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*

Jane is a quiet sleeper.

He watches her, ponders her, as he tucks the blankets across her shoulders when she shifts. The stars, different from those he knows so well from home, gleam down upon them. The sand smells of sun, even in the dead of night. Thor leans back in the chaise – uncomfortable, strangely flexible, made of what had she called it? Plastic? – and stretches his hands behind his head. His gaze shifts from the sky to Jane, back and forth, as if in a strange tug of war.

His father is dead; his banishment is permanent. The hammer will not allow his possession of it at this time. There is little other than blunt fact and disappointment turning in his mind, a mourning for Odin combined with an ache for home, and the sensation of failure, all quite new.

And yet – he looks to Jane, to the fall of her hair across the nape of her neck, the slow rise and fall of her shoulders as she breathes. There are kinds of strange to discover, and different kinds of fates for even the gods to uncover. Jane dreams and constructs her realities on science and wide imagination; he could use some of her spark, her cleverness. And even more so, there is something in the way she looks at him, how she smiles at him –it is as Erik said earlier, perhaps. All Thor has come to realize is that she flips some sort of switch within him, gives him a heavy warm sensation in his stomach, a tremble in his fingertips. He, the mighty Thor, shaking for a mortal woman – his warrior family would scoff, would scorn.

Thor smoothes the blanket over her arm where she lays. She makes a soft sound and turns into the curve of his hand, an instinct that warms him through.

It is not all lost, to be stranded here. Perhaps, he could make something of it.

*

Jane wakes before the sun fully rises. The sky is just turning pink at the eastern horizon. It’s strange to see a Migardian sunrise; Thor glances up on instinct, wondering of Heimdall, of Loki, of his fellow warriors – do they see him, think upon him?

“Oh Jesus,” she mutters, sitting up and blinking. Her hair is mussed, catching at the corner of her mouth and at her eyelashes. He can’t help but stare. He has never seen a woman quite like so, so unadorned and mussed. Even the Lady Sif, in all the mess and bloodshed of battle, is always in control of herself. But Jane is no immortal, no warrior of the typical mold.

“You may sleep again, if you would like. I will keep watch,” he says, voice low.

Her cheeks color, but she keeps his gaze. “No, no. I – I usually don’t sleep all that much. Just not usually – you know – here,” she says, a little sheepishly.

He smiles slightly, sitting up and resting his elbows on his knees. “You were quite safe, Jane.”

“Yeah,” she says, tucking her hair behind her ears. “Yeah, I think I was.”

The moment is heavy between them, her gaze bright and cleared of sleep. There is a strange yearning in his hands, a longing to touch the curve of her mouth and the fall of her hair. He has not felt an urge so keenly since when he was first presented with Mjolnir. The skies turn pearly-orange and pink with the rising of the sun ahead of them, a new day.

“You can stay here, you know,” she says abruptly, voice light.

“Oh?” he says, the word catching. He remembers the evening before, late night promises to an earnest protective man over Boilermakers.

“Well, it doesn’t seem like you have anywhere else to go,” she says evenly. The pale new light sinks against her hair, brightening it to a glow.

“You hardly know me, though,” he says skeptically.

She flushes but tilts her head, mouth set determinedly. “I don’t know about that.”

Silent, he watches her. She hold her notebook, the precious scratching of years of research, close to her middle, eyes fierce and mouth set. He is born of a world full of destiny and fate and the overreaching powers of the gods, and yet he thinks he has never truly felt the power of such things until this day, this moment, on Midgard.

“You are kind,” he says at last, rising from the creaking contraption of a chair. He holds out a hand to her, which she takes. “I will consider your gracious offer, Jane.”

She smiles as he helps her to her feet. The blankets collapse around her, swallowing her ankles. “Great! Good. Great,” she says. Her hand fits well in his, he notices.

A new day, indeed.

*

Thor thinks to only stay another day, or two. His late-night promise to Dr. Selvig seems to be lost to the other man in a sea of beer and other lost nights, but he understands more than any of them what kind of liability he may become. Any day, perhaps, his enemies will realize where he is, and his weakness, and then Jane and her friends will be at risk for harm. In the mornings, he wakes up too early and thinks to leave before the others awaken, to spare them all the awkward departures.

But he does not. He stays, day after day and night after night, in the makeshift quarters Jane prepares for him in the back room of her research lab. After five days, Darcy takes him shopping for more of these denim jeans, as she calls them, and shirts.

“God, you’re just a bunch of barrels, aren’t you,” she says, voice a little too appreciative for public.

He throws her a little narrow look, mouth turning down. Darcy throws up her hands, eyes wide behind her glasses. “Hey, just stating facts, dude!”

She takes the pile of jeans and shirts from him and hustles them over to the counter, pulling out a shiny card of plastic – yes, plastic is the name of this malleable, useful material used so often on this world. He remembers Jane’s voice as she explains the small intricacies of the town to him, another late night on the roof just the two of them. For some reason, Jane believes (or pretends very well ) the truth of his arrival, his true home of Asgard. He wonders how he has earned that trust so soon.

“So, you’re sticking around,” Darcy says as the saleswoman adds up their purchases.

Looking on in mild fascination, he nods absently. “Yes. As long as Jane will have me.”

“That could be a while,” she murmurs.

“Ms. Lewis – “

“Well, you gonna get a job anytime soon? To help out? She’s covering all of this stuff right now, you know. And stories about other realms doesn’t put coffee in the pot,” she says, wagging her eyebrows. The loose waves of her dark hair shake in their long tail at the nape of her neck as she moves.

“A – a job?” he repeats, dumbstruck.

“They don’t have jobs in your country?” she asks dryly.

Blinking, he thanks the saleswoman and takes the bags, adjusting their weight as they walk back into the pleasant desert sunshine. “What kind of job would you think best for me?” he asks after a moment.

Darcy glances him over as they walk. They pass Isabel sweeping the stoop outside the diner, and he nods and says hello; since returning her coffee cup to her, they have gone for a meal at least once a day for the last week, and he has grown to admire much about her. Many of the Midgardians in this little hamlet have introduced themselves to him, and greet him upon passing on the street. He knows this is not the whole of Midgardian society, but he likes it here.

“If the bar was hiring, I’d say you could be a bouncer. You’re a beast, you know.”

“I have no idea what you mean,” he says truthfully, catching her elbow as they cross the street towards the laboratory.

Darcy laughs, punching him in the arm. “Weirdo. All right. Well, I’ll look around for you. One of the local farmers might need some help.”

Later, on the roof with Jane, Thor hands her a fresh mug of coffee as she sits by her telescope, and settles next to her on the lounge chair.

“Jane, what is a bouncer?”

Choking on her coffee, Jane stares at him. “Oh god. What did Darcy do?”

He shakes his head, rubbing his broad palm over his neck. “She had suggested I try to engage some form of employment for myself, if I am to remain here.”

Jane watches him with guarded eyes, her small hands wrapped around her coffee mug. Steam rises into the cool night air, dissipating in front of her eyes. “Have you … worked before?” she asked hesitantly.

Mouth curling, he leans back in his chair. “Not as such.” He has given her a clipped version of his life as a prince of Asgard, with just the details necessary to speak on other realms with her. Dr. Selvig has said more to her without him, he knows this; the heavy tome of Midgardian Norse tales lingers without explanation in the kitchenette of Jane’s trailer. Whether she believes any or all or some of it, she doesn’t say and he doesn’t ask. It’s enough that she listens, and lets him stay.

A small smile plays on her mouth. She leans her elbows on her knees, hair pulled back in a loose bun tonight. Strands of honey-brown hair fall across her throat and cheeks with the breeze. “A bouncer is a person who works at a bar who helps with the security of the place. Makes sure no one gets too crazy. That kind of thing,” she says at last. “You would probably be good at it.”

“Then perhaps tomorrow, I will go and see if they are hiring,” he says determinedly.

She tilts her head, watching him. “You don’t have to,” she says softly.

“I will not be a leech upon your goodwill,” he says firmly.

Her smile touches him deeply, sincere and bright. “Okay then,” she says.

That night, he tells her of Loki and Sif, the cutting of Sif’s golden hair. Jane listens as she sketches star patterns, mouth soft and eyes wanting. He finds excuses to touch her hair, her arm. It is all quite forward, but she only leans into his hands and flushes around her smiles. He cannot stop, the heavy yearning there in his middle.

*

The barkeep, a balding, portly gentleman named Ricky, has no openings. But he does direct Thor to one of the local farmers, Miguel, in need of assistance on his land. Miguel lives just outside of town, the other side from where Thor landed. He is a young man in his late twenties, inherited the farm from his father, and has just had a baby girl with his wife Arianna. There are irrigation trenches and pipes to put in around most of his farmable land; it’s a difficult, thankless job.

Thor takes one look around the small farmhouse, the baby crying in the living room, Arianna trying to soothe her, and accepts Miguel’s offer. He will make little; only eight dollars per hour. It means nothing to Thor, as he intends to give it all to Jane and Darcy and Dr. Selvig. What he does look forward to is the use of his hands again, of the strength and stamina still his. This world is heavy on his skin and bones, but he is still nearly a god among men; he would have his uses.

The work is hard, but soothing. He feels the different muscles in this mortal form tighten and strengthen and stretch, across his back and in his arms. His skin darkens from the sun, day after day. Jane forces him to put on a lotion called sunscreen, an odd name. But it keeps him from turning red, as one day Darcy does when she sits out on the roof of the laboratory on her day off and ignores Jane’s warnings about sun damage and cancer.

A month passes like this; Thor feels as if he is sinking into some sort of normalcy, and it fits around him, as his old armor used to. At night, he meets Darcy and Jane, and sometimes Dr. Selvig, at either Isabel’s for dinner, or for a drink at the bar. Ricky pours heavily, but Thor drinks little. He shows them home to their trailers, and settles down in the borrowed cot he now thinks of as his night after night, and thinks of Asgard a little less each time.

Saturdays and Sundays are his days off; he spends them with Jane. She takes him out to the impact site one of them, to analyze if any of the markings are changed. He stands at the edge of the circle, peering up into the skies. They are clear and cloudless today, a hard blue. Pushing up the sleeves of his cotton shirt, he tips his head back and sighs.

“I hope all is well, Heimdall,” he murmurs. Jane is a ways away, scribbling furiously into her notebook.

His hand curls inward, fingers into his palm; the itch for Mjolnir is there for the first time in days.

Then, he looks at Jane, wind-swept and red-cheeked, and he feels something else entirely; there’s a strange pressure in his chest, an ache unrelated to the work of his days, the digging and lifting. She walks towards him, mouth set and chin high.

“Erik thinks I’m crazy to believe you,” she says as she nears him. Her small fingers curl around her notebook, her most prized possession.

They’ve had this conversation before. He knows it’s her way of talking out the problem now, not a questioning of his believability. She is steadfast in her faith in him, as sure as she is about science and the night sky. “Sometimes, I believe you are strange to believe me when it sounds so unbelievable,” he says with a smile.

She grabs at his wrist, small fingers cool and soft against his tanned wrist. “Gravity and orbits were unbelievable once upon a time, too,” she says, staring up at him. “You can’t get back on your own, can you?”

He bites his tongue. There has been no mention of his banishment, of his father’s passing, of Loki’s ascension. He does not want her to know of his foolishness; when he looks back now on his reckless action, all he feels is shame. For all she knows, it was an accident that he fell to Earth.

But Jane is smarter than that, the most clever woman in this realm, he thinks. She knows better.

“No. I cannot,” he says at last.

Her gaze narrows. She pushes the hair from her face, nodding resolutely. “Then I guess there’s even more of a reason to make this work. For both of us,” she says.

The drive back in her van is quiet. He watches her unabashedly, watches the color rise at the tops of her cheeks. For him, she would press onwards. He wonders if there is something of equal value he could do for her. In this form, with this mortal body, he thinks not.

*

A week later, he cuts his hand so deeply on a shovel that Miguel drives him to the doctor in town. He needs seven stitches; he has never seen such rudimentary practices before. It hurts like hell, like the burn of frost on his skin from Joutenheim; Thor turns his face to the wall and grits his teeth on a groan.

Miguel drops him off at the laboratory, the afternoon sun hanging high in the sky. Wispy clouds settle in the skies, gauzy white and blue. Through the glass windows, he can see Jane bent over her tables, the makeshift laptop and graphs in lieu of her materials still in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s possession. He would like to get them back for her. The memory of Mjolnir’s immovability under his sure hand haunts him; he is still unworthy. Perhaps he never was worthy, but by birth alone.

She looks up as he enters, injured hand held near his chest protectively. “Oh my god!” she exclaims, rising.

“I am quite all right. Just a scratch,” he says. “But I cannot return to the farm for a few days, to let it heal.”

Blinking, she pulls a chair up next to her stool. “Well, I could use the company.”

Smiling, he sheds his light jacket and sits, peering over her paperwork. “I still understand very little of your writing.”

“It’s a part of the grad school training: illegible handwriting,” she jokes.

He knows snippets of her life before New Mexico; years and years of school, more than he would ever volunteer himself for; the death of her father, another brilliant scientist; her mother in California, remarried and content. Darcy has told him of the Donald fellow, a man who clearly did not appreciate what was right in front of him. For so long, it has just been the skies and stars for Jane, her only constant. Just as battle and a warrior’s life was his only life, so she has been single-minded.

“I was never a great learner,” he says at last. His hand aches and hums with pain, a reminder of the mortality that weighs on his shoulders now. “That was always Loki.”

Her gaze flickers to his. “Your brother?”

“Yes,” he says. He speaks little of Loki, except when regaling her with the adventures had with the Warriors Three. Their shared childhood, their shared pressures and individual jealousies, he speaks not of; it brings up the memory of Loki visiting him in captivity, bringing word of their father’s death, the permanence of his banishment. It seems a lifetime ago, truly. “He is clever, too clever sometimes, and smart.”

Jane sets her pencil down and looks at him. “And he has your place now, in your home,” she says.

“I imagine so, yes,” he says, voice low.

Her mouth twists. She rucks up the sleeves of her blue and red plaid shirt, resting her elbows on the table. “Is this the first injury you’ve truly ever had?” she asks. It is just them in the lab; Darcy is out, and Dr. Selvig has returned to New York for the week.

He sets his hand on the table, looking at the thick white bandage, remembering the sting of anesthetic, the needle in his skin. “Of permanence.”

“Because there are healers in Asgard,” she says. It is the first time she’s said the name of his realm.

Blinking, he meets her gaze. “Yes.”

Wetting her lips, she rests her chin on her palm. “Do you feel different?” she asks.

“Are you asking for your research?” he asks in return, voice light.

Jane lowers her gaze for a moment. “No,” she says quietly. “I’m asking because – well – “

Her face is flushed pink, her eyes too bright. Abruptly she reaches out and takes his injured hand between hers, cupping it gently. The touch of her skin against his is like a shock, hot and startling. He feels as if in the tunnel to her world once more, all light and white hot heat.

“Those Norse tales are interesting,” she says, a strange shift of topic.

Brow furrowing, he tilts his head. He cannot follow her train of thought; usually, she is hardly so off-kilter.

“They say –well, in the stories here, it says you are married to the Lady Sif,” she says, meeting his gaze.

He blinks, mouth slightly ajar. “That – that is not our relationship as I have known it to be,” he says slowly. “She is my friend, my companion, a warrior in arms. Our hearts have never moved in such a way towards each other.”

“I only ask because – it could take a long time, to get all the calculations right for this,” she says after a moment, voice even. “And you – you are a mortal. The passage of time will affect you, and I – “

“I have thought on this, Jane,” he says, covering her hand with his uninjured one. Their hands sit entwined on the cool tabletop atop scattered paperwork. “I have accepted this fate, if it is to be mine permanently.”

Jane’s gaze darkens, settles on his face. The ache in his chest strengths, his heartbeat rattling in his chest. His breath is coming faster; a strange warmth rises to his skin. He thinks of how she is in the slow quiet of her few hours of sleep a night, of the light in her eyes as she speaks of equations and formulas that are another language entirely to him, but that sound sweet from her lips. There is this town that welcomes him, the farm he works with his fellow farmhands day in and day out, the warm grins and ribbings from Darcy that remind him so of his warrior companions.

“This would be a good life. A worthy life,” he says after a long moment, and means it.

Her fingers curl against his. “Wow,” she says.

He leans forward, his brow nearly touching hers. “Jane, may I – “

She stops his mouth with a kiss, soft and warm and lovely. There is the lingering taste of coffee on her tongue, with the mint toothpaste he has grown familiar with. He closes his eyes and kisses her in return, the ache in his chest settling there, comfortable and sure. His hand thrums dully with pain. With Jane here, fitting against his mouth and his chest as they rise and move through the open lab so perfectly, he doesn’t care.

Somehow, they stumble out the back doors and to her trailer. He barely fits in the doorway, but all that matters to him is her, the wide smile on her face, the determination in her eyes, the lengths of smooth skin revealed as they shift to her tiny bed. He is all tan lines and sharp edges still, after a month of farm work and little else. Her hands find all the lines and spots to make him shiver, make him groan and forget himself and his aches and pains. In turn he smooths his hand over smooth skin, her sharp elbows and the curve of her stomach. Her mouth is never far from his; they are too close in her small bed, the trailer all but moving with them. But when she says his name, low and like she’s discovered the secret of the universe, his hand between her wet thighs, he doesn’t care for space.

*

A new pattern emerges. Once his hand heals, Thor goes back to Miguel’s farm. Arianna sends him home with an apple pie one day. Leaving half for Darcy, he and Jane share the rest on the roof that night, curled up together on one lounge chair underneath the blankets. He spends his nights in her trailer now, whispering to her in the tongue of Asgard as his hands and mouth map the secret spaces of her skin. She traces constellations on the wide expanse of his tanned back and shoulders, pushes the hair from his eyes, bites at his collarbones. She leaves marks that linger into the morning; he looks at them in the mornings and smiles.

Dr. Selvig returns and immediately senses the shift. Jane is all smiles, helping Thor with breakfast in the mornings. Darcy waggles her eyebrows and pokes fun. Selvig is full of tight smiles and drawn gazes. Thor will cross that bridge when it presents itself. For now, he is content to be with Jane as she wishes, as they both do. He was not lying when he said he could be content. There is some kind of a future here, with her; he would be happy to see it through. When she curls up to his shoulder in the nights, her breathing even against his neck, he strokes his hand through her hair and sends a thank you to his companions above, for this chance here.

It has been two months since he arrived. The irrigation work is done; Miguel sends him away with one last payment of cash, and a promise to come into town for a meal at Isabel’s with Arianna and the baby. There is something strange in the air as he drives home to Jane, a taste like ozone and the sharpness of magic. The hair on the back of his neck rises.

When he arrives home, Jane is waiting alone on the roof, glued to her telescope.

“Something interesting up there?” he teases as he comes up behind her. The cash from Miguel is already slipped under her pillow. He thinks she gives it to Darcy (unpaid internships and whatnot), but at least he doesn’t feel as if he is leeching off of her. He wants to give as good as she does.

Jane bats her hand at him as he cups her hips in his broad hands, kisses the top of her head. She is so compact, so small in the breadth of his shoulders. Dust settles over the town, the open plains of sand surrounding them; the light is purple-gold-blue, streaked with orange. A sudden longing for Asgard strikes him; he remembers the colors of light, of the skies there.

“Something is different,” she murmurs, even as she leans back against him. “There’s been a shift in the spatial positioning since a week ago.”

Thor strokes his hands up and down her sides, across her belly. “The skies move as this realm does. You told me that yourself, did you not?” he says, proud to have remembered.

She turns in his arms, curling her fingers into the chest of his shirt. The cotton crinkles under her fingertips. “Not like this,” she says, voice excited. “I should stay up all night and – “

Leaning down, he picks her up against his chest and kisses her. His tongue touches her lips and she sighs against him immediately, all warm skin and curves in his arms. A cool breeze sifts through their hair; he holds her closer, as her arms wrap around his middle, her mouth opening to his.

“Not tonight,” he murmurs against her lips.

“Why?” she breathes, fingertips digging into the tense muscle of his back.

He can’t explain it, the need to keep her close. Instead, he kisses her and stretches her out on the blankets spread out on the roof floor, careful to avoid her notes and the telescope. She moves against him restlessly as he kisses the line of her neck, unbuttons her shirt with care, touches the soft warm skin of her stomach with his mouth. Every part of her he marks with hands and lips, leaving the imprint of his humanity on her own. There is a heaviness in his stomach he cannot release, even as he moves in her and kisses her until he sees sparks and stars behind his eyes and she’s moaning low and breathlessly, her hands hard against his shoulders.

After, the breeze cooling their bare damp skin, she lifts her head from his shoulder and brushes the hair from his brow.

“Something’s wrong,” she says softly.

“I believe so,” he replies, too low.

That’s all they say. She leans in and kisses him, sad and slow. His hands map the groove of her spine, the wave of her hair at the ends. There is a scar that lingers from his accident last week; she trails her lips over it, and it becomes hers.

*

In the morning, as the four of them sit down to breakfast and coffee, the earth shakes under their feet. It rattles the cups and plates, and sets Thor on edge immediately.

Thor and Jane look at each other from across the table. Bright yolky sunshine stretches across the tile floor through the glass, the air cool.

“Earthquake?” Darcy asks, sipping her coffee.

“No,” Thor murmurs, setting his fork down. He rises from the table, and goes out into the street. Jane is close behind him, her hand at his back, hovering.

“Something’s here,” she says softly, watching as four figures stride through the main street of town.

He reaches back and takes her hand in his. The door opens and closes behind them, as Selvig and Darcy join them. “It’s all right,” he says, as the Warriors Three and Sif take shape. “It will be all right.”

The reunion is brief; they come because the strangeness of Loki’s behavior is too much to bear, and Heimdall has sent them to fetch him. When Sif, all long warrior limbs and fierce eyes, tells him of his father’s continued survival, the truth of Loki’s betrayal strikes Thor as deeply as any blade. Jane makes a small sound behind him, and he finds himself reaching for her, her hand in his.

The Destroyer comes, setting ruin to the town. Thor dispatches Jane, Darcy, and Selvig to evacuate everyone, as Sif and the Warriors Three distract Loki’s tool of destruction. There is despair in his heart; how can he defeat this creation? He is all blood and bone and breath now; the scar on his palm, red and white, reminds him too strongly of that. Everything is dust and sand; he gathers his broken compatriots to him, as Jane and the others hurry back, and tells them to run.

“Run?” Jane repeats, crouched by the lab doors with him. “I’m not leaving!”

“You must,” he says, cupping her face in his broad palms. He did much the same to Sif not moments ago; but there is a warmth here, a solidity and an understanding borne of something else entirely here. “Jane, please – I will be right behind you.”

The lie is bitter on his tongue. She grasps him by the collar and kisses him hard and fast. It feels too much like goodbye. Then Selvig and Sif are there, pulling her away to safety as she calls his name. Thor rises and turns to face the destroyer, face the brother he thought he knew so well, as he knew his own soul.

Here, the weight of the living sits the heaviest. He watches the spiral of his life flash past his eyes as he flies through the air from the impact of that metallic fist. The mortal bones crunch under impact, the blood there in his mouth. He has known nothing like this before in any battle; yet this is the most vivid of all. The ground is sandy and gritty under him, damp from the blood seeping from his open skin. His eyes are starkly open; he sees the fields of Miguel’s farm, the dusks and dawns of Midgard, and Jane, always Jane. Her voice echoes in his ears, the touch of her hands on his skin. Mortality claims him, a prince of Asgard.

It was a good life, he thinks fuzzily. His eyes close on Jane’s tearful, crumpled face.

*

“What was it like?”

From his seat in the library, where he sits night after night, in an effort to feel closer to those lost to him on Midgard, Thor looks up at Sif. She lingers in the wide doorway, still in her armor from the day’s training. There are defenses to shore up, new recruits to train. Since his return to Asgard, he has fallen into more somber habits; defense and protection are his priorities now, not glory and bloodshed. The Bifrost is broken by his own hand, by the return of Mjolnir, and there is little to distract him from the loss of both Loki and Jane in one fell swoop.

“What was what like?” he asks, setting his book aside. Asgard is purple-gold skies and spires through the tall glass windows, familiar to him in two worlds. Sometimes he feels he is of two minds now. His brush with mortality has left an impression.

“Dying as a mortal,” she clarifies, her dark hair swinging across her shoulder as she steps from the doorway inwards. “You did, did you not?”

“Indeed,” he says. He still thinks he can taste blood in his mouth, Jane’s tears on his lips.

“And?”

“And – “ he pauses. There are tender spots lingering, even weeks after the fact. In these moments, when he is not busy with plans and strategies and training circles, he misses Jane the most.

“I had a life there, of a kind,” he says after a long moment. “It was saturated and specifically mine. Losing that in the space of a breath was a crippling moment.”

Sif smiles slightly, standing just near enough for her to reach out and touch his shoulder. “I am sorry we did not come for you sooner. We did not know – “

“Please. No apologies are necessary,” he says quietly. “I regret nothing.”

“Nothing?” she questions.

“Nothing,” he says firmly, meeting her gaze.

Wetting her lips, Sif squeezes his shoulder gently. “It is still pleasing to have you here once again,” she says before she leaves him as quietly as she arrived, her boots echoing on the marble floors.

Thor looks down to his hands. In one palm, the white-shiny remnants of a scar remain.

*