Continuing Tales

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 6 of 37

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Overlapping Spacesl

Jane very carefully packed up her books and notes, after that. She went to her room, and spent a few minutes shaking. She'd hoped to be calmed down and dressed for dinner by the time Thor showed up. Instead, he came in, took one look at her, and asked if she'd rather stay in.

'You know, that might be good.'

'What happened?'

'Loki. No, not like that,' she said hastily. Thor uncoiled from the sudden tension, and his fingers uncurled from Mjolnir. Jane let out a nervous breath. '...You were happy I was talking to him before.'

'I am glad to see him make a new friend. I am glad if the two of you can get along, and that you found someone who understands your questions...' Jane couldn't help grinning at that, but the smile faded when Thor didn't return it. 'I am also far too aware that he might choose to nurse a grudge against you for things I did.'

'He thinks you tried to kill him,' Jane blurted.

Thor paled, and said, 'I was afraid he really might.'

Jane leaned her head in her hands, pressing the heels of her palms up into her eyebrows. 'I asked him why he didn't want to talk with you. Maybe I shouldn't have. I was expecting something like... siding with Midgard against him, or something.' Except that she hadn't been, not quite.

'That would have been enough for spite,' Thor said unhappily. 'But not, I think, for fear.'

Jane sighed and straightened up in her seat again. 'It was... vivid.' She couldn't altogether shake the mental image of Thor flinging Loki down off the bridge, even though she didn't believe it had happened. At least you don't think I believe he tried to murder you and just don't care. What did that say about her talking to Loki? 'He also blamed you for somebody looking for him.'

'That may be the Chitauri,' said Thor. 'It seems likely they will be angry with him, but they will not have him.'

Jane raised her eyebrows a little. 'Didn't you say they were a really long way off and depending on him for transport?'

'On the tesseract, yes. My father's precautions should be proof against any further attempts to use it remotely, especially without Loki's assistance. It will be a long time before they find their way here, and if they ever do, they will be defeated. I am more concerned that enemies nearer to hand will stir themselves.'

'Jotunheim?' Jane ventured.

'Ah,' Thor said, looking faintly embarrassed, 'perhaps. But it is not very likely. I meant other worlds, or factions in them whose interests would be served if Asgard were to take a lower place. The Norn Queen, perhaps, or some of the elves.'

'Elves,' said Jane. Real elves. She did not quite have the nerve to ask if their political factions included Seelie and Unseelie. He might say yes. 'I can see I'm going to need to catch up on politics here, but I'm not sure I'm up for it tonight.'

Thor looked concerned. 'If it was "not like that" and yet troubled you so, what was it like?'

She sighed and ran her hands through her hair, then leaned her elbows on the vanity table and a moment later felt Thor's larger fingers work their way in against her scalp. 'Mmh.' (That was half thinking and half keep doing that.) 'Well, I tried to be careful about asking, but he ended up ranting in the middle of the library and I'm kind of embarrassed to see his, ah, attendants again...'

Thor snorted. 'You need not be.'

Jane gave him a look, in the mirror. 'I know they run you off, but I'm pretty sure they're just trying to do their job. I'm not actually out to make it harder.'

Thor sighed. 'I know they mean well by it. They may even be right, though being turned away from my brother is a harder lesson in humility than the ones Odin arranged -'

'Harder than being kicked out of your home and dropped on Earth without your hammer?'

A pause. 'It feels harder now.'

That she could believe. 'Yeah, fair enough. Go on.'

Thor leaned over to kiss the back of her neck. 'You may take their "running off" Loki's kin and the crown prince of Asgard as a sign that they would not balk at doing so to you. Their duty is to prevent him doing harm and to safeguard him while he heals, not to demand that he speak only to those without the spirit to question him. When he wakes...'

'They didn't put him to sleep.' He'd been assuming it ended that way all along?

Thor blinked. 'No?'

Apparently he had. Jane shook her head. 'He calmed down. He seems to think everybody believes you instead of him just because you're you and we want to, but he... stopped yelling and seemed to be all right by the time they called him for dinner. Well, sort of all right. You know what I mean.'

'So they never intervened? I think,' said Thor, sounding hopeful, 'that may be a good sign. And I think you may be worrying too much, Jane.'

She leaned back in the chair with a faint laugh. 'Thanks, I think.'

'How did it end, then?' He hesitated, frowning into the mirror. 'Is it that you would rather not go back?'

'We said we'd meet tomorrow afternoon to talk about math again,' Jane said. Thor gave her precisely the sort of doubtful look that Darcy might have over this sort of vacation activity. Darcy might have made a joke about her sanity, too, but it wasn'ther brother in Asgard's version of psychiatric care. She added, 'Ah - if you had something planned already, I'm sorry -'

Thor put his other arm around her, hugging her to him. 'I should not weary you by trying to show you all of Asgard in a month.'

Jane put her head back against his shoulder. 'You do know I'm enjoying it, even if it's a lot to take in.'

Thor smiled. 'Of course you are. It's Asgard.'

She elbowed him lightly in the ribs. 'And the company is nice.'

The smile grew into a grin. 'How much of my company would you like tonight?'

Jane thought about that. Tired, but not that tired. Thor's smile and the heat of him against her back went straight to her jangled nerves and aimed them in a new and more cheerful direction. Confidence really was a turn-on. Thor's definitely made the irritating transition into arrogance sometimes - and his approach to her schedule sometimes seemed like a bizarre mix of tour guide, high-handed prince, and eager puppy - but it also kept him from taking it at all personally if she wanted to change something. Anyway, sex sounded really good, falling asleep on him afterward possibly even better. She twisted around in his arms to look at him directly, instead of his reflection. 'All of it?'

Thor kissed her, swiftly and with enthusiasm, which was exactly what she'd wanted. 'I'll have dinner brought here, then.'

Jane felt a lot better in the morning. Everything seemed easier to deal with, and by the end of breakfast she could tell herself, reasonably enough, that things hadn't really gone so badly after all. She had actually put it out of her mind and was pacing carefully up and down the center of the Bifrost well back from the end, watching the transition of the starscape where the first of the askreisa appeared, when someone called, 'Jane Foster. I wish to speak with you, if you have the time?'

She turned, rather surprised, to see an unfamiliar woman in deep blue dismounting from a horse, next to where Jane had left hers. 'Of course. What about?'

The other woman dropped her reins and came forward. She was several inches taller than Jane - not a surprise - and had long light hair pulled back into a braid. It was touched with grey, and on Earth Jane would have put her in her late forties or early fifties, advanced and successful in whatever she'd done with her life. In Asgard the latter probably held but the age was presumably way off.

'About Prince Loki. I am Holda Birchtudottir,' she added, making the introduction politely. 'I've been put in charge of his treatment and I'm told you've befriended him.'

'Oh.' Oh, great, butterflies. Jane consoled herself that at least she'd had successful professional type right. 'Yes.' She managed not to make it sound like a question. It was not exactly a close friendship and seemed to involve overlooking a few things on both sides - obviously on her side, and apparently more than she'd realised on Loki's - but by this point it did seem to qualify. Feeling she ought to say something else about it, she added, 'He told me how to adjust the language settings in the books.'

Holda looked puzzled for a moment and then nodded. Possibly that hadn't occurred to her as something that needed to be learnt. 'He's been enjoying your company, I think. I was told you were going to meet him this afternoon.'

'We were planning on it.' She definitely wasn't late; it was still the middle of the morning, and anyway it wouldn't make sense for the person in charge of Loki's treatment to come looking for her if she were. Jane hesitated. 'Is there a problem?'

'No,' said Holda, quickly. 'I just wanted to meet you, to be honest. I can't tell you any details where Loki is concerned, but you seem to have had a good effect on him.'

'I wouldn't expect you to,' Jane hurried to tell her. 'We have patient confidentiality on, ah, Midgard too.' At least she assumed that was the basic idea here. 'But thanks.' She tried not to fidget, but did rub the back of her neck. 'I figured he wasn't likely to keep talking to me if he didn't want to, but... I'm no expert and I've been a little afraid I'd screw something up.'

Holda sighed. 'You might be doing more than we are, at present. None of us knew that he believed Prince Thor had made an attempt on his life until yesterday.'

'Thor said he'd made the accusation before on Earth, but he really thought Loki was just trying to provoke him.' She winced. 'He doesn't want to tell you things he assumes you won't believe, does he.'

Holda didn't answer that directly, instead she said, 'He did tell you, though, even knowing you're in love with Prince Thor and that you wouldn't believe him.' She looked Jane in the eyes. 'I'm not here to pressure you, and you have no obligation to spend time with Prince Loki. But I am here to assure you that we'd be happy if you did.'

Jane nodded a little. 'Thank you for telling me.' She let out a breath, then said, not completely sure why, 'When he was on Earth, he mind-controlled a friend of mine. Erik Selvig. Kind of a mentor, really, he was a friend of my dad's. Almost the first thing Loki said to me here was asking about him - how he'd coped with losing the tesseract - as if they were friends and he'd been worried.' She stopped, still not quite sure where she was going with that. 'It was weird. But I'm not sure-' Oh. It clicked, there. 'I'm not sure anything else would have gotten across so well that he had a really different idea of what had been going on.'

Holda looked sympathetic. 'I can see that. How is your friend doing?'

A lot better than Loki, actually. 'He's... getting better. Mixed feelings about the tesseract, actually, so the question made more sense after I thought about it. Sort of. Apparently he built some kind of shutoff into the staff... sceptre... when he was still under the influence, that ended up being used to close the portal to Earth. Makes him feel a little better about it.'

'I'm glad he's recovering,' said Holda. 'And it sounds like he did well.'

'Yeah.' And that was probably about all Holda could say, considering she didn't know Erik. Jane thought he'd appreciate the transdimensional insights, but she might not tell him who helped her track them down, when she got back. 'Anyway... I'll be there after lunch today.'

Holda smiled at her. 'Thank you.' Then she hesitated and added, 'You might find him in a strange mood. Not angry, but...withdrawn.'

Jane paused, not quite sure what to do with that information (warning?), and then offered, 'I wasn't planning to bring up any emotional topics this time.'

'Just don't take it personally if he tries to pull rank on you,' said Holda. 'You won't be the only one today.'

'Ohh. Okay.' Jane managed not to snort, but her smile was a little wry. 'There's been less "thou lowly mortal" so far than I'd have expected, honestly.' She wasn't sure quite how she would take that, actually, if it wasn't part of a rant.

Holda smiled back and shook her head. 'I thought you might appreciate some advance knowledge. It's been pleasant to meet you, but I'd best be getting back.'

'I do appreciate it. Have a good morning.' Jane watched her go, feeling slightly better about the whole thing in spite of the warning, and then turned back to studying the stars.

Overlapping Spaces

A Marvel Movieverse Story
by Khilari

Part 6 of 37

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