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better than the original

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Thor had a doppelgänger.

If the god had served a lifetime in prison and been recently released back into society, he’d look like this guy. 

Steve must’ve stared for longer than what was deemed socially acceptable because the guy stared right back with the same amount of intensity—except with an enormous, toothy grin.

“Steven!” The guy boomed enthusiastically as he gathered Steve into a bone-crushing embrace, literally sweeping him off his feet and twirling him in the air as if he weighed nothing.

Eyes wide, Steve was forced to clutch at the guy’s broad shoulders, more out of surprise than out of fear of being dropped. His mind reeled as the world did, dizzy from being spun without so much as a warning.

He felt small again, and the feeling was a rather unpleasant one.

“Hey,” He called none too kindly, eyes flitting around to ensure there weren’t any witnesses. Much to his chagrin, the guy had decided to scoop him up in the middle of the crosswalk, pedestrians maneuvering around them to reach their destination. “Mind putting me down?”

The man had the decency to at least appear mortified, before gently setting him onto solid ground again; although his bulky arms remained encircled around Steve’s waist. “My apologies. I’m just very happy to see you.”

“I can tell,” Steve said, deadpan. He shifted uncomfortably in the man’s firm hold, torn between the desire to pull away and to press closer. “I’m flattered, really, but the thing is...I don’t know you.”

And the signal’s about to turn red, he mentally augmented. Super soldier or not, he’d very much like to avoid being squashed into a flat pancake, thank you very much.

The guy seemed to be in deep thought, face lax as he mulled over Steve’s words, before his brilliant grin returned full force. It was jarring how easy the man could switch between emotions. “Of course! How could I forget? You don’t recognize me. Of course, of course.”

“Yeah.” Steve blinked dumbfoundedly as the man continued to mumble ‘of courses’ under his breath like a mantra. “That’s what ‘I don’t know you’ means.”

“Yes! Because of this!” The guy gestured vaguely at himself, lingering especially over his hair and mismatched eyes. Those were pretty. The artist within him itched to capture it onto paper. “And the absence of Mjolnir.”

“Mjolnir?” Steve echoed like a parrot, before everything clicked into place and all the stars in the sky aligned. “Thor, is that you?”

“Indeed!” Thor practically roared in his ear, and he was reminded of being partially deaf for a split second. “Alas, you do recognize me, even as far as the past.”

“What?” Steve asked, which had nothing to do with his temporary inability to hear through one ear. Maybe Tony was right; maybe his body was catching up to his old age. “What do you mean by ‘the past?’”

“Let us talk in a more suitable location.” Thor motioned with his thumb towards the other end of the sidewalk, and Steve suddenly realized that this wasn’t the most ideal place to reunite with a companion. It was a miracle that their conversation hadn’t been interrupted, given how New Yorkers frequently blare their horns. 

“Lead the way,” Steve said, and he finally didn’t resist Thor slinging an arm around his waist to guide him into the bustling street to who-knows-where.

‘A more suitable location’ was a Starbucks to Thor.

“So what you’re telling me,” Steve said slowly, enunciating each word deliberately after he’d digested the new influx of information with coffee, “is that you’re from the future, and you went back in time to the wrong era.”

“I’m afraid so.” Thor munched on his cookie, catching stray crumbs in his beard. Steve stamped on the urge to wipe them with a napkin. “I understand if you don’t believe me.”

“Sure, why not?” Steve hefted up a shoulder as casually as he was able to. “You being here is proof enough. Your past self left not even thirty minutes ago. I seriously doubt you could get a haircut and everything in that timeframe.”

He paused to duck his head, scratching at an invisible itch on his cheek. “Besides, I know you wouldn’t lie to me.”

“I’m delighted I have your trust,” Thor said, smiling as he placed a massive hand over Steve’s and gave it a pat. “I assure you, I would never lie to you, even if I had to.”

“Thanks, I guess.” Steve rested his hand on top of Thor’s, and together they formed a neat stack of hands. Future Thor seemed to seek physical contact a lot more than Past Thor did. Pastor. “What do you plan to do now?”

“There isn’t much to do, other than wait for my teammates to arrive.” Thor, surprisingly, didn’t seem afraid at the possibility that he could be stuck here for all of eternity. “In the meantime, I can spend time with you.”

“Why?” Steve blurted before he could stop himself. At the confusion on Thor’s face, he quickly amended with, “I mean, I’m not...I’m sure there are more important things out there than wasting time with me.”

“Any time with you is precious.” Thor’s heterochromatic eyes—Steve doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to that—softened as he collapsed the hand stack, only to sandwich Steve’s hand between his. “You’re important to me, Steven.”

“That’s generous of you,” Steve said, and if his voice raised an octave at the end, no one had to know. He wiggled his hand out of Thor’s grasp to retrieve his cup, taking a long sip to hide his rapidly burning cheeks.

When he lowered the cup, he found that Thor was watching him. His breath caught at the immeasurable care and adoration in those eyes. He looked...content, like he didn’t want to be anywhere other than here, with Steve.

Steve wondered what his future self did to render Thor into an infatuated puppy.

“You are the one with a generous nature,” Thor insisted as he affectionately squeezed Steve’s hand. “I admire that about you.”

Steve found that hard to believe. Time traveling was far easier to accept in comparison. He was about to tell Thor just that when the god continued, “Not only that. I also admire the smallest details about you. Your humor, for one. The sound of your laughter. The way you smile. Your perseverance, resolution…I admire all of you, Steven.”

“Thor, that’s—I can’t even—” He didn’t know how to respond to that. What could he possibly say to beat that? His mouth flapped open and closed like a fish deprived of water, before he finally decided to laugh, albeit breathlessly. “Wow. Thank you.”

“As I’ve told you before,” Thor said as he lifted Steve’s hand until he pressed a kiss to Steve’s knuckles, “it’s my pleasure.”

“Um,” Steve says eloquently at the gesture. Was it getting hot in here, or was it just him? His throat felt parched and he was in desperate need of water. The caffeine wasn’t helping. “I’m not your Steve, buddy. There isn’t a ‘before.’”

“I lo—like, every version of you.” As if to distract Steve from his slipup, Thor turned Steve’s hand to kiss his palm. Unfortunately, it worked, and Steve forgot how to think for a heartbeat. “You’re extraordinary.”

“I’m extra ordinary,” Steve stubbornly countered, “if there’s more than one version of me.”

Thor’s mouth pulled downwards into a displeased frown, and Steve wanted to recant his words. “Steven, don’t belittle yourself. You—”

Whatever Thor was going to say next was interrupted by Steve’s phone vibrating. He threw him an apologetic smile, before glancing at the lit screen.

Called in for briefing. Thor’s back with info. on Loki and his scepter.

It was surreal, seeing Thor in front of him and knowing another Thor was with the Avengers.

“I’ve gotta go.” Steve pocketed his phone and pushed back his chair, standing to his full height. “Duty calls. You’re back to give us intel on Loki.”

“I see.” Something flickered in Thor’s eyes, but it dissipated as quickly as it came. He tried for a smile, but it was strained and wasn’t nearly as bright as it had been before. “Farewell, Steven.”

Steve turned to go, but then a thought manifested in his mind and he whirled around to face Thor. “Will I see you again?”

Without missing a beat, Thor reassured him with a simple, “You will.”