Continuing Tales

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 25 of 27

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"For all the times I tried for this
And every chance at you I missed
I've been known to go my way
But I confess it made me miss you more

I drew my line across the sand
And set my flag in no-man's-land
But here I am, the one man band
With a 
song that's meant for two

And there is a light from a higher window
Shining down on you tonight

And the music floats on the breeze
Bringing an easier time
And all of our cards are on the table
Tell me what you want to do
Just don't tell me that it's too late
For me to love you."

-Higher Window

Jane sat on the edge of her bed, gazing out the open balcony at the clear blue sky. The cool morning air drifted in, and she could hear the larks chirping in the gardens.

She had not slept all night. She had lain in bed sobbing for several hours, and after she had run out of tears, she had turned restlessly back and forth, flinging the covers off only to pull them back over herself—and once or twice she had gotten up and paced back and forth, trying to exert some energy so as to make herself tired. Her midsection had panged all the while.

At the break of day, she had gotten up, washed, put on a long green dress with a sash, brushed out her hair, made her bed, and sat down and waited for Thor. She knew it would be a long wait—he'd said he would come at midmorning—but she couldn't face anyone else before she'd seen him, and she had no appetite and no desire to go out on the grounds or lose herself in the halls. She glanced over her shoulder at the stained helmet, and the cistus that lay beside it. The petals remained just as beautiful as before.

Knock, knock.

She jumped. Her heart leaped into her throat. She stood up, and, her body shaking, hurried to her door and opened it—

Thor stood outside, smiling at her.

But he wore the same maroon clothes he had for dinner the night before.

And though he looked as if he had cleaned up, he was tired.

She frowned at him.

"Thor? What…What are you doing here?" she glanced past him. "I thought you weren't coming until the middle of the morning."

"Please forgive me," he said. "I couldn't wait any longer."

Jane went cold.

"May I come in?" Thor asked, stepping toward her. Helpless, Jane nodded, then drew back and opened the door further to let in his towering form. He strode past her, then turned and faced her.

"Do you mind if we…If we go out there to talk?" Thor asked, pointing to the balcony. "I believe I need a bit of fresh air."

Clasping her hands in front of her, her stomach flipping, Jane nodded, and followed him as they trailed out onto the balcony, into the cool breeze and sunshine. He stepped up to the railing and braced both hands against it, taking a deep breath. Jane came up beside him, watching him, her brow tight. He took another breath.

"Thor—" Jane stopped him, though her chest tightened. "There's something I have to—"

"Jane," Thor cut in, turning to her. "Jane, I came here to tell you something very important. And before you say anything, I want you to listen to me."

She halted, swallowed, then nodded. His blue eyes captured hers, but just for an instant—because he turned and looked out over the gardens.

"When I fell to Midgard, during my banishment," he began. "And I met you—I was never more enchanted with anyone in my life. I was enthralled by your beauty and your sweetness and brilliance, and I could not help myself but want to be near you."

"Thor—" Jane said again.

"No," he met her eyes and held up a hand. "Hear me out. Please."

Jane tried to take a breath. It didn't work. Thor went on.

"Then, after I broke the Asbru bridge and realized I could not get back to you, I pined over you for a long while," he said. "It distressed my parents even further—and soon, I began to feel how deep their distress was—and I began to feel my own distress for my brother. I knew that you were well, and busy, and no harm would come to you. But my brother…" Thor shook his head. "There was a stretch of time when we did not know if he was even alive." He lowered his head. "Uncertainty is wretched. And it consumed us. We did a great deal of talking, and remembering, and wishing…and cursing ourselves." His voice softened. "More than a thousand years is a long time to love someone. And a day is far too long when you believe he may be lost."

Jane quieted, truly listening now—and wondering where he was going with this.

Thor sighed, and rested his elbows on the balcony.

"Then, he came back—and he brought you," Thor glanced at her. "Which I was partially prepared for—Heimdall had seen that Loki was with you all the while."

Jane blinked, but she didn't interrupt this time. Thor kept going.

"And that threw everything into a jumble," he muttered. "All of Asgard knew of your arrival within the hour—and of course, my family and friends knew our history together on Midgard. And finally, when I at last knew my brother was safe—but you were so hurt—a great deal of feeling for you came back to me." He sighed and rubbed his face. "Then, the rumors started. My mother hates idle talk, but no one knew what to do about it. Besides which, there is that law…" His jaw tightened and he clasped his hands. "And so she gave me a solution. A mandate, really." He turned, and watched her. "Propose marriage to you. This morning."

Jane's chest locked. Thor held her gaze.

And then he looked away. Jane's gaze sharpened.

"I prepared myself to do as she advised," Thor said. "And last night, I escorted you up here with a contented heart, ready to sleep soundly and come to you in the morning, and ask you to be my bride." His hands closed tightly around each other. "But then, as I stood there in my room," His great brow furrowed, his eyes distant. "Something began to trouble me. And all night long, it pestered me, like a thorn stuck in me somewhere I could not find. I paced back and forth and pulled at my beard—I didn't even put on my night clothes." His expression darkened further. "I knew I cared for you, I knew I was honor-bound by my promise to return for you—and further bound by your kiss, which is an unmistakable and irrevocable declaration of a woman's loyalty and preference that is never easily undone."

Jane opened her mouth in surprise, but checked herself, for Thor was not done speaking.

"But something inside me would not listen to those reasons, no matter how I argued. It was like…" he shifted toward her, looking at her intently as if trying to get her to understand, then pressing his fingertips to his chest. "It was like there was a piece in my chest that I was trying to make fit into a space—but it would not fit. It was waiting for some other piece, some piece I could not find. And the harder I tried to put the first piece in place, the more restless and wild I became. Until I finally realized something—something I had never given myself time to see before." He leaned toward her. "I met you on Midgard and you captivated me utterly. And then I grieved because I'd lost you. But then, when I had you back, and I was abruptly forced to consider honoring my promise and spending eternity bound to you, I suddenly knew—"

"You don't love me," Jane whispered. Thor gazed back at her solemnly, his blue eyes brilliant as the sky.

"I do not think I even know you," he said.

For a moment, neither of them stirred.

And suddenly, Jane began to breathe again. And her face filled with heat.

Thor blinked, and half his mouth quirked upward.

"You're smiling."

Jane ducked her head and covered her mouth, but she was unable to suppress the glow in her chest.

"No, no, I'm not," she protested. "It's just that I…I…"

"You don't love me, either," he said.

She lifted her eyes to him, still halfway covering her mouth.

"No," she murmured carefully. He watched her for a moment—

Then Thor laughed out loud. The sound rang through the chambers and over the garden.

"Oh, Jane!" he said, grabbing her shoulders and planting a kiss firmly on her forehead. He backed up, met her eyes and shook her gently. "Why did you not say so?"

"I…Well, I thought you loved me, and I was so worried about hurting you—you've always been so good to me, a very true friend," Jane said earnestly. "And besides, I…well…" She swallowed, blushing harder. "I didn't really realize I didn't love you until last night, either."

"You truly mean that," Thor wanted to know, keeping hold of her. "You are certain? You are not merely saying that because of what I told you?"

"No, no," Jane shook her head. "Though I do care about you," she amended quickly. "And I want you to be happy."

"Likewise," Thor smiled, backing up and affectionately touching his broad hand to the side of her head for a moment, then striding back into the room. "Though I have to confess another thing that I realized last night—it hit me right between the eyes." He swung around and faced her again. "As much as I care for your happiness—I care for my brother's more."

"Wh…What?" Jane croaked, but she hardly made a sound. Thor grinned, turned and started again for the door.

"Where are you going?" Jane called. He pulled on the handle, glanced at her, then sighed and gave a weary laugh.

"I believe I am going back to bed," he declared. "Good night—morning. Tell me what happens."

And he was gone. Jane stood there, floored, for a good ten minutes. Then, twin tears spilled from her eyes and she laughed and put her hand to her mouth, lifting her face so the morning sun danced across her tears.


Jane paced back and forth in her room, wringing her hands, stepping out onto the balcony and looking out into the empty gardens, only to walk back in and look fleetingly over the helmet and cistus, then at the open door, then back at the balcony.

The palace seemed strangely quiet. Jane bit her lip. Was this some sort of Asgardian tradition day, like Sunday, when they all rested? She ran her hands through her hair, then stopped in the middle of her room and folded her arms.

Distant humming reached her ears, echoing faintly. She held her breath, and cocked her head, listening.

It was a woman's voice. It came from down the hall.

Carefully, she stepped over her threshold, hope leaping in her chest. Perhaps it was Frigg—and if it was, she could tell her about what had happened this morning with Thor's proposal, or lack thereof, and ask her…

She slipped out into the tall, ivory hallway and turned right, following the sound. Her bare feet made no sound on the cold marble. Finally, Jane could understand the words to the song.

"As I was a-walking one morning by chance;
I heard a maid making her moan,
I asked why she sighed, and she sadly replied
'Alas! I must live all alone, alone,
Alas! I must live all alone.'"

Jane paused. It was a very sad song—and it didn't sound like Frigg's voice. Nevertheless, it was still familiar…

She pressed on, toward a broad, open door on the right side of the hall, where she could see partial sunlight shining through.

"I said, 'My fair maid, pray whence have you strayed?
And are you some distance from home?'
'My home,' replied she, 'is a burden to me,
For there I must live all alone, alone,
For there I must live all alone.'"

Holding her breath, Jane stopped, and eased around the doorframe…

To peer into Lady Sif's chambers.

The whole, large room was decked out in soft white, highlighted with gold. Three broad eastern windows, covered with sheer curtains, let in the sweeping light. Off to the left stood a great, curtained bed even more lavish than Jane's. Across the room sat a broad vanity, its mirror facing the door where Jane stood. And there, seated at it with her back to her, was Lady Sif. She wore a loose, sleeveless pale dress that was doubtlessly her nightgown, and she was singing wistfully to herself as she carefully pulled the pins out from her up-bound hair—

And let her breathtaking obsidian tresses tumble around her shoulders and down her back. After she finished, she picked up a brush and brought it up to her head.

Then, Sif saw Jane. She caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. Sif's eyes flashed.

But Jane was too overcome to be afraid.

"Oh…Sif," she breathed, crossing the soft carpet to stand behind her. Sif watched her fixedly in the mirror. Jane's brow tightened in something like pain.

"You have the most beautiful hair!" Jane gasped. Sif blinked—and though her lips parted, she said nothing.

"May I?" Jane asked, holding out her hand toward the brush. Sif hesitated, then carefully handed it to her.

Expertly, but softly and reverently, Jane took up a long lock of hair in one hand and ran the brush through it with the other. Sif's hair gave way to her strokes like silk.

"My mother used to have hair just like this," Jane said, an ache running straight through her at the soft feel and the look of these tresses. "I used to love just brushing and brushing and brushing it for her. My dad was blonde, so I got this sort of nondescript, brown…" Jane swallowed hard, smiled and shrugged as she kept combing. Her voice quieted. "But I was always so jealous of my mother's jet black hair." She glanced up at Sif's reflection. She stopped brushing.

There were tears in Sif's eyes.

"Are you all right?" Jane whispered.

"I'm fine," Sif gasped, reaching up and swiping at her eyes. "I'm fine."

Something pulled at Jane's heart again. Gently, she resumed brushing, even as Sif leaned her head forward and closed her eyes. At last, Jane took a breath, and quietly took a risk.

"Thor came to see me today."

Sif's eyes opened.

"Oh?" she said, but her voice broke. Jane pretended she didn't notice, and nodded.

"Yes," she said. She paused a moment, and drew the brush down smoothly. "He said he did not want to marry me."

Sif's head came up. Her eyes went wide.

"And I said I didn't want to marry him, either," Jane added.

Sif whirled around in her chair and pinned Jane in place with a lethal look.

"You had better not be playing games with me, Midgardian—"

"I'm not," Jane said, ducking her head and smiling a little. "Really. It's the truth." She met Sif's eyes, and handed her the brush. Sif stared at her.

And then she leaped up and threw her arms around Jane.

Jane went stiff and dropped the brush. It thudded to the floor.

"Oh, you have no idea—" Sif choked, backing up and taking Jane by the shoulders, then reaching down and grabbing her hands. She shook her head hard, tears dripping down her face. She squeezed her eyes shut. "You have no idea," she said in a grave, rough voice. "What kind of night I just spent."

"Oh, I think I do," Jane sighed, glancing away. Sif's bright eyes found her, then she frowned.

"What do you mean?"

Jane sighed again, and sank down into a stool next to the vanity. Sif let go of her hands and sat down again, turning toward her and drying her tears.

"I don't know, I…" Jane picked at the skirt of her dress. "Last night at dinner, Frigg warned me that Thor was going to propose this morning, and he walked me up to my room, said goodnight, and I…" she shook her head and gestured helplessly. "I couldn't sleep. Not at all. I thrashed around all night. I felt sick."

"I have a theory about that," Sif stated. Jane looked at her.

"What is it?"

Sif met her eyes squarely.

"I think you're in love with Loki."

Jane froze. She went ice cold.

And then her whole body rushed full of heat and her heart began hammering against her ribs.

"Borr's Ghost," Sif breathed, her gaze flitting over Jane's face. "You are. You are in love with Loki." She smiled slowly, then let out a laugh. "I have finally lived long enough to have seen everything."

Jane's breathing sped up, and her eyes darted around without seeing anything. She pressed her hand to her chest—her fingers landed on the Lokistone.

All at once, she wanted to cry or laugh or scream or let her chest burst open as it felt like it was going to. But she couldn't move. Her eyes flew to Sif's.

"What…" she rasped. "What am I going to do?"

Sif's eyebrows went up.

"You're asking me?"

"Yes!" Jane cried, heart racing. "I…I can't find him! I don't know where he is, I'll get lost in this palace trying to look for him, and he doesn't come anywhere near me. For all I know, he hates me and never wants to—"

"What about that helmet?"

Jane started.

"The helmet?"

"Yes, the blood-stained helmet everyone is talking about," Sif reminded her. "The one that sits in your room. Loki's helmet that he left with you."

"Well, Odin—Odin said that Loki would come and get it from me when he wanted it," Jane managed, her head in a whirl. Sif's brow knitted.

"Has he ever had an opportunity?"

Jane nodded hard.

"Yes, he…Last night, when I came into my room, there was a flower by the helmet."

"A flower?" Sif repeated, confused. "How do you know he was the one who left it?"

"It was him," Jane said, squeezing her eyes shut. "I think he overheard me talking about the meanings of flowers with Thor yesterday." Jane took a shaking breath. "This one meant 'I shall die tomorrow.'"

For a long while, Sif said nothing. Then, she leaned in, and spoke in a low voice.

"Jane, don't be a fool," she said. "He loves you."

Jane lifted her face. Sif stared right back at her.

"Don't you dare let this chance get away from you," Sif commanded. "Loki has never been a favorite of mine—but if you love him and he loves you…then the rest is details." Sif reached out and took hold of Jane's hand, speaking with dark intensity. "You cannot fathom how quickly this could all slip away from you—leaving you with an eternity of regret." She squeezed Jane's hand hard. "Marry him. Tomorrow."

Jane gulped. Then, she twisted her wrist and grabbed hold of Sif's hand.

"What about the helmet?"

Sif canted her head.

"Have you ever thought that maybe he was waiting for you to return it to him?"

"But I don't know where he is," Jane repeated. Sif grinned. It lit up her face.

"Don't worry on that account," she said. "I have spies everywhere. And this evening, when they find him, I'll send you a note telling you where he is so you can go to him." Sif secured her grip on Jane's hand and stood up, pulling Jane with her. "In the meantime, there is a hot bath, scented oils, food, and rest in your immediate future—and then I will show you what to do with that dirty helmet."

"Sif," Jane swiped at her eyes as Sif pulled her toward the huge spa room. "I promise I'll repay you for this."

"Oh!" Sif laughed. "I am counting on it."

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 25 of 27

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