- Alternate Universe
This is a sequel to Families.
Vili knew that he should be in the rooms they had been given, working on his arguments to convince Thetys of their trustworthiness, but this was a family matter. And right now, family was the most important thing they had. So instead, he was out, trying to figure out where he might find Jörd. It wasn’t easy. Thetys wasn’t the only one here who did not trust Asgardians, many other Vanir didn’t seem interested in talking to him, never mind telling him where one of their own was. He was about to turn around and go back to his room, try to figure out a strategy with Loki, when there was suddenly a rustle behind him, then a female voice said: “I hear you’re looking for me.”
When he turned around, he recognized her at once. The Vanir, like the Asgardians, aged only slowly. He had always wondered why Odin had looked so old, if it had been the strain of controlling Asgard’s magic or the way he had fought his own heritage. Jörd had aged some, of course, but not so much that he couldn’t recognize her, as little as he had seen her back then. “I am, yes,” he said. “I wanted to talk to you about Thor.”
Something shifted in her eyes. “How is he? I… I heard that he was involved in the fight against Thanos.”
“He was. Against Thanos and Hela before that. But he’s okay. He’s on Midgard, with the other surviving Asgardians.” He watched her carefully, taking in her every reaction. “With Odin’s death, he has succeeded his father as King of Asgard.” He waited, then asked quietly: “Or rather his foster father, right?”
She turned away. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Thor is not Odin’s son,” Vili said bluntly. Then he softened. “I’m not looking to displace him as king. He’s become a good ruler and Asgard needs stability. I just want to know. If someone else knows, we can’t be caught unaware.” He didn’t add ‘again’. They had gone through it with Loki. He really didn’t want to see what might happen if Thor were suddenly faced with his whole life having been a lie.
Jörd stayed staring off into the distance, then her shoulders slumped and she closed her eyes. “You’re right. He’s not… he’s…” She sighed. “I always knew that what I had with Odin was nothing serious. He was already married and I’m just a third daughter, not important enough to risk the peace treaty.” She laughed darkly. “Not that he had any intention for anything more than some fun. Neither had I, really. So I started seeing one of the guards here as well. My pregnancy was completely unplanned. It seems I was paying enough attention once when I was manipulating my body not to be fertile. When I admitted it to myself, I was far enough along already to feel him. I couldn’t abort the pregnancy then.”
“So you told Odin the child was his and convinced him to take him. But why give him to Odin?”
She whirled around to glare at him. “Because I wanted more for him than being the son of a simple guard and a third daughter.” She raised her chin. “There, now you have confirmation. What are you going to do with it?”
“I told you, I’m not going to dethrone Thor. I do intend to tell Thor and those closest to him. With your permission, I would like to tell him your name, so he can seek you out if and when he wants to. What about his father? Is he still alive?”
She shook her head. “No, he was killed defending Vanaheim a few centuries ago.” She hesitated. “I can see what I can find about him for you to take along for Thor, so he can at least get to know his father that way.”
Coulson sat behind Lola’s wheel, staring in trepidation at the farmhouse. Finally he took a deep, bracing breath, then got out. He was not surprised when Laura opened the door before he could knock. He’d certainly sat in the driveway long enough. “Hello, Laura.”
“Phil.” She stood there, staring at him, unsure what to do. He had been a close friend to both Clint and herself. At least until his supposed death. “You look well for someone who’s been dead for years.”
Phil winced. “I’m sorry, Laura. I didn’t… I didn’t know I’d survive. And then I didn’t remember you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Part of the procedure to revive me involved manipulating my memories. I locked away private memories, like memories of you and the children, to… to protect them. To protect you. I only recently got them all back.” And then he had been too much of a coward to seek her and Clint out until his hand had been forced.
“So Clint said.” She finally made a decision and stepped aside to let him in. “Come on in. It’s about time you were here again.”
“And after you’ve got reacquainted again with the kids we’ll talk about brining Clint back home.” She looked at him over her shoulder. “And Phil? Pack a bag on your way to get him. You’re staying a while.”
Alexander followed the servant into the sitting room Thetys had invited him to. He bowed in greeting. “Your majesty.”
“Come, sit. You’ll find I don’t stand too much on formal titles with my own people.” She paused, considering him. “You seem surprised. You’re not very familiar with the Vanir on Midgard?”
“Not with many, no. Most of them are staying on Avalon.” His smile was crooked. “I’m unfortunately familiar with Oberon.”
She nodded sagely. “Ah, yes, Danu’s boy. But how come you know him if they are staying on Avalon?”
“I’ve unfortunately seen him a few times because my grandmother is Titania, his wife.” Seeing her questioning look, he explained: “I was told that they separated somewhat over a millennia ago and so Oberon banished them all from Avalon. They’re remarried again but before, she was briefly married to a human, my grandfather, and had my Mum.”
“Did you have to grow up him with?” she asked.
“No, I…” Alexander looked down on his hands, nervously rubbing them together. “She kept who she really was a secret from Mum. Until I was born, at least. Then she tried to take me with her, with Oberon’s help.. Dad stood up to them, together with Mum and Pop.” He looked up briefly, lips briefly twitching up into a smile. “He’s not my dad in the biological sense. But he’s with Mum and Pop and has raised me with them. He’s also the one who’s taught me how to use my magic.” He took a deep breath. “He’s also why I asked Loki and Vili if I can come along. Oberon banished him and bound his magic as punishment for standing up to him. He never even suggested in my hearing that he regretted it,” he hurried to say the last part, not wanting her to think badly about his Dad. “But I’ve still always felt a bit guilty since I understood what happened. So I was hoping… I was hoping you would be able to help.”
“Tony, wait a moment before you go back to the lab,” Charles said when Tony got up after dinner.
Tony frowned. “Is something wrong?”
“No, not at all. In fact we have good news for you,” Charles said.
“I talked to Helen this morning and she agrees that you and Rhodey have recovered enough that you can safely use your suits again,” Jean said.
Tony instantly turned to look at his friend who was also getting up now. “Let’s go?”
“Let’s go,” Rhodey agreed.
Moments later, they were flying in the sky above the house, for the first time in far too long flying just for the fun of it and playing around.
Hank stood on the lawn with some of the X-Men, watching them as they seemed to be playing catch. “You said Tony’s spirit guide is a raven. Are they aware…?”
“No,” Ororo said. “Let them figure it out themselves.”
“And if we’re lucky they’ll be the first men in this family who don’t take years to get a clue,” Raven added.
“Haven’t they known each other for years?” Rogue asked. “Does that still count?”
Raven considered it, then qualified: “The first ones we won’t have to watch for years until they get a clue.”
Meanwhile the three bonded Sentinel-Guide pairs stood together with Scott and Logan. “Tell us again what happened, Scott,” Charles requested. “Then we’ll see what we can come up with to deal with him.”
“Well, Prince Vili, have you found arguments for a non-aggression pact?” Thetys asked when they met up again in the morning.
“I have, yes, but I would ask that they do not leave this room,” Vili replied.
He had fought with himself whether to reveal it to the ruler of another realm but it might be the only way to convince her. It would also then be in her own best interest not to let it get out. “Thor, the new King of Asgard, is the son of Jörd, a Vanir.” He ignored the way Loki’s eyes widened slightly.
“A half-Vanir as king of Asgard,” Thetys mused. “That’s certainly an interesting idea.”
“A Vanir as king,” Vili corrected. “I talked to Jörd yesterday. Thor was actually sired by a Vanir, a guard of your realm. Odin adopted and raised him, believing him to be his son.” He waited a moment for the revelation to sink in and for her to consider the consequences. “I see no reason why we should destabilize Asgard further by revealing his true parentage. He is Odin’s son as well, his foster son. The people love him and he is growing to be a good ruler. My suggestion is therefore this: we will let Thor know about his Vanir ancestry but otherwise keep it a secret. Thor and his line will remain rulers of Asgard.”
Thetys smiled slowly, deeply satisfied by the unexpected change after the way Odin had treated Vanaheim, after the concessions they had had to make after the war. “Asgard being ruled by a Vanir.” She nodded. “Yes, you will get your non-aggression pact and, in time, an alliance. For now, our agreeing to an alliance would be cause for suspicion and draw too much attention. But in the future, after we’ve seen what king of ruler Thor will be…”
Vili nodded. “I agree with your reasoning. For now we will just prepare the non-aggression pact. In the future, when Asgard is re-established and suitably stabilized, King Thor might want to visit the other realms in person. Perhaps that will be a good time to discuss an alliance.”
Steve sighed. His senses were once again not doing what he wanted them to. His sense of touch, smell and taste were working as normal for once but his sight and hearing were below the level he was used to. That had happened before a few times, though his more common problem was his senses spiking. If only one of those Guides would finally do their duty and bond with him. The X-Men were obviously still trying to sabotage the Avengers by keeping him and Tony apart.
“Rogers, you have a call,” one of the agents working at the base he was currently housed at told him.
He didn’t see why he and Wanda couldn’t return to the Avengers Compound while they waited for the others to see sense and come back, why they instead had to stay here at the base, together with other agents who didn’t show the Avengers any deference. And why did he have to use the landline? The UN had refused to pay for a cell phone for him, instead telling him that he would have to pay for personal expenses out of his own pocket. How was he supposed to earn money? He was a hero, he was too busy to work like a regular person.
He followed the agent to the common area where there was a phone for the private use of the people staying at the base. He picked up the phone, looking around to see if any of the agents were eavesdropping. “Hello?”
“Bucky!” he happily exclaimed. “How are you? Did you get my letters? Have you arranged a flight back to the US yet?”
“I’m fine. So is Sam, by the way. I did get your letters but I don’t see why I would be flying back.”
Steve frowned. “What do you mean? You have to come back so we can fight together on the Avengers.”
“You were there in the meeting where I told the UN that I’m not interested in joining the Avengers. I’ve spend over 70 years fighting. I want to finally get to enjoy peaceful life, together with my Guide.”
“But this is your home!”
“It was my home,” Bucky corrected. “Now I’ve build a home here in Wakanda.”
“But Bucky, if you’ve read my letters then you know that I need you. They’re not letting us back into the field as long as only Wanda and I are officially part of the Avengers.”
“I’m not interested in returning to a life of violence, not without a major threat to the world. And I’m definitely not joining a team with a HYDRA agent.”
“She’s just a kid, Bucky, she didn’t know what she was doing. If you’d just come back and get to know her…”
“And let her use her powers so I’m once again getting mind controlled? No thanks.” He took a deep breath, easily audible through the phone. “Listen, I need you to respect my decision. I’m not coming back. So please stop those constant letters asking me to.”
Steve was still searching for an argument to convince him when he heard the dial tone. Had someone interrupted the call? He tried to make his sense of hearing stretch, to hear if some of the agents were talking about messing with the phone. It didn’t work. Frustrated he hit the table with his fist.
Then he stared. The table was still standing, not damaged in any way.
It was early afternoon when Loki and Vili returned to the Institute with Alexander. They had enjoyed lunch with Thetys and she had then seen them off. Alexander checked his watch, wondering if he had time to talk to Stark some more about the armour before his parents started wondering where he was.
“Alexander Fox Xanatos!”
He winced. Obviously they had wondered already. He turned to the house. “Dad, hey. Are Mom and Pop here as well?”
Charles and Erik who had followed him outside were amused to see Vili and Loki take a step back. It was rather satisfying, considering they had been left with the unenviable task of explaining where Alexander was when their unexpected visitor had shown up an hour ago. Though they had not been aware he was Alexander’s father.
“No, they are waiting for us at the Eyrie,” Owen replied.
Alexander smiled, trying to get him to soften. “Then we probably shouldn’t keep them waiting much longer. I have so much to tell you.” Though perhaps he should wait with the details until they were home. Hopefully Thetys’ gift for his Dad would soften at least Mom and Pop.
“You left very quickly yesterday,” Tony said during their video call the next day.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Bruce replied. “Vili and Loki were in a hurry.” He’d been confused at first but he had also come to know and trust them enough to go along with it.
Thor had seemed very happy when they had joined him in his office “You’re back. Did you enjoy your time with the Man of Iron, Bruce? How is he?”
Bruce had been unable not to return the smile. “I did, thank you. He’s going a lot better. He was even allowed back into his suit yesterday.” Seeing him and Rhodey play around in the air had been a sweet view.
Thor had then looked to his brother and uncle. “What about you? Was your visit to Vanaheim successful?” His smile had dropped when he saw their serious expressions. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“Should I leave you alone?” he had asked.
“No, I believe Thor will appreciate your being here,” Loki had said. Then he had gone and closed the door, a sign that Thor was not to be disturbed.
“There is something I need to tell you about Odin. And Frigga,” Vili had begun.
Bruce and Thor had listened in growing disbelief to their tale. The truth about Odin’s mother, about his marriage to Frigga and about the true parentage of his sons. Thor had sunk down, hiding his face in his hands. “It was a lie. Everything was a lie.”
Bruce had not been able to stand seeing him like that. He’d gone to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Not everything. This does not change who you are. You are still Thor. You are still the son of Odin and Frigga. You are still King of Asgard.” In an effort to get him to smile, he’d added: “The second strongest Avenger.”
“Banner’s right, Thor,” Loki had agreed, voice softer than Bruce had ever heard it. He’d rested a hand on Thor’s free shoulder. “It’s not all a lie. Freyr told me that mother loved us, no matter that she has not born us.” He’d paused, then had added: “And we are still brothers.”
Bruce could only imagine how much it meant to Thor that Loki finally acknowledged him as brother again.
Tony’s next question pulled him out of his memories. “And your missing Thor had nothing to do with it? ‘Cause I have to say, the pining is getting rather noticeable.”
Bruce started. “W-What are you…?”
“I don’t get it, really,” Tony continued. “It’s obviously mutual. I haven’t seen Pointbreak as often since you arrived back on Earth but from what I have seen I’m sure he’s interested in you as well.”
That was… interesting to know but really, for Tony to bring up pining? “You have no room to talk about pining. The attempts of your three suitors are getting ridiculous. And I’ve been there not even two days.”
Tony stared at him. “My suitors?”
“Rhodey, T’Challa and Stephen. Seriously, I think the only reason you haven’t found them naked in your bed is because your new parents and siblings would have their heads for pressuring you.”
Thor and Loki stood beside one another on the cliff where their father had vanished what felt like centuries ago.
“What now?” Thor asked.
Loki shrugged. “Nothing changes. As far as anyone’s concerned, you are Odin’s son and heir, the legitimate King of Asgard.” He paused. “Vili explained it to me after he told Queen Thetys. It was never about declaring you illegitimate but about being prepared, in case it ever gets out or someone tries to use the knowledge against you.”
Thor nodded. “So I could learn about it under better circumstances than you did.” He sighed. “I hadn’t realized just how badly we failed you back then.”
Loki didn’t disagree. The revelation of being Jotun and Laufey’s son (though it had turned out that he was also Odin’s after all) had been handled badly, though most of the blame rested on Odin and Frigga, not Thor. Still, Thor’s acknowledgement of Loki’s feelings and the mistakes made by their family went a long way in healing some of the lingering resentment. But that was not something he wanted to talk about with Thor or anyone for that matter. So he decided to change the subject. “You know, there are advantages to your not being Odin’s son.”
“Well, it turns out that male Jotun can also get pregnant. Since you don’t have Jotun blood, when you and Banner finally manage to get it on, you will not have to worry about accidentally getting pregnant.”
Charles and Erik were curled up together on the couch in their room. Charles lifted his head when he noticed the familiar mind and nervous energy in front of the door. “You can come in, Tony,” he called.
Tony slowly entered. “I… Bruce said… Are they really courting me? Rhodey and T’Challa and Stephen, I mean.”
Charles patted the couch beside him. He waited until Tony had sat down, then answered: “Yes, they are. Or at least they’re trying to.” Seeing his embarrassment, he laughed gently and tucked him closer, letting him hide his face against his shoulder. “It’s not some idle interest, they’re serious about you, about bonding with you. But that doesn’t have to mean anything, who you bond with is your choice. You can choose one, neither or all of them. It’s entirely up to you.”
“You also don’t have to decide at once, just because you know now,” Erik added. “You can take some time to think about it.”
Tony was quiet for a long moment, then softly admitted: “I know what my choice is.”
“Good,” Charles said. He’d worried a bit that Tony would question his decision but he had come a long way since they had found him in Siberia. “Rhodey is reading in his room.”
Steve stared in disbelief at the letter he’d received. He kept hearing the words of all the experts called in when it had become obvious that both his enhanced senses and his superhuman strength were gone.
“It was to be expected, really,” Sandburg, the expert on Sentinels and Guides, had said. “Sentinels and Guides come online when there is a need of them. Most of the ones who came on during the last year did so in response to an extraordinary threat. Now that it is dealt with, some of them are not needed. So it was to be expected that superfluous Sentinels and Guides would return to being offline.” He was not superfluous. He was Captain America. He was a hero.
“The radiation in space is very different to the one on earth,” Bruce had said. “The time I spend on another planet stabilised the effect of my previous exposure to radiation, which had caused the unstable transformation into the Hulk. The phenomenon is obviously not very well studied but it’s possible that radiation has destabilized the previously stable reaction Rogers had.”
“We do not know when the deterioration of his strength started. Mister Rogers refused to attend training with the other agents,” Everett Ross had said. “We just know that he is now no stronger than a regular human of average fitness.” Of course he hadn’t trained with them. Training with some agents would have not been challenging. He also had not wanted them to get information that might be used against him.
“Physically, he seems to be at standard human level. There is no sign of his superhuman strength or healing, though he is still healthy, contrary to how he was before the serum,” Helen Cho had said. “We do not know if the current state is permanent however. He could regain his strength or the effect of the serum could degrease even further. Therefore I think it would be unethical to clear him for field work.” He was certain his strength would return soon. They’d just have to wait.
But they weren’t willing to wait. The letter he received stated that he was no longer considered qualified to be an Avenger. And without a shield, without his strength, without any kind of resources, he had no idea how to proof them wrong.
Loki smiled to himself, feeling a sense of satisfaction he had not believed possible. He actually had a place here on Midgard, a purpose. He had a family: an uncle, a brother, a soon-to-be brother-in-law (or was that two? He wasn’t certain how things worked between Thor, Banner and the Hulk and he did not want to know). He was also enjoying getting to know his half-brothers on Jotunheim and their sire Fárbauti. To his surprise, he had also been asked to help out the Avengers from time to time. Considering they were now being led by Stark and his Sentinel Rhodes, he was actually considering it, though he was already missing the hilarity of the three Sentinels vying for Stark’s attention.
He enjoyed his new life but it had consequences for him. He had responsibilities, to his family, to Asgard and to Jotunheim. So he had to change his plans. He pulled a pendant out from underneath his shirt, a gift from the Grandmaster. He had been considering returning to Sakaar, to the Grandmaster since the victory over Hela. He sighed, his hand tightening over the pendant, then let it drop. He could not just leave. He could not go back to him, not for a while yet, if ever.
“Lo-Lo, there you are.”
Loki whirled around. “En?”
I managed to finish, and even with time to spare at over 1 000 words above the word count minimum.
I wanted it to stop here, without getting very much into Tony’s relationship with Rhodey. I wanted the focus to be on him moving on and building a new life, a new relationship is just a small part of that.
So, did anyone recognize Alexander before he got called out for running off?
I haven’t quite decided what took Steve’s superstrenght, magic or science, like Leech, or perhaps a combination. I leave that up to you.
|Erik Lehnsherr (Sentinel) & Charles Xavier (Guide)|
|Tony Stark (Guide) & his spirit guide|
|Hank McCoy (Sentinel) & Alex Summers (Guide)|
|Jean Grey, Logan Howlett & Scott Summers|
|T’Challa (Sentinel), Doctor Stephen Strange (Sentinel), James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Sentinel)|
Alexander as a baby with his parents and in the future as an adult