My comrades were celebrating the New Year. I was told we were supposed to consume alcohol and stay up past midnight in order to see the “ball drop.”
“Ball drop?” I had no idea what that meant.
“It’s a tradition,” Tony Stark explained. “There’s a countdown with a lit-up, fiberglass ball that slides down a pole until it reaches the 2015 sign and then that lights up right at midnight.”
“…slides down a pole…you make that sound really dirty,” a man known as Rhodes “Rhodey” said looking at Tony. They seemed to be good friends.
“We didn’t have a ball drop in my day,” the good captain stated. “Sure, we packed Times Square, but it was Lady Liberty who lit up the block.”
“God bless America,” Tony said in a slightly mocking tone while taking another swig from his glass.
“This is how you ring in a new year?” I asked. “Your lives are so short. Shouldn’t you celebrate it a bit more rambunctiously? You’ve survived another year without dying sooner than you’re meant to. This ‘ball drop…’ it sounds rather…”
“Dull?” Clint finished. “It is. Times Square is so packed you can’t move an inch and the live singers they have all suck.”
“Your musicians are not talented? What kind of celebration is this?” I took another sip of my beverage, some weak concoction that I should have replaced with mead hours ago.
“Well, what kind of celebration do you have?” Tony was clearly exasperated as if to say sorry Earth isn’t nearly as cool.
I paused for a second thinking of home…of my family…and what little was left of it. “Before a celebratory feast, mother would always make Loki and I polish our own armor when we were younger so we would at least appear to be worthy of the throne…it was more or less a message of discipline.” I paused yet again recalling the memories. “Mead was consumed, mugs shattered on the ground with everyone yelling, ‘ANOTHER!’ Stories were told, the fires roaring…” I glanced up at Tony who looked ready to yawn. “…And the ladies…” I finished giving him a sly smile.
“Now you’re talking,” Steve surprised me. I couldn’t help but chuckle.
Natasha sighed. “You boys…” and she rolled her eyes until they ended up on Clint who I saw look away suddenly. I kept the silent communication to myself knowing full well what transpired between them, recognizing the look Jane would give me from time to time.
“So…you’re like a prince, right?” Rhodes directed at me. I gave him a single nod and then took another swig of my drink.
Stark joined in before Rhodes could continue. “So are you betrothed to a princess or something?” he asked in that sarcastic attitude.
I laughed lightly while shaking my head. “No. I wouldn’t have to wed to take the throne.”
Steve turned to me. “So…you’re going to be…king?” He had a look of disbelief on his face.
I started to give him the automatic answer that had been drilled into my head. Someday. But I stopped and thought of the conversation I had with my father. I cast my gaze at Mjolnir sitting out of place on the table amid takeout and cocktail glasses. “No.” I said quietly. I saw Natasha lean in a little bit in curiosity. “I declined the throne.”
“You can do that?” Tony asked with sincere surprise.
“I guess so. I told my father I couldn’t protect the realms and the people I love while sitting in that chair.”
“Sounds a little off to me,” Clint stated while perched on the arm of a chair. All eyes turned to him. “For a guy who banished his oldest son and rightful heir to suddenly say it’s ok for said son to walk away from the throne? The behavior’s not matching up.”
I must have looked a little more speculative than I was because Clint quickly put his hands up and added, “I’m just saying.”
Silence befell for a brief moment, which Tony had to break. “Natasha, thunder god here sounds single. You should get on that.”
The deadly woman cast a look at me and then at Stark. I discovered I had one brow raised and cast glances between her and Tony.
Bruce Banner spoke up, “And that has to do with what exactly?”
“Sorry, Stark,” she said standing to stretch. “Aliens aren’t my thing,” and she walked to the bar to grab another drink.
“Plus, she could probably kill me,” I said thinking of how she sometimes reminded me of Sif.
I saw Clint stifle a grin out of the corner of my eye.
“You know, he never said he was single: just that he didn’t have to be married anytime soon.”
I couldn’t believe it. My friend Steve Rogers was baiting the hook for Tony Stark and the rest of the team to have a jab at my personal life. I looked at him with a hint of a silent plea and he gave me a friendly punch to the arm. I smiled, “And I thought I could trust you.”
He laughed in response while grabbing his drink and tapping it against mine. “No harm meant.”
“Ok. That statement obviously means he is seeing somebody,” Tony said looking at Rhodes who nodded in agreement. “Some Asgardian chick?”
I had learned enough slang to realize “chick” didn’t always mean a small bird.
I shook my head and smiled at the thought of Jane. Her beautiful mind and no-nonsense attitude had me tripping over my words. My thoughts were very muddled…alright, nonexistent when she kissed me, and I knew I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for her schooling me.
“Thor? Still on Earth? Midgard? Whatever the hell you call it,” Tony cut into my thoughts.
I thought back to the previous question about the Asgardian “chick.” “No. I’m courting a maiden far fairer.”
I saw the gears turning in Tony’s head and found it rather amusing. “Son of a bitch. He’s seeing a human,” he realized.
I smiled and kept the rest of the information to myself while the team later decided to have a contest to see who could lift Mjolnir. Midgardians are strange…but I like them.