First, my excuse. Well, I almost died, I've been in and out of the hospital, and I've got heart and lung disease. So I haven't gotten much writing done for quite a while. It's taken all my time and energy to deal with it. [Actually, I did die twice, but I was resuscitated. No trips to the spirit realm or anything of the sort. I was just gone for a bit. Just in case you're curious about it.]
The good news is that I'm stable now, and looking good. I'm also not allowed to have a job anymore and I'm stuck on disability for the foreseeable future. Maybe someday I can work again, but for right now, I'm stuck. I don't really have anymore free time than I did with a job. I'm at the doctor's a lot, and I've moved to Gainesville because that's where Shands at UF is. Occasionally I have to spend a week or so at the hospital because of procedures I need, but it's not that bad.
At first, the doctors said I definitely needed a heart and lung transplant. However, thanks to modern medicine and awesome new drugs, I may or may not need one. No one is sure at this point and my heart may be repairable. That may extend to my lungs as well, but then again, I may have to get them replaced even if my heart is fixed.
I'll probably be around for a while. Like I said, it took some doing, but I'm stable and relatively...well, not healthy, but I'm not in danger of dying anytime soon. Well, no more than a mild danger anyway. I'm kind of disabled now, can't do much beyond walking around. I'm not housebound or on oxygen, but I'm not going to be running or jogging much in the near future.
I play a lot of video games, but I've recently found time to start writing again, and see no reason that won't continue for a while yet. So, I'm back, though I might vanish again for a little while every now and then due to medical issues, it won't be for near as long as this last hiatus though.
Anyway, enough of my problems. I'm fine, really. Better than I should be considering. I'm getting better and better, though I'll never be 100% again for sure. I'll probably be around for a while the way things are looking.
Raindrops keep fallin' on my head...
Tony was sitting at a bar with a drink between his fingers. It was a high class place with stupidly marked up prices, frequented by the wealthy who worked in the financial sector. He was there because his office was nearby, and had been taken over by his wife, and the two women who he had until recently lived with. They had gotten together and emptied half of a very well stocked bar. While that might have worked to his advantage if they'd only gone through say, a quarter of it, he didn't want to be associated with it on any level that night as it was sure to end badly. He made a mental note to make sure someone would clean up the bathroom later. Kei would be miserable the next day, and as a result, so would he. When he had left, the trio had pulled out a Karaokee machine and where using the big screen television and speaker system to run it. It was more than he could take.
Everyone in the bar knew him, and he didn't have any trouble ordering a drink. He'd been in there a few times before, and had never gotten drunk. He usually bought one, sat there and enjoyed the solitude for a while, and left. He didn't mind muttering about business in vague terms with the others that sometimes approached him at the bar. They seemed to want to be seen talking to him more than wanting an actual conversation. He didn't care and sighed as he swirled his bourbon around in his glass. "Yeah. I'm pathetic. Not sure how I've managed that, but it's true. I've got no spine, and I'm still wearing a damn mask." Tony Stark was as much a mask as Spiderman's hood. "Who the hell am I?" He snorted and took another drink. "To hell with who, what the fuck am I?" He was becoming more and more doubtful he could really call himself human.
"Funny you should ask that," commented a familiar voice.
"Chiba. Didn't expect to find you in a place like this," commented Tony. He stayed relaxed and looked down at his drink.
"I'm not so poor I can't afford a luxury like this place on occasion. I'm on a budget, but doing well enough. My family wasn't running a corporation, but I'm able to pay my own way through college. It's not Todai, but it's not cheap either." Mamoru didn't look at him for obvious reasons. His walking cane was sitting next to the bar against the counter. "At least I'm old enough to be in here. What are you, fourteen? Drinking already?"
"I know my limits. I really just came here to get away from a disaster in the making at my office." He chuckled with a bit of darkness in his tone. "Ducking my responsibilities and all that..."
Mamoru froze up and cringed. "I suppose you've been waiting centuries to say that to me."
"No. I wanted to put my fist through your chest, rip out your still beating heart, and hold it over my head while you died." Tony took a few gulps of his drink. "Never had much room for dialogue in my personal fantasies about what I wanted to do to you."
"You didn't understand..." grumbled the older boy.
"No. I did understand. Do you realize what your star crossed love opened the gate to? It was forbidden for reasons beyond causing the two of you suffering. Your planet was on the brink of revolt. I had already found a way to avoid conflict. I had won, and the two of you...destroyed everything." He rubbed at his hair and looked very sullen. "The funny thing is, with just a bit of patience...you might have been able to convince them to allow it. You might have had everything you wanted...with just a little more time." He looked a bit zoned out.
Mamoru couldn't tell, but he could hear strain in his voice. "That's not how we saw it."
Tony looked over at him, he looked very stiff and a bit pale. "I know. Why do you think I hated you so much? I knew what would happen if you two kept meeting up. I told you both, warned you of what would happen, and begged you to show patience and restraint, but you pushed me away, deluded in your romantic fantasies. You were both young, too young and arrogant to learn patience. You sowed your oats, and from the roots of that, Metallia gained her foothold in the Crystal Palace. Beryl's envy, a distracted queen, two forbidden lovers too stupid to look beyond the moment, and one man who could do nothing and look on as all his efforts crumbled to nothing, just before the entire kingdom followed it." He gave a humorless laugh. "And you would ask me why I've taken up drinking so young?"
Mamoru was gripping his glass and glaring at it. "It wasn't like that...I remember. I loved her, more than anything."
Tony nodded. "Yes. I know. You loved each other so much you got each other killed. The final blow to our mother, and the reason she could do nothing but seal away that monster, at the cost of her own life. It made you a hero among your people you know. I always found it irritatingly ironic."
The older boy looked very pale. He was shaking a little and glaring at his glass. He felt numb, cold, but not angry. "I'm telling you it wasn't like that. We were meant to be together. After all this time, we finally are. We've been reborn, here amongst my descendents."
The kid gave him a dark smirk. "Your descendents? I'm afraid not."
The older boy looked at him and gasped. "What do you mean?"
"I was still alive, and there were survivors from the other worlds. Most of them very unhappy with the situation this planet put the rest of the solar system in. The others were easy to convince once the story of our fall was related to them. They kept coming for years, some going from planet to planet, and moon to moon looking for a place to survive. A lot of them didn't make it. Once I had a foothold, I put up a beacon. Your people were trying to prevent the news that Earth was still habitable from spreading. After all, there wasn't enough room for everyone. You were right about that."
"What are you saying?" Mamoru was gripping the bar.
"I wiped them out. Not me personally, I was just in command of the extermination of the Native Earth population. There were a few survivors, but none related to you. We used genetic markers to eliminate the royal family's genes from the population entirely." Tony cocked his head and seemed thoughtful. "Wanted to be sure and all. We left about two percent of the native population and made them slaves. Those pyramids didn't get built in a day, but your people's descendents sure sped things along quite nicely." He smiled at the older boy sitting next to him at the bar. After a moment he seemed to think on it. "I suppose it didn't work. I mean, here you are again after all."
"What? Why are you telling me this?" The blind boy seemed like he didn't believe it. "No one would do such a thing. It's inhuman! We were better than that."
"And we were completely pissed off. You don't seem to understand the level of screw up you helped facilitate. It brought down the entire kingdom and literally threw us into the stone age eventually. I don't like you. I never will. The only reason I haven't killed you already is because of Usagi, and I'm not exactly happy with her either. " Mamoru looked about ready to pop. "Look you asshole, think about it this way. If someone on some tiny nowhere island in the Pacific decided to use nuclear weapons to destroy all of Japan, and you and enough people to kick their ass somehow survived and it was the only habitable place you had enough supplies to reach, and the island would only sustain either you or them, wouldn't you show up and maybe, remove them from being in the way of your new island home? Cause that's kind of what happened." He looked at his glass and swirled it around. "It's true I had a hand in it, but I wasn't the only one who was angry. It was going to happen regardless, too much bad blood, and not just over the fall. Earth had a bit of a reputation and wasn't well liked to begin with. It was considered unstable and unreliable." His frown deepened. "I was hoping I could begin to change that."
Mamoru just gave a short nod and frowned at his drink. "I see."
Tony bit his tongue on that one. It was too easy, and he didn't really want him throwing a punch in that sort of place. He seemed to realize he'd brought the older boy near to it already. "Whatever. I'm just glad you two can't screw up that way again. Nobody cares anymore, screw like rabbits in a wool sock, and not a single person will die for it." He finished his drink and set it down. "Anything else you want to know about why I'm not really interested in talking to you?"
"How do you know all this?" grumbled the blind boy through his teeth. "Why should I believe you? That isn't what I remember."
"It has something to do with that sword of mine." He looked thoughtful. "The key to our freedom. I'm still not sure what that means, but every since I've gotten it back...it's...showing me things. Trying to get me to remember...something."
"The sword?" muttered Mamoru in confusion. "That's...I don't know anything about a sword."
Tony nodded. "You shouldn't. You were never told about it. Mother was trying to cover it up, keep it controlled. I was patient, and knew to bide my time and give a little to gain more later. The fact that I had it made it inevitable though. She realized that, but it did not sit well with her."
"Huh. Funny that. How do you know how she felt about it? Maybe you were wrong?" the older boy looked unsettled. He looked a little depressed and shocked, but not moved to anger at all.
"She told me. I told you, I had won, and I knew it. It would have soothed the angers of your world, and given us a voice. It would have given, you, a voice." Tony looked frustrated and tired. "Not so easy to forgive and forget."
Mamoru stood up and frowned at him. He wasn't pleased and looked upset. It wasn't tears, and it wasn't rage. He was horrified and shocked, but also confused. What he'd just been told, didn't fit with what he remembered. He remembered her smile, her laugh...happiness. A forbidden love, but a wonderful light in that life. "I don't believe it." He muttered to himself as he opened the door and walked out of the bar. He squeezed his already shut eyes tighter. "Then why do you feel this way?" responded his own mind. He pulled his coat a little tighter, there was a chill in the air as he went back home. His sleep would be restless that night. Before, he was looking forward to this meeting he was supposed to attend with the other super heroes in Tokyo. To finding out what had happened, and hopefully how to end the threat now. At that moment, he wasn't so sure he was going to go. He was afraid now, afraid of what he might discover. Those memories had been a light in the darkness for him, and now he wasn't so sure the price he'd paid for them was worth it. Tony Stark did not lie to him in that bar, he knew it damn well. His voice and vitals were steady and calm, and he was confident in every word he'd spoken. Even the best of liars had tells he could pick up on he'd discovered, and he'd not gotten one from that boy. It chilled him to the bone and he clutched his coat tighter. Even though he knew he wasn't getting much sleep, he wanted to be home as soon as possible. He needed to be on his own for a bit.
Tony scowled as he ordered another drink. He figured he deserved it for putting up with Mamoru Chiba of all people trying to strike up a conversation with him. He sipped on the whiskey and settled. "Don't worry, I'm done." He downed it and smirked at the bartender. The man looked a little worried and nodded. He was feeling pretty depressed himself by that point. "What the hell am I gonna do?" The big meeting was in a week. It apparently took quite a bit of work for Luna to do it to a large group of people. They had to set up some sort of chamber and she was going to have to do a few days worth of mental preparation. That worried him a little. Luna didn't seem like the type who would be good at meditation. Artemis was helping out as well, and that worried him even more. Luna was even more easily distracted when he was around her. He sighed heavily as he pushed his palm into his cheek. "Crap. We're all doomed. I hate this. It's endless and...it just sucks."
The door opened much louder than it should have for such an establishment. Everyone but Tony Stark turned towards the sound and the bar went silent. He ignored it as it did nothing to bother his senses and played with his empty glass with his fingers as he looked into the bar mirror with a zoned out expression.
"Um, wait! We...uh...sorry about this." muttered a female voice. She sounded nervous and excited. "Look. We can't be in here. You can't just go around kicking doors in and..."
"Ha! Ha! Ha! You worry too much! You there! I know you, do I not?" called rather boisterous sounding voice. "Yes! It is you! How can this be!?"
Tony had no idea what was going on, and no desire to turn around and find out. His Spidersense was quiet, and he was perfectly happy ignoring it. That was of course ruined as he found himself lifted up from his bar stool from behind and squeezed in a roughish but not painful manner. "What the hell?" He muttered as he seemed to realize that the commotion in the room was directed at him. "Um...do I..." He looked over his shoulder.
A very large bearded man with blonde hair and blue eyes was grinning at him as he held him in his arms. He looked very pleased to see him. A woman of about twenty five was looking up at him with a shocked expression. "Oh my god! That's Tony Stark! I don't believe this, of all the people you would grab." She looked up at him and smiled in a very nervous manner. "I am soooo sorry Mr. Stark. Look, I hit this guy with my car a couple of times by accident. He's all right, but he's a bit confused. I'm really sorry about this. Please...please..." She looked near to tears. She was also pretty attractive.
The kid cocked his eyebrow at that. "A couple of times?" He twisted and furrowed his eyebrows at the blond man. "Put me down."
The man complied, and he was about three feet taller than the boy. "It has been ages my friend! I never expected to see you here!" He slapped his shoulder and grinned. He was wearing a T-shirt and blue jeans that were a bit small for him.
Tony looked up at him and then to the girl. "Him I know. Who are you?" He pointed at her.
The bar looked confused at the commotion, but no one wanted to approach the very large gaijin man who had stormed into the room and walked up to accost the most famous person in it. It seemed to realize that things were calming down as the boy shook the man by his shoulder and walked outside the bar with the pair. The large man walked after him cheerfully, and the woman stumbled behind them in confusion. "I...I'm ah...Komiko. I'm a scientist. Um...aren't you?"
The boy put on a pair of shades and finished putting on a coat. "Yes. I'm Tony Stark. What are you studying?"
The large man seemed pleased. "She has aided me since my arrival in Midigard. Unuzuki Komiko, a strange name, but I do not know these lands. They are far from where my last visit to this world was."
"Um, an unusual atmospheric phenomenon. Some sort of plasma storm, kind of like..." stammered the woman in confusion. "It's complicated. Look, we found him near one of these storms and he's a bit confused."
Tony proceeded to ignore her. "Hello, Thor. It's been a while."
"That it has my friend, though...you've grown young, as when we were boys in the fields of Asguard and Mare Tranquillitatis. I suppose it is no stranger than not being dead. Why did we leave that mead hall? We could have raised a glass to our reunion!" The man seemed quite pleased and shook his shoulder.
"Yeah. That place sucks. I just go there because it's close to where I work. You'd hate it, but I know a place that's more our speed." Tony had every intention of beating his wife's hangover by that point. "What brings you to Midigard?"
The man hung his head. "I have been banished by father. He told me I was arrogant and brash, unworthy. That I must learn from this world. Bah. What lesson can these weak beings teach me, the Mighty Thor?"
The woman looked a bit confused by all of this. "Um, you know him?"
"I'm guessing she stumbled across the Rainbow Bridge?" muttered the boy as he frowned at her.
Thor nodded. "Yes. She discovered me when I arrived in Midigard. I awoke and found her standing over me. Quite a vision. I believe she thinks that she is destined to aide me."
The woman blushed. "Um. I sort of ran him over. I was looking at the anomaly and he just came out of nowhere..."
Tony seemed to think on that. He opened a heavy metal door along a brick wall with a neon sign over it and walked in. Komiko froze and squeaked. Everyone inside the place looked like a thug. They were wearing leather, had scars and sneers, and seemed quite rough. "Um, this place is a bit rough...isn't it?" She looked over her shoulder as she walked in and noticed a long row of bikes parked along the wall just outside the door before it closed and she found herself standing inside with her new friends.
"Yeah. It's perfect," replied Tony as he walked up to the bar, rapped his knuckles on it and nodded at the barkeep. "Three, and keep em coming." He turned back around with his hands full as the gruff looking bartender put three mugs of beer in front of him. "It's beer. It's kind of hard to get Mead around here. You'll have to settle for now."
Thor nodded and grunted. "Not so bad. I have an occasional mood when even my palette tires of Mead. Beer is as good as any other drink." He looked at the boy and leaned across the table to shake his shoulder and grin at him. "How is it you are not dead?"
The young businessman shrugged. "I got reborn. A bunch of us from the old kingdom were. I've only been here a short time really. Still don't remember it all."
Thor chuckled and slapped his shoulder. "Nor do I. Too many mugs raised have blurred my memory of many events."
"I'm confused. What's going on? You know him?" She pointed at her companion. "I mean. I've been looking out for him and all since I met him..."
The boy looked at her and grinned. "Yes. This is Thor, first son of Odin." He looked at the man who was just finishing chugging his beer and belched. They were very large mugs.
Thor regarded his second mug as it was set before him by a tough looking waitress with a cigarette hanging from her lips in a very tight short leather skirt. "True it's not mead, but I cannot complain."
"Um, it's good that I've found someone who...um knows him, but this is kind of strange." Komiko was trying very hard to follow the conversation and was just ending up lost.
"He's an alien. That phenomenon you found is the Rainbow Bridge of Asguard. One of the planets in the World's Tree, Ygdrassil, which we are also a part of." The boy shrugged. "We're old friends. Though, I'd be lying if I said I was surprised to see him again. I'm kind of getting used to it I guess."
She nodded and was a bit wide eyed. "Um, okay. This isn't helping any."
"He speaks the truth," replied the large man as he finished his second mug. He didn't seem to be slowing down and the man paying the tab didn't seem to care much. He was on his second mug as well. Thor looked at her. "What, you're not drinking? The night is young!"
She took a few gulps of her mug and set it down while gasping for breath. "I'm not sure this is going to help. Is...this some sort of joke? You're not really Tony Stark are you?" She looked at her mug and scowled a little. This was turning into a night that seemed an awful lot like the ones she used to regret having in college the next day.
The boy nodded. "Yeah. I am. Look, it's pretty simple. The Vikings worshiped them because they were advanced to the point that their technology seemed like magic. Things aren't so simple here now, though I doubt he's aware of it yet. Still, he's a member of an advanced race that lives on a world called Asguard." He looked at her and shrugged at her expression. "That atmospheric thing you've been chasing around is just an artificial wormhole, a rainbow bridge between our world and theirs." He looked at him. "To be honest, I'm less surprised to see him than I should be. Oh well. I guess I can give you a place to crash while you're here on Midigard. I should make sure you stay out of trouble. I've noticed you've been stripped of your power. Mjolnir is never away from your side. You're going to need my help."
"And I shall gladly accept it my old friend!" Thor was quite pleased that things were going so well. He hung his head and his face fell. "You are right. I am not at my best without Mjolnir. I must find it, I am certain it is here."
Tony nodded and looked at the woman. "I guess. What about you? Planning on hanging around?"
She blinked and looked at him. "Wh...what?"
The boy smirked. "Something brought the two of you together. Fate maybe? I guess I can help you two out for now, those three women have a strange sense of humor I suppose."
"What do you mean?" she stammered as she blushed and looked away.
"I mean, you just found the God of Thunder. Are you really going to turn away from that?" The boy chuckled and lifted his glass. "I know a few scientist. There are two kinds. The ones who want to observe at distance, and the ones who just have to get in there and discover. Their curiosity drives them to insane lengths to discover the secrets of the universe, or any other secret they happen to stumble upon." He narrowed his eyes at her. "You're the kind that's nothing but trouble. There's no way you're gonna let this go." He chugged the second half of his beer. "What are you working on anyway? I'll give you a grant to continue your research and you can hang out with Thor. It'll probably end up that way anyway."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "I don't trust you to remember that." She was leaning against the table and her eyes were a little blurred, along with her speech.
"I'll remind him!" said Thor. Enduran was a great friend, and a fine warrior. Perhaps his banishment would not be as horrible as he had once thought it to be. His heart was heavy, but he could always count on the Prince of the Moon to lift his spirits. It was a fine day indeed to discover he was not as dead as he had originally thought.
She leaned towards him and nodded. "Okay."
Three bars later...
Tony was staggering a little, but able to move without too much difficulty. The large burly man with him was marching along at a cheerful pace, though just as loaded. Komiko was hanging from his arm and having the most trouble keeping up.
"What is this? Can it be? I cannot believe my fortune!" Thor got a mighty grin upon his face. "Endimyon! It has been ages!"
The youngest member of the group noticed this and frowned. "Huh? That flake is..." He'd figured he'd gone home to sulk. Sure enough, Thor was holding the confused looking Mamoru up in a warm embrace and swinging him like a child. "I had thought the old kingdom lost! Yet on this day I find not one, but two of those I had long thought perished!" The older boy was dressed in a long coat and looked a bit panicked. He had been sulking with his head slumped between his shoulders and walking by the rowdy drunken group. He'd not noticed who they were and the large man had taken him by surprise.
"What? Who the hell? Put me down! Who the hell are you?" cried the panicked boy. "You're drunk! Hey!"
Tony chuckled a little despite himself. "Hey. Put him down, he's blind, and doesn't recognize you."
Thor blinked and set the boy in his arms down. "Blind?"
The young boy nodded. "Yeah. Don't worry about it though. It's kind of like what happened with your dad. He can actually get around better than before because of it. So, don't feel sorry for him or anything."
The large blond man nodded. "I see."
"Whoshe thish?" muttered Komiko. She giggled at the college kid's position.
"What? You? What are you doing?" He sneered a little. "All of you are drunk."
"So what?" grumbled Tony as he crossed his arms.
Thor slapped Mamoru on the back. "Hmmm. It is as before I see. Very well, I shall force you to drink with us then. So, now you have no excuse to refuse!"
The boy staggered a little from the force of the slap, though it seemed good natured. "What? Hey!" He staggered away. "Look. I don't know who you are, but..."
Tony walked over and grabbed his arm. "Just come on. You're not getting out of this now. I know him well enough to know he means that."
"Unhand me! You show up with this weirdo and some strange girl..." muttered the college student in irritation as he pulled his arm away.
The kid hung his head and grabbed it again to pull him along. "Shut up and come on. That's Thor. You know him from way back when. Seems he got banished here for some reason. We'll figure that out later, we've not seen each other in thousands of years."
"Thor?" muttered Mamoru in confusion. "What? Look. I don't remember..." His face went a little slack. "Wait...Thor?"
"Yeah," said Tony as he let his arm go and put some distance between them.
Chiba's shoulders slumped and he gave a heavy sigh as he kept up pace with the group. "So, where are we going?"
Thor gave a hearty laugh. "Come now my friends! There are many mead halls in this place. Many more than I remember! We shall see how many we can visit upon this night!"
"Don't forget I'm attached. You've got a way of getting me into trouble." Mamoru seemed a bit confused about why he had just said that.
"Don't bring it up," growled Tony as he looked at Thor out of the corner of his eyes.
"I see. So, your sister has returned as well, has she?" The large blonde man seemed to consider that in good humor. "I shall force the two of you to make peace of that yet. Come, neither of you can resist the call of the night when I ride with you!"
Mamoru gasped and frowned. "He's right you know. He's the only one who was ever able to do this to either of us. I'm still not sure how he does it."
"He's fucking Thor. I hate to say it, but...that pretty much explains it." Tony shrugged and seemed to forget about it. He hung his head a little and glanced at Mamoru.
"I hate you."
Tony was on his back on the grass next to a river. Thor was making out with the girl he'd been dragging around nearby on a bench. There was a riverside bar a short distance away, and he had a black eye. Mamoru was beside him with a bruised lip and a cigarette hanging from his lips. Both of their clothes were a mess, and they both had reddish eyes. "You know. It's weird."
"Huh?" muttered Mamoru.
"That I still care about that crap. From back then." The boy looked up at the moon and stars. "I had my revenge...but...it didn't make it go away. It didn't fix anything. Here I am today..."
"I guess I see what you mean. I still feel like I hold a grudge from back then myself. You were...difficult to get along with."
Tony nodded. "Not accidentally."
"Yes, I know." replied his older companion.
"I want to reach out and crush your happiness. Yeah, I know that you and...her...can do as you like and nothing will come of it beyond you being happy or miserable in each others company." He scowled a little. "I want to stop it even now. I don't think your love is worth the price we all paid for it. Even though it won't bring anything back, even though it won't make it any better. I still...want to stop you. I don't think either one of you deserves it." He rubbed at his face. "That's strange. I can't let go. I can't forget. Even though...it's been so long. Even though I know it's not right."
The older boy turned his head away. "You've not done anything to stop it."
Tony sat up. "Yeah. I know. Restraint I suppose. I...know I shouldn't hold on to that old grudge. It won't help anyone, and it will only cause suffering if I act on it. I doubt I'd feel any better if I did it to be honest."
Mamoru blew out a plume of smoke and nodded. "I'm having a hard time thinking of a way to respond to that."
"Well, kicking your ass didn't feel that bad," said the boy with a chuckle as he put his hands behind his head.
"It was a draw," grumbled Mamoru.
"You're lucky I'm drunk."
"I think Thor and his friend are finished." Tony looked over his shoulder and noticed them staggering towards him.
"I threw up," muttered the woman a little sheepishly.
Thor didn't seem upset and was helping her walk.
Four bars later...
Mamoru and Tony were leaning against each other shoulder to shoulder and staggering along the sidewalk. "I...I love you man..." muttered the younger of the two.
"...I love you too..." replied Mamoru as he shook him by his shoulder.
Thor looked on with a smirk on his face. He was every bit as drunk, but better about handling it. By that point, his new friend was riding on his shoulders and hanging over his head. "Ah, to see them both again. It is strange, and most unexpected."
The girl giggled a bit. "Strange? This is the weirdest night of my life. It's sooooo awesome!" She scrunched up her nose. "Who the heck is that guy? I know who Tony Stark is, but that blind guy we've picked up..." She scowled a little. "Are you sure he's really blind? He doesn't seem it..."
"They are rivals of a sort. It is difficult to explain. For as long as I have known them, they have harbored a deep respect for each other as warriors. They do not get along well because each is stubborn and stupid in his own way. It was something of a family issue. A forbidden love, the best kind by the way, and it wore the stench of politics upon it. I did not care for the situation my two friends found themselves in. If not for this wedge, they would have been as brothers. I know Endimyon would have made Serenity happy, and so did he. It was forbidden though, and he could not forgive the Prince of Earth. I am too drunk to relate the details, but they are not as bad off as they seem. Each must learn to let go, it's not healthy to hold grudges for that long. I admit, I am prone to them myself at times, perhaps more than I should be, but at some point you've got to let it go. It's been millennia and they are both still stubborn and bull headed. Fortunate that I am better at that than the both of them at both of those things."
She pulled on his cheeks and grinned. "You know, you don't seem that drunk."
Thor nodded. "Morning is still several hours away, though we are far into the night. I've not yet had my fill, so we continue!"
A massive explosion rocked the street as one of the buildings about two blocks behind them exploded outward in a massive ball of flames. Debris littered the ground and a pillar of smoke rose into the sky. "What the hell?" muttered Tony as he staggered and put his hand over his eyes to peer at it.
"Hmm?" Thor didn't look worried and looked on.
"Ooooh! Pretty!" said the girl hanging onto his head.
"Ouch," grumbled Mamoru as he rubbed at his ears. It had been painful and jarred him for a moment.
Tony looked around and stopped as his eyes fell on someone standing in the street ahead of them. "Hey. It's Wade! Hey Wade!"
A figure in a raincoat froze in place and turned to look towards him. "Huh?" He hid a remote detonator behind his back and backed against the wall. "Who?"
The billionaire kid was waving his arm with a very large gaijin man with a woman on his back and a blind man. "What the hell?" Deadpool cocked his head and took off the fedora that was on top of his head over his mask. "T-Tony?"
The boy was clearly loaded, so the mercenary refrained from shooting him. He couldn't witness much of anything in his condition. "Hey, what's up?" called the boy as he waved his arms at him.
"Nothing, just finishing up some business." He dropped the detonator behind his back and kicked it into a small pile of trash.
"Really? You're free then?" Tony looked pleased and slapped his shoulder. "Great! Let's hang out!"
"Huh?" muttered the masked man in confusion. "Well, I would but I kind of stand out..." He was aware that going about in a mask in public drew stares.
Tony looked over his shoulder. "Um, yer kidding right? I mean..."
Deadpool sighed. "Well, I guess I see what you mean. I could use a drink I suppose... if you're buying."
The kid slapped his arm. "Ha! We have not begun to drink! Forward!" He staggered away with his finger in the air.
Thor looked a bit suspicious. "I do not know this one."
"He does, I think they're friends," said the girl with a shrug as she sat upright and kept her balance on his shoulders.
"Then I suppose I should count him amongst mine," replied the muscular blond.
Deadpool looked around. It was worth a free beer at the least. The kid was right as well, everyone in that group sort of stuck out. Seemed like it might prove entertaining.
"Know any good bars?" asked Carrot as he looked back at their new companion.
"Who is this guy anyway?" grumbled Mamoru.
"It's just Wade," said the boy with a shrug. "We met during this thing a while back. No big deal. He's cool."
Deadpool shrugged. "Sure, I know of a couple around here that aren't supposed to be too bad."
"Onward then!" cried Thor as he raised his fist into the air.
Pain and darkness. A dull throbbing thud that echoed through his mind over and over. Kei was looking at him with an expression of irritation. Not because he was feeling better than her, but because he had outdone her. Her husband had a night out that put her evening before to shame. She had no idea what happened to him, but he was wearing leather chaps, a clown nose, had an ear piercing he'd not had before, a tattoo of a spider on the back of his neck, platform shoes, a collar, and a monkey was curled up on top of his head in his hair, and he had on blue eye shadow under one eye. "What the fuck?" she muttered as she realized this through her haze. She'd gotten sick in the bathroom the night before along with both of her friends more than once. "Why does it look like you had more fun than I did last night?" The monkey yawned and looked up at her with eyes almost as bleary as theirs.
He scowled at her from his pillow. "Because I did." He scratched his head and ended up petting the monkey rather than relieving his itch. "Don't look at me that way. You had your 'girls night' and I had to find my own fun."
"You've never had that sort of fun with -me- before," she sounded irate.
"Yes. You're not Thor though." He rolled over and settled into the sheets. The monkey yawned and simply shifted to the other side of his head before settling again on top of him. For some reason a brief memory of running into a group of nordic men with large beards at some point had popped into his mind. He remembered teaching them to sing the theme to Skyrim at a rough bar that catered to merchant marines near the docks.
"Thor?" she muttered in confusion. She frowned and stood up from the bed to stagger to the bathroom. She had to piss. She paused and her eyebrow twitched as she looked at the floor. A hulking blond haired man with a beard was sleeping on the floor in a kilt. He had a nipple piercing and lightning bolt tattoo around his right forearm, which was wrapped around a woman dressed in what appeared to be a work jumpsuit that was completely open down the front. There was a T-shirt on the floor next to him with the words 'Party Hard' written across the chest. She also had a new nose piercing and the area around her eye sockets and eyelids were painted black. She cocked her head and arched her eyebrow as she continued to the bathroom. "Thor? I guess that's Thor." Her head was pounding too much to put any more thought into it. "Wonder who they are?" muttered the Kunoichi as she closed the bathroom door behind her.
Komiko was not feeling well. She was sitting at a table with a zoned out expression with a cup of coffee. Tony's wife was with them, and two other women she didn't know. Everyone had a hangover and they sat around looking at each other. The night before was a bit of a blur, but she was pretty sure she'd had sex with Thor more than once. She also recalled a large fist fight in the crummy bar that ended up in the boisterous singing of lewd drinking songs led by Tony Stark and Thor that involved everyone who had been fighting. Anything beyond that was sort of a blur, and trying to think hurt. "How did I end up like this?"
Tony gave a sigh. "It always ends up this way with Thor."
Kei was looking at the blond man and narrowed her eyes a little. "Um, how do you know...Thor?"
Her husband scowled a little. "It's a long story. I can't remember enough to really explain it anyway." He noticed the way she was eyeing the new pair. "Don't get your hopes up. Even he can't get me that drunk."
The kunoichi nodded.
Thor gave a snort. "I beg to differ my friend. I can get you drunk enough for anything."
Tony hit his head against the table. It was obvious the point had gone over the demigod's head. Komiko blushed a little at that and sank into her seat a bit more.
"Who are these women? Are they your harem?" The god seemed cheerful as he looked the trio of girls over. "They are all quite lovely." He narrowed his eyes at the Chinese girl. "She seems familiar. Though I cannot place her."
"No. She's my wife, the other two are just friends of ours," he sipped at his mug and pointed at Kei.
The kunoichi nodded at him. "This is a little weird, but I'd rather not deal with it now."
"You get used to it," commented Gia as she sipped at her coffee. She was content to relax and listen. Mei Lin gave a weary looking nod that at least attempted to seem cheerful.
The bearded man nodded. "Aye." He paused. "Wait. You...are married?"
"Huh? Yeah." Tony seemed to think on that.
A moment later Thor had fallen off his chair he was laughing so hard.
Tony sighed. "It's going to take a while for him to get that out of his system I bet."
"Why is that?" asked Gia with a small smirk on her face. She wasn't sure what was going on, but the atmosphere was friendly enough.
"I don't believe it! You! Married!?" Thor fell into another fit of laughter. "I never thought I'd see the day! Amazing!"
"Oh. I can't wait to hear the explanation for this one," Kei leaned in and had a wicked smirk on her face. "I suppose it will have to wait until he stops laughing. I doubt we could get it out of him right now."
Tony looked at her with a weak smile. "It will probably take a while for him to calm down. Don't get your hopes up." He looked at his phone and smirked at the text message. "Look me up the next time you decide to cut loose, kid. It was a gas. Wade. P.S. Making the photos disappear will cost you $10,000." He flipped through his apps and wired the money to the man without so much as a hint of irritation. He seemed almost cheerful despite his condition.
"Where's Mamoru?" asked Tony as he looked around. "He was with us last I remember."
"Huh? Oh, he was returned to his home and left to sleep. It was on our way back to your sky palace. I believe a Valkyre spirited him away in the evening before we returned. A bit small, but impressive I suppose." The demigod looked around and seemed to take in the office as the change in topic curbed his chuckles. He still seemed very amused, and it was obvious bringing it up again would set him off. Thor took note of his mood and smirked. "Well, I'm glad to see you're not as depressing as you seemed, my friend. Every time I see you I must lift your spirits again."
Tony nodded. "Once we recover, I'm gonna have to help you acclimate a bit. Midigard has changed, and you'll need to learn how to get by around here. The old age is gone, and the humans aren't as easily impressed as they once were. You'll be fine I'm sure, but the humans might get a bit banged up. I'd like to avoid that if possible."
Thor nodded. "As you say," he seemed to think on that for but a moment, and seemed to realize he didn't feel like trying to do that yet.
Tony glared forward and looked at his phone. He typed in a message. "Send me copies of those photos, I'd like to fill in some blanks. Thanks." He sent another five thousand along with it.
The demigod chuckled and shook his head. "Enduran, married? I never..." He seemed to recall something and the amusement fell from his face. Everyone else was busy dealing with their hangover and didn't notice him grow silent and thoughtful. "I suppose I shouldn't say anything about him then..."
Three hours later...
"You asshole! What the hell were you doing with my boyfriend last night?!"
Tony jumped back away from the image on his computer screen.
"Ah! Serenity! It is good to see you again!" said Thor with a grin on his face as he stood behind Tony's desk chair and gave a small wave at the screen.
Kei was looking on from the couch and trying to figure out who the newcomers were. Komiko had left and been given a ride home in one of their fleet vehicles along with Mei Lin and Gia. From what she gathered, her husband was going to help this 'Thor' and give him a place to stay. She still didn't know how they knew each other, but they appeared to be old friends. She'd also figured out that Thor wasn't human. She knew a few details, he was royalty of some sort, but was having a bit of trouble making sense of some of it. They weren't being shy about speaking about it, so she knew she'd figure it out if she just paid attention for a while. If she hadn't figured it out by the time she got him on his own, she'd ask him about it. It wasn't a pressing concern, as he did appear to be having a good time of it. That in itself was strange, especially the fact that her husband wasn't trying to hide it at all.
"Who the hell are you?" Usagi had seen him before, but obviously didn't know him. "Look, I found you idiots wandering around drunk! Do you have any idea what you were doing?"
"No," replied Tony.
"Argh! You were all pissing off the side of the roof of Tokyo Tower's observation deck when I found you!" snarled the girl as she gripped the camera and shook it on her end. "I had to take Mamo-chan home with me and hide him from my parents! It was completely embarrassing!"
"Ha! She's not changed. Listen woman, he's a man, and a fine friend. He did not betray you and what harm is him being manly with his fellow men when the mood suits him? Do you not take yourself shopping for baubles and clothes with your own friends?"
She was clearly enraged. "You jerk! I don't know who you are, but I'll kick your butt! That's completely different!"
Tony gave a sigh and rested his cheek in his hand. "Get over it. We're his...friends I guess. We'll be getting him in trouble like this in the future whether you like it or not. Getting pissed won't stop it." He looked over and scowled at Thor's approving smile. "This is just how guys are. You're going to have to deal with it, and neither one of us will let him cheat on you." He knew well enough that this would not be an isolated incident. He wasn't about to let it happen every night, but he had a feeling Thor would be around for a while. It wasn't sexual, and he couldn't explain it, but he never could resist that stupid grin and hearty laugh when it summoned him to party hard. Mamoru had always been the same, and it was about the only thing that would make them behave with any civility when they were together back then. "Just forget about it."
"I'm not letting you get your claws into him like this again. He's still sick! I had to take him to a bathhouse to get him cleaned up!" Usagi was clearly in something of a fit of rage. She stopped suddenly and paused. "Wait...what? Did you just say that you two are..."
The boy frowned at her. "We're all still feeling last night. You don't know Thor very well. Just let it be, neither one of us can help it." He narrowed his eyes. "I'm not answering that question. Just shut up and let it go. There's nothing any of us can do about it."
The girl was confused. "Thor? That guy?" she pointed into the camera at the blond man.
"He can be very persuasive. I've got a headache, and I'm going to hang up now. We are all suffering for what we did last night now. Everyone is fine now, and no one was hurt. Just be glad and let it go. Goodbye." He turned off the connection and then shut down the computer for good measure.
"You assh-" growled the girl on the other side before the feed was cut.
Tony Stark was finally alone in his office. He sat behind his desk with his feet kicked up. Thor had gone to visit his new mortal friend Komiko. His wife was enjoying some time to herself, and everyone else had left. All that, and his hangover was mostly gone. All and all, he was in a pretty good mood. His hands were folded behind his head and his desk pager buzzed. "Of course," he muttered.
"Mr. Stark. Two people from the Japanese Geological Surveyors Office are here to see you. They say they have an appointment..." The woman seemed a bit distracted as she searched for a record of the appointment. "I'm not finding..."
The boy pushed the button and sighed as he kicked off his feet and leaned forward. "Send them in."
Two people walked into the room, both young and dressed in black business attire. A man of about twenty four, and a woman of the same age. The man was short, but powerfully built. The woman was professional looking, but also in excellent shape. She had short shoulder length red hair and a serious businesslike air about her. The man had a tan and looked more like a security guard than a businessman.
"So, what can I do for the Japanese government today? I'm guessing the two of you aren't from the Surveyors office. You do have enough connections to know I'm giving that area of my business a lot of attention. What do you want?" The boy leaned forward and both of the newcomers got rather blank expressions on their faces.
"A very astute observation, Mr. Stark." The woman put her nose up a bit.
"Not really. I built the bow your friend is hiding in his sleeve. Well, my R&D department did anyway." The boy pointed at the man's arm and he looked down at his forearm. "Government Shinobi, huh?" He looked them up and down. "Never run into any of you before." Tony walked around the desk and leaned against the front side. "So, what is it? I had a rough night and I've not recovered all the way. So, I'd rather just get to the point."
The pair looked at each other and both were clearly uncomfortable.
"Don't look so surprised. Of course I know where my technology is ending up. Kodachi wasn't it? The sword that acts like a shield?" The boy frowned at them both and seemed very relaxed. "I'm not privy to details, my clearance is only level five. I supply enough of your little toys that I've managed to put a few things together though."
The woman stepped forward. She had regained her composure. "We're here to ask you about your new friend."
"Clarify," spoke the boy in a casual and disinterested manner. "I know a lot of people, and 'new' is a relative term." He looked over his shoulder as the woman went speechless.
She was annoyed with him. It was obvious she was used to a different reaction from someone his age, as well as more respect. The man was silent and just scowled at the scene. "Your large nordic friend. I seem to recall something about a 'Dovahkiin' according to one report."
"Thor?" Tony blinked. "Yeah. We're old friends. Nice guy, a bit dense, but he's pretty strong."
"We have no record of his entrance into the country. There's no record of his passport or..." The man spoke up and seemed to relax a little more. They had actually gotten something from him it seemed.
"Well, I don't think he has one. He fell out of the sky." Tony shrugged. "At any rate, he's a demigod. It's kind of complicated actually."
The man's scowl returned. "What, you mean like Thor from..."
The kid nodded. "Yeah. That's him. Norse God of Thunder. He'll be a huge help actually. I'm glad he showed up when he did. Now you two, this is getting interesting."
"You think this is some kind of joke?" The woman looked angry.
"No. I'm serious. In fact, I'm pretty sure you three will get along all right." Tony shrugged and walked back around his desk. He slumped into his chair, put his hands behind his head and looked back and forth between the pair. "I'd offer you a drink, but I doubt you'd accept. On duty and all. You two seem the sort to stick to the rules on the job."
"You seem like you've had enough," said the man as he scowled at him. It was clear the pair had knowledge of some of what happened the night before. In fact, they probably knew more about it than he did.
The kid didn't look scolded in the slightest and nodded. "I agree. I'm still a little off from last night. Anyway, I'm not lying. He'll be really useful in saving the world from soul sucking death. I'm pretty sure you two know about that little problem brewing in the Arctic."
The woman looked at her companion and gave a nod. He stepped forward and put a folder on the table. "Does he have anything to do with this?" She opened it up and tapped what was inside with her finger.
The boy frowned and looked down at a photo of a familiar warhammer. "Mjolnir."
"So, I'm guessing your friend has some connection to this?" asked the woman as she crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes.
"Where is this?" asked the boy as he looked down at it.
The man chuckled. "We're not cleared to give out that information."
Tony nodded. "Get me in contact with someone who can then." He didn't take his eyes off the picture. The hammer was in a large crater in a wooded area. He couldn't pick out any landmarks as the photo was very close up.
The pair seemed surprised and looked at each other. "I'm not sure..." started the woman.
"Yes. There is a connection. I'm honestly a little surprised you had to ask." The boy looked up at the pair with a little confusion. "Look. I'm sure I'll get the chance to introduce the three of you at some point in the future. That isn't going to happen today." He leaned in. "We have to get him to this hammer. I know you couldn't move it, and it's still exactly where it was when you took this photo. This is more important than you think."
The pair was caught off guard again. "How do you know that?" asked the woman in at tone that implied she didn't want him to think it was actually true.
The boy pointed at the runes on the side. "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." He was a little surprised to realize that he could actually read it.
The man looked confused. "They didn't cover Norse Mythology in our training."
The kid nodded and seemed to brush it off. "Fair enough. Look, this is a bit like finding Kusanagi lying around the woods somewhere. That's the real Thor. No one but him is going to be able to lift that hammer out of where it's sitting. I know a lot about this, and I'm also aware you probably ruined a bit of heavy lifting equipment trying to get it out of there. Stop wasting your time. It's not going anywhere until he retrieves it." By that point he was balancing a pencil on his desk with his hand in his cheek. "Is that all? I'm a bit hung over. Get me into contact with someone who can get things moving. An ally like him can't be passed up with what's coming."
Tony had noticed the pair had placed several bugs in the room, but decided not to care. Leaving them might make things go smoother. He was going to have to tell Kei about them, and get her to leave them be until he had a handle on the situation. He had no idea who the woman was, but knew that Hawkeye was standing in his office. It had caught his attention when the unique custom made weapon had gone out to an operative with that particular codename.
Tony was still a little blurry eyed and frowned at them. The man had taken his hands from behind his back and seemed a bit annoyed. He didn't know why, but he took note of the man's hands. He sighed and got to his feet as he turned away from the pair and looked out the window. "Where's Gekijo? This involves his little pet project doesn't it?"
"Huh, you're a cocky little bastard. What do you know about my initiative anyway?" There was a dry sounding click and Tony froze up and gasped as he turned his head to look down the barrel of a gun. A man was standing next to him with an eyepatch over his eye. He was Japanese and had gray splotches around his ears and along the back of his neck. He was in his forties and had obviously seen a lot of combat. The rest of his hair was black and he had a bit of stubble. The man looked calm and lit a match against the side of his desk while pointing a gun at him and lighting a cigar. "I'm a little annoyed with you already, but you seem to know more than you should, and I don't like that."
"I'm Tony Stark. Given what you obviously know about me, you should realize that sneaking up on me in my office isn't as easy as slipping through the door and hiding in the shadows. It's an old shinobi trick, send two people in to keep the attention of your...subject, and slip in unnoticed. I'm not a bad Shinobi myself you know." He shrugged and looked over his shoulder at the man. He gave a small nod and the man lowered his gun as he realized there were two turrets with machine guns attached to them in the corners of the room pointing at his head.
"I see. You're more connected than I thought." The man seemed to calm down.
Tony had actually about wet himself. He kept looking out the window with his hands behind his back and a calm expression on his face. "Are you going to tell me what this is about? Or should I guess?"
The older man was obviously in charge and scowled a bit. "Guess."
"Fukushu?" said the boy as he tensed up a little. "I assume that's what these two are for. Government Shinobi? I knew of course, but I admit it's my first encounter."
The man smirked a little and gave him a dangerous glare as he chewed on the end of his cigar. "I'd like to know where you get your information. That's classified."
"The bow," replied the boy simply.
The large squat man cocked his eyebrow and put his hand on his sleeve.
"Gekijo," grumbled the woman with an annoyed frown.
Tony was almost sweating. The man had his handgun out again and it was pointed at his head. He didn't seem to mind the turrets much this time. "I own the lab that made it. In fact, quite a bit of the tools you use to ply your trade came from my labs. Of course I know, you should have known that." He gave a heavy sigh and leaned his head back. "I don't know the details, but yes. I've heard of you, and I know a little about your pet project. I've got a level five clearance, I'm a defense contractor, you idiot."
The man shrugged and put his weapon away. "I know, but you'd be surprised how many times that's worked in the past. I don't trust you private sector suits much, and it's usually pretty easy to get you to sing if you're... hedging your bets."
"Not really. Are you done now?" The boy gave him a small sour frown. He looked at the two agents in the room and they both seemed a bit displeased with how he was speaking to their superior. "Knock it off. I don't work for him."
"We want Iron Moon," said the man as he stood next to him.
Tony scowled a bit. "It's unique hardware. It won't work for anyone but the pilot, and that's not a security measure. She has a special...condition, that makes operation the suit possible. It's not something I can duplicate."
"So what?" replied the man simply.
That didn't catch the boy off guard. "I'm not signing my bodyguard over to the government. The hardware is property of Stark Industries, and we're not letting it go."
Gekijo narrowed his eyes. "I see."
The boy smirked. "I'm not ruling out helping you, but my property stays my property."
The older man chuckled. "Your wife's property, you mean."
The kid frowned at him. "Yeah. Whatever. Annoying me isn't winning you any points. Look, I get it. You want to form a badass superteam to kick evil in the balls. Great. I guess she might get into that, and I don't need her standing right behind me all the time. I'm sure you've noticed I can take care of myself."
The man nodded and puffed on his cigar. "I see."
Tony looked over his shoulder. "These two all you've got so far?"
Gekijo narrowed his eyes and gave a short nod.
"I guess they'll do all right. Still, I know some people who might interest you. There's still a few things that need some ironing out first though. I'll have to ask, they wouldn't take you dropping in on them this way very well." The kid looked up at the ceiling. "Gonna have to find Mjolnir. It'll give him something to do. I like him, but having him hang around all the time will get old."
The man narrowed his eyes and looked confused. "I think we can handle..."
Tony grinned. "Yeah. Well, I doubt you'll say no when push comes to shove. Trust me, I can get you a team that will kick evil's balls so hard they'll fly out the top if it's skull."
Gekijo gave a small sigh and puffed on his cigar. "We'll discuss it later. He nodded towards his two companions and they followed him out of the room.
He watched them leave and looked bored for a long moment. "Interesting. The Avengers have almost formed." He sat back and put his hands behind his head as he turned the chair to look out his window. "This sucks. Why am I the shitty, angsty Spiderman anyway? I mean, there was always shit, but...I'm the same idiot as that brooding loser he turned into." He rubbed at his temples and watched traffic. "Fuck it. Let's see about having a hand in getting that group together. I've already started anyway." He knew he was going to help Thor out.
He had a connection to the man he hadn't expected. It was like seeing family again. He was a little afraid of that, and he was enjoying it as well. Now that he had connections to that world, it was feeling a lot more like home. It had happened to him a while ago, but he was really just becoming aware of it. He was a Gaijin, and always felt a little distant to the place he'd found himself in. The Japanese weren't the kind of culture who would try to make someone like him feel like one of them. They weren't necessarily unwelcoming, but he was an outsider on some level to most of them. There were individual exceptions of course, but many would never accept him as Japanese despite the fact he'd never been anywhere else in his life.
"Gah. Stop thinking." He clutched his head and grumbled as he sat back again. "Stupid past lives. Making me put up with all this crap." He sighed and settled in, reaching back over his shoulder and gave a small tug. The glass of lemonade that had been sitting on it was pulled into his hand by a thin web line. He sipped on it and relaxed, letting his eyes go a little lazy as he looked over the traffic. He wanted to avoid alcohol for a bit. He wasn't quitting, but was aware of some of the less heroic tendencies of the guy's name he stole. That had a way of coming back to bite him in the ass at times. He didn't need to watch Usagi for tendencies like that, as the Venom like portion of her power suit would prevent it. It would also keep her from getting sick as it filtered her blood stream on a regular basis. He was thinking of marketing a very small version of the system for medical purposes. Nothing that would attach to a host, but he'd had a team working on medical applications for the same type of system the larger units used to protect their hosts. It had originally been intended to prevent poisoning, but worked equally well on harmful viruses and bacteria.
He wasn't stupid enough to try giving out even small units that stayed with hosts for even medical reasons. He wasn't about to put himself into a Web of Shadows situation. Carnage was only about two cups in volume. A device that used the liquid metal to repair damage and perform all sorts of medical tasks was in later development stages. There were a few prototypes they were tossing around. None of them used very much of the metal, and it's OS would be housed inside equipment outside of the unit. The AI and OS weren't anywhere near as advanced as the suits Usagi and his wife wore. He'd been pretty insistent about that. One of the people in the lab had gotten Yoshi to call him up and convince them to let them do it. They understood his reservations, as both of them had tried to kill or maim him personally. He'd ended up giving in as long as there was no possible way it could come after him again if something went wrong. He was still avoiding knowing anything about the project aside from very vague progress reports he was forced to read by Wasabi and his wife. They had teamed up on him over that one. He'd tried to shove it off on them, and it was super boring.
Onizuka had a scowl on his face as he walked into the classroom. He looked tired and a little angry. He didn't look around or greet the class and locked his gaze on one seat in the room. "You!"
Tony blinked and smiled a little. "Me?"
The man stalked over, reached down and grabbed him by his shirt. They were nose to nose and he had a vein throbbing on his forehead. "I just want you to know. I really, really, hate you."
"Mad again is she? What was it this time?" The boy was enjoying it and it showed. The class looked a bit surprised at that. Aya had her jaw hanging down a little.
"None of your..."
"She found that laptop you keep behind your toilet and had a look at what was on it didn't she?" The boy was chuckling.
"Huh?" The man went blank. "Wait. How do you know about that? You've never been in my apartment."
"I've got one too. Well, it's my wife's, but I use it for the same thing sometimes." He shrugged as the man dropped him. "I know you well enough, and I overheard her grumbling about 'cleaning up the bathroom for that idiot pig' while I was in her class. She does that when she's mad at you about something. It happens a lot."
The teacher's eyes were a bit bloodshot. He was also a little pale. Sweat was dripping from his brow and he had his hands reached out around Tony, but didn't seem to be trying to grab him.
The boy sighed. "Just go ahead and punch me. I won't let them get you in trouble for it. I did warn you my revenge would be terrible."
Onizuka socked him and Tony hit the floor. The entire class gasped and looked on in shock.
The boy stood up and rubbed at his jaw with a grin on his face. It was a little swollen, but he hopped into his seat as Onizuka walked up to the front of the class. He sat back in his chair and put his arms behind his head with a smirk on his face. "Anyone tries to start any trouble over that, answers to me. I'll warn you now, my revenge will be terrible." It didn't sound much like he was threatening them with physical violence.
Gun looked back over his shoulder and seemed a bit amazed. "Doesn't that hurt?"
"Heh. I've had worse. You wouldn't believe some of the things that have punched me in the face." He didn't seem to notice and pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe some blood off the corner of his mouth. The swelling had already gone down.
Toshiro frowned at him. He was being cockier than usual that day. "Yeah, well sometimes you deserve it."
The boy nodded. "I'm perfectly fine with taking it when I agree with that."
That surprised the boy and he looked away with a thoughtful frown on his face. Tony did run his mouth a lot, but he was pretty passive. It was hard to believe he was who he said he was, but it was also pretty impossible to deny it. He'd never hit another student, and seemed to stand up for them a little with the grown ups. It was also extremely amusing to see him melt down Onizuka.
"What was that about anyway?" Aya seemed confused. "What did you two do to each other anyway?"
Tony shrugged. "Nothing much. I just paid him back for something he did to me a while back. It's actually not related to anything at school." He frowned at the suspicious expression Toshiro was giving him. "No, I'm not friends with him outside of school. That was pretty much the only time we've seen each other outside this place. He got one of his friends to get me into a promise I can't back out of. It's complicated."
The boy rolled his eyes and sighed. "You are so strange."
Gun cocked his head. "I really can't argue with him. You say you're from here, but you seem so...American."
Tony chuckled. "I usually get along with them pretty well when I run into them." That was true. He'd learned to listen for lost sounding English speakers when roaming the streets. It would net him a few Yen now and then, but it didn't happen often enough he could make a real job of it at his age. "I used to net tourists sometimes, and help them find their way around for a small fee. Even if they weren't interested, I'd usually help them find wherever they were trying to go."
"That sounds a bit dangerous." Gun looked alarmed.
"Yeah, kinda." He frowned and seemed to think about it. "It was pretty stupid, but it would give me a few honest meals every now and then. When I was a kid, most of mine weren't. I don't have parents, and I haven't since I can remember. Don't go thinking I'm bragging about helping an old lady across the street. I'd make as much as I could off of them along the way. I wasn't being nice, I was making use of my language skills for a profit. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not running around being a saint either. I'm not Captain Japan you know, most of the trouble I've ended up in was something along those lines. It's a bit strange, but I'm actually getting used to it."
Onizuka stood up and seemed to have calmed. "All right, that's enough. We've got to start class."
Toshiro sighed. "I think I'll learn more listening to him."
Gun shrank back a little and blushed.
Aya looked bored. "I'm so glad I'm not involved with any of that."
The class settled and the teacher started the lesson.
Thor was sitting in Tony's home with a very large cup of coffee in his hand. It was early morning and he was sitting on the porch with his old friend. "I have not spoken to them, but I have noticed the Senshi are here. It is a bit odd seeing them now, and so young at that. I never suspected I would lay eyes upon a Moon Cat again for that matter. Though, they are unchanged."
His host nodded. "Yeah. I guess. How is everything? I know you got banished again, it's not that unusual though. Don't get mad, but I think your father overdoes it a bit with banishments. It seems to be his favorite punishment, you were banished for six years to the Moon when we were twenty. I recall it had something to do with noodles..."
"Not well. I was a fool, and nearly brought war upon Asguard. Father has gone ill, and I nearly got my friends all killed." He gave a heavy sigh. "Things were...corrected, but I was forced to leave Asguard in shame. I...do not think I shall ever return. Father's illness was worsened because of my actions."
Tony slapped his arm. "I think he'll recover, and you'll eventually be welcomed back. It always sounds worse than it really is with you. You thought you were banished for eternity when we were sixty and you had to hang around for a few decades."
"I appreciate your attempt to cheer me up, and I hope you are right. I have my doubts of that this time. It was...serious. I have never seen him so angry with me." The large man looked sullen and serious.
"As do I. Tell me, what of your mother and brothers? Are Tyr, Balder, and Loki well? I always liked your stepmother. She was a very kind woman, and a good compliment to your father. I do hope I get to visit Uncle Odin and Aunt Frigga again." Tony was trying to move the conversation in a different direction without tipping Thor off. He wanted to know what Loki was doing very badly.
"I've not seen Tyr in many years. He was well enough last I saw of him. Loki is well. He cares for my mother and father in Asguard. I rest easier knowing this at least. Balder is young, and my mother coddles him as always." It raised his spirits a little.
Tony gave a nod and didn't look at him. It bothered him actually. "I see." He couldn't be sure, things were often different in some ways. He wanted to think that Thor was right and everything was fine. He couldn't shake the feeling that things weren't as Thor believed, and that his situation was more dire than he realized. He also knew better than to try and tell him that. The Demigod wouldn't take it well, and wouldn't listen. Loki was his brother, and he wouldn't take the kind of accusations he'd need to make sitting down. He also wasn't sure about it, and Loki was not an enemy of his in his past. He seemed to recall a friendly relationship with him in their youth. Though that was a distant and faded memory.
"What troubles you?" asked Thor as he noticed his thoughtful state.
"I'm pretty sure I only knew Tyr in passing, but I knew Loki, and have little memory of him." The boy shrugged. "I seem to recall him as a friend..." He scratched his head. "There are others I could say the same of. I was reborn...sort of. My memories have not all come back to me. I think you being here has helped my memory of you. I remember a few names and faces, and a vague recollection of a relationship with some of them, but I could not tell a single tale of when I knew them."
The god seemed to think on that. "I think I understand. We were quite a quartet when we were young. Loki was mischievous, and you were almost as bad. The two of you were always plotting and scheming, though you were strong enough to stand against my strength. I always won of course. Endimyon would complain about us getting into trouble, but he would have followed us into Nephilim. He was almost two centuries younger than us, but grew strong enough to keep up and join us on our adventures. Those were good days, and I hope your memory returns swiftly. I have noticed that you don't seem to have forgiven him. It is a shame, in our youth we were inseparable."
"Yeah," Tony seemed to relax a little. "What about the three stooges?"
Thor chuckled a bit. "I suppose you mean Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral?" He shook his head. "They are well. I fear I endangered them when they followed me, but father punished only me. I would have it no other way. They remained in Asguard, it is in good hands while I am absent."
The boy nodded. "Yeah. How about Sif? She's doing all right?"
Thor looked away purposely. "She's well enough."
Tony looked a bit smug. "Huh? You sound as if you're not telling me something. Did you break up or something? I figured you two would have gotten married centuries ago."
"No. I have not taken a wife..." Thor looked a bit uncomfortable with the topic.
Tony chuckled. "I see. I take it she's as touchy about the subject as ever? I don't know why you keep putting it off. It's obvious you're going to give up and do it sooner or later. Why not just get it over with? It's not like she cares if you mess around with the mortals sometimes."
"That's not the point," grumbled the demigod. "I like her well enough. I've not taken to settling down, and she would not have me running about. You know her, I might as well nail my chainmail to the throne should I do such a thing. It's bad enough as it is."
"Yeah. I seem to recall her spending most of her time looking for you. Not so easy to dodge her if you're tied up that way, huh?" The boy shrugged it off and seemed amused with himself.
"Who are you to talk?" grumbled Thor. "I know what is expected of me, but see no need to rush. I'm of no mind to settle yet, and I've little doubt she will be there when I am. I am fairly certain of that." He sounded a little annoyed with the matter.
Tony looked over his shoulder at him from the ground. "I guess..." He'd had enough fun, and didn't want to upset him. Thor was one of those people who was willing to beat the crap out of him if he pushed a little too hard and got on his nerves. Sooner or later they'd end up getting into a fistfight, but it would also likely end up with both of them drunk and laughing about it. "So what are you up to?"
"I'm not certain. I have little to do. I shall probably remain here. I may visit Komiko again tomorrow, but I have no need to leave this place today. She said something about 'field work' and it sounded as if she might not be available for the day." He seemed pretty relaxed.
"Yeah. I think I've got a lead on where Mjolnir might be. It's going to take some time though, there's politics involved. I think the local government came across where it landed, but I'm going to have to convince them to share the information." Tony sighed and looked over at the man.
Thor looked very serious. "Perhaps I can persuade them?"
"They'll be useful later. It would do more harm than good to try and force it out of them. A diplomatic solution is best, and I've already got a relationship with enough people in the government I should be able to pull that off. I know you're only so patient. Give me a few days first. There's no pressing need for it right now, we're not being invaded by Frost Giants or anything." Tony looked a little worried at his expression.
Thor seemed to consider that and balled up his fist. He relaxed and nodded. "Very well. I must recover it."
"I know," replied the boy as he relaxed again. "I'll find it. Now that I've got a lead, I'll get you to it one way or another. Even if they don't tell me, I'll be able to figure out where it is without making a mess. I'd rather keep damage to Midigard to a minimum if I can. I kind of have to live here."
"Very well, I shall place my trust in you once again. I have never regretted that in the past." The god seemed calm and had accepted that for the moment.
"Yeah. I think you'll need it. I told you about Metallia. It's a world eater, and we'll be needing all the help we can get. As strong as we both were, neither of us could have defeated my mother. It is very powerful, and we can't just let it be."
Thor gave a nod. "Yes. I shall aid you in any way I can."
"That's good to hear," said Tony with a nod.
Kei was sitting on the rooftop over their heads. She didn't know or care if either one of them knew she was there. It didn't seem like it much. She'd decided she'd heard enough and walked away. It was very strange, but she'd learned enough to do an internet search for Thor. It had been very strange to read through. The culture was very different, and it was a rather epic collection of source material. She left them to talk having pretty much just realized that her husband was close personal friend with the Nordic God of Thunder. Tony had some sort of relationship with quite a few mythic figures. Gods, her husband was speaking to the gods as if he was their equal, and Thor at least spoke to him the same way. She looked over her shoulder. "What...is he?" It wasn't fear that flooded her, but curiosity. "Interesting." Her husband was an interesting puzzle, and never seemed to care if she poked around trying to figure him out. Even when she was trying to annoy him he took it surprisingly well.
She paused as a large group of wide eyed girls rushed up around her. They were all kneeling before her with their heads up and their hands touching the tiles of the rooftop. She had gone a fair distance from where her husband was sitting with his friend. "Yes?"
"Wh-who is that?" asked Mai. "That man, with Master Stark?"
Kei looked over her shoulder and smirked. "That's Thor. He's an old friend of his."
Minako gasped. "I knew it! His name just 'had' to be Thor!"
Ami gave a small sigh and seemed a little weary, but every bit as interested as the others. "I have to admit, he does look like his name should be Thor."
Kei looked amused, all of the Senshi and their lone female instructor were accounted for. "Was there anything else, ladies?"
"No, forgive us for intruding, Mistress Stark." Mai knew they weren't in any trouble. She'd always gotten on well with Kei, she was pretty laid back, but kept to herself a lot. She was Hisami's personal guard and she'd worked under her a few times in the past. She wasn't cruel to those under her charge and had a sense of humor. They'd have to step pretty far out of bounds to get in trouble with her. Tony wasn't any different, but seemed more serious and businesslike. Kei was confident and having fun, and it showed.
The Head Kunoichi continued on her way as the group blurred out of existence around her. "Huh. They are improving. I suppose it's good that they are such fast learners."
"Yeah. Kind of annoying." Tony was lounging on a high pearch of the roof looking down at her from an ornate carving that hung over the side of the peak of the roof. He had his arms crossed and was looking down at her. "Keeping an eye on me are we?" He didn't seem upset.
"Well, you did marry a ninja." She shrugged and crossed her arms as she smirked up at him.
"Yeah. Just be careful. Thor is all right, but I'm starting to get connections with some...sensitive types. They might not take it well if they catch you listening in. I'm not saying don't do it, just..."
She looked up at him and narrowed her eyes as she vanished from in front of him. A moment later he felt a sound thwack on the back of his skull and flipped down to the ground. He looked up and found his wife smirking at him. "I'll be fine."
"Crap," he grumbled. He was annoyed and rubbed at the back of his head. "I mean people who know things about that suit, and might have ways to detect it outside of just being super observant. I've met a couple of government Shinobi, and they'll have the latest tech. Keep away from that one. I don't trust that they aren't interested in that thing you're wearing right now. I don't think they're a threat, but I'm not sure what they're after yet either. They want to know about what I'm doing. I need to figure out why, and I don't think it's because me and Thor are buds. Though, they'd like me to think so."
She narrowed her eyes and frowned at him. "I want to know what's going on with that. You might get in over your head. You're cocky and streetwise, but you don't know how to deal with these kinds of people. I have experience with such matters, and I don't necessarily mean as targets for my blade. Hisami had just as many government ties as you do. Just of a different crowd within the government. I know some of them. I know how to talk to these people and negotiate with them. I'm not backing off. Don't forget, I never promised I'd obey you."
He put his hands in his pockets. "I hate you for making me look like I'm being a huge asshole for telling you to watch your back."
She chuckled and stuck her tongue out at him. "You should have known better. You're a sneaky bastard, but don't forget I can get the drop on you just as easily. I can handle myself. You're an asshole for making it sound like you forgot that."
"Whatever. Are you done being rebellious now? I'm getting hungry and we're not that far from the kitchen." He shook his head and started walking away.
"Well, I suppose we should eat then," she flipped down to the ground and almost fell forward. She gasped and looked down to see he'd spread a thick coat of webbing behind him. She ripped free easily, but it had almost made her trip. "You jerk. That's not funny."
"So what? It's not like you could have broken your nose or anything in that thing. Besides, you deserved it for teasing me that way." He chuckled and put his hands in his pockets.
Tony Stark was eating a beef bowl with a pair of chopsticks. He was sitting in the kitchen, and it was meal time for a group of the shinobi. There was a large dining hall with a raised table at one end of the hall where the faculty sat. They came in groups over the course of the evening. The shinobi village didn't have any restaurants in it. Meals were served from a large staffed kitchen in the complex. They charged a little, but it was very inexpensive and they could usually select from several meal choices. He was the subject of a few odd stares, but was largely ignored.
Kei was looking irritated with him as she poked at a few tempura shrimp with her chopsticks and gave him a mild sour frown while leaning on her elbow.
He was ignoring the fact that his hands were webbed into his pockets. His pants were now hanging in two halves from his wrists. He'd realized what his wife had done, and simply ripped his pants in half to get his meal, sat down, and started eating. His hands were still inside the pockets, and he was holding his food with the outside. Kei was rightly thinking he'd only done that to embarrass her further.
He didn't seem to notice or care about his position. No one was about to say anything to him about it either. He simply ate his meal, walked outside and went back to his room.
Kei gave a small sigh. A moment later two small tendrils of liquid metal slithered back onto her suit along the ground. She was over it already. They had just gotten a bit carried away again. It happened to them more and more recently. What started out as teasing turned into a battle of wills over just which one of them was really doing the teasing. She'd been expecting him to sit and grumble with his hands stuck in his pockets until she released his hands. Not rip his pants off and go about his business as if nothing had happened. She looked at the bottom of his chair and his shorts were indeed still there. She wasn't sure if he'd noticed at first, but there was no way he'd gone all the way across the room without realizing it. There were a lot of shinobi looking very hard at their plates. "I'll have to be extra nice to him later for that one I think."
Luna grinned as she looked around the room. "Well, it's time."
Mamoru was standing with his arms crossed and Usagi and the Senshi were leaning against the walls of a rather sparse traditional Japanese room. There was a small fire in the center of the room in an open stone fireplace. It was a small temple and Rei was dressed in her robes.
Tony looked down at the cat and fell over laughing. She was wearing a tiny miko robe of her own and looked quite serious. "Wh-where did you find that outfit?"
Her tail fluffed out and she looked annoyed. "I look good damn it, shut up."
"It's really cute!" agreed Minako.
Thor was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. "I suppose so. I've never seen a Moon Cat wear such a thing before."
Artemis looked away with his tail swishing. "Yeah. Well, I've had to put up with it for a couple of days. It took a while for her to work it out of her system."
"Huh? What do you mean?" said Makoto with a confused looking frown.
"Don't worry about it." Usagi looked a bit flushed as she waved it off.
"Everyone is here?" Tony looked around. Michiru and Haruka had not shown up. He had a feeling neither one was planning on coming.
"Almost," said a familiar voice. A cheerful looking smile was on Mei Lin's face as she walked into the room pulling Haruka behind her.
"I don't need to be here," grumbled the woman. "Look, I get it, but I don't need..."
"Shut up," said the Chinese girl as she let the short haired girl's hand go.
"What are you doing here?" Tony looked confused. "Look..."
"I'll be fine. Do you seriously think I'm going to write a story about how I had a psychic episode caused by a talking cat in a ninja palace?" The Chinese girl looked pleased with herself. "No way I'm missing this."
Luna cocked her head. "Well, I'm not sure it will work for you. You might just be sitting around watching us all zone out for a while. You kind of had to..."
Tony looked at Haruka. "How did she manage to drag you along here anyway?"
"It's a long story," grumbled the woman as she crossed her arms.
"I promised her I'd set her up on a date with Hikari Negashi." Mei Lin looked pleased with herself.
"I said I wasn't interested," grumbled the sandy haired blond as she crossed her arms and looked away.
"Yeah, well I told you I know her. I'm not great friends, but she's a fan of yours." Mei Lin shrugged and looked about the room.
"What are you getting out of this?" Tony narrowed his eyes at her.
"Free concert tickets and back stage passes for life. Plus, I get to do a couple of fluff interviews with her for the paper. She's hard to get an interview with, so it works out well for all of us."
"Not really," grumbled Haruka.
"Yeah, well. You've already agreed." Mei Lin put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes.
"Yeah, yeah," grumbled the superhero irritably.
"What's she got on you anyway?" asked Tony.
"Who cares? Let's just get this over with," said another familiar voice.
"It's..." started Haruka. Her head snapped back and everyone in the room jumped as Michiru holstered a revolver.
"Don't fucking speak to me you bitch," growled the aqua haired girl. "Shut up and keep your distance. It's bad enough just having to be in the same room with you."
"I'm sorry," said the short haired blond as she hung her head and clenched her fist.
"That won't bring back what you've taken from me. If I could kill you, you'd be dead already." She walked over to a corner and crossed her arms as she leaned against the wall.
Haruka looked frustrated, but hung her head. "Fine."
"Anyone else?" grumbled Tony as he looked on with his arms crossed.
"What a mess," muttered Luna with a heavy sigh. "Look, we'll get started soon."
Tony was giving Mei Lin odd looks and frowning. He looked over at the two outer senshi present and back at her again. "Something is up."
"Does it matter?" asked Usagi with her arms crossed. "She does look kind of familiar I guess."
Mei Lin didn't look concerned and merely smiled oblivious to the looks she was getting.
Tony looked thoughtful. "Celestial...warrior..." He narrowed his eyes and walked over to the fireplace and poked at the fire. He put his fingers into some of the cooled ash around the edge and glanced over his shoulder.
Luna was presiding over the Senshi and having them sit around her. She looked over at him and frowned. "Hey, come on. We're almost ready to start." She was holding a warding stick between her paws and waving it around.
Tony was annoyed and frowned. He knew enough about the mind meld to realize that Luna was taking things too far and making more of a show of it than she should have. He didn't bother speaking up and walked by, passing by Mei Lin and dusting of his hands over her head.
"Hey, you jerk!" She pulled off her glasses and wiped the ash dust off on her shirt.
"You! You bitch!" he lunged at her and put his hands around her throat.
Uranus had him in a headlock and scowled. "Let her go."
"You bitch! I'll..." he was pulled away from her and clawing at the air.
"Huh, finally figured it out, did you?" The girl was smirking at him and looked at her glasses again before putting them into her pocket and giving him a rather amused look with her red eyes and a familiar smirk. "Took you long enough."
He was turning a bit red from the pressure Haruka was putting on his neck. He was ignoring her though and still reaching for the Chinese girl.
Mei Lin waved her hand. "Let him go, he won't hurt me."
He jumped forward and fell to his hands and knees in front of her. "I don't believe this...you..."
"Ha. I win." She put her hand up in his face with her fingers splayed out in a 'V'.
"I'm so going to get you for this," he growled as he stood up and grabbed her throat again.
"You're so cute," she chimed with something a little more sadistic than cheer.
"You've been playing me?" he growled. He wasn't squeezing her throat and was drooling from between his teeth a little as he growled.
"Like a flute," replied Pluto with a cheerful smile that looked disturbingly out of place.
His hands slipped from her throat and he slumped his shoulders. "I don't believe this. You..."
She leaned against his shoulder and looked at her nails. "Well, if I was the one who didn't remember who I was, would you have acted any differently?" She pushed off him and dusted off her hands. "I suppose I do owe you for getting me this job and giving me a fake identity. I was planning on taking care of it myself, but I kind of ran into a string of bad luck for a bit. I just knew you'd be the perfect sucker to help me out."
The inner senshi were looking on in wide eyed shock.
"Don't worry, they've always been like this," said Luna as she sat down and looked rather calm.
"Yes," agreed Artemis as he hung his head and looked a bit exasperated with it all.
Tony scowled at her. "Point taken. I'm going to get you for this. I don't care how many eons it takes, I will have my revenge."
"Um, what's going on?" asked Minako as she leaned towards Usagi.
The other blond looked unusually happy, even a bit wistful. "Huh? I'm not sure, but seeing them together like this makes me feel...happy for them."
"What? He looks like he's going to kill her," muttered Makoto with a rather shocked expression.
Tony glanced back at her. "I am not. She's my best friend."
All the inner Senshi but Usagi looked rather dumbfounded at that.
"Ha! It'll be years before you can top this one you jerk!" cried Pluto as she pointed at him and raised her other hand in the air with her fingers in a 'V' again. She leaned in. "You didn't seriously think I was just going to let it go and give up just because you've been dead for a few thousand years did you?"
Luna was swishing her tail back and forth. "Can we just get started?" She looked at him. "I can't believe it took you this long to figure it out. I owe her six cans of tuna now, you jerk."
He looked at her and balled up his fist. "You...you knew about this?"
The cat glowered at him. "Duh. Sit down and shut up. We need to start. The moon is out now, and we need to finish before it sets. I need a full moon for this many people at once."
Thor chuckled. "Ah. I see. I thought you seemed familiar. Disguise magic in your glasses. It has been many years Setsuna, I hope you are well."
"Never better, now that I'm on top of our little war," said the girl with a cheerful grin.
"Everyone shut up, sit down, close your eyes, and concentrate. We're on a limited time frame here. You can all catch up later. It'll be better once you remember who you were more anyway."
"I haven't forgotten," muttered Mei Lin.
"Shut it," snapped the cat.
She scowled and sat down along with everyone else as they closed their eyes and focused on the mental energy the cat was projecting. Luna was a bit more entertaining than she was before, but she had also gone a bit crazy.
"What is this place?" Usagi was in awe. There were green fields with white soil stretched out before her.
"The Moon Kingdom," commented Tony as he nodded attention towards the palace. It was a huge structure that towered over the city around it. Crystal spires that rose high into the air and a great gate leading up to it across a very large courtyard to a pair of gigantic doors. "Come on then. Let's see what we can find out."
"Aye," Thor was next to him and walked along at his side.
Minako took note of him. "Hey. What's he doing here? Shouldn't it just be us? Luna said that only people who were..."
"He's an Asgardian," replied Tony with a shrug.
"A what?" grumbled Rei as she scrunched her face up.
"You'll see. We've gone back a bit further than I expected it seems," replied the boy as he narrowed his eyes.
"How do you know?" asked Usagi.
"I remember this day." He looked up at the sky. "It's the first time I heard the call."
"Ah. I recall that," said Thor with a chuckle. "You made mention of it when you were banished to Asguard in later years."
"Yes," replied the boy with a serious frown on his face.
"I'm confused," said Ami as she furrowed her brow. "How do you two know each other? Was he reborn from back then too?"
The boy looked back at her with a cheerful grin. "No. He's the God of Thunder. Thor, first son of Odin. We all knew him from this time, but I knew him best."
Mamoru frowned a little. "I knew him pretty well too you know."
"This is giving me a headache. What's going on? Who the hell is this guy? He was reborn right?" Makoto was clutching the sides of her head a little.
"No, he's older than he looks." Tony shrugged again. "Look, I'm sure you're confused, but you'll figure it out. We're kind of here to fix that."
Enduran was sitting in his bed. He was about forty, but looked to be about eight. The Earth was hanging in the sky overhead, and he woke with a strange ringing buzz. It was very odd, and seemed to be coming down from above. It was bothering him and he moved towards the window. He was high up in one of the towers, and could see far into the distance below. His eyes didn't gaze across the landscape, but rather, into the stars.
"What is that?" he muttered as he looked into the sky with a bleary eyed expression. No answer came, but he was drawn to whatever it was. It seemed to pull at him.
He was tired and tried to shake it off. It would come and go in later years, but remained constant throughout his life. He wasn't aware of that yet and it was simply an annoyance. He slumped down into his bed and put his pillow over his head. "Annoying." He drifted off to a restless sleep.
Enduran frowned down at the servant girl who bowed before him. "What?"
"I am sorry my Prince. I am not permitted to do as you ask. You must ask one of the men to see to your needs. All of the female servants of the palace have been ordered by the Queen to not speak to you or obey your commands. I am not even supposed to speak of this to you." She looked worried and afraid.
He scowled and clenched his fist. "I see. Obey your Queen and do not speak to me again."
He walked out to the balcony and glared across the open fields of the Moon. "Damn her." He knew she was sending him a message. He had spoken against her before the court, and she was not pleased.
He strolled down the hallway with his hands behind his back and a scowl on his face. The doors to the throne were before him and two familiar young women were standing on either side of it. "Move."
It was Mars and Jupiter. They glanced at each other for a moment, but stepped aside without speaking.
"Even you were commanded to hold your tongues I see," he commented as he noticed the pair hang their heads as he passed by.
"Enduran," said a beautiful voice with a bit of a light air to it. "How fare you?"
"Annoyed, but you know that." He stood before the great crystal throne. The entire room seemed to glow with the power of the woman before him. "What you are doing is wrong, and I will not be silenced. You may be able to silence and remove the men from the court, but you cannot be rid of me."
She looked at him. "Can't I?"
"No." He responded. "There are laws even you cannot break." He turned away. "I'll be taking full advantage of them, and you know damn well you cannot order my silence, and that while I may not be strong enough to defeat your Senshi, none of them is strong enough to destroy me. Do you intend to kill me yourself then?"
She looked away from him and scowled.
"How dare you?" snarled the young Princess Serenity as she walked up behind him. "How could you speak to her that way?"
"Someone must, and she's binded the tongues of anyone who could have on our behalf." Enduran frowned at her.
"You should learn your place. She is the Queen," snapped the princess as she crossed her arms and looked away from him.
"Both of you seem to have forgotten my place and seek to take it from me by subterfuge rather than force." He whirled around with his cape billowing behind him. "Have it your way. I'll take my leave."
"Where are you going?" asked the Queen with what appeared to be only mild interest. There was a slight strain to her voice that gave away her worry though.
"I have been emasculated enough. I shall seek the company of those who would not silence me on Asguard. Perhaps I shall find my manhood again there."
"Yeah, right," grumbled Serenity as she crossed her arms and stuck her tongue out at him. "Get lost for a while you jerk. Maybe you'll come back in a better mood and show some proper respect."
"Be silent my daughter," said the Queen gently. "Leave him be. I trust he will return and see that our kingdom has become a better place."
Luna was sitting beside the Queen and gave her a sidelong glance. She did not speak up and looked on as the Prince walked out of the room.
Outside the throne room a familiar figure stood leaning against the wall. She had a long staff in her hand that was shaped like a key. "Enduran..."
"Come to stop me?" he asked her as he glanced over at her as he paused beside where she was leaning.
"No, just to wish you luck. I've a feeling your journey will take you farther than you think." She looked up at him with that irritating smile.
"Why are you here anyway? Don't you have a duty to see to?" He looked annoyed with her. She always seemed to know more than she should. He knew she wasn't using the Gates of Time to find out either. She was forbidden, and took her duty very seriously.
"I always have time to stop by and bug you for a bit," she glanced at him and seemed cheerful. "I can tell you're in a bad mood though, so I guess I'll behave myself this time."
"Yeah, yeah." He turned away. "I'll see you when I get back. I still owe you for when you filled the palace bath with all those squid."
She turned her head. "You can't prove that was me."
He looked over his shoulder and smirked at her. "Well, you can't prove it was me who glued you to the wall either. You're a bit too fond of meeting me this way in that spot, and this time it cost you."
She gasped and whipped her head around with her jaw hanging down. "Wh..." She tried to push off the wall, but found herself quite firmly stuck against it.
"Maybe you'll manage to pry yourself off of there before I get back?" he chuckled and put his hands behind his head as he walked away towards the gateway to Asguard. He could use a little time away, and his hands had been tied politically there. He had to figure something out, but he doubted he'd do it at home with his mother looming over him. "See you later."
"Ha! You bastard," Setsuna looked both amused and angry with him at the same time. "I'll get you for this."
"I'm looking forward to it," he commented as he waved one of his hands as he continued down the hallway. He felt a little better now, but his problems weren't solved by any stretch of the imagination.
Odin was clutching his staff and looking down at the young prince. He was seated in his throne. "You would rebel against Serenity over this?"
"It isn't right. I know. I can do nothing. Even I am not such a fool as to attempt such a thing. I may be brash and young, but..." The prince of the Moon hung his head. "I am powerless."
Thor gave a snort and crossed his arms. "It could be done. You are strong and brave my friend."
Loki shook his head. "I will speak to that, but...it would be foolish. I see no good end to such an act."
Enduran nodded and looked very serious.
Thor was annoyed. "Enduran is not powerless."
The prince looked at his peer and kept is eyes low. "You know I would not speak against their strength my friend, but if I were to go against my mother, it would be as foolish as if Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral mounted an attack against your father."
Thor roared in rage as his temper flared. "They would do no such thing!" He gave Enduran a sound thwack on the back of his skull with his fist. Not so much as to knock him over, but he'd be feeling it for a few minutes at least.
Loki gave a frustrated sigh. "He wasn't suggesting they would. Listen, brother, and I shall explain. Their numbers would be too few, and they would face a power that rivals father with all of us fighting at his side. The Queen of that realm has guardians of her own if you recall. The Senshi are quite powerful. It would end in nothing but slaughter, despite our friend's best efforts."
"It is as he says, Thor." Enduran shook his head. He didn't seem bothered about being hit much, but was rubbing the spot on his head.
"Tell me, Prince of Earth, if you had the means and a reasonable chance at succeeding, what would you do?" Odin leaned forward on his throne. He was a little amused, but kept his serious tone.
That caught Enduran off guard. He hung his head and thought for a moment. "I would stand. I have no wish to bring my people to war, but I cannot allow her to silence half of those who live under her rule. To make them little more than silent property, with no voice to speak with, no one to represent them." He shook his head. "I do not fear my mother. She is kind, but we are not Olympians. We are not eternal. One day, her throne will pass down to my sister, and then her daughter shall take it up when her rule has finished. What protections the men of my system have will erode with time and complacency. We will become little more than beasts and slaves with the passage of time. Property for the women to use as they wish."
Odin narrowed his eye a little. "That is a wiser answer than I expected."
"Thank you, your highness," the boy bowed his head. He was a little nervous being under that gaze, but didn't fear for his safety.
"I have seen you looking out over the stars. You seem to search the skies for something, but always in the same place. As if your eyes are drawn to a particular constellation." The King of Asguard sat back in his throne and relaxed. "I know, what it is your eyes fall upon."
"What is that?" asked the young Prince. He looked confused and interested.
"I am cautious with giving this information to you. It is quite dangerous. I fear you may be consumed by that power, or perhaps your intentions will remain pure, but you will still misuse it. I cannot say." He stood and let his staff rest against his throne as he paced back and fourth in front of them. "I had Hemidall cast his gaze to that place. It is an old place, built by your ancestors. It may contain the leverage you need."
Enduran was looking at him with wide eyes. "I...am not sure what to say. You say this power may aid me, but it is dangerous?"
"It can be used to give all of your people a voice, if properly implemented I think. I know Serenity well, and she will understand the significance of it. It is something you must learn, and only that journey can show you. I know little of this, save it is a place built by your ancestors for just such an event. It is said to contain a power that can be used to stand against her power. Though, I doubt it is stronger. What I know of this tells me that it was intended as a way to guard against the Queen falling into darkness, and to keep her power from being absolute." He stopped pacing and looked at Enduran with his unblinking eye. "I also know, that only one of your blood may enter this place, and only a male member of your family."
Enduran looked thoughtful. "It will either get me killed, or give me the leverage I need then."
Odin gave a grave nod. "I'm afraid that is the case. I do not know how your mother would react to such a power in your hands. I ask that you think carefully, and ask yourself just how well you know your mother's heart."
Frigga was standing off to the side and stepped forward. "Take care with that, young Prince. I know you are her son, and her family, but to know someone's heart...you must be able to look past those bonds."
Odin sat back in his throne and relaxed. "The Rainbow Bridge cannot carry you to this place. Strong magic prevents such travel. If you choose to go, you will have to make your own way there."
The Prince of the Moon frowned and turned away. "Thor, I don't suppose I could ask for a lift?"
Loki moved up in stride with them. "As if you even had to ask. The oaf was about to offer anyway. I can tell just from the look on his face."
The largest of the trio slapped his brother on the back earning a small glare. "You know me too well, brother." He looked at his friend. "So, where are we going?"
The trio had exited the great hall and were in the courtyard just outside the throne room. Enduran stopped and pointed towards the sky. "There. I don't know what's there, but that's where we're going."
"Sounds like an adventure, we could use one. It's been days," said Thor with a hearty chuckle.
Enduran froze as an arm lashed out from behind one of the statues. A blade was at his throat and he froze in place. Neither Loki nor Thor looked alarmed. "Going somewhere? What's this about an adventure? Thinking of running off again?"
The Prince's face fell a little as he seemed to get a bit nervous. "Oh, hello, Brunnhilde."
Tony froze in place with wide eyes. "Wait a minute..." He seemed to grow pale. "I...oh no."
Thor was amused. "Ah, a fine memory!"
"What's with him?" asked Rei in confusion.
Usagi looked on as a woman with long golden hair stepped out from behind the statue with a confident smirk on her face. She was beautiful, but also powerfully built. There was a large spear on her back with two scabbards for the blades she was using across the small of her back. She was wearing mail armor and shoulder pads, as well as a winged tiara. "Oh! I...I know her!" She blinked and looked over to notice Tony's shocked state. "Boy, are you ever screwed." She took a few steps away from him.
His head whipped around and he worked his mouth. "Wha? I...oh man. She's gonna be pissed."
Thor nodded with a grave looking frown. "Yes. Perhaps it would be best if we...waited a decade or two before we informed her of your return. Just until that mortal wife of yours expires."
Brunnhilde grabbed the young prince by the front of his shirt and pulled him into her lips. She was wearing a winged tiara and had on armor over her chest. Her hair was in braids down the side of her face and hung down loosely to the middle of her back behind her head. She also had two swords in her hands as she wrapped them around his neck and put her tongue as far into his mouth as she could. "I'm coming along. I heard the whole thing. You're not leaving me behind, and you weren't going to tell me you were leaving." She pulled back and slid her arms off his shoulders until both her blades were crossed over his throat.
He turned his head and blushed a bit. "Damn, got caught." With a small sigh he looked at her cheerful smile as she held her swords across his neck. "Let's be off then. You are welcome, but it sounds like I'll have to go into this place on my own. It's a family thing. I'm just looking for a lift to get there."
She narrowed her eyes at that. "You don't really know where 'there' is. Could be anything along the way, dragons, frost giants, Skrull..."
He shrugged. "Maybe. I'm hoping it's less exciting than that. I suppose I couldn't say though." He gave a good natured grin. "Maybe one of those things might be a bit of fun, but I don't want to overdo it either."
Thor seemed amused at that. "It will make for a better tale when we return if we find more trouble rather than less."
Another woman was leaning against the statue with a smirk on her face. She was just outside of view and looking on in amusement. Her hair was dark, and she had a long cloak covering her body. It was open enough to see she was wearing armor accented with fur underneath, and had a winged tiara of her own, but the wings were smaller than the blonde woman's. "I suppose we should leave before we attract the rest of the boys. I enjoy their company, but it will be a bit crowded with the six of us."
Loki stopped walking and arched his eyebrow. "I agree we've not enough room to accommodate the...heroic trio..." He glanced over at Thor and Enduran as he spoke to the dark haired Asguardian. "There are only five of us. Tell me, Sif, did your muscles get so large that they have restricted your brain's ability to count?"
Sif looked irate, but Thor was amused.
"No, husband, she is more observant than you are apparently." The woman who approached was not wearing armor, but had long golden hair of her own. She was dressed more casually, and had no weapons. A simple white robe hung from her body.
Loki whirled around and looked angry. "Absolutely not. You will remain here. We do not know what lies where we are going and..."
The woman narrowed her eyes and lifted her nose. "I wasn't asking."
Sif and Brunnhilde both looked stern as they moved up to her sides. The dark haired woman spoke up before Loki could add more. "She isn't a warrior, but she has two of Asguard's best to guard her. If that does not satisfy you, I doubt that your brother or the Prince of the Moon will allow her to come to harm either."
Loki growled and gripped at the long metal staff in his hand. He moved up to Sif's face. "Fine. Know this, a singe hair on her head is put out of place, and I shall hold you both responsible. Expect nothing in the way of mercy from me should you fail to protect her." He whirled around letting his cape billow as he moved off looking irate.
The woman balled up her fists. "Loki, enough. I am an Asguardian, and I am not made of glass. I have no desire to spend my life sitting around the palace awaiting your return. I am coming along." She looked at her two guards. "Leave my friends be."
Thor gave a small sigh. "Sigyn will come to no harm, you know we would not allow it. Sif and Brunnhilde will keep watch over her. You worry too much brother."
Loki gave him a small glare. "I meant what I said brother. Take care to ensure Sif does not fail if you care for her."
Thor grunted at that and looked away. "Fair enough."
"What caught your attention about this? It's not like you to come along," commented Enduran as he hung back a little as Thor tried to comfort Loki and sooth his anger ahead of them.
Brunnhilde frowned at him a little and narrowed her eyes.
Sif gave a snorting laugh. "I told you he'd notice," commented the dark haired woman.
"Very well," grumbled the blond warrior as she looked away. "I'm paying for drinks next time then."
The Prince of the Moon smirked at her. "Thought I'd be too busy to pay attention? Out with it, what's Sigyn doing here? I'm not stupid enough to buy that line you fed us about 'wanting to get out'. High King Odin summoned you and told you to come with us. I need to know why if I'm to agree to bring her. Loki is right, and this trip may be very dangerous. I'm not comfortable bringing along someone who has no experience in war."
All three of them looked a little surprised at that. Sigyn nodded and looked away. "You will need my aide to reach your destination. Though only one of your blood may enter that place, they must be allowed inside by one of my line."
The young prince frowned a little and nodded. "This sounds like quite the vault. I'm a little worried about what I might find in this place, and what might be standing in our way. One does not build such a thing and simply leave it unguarded."
"That is why we come," said Sif with a confident air about her.
Brunnhilde looked stern and intimidating as she gave a nod. "Yes. I'd be along anyway, and Sif as well. What does it matter if we have one more?"
"Maybe we should bring along Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun as well?" Enduran looked thoughtful. "We don't know what we're going to run into, but I've got a very bad feeling we're going to run into something. I'm pretty sure there's going to be trouble along the way. Like I said, it'd be dumb to build something like that and just leave it, even as impressive as this lock sounds. Perhaps I should reconsider this trip. I'm not sure something this well guarded is worth the risk."
Brunnhilde belted him on the back of his skull and looked annoyed. "I'd rather face an extra ten thousand Frost Giants on my own than deal with the smell. After all the trouble this has caused, you're going if I have to drag you myself."
Enduran rubbed at his head and nodded. "Yeah, yeah. I get it. Still, I'd take what Loki said seriously if I was you. The two of you look out for her above all else. She's not a warrior, and the rest of us can take care of ourselves. I won't push you, but you'd better be sure putting up with the 'smell' isn't worth having a few extra hands to keep an eye on her."
The largest of the trio of women crossed her arms. "We can look out for ourselves."
Sif nodded and smirked. "See that you remember that yourself."
He looked back and fourth between the two women. "Trust me, I'll have no trouble remembering."
Brunnhilde looked pleased for a moment, but then her face fell. "What, exactly, did you mean by that?" She pulled her spear off her back and pointed it into his back.
Enduran tensed up and glanced over his shoulder. "Hey. Knock it off. I'm done talking. I'm not going to dig myself into a hole running my mouth and then get stuck on a starship with you for who knows how long. You know damn well that I'm not calling you a troll or anything, just forget about it."
She narrowed her eyes and put her weapon away. Sif was shaking her head and Sigyn giggled a little at the sight of it. "Very well, but watch it. I'll not take such crap from you, Prince of the Moon. I've given you enough that I can demand such respect from the likes of you."
The young prince looked annoyed. "Damn. I'm gonna have to be careful. She doesn't know how to take a joke and I'm gonna get creamed if I'm not careful about what I say." He moved back towards Loki and Thor. It seemed as if Loki had calmed quite a bit, but he did notice him giving annoyed glances towards the three women. He understood his friend's feelings. Sif and Brunnhilde could indeed take care of themselves, but he didn't like having Sigyn along very much either. She would need to be guarded and wasn't used to running around with the rest of them. It made him nervous as well, but he was also aware that his friends wouldn't let him back down at that point. He had committed himself to seeking out his destiny, and at the very least, Thor and Brunnhilde would drag him by the heels to wherever it was now that they knew of it. He was pretty much stuck.
Despite all that, he had smirk on his face and sighed as he lifted and lowered his shoulders.
He didn't see Brunnhilde behind him with a smirk on her face and a slight blush on her cheeks. There was no way she was going to let him know it, but she was looking forward to the trip. Asguardian starships weren't frequently used by the Royal family, as they had the rainbow bridge. They also weren't as small as the jokes they had been making implied. Thor's personal ship was a bit bigger than the type the commoners of Asguard used. It would likely take several days to get wherever they were going, and she wouldn't have too much trouble finding an opportunity to drag him off for a little private playtime. It had been a while since she'd last seen him after all. It had pent up a bit, and she'd have to be careful to not hurt him...too badly anyway.
Tony was shaking a little and had his hands over his crotch. He didn't know why, but the look on her face frightened him to the core. "If I'm lucky, she'll just kill me."
Thor gave a nod. "Aye. She's been celibate since your death, and has oft spoken of how she wishes to reunite with you once her time in Asguard is spent."
"What?!" cried Tony as his head whipped around to look at him. "Don't say that! It's bad enough as it is!"
"So, she's like, his girlfriend?" asked Venus as the Senshi all hung back.
"Yeah," Usagi looked really pleased. "She was great! We were good friends! She'll really kill him too...if he's lucky."
Tony looked at Thor. "Loki doesn't know about me, does he?"
"No. Surely you don't think..." He looked a little annoyed.
"I think he would find this rather funny, don't you?" Tony returned the annoyed looking frown with one of his own. "He'd think it a rather fine prank to set her after me and you know it. Don't you dare say a word about me to him. I'm serious."
Thor crossed his arms and seemed to relent. "Very well, I suppose you have a point there."
Queen Serenity stood before an enchanted mirror with a scowl on her face. A familiar figure with an eye patch was looking back at her with a stern expression of his own. "What have you done?"
Odin smirked. "What you feared I would. I gave our son the keys to his birthright."
"That sword..." growled the woman as she gripped the sides of the mirror and seemed very irate.
"I know. It was sealed away for many reasons. Did you think I would turn my back on this?" He seemed a bit bemused and shook his head. "It was intended to be unsealed should such a day pass, and you know it."
The woman backed away. "It is my kingdom. I will do what is best for..."
"Half of your people. No men represent a voice in your government. Enduran told me that even the female servants within the palace were commanded to act as if they could not hear his words. You were trying to make a point I'm guessing?" He sighed and frowned at her. "I shall not interfere. I have no place in it. Do what you think you must."
The woman scowled at him. "Then you know that you may have sent him to his death."
Odin chuckled at that. "You would do no such thing. Serenity, we have long been friends...but..." He sighed and hung his head. "You know I cannot turn my back on my son. I knew of a way to help him, he has proven himself worthy in my eyes, and I do not believe he will abuse that power. I also feel he is right. You seek a fair and simple government, you wish for justice. The Moon Kingdom has long seen men as barbarous and warlike when they have authority. It is chiefly for this reason you have so much trouble with the inhabitants of Midigard. They are ruled by a king, and they are the only planet in your system that is under the control of a male ruler. If you choose to silence them, then you may find peace, but you will never have justice. It will fall further and further from your grip as your descendents tighten their fist ever more."
"Enough of your lectures," growled the Queen as she turned away. "I...cannot say now what I will do. I do not doubt he will return, but I have my doubts he will ever reach that place. A darkness waits for him that I fear he will not be able to pass." She gave him a dark smirk. "I shall welcome him home when he returns, and..."
"His brothers are with him, I've no doubt he will succeed," replied Odin simply. His image faded leaving the woman standing there and glaring at the mirror. She bit her lip and turned away looking frustrated.
Tony Stark was looking at the scene with wide eyes and his jaw hanging. "Wha? What the?"
"How...how can this be?" muttered Thor with an equally shocked expression. "Father?" After a moment his look of surprise faded and he seemed more thoughtful.
"What the fuck?" muttered Tony as he hung his head. Odin's position on the matter made more sense to him now, it had always seemed odd that he'd done something like that for him in the past, but he never understood the god's motivations.
"It makes sense actually," said Thor as he slapped the boy on his shoulder. He had a warm grin on his face. "Strange, I have discovered this, but do not feel as if anything has changed."
"Makes sense?" the boy looked very confused.
"Yes. Children are often sired as a sign of political strength between two worlds. Asguard and the Kingdom of the Moon were very close allies. I've little doubt father cared for Serenity, but your birth was likely political in nature. A sign of trust and a bond between our houses." The demigod seemed to think on it. "It is a surprise to be certain. It is a good day."
Tony looked at him and cocked his eyebrow. "A good day? This is...very...strange."
The God of Thunder nodded. "Aye. Still, now there is more than words and friendship between us. I now call you brother because we share blood."
"Well, maybe. I was reborn, so I'm not sure that's completely right. I guess I can't argue though. What the hell? Odin? I never..." He had never suspected such a thing, and he was never told. He looked at his hand and noticed a pole of iron in his hand. Things were beginning to make more sense, though he still wasn't sure of exactly how he could do some of the things he could do. "It...it's true. Isn't it?"
Next time: The fall of a Kingdom, and beyond...
BTW, that isn't Black Widow with Hawkeye. ^_^