“It’s Clint’s fault. Is everyone seeing a theme to these things? Really. Clint’s fault. Clint says things on occasion, and he doesn’t really think about it, he just SAYS the things that cross his mind. Mostly, because he thinks they’re funny, and also because, well, let’s face it, he’s kind of a dick.
Now, when Thor first ended up in modern Midgardian society, he made a big ol’ crater in New Mexico. And not even Albuquerque. In the middle of the frickin’ desert. Not exactly a major metropolitan area.
I mean, when a SHIELD operation can double the town population, you’re in the sticks. When a SHIELD operation can so tip the balance of power that a town election could end with Coulson elected mayor (he declined, but very graciously), you’re in the twigs.
But anyway, Thor landed on the backend of nowhere: great pancakes, nice people (even if they don’t know a satellite from a hole in the ground, or in a hole in the ground), nice scenery, nice place to get a tan or make out with a pretty astrophysicist while her assistant makes gagging noises, but not exactly the height of modern technology.
Again, the locals found a hammer, shrugged and said, “Must be a satellite.” No. It’s a hammer. Sure, it looks different than the Craftsman version you’ve got in your truck bed toolbox, but C’MON. IT’S A HAMMER.
Anyway, New Mexico. Then the Destroyer, then back to Asgard. Then the German forest (the Avengers are still paying for that, that was OLD GROWTH, c’mon, boys, and Natasha had to go recapture Loki on her OWN, all of you have nice, big, firm… Weapons, so let’s stop waving ‘em at each other, okay?), then the helicarrier, and then New York. But Thor was really paying more attention to the fact that his brother didn’t love him anymore, and hey, giant sky monsters and an army to deal with, so he didn’t take in the sights.
So when he did finally get a chance to play tourist, it was a really big deal.
Coulson was supposed to show him around, but there was a thing at SHIELD. Tony can’t be trusted, and Natasha doesn’t do the tourist thing. Bruce is incredibly nervous in crowds, and that’s before loud blondes are yelling right next to him, drawing attention to him. Steve still gets turned around, and changes in his city still kind of get him down, so that leaves Clint.
Thor would probably have been better off on his own.
But off he went with Clint in tow, incredibly enthusiastic and ready to learn everything he can about his new home. He loves it all. Loves it. The tacky little trinket stands in Times Square and the soaring skyscrapers in midtown, the green belt of Central Park and the architectural marvels on every corner. He loves the food and the people and the constant flow of yellow taxis.
In Clint’s defense, he was really, REALLY good all day. He was amazingly good. Well, for him.
But it was a really long day, and by the time Thor had a membership at every museum in the city and had petted like, sixty dogs, and eaten a hot dog from every single cart they’d passed, and had bought Jane snowglobes and hats and t-shirts that proclaimed “I have a lover in NY!” Clint was really done with this.
He just wanted to go home and take a damn nap.
So when Thor asked, “What are the holes in the street? There is the sound of shrieking and pain coming from that one.”
And Clint missed that he was actually worried about this, and just said, “Those are the Manhattan caves. Subterranean caverns. It’s full of dragons, so don’t go down there.” And he kept walking, dragging bags full of postcards and sweatshirts and earrings and half eaten pretzels.
So he missed it when Thor, absolutely horrified by his lack of compassion for their great hosts, the good people of New York, headed straight for the subway entrance. By the time Clint realized he was gone, Thor had run up and down the stairs a dozen times, ‘rescuing’ people.
A bunch of woman and a couple of men were more than pleased to be saved. One enterprising young man headed back down twice to enjoy being carried back up. His second trip ended up on YouTube.
Clint got there just as a train and the local police showed up. There was an instant where it wasn’t clear which one of them Thor would fight first, and Clint had a momentary vision of Coulson flatly refusing to bail him out of jail this time. Panic made him talk fast. Very, very fast.
Thor was not pleased with his lies.
But one of the officers, amused now that it was clear that no one was going to press charges, and he wasn’t going to have to try to fight this guy, explained that it was a common prank to play on newcomers. And that to be a true New Yorker, Thor would have to learn to ride the subway.
This was equal parts covering for Clint, and punishing him, because Thor agreed, bought himself a pass, learned how to use the fare gates, and proceeded to settle in for the next few hours.
Here’s the thing about the subway. If you think about it, it’s kind of magical. You go underground, and step aboard, and when you come back out, you’re somewhere new. And if you’re Thor, and everything is new, and nothing holds any fear for you, and people are amazing, the subway is the best thing ever.
All the different languages and clothing and skin tones and ages, all these different people, some lost in their own worlds, some reading and listening to music and talking. There were people who were happy, and people who were tired, and people who were resigned. People going to work, and going home, and going out and going in. People alone and with their friends and holding onto children and lost in their own little worlds.
Humans are amazing, and Thor loves watching them, and talking to them, and learning and teaching.
So sometimes he’ll just wander onto the nearest train and ride all day. He’ll talk to the old women with their knitting and the young punks with their music, the construction workers with dusty boots and battered lunchboxes, and the club kids with their hipster clothes and rainbow hair. And he’ll chose a transfer or a stop at random, and emerge into the city, somewhere new. Somewhere different.
Where he can listen to a new language or eat a new food or find something stupid and touristy to bring home and enjoy the look of horror on Tony’s face when he insists on displaying ANOTHER snow globe.
Because New York is home now, and New Yorkers ride the subway.”
subway sound effects CC Sampling+ license