A/N - To American readers and anyone else not yet having seen the Avengers movie, this chapter contains SPOILERS!
Thor wrapped his fingers around Mjölnir, putting so much tension into the motion he was fortunate the handle was unbreakable. He heard the footsteps behind him and it took only a minute to recognize Bruce Banner by the sound of those steps. A human ear would never have heard it, but there was something almost off-key about how Bruce moved, a slight double timbre as if his footfalls echoed. Thor, naturally, had no fear of Bruce's less controlled alter-ego. In fact, he'd quite enjoyed their previous wrestling bout, since it wasn't often that he got a change to put his formidable strength against an equal.
But in his human form, Bruce was actually quite easy to emphasize with for the Thunder God. He was set apart in a manner that Thor could understand, and with his intelligence was somewhat easier to speak with than most. Which reminded him naturally of Jane, and how of all humans she was closer than any to understanding his world.
"Son of Ban." He acknowledged with a tilt of his head as Bruce paused at his side. With an expression between an wince and a smile, he waved a hand. "Just Bruce, please." Speaking with a Thunder God took some getting used to, he thought wryly.
Thor nodded again and turned towards the man, a questioning set to his shoulders. "Loki?"
Bruce chuckled softly. "Natasha is keeping an eye on him, in a mobile containment unit. Not one built for me, amazingly. After her little interrogation trick I think he's actually pretty wary of her."
Thor smiled, though his eyes were distant. "She's a rare human."
It was exactly phrases like that - referring to other people as a human - that tended to throw Bruce. He scratched the back of his unruly hair a little nervously. He'd never related properly to people. Figures and diagrams, he could understand. People had no variables. Thunder Gods even less so.
"Because she makes Loki nervous?" He clarified. Thor laughed briefly. "That also - but anyone who catches Barton's eye is rare in itself."
That surprised Bruce too. From what he'd come to know of Thor, he didn't show respect too often - to anyone. But then, during the battle Bruce had seen Hawkeye shoot an arrow over his shoulder, without looking, and hit a flying Chitauri dead center. Since Bruce couldn't throw worth a damn unless the Other Guy took over, that had impressed him as well. But then he wouldn't have had Thor pegged as a gossip, either. Bruce shifted uncomfortably, occasionally shooting a glance towards the larger man. His expression was guarded, lines etched lengthwise along his forehead, brows drawn close together.
Bruce got it in a flash - not really due to a sense of empathy but because he and Thor were in similar places. In fact, exactly the same place. He understood now why Thor had noticed the quote unquote "couple" in their group.
"What's her name?" Bruce ventured. Thor lifted his brows slightly in surprise, then sighed softly. Bruce was on the mark.
"Jane." He replied simply, keeping the longing out of his tone by force of will. Bruce scuffed his feet against the ground. "You wanna talk about it?"
Thor was silent for so long Bruce worried he wasn't going to reply - but he stayed because Thor stayed, which made him suspect he wasn't going to avoid the topic.
"She's not like anyone I've ever met. No Asgardian is like her, that's for sure. She's a scientist, you would get along well with her. She was the first human to piece together the method of travel we of Asgard used to get to Midgard - Earth. She truly saw me as a man, not as a god. Stayed by my side, though it could only being harm to her and those she loved. At first, I thought it mere curiosity, that I held answers she had been trying to find most her life. But it became more than that. Mayhap I knew it all along, denied the truth to myself. At the time I thought of my banishment here as just that - a place to endure until I could return home. Jane though - ah, she taught me... love. Love for this planet." Thor waved a hand at the wooded area before them as if to indicate the natural beauty, but he didn't think Bruce was fooled.
"You love her." He said, in simple statement. There was a beat before he continued. "And you ought to go and tell her."
Thor looked up, real surprise on his features this time. Bruce smiled stoicly. "We can hold down the fort. Take it from soembody who knows - these things shouldn't wait. Go tell Jane how you feel. I'll cover with Coulson."
Thor clapped Bruce on the shoulder. "I think you are right, my friend. Tread with caution around my brother - for his sake that is. I want him in one piece when we return to Asgard for his sentencing." His blue eyes twinkled and Bruce actually laughed.
Every night, Jane rugged up in a termal layer and padded overcoat, braving the chilly Norwegian nights in the hopes of glimpsing the Northern Lights, one of her many scientific fascinations. The sky overhead was clear this evening, with only a few clouds in the distance. As she had so many weeks ago under the New Mexico sky, Jane retreated to the roof of her lab. It was already dark - she hadn't yet gotten used to the strange day/night cycles here.
Sleep hadn't been coming easy, and so she curled up on a battered old deck chair, covered by a warm woollen blanket, steaming thermos at her side, for third time in as many nights. But though she studied the skies constantly, darkness prevailed.
She knew she ought to be getting sleepy as midnight drew closer, still with no lights. There was a lot of work to get done the following morning, including trying to get a hold of of Phil Coulson and try to get him to tell her what happened in New York. Or at least get him to admit S.H.E.I.L.D. were behind this promotion of hers.
But sleep was impossible knowing Thor was back on Earth (curse it if she almost didn't call her own planet by the name Midgard - Thor really was starting to affect her thoughts) and that any minute, he might come soaring up to her rooftop in search of her.
Which, in fact, was exactly what happened. She heard the soft footfalls on the roof's surface as she was folding the blanket, which dropped from her hands, forgotten, when she turned around.
She had hoped, but she hadn't really believed. But he had come for her. "Am I dreaming?" She asked in a hushed tone, thinking that if she was, she really did not want to wake up. Thor stood on her rooftop looking so unquestionably Thor-like, shoulders braced confidently, deep crimson cape thrown back - his very, very blue eyes on her.
"Jane!" He proclaimed her name so loudly had their been neighbours within earshot they would have complained, and she was in motion the minute he spoke.
Any doubts she had about his feelings and where they stood with one another were vanished away like one of Loki's illusions - seeing him grin just for her and hold out his arms and hearing the boom of his laughter rumble through his chest, music to her ears - she knew he had waited for her, as she had for him. In a very un-Jane-like show of exuberance she leaped at him in joy and he caught her easily, crushing her in his embrace and lifting her off the ground.
Oh, how he had missed her. He thought of how painful it had been when Heindall was his only link to her, when he was stuck on Asgard when all he wanted was to hold her one more time. But now with her really here, arms clinging to his neck, head nestled into the curve of his shoulder, her sweet voice whispering his name - his memory hadn't done her justice at all. He pressed her fragile figure to his brawnier body as tightly as he could without physically harming her, wondering how he would ever have the strength to leave her again.
"If this is a dream, you better not wake me up." Laughed Jane through the tears of happiness that had sprung without warning from her eyes. Thor kept one arm wrapped around her - her feet a good eight inches from the ground, so tight was his embrace - and tenderly raised his free hand to wipe her tears away, then cradle the side of her face. "This could not be a dream. No dream could ever be so beautiful as you."
Laughing still, caught up in the sheer exhilaration of seeing him again, she rested her much smaller hand over his. "Thor - I missed you so much." His heart seemed to stuttered then restart at twice it's usual pace.
"And I you." He managed, trying to find the courage for what he needed to tell her.
Not in all his life had he said this to anyone before.
"Jane Foster - I love you."
A/N - I think I kept you all waiting long enough :D
A BIG thankyou to all my reviewers, even those who just let me know they enjoyed it or couldn't wait for the next chapter, I appreciate the time taken to say so - this chapter is for you guys!
Ruthless - I would have thought so, but it was Kelly who referred to Thor as 'boyfriend' - Jane just didn't disagree, probably because she had no other label to put on what she has with Thor. I believe by that stage the connection they formed was pretty deep though ;)
Starry Eyed - not long :D And I shouldn't tease you and other American fans by saying that I've already seen The Avengers movie twice, should I? :P
Lwolf - she gets a mention but no, she is not in the movie, you're right.
V - Thankyou! I have been purposely leaving out really lengthy description in order to keep the story simple, plus get it to you guys sooner!
Rwar - I don't often lemon it up, leaving it to the imagination, but if there's a high demand I'll think about it more :)