A/N: Welcome back, everyone! Here's the third story in the series. It's about Jane's origin and is her first prequel which is why it's named Protostar as that's the first stage in the birth of a star. I'm not sure which story I'll be writing for this next. I have a list, but the next three I wrote down are all about Tony, and I already wrote a story for him so I want to give some other characters some time before I circle back. I might do Clint next, as I've been reading some of his comics, but we'll see. It will be a little bit before I do that, though, as my next writing goal is to finish The Fantastic Adventures of Loki and Thor, which is in the same universe as this one. Again, I don't know how long that will take. Still looking for a job for the summer, though I have managed to land some scholarships so there's that. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy. Please let me know what you think and what you'd like to see in future stories.
Disclaimer: Jane belongs to Marvel, but her grandmother is mine.
"Jane? Sweetheart? Are you ready for dinner?"
Jane huffed and burrowed deeper under the blankets, pulling them tight around her. Perhaps if she was very still, her grandmother wouldn't see her.
Light footsteps reached her ears from the hallway outside her room, and after a moment, Jane felt the bed bow as her grandmother sat down beside her.
Curses. She'd been spotted.
A gentle hand rubbed her back outside the covers.
"Jane, honey, I know you're upset that your parents didn't take you on their trip, but refusing to eat isn't going to bring them back. This is a very important lecture they're giving, and they're trusting me to watch you while they give it," her grandma said soothingly.
"It's not fair!" Jane yelled, sitting bolt upright. "I wouldn't get in their way! I'm very good at sitting still and listening!"
"Honey, please, I've seen you try to sit through a movie. That is absolutely not true."
Jane pouted, sticking out her lower lip and hugging her arms to her chest.
"I could too," she muttered.
Her grandmother laughed and ruffled her hair. "Maybe. We'll see what happens when you're older." She stood then, looking down at Jane fondly. "Now, come to dinner. I made mac and cheese, your favorite."
Jane brightened. She did love mac and cheese.
They had a pleasant dinner, and Jane momentarily forgot about her sadness at being left behind. For a while, she could pretend that she was simply visiting her grandmother and that she'd soon be going home with her parents as normal, but once they'd finished their meal, Jane could no longer make herself forget.
She made her way into the living room and flung herself onto the couch, burying her face in the cushions. She sniffled, but before she could really lose herself in her sorrow, her grandmother sat beside her and rubbed her back once again.
"Come here, baby girl. Let me show you something."
Jane hesitated, but then nodded. Stopping to put a coat on them both and grab several large blankets, Jane's grandmother led her outside. They sat down on the porch, and the older woman gently took Jane's chin in her hand and pointed her face upwards.
"Look," she commanded quietly.
Jane gazed up at the sky and gasped. Countless stars filled the night, gleaming and glittering brightly. She had never seen so many before. She'd grown up in a city, and there even when the sky was clear, there was too much light pollution to see many stars. Here though, the stars were everywhere. It was amazing.
"Wow," she breathed, eyes wide with awe. "There's so many…"
"Would you like to know their names?"
Jane looked over at her quickly, her mouth gaping in shock.
"You know all their names?!" she asked incredulously.
Her grandmother laughed and shook her head.
"Not all of them, no, but I know many of them, and I'd be happy to tell you the ones I do know."
Jane nodded vigorously. She loved learning new things.
"Do you see that big bright star right above us?" her grandmother asked, pointing.
Jane scrunched up her nose and peered at where her grandmother was pointing.
"No… Oh! There! I see it!"
"That actually isn't a star at all; it's Saturn, the planet."
Jane looked back at her in amazement. "Really?"
"Yes, really. That's why it's so much bigger and brighter than the other stars. It's not a star at all!"
"And see those three stars that look like they're in a row? Those are part of the constellation Aries."
Jane blinked and looked up at her. "What does that mean?"
"Well, you see, a long time ago there were two groups of people named the Greeks and the Romans who both liked to name things…"
Jane's grandmother spent the next few hours talking about the stars with her. Perhaps her goal had been to exhaust Jane, but if that was the case, it backfired on her. Jane listened with rapt attention, soaking in everything. Eventually, she did start to yawn, but she was determined to stay awake.
"...so that's why it's called Hercules." Jane nodded and tried to stifle another yawn, but her grandmother gave her a knowing look. "I think that's enough astronomy lessons for tonight. Come on; let's get you in bed."
"No! I'm not tired! I can-" She yawned loudly. "-I can stay up a little while longer!"
But her grandmother just laughed quietly and shook her head. "The stars will still be here tomorrow night. And the next night, for that matter. But if you don't go to sleep soon, little one, you're going to be one cranky child in the morning, and we can't have that, can we?"
Jane crossed her arms and pouted, but she was rather tired, so she sighed loudly and allowed her grandmother to stand and lead her back inside.
As she prepared for bed, however, her thoughts were not on Earth, but rather they soared through the stars, naming them and seeing their beauty.
Some day, she promised herself quietly as she lay in bed, looking out the window, some day I'm going to go there and see them up close. Saturn, and Hercules, and Draco and all of them. I'm going to travel in space and see them all. Some day...
And she fell asleep with dreams of twinkling lights and the many rings of Saturn filling her head. Some day, indeed.
A/N#1: Are there any characters you guys would like to see here or any specific parts of their childhood/early history? I haven't made up a definitive list of stories for Phase I so I'd love your input!
A/N#2: Please leave a review, and let me know how I'm doing!