Which We Are About to Receive
October 31, 2016
“So, you have…an office?”
“With a desk?”
“And…a plant, or something?”
“In the window, yeah.”
“There’s a window?”
“Two. One looks into where my assistant will sit. If I ever decide to hire one.”
Jane was quiet for a moment, but it wasn’t the worried quiet that she got when Darcy had decided that going on a date with Tobacco Rob was a good idea. It wasn’t the quiet of heavy thinking about quantum mechanics. It wasn’t the sad quiet of Thor-is-gone-oh-my-heart-is-equally-broken-and-infuriated. It wasn’t the quiet that she got when she realized there was an empty plate in front of her and she wasn’t entirely sure what she had eaten. Darcy didn’t think she had heard this particular Jane-quiet before, and it was unsettling.
“Do you…is…do you feel good about this?”
“Jane.” Darcy pulled the car to the side of the single lane asphalt road and put it in park. Vision and Thor had flown on ahead of them, so Darcy took advantage of the one-on-one time with her best friend. She leaned across the console to take Jane’s hands. “I feel better about this than almost anything I’ve ever done. This is…I think this is what I am meant to do, Janey. Like you’re meant to bridge worlds and touch the stars.”
Jane nodded, then her unreadable expression became very readable. It read: I am a shit. “So you’re meant to bridge egos and touch superheros?”
Darcy snorted. “I wish. I got to meet Natasha Romanoff. Jane. Janey. Jane. Listen to me. Look me in the eye, because this is serious. She is hotter in person. The Christian Right better not ever find out, but I think her superpower is to turn straight women lesbian. But in a really powerful, self-actualized way? I wanted to lick her and simultaneously wrest power from the patriarchal hegemony. She was nice too.”
Jane squeezed her hands and smiled. “Does Sheryl know?”
“Are you kidding me!” Darcy turned back to the wheel and started driving again. “The last thing I need is my step mom fangirling all over an Avenger.” They crested a small hill, and their destination was visible just a mile away. “It’s good, Jane. Really good. I only wish you could stay in New York too, but as soon as the band gets back together I’m going to try and arrange my schedule to be out here part-time. If I can.” From the corner of her eye, Darcy could see Jane rolling her eyes.
“You don’t have to babysit me, Darcy. I’m glad for you though. And this is going to be good. Right? Right. I can be around people who can handle it if the Aether gets loose and Thor can do his thing. I think he was getting bored in New Mexico.” Neither of them mentioned that Thor had been more tense of late. His conversations with Heimdall had become more frequent and he had been increasingly thoughtful when he returned from them.
“So,” Jane began again as they pulled into the long private drive to a mid-century modern house, “A plant?”
“Yes. Although I think someone comes in to water it – because I definitely don’t and it hasn’t died yet. Now that I think about it, it might be fake. Yeah. Definitely fake. Huh. It looks really real.”
“It’s Stark Industries,” Jane said pointedly, “of course it looks real. And so does this.” She was staring out the windshield at a small house that was all blackened wood panels and vast stretches of glass. “This doesn’t look new?”
Darcy snorted and opened her door. Jane followed her around to the trunk. “You sound almost disappointed. No, I get it,” she held up a hand to stop Jane’s protest. “You kind of expect it from Tony. But this was something his dad had built. I sort of gathered that Howard had a fling right after he married Maria and this was supposed to be a – what’da’ya call it? Like…”
“A love nest?”
“Ew. Yeah, I guess.”
“I’m…not sure I feel comfortable staying in Tony’s dad’s mistress’ house.”
“She never lived here. Vision says it wasn’t even totally finished – no fixtures or carpet or anything. I guess maybe Maria found out and ho boy – I don’t imagine that went well.”
Darcy handed Jane a bag and took one for herself, leaving most of the heavy things for people who had divine and/or artificially created muscles. The curved front walk was lined with smooth stones and native plants, leading to a wide glass door that pivoted on a steel rod. It was all very Jetsons meets Swiss Family Robinson. The entryway was paved in slate, and had several pale wood steps that led up to a dining area and more hardwood. A door to the right led to an office. “Yeah, so I guess Vision has been getting into architecture? And when he found out Tony had this place he started researching mid-century modernism and its post-modern reboot and Tony let him go nuts. That was before he asked us to move east. And so he added some extras, like equipment and…” Darcy trailed off nervously. She knew that Jane hadn’t been exactly overjoyed about leaving New Mexico. Despite rather prompt delivery of an RV by SI so that Jane and Thor could shower, Darcy also worried her friend was still a little irritated by the whole bathroom demolition debacle. Jane didn’t do so well with change. She ate the same two flavors of cereal and two kinds of poptarts. She had shirts older than some high schoolers, and she never edited research papers without her lucky socks. Moving to the upstate New York Avengers facility was a huge, huge change. But if Jane said no…well, Darcy wasn’t sure what she would do – but she wouldn’t turn her back on Jane.
“Is that an observatory?” Jane sounded like she had tried to eat a cotton ball. Dry and a little suffocated. With a shaking hand she pointed out the garden level windows on the side of the house.
Darcy bit her lip. “Yeah? I know it probably doesn’t have great um, magnification, or whatever. It’s super old. I guess Howie’s girlfriend was with NASA, or something? But Tony said he would order all new equipment and hook you up with remote time at SPT and he said the Hubble people owe him a favor so- Fuck. Jane, are you crying?!” Darcy was legitimately freaking out. Jane never cried. Her boyfriend had disappeared for two years – come back without calling – and the woman had never even gotten misty eyed. Pissed as hell, yes. Drunk, more than once. Teary, no.
“Darcy!” Jane was practically wailing. Her bag fell on the floor and she tackled Darcy in a bone crushing hug.
“Janey,” Darcy gasped out, patting her back fervently, “you have really been eating your Wheaties. I can’t breathe!”
Thor came in then, followed closely by Vision. Once Thor sorted out that Jane was overwhelmed with happiness he joined in the hug. Not followed by Vision. Darcy managed to put off the tour of the little observatory until they had walked through the rest of the house. Thor declared the oversized refrigerator ‘most marvelous’ and the little wood burning stove ‘tiny but efficient’. Jane had made several pointed comments about the size of the shower in the Master Bathroom, which Darcy graciously ignored. Vision seemed reservedly pleased regarding their praise.
Tour complete and the luggage brought in from the car, Vision took Jane to see the current telescope and Thor joined Darcy on the rear deck. It looked out over a large private lake. Far in the distance, through huge old trees, she could make out a two story farmhouse. It was the only other structure along the shore.
“Darcy, I must thank you again for your thoughtfulness and dedication to Jane. In you she has found a most true and stalwart friend. And I could not have hoped for a better Shield Maiden for my lady.”
“Ah, man. You’re pretty awesome too, Thor. And don’t think I’m not your friend also. I mean yeah, the house is basically for Jane – observatories don’t grow on trees, you know? But check out this beach, huh? Plenty of room for a bifrost site.”
“Yes, indeed. You have been most considerate of our needs. As you have since I first met you on this world as a stranger.” He drew himself up to his full height and his earnest gaze became serious. Darcy felt a little tremor of anxiety. “Although I understand you are unable to continue to reside with Jane?”
Guilt, which she had been trying to stave off for weeks, returned with a vengeance. “Well, I’m hoping to be able to make this place a part-time deal. Like long weekends and stuff. But Tony is setting me up with an apartment in the City. And I will need to stay there, at least until we get a better handle on this Accords situation.”
“Yes, of course. It is good that Tony and Steve will have you to guide them through the coming days. Governance and the machinations that often follow in its shadow must be undertaken by one who is not only strong of heart, but wise and clever as well. Although I was schooled in these lessons for many, many years, I feel you have learned them far better.”
“That’s…” Darcy had to swallow and look away. Her eyes were stinging. Probably from the glare off the lake. Thor was always sincere, but to have a thousand-year old god call you smart was kinda overwhelming. “Thank you.”
“You have grown much since we first met, and always I am pleased to see that you hold fast to those things which are important to you, even as circumstances change. I have tried to do this as well, but…as you know, I have failed often.”
“Thor, hey. Yeah, there were things. You could have done better, but most of it wasn’t your fault. Jane gets it. I get it. You love her and have been great since the bifrost was repaired – you were here when she really needed you. That counts for a lot. For everything, really.” She patted his shoulder awkwardly. Awkward only because she had to stretch her arm to its full extension to do so.
“I fear that my devotion to Jane will be tested again. I do not wish to be parted from her, but there are great threats growing among the stars, and it is my duty to meet those threats and overcome them.”
“Are you…” Darcy bit her lip and glanced at the observatory where Jane was no doubt engrossed in optics and computer modeling and other sciencey things. “Have you talked to Jane about this? I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to-”
“Jane and I have had many long conversations regarding this matter. Heimdall and I have spoken at length, as you know, and I have waited as long as I can, but I do not believe the situation can be left alone indefinitely. I must to return to Asgard, and most likely will be gone for a prolonged period while I investigate these matters.”
“Soon. I do not yet have a fixed day, but soon. Perhaps after your Winter Feast. I did not want to commit to planning action until I was certain Jane would be settled here in my absence.”
“That’s…between you and Janey, Muscles. But,” Darcy swallowed again and forced a bright smile. “But try to be careful out there, okay? Don’t let space keep you away too long?”
“I will not let space keep me from Jane, nor my commitments to Midgard, Darcy.” He smiled too, that wide, bright Thor-smile that said the world was a wonderful place full of delights and worth protecting. She sat down on a bench, and he began building a fire in the pit at the center of the deck. The flames soon beat back the chill of the late afternoon and Thor sprawled out to enjoy the heat and the last of the fall foliage.
“I would ask a boon of you, Darcy,” he finally spoke up.
“Anything you need, Thor. You know it.”
“Would you watch over my Jane, while I am parted from her? It is as you have always done, but I would feel better for having heard your oath.”
Darcy looked into his blue eyes, his serious face behind the blonde beard. For all that he was a great pancake flipper and hilarious drinking buddy, Thor was a prince and a god. She couldn’t brush his request off lightly. Searching her brain for anything she had read on the Norse mythology and Thor’s own weird Shakespearean speech, she replied, “I swear it, Thor. Son of Odin and Frigga. Crown Prince of Asgard and Protector of the Nine Realms. I will defend Doctor Jane Foster from harm.” She paused, and then smiled. “And also scurvy. I promise to make sure she eats a fruit or vegetable every once in a while.”
Thor laughed loud and long as the sunset turned the lake to gold.