Continuing Tales

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 5 of 27

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"Where once was light
Now darkness falls
Where once was love,
Love is no more
Don't say goodbye
Don't say I didn't try

These tears we cry
are falling rain
For all the lies you told us
The hurt, the blame
And we will weep to be so alone
We are lost
We can never go home"

-Gollum's Song


Jane hopped out of the van, slammed the door, then hurried around the front, still in the middle of a sentence.

"—like nothing I've ever seen before. Erik—it's incredible. I can't believe you even hesitated."

Erik, shutting the driver's side door and stepping up to face her, squinted against the early morning light.

"I know it's fascinating, Jane, and I'm glad you're interested—I just feel like the words 'unlimited power' need to be handled with a bit of caution."

"I think it's ridiculous we only get two hours a day with it. Two hours? That's barely a start before we have to stop!" Jane's thoughts plowed onward as they left the van behind, rounded the three campers and headed toward the lab, their feet crunching on the gravel. Their long, fresh shadows danced across the flat, dusty land, and the bright sun glinted on the windows of the lab. There wasn't a single cloud in the vast, pale sky. Jane ran a hand through her unbound hair—she had barely had time to pull a comb through it and brush her teeth before Erik had come to get her at dawn and hauled her off to the bunker for her first glimpse of the Cube.

"I know they're not sure what kind of power it's emitting," Jane allowed, gesturing broadly as she processed. "But their radiation sensors aren't picking anything up, and none of the people working with it have experienced any adverse effects."

"This is an alien technology, Jane," Erik said. "And they're being extra careful—which means you'll just have to take a few deep breaths. I know patience isn't your strong suit—"

"Patience has never gotten me anything," Jane said, stepping under the shade of the overhang. "Except missed opportunities and things I wish I…" She trailed off, her palm on the cool handle of the door.

"What?" Erik stopped beside her. Her brow tightened, and she let go of the door and leaned around the corner of the building.

There sat Fenris, facing into the rising sun, leaning back against the wall. One thin trail of blood lined the right side of his face, and his eyes stared blankly straight ahead. His cape trailed in the dust, and one leg was bent, his foot tucked under his other knee. Both arms wrapped around his middle.

"Fenris?" Jane called, suddenly unable to summon much volume. Then, her chest clenched. It was by no means a rule that people died with their eyes closed.

"Fenris?" she repeated, and hurried up to him, skidding on the dirt, Erik on her heels. The next instant though, her clamped breath released, for Fenris' eyes flickered, and his right eyebrow twitched. Jane's hand flew to her chest.

"You scared me," Jane panted. "Are you okay?"

"That's a common question with you, isn't it, madam?" Fenris said, his voice hoarse.

"Because it's a good question," Jane insisted. "It looks like you're still bleeding."

"Indeed I am," he answered. Jane hesitated, casting a glance at Erik. Erik only frowned down at the stranger.

"Well—can you get up?" Jane asked, off-balance again. Fenris frowned distantly.

"I thought of it," he said. "Then I decided against it."

"What are you doing out here?" Jane wondered, glancing around.

"I got stiff lying there," he said. "Needed a bit of fresh air."

"Well, you shouldn't sit out here," Erik advised. "With what you're wearing, you will probably get very hot once the sun gets higher."

Fenris did not answer, nor did he look at them. Jane glanced up at Erik, her stomach starting to tie itself in a knot.

"Well, I'm…I'm going to fix breakfast inside," she said slowly. "I'll prop the door open so you can call one of us if you need help coming in."

Again, Fenris stayed silent. Jane watched him for a long moment. A gust of wind came up and fluttered through her jacket and hair, and made Fenris' cape slide back through the dust.

Jane stepped back from him, then opened the door and went inside.

It was cooler, quieter in here. She took off her jacket and tossed it onto her chair. Her shoes tapped on the tiles.

"We need to do something about him, Jane," Erik said in a low voice from near the door.

"What would you suggest?" Jane muttered, rolling up her sleeves and heading to the sink to wash. "Darcy's right—we can't take him to the hospital. You remember what happened with Thor." Jane's voice softened as she dried her hands. Then she got out the spray bottle of Comet to wipe off the counter before starting breakfast. "He's not our prisoner. He's conscious, he can talk—and I have a feeling that if he didn't want to be here, he wouldn't hang around, even if he is injured." Jane swiftly wiped the counter off, put the Comet back, rinsed her hands again, then moved to the fridge. "And I'm not going to make him leave."

She turned back around with the carton of eggs to see Erik standing there, leaning on the counter with arms folded, watching her.

"What?" She held out her free hand, palm up. He raised his eyebrows.

"You want him to tell you more about Thor."

Jane gritted her teeth and put the eggs down on the counter.

"What's wrong with that?" she muttered, turning back to the fridge. She felt Erik's soft hand on the back of her head. She went still.

"Nothing. I just want you to be careful."

"Thanks, Erik," she managed, then set about scrambling the eggs.


"I can't describe exactly what color it is," Jane said to Darcy, taking another drink of orange juice. Darcy, Erik and Jane sat at the small table, finishing up their breakfast. Fenris still sat outside—a fact that bothered Jane, but she was trying to ignore it.

"It's a sort of iridescent blue," Erik tried.

"So it glows?" Darcy said, impressed.

"Yeah," Jane grinned. "Almost hurts your eyes."

"Does it make any noise?" Darcy asked.

"Noise?" Erik's brow furrowed as he took a sip of coffee. Darcy shrugged.

"I dunno—in movies, things like that usually hum or something."

Jane looked to Erik, who shook his head. Jane shook her head, too.

"No, not that I could hear. And they didn't say anything about it transmitting any sort of vibration, so right now I'm assuming…" Jane trailed off as a presence slid into her mind. She turned her head—

To see Fenris' dark, lean form resting against the doorframe, watching them with a cool gaze—as if he had been standing there for the past hour. Jane's hand closed around the napkin in her lap. In fact he may have been standing there for the past hour.

"Hi," Darcy said, before Jane realized that both Erik and Darcy had spotted Fenris, too. Fenris tilted his head to Darcy, a lock of black hair falling across his brow. He met Jane's gaze briefly, then he stepped inside, soundless, one arm still hitched around his middle. He eased down into the crook of the couch where he had spent the night, settled, and remained silent.

Jane turned in her chair, studied him a moment, then screwed up her courage.

"Would you like some breakfast? We have ham and eggs, and juice."

Again, his eyebrow flicked.

"No. Thank you."

Jane's mouth tightened—she got the feeling he had added the "thank you" at the end, not to be polite, but to avoid being rude. There was a difference.

So she turned her back on him. Darcy and Erik were still watching him, so Jane cleared her throat.

"So, Darcy, when you accepted this internship, did you think you'd be discovering alien civilizations and getting shot at by giant robots?" She gave Darcy a crooked, teasing smile that she hoped didn't look forced. Darcy rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, totally," she said sarcastically. "That's just what I signed up for." She took a drink of juice. "Not that I'm not interested, of course—I just don't understand a lot of the jargon you guys throw around. It'd be nice if you'd explain this cube thing to me in layman's terms."

"I'd love to do that, actually," Jane admitted. "But right now I can't."

"Is it really that technical?" Darcy raised her eyebrows.

"No, it's just that we don't know that much about it yet," Jane said.

"What we know about it is really what we don't know about it," Erik said, leaning his elbows on the table. "We don't know who made it, what realm or dimension it came from, or what it does. Fury won't even tell me who he got it from."

"It's a power source," Darcy said. Erik shrugged.

"That's what it looks like. But we'll need to find out a lot more about it before we even touch it."

"I'm planning on touching it," Jane stated, digging into her eggs again. Erik chuckled.

"I know—and I think it will be funny watching them try to stop you."

Jane smirked a little, glad Erik was relaxing—but all the while she felt Fenris' eyes on her back, and knew he was listening.


"The Nazis. Why is it always the Nazis?" Darcy exclaimed as she set the table. Jane laughed as she stirred the soup and checked on the grilled cheese sandwiches.

"What do you mean?"

"The Nazis chased after so many occult and weird things that it's almost become a cliché," Darcy said, folding the napkins. "Look at Indiana Jones."

"Good movies," Erik inserted, browsing through the refrigerator.

"I think the American project connected with the discovery of this Cube is what's interesting," Jane mused, flipping over the sandwiches with a spatula. "Something about enhanced humans? I want to hear more about that."

"Again, you'll have to be patient," Erik advised, turning around with a bottle of beer and shutting the fridge.

"Yeah, it took almost a week for Nick Fury to just tell you guys where the Cube came from in the first place," Darcy reminded her.

"Ugh, I know—it's killing me," Jane groaned. "I might have to do some of my own research."

"That's what you're best at," Erik remarked, sitting down at the table. Jane set out four red plates on the counter, scooped sandwiches on to each of them, then ladled soup into four bowls. She could feel Fenris' eyes on her—always, always on her—but she acted as swiftly and efficiently as she had learned how over these past few days. She set the plates and bowls down in front of Darcy and Erik, who thanked her, then put her own food down at her place. Then, she picked up the sandwich and soup and spoon, and carried it over to the coffee table near the couch. Fenris, who stood near the corner behind the couch, leaning back against the wall, watched her as she moved. Jane slowed and stopped as she glanced down at the table, and saw Fenris' breakfast plate, filled with toast, cereal and bacon, untouched and cold. She lifted her gaze to him. Pale green eyes met hers.

"You're not eating," she said. He gave her a ghost of a smile, his lips white. Then it went away, and he shook his head once.

"I don't ask you to feed me."

Jane ground her teeth, set the lunch down and picked up the breakfast plate and set it in the sink. She sat down at the table, picked up her spoon and began to eat, resuming their earlier discussion about the World War Two origins of the glowing blue cube—feeling Fenris' listening presence behind her, constant and silent and cold as a shadow.


Soft, evening light filtered through the windows, casting a warm glow throughout the room. Jane, Darcy and Erik had pulled deeper, more comfortable chairs into the laboratory area around the table, and sat drinking coffee.

Jane had a headache—they had been discussing the Cube all day for the ninth day in a row, and the possibilities of it all were cracking her skull. Besides which, she missed Thor intensely today. There was a stupid reason—once, Erik had remarked that "Thursday" was actually "Thor's Day," and so every time it came around, Jane found herself unreasonably depressed, and could not shake it off. A heavy weight sat inside her chest, and her mind wandered back to days filled with bright blue eyes, a flash of a smile, a ringing laugh—and evenings near a fire, gazing up at the vastness of the stars. Science projects like the current one helped distract her, but now her thoughts were tired, scattered, and she couldn't stand talking about that stupid Cube anymore.

Erik took a long sip of coffee and leaned back in his chair. Jane pulled her blanket up around her shoulders, tucked her legs under her, and rested her head back on the cushion. She let out a long sigh, and regarded her oldest friend.

"Tell us about Asgard," she said. Darcy, who had been dozing off in her own chair, perked up, and straightened her glasses. Erik chuckled.

"I'm not exactly an authority…" His gaze drifted past them all. Jane glanced back. Fenris sat on the edge of the couch, his elbows braced on his knees, slowly drawing a circle on his right palm with his left forefinger. The cup of coffee Jane had put on the table in front of him sat steaming, and she knew he wouldn't touch it. Jane also knew by the tilt of his head he heard every word they said. The heaviness in her heart grew. Fenris had promised to tell her more about what she wished to know if she left him alone for a few days. It had now been several, and he had barely spoken half a dozen words, let alone anything informative concerning his people or his country—or Thor. He still wore his armor and cape, and remained dust-covered—the only difference about him was that he had cleaned the blood off his face. And he looked paler.

Erik cleared his throat. Jane turned back to him. He took a deep breath and considered.

"The word 'Asgard' means 'Enclosure of the Æsir.' Asgard is one of the Nine Worlds, and is the central city of the Norse gods." Erik's voice lowered, and his eyes lit. "It is surrounded by a partly-completed wall, and is ruled by Odin, the One-Eyed All-Father, and his beautiful wife Frigg. Valhalla is also there."

"Who's Valhalla?" Darcy asked.

"It's not a person—it's a place," Erik explained. "Half of the warriors who die in battle travel to Valhalla, led by winged monsters called valkyries, and the other half of them go to the field of Fólkvangr, which is ruled by the goddess Freya."

"I love that name—Freya," Jane murmured, storing it away in her memory.

"In Valhalla, the dead join all the legions who have died fighting, known as Einherjar."

"What does Valhalla look like?" Jane asked.

"Well, it is a majestic, vast hall, and its ceiling is thatched with golden shields," Erik said. "And in front of the hall stands a golden tree, called Glasir. All kinds of fantastic creatures live around Valhalla, like the stag Eikþyrnir and the goat Heiðrún. Both of them stand on top of Valhalla and eat the leaves of the tree Læraðr."

"So Valhalla is separate from Asgard," Darcy noted. Erik nodded.

"It is supposed to be perfect—a painless place. Like—"


Jane's head came around. Erik fell silent. Jane stared at Fenris, who had spoken, but he did not move. His hands went still, the fingertips of his left hand resting lightly on the palm of his right.

"For despite the myths of Midgard, Valhalla is untouchable even by the All-Father, and cannot be entered by way of Asgard," he said. He fell silent, and Jane thought he wouldn't say any more.

And then he took a breath. And when he spoke, his tone was low and deliberate, each word formed to perfection, each phrase flowing and pausing and lifting like a quiet melody.

"But we often believe we can see Valhalla, when the sun strides through the high gates and stands watch over the great seals, giving light to the grand throne room gilded in gold," he said. "And there at the head of it waits the throne of the kings of Asgard—long-bearded fathers of mighty helms and heavy hammers, who ruled in days long sped with a quiet hand and a steady eye. The throne was hewn of a block of living gold by careful-fingered smiths, and has not stirred from its place since the age when the giants shivered the roots of the realms." He lifted his head, just an inch, and gazed out before him, seeing nothing.

"Beneath it lies the chamber of illustrious arms, where lives the All-Father's staff when he covers himself in the sheen of the Sleep. There also lives the hammer Mjollnir, the messenger of thunder—and in the far reaches of the chamber, in a coffin of stone, sleeps a broken sword whose name no one remembers.

"Above the great hall, stretching higher than any mountain, reach the mighty towers of Asgard, like flutes of silver and gold, catching daylight and starlight in their depths as they watch the flicker of the Asbru bridge holding its hand out to the heavens.

"Below, near the heels of the towers, spill ten-thousand fountains of healing water, clearer than the sky and purer than snow, and they feed the gardens where bend the trees that are older than the realm. They glimpse the first of the sunrise, and witness the coming of the day as it flashes like lightning through the waiting sky." Fenris laced his fingers together, and his gaze moved as if he were watching something very far away.

"And when the sun falls and twilight pulls its cloak over the sky, night never truly descends," he murmured, in a soft, piercing tone. "For a quiet light remains in the west, touching the edge of the silver water. Sometimes, if you stand alone and listen, you can hear the sea birds sing your name, feel the surf call on the wind, and it is all you can do to keep from making sail and meeting that light where it stands." He paused, his gaze flickered, and his brow tightened, just minutely.

"But then a lamp will come to life in a chamber above you," he whispered. "The scent of roasting meat and stewing lintel will reach your breath, and the strum of a lute will touch your ears. Then, someone will call your name, call you inside, to the light and the warmth." His words quieted so they almost could not hear him. "And you will forget the shine on the water, and remember the people you love—and that you are home."

For a long moment, everyone went silent. Then, Jane sucked in a deep breath she hadn't realized she had been holding. Her heart fluttered, and she couldn't pull her eyes away from him.

"Wow," Darcy murmured.

They all stayed still where they sat, waiting for him to go on. But he did not look at them, and for the rest of the evening, he said nothing.


Jane threw her covers off herself with a huff. She tossed yet another exasperated glance at the glowing green numbers on her clock. Three a.m. She had not slept yet.

All night, her head had been spinning with images of Asgard—the flute-like towers, the tumbling water, the gardens, and the light on the sea. At first, the thought of the gold light pouring through the halls had made her sigh. But then her thoughts caught, like an anchor through a reef, on the broken sword lying in the shadows whose name no one can remember.

Why had it been broken? And why had they kept it so long if no one knew what it was? And what about the All Father's staff? And what was the sheen of the Sleep?

What places in Asgard had Thor frequented? What hallways were his favorite, which rooms did he retire to? What view made him pause and look at the color of the sky, and listen to the sound of the waterfalls below him?

What had dinner been like, between Thor and his family and friends? What games had they played together, what stories had they told? She could imagine it, but imagination at the moment felt very inadequate, and frustrated her so badly she couldn't rest.

She sat up, pushed her hair out of her face, and got up. Her trailer was dark, except for the glow of her clock and a small night light under the cupboard in the kitchenette. She reached across to the opposite wall, grabbed her robe off a hook and threw it on, then donned her slip-on shoes. Sighing, she opened the door of her trailer and stood for a moment as the cool night air swept up to meet her. Carefully, Jane stepped down the squeaky stairs and started toward the lab, her robe swishing, her shoes shuffling in the dirt. She glanced up.

There was no moon. Stars hung in the sky like billions of diamonds on a black velvet blanket, bright enough to light her way. She wrapped her arms around herself and picked up her pace. She hoped a warm cup of decaf tea and this brief walk would help her settle down.

She reached the door, then paused as her hand stretched halfway to the handle.

The door stood propped open with a book. Frowning, Jane opened the door and leaned inside.

A low white light had been left on in the kitchen area—a light that illuminated Fenris' usual place on the couch. It was empty.

Her heart sped up and her throat closed. She couldn't summon the breath to call his name—she didn't want to wake up Erik and Darcy, besides—but she backed up and strained her eyes for a glimpse of his dark form.

Had he left already? Had he considered that monologue about Asgard to be a fulfillment of his promise to tell her more?

But if he left, where would he go? What would he do? How could he—

She stopped. Her frame went still.

Fenris stood about fifty meters away from the building, arms loose at his sides. His pale face tilted toward the sky, and the starlight reflected in his eyes. She heard him breathing—it was more labored than normal—but he did not acknowledge her. She wondered if he even knew she was there.

She watched him for a long time as his gaze searched the stars, and the wind listlessly touched the hem of his cape. Once, his left hand twitched up toward his chest, and his breath snagged. But he didn't lower his gaze, and he didn't stray from that spot. So, after several minutes, Jane pulled herself away and crept back to her trailer, taking a quick backward glance to make sure the book still propped open the door of the lab so he could get back in.


He had said all those things to appease her. That was the truth Loki kept repeating to himself as he gazed up at the stars, taking time to linger on each and every individual point of light. He had felt Jane getting restless these past days—had sensed it each time she tried to make him eat. He enjoyed frustrating her, watching her brown eyes flash in irritation, testing the limits of her patience.

Never mind that he knew he couldn't swallow anything without choking, anyway.

He hadn't said all those things to prove he was from Asgard—but he had to admit that Erik's ignorance and ineloquence concerning the subject galled him. He had meant to make poetry of his explanation, to show how the place ought to be spoken and thought of.

Remembering the waterfalls did not lodge in his chest like a knife. Recalling the sun in the throne room did not pull at the sinews somewhere behind his breastbone. And thinking of the light in the western sky did not draw him upward while an inexorable force kept him bound down like a stone.

He had said those things to appease her.

That was all.

Fallen Star

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Alydia Rackham

Part 5 of 27

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