Brooding 26

When Thor arrived at Jane Foster’s apartment, escorted by a small contingent of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, he was confronted at the door by a rather upset Jane demanding answers. He explained that he had been compelled to deal with the aftermath of Loki’s invasion, taking his brother back to Asgard immediately to be judged by the All-Father, and that he had known Jane was safe thanks to Phil Coulson’s arrangements. It mollified Jane enough that she invited him into her apartment. The agents remained outside; though it irked Thor that they did not leave altogether, he had more important matters on his mind. He wished to ask Jane to come to Asgard with him but did not know how she would respond to his request.

“So,” Jane began while nervously putting things away, “why are you here now? Has everything been taken care of?”

“Well… it’s a… complicated story,” Thor hedged. “Loki had some… unfinished business, in a manner of speaking, with one of the men he had captured…”

“Oh, he came to apologize? That’s nice,” Jane said with a hint of sarcasm.

“No, not exactly… Uh… May I sit?”

Jane nodded and cleared off the cluttered table. She had only been given a few hours’ notice that Thor was on his way, so she had not been able to finish cleaning the entire apartment. Thor took a moment to gather his thoughts.

“Just after I was banished from Asgard and sent here to Midgard, Loki found out that he was… adopted. That he is not even Æsir, but a… a Jötun. We call them the Frost Giants, for they are large, and they live in the realm of Jötunheim. My father had found him as an infant during the last war and brought him home to be his son. I did not know of this until after I returned to Asgard. I had always believed him to be my true brother…”

An image of Loki as a child, scampering around the columns in the great hall as Thor chased him, came to his mind. Loki had loved having fun, even if it meant breaking a few rules, and Thor had been right there with him – if he hadn’t instigated the trouble himself. Thor could practically hear Loki’s giggles echoing in the large space, see Loki’s smirk as he turned back to see how much distance he had placed between himself and his less light-footed brother. Thor could almost reach out and grab Loki’s tunic.

“Well… that explains a lot, doesn’t it?” Jane said, breaking into his reverie. “I mean it explains why he could try to kill you in cold blood, if he knew you weren’t his real brother.”

“Yes, I suppose it does… although just because we are not related by blood, does not mean he is not my brother. For all his faults… I still loved him. He… He was the only brother I had.”

Jane nodded sympathetically. “Until he turned psycho and tried to take over the Earth.” She considered Thor’s information for a moment. “Is that pretty typical behavior for his people? Or is he just a psychopath – a deviant who doesn’t or can’t feel empathy for other people?”

“Perhaps a bit of both,” Thor conceded. “I’ve always been told the Jötun are a dangerous and cruel race of monsters, but even so, I do not think they would betray their own family without cause. But I do not know for sure. All I do know is… Loki was not the person I had believed him to be.”

“Wow. That must have been hard for you to find out.”

“It was,” Thor replied, meeting Jane’s concerned gaze. “Although, as you say, it became slightly less painful to think that my own brother had attempted to kill me, knowing he was not my brother by blood… But it was harder to realize that I had no brother. He fell into the Void soon after I returned to Asgard, and we all grieved for him as one lost to us… we thought him to be dead. So when Heimdall saw him here on Earth, working mischief towards some unknown end, we were shocked and horrified. I was sent to retrieve him at once… but you must know how that turned out.”

Jane nodded again. “I watched the Battle of New York on television. It was incredible. But I was glad to see you were helping the Avengers.”

Thor allowed himself to indulge in a smile. He knew better now than to be smug about his conquests, but he felt justifiably proud to have helped defend Jane’s realm.

“It was an honor to fight alongside them – some of the finest warriors I have met.” Thinking of them reminded him why he was here to start with. “One of them, Clint Barton, is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but Loki had captured him and bent his will to obey him… along with Erik Selvig, as you know. Clint was disenchanted by force during one of our skirmishes, returned to his right mind in time to assist us in fighting, but… he had been under Loki’s control for days before his rescue. And, apparently, uh…” Thor cleared his throat, struggling not to blush, “during that time, Loki… had uh… had made Clint… share his bed.”

It took Jane a moment to comprehend what Thor had just said. “Oh! You mean… not because they couldn’t get two rooms at the hotel or… anything like that.”

“Exactly.” Thor swallowed and tried hard not to think of Loki, naked, in Clint Barton’s arms. He failed. “They were… lovers.”

“Oh… God, that must be… awkward.”

It was Thor’s turn to nod. “It would not have been so bad, except… Loki’s Jötun body… held a few secrets… none had suspected. He has both male and female organs… or at least, a few female organs.” Knowing that there was no delicate way to reveal it, Thor blurted out, “Loki is now pregnant with Clint Barton’s child.”

Jane’s jaw dropped at the news. “That’s… Oh, my God… That’s… That’s…”

“Yes.” Thor sighed. “It shocked us all… but it explained why Loki had become so ill recently. He is better now, and… we came to Midgard to tell Clint. Although he would not have expected it, either, I thought he had a right to know.”

“Well, yeah… It’s his kid, too,” Jane agreed. “So… how did he take the news?”

“Better than I thought he would. In fact, he seemed… rather pleased to know he had sired a child.”

“Well, that’s good. The baby is going to need at least one stable parent.”

Thor understood what Jane was implying, but it gave him pause. Loki had been quite subdued since finding out about the child, and even his stubborn insistence that Clint not be told was understandable, considering the circumstances. His relief when Clint had full-heartedly embraced the responsibility of having a child – as well as Loki himself – had been palpable to Thor as he sat beside him. The god of thunder had wondered what sort of parent Loki was going to be, and now he thought his brother might turn out to be a rather good one. If the care and concern Loki had expressed for the child’s happiness were any indication, anyway.

“I think… between the two of them, the child will be well cared for,” Thor said aloud. “My mother is thrilled to be having her first grandchild.” Reminded of Frigga’s parting comment, he blushed to the tips of his ears. “She, uh… She is hoping… that this one… would not be the last.”

Jane turned to see Thor flushed crimson and embarrassed, his hands clenched together under the table, and realized what he was saying.

“Oh! Oh… yes. Grandchildren. Yes, of course.”

“Yes?” Thor asked, a little hopefully.

“Ah… that is… yes, I’m sure she would enjoy having… grandchildren.”

“Oh. Yes. Very much so.”

“Mm-hmm.” Jane suddenly stood up. “Would you like some coffee?”

“Ah… That’s… That would be nice. Thank you.”

While Jane searched her cupboards for the coffee, Thor took a deep breath. It was the moment of truth.

“Jane…”

“This isn’t the best brand, but it’s not too bad,” she prattled as she rinsed out the pot.

“Jane.”

“We’ll get some of the good stuff tomorrow…”

Jane.”

Thor stood behind her and turned her to face him, holding her shoulders gently in both hands.

“I came to ask you… to come to Asgard with me.”

She stared up at him, mouth agape, for a moment. “You… You mean… now? Like, right now?

“Today… or tomorrow, perhaps… But yes. I must return Loki to his cell; this was only a temporary reprieve for him to tell Clint Barton in person. When we depart… I would like, very much, if you would come with us.”

Jane thought she might have forgotten how to breathe. She glanced around the kitchen, taking in the dirty dishes and the piles of printed data she had been working on. “I… I can’t,” were the first words out of her mouth. “I… I’m working on this research, and I’m almost done with it, and… oh, my God, Thor… I… I’m so sorry!”

Feeling as though he had been punched in the stomach by The Hulk, Thor attempted to smile but it came out as a grimace. “I… understand. It was too much to ask of you.”

“No, I mean… It’s very sweet of you, and I’m flattered – very flattered – but I’ve got so many things going on right now, and…” Jane looked up at him, desperately hoping to make him understand. “I just need some time! To… tie up loose ends, you know? And… think about it. Really, really think about it. Because it’s not like I’m just… moving to Europe, or something. It’s a pretty big decision. Huge.”

Thor nodded slowly. “Yes, of course. But I would not have asked you this if I did not think… if I could not promise you, a good life in my realm.”

“Okay.” Jane fidgeted for a moment, then took a deep breath. “Let’s just call it a rain check, then.”

“A… what?”

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