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They gather in the containment room as before, watching nervously as Steve and Loki enter. This time Loki positions them both well away from the device, explaining carefully to Steve that he has a better handle on the spell and can more easily locate the device’s energy now that he’s done it once.

“When we change Bruce and Natasha back I may not even need the device to be in the same room as the two of them,” Loki says brightly. “Which will be helpful considering Natasha’s current condition.”

“That’s great, Loki,” Steve says, sounding genuinely impressed.

The nauseating shimmer builds more quickly this time, and spreads to cover Loki and all of Steve without any physical contact between them. The device’s ugly green glow is also larger, but Loki and Steve are far enough away from it that Clint is able to restrain himself from rushing into the containment room to protect them.

“Christ, that thing gives me the heebie-jeebies,” Tony says with feeling.

The white flash passes so quickly over Loki that Clint almost misses it, which is all right because when it hits Steve it’s so bright Clint almost feels it as a physical blow. They all duck and cover, swearing. When Clint stands back up Captain America is in the containment room, his hand on Loki’s shoulder, once more towering over everything. Loki wobbles and has to sit down but otherwise seems fine.

Because of that, Clint is able to make a significantly more dignified entrance into the containment room, and even manages to look like he wasn’t just seriously freaking out inside a minute ago. He crouches down by Loki.

“Good job, kid,” he says. “How are you feeling?”

Loki blinks, confused. “I feel... a little strange...” he sways, and an expression of pure malice crosses his face.

“Well,” he hisses. “Is this not interesting?”

The hair on the back of Clint’s neck stands up and he jerks back instinctively. The next instant Loki sways and blinks again.

“Did it work?” he asks, confused by the horrified look on Clint’s face. “Did I do it?”