The first time Jane was ever called crazy, she was twelve. In fairness, though, she had just thrown a rock—well, more of a sizeable pebble—at a guy's head. On the flipside, he'd stolen her notebook and was holding it above her head, refusing to give it back.
He spat, "You’re crazy," threw her notebook on the ground and left her alone. Jane considered it a win.
The word was whispered behind her back in high school by girls who knew how to do their hair, were adept at putting on makeup, and knew what to say to boys. She liked asking questions in science class, liked positing different approaches in math. She liked being left to her own devices.
Evidently, at sixteen, being different meant she was playing with a short deck.
She fit in more easily at college, with other girls who'd never been good at high school, boys who'd been terrified by the same groups that had persecuted Jane. It gave her three years to think maybe things would be easier, now.
Then she graduated early and began her grad work at CIT. She was the only woman admitted her year. A few of her colleagues were sweet, genuinely decent guys, but most of them liked to play power games.
There were more than a few times she wished it was still acceptable to throw rocks at people, or, at the very least, that it wouldn't get her brought up on charges of battery. Instead, she got used to keeping her thoughts mostly to herself, talking to people like Erik when she needed a second opinion, people who had known her dad, or otherwise managed to see something beyond a little girl in a lab coat.
She ended up transferring to Princeton so Erik could serve as her advisor, tired of the doubt she saw in her first one's eyes, the questions always tinged not with challenge, but with straight up disbelief, as if to say, "You realize that's fucking crazy?"
The publication of Jane's thesis was met with a resounding echo of, "This is insane," throughout the scientific world. She reminded herself that people had said that about a number of great scientists, about the idea that the world was round, for fuck's sake. She ignored the mumble in the back of her mind that suggested there were a lot more people who'd come up with crazy theories that turned out to just be, well, crazy.
Instead she moved to New Mexico, to where she could continue her work. Erik helped her with funding, the two of them digging up grants from every nook and cranny, and Darcy coming along with a surprising hand at grant writing.
She knew the whispers hadn't stopped, but they were further away, and easier for Jane to pretend she didn't hear.
When Thor dropped from the sky, Jane's first thought was, "Oh shit, I actually have lost it."
Then, after a second, it became clear that Erik and Darcy had seen the whole thing, too. She didn't acknowledge it, but there was maybe a curl of warmth in her stomach, a burgeoning sense of possibility that felt a lot like the words, "Maybe not so crazy after all, huh?"