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The Balance of Deceit

Chapter Text

It had become a bit of a habit that on Friday afternoon Thor would pass through Bruce’s lab with coffee and pastries from his favourite bakery a couple of blocks away. Neither of them had really acknowledged the routine but had fallen comfortably into it as if it had never been any different.

They’d chat about the comings and goings of their week- it was so easy to talk to Thor, Bruce had found, and he’d grown rather fond of their afternoons together. It had been a quiet time for the Avengers, so opportunities to see each other were not all that frequent.

Perhaps that was why it was so noticeable that Thor hadn’t shown up today. Bruce tried not to think too much of it- after all, Thor had plenty of other more important matters to attend to.

The light outside was fading as the winter sun began to set, signalling that it might be a good idea for Bruce to wrap up his work in the lab. He’d spent the day working with Tony who had gone home an hour or so earlier, but Bruce had remained there a little longer. Perhaps he was slightly disappointed that Thor had not shown up that afternoon.

However, as he was cleaning up and about to switch off the lights and leave, there was a knock on the glass door of the lab.

Thor was standing there, looking apologetic and holding a paper bag in one hand and two coffees in the other, snow dappling his shoulders and cape. Bruce raised his eyebrows and smiled, before opening the door.

‘I didn’t think you’d still show up,’ he said as he let Thor into the lab.

‘And miss our afternoon?’ Thor answered. ‘Never. I was held up a bit today, I apologise.’

He placed the paper bag and the coffees on the counter as he added, ‘You’re missing the first snow in the city, by the way.’

‘You brought some of it with you,’ Bruce said with a grin, nodding to the wet boot prints that Thor had marked through the lab. ‘What did you get us today?’

Thor opened the bag, taking out two brownies. ‘It was all they had left, they were just about to close up shop for the day.’

‘It’ll definitely do,’ Bruce replied as he took a sip of coffee. ‘So, where were you today?’

‘Asgard,’ answered Thor with a mouthful of brownie. ‘For most of this week, as a matter of fact.’

‘Oh? Was it a good trip?’

‘It was alright,’ Thor said with a wry smile. ‘My father is always an… interesting man to visit. He seems to have gotten some strange ideas, however.’

‘Strange ideas?’ repeated Bruce. ‘What kind of ideas?’

‘He insists that I should find somebody to marry,’ Thor told him. ‘He feels that it is high time, and considering that things did not work out with Jane he insists that if I cannot find somebody suitable, he will find someone for me.’

‘Oof,’ Bruce said with a grimace. ‘That’s rough.’

Thor shrugged. ‘Part of me is surprised that it took him this long to come to this.’

‘What’re you going to do?’ asked Bruce. ‘Surely your dad can’t force you to get married, can he…?’

‘Well, I suppose he can’t, but he’ll try,’ Thor answered. ‘I honestly don’t know what to do- it’s rather difficult to find someone to marry on such short notice.’

‘Just pretend to be married, then,’ said Bruce as he took a bite of brownie. ‘It’s not as if Odin visits Earth a lot, right? Can’t you just say you married someone on Earth and leave it at that?’

Thor looked thoughtful. ‘Hm. Perhaps I could.’

‘And then just pretend to get a divorce if you find someone you do want to marry,’ said Bruce with a grin. ‘Foolproof.’

‘And who would you suggest I pretend to marry?’ Thor asked with an amused expression.

‘I don’t know,’ Bruce said honestly. ‘It’s kind of a weird con to be part of, so I doubt anyone will be jumping at the opportunity. Then again, it is you- I’m sure thousands of people would be dying to be married to you, even if it is a sham.’

Thor chuckled. ‘I assure you that that’s not the case.’

‘You’re being modest,’ Bruce told him. ‘Tell you what, I give you permission to use me as your fake husband, if it comes to it.’

‘If it does, I would be honoured to have you as my fake husband,’ said Thor, and smiled before finishing his coffee.

 


 

As the weekend went on, Bruce had almost forgotten the conversation that they’d had. He’d not heard a word from Thor about the matter anymore, and Bruce had assumed he’d managed to solve the problem on his own.

That was, of course, until Thor showed up on his apartment doorstep on Sunday evening.

Bruce had been rather surprised when he heard the doorbell, not expecting any visitors on one of his evenings off. He’d been reading on the sofa, and had half a mind to pretend he wasn’t home. If someone had been wanting to visit him, they should have called beforehand, he reasoned.

Bruce was alarmed at the sound of insistent knocking followed the ringing of the doorbell- a lifetime of persecution only made him wary of situations such as this one.

When looking through the peephole, he was relieved to see the tall, blonde figure of Thor.

 ‘Thor, what’s up?’ asked Bruce as he opened the door. ‘Is everything alright?’

‘Yes! Everything’s fine,’ answered Thor, not sounding fine at all. ‘At least, sort of.’

‘Sort of?’ said Bruce as he led him into his apartment.

‘Yes, well,’ began Thor, walking into the living room before turning around to face Bruce. ‘Remember when we joked about pretending to be married?’

‘Uhu,’ said Bruce. He was already not a big fan of the direction this conversation was going.

‘Well,’ Thor continued, looking at the floor. ‘I may have, uhm, told my parents we’re married.’

Chapter Text

This week had not been going as planned for Thor at all. It was not that he minded visiting Asgard, but the amount of time that he was spending with his father was beginning to weigh on him.

A lavish dinner had been organised for one of his evenings there- his family had gathered, all bar Loki who was once again on bad terms with Asgard. The meal was extravagant and beautiful as ever in one of the palace’s great halls, and Thor appreciated the sense of familiarity of the place and people he was surrounded by.

However, across from him sat Odin, stoic as ever, his single eye focused on Thor as he spoke.

‘I understand you enjoy Midgard,’ Odin was saying. ‘But I would suggest an Asgardian as a suitor, considering the lifespan is one that compliments your own. It simply makes more sense.’

‘That is not necessarily true,’ countered Thor. ‘Many humans that I know have increased lifespans through some mutation or genetic difference- but that’s not important. What is, is that this sudden need for me to be married is ridiculous.’

‘It is part of conveying a powerful message to our people,’ said Odin. ‘About the importance and power of the ruling family. And that you will continue this family, and provide a powerful line to the throne-‘

‘So this is about children?’

‘And status,’ Odin said. ‘Surely you have been raised to understand the importance of appearances for us, Thor.’

Thor sighed irritably but remained quiet. It was not uncommon for him to disagree with his father, and yet it angered him how Odin was too stubborn and set in his traditions to ever change his mind.

Odin continued in his same stoic demeanour. ‘I have selected a handful of suitors whom I wish for you to meet- you may be surprised to find someone you could spend your life with.’

‘I already have someone to spend my life with,’ said Thor suddenly, without thinking properly.’

‘I beg your pardon?’

It was not Odin, but Frigga who spoke this time. She’d remained quiet for most of Odin’s scolding, but now looked at Thor in surprise.

‘Yes, I married someone from Midgard,’ continued Thor, attempting to sound confident. ‘I kept it to myself, knowing that you-‘ he looked at Odin- ‘would not approve.’

Odin’s narrowed his eye. ‘To who are you married- Jane Foster?’

‘No,’ said Thor. ‘To Bruce Banner.’

A hush fell over the room.

‘Well,’ said Frigga, breaking the silence. ‘I have to say that I am disappointed that you did not tell us sooner- however, I suppose we must celebrate it here in Asgard.’

‘In Asgard?’ repeated Thor.  

‘It is custom,’ rumbled Odin.

Thor thought about it for a moment. ‘What if we don’t want to celebrate it here?’

‘Why would you not want to?’ asked Odin. ‘Did we not just discuss keeping up appearances? If you are married, our people will want to celebrate it.’

‘I-‘ began Thor, realising that he was slowly digging himself a rather deep hole. ‘I’ll have to discuss it with Bruce.’

This did not seem to please Odin in the slightest.

‘Remember what is expected of you,’ he said simply.

Thor nodded, returning to his meal. He was not looking forward to the oncoming conversation with Bruce.

 


 

That is how Thor found himself in Bruce’s apartment, standing in front of him in his tiny living room, just having told him that his parents now thought they were married.

Bruce stared at him, stunned. ‘You’re kidding.’

‘I’m afraid I am not,’ said Thor guiltily. ‘And I realise that this is a ridiculous situation and I shouldn’t have told them that, but it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and- well, here we are.’

To his surprise, Bruce laughed. He laughed.

‘So you’re saying,’ said Bruce, a grin still on his face. ‘That I am currently the great Thor Odinson’s fake husband? That’s- well, that’s insane.’

‘That’s not all of it,’ said Thor with a weak smile. ‘My parents insist on celebrating the occasion in Asgard.’

‘Wait- seriously?’ Bruce exclaimed. ‘They bought it?’

‘Yes, unfortunately they did,’ Thor replied. ‘Look, this is all absurd- I should go back and tell them, I shouldn’t have bothered you with the likes of it-‘

‘Wait, hold on,’ Bruce interjected. ‘This is Asgard we’re talking about, right? The weird place with the magic science stuff that we humans know nothing about? And they want to throw us a party?’

‘Yes,’ said Thor. ‘That’s right.’

Bruce looked thoughtful, pacing to the window of the apartment and looking out onto the snowy streets of New York.

‘Okay, here’s the thing,’ he eventually said, turning back to Thor. ‘I’m immensely curious about the technology Asgard has, and honestly, I don’t really want to pass up the opportunity to visit it.’

‘…Really?’ said Thor, a little astounded.

‘Well, yeah,’ said Bruce. ‘It’s a physicist’s dream come true- and it’s just a party, right?’

‘Right,’ said Thor.

‘So how bad could it be?’ asked Bruce. ‘We pretend to be married, I get to see some cool science stuff and we all have a ball and go home and pretend to divorce next year or something. Your parents will get off your back, I get a cool experience not a lot of humans get to see.’

Thor was taken aback and walked up to Bruce.

‘Banner, this is a lot to ask,’ he said. ‘Granted, it would help me immensely, but I don’t want you to do something you’re not comfortable with.’

‘I’m offering!’ replied Bruce. ‘Besides, you Asgardians seem to be a lot more capable of handling the Other Guy than here on Earth- it might be nice to not constantly be terrified I might accidentally hurt someone. And it’s not like it’s real- I can handle a party in exchange for seeing a place I’d otherwise never get to see, and I don’t mind helping out a friend.’

‘You would really do that for me?’ asked Thor.

‘Sure,’ said Bruce. ‘It’s only for a short while, anyway, and the world seems to be doing okay without too much Avengers intervention at the moment, anyway.’

Thor grinned. ‘We’re really going to attempt to pull this off, then- fantastic. I hope you’re prepared to meet my parents.’

‘As prepared as I can be,’ answered Bruce with a slight laugh. ‘So, when do we leave?’

Chapter Text

Bruce was far from done with packing. The trip shouldn’t last over a week, Thor had assured him, and they could return to Earth anytime if necessary, and yet he was still unsure what to put in his little blue bag that was lying open on the bed in front of him.

‘Should I bring a suit?’ Bruce asked Thor, who was standing in the doorframe of his bedroom waiting for him to finish up.

‘What kind of suit?’

‘A fancy suit,’ said Bruce. ‘Like, for special occasions.’

‘Well,’ Thor answered. ‘I honestly would not know what would be custom for this- I suppose you could take it with you, but I would also not be surprised if you’re put in some Asgardian attire.’

‘Hm.’ Bruce stared at the closet and then sighed and closed the suitcase. ‘I’ll leave it at this, then.’

‘We’ve not really discussed how we’re going to go about this,’ Thor commented.

‘In what sense?’

‘Well,’ Thor said, walking up to the bed. ‘We need to act like a married couple, don’t we?’

‘Right,’ answered Bruce. ‘We need to set some boundaries.’

‘We do,’ Thor agreed.

‘Well, holding hands seems like a pretty safe thing, right? And hugging of course- that’s barely even romantic.’

‘And… kissing?’ asked Thor, sounding hesitant.

Bruce thought about it for a moment, crossing his arms.

‘Well,’ he said after a moment. ‘I guess that’s an ‘only if necessary’ kind of situation. I mean, how many married couples go around making out in front of everyone, anyway?’

‘Fair point,’ said Thor. ‘Alright, only if necessary.’

‘If we need to look convincing,’ said Bruce with a slight grin. ‘God, this is a weird situation we’re putting ourselves in.’

‘It is,’ said Thor with a short laugh. ‘Are you ready to go?’

‘I think I am,’ Bruce answered. ‘Or, as ready as I’m going to be, at least.’

 


 

Bruce wasn’t sure what to expect when he stood next to Thor who had raised Mjolnir to the sky and said something that he hadn’t quite caught, but he had definitely not expected a tube of light to suddenly appear around them and transport them up into the sky.

Though it wasn’t as if things like this surprised Bruce anymore.

A moment later, they were in a golden dome of some sort- Bruce turned around to look at a vast array of stars that he could see through one side of the dome. It was incredible. He’d seen the milky way from Earth when it was dark and the sky was lit up, but nothing was comparable to this.

Already, this trip was exceeding his expectations.

Tearing himself away from the view, he saw that they were not alone in the dome- Thor was talking to a rather handsome man dressed in gold armour.

‘Banner,’ said Thor. ‘This is Heimdall.’

‘Pleasure,’ Bruce said with a polite nod, almost feeling guilty for turning back around and sneaking another glance at the sky.

‘Asgard is eager for the celebrations,’ said Heimdall. ‘It seems to be turning into quite the event.’

‘Yes, we’re excited too,’ Bruce heard Thor reply. ‘Right, Banner?’

‘Right,’ Bruce said, facing the other two again with a smile. ‘Very excited. This- this is amazing already.’

Thor grinned at him. ‘Wait until you see the rest of the city.’

He led Bruce out of the dome, on to a massive rainbow-coloured bridge, and without much warning wrapped his arm around Bruce’s waist and launched them into the sky with Mjolnir.

It was a sight to behold. The rainbow bridge was only the beginning of it all- beneath him spanned a city of golds and silvers in front a backdrop of mountains, as if Bruce had suddenly entered some fantasy world that people only experience in books.

They landed on a cobblestone pavement in front of one of the golden buildings, and Thor smiled and raised his eyebrows at Bruce.

‘Was it worth it?’ he asked.

Still a little overwhelmed with the planet in general, Bruce could only nod, looking up at the golden building before stupidly adding, ‘Uh, you can’t call me Banner.’

Thor frowned. ‘What?’

‘You need to call me Bruce,’ said Bruce, still taking in his surroundings. ‘Banner’s too impersonal, now that we’re married and all.’

Thor snorted with laughter but nodded. ‘You’re right. Bruce it is.’

Still in awe of Asgard, he almost didn’t register Thor walking into the building and quickly walked in after him when he realized he was still standing outside by himself. It was just all so luxurious- Bruce was sure he had never seen such a well-tended city in his life.

Thor was talking to someone in the grand hall of the building, before turning to face Bruce with a slight grimace on his face. Bruce gave him a questioning look, and Thor signaled with his head to follow him- Bruce quickly walked after him.

‘So it seems,’ began Thor once they were out of earshot of the hallway. ‘That we’ve been given- well, we’ve been given the bridal suite instead of my own quarters.’

‘We- oh,’ Bruce said. ‘Well, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by that.’

‘No, I suppose we shouldn’t be,’ agreed Thor with a small smile. ‘I had just not thought about it properly, perhaps.’

He led them down a series of hallways, all marbled or decorated with gold and silver with high ceilings. Bruce wondered if this was the palace, or some other royal section of the city.

They stopped in front of a pair of ornate doors that Thor opened to reveal a massive living space. Bruce was certain he’d stayed in apartments that took up less space than the bedroom area.

To the right, there was a sitting area with a chaise longue and a sofa with a large window that looked out over the city. There were doors there that led to what Bruce presumed were more rooms or closets.

To the left was one of the largest and most comfortable beds that Bruce had ever seen. It was a four poster bed made of dark wood with crisp, fluffy sheets, and Bruce couldn’t help but walk over to it and fall face first into it.

He heard Thor chuckle behind him.

‘You know,’ said Bruce, propping himself up on his elbows to look back at him. ‘I know this is all pretty weird, but at the moment I definitely don’t mind being married to you.’

'I'm glad,' Thor answered. 'Because we still have a couple of days to get through.' 

 

Chapter Text

Thor was not bad at sleeping, but last night he had slept like never before. When he woke up, he’d almost forgotten where he was, and turned to his side to see that Bruce was next to him.

His curls were sprawled over the pillows and his eyes were still closed, the crisp blankets gently rising and falling with every breath. Thor smiled to himself. He was still surprised about how willing Bruce had been to go along with him- then again, he’d never had a fantastic time on Earth, maybe Asgard was a good break for him.

He had half a mind to wake him up, but then decided to leave the scientist asleep a little longer and slipped out of the bed, trying to make as little noise as he could.

After getting dressed into his attire for the day, Thor left the room with as little sound as he could and entered the hallways of the palace. It was strange being here with a guest from Earth- the last person who’d come here with him had been Jane, under vastly different circumstances.

It was early enough that the halls of the palace were relatively quiet. Without much of an aim for the day, he walked through the place that he had grown up in. How different it felt now; he felt more like a guest than anything, without even having the opportunity to stay in his own quarters as he was used to.

 Thor was still lost in his owns thoughts as he walked them but was abruptly pulled back out of them when he saw a flash of something out of the corner of his eye.

Turning around, he frowned and peered through to the shadows behind the pillars. There was definitely somebody there, and hiding like they were only made Thor uneasy.

‘Who goes there?’ he called, and the shadow shifted as Loki stepped out into the light.

‘Oh,’ said Thor. ‘It’s you.’

Loki smirked. ‘What a way to greet your long-lost brother.’

‘You always seem to be long-lost, I’ve gotten used to it,’ Thor replied. ‘What are you doing here? I thought you were in hiding again.’

‘I am,’ said Loki, sauntering up to Thor. ‘But Heimdall doesn’t mind me visiting every now and again- especially now, regarding this momentous occasion.’

‘Ah, so you’re aware.’

‘Aware and surprised,’ Loki told Thor. ‘Because I somehow do not recall you ever dating Bruce Banner, let alone getting married.’

‘It all happened rather fast,’ muttered Thor.

‘And on top of that, I know that humans are into their celebrity gossip, and yet I have not heard a peep about this,’ Loki continued, raising his eyebrows.

‘We’ve kept it under wraps,’ said Thor. ‘For exactly that reason.’

‘Hm.’ Loki did not look particularly convinced, much to Thor’s annoyance.

‘Will you be participating in the festivities, then?’ asked Thor, eager to escape Loki’s scrutiny.

‘I fear I won’t be welcome,’ Loki answered. ‘Though I’ll most likely be about. I’m curious to see how this… plays out.’

Before Thor had the chance to say anything else, Loki smirked and turned around, walking back into the shadows. Thor took a few steps after him before realizing his brother had disappeared.

Typical. Loki had a flair for theatre that Thor would never understand.

However, he could not help but wonder after his talk with Loki that maybe they weren’t being as subtle as he hoped. They would have to be able to be convincing in front of the eyes of Asgard- as well as its leader.

Then again, thought Thor as he turned and walked back to the suite, Loki did know him better than many others. He was, of course, an expert in deception- maybe he recognised himself in Thor’s little plan. Hopefully the rest of the people would be easier to convince, so that Thor could move on and get through this week without a hitch.

Once he was back at the suite, he noticed that there was an envelope that had been fastened to the door. Thor reached over, taking the paper and opening it up as he walked into the suite.

Inside, Bruce was still in the bed, but he seemed to be stirring slightly. His head popped up from under the sheets, and he looked towards Thor with a sleepy expression.

‘I think that’s the best sleep I’ve ever had,’ he said with a slight smile. ‘Are you sure you only want to stay here for a week?’

Thor snorted with laughter, before focusing his attention towards the letter that he was holding. It was a single card, decorated with swirling patterns between which there was a simple but elegantly written note.

You are cordially invited to the opening gala to celebrate the union of Thor Odinson and Robert Bruce Banner.

An invitation. Thor should have expected something like this.

‘They’re throwing a ball in our honour,’ he told Bruce, who was now sitting up in the bed.

‘Oh?’ said Bruce. ‘That’s uh… exciting, I guess?’

‘Yes, I was wondering what they had planned for us- I could’ve expected something like this,’ replied Thor as he walked up to the bed. Bruce swung his legs over the edge of the bed, running a hand through his hair.

‘When is it?’ he asked, and Thor glanced back down at the invitation.

‘Tomorrow,’ he replied. ‘So we’ll be able to go over how we handle it all.’

‘Are you nervous?’ asked Bruce.

Thor shrugged in a non-committal reply. He wasn’t nervous- a little sceptical, perhaps.

‘We can always call it off,’ said Bruce. ‘If you’re not comfortable with it.’

‘I have a feeling we’re in a little too deep now,’ said Thor with a slight grimace. ‘It’ll be fine, I’m sure.’

Bruce smiled and nodded, before getting to his feet.

‘We’ll be amazing,’ he assured Thor, touching his arm as he walked past the god. ‘We’ll dazzle them with our whirlwind romance.’

Thor grinned back at Bruce. If he was able to keep up such a positive attitude over the situation, then so could Thor.

‘Yes,’ he agreed. ‘We’ll be fine.’

Chapter Text

 

Bruce looked at himself in the floor length mirror in the bathroom of their suite. The robes that had been sent to the door looked ridiculous on him, he decided- most likely because he wasn’t as tall and beautiful as all the Asgardians seemed to be.

They were embroidered with purple and gold- rather fitting, if it wasn’t for the fact that they were just slightly too long for him. This was ridiculous, Bruce decided, as he flapped the ends of his too-long sleeves. This whole thing was ridiculous.

He felt this his rather spur-of-the-moment decision to come here should have been a little more… thought through. But being on Earth was claustrophobic and leaving had never been an option until now.

But now, standing in his floor-length, fancy Asgardian robes, Bruce couldn’t help but wonder what the hell he had gotten himself into.

It was then that Thor poked his head in. ‘Does it fit?’

‘Sort of?’ responded Bruce, turning to Thor and pushed up his sleeves.

Thor smiled at the sight, before stepping into the room, dressed in a similar set of robes with red detailing himself- however, his fit perfectly. Of course it did, Bruce thought.

‘You look fine,’ Thor assured him. ‘Now let’s go meet my parents.’

Bruce grimaced. This was, without a doubt, going to be the most difficult part of the whole night. If they could navigate themselves through the meeting without a hitch, then surely the ball would be a breeze.

 


 

Odin was imposing, to say the very least. As Thor and Bruce walked through the elegant, golden double doors, there Asgardians on either side of the large ballroom, watching the pair enter, but Bruce’s eyes were immediately drawn to the platform at the far side of the room.

There, sat in elaborate, throne-like chairs, were Odin and Frigga. Frigga smiled as they entered, but Odin did not look as pleased at all.

Not that Bruce had ever been particularly good at impressing parents. Why had he agreed to do this again?

As they walked up to the platform, Thor took Bruce’s hand, giving it a squeeze.

‘Mother, father,’ said Thor with a smile as they paused in front of the platform. ‘I present to you Bruce Banner, my husband.’

Present? thought Bruce to himself as the two gods eyed him. Like a trophy?

Odin merely narrowed his eyes, while Frigga spoke; ‘It is lovely to finally meet you, Bruce Banner. Thor has told us a lot about you.’

Bruce, unable to handle the sudden scrutiny, did not know what to say- if he should say anything at all- and merely smiled and nodded politely.

A moment later, music began playing and Bruce felt a hand on the small of his back as Thor led him to the side, away from the platform.

‘Is that it?’ asked Bruce. ‘That’s all that meeting your parents was?’

‘Well,’ said Thor. ‘It’s highly likely that we’ll be invited to some sort of banquet with them- they cannot really interrogate you in front of all these people.’

Thor nodded at the crowd that was now moving away from the sidelines and into the center of the room- the party seemed to have begun. Bruce cast his eyes over the impressive space. The ceilings were impossibly high, held up by pillars snaked with golden designs.

The beautiful, tall Asgardians fit the space so well, and Bruce couldn’t help but feel that he’d walked into some kind of fairytale that he definitely did not belong in. Bruce looked to his side, at Thor who did not look much happier than he did, which definitely did not settle his nerves. Thor looked across the room to where his parents were sitting, and Bruce reached over, giving his hand a squeeze in a half-hearted attempt at comfort.

Before he could say anything, Thor turned to Bruce and said, ‘We should dance.’

‘Dance?’ repeated Bruce. ‘As in- together?’

‘That was implied, yes.’

‘I can’t dance,’ Bruce told Thor. ‘I’ve never danced.’

Thor smiled slightly at that. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll lead. I just think it might look good.’

Bruce looked around in hesitation. There were a couple of people waltzing across the floor, and Bruce could already imagine himself tripping over his robes and falling in the midst of them.

‘It’ll be fine,’ Thor assured him. ‘It’s easy.’

‘Fine,’ muttered Bruce, but forced a smile- looking as anxious as he felt was not going to help their little charade at all. With a grateful smile back, Thor took Bruce’s hand, leading him into the dancing crowd.

It took a moment before Bruce found his feet, but it helped that Thor was steady and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. Bruce was rather impressed.

He watched Thor as they waltzed over the floor- Thor’s eyes were nervously flickering towards the platform where Odin and Frigga sat.

‘Are you alright?’ he asked in a low voice, and Thor nodded with a quick smile.

‘Yes, I’m just… a little worried,’ he answered.

‘About what?’ asked Bruce, glancing around the room. Most eyes were on them, he noticed, but they looked happy at watching the two of them dance. Thor merely shook his head in reply and fell quiet and they continued to move through the space.

A moment later, Thor said in a quiet voice, ‘Will you kiss me?’

‘Uh-- what?’

‘You don’t have to,’ said Thor quickly. ‘But I think it might help.’

Bruce didn’t quite know what to say to that, and instead nodded stupidly. The song ended and they slowed their pace, and Thor leaned in close, his hand under Bruce’s chin.

For a moment, Bruce forgot to breath.

Thor’s hand was placed ever so gently on his neck as his lips met Bruce’s. Bruce brushed his hand over Thor’s cheek as they parted, feeling a little dazed.

‘Thanks,’ murmured Thor. ‘Hopefully that was convincing.’

Bruce cleared his throat, his cheeks reddening slightly as he nodded.

‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Uh, I’m sure it was. It was uh, a good kiss.’

Bruce was terribly aware of how flustered he sounded, but Thor didn’t seem to be paying much attention, and was instead looking over at his parents again. There wasn’t much reaction from them, not that Bruce could see, anyway.

Thor guided them back to the sidelines, and for a moment Bruce felt weak in the knees.

He cast his eyes over the crowd, at the platform where Odin and Frigga sat, and back at Thor, looking elegant and handsome as ever, surveying the ball before him.

God, Bruce was in a lot deeper than he had thought.

Chapter Text

Thor realized that he was drunker than he thought he would be after the ball. Both him and Bruce were walking back to the suite, his arm slung casually around Bruce’s shoulders. A fatigued quiet had fallen between them, and Thor was attempting to process the night’s events.

It hadn’t gone badly, in the end- but he had been quite worried about it all, nonetheless. Also, he couldn’t help but feel a nagging guilt about tricking his parents. Then again, they had brought it upon themselves, had they not?

‘What,’ Bruce said suddenly. ‘The hell was in that drink you gave me?’

‘The ale?’ asked Thor. ‘Nothing special, why?’

‘Because I feel as if I’m about to fall over,’ answered Bruce with a crooked smile. ‘Can’t be normal.’

‘It’s Asgardian,’ Thor told him. ‘It wasn’t made for humans- maybe I should have thought better than to give it to you.’

Bruce chuckled, and they reached the suite. Thor opened the door and walked in, heading to the little lounge area, glad to finally be rid of the constricting robes he was wearing.

Bruce was right behind him, and let himself fall onto the chaise longue. Casting his robes onto the back of the sofa, Thor stretched and yawned.

‘You know what’s not fair?’ said Bruce, his eyes going over Thor’s now-bare chest. ‘I have to constantly hang out with these super buff and handsome superhero types.’

‘That’s not fair?’ asked Thor with a grin. ‘A lot of people would consider that a privilege.’

‘Not if you’re average looking,’ replied Bruce with a snort of laughter.

‘You’re not average looking,’ said Thor with a frown.

‘I most definitely am.’

‘You’re not,’ repeated Thor.

Bruce gave him a strange look that Thor couldn’t quite interpret, before pulling himself to his feet.

‘I’m going to bed,’ he told Thor. ‘Before I fall asleep here.’

Thor nodded, and followed him to the bedroom, where he stripped down to his undergarments and got into the bed, watching Bruce wrestle himself out of the robes with a slight smile on his face.

Finally, Bruce got into bed next to Thor, sighing when his head finally hit the pillow.

‘The room’s spinning,’ he muttered. Thor nodded in silent agreement.

Bruce turned to his side. ‘It’s still spinning.’

Thor laughed softly, and turned to his side so that he was facing Bruce.

‘Tonight was good,’ Bruce murmured, his eyes closed. ‘And terrifying. But mostly good.’

‘It was,’ replied Thor. A quiet fell between them for a few moments, and Thor closed his eyes, listening to Bruce’s breath even out.

‘Bruce?’ he asked in a quiet voice. There was no reply.

‘You’re beautiful,’ Thor mumbled. He was pretty certain that Bruce was asleep, but part of him still hoped that he heard him nonetheless.

 


 

It was difficult waking up the next morning. Rolling over to his side, Thor opened his eyes, watching the daylight stream in through a little gap in the curtains, before rolling back over and closing his eyes again.

‘Morning,’ came a greeting from next to him, and Thor opened his eyes to see that Bruce was sitting up in bed, book in hand.

‘Morning,’ mumbled Thor, pulling the covers over him a little more.

‘How’re you feeling?’

‘Alright,’ he said. ‘Just still tired, I think. How are you up and about so early?’

‘’S not early,’ replied Bruce with a smile. ‘But I always wake up early when I drink.’

He put his book down, throwing the covers aside.

‘They brought us breakfast,’ said Bruce as he got out of bed. ‘Want me to bring it to the bed?’

‘Yes, why not,’ Thor answered, and sat up. ‘Was there an invitation to some other event as well?’

‘No, were you expecting one?’ asked Bruce when he returned with the tray of food.

‘Well, perhaps,’ Thor said. ‘As I said yesterday, the ball can’t possibly be the last of it.’

‘Hmm.’ Bruce placed the tray on the bedside table- a spread of fruit, bread and cheeses and various jams had been delivered to their front door.

‘Hopefully that means we’re free today,’ said Thor. ‘I should show you around Asgard, bring you to all the sights. It’s what you’re here for, anyway.’

‘Yeah, that sounds good,’ Bruce replied. ‘Though I am having a pretty good experience without even having to leave the palace- I mean, who has platters of cheese and fruit brought to their front door for breakfast?’

‘And you haven’t even been to one of our banquets,’ said Thor with a slight smile. ‘Just wait until you have the full experience.’

‘I can’t wait,’ said Bruce, has he sat back down in the bed, handing Thor a plate and taking a sip of his own tea. ‘What do you think your parents think of me?’

Thor shrugged. ‘I honestly could not tell you. I’ll speak to Odin today, and hopefully get some more information out of him.’

Bruce snorted with laughter. ‘Sounds as if you’re going on some kind of recon mission.’

‘Honestly, it sometimes does feel like that with him,’ said Thor with a grin. ‘He prefers to be imposing and quiet. Though he will not hesitate to let me know if he does not approve of you.’

Bruce grimaced. ‘Aren’t dads the best.’

‘We’re already supposed to be married, of course,’ continued Thor. ‘So there is not much he can say, really.’

‘And if he really hates me,’ said Bruce, helping himself to some bread and jam. ‘We can always tell him the truth.’

Thor chuckled. ‘Perhaps. Did you enjoy last night?’

‘I don’t know if enjoy is the right word,’ Bruce answered, leaning back into the pillows. ‘It was a little bit terrifying.’

‘I agree,’ said Thor. ‘Though by the end it felt a little more relaxing.’

‘That’s because you’d had ten tankards of whatever the hell they were serving,’ said Bruce with a sly grin. ‘Not that I blame you, I’d do the same if I were introducing someone to my parents.’

‘We should try this out on your parents next and see what they think,’ said Thor, returning the grin.

‘That’ll be a little difficult considering they’re not around anymore,’ said Bruce as he took some more fruit from the platter. Thor felt a sharp pang of guilt in his stomach.

‘Oh, sorry, I did not mean to-‘

‘Hey, it’s okay,’ Bruce assured him. ‘I didn’t say that to make you feel bad.’

‘Still, I am sorry,’ said Thor.

‘It’s okay,’ said Bruce again, looking down at the cup in his hand. ‘Come on, we should get ready, you’re going to show me Asgard, right?’

‘Right,’ said Thor, putting on a smile and getting out of bed.