"So... say Thor," Clint starts over his cinnamon cornflakes, gesturing avidly with his spoon. "Well, if you don't mind me asking that is, but there are a couple of wild stories out there about you and your folk."
Thor smiles as he thinks of their books of... mythology, as they call it here in Midgard, but his expression is more rain than sunshine this time. Sooner or later, they'll start asking questions, it is only to be expected. And they have the right to the answers, but it doesn't make things any easier regardless.
Their stories are laughable, feeble fabrications of children who hear the grown ups speak and substitute their own imagination for every word they miss, fail to understand. Otherwise, he might consider them offensive, insulting even. But as Bruce has explained to him, these are warped tales, and known to be such. Children's entertainment instead of history, and it makes Thor feel old like the roots of Yggdrasil.
"Clint, really--" Steve tries, but Thor cuts him off.
"It is alright, Captain. If you have questions, I shall honour our bond by answering them."
Clint shoots Steve a gloating look before speaking again. "Like, what's the deal with your brother and that horse? I mean, not that I mean anything by it, but you have to admit it's kind of--"
"Clint!" Steve looks like he wants to be anywhere else but the same space with them.
"It is a misunderstanding, I assure you." Thor folds his arms over his chest, and even Clint looks a bit sheepish for a moment. It's one of the hardest things Thor had to accept, this insolent word of mouth, even though he can see where it went wrong. "My Father does have a stead more magnificent than any other, its eight legs faster than wind, than thought, and my brother's wit has often been compared to its stride."
But the songs of the Way have nothing to do with it, or any other horse.
Svaðilfari, the name is ill-fated, disaster. Together with the Wildfire, the Silvertongue, Disaster creates Sleipnir, the Trickster. Thor doesn't know if he has the words to make them understand how simple it is, yet how complicated. That Svaðilfari never was, not in the way they think. Just as so many others, but the language of the völva gave them shape and form to be referred to.
Gave them the power of the word.
"So, let me guess, the business with his other kids is all a misunderstanding too."
"My brother has no child of his blood, if that is what you are wondering." Thor fixes Clint with a look. "But the monsters of his creation are with him to lend power to their sire."
Fenrir, the all-swallowing greed, ambition, the endless hunger of the pack in the eternal winter that can only be appeased by blood spilling hot until all ends. The tied down beast that once gets free reign can swallow the moon and the stars and darken the skies of reason forever.
Jörmungandr, the poisonous Serpent that grows enormous in the deep waters of hurt and slights, deadly and patient. The cycle of beginning and end, the ancient symbol of seiðr, of magic that holds the fabric of the universe together. Of great wisdom and still malice until the moment comes for its fangs to strike and take what has been promised since the beginning of the days.
Hel, the soul trapped between life and death, unable to cross either way. Forever torn between the golden song of memory and the desolate wasteland of present, forever destined to yearn, to fight, to nurture what kills it and trample down what keeps it alive.
Angrboða, the one who brings grief. By the so-named mother, they are the children of sorrow.
"If they are not his kids, then what are they? Minions?" Clint inquires over a mouthful of cereal.
Slowly, Thor shakes his head. "Monsters that bring the world to its knees."
"Ahha. So all that Apocalypse bullshit is actually true then?" Thor frowns, and Clint is more than eager to elaborate. "You know, end of the world and all that. I personally always thought it was pure humbug."
"Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods." Thor closes his eyes for the briefest moment. "No, my archer friend. Ragnarök is very real." And it's waiting on the winds. So close now.
His brother, his destiny, his end. Broken in his mind, damaged in his heart, lost in his soul. The pain of it howls inside like a wolf at the dire moon calling for its mate.
Love and destruction, madness and sacrifice. It has all been written long ago, woven into the stars of their realm and the very foundation of the universe. Yet, there is a part of Thor that cannot abandon wild hopes and deeply-loved dreams. If all this fighting gives them all just some more time, then he shall fight with all his might.
He owes Loki as much.
"Well then, all we have to do is make sure to turn the other way if we happen to stumble upon a bound wolf, right?" Clint points his spoon at Thor briskly before going back to his food.
"More like kill it." Natasha butts in from the counter where she is casually cleaning a gun, all cold, ruthless efficiency. For a moment there is silence, uneasy and shiver-inducing.
"Happens every day, man." Clint breaks the tension, and they all smile, except for Thor. He watches their easy mirth and thinks of all the terrible truths that are in the written word, even in their crippled, Midgardian form. If one knows how to read them.
His companions don't, and maybe it's better that way.