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The Weight of the World

Chapter Text

Stiles Stilinski received the text that started the falling dominoes to the ruins of his Beacon Hills life on a Saturday morning at precisely 8.56 a.m. The text was a simple order of 'come to the loft' sent by his further and further estranged best friend, Scott McCall.

He was trudging through the woods on the look-out for Theo the night before, so he figured that he could just go straight to the loft without coming home. Stiles always knew that Theo was trouble with the devil's horns; this was confirmed after the night on the hospital and when he threatened to reveal what happened to Donovan.

Inside the loft, the whole pack was gathered. Scott, Lydia, Isaac, Kira, Malia, Liam, Jackson and even Derek and Cora were there. The only surprise that shouldn't have surprised him was Theo. Of course that lying motherfucker would be there, cause why not? Stiles was rarely included in any pack meetings nowadays but finding out that the outsider was included was a whole new level of 'low blows'.

"What's going on?" Stiles asked, letting the question hang in the air, uneasy from the glares and queased faces he was receiving.

Scott's glare was the harshest one, a smirking Theo lurking right behind him. "I heard what you did to Donovan."

Oh, that little fucker he's going to--

"You killed him."

Wait, what?! Stiles backed in his mind, whiplashed by the accusation. “Killed him? Scott, no.” He stepped forward only to be cut by Malia’s growl. Because apparently that was the thing now, Malia and Scott, slutting up the halls of Beacon Hills High. “It was self-defense.”

“Self-defense?” Isaac scoffed, followed by a couple others from his back. “We heard of how you stabbed him with a construction pole in the library. And how you hid the body.”

“I didn’t sta—“

“Stiles, that’s cruel. That’s murder. At the very least you shouldn’t have gone through hiding his body and just confessed to the police.” Kira, sweet loving adorable Kira, was even on Theo’s side. “Your father’s the Sheriff, Stiles.”

“When it was the Nogitsune,” Scott started, making Stiles flinch noticeably, “I understood that you had no control over that. But now?”

Stiles sighed, frustrated and betrayed by how the pack was treating him. “I’m going to repeat myself. It was self-defense. Donovan attacked me out in the parking lot and chased me inside, then the scaffolding fell while I—“

“Stop lying, Stiles!” Lydia screeched at him. The girl was admittedly close to the boy, but that was before she knew how much the boy had to offer to the world. She grew up in a world without competition, Lydia Martin who had everything she wanted in a snap would bound to be jealous. “Theo told us everything.”

“Theo?” Stiles breathed, his eyes stinging from the fact that his pack—who he had died for and got possessed for and killed for—was abandoning him for fucking fourth grade (really though?) classmate unknown Theo.

“We know he was targeting your father and I get your intent of protecting him. But we don’t kill people Stiles. We don’t kill those we’re trying to save. We’re better than that. There’s always another way.” Scott reasoned, Theo’s hand on his shoulder for a false sense of comfort.

Stiles took one deep breath, knowing a loss in words when he sees one. No one will understand, anyways. “Fine, what is that you want? For me to apologize?”

“You’re human. You’re weak, you’re reckless and you’re a burden that needs protecting, dragging us down on top of a hindrance.” Derek, who had been quiet this whole time with an even more quiet Cora by his side, spoke up with a shake of his head. “We want you out.”

The red-hooded boy had to literally swallow his cry; he could hear a few whimpers from the pack, particularly Cora, Liam and surprisingly Jackson, but he did his best to ignore them. “Out?”

“Of the pack.” Scott finished his sentence.

The sun shone through the tall wall windows, glaringly bright, at that moment. Streaking the pale mole-stricken face with a hint of shadow. The pain in his eyes and the tears glazing over, it was too much to bear. Betrayal. “Fine.” Was all Stiles could say, his throat choking from the need to shout. “Have fun not dying without me. I won’t help even if you begged.”

He was out the door, in his jeep, and driving aimlessly before the wolves could even snark a reply. On the wide expanse of the road, he drove and drove. Without a destination but home, added with a million detours. Stiles rationally knew this was coming. It didn’t make it any less painful. They were the closest thing to family he had, and they threw him away like yesterday’s garbage.

What hurts most is that everybody seemed to have agreed with Theo. He’d known that Scott, Malia and Kira would be on Theo’s side because those three come in a weird package. Lydia and Isaac though? He was there for Lydia and saw the real beauty between the facade. He was the one who comforted Isaac through his nightmares from both his father and Allison. Stiles wasn’t sure about Cora, Jackson and Liam, but they didn’t come to his defense. That said enough.

But Derek? In the base terms, Derek and Stiles never got along. Stiles knew that. But for the past months, they’ve reconciled. They’ve talked and Stiles became the closest thing to a confidant the former Alpha had. He should’ve known it would be like this. Fucking Derek and his stupid fucking hair and jaw.

Stiles hit the brakes abruptly, the jeep jostled by the motion. His feelings were a turmoil of anger, pain and sadness. He didn’t know wether to scream or cry or punch a whole in the wall. The jeep started shaking. The ground underneath it forming hairline cracks. The coins in the cupholder rattled against each other before bouncing off the car, embedding itself into the dashboard and door of the car. Stiles snapped from his rage, controlling the magic boiling in his heart.

Another thing Stiles kept from the pack was his magic. He was human but he wasn’t weak. He was a Spark; a natural magic user. He was going to tell them eventually, but now?

All the emotions finally broke loose in a loud cry. Wrecking sobs tore through his body, slumped against the steering wheel. He’d been driving for the whole day and he still found no answer. All he knew was the pain, unbearable and scarring. He had cried until nightfall that day, for the loss of his pack. Loss of his family. Loss of his home. All he wanted to do was run.

And so he did.

That night, he applied for a transfer of school through his father’s email, pending on the next location. Grabbing multiple books he had of his magic and supernatural, he reached for his laptop to copy the bestiary and important documents and programs into a USB. He packed it into a duffel bag and withdrew the money he’d hid under his bed from the Benefactor’s funds; it was never returned and split evenly between Scott and Stiles after all their bills were paid. $50,000 cash, all in untraceable 100 dollar bills. He left his phone in the bath tub, ruining the data inside so they couldn’t track him. He’d left a note for his dad in the dining room, telling him that he couldn’t bare to stay and leaving, and he didn’t feel sorry for leaving. After all, his father was never home, traumatized and scared by his son ever since the possessing.

The place he once considered home, a warmth of comfort in a bad day, was gone. The memories of his mother long faded from the couches and walls of the Stilinski household. He looked back through his life and all it had been through. He’d found out all the things that had gone bump in the night existed. He’d been through horrors and pain unimaginable to what a sixteen year old should have been familiar with. He’d grown and lost so many things, and now, two years later, became a person his past-self wouldn’t recognize.

Did he regret it? Honestly, no. If he hadn’t brought Scott out in the woods that night, none of it wouldn’t have happened and they could’ve avoided a lot of tragedies, yes. But all the lives they’ve saved would've died. He has to believe that was more true than the lives that were lost that could’ve been saved otherwise.

In the end, reflecting on everything, Stiles knew. This changed them for life. They matured, hardened like officers and tortured like veterans. Scott desperately kept hold of his innocence and scout-boy honors and moralities, Stiles knew that too. He couldn’t blame him. Scott will always be Scott. He had never had to make a hard choice because everyone else was doing it for him. One day he’ll learn, or maybe not. But that has nothing to do with him now.

With that, Stiles slung his duffel into the backseat of his mom’s Jeep and closed the door. Sliding the gear to drive, he headed for the airport. Not even looking back once.

He wasn’t sure where to go or what to do, or even less, what he wanted to be. But he was sure that he’d start over. For better or worse, New York is his future.

Besides, nothing can possibly beat the dangers of staying in Beacon Hills, right?

Chapter Text

Getting to New York was relatively easy enough. Stiles ditched the jeep halfway through the ride to the airport, he drove all the way out of California to Nevada and took a cab from there to the airport. That way he could buy time from the on slaught man-hunt that his dad would put out for him (maybe, he wasn’t sure whether his dad or pack cared where he went). 

One airplane flight later, he was in the bustling city of New York; the land where all dreams are made possible—a rather odd and very misleading statement; correction: New York, the land where all dreams are possible, only if you have the money, connection and face for it. 

Anyways, the first order of business Stiles made was to take the high school exam to get his certificate for ‘finishing school’, because if he went through 10 years of hell he better damn well get something out of it. Maintaining a GPA of 4.9 was a miracle in all the shit storm he’d been through, accounting that he was taking 4 AP classes. With that, he applied for a double major course in criminology and medicine in NYU, with the money from his college savings and a half-tuition scholarship. 

After all was done and well, he found a decent studio apartment above the bookstore he worked in; a special discount from the owner who he helped avoid a falling bookshelf when he was there for the first time. He barely furnished the studio, only added a bed without frames but an overload of pillows and comforters. He didn’t even buy a TV, only a radio for the local news and none of that FOX bullshit. 

Of course, he furthered his study in his magic; understanding the basics of the whole spark natural magic he had, after all he skipped everything and went straight for the hardcore against battling the  Dread Doctors. He learned a few things being in New York for the first month; he met a weird monk-like dude in a museum, who thought him the truth about Sparks and what he was. He’s always had a tether to nature, but that apparently meant he was an Elemental Spark. Who knew? 

Sad to say, he was majorly disappointed when he found out that he couldn’t have a wand or his own Dumbledore. That magic doesn’t exist. Nonetheless, he was still enthralled by his own ability to control the four elements. He excelled at controlling the earth and water; his fire and air still unstable but steadily growing. 

In the first month he’s been in New York, he’s met more magicians than he knew existed, albeit only two and one of them was his landlord-boss, the other an unknown sassy monk (which was in all the ways weird but a wonderful accident as he’d expected). Stiles visited the local New York pack to announce his presence and was offered the emissary position to which he politely declined; that pack bullshit was out of his life forever, he’s not going anywhere near that no sire. But, he didn’t want any enemies so he made an alliance with them; apparently Sparks were very well-regarded and respected in the supernatural industry, so huh. 

So far, his life was turning out to be quite the normalcy, if you discount the occasional once-week-monster-hunting (New York has an abundance of crazy wild supernatural creatures). It’s like they had a schedule of who’s going to wreak havoc next for each week of the month, it was exhausting. He's faced vampires, rogue werewolves, ghouls, succubis and incubis (a very fascinating and deadly experience, mind you), and he was finally getting use to the life he’d have built for himself in the 3 months he’s been here. 

He even has his own favorite customer at the bookstore; a ridiculously handsome and charming hunk of a blonde that had the manners of a gentleman from the 1940’s, a rare oddity but a welcomed surprise. That’s when you know you’re living the regular New Yorker life (and the occasional cursing to cab drivers who barely avoided hitting you in the sidewalk). 

Stiles was happy, and of course that’s when the world decided he’s been taking a 3-month-too-long life vacation. Because the world of the weird and supernatural extraordinaire couldn’t survive without Stiles somehow getting dragged into the middle of it. Fuck you, world. 

To be fair, in hindsight, it was technically his fault. He didn’t mean to hack into the intelligence servers of the government, but he needed to find out how much the government knows about and deals with the supernatural world. Imagine his surprise when he was abruptly abducted—no excuses, it was still an abduction, Stiles would swear that up and down to Merriam-Webster—with a bag over his head into a van with a syringe of anesthesia (he suspects benzodiazepines or ketamine with the rate that it worked at). 

He came to with a throbbing headache and a bagful of questions, starting with ‘Am I Dead’ and ‘Not-fucking-Again’, the latter directed to the beings in the sky—he’s open to religions, Stiles Stilinski is a man of respect, thank you very much. 

"Wow, the amount of treatment I am receiving is spectacularly new and fascinating, if not harsh and dehumanizing." Stiles snarked, head bag taken off of him. The metallic paneled room, or should he say holding interrogation cell, flooding his eyesight. "Do you guys have a Yelp-like system, I'd rate it a quality top score of negative 5."

His abductor was a man with a strictly pressed suit and a receding hairline, but it strangely works in an oddly charming and sleek way. “Do you know why you’re here, Mr. Stilinski?” Damn, even his voice is clandestine.

“No, but I do know from experience that I have a magnetizing presence to abductors and kidnappers.” Stiles smiled, having the whole ‘kidnapping interrogation’ routine memorized down to a T. 

The agent returned his smile with a plastic one, sliding a report on the metal table, which, oh look, he was handcuffed. Fun

“It says here that your name is Stiles Stilinski, an outstanding student with an impressive GPA and record in NYU, majoring in two very oddly combined majors. But your real name is redacted and your records scrubbed clean, although we were able to find the suppressed large numbers of police reports connecting you to an alarmingly frequent animal attacks, deaths and bombs.” The agent read off from the report he undoubtedly broke laws to get since Stiles had classified his file as a countermeasure to hide his identity. He directed an eyebrow raise at him. “So, tell me, Mr. Stilinski, who are you?” 

"A concerned citizen with astonishingly bad luck." 

The agent blinked an unimpressed glance at him. ”You hacked national severs."

"I can neither confirm nor deny that until I am within presence of my lawyer or does the law not apply here? Do you guys work outside the law? Because I think you're an independent structure, with more a power hierarchy than the law-abiding systems.” Stiles wasn’t about to fold, he’d been beaten down so many times, it feels like another Tuesday to him. 

“It’s clear that you were trying to access documents that were flagged as confidential." Stiles winced a little at that statement, because he thought he’d hid his tracks pretty well, but the Agent saw his reaction and smiled a little bit wider. 

But Stiles is a master at ignoring the problem until it goes away, it’s his life motto that kept him alive for many years, so he evaded. ”I’m confused though, why are you involved in whatever it is you think I did?" 

The Agent, to which he still does not know the name of but is surprisingly starting to like, blinked, caught surprised by the question. ”What?” 

Stiles Stilinski, supernatural extraordinaire, folded his hands on the table as best as he can with handcuffs on, knowing he’s got the man’s attention. ”Not saying I did do what you think I did  which I completely did not do, but isn't this supposed to be handled by the direct government investigative or at least intelligence agencies like FBI or the CIA, of which owns the 'national servers' I definitely did not hack into.” The Agent blinked once, a tick of the jaw that he wasn’t sure was a suppressed smile or blatant surprise. “I’d be honored if the NSA come greet me themselves but I didn’t think this would be a matter of national security if not a mere curiosity in the unknown."

"We are the FBI." Phil Coulson flipped his badge to show Stiles his credentials. Phil Coulson, huh, never thought Stiles would meet him. 

"Huh, funny. I didn't ask to see your credentials, which yes you were trying to assure professionalism and authenticity, but masking it with an initiative of forcing me to trust you, a common trick of illogical fallacy.” His words ran out of his mouth with precise execution, as he can see the man Phil Coulson start to break away from his serious disposition. “It would've worked better if you didn't. Because that badge is a fake. Credentials aren’t supposed to have ID numbers, only badge numbers, unless its on their card which they only use in the office."

Coulson smiled, his mind racing with thrill from the fast conversation—by far the most interesting interrogation he’s had in a while. "Aren't you scared? Someone pretending to be FBI all the while kidnapping you for an information we might or might not torture out of you." 

"You won’t resort to torture.” Stiles returned a tooth filled smile at him, breaking the egg once and for all. “It’s not in the SHIELD books."

Weirdly enough, he could hear a bark of a woman’s laughter outside the walls. Coulson spluttered for a while, his mouth opening and closing with a tilt of his head and squinted eyes. “How do you know who we are?” 

“There’s not a lot of clandestine force that works outside the law handling odd extraterrestrial matters. It’s not that hard to link SHIELD into it.” Stiles waved his hands only to yelp in pain due to the metal restrictions digging into his flesh. “Plus, I’ve been following your activities as best as I can.” 

Coulson raised his eyebrow. “Why exactly?” 

“A gentleman has to have a few hobbies, how else are we supposed to live in our white supremacy?” Stiles blinked his eyes innocently, sarcasm dripping through his lashes. 

Coulson let a little grin break from his poker face, so Stiles called it a win. Establish a connection is something you’d want to do in a hostage situation. But he was sure he didn’t need it. 

“So, Mr. Stilinski, do you know what’s about to happen?” Coulson asked, the file long forgotten. He was curious to see how much this kid knows about their operation and how they worked.

“You’re gonna lock me up in some cold dark tiny room where you keep all prisoners in with a scary nondescript name like ‘the Fridge’ or ‘the Sandbox’.” Stiles winked at Coulson, enjoying the twitch in his eye when he hit the nail. “Or you’re going to let me go and hope that I’ll keep my mouth shut.” 

The bark of laughter came back, following a deep chuckle. Maybe the room wasn’t as sound-proof as he thought. Coulson let a long weary sigh escape his mouth, but he was also failing to hide his smile to the constant surprise the man Stiles Stilinski turned out to be, “There’s a third option.”

Stiles raised his eyebrows in a challenge. 

“Join SHIELD.” Coulson offered, leaning forward in his chair. “We could use someone like you.” 

Stiles almost laughed, barely containing it. “And what exactly is someone like me?” He hadn’t shown his magic or his supernatural knowledge and connections. 

“Someone with a fast wit and intelligence, a thirst for knowledge and a very adept way at talking out of trouble.” Coulson explained, the boy reminded him vaguely of a fusion between Tony and Skye—Daisy, he corrected himself—which was either a really scary horrible mix or a spectacle to behold. “Plus, I’m pretty sure you’ve hidden a few tricks up your sleeves. You’ll be an outstanding operative.”

It was his third month in New York, and Stiles admitted that he kind of missed the thrill of adventures and not-dying every second of the day, despite how taxing it was. He felt a need to help, and he knew that doing things alone would only work until a certain extent. 

“First, is this really necessary though?” Stiles rattled his hands and the handcuff with it. “I’m not a hostile, I look like someone that can barely hold up in a cage fight with white church bunnies.” Stiles could tell Coulson didn’t buy the lie for a second, the guy was even tougher than werewolves and they’re actual walking lie-detectors. 

Coulson relented, showing a leap of trust on his behalf. Stiles could see himself working next to the guy, maybe it wasn’t a bad thing. “If I do accept this deal, what’s in it for me?” 

Stiles waited for the reply, expecting a threat or some greater good horse crap that everyone excuses themselves with. Coulson just shook his head, somehow reading his mind. “A fancy badge, cool toys and a hell of a story to tell your grandkids.” 

The laughter ripped from his throat in a shock of delight. Stiles liked him. He definitely likes him. He stood from his seat, straightening his hoodie. “Okay, you got me.” He waited for Coulson to stand before offering his hand. “I’m Stiles. A proper introduction is needed if we’re to trust each other, and I expect a full trust because loyalty is my first priority.” 

Coulson shook his hand, feeling a weird warmth spread through his palms. “Phil Coulson, the feeling’s mutual.” 

Stiles let go of this hands, stuffing them into his pockets while Coulson opened the doors. “I’ve got to tell you though, I’ve been through a lot so there’s nothing much that can surprise me that makes a better story than what I’ve already got.” 

The only thing he got back from Coulson was an all-knowing smile which he absolutely hates. God, he’s like another Deaton. Cryptic and enigma-like. The worst trait to someone with a deadly curiosity such as Stiles.

He figured out what the smile meant when he was lead outside the holding cell, seeing a couple of people smile at him with mirth over a touch-screen table and a huge screen that was showing the live footage of the holding cell they were in earlier. Inside a plane. 

Stiles dropped his mouth, looking to Coulson for an explanation; the smug expression on his innocent face speaking loudly to his question. 

“Welcome to SHIELD.”

That was how he got into SHIELD, completely by accident and a breach of national secret servers. It was the first domino to fall in the long run of his fate. Stiles didn’t knew it then because he was too caught up in the new excitement of being a part of the agency, but that was the beginning. Of what, one might ask? 

Everything.

 

Chapter Text

“Stiles!” Daisy shouted over the gunshots, causing a slight reverberation in Stiles’ eardrums, hiding under the open bar. 

It was his first week in SHIELD damn it. First week and straight into the hell hole of almost dying every single day of the week. He was given about two days to get his matters into order, apparently they were going to somewhere called the Triskelion, where they were going to start his training properly, since they were in a plane (he still could not believe that). 

So, technically it’s only been, what, less than five days. Which was surprisingly delightful to his knowledge. He made quick friends of Fitz and Simmons, the only two set of brains that could race with his to an educated rant of a new drug being invented or a new technological development and their ethical concerns; plus it also helped that he got on their good side when they show him the SHIELD toys. Daisy and him bonded terrifyingly quickly; he simply approached her in the command centre that he first saw them in and stood next to her while she was cracking a code, and helped her wordlessly. After that, they sat at the open bar and drank away eventually spilling hilarious jokes and giving Stiles the know-hows of the place. Apparently, Daisy was recruited the same way he did, so that’s another bonding factor. 

Mellinda May was a terrifying woman and he’s starting to think he has a soft spot for strong scary women that could stare him to death. She favored him slowly, but the key point was sitting next to her when she was doing her daily tai chi and yoga; he learned that to calm and center himself when the Nogitsune left, out of paranoia, maybe.

Antoine Triplett. Now that’s what he hasn’t figured out yet. He was the grandson of a Howling Commandos, which holy motherfucker, the Howling Commando, as in Captain America. Stiles may have questioned him on their adventures and gadgets for a little over 2 hours, but the guy didn’t seem to mind, in fact he claimed he’d love to talk to him again. 

All in all, the four days aboard the ‘Bus’ was spectacular. Until, of course, on the fifth day, they got hijacked. 

It started with the plane being hacked remotely, causing the plane to nose dive downwards. Stiles, Daisy and Trip were out on the sofa’s, playing a game of go fish when the plane started tipping and their cards flying. “What is happening?” Tripp called out. 

The acceleration downward made the gravity shift, Stiles holding on to one of the belt straps when his body lifts off the ground. “Are we crashing?!” 

Then the plane stabilized for a split second allowing Fitz and Simmons to run up the spiral staircase, falling in their steps, holding on to the railings. 

“Coulson!” That’s when a force came on top of the Bus, shaking the interior before they heard the  air-lock gate on the ceiling open. “Are we being—“ Fitz couldn’t finish the sentence when masked men came trooped down the stairs, guns blazing, “—What in the bloody hell?!” 

Trip and Daisy acted quickly, unholstering their I.C.E.R.s (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division was big on acronyms, who knew?), firing away at the intruders. Fitz threw a spare he has to Stiles, aiming himself with the railgun. 

When the nosedive continued angling the plane down into the ocean, the gunfire stopped for a moment, everyone caught unbalanced and disarrayed. 

“Is this plane water-proof?” Stiles shouted, looking out the circular window, nearly missing the gunshot to his shoulder. 

He didn’t receive an answer, nor did he need to, because right after the question was asked, the plane dove into the waters. 

“Uh, Coulson, this is not a submarine for god’s sake!” Fitz spluttered to the missing boss in question, pushing Jemma and himself into his bunk, pulling the doors half closed so he could still assist the rest in shooting. 

The lights suddenly went out, along with the AC and controls. May had shut down the plane, hoping it would reboot out of the control of hacker’s hands. 

Stiles took the advantage in the dark to knock out his opponent with the butt of his icer and the other with three dendrotoxin bullets to the chest. He felt the plane start up again, but the enemy still out numbered them.

“Daisy!” Stiles called out to the woman under fire from two men, formulating a plan. “Lead them to the cargo bay!”

The Inhuman shouted back, “What?!” 

“Just do it!” Stiles ran down the stairs, heading to the cargo bay when he fell down the last two steps due to the steep incline May had set the bus on out of the water. 

He still kept his magic a secret, and would like to keep it that way until further needed. The men came rolling down the stairs from Daisy’s quake powers with the help of the angle off the plane being almost 90 degrees to the ground. Stiles worked fast, going next to Lola when the gunfire started again, getting ready to push the cargo bay door lock button. “Daisy, hold on!” 

The woman just had about a second after the warning when the cargo doors opened, sucking the men out of the garage and nearly popping her shoulders out of place. One of the men caught Daisy’s legs, hanging on to them with one hand while the other held a gun pointed straight at her face. 

Stiles let go off his hold on Lola, quickly unloading his last bullets to the man, causing him and the man to fly out the cargo into the open air. 

“STILES!” Daisy shouted to the empty garage. She panicked, thinking she had lost their newest recruit, refusing to believe that he was gone. 

Stiles didn’t want anyone to know about his magic, but he figured one person knowing was better than dying. He controlled the air around him, pushing it forward to his will, making him fly back into the plane—simultaneously shocking the hell out of the Inhuman with vibration powers. 

He flew over to the button, hitting it with all his power causing the doors to shut back up. The two of them fell onto the floor with a body slam, knocking the air out of their lungs. They looked at each other, Daisy a mix of awe and shock while Stiles just shook his head with a wink. 

“Everybody okay down here?” Fitz popped his head from above, raising his thumbs up. 

Stiles chuckled at Daisy’s mock expression, he had rendered her speechless, that’s an achievement right there. 

“We’re all good.” 

 

~~~

 

Two days and a major clean up later, they arrived at the Triskelion. Stiles learned that the invaders were a common enemy of Coulson’s personal team called the Watchdogs. He’s fully geared in the black-jumpsuit-like apparel that all SHIELD agents are supposed to wear, debriefed on the tests and other documents he’d need to sign. 

Spending time with Coulson’s team was a good introduction to what SHIELD dealt with, Stiles was a positive thinker (a total lie, but he’s in denial what can he say), he’s decided to take only positives out of what nearly was a death mission on a flying submarine of a plane. 

Daisy had agreed to keep his powers a secret, although he could see her desperation to ask him a bunch of questions leading with ‘Was he an Inhuman’ but he wasn’t really sure. He’d never went through terrigenesis, at least not that he knows of. 

Coulson led him to the top floors--a floor that consisted of his office. Phil Coulson was a man of importance here in SHIELD, Stiles took great note of that and promised not to cross the guy when he asked him how important he was.

“Stiles?” His name sounded from one of the corridors. There wasn't a lot of people in the floor he was in, sitting down on one of the huge sofas outside Coulson's office waiting for him. 

Stiles stood and turned his head to the voice, greeted with clear blue eyes with a shade of shock and confusion--he was getting a lot of that look lately. “Oh, hey, bookworm.” 

Bookworm smiled, lips parted and still confused. "Really?"

"Hey, you’ve never mentioned your name before, Mr. Bookworm." Stiles joked with his favorite customer.

"Stiles." Bookworm shook his head in disbelief and sighed. "I've told you before, it's Steve." 

"Steve Bookworm." Stiles rolled the name around on his tongue. "It's a bit odd but it’s growing on me." 

"This coming from the man called Stiles Stilinski." Steve chuckled, stuffing his hands in his casual wear jeans. 

"I'll have you know that's a nickname." Stiles waved the banter away, his breath stuck in his throat by the way Steve was stretching his white wash jeans and casual blue training shirt. "Uh, how's the book you bought last time? What was it, 451 Fahrenheit?"

Steve's smile grew wider, his stomach fluttering by the fact that his favorite librarian employee manages to remember every single book he's bought. "It was very insightful, quite positive, and different from what I've previously read, I quite like it." 

"Your previous reads were George Orwell and John Steinbeck, I don't think your statement holds much meaning." Stiles squinted his eyes at the older man, teasing him like he always does. 

Steve read classics that he missed ever since he woke up. Other than painting and sketching, he spent his time reading novels. Back before the war, he remembered only having one copy of Dr Seuss that he absolutely loved and read over and over again. That was actually how he met Stiles. He still remembers the beanie-adorned glasses-wearing adorable young man stifling his laughter over his shoulder when the man was bent over a Dr. Seuss classic. 

"What's wrong with Steinbeck and Orwell? Why is it not insightful and positive?" Steve tested the young man, crossing his arms. 

Stiles was momentarily distracted by the muscles that poked through the sleeves, he was a growing man with a high libido—he’s allowed to stare.

"Nothing. Just that, Steinbeck and Orwell, they're views are similar to each other, so that's not much of a comparison—both led similar paths of lives. Steinbeck was a liberal pro-democratic writer and Orwell a socialist from communist influence." 

From the eyebrow raise that Stiles received, he shook his head. "My point is Ray Bradbury was a visionary, but he absolutely loathed technology. It's a dark and true prediction of what we're living in; we pay more attention to our social media and claim it's out of our hands. We're stripping away morality and our conscience under an excuse to not read books for intelligence and instead seek entertainment and happiness."

Steve nodded, thinking over his response. He loved having discussions of literature with Stiles. It was just one of his ordinary highlights of his visits to the book store.

"But still, the book writes of newfound hope and the importance of true knowledge behind words. It's quite different from the turmoil of darkness in 1984 or Animal Farm." Steve argued, watching the expression on Stiles sour, rolling his eyes. "Don't look at me like that, you're just ridiculously pessimistic and cynical."

"Spoken like a true American." Stiles pushed him on the shoulder, which was 99% pure muscle.  "You sound like one of those Captain America motivational posters."

Steve chocked on his spit, causing Stiles to reach over and pat his back. "You okay, dude?"

In his mind, Steve snarked on himself that the great Captain America's tombstone would read: death by self-induced choking. Outwards though, he nervously chuckled an assurance to Stiles that he was fine.

"Stiles, I'm done here, let's go." Coulson closed his door behind him, walking over to the young man when he saw Captain America. The fact that Coulson had a huge man-crush hero-worship on Steve Rogers was a big not-so-secretive secret, but he will deny it to his grave. "Oh, Ca-"

Steve coughed, a series of big loud coughs and several throat clearings. 

"Are you okay, Ca-" Coulson started, only to be overpowered by the loud vicious coughing by his favorite Avenger.  

When Stiles looked towards Coulson, Steve stressed his warning through a furious head shake. 

Coulson stood like a deer caught in the headlights, head angled back-wards like he always does when he has confused the hell out of his mind. 

"Oh! That reminds me!" Stiles directed his attention back to Steve. “What are you doing here? Do you work in SHIELD? I just got recruited, funny story." 

Coulson frowned, his mouth opening to question Stiles' mentality, when Steve cut him to it. "I-uh-yeah. I work here, of sorts. I would love to hear that story but it looks like you have to leave with Agent Coulson." 

“No, actually, we’re—“ Coulson slipped into the conversation but once again—

“Leaving. Busy day, today.” Steve hardened his eyes as much as he physically can at the agent. 

"Sure. You know where to find me." Stiles smiled unsurely, gesturing Coulson to the elevator. "By the way, you should really change into your uniform." He leaned forward to Steve, dramatically whispering pointing to Coulson, "He's very particular about uniformity, clandestine organization and all."

The elevator doors opened, Steve rushing them into the metal box, Stiles watching his behavior with an amused expression. "Right, yes, thanks for the warning. I'll see you soon, Stiles." 

"See you, Mr. Steve Bookworm." Stiles waved as the metal doors closed and the elevator started its descend.

Coulson stared at him like he was out of his mind.

"Why're you looking at me like that?" 

Agent Coulson stared at the elevator ceiling, letting the elevator music drown his long sigh. He looked back at Stiles, no valid explanation coming to his mind, and gently executed the most professional face palm (in Stiles’ opinion).

“What?”

Chapter Text

Coulson’s team left to go on another mission after Stiles got settled in the SHIELD headquarters. They gave him a bunk of his own and everything, even though he told them he wouldn’t need it since he’s got his own studio apartment—the smile he got in return for his explanation bodes nothing good for his future. Before they left, Daisy and Trip companied him to tour the facility, showing him the cafeteria, the command centre, which levels were restricted to which level of Agent status you were on and all the boring hierarchy that still exists even in a secret agency. This filthy, filthy world.

Fitz and Simmons showed them the lab and the gadget’s development center, which blew his brain up to bits when the learned that he was welcomed to use it whenever he wanted to. 

Coulson had that weird stare as if he was secretly assessing the man with special care like you would to a mental patient. It wasn’t unusual for him, hell, he was a mental patient once, granted he wasn’t literally present in his mind at the time, but it’s still on the records. 

Admittedly, Stiles was a bit lost on his first day there when the team left to help a fellow Inhuman named Lincoln. He got his lanyard card with his name as a level 1 Agent. He wandered through the facility once or twice before he finally gave up in trying to get a sneak peek at the black ops mission they were working on. So he decided to go on with his training. 

Stiles first held a gun when he was four, his father was a police officer so it was a given that he’d know how to fire one. He would deny it if anyone asked, but when he entered the range and saw the firearm collection, he squealed. Looking around to find the range was empty, he picked up a standard issued glock and the magazine before settling in a slot in the pistol shooting lane.

He set the target the farthest it can go.

“Don’t get cocky, kid.”

Stiles turned his head to the new voice, scoffing when he saw the choice of weapon the man equipped himself with. “It’s only cocky if I don’t make the shot.” 

“What is it if you make it?”

Stiles slotted his magazine in, pulling the slide back. “A party trick.” 

The agent beside him chuckled. “Make sure you don’t miss.” 

“Or else what?” Stiles settled the gun in his hand, facing the agent, slightly smirking. “You gonna bet on it?” 

The agent considered his proposal, humming. “What’ll you give me if you miss?” 

“Satisfaction, ego, and the feeling of accomplishment for beating a ‘kid’.”

“Cute.” He leveled his gaze at him, but Stiles knew the man enjoyed the game.  “What’ll I give you if you make it?”

“Your embarrassment.” Stiles turned back to his target, slipping on his safety goggles. “I’m a simple man.” 

The agent simply smirked, leaning back against the dividers of each slot. “Add a meal and we have a deal.” 

Stiles brought his hands up, aiming himself with the gun at the target, hiding his smirk behind his shoulder. “Just a warning, I expect a full-course french fine dining with at least a bowls worth of foie gras.”

He took a deep breath, preparing himself for the whiplash of the gun. Then he fired, emptying his magazine. All 15 shots at the human-shaped target. Perfectly rounded in the red crop circles; 5 head shots and 10 to the chest. 

The agent beside him whistled, “Guess I got to get that foie gras.” 

Stiles let a little laugh, exhilarated from the rush. He took his goggles off. 

The agent held his hand out. “I’m—“ 

“Clint Barton.” Stiles cut him off before he could introduce himself, secretly proud of the speechless look on his face all the while shaking his hand. “Hawkeye in the flesh. Tell me, how does it feel losing at your own game to a kid.” 

“I haven’t lost.” Clint laughed, pleasantly shocked. “How’d you know?” 

Stiles shrugged, unwilling to reveal how he’d known the identities of most SHIELD operatives even before he got recruited. He simply grabbed 3 arrows from the armory, tossing them to Clint, his eyes lighting up with a challenge.

“Headshots, three different targets.” Stiles provoked him. 

But Clint nodded, and to Stiles’ surprise, he made his way to the sniper range. Clint took a look back to see the kid’s eyebrows raise to his hairline. 

Agent Barton wasted no time to nock his arrows and let two arrows fly in a blink, nailing the two target’s head at it’s farthest distance. Stiles let his lip part, damn. 

“I win.” The archer grinned, nocking the third arrow into his bow, not even focusing on the target and instead looking directly at Stiles.

When Clint blindly shot the last arrow (he has a third eye, that has to be the only explanation), the circuit behind them sparked a rage before blowing out, taking all the lights down with it. 

Both of them snapped their heads to the ceiling, looking at each other with wary. Stiles chuckled nervously, “What are the chances that it’s just a blackout?” 

Clint rolled his eyes at the kid, huffing a small laugh, “In our line of work? Never.” 

The electricity was taken out, their emergency breaker kicking in place to run on limited power source, which meant the elevators didn’t work and the doors won’t open to the emergency staircase. 

Clint cursed, but moved anyways. Grabbing a tube full of arrows, he strapped it onto his back along with the compound bow he was holding. Clint took one look at the kid staring at the ceiling before handing him a handgun with two extra magazines of bullets. 

Stiles looked at him, unsure. “These are real bullets.” 

“Those are real enemies.” Clint reassured him, relieved when the kid nodded and pocketed the gun and the bullets. “Now, we need a way out of here.”

“Let me climb you.”

Clint stopped and stared at him, assessing the statement. “I’m flattered kid, but--” 

Stiles sighed. “Help me up.” He nodded to the ceiling where the air vents were attached to. 

Clint swiftly nodded at this, crouching down so Stiles could use his boost to latch on to the barred panel of the vents. He ripped it off his hinges, throwing it aside before climbing in and offering his hand down. “Come on.” 

Looking at the kid with absurdity and amusement, Clint scoffed and took his hand.

 

~~~

 

They kicked down the panel, letting it fall, before sliding out to drop themselves. Stiles pat himself uncoordinatedly, muttering, “For a secret agency, your air vents system is atrocious.” Clint shoved him in return.

As expected, the command centre was bustling with agents running around like chickens with their heads cut off. This wasn’t nearly the picture Stiles had imagined himself being in upon first time seeing the command centre, but he’ll take what he can get.

At the very least, he got to see Nick Fury. The man was even more intimidating in real life. And Stiles knew intimidation. Hell, staring the Dread Doctors in the eyes weren’t as scary as he was, and they feed on fear. 

Clint led Stiles beside him, standing right behind Nick Fury spouting orders and complaining all the while. “Would somebody please enlighten me how the headquarters of one of the most secure agencies is compromised? We don’t even exist, how is this possible people?”

“Our servers are down.” One of the agents updated from his side of the monitor, the big screen that fitted in the frontmost wall shadowing them with red highlights of it’s warning signs. “It’s a virus."

“Then counter it.” 

The agent looked away, “I can’t, sir. It’s disabled our anti-virus counterattack softwares.” 

Fury cursed, “Initiate lockdown protocol.” 

Another agent manning a monitor called out. “I can’t access the protocol, sir.” 

“Then send a notification to the men downstairs to do it manually.” Fury spelled out as if he was talking to a child. 

The agent faltered in his answer, his hand on the landline phone to his ear. “Uh, none of the communication line works sir.”

“Then what the hell can you do?” 

The agent bowed, inciting the others to do the same. “The mainframe is down, sir. I can’t do anything.” 

Fury sighed, long and tired. “That was rhetorical.” 

Stiles squeaked from his position behind Clint, “Again, seriously?” What is with his luck? First the plane now the headquarters. He’s been here for all of two minutes, god damnit. He peeked at the monitors and the screen. “It’s not just a virus, you’re being hacked.”

Clint stared at him, confused. 

The big screen popped another warning, the alarms sounding out in loud long rings that pierced their ears. “What now?” Fury stressed. 

“Someone is accessing our servers remotely, sir.” An agent from the far-right corner announced. “They’re in our hostile systems. But I can’t see what they’re doing, they’re overriding my commands.” 

Clint heard Stiles mutter a, “Told you.” 

Maria Hill strode in with her Stark pad on he arm, running diagnostics on the virus programming, settling in beside Fury. “They’re deploying the missile drones!” 

Fury closed his eyes, his brain a big drum rolling painfully in his skull, annoyed. “Where?”

Stiles moved forward to the edge of the bannister separating them from the lower ground of working agents and their monitor in long panels. He saw the agents trying to hack in with no avail, obviously, because they’re using the wrong code. No wonder they’re getting hacked every other week, these agents sucks. 

Or maybe it’s just his extreme case of bad luck and horror following everywhere he went, but he refused to accept that. He’s been through too much shit for it all to be the world’s most ridiculous occurrence of bad luck—or a family curse.

Maria Hill hopped down from the platform they were on, commandeering one of the monitors, tracking the movements of the hacker. “The drones are aimed—“ She stopped in her tracks. “Here.” 

Clint’s grip on his bow tightened. Fury frowning at the command of agents under him, “Well, stop them.” 

The agents all stopped working, looking at their director with unease. “We can’t, sir. Our access is blocked.”

Oh no, no. He got out of Beacon Hills to start a new life. There’s no way in hell he’s gonna end up blown to bits and hand his life over to agents who don’t know how to code to save his own life. 

Stiles slid himself through the spaces between the bar of the bannisters, hopping down on to one of the agent’s monitor, standing behind him. “Follow the virus.” 

The agent sitting down in front of him frowned. “What?” 

“Follow the virus and redirect it back to the originating source. If you can’t beat it, use it.” 

All the personnel working focused their attention at Stiles, even Fury was looking at him but with the intensity of a microscope. 

When the agent stilled, confused by his directions, Stiles huffed. “Oh my go—just move.” The agent once again stared at him in mock surprise. “Jesus, move!” He pushed the agent over, not minding that he fell down to the floor with a thump. He’s an agent who can’t do his damn job, he can at least take a tiny fall. 

Stiles got to work, his hands flying at the keyboard at a speed that shocked everyone. Clint felt the side of his lips pull, the kid’s just full of surprises. He leaned forward against the bannister, watching Stiles work from above. “You’re decoding the virus and rewriting it. Why?” 

“A virus is easily decoded once you know the mother key line of code that it was built upon. But smart hackers build a virus with a contingency that makes it more aggressive and malignant as someone tries to decode it.” Stiles explained off the back of his mind, unaware of the impressed looks directed at the back of his head. “To prevent that, I’m rewriting it as I go to redirect it back to the origin, making it essentially self-destruct.” 

Hill walked over to his station, hands braced on the side of the monitor, eyes following his movements. She constantly checked her own Stark pad for the progress. “One minute until launch.”

Stiles bit his lips, a bad habit. “Come on.” 

“40 seconds.” Hill reminded him. 

Stiles almost bit her hand off. “Not helping.” 

“30 seconds.” 

Huffing a breath out, he typed impossibly faster. “I’m trying to hack a complicated virus controlling a fucking nuke under pressure. It’s gonna take a minute.” 

Hill scoffed. “You have less than 20 seconds.” 

Stiles couldn’t even glare at her, his eyes stuck to he monitor. Green letters typed in a fast sequence over the black screen, racing with the red flying codes on the other side. 

“10 seconds, agent.” Hill banged her hands on the panel, making Stiles jolt. 

“Shit.” 

“5 seconds!” 

“Done!” He pushed back from the monitor in his swivel chair, hands up in the air, waiting for his code to override the virus. Then the red lights were gone and the alarms stopped, all systems turning green and back online. 

The room cheered, even Nick Fury’s perpetually stiff shoulders slumped down a millimeter. Hill let out a breath of relief, placing a hand on his shoulder and a smile that represented her apology for the pressure. The whole vicinity of the room directed their applause to him.

Clint chuckled, doing a backflip over the bannister, landing beside Stiles’ chair. “I want to scream your name but I don’t know it.” 

“Oh, right. It’s Stiles. Hi.” He waved, pointing to himself. “The new recruit. Nice to meet you.”

 

~~~

 

He didn’t know exactly how he got there, but he was in the director’s office. As in Nick Fury’s personal torture dungeon but with a magnificent view over Washington DC. Started from the bottom now he’s here. Except he really really didn’t want to be here—he’s decided that he’s going to lay low in SHIELD and kickass in the shadows. 

“Stiles Stilinski.” Director Fury drawled his name, swerving in his chair like a bond villain. “You acted out of command. You’re not an official agent, yet you inserted yourself in an operation.” 

“Inserted?” Stiles scoffed, ignoring his sub-conscious reprimanding himself to rein back the attitude. “Wow, you called that an operation? Since when was self-sabotage an ‘operation’? You’re doing your enemy’s work for them.” 

Nick Fury frowned. Holy shit, he’s in big troubled. To be fair though, Nicholas J. Fury perpetually frowns. It’s his image, goes with the whole eyepatch long coat assemble. 

“You could’ve compromised the situation.” 

“Compromise a situation where your headquarters is already compromised?” Stiles quoted the director’s words, openly chuckling. “Yeah, I would love to see how that works.”

He should’ve listened to his sub-conscious, but they’re called sub-conscious for a reason—they’re only half conscious over your brain. 

Fury’s eyebrow twitched. “You risked the lives of countless agents.” 

“Excuse me for trying to do a job that your ‘countless agents’ obviously can’t. I mean, seriously, where do you recruit these people?” Stiles leaned back into his chair, very tempted to kick his feet up on to the director's desk, but very logically decided not to—because that’s his director. “Do you just put up non-conspicuous ads on craigslist looking for people with credible poker faces and maybe a decent right hook?”

After a long stretch of silence filled with Stiles beating himself up in his brain formulating ways of quick death before the guy decides to torture him, the conversation—if he could call it that—went on. 

“Who the hell are you, Mr. Stilinski.” Director Fury stated; the intonation was a statement, yet there’s still a question. Stiles did not even understand the grammar of how that worked.  

Stiles shook his head in disbelief, muttering to himself, “I have a very weird feeling of déjà vu here.”

“Whoever the hell you are, you knew exactly what was going on while my trained agents of over 5 years could not bat a single fucking eyelash.” Fury laced his hands and propped his elbow on his desk. “How?”

“It’s not exactly rocket science.” Stiles leaned forward, his elbows raising up to imitate Fury’s position but stopped midair from the glare he received. He cleared his throat, starting over. “Your firewalls were breached by someone good enough to hack it.” 

Fury stared him down. “Our firewalls are airtight, it’s unhackable.” 

“Oh trust me, I’ve seen tighter. Nothing’s unhackable, not even Tony Stark’s software.” Stiles trailed off. “Unless—“ 

Director Fury’s eyebrows raised impossibly higher. “Unless what?” 

Stiles smiled, big and bright. “Nothing.” 

He received an unmoving and unconvinced stare in return, but Stiles just kept on smiling, testing the patience of his new director—which is probably not a good move considering Nick Fury might just be one of the most dangerous men in the world, and he’s his new boss. 

“Well then, Agent Stilinski.” The gaze Fury had on him intensified at the classification title. “There’s a system consisting of line of commands and directives to ensure that a situation like this never happens. It’s called SHIELD protocols. Make sure you look it up.” 

Stiles nodded his head stiffly, itching to remind him that the hypothetical situation happened already, but swallowed his remarks. It almost worked, until he reached the door and stopped at the handle. Well, at least he tried.

“You’re welcome, by the way.” Stiles turned back despite his better judgement. “That’s called manners. Look it up.” 

 

~~~

 

Clint Barton was waiting for him outside when he (ran out of) left the director’s office. The smug bastard was smiling at him. 

Stiles winced at the door behind him, tired. “Is he always like that?” 

Clint shrugged. “Just to those on his radar.” 

The scene that had happened in the office replayed in his head like a b-rated horror comedy. Or the start of a really bad porn, and Stiles is not amused. “Great.” He groaned. “I fucked up my career before I even started.”

“On the contrary, I think he quite likes you.” Clint nudged his shoulder with his own, finding amusement at the boy’s behavior. 

“Oh yeah, what makes you say that?” Stiles narrowed his eyes at the agent, his sarcasm snapping back into place. “The two-hour cold coffee you had while waiting for my threatening lecture?”  

Hawkeye crossed his arms, pushing back against the wall from his leaning position. “Well, if he didn’t, you’d be dead.” 

Somehow, that wasn’t as reassuring as Stiles thought it was supposed to be. Dreading the rest of his SHIELD career, knowing he’s going to have hell for testing the director. “Kill me, please.” 

Clint took a slight pity to the kid, attesting to the sentiment he had, but for completely different reasons. He slung a hand across the boy’s shoulder. “I’ll get you two bowls of foie gras.” 

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Stiles leaned at the arm, feeling Clint drag him in the hold towards the elevators. “I just saved your sorry ass, you owe me a fancy candlelit dinner and an accompanying string quarter.” 

“Three bowls of foie gras and maybe one candle.” Clint hummed his offer, playfully weighing the options. 

The younger shook his head. “Three bowls of foie gras, one candle and a cellist.” 

“Four bowls of foie gras, one candle and a live recording of Bach’s cello suite no.1 in G major.”

Stiles’ face broke out in a grin. “Deal.” 

Chapter Text

“Two hostile takeover attempts in over a week, I think you might be cursed.” Coulson smirked, relishing himself in the groan he got as a reply. “I’ll book you an exorcism.” 

“I don’t think that’ll work unless you want to drown me in holy water.” Stiles waved his hands lazily, his head still tucked into his resting arms. He could hear the laughter through the speaker of his laptop, Daisy, he figured. 

Coulson smiled pitifully at him through the screen, having heard of the disaster in the Triskelion and the heroics of their new recruit. Coulson would be lying if he didn’t feel a tad bit proud and smug for that, after all, he was the one who found Stiles. 

The doorbell rang, signaling a new customer entering the shop. Stiles apologized to Coulson, shutting down the video call from his team and closing his laptop to exit the office in the back. Since Director Fury had vouched for his skills and assigned him as an agent inconveniently after their last meeting (Stiles still swears that it was some form of punishment through a reward, but he still hasn’t figured out how that works out in the long run so right now it’s in the back burner of his mind). 

He was given a week off celebratory vacation due to his help in the Triskelion, thus he went back to New York and was manning the bookshop while catching up with his studies at NYU. Stiles was thrown aback by his schedule; he really should’ve thought this through, being an agent means that his education was going to be in big jeopardy, he’s at a crossroads. But, since Stiles always liked to get an early start in his course, he wasn’t missing much at all.

Stiles closed the door behind him, “Hello, welcome to—“

“Is this an original version?” A man in a suit questioned, holding a signed first edition copy of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, standing next to the open glass book case in the center of the shop. 

“Uh, that’s supposed to be locked.” Stiles pointed at it, dumbfounded.

“You mean this thing?” The man tossed the broken lock towards Stiles’ general direction, almost hitting the owner’s favorite vase before Stiles caught it with a flail of hand. 

Sties inspected the lock in his hand, the old-model of the lock busted. “This was vintage.”

The man gasped in a loud breath, bending over to trail his fingers over a typewriter. “This is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s typewriter, the edition he used in writing The Lost World.” He stood a little straighter, humming. “But it wasn’t really popular since it didn’t feature Holmes, but still a masterpiece on it’s own.” 

“You broke a fucking vintage.” Stiles repeated, still a little dumbfounded. But, to his defense, the lock was made in 1976. It was a fucking antique padlock without a key—you’d need to turn the wheels to enter in a combination—and it was fucking cool, and it was fucking broken. 

“How have I not heard of this place?” The man stood up in full height, turning around to inspect the store, his back still facing Stiles. “How much do you think I could buy this for? 35 million? Including all the antiquities of course.” 

“This was Russian made.” Stiles trudged forward, waving the lock to the man’s direction. “ A Russian made antique turner padlock, do you know how rare that is?” 

The man turned, and Stiles was a little taken aback, but hey, his lock was broken. A crime is still a crime, his inner fangirl could wait a while. 

“I’ll get you a new one, I have contacts in Russia.” The man in the suit waved the issue away with his hands, as if that was a consolation. “40 million?”

Stiles shook his head rapidly, squinting his eyes. “No one’s buying anything.” He snatched the book still in the man’s hand, caressing it in his arms once he had it. “Or touching anything.” 

The man gave him with a look of curious amusement. “Do you not recognize me?” He looked around the empty bookshop. “I thought everyone knew me.” 

“I don’t know, you’re a bit hard to recognize what with your inflated ego blocking most of your face.” Stiles snapped at the man. 

“So you do know me.” The man smiled, fixing his suit as if he just took a compliment. 

Stiles huffed to the top of his tuff sticking out from his beanie, moving past him to return the novel into the casing. “What do you want, Mr. Stark?” 

“Please, it’s Tony.” Tony Stark stuffed his hands into his pocket, head pivoting to follow his actions. “Mr. Stark is my dad.” 

“Who is no longer of this world, my condolences. Thus the title’s free to give.” Stiles placed the book back in it’s holder, closing the case as best as he can without a lock. “So, Mr. Stark, what can this lowly bookshop employee do for you?” 

“Lowly bookshop employee?” Tony smirked, not buying any of his game. “If any lowly bookshop employee could hack through my firewalls, then I would not be a genius playboy billionaire philanthropist.” 

Stiles narrowed his eyes at Tony. “You’d still be a playboy philanthropist which is much more than most people could say.” 

Tony hummed in response, following the kid around through the bookstore. “So, how did you do it?” 

“If I told you, I won’t be able to hack it anymore.” Stiles reasoned, busy shelving the books back in order. “So no, I won’t tell you.” 

“A ha!” Tony snapped in front of him, causing Stiles to slam back into a book shelf. There is something with this universe and throwing Stiles into rough platforms that goes hand in hand, and he’s had about enough of it. “So you admit hacking into SHIELD.” 

Stiles smiled fakely, rather pissed at the mild ache at his cranium. “I’m sorry if you haven’t heard of the ‘operation’ that happened recently, but I didn’t hack into SHIELD servers, someone else did.” 

Tony leveled him with a knowing look. “You and I both know that SHIELD servers weren’t hacked.” Stiles raised his eyebrow in a challenge, so Tony went on. “They don’t need to hack in if they’re already inside the system.” 

Stiles whistled, making an action to move away from the bookshelf and slide out of Tony’s bubble of interrogation. It’s not like he committed a crime, so why was he constantly getting interrogated damn it? “Those are some big claims, Mr. Stark. You’re stating treason.” 

“You said it first.” Tony blocked his way, trapping Stiles between the bookshelf and himself with his arms acting like cages. “In Fury’s office.”  

“I claim my right to remain silent as stated in the law.” Stiles tilted his head, not even surprised that Tony Stark bugged the Director Nick Fury of SHIELD.

“Fine. But you still admitted to hacking into SHIELD before you were recruited. I checked my servers; you might have hacked into it but there’s nothing that goes on without my knowing.” 

Stiles tilted his head further, challenging the man. “And here you are asking me something you don’t know.” 

“This is an act parallel to treason.” Tony pointed his fingers at him, moving it around to somehow mess with Stiles brain. “Withholding information that could assist in preventing a disaster.” He clicked his tongue in disapproval. “Do you really want to be the reason SHIELD falls?”

“Tony Stark openly supporting honesty to the government. Scandalous.” Stiles retorted, crossing his arms to mimic the man’s posture. “What happened to discretion of the government?” 

“It’s SHIELD, not the government.” Tony corrected him.

“It’s a free country.” Stiles shrugged.

Tony had this twitch in his eyebrow, not at all pleased that he could not get what he wants and Tony always gets what Tony wants. That’s how the world works. Unless the world is too busy caught up in another disaster.

Which was exactly what happened. 

 

~~~

 

It’s how things mostly starts in the life of Stiles, sudden and disastrous. One moment Tony and Stiles were facing each other with the weirdest case of nerd violence, and the next they were holding on to the bookshelves when they all started shaking and threatening to trip over them. 

“Earthquake?” Both of them questioned at the same time, eyebrows lacing together at the common conclusion, but something doesn’t feel quite right. 

When the ground wouldn’t stop shaking, they let go off the bookshelf. Running out of the way from the towering shelves, they were about to seek shelter when they heard the screams outside. They took one look at each other before running to meet the commotion. 

The sight that met them was more than they expected. The asphalt was laden with large cracks that ran through the streets like lightning. But they kept growing, and the world kept shaking. Stiles looked to Tony with panic. “This doesn’t look like an Earthquake.” 

That’s when the cracks grew bigger in one snap, but that wasn’t the worst part, no, of course not. Since when was the world that easy? No. There had to be something coming out of it. What looked like hands crawled out of the craters, but they weren’t human. The fingers were cracked and earthy—it looked like they were wearing a dry earth’s crust, covering their whole body. 

Stiles muttered an incantation underneath his breath to harden the air around the bookstore, acting as a shield, because there are a lot of things in there that should not be destroyed, for the good of everyone. It sucked that he still needed incantations, but he was still rather weak in controlling the air element. He could do wordless manipulations with earth and water, and he’s gotten a lot better at it with fire. But air just seemed to disagree with him. 

“Please tell me you brought your suit.” Stiles muttered to the shocked still Tony, who’s chin was pointed in his direction to nod but eyes never leaving the creatures coming out of the cracks. 

“How do you know that they’re bad?” 

Stiles gave him an incredulous eye roll. “When has glowing black eyes ever resulted in sunshines and rainbows, of course they’re bad.”

As if the world was trying to prove it’s point, the creatures started lurking at the civilians before making a move to attack them, all the while the shaking was still going on. Stiles would very much like to curse and blame this on someone. He really does. It’s his week-off, which he earned after saving a stressful situation. Only to land smack dab in the middle of another one, but with an amplified rate of danger. Why the hell does this keep happening?!

Tony instinctively pushed Stiles back, who squeaked at the action, calling out, “This’ll be a really good time to whip out your suit!”

The older man scoffed at the remark as if Stiles just said something incredibly stupid, “I don’t whip.”   

Before Stiles could question and make fun of that statement, Tony dropped his briefcase stepping on it. The case opened to reveal a deconstructed suit that attached itself to Tony’s body, scaling his limbs with each mechanical part before ending in the mask closing in on his face. He blasted off the creatures coming their way with a brilliantly timed repulser. 

He looked to Stiles with a smug expression, but then his attention got ripped away from him when he starts talking to no one in particular. Was he tripping? Stiles thought and waited a second in his mind, choosing his words carefully.

“Should I ignore whatever the hell this is or are you on something?” He waved to Tony’s general direction, watching the man look different ways while having a conversation. 

“Oh, wait.” Tony lifts his arms and one of his fingers’s metal suit opened to reveal a tiny red transmitter, he gave it to Stiles, gesturing to his ear. “Wear this.” 

“Are you sure?” Stiles still took it and put it in his ears anyways; he’s a curious being, sue him. 

“Well, you are a SHIELD agent aren’t you?” Tony reasoned through the speaker in his ears, flying away to deal with the creatures that kept coming from the crater. 

Stiles scoffed at the question, running to help people out of harms way from the attackers. “What do you expect me to fight it with, my biting personality?” He shouted a warning at Tony to watch his back when more of the creatures appeared from the crater. 

Tony let his tiny air missiles fly off to the crater-source, hoping to slow the rate these things were appearing at, his voice dubious. “Where are your weapons?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to bring my super expensive extremely retarded eye-nauseatingly colored but ridiculously awesome high-tech robot suit to my book babysitting job.” Stiles’ words dripped with sarcasm, dodging on of the creatures that went flying his way from Tony’s attack. “It’s in dry-cleaning.” 

A burst of laughter sounded from his earpiece, Stiles having to take an abrupt stop in his path. 

“Man, kid, you can’t seem to take a break can you?” Clint’s voice rang in his ear, referring to the situation they’re caught up in, yet again. 

“Don’t.” Stiles snapped tiredly, wanting nothing more than to lie down and watch the world burn. “I am blissfuly disregarding the constant attempts at my life that the universe keeps throwing my way—I have it down to a system, it’s called ignorance, let’s move on.” 

The earthquake kept shaking in lapses of minutes, Stiles was worried it was not due to natural causes. New York has a lot of high-rise building, that’s a lot more dangerous than shorter ones due to the resonance. And he was right. 

Buildings started to shake vehemently, and then one of them collapsed. “Tony!” Stiles shouted from his position, the man moving towards Stiles’ warning at one of the buildings. Ironman swooped down to the ground, holding a stationary post while blasting the rubble that came raining down to the civilians. 

“Thanks, but we need you to fight kid.” 

A red-headed woman landed next to him from nowhere, handing him one of her semi-automatic Luger with two rounds of magazine. “Here. Don’t mind Tony, he’s an ass.” 

“A very successful charming hot piece of ass who happens to be the nation’s most beloved hero.” Tony stroked his ego, flying off to fight a horde of the earth monsters terrorizing people that crowded up in a coffee shop when the shaking momentarily stopped. 

“Thanks, Agent Romanoff.” Stiles distractedly called out while ignoring Tony’s remarks, aiming himself in a hurry, running to the heat of the battle. 

Natasha looked surprised at her name, looking to Clint who was perched on top of a bus. “Don’t bother, he just knows things.” 

Stiles smirked at Clint’s reply, focusing his attention at nailing the creepy bastards with headshots, protecting as many civilians as he can. This is his life now, fighting alongside the Avengers. His mom would be so proud, or really worried, but mostly proud. 

“Where’s Cap?” Tony asked from his earpiece. 

Clint answered him in a grunt as he jumped and rolled from the creatures that were starting to morph their hands to sharp long earthy protrusion. “Mission.” 

Stiles could literally hear himself whine. Don’t get him wrong, he respects every single one of the Avengers. But his grandfather was in the war, and he told Stiles stories about Captain America. The one time he meets the Avenger, and fight alongside them, and it just so happens that Captain America was not present. Story of his life. 

“How about the big guy?” Tony asked again. “We could really use his help.” 

His question was answered, this time by a deafening roar. Stiles looked up to the source of the roar, and yes, he looked up. Because there he saw a huge green blur flying past him to land on a bunch of the crawling creepers, squashing them beneath his feet. Holy shit, that’s the fucking Hulk. 

“About damn time.” Clint smirked at the destruction, nonchalantly shooting three arrows simultaneously to nail the incoming at his side. 

With the hulk now on their aid, their destructive power had been multiplied tenfolds, but the fighting just stretched on. Their enemy’s numbers didn’t decrease. Stiles started to think, stopping in his tracks. 

Natasha cursed when she barely avoided a swing from the crust swords—shut up, Stiles names things, it's what he does—doubling back to kick two of the incoming in the sternum before shooting them in the chest. “Is it just me or are their numbers increasing?” 

That’s when he noticed that the bodies of these monsters sank back into the ground once they were dead. And the annoying realization comes to his mind, that they were coming back through the crater, alive for a lack of better word. 

He knows what they are. 

The shaking started again, people shouting from the buildings falling onto the street. This needs to stop, Stiles knew that. Knowing what the supernatural monster could do, this needs to stop now, before more of them start coming. 

Stiles ran towards the crater, which he noticed grew even bigger from the last time he saw it. His mind started racing to find a solution, his attention scrambled, maybe that’s why he didn’t see the enemy piling behind his back. He turned at the last second, a curse in his mouth and a late gun in his hand. He’s going to die.

Except he doesn’t. Because Hulk came galloping—yes, galloping, there’s no other word for it—his way down the street and knocked the bastard like bowling pins in a strike. Stiles looked up to the Hulk with awe in his eyes. The Hulk frowned at the look he was receiving, confused. So Stiles, albeit a really stupid decision, reached out and pat his legs because that’s where he stands at the Hulk’s terrifying full height. “Thanks big guy, I owe you one.” 

Apparently the Hulk didn’t mind the skinship, since he only huffed a puff of breath and shook his head before running off to smash more monsters. Granted, it could be a breath of annoyance, but Stiles did not turn into a mess of bloody organs and bone crusted on the concrete so he concluded it a win. 

“Guys!” He called out to the Avengers, an idea popping into his mind. “I think I found a way to stop this.” 

“Yeah?” Tony flew in next to him, kicking down one of the creatures while simultaneously blasting off three offenders. “How?”

Stiles called to the magic in his core, he could feel the spark lighting up through his body. “Stop killing them and focus at the crater.” 

Natasha frowned on the suggestion, skeptical. “Why?” 

“Trust me.” 

Surprisingly, that was all it took for the Avengers, even Hulk, to come to his side, all waiting on his order. “Fire everything you’ve got at the opening, as long as you can.” 

Tony nodded, flying into the air, aiming the missile he’s got in every nook and cranny (seriously, where does he think of this stuff, I mean, who puts mini missiles on their elbows?). Natasha went to stand at one side of the crater while Clint fanned out to the other side, both sliding in a new magazine and nocking explosive arrows into their weaponry. Everyone went into position. Except for Hulk, he was just roaring—probably due to his order of not being able to smash anything anymore. 

“Now!” Stiles shouted, bringing on the massive destruction that the Avengers fired at the crater, causing an array of explosions and eruptions inside the abyss. 

The rest of the monsters on the ground stopped and shrieked in pain, all snapping their crooked head and beady black eyes to their direction. Tony got the idea, deploying his shoulder-mounted guns and aimed the projectiles inside the crater for further damage. 

“Hulk, keep them away!” Stiles yelled, focusing his energy to the ground. Hulk ran off, smashing all the creatures that were capable of attacking them, if not crawling towards them in pain. 

The ground started shaking, but this time it’s not due to the earthquake. Stiles let the earth rumble underneath him, feeling it mend and obey under his command. His eyes started to change; the orbs and rings in his iris start to glow a crisp brown color. Clint noticed it first, looking at him with a second of surprise before nocking another arrow with his bow. 

Stiles raised his hands when he felt the wave of his energy sync with the earth. The ground cracking around them, slowly lifting heaps of compact earth and crust to the air. Natasha and Tony gasped at the sight, looking towards Stiles with alert in their eyes. Stiles just kept on pulling more and more ground from the earth beneath him. 

Then he pushed: all of the floating mounds of earth flying towards the crater, piling up. Clint and Natasha took a step backwards, their arrows and bullets depleted. Tony kept his stance in the air, looking around; the creatures were now screaming a high-pitched scratchy shriek, in excruciating pain, slowly sinking back to the ground almost forcefully. 

When all the earth he pulled out has been packed tight in the crater, he solidified them as best he could, but there were still cracks in them. Stiles looked around to find beams from fallen buildings all around the road. His eyes changed to a ring of grey, casting words on his lips to manipulate the air around the beams so he could lift them up. The beams flew under his wave to fit jaggedly into the cracks of the pressed earth. 

“Tony, a little help?” Stiles called out the man, who nodded and flew closer. Tony puffed his chest before firing his unibeam from his arc reactor towards the beams, melting them and molding them to hold. The dust finally cleared away after the beam stopped, revealing a perfectly sealed circle mix of earth and embedded metal. "Thanks."

 

~~~

 

It was over. Stiles could scream in relief, his body aching from the strength it took out from him. Clint shot him a cheer and placed his hands by his hips to lean in on himself. Tony Stark flew back down to the ground, his mask retracting back to reveal a brilliant smile. “I thought you said you didn’t have weapons.” 

“I said I didn’t bring any weapons.” Stiles smiled back at him, shrugging his shoulders. 

Tony laughed at his constant ability to comment on everything, ironically reminding him of himself. Stiles joined him at the joy, but their celebration was short-lived. 

“Nat!” Clint howled, running forward to catch Natasha seconds before she hit the ground. He cradled her in his arms, looking for any wound when he saw the jagged piece of sharp earth-like swords from the arms of the creature protruding out her stomach. “Natasha’s hit!”  

Stiles stopped dead in his laughter, replacing it with a string of curses. He ran to the two agents on the ground, kneeling to inspect the damage. He didn’t know much about the supernatural creature, but he’s heard of the deadly effects of getting scratched by the sharp-edged arms they weaponized. Natasha got stabbed by it. “It’s bad. We need to get her to medical, now.” 

“The nearest hospital is—“ Clint started in panic but Stiles shook his head.

“No, they don’t know how to deal with this.” He looked to the Hulk who was huffing and puffing away at the corner, kicking away the rubble left behind in the destruction. “Hey! Yo, Hulk!” 

The green giant snapped his head in his direction. “Where’s Banner?” 

Hulk lunged and roared at him, loud and straight up in his face. Stiles almost swallowed his tongue—again, probably should’ve thought things through, but Natasha’s life was in danger, he’s got no time for rational thinking. “Give us Bruce Banner back!” He stilled. “Please.”

At the pleasantry, the Hulk seemed to calm his rage. Stiles took this chance. “Look, I know that you don’t like Bruce—“

“PUNY BRUCE!” 

“Yes, yes, puny bruce, little old puny bruce, but puny bruce is smart.” Stiles slowly explained to the Hulk, inching closer to him with his palms up in the air with the pose of surrender. “Natasha is hurt.” He pulled his face in a grimace to act out pain and placed one of his hands on his stomach. “Natasha. Pain.” 

The Hulk huffed another breath and shook his head a little like he’s clearing his mind. Stiles knows he’s getting through to him, so he nodded as he went on. “We need Bruce to help Natasha.”

He started over when Hulk did not react to him, flailing his hands. “Bruce help Natasha. No Pain.” Stiles could feel his brain cells deteriorating from the conversation itself. “Pain go bye-bye.” 

Clint watched the scene from the side-lines in mock horror while Ironman stood slack jawed. The balls on this kid never fails to surprise them. 

“Help me.” Stiles pleaded to the hulk, reaching his palms out to take his ginormous hands. “Please.” 

The Hulk slowly, but surely, extended his fist to Stiles’ direction, slowly opening it. For a second Stiles was afraid he was going to get slapped to the face of the earth, but the Hulk placed one finger on his palm. Then he changed, shrunken and de-greened. 

“Dr. Banner?” Stiles tried. 

Bruce Banner lifted his head up to meet the kid’s, panting. “Thank you.” 

Stiles shook his head. “Don’t thank me yet, I need your help.” 

Clint called from his position, clutching at Natasha’s elbows, not knowing what to do. “This is great and all, but Nat’s still dying.” 

“Tony!” Stiles turned his attention to the man who flinched at his name. “Does the tower have a medical centre?” 

Tony spluttered his reply, “Y-yes?”

The day started with the usual routine of getting his coffee and studying further ahead of his classes in NYU, that was normal. But normal was too overrated for Stiles, even though he did not make that decision himself. So now, he had fought with the Avengers and was about to save one of their lives. And it wasn’t even time for lunch yet. Jesus fucking christ, what is his life. 

“Then let’s go.” 

Chapter Text

“Agent Romanoff, you have to stay with me now.” Stiles called out to the barely conscious agent in Clint’s arms, pressing the elevator’s button to the floor. He checked on the woman’s wound, the skin around the embedded weapon turning a sickly dark colour. 

Tony rolled on the ball of his shoes as best as he can—since he was still in his ironman gear—keeping a supportive arm on Bruce Banner’s hunched shoulders. “You okay, there? Not gonna go green again are you?” 

Bruce rolled his eyes at the man, attempting to straighten his posture. “Unless you give me a reason to, no.” 

“Can this go any faster?” Stiles pressed the floor button repeatedly in harsh jabs of his fingers, snapping his head to the man in the iron suit. “Tony, what kind of shit elevator did you build?”

Tony whiplashed his head backwards at the sudden comment, raising his hands up in defense. “I didn’t build this elevator, it was pre-made!”

Stiles cursed, his hands flying back to where they were hovering over Natasha’s body. The elevator doors finally opened on their floor. “Finally!” He rushed Clint out, following the man’s steady run to the medical bay. 

Dr. Banner went in first, heading to the operating table in the middle to clear it. “Here!” He signaled to Clint who promptly laid her body down on it. The doctor moved in a haste to hook her up to the EKG monitors, inspecting the digital readings that came up. “Her vitals are getting real low.” 

Clint stood by the doctor’s side, fussing over his actions. “Well do something! Get that thing out of her!” 

“No!” Stiles came back from the prep room with a couple of gloves and a tray full of medical appliances. “You could kill her!”

“She’s already dying, what could get worst?” Clint hawked, cradling Natasha’s pained expression within his palms, worried for his best friend. 

Stiles put himself to work, snapping on the gloves before handing it to Banner who did the same, preparing the vaporizer and the breathing mask. “Doctor, can you prepare a general anesthetic?”

Dr. Banner rummaged through the medicine cabinet, “Found it.” He grabbed the drug, attaching it to the vaporizer to wait a few minutes before slipping the mask on to Natasha watching her fall into a drug-induced sleep. “What do we do?” 

“To my knowledge, a cut from this creature is fatal because it releases toxins from it’s crusty skin that works if it cuts into a bloodline—Natasha’s impaled with this thing, so she should be dead. The only thing keeping her alive could be the arm itself.” Stiles busied himself with ripping Black Widow’s clothing on her midsection, revealing her toned mid-riff. “Tony, do you have O type blood stored here?” 

“Yes, Jarvis?” Tony called out to the ceiling while Stiles frowned at his action. Who the hell was he talking to—

“Sir, we have three blood packets in the fridge for emergency surgery.”

Stiles nearly dropped the needle he carried, “What was that?!”

Clint laughed a breath, nervous and hurried. “So there are things you don’t know, huh?” 

Tony seemed to bypass his question, rushing to the fridge to pull two packets of blood. “What now?” 

“Is it too much to ask if you have a dialysis machine?”

“Do I have a dialysis machine? Of course I have a dialysis machine.” Stark snarked to himself, shaking his head with the credibility of his own superior talent of having everything. He pushed the machine from the edge of the room directly next to Stiles, simultaneously pouring the blood to the containment. 

“What are you planning?” Clint asked from his position by the unconscious Natasha’s side. 

“We need to flush out the toxins in her blood stream.” Stiles clasped the necklace around his neck, a large round pendant, opening it to reveal a tube of black powder. He opened the powder in his hands, not sure if it was the right thing to do, before pouring it to the blood already in the dialysis machine. 

Dr. Banner watched with his hands stringing a surgery-safe needle. “What is that?” 

Stiles let the machine run to mix the blood properly through one round, bending down to watch the black particles infuse with the red liquid. “That is mountain ash. This will help kill the toxins in her blood and speed her healing process.” 

“She’s slipping!” Clint disrupted their process, an eye on the monitor that started beeping erratically. “Bruce! Stiles!” 

Tony frowned in distaste at hearing the name. “Stiles?” 

The latter nodded to the doctor’s questioning glance, a secret understanding between the two as medical scholars. Dr. Banner moved forwards, Clint consciously moving backwards to let the doctor work. He snapped his gloves, handling a scalpel to cut the wound an inch on each side.

“Clint, the light please.” Doing as the doctor said, the archer pulled the overhead surgical lights down. 

“Your name is Stiles?” Tony winced, both at the name and at everyone ignoring his question. 

Bruce slowly taking hold of the arm crust sword piece before extracting it out of her abdomen, with Clint keeping an eye on the monitor to see her vitals spike even further. Stiles immediately injected the blood transfusion tube needle into Natasha’s vein on her left hand, taping the tube down on her arms, turning the dialysis back on. 

“Stiles, really?” The Ironman tilted his head back, his tone incredulous.

“Will you just—“ The boy stressed, making a throttling gesture at the older man, who raised his hands up in surrender. Stiles calmed himself, raising his own hands in the air in a surgeon’s pose. “Doc, status report?”

“Vitals are still high but out of danger, for now. Her small intestines are perforated at the jejunum, extensive bleeding. We need to operate.” Dr. Banner looked up to see Stiles closing his eyes worry. He stopped his working. “Can you assist me?” 

“I’ve never technically done it before.” Stiles admitted, his hands trembling in their own grip to each other. He was still in college learning medicine, for crying out loud. Although he’s way ahead of everyone on their studies and moved on to his third year curriculum, he’s still inexperienced. “I don’t know.”

Tony watching from the sidelines, approaching the boy before putting both hands on his shoulders. “You’re a smart kid, you either do it or you don’t. And I’m willing to bet I know which one it is.” 

“If an avenger died by my hands, I’m so blaming it on you.” Stiles threw Tony off with a shaky smile, both knowing that he was grateful for the support. But seriously though, if an avenger died by his hands, he would have voluntarily go to the deepest darkest hole in hell, he’s pretty sure it’d be reserved for him. 

Tony simply shrugged. “I have a pretty good lawyer.” 

“You better.” Stiles huffed a big breath, steeling his nerves. “The least you could do is help us prepare.” 

The two men standing idly grabbed surgeon gowns and helped the two men actually working put it on. Tony helped Bruce slip on his head piece and brushed strands of hair in his face to tuck beneath it. He smiled a little, hiding Bruce’s mutual smile as he tied the mask on his face. 

Stiles gave the two curious looks but Clint tied the mask over his eyes, causing a rip of laughter from the archer’s mouth when Stiles slapped the man’s arms to pull it back down. Stiles met Clint’s eyes with determination—surprisingly from the older man’s eyes and not his own. “I trust you.” 

“You barely know me.” Stiles chuckled, embarrassed by the sudden admission. He’s never had somebody say that to him without a hidden agenda, that was the life he lived.

“You saved me twice, that’s enough for me to know.” Clint returned his amusement, patting his surgeon gown down. “Besides, I still have that meal I owe you. I’ll get to know you then.” 

Stiles chuckled, straightening his shoulders. “Remember, fancy french cuisine with five bowls of foie gras, one candle and a live recording of—“ 

“Bach’s cello suite no. 1 in G major, I remember. Which is how I know I owe you four bowls and not five, you sneaky little bastard.” 

“It’s five if I’m risking my mentality to save her life.” 

“Then you better not miss.” The archer repeated his line from when they first met, relieved that he could somehow take the pressure of off Stiles’s shoulder when the boy smiled at his promise. 

“Now get out.” 

Tony and Clint stepped out of the medical bay, letting the two medical scholars handle their friend while they stood watching in the observing area with a full window paneled view. Stiles gave a short nod to Bruce, signaling the start. He turned on the assist machine by his side, walking to meet directly in front of the doctor, one of them one each side of Natasha. 

“Suction.” Dr. Banner called out, Stiles grabbing the suction tube to draw all the blood out from the site of damage. The good doctor concentrated on the tools in his hand, clipping one of the perforated intestines in his clamp, looking to the younger. “Irrigation.”

Stiles grabbed the squirt bottle next to him, washing the intestine to clear the area, when the monitor started beeping again. 

“It seems that her heart rate is spiking, Doctors.” 

“Ok, who the hell is speaking?” Stiles restrained his shout by clenching his unused hands. 

Dr. Banner simply pushed away the comment, snapping the kid’s attention back to the matter at hand. “Stiles, there are some still embedded in the folds of her intestines.” He inspected the wound. “I can’t get it out without causing more damage.” 

“Okay, okay.” Stiles calmed himself down, reaching to his core to pull his magic to the surface. He’s never done this much magic at such close intervals, especially strenuous tasks that require attention like these. But hey, there’s a first for everything. 

Stiles closed his eyes, shocking Banner with his actions when he raised his hands. He could feel the earth components in her organs, it was weird. Earth always felt warm to him, it was his major element. Then water, fire and lastly air. But he’s always been so in sync with the earth that he knew something was wrong. It felt dead, barren of life. Even in the smallest dirt, Stiles could feel a vibrant beat of the earth’s energy. Now it just felt cold and empty. 

Well, this is new. And definitely not good. So technically, it wasn’t new. Because everything’s apparently never good in Stiles’ ridiculous life. He mentally sighed, frowning. 

“Why? What’s wrong?” Bruce Banner snapped him out of his trance. 

“Nothing.” I hope, Stiles faked a smile, inhaling a new air to cleanse the bad vibes in his system, finally opening his eyes. He continued to grasp the earth particles, lifting them out harmlessly out of Natasha’s open abdomen. The crust flying in the air, Banner’s eyes marveling at the sight of his eyes, letting it drop on the metal tray. 

“Agent Romanoff is stabilizing, well done, doctors.” The voice came back, deep and laden with a British accent. 

“I’m ignoring that.” Stiles muttered to himself, unamused by his constant inability to get answers, his mind still boggled by what he found out. He irrigated the open area, nodding to Dr. Banner to continue his operation. 

With all the imminent danger out of the way, Dr. Banner could relax, clamping the ripped intestines together, working with Stiles assisting him to sew the intestines back up with attentive concentration. “Cut.” 

Stiles switched his clamp with a long ended scissors, cutting closely to the sewing that Banner did, smiling when it was cut clean and they had finished the hardest part of the job. He looked at the monitor, breaking a huge grin. “Vitals stabilizing. Heart rate at 85 beats per minute. Blood pressure is 130/80.” 

Behind the glass, Stiles could see Tony and Clint’s shoulder slump down with great relief, smiling at each other. Being the immature little shit he is, when the two men looked at him, he smiled and gave a grand bow, causing Dr. Banner to chuckle at his actions.

Stiles directed his attention to the doctor, laughing along with him. Bruce gathered himself, extending his hand out to Stiles. “We haven’t properly met, I’m Bruce Banner.”

“This is definitely the bloodiest introduction I’ve ever received but,” Stiles clasped Dr. Banner’s extended hand with his own blood-ridden glove. “Stiles Stilinski.” 

He could hear the two barking laughter from the other side of the glass. Aiming a full fledged flare at the two men doubled over, he shouted. “I can hear you!” 

“Stilinski, oh my god, that’s a good one.” Tony slapped Clint’s back in quick repetition, causing the man to choke on his laughter, his tone slipping into a serious one. “Oh god.” 

“Yeah, you better choke.” Stiles raised his chin at the glass, Bruce shaking his head fondly at the three’s display of naught. 

Well, Stiles took a serene breath, breaking a soft smile at the sudden positive change in the atmosphere, at least an Avenger didn’t die by his hands. A little humility won’t hurt.  

 

~~~

 

After Stiles and Bruce finished cleaning up, they moved Natasha to the patient’s room that doubled as an ICU what with all the equipment in the room—he learnt that Tony likes to go big in everything. He suspected it was some weird inferiority complex but with whom, he still hasn’t figured it out yet. 

Tony finally explained Jarvis to Stiles, who took a moment to ask the AI ridiculous questions when he learned that he was everywhere (“Do you have videos of Tony in the shower?” “Stiles, what are you—“ “Why yes, I record everything.” “Well then, Jarvis, would you mind sending it to me, I have a business preposition with Youtube.” “Jarvis, don’t you dare!”).

Bruce and Stiles busied themselves with keeping Natasha comfortable in her bed, checking on the IV drip and taking the dialysis machine off after it was done. Stiles added more mountain ash to the drip as a precaution but also to heal the woman faster—he’s going to need more of it and he’s not looking forward to the visit back to the supplier; the witch scares him. 

Clint was halfway through talking Tony out off ‘upgrading’ Natasha—taking the tubes of suspiciously colored concoction out of his hand, throwing it out to the trashcan despite Tony’s cries—when the doors opened automatically. 

“Tony! I heard Natasha was hit. What’s—“ Steve stopped in his gait approaching the room, his eyes focusing on the surprising guest. “Stiles?”

“Steve?” Stiles copied his tone, walking forward past Bruce. “What are you doing here?” 

Tony frowned at the question, befuddled in the exchange between the two men. He looked to Clint for an explanation but the archer gave him the exact look back. 

“I-I’m friends with Natasha.” Steve bit back a sour expression from the way his teammates were looking at him with growing suspicion. “How about you?” 

Stiles nodded at his reason, shrugging, “Nothing. Just, you know, saving an Avenger after accidentally getting sucked into yet another crisis.” 

“I’m signing you up to the Guinness Book of World Records for worst luck in consecutive days,” Clint commented from the sidelines, hands grasping Natasha’s to comfort her. 

“Hey, maybe it’s the world telling you that you’re exactly where you belong.” Steve tried to spin his recent events to a better light, because that’s what he does. That’s Steve Rogers for you, and everyone else but Stiles. 

Leaning against one of the counters by the wall, Stiles crossed his arms. “Well, at least I get to see the Avengers in action.” Earning a few triumph smiles from the team, he smiled. “Now, all I need to do is meet Thor and Captain America, then I can move on to my next bucket list of eating all the McDonalds menu from all over the world.” 

Tony is visibly seen to be downloading and processing the information inside his head as he froze in his spot for a minute. Even Bruce stopped flipping through Natasha’s charts to direct his attention to the exchange between the two. Clint was the first to recover, “What are you saying, Stiles?” 

“Oh, McDonald’s have special menus for every region that they’re in—did you know that Japan has shrimp burger? And that New Zealand has this thing called Kiwiburger, I don’t even know what that means but—“ 

“No, not that.” Tony’s eyebrow linked together in ridiculous confusion, because that’s what this is.
“You—“ 

Steve coughed while passing by Tony, not-so-accidentally stepping on the man’s toes with all his might.

“Jesus!” Tony fell on his knees to clutch at his toes. “Ca—“

“Bruce!” Steve shouted, shocking the good doctor out of his skin, thankfully not into his green one, but shocking him nonetheless. “Tony seemed to have break his toes, will you please treat it?” 

Dr. Banner was such at a lost that he just directed Tony to sit on the sofa at the edge of the room and inspected his toe, Tony’s face stuck at a perturbed open-mouthed stare directed at Steve. 

“Do you still have a cold?” Stiles came up to Steve, hands coming up to check his temperature without realizing what he was doing. “You were also coughing the last time we met with Agent Coulson.”  

Steve spluttered in the sudden action, his cheeks tinting with a dust of pink. Tony just sat, perched on his sofa, dramatically mouthing a ‘cold?’ at both Bruce and Clint, knowing that he’s not physically able to have a cold.

“Oh god, I think you’re having a fever, your ears are red.” Stiles worried, his hands latching on to the side of Steve’s face turning it side to side to check his ears. 

Giving him a shaky smile, Steve cleared his throat and met his eyes, finally making Stiles realize the close proximity they were in. “I’m-I’m so sorry. My hands just—My brain’s not really—It’s, I, just sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Steve brushed his blonde hair with his hand, ducking his head down before looking up to see his teammates startled out of their shells.  

Clint laughed out loud when he finally got it, receiving a heated glare from Steve on his end while Tony and Bruce slowly caught on. Now it was Stiles’ turn to be confused at them, not finding anything hilarious to laugh about at the moment.

“You don’t know his last name do you?” Clint shook his head, wiping a tear from his eyes.

“Uh, yes. Duh, I do.” Stiles scoffed, his adrenaline still high off of his first medical practice, ending his sentence with a question and his hands perched awkwardly on his hips after flying around in different directions, looking to Steve. “It’s—it’s Bookworm?” 

“That—“ Tony gasped through his laughter, things finally snapping into place when he shared an understanding look to Clint, “—Oh god, that’s gold. Steve Bookworm, you are one ingenious bastard, old man.” 

Steve gave Tony his special no-nonsense glare that he reserved especially for Tony. Logically, Steve always knew that he was going to get caught in his lie, but it wasn’t a lie as much as withholding information. But, he just wanted someone that didn’t know him as Captain America and simply as Steve (bookworm). 

“You’re moving in.” Tony calmed down from his high, inhaling big breaths, anticipating how long Cap could possibly keep this up without it blowing in his face. “I’m calling it.” 

“Uh, no. I’m not. You’re not calling anything. I have a perfectly comfortable flat that I absolutely adore, plus I have to jump between the Triskelion in DC and my university here so, no. I’m not.” Stiles laughed the offer off, pushing his hands forward as if he was literally pushing the offer away, because he had a feeling Tony would be persistent. “To be clear, that was a definite no.”

Clint rolled his eyes, knowing how this goes. Tony gave him a smile that people would normally give to an ignorant baby that could not understand anything, which Stiles takes great offense to. “It’s cute that you think I can’t get what I want.”

“Not everything is about you, Tony.” Stiles scoffed, moving back beside Natasha’s bed to check the monitors. “There are laws in the universe.”

“You’ll see.” Tony jumped back off his feet after checking his phone. “But for now, Fury wants you in his office.” 

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Stiles threw his hands up, the only person getting his ‘excitement’ being Clint, who granted the boy an amused smirk. He was getting a little bit loopy from his magic use, it was tiring and he’s exhausted, and now he has to deal with another headache the size of one Nick Fury. 

The archer rounded Natasha’s bed to sling a hand around Stiles’ shoulders, shaking the boy. “Good luck, kid.” 

“We’re supposed to come with.” Tony update from his side, tucking his phone back to his pocket, grumbling to Bruce about dealing with the director’s vain disposition. 

“Can’t you just tell him that I’m busy here taking care of his agent?” The wailing kid tried to get away from the ordeal, who wouldn’t? Last time he went there, he almost got eaten alive—and that was only because he’d shown restraint (not the best, yes, but it’s the best he could do, leave him be).

Clint ruffled his head, tucking the kid into a short embrace of support, chuckling when the kid kept his face buried on his shoulders, unaware of the glare Steve was sending his way. “Nope, I got first class ticket to see this show, I’m not going to waste it.” 

“I hate you.” Stiles mumbled, body limp as Tony clasped a hand on his wrist, dragging him out of Clint’s grasp and out the door. Dr. Banner followed them like an over-worked parent, exhausted and amused. Steve was still frowning. 

Clint closed the door behind them with a cheeky smile and sighing to Natasha, “You’ll get used to it.”

 

Chapter Text

“Agent Stilinski, we meet again.” Director Nick Fury swiveled in his chair once he settled in it, Stiles restraining the extreme urge to roll his eyes because seriously, can this man get any more enigmatic? 

“I know, I know. I should have told you, SHIELD protocol, full disclosure, I heard this last time I was here which was very recent.” Stiles ranted off, waving his points in the air, tone going out of the ordinary. “But what do you expect me to do? If I’d told you then you’d put me under another interrogation and evaluation. Besides, you have a list of gifted people—which you will undoubtedly put me in. And then I have people prodding things on or in my body and take my blood with pointy needles, then I get tagged like a shark and left for free but then I’m not really free because then I’ll be living in a fish tank with all the supposedly-secret surveillance that you’ll have tracking my every fucking bowel movement—I’m an American!” Clint had to duck his way out of harm from Stiles’ constantly widening flailing hands, having made the bad decision of sitting next to him at the conference room. “I'm in New York, the land of the free and the wannabes. I deserve freedom!”

Tony was not so discreetly laughing out loud in his seat by the end of it, but Bruce was behind him clamping his mouth down with his palms, reducing the noise level. Nick Fury spared a thankful  look to the doctor before turning back to Stiles. “Are you done?” 

“I’m anti-shark violence, there are plenty other soups with vegetable bases that could easily replace shark-fin soup. Leave those sharks alone.” Stiles took a deep breath before opening his mouth to close it again. “Ok, I’m done.”

It’s as if Nick Fury was deliberately trying to piss him off, he swears. And it’s working. “You should’ve told me.”

Stiles grumbled openly. “Did you just call me in to lecture me about rules again? Because as eager as I am to go for a round two, I’m still rather exhausted.” 

Steve was caught off-guard by the display of behavior the boy was showing towards the authority figure, but he should’ve known because this was Stiles. And Stiles makes no exception for anybody, to be himself.

Nick Fury ignored his complaining, instead he signaled Maria Hill behind him to tap her pad onto the projector in the middle, bringing up a holographic image of the creature they fought. “While we have tried to identify this alien, we’ve come up with absolutely nothing.” To which Stiles hid a smile to, because from his knowledge of the servers he hacked, they didn’t know much about the Supernatural world. “Again, it seems that you always happen to know things before we do.” 

Stiles sighed, admitting defeat since he wasn’t really looking to pick a fight with the Director of SHIELD, he wasn’t that crazy, or that powerful for the matter of fact. He simply wants to live. “That’s because it’s not alien.” He looked towards Tony before he could ask. “Nor is it an experiment.” Stiles looked back to the director. “It’s supernatural.”

Clint joked. “Supernatural? Like werewolves and vampires, supernatural?” 

He weighed the options of telling them about werewolves, he wasn’t sure what to do. The constant hijacking that Stiles had gone through so far in SHIELD has made him wary; and the apparent conclusion that Tony also came to was enough reassurance for him to know that there’s something deeper going on that they’re playing into, one that they have no knowledge of. 

“They’re called Skinwalkers.” Stiles started explaining, having the whole attention to himself. “They first appeared in the Navajo culture, depicted as a witch with the capability of turning into animals and taking their forms.” 

“But they weren’t animals, they looked human but made out of earth.” Clint zoomed into the picture, showing the cracks in their dry skin.

“They’re wildling creatures, a primary woodland being—they’re not witches and they only turn into animals when they need to hunt for food or go into human population.” Stiles debunked the myth, pointing to the image. “That’s what they look like in their natural skin.” 

Tony served through the images and footage from the public who filmed the whole ordeal, pausing on one to show to Stiles. “And these,” He gestured to the transformation of their arms to sharp sword-like spikes, “What are these?” 

“Those are arms, Tony.” Stiles mocked the genius’ intelligence, receiving an unamused smile. “They have the ability of changing their shape to fit the animal skin they’re wearing, but they produce a toxin that’s deadly if they enter your bloodstream.” 

Bruce readjusted his glasses, angling his head towards Stiles. “You used this ‘mountain ash’ to fight it off, I’ve never heard of this drug.” 

“It’s not a drug, it’s the ashes of a burnt rowan tree.” Stiles rolled his tongue in his mouth, careful with his wording. “If made properly, it has high healing properties and almost immune to any supernatural toxins.” He kept the fact that it could be harmful to most supernatural creatures, taking precautions with giving deadly information to SHIELD. 

Nick Fury nodded to Hill, who was updating the information into their data stream. “Why did they attack us?”

“I don’t know.” Now this, Stiles was really baffled at. “They’re usually very calm creatures if not provoked, they live underneath the earth’s crust completely isolated.” His fear was amplified with the fact that the energy of the earth from the woodland creature was dead. 

Steve observed the frown from the boy, keeping his thoughts to himself as he listened on to the conversation. 

Agent Hill whispered to Fury’s ears, backing away when she was done. Fury sighed. “Another matter is what we’re going to tell the public. They’ve already seen the footage online of this attack, and they’re all wondering about the magical user fighting alongside the Avengers.”

Stiles groaned into the table, his head smacking down onto it. Steve patted his back in a sense of comfort. “And?” 

“I’ve kept the press on hold and forwarded it to Pepper to handle a conference naming you as an ally of the Avengers and an agent of SHIELD with anonymity.” Fury spared Tony a questioning frown. “Will that be okay to you, Tony?”  

“Yeah, whatever. I’ve been keeping my mouth shut about it because of the whole Nat-almost-dying situation, but now I’m really curious—you have magic!” Tony bursts when the room settled down to a silence, his hands extending out to Stiles. “How?” 

Stiles was dreading this. This is exactly the reason why he wanted to keep to himself. “Uh, I do.” He starts, prolonging his vowels to make time to think about what he should say. 

“So, you’re like a magician? A wizard? Like Harry Potter?” 

“Harry Potter!” Steve exclaimed, a chance to get into the conversation he’s been left out of simply because he wasn’t in the scene of the disaster. He was absent for a mission and another New York  attack happens, figures. “I know that reference.” 

Stiles hid his short laugh from the outburst of the man. “Not exactly like harry potter. But, sure. A magician, that's me.” 

For now, until he knew more of the bad feeling he’s got boiling in his gut, he’s going to keep as much to himself as possible. Call him paranoid, but he’s been a victim of following naive people around him who believes in too much good. He has a right to take precautions; he’s been possessed before, if that isn’t enough to make him paranoid, nothing will. 

“How do you know of the supernatural, Agent Stilinski?” Nick Fury questioned him with a tilt of his head, his only good eye assessing the truth of his statements.

“I’m a curious boy with the tendency of getting in trouble no matter what I do.” Lying by omission of truths, it wasn’t really a lie just not the entire truth. Stiles smirked back at him,  “You do the math.” 

“Nothing to do with the fact that you have magic?” Fury analyzed his statements.

Stiles cursed to himself, the one-eyed snake was sneakier than he thought. He kept the staring contest between them. “My magic was an unprecedented event I encountered while I was in-the-know of the supernatural world. Now it has everything to do with it—not dying is a lot easier, for one.”

“Coulson said that he found you when you were three months in living here in New York.” Fury read of the file transcripts Maria Hill collected, sending him an eyebrow raise. “Is it right to assume that you knew about the supernatural prior to entering New York?”

“I can neither confirm of deny that statement.” Stiles leaned forward in his seat to cross his arms on the table. 

Fury kept his eyes on the document. “It’s said here that you lived in Beacon Hills for all your life before New York.”

Stiles’ eye twitch without his permission, he has very little control over his actions and even less over his words; Stiles Stilinski is a man missing many brain-to-everything filters, so help him God. 

“Hill, can you tell us a bit about Beacon Hills?” Fury angled his head to her direction without cutting their gaze. 

Maria Hill moved forward from her stance behind the director, settling in a resting soldier pose. “Numerous cases of police file reports depicting murder, bombings, hijackings, grave snatchers, arson, serial killings, ritualistic sacrifices, animal attacks, kidnappings—“

“Sounds like a wonderful town.” Stiles snapped at the woman, memories building in the back of his eyelids. He could feel something boiling in his gut and it’s best if he doesn’t lose control. “I’ve heard all this from my recruiting interrogation ceremony, so why don’t you try something else, sir?”

Agent Hill held her own under the warning of Stiles’ glare, the atmosphere turning heavier by the second. “In the middle of every report, a group of teenagers were constantly present at every scene. Particularly Stiles Stilinski and Scott McCall, along with Lydia Martin, Derek Hale, Alliso-“

“Enough.” Stiles banged his hands on the table, startling everyone in the room when it shook with a force from the spark of his magic. His primary element, Earth, shaking the building slightly so the lights flickered off before turning back on. “Your point?”

“You are the point, Agent Stilinski.” Nick Fury changed the tone of his voice, taking on a softer edge with a heady burden behind it. “You seem to be ahead of every single thing that happened since you arrived here, and yet you keep everything to yourself.” He pointed to Tony with a condescending hand. “I’ve already got one self-assertive smug know-it-all, I don’t need another.” 

Tony shrugged, accepting the title, looking at Stiles for his reaction. 

Stiles sighed, his heart ridden with guilt of past failures. He doesn’t want a repeat of that. But he's aware of the possibility that by doing what he thinks is protection, he might end up making it worse. “You don’t understand.” 

Fury stressed. “So, help me understand what this is.” 

Tony sat back in his seat, watching the interaction between the Director and the new kid like a tennis match—pitching back and forth in a smart dialect and fast paced intelligence. At first it was entertaining, but now his arm was under the desk, hands on his watch that contained his compact repulser glove. At the same time, Tony trained an eye on Bruce’s condition from the stressful situation. Stiles noticed it. 

He really should think twice the next time he wants to snap, preferably not in a room with the fucking Hulk, his conscience reminded him.

Clint reached an arm underneath the table to settle on Stiles’ knees, hoping to calm him down. Stiles’s let his head drop down. Beside him, Steve gave him a look of concern, unsure of what to do. The scenarios ran in his mind like an old movie. Stiles made his decision, hoping for all eternity that he made the right one.

“I’ve told Phil that I would join SHIELD on one condition and that is absolute trust and loyalty between all parties.” He began with lifting his face, a blank expression plastered on. “Right now, neither you or I have given each other anything to build trust and loyalty upon.” 

Stiles could see Fury blink in his uninterrupted stare, he continued. “I’ve failed before, due to blind trust and weak bonds. A naiveté that cost everyone everything. I can't and I won’t let that happen again.”

“As a man, I respect that.” Director Fury nodded to him, but his tone didn’t change. “But as the Director of SHIELD, I can not afford to promise you full access of everything—“

“I don’t care about absolute disclosure, Director Fury.” Stiles could see Tony squint his eyes at the statement, somehow caught off-guard by the idea of Stiles accepting such terms. “It’s an intelligence agency, there’s bound to be secrets to uphold the hierarchy of command and security.” He was speaking directly to Director Fury but everybody in the room knew he directed his words to everyone present. “I don’t care about honesty because if or when I do trust you, all your lies become truths and I wouldn’t be able to discern which is which.” 

Nick brought a hand to his head, running his palms over the smooth surface, stopping at the back of his neck. “So what is it that you want, Agent Stilinski?” 

“Your promise.” Stiles handed him an honest clear look. “That you will try and trust me. That you’ll learn to be loyal towards me. And I will promise you the same.”

Taking Fury’s silence as a ‘yes’, Stiles smiled and broke the heavy atmosphere. The man was stoic as fuck, okay, he’ll never get a straight answer out of him. So the absence of denial is as much of an agreement that he’s going to get. 

“I don’t know.” Stiles took his arms of the table, settling into a more comfortable pose, because hey, being intimidating is a lot more taxing than it seems.  “Something’s wrong, that’s for sure. I don’t know what’s happening, that’s the truth.”

Fury tilted his head. “But I’m sensing you have a theory.”

“One. I think it’s somehow connected.” Stiles unconsciously flitted his eyes at Tony, who caught the stare and went into his own personal bubble of thought. “I’ll look into it.” 

“Alright, Agent Stilinski.” Director Fury laced his fingers together, leaning back into his seat with his elbows propped at the hand rest. “I have my own condition: We’ll have weekly meetings, unmonitored. You and me. That’s my trust.” 

“It’s not as much trust as it’s an alternative way you’re keeping tabs on me.” Stiles rapidly spoke through the mild accusation before buckling in a one thousand watt smile. “But hey, baby steps.”

Steve hid his smile with a duck of his head, eyes still trained on the kid. Clint shaking his head at the kid’s dangerous or amazing ability of fearlessness, it depends on each situation. Fury just sat there unamused and eyebrows still raised for his answer.

“Weekly meetings, I can do that. Fair warning though, people have been known to grow very vexed by me in a short amount of time.” Stiles ignored the fleeting sarcastic comment of Clint’s ‘can’t see why’ in the background. “So make sure you pop down the happy pills before every meeting. I don’t want bills or angry letters from your therapist coming to my inbox.” 

“Yeah, about that. I declare full guardianship over this one right here.” Tony stood in his chair, fixing the sleeves of his long-sleeved graphic tee. “He’ll be moving to the Avengers Tower by the end of today.” 

Stiles blinked, his voice cracking. “I’m sorry, what?” 

Tony clapped his hands to dismiss them. “It’s settled! Let’s go, Avengers! It’s past our curfew!”

“You’re kidding right. You can’t let him do this!” Stiles stood in disbelief, everyone else standing along with him. 

Fury rolled his eyes, nodding and going along with whatever Tony had planned—contrary to popular believe, he’d rather avoid confrontation with all Starks if he has the option. It was the logical thing anyone would do, Director of SHIELD or not.

“Give it up, Stiles.” Steve stood behind him, secretly happy that he’d spend more time with the kid. His identity secret in the back of his mind, overshadowed by the excitement. “It’s more convenient for your studies so you won’t need to go back and forth between DC and New York.”

“Seriously, Steve, you’re on his side?” Stiles stared him down with a disappointed judgmental glare, to which the man softly smiled to. “Clint?” 

“We don’t have a curfew.” Clint reminded Tony, facing away from Stiles, already on his way out the conference room.

Tony threw him an over-exaggerated look. “If we don’t go now, we will.” He dragged Stiles out the room before he could complain further, a fond Steve and an exhausted Bruce following.

Maria Hill closed the doors from their exit, looking back to find the director in deep thought. She bowed slightly, leaving him to his own.

In all his career, Director Nick Fury had built bridges and burned them down to get where he was. Not by his choice, but by the necessity of the path of career and vow he has to uphold. A man like him doesn’t get to where he was without at least a nation of enemies. And the chair he sits on is a powerful one, but a lonely one all the same. 

If the Avengers were fond of him, Stiles Stilinski might not be that bad after all. Nick ran the thought through his mind once more, it’s either that or he turned out to be worse than he imagined—the Avengers were peculiar that way.  

 

~~~

 

By the time they’ve successfully kidnapped Stiles back into the Avengers tower, it was already past dinner time. To say that Stiles was surprised to find his belongings already moved from his old apartment would be a lie: he knew a losing battle when he saw one. Doesn’t mean that he didn’t put up a huge resistance though—the only thing that finally stopped him was Banner threatening to hulk up on him. 

“This is the tenth floor, the common living room. The top 15 floors are ours and below that is SHIELD personnel base.” Tony showed Stiles around the high-rise space. “You’ve been to Banner’s medical bay, his lab and the patient’s ward is also in the same floor which is seven floors below this one. Above this floor is my penthouse, and the one above that is our locker room along with the quintet station.

“The entire five floors below this are the living quarters, one floor fits two tenants; theres one empty floor and a vacancy in Clint’s floor.” The man continued into the kitchen, grabbing an apple from the bowl in the middle of a kitchen counter. “Gym’s on the first floor, shooting range on second,

“You should really put up a directory somewhere around here.” Stiles looked around, amazed by the view, stopping at Tony sitting in the bar stool. 

“Jarvis is our directory. You can’t access the elevator without him anyways, so there’s no need for one.” 

“You’re bunking up with me kid.” Clint called from the open kitchen, grabbing a drink for himself. “No complaints.” 

Steve felt his eye twitch. He took an unconscious step towards Stiles. “Why?”

Clint placed the glass down. “What do you mean why? It’s safer to share a floor than live separately.”

“I’m fine with it.” Stiles patted Steve on his arms. “Besides, it’s your loss. I’m a living nightmare as a roommate.”

“I have a feeling we’ll get along swimmingly.” Clint chuckled, silently relishing in the subtle glare that Steve directed at him, directing his own cheeky glare at 

“Please just don’t destroy the tower, again.” Tony whined, knowing well the damage that Clint Barton can cause on his own—he doesn’t want to even imagine the possibilities when Stiles is added to the equation. “We’re still making repairs from Thor’s last venture against the ‘mighty evil’ coffee machine, again.”

Clint snickered at the mischief he was undoubtedly planning to cause, avoiding the apple core that Tony threw at him.

“Well, I’ll head on over to my room then.” Stiles gestured to Tony. “Keys?”

“No keys; Jarvis controls all the locks and doesn’t use it unless he’s told to.” 

Steve placed a hand on his shoulder, tilting his head as a signal towards the elevator. “I’ll show you the way.”

“That’s alright, I can just ask Jarvis.” Stiles shook his head, the idea of becoming a burden still a fresh pain in his gut. “Besides you need to get going.” 

“Going?” Steve’s eyebrows raised to his hairline. “Where?”

“Home.”

“He is home.” Tony pointed out, his pointer finger on Steve’s direction.

Steve nudged Stiles to the elevator—which is rapidly becoming Steve’s favorite new-age invention whenever Stiles is around. He faced Stiles’ questioning stare. “Yes, well actually, I’m in charge of this kindergarten day-care with the exception that it doesn’t end at night, nor the days following after.”

“You? Managing the Avengers?” Stiles slowly felt a grin breaking in his face, playfully frowning at him, happily being escorted to the elevators. “Are you trying to steal Captain America’s job?”

Tony smirked, rolling another apple in his hands. “Yeah, are you?” 

“I know you have the same name, Steve. But just don’t.” Stiles shrugged, enjoying the laughter Tony and Clint suppressed and Steve’s alarmed expression. “I heard he’s quite the fair fighter.”

“Fair fighter, indeed.” Clint narrated in a dramatic voice, his tone getting louder and louder as Steve shoved Stiles into the elevator and repeatedly pressed the close button. “Our beloved honor pride and joy of the team, Captain America. The great sentimental roman—“

Steve cut him off the same time the doors did, a laughing Stiles by his side. “Goodnight!”

 

~~~

 

Steve dropped Stiles off in the 6th floor that he’ll be sharing with Clint, excusing himself to the 3rd floor to check on Natasha and Bruce in his medical lab. The elevator opened up to a rather short but spacious hallway with one door on each wall, the end of the hallway acting as a window with it’s glass walls.

Stiles opened the door and backed his shoulders against it to close it once he was inside, before heading inside the short hallway. The hallway opened up to a huge flat—almost thrice the size of his old studio apartment. It had a mini kitchen bar and island counter and a sofa faced at a flat screen TV mounted to the wall. The open concept-living room was filtered with natural lighting from the tall windows that covered the wall; one of the windows multi-functioning as a sliding window to enter the short wide balcony along the window wall. 

He took a minute to figure out where everything was: His clothes all hanged and folded into the wardrobe in his room, which was ridiculously awesome with the floor to ceiling bookshelf as walls and a library sliding ladder attached to it. His bed was directly facing the bookshelf wall, a queen sized deep blue and brown colour scheme on an oakwood bed frame with a mountain of pillows. 

Stiles flopped down onto the bed, bouncing from the springs. This place was so expensive that he was sure he owed Tony his first born, if he were to ever have kids. He realized somewhere in the middle of the horror motion picture of Beacon Hills High that he wasn’t exactly a straight player. Women are amazing, Stiles agrees with that to the full extent, but they’re more of goddesses than lovers. Look at it this way, they’re all Beyonce—admirable but untouchable.

Beacon Hills. He hasn’t given the place much thought over the past few months. Stiles closed his eyes, sinking into the comfort of the bed before sitting up. It was no time to reminisce about the past. Especially if his hunch is right. 

Taking his phone out of his pocket, he dialed a number he knew by heart. Waiting for the dialing tone, he got up and walked out into the living room. 

“Hey, babe.” 

Stiles smiled at the greeting. “Sorry to disappoint, it’s just me.” 

“Yeah, I know. Babe.” 

Letting the laughter soothe his nerves, Stiles huffed. “It’s good to know that some things never change. How are you, Chase?” 

From the end of the line, Chase put his phone off speaker, taking it into his hands while closing the heavy leather book he had out. “Relatively fine. I heard things on your end has been rather interesting. SHIELD, huh?”

Stiles rolled his eyes. He should’ve known. After all, you can’t hide secrets from someone who sees everything. “Yeah, that happened, somehow. I figured I’m not going to think about it too much before I lose my mind trying to make sense of how all of this is happening.” He trailed his hands over the smooth wallpaper of the hallway from his bedroom and conjoining bath to the living room. “Anyways, I called to see if you’re free any time soon.” 

Chase clipped the book back into it’s holding, closing the glass casing with a frown. “For you, always. But why?” 

“There’s something I need to check.” Stiles stopped in his tracks, remembering something he had stupidly forgotten of in the midst of all the chaos going on. “I need to go. I’ll explain tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow’s fine.” Chase kept his frown, unsettled by the anxiety he could feel off the vibrations of Stiles’ voice. 

“Okay, thanks again. I’ll see you then.” Stiles hung up on the man before he got a chance to respond. 

Going out the balcony, he let the cold air of the night bite his skin. The night sky was lit up by the twinkling lights from the high-rise multimillionaire company buildings and blaring bright billboards. Stiles sigh. While the world is definitely beautiful, the little round bastard is trying to screw him over. 

Staring into his phone, he scoffed a breathless nervous short laughter. Five months. Is that seriously the best he can get until he needs to deal with the hellhole?

He pulled out his wallet from his back pocket, flipping it open to take a piece of paper from one of the card holders. Slipping the wallet back in, he turned the paper around in his hands, eyes raking the city in vain for another solution. 

“Fine.” Stiles whispered to himself, swallowing his emotions, opening the folded paper. With trembling fingers he typed the number in his phone, thumb stopping on the call button. 

Then he hit it. 

Honking cars, harsh winds and a loud gulp later, the call went through.  

“Hello?” A voice he hasn’t heard in a long time. 

“Who’s calling?” That husky rough voice he remembered changed a tone and mellowed out, he pointed out to himself.

“Is anybody there, hello?” The words are stuck in his throat, unyielding to his insistence. Why is this so damn hard? 

“I’m hanging up now.” 

Before Stiles could think it through, he bit out a small, “Don’t.”

The silence through the line was deafening for the two callers. Their breaths a tad bit louder than usual, heard on both ends of the phone.

A whisper. “Stiles?” 

Even though he knew the other couldn’t see him, he nodded once, exhaling slowly through his nose. “Yes, Jackson. Hi.” 

Back in Beacon Hills, Jackson yanked his phone from his ear, looking around the loft he was in for a pack meeting that hasn’t happened in a while. He made a split second decision and lurked off down the stairs to exit the building towards the parking lot.

“Hi.” The blonde gripped his phone in a tight hold, voice uncharacteristically soft. Jackson couldn’t believe that Stiles was calling him, and neither could Stiles himself. After months of silence and trying to track him down, the missing person tracks him instead with a single call. 

“Are you—” with the pack “—alone?” 

The connotation behind the words, or lack thereof, was crystal clear between the two of them. “Now I am.” 

Stiles looked up, his glassy eyes betraying his will power. Of course, they would still be together, going strong even without him. A part of him had wished that the pack would break themselves apart, slowly pulling at the seams, and he imagined that he was the cause of it—a rightful selfishness that he earned. Even now, that bitterness is still there. Fuck his life.

From the prolonged silence, the werewolf winced. Jackson was one of the very few who went against the pack’s common view of the boy; it pains him that they let him go that way. “Listen, Stiles—“

“Don’t.” Stiles snapped harshly at the sympathetic tone. It was humiliating and it was full of pity, condescending and despicable to his ears. “I don't want to hear it.” 

Jackson bit back his whine the same way he did five months ago: forcefully. 

He could almost hear the whimper in the speaker by his ear, but Stiles stood strong. He knew that Jackson wasn’t technically a part of what happened, in fact he seemed to be against it, but Stiles couldn’t deal with this. At least not now. “Look, I only called because I need you to check something for me.”

Pleasantly surprised at the feeling of being needed, Jackson rapidly shook his head up diagonally, desperate to win the boy’s favor back. “Yes, anything. Just tell me.” 

Stiles closed his eyes, a little relieved but his voice still stone cold. “Find the Nemeton.” 

Jackson pulled his phone away to physically stare at it with confusion before pressing it back to his ears. “Why?”

“Just do it.” Stiles knew that his tone was harsh and cutting, but he just couldn’t help it. Biting his cheeks, he whispered, “Please.”

The blonde blinked a few times, slowly. This was the unapologetic boy he had known since he was a little child. He’s never said sincerities like that before, especially not to the jock who made his high school life a living hell until they banded together against evil. Shaking his head from the shock, Jackson continued nodding. “O-okay.” 

Stiles didn’t know he was holding his breathing, the air piling in his lungs desperate for a way out. It left him in a rush as soon as Jackson agreed, the words that went out with it quickly sealing the exchange. “Call me on this number when you find it.”

“Stiles, wai—“

He locked his phone, ending the call in the process. Jackson’s voice hang in the air like the presence of a ghost. Or there might really be a ghost that Stiles wasn’t aware of or ever existing. Whatever the hell it is, Stiles hated it (and the ache in his heart wasn't really helping either). 

Chapter Text

Stiles turned the heat down from the stove, stirring inside the pan one last time before scooping the soup into the bowl he prepared. He bent down to grab a tray from the drawers and simultaneously checking on the garlic bread he popped in the oven a while ago. 

No one seemed to be awake just yet, but that’s a given since he’s awake in the ass crack of dawn at 6 in the morning. But, he’s a student, so he’s gotta keep a tight schedule or else everything will fall upon him like a brick wall. 

Taking the pan out of the oven, he arranged the bread on a plate along with two sunny side ups. He grabbed a mug from the overhead cupboard and poured in his special mix of tea. Tying his apron off, he balanced the tray in one hand and headed to the elevator. 

“Good morning, Jarvis.” He called out inside the elevator, smiling at the ceiling—which is weird cause he knows Jarvis is everywhere but it just seemed like the thing to do (makes him feel less mental for talking to empty air). 

“Good morning, Stiles.” 

Stiles smiled in triumph at finally getting Jarvis to call him by his name instead of the overly formal title that he absolutely feels ridiculous about.  “Take me to Natasha, please.” 

“Gladly.” Jarvis started the elevator, which had no buttons so good luck to whoever tries to rob this building. Well, at least the one good thing that came out of that design is that no one will be able to hijack the tower. Finally, somewhere safe. “Dr. Banner’s lab and medical ward, level 3. Enjoy your day, Stiles.” 

“You too, man. Thanks!” Stiles called out behind him, walking towards the patient’s room. He got a glimpse at the lab that Bruce works in, which is absolute heaven to a medical student like him. He’s definitely bribing Bruce later to play in it—maybe with some baked goods. 

Knocking the door softly, he slid it open and entered the room. “Agent Romanoff?” Stiles saw the woman wide awake, watching the news in the television from her upright hospital bed. He bowed. “Your breakfast, me lady.” 

The redhead broke a small smile in her beautiful features, returning the bow a nod of her head. “I’ve been waiting for hours, I’m famished.” 

“I must not keep the lady waiting, silly me.” Stiles gasped in mock shock, pulling the rolling table stand from the corner of the room to fit into Natasha’s bed, placing the tray down in it. “I shall iron my hands so forgive me, me lady.” 

“I need to know your name before I can forgive you.” 

“The filthy servant’s name is Stiles, me lady.”

Romanoff placed her hand on Stiles’ hunched shoulders. “Rest easy, Stiles. You may call me Natasha.”

Stiles bowed a grandiose elegant bend, taking Natasha’s hands in his and placing a soft air kiss on it. “As you wish, me lady.” He took the cover off of the tray, gesturing to the food. “Comfort mushroom soup with a side of toasted garlic bread and eggs, to your preference—at least according to Jarvis—and a warm mug of specially brewed tea. Bon Appétit.” 

“Splendid.” Natasha laughed at his act, finally breaking it when she started drinking the soup down with the bread. “What brings you up so early? No one usually gets up this early aside from Cap.” 

“Well, I have school, for one. And I’m cultured and mannered, unlike those Neanderthals snoring off in their beds.” Stiles took a seat next to her in one of the soft arm chairs, rolling his eyes at the ceiling to the men upstairs.

Natasha gave an approving nod. “Finally, a proper gentleman.” 

Stiles fiddled with his fingers, looking to his laps. “W-what about Captain Rogers?” 

“He’s too much of a gentleman with women. He treats us like we’re made of glass, it’s seriously offensive.” The woman huffed a pained sigh, as if she was physically offended from it. 

Stiles scoffed, stealing one of the garlic bread. “I can safely say you’re the only one that feels that way.” 

“What’s this?” Natasha lowered her spoon, tilting her head forward to the boy. “You’ve got a crush on Cap, don’t you?”

“No. Crush?” The boy nearly choked on his bread, coughing the words out in rapid succession. “What? On who? No.” 

Romanoff chuckled at the obvious denial, shaking her head. “Oh, honey, you’re going to be a splendid addition to the team.” 

Trying hard to change the subject, he took something out of his pocket, unwrapping the plastic wrap. “Here, I’ve got a present to commemorate your healthy recovery.”

Stiles placed the small pot of dirt in front of Natasha, who gave him a weird look before she watched him raise his hands palms up and watched seedlings grow and fan out into beautiful pale purple flowers.  

“Autumn Crocus.“ Natasha’s eyes widen, hands reaching out to touch the petals. “It’s one of the most endangered plant species in the world. How?”

He simply smirked at her, widening the span of his fingers to grow more. “It’s a beautiful yet deadly plant; one of a kind. I felt like it was the perfect gift for the only formidable member of the Avengers.”

Natasha marveled at the flower, she’s never seen it before. 

“Oh, and.” Stiles fan out both his hands around the plant, another flower growing taller than the others, bud bulging out more than usual. “Something special.” The bud opened to reveal a circle pendant with the black widow signature on it, a beautiful vintage version. 

Natasha reached out and plucked the pendant out, pulling the chain from the stem before the flower burst into dust. She huffed a surprised laugh, turning the necklace around in her palms. 

“That’ll protect you from things that will cause you unavoidable deadly harm like before.” Stiles offered a shy toothful grin.

“First you save my life and now you’re guaranteeing my life, it seems like I’ve got a new guardian angel.” Putting the necklace on, Natasha trailed her fingers down from her neck to the pendant, feeling a wave of warmth through her body. “Thank you.” 

Stiles coughed awkwardly in return, mumbling a small ‘you’re welcome’ to her, making her laugh at his inability to deal with gratitude. “Uh, I’ll leave you to it, then. Got school.” 

The boy could not rush from the room faster, leaving an amused and touched Natasha in her room. He shared a private smile with himself, pleased that he was able to cheer the deadly agent. Bruce was waiting next to the elevator when he got back up to the living room floor, smiling at him. 

“What?” He looked around, confused. 

Bruce waved his hand that had a StarkPad on a live footage of Natasha’s room. 

“Of course.” Stiles rolled his eyes. “Is there anything that’s not under surveillance.”

“Sadly, no.” Bruce winced pitifully at the boy. 

Stiles shook his head disapprovingly, “No wonder you have trust issues.” 

The good doctor followed the boy into the kitchen. “It’s very kind, what you did for her.” Bruce complimented him, watching him scurry around the kitchen, taking out a batter from the fridge and a skillet from the pantry. “She’s very closed-off. It’s nice to see her being vulnerable.” 

“It’s not just her.” Stiles mumbled, but it was heard by Banner. By the silence that went on, Stiles sighed as the butter sizzled off the pan. “Everyone here has kept to themselves. I know that cause that’s what I also do. The burden, the pressure, the responsibility of saving everyone is on each of your shoulders—and as hard as you try to control it, it’s eating away at you.” 

Flipping one after another pancake, Stiles stacked them equally to different plates, different toppings on each ones also according Jarvis’ recommendation. He slid one in front of Banner who was sitting on the island counter connected to the open stove that he was working on, a plate of plain pancakes with chocolate syrup. “I’m trying to change that. Because I’ve seen what happens if it goes on like this, up close and personal.” 

Picking up his school bag he left at the couch, he packed in his lunch and threw it over his shoulder, fixing a beanie on top of his hair. “Look forward to it, Doc.” 

Bruce Banner was caught off-guard by the tirade of analysis Stiles threw at him. Startled by the amount of brutal honesty the young boy was able to speak with such confidence and calm. A strong personality and a headstrong mindset. 

Tony walked into the living room to see stacks of pancakes on different plates. “Chocolate Pancakes!” He took the plate with his favorite all-chocolate pancakes and syrup. “Wait, Brucie, you can’t cook.” 

Bruce shook his head at the statement. “Stiles made it.”

“I knew moving him in was the right decision, we finally have a decent cook in the house!” Tony cheered, shoving the pancake down his throat, stifling his moans. “What’s wrong?”

The doctor blinked away his stupefaction, softly grinning at what just happened. He cut into his pancake, a breath of relief washing over him when he tasted homemade breakfast that he hadn’t had in a long time. “Nothing.”

 

~~~

 

“That’s all for today. I’ll be expecting your reports to be on my desk by tomorrow morning before 12.” The professor shouted in the middle of the chaos of students pouring out of the classroom at the end of their day. 

Stiles went up to the professor, jumping his steps to skip the stair to go down to his desk. He pulled out his report from his bag, clumsily dropping most of his papers along with it. The professor laughed at him, used to the uncoordinated disposition his favorite student had. Stiles glared at him. “You know I can drop this class any time I want to, right?” 

The professor crossed his arms, raising his eyebrow at him. “Really?”

“Yeah, you’re right, I can’t.” Stiles gave up, waving goodbye to his professor. He was used to submitting his work early, another advantage of being ahead of class is that he had more free time to take care of his other matter of business (debatably the more important one).

He rushed through the students in the hallway, greeting the greetings that the others called out to him, exiting the campus in a hurry. Stiles walked all the way to his next destination, brainstorming in his head. 

The recent events that happened were relatively weird in his mind. He knew he was unlucky, but he can’t be that unlucky to have one after another disaster getting thrown his way in a matter of days. Once an accident, twice a coincidence, thrice a pattern. It was the most common rule of any investigation. He never thought he’d have to quote Ian Fleming in his life, but well, thing’s happen.  

Stiles reached the museum, casually entering from the pass from the security guard he’s friends with. 

“He’s in the archeology section.” The security guard pressed the button to pass the turnstile. 

“Thanks, Jerry.” Stiles rushed through the metal bar that rotated from his push, automatically walking to the section he was directed to. 

The museum was probably the place he visited the most in his time in New York. It was the first place he visited when he settled—a quiet place to get away from all the crowd, to wallow in thoughts and drown in the history of it all. He spent the first month of his stay in New York in a turmoil—silent and unfamiliar to his usual bright and chatty personality. 

“That’s never a good look.” A new voice interrupted his thoughts, turning around to face the first friend he’s made in the bustling city. 

“Good to see you too, Chase.” His words dripped with sarcasm, smiling to see him healthy and fine. Chase reached for a hug which he returned, guiding him to his office in the back of the museum. 

“So, what is it you want to ask me about?” Chase stopped in front of his cupboard, letting Stiles sit on the red vintage couch in the middle of his office. He watched the orbs glow different colours when he waved his hands to them, observing the mist that flowed inside the orbs as he read them. 

Stiles never ceases to be amazed at the things his friend does—one of the most interesting magic to his knowledge. Chase is a mage with the gift of prophecy. He’s adept at doing protection magic such as shields and charms; the necklace for Natasha was a favor that he asked Chase. The man was one of the most renowned prophet in the supernatural world, that was something he learned after he met him. He hears and sees everything from the different orbs he has placed around—Stiles could not explain what he does nor understand it. 

“Have you heard anything? Trouble or unnatural things?” Stiles asked him with caution, eyes trained at the back of the mage. 

Chase slightly moved his head to the side, eyes lit up in white, frowning. “No, nothing.”

“Oh.” Stiles tried to mask his disappointment to no avail. “Well this was a bust—“

“No.” Chase repeated strongly, the dyed platinum beach white hair raining on his face from it’s man bun. “I mean I hear nothing. I see nothing.” 

Stiles took a moment to understand what he said. “You mean, you can’t hear anything?” 

The museum curator waved his hands to stop the glow of the orbs. Walking over to the wall that had a million boards and clock-like devices with pointers and numbers, keeping track of who-knows-what. “The gods have stopped whispering. There’s nothing—I can’t see anything. It’s as if there’s a barrier, something blocking the way.” 

“Is that—bad?” Stiles stood up. 

The orbs shook slightly, both of their eyes flitting towards the cupboard, stance anxious and jumpy. Chase was the first to recover. “Yes. Very.” He moved to wards the stand in the middle of the shelves, looking towards the big leather-worn book, flipping the pages to find it all blank, cursing. “Very bad.” 

Stiles sensed the panicked state that Chase had spiraled into. “Why? What is that?”

“The Book of Horus.” The prophet stressed, flipping to random pages of the book to find it all equally empty. “It’s an all-changing book that records events around the world and calculates it’s actions and courses that will unfold. This is the only existing artifact in the whole world.” He slammed the cover of the book down. “And it’s blank.” 

A deadly feeling creeped into his gut, somehow knowing that his hunch was right. “What does that mean?”

The lights above them flickered, their eyes now on the ceiling, then the light turned off. In the silence, Chase whispered, his voice wavering. “I don’t know. This has never happened before.”

Stiles maneuvered his way through the dark to stand by Chase, the latter instinctively pulling Stiles towards him and casting a protection shield around them. Stiles grabbed his arm, the lights turning back on. “What’s happening?”

“I—“ Chase cut his words short as the lights brightness escalated in it’s intensity, making both men wince at the harsh light. 

“Chase, do something!” Stiles shook the arm he was holding to snap the man out of his reverie. 

The lights burst, sparks flying throughout the room and bounced against the shield Chase casted around them. One of the orbs breaking in sync with the light, a green colored smoke escaping from the cracks and dissipating in the air. Chase dismantled the shield, rushing to the ground to pick up the broken pieces of the orb. 

Stiles looked around the darkness, only light filtering in from the curtained windows. Glass shards from the lights scattered on the floor, some imbedding itself on the couch and rained on the desk. 

“Chase?” He called out to the man in a stupor kneeling on the floor, shaking his shoulders with a gentle arm. 

The ghostly look the normally charming and gallant man gave Stiles was enough confirmation for him to know that his suspicion was growing more real by the second.

 

~~~

 

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Tony repeated for the sixth time, crossing his arms in a show of confidence, but Bruce saw his leg bouncing up and down in agitation.

Steve and Clint were pacing around the room, worried for the late return of their newest housemate. It was way past 10 at night and Steve had called the campus to ask if Stiles was still there, but the university told him that the boy’s class ended way earlier at 4. 

Clint spared Tony a blank glare, waving his hands around. “The kid is like a magnet to trouble. He’s been in three dangerous situations in all of one week; and the last one was a fucking invasion from a supernatural creature—which I still can’t wrap my head around.” 

“He’s magic.” Bruce tried to reason, his fingers laced together propped on his knees from the couch he was sitting next to Tony on. “He can handle himself.”

“He can’t handle everything by himself.” Steve commented, walking back and forth in front of the elevators. “And how am I just now figuring out that he’s been through two hijacking attempts in SHIELD? How was he recruited to SHIELD in the first place anyways, he’s just a kid.”

Tony pointed an accusing finger at Steve. “First, he’s not a kid—he’s a legal adult by his age and far more mature than he should be. Second, why would we tell you about it? We didn’t know you knew him.” He shared a knowing look with Clint. “And we haven’t even touched the subject on why you’re keeping your identity.”

Steve glared at Tony—glaring’s just a normal response when faced with Tony Stark. “He works at the bookstore I go to. It’s just a coincidence that he doesn’t know me and you need to keep it that way.” 

Clint narrowed his eyes at the Captain, stopping in his pacing. “Are you sure that’s the only reason you’re doing it?” 

Rogers turned a deaf ear on the question, continuing the choreography of a worried (boy)friend. Bruce shook his head at the antics of the three men, keeping his eyes on the StarkPad showing Natasha’s vitals and footage in the room. 

“Tony.” Steve snapped, startling the man from his posture. “Didn’t you bug his phone or something?” 

“The Cap is intentionally asking me to break the rules? What sorcery is this?” Tony joked only to receive judging stares by all three of the men present. “Okay. Okay. I did.” Stark reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded sticky note and the bug. “But he disabled the program and took the physical one off the inside of his phone.” 

Clint snatched the note from Tony’s hand. “Try harder, noob.” He read, bursting into a harsh laughter, forgetting the tense atmosphere for a second. “He called you a noob. Jesus, he is something else.” 

Steve was about to berate Clint’s behavior when the elevator dinged and opened to reveal a shell-shocked Stiles. The man sped his walk to take the boy into his arms, patting him down while Stiles could not say anything. “Are you okay? Where were you? We were all so worried.”

“Some of us were, I knew you’d be fine.” Tony commented from the back, receiving a punch to his shoulder from Bruce who caught his lie. 

Clint dragged Stiles away from Steve’s mother-henning, who in-turn gave him the Captain America glare for stealing the boy from him. Clint made an expression to stress the older man to recognize Stiles’ state. 

That was when the rest of the Avengers noticed that Stiles was quieter than before—in fact it was eerie. Clint sat Stiles down on the sofa next to Tony and sat beside him, a comforting hand on his back. Steve followed suit, crouching in front of the boy. 

“Stiles?” Clint tried. 

Stiles kept his eyes on his lap, still trying to gather his bearings from whatever the hell just happen over in the museum. “Yeah?”

Steve bent his head to catch Stiles’ shaky eyes, concerned. His voice was soft when he held the gaze Stiles gave him. “What’s wrong?” 

“I-uh.” Stiles licked his lips, staring directly into Steve’s clear blue eyes, suddenly finding his throat as dry as the Sahara. “I don’t know.” 

He came to the museum looking for answers because that was the only place he knew for sure he could get an answer from, always. But now, all he got in return was more questions and a truckload of anxiety to his already anxious self. What’s more alarming was that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the answers. 

And what comes along with it.

Chapter Text

Luckily for Stiles, he didn't have any school the next day—so he wouldn’t need to embarrass himself in front of the whole school if he had a mental breakdown. Thus, he stayed back and unpacked all his things from the boxes he went back and got from his workplace. As paranoid as he is, he doesn't leave any important things in one place: he leaves them scattered in different places, the museum and his workplace being one of them. Most people might find this very disadvantageous, but it’s the safest way to assure maximum security in the worst situations. 

And with his life, you never know when that will be.

He only collected the things he thinks he needs, placing them all out on his living room at his own floor. Stiles had another cup of coffee running, taking his mug before walking forward to the glass wall. He sipped his coffee, reading all of the notes he had scribbled on the wall, a black whiteboard marker spinning on his finger. 

Stiles placed the mug down on the coffee table in front of his couch, moving the laptop to the side. Jarvis had connected his laptop speakers to the in-built audio system of the walls, and from it the words surrounded him, "I've been in contact with dreamcatchers, they're not seeing anything either." 

Writing the update on the board under the creature's name, Stiles sighed while looking at the laptop's screen that was directed at the writings on the glass wall. "Another dead-end, huh?" 

"Seems like it. I'm still waiting on the nymph and the merman, how’s your side?" Chase crossed his arms on the table he set his own laptop on from his office.

"The Elven Kingdom finally replied." Stiles moved away to the wall again, wincing a little from the strong ray of light that passed from the glass. Taking a red marker from his back pocket, he traced a line from the dreamcatchers to the Elven Kingdom. "They said regulating the weather is difficult these days; their Celtic Compass isn't fully working." 

Hearing the toaster call out his breakfast, Stiles sped walk to the open kitchen and spread strawberry jam on the burnt toasts. He stuffed one into his mouth, slipping the red marker behind his ear and carrying the plate with his free hand. 

“Is that all you’re eating?” The prophet questioned him when he entered the range of the camera from the video call. 

“It’s this or more cups of coffee.” Sliding the plate on the couch, since the table had no more space, Stiles wrote another link in the mind map. “How about the Fae Council?"

The platinum white-blonde huffed in frustration, holding up the beacon transmission of the faes. “Their world is in a turmoil, I can't contact any of them. But, I've heard rumors that their Mother Tree has stopped producing fairy dust." 

"Shit." Stiles furiously scribbled the information in, chewing down the rest of his bread in his mouth. ”This is worse than we thought." 

“It’s catastrophic.” Chase nodded along to Stiles, popping a cherry tomato from his abandoned omelette. “If we don’t figure out what’s happening, there will be consequences waving through this world too.” 

“At the very least we know that it only seems to be affecting supernatural beings in their own realms, which will explain  the skinwalkers’ incident, but what’s the connection to SHIELD?” Stiles took a blue marker from his pocket, slipping the black one he had between his pinky and ring finger, and circled the highest point of his mind map which he kept for the organization. 

In the screen, Chase ruffled his hair, letting his hair loose from the messy hair-do. "It's like white noise. It's worse than silence, I swear." He went off-screen to grab the Book of Horus from the stand. "Feels like I could almost hear the words behind it, but I can’t.”

Stiles spiraled into his own mind, looking at all the webs and legs of the mind map that crawled over the glass surface, doodling the scenery over New York in bright red blue and black. All of it links back to the center, the crucial piece he needs. Inside the center, circled in a red marker numerously, was one word: “Nemeton.”

The prophet untied his hair from the bun, letting his curls fall to his shoulder. Shaking his head to comb it over, he peaked up in interest at the barely heard whisper. “What about the nemeton?”

"I'm supposed to be receiving an update from—” Stiles bit back his words, considering it very carefully “—a colleague."

A series of loud bangs on his door disrupted their discussion. Stiles snapped his head to the direction, simultaneously checking his watch that read it was 7:32 a.m. Who was visiting him this early?

“I’ll talk to you once I hear from them. Jarvis, end call.” The boy rushed from one corner of the living room to the other, pulling the curtains so they meet halfway in the middle, submerging the notes and the room in darkness. 

He tried his best to clean out the mess he made of his living room but gave up when the series of knocks kept on coming. “Jesus, I’m going.” 

Of the things in the world that made Stiles speechless, there aren’t many that still exists. He gasped when he first went to the museum, he cried when he got his first laptop and the path to his googlefu, he maybe-really-kinda gave himself a concussion when he first tried out his newfound powers. Point is! There’s been a few that made his jaw drop. 

Not like this one. Not when he opened the door.

“HELLO, SPARK!” 

Stiles thought that his voice was louder than the speakers he was just using for a video call, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. 

“Oh yes hello, hi.” Stiles gave himself a whiplash with how fast his turned his head to face the intruder in his flat who was already making himself at home. “Wait, what did you say?”

His intruder turned around to face him, confusion in his eyebrows. “I said a greeting, little spark.” 

The words processed in his brain, trying to remember a time he outed his magic identity specification, but he didn’t. “I didn’t tell any—Wh-what are you doing?” Stiles looked up to see the blonde freely moving around his place, touching things that really shouldn’t be touched. “Just be careful, okay?”

With all the mess on the floor and around his living room, his guest paid no mind to his steps when he stomped over a glass mason jar. “I hope that wasn’t anything important.”

“No.” He could almost see his lie meter breaking off the charts, Stiles’ voice a pitch higher than before. “The dragon wing is not important at all, there’s just gonna be one less dragon in this world—which is apparently none because that’s the last.” Stiles hurried his speech,  internally cursing himself for the crack in his voice.

Unable to pick up the desperate and sarcastic tone in the boy’s voice, his guest trudged on and continued picking stray objects, including an antique husk of a fae’s wings. Stiles bit back a whimper by hurriedly sipping his coffee when it crashed in his hands, nodding to the apology the man gave him. 

Jesus, this guy has no regards for antique history preservation.

The god continued to grabbed another one—for some reason, obviously not learning his lesson—and Stiles choked on his coffee.

“No! Put that down.” Stiles reprimanded the long haired blonde, nearly slipping over his cape when he took the dark metal cube out of his grasp. “What the hell are you doing?!”

Looking confused, the man simply nodded and moved to pick another object—a teardrop shaped blue stone. 

“Woah! Careful there Pantene, this you can not break.” The boy snatched the item from his hands, cradling the box and the teardrop in the crook of his elbow, setting it down very carefully on top of the shelves that lined the wall. “Unless you want a demon hole sprouting right here next to my newly acquired typewriter set after Tony broke my last one.”

The man seemed to be taken aback for a second, crossing his arms. “I am Thor, son of Odin, who is this Pantene you speak of?”

Stiles blinked. “Wow, I uh—nope, that’s not gonna work.” This was definitely not how he expected his first meeting with the god going, if not ever. “I’ve never had my sarcasm fail me due to lack of common knowledge before, that’s a first.”

Thor smiled contently at himself, offering a small nod of the head to the statement. “You’re welcome, I’m glad to be your first.”

“It wasn’t a compliment but thank you.” Deciding it would be better to just go with it, he conceded. He’s a god for god’s sakes. 

The door opened again, revealing a barely awake Clint still in his pajamas—very much naked from the torso upwards. “Your first what?” 

“Clint don’t you start—“ Stiles turned to look at the new guest before hurriedly turning back. “Oh, seriously? Put on some clothes old man.”

Clint chuckled, striding to the younger and sliding and arm around his shoulder, taking his coffee from him. “Don’t deny it when you know you like it.” 

“I’d like it if there was a bruise in your sphincter.” Stiles raised his elbows, prepping to jam it into the man behind him. 

Good naturedly, Clint ruffled the kid’s hair, unwilling to let go of the boy in his grasps. “I’d believe that if you had more muscle mass, you little punk.”

Feeling left out, Thor moved towards the two, taking his cape off in the process which caused Stiles to gawk like a deprived-puppy because, holy hell that should not be as hot as it is.

“Thor, what the hell are you doing?!” He was turning into a broken radio; the effect of Thor, ladies and gentlemen. Witness and marvel.

“The man of birds told me that skinship is of human nature.” The son of Odin continued to take off his armory, seemingly unaware of the colour slipping from the boy’s face. “I welcome you to our humble abode with one, my friend.” 

Stiles was slack jawed. “Is this a strip house? Has my life really become the set of a b-rated porn hub?” He struggled in Clint’s hold, tilting his head towards the ceiling to avoid any eye contact because he thinks his eyes will break, “Oh gods, please put that back on.” 

Thor took the words as nil, because he simply wrapped both his arms to Clint and Stiles’s squished mess of limbs, none realizing that the door clicked open again.

“We’re having a welcome party and no one told me?” Tony barged into the room, helping hold Natasha’s weight beside him. 

Stiles raised his hands in defeat, incredulous by the action. “Does anybody knock?”

Natasha took pity on the boy, knowing first hand how hard it was to deal with these clingy creatures. “Sweetie, Steve just wanted me to call you up for breakfast.” 

“Right. Yes. Breakfast!” Stiles quickly took the invitation and squirmed out of the embrace with ease of the distraction. Making a break to the door, he rushed out as fast as he can, leaving the member of the avengers behind him. 

Which, oh right. The avengers. His room. Bad Idea. 

He went back as fast as he can, slamming the door open to see the gang touching his stuff and rummaging through the boxes, startling all of them. 

“Really, Natasha.” Stiles leveled the woman who seemed to be perfectly capable of walking on her own by the way she was stretched to the ceiling knocking any empty spaces open. “I expect this behavior from these—“ He gestured to the “—barbarians.” Stiles ignored the string of protests coming his way. “But you?”

Natasha found no regret in her actions, shrugging her shoulders. “Hey, you’re the one with mysterious secrets including ways to know our secrets. I’m a spy, it’s my nature.” 

Stiles gave up on negotiating further, waving his hands in a circle to gesture them out. “Well take your nature up and away from my personal space, please and thank you.” 

The Avengers filed out of his room with slumped shoulders, glancing back to look at his living room like it’s the pandora box of their dreams, but Stiles shut that down with his glare. He looked to Thor, who stood beside him smiling innocently. 

Without thought, Stiles draped Thor’s forgotten cape on the floor over the god’s face before pushing him out of the room and closing the door behind him. “Children.” 

 

~~~

 

The defeated bunch was herded to the room by one mentally exhausted Stiles Stilinski (“Ha! That’s one monstrosity right there” “I’ll show you monstrosity if you don’t shut up, Anthony”). 

Steve was manning the stove while Bruce helped plated the simple bacon and eggs for everyone to take. Stiles replied to the greeting he received from the two men, sharing a secret smile with the latter from the conversation they had the other day, to which the older man shook his head fondly at.

Moving to stand behind the kitchen counter, he smiled to the current chef. “I didn’t know you could cook?”

Steve faked offense at the accusatory question, pointing his spatula towards the younger. “You didn’t ask. Besides, I could do some simple everyday foods, nothing too advanced.” He lifted the pan to slide the omelette to Bruce’s plate. “I had to learn how to do it back in the old days.” 

Steve couldn’t see the frown growing between the younger’s brow, of doubt and suspicion. Tony saw it as clear as day and made a note to ask him later, while everyone made haste of their breakfast, breaking in small private conversation on their day itinerary. 

Stiles could see Tony scheming behind his actions, deciding to move on as fast as he could. “You gotta love a man with an apron.” 

The splutter in Steve’s action was caught by everyone but Stiles, the youngest turning his back to grab juice from the fridge. Natasha shared an obvious smirk to Clint and then down his way, to which Stiles just frowned on. 

What is with these spies and their secret eyebrow language? And where can he get a crash course on it? Seriously. Wherever he goes, he’s always got a Der—

Stiles stopped in his pouring, rewinding what he just thought of in his mind. That’s a name he hadn’t thought about in a while. He scoffed, realizing how pathetic he was that he can’t even say his name. It felt years since what happened happened but at the same time it felt like it was just yesterday. 

His brain was struggling to keep the topic out of his mind but his stupid heart just kept on pushing it forward. 

Thankfully, before Stiles could breakdown in a mental panic in front of the Avengers—which wasn’t any better than having it at school—Steve shook him. “Stiles?” 

“Yeah?”

The older man searched his eyes for any sign of what he was looking for. But Stiles kept his gaze steady and strong, he’s learned how to lie to Werewolves—he’s basically the only functional model of a supernatural lying machine (which does not sound as cool as he thought it’d be). “Are you okay? You seem out of it since yesterday, which you still won’t talk about.” 

Stiles felt guilty under the gaze of Steve, but he persevered. “Nothing, for now at least. I’ll tell you once I know more.” He could practically feel the stern observatory glare that Tony directed to him, ignoring it as best as he could. 

“So, Thor, son of Odin, sponsored by Pantene.” Stiles swiftly pivoted towards the god sitting on the island bar, leaning on his elbows to the man shoving eggs down his chin. “What brings you to the mortal world of weakling idiots?” 

Tony was the only one who found the humor more enlightening than the general insult, the rest pinning Stiles with a straight face. 

“This Pantene must be an honorable fellow.” Thor smiled to Stiles, unaware of the sly grin he received back. “But, I am here on official business.” 

Natasha piqued her interest, her senses spiking in the connection of the origin of her  injury and Thor’s visit. “Official business?” 

“The balance of Midgard has shifted.” Thor stated with a sense of urgency, dropping his fork as gently as he could to the plate (meaning resulting in a crack on Tony’s newly replaced tableware). “I do not know of what the cause is, but I have come to formally investigate on this occurrence.” 

Stiles let the information sink into his brain; balance. That’s true. Everything he’s collected on this weird phenomenon had led to the conclusion that the balance of the supernatural world had tipped to a more sinister scale. The reason was still unknown however, and it still wouldn’t explain what was happening with the constant attack against SHIELD.

“What do you know so far?” Clint continued the line of questioning, folding his arms together. 

Thor shrugged, taking his cup of coffee down in a single gulp—his Adam’s apple, Jesus. Focus, Stiles! 

“So far, we’ve narrowed the problem to come from deep within and not from external forces.” 

Stiles paused, the words echoing in his mind. Deep within? 

“Tony.”

“Stiles.” 

The two men looked at each other the same time they called each other’s attention, both having formulated the same hypothesis. Tony cleared his throat to dissipate the weird looks thrown their way, especially the intense one from Steve. “I remembered that I haven’t shown you my playroom yet.” 

Stiles got with the programme. “I don’t need to know about your sex dungeon, Tony, I have ideas of my own, thank you very much.” 

Steve choked on his eggs while Clint burst out laughing, Bruce suspiciously red, the tension gone from everyone’s mind except for Natasha.

“While I would love for you to see that, I would still very much like to use it for my own self-preservation.” Tony quipped back, careful from the burning glare Steve shot him with. “Come on, I’ll show you my lab instead.” 

Stiles playfully considered the offer before accepting it, walking with Tony to the elevator. “As long as I’ll come out the same state I did entering, then why not?” 

Tony crossed his hands behind his head, winking at him. “No promises.” 

“No funny business, Tony!” Steve called out behind him, weirdly constrained in his voice. 

“If I’m not back in an hour, send back up.” Stiles called out before the doors closed, catching Steve’s warning to be careful. 

 

~~~

 

When they arrived at the fourth floor mechanics lab, Tony spent a while pointing to projects that he was working on, pleasantly surprised on the inputs the young genius had to say about it. “Is there anything you can’t do?” 

Stiles inspected one of the repulser that Tony had been fixing. “What do you mean?”

Tony scoffed. “You cook, you’re smart in every aspect, you’re loyal, brave if not ballsy, a  medical student and you’re fucking magical for christ’s sakes.” 

“It seems that way, yes.” Stiles nodded along to Tony’s string of praise, trying hard not to blush. 

“But in reality?” Tony tested him, watching Stiles walk around the room looking for something. 

The boy ducked underneath desks and checked behind cupboards, pulling down panels that extended from the ceiling as holographic glasses. “That we’ll see soon, won’t we.” 

“If you’re looking for bugs, I can assure you that you won’t find one.” Tony piped up, crossing his arms. “This is a secure facility.” 

Stiles leveled him with a blank poker face and a tilt of his eyebrow, fumbling his hands on the glass casing so he could access Tony’s father’s SHIELD temporary badge. 

The older man warned him. “Be careful with that.” 

Contrary to the words, Stiles pried the metallic insignia open despite the outrageous cry Tony let out.

“What did I just sa—“ 

Stiles shut Tony up by holding up a blinking red light attached to the bug that had been inside the badge. The older man frowned in shock while Stiles turned the bug around, examining the design. “Soviet made. I’m guessing it’s been here the whole time.” He threw the bug on the ground, crushing it beneath his boot. 

Tony took a seat on one of his swivel chairs, hands running through his hair. “Well, now what? I’m guessing you did that because you’re thinking of the same thing I am?”

“Yeah, Thor’s words just clicked somehow.” Stiles leaned against one of the worktables, hands tinkering with a rotor. “It came from within.” 

“From deep within SHIELD.” Tony theorized, pulling up on of his hologram monitors, his Stark Pad controller in his hands to track his update. “It’s not just in the system, it is the system.” 

Stiles watched the man do his job and he is not afraid to admit that he’s kind of star-struck by watching the genius work. It’s his weakness, okay? He has a lot of weaknesses for a lot of things, especially towards hot older men (in particular one book nerd, but he’ll never say that out loud). 

“I’ve been running a program on the origin of the hack according to online fingerprints, it’s a new system I’m working on—basically analyzes the patterns and sequences of how each operative normally works with and identifies them.” Tony explained, eyes switching between the screen and Stiles. “I’m tracking the plane and Triskelion hijacking, which I’m supposed to get the results right about now.”

The screen rolled with commands and lines and lines of codes from Tony’s one press of a button, opening different windows and matching systems of digital signatures, finally stopping at one restricted access command.

Of a level 10 operative.

Stiles and Tony stopped their administrations on whatever they were doing. Eyes freezing at the analysis conclusion, unable to fathom the implications.

“Wait, that can’t be.” The younger muttered.

“Just to be clear, we’re thinking Fury right?” Tony broke the silence. “That man’s always rubbed me the wrong way.”

“I’m not going to question the word choice, but I don’t know.” Stiles shook his head, turning to face Tony with fear in his eyes. “There’s just something about Fury that I trust in—despite the constant infuriating one-eyed gaze of enigmatic ‘big brother-ism’.”

“You’re right.” Tony sighed in defeat, turning the holograph off to somehow push the revelation away. “It was worth a try.” 

Stiles took a moment to consider all possibilities, starting with Tony. “Why did you show me this?” 

Tony squinted his eyes at the suspicion rolling off the boy, a little bit annoyed but also rather impressed by the sharp instincts the kid’s got. “I’m truly offended that you would think I’m one of the bad guys. But, you're the only other person I know who’s alright with doubting SHIELD ever since our first meeting. You said it yourself in Fury’s office, remember?” 

Wincing with shame, Stiles grunted. “I know.” 

“And why did you call me out and not Steve?” Tony hid his smirk under a tight lip. 

Stiles ignored the sly tone Tony asked him with, clearing his throat. “You’re the only one not directly involved with SHIELD. Others could be blinded by their sense of loyalty to the organization.” 

Tony nodded. “What about Bruce?”

“I do trust him, but I didn’t peg him as one for the conspiracy trouble theorist.” Stiles waved his hands, sliding back to sit on top of the table, swinging his legs. “Oh, and what is it with you and Bruce?”

The older man had the nerve to openly smirk at him. “What about me and Bruce?” 

Stiles competed with Tony for a minute or two with unblinking staring, but decided to shove the childish behavior for a more appropriate time. “Whatever, we need to figure this out now.” He cursed when he remembered another detail. “Preferably before I have my weekly meeting with Director Fury.” 

“Tough luck, kid.” Tony tried to lighten the mood, leaning on his chair while throwing a rubber ball upwards and playing catch with it. “I’d offer to come but seeing that man is only good in small doses, I for one would very much like to keep my mentality sane.”

“Jerk.” Stiles wallowed in his misery, his brain unable to keep up with the fast development. What must a man do to get a single holiday of peace and freedom? He sincerely needs help. 

The room echoed with the ringing from Stiles’ phone and with the boy being too absent-minded to check the caller, he accepted the call. “Hello?” 

“Stiles?” 

The voice shook him from his trance, his spine straightening like a bolt that jolted Tony from his seat. 

“Stiles, are you there?” His caller repeated with a shaky voice. “It-It’s me, Jackson.” 

Stiles stood from his seat on the table, straightening his shirt even though he couldn’t see him. “Yes. I’m here. Did you find it?” 

Jackson let out a breath of relief, he seriously didn’t think Stiles would answer. But then again, he did ask for it so. “It’s good to hear your voice again.”

The silence that came from Stiles was uncomfortable to everyone, including Tony who could hear the conversation from the stark echo from the speaker of his phone. Stiles waved the pleasantries off, unable to handle it. “Did you find it?” 

“Yeah.” Jackson’s voice trembled with disappointment from the rejection. “It took me a while and well—you need to see this. Will you switch to video?” 

Stiles considered it. He really considered it. His heart ached to see the blonde jock once more—the pack bond, in it’s absent, throbbing wildly from the emptiness. His mind fighting against the pain that will come from seeing him. 

But he couldn’t be so selfish as to refuse answers that could explain the situation because of his absurdly frail feelings. So he accepted the video call request, turning his phone horizontally. 

Even from the small frame of his phone, he could see Jackson’s features clearly. He’s grown; his bones more defined and his hair shorn closed to his head at the side with a styled tuff at the top; he looks good, but he lacked his soul. The shadow beneath his eye lobes, the hollow stare of his orbs before looking at Stiles and the longing behind it when he did. 

“Hi.” Jackson’s voice was so uncharacteristically soft and grateful. It was just too much. 

And then Tony just had to storm in and blow it up in proportions. “Jarvis, connect the call to the screen.” 

Before Stiles could argue against the decision, his phone blanked and the table screened out a holographic projection of the video call; everything becoming so much more clear in it’s high-tech resolution, that it almost knocked Stiles to his feet. 

Jackson gaped at the change of view, standing beside Stiles—who had filled up to his potential, as bright and attractive as ever before, maybe even more—was honest to god, Tony Stark. “Stiles, is that—“ 

“I’ll explain that sometime later, just show me what you promised me.” Stiles cut him short, Tony looking at him with a weird concern laced in his eyebrows. 

Jackson nodded once. “I don’t know what happened. But it was like this when I found it.” 

The werewolf quickly shifted his camera to point at the Nemeton—or what was supposed to be the Nemeton. Stiles instinctively clamped his gasp back in his mouth with his palm, his other hand reaching out to touch the intangible image. 

The Nemeton, which was once a tree then a stump, was now a blackened short stunted tree; the branches sprouting from the short trunk like octopus arms, curling towards the ground, dripping black unidentified goo. 

“When?”

Jackson’s reply was a short voice of one, “I don’t know.” 

Tony mumbled underneath his breath, completely ignored by Stiles. “What is that?”

Stiles repeated his words with more coherence. “When was the last time you checked it?” 

The confusion behind the werewolf was grating at Stiles’ nerves. “Not since the last time we found the chimaera’s Parrish brought to it.” 

Basically, since the Dread Doctors. Since Stiles left, which was now roughly six months ago.

“You fucking idiots.” Stiles snapped before he could think it through. For once, he’s glad he didn’t have any filter because someone desperately needs to tell them that. 

What kind of stupid irresponsible being would not check on the one thing that signaled and warned them of incoming danger? Especially the kind of danger that can affect the entire world.

The pack. That’s who. 

Jesus, he knew that they’d be in a turmoil now that he’s gone and fuck themselves over three ways to kingdom come—but he didn’t expect for it to be this soon with immediate effects that affect him too, and of course, not to mention, the whole fucking world. 

What the hell was Peter doing? Thinking of Peter, he made a separate note to discuss it with him, most likely the only person he still trusts fully in the pack.

Jackson was silent the entire time, having switched the camera back onto himself, shame evident in his pulled face muscles. Because apparently the world is ridiculously unfair that all werewolves have incredible muscles in any place imaginable—every place. 

“Take this to Peter. Tell him I’ll be in contact soon. Don’t tell anyone else but him, do you understand?” Stiles commanded Jackson, unbothered by the guilt ridden in the werewolf’s sullen expression because he deserves that damn it—no amount of puppy face can save him this time. 

Jackson rapidly nodded, resolved not to disappoint the boy. Stiles ended the call without saying goodbye again. 

Tony was a still stone figure beside him, watching Stiles with wary eyes in case the boy spontaneously combusts in the middle of his lab. Because if that happens, he knows he’s going to get hell from the tenants above their floor, from every single one of them. 

“Tony, you’re coming to the meeting tomorrow with Fury.” 

“Okay.” The older man could do nothing but nod from the absolute command that left no space to argue. “Mind if I ask why? We’re not planning of straight-up accusing him are we?”

Stiles blinked at the question. “No! No, it’s not that. Maybe, I don't know. This is something potentially bigger than that.” 

Tony was stern in his words, waving for Stiles to evaluate. “Which is?” 

“Something’s playing with it. Disturbing it.” 

“Disturbing what?” 

“Exactly what Thor said.” Stiles dead on stared at Tony with conviction that Tony knew no child would ever have without going through terrible things—that no child should ever have. “The balance of the world.”

Chapter Text

Stiles sighed perpetually because why in the holy hell was he back here again? There’s just way too many things that he’s supposed to be ‘not-okay’ with, but he’s been through the ‘greater good’ protocol so many times that he won’t even try to argue against it. 

Still though, him in his past life must have been one hell of a serial killer because whatever the hell he did to be on the receiving end of Fury’s intense gaze this often in barely the span of two weeks—he didn’t want to know but it must be pretty damn bad. 

“So.” Stiles cleared his throat to diminish the awkward situation they were once again caught up in. He pointedly glared at the audience in the room. “It seems that this meeting turned into a conference, seeing that we have five too many participants than promised.”

It was Tony’s fault, really. And the man knew it from the sheepish look he gave him. They’d meant to do this discreetly; inform the head of SHIELD of the discovery and then not-so-subtly beat him down to submission of truth about the rats possibly hiding amongst the agency.

But then, the meathead decided to sleepover and have breakfast in Stiles’ floor instead of the common floor and thus brought in Clint, who smelled the eggs benedict from his own room—then brought Thor, who smelled the food from his floor two floors above him—and then came Natasha, who Clint called down to join them—and then Bruce and Steve went in when they were suspicious of the empty common floor. And that just led to the two being unable to escape the premises together without questions, so they all tagged along. 

Wait, that means it’s his fault for cooki—let’s just stop there. Ignorance is bliss, especially when guilt is involved. 

“I was under the impression this was a personal meeting, in which I remember to have specifically mentioning.” Nick Fury looked exactly like he did—mentally exhausted and one scream away from an entire breakdown. 

“Yeah, so was I.” Being the mature one (when did that happen), Stiles went past the complication. “Moving on to our discussion, I followed up on that theory I told you about.” 

Fury gave him the approving eyebrow—at least Stiles thinks he did, he still hadn’t tracked down a 101 introduction on eyebrow language—and he linked his StarkPad to the hologram projector in the table. 

“In the supernatural world, there are some certain rules that exist to put order to the unseemly chaotic mess that it runs with. One of those rules is that all supernatural power can be controlled in its balance and pulled from by what’s called ‘Ley lines’.” Stiles brought up the image of the world in the holographic display, the globe spinning around slowly before lines started crossing each other and spreading from each continent to another like the largest spiderweb. 

“These Ley lines run all over the world and all lines are connected—but there are some special instances where these lines intersect in multiples. There are three places where this happened; Kyoto, Japan, London, England, and…” Stiles reached out to spin the globe to where he wanted to direct it, zooming in to the places he mentioned. “Beacon Hills, California.” 

“Beacon Hills?” Clint repeated under his breath, trying to remember why that sounded familiar. “Isn’t that your hometown?”

Stiles nearly cringed at the word use. “It’s my birthplace, yes.” 

“What’s special with these cities?” Fury jumped back into the boat, eager to find out what’s causing the constant stream of events. 

“It’s not the city, it’s what’s in it.” Stiles nodded to Tony for him to bring up case file reports of each of the city. They’ve spent the entire night working on locating the other two Nemeton, which was a lot harder than it sounds. “When these Ley lines are connected they share their power streams—it’s like the stem of the central nervous system in our brain—and they become a sort of pillar for a supernatural beacon in the form of a huge tree.” 

Natasha surveyed the reports, finding similarities in the cases. “They all have the same crime patterns; animal attacks, disappearance, strange deaths.”

“That’s why you’re involved in all those police files.” Bruce nodded along, finally getting the bigger picture. “That means Director Fury was right, you have been involved in the supernatural world since long ago.” 

“That’s not even the half of it, but that’s a story for another time.” Before any of them could hitch on the not-so-amusing rollercoaster ride of Stiles’ home movie of horror and trauma, he quickly refocused their attention. “Like I said, supernatural beacons, all supernatural creatures are attracted to it. They’re called Nemetons.” 

“Nemetons.” Thor suddenly spoke in his loud booming voice. “I’ve heard of them—they’re branches of the Yggdrasil.” 

Stiles frowned at the new information. A branch of the Yggdrasil, as in Yggdrasil the all powerful magical fucking tree that connects all nine realms, which was not so insanely real after all. “That actually makes a lot more sense now.” 

“I’m guessing whatever happened so far is due to this Nemeton.” Steve piped up from his seat, his curiosity getting the better of him. 

“Yeah.” Stiles signaled Tony to pull up their next document. “I reached out to a colleague in Beacon Hills to check on the Nemeton.” He took a deep breath. “And this is what we found.”

With a swipe of his hands, Tony broadcasted the still image of the abnormality of the Nemeton—they’ve tried to figure out what could be affecting the Nemeton to react this way but they’ve pulled on loose strings so far and gotten nothing of use.

"Any chance that's just a questionable new seasonal look it's trying out?" Clint tried to no avail.

Judging by the look of shock from everyone’s face and the horror from Thor’s, they’d be expecting an explanation. “Sorry guys, me and the kid wrecked our brains last night trying to figure this out but nothing. Nada.” 

“You think the recent beef with the walking dead was because of this?” 

“That’s just—No. I mean yes. Skinwalkers, yes.” Stiles looked at Clint with the most ridiculous expression he could make, scoffing. “Zombies don’t exist.” 

The norse god lifted his hand, “Actually—“

“Not now, Thor.” Stiles shut him up. If zombies actually do exist, he’s going to flip his shit—doesn’t matter what anyone says, even if he sees it right in front of his fucking eyes, zombies aren’t fucking real.

Tony squinted his eyes at the kid’s childish behavior. “Anyways, from what we’ve gathered so far, this is turning the supernatural world inside out.” He waved his hand to dismiss the hologram, leaning back against his chair. “According to Stiles’ informants, they’re not ‘functioning’ properly; out of order and in panic, which I personally thought was their normal order of business.” 

“That’s why the skinwalkers attacked us.” Steve followed the thought, linking all the pieces together. “They’re scared?” 

Fury kept his expression controlled and stoic—something Stiles would swear to break one day just because. The director had a lot in his plate and now he might have to deal with more. “So, you’re saying there could be more.”

Stiles caught Tony’s sour look and mirrored it himself, biting his lips before facing the man. “It’s very probable yes. And there are immediate repercussions that could wildly affect our world.”

“As in?” 

Stiles looked to Thor. “Well, the supernatural world and our world is interconnected more than anyone thinks it is. Just like Asgard protects the peace of nine realms, the supernatural realm protects the order of our world.” 

“Basically, what he’s saying is that the supernatural world regulates our nature; such as tidal waves, growth of greenery, seasons, natural disasters. Each and every one of them has their role.” Tony summarized Stiles’ vague description, tilting his head because he still  couldn’t understand the science between such things. If this were true, his life had been a goddamn lie. 

Bruce, who had been quiet for the most part, piqued his interest. “You mean that werewolves and vampires have purpose in their life?” 

“Werewolves helps the moon cycle by calling to it every full moon and protects the woods of their territory.” Stiles almost winced at the statement, feeling a bitter pain of irony.  “Vampires, I haven’t got a clue. And I don’t want to because they’re all fairly dicks in my opinion.” 

It was nice that the good doctor found it all so interesting by the way his eyes lit up with the new knowledge, but seriously, Stiles just needed rest right now. He’s not up to anymore discussions or brain debates—a whole night with Tony is more than his mind , body and soul could take. 

Nick Fury nodded, concluding the briefing of information, moving on to the next big problem. “How should we proceed with this information, Agent Stilinski?”

“You know, that hasn’t come up yet.” Stiles’ voice sound strained and higher to himself, awkwardly pointing his hands to state a point he doesn’t have. “I just thought you’d figure that out for me.” 

Stiles could tell he was getting better at reading eyebrow because of the unimpressed notion he understood from Fury’s brow raising. “Hey, I’m just here as an Agent giving you information. You’re the Director.” He waved his hands in a grandiose manner. “Go direct things.”

Tony snorted out loud, earning a stink eye from Steve. 

“If you haven’t noticed, Agent Stilinski. Our agency has been attacked consecutively in the last month alone, I have bigger matters to attend to.” 

“What matter is bigger than ‘the whole world is at fucking stake of supernatural invasions’?” Stiles could not believe this guy, seriously. “And excuse you, big guy, I was there for both times of the attack and the one saving yours truly, you’re fucking welcome.”

Fury smirked smugly. “Therefore you have proven yourself more than capable of handling situations including ‘the whole world is at fucking stake of supernatural invasions’ ordeal.” 

“What!? You can’t use my own actions against me, that’s just dirty!” Stiles dropped his mouth on the table, voice flying different tones and pitches, fingers pointing straight at the blinking poker faced man. “Don’t turn my coincidence into some self-serving justification for your lazy ass. You’re dirty.” 

Unaffected by the tirade, Fury bargained. “The Avengers will be at your disposal.” 

“That—“ Stiles instinctively argued but stopped to think about it “—wait, what do you mean by that?” 

“Exactly as it sounds—since Coulson is now no longer in charge of them, you’ll be our new intermediary between SHIELD and the Avengers.” Fury ignored the look of pleasant surprise from the rest of the team. “They’ll help you with any occurrence that happens in the crisis.” 

“That sound likes I’m getting more work and responsibility—which is the complete opposite of what I want.” Stiles vainly pointed out. 

But it was of no use, because now the Avengers were chatting animatedly amongst themselves about the new development and throwing out congrajulatories. Apparently whatever Nick Fury says, goes. 

And just for that, Stiles kept the ‘compromised SHIELD’ gold information a secret from the Director. It was probably not a good idea, but for the time being, Nick Fury could suck it. Maybe next time, he’d actually learn to express gratitude in a non-douchebaggery manner. 

It was for a good cause. Ish. 

 

~~~

 

Going back to the tower was Stiles’ walk of shame—he branded everything in his head to make it easier on his collective unconscious to filter things. The team were talking excitedly over how much fun it would be to have Stiles working under them, which was really an insult because they’re working under him—at least officially, but in reality, yeah they were right. 

That still meant Stiles had basic human right that is exactly why he flipped his shit when they brought up the idea of training. 

“No. Nu-uh.” Stiles shook his head violently. “You are not going to make me do all that gung-ho up close fighting, no.” Clint raised his brows to his hairline but Stiles kept on going. “I am the sidekick of all sidekicks and you know what sidekicks do? They stay on the side and kick ass from the sidelines.”

This is one thing Stiles could never stress enough—there was a reason he avoided all the pack training sessions even when Lydia was participating, well, other than the factor that they tried to push him out of it, which—Oh, it all makes sense now. 

So the pack was already disavowing him from the team since long before the Nogitsune happened. Yee-ouch. That hurts more than he thought it did. 

“But what if you need it?” Tony went behind the bar, pulling out a shaker from the counter. “Or you run out of bullets and the enemy's in close range.”

“I wont! I'm like the sniper dude who stays away from all the heat of the action a few blocks away from a high rooftop.” He flopped on the couch, unapologetic in his actions of body slamming into Steve who was reading his book. “Hell, I'm already doing more than that guy by staying closer to the fight on the ground, so gimme a break.

If there was a single explanation for Tony, it would be that he’s stubborn. Either that or a jerk, discounting his genius. “Clint’s the sniper in the family, except with a bow. And he knows how to fight as good as Natasha—“

“Yeah, no.” The woman raised her glass from the island bar stools, to which Stiles saluted to because that woman is badass.

“—So, whats your excuse?” 

Stiles almost scoffed at how ridiculous that sentence was. “Clint doesn’t count, he practically lives in the gym if he's not crawling in the vents or lurking in high spaces. Plus, he's an Avenger!”

Bruce pointed his finger at him. “So are yo-“

Before he could finish the sentence, Stiles rose from the couch with his hands up in the air. “I am not an Avenger, I am a normal college soon-to-be-dropout-if-i-don’t-stop-skipping agent with enhanced powers that occasionally helps the world fight off supernatural threats.” 

The team took his words into consideration, looking at each other with a knowing glance when Tony broke the bubble. “That is one hell of a denial, Freud would be horrified. We should add him to our group therapy sessions.”

Steve placed his book down, giving up on pretending to read. “We don't have group therapy sessions.”

Tony waved a grand hand at Steve, as if his comment supported his statement. “Exactly!”

Clint ignored the confused look Steve gave at that, focusing on the boy still slumped over the arm of the couch. “Look, Stiles, we just want you to be safe.”

“I am safe!” Stiles stressed out. “In the safety of the sidelines! With my magic!” 

“Well, we've seen what magic exhaustion can do to you.” Bruce added his own penny to the dime, crossing his arms at the boy. “You can't use it all the time.”

Stiles does admit that, yes. He had to tell them because suddenly collapsing on the way to the directors office after fixing Natasha up was enough to shock them all—it never happened for that long but it does happen. 

“I won't be using it all the time, because I won't try to actively seek out danger like you guys.” The argument was weak, Stiles knew that but he’s running out of bones to feed the hungry dogs here. “On the contrary, I try to stay as far away from it as possible.”

“But you're always in dangerous situations.” Natasha chuckled at his weak attempt.

Sighing, Stiles cursed, his hands an uncontrolled series of waves and angry jabs at empty air. “I know. I said I 'try', but it never really works." 

“Come on.” Steve nudged his legs from where he was perched on, flashing him his one thousand kilowatt smile which is illegal, he swears. “Please? You’ll be training with me, it'll be fun.”

Tony noticed the falter in his expression, either by the word choice or the meaning behind the words but he noticed it. Still, however, Stiles stood his ground. If he were to bend his knees and sway by a pretty face, he would’ve been dead long ago. Something about werewolves and their unfairly perfect genes. 

“You are not taking me to combat practice or any workouts, no.” As if making a point, Stiles readjusted his seat upright on the couch. “I am perfectly fine here with my-hey what-whoa!”

His perspective shifted a good 180 degrees as he was lifted off the couch. Steve hurled him over his broad shoulders like a sack of potatoes, which Stiles should not have found hot as fuck. He has a weakness against power, okay, sue him. Focus, Stilinski!

“What are you—“ He started to splutter when Steve started moving, forcing his head to slump over to a wall of muscle, oh wait no that’s “—Oh my god, your ass is in my face!”

Tony smirked over his margarita. “Stop complaining, we know you like it.” Natasha gave him a toast.  

“I—what, no—you—“ Knowing a lost cause when he sees one, Stiles flipped his fingers at the pair. “Whatever, let me down, Steve!”

Clint occupied the seat Stiles previously took, waving at them. “Have fun!”

“Clint! Please, Tony, no!” 

The two men winked at him. 

“Steve!!!”

 

~~~

 

The next morning, Stiles woke up with sore muscles in places he didn’t even knew had muscles. He spread himself eagle on the cover of his bed, sliding over to the side to take his phone off the charger and saw the messages bombarding him from a certain historian.    

Half-assing his shower because he really couldn’t be bothered to reach places on his body more than a forearm lift away, Stiles got dressed in casual clothing which he’s not ashamed to admit are baggy sweats. 

He’s lived all his life with men whose bodies are like Romanian sculpted marble statues, he does not need a stark comparison of his own body to them in skin tight clothing. He still has some pride, regardless of how little that might be. 

“Jarvis.” He called out in the elevator. “Take me to the lobby please.” 

“As you wish, Stiles.” The AI complied to his command, the gravity shifting at his feet. “May I ask the purpose of your leave?”

Stiles checked his watch, it was barely 8 in the morning. “I’m meeting up with Chase, he said it’s urgent.”  

“Should I wake Sir up?” 

“No, it’s fine, Jarvis.” They reached the lobby, the doors opening to reveal a bustling floor. “Thank you.” 

Stiles greeted Happy Hogan on the way out, seeing agents coming in for work. The man was a complete ironic existence to his name and appearance. Checking his phone once more, he dashed to run to the coffee shop. 

Spotting the eye-catching man bun in the midst of the crowd, Stiles sat right in front of the man. “You ordered for me?” 

“Yeah, figured not to waste our time.” Chase pushed the iced americano towards him. “I’m surprised you could come, what about your lectures?” 

Moaning at his first coffee of the day, Stiles spoke with his mouth full. “My professor’s out for a conference in London so I’m free today.” 

The smile he got from the question was worrying. “What’s wrong?” 

Chase sipped a scalding mouthful of his black coffee before answering the question. “I heard back from the sea creatures.” He took out his phone. “Turns out they’re worse off than we thought; their numbers are rapidly decreasing due to a poisonous substance spreading through the water at a breakneck speed.” 

Stiles stopped drinking. “Wait, what? How?” 

“They don’t know.” Chase typed in his phone. “The Eternal Fountain stopped flowing which means that there aren’t any protective borders against hostiles anymore. And with their decreasing numbers, the sea is vastly getting harder to control.” 

“All of them?” 

The man looked up from his phone to stare him down. “Merpeople, nymphs, water druids, everyone.” 

Stiles looked up from their table to the television playing, the volume drowned out from the bustle of the coffeeshop. The news reported sea water levels rising and icebergs melting, rapidly. 

Chase nodded to the unvoiced question that Stiles was about to ask. “Yeah, it gets worse.” 

Frowning, Stiles took the phone that the man handed him, eyes unsure. Chase started explaining before Stiles even took a look at the phone. “One of my contacts snapped this shot the last time they checked on the Eternal Fountain.” 

The pictured showed the back of a uniform with an insignia—one he recognized intimately.

Snapping his head up, Stiles widened his eyes tenfolds. “You think a SHIELD personnel is behind it?” 

“You wanted a connection, there it is.” 

“No, no that can’t be right.” Stiles dropped the phone on the table, frowning even more. “I mean, yes, there are a few rogue agents in SHIELD but they’re only hostile towards the agency—Chase, think about it, what possible motives would they have to destroy the balance of the world?” 

“Look, Stiles, I want to help, I do. But I honestly don’t know.” Chase rubbed his temples as if the thought physically hurts him. “And frankly, I don’t care about motive—this needs to stop.” 

Detecting the hostile tone in his words, Stiles backed in his chair, hands still precariously holding the phone. “What does that mean exactly?” 

“It means that I won’t be responsible for what happens when this gets out.” 

“Chase.” Stiles tried to smile in hopes of easing the man’s growing tension. “We can’t jump to conclusion, we still don’t know a lot of things.” 

“Stiles, every kind of supernatural creature we know of are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They are going to be looking for retribution.” Chase inched closer to Stiles over the table, his hands grasped tightly in a fist on the table. “Especially now that the Nemeton is in such a state.” 

Unafraid to back down, Stiles inched closer on his own. “We don’t know if SHIELD is responsible for that, and let’s not condemn the entire agency for the actions of a few agents; that’s one hell of a generalization.” 

“You said it yourself, SHIELD is compromised—you can’t trust any one of them, Stiles.” 

I’m one of them.”

With that, both of them settled in their emotions. Things like these shouldn’t be hashed out with unstable feelings and instead rational thoughts, but it’s easier said than done. Stiles sighed.

“Okay, please. Chase, I’m begging you, don't tell anyone yet.” He tapped the table softly so that the man would look at him, but somehow the tired gaze in his eyes was worse than the anxious smile he had in the beginning of their meeting. “Give me a day—I’ll figure it out.” 

Stiles knew it was a huge debate in Chase’s mind. A prophet like him was used to knowing outcomes or at least parts of it—he can’t imagine what the man must feel like when he can’t see anything. Nevertheless, Chase nodded to his favor. 

“But if you don’t, one way or another, there will be a full-scale war of the supernatural against SHIELD.” Stiles watched the man stood up from his seat, his hands reaching out to firmly grip his shoulder before he left, in a manner Stiles wasn’t sure what to make as. “Make sure you’re on the right side of it.”

 

~~~

 

Slipping through the entrance, missing the unusual amount of personnel in the tower, Stiles took the elevator up to the roof. He took a quick look around to check that the rooftop was clear and whipped his phone out, dialing the only number he had saved from his old phone. 

Waiting for the call to connect, he sat on one of the benches strewn around the place. This was a mess—his head hurts, he’s exhausted and his muscles fucking aching isn’t really helping either. 

“Hello?”

Stiles almost sighed in utter happiness when he hears the voice. “That’s a voice for sore ears.” 

The well-aged deep voice could be heard chocking through his spit before finally uttering a “Stiles?!” 

“Missed you too, Uncle Creeper.” 

“Jesus, where are you?” Stiles laughed at the worried tone Peter adopted once he confirmed. “Are you okay? Why didn’t you call me?!” 

“I’m calling you now aren’t I?” Running a hand through his unkempt hair, Stiles leaned on his hands behind him. “Believe me, I almost didn’t.”

Peter sounds as demanding as always. “Why?”

“After what happened with Malia, you left. And I figured that I couldn’t drag you back in this mess, you sounded happy the last time you checked in and you deserved it.” 

“Being happy?” The older man scoffed from his end. “I’m back in Beacon Hills, so I was dragged back in regardless.” 

Stiles smiled at the unchanging satire in the man’s language. “How is it?” 

“Well, happiness was fun while it lasted.” An understanding laugh later, Peter rubbed his lips with his palms before broaching the subject. “Stiles, I’m so sorry about the pack—they shouldn’t have—“

Hell, no. “Peter. You know why I called.” Stiles internally praised the guy for his knack of picking up undertones. “I’m going to skip over your blatant idiocy of handling things in home sweet home because that place is a hell hole all on it’s own.” 

Peter winced, remembering the content of the last two-day revelation. “Jackson’s told me. I’ve seen it for myself, and I’m sorry.” 

“Apologizing is not a good colour on you, Peter. Stop it.” Stiles wasted no time on getting onto his motives, because he really has none to spare. “Do you know what caused it?”

“No, I’m afraid I don’t.”

He figured it wasn’t going to be that easy but it still sucks to be given nothing. “I need to know if you’ve seen anyone suspicious recently in Beacon Hills.” 

The older werewolf rolled his eyes so hard, Stiles could almost hear it. “Someone suspicious in Beacon Hills—that narrows it down to about everyone.” 

Stiles rolled the words in his tongue, being very careful with his word choice. “Someone official—perhaps affiliated with a certain clandestine agency.” 

“Stiles. What have you gotten yourself into?” 

Ignoring the question because he himself didn't know exactly the answer to that question, Stiles pushed on further. “Well, is there?” 

“I don’t think so, no—why?” 

Weird. “Has anything been happening back in Beacon?” 

“No. Not anything out of the ordinary.”

Even weirder. “Nothing?”

“I’d take that with a bit more positivity, knowing our history with unpleasant situations.” 

The scene of the crime, or the city in this case, was completely unaffected by the disastrous state of the Nemeton. Stiles swore that Beacon Hills would be ground zero for all things catastrophic when he found out about the Nemeton—which was why he found it completely ridiculous that no one’s noticed, but now he knew why.

The more he finds out about it, the less it makes sense. Stiles grumbled, figuring his next move. “Peter, just be careful okay? 

Peter Hale gave him silence before he honestly replied. “Stiles, you’re starting to scare me.” 

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t.” Stiles dropped his head on his shoulders, closing his eyes to breathe. “Stay alert and find out what’s happening with the Nemeton.” 

“Stiles, you’re cuttin—“ Peter’s voice became disgruntled, static overpowering the line. Stiles took his phone away from his ear, calling out Peter’s name again only to hear static. “I can’t—Stil—“

The line cut. Stiles pulled his phone away to see that it was off, which was weird because he’d sworn to charge it fully in the morning—in a life like his, the goddamn phone was his life. Standing from his sitting position, he made for the elevator to find that it was shut down and wasn’t responding. 

“Jarvis?” 

The British-accented calm voice he expected to hear did not sound, instead he was met with silence. And that, is never a good sign.

Stiles ran to the side of the building, inching himself over the edge to see the building in it’s full prospect—but the angle just didn’t work. He leaned back inside the safety of the railing before he remembered that to his side was a million other skyscraper—one with reflective glass panels acting as mirrors. 

He ran to the west of the rooftop, bending over the railings to catch the sight reflected in the skyscraper. 

The Avengers building that once had windows as shiny and clear as other high-rise building in New York had, was now a black tower. That can only mean the place was on lockdown. 

Before he could panic, he took a step back and calmed himself. “It’s probably just nothing—it’s not like nothing’s working, electricity-wise or connection-wise, except that that’s exactly what’s happening.” 

Taking a few deep breaths, he reassured himself it’s probably just a malfunction. Right? The world can’t be that much of a dick towards him, can it? 

Except it can. And he just saw what he needed to see to confirm it. 

In the reflective panels of the buildings, the pitch black inside the tower. Except it wasn’t just inside. It was an aura around it. Shadows. Moving shadows. 

He knows those shadows. 'He' led them before. And he knows that with the building’s shutter lockdown in place, the whole damn place is plunged in darkness. Their perfect battleground.

With no escape. 

Now would be a very good time to panic.

“Fuck.” 

 

Chapter Text

This didn’t make sense, did it? Stiles kept thinking inside his brain, wrecking it for information and a way inside the tower—which he really needs to be in right now. No one has any idea what they’re up against. 

Technically speaking, there are only two creatures known to existence that takes form out of shadows and they’re both of Japanese origins; the Enenra and the Oni. Still, none of them are exactly friendly beings, he’d specifically testify for the latter. And he still has no idea what they actually do, save for what Kira’s cryptic mother told them in an even more cryptic matter, but even then he hadn’t been listening as he wasn’t exactly conscious now was he. 

He needs to warn them. They probably don’t even have the notion that they’re under supernatural attack and not military. 

 

~~~

 

When the shutters dropped down the sky windows, Thor cracked his mug and Natasha brandished the closest knife she could find. Tony exited the bathroom with his hair still dripping wet. “What the hell is going on?” 

Natasha moved forward cautiously, all their eyesights adjusting with the drastic dimming of the lights. She placed a hand on Thor’s, stopping him from calling Mjölnir. Dropping her useless phone on the table, she made a move to Tony. “Communication’s down.” 

“Electricity too.” Tony grumbled when the elevators won’t work. “Jarvis!” 

“What is it, Stark?” The Asgardian placed a hand on the man’s tense shoulder, hoping to asses the situation.

Tony Stark made a mental list of what he needed to check on to see for damage. “We got hit by an EMP.” 

“Electromagnetic pulse.” Reading Thor’s confused expression, Natasha brought it to herself to explain the technology while arming herself with a glock she pulled from her boots. “It disables all electronics and they probably put a scrambler to mess with our communications. The whole city or just us?” She directed the last at the man who was currently prying open one of the panels on the wall.

Tony served her a sarcastic look as he waved to their now opaque windows. “That’s gonna be hard to determine since I can’t see anything.” 

“Is the lockdown normally activated in cases like these?” 

Tony mulled over the question, trying to remember if it did. “No.” His eyes met Natasha’s. “This was an elaborate attempt of trapping us in here.” 

Thor let his hand drop from Tony’s shoulder, expression no longer confused but solemn. “Who?” 

Natasha’s eyes shifted from Tony’s features to behind him, her instincts recognizing something off. With the darkness that surrounded them, she narrowed her eyes to focus on the seemingly empty space. Before it moved. “Not who, what.” She clocked her gun in a split second before firing at Tony. “Duck!” 

Luckily for him, Tony’s used to getting things pelted at him at a dangerously high critical speed (mostly by Pepper but also by his enemies), so he dodged the bullet in time. “Nat!” He shouted when he saw the gun was still aimed at him before he had the idea to turn around.

“Uh, did we travel back in time and not—“ Tony couldn’t even finish his sentence when he had a samurai katana swinging at him, nearly missing his head. “Woah!” 

While Tony jumped out of the way, Natasha fired another shot at the dark masked samurai. Only now they all saw that the bullet simply passed through their body; the body mass parting way for the bullet to fly by and hit the reinforced double paneled glass behind it. 

“Okay, that’s definitely new.” Tony’s eyes tracked the movement of the creature, that seemed to be smoking dark clouds. He made a move to run to Natasha’s side but stopped when the dark mist grew in front of him, and from the shadows, another one emerged. Then another one. 

Natasha slipped her hands behind her jeans to pull out another loaded gun, pointing it at the opposition of Tony while Thor reached his hands out. Tony clicked his tongue, putting on the detecting bracelets with minimal movements, wary of the opposition. The tell-tale magnetic ringing of Mjölnir could be heard deafeningly in the the silence, followed by the loud clash of things breaking in it’s path. 

Tony activated the bracelets and stood still, waiting for it to come to him. “Where’s Banner?” 

Natasha winced at the sound of the ceiling two floors above them breaking. “With Steve.” 

The shadows moved forwards in one synchronized step, the three Avengers instinctively taking a step back. Tony fanned his arms out, the bracelet lighting up in red blinking shine. “Any smart ideas on how to fight smoke?” 

They watched all three of the shadows poising in a strike position with their katanas raised.  Thor tilted his body down in preparation to strike back. “Just.” He felt mjölnir’s power coming closer, his hands stretching to have it in his hold. “Keep.” Natasha trailed her fingers on the trigger. “On.” Mjölnir broke through the wall and flew into Thor’s grasp, he smirked. “Fighting.” 

Thor shifted on his legs, dropping down to his knees to slide down from the swing of the sword and tried to knock the creature’s footing loose but his hammer passed right through the limb. 

Tony ducked an attack directed at him, his body pushed backward from the suit attaching to his body part-by-part. He twisted his body to blast a repulser at the shadow, only for it to go through and hit the TV instead. 

The shadow dropped the sword at Natasha, backflipping dangerously close to the shine of the bad before gripping the handle of the sword and placing the gun right at it’s head and shooting. 

All three of the Avengers stopped their actions when the bullet simply ricocheted against the eerie ceramic mask they were wearing. Natasha made a face at the faceless shadow. “Really? Nothing?” 

Tony thrusted forward in the air to pick Natasha up and away from the deadly retaliation from the shadow. Hovering in the air, dropping Natasha back on her feet to land a kick on another shadow. 

“This might be a problem.” He quipped, pulsing blasts aimed uselessly at the shadows who kept evading them. 

Thor frowned, raising his arms up, his hammer sparking with electricity. “Enough!” The walls licked with the lightning generated from the thundering tell-tale sounds of dark clouds outside the tower, Tony biting his weep for the amount of repair from the damage about to be made, catching Natasha mid-air from her jump. 

Then he swung down—lightings striking from the ground to every inch of the place—filtering the place with blue-white light. But instead of taking damage from the expensive lightning, the shadows disappeared into the dark. 

Tony landed back on his feet with Natasha by his side and a confused Thor in front of him. The quiet silence an ironically loud presence in the destruction of their common floors. 

“What the hell just happened?” 

 

~~~

 

Steve was too late when he threw one of Banner’s metal bars to the closing doors, hoping to block it. Banner was too shocked from the sudden darkness and the sound of the metal shutters raining down the window of his lab on the 3rd floor.

“Are we under attack?” Banner calmly processed, grabbing his phone to find it pitch black and unresponsive. “Nothing’s working.” 

Banging at the door, Steve tried to use his strength to wrench it open. Bruce waved a hand for him to stop. “Those are magnetically locked, you have better chances breaking the window.” 

Steve ran a hand through his hair. One thought in his mind. “Where’s Stiles?” 

Bruce stopped in trying to make the electronics work to spare Steve a questioning look, suspiciously laced with a smirk. “Stiles?” 

“Yes.” Steve paced to the elevator, jamming his button into it. 

“He just got back so probably in his room?” Bruce leaned on one of his lab counters, toying with a gadget. “Why?” 

Steve pinned Bruce with a knowing look, but Bruce kept on with a knowing smirk of his own. Most of the building had figured the soft spot the Captain had for the boy, even though he kept his identity a secret from him.

“Steve, if you don’t mind me asking.” Bruce tried his hardest to focus his gaze on their leader even in the dark. “Why won’t you tell him?” 

The captain stood still in his pacing, dreading the time when his team mates were gonna pop the question. “This really isn’t a good time for that, Bruce. We could be in danger.” 

“We’ll deal with the threat if it comes, but now’s a good a time as any.” Banner tread carefully to the man in question, trying to intimidate the answer out of him when they felt something in the atmosphere change. 

Out of all the Avengers, besides the apparent God, Steve and Bruce had the most heightened sense as they were admittedly a lab experiment. Thus when their eyes met, they immediately turned to the direction of the disruption in the air.

“What was that about a good time?” Steve harshly whispered at the doctor, his panic doubling in the amount for the boy who could be alone in the middle of whatever the hell this is. 

Bruce chose to ignore the sarcasm for a more technical approach to the uncanny being they were facing. “Where’s your shield?” 

Steve nearly rolled his eyes, a habit he picked up from being around his team too long. “We were researching on supernatural creatures and their abilities, why would I bring my shield?” 

The two entities in front of them moved to unsheathe their swords—to which Bruce and Steve shared a look on—and took a step towards them. “Is this a code green?”

Steve grabbed Bruce’s upper arm and moved backwards. “We’re inside the tower.” 

“You didn’t answer my question.” 

Before answering his question, Steve grabbed the closest thing he could—a microscope—and threw it towards the samurai demonic beings. To both their surprise, the object permeated through them and landed on the ground with a harsh crack. 

Steve shrugged, face contorted with panic. “Maybe.”

 

~~~

 

“Ow, fuck.” Stiles yelped in pain when stubbed his toe in the dark enclosed space he was in. His curse echoed through the narrow abyss. 

Without a better plan on getting inside, he pried the elevator door open—which he spent the last hour alone doing, with the help of a lot of boulders that dented the doors enough for it to leave a gap for which Stiles could squeeze his body mass into. 

He nearly fell to his death entering the empty elevator shaft but quickly found his footing on the side ladder of the shaft. Stiles should really think about his plans thoroughly before he decides to execute it. 

But at this point, he really doesn’t care. The world won’t let him die anyways, it enjoys tormenting him more than eternal sleep—and it needs him to be alive in order to do that. That’s the only upside of everything. 

Through the echoes within the shaft, he could hear the attack unfolding in their 10th floor common room and the shouts down further on the SHIELD working floors below the top fifteen floors that belonged specifically to the Avengers. He reached the 10th floor faster than he expected, but scaling down 5 floors in a dark ass tiny never-ending shaft is fucking hard. 

“I hope this fucking works.” Stiles conjured his flames, his hands lighting up underneath the skin like magma was flowing in his body. He placed his palm out on the metal and let it his hands flame. 

The metal started to melt underneath his palms, Stiles moving his hand to draw a circle on the elevator doors. He removed his hand and retracted his magic before jumping and catching the bar above the doors. Stiles swung back, nearly crying at carrying his full bodyweight with his arms alone—he knew he should’ve done more pull-ups—, and slammed his foot into the circle with the momentum, sliding his body through the new hole. 

No matter what they did, the damn things just kept coming back. None of them knew why it disappeared the first time but it reappeared just as soon as it did. Tony jumped at the sudden flying circle metal that was previously his elevator doors. He doesn’t even know why he bothered repairing the tower countless times to have it destroyed in various ways again and again. 

“Little spark, watch out!” Thor called out a warning but Stiles ignored him.

He got up from his drop, staring the Onis down right in their sinister mask. A shuddery breath escaped his lips, but he couldn’t afford to break down now. But the tickle down his spine came back and he was back in that dark hole.

Tony saw Stiles froze. Acting quickly, he threw a blast at the creature quickly approaching the boy before dropping down in front of him. He faced the boy, metal hands on his shoulder to shake him out of it. 

Stiles came back to the sight of Tony in his IronMan gear. Closing his eyes at the rush of memories coming back, he barred up a wall in his mind and pulled at his fire once more. 

“Light!” Stiles shouted while throwing his hands in front of him, lighting the ceiling above him on fire—the stark brightness from the flames causing the Oni’s matter to falter. “They can’t fight in the light!” 

Thor caught up on his idea and swinging his hammer to gather the lightning once more before directing it upwards like Stiles—taking advantage of the metal paneled ceilings to act as conductors to keep the electric currents running enough to power the lights. 

As soon as the lights lit up and flooded the room with actual light, Stiles stopped and blew out the flames with a spell for a rush of air. Natasha dropped into one of the surviving stools while Tony flipped back his mask. 

“Where have you been?” Tony crossed his arms. 

“Seriously, that’s the first thing you say to me after all that?” Stiles let his arms fly wide, scowling at the elder, but answered his question regardless. “On the rooftop, I was dealing with something.” 

Thor clapped his back suddenly, causing him to nosedive into the floor. “Splendid job, little spark!” 

Natasha laughed at the boy’s weak stance, reaching down from her stall to help him up and pat him down. “How’d you know the light was the trick?”

Stiles tried very hard to not let that damage his pride, coughing from the fall. “Silver.” He got back his bearings and tried to shake the fear out of his system, simultaneously ignoring Natasha’s question. “We need silver.” 

Tony held back his remarks about what happened in the fight. “Silver?”

“It’s the only way to kill them—pure silver in any form.” Stiles walked back to the ruined elevator doors, looking back. “I have a few silver bullets in my room.” 

Natasha frowned at the statement and the backhand she got at her previous question, Stiles almost felt sorry but he just couldn’t take a trip down memory lane—ever. “Why do you have silver bullets?” 

“Precautions like these.” Stiles snipped the truth short, but all three of them noticed the tone of the answer. Hoping to rid the suspicion, Stiles strong balled it. “Well, anyone coming?” 

Natasha stood from her seat, moving towards Thor. “Take Tony with you, I’ll take this one here to company me up to 14th floor.” 

Tony nodded, pushing Stiles to move. “They’re going to try and turn the backup generator on for the lights.” He turned back to Natasha. “Oh, and if that doesn’t work, try shutting down the lockdown protocol—get the windows open.”

With that, Tony picked Stiles up in a bridal carry. Which, by the fucking way, hurts his manly pride because it’s a fucking bridal carry. Before Stiles could complain however, Tony pushed his thrusters and flew through the whole and descended down the shaft, slowly

“You’re totally doing this so you can embarrass me aren’t you?” Stiles accused the man, fully knowing that he could just fly down faster. 

Tony smirked down at him. “Maybe.” He decreased his thruster power, making them descend even slower than before, proving Stiles’ point. “But also, don’t you think it’s weird?” 

Stiles frowned. “Yes, I’m a fully grown adult male getting carried by another fully grown adult male for the purpose of ego bloating on your part and emasculation on my part.” Tony leveled him with a serious expression, causing him to adopt a similar one. “It is. The supernatural invasion, I get. But the lockdown protocol, the EMP and the scrambler—it’s an inside attack directed at SHIELD, specifically the Avengers.” 

“We need to tell Fury. SHIELD is compromised, and it runs deep judging from what just happened.” Tony stopped at the 6th floor mark, shifting Stiles to a one-arm carry—which impossibly made it more embarrassing and he knew it from the smirk that grew on his lips. He aimed his laser at the door and did the same exact thing Stiles did. 

Stiles let Tony work, but his mind kept racing at something. The scenario was as they discussed it was. But there was something with the whole timing that didn’t make sense. He just couldn’t figure out what it was. 

When Tony got the doors open, he manhandled Stiles through the opening like some fucking artifact on display—it was dehumanizing, really. He growled at Tony, but the man just smiled at him. 

Down the shaft, they heard an actual growl, familiarly loud and reverberating down their bones. Tony and Stiles shared a look of panic. “Is that—?” 

“God, I hope not.” Tony cursed under his breath in vain—knowing full well the extent of the damage his tower will be in, once more. “I’ll deal with it.” 

Tony disappeared down the shaft while Stiles conjured a ball of fire in his palms to light the short hallway to Clint’s and his door. He spared a glance at Clint’s door before heading to his own opposite of it. 

Breaking the door open with a blast of concentrated air force, he rushed to his room. Grabbing one of the boxes aside, he opened it to find the wooden box. 

His hand trailed the triskelion sketched into the wood, forcing the miserable hiccup down his throat. Opening the box to find all of his 30 rounds of silver bullets perfectly in place, his eyes stopped at the cloth at the edge. 

Stiles picked it out of the box and unveiled it in his palms. He took a moment to sink down to his knees. Hands trembling as he grasped the object in his palms—hard enough to draw blood. 

A silver arrowhead. 

It was impossible, but Stiles swore he heard the sweet laughter of the huntress he’d grown to love and grieved to lose. It was your fault. The melodious sound rang in his ears, the only clear sound from the deafening noise of his blood rushing. 

Before he completely succumbed to a panic attack, a loud ping echoed through the room. Stiles blinked from his reverie, harshly wiping the unshed tears from his eyes. He looked around and went to his table, the single source of light in the darkness. 

It was the satellite phone Coulson gave him—in case of emergency only. 

Now he knew. The incessant bone-chilling feeling he got at the beginning of all this wasn’t due to the Oni or the deep trail of traitors inside SHIELD. Although maybe a part of it was. 

But, definitely not what he thought it would be. 

The text was short, brief. As if it was sent in a hurry—just enough time to evade something or for it to come through. Coulson was always straight to the point, but he would at least call instead of text. 

“Found buried in SHIELD servers. Be careful.” 

There was a file attached, a link to a server. Stiles pressed it on instinct, not knowing what to expect. 

Back then, if he hadn’t clicked that file, he could’ve avoided everything that will happen. He could’ve lived under the pretense that maybe everything was mutually exclusive and stayed ignorant towards the blatant discrepancy of dangers few people live to know exist but still suffer through. 

But still, if he had known what pressing the file would’ve done to him, he’d still have opened it regardless. It was wired into him. After everything, he’d be damned to let this happen or at the very least try to stop it.

Maybe it was him seeking penance for all he’s done. But it didn’t matter. 

He pressed it. 

His satellite phone screen went black. At first Stiles thought that it was a virus, but then the screen turned back on with data lines and finally stopped at boxes with alternating letters that finally made up the sentence;

OUT OF THE SHADOWS, INTO THE LIGHT

Stiles laced his brows in confusion, this was in the SHIELD servers. Before he could question anything, his breath left him in a rush after getting his answer when the screen changed to a five letter box that slowly revealed the source;

 HYDRA

 

Chapter Text

New York City has been subjected to many horrors in the span of a short time—the center of an alien invasion, a supernatural invasion and the occasional run of the mill crime. When that happens, they were handed a solution: SHIELD. And then came the Avengers, along with every other nightmare that came true for any working adult. The Avengers tower was considered somewhat of a beacon of hope. That exact beacon of hope was now a shadow in the midst of civilization. A dark black mass of fog swirling the tower, clinging on the walls that was blocked off by metallic shutters. 

New York City was in a panic, yes, but Washington D.C. was a catastrophe.

 

~~~

 

Stiles stood frozen in his tracks, holding the wall for support as he exited his room. Hydra. Stiles cursed. Hydra is in SHIELD. He didn’t know how deep the breach was. He didn’t know what’s happening, especially now that Hydra might be the one behind this attack—that means there are Hydra personnel inside the Avengers tower. Maybe had been there all along. 

Fuck. He wasn’t going to panic, no. 

A plan. He needed a plan. A plan and a team. Stiles calmed his breathing, bracing himself on the busted doors of the elevator. Logically, to fight multiple enemies in a situation this complicated, one would need a solid team. 

But the question remain, now that Hydra finally released the trojan horse, there’s no knowing how to tell SHIELD from Hydra apart. Stiles held his breath in an attempt to slow his rapidly inclining heart rate, lifting himself over the hole and back inside the deep shaft. 

Who the hell can he trust?

 

~~~

 

Tony stood from his position, bent over Bruce who was struggling with his breath. Steve kneeled to pick up a fallen chunk of wall blocking the busted elevator doors, sighing as he did so. Stark silently took in Steve’s condition—he was holding off the Hulk without his vibranium shield, the man was lucky to only attain bruises from the debacle. 

“Thanks for this.” Steve shrugged the shield slung over one shoulder, tending to his arm with a fast-acting medicinal spray that Banner specifically concocted for super-soldier injuries. 

“Not a problem, Cap.” 

Steve tossed a salve to Tony who got a scratch on his face trying to put the Hulk to sleep, pacing his way to the elevator. “Where’s Stiles?” 

“He’s fine.” Tony stopped the blonde by pressing back against his chest. “He’s getting weaponry suited to fight the creepy Japanese shadows.”

“What were those things?” Steve forced himself to restrain his panic for the lone boy in the tower infested by those things. “We can’t seem to land a decent attack.” 

“We’re hoping Stiles could fix that. He said something about silver bullets.” Tony off-handedly replied to Steve’s question, still tending to Bruce who was down for the count. “For now, we’ll just have to light this place—“ 

The broken elevator doors burst open even more, sending one of the door flying between Steve and Tony, barely avoiding Bruce. Stiles jumped through, his phone in one hand and a box tucked under his arm. Disheveled and panic-struck, he went straight for Tony. 

“Tony, have you seen this?” He shoved the phone at the man’s face, still catching the older men off guard. “This is so much worse than we—“ 

Before he could finish the sentence, or anyone could reply, Stiles noticed his surroundings. The place was ripped apart, dents on every wall and overhead lights busted though force of strength. Bruce was curled in the corner with withdrawals, Tony’s ironman suit had seen better days and Steve—Steve was standing there, bruised and battered, with a look of relief fondness in his eyes directed at Stiles. 

But all Stiles saw was the red, white and blue star-spangled shield on his arm. 

“Steve?” 

The man frowned at the curious yet slightly affronted tone Stiles spoke with before he realized his eyes were staring at his arm. Steve snapped his eyes back up at Stiles’ face who was looking straight at him. “Stiles, I—“ 

Tony and Bruce were watching from the sidelines with a small grin ready to break out into full laughter, expecting the revelation to incite a hilarious shock and episode that will last them decades of embarrassment. 

What they weren’t expecting, was for Stiles to suddenly take a step back, shaking his head vehemently. When Steve approached him to try and assess the problem, Stiles ran back to the elevator and fled with a burst of wind. 

Confused and hurt, Steve looked at Tony for help. But Tony just about had the same amount of answers he did, maybe even less. 

 

~~~

 

Fuck. Stiles levitated himself up and into the common floor, depleted from his energy of using his weakest element frequently. He stumbled into the side of the kitchen island, a hand on the cold marbles surface for support. Jesus Fucking Christ. 

Steve Bookworm was Steve Rogers. 

As in Captain holymotherfucker America, Steve Rogers. 

Stiles breathlessly laughed in heightened panic, not knowing how else to react. There can’t be any other explanation than that. Other than that he was ridiculously fucking obliviously stupid for goodness' sakes. (Blond charming well-mannered Steve Bookworm living in the Avengers Tower managing the Avengers was Steve Rogers, the hunk of America. Who fucking knew?)

Steve lied to him. 

But why?

There was no reason he’d lie to him, right? If it was change of behavior that he was worried about, he’d seen Stiles react to the entire Avengers ensemble the same way he did to himself, so what else could there be—

Unless.

Stiles shook his head. No, that can’t be. He fished his phone out, trying Coulson’s direct number a few times only to receive nothing. Tapping a quick code sequence to access the SHIELD headquarters frequency on radio waves to intercept any news or command, he listened in. 

The crackled voice echoed loudly in the darkness of the floor. He kept the phone pressed tightly to his ear. 

“Captain America is now a wanted fugitive from SHIELD. I repeat, any and all personnel are to apprehend him as fast as possible. Captain America is compromised. I repea—“ 

Locking his phone to stop the connection, Stiles let his phone drop to the floor. Fuckity fucking fuck. His breath caught in his throat, lungs burning with it. 

“Stiles?” 

Fuck. The uncoordinated spark fell to the floor with the sudden voice, recognizing it. 

“Stiles?” The man repeated.

Stiles scrambled on the floor to get up but couldn’t from the sudden move the man made to help him—or attack him—so he shouted. “Don’t touch me!” 

Steve retracted his hand back in shock. “Stiles, what’s wrong?” Tony flew in behind him, back-carrying Bruce who went in before him. 

“Stay back!” His voice sounded painful even to his own ears. 

Tony gently dragged Steve by his elbows backwards, slowly approaching Stiles in the process. “Stiles.” He made his voice a pitch lower and softer, a comforting tone. “Calm down, it’s me—Tony.” 

Stiles snapped his eyes up into Tony’s, his speedy backward crawling slowed down just a tiny bit to shakily whisper his name. “Tony.” 

Stark nodded, getting closer with his arms up in an unharmed pose. “Yes, that’s right. We’re all scared here, it’s okay.” 

Rushing his words, Stiles coughed at his tongue shoving itself in his throat. He opted for movements instead, rapidly shaking his head and widening his eyes as a warning to Tony to stay away from Steve. 

But what if he had gotten the message and was still defending Steve?

That could mean that Tony’s in on it. 

Is he?

Crap. He can’t figure this out. What he wouldn’t do to replace this problem with a fucking rogue werewolf. Fuck, he never thought he’d say it, but he missed his old life’s simple problems. 

“Little Spark?” Thor crashed through the elevator, meeting the scene with a wary expression, having heard the commotion with his sensitive ears. Tony looked shock to see him there, to which he promptly explained. “Natasha’s getting the power back on, but it’s going to take a minute or two.” 

If Tony is in on it, then what about Bruce. What about Thor? He couldn't fight a god even with all the firepower in the world. Natasha or Clint? They were SHIELD agents, that means they’ve probably gotten the directive. Clint. Right, where was he? 

“Stiles?” Bruce tried.

In fact, everybody tried. His name was mentioned in so many different tone and volume to reach him, it sounded like a live auction. Stiles couldn’t handle it. 

“Stop!” Stiles held his hands in front of him, a wave of harsh wind forcing them all backwards at least 5 steps. “Go away. All of you!” 

Steve pushed through Tony to meet him directly. “What’s wrong, Stiles?” 

He nearly scoffed. The man should consider a job in acting from the way his brows scrunch of worry for him. 

“Stiles, please talk to me. What did we do?” Steve tried again, desperate for why the boy they’d grown to adore was behaving this way. 

“What did you do?” Stiles incredulously questioned them, in a hushed rushed tone. “You pompous bastard, are you still going to play ignorant?”

Everyone took a moment to reel in their shock, especially Natasha who slid into the room from the elevator at that moment, this was the first time the boy had ever said an insult and mean it. This was without the sassy sarcastic bright implication—it was spiteful and loud. 

When no one answered, Stiles took the moment to trudge on further, unable to keep his rage. He was sick of it, of being betrayed. 

“You fucking lied to me.” 

After a small momentary silence, Steve spoke out. “I’m sorry.” He hung his head. “I’m sorry for not telling you, I didn’t mean for you to find out this way.” 

Stiles clapped in a sardonic manner, unable to comprehend how confident the man would be in trying to redirect his attention by a show of weakness. “Will someone give this man an Oscar?” 

“Stiles, please.” Steve sounded so desperate, Stiles almost believed him. 

But he knew better. Fuck, he was just too fucking soft. You’d think being shunned out once was enough to make him wary enough to avoid another situation of being blindsided but guess again. In the life of Stiles Stilinski, up is down and down is nowhere to be found—because logic was fucking nonexistent. “You kept that a secret from me, what else?”

“Stiles, what are you saying?” Tony came forward to try and help him, but it only adds assurance to the scenario Stiles had already formed in his head. 

This doesn’t make any sense. Why was Tony helping him?! He should’ve seen the message inside the SHIELD servers. And Natasha, she should’ve been aware of the new command against Steve. The reasonable explanation would be that—

"No." Stiles’s voice broke in a hoarse crack, walking backwards one slow pained step at a time. "You're in on it too."

Without leaving any time for them to defend themselves, Stiles continued. 

“Was this the plan all along? Dragging me into this for my knowledge of the supernatural, was that it?” At this point, he doesn’t even care if he sounds desperate. He just wanted a slither of honesty, was that really too much to ask? “Fuck. Chase was right.” 

“Stiles—“

“When did it start, huh, Steve?” Facing his betrayal towards him, Stiles winced. “Fury's office? Triskelion? The bookstore?” 

Steve stood there, taking all of the rage Stiles threw at him. And he took it with a soft understanding yet confused expression—and that just wasn’t fair. 

“Was I that easy to lure that all you’d need to do is flash a smile and gush about Dr. Seuss with your unbelievably ridiculously over-flowing charm?”

Even Bruce, the least judgmental from them all, was looking at Stiles like he was a mad man—and he was certainly starting to feel like it. 

“Please.” Sighing, Stiles just gave up. “Please just tell me this isn’t true.” 

Still, all he got was silence. Deafening painfully loud and damning silence. 

“Tell me!”

Steve jostled by the sudden scream. “I—“

“Stiles! This is crazy! Steve would never do that!“ Tony tried to reason with him, moving closer to Stiles. 

But Stiles kept his attention at Steve, who was looking even more confused by the second. “Stiles. I’m lost. You need to tell me what’s going on.” 

“You’re HYDRA!” Stiles shouted, breaking the damn of controlling his emotional outburst because he's not exactly subtle if anyone hadn't noticed. “For fuck’s sake, it’s him, Tony! The 10th level operative we’re trying to track.” 

“Wait, Tony?” Natasha immediately shifted her attention to the man who was as shocked as everyone else at the accusation. 

“It’s a long story.” Tony waved Natasha off dismissively, turning back to Stiles. “What do you mean Hydra?” 

Natasha kept persisting, taking a more hostile attempt as she placed her hand on the gun at her belt. “Make it short.”

Tony scowled at the demanding agent, narrowing one eye at her. “Aren’t you supposed to be getting the power back on?”

“It’ll take five minutes to reboot.” The woman inched closer to the man that was suddenly avoiding the question. “Tony.”

To be fair, Stiles felt a tid-bit guilty for outing their mission, but he couldn’t care less if it was all for nil. 

Tony let out a grieving sigh, rubbing his eyes and gesturing at Natasha. “We found the base cause of the constant attacks against SHIELD, linked it to a level 10 operative inside of SHIELD. Long story short, your agency of secrecy has more secrets than you bargained for.” He swiveled back to Stiles. “Now, what the hell is this about Hydra?” 

“And you didn’t think to tell us?” Natasha was indignant in her voice, tilting her head accusingly towards the two perpetrators. 

“Well, we were investigating any compromised agents within SHIELD. You didn’t really fit the profile for our team.” Tony snarked at her, pissed at the interruption he keeps getting under. “For the love of god, can we please get back to Hydra!” 

Natasha frowned at him, then at Stiles. “There’s nothing to go back to. They’re gone.”

Words won’t help him, Stiles knew that. So he simply sent the server link Coulson sent him to Tony, who projected his screen phone into a hologram so everyone could see the hidden message routing and cycling inside the SHIELD buried servers. 

“No.” Steve let his mouth gape apart inch by inch, discombobulated by the irrefutable proof yet still refusing it. “This isn’t possible.” 

“Coulson sent me that.” Stiles knew that would solidify the accusation, but they didn’t seem guilty. Granted, they were all different degrees of shocked. But it wasn’t of being outed or exposed—it was genuine shock. “Those traitors we discovered in SHIELD, they’re Hydra.” 

“Sleeper agents.” Tony concluded. “But why would you think Steve was Hydra?” 

Stiles switched the connection back online on his phone, letting the narrative run for itself from the automated command on a cycle. “How was I not supposed to?” 

The expression between the Avenger’s features darkened minutely, synchronized in their alert and speed in which they all looked at one another. 

Bruce surged forward, grabbing the phone from his hands to listen to the announcement at length. “Stiles. Where did you get this?”

“The intercom over at Triskelion.” Stiles was beyond perplexed, not knowing what to believe even though he really really wanted to believe them. “What does it—“ 

Tony lifted his head from the bow it had, going over the command. “That’s not SHIELD. That’s Hydra.” 

Natasha caught up with his train of thought quickly, nodding to her points. “That’s why they targeted us and put us on lockdown. Why they released this message now. Why they set off the EMP.” She shared a knowing look to Tony, who urged her to finish. “They didn’t want us to interfere.” 

Stiles raised his hands in an aborted attempt of annoyance at being left out. “Interfere with what?” 

“They’re planning a hostile takeover on the Triskelion in DC.” 

At Tony’s clarification, Stiles hung his mouth open, unable to form words or comprehension over the surprisingly logical explanation. So, that's the logical part he forgot to take account for. He knew he was missing a piece of the puzzle but—

“Not planning.” A new voice entered their constant revelation, dropping in from one of the vents. “It’s already happening.” 

Tony chocked. "What?"

“Clint.” Natasha spared a smile at him, glad to see that he’s uninjured. “You missed out on a lot.” 

Dropping a gravely damaged StarkPad, Clint reached over to Stiles and briefly hugged him. “Got caught up fighting off some thugs who realized I recalibrate this to analog signal to spy in on the Triskelion. Turns out they were Hydra agents inside SHIELD; there’s an all-out war in Triskelion between them and SHIELD; our agents have no clue that Hydra’s back and are very much confused and torn between following Alexander Kirk’s command or staying loyal to the Captain.”

Stiles struggled to lift his head under Clint’s hold, but Clint got the message and let Stiles go to an arm’s distance. The archer heard the heat of the battle from the echoes through the ventilation shafts. “It’s Alexander Kirk. We’re not hydra, kid.” 

The boy was pulled from Clint’s arms to face Steve—in very close proximity with very strong arms on both his shoulders. Stiles could see the unfiltered look of complete honesty and transparency in Steve’s eyes that he nearly keeled over. 

“Stiles. I went in the ice because of them.” Steve searched his eyes for confirmation of his understanding. He stated firmly. “I am not Hydra.” 

Natasha smirked, a playful snide shared between her and Clint. “Besides, he’s not even a level 10 operative, Stiles.” 

Steve took the remark with a chuckle, and boy, does that affect Stiles. “If I were, I’d gladly let you accuse me and place me back under.” 

Staring and falling into Steve’s clear blue eyes so painfully filled with honor, Stiles nodded absentmindedly. Even in the darkness, it shone through Stiles’ heart like an arrow. 

Arrow. Right. 

“Wait, Hydra being behind the lockdown and EMP, I can understand.” Stiles mulled it over out-loud, unwilling to let go of Steve’s hold over his arm but turned to face the rest anyway. “But the Oni, that can’t be a coincidence—what does that have to do with Hydra?” 

“Oni?” Bruce stood up in his stupor, stretching his back into place from the recent transformation, rightfully attentive to the disturbing notion the question was getting at. “What the hell is an Oni?” 

Stiles froze, detecting the drop in the atmosphere before they could even appear. He’s way too familiar with it. He raised a finger, pointing behind the Avengers. “That.” 

Each of them pulled their weapons out before they turned, facing the ominous Japanese shadows with nothing short of determination—even knowing that they couldn’t possibly kill them. Stiles looked around to spot the bullets on the ground next to the kitchen island, having left there after his panic. Stupiiiiiid. 

His life was stupid. 

The attack began on their side, Tony blasting off repulser shots to light up the room, but his suit was damaged so badly that he couldn’t get one bright enough. Natasha assisted in front of Bruce along with Clint—they couldn’t afford a green disaster the second time around. Thor relentlessly tried to hammer the fuck out of them but constantly failed to do so. 

Sties. Well, Stiles was just stuck at his feet. Steve stopped his shield that ricochetted back to him to move into Stiles’ vision line—his eyes two worried blue orbs. Stiles noticed his own erratic breathing and then noticed his hand being pulled up onto Steve’s then straight on his chest. 

“Wha-“

“Listen to my heartbeat.” Steve calmly spoke in the middle of the chaos. “Breathe.” 

Stiles could feel the strong thrumming of the super soldier’s steady heartbeat. Right. He could do this. His breath slowed down, his heart steadying at it’s rhythm. He clenched Steve’s shirt once before letting go, dropping his arms to his side and walked forth. 

He ignored the warnings from the rest of the Avengers when he walked right to the group of Oni. They stopped at his approach, creepily turning their whole body to him in a synced choreograph. Steve was ready to jump in but then the Oni stood still. 

And they bowed. 

Briefly stopping in his track, Stiles took a deep breath before moving past them, ignoring the looks at his back by the Avengers. He bent down to collect the box, opening it and slugging 6 bullets into his gun. 

He settled the wooden box onto the marble island, turning back to face the Oni. He aimed and shot.

One by one. Without resistance from the Onis, each bullet cracked their mask and they burst in black dust that settled on the ground before magically sweeping away. 

Under his breath he whispered after his last shot rang through, dramatically and unexpectedly loud in the darkness. “That’s for Allison.” 

Stiles knew that their deaths weren’t exactly, well, death. They were just going to be reborn into another one—and the cycle goes on. He’ll never escape them. 

But it was poetic in a sense. And even though it wasn’t justice, not nearly anywhere close—but it was somewhere there. 

Steve was there to catch Stiles when his knees finally buckled, murmuring a soft thank you before he blacked out. The super soldier bent down to hook his arms underneath Stiles’ knees and carried his weight up. 

For all the audience in that room, Steve figured it wouldn’t hurt to softly smile at the feeling of Stiles in his arms. A warm comfort to hold and protect. 

Then the light turned on. 

And Steve looked up to find all five of his smug shit grinning team mates shooting him the sly eyed lip quirk. He rolled his eyes. 

“Fuck off.”

At the very least, Tony did looked absolutely horrified at the profanity. 

“Language!”