"Although the Convergence is in the past, the effects of the Aether are hardly over."
Running Up That Hill - Placebo
And if I only could,
Make a deal with God and get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road, Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could...
A violent stream of flashes blinded me as I stood behind the podium. My hands aggravatingly clutched both sides of the polished dark wood as my vision began to trickle back in. I stood before a massive crowd of reporters: all eager to ask their questions. Their voices were a volatile mesh of many sentences fusing into one incoherent string of noise.
Instinctively, I raised my right hand before my eyes as another flood of flashes violated my sight. I groaned loudly, not exactly caring about their feelings at the moment. My foot began to race up and down, tapping against the hard stage floor, which was slightly amplified by the sensitive microphone before my mouth.
"I will answer questions as soon as y'all stop taking photos," I blurted out in warning.
Immediately, the crowd's flashes—and voices—silenced. An awkward shift between the chaotic mess and the momentary peace hung over me briefly until I lowered my hand back down, once more gripping the side of the podium.
"Now, I will take any questions relevant to the events in London," I began a bit too meagerly.
Hundreds of hands flew up as all of the reporters tried to fight each other to be heard. I almost wanted to place both hands over my ears for dramatic affect, but withheld the gnawing urge.
I quickly scanned the mass and shook my head helplessly before I settled on a young woman in the center of the third row. "Thank you for selecting me. The New York Times would like to inquire about how Asgard is like in terms of technology and culture."
I rolled my eyes, "Asgard was never supposed to be seen by mortals—ever. So for that reason, I refuse to disclose that information. Next question, please."
I once again randomly selected someone who shot up out of their seat holding up a microphone. "Don't you think that we deserve to know about a race of people who could potentially attack us again?"
I stomped loudly, "Asgard has never once launched an attack on Earth to my knowledge. Next question."
"Miss Foster, Us Weeklywould like to know about your relationship with Thor."
My throat emitted a low growl, which was amplified throughout the auditorium. "Does anyone have any relevant questions regarding the events in London?"
"Was Loki involved somehow? And will he be attacking us again in the future?"
I paused at the mention of that name. Before my eyes the god of mischief died in Thor's arms. I swallowed, though tears smarted against my yielding veil of neutral emotion. Not wanting to bring attention to my pause, I stated, "Loki is detained where he cannot breach the distance between Midgard and where he is. He will no longer be a threat to humanity."
"Is Loki still alive? If he still is, he will always remain a viable threat to Earth."
Quickly, I rebutted, "This is not a questioning of certain individuals. I am here to represent SHIELD, Thor, and my eyewitness testimony."
"Tell us if he lives! We were attacked once with tragic losses before. We deserve to know! I've heard that there have been rumors that he was with you before the convergence made its way here!"
Defensively, I clutched dangerously at the podium, "You have no idea what occurred before we had to come here to defend Earth and the rest of the universe. If you're looking for a story to scare the rest of the world, there are none to be told! For the last time, are there any questions relevant to the events of London?"
"Miss Foster, you're not working with or for SHIELD according to my research! Why would you have any reason to hide the truth from your fellow human beings?"
"Because Asgard, Loki, and the rest of the worlds are none of our business! We were never supposed to know about them. I have my loyalties to make sure something like New York never happens again from our end. The more we know about Asgard, the more we will compete with advancing technology, knowledge, and resources: all artificial to the human race."
"So you're saying that they're prepared to attack us because they have access to more advanced materials than Earth?"
My hands began to shake, "If we compete, a war will be brought between us again. Humans have a need to conquer. I'm preventing a future of endless expansionism."
"Has Loki taken over your mind, too, Jane? Why else would you protect Asgard?"
I shouted in anger, "I'm of my own mind! Loki cannot reach me or Earth from where he is anymore. That's all the time I have for questions."
I threw myself from the podium, but instead of walking as far away as possible, I felt myself freeze as I fell into nothing but a bitter, soundless black.
I frantically awoke in a strange cylinder compartment encased with glass all along the walls and a matching bright white ceiling and floor. The blackness intruded once more into my eyes quickly, still trying to dominate over the harsh lights.
As my vision focused, I drowsily edged my head around over my left shoulder, seeing a control panel just outside the encasement. From my memory of being detained in Europe during the events of the New York Incident, I immediately knew I was being held captive somewhere on SHIELD headquarters.
My head pounded vibrantly. Confused, I whined, "Owie." I inwardly joked about how childish I could sound sometimes before continuing, "Why am I here?"
"Because you blacked out at the auditorium, Jane Foster," a feminine lull stirred from behind.
I shot up from where I rested. Meeting the woman's gaze with full intensity, I realized that it was none other than Natasha Romanov, or the Black Widow. "Romanov," I greeted.
"You've been a heavy interest to Nick Fury since Thor left you here for Asgard. We've been watching you from an appropriate distance for weeks," the red-head explained.
I nodded in response.
"We took you in to initially question you ourselves. We know that you had something inside of you based on Darcy's testimony. Erik also confessed. They called it the Aether."
"You caught me, Agent Romanov, so can I go now?"
Her eyes lit up with mischief. She knew something I did not. She quickly crossed her arms and smiled, "You're not going anywhere until we find out what's happening to you. Bruce was there at the press conference. He's the one that carried you out of the place without being swarmed by reporters."
I lifted my right brow, truly intrigued, "What happened after that?"
Natasha lowered her chin and narrowed her eyes, "You began to turn green. And then he passed out. Lucky for you both, Nick and I were just out of sight when it happened. Reporters captured photos of the exchange and now paint you to be a traitor."
My throat went dry as my limbs went numb.
She chuckled. "Some even think you're Loki."
"Oh, I know. Your eyes would be a light, pale blue if you were. At least they'd be if Loki had the Tesseract to control you."
My stomach fluttered and my heart began to sink deeper inside my chest. I glanced down at my joined fingers as I replied, "Loki's dead. He died on Svartalfheim."
Agent Romanov scoffed, "The monster had it coming. But that's good news." She cleared her throat, choosing to continue, "We ran some brief tests to see if it would happen again. And it did. But only when your hand touched someone directly."
Irritable, I spat, "Why am I in here?"
Natasha lifted her features to produce a soft smile, "We don't know if you're lethal yet. Bruce and the four others who touched your hand still haven't woken up."
"How long has it been since the contact?" I cautiously inquired.
She took an obvious pause, "Six days."
"Jesus," I uttered. My bones felt heavy, and now my head was light.
"They aren't dead. They're stable, breathing on their own. They haven't come back into consciousness, though. That's the only reason you're in this. But, I've been given orders to let you out on one condition."
Even though my lungs stuttered as I sharply inhaled, I murmured, "What is it?"
She produced a pair of dark emerald leather gloves from behind her, "You'll have to wear these."
Once again, the avenger nodded precisely and smirked. Hastily, she walked over to the control panel and hit a button, allowing the glass entrance to slide open. "Come on, Foster."
Sighing, I retrieved the gloves from her hand and placed them over each finger as quickly as possible. "Where am I going to go? I couldn't possible go home if everyone thinks I'm someone else."
"You're just as perceptive as Tony and Bruce. You're right. We're relocating you," she offered with flourished syllables.
She guided me through the door out into a main passageway. "So, where?"
Natasha opted not to reply; instead, she led me through the halls, traveling up a few flights of stairs until we arrived outside altogether. There, in the center of the platform, Thor stood. His features weren't as joyful. In times when seeing each other after periods of time apart, he'd have a smile specially reserved only for me.
Butterflies invaded my stomach when Agent Romanov finally replied, "To Asgard."
So, I decided to retire the old title. I found a song that fits the theme of where I'd like this story to go. Forgive me for any confusion! I'm only trying to improve this story for your benefit! How're you? Tell me in a review! :D