Continuing Tales

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 20 of 27

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"Hope fades

Into the world of night

Through shadows falling

Out of memory and time

Don't say

We have come now to the end

White shores are calling

You and I will meet again

And you'll be here in my arms

Just sleeping…

What can you see

On the horizon?

Why do the white gulls call?

Across the sea

A pale moon rises

The ships have come to carry you home…

And all will turn

To silver glass

A light on the water

Grey ships pass

Into the West…"

-Into the West, Return of the King

Tearing rushing whirled around and through them as they blasted through the narrow tunnel Loki forged as they flew. Crushing pressure threatened to crack his armor and his defenses—he tightened his grip on Jane and held his flapping cloak firmly around her, pressing his chin down on the top of her head. He pulled her slender body against his, both arms surrounding her, while white flames and wind raged all around them.

His bones shuddered and he screwed his eyes shut as his speed and force tried to tear him in half. But he clamped down on his course, refusing to waver as he carried her through a new tunnel in the universe—a secret passage outside the well-known gates—a tunnel whose fabric could shred them in an instant if he made a single misstep.

He could not breathe. He could not see. The damage that Doom had reopened in his side promised to break him, and heat and weight rattled all around him.

And then…

A light.

He raised his head and opened his eyes, staring straight upward.

There. The glimmer of a thousand colors. And the piercing rays of a rising sun.

With a clap of thunder, he broke loose of the binding passageway. He gasped, his control slipped, and he crashed to his knees—

On the jagged edge of the Asbru bridge.

He opened his eyes, his breath shuddering in his chest. He stared down at the ground.

Countless bright colors shimmered and winked at him, glittering in the bright morning. He slowly lifted his face.

Sunlight dazzled his eyes—and flashed off the helmets and armor of the giant guardian statues that flanked the endlessly-stretching bridge. Light glittered off the rippling water of the thousands of fountains that poured from the foundations of the realm and spilled down into the lush green forests below—he could hear the falls softly singing. Warm wind brushed his face. The scent of laurel and lilac and rain filled his lungs, as did the smell of the sea.

The plaintive cry of gulls hit his chest, and three white birds darted over his head and swooped down over the frothing, sapphire water to his left, then climbed through the sky, drawing Loki's gaze up, up, up…

To the flashing of the distant bronze and silver towers of the palace. Towers that stood higher than any mountain, like vast, elegant flutes reaching to the heavens. And above them, the sky opened, and the galaxies spread in a tapestry of velvet black, soft gold, cutting silver and sparkling purple.

A dart of pain went straight through his chest.

He gulped, and his gaze fell upon Jane's face.

She was white. Her long-lashed eyes stayed closed, motionless. Her soft body lay limp. Loki pressed a bloody hand to her throat.

He felt a single fluttering beat.

He clumsily wrapped his weakened arms around her again, and hauled himself to his feet, cradling her. He staggered forward, forcing himself to take long strides as his boots rang against the crystal surface of the bridge. His whole being felt cold. Where was Heimdall?

He passed the sentinel statues, gathering what strength he had left, then began to summon magic. He threw it out in front of him like a carpet and leaped up on it—it carried him like a bird for thousands of feet. He landed lightly, took three running steps, then did it again. He soared over stone bridges, thudded across meadows, and splashed through an icy stream, until he came to a single thick gray wall that stood in the shadows of the mighty trees. He paused, glancing up. He could see the railing several stories above him. He gritted his teeth, bent his knees and jumped.

He shot upward, pulling Jane tight, then stepped over the railing and landed hard on a white marble balcony.

Before him stood several wide pillars hung with sheer white curtains—and beyond them waited a vast, cream-colored, sun-bathed circular chamber filled with a ring of broad beds swathed in soft sheets. He strode forward. The curtains blew aside to let him through. He stopped in the center of the stone floor.

A dozen women clad in flowing white, their hair up in elegant braids, halted. Some were in the midst of making beds, others carrying bowls of water or bottles of salve. They all froze and stared at him. None of them made a sound. Their wide, lovely eyes stared. Only the small stone fountain in the middle of the room—a figure of a boy pouring a pitcher out—made a soft ringing.

A woman with tumbling, curling red hair, about Frigg's age, with her arms full of pillows, very slowly set them down on the foot of a bed. Her brown eyes earnestly searched Loki's—he remembered her beautiful face from his earliest memories. She had tended some of his clumsiest injuries as a boy, and her lessons filled the storehouses of his memory…

"Loki?" she whispered. Loki staggered, and fought to stay standing.

"Eir," he rasped. "She needs you. She is from Midgard, but I beg you, tend to her—please, I cannot…I tried, but I cannot…"

Eir's bright eyes flashed across Jane, who he cradled in his bloody arms. Then, she met Loki's gaze, a fervent light entering her eyes.

"Of course, dear!" She swept toward him. The other ladies hesitated.

"Move!" Eir commanded, taking hold of Jane's arm. The other ladies broke out of their trances and rushed toward them. Eir began shouting orders and the women darted about in an organized flurry, calling out for sheets and bandages—they pulled Loki toward the closest bed and made him lay Jane down. Then, they shuffled him out of the way and crowded around her, sweeping their hands over her, feeling her throat and wrists and face. Loki stepped to the side, absently holding his blood-covered hands out in front of him. They stripped off Jane's coat in an eyeblink, then rolled up her shirt to expose the wounds. Loki jerked his head away, his eyes stinging.

"She lives!" cried a young healer. "But her heart is weak—she has minutes!"

Loki's eyes flew open and he took three steps back.

"Eir!" he cried, unable to see through his tears.

"Let me see, dears," Eir slipped between the ladies, sat on the edge of the bed and bent over Jane. She pressed her long, delicate right hand unflinchingly down over the wounds and closed her eyes. The other women watched her and studied Jane, their faces serious and intent. Loki felt magic begin to hum between Eir's fingers.

"What is her name?" Eir murmured, her brow furrowed.

Loki drew in a rough breath.

"Jane," he whispered, seeing nothing but Jane's pale, lovely face. Eir lifted her fiery head and stroked Jane's forehead with her left hand.

"Dearest Jane," she said soothingly. "Sweet Jane…You are loved and waited for." Eir smiled and caressed her hair. "Do not leave yet. Sweet Jane. Come on, dear heart. You can hear me. I know you can."

The healers all held their breath. Loki's breathing came short and painfully.

The smile faded from Eir's face. She shook her head.

"She should be dead. I believe it is the talisman that is keeping her heart beating. Well done, Loki." Eir gestured to the flickering Lokistone. "But its power is almost exhausted. I myself can sustain her for a while, but I cannot heal her. Not quickly enough. She needs someone more powerful." Eir looked at Loki, and then said what he had feared—but had known—she would say all along. "She needs the All-Father."

Loki's hands closed to fists and drew himself up—though the pain in his side knifed him.

"I will go," he said. "I will go to him, and bring him here." He reached up and pulled off his helmet. Then, he stepped around and set it on the small bedside table beside Jane. He let go—he left bloody fingerprints on the helmet's horns. He gave Eir a severe look. "Keep her alive until I return."

None of the healers answered. Loki turned, strode through the chamber and out into the corridor, and made straight for the throne room.


Loki's heart hammered—he felt sick and light-headed. He swallowed, and swallowed again. His mouth was dry. He fixed his gaze on the floor just in front of him. He made himself walk fast, weaving through the corridors on the quickest route, praying he would not meet anyone on the way.

His lips moved minutely as he muttered, rehearsing exactly what he would say over and over. His sticky fingers flexed, his steps hitched—he kept walking, faster, faster. He turned the last corner.

He ascended wide steps. His footsteps tapped on gray stone. He passed between two giant pillars hung with scarlet banners. Then, sunlight flooded his vision.

He slowed, descending two steps before stopping. He blinked, clearing his dazzled eyes.

And there in front of him stretched the vast throne room, the golden light of the dawn streaming through it. The long red carpet extended like a road before him across the bronze floor—and at the end of it rose the majestic staircase, and the arms of the golden throne, spread as if to embrace the whole room. Loki's footsteps faltered, his eyes searching the reaches of the chamber. He had to keep going…

He finished descending the steps, and his feet landed on the velvet of the carpet.

Movement caught his eye. He stopped.

At the far end of the towering room, a man hurried in from a side door—as if he had seen Loki coming from a long way off and had rushed to find him.

Loki's heart wavered.

It was Odin.

Odin, dressed in his night clothes and a draping purple coat. His long white hair looked windblown. He wore no adornments, and no shoes.

He slowed down. He saw Loki. Loki's whole body shuddered.

And then—

Odin began to run.

He raced toward Loki, crossing the vast distance in a matter of moments, panting, his brow twisted. Loki's composure shattered. He tried to look elsewhere—at the ground, the walls, the pillars—he glanced at Odin only to flinch away. He longed to flee, but he stayed rooted to the spot.

And then the king stood in front of him. He halted, breathing hard. His gaze fell upon Loki, and Loki could not meet it. Every single word he had rehearsed fell to pieces and scattered.

Long silence suspended between them. Finally, Loki made himself speak, though each word hurt.

"I…I know—I know I shouldn't be here," Loki stammered. "I know it, and I…I swear I will leave in an instant—but there is a mortal here. I brought…She is wounded." He swallowed hard, fighting to steady his voice. "She is…She is dying," Loki fixed on the ground as his hands fervently worked trying to get the blood off his fingers. "I have no right to ask you anything—and I don't, not for myself—but I…I beg you to help her. I brought…I brought this—" Loki battled to focus, snatching at the remnants of his plan. He rubbed his quivering hands together and let magic flash between them. He shied away from the brilliant blue glow, refusing to look at it—and let the tesseract float above his fingers.

"I've…I've recovered it from Midgard," he tried. "It's extremely powerful—one of the most powerful weapons in the universe. Please…Please take it, in exchange for her life."

He dared to lift his eyes, just for an instant.

Odin gazed at the vibrant glow of the tesseract, his chiseled brow furrowed. Slowly, he lifted his hands and pressed his fingers to the sides of the Cube.

He pulled it out of Loki's control. Loki, fighting for breath, stared at him. Odin held the tesseract lightly for another moment—

He let it drop from his hands. It hit the floor.

And then Odin threw his arms around Loki.

Loki's heartbeat raged and split—a stunned sob escaped him. Odin pressed his hand to Loki's hair and took a hard fistful of his cape.

"Oh, my boy. My sweet boy," Odin wept. He withdrew and took Loki's head in his weathered hands, then pressed a kiss to his pale brow.

Tears spilled down Loki's face, and his whole chest choked violently. He squeezed his eyes shut and bowed his head, shame drowning him. But Odin held him firm and again pressed his lips to the top of Loki's head.

"Oh, Loki! Of course I will help her!" Odin cried roughly, shaking him. "If you will first forgive me for not making certain that you knew…" He grasped Loki's neck. "That you knew…how dearly I love you."

Loki's tears suffocated him. He tried to shake his head.

"I've…I've done nothing to deserve that from you," he gasped.

"Oh, my son," Odin wiped away Loki's tears with his thumbs. "You do not have to do anything!"

Loki broke down. He collapsed into his father's embrace—and his armor unconjured, rattling as it disappeared—until he could feel his father's warmth and his heartbeat against his own. He wrapped his arms around his father's chest as hard as Odin embraced Loki's neck, and Loki clung to him for a long time, his eyes closed, his tears streaming.

Finally, Odin pulled back and wiped more of Loki's tears away. And Loki let himself lift his eyes and look into his father's deep, blue gaze.

Odin smiled at him, deepening all the wrinkles around his eyes and warming his entire countenance. Loki's heart swelled, he let out a watery laugh and pressed his hand to his own face, dashing away the tears. Odin slapped Loki's shoulder.

"Come. There's no time to be wasted," Odin turned him and ushered him toward the door. "Let's go tend to your lady."


Thor raced through the hallways, lit by young morning light, pulling a clean tunic on as he went. He had barely paused long enough to throw on day trousers and boots before he flew out of his room. His side still hurt, but the pain was fading.

That was how he had known.

He had known it before the messenger had finished his sentence—had realized what had happened before the poor boy had a chance to speak.

Loki was back in Asgard.

And he had brought Jane.

Thor swung around a corner, pushing off a pillar to stay on course—

And collided with Sif. She wore her dark brown training clothes and her hair was bound up—she had just come in from her morning exercises. Thor grabbed her shoulders and she grabbed him to keep from falling.

"Thor! What—What's wrong?" she gasped.

"I have to go to the healing rooms," he said in a rush, stepping around her. "Loki is back, and he has brought Jane—she is wounded."

Thor glimpsed Sif's stunned expression for just a second before he broke into a run again, leaving her behind.

In minutes, he came racing down the wide, white corridor, and made himself slow down and stop in front of the decorative golden doors.

He pulled in three deep breaths, then put out his hand and worked the brass handle. The door swung silently open, and he stepped inside.

A warm, soothing breeze greeted him, carrying the scent of rose water. He halted by a pillar in the shadows and cast his gaze around the circular room.

All of the beds stood in perfect order, white and pristine and empty. Except the far bed.

The eleven healing women, like ministering angels, all stood silently at the foot of it, their graceful hands clasped in front of them. The fiery-headed Eir, the master healer, watched from the other side of the bed.

All this, Thor took in peripherally—for his eyes fastened first on the woman in the bed. The woman lying there peacefully, as if asleep: Jane Foster.

Thor's eyes traced Jane's breathtakingly beautiful, pale, still face—her long eyelashes, soft features, graceful nose and mouth. She was kept decent by soft white blankets, but her arms and shoulders were bare, and her belly was exposed. Her belly, which gleamed with blood.

Odin sat on the mattress near Jane's right hand, still wearing his flowing night clothes. His rugged hand rested on her abdomen, in the midst of her wounds, his eye was closed, and his white head interrupted the sunlight that streamed in, giving him a shimmering halo.

Thor could not move or swallow or even blink. It was not until his father moved—glanced up and past Eir—that Thor realized there was one more person in the room.

A tall, lean form waited in the shadows exactly opposite Thor, stood near a pillar. His face looked white, dotted with bruises; his black hair was mussed, his emerald eyes stark—and his dark clothes and pale hands were covered in blood.

It was Loki.

And he was looking down at Jane. Looking at her with an unwavering, bright, intense gaze, deep lines of tension between his raven eyebrows.

He was looking at her in a way Thor had never seen before. As if he…

Odin reached out his left hand, palm up. One of the healers stepped up and handed him a clean, wet rag. Odin moved his right hand and began wiping away the blood from Jane's skin…

To reveal a smooth, uninjured surface beneath.

And just then, Jane took a deep, steady breath, and sighed.

Loki let out a breath. It rattled—Thor could hear it.

And then…

Loki saw him. He blinked. Thor stood up straight.

Neither of them moved.

Then, Loki swallowed, inclined his head to him—and stepped back. As if giving way to him. As if he had merely been standing in Thor's stead until he returned.

Loki turned, clasped his hands together for a moment, then ducked his head and strode silently out. No one watched him leave but Thor. A door shut behind him.

Thor's knees went weak, and he leaned against a pillar. He tried, but he found himself suddenly unable to think of anything to say, or find the strength to draw any nearer to the bed.

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 20 of 27

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