Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 26 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

The day after Odin dropped into his bizarre restorative magical coma, he did not wake up, which apparently was longer than normal but not really longer than expected after putting it off. Thor asked Jane, very earnestly and with a haunted air around his eyes, to make a particular effort to be kind to Loki. There were probably several appropriate responses, none of which were to ask, 'What did he do now?'

After the explanation, such as it was, Jane did not go looking for Loki immediately - she didn't want to be in the way, but Thor was not the only one who looked haunted in odd moments. Frigga didn't show it much, but she offered to take Jane to see Odin - Jane really suspected Frigga just wanted conscious company, because as she sat down by the bed, her shoulders drooped and her hands tensed on the edge of it. The whole thing felt like waiting for someone having a routine surgical procedure: everything ought to be okay, but what if this time it isn't?

Late in the morning, however, she left Frigga to her husband's bedside - Thor had been busy for a few hours with a small group of people who had suddenly decided he needed to be rechecked for any malign influences picked up during his stay in Alfheim - and headed for the library.

Where Loki, as it turned out, was not. Well, that did make sense. Thor had said he was distraught and she could imagine he might have decided to stay in. Or... something. She supposed he could be nearly anywhere with some reasonable expectation of privacy.

She asked for help finding a book about Asgard's ancient history and sat down to read, but the words paced before her eyes without really making it into the brain. She had looked forward to relaying some of what Odin had said. And now she was kind of worried about Loki. Not that he was likely to manage to come to any real harm under his minders' communally watchful eye, but she suspected he was brooding. Although she wasn't honestly sure if she should look for him in that case or let him work through it instead of getting pushy.

Jane stared at the page for a moment longer without really focusing on it. Well, there was no need to get pushy. If it turned out he wanted time to himself, she could always leave again. Or if he was talking to Holda, of course. But she didn't think notbeing looked for was going to make him particularly happier.

She packed up her notes and borrowed the book, and after a few minutes and passing under the eye of several guards at their stations, she tapped on Loki's door. One of the guards had acknowledged that he hadn't been seen going out. She was less sure whether he would answer.

'Who is it?' Loki called, without opening the door.

'Jane.' Well, he was definitely in. 'I thought I'd come see if you were up for company.'

'You can come in.'

He was sitting in one of the armchairs, curled up sideways with a notebook perched on his knees. There was white fabric wrapped around his left wrist, under the bracelet there. Around him, scattered across most of the floor, was Asgard's heavy notepaper, in varying degrees of screwed up or just dropped. Most of it, seen in glimpses which Jane was trying not to catch in case it was private, was made in a notation she wasn't familiar with. Strange graphs, looking like etch-a-sketch patterns decorated with runes, were the majority.

'You've been busy, I see.' The runes on the notepaper just by her foot changed helpfully. Jane picked her way across the rest of the scattered paper to the next chair over, without speaking, and perched in it. 'How are you doing?'

'Genetic magic is an interesting distraction, even if it probably isn't the answer I was looking for,' Loki answered, looking up and then at the scattered paper as if he wasn't sure how it got there. 'I apologise for the mess.'

'No need,' Jane said, a little amused, 'I just didn't want to step on anything you might not be done with.' She looked down at her own notes. 'Still on the transformation question?'

'Yes.' Despite Jane's assurance he got up and started to gather paper into piles, moving slowly in a way that made it obvious how wrung out he still was.

Jane gave him a worried look and then got up to help. 'Do you want these in any kind of order or just out of the way? And I, ah, actually asked Odin about that.'

'You...about transformations?' Loki put the sheaf of papers he'd gathered on the table and reached for more, before apparently deciding against it and sitting down again. 'He was talking about me?'

'Part of the time. More about the founding of Asgard.' She gave him a wry look and gave up on the papers as well. 'I think I'm glad you didn't listen to me about talking to him yet. I didn't realise he'd been putting off the Odinsleep... thing, again.'

'He, uh, wasn't talking about me when he fell asleep?' Loki seemed a bit embarrassed by the question.

Jane blinked. 'I don't think...' Well, he had kind of been, technically. Among other topics. 'He did explain he'd been due for it right around the time Heimdall found you, but obviously he'd already started flagging at that point.'

'I see.' Loki didn't elaborate on what he saw, although he sounded a bit shaky. 'What did he tell you, about the founding of Asgard? And what does that have to do with the question of changing species?'

Jane eyed him. 'Just for the record, he talks about you on a regular basis without falling asleep.'

Loki looked more embarrassed, but less upset at that. 'I suppose I knew that. I know you've been talking to him about me.'

'Well, yes.' She glanced down and then passed him her note sheets. 'He said citizens changing species to Asgardian is something Idunn built into your world.'

'But why would it be?' he asked. The notepaper changed language as he spoke and he looked down at it, frowning.

'Small population, they were going to need more people. And apparently she enhanced them a lot.'

Loki was flicking through the notes now. 'It does look like it. Thor, I take it? But obviously he'd been born enhanced, his genetics wouldn't be those of the original population. It wouldn't be the same as taking the enhancements away from someone who had been born without them.' He stopped, suddenly, and then thrust the notes back at Jane as if they'd been contaminated.

Oddly, even in a completely incomprehensible alphabet and language, her handwriting was still identifiable. 'We didn't end up getting into the mechanics of it.' The pages changed back to English as she spoke, confirming Jane's guess on where Loki had decided he didn't want them anymore.

'It doesn't matter,' said Loki, voice level and detached. 'None of it is true.'

She sighed and drummed her fingers on the edge of the book. 'I assume you don't like Buri's theory, but that's no reason to decide Odin was making the whole thing up.'

'It's too convenient. A way for me to be Asgardian after all, because everyone declared a citizen is. And then...that. He had to push it that little bit further, a just plausible enough theory that would make me more like the original Asgardians than anyone. Not that plausible, of course, even with all the background he's so carefully supplied. He must have really thought I'd want to believe it.' He shook his head. 'I'm sorry you got used in this. But it had to be someone without the magic to check anything he said.'

Jane stared at him, momentarily speechless - and momentarily considering it. Only, no. 'I really don't think that's what's going on here.'

'Why not? He's lied before.'

'Well, for one thing, I decided to start with something less specialised but they do actually have Buri's book on it.'

'They do?' It seemed to shock Loki out of his certainty. He gave the notes in Jane's hand a wary glance. 'What did you decide to start with?'

Her mouth quirked. 'Legendary, Magical, and Physical Evidence of the Building of Asgard. It sounded like a decent summary work.'

'It does.' Loki's paranoia apparently stopped at the idea of Odin secretly writing books and planting them in the library, and he was starting to look interested despite himself. 'Did it match what Odin told you?'

Jane gave him a sheepish look. 'I didn't really get started on it before I came here.'

Loki laughed. 'I suppose it's only been a day. And probably rather eventful.'

'A bit.' Not quite a whole day yet, even. 'I've been mostly trying to stay out of the way, but still.'

'And how are you enjoying being the King's consort?' It was said with malice, but a tired sort of malice, as if Loki didn't really want to be saying it.

'Given the circumstances, it feels a lot like waiting for a friend to get out of the hospital.'

Loki relaxed slightly. 'Yes. Even when he's not's unpleasant. Seeing him helpless.'

She smiled wryly. 'It was pretty unnerving even though he stopped and told me what was going on.'

'It makes him seem so old.'

Apparently that was because he was. 'I... see what you mean, yeah,' she said quietly.

Loki sighed. 'Could I look at your notes again?'

'Of course. I did think it was interesting...' She passed them over with a small smile. 'Please excuse all the exclamation points.'

Loki scanned through the notes again, frowning when he reached Buri's theory but keeping reading this time. '...I've never noticed Asgard saying Idunn's name,' he said. 'What does that even mean?'

Jane shrugged. 'My best guess is it's metaphorical and involves poking around the built-in spells, but I'm not assuming. There were so many things I had questions about, I couldn't really get to all of them.'

'Especially when he fell asleep before you could ask them.'

'At the rate they were multiplying, the list might be longer if he hadn't.'

'There are rather a lot. Poking around the built-in spells might answer several of them, but...'

But that wasn't an option for either of them, Jane in general and Loki at the moment. 'Well, maybe eventually. Or I'll try asking him again after he wakes up.'

'That would certainly be quicker.' He looked down at his wrists, but didn't pull at the bracelets this time.

Reliably within my lifetime, Jane did not say. This would be a lousy time to get morbid, on several levels. 'When you get the chance, maybe you can tell me what you find.'

'I will,' Loki answered. 'You'll have answers to share before I will, though.'

'I should get help from you on the questions.' She debated for a long moment, eyes going back to the white fabric, before saying quietly, 'Thor's worrying too, you know.'

Loki looked concerned. 'About the Odinsleep?'

She nodded. 'About both of you, really.'

Loki looked away, smiling slightly. 'I see.'

Jane raised her eyebrows and stamped down firmly on her temper. Thor was perfectly capable of losing his own temper and didn't need her to do it for him. 'Was that what you wanted when you decided to yell at him?'

Loki looked up at her, smile fading, and for a moment he looked blank. Maybe considering. As if trying to decide which expression to wear. 'I wanted to be free,' he said. He looked tired, but earnest, and it was hard to tell if it was real.

She drew a long breath and leaned her head against the back of the chair, thinking. 'Well, I'm glad you've decided that's important.'

'I've never wanted to be bound. I've just had to accept it.'

She shrugged. 'You've sounded a little fuzzy on the subject sometimes.' About freedom being a good thing. Especially on Earth.

'Shouldn't I be? I would have thought you'd be on the side of accepting it.'

Jane turned to look at him. 'I'm on the side of getting out of it by demonstrating you aren't going to do something horrible when you do. I'd really be kind of concerned if you wanted to stay that way.'

'I don't intend to do anything horrible. I really don't have any way of demonstrating that. It's not as simple as having a hammer to lift and that's it.' He tugged lightly at the bracelet around his left wrist and then let it drop. 'I miss having magic. I miss being able to go places, or do things. Especially now I've completely failed at not studying magic until I could use it again.'

Jane winced a little. 'Sorry about that.' The trouble with not intending to do anything horrible, though, was that he still seemed to be having a little trouble identifying it.

Loki waved off the apology. 'It was my idea at least as much as yours.'

'Not going to argue.' Her mouth quirked. 'Especially since, honestly, I'd really rather not be sorry about it. I've appreciated the discussions.'

'As have I. And I'm not planning on stopping them.' His gaze flicked to hers briefly. 'If I'm understanding these notes...then you could have magic of your own. One day.'

That. That was something she had been not-quite-thinking-about. Well, not magic specifically, but the whole strange package. 'In the event of moving to Asgard,' she said, 'yes, apparently that could happen.'

'Would you want to? You made it clear this isn't your home, but it could be. You'd be good at magic. And, there are other advantages.' He looked hopefully at her.

Jane was silent for a long moment. 'It would be a lot to think about.'

'I suppose it would.' He looked down. "And it's another reason to want to know what actually happens, with this, isn't it?'

'It'd probably be a good idea to find out in advance, yeah.' The difference in aging was, if she was honest with herself, a reason she'd sort of been assuming the relationship was essentially temporary.

Loki didn't look up at her. He looked like he was having a debate with himself about something. 'Neither of us can do anything but read about it. But we're not the only magic users in Asgard.' Which was obvious, and probably not why he was looking like he wasn't sure whether he wanted to say something.

'No...' Jane smoothed a hand over the book. She wasn't a magic user and never had been, but that was presumably not the point. Not that she minded reading about it, but she supposed if she could do magic she'd want to learn. Some of it, anyway. She assumed there were areas similar to the biological sciences, where she was entirely content to leave the hands-on part to other people. But she'd hate to have to do that for astrophysics. She waited a moment before adding, 'So where are you going with this?'

'I, um. Frigga actually does have a background in medical magic, among other things.' He picked the notes back up and started shuffling them for a moment, probably just for something to do. 'And she'd probably be willing to help and...and it's less awkward, having a goal and not trying to have conversations about... She's probably not available right now, though.'

Jane couldn't help smiling. 'I bet she will be.'

'Not if she's worried about Odin. She'll want to stay with him,' Loki said quickly.

'She really wants to see you, too.'

Loki put the notes he'd shuffled back in order. 'We should maybe do some research first,' he began, then stopped. 'Would you ask her? Whether she'd help us when she has time?'

'Of course.' She really suspected the answer was going to be yes, how about now? - although if Frigga wanted to start the discussion by Odin's bedside, she wasn't sure Loki would go for it.

He smiled at her. 'Thank you.'

Jane smiled back. 'You know, I could go ask her now.' A slight wince. 'Honestly, I think she could use something else to think about.' Like anything besides whether Odin was going to wake up and the way practically everything else had gone wrong last time.

Loki looked a bit nervous, eyes darting over the paper all over the floor as if it was some kind of comment on his readiness to do anything. But he nodded. 'If she's available,' he said. 'And if any of us know where these spells are that we want to look at without researching them further.'

'I'll hope she does, then,' Jane said. She... really wanted to suggest he just come with her, but she probably shouldn't. 'I'll be back in a little bit.'

She handed him the book and left.

It occurred to Jane about halfway there that she was planning to barge into a king's bedroom - or sickroom, or something like that - to talk to the queen, and she didn't actually expect anybody to stop her.

They didn't. The room was dim except for the weird golden light from Odin's bed, which made her wonder if there was some kind of sunlight treatment involved or it was just a case of Asgard's fondness for random glowing things. Swords tended to gleam white in the dark, which she assumed could be turned off if you had to sneak around but she wouldn't bet on it; gold jewelry for some reason lit up in a warm red; and Odin's bed, apparently, was daffodil-yellow.

Frigga turned and looked up at her, shadows cast in her eyes by the glow. 'Is something wrong?'

'No,' Jane said, startled. 'I was just talking to Loki. He was hoping you'd help explain the transformation spells on Asgard.'

Frigga turned fully away from the bed, though one long sleeve still trailed onto it and Jane strongly suspected she was still holding Odin's hand. The light from the door made her face look more natural, but the hope and cautious joy was almost painful to see. 'Now?'

'Ah, I don't think he'd mind?'

And that was a real smile. 'Then I think his perhaps his father can sleep on his own a little while.'

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 26 of 37

<< Previous     Home     Next >>