Characters: All the Avengers, Pepper, a dog
Warnings/Triggers: non-descriptive but somewhat yucky injuries, swearing
Word Count 3,384
Summary: When Thor is injured in battle, he finds a friendly, furry face on the streets of New York. One with a very special gift.
Author's notes: joonscribble showed me this post on tumblr, and I insta-fluffed a story so fast in my head it was a bit silly.
And then I wrote it.
Very, very fluffy. Thor's worthy friend probably looks something like this. Sort of on the oldest side of puppyhood.
The battle had gone ill from the start.
It had begun so suddenly, with no warning at all. Usually, when the Avengers were called to arms, there was some advanced notice of a threat, but this time, it began in an instant. Many of the team were asleep and not dressed for battle, and Stark and Thor were the first ones to ready themselves. The enemies were too great in number for them alone to fight, and Thor was quickly overwhelmed. He was slammed hard in the head and lost his grip on Mjolnir, and thus his ability to remain in flight. Stark had tried to intercept him, but his intervention succeeded only in removing Thor's right shoulder from its socket. Stark too was overwhelmed and forced to let Thor fall, though not as great a distance as might have been.
“Sorry, Big Guy,” he said, through his helmet. “You're hardy. You'll be okay. Just...think soft thoughts.”
The impact cracked the stone beneath Thor, and, he suspected, many of the bones in his left arm. His communication device was crushed, and he had no way of signalling anyone. He had no strength to summon Mjolnir, by which he might receive aid. He could see it down the alley, but even inching toward it was agony. He used to think himself invincible, but since coming to Midgard, he had put that theory to the test and proved it very wrong.
He lay on his back, looking up at the night sky. He could see Stark flying away from him and a quinjet following. Agents Romanov and Barton would be inside, along with Captain Rogers. He could hear Doctor Banner's roar. Thor let out a snarl of frustration that he could not aid his friends. It quickly turned to a hiss of pain.
Nearby, he could hear a tick-tick noise and a snuffle. He braced himself in case one of the enemy had followed him down.
Tick-tick. Snuff. Tick-tick. Snuff.
Thor turned his head and found a dog was in the alley with him. He was unfamiliar with Midgardian breeds—they had so many. All Asgardian breeds had purpose; they were bred to hunt or herd. Thor could see no point to the little Midgardian dogs who fit in teacups and coin purses and had their portraits posted on the Internet. This dog was one of the Retrievers of Labrador, he thought. It looked dirty and unkempt; one of the wild dogs that sometimes roamed the city.
The dog padded forth toward Mjolnir, its nose to the ground, sniffing. Thor tried to warn it off but found it hard to make much more noise than a groan. The dog paused to look at him, rowled a gentle greeting, and continued its quest, stopping by Mjolnir and sniffing it. It licked it and pawed at it. Thor could see it bite the strap and was fearful for it. If it tried to pick Mjolnir up, it might well hurt itself.
“Shoo,” Thor said, through teeth gritted with pain. “Begone.”
The dog startled back, as though surprised Thor could speak. It recovered itself and returned to Mjolnir, once again taking the strap in its mouth. It lowered its haunches and pulled on the strap.
The hammer moved.
Thor thought he must be suffering from a severe head wound and blinked hard to clear his vision.
No, the dog was pulling the hammer along the ground, sparks flying as it scraped the stone. The dog paused, reconsidering its approach. It released the strap and instead bit the handle and lifted Mjolnir in its mouth. It seemed to have no great difficulty; it trotted quite easily along, tail wagging in pride at finding a treasure. It padded toward Thor and came right up to him, sitting down with it in its mouth.
Thor was too shocked to do much for several moments. He could only stare at the creature deemed worthy enough to bear the hammer of Thor. He could see nothing of any peculiarity to it. Why should it be found amenable to Mjolnir, when so many others—people whom Thor would consider stout and loyal—not be able to even knock it over? The dog wagged its tail on the ground, smiling around the handle.
“Hello,” Thor managed to say. “Might I have that back?”
He forced his dislocated arm to move until his hand touched Mjolnir. Instantly, he could feel the power come to him, flowing up into his body, starting to heal his wounds. Many were too grave to be healed by Mjolnir alone, but his shoulder popped back into place, and Thor was able to tamp down on the pain and sit up. He had to fight with the dog to release the hammer, the dog growling and playfully shaking its head against Thor's attempts to take it from it. The dog jumped back, dancing before him, lowering its front legs, and wiggling its back side.
“I have no time for fetch,” Thor said, apologetically.
The dog barked and bounded. Thor found himself chuckling as the dog licked his face. He used Mjolnir to brace himself on the ground and pushed up to his feet. The dog sat down and looked up at him.
“You have a worthy heart,” Thor told it, with a bow of his head. “I thank you for your aid, friend. I must go.”
He limped down the alley in search of the main street. It would be much easier if he could fly, but he did not have enough strength to put Mjolnir to that sort of use. It was taking all he had to keep himself upright. He followed the street in search of an open shop or tavern.
The dog trotted along beside him.
“I appreciate your assistance,” Thor said. “But there is no need for you to accompany me. If you have a master, you should return to him. This is a confusing city, I would not wish for you to lose your way.”
The dog did not listen. Thor allowed it to follow him, feeling that the dog was quite entitled to do what it wished. Whatever magic it possessed to allow it wield Mjolnir meant it was certainly wise enough to make its own decisions.
After some minutes of walking, they found an open store of convenience.
“Canines are not permitted in this establishment,” he told it, gesturing to the sign on the door.
Thor opened the door and stepped in, leaving the dog outside. The clerk behind the counter looked at Thor with wide eyes, which seemed to be a custom of Midgardians. They were an easily surprised people.
“Greetings, storekeep. I require use of a tele- or cell phone,” Thor said.
The clerk wordlessly pointed to a telephone attached to the wall behind the counter. Thor smiled his thanks and used it to phone Stark.
“Oh, hey, buddy, we've got a search party out for you,” Stark said. “Still in one piece then, huh? You didn't miss much, it's all over but the crying. I didn't even get to deploy the new missiles I put in. Captain Boy Scout gave the bad guys a lecture about their life choices, and they're all thoughtfully contemplating the consequences of their actions. Let me know where you are, we'll send someone to pick you up.”
“The sign on the shop front said 'Eleven', in the figure of the number seven,” Thor replied.
“All right, so, somewhere in the world then, that narrows it down,” Stark replied. “I'll have J.A.R.V.I.S trace the call. Stay on the line.”
“The clerk is named Juan,” Thor offered.
“It's pronounced 'Hwon',” Juan said.
“My apologies,” Thor replied.
“S'cool, man,” Juan said, quickly.
“I have been informed the correct pronunciation is 'Hwon',” Thor said to Stark.
“Still not helping me,” Stark said.
Thor looked around for further identifiers. “They sell Big Gulps and tickets for games of chance.”
“Oh, well, I know exactly where that is now, thanks, Thor.”
This was sarcasm, and Thor stopped speaking.
“All right, we've found you,” Stark said, some minutes later. “Hang tight.”
“I will,” Thor promised. “Thank you.”
He hung up the telephone and thanked Juan once more, smiling for the photo Juan was attempting to take of him on his cell phone. He exited the shop to wait.
The dog was still there.
By the time the car arrived to meet Thor, he had purchased the dog something to eat (small spicy meat sticks, which Thor enjoyed) and drink (water in a bottle, which Thor found a very odd commodity when it came from a faucet for free on Midgard, just as it did on Asgard). The dog seemed grateful for both.
“Have you wandered from your home?” Thor inquired. “Or are you without a home? You do not wear a collar. Do you have a name? Hmmm? How about Glókollur?” The dog ignored him and played with the empty water bottle. “Flakkur? Galsi? Ákafi?” The dog looked up at that. “Ákafi? You like that? It means 'enthusiasm'. You do have that.” The dog opened its mouth in a grin. “Very well, Ákafi it is.”
The car pulled up and an agent stepped out, asking cursory questions about Thor's state of health and if he required medical treatment. Thor was always anxious to avoid Midgardian hospitals and assured the agent he would be patched up well enough with Stark Tower's medical robots. He rose from the curb and stepped into the back of the car. Ákafi jumped in after him.
“Uh...” the agent said.
“If the dog wishes to travel, he may,” Thor said.
The agent opened her mouth and then closed it. She shut the door and placed herself in the front seat.
Ákafi wandered around the large expanse of the car's rear compartment, sniffing and exploring. He settled down on the seat next to Thor, putting his paws up on the arm of the door and looking out the window.
Thor's battle rage (which the Midgardians called 'adrenaline') was wearing off, and he felt the pain more acutely, even with Mjolnir in his grip. He felt dreamy, and Ákafi licked at his face as his head dropped backwards, nudging him and keeping him awake.
“See, I knew he wasn't fuckin' fine,” Thor heard the agent say when she opened the door upon their arrival. “But what do you fuckin' do when a god is all 'oh, no, milady, I fare well, do allow the beast to come with us'. Someone get Dr Kinross over here.”
Thor's memory of the next several hours was hazy. He was given pain medicine that made him sleepy and then the bones in his arm were reset and immobilized, and he was given more medicine that sent him to true sleep.
“Oh, hey,” Banner said, when Thor awoke. “You're up. Moira was worried she might have overdone it with the sedatives, but she said you kept getting out of bed and singing in Norse, so she just gave you more until you stopped. Welcome back.”
Thor blinked. “Is all well with the others?” he asked, slowly sitting up and testing out his limbs.
“Uh, yeah,” Banner said. “We all made it through okay. You must have taken a hell of a fall, your arm was—” he gestured to a picture of Thor's bones, and even Thor's untrained eye could see the cracks and displacement in them. “But, now...” he gestured to another picture, the bones now aligned and the cracks much smaller. “I just...I hope this doesn't sound creepy, but your physiology is mental.”
Thor was unsure if that was a compliment or not, but it sounded admiring, so he thanked him. He knocked on the immobilizer on his arm which, for some reason, bore drawings all over it, some of them crude.
“Uh, Tony came in here,” Banner explained. “He found a marker. No one noticed until it was too late. On the bright side, you shouldn't have to wear it that—”
He was interrupted by the sound of barking as the doors to the infirmary opened. Ákafi bounded in and leapt onto Thor's bed. Thor smiled and rubbed the dog's face.
“Okay, yeah, about that...” Banner said, scratching at his head. “What's with the dog? Agent Morales said you brought it with you? And Moira said you wouldn't let anyone take it away. We've been looking after it, but we're all sort of confused. Apparently, you just kept calling it your 'worthy friend'.“
“He is my worthy friend,” Thor said, stroking the dog's back. “He was deemed worthy enough to bear Mjolnir, weren't you? Yes. You have a strong heart. Yes, you do.”
Banner entered something onto his tablet and muttered about 'maybe a bit too high of a dose of Propofol'.
Thor was released from the infirmary that evening with the promise that the immobilizer would be removed from his arm on the morrow. He made his way up to the common rooms, Ákafi at his side.
“Pics or it didn't happen,” Stark said, when Thor explained the dog's origins to the team.
“He wants you to prove it,” Captain Rogers translated. “Um, I think.”
“You doubt my word?” Thor asked, insulted at the suggestion he might lie about such a thing.
“It does seem a little fantastical,” Agent Romanov said.
Thor felt his word should be proof enough but could see that the others doubted it. He wasn't sure himself why Ákafi had been able to lift the hammer. He wasn't sure if he could do it again, and that would be an insult to Thor's honour. However, there was no other option but to try. He removed Mjolnir from his belt, and Ákafi wagged his tail and danced about, excitedly. Thor lightly tossed the hammer, which was not quite light enough not to knock over a table. Ákafi ran after it and picked it up by its handle, trotting back with great pleasure and placing it at Thor's feet. There was a long, surprised silence.
“Well. Fuck,” Agent Barton said, succinctly.
“How the hell does that work?” Stark said. “Why does the dog get to be awesome and none of the rest of us are? It's only Captain Nice Guy who could even budge it and some mutt off the street is worthy. That's crap. We're superheroes, what's the dog ever done?”
“Saved my life,” Thor said, bending down to give Ákafi's head a pat. “Do not insult him.”
“I'm just saying, facts: they aren't adding up,” Stark said, with a pout.
“I don't know much about, um, spells,” Banner said. “But what's the exact wording?”
“'Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor',” Thor replied. He tossed Mjolnir again, and Ákafi brought it back. “Good boy.”
“Maybe animals don't count as 'whosoevers'?” Banner suggested. “Maybe that's a loophole your dad didn't consider.”
“No,” Captain Rogers said, thoughtfully. “No, I bet it's intentions. I bet it's what you're going to do with the hammer. What you want it for. A dog isn't going to try to hurt anyone with it or abuse the power.”
“That's pretty deep for a hammer,” Banner said, sceptically.
“Mystical space hammer,” Agent Barton said.
“Yeah, fair enough,” Banner allowed.
Stark looked contemplative. “So, you're saying any dog could pick it up?”
“No, we're not experimenting,” Agent Romanov said to Stark. “Thor's already kidnapped one dog, we're not stealing any others.”
“Ákafi was not stolen, he came willingly,” Thor objected.
“If we're keeping the dog, we need a name in American,” Agent Barton said. “I don't think I can say that. Owk-vi?”
“Ákafi,” Thor corrected.
“We aren't keeping the dog,” Stark said. “Pepper will kill me.”
“And I'm allergic to dogs,” Captain Rogers said. He sniffed and then sniffed once more. “No...I'm not allergic to dogs. I'm not allergic to dogs anymore.” He stood up and came over to Ákafi, crouching down and rubbing his head. “Hey there, buddy. Hi. You're a nice guy, huh? Are you a nice dog? Yeah. What a good boy.”
“Oh God,” Stark said. “Someone adult with me. You know I'm not good at it and the best grown-up here just abdicated. Bruce, back me up.”
Banner's hands rubbed together, and he shrugged. “Dogs lower heart rates, that's scientifically proven,” he said. “Might not be bad to have around.”
“Christ! Nat?” Stark said, appealing to Agent Romanov now.
“I don't care if we keep the dog,” she said. “But I hope Ákafi is a unisex name.” She gestured to where Captain Rogers was rubbing the dog's stomach. “Because that is a girl dog.”
Miss Potts arrived the following evening, entering the common room and staring at the scene before her. She did not look surprised, Thor thought. Merely long-suffering.
“Yeah, so, teal deer, we have a dog now,” Stark said, after explaining how the dog had come to be there.
“I see,” Miss Potts said. “And who do I blame for her staying?”
All parties in the room raised their hands, apart from Stark. Who then raised his when Miss Potts regarded him with the look Mother had often given Father when she suspected he was lying.
“J.A.R.V.I.S did a search,” Stark said, defensively. “She doesn't belong to anyone. She's totally free to dognap and be ours. She got checked out at the vets. She had shots. We have an appointment to have her spayed. We are 100 percent responsible. Look, even DUM-E's happy. He finally found a thing he can do. Look at him, he's glowing!”
He pointed to one of his robot companions, who was throwing a ball for Vee to fetch. The dog was renamed thus after much debating amongst the team. Thor saw no issue with Ákafi, but Agent Barton had insisted they needed something they could all say and spell. He'd suggested Lucky, but Stark had told him that was 'way too cliche'. No one liked 'Labrathor', apart from Stark, who had suggested it. Many names were suggested and rejected, but no one had objected to Vee—suggested by J.A.R.V.I.S as an easier, shorter version of Ákafi. Nor did Vee, who responded to it promptly.
“And who's going to look after the dog?” Miss Potts asked.
“We will. We totally will,” Stark said. “She jogged with Nat and Steve this morning, so we've got the exercise part covered, and she can use the balcony for her business. We can train her for that. I can programme J.A.R.V.I.S to feed her and let her out. Seriously, Pep, we've got it figured out.”
DUM-E once more threw the ball, and it hit a lamp and knocked it over.
“Almost,” Stark amended. “C'mon, Pepper. Are you seriously going to send her to the pound? She's a mutant hero dog with the power to wield the Hammer of Thor, where else is she going to live?”
Miss Potts looked defeated. “I'm not cleaning up after her,” she said. “And you'll have to decide what to do with her when you're away because I can already hear the midnight phone calls for me to come and play dog-sitter.”
“We'll get a peon—”
“Agent, Tony, or employee, I sent you a memo about calling them—”
“Whatever, we'll find someone to be a dog nanny.”
“I don't think a trained agent is going to consent to being—”
Thor was distracted from their argument by Vee arriving. She climbed up on the sofa next to him and turned in a circle, laying down with her head on his knee. Thor smiled and rubbed her head.
“Is it your wish to stay here?” he asked. “Because you can return to your freedom if you'd like. Perhaps you weren't looking for a home.”
Vee rolled over onto her back, exposing her belly and looking expectantly at him. He rubbed her stomach, and she looked happy, gently licking his arm. Thor thought she preferred a home and family.
And indeed, as Stark had said, where better for her to belong then this place, which took in all strays?