A/N: Last Chapter folks! Perhaps the fact that it's a longer chapter will appease you. Thank you all so very much for your comments, reviews, and support. You all were my muses and kept me writing! I hope you enjoy this one.
It must have been the early hours of the morning. Jane lay in bed unable to sleep – surrounded by ancient books and unable to sleep as she recounted the day's events. It was all too much to take in!
First there was the midday feast. The maid had chosen a simply cut red dress that laced up the sides to hug her figure. A wide, scooping neckline that almost came off Jane's shoulders made her a little self conscious. The collar and knuckle length cuffs were black with red and gold thread knot work creatures. Her hair had been gathered in a roll at the back and held in place with a gold raven pin, exposing her neck and shoulders. Roskva had told her the hammer pendant on a complex gold woven chain was to be worn at Frigga's request. The maid comfortingly offered, "Do not be ill-at-ease, my lady. You are consort to the heir of Asgaard. Now you look the part."
'Consort?' Jane gulped at the thought. The maid's words did nothing to ease Jane's nerves.
When Jane was finally able to see herself in the mirror, she wasn't sure the woman staring back was really her. Her fingers instinctively went to the hammer pendant. At that moment she saw Thor in the reflection leaning casually on the doorframe – obviously pleased with what he saw. Jane turned wondering how long he'd been there and noted Roskva had already slipped away into the shadows.
He strode over and held her at arm's length to get a better look. Then he placed a finger lightly over hers on the pendant. "You do my mother and me great honor by wearing this. It was my gift to her after my first battle and it shows her approval of you." Awe filled Jane. Significance seemed to be in every action here, however simple. She had to be on her toes.
Thor paraded her through the feast hall. The Warriors Three and Sif greeted them, happy to see that Jane was well after the events of the night before. Jane was particularly surprised at Sif's warm greeting. She'd half expected a jealous tinge. Perhaps she could get to know Sif. Then Jane had to try hard to suppress a smile at Fandrall's eager inquiry about Darcy's well being. *
Jane did her best to follow Frigga's example of a calm, purposeful and reserved demeanor despite all the loud boasting, smashing goblets, and hearty face stuffing going on around her.
At the midpoint of the meal, Odin rose and gave a toast – raising his glass to her. "Jane Foster – the first of the primitive mortals in all of history's cycles to travel to our realm, of her own doing. The first of her race to be of assistance to my son in a battle using only her wits as a weapon! You have my gratitude for risking yourself against Jormungandr. To Jane, Daughter of Foster!" A resounding "Skal!" echoed in the hall before goblet contents were downed and refilled.
Jane shyly rose, and touched the hammer pendant for luck. "Thank you. It's an incredible privilege to walk among the Aesir. I know each of you would have done the same for Thor," she looks around the hall stopping at the king and queen. Taking her goblet she lifts it, "To all of Asgaard, for your amazing hospitality and gracious acceptance," Then gazing warmly at Thor, "And to you - Thor, Odin's Son – for helping me learn to believe. I still feel like I have to pinch myself to see if I'm really here by your side. Skal!" As soon as she finished taking a sip, Thor impetuously removed her goblet and pulled her down into a kiss. Her toast was received with approving hoots, hollers, and table bangings. Finally, she was able to sit down and let the wobbling stop in her legs.
Next, they toured the city together on his horse. Jane couldn't get used to the constant deference paid to them everywhere they went. The city's immaculate towering golden shapes reminded her sometimes of musical instruments, sometimes of animals, and sometimes of alien space ships. Fruit trees re-flowered as soon as the fruit was picked. Fountains flowed with sweet water. Minstrels and story tellers wandered the streets. No need could be seen among the people of this spotless city.
The last stop of the tour was Jane's favorite – the library, a set of levitating half circle shaped buildings with enclosed bridges between each section. "Sages here never leave and have no understanding of what happens outside the walls," he half joked.
Jane just covered her mouth to hide the gape after they entered. Its vast selection was overwhelming. The smell of ancient books, book shelves multiple stories tall with floating stools to reach any text, and sages of all races carrying about scrolls older than earth's written history – it all intoxicated her. Jane could feel the thrum of the collective knowledge and she started toward the nearest book case, bound by its spell. Thor grabbed her hand to keep her from being sucked in without a guide. Then he introduced her to the head lore keeper, Myr.
Squeezing her hand and kissing her cheek, his parting whispered words were, "Here among the texts and sages, I see I descend to second in your attentions. You may browse while I meet with the council."
Myr was attentive and happy to see her interest in his domain. He suggested many titles for her general perusal and was of great help in finding passages on the building and maintenance of the Asgaardian bifrost. He even arranged for a snack to be delivered for her.
Late into the evening Thor returned to find her hugging several tomes and surrounded by sages in serious discussion on the nature of the Einstein-Rosen Bridge and her version of the mechanism. Myr quietly stole over to Thor and said approvingly, "It would not surprise me if she succeeds me as head lore keeper. I would like to see the progress of learning in her realm. May I request recommendations from her realm for our library?" Thor patted his shoulder and then ambled over to her.
Behind her back, he conspiratorially pointed his finger down at her head and announced rather loudly, "Continue your deliberations in the morrow. It was only last night that she attacked the great serpent and survived being thrown into the river Ifingr."
Conversation lurched to a halt, before one of the scholars could voice his amazement, "She did?"
Thor nodded earnestly, passing her books to Myr who would forward them to her room. As Thor led her out, he conceded, "Much the same way she has bewitched us all…"
The library was close to Thor's hall, Bilskirnir. During their walk, Thor was the only one to talk and that was only upon reaching the hall. "I almost used Mjollnir to drive off your followers," he pretended to pout to bring her attention back to himself. But, her thoughts were visibly still on the archives. Then to see how far he could push it, "You only care for my library."
"What?" This brought her back and earned him a look of incredulity. "Thor, you're terrible sometimes."
"You'll just have to try harder," she tried to say with mock seriousness but broke into giggles.
He gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head. "I gave my word you would be treated with honor…and I must return to the council meeting," he recalled a touch ruefully, and kissed her hand to bid her good night.
Jane sighs and pages through a book. Its contents look like they might tell her if there's an Asgaardian equivalent of electronics. There just has to be a way to repair her remote…
A loud rap at the door brings her out of her book. "Come in," she responds.
"JANE." It's not Thor's voice, and the force behind it makes Jane sit up and pull her covers up around her. Sif pounds in to the room frustration written on her face. But she manages to put some civility into her words, "You are needed, now."
"Uhm, OK…" she slips a cloak on over her chemise and sticks her feet in her shoes.
Sif seizes her hand and drags her along. "What's wrong?" Jane asks as she tries to keep up. She hopes that she hasn't done anything to upset this formidable woman.
"The council meeting did not end well. The last business concerned you," Sif begins to explain as the two head to the stables, "As much as you have won the hearts of my people – including those of Odin and Frigga – you cannot stay. You two must leave before Thor does something moronic. I cannot bear to see him banished again. Something about your world humbled him – we need that now." Sif gestures to her war steed and commands, "Get up!"
Jane starts to mount the horse and stops standing in the stirrup, "But my remote?"
"Get on, now!"
Jane does as she's told and Sif joins her. As quick as she's on, Sif gruffly kicks the sides of the horse. The creature rears high and Sif expertly coaxes it to a gallop.
Sif expounds as they ride, "Thor returned to Asgaard humbler and wiser. But there was something missing until you returned with him. You are the piece that fills the void for him.
"This 'remote', as you call it, was repaired by a dvergar, a dark dwarf, which had seen you and was instantly smitten. When Heimdall brought back your remote, the dwarf volunteered to work on it. His kind may be able to work miracles, but these boorish creatures always have a motive. The dvergar had the gall to ask for the hand of your first daughter in return for his work. Odin countered and the two came to a settlement. But it set Thor in a foul mood.
"Next, Odin explained to us the cyclical nature of our existence. About the signs of Ragnarok. The foremost of which is Thor's first encounter with Jormungandr. He forbade Thor to keep you here. He wasn't being vicious. It's just that a mortal woman would be a distraction to Thor at Ragnarok. We are reborn afterward. It is unknown what would become of you. He is to return you to your realm with speed and remain there with you. Odin plans to use Thor's absence as an attempt to delay Ragnarok. Its location has always been Asgaard and all of the Aesir are present. Thor challenged his father saying, he is no coward. A verbal brawl ensued. Finally Odin in his anger forbade Thor to ever marry you."
Jane takes in a sharp breath.
"Do not be alarmed. Thor is my closest companion. Like a brother. Though I expected we would be paired someday, I loathed the thought of giving up my warrior status. He was the first to accept me, a woman, into the ranks of the warriors. Thor and I were born to revel in the challenge of a fight. I will not let him down this day, even if I have to beat logic into his skull."
"Gods, we might have to…he'll be in exile. What happened next?" Jane says as the news filters though her brain.
"He stormed out."
"Where is he now?" Jane queries as she finishes absorbing the information.
"Thrudvangr. He often retreats there. He does not always come to the best conclusions in his anger."
Jane bit her lip knowing it was likely all too true.
"Your belief in him - it means more than all the realms to him," Sif stated encouragingly.
Silence, save the hammering of the horse's hooves and its labored breath, filled the remainder of their ride. When they came to an open treeless plain and saw a thunderstorm on the horizon, the two women knew they were close.
A cold wind whipped in from the front in the atmosphere as the storm grew. The clouds threatened with a green hail hue. Lightning and thunder peeled down endlessly. Sif and Jane pulled their wool cloaks in and raised their hoods to prepare for the storm's onslaught.
It was slow going for the powerful warhorse as they pressed in toward the center of the storm cell. Constant bolts streaming down around them lit up the rings of cairns and megaliths that surrounded Thor, but they quickly were falling away as Thor repeatedly slammed Mjölnir against them and roared his rage. It was unnerved Jane to see his anger.
"Odin's teeth! We spent decades making those!" Sif spat as she gracefully jumped down from her horse. "Stay here for now," she yells over the storm to Jane.
"Thor!" Sif manages over the wind and she circles around to face him.
"Leave me!" he bellows threateningly and raises his hammer.
Sif reproves him as she runs toward him, "Don't be a thick-witted half-troll! We know you're no coward!"
"Leave!" he repeats and slams the hammer to the ground causing a wave of earth to head toward Sif. She is able to leap and dodge it, moving past Thor. But the aftershocks are too much for the war horse and Jane. The horse takes off in the opposite direction after the jostle and Jane is knocked onto her back.
Sif knows she only has one chance. Tackling Thor's back, she grabs his head and yanks it in Jane's direction. "Will you harm her in your berserker rage?" she hisses in his ear, as Jane looks up startled from her fall – hood back and drenched. Sif continues, "We came to save you from yourself."
Mjölnir drops from his hand and Sif releases him. The lighting stops and the moon peeks through the quickly dissipating clouds. Sif breathes a sigh of relief as he staggers over through the mud to Jane and collapses on his knees directly in front of her.
Jane is frozen, unsure if she should stay or be scrambling back from him. The look of desperation on his face convinces her to stay. "Do you still believe in me?" the question comes out ragged with his breath and the shakiness of end of the adrenaline rush.
Her hand unsteadily reaches up. Strength returns to her as she makes contact with him and pulls his forehead to hers and she answers, "If I can be your Jane."
"But we cannot …"
"Shh. I already know. I still need to be your Jane."
He scoops her up into a fierce embrace, refusing to let her go and whispers, "Of course."
After a few moments grace for the couple and a chance to catch her breath, Sif clears her throat. "Jane needs to return to Midgaard. Go now."
Jane doesn't want to leave the refuge of his arms, she quietly chants, "Take me out to the black. Tell 'em I ain't comin' back. Burn the land and boil the sea. You can't take the sky from me. There's no place I can be, since I found Serenity…You can't take the sky from me." When she sees their eyes on her she shyly adds, "TV show…"
"A prophecy?" Sif questions.
"No – but it sure seems to fit and I'll watch it with you sometime," Jane looks slightly apologetic as she explains and stands to her feet.
Sif shakes her head not understanding and hands the remote to Jane and turns to Thor. "Had your sanity been with you, I wouldn't have had a chance. This realm has always brought out the berserker in you. Make us proud on Earth. I hope you can see, you may be the first in a colony for our people. Let the peace you last found in Midgaard, settle in you," Sif points to his heart and gives him a kiss on the cheek. He returns it with a gruff hug.
Then Sif grabs Jane's forearm in the warriors greeting, "Watch over this troublesome brute for us."
"I'll do my best." Jane pulls her in for a hug, "You're a true friend, Sif."
Sif steps back giving them a wide berth. When Jane pushes the remote's button and touches the bracelet to it, Thor wraps around her to protect her from the buffeting of the passage.
The two of them arrive in a muddy, wet crumple on the floor of the glass enclosure back at Earth. As they lay there recovering from the trip, Tony Stark and Steve Rogers walk in. They're both suited up for action and arguing. They only pause when they see the couple in the chamber. Jane can see Tony is obviously mad – he's just fidgety with the energy.
"We wondered what the commotion was. Welcome back." Steve asserted as he opened the glass door for them.
Tony wasn't impressed and this wasn't his week. First Jane had disappeared with technology that was partly his before he could see it work, and he had needed to use the power source for a quick experiment of his own. Then she brings back this muddy mess? "Jane, you took the power source without consulting me. And what a disappointing entrance for someone who's supposed to be the God of Thunder. Miss Foster, you can return the palladium core. Now."
Thor looks at Jane inquisitively and she volleys with a laugh, "If you don't, I will." Thor steps out and his big hand clenches into a fist. When he makes contact with Tony's armor, it knocks him through the wall. Thor grins savagely because that just felt so darn good.
Steve cringes at the crash. A scraping sound is heard as Tony gets up and complains, "Now you've done it! You've scratched my new paint job!"
Steve rubs his hand over his head - a little chagrined at his colleague's behavior, "Well that was a lovely introduction, wasn't it? Sorry. Tony's been in a real snit since Pepper broke up with him…again, and then Jane disappeared with the Palladium core. He deserved it, didn't he? I think he was looking for someone to play rough and tumble with. By the way, I'm Steve Rogers…Your time here should prove to be at the very least interesting. Go have it out with him if you'd like. Might do the two of you a world of good."
Notes: * A little nod to Chloes-Cheese and her "Well Aren't You the Freakiest Thing?" fic. /wink
A/N: Now Thor and Tony can pummel each other until they have their frustrations vented, have a drink at the bar, form an odd little friendship, and ready to pummel each other again when ever they feel like it.