Alright! Nearly done with this but posting it in chapters. First one is below. AO3 link is here!
Another sleepless night.
Lately, this had become a reoccurring theme. The last time he had actually slept through the night seemed so distant. Memory hazy, which meant it had been far too long. Thor lay there, enveloped in the darkness to the point of near suffocation. It was oppressive and weighed heavily upon him. Crushing. Agonizingly so.
Across the hall, the dripping of the leaky faucet called to his attentions. Drip, drip, drip.
That should have been fixed—he meant to, but… things kept getting in the way. Or, perhaps, he’d even forgotten. Become too busy with work and it had fallen to the wayside, neglected, much like many other things around the house. His “honey-do” list had expanded greatly; seemingly also filled with emotional fixes right along side constructional ones. The more items that filled that list, the less he actually cared to complete them. Not the best course of action, he knew, but better than the alternative. …Whatever that turned out to be. He didn’t want to think about it.
Thor rolled onto his side, staring blindly out the window, straining to see something—anything. Some proof of life existing outside this house. But, as always, there was nothing but that oppressive darkness. Through the wall he heard Sif snore softly in her sleep. Must be on her back.
They had fought—again. Gotten completely out of hand—again. The broken dishes and chair that still lay shattered on the kitchen floor could attest to that.
They were never quiet when they fought; always destructive. Never once was a hand raised to each other, but everything else not nailed down was fair game. Their house was in constant disarray. All the pieces would be put back together, giving off the air everything was fine. They were normal. Happily in love. But, that wasn’t exactly right either.
He didn’t know when their lives had taken a turn this way, but by now it just was second nature. The days when they fought were becoming more and more frequent—there was hardly a day that passed without some mishap. Thor found himself seeking solace in the spare bedroom at night more often than he cared to admit. This wasn’t how he pictured happily ever after.
A heavy sigh rolled over his lips as he sat up and rubbed at his face. Sleep would not come tonight, not at this rate. There was no further point in trying. Red numbers glowed half-past three from the clock at the bedside table. Only a few more hours until his flight—now was as good of a time as any to slip into that darkness and leave.
“Odinson!” The booming voice snapped across the office, nearly shaking the glass from the windows.
An easy smile slid on his lips as he offered a firm shake of hands. “Good to see you again, Volstagg.”
The man had an immense and impressive presence—both in personality and in stature. But, there was still part of him that retained an almost childlike excitement; it made him easily likable.
“How long are you with us this time?”
Thor offered a shrug. “Last I heard, it was for nearly a week. If things are progressing on schedule…?” A dangerous, loaded question, at best, but one that needed answering.
There was the briefest of all pauses—which could only mean that they were, in fact, not on schedule—before Volstagg spoke again. “Well… let’s go to my office, shall we?”
This didn’t bode well.
Two hours later, Thor emerged from the office more tired than he had been before he had arrived. The project was behind schedule. Far behind. It wasn’t entirely a huge surprise, but this was a giant headache nonetheless.
Down a few floors to his supplied make-shift office—around mountains of boxes and cleaning supplies with a few questionable stains—he sat at the drafting table. This was the part he hated most about his job—sedentary office work. He would much rather be out in the field. Being hands on rather than make phone calls. And from the sound of it, he had far too many to make before offices started to close for the day.
No point in putting off the droning busy work any longer. The sooner he started, the faster it was over. Still, he couldn’t help but let his gaze settle outside, looking through the one lone hazy window. There was a storm coming soon, he could feel it under his skin. Buzzing almost, like electricity. That thought seemed to smooth his nerves enough that he set to work without much more complaining.
After what felt like an excruciating lifetime later, Thor emerged no worse for the wear. All that he could accomplish for the day had gotten done—which had turned out to be more than expected. Tomorrow, he would meet with a few promising leads and take it from there. At this point, it was all he could do. Now it was time to face the decision of what to do for the night. Suddenly, that seemed like a much bigger problem to face than their flooring contractor pulling out of the project. Not that there was exactly a plethora of things to do in the small podunk town, but going out was better than ordering room service and sitting alone in his room. Most likely falling asleep before nine o’clock. There was a bar on the way back to the hotel, he remembered seeing it on the way into work. Maybe a stop there wouldn’t hurt…
Thor stood, hesitating, outside the bar door. He wasn’t exactly in the mood to be around people tonight—but, he supposed (more like reasoned with himself for the second time that night), this would be better than staying alone in the hotel room watching some made for TV movie until he fell asleep.
With a heavy sigh, he pushed inside. Dark and richly colored wood and fabrics ensconced the interior. Decorated with the usual fare—street signs and dead animal heads mounted to perfection. Out of the way bars were a dime a dozen.
It wasn’t crowded, but he went to sit at the bar anyway, forgoing any of the scattered tables. They were for two, he was only one. Taking refuge at the far end on a worn seat, he signaled to the barkeep for service. Only a few moments later, frosty stein in hand, Thor allowed himself to take in the scenery. There was a couple sidled up to the bar, heads bent low and talking only to each other. Completely disinterested in their surroundings. It seemed like a strange place for such a young couple to be, but Thor didn’t question the choice. The diamond ring on the woman’s left hand glinted from the dim overhead lights. In a vague, basic sense, they reminded him of himself and Sif when they had first begun dating.
That seemed so long ago now. And, most certainly, wasn’t a thought he wanted to be having at the moment.
He moved on to the other patrons—half of whom were drunk already and enjoying themselves. On any other night he would be with them, probably even challenging those meatheads at the pool table to a game or three. Being rowdy and raucous and without so much as a care. But, the energy just was not with him tonight.
Thor picked up the glass, fully intent to knock back half and hasten his retreat back to the safety of his hotel room, when he suddenly stopped. A pair of dark eyes held him, suddenly enraptured, and he couldn’t find it in himself to look away. Every possible romantic cliche washed over him then: shortness of breath, heart skipping a beat, even a cacophony of sounds crashing in his ears. It was unlike anything he had ever felt before and he vaguely wondered if he was possibly having a heart attack.
It didn’t seem to matter if he was—before he realized what was even happening, he had slid off the stool and began making his way around the bar. He couldn’t stop and didn’t want to stop. A shiver shot straight down his spine as he neared the mysterious man sitting in the shadows—this was dangerous.
And he didn’t care.
Neither spoke right away, merely content enough to remain in a locked gaze as if they could read each other simply from that. Except that Thor was never good at getting a read on people and his silence only came because he was having a little trouble remembering how to actually speak. He would never admit something like that, but he knew if he opened his mouth too soon whatever he said would make him seem like he had the intellectual level of a pea.
Thankfully, the man had far more sense than Thor and a better grasp on speaking and broke the silence first.
Simple. Two words. Inviting but still slightly closed off. But no matter. Just from the sound of his voice alone, Thor felt his entire world shift from it’s long projected trajectory. Like there was something new and exciting just bubbling below the surface. Something that he desired to find out. If he had been in his right frame of mind, he would have been embarrassed for himself. But, he wasn’t. So, he’s certainly not.
Instead, he managed to mumble a thanks (at least, he’s fairly certain that’s what he said) as he sat down on the stool next to him, trying not to stare but doing so anyway. Green. He can see the man’s eyes now. Green always was a color he liked best.
And then (finally) he allowed reality to settle around him, realizing he hadn’t actually said anything. Not anything worthwhile and he’s probably coming off like some weird lunatic. All right, he’s got to shake this off. These new curious and unexplained feelings can be explored later once he’s back safely at the hotel. He’s Thor Odinson for crying out loud. Silent, shy type isn’t his style—not by a long shot. Get a grip.
A shift in his seat and trying to be discreet about wiping his hand on his pant leg (sweaty palms, God, what is he fifteen??). “Hello.” Smooth, Odinson. Keep going. His hand is offered, “Thor.” …Alright. Short and sweet. That’s fine. Better than nothing.
There’s just a slight pause before he feels the cool slide and press of a hand in his. They just fit and gives a peculiar feeling in the pit of his stomach. If he was better at reading signs and signals, he would have noticed the sharper intake of breath and possibly the dilated pupils—indicating that he wasn’t alone in that feeling. The touch lingers longer than necessary and Thor’s eyes are drawn down, nearly enraptured with how nicely this man’s hand fits in his own. The contrast of their skin is mesmerizing in a way it probably shouldn’t be.
And that’s when everything changed.