Bedsides and Crosswords

Finally stepping back through the portal to New York brought a previously unknown ease to Erik's mind. Sure the hustle and bustle and general madness of the city would normally make him uncomfortable, the open air of the facility had done little to alleviate any worries he had before their mission. If he had been concerned about his abilities and hurting others before, it had certainly only grown since then. But he had a laundry list of things he'd rather do at that moment then be introspective.

Chief among these was to get into some new clothes and get back in contact with his mom. He felt like an idiot when he had first decided to leave it behind, but with hindsight he may have been better off as it might not have survived the week. But now that he was back he had no excuses for putting off dealing with what was likely a small mountain of texts and missed calls. So stepping out of the portal he had immediately done what he could to quickly get back to his room and reconnect with his life. Though he encountered some problems with this, as it seemed the sanctum bounced him around more rooms than usual, and rather than last time when they had been full of artifacts and decorations, were decidedly more plain. Erik noted the strange route, but chalked it up to the eccentricities of the sanctum rather than any bad history with Asgardian weaponry.

Finally though he reached his room, though it still felt strange to call a room he had spent all of about 6 hours as 'his'. But it at least held all of his stuff, and that counted for something when you've done nothing but wear too small Avengers merch all weak. He practically tore the shirt from his body as he tried to carefully remove it, his eagerness to be free of it causing a few extra rips to appear. Now back into a comfortable gray tee and some fresh jeans, he hesitantly grabbed at his phone and turned on the screen. Several missed emails, a few weird app notifications, he held his breath next to the phone icon... 3 missed calls and 4 texts from his mom. Erik squinted at his phone, surely that couldn't be right. He unlocked his phone and checked the logs and sure enough he had 2 missed calls from his mom and only 1 from the hospital from today. Fortunately for him they had left a voicemail explaining that his mom was going in for her first session today and that she'd be available for a visit by 3pm. The text first started on the day that they had left for the facility, [Hey hope you found your friends, if not please let me know and we'll get you setup in a room. Be positive!], later in the day [Any updates? Let me know if you'll be stopping by for dinner. crosswords ready for you to finish], Two days later [Spoke with Dr.Blake, says treatment to start soon, gave the standard speech about risks, crosswords still waiting] and the last text was dated yesterday [Going in tomorrow, hope you're doing well, started new crossword]

Shit he was either about to die, which would be quite an impressive feat given how certain he had been of that fact several times this past week, or worse be given the lecture of a lifetime and he didn't know if he anyone had the strength to endure a Jane Foster lecture. He nearly ran out the door, but found it only opened back up to his own room, with Thunderstrike sitting neatly beside his bed. He tried again but found himself stuck in the loop, the Sanctum seemed intent that he remain in the room for the moment. "What the hell..." he whispered under his breath, the sanctum hadn't given him trouble before so what clicked with him what might have changed. He took up Thunderstrike and looked up to the ceiling, "Is this the problem?" He waited for a response and felt stupid in the ensuing silence. He grabbed at the door and found himself in the hallway with the rest of his ‘team's’ rooms along it. Well that seemed to have worked, but it created a new problem. He moved down the hallway and thought to himself how the hell he was supposed to walk through NYC with a magical mace and not stir up some weird frenzy. Others in his group might appreciate the attention but the last thing he wanted to do was to drag a media circus right to his mom’s front door. He looked down to Thunderstrike and paused as he turned a corner and found himself nearing the main stairway, yet again Thor’s ‘gift’ to him was going to be trouble than it was likely worth. He shook his head and took his first step down the stairs as he thought of a plan. Wrap it up maybe? No then that’s just as suspicious...claim it’s a cosplay thing? That might convince a few people but anyone who asked to check it out would lead to more questions and that wasn’t great. Crap he was getting nowhere with this train of thought and he had just realized he had forgotten his hat which would only make his ‘low-key’ plan that much harder. This stupid umbrel...wait...he looked down to Thunderstrike as he made the last step and stopped as his mace had changed to an umbrella. “What the….” Erik started but decided that this was probably better than nothing and that he wasn’t about to get into an argument with a house and a mace on the same day and headed out to Bleecker street. Just another guy in NYC he thought, looking like an asgardian avenger on a hot summer day carrying an umbrella…this was going to work perfectly.

The ride up wasn’t as difficult as he was prepared, ride-sharing apps were obviously a much bigger hit here than back in Broxton. The driver didn’t even give him a second glance and the only conversation between the two was, “You E-rick?” and a response of “Yessir” before they were off. Sanctuary Medical stood just as he had left it, in his mind a thousand scenarios played out of what might have gone wrong for the 7 or so days he had been gone. To see it in one piece at least ruled out some of the more apocalyptic thoughts he had concocted on the ride over. On the way to the hospital main desk he had attracted a few stares and had even gotten one person to give a short gasp in what he hoped was just a moment of shock at his stupid umbrella. The head nurse at the desk had given him a look and motioned off to the side, “Hero visits started a few hours ago, you’re late but you can get into costume down the hall there.” Erik nearly followed her direction for a moment before stopping and correcting her, “Uhh sorry, actually I’m here to see my mom? Jane Foster? She’s in room….314A I think...I’m her son Erik Foster.” The nurse looked him over with a curious glance and clicked about her computer screen for a bit. “Okay, here she is. You said that you’re her son?” A few more clicks around on the computer, “And here you are, sorry darling, you just looked like..” “Oh that’s no worry ma’am. I get that a lot.” He didn’t like interrupting people but he found it helped immensely to stop the comparison talks early.

Again he found himself at the doorframe to his mother’s room, the afternoon sun glistened on the river outside and Jane Foster had her nose deep in a textbook. She looked worse than when he last saw her, though she always did after treatment sessions. He braced himself for the next few moments and found himself gripping Thunderstrike tighter than ever before. Holding his breath he gave a knock to the doorframe, “Mom?”. Jane picked her head up from her book and stared at her son with a squint for a moment before a smile warmed up her face, “There you are Erik, I was wondering where you had gotten off to. I left the crosswords on the table over there.” She pointed to the tabletop where indeed a small book of crosswords sat beside a red pen. “I handled the verticals so you’re on horizontal duty again.” He was shocked to say the least, he was ready to handle poison, vitriol, downright anger at his actions, but instead it was like nothing happened.

Clearly the treatment was having some side-effects he thought and made his way to her side rather than the table, “Mom, are you doing okay? I’m sorry I was gone for so long I would have called but-” Jane jumped in on his train of thought, “No buts mister, you have crosswords to do.” He considered it again for a moment but couldn’t leave the matter alone, he rested the umbrella on the bedside, or rather the floor beside the bed and put a hand onto the mattress, “You’re not mad?”. His mother put a light hand on his, “Why would I be mad sweetie? You were busy out with your friends and you left your phone didn’t you? You never take that with you when you think it’s going to get busted because of you.” Alright, he thought, the treatment might not have affected her mental state at all it, but Jane noticed his spot of hesitation, “You were out with your new friends right? Niko and Theo? There was another news story about them, they look much younger than they are.” “Well yeah but..I mean I was with them and some others but're not mad?” Jane now scowled a bit at him, “Erik it sounds like you want me to be mad at you. Don’t you remember who your father is? You don’t think I haven’t dealt with this sort of thing before? At least you have a phone.”

The comparison didn’t put his mind at ease like it may have intended, and he felt anger bubble up his throat, “Yeah well I wasn’t out saving the world, and I’m the type of person to leave someone they care about in a hospital bed.” Jane now gripped her sons hand a bit harder, “Erik please-” He pulled his hand away and walked over to the table, “No it not okay! I left you here without so much as a message telling you where I was going! You didn’t even know I had reached the Sanctum! It’s ridiculous! I left you alone when you need me most! I’m an idiot and I don’t get why the woman who would make me re-do astrophysics equations at 2am is all of a sudden letting me get off so easy!” Jane now gave a scowl and her tone changed to one Erik was much more familiar with, “Seggr Erik Foster-Thorson, if you want me to be mad, I’m mad that you’re causing such a scene about this now. I don’t have to explain every action in my life to you and I’m doing just fine on my own thank you very much. Dr. Blake is taking very good care of me and my treatment session was delightful thank you for asking.” He nearly bit his tongue at the use of his full-full name, it sounded so unnatural even in her voice. He looked ashamedly off to the table and took up the crosswords book, his rage falling just as easily as it had risen, “I’m...I’m sorry mom, I just want to be better than that and I don’t understand…” He heard the rustling of sheets and saw his mom slowly make her way over to him, arms outstretched for a hug, “Shh honey, I know you want to. But you’re too hard on yourself. There are a lot of big changes going on and it’s all a lot to get used to I know.” He embraced her, extremely carefully, and the pair didn’t say anything for a minute, both likely thinking out some other little argument they’d like to have or explanation they might add if they could put it together fully.

“I’m sorry, you’re right, I’s been a hectic few days and I don’t think I’ve done anything right.” He sat down at the table and was shortly joined by his mom. “Now I know that’s not true Erik, what happened?” “Well...this is going to sound crazy...we went to the avengers facility was…a lot of things...I think I managed to piss off nearly everyone there one way or another.” His eyes floated to the side of the bed and the umbrella, “Oh and I found...I mean I guess it found me there…” He got up and picked up Thunderstrike, holding it up for his mother to see as he came back to the table. Jane gave it a puzzled look and then shifted the look to Erik, “You found an umbrella? Granted it’s a nice-” ”No, no, Mom it’s not an umbrella.” “Are you sure sweety? Because it looks pretty close to what most experts including myself would call an umbrella” He gave his mom a look to try and convey his seriousness, “No I swear, this is Thunderstrike, I think Thor left it at the facility...did he...did he ever bring this up?” Jane gave a thoughtful look out to the river, Erik noted that she had gained a more wistful look to her whenever she reminisced about Thor. He waited patiently, letting the umbrella sit at his leg.

Eventually she returned, “He did bring up something about speaking to dwarves or something. Nidavellir I think, which I didn’t think was actually a real place but that happened a lot with your father. This was also around the time he gave me that amulet you’re wearing.” She pointed toward his chest about where the necklace hung as Erik reflected on the thought of the realm of the dwarves. “I’m sorry I can’t recall him bringing anything else up about it, but I think it’s good you have it.” “What? Why? What do I need with a magic mace?” “Well…” she tried to lead him to the thought but picked up the trail anyway, “if you’re going to be working with the new Avengers I think you’d need all the resources available to you right?” Erik looked at the mace and then back to his mom’s soft smile, “I guess you’re right just feels like one more thing to mess up.” Again Jane placed both hands on her son’s and met his eye, “You won’t because I know you won’t, even if you think you mess everything up.” “I don’t know about that I think some other people might agree I mess things up. Like I said I’m pretty sure the whole trip to the facility was just one giant screw up.” This time though he didn’t move his hands and his mom smiled a bit wider, “Well let me know what happened and I’ll let you know how silly you sound." She took her one hand off and opened up a fully completed book of crossword puzzles, "And I messed up too, I got bored and finished all your verticals yesterday, sorry. But you need to tell me, did you meet any other cute girl Avengers?”

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