Chapter 1: Introduction: Danica
All That I Can Say
M. Greystone (Lavender_Persimmon)
I don’t own anything except original characters. But man, if I did own Marvel and all its goodies…The mind boggles!
Author’s Note: This takes place in Thor and Iron Man movie-verses, but not necessarily X-Men’s. You’ve been warned! Also, the introduction is not movie-verse present day, which you’ll see as you read. Please enjoy!
Odin, Allfather and King of the Asgardian Realm, eyed the young woman kneeling in front of him, the golden vastness of his throne room sweeping beyond her, silent now in the aftermath of the previous day’s festivities.
“Are you certain you know what you are about to embark upon, child?” he asked her, the pale gold sheen of her hair shifting as she nodded and looked up at him. Her icy green eyes were clear, devoid of the hurt he’d seen in them yesterday, the pain of betrayal burned away to leave a calm that concerned the ancient god. He had watched her grow through the eighteen summers of her life, always smiling and pleasant, a true companion and friend to his sons as the three had grown up together, comrades since her father had arrived in Asgard to begin as Odin’s Master of Arms.
“I know as much as I can, Your Majesty,” Danica Haraldsen replied, feeling slightly uncomfortable in the strange blue trousers, soft tunic and jacket and laced-up white leather shoes that she remembered from her research were called ‘jeans, t-shirt and blazer, and sneakers.’ They were a far cry from the elegantly embroidered dresses and tunics she normally wore, but it would be necessary that her clothes blend and raise no suspicion where she was going.
Odin sighed and stood, the guardsmen flanking his throne standing even straighter as he descended the stairs of his dais and offered her his hand as he helped her to her feet. “Very well, Lady Danica. Since I cannot sway your decision, nor do I wish to deny your request as you seek to serve the well-being of Asgard by making this endeavor, I offer you blessings instead. I will speak with you when you arrive and are settled in Midgard.”
“Midgard?” a voice said incredulously from the entrance to the chamber, the disbelief ringing through the empty room, and Danica frowned as she turned to face her betrothed, her sneakers squeaking on the gleaming floor.
Fandral strode quickly through the throne room, worry marring the clean-shaven perfection of his face. “Danica, what clothes are these? And what reason do you have to leave for Midgard?” he shook his head, his blond braid swinging against his shoulders.
She glared at him, amazed that a man of a score-and-one could be so dense. “My reasons are my own,” she replied acidly. “You have nothing to worry about now, my lord. I leave you to your own devices. You can go whoring as you please without the hindrance of so silly a thing as a wife.”
“Danica, please let me explain—“ he began, the sadness he could see buried in her eyes cutting him as it had yesterday, the day that should have seen their wedding, except everything had gone wrong.
She held up a hand, the tears she wanted to let slip burning in her throat. “There is nothing more I want to hear from you, Fandral. I release you from our betrothal.”
His brows drew together even as his eyes widened, the tall warrior staring down at her. “I do not accept this. Our betrothal—“
“Is a sham because of you!” she fired back, pushing him away from her. “You broke it the instant you decided to bed that slut I called friend! And on our wedding day?” she hissed. She shook her head, closing her eyes for strength before she faced Odin once more. “Thank you for this opportunity, Allfather. I will not fail you.” She curtseyed and managed a smile when he pulled her into an embrace.
“Safe journeys, my lady,” the old god smiled, releasing her.
Danica nodded, never looking at Fandral, who stood with bowed head, as she turned and left the hall, the silence swallowing the echo of her footsteps.
When she had gone, Fandral faced Odin, his shoulders slumping as he shook his head. “She will not let me speak nor let me explain,” he said.
“You have hurt her deeply,” the king replied, leaning slightly on his golden staff, Gungnir.
Fandral’s lips thinned. “It was not as she thinks, Majesty! I would not disgrace her as she believes I have! Something is amiss, and I know not how to understand what happened!”
Odin sighed and settled a hand on Fandral’s shoulder as he escorted him to his solar. “We shall talk then. But, I believe it best to let Lady Danica walk her own road for now, allow her to gather her thoughts and gain her footing. Perhaps, in time, you can win her again, and we shall have an even larger celebration than what was begun yesterday.”
“My king, she and I are no longer betrothed. She will not have me even if I wait a lifetime,” he insisted with all the exaggeration of youth.
The Allfather lifted his brows as he tilted his head. “Has she announced your parting publicly? Declared the betrothal annulled?”
Fandral blinked, looking at the other man as if he doubted his sanity. “You heard her but moments ago, Your Majesty. Are you not witness enough for such a statement?”
Odin rolled his good eye. “What did I hear? I am an old man, Fandral, and you young people mumble so.” He shook his head. “Did you and Danica have a falling out?”
The man in the green of a hunter grinned. “Aye, Your Majesty, we did. But ‘tis nothing I cannot set aright and win the lady’s heart once more.”
Odin chuckled, patting his shoulder as they walked. “Good lad. Now, tell me what happened to cause your lady such grief?”
Chapter 2: Chapter 1
Where Danica has a dinner guest.
Author’s Note: Suspend your disbelief! In this universe, the X-Men are well-established and Kitty Pryde has gone on to work with the British superteam, Excalibur. If you haven’t read it, especially the “Cross-Time Caper”, I recommend it!
All That I Can Say: Chapter 1
Disclaimer: Nope, still own nothing except original characters. *sigh*
S.H.I.E.L.D. Field Office
The dusky scent of hazelnut coffee wafted through the computer lab and Danica grinned at the groan of happiness she heard from the doorway as Jane Foster leaned against the doorframe.
“And you added cinnamon to it, too, didn’t you?” the petite astrophysicist asked, moving forward like a sleepwalker underwater until she stood beside the coffee station.
“Yes and there are chocolate chip bagels also, if you need a snack,” Danica replied, checking the figures on her notepad to the ones in the simulation on her computer.
“You are a goddess,” Jane smiled, pouring coffee into her travel mug and stuffing a napkin-wrapped bagel into the pocket of her hooded sweatshirt before making her way to Danica’s desk. She frowned, cocking a hip and taking a sip of her drink as she studied the sim while it ran.
Both women winced as the pixelated characters standing beside the CGI dimension gate were obliterated by an explosion, leaving the screen dark.
“Too much power?” Jane guessed, arching an eyebrow and sighing.
Danica tilted her head and shrugged. “Not from our end, no. We have plenty to keep up our side, but we get overwhelmed by the energy coming across from Asgard and it blows our buffer system. Forget being blown to bits after entering the wormhole, that happens way before you ever set foot through the portal.” She groaned and scrubbed her fingertips over her face, then reached back and idly re-twisted her hair into its claw clip as she re-evaluated her calculations. “Is Tony coming in today?” she asked, looking up and beside her at Jane. “I need to speak with him about the arc reactor progress.”
Foster shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. But, a friend of a friend is going to be working with us briefly to help with the portal technology,” she said, brightening.
“Who?” Danica asked, pushing up from her desk to walk around the lab for a minute. She’d been sitting at the desk longer than she’d like to admit, and this latest setback had started to pick at her already frayed nerves.
Jane shrugged and took Danica’s seat, pulling up a dossier. “Her name’s Kitty Pryde. Apparently she’s some kind of uberkind who’s friends with my friend Hank McCoy.”
“He’s the geneticist, right?” Danica asked, looking over Jane’s shoulder at the picture of the man covered in blue fur and sporting silver spectacles, and her friend nodded.
“Kitty is a math and computer whiz and she works in Britain at the moment with a team of heroes, who have had some dimension-hopping experiences I’m told. Hank thinks she could help,” Jane replied, pinching off a piece of bagel from her pocket and chewing.
“We could use the extra set of hands,” Haraldsen agreed, propping her palms on the back of her hips and walking over to look at the raised platform that held the gleaming silver archway their team was constructing to open a gateway back to Asgard. Wires trailed off of it, connecting the metal to banks of monitors, and she smiled at the tiny silver Mjolnir charm someone had fused to the side of the gate.
Seeing the small pendant with its intricate scrollwork pushed at something in her heart and she bit her lip and turned away. “I’m going to take a walk for a minute, if that’s alright,” she told Jane, pasting on a smile when her friend looked over at her in concern.
“You okay?” the other woman asked, frowning and tucking her straight brown hair back over her ears. “No offense, but you look like someone just stomped through your garden.”
Danica pasted a smile and even managed a chuckle. “No, it’s nothing. ‘Girl Week’ coming up, I think. I’ll take my phone with me, if you need me. I’ll be right back,” she assured her, already walking towards the door.
She pushed her hands deeper into the long cardigan she wore over her slacks and blouse, her heels tapping on the sterile floors of the corridor as she hurried through the halls, the need to be outside crushing her like a hand clutching her throat. She waved her pass at the reader on the wall by the outer doors, sucking in humid, chilled air when she could finally step out into the gray day wrapping around the building.
S.H.I.E.L.D. had built this field office on an island just off the coast of Northern Oregon, near Astoria. The complex was edged with trees but overlooked a steep cliff face that shot straight down into the foamy crash of ocean below and was a cover for a hangar hidden behind the rocks. The location was close enough to civilization that they could go for supplies or evacuate local population if necessary, though the latter thankfully had never happened, but isolated enough that they could keep a watch out for any tourists or curious government theorists that might be wondering what the massive collection of buildings brooding over the island were.
Danica closed her eyes, turning her face up to let the mist hanging in the air kiss her skin before looking up at the rolling gray clouds that were heavy with rain. Her lips twisted as she stepped off of the concrete walkway surrounding the science building, suddenly not caring that her black suede heels were probably going to get soaked as she walked through the grass. She needed to see the water below, feel the wind tug at her clothes and get lost in her thoughts if only for a few minutes.
She knew cameras were following her every move, security teams were tracking her steps, but she paid them no heed as she walked, the tension she’d built up in her shoulders dropping away as if the winds were pulling it out of her. A rumble of thunder overhead brought a wry smile to her face and she wrapped her arms around herself as she stared down at the churning of Cathlamet Bay. “I miss you, my friend,” she murmured, the flicker of lightning overhead skipping around the edges of her vision. “And gods, do I miss home,” she added, looking up.
It had been decades since she’d visited Asgard, the last trip over the Bifrost occurring at some point in the 1980’s, when fashions on Earth favored pastels with large shoulders and hair was curled and teased into a farce of attractiveness. She’d not stayed long in the White Kingdom, merely a day and night before returning to Earth. Long enough to visit her parents, have dinner with the Royal Family, and a brief meeting with Odin concerning her continued research of the human race. Short enough to return through the portal before anyone else knew she was there. Or so she’d thought. She’d winced, turning back for a brief glance when she’d heard Fandral call her name just as the icy breath of the cosmos had pulled her through the gate, Heimdall watching them stoically as the Warrior had stormed into the gatehouse, his teeth bared in a snarl behind his goatee.
“I’m sure home misses you also,” Loki smiled, laughing softly when she jumped and looked beside her at the man in a black suit with a dark emerald shirt beneath, a heavy black wool three-quarter length coat covering the Savile Row creation.
Danica grinned back, reaching out her hand for his and squeezing it. “I haven’t seen you in a little while. How are you?”
He shrugged, still smiling, the black leather of his glove warming her skin. “Fairly well. Though I’d rather be off of this cliff and out of this wind.”
She laughed and nodded. “Well, then off with you, my friend. Shall we have dinner at my house later, then?”
“I’ll bring our usual,” the prince replied, inclining his head towards her and disappearing in a brush of wind, scattering like coal dust laced with emeralds.
Danica chuckled to herself, smiling on an exhale and feeling a bit more renewed with the surprise of a guest waiting for her. She looked up again at the growing storm, and the smile turned wistful for a moment, her thoughts touching briefly on Loki’s brother. “Wish you were here, also,” she murmured, the breeze dancing her words away as she turned and walked back to her lab.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
Dinner at Danica's. Heimdall likes to watch.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 2
Disclaimer: *eyes house* nope, still own nothing Marvel-ous.
The storm that had been threatening all day finally opened up just as Loki stomped his feet on Danica’s front mat, and he glared behind him as lightning flashed beyond the cottage’s covered porch, a resounding clap of thunder echoing through the neighborhood. He turned away to ring the bell, his other hand clutching a plastic grocery bag full of Chinese take-away.
Danica opened the door moments later, the clean scent of just-brewed green tea wafting out to him, and she smiled as she stepped aside to invite him indoors. “I’ve missed you,” she said, leading the way to the kitchen where she’d already set out bowls and chopsticks on the island, her green cast-iron teapot sitting beside cups on its own trivet. “I’ve been a bit homesick lately, and with the Bifrost needing to be repaired…” She exhaled shortly, shaking her head as he set the bag down and shrugged out of his coat, draping it over the back of one of her breakfast nook’s chairs.
The cottage was warm and comfortable, a place where it wouldn’t be unlikely to find a bowl of tumbled crystals on a shelf alongside a copper prayer wheel from Tibet and a ceramic frog with its hands over its eyes. Trees nestled around the house, shading it in the summers and providing a quiet refuge to enjoy the hammock Danica had strung up so she could read in the quiet and enjoy her home. Her style of decorating was eclectic and inviting, though not cluttered. She preferred soft, plush fabrics in deep jewel colours with warm amber tones in the wood of the furniture, hand-hooked rugs scattered over the floors to soften steps and ward off any chill. And while the house was an enviable oasis, the garden was her pride and joy. She’d started an herb and vegetable garden in the backyard when she’d moved in in the early 80’s, bringing some of the smaller plants indoors in pots to decorate the kitchen and living room. An Asgardian apple tree enjoyed sunshine beside her breakfast table, the blossoms it produced on a daily basis scenting the room, though it only sprouted a single golden apple every six months. Danica had been on Earth for just over fifty of its years, though she only aged one for every decade because of her tree. She had made an agreement with the goddess Idunn, who sent the apple to keep her from aging quickly. “It’s just hard to believe the Bridge could be broken and that Jotuns managed to invade,” Danica continued. “I can only imagine the rage Heimdall is feeling at such a breach.” She touched the prince’s arm, smiling. “I’m grateful that you and the family fared well and were not harmed.”
Loki offered a small smile in return, relieved that she believed the tale he had woven, though he wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep the truth from her. It had been nearly a full year on Midgard since the Bridge had been broken while only a few months had passed in Asgard. He knew she had not spoken with Odin in several years, as the trickster god was sure she didn’t think the invention of various 4G devices or heroic guitar video games warranted a council with the Allfather, nor had she returned home for a visit. She had stayed on Midgard and missed what would have been his brother’s ascension to the throne, unable to get away from responsibilities within S.H.I.E.L.D. and not raise suspicions. The far-reaching organization kept tabs on its employees, sometimes even when on vacation, and with the new Avengers Project she had been helping with before becoming a part of Jane Foster’s team, she knew that falling off of the radar, so to speak, would cause some kind of difficulty for herself. So, thankfully for him, she knew neither of his brother’s short-lived exile on this planet, or of his own casting-out from the White Kingdom. He had told her of the destruction of the Bifrost, blaming it on an invasion by the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and saying, truthfully, that Thor had been the one to shatter the Rainbow Bridge with Mjolnir. And his story of the invasion had its own shard of truth, did it not? Though Danica need not know that Loki was behind the trickery. She would never forgive him, he was sure. And as he watched her move around the cozy smallness of her kitchen, spooning dinner into bowls for them and moving lithely through the room in clinging yoga pants and a soft pink cashmere sweater, he admitted he had no desire to ever tell her.
“The battle was fierce,” he said simply. “And the enemy was finally cast out of Asgard, though how long it will take to restore the Bridge is a question I cannot answer.”
She nodded, poking chopsticks into the lo mein noodles in his bowl. “It will be fixed when it’s supposed to be fixed,” she smiled. “For now, let’s go watch a movie and enjoy the company of old friends.” Her eyes fell on a round bamboo basket she’d missed from taking out of the bag, and she lifted a questioning smile to him as she opened it and found peach-shaped steamed buns, the aroma of dough and lotus paste drifting from the blushed pastries.
“For dessert,” he shrugged, smiling also. “I know you enjoy sweets. And besides, as they are a symbol of longevity; I thought you’d enjoy the joke.”
“You are too amusing, my lord,” she said, setting the dishes on a tray as he picked up another for the teacups and baozi and they moved into the den.
“So they say,” he returned. “Do you want me to build a fire?” he offered, eyeing the dark hearth that echoed with gusts of wind from the storm without.
Danica looked up from where she was loading a disc into the player under the television. “Would you? That would be marvelous, thank you.”
He smirked and flicked his hand at the logs and kindling piled neatly in the grate, a blaze immediately springing to life and warming the room. He smiled at the sound of Danica’s laugh as she sat on the couch beside the man in jeans and sweater, his boots left by the door. She handed him his dinner and turned on the T.V., the two sitting comfortably close as their movie started, and the thunder outside settled into a quiet grumble.
Heimdall’s golden eyes stared impassively out at the drift of universes around the kingdom, his massive hands settled around the hilt of his sword, Hofud, as he stood at the nearly-repaired edge of the Bifrost. The Allfather had lent him a small portion of the Odinforce to repair the Bridge and the Observatory, which even now was starting to re-form in a delicate webwork of scaffolding that would soon become the golden dome and tower once more.
The guardian never looked away from the stars as he listened to the footsteps drawing close to him, the susurration of the approaching warrior’s cape not noticeable to others, but to Heimdall it was like a shout in a cathedral.
“My lord,” he greeted, feet planted firmly as he stared straight ahead.
“Heimdall,” the other responded, folding his arms, the leather of his armor creaking against the metal braces above it. “How does my lady fare?” he asked, the time for pleasantries ages past. The dark-skinned man in gleaming gold knew why he was here, why he walked this bridge every day for knowledge of the woman trapped apart from him.
The watcher almost sighed, but suppressed the urge and answered the question instead. It would do no good to hide the truth from the blond man, though once the words left his mouth, it would start a sequence of events that would change everything once again. “I believe she is well.”
An eyebrow arched, blue eyes at once curious and wary. “You ‘believe’?” he repeated, turning to face his friend, his gloved hands fisted on his waist.
“I cannot see her. This is not the first time such a thing has happened,” Heimdall admitted, now looking at the other man. “I apologize, my lord. I fear now she may be in danger, though does not know it because the threat is from one she calls friend.”
Fandral glared out at the cosmos as a name hissed like poison from between his clenched teeth. “Loki.” He wheeled around and strode back towards the palace, his pace quickening with each step until he was running, boots snapping over the opalescent bridge as Heimdall returned to his rebuilding with a new urgency.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
Jane and Danica have a Girls Day.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 3
Disclaimer: Still don’t own the Marvel-verse. Which really is a shame, I think.
The remains of dinner had been neatly put away in the fridge and the storm had finally passed when Danica covered a yawn for the fifth time in the last half-hour.
“Why don’t you go to bed?” Loki asked, taking the remote control away from her and turning off the TV.
She stretched her legs out in front of her, rolling her shoulders slightly and yawning again. “I should. I just hate to see you go again,” she said, smiling sleepily at him. “It’s been nice to have you visit.”
He smiled back and helped her up from the sofa before walking in to the foyer to put his boots back on. “I’ll come for visits more often,” he promised, straightening after adjusting his shoes.
She stood up on her toes slightly and hugged him, patting his shoulder before letting him move to the door. “Be safe, Loki.”
“I’ll try,” he answered, opening the door and walking out into the cool night.
He heard her close the door and he turned back briefly to see her switching off various lamps, the little house slowly going dark. He wanted to stay, even if he could just sleep in her guest room. He’d missed her also, which surprised him given how he was turning his back on all things Asgardian. But a friend was a friend, and Danica wasn’t someone he could just walk away from forever. He smiled in the dark as her bedroom lamp came on, and the god of mischief and fire vanished, leaving silence in his wake.
Tea Tomes was a small bookshop near Danica’s house that specialized in tea, from the regular steaming cup that went well with milk and sugar, to the intriguing Boba Tea that had taken Asia by storm, as well as shelves upon shelves of books new and old.
Jane eyed the small smile quirking at Danica’s mouth the next day as the two women were wandering around the store, enjoying a rare day off. “Okay,” she started, jolting her friend from her perusal of the back of a book on container gardening that Danica had been staring at for the past five minutes. “Who is he, and what’s going on?”
Danica blinked, staring at her, then laughed and shook her head as the inference sank in. “Oh, no, Jane, it’s not like that at all!” she replied, still giggling slightly. “No, no. A friend of mine from back home is in town and stopped by last night for dinner. We don’t see each other very often, and I haven’t been home in a while, so it was a definite treat to get to visit.”
Jane smirked, her eyebrows lifting. “Yeah, and who is he?” she pressed, walking towards a sitting area in the store where a quartet of plush chairs faced each other around a battered coffee table. She sank down onto one of them, tucking her own stack of books between her leg and the armrest while Danica sat in the adjacent chair.
Haraldsen sighed and pushed her hair back over her shoulder, trying to find a way to explain. “My father works for his father, and I practically grew up with this guy and his brother. Seriously, we’re just friends, Jane,” she insisted, rolling her eyes and frowning at something beyond her friend. “Besides, I’m not really into dating anyone right now,” she said quietly, a faint ribbon of sadness lacing through her words.
The astrophysicist leaned forward, concern crinkling her forehead. “Now there’s a story,” she commented. “Nic, what is it?”
Even after spending fifty Earth years apart from Fandral, the memory of her cancelled marriage still cut deep, and she bit her lip in embarrassment when she felt her eyes sting. She smiled at Jane self-deprecatingly and shrugged. “I was engaged to this guy, and I found him in bed with a friend of mine on our wedding day,” she admitted, Jane sucking in a shocked breath. “He swore nothing happened, that he didn’t remember even getting in bed with her, but you could tell…you could tell that they didn’t have anything on under the sheets, and she’s just sitting there, smirking at me like a trollop.” She pressed her fingertips to her mouth, closing her eyes as she swallowed the tears again as she had that day. She leaned into her friend when Foster squeezed in to the large chair with her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as Danica got herself back under control. She shook her head again, exhaling shakily. “He tried to explain it, but I didn’t listen. I just walked out. That night I spoke with my Dad’s boss and asked to do some work for him away from home, and he agreed. He set me up with a house and made sure I was okay until I got my feet under me, and I never looked back. I saw my fiancé once when I went home for a quick visit, but we didn’t talk. I didn’t even want him to know I was there, but he found out just as I was leaving.” She laughed shortly, tilting her head at Jane and smiling a little. “I ran through the gate to leave as fast as I could, but I could still see he was furious.” She shrugged once more. “Maybe I should have talked to him then, set some time aside for him so we could get some closure, but I just couldn’t.”
“He doesn’t deserve your time,” Jane said firmly, squeezing her friend’s shoulders. “That rat.” She stood up and pulled Danica to her feet, handing her a tissue from her pocket and grabbing both of their book purchases. “C’mon, we’re getting pedicures and you’re going to tell me about this other friend. I think he sounds much better for you than that other guy!”
Danica laughed and let herself be led to the front desk. “No, he’s not. But I’ll tell you about him anyway,” she said, handing her books to the clerk and feeling a little lighter than she had.
Loki seethed as the women exited the store, his green eyes flashing as he moved from behind the bookshelves to watch them leave. So he wasn’t good enough for her? And after everything he had done for her, she still held that roué in her heart enough to cry for him? The fallen prince nearly growled as he stormed from the store, ignoring the sudden wail of fire alarms within as a display of books caught fire.
After the much-needed spa treatment, the women settled in at Danica’s house, the Asgardian declaring an impromptu sleepover for that night, which worked out well as they both wanted to get in to the lab at the same time to meet Kitty Pryde the following morning.
Jane was currently sitting tailor-style in the hammock, going through her new books and watching Danica while she weeded and was checking the progress of her strawberry plants. “You know, we’ve been hanging out for nearly a year now, and I don’t think I’ve ever asked you where you’re from,” she mused, not seeing Danica’s eyes widen slightly as she concentrated on pulling out a few sprigs of onion grass that weren’t needed.
Danica sat back up from her kneeling position and pushed her sunhat back slightly as she looked over at her friend. “Well…” she began, already running through the long-since-memorized story she told everyone who had ever asked her origin. But then she stopped.
She knew Jane had met Thor when he had been sent to Midgard recently to help stop the Destroyer from decimating a little town in New Mexico that had gotten caught in the crossfire in the Destroyer’s search for an enemy of Asgard. She wished she’d been there to see the Thunder God; she would even have put up with seeing…him. She’d read the reports that she was allowed to access, that Thor had been later accompanied by four other beings, three men and a woman, though she’d never asked Jane about her encounter, nor had Foster been forthcoming with any information other than the official documents. She wasn’t sure precisely why the Destroyer had been sent, but Loki had told her that it had been sent down to kill an enemy. He also said that his brother had taken it upon himself to save the town and take care of the enemy himself, breaking the Destroyer in the process. It had been the only way to stop it, Loki had said.
Danica got up and pulled one of her willow wood lawn chairs over to the hammock and sat down, setting her hat on the grass by her feet. “I’m going to apologize first for not being forthcoming with you,” she began, biting her lips and feeling a bit ridiculous for her nervousness. But she considered Jane to be a good friend, and she had hated to keep the truth from her. “And what I’m going to tell you cannot leave this house, do you swear?”
Jane nodded, silent.
Danica took a breath. “I’m not from what you call Earth. What we call ‘Midgard’.”
Jane’s mouth dropped open and she bolted up from the hammock, nearly upending the glass of lemonade she’d left on the ground. “You—you’re from Asgard?” she whispered, catching herself before she shouted, and Danica nodded. “But, you work for S.H.I.E.L.D.! And…and…”
“Breathe, Jane,” Danica advised as her friend began to pace.
“You know Thor!” Jane continued pointing an accusatory finger and Danica nodded again.
“Aye, I know him very well. I grew up with him and his brother Loki. We three have been friends since childhood.” She drew up her feet on the seat, wrapping her arms around her legs. “My father is Lord Odin’s Master of Arms.”
Jane squinted one eye, a pained expression crossing her face, and she hugged herself as a thought sprang unhappily into her mind. “Is Thor…was Thor…?” she trailed off and Danica’s mouth formed an ‘O’.
“Oh no, Jane,” she smiled, shaking her head with a soft laugh. “Thor was not my betrothed.” She tilted her head, the smile shifting to be a little more bittersweet. “Fandral was.”
Now it was Jane’s turn to stare open-mouthed. “Fandral?” she grinned. “Blond, goatee, thinks he’s Errol Flynn?”
Danica grinned. “Actually, I think Errol was a bit inspired by Fandral. He visited Midgard briefly and posed as a sword master for a film company many years ago.”
Jane laughed. “Somehow I can see that.” She stopped, though, as another thought occurred to her. “Wait. You said that you know Loki as well.”
“Yes. The brothers and I have been friends for a very long time. Loki is on Midgard at the moment. I believe he wanted to see more of the world now, especially since he didn’t really get to explore because of the Destroyer being sent.” She set her feet down and put her hat back on. “I’m surprised you didn’t meet him when Thor was here to stop that creature, though Loki does not enjoy battles. He prefers wars of the mind, rather than weapons.”
Jane frowned, raising an eyebrow. “Um, Nic, Loki sent the Destroyer to kill Thor. Actually, he did kill Thor, just for a moment, until Mjolnir returned to him and revived him. He told Thor that their father was dead and that he had taken the throne of Asgard and that Thor was forbidden to return.”
Danica laughed, shaking her head. “Jane, that’s preposterous! Loki would never…” She trailed off, now frowning also. “But, he told me…He said…” She pushed to her feet and ran for the house, Jane following quickly.
Danica’s footsteps pounded on the stairs as she rushed up to her room, pulling a moderately sized wooden chest from the depths of her closet and sitting on her bed with it just as Jane came in.
“What is that?” she asked as Danica withdrew a gleaming silver bowl that was carved with runes and set with gleaming apatite cabochons.
“A scrying bowl. It was a gift to Odin from the god Mimir for communication over great distances,” she replied, staring down into the mirrored curve as she picked up a vial of water from the chest. She poured three drops into the bowl, and Jane gasped as the drops grew larger until the bowl was nearly full.
A face swam into view, ancient and wise, yet timeless nonetheless. White hair flowed in smooth curves to shoulders draped in gold, and a snowy beard framed the jaw of a face marred only by an eye patch over the wearer’s right eye.
“Your Majesty,” Danica said formally, bowing her head until the man spoke.
“Lady Danica. Long has it been since you have graced me with your face,” Odin smiled. “What did you need, child? You look greatly distressed.”
Her mouth was set in a grim line and she looked briefly up at Jane. “Loki is here, my lord. I need help.”
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
And now for some character exposition, Asgardian-style.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 4
Disclaimer: Only Danica belongs to me. If only Marvel decided to let someone else hold the reins once in a while…
Author’s Note: Just because it’s what I do, I usually create a playlist for stories I’m working on. This is no exception. The tracks I’m using currently, though I’m open to any other suggestions are:
“Rolling in the Deep” Adele
“I Burn for You” Sting
“Call Me” Shinedown (the title track for this)
“Don’t Cry Out” Shiny Toy Guns
“Prelude 12/21” AFI
“One More Day” Vast
They’re great songs anyway, but they just spoke to me for this piece, so I wanted to share. Enjoy the show!
The sun was setting over the kingdom as Sif sat down on the floor of the Training Chamber to watch the light play over the rolling ocean below. She exhaled slowly as she leaned over her outstretched legs, her toes curling up to the ceiling as she cooled off from a training exercise. She looked back over her shoulder and smiled as Thor came in, the prince having just returned from a run through the sprawl of the gardens and over the Bifrost that would probably be completed by dawn.
“It’s a nice evening,” he commented, sitting down beside her mat, his hair still clinging to his forehead and neck from his run, the length of gold tied back in a leather rope to keep it out of his face.
“It appears we’re due for some rain later,” Sif replied, nodding at a billow of clouds appearing on the horizon. “Yours?” she asked, but he shook his head.
“Not at the moment.” He fell silent, studying the clouds as they began to slowly cover the brilliant amber blaze of dying sunlight.
Sif tilted her head and drew her heels closer, one arm curving in an arc as she stretched to one side. “Is it Jane, my lord?” she asked, glancing at him and nodding to herself as his jaw hardened in a grimace.
“She is frightened,” he said, avoiding any pretense, and still watching the waves. “She has spoken with Danica and knows the truth of her origins.”
Sif raised an eyebrow. “Truly?”
“Aye, though that is not the cause of her fear. She has simply accepted what Danica has told her, and I must admire her for that. Such an admission would have sent others running, I believe,” he smiled and Sif laughed.
“Well, Jane only knew you and then the rest of our band for such a short time. Danica, however, has been her friend for a great amount of time, as time goes on Midgard, so I would think that it would make things somewhat easier to accept,” Sif mused. “But you said she is afraid. What has happened?”
Thor looked at her now, pain and ice equal in his eyes as he said, “My brother. Loki has been visiting Danica, though she did not know of his deception nor of his being lost from us. Jane has told her what happened when I was cast out, and Danica has contacted Father and requested our help. We will be called for an audience shortly.”
Sif’s eyebrows rose and she folded her legs under her as she gave him her full attention. “We are going to Midgard?”
He nodded, looking back out at the storm that was settling smoothly over the city.
Sif sighed, following his gaze. “Have you spoken with Fandral?”
“Not yet, though I am sure there are things he will want to say.”
“Of this I have no doubt.” She shifted, sitting tailor-style to continue their conversation. “And you? How are you doing with the knowledge you will see Jane once more, and once more you will no doubt have to battle Loki, though this time with her in the middle of it all?”
“He knows my feelings for her, knows how much she means to me, and I have no doubt he will try to use that to his advantage,” he said bitterly. “Which is why we must leave as soon as we are able; I want to make sure she is safe.”
Sif grinned. “She’ll be fine until you arrive, Thor. Danica is close by and will allow no harm to come to your lady. Remember who her father is…”
And Thor grinned, a chuckle rumbling deep in his chest. “Aye, Harald the Cunning would not allow his daughter to not be without her own defenses.”
It was late in the night when Thor noticed flames flickering under the doors of the Warriors Three’s Healing Room as he made his way through the quiet halls to his own chambers. He and Sif and the Warriors Three had had a private dinner with Odin to discuss their journey, and now the Thunder God found he couldn’t sleep, his mind too quick with thoughts of the days ahead. He paused, a frown drawing his brows together as he silently pushed open one of the massive doors, somehow unsurprised to find Fandral seated on one of the couches, the man staring broodingly into the fire pit, a goblet of wine untouched by his bare feet. Fandral had changed out of his usual armor and leathers for leggings and his sleeveless velvet robe; though his sword rested against the side of his sofa should the need for it appear. Thor also had abandoned his armor, a rarity he realized, as they all subconsciously seemed to have a need to be dressed for battle at all times lately. He would have to don it once again all too soon, so for now he enjoyed the luxury of his tunic and leggings, the embroidery that Frigga had sewn for him on the sleeves making him smile for a moment.
“Sif left a few minutes ago,” Fandral spoke, not looking away from the fire. He sounded weary, as if his thoughts were aging him and keeping him from rest. “She ordered me to retire for the evening, but I don’t think I can.”
“You’ll need to keep your strength up, my friend, for the battle to come,” Thor advised, walking closer and crouching slightly to steal the goblet for himself. He settled on an adjacent couch with a sigh, stretching his long legs out and letting the fire warm the soles of his own bare feet as he leaned back, one massive arm stretching along the back length of his seat.
Fandral looked over at him, finally sitting back also and crossing his legs, ankle-to-knee. “And of which battle do you speak, my lord; the one with your brother, who seems to be courting my wife, or the one with her? I know not how she will feel to see me, much less have me so close for what will be a goodly length of time, I’m sure, until this matter with Loki can be resolved.”
Thor ignored the sarcastic bite to his friend’s words and shook his head after letting a swallow of wine roll over his tongue, the prickle of the red liquid warming him. “Both, as well as the fight we will no doubt have with Loki beyond the subject of Danica. He is on Midgard, in the vicinity of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Jane’s project. I have no doubt he has plans to cause trouble for her as well.” He took another swallow of his drink, frowning again as dark worries pushed once more into the forefront of his mind. He knew there had been troubles with the portal Jane had been working on. Difficulties, setbacks and mistakes, some that could have turned dangerous, that had plagued her team and its goal. He knew now his brother was to blame, and he knew also that an angry Loki was a great danger indeed.
Fandral bowed his head and exhaled before looking at Thor once more. “I apologize, my lord. I thought only of my dilemma and not of your own trials and concerns with your lady and her safety.”
“Apologies are not necessary, old friend,” was the reply, the crown prince allowing a smile. “I understand very much, now, what it’s like when your world revolves around one being. I cannot fault you for not thinking beyond her even in this situation.”
Fandral smiled fondly. “We have faced dangers and horrors that would make other men weep in terror, and yet the notion of our women in peril frightens me more than I care to admit.”
Thor sighed, pushing the gloom away from his mind once more. “Aye, Fandral. You speak truth.” He drank again then set the cup down; smirking at the action as Jane’s long-ago rant over the destruction of a coffee cup rang through his memory. For all the worry he carried, the excitement over finally being able to see her again brought him peace. Sif was right, she was safe for now. They would be there on the morrow, Odin willing, and he would take his place by her side once more. “I agree with Sif. It’s time you took to your bed,” he said, standing up and offering his hand to pull Fandral to his feet. “You can’t greet the Lady Danica with circles under your eyes, can you?”
Fandral clasped his leader’s forearm and stood before releasing his hand. “That is the least of my concerns,” he said sourly, picking up his sword and walking with Thor to the doors.
Thor exhaled on a laugh as he thought back to the conversation he’d had with Heimdall earlier when he’d asked him how the women fared. “I think, my friend, Danica may surprise you.”
Fandral frowned, leaning away to regard his friend. “What do you mean?”
The other grinned and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “You both need to sit down and speak. There is much to be said about your past and present feelings, and it is not I who should speak to you of this.”
A smile appeared finally as they stepped out into the shadowy corridor. “Then perhaps I should get my beauty sleep. It wouldn’t do for her to see me as anything than at my best.”
Their laughter echoed softly through the palace as they parted ways, and at the end of the Rainbow Bridge, Heimdall smiled as the final sheet of gold folded itself around the Focusing Tower and he could stand once more in the Gatehouse.
Chapter 6: Chapter 5
Talking to a god and a little travelling...
All That I Can Say: Chapter 5
Disclaimer: Still not ruler of Marvel. Sad, really.
Danica looked up at the sky, sighing to see yet another thunderstorm looming on the horizon. “My strawberry plants are going to need water wings,” she muttered and Jane snorted as she got into Danica’s ancient Land Rover the next morning. She tossed a well-worn canvas knapsack into the backseat beside her hostess’ backpack, supplies for their trip weighting down the bags.
Foster still couldn’t believe she’d seen Thor’s father. She hadn’t been sure what to expect, though seeing the face of a man who not only looked like a one-eyed version of Christianity’s image of God but was also her loved one’s parent had been jarring and intimidating.
“I see you are not alone, my lady,” Odin had commented, noting Jane standing by the bed. “Come closer, Doctor Foster.”
She’d gulped, hoping it was inaudible, and drew nearer, even bobbing an awkward curtsey that made the Allfather muffle a smile. “Hello, Your Majesty,” she’d managed, remembering her posture and standing straighter.
“This is not the way I would prefer to meet the woman who has stolen my son’s heart, but then things do not always go as we plan or prefer, do they?” he asked, a slight twinkle in his blue eye making her smile.
“No, Your Majesty,” she agreed, and continued, “But then, without the unexpected, life would be rather boring.”
He’d laughed, smiling fully, and she bit down a gasp of laughter herself. She’d made the Allfather laugh. She, Jane Foster, ‘lowly human’ had made one of the oldest and most legendary figures laugh.
“Well said, young lady,” he replied. “My son spoke truly when he told me you were both beautiful and quick-witted.”
She smiled, feeling her face flame as she sat down next to Danica.
“What course of action should we take, Allfather?” the Asgardian asked, hating to change the subject, but knowing that events needed to be set into motion.
He sighed, folding his hands. “For now, I believe you should do nothing to alert Loki. He obviously thinks that you believe his story, and I think you will be safe for as long as he thinks as such. Also, from what Heimdall tells me, the Bifrost will be completed on the morrow.” He noticed Jane looking puzzled at this. “What troubles you, Doctor Foster?” he asked.
“What happened to the Bifrost?” she asked, frowning as she looked from Odin to Danica. “All I remember of it was the gateway dissipated on our side, and that was the last we heard from any of you.”
“Thor broke it and destroyed our Guardhouse as well, a tower used to focus the power of the Bifrost,” the king explained. “This is why he has been unable to return to you.” He tilted his head sadly, pausing as a tear dripped over her lashes. “I apologize, child, that you were not made aware of this, but know that he has missed you also.” He smiled as Danica wrapped an encouraging arm around her friend’s shoulder. “Now then, I will be calling a gathering this evening with Thor, the Lady Sif and the Warriors Three to discuss what needs to be done, and I will contact you when we have finished. I would suggest, Danica, that you contact your employers and the both of you stay at home tomorrow, as I will be sending a party to Midgard as soon as they are able to travel.”
“Of course, Your Majesty,” she nodded.
“Very well.” He settled back in his chair. “Be safe, ladies. I will speak with you anon.”
Danica bowed her head and Jane waved with a smile as the water went dark.
Danica looked up and giggled at Jane still staring at the now-dry bowl, a look of wonder lighting her face.
“Yes, I have to agree with you,” she replied. “Wow.”
And so, they’d called in to S.H.I.E.L.D. to say that they’d each contracted a mild case of food poisoning after going out to dinner, and that Jane was sequestering herself at Danica’s until their digestive systems had settled.
“You know they didn’t buy it,” Jane remarked, clicking her seatbelt into place as Danica started the vehicle.
“I don’t know…You worked on some pretty authentic-sounding effects in the background. Enough to where Tracy in HR hung up as fast as she could…” she replied, handing Jane a map instead of using her GPS, the two laughing at the deception they had managed.
“So, where are we going?” Foster asked, taking out a hi-lighter and glancing down at the network of roadways on the paper in front of her.
“Just across the bay,” Danica answered, pointing to the Oregon Coast Highway. “We’re going for a hike in the woods.”
Jane frowned, looking up at her. “Somehow I really think it’s illegal to open a gateway to Asgard in a National Park.”
“Somehow I really think it’s illegal that you struck a prince of Asgard with your vehicle, twice,” her friend countered and Jane grinned.
They made it into the Lewis and Clark National Park as the clouds rolled in fully over head, the occasional rainbow-edge lining the temperamental billows enhancing the lightning that shattered through them like icy lace.
Jane was taking notes as they drove, occasionally glancing skyward to get a shot with her camcorder of the cloud formation with its highlighting aurora that had darkened the formerly bright mid-morning. “I never did actually get to see the Bifrost,” she commented, almost to herself. “He left before he could safely take me with him.”
“If he felt he needed to destroy his only link to you, Jane, then the danger in Asgard must have been great,” Danica said soothingly, though inwardly she was still reeling from the lies Loki had told her. She felt like a fool for trusting him, angry at herself for being so naïve, and angry at him for his easy deception. She shook her head and focused on the task at hand. “You’ll see it, one day,” she smiled, turning on her highbeams. “It’s an incredible sight.” She looked up at the swirling ribbons of color dancing in the clouds.
They started to appear as though they were forming a vortex, and Jane pulled up a local meteorological radar map to keep track of the rotation. “It’s about two miles north of us,” she advised. “It’s not formed, yet, but it’s going to, soon.”
Danica grinned at the smile Jane had, the thrill of the stormchase on her, made even more exciting because of who would be at the end of the storm. She ignored her own jangling nerves that wanted to start a flurry of thoughts and worries, that would gleefully remind her that Thor was not travelling alone, and that after all these years, she’d be face-to-face with Fandral.
Thor stared into the screaming winds of stars and nebulae that tried desperately to tug him into the portal.
“She is waiting,” Heimdall said, his voice somehow carrying over the noise, and the prince shared a look with Fandral, neither sure who the Observer was speaking to.
“Let us be off, then,” Fandral said, living up to his title of “The Dashing” as he threw a jaunty salute to Heimdall before he jumped into the vortex, the rest of the Warriors and Sif soon following.
“Safe journey,” Heimdall advised and Thor nodded, settling his silver winged helm over his hair and taking a running leap into the universe.
Jane and Danica stood at the edge of a clearing as the Bifrost’s tornado spun down, the trees around them groaning at the force of the winds that howled through the branches. Both women held on to the Land Rover’s grill guards while they watched the whirlwind, an intricate scrollwork burning itself into the ground in front of them, and Jane laughed as five figures materialized, staggering as the winds left them.
She rushed forward and leaped at Thor, who chuckled as he caught her up against him, his mouth descending to hers for a lingering kiss. The edge of his helmet bit into her arms as she hugged him, tears squeezing out from between her lashes when she could bury her face in his shoulder, her hands clutching the folds of his cape. A shudder went through him, and she pulled back, her breath catching to see that his own eyes were red and wet. He smiled, a breathy laugh escaping before he embraced her again. “I have missed you, Jane Foster,” he rumbled, the feel of her in his arms a cool balm to the sickened ache he’d held in his heart.
Fandral looked hopefully at Danica, who regarded at him in amusement. “Think again if you hope I shall bestow the same to you,” she told him, folding her arms with a smirk.
He moved forward and pulled her to him, her hands settling on his forearms in shock. “I care not if you will show me the same affection,” he said lowly, studying her face, her pale eyes wide as she stared up at him. “But know that I have thought of you daily, and I have missed you. It is good to be with you once more.” He surprised her with a chaste kiss to her forehead, Fandral smiling when her fingers tightened briefly before he released her, Danica running a hand over her windblown hair as she struggled to find her footing in both her thoughts and on the ground beneath her.
She looked to Hogun and Volstagg, who were grinning like fools, and then at Sif, the tall brunette smiling at the exchange also. She sighed, ignoring Fandral as he stood at her side. “Welcome to Earth,” she said with a shrug, then laughing as it started to rain.
Chapter 7: Chapter 6
Settling in at Danica's, and a late-night phone call.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 6
By: M. Greystone
Disclaimer: Still a mere mortal without Marvel-ous powers.
The clouds had dissipated by the time they returned to the house, leaving a blue sky dotted with cotton wad clouds that scudded along in the cool breeze. The ride back had been an interesting time, the Rover filled to near-bursting with Asgardians who were greatly curious about their new surroundings.
Jane and Thor sat in the back with Hogun, while Volstagg and Sif sat behind Danica and Fandral, who were silent as they watched the road ahead. Occasionally Fandral stole a glance at her, taking in the changes in his betrothed. She still wore her hair long, though now it was pulled back in a simple bun that she’d twisted it into when she’d slid behind the steering wheel. She had grown, with something of a hard edge to her that she hadn’t possessed in her youth, and a confidence that intrigued him. She’d always been sure of herself, but she’d achieved an inner strength that spoke of her years relying on herself and building a new life. He was curious to see how the flowing chitons and gowns of Asgard would suit her now, though he had to admit, he was enjoying how these Midgardian clothes fit her form.
Danica frowned at the wolfish grin tugging at the corner of Fandral’s mouth, and she rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses. He thought she didn’t notice his sidelong appraisals of her, and she straightened her posture a little in irritation as she looked over at him surreptitiously. She liked the armor he wore, shades of watery blue and gray that suited his coloring and answered his fondness for fine and soft fabrics. She wasn’t sure about the goatee he sported, the quirking curve of his moustache a bit foppish for her tastes, though the beard did suit the line of his jaw and the clean curve of his throat that disappeared into his collar. His shoulders were broader now, his arms more defined, she could tell, remembering the shift of muscle under her hands when she’d been held by those arms not fifteen minutes ago. She grit her teeth and gripped the wheel harder as she shoved her thoughts back into a dusty corner of her mind, trying to ignore the way the cool spice of his cologne was dancing its way happily into her airspace. She jumped when Sif spoke up from behind her, the brunette leaning forward as she asked where they were.
“The Allfather said we were much farther north than Puente Antiguo,” the warrior goddess said and Danica nodded.
“Quite. This is an area known largely as the Pacific Northwest, though currently we are in a state called ‘Washington’.”
“They named an area after their laundry?” Volstagg asked, curious as to why Jane suddenly snorted and stifled a laugh.
“No, they named it after one of the nations’ founding leaders,” Danica answered. “We are about to cross a bridge, though that will take us back to the state Jane and I live in, which is called ‘Oregon’.” She nodded as they drew near the Astoria-Megler Bridge that spanned the Columbia River, the water below sparkling in the sunlight.
Danica was thankful that her windows were tinted well so cars passing them couldn’t see the strange clothes her passengers wore, though Fandral did attract some attention from a trio of girls in a convertible as they pulled alongside. The driver winked at him, the man surprised at the skimpiness of her clothing, though the sundress was tame by Earth standards. He merely offered a wan smile and turned away, only to catch Danica watching him with open surprise that he’d rebuffed his admirers.
“She is not you,” he smiled, laughing inwardly at the blush that rose to her cheeks.
In the back, Jane sighed softly and rested her head on Thor’s shoulder, the prince closing his eyes and holding her closer as the vehicle rolled on.
When they did reach the cottage, Volstagg was starting to grumble over the lack of food he was experiencing, and Danica grinned as she let him into the house and pointed him to the kitchen, explaining that she’d left food for him on the counter to tide him over until she could make lunch for everyone.
“Where are we to stay?” Hogun asked, standing by the breakfast nook’s windows and looking out into the sun-drenched garden while The Voluminous One happily tore into a baguette and a golden wedge of cheese.
Danica looked at the group, what there was of them in the kitchen. “I actually have more space here than you would think,” she said. “Jane, I’m assuming you’re going to want to stay here?” she called into the living room, where the physicist was sitting on the couch with Thor.
“Yes, if that’s okay. I’ll need to run back home and get some more clothes,” she replied. “Which reminds me,” she said, getting up and going over to the coat closet and withdrawing several full market bags and handing them to the Asgardians. “We went shopping and got you guys some clothes,” she said, amused at the look of surprise on Hogun’s face as she handed him his bag.
“That was very kind of you,” Thor said, pulling out a pair of jeans with a grin. “Ah, yes, I remember these trews,” he said fondly, then looked to his male compatriots. “Dress yourself carefully, gentlemen. The trousers on Midgard have teeth that could prove dangerous if not handled correctly.”
The other men stared into the bags in horror, causing Jane and Danica to laugh outright.
“They are known as ‘zippers’, you dolt,” Danica said fondly to Thor, shaking her head. “They are an invention for holding clothes together. We have buttons and zippers now, and something called ‘Velcro’, though none of your clothes bear that annoying closure.”
“You chose and purchased things for me,” Fandral smiled, leaning on the counter beside her as she gathered supplies for sandwiches. He withdrew an olive long-sleeved t-shirt, his thumb running over the impossibly soft fabric appreciatively.
She looked at him with a bland expression. “As much as you would enjoy the attention, we didn’t feel it was wise to allow you to run about in your Asgardian clothes. The only other options were nudity or we buy something for you.”
“Your loss, sweetness,” he teased, flicking an errant curling strand of her hair that had come loose with a fingertip.
She ignored him and went back to slicing tomatoes. “Sif, you’re welcome to share my room, if you like,” she said, moving away from Fandral to retrieve her frying pan to cook bacon. “Volstagg, I have a screened-in back porch with a bed and ceiling fan, and Hogun and Fandral can stay in the den. The couch and chair in there fold out to make beds, and Jane you and Thor can use the guest room,” she said matter-of-factly, the tall prince blinking as he and Jane shared a glance.
“Er…Danica…” he began, walking in to the kitchen, his cloak brushing the floor. He’d left his helmet in the living room, the silver wings an amusing touch to her décor.
She didn’t look at him as she poured a large container of her vegetable soup into a stock pot. “I trust you to behave yourself, Odinson. If you and Jane would rather stay at her apartment, I would take no offense, though I think it better that we all stay together.” She stirred the pot and added a couple of bay leaves from the topiary growing beside her stove. “I apologize for being blunt, my lord,” she acquiesced, looking up at him. “I know you both have been apart for a while and would like some time to yourselves, therefore I thought that sharing a bedchamber would be the best way to allow this if we all stay here.”
“I don’t mind,” Jane said, coming in to the room also. “Thor, are you okay with it?”
He smiled down at her, taking her hand in his. “Nothing would please me more than to be by you, Jane. We shall stay here, together.”
The group broke up to allow the travelers a chance to change into their new attire and explore Danica’s house and garden while she finished cooking.
“She’s made a home for herself that’s quite lovely,” Volstagg commented, licking his thumb that was sticky from the bowl of dried apricots he’d taken from the kitchen as he stood in the backyard with Fandral, looking out over the companionable grouping of chairs around a firepit nearby, the hammock in the trees swinging gently in the wind. They could hear the Lady Sif laughing indoors through the open window in Danica’s room, the women upstairs while the goddess changed.
Volstagg was dressed in a comfortable pair of jeans under a cream colored Henley shirt and hiking boots. He’d braided his hair back to keep it neat, and he was pleased the strange clothes both suited him and were comfortable.
Fandral was also enjoying Danica’s choices of clothing for him, the denim trousers easy to wear and flattering, especially with the olive shirt that clung rather well to his physique.
“It suits her,” Fandral agreed, looking down at the whimsy of a tiny door tucked against the roots of a tree, a sign on its doorknob declaring that the fairies were out dancing.
Volstagg eyed him, offering the bowl, and his friend took one of the apricots. “You two suit each other,” he said quietly. “It’s good to see you together once more.”
Fandral snorted. “She won’t stand near me for more than a few breaths,” he said, his words slushy from the fruit.
The redheaded warrior laughed, the sound ringing through the yard. “You make her nervous, man. Did you not consider that? To have you this close after all this time, and you flirting enough to make her blush…”
“Caught that, did you?” Fandral grinned, folding his arms with a self-satisfied air.
“Perhaps we should all retreat to the Lady Jane’s abode and leave you two alone?” Volstagg teased, elbowing him and chuckling as Fandral coughed, choking slightly on the apricot. He wandered back to the house as Danica called lunch from the kitchen window, Fandral shaking his head in amusement as he followed.
The house was quiet at two in the morning when the buzzing of her cell phone woke Danica, and she grabbed it quickly, Sif rolling over in her sleep from the sound.
She hit ‘quiet’ and stole out into the hallway to answer the device, her whisper loud to her.
“Hello?” she asked, creeping down the stairs, the hem of her nightgown trailing behind her. Moonlight lit her way as she walked into the kitchen, not seeing Fandral’s tousled blond head peek over the edge of the couch’s back.
“Danica, it’s Kitty Pryde,” the voice on the phone replied. “I’m so sorry to call you so late, but I needed to speak with you.”
“I have to apologize also that I’ve not been there to help you,” Danica said, wincing inwardly at the lie she and Jane had handed in, even though it was for a worthy cause. “How was it today?” she asked, unlocking the back door and going outside to sit in the hammock. The grass was cool but not damp under her feet, the dew not yet set in, but she wished she’d grabbed a shawl before stepping out.
“Not good.” The silence on the line made Danica sigh as she sat down, keeping the hammock steady with her feet on the ground. “There were a few accidents. We fried out a couple of the computers with a power surge that caught us by surprise. The surge protectors just couldn’t keep it out; we nearly lost about two weeks’ worth of data.”
Danica rubbed her eyes tiredly, pushing her bangs back from her face as she looked blindly over her yard. “Was anyone hurt?” she asked, wrapping an arm around her middle and bowing her head as she listened.
“Derek Herndon got a burn from a static flash from the archway. He’s okay, but his arm hurts pretty badly he says. They kept him in the medbay this afternoon, but sent him home tonight. That’s the only injury, but I gotta tell you, the morale is running low. We’ve attacked this thing from every angle, but I don’t know about getting this gate to work.”
Danica pursed her lips, thinking how easy it was now, she realized, to use the Bifrost. Call for Heimdall, and there it was. But these humans couldn’t do that, and she couldn’t let them do that, she realized now. Have a portal to the Nine Realms? S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn’t even considered sending an emissary to Odin to request permission to have a link to his world. How many times over the millennia had Earth societies conquered each other in glorified raiding parties? She shivered at the image of a Sherman tank grinding its way over the Rainbow Bridge, some maniacal leader standing on the rolling monstrosity as he pondered where to send his first volley.
She looked up, sensing a presence nearby, and gave a small wave as Fandral walked towards her, one of her throw blankets draped around his waist like a sarong. “We’ll figure out something, Kitty,” she said, bracing a hand on her knees and looking down as the tall warrior stepped into the trees’ shadows, his arms folding as he gazed around the dark garden. “Jane and I should be back in tomorrow, I think, but please call us if you need to, okay?”
“I’m sorry to bother you,” the younger woman apologized again. “Especially since I haven’t met you, but…”
Danica smiled and shook her head. “Not to worry. I appreciate you ringing me. Goodnight, Kitty.”
She turned off the phone and sighed again, not in the mood to deal with her ex-fiance at this moment. Especially an ex-fiance that was standing like her own personal bodyguard beside her, wearing a blanket that rode disarmingly low on his well-defined abdomen. Did he sleep nude, now? Or was he just aware that she had neighbors who might look out their windows and wonder why a half-naked man was in her backyard? She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment and shoved that thought away, too. She decided she was getting quite skilled at repressing her musings.
“How may I help you, my lord?” she asked, facing him now, her phone held between her hands in her lap.
Fandral looked down at her, the tiredness lacing her voice making him frown. “What was the summons regarding?” he asked, wanting to sit beside her and wrap an arm around her shoulders and offer support.
She shook her head and shrugged. “There was an accident in the lab and someone on my team was injured. Not seriously,” she explained quickly, when he stepped towards her in concern. “But enough to make me…well, upset,” she admitted. “And now I’m questioning this whole project I’m working on. Not just for the safety of these people, but for the safety of our people. We are opening a portal to my home, and they know nothing of it! No emissary has been sent to the Allfather, no diplomacy shown to the other realms. And now that the Bifrost is repaired, Jane can go to Asgard, which is really what I wanted to have as the end result of this venture, and now it is.” She stood, her arms wrapped around her middle, partially for warmth and partially for stability as she worked through this new dilemma. “But people are getting hurt, and I don’t know if it’s just because it’s impossible for their science to match our world and its powers, or if Loki is causing harm in darker ways than I could imagine.”
“He is a trickster, Danica,” Fandral said quietly. “You’ve always known this.”
She rolled her eyes with a short laugh as she paced. “Yes, but to do what he’s done now, I hadn’t thought it possible. Cutting Sif’s hair, replacing it with Dwarven hair was a stupid, childish prank, but to try to kill Thor, to send the Destroyer—“
“To try to woo my wife.”
She whirled and gaped at him. “I am not your wife, Fandral!” she said slowly, her voice low and dangerous. “And he did not try to woo me. He is a friend, and he came to visit me.”
“He brought you sweets, stayed in your house, spent time with you…what would you call it, my dear?” he sneered, fists clenching at his sides.
“Being nice! Are you so jealous of him, then, that you would begrudge him the company of a friend?” she hissed, trying not to loose the scream she felt building. She wanted to return to her bed and be oblivious to the enormous task set in front of her for a few hours, not put up with a cranky, swaggering man in a throw blanket.
“He does not see you as merely a friend,” Fandral laughed. “He has been fond of you for ages, love, but you could not see it.”
“I have been betrothed to you since childhood, and he knows this and therefore would not even consider the notion of a romantic affection for me. You’re ridiculous!” she scoffed, turning away, but he pulled her back.
“Am I? Just because someone is engaged does not stop the heart from wanting.” He could have bitten his tongue in half the instant the words left his mouth when he saw her grow pale.
“No, it doesn’t, does it?” she muttered, trying to pull her arm from his grasp, but he only drew her towards him, back into the shadows of the trees.
“I swear to you, Danica, I was not dallying with Kiersten. I would not have dishonored you like that, ever,” he insisted, taking hold of her arms. “The last thing I remember is walking to your chambers to wish you goodnight and hoping to receive a last kiss before I left you to sleep. You opened the door and smiled at me, and I thought it odd that your maid was not there to greet me, seeing as how she was so insistent that I not see you before our wedding. You invited me in and offered me a cup of wine, which I also thought strange as you don’t care for heavy drink. I sat on your couch as I tasted the wine, and the last thing I saw was your smile as you touched my face.”
She stared at him, starting to feel herself shake inside. “I was not in the palace that night, Fandral,” she whispered. “My mother had asked me to stay at home. Sif and the ladies in my bridal party were staying there as well, what they call a ‘sleepover’ here, to celebrate my last night as an unmarried woman. But, Kiersten couldn’t make it. She had told me earlier in the day that she needed to see to a present for us and that she would return in plenty of time to be ready for the ceremony. I stayed the night in my childhood room, but left early to speak with the cooks for the banquet. I wanted to see you, just for a moment, before all the madness of the day set in, and I went up to my chamber to retrieve a gift I’d left there for you. And I found…” she shuddered, closing her eyes against the image of him sleeping, curled against her friend, the gold silk of her sheets clinging to their bodies, the thin fabric leaving no question as to the state of their undress.
Her gasp was like a shriek in the silent room, a sob filling her throat as she clapped a hand to her mouth, the small box in her other hand clattering to the floor as she stared at the lovers.
Fandral bolted awake, gaping at the smirking brunette in his arms, to the horrified woman in the doorway, tears leaking over her cheeks. “Danica—“ he began, reaching out to her and starting to get out of the bed, when he realized he wore nothing. He grabbed for the coverlet and dragged it around himself, stumbling towards her as his head swam. Too much wine, he thought dazedly, glaring at the chuckle from Kiersten before he turned back to his bride, who was braced against the wall behind her, her hand clutching the folds of her dress like a lifeline.
A maid came through the door then, yelping at the tableau before her.
“My lady,” she began, looking to Danica, who stared dumbly at her, then looked back to her fiancé.
“It’s over,” she whispered, rage beginning to boil even as he walked to her. “You whoreson!”
“Danica, please, I don’t understand!” he pleaded, trying to reach her, but she hurried away. “I don’t know why she’s here, I don’t remember—“
“Be silent!” the blonde screamed, shoving at him when he got close. “I want never to see you again, Fandral! How could you?! I loved you!” She dragged her hand over her eyes, the tears burning.
“Danica, please!” he tried again, but she ran out, leaving chaos as guards came running in, her shouts alerting the palace. He tried to run after her, but was stopped as Thor appeared in the doorway. “It’s not as it seems,” Fandral said, the prince sighing as he escorted his friend out of the chamber.
“He was behind it, wasn’t he?” Danica said softly, looking up at the saddened face of her former betrothed. “Loki. It wasn’t Kiersten.”
“I believe so,” Fandral nodded, relieved when she let him draw her closer to him, Danica closing the distance and resting her head on his chest. He closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around her as she tentatively returned the gesture. “I’m so sorry, dearest,” he murmured, kissing the top of her head as he felt her tears track over his skin.
The breeze moved around them, the silence heavy in the dark as she let herself grieve for the years they’d lost. She cleared her throat after a few minutes, then pulled back, surprising him with a smile.
“It’s not your fault,” she said, and he grinned, laughing quietly on an exhale of relief.
“Gods, I’ve waited for you to say that,” he said, squeezing her briefly and enjoying having her this close to him once more. His smile faded slightly, though, as he tilted his head. “But this can wait a while longer. We have greater things to worry on, and time enough to solve our own problems.” He kissed her forehead. “You need rest, my lady, and I do not believe standing in your garden is the best of ideas so late at night.”
She shook her head. “No, I agree. But, do me one favor before I take my leave of you,” she asked.
The grin returned and he gently cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs smoothing away the salty lines over her cheeks. “Anything.”
She took a breath, then let it out, a shudder passing through her nerves. “Kiss me goodnight.”
He sighed, an ache he’d carried for too long dissolving at her words, and he bent his head to hers to press the kiss onto her lips he’d intended all those years before.
On the screened-in porch, Volstagg sniffed, a watery smile creasing his face as he watched the couple under the trees, Danica withdrawing with a soft laugh before she walked away, her hand drifting haltingly from Fandral’s before she went back to the house.
Maybe now they could all sleep well.
Chapter 8: Chapter 7
Wherein things start to unravel...
All That I Can Say: Chapter 7
By: M. Greystone
Disclaimer: I don’t own the Thor-verse, just Danica.
The silence rang in his ears, but the rush of his thoughts was noise enough as he sat in the dark, staring blindly at the dim floor.
She’d gone back upstairs after checking on Hogun, and he’d watched her ascend, her gown white in the gloom as she’d returned to her bed. His fists had clenched as he looked out the window at the other man, who stood, pensive, under the spread of the trees, no doubt replaying the past moments in his mind, if the smile curving his mouth was any indication.
To see her in the arms of another, her face tilted sweetly for his kiss, her arms around his waist, set a fire in his gut and ice in his veins. He’d thought things were different, that she’d return to him, not lose herself in another, one he now considered an enemy where once they were great compatriots.
He covered his face with one hand briefly, his exhale as silent as possible in the still night. He cursed himself, almost cursed her, then stopped. He’d fight for her. He refused to just sit back and allow her to walk away so easily. He’d waited so long for her, he could wait longer, and she didn’t need to know what he’d seen.
They needed to remain on friendly terms, even though she seemed to have cast him aside for the other, and he’d maintain that, if that’s what she wanted.
But still, it struck him harder than he’d thought possible to watch her kiss another, her smile bright as she looked back to him, promise in her eyes.
Fandral sighed and returned to his bed on the couch and punched his pillow as he turned over, knowing that finding sleep now would undoubtedly be fruitless.
Danica had chosen Loki.
It was a tight squeeze to fit everyone in the kitchen for breakfast, so Jane suggested they move the party out to the fire pit area once plates and bowls were filled, and Thor had already gone through two cups of coffee.
It was almost comical to see the greatest warriors of Asgard settling in Adirondack chairs with their breakfasts, especially since not everyone was wearing regular clothes. Jane and Danica had purchased various types of loungewear for their guests also, and it was amusing to see their friends in what were, essentially, pajamas.
“’Tis a fine morning,” Volstagg commented, grinning over at Fandral, who was picking at his plate of scrambled eggs and bacon, the younger man barefoot and wearing jeans and the linen undershirt he wore beneath his armor.
Fandral looked at him oddly, wondering why his friend seemed so gleeful, Volstagg’s green eyes twinkling as he nodded subtly towards Danica, who was sampling Jane’s mug of hot chocolate. “Er, yes, the weather is lovely,” he agreed, eating his breakfast and certain the redhead had taken leave of his senses. What in the Nine Realms did Danica have to do with how a morning seemed?
Volstagg pounded a fist carefully on his armrest, chuckling when Fandral had to grab his glass of orange juice before it fell to the ground from the jarring. “Though the weather last eve was even better, I’m sure,” he muttered cheekily. “A fine night for standing under the trees…” he trailed off, eyebrows wiggling like mad caterpillars.
Fandral’s mouth went dry. Volstagg had been sleeping on the back porch…
“What are you driving at?” Fandral asked quietly, leaning towards him to keep the conversation private, and Volstagg looked at him in surprise, his gaze flicking between Danica and the blond warrior.
“Why, you and…Well, you…” He broke off, clearing his throat as Fandral continued to stare blankly at him. Volstagg brought his fingers up to his lips and looked pointedly again at Danica, then inclined his head towards the lower half of Fandral’s face.
“Oh…” Fandral leaned back and managed a smug smile. “Yes.” He laughed, using his amusement over his friend’s antics to fuel his mirth. “Yes, indeed, it’s a fine morning.” He lifted his glass to Danica, who stared at him in pleased surprise. “Many thanks to my lady and the charming Jane Foster for this excellent meal they created for us, as well,” he said, toasting her, and the others took up the praise.
Danica smiled at him with warmth he hadn’t seen in ages as she nodded. “You’re very welcome,” she said, clinking her teacup against Jane’s mug. She brought her fingers to her mouth, much the same way Volstagg had done with his, though she pressed a kiss to them and sent it winging to Fandral, who caught it with all the enthusiasm he knew was expected of him.
Thor caught the exchange and grinned. “I see you two appear to be in better spirits with each other,” he remarked, laughing softly as Danica blushed.
“Aye, we are,” Fandral replied, smiling also and sending a heated look towards his betrothed.
“Thank the gods,” Sif muttered, smirking, setting off a round of laughter as they returned to their food.
“What is your plan for the day, Lady Jane?” Hogun asked, surprising her since Danica had explained he wasn’t one for conversation.
“We’ll be going in to work soon,” she answered, looking at Danica, who nodded.
“But we’ll leave our phone numbers in case you need to reach us. We’ll teach you how to use it,” Haraldsen added. “And there’s plenty of food and books, and you’re welcome to explore the neighborhood if you need a walk.”
“Just don’t kill anything,” Jane put in, only half-serious.
The women left for work soon after breakfast, Thor escorting Jane to her car, and Danica was surprised to see Fandral jogging over to her as she unlocked the Rover.
“Hello,” she smiled, tossing her knapsack across to the passenger seat and turning to face him as Jane drove away and Thor walked back to the cottage. “Do you understand how to use the phone alright?” she asked, pushing her sunglasses back up into her hair so she could look up at him.
“Lift the handle, touch the correct numbers and listen until you or your answering service responds,” he replied. “Thank you again for allowing us to stay with you, Danica,” he said. “I realize it is a great inconvenience, and having me here must be difficult for you.”
She shrugged. “It is what it is,” she replied, her smile turning pensive. “It’s nice, though, to see you all again. Even you,” she teased and he grinned. “About last night…”
He frowned, concerned as to what she’d say next. He didn’t know what was said between her and Loki; he wasn’t sure if he wanted to. “Yes?”
“I enjoyed it. It had been too long since I’ve gotten to kiss you.” She blushed, tucking a strand of hair self-consciously over her ear. “I’d missed it.”
He blinked, barely stopping his mouth from dropping open at her admission. “I-I missed it also,” he managed, his mind tumbling as he tried to solve this latest puzzle. He put a confident smile in place, though, and lifted a hand to touch her face. “Be safe today, my love.”
She swallowed back the sudden prick of moisture in her eyes, covering his hand with hers. “Of course,” she laughed quietly, then sighed when he bent to kiss her. Her fingers tightened over his and her sunglasses clattered to the ground when he drew her against him, one arm banding across her back, the other slipping to cup the back of her head as her hands slid into his hair.
They broke apart, breathless, after a few lengthy moments, and Danica’s cheeks were several shades brighter. “Well! Um…Yes…Okay…” she fumbled, leaning over to pick up her glasses, giggling when she stumbled and braced herself on the car. “So, I’ll be home this evening,” she told him, nodding with a grin that he returned.
“I look forward to it,” he replied, holding the door open for her as she got inside and managed to get her keys in the ignition and start the vehicle. He reached for her hand and kissed the back of it, then replaced it on the steering wheel and closed the door. He stepped back and let her drive away, turning back to go in the house when he couldn’t see her anymore.
The party gathered on the porch stopped him in his tracks, and Fandral shook his head with a rueful grin as his friends smiled at him, Thor and Volstagg applauding slowly.
He continued on and walked past them, waving over his shoulder with a small laugh as he went inside, the rest of the warriors following.
Jane and Danica waved their ID cards at the guard before walking in to their building, the chilled interior washing over them as they stepped through the doors and through the lobby.
“What did Fandral want?” Foster asked, clipping her badge onto her sweater’s hem while they moved down the hall. She looked beside her when Danica remained quiet, though a small smile began to quirk over a laugh. “No…A kiss goodbye?” Jane grinned, stopping with her friend, who nodded.
“Oh, yes. It was quite fantastic, I must say,” the blonde replied.
Jane smacked her lightly on the arm, the two starting on their way once more. “Excellent! I knew getting him around you would help clear things up. Have you had a chance to talk things over?”
The encounter in the garden slipped through her memory for a space of heartbeats and she nodded again. “Somewhat. We really do need to sit down, I think and discuss everything that occurred.”
They’d reached their lab and Jane reached for the door handle, looking back as she answered, “Well, it’s kind of a big subject. I wouldn’t think you could get it cleared up in one go—“ She broke off on a shriek as a small purple object about the size of a cat rocketed through the open door, banking sharply to narrowly miss the opposite wall before it came to a hovering halt behind Danica.
“A dragon!” she whispered, staring at the small creature, who regarded her dubiously as it flapped its wings.
The door opened again with the sound of slapping hand on it, and a petite brunette in jeans and a lemon yellow sweater stomped out, brown eyes furious. “Lockheed, apologize!” she ordered, pointing at the flying creature, who folded its diminutive arms and stuck its snout in the air.
“Lockheed?” Jane laughed, eyeing the purple dragon who, she could swear, smiled at her. “What a great name!”
“If only his attitude were as superb,” the younger woman replied with a sigh, turning to the new arrivals with a smile. “Hi, Kitty Pryde,” she said, holding out a hand and they shook it in turn.
“Jane Foster and this is Danica Haraldsen,” she told her, indicating the blonde, who was still having something of a staring contest with the alien reptile.
“It’s great to put a face to the voice,” Haraldsen said, smiling at Kitty. She squeaked when Lockheed flew right up to her, sniffing her curiously then circling her head before settling on Kitty’s shoulder.
Pryde’s eyebrows lifted as she looked at her pet, rubbing his nose. “That’s a new one, dragon.” She looked over at Danica, her head tilting. “I think you and I need to talk later…” she said pensively, then brightened. “Well, since you’re both here, let’s head back in to the fray.”
She turned and walked back into the lab, where one of the computer techs glared at Lockheed, his lab coat crumpled in a wastebasket and coated in white fire extinguisher foam. “Lockheed doesn’t like him,” Kitty explained quietly, leading the way over to her station that she’d set up next to Danica and Jane’s desks.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Foster returned, turning on her computer and sitting down. “How has it been today?” she asked, pulling her data pad from her bag and turning around to speak with the team as they all brought chairs over or stood around the desks.
“Slow,” one of the women replied, a tall brunette of Latin descent, as she checked her own pad. “But good. After the setbacks we had, we’re making good progress today.”
The conversation stopped as the doors opened and Tony Stark walked in, Pepper Potts close behind, her icepick-thin Louboutins snapping on the linoleum.
“I’m here, please begin the celebration!” he declared, pulling off his violet-lensed glasses and tucking them in his bomber jacket pocket as he walked over with a grin. “Danica, bikini and margarita on the rocks, right? Jane, Dirty Banana and a string bikini, yes?” he offered, leering, then stopping when he caught sight of Kitty. “And who are you?” he asked, starting to drape an arm around her shoulders when Lockheed growled at him, a tiny flicker of flame appearing from his lips.
“Almost legal and a student of Xavier’s, which means she has friends that can hurt you in interesting ways,” Pepper remarked dryly, Tony recoiling even further.
Kitty held her hand out and shook Tony’s. “Kitty Pryde,” she said coolly, smirking up at him. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Stark.”
“Likewise,” he sighed, sliding back to stand with Pepper. “I suppose I am destined for only you, Potts,” he said wistfully, and she stepped away to meet Kitty, who was grinning at their interplay. “I can’t win,” he pouted, folding his arms as the four women looked over at him witheringly.
“Tony, I do need to speak with you, though,” Danica said, stepping away. “Jane, I think you may need to be in on this also,” she said, looking back to her and the astrophysicist nodded and stood. “When would be alright?” she asked, now looking at Pepper and Tony chuckled. She knew who held the reins and that was okay with him.
“We’ve got a meeting with Fury in ten minutes, so after that ought to work,” Pepper replied, checking the schedule on her BlackBerry and making a note.
Jane and Danica exchanged a glance.
“We’ll bring chocolate,” Jane smiled, knowing that a meeting with the director was never anything calmer than walking across an interstate.
“I’ll hold you to that!” Tony called back, already walking to the lab doors, Pepper waving to the team as she followed.
Kitty pursed her lips, watching their progress thoughtfully. “I’d heard stories…” she muttered and Jane snorted.
“They’re all true and then some,” she replied, shifting her fingers back through her hair and exhaling before she sat back down to re-start the staff meeting.
Tony Stark rubbed a hand over his face as he eased himself into a soft chair in his penthouse’s living room, smiling as he watched Pepper walk back in to the room with her tea, Jane and Danica already sitting on the couch opposite him and each with their own beverage. He kept an apartment in town for when he needed to travel to this base, finding it easier to have his own property to work from rather than a hotel.
“You know, this would be any man’s dream,” he commented, eyeing the three women grouped in his home-away-from-home.
“Do you want me to belch or do something awful?” Danica asked Pepper, who only shook her head with a sigh.
“It would only encourage him to be even ruder,” she replied, letting him pull her into his lap, the billionaire careful of her hot drink as she settled.
Tony took a sip of his bourbon then set it aside to give the scientists his attention. “What did you need to talk to me about?” he asked. “I’m guessing it’s really good since you asked for a private meeting place somewhere off-site of SHIELD…” He quirked an eyebrow.
Danica leaned forward, setting her bare feet on the floor from where she’d been sitting tailor-style on the couch. “Tony, has Fury said anything to you about what will happen if or when we make the breakthrough to Asgard? Has he set up anything like an emissary to speak with Odin and the other rulers of the Nine Realms?”
Stark frowned and Pepper stood up to sit in the chair he vacated as he got up to walk the room, his fingers idly picking up a metal puzzle globe from a side table as he went. “There’ve been a few murmurs here and there, but not anything solid that I know of. I’ve heard it might be Coulson who they send in to speak, God help us all, since he is the usual first-contact person for SHIELD’s dealings. Why?” He fiddled with the puzzle, not looking at them, though they knew he wasn’t being evasive or dishonest. Tony just had way too much energy to ever be still.
“Because it’s not like we’re just driving down the road to our kindly old grandpa’s house to say ‘hi’,” Jane replied. “We may be making contact with Odin, Father of the Gods? And I don’t think he’s going to take kindly to us coming in his house, so to speak, without calling ahead.”
Tony nodded, thinking as he walked. “That’s very true. And I’d like to say that I’m sure Nicky has thought of this and has a winning and irresistibly charming speech for Coulson to memorize, but knowing of their past methods of meeting new people…”
They fell silent; the only sound the slight chime of the ice cubes in Tony’s glass falling together as they melted.
Danica sighed, holding up a hand. “I just am having second thoughts about this whole project and letting SHIELD handle it. What with the Avengers project on the horizon, it just kind of worries me that it seems like SHIELD’s amassing some kind of super army and I don’t want its target to be Asgard.”
Pepper looked over at her, a thoughtful frown beginning to darken her face. “No offense, but why the sudden concern for Asgard?” she asked. “You’ve been at the forefront of this endeavor for months, and now you’ve got cold feet?”
Danica bit her lip, and Jane reached over and touched her arm supportively. Danica squared her shoulders and looked at Pepper and Tony directly. “I suppose it’s because I don’t want to see some power-mad Midgardian “defense” force attempt to conquer my home,” she admitted finally. “Especially since they’re trying to get a handle on this Hulk creature, they have you, and I’ve heard that they’re moving Clint Barton into that area as well. If they got their hands on what Asgard has, the result would be catastrophic.”
Tony spluttered. “They don’t ‘have’ me, Danica,” he insisted, even as Pepper was gaping at her.
“Your home?” Pepper repeated, eyes wide. She looked to Tony, who was still playing with his puzzle, though now with a bit of a glare over Haraldsen’s comment regarding his alleged employment. “She’s from Asgard?”
Tony shook his head and walked over to take another pull of his drink. “I knew there was something different about you,” he shrugged and set down the puzzle with a grin. “Stands to reason you’re a goddess.”
Danica laughed and Jane slumped against the back of the couch, relieved that he’d taken it all so well.
“Don’t worry about SHIELD and Asgard, or rather The Avengers and Asgard,” Tony said, moving over to sit between the two women. “I have a few plans for the project, and I don’t think it’ll trouble you.”
Jane eyed him warily. “This should be interesting…”
Chapter 9: Chapter 8
S'mores and misunderstandings...
All That I Can Say: Chapter 8
By: M. Greystone
Disclaimer: Not making any money off of this, nor do I own any part of it, save Danica.
Danica sat in her car for a moment when she returned home and rested her head on her hands on the steering wheel and enjoyed the quiet. After the meeting at Tony’s they had returned to the lab where progress was really starting to be made with the portal. Having Kitty there, with her firsthand knowledge of dimension-jumping was a huge help, and for all her worries over what would happen should the project be successful, Danica was really enjoying having her on the team. At the end of the work day, Jane had left before she had to retrieve some more clothes for herself from her apartment, and Danica had stopped by the grocery store to pick up some more supplies. She had a feeling her pantry was being slowly decimated by a certain ‘svelte’ member of Thor’s party.
A knock on the window made her jump and she looked out to see the aforementioned warrior standing outside her car, concern wrinkling his brow. He moved back to allow her to get out, his arms folding over his button-up shirt as he looked down at her.
“Is something ailing you?” he asked, setting his palm against her forehead like he did for his own children when they were ill, and she laughed and shook her head.
“No, it was just a very long and trying day, my friend,” she answered, walking around to the back of the vehicle and opening the trunk to start removing the groceries, Volstagg helping to carry some of the bags. “How was it here? Were you all alright?”
“Very well, thank you,” he said, following her up the stairs and into the house, the scent of something wonderful wafting through the rooms from the kitchen. “Hogun and Thor walked down the road to a book shop, where the proprietors apparently know you and Jane. They had a fire the other day, a small one, Thor said, but the shop appears to be in sound condition.”
Danica frowned as she kicked off her shoes set the bags on the island, looking over at Jane who was stirring a pot of tomato sauce on the stove. “Did you hear about the fire?” she asked, unloading items and organizing them into piles depending on where they’d go in the kitchen and pantry.
“Yeah, Thor told me when I got in,” Jane replied. “Very odd. It seems like it happened the day we were in there.” She shook her head. “Anyway, Volstagg told me there was a bit of ‘uh-huh…’ going on in the garden last night?” She smirked evilly, her eyebrows lifted as Danica smiled through a blush.
“Is that what you and Fandral were whispering about this morning?” she asked, shooting a look at the redheaded man who was putting away cereal in the cupboard, Volstagg clearing his throat disapprovingly.
“Volstagg the Voluminous does not ‘whisper’!” he insisted. “’Tis unseemly and dishonorable!” he glared, almost pouting. “And yes, that is what we were discussing,” he clarified, turning away to put up a jar of peanut butter.
“So…?” Jane prompted, lifting the lid off of another pot, steam clouding out of it before she sprinkled in salt and then added a box of pasta.
Danica sighed, laughing as she folded bags and stowed them in a drawer. “Kitty called me in the middle of the night, as you know,” she replied, getting out the baguettes she’d bought and slicing them open. “So, I went outside to talk to her and not wake up the house. While I’m on the phone, Fandral follows me out and lets me explain what’s going on with the project. One thing led to another and we were arguing about Loki and his possible involvement with sabotaging our work, which of course ended up going back to our almost-wedding,” she sighed, spreading butter on the bread and adding garlic and herbs to it. Her mouth twisted and she shook her head. “Loki was somehow behind the misunderstanding that day,” she said lowly. “Fandral was innocent.”
Volstagg quietly left the room, going out the back door where the others were enjoying the sunset as they discussed potential plans around the burning fire pit, and Jane stepped closer.
“I’m so sorry, hon,” she said softly, looking out the window as Volstagg sat down in one of the chairs, accepting a goblet of ale from Sif.
“I am, too, in a way,” Danica said, her hands braced on the island. “On one hand, I’m relieved that Fandral and I can pick up and start over, but on the other…I just hate to think Loki could do something to hurt us like that; hurt me.”
Out in the yard, Fandral looked up through the windows to see the slump to Danica’s shoulders as she talked to Jane, Volstagg having just told him what was being discussed indoors.
“I did not even hear when you re-entered the house,” Hogun commented from beside Fandral. “I had heard the Lady Danica leave, but not you, nor your return. I suppose I must have fallen asleep once more.”
Fandral grit his teeth, staring into the flames. “Because I never left the house,” he said finally. “Danica was in the garden with Loki.”
Sounds of disbelief met his ears, Volstagg shaking his head. “That’s not possible, Fandral. I saw you with my own eyes, standing beside her as she spoke on her telly-phone, and then the two of you speaking afterwards. And then…well, I would imagine she had blissful dreams from the kiss you gave her, my friend,” he chuckled, turning his mirth into a cough when Fandral glared at him.
“I tell you truly, it was not I who was outside last eve!” he insisted hotly. “I saw them, also, from the kitchen window, because I was awakened by Danica going out-of-doors. I wanted to make sure she was alright, and I saw Loki walking towards her. It was he who she spoke with, he who she…kissed…” He grimaced, a bitter taste entering his mouth at the words.
The Warriors were silent, digesting this information.
“I know not what to say,” Thor spoke finally. “I suppose she ought to know what you saw…”
“Or, would it be safer for her not to know?” Sif wondered aloud, a hand lifted imploringly. “Let Loki think she believes it was Fandral, since that is the illusion he gave her?”
Thor nodded. “Aye, I think you are right, Sif. What say you, Fandral? She is your lady; I believe her safety is your chief concern.”
“I believe Sif has it aright. We should carry on this charade for now,” he replied. “And we will see what The Trickster has planned next.”
Dinner was called a little while later, everyone returning outside to eat in the cool twilight, Jane applauding when Danica went back inside after the meal to retrieve supplies for s’mores.
“What are s’mores?” Thor wondered, mouth fumbling over the alien word.
Jane sighed, a touch dreamily. “Basically, edible sin,” she quipped.
Sif blinked, her eyes wide and almost fearful. “You can eat wrong doings? And you enjoy it?” she asked, worried now. Perhaps they had underestimated these mortals…
Jane laughed. “You’ll see.”
Danica returned shortly and handed out long metal skewers, then demonstrated how to assemble the dessert. “Marshmallow first,” she said, spearing the soft white sweet and getting two large squares of graham crackers from the box. “Chocolate on the crackers,” she advised, placing a rectangle of the substance on the biscuit and resting it for a minute on her denim-clad leg while she held the marshmallow over the flames. “And you don’t want to get it too done,” she grinned, turning the skewer so the marshmallow browned fairly evenly, a couple of burned patches appearing before she blew them out, “unless you like the taste of char.” She picked up the chocolate-laden cracker, holding the plain one at an angle against it with her thumb and neatly sandwiched the marshmallow between them. “And there you go!” she said triumphantly, setting her skewer on her armrest so she could lick a drip of chocolate off her palm, Fandral shifting for a moment in his seat as she did.
“And this is safe?” Volstagg asked, watching as Thor held a skewered marshmallow over the flames, the Thunder God exclaiming when it caught fire suddenly, Jane laughing as he hastily blew it out.
Danica nodded, nibbling at the cookie and smoothing away a smear of chocolate and marshmallow from the corner of her mouth with a finger. “For the most part, yes. Don’t try to eat the marshmallow directly off of the skewer and wait a minute for it to cool once you have it all put together,” she advised, settling back in her chair and smiling as the others started to make their own treats.
Thor stared at the dessert in his hand after he’d taken a bite, nothing short of wonder on his face. “How do we not have such a thing at home?” he demanded of the others. “Surely this is taken from Valhalla itself?”
“Sinful,” Sif agreed with Jane, nodding over at her with a smile.
“Told you,” Foster replied, grinning back and enjoying her own s’more.
A curse from Fandral had everyone looking at him in time to see him attempting to pluck melted marshmallow from his goatee, Danica handing him a napkin sympathetically.
“Admit it, you were just trying to save it for later,” she teased, wiping at a spot he missed with her own napkin, her smile widening just a little when he winked at her.
“No, it was merely a ruse to get you closer,” he murmured and she chuckled.
“I knew that beard was a bad idea. It’s apparently trying to take over your mind with devious plots,” she returned, leaning back and he pouted, taking another bite of dessert.
“It was not a bad idea,” he defended. “My beard is fine.”
She shook her head, still laughing softly. “Of course it is,” she replied, patting his arm. “Don’t fret over it.”
He glared, almost playfully, and went back to watching their friends as they listened to the night birds singing, their conversations quiet in the glow of the fire. He grinned when Danica’s hand moved over to cover his, the woman speaking with Jane as she did so, the gesture as natural as it had been during their courtship. He turned his hand to be palm up, not missing the smile that crossed her face as he did so, her conversation never faltering.
Loki glared from the shadows behind them, the sounds of laughter and comfortable speech grating to his ears, the sight of Danica’s hand in Fandral’s a bitter shard in his heart.
He expected this. He’d brought this about, and he knew how to make it work for his own plans.
But it didn’t make it any easier to be on the outside of his brother’s group of friends. Again.
Chapter 10: Chapter 9
Loki musings, early mornings, and hanging out with Tony and Pepper.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 9
By: M. Greystone
If I owned it, you’d be watching it on the big screen, guys.
Author’s Note: my best friend, ValentineDuchess, wrote a snippet for the story and I had to fit it in. Really, it would have been a tragedy not to, so I do hope you enjoy the little hidden bonus in this chapter. I’m sure you’ll find it and love it as much as I do! Cheers!
Loki sat in the booth at the diner, his hands wrapped around a mug of tea, the drone of chatter around him flowing unheeded to his ears as he lost himself in his thoughts. He wasn’t really drinking the tea; his appetite had abandoned him for the night when he’d been at Danica’s, alone on the outside of her ring of chairs, the shadows cloaking him in their embrace.
She looked happy, an ease about her that he envied as she relaxed in her yard, the chatter of her friends as warm as the fire they were gathered around.
He missed them. He hated to let himself admit that, but it was the truth. And it had been easier for him in his exile to get to visit with Danica, to stay in her home and be around someone who understood where he was from. But now…
He glared as someone slid harshly into the booth behind him, a large group of people jostling the bench even through the padding between the two tables. Mortals. Uncouth, barbaric, smelly, ignorant mortals.
He could not understand what the draw of some of them was for his brother and for Danica.
“…and then her damn dragon set my coat on fire!” one of the heathens in the booth exclaimed, his voice pitched lower so the entire diner didn’t hear his complaint, though Loki heard it quite clearly.
“A dragon? Are you kidding me, man?” another scoffed. “I know you get some strange-ass things coming in to your job, but a dragon?”
“Dead serious. She’s one of the X-Men, you know those guys up in New York that the news keeps trying to find out about, but no one’s saying anything!” the first guy replied, Loki realizing it was one of the men from SHIELD. Marvin or something like that, he couldn’t remember.
“So not only do you have some gateway to another world in that place, the girlfriend of some Norse god, and a dragon, you’ve got one of the X-Men?” yet another question, Loki starting to feel almost concerned that these humans were so aware of what was going on in Danica’s lab.
“Yeah, well, a gateway that doesn’t work,” Marvin said sourly. “We can’t get it to run yet, and every time we try to figure out how to do it, either one of the simulations shows us all being blown to hell, or something does actually go wrong in the lab.” He chuckled after this, darkly, and Loki’s head tilted slightly at the tone. “Not that I’d know anything about that…”
More laughter sounded around the table, and the God of Mischief smirked when the laughter turned to shouts of surprise when Marvin’s water glass suddenly sprouted cracks in it as the water froze in an instant then shattered into frost across the table.
Silence reigned in the diner and Loki took a small sip of his tea, closing his eyes and almost smiling as the group left as suddenly as they came in, their waitress glaring at the mess left on their table.
Loki stood slowly and left money under his table’s salt shaker, following the group outside.
“Sir, don’t you need change?” the waitress called after him, shock widening her eyes as she stared at him.
“No.” He nodded slightly to her and left, the woman staring at the $100 bill he’d left for her.
Danica jumped, nearly dropping her toothbrush as she was spreading paste on it when Loki’s face appeared over her shoulder in the mirror, the woman whirling to stare at him, her nightgown flaring around her ankles.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, clutching her toothbrush and spreading a hand over her heart as it raced from the surprise. “Are you alright?” She frowned, not liking the tired lines beginning to be evident on his features.
He caught her hand before she could touch him, his fingers cold but not hurtful. “Be careful,” he said quietly. “Be watchful.”
She blinked, shaking her head slowly. “I don’t understand,” she admitted.
Loki lifted her hand and gently kissed her knuckles before fading out again. “Just be careful, Danica,” he said quietly, leaving her alone in her bathroom once more.
She jumped again, glaring, when someone knocked on the door, and she stomped over to it and yanked it open, still holding her toothbrush in her other hand. On the other side, Fandral stared, mouth open almost comically in his shock, his hand raised to knock again if needed.
“Yes?” Danica asked testily, peering out into her room to see if anyone else was waiting to speak to her. Thankfully, everyone else was either downstairs or outside.
“Er…I heard voices. I wanted to make certain you were alright,” he replied, lowering his arm and looking behind her into the empty washroom.
She sighed and moved away to brush her teeth, keeping an eye on the blond man as he moved in to the tiny room with her. “I’m fine,” she said, wetting the brush under the faucet and then brushing.
Fandral frowned, leaning closer to watch. “You are foaming at the mouth,” he commented, head tilting curiously. He poked a finger into the aqua paste in the end of the tube on the counter and tasted. “H’m…”
She rinsed and spat as delicately as possible, then hung the brush in the drying rack. “You brought the mint water from home, didn’t you?” she asked and he nodded. “I was wondering, since no one had removed their brushes from the boxes except Thor.”
She’d explained what to do, but hadn’t demonstrated, so she wasn’t terribly surprised that he was intrigued by this aspect of Midgardian toilet. “Can I help you with anything else?” she asked, herding him towards the door and turning off the bathroom light.
Fandral grinned as he eyed her bed, the downy white quilt puffy and inviting.
Danica lightly shoved him to the bedroom door, Fandral’s feet scuffing a little on the wooden floor. “But…” he protested, planting his hands on the doorframe when he reached it and turning about to kiss her quickly, laughing as he caught sight of her gaping after him as he went back down the hall. “Sweet dreams, my love!” he wished, walking down the stairs, Danica growling as she closed the door.
Fandral stopped on the stairs when he heard the latch click, the sound of his friends outside carrying in to the house through the screened back door. He knew he had heard Loki, would have staked his life on it, but there was no sign of the Trickster and Danica didn’t look as if…
He shook his head at himself, glancing back to her door, the soft glow of her bedside lamp shining under the portal. She was safe for now, he consoled himself as he went back downstairs. He’d make sure of it.
The next morning Danica rose early to get breakfast started and to get in to the lab as soon as she could. Sif woke slightly before she left the room, but fell back asleep when Danica waved at her that she was going downstairs.
As she walked down the hall, carrying her shoes so her feet didn’t make too much noise, she noticed steam curling from the doorway of the upstairs bath, the door cracked slightly. She moved closer, intending to pull it to, when she glanced in and realized Fandral was awake also, the steam being the remnants of his bath. He stood at the sink, hair slicked back and still dripping slightly, long rivulets of water tracking over his shoulders and back and down into the waist of the towel he’d wrapped around his hips.
He didn’t see her, his head down as he stood with hands braced on the sink, a slim, ornate dagger and a small pot of clear soap he’d brought with him by the basin, and his clothes for the day were folded neatly on the countertop. He looked as if his thoughts weighed heavily, and she wondered if he was sleeping alright, especially being so far from home. She bit her lip when he exhaled, but she didn’t move, transfixed with the man in front of her as he smoothly applied the soap to his face.
Words wounded him, especially when they were hers and were so perfectly aimed. She had learned that skill well, wielding them as deftly as she would her fathers’ weapons and they never failed to strike their mark. He knew she’d made the comment about his appearance in jest, but the words still hurt. As he stood in front of the mirror, steam rising up from the water in the porcelain basin between his hands, he knew he would never be so strong as to not feel the sting of her insults to his vanity.
Fandral picked up the shiny blade on the counter beside the sink and sighed, not sensing the presence of the woman just outside the door, not having noticed he’d left it ajar in the fog of his whirling mind.
Danica watched as he slid the razor along his neck, removing the foaming gel in sure, slow strokes, and she was captivated. She had always been so, regardless of her demeanor towards him. He was her weakness, and she couldn’t take her eyes away from the gentle grace in his movements. The way his wrist curved, the strength in his fingers, the certainty in his eyes when he finally lay the blade down to splash the hot water over his face.
She sighed inwardly when he drew his thumb along the smooth line of his jaw and turned his head, admiring his work.
It was then that he saw her in the mirror, the whites of her eyes bright and her irises sparkling in the amber light as she watched him and he couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped when she ducked quickly into the hallway and disappeared.
Maybe she wasn’t completely lost to him, after all.
The lab was quiet and dim when Danica walked in, and she smiled as she set down her back on her desk and just stood there, admiring the gate in the lowered light. For all of her trepidations about the project and its potential repercussions, she was still extremely proud of their work. She’d enjoyed her time at SHIELD, loved her team and the friendships she’d formed, especially with Jane, who now was practically a sister to her because of her relationship with Thor, and she was happy to have been a part of this venture.
She took a breath, eyes tracking over the gleaming archway once more before turning away to raise the lights and start the workday. Soon the computers were humming with power, screens flickering with diagnostic checks that always reminded her of someone stretching out the kinks of sleep before they opened their eyes fully, and she sat down at her own console, immersing herself in calculations and notes within moments.
She nearly jumped a mile, understandably, when Lockheed alighted on her desk a little while later, Kitty laughing to see Danica gasping for breath while giggling also.
“I’m awake now!” she said breathlessly, gently petting the dragon’s head and smiling at the younger woman as she came over.
Kitty set her own messenger bag down and looked at Danica’s work, nodding. “You were really into what you’re doing. How is it?” she asked, sitting down also.
“I think we can make a test run,” was the reply. “But I need to speak with the Director before we go into that.” She turned as the doors opened again, Tony Stark walking in with Pepper, the billionaire looking remarkably awake at the early hour.
“Greetings, True Believers, what’s the sitch?” he asked, straddling one of the other office chairs and scooting over, ruining the line of his charcoal pinstriped suit.
“I think we’re ready for a run today,” Danica told him, and his eyebrows rose.
“Yeah?” he smiled. “Excellent. But, I think you’ll want to talk to Nicky before, though. I spoke with him the other day about your concerns, and he agrees.” He stopped and rolled his eyes with a grimace when Pepper coughed delicately behind him, his assistant pretending to be engrossed with her phone once more. “Okay, well, he does kinda. But mainly it’s because he and I had some words, shall we say, regarding this project…” He smirked, enjoying being the focus of their attention as Danica and Kitty stared at him. “I think we’ll wait until Jane comes in to finish this discussion, though.”
“Tony…” Danica said lowly, folding her arms and swiveling to face him, the purple dragon behind her folding its arms also and fixing Stark with a beady glare.
Tony held up his hands and leaned back slightly out of the reach of their ire. “No, she needs to hear this, too, and I’d rather not repeat myself.”
“But it would give you a chance to hear yourself talk more,” Pepper muttered with a tiny smile, setting off some quiet giggling from the women and a glare from her boss.
“I don’t recall hearing you complain last night about my talking—“ He laughed and shut his mouth when she turned sheet white and gaped at him, then shifted to an icy frown before turning back to her BlackBerry.
“How have you not sued him yet?” Kitty wondered, her curls sliding against her shoulders as she tilted her head to study the pair.
“It’s a daily struggle,” Pepper replied, patting Tony’s shoulder and he grinned.
Jane walked in then, one eyebrow winging up at the sight of the group now looking at her. “Uh, hi?” she said, approaching her desk with a confused smile.
“Sit, please, so Tony can begin story time,” Danica requested, tugging Jane’s chair out for her, and Foster sat.
The instant Foster’s bottom touched the chair Tony announced, “I’m taking over the Earth to Asgard project, and the Avengers are mine.”
It was a matter of heartbeats before pandemonium broke loose, Danica and Jane jumping out of their chairs with loud exclamations, Kitty stepping forward also with Lockheed wrapped around her neck.
“You what?!” Danica cried, her eyes wide, though a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.
“Are we moving?” Jane demanded, hands on hips.
Tony laughed, standing up to face them. “I’m taking over Avengers and moving it to New York to my parents’ old house for a base of operations. We’ll begin moving things over in the next two days. The E.t.A. project will undoubtedly be moving there also though will not be owned by Stark Industries, and neither will the Avengers. I want to speak with your team first before we do anything, and let them, and you, know that I’ll be taking over the moving costs for everyone, if they decide to go, and make sure they have residences before this project moves forward in a new location. Both projects will be privately funded, rather than owned. You both will serve on the board of advisors for the gate and as the chief project managers, if you like, and Kitty, you’re more than welcome to stay on also,” he smiled and she shrugged.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but I’ll look into it,” she grinned.
Tony looked at the three of them, folding his arms. “Well? What do you think?”
Jane puffed out a breath and glanced at Danica, both of them stunned by this new twist in their lives. “Um…”
“I think you all need to come over for dinner tonight,” Haraldsen said, biting her lip and looking at the others. “Or maybe dessert…” She frowned and Jane nodded.
“Dessert would be better.”
Chapter 11: Chapter 10
Sword-practice in the garden and Tony and Pepper stop by.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 10
Disclaimer: I don’t own this, not making money from this. Danica is in my camp, though.
Author’s note: this chapter has a bit more adult-esque themes in it. A few blatant hints, as it were. You’ve been warned!
By the time Danica got home after making another run to the store, this time for dessert supplies, the sun was almost going down, casting the sky in tangerine and orange with a few streaks of opalescent turquoise and lavender. She got out of the car with her bags and stopped, her mouth falling open slowly at the familiar metallic sounds coming from her backyard.
“Odin’s beard, please don’t be doing what I think you’re doing,” she muttered, hurrying up the steps and throwing the perishable items into the fridge and freezer before she raced to the window to stare outside.
She groaned into a whimper as she saw Thor and Fandral, stripped to the waist and moving around her backyard in an intricate volley of swordplay. Jane was perched in one of the lawn chairs, safely out of harm’s way, staring at the two as they shouted insults at each other, silver blades flashing in the dying light. The other Warriors and the Lady Sif were observing also, calling out advice and laughing or groaning depending on how a move was executed. Danica’s eyes narrowed as she studied the weapons, and she whipped around to look into her living room, her teeth gritting to find that one of her broadswords that she kept displayed over the mantel was missing. The weapon was from Asgard, and one of her personal blades, though she hadn’t had cause to use any of them in decades. As she glanced back outside, she thought she might change that policy in the next few minutes.
She started to go out, fury bubbling in her blood because, really, what would the neighbors think, and had the police been called? But she stopped herself, took a breath, and smiled as another plan began to form.
Jane grinned and waved as Danica walked down the back steps, her friend looking comfortable out of her slacks and sweater set she’d worn at the lab, her heels replaced with soft leather flats and her dressier clothes swapped for a thin ballet sweater and form-fitting leggings. She carried a book, one finger already marking a page about a third of the way in and a few soft throw blankets, which she offered to the audience, Jane and Volstagg accepting, before she settled in another chair and tucked her own blanket over her feet.
“I take it they got bored?” she asked, clicking her reading light on over her book where it was clipped to the cover and nodding once to the pair whose insults carried over the grass and were sure to set fire to their ears.
“I think Fandral feared he was losing muscle,” Sif replied. “He said he supposed Thor would do for a sparring partner.”
“This, of course, set our boy into motion, and they took it outside,” Volstagg added.
Jane smiled and propped her chin in her palm, staring at the two men as their hilts almost locked and Fandral shoved the prince away, Thor executing a quick roll on the grass before leaping to his feet. “I’m not complaining,” she mumbled.
Danica sniffed and looked down at her book, tuning out the loud chime of steel on steel.
“Mrs. Truzuski stopped by a few minutes ago to see what was going on,” Jane put in, not looking away.
Danica turned the page, glancing up in time to see Fandral go sprawling, then execute a kip-up to stand, grabbing his fallen sword as he went. “Oh?” she asked, looking back down.
“We explained that we were stage players practicing for an upcoming banquet,” Hogun said, frowning as he studied Thor’s parry.
Danica nodded, impressed with the quick thinking. “Did she believe you?” she asked, wincing as she heard a blade whistle and thunk into the turf, a string of curses following as someone went to retrieve their weapon.
“She said that sounded “fun” and wanted to have us over for tea this weekend,” Sif said, leaning and moving unconsciously with the fighters, studying their techniques.
Danica nodded again, still engrossed in her book. She didn’t look up when Jane gasped, a quick swipe of Fandral’s sword at Thor’s legs making the Thunder God leap up and into a backflip, his laughter echoing. She didn’t flinch when Fandral cursed Thor’s grandchildren as he was forced to sidestep a jab at his ribcage, his opponent’s sword nearly nicking him.
But when she heard the shatter of crockery from her topiary rosebush’s pot tinkle through the gloaming, her head snapped up.
“That does it,” she growled, getting out of her seat and stalking over the cool grass to the men standing sheepishly beside the casualty.
She held out a hand silently to Thor, who presented the sword to her, hilt first, the blade resting on one of his gauntlets that he’d donned for the session. He moved away, walking as swiftly as his ego would allow while Danica glared at Fandral.
“Sweetness, I do apologize…” he started, yelping when she smacked his sword from his grip with her own weapon, the tall man shaking his hand from the sting.
“Pick it up,” she said lowly, holding her anger in check when the ghost of a grin touched his mouth and he crouched to retrieve the blade, never taking his gaze from her.
“As you wish.”
They circled each other slowly, feet softly whispering through the grass as they assessed each other. Fandral’s sword shot up and she blocked him deftly, his chuckle rankling her as they went back to watching each other. She lunged unexpectedly, nearly catching the underside of his bicep before he spun away, and she lifted her arm over her head to stop the swift downward arc he’d aimed at her back, applause from the gallery falling on deaf ears as she turned to face him again.
“Quit mucking about,” she snapped.
“It’s called foreplay, love. Don’t you remember?” he smiled, blowing a kiss to her before attacking, Danica now grinning as she picked up the fight.
She moved faster than Thor had, almost dancing as she defended herself, then switched to offensive maneuvers that drove Fandral back across the yard.
“Shit…” Jane breathed, her fingers over her mouth as she gaped, Fandral’s laughter carrying back to them as he landed a kiss on Danica’s hand, nearly getting the hilt of her sword to his ear for his trouble.
“Her father trained her well,” Sif said proudly, her own hands itching for her weapon as she watched. “Though she always preferred the sciences to the battlefield.”
“They are well-matched,” Thor added, folding his arms and leaning back in his chair with a smirk, his ankles crossing as he stretched out his legs in front of him.
Jane smiled at him and he took her hand, squeezing her fingers affectionately as they turned back to the fight.
“You shaved the beard,” Danica remarked, breathing through her lips as she moved back from Fandral, an upward block moving quickly into a thrust that he switched into a shove, the basket of his hilt clacking against her hand guard.
“It was troublesome,” he replied, shrugging.
She laughed, flicking her eyebrows flirtatiously. “You took me seriously.”
“I was tired of it.” He raised his arms to block her overhead attack then pushed her away, Danica falling onto her shoulder only to roll into a crouch and then back up.
“You think me so dense?” she demanded, grinning, parrying once more and edging him backwards. “I make a remark in jest about your bloody goatee and you shave it off the next morn? I hardly think you had pondered it before.”
He shook his head. “Believe what you like, sweetheart. I care not what you think of me.”
“I try not to think of you,” she returned, scoffing, then biting down on a squeak when he attacked. Her arms were beginning to tire. It had been many years since she’d picked up a blade, never mind facing an opponent of Fandral’s caliber. But she’d knit a sweater for Hel sooner than she’d admit she was hurting.
“And yet you could not help but admire me this morn,” he teased, touching her jaw in a sliding caress when she was close enough. “I admit, it brought me pleasure to see you smile because of me.”
She snorted and pushed him away. “I was merely happy you had not cut yourself. Cleaning up your blood from my sink is the last thing I want to add to my list of chores.”
She started another round, anger rising again as he only wiped a trickle of sweat from his brow while she felt as though her arms and shoulders were on fire.
“I would only ask that your list be ways I can please you, my lady, and that you would allow me to attempt every one of them,” he smiled, locking his sword with hers and sending her weapon winging away from them, Danica’s eyes widening when he backed her against a hydrangea bush, the iolite blue flowers cushioning her as she tried to get away from the sharp point of his blade. “What say you, Danica?” Fandral asked softly. “Shall I please you?”
A blush flamed over her cheeks and her mouth opened on an incredulous gasp, but he could see the smile that wanted to form. She started to answer, the invitation in his eyes making her heart race, when Tony Stark called a greeting, and she took the opportunity to push Fandral away, her hands going automatically to straighten her clothes and hair as she walked away.
She smiled and waved at her guests, Jane going through the introductions for both the Asgardians and Tony and Pepper, who couldn’t help but stare at the imposing immortals.
“Hi, Tony, Pepper,” Danica said, brushing her bangs back from where they had fallen into her eyes.
“That was some impressive work,” Tony grinned, nodding back to where she’d been fighting, Fandral now walking over with both swords in his hands. “Where’d you learn that?”
“My father,” she explained. “He’s the Weapons Master for Odin Allfather.”
Pepper blinked. “As in the Odin? Rides Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse? Father of the Norse gods?” She laughed somewhat tremulously as Danica nodded with a grin. “Wow…”
Tony looked at her, dark eyebrows lifted as he tilted his head. “You never told me you were a fan of Norse legends, Pep,” he said, leaning closer. “You had a crush on Thor didn’t you?” he teased, chuckling when she blushed and glared at him.
“He is pretty fantastic,” Jane smiled, wrapping her arms around the Thunder God’s elbow and looking up at him. She glanced behind Stark. “Where’s Kitty?” she asked.
“She’s on her way,” Pepper said, eyeing the protective stance the blond man in snug leggings and boots was taking behind Danica, his blue eyes assessing Tony. “Hi, Pepper Potts,” she greeted, holding out her hand to him, and gasping softly when he took it and bowed slightly over her fingers, gripping both sword hilts in one hand now.
“Fandral the Dashing. I am the Lady Danica’s husband.” He smiled down at the woman gaping at his side.
“No, you’re not,” she reminded him archly.
“Not yet,” he returned, his hand spreading across her back after he’d moved away from Pepper.
Tony smirked as he watched them. “Nic, you’re welcome to use my apartment if you guys need some time alone,” he offered and she glared at him.
“That’s very kind of you, Lord Stark,” Fandral smiled broadly, starting to like this friend of Danica’s.
“Let’s just all go inside, shall we?” she grated, leading the group indoors and seeing them settled in the den while she went to the kitchen to get dessert started.
She began pulling out ice cream from the freezer and fresh berries and heavy cream from the fridge, setting them out on the counter before turning to get her trifle dishes out of a cabinet, nearly bumping into Fandral when she turned to set them down. He’d put his shirt back on, the watery-blue cotton clinging to his sweat-dampened skin.
“I apologize,” he said, moving back when she took a knife out of the box and set it aside before retrieving two angel food cakes and opening their containers.
“For?” she asked, beginning to cube the cake and arranging pieces in the bottoms of the bowls.
“For angering you, for embarrassing you…” He looked at her soberly as she sliced, then carried the berries to the sink and began washing them for her.
She sighed, looking over her shoulder at him, resting her mouth against her arm as she grimaced. “I’m not angry, Fandral,” she said finally. “But it is frustrating how you keep saying you’re my husband, when we have not had the ceremony.” She set the knife down and went over to him, glancing at the group chatting in her living room for a moment. “And when did you embarrass me?” She folded her arms and tilted her head.
“When I knocked your sword from your hand. I know you hate to lose,” he smiled, adding more clean berries to the bowl he’d started by the sink.
“I didn’t lose. We simply paused our match,” she returned, and he laughed.
“So there’s hope for a continuance?” he asked, his smile turning soft and a little hopeful, and she blinked, her lips parting on a sigh.
“Yes, I think there is,” she answered finally, her heart jumping when he grinned, the light in his eyes dazzling.
“Then I accept the challenge,” Fandral said, turning off the water and drying his hands on a tea towel before he handed her the bowl. He snatched a raspberry and popped it in his mouth, winking as he strolled out of the kitchen. He apologized to the party when he entered the den, explaining that he was going to go and bathe, but that he would return and grace them with his presence once more, post haste.
Danica shook her head, watching him go, then returned to her dessert-making, not seeing the reflection of Loki in the window behind her, glaring at the exchange.
Upstairs, Fandral walked into the guest bathroom and sat down on the closed toilet to slip out of his boots and socks, exhaling happily to have his feet free. He got up to turn on the taps for the shower, peeling his shirt off as he straightened then noticed that they needed more towels in the room. He sighed, shutting off the water, and walking back out to go to Danica’s bathroom, where he’d seen several folded on the shelf she kept in there.
He collected the cloths and headed back out into her bedroom, smiling at how neat and tidy it was even with Sif bunking with her, when a small box on her vanity gave him pause. He approached slowly, setting the towels down on her bed and eyeing the tiny wooden chest in the glow of the hall light before he reached for it. He frowned as he caught the tiny tremor in his hands, cursing himself for a case of nerves as he opened it, his mouth dropping open slightly as he stared at the intricate ring within.
An oval of amber, as gleaming as an Asgardian sunset and set horizontally shone from its gold setting, tiny seed pearls and diamonds encrusting the gallery around the stone with carved crescents framing the pearls. It was a heavy ring, noble in its design, and Fandral smiled as he withdrew it from its gold velvet bed to look at the inscription he’d had carved inside the band. Beloved. Because Danica was beloved to him and by him. And he’d told her so when he gave her the ring, her eyes filling with tears as he’d slipped it over her finger the day their banns were read to the public. He tucked it back in the box and set it once more on the vanity, the Warrior smiling to himself as he retrieved the towels and went back to the guest bath. Beloved, indeed.
By the time he’d returned downstairs, dressed now in jeans and another t-shirt, this one in charcoal gray, Kitty had arrived and the group was almost through with the pseudo-trifles Danica had made. But it was the air that hung heavy over the conversation that made him frown as he walked in and sat on the armrest of Danica’s chair, the pucker of her brow concerning him.
“What troubles you, lovely?” he asked, bracing his hand on the back of the chair.
“There’s been some kind of sabotage at the lab,” she said quietly, looking to Kitty to explain, the young X-Woman scratching Lockheed’s chin as she glared into the cold fireplace.
“One of our lab techs decided to wipe out our memory banks and he and a few of his cohorts, who are also on a few other teams around the building, tried to creatively dismantle the gate,” she explained, her teeth close to clenching. “Luckily security caught them in time, and it seems to be okay, but…” She shook her head, Tony swearing colourfully under his breath.
“We need to go and test it, run some diagnostics,” he said, standing and going to get his motorcycle jacket from the hall closet.
Kitty looked up finally, her mouth falling open when she noticed Fandral, who smiled at her. “Cripes, you’re cute!” she exclaimed, breaking up some of the tension when the group started laughing.
“I thank you,” he bowed his head to her then reached to shake her hand. “Fandral.”
“He is my betrothed,” Danica explained, grinning when he stared at her in pleased shock. “Well, you are,” she shrugged, patting his leg before she stood also. “Fandral, this is Kitty Pryde. She’s a friend of a friend of Jane’s and is a brilliant addition to our team at the lab.”
“You need to meet my friend Kurt,” the other woman said, laughing slightly. “However, Tony’s right, we need to check on the project.”
The party got to their feet and the scientists walked to the door, though Fandral held Danica back.
“Wait here,” he said softly before hurrying upstairs. He returned shortly, Danica covering her mouth with one hand when she saw the box in his grip. “My lady,” he began, a gasp sounding from Jane, Kitty and Pepper as they stood in the foyer when he sank to one knee in front of her and took her hand. “Danica. I ask, once more, that you honor me by becoming my wife and accept this bauble, again once more, that is nothing compared to your brilliance and loveliness.”
“Oh, he’s good…” Kitty mumbled and Jane and Pepper nodded.
“Remember that sentence,” Pepper growled to Tony, elbowing him hard in the arm and he chuckled, wrapping that arm around her.
Fandral didn’t move from his position, though he smiled broadly as tears filled Danica’s eyes much the same way as they had when he’d first asked.
“Yes, of course,” she whispered, a tear slipping down as she watched him slide her ring over her finger, and she sighed with a smile to feel the familiar weight of it. Her arms went immediately around his shoulders when he stood again, her face bright with her happiness as she kissed him, the applause from their friends causing them to giggle through the embrace.
They parted slowly, Danica brushing away her tears with her fingertips as they walked to the door.
“She’ll be home soon,” Tony assured Fandral, grinning at the colour in Danica’s cheeks as she pulled on her own jacket.
“Bring her safe to me again,” the Warrior charged, walking with the others outside to the cars.
“Absolutely,” Stark promised, helping Pepper in to his Veyron and turning to shake Fandral’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“And you, Lord Stark,” was the response before he stepped back, watching as Thor said goodbye to Jane outside of Danica’s vehicle.
“I shall have a question for you soon as well,” the Thunder God told his lady, who grinned before he leaned in to kiss her.
“I look forward to it,” she replied.
Fandral stood by Danica’s door, the blonde woman leaning on the sill of the door with a smile. “I love you,” she said softly, and he exhaled with a chuckle to hear her say that again.
“And I love you,” he said, touching her face before he picked up her hand and kissed beside the ring. “It pleases me to see you wear that once more.”
“It pleases me also.” She kissed him, then sat back to memorize his face at that moment, tucking the memory away. “I’ll return soon.”
He nodded and stepped back, waving as she started the Rover and drove away into the night, the lights bright in the dark.
Chapter 12: Chapter 11
Dark days at the house.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 11
Disclaimer: Once more, with feeling…No, I don’t own Thor or his shiny little universe. Boo me.
He could hear chimes, like a hyper bell that kept repeating itself, and finally Fandral cracked open one eye and realized it was the phone in the kitchen that was ringing.
He rolled out of the sofa bed, tugging his t-shirt down over his pajama pants and hurrying as fast as he could in the near-dark of the house. He briefly wondered why Danica hadn’t awoken him when she’d returned home. Surely they were back by now, he reasoned as he picked up the receiver, turning it for a moment until he got the instrument held correctly against his ear and mouth.
“Greetings, Danica’s house,” he informed the caller, rubbing his eyes with his palm and stifling a yawn as he saw Hogun slipping in to the kitchen, a part of him amused that his friend’s nightclothes were as black as his usual attire. “Hello?” he repeated, frowning at the silence over the line that was suddenly broken by a shuddering intake of breath from the caller.
“Fandral?” Jane said shakily, and he felt his fingers go numb, the phone falling to the floor with a crash before Hogun caught it on a bounce.
There was something unbelievably wrong, he knew it. It wasn’t just Jane calling to say that they were stuck on a side road and were having difficulty with one of the vehicles. He made himself watch as Hogun held the phone himself, listening to the broken voice on the other end, the Asianesque Warrior offering an occasional grunt in acknowledgement before he turned off the device and returned it to its holder.
Hogun had earned the name ‘Grim’ for being so stoic, so silent. Never had Fandral seen the title refer to grief on the man’s face until now.
“She is gone, my friend,” Hogun said quietly, resting a palm on Fandral’s shoulder and pushing him to sit in one of the breakfast nook’s chairs when the blond man felt his knees fail him. “Jane said there was an accident and an explosion in the lab, and Danica—“
“Don’t say it,” Fandral hissed, no longer seeing his friend as he stared out the windows, Thor, Sif and Volstagg entering the room now. “Don’t you dare say it,” he ordered, staggering to his feet and walking out the back door, slamming it behind him as he went.
When Jane returned to the house later the sun was just peering over the horizon, and she pulled the handbrake on the Rover and turned it off, just sitting in the oppressive silence as she looked out the windshield at the cheerful pots of flowers spilling colour down the steps of the front porch.
Her eyes burned, her throat ached like she’d been strangled, and she wanted to climb in the shower and scrub her skin until the greasy, nauseated weight she felt pressing in on her went away. She blinked as she finally noticed Thor descending the steps, the prince’s face haggard with despair, his eyes as bleak as the day he’d been told, falsely, that Odin had passed away.
She opened the door and slid out, somehow managing to remember to grab her bag and stuff the car’s keys into her pocket before she was grabbed against the Thunder God, her tears falling as hotly as they had back at SHIELD.
They stood there, wrapped in each other, for neither knew how long until they parted, Jane wiping her eyes with the back of her sleeve with a groan. She leaned heavily on Thor as they walked to the house, the heavy band of his arm around her back warming her and making her even more exhausted, if that were possible. “How’s Fandral?” she asked, rubbing her eyes with her fingertips as they walked inside, the house quiet.
Thor shook his head and hung up her bag on the coat rack in the foyer, then followed her upstairs. “I know not. He left after you telephoned here, and has not been seen since.”
He went into the bathroom and turned on the taps, plugging the tub when the water was warm enough for his liking, then went back into the bedroom where Jane was numbly stripping out of her clothes, the smell of smoke and sweat clinging to the fabric, and she shoved them into the trashcan before shrugging into a bathrobe.
She looked up at the tender note in his voice, and he grimaced at the dark circles under her eyes, his lady looking even smaller than usual in the fluffy garment, her hair a tangled mess in its ponytail and her feet bare and chilled-looking.
“I’ve drawn a bath for you,” he smiled, holding out his hand and she smiled wanly, feeling tears start up again that she swallowed back.
“Thank you.” She let him lead her to the bathroom, Thor lighting candles for her on the counter and on the small table to the side of the clawfoot tub, then drawing the curtains to give her privacy.
“Take as long as you need,” he advised. “But I shall be in to check on you shortly.”
She nodded, then looked back at him as he was about to close the door. “Thor?”
He glanced up, eyebrows drawn together in worry. “Aye, Jane?”
She sighed and held out her hand. “Could you just sit with me for a little bit?”
The tall prince smiled and came back inside, shutting the door behind him before he took her hand. “Whatever you need, my love.”
Fandral winced as he emerged into the sunlight, the forest behind him a dark refuge he wished he could return to, but he knew he needed to get back to the house. He’d spent the night in the woods not far from the cottage, sometimes running, sometimes walking, but always feeling as if a ghost followed him in his rage and despair. It wasn’t her, whatever it was that dogged his footsteps. He knew that.
He needed sleep, needed food, and needed answers. But at the core of it all, he just needed her.
Chapter 13: Chapter 12
Wake up, I've been waiting for you.
All That I Can Say: Chapter 12
Disclaimer: Only the blonde chick belongs to me.
The crisp cotton drapes rippled in the breeze coming through the open windows, the eyelet ruffles dancing in the early morning sunshine.
Danica smiled as the scents from her herb garden danced in on the wind, the spicy green scent of basil making her eyes open slowly to look out at the puffy clouds sailing in the blue sky beyond her window.
She grumbled a happy sigh and closed her eyes again as she rolled over, the plush weight of her duvet almost as luxurious as the clouds she’d admired.
Now, the scent of a sweet musk mixed with an exotic peppery spice touched her nose, notes of woodsmoke and cedar lacing through the aroma, and she opened her eyes once more to look up at Fandral as he smiled down at her.
“Good morrow, sweetest,” he said from where he sat on top of the blankets, the tall warrior leaning comfortably against her headboard, his legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles, his arms folded over his armor.
She frowned, blinking, and buried her face in her pillow for a moment longer. “Why are you wearing your armor?” she asked, turning her head, her voice still slightly muffled by the cushion. “You’ve been enjoying your jeans and t-shirts, why that?”
His light eyes lost their humor, a sad smile thinning his lips as he leaned over and kissed her hair, gloved fingertips brushing her cheek as he sat up again. “Because it’s necessary, my love. The battle will be fierce, and I’d rather not be killed before I see you once more…”
She sat up then, her frown now more worried than curious. “What are you speaking of?” she demanded, reaching for him but the room began to dissolve away, Fandral staring sadly at her as he disappeared…
Danica awoke slowly, blinking at the swaths of emerald and gold silk above her, the canopy dancing lazily in the breeze from the open terrace beside her bedchamber. Far below, she could hear people talking and laughing as they went about their business, enjoying the bright sunshine drenching Asgard.
She blinked, sitting up and staring at the chamber stretching around her, the golden walls of Gladsheim warm and comforting, but she was in a room she didn’t recognize. She looked down at the splendid nightdress she wore, tiny moonstone cabochons sewn onto the cuffs of the white silk gown, and she stared at the ring on her left hand. Its gleaming perfection was like ice around the square emerald at its center, jagged spikes of marquis diamonds surrounding the fathomless green stone that shot cold fire reflections over her face. Where was her amber ring? What was this?
She looked once more around the sumptuous chamber, her heart beating faster as she wondered how and why she was returned to Asgard.
She slid out of bed, walking slowly around the room, the furnishings rich and comfortable, more ornate than those of her parents’ home, even with their wealth. Danica looked to the doors as they opened, the golden portals carved with intricate knotwork that formed emblems of a House she didn’t recognize, and she drew back slightly when Loki entered, his green cloak drifting behind him, his clothing as regal as the silver circlet that curved over his raven hair.
“Good morrow, my love,” he smiled, his hands reaching for hers, and she moved away, her hands clutching the folds of her gown as if she didn’t want anything of herself to touch him. He frowned, worried, his head tilting as he stopped a few feet away from her. “Danica, what ails you, sweetness? A bad dream?”
She stared at him, taking in the sharp planes of his crown and the elaborate work of his tunic, her eyes suddenly focusing on the heavy silver band on his left ring finger, ribbons of gold winding around the white metal that was studded with small emeralds and diamonds. “Husband?” she whispered, her stunned gaze meeting his elated one.
“Of course I am, dear one,” Loki smiled, still keeping his distance from her. “I realize it’s still new for us, and with the illness you just recovered from it must still be much to take in.”
Danica cocked her head, her brows drawing together as her mouth worked silently for a moment. “What illness?” she asked finally, thoughts and queries flying through her mind. “I feel perfectly well, Loki.”
“Of course you do,” he soothed, trying to move towards her again, but she backed away, edging behind one of the couches in the center of the room. “But I was told by our physicians that you are still weak and prone to remnants from the delusions you suffered during your fever. Do you not recall? I sat at your side for days, listening to you cry out as you were caught in your nightmares when the fever would grow too much for you.” He sighed, hands held towards her pleadingly. “Dearest…I feared you would die and I would lose you forever. Please do not turn from me now, I couldn’t bear it.”
She shook her head, passing a hand over her eyes as the ghosts of her dream slid just out of sight in her mind, whispers of a man’s voice she thought she knew growing as dim as the blue eyes that had smiled at her in a strange bedroom. “I dreamed of Midgard…” she said softly, looking at Loki as he chuckled and walked to her, the dark-haired man smiling when he could touch her arm, his hand soon moving to stroke over her back in a comforting manner.
“Yes, you did. You were raving about a woman named Jane, and something about a small purple dragon,” he grinned. “I heard my name a few times, and it pleased my heart to know I was there with you in the dream. I can only hope I brought you happiness during my time there.”
A memory, or was it another lie of her mind, of the two of them eating a strange dinner together with thin sticks to retrieve the food slipped in, the laughter of that alleged evening ringing through her musings.
“You did,” she smiled, looking up at him, though still feeling unsure of herself. “Thank you for caring for me, Loki,” she said, closing her eyes as he kissed her forehead, and she tried not to think of that other man’s lips doing the same as they stood in a stormy forest, the smell of ozone and magic still strong in the air.
“I would do nothing less for my lady and my queen,” he replied, smiling down at her.
“Queen?” she asked suddenly, confused. “But, Her Majesty, Frigga…” she trailed off as Loki shook his head, his green eyes sad.
“After my father was killed she was never the same. So, I took the throne to ease her mind. You were crowned in her place on our wedding day,” he explained, tilting his head to look at her. “I would think that would be a memory you would cherish. But then, with the illness…” He shrugged, smiling again. “No matter. What is important is you are well again and with me, and we have the Nine Realms as our own.”
Danica nodded and let her arms slide around him so she could rest her head on his shoulder. “Aye, that is what is important,” she murmured, closing her eyes against the confusion still whirling within her. She sighed and drew away to sit on one of the couches, Loki joining her. “What about your brother? Is he not the older of the two? Why was he not crowned?”
Loki shook his head, his mouth a twist of disapproval. “My brother spends more time tormenting his ‘followers’ on Midgard. Even the Warriors Three no longer wish to share his company and have pledged their fealty to me.” He chuckled, the sound dark and triggering cold shivers in Danica’s heart. “Even Lady Sif does not want to be with him any longer, and that is a sad state of affairs when the woman who has pledged to live by you and fight by you wishes to walk away.”
“Sif is one of the Warriors Three?” she frowned, glimpses of smoky blue velvet bound with bronze armor threading through her memory, a confident laugh edging over the image. “But, what of—“
“Volstagg and Hogun are proud to serve with a warrior as fine as Lady Sif,” Loki smiled. “It was her idea to form the alliance anyway, and I am glad to have such powerful fighters as my friends and allies.”
She took a breath, staring out into the room for a moment before she looked back to him. “So, there is no one by the name of Fandral who serves with the other warriors?” she asked quietly, surprised by the soft laugh of the man who now called himself her husband.
“I wondered who this ‘Fandral’ was!” Loki grinned, patting his knee. “You called his name several times in your fever, and sounded as if you wished to take his head off. Was he a warrior in your dream, my love? Who is he?”
Her mouth opened, then closed as she blinked, confused as her thoughts seemed to be swimming through treacle. “I…I don’t know,” she admitted. “I just thought…I thought he was with the Warriors Three for some reason.”
Loki shook his head, still mirthful as he slid his arm around her and drew her back to lean against him. “No, sweetheart, I have never heard of such a man. But I pity him, for your wrath against him seemed great.” He chuckled again and kissed her hand, resting it on his chest as he smiled down at her. “I’m certain you must be hungry. I’ll call for something to break your fast with and have a bath drawn for you, if you wish?”
Danica nodded, smiling back at him. “Yes, that would be wonderful. I thank you, Loki.”
He stood, reaching down to touch her cheek fondly. “I’ll return after you’ve been refreshed. Perhaps we can take a walk in the gardens later?” he offered, and she agreed, smiling as she watched him walk out of their rooms.
But when the door closed, the smile fell, and she shivered, wrapping her arms around herself as the false memories came crashing in once more.
Thor frowned, folding his arms as he stared out into the backyard, watching as Fandral moved through an intricate series of defensive and attacking maneuvers, the only sound the Warrior issued being sharp hisses of air between his teeth, his concentration never wavering, his accuracy as deadly as his sword.
“How long today?” Volstagg asked quietly, walking out onto the screened in porch to stand beside his prince.
“Four hours, so far,” Thor replied darkly, noting the sweat gleaming on Fandral’s skin, his blond hair plastered to his forehead, smeared back occasionally by an impatient hand when it would get in his eyes.
“Has he slept?”
“A little, I believe.” Thor shook his head. “He won’t stop. He swears she still lives. He says he would know if she was not.”
Volstagg looked over at Thor. “How?”
“Because he would be dead as well.”
Chapter 14: Chapter 13
Coronation and computer time.
All That I Can Say – Chapter 13
Disclaimer: No, the Thor-verse is not mine, nor am I making any money from this, yea verily.
To stand beside Hlidskialf, Odin’s—Loki’s golden throne and stare out at the gathered kingdom was daunting on any given day. To stand there and know that these were her subjects and she their queen, though she did not remember her coronation, was almost terrifying for Danica. She wore one of her crowns of office (she’d found that she owned three), this one was of the smaller designs, a sinuous weave of thin gold bands that rose and fell like waves around her hair, pearls and amethyst cabochons set randomly on the wires. It matched the sweep of purple silk that was her gown, the fabric held up to her neck with a golden torque, her shoulders and arms bare, save for a cuff around her left bicep that matched the crown and the woven belt draping her hips.
Below her stood Sif, Volstagg, and Hogun, the Warriors Three in their places of honour on the right side of the steps, and Queen Frigga was seated just off the dais on her own throne and platform, the Queen Mother regal in a bronze-coloured gown sewn with emeralds on the collar in deference to her son. Danica kept her hands folded demurely in front of her, her face serene, or so she hoped, as she smiled at her people, then turned her attention to Loki as he stood, resplendent in his green robes, Gungnir held upright in his left hand, the golden staff gleaming in the light of the hall.
“Citizens of Asgard!” Loki called out, his voice amplified by the acoustics of the room and by magic so the people outside of the palace could hear him as well, and the noise of the assembly hushed immediately, the silence impressive. “I stand before you as not just your king, but as a husband who wishes to share his thanks to you all for your kind thoughts and well-wishes to my wife during her days of illness! In her honour I declare today a holiday to be spent with those you love, appreciating both their presence and the life you have with them! Tomorrow may never come, therefore today must be enjoyed to the fullest!” He turned and extended a hand to Danica, who stared at him with a wondering smile as she slid her fingers into his palm, her blush making him smile all the more as he drew her to his side then turned them both to face the crowd once more. “All hail Danica, Queen of Asgard! Long live the Queen!”
The roar of the people was nearly deafening as they applauded the couple, Loki lifting her hand to his lips and pressing a gentle kiss there, the king careful in his movements when he inclined his head to her as the curving golden horns on his helmet could have easily hurt her. “I love you,” he whispered, setting the crowd off again when he drew her even closer and kissed her, Danica able to muffle a squeak of surprise at the gesture.
They parted, the blonde woman smiling and covering her lips with her fingertips, delighting her people by the slight giggle she uttered, her hand still held firmly in Loki’s as they left the room.
“Did you like the surprise?” he asked, their robes rustling on the marble floors as they walked through the corridors, the echoes of the populace beginning to fade as the great doors to the hall were closed, leaving the pair in relative privacy, guards standing watch here and there through the palace.
“Which one?” she replied, laughing. “The declaration of a holiday in my honor? Or…”
Loki raised an eyebrow, his pale eyes soft as they looked down at her, the king pulling her to stand with him in an alcove draped in sheer curtains, a window that gazed down into the gardens below casting warm light over the couple. “Or when I kissed you?” he finished, taking her hands in his after he’d rested Gungnir against a wall behind him.
She smiled, struggling for words, and embarrassed to find that her answer was not as easily forthcoming as she would have liked. Nor as quickly or reassuring as Loki hoped for, she was certain. It had been enjoyable to have his lips against hers, his arm strong as it had curved around her back, bringing her against him completely for the first time since she’d awoken that day. But, there was something…strange about it. For some reason she couldn’t place, it felt as if it were the first kiss they’d ever shared. And how could that be, seeing as how they were married and must have shared many such embraces in the past.
Danica was also ashamed to admit to herself that she felt no true fire spark within her from his physical declaration of his love for her. She wasn’t completely immune to him, and she did feel affection for this man, but…it wasn’t right.
“It was lovely,” she managed, squeezing his fingers gently as she looked up at him. “It was a great thing for you to grant our people such a day, and I am honoured that you have done this in my name.”
He nodded and kissed her knuckles, and if he had noticed her worry that swam like oil behind her eyes, he gave no indication of it as he led her back out into the corridor, though his fingers were not so firm around hers as he walked.
The sound of a sigh and the tiny groan of frustration that followed pulled Fandral out of sleep, and his hand immediately went for the dagger he kept sheathed under his pillow as he rolled to his stomach and peered over the back of the sofa, the blue glow of a computer screen in the dark kitchen making him slip silently from his bed and move through the living room to the kitchen doorway.
Jane, swathed in a fuzzy robe over mismatched pajamas sat at the breakfast table, her hair pulled messily in a clip atop her head as she stared at something on her laptop’s screen. Her eyes were puffy from loss of sleep, and he could see that she was on the verge of falling asleep at any moment, even though her dark eyes were transfixed by the monitor.
“Jane,” he whispered, the man in dark blue pajama pants carefully standing a few feet away from her after setting his dagger down on the island.
She looked up at him, frowning, and blinking slowly as if she almost didn’t recognize him, then sat up straighter to beckon him over to her side.
“What are you studying?” he asked, folding his arms as he stood at her shoulder, his throat tightening to see a silent security tape of her lab the day of the accident, Danica walking slowly over to a silver archway in the center of the large room. She held her DataTablet in one hand, studying it, then looking up in shock as the gateway began to glow suddenly her co-workers in the observation gallery obviously shouting at her, their movements frenzied as Danica tried to bolt away from the now-active gate. A burst of light exploded outwards towards her and Jane paused the playback suddenly, a hairsbreadth of space between the event horizon and Danica frozen on the screen.
“Jane, remove this image,” Fandral pleaded, his teeth clenched as he couldn’t stop staring at the image of the terrified woman.
“Look closely,” she ordered, folding her own arms and sitting back, looking up at him with tired but determined eyes as he leaned closer, his palms flattening on the table as he found what she had.
“Odin’s beard…” he swore softly, jaw clenching as she started the film again, only taking it frame by frame this time.
He watched as Loki’s arm appeared from thin air, yanking Danica backwards in a blur that even the cameras couldn’t keep up with as she disappeared into an unseen tear in reality, the Tablet becoming incinerated in a moment as it flew from her hand.
“I think it’s time we all go to Asgard,” Foster suggested, and he nodded, thanking her before turning to wake the others.
Sunset was blanketing Asgard as Danica walked over the expanse of the Bifrost, each step sending shatters of light through the fiery road as she hugged her cloak around herself, the wind coming off of the roaring ocean below tugging at her clothes. Above her, nebulae and stars slid by, their light reflecting in the water and the golden gleam of the Gatehouse’s dome, and she smiled to see the familiar form of Heimdall in the distance, the towering guardian gazing out at the expanse of the cosmos.
Her shoes echoed faintly in the rounded room when she entered, the Queen of Asgard smoothing back her hair as she walked over to the man in golden armor, the faint sense of vertigo she always felt when looking out of the portal’s doorway not affecting her this time, and she simply chalked it up to some twist of magic from being sovereign of this land. After all, it would be strange and unseemly for the Queen to be nauseous by such a thing as her own kingdom’s gate.
“Good evening to you, Heimdall,” she smiled, listening to the soft whisper of wind that managed to get inside his lair.
“Good evening, Your Majesty,” he replied, nodding slightly but not breaking his watch of the stars.
“How is the universe tonight?” she asked, staring out with him and wishing she could see even a little bit as he did.
He glanced at her out of the corner of his tawny eyes. “It is surprisingly quiet. May I ask as to why you are all the way out here, Your Majesty? I would think you would prefer to be at the palace, enjoying your holiday.”
She shrugged, feeling almost lost and lonely, though she couldn’t say why. To be ruler of her home, to have her friends beside her and be married to a man who seemed to love her beyond almost anything should have filled her heart to near bursting. But she kept feeling as if there was something missing, some important piece of a puzzle that she never realized was even in front of her to play with. Something was off, like she was leaning too far to one side and trying to keep her balance, even though everything was as it ought to be. As far as she knew.
“I wanted some quiet,” she admitted. “I just needed to walk where I wanted for a little bit.” She looked up at him again. “Heimdall, could you send me to Midgard for a few minutes?” she asked, the tug of the foreign world pulling at her as if someone had hold of her hands.
He took a breath, not meeting her eyes as he replied. “No, Your Majesty. I cannot.”
She actually gaped at him, her mouth dropping open as her brain couldn’t quite process such an outrageous statement from him. “I beg your pardon? Please explain why you cannot.”
Heimdall sighed. “His Majesty has ordered me to allow no-one through the gateway without his permission. As I do not know if he has granted you such a thing, since he is not here, I cannot allow you to leave Asgard.”
Danica pursed her lips, frowning up at him. “Very well,” she said finally, and nodded. “It is good of you to follow our king’s wishes,” she commented, then managed a smile. “Thank you, Heimdall.”
He bowed slightly to her, then turned back to the stars as she walked away, an ache whispering through her chest as she went back across the bridge, her eyes trained on the golden rise of the palace and somehow knowing Loki watched her from within.
Chapter 15: Chapter 14
Worlds cross, journey on...
All That I Can Say – Chapter 14
She had never known such cold, never felt her stomach being twisted and turned over by winds that screamed around her like silver knives as she was stretched and shoved through the stars, only to stumble into a violent stopping that would have sent her flat on her face, had Thor not held her up, his arms not releasing her until he could see she could stand on her own and the shivers had ceased from her travels. Jane smiled up at him, proud of herself for not losing her breakfast down the front of his leather and armor-clad body, Thor nodding almost as if he was reassuring himself as he let her stand alone. He had to grin, though, when her gaze left his and she caught sight of the world that now rose around her.
She slowly pushed the hood of her parka back as she stared at the carved disks that swirled over the cavernous walls of the Gatehouse, the gleam of Asgard coming into view as the focusing tower slid back into its usual position and she could look through the arched doorways. She closed her mouth with an almost audible snap, a giggle of amazement wanting to bubble out of her throat as she turned in a small circle, trying to take everything in at once. It felt clichéd to say that it was like looking at a real-life fairy-tale that had been melded with every science fiction author’s wet dream, but her brain was having a hard time processing the soaring buildings that rose over an impossible sea that churned and crashed down into only the gods knew where.
Suddenly, she looked down, hands fumbling in her pockets as she muttered to herself, the mantra of “Camera…camera…where the hell…camera…” carrying to the Asgardians’ ears and making them all smile as she pulled out the tiny recording device and began documenting their home.
She panned around the room, the people she’d travelled with moving out of the way of the viewfinder so she could film everything without their being in the way, though Jane stopped when she saw Heimdall, the camera slowly lowering as she shut it off to stare up at the towering man in gold armor, who regarded her silently.
“Uh…Hello?” she ventured, walking towards him as he stepped down from the dais, and her mouth fell open once more when he sank to one knee, his head bowing.
“Greetings, Jane Foster,” he said, looking to her again and rising to stand when Thor nodded as he walked up to stand at Jane’s shoulder, “Beloved of Thor, Prince of Asgard. You honour our land with your presence.”
Jane bit her lips and nodded slowly. “Thank you…Heimdall,” she said finally, pleased that she remembered his name from her conversations with Thor about his home.
“Your parents await you, my lord,” the Guardian told his liege, who looked to the palace with a grim expression.
“Then I shall not keep them waiting any longer,” he replied, thanking Heimdall for their safe journey before he took Jane’s hand and led the party from the Gatehouse, Foster lifting her camera to her eye again as they walked, a giggle finally escaping as she watched the pulse of the Bifrost beneath their feet.
Danica sighed and leaned her head back against the chair as she sat on her parents’ veranda, letting the sunlight wash over her as she listened to her mother speaking with one of the maids who had come outside to ask her mistress a few questions about that evening’s meal. Loki was dealing with a few court matters and would be arriving at the Haraldsen’s in time for dinner. They’d spent a pleasant day together the day before, enjoying the holiday he’d declared by going for a ride in her birthplace, the forest-spread world of Alfheim, where the elves had welcomed the royal couple and accompanied them on their tour. They’d returned home when the moons were high overhead and the palace was quiet, the pair retiring to their chamber and falling asleep almost immediately from the long day. The next morning he’d suggested she visit with her family as he’d be busy for the majority of the day, and she’d agreed with a happy smile and soon found herself being enveloped by her mother’s embrace as she’d walked through the door.
The queen smiled as a passing breeze ruffled the edge of her cobalt silk gown against her bare ankles, her sandals having been left by the front door when she’d entered the house, her mother having set up a tea in the back garden for the visit. Sif had accompanied her, at Ingrid Haraldsen’s request, Danica’s mother knowing it was a rare thing for the tall warrior goddess to simply sit with other females and enjoy their company.
“You appear to be very happy,” Sif remarked to Danica as she poured herself another cup of tea and settling back in her own chair beside her friend’s and setting a frosted pastry on the arm of the queen’s chair for her.
“I am happy,” she replied, rolling her head to aim her smile at Sif, who felt more relaxed than she had in a while as she tucked her legs under her, the skirt of her pale yellow tunic shifting over her knees. “’Tis a beautiful day. I am able to sit in my mother’s garden with her and you…Truly, it really could not be any better.” She laughed when a flower petal chose that moment to catch on her lip rouge, and she picked it off carefully, holding the scarlet petal between her fingertips as she looked at it, then out to the garden to try to discern which plant it had come from. Her gaze fell on a tree tucked into a corner, a small stone bench beside it. The branches were covered in clusters of blossoms that shivered in the wind and sent their blushing petals in delicate spirals to the grass below every so often.
“’Tis a pretty tree,” Sif commented, taking a bite of the pastry she’d retrieved for herself, then arching an eyebrow when Danica rose from her chair, the petal still caught between her fingers as she descended from the smooth stone of the veranda to the winding path through the garden, her eyes transfixed on the flowers dancing in the breeze.
Sif’s and her mother’s voices faded away as she drew closer, her skirts brushing against the intricate carvings on the bench while she stood beneath the branches, the shade from the light green leaves shielding her from the sun as she reached up to gently touch the blooms.
Her breath caught for a moment as visions slipped into her thoughts, the voice of the blond man in her dream sending a shiver of molten warmth down her back as she remembered.
His fingers folded around hers as they sat on the bench, his kiss branding the back of her hand before he looked up at her, his face younger than she remembered as he straightened, his hair long and pulled back away from it in an intricate braid.
“Be mine, Lady Danica,” he smiled, teeth white as he suddenly grinned, winking at her. “I love you and would have no other.”
She laughed then, though didn’t pull her hand from his as she replied, “We’ve been betrothed since childhood, you dolt. Of course I am yours.”
His smile softened and he reached up to touch her face. “Ah, but I want you to want to be mine. Never mind what the contract says, what say you?”
Danica smiled and wrapped her other hand around their clasped ones. “Always, yes.” She laughed again before he kissed her, petals from the flowering crabtree he’d brought her from Midgard slipping through the air around them.
A tear slipped over her cheek as her fingers clutched at the flowers, the ground tilting beneath her suddenly as dizziness swept through her.
“Fandral,” she whispered, the branch snapping in her grip as she fell, Sif’s shout echoing in her ears.
Fandral twitched as if someone had pricked him with a hot pin as he sat in the Haraldsen’s garden, Odin having called a gathering at the house since it was his Weapons Master’s daughter they would be discussing. He could have sworn he’d heard Danica’s voice, breathy and distant, his name slipping like a ghost from her mouth, but there were only his friends.
Jane was seated beside Danica’s mother, the two chatting and sharing stories about the missing woman, Foster determined to keep the conversation light when she noticed Ingrid’s eyes glistening occasionally from her worry. Thor and Odin were speaking with Harald, the three seated near the fire pit while discussing strategies with Sif and Hogun. Volstagg was nearby also, though taking advantage of the Haraldsen’s larder that had yielded a refreshing luncheon for them.
Thor noticed Fandral’s discomfort, his blue eyes tracking him when the other stood and paced away from the group, his eyes straying back to a scarlet-blooming tree in the garden, petals from its branches dusting the pale stone bench beside it.
“Pardon me,” he requested of his father and Harald, the prince moving to Fandral’s side. “What is it?” he asked, folding his arms and bowing his head to keep their conversation private.
Fandral’s hand tightened on the hilt of his sword as he looked to the tree again. “I heard her,” he said quietly, his glare quick to show in his defense, the Warrior certain his friend would scoff at his admission. The frown smoothed away, though, when Thor merely looked at him with a raised brow, silently asking him to continue. “She whispered my name just a moment ago, as if she were standing close by but couldn’t see me.” He sighed, feeling weary. His eyes lifted again to the crabtree, his head tilting as he contemplated it.
“What is its significance?” Thor asked, following Fandral as he walked down into the yard.
He smiled, folding his arms now and looking fondly at the bench. “I brought this here for her when it was but a sapling. I was told it represented eternal love on Midgard and sought to woo her with a gift.” He grinned and shook his head.
“Did it work?” Thor asked, now smiling also at the small joy he saw in his friend, a rarity these days.
Fandral chuckled, shaking his head. “She was thirteen at the time and she rolled her eyes at me. But it pleased her, and that was all I could hope for.” Something on the ground caught his attention and he crouched down, picking up the spindly end of a branch, the break at the end jagged and the flowers and leaves crumpled as if someone had squeezed them. “This was not here a moment ago,” he murmured, looking up at the tree and finding no trace of breakage.
He and Thor looked at each other then back at the branches above, both frowning as they tried to find an explanation that fit.
“We know Loki has saved her,” Thor began, rubbing his fingers over his chin pensively. “That he pulled her through some rift in reality.” His eyes narrowed on a distant point as he tilted his head, jaw jutting forward as a memory from his childhood swam to the surface. “When we were children, Loki and I would play hide-and-seek. He almost always won.”
Fandral lifted an eyebrow and said dryly, “Well, he is the Trickster God. I would imagine it to be one of his favourite games.”
Thor nodded, looking at him. “Aye, especially since I discovered, years later, that he didn’t hide on this plane of existence. He had made his own little universe.”
Fandral’s eyes widened. “How did you find this out?”
Thor smirked, folding his arms. “Because I heard someone laughing in a room I knew to be empty, and when I entered, I found myself in Asgard, but not. Things were different, changed to be how Loki wanted them. I managed to get back out because I knew it wasn’t real. And that is the power one can have over his lies. Once you know they aren’t the truth, they have no hold on you.”
“But Loki is a very good liar,” Fandral said darkly, looking down at the crushed flowers near the toes of his boots. “And Danica still sees good in him, I know. So she would believe the lie, because she hates to admit that…”
“That he is lying, once again, to her,” Thor finished quietly, crouching to pick up the blooms. “I may have an idea, but I want to speak with the others first.” He handed the branch to Fandral as they walked back to the veranda. “And this may be the key.”
Chapter 16: Chapter 15
Through dangers untold, and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here...
All That I Can Say – Chapter 15
Disclaimer: IT’S MINE!!! ALL OF IT!!! AND I’M MAKING TONS OF MONEY FROM IT, STAN LEE! Just kidding. Only Danica.
Heimdall eyed the small cluster of flowers laying dejectedly in his glove then looked at Thor as they stood in the Observatory, the Warriors Three, Sif and Jane nearby. “This is not a coordinate,” he rumbled and Thor stopped himself from sighing.
“No, but can you somehow find the world it originated from and send us there?” he asked, feeling Fandral’s patience draining away at an alarming rate as the man stood beside him.
A hasty discussion with Odin and the Haraldsen’s had led the group back to the Bifrost, Thor explaining his plan to them. He believed that since the branch appeared to be from Loki’s universe, perhaps Heimdall could use it as something like a homing beacon to create a link from Asgard to the other domain.
Heimdall studied the plant for a few moments, then looked out at the cosmos. “I believe so,” he said finally, turning to step up onto the focusing platform, the rest of the group moving to stand in front of it. “It will be quite cold where you are going,” he warned them. “These flowers are more alive now than they would be there. Are you ready?”
“Send us!” Fandral yelled from his position at the front of the dais, his teeth clenching as a wind icier than he could have imagined screamed through the building when Heimdall dropped the focusing tower, Hofud sheathed harshly in front of its master and releasing branches of lightning around the room. He needed to get to her, needed to see for himself that she was still alive. Even if Loki had twisted her mind and she no longer knew who he was, he had to see her. His head snapped back as the lightning grabbed him, hauling him and the others through the gateway with the force of an angry Jotunn.
They came to a stop, staring around them as they slid into existence in the Gatehouse, though this one was a darker, colder twin of the real one. Instead of the warm bronze and gold of home, the disks were a sleek blue-black, the gleam of the rainbow bridge without reflecting on the iris-shaped wheels.
“Where are we?” Jane whispered, moving toward the entrance and gaping at the sprawl of the black city, the towers gleaming icily under the sprawl of the stars, the ocean beneath frozen and unmoving, its peaks white with ice above the dark cobalt of the water.
“Loki’s Asgard,” Sif muttered, feeling ill to see her home mutated this way, the stygian beauty of the city unnerving.
Hogun shook his head, gripping his mace even tighter as the wind fluttered through the spray of his topknot. “He seeks to find a balance between his Frost Giant heritage and his Asgardian upbringing, I believe.”
“He needs therapy,” Jane returned, pursing her lips and keeping her hand tight around the taser in her pocket. She’d bought one ages ago at her friend Darcy Lewis’ behest, and couldn’t really think of any better situation that it might be necessary than right now. Thor had his thunder. She had her taser.
Volstagg snorted and patted her on the shoulder with an approving grin before they all turned to Thor for instructions, but he only shook his head.
“This is Fandral’s hunt,” the prince replied. “We follow him.”
Fandral looked to all of them, his thoughts slowing as he gazed into each of their faces, finding determination and loyalty in all of them. “My friends, I thank you for coming with me, for caring about Danica as much as I. I do not wish to see any of you harmed, and I look forward to drinking with you all back in our home when this jaunt is finished.” He turned to face the distant city once more and withdrew his sword with a stinging whisper of steel. “For Asgard!” he declared, his bellow caught in the wind as he charged forward. “For Danica!”
Loki snickered to himself as he looked down at the group of warriors racing across the bridge, his skin pale with the tinge of blue from his true colouring. Gone were the heavy green and gold robes he favoured in Asgard, the mischievous god now garbed in shades of midnight green and silver silks, panels of deepest blue adding to his frosty countenance. He still wore his horned helmet, though now it gleamed with the silver of moonlight, and the chill of all the broken promises he’d kept in his heart gleamed in his green eyes beneath the sculpted helm.
He spun away from the railing of the balcony, cloak flaring with a snap as he moved through the corridors to his throne room, smiling at the woman standing by the silver monstrosity of a chair, the faint tremor of her fingers and the barest hint of blue around her lips the only indication of the cold she felt. She wouldn’t give Loki the satisfaction of seeing her discomfort as she glared at him from where he held her, trapped, in an invisible grip by his seat.
She still wore the cobalt silk gown from the garden, and while she had left her arms bare for comfort in the warmth of the sunlit yard, the winter winds of this Asgard chilled her flesh mercilessly as it blew through the palace.
“Cold, my Queen?” Loki teased, taunting her with an artful swirl of his cloak around himself as he sat, the movement warming him while sending a breeze washing over the pale woman whose hair drifted around her arms, the thin braids that had previously held her hair in an intricate binding now slapping occasionally at her body from the wind.
“How can you do this?” she spat, her fury at him laced with her despair over how her friend had changed. “You lie to me, betray your family, try to kill your brother, your friends? And now you have me trussed up like a cliché from some Midgardian movie?”
“I saved your life!” he hissed, flinging a hand out to her and she choked as she was shoved backwards from the dais, Danica twisting in mid-air to slide across the glossy black floor, snow beginning to blow into the room from the ceiling. “I offered you the Nine Realms and a life by my side as my queen!” he screamed, gripping his spear and glaring down at her as she tried to stand, the cold marble agony on her bare feet. “You are no better than my father or the idiot who still calls me ‘brother’! You cannot bear the idea of loving a Jotunn who was not even wanted by his own people!”
“You lied to me!” she responded, tears slipping down her cheeks. “I called you ‘friend’, I defended you! I welcomed you in my home and embraced you, Loki! Had you told me about your birthplace it would not have mattered to me! I have cared for you for many ages, you are my friend! And I did love you, Loki, but not in the way you obviously craved! I could not!”
He stood, moving down the stairs to her, and if the sight of her crying for him twisted his belly he ignored it. “You forgave that whoreson that betrayed you and turned from me!” he snarled, teeth bared as his chin jutted forward from her impertinence.
“I never betrayed her, and well you know it!” Fandral roared from the entrance to the hall, his steps heavy as he strode into the chamber, cloak whipping around him, Thor and the others close behind.
“Fandral…” Danica breathed, a smile trembling over her icy lips as she stared at him walking towards her, Loki growling at the heat passing from the Warrior’s eyes to hers, a smirk tugging at Fandral’s lips that nearly made her laugh were she not about to collapse from the cold.
“I’m impressed,” Loki smiled, propping a fist on his hip as he eyed the group entering his throne room. “And you brought little Jane, too. Not a wise decision on your part, Odinson,” he chastised, shaking a finger at his foster-brother.
“’Little Jane’ is not afraid of you,” Foster growled, her boots pushing through the gathering snow.
Danica started to run to Fandral, but was yanked back by Loki, his hand a vise around her arm as she struggled against him. “Ready to leave me so soon?” he crooned, kissing her shoulder, then yelping when her fist connected with his nose, Danica backhanding him in a swift motion that had him releasing her, her feet slipping on the slick floor as she stumbled into Fandral’s arms.
“You came for me,” she whispered, kneeling against him, a tear slipping over her cheek that set off a hot shard of pain in his chest to see her doubt made tangible.
“I will always find you,” he answered, touching her face, his breath shuddering from being able to hold her again. He unclasped his cloak, the dovetail of it disappearing as it unfurled completely when he draped it around her shoulders, Danica resting her forehead on his shoulder for an instant as she drew comfort from the fabric. His eyes darkened as he looked beyond her and stood slowly, his hands supporting her as she shivered, and he tucked her against his side as they faced Loki.
The god wiped blood from his nose, leaving a crimson smear above his lips as his eyes gleamed with venom. “You may have found her, but will you get to leave with her?” he wondered, flicking his wrist and sending blood spattering into the snow at his feet.
“I need you to leave with Jane,” Fandral murmured to Danica, not breaking eye contact with Loki. “I know you wish to stay and fight him,” he continued hastily, seeing her mouth open to protest on the edge of his gaze, “but I need to know you are safe. It is not that I doubt your skill, my love, for I know your ferocity, but…”
Danica closed her mouth, nodding with a silent exhale. “Very well.” She lifted a hand and touched his cheek. “I love you.”
He smiled, squeezing her for a moment before releasing her. “I love you,” he replied, slipping into a defensive stance as she moved away, keeping himself between Loki and the women.
The raven-haired prankster laughed as he watched them begin to leave, his mirth turning into a manic snarl as he directed his spear towards them, a bolt of ice shearing through the air, Thor blocking it in a swift move with his hammer.
Jane spun, firing her taser at Loki, a curse on his parentage hissing between her teeth as the tiny wires caught him by surprise, sparks jumping from the impact to his armor and arcing through his body.
“Bitch…” he gasped, pulling the wires from his chest and ripping one of his daggers from his belt, his fingers deft as he threw it towards her, the sleek weapon spinning through the air only to be deflected by Fandral’s sword.
“Get out!” he bellowed towards Danica and Jane, not seeing the Weapons Master’s daughter crouch and retrieve the dagger. Silence greeted his command and he turned, brows lifting to see her standing beside him, her pale eyes trained on the cornered Loki. “Danica—“
“I will not abandon my friends like a coward, Fandral,” she retorted, looking down as twin thumps sounded near her, Jane having tossed her hiking boots to her friend. She grinned back at the astrophysicist as she slipped them on, Jane shrugging with an answering grin as she re-coiled her taser wires.
Loki smirked at them, straightening with a chuckle that sent frissons through their spines. “Well then, lovelies. Let’s continue the party,” he invited, lifting a hand and conjuring an army of Frost Giants that filled the room behind him.
Chapter 17: Chapter 16
This is how the world ends...
All That I Can Say – Chapter 16
Bless the Child – Nightwish
Lux Aeterna- Clint Mansell
Letting Go – Patrick Doyle ßThese were songs used in the making of this chapter.
Disclaimer: I want it. I want all of it. Not to make money from it, just to say “This is mine. This amazing world is mine.” And I’d let you all come and play in it.
The fear wanted to choke her, all the horrible monster stories she had heard from her friends over the centuries twining together like a gleeful snake in Danica’s mind as she stared at the nightmarish vision of Frost Giants looming above them, Loki smiling as he retreated to his throne. They weren’t real, she reminded herself, though the world around her felt real enough, and it was that sensation that made it all the harder to not already flinch for the pain that would come from the battle. Her eyes strayed to Loki, who was watching the group before him, and she felt a deep regret and an even deeper sorrow for him. He had been her friend for so long, and she had been so blind. She did love him, but her heart belonged to Fandral, it always had. And now, here she was, in the world of his own design, and because of her blindness, they were all potentially about to die.
But as potent as the idea of letting the fear overtake her was, it was the rage over his lies that fired her into action. She charged forward, oblivious to the gasps, the shouts of warning from her friends, as she lunged into the battle. She would have looked comical in her mismatched clothes and facing off against the horde of Jotunns had she not been so deadly accurate in her attacks. She cut them down, moving through the ranks with sinuous grace, the gleaming dagger in her hand soon darkening with their blood.
She looked beside her, smiling in spite of herself at the grin Thor wore, his cobalt eyes sparkling with barely hidden joy over this battle, Mjolnir cracking into a body that spun away from them. Fandral soon gained ground and fought beside her, watching in both admiration and concern as she dispatched Frost Giants with almost no sound, the only noise coming from her victims. He’d never seen her in such a state, her eyes glittering like an assassin’s, her face going expressionless after her quick smile.
Thor made sure he could see Jane, the thunder god having sent her to stay back, flanked by Hogun and Volstagg, the Warriors keeping her unharmed as best they could. Jane’s eyes widened as the Giants moved towards them, her heart sticking in her throat at the sheer size of them, their scarlet eyes gleaming in the twilight, crystalline sheaths of ice around some of their arms like harpoons, others actually using weaponry formed of ice. It was one thing when it was Loki standing before her, posturing and mocking and standing at almost Thor’s height, to make her think she could do this, could stand alongside these people trained to kill since practically birth. It was completely another to now be gaping up at the wall of blue monsters whose one purpose was to obliterate their opponents. A taser? Had she truly lost her mind when she thought it would do any good?
Loki watched the carnage silently, his Giants effectively blocking any escape from the throne room, but with the force of Danica’s attack, he wondered how much longer he would be able to keep this going. It seemed pointless. The more he put in their path, the more the Asgardians threw it down, sometimes literally, he smirked, as one of the Giants he’d crafted to more than resemble his Jotunn father slid backwards across the floor, Thor having pummeled him with a sweep of his hammer. Loki slid out of view and stood, walking over to where his ‘ex-wife’ fought with yet another twisted version of Laufey, her face cold and impassive as she exchanged blows with the creature. He hated this, hated seeing her like this, her softness exchanged for this hard machine of death, her smile gone, replaced by a grimace of anger and frustration, a tinge of fear gleaming in the depths of her eyes as she, too, was realizing the futility of this fight. But her inner strength impressed him, that core of stubbornness he’d seen so many times over the ages with her, whether it be when she stood up to a particularly loathsome potential palace guard who was stupid enough to mock Loki for merely watching the training instead of joining in, or when she’d tried to defend him to the man she’d thought was Fandral, moonlight dusting her features with an intimacy he’d only dreamt of as they’d stood in her garden, her house quiet in the night.
He pushed back a Jotunn that strayed too close to her when her back was turned, and his frown of concentration turned to a glare when Fandral came up behind her, Danica smiling at the familiar warmth of him against her shoulders.
“Not the kind of road trip I would prefer to take with you,” she commented to him, his laugh carrying over the sound of his sword ringing against one of the Giants’ maces.
“When we are through, you and I shall travel anywhere you like, my love,” he promised, grunting as he shoved another Jotunn back, his foot against the monster’s chest.
Loki rolled his eyes and stepped away only to look back as Danica screamed, a spray of icy javelins shooting towards her and Fandral, the blond man yelping as she shoved him to the ground.
Loki’s shout stopped the room, all movement ceasing, everyone seemingly frozen in place as he reappeared, his heart thundering in his throat as he stared at Danica, her slim body recoiling from the sharp threat of the spears, Fandral at her feet, one hand wrapped around her wrist to pull her down with him, though it would have done no good. The tips of the weapons were halted just as they’d touched her gown, tiny depressions from the points pressing into the cloth. He pushed them away, their shatter echoing in the silence, and he carefully drew her arm from Fandral’s grasp, and removed his dagger from her grip while he turned her to face him, his emerald eyes saddened when he allowed her to move, Danica still caught in her terror for an instant before she realized what had happened.
“Loki…” She frowned, staring around her, then back at the man before her, the god having removed his helmet as he looked down at her.
“Leave,” he said quietly, not reaching for her, not moving. “You will die if this continues, and I cannot bear that.”
Danica’s shoulders slumped as she regarded her old friend. “Are we all free to leave?” she asked and he nodded.
“I will face my brother and his comrades again, I have no doubt. And I hope that you will not be by their side when that happens, Danica,” he said, his eyes boring into hers.
“What about you?” she asked, reaching out to touch his arm, and he looked down at her hand that looked so small against his armor.
He smiled, bitterly, and looked into her face once more. “I will get by,” he said. “I am the villain, am I not?”
She sighed, the anger she’d felt at him draining away as they stood in this little pocket of existence. “Not to me, Loki. Your actions are sometimes wrong, yes, but you will always be dear to me.”
He chuckled. “And you to me, darling one.” He picked up her hands and kissed her fingers, the wedding ring he’d crafted for her fading into the amber and gold creation that had always been on her hand.
Danica pulled her fingers from his and stood on tiptoe to embrace him, Loki sighing and closing his eyes as his arms went around her once more. “I’ll miss you,” she whispered, squeezing him tighter for a moment before moving away. She was surprised to see him smile, a hint of his mischief glittering in his eyes.
“Oh, I’ll be around,” he promised, winking, and she had to grin back. He lifted his hand, his helmet suddenly covering his raven hair once more, and the room was cleared of battle, his adversaries on their feet before he reanimated them, snow still drifting into the room.
“What trickery is this?” Fandral demanded, relief at seeing Danica safe washing through him as she stepped into his arms.
“You are to leave my realm,” Loki ordered, smirking at them as he sat back onto his throne. “Never return, or else my punishment will be more severe than what you just survived.”
“This is not over, brother,” Thor growled, taking Jane’s hand, and Loki laughed, propping his jaw on his fist.
“I hope not!” he replied, waving as light from the Bifrost enveloped them, Danica smiling at him before she disappeared in a flash, the great hall silent in their departure.
Danica breathed a sigh of relief as they arrived in the true Observation Tower, warmth seeping into her just seeing the glow of the golden dome above her.
“Welcome home,” Heimdall greeted, withdrawing Hofud and walking down to them.
“We are glad to be home,” Thor replied, smiling down at Jane, who hugged him around his waist.
Volstagg yawned, stretching his arms out with a satisfied grunt as he walked towards the Rainbow Bridge. “I believe there is a feasting hall with our names on it,” he remarked, already picturing the delicacies laid out on the table, his throat parched for a decent tankard of ale, and his arms aching to hold his own wife.
The others laughed, following him out, though Danica remained, asking Fandral to go ahead without her.
“I’ll be there, worry not,” she grinned, patting his arm as he clasped his hands at the small of her back, his cloak still draping over her shoulders. “I love you,” she murmured, tapping his nose with her fingertip before cupping his jaw in her palms and bringing his mouth to hers.
“I love you,” he answered, kissing her forehead and walking away, his step lighter than it had been for quite a time.
When they were alone, Danica turned to Heimdall, who looked down at her, his face impassive as always.
“He is safe,” the Guardian rumbled. “He is alone, but he is safe.”
“He is lonely,” she said and was surprised when Heimdall shook his head.
“No, for he knows he still has a friend,” he assured her, bowing his head and turning away, Danica smiling over her shoulder at the stars winking at them from the portal before she turned and walked out, grinning to see Fandral waiting for her in the middle of the Bridge, his hand outstretched for hers as she ran to him, hiking boots clomping on the elegant glow beneath her.
“Do you think we could make s’mores?” he wondered, lacing his fingers through hers as they walked, their friends far beyond them at the shore.
“Why don’t we go back to my house later and I’ll let you raid the pantry?” Danica offered, smirking up at him as he grinned cheekily, lifting her hand to his lips.
“Chocolate, my dear, will not be the only thing I’ll conquer, should we do that,” he warned her.
Her eyebrows flicked up as she swung their joined hands. “That is what I’m hoping for.”
His laugh was lost in the crash of the waves below the road, Danica grinning as they walked back home, the light of the city warm and welcoming.
Chapter 18: Epilogue
A sort-of epilogue. Did it happen? Did it not? Only Loki knows, and he won't tell me.
All That I Can Say – Epilogue
I think by now you all know I don’t own Marvel.
Author’s Note: This is not part of the story, at all. This is just a little ficlet ‘what-if?’ that popped into my head and I had to write it. I hope you enjoy!
Loki pursed his lips as he watched the light of the Bifrost fade away, the snow storm he’d begun ending instantly, the frost and drifts of snow in the throne room disappearing and leaving the floors gleaming as he gazed out at the moons sailing over his kingdom.
He listened as his people went about their business as if they’d always been there, his Asgard beautiful in its darkness, its populace pleased with their lives and their kingdom.
“Could you not have simply banished them to rid you of their presence?” a voice asked from behind him, and he turned to smile at the woman lounging in his throne, her icy blonde hair draping her bare arms, a circlet of emeralds winking over her brow to match the liquid satin of her dress.
She straightened sinuously, her arms regal as they rested over the silver wolves’ heads that served as the arms of the throne, her legs crossing silkily under her gown as he approached.
“And miss out on the fun?” Loki replied, ascending the stairs and taking her hand to pull her to her feet, the god taking her place on the chair and watching the woman as she sat down in his lap, pulling the edge of his cloak up to tuck over her legs.
“I can think of other ways to have fun, my King,” Danica purred, kissing his jaw and closing her eyes as they winked out of existence, only the residue of her giggle left in the throne room.