‘Didn’t you calibrate that thing literally twenty minutes ago?’
Jane sighed, looked away from her monitor and buried her head in her hands ‘Yeah I did,’ she mumbled ‘you’re right. There must be something else I can do.’
‘How about have a cup of hot chocolate and watch some cheesy Italian sci-fi with me?’ Darcy had already poured milk into a pan to put on the stove ‘I have Starcrash, the blu-ray edition, so you can see all the wires on the space ships and the bad guys come out of giant golden dildos.’
Jane nodded, but with no enthusiasm ‘Just let me save this and I’ll come join you.’
Her new long range telescope (named Heimdall81) was installed at the Greenwich Observatory and she was able to access it any where. She was able to detect some of the radiation and ‘gravametric-silliness’ (Darcy’s words not her’s) following new ‘objects’ throughout the visible night sky and further- much further- perhaps even tracing all the way to Asgard, though she had not mentioned that last part to Thor or anyone just yet- she did not want to get hopes up. Plus, she was certain she had someone monitoring her work to see if she could get a working Einstein-Rosen bridge yet and possibly weaponize it. It wasn’t just super villains either. As much as she admired Tony Stark, what she had seen of the Ultron thing made her want to keep her work as far away from him as possible. So her Bridge Building was kept a little more secret that it had been and she focused more on the after effects of the Convergence. It worked; aside from the Nobel Prize talk (who’d’ve thought she’d ever be able to call a Nobel an ‘aside’?!), she had people kissing her ass wherever she went, and not just because she was dating an Avenger. It meant she got the tools, the means, the equipment and the funding to do whatever the crap she wanted. She should’ve expected the constant speculation about her love life or the awkward and sexist questioning that followed, but as long as she never went onto any gossip sites or googled herself, she was fine. Speculate away TMZ, she thought, I’m too busy being super-fucking-awesome and banging an alien once worshipped as a fertility god. She was starting to think like Darcy now- maybe that was no bad thing.
Anyway, the Galaxy Zoo project was able to add these possible traces of the Convergence to their database. The SDSS was going to name them after her, since they were her discovery, but she wasn’t going to let Darcy have any input. Darcy wanted them to be named Foster-Bubbles, given how they looked on the Hubble images, but Jane vetoed that immediately; partly because it was a stupid name and they didn’t look like bubbles to her- they were almost like mini-pulsars. Little pockets of coloured light, but tightly packed and round. They wouldn’t last long either; she observed one for three nights in a row (staying awake for seventy two hours did a number on her but it was WORTH IT) and noted it’s behaviour. It was there one night- glowing in a myriad of beautiful colours and pulsing- then it would suddenly vanish, leaving traces of sterile nutrinos and dark matter in it’s wake, then even that would be dissipated within a week. Why? Jane honestly couldn’t tell, but she hoped to spot another one soon and hopefully find some answers.
Okay , so, upon reflection, they were pretty bubble-like, but Foster-Bubble was a still a stupid name.
They were staying in a rather nice apartment in Weston Creek Australia as part of both a trip to the Outback and a lecture at the ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
When Jane came into the living room Darcy grabbed her shoulders and sat her down ‘You know how you said you didn’t want to know what Thor’s doing so you don’t worry?’
Jane felt like someone had kicked her legs away ‘What’s happened?’
Darcy turned, face pale and showed Jane the TV. The footage from Sokovia was… horrifying. Had Jane not seen the footage from New York and the universe becoming a dark, empty husk, she would’ve said that a city floating in mid-air with people running and screaming in terror from an army of killer robots was going to haunt her nightmares. Then there were glimpses of Thor- the cape, the hammer- and Jane just looked away ‘Is he okay?’ She asked, weakly.
‘We would’ve heard by now if he wasn’t,’ Darcy said, firmly ‘you know this, Jane, they said they would contact us if he was...’
They both said nothing. Heart throbbing and limbs shaking, Jane reached for the remote and turned it off.
‘Sorry,’ Darcy muttered ‘It came on when I tried to put in the blu-ray...’
Jane shook her head ‘It’s okay,’ she slumped back on the chair ‘this footage is new and we don’t know everything yet and Maria Hill would let me know if something… happened...’
The lack of sleep and food was making her panic. That was it. She had seen worse. Probably. Thor had fought worse… probably. She hugged herself and tried to regulate her breathing.
‘I’ll try and contact-’ Darcy began.
‘No, not yet, the might need the channel open or it could get traced,’ or the worse has happened Jane held her wrist away from her phone ‘just give them a minute.’
‘Okay boss,’ Darcy put it down ‘so…. you want that hot chocolate?’
‘Yeah, but...’ Jane put her face in a pillow ‘I think we need to add some liquor.’
Jane wakes up to find two dudes with capes in her kitchen.
‘If I ever see Tony Stark again, I will punch him square in the balls!’
Darcy leaned out of the way of Jane’s wild gesturing ‘Sure you will.’
‘I punched Loki, I am not afraid of Stark!’ Jane snarled ‘Honestly, what kind of idiot thinks it’s okay to give control of peace-keeping over to an AI?! Doesn’t he think of the implications?!’
‘URGH! See, this is the difference between a scientist and an engineer- engineers don’t think before they take shit apart, scientists generally step back and try and predict the variables!’
Darcy cared about her personal safety, so did not bring up Bruce Banner.
‘What was Bruce even thinking?! Like… I am so pissed right now!’
‘In both the American and British sense of the word,’ Darcy patted her hand ‘C’mon Janey, time for bed I think.’
‘I’m not tired!’
‘Yeah you are, you’ve had virtually no sleep and about three mugs of spiked hot chocolate, you’re about to drop. Drink some water then go to bed.’
‘But what if Thor-’
‘I will wake you up if there’s any news okay? C’mon, what do you take me for?’
‘We still haven’t heard anything...’
‘Well, maybe there’s nothing to tell yet. Just… chill, something will come up.’
Jane nodded and followed Darcy’s directions to put her in bed, curling up and falling asleep almost in an instant.
Darcy went downstairs and, despite the falling fear in her gut, opened the internet on her phone and cautiously looked up what the hell was happening.
When Jane heard Thor whispering her name, she assumed she was dreaming because, more often than not, she was, but this time she stirred out of her sleep when a hand gently stroked her cheek and hair.
The voice seemed so distant to her, submerged in sleep as she was, but she followed it to the waking world and opened her eyes to see him leaning down beside her bed, face inches from her’s. He was out of his armour and in casuals, but she could see cuts and burn marks still healing on his skin. He’d managed to get showered, but she could see bits of rubble and brick dust still in his hair and beard. He smelled mostly of soap and ozone, but with a hint of oil and melting metal. She squinted and entangled her fingers in his hair ‘You’re okay?’
‘Very much Jane, all the more for seeing you.’
‘Smooth talker,’ she mumbled, sitting up ‘hang on, let me brush my teeth, I taste of- hmmph.’
Thor kissed her regardless of morning breath and night old sour hot chocolate, so Jane just went with it until she came up for air.
‘Okay, now let me brush my teeth and then you can tell me what the hell went down in Sokovia.’
‘I shall,’ Thor nodded ‘in the mean time I will make us breakfast. I see from the little bottles in the kitchen you had a few drinks last night...’
'Well yeah... I saw the news footage.'
'But all is well now?'
‘I’m feeling okay, mostly just tired and hungry, I’m more concerned about you-’
‘Breakfast first, then I shall… explain.’
That pause was pretty ominous and usually meant there was a rather depressing revelation at the end of it. Jane went to the bathroom, washed up and went downstairs, anxiety suddenly clenching her stomach in knots.
‘Hey! Jane!’ Darcy was in her pyjamas and entering in the living room, having only just got up herself ‘Mew-Mew’s by the front door, I take it Thor’s okay?’
‘He seems so, he said he’d be in the kitchen.’
‘Oh thank god, I’d kill for some pancakes right now.’
She went into the kitchen while Jane hunted round the living room for her phone and a clean set of clothes on the a-frame perched by the TV. She jumped when she heard Darcy scream from the kitchen and drop something.
‘JANE!’ She came running ‘THERE’S A GIANT PURPLE MAN IN OUR KITCHEN!’
‘Did I stutter?! There’s a purple people eater in our kitchen!’
Jane looked from her to the kitchen as a… man- who was, indeed, purple and green with a yellow-gold cape- strode out to greet them.
‘Hello,’ he (?) said, calmly ‘I am sorry to startle you.’
‘Um,’ Jane began ‘hi?’
‘Okay, can someone please explain why you exist?!’ Darcy spluttered, gesturing to the figure ‘And why the hell are you so calm Jane?!’
‘I’m… not sure.’
‘He does not mean you harm,’ Thor’s voice came from behind the figure ‘please, Darcy, it’s alright.’
Jane held up a hand ‘I’m sorry for my friend, really, but we… we will need an explanation before one of us says something to offend our guest.’
‘Cut me some slack Jane! He’s a giant purple people eater who randomly materialised in our freaking kitchen!’
‘First off, that thing had one eye, second-’
‘I am an Android,’ the thing said, just as calmly ‘I do not need to eat as such and I certainly do not intend to eat people. Also, I think you’ll find I am maroon, not purple.’
‘Oh I’m sorry!’ Darcy snapped ‘I’ll be more considerate next time you bamf out of nowhere in our house!’
‘Darcy,’ Thor reached out with a placating hand ‘let us talk, I am sorry that I did not tell you Vision was coming, but I feel I need to introduce him… maybe this will reassure both of you.’
He nodded to the Vision, who smiled, reached to where Mjolnir was sitting by the door…. and picked it up.
‘What the...’ Jane gasped.
‘Holy shit,’ Darcy stared from it to the Vision, then to Thor ‘he… he’s worthy?’
‘Extremely,’ Thor agreed ‘and I have much much more to tell you.’
They sat around the table, mugs of coffee on stand by, while they listened to a recount of most of what had happened over the last few weeks- Ultron, the Twins, Sokovia, Johannesburg, Seoul… Thor had many talents- he could spin a yarn like nobodies business- but if there was one thing he was not terribly good at, it was lying. Well, technically, omitting the truth, but Jane could tell he wasn’t giving her the whole story and it wasn’t very reassuring.
‘So, this-’ she indicated on her own forehead where Vision kept the Mind Stone ‘- is like the Aether? And there’s more like them?’
‘Indeed,’ Vision said ‘it is what keeps me alive, so to speak, and what gives me my… being. It is one of six Infinity stones.’
‘So was the Aether,’ Thor looked to Jane ‘which I believe to be the Reality stone.’
‘Huh,’ Jane managed ‘that’s… interesting.’
‘It is strange you were able to hold onto it,’ Vision remarked, thoughtfully.
‘It must’ve thought Jane advantageous,’ Thor took her hand ‘it could’ve chosen me, Loki, my father… but it stayed with you because… I think it knew you had your own knowledge of reality and its composition. It hoped you would ultimately lead it to Malaketh- its intended master.’
Jane shuddered ‘That would be pretty flattering...If it weren’t slowly killing me from the inside out.’
‘It clearly thought the mind was worth the mortal body,’ Vision explained ‘it did not much care for the host.’
‘No kidding,’ Jane managed a smile ‘but… Thor must trust you a lot to hold something so powerful.’
‘I am honoured to say that he does.’
‘I would trust him with all that I hold dear,’ Thor kissed Jane’s hand ‘all I hold dear.’
Jane was about to ask for more details, when Darcy- who had made a valiant effort not to ask anything until now- suddenly cracked under the pressure.
‘It’s so weird,’ Darcy breathed ‘JARVIS’ voice coming out of you… like… you’re not JARVIS?’
‘No,’ Vision turned to her, with a soft smile ‘I think of JARVIS as a kind of previous life, one where I was without body, one where I was me… but not quite.’
‘This is going to really screw with my philosophy paper.’
Jane pinched the bridge of her nose ‘Getting back on track?’
‘Sorry,’ Darcy didn’t sound very sorry ‘so, you have, like, four Dads and one Mom? Well, two if you count Jane-’
‘What? If Thor created him, kinda, doesn’t that mean you’re kinda involved as well? You don’t want Thor to be a single Dad right?’
Jane glared at her ‘Could you stop?!’
‘There’s even a family resemblance!’ Darcy pointed to the cape ‘He’s totally Thor’s son!’
‘I think in this case,’ Vision actually laughed ‘the concept of parents does not entirely apply to me. I have creators, Dr Cho, Dr Banner, Mr Stark, Thor and… Ultron,’ Vision paused and glanced to Thor, who looked sombre again ‘in Ultron’s case however, he thought of me as a successor to… his plans. He gave me a power source, Helen Cho gave me a body, Stark and Banner gave me JARVIS... a mind… or a soul if you will… but Thor?’
Vision patted Thor on the shoulder ‘He deemed me worthy, though I doubt he intended to.’
‘I did not,’ Thor chuckled ‘and I always thought that if anyone else were to wield Mjolnir I would get-’
‘Hammer envy- OW!’ Darcy rubbed her foot and pulled a face at Jane.
‘Quite,’ Thor conceded, indulgently ‘but I am happy for Vision to use it, should he need it.’
‘But Mjolnir is still yours,’ Vision assured him ‘I would not lay claim to it for myself.’
‘Damn right,’ Thor muttered into his coffee. That made everyone smile.
‘So what about gender pronouns?’ Darcy asked ‘I assume you go by male ones?’
‘Really?!’ Jane snapped.
‘Gender is somewhat irrelevant to those such as myself, but I appreciate your desire to take my feelings into consideration; you may use male pronouns if you wish.’
‘Cool, so,’ she was on a roll ‘how come Ultron picked those colours? I mean, how can he not know the difference between saving the world and killing everyone, but can make maroon, green and gold not clash- OW! JANE SERIOUSLY!’
Jane had been kicking her again, but Thor squeezed her hand a little and gave her a reassuring look, so Jane relented.
‘I cannot say, I did not chose these colours, I think they were simply a result of the chemical reactions inside the cradle where I was created.’
‘So Dr Cho made it work? That makes sense.’
‘I give up,’ Jane declared. Vision seemed amiable enough and Darcy meant nothing by the questions. If he was alright with it, then she would be to.
Besides, there was a slightly more pressing issue at hand.
‘I wish to speak to Jane, alone, if I may?’ Thor looked to Darcy and Vision.
‘I’ll go take him for a walk in the back garden,’ Darcy stood up ‘you can protect me from the wildlife, there’s a shit ton of things in our yard that can kill me. Typical Australia.’
‘Lead the way Miss Lewis,’ he went with her.
‘Oh you can call me Darcy,’ she trilled over to Jane and Thor ‘I’ll bring him back in one piece, don’t you worry Pops!’
‘Oh for the love of...’ Jane sighed, watching them head out onto the veranda, catching the tale end of their conversation.
‘So, do you have a… girlfriend? Boyfriend?’
‘Well, actually, I have… someone…. It's early days yet, but I am hopeful-’
The conversation faded out and Thor got up to walk round to her, lifting her to her feet for a kiss. When they broke apart, she buried her face in his shirt as he breathed ‘I missed you. I’m so glad you’re safe.’
‘Same,’ she huffed out a breath ‘I couldn’t watch half the stuff on TV, just… I know I shouldn’t worry, but...’
‘But you do,’ he lifted her chin ‘and it warms me to know someone is thinking of me.’
‘I think everyone does to be fair,’ Jane rested her arms on his shoulders ‘according to Helen Cho, you’re apparently the sexiest Avenger?’
‘So I hear,’ Thor shrugged ‘but ‘tis yet another honourable burden I carry-’
She laughed and tugged at a braid ‘There’s my Thor, I was beginning to worry something was wrong.’
‘Indeed, I am yours,’ he leaned in for another kiss ‘but… there is also something wrong. I did not tell you everything… Vision knows, but I do not want Darcy to worry.’
‘What is it?’
‘The Witch showed me… oh Jane… it was as if I had fallen into a nightmare... Into Hel itself...’
They sat in the living room as he told her the rest- Selvig, the Sight Waters, the vision of the Infinity Stones shown to him by the Norns and only hints of the unseen hand that sought them, playing the Avengers like chess pieces.
‘I wish Erik would tell me these things,’ she rolled her eyes ‘I’m thirty-three and he still thinks I’m a child! I could've helped, I could have-’
‘I told him not to tell you,’ Thor confessed.
‘Because… I...’ he shook his head ‘you worry for me, but I worry for you to. I could not bare for you to get involved. I wanted to keep you safe.’
‘You have met me right?’ Jane raised an eyebrow ‘Seriously, this is getting real old-’
‘I have to go back to Asgard.’
TO BE CONTINUED.
Jane and Thor compromise, Vision and Darcy bond over his stickler step mom.
Edit- I realised I messed the time line of the last scene of AoU- at least a month or two would have had to have passed for the facility to get up and running as well as Laura having her bouncing baby traitor. So Thor's time can be spent on earth a little while longer.
Thor watched her try to take this new information in, whilst he waited and held her close as the long pause in their conversation opened like a chasm.
‘For how long?’ She managed, eventually.
‘I… do not know.’
‘And I can’t come because...’
‘Something is wrong there, I cannot exactly say what… something lurks at its heart.’
Jane shut her eyes ‘Thor-’
‘Please,’ he looked at her with such pleading, such love and concern it made her heart crack ‘when I took you there last, I thought it was to help you… I merely made things worse- for you, for Asgard…’
‘Oh Thor,’ she took his hands ‘none of that was you fault, how were you meant to know? Even your father didn’t know!’
‘He knew something,’ Thor muttered darkly ‘you said so yourself.’
‘True,’ she conceded ‘but my point remains; you can’t always predict the outcomes of your decisions, especially ones made to protect your loved ones.’
Okay, she thought, maybe she wouldn’t punch Stark in the balls. Maybe just kick a shin.
‘I thank you Jane,’ he pressed his lips to her hair ‘you know the right things to say.’
‘Well, that’s a first,’ she looked at him ‘if you say the Aether thing wasn’t my fault, then it definitely isn’t yours.’
‘It is… who ever wants these stones,’ Thor agreed ‘I must find out who, for this, I shall go back, once I have made certain arrangements here and tied up any lose ends- but, Jane, know this-’
He held her cheek, but she interrupted him ‘Let me guess, ‘I shall return for you’? Seriously?’
He smiled helplessly ‘I will not take so long this time.’
‘You’d better not,’ she scolded, but relented ‘look, I get it, I understand, duty before your heart etcetera and I will accept without protest… on three conditions.’
She held up three fingers ‘One, I want a few more... nights with you before you go- don’t look so smug buddy- two, if I am awarded a Nobel-’
‘If, Thor, if, it’s not a done thing, but if it is; I want you to be there for the acceptance.’
‘I cannot promise anything, but I will try my love. I would be honoured to share in your achievement.’
‘And three,’ she looked him straight in the eye ‘if you are not back in four months, I’m going to come looking for you.’
He hesitated ‘How?’
‘You’ll see,’ Jane promised ‘or you won’t if you come back and take me to Asgard instead.’
‘Then,’ Thor sighed ‘I agree, but I shall be back before then. I am not leaving for Asgard immediately... I shall tarry awhile and ensure I will not leave you wanting. Deal?’
‘So,’ Darcy rocked on her heels ‘do you think they’re done making out yet?’
‘They have been separated for some time, so probably not, if I am to correctly ascertain the meaning of ‘making out’.’
‘God you’re so awesome,’ she squeaked ‘I am really sorry for freaking out by the way.’
‘That’s quite alright, you were not expecting me. It is an understandable reaction.’
Darcy sighed in relief.
‘I do have to ask you something- else, but I promise this is the last one… okay, I can’t promise you, but I’ll try and make it the last one.’
‘I do not mind your questions Darcy,’ Vision assured her ‘I learn just as much in your questions and you do in my answers.’
‘If Thor’s leaving again, which is totally what he’s doing because I have seen this routine like a million times now, are you going to help me look out for Jane?’
Vision considered this ‘I have been sworn in as an Avenger,’ he mused ‘but Thor has entrusted me with her safety and, by extension, yours. If you need me, you only need call through the classified line, which Dr Foster has I believe.’
‘She does,’ Darcy nodded ‘and thank you for looking out for your step-mom, as her babysitter slash assistant, I greatly appreciate it.’
‘It is no problem.’
‘Okay, I have one more request and you are going to have to play along with me here...’
‘I wanted to show you Atacama,’ Jane sighed, putting more equipment ready by the front door ‘but I am not going to pass up the chance to see Orion upside down, plus the sky in the Outback is… well, you’ll see it.’
‘I shall,’ Thor agreed ‘but I can think of something more beautiful.’
‘Oh god,’ she rolled her eyes ‘as nice as that sentiment is, the night sky does not compare to anything. Period. You know how I feel about this.’
‘That is your opinion,’ Thor shrugged, crossing to her and drawing her up in his arms.
‘Ego aside, I’m now one the world’s leading astronomers, my opinion on this is pretty freakin’ important.’
‘If you say so.’
‘Why do I love you again?’
‘Because you have impeccable taste?’
‘That’s your opinion.’
‘Hey!’ Darcy called from the porch ‘You done sucking face?’
‘Yes,’ Jane sighed, signalling to be put down again ‘come in.’
‘Where’re you heading off to?’ Darcy glanced at the heavy boxes and gear.
‘I’m taking our jeep to the Outback to… be with Thor, just for tonight,’ Jane protested at Darcy’s expression ‘and I’ll be back in about three days.’
‘So I have to babysit your step-son whilst you go play hide the zucchini? Seriously? You’re a terrible step mom.’
‘First off, ew, second off, he’s not my step son you weirdo.’
‘Well,’ Darcy shrugged ‘Vision and I are going to go flying, he got that from his Dad.’
‘You can fly as well?’ It was Jane’s turn gawped at him.
‘Indeed,’ Vision levitated off the ground to demonstrate ‘although I think that was present in my design before Thor came along.’
‘You just got the cape and the worthiness,’ Darcy shrugged ‘still cool.’
‘Are you sure that’s safe?’
‘Just as safe as when you and Thor go flying.’
‘Chill out,’ Darcy stuck out her chin ‘mom.’
‘I am not- oh, whatever,’ she addressed Vision ‘just be careful with her okay? I want her back in one piece and not a smear on the sidewalk.’
‘Who do you think you are? You cannot tell me what to do,’ Vision’s face fell into a stony frown as drew closer to Jane ‘you are not my real mom.’
There was an uncomfortable pause before Darcy, Thor and Vision cracked into fits of laughter.
‘Oh my god, did you see her face?! I told you she’d freak out!’ Darcy could barely breathe.
‘That’s not funny!’ Jane shouted indignantly ‘God Darcy! I nearly had a heart attack!’
‘We totally got her!’ Darcy held up a fist to the android ‘Bro-fist?’
‘Bro-fist, indeed,’ Vision returned the gesture with the greatest care, otherwise he probably would’ve broken her hand.
‘And as for you,’ Jane turned on Thor ‘you’re so going to pay for laughing.’
‘I hope so my love,’ Thor rumbled.
‘Please leave before I get traumatised for life,’ Darcy wailed in mock indignation ‘won’t someone think of the children?!’
‘You’re such a bitch Lewis,’ Jane managed a smile ‘what would I do without you?’
‘Probably starve to death,’ she said, as they drew into a hug ‘and I’m the bitch Foster, don’t you ever forget it.’
‘Wouldn’t dream of it.’
As Jane and Thor drove away in the jeep, Darcy turned back to the android, with a thoughtful expression.
‘So,’ she began ‘wanna make long distance phone calls, watch Starcrash and order take out?’
‘Yes,’ Vision said ‘but we will need to clear up before my step-mother gets back. She can be a real stickler.’
‘God I love you,’ Darcy hugged him ‘you’re definitely my new best friend.’