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Fortified and reassured by his contact with Midgard, Thor finds the homecoming feast easier to bear than he had expected. Everyone present clamors for tales of life on Midgard, and Thor gladly relates his adventures with the Avengers and even some humorous anecdotes about cultural misunderstandings. Volstagg gets in on the fun as well, telling a mightily exaggerated version of Fandral’s sparring session with Natasha. Thor does not mind the embellishments - they make Natasha sound justly formidable and Fandral takes the teasing well.

“Tell us another amusing story, Thor!” someone begs.

“Another amusing one, my lady?” Thor says, searching his memory. Ah - the tale of the Avengers and the bio-robotic creature should suffice. It does end in accidental nudity, after all, and Thor does not mind casting himself in humorous roles. “I do have one, but I warn you - I suffer a grave indignity in it!”

Everyone laughs. Thor takes a drink of mead and begins. “This occurred but a few weeks ago, when my comrades and I faced a mighty foe and had to be rescued by my - “

“That is not a humorous story, it is another adventure!” Sif interrupts, laughing. Thor stops, surprised, because it is not Sif’s usual laugh. “Volstagg, tell the tale of Hogun and the Iron Man!”

“H-hogun and the Iron Man?” Volstagg says, caught by surprise.

Bewildered, Thor catches his mother’s eye. She shakes her head and makes a tiny gesture for him to be still.

“Oh, yes,” Thor says, taking his cue. “Please, friend Volstagg, that is a much better story.”

Volstagg manages credibly, despite the fact that even with Tony’s involvement the event was not unusually entertaining, and Hogun’s dignity is a difficult target on any day. Thor spends the rest of the evening encouraging others to tell stories, worried that he will cause another misstep.

That night, as he lies in the bed that used to be his own, he thinks through the evening and attempts to understand it. He supposes that placing a recently banished prince in a comedic story would be insensitive, and it is possible Mother worried that the members of the court would be unsettled by it. The court can be a moody thing, Thor has been told, and must sometimes be managed delicately.

Before he darkens the room, Thor takes his cell device and painstakingly spells out i love you brother with the miniscule letter-buttons. He feels better after he sends the missive off to Loki, but it is a long time before he falls asleep.