Written for a prompt at avengerkink, but really I've been wanting to write something like this for a while. I love crack!Thor and adorable!Thor and clueless!Thor, but I also love character depth and that just because he's blonde and strong doesn't mean he's only a dumb jock. Also, the prompter wanted Thor feels which there will be plenty of.
"I have done as you asked, father," Thor says, kneeling at Odin's throne. He tugs on the Tesseract holder to force Loki to his knees as well. "I have returned to you Loki and the Tesseract."
"You have done well my son," Odin says, pretending that he doesn't see the way Loki flinches at the term. "You have made your family and your people proud with your actions."
"Thank you." Thor keeps his head bowed, and he focuses on the formality, on the expected responses so that he does not think about what he is doing. He has his brother bound and gagged, and he is presenting him to his father for punishment. He knows Loki will not get off easy, he has his crimes against Asgard to answer for in addition to the ones against Midgard, and Thor does not want to consider what life he has sentenced his brother to for bringing him here.
"Is there anything you request of us?" Odin asks.
Thor forces himself not to beg for mercy for Loki. He knows it will have no effect on the Allfather, and it will only anger Loki, so Thor does something cowardly instead.
"I would like to request permission to return to Midgard."
"You are our prince and our heir," Odin says, but it is not a no.
"You still have many years to reign over our realm," Thor says, "and Midgard has now attracted unwanted attention. It has demonstrated that it is ready for a higher form of war, and much of the blame for that lies on my shoulders. I cannot, in good conscience, abandon them to fight the wars in their future alone. I will return to Asgard when I am needed, but in the meantime, I request permission to protect the realm we have carelessly disturbed."
Odin fights a smile as he regards his eldest son. He has grown since his failed coronation, and one day he will be a king Asgard can be proud of.
"I so grant you permission," Odin says. "Will you return to stand as witness and judge for Loki's crimes when the time comes?"
Thor's mind screams at him to say no, but he is not the foolhardy son he once was. He will not defy the Allfather again, even for Loki. He understands the need for obedience to the king, and he knows that showing lenience to Loki, after Loki has tried to take the throne of Asgard, kill Thor, and take over the world Thor has declared under his protection is a sign of weakness he cannot afford. Thor will be king one day, and he cannot set a precedent for forgiving treason.
Thor bows his head, a sign of respect, but also a ploy to hide his face from his father. "As always, I will do as you command."
Thor is subdued when he returns to Midgard—Earth, he reminds himself—and he has no desire to socialize with his teammates. He has much to think about so he is grateful when Tony gives him directions to Thor's room in Stark Tower and does not pester him with questions.
His quarters in the Tower are smaller than his ones on Asgard and much more sparse. He still has a bathing chamber attached to his bed chamber, but there are no fur rugs to keep his feet warm, no paintings of the Bifrost bridge, nothing to remind him of home.
Perhaps it is better this way, he thinks, sitting down on his bed. The mattress sinks with his weight. He has come here to forget about his home, to focus on making himself better king material. He will learn to work with a team, to be a defender rather than an aggressor, and perhaps other things he has not even considered. There is no place for Thor of Asgard here. He is now Thor of Midgard—Earth. He will decorate his rooms in the human fashion.
He goes to SHIELD headquarters, one of two places he can locate in this city that is so different from the ones in his realm. Agent Coulson, who has survived Loki's best efforts to kill him, is Thor's handler. He is not familiar with the term, but he believes it means that Coulson is a man who offers advice and guidance. Thor could use a bit of both right now.
Thor knocks on the closed door three times. "It is I, Thor, and I request permission to enter your presence."
There's a long silence. "Come in?" Coulson says from the other side.
Thor has to be careful when he opens the door, because if he does not limit his strength he can easily rip doors from their hinges.
Coulson is sitting at his desk, but he smiles when Thor enters. "You don't have to be so formal. Just knocking will do."
Thor nods. "Thank you for your kindness."
Coulson opens his mouth to correct him but thinks better of it. Thor's been raised a prince, as royalty for several thousand years. It's probably way too much effort to try and break him of his diplomacy. Besides, with Tony Stark as one of the Avengers, they could use all the diplomacy they could get.
"How can I help you?" Coulson asks.
"Do you have a currency exchange here?" Thor asks. "I have need of Mid-human items, and I wish to exchange my gold for your paper money."
"Oh, there's no need for that," Coulson says. "We've set you up with your own account. I'd meant to explain it all to you," Coulson pauses as he rummages through his desk. He produces a folder full of bank statements, a check book, a debit card, and several other things Thor might need. "Here you go."
He pushes the folder across the table, and Thor eyes it with disdain. Thor has not come here for gifts or to beg assistance from the humans. He is the Crown Prince of Asgard, and he has no need for funds to be given to him. He will exchange. His pride, his family's pride, the reputation of his realm will accept nothing less.
"I appreciate your generosity, but I would rather do the exchange," Thor says.
Coulson frowns, because who refuses a paycheck, and then he sees the tight line of Thor's lips, the slight narrowing of his eyes, and he gets it. Royalty. That's who. He reminds himself to read up on human monarchies so he doesn't make mistakes like this too often. He doesn't want to be responsible for causing an intergalactic incident.
"It's not a gift," Coulson says. "You are a member of the Avengers which means you're a part of SHIELD. Like all SHIELD employees you receive a stipend, our thanks to you for helping to keep the world safe. It is designed to cover basic costs like housing, food, clothing, and any other minor items you might require. Every member of the Avengers has a personal account."
Thor smiles and picks up the folder. "I am honored by your thoughtfulness. Might I ask one last question of you before I take my leave?"
"Of course," Coulson says, relieved that that worked.
"Where might I find a store to purchase items for my quarters?"
Thor takes the handwritten directions from Coulson, assures him that he can in fact navigate a city, and embarks on his mission. His destination is a place called HomeGoods, and the name at least is promising.
He follows the flow of people and learns that when there is an orange hand it means he cannot cross the street and when there is a white person he is allowed to walk though he must still be careful, because the cars here do not always follow the prescribed rules. He is not too worried, because he survived being run over by Jane, but he is not eager to repeat the experience.
He learns that the walking signals are connected to the car signals and that red means stop, green means go, and yellow appears to mean speed up so you do not get caught at the red light. He also learns that humans enjoy forcing their cars to make extremely obnoxious noises when something does not go their way.
He makes it to HomeGoods without incident, and he watches as the woman in front of him takes a four wheeled contraption and pushes it in front of her. He takes one for himself, realizing very quickly that it is for storage and transportation purposes.
He also realizes that he is quite overwhelmed. There are stacks of products surrounding him in aisles, and he is not sure where to begin.
"May I help you, sir?"
Thor looks down to see a young woman standing next to him, a bright smile on her face. She has a pin that says 'Hello, my name is Maria'.
"Hello, Lady Maria. I am looking to decorate my living quarters, and I do not how to go about it."
Maria blinks, because did the blonde stud just call her lady? And was he just polite to her? She's not sure which is stranger, but she ups her smile, because if she can spend the next hour helping him then she won't have to man the register and have her boss pester her.
"Well, let me help you. What does your room already have?"
Lady Maria gives him a ride to the Tower, because he has too many items to carry home, but the security system does not permit her entrance. He apologizes, but she only smiles and tells him to come by any time he wants, and she leaves him to carry his things to his quarters.
He arranges his purchases, and his floor is littered with cardboard and plastic and these squishy white things that kept the breakable items protected while they were in their packages. This is different from Asgard where when he wants an item he goes to a craftsman and requests it. This process is much more efficient, but the objects he has are not originals, and they lack some of the beauty of handcrafted items.
He starts tapping nails into the walls, careful not to send them straight through and uses the nails to hang several pieces of artwork he has found. One is a painting of a beach with the sun rising over the water, another is of a pasture of horses, another is a black and white print of a city with a girl running through the streets with an umbrella. Her red coat is the only color in the portrait.
He hangs up two face masks Lady Maria had pointed out as a joke but they remind Thor of war trophies so he purchased them anyways. They are not similar enough to make him long for home, but they are a reminder that he is not a human, and this is not his permanent home. He is stepping back to admire them, the colors and the fierce expressions when someone enters his room.
"Wow," Tony says, looking around the room. It is a clash of time periods and styles, and he's not sure whether to laugh or hire an interior decorator. "I love what you've done with the place. Kind of."
Thor is not looking for the approval of others, and he does not appreciate his room being entered without permission being given. He had learned very early that even childhood enthusiasm was not an excuse to burst through doors uninvited.
"I thought it'd be more medieval," Tony says, walking around, inspecting what Thor's done. He pauses at the lava lamp sitting on the bedside table. A smirk tugs at his lips. "Huh."
"Lady Maria was very helpful," Thor says, grunting as he lifts up the large plant he'd gotten. The leaves reached up and over his head, and he tried to remember whether he was supposed to put it in direct sunlight or not.
"Lady? Lady Maria? Come on, big guy, I know you're from another world, but we don't call women lady here."
Thor shrugs. "She did not seem to mind, and I have seen the way you treat women so forgive me if I do not take your advice."
Tony is playing with the water garden, and he turns to look at Thor. "Did you just insult me?"
Thor offers his best, 'I'm a harmless god' smile, because if he has understood his research correctly, the surname Stark means that Tony is the human equivalent of royalty. He has a business empire that stretches across the realm, and it is not the same as being a prince, but it is close enough that Thor cannot afford to give offense.
"That was not my intention," Thor says. "Forgive me if you took my words in that manner."
Tony frowns at him, because this is not the Thor he was expecting. He's used to the hammer wielding warrior, and this is way too docile. "You're apologizing? I thought your idea of diplomacy was limited to smashing things with your hammer."
"Times of war require different actions than times of peace," Thor says. "You met me under less than ideal circumstances, but I am Asgard's representative on Earth now."
"Huh," Tony says, taking his fingers out of the fountain and wiping them on his pants. "Well, Asgard's representative, would you like to join the team for dinner?"
"I am honored for the invitation," Thor says, "though I do not have anything to bring to the table so I fear I must decline."
Tony's getting a headache. He's already had to wrestle Bruce out of the lab, pull Clint down from the rafters, and track down Natasha so that Steve can have his perfect family dinner. He'd saved Thor for last, because he thought it'd be easy. Mention food and the god would go running. Apparently not.
"This isn't some formal banquet," Tony says. "Besides, it would be rude to say no. You'd hurt Steve's feelings."
Thor weighs which offense is worse, not bringing an offering to the dining table or refusing an invitation. He is going to decline, more politely this time, when he remembers the store he passed outside the Tower, the one that is full of mead.
"I will be there," Thor promises, "but first I must get something."
Everyone is sitting around the kitchen table when Thor returns, and he sets two 24-packs of Budweiser down on the table between the ham and the potatoes.
"I am grateful for your invitation to dine with you, and I hope you accept my offering," Thor says, bowing slightly to Steve before taking his seat.
Steve stares at the beer and then at Thor and then back at the beer. "Why is there alcohol on my dinner table?" He turns to Tony. "Did you put him up to this?"
Tony throws his hands up. "Why do I always get blamed for everything? I had nothing to do with this!"
"It has you written all over it," Natasha points out.
"Can we not fight?" Bruce asks, a heavy sigh in his voice. "I came here for food, and because Steve said it would be good team bonding."
Thor does not understand why they are bickering over his offering. He has done what custom dictates and—oh. He knows that there are cultural differences between Asgard and Midgard, but he had not realized how far reaching they might be.
"I apologize," Thor says picking the beer up off the table. "I believe I have made an error. You do not require offerings when you gather to dine."
"No," Bruce says, because he's figured out what's going on. "We say thank you by helping out with the dishes or offering to cook the next time."
"I see. Thank you for your insight." Thor puts the beer on the counter, but he takes a bottle for himself to wash his meal down with. He has few hopes for it tasting like the mead of home, but he does not trust the water, no matter how many times his teammates claim it is safe to drink.
"You have a lot of learning to catch up on thunder boy," Tony says, clapping Thor on the shoulder.
A low grumble escapes Thor's throat, and he knocks Tony's hand off. "I am not a boy."
Tony might be a foreign dignitary, but Thor will not stand to have his masculinity insulted. He is a prince, an ambassador, and a teammate. He deserves more respect then Tony is giving him.
"Okay!" Steve says, clapping his hands together, a fake smile on his face. "Let's all sit down and eat."
"Look at him being all leader-like," Tony says with an indulgent smile. He sits down and points to Thor's fork. "That's called a fork. It's an eating utensil. Do you eat with your hands on Asgard?"
Thor has plenty of experience ignoring irritating presences at his side, he did grow up with Loki after all, so he drowns Tony out and watches his other teammates to see how they dine on Earth. He becomes confused quickly, because Steve uses a fork and a knife to cut his ham, but Natasha only uses a knife, and Clint just stabs his ham with his fork and takes bites off of the chunk.
Thor decides it is best to follow Steve, as he is their leader, and he picks up the cutlery in his hands and begins to cut his ham into small pieces.
The table falls into silence, and Thor cannot help but miss the rambunctiousness of the Warriors Three and Sif. He even misses Loki who spent most meals poking Thor or using magic to try and get Thor to lose his temper. He reminds himself that he is no longer on Asgard, he has made the choice to live on Earth, and he needs to become accustomed to new customs and new friends.
He makes quick work of his beer, and he remembers not to throw it on the ground when he finishes with it. He finds himself missing Darcy and Jane and Eric Selvig as well. They were the first humans he met on this planet, and they had been kind to him. They had assisted him even though he must have come across as crazy to them, and they had showed him kindness and compassion and other qualities he had assumed were weak.
It reminds Thor of his interrupted coronation. It had finally been his opportunity to rise to the position he had been groomed for since birth, and not only did the end day without his ascension to the throne, but he had been cast out of his home as well. It had not been easy to be stripped of everything that made him who he was—his hammer, his power, his rank, his family, even his home—and banished to a realm he had no knowledge of.
The humans are tiny and weak compared to him, but he had been lost and dependent on their help. Darcy and Jane did not have to offer it to him, but they did without regard to their own well-being. These humans have weak bodies, but not weak minds, and they have taught Thor lessons he had not even realized he had needed to know.
He wishes his teammates were like Darcy and Jane. He had found companionship easy with the ladies, and their faith in him had allowed him to find faith in himself. Natasha and Clint sit on the other side of the table, engrossed in a conversation meant for the two of them alone while Tony and Bruce speak about science, a language Thor does not understand. Steve sits as the head of the table, a smile on his face as everyone gets along.
Steve is a worthy leader, but he does not require the companionship of others, and Thor finds himself alone. He had not expected to find this feeling on Earth, surrounded by millions of humans, but he is lonely. These people have little in common with him now that they are not fighting, and he longs for the battle odes from feasts on Asgard or even Loki's silky whisper in his ear.
Whenever Thor thinks of his brother his stomach twists, a knot of pain and anger, of frustration and regret that make him long to both gather his brother up in an embrace and wrap his hands around Loki's throat. He does not understand why events had to unfold the way they did.
Thor understands Loki's resentment that the throne would go to Thor, but he had not expected Loki to plot to steal it away. Thor does not understand Loki's reaction to learning he is not a true son of Odin. He is still Thor's brother, still family. Had Thor not proved that when he grabbed Loki to keep him from falling off the Bifrost bridge? Had Thor not made it clear that Loki has always and will always be his brother and there this is nothing that cannot be forgiven? He still does not understand why Loki let go. He knows that his brother has his pride, and Thor knows a thing or two about the danger of pride, but he had never thought Loki's pride would keep him from being rescued.
Thor knows where his thoughts are headed, how they are going to delve into Loki's attempt to conquer Midgard, and he knows that he is going to analyze every look, every movement, every word from Loki's mouth to determine if Thor could have done something different to produce a more joyous ending.
He does not want to be in the presence of others when his emotions take hold of him, as they always do when Loki is concerned.
Thor stands up, and it attracts the attention of everyone at the table. Thor directs his question to Dr. Banner, because he appears to be the most helpful in assisting Thor with understanding Midgardian customs.
"What should I do with utensils and plate when I am finished eating?"
Bruce looks at the half-full plate. "That seems like a question for when you're actually finished eating."
Thor's eyes flash, and there is a crackle of electricity in the air as he regards Bruce, all hint of diplomacy and friendship gone. "Do you question me mortal?"
"No need for the scary god tricks," Tony says, intervening before things get out of hand. "We're all friends here."
"You can leave the plate on the table," Steve says, his voice calm, steady, pacifying. "I'll take care of it. Is everything all right?"
Thor storms out of the room and heads up to the top of the Tower. He welcomes the open space when he exits the roof door, and a slight breeze picks up, ruffling his hair as he lets some of his anger trickle into the weather. He is careful not to unleash a full storm, but he lets the skies cloud over, casting the city into darkness.
What he wants is to sink to his knees and let a storm rage around him, but he has better control than that. He wishes he could go on a hunt or find someone to spar with to work out some of the excess energy building inside of him.
More than that, he wishes that he was home, but he knows that cannot happen. He knows exactly where Loki will be held, down beneath the throne room, confined to a prison cell while Odin sits on his throne and holds court. Thor knows exactly how to free Loki, where to bring him so no one can find him.
He also knows that the Allfather needs him to be Thor, Prince of Asgard, not Thor, brother of Loki. He has responsibilities that supersede the bonds of brotherhood so Thor will stay on Midgard and hope it is far enough away that he can resist the temptation to rescue his brother. It helps to remember that his brother will not look on him kindly for a rescue.
Thor presses his forehead to the pebbles covering the Tower roof and asks Odin for assistance with the burden he has been tasked with shouldering. He asks for the strength of mind and will to match the strength of his body.
He does not receive an answer.