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Maria shouldered her pack, gave a quick once over to the room where she had been bunking, looking for things that she might have forgotten - not that she would forget things and not that she couldn't have left the entire pack behind. "Time to deplane," she said to no one and turned to see a sullen Asgardian goddess in battle armor leaning in the doorway, blocking her exit.

"Commander Hill, I would have words with you," Sif said.

"Sure, what can I do for you?" Maria left the pack on her shoulder because as much as Coulson's band of misfits was beginning to grow on her, it was time to take the latest FitzSimmons hardware back to base.

"Please let me say first that I have the greatest respect for the son of Coul and the warriors and craftsmen at his command."

"But?" Maria asked.

"But..." Sif threw her arms up and stepped into the room, effectively becoming a bigger obstacle to Maria leaving. "I am Asgardian! I have traveled the nine realms. I am not used to being confined like a lobster in a trap!"

"Lob-ster?" Maria squinted at her, wondering where in the nine realms that one came from. "Lady Sif, I feel your need to travel, but I can't get you to any of the other realms, which isn't to say that we're not trying. We're very concerned about Loki shutting down the Rainbow Bridge."

Sif sighed but kept pacing in front of the door. "It is so much more than the Bifrost! It is revealed that the All-Father is gone and Loki impersonates him. Then the usurper uses vile magic to banish all who defy him, scattering the true warriors of Asgard across all other realms."

Maria let her pack drop on the floor: this might take a while. "I know you're homesick. I know that you want - need to fix what Loki has done to your people. In the meantime though, we need you to help contain the damage that he is doing to our people. We have displaced Asgardians that don't quite know their strength roaming through cities all around the world. We have aliens dropping by because the entire balance of power in at least our end of the universe has been disrupted. We need you, Sif, your strength as a warrior and your leadership among your people."

"Yes, I will continue to do all of those things, but perhaps not from this confining flying box." Sif struck the wall with her fist. It was probably a gentle thump for an Asgardian, but Maria thought she felt the floor vibrate.

"So the lobster trap you're in is this plane?" Maria clarified.

"Indeed. But again, the son of-"

"Yeah, Coulson's great. Melinda May is awesome, the kids are cute, but enough is enough?" Maria asked.

"Yes." There was something pleading in Sif's face.

To Maria, this was an unexpected bonus. She had met up with this team to gather new tech and to make sure that Coulson remembered who he worked for. Along the way Maria noticed that Sif probably had better uses, but she had turned down Steve Rogers himself when he asked her to be an Avenger. "Okay, you can come with me under two conditions."

Sif turned toward Maria, her scrutiny intense, but nothing that Maria didn't see from just about anyone who thought they had the upper hand on her – until they didn't.

"One, you work for me. You'll be doing the same kind of things, rounding up the Asgardians and feeding information to our scientists to help them to figure out how we can defend ourselves against aliens."

"It is my duty to protect Midgard, and I will follow your lead. What is your second condition?"

"You wear some suitable Earth clothes from this century."

Sif visibly balked.

"Hey, you can wear the armor to a battle and when you're sitting at home for all I care, but when you try to convince two lost gods to stop drinking every keg of beer in a dive bar in Kansas, you'd spare me the trouble of having to explain to the press that there are not gods among us."

Sif took a step or two, watching Maria and considering. Maria's brain kicked into overdrive and she added, "Unless you change your mind and take Thor's spot on the Avengers."

"No!"

"You know it's not a form of disloyalty. The members of that team change with need. Once Thor can return to Earth, you could step back."

"That is not the root of my concern. I am fully capable and ready to be Thor's second in your realm."

"Is it another member of the team?" Maria asked. War Machine had a big mouth, but Rhodey's bragging had nothing on the Asgardian foot soldiers they had picked up along the way. Sam and Natasha knew how to handle people. Maybe it was Wanda. Her illusions might remind Sif a little too much of Loki— Sif interrupted Maria's thought.

"I have seen the Avengers' base. It is another box, from which they depart within a plane."

"So you would rather…" Maria let the question hang because apparently she didn't know Sif as well as she should.

"I should like to learn more about the people of Midgard, to live as they live."

Sif wanted to chill with the people of Earth. Maria was all for protecting them, but that didn't mean she wanted to hang out with them. Still, this was opportunity. If Maria could convince Sif to get to know the people while she was working at a SHIELD base that dealt with more obvious extinction level events, Maria could turn her into a bigger asset.

"We continue to maintain a presence in New York City. You could base yourself at Stark Tower –"

"Which would necessitate interacting with Tony Stark, the Iron Man?"

"Sure on occasion-"

"I fear that I might commit murder."

Fuck you, Tony Stark. "I understand your reservations – I've been there plenty of times myself. So where do you see yourself?"

"I fear that I do not know your world enough to fully envision of my place in it, but I should like to speak with the common people, to understand how they live."

Maria couldn't let Sif leave the nest and move to the big city to make it on her own. Like all the rest of the aliens, they needed to keep an eye on her. They also had a stake in keeping her as happy as possible. Maria scratched her forehead looking for a better idea than the one that was in her head, but nothing else was coming.

"Look, you could move in with me on a temporary basis. I don't live on the base. I've got a small rental with a second bedroom not too far from it. You'd be able to work out of the base, but also talk to the people."

"I would not wish to impose upon your good will," Sif said with a hopeful lilt to her voice.

"It wouldn't be an imposition," Maria lied.

"I will agree to this-"

"Excellent." Maria grabbed her pack, took a step toward the door, already formulating the list of orders she would have to send to the base in New York state: go rent a two bedroom furnished apartment and move Maria's stuff into it. While she was musing on that, she ran into Sif's fingers pressing against her chest.

"I will agree if you explain something to me," Sif said.

Maria raised an eyebrow.

Sif dropped her hand. "Why do your news heralds refer to me as Xena?"

"Yeah, that might take a while. I promise to tell you when we're home."

***

Maria faked a meeting so she could go and check out the apartment. Her team did a good job making it looked lived in, none of which would matter if Maria didn't know where the light switches were and how to run the remote.

The building was in the middle of downtown with a shoe repair shop downstairs and two apartments upstairs. The top floor apartment was occupied by a married couple who had retired from SHIELD a decade earlier and had been cleared of any HYDRA connection. They ran the shoe shop and back-up base hidden in the basement. Maria would stay with Sif for a month, maybe two in order to assess how she interacted with normal people. If she was good, Maria could leave her on her own in the protected setting. If not, they were heading back to base.

Later that evening when she drove back to the apartment with Sif, Maria couldn't help but remember how she hated having a roommate in college. It's not that she hated the women as individuals – except maybe her freshman roommate that the dorm office had assigned. Maria's problem was that she was used to being on her own. She had toughened up early, which made her independent somewhere around the 3rd grade. It was much easier in the Marines and SHIELD. Living with people was easier in a military setting, because you were focused on being part of a unit. Roommates were not the same as teammates.

Sif looked through the closet and dresser in her room, which Maria's staff had filled with enough clothes and personal items to get the goddess started. Then Sif walked from room to room, occasionally poking a device that she was probably not familiar with. Finally, she stood in front of the living room window, looking down on the bustling street. The team chose a neighborhood with little cafes and coffee shops near the university, which would be a nice cover for any cultural sins the Asgardian might commit. As a bonus, the little upstate town was a mecca for new age types, so there was a cover there as well.

"Commander Hill –"

"Maria – call me Maria, we're in public now."

"Maria," Sif's smile was large and genuine, giving Maria a little rush. There was a whole philosophical debate going on in the back rooms of SHIELD pondering whether any sufficiently advanced race were really gods or if humans were just fooling themselves. The problem with Sif and Thor was that they were just that beautiful and magnetic. Maria fought the instinct to automatically try to please Sif, but somewhere in the back of her head she was wondering how hot the sex would be. "This is wonderful, I cannot thank you enough."

"We should get started on establishing your public persona. What's your last name, ahh your family name?"

Sif frowned. "My lineage is complex. Æsirdottir would be appropriate."

"Okay, you should know that no one around here will know how to spell that, but we'll work on that later. I know that you're proud of your Asgardian lineage, but Dr. Selvig suggest that you should tell people you are from Iceland. It's a place on this planet where their language is closest to yours." Maria didn't add that most people in New York didn't know the first thing about Iceland beyond Bjork and you flew over it on the way to Europe, so it would be easier to smooth over cultural differences.

"Sif Æsirdottir from Iceland." Sif tried it on for size. "Yes, but I will also have to learn about Iceland if my cover is to be convincing."

Maria smiled at the use of spy lingo as she reached into her pack and pulled out a tablet. Moving next to Sif, she began touching buttons as she explained. "Here is the power and your passcode. When you touch this icon, it gives you a list of the background information you will need. This icon allows you to type in a search term." Maria typed in "Iceland" and the Google results showed up.

Sif took the tablet. "I will be diligent in my studies."

"Great. But for now, I've had a long day, the pizza is getting cold, and I still owe you an answer. Have a seat." Maria indicated the couch as she picked up the remote, turned on the TV and went to the on-demand section. "Xena is a fictional character loosely based on the mythology of the Greek gods."

***

What Maria didn't expect was for Sif to catch on so fast. She had left Sif with the remote control when she gave up and went to bed. She woke up to find Sif in civvies, reading a newspaper at the dining room table. In front of her were brown paper bags and food.

"Where did you get that?" Maria demanded.

"After I completed the first season of Xena: Warrior Princess, I found that I was hungry. The guide that you gave me was most instructive in how to locate local eateries and suggested some typical items. I have brought you some as well. I find that I do not care for the coffee, but the bagel and lox are quite good."

Maria picked up the unopened coffee and took a drink to center herself. "You left the apartment?"

"The Strauss Deli was three… three blocks from here and carried the necessary provisions. I used the currency that was left in my room."

"Oh," Maria had not planned for Sif to be out unsupervised, but it didn't look bad on the surface. "So how did it go, any language barriers?" Any brawls, injuries or destruction of property went unasked.

"The shopkeeper discerned that I was not from around here," Sif said the last part like she was trying out the phrase.

Maria nodded.

"I explained that I am new and from Iceland He didn't seem to understand much about Iceland, but we got on well."

Maria sat down. "Okay." She really wasn't sure if it was, but then again Thor had made continuous strides as he attempted to blend in, so maybe Sif was well suited for life in upstate New York. "Okay," Maria said more confidently. "What did you bring me for breakfast?"

***

After that, life got weird. Most people would have thought living with a goddess from another world was weird enough, but Maria had the added layer of an enthusiastic goddess that wanted to know everything there was about living on planet Earth. Maria had showed her how to use the microwave, but Sif had taught herself how to use the stove and was experimenting with recipes she saw on morning talk shows. They would go to work every day and sometimes spend a week or more working a mission, but in their downtime, Sif began to teach Maria a thing or two about the average American's life.

Sif was more than pleased to take her canvas bags to the local mom and pop shops to pick up dinner ingredients. She tended to do this on a daily basis and, as Maria had observed, had charmed all the local merchants into friendship.

But there were days that Sif insisted they drive to a large grocery store for supplies. That's how Marie found herself pushing a cart through Shoprite, looking down into the basket like the bottles and cans were alien artifacts.

"What are you going to use the fish sauce for?" Maria asked.

"There is a Thai recipe for a salad made of beef that is served in a lettuce wrap," Sif said, smelling every plum in in the produce bin. Did Asgardians have special senses to determine when fruit was ripe?

"I like Thai food," Maria said, and she did. She had had the local cuisine all around the world. It was kind of nice having it at home and not out of a take-out container.

"I saw that you enjoyed it; that is why I studied the cuisine."

Despite herself, Maria said, "I like Italian too."

Sif moved Maria's hand so she could place the plums in the top section of the cart. "I know, that is what inspired the pasta carbonara last week."

And there it was, the kind of casual thing that happened every couple of days, their hands were touching and it made Maria feel happy and she wanted to keep holding Sif's hand as they walked through the grocery store. But there were proprieties to be observed and damn-it, Maria wasn't the kind of woman that flirted and held hands in the grocery store.

***

Things got comfortable. They watched TV – endless TV – while they shared the camaraderie of cleaning and polishing their weapons. After Sif had read her the fifth review, Maria found herself sitting in the local movie theater sharing a tub of popcorn as they watched Jurassic World. Both of them were disappointed, Maria, mostly because it didn't live up to the original movie, where at age 11, she was scared shitless by the velociraptors. Sif was disappointed in that the dinosaur's behavior didn't match up to the dinosaurs she had met in real life. After the movie, they stopped for gigantic ice cream sundaes and had a good conversation about how it was possible, but undesirable, to run for your life in heels.

After reading the reviews of Terminator Genesis, Maria convinced Sif they were much better off watching Sarah Connor take names and kick ass in the original movie series. It was Sif, ever the pop-culture researcher, that introduced Maria to the short-lived TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which Maria had completely missed due to her duties at SHIELD. Sif did that and mastered microwave popcorn at the same time.

Then something different happened while they were sitting next to one another on the couch watching Vikings. While they were watching the first season, both of them poked at Sif's tablet looking into the Norse and Icelandic Sagas.

Sif laughed, "They think that I am Thor's wife and a grain goddess."

"It's too late to sue them for defamation of character," Maria said. "It also says you’re a blonde and Loki cut off all of your hair."

Sif made a face, "He did cut off all of my hair, and he did strike a bargain with the dwarves to bring it back, but blonde would have required the dwarves to use gold and Loki was too miserly for that. Instead they used the feathers of a raven and here I am."

"Well, brunettes are more fun," Maria said, running her hand over Sif's head.

Sif returned the gesture, saying, "Yes we are." Then with a wicked grin she pressed the button on the remote. "Then again, I'd bed Lagertha in the single beat of the heart."

The screen moved and the very blonde, very hot, Viking shield maiden kicked the snot out of some lesser mortal. Maria also noticed Sif's thigh pressed up against hers and the floral scent of her shampoo. "I can get behind that. I thought you were attracted to Thor." Marie said, all the while hoping for things she shouldn't be hoping for.

"I…" Sif started and then squirmed a bit on her seat, but losing no contact with Maria. "I suppose that have been attracted to many people. After a victory or a loss for that matter, when the blood is running high, we Asgardians desire to be united with our fellow warriors."

"We call that getting horny," Maria said.

"That is an odd expression."

Maria frowned. "It may be based on the shape of the male anatomy."

"Ah, then perhaps not so strange. But women become horny too," Sif said.

"Yes, we do." Maria allowed her hand to lightly stroke Sif's jean clad leg.

"And we do not require the rage of battle to make us this way," Sif said. Her hand was more deliberate as it ran down Maria's pants, fingers gliding over the inner thigh.

Maria was thinking that she wasn't shy about anything and should actually look at Sif, but Sif already had the initiative. It seemed very natural for Maria to turn and lie back. Sif took care of moving Maria's leg so she could lean down and kiss Maria's lips. Sif was good at kissing.

The kissing felt all the better when the burning heat of Sif's hand skimmed over Maria's blouse. Marie felt her nipples tighten as she arched into the touch. But Maria's hands were not idle as they slipped under the t-shirt Sif was wearing, gliding over the curve of her waist.

With a laugh, Sif began to open the buttons one by one even as her breath came through the layers of cloth as she mouthed Maria's breast. She only paused when Maria tugged the t-shirt over Sif's head.

Maria's hand ran down the rise of Sif's jeans, palming her mound. The jeans needed to go, but Maria was distracted by chill air on her breasts as Sif opened the clasp on her bra. All the offending cold was gone in second as the wet heat of Sif's mouth capture one breast, sucking her nipple to hardness, while the other nipple was treated harshly by Sif's fingers, just the way Maria liked it.

With a smile and a moan, Marie wasted no time in unhooked Sif's bra and followed that up by opening her jeans. They were too damned tight for Maria to slip her hand in. "We should go someplace with a little more room and a lot less clothes." Maria took Sif's hand and let her pull them up.

"You will come to my bed. You will be mine for the night." Sif breathed into her ear.

"Sure, I'm good with that." Maria moved and Sif captured her as they moved to the other room. Along the way, clothing dropped to the floor, so that by the time they reached the edge of the bed, Sif's hands were sliding down Maria's ass and the backs of her thighs as she pushed off Maria's pants. Then Sif unceremoniously shoved Maria on to the bed. Maria reached for her, but Sif had other ideas, spreading Maria's legs so that she could put her mouth on her mound.

Maria writhed into Sif's mouth, thinking that Asgardians must have a higher body temperature because Sif's lips and tongue felt like they were burning her. But soon she wasn't thinking much of anything when Sif was putting finger after finger inside of her while sucking on Maria's clit.

Sif's mouth was replaced by a finger, maybe a thumb. "Tell me that you want-"

"Everything, whatever it is, I want it." Maria caught Sif's eyes and they were as intense as they had ever been facing down some enemy. For a change, Maria didn't mind being someone else's quarry. Maria tasted her own wetness when Sif kissed her and then she was alone sprawled out on the goddess's bed.

Propping herself on her elbows, Maria tried to figure out why she had lost all contact. Sif was lifting her sword off the wall. "Uhm, I'm pretty open minded, but I think we might need to talk about what Asgardians consider sex toys."

Every square inch of Sif was really a goddess: perfect curves, high breasts, and even a battle scar on her hip that Maria wanted to get her teeth on. Sif spun the sword, making it the double bladed staff. Holding it with both hands, she brought it back to the bed offering it to Maria.

Maria looked at her, trying to express her confusion, finally saying, "I don't have any idea what to do with that at the moment."

Sif laid the weapon on the edge of the bed. She pressed her thumbs into two projections on the hilt. The weapon separated into three pieces, two swords and the central rod. Sif lifted a rod and it grew longer than it should have been. A dragon's head appeared at both end. With one hand, Sif moved the swords to the floor. In the other she squeezed the double-headed dragon and it moved.

Maria sat up and put out a hand to touch the dragon's head, wondering if it would bite her. It wasn't hard and metallic any longer. It was more like soft leather. "You carry a double headed dildo in your sword?"

"That is a strange word."

"Yes it is, and I have no idea where it came from. So if that's for me, I'm wondering why you're just standing there."

Sif took Maria by the chin and kissed her before shoving her back. She laid the toy between Maria's breasts so that she was staring into the jeweled eyes of one of the dragons. Her hands free, Sif took her own damn sweet time from Marie's perspective to retrieve a small glass vial, Sif stood at the edge of the bed between Maria's legs. She began to lift the dragon, but Maria sat up and took it from her hands. "Allow me."

Snatching up the vial, Sif used the stopper to put three drops of a rose-tinted liquid on each dragon's head. Maria could see the shimmer spread over the length of the toy. She ran the fingers of her free hand through the fine curls between Sif's legs, wasting no time in pushing two fingers into her. With a satisfied hum, Sif writhed against her fingers.

"Don't be shy, open up for me." Maria began pumping her fingers and licking Sif's breast, trying to capture the swollen nipple, but Sif was writhing too much against Maria's hand. Sif spread her legs wider. Almost reluctantly, Maria pulled her fingers and worked one of the dragon's heads into Sif while holding her hip. Sif's hands joined Maria's as they worked as she swallowed more of it into her body.

It was like the rapport they had built on missions was somehow coming to fruition. Sif let her command, and Maria accepted that Sif was the bigger pro when it came to kicking ass. And maybe that could work against the uncertainty worming its way through Maria's brain. She liked to be the woman standing over the bed, hands, mouth, and equipment at the ready. It scared her, just a little, to enjoy being the woman on the bed.

She ran a finger over the scar on Sif's hip, kissing her waist and then coming face to face with the dragon again. Heart pounding and mind made up, Maria gave it a quick kiss which tasted like honey. Then she lay back, spreading her legs wide.

Maria's hips bucked as she clamped down around Sif's fingers as they entered her again.

"So impatient, I must give you more." Sif was a goddess-sized tease though, because as her fingers left, the head of the dragon only played at Maria's entrance.

Maybe she was waiting for Maria to beg, but that wasn't her style. "That's not nearly enough. You don't want me to start spreading rumors that the Asgardians are stingy, do you?"

When Maria was about to go crazy, Sif grabbed Maria's hips and dragged her closer to the edge of the bed. The heel of Sif's hand pressed down on her hip as the dragon pushed its way inside. At first it was nice but unimpressive. Then Sif moved and it was if the toy thickened. It was almost painfully large when Sif groaned and began to fuck her in earnest, hips snapping. But it was never more than a glorious dull ache, like the toy changed with every thrust to keep Maria filled to bursting, but never more than she could take.

The halo of Sif's hair touched Marie's face and breasts. Pushing up on her elbows, Maria was able to steal a kiss. Then she remembered that Sif could handle both their weights and wrapped an arm around Sif's neck. Her free hand moved between their bodies, touching everything she could.

"Oh hell!" Maria shouted, when the dragon began to vibrate. Before she could gasp again, her back was on the bed, and Sif had both of Maria's wrists in one hand, pinned down.

"You dare call on another goddess of Asgard?"

"What?"

"You called on Hel, ruler of the land of the dead."

Seriously? Maria thought. Was she going to have to break out the damn tablet to prove – Maria's musing was interrupted when Sif's fingers began working her clit. Then she saw the smile in Sif mouth, the deviousness in her eyes.

Maria smiled. "You're going to have to work a lot harder than that if you want me to worship you."

The dragon moved and the vibration doubled. Involuntarily Maria's hips bucked as she tried to follow Sif's thrust. Sif laved Maria's breast and then sucked hard on the nipple before nibbling with her teeth. Maria's control broke and she whimpered, which seemed to make Sif bite harder.

"Sif! Sif, Just-" Maria came hard. She tried to squirm away from the overwhelming sensation, but Sif was pinning her in place. The vibrations from dragon went into overdrive and Sif began to shake and let loose of Maria's hands.

"Oh Maria, beautiful Maria, you are fierce!"

Taking Sif's face into her hands, Maria kissed her hard, but it only lasted a few seconds before Sif cried out something in Norse. Maria ran her hand down Sif's sweat-soaked back, before Sif very gently returned her kiss.

***
"Commander Hill?"

Maria looked up, game face fully in place. "What do you have for me?"

"Periodic report on Lady Sif."

Maria raised an eyebrow, knowing that she could augment that report with information that would make the agent in front of her blush to his spine. "Go."

"Our agents have made a full recon of the businesses that Sif has interacted with. They report that the locals think she's different, because she's foreign, but overall they have a good impression of her. Lady Sif has mastered US currency and local etiquette enough to meet expectations. Our agents in the shoe shop feel that it is safe for her to be on her own. You're off the hook, ma'am."

"Excellent. You're dismissed."

The Agent nodded and then asked. "Would you like me to send a team in to remove your belongings back to the base?"

"No." Maria shuffled the papers on her desk, wishing that the agent would stop trying to be helpful and just go away.

"Of course, it's probably a smoother transition for you to inform the subject yourself."

There were plenty of things Maria wanted to inform Sif of, such as the fact that she really, really enjoyed wearing the dragon on Sunday night. Also, she was not made of china so Sif should feel free to use some more of that Asgardian strength. Why didn't this guy just go away, so Maria could think a little more on that?

"Agent Carpenter, I won't be going anywhere. I think the personal contact strengthened SHIELD's ties with Asgard, and besides, she can cook."

"Of course, ma'am." Finally Carpenter left stepped out of the door, but he balked and shouted back. "Commander Hill, Lady Sif-"

Carpenter was cut off as Sif walked in clad in her battle armor. Maria gestured for him to close the door.

"Commander Hill, I would have words."

"Sure, Lady Sif, what can I do for you?" Maria stood up and came around her desk, leaning on it.

Sif's fingers were on her chin and Maria fought the automatic reaction to melt into it.

"You had thought to be rid of me?"

Oh great. "You overheard the part where I wasn't planning on going anywhere, right?" Maria asked. Sif's fingers were trailing along her cheek and they were really going to have a talk about the kind of touching allowed in the office.

"Aye, but I do not wish to cause an undue burden."

Maria took Sif's hand off her cheek and held it between both of hers, as she leaned in to whisper. "The only burden I'm carrying is that we have to do something about a HYDRA base in the Alps before we get to go home."

Sif smiled. "Then perhaps we should take advantage of the moment."

Maria frowned, looking around the room. "The thing is that while I don't think there are surveillance devices in this room, I can't be sure."

Running her thumb over the back of Maria's hand, Sif smiled sweetly and said, "Then it seems you have another burden."

"Which is?"

"Disabling any unwanted eyes in this room, because the next time we visit here. I do not guarantee that I will be able to contain my enthusiasm."

Maria's brain was going no, no, no, but her body was a complete traitor to the cause. "I'd be a derelict in my duty if I didn't ask you to show me all the features of your weapon. Maybe we'll make an appointment to do that next time we're on base."