Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 1 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

Jane missed the alien invasion.

She was in Norway at the time, and instead of looking at the stars, she was in a basement laboratory getting caught up on someone else's data. All night. When she came out in the early morning, everyone else was huddled around a television watching news footage from an assortment of weird angles.

She stared at it a while - her heart nearly stopped when she saw a shot of Thor, hair and cape flying, almost whited out by the lightning strikes around him - and finally croaked, 'A wormhole opened up over New York City and nobody told me?'

She came to regret that about ten minutes into the round of apologies for forgetting she was there. Fortunately it petered out as all of them re-glued themselves to the TV. (The best apology was a few minutes later, from the equipment tech who tore herself loose during a segment they'd run earlier and brought Jane a cup of coffee and a banana. Jane almost hugged her.)

It was stupid to be disappointed that Thor hadn't come to see her. He had been a little busy. It was a bit ridiculous in a different way to be disappointed that she didn't have any data on the wormhole, even if her voicemail did keep filling up with calls from people who remembered she was interested in them. She very nearly missed the one from Erik Selvig, and very nearly had a heart attack when they finally managed to meet (with a disturbing level of SHIELD-related security) and he told her what had happened to him.

A month later, Jane was still being pestered, but she knew slightly more because Erik had persuaded SHIELD that she was the perfect person to make sense of what wormhole data they actually had. She was staring at a SHIELD computer screen and thinking it was really ungrateful to miss the starlight when she had a wormhole to analyse, when a deep voice from the doorway said, 'Hello, Jane.'

She spun around so fast the swivel chair nearly went over. 'Thor!' It was him, in the flesh - and armor, and cape, and bright blue eyes. 'Thor. It's - it's good to see you.' She looked around. 'What are you doing here? -Keeping in touch with SHIELD?'

He laughed. 'Aye, but also with you, I hope.'

Jane grinned at him helplessly. 'Sounds good to me.'

It had been a long day already and she felt no guilt whatsoever about taking off for a fantastic evening. They bought takeaway for dinner and Thor flew them off into the winter night, away from city lights to where they could really see the sky while they ate it. (Jane wound up wrapped in her coat and his arm and sitting on his cape for protection against the chill of the ground. It took her half an hour to feel really warm again once they went back indoors, and it would have been longer if Thor hadn't spent the time rubbing her arms and sharing a very large hot coffee with her. She wouldn't have traded for anything.)

The conversation turned serious, after that. Thor listened to her talk about her work and worries, and he told her more than SHIELD had, perhaps more than SHIELD had known: discovering signs of Loki's power on Earth, but not his person; Heimdall combing universes and straining his vision for the prince they suddenly knew to be missing rather than dead; locating him at last and hearing the bargain he made with his rescuers/captors. Gathering the dark energy (Jane desperately wanted more detail on that and bit her tongue not to ask yet) to retrieve him, and changing destination, with barely enough for a one-way trip, when he went ahead to Earth.

As they watched the sun come up, Jane with bleary eyes and resting her head on his shoulder more because it was too much effort to move than because it was a nice shoulder (though it was a very nice shoulder), Thor asked, 'Will you visit Asgard with me?'

Would she travel to another planet with an alien after they'd spent a grand total of less than a week together? 'How could I possibly say no?'

Actually arranging the trip took a few days. Clearing things with SHIELD, clearing things with Culver University (which she was technically on sabbatical from anyway), alerting Erik ('You be careful up there. If they offer you a golden apple you should probably say yes.'), explaining to her family, listening to Darcy bemoan her exams (Thor promised to try to get her a chance later), packing. Thor explained that the Einstein-Rosen... rainbow bridge was still broken, and perhaps she'd enjoy watching the repairs, so they went by twisting a tube-shaped device with the tesseract in it. Jane stared at it and thought about sufficiently advanced technology, and her pulse pounded in her throat. Part of her despaired of ever understanding it and part of her rejoiced that there was so much to find out.

Then the twist, the bright raging blue-white light with a sense of endless dark just beyond, rather like giving a talk to a darkened room, and when she blinked away the orange afterimages they were standing far too close to the end of a multicoloured crystalline bridge that just jutted out into space and stopped. She clutched at Thor's arm, staring hungrily out at completely unfamiliar constellations and trying not to think about falling off of things. (Loki fell off of this. He let go. How the hell could you look at this and let go?)

Thor beamed at her. 'Here, I asked Heimdall to send for a horse for you.'

Jane stared at him, abruptly brought back down to - not Earth. 'I can't ride a horse.' She especially couldn't ride a horse on this narrow strip of whatever-it-was.

Thor looked bewildered. 'Of course you can. You sit on top and direct it where to go. They're much more intelligent than your wheeled engines of Midgard-'

...And that was when she blew up at him. Afterward she didn't remember clearly what she'd said, but she was pretty sure she'd been adamant and nearly in tears about the insult to her driving, the insult to Midgardian transportation in general, and Thor's lack of consideration in expecting her to ride a horse of all things.

Thor started out looking bewildered and rapidly progressed to roaring back at her. At some point it struck Jane, very belatedly, that this was intimidating. She took a nervous step backward, and Heimdall's hands closed on her shoulders. Thor stopped talking. She looked up at Heimdall in the sudden silence, then back at the abyss beyond her heels, and her knees buckled.

'I am sorry,' Thor said quietly, stepping forward to take her shaking hands. 'We can fly back. It would be a long ride for someone not accustomed to horses. I forgot that you would not be.'

Jane shook her head, wishing she could dissolve in mortification. 'I - no, I'm so sorry, I - I don't know what came over me, I -'

'Travel between realms without the Bifrost wears on the mind,' Thor said. 'Everyone is irritable for a while afterward.'

Jane gaped at him. 'You - could have told me -' She cut herself off before she could start shouting again and buried her face in her hands. 'Okay. Okay. Flying's good. And then maybe I can just not talk to anybody until it wears off.'

'Well, you will need to greet my parents...'

'Oh, God.'

Thor smiled at her. She was torn between thinking he looked adorable and wanting to smack him. 'Don't worry. I am one of the very few people who actually manage to yell at my father.'

'I'm not sure that's reassuring!'

The visit did improve from there. Thor held her close on the flight back and it didn't seem to occur to him to hold a grudge. Asgard was dazzling from a distance. She got through meeting his parents without saying anything that made her cringe to look back on. Asgard was dazzling from up close, too.

Thor waited until she had eaten and slept to tell her about Loki. She really wanted to be mad at him about that, but she didn't want to speculate on her own reaction if he'd done it earlier. As it was, she choked on her eggs. 'Did you just say I might run into Loki?'

'Around certain parts of the palace, yes.' Thor reached over and folded a warm hand over the one currently attached to her fork. 'Not alone. He is attended constantly. But Jane, please understand, I know what he did on your world, but he is not normally like that. He is my brother and he is... not well. He was not thinking clearly before he fell through the void, or met the Chitauri, or communed with the tesseract.'

Jane released the fork and rubbed her forehead with her free hand. 'Is the tesseract actually conscious?'

Thor shrugged a bit helplessly. 'It is... strange. I don't talk to it. You might ask Odin.'

She thought about that for a few seconds. 'Maybe later. So - Loki is...?'

'Recuperating under guard. He has the freedom of limited parts of the palace, but his sorcery has been bound from his use, and he is watched for others' safety and his own.'

Jane sat back, took a deep breath, and nodded. 'Okay.'


'It's still a little unnerving, but it... makes sense, I guess. And you're obviously taking precautions.' She extricated her hand from Thor's and took another bite of eggs and ham. They still tasted great, nerves or not. Another deep breath and she even managed a smile.

After all, it was a big palace. She probably wasn't going to spend that much time wandering around it on her own, and she'd probably spot Loki's entourage in time to turn aside. Really, how likely was it she'd run into him?

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 1 of 37

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