Ian’s pretty based out of Long Beach these days. Approximately ten of his friends are also based in Long Beach. Thankfully it’s not the early nineties. Ian doesn’t need to write letters and keep a stamp book to stay in contact, he’s got Twitter and Facebook and texting.
Texting is probably the best way out of the three to keep in contact, really. His friends can be hilariously offensive sometimes. Ian picks his friends through sense of humour. Sarcastic, raunchy, hell, even puns. As long as they’ve made him laugh, they’re a friend. He’s got a pretty loose definition of the word. It just happens that some of the things he finds funny a few over-sensitive fans wouldn’t. Brendon’s gotten shit for it more than once. Ian’s smart enough to keep the remarks on his phone.
When Darcy sends him a few texts about catching up on his Norse mythology for the good of the world he figures she’s just making a joke about their past. When they were teenagers they had half a dozen jokes based on K.A. Applegate’s Everworld series, from calling the bitchy cheerleaders Sennas to signing emails with Love From Ka-Anor. Nearly all their jokes were based on shared reading; their bus didn’t come until four so they spent the time jammed into the same ratty armchair in the library, reading the same book.
Except a while later insanely crazy bullshit happens in New York, and one of the superheroes -goddamn superheros, what the fuck- is the Norse god of thunder and lightning. The second Spencer texts him and tells him to turn on CNN Ian knows. Fucking hell.
u bitch. u totally know him
b nice or u dont meet him
Ian would like to say he holds his indignation, but it’s a lie. He folds immediately. Apart from Obama, Gerard Way, and any member of the Blues Brothers, he can’t think of anyone he wants to meet more than a member of fucking mythology come to life.
Lucky for him, he and Dallon are on a bit of a break while Brendon and Spencer figure out what they want for the fourth album. They’ll have input later, but after Brent, and Jon, and most of all Ryan, Brendon and Spencer are sensitive about having control. Most days it doesn’t bother him, he can get his creative control out in other ways. Today being a second string decision maker pleases him intensely. He has the time to fuck off to New Mexico and see Darcy without messing up the plans of any of his other friends.
He could fly. It would probably take longer to board than it would to be in the air though, it’s only two states away. In the end Ian just wakes up at asscrack-o-clock and starts driving down the I-10. About eleven hours later, passenger seat covered in crumpled gum wrappers and an assortment of fast food containers he texts Darcy. just passed Now Entering New Mexico. Where exactly do you live?
Ian snorts. Her caps don’t fool him for a second. She knew this was coming from the minute she texted him almost a year ago.
That’s more like it. Now he just needs to figure out where the fuck that is.
A few instructions later Ian parks, texts I’m here and waits. If he sees her exit he can figure out where he’s supposed to enter. All he can see is glass, no door in sight.
Darcy barrels out and he climbs out of the seat in just enough time to be pinned to the door when she hugs him. After they separate she comments, “you changed your hair!”
He tugs a lock, automatically self-conscious before he paves over the feeling. It’s Darcy, for fucksakes. She has opinions on everything and never means anything by them. He drops his hand and shrugs. “It’s been like this for a while. For a bunch of concerts.”
“Don’t get delusional. Panic is not the kind of band I have on text alert.” She grins and Ian manages a smile back. There are differences between accepting, supportive, and fawning, and Ian’s fine with having friends that fall between the first two points on the spectrum. She gestures to the bag in the backseat. “You’re staying, right? Not getting a stupid-ass hotel room?”
“The band you don’t follow has given me enough hotel rooms for a lifetime, with more to come, so no.” It’s not that he doesn’t like hotels. It’s hard to not appreciate leg room and showers when some of his earlier bands were six in a van and shaking out cramps pulled over on the interstate. Just, why pay for a room and be alone when the whole point is to see Darcy again?
Well, half the whole point. He does really want to meet Thor.
“Guest it is. Follow me.” Ian’s not entirely sure what the building Darcy leads him inside used to be. It’s obvious it’s been repurposed to house the things a physicist likes and needs. “If you’d come like two weeks ago you probably wouldn’t have been cleared. But S.H.I.E.L.D’s busy cleaning up for good PR, so.” She shrugs.
Ian thinks the public outrage is stupid as hell. Ironman and Captain America and Thor and the three they haven’t named yet, they saved everyone from flying metal worms, and aliens capable of climbing skyscrapers, and massive black holes. They don’t owe the public shit. Anyone that says anything else just wants something to complain about. Some people -Republicans, mostly- seem to live for complaining. Ian’s not sure who Shield is, if it’s the name of the group or the inevitable government group aiding the six superheroes, but cleaning toppled over buildings shouldn’t be their problem. No one asks firefighters to remove all the charred drywall and heaps of ash the next day, why should superheroes do it?
The makeshift living quarters Darcy takes him to have a sole occupant; a beautiful woman. Ian might not be physically attracted to her, but he’s not aesthetically blind, he knows what hot looks like. “Hi. I’m Ian.”
“You remember me telling you about Jane, right?”
Ian nods mutely, meet and greet smile on his face. What he actually remembers is Darcy calling her a dictator, but saying that will only make it uncomfortable for all of them. Besides, Darcy’s a heat of the moment kind of girl. Jane’s probably not that bad.
“I thought you had more working partners?”
“Well, Erik is taking some time to decompress. Loki kind of gave him a major headfuck. And Jane’s boytoy is is Asgard right now, doing god knows what. Hey, is that irony, if Thor is actually a god? Or is that just Alanis Morissette irony, stuff that sounds ironic but actually isn’t?”
Ian would like to reply that he was last in an English class the same year Darcy was, but his brain is hanging on the middle of that sentence. “You’re dating Thor?”
Jane blushes and Darcy rolls her eyes. “It’s not like she’s a fangirl, unlike some boys I could name. She was into him right from when we accidentally ran into him.”
“You were driving.”
“Yeah, and you grabbed the steering wheel, so, like, legally totally your fault.”
Ian looks from one woman to the other. “Oh my god. You need to tell me about this right now. Unless it’s classified, I guess.”
Jane scowls. “Me and classified don’t get along too well.”
“They never did give me my iPod back.”
“It’s been a year and you still haven’t shut up about your iPod.”
Sensing a routine argument, Ian heads outside to actually get his stuff. He’s got no commitments for the next while. If Thor’s not currently here, he might as well just stay catching up with Darcy until the man comes back.
It takes him three days. Ian’s learned a lot about the situation in seventy two hours. Not just from what Jane and Darcy know, which honestly isn’t a heck of a lot. S.H.I.E.L.D has found a scapegoat to do all the press conferences, answer the questions of the public, whether angry or confused. The three unknown heroes are named, at least in code. There’s an official death toll, lower than you’d think considering the amount of damage done to the buildings. A cop on the scene got a short interview on CNN explaining that Captain America told them to set up a perimeter and get the people out through the subways.
His homecoming starts with a brutal storm kicking up. It goes from clear skies outside the wall of windows to near pitch black in seconds. Ian doesn’t think much of it. He’s travelled enough that no weather system seems unusual to him. Jane on the other hand sits up like a pet that hears the car door slam. Darcy notices her alertness and puts a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t get your hopes up.”
Darcy says it like she’s said it more times than she can count. Jane must hear the same exhaustion that Ian does, she opens her mouth to reply, then closes it. With deliberate nonchalance Jane turns the volume up a few notches to cover the sound of the wind.
And then a minute later there’s a knock, and all three of them twist to see Thor’s bulky fist against the glass. Ian startles, but he’s the only one. Jane leaps off the couch and crosses the room with speed that’s nearly superheroic. Darcy stands not much slower and grabs Ian’s arm to tug him towards the door. They don’t get to say hello for about five minutes, that’s how long it takes them to stop kissing. Ian doesn’t feel like too much of a voyeur; he’s seen worse with both Cash and Brendon. The firm handshake is worth watching an hour of straight first base. Ian has no intention of poaching -to be honest, Thor isn’t even really his type- but there’s a thrill that comes with touching a superhero.
Finally they move back to the living area. The seating arrangement is obviously different. Before they all sat on the three seater, Darcy in the middle seat as the commonality between strangers. Now he and Darcy both claim the before forgotten armchairs angled towards the television, leaving the couch to Thor and Jane. They’ve been apart too long, and just like Ian wouldn’t claim the seat beside Dallon the day after a tour if Breezy was around, he won’t encroach here either. Even if all they’re doing is watching a movie, Jane and Thor should get their closeness.
Jane calls from the kitchen over the sound of popcorn, “while I’m up, anyone want a drink? Ian, we’ve got iced tea and beer and Pepsi left, I think. I need to go grocery shopping.”
Darcy grins. “She’ll even give you a refill if you promise not to throw the cup at her.”
Thor sounds distinctly put out. Maybe even pouting, although it doesn’t show up on his face. “I only did it once before you explained it was not your custom.”
“Is it a good story? Do tell.” Ian wants to hear every scrap about Thor’s life he can. If it’s eerily close to what fangirls do to him, well, it won’t be the first time he’s been semi-creepy about a celebrity.
They finish the movie with several pauses for explaining cultural jokes before fucking off. Darcy’s really unsubtle about giving Thor and Jane their space. Ian thought he was bad on the bus trying to give the boys their private phone time, but Darcy’s much worse. The only way she could be more obvious is if she started whistling.
Once he’s retreated to the guest room -it’s actually the master, but Jane sleeps on the roof- he logs on to his laptop and pulls up some of his more frequented websites. Ian never bothers to backread either his official Twitter account or his sockpuppet. He’s got over a hundred people followed on both, and everyone always has a lot to say. Eschewing TheIanCrawford for a second he signs in on his sockpuppet. A lot of it he skims. Most of the fans he’s following are the fandom kind of fan, and he’s not all that interested in tweetfic. But there’s no question that fandom fans are also brilliant at collecting pictures and tweeting them at exactly the right time. He can ask that picture of them in green jerseys and he’s got a link in thirty seconds.
The first link he clicks on this session sends him to Tumblr. It’s a gif of Ray’s eyes opening comically wide. Ian knows exactly what interview it’s from, it only came out yesterday. Tumblr fen are the fastest screencappers in the land. It’s a great interview, and after watching the gif cycle a few times, Ian opens Youtube and finds it. A rewatch can’t hurt.
“You’ve been quoted as wanting to save the world. How do you feel now that there are actual superheroes saving the world?”
“Yeah, but the thing is, our kids are their own saviours, you know? The kind of situation that calls for the Avengers happens once a year. The kids save themselves every day. They’re amazing.”
“You’ve said before you’d be Mikey if you could be anyone.” The interviewer smirks like she’s the smartest person in the world to remember that, like real fans don’t have that comment burned into their memories. “If you had to be one of the Avengers, who would you be?”
“I call Hawkeye.” Frank says immediately.
“That’s fine, you can have him.”
“Whatever. He’s badass. He uses a freakin’ crossbow. From like forty stories up.”
Ray offers “yeah, but Captain America uses a shield. That’s pretty sweet. I’d be Captain America.”
“Dibs on Thor.”
“No fu- freaking way, Mikey. I’m blond too!”
“Yeah but I have longer hair.”
“So what, it’s about attitude as much as look, and I’m way-”
Ian’s watched enough interviews to know that when Mikey gets actual expressions, it’s time to turn up the volume and pay close attention, because in the next instant something good enough to be giffed will happen. Sure enough, “how about we both get a hammer and the one who can throw it in the air and catch it the most times in a minute gets to be Thor.”
“Oh my god, no. You’re not playing catch the ball peen.” Ray protests, lending the expression Ian just watched a minute ago.
“What the fuck,” Frank adds succinctly.
“That’s just sad, Ian. You’ve got MCR official on text alert, don’t you?”
Ian refuses to answer on grounds that it’ll totally incriminate him. He does however pause the interview before he turns to look at Darcy.
“Oh well. At least you’ve figured out how you’re going to get over your helpless boner and actually get in Gerard Way’s pants.”
“Um. No?” Ian doesn’t know why she’s here. Not in a bitchy ‘get out of my borrowed room’ sort of way. He really thought she’d left. Darcy spends about eighteen hours a day with Jane, from what he’s seen, but she doesn’t actually live here. Unless crashing on the couch three or four nights a week counts. She stays over enough to have a change of clothing, and her personal items are scattered everywhere, and Jane doesn’t seem to care, but the couch is very clearly occupied right now.
“Take Thor to a concert. I fucking guarantee you as soon as a tech sees him they’ll let the boys know.”
“Oh, who the fuck am I kidding. You’re one degree from him already anyway. You know Pete, and Pete fucked his little brother.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s just fanfic?”
“Have you even listened to Gay Is Not A Synonym For Shitty? or Bang The Doldrums? Or, like, any of the songs on that CD? Or the Black Cards demo? Or his failed marriage? Or-”
“Oh my god, stop.”
“I’m just saying, if you wanna find love you gotta get some balls. Look at Jane. It takes a lot to follow a man that your best friends think is insane.”
“Yeah,” he mutters.
“Anyway, just dropped in to say goodnight. Taking off now, seeing as my bed is going to have sweaty naked ass all over it in ten minutes.” Darcy bends in for a hug, which Ian gives freely. She closes the door, leaving him to think about her idea.
It’s ridiculous. It is, damn it. Ian doesn’t even know if they have concerts in Asgard, never mind what styles of music they enjoy. A Earthian concert might be torture for Thor. He’s not subjecting someone to potential horror just because a few months ago Perez Hilton smeared Gerard and Lyn-Z’s break up with Leon Woodsen all over the internet and a thousand fanboys suddenly felt like they had another chance, Ian being one of them.
When he asks the next morning it’s not with any ulterior motive, or because he thinks Darcy is right or anything. Ian’s living is based on music, it makes sense that he’d want a being from another planet’s opinion. If the song he just happens to click on at random for an example is Welcome To The Black Parade, well, that’s just what happens.
Thor listens intently. The songs finishes and Ian pauses it before the playlist can start the next track. He waits expectantly for an opinion, and instead gets “what happens to the young boy?”
“Well, the rest of the songs on the CD tell the story. It’s a concept CD.” It’s clear those two sentences went completely over Thor’s head. “Okay. Uh. You know how some drinking songs-” If Asgard is really anything like what mythology they have set up, Thor will know drinking songs- “are just ahdie ahdie ahdie, and some tell tales in stanzas? Yeah, so most songs are just individual songs, and most CDs are collections of unrelated songs. But some CDs are meant to tell a story in twelve stanzas, each stanza being a song. The Black Parade is one of those. I’ll play it, and once it’s done you tell me what you think happens to him. Uh, if you want to, that is.”
“Okay, Ian Crawford.”
The next fifty one minutes are some of the most intense in his life. Thor doesn’t even sit, just stands with his bulging arms crossed and his eyes closed. It’s not until he gets a few minutes in that Ian realises demanding Thor analyse and annotate it is sort of unfair. How is Thor supposed to know what the flatline noise in The End! is supposed to be? Or the references to heaven? Ian knows enough mythology to know that all Asgardian warriors believe they go to Valhalla. Shit, Thor probably doesn’t even know what cancer is. But none of that matters. Thor might not understand all of the layers, but he likes the music, and asks if these musicians have any other tales. Ian bites the insides of his cheeks, which isn’t nearly enough to stop his grin -fuck he loves converting people to his music- and cues his Three Cheers playlist.
In the end Darcy is completely correct. Ian’s looking for a scalper to get two tickets at outrageous prices when one of the ticket takers sees Thor from the inside the venue. He’s not exactly easy to miss. At least Ironman takes off the suit when he’s got day to day business to take care of. Thor’s apparently never going to take the cape off. The burly man hustles outside and tells them to come inside, no problem.
It says a lot about the My Chem fans that most focus on the band playing instead of accosting Thor for autographs. Ian coached Thor more than once on the meaning and mannerisms of a moshpit, and the man has apparently remembered. He lets people bash into him without getting gravely offended, he helps boost those shorter than him, ie: everyone, on to the hands of the crowd around them, and most importantly, he doesn’t mosh himself. Fragile human beings cannot handle the bouncing of a god.
After the encore lights go up and people begin to cluster. Ian can practically read their minds. The band might come out to sign things, Frank the most likely, but one sixth of The Avengers is a sure thing. Ian scans the room until he finds a member of staff security that doesn’t look particularly angry and waves him over.
“Thor really wants to see My Chem.”
It’s the first lie he’s told around Thor, and Ian half braces, waiting for lightning to strike from nothing and smote him. Either Thor Odinson doesn’t give a shit about lying, or he genuinely does want to meet the musicians telling the tale of the man who died from a wasting disease then led a parade through Death; no crackle of electricity fries him to a crisp. The security doesn’t recognise it as a lie either, and he’s in enough awe of Thor to lead them backstage to the dressing room.
Ian knocks on the door, not quite ballsy enough to barge in. Dewees’ rings out loud and clear “Who dares enter?”
Thor looks at him like he’s actually supposed to answer that rationally. So he does. “Ian Crawford? From a band of Pete’s?” If they really did date, Ian can use that connection. “And Thor Odinson? From-”
He trails off as the door opens. Dewees looks Thor up and down. “That’s a pretty good lookalike.”
“I am not what you say.”
“You’re not the first singing telegram I’ve gotten.”
Thor looks at him. Ian shrugs. He’s not about to explain the reference. After a beat of silence he continues. “I do not want to call Mjollnir. It will blast through the walls and make a mess of this grand music hall. Is there some other way the truth could be known?”
“I could text Pete?” They’re Mikey’s words, but the whole band has circled around them, examining Thor like there will be a split in the prosthetics or something.
Ian looks at Mikey disbelievingly. “Why would I have told Pete? It would be on Twitter immediately. And then S.H.I.E.L.D would arrest him or something, probably. Those guys don’t fuck around. Thor, lift the couch.”
He does, easily. Ian’s not surprised by that, or Frank’s scoffing, or Frank saying it’s just foam and fabric and trying to lift it himself. After Frank falls to the unmoved couch in wheezing defeat Thor lifts it again with the additional 140 pounds.
“So I’m just gonna...not scream like a little girl.” Mikey says it deadpan and for a second Ian thinks maybe the interview was just a gag like the dead mic thing. Then Ray’s holding out his hand to shake Thor’s, and Mikey and Gerard elbow him out of the way from two different directions to engulf the god in a hug. It takes a lot to engulf a man like Thor and the Ways aren’t exactly enormous, but the only way they could be closer is if they were crawling under his clothing.
The next few minutes are dedicated to introductions, fanboying squee barely tamped down. Ian imagines he’s witnessing the same thing that happened when Gerard met Grant Morrison for the first time. Jarrod’s got his phone out filming it all. Ian can’t help but wonder as a fan if this is going to make it onto Youtube. He can think of a few people he’s following that will explode into bloody fragments and keyboard smashing if they can gif Mikeyway getting hugged by a legit superhero.
Eventually everyone takes a step back and Thor asks something that Ian’s pretty sure has been on his mind since he showed the god his first music video. “Ray Toro, you are one of the first Midgardians with hair stylings such as an Asgardian. Do you have Nordic blood?”
“No?” Ian wouldn’t mock a man just because he had a high voice, but that was really more of a squeak than anything else.
“That is too bad. Erik Selvig is the only man I have met who knew our tales as a child.”
“If you want to tell me a good one, I’ll pass it on to Bandit.”
“Oh no way are you being the cool uncle. I’ll tell her,” Gerard replies.
“No, you be the cool uncle for Miles and Lily and Cherry, I’ll be for Bandit.”
Frank pipes up “it doesn’t have to be New York, if that shit’s classified. Tell us something you did on Asgard, with friends.”
“Sif and the Warriors Three and I have faced some incredible battles.” Thor turns to Ian. “Did Jane tell you of the Destroyer that Loki sent?”
Darcy did, actually, including the Titanic levels of epicness kiss Thor and Jane had. But if he says he’s heard it, implying he doesn’t need to hear it again, My Chemical Romance as a whole will murder him. “Not in detail.”
“I know it’s not a hotel night, but we have a bit, right?”
“We’ll make time.” There’s a reason Gerard’s the frontman. He sounds so firm in his opinion that no one from manager to bus driver to head of Warner would be able to get him -and by extension, them- out onto the bus driving to the next venue.
The best place for storytime is across the room, gathered on the provided seating, rider of snacks on the side table. With Thor dominating one couch and no one willing to elevate himself to the next cushion, the best friend position, they all pile on the other. Mikey is perched on Ray’s knee, James beside him, Gerard on the left and Jarrod half on the armchair. Ian sits on the floor, Frank splaying beside him. From the wealth of stage pictures Ian’s seen, he’d be willing to bet Frank feels more comfortable on the floor over furniture, less constrained. Ian, on the other hand, is locked into place, and thrilled about it. If he doesn’t shift Gerard’s legs are on either side of his shoulders. He knows it’s creepy how much he likes it, but he’ll at least not be awkward about it. He might have an inappropriate crush, but he’d never do something like lick Gerard’s face. Nestling against his calf is enough for Ian.
Besides, if he moves he might break Thor’s concentration. Ian would regret that. Not only because Mikey would probably punch him in the face, although he’s sure that would be in the cards. The truth is Thor’s just got an amazing narrating voice. Ian makes a mental note to mention audiobooks at a later time, and settles in to listen.