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Laws of Conservation

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Steve leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he stared at the TV. "Would you look at that thing."

The news footage had been rolling all morning on the Tower's various flat panel displays in no less than a half-dozen languages. Typhoon Peipah was, at the moment, the most powerful typhoon the Japanese Meteorological Agency had ever recorded, and expected to make landfall in Malaysia within the next twenty-four hours. The spiral of white and deep blue-gray sprawled across the ocean in the satellite images, an implacable monster slowly bearing down on millions of people.

From his place at the kitchen counter, Thor commented, "It is quite impressive."

If Thor was impressed by a storm, everyone needed to be worried. Steve looked back over his shoulder at him. "Is there some way you could get rid of it?"

"Not in the way you may mean," Thor said, and downed the last of a mug of coffee. He was making short work of the pot he'd brewed not ten minutes earlier. "I could redirect the storm, or manipulate it into several smaller ones and scatter those, but that would be dangerous."

Steve frowned and turned so he was sitting sideways on the couch. "Dangerous how? I've never seen anything happen after you've summoned a storm before."

Thor made a low sound and poured himself another mug. He drank the coffee the way other people might drink water, and he also took it straight and far stronger than anyone Steve had ever met. (Stark had tried some once; his horrified grimace as he dumped the rest of the cup down the drain had been the funniest thing Steve had seen in weeks.)

"Small changes such as you have seen me do are not a great risk. This 'typhoon', as you call it, is a different matter. It is a great well in the weather energy of Midgard. Significant changes to it would have a large impact on the rest of the Realm."

"So, conservation of energy is a thing even in magic?"

Thor nodded. "As with science. The methods may differ, but the nature of the universe does not. No matter what I might do to the storm, the power within it would remain and continue to effect Midgard's weather. Perhaps in much worse ways than this."

Steve didn't want to think about what 'worse' might entail. He tapped the remote on the back of the couch while he thought things over. "I assume that also means you can't just," he gestured, "vacuum it up and let it out on the moon, or something."

"That would remove the energy from Midgard itself, which could prove disastrous, to say nothing of the effect it would have wherever I sent it." Thor regarded the satellite footage with a critical eye. "It is difficult to determine the various ways Midgard might respond if I acted on the whole of the storm, and magic performed without a proper understanding and expectation of its full ramifications is the most dangerous kind, especially on a scale such as this." He started to say something, stopped, and his gaze moved to somewhere beyond the large windows along the south wall. After a moment, he continued, "My mother was the most gifted among us at this manner of prediction. My brother was quite adept at it as well."

Steve looked down at the couch. This wasn't exactly the direction he’d expected the conversation to turn, though he supposed it had been some time in coming. He and Thor had never really discussed the events which had preceded Thor's return some months ago, and while like everyone else Steve knew the major details, it was another thing to hear anything about it from Thor himself.

He could appreciate that Loki had died trying to help save the universe, even if he couldn't get particularly broken up over him otherwise (not after New York). Thor's mother, on the other hand, was another story.

"I'm sorry. About your family."

Thor nodded, his expression distant. He was some time in saying anything. "Malakeith was defeated and the Aether destroyed with him. The Nine Realms are safe from his schemes once more." He set his mug down and folded his arms. "So they have not died in vain."

Thinking of Bucky, Steve said, "It still hurts though." He kept his eyes on the couch pattern (an ugly striped thing in orange and gray which Stark insisted was the height of fashion).

"It does." They fell quiet, and the only sound was the low murmur of the news anchors. Then Thor said, "There was a time I would have made all of Svartálfaheimr pay. I would have searched that blighted Realm and overturned every last rock until I was certain any remaining svartálfar understood what Malakeith had taken from us." There was a force behind his voice like the typhoon on the TV, and Steve remembered the evening he’d first met Erskine, when the doctor had asked him if he wanted to kill Nazis. Thunder boomed somewhere in the distance.

Thor looked down at his mug. "But that kind of retribution is unjust, and places blame on the innocent." He sighed, and the tension seemed to bleed out of him. "Those responsible have met with justice, and the Realms are safe. That will have to be enough."

Steve nodded his agreement to all of it, and he saw Thor glance at him, understanding and sympathy flashing in his eyes. They both went back to watching the TV.

"So," Steve said. "Since we can't get rid of the storm, what are our options?"

Thor drained his mug. "Aid those in need. Make small changes to the storm, the kinds whose outcomes I could be certain of, to lessen the more damaging effects. Rebuild what it destroys."

Steve reached for his S.H.I.E.L.D. communicator (which Stark kept calling a 'dumbphone' in some sort of dig at Fury) and said, "Well what are we waiting for?"