about Jane, then?" asked Hav after a moment of quiet contemplation.
"Ideally, go back under a glamour." Hela replied. "Jane should be made to understand the severity and weight of the situation. Loki has been left alone without his brother to watch him for too long already. He's..." Hela paused. "Loki has always had an ulterior motive. Whatever's happening in Asgard at this moment - I..." she trailed off. " I do not believe that the interruption of the coronation was an accident, for example."
Hav frowned, shifting to better face Hela. "You don't... in what way?"
"Frost Giants. They are, and have always been, at odds with Asgard- but they would not be so rash as to invade Asgard, a realm which they have been made to tremble before, on its coronation day - a day of surpassing joy, unity, and patriotism. They would not do something so unthinking without help from the inside, an assurance of something worth any suffering that they would endure- and also an assurance that their raiding would yield the object of their desires."
Hav was silent again. "You think that Loki let the Frost Giants into his own brother's coronation? For what purpose? What could he accomplish besides the destruction of his home?"
Hela bit the skin of her lip. "Thor has always been too rash, headstrong, and selfish, in Loki's eyes, to truly be a good king. I believe that Loki let the Frost Giants in so that... well. Thor's coronation would be disturbed, of course." She squinted her eyes off to the distant city horizon, eyes glazing over with regret.
"Later that coronation day, Thor rushed off to Jotunheim to seek war and revenge against the Frost Giants for their invasion. Instead of emerging victorious, he shattered any illusion of peaceful ties that might have been held between the two realms, and at the same time killed many Frost Giants unecessarily, also destroying a great portion of their terrain." Hela stretched one arm behind her head, looking contemplative.
"The Allfather then cast him out, seeing that he truly was too headstrong to be a king." Hav finished, running a hand roughly through her curls.
"Yes." Hela confirmed. "And this was all part of Loki's plan - of this, I am sure. He is creative and cunning. He has enough forethought to plan things out perfectly decades in advance and have them play out in his fortune. I do not want to know what he is scheming currently, but I know it can be nothing good."
She looked to the skies. "And though it may be selfish of me, seeing as he has not done good by many, especially lately... I do not want to see my father come to harm when his plots inevitably fail. And for that, I need Thor and Jane to be as informed as possible in order to best deal and make the best of current circumstances."
Hav stared at her for a moment, then cast about for another apple in the bag she had slung over her shoulder, rubbing it on the chest of her dress before taking a bite, never breaking eye contact with Hela. For a few minutes, the only sounds were the crunching of apple and the car alarm going off a few blocks away from the Empire State Building.
"I see why you want Jane to know what's happening. Er, at least, I understand for the most part. But I don't think Jane will react well to any continued, er, advances, towards her- even underneath a glamour. I think we've - well, I've - busted that one."
"'Tis not your fault." Hela rebutted fairly. "Neither of us knew how averse Jane would be to SHIELD." She stood up, assimilating around herself a glamour. "I must confess, I do not know exactly how we should proceed. Jane and Erik have headed to where Thor is currently being held by SHIELD-"
Hav glanced up at her. "Why is he being held, again?" she asked.
"He tried to go after his hammer after staying momentarily with Jane. He was not able to lift it, and was captured by the SHIELD agents who have set up camp around it."
Hav's eyebrows raised. "He...tried to break into SHIELD's camp? As a mortal?"
Hela snorted, but the sound held no real humor. "He is still a god, Lifling. He is in no way weak, but he stood no chance against the sheer number of such a concentrated and specialized task force."
Hav considered this thoughtfully. "And Erik and Jane, I suppose, are going to try and get him out of there?"
"That is what they were planning when you arrived at Jane's house, yes." Hela's tone was slightly distant. "While you were at her house, I went looking for Thor, and through the gossip of several SHIELD agents near him, I managed to discover a good portion of his situation."
She frowned slightly, her small mouth tugging down on its side. "I have no doubt that there will be some unforeseen circumstances that we will need to know of soon, but I think that Thor is currently safe, although perhaps he is in downcast spirits, due to his inability to wield his hammer."
Hela looked out to the horizon, the lights of the city casting odd shadows around her face. "However, for tonight, I believe it best that you should get some sleep. I will keep you informed of any situations that arise." She looked almost ready to disappear, but then she made eye contact with Hav. Her voice turned softer. "Goodnight, Hav. May the inhabitants of each of the nine realms look favorably upon your rest tonight." Her skirts rustled as she vanished, leaving Hav alone.
Unfolding her legs and pushing herself to her feet, Hav gazed out over the city, pushing what was left of her second apple into her mouth before she spun in place and left with the quiet crack of apparation.
Light fluttered down onto the white sheets, reflecting off the wooden flooring and casting a soft morning glow into a silent room. On the bed lay Hav, her hair sprawled around her sleeping face in halphazard curls, her hands cast above her head and curled into stray tendrils. Although she looked peaceful at first glance, any further observation would lend to the observer the fact that she was not, in fact, peaceful, even while she slept.
Her legs were too tangled in her sheets, the comforter cast to the ground, and an expression of fear traced her face. Her left leg, knotted in sheets, was half fallen off the bed, and it jerked sporadically, as if she was running.
It was silent for a few minutes, but there was no warning before the silence was broken by a crying sob. Hav flung herself into an upright seated position on the bed, her eyes glazed over with terror. She tried to pull herself out of bed, but the sheets around her legs impeded her progress, and she was left splayed across the floor, curls lingering across her nose and neck, eyes adapting to the patch of sunshine she had fallen into.
It took a few moments for her breathing to even, but she adapted quickly, face shifting from fright into exhaustion and blankness in less than twenty seconds.
She was no stranger to them - she had seen enough death and destruction for over a thousand lifetimes - but still, the blank faces of those she had loved most haunted her wherever she seemed to go, their memories etched into her retinas with a precision scalpel.
Every time she closed her eyes, they would stare back at her, gazes flat. The dead did not accuse, but they found no need for attachment, either, having passed on from such things into a realm of eternal continuity, and so while her friends' dead faces did not blame her, they offered no solace, instead fixing her with unrecognizing, unfriendly, unconcerned stares.
Memories were not often her friend. Too many memories of hers were tainted by loss, by the knowledge that she couldn't keep the people who would slip through her fingers.
Her decision to leave Sirius still nagged at her, her inner tormentor speaking to her in derisive tones, telling her what a coward she was, to not try and enjoy the limited time she had with him.
Merlin. She didn't know. Blowing her hair out of her face, she slowly pulled herself into a sitting position, then leaned against the side of the bed, facing the window and looking out onto the hotel parking lot, still motionless in the early morning light.
She had adapted. She had adapted, in the decades she had spent away from him, to the lack of his presence. His presence, which she had in her teenage years grown so accustomed to, had become somewhat of a healed over scar the longer that she was left without him. It was something that she knew was there, but something that no longer stabbed her side with each breath, lingering behind each footstep she took. And if she stayed too long near him, it had the capacity to reopen when he -inevitably -would -
She choked, a lump bubbling up in the bottom of her throat.
He was older now, if only slightly, but it was still visible. She supposed she should be thankful that time passed differently in the two universes, but some evil, evil part of her struggled with her in her subconscious, almost wanting Sirius to have died before she ever got here. To have passed on before she could come, so that she wouldn't have to see him die before her eyes. Why? Because she was selfish.
Hav hiccuped, her eyes stinging. She didn't want to grow as attached to Sirius as she had been before. Decades of horrible scenarios, the death of everyone she held dear, and compulsory paranoia were too far ingrained into her way of life that she automatically pushed anyone away that could hurt her.
And Merlin. If she grew attached to Sirius, there was nothing she would stop at to keep him. She would part tides for him, grasp the moon in both hands, stop the flow of time and keep him suspended in infinite limbo, unnattached from the gyroscope of humanity, spinning freely. All for the sake of her own love, her own fear that she'd lose someone that she knew she would love with every fiery ember of the heart she thought she'd lost.
Sirius could hurt her. He was tangled so far into her heart that if he managed to touch it again as he had before, it would ignite, beating only for him. Her godfather.
She wanted to spend time with him, but it was dangerous. She could not risk breaking the balance of life and death because of her own foolish, selfish sentiment. Watching him age from a distance was something she could barely handle.
Sometimes, when she saw him or made him laugh, her fingers would twitch, the power underneath her skin sparking, calling to her, telling her that it would be almost easy to seperate the age from his body, so easy to staple the soul into place, so easy to let the world burn if only she could be with the last person she could truly call family.
And then she realized that she was selfish, weak, foolish, and should never have been trusted with the power that came with being the Master of Death.
She did not trust herself to be too near to him, and this, she argued with herself, was a wise choice. It wasn't cowardice.
Her subconscious disagreed.
Swallowing back her tears, Hav pushed away the last images of empty and glistening eyes, focussing on untangling herself from the blankets she had twisted herself into.
Pulling her right leg out and wriggling to free the other, she stood, pulling her hair into a knot with the band around her wrist. She approached the half - kitchenette, opening the main cupboard and pulling out the ground coffee that sat in a jar, pouring a decent amount into the coffee machine, adding water, and pressing the power button.
She was leaning back on the granite slab that counted as a counter when Hela appeared, looking uncharacteristically disheveled. Hav flinched at her sudden appearance, but her expression shifted as she took in the appearance of Lady Death.
Dread curdled in Hav's stomach as she took in Hela's eyes, which were normally stoic or sparking with amusement. They were glittering with urgency.
"It's Loki." breathed Hela. "I need your help. Now."
Hav's brow furrowed in alarmed confusion. "Is he - are you alright -"
"No." refuted Hela. "He appeared to Thor last afternoon, and he reported that Odin Allfather was- that he had passed on to the halls of Valhalla."
Hav's eyes widened. "The Allfather- he's - the Allfather is dead?"
Hela wrung her skeleton of a hand, the other worrying the ends of her hair. "Do not ask me, do not ask me, I do not know!" She looked almost agonized. "If it is true that he is gone, it is much too dangerous for me to venture up to Asgard. With the death of a king comes much additional wariness and additional security, nomatter the cause of death. If Loki lied- and I know he lies, but this seems too much, even for him - I cannot check either, for to venture into Asgard becomes more dangerous each time."
Although her declaration was firm in its wording, her tone of voice shifted, and the end of her sentence trailed off as she seemed to deliberate. It was only moments later that her expression hardened into resolve, and Hav's stomach plummeted from where it had lodged into her throat all the way down to her feet.
"No, that's - you're crazy if you think I'm going to let you go to - if I think it's smart to-" Hav ran a hand through her hair. "You can't go up to Asgard to check... you just said it yourself," she slammed both hands on the granite behind her with a dull thud, breathing in through her nose, "that's... that's suicide."
There was silence. "I have to know." declared Hela firmly. "I have to know- if Loki is telling the truth, I need to be able to try and help Thor return to Asgard as soon as possible- Loki cannot be left alone with his grief. Odin and Loki have never been especially close, but the death of a father is never easy, and Loki has never dealt particularly well with intense emotions."
Hav stared at her. "And if Loki is lying?"
"If Loki is lying," stated Hela, casting her eyes away from Hav's, "Thor needs to be made aware, and the Queen must know of Loki's betrayal. And then Loki himself must be dealt with, for if he tells a lie so cursed, he must have a motive. And his motive will not be pure." Her face had settled from urgency into grim determination.
Hav couldn't stand for this. She couldn't stand that Hela, though she was ancient, seemed to have such an eagerness to revert to the forethought of someone much younger. "And what could happen to you, Hela?" asked Hav, throwing a hand into the mess of hair situated precariously on the top of her head.
Hela seemed to almost scoff, eyes burning with determination and power. "The Allfather may control the nine realms, but no one can control Death."
Hav stared at her for a moment.
"So... your plan is to..." Hav trailed off, blinking hard a couple of times and trying to focus on summarizing Hela's plan into a format that made any sort of sense. "What? Head up to Asgard, knock on the door of the Great Kahuna, and what? Ask for an audience with his body, whether it be sleeping or dead?"
Hela looked scandalized at both Hav's choice of words and the name 'Great Kahuna,' though she deigned not to comment on either, instead shifting her body so that it was angled away from Hav and instead faced the coffee machine, which dripped steadily into its pot.
"No. I will be my most careful, and endeavor to remain invisible. I am not as skilled in seidr as Loki or yourself, but I can evade the eyes of Heimdall to a large extent. It should not be too complicated."
"And if you're captured?" Hav asked flatly, edging past Hela and to the coffee machine, which beeped loudly in protest as she pulled the pot out and poured a very large mug of coffee before replacing the pot and pulling the purple mug close to her chest.
"I know not. Nothing could truly hold me - Death is omnipresent in all living things (and wasn't that a lovely image, thought Hav, considering for a moment her earlier thoughts before shoving them away once more) and would not be delayed by my own captivity." Hela paused. "Eventually, I would be let free. Although the Allfather threatens to execute me on an almost obsessive basis, he could not truly execute me. I would only be reborn in the body of another, at worst." She shrugged, an odd gesture coming from one of the greatest forces in the universe.
"Most likely, if the Allfather tried his hand at killing Death, it wouldn't work. One of the main reasons I have actually stayed out of Asgard thus far is truly Loki- my presence and disregard for the Allfather's rules would ultimately only hurt him, which is something that I have not wanted, but Loki is truly... I do not know what has become of who he used to be."
Hav took a sip of her coffee, eyes boring into Hela with an unfocused brightness. "If you're set on it."
Hela seemed to hesitate one last time. "I believe I am."
Hav set down her coffee, letting it remain mostly untouched. "Then you'll let me come."
a/n: thank you so much for the reviews! i tried in this chapter to show a little bit why SHIELD was the alias Hav used, why she couldn't have claimed association with thor, and why she abandoned sirius (which i will still be fleshing out/elaborating on if it still brings up questions, not to worry)
i'm sorry if the last few chapters have caused confusion to anyone- I've been having trouble focusing as I reread them and i've missed a few things (last chapter had many odd linebreaks that had somehow been formatted into my writing, though I have no recollection of doing so, and they ruined much of the flow)
I will try my best to answer any questions you pose, but do know that some things are left unclear for the sake of Plot (tm)
Regardless, hearing from you all makes my day in so many ways - a guest told me that they had stayed up all night rereading my story and I'm so incredibly flattered that you guys take time to read this.
drop a review if you like! i love you!