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A Culture Of One's Own

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  There were many things Thor had to adjust to about living on Midgard. People on Midgard seemed to believe that things were obvious when they were in fact not, and they got upset when Thor didn’t know these things intrinsically. 

  During his first visit to Midgard, Thor made many follies, including breaking a mug in complement to the fine drink he was served, wearing too few clothes when in the company of others, and making a rather crude joke about Jane’s friend Darcy. Immediately, he was met with abhorrence, and in a few cases, disgust. He tried to be better about it, but there were things that just weren’t talked about. 

  For example: Asgardians lived far longer than mortals, which caused some confusions. When Thor first found out how old Jane was, he had to leave the situation, so wracked with guilt for feeling any measure of attraction to her, only to find out later that thirty-three was actually an ideal age to be having relations. In the back of his mind, he’d known that age on Midgard was different, but it had been very hard indeed to decondition himself from his old ways. But right as he thought he’d begun to understand the way age worked on Midgard, he greatly offended friend Tony by insinuating that Peter was his bed-partner. “Um, no?” Tony had said, putting down his most recent project to actually look Thor in the eyes, condescending. “Peter’s still a kid. Thor, that’s not something that’s just okay here.”

  Thor hadn’t known how to explain that on Asgard, it was common to have men as young as 900 as bedmates, despite outward appearances. They had 900 years to mature and learn how to consent, so it was perfectly just. He had just forgotten that things were different here. 

  So many things were different, but some things weren’t different enough. In a bout of loneliness one night, Thor used the Google to see if anything was different in regards to relations of non-blood related siblings, only to find that it was just as scorned on Earth as it was back home, if not more. He laid back and cast a thought out to Loki, imagined how they would sneak together in the halls, how Thor would tangle a hand in his hair and pull it back, exposing his neck and making him smirk. It had been a filthy secret then, and now it would remain the same. 

   Another instance of Thor’s misunderstandings happened one evening, though this time he managed to keep quiet and just observe. He and some of the other Avengers were sitting out watching a movie, and Steve was on the smaller couch with his lover Barnes. The couch was small, but somehow Sam managed to shove his way into the space between Steve and the armchair, throwing an arm around him possessively and asking what movie they were watching. Thor raised his eyebrows— he did not realize Steve and Barnes’ courtship extended to Sam— but stayed quiet. After, in private, he congratulated Sam on the accomplishment, and was immediately corrected. “Thor, you can’t date more than one person at a time. I mean, I guess you could, but that means you’d have to keep it a secret, and then it’s just wrong.”

  Thor nodded, feeling instantly repentant. Maybe he’d had one too many glasses of mead, and that was why he couldn’t find it within himself to keep his mouth shut. He apologized, and Sam went on his way. 

  Thor spent a lot of time watching Steve and Barnes after that. It wasn’t because of them, per say, but because of their relationship. Thor tried to imagine it: utter commitment to one person, and one person only. Dating a person, and being a abstainate aside from what they are willing to give you. Being forbidden from loving your brothers in arms; being forbidden from celebrating with a gentleman or lady of the night; being expected to limit yourself, for the rest of your life, to one person and one person only. It was sad, and Thor wondered if that was the reason these Midgardians had such a hard time staying married. It was an absurd commitment, and he would never understand, but he tried to respect it. 

  It was still hard, however, and he was lonely. He kept thinking about Lady Sif, and her brutality after a good fight; Fandral, and his cocky smile as he removed his armor; and of course Loki. It all came back to Loki. Everything about him drove Thor wild, from the way he bit his lip to the way he brushed his hair over his shoulder, gaze smoldering. 

  But Loki had made his choice, and Thor couldn’t very well break him out of his prison. He was there for a good reason, and to put Thor’s own desires in front of the sanctity of his newfound team would bring great dishonor indeed. So instead he let his imagination trail along golden roads, pale plateaus of skin…

  One movie night, he is the last to leave. The lights are mostly off, and the tv screen casts a faith blue glow on his surroundings. He knows he should go to bed, but his mind has been elsewhere all night, and the ache of his loneliness is nearly unbearable. It’s all he can think about, and he fears what he will do if left alone in his quarters, so instead he doesn’t get up, doesn’t turn his head, doesn’t blink. One day, things will be better. One day…

  There is a gentle patter of bare feet on the floor, and without thinking Thor turns just enough to peer over the edge of the couch. Instantly, he relaxes, knowing this is no enemy. The figure is wearing soft, loose clothes, and has loose curly hair spilling over one shoulder. Thor knows it is not Loki, but the image is painfully familiar, and he can’t help but smile. 

  “Can’t sleep?” Wanda asks, voice soft and quiet as she walks around the other side of the couch to join him. She sits on the same couch, pivoting her legs to the side so she can face him. Her knees are so close to his they almost touch, and Thor finds himself relishing in it. 

  “I can’t seem to forget,” he says honestly, giving her a soft, sad smile. “Right now, Midgard is where I’m meant to be. But that doesn’t make the melancholy go away.”

  Her lips seem very, very soft when she smiles, and Thor finds himself rapt in her beauty. She is from Sokovia, and her features are minutely different from everyone else’s that he finds himself staring. Her eyes glimmer in the low light, and he can see the lightest smear of makeup under them, relics from a long day that’s come and passed. Her skin is faintly tinted blue from the glow of the tv, and it just makes her features darker, more alluring. 

  If she knows his thoughts, she doesn’t show it. She looks at the floor and recounts, in her lovely rolling voice, “I understand. I’m better off here, but there will always be a part of my soul left in my home.”

  “Your losses were great,” Thor says in sympathy, thinking back to the Battle Of Ultron and all it entailed. “And I’m very sorry for your brother. If there was anything that could be done to change fate, be assured that I would do everything in my power to keep him safe.”

  She’s looking at him again, features somehow softer. “Thank you. That’s very… kind.”

  “Hardly.”

  They fall into silence for a while. Wanda rests her head against the couch, her fingers dancing along lazily, glowing just the slightest bit red. Thor watched in a daze, imagining hands so slender and similar, the glow of dark magic. 

  “No one tells you what to expect,” Wanda is saying, and Thor can barely hear her. “And then one day you wake up and you’re alone. You never realize how quiet the world is until you’re the only the only one left.” 

  Her hair is dark in the poor lighting, and Thor knows better. He does. But he is very tired, and both of their bodies are relaxed and at ease, so he lets his hand go where it wants, and brushes her hair behind her ear. She doesn’t show any signs of discomfort, actually leaning into his touch like it’s the first good thing she’s felt in too long. She is no longer smiling, and as he watches, her dark eyes dart down to his lips. 

  He knows Midgard has different customs, but in the dark of night he is finding it very, very hard to care. If they were on Asgard, she would be plenty old enough. He has seen her fight, and knows the level of maturity needed for that kind of decision. And here she is, relaxed, consenting, and he should stop, he knows he should stop, this isn’t allowed… but for the life of him, he can’t remember why. 

  She moves closer, and this time her knees actually do brush his. She’s wearing loose shorts and a large t-shirt, and when he touches her waist she takes it as invitation to climb over his legs, straddling him. He pulls her closer, so they’re almost chest to chest and he can feel her breath, feel her thighs a little lopsided on his own. 

  “Sometimes this tower gets too quiet,” she whispers, and he couldn’t agree more. He brushes his fingers across her cheek, and she ducks down, leaning into him for a kiss. He holds the back of her head as their lips brush, not trying to control, just wanting to feel. The hair is soft and light at the nape of her neck, and her lips taste like pastries and wine, sweet and savory. He wants to taste all of her flavors, wants to learn what’s her lips taste like bitter, or— sweet Hela— salty. There is so much he wants. He wants to feel her skin against his, wants to feel her curves pressing into his. Ever since leaving Asgard he has been so full of empty spaces. He is tired of the feel of his own palm prints; he wants to learn her thin fingers, supple hands. He wants to learn her whole body, see how it compares to that of another past lover with dark hair and light skin. 

  They are kissing harder now, and Thor lets her take whatever she wants. Despite his brief relations with Jane, he is unused to Midgardian courting, and he is afraid of messing this up too, so he deigns to follow her lead. When her kisses turn open mouthed and wet, he follows suit, and when he shifts on his lap to peel off her shorts, he uses his much larger hands to help her balance and then to toss the shorts away. He sees a flash of her underwear and knows it’s beige and well-fitting, but gets so caught up in kissing he doesn’t get to examine it further. Until, of course, she takes his hands without breaking their kiss, and places them where she wants him to touch. He feels her thighs and higher, thumbs tracing over the seam between cloth and skin. By this point she is kneeling, knees spread wide on either side of his legs, and they are both flushed and making little noises under their breaths. There is so much Thor wants. He is nearly all the way hard in his pants, and she’s not grinding down on him yet, but he imagines that is the next step. 

  He pushes her shirt up a little, just to feel, and she makes an appreciative sound so he goes further. He doesn’t take her shirt off yet, instead letting it drop and bringing his hands up underneath to cup her. She is not wearing a bra, and he makes a very appreciative sound at that, squeezing gently, feeling the softness of her skin—

  And then there’s yelling, and before any part of his brain can process the change Wanda is being forcefully yanked off of him. He lets out a shout of outrage, standing to follow, but is shoved back down by a metal arm. The lights have been turned on, and there are many figures in the room, Steve and Bucky and Sam and Tony, and it’s Tony who’s grabbed Wanda and hauled her away, yelling. “Stop fighting me, stop fighting me! Thor, what the fuck did you do to her, how dare you—”

  “Let her go!” Thor bellowed. His skin is so cold without her warmth, his legs feeling weak and unsteady without her weight. “Stark, let her go!”

  “She’s a kid!” Stark yelled in retaliation, shoving Wanda behind him. “I let you in, I let you live under my roof, I call you a friend and this is how you thank—”

  Wanda screams in fury, hitting Tony again and again with her fists, too full of wrath to aim properly. Still, Tony nearly keels over at a shot to his kidneys, and has to turn to address her. “Will you stop it! I’m trying to help you—”

  “I wanted it! I wanted it, I wanted it, I wanted—”

  “You don’t know what you want!” Stark yelled back, getting in her face. “You’re only a kid, you don’t know—”

  “Don’t touch me!” She yelled, and Steve and Barnes had to push Thor back down on the couch to keep him from raging in. 

  “Don’t touch her!” He echoed. “Stark, don’t—”

  Sam slid in next to Wanda, raising his hands in surrender. “We’re not your enemies. One day you’ll understand. Come on, how about we go somewhere else and talk. Here are your shorts.”

  That just caused Thor to let out another roar, because how dare they intrude on such a private moment, especially when she had already lost her shorts. She owed them nothing— not her obedience, not her privacy, and certainly not her dignity. 

  Wanda tried to dart around the men to get back to Thor, but was blocked by Tony. In a bout of frustration, she raised her hands, glowing red, and shoved them forwards, pushing him back with all the force of her magic. Tony ended up on the floor, breathing hard with one hand over his diaphragm, and when Barnes moved to take his place, Wanda raised her hands in warning. “I thought that as your teammate I deserved at least a shred of respect. And now I see that I was misled.” 

  Then she turned, and left.



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  Thor was confined to his quarter until further notice. Somehow, he found his way to his bed and flopped on it, climbing up the covers weakly. Somehow, it was worse like this. After many months of solitude, one became used to the sound of their own breath. But after a few minutes in the company of another, one remembered why they needed companionship in the first place, only to have it stripped away. 

  Tony came to visit in the morning, and they yelled at each other some. He called Thor reckless, selfish, abusive. He called him a traitor to their friendship, a pervert. A predator. “Thor,” he said. “That is not okay. Do you understand how young she is? Do you understand the significance of what you did?”

  In response, Thor calls him full of hate, full of envy, and full of spite. “I did nothing she didn’t ask for!” He yelled. “Nothing!” 

  Wanda was missing. After disappearing the night before, she had yet to make a reappearance in the tower. She hadn’t even taken a change of clothes with her. Needless to say, Thor was very very worried. Harming his relationship with his friends was one thing, but Wanda didn’t have anyone else. Ever since Sokovia, Tony had been like a father to her. And now she was gone. 

  Thor took some time to mourn all he had lost. He thought of Wanda, cold and unsafe; thought of Loki, alone in his cell; thought of Fandral, dead in the ground. Or, in the sea actually, as they’d given him a proper burial worthy of any prince of Asgard. And Fandral was a prince, just as Sif was a princess, despite their lack of royal blood. Just like Loki was a Queen, despite the size of his current accommodations. 

  And Thor: Thor was supposed to be a King. He was not. He was just an immigrant, alone and unsure, making a mistake with every word that came from his mouth. Thor, the pride of Odin: a bitter, shameful disgrace. 

  After the third day of no word from Wanda, Thor decided he didn’t care anymore. He broke out of the tower and prayed to Heimdal, asking for wisdom. In response, the air around him seemed to shimmer, showing him which way to go. He followed blindly, his vision blinking into darkness, his brain going fuzzy. He was standing in Loki’s cell, watching him throw a ball up and catch it. He was standing on the shore, watching his friends shrouds burn. He was…

  ...standing in an apartment, one in which he’d never been before. The living room was tiny, and the kitchen was even smaller, but from it emerged Wanda, wearing jeans and layered shirts, a baseball hat on her head. “You’re here,” she said quietly, looking him over like she wasn’t sure if she could trust the legitimacy of that statement. 

  “I am,” Thor agreed, taking only one step forward. “And if you request it, I can leave.”

  She didn’t respond, only stepped forwards, coming up close to him. She was shorter than him, but when he was folded into himself like he was, he was notably shorter. She touched his cheek, then his jaw, and pulled him down into a kiss. 

  She must have been eating chips, because she tasted salty on his tongue. He put a hand in her hair, feeling the waves in his fingers. 

  She pulled away, but only enough to break the kiss. She didn’t remove her hand from his face, and he didn’t remove his from hers. “I don’t want you to leave,” she said softly. 

  Thor inhaled. “Tony says you’re too young.”

  “Legally, I’m not. I researched it the first day I was gone: legally, I am old enough to do whatever I want, with whoever I want.”

  Thor smiled sadly, and willed away any wetness of the eyes that tried to form. “Yes, but I don't know if you understand. I am very, very old.”

  She snorted, ducking her head. “Well. I’m not looking for a relationship. I am still learning, and I don’t know what I want. But I do know that I’m very tired of being alone.”

  “Me too.” 



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  Two months later, Thor brought Wanda to Asgard. Heimdall had assured him that Odin was busy and would not be around to see Thor’s reappearance, so he felt safe in showing her the sights, telling stories of his days spent in the halls of the palace. They walked hand in hand, like friends. Or perhaps, like something more. 

  After the tour was over, and Thor has answered all of her questions, he took her down a new hallway. A guard was standing on duty, and she trapped him in a mild hallucination for just long enough to steal his keycard. Then they walked past him, into the row of cells. 

  Thor knew which one to stop in front of without looking. He and Wanda waited, and after a moment Loki appeared before them, separated only by glass. His hair was loose, dark, and wavy, and his pale skin glowed green in the harsh light. “Brother,” Thor said formally. “I trust that if I free you, you will not attempt another world takeover like last time?”

  “Oh, not for at least a few months,” Loki promised. It was good enough for Thor, and he gestured to Wanda, who held up the keycard triumphantly. 

  “My name is Wanda. I look forward to meeting you.”

  Loki’s eyes glinted playfully. “And you as well.”



The End