Thor looks down at the report. This is new to him, this reporting, though he has heard of it before. Mostly he has heard reporting discussed in the groaning tones of long suffering. The correct response to these remarks appears to be, most often, a sympathetic rolling of eyes. Personally, Thor does not see how one could be unhappy to have been given such an honour. To be trusted in such a way is the very apex of a warrior's achievements, at least in Asgard. But it seems to be the way of Midgardians (as taken to extremes by Anthony Stark) to downplay the great honours and so, when Director Hill asked Thor to stand watch and to report to her daily, Thor was filled with pride but took care not to show it.
"I shall endeavor to be exact," was what he told her. She looked at him for a long time, and then she nodded.
"Okay," she said. "Look, just tell me when they wake up, anything the medical team says, and any pertinent details, okay? Especially with…" she jerked her pointed chin in the direction of the two hospital beds, both of which were fit for the Hulk when sedated, but at present only occupied by human forms, "…that one."
"You mean the Sergeant," Thor ventured.
"I mean the Winter Soldier," she answered. "Whatever Steve thinks he is…" she paused and shook her head, as if changing her mind. "If the Winter Soldier gets violent, or he gets out of control, you have permission to subdue him in whatever way you think best, after which you will tell me all about it, understood?"
Thor made an effort not to let his chest swell too much. Maria Hill, Director, warrior, and ally, had given him her trust, and Thor did not wish to disappoint.
That feeling lasted the whole day, until now. Because, as it happens the actual writing part of the reports is is something of a thorny business. Thor is beginning to understand the sighs and eye-rolling he has seen among his companions when reports are mentioned. Reports are difficult.
Thor knows Maria Hill wishes him to report everything as if the Allfather’s eye was fixed upon it. Thor knows his own reputation (it is a matter almost of currency in Asgard, and old habits are hard to break). He is seen as honest and trustworthy and strong. But he is also, alas, known because he is still unfamiliar with so many Midgardian customs. He suspects (though he has not asked even Jane for it would make her uncomfortable to speak a hurtful truth) that Director Hill chose him because she believed he would not understand the Midgardian love of privacy. In fact, she may have counted upon it.
Privacy is a strange thing. Thor may not understand the reasons so many Midgardians persist in pretending they have never seen the middle third of the human body unclad, and react with horror when they unexpectedly do. He many not understand the exact difference between underclothes and bathing suits. He may not fully grasp the finer points of TMI, but he does understand that privacy is important to Midgardians and they value it. Now faced with his promise to attempt exactitude, and the events of the day, he suspects that this above all is why Maria Hill asked him to report upon the Captain and his new-recovered friend. He dislikes that. Deeply.
It was like this. Director Hill left, and guards were assigned to watch outside his own little station, an observation booth large enough for his own cot and a small table and two chairs so that Jane might be made welcome when she came to visit. He retrieved the tablet Stark had given him and settled himself near the window to watch both for signs of movement in the two wounded men, and resumed the 13th Warrior where he had paused it.
Some time in the afternoon, the Sergeant woke screaming. Thor came to his feet and stood a while at the observation window. He wondered briefly if he should pass through the heavy mechanical door and attend on the Sergeant, but there was no need. In the bed next to the Sergeant, the Captain opened his eyes and half-rose from his bed, one hand out to settle on his friend's restrained arms.
“Bucky,” the Captain's voice came through the speaker above the window, low but audible. The Sergeant turned his head, eyes wild, staring, the sound dying in his mouth when he saw who addressed him. There was a long moment of silence while the Sergeant looked around, his eyes searching out the medical equipment, and Thor himself, and the Captain once again.
“No,” the Sergeant said then, redoubling his efforts to break free of Stark’s restraints. “No, not you, no not you! I won’t let them!”
“No, Bucky, it's okay.” The Captain managed a smile, fleeting and weary but present, before he sagged back down again, as one weary of heavy labour. “It’s okay. You're safe. We're safe. I told you it'd be okay. He's… he's a friend.” The Captain's blue eyes met Thor’s and the smile returned.
The Sergeant turned his head again, staring at Thor and Thor raised his hand in the manner that meant greeting in Midgard and the Sergeant stared at him. In return, Thor studied the Sergeant.
He had been told that the Sergeant had once been a great hero and now was not a man to be trusted. He had heard the tale of the helicarrier, and seen the wounds on the Captain's body. He knew that the Sergeant was the Captain's greatest friend, and the quest to recover him had driven the Captain almost to madness.
Redemption, that was what the Captain had been hoping for. That above all other things Midgardian, above privacy and customs, that Thor understood.Where an Asgardian might spend a hundred years nursing a grudge like a mountain making a glacier at its heart, a Midgardian would have been born and died, and so they needed to be mutable, and to believe in change. Practical, perhaps, for a short-lived creature, but there was something noble in that hope. He smiled therefore, at the Sergeant, for Thor believed in redemption too.
The Sergeant turned his head away.
Thor looks down at his paper and taps the pen upon it. Thor values his friendship with the Captain. The Captain has taken him in as his own shield-brother, and stood beside him when Loki ran rampant. Even Stark, whom Thor often thinks of as the least approachable of the Midgardians he is habitually with, has protect him, protected his privacy, for the media had been baying at him for interviews and discussions and stories and he had not understood until Stark had told him what all of that would mean. The care they take of one another's privacy is much like the care of comrades in arms in the face of a foe. That is a thing he does understand.
What the Avengers call "friends" Thor was reared to call "family". It is a different word for the same thing, and Thor does not need anyone to explain. He decides, as he thinks about it, that he will do for the Captain what he would do for any of of his family, what they have already done for him.
MARIA HILL, GREETINGS,
I wish this report to find you in good health.
There is some news to tell. Sergeant Barnes began to yell in his sleep this morning and awoke shortly thereafter. Do not be alarmed; I have heard and seen such distress from men who have been injured falling from a height, as if their bodies do not know that they have landed, and so it was with the Sergeant. There was no need to interfere and Stark’s restraints have done admirable work though they were were thoroughly tested.
The Captain also awoke, though he remains heavily under the influence of the draught the doctors have given him, he did speak to his friend, which calmed him and I believe both are well.
I shall report more tomorrow.
Thor, son of Odin, Allfather
There is nothing untrue in any of it.